The Monistic Theory
by Nhân Tử Nguyễn Văn Thọ
Preface | Chapters:
10 11 12
The Kabbalah and the Monistic Theory
The Kabbalah has
refers to the Jewish mystical tradition which has emphasized prayer and
study of esoteric commentaries on the Torah (Pentateuch) and other
refers to the spread of Kabbalistic teachings and symbols into Christian
circles during the Renaissance (14th century and later).
implies the magical/occult use of the Kabbalah, beginning in the
But today, these
words are used indifferently in Encyclopedias and books.
Sources and influences
main source of the Kabbalah was the doctrine and literature of the
Jewish Tradition, mainly the Torah. But a wide variety of other sources
has been noted, showing the impact of the various cultures with which
the Jewish people have come in contact in their dispersion. Among these
influences, should be included some Persian elements, both Parsi and
Zoroastrian, Neo-Platonist and Neo-Pythagorian elements, Hermetic,
Christian and Monistic themes, and even borrowings from Muslim
sectarianism after the emergence of Islam.
speaking, mystical experience lies at the root of the Kabbalah. Mystic
Jews, throughout history, had independently discovered eternal truths.
Their findings, when compared with those discovered by other mystics of
other cultures, presented striking similarities. That led people to
think about mutual borrowings. This is a very misleading view. A
comparative study of the Yi-Ching and of the Kabballah, for instance,
will show striking similarities. But one cannot conclude that there are
mutual borrowings between these two currents of thought. A similar
phenomenon happened in other fields. For instance, we find in science,
the case of Russell Wallace (1823-1913) whose independent discovery of
Natural Selection spurred Darwin (1809-1882) to publish his work.
Crystallization of the Kabbalah, its evolution and its
crystallization of the Kabbalah took place in the 13th century when
Sefer Ha-Bahir appeared, and a number of Spanish personalities,
philosophers and commentators lent their intellectual weight and fame to
mysticism, men like Nahmanides (Moses Ben Nahman or Ramban), Abraham
Abulafia, Joseph Gikatilla and Moses de Leon. The teachings of the
Kabbalah spread to Germany where Rabbi Judah Hasid was especially
important, and reached their culmination during the 16th century in
Palestine in the city of Safed, where Rabbi Isaac Luria created a new
system of Jewish mysticism. The period of the 14th to 17th centuries may
be looked upon as the aftermath of Kabbalistic creativeness; in addition
to the personalities already mentioned, one must also name R. Isaiah
Horwitz (Shelah Ha-Kadosh).
The basic works
of the Kabbalah are the Sepher Yetzirah (The Book of Formation), and the
Sepher Ha Zohar (The Book of Splendor). The dates of the writing of
these books are by no means thoroughly established. Some Kabbalists
claim that the Sepher Yetzirah was written by Abraham. But it was
probably written by the Rabbi Akiba in A.D. 120. The Sepher Ha Zohar,
presumably written by Simeon Ben Jochai of the second century, has been
compiled by Moses de Leon of Spain about A.D. 1305.
Teachings of the Kabbalah
The Kabbalah is
known for its obscurity, its secrecy, its enticing air of mystery. But
we know that it has two main characteristics:
1. As philosophy,
it professes the monistic theory combined with the emanation theory.
2. As religion,
it profess a mystic way of life, the final goal of it being the union
From these two
features, we can deduce almost all the main tenets of the Kabbalah.
A priori, we have
already the following guide-posts:
1. An ineffable
Godhead is the Principle of everything in this universe.
2. This Godhead,
as Center, emanates the world.
3. The emanation
process is performed in successive steps, and is governed by eternal and
immutable laws. The building materials of the world are classified
according to their densities: fire, air, water, earth...
4. Everything in
this world, is intimately interconnected, interrelated to form an
organic whole, with the Godhead as Center or Head. In other words, all
the various phenomena of the universe form an underlying unity: all
things are parts of an organized whole. There are secret laws which
govern the universe and hidden connections between things which do not
appear to be linked on the surface. The building materials of all
things, as well as the different directions of the space which serve as
theaters of change, are represented by the 10 numbers, called the 10
Sephiroths. The 10 numbers or Sephiroths also stand for immutable laws
presiding all changes. They represent all the attributes of God and all
the moral qualities of man. Letters stand for all the connections
between things in the universe, for all the paths between the 10 numbers
or Sephiroths. Letters and numbers provide a key to the pattern of the
universe, because they give rise to innumerable different combinations
and permutations resulting in words and languages: They are then images
of the innumerable phenomena of the world which are produced by the
combination and the permutation of few fundamental building blocks, and
by their interactions. Numbers and letters in the hand of man, and
building blocks in the universe are similarly used as instruments to
evolve complexity from an underlying simplicity, the many from the One.
5. The process of
change in the world is effected in two opposite directions - flux and
reflux - to form a cycle: Everything comes out from the principle and
returns finally to it.
6. God is
transcendent (Ein-Sof) and at the same time immanent (Kether) in the
7. A mystic, if
he realizes the presence of God in his heart, can be united to God. He
can find his way to go back to the hidden Godhead.
8. The final aim
for life for a mystic is to be united to God.
9. This is also
the glorious destiny of the whole mankind, although for many, it can be
realized only after many successive lives. This is the Theory of
The Kabbalah as a Monistic Theory of the Universe
Judaism, as well as other prophetic religions in the world, is basically
dualistic (God, the Transcendent Creator, the "wholly other",
over against his creation), the Kabbalah, as well as all the other
mystic brands in the world is monistically inclined (the essential unity
of man with God, or of all beings, as such, with God.)
The Zohar was
very emphatic about that. It wrote: "All is linked in a same Whole, so
that it is easy to see that all is One; that all is the Ancient and that
there is no distinction between the Whole and Him."
"The Whole is
One, and the Whole is He; the Whole is the only thing without
distinction nor separation."
Saint exists, wrapped in the figure of the One. He is One, and All is
One, and all the lights which radiate from Him are One and re-enter in
"God is the
beginning and the ending of all the degrees of the creation. All these
degrees bear his mark and his character; and one cannot designate Him
otherwise than the One. He is One in spite of the numerous forms which
He had upon Him. It is upon Him that are suspended things, superior and
creation, all was contained in the same unity."
. In other words, if one declares that
the universe is God or God is the universe, one says the same thing.
"The En-Sof", says indeed the Zohar, "is clothed and wrapped by the
Sephiroths, as the charcoal by the flames." Besides, after emanating the
radiation of the primordial light in ten lights, it adds: "Nevertheless,
all is One."
The universe then
appears less as a development of God than as a degradation of God...
Emanation as mechanism for the world appearance
diverges from the exoteric Judaism, in rejecting the creation ex
nihilo of the Bible, and in professing, instead, the Theory of
Emanation, as mechanism for the world appearance. Botril cites the
following words which, he says, are quoted literally from the
"O thou man who
drawest from the cisterns at the source, guard thyself, when tempted,
from revealing anything of the doctrine of emanation which is a
greatest mystery for all the Kabbalists, and this mystery is hidden in
the words of the Law: "Thou shalt not tempt the Lord".
Saadia sums up
the Kabbalistic doctrine of Emanation as follows: "Now, as the Creator
is the only Being Who was in existence at first, they maintain that
He draw everything from his own substance".
We can use some
excerpts from Albert Pike's Morals and Dogma to describe the Kabbalistic
Theory of Emanation.
"In the Kabbalah,
as in the Persian and Gnostic doctrines, He is the Supreme Being unknown
to all, the "Unknown Father". The world is His revelations and subsists
only in Him. His attributes are reproduced there, with different
modifications, and in different degrees, so that the Universe is His
Holy Splendor: it is but His Mantel: but it must be revered in silence.
All beings have emanated from the Supreme Being: The nearer a
being is to Him, the more perfect it is; the more remote in the scale,
the less its purity."
conceived God as Non-Being, Being and Existent. We will examine these
God as Non-being
sustains that before the apparition of the world, the Supreme Being was
a hidden and non-manifested Godhead. It was infinite, ineffable,
homogenous and undifferentiated. It was then represented by a Circle
without Center, and was termed as En-Sof (Ain-Soph).
"The Zohar didn't
hesitate to replace the denomination En-Sof for a negative term, Ayin
(No-thing). This term which was extended to the first divine
manifestation, the first Sephira (The Crown), was foreign to all
positive conceptions. God "in se" was the Ayin of Ayin, the No-thing of
No-thing, or the quintessence of No-thing."
Kabbalists claim to remain true to the popular belief that it was only
by the power of the Divine Word that the World issued from nothingness.
But we know already that "nothing" had quite another meaning for them.
In the word of Abraham Dior, one of the commentators of the Sefer
Yetzirat: "When it is maintained that all things were called forth from
nothingness, nothingness in its proper sense is not what
it meant, for being can never come out of non-being. Rather, what
is meant is the Non-Being that cannot be conceived either through its
cause or through its essence; in short, it is the Cause of Causes. It
was what we called the Primitive Non-Being, preceding the universe; not
only material objects, but also Wisdom, on which the world was founded.
To inquire after the essence of Wisdom and how it coheres in Non-Being,
or in the Supreme-Crown, is to ask an unanswerable (sic) question, for
there is no differentiation and no manner of existence in Non-Being. Nor
can we understand how Wisdom is united with life."
It is worth
noticing that Chinese philosophers also called the Supreme Being, Wu Ji
(Vô Cực, Non-Polarized), or Void (Xu, Hư), or Chaos (Hun Tun, Hỗn Độn),
which does not means chaos or disorders, but rather indifferentiation
and homogeneity. They represented it also by a Circle without Center.
God as Being
"In the process
of creation, the diffused life of Ain-soph retires from the
circumference to the Center and establishes a point, which is
the first manifesting One - the primitive limitation of the
all-pervading O. When the divine essence thus retires from the
circular boundary to the Center, It leaves behind the Abyss, or, as
the Kabbalists term it, the Great Privation. Thus in Ain-Soph is
established a twofold condition where previously had existed but one.
The first condition is the central point - the primitive objectified
radiance of the eternal, subjectified life. About this radiance
is darkness caused by the deprivation of the life which is
drawn to the center to create the first point, or
universal germ. The universal Ain-Soph, therefore, no longer shines
through space, but rather upon space, from an established first point.
Isaac Myers described this process as follows: "The Ain-Soph at first
was filling All and then made an absolute concentration into itself
which produced the Abyss, Deep, or Space, the Aveer Qadmon or Primitive
Air, the Azoth; but this is not considered in the Qabbalah as a perfect
void or vacuum, a perfectly empty Space, but it is thought of as the
Waters or Crystalline Chaotic Sea, in which was a certain degree of
Light inferior to that by which all the created (world and hierarchies)
the Zohar says: "When the Concealed of the Concealed wishes to reveal
Himself, He first made a single point: The Infinite was entirely
unknown, and diffused no light before this luminous point violently
broke through into vision".
The name of this
point is I Am, called by the Hebrews Eheieh. The Qabbalists gave many
names to this Dot. On this subject, Christian D. Ginsberg writes, in
substance: The Dot is called the first Crown, because it occupies the
highest position. It is called the Aged, because it is the first
"It is called the
White Head, the Long Face - Macroposophus - and the Inscrutable High,
because it controls and governs all other emanations. When the White
Shining Point had appeared, it was called Kether, which means the
Kether is also
called Yod. Thus one can says that Yod is the beginning and the end of
all things that are. The stream that flows forth is the Universe of
things, which always becomes, having no cessation...All things are
included in Yod; wherefore it is called the Father of All."
To sum up, "when
the infinite God willed to emit what were to flow forth, He contracts
Himself in the Center of his light, in such manner that the most intense
light should reach to a certain circumference, and on all sides upon
Himself. And this is the First Contraction, and termed Tsemsum
Luria called this
Contraction, The Zimzum Theory.
We can draw this
The ZimZung Diagram
God as Existent
The Godhead can
be designated as Existent, when it manifests Itself into the myriad of
things and the Universe. This self-manifestation is done by two
Self-differentiation or division.
phenomenon is summarized by the first three Sephiroth:
Kabbalah posits God prior to creation as existing in an undifferentiated
state (En-Sof). The Universe, the World, and Humanity are the result of
the emanation of the Divine from "out" of this fullness into
"The path or
progression of this emanation is generally represented by the visual
glyph of "The Tree of Life."
Relation between Ain-Soph and Kether
So we see,
Ain-Soph can be considered as the non-manifested Godhead, and Kether is
the manifested Godhead. Ain-Soph is the infinite God, while Kether or
Crown is his Will to create. In spite of this distinction, this name
Ain-Soph can be applied to Kether or Crown.
wrote: "Ainsoph, Aensoph, Ayensoph, is the title of the Cause of Causes,
its meaning being "endless", because there is no limit to its loftiness,
and nothing can comprehend it. Sometimes, also, the name is applied to
Kether or the Crown, the first emanation, because that is the Throne of
the Infinite that is, its first and highest Seat, than which none is
higher, and because Ainsoph resides and concealed therein: hence it
rejoices in the same name."
The Ten Sephiroths or the Tree of Life
Sephiroths, as manifestations of the Supreme Being, are endowed with
many signification. They can mean facets or aspects of the divine
personality, stages in God's revelation of himself and phases of the
divine life, driving forces of the universe and the impulses which move
man. They are also numbers from One to Ten, the building blocks from
which all other numbers are constructed
Ten Sephiroths as working-stocks of the universe
There are ten
emanations of numbers out of nothings:
1. The Spirit
of the Living God.
2. From the
Spirit, emanated Air.
3. From the
4. From the
5-10. From the
Fire, the Height (5), and the Depth(6), the East
(7) and the West(8), the North (9) and the South
Sephiroths, as speculations on the universe.
Sephiroths are frequently represented by three triangles and one circle.
triangle is constituted: Crown, Hokhmah and Binah .
Sephiroth First Triangle
It deals with the
way by which the universe emanated from God.
From the One, or
Kether or the Androgyne Godhead, spring two first Principles: The
Masculine and the Feminine, the Father and the Mother of everything. One
can also assimilate the Crown to the Will of God; Hokhmah to the Wisdom
of God, and Binah to his Intelligence.
wills to manifest itself into the world; he plans and then
first limits Himself by flowing forth in the shape of Will, of
determination to act. This Will of Deity, or the Deity as Will, is
Kether, or the Crown, the first Sephirah. In it are included all the
Emanations...For to the creation of anything, it is absolutely necessary
that the Infinite should form for Himself and in Himself, an idea of
what He willed to produce or create: and as there is no Time with Him,
to will was to create, to plan was to will and to create; and in the
Idea, the Universe in potency, the universal succession of things was
included. Henceforward, all was merely evolution and development."
The nature of the
Active Principle is to diffuse: of the Passive Principle, to collect and
The next two
triangles are dealing with immutable laws that govern the existence
triangle is represented as follows
The Second Triangle of Sephiroth
Hesed or Gedulah,
the love or mercy of God, is the force which molds and organizes things,
which constructs and builds up (Anabolism)
Sephira, Geburah (Din or Pachad), the power and stern judgment of God,
balances the constructive activity of Hesed with the destructive
activity (Catabolism). All phenomena are then governed by the law of the
opposites, by the interplay of construction and destruction, of growth
and decay, of birth and death.
They are united
and reconciled in Tiphareth (Or Rahamin), the beauty of God, resulting
in Harmony and Equilibrium.
In the third
triangle, we have:
The Third Triangle of Sephiroth
Netsah is the
force of attraction and cohesion of the universe. Its opposite Sefira,
Hod, represents essentially a mercurial quality of things - ever
flowing, shifting and in constant flux...
The Kabbalah, by
its Sephiroths, likes to convey an eternal truth: That under the
apparent strife between opposing forces, there is Harmony and Beauty,
which is the result of a just Equilibrium.
Thus the Tree of
Life can be considered as a balance. "...The Scales of the Balance are
designated as Male and Female. In the Spiritual world, Evil and Good are
in equilibrium, and it will be restored, when, of Evil, Good becomes,
until all is Good... For Hakemak is on the right hand, on the side of
Gedulah, and Binah on the left, on the side of Geburah; and Kether is
the beam of the balance above them in the middle, so Gedulah or Khased
is on one hand, and Geburah on the other, and under these, Tephared; and
Netsah is on one side, and Hod on the other, and under these, Yesod..."
As implied in
Yesod, the Stability and the Permanence of the Universe, can only be
realized by the harmonious cooperation of the two opposite forces. By
Harmony and by Equilibrium, God realized His Perfection, His Success,
and His Glory.
The last Sefira,
Malkhuth, is the sphere of the earth, matter, and physical body.
Malkhuth is the union of the Sephiroths in the entire tree. It is
frequently called the Shekhinah, the divine presence in the world,
the divine presence in God's people, Israel, and the divine presence in
man. Thus, The Kingdom, or Malkhuth, does not express any new
attribute, but simply the harmony which exists between all the other
attributes and their absolute rule over the world.
To realize the
Divine Presence of God in the world and in oneself is illumination, is
Gnosis, is the first step for the regeneration.
So Malkhuth, with Yesod, Tiphareth and Kether in the Middle Column, form
what the Kabbalist called the Tree of Life, while the Right Column was
called the Tree of Good, and the Left Column was called the Tree of
Evil, in reference to the creation story in Genesis.
The discovery of
the Divine Presence in oneself is the first step of Ascent from the
phenomenal world to God. The second step, is to lead a harmonious life,
suggested by Yesod. The third step is to live an ideal life, represented
by Tiphareth, and the final step is to get back to the One, the
Absolute, represented by Kether.
The idea of
returning back to the Origin is frequently suggested in the Sephiroths.
It was written in the Sepher Zetzirah: "The appearance of the Ten
Spheres (Sephiroths) out of nothing is as a flash of lighting or a
sparkling flame, and they are without beginning or end. The Word of God
is in them when they go forth and when they return. They run by His
order like a whirlwind and prostrate themselves before His Throne. The
Ten Sephiroths have their end linked to their beginning and their
beginning linked to their end, conjoined as the flame is wedded to the
live coal, for the Lord is Superlatively One and to Him there is no
"All things will
re-enter the Foundation from which they issued. Thus in the cosmic
process, there are two tendencies - the eternal flux and reflux -
designated by the Kabbalists as Hitpashtuth (exit), and Histalhut
(re-entry) which keep on acting and re-acting. In the same way as the
human organism exists by the double process of inspiration and
expiration - the one cannot be conceived without the other -, the
whole creation is a gigantic process of divine inspiration and
There are many ways of presenting the 10 Sephiroths:
1. It can be
presented in columns:
The right column is the Tree of Good.
The left column is the Tree of Evil.
The middle column is the Tree of Life.
2. It can be
presented by three triangles and one circle.
3. It can be
presented by a human figure: The man being Adam Kadmon, the "heavenly"
or "universal" man, the original spiritual and ideal form of humanity.
When they are
presented in three columns, they suggest the idea of a balance, the two
hands of which suggest the two opposing forces in the universe, and the
beam of which suggests the eternal law of Poise or Equilibrium resulting
from the harmonious interaction of the two opposing forces.
The Sephiroths And Their Interrelation
The Three Pillars and Their Ascent
The Three Triangles
The 10 Sephiroths
are linked together by 22 paths, representing the 22 letters in the
Jewish alphabet. It aims to show that everything in the universe is
interdependent, that everything forms an inseparable whole. If so,
man can never be separated from God, his Source and Origin.
To sum up, the
Ten Sephiroths are used to describe the relation between the hidden,
non-manifest, inaccessible and transcendent Godhead (En-Soph) and the
manifest, dynamic, a creative aspect of God. The Sephiroths (for which
many other synonyms are used in the Kabbalistic literature, e. g.
crowns, attributes, steps, principles, names) mediate between the
hidden, mystical "Cause above all Causes" and the world of plurality and
matter. Together, they compose a Tree of Life. It is a map of everything
and a classification of everything. The Tree's branches spread through
the entire universe, reconciling all diversity in a unified pattern.
Furthermore, it shows both the descent of the divine into manifestation
and the ascent by which man can reverse the process of emanation and
climb back up the Tree, as it were, to regain the Godhead.
of the Ten Sephiroths in the figure of a Man, called Adam Kadmon, or
Macroprosopos, the first prototype or Universal, or Macrocosm teaches us
this very important lesson: that man really has two aspects:
The existential aspect which is the existential man, the visible man
of everyday, and the essential man, the divine man, the essential
aspect which is co-eternal with the Godhead itself.
man, is in fact, the Malkuth, the Shekhinah, the God in exile in the
material world, the divine spark imprisoned in everything. As the
existential man cannot be separated from the essential man, the
existential God (Malkuth) cannot be separated from the essential God
(sometimes represented by Tiphareth). If man can be re-united to God, if
the Material Man can be re-united to the Divine Man, it is called Unio
Mystica, or Hierosgamos (sacred marriage), or in a lesser degree,
communion with God or Devekuth (a turning to God, a loving clinging or
adhering to Him which implies no loss of identity.)
the mystic Kabbalah is directed to the rooting of the soul in God and
the ransoming of the divine spark (Tikkun), the return of Divine
Presence, from its abandonment in the Exile and its diffusion through
the world's brokenness, and the redemption into unity.
Tree of Life suggests that all life is bound into unity which descends
from the Most High to the world beneath. But, as a matter of fact, the
world is splintered by duality of perception: men are estranged from
each other, nature is estranged from man and the estrangement enforces
upon men the strategy of power and manipulation which, however much it
affords temporary protection and insulation, augments the estrangement.
mystic, beginning as he does with the vision of the unity which preceded
creation, a unity in which all life shared, has the task of returning
men to an interior depth which enables them at first to grasp their own
unity, and at the end, to do for others the work of unification.
The 22 paths or the 22 letters of the Hebraic alphabet
The 22 letters
are divided into three groups:
The three Mothers
,ם,ש (Sh, M, A) representing the three primordial elements in the
created from the elementary Fire (or Ether) (ש,
comprising sea and land, from the elementary Water. (M,
atmospheric air, from the elementary Air, or Spirit (A,
establishes the balance among them. Thus, were all things produced.
God appointed and
established three Mothers
,ם,ש combined, weighed, and exchanged them,
forming by them three Mothers
,ם,ש, in the universe, in the year, and
in man (male and female).
Mothers in the universe are: Air, Water, and Fire. The three Mothers in
the Year are: heat, coldness and the temperate state. Heat was created
from Fire, coldness from Water, and the temperate state from Air, which
equilibrates them. The Three Mothers produced in man (male and female)
breast, abdomen and head. The head was formed from the Fire, the abdomen
from the water, and the breast (thorax) from Air, which places them in
The seven double
(B, G, D, K, P, R, Th) have a duplicity of
pronunciation (two voices), aspirated and unaspirated. They serve as a
model of softness and hardness, strength and weakness.
The seven double
letters symbolize wisdom, riches, fertility, life, power, peace and
The seven double
letters also signify the antithesis to which human life is exposed. The
opposite of wisdom is foolishness; of riches, poverty; of fertility,
sterility; of life, death: of power, servitude; of peace, war; and of
The seven double
letters point out six dimensions, height, depth, East and West, North
and South, and the Holy Temple in the Center, which sustains them all.
letters are seven and not six, they are seven and not eight; reflect
upon this fact, search into it and reveal its hidden mystery and place
the Creator in His throne again. (It means that the throne of God,
like the Holy Temple is always in the Center of everything). The
seven double letters having been designed, established, purified,
weighed, and exchanged by God. He formed, of them, seven planets in the
universe, seven days in the Year, and seven gateways of the senses in
man (male, female). From these seven He also produced seven heavens,
seven earths, and seven Sabbaths. Therefore He loves seven more than any
other number beneath His throne.
The seven planets
in the universe are: Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Sun, Venus, Mercury, and
Moon. The seven days in the Year are the seven days of the week
(possibly the seven creative days are meant). The seven gateways in man
(male and female) are two eyes, two ears, two nostrils, and the mouth.
With the seven
double letters He also designed seven earths, seven heavens, seven
continents, seven seas, seven rivers, seven deserts, seven days, seven
weeks (from Passover to Pentecost) and in the mist of them His Holy
Palace. There is a cycle of seven years and the seventh is the release
year, and after seven release years is the Jubilee. For this reason God
loves the number seven more than any other thing under the heavens.
The 12 simple
ה,ו,ז,ח,ט,י,ל,נ,ס,ע,צ,ק (Q, X, U, S, N, L, Y, F, J,
Z, W, H) symbolize the twelve fundamental properties: speech, thought,
movement, sight, hearing, work, coition, smell, sleep, anger, taste (or
swallowing), and mirth.
letters corresponds to twelve directions: east height, northeast, east
depth; south height, southeast, south depth; west height, southwest,
west depth; north height, northwest, north depth. They diverge in all
eternity and are the arm of the universe.
letters having been designed, established, weighed, and exchanged by
God. He produced by them twelve zodiacal signs in the universe, twelve
months in the year, and twelve chief organs in the human body (male and
The signs of the
zodiac are: Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio,
Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces. The months of the Year are:
Nisan, Ijar, Sivan, Tammus, Ab, Elul, Tisri, Marchesvan, Kislev, Tebet,
Sebat, and Adar. The organs of the human body are: two hands, two feet,
two kidneys, gall-bladder, small intestine, liver, esophagus, stomach,
Thus, the 22
letters suggest that this world is formed from some substances, and is
governed by opposing forces. But in the middle, in the Center of all
phenomena, God is always present to govern, to direct and to
conserve...They stress on the immanence of God, and the unity, the
interconnection of everything.
To be complete,
we must mention briefly the Four Worlds according to the Kabbalah:
Atziluth, the Boundless World of Divine Names.
Briah, the Archangelic World of Creations.
Yetzirath, the Hierarchical World of Formations.
Assiah, the Elemental World of Substances.
Each world has 10
powers, or spheres, because each world contains the 10 Sephiroths or
their reflections. So we have 40 spheres of creation out of the En-Sof.
It is important
to mention that the four Kabbalistic worlds are associated with the four
Atziluth corresponds to the Element Fire.
Briah is associated with the Element Air.
Yetzirah is linked with the Element Water.
Assiah is connected with the Element Earth.
we can posit the Four Worlds respectively as Divine, Spiritual,
Psychical and Material.
We can see in
some Kabbalistic books that the Four Elements correspond to the four
letters in the Tetragrammaton, such as shown in the following picture.
Kabbalists accept three elements (Fire, Air, Water) as the primal
elements of the world, while others prefer to accept four elements as
building blocks of the universe (Fire, Air, Water, Earth).
So for the
Kabbalists, the world is formed by a complex system of mechanisms:
Emanation (En-sof emanating the ten Sephiroths), Self-Division
(Kether dividing itself into Binah (Female Principle) and Hokhmah (Male
Principle), Fecundation (Interaction among Binah and Hokhmah),
Combination, Permutation, Inversion (The Four Elements) Mutual
Modification and Interchange (the Three Elements), and Reflection
(The first three Sephiroths reflecting themselves in the lower spheres.
As the Jewish
Kabbalah is mostly written in code, and all of it in the form of
allegories, it takes much effort to form a clear idea of its chief
The Kabbalah is a
proponent of the Emanation Theory: It asserts that the world is not
created ex nihilo by God, but emanates from Him.
It does not
consider God as a spiritual Being creating the world ex nihilo, by His
command, radically separated from the world, but rather as a Principle
manifesting itself step by step into this visible world. He is not
separated from the world but is immanent in it, embodied therein. God is
the Soul and the World His body, or his garment.
makes an exhaustive inquiry about God. It follows Him step by step, from
the depth of Nothingness (En-Sof), to Being (Kether) and to Existence
(Ten Sephiroths). It explains how the Absolute can generate the
Relative, the One can generate the Multiple, and how the Multiple can
re-gain the Unity with the One. In the Kabbalah, it is shown how the
Godhead can engender the world, and the complex mechanism of the world
appearance is mentioned; Emanation (Ein-Soph and the Ten
Sephiroths), Differentiation (Kether differentiating itself into
Hokhmak and Binah - Male and Female Principles), Mutual Fecundation
and Interaction (Binah and Hokhmah), Reflection (three
superior Sephiroths into seven inferior Sephiroths), Interplay of
Opposite Forces (Tree of Good and Tree of Evil), and their
Reconciliation creating Harmony and Beauty, Stability and Permanence
(Tree of Life, Tiphareth, and Yesod).
considers the Godhead as comprehending the world and as acting inside
each being (transcendent and immanent). Guided by these two apparently
contradicting views, we can say with Paul: "For in Him we live, and
move, and have our being" (Acts, 17, 28), or with Jesus Christ: "The
Kingdom of God is within you" (Luke, 17, 21) or again with Paul: "Know
thee not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, which is in
you, which ye have of God." (1. Cor. 6, 19), and "I think also that I
have the Spirit of God" (1. Cor. 7, 40).
One of the main
ideas of the Kabbalists is that the world is engendered from Kether,
considered as a dot in the center of a circle. Thus the
development of beings is done by successive degeneration and from the
Center to the Periphery. Henri Serouya wrote: "Thus the development from
the Infinite to the Finite carried in itself degradation from the
perfect to the imperfect. The perfection diminishes in proportion to the
distance which separates the arrival point from the primordial point or
focus. Beings are characterized by multiplicity and thus inferior to
One. The more a being, on its way of evolution, tends to go away, the
more it is prone to be condensed and to be materialized. In this sense,
the development of beings is done from the Center to the Periphery and
thus in successive order; these orders are arranged like concentric
circles. Each order is the cover, the rind, the matter of the order
which is immediately superior to it; and the spirit of the order which
is immediately inferior to it."
theory of rinds is emphasized in the Zohar, and bears an interesting
metaphysical conception in regards to the entire being. Thus for Jewish
mystics, God is considered as the Center. The development of
Sephiroths, and of their action, is suggested by concentric circles. The
inferior wraps the superior and served as its protecting rind. "The
whole created universe including the Sephiroths, is then only the rind
of En-Sof, as rinds of the onion are the garments of the seed. Thus
according to these ideas, spirit and matter are not two separate
essences, independent from each other, two distinct substances but two
modes of the same substance, considered in its distance, lesser or
greater from the Initial Point. For the Zohar, matter is somewhat spirit
becoming visible. It is the visible imprint of the invisible seal call
view of the world as concentric circles, organized according to their
respective Densities (Fire, Air, Water, Earth), is shared by
universal symbolism, and by other occult schools. "The ancient sages
considered above and below as indicating degree of distance from
source, source being posited in the actual center and relative distance
being the various points along the various points along the radii from
the Center toward the circumference. In matter pertaining to philosophy
and theology, up may be considered as toward the center,
and down as toward the circumference. Center is Spirit,
circumference is matter. Therefore, Up is toward Spirit along an
ascending scale of spirituality; Down is toward matter along an
ascending scale of materiality. The latter concept is partly expressed
by the apex of a cone when viewed from the above, is seen as a point in
the exact center of the circumference formed by the base of the cone."
teachings present striking similarities, when compared with those of
other Esoteric schools. The division of the Tree, into Three Pillars,
for instance, "reminds us of the three channels of Prana, described by
the Yogis, Ida, Pingala, and Shushuma; and the two principles, the Yin
and the Yang of Chinese Philosophy and the Tao (or Tai Ji) which is the
equilibrium between them. By the agreement of witnesses, truth is
established, and when we find three of the great metaphysical systems of
the world, in complete agreement, we may conclude that we are dealing
with established principles and should accept them as such."
The division of
the universe into four worlds, the hierarchies of which, are based upon
their densities, namely:
Archetypal World, meaning Emanation and symbolizing the celestial
realm or divine realm, consisting of Kether, and corresponding to
the Element of Fire.
Briah, called the
Creative World, consists of Hokhmak and Binah, and is represented by the
Element of Air. It is the Spiritual Realm.
Formation, is the Formative World, consisting of the six central
Sephiroths, viz. Chesed, Geburah, Tiphareth, Netzach, Hod, and Yesod.
Its emblem is the Element of Water. It can be called the
Psychological or Astral World.
Action, consisting of Malkuth, is The Material World and
corresponds to the Element of Earth.
If we consider
Fire and Water as two extreme terms, and Air and Earth as two middle
terms, we can say that these four Elements represent the four letters of
the Tetragrammaton, viz.:
Fire corresponding to the Yod
Air corresponding to Vau
Water corresponding to the first He
Earth corresponding to the second He.
Let us be
reminded that among other signification, the famous word INRI can also
stand four the Four Elements, namely: Its four letters are the initials
of the Hebrew words that represent the Four Elements - Iammim, the Sea
or Water; Nour, Fire; Rouach, The Air; and Iebeschah, the dry Earth.
In ancient times,
the Four Elements found applications in every fields, be it Medicine,
Astrology or Divination.
Elements correspond to the four temperaments as described by
Hippocrates, the four Tarot suits, the twelve signs of the Zodiac, and
the seven planets. If the implications are worked out, it will be seen
that herein are contained some very important keys. "The Element of
Earth corresponds to the Phlegmatic Temperament, the suit of Pentacles
(Diamond), the signs of Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn, and the
planets Venus and Luna. "The Element of Water corresponds to the Bilious
Temperament, the suit of Cups (Heart), the signs of Cancer, Scorpio,
and Pisces, and the planet Mars. "The Element of Air corresponds to the
Choleric Temperament, the suit of Swords (Spade), the signs of Libra,
Gemini and Aquarius, and the planets Mercury and Saturn. "The
Element of Fire corresponds to the Sanguine Temperament, the suit of
Wands (Club), The signs Aries, Sagittarius and Leo, and the
planets Sol and Jupiter.
using these four elements, classify men into four temperaments, but a
little bit differently, as follows:
(Hot temper of the choleric)
(Dry humor of the sanguine)
(The melancholic "dampening" effect
of our Spirit)
The Yi Jing
associated the Four Elements with four colors: Fire with Red; Air (Wood)
with Green; Metal (Earth) with White; Water with Black. Amazingly enough
we see the four horses in Zechariah having the same colors (red horse,
black horse, white horse, grisled and bay horse) (Zechariah 6, 2-7). The
Revelation mentionned also the four horse in the same colors (Rev. 6,
Thus the Four
Worlds of the Kabbalah, corresponding to the Four Elements, with the Two
Principles - Hokhmah and Binah - are the two main tenets that stand for
the Emanation Theory. So we can use the Four Worlds, the Four Elements
as pass-words to regroup all the Esoteric schools East and West that
profess the Emanation Theory. The Four Elements are expressed variously
- The four
letters in YHVH and in INRI.
- The four
geometrical solids in Timaeus of Plato: Fire (Tetrahedron), Air
(Octahedron), Water (Icosahedron), Earth (Cube).
- The Four
Beasts, symbolizing the Four Sides of the Sky: Taurus, Leo, Scorpio
(Eagle), Aquarius (Man). Each Beast is also represented by a brigthest
Star in the Zodiacal band: Aldebarran (Taurus), Regulus (Leo), Antares
(Scorpio) Fomalhaut (Aquarius).
- The Four Beasts
become the emblems for the Four Evangelists: Taurus stand for Luke, Leo
for Marc, Eagle for John, Aquarius for Matthew.They become the Four
Creatures found in Ezechiel's vision (Eze. 1, 10, and 10,14), and in
John's vision (Rev. 4, 7).
- The four beast
enter in the composition of the Sphinxes, especially in Assyrian
Sphinxes (Encyclopaedia of Art, Plate 523, and 488).
- The Four
Elements in Buddhist and Hinduist philosophy: Fire, Water, Earth, Air.
- The Four
Elements in the Yi-Ching with some modification, viz.: Fire, Wood (Air),
Metal (Earth), Water.
- The Four Suits
of the Tarot: Wands (Club) (Fire); Cups (Heart) (Water); Swords (Spade)
(Air); Pentacles (Diamond).
- The Four
Elements of Alchemy (Fire, Air, Water, Earth).
- The Four
Elements in the Zoroastrian religion of Persia.
- The Four First
Chakras in the Indian physiology:
- The basal,
supra-anal center (Four Petals), Muladhara Chakra: Earth
- The penile
center (Six Petals), Svadhishthana: Water.
- The umbilical
center (Ten Petals), Manipura: Air.
- The cardiac
center (Sixteen Petals): Anahata: Fire
The Four Worlds
in the Kabbalah.
- Atziluth: Fire.
- Briah: Air.
- Assiah: Earth.
assimilates this fourfold classification to the Rosetta Stone, which
gave the key to Egyptian hieroglyphs, for on it were inscriptions in
Egyptian and Greek; Greek being known, it is possible to work out the
meaning of the corresponding hieroglyths.
But we have not
to be far-fetched. We have only to remember this succession of number
taught by the Yi-ching: 0, 1, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/16, 1/32/ 1/64 etc and we
will know how the World has been created: It has been created by
Emanation and by DIvision by the One.
So the Four
Worlds of the Kabbalah, or the Tree of Life, consisting of the Ten
Sephiroths, arranged in the 4 worlds will give the real esoteric clue to
each of these systems of Oriental and Occidental occultisms. Hence the
vital importance of the Four World, the Four Elements, the Tree arranged
in the Four Worlds in Western Occultism. We will also use the Four
Elements, as our key to open all the esoteric teachings, and all the
esoteric symbols in the world. We will use the Four Elements, in
combination with the Circle and the Center to decipher all the
hyeroglyphic code of occultism.
teachings about the nature of man and the human destiny, are given in
the figure of Adam Kadmon, as Primordial Man, or Divine Man, and of the
Existential Man or Actual Man. So man has a double nature.
Apparently, he is entangled in the material and social world, as man
destined to die, but essentially, he is divine, and is consubstantial to
God. His destiny is then to return to the Godhead, and to enjoy
To realize his
true nature, his divine nature, and to find the way back to the Godhead,
he is guided by the meditation on the Central Column of the Tree of
Life. He must, first of all, realize the presence of God (Malkuth) in
himself, as well as in everything in this world. His human Self must be
united to the Divine Self. He must lead a harmonious life and avoid all
excesses and defects (Tiferet) which will result in the final union with
God, represented by Kether.
Thus, when the
divine nature and the human nature are separated, man is on his
downward journey toward a materialistic existence. When his human
nature will be re-united with the divine nature [Tiferet suggesting
Union, Beauty resulting from the reconciliation and union of these two
polar forces (human and divine)], man is on his upward journey
toward the Ancient of Days considered as androgyne (both male and
female). Thus the Fall is characterized by the separation from God; and
salvation requires re-union with God. This is the true "Atonement"
The Tree of
Life, with all its interconnecting paths, suggests that all life is
bound into a unity which descends from the Most High to the world
beneath. Unfortunately, as a matter of fact, the world is splintered by
dualities of perception: men are estranged from each other; nature is
estranged from man and the estrangement enforces upon men the strategy
of power and manipulation, which, however much it affords temporary
protection and insulation, augments the estrangement. The Kabbalistic
master, beginning as he does with the vision of the unity,which
preceded creation, a unity in which all life shared, has the task of
returning men to an anterior depth which enables them at first to grasp
their own unity and, at the end, to do for others the work of
It is said that
Binah and Chokmah are the archetypal Positive and Negative. It is from
these primary pairs of Opposites that the pillars of the universe spring
between which is woven the web of manifestation. It is between these two
polarizing aspects of manifestation - The Supernal Father and The
Supernal Mother that the web of life is woven; souls go back and forth
between them like a weaver's shuttle. In our individual lives, in our
physiological rhythms, and the history of the rise and the fall of the
nations, we observe the same rhythmic periodicity. Thus, the pairing of
opposites does not only occur in type, it also occurs in time, and we
have alternating epochs in our lives, in our physiological processes,
and in the history of nation, during which activity and passivity,
construction and destruction alternatively prevail; the knowledge of the
periocity of these cycles is part of the secret and guarded ancient
wisdom of the initiates, and is worked out astrologically and
life is a flow of changes carried out from Kether to Malkuth, i.e. from
Spirit to Matter and vice versa. Thus does consciousness descends in the
course of involution from the First Manifest through the subtle planes
of existence to dense Matter; then ascends from Matter back to Spirit;
this second phase can be also termed as evolution. According to the
Kabbalah, the mystic should, strictly speaking, only use the term
evolution, when describing the ascent from Matter back to Spirit, for
then is evolved that which was involved through the subtle phases of
development. It is obvious that nothing can be evolved, unfolded, which
was not previously involved, enfolded.
insight we can have of the Kabbalah, the more useful lessons we can
learn from it.
It is mainly
because of the high rank the Kabbalists assign man, that they recommend
themselves to our interest and that the study of their system assume
great importance for the history of philosophy as well as of religion.
According to the
Kabbalah, man is both divine and human. Essentially, man is truly YHVH.
The Tetragrammaton written vertically represents effectively a standing
man, Yod being his head; He, his arms; Vau, his body; and the He final,
The Middle Column
of the Tree of Life teaches us the way back to God, and shows us all the
successive steps of the process of this Magnum Opus (Great Work)
Let us meditate
again upon Malkuth, Yesod, Tiphareth and Kether.
Shekhinah or the Divine Presence. But it can be called the Gate of Death
(or the Gate of Tears) or on the contrary, the Gate of the Garden of
Eden. If we go outwardly, in this phenomenal world, for the quest of
material riches and honors, Malkuth is then the Gate of Death or Tears.
But, if we realize the Presence of God in our self, and go inwardly for
the quest of the union with the immanent God, Malkuth is then the Gate
of Eden. Thus, The Kabbalah reminds us that God and the Garden of Eden
is within us. It is worthy noticing that while Malkuth represents the
Gate of Eden, its Indian counterpart, the Muladhara Cakra is also termed
as Brahma's Gate. We are then, the Temple of God and the Kingdom of God
is effectively within us (Luke 17, 21).
associated with the Holy Spirit, and with the vision of the machinery of
This means that
under the apparent state of continual flux and reflux, the world is
stable and permanent on its foundation (Yesod). Furthermore, under the
Four Material Elements represented by Malkuth, we must discover the
Fifth Element, the Quintessence, the Spirit, which is the Spirit of God
(Yesod). Thus behind the flux and reflux of phenomena conditioned by the
interplay of opposing forces, there is an equilibrating power, which
maintains the harmony, the stability and the permanence of the world.
Thus, in its apparent aspect, Yesod is unquestionably the sphere of
Illusions. If the soul is immersed in the Lathe of its passions and
fascinations, she forgets its divine origin. But, if she has a true
knowledge about the machinery of the world, she will be emancipated from
Maya and Illusions.
associated with the vision of the harmony of things, and of the
mysteries of the Crucifixion. Its symbol is the Calvary Cross or a
Tiphareth is the junction between the Divine and the Human. The four
Sephiroths below Tiphareth represent the Personality, or the
Lower Self. The four Sephiroths above Tiphareth are the
Individuality or The Higher Self.
Thus, Kether is
metaphysical, divine; Yesod is psychic; and Tiphareth is mystic, the
junction between the two.
God must be
sacrificed on the Cross at the level of Tiphareth, to become man; and
man must die on the Cross at the level of Tiphareth to become God.
Tiphareth is, then, the symbol of Union of God through
self-renunciation... The human consciousness, rising from Yesod, is
illuminated in Tiphareth. By illumination, by the recognition of his
divine nature, man can be called the Son of God. From thence, man is
very dignified. He can say: "The greatest evil is when I forget that I
am the son of a King."
Kether has many
names: It is called Existence of Existences, Concealed of the Concealed,
Ancient of the Ancients, Ancient of Days, The Primordial Point, The
Point within the Circle, the Most High, the Vast Countenance, the White
Head, Macroprosopos, Amen, Lux Occulta, Lus Interna...
It stands for the
Union with God. It can be termed as the Completion of the Great Work of
Alchemists. It corresponds to the Divine Spark; the Cranium; the
Thousand Petals Lotus. (Sahamsara Chakra)
Thus, from the
Primordial Point, sprung out the whole world, and to this Point, the
whole universe will be re-absorbed at the end of the time. Ein-sof,
Kether and other Sephiroths are the hidden God, and his emanated
manifestation. The hidden God and his emanated manifestation in the Ten
Sephiroths describes the process of wrenching the being of God from his
concealment before creation into the act of creation, and thereafter
into that immanent ebb and flow which describes the lost-and-found world
of the Spirit.
Kether is the Lux
Interna - the Internal Light -, the Divine Spark which is the warrant
for our divine nature.
Kether shows us
that the throne of God is located, not in Heaven - but in the Center of
our Brain, in our Third Ventricle - called also: The Thousand Petals
Lotus, by Hindus; and Ni-Huan Palace, or Nirvana, by the Chinese.
In Kether, the
Union with God is achieved through the loss of self-identity. The polar
opposition between Divine and Human, Male and Female, I-Thou disappears
and is replaced by a new state of indifferentiation (Kether is
Androgyne, per se).
Kether is the
abyss from whence all arose, and back into which it will fall at the end
of its epoch. Then Kether is the summary of the Emanation Theory and the
Consummation of Mysticism. Hence, it is termed as the Completion of the
Great Work (Magnum Opus).
understood as the Completion of the Great Work, will give us also the
key to unlock the mysterious castle of Alchemy.
"Kabbalah is, as
Scholem has observed, theosophical mysticism, not theosophical in the
sense in which this term had come to mean pseudo-religious ideology, but
theosophical as signifying "a mystical doctrine, or school of thoughts,
which purports to perceive and to describe the mysterious workings of
the Divinity.." (Scholem, Major Trends, p. 206) "The God of such
theosophy unfolds himself toward the world, establishing through the
variety of his emanations and influences connecting with the
variegations of natural and human life. By coming to understand the
rhythm and pulse of this mysterious life of divinity, the mystic adept
can transform himself into a repose for the divine presence, can perfect
himself toward the divine, can even, under the most rare of
circumstances, believe himself merged with the divine."
"One is filled",
wrote Albert Pike, "with admiration, on penetrating into the Sanctuary
of the Kabalah, at seeing a doctrine so logical, so simple, and at the
same time, so absolute. The necessary union of ideas and signs, the
consecration of the most fundamental realities by the primitive
characters; the Trinity of Words, Letters, and Numbers; a philosophy as
simple as the alphabet; profound and infinite as the Word; theorems more
complete and luminous than those of Pythagoras; a theology summed up by
counting on one fingers; an Infinite which can be held in the hollow of
an infant's hand; ten ciphers, and twenty-two letters, a triangle, a
square, and a circle, -these are all the elements of the Kabalah. These
are the elementary principles of the written world, reflection of that
spoken Word that created the world."
Gnosis, A Journal of the Western Inner Tradition, No 3, p. 6.
The Jewish Encyclopedia, p. 258.
Adolphe Franck, The Kabbalah, Bell Publishing Co, 1940, p. 112.
Manly P. Hall, The Philosophical Society, 1977, p. 117.
Manly P. Hall, The Secret Teachings Of All Ages, The
Philosophical Research Society Inc., Los Angeles California, CA 90027,
1977, p. 117.
Albert Pike,Morals and Dogma, Charleston, 1944, p. 763.
Henri Serouya, La Kabbale, Grasset, Paris, 1947, Introduction:
Pour les Kabbalistes anciens, le processus cosmogonique commence par un
acte dans lequel Dieu projette sa puissance créatrice hors de son propre
Être dans l'espace. Chaque acte nouveau est une étape de plus dans
l'extériorisation qui se développe "en accord avec la doctrine
émanationiste du Néoplatonisme en ligne droite, de haut en bas. Il
marque ainsi un processus strictement simple. Luria s'appuie sur la
doctrine de Zimzum au sens de retraite, solitude, pour expliquer "que
l'existence de l'univers est possible par un processus de contraction en
Albert Pike, Morals and Dogma, Charleston, 1944, p. 747.
Albert Pike, Morals and Dogma, Charleston, 1944, p. 766.
Adolphe Franck, The Kabbalah, Bell Publishing Company, New York,
Manly P. Hall, The Secret Teachings of All Ages, The
Philosophical Research Society, Inc. Los Angeles, California, 90027,
1977, p. 116.
Ibidem, p. 118.
Henri Serouya, La Kabbale, Grasset, 1957, p. 130.
Ibidem, p. 133 note 2, and p. 135 note 4.
Manly P. Hall, The Secret Teachings of All Ages, The
Philosophical Research Society, Inc. Los Angeles, California 90027,
1977, p. 74.
Dion Fortune, The Mystical Qabalah, p. 274.
Dion Fortune, The Mystical Qabalah, p. 74.
According to Dion Fortune, Kether -The Crown- is not in the head, but
above the head, as the Sahamsara Chakra is in the aura above the head.
(Cf. The Mystical Qabalah, p. 111). But my research demonstrates
that God has his seat in the Third Ventricle, in the middle of our head.
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