February 27, 2009


Translated to English by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan as “Outpouring of the Soul” (Breslov Research Institute).

Hitbodedut / Meditation

Rabbi Nachman of Breslov

Meditation is the highest path of all. One must therefore set aside an hour or more each day to meditate by himself in a room or in the field.

Meditation should consist of conversation with God. One can pour out his words before his Creator. This can include complaints, excuses, or words seeking grace, acceptance and reconciliation. He must beg and plead that God bring him close and allow him to serve Him in truth.

One's conversation with God should be in the everyday language that he normally uses. Hebrew may be the preferred language for prayer, but it is difficult for a person ro express himself in Hebrew. Furthermore, if one is not accustomed to speaking Hebrew, his heart is not drawn after the words.

However, in the language that a person normally speaks, it is very easy for him to express himself. The heart is closer to such a language, and follows it, since the person is more accustomed to it. Therefore, when one uses his native language, he can express everything that is in his heart, and tell it to God.

One's conversation with God can consist of regret and repentance. It can consist of prayers and pleading to be worthy of approaching Him and coming close to Him in truth from this day on. Each one should speak to God according to his own level.

One must be very careful to accustom himself to spend at least one hour a day in such meditation. During the rest of the day, one will then be in a state of joy and ecstasy.

This practice is extremely potent and powerful. It is an extremely beneficial practice in coming close to God. It is a general practice that is all-inclusive.

No matter what one feels he is lacking in his relationship to God, he can converse with God and ask him for help. This is true even if one is completely removed from any relationship with God.

There will be many times that one will find it impossible to say anything to God. His mouth will be sealed, and he will not be able to find any words to say. Nevertheless, the very fact that he has made the effort and has prepared himself to converse with God is in itself very beneficial. He has tried, and is ready and prepared to converse with God, yearning and longing to do so, but he is unable. This in itself is also very good.

Actually, one can make a conversation and prayer out of this itself. He should cry out to God that he is so far from Him that he cannot even speak. He should beg that God grant him mercy and open his mouth, so that he will be able to express himself before Him.

Many great holy men have related that they reached their high spiritual level only through this practice. An intelligent person will realize that with this practice one can constantly reach higher and higher. Furthermore, it is a universal practice that can be used by great and small alike. Every individual can make use of this practice, and reach the highest levels. Happy is he who grasps it.

It is also good to make prayers out of lessons. Thus if one hears a Torah lesson from a true holy man, he should make it into a prayer. He should contemplate everything in the lesson, and pray to God that he be worthy of attaining it. He should tell God how far he is from such attainment, and beg that he be helped to achieve everything in the lesson.

If one then has intelligence and true desire, God will guide him along the path of truth, and he will understand how to reach his goal. He will speak with beautiful words and true arguments, pleading with God to draw him close to Him.

The concept of conversation with God is bound to an extremely high spiritual level. This is especially true when one makes prayers out of Torah lessons. This results in great delight on high (Likutey Moharan Tinyana 25).

From the letters of Rabbi Nachman’s disciple, Reb Noson:

If one wishes to make a Torah lesson into a prayer, he should particularly try to do so with the lessons found in the Rebbe's works. These are lessons in which each person can find himself.

Time passes quickly, and we have no way to the eternal except through prayers and supplications. The main practice is this ancient new way, which involves making Torah lessons into prayers.

A person may feel that he is very far from this path. But this is not so. "It is something that is very close to you -- in Your mouth and your heart, so that you can do it" (Deuteronomy 30:14).

Even if one cannot begin to speak at all, we have a number of methods which are tried and tested, and they have already helped us very much (Alim LeTerufah 257).