Eric Maroney, author of Religious Syncretism, The Other Zions, & published fiction
Friday, February 26, 2016
Healing with God's Love: Kabbalah's Hidden Secrets
I’ll admit to mixed emotions to the whole premise of Healing with God's Love: Kabbalah's Hidden Secrets by Douglas Goldhamer and Peggy Bagley.
Goldhamer and Bagley’s book is a full-on venture into what is called the practical Kabbalah, i.e. those areas of Jewish mysticism which seek, though human manipulation, to use the flow and power of G-d to help people’s lives or in some way alter nature. In the case of this book, the Kabbalah is used to heal sickness.
Historically, Goldhamer and Bagley are on firm ground. The Kabbalah had a “practical” element, which became entangled in many folk traditions regarding healing such as the intervention of malevolent spirits to the detriment of human life, the exercise of what can only be considered magic, the writing of healing amulets. This was always are part of Kabbalah, and can never be safely ignored.
This book is not so extreme in its orientation; overall, the authors provide “healing” exercises, usually involving an experienced person (Goldhamer, in all instances) and someone in need. He uses visualization techniques, the recitation of special prayers, meditation and visualization, to facilitate healing. He stresses that people must continue their course of Western medicine even as they use his program. The authors are scrupulous non-dualists, and when they write on this subject, we do not differ in opinion at all. All in all, no problem here.
But Goldhamer, to my memory, never investigates an instance when his administrations did not succeed . And I find it hard to believe they were always successful. Hence the pitfalls of this approach. Sometimes you ask G-d for healing, or perform rituals or acts designed to bring this about, and they apparently fail.
This approach to prayer or mediation can have harmful results. It can lead to a distrust of spiritual practices, a falling away of all forms of emunah, or faith, and a view of religious leaders as charlatans. This book is a loving and gentle approach to such work – regardless, the dangers listed above still present.
For me, prayer and meditation are not about petitioning or attempting to manipulate anything for my good (even my good health). For me, it is about accepting things as they are… finding the peaceful knowledge and intuition that we live ordained lives. We need to sync our lives to G-d to accept things – even something as serious and scary as our own mortality.
This approach is difficult, and has problems to overcome. But in my opinion, they far less onerous than ones offered in this book.