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The Arizal and The Mystical Capacities of the Mind

Updated: Jun 22, 2022

We already spoke at length about how the Arizalopened the doors to Kabbalah for us. We know he was a great sage whose disciple, Rabbi Chaim Vital (another great sage in his own right) revealed his Torah to the world and literally brought in a new era. The doors of Kabbalah, long sealed and kept away from the masses would finally be opened wide to whoever is interested.

​What is less known is the incredible capabilities the Arizal boasted, some of which many individuals nowadays can also attain. Rav Chaim Vital writes in the beginning of Sha’ar HaHakdamot (Gate of Introductions) the following:

“[The Arizal] was thoroughly expert in Scripture, Mishnah, Talmud, pilpul[dialectics], Midrash, aggadah (the non-legal portions of the Talmud), maaseh bereishit and maaseh merkavah (the mystical secrets). He was a master ofthe language of trees, the language of birds and the speech of angels. He could read faces in the manner detailed in the Zohar (vol. 2, p. 74b). He could apprehend all that any individual had done, and could see what they would do in the future. He could read people’s thoughts, often before the thought came totheir mind. He knew what would happen in the future, and was aware of everything happening here on earth, [as well as] what was decreed in heaven.”

​The text goes on to describe other amazing skills the Arizal had, including knowing the reincarnations, the soul root of each person, reading through candles (this is usually an angel that resides in a candle), seeingsouls and ask them whatever he wanted to know.


The Mechanistic Approach to Reality

​With the advent of scientific thought, humanity began a steady atrophy of the spiritual skills of the mind. While science has brought great things, it has nonetheless tried to reduce Creation to sets of formulas and mechanistic interactions through the scientific principles (like empiricism and repeatability). In his book Spiritual Technology, R’ Avraham Sutton explains how many of the comforts of modern life made “mind skills” obsolete and so we lost these great skills.

​However, as we saw from our articles, this mechanistic methodology, while helpful in many areas, does not apply to the spiritual realms. Even in the physical world, cause does not necessarily imply the expected consequences and those that are more awake in life see that in real life through prayer and the many miracles we experience.

​Hashem created the physical world to be subjected to the spiritual realms, and so everything can be altered, as Rebbe Nachaman teaches us in SeferHaMidot that “prayer is above nature and can [literally] change it”.


How to gain spiritual skills

​Many people are born with innate capabilities to talk to animals, sense energy, and even see the past or future. These skills are not inherently bad or necessarily coming from the side of Tumah(impurities), we just can’t imagine the power our souls possess, which is way beyond our imagination.

​Based on the Kabbalistic sources, the first thing to understand is that there’s nothing inherently “magical” about these skills. They are intrinsic to human experience and a basic component of Creation. It’s just that we perceive them as that because we’ve been conditioned to think that they are stuff of fairy talesover years in the mechanistic approach.

​The second thing to keep in mind is that whatever skill you want to train begins with the opening of the mind through meditation. Like the Arizal, abstaining oneself from physical pleasures helps enhance the mind and acquire true holiness to ensure that the skill won’t come from the Sitra Achra (the other side, evil).Believing in your powers and effectively connecting to the inner recesses of your soul (as that’s where they come from) is also two very important keys to open the doors to these skills. As long as our desire is genuine and good, then we also must pray to be able to help others but it should never be an end goal in itself.Those that can silence the chattering of the mind can often hear the soul’s whisper from within, and that’s just one example.

​It’s important to know that it’s expressly forbidden to use Practical Kabbalah and that the Arizal himself frowned upon these practices as they could be very dangerous. This is because we don’t have the purifying waters of the Red Heifer. Yet, we also find in the Talmud many instances in which the sages used these powers to help people around them.

​While we may not reach the level of the Arizal, there are many things we can achieve if we put our minds to it. And Hashem does not withhold the good from those that go in His paths in purity.


This article was written and published in the zechut of all Emuna Builder Partners. May they have complete emuna and continue spreading emuna!

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