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Moshe Idel: The Mystical Experience in Abraham Abulafia

Moshe Idel: The Mystical Experience in Abraham Abulafia

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Published by: enneagon on Dec 06, 2011
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09/14/2013

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Foreword
by
Shlomo
Pines
As
is
understood
by
the
thirteenth-century
mystic
Abra-
ham
Abdafia,
Kabbalah
is
not
primarily
a
form
of
gnosis
or
theosophy.
In
effect,
his
view
has
nothing
in
common
with
the
Sephirotic
Kabbalah,
whose
object
isthe
penetration
of
the
struc-
ture
of
Divine
being
and
the
processes
ocmmhg
therein.
With
the
help
of
his
profound
erudition,
Moshe
Idel
has
devoted
pa-
tient
and
exhaustive
study
to
the
analysis
of
the
extant
material
from
the
voluminous
Abulafian
corpus.
He
conclrrd~
hat
themystical
technique,
experiences,
and
doctrines of
this
author
are
foc-rused
upon
the
human
being
md
his
upward
progress
along
the
path
leading
to
prophetic-mystical
ecstasy.
This
description
leaves
the
reader
with
a
clear
sense
of
the
disparity
among
he
elements
composing
he
orpus
in
question.
Idel
begins
by
discussing
the
senses
of
sight
and
hearing
of
the
mystic
in
a
state
of
extasy
and
the
techniques
enabling
him
to
reach
this
state.
He
observes
that the
processes
spoken
of
hem
which
have
parallels
in
Yoga
(i.e.,
in
its
breathing
excercises)
and
the
Greek
hesychasm: namely, the
peculiar
importance
given
to
the pronunciation
of
Divine
Names.All
of
these
have
no
bear-
ing
upon
the
theoretical
basis
of
Abulafia's
thought,
a
structure
which,
at
least
in
terns
of
its
terminology,
betrays
philsophical
influence.
There
is
no
doubt
that
it
was
a
powerful
mystical
im-
pulse
which
ledAbulafia
as
commentator
of
the
Guide
for
the
Pmplexed
to
declare
in
the
same
work
that
a
certain
technique,
 
consisting
of
the
permutations
of
Hebrew
letters
composing
cer-
tain
words,
is
far
superior
to
the
cognitive
path
recommended
by
the
philosophers
as
a
means
of
apprehending
and
cleaving
to
the
Active
Intellect
(i.e.,
the
supreme goal
of the
Aristotelians).
The
cognition
spoken
about
by
Abulafia
is
one
which
is
easily
obscured
by
the
imagination.
Essentially,
both
Maimonides
and,
even
more
emphati-
cally,
Abdafia,
understand
the
imagination
as
opposed
to
the
intellect.
On
he other
hand,
Abulafia's
thought
regarding
imag-
ination,
like
hat
of
Maimonides,
entails
a
certain
unacknowl-
edged
ambivalence.
It
is
hconceivabIe
that
Abdafia
thought,
in
contradisitinction
to
Maimonides,
that
the
imagination
played
no
role
whatsoever
in
the
visuaZ
and
aural
experience
of
the
prophets,
an
experience
which
he
understood
as
one
of
mysti-
cal
ecstasy.
While
Maimonides
states
that
all
the
prophets
are
philosophers,
and
Avicma,
in
the
Iast
work
whitten before
his
death, articulates
his belief
that
the
prophets
are
mystics,
Abu-
lafia
inverts Avicenna's
statement:
all
the true
mystics
are,
in
his
opinion,
prophets.
From
this,
the
inevitable conclusion is
that
he
himself
was
a
prophet.