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Spiritual concepts

Sephirot

The Jewish Sephirot, although more correctly it is just the Sephirot as it is used outside just the Jewish religion, is a diagram showing the states of progress on the Spiritual path.

Each bubble represents a state, each line the activity or action by which one can go from one state to the next.

One of the rather intriguing aspects about the Sephirot is that it is diagrammatically and in meaning equivalent to a diagram used in systems analysis work in computing, called an Entity life cycle.  The Entity here is us and what we see are various states on the path to the end state linked by lines that show the route from one state to another.  Thus the person may, through the processes marked on the Sephiroth as lines, reach the states in the bubbles.

There are variations on the Sephirot as there are in all spiritual paths according to the observations of those who travelled it.  Occasionally there are extra bubbles, sometimes extra lines, but the principle remains the same.

The bubbles are states the lines are actions.

You can go down as well as up, the lines are therefore directionless, you can sink as well as rise, however the objective is to rise until the top bubble is reached the crown.

Much of the early thinking behind the Sephirot was the work of Jewish sages such as Solomon ibn Gabirol  who identified ten Sephirot.

The Sephirot are part of the teachings of the Kabbalah.  Wikipedia says

 “The diagram consists of 10 balls interconnected by paths shows the ‘Seder hishtalshelus’ the "order of development" or "order of evolution".  The tradition of enumerating 10 is stated in the Sefer Yetzirah, "Ten sephirot of nothingness, ten and not nine, ten and not eleven".

One meaning given to the states is as follows:

  • Keter - Crown - Divine Plan/ Creator/ infinite light/ Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh - I AM THAT I AM (Supreme/ Total Consciousness)
  • Chokmah - Divine Reality/ revelation/ Yesh me-ayin - being from nothingness (Power of Wisdom)
  • Binah - Understanding/ repentance/ reason (Power of Love)
  • Chesed - Mercy/ Grace/ Love of (intention to emulate) God (Power of Vision
  • Gevurah - Judgment/ strength/ determination (Power of Intention)
  • Tipheret - Symmetry/ balance/ compassion (Creative Power)
  • Netzach - Contemplation/ Initiative/ persistence (Power of the Eternal Now)
  • Hod - Surrender/ sincerity/ steadfastness (Intellectual/ Observational Power)
  • Yesod - Foundation/ wholly remembering/ coherent knowledge (Power of Manifesting)
  • Malkuth - Lower Crown - Kingdom/ physical presence/ vision and illusion (Power of Healing/ Accomplishment/ Level of Realization of Divine Plan)

The Sephirot above are listed in order according to the version given by rabbi Moses ben Jacob Cordovero. Some [according to Wikipedia] list the Sephirot somewhat differently by taking out Keter and adding in da'at:

  • Chokmah - Divine Reality/ revelation/ Yesh me-ayin - being from nothingness (Power of Wisdom)
  • Binah - Understanding/ repentance/ reason (Power of Love)
  • Da'at - Knowledge, the bridge between the intellect and emotion
  • Chesed - Mercy/ Grace/ Love of (intention to emulate) God (Power of Vision)
  • Gevurah - Judgment/ strength/ determination (Power of Intention)
  • Tipheret - Symmetry/ balance/ compassion (Creative Power)
  • Netzach - Contemplation/ Initiative/ persistence (Power of the Eternal Now)
  • Hod - Surrender/ sincerity/ steadfastness (Intellectual/Observational Power)
  • Yesod - Foundation/ wholly remembering/ coherent knowledge (Power of Manifesting)
  • Malkuth/ Lower Crown - Kingdom/ physical presence/ vision and illusion (Power of Healing/ Accomplishment/ Level of Realization of Divine Plan)

Note the use of the word ‘power to’ – in effect at each stage of the spiritual path you have ‘the power to’… what ever it happens to be in the bubble.  If you have ‘the power of wisdom’, you can move onto supreme consciousness – moksha nirvana etc, or go sideways as it were to the Power of Love or ‘fall’ down to the Power of Vision or Creative power.  Thus the states actually describe the abilities one obtains at each stage  - what can be done at each stage.  For example the ability to be able to heal or the ability to obtain visions, or the ability to create.

Tikkunei Zohar 17a

These ten sefirot are set out in order, one long, one short and one in between.  It is You who direct them and there  is nothing, either above or below or from any side which directs You.  You have assigned garments for them from which souls blossom forth for human beings.  You have assigned a number of bodies to them; they are called bodies because of the garments which cover them. In this form they are called:

Chesed [compassion] – the right arm;
Gevurah [might] – the left arm
Tiferet [beauty] – the body
Netzach [victory] and Hod [glory] – the two thighs
Yesod [foundation] – the end of the body
Malkhut [kingship] – the mouth, we call her the oral torah
Chokmah [wisdom] – the brain
Binah [understanding] – the heart
Keter [the upper crown] – the crown of kingship

This was partly based on the idea of functions residing in certain organs of the body, however, it is also symbolic and describes the energy flows and the way they progress up the meridians and chakras as progress is made.

The quote above is very coy about the sexual aspects of this and the body, but in some texts it is clear that Tiferet, Yesod and Malkhut were all related to the sexual organs and were at one time key to spiritual experience.  Little mention is made of this aspect now. 

The three 'columns ' of the sephirot can also be correlated  ida, pingala and shushumna – the energy paths of the kundalini experience.   

The bubbles can also be related to acupuncture points or trigger points [whatever name you wish to know them by].  In effect, they are code names for the stimulation points used in moving energy round the body.

The final position is explained in the Kabbalistic Pneumatics and described as 'Status Embryonnatus', which if one turns to the description of Qigong and the kundalini technique has a quite distinct meaning

Not any  more, of course, all this seems to have been lost.

 

 

Observations

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