Download PDF printer friendly version of this section

6. Mystical Qabalah - Meditation Practices 1

C. Hebrew Root Mantra and the Name YHVH

As mentioned earlier, almost all the root mantra in the Mystical Qabalah involve the One Small Face Name YHVH. The Name YHVH is called the “Shem HaMeforesh” or “Brilliant Name of Fire.” It is often simply referred to as “HaShem” (lit. “The Name”), reflecting its central importance. The Name YHVH is conventionally translated in scriptures as “Lord.” Within the context of Hebrew grammar, the “word” composed of the four letters YHVH is usually cited as a future tense third person form of the verb rootOn an interesting side note, in Old Egyptian hieroglyphics, a verb root was made future tense by the addition of the glyphs equivalent to the letters Yod Heh. The ancient Hebrew pastoral nomads had considerable contact with successive Egyptian dynasties. Based on the antiquity of the active trade routes, this contact could have dated back well before the time of Abraham to the early Sumerian and Canaanite dynasties. HVH (lit. “to be”). Some regard the word as a composite that combines the past, present, and future tense forms of the verb root.

Orthodoxy has proclaimed the pronunciation of the letter-formula YHVH as a Name to be blasphemous. When the Name YHVH is encountered in the Torah or when chanting prayers, religious Jews will either pause in silence out of respect or substitute another power name, traditionally “Adonai” (lit. my Master). In the Latin Vulgate edition of the Tanakh, Jerome set the precedent of changing the pronunciation of the Yod to “J” and using the vowels from Adonai to produce the anglicized variation “Jehovah.” Jehovah is the way that most contemporary non-Jews pronounce the Name YHVH. The Name YHVH is sometimes pronounced “Yahweh,” reflecting the tradition that the High Priest in the Temple of Jerusalem made a monosyllabic pronunciation of the Name YHVH on Yom Kippur (Day of At-One-ment). The halachic prohibition specifies to avoid pronouncing the four letters of YHVH as a Name. If one is inclined to follow their prohibition, one can use the Atziluthic version wherein the letters are considered to be standing alone, and therefore pronounced individually—“Yod (as in ‘code’),” “Heh (as in ‘day’),” “Vav (as in ‘love’),” “Heh.” The “V’s” in the Vav are pronounced by gently touching the upper bicuspids to the lower lip. The Atziluthic version can be regarded as the most powerful way of pronouncing the Name, because it reflects the condition of the letters in the Sefirah Crown/Above.

Among the religions of the world, only Rabbinical Judaism does not pronounce its principal One Name of Small Face. In contrast to the rabbinical prohibition against pronouncing the letter-formula YHVH as a Name, it is interesting to note that there are a number of instances in the Torah where it specifically states that the Lord YHVH was invoked by Name. Hence, it could be inferred that it was a common practice to do so among ancient Hebrews.

“And to Seth, in turn, a son was born, and he named him Enosh. It was then that men began to invoke the Lord YHVH by Name.” (Torah B'reshith 4:26)

“From there he moved on to the hill country east of Bethel...and he built there an altar to the Lord YHVH and invoked the Lord YHVH by Name.” (Torah B'reshith 12:8)

“So he [Yitza’aq] erected an altar there [Beersheba] and invoked the Lord YHVH by Name.”
(Torah B'reshith 26:25)

Primary Mantra from the Torah

A variety of root mantra of particular importance to the mystical Qabalah are found in the Torah. Some of the most prominent ones are:

The first part of the first of the Ten Commandments: “Anokhi Yod Heh Vav Heh Elohekha” (lit. “I AM YHVH your God”). (Torah Shmoth 20:2)

A shorter version of the first Commandment: “Ani Yod Heh Vav Heh (lit. “I AM YHVH”).
(Torah Shmoth 15:26 and many other places)

The Affirmation of Unity— the “Shema” or “Shem Ayn:” “Shem AYN Yisroel Yod Heh Vav Heh Elohenu Yod Heh Vav Heh EchaD” (lit. “Name Ayn Israel YHVH our Elohim YHVH One”).
(Torah Doverim 6:4)

The Vast Face mantra at the root of Pesach (Passover): “Shomer Mah MeLylah” (literally, “Watcher WHAT of the Night”). (Isaiah 21:11)

The Vast Face mantra: “Ani Ayn” (literally “I AM the Ayn”).

The Vast Face mantra: “Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh” (literally, “I will be, THAT, I will be”). (Torah Shmoth 3:4)

To take a mantra in meditation involves repeating it silently or out loud, usually in combination with an appropriate visualization. The visualization can be “seen” in the heart center Sefirah Beauty/Last (approximately at the thoracic cavity), or in front of the eyes. One can perform the visualization with eyes closed or open. It was cited that “Brilliant Name of Fire” (Shem HaMeforesh) is a descriptive title for the Name YHVH. Hence, in using a root mantra centered upon the Name YHVH, the process of creative imagination is used to visualize the Name as “dancing letters of fire” against a solid black, circular background. One can visualize the Ezra Hebrew Name or the Sinatic Hebrew Name in this manner. The black circular background represents the Contraction (Tzimtzum). The black circular background can be placed against a light blue background as the negatively existent Endless Light.

Unlike the Practical and Levitical Qabalah, the Mystical Qabalah is fluid. Within certain parameters, it allows considerable flexibility in the choice of practices and how they are performed. While we are all familiar with the color of fire, there is no rigid prescription prohibiting an individual from using other colors such as white, red, gold, or even black for the fire letters. One might also prefer to use a different color for the solid circular background. A meditator may visualize the linear form or the Yosher (upright) form of the Name YHVH as dancing letters of fire. We could see the Name as flaming Ezra Hebrew letters or as flaming Sinatic Hebrew letters.

The mantra “Ani Yod Heh Vav Heh” is found in numerous places in the Torah and it is especially recommended for its simplicity and proven effectiveness. The word Ani is now a common word in colloquial spoken Hebrew. It has come to mean “I am,” and is used when referring to oneself in the context of conventional speech. In the Sefer HaShmoth (Book of the Names) and in biblical Hebrew, Ani is a power name of Vast Face, and thereby refers to the Divine Self as Pure Existence. When “Ani Yod Heh Vav Heh” is used as a mantra in meditation, the ladder of the four letters of the Name YHVH will move the consciousness of the meditator up the Tree and through the four worlds. Then, the Yod of YHVH becomes the Yod of Ani, and the consciousness of the meditator merges with the witness states of Vast Face in the negatively existent roots of the Tree. In the roots of the Tree, the Nun and Yod in Ani exchange places: Ani has now become Ayn, the Mysterious Unknown at the Roots of the Thing.

The mantra “Ani Yod Heh Vav Heh” is versatile in that it can be built upon. Any additional Divine Name, attribute, or gatekeeper, to which the mind of an aspirant is attracted, can be added to Ani YHVH. Examples are: Ani YHVH Shekhinah Belimah (Intangible Presence), Ani YHVH Ahavah (Love), Ani YHVH Echad (Unity), Ani YHVH Avraham (Master Abraham ), etc. The visualization used can be modified according to what is added to the mantra. The visualizations could be simple or complex. For instance, with “Ani YHVH Shekhinah Belimah,” one could visualize Queen Shekhinah seated upon the stump of a tree in the middle of a beautiful forest. The left side of Her body is dressed in rags (corresponding to the state of dualistic exile) and the right half in royal vestments (corresponding to Shabat). Her hands are in Her lap, palms upward, and She has a crown on Her head around which is the twenty-two Atziluthic letters. To Her immediate right and left are trees representing the Side Columns of the Tree of Life. The full moon shines above the trees in the night sky above Her. The flaming letters of the Name YHVH shimmer in Her heart center, cradled just above Her hands. Brilliant gold light shine forth in all directions from Her body, Her face veiled by the light.

The “Shema” is the best known and most revered root mantra in the Hebrew/Jewish religion. According to the Zohar, it should be pronounced “Shem AYN Yisroel Yod Heh Vav Heh Elohenu Yod Heh Vav Heh Echa----D.” In the Torah, the letters Ayin (in “Shem Ayin”) and Dalet (in “Echad”) are greatly enlarged. Together, they make the secret root Name “OD” (pronounced “ood”), the literal meaning of which is often said to be “Eternity.”The Vast Face Name Od (Eternity) is composed of the letters Ayin Dalet. In the Sinatic Hebrew alphabet, the letter Ayin is a circle, and the letter Dalet is a triangle. In the Vaishnavic Hindu tradition, there is an ancient sacred image called the "Footprints of Vishnu." This image depicts a pair of left and right footprints, covered with a variety of mystical symbols. Among the symbols that appear on both feet are six-pointed stars, a circle and a triangle. In this root mantra, Shem Ayn is the NOT (Lo), the negatively existent Mysterious Unknown, the Hidden of Hidden Ones. Yisroel is the Supernal Israel, the witness states (Alef Worlds) of Vast Face in Atziluth, and the Name YHVH is the Small Face totality archetype. Elohenu (our Elohim) refers to the creative aspect of Small Face in general, and the consciousness of our local Star (Sun) in particular. The mantra then returns to the station of Small Face with the repetition of YHVH. It climaxes with EchaD, alluding to the Great Unity of Vast and Small Face. In using the “Shem Ayn” for meditation, one can visualize the Name YHVH as dancing letters of fire on a black circular background against a light blue background, as previously described.

The root mantra and holiest utterance in the Qur’an is “La Illaha Il Allah (Hu).” MaimomadesMaimomades, Moses, A Guide for the Perplexed. the “Rambam” asserted that this utterance and the “Shem Ayin” are essentially the same. “La” is the NOT (Lo), “Illaha” is Vast Face, “Il ” is the “glue” between Vast and Small Face, and Allah is the Small Face totality archetype. Hu refers to the visible Sefirah Knowledge/First in the throat center seen from the Sefirah Crown/Above in Atziluth on a Perfect Tree. Allah, the most important Name of Small Face in Islam, is also a “Brilliant Name of Fire.” An aspirant attracted to Allah as their Chosen Ideal would repeat a root mantra containing the Name Allah, and would visualize Allah as dancing letters of fire on a background as described above. Sufis, the Qabalists of Islam, call the process of “taking the Name” or repeating root mantra “dikhr” (lit. remembrance), which is the equivalent of the Hebrew word “zakhor” in the context of the Mystical Qabalah.

“Unify the Holy Name
Bind the Knot of Faith,
Bring blessings to the proper place.”
(Zohar 285a,bZohar 285a,b. "Unify the Holy Name" means to see all as a unity in Small Face. "Bind the Knot of Faith" is alluded to in the mystery of the circumcision of the heart. The "proper place" is Maqom, which has the literal meaning of "place," an allusion to the Throne.)

Back Next Home