What is the Kabbalah all about?
For me, the essence of Kabbalah is creating a posture or attitude within oneself of receptivity to Divinity.
Kabbalah means “to receive” in the context of an oral tradition. I believe the deeper meaning of the word is this openness to receive the Ain Soph Or, Limitless Light.
There are various means elucidated on how to create this posture within us. Some of them contemplative on Hebrew letters that are considered archetypal, and others meditative on the Tree of Life, a central glyph in Kabbalah although not all Kabbalist are interested in it.
Because Hebrew is archetypal, one can do a form of free association on the letters. If you look at the Hebrew Letter Tzadee:
One can see the shape of a kneeling figure or one in a posture of humility. It is interesting that this letter also is the root of the word Tzadik – a righteous person. This is a person that is able to receive the Divine Presence and achieve a state of D’vekut – union with the Divine.
Where can I start learning Kabbalah? What are the best books for beginners?
Kabbalah, Key to your inner power – Elizabeth Claire Prophet
The Art of true healing – Israel Regardi
The Mystical Qabalah – Dion Fortune
Meditation and Kabbalah – Aryeh Kaplan
Most importantly, learn to meditate on the Tree. The first 2 books should describe good meditations and visualisations.
How has practicing Kabbalah changed your life?
It absolutely has changed my life:
Meditation on its system of symbols (the Tree of Life among may) has brought healing and integration to my psyche – which is an ongoing process.
It has provided a framework for thinking about the non-physical levels of reality that cannot be described using everyday language.
Its practice has increased my connections with other people and the world around me in ways that are humbling and deeply joyous.
I recommend continuing your study of it and especially practice. It is a complex system yet in truth it is simple. Meditation will reveal that to you.
How does your knowledge of Judaic texts guide your intuition?
Personally I have found them to confirm intuitions that have arisen out of meditation and visualization of the Kabbalistic Tree rather than guide intuitions.
I am sure many people have used types of contemplation on Judaic, other religious or mystical text in general to guide their intuitions though.
For me, so far there has been one exception I can think of; the Sha’arah Orah (Gates of Light) by Joseph Gikatilla. I have gained a lot intuitive perceptions into the attributes on the Tree and their reference in biblical texts.
One reason could be that, unfortunately, in every English translation of the Bible I have found, the Names of God have been removed or replaced with Adonai, The Lord – as was the custom.
This has stripped the Bible of all meaning for me. It’s a little like reading a recipe book where each ingredient has been replaced with the word mountain, or some other random word.
In Kabbalah, what is the true nature and experience of Da’ad?
There is a method of healing family systems called Family and Systems Constellations. In a workshop space of about 10 people, each person can step into and represent a member of a client’s family. And the amazing thing is one experiences what it’s like to be that family member. You can be a totally newbe to this and it works. When many people step into and represent members of the family, the relationships and hidden dynamics become apparent.
So what makes Constellations possible is what’s called the Knowing-Field. I have not found a limit to what one can use this information field for, even future events can be setup, one can do it remotely over Skype, blind Constellations with no information of the client etc.
This was a long way of explaining what I understand Da’ad to be: Limitless Knowledge. Da’ad is depicted as a withdrawn Sephirah because it is unmanifest and the Limitless Knowledge behind manifestation. When the light of the Ain Soph Aur shines into Da’ad it reveals Chochmah and Binah – intuitive perceptions and intuitive conceptions.
The Tree of Life model is the best symbol of the human psyche that I know.