By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
At the midtown Kabbalah Centre, Michael Moskowitz explains that Kabbalah is the study of receiving God's energy in the form of things we want from life, ranging from knowledge to love to perfect health. To understand Kabbalah, the Centre does not require its students to accept God's existence. It urges proactive rather than reactive behavior and sharing love and tolerance. The Centre offers classes in Kabbalistic teachings on astrology and reincarnation, and a 10-week basic course for $168.
Did ancient and holy rabbis who developed or studied Kabbalah intend for its transformation into digestible self-help lessons? The current Kabbalah craze seems like an attempt by individuals, trapped in modern chaos, to find quick answers without fully understanding complex sacred texts. Maybe Madonna has a better teacher.
The Kabbalah Centre, 155 East 48th Street, 644-0025, free introductory lesson Monday nights at 7 p.m.
Do you want to live forever? You will at least your soul will but you can't take your body with you. However, if you live a spiritual life in your present incarnation, your chances of returning to earth with the body you've always wanted are greatly improved. So say the teachings of theosophy, a religion based on the workings of nature throughout the cosmos. First introduced to the West in the mid 19th century by the Russian mystic Helena Blavatsky, theosophy is a body of teachings dealing with people's evolution toward an inevitable reunion with God, and the hidden reasons behind existence. Theosophy has two main pillars of thought: karma and reincarnation. Karma, the more popular of the two, is a result of all previous and present actions you commit while incarnated; in other words, "you reap what you sow." Reincarnation is the reappearance of souls in physical bodies on earth in order to live out the results of karma. Theosophists believe these two doctrines to be the only real salvation for a world gone haywire. Most of theosophy is based on ancient books such as the Bhagavad-Gita and the Upanishads, which both deal with humans' plight as spiritual beings "trapped in a coat of flesh."
Theosophy is truth bordering on science fiction. Theosophists believe we are currently living in "Kali Yuga," an iron age when people have fallen almost completely away from God. Their texts suggest that we are living on one of seven earths, each of which has its own moon; the other six are beyond a human being's normal sense of perception. The human body, they say, has an aura or "astral body" that extends in all directions which, of course, means there's much less space on the subway than you thought. To learn more about this fascinating practice, visit the library at the United Lodge of Theosophists and check out The Ocean of Theosophy by William Q. Judge (1893), Isis Unveiled by Helena Blavatsky (1877), The Secret Doctrine, Helena Blavatsky (1888), and the Bhagavad-Gita.
The United Lodge of Theosophists, 347 East 72nd Street, 535-2230 Library is open Wednesdays 6:30 to 7:20, Fridays and Sundays 6:45 to 7:20, and by appointment.
1. Get up as soon as your alarm clock goes off. Immediately open your eyes and jump out of bed thinking positive thoughts. Your first mental impressions set the tone for your entire day, so be conscious of your first thoughts.
2. Focus on your goals for the day. By concentrating on exactly what you want to accomplish, you mentally create your surroundings.
3. Meditate on yourself and your environment. Take a moment to feel at peace with who you are, wherever you are. Calm your body, be still, and imagine yourself experiencing the moment for the first time.
4. Breathe deeply and evenly from your diaphragm. Take long, deep breaths into your abdomen, and slowly exhale through your mouth, taking care to exhale all the air.
5. Destroy negative thoughts before they take root.
6. Be open to the universe, to new experiences, new people, new ideas. Nothing makes life more suddenly interesting than looking at it from a new perspective.
7. Imagine yourself flying, soaring through clouds and over mountains; this puts you in touch with the ethereal nature of what spirit is, and releases you from daily stress. And, since you are what you think, the mental sensation of flying acts as a stimulator of endorphins, calming and soothing your mind and body. Happy flying! T.D.
Religion On The Internet
You can buy a car, order plane tickets, or meet a mate, all in the blue glare of your computer screen. Why not also seek communion with God? Despite the often antagonistic relationship between technology and spirituality, a great place to find religion is on the Internet.
Allyn & Bacon's Sociology Links: Religion (www.abacon.com/ sociology/ soclinks/ religion.html) lists over 70 links to both mainstream and alternative religions. Click on Catholic, Jehovah's Witnesses, Buddhism, Hare Krishna, Rastafarianism, Santeria, Zoroastrian Doctrines and Rituals, Wicca and Witchcraft, or, my personal favorite, First Presleyterian Church of Elvis the Divine.
For online prayer requests, check out CforC (formerly Computers for Christ) (www.cforc.com) or Christian Broadcast Network (www.cbn.org), where they promise to pray over your e-mail ("in one of our prayer chapels") but don't promise to respond.