A Consideration of Kabbalah/Qabalah Texts, Part 3

by L. Ron Gardner

This three-part article consists of my eighteen Amazon.com reviews of Kabbalah/Qabalah texts. The reviews are in reverse chronological order, with the latest reviews first. Part 1 was posted in August, and Part 2 was posted earlier   this month.]

Unmitigated Mystical Crapola


[“The Initiatic Path in the Arcana of Tarot and Kabbalah,” Samael Aun Weor, 1 Star]

I have devoted the past forty years of my life to studying, practicing, and teaching mystical and occult systems. I'm not only an expert in the foremost spiritual traditions--Hindu Raja Yoga, Advaita Vedanta, and Kashmir Shaivism; Theravada, Zen, and Tibetan Buddhism; Christian Hermeticism, the mystical Kabbalah, Daism, and J.Krishnamurti's teachings--I've also practiced professional astrology and have studied the I Ching and Tarot.

I have read numerous books on the Kabbalah (Kabbalah, by Moshe Idel, The Essential Kabbalah, by Daniel Matt, Meditation and Kabbalah, by Aryeh Kaplan, The Way, by Michael Berg, and Introduction to the Cabala, and the Work of the Kabbalist, by Z'ev ben Shimon Halevi, The Key to the True Kabbalah, Franz Bardon, et al.) and some on the Qabalah (The Mystical Qabalah, by Dion Fortune, 777 and Other Qababalistic Writings, by Aleister Crowley, and The Tree of Life, by Israel Regardie), so I think I'm eminently qualified to review this book.

In short, "The Initiatic Path in the Arcana of Tarot and Kabbalah" is the worst book I've read on the Kabbalah (and Tarot), and that's saying something, because most of the ones I've read suck. Anybody who gives this book more than a single star is clueless, or worse. The author, Sammy Aun Weor, makes one erroneous statement after another, and hasn't the foggiest insight into real mysticism and occultism. His sefirotic attributions are ridiculous, and on top of his mumbo-jumbo pseudo-mysticism and off-base occultism, the man, who bills himself as a master, clearly suffered from a messianic complex.

In the book's Prologue, it immediately become evident how lost in space Weor was. He writes: "The author of the Tarot was the Angel Metraton. He is the Lord of the Serpent Wisdom. The Bible refers to him as the Prophet Enoch." Complete fabricated nonsense. Then he writes, "Binah is the Holy Spirit, the igneous power. Again, ridiculous. Binah correlates with the planet Saturn and worldly understanding, and has nothing to with the Holy Spirit. Here's one more example of Weor's idiocy: "All of those students that practice esoteric exercises without working on the Arcanum A.Z.F. are similar to the man who is foolish enough to build his house on the sand. His house will fall with a great crash to the Abyss. We must build upon the Living Rock. This Rock is the sex." The rest of the book is more of the same garbage.

In sum, there is nothing good or redeeming about this book; it is simply utter mystical crapola.

A Crummy Kabbalah Book

[“The Key to the True Kabbalah,” Franz Bardon, 1 Star]

I have devoted the past forty years of my life to studying, practicing, and teaching mystical and occult systems. I'm not only an expert in the foremost spiritual traditions--Hindu Raja Yoga, Advaita Vedanta, and Kashmir Shaivism; Theravada, Zen, and Tibetan Buddhism; Christian Hermeticism, the mystical Kabbalah, Daism, and J.Krishnamurti's teachings--I've also practiced professional astrology and have studied the I Ching and Tarot.

I have read numerous books on the Kabbalah (Kabbalah, by Moshe Idel, The Essential Kabbalah, by Daniel Matt, Meditation and Kabbalah, by Aryeh Kaplan, The Way, by Michael Berg, and Introduction to the Cabala, and the Work of the Kabbalist, by Z'ev ben Shimon Halevi, et al.) and some on the Qabalah (The Mystical Qabalah, by Dion Fortune, 777 and Other Qababalistic Writings, by Aleister Crowley, and The Tree of Life, by Israel Regardie), so I think I'm eminently qualified to review this book.

In short, this book, like all the other Qabalistic texts, and the majority of the Kabbalistic texts, I've read is, in a word, pathetic--second rate occultism bereft of real wisdom. It's just a hodgepodge of so-called "magical" formulae presented in a disintegral format and context. The author mixes in bits and pieces of Hindu tantrism, rudimentary yogic concentration-meditation exercises, but exhibits no real understanding of yoga or mysticism.

This book is not the key to the "true" Kabbalah, the mystical-ecstatic Kabbalah. The term Kabbalah means "to receive (the Divine Influx, the Holy Spirit, Light-energy from above). And this book has nothing to say about receiving, or channeling, Light-energy, Divine Power from above. It also has nothing much to say about the "theoretical or cosmological" Kabbalah, the Tree of Life and its relation to Creation. And finally, apart from its hodgepodge of "magical" focusing exercises, which will not bestow any of the psychic powers the author alludes to, it also has nothing much to say about the practical Kabbalah--divination via astrology, Tarot card reading, the I Ching, or other methods. In short, this book is overpriced and crummy.

A History of, Rather than a Guide to, Jewish Meditation

[“Meditation and Kabbalah,” Aryeh Kaplan, 3 Stars]

"Meditation and Kabbalah" is an improper name for this book. The book should have been entitled something like "The History of Meditation in the Kabbalistic Tradition." This book, first published in 1982, doesn't have a lot of specific information about meditation, and author Aryeh Kaplan remedied this in his book "Jewish Meditation," first published in 1985. Hence, if you're interested in the practice of Jewish meditation rather than in the history of Jewish meditation and lots of stories about Rabbis, get that book rather than this one.

As a long-time expert in meditation (Hindu Raja Yoga, Jnana Yoga, and Kashmir Shaivism; Buddhist Vipassana, Zen, Mahamudra, and Dzogchen), I find the Jewish meditation tradition superficial and undeveloped, lacking an esoteric dimension. I'm Jewish by birth, but after having devoted considerable time to investigating the Kabbalah after having been involved with other mystical traditions, I can say that someone--probably yours truly in the future--needs to upgrade the Jewish mystical tradition. If you want to understand mystical meditation/contemplation from the highest perspective, check out my unique writings. Relative to the "mechanics" of real meditation, I put it all together like no one else ever has, correlating mystical contemplation with Ohm's Law and explaining it via dialectic.

"Kabbalah" means "to receive."[the Divine Influx, or Blessing Power, or Holy Spirit]. But how do you do it directly and immediately. Here's the secret: Be whole-bodily, directly and immediately Present (and pressing against) the Whole. This creates Pressure. Then be Absent (or empty of self and mind). This allows the Pressure to translate into (Divine) Power, which you receive (or conduct). Presence is the thesis; Absence (or Poverty) is the antithesis; and the Supernal Influx of Light-energy is the synthesis.

A Pathetic Description/Interpretation of the Tree of Life

[“Introduction to the Cabala: Tree of Life,” Z’ev ben Shimon Halevi, 1 Star]

"Meditation and Kabbalah" is an improper name for this book. The book should have been entitled something like "The History of Meditation in the Kabbalistic Tradition." This book, first published in 1982, doesn't have a lot of specific information about meditation, and author Aryeh Kaplan remedied this in his book "Jewish Meditation," first published in 1985. Hence, if you're interested in the practice of Jewish meditation rather than in the history of Jewish meditation and lots of stories about Rabbis, get that book rather than this one.

As a long-time expert in meditation (Hindu Raja Yoga, Jnana Yoga, and Kashmir Shaivism; Buddhist Vipassana, Zen, Mahamudra, and Dzogchen), I find the Jewish meditation tradition superficial and undeveloped, lacking an esoteric dimension. I'm Jewish by birth, but after having devoted considerable time to investigating the Kabbalah after having been involved with other mystical traditions, I can say that someone--probably yours truly in the future--needs to upgrade the Jewish mystical tradition. If you want to understand mystical meditation/contemplation from the highest perspective, check out my unique writings. Relative to the "mechanics" of real meditation, I put it all together like no one else ever has, correlating mystical contemplation with Ohm's Law and explaining it via dialectic.

"Kabbalah" means "to receive."[the Divine Influx, or Blessing Power, or Holy Spirit]. But how do you do it directly and immediately. Here's the secret: Be whole-bodily, directly and immediately Present (and pressing against) the Whole. This creates Pressure. Then be Absent (or empty of self and mind). This allows the Pressure to translate into (Divine) Power, which you receive (or conduct). Presence is the thesis; Absence (or Poverty) is the antithesis; and the Supernal Influx of Light-energy is the synthesis.

A Low-Level, Come-On Promo Book

[“The Way: Using the Kabbala for Spiritual Transformation and Fulfillment,” Michael Berg, 1 Star]

In "The Way," Michael Berg states that "Kabbalah predates Judaism and all other religions... and even predates creation itself." But then, in the book, he reduces the primordial Kabbalah to pop, dumbed-down nonsense by tying it to low-level occult Jewish texts. For example, he refers to The Book of Formation (Sefir Yetzirah), which, in his words, "describes the Hebrew letters as the foundation of the sun, moon and stars. Even intangibles such as love, mercy, and time derive from the twenty-two letter of the Hebrew alphabet." This is pure poppycock. But if you dig it, then Berg's Kabbalah might be your cup of tea. Berg, like many other pseudo-Kabbalists, states that "Kabbalah's most important book is the Zohar, or Book of Splendor." The Zohar, the foundational text of mystical Judaism, according to many, has been identified as inauthentic, as a forgery; and beyond that, it's simply not even close to as good as the premier foundational texts of Buddhism and Hinduism. The Bhagavad Gita, for example, is a quantum leap beyond the Zohar as a source of spiritual wisdom.

Berg says, "Through prayer, meditation, and simply by living in accordance with kabbalistic principles, we can maintain an open line of communication with the spiritual dimension of reality that the kabbalists refer to as the Upper Worlds." But Berg offers us no information on the so-called "Upper Worlds" other than "The upper worlds exist within ourselves, in the sense that each of us is an expression of all creation." One has to wonder if Berg himself has had any contact with these "Upper Worlds," which he is seemingly incapable of describing.

No study of the Jewish Kabbalah is meaningful without an in-depth consideration of the ten Sefirot, or emanations, that constitute the Tree of Life (sometimes referred to as "Jacob's Ladder"), but Berg, shockingly, never mentions them. This alone reduces his book to pure pabulum.

Berg mentions receiving the "Creator's Light." Kabbalah means "to receive" [the Light]. But unbeknownst to Berg, the Light one receives in true mystical communion is Un-created, not from God the Creator, but from God, the Un-manifest, Un-created Hypercosmic Being outside of space-time. Moreover, although, Berg does provide a few rudimentary meditation exercises, he fails to provide instruction on how to directly and immediately connect to the Divine Light and channel its radiant influx.

In short, Berg is a low-level, exoteric kabbalist (but a sharp Jewish businessman), raking in big bucks by selling naïve Jewish mystic wannabes a "Stairway to Heaven;" and this book "The Way" is essentially a come-on promo publication to attract the unsuspecting to his pricey Kabbalah Center programs.

An Outstanding Academic Work

[Kabbalah: New Perspectives, Moshe Idel, 4 Stars]

As a Jewish-born mystic-philosopher, I've long been fascinated with the Kabbalah--but, unfortunately, a great book on it has yet to be written (and believe me, I'm aware of what's been written on the subject, including Qabalistic renditions by Crowley, Fortune, and others). Moshe Idel's "Kabbalah: New Pespectives" is a fine historical academic examination of the subject, but in no way does it begin to penetrate to the mystical-spiritual or theurgical-theosphical core of the Kabbalah.

As an academic book, "Kabbalah: New Pespectives" is a work of outstanding scholarship and a rewarding read for anyone looking to gain intellectual insight into the emergence and development of Kabbalistic mysticism and occultism--but it will take an electrical guru-thinker to provide the radical (or gone-to-the-root), demystifying exegesis that the Kabbalah so desperately needs.

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

David December 22, 2017 at 11:37 pm

You seem to have missed one of the few books worth reading in this topic aside from Gersham Scholem and Moshe Idel. Leo Schaya’s “The universal meaning of the Kabbalah”

Reply

L. Ron Gardner December 23, 2017 at 6:47 pm

Thanks for the info, David. I’ll put it on my list of books to read.

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L. Ron Gardner December 23, 2017 at 6:53 pm

Thanks for the info, David. I’ll put it on my list of books to read, though because it’s a Sufi-influenced text (and most Sufism doesn’t impress me), I’m in no rush to read it.

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David December 23, 2017 at 8:03 pm

Don’t think Sufism is mentioned once in the book.

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L. Ron Gardner January 6, 2018 at 6:27 pm

David, I ordered the book, and will read and review it no later than next month.

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David January 10, 2018 at 10:11 pm

Looking forward to your review.

IJ December 27, 2017 at 10:16 am

Mr. Gardner,

Can you please explain what Jesus means by the following conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus. What is meaning of water referred to by Jesus?

Quote:

Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.

Thank you .
IJ

Reply

L. Ron Gardner December 27, 2017 at 5:00 pm

It simply means what one must be baptized in (or by) the Spirit before one can enter the Kingdom of God.

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IJ December 28, 2017 at 12:01 pm

Mr. Gardner,

Thanks. What is your take on Rabbi Tovia Singer operating from Indonesia? Do you think he will appreciate your views on the Kabbalah? He usually quotes from the Torah and other Jewish scriptures.

IJ

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L. Ron Gardner December 28, 2017 at 5:23 pm

IJ, I know nothing about Rabbi Singer. I doubt that any rabbi would appreciate my views on spirituality.And I can’t find any rabbi whose views I appreciate.

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IJ December 28, 2017 at 12:04 pm

Mr. Gardner,

Tovia singer is also a passionate critic denouncing Jesus Christ as the false Messiah. He even makes jokes about Jesus Christ’s crucifixion.

IJ.

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IJ December 28, 2017 at 11:59 pm

Mr. Gardner,

What do you say to almost all of the Rabbis of Israel, USA and Europe who all say Jesus is the false Messiah or Prophet? None of them accept the New Testament as word of God. It is banned in Israel and in New York state and USA it is banned by coercion by the Jews. Any Jew who accepts Jesus as the Messiah is practically black listed.

IJ.

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L. Ron Gardner December 29, 2017 at 5:00 pm

I have nothing to say to them, and no interest in what they think. Likewise, I have no interest in what Christian ministers say or think, since only a handful of them have a clue about true Christianity.

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L. Ron Gardner January 11, 2018 at 5:35 pm

David, I just read about half of Leo Schaya’s book, and lost interest. I’m not motivated to review it — I’d give it two stars — because my time can be better spent doing other things. His book is purely theosophical, and I disagree with much of what he writes. His view of the Sefirot is not one I resonate with.

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David January 12, 2018 at 10:54 pm

I agree his book is not particularly good. But there simply isn’t much of interest written on the Kabbalah.

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L. Ron Gardner January 13, 2018 at 4:53 pm

David, very true. But if you’re now admitting his book is not very good, why did you recommend it to me? It was a waste of my time, money, and energy to get it and read part of it.

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David January 23, 2018 at 5:02 pm

I was interested if there was something of deeper value in it, that I might not have been able to grasp or if my initial assumption was correct that it was heavily over written. It was recommended to me by someone whose opinion in these matters I value and I was looking for a second/more knowledgable opinion.

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David January 23, 2018 at 5:08 pm

Here was the original comment in the high I found that book.

Might be of interest to you.

http://forums.ayahuasca.com/viewtopic.php?f=19&t=21777&p=177201&hilit=Universal+meaning+of+kabbalah#p177201

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L. Ron Gardner January 24, 2018 at 9:30 pm

A well-written review, but the guy doesn’t grok the Kabbalah and the Sefirot, or he’d realize that Schaya “misses the mark” in his book, and regurgitates common, popular, but pathetic, interpretations of the theosophical Kabbalah, and offers no insight into the “higher” or mystical, Kabbalah.

Reply

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