Kabbalah is a set of esoteric teachings originating in Judaism. They are meant to help us understand the relationship between the material world and the world of the unchanging, eternal world of Ein Sof or unknowable everything. The most recognizable feature of these teachings is the Tree of life diagram which shows the path a being takes coming from the Ein Sof into embodied life through Malhoot (Shekinah).
First, let us begin at the beginning with the question, “What Is Kabbalah, actually?” Kabbalah /’kabələ’/ (קַבָּלָה, literally “receiving/tradition” ) is the living mystical tradition of Judaism. Its roots stretch back to the time of the Torah, the first five books of the Bible’s Old Testament, and to the oral traditions, collected into the Talmud, which predate and support it. Kabbalah is the result of the continued striving of Kabbalists to understand God through the only means available: His divinely inspired text and their personal connection to divinity through the lives they lead.
The Torah can be described, in the broadest terms, as a description of the mind of God illustrated through His acts of creation. These acts of manifestation are the blueprints showing how things move from conception to intention from action to form. Centuries of Biblical study and meditation have provided Kabbalists tremendous wisdom about life, about souls, and relationship with the Divine. In this way they have found the means to be “in God’s image” by manifesting love and light for the best and highest good of everyone and everything.
Like all spiritualities, Kabbalah has wisdom which is of benefit to all mankind. One needn’t be a Buddhist to appreciate the wisdom of the Buddha, to resonate to the deep harmonics of the OM nor be a Catholic to feel one’s soul rise up during mass or feel the breath of the Divine in St. Peters. People don’t need to learn Native American spirituality to feel the energy of a medicine wheel nor be a priestess devoted to Hera in order to feel rebirth in the spring of Kanathos. These things transcend the spiritualities, religions and cultures from which they arise and resist becoming historical artifacts, instead finding new ways to be relevant with contemporary culture.
Similar to the Chakra system, the Tree of Life, while an integrated system of interrelated parts, is meant to be studied piece by piece in order to help the individual manifest their path and gifts into this embodied life and return to an understanding of their divine. At its root the system is based on the Kabbalistic 16th century mystic Isaac Luria’s concept that in making the world, God used his own light and placed it in vessels. However his light was so bright, so broad and simply so much that some of the vessels shattered. Pieces of His light mixed with the destroyed remnants of the vessels, littering the universe with husks of what should have been mixed with tiny shards of divinity, an act which is called the Sundering. Each human is uniquely qualified to find these shards, starting with our own, and gather them back again so that we return this life to the its perfected state. This is the origin of the Jewish traditions connected to Tikkun Olam.
As I’ve indicated, the Tree of Life is an in depth description of how life manifests. It starts at Kether and moves down the Tree gaining substance in all aspects until becoming its own unique self at Malhoot. Experiences, learning, wisdom then move back up the Tree and return to the source. It’s traditional for students of Kabbalah to start their studies from the point of manifestation, “start where you are,” and move upwards from one Sephirah to another, discovering the mysteries of the world around them and within themselves step by step. To this end the Tree of Life is sometimes pictured as having three pillars: the Pillar of Severity (Form), The Pillar of Mercy (Force), and the Pillar of Mildness (Consciousness). A student who wishes to study in a highly concentrated manner, like a PhD student selecting their dissertation topic might choose the Pillar of Mercy which is the essence of ever expanding possibilities with no boundaries. Another might choose the Pillar of Severity and learn about what it is to create form and boundaries but have no new curiosities, no desire to expand. These pillars are very difficult to travel, have inherent imbalances and can cause a student to lose their way so, like Kabbalists before me, I recommend against attempting them until the student has decent mastery of the entire Tree and of themselves. For those who wish deeper insights into their Kabbalah studies the Pillar of Mildness is commonly chosen as it is the balance point for the other pillars and so contains their wisdom in more compatible forms.
The Kabbalistic Tree of Life is the sequential emanation of Akashic energy from the unmanifested potential to fully realized embodiment. In Judaism this is the essence of God’s creation, a small window through which we can peek to get a glimpse of His true nature and also the meaning of Adam being made in his image. All things procreate in one form or another sexually or asexually. Creation, existence, end of life, transformation is the rhythm of this planet and anything not in harmony with that creates imbalance and disease, which is why cancer is so inimical to life, why virus is so terrifying and why epidemics are arising among human populations. Growth must be balanced and human growth overrunning resources is an ecological disharmony. But humans made in God’s image have within them the keys to the Tree of Life from the Garden of Eden, the means to manifest beyond procreation. In Kabbalism this concept is referred to as Adam Kadmon, the primeval man, the underlying template for human embodiment. The concept of Adam Kadmon points out that the Tree of Life is mapped on the human body. Each of us is a Tree of Life in microcosm, constantly creating and being created in each instant, conduits for Akashic and embodied Earth energies. I see this with each of my clients as I look at their energy fields. Various aspects of their bodies report on their functions or struggles, their activity or lack thereof and whether or not they are in balance, out of balance or being a point of focus. The manifestation process does not duplicate nor override other energetic processes of the body such as the Chakra system or the healthy functions of Prana or Chi. I have seen over and over again the interconnection of all these systems, how they interact, are interdependent, and work best when in harmony with each other.
Each Sephirah, each circle called out on the Tree of Life is a step in the manifestation process. Like our blood, energy runs through them bringing nourishment and returning experience. The energy flow through the Tree of Life has since ancient times been seen as linear one Sephirah unfolding from the next in a strict cause and effect process. However, I have found this perspective to be a constraint of the human mind trying to understand a complex system and simplifying it unduly. Energy runs through the Tree of Life like water running downhill, splitting at the junctures to flow in two or more directions evenly, and then rejoining again. In this way the Sephiroth of the two outer pillars work interdependently, balancing each other, neither dependent nor subordinate to each other.
While the Kabbalistic tradition does not speak directly of Akasha, it does utilize the Akashics as part of its teachings. Like Chakras, each Sephiroth has a great many attributes including colors, elements, flowers, and animals. Each also have specific attributes which inform how we think about or experience the world whether this is through pure intellect or emotions or our senses. Students of Kabbalah seek direct experience of these things through meditations which lead them to ‘places’ which represent each Sephiroth in all of their aspects: Golden cities, orchards, fields full of golden light… Students following this practice spend several weeks per Sephiroth journeying to its place and learning directly about it from their experiences there. These places are in the Akashics.
As I’ve mentioned previously, the Akashics is far more than just the Akashic Library. It is the keeper of all knowledge which has ever been, a record of all that has ever happened and a great deal more. The Tree of Life is part of this and more. Just as my students journey to their own rooms, to the Temple of Life, and into the Library to study their soul book, my Kabbalah students journey to the Akashics to learn about each Sephiroth directly and through this practice to become better people and closer to their true and eternal nature. Through this study of the tree of life I teach my students how to manifest their goals, discover their blocks, and deepen their ability to live their best lives. Kabbalistic wisdom is far from complete and, as a living tradition concerning the nature of God or All That Is, I doubt it ever will be. Yet each of us is a small piece of divinity and so each of us has something to add to Kabbalah if only to acknowledge it exists.