Rabbi Chayim Vital on the ARI…

holyariThe Ari overflowed with Torah. He was thoroughly expert in Tanach, Mishnah, Talmud, Pilpul, Midrash, Agadah, Ma’aseh Bereshit and Ma’aseh Merkavah. He was expert in the language of trees, the language of birds, and the speech of angels. He could read faces in the manner outlined in the Zohar (2:74b). He could discern all that any individual had done, and could see what they would do in the future. He could read people’s thoughts, often before the thought even entered their mind. He knew future events, was aware of everything happening here on earth, and what was decreed in heaven. He knew the mysteries of gilgul [Reincarnation], who had been born previously, and who was here for the first time. He could look at a person and tell him how he was connected to the Supernal Man, and how he was related to Adam. He could read wondrous things [about people] in the light of a candle or in the flame of a fire. With his eyes he gazed and was able to see the souls of the righteous, both those who had died recently and those who had lived in ancient times. With these he studied the true mysteries. By a person’s scent he was able to know all that he had done, an ability that the Zohar attributes to the holy Yenuka [Child] (Zohar 3:188a). It was as if all these mysteries were lying in his bosom, waiting to be activated whenever he desired. He did not have to mitboded [seclude himself] to seek them out. All this we saw with our own eyes. These are not things that we heard from others. They were wondrous things that had not been seen on earth since the time of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai. None of this was attained through magic, heaven forbid. There is a strong prohibition against these arts. Instead, it came automatically, as a result of his saintliness and asceticism, after many years of study in both the ancient and the newer Kabbalistic texts. He then increased his piety, asceticism, purity, and holiness until he reached a level where Eliyahu HaNavie (Elijah the prophet) would constantly reveal himself to him, speaking to him “mouth to mouth,” teaching him these mysteries. “

Read more on the Ari: http://rabbishimon.com/tzadikim/showz.php?p=ari.htm