Friday, December 22, 2006

The Kabbalah

To learn about integrated 'spiritual' and 'physical' worlds we draw from works that have consistently survived the most ardent intellectual attack through millennia; the surviving mainstream works of the most ancient sources. Since before Abraham, the most ancient mystical secrets of the Kabbalah, loosely meaning; to make or to be a vessel to receive[1], have been maintained by Israel’s forefathers and holy people, often in secret in the face of adversity from the authoritative view. Understanding the mystical construct described in Kabbalah requires one to have a considerable knowledge of Torah and the many prophetic, priestly and rabbinic interpretations handed down.

The principles of the Kabbalah emanate from 32 Paths of Wisdom manifest in G-d's 10 primary names, the source of 10 Sefirot (vessels) connected by 22 energies contained in everything we know[2]. Everything from the highest heavens through the lower heavens is enabled through the vessels, the Sefirot. Their formation is described in enormous detail and their resulting energy-forces give life to everything physical. In the highest realm the Sefirot form the basis of 10 united or conjoined spiritual vessels and the 22 hybrid energy paths along which energy forces flow. Each path reflects the source energy embodied in each of 22 representative letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Each letter a different path, unique and specific connecting G-d's 10 Sefirot, vessels of energy which cascade through the four heavenly realms to earth. In each progressive heavenly realm the 10 Sefirot and their 22 paths establish lower realm qualities connecting, as if chained. The lowest link of the highest world forms the highest link in the world below concealing G-d’s light such that all is connected and all energy is effected in this multilevel, interconnected system.

At the top of this energy system the vessel 'Keter', which in the lowest of the four heavenly realms - Asiyah is known as “The Crown”, the highest source.  Details are generally unable to be understood, comprehended or perceived by man. Keter of Asiyah is the absolute perfection of all that is “I”[3] and influences all energy-forces that fall beneath it. Below Keter, Chokmah the force of all wisdom; Binah the force of understanding; Chesed the force of kindness; compassion and love; Gevurah strength and justice; Tiferet compassion, beauty and balance; Netzach victory through offense; Hod majesty through defense; Yesod foundation; and depicted vertically below this Malkhut, kingdom, action and realization. There are many ways to look upon these vessels and how they manifest in each object, in our personality attributes and in our lives. The ancient teachings provide the most exceptional insights into their meanings, at the deepest of mystical interpretations, those that seek knowledge of Torah broadly find them presented in a manner consistent across all Jewish cultural groups.

At a detailed resolution, each Sefirot can be intricately and intimately analyzed and studied to reveal the most credible of mystical secrets that lie beyond literal interpretations and in depth understandings of even the most educated people. For thousands of years, people have written about these mystical secrets, these energy forms, these vessels and the ways in which we function through them to elevate our spiritual and physical states to realize our innate potential.

G-d is recognized in Jewish mystical studies as The Maker, The Creator of all. G-d is unbounded in His absolute manifestation and can never be correctly imagined. Numerous Prophets, Sages and Rabbi’s have elevated their conscious states to the highest levels, they are known to have contemplated the highest heights, in the deepest meditative sense reaching the next universal realm of Beriyah by following the mystical paths of the Sefirot. In these higher realms they have received spiritual guidance from the purest energies that manifest thorough the 10 Sefirot and 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet as prescribed by G-d.

The teachings of The Zohar, which after the destruction of the second temple (100-200 CE) revealed Kabbalah in a concise form, related to the Hebrew Bible tell how Adam received The Book (mystical Knowledge of Creation) from G-d. All evil was contained before the first vessels of creation were shattered during the episode involving Eve, the Serpent and the fruits of the Tree of Knowledge. Much of this desire for Knowledge was passed from Adam to his son Seth (the son that most resembled Adam’s character), then to Noah, Shem (Malchitzedek), Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and is found today in the book known as Sefer Yetzirah[4]. After Adam ate the 'forbidden fruit' , desired knowledge he lost his complete comprehension of Divine Creation, which was concealed from him. It was only through his repentance that G-d re-revealed His Knowledge, this time in the written word absent of his complete esoteric understanding. Adam spent all his days studying the Knowledge to regain what he once possessed and which contained the deepest mysteries describing the instant of creation and everything that proceeded from it.

Studies of The Knowledge of Creation resulted in limited writings through the generations for around 2000 years leading to the time of Abraham and Isaac[5]. Jacob is known to have studied intensely for 14 years in the same cave of learning that Shem studied in. It is quite clear that knowledge of the concepts contained in these early writings were deeply ingrained in the minds of all Israel’s forefathers. In the book, Sefer Yetzirah, the 10 Sefirot are described as if a Tree of Life including the 22 energy paths (branches) that result from the vessels of the soul defined by G-d.

The Tree of Life (see diagram above) around which the deepest mystical knowledge of the universe and life were formed. Only Torah, read and understood, in its highest most abstract representation contains the revelation that can accurately reflect the intricately detailed make-up of the energies of the Sefirot.

In each vessel (attribute) an aspect of G-d’s light exists which is described in our soulful realm by the Sages as follows;

1 - Keter – Crown – Higher world attribute governing pleasure and desire – closest to G-d therefore representing good. It is the highest dimension and is joined with Malkhut, its opposite, in the cascading heavenly scheme.

2 - Chokmah – Higher world intellectual attribute of Wisdom – Leading the right column it is the masculine form often described as being the right side of good – providing insight. Containing the fixed past, therefore representing the good that emenates from it. This forms the second dimension when joined with Binah. Since the past feeds the future, in a sense fertilizing it, Chokmah is thought of as male.

3 - Binah – Higher world intellectual attribute of Understanding, Awareness, Intelligence – leading the left column it is feminine. Enabling the future and therefore the application of free will often described as being the side of evil – stimulating analysis. Since Binah (the future) receives from the past it is thought of as female.

4 - Chesed – Lower world emotional attribute. Love, Compassion, Kindness, Righteousness – the quality of giving and revealing to others; emanating from Chokmah therefore good

5 - Gevurah – Lower world emotional attribute. Strength, Fortitude, Valor – the quality of withholding from others; emanating from Binah therefore evil

6 - Tiferet – Interfacing lower world (emotional )and higher world (intellectual) attributes. Balance, Beauty, Perfection – representing the center column – bringing down the light of mercy

7 - Netzach – Lower world emotional attribute. Victory, Eternity, Infinity – the desire to overcome obstacles

8 - Hod – Lower world emotional attribute. Splendor, Majesty, Greatness – the quality of grandeur; forming the third dimension when joined with Netzach

9 - Yesod – Lower world emotional attribute. Foundation, Principle – the desire to influence others

10 - Malkhut – Manifestation of Higher world and Lower world attributes through, speech or action by which all connections to our spiritual and physical are carried into life. Sovereignty, Kingship – the desire to rule over others; representing the side of evil in its opposite position to its crown being Keter

In the first chapter of the book of Genesis, (Elokim) The Deity that created the universe designates that Justice and Judgment were executed in His absolute form and not in His form where He presides over His celestial court. In this chapter His specific name is stated on 32 individual and specific occasions associated with His actions during the creation of the heavens, the universe, the world and man[6].

In the highest universal realm, the higher Sefirot (1-3) are commonly referred to as Arich Anpin (The Upper Three) and the lower Sefirot (4-9) – Zer Anpin (The Lower Six). Malkhut (10) is referred to separately as it is the vessel through which we connect to all the energies of the Sefirot, it is the active vessel through which we execute action, in a real world sense, to fulfill G-d’s commands and is generally referred to as Feminine and reflected as the Sabbath. The lower Sefirot are related to the six days of the week with Malkhut being the 7th day(Sabbath). Sabbath (from Friday evening through Saturday evening) is the day on which Jewish people welcome the “Sabbath Bride” when G-d’s holy Feminine presence (the Shekinah) descends to dwell amongst us in peace, protecting and re-invigorating our souls during the Sabbath and by her presence, negating the prominence of evil forces of the other side.

From the 32 times G-d’s name is mentioned in Genesis and the specific acts that emanated from His name, 22 letters and 10 digits are derived as the vessels through which creation took place. Every letter is revealed by and emanates from G-d’s four letter name (י'ה'ו'ה) (Y’H’V’H), which incorporates and is interchangeable with the mother letters א-Aleph-Air, מ-Mem-Water and ש-Shin-Fire. His name is a 6 dimensional analogy for all that exists, the last letter ה denoting the lower world-Malkhut. These 6 dimensions occur in lower and upper worlds often reflected by use of the number 12 representing the completion upper and lower. The array of the 4 letters of His name designates the multiplicity of every conceivable dimension and direction in space. By exhausting all possible arrangements of the letters of His name, the variable flow of energy between each of the vessels of the Sefirot is determined[7]. All roads of Kabbalah lead back to this point no matter how complex the path back may be. Although there are 4 letters in His name, one letter is duplicated the 3 remaining letters parallel 3 Mother Letters representing the elements of Air, Water and Fire reflecting thesis, antithesis and synthesis. The combinational arrays derived by the application of His name together with the Sefirot and their energy flow reveal the primary source for Kabbalah.

The triangle numbers from Genesis 1:1 (see: in particular the numbers 73 and its whole number midpoint 37 (the 37th inverted triangle that pierced the perimeter of the 73rd triangle on each of its 3 sides to reflect the number 666) establishes the relevance of these precepts. It becomes abundantly clear when we discover that Chokmah the attribute of wisdom in the Sefirot, the highest attribute through which man unites the higher (Keter – The Crown) and lower worlds (The nine remaining Sefirot), contains a unique numerical relationship in that (Chokmah; meaning: wisdom) חכמה = 8+20+40+5 =73. Further, when we look at the ordinal position of its letters we discover that (Chokmah) חכמה= 8th letter +11th letter +13th letter +5th letter = 37. This alludes to the mystery of wisdom being the attribute with the capacity to comprehend all information from the internal and external. However, we can only connect with this understanding through the purity and holiness of each Sefirah that procedes it. To realize our inner wisdom, we must first traverse from the lowest point Malkhut through Yesod, Hod, Netzach, Tiferet, Gevurah, Chesed and Binah to the attribute of Chokmah, only then can Divine Wisdom be accessed by which perfected cognitive reasoning, speech and action can be applied.

Yesod - Foundation (יסוד = 80), the attribute that connects Zer Anpin (the lower 6) to Malkhut - Kingdom (מלכות = 496; the 4th known Perfect Number), is the mystical attribute combination that enables the soul and spiritual essence of the higher world to be brought down to the pragmatic reality of the lower world. When one considers these numbers produce a sum of 576 and that 576 = 24^2 (squared) we are able then to assign a numeric relationship to the importance of the 24 possible permutations[8] of G-d’s explicit name (The letter array of all possible combinations of the Tetragramaton – Y’H’V’H or י'ה'ו'ה). In order to elevate ones thoughts through the ranks of each Sefirah to gain Divine understanding and insight, various ancient mediative techniques using the letter permutations of G-d's name were devised.

Within each attribute are the detailed profiles of each such that the pattern of Sefirot of the highest realm is repeated in a concealed manner within the vessels of the lower realms. Each Sefirah is governed by its unique and specific energy pattern contained in each of its 10 Sefirot, which specifically define the characteristics of that Sefirah. All of our personalities are governed by this balance. It is like the fingerprint of our persona, each one of us being absolutely and perfectly unique.

One of the teachings of the famous Maggid of the city of Mezritch, heard by the Alter Rebbe (the head of the Lubavitcher movement in Russia) in 5524 (1764) casts light on the source of the Sefirot:
"I (Anochi) have made the earth, and upon it created man."[9] Anochi, He who is the true "I",[10] unknown to and concealed from even the loftiest emanations, clothed His blessed Essence through numerous condensations to give rise to the emanations and creatures, to Serafim, Chayot, Ofanim, angels and "worlds" beyond number. Through countless condensations, "I made this (physical) world and upon it created (barati) man." Man is the end-purpose of Creation, and barati is the end-purpose of man. (Barati, "I created," has the numerical equivalent of 613, the number of written commandments in the Torah) and the number of know nerves, sinews and vessels of the human body.

[1] Inner Space – Aryeh Kaplan Pg3 -
[2] Sefer Yetzirah – Aryeh Kaplan Ch1
[3] Inner Space – Aryeh Kaplan Pg 49
[4] See Sefer Yetzirah – The Book of Creation – In Theory and Practice – Revised Edition – Aryeh Kaplan
[5] Sefer Yetzirah – Aryeh Kaplan Pg xii
[6] Sefer Yetzirah – Aryeh Kaplan Ch 1
[7] Sefer Yetzirah – Aryeh Kaplan Pg 83 Table 13.
[8] Meditation and Kabbalah – The Hidden Eden
[9] Yeshayahu 45:12
[10] Lit.: "I, Whoever I Am."

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