Wisdom of Kabbalah
Raise Sparks, Wisdom of Kabbalah!
Kabbalah offers a map of creation, from the first intention down to the swirling mass of matter, which we now understand as the basis of quantum physics. We’ll use the central symbol of Kabbalah, the Tree of Life, as a source of meditation to help us better understand different aspects of ourselves.
The Sefirot are ten attributes through which Divine manifests itself. One may say that the Sefirot have two basic functions, one as lights that serve to reveal and express, and another as vessels that define the light so that specific qualities are manifest. By understanding Sefirot interrelationships, we can relate to the process of the Creation and the operation of the universe.
The Tree of the Sefirot is considered the link between heaven and earth. The head of Kether is rooted in Ein Sof, the Divine nature of the Creator. Because of this Keter is incomprehensible and indescribable, it is called “the most hidden of all hidden things.” At the moment of manifestation, the Will of the absolute is signified by a dimensionless point of light, coming out of the veil of non-existence. A Crown is the kabbalistic symbol to describe that dimensionless point between manifest and unmanifest. Such a crown is hollow and through its center passes everything that is to come into being – everything that was, is and will be.
Chochmah is the uppermost of the sephirot of the right line in the kabbalistic Tree of Life. It is to the bottom right of Keter, with Binah across from it. Chochmah has 2 faces, one facing Kether above, and the other facing below. One aspect is a communion with the Divine in order to increase our wisdom, and the other to teach others this wisdom. It’s associated with our intuition. It’s the potential of “what is”, the flesh of inspiration or the life force of all Creation.
Chochmah is associated with our right brain function, and is on the masculine side of the Tree of Life. Chochmah is pure potential. It is an idea waiting to be developed, a beginning of the process. It’s not possible to intellectually inquire above the level of chohmah. Higher aspects of Creation do not come through intellectual channels, but from pure formless consciousness. “Wisdom comes from nothingness.”
Binah is the uppermost feminine element. Having received the seed from Chohmah, Binah conceived and gave birth to the seven lower Sefirot. In our mind we first activate our Chohmah (idea) and then our Binah (how to make it happen). Binah is the meticulous systemizing and quantifying of the solution that Chohmah has conceived. It is here that we touch and understand the mysteries of birth and death for what they really are. Once we put Chohmah and Binah together, we have knowledge (Daat). Binah consciousness is being here and now, one does not dwell on past or future. Here we gain mastery over emotional reactions and bring a new sense of mental calmness.
Loving-Kindness, Unconditional Love for Every Being
Right Arm. Chesed is associated with the desire to embrace all of Creation and bestow upon it goodness. Chesed is considered the first “day” of Creation. The Divine consciousness of this day is that all of Creation is one as embraced, in love, by the Oneness of the Creator.
The first day, the day of loving-kindness, “accompanies” and radiates its light to all the other days of Creation. Being first carries within itself a property that no other element in the universe possesses. Every action in the universe has a cause, except that which is the first one. Chesed is the first step of action, it’s preceded only by “thought”.
Chesed also describes the beginning of any relationship of the Creator to human. The underlying foundation of all existence is a gift based on unconditional love. No person ever merited his / her own existence. In other words, the Creator owes us nothing. We were given love and life with no conditions and it’s up to us how well we’ll use it. Purity of motive is intrinsic to Chesed. As soon as there is a motivation “for something”, it has ceased being Chesed. There is a strong message in the positive correspondences for Chesed: without humility and love, leadership and power become the instruments of the human race self-destruction driven by greed & vanity. We would know this sefirot as Agape, Divine Love.
How to develop healthy discernment, strength, courage, fairness, attribute of justice. It’s the second of the emotive attributes of the sefirot. Positive Geburah is the ability to make sound decisions – detached, impartial, sensible, clear, true and very powerful. It’s about the strength to restrain one’s innate urge to bestow goodness upon others, when the recipient would misuse it, which leads to karmic repercussions for the giver and the receiver.
I’ll teach how to use safely the strength of this sefirot. When self-criticism and criticism of other people is over-emphasized, it has a potential to create what we call in the physical world – evil. In its extreme expression it can become very judgmental. Our ability to handle and direct the energies of balanced discernment depends on to what degree we have acquired stability within ourselves. In other words, the interplay between the unconditional love and discernment drives the Cause and Effect principle. If there was no Geburah, there would be no human accountability to its Creator. Too much and or only loving-kindness would lead to behaviour unrestricted by any moral values. It would negate the need for people to actively use their free will to choose the good.
If Chesed is the irrepressibly expanding impulse of love and growth, then Geburah is the counteracting restraint and concentration. Geburah could be called the “warriors” Sefirot for indeed the symbol that it represents is that of transformation. We use discernment to say “Enough”, “No” without feeling guilty, to stand up for ourselves and to setup healthy boundaries. It’s the sphere where we learn to overcome the opposition. It also teaches us responsibility and respect for the use of these great energies. We’ll look at the kindness and unaccountability of Chesed, versus the accountability of Geburah. Balancing loving kindness and discernment becomes an every-day task of each human. As opposite forces, Chesed and Geburah must balance one another in order to preserve order in the universe.
Beauty & Harmony
Tiphareth is about the beauty and appreciation of ongoing creation. It’s related to our heart, whose central position in the torso mediates between right and left, Chesed (“unconditional love” associated with giving) and Geburah (“discernment” associated with receiving). It’s about learning to see an issue through another’s point of view and to be able to incorporate that perspective into our worldview.
Tiphareth is the sefirot that unites the upper nine strengths. It’s considered the primary attribute of the Creator. Its goal is the development of human beings to their greatest potential. Tiphareth is not a “compromise”, but a synthesis or an integration of Chesed and Geburah, with its new characteristics. Tiphareth is sometimes associated with the idea of a tzaddik, someone who goes through the world doing good, making wise decisions and creating harmony.
Spiritual Endurance, perseverance, patience, the ability to continue despite hardships. We looked at the Kether, Cochmah & Binah triad as attributes of mind. We also looked at the Chesed, Geburah and Tiphareth triad as attributes of emotions. What are the processes, which convert our will, thoughts and our emotions, into actions? These are the next triad of sefirot: Netzach (endurance, patience), Hod (gratitude, inspiration), and Yesod (foundation).
We have been incarnated in this place and time for a reason. We have lessons to learn, things to experience, and a purpose to fulfill – we can only do these things if we have a physical body. How to choose desires that serve us, how to consciously direct our emotions and how to manifest our true desires in the physical realm. Get inspired! A key test of Netzach is to let go of past pleasures if they are no longer serving us, and this in order to create a better future. For example, say you want to lose weight but in this moment, you also want to eat butter. You have two wants conflicting with each other. Which one will win? Whichever is the strongest, whichever has the most desire and energy behind it. Imagine what we could create when the wants and desires that are for our highest good are the most powerful within ourselves! We do not need to renounce pleasure – that would lead to an unbalanced Netzach, but we can choose what pleasures we indulge in, those that lift us up rather than pull us down.
The Vice of Netzach is Selfishness. This is the attitude that our needs come before anyone else’s, no matter if pursuing them hurt others. When we recognize the needs of others and base our actions on pure motives, integrity, love, and compassion, then we are exhibiting the Virtue of Netzach – Unselfishness. Only when we seek to consider the needs and desires of others, then we become channels through which loving, creative energy can flow freely. The Illusion of Netzach is Projection. Projection is the act of attributing our own repressed feelings, desires, and motives onto others. By projecting our own negative feelings on others, we can abdicate responsibility for our behavior and use it to justify our actions. In this case, we can learn to consciously direct our emotions, rather than allowing them to unconsciously control our actions.
Splendour, spiritual surrender, awe, gratitude, humility. Hod is about the process of aligning of the Human and Divine Will, feeling of awe, trusting the universe, letting go, the source of humbleness, a conduit through which grace is given. It’s about the state of sincerity. Netzach and Hod unite in Yesod, which is the foundation of creativity and productivity. When we are experiencing an expansive moment of Hod, we need to understand that it will not last forever. Hod moments give us the juice to keep going on; Netzach is the going on itself.
On the more mundane planes, we can understand Hod as inspiration, and Netzach as perspiration. Hod are those moments of insight at which we sing and shout “awwww!” Netzach are the rest of the times. Whereas Chesed and Geburah signify unbounded loving-kindness and its constriction so that beings can receive according to their ability, Netzach and Hod are the two Sefirot which define the ability of the recipient to receive. Chesed, Geburah and Tiphareth manifest in the upper part of the body, in the arms and torso. With the energies of Netzach and Hod (which correspond to the right and left hips / legs / feet, respectively) we can learn to be firmly grounded even while we are striving for great heights. At the same time, we won’t lose sight of our capabilities despite our yearning for things beyond.
Netzech and Hod adapt a subtle concept of the Creator’s mind, and modify it to match the capacity of the student. They determine how things should be presented, so that teachings are understood. They serve as tools or vessels for applications of kindness, justice and compassion in the world. Unlike the upper sefirot, which act through stimulant of will and reason, those sefirot follow the casual order, they provide a sort of a distribution measure of loving-kindness. Netzach and Hod (the right and left legs), can only perform their function if they to walk–together. They teach us that it’s not sufficient that we as humans have individual desires, intellects and emotions, we are also invited to build something of enduring value in arts, culture, spirituality, community etc.
Yesod and Malkut in Kabbalah: How to stay grounded on a spiritual path. Sometimes we have taken our spirituality so seriously that we have forgotten to have fun in life. Spiritual people can be sensitive to other people’s feelings and are often thinking about how to save the world. From thereit’s not an easy transition to having fun and seeing the light side of life, yet we need that as a human being. I’ll teach how to combine joy with spirituality. Eating live nutrition, gardening, crystals, spring water and walking in nature can help us stay balanced and grounded.
The fundamental nature of Yesod is that of interface; it interfaces the rest of the Tree of Life to Malkuth. The interface is bi-directional; there are impulses coming down from Kether, and echoes bouncing back from Malkuth. The virtue of Yesod is independence, the ability to make our own foundations, to continually rebuild ourselves, to reject the security of comfortable illusions and confront reality without blinking. The vice of Yesod is idleness. This can be contrasted with the inertia of Malkuth. A stone is inert because it lacks the capacity to change. Yesod collects the vital forces of the sephirot above, and transmits these creative and vital energies into the feminine Malkuth below. Yesod channels, Malkuth receives. In turn, it is through Malkuth that the Earth is able to interact with the divinity. In other words, the foundation (yesod) of a building is its “grounding,” its union with the earth (malkuth).
Malkuth completes the chain of the sefirot. It’s associated with the physical realm. Malkuth gives tangible form to the other emanations. If we imagine the first three sefirot to be an idea arising in the mind, the second three to be the stirrings in the heart as it weighs and evaluates it, and the third three to be the qualities of action that bring it into being, then Malkuth is its actual being; its manifestation. Yesod has gathered together all of the energies of creation — and then it creates. Malkuth is the result.
In human terms, your Malkuth aspect corresponds to the fruits of your labor: that which actually happens out there in the world, once you’re finished willing and deciding and creating. Malkuth is also Shechinah, Presence, the Divine feminine. She is the Earth mating with the sky. The Divine is male and female in Kabbalah are experienced through spirit and body in a single individual. This is exemplified in the Hermetic maxim ‘As above so below’, and “Kether is in Malkuth, and Malkuth is in Kether”. What’s higher on a Kabbalistic hierarchy is not more important than what is below.