Sunday, January 30, 2005
Some questions I've seen here and elsewhere make it clear there's alot of confusion in the complex and esoteric area of Kabbalah, so I thought some general introduction is in order.
Kabbalah studies are generally classified into 3 categories.
Theoretical Kabbalah is the study of texts (and so forth) that lead one to understand the world, G-d's relationship to it, your actions in it and the impact of those actions. This often leads to one changing those actions to improve oneself and/or (and more importantly) improve the world, at least your little corner, in the best way you can. These actions would best be described as the application of theoretical kabbalah to your life.
Meditative Kabbalah is somewhat as it sounds, actual meditation. There are two general categories of this. The first is somewhat generic meditation with a kabbalistic flavor, that is, meditating to focus the mind and control the thoughts using kabbalah concepts as the points of meditative focus.
The second is kavanot, focused meditations as part of Jewish prayer that comprise permutations of G-d's names, through which one can focus G-d's energies in this world and bring down blessings or repair spiritual breaches (tikkunim), or transport oneself to visit the heavenly realms. This is only for those with years of proper foundation, instruction, and study, with high levels of purity and holiness.
Practical Kabbalah is using of kabbalistic techniques to directly manipulate the spiritual forces of the world, including spiritual beings (best english translation but not exactly the same 'western' concept, angels), thereby directly impacting/manipulating the physical world. This is absolutely only for those masters of all the above, the highest levels of purity and holiness, and under direct instruction of a holy master.