The Secrets of Kabbalah

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“Woe be to the man who says that The Law (Torah) contains only common sayings and tales: If this were true, we might even in our time compose a book of doctrine that would be more respected. No, every word has a sublime sense and is a heavenly mystery. The Law resembles an angel: To come down to Earth, a spiritual angel must put on a garment to be known or understood here, so the Law must have clothed itself in a garment of words as a body for men to receive, but the wise look within the garments.” — The Zohar

Kabbalah is an esoteric cult whose origin is ancient and its roots obscure. Some regard it as the teaching of the divine wisdom that God gave to Adam, Abraham, and Moses, while others try to trace its roots back to Ancient Egypt and Chaldean esotericism because Kabbalah conveys the same universal teachings as Egyptian Hermeticism. The counterpart of the word Kabbalah, which is generally taught orally,  can be roughly translated from Hebrew as “tradition,” “received oral tradition,” or “acknowledged.” An initiation in Kabbalah teaching or practice should be carefully performed by a spiritual guide.

Some argue that the baseline of Kabbalah, which is an esoteric teaching, is essentially the sacred knowledge not written in the Torah, the divine revelation gifted to Moses from God. It has long been assumed that Kabbalah endows humanity with direct ways to attain God-realization. As it happens, Kabbalistic ideas resemble those of the Alexandrian schools, Gnosticism, Pythagoreanism, Platonism, Indian Brahmanism, and Buddhism. [1]

While certain orthodox—or rationalistic, as some would say—parts of Kabbalah that are free of figurative expressions are publically accessible, the remainder is mainly of an esoteric, allegoric, and mystical nature. Knowledge and wisdom is rightly presented to the wise, but others must be content with the general outline of the teaching. Kabbalah is a mystical teaching that means to receive and embrace. It also means tradition and custom, and its lexical meaning is “something transferred from hand to hand.” According to this teaching, God created the entire universe through the medium of ten Sephiroth, and this particular quantity is fixed and invariable. Twenty-two different lines tie these ten Sephiroth to each another, with these lines corresponding to the 22 letters of the old Hebrew script. Kabbalah is a mystical teaching that is entwined with numerology. The main idea behind Kabbalah is that entities reach their current physical incarnation and evolution by coming down and crossing layers that gradually get denser. The energy present in the body of the practitioner and creation itself can be awoken, purified, and channeled through rituals, exercises, and meditations. Kabbalah is not a book or a collection of books but rather a doctrine that aims to clarify the visible chaos of the universe and work the contrasts into a coherent pattern. It’s safe to say the general doctrine of Kabbalah accepts that the universe is one as a whole, that it operates with respect to a specific pattern, that everything is a part and a reflection of God, and that humankind should be considered as a small-scale universe, because humans are a part and a reflection of God and therefore the universe. Kabbalah is not a religion, belief, or philosophy but rather a teaching. It’s the practice of applying spiritual principles to everyday life, and it intends to give people the ability to be proactive rather than reactive.

Kabbalah, starting with the Renaissance, led to the rise of various schools of thought within the Christian community. The origins of Kabbalah are lost in the mists of antiquity, and no one can demonstrate who its original creator was or who its earliest teachers were. Considerable evidence can be produced showing how its roots date back to the Hebrew Rabbis who flourished during the time of the Second Temple around the year 515 BC. The teaching was undoubtedly oral in the earliest stages of its existence, hence the name of “QBLH” in Hebrew (from “QBL”, which means to receive). [2]

Isaac Myer denotes that “God can be observed in four aspects: The infinite or Ayn Soph; me, mine, AHIH, Aheie; the one in eternal existence, from before to now and after, AHVH, Jehovah, Yahweh; and Adonai, the Lord, God of Nature, ALHIM, Elohim.” According to Kabbalah, humans are entirely free in their actions with complete free will, but their nature is an inexplicable mystery. The mystery to the unity and oneness is love. Ayn Soph (the infinite) is actually unity and oneness, and this embodies all action and goes beyond the universe. The Ayn Soph of Kabbalah could also indicate pure knowledge (Sophia). In the Kabbalah doctrine, it is suggested that one can benefit from chanting the 72 names of God in a meditative state, because the act of chanting is believed to activate certain parts of the brain. Kabbalah mysticism is essentially a monotheistic doctrine. It’s based on the belief that the universe and humanity are comprised of gradual, unexpected contingences and reflections of a single supreme being. Kabbalah mysticism attempts to explain the cosmos and all kinds of creational systems through the symbolism of the Tree of Life and the Sephiroth.

Thamos describes the following:

One particular reference of importance in Kabbalah tradition is a book called “Sefer Yetzirah” (The Book of Creation), which surfaced between the 3rd and 6th centuries. Sefer Yetzirah, which is the oldest known book in Hebrew on the subject of cosmology, narrates that the universe was created through the instrument of the twenty-two letters of the old Hebrew script and ten divine numbers called “Sephiroth.” Letters and numbers constitute the “thirty-two paths of sacred wisdom” that God utilized in creating the universe. One of the primary principals of Kabbalah is that sacred wisdom is attained by means of thirty-two paths comprised of ten numbers and twenty-two letters. French author Court de Gebelin presumed that the Major Arcana suit in the Tarot deck signifies the mystic symbols passed down from Ancient Egypt. [3]

The basis of Jesus Christ’s teaching is the same as that of Kabbalah, which is human. It’s an expression of humanity and its path. Protagoras said, “Man is the measure of all things.” Just like Kabbalah, the symbolic method of Hermetic teaching is integrated with the language they once used. Each letter of the Egyptian script, which consists of twenty-two letters, is coded as a symbol of an arcana. Likewise, every letter corresponds to a separate number in this teaching. This method was later used in Kabbalah and Zohar, as well as Abjad and Hurufism of Islamic Sufism. The word “Sephiroth” is a plural form and actually means “numbers” in Hebrew, with the singular form of the word being “Sephira.” According to Yetzirah, Sephiroth can be interpreted as ten different formations or forces through which the God creator manifests itself. It’s alleged that there are ten different phases that are reflected from “the Unknowable Infinite God,” namely, Ayn Soph. Thus, each Sephira represents a different creative attribute of God. According to Kabbalah, the links between each Sephira form the rhythm of creation.

The following is an excerpt from The Mystical Qabalah by Dion Fortune:

According to Kabbalists, a Sephira cannot be apprehended in one single plane because it has four layers, described as four different realms. The realms of Atzilut (the Divine), Briyah (Creation), Yetzirah (Formation), and Asiyah (Matter). For a Kabbalist, there are four manifestation planes and three non-manifestation or negative-existence planes. The first one of these is AYN, meaning negativity (nothingness); the second one is AYN SOPH, meaning infinity; and the third one is AYN SOPH AUR, meaning the infinite light. Kether concentrates on the third one.

Kabbalah groups the ten Sephiroth into three main columns: The Pillar of Mercy, the Pillar of Severity, and, right in the middle of these two, the Pillar of Equilibrium. These columns are also linked with three mother letters, A, M, and Sh. We can form three separate sections with two horizontal lines and then slice the Sephiroth into four different pieces with three additional lines. Ten Sephiroth are joined by twenty-two “Paths.” These paths are named with letters from the Hebrew scripts, which are also numbers. The twenty-two major arcanas in the Tarot deck are also linked with these paths. It’s noted that wisdom is gradually imparted on humanity by way of ten Sephiroth and twenty-two paths. In addition, a person can climb their way up to the spring of wisdom, step by step, passing through the thirty-two paths of sagacity. [4]

Sefer Yetzirah (The Book of Creation) is the oldest known written work about Kabbalah. This book gives a highly interesting and philosophical explanation about creation. It mentions a parallel between the Earth, the Sun, the planets, the elements, the origin of humankind, and the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew script. It divides the letters into triads, heptads, and dodecads. Three mother letters—A, M, and Sh—describe the three primordial elements:  Air, Water and Fire. Seven double letters are attributed to the planets and the seven divisions of time and so on, and twelve single letters are linked with months, the signs of the Zodiac, and human bodily organs. The ten Sephiroth can be specified as “Kether” (Crown), “Chokmah” (Wisdom), “Binah” (Understanding), “Chesed” (Mercy), “Gevurah” (Severity), “Tiferet” (Beauty), “Netzach” (Eternity), “Hod” (Splendor), “Yesod” (Foundation), and “Malkuth” (Kingdom). The first four Sephiroth represent the universal elements (the Divine Spirit, Air, Water, and Fire) and the remainder symbolize the various directions (right, left, front, back, up, and down). The letters of the Hebrew script, along with the Sephiroth, correspond to various parts of the human body and so transform a human into a microcosm of creation.

Another text of particular significance is Sefer ha-Bahir (The Book of Radiance), which was written in the 12th century. Bahir not only interpreted the Sephiroth as the instruments of the perpetuity of creation and the universe, but also solidly reinforced the foundation of Kabbalah through a profound mystical symbolism such as “Gilgul” (reincarnation). Bahir—which is essentially a symbolic, in-depth interpretation of the Old Testament—is based on mysterious meanings attributed to the shapes and sounds of the ancient Hebrew letters.

Kabbalah mentions a period of possible chaos in the distant past. According to Kabbalah, “This was a time of rest, and the ruling force was negativity.” Hindus call this state Pralaya. Then from this dormant, negative state called Ayn there emerged Ayn Soph (Infinite Light) before it transcended into Ayn Soph Aur. When it finally concentrated on a single point, there came Kether, the crown of manifestation. (God said, “let there be light,” and there was light.) With a gradual expansion, the forces of nature, which were dispersing further from the primordial source with every step, took shape, and these were the sparks of the Divine Light. [6]

In Dr. William Wynn Westcott’s An Introduction to the Study of the Kabalah, he says:

Kabbalah teaches that we should abandon our ways of thinking that make us presume that matter and spirit are separate phenomena. As to the teaching of Kabbalah, all things are spirit and this is the true divinity. The infinite essence “Ayn Soph” is the reason of all reasons and actions. All things are manifested of It and are inside of It. The universe is the eternal manifestation of the Divine, which appears in millions of different forms. It’s the god that lies within the human. Matter is a human concept; it represents the lowest form of spiritual manifestation, or in other words, the spirit is the highest form of physical manifestation. Spirit is the sole substance in existence. The Kabbalist says, “Matter is a mere residue of manifestation; its presence is just barely short of a total absence.” In Kabbalah, the other name for the universe is “the clothing of God.” This sub-world is an image of the Divine World and all things have a master copy up above. That is to say, Kabbalah asserts the infamous phrase as well: “As above, so below.” As written in Zohar: “Humanity was the last word of creation and the rehearsal of all forms; it thus surpassed the angels with its qualities. The very first human did not have any flesh, any kind of physical cover, or even a body. Adam and Eve were clothed merely with a fluid cover, and they were free of any desire or ambition. Man and woman, before descending down to Earth, were androgynous and in a single body. They split into genders with their incarnation. The very first pair of humans disobeyed the first commandment; they sinned and thus fell from grace down to the physical world. God sewed them “clothes from flesh” and gave them physical bodies; thus with these emerged the need for food and the desire to make more of their bodies.

Humanity is the terrestrial image of God. Their figure is linked with that of IHVH, Jehovah; Yod is the head, Heh is the arms, Vau is the torso, and the last Heh is the legs. [7]

Kabbalah teaches that egos emerge from the spring of souls, reincarnate repeatedly until they attain perfection through their experiences, and ultimately return to the Divine Source. Kabbalists claim that a person has two companions or guides along the way. Located on the right is a benevolent one named Yetzer ha Tob, who is from the higher Sephiroth. On the other side is a malevolent one that sparks evil, pleasure, desire, and temptation in people. This one, named Yetzer ha Ra, is an agent of Samael and the Beast.

According to Kabbalah, we can only see through a frosted glass, so we must make much more progress before we can hope to see God face to face and know Him as He is. We must make this progress gradually because there are no shortcuts to higher attainment. We must be content with this, and we must understand how a clean life is essential to this journey. The late H. P. Blavatsky used to declare that the truly ancient texts of the ancient religions were susceptible to explanations on seven planes of thought. People’s level of awareness and knowledge determines what kind of conclusions they will draw from what they read. In Kabbalah, all souls and all matter emerged from the sole being in existence, God. Objects may seem to be numerous, but there is a permanent and immutable being, Sephiroth. God is one, and all beings are born from it. Cognition and wisdom originated within oneness. Wisdom is the father, cognition is the mother, and their offspring is knowledge. Intelligence gave rise to splendor and might. God creates life with the former while dispelling it with the latter.

Jay Weider talks about the consciousness and reincarnation in Alchemy of the Afterlife: The KA, the BA, and the Kabbalah:

In Ancient Egypt, a confusion was believed to happen in the moment when consciousness separates from the body. Their belief was that consciousness was divided into two separate states of being. The first division was called the BA. The BA represented the immortality and eternal existence. This is the aspect of the consciousness that is able to reincarnate. The word for “soul” corresponds with the BA. Thus, the soul is immortal and reincarnates to continue its sacred pilgrimage towards total illumination. In Egyptian hieroglyphs, BA is occasionally depicted as a bird with a human head. The second aspect of this great separation was named the KA. The KA is the part of the human consciousness that remains here on Earth and is usually depicted as a pair of arms outstretched along with a horizontal line. According to the teachings of Ancient Egypt, it’s the part of us that has a connection to our physical reality, belongings, and people we know. The KA then is the aspect of consciousness that is left when the BA, or animating force, departs the physical body. It’s the shadow or remaining psychic imprint of soul consciousness. In Egypt, the sacred science of the afterlife was focused upon two things. One was the halting of the reincarnation process of the BA. The second was the termination of the fantastic, dream-like states of the KA. Since they believed that existence is eternal and that development continues even after the death of the body, they knew that whatever happened here would mirror itself in the afterlife. The Egyptians also believed that human beings were the “seeds” for stars. It was believed that human beings were walking, talking, thinking, conscious “star stuff.” According to them, our bodies were made from interstellar dust that is the remains of ancient dead stars, cosmic debris, and galactic particles. [8]

Regarding Kabbalah itself, it’s said, “All things in nature are subject to change and adaptation, and Kabbalah is one of these things that are subject to change and adaptation.” Kabbalah is the Jewish interpretation of a very ancient knowledge. It’s a theocratic and practical philosophy that uses a very heavy symbolism in a complex system. In spite of its ancient mystical quality, it’s methods are still applicable to the modern world, so it’s individualistic identities can evolve and attain a planetary consciousness. Throughout history, people have shown interest in Kabbalah while at the same time targeting it like every other esoteric and secretive concept. It consequently continued to be embraced by only a small number of privileged people as a series of theoretical and practical methods aimed at creating illuminated human beings with the secrets of the micro and macrocosm.

God, within its profundity, is hidden, but God, by virtue of its creation and endlessness, is revealed. For Kabbalists, these two aspects of God are not opposed but rather complement each other. The reason for prohibiting its name from being mentioned is the adoration and honor harbored for it. The only thing that can be said about God is that God exists. Knowledge only opens the door, but to pass through the doorway is up to the person. Any kind of information encourages us to go toward the source and further under the surface. All the ancient teachings voice the same principle with different words. What there is for us to take in is only limited by the size and shape of the window from which we observe the world. Kabbalah has a specific point of not letting people know but making them search. The teaching uses its symbols as seeds of thought. The main goal is to attain wisdom, cognition, conscious knowledge, and awareness. It is a spiritual evolution, and evolution, progression from simple to complex, is the purpose and meaning of life. The common ground in all the ancient systems is the coalescence of the individual with the divine. All belief systems have two sides: The exterior involves words and rituals, while the interior is completely esoteric. The reason for esoterica is to try and see what’s inside the nutshell through the mind, science, and intuition rather than the exterior and superficial approach taught by religions. In the Kabbalah teaching, the idea of the “enlightened human being” is the essential objective; an enlightened person would enlighten the whole of humanity… In Kabbalah’s words, “Never—and that means never—lay blame on other people or external events!”

“God sometimes walks in disguise…”—ancient Hebrew proverb.

Bibliography:

“Kabbalah”, Thamos, (www.hermetics.org)

“An Introduction to the Study of the Kabalah”, Dr. William Wynn Westcott, (www.hermetics.org)

“The Mystical Qabalah”, Dion Fortune

“The Power of Kabbalah”, Yehuda Berg

“Kabbalah and the Hermetic Tradition”, Mark Stavish, (www.hermetics.org)

“Alchemy of the Afterlife”, Jay Weider, (www.hermetics.org)

“The Masonic Ladder”; “The Kabbalah Ladder”, Tamer Ayan

“Hermetic Qabalah”, Kemal Menemencioğlu, (www.hermetics.org)

[1] Kemal Menemencioğlu, Hermetic Qabalah, http://www.hermetics.org/GD3.html

[2] Thamos, Kabbalah, http://www.hermetics.org/cabala.html

[3] Thamos, Kabbalah, http://www.hermetics.org/cabala.html

[4] Dion Fortune, The Mystical Qabalah

[5] Tamer Ayan, The Masonic Ladder, s.134

[6] Dr. William Wynn Westcott, An Introduction to the Study of the Kabalah, http://www.hermetics.org/GD-kabala.html

[7] Dr. William Wynn Westcott, An Introduction to the Study of the Kabalah, http://www.hermetics.org/GD-kabala.html

[8] Jay Weider, Alchemy of the Afterlife: The KA, the BA and the Kabbalah, http://www.hermetics.org/ka-ba.html



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