How to Study Kabbalah Along With Your Religious Beliefs

Kabbalah is an empirical method, not a belief. Any person can study it, regardless of race, gender or nationality, and the goal of Kabbalah studies is to attain a higher reality.

“Attainment” means a clear perception and sensation, not an idea, theory or philosophy. How can you reach such an attainment, and what does it give you?

The higher level of reality that one attains through correct Kabbalah study has been given many names. As you can see in Baal HaSulam’s above definition, he uses the words “His Godliness” to define the higher level of reality. You will also find words in Kabbalistic texts such as the “Upper Force,” “Upper Light,” “the Creator,” “Nature,” “God,” “the Lord” and “the King,” all describing that higher level of reality.

What do these terms define?

They define a quality of bestowal and love, which is the source of everything that exists in reality. This quality is also defined as a desire to bestow, often cited as a “will to bestow.”

Opposite the higher level of reality is us in our current level of reality. You could call it the “lower level of reality.” As the quality of the higher level of reality is bestowal, opposite to it is the quality of reception, also called the “will to receive.” That is the quality of what is called “the creation” in the wisdom of Kabbalah, or in Baal HaSulam’s above definition, “the creatures.”

This then brings about the question: If the wisdom of Kabbalah is a method where any person, while alive in this lifetime, can attain a higher level of reality, which means attaining access to a quality of bestowal, why would anybody want to do that?

The reasons why are as follows:

1) Transient Pleasure vs. Continuous Pleasure

In our current level of reality, every time we find pleasure, it dissipates. The pleasure neutralizes the desire. For example, if you’re hungry and you really want to eat, and you’re handed your favorite dish, then your first bite of that dish is pure bliss. The more you continue to eat, the lesser the pleasure you feel. At a certain point, you’ll feel satiated: the desire to eat became quenched. Moreover, if you’d continue eating, the same action that was giving you pleasure a few moments ago, you’d start feeling sick.

Our problem in our current level of reality is that we don’t know how to sustain and increase our enjoyment. As a will to receive pleasure, our inborn nature is such that pleasures fade away upon their reception, they don’t increase.

The wisdom of Kabbalah teaches us how we can use our desire in a new direction, with what is called an “intention to bestow.” By applying this new use of our desire, we can start feeling enjoyments in an opposite way to the way we currently feel them: where instead of enjoyments fading away upon their impact, they increase and become continuous.

2) Incomplete Perception vs. Complete Perception

We live in a world of consequences, not knowing why we’re here, where we’re from, where we’re headed, what’s the purpose of us being here, and how everything is connected. We perceive a small fragment of reality, limited within time, space and motion. No matter how much we learn throughout our lives and throughout our human history, we never reach a state where we feel we have complete perception. By attaining the higher level of reality, we add that part that we’re missing in our current level of reality, and expanding our sense and understanding to form a complete picture.

3) Separation vs. Connection

We perceive ourselves as being separated from billions of other people, and many more animals, plants and objects. We construct our lives based on this separation, and encounter a life filled with struggles, pursuits and conflicts, often feeling like we just need to survive as best as we can until we ultimately perish. By attaining a higher level of reality, we attain connection to everything around us, seeing everything and everyone as pieces of a single puzzle, harmonious and integrated, like cells and organs in a healthily functioning body.

The meaning of the word “Kabbalah” is “to receive.”

In other words, Kabbalah is a wisdom of how to receive pleasure in its optimal form.

The way we receive pleasure optimally is by adding the intention to bestow above our reception of pleasure, which allows for the continuous sustenance of pleasure. The method of Kabbalah is in how to develop that intention to bestow above the will to receive.

Therefore, the suppression of desires has no place in Kabbalah. On the contrary, Kabbalah acknowledges the existence of each and every desire, and explains how we can best and most effectively use our desires to reach the perfection of the higher level of reality.

As we develop in our Kabbalah studies, we learn how to combine our inclinations and characteristics harmoniously, attaching them to the process we undergo. Many desires that appear negative to many people then spin into a positive direction. For example, take envy, lust, and honor. There is a Kabbalistic maxim that says, “Envy, lust, and honor bring a man out of the world” (Avot, 4:21).

The deeper meaning behind this maxim is that the world that envy, lust, and honor bring us out from is the world of the will to receive with no intention to bestow applied to it. The world they bring us to is the higher level of reality, i.e. where the intention to bestow rides the will to receive. This, however, can take place only if we channel these natural inclinations in a positive and beneficial direction, enabling us to attain the perception and sensation of the higher level of reality.