Marcus J. Freed is the author of the new book The Kabbalah Sutras: 49 Steps to Enlightenment. He also has written The Kosher Sutras: The Jewish Way in Yoga and Meditation. He is a coach, dramatist, and Jewish educator, and he's based in Los Angeles.
Q: How did you come up with the idea for The Kabbalah Sutras?
A: As often happens, ideas flow through me…I had a big question around Kabbalah. It bothered me that no one had ever connected this with the body. I wanted a system where people could connect with Kabbalah through all areas of their lives.
Q: How do you explain Kabbalah to those who are not familiar with it?
A: Kabbalah means received, or receiving. It’s about receiving divine wisdom. It’s a spiritual lens—everything is light. What you try to do is expand yourself to receive more light. When pain comes up [in your life, you can see it as] something that happens through us rather than to us. It’s an opportunity to refine our soul.
Q: You write, “The aim of our work is to become like God.” How do you try to achieve this goal?
A: There are seven principles, or divine spheres….there are aspects that exist within the physical body. We try to emulate the divine. There are seven aspects, and 49 steps [corresponding to] the 49 chapters of the book. We, hopefully, become more like God in refining ourselves—more loving, disciplined, compassionate, enduring, grateful, masterful.
Q: Do you see these principles as united, or are there some that you find more compelling?
A: They are all equally compelling. They’re all within our bodies. There’s one in particular I connect more with, how we have a soul root within each sphere. These are all things we need to work on; we have different energies at different times.
Q: What role does yoga play in your book?
A: Yoga means oneness, and it’s the closest physical practice we have that appropriates a religious experience when correctly [pursued]. Within the book, it plays as much of a part as you want.
My first book, The Kosher Sutras, was completely yoga-focused, a yogic emphasis on Torah. This book, you can experience Kabbalistic wisdom through yoga but also [it can be used] as a business book, a gym book…There’s a lot in it, a lot of flexibility.
Q: Who do you see as the primary readership for your book?
A: People who are spiritual seekers, who are frustrated by religious traditions, someone who wants to go to synagogue but doesn’t find God in their body and wants to experience more. People who want to know more about Kabbalah, who want something authentic and connected to the original source.
Q: How do you try to apply the principles in your book to everyday life?
A: That’s what the book’s about, every single chapter. It’s got chapters on how to apply them in relationships, in your business career, in your body. [It explores] how can I be more loving to myself, how can I be more loving in business, how can I be more creative.
Q: So it gets to the personal as well as the professional.
A: Yes….we say in the Sh’ma that all is one, and [the principles have] got to apply everywhere and try to help people find oneness.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: Two things. One is a science fiction novel. Another is on yogic aspects of Jewish festivals, and ways of applying it throughout the Jewish calendar.
--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Marcus J. Freed will be appearing at The Lessans Family Annual Book Festival at the JCC of Greater Washington, which runs from November 5-15, 2015.