Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Book Review: Kabbalah: Key to Your Inner Power, by Elizabeth Clare Prophet

Kabbalah: Key to Your Inner Power
(Mystical Paths of the World's Religions)
Elizabeth Clare Prophet, Patricia R. Spadaro, Murray L. Steinman
Trade Paperback, 302 pages
Summit University Press
January 1, 1997
Judaism, Metaphysical, Mysticism, Nonfiction, Philosophy, Religion, Spirituality,Self Help, 
Theology, Theosophy

Book Synopsis:
This notable work explores the rich mystical tradition of Judaism, known as Kabbalah, and shows how to apply its extraordinary insights to one's own spiritual quest. It describes Kabbalah's Tree of Life and its theories on the creation, the origin of evil, the feminine aspect of God, the mysteries of the soul, and soul mates.

My Review

I've been interested in the Kabbalah for a very long time, although I have not read about it on a consistent basis. This book captured and held my interest throughout. The authors -- the main one being Elizabeth Clare Prophet -- quote from Kabbalistic texts such as The Zohar and the Sepher Yetzirah, as well as from the works of authors well-versed in the concepts of this fascinating mystical topic. The book is extensively annotated, which is something I greatly appreciated.

At first, I  wasn't sure about reading this book. Prophet was the head of a controversial New Age religion known as the "Church Universal and Triumphant", which is still in existence, although, from what I've read about it online, it does seem to be dwindling. It's basically been categorized as a cult. Even her own children have repudiated the church's teachings, and Prophet herself was mired in controversy during her lifetime, especially after her false prophecy about the coming of a nuclear strike on the U.S., back in the 90s. This so-called prophecy prompted the building of underground bunkers by the church, at the cost of millions of dollars.

I was therefore surprised by how much I enjoyed this book, in spite of the above, as well as in spite of some of the material included within its pages. 

Prophet doesn't limit herself to an analysis and explanation of the Kabbalah itself. She interweaves its insights with the teachings of her own church, which were heavily influenced by Theosophy. For those who are unfamiliar with this philosophical quasi-religion, it was founded by Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, a 19th-century Russian mystic. She claimed to be in contact with "Ascended Masters" who regularly gave her messages, which became the basis for her books. 

Later on, Alice Bailey continued to channel the Ascended Master teachings, as did Guy and Edna Ballard, of the "I Am" Movement. Various so-called masters have been identified, such as El Morya, Saint Germain, Kuthumi, and even Jesus.  Prophet and her late husband, Mark L. Prophet, incorporated these masters, as well as some new ones, into their own religious philosophy.

Prophet does do a creditable job of making this bogus New Age "theology" fit in with the teachings of Kabbalah, but only to a point. I did not like her inclusion of these teachings, which assert that we all have a "Holy Christ Self", as well as an "I AM Presence". As a Christian, I would have to say that these teachings are totally heretical. They imply, or sometimes even state directly, that we are all gods. Paradoxically, Prophet sounds like a solid orthodox Christian in many parts of the book. However, she categorically denies that Jesus Christ is the "only" Son of God. Instead, she affirms, as many New Age gurus do, that we mere humans can someday attain "Christhood". Of course, I found this very offensive, as she's totally denying the work of Jesus as Savior of the world.

Still, something about this book called out to me, so I began to read it.

At the beginning of the book, Prophet ties together the theory of The Big Bang with Jewish mysticism. This is nothing new, however, as another author, Migene Gonzalez-Wippler, has done the same thing in her own book about the subject, A Kabbalah for the Modern World, which was first published in 1974, and has gone through several editions. Still, it was interesting to read Prophet's take on this correlation. 

Prophet also traces the beginnings of Jewish mysticism from what is known as "Merkabah Mysticism", which is based on Ezequiel's vision of the Throne of God in the Old Testament. 

She then goes on to discuss the Tree of Life itself, the Shekhinah (this is the feminine aspect of God), the three parts of the soul, and several other topics, all of which I found totally fascinating. She also correlates the Sefirot (the emanations of the Tree of Life) with the Indian system of chakras, something that was also fascinating

I found the last four chapters of the book very satisfying, in the spiritual sense. In Chapter 7, which is titled "The Practical Path of the Mystic, the authors (as mentioned above, Prophet co-wrote this book with two other people) describe the process of emulating the virtues of each sepfirah (this is the singular form of the noun "sefirot") in our daily lives. Chapter 8, titled "Prayer and the Power of God's Names", deals with the combination of prayer and meditation. Chapter 9, "The Mystic Ascent", and Chapter 10, "The Creative Power of Sound", are also very spiritually satisfying. These chapters discuss a method of "ascending" on the Tree of Life through prayers directed to each sephirah, which are all aspects of God.

In short, this book presents a very beautiful, elucidating, and engaging presentation of the Kabbalah, in spite of its (the book's) basic shortcoming, in my opinion -- the mixing in of Theosophical concepts of "the Christ within" and the Ascended Masters. 

As with all of the books Elizabeth Clare Prophet has penned, whether alone or with other authors, this one is not only well annotated, but includes an extensive bibliography, as well. She references such Kabbalistic authors as Moses Cordovero, Gershom Scholem, who is the most important modern scholar on Jewish mysticism, Aryeh Kaplan, author of The Bahir, Daniel Chanan Matt, a modern translator of The Zohar, and Z'ev ben Shimon Halevi, a current teacher of the Kabbalah, who resides in England. 

For those interested in this ancient mystical philosophy and spiritual practice, this book offers much of value. Readers of different faiths can simply overlook those things they find jarring or even too ridiculous to accept, and plunge into the spiritual riches of the Kabbalah.

If I were to rate this book, I would give it four stars.

About the Author

 From Goodreads

Elizabeth Clare Prophet (née Wulf) (April 8, 1939 - October 15, 2009) was an American spiritual author and lecturer.

She was a modern-day mystic, author, lecturer and spiritual teacher. She has been featured on NBC's Ancient Prophecies, A&E's The Unexplained, and has talked about her work on Larry King Live. Her lectures and workshops have been broadcast on more than 200 cable TV stations throughout the United States.

Among her bestselling titles are Fallen Angels and the Origins of Evil, How to Work with Angels, Soul Mates and Twin Flames, Creative Abundance, Saint Germain On Alchemy, and Violet Flame to Heal Body, Mind and Soul.

Elizabeth Clare Prophet’s autobiography is entitled, In My Own Words: Memoirs of a Twentieth-Century Mystic.

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