The Arizal And The Mystical Capabilities Of The Mind – How Kabbalah Teaches Us To Be In The Moment

There’s no doubt that Rabbi Yitzhak Luria, the Holy Arizal opened the doors of Kabbalah to us

Kabbalah used to be a closed system of probing the depths Torah, and this wisdom was passed only from master to disciple. Those that were worthy, that is. Very few of the regular people knew about it or even cared enough to seek it. There were so many locked doors one had to pass to get even a small taste of it that the whole search was futile for most.

All of this changed when the Arizal settled in Tzfat and began to teach his disciple Rav Chaim Vital. It’s difficult to convey the contributions of (arguably) the greatest Kabbalist in the past 2.000 years, since Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, author of the Zohar.

The Zohar, as we know, is a very terse, complex, large and cryptic book which forms the basis of all Kabbalah. For those interested in how it’s structured, you can go to Wikipedia here, though every real Tzadik of the later generations has acknowledged that it was indeed Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai who wrote it, and not Rabbi Moshe de Leon.

Back to our subject. What is less known is the incredible mind capabilities the Arizal boasted, some of which many individuals nowadays can also attain. Rav Chaim Vital writes in the beginning of Sha’ar HaHakdamot (Gate of Introductions) the following:

“[The Arizal] was thoroughly expert in Scripture, Mishnah, Talmud, pilpul (dialetics), midrash, aggadah (the non-legal portions of the Talmud), maaseh bereishit and maaseh merkavah (the mystical secrets). He was a master of the language of trees, the language of birds and the speech of angels. He could read faces in the manner detailed in the Zohar (vol. 2, p. 74b). He could apprehend all that any individual had done, and could see what they would do in the future. He could read people’s thoughts, often before the thought came to their mind. He knew what would happen in the future, and was aware of everything happening here on earth, [as well as] what was decreed in heaven.”

The text goes on to describe other amazing skills the Arizal had, including knowing the reincarnations, the soul root of each person, reading through candles (this is usually an angel that resides in a candle), seeing souls and ask them whatever he wanted to know.

the Arizal could go to the Yeshiva Shel Ma'alah

A famous story from the Arizal

There are tons of stories about the Arizal and they all invariably point out to his immense love of Hashem, the Torah and the Jewish people. He barely ate, barely slept, barely spoke, and dedicated his entire life to Avodat Hashem.

Those who want to know more about the Arizal’s greatness can read them on Shivkhei HaAri (the praises of the Ari) and Sefer HaChezionot (books of visions). I don’t think they are translated though.

It was known from Rabbi Chaim Vital’s works that the Arizal suffered from a gastrointestinal disease which made it very painful to dip in the cold Mikvah. Nevertheless, he was careful to do it every time he could, without paying attention to the pain. The only time he stopped was when his mother told him to because it pained her to see him suffering.

Once, the Arizal asked his disciples whether they wanted to see the 7 shepherds, Avraham, Yitzhak, Yaakov, Moshe, Aharon, Yosef and David HaMelekh. They were intrigued and accepted immediately. The Arizal then said he foresaw that a tragedy would happen if they would join him but they nevertheless went along.

On Shabbat, they went to the synagogue, and the Arizal began calling one by one the shepherds for an Aliyah. First came Aharon HaKohen. As he called, a brilliant sage came to the synagogue, made the blessings and waited. Then came Moshe HaLevi. Then Avraham, Yitzhak, Yaakov and Yosef. The students were shocked and couldn’t believe it. One by one they came in royal attire, made the blessing and left.

When King David’s time came for the 7th Aliyah (corresponding to the Sephira of Malkhut), the sage came dancing and jumping with joy. One of the students smirked lightly and the Arizal said it was decreed in Heaven that he would die for making light of King David.

There are countless other stories which have been unanimously accepted by the Tzadikim of the future generations.

The Mechanistic Approach to Reality

With the rise of scientific thought, humanity started on a path that led to a gradual decline in the cultivation of spiritual faculties within the mind. While science has undeniably yielded tremendous advancements, it has tended to reduce the intricacies of Creation to mere sets of formulas and mechanistic interactions guided by principles such as empiricism and repeatability.

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These constraints pose significant limitations in comprehending the true nature of reality, particularly when acknowledging the deep capabilities of the human mind and the vast realm of subjective experiences.

In his enlightening work, “Spiritual Technology,” R’ Avraham Sutton articulates how the conveniences of modern life rendered certain “mind skills” obsolete, resulting in the loss of extraordinary mental and spiritual prowess. To simplify, individuals once possessed greater mental and spiritual potency.

For instance, many Rishonim regularly recited “Tefilat HaDerech” (the prayer for a journey) as a form of spiritual practice, recognizing the transcendental nature of their travels to distant places. The journey to spiritual realms was viewed as an exploration in itself, with the return to the earthly realm deemed potentially perilous.

The mechanistic methodology highlighted in science, does not seamlessly apply to the spiritual realms. Even in the physical world, the correlation between cause and effect is not always straightforward, as those attuned to the nuances of existence observe in real life through prayer and the manifestation of numerous miracles.

Hashem, fashioned the physical world to be subservient to the spiritual realms, providing the possibility for alterations and manipulations. Rebbe Nachaman’s teachings in Sefer HaMidot underscore the transcendence of prayer beyond the constraints of nature, emphasizing its potential to literally change physicality.

Examples of spiritual/mental skills

It is known also in the non-Jewish world that human beings possess a pretty big array of mental abilities that extend beyond the ordinary, showcasing the remarkable potential of the mind. While some may dismiss these capabilities as mere fantasy, numerous accounts and studies provide compelling evidence of their existence.

Let’s delve into a few of these extraordinary mental faculties.

1. Animal Communication: Some individuals display an innate ability to communicate with animals on a deeper level. This goes beyond mere understanding of animal behavior; it involves a telepathic connection that enables mutual understanding. There are instances of individuals who can calm agitated animals, convey thoughts, or even receive intuitive insights from pets, fostering a unique bond.

2. Energy Sensitivity: Sensing and interacting with subtle energies is another remarkable mental skill. People with heightened energy sensitivity can perceive the energetic vibrations of places, objects, or individuals. This ability is often associated with practices like Reiki, where practitioners use their intuitive senses to detect and channel energy for healing purposes, as well as Tai Chi and Acupuncture.

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3. Precognition and Retrocognition: Some individuals have the gift of glimpsing into the future (precognition) or recalling events from the past (retrocognition). These abilities challenge conventional notions of time and have been reported in various cultures throughout history. Modern examples include individuals who claim to have accurately predicted specific events or vividly experienced historical scenes.

4. Telepathy: The transmission of thoughts or feelings between individuals without the use of conventional communication is known as telepathy. Real-life instances of people accurately picking up on the thoughts of others or experiencing shared emotions from a distance challenge the boundaries of traditional understanding.

5. Clairvoyance: Clairvoyance involves the ability to perceive information beyond the ordinary human senses. Individuals with this skill may see visions, symbols, or events beyond the scope of their physical surroundings. There are documented cases of clairvoyants providing accurate details about distant locations or future occurrences.

These examples underscore the awesome array of mental abilities that human beings may possess. As we explore these extraordinary mental faculties, it becomes evident that the mechanistic worldview, while valuable in many respects, falls short in explaining the full spectrum of human experience.

Embracing the complexity and richness of the mind opens up new possibilities for understanding and harnessing these latent abilities for personal growth and collective well-being.

In other words, this is real and 100% attainable.

How to gain spiritual skills

Many people posses innate abilities to communicate with animals, perceive energy, and glimpse into the past or future. These capacities, far from being inherently negative or associated with impurities (Tumah), reveal the astounding potential within our souls/consciousness—an unimaginable power that transcends conventional understanding of science.

Drawing from Kabbalistic sources, it’s essential to dispel the notion that these abilities are inherently “magical”; rather, they form an integral part of the human experience and the fundamental fabric of Creation. That is, our perception of them as fantastical results from conditioning over the years.

One pivotal insight is that the cultivation of any such skill commences with the opening of the mind through meditation. Echoing the teachings of the Arizal, abstaining from physical indulgences serves to elevate the mind, fostering genuine holiness and guarding against influences from the Sitra Achra (the other side, evil).

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Adding the belief in one’s inherent powers, coupled with a profound connection to the depths of the soul (their origin), represents two crucial keys to unlock these latent abilities. It is important that such desires stem from authenticity and benevolence. While the altruistic intention to assist others is commendable, it should not become an end in itself.

Those adept at quieting the incessant chatter of the mind often discern the subtle whispers emanating from the soul—a testament to the untapped potential within. This is a great exercise, by the way: to merely meditate on silencing the mind completely.

It should be emphasized that the utilization of Practical Kabbalah is expressly forbidden, a stance underscored by the Arizal and Rav Chaim Vital due to its potential dangers. This caution arises from the absence of the purifying waters of the Red Heifer. However, the Talmud records instances where sages employed such powers for benevolent purposes, even using the Holy Names.

Although reaching the level of the Arizal may be an ambitious goal, there are numerous attainments within our grasp when we commit our minds to the endeavor.

And Hashem does not withhold goodness from those who tread His paths in purity and sincerity.

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Chaim Apsan

Chaim is a teacher and Kabbalah enthusiast. He loves helping Jews connect with true Torah teaching and enhancing their spiritual growth. With a focus on meditation, he guides individuals on transformative journeys of prayer, contemplation, and connection with Hashem. He lives in Jerusalem with his wife and kids, and is committed to sharing the wisdom and power of Kabbalah in a genuine way.

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