Madonna, Kabbalah And Spiritual Trends
So I’m here in my native town Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, producing a Canadian film. About ten days ago Madonna was in town collecting money for SFK and her Raising Malawi charity. SFK stands for Spirituality For Kids, a Kabbalah Center effort and Raising Malawi is a Madonna, Michael Berg (son of Kabbalah Center founder) project.
Her stay here was very profitable; it seems that she was able to get a $10,000,000 pledge from a couple of business men as well as a commitment from Rio de Janeiro’s mayor to apply the educational and spiritual methods of SFK to Rio de Janeiro public schools.
While I believe that every child in this planet is entitled to help, I wonder why these same business men don’t usually invest in taking the thousands of children off the streets of their own towns as well as help the other thousands that live in favelas (shanty towns) that surround their homes. The answer is simple: Madonna.
Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great that she’s using her popularity to supposedly do something good but the fact that she could waltz into Rio and collect this money while so many children right here could benefit from basic needs such as food and education; puzzles me.
I spent some time at the Kabbalah Center in Los Angeles about ten or more years ago. The first couple of months I couldn’t stop talking about having finally found a home for my spiritual quest. I’m Jewish but have always had problems with organized religion so the Kabbalah Center seemed to offer me an alternative through the study of the world in a mystical fashion.
The first lessons were about how the world was created and existed through the power of different types of energies. Bravo, I thought. Yes, everything is energy. It makes sense and science collaborates with that. I went to the center many times a week to study, attended talks, holidays, wore a red string and signed up to volunteer to work at soup kitchens when the center went out to the poor areas of town.
One day I got a call from the center’s office asking if I would go visit a homebound woman. I said of course. I thought it was probably an old woman who didn’t have friends and family and just needed some companionship.
To my surprise when I arrived at the address given, the woman was my age and was dying from a botched breast implant. The silicone got into the woman’s blood stream and as a result her cells were losing their ability to stretch, so her mouth could barely move, her lungs were shutting down and she looked like a living mummy. The woman was shocked when she asked me to start her Kabbalah lesson and I told her I had been a student for only two months and therefore had very little to teach her. I too was shocked as I was not prepared to see a woman my age with sores all over her body lying on a bed with an oxygen tank blowing air into her sores. After some awkward moments we decided that although I had nothing to teach her I could certainly be her friend and come visit her every week.
Four months after my first lesson at the Kabbalah center I started to have the feeling that they were just making stuff up. What had been brilliant at the beginning was now quickly becoming “you got to be kidding me”. The icing for me was as the center became more popular so did the presence of celebrities and how they were treated in a different way from all of us common folks.
At six month from my first lesson I asked to have a private meeting with one of the rabbis who was also my teacher. Our conversation started with the question of why I had been sent me to visit a woman who was very angry and sick without any warning. It quickly became clear to me that the woman had been calling the center and to get rid of her they sent me there. The rabbi commented that my new friend was very angry and therefore would have to make up for her anger in some spiritual way and basically the center had not time for her. I told him there was a very good chance that he too would be very angry if he was dying the way she was.
My next question was about the different treatment celebrities received at the center. I mentioned that I had come to the Kabbalah center because I thought it was a place that honestly was seeking out a different way for people to be in the world. His answer was that indeed I was correct, quickly followed by “don’t you know how celebrities are? If they are not catered to they won’t come back and we need them to publicized and promote the center.
Even before my meeting, it had become clear that most of the rabbis and teachers at the center were not real scholars of Kabbalah and their interest was more about becoming rock stars of spirituality than really promoting a more significant way to exist. I guess my need to meet with my teacher was also more about completion than actually hoping to be mistaken about my feelings.
So I don’t know why the mayor of Rio de Janeiro is pledging to follow the guide lines of SFK except for the fact that it was brought up by Madonna. Mostly I do hope the businessmen who pledged the $10,000,000 to help with Kabbalah and meditation will now give the same amount to help the children of Brazil eat and study. So many are born and die in the streets of Rio de Janeiro, right under Christ’s outstretched arms.