What is Kabbalah?
- “Receiving,” as in a received tradition. Some Kabbalistic teachings go back thousands of years, and were passed from master to disciple. Others were invented yesterday.
- “Receiving,” as in receiving the truth of what is happening right now. The truth is, you are God reading about God, in the process of God becoming God. But chances are you don’t “receive” that truth fully, because of how your mind, body, and heart work. The forms of Kabbalah can help you really receive the truth of this moment.
- An ancient, fascinating, and complex system of Jewish mysticism and esoteric knowledge. Rich in symbols, myth, and literary merit, the Kabbalah “library” contains thousands of books written over many centuries. Scholars generally date the beginning of this written literature to the 12th century, with additional “waves” in the 16th and early 19th centuries.
- A way of reading texts, and the world, on multiple levels of depth. Kabbalah is all about levels of reality, and balance among them. We strive not to move from “lower” to “higher” but to integrate them; not to favor one side of our lives over another, but to balance them. Reading and seeing deeply enables us to do that.
- A body of knowledge and practices that enable deeper understanding of the self and the universe.
Kabbalah is rooted in the Jewish tradition, which speaks of the One in terms of “God.” Yet as you will see if you learn Kabbalah, that word does not mean what you think it means. In fact, we might say that it means the opposite.
Let’s begin with a very general introduction to the questions Kabbalah asks, and then we’ll move to some of the specific ideas, trends, and historical moments, that shape what the Kabbalah is.