Power of Kabbalah

At the appointed evening and time, I arrived to a conference room at the Kabbalah Centre. With eight other curious souls and here is what I learned from three attractive young women: sign up for the Power of Kabbalah (POK) class and all the secrets to Kabbalistic teachings would be revealed and my paradigm shifted. Each 10-week course will take me further on my spiritual quest. POK 1 teaches that I create my own reality. POK 2 shows me how to remove my blockages. Finally, in POK 3, I learn to become a purer channel for the Light of the Creator. If I sign up for the complete series—POK1, POK2, and POK3—I get a $770 value for $520. Payment methods include Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover, Cash, or Check (Payable to the Kabbalah Centre).

So, from what I gathered, I could have everything I wanted in the world—in particular “lasting fulfillment”—if I knew how to properly receive these gifts. Except what I wanted was to know exactly what Kabbalah was, which no one would tell me. I also wanted to take a look in the Centre’s main sanctuary, which I was told was off limits, and to sit in on a class in session—from which I had been swiftly booted.

Yet, at the Kabbalat Shabbat service in an ordinary reform synagogue just a few blocks from the ice skating rink I frequented as a teenager, on an evening when I did not expect anything and yet was open to what might come, I happened upon a group of people who were inviting, maybe even pulling, light into the world. No slick marketing materials, no fancy jargon, no pretty girls with evasive answers. Just a surprising number of old ladies and a bunch of other normal folks sitting in a big circle using their voices and imaginations to fill up with joy and gratitude and a sense of abundance so as not to be the sort of people who move through the world feeling needy or lacking—you know the sort, people who are willing to manipulate and lie and steal and hurt because they are hungry, always hungry. As I sat and sang, I understood a primary purpose of Kabbalah, if not all the specifics. It is this: to toil in the privacy of your own heart to know and feel that you are and possess more than enough so that you can show up to any situation with something to give. It might take an inordinate amount of work to acknowledge and meet your own voracious need, but it must be done so you’re not, intentionally or unintentionally, looking to sources outside of yourself to meet that need. Instead, you are able to offer empathy, support, forgiveness, or joy. Your light shines because your vessel is full and you have more than enough to share.

During my visit to the Kabbalah Centre, I bought a book called God Wears Lipstick: Kabbalah for Women by the wife in the husband-wife duo that founded the center. I hoped it would shed light on the Light. In it, she explains that before the universe as we know it formed, all that existed was the light and the original vessel. Everything we perceive as matter was united in this single vessel until the Big Bang blew it apart. Now we think of ourselves and all we see as being separate, unique entities when our true nature is really one of cohesiveness. The book explains that, in a sense, life is a process to “regain our former wholeness.”

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18 thoughts on “Power of Kabbalah

  1. Lovely reporting. I get turned off by people who want a lot of money for empowering wisdom that was so freely given by the wise ones who brought it into existence. I don’t like the restrictions to the sanctuary simply because one is not a member. But they are not alone. It harkens back to our discussion about “no communion for you unless you belong”. But, everyone’s at choice and if that need to feel special and apart brings them a sense of equilibrium about their worship who am I to interfere with it. For myself, the more freedom I can achieve from restrictive forms of worship the better I feel. I guess I’d rather sit with Jesus at the table of tax collectors and harlots than stand with the Pharisee who declared: “I am grateful not to be one of these.”

  2. “[in] your own heart to know and feel that you are and possess more than enough” — isn’t that the work of adult spirituality? After this awareness, generosity toward all others who are still struggling becomes much easier. I came to this through a 12 Step Program, but know other paths have worked for others. Thank you allowing me to see it phrased this way.

    • Valerie B, thank you for your comments. The 12 Step Program is one of the most adult spirituality sources I know and I’m not an alcoholic. Friends invited me to a national AA convention once in San Diego. As I observed so many having fun enjoying their freedom from addiction my thought was: “There are churches that would love to have these kinds of folks.” The Center for Spiritual Living requires its ministers to attend a few AA meetings as part of their training and each Center usually offers a meeting place for AA members. Locally, I know that the Episcopalian Church offers the same.

      • Me neither (alcoholic), but there were a lot of things I was trying to control and found I was “powerless over”. Feel so lucky that I was invited to try the 12 Steps.

  3. Interesting juxtaposition of approaches. Essentially, the first place tells you “You’re broken, but for $520 we can fix you by sharing secret ways to enlighten.” I’m also suspicious of places with “special spaces” only for the truly initiated. The other place seems to say “You already have enlightenment within you. We can help you get in touch with it and channel it for the purpose it was created.” I don’t agree it takes quite as much work as they seem to think it does, but if given a choice, I’d probably join the little old ladies.

  4. What a bargain!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ONLY $520, lol!
    I never did understand why paying a lot for something was supposed to make getting it better. Perfect example: I shop thrift stores, and I found a truly lovely Indian embroidered shirt, an obviously expensive one. For whatever reason, though it was new, clean and not at all worn, it was in a thrift store. I paid a huge sum for it – $3.00 When I wore it to church, several of the women oohed and aaahed over it and asked me where I got it. I replied, “at such and such thrift store for $3.” One of the women said “Oh!!! Don’t TELL anyone that; then everyone will think you paid a lot of money for it.”

    It is beyond me to understand why the joy and virtue inherent in finding something extraordinary for pennies wasn’t appreciated nearly as much as if I’d lied and said “I got it at Neiman Marcus.”

    I guess some people prefer a high price tag on something that can easily be obtained for nothing: knowledge. But I can’t comprehend it.

    Frank, you and I are in total agreement on this. I, too, would rather sit with Jesus at the tax collector’s table. I’d feel so much more at home there than with the elite. 🙂

    Corinna, I am glad you are sticking with the little old ladies (amongst whom I count myself, I must add) 🙂

    Yours in Christ

  5. sigh. im gonna opt out of comments on your latest posts, Corinna. Its not that im speechless, its just that it makes me sad – I think about people who have nothing, from all around the world, not even hope.

    And here are people who are trying to sell it.

    sigh.

    😦

  6. Oops! Excuse me, I thought I was reading a piece by Corinna Nicolao….lo and behold, it’s Tom Cruise!
    Money to remove the blockages….I wonder how much he has paid in!
    It’s cheaper on Wikipedia, and since you’re not doing a school paper, it’s ok to go there…..

    I was a little confused here…..Was the group in the other place practicing Kabbalah? I’m totally ignorant of what that does…..but I’ll settle for Wikipedia, and not pay the $520, thank you very much!!
    🙂

  7. “…normal folks sitting in a big circle using their voices and imaginations to fill up with joy and gratitude and a sense of abundance…”
    “…to know and feel that you are and possess more than enough so that you can show up to any situation with something to give…”
    “Your light shines because your vessel is full and you have more than enough to share.”

    These gold nuggets that Corinna has mined are priceless. And I was thinking as I read them, isn’t this what we’re all looking for? It sure is what I’m looking for. And sometimes I find it! yes I’ve had moments like this, even days like this. It sounds like what Frank and Janice and Merrill and Patti and Tim and Valerie and Phil and Carmen and so many others here have sought and found in various degrees, at various times, in their own spiritual pursuits.

    Corinna talks about the “toil in the privacy of your own heart” and the “work to acknowledge and meet your own voracious need”. For each of you who want to respond: what do you think the “work” is?

    • For me, the “work” is to finally recognize that that which you have been efforting for you already have and it is already within you waiting to be expressed. Make the discovery that you are the vessel that carries the spirit and knowingness of God and find ways to heal yourself from those things that hold you back from Its expression, like fear which has been seen in the acronym: False Evidence Appearing Real. I prefer the one that says: “Feeling Excited And Ready”. The God-self is a Divine Consciousness of possibility and probability that is ready all the time to let you express It in your own unique way. All you have to do is plant the seed idea. Spiritual practices like prayer and meditation help but are not necessary. The Divine Energy is always at the work of Its creation. Once you let go of ideas like sin, hell, guilt and payback and the negative baggage of your past, you can move more readily into that unique gift you have to offer into the service of life. God’s not waiting for you to ask. God is asking you to be receptive. God sees Itself through you.

    • Interesting question. For me it was facing the fear that I really was not worthy, as I had been taught so well by my father, my family and my culture. I was sure the major regrets and guilty secrets I held within were proof of that. I tried so hard to be a “good girl” because I didn’t know that I was a good person, warts and all. Working the 12 Steps with a sponsor helped me see myself in a much larger perspective and let go of that shame and fear.

  8. Wow, Shelley–that’s such a wide-ranging question. Personally, I’d say I’m working towards discerning what God is trying to say to me in any given situation. Most of our lives are spent making morally-neutral decisions and living in mortally-neutral situations, like which way I choose to take to work. I think God is okay with whatever route I take. But there are those other times when it’s a real challenge to see the good in others, in myself, or in a given situation. I think some of the answers are too simplistic, like when people say “God is testing you.” Life is not a continual quiz with God as proctor. Rather, I think He works in more subtle ways, trying to show me what He has in mind for me. That’s where the “toil” part comes in–toiling to look beyond my short-sightedness and see the larger plan. Looking back on many events in my life, I can see where I thought things were going seriously wrong, but ultimately they worked to my long-range benefit. And that benefit allowed me to pass blessings on to others–to let my vessel overflow as it were. For example, I have a pretty good job now, but when I was younger, getting a start was hard. There were many times when I thought I was going to get the “perfect” job but I didn’t. Eventually, I got to the place I’m at now, and that allows me the resources to tithe money and time to our church. It also allowed my wife and I to save our my son’s college, so he’s now getting an education that will hopefully lead to a place where he, too can pass his blessings on to others. There are lessons to be learned and shared in blessings and sufferings–at any point in our lives.

  9. Wow, I hope I have understood what Shelley is asking….so I’ll try to say something here…
    I don’t believe that there is a one-size-fits-all answer of any sort to what the “work” is. As a son of my Father, I am free to live in whatever situation I enter fully cognizant of who I am and to love others (a “work” is often don’t succeed at). It’s kind of like being here on this site….As I read through the various comments, if I believe that there is something I can contribute that is profitable (helpful, hopefully), then I do. I know I am uniquely gifted–as we all are–to exercise our individuality for the good of all.
    That’s pretty general, maybe nebulous, but it’s about the best I can do.

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