The Difference between the Science of Kabbalah and Religion
Religion assumes that the Creator changes His attitude to the person depending on the person’s actions. The science a Kabbalah however states that the Upper Force is invariable, and the actions of a person can in no way affect it. Instead, the person’s actions can change himself. He will be able to perceive the Upper Governance differently, if his own changes are aimed toward greater resemblance. He will be able to perceive the Creator as kind and good. By increasing the difference between his properties (reception) and those of the Creator (bestowal), he will feel the Creator’s attitude as more negative.
There are many expressions in the Kabbalistic texts indicating the invariance of the Creator’s attitude towards the created beings: “I do not change My Name” (“Ani HaVaYA lo Shiniti”), “He is good and bestows goodness upon His creatures, good and bad (“Tov ve Metiv le Raim u le Tovim”), “the Upper Light is absolutely static” (“Ohr Elion Nimzta be Menucha Muchletet”).
Therefore, a prayer is called self-judgment or self-analysis. This is when a person does not appeal to the Creator but judges himself instead and analyzes himself with regards to the Upper invariable force. (See the explanations in the “The Introduction to the Study of the Ten Sefirot” about the path towards the purpose of creation. As the person changes, he corrects himself relative to the invariable and Absolute Creator).
This attitude towards himself and towards the Creator constitutes the difference between Kabbalah and religion. Even though religion calls for certain personal changes, religion is based on pleading with the Creator. In this world religions are similar to the most ancient beliefs, which extensively practice bribing the Upper forces of nature.
Kabbalah is rejected by religions as mass religion is based on the conviction that a person need only ask the Creator and everything will change from above to his advantage as the Creator will turn His face to him. That is, a believer is convinced that the Creator exists and governs everything. In order for anything to improve, one need only ask the Creator instead of changing himself. Religious masses interpret inner changes as performing good deeds, such as helping others out of compassion, but not changing one’s nature and making it similar to the Creator.
A conviction in the change of the Creator’s attitude to the person leads to envy: who is treated by the Creator with greater love and who is more “divinely chosen”. It causes antagonism to arise not only among people, but also between religions. The representatives of various confessions dispute whose prayers the Creator is inclined to answer more willingly.
Kabbalah asserts that the Creator is invariable. In the process of a person’s correction, they deserve to see an improvement in the invariance of the Creator’s attitude. Therefore the more corrected a person is, the more they will justify the Creator’s actions. Kabbalah states that instead of praying one should rather be changing. Consequently, Kabbalah evokes hatred from the religious groups as it indirectly accuses them of hypocrisy.
To better understand the attitude of Kabbalists to the Creator, we can take a look at a Kabbalistic prayer-book. It contains no ordinary words that express human emotions. Instead, it consists of numerous symbols designating spiritual actions that the person should carry out while correcting himself, to consequently receive the Upper light. This is the difference between the notions of a religious God and the Kabbalistic Creator.
The Kabbalistic study of the structure of the universe gives a person a clear idea of the Creator, whose properties are at the very top of the spiritual ladder, and of himself who is at the bottom of this ladder. The rungs of the ladder represent the various worlds. The purpose of creation is to independently ascend and merge one’s desires with those of the Creator.
This ascent involves an inner change of the person’s properties from an egotistical intention in all of his thoughts and desires to an altruistic intention. Man ascends the rungs of the ladder, each one characterizing a degree of similarity to the Creator.
Naturally, studying the structure of the universe in such detail prevents a person from imagining that his relationship with the Creator is dependent on his requests. Imagine a perfect parent in our world. It is obvious that a child can not evoke any additional love for himself by any of his actions as parental love is eternal and perfect. The external projection of this love (the perception of the child) depends solely on the states that a person must go through in order to become acquainted with the whole of creation, to gain experience, and to become equal to the Creator.
From this it follows that even the desirable transformation we can make in ourselves and consequently feel the Creator’s unfailing good attitude to us can in fact be hardly called correction. This is because we must go through all the levels, extreme states, changes, and sensations in order to acquire the experience and ability needed to feel the entire universe from end to end.
Correction only means our attitude towards whatever occurs to us. When, regardless of what happens, we evaluate and accept everything that happens as being absolutely beneficial, this arouses a sensation of happiness and pleasure. This leads to a situation when a person discovers that nothing really changes at all except his attitude towards the constant state he exists in. He was created in this state and has always existed in it.
It goes without saying that the study of Kabbalah provides a concept of creation and of the person’s place in it that naturally deters him from prayer. Yet it is the most important and central act in religious practices and everything else is organized around it.
In this case the wisdom of Kabbalah naturally directs the person towards inner reflection and transformation, which alienates him from performing rituals and following any religious injunctions. That is why all religions oppose Kabbalah, and Judaism leads this opposition.