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Prologue to Postmodern Kabbalah

Postmodern Kabbalah is a post-secular, non-panentheistic, and post-religious mode of studying reality and divinity, with special focus on process ontology, preontological chaos, logos, noumenal chaos, co-possible monads, postontological chaos, non-co-possible system, and God-building.

Antony Kagirison

Postmodern Theology is a post-secular and post-religious mode of studying religion that emerged from Philosophical Postmodernism. This theology presumes that religion offers value to humanity while negating the argument presented by militant materialistic atheists that religion is a form of schizophrenia of psychogenic origin that afflicts human beings.

Medicalization of Religion

The idea that religion should be classified as a psychiatric disease – as argued by the neuroendocrinologist, Robert Morris Sapolsky – reveals how psychiatry can be used to pathologize lifestyles and ideologies. This process of declaring an idea or lifestyle as a disease (usually by healthcare professionals) is called medicalization.

Medicalization allows for the mainstreaming of oppression of people who have adopted the medicalized (or pathologized) lifestyle or idea. It is why postmodernists like Félix Guattari, Michel Foucault, and Gilles Deleuze formed the anti-psychiatry movement to oppose oppression through medicalization. This movement counted prominent psychiatrists among its ranks including David Graham Cooper (who coined the term anti-psychiatry and wrote an introduction to the book, Madness and Civilization: A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason), Franco Basaglia, Giorgio Antonucci, Silvano Arieti, Timothy Leary, Theodore Lidz, and Ronald David Laing.

When Dr.Charles Binet-Sanglé wrote the 4-volume tome titled The Madness of Jesus in 1908 (published in 1910), he used psychology to discredit Christianity as the physical and psychological manifestation of religious paranoia that started with Jesus whom he diagnosed as demented and his apostles and followers whom he diagnosed with various forms of auditory and visual hallucinations. Basically, he described religious people as diseased people who need to be healed or managed in a far worse way. In his other influential work, Le Haras Humain, he argued that eugenics should be used to improve the human population and that euthanasia was a necessary means to end the lives of some people, including people diagnosed with psychiatric diseases. As is evident, the medicalization of religion is the first step towards using science to justify mass killings of human beings who are regarded as undesirable. Is it any wonder that scientists played a vital role in the eugenic program and extermination campaign implemented by the Third Reich?

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Stained glass art depicting Jesus and his disciples – who later became apostles. CREDIT.

It is for this reason that I disagree with militant atheists who want to medicalize religion because their aim (either expressed openly or implicitly) is to justify political oppression, social ostracization, and mainstream bigotry. Medicalization always targets a well-defined target population for oppression and ostracization.

The medicalization of religion is the first step towards using science to justify mass killings of human beings who are regarded as undesirable.

At this moment, one may ask: what is religion?

What is Religion?

As explained in Gnosophy and Management of Religious Trauma Syndrome, there is no standard definition of religion. Etymologically, religion is derived from the Latin root, religio, a term that designates duties and rituals needed to keep our human world in equilibrium with the divine world. This divine world is the platonic Perfect World, which the great divine Plato described as the realm of forms. This Platonic Perfect World inspired the account of creation recorded in Chapter 1 of the Book of Genesis. Though notable philosophers like Friedrich Nietzsche and Arthur Schopenhauer questioned the existence of a perfect world, my assertion is that a perfect world exists and provides a model that allows for a comparison between our current existence with our ideal existence. This is congruent with the Hegelian idea that human history strives towards world perfection, and the attainment of this perfection would mark the end of history.

Postmodern Christianity defines religion as the work needed to keep the human world in equilibrium with the ideal world. Still, it adopts the classical definition of a pious person and a superstitious person.

As explained in Gnosophy and Management of Religious Trauma Syndrome, a pious person is one who performs the religious duties and rituals in the right way and in the correct measure, while the superstitious person is one who fears the divine world and ends up negating the equilibrium that religion needs to establish between the divine and mundane worlds. In other words, superstitious clergy harm religion as much as they cheapen, disgrace, and demean human existence in this world.

As can be deduced from the information above, I consider the end of history as the era where only pious people exist in the world. However, this raises a question: who determines what piety is? The answer is simple – religion determines what piety is, thus allowing it to differentiate between piousness and impiety. This returns us to the issue of binary oppositions. Are piety and impiety mutually exclusive descriptions of a person? Can a pious person engage in impious activities? If yes, then is his/her piety negated? If his/her piety is not negated, then piety and impiety need to be transformed from binary opposites into scales on a continuum. How can this be done?

Let us consider how postmodernism obliterates binary opposition so as to allow for the study of Kabbalah.

Postmodern Christianity defines religion as the work needed to keep the human world in equilibrium with the ideal world…(A) superstitious clergy harm religion as much as they cheapen, disgrace, and demean human existence in this world

Non-Rationality, Postmodernism, and Kabbalah

The greatness of postmodernism is the blurring of divisions between binary opposites such as rationality and irrationality. By introducing a new term, non-rationality, the sharp differences between rationality and irrationality are transformed into extreme ends of a continuum. These extreme ends are bridged together by the non-rationality which forms the mid-section of the continuum. So, non-rationality is neither rational nor irrational, but contains essences of both at its margins.

Why is non-rationality important in this post? It is important because the subject of this post is Kabbalah which is a non-rational subject.

Kabbalah is the Hebrew word for tradition, which is interesting because Kabbalah emerged in the 13th Century in the regions of Iberia, France, Italy, and Germany. It did not emerge in Israel or Galilee, even though it is ascribed to the Tannaitic sage and anti-Roman revolutionary, Shimon bar Yochai. Today, Kabbalah forms the bulk of mainstream Jewish mysticism. That said, Jewish mysticism is not Kabbalah, but Kabbalah is Jewish mysticism.

Now, let us consider mysticism.

Mysticism is a mode of learning about reality through experiences, formal education, and the non-rational interpretation of experiences and acquired information.

As applied to Postmodern Christianity, Kabbalah is described as a paradigm developed to interpret and understand reality. How Kabbalah came into existence is explained in a different post titled Historical Development of Kabbalah.

What is Cabala, Hermetic Qabalah, Greek Qabalah, Wiccan Qabalah, and Qlipothic Qabalah?

To develop new forms of Kabbalah that can be decoupled from Jewish mysticism, the new form of Kabbalah must be qualified by a term – usually, the term is the name of the philosophical school that is syncretized with the kabbalah e.g Hermetic Kabbalah, Christian Kabbalah, and Greek Kabbalah (or Hellenic Kabbalah). This term comes before the word Kabbalah e.g Christian Kabbalah.

Usually, the new form of Kabbalah uses a different spelling for the word Kabbalah e.g Cabala.

Christian Kabbalah uses Christian Theology to interpret pre-Lurianic Kabbalah, and it designates its Kabbalah as Cabala (which is where the word Cabal comes from). Cabala is the most popular form of Kabbalah used in Freemasonry, thus there is no Freemasonic Kabbalah.

Rabbi Isaac Luria developed a novel and quite cogent interpretation of Kabbalah based on Sefer ha-Zohar. His interpretation was quite removed from the contemporaneous mainstream Kabbalah that was associated with the 13th-Century sage, Rabbi Abraham Abulafia, and the 15th-Century apostate sage, Rabbi Reina. The Kabbalah developed by Rabbi Luria – which is called Lurianic Kabbalah – is described in Luria Innovates a New Kabbalah.

Rabbi Abulafia developed a Kabbablah that prioritized experiential mysticism whose ultimate goal was union with God. The Kabbalist who achieved this union was described as having achieved the state of unio mystica. In Christianity, this state of unio mystica was called Theosis. This theosis-focused Kabbalah of the 13th Century was variously described as Prophetic Kabbalah or Ecstatic Kabbalah or Meditative Kabbalah.

In the 15th Century, Rabbi Joseph De La Reina developed what is now called Magical Kabbalah which focuses on supernatural affairs, including hastening the arrival of the Jewish messiah called Moshich ben Yoseph. Legend has it that Rabbi Reina failed to hasten the arrival of the Messiah and thereupon chose apostasy and the path of darkness that saw him get married to the Queen of Demons called Lilith (whom the Talmud describes as the first wife of Adam ha-Rishon who “divorced” Adam so that she could marry Satan).

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Hermetic Qabalah is derived from Cabala. CREDIT: Wikipedia.

Hermetic Kabbalah is derived from Cabala, and it syncretized Cabala with astrology, alchemy, and hermeticism so as to develop a new form of Kabbalah that it designated as Qabalah. Hellenic Kabbalah is derived from Hermetic Qabalah so it is usually spelled as Greek Qabalah. The same applies to Wiccan Qabalah which is an offshoot of Hermetic Qabalah. (Wiccan Qabalah is also called Pagan Qabalah or Neo-Pagan Qabalah).

There is also a unique form of Kabbalah called Qlipothic Qabalah which developed from the syncretism of Lurianic Kabbalah with Hermetic Qabalah, with the primary focus placed on impure forces called Klippoth in Lurianic Kabbalah (and transliterated as Qlippoth in Hermetic Qabalah). Qlipothic Qabalah aims to study the “anti-God” and its various manifestations. This form of Kabbalah is the basis of the Left-Hand Qabbalistic Path that is described in The 13 Types of Evil. Equally, Qlipothic Qabalah is central to Goetic Magick.

Neoplatonic Kabbalah and Gnostic Kabbalah are improper terms as Kabbalah itself is a blend of Gnosticism, Neoplatonism, Neopythagporeanism, and mysticism associated with Second Temple Judaism.

What happens when Kabbalah is deconstructed using the methods of philosophical postmodernism and reconstituted through Process Thought, Neoplatonism, Gnosticism, Hermeticism, Pythagoreanism, Symbolic Logic, and Depth Psychology? The result is Postmodern Kabbalah.

Why is Postmodern Kabbalah described as Post-Secular, Non-Panentheistic, and Post-Religious?

Postmodern theology introduced two new terms to religious scholarship – post-secular and post-religious. Let us consider these 2 terms.

Post-secular is a term developed and popularized by the social theorist, Jürgen Habermas, to describe why secularization theory failed as a model for scientific study of religion, as well as explain why de-secularization is occurring in the Occident. Interestingly, postmodernism is blamed for both secularization of religious communities and desecularization of irreligious communities, with the blame focusing on the innovativeness of postmodern theology which has blurred the line between atheism and theism (which is true if one considers Christian Atheism).

In A “Post-Secular” Society – What Does That Mean?, Habermas…

To be continued… (The full post has been sent via email to our subscribers. To subscribe, use this form).

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