In the second century A.
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Known as the Ari the Lion , he established a basic system for studying Kabbalah, which remains in use today Besserman, ; Hoffman, ; Laitman, The primary aspects of practicing Kabbalah are quite similar to what we saw with Buddhism. Meditation is a key practice, attempting to immerse oneself in Yahweh manifested as self, thus fulfilling the self. A common technique is to meditate on some Kabbalah teaching or a passage from the Bible. It is also highly recommended that Kabbalah be practiced within a group of other seekers, and under the guidance of a Rabbi or teacher.
Similar to Buddhist mindfulness, Kabbalists also attempt to incorporate their practice into every moment of their daily lives. When you desire to eat or drink, or to fulfill other worldly desires, and you focus your awareness on the love of God, then you elevate that physical desire to spiritual desire…wherever you go and whatever you do - even mundane activities - you serve God. The mystical approach to understanding life and individuals has an interesting history in the field of psychology, with William James, Carl Jung, and Abraham Maslow being among those most interested in the study of spirituality and spiritual phenomena.
Accordingly, Kabbalah is becoming more popular, both in Judaism and in psychology, and the links between Kabbalah and psychology are being actively explored e.
Kabbalah seems to compare most favorably with a cognitive approach to understanding personality and healing broken relationships. Kabbalah describes a complex arrangement of elements that underlie our relationship with God, the universe, and consequently, ourselves and other people.
Understanding these relationships is the key to balancing our emotions, thoughts, and styles of relating to others. Unhappiness is viewed as the result of a serious imbalance in our understanding of the true nature of our place in our community, society, and life itself. While many different forms of psychotherapy help people to develop insight into their personality and relationships, Kabbalah proposes to go beyond insight. Only a spiritual path, perhaps augmented by a traditional psychotherapeutic emphasis on everyday problems and stressors, can help to balance the entire life of the spiritual person.
Thus, Kabbalah need not be viewed as an alternative to psychotherapy, but rather as a bridge between psychology and spirituality Weiss, There is, however, a problem facing most psychologists when it comes to the study of Kabbalah. They also study the higher dimensions of human existence, such as awakening ecstasy Hoffman, Yet Kabbalah goes even further into the realm of parapsychology, fully believing in reincarnation Besserman, ; Hoffman, ; Laitman, ; Weiss, In this book, he described a case in which he was able to help a young woman through the use of past-life therapy.
In continuing to study this phenomenon, Dr. It is vital to carry your logical, rational mind on this journey. To accept everything without reflection, contemplation, and thoughtfulness would be just as foolish as rejecting everything in the same manner. Science is the art of observing carefully with an unbiased, non-prejudicial eye. Similar thoughts occurred to Carl Jung and Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, both of whom were nervous about discussing their experiences with patients who reported near-death experiences.
However, they were so common that Jung and Kubler-Ross felt compelled to discuss them. Carl Rogers also reported similar experiences as his wife was dying.
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Thus, the Kabbalists are not simply a group of spiritualists reporting events that are not considered real by any well-known psychologists or psychiatrists. The truth, however, is likely to remain elusive for those who do not accept the evidence on faith. Although there are many denominations within Christianity , at times generating significant conflict between each other, Christianity as a whole has been a profoundly successful and influential religion.
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Approximately 2, years ago a man named Jesus of Nazareth was born. For 30 years he lived a simple life, but then embarked on a religious crusade that lasted for only 3 short years. At the end of those three years, he was crucified for having challenged the right of the religious and political authorities to lead the people, as well as their decency in so doing. However, he never outright challenged anyone, always teaching love, mercy, and peace. Following his death and resurrection he has been called the Christ meaning Messiah , or anointed , hence the term Christianity.
Christians believed that Jesus was no ordinary man, but rather the son of God Yahweh, the God of Judaism. They also believe that he was born of a virgin, through the power of the Holy Spirit. Although Judaic prophecy had foretold of the coming of a Messiah, they do not believe that Jesus was that person.
Yet, having arisen out of Judaism, Christians believe much of the Jewish faith, including the importance of the Ten Commandments. However, when Jesus was challenged to identify the most important of the commandments, he surprised those listening:. Is it really that simple? Christian Mysticism is as old as Christianity itself, for Jesus led a mystic life Walker, As the Christian faith became legal, following the conversion of the Roman emperor Constantine the Great late in the third century, Christianity became caught up in the politics of the empire.
Soon enough, a group of spiritual men sought to escape worldly politics and secular distractions by becoming hermits. They traveled out into the Egyptian desert and began monastic lives. In order to be with God, they did not merely seek solitude, but they also sought to eliminate their sense of ego.
This was attempted through what we might call contemplative prayer, or simply meditation. However, the sense of ego does not go away easily:. It will mean the end of our self-centered existence and all of its negative emotions…One cannot see God and continue to live as a separate person. This spiritual combat, essentially the battle between good and evil, exists because of our freedom to choose our path in life Clement, It was in recognition of this challenge that the desert fathers sought the solitude of the desert.
There they were able to pursue the ecstasy of unknowing, that which is beyond the boundaries of any human ability to comprehend or rationalize the experience:. At one time Zachary went to his abbot Silvanus, and found him in an ecstasy, and his hands were stretched out to heaven.
And I stood there until now, and now am I sent away. Although there have been many mystics who were men, including the desert fathers, Meister Eckhart a favorite of Erich Fromm , and the anonymous author of The Cloud of Unknowing see Kirvan, a , there have also been a number of well-known women mystics, such as Blessed Julian of Norwich see Chilson, , Saint Teresa of Avila see Kirvan, b , Saint Therese of Lisieux Kirvan, c , and most famous of them all, Saint Joan of Arc see Chervin, Thus, God does not discriminate based on gender.
Indeed, in one mystical experience, St. Hildegard of Bingen who lived from A. Hildegard of Bingen, cited in Chervin, Merton was a Trappist monk who wrote extensively on the monastic life, contemplation and silence, and connections between Western and Eastern spiritual philosophies e. Always supportive of these various approaches to life, Fr. Whereas Freud blamed this problem on the failure of religion, Fr.
Merton blamed the problem on a failure of faith:. The real religious problem exists in the soul of those of us who in their hearts believe in God, and who recognize their obligation to love Him and serve Him - yet do not! While a monastic life may have allowed Fr. Merton to serve God with all his heart and soul, not everyone can be a monk or a nun. The Benedictine monk John Main sought to offer an easy path to meditation practice for the average person.
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Having become interested in mantra meditation following his early career in the Far East and his study of the writings of the desert fathers, Fr. Main began leading meditation groups at a monastery in London. He continued these meditation groups in Montreal after establishing the Benedictine priory there, and he also began sharing his interest in meditation through the publication of books such as Word Into Silence Main, , Moment of Christ Main, , and The Way of Unknowing Main, Following Fr. In , Fr. Freeman helped to establish the World Community for Christian Meditation, with its headquarters in London, England, and he continues to serve as its director.
Freeman has written his own books on Christ as the inner source teaching us about life Freeman, , , as well as some very practical books on meditation practice and establishing a meditation group Freeman, , , Both Fr.
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Main and Fr. Were you aware of this, or did you think that meditation and Christianity were unrelated? Does it seem appropriate to compare meditation to contemplative prayer? The last of the Abrahamic religions to be established, Islam has also been a profoundly successful religion. It ranks second in numbers only to Christianity, with some 1.
Muslims , those who practice the Islamic faith, consider Jesus Christ to have been a great prophet, but they do not consider him to be the Son of God. Muhammad was born around A. An upright and honest man, Muhammad used to take refuge in a cave at Mount Hera, where he would contemplate meditate? The religion of his time and region worshipped many spirits in the desert, including one called Allah.
Muhammad came to believe that Allah was the one and only God, the creator of the universe.
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