It is one of the interesting paradoxes of modern civilization, that our 'scientific' view of things extends only to those parts of reality which exist OUTSIDE OURSELVES. We all know that many important details of life are entirely SUBJECTIVE or "inner experiences," yet the philosophic committment to 'Material Science' prevents even our scientists from exploring the world BEHIND OUR EYELIDS. "Beauty is in the eye of the Beholder," we all quote; we all know that a sense of beauty is a major factor in the enjoyment of our lives.. but we somehow dismiss beauty (and the whole field of subjective states) as 'mere personal responses' to an objective world that we view as far more 'real' than our own lives.
But, what if that should prove to be a false view of reality? What if the world of 'mere personal responses' happens to be as real as (or even MORE real than) the objective world we are currently taught to view as 'Truth?'
Those are questions that it will apparently take western 'science' FOREVER to answer.. for they currently refuse to FIND OUT what the answers may be, by a scientific exploration of the Inner World. Being completely convinced IN ADVANCE OF EXPLORATION that they already 'know' the Inner Worlds to be 'unreal,' such 'scientists' have excluded themselves almost completely from those Worlds. It is the humble opinion of this writer that such 'thinkers' are not truly worthy of the name 'scientists;' for science requires us to explore ALL THINGS and prejudge nothing.
In the following pages we shall journey into those Inner Worlds, guided by that cadre of explorers who long ago saw-past the illusion that only matter is 'real;' the MYSTICAL SCIENTISTS of our world.. and especially those who call their science 'Kaballah,' the Personally-Received Teaching of the Hebrew people.
The "Personally-Received Teaching" or Kaballah (variously spelled Qaballah or Cabala) can officially be traced-back only about as far as any other Hebrew cultural development; that is to say, a couple-thousand years. Though it CLAIMS to have existed in much the same form as today since at least the Exodus from Egypt, so does modern Judaism.. which is a recent 'distillation' of older forms related to modern Judaism only by the common thread of the Ten Commandments. Bluntly, no one can say for sure when, where or how Kaballah began. Certainly there ARE Egyptian elements clearly stamped-upon Kaballah.. as evidenced by quotations from Egyptian funerary texts which say "Now I have come to the Tree of the Children (the "Tree Of Life" is a central theme of Kaballist lore,) and the Rosy-Faced ('angelic') Beings are with me." Other similarities seem to this writer to establish Egypt as the ancestral home of this Mystical Science.. but that is only my OPINION, and I never offer opinions as 'fact.'
Other details of Kaballah point to a later infusion of Greek ideas. For example, the Archangels who caretake the 'branches' of The Tree Of Life are TEN in number in the modern Kaballah; yet two of these are named not in Hebrew but in GREEK. Was Kaballah expanded from the Eight-fold (Ogdoadic) Path common to Egyptian and Hindi antiquity by contact with the 'Ten True Numbers' of the Greek Pythagoreans? PROBABLY SO, I feel.. though that, too, I admit as a mere 'personal inkling' rather than a 'fact.'
In the final analysis, the best we may be able to say as of now on the origins of this science, is that it emerged FROM WITHIN.. exactly as it claims.. among the early Hebrews (possibly while immersed in Egyptian cultural influences) and has been refined through many centuries of contact with all the other mystical sciences it has met.
But whatever it's origin, Kaballah certainly grew-up ALONGSIDE but not exactly 'within' Judaism.. for Mysticism is based upon SEEING FOR ONESELF (the meaning of the term 'subjective;') while all religions rely upon an 'enforced' Teaching or doctrine, beyond which one is not allowed to safely explore (much like the doctrines of modern 'science' in fact.) It is important from the very outset to make it VERY clear that Kaballah is NOT a religion.. but an Inner Science which happens to be 'worded' in Hebrew, and using all the same names for spirit and spirituality common to all other things Hebraic (including the religion of Judaism.)
While this may seem trivial, it is in fact CRUCIAL; for the temptation to write books 'explaining' and 'defining' and (then, later!,) ORDERING the study of Kaballah, is too great for humanity to resist. The only protection for the human mind in all this Commandment-prone world is THE RIGHT TO SPIRITUAL FREEDOM. It is the claim of Kaballah that this Right was 'written' into the very structure of Kaballah by Reality's 'author' (whoever YOU should decide that was!) Thus, books 'about' Kaballah are perfectly fine and possibly useful.. so long as every such book and teacher emphatically states that it describes THEIR OWN Kaballah or Personally-Received Teaching, from which you may draw examples of Technique only.. for your OWN Kaballah can ONLY be Received directly from WITHIN YOURSELF.
Here we begin exploring the 'traditional Lore' gleaned from Within by the many generations of other Kaballists who came before us; and the "Four Worlds" of Kaballah are certainly among the oldest and most respected tidbits of that Lore. Please note that there is nothing in Kaballist Lore that says there cannot be MORE than Four Worlds!.. only that there ARE Four already identified. These four are:
This Inner World is the highest of the Four Worlds, and is 'peopled' and 'governed' by some form of 'God.' In a little while we will describe The Tree Of Life itself, and there we will find TEN 'Branches' each of which exists in all Four Worlds; thus we must somehow accept that Kaballist Lore describes TEN 'GOD'-forms, one on each Branch of the Tree Of Life. These are called "God-ASPECTS" or sometimes 'the ten TITLES of God' in the monotheistic culture of the Hebrews. But what are they REALLY?! That YOU YOURSELF MUST PERSONALLY RECEIVE. All Kaballah can tell you (without infringing on your sacred Right to Self-Determination) is that these 'God-forms' are SEEN and RELATED-WITH by people throughout human history. YOU DECIDE how to cope with them!
The next World 'down' from the "Heaven" of Atziluth is the "lower Heaven" of Briah; which is peopled and governed by Entities a little lower than 'God' yet still so mighty as to amaze and awe countless mystics who have met them. The traditional term for these Mighty Ones is "Archangel." Naturally, there are TEN of 'em, each of which rules-over it's own Branch of The Tree Of Life. Much of Kaballah deals with how to contact and relate with these Great Ones.. for (being the Lieutenants of 'God' they are charged with the task of SPEAKING IN HIS NAME.) Kaballists cultivate a friendship with the Archangels, and use them to present 'petitions' to their Ruler.. from which benefits may arise. It is generally accepted that the Archangels are especially "prone" to conversational SPEECH, while most of the other levels or Worlds rely primarily upon Symbolism to convey 'dialogue' between man and Spirit.
Naturally, just a little lower than the Archangels are the ANGELS; the traditional name for a vast class of Entities glimpsed by countless people in the Inner Worlds, waking AND dreaming. Some of the other names for these beings include Devas, Sprites, Djinns, Elves, Faireys and Nature Spirits of a thousand descriptions. These entities obey the commands given them by their respective Archangel AND ANYONE ELSE WHO HAS THAT ARCHANGEL'S PERMISSION TO ADDRESS THEM IN THEIR OWN LANGUAGE.. namely, the Kaballist. Consequently, a great deal of Kaballah is taken-up in the study of the Language Of Angels.. which happens to be called 'Symbolism.' Kaballists using that Language to direct the activities of these Entities are called 'Magicians;' and they are among the most famous of Kaballah's products.
And finally, a little lower than the Angels (like man himself) is the World of MATTER; yet this is certainly NOT the 'dead, pointless stuff' studied by western 'science,' but ANOTHER Inner World where the Kaballist can journey. Here are not so much 'elements' as there are COSMIC BODIES obeying the will of Cosmic Beings most familiar to the uninitiated as 'the Gods of Olympus.' Yes, at the very bottom of The Tree Of Life are THE PLANETS.. expressed as (and related-with by Kaballists as) Living Beings. The Kaballist Adept is thus part 'magician' and part 'astrologer.' This World too the Kaballist can learn from and use to their advantage.. though not by 'commanding' the Planetary Bodies, but rather by LISTENING to them.. for these great Living Entities can teach us the wisdom needed in a world where Meaning can be hard to come-by. Certainly modern 'science' laughs loudly at this assertion.. though the laughter dims a bit when one points-out that there would have been no 'sciences' of Astronomy OR Physics without the work of Isaac Newton, who was himself a Kaballist, and described in great detail his own dialogues with the Planets, Stars and the Angels who govern them.
And having thus learned how to negotiate it by traversing the Four Worlds of Inner Space, Kaballah now reveals the subject-matter of the Inner Science itself. This is depicted as a Great Design, forming a Tree-shaped Pattern which exactly matches (and in fact, blends together) every other Metaphysical structure know to our species. Here you can find the Chakras of Yoga; the Ten Powers of the Pythagoreans; the Aura or Energy-Body of Spiritualism; each of the Light-Sheath 'bodies' of the Egyptians and even the Meridian-System of Acupuncture.. all displayed as YOU, to be cultivated into whatever degree of self-knowledge and self-mastery YOU YOURSELF may choose.
The 'final product' (though Kaballists are not prone to speak in 'final' terms, since Reality is to us an endless progression) of all this self-discovery is that each Kaballist becomes a 'Walking Universe' of their own. Having transformed their Inner Worlds from just another subjectivity, into a Ten-Dimensional 'Paradise' of their own.. invisible except to other Adepts.. the Kaballist has linked their own 're-decorated' and personalized Inner World with the greater 'Paradise' in which we all dwell; or (in the terminologies of 'religion') they "walk with God." Is this anything more interesting or desirable than any other human pursuit? We could point-out the famous 'powers' of the Adepts of all cultures as evidence of it's importance; but that might seem to be encouraging you into a deep study of this Received Teaching.. and that we will not do. Like everything else in our worlds inner and outer, that is for YOU YOURSELF to choose.