The "Male/Female" polarity
suggested is not as simple as it seems. The Tree blends energies,
as it purifies them. Click here
for a look at an example of "churning" in the Tree.
The Tree of Life, in its
interconnectedness, also teaches about the interlocked nature of reality,
and how a change in one area affects all of the other areas. Ets Chaim,
the Tree of Life, is a morphogenetic field,
based on harmony, and balance. An almost endless variety of geometric
patterns can be seen in its paths.
Intimacy, the first light, light without end
nothing, ex nihilo - the luminaries
and molding of the created world
completing, and finishing
is where the Creator acts directly and not through ministers. In
Briah , God's actions are through mediation of archangels. In
Yetzirah are the "single-purpose angels," those angels that co-exist
with every entity and action. In Assiah , Creator acts through
the "mundane chakras," the elements, planets, and signs of the Zodiac.
The Sephirot can be grouped
in many ways. One system creates three categories: Conceptual (rational),
Active, and Tactical.
The conceptual or rational
sefirot are chochmah, binah and daat.
The active sefirot are chesed, gevurah and tiferet.
The tactical sefirot are netzach and hod.
Chochma is inspiration,
ideas and creative thought, the seed; Binah takes these ideas and subjects
them to deduction, analysis and development, the womb; Daat is the concrete
result, the Child.
Chesed is unprompted, unrewarded
giving; purity of motive; it is the first step of action; it is not
a reaction to any previous deed. It is an act parallel to creation,
an act ex nihilo. Chesed is the relationship of God to human. Gevurah
is limitation and restraint that builds character. Gevurah is "no free
lunches." Chesed and Gevurah work together, though in opposite
directions, like one hand sawing the board and the other holding it
steady. Chesed is Love, and Gevurah is Fear (the precursor of Awe).
Tipharet is not compromise, but integration of Chesed and Gevurah,
Netzach and Hod are often
not what they seem. These "tactical" Sephirot have no purpose inherent
in themselves, but rather as a means for something else. The Tactical
Sephirot process the impulses coming from above, taking from
the opposite side. Netzach modulates Gevurah, and Hod modulates Chesed.
Netzach is the Victory resulting from Strength (Gevurah); Hod is awe
in the face of hidden spirituality or power (Chesed). (See Tree/Helix).
Da'at is a "conjectured"
sephirah. It is said to represent the throat as seen in the diagram
below. In Hebrew, Da'at is "knowledge, perception, or learning."
It is not really a sephirah; it is a "result" of it's location
on the Tree of Life. It is midway on the longest path, and central in
the upper hexagonal array. Binah and Chochma straddle the polarity between
undefined knowledge and differentiation; Keter and Da'at straddle the
polarity between cosmic consciousness and individual consciousness.
is knowledge in the "Biblical Sense-" it is the focal
point of the mystical union that is prescribed for sanctified couples
to perform on Shabbat night. It is the Song of Songs, Solomon's love
poem of yearning for closeness to the Creator Before Time, consummated
at the darkest hour, and anticipated in the K'Gavna
prayer, read in the Kabbalat Shabbat service, at sunset, hours earlier.
Tree - The Body - The Chakras
Qabala allows for and has
generated myriad interpretations. Many images are used as metaphors
for the Tree of Life. The spheres have been compared to mirrors, each
reflecting the same light in a different way. The spheres are also compared
to costumes or 'skins' of the Great Spirit, preventing the student from
the blinding light under them.
The Tree of Knowledge of
Good and Evil and the Tree of Life are the same. One story has it that
the upper realms of the tree are the Tree of Life, and the lower realms
are where the Good and Evil part comes in. This leads to the Garden
of Eden metaphor, and the notion that the "Fall of Man" is timeless,
and that we are always/never "Back in the Garden."
Another interpretation (Sforno)
says that the "Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil" is such
a test because it mixes the two. If the tree had been totally
evil, Adam and Eve would have known right away to avoid it, but since
with was "Good AND Evil," mixed, it brought doubt into the
world. Suddenly it wasn't so obvious what was the right path. Self-deception
became possible. The self-deception is shown in Adam and Eve's first
action after they eat of the tree: to put on clothes and to hide from
God. Both of them had been in intimate contact with the Eternal, and
knew they couldn't really hide, and that God could see right
through their fig leaves - but having learned self-deception they tried
The Tree is beyond time
and space - emanation occurs in an infinite dimension. The glyph of
the Tree itself is for our convenience. There are many ways to 'draw'
Emanation, one is to nest the spheres like an onion,
or multiple trees, another is called the "Cube
Aryeh Kaplan says the Sephirot
can only be seen in brief glimpses, like brief chimera seen in one's
peripheral vision, and that their invocation must be repeated by method
of approach and retreat, like the angels going up and down Jacob's ladder.
The Sephirot are like rungs
of the ladder, connecting Earth to Heaven, time to timeless, now to
The Tree describes the incarnation
process. The soul begins unified with source, at Malchut. The individuation
process begins with the Hod/Netzach split, Key 16. This could be compared
to the loss of childhood innocence. It is the start of separating desire:
desire to pull away from Source into individuality. The process continues
up the tree into the realm of soul, and then Spirit. Finally, the separating
desires exhausted, desire for return to source results in unity, at
Karma is a product of desire
- the Tree describes Karmic interplay. Desire dictates each individual's
reality - affecting the choices we make based on what we think we need.
Our choices result in actions, and we reap what we sow.
The root of the Tree, Malchut,
is our connectedness with earth, and a sense of tradition. The "body"
of the tree is the work we do, the Karma we incur, the Karmic debts
we pay, and the blessings and healings we bestow. The result is the
fruit at the top, Keter.
The Tree is an "alembic-"
a chamber for containing and observing chemical reactions, and for isolating
compounds. The alembic was originally a tool of alchemy,
or for distilling liquor. The ingredients go into one end, go through
complex processes, and come out the other end purified.
Qabalistic discussion of
the problem of evil is a key difference from mainstream Jewish thought,
which gives little emphasis to the subject. Severity and judgement,
Gevurah, without any tempering by kindness and mercy, is seen as a source
of cruelty. "Imbalance" becomes "evil." By the same token, excessive
Chesed - a total lack of discipline for example, can lead to great distress,
or "evil." "Good" is the inclination of moving up the
Tree, towards the Source; "Evil" is the inclination of down the
tree, away from Source.
Others say that evil is
the 'husks' or 'klippot' that fall away from the light as it passes
into manifestation, like slag burning off of a crucible. These kelipot
are also like shells, that obscure the light, or prevent intimacy.
is partly anthology; the compliation and synthesis, though, has created
a whole greater than the sum of its parts.
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1975 The Theosophical Publishing House, Wheaton, Illinois, U.S.A., Madras,
India/ London, England
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Volume 10 :: 1972 Keter Publishing House Jerusalem Ltd.
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the Wisdom of the Ages by Paul Foster Case :: 1947 Macoy Publishing
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the Tarot - The Veil of Divination by L.W. de Lawrence :: 1918
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:: 1984 Samuel Weiser Inc. :: York Beach, Maine
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Book of Creation :: Aryeh Kaplan : 1990 Samuel Weiser Inc. :: York
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Patanjali :: Translated by Swami Prabhavananda and Christopher
Isherwood 1953 Vedanta Society of Southern California :: Hollywood,
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Jewish Mysticism in Our Time :: by Gershom Scholem Translated by
Jonathan Chipman 1997 The Jewish Publication Society :: Philadelphia,
The Eternal Companion
- Brahmananda - His Life and Teachings :: By Swami Prabhavananda
1960 The Vedanta Society of Southern California :: Hollywood, California
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the Tarot :: By Arthur Edward Waite :: 1987 Samuel Weiser Inc. ::
York Beach, Maine
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and the Way of Meditation :: By Chogyam Trungpa :: 1976 Sambhala
Publications :: Berkeley, California.
The Golden Bough
:: By James G. Frazer :: 1981 Avenel Books :: New York, New York.
Beneath A Vedic Sky -
A Beginner's Guide to the Astrology of Ancient India :: By William
R. Levacy :: 1999 Hay House, Inc. :: Carlsbad, California.
Archetypes and Strange
Attractors :: By John R. Van Eenwyk :: Inner City Books :: Toronto,
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:: By Rabbi Joel C. Dobin, D.D. :: Inner Traditions International ::
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the Path of Blessing
:: By Rabbi Marcia Prager :: Bell Tower :: New York :: 1998
Also, many thanks to Mary
Love, for her profound insights, a peek at her notebooks, and her patience.
Corrections, Insights are Welcome -