Lesson 11 - The Tree of Life
The Qabalah or the Tree of Life
A journey of experience
The Quabalah or tree of life is depicted as ten circles, called Sephyrots with connecting lines, called paths, and organised in three columns, together appearing almost like a tree.
The tree columns represent the tree main nadis, the central Susumna and Ida and Pingala on each side.
The ten Sephyrots connect to each other in a certain order, depicting how the soul gradually moved from unity with the Divine, and into identification with matter.
The Sephyrots, the paths and the movement between them are all archetypes
Jung identified identical, primordial, inherited images, or
modes of perception in the collective unconscious.
The structures manifest strikingly similar in dreams from people of different creed, sex, religion and culture, and are ideas, images or ˜chords,which regulate perception itself.
These images also appear in world mythology, and Jung concluded that these archetypes? represented absolutes? in the human psyche.
The archetypes are both linked to the instincts and to spirituality; they are charged with intensity and works automatically from the unconscious.
Archetypes can be the father, the mother, the wise old woman, the magician, the fool, the devil, the trickster, the lover etc.
There is a clear parallel here between the layout of the Quabalah and that of the Greek myths and their connection to the zodiac; they all attempt to describe the ladder from unmanifest unity with God, to individualized Man.
The first Sephira (the name of the circles) is the source.
By analogy it can be represented as white light. If the white light of the first Sephira is projected through the other nine Sephiroth it is divided into its component colours and shades just as light is refracted by a prism. The Theosophists call this phenomenon the seven rays of creation.
If we understand the paths that the creation follows as movement and direction of energy, and bear in mind the basic law in physics that state that change or movement is only possible where there is an energy difference, then it follows, that there is a difference in the energy between two ends of a path, between two Sefiroth on the Tree of Life.
The Sephyrots describe the journey understood psychologically, which largely is the same as astral. The astral level is special in that information there is stored as images. The energy difference will thus be reflected as images? on the astral level.
The actual essence of the Sephyrots are causal in nature, but will be perceived as images in the astral. The Causal are usually not conscious until it creates images in the astral.
The ten concepts presented to us by the Sephyrots are ideal organising principles for the Major Arcana pictures. They too are a ladder from God to matter.
In Jungian language, we would say that both the Sephyrots and the Major Arcana are archetypes, absolutes? in the human psyche.
The path represents the movement between the concepts, the hero™s journey, describing the ascend to God or the descend to matter; they too are archetypes.
The quabalah, the science of God, of the nature of man, and of all the relations which exist between these. [¦] For the first manifestation of the Logos, the first, very highest divine frequency which streaks through infinite space [¦], setting Creation in motion, is the tone, the sound, thus the letters. These first manifestations of the creative will, the vibrations of the tone, form the entire creation according to mathematical laws, divine ideas and thoughts. They act as an animating energy in every creature, be that a universe, sun, planet, crystallising stone, plant, animal or man. The great initiates knew the basic elements of the creation and the link between the creative vibrations of the letters and numbers which act as mathematical laws in the creation and realise creative ideas at the level of matter. From these basic elements and their relations they created pictures each representing a creative idea, thus a concept, a letter and a number. These pictures are the Greater Arcana of the tarot deck
Elisabeth Haigh: The Wisdom of the Tarot p 20f “It is easy to give an explanation of the meaning of the word itself, for its roots is QBL, which means to receive, hence the Quabalah is the received? doctrine, the esoteric side of the scriptures, the Doctrine of the Heart, in contradistinction to the doctrine of the eye, the inner Truth as opposed to the outer form.”
The Mysteries of the Quabalah p 55
Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden, and there HE put the man HE had formed. And the Lord God made all kind of trees grow out of the ground “ trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle were the tree of life and the tree of knowledge of good and evil
In the Garden of Eden, beneath an overwhelmingly intense sun, a naked man and a naked woman stand besides each other in awe. The man is looking at the woman, and the woman is looking at the archangel Gabriel who stands in front of the gate of Heaven. Behind the woman is the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil with its fruits, the five sense organs. The tree is the ego, which by its very nature is discriminating, splitting in polarities. Behind the man stands the Tree of life with the twelve signs of the zodiac, symbolising the higher self or unity. Gabriel is spreading out his arms inquiringly, indicating that a choice has to be made. The essence of the card is the choice; will they direct their life energy down and out into the outer world, or in and upwards towards God?
The Qabalah or the Tree of Life is an ancient Jewish system of spiritual knowledge, maybe even with roots older than that. […] All traditions, cultures and beliefs, like rivers, start from a spring or fountain taking on characteristics that change through time and the layout of the land through which they flow. The Western Tradition sprang from the Qabalah.
Edited from Kate Rheeders: Qabalah a beginners guide?, p.1
Some texts talk about Quabalah, meaning the understanding of development as depicted in the tree of life, other texts seems to use Quabalah? as depicting a broader range of texts. We use the terms Quabalah? and Tree of life? synonymous.
The Blessed Lord said: They (the wise) speak of an eternal ashvattha tree, with roots above and boughs beneath, whose leaves are Vedic hymns. He who understands this tree is a Veda-knower.?
The Bhagavad-Gita, chapter XV
The bodies of all living things
Trees symbolize the bodies of all living things “ plants, animals, man “ possessing their own distinct type of roots, trunks, and branches with their life-sustaining circulatory and nervous systems. Of all living forms, only man’s body with its unique cerebrospinal centres has the potential of expressing fully God™s cosmic consciousness. The sacred Ashvattha tree (the pipal or holy fig tree associated with worship of the Divine) therefore symbolizes the human body; supreme among other forms of life.
Man™s physical-astral-causal body is like an upturned tree, with roots in the hair and brain, and in astral rays from the thousand-petalled lotus, and in causal thought emanations which are nourished by cosmic consciousness. The trunk of the tree of life in man is the physical-astral-causal spine, the astral nadis (channels or rays of life force), and thought emanations of the magnetic causal body. The hair, cranial nerves, medulla, cerebral-astral rays, and causal thought emanations are antennae that draw from the ether life force and cosmic consciousness. Thus man is nourished not only by physical food, but by God™s cosmic energy and His underlying cosmic consciousness.
Paramahansa Yogananda:?The Bhagavad-Gita?, p. 788-789
The Ashvattha Tree - the composite of man
The Ashvattha Tree (holy fig tree) is remarkable for great size and longevity. […]Ashvattha is used metaphorically to describe the mighty, many-branched system of integrated consciousness, life force and afferent and efferent nerves that is the composite of man?.
[…] In these Gita verses, the ashvattha tree refers specifically to the creative principles of Prakiti at work in the threefold body of man (physical, astral, and causal), though the analogy itself is equally applicable on a cosmic scale.?
[…] This enduring TREE OF LIFE?, mentioned in many scriptures of the world, including the Bible “ is the human body and the human mind. In the light of intuition, yogis behold the inverted tree of consciousness (ideational components of the causal body) within the tree of life force (the nadis of the astral body, channels of energy), these two existing interlocked within the inverted tree of the physical cerebrospinal nervous system. This triple tree has its roots of thought emanations, life-force rays, and cranial nerves hanging upside down from the eternal Cosmic Consciousness above its ideational, astral, and physical spinal trunks; and its triple branches hanging below.?
[…] In the human body, the physical tree of nerves is a gross manifestation of the astral tree of life energy within. The two trees of nerves and life force are condensed out of the tree of human consciousness, the elemental ideas in the causal body, which in turn emanate from Cosmic Consciousness?.
Paramahansa Yogananda:?The Bhagavad-Gita?, p.927-928
Until the time of the prophet Isaiah seraph signified a sacred serpent with three pairs of wings. Isaiah then took over this name for the angels. Since that time Seraph has been the name of an angelic being with three pairs of wings. Sefiroth is a whole host of such angels. In the Cabbala there are ten such creative sefiroth. Sefirah literally means emanation (radiation). In modern scientific terminology the sefiroth would be known as “emanating energy fields”.
E. Haigh: The Wisdom of the Tarot p. 32 f
Key words for the 10 Sephiras Their number illustrates their place in the step by step process from God to matter, and thus also from matter and back to God:
1. Kether Pure Spirit
2. Chockmah Wisdom
3. Binah Understanding
D. Daath Experience
4 Chesed Compassion
5 Geburah Discipline
6 Tiph-Ereth Beauty, harmony
7 Netzach Achievement
8 Hod Glory
9 Yesod Foundations of Life
10 Malchuth External world
Here from Kate Rheeder: Qabalah a beginner’s guide p 39
The Qabalah or tree of life is depicted as ten circles, called Sephiras with connecting lines, called paths, and organised in three columns,
Together appearing almost like a tree. The ten Sephiras connect to each other in a certain order, depicting how the soul gradually moves from unity with the Divine, and into identification with matter. The first Sephira is the source. By analogy it can be represented as white light. If the white light of the first Sephira is projected through the other nine Sephiroth it is divided into its component colours and shades, just as light is refracted by a prism. The Theosophists call this phenomenon the seven rays of creation.
The Tree of Life as a translation of the aura
The images describe the energy in the journey
If we understand the paths that the creation follows as movement and direction of energy from sefirot to sefiroth, and bear in mind the basic law in physics that state that change or movement is only possible where there is an energy difference, then it follows, that there is a difference in the energy between two ends of a path and between two Sefiroth on the Tree of Life.
This is happening in the astral aura, and the astral is special in that information is stored as images. It follows that the images describe the energy in the journey. The Sephirats describe the main stations of the journey
Nadi? refers to points? or stars?. The word is
Used as reference to stars as in Nadi shastra. It is also used in the science of Ayurveda to refer to points in the body
Vedic Astrology, Glossary
Working with the secondary chakras
Is at the same time working with the nadis
The chakras act as energy distributors. The primary energy is channelled from the receiving chakra, to its secondary chakra(s) via nadis, and from there, via nadis, to the nerves and endocrine system and blood circulation in the physical body.
Working with the secondary chakras is thus at the same time working with the nadis.
The descriptions [of the nadis] vary considerably, both in particulars and degree of detail. […] some maintain that the nadis are an intrinsic element of the astral body, because the nadis are composed of subtle matter. Other researchers claim that the nadis are identical with the cardio-vascular and nervous system.
There is no general consensus concerning the number of nadis which exists in the body, figures vary from 1000 to 350.000. The number of nadis that most often is expressed is 72.000.
Out of these, ten, fourteen or fifteen, again dependent on the text, are deemed especially important.
The three major nadis, Ida, Pingala and Sushumna, originate in the Muladhara [root chakra]. These are the most important among the reputedly 72.000 nadis in the body. […]
Motoyama H.: Theories of the Chakras: Bridge to Higher Consciousness.
Energy-movement and Tarot
The many levels of energy-movement from God to matter will on the astral level be seen as images. These images will have a universal, archetypical content, because they reflect the universalities of what constitutes the human makeup.
These universal images are what the original 22 major arkana tarot cards in a crude way depict.
The illustrations on a major arkana tarot deck are of course an artist’s impression and generalisation of the images, of which each of us have our own inner individualised designs, often showing up in dreams.
The energy in the paths, between the various Sephirots in the Tree of Life, is at the same time the basic building blocks leading creation from the unmanifested divine to the physical and vice versa, and so describing a model of personal and spiritual development.
If we were able to contain the essence of all the paths, altogether, in a consciousness of Oneness (higher consciousness), then the strings? holding us to the karmic cycles of rebirth would be gone, we would not need a physical body, we would be enlightened.
THE TAROT CARDS DO NOT ILLUSTRATE THE INTERACTIONS BETWEEN OUTER PEOPLE! IT IS IMPORTANT TO UNDERSTAND THESE FIGURES AS THE INNER MALE AND FEMALE ASPECTS EACH OF US HAVE, REGARDLESS OF OUR PHYSICAL SEX.