JEWISH MYSTICISM FAQS
Judaism is the organized-by-the-Jewish-people communal as well as individual worship of Jacob’s God (since it is Jacob who, in the Genesis, is later named Israel, “the God-wrestler”). In contrast, most other religions worship other gods. The different names of these gods aren’t “just” names: The names designate and signify different religious/spiritual conceptions and traditions. Read more
From the perspectives of today’s Consciousness Studies and Cognitive Science, one of the most universal definitions of mystical phenomena is through the notion of alteration of consciousness. All mysticisms entail altered states of consciousness (ASCs). However, that’s where similarities end; different mystical experiences involve and are brought about by different kinds, as well as different intensities, of consciousness’ alteration.
Today, the term “Kabbalah” is practically synonymous with “Jewish mysticism” (though the scholars normally prefer to reserve the term Kabbalah for a specific kind of medieval Jewish mysticism).
Kabbalah is Judaism’s mystical core.
In the long, three-millennia stretch of Jewish history there have been many different kinds of Jewish mysticisms—thus many different Kabbalahs. Read more
The mystical-initiatory Mosaic Kabbalah system of spiritual transformations (exclusively taught at iAiS-MaKoM Spiritual Retreat Center’s training programs) is different from other, later or subsequent Kabbalahs, such as the Merkabah (or “Chariot”) school, or the Abulafian, Zoharic, Lurianic, and Hassidic systems—let alone modern-day pop-Kabbalahs.
Mosaic Kabbalah enables the Liberation of Limitless Light (Ain-Sof-Aur) from Within and from Without. This is accomplished through, and accompanied by profound transformations in one’s consciousness and the resultant personal empowerment.
The Mosaic system has been codified within the pages of the Torah (i.e., “The Teaching”), the first six books of the Bible (the Pentateuch and the Book of Joshua). Through the method taught by the iAiS-MaKoM Spiritual Retreat Center one has an opportunity, if not to sit at the feet of the greatest Kabbalist and spiritual teacher the world has ever known—Moses the Servant of YHWH—then at least to experience some of the key elements of his singular, inimitable Teaching. Read more
Mosaic Kabbalah is the heretofore-undiscovered, nearly lost ancient Israelite mystical and esoteric lore, the kabbalistic system of Moses, the legendary adept and servant of YHWH the God of Israel. In accordance with the Sôd Hypothesis, this system was the very initiatory praxis of the First Temple priestly hierarchy, which zealously guarded this precious inner knowledge that founded the Jewish religion some three millenniums ago. Mere whispers were known to hint of its existence throughout Jewish history.
This system—called the Sôd, or "secret," in those whispers—is being recovered today through the coded “second-channel” metaphoric-allegorical coded level of the Hebrew Scriptures. It is there, inside the Torah’s pages, that the priests, rightly apprehensive of the coming destruction, embedded their system’s key elements. It'll henceforth be their eternal communication to future generations—across three millennia and containing one of humanity’s most potent and principal spiritual inheritances.
The mystical-initiatory, foundational system of Hebrew-Jewish priests of the First Temple in Jerusalem (957–587 BCE) was only recently recovered, in a rudimentary form. The discovery of the tenets and the crucial aspects of the priestly esotericism is the pioneering work of Dr. Alex S. Kohav, the founder of the Institute for Ancient Israelite Spirituality and the iAiS-MaKoM Spiritual Retreat Center. Dr. Kohav subsequently developed the transmitted-and-received outlines of the ancient Hebraic tradition into a teachable modern framework (which he named the “Mosaic Kabbalah”).
The ancient system of Jerusalem’s First Temple priests is the Jewish spiritual warrior’s Royal Road to Divine Super Consciousness. It has been sanctioned by the authority of the Torah itself (a.k.a. the Pentateuch, or the Five Books of Moses).
Called the Mosaic Kabbalah—a mystical/spiritual, bio-physiological, and psychosomatic ancient initiatory Kabbalistic praxis—it entails the worship of, and service to the Mysterium Tremendum—a.k.a. the God of Israel.
Mosaic Kabbalah is THE PRAXIS of the Liberation of Limitless Light from Within and Without.
When a Seeker attends a typical Kabbalah workshop or class, perhaps one should ask the following question. Had the Hebrew slaves in Egypt employed the meditations and/or spiritual exercises that you’ve just been taught in a class; or perhaps they listened to the wonderful Hassidic stories of beggars and rich people; or kept uttering the prayers current at Jewish denominations and congregations today.
Would such spiritual technologies have freed them from their Egyptian status of being slaves?
We should know the answer right away. The slaves would not have been relieved of the necessity to fulfill their daily quota of straw bricks—even if an ongoing daily practice of a wonderfully-relaxing 20-minute “transcendental” or some newest Jewish meditation routine is to become part of their lives.
And neither will you be freed, Seeker, from your personal Egyptian bondage, not through conventional denominational Judaisms nor via today’s pop-Kabbalahs.
“Meditation refers to mental strategies whose purpose is to effect transcendent states of consciousness. . . . Whereas the intention of meditation in Asia has been the cultivation of radical transformations of consciousness with soteriological [e.g., salvational] consequences, it has been used in the West largely to enhance physical and psychological well-being. . .”¹
Yes, there are specific meditations included among the methods of Mosaic Kabbalah’s “spiritual technology.” They are highly specific and idiosyncratic.
Using the terms of the above quote, Mosaic-kabbalistic meditations are of the “Asian” kind and thus are not at all about “enhanc[ing] physical and psychological well-being.” Rather, their aim is mystical-spiritual transformation of the Seeker—enabling, potentially, the encounter(s) with the Mysterium Tremendum Itself, the God of Israel.
Some traditions focus on forms of meditation that aim for the “control of one’s mind.” Others concentrate on minimizing or even eliminating one’s self.
In Mosaic Kabbalah, on the contrary, the emphasis is not at all on either controlling the mind or suppressing/eliminating the self. The mind is stimulated and supported to enable it to gradually expand into a much wider reality, a reality that is capable of withstanding the presence of the Mysterium Tremendum.
The self thus is dramatically enlarged, becoming “Mokhin Gadol” (or the “Great Mind,” in Hebrew).
1 Imants Barušs, Alterations of Consciousness (Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 2003), 195.
The acronyms “iAiS” and “MaKoM” stand, respectively, for “Institute for Ancient Israelite Spirituality” and “Mosaic Kabbalah Mysticism” Spiritual Retreat Center (in Hebrew, “Makhon le-Kabala shel Moshe”).
“Ha-Makom” also means “the Place”—this is one of the special appellations of God used by the Jewish worshipers.
The complete system of Mosaic Kabbalah can be generally described as “The Hebrew Way to Divine Hyper-Consciousness”; or called “The Path of the Kabbalistic Warrior of YHWH”; or presented as “The System of Encountering the God of Israel.”
The iAiS-MaKoM Spiritual Retreat Center is based in Colorado, from where the Center’s instructional activities extend to multiple annual events at locations around the U.S. and Israel. The iAiS-MaKoM Spiritual Retreat Center is presently the sole organization in the world that is teaching the heretofore-undiscovered mystical-initiatory ancient Israelite system of the First Jerusalem Temple era.
The mission of the Institute for Ancient Israelite Spirituality is to reintroduce the ancient, original ancient Israelite spiritual sensibility and esoteric knowledge into the contemporary intellectual discourse and religious-spiritual praxis.
The iAiS-MaKoM Spiritual Retreat Center’s objective is focused on the goal of teaching the one-of-a-kind ancient, original, and foundational Jewish-Israelite sensibility and esoteric knowledge and training the future instructors, guides, and initiates dedicated to the cause of reviving this precious tradition.
Making this singular, almost-forgotten and virtually lost, primary spiritual path available—in the context of the Jewish world’s and the larger humanity’s cornucopia of competing, alternative intellectual and spiritual choices—is the principal mission of the Center.
The Center provides access to one of the world’s foremost systems of spiritual empowerment and personal transformation—transmitted to us by the ancient Hebrew adepts and initiates through their “message in the bottle” within the Hebrew Scriptures. Read about IAIS-MAKOM CENTER
What was the Kabbalah at the earliest beginnings of Jewish history? What was the Kabbalah in its “Mosaic”—or the original, foundational—form? It is—in accordance with the Sôd Hypothesis—the nearly-lost initiatory system of Moses himself, the legendary adept and servant of the God of Israel.
In spite of the built-in dominant exoteric (or outward, external) elements that necessarily endure throughout the length of Jewish history—such as, especially, for example, the observance of the Sabbath day—the inaugurating esoteric spirituality of the Mosaic Kabbalah is fundamentally different from the many much later Kabbalistic schools, such as the Merkabah, Abulafian, Zoharic, or Lurianic and Hassidic approaches. The later Kabbalahs are significantly different in their methods and efficacy—and thus, their results.
They are profoundly different in the following crucial aspect: their respective approaches to God and the all-important God question.
The so-called “Mosaic distinction” (as one Egyptologist calls it) rejected not only the Egyptian magical pantheism, but also the anthropomorphic visualizations and human divinization of any sort.
Later developments within Judaism saw a partial reversion to the idea of human divinization, specifically in both Christianity (initially an offshoot of Judaism) and the rabbinical Judaism’s obsessive, still-present Messianism. This was inevitably reflected in the concomitant mystical schools (for example in Abulafia, a well-known medieval Jewish mystic who saw himself as the Messiah). The Zohar, while displaying awareness of many Mosaic Kabbalah notions, is also a paean to Messianism.
“Initiation” signifies a momentous, dramatic change in the would-be initiate’s worldview. It usually marks a period of a new, expanded self-awareness, including a modification or even full-fledged transformation of one’s identity. On bio-psychological and neurophysiological planes, such change registers as an ASC (altered state of consciousness).
Different religious and/or spiritual traditions have entirely different initiations, whether formal or not. Everything, or just some things, typically are dissimilar: their respective methods, aims, experiences, and, of course, the results.
Ask yourself the following questions (and realize that only an esoteric system such as Mosaic Kabbalah can answer them—since these questions are deliberately, specifically embedded in Mosaic Kabbalah):
Why would the Hebrew God prohibit human beings eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil? Doesn’t He want humans to know the difference between what is good and what is bad?
Does it make sense that Jacob a.k.a. Israel, the Forefather of the Jewish people and ostensibly one of the top spiritual people humanity has ever known, is presented by the Torah as a cheat, a liar, and a thief who robs his father-in-law?
And what possible meaning could those spotted, striped, and speckled sheep of Jacob have?
These and hundreds of other koan-like riddles, metaphors, and stories contain the nearly-lost, awesome Mosaic Kabbalistic system. Once seen for what it is, it will reveal its incomparable status as the unique spiritual heritage of the Jewish people, and of humanity as a whole. Visit the pages, What’s Judaism’s Holy Book? and What is “Kabbalah Religion”?
Crucially—as it was in ancient times of the First Temple priests—Mosaic Kabbalah is the only mystical-initiatory system the world has known that is entirely focused on achieving access to and establishing a relationship with the Mysterium Tremendum—the “Wholly Other”—a.k.a. the God of Israel. No other praxis can or does claim the same, including all other varieties of Jewish mysticism.
This practice is, understandably, potentially highly dangerous and requires knowledgeable specialized direction, guydance, and close supervision, in addition to a key requirement of inherent psychological and intellectual suitability of the would-be candidate for a Mosaic Kabbalah initiation.
The iAiS-MaKoM Spiritual Retreat Center’s training program does not claim to be appropriate for each and every Seeker or to be the answer to everyone’s quest for transformative spiritual experiences.
The Center teaches the ancient Hebrew Way—which has many similarities with other ancient as well as modern consciousness-expanding traditions. Yet, it is also, in some of its most crucial aspects, profoundly different—in its aims, methods, results, and conceptualizations.
To give a key example, while many esoteric-mystical-religious traditions focus on such transformational goals of the aspirants as the elimination of one’s Self or,at the other extreme, on the Self’s divinization, the ancient Mosaic Kabbalah endeavored to prepare the future adept for the most awesome—and awesomely dangerous—encounter of one’s life: the encounter of and with the living God of Israel.
Thus the emphasis of the system is not on one’s Self but on the Absolute Other, the Thou—with the resultant consequence of the Self's ensuing massive epistemic and cognitive expansion.
There are seven initiatory levels in Mosaic Kabbalah.
One cannot and must not go from zero speed to a speed of light in one go; this would instantly crush the experiencer. The aim here is being in the presence of the living God—it’s a terrifying and potentially-lethal or damaging experience for one unsuitable or unprepared for it.
The 1st initiatory level—the so-called Aleph-initiation called “the Seeker, or One Who Awakens”—can be described as a gradual realization by the experiencer of being located in a “Kabbalistic wilderness.” The aspirant then learns to avoid “Kabbalistic crimes and misdemeanors” (in a manner of speaking).
The 2nd level—the Yod-initiation level called “Kabbalistic Promised Land: The Hebrew (ha-Ivri), or One Who Crosses Over”—is indeed about crossing a fundamental threshold that puts one onto a path to a formal relationship with the God of Israel.
And so on. View Instruction & Training Program.
Does the would-be Mosaic Kabbalah initiate experience the rising of Kundalini-like energy, the so-called Kundalini awakening, as it is described in Kundalini yoga?
The answer to this question is a conditional “yes.” The crucial difference between the two traditions is that the ancient Hebraic system is not involved with the efforts to achieve “Kundalini awakening,” to “awaken” the bio-power of Kundalini energy and with attempts to raise it upward—let alone to “worship” the Kundalini energy as a goddess.
The ancient Hebraic system—the Kabbalah of Moses—chooses to focus, as can be seen in Genesis, on the “wells” (= the chakras), but, once again, not as it is done in Hinduism. There, the opening of the chakras is the direct consequence of “Kundalini awakening,” of Kundalini energy’s bio-power transit through chakras.
In contrast, the ancient Hebrew way is “digging the wells” (as portrayed in Genesis 21) and ignoring the serpent “goddess” altogether—that is, letting the Kundalini energy do what it will naturally, spontaneously. View "On Kundalini Awakening.”
There are numerous proposed theories of ASCs (altered states of consciousness) and mystical phenomena. These range from psychological perspectives (psychoanalysis, transpersonal psychology) and neurophysiology, to cognitive neurosciences, bioneurology, and beyond. [For a review of approaches, see the BLOG section [link to: “Explanatory Mechanisms of Altered States of Consciousness: A Critical Overview”]
Mosaic Kabbalah, while entailing a range of alterations of consciousness (including some of very advanced nature, at higher initiatory levels), occupies its own, unique classificatory niche, or category (see, e.g., Table 1, “Taxonomy of Mystical Experiences” in What is “Kabbalah Religion”).
Mosaic Kabbalah is designated as theistic-numinous mysticism, of the Mysterium Tremendum and monotheistic variety.
One viewpoint, from the neuroscientific perspective, suggests that a progression of “expansions” of consciousness may entail a more intense and/or broader either left- or right-hemispheric brain activity (resulting in “expanded consciousness”).
A more-advanced stage is the unison between the two hemispheres, a more substantial accord between them than is the baseline or normal functioning (this might be designated as “higher consciousness”).
What particularly pertains to Mosaic Kabbalah’s advanced stages is the following: The hemispheric unison suddenly shifts into a dramatically distinctive, elevated state representing a “new quality” and synergy in the hemispheric symbiosis (this might be called “super-" or "hyper-consciousness”).
Much larger cognitive-epistemic awareness and unheard of intellectual and spiritual vistas become available to the initiate, with concomitant intensification and growth of mental, emotional, and spiritual powers.
The iAiS-MaKoM Spiritual Retreat Center’s training program entails access to a one-of-a-kind “spiritual technology” and self-transformational, initiatory praxis. The program’s outline entails a total of seven initiatory levels; however, only the first four are being formally taught through the Center.
Some of the “coaching designations” for Center’s trainings and retreat activities are:
kabbalistic wilderness guidance
kabbalistic “Promised Land” mentoring
mastering kabbalistic sacrifices
empowered initiatory stages of Mosaic-kabbalistic induction
attainment of fearlessness
— giving an indication as to the range and feel of the Center’s core instructional emphasis and spiritual direction.
The trainings offered by the iAiS-MaKoM Spiritual Retreat Center are intended for Seekers who may wonder about the never-solved puzzle pertaining to the origins of the Jewish people’s extraordinary religious outlook and the unparalleled, still observable dramatic effect and inexplicable role played by them throughout history.
iAiS-MaKoM Spiritual Retreat Center welcomes all genuine spiritual seekers. Key desired qualifications include:
- Possession of a critical, sharp mind able to handle and wrestle with complex concepts—as well as unusual experiences
- Openness to new, often counter-intuitive paradigms, values, and interrelationships
- An abiding desire to encounter the God of Israel—by means of the authentic, original Hebraic tradition
Such goals are achievable during the course of iAiS-MaKoM Spiritual Retreat Center’s workshop-retreats and the concomitant transformative, esoteric-spiritual praxis—although any results cannot be guaranteed for each and every interested seeker.
Prior mystical or religious experience are desirable but not necessary for being able to participate in the introductory iAiS-MaKoM Spiritual Retreat Center's retreats.
Abraham—the first Hebrew proselyte who has crossed over to the Promised Land—has always had his and Sarah’s tent open to visitors who sought their God, the God of that Promise. Theirs is an example of openness, willingness to share the incomparable intimate, direct relationship with the God of Israel with all who would respond to that Promise’s still-felt, eternal vibration.
In addition to all Jewish would-be Kabbalists and spiritual Seekers of all levels of observance (or non-observance), the iAiS-MaKoM Spiritual Retreat Center welcomes non-Jewish seekers—Gentiles of either gender and/or diverse religious, ethnic, or spiritual backgrounds—offering an opportunity for the exploration of, and a chance to enter the spiritual “Land of the Promise.”
NOTE: Seekers are accepted for the introductory-level of the Center’s Instruction & Training Program. Acceptance is open for the Aleph initiation level conference & workshop retreats (called “The Seeker, or One Who Awakens.”) Admission to more advanced-level retreats is conditional upon successful completions of preceding-level retreats (attested to by the iAiS-MaKoM Spiritual Retreat Center’s formal “Certificates of Completion.”)