And yet they continually feed the fires of conflict within their own hearts and in society, in politics and economics. As long as we do not master our own disordered thoughts and feelings, we cannot hope to create durable peace around us. When peace reigns within us then, and then only, can we truly contribute to peace in the world. The fact that the Feasts of Christmas and Easter coincide with the winter solstice and the spring equinox is evidence of their cosmic significance. So we learn that the human being, who is part of the universe, participates intimately in the natural process of gestation and blossoming.
These two feasts are two different ways of celebrating the regeneration of men and women and their birth into the spiritual world. The solution of the question of evil lies in knowing the methods of how to work with it and to use its power. What-ever its origin, evil is an inner and outer reality which con-fronts us daily and which we have to learn to deal with. To attack it head-on is not only useless but dangerous: the odds are too heavily against us.
So we have to learn the methods to use in order to gain the upper hand and transform evil into good.
Freedom has become such an important political stake that we have lost sight of its true significance. Light is held by tradition to be the living substance of the universe from which God created the world. Recently, thanks to the development of the laser, light has become a formidable instrument for the exploration and transformation of matter. Light offers us an infinite range of possibilities both on the material and the spiritual planes.
Man is that ambiguous creature placed by evolution on the borderline between the animal kingdom and the Kingdom of God. His nature is twofold and if he is to continue to evolve it is important that he become aware of his inherent ambivalence. If the Scriptures declare, 'Ye are gods', it is in order to remind men that hidden deep within them lies that sublime essence that they have to learn to manifest. There are two fundamental principles in the universe which are reflected in every single manifestation of nature and of life: they are the masculine and feminine principles.
The whole of creation is the result of the concerted work of these two principles which are replicas of the two creative principles of the cosmos: the Heavenly Father and the Divine Mother, of which men and women are also the reflection. The two principles must work in conjunction: alone, each one is barren. Spiritual galvanoplasty is an application in the spiritual life of this science of the two principles. The whole of Christ's teaching is summed up in the prayer he gave us: the Lord's Prayer.
Nature, in her own wonderful way, has condensed a tree's entire potential into one tiny seed. Jesus did the same. He took his whole Teaching, and condensed it into a prayer to his Father, in the hope that this seed would take root in our souls, be nurtured by them and grow into its full potential : the massive fruitful tree of Initiatic Science, the true Teaching of Christ.
To write means to leave one's imprint on this great book, to act upon stones, plants, animals and men through the magic force of one's spirit. He strips them of their restrictive, purely anecdotal character, and reveals their underlying, psychological and spiritual realities. Suddenly it becomes clear that they are always relevant to our own inner lives, where the forces of materialism and spirituality confront and come to terms with each other.
And this is why, in order to interpret them, we have to breathe the life of the spirit into them: they will mean nothing to us if we are content to study them only as they occur outside ourselves. In order to experience other, new sensations, we must call into play those other, subtler organs and centres which we all possess. The constellations and planets are the hieroglyphs, the sacred letters which reveal, to those who know how to decipher them, how mankind and the world were created, how they evolve hand in hand and how their inner structure is identical.
Every human being who becomes aware of his kinship with the universe begins to feel the need to cultivate his inner life in order to rediscover, within himself, that cosmic plenitude symbolized to perfection by the circle of the zodiac. You find it perfectly normal to use natural, physical forces so why be astonished at the idea of using your own primitive forces! Once you know the rules of spiritual alchemy you will be able to transform and use the negative forces that exist in such abundance within you.
Similarly, when an Initiate wants to study one or other aspect of man's psychic structure, he applies the same method as an anatomist: he uses different diagrams or outlines according to which aspect he is studying. The laws of true artistic creation are identical with the laws of spiritual creation. The creative work of an artist is exactly the same work of inner regeneration as that undertaken by one who is striving for spiritual perfection.
Just as an artist uses paint and canvas, clay or bronze to create a work of art, so a spiritual person uses the raw materials of his or her own being in striving towards inner perfection. Knowing this, each one of you has the possibility of becoming a benefactor of mankind; by projecting your thoughts into the farthest reaches of space, you can send out messages of light to help, comfort, enlighten and heal others. He who undertakes this work knowingly and deliberately, gradually penetrates into the mysterious arcana of divine creation. The best weapon against illness is harmony.
Night and day think about synchronizing yourself with the whole of life - limitless life, cosmic life. Very few magi have reached the high level where the only ideal is to work in the Light for the Light. Those who manage to do so are the true benefactors of humanity. Nothing is more difficult than to put the spirit where it rightfully belongs in our lives: in first place. In fact, except in the case of a few great saints or mystics, the attempt to do so has usually ended in failure, discouragement and even mental breakdown. Meditation, mediumship, astral projection and dreams can give us access to the invisible world but the quality of the revelations we receive depends on our degree of evolution.
Nor is it emptiness or absence; it is plenitude, a fullness comparable to that experienced by two human beings who love each other very deeply and share something that cannot be expressed in words or gestures. Silence is a quality of the inner life'. It is true that for those who do not possess the key to it, it is obscure but for those who do poss-ess the key it is extremely clear.
Once one knows the hidden meaning of the numbers and symbols, all the elements that seem to be totally unrelated can be brought together and used to shed light on each other, and the result is an extraordinarily logical whole'. Human beings come into the world with certain aspira-tions; they need to love and be loved: they need to know, and they need to create. It is the fulfilment of these aspirations that they call happiness. Before they can fulfil their aspirations, however, they need to add something more to the baggage they bring with them; it is not enough to want something in order to obtain it.
Happiness is like a talent that has to be cultivated. If you don't cultivate it, it will never amount to anything. This is why it is essential to have a store of lovely pictures that we can conjure up in our minds often, pictures that are with us day and night, so that our thoughts may be constantly in touch with all that is most elevated, pure and sacred. And what is more beautiful, more poetic or more full of meaning than water and fire, and the different forms in which they appear to us? You can fill your whole life with these pictures, and absorb them until they impregnate every cell of your body.
At that time, no organized form of life was possible on earth, for it was nothing but a seething mass of molten matter constantly racked by volcanic eruptions Nothing solid can be built on such unstable ground, and this means that before they can become a hos-pitable environment for plants, animals and human beings, symbolically speaking, young people have to introduce an element of moderation, control and harmony into their lives. It is this that constitutes the transition from youth to adulthood: the transition from an unorganized, chaotic, unstable life to a life that is rich and full and beneficial both to oneself and to others.
The fact is that one cannot define truth, for it does not exist as such. Only wisdom and love exist It is your love and wisdom that will show you truth. That every external manifestation of religion would disappear. That the time had come to worship God in spirit and in truth. They would feel utterly lost, as though they had nothing to hold on to any more.
Only those who are exceptionally highly evolved are capable of finding within their own soul the sanctuary in which to communicate with the Lord. Of course, such an expansion of consciousness is highly desirable. Those who achieve it are free to work without restrictions to build a future for themselves as sons and daughters of God. We use electricity to light and heat our houses, and power all kinds of machines and appliances, but we have to be very careful of how we handle it, for it is easy to cause an accident.
Direct contact with an electric current can be fatal. In order to harness and use it without danger, we have to channel it through transformers. The same can be said of God: God is like a pure current of electricity which has to pass through transformers before it reaches us. And the transformers that God uses are the countless luminous beings that populate the heavens, known to tradition as the choirs of angels or angelic hierarchies. It is through them that we receive divine life; it is through them that we can be in contact with God.
On September 23rd, the Sun enters the sign of Libra Scales or Balance , and this is the autumn equinox. After the ascending phase, from Aries to Virgo, comes the descending phase, from Libra to Pisces. Libra is the seventh sign on the zodiacal belt. Why, you may wonder, are there scales in the heavens, and what do these scales teach us? This is the only sign of the zodiac that does not represent a living being, human or animal. It is an inanimate object, and not just any object, but an instrument for weighing things.
It is as though its two pans were there to maintain the balance between the powers of darkness and light, of life and death. J Kaph The twenty-two paths and ten sephiroth add up to what is known as the thirty-two 'paths of wisdom.. You will better understand the nature and function of these thirty-two paths if you see that they relate to the thirty-two teeth of a human being.
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The names of the five aspects of each sephirah are given in Hebrew characters alongside the il lustration of the Sephirotic Tree at the end of this volume. We have thirty-two teeth with which to chew our food, and the thirty-two paths can be seen metaphorically as teeth with which we chew the psychic and spiritual nourishment we receive each day. It is by means of such spiritual 'mastication' that we acquire wisdom. To become wise is to chew the experiences we encounter each day so as to extract the nutrients they contain.
The thirty-two paths of wisdom link the ten sephiroth, each of which has five divisions. Thus the Cabbalah speaks of the fifty gates of intelligence or understanding, and these gates are attributed symbolically to the sephirah Binah. But in order to open a gate we need a key, and according to initiatic science the true key is self-knowledge. Initiates can know everything because they know themselves.
In certain ancient paintings-the frescos in the Egyptian tombs, for instance-one often sees an initiate depicted with a kind of key which resembles the symbol for Venus t. As you can see, this symbol represents the simplified figure of a human being, with the head, the outstretched arms, and the two legs joined. The initiates possess the key that enables them to know themselves, and knowing themselves they can know the whole universe; they can open the gates of all regions. Now you will perhaps b e wondering: 'Why ten sephiroth? Is the universe really divided into ten regions?
The Sephirotic Tree is designed to teach neither astronomy nor cosmology. The truth is that no one can say exactly what the universe is or how it was created. The Sephirotic Tree represents a systematic world-view that is mystical in nature, and whose origins can be traced back thousands of years.
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The exceptional beings who conceived it had no telescopes or long distance lenses through which to study the stars. It was through meditation, contemplation, and the intensity of their inner life that they were able to grasp the cosmic reality and render it intelligible with the help of images and symbolic descriptions. And it is the essential elements of this tradition, constantly recaptured and meditated upon throughout the ages, that have been handed down to us.
So, as I say, the Sephirotic Tree is not an exact description of our universe; and this explains the absence of certain planets, the position of the Sun, and so on. But to get back to the ten sephiroth: why ten? Because the number ten represents completeness, an accomplished whole. The word sephirah, as I have already explained, means numeration. All numerical combinations. In the beginning God created ten numbers, the ten sephiroth, and with these ten numbers he can create other numbers, that is, an infinite variety of other beings.
Cabbalists also acknowledge the existence of an eleventh sephirah, Daath, whose name means 'knowledge'. Daath is situated between Kether and Tiphareth, but it is rarely mentioned or shown in representations of the Sephirotic Tree. Now, if you look at a representation of the Sephirotic Tree, you will see that it includes only the powers of good. Those who wish to work towards perfection should study and concentrate only on these. But it is true that the Cabbalah also mentions the kliphoth, the ten sephiroth of darkness, which are the inverted reflection of the divine sephiroth, just as Satan is the inverted reflection of God.
Each of these malevolent sephiroth has its name and its hierarchy of spiritual denizens, but I shall not go into details about them or even mention their names, for I have no wish to link myself to them in any way. Finally, cabbalists speak of yet another region beyond Kether, the region of Ain Soph Aur, limitless light, the region of the Absolute, of the unmanifest God.
The teaching of the Cabbalah sees the universe as an integrated whole, of which the Sephirotic Tree is the perfect expression. Within that whole, however, several different regions can be distinguished. A first division distinguishes four planes. The higher plane is Olam Atziluth, the world of emanations, and it comprises Kether, Chokmah and Binah. Finally, there is Olam Assiah, the world of action, formed by Malkuth alone.
As we see, there is a hierarchy between the world above and the world below, and this hierarchy is reflected in the composition of human beings: Neshamah, the divine plane of soul and spirit, corresponds to Olam Atziluth.
Ruah, the intellect or mental plane, corresponds to Olam Briah. Nephesh, the heart or astral plane, corresponds to Olam Yetzirah. Another way of dividing the Sephirotic Tree is based on the three pillars. On the right, Yakin, the Pillar of Mercy, is a positive, active power, comprising the three sephiroth Chokmah, Chesed, and Netzach. Lastly, the central Pillar, which ensures the balance between left and right, comprises Kether, Daath, Tiphareth, Yesod, and Malkuth. This division expresses the notion that the universe is governed by the two opposing principles of masculine and feminine, attraction and repulsion, love and hate, mercy and severity, and that in order to be reconciled and work together in harmony, they have to meet in the centre.
What will you do with them? When an instructor introduces human beings into the sanctuary of the Deity in this way he is taking on a very grave responsibility, for he knows that not many are capable of understanding and using 5 6. Quite apart from those who will try to use them in the worst kinds of magical practices, there are many who, failing to understand their sacred nature, will imagine that they can stroll among these names as they would stroll through a public park, and juggle with the sephiroth as though they were balls.
You must approach this knowledge with great humility and reverence if you are to gain any real enlightenment from it. It is not enough just to read these figures two or three times and to memorize the names so that you can use them every now and then in your conversations. If it is to become the foundation of some genuine spiritual work, the Sephirotic Tree must be a permanent subject of meditation. Try gradually to assimilate and digest these notions. And you need not be astonished to hear me using terms that apply to the field of nutrition. This constant meditation on the Sephirotic Tree can very aptly be compared with the process of nutrition.
You eat every day in order to remain healthy, and from a great variety of foods you choose a few, which vary from day to day. In the Sephirotic Tree, too, you will find an extraordinary variety of ' foods ' , for it is a reflection of the whole universe. In it you will, of course, find religion and philosophy as well as genuine ethics ; but it also contains the sciences and the arts. It is up. It is perfectly true that many saints and mystics have made great spiritual progress without knowing the Sephirotic Tree, but to know it gives one a clearer view of the work that needs to be done.
It is a method that can accompany you through life. No other picture or representation surpasses the Sephirotic Tree. Use it faithfully, and your thoughts will no longer stray haphazardly; the blessings it brings you will gradually become more and more abundant as you practise and advance along this path. By reverting frequently to the Sephirotic Tree you will be lighting your inner lamps, and those lamps will not only illuminate you, but will also purify and strengthen you; they will also make you more beautiful and alive. It may well be that you will never fully understand this symbol.
It is even more likely that you will never succeed in realizing all the virtues and powers it represents , but it will always be there as the representation of an ideal world that is leading you continually to greater heights. Hayoth is the plural of haya which means life. At the beginning of the Book of Ezekiel in the Old Testament there is a description of the four Holy Living Creatures, which is very similar to the one given by St John in the Book of Revelations: At once I was in the spirit, and there in heaven stood a throne, with one seated on the throne.
Around the throne, and on each side of the throne, are four living creatures full of eyes in front and behind: the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with a face like a human face, and the fourth living creature like a. Angels and other Mysteries.
And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and inside. Day or n ight without ceasing they sing, 'Holy, holy, holy, the Lord God the Almighty, who was and is and is to come! The four Holy Living Creatures before the throne of God represent the four principles of matter, the four elements. The lion represents fire; the ox, earth; the man, air, and the eagle, water. Matter has its roots, therefore, in God, in the sephirah Kether, and the Seraphim are the angels of the four elements.
But on this plane, the purity of matter is such that it is almost the same substance as the spirit. The Seraphim are the first to receive the divine emanations. Immersed as they are in the ocean of primal matter still in a state of turmoil, they drink at the source of light, the source of love.
This is their only nourishment, the contemplation of the Lord, and this is wp-y they are represented as having eyes over the whole of their bodies. The Seraphim are the most perfect manifestation of love, for true love is contemplation. Actually, there are other expressions of love in the Sephirotic Tree. Chesed Jupiter , for instance, represents the love of the community, and Netzach Venus , love of a creature.
Unfortunately, it has been used so often in speaking of men and women who have manifested a certain degree of patience, kindness, or compassion that it has lost its true meaning. If we want to understand what holiness is we have to refer to the Slavic languages. In Bulgarian, for instance, the words holy svet and holiness svetost have the same root as the word for light svetlina. Thus holiness is a quality of light. In this sense one can say that only God is truly holy, because he is pure light.
This is what the Seraphim are saying, and this is why the word holiness is an integral part of their name: Hayoth HaKadesh, creatures of holiness or Holy Living Creatures. The head of the angelic order of the Seraphim is Metatron, the Prince of the Face. As his name indicates, Metatron is the only creature who can see God face to face, and it was he who spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai.
No human being, however exalted, can b e i n direct contact with God, for God i s a consuming fire that would immediately reduce. Human beings always need an intermediary who can speak to them on behalf of God. Even though the Bible says that God spoke to Abraham, Moses, Jacob, or one of the other prophets, in reality it was not God who spoke to them, but a messenger. And this is precisely the meaning of the word ' angel ' : messenger or emissary. The prophet Ezekiel describes his vision of the 'tall and awesome' Wheels that accompanied the living creatures: When the living creatures moved, the wheels moved beside them; and when the living creatures rose from the earth, the wheels rose.
Wherever the spirit would go, they went, and the wheels rose along with them; for the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels. When they moved, the others moved; and when they stopped, the others stopped; and when they rose from the earth, the wheels rose along with them; for the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels. The Holy Living Creatures obey the commands of the spirit and communicate movement to the Wheels. The symbolism of a wheel a perfect circle in motion reveals the special function of the. Cherubim, which is to stir up and organize primeval matter-symbolized by the holy creatures-so that it becomes fit to serve God' s purpose.
This is why the world of the Ophanim is said to be the region of the music of the spheres here, too, we find the idea of a circle or wheel. In this context, of course, music must be understood as meaning more than an arrangement of sounds created by human beings and perceptible to human ears. The term ' music of the spheres ' expresses primarily the harmony that unites all the elements of the universe in a concordance founded on the correlation of numbers.
Harmony is above all a structure, and it is when this structure descends to the material plane that it becomes a creator of forms. In this sense harmony is the expression of reason, of wisdom; this is why harmony is also identified with the Logos, the divine Word. There can be no harmony, no music, without reason and wisdom.
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The divine Word, music, and wisdom are one and the same thing. Unfortunately, I have to admit that very few of those who create or interpret music are capable of living musically. Music, true music, is not that which is produced by instruments or voices, but that which is expressed in harmonious thoughts, feelings, and gestures in. This is the music ofChokmah. At the head of the order of the Ophanim is the archangel Raziel. According to tradition it was Raziel who gave Adam a book, the Sepher Yetzirah, which revealed the secrets of creation to him.
When Adam committed the first fault, however, this book was taken from him. The angels of Binah are the Thrones. Their name in Hebrew, Aralim, means Lions. In Revelations St John associates the presence of the Thrones with that of the Holy Living Creatures, the Seraphim: Around the throne are twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones are twenty four elders dressed in white robes, with golden crowns on their heads.
Around the throne, and on each side of the throne, are four living creatures full of eyes in front and behind. In another passage the Twenty-four Elders address the Lord thus: We give you thanks, Lord God Almighty, who are and who were and who are to come, for you have taken your great power and begun to reign. The nations raged, but your wrath has come, and the time for judging the dead, for rewarding your servants the prophets and saints.
In attributing the name Thrones to the angels of Binah, the Christian religion emphasizes the notion of stability, whereas the Hebrew name Aralim, Lions, introduces the notion of judgement. Symbolically, the lion is related to justice; the Lion of Juda represents the supreme judge.
The Twenty-four Elders are the lords of destiny: no single thought, sentiment, or action of man or woman is hidden from them. It is they who dispense all punishments and rewards; they who decree the conditions in which each individual must reincarnate. While the Seraphim sing the holiness of God, the Twenty-four Elders fall down before him and worship him, saying: 'You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honour and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.
They, too, render justice to God by asserting that he alone is worthy. At the head of the Aralim is the archangel. Thus the Seraphim, the Cherubim, and the Thrones are the three angelic orders that belong to the supreme triad composed of Kether, Chokmah, and Binah, and it is because of their exalted position that it is they who are most often mentioned in holy scripture. These three orders have in common the fact that they express power, and we identify their action with the qualities of the sephiroth in which they dwell.
The Dominations, the angels o f Chesed mercy , pour out their blessings under the direction of the archangel Tzadkiel, whose name means 'God is my justice. Their work, which is to restore order wherever it is in danger in the universe, can be compared with that of the human organism as it strives to rid itself of wastes and toxins. The Virtues, the angels of Tiphareth beauty , are led by the archangel Mikhael. These are the Malakhim, the angels that are.
The Elohim, under the leadership of Haniel Grace of God , represent the entities that created the world, as related in Genesis: 'Bereshith in the beginning bara created Elohim the gods eth-ha-shamaim heaven ve eth ha-aretz and the earth. An architect' s work is to draw up the plans of a building; the realization of the building itself is entrusted to the building contractors and masons. The Elohim are the contractors who built the universe. The Bnei Elohim are the bearers of fire. They are under the leadership of the archangel Raphael, whose name means Healing of God.
The Kerubim are the bearers of pure life. It is they who are in touch with human beings more often than the other angelic orders simply. At their head is the archangel Gabriel, 'God is my strength'. Finally we come to the [shim, which the Cabbalah places in the tenth sephirah, Malkuth, even though they are not, properly speaking, one of the angelic orders.
The [shim are the saints, prophets, initiates, and great masters of all religions; all those who, by their words and the example of their lives, have led human beings along the path of light. They represent the brotherhood of exalted souls known to Christians as the communion of saints. These are beings who came to earth in order to instruct and help human beings, and it is to them that we should tum first of all, for it is thanks to them, to their teaching and their desire to help us and contribute to our evolution, that we have the ability to rise higher on the scale of created beings.
According to the Cabbalah, the leader of the [shim is Sandalfon, or Uriel. The Seraphim, Cherubim, and Thrones are in direct contact with God. It is through them that the Dominations, Powers, and Virtues receive the divine emanations, which they in tum transmit to human beings, and, below them, to animals, vegetation, and minerals. The Seraphim are the spirits of divine love. The Cherubim are the spirits of divine wisdom. The Thrones are the spirits of divine power. The Dominations, Powers, and Virtues are a first reflection of that divine love, wisdom, and power.
Below them, the Principalities, Archangels, and Angels are a second reflection. And it is up to us now to make the effort to become the third reflection of that divine perfection by learning to work with all the love of our hearts, all the light of our minds, and all the strength of our wills. When you wake up in the morning, why not start your day by thinking of all those creatures of light going up and down between the earth and the throne of God? If you did this, your whole day would be illuminated. Think of them, link yourself to them, contemplate them in your heart and soul, and say their names.
When you are in a crowd and you call somebody' s name, they hear you and turn to look at you. This is exactly what happens with the entities of the invisible world: if you call their name, they tum and look at you, and in this way you can make contact with them. By becoming more and more aware of the reality of these higher entities, you become gradually imbued with their virtues, constantly more alive and luminous; your inner world is progressively enriched.
At the same time, however, you must continue to be very. Begin by trying to make contact with the saints and initiates, with the great spiritual masters who have been entrusted with the care of humanity. Later you can rise to a higher plane and try to get in touch with the angels, for the angels are nearer to human beings than any of the other angelic orders, and are always ready to listen to them and help them and to answer their prayers.
You can also try to invoke the archangels. But to try and make yourself heard by the Principalities and the higher ranks of the angelic hierarchies is useless. There are innumerable worlds in infinite space, all of them inhabited by billions of creatures, and the higher echelons, who have many different tasks in remote areas of the universe, are not in touch with human beings. Those who are more particularly entrusted with the care of human beings are, as I say, the saints, initiates, and great masters: those who have once lived on earth and who, having left it, remember and continue to be attached to human beings; those who still have promises to keep.
Disciples need to know of the existence of the higher angelic orders, and they are free to invoke them, but they must understand that if they want their prayers and meditations to show results, they must address entities that are not so far away. I am obliged to explain this to you s o that you do not delude yourselves and think that you can immediately have access to the Thrones, the Cherubim, or the Seraphim.
No, the path to these higher echelons is very, very long. You are not ready for it yet. On the other hand, you must keep it always in view, for only the angelic hierarchies can give you elements of the higher worlds with which to nourish your soul and spirit. This is the only way to fulfil the precept Jesus gave us: 'Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Perfection requires a knowledge of these hierarchies, and the will to work with them. The Angels will give you pure life. The Archangels will give you the sacred fire. The Principalities will enable you to build and organize your inner world. The Powers will give you the courage and audacity you need to defend your ideal.
The Dominations will give you generosity and mercy. The Thrones will give you stability and the understanding of the mysteries. The Cherubim will give you wisdom and harmony. The Seraphim will give you love, the love that surpasses all knowledge, the love that is fulfilment and total freedom.
But how can I dare to speak about these entities, before whom it behoves us only to bow in reverent silence? I do so in order to inspire you with the desire to reject the ease of a prosaic, unconscious existence. A person who does not know that these sublime regions exist can be content with a mediocre life.
But those who know of their existence sense that all the worthless things most people value so highly are as nothing compared to what exists in this sublime world. Yes, even the most splendid achievements of science, art, and philosophy pale in comparison. We need, at the very least, to know of the existence of these regions inhabited by perfect beings before we can begin to understand how important it is to draw closer to them.
If you do not begin this work while you are here on earth, you will not be able to go on with it in the next world. You have to begin by blazing the trail in this world if you want to advance in the next. The fact that human beings are incarnated on earth gives them a certain superiority over all angels, even the most exalted, and their task is to draw down the virtues of the angelic hierarchies into their physical body so that, one day, it may become the temple of the Deity.
Only then will they achieve fulfilment. Human beings are still at the first stages of their development; this is. They know that they are destined for a glorious future. It has even been said that the angels envy human beings! So take heart, for one day the whole of creation will sing a hymn of praise to mankind. Ehieh When God gave Moses the nusslon of freeing the Hebrews from the yoke of the Egyptians, Moses replied: 'If I come to the Israelites and say to them, "The God of your ancestors has sent me to you," and they ask me, "What is his name? And God added: 'Thus you shall say to the Israelites: "I shall be" has sent me to you.
He is the being of sublime becoming, he whom we can neither see, nor hear, nor touch. When it occurs in a biblical text that they are reading aloud, they substitute the word Adonai, meaning the Lord. According to tradition, only the high priest was authorized to pronounce this name, once a year, in the Holy of holies in the Temple. The word Tzebaoth means armies. Thus Jehovah Tzebaoth means God of Armies, but the armies in question are not terrestrial : they are the angelic hierarchies.
In Chokmah, God is called Yah, which is 2 written: Yod Heh, ;, " , and which is thus an abbreviation of the Tetragrammaton. These are the celestial armies composed of the choirs of angels arid the stars that proclaim his glory. From the beginning of time the notion of a mountain or summit has been associated with the Deity.
It is because God is at the summit that he is almighty. Adonai, as we have seen, means Lord, and Melek means King. We find the word Melek in the name Melchizedek, which means King of Justice, and in the name of this sephirah, Malkuth, which means Kingdom. Once again, I wish to emphasize the fact that all these different names represent different aspects of the one God, and that no one aspect. The goal of a spiritual quest is often symbolized by certain objects that are said to be acquired by an initiate in the course of prolonged labours and lengthy travail.
A magic wand, the elixir of everlasting life, the universal panacea, the magic mirror, and the philosophers' stone, all of which are found in certain folk traditions, are symbols of the faculties and powers developed or acquired by an initiate. Are they material possessions? Sometimes they are, but that is not what matters.
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What matters is that an initiate must seek to possess and work with them as qualities and virtues. These five symbols have certain correspon dences with the sephiroth of the central pillar of the Sephirotic Tree. The magic wand corresponds to Kether; the magic mirror to Daath ; the universal panacea to Tiphareth; the elixir of everlasting life to Yesod, and the. You will ask: 'How can we possess these riches? What work is required of us?
When you regenerate the cells of your body by the purity of your life, you are working with the elixir of everlasting life Yesod.
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When you try to communicate light and love to other human beings, you are working with the universal panacea Tiphareth. When you do this, all those around you begin to feel better: their aches and pains leave them, their cares evaporate, and their courage is renewed. This is the effect that certain very good doctors have: their mere presence eases the sufferings of the sick.
When you habitually focus your thoughts on very exalted realities, you receive messages from space, as though the objects and beings you think about were reflected in a mirror Daath. When you are truly capable of self-mastery, you begin to gain possession of the magic wand that makes you all-powerful Kether. Never forget that you cannot have control over what is. There are other symbols in addition to these, and they correspond to the six other sephiroth.
The symbol that corresponds to Hod Mercury is a book. That for Netzach Venus is a rose. Because of its scent this is the most precious of all flowers, for spiritual entities are always attracted to a subtle perfume. The symbol corresponding to Geburah Mars is a sword. In order to defend others and oneself from the onslaughts of evil, a sword, symbolically speaking, is indispensable. The symbol associated with Chesed Jupiter is a crown or tiara, symbol of royalty and of priesthood. To Binah Saturn is attributed the skeleton with a sickle, symbol of time and eternity. I The symbol for Chokmah Uranus is a wheel or an eye, the all-seeing eye.
It is up to you now to penetrate the deeper meaning of these symbols, and to work to bring them to life within yourselves. If you tried to possess them outwardly, it would probably be in vain; not only would you be wasting your time, but you would be endangering your psychic balance. A symbol must be used only in its proper context, that is, for your own spiritual life, otherwise it can lead to situations I. For instance, people talk of the philosophers' stone, which transmutes metals into gold, but they remain poor.
They talk of the elixir of everlasting life and the universal panacea, but they are always ill. They talk of magic mirrors and magic wands they even possess them, for they can easily be bought , but they are still blind and powerless. So what do all these things amount to? It is within yourself that you must find the philosophers' stone, the elixir of everlasting life, the universal panacea, the magic mirror and magic wand.
And you will find them by learning to work with the sephiroth: Malkuth, Yesod, Tiphareth, Daath, and Kether. When we open our window in the morning and get a glimpse of the sun, we are happy to see its light, feel its warmth, and let the life that pours from it soak into us. But if we could rise above the earth and go much closer to the sun, we might find something dark and obscure that would not make us happy at alluite the contrary.
There is a mystery here that needs to be considered more closely, for all those who have reached great heights in their quest for light have had an analogous experience. In fact, many have never been seen again, for when one has reached such heights one cannot return to earth. A moth is consumed by the flame of the lamp that attracts it. Those who have ventured to make contact with the Absolute have disappeared, dissolved by the force of its vibrations.
This is why it is said that Kether, the highest sephirah, absorbs or pulverizes those who reach it. This i s the meaning of the Old Testament stories of the disappearance of Enoch, who 'walked with God; then he was no more, for God took him,' and of Elij ah, who was carried off by a chariot of fire and horses of fire, and 'ascended in a whirlwind into heaven. Does this seem terrifying? No, to be absorbed by light, to melt away in that region that can be identified neither as light nor darkness, is the experience that all initiates long for above all others.
In ancient Egypt, when a disciple attained the highest degree of initiation, the high priest whispered in his ear: 'Osiris is a dark god. Osiris is darkness, three times darkness. The disciple was troubled by this, for darkness symbolizes evil and the unknowable. What bitterness to have sought light, to have run the full course, only to find that it ends in darkness!
But the reality is that Osiris is so luminous that he seems dark. He is the light beyond light. Why do we speak: of a 'blinding light'? There seems to be a contradiction here, but it is only apparent. On the physical plane, we do not say that something is light unless we can see it with our eyes. That which our eyes cannot see we call shadow or night, and even compared with certain animals that have night.
If nothing in your previous experience has prepared you to understand the thought of a very great philosopher or scientist, however much light it may shed on certain questions, many things will remain obscure for you. In fact, the more luminous their thought, the more obscure it will seem to those who are incapable of understanding it.
In this context, the words ' darkness' and 'obscurity' are not intended to define an objective reality: only to express our inability to grasp it mentally. Whereas what we call light corresponds to a reality that is more accessible. This is why we can say that, for us, light always emerges from darkness. This means that we shall never know whether darkness is truly dark, or whether it simply appears as darkness to us because of our inability to see.
How can we know whether darkness is a reality or not? The initiates can help us to understand this: in their desire to instruct human beings in the mysteries of God and of creation, they teach that light is born of darkness. In the beginning of the Book of Genesis, for instance, it says: 'The earth was a formless void, and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.
Then God said, "Let there be light;" and there was light. The world o f the ten sephiroth that we are studying is the world of manifestation, the world as it has been from the moment God said: 'Let there be light. The region of Ain Soph Aur is like a veil that cannot be penetrated by human beings. It is the absolute, the unmanifest, of which we can have no notion, and of which Kether, God the Father, is an emanation.
The Deity, as conceived by the cabbalists, is beyond light and darkness, beyond the created worlds. In an attempt to express the mystery of the Godhead even more clearly, they conceived the notion of a region beyond A in Soph Aur, which they called Ain Soph, Unlimited; and beyond that again, a region called Ain, Un, or negation.
Thus at the origin of the universe there is a negation. But the Un that denotes absence or lack does not mean non-existence. Ain is not the absolute nothingness that some see in the Nirvana of Hinduism. It is, in fact, the exact opposite. A in Soph Aur, like Nirvana, is not non-existence, not annihilation, but life beyond creation, beyond manifestation-so far beyond that it seems to us to be non-existence.
There is really nothing we can say about the Absolute. But try to hold on to these notions and thank God, your heavenly Father, for them. For the Father loves you, and works in your heart, and helps you to grow, and these words can, after all, help you to have some sense, however slight, of these realities. Ask heaven for the light you need to penetrate these mysteries.
All I can do is point you in the right direction. Does this mean that no light existed before that? And how could the divine Word create light? Once more, the Tree of Life can help us to understand. Before God said, 'Let there be light,' the reality that we call light existed only in a form that was inconceivable to us: that which is known as Ain Soph Aur.
Also, the 'Word' of God has no connection with what we understand by a word. It is simply a way of expressing the notion that, in order to create, God projected something from himself. What he projected was himself, but a new form of himself: that which we call light. To say that God ' spoke' means that he willed to manifest himself. You are probably thinking that this is. Not really. Let me illustrate it with an example from everyday life. Let us say that you have an idea. Yes, but where is that idea? Can you place it? Can you see it or find it in a particular spot in your brain?
And you also have to admit that you do not know exactly what kind of matter it is made of. But as soon as you express that idea in words its existence becomes perceptible. And when you eventually put your idea into effect it is actualized and can be perceived. A word is the intermediary between the plane of thought and that of material reality. And this gives you an idea of the process of creation.
Now, if we put this phrase from Genesis, ' In the beginning. God said, "Let there be light",' side by side with the opening words of St John' s Gospel, 'In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God,' it will help us to understand better the relationship between the Word and light. Light is the substance that the divine Word, the first-born of God, brought forth to serve as the matter of creation.
You will say that when you look at stones, plants, animals, and even human beings you cannot see that they are made of light. True, but that is because the light they are made of has been condensed to such a degree that it has become opaque. The very fact that we generally envisage light as.
The Cabbalah teaches that God created the world by a process of successive conden sations. In order to emerge from that immensity, that unfathomable abyss, that infinite space in which he dwelt, A in Soph Aur, the Absolute, the Unknowable, imposed limits on himself, and then, overflowing those limits, he formed a receptacle, which he filled with his emanations. This receptacle is Kether, the first sephirah. Kether is the first manifestation of A in Soph Aur, the unmanifest. Thus one can say that the whole of creation is simply a successive process of the original light pouring out and overflowing from one vessel to the next.
Kether overflows and forms Chokmah; Chokmah is, as it were, a vessel filled with the waters of Kether. And as the divine emanation works its way downwards to form new worlds, it becomes more and more dense. But it is always the same quintessence that ceaselessly creates new forces, new colours, new melodies, new forms. From emanation to emanation God created the. In him was life, and the life was the light of all people. Ain Soph Aur received it from A in Soph, and A in Soph received it from A in, the absence that was awaiting the moment to become presence.
There is, therefore, an unbroken association between the Absolute and the manifest God, and it is thus that something new is continually being introduced into the universe. The universe is a continuous creation, the matter of which constantly increases and is transformed. How is this relationship between the Absolute and God established? We do not know. Indeed, may God forgive me for intruding into such questions, for we must have the courage to confess that nobody knows anything about this.
Why talk about it then? Because, insofar as we are created in the image of God, in the image of the universe, something in us that is beyond the realm of consciousness can grasp some tiny particles of this reality. Life is simply a decantation of energies. This is why we find in the cabbalistic tradition the image of the river of life that flows from the. From Kether to Malkuth, the sephiroth are sacred vessels filled by the inexhaustible source of life. Two complementary images, that of a tree and that of a river, illustrate the outpouring and flow of life.
You will say that the roots of a tree are down below, whereas the source of a river is up above. Yes, in our material world the roots of trees are in the ground, but the roots of the cosmic tree are in the world above. I Now, let us take the image of a river, bearing in mind that it is no more than that: an image that illustrates one aspect of reality. But as reality itself is far more complex, we need to introduce other elements in order to understand it.
Since the sephiroth are situated on three pillars, it follows that the river of life does not flow in a straight line from top to bottom. As we have seen, on each side of the central pillar are the Pillar of Mercy, polarized positively, and the Pillar of Severity, polarized negatively. As it flows from one sephirah to the next, therefore, the polarization of the divine emanation changes, and the sephiroth, following on one from another, appear to be in I.
Chokmah, for example, which represents harmony and universal love, is followed by Binah, which represents the implacable rigour of divine decrees. Following on the intransigence of Binah, comes the clemency of Chesed, followed in turn by the martial audacity of Geburah, and so on. And as each sephirah corresponds to a divine attribute, a divine virtue, the adjectives used to describe God are not only very different, but they also seem to be contradictory: merciful and terrible, tender and jealous, faithful and vengeful, and so on. All these epithets express the starkly opposite character of the two pillars.
When God wants to descend into our world, he has to clothe himself just as we do. And to clothe oneself means to descend to the material plane. But as God does not want to assume all the limitations of a physical body in order to be with us, he invites us to his own home.
And his home is also ours. Yes, our home is immense, infinitely bigger than we imagine. Our home is the universe that God fills, impregnates, and sustains with his presence, and it is by journeying through that universe that we can be with God. When I speak. It is a question of using all the means that the Creator has given us in order to study it of using our physical sense organs, of course, but also, and especially, the organs of our spiritual senses, our soul and spirit.
This is the only way to meet. He will not descend any further to be with us. He has already imposed the limits of creation on himself. He will not limit himself more than this. You will be thinking: 'But God is absolutely free. What does it mean to say that he has limited himself? It is this Trinity which the Cabbalah situates on the plane of emanations, Atziluth that created and continues to be present in the world. The first sephirah, Kether, represents the beginning of all manifestation and is thus identified with the Father. And Kether engenders Chokmah. What is Chokmah? It is the Logos, the divine Word, an energy that is condensed and organized in order to become the matter of creation.
This is why St John wrote: 'In the beginning was the Word. And now that you have the letters of your alphabet, you can juggle with them and organize them to form words I. This third phase is Binah, primordial matter. Primordial matter must be understood to mean essences, not the material elements that are familiar to us and the objects of scientific study.
This primordial substance that comes from Chokmah is differentiated in Binah, and it is only after a very lengthy process of condensation that it begins to appear on the physical plane in the form of the elements that we call oxygen, hydrogen, iron, zinc, and so on. The elements of the Logos-letters and numbers-grouped into sentences are the archetypes of material bodies, and their properties are fixed and unchangeable.
The sephirah Kether is beyond time and space. Space first appears with Chokmah and is represented on the material plane by Mazloth, the zodiac ; time first appears with Binah, in the form of Shabbathai, Saturn. When God-that i s , the Trinity o f Kether Chokmah-Binah-withdraws, there will be no more time or space and the universe will disappear. When the sacrifice implicit in God's 2 There i s n o written fonn for numbers i n Hebrew, but the letters of the alphabet have numerical value, thus, M aleph I, :l bet.
Nothing is eternal except God himself, and one day the whole of creation will go back into God. But what exactly do we mean by this word 'creation'? If you consider that it refers to the primordial matter that emanated from God, then the elements that constitute this matter are indestructible: they remain forever in God and it is with them that he will always be able to engender new worlds. But if you say that 'creation' means the worlds that God formed out of those elements, then it is not eternal.
All that is born must die. Eternity is not a succession of centuries. It is very difficult to define such a notion, but you might say that eternity is, as it were, a quality of matter, a fusion of matter and spirit. When we experience eternity, it is as a sensation that we experience it. And if it is possible for us to have a sensation of eternity-if only for a few seconds-it is because we have entered a higher order of being, we have been projected into a world in which matter is animated by the most intense vibrations of the spirit.
Primordial matter is the substance that God projected from himself and condensed. It alone is indestructible and eternal. It is with this. It is in this sense that we can say that creation will come to an end. When he expressed himself in this way, Jesus was identifying with the second person of the Trinity, the Son, the second sephirah, Chokmah, the Logos.
Heaven and earth will pass away, that is true, but the seeds that are in Chokmah are the archetypes for a new heaven and a new earth, and they will not pass away, for they are eternal. What was this circle? It was the boundary, the outer limits drawn by God when he created the world. It is in this sense that we can say that God limited himself. To limit oneself means to enclose oneself in a universe that functions and evolves according to its own laws.
We do not know what exists outside or beyond those limits. The laws of life studied by science are simply the limits that God imposed upon himself in his creation. It is these limits that give structure, form, shape, and cohesion to matter. A world that was not circumscribed by limits would be unstable.
It could not endure, for all the matter within those.
God drew a circle in order to restrain his own substance. The circle is a magical outline. In the centre of this circle God placed the seed of creation, and his work began. Everything in nature reveals the way in which God created the world. A single cell with its surrounding membrane tells us the whole story. If our skull did not exist, where would our brain be? And the skin, too, serves as a limit; this is its function. Observe the things around you: wherever you look you will see a reflection of the circle that God drew in order to circumscribe his creation.
If you do not put perfume in a closed bottle it evaporates. And the same goes for a house: you have to begin by fixing the outer perimeter. If there were no outside walls where would your house be? Even in the spiritual domain we have to understand how this question of limits applies. A magus draws a circle round himself before convoking spirits of light to help him in his work; and all disciples should know that, if only through thought, they must draw a circle of light around themselves so as to preserve their spiritual energies.
God exists in all aspects of creation, from the stones-in which he is most severely restricted and in which we can even touch. He is omnipresent: in stones, plants, animals, human beings, the angels, and all the celestial hierarchies. His members are deeply embedded in every area of creation, but in some regions he is freer than in others. In the denser forms of matter he is not free to move, but in his kingdom he is free. If you understand this, many windows will open before you to reveal glorious horizons. God is free, yes, but he is free only outside our world.
Once he enters our world he finds himself restricted. This is why, when people are scandalized by certain events and cry out against God, saying that he should not allow such things, it shows that they simply do not understand. If they possessed true knowledge, they would realize that God cannot intervene.
God' s freedom of action on earth is limited; and it is we who limit it. God is free and at the same time he is not free; he is not free in our hearts, but he is free in the hearts of the angels. Let me illustrate this. Imagine someone who amuses himself by cementing one of his feet to the ground: he will be unable to move that foot, but all the rest of his body will be free. S imilarly, God allows himself to be imprisoned in the cement of humanity, but only partially. The day God frees himself completely and withdraws his foot from the cement, there.
This is only an image, of course, but it can help you to understand better the reality of things. In order to manifest himself, God is willing to restrict himself. We can go even further: we can say that it is thanks to that restriction that we exist and are able to think of him and talk about him.
It is God himself who gives us this possibility. The proof that God exists is the fact that I am here talking to you about him, and that you are there listening to me. If he did not exist, I should not exist, and neither would you. Everything that exists is proof of the existence of God. Of course, if people prefer to have a different idea of God, so as to be able to say that he does not exist--or that he is dead-well that is their business. Jesus said: ' You are the temple of the living God. As we rise gradually to a higher plane and become progressively purer, we gradually liberate God and make it possible for him to manifest himself more freely in our temple, in the form of power, light, love, and beauty.
Of course, all these ideas are difficult to grasp, and you will soon forget them again, I know. But some trace of them will remain in. If you want to accelerate this process of understanding, you must train your brain, which is the best of instruments. It does not deteriorate at the same rate as your other organs because the divine hierarchies have placed their powers in it, but it needs to be exercised by the activity of thought. Thought is a kind of ladder that we have received from cosmic intelligence, and it is essential to learn to use it to rise to greater heights.
To say that God is absolutely unknowable is false. A being whose works can be contemplated night and day is not wholly unknowable. The universe created by God exists and is at least partly accessible to our five senses and our faculties of thought, and this means that God, too, is partly accessible to us.
True, beyond Kether God is totally out of our reach, but with Kether we enter a region in which it is possible for us to grasp certain notions. Kether, the first sephirah, represents the beginning of all manifestation, and manifes tation implies division and polarization, the appearance, that is, of the masculine and feminine principles necessary for creation. Perhaps the image of a seed will help to understand this idea. As long as a seed has not 'manifested' itself, we cannot know anything.
The life within i t i s immobile. But if you plant it and water it, it divides and produces a tiny shoot which grows into a stem and appears above ground. Only then can you begin to know it. God has left clues, traces of himself, throughout nature for our instruction. If God, the undivided, unpolarized Absolute who contains all that is, had not become polarized in order to manifest himself, we would not exist, and would not, therefore, know anything about him, j ust as we know nothing about a seed until it sprouts, until it is polarized.
The image of the seed is precisely the one Jesus uses in the parable: The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches. The kingdom of God is the universe, of which the Sephirotic Tree, or Tree of Life, is one of its most profound symbolic representa tions. The sower plants the seed in the ground, and this is the first sephirah, Kether. The life process cannot start until the seed is planted.
Once in the ground, the seed divides, that is, it polarizes and produces Chokmah, Wisdom, duality, the opposition of positive and negative, of higher and lower. The forces dormant in the Crown Kether begin to divide and oppose one another. And this explains why those who cannot understand duality, oppositions, good and evil, cannot understand wisdom.
In reality these forces are not completely separated; they are still linked by the Crown, which tells them: 'You are masculine and feminine, positive and negative, and you must now unite and go and work together in the world. As commanded by the Crown, Binah reconciles the contradictory forces, and the seed sprouts.
Kether, Chokmah, and Binah are the roots planted in the soil of the higher world. You will say that the roots of a plant are supposed to be down below, in the ground. Yes, but this is because the roots of a plant represent the head. The true head is above. Human beings, too, are trees whose roots are planted in the world above, in heaven. Our true head, just like Kether, Chokmah, and Binah, is buried in the soil of the divine world.
Now, in order for the plant to appear above ground, the intervention of the fourth se-. Chesed represents the trunk of the tree, the force that stands up against every adversity. The fifth sephirah-Geburah Strength corresponds to the branches that begin to spread in all directions.