Rebbe Nachman once laughed and said, “If they would allow one dead soul to visit an assembly of philosophers, that would be the end of all their teachings.”
But for those of us who haven’t yet merited, or recognized a visit from a dead soul, here is a bite sized map of how to perceive reality.
Last night while learning Sefer Yetzirah (The Book of Formation) – I ran out of those clear sticky things with the yellow tops used to mark pages that blow your mind away – and I ran out quickly – and I started off with a bunch. So I’m sharing something now while it’s fresh and beating through my 32 paths to understanding.
Familiarize yourself with the above “Figure 1”.
Ok, so Keter (crown), on top, represents the system of holiness that crowns our reality. The “Source” is not on this picture – can’t be understood or limited to a word or realm. This is merely a glimpse of the structure the Source chose to give us to allow for us to seek to understand that which He wanted for us to seek to understand about His (and our) attributes. But going into this we need to understand that, like a carrot to it’s farmer, it is not possible to “understand” the Source. Keter crowns everything, every system – from microscopic DNA to the ever expansive universe.
The crown is what we can relate to. The “King” wears the crown – the royalty – the highest – that which we seek to uplift – what we are really living for, and would die for.
Keter is the pinnacle of the system of life. Unique to every situation and stage in life exists the “crown” as the highest and most sacred purpose – that which we ascribe greatness and meaning to. What we stand for. The Keter is where we wanna be leading our friends and family to – always seeking, and reflecting upon the Keter in every experience.
The Source “radiates” His “light” and “systematic majesty” to the crown which is always a level above our comprehension and understanding. It’s the fuel for knowledge. It’s a few steps away from our ability to grasp – so we talk and write about it in allegory and poem – and those on my very limited level tend to use a lot of words to describe it. The crown on the King – the King’s glory – and we get to lift the crown up on top of our “Figure 1” individually and collectively – in every encounter in life and with every thought, action and intention – it’s our guide point – always seeking to raise the crown higher in a system with no ceiling.
And then there’s Chochma (wisdom). Wisdom alone is too bright to comprehend. Wisdom is singular and resides in the brain – and there are 32 paths to understand wisdom. Numerically, 32 corresponds to Lev, which is the Hebrew word for heart – and it’s in the heart where understanding rests.
Understanding requires limits and boundaries in order to contain pure wisdom – just like the inner space of a circle needs that ring around it to be a circle. We need limits to define and contain unbridled wisdom. Chochma is masculine unbridled energy, and Bina (understanding) is the feminine – the womb-like receiving energy which births unique understanding.
Not included in this figure is a realm called Daas (synthesized knowledge). In Daas, all sephirot exist in their perfected state of infinite sharing – it’s when you “know” something so deeply that it becomes etched in your bones and embedded deep in your soul so much that your kids look you in the eyes and feel it clearly without you saying a word. It is taught that Daas is what we “take with us” beyond this lifetime.
And that about does it for our head and brain, and what’s above that – and above the above.
Now back to the right Sephira of Chesed (kindness), which is balanced by Gevurah (strength). Unbridled “kindness” to one’s stomache can lead to terrible disease – to one’s pleasure sensors can lead to aweful addiction and destructive relationships – kindness must be tempered and grounded, and actually takes its true meaning only though partnership with strength and boundary.
And when they are in harmony, you have Tiferet (beauty) – a beautiful life – a beautiful heart – a thing of beauty. Tiferet marks the chest. This is where Bina heart energy comes to reside, joining the upper triangle to the middle. It also forms the site of the lungs – the organ that allows us to exchange energy with the world around us.
To the south we have Netzach (victory) on the right and its partner Hod (splendor) to the left – as we engage the world we need to fight for and defend a life of splendor.
And then there’s Yesod (foundation) – and like Magna Tiles on sand, building anything above this realm is frustrating, maddening, and just plain irresponsible without a strong and solid foundation.
Yesod corresponds to our reproductive organ and it’s the gate from Malchut (kingdom) – the sefirah below it – to the realms above. It is taught that illuminating the realm of Yesod is this generations greatest challenge, and opportunity for evolution. Yesod represents our foundation – our constitution – and only though transforming the desire to receive for our self alone into desire to receive for the purpose of sharing with others can we master this realm which serves as a syphon for the blessings above down to the kingdom below.
True mercy from above is not revealed through material accumulation laid upon a shaky foundation. Yesod is illuminated through the purification of what we say, see, hear, smell, think, and do. The rectification of Yesod widens our bandwidth – transforming us from a vessel to a cable – from a recipient into a partner of Divine blessing delivered to the realm of Malchut. The highest form of joy comes through giving, because through giving we emulate the attribute of our Creator – the giver of life. We become “like God” as we fulfill our highest purpose of illuminating the world with Divine light. We become “like God” when we free ourselves from material identification and expose the no-thing-ness of our eternal soul.
And Malchut is where we are – this world in front of us when we walk through that door.