Avi Solomon con Abraham Abulafia: Meditations on the Divine Name (English Edition)
Amidst the rich panoply of Jewish Kabbalah, Abraham Abulafia (1240-1291) resonates the most with modern, philosophically minded seekers of direct mystical experience. Abulafia creatively combined Maimonides’ Guide of the Perplexed and the ancient Sefer Yesira into an integrated method of concentrating on the Divine Name that opens the path to fulfilling the soul’s deepest spiritual longings. Intense practice of Abulafia’s meditative techniques propels the attentive soul into a state of awakened receptivity where the active divine influence can reach down to meet and illuminate the human intellect.
Abulafia was unique amongst Jewish mystics in providing precise instructions for personal spiritual practice. I have translated meditations from three of Abulafia’s major mystical handbooks “that reveal the true knowledge of the Divine Name” as he puts it. These particular texts achieved a wide underground circulation amongst Jewish mystic elites despite a severe rabbinical ban on Abulafia promulgated by Shlomo ben Adret.
-Abulafia’s Life of the World to Come (extant in more manuscript copies that the Zohar!) is quoted verbatim in Yehuda Albotini’s Sulam HaAliya.
-Abulafia’s Book of Desire is quoted in the fourth, censored part of Chaim Vital’s Shaarei Kedusha.
-Selections from Abulafia’s Light of the Intellect were printed in Moshe Cordovero’s Pardes Rimonim.
Abulafia’s meditations have intrinsic moral prerequisites that guard against their misuse. These techniques can provide short, liminal leaps into revelatory states of consciousness and the adept needs a kind of measured boldness to attempt this. Abulafia repeatedly emphasizes returning back and integrating these threshold experiences into one’s daily life.
Abulafia was an eclectic thinker who absorbed and adapted Sufi and even Yogic influences into his mystical toolkit. While the affinities between Abulafia’s methods and the ancient Hekhalot (Heavenly Palace) rituals are obvious, they also have interesting structural similarities to Graeco-Coptic magical invocations like those found in PGM XIII 646-1077.
Translating Abulafia is an impossible task. These gleanings hope to prompt deeper study of Abulafia’s oeuvre that can provide a rich breviary of numerically equivalent concepts and rigorous linguistic interpretations to ponder and apply in one’s spiritual path.