I’ve been vaguely interested in Kabbalah for a while now, (Madonna notwithstanding) but every time I touched it, it felt too esoteric and incomprehensible. Maybe I’ve matured in my spiritual understandings, or maybe I just never found the proper teachings. Anyway, yesterday I took a quick dip into what it is, and what it does. And I finally get it!
Tree of Life. Image source: wikipedia
Here’s what I found:
1. The Kabbalah is not a book per se, but a tradition of mystical practices. The Zohar, the primary text, was written (or received, you can say) in 13th century Spain.
2. The Zohar offers many different things – it’s a huge compendium of stuff. It changes some large primary assumptions and reinterprets the whole Torah under this new light.
3. It introduces Ein Sof (the infinite) as the real supreme being, the creator of what we know as God.
4. It reincorporates the divine feminine as an aspect of God, (undermining the patriarchy), and shows how the Torah and Talmud refer to her all along.
5. It explains creation (which I think can be reconciled with evolution, if you’d like), the nature of God, cosmology, the souls, and the mystical world, as well as our purpose as human here on earth. (ie Tikun Olam in relation to consciousness, not specifically “good deeds.”)
6. It offers meditations (repeating the various names of God as the mantra) to induce altered states of consciousness (trance) in order to produce mystical experience. This accomplishes the same thing in Judaism that all the other meditative traditions accomplish – the breaking of the belief structure, the dismantling of the ego, ultimate self-awareness, access to the mystical realm.
7. There are also spells, incantations, and magic (both white and black).
8. There is the explanation and glorification of the hebrew alphabet. The letters carry an incredible symbology beyond language and numbers. They are also used to explain the structure and function of the human body (each one related to certain organs or systems) which reminds me of the energetic meridians in acupuncture.
Fascinating stuff. If you’re interested in learning more, these videos (here, here, and here) are very good background and context.