Podcasts, Season 2 — February 22, 2007 at 8:00 pm

Episode 38: Secrets of the Kabbalah

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Out There Radio – Episode 38: Secrets of the Kabbalah

In the 38th episode of Out There Radio, we talk with Mark Tippetts, a practitioner of the ancient Judaic mystical system, Kabbalah. Mark talks to us about this well-publicized but poorly understood practice, in terms of its history, theory and implementation.

Austin Gandy delivers a memorable installment of the Invisible College, recounting the tale of the Russian villages who captured an alien and then ate it.

4 Comments

  • This episode with Mark Tippetts was really educational. I was really hoping he would comment on the school of Kaballah that is run by Rav Michael Leitman. My oldest son and I participated with it for a while but found some of their beliefs objectionable so we didn’t continue. Anyway, the way Mark described things seemed very different from what they teach at Baruch Bnei, and any school I’ve run across on the internet always claims they are genuine and the real deal. How can this be? Mark seems like a never-ending fount of wisdom on the topic of Kaballah, and it would be fantastic if you interviewed him (or rather let him expound) for many more shows to come. Much appreciated him! Thanks. :)

  • Jeanie,

    I may be back to talk about the legend of the golem, but there are no concrete plans at this point.

    Thank you for your kind words. It’s always a little surreal, hearing from people who like this show. I don’t personally know anybody who wants to hear me talk about kabbalah! This interview only happened because Raymond asked me to fill in for a guest who cancelled at the last minute. The idea of Austin or Raymond ever intentionally asking me to expound at length on any topic is really very funny and somewhat ironic.

    You mentioned Rabbi Laitman and B’nai Baruch. I am curious what gave you difficulty with Rabbi Laitman’s teachings? There are things I also find objectionable about his philosophy. But I think that’s mainly because I approach the subject with very different values and expectations. I don’t subscribe to his theology, so I can hardly expect to accept mystical interpretations of that theology.

    I would have replied sooner, but I have been giving serious thought to your question. Rabbi Laitman has not made a deep impression on me. My sense of who he is and what he teaches is based on many fragments of experience over the years. So I’ve really had to think about it. I’ll post my thoughts in the next day or two. Meantime, I felt rude not responding at all.

    I first encountered Rabbi Laitman shortly after I first started getting on the Internet. B’nai Baruch and Chabad were both early adopters of online technologies. Before the web even existed, Chabad had extensive archives of Torah and Hasidut available by gopher. B’nai Baruch appeared on the web shortly thereafter. The first time I ever used this kind of threaded web-forum technology we’re using right now was on the B’nai Baruch site.

    Rabbi Laitman did not make a strong impression on me. I mostly ignored his posts, because they mostly seemed to revolve around the theme, “You can’t possibly understand this unless you take my course.” Were I still living in Israel at the time, I probably would have done just that.

    But everything I’ve heard him say or read since has made reasonable sense. I don’t mean to say I agree with it. He has some charmingly pre-modern notions of human motivation and psychology. But his teachings don’t sound impenetrable, inasmuch as Neoplatonic accounts of cosmological manifestation ever make sense.

    I do remember that the teacher Yitzchak Ginsberg would also show up to the B’nai Baruch website sometimes and comment on posts. There was something highly surreal about that. He made a much bigger impression on me than Rabbi Laitman. Maybe that’s because I already knew who he was, or maybe because of the way he appeared to me when I heard him speak in Jerusalem, like light was streaming from his eyes.

    • Mark,
      Thank you so much for doing this interview! I just listened to it today and was so excited to hear someone speak about Kabbalah with such a vast understanding of it, and on firm ground! I have been trying to forge my own educational path on Kabbalah because it’s a daunting task to find a trustworthy teacher, but it has been a challenge. I have a hard time finding books and have stopped and started this quest a few times over the last ten years. I was wondering if you could even just point me in the direction of where I could look for a way to learn Kabbalah… A book? A teacher perhaps? Anything would be much appreciated.

  • This was truly an extraordinary interview, with analogies to computer science not overstretched like usual.

    I too would enjoy a list of recommended books.

    I am interested in Kabbalah, considering its role as the backbone for much of the Western Mysteries. Moreover, I think such a map of the transcendent realms is especially useful.

    However, I am always skeptical of any tradition that demands so much preparatory effort just for basic comprehension–e.g., learning the Hebrew alphabet, finding a Tibetan guru, etc. In other words, I am hesitant to be on any path that prescribes years to achieve a transpersonal state. I share the same suspicion that Terence McKenna had: there is a direct route to the Divine already available, so other methods seem more like shadows therefrom. I have seen one too many stories along the lines of, “I’ve been saying this mantra for 10 years and I am totally feeling it now!”

    Learning Hebrew, the Jewish historical context, astrological correspondences, numeric shell games, etc. all seems like a wild goose chase to me: much work, little or no pay off. For that amount of information intake, the cost should be obviously connected to benefit (otherwise, I’d rather be reading neuroscience or other subjects with more immediate tangible rewards).

    So, I would enjoy books YOU recommend on the subject (as a voice I truly do respect already), but I also would like to know WHY kabbalah versus other systems, including shamanic/entheogenic ones.

    In addition, I think you should write a book on this–you’ve synthesized much knowledge and share it in a fashion that is illuminating.

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