Although Kabbalah, as the esoteric aspect of Judaism, has been compared to Sufism as the esoteric aspect of Islam, in its complex theological and cosmological speculation it is actually much more similiar to the theosophy of Suhrawardi.
There is also a certain corespondence between Indian Tantraand Kabbalah. We find again complex metaphysical speculation, the use of visualisation and mantras, and the attuning to higher states of consciousness.
It dioes seem to me (and I may be quite wrong here!) that, as a continuing esoteric tradition, Kabbalah has had a rather spasmodic record. There seems to be no continous, living Kabbalistic tradition as such, in which Spiritual realisation was handed down from Master to Disciple, as there appears to be in, for example Sufism, Zen, andAdvaita Vedanta. Rather we find a number of individual figures, often of tremendous spiritual and occult insight, who arise and gather around them a small circle of disciples and followers (e.g. the great Kabbalistic schools atGerona and Safed). After their passing, the school quickly degenerates (although of course applies to any spiritual movement).
At present traditional Kabbalah is achieving quite a revival, (as opposed to Hermetic Kabbalah which bloomed at the end of the last century with the Golden Dawn movement and has been strong ever since). Even pop stars from other religious backgrounds, like Madonna, are getting into it. Perhaps with the present global dissemination of information a new living tradition of Kabbalah will emerge.
page historypage uploaded 24 September 1999