In the previous article the cosmic archetypes of the ancient Greek Decad were introduced. In this article we will introduce another perspective of these cosmic archetypes of 1 to 10, this time coming to us from the ancient mystical tradition of the Kabbalah.
If you haven’t read Article 5 yet, it is suggested reading before this one.
Kabbalah (Qabbalah) literally means ‘parallel/corresponding’ or ‘received tradition’. “It is an esoteric method, discipline and school of thought that originated in Judaism…It is meant to explain the relationship between an unchanging, eternal, and mysterious Ein Sof (infinity) and the mortal and finite universe (God’s creation).”1
Furthermore, writes Freddy Silva, “Qabbalah is an ancient system of theoretical and practical wisdom, a symbolic map of creation, providing the student with paths or insights towards spiritual growth through the uncovering of hidden knowledge. One of the meanings of Qabbalah is found in the Portuguese word cavalo or horse, as maintained by the Knights Templars when they brought the wisdom of the Mysteries to Portugal. It is said that when the student ‘mounts the horse’ he embarks on a quest for knowledge and Universal truth. Interestingly, also derived from cavalo is the verb cavar, to dig below the surface, and cave, symbolic of the womb, of going within.”
The Kabbalah recognizes two natures of existence just as the ancient Greeks did. We have been designating these two natures of existence as the physical, seen, material world; and the metaphysical, unseen, spiritual world. Kabbalists envision these two natures of existence as the two aspects of God: the Concealed God and the Revealed God.
“The ancient Hebrew wisdom of the Kabbalah holds that we are split beings, living in a split world. It teaches that our task in life is to restore to wholeness as many fragments as we encounter along the path of our life. This is the art of being human.” ~ Gyorgy Doczi, The Power of Limits
The Concealed God corresponds to the unseen metaphysical reality. It is God in essence – absolutely transcendent, unknowable, and limitless.
The Revealed God corresponds to the seen physical reality. It is God in manifestation – the revealed persona of God through which it creates, sustains and relates to humankind. The Concealed God is not accessible to normal human perception, but the Revealed God is. The Revealed God is dynamically interacting throughout spiritual and physical existence, revealing the divine emanations which are bound up in the life of humanity.
The 10 Sephirot from the Kabbalistic tradition are these divine emanations bound up in the life of humanity. They are analogous to the Greek Decad and are illustrated by the commonly-known Tree of Life.
Sephirot = Emanations. That is, cosmic emanations, or creative forces from the Infinite Source. There are 10 different ways the One reveals its Will through Emanations. The 10 different ways, or the 10 Sephirot, are a step-by-step process illuminating the Divine plan as it unfolds itself in Creation.
This process also represents the transformational journey of the soul of humanity as it spiritually evolves towards a reunion with Unity. This pathway is two-fold (represented by right-hand and left-had branches) and symbolizes the all-important choice of choosing to travel the road of the greatest good or the road of the selfish individual good. This will be discussed in detail in later articles.
When studying the Kabbalah and the Tree of Life, the 10 Sephirot can be explained and defined in various ways depending on the perspective of who is explaining. Here they are explained through the lens of the ancient Greek Decad, as both systems attempt to explain the cosmic creating process of how the Many come from the One.
In the Kabbalistic tradition, the Monad, or Source is called Ain Soph Aur, the Infinite Light. Ain Soph Aur (Infinite Light) retracts itself within itself to a light point which then brings forth the Crown, the 1st emanation, called Kether.
1 – Kether – Unity
The first emanation is Kether, the Crown, meaning Unity. The Crown represents the Divine Will to Create, the Infinite Light of the Creator, Faith, and Pure Consciousness.
The Crown is Absolute Unity & Infinity, as the Monad is. In it rests the primal darkness of the absolute Unity above anything else.
Kether, being the first, is the One in which everything has its origin, its existence, and to which everything will return – the timelessness and eternity of the Monad.
Note that we are specifically referring to Light when we talk about the 10 Sephirot emanating from the ‘Infinite Light’. These interpenetrating emanations from the Infinite Light of Cosmic Consciousness result in pulsations and vibrations – specific wavelengths, frequencies and harmonics that all physical reality is built upon.
In other words, the light point (Kether) moves, and in its movements it emits light energy (photons). This Kether, the Monad, represents Cosmic Consciousness. This is the primal ocean of subtle Aether used for the building of the Universe. We will thoroughly discuss the scientific validation of the Aether, and the qualities and structure of the Aether in up-coming articles.
The subtle Aether (the undifferentiated ocean of consciousness – the metaphysical reality) is polarized into harmonious moving opposites of positive and negative, attraction and repulsion, contraction and expansion. This mirrors the principles of the Dyad – that is the Will being focused and therefore creating a potential out of the unpotentiated Infinite All, a potential that is positive or negative depending on its qualities. In this, there is harmonious equilibrium.
2 – Chochmah – Wisdom
The second emanation, Chochmah, refers to Wisdom. In this sense, wisdom is the first unbounded flash of an idea before it takes on limitations. In other words, it is the Logos (the Word), the power of action – willpower – that creates from nothingness. Chochmah is the power to create multiplicity from Unity. In human experience, all creation is co-creation. It is the merging of human consciousness with the Source of Cosmic Consciousness to manifest something in reality that began with a flash of divine inspiration.
This divine inspiration is the seed of creation. Therefore, Chochmah is the seed, just as the Vesica Piscis, symbol of the dyad, is the womb. These are the primal forces of creation that bring forth the physical reality from the metaphysical realm. This is how the Many come from the One.
3 – Binah – Understanding
The third emanation, Binah, refers to Understanding. The Infinite flash of Chochmah creates breadth and depth (the plane) when brought into the vessel (the Vesica) of understanding. To truly understand another is to harmonize with that other. Understanding, therefore, means Harmony. Harmony is the principle of the Triad. It is the synthesizing and balancing aspect of creation. To understand and harmonize with another, it requires compassion. Compassion is understanding. Or, to put it another way, understanding is empathy. To empathize requires compassion.
Binah nurtures the seed (Chochmah). In other words, compassion nurtures wisdom and makes it more powerful. Wisdom without compassion destroys and separates (this is the left hand path of individual selfish good). Wisdom balanced with compassion creates and unifies (this is the right-hand path of the greatest good).
4 – Chesed – Kindness
The fourth emanation, Chesed, refers to Kindness. Kindness is the loving grace of free giving. It is love and unlimited benevolence. One way to look at this is to see Nature as a manifestation of divine kindness. Nature always provides and sustains humanity. Regardless of how humanity treats nature or treats one another, Nature always provides. The sun continues to shine. The rain continues to fall. The plants continue to grow and bear fruit. The animals continue to reproduce.
Nature is the perfect manifestation of Love or Unlimited Benevolence. Nature is also form and physical materialization – the Tetrad.
One important note is realizing that wisdom (Chochmah) balanced with compassion (Binah) yields Chesed – Kindness. A balancing of wisdom and compassion in our consciousness will bear all the fruits that are needed to sustain us physically, mentally and spiritually.
5 – Geburah – Severity
The fifth emanation, Geburah, refers to Severity. This can be taken many ways, however we will correspond severity with the idea of strength and focused intention and willpower, that is – discipline. Through a mystical awe of divinity, discipline can yield power and courage.
In the positive sense, life is a balance of wisdom and compassion through self-awareness and focus of the will. This is the balance of Chochmah, Binah and Chesed.
In the negative sense, if one does not balance wisdom with compassion, then wisdom will destroy. It will lead to an unbalanced state of severity, and rather than using the strength of the focused will power for the greatest good, wisdom alone will be used to heighten power and perfect discipline to be used for the individual selfish good. There we will see the common definitions of severity made manifest – that is: harshness; sternness; unpleasant violence; unnecessarily extreme or strict behavior or punishment; and causing discomfort or distress by extreme character or conditions.
On a deeper level how we balance the aspects of compassion and wisdom will result in the quality of our lives. Life, the pentad, will be a direct reflection of our ability to balance seeming opposites and unify them in our consciousness.
To return to the metaphor used in the previous article about the pentad, Manly P Hall writes, “It was customary for the philosophers to conceal the element of earth under the symbol of a dragon, and many of the heroes of antiquity were told to go forth and slay the dragon. Hence, they drove their sword (the monad) into the body of the dragon (the tetrad). This resulted in the formation of the pentad, a symbol of the victory of the spiritual nature over the material nature.”
Here, we will liken the sword to the focused will. The willpower must be used with discipline and strength, then the sword (severity) can be plunged into the body of the dragon (the tetrad), and if done in a balanced fashion (right down the center of the tetrad, splitting it in two), then the pentad, the symbol of life and regeneration, will result, symbolizing the victory of the spiritual nature over the material nature.
6 – Tipereth – Beauty
The sixth emanation, Tipereth, refers to Beauty or Mercy. In this sense, beauty refers to symmetry and balance between kindness and severity and between wisdom and compassion. Also, in order to have mercy – but not pity – on another, it requires a fine balance of compassion and wisdom, and to bestow mercy, rather than perpetuate grudges, is a most beautiful thing.
It is important to note, regarding all 10 Sephirot, the importance of Balance.
It is common knowledge that our idea of beauty is heavily influenced by symmetry. In this sense, beauty of Tipereth corresponds to symmetry of the hexad – or efficient structure, function and order. Everything fits together perfectly and moves ahead with ease when balanced.
7 – Nezach – Eternity/Victory/Confidence
The seventh emanation, Nezach, refers to Eternity, Victory, or Confidence. This heavily corresponds to the idea of the Heptad: Eternity as a 7-step process of transformation to return to Unity.
Just as sure as we live and breathe, we can have confidence in eternity, and in the knowledge that life is never still, but continually urges us on to learn to transcend to higher heights, fulfilling our highest potential for the greatest good. When we recognize the 7-step transformation that is inherent in our spiritual evolution, we can begin to live by it, using the pattern for more efficient growth and for a more joyous and graceful evolutionary process – both individually and globally.
This confidence in eternity, and the knowledge of the 7-step process, will lead to victory – a victory of the spiritual nature over the material nature; and a victory of unity over separation.
8 – Hod – Splendor/Glory
The eighth emanation, Hod, refers to Splendor and Glory. It also refers to Surrender, Sincerity and Earnestness.
To return to the idea above about Nezach: the confidence in eternity, and the knowledge of the 7-step process, as well as the use of that knowledge in sincerity and earnestness, and the surrender to the 7-step process will lead to splendor and glory – a reunification with the Crown, the Monad.
This implies the limitless growth of the Octad. Surrendering to the process of the 7-step transformation – living by and using the knowledge – will lead to the glory and splendor of the Return – the return of the Octave, the return to unity, but at a higher level.
Splendor and glory also refer to the process of the Octave itself – the glory and splendor of infinite spiraling octaves. Surrendering to this process means having faith and confidence that you will eventually return to unity – but first you must use the knowledge and balance opposing forces in order to do so.
9 – Yesod – Foundation/Truth
The ninth emanation, Yesod, refers to the Foundation and Truth. In this sense we are referring to the Foundation as Truth, and Truth as the Foundation. The seeking of truth is the foundation upon which spiritual transformation and evolution occurs.
Truth here means ‘wholly remembering’, and ‘coherent knowledge’. Wholly remembering refers to remembering the nature of our Whole Selves – our True Selves that transcend this one body and this lifetime. It is remembering the divine nature of our eternal souls and all that comes along with that.
Coherent knowledge refers to knowledge that is ordered and balanced – the knowledge of the Universe and the order and harmony that is inherent in creation.
This foundation of truth reflects the idea of the Ennead, or the Horizon. In this sense, the horizon is the boundary of becoming whole again – the balance of all emanations. Once we cross the horizon, we become whole again – we reunite with Unity.
10 – Malkuth – Kingship
The tenth and last emanation, Malkuth, refers to Kingship. In this sense it means Accomplishment or the Realization of the Divine Plan. On a universal level, this refers to the creation of the physical reality from the metaphysical reality. On an individual level, this refers to evolving spiritually through the process of transformation to become One with Unity.
Life and spiritual transformation is a journey. The Malkuth, or the Decad, teaches us this journey is a journey into Limitlessness.
In the last article we explored the journey through the Decad – the archetypal principles representing a transformational journey of the Soul – a returning and reuniting with Unity.
In this article we have touched the surface of the Kabbalah and the 10 Sephirot of the Tree of Life. The 10 Sephirot also represent a transformational journey of the Soul and a returning to Unity.
Many other spiritual traditions have their own versions of the transformation of the Soul. Which spiritual tradition you choose is less important than what you do with the knowledge contained within that tradition. They all deal with accepting the eternal status of the soul, and learning what to do with the Soul (learning how to use the consciousness), once it is accepted that the evolution of the Consciousness – on an individual level and on a planetary level – is the purpose of physical existence, both the journey and the destination.
Article 78 returns to a discussion of the Tree of Life.