Chapter 6. Studying Kabbalah
The importance of studying this wondrous wisdom is that there is a great power in the study of Kabbalah that can be of benefit to everyone. The soul starts its existence in the world of Ein Sof (lit. No End). It then descends through five levels of concealment Kabbalah refers to as “Higher Worlds,” before finally clothing our physical bodies. The names of this system of higher worlds are: Adam Kadmon, Atzilut, Beria, Yetzira, and Assiya.
The principal law of the Higher Worlds is altruism. This law acts whether we are aware of it or not, and we must follow it whether we like it or not. Disobeying that law produces disasters and tragedies, both individual and collective. That law is not canceled, although we are stopped as soon as we break it. We will only be able to understand when and how that law works by studying the wisdom of Kabbalah.
The result of our descent into this world is that we are completely dependent on the components and characteristics of that spiritual system. So in order to function according to its laws, we must study that system instead of roaming blindly through our world, beaten time and again but not knowing why. When we study Kabbalah, even if we do not understand anything we study, but simply have the desire to understand, we awaken within us an influence of the Light that corrects us. It is the soul’s need to reclaim the Light that filled it before it came down to our world.
Who can study this wisdom? Anyone who relentlessly asks, “What is the meaning of my life?” can study Kabbalah. This great wisdom can only be studied when there is an inner need, not through coercion. When Rav Kook was asked who was permitted to study Kabbalah, he replied: “Anyone who wants to.” If a person really wants to study, it is a sign that he or she is ready.
When a person truly wants something, that person goes out and does it. Therefore, if your soul is ready for ascension, you’ll study Kabbalah. And if your soul is not yet ready, you’ll remain for awhile on the outskirts of Kabbalah. After some time, you’ll drift away from it and go on ripening elsewhere. Keep in mind that you do not find Kabbalah on your own; you are brought here from Above.
Bans regarding the study of the Kabbalah existed only until the time of the Ari. Kabbalists themselves enforced them because the souls did not yet need the Kabbalah to progress toward the purpose of creation. But since the time of the Ari (end of the 16th century), he and other Kabbalists have lifted the ban they had set up. It was done because souls have reached such a level of development that they’ve begun to feel within them the need for spiritual, exalted content.
If earlier people were still passive in the process, now we are compelled to partake in the process. The only condition is that we show a desire to partake in the leadership. Otherwise, the Spiritual Force will force us to want it. There is not a quiet place left on earth. No one will be calm anywhere, especially those with a point in the heart, because the Spiritual Law that takes us to the center of creation affects those people first.
We should use the very means that we were born with to approach the Creator and to believe that in each given moment the means that are at our disposal are the very best there are. Despite that, we must never stop searching for better ones. Kabbalah is an understanding of the Creator, of the purpose of creation, a revelation of the Upper Light (within you, in your emotions), by changing your intentions. It is much like the Bible, in the sense that it, too, is not a historical tale, but a description of the universe and a method to understand the Creator.
In Kabbalah, the term “forbidden” actually means, “it cannot be done.” For example, when it was said that it is forbidden to see the Creator, it means that it is forbidden to receive Light in order to please yourself. Therefore, the words, “forbidden to study Kabbalah” actually mean, “It cannot be studied because of a lack of will.” The statement is still correct today as far as the general public is concerned, but the souls that descend to our world today will reach such a level of spiritual development that all their thoughts and earthly desires will become their aspirations for their Creator.
No secrets are taught in Kabbalah. The wisdom of Kabbalah is called “the wisdom of the hidden,” not because it is secret in and of itself, but because it reveals things that were hidden before we began to study. It reveals everything that surrounds us.
However, the wisdom of Kabbalah is comprised of two parts: “flavors of the Torah” and “secrets of the Torah.” The flavors of the Torah investigate the structure of the spiritual worlds, the soul, and how one should correct oneself. Everyone is permitted to study that part. This material is described in books of Kabbalah, sold all over the world, and translated into English, Russian, and many other languages. Anyone can taste the flavors of the Torah.
The “secrets of the Torah” are the hidden part of the Torah. Nothing is written about this in any book. That part is taught only after a person has acquired the flavors of the Torah, attained the structure of the spiritual worlds, as well as one’s own spiritual structure. A person who has attained that level, where physical life and death do not exist, sees the entire process from beginning to end and is above our world. Then the secrets open up like innermost fountains, and we understand the rudimentary laws of that system.
People often ask if there is a prerequisite to studying Kabbalah. The simple answer is that you don’t have to study anything before you begin to study Kabbalah, because Kabbalah is contact with the Creator. A person who wants to study Kabbalah is like an infant emerging wet and naked from its mother’s womb. What would an infant need to know at that point? When we want to learn about the Upper World, we do not need anything that we learned in this world, because it is the Upper World we wish to enter. In order to be interested in Kabbalah, you don’t need any preconditions other than finding the right sources of information.
Our genuine development from matter to spirit should evolve gradually, to the extent that we understand the world we live in. The more we discover the true situation in our world, the more we will be ready for an inner change. The law of the Upper World defines it in the words: “There is no coercion in spirituality.” Only the Creator can change our desires and intentions, so if we study diligently, the change will come.
We move through our world totally oblivious that anything outside of our perceived reality exists until we decide to study Kabbalah and attain the necessary knowledge to understand and work with the system of creation. This is regarded as the highest degree, the last degree that any person, any soul can and eventually must attain. The method of Kabbalah prepares us to enter the Upper World with knowledge and powers, without harming ourselves or others. We enter the spiritual world only by the extent of our correction. Consequently, there cannot be a situation where a person enters prematurely and inflicts damage. The measure of our correction is the measure of our penetration to the Upper World, as well as the degree of cooperation with Providence.
Kabbalah is a very real and accurate system by which we begin to gradually feel the Creator in mind and heart, to an even greater extent than we feel our current environment. The Creator is sensed a lot more clearly, without any self-deception, and through controlled and systematically repeated actions. This wisdom is subject to all the requirements that exact sciences are subject to. We can measure emotions and translate them to numbers; we can also conduct experiments, repeat them and transfer the acquired knowledge to others. Because of all that, Kabbalah is regarded as a science.
We use everything we’re given in this world freely. We do not feel where and from whom it comes. If we were to feel the Giver, even slightly, we would instantly receive a different sensation, a different position, and a different relationship with anything or anyone. That would immediately place us in a completely different situation. Our whole problem is the absence of the sensation of the Creator. That is why the single most important goal in our world is to feel the existence of the Creator, to establish some sort of contact with Him.
After that, contact will become much easier. When you attain even a little bit of the sensation of the Creator, you hang on to it, and can return again and again to deepen and broaden it. Once you have achieved the ability to turn to the Creator, you can comprehend the kind of response you will get. This is what is meant by the phrase, “One’s soul tutors one.” This means that one is led by one’s own soul. Our own feelings tell us how we should proceed.
Many people try to deter others from Kabbalah: they can be religious, secular, strangers and relatives. I tried to fight the craving to know the purpose of my life, and I couldn’t picture a day when I could get up in the morning without asking the same haunting question over and over again. I couldn’t imagine a peaceful, thought-free day, where I could sit down quietly and enjoy my life.
If there’s no cure for it, it’s like a curse. But the cure exists. If you feel that question burning in your gut, leaving you restless, you might be losing precious time listening to the advice of others and living by their reason, because ultimately you’ll go back to what your soul craves.
It is written, “One learns from one’s soul,” so listen to yourself and you’ll know what it is you want. If you can rise above the level of those who advise against study, there is nothing that can stop you. Sooner or later you’ll come to Kabbalah.
Often, people want to know how long a course in Kabbalah is or exactly how long this process takes. Today’s society would prefer everything boxed and ready to be picked up. But attaining spiritual wisdom requires a bit more effort. The wisdom of Kabbalah is a science and a way of life that enables us to live correctly. How long does it take to learn how to live correctly? That depends on the soul. But when we begin to study, we soon feel that we can no longer do without it, because life without our studies is so strange and narrow that without connecting life to the Upper World, to the soul, and to eternity, it loses its meaning. When we begin to feel like that, it is no longer possible to detach ourselves from Kabbalah and remain confined to our world.
Nowadays, we also run into a lot of different systems calling themselves Kabbalah. Generally speaking, there were two systems in the study of Kabbalah: one was called the “Kabbalah of the RAMAK” (Rav Moshe Kordoviro); the other is the “Kabbalah of the Ari.” The first was in use until the 16th century, when at the beginning of that century, the Kabbalah of the Ari was established. The Ari described it in his books, and all the Kabbalists after him followed in his footsteps. Baal HaSulam, under whose writings we study, is strictly a Kabbalist of the system of the Ari known as “Lurianic Kabbalah.”
The souls that descended to our world before the Ari were from the “old type.” But from his time on, there was a drastic change in the souls that descended, and some of them began to demand spiritual elevation. In modern times, many people think Kabbalah is only studied by those who are Jewish (meaning those following the ways of Judaism). Kabbalah is a method for connecting with the Creator, who is unique. In Kabbalah, a gentile who progresses toward the Creator is called “Jewish,” and a Jew who doesn’t is called a “gentile.”
It is also important to note that there is no age limit for the study of Kabbalah. Bnei Baruch has a student who is eighty years old, and also has students who have not finished high school. When you study, there are no differences between age or origin. The soul doesn’t make such distinctions.
Kabbalah is almost always studied in groups, over the internet, in local groups, and even some international groups exist. A group study accelerates the spiritual progress of a person who studies alone millions of times over. One who studies alone can only use one’s own Vessel to receive the Light of the Creator, meaning spirituality.
People who study in a group create a kind of spiritual Vessel that consists of all the participants, and everyone begins to enjoy the group’s illumination. Let us assume that there are ten participants. The illumination that is received is not ten times as much as a single individual can receive, but millions of times stronger. The reason is the incorporation, meaning the soul of each and every one of the participants consists of 620 parts, with each part joining the others. The mixture of the parts together creates one collective Vessel.
Even more important, the group must have a teacher. Studying without a teacher is impossible. The teacher should explain about the spiritual structure, how it works, how to approach it and how to raise oneself to it. Teachers should also explain how we can lift ourselves to a higher spiritual degree and how to control that spiritual level. There has almost never been a case in history when someone rose without assistance. It was almost always a case of a teacher and a student working together. Dr. Laitman is often asked, “How can you prove to me that you are the teacher I need?” This is a very good and just question.
Dr. Laitman usually answers in the following way: “It is your life. It was given to you just once and you want to make the most of it. But how can a teacher prove to you that they are better than anybody else?”
Kabbalah has a very simple answer: one should study where one’s heart desires, where one feels one belongs. It should not be a place where you are being persuaded to feel that it’s “your place,” or that you’re being pushed to accept. When you detach yourself from persuasions, from anything external, from your upbringing and from everything that you have heard in your entire life, and feel in your heart that it is the place for you, then you should stay. That is the only test!
To correct another fallacy, there is also no discrimination regarding whether men or women can study Kabbalah. Both sexes must develop spiritually. The only difference lies in the method. The beginning of the learning process is the same. That is why in our introductory courses there is no difference between the method provided for men and for women.
Later on, if a person goes deeper into the study of the actual Kabbalah, the difference in the method becomes apparent. Men and women begin to perceive the world differently, because men and women are indeed two different worlds and have a different perception of creation. In point of fact, the souls of men are more corrupt and need more correction than those of women. Sorry, guys!!!!