Thursday, September 17, 2009

What is Kabbalism?

Perhaps the best way to start answering this question is by dispelling a few rather common misconceptions. Kabbalism is not augery, as some of my acquaintances seem to believe. While some Kabbalists use numerology to try and fortell the future, and others occupy themselves with uncovering secret codes in the Bible, these are incidental aspects at best. Unfortunately, these aspects of Kabbalism seem to get all the play in the popular media.

Kabbalism is first and foremost a doctrine of scriptural understanding. There are several firm criteria used in the process. First, God (Ein Sof) is infinitely perfect and infinitely knowing. Any interpretation of scripture that challenges these attributes must be incorrect. Further, in perfect being, there is no contradiction. The Bible is God's Word. If an interpretation of scripture contradicts other parts of scripture, it is incorrect. Next, the world around us is God's perfect creation...from God's Divine perspective. We are on the inside of creation looking out, plus we have the capacity to judge what we see. But, we cannot take God's perspective on the world and grasp the necessity of all things we percieve to be flawed or evil. Regardless, our understanding of scripture should agree with our understanding of the world. If what we discover in the world, be it scientific or historical, does not agree with our interpretation of scripture, then our understanding of scripture must be flawed and in need of change. In addition, when studying scripture, we should do our best to keep all passages in context with other biblical passages, along with keeping it in context with scientific and/or historical information whenever appropriate. Lastly, the use of dogmatic tenets of belief are to be rejected. Dogma is literally base opinion, either supported by biblical passages taken out of context, or unsupported by scripture in total.

As one can see, the use of Kabbalist methodology in the process of understanding scripture is a daunting task. And, the challenges posed to Christian dogma can be quite frightening, at first. Zohar teaches that the initial fear experienced when confronted by information that challenges commonly-held beliefs, is good. It's normal. Before we can replace incorrect teachings with correct understanding, we must unlearn the old before the new can be considered and embraced. This necessarily induces a feeling of fear. Once the fear passes and the new idea is understood, the feeling is exhilarating.

Regardless, some of the explanations of scripture found in Zohar, written over 1800 years ago, have proven to be the case. The anticipations of modern science are astonishing. Perhaps the most jaw-dropping anticipation concerns the creation story of Genesis. Zohar's explanation sounds remarkably like the Big Bang theory! Everything in Big Bang is also in Zohar, and vice versa. One might judge it impossible for any 1800 year old text to have correctly anticipated Big Bang, and it is certainly counter-intuitive. However, one only need read Zohar to find out that it actually happened.

"The era of creation or manifestation had at last arrived. The nekuda reshima, primal point or nucleus, appeared. From it emanated and expanded the primary substance, the illimitable phosphorescent ether, of the nature of light, formless, colorless, being neither black nor green nor red. In it, latent yet potentially as in a mighty womb, lay the myriad prototypes and numberless forms of all created things as yet indiscernible, indistinguishable. By the secret and silent action of the divine will, from this primal luminous point radiated forth the vital life-giving spark which, pervading and operating in the great, enteric ocean of forms, became the soul of the universe, the fount and origin of all mundane life and motion and terrestrial existence, and in its nature and essence and secret operation remains ineffable, incomprehensible and indefinable." (Zohar)

The above quotation is but a small fraction of the entire explanation of the creation story, in fact it applies only to the first sentence of scripture! I think this one brief quote gets the point across. Other anticipations include Copernicus, Newton's gravitation, Darwin's idea of species evolution, Mendel's notion of phenotypical inheritance, Einstein's relativity, and the existence of extra-solar planets. Seemingly impossible for ancient texts, but none-the-less true.

Who hath ears, let him hear, who hath eyes let him behold,
and who hath a heart to understand, let him listen and attend to the words and teachings
of the spirits of all spirits respecting the four quarters of parts of the world.' (Zohar)

Kabbalism's explanations of scripture have stood the test of time. The moment has arrived for this incredible doctrine of scriptural understanding to be revealed to the Christian world, and no longer kept by only a minority of devoted orthodox Jews. After all, Christians have always been the first reformed Jewish movement.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Christian Teachings are Static

The human race's understanding of the world and universe around us has grown several orders of magnitude over the past 1500 years. But, the core Christian teachings of the stories in the Bible have not changed much, if at all, over the same period. The Reformation was largely institutional, incorporating the modified doctrine of a personal relationship with Jesus, but the teachings of Bible stories remained the same as before. Beginning with Copernicus, then through Newton, Darwin, and Hawking, many of the rigidly-held historical teachings of Bible stories were discovered to be incorrect. Rather than change the approach to these challenged stories and make them fit such discoveries, all Christian churches and denominations have used a different tactic. It is now generally taught that the stories in the Bible themselves are mythic. We can't really believe them to be factual. The important thing is the moral, ethical, and spiritual philosophies the stories represent. This approach is a dangerous cop-out. Continuing in this direction promises to eventually turn Christianity into a purely mythic theosophy. St. Augustine taught that if our understanding of the world contrdicts our interpretation of scripture, then we are interpreting scripture incorrectly! Human understanding of God's creation has evolved, but Christian understanding of God's Word has not. It's time for this to fact the change is long past due. The only interpretational doctrine that seems to have stood the test of time is Kabbalism. My research indicates that Kabbalist methodologies have only once been applied to Christian theosophy, by several 17th century British Pre-Enlightenment figures like Isaac Newton, Henry More, and Vizcountess Anne Conway. The world wasn't ready for it then. I pray the world is ready for it now!