By Shahar Arzy, Moshe Idel
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Extra resources for Kabbalah: A Neurocognitive Approach to Mystical Experiences
The ecstatic brain: neurocognitive mechanisms that are altered by the ecstatic technique, giving rise to the ecstatic experience. The descriptions of an ecstatic experience (level 1) may appear in a variety of literatures, such as poetry or autobiography, or even in Kabbalistic books that have other religious foci as their main concern. The ecstatic model (level 2) is much more restricted and is found in Kabbalistic forms of literature or their sources (level 3), via alterations of certain neurocognitive mechanisms (level 4), though those cannot discriminately characterize a certain school.
In the next section, we gather detailed reports by various mystics about their experiences and the techniques they used and try to classify them according to the abovementioned subtypes of ecstatic mystical experiences and autoscopic phenomena. 4. Personal Reports of Mystical Experiences Here we present examples of each of the three ecstatic phenomena—autoscopy, heautoscopy, and out-of-body experience—as reported by prominent ecstatic mystics. Some are first-person reports, and others are expressed as instruction to a future follower or student.
The method was based on specific techniques, experiences, and perceptions, unlike other, theurgic Kabbalists, who endeavored to describe the structure of the divine and the processes therein. Abulafia envisioned his prophetic-ecstatic Kabbalah as more advanced than previous forms since it dealt mainly with linguistic matters. Thus, he invented a special technique using as its basic components the twenty-two Hebrew letters and their combinations. The main “prophetic-ecstatic” experience was characterized by the visual appearance of a human form.
Kabbalah: A Neurocognitive Approach to Mystical Experiences by Shahar Arzy, Moshe Idel