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.”