Set and Setting – Madison Margolin – Ep. 19 – Jewish Mysticism w/ Benjy Epstein

In this episode of Set and Setting, Dr. Benjy Epstein and Madison Margolin explore Jewish Mysticism, psychedelic medicine, and embodying all as one.

Rabbi Benjamin Epstein, Ph.D. is an experienced psychologist, author, and speaker who blends traditional Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) with spiritual and acceptance techniques.  In addition to his private practice, Dr. Benjy leads mindfulness and psychedelic integration seminars and sessions for He recently received his certificate in Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy from Reconcious Medical.  Dr. Beny also has the distinct privilege of being Duncan Trussel’s Rabbi. He is the author of Living in the Presence: A Jewish Mindfulness Guide for Everyday Life. This book is designed to provide a practical roadmap to the discovery of purpose and to capture/experience some of the benefits of the world-to-come, right now, in this world. Dr. Benjy lives in Jerusalem with his wife and four children.

You can keep up to date with Dr. Benjy on Twitter or Instagram.

Being Present in Shabbat 

In Judaism, Shabbat is a day of being. This day of being is a practice that is common in many traditions. Sabbath days are reserved for presence, a focus on God, and practice. People typically do not do any form of labor or distracting activities. This helps people rejuvenate their hearts and return to a spiritual space after a week of chaos and worldliness. Dr. Benjy learned about people like Ram Dass in college. He realized that the concepts in Be Here Now related to the type of presence in Shabbat. Dr. Benjy saw that he could interweave the contemplative, spiritual, and medical. 

Mysticism and Kabbalah (22:38)

Ram Dass once said: how can I respect a religion if the leaders can be hired or fired? We can not hire or fire the more mystical practitioners of religion. They are profits, gurus, and people who do not need a title or permission to practice. These transcendental spiritual guides are the types of people Dr. Benjy likes to draw inspiration from. We now live in a time where we can have discussions about the mystical side of religion without people thinking we are crazy. For example, Dr. Benjy says that it is now more commonplace to discuss things like the kabbalistic spheres. Kabbalah is an esoteric method, discipline, and school of thought in Jewish mysticism. One of the main kabbalistic practices is meditating on the tree of life and its divine attributes. There are corresponding colors, metals, and divine names almost like the chakras. This practice brings a direct communion with the divine.

“There’s a real resurgence of studying mysticism and it has to tampered with actual practice and not getting too far off the deep end.”– Dr. Benjy
Click here to check out Ep. 199 of Mindrolling to learn more about Kabbalah.

Integrating Divinity and Psychedelics (40:47)

Psychedelic plant medicine is not going to keep you in a heightened state. It only gives you a glimpse of pure love and connection to the divine. Much like Ram Dass discovered, meditation and practice give us a more wholesome, lasting ‘psychedelic’ state. Dr. Benjy describes a psychedelic state as witnessing our connection to God and everything on earth. Psychedelic plant medicine can have a positive therapeutic impact, but there must be an integration of divinity for it to be truly meaningful. This integration is what helps us embody the idea of all as one in our daily lives.

“If you are able to see it as a whole, then every single detail is infused with the light of the all. When you’re making the blessing in the morning, when you’re lighting Shabbat candles, when you’re crossing the street and helping an old lady, it’s all connected to the one.” – Dr. Benjy
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