Even 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:
- Severity of judgment
To Cabbalist, the above are considered feminine / negative.
The right pillar of Mercy is made up of the sephiroth of:
- Love / mercy
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
Logically, 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.
According 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.