The Kabbalistic Tree of Life and the Tree in the Book of Revelations Compared

by Joshua Tilghman on April 20, 2013

Kabbalah Tree of LifeEven though a casual reading on the tree of life in Revelations might conjure up a mystical tree shrouded with magical leaves and fruit, it’s really a symbol for consciousness. We can draw this truth out by comparing certain verses from Revelations with the overall theme of the Kabbalistic tree of life.

The Kabbalistic tree of life is comprised of three pillars. All three pillars are interconnected, but it is the middle pillar that will become the most relevant to our discussion. The middle pillar of the Kabbalistic tree carries the same concept as the tree of life mentioned in Revelations: ultimately flows of consciousness. We’ll study the Kabbalistic tree of life in detail first. Then we’ll take a careful look at some scriptures from Revelations.

A break-down of the Kabbalistic tree of life

The left pillar on the Kabbalistic tree is called Judgment. The right pillar is called Mercy. Since balance is needed between judgment and mercy, the middle pillar is called Mildness.

Don’t worry, we’re going to come to understand what Judgment, Mercy and Mildness actually mean for the human experience in a moment. But first I just want to get a few Kabbalistic terms out on the table. I’ll break them down for you in an easy to understand picture in a bit.

The most important thing for you to know right now is that everything we are about to discuss in the left, right, and middle pillars are different manifestations of energy. The energies in the left and right pillars coalesce to form the middle pillar. This energy is mental and emotional energy. These mental-emotional energies are called sephiroth. There are ten sephiroth on the Kabbalistic tree of life. Three sephiroth comprise the left pillar, four the middle, and three the right.

The left pillar of Judgment is made up of the sephiroth of:

  •  Understanding
  •  Severity of judgment
  • Glory

To Cabbalist, the above are considered feminine / negative.

The right pillar of Mercy is made up of the sephiroth of:

  • Wisdom
  • Love / mercy
  • Victory

To Cabbalist, the above are considered masculine / positive.

Diametric energies (positive and negative) are responsible for manifesting all aspects of the conscious experience we term life. When these energies commingle, the conscious experience unfolds. This is what creation is. This energy is expressed and felt through your thoughts and emotions. These energies, along with the collective consciousness of all souls, help shape the physical world at the bottom of the Kabbalistic tree of life. In this way it is similar to the law of attraction which states that our thoughts and emotions create our reality. This entire process will be explained better through the middle pillar of Mildness.

 The middle pillar

Kabbalistic Tree of LifeLogically, the Kabbalistic tree of life will have a middle pillar which serves as the center and balance of the masculine and feminine energies that birth creation and the conscious experience. Overall, consider the middle pillar as the manifestation of consciousness.

The middle pillar of Mildness is made up of the sephiroth of:

  • Crown (source)
  • Da’at (union of feminine understanding and masculine wisdom) – Da’at is not truly a sephira, but it is important to mention for reasons discussed in a moment.
  • Beauty (union of feminine severity of judgment and masculine love / mercy)
  • Foundation (union of feminine glory and masculine victory)
  • Kingdom (manifested physical world)

The top of the middle pillar, Crown or Kether, can be considered God, Source, the higher self, or the primordial point. Psychic energy manifests from this aspect of the self and permeates to the lower mental, emotional, and physical planes. The consciousness of Crown is a super-consciousness that can never be confined or completely expressed within the confines of the human brain.  Even the total energies of Understanding and Wisdom, the top two sephiroth of the left and right pillar, are too much for the physical brain. However, sparks of this energy can be expressed through consciousness in the physical realm. We will speak about accessing these sparks in a moment.

Binah Tree of LifeAccording to Rabbi Wolf in Practical Kabbalah: A guide to Jewish Wisdom and Everyday  Life, the energies of the top left and right pillars, Wisdom and Understanding, can be compared to the creative right brain and the analytical left brain. Masculine wisdom is all knowing, but feminine understanding brings tangibility and direction to wisdom. Together these energies coalesce in the middle pillar of consciousness to express Da’at. Da’at then, is the union of Wisdom and Understanding and constitutes knowing. To really know something, there must be a mental and emotional response. In other words, when the energies of Wisdom and Understanding fuse, it sets the stage for emotion. This leads us to the other sephira on the right and left pillars. But before we go there, you can think of Wisdom, Understanding, and Da’at as that which takes place on the mental plane. As Rabbi Wolf would explain it, it is unembodied thought. However, sparks of this mental energy is expressed through the physical brain. The more balanced a person is, the more this mental energy can be manifested in the physical world. 

The next sephira on the middle pillar is Beauty. Just as this sephira of Beauty sits in the center of the Kabbalistic tree of life, so does the heart of man, and the sephira of Beauty is closely associated with the heart because it represents the divine union of severity of judgment with love and mercy, the middle energies on the left and right pillars. True mercy is essentially higher or cosmic love. But it must be balanced and restrained by judgment. As we all know, unconditional mercy would manifest itself as a nightmare on the physical realm if it were not balanced by judgment. In fact, an unbalanced manifestation of either of these energies is dangerous to the individual and humanity as a whole. Beauty then, is the proper balance of the two. It is an internal emotion.

The next sephira on the middle pillar is known as Foundation. It is the divine union of victory and glory, our purely emotional nature and our intellect. Neither one could truly exist without the other. Emotionally, victory is the instinctual passions and desires of the group soul. It is part of the subconscious, which expresses itself when combined with glory, or the intellect of man. The divine union of our purely emotional nature and the intellect is the foundation of the physical body and world.

The last sephira on the middle pillar is Kingdom. This is the physical world where the soul finds its expression through consciousness within the boundaries of linear time and space. It is a conglomeration of all the other sephiroth we have discussed. It is more restrictive than the upper worlds, however it also provides for a unique opportunity for the freedom of choice and conscious expression. It is the final house for all the soul’s unique conscious flows, and the opportunity affords us the gift of discovering new territory and ways for the soul to express itself.

The true aim of practicing Kabbalah and using the tree of life as a tool for personal development is to take the higher consciousness of the upper worlds and bring it down the world of Kingdom, where it is expressed through man. In other words, it is a means to bring heaven to earth and God to man.

The tree of life in the Book of Revelations

We may now wrap this post up by comparing what we’ve learned to some important verses from the Book of Revelations. Since we’ve talked so much about pillars, let’s start with a statement by Jesus in Revelations 3:12:

“Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall no more go out…”

By overcoming, Jesus simply means transcending (not escaping) the limitations in the world of duality and materialism. Without a shift in consciousness—Apostle Paul refers to is as the renewing of your mind—you cannot become this pillar. There will be no true freedom and peace in your life, and you, as an individual, won’t be free to express the higher soul. If we are honest with ourselves, most of us have serious attachments in this world of duality. These attachments are simply imbalance perspectives. These imbalanced perspectives manifest in the form of relationships or the desire for unnecessary materialistic gain. But by releasing consciousness from these attachments through the proper balance of the sephiroth, you become free to pursue who you are meant to be in a healthy and balanced manner. Perfect balance and equilibrium is the key to becoming the pillar in the temple of God that Jesus speaks of.

We should never think of cosmic energies of good or evil, but rather negative or positive. Depending on how balanced the energies are within you will determine either a negative or positive conscious experience. 

In Revelations 2:7 Jesus also states:

 “…To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God” (Revelations 2:7).

As you can see, the tree of life in Revelations is centered in the paradise of God. The paradise of God is perfect peace and equilibrium of all the cosmic energies that make up the upper and lower worlds. It is a similar concept to the middle pillar of Mildness in the Kabbalistic tree of life.

Let’s look at two more verses from the last chapter in the Book of Revelations:

 “And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations” (Revelations 22:2).

The river spoken of above is the river of consciousness (flow of consciousness) from the higher worlds to the physical world. . 

Gaskell’s Dictionary of Scripture and Myth defines rivers as such:

River:  A symbol of the Divine Life forth-pouring from above, and passing downwards through every plane…”

The throne of God symbolizes Crown at the top of the middle pillar in the Kabbalistic tree of life.

This also explains why the Ezekiel temple has a river of healing waters that flow from underneath the altar and bring healing to everything as it flows outward. This healing is the balance of cosmic energies within our soul, which finds its final expression on the Kingdom or physical plane.

Kundalini Yoga Practice and Belief

Just as the Kabbalistic tree of life has three pillars, the kundalini yoga system has three main channels that contain the flow of prana (subtle psychic energies) and ascent of kundalini in the body. Sushumna is the central channel that runs from the base chakra to the crown chakra. It can be compared to the middle pillar of the tree of life, and it also represents a higher conscious experience when the energies in the left and right channels are balanced. The left channel is known as Ida. It is feminine and is considered negative in polarity. Pingala is known as the right channel. It is masculine and is considered to be positive in polarity. These channels are also compared to rivers, containing the same imagery as we get form the Book of Revelations.

In my next post we will be discussing how the Book of Revelations is a spiritual journey towards higher consciousness. It will also incorporate information on kundalini and chakras. This is a busy time of the year for me so it may take me a while to get the next few post out. Your patience is appreciated.

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Joe Bill April 20, 2013 at 2:48 pm

Very nicely done. I think an interesting question is why in the yogic system the channels are reversed in polarity. I have some ideas on that, but I\’d be curious to know what you have found.

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Joshua Tilghman April 20, 2013 at 3:02 pm

Joe,

Thanks for commenting. I have found it interesting that in the Yogic system it is emphasized that subtle energy must go from the base of the spine to the third ventricle and then back down again, completing a circle. Likewise, the Kabbalistic tree of life represents energy that descends from the heavenly realms and then the ascension of consciousness back up. Therefore the tree of life is a symbol for both the heavenly man, Adam Kadmon, and the earthly or material man in which resides the ego. Both are two sides of the same coin then. This would seem to agree with theosophy which teaches that matter and energy are different expressions of consciousness. Taking this line of thought even further, even science understands that matter and energy are also two sides of the same coin. E=MC2.

As far as the channels being reversed, I will look into it. Shoot me an e-mail if you ever want to discuss it.

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motla68 April 20, 2013 at 3:20 pm

Through realizing the christ consciousnous of our own court, conviction(judgment) works (center) faith(mercy) to which we glorify the creator we are then forgiven and redeemed to which we are
rewarded with abundance. ref: Canon 992

Hosea 4:6 , if you abandon him then he abandons you.

Eternal life is the spiritual legacy we leave behind, we are now experiencing the jubilee of our grandfathers that we learn from and use for ascension.

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anny April 21, 2013 at 11:06 am

Hi Joshua,

Again a lot of information. I have read it twice now but I will have to read it again in order to take it all in.

You rightfully conclude that there are ten sefirot, but then you break it down into three on the right pillar, three on the left one and five in the middle; that however makes eleven. You have overlooked the fact that Daät is not one of the sefirot (it does not have a number) and as such it is passed by on the journey from sefira 3, bina (understanding), to sefira 4 love, mercy. Therefore it is also not the result of the commingling of wisdom and understanding alone but the end result of the whole experience journey.

I was a bit surprised to see the meaning of the fifth sefira described as severe judgment. This might of course be an interpretation but I have always seen it described as power, strength. It is called gevurah in Hebrew and in the dictionary it also says courage. A gibur is a hero. I am sure this also fits into the picture. The seventh sefira, netsach, can also mean eternity. Often both names are mentioned.

What is interesting, and maybe coincidental (?), is that four of these names are mentioned in the closing part of the Our Father prayer in Hebrew: ..for thine are the kingdom, the power and the glory till eternity (is that how it goes in English? I do not remember). What do you think?

As far as the middle pillar is concerned and also the pillar mentioned in Revelations 3, could this also be a symbol for the spine, just as the rod of Moses, along which the kundalini rises?

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Joshua Tilghman April 21, 2013 at 12:13 pm

Anny,

Yes, you are right. Da’at is not considered one of the sephira. That is why earlier in the article I mentioned the middle pillar has four. I can see where it might be confusing to someone they way I included Da’at in the article, but I found it important to place it the way I did because I believe that the union of Wisdom and Understanding sets the stage for emotion. To me this is extremely important. I have set a side-note underneath to let people know it isn’t a true sephira. End the end, we must remember that these are just names and concepts to explain a complicated manifestation of conscious phenomena.

You’re comment about the Father prayer is astute. Some Kabbalists have stated that Jesus himself was versed in Kabbalah to have said such a thing. For me it just means that all this spiritual knowledge once came from the same source.

I also agree with you about the tree of life in Revelations and the spine. I am going to include more about this in my next post.

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Joe Bill April 21, 2013 at 1:00 pm

I believe that the Hebrew prayer is a sort of elemental invocation designed to produce balance since it tends to follow the sign of the cross.

I always saw the seven seals as being the seven chakras in the Eastern system, although there are plenty of diagrams out there that combine both the eastern and Kabbalistic systems.

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anny April 22, 2013 at 7:40 am

Hello Joe,

Thank you for your comment on the meaning of the Hebrew prayer. I did not yet know this explanation. Can you how you came to it? I like this very much.

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Joe Bill April 22, 2013 at 11:31 am

I do a lot of research into various mystical branches. In the wiccan tradition, and Indian traditions, the four directions are very important which are usually referred to by the arch angels. In a sense, the four directions are a cross.

When studying Kabbalah and different quarters of what amounts to Solomonic magical systems, I learned about the Kabbalistic cross which reminded me a lot of the cross in the church. When you look at the keywords: For thine–most likely keter–is the kingdom–lower sefira–so heaven and earth basically, the power—geburah and the glory–chesed–so masculine and feminine–forever, so let it be–or amen three times which is a magical construction based on Kabbalah and also some wiccan traditions “so mote it be”. It relates to the tree, but also the tree in a person.

anny April 22, 2013 at 7:37 am

Hi Joshua,

Thanks for your reply. Indeed, you did mention that Daät is not a sefira, I completely overlooked that, sorry.

You mention that the union of Wisdom and understanding sets the stage for emotion. Of course! Now I see why Daät is put in that place in a transparent manner. I think we see here the backside of the tree of life which is the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. When the still divine Adam Kadmon divides itself into a masculine and a female side (the word rib is a translation of the Hebrew word tsela, which also means side) then there is a growth from masculine wisdom to female understanding that it is necessary to eat the fruits of the tree of knowledge, which in its turn leads to the journey of descent into emotions and matter. The front side of the tree just shows this descent in its own way.

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anny April 23, 2013 at 6:46 am

Joe,

Thank you for your explanation. I love it when things come together from all different sides.
I also had already seen the link between tree and cross and between human and cross but the then obvious link between human and tree has eluded me until now. Another trinity?

You also mention the Hebrew word amen, written in the characters/numbers 1-40-50. This describes the whole journey of consciousness from the original oneness through the whole scala of the experiences in the world of time and emotions into the reentry into the world of oneness with total awareness.

Thanks,

Anny

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Paula Kempf September 27, 2013 at 1:08 am

Joshua always does an awesome job 🙂 I am happy to have been led by the Holy Spirit to this Blog 🙂

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Huldah January 18, 2014 at 4:24 pm

Very Interesting.

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Ted July 11, 2014 at 2:00 pm

I am trying to find the source of the image of the Tree with the man (Adam) imposed on it. Does anyone have a source of this image

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Scott Eremchuk December 13, 2015 at 9:28 pm

I would love it if I could send you some of my poetry as it seems to touch on these things

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Joshua Tilghman December 22, 2015 at 7:45 pm

Feel free to do so Scott.

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Joshua Tilghman April 25, 2013 at 9:22 pm

Joe,

Thanks for the interesting comment. There’s a lot of wisdom packed in there when you study it carefully.

Reply

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