Friday, 1 July 2011

Early Kabbalah and Back to Basics

Early Kabbalah

Two of the tags that I use on this blog are Ma’aseh Merkavah and Ma’aseh Bereishit. These are the main areas of Kabbalah that I am interested in, aside from the teachings of Abraham Abulafia.

In terms of rough definitions Ma’aseh Merkavah is the school of Jewish mysticism is based on the visions of Ezekiel and Isaiah. The practices focuses on heavenly ascent and angelic adjuration as contained in the Heichalot (Heavenly Halls) and Merkavah literature.

The school of Ma’aseh Bereishit focuses on the mysteries of creation in the book of Genesis and its primary text is Sefer Yetzirah (Book of Formation).

Sefer Yetzirah is quite easy to get a copy off. Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan did an excellent translation and commentary in to English. I’ve also got a copy with numerous commentaries in Hebrew that I hope to start studying once my knowledge of Hebrew improves. Sefer Yetzirah is a manual of meditation that is said to take three years to master and some of the meditative techniques are similar to the ones employed in the Ma’aseh Merkavah school.

However, I’ve not had much luck getting hold of the Heichalot (Heavenly Halls) and Merkavah literature in Hebrew. There are copies available for scholars but since they’re priced in the region of several hundred dollars it’s out of my price range. It’d be great to try out one or two of the simpler techniques but that may have to wait for a couple of years.

Hence aside from creating a lecture for the end of this year based on the academic books that I read from October 2010 to June 2011, my quest to gain further knowledge in this is currently stalled.

I’m also quite interested in the works of later Kabbalists such as Chasidei Ashkenaz (German Pietists) and Abraham Abulafia. Their works are heavily influence by the previous schools of Jewish mysticism and Abraham Abulafia wrote a lot of explicit details on how to use Jewish meditative techniques.

On the other hand, the more speculative schools of Kabalistic thought as can be found in the works of the Zohar (revealed in 13th century) currently do not have much interest to me. That is in part because I don’t have enough time to study them and also in part because I feel a stronger pull to these other schools of thought and practice in Jewish mysticism.

Back to Basics

Whilst this blog has focused to some extent on posting about how Project Management techniques can be used to improve the focus and rigour of a practitioner – for the latter half of this year I’ll mostly be focusing on Kabbalah, mysticism and magic rather than Project Management.