An Introduction to Integral Kabbalah: Study, Prayer, and Meditation.


Rabbi Marc Gafni, Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi,
and Ken Wilber


Kabbalah—the mystical branch of Judaism—is concerned with the ultimate knowledge of God. In this series of clips from a gathering in Boulder, Rabbi Marc Gafni and Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi—the world’s foremost proponents of Integral Kabbalah—discuss with Ken three of the main practices within their tradition that constitute the means of this knowledge: Study, Prayer, and Meditation.



In this introductory clip, Ken sets the context by noting that in the world’s great spiritual traditions, the process of God-realization is often divided into three stages: ethics, meditation, and nondual awareness. The second stage, meditation, can be understood to have a variety of forms, one of which is study. According to Gafni and Zalman, "study" is not merely cognitive book-learning, but ecstatic surrender to the Divine via union with a sacred text.


1.
 The Ultimate Erotic Act ( 10:01 )
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This second clip begins with Rabbi Zalman attempting to bless the gathering with an impromptu prayer, as he keeps getting humorously interrupted—even by himself! Finally, a discussion ensues on the essential dimension of God which prayer enacts—what Martin Buber called the "I-Thou" relationship, and what in natural languages is known as the second-person perspective.


2.
 A Second Person Relationship to God ( 08:59 )
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In this third clip, the rabbis and Ken return to the theme of study, and in particular the notion of "sacred text" or torah. The relation of the individual to the One is likened to that of one's "sacred autobiography" to the absolute Word of God—if one has the clarity to truly express the Divine in one's life. If we assume that the original writers of scripture were possessed of such clarity, this raises the crucial question: How is it that new torah can emerge in a post-biblical context?


3.
 Your Own Letter in the Torah ( 08:01 )
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In this touching and intimate clip, Rabbi Zalman, Rabbi Gafni, and Ken continue to explore the nature of prayer, both reflecting upon and enacting the notion that genuine prayer always involves a personal dimension, along with the intention to go beyond one's separate self and towards the Divine.


4.
 A Prayer for Malka ( 07:42 )
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The historical period which Ken calls the "Axial Age"—roughly from 2000 BCE to 100 AD—was marked by the great discovery of a formless reality beyond manifest existence. This so-called "Heaven" or "Emptiness" or "Other World" was thought to be separate from the "Earth," "Form," or "This World." In this clip, Ken and the rabbis discuss this historical rift and the force which ultimately realizes its nondual reconciliation.


5.
 The Union of Heaven and Earth ( 07:48 )
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Does enlightenment occur through one's own efforts or through divine grace? The great traditions often divide the means of transformation into two broad types: those that rely on Self-power and those that look to an Other-power. In the Integral Heart, these seemingly contradictory approaches are realized to be opposite sides of the same Divine coin. In this sense, the integral practitioner is always in a "partnership with God."


6.
 Epilogue: A Partnership with God ( 05:39 )
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