Are you familiar with Kabbalah? It’s an ancient Jewish tradition that interprets the Bible through a mystical lens. Kabbalah first emerged in the late 12th century in Spain and Southern France and offers insights into the nature of God. According to one rabbi, it’s aim is “to guide followers in their spiritual journey, helping them attain greater levels of connectedness with God.”
It has been said it can take decades to study and truly comprehend Kabbalah’s lessons. But fortunately, I found a short cut. It comes via the author and religious scholar Daniel C. Matt who studied Kabbalah for decades and condensed his knowledge into an easy-to-read book titled The Essential Kabbalah.
Matt informs us that the word kabbalah means “receiving” or “that which has been received.” While it refers to knowledge being received through vigorous study, there is also the potential that extensive study is not needed. Matt says that “if one is truly receptive, wisdom appears simultaneously, unprecedented, taking you by surprise.” He continues:
The spiritual seeker soon discovers that he or she is not exploring something “up there,” but rather the beyond that lies within.
In other words, God may be revealed by looking within yourself.
While I have no doubt that it can take years to unlock the true lessons of Kabbalah, there is one specific aspect of Matt’s work that offers a potentially shorter path. It talks to a spiritual practice that is similar to centering prayer, a way to connect with God that represents further proof that there is a common thread within all faiths. We all want to achieve an intimate oneness with the Divine.
I’ve edited this practice down to several key passages and grouped them into the 4 steps you see below. Please note that this a greatly abreviated version of the practice and that The Essential Kabbalah offers additional details. This is not meant to replace the practice but to give you an idea of the thinking and spirit behind it.
A 4-Step Kabbalah Practice
Step 1: Preparing
- When you contemplate the Creator, realize that his encampment extends beyond, infinitely beyond, and so, too, in front of you and behind you, east and west, north and south.
- Be aware that God fashioned everything and is within everything. There is nothing else.
- All your physical and mental powers and your essential being depend on the divine elements within. You are simply a channel for the divine attributes.
Step 2: Connecting
- Select a special place where no one in the world can hear your voice. Be totally alone. Sit in one spot in the room or the loft, and do not reveal your secret to anyone.
- As you prepare to speak with your Creator, to seek the revelation of his power, be careful to empty your mind of all mundane vanities.
- If it is at night, light many candles, until your eyes shine brightly.
- If your mind races, return to the place you were before the thought. Return to the site of oneness.
- If you wish your intention to be true, imagine that you are light. All around you, in every corner and on every side, is light…a radiant light…up above, the light of the Presence. The light is unfathomable and endless.
- Place in front of the eyes of your mind the letters of God’s name.
- Remember God and God’s love constantly.
Step 3: Listening
- Interpret what you hear in an uplifting manner, approximating it as best you can.
- When you see that you have achieved a little, concentrate more deeply in your meditation, until you experience a pure spirit speaking within.
- Search and discover the source of your soul, so that you can fulfill it and restore it to its source, its essence. The more you fulfill yourself, the closer you approach your authentic self.
- The desire to act and work, the passion to create and to restore yourself, the yearning for silence and for the inner shout of joy—these all band together in your spirit, and you become holy.
Step 4: Bringing Forth
- When you train yourself to hear the voice of God in everything, you attain the quintessence of the human spirit…by training yourself to hear the voice of God in everything, the voice reveals itself to your mind as well.
- When you desire to eat or drink, or to fulfill other worldly desires, focus your awareness on the love of God…elevate the physical desire to spiritual desire…draw out the holy spark that dwells within. You bring forth holy sparks from the material world. There is no greater path than this.
- In the end, the Blessed Holy One will guide you on the path that it wishes and impart holiness to you. You are walking in the presence of God while being right here in the world. You become a dwelling place of the divine.