Baal HaSulam, “The Wisdom of Kabbalah and Philosophy”: And as King Solomon could not prevent Asmodeus from sitting on his throne, pretending to be him until he arrived in Jerusalem, sages of Kabbalah observe philosophic theology and complain that they have stolen the upper shell of their wisdom, which Plato and his Greek predecessors had acquired while studying with the disciples of the prophets in Israel. They have stolen basic elements from the wisdom of Israel and wore a cloak that is not their own. To this day, philosophic theology sits on the throne of Kabbalah, being heir under her mistress.
Greek philosophers studied from the prophets since Kabbalah was open for everyone from the time of Abraham. However, they could not ascend to the height of spiritual attainment because this demanded huge efforts. That is why philosophers only took the external part of this wisdom; that is, their aim was not to correct human nature, but only to acquire knowledge.
The first sign by which you can distinguish a Kabbalist is to see whose student he is. It is impossible to receive spiritual attainment without being a devoted, close student of a true Kabbalist. Although being a student of a genuine Kabbalist does not yet guarantee spiritual success, at least it is the first necessary condition in order to reach it.
The second sign of a Kabbalist is that the methodology which he is offering must be directed only toward correcting man’s egoism. This is precisely what sets Kabbalah apart from the ancient Greek philosophers (religions, beliefs, spiritual methodologies, and so on). They stole the external shell from Kabbalah (discourses on the upper worlds, the world to come, reward and punishment, and so on) and started to use and develop it egoistically, in order to manipulate rather than correct human nature.
These are the two main signs that differentiate a Kabbalist from a non-Kabbalist. Furthermore, not just philosophy but all methodologies in general, including the scientific ones, employed by man in hopes to correct the world and attain a better, corrected, and more or less bearable life eventually demonstrate their falsity.
It may not manifest in the scientific conclusions themselves, but in the assertion that in this way, it is possible to correct the world and bring happiness to humanity. Until it is as clear as day, regular people in whom a special urge toward spirituality (the point in the heart) has not yet awakened will not treat Kabbalah seriously.
Thus, only a person who studied from a recognized Kabbalist can be one himself. A true Kabbalist also offers a method for correction of egoism, not all kinds of “miracles” or physical actions with the help of which one supposedly receives reward or punishment from Above.
In other words, this is neither religion nor a belief system, neither philosophy nor theology, and not even the natural sciences of our world, but a method for correcting our egoism with the purpose of attaining unity and love. This method can become revealed to the masses only after humanity becomes convinced that all other methods cannot lead it to salvation.
From the 4th part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 1/11/2011, “The Wisdom of Kabbalah and Philosophy”