The Esoteric Meaning of the Tetragrammaton

by Joshua Tilghman on March 23, 2014

Tetragrammaton Sefardi 271x300 The Esoteric Meaning of the TetragrammatonWestern religion has a terribly inaccurate and limited view of the body, soul, and spirit. Such a view has led to the church’s failure to properly portray and instruct how we advance in the kingdom of God. Jesus plainly stated God’s kingdom was within us (Luke: 17:21), and Paul teaches us that God dwells within us. We are His temple. Thus both God and His kingdom are found within us, and are both one harmonious relationship.

But what does this mean. It’s easy to quote scripture and say that God and His kingdom are in us, but how are we to really grasp this concept.

Breaking down the esoteric meaning of the Tetragrammaton can help.  The Tetragrammaton—YHVH—is symbolic of the manifestation of the Logos on the four planes below the highest. Each letter of the Tetragrammaton corresponds to one of the four planes. Let’s break down all the planes and then see how the Tetragrammaton relates to them.

As we discuss the planes below, please remember that it is through the physical plane that the outermost aspect of you is manifested while the highest planes contains the innermost part of you.

The Unmanifested

The highest and most innermost of the Self cannot be considered a plane. It cannot be expressed in words and is probably best termed as the “Absolute.” The Absolute (God the Father) is the only reality, the source of expression of the life and consciousness of the external universe with all its form/forms.

What is vitally important to understand, however, is that there is no external God. God can only be found within you, and that which is in your deepest innermost is God, for within you is also found the entire universe.

W.E. Channing, in The Perfect Life, stated:

“How little do we know of ourselves! How unjust we are to ourselves! We study everything else but the Divine Principle within our own persons…We need a new revelation—not of heaven or hell,—but of the Spirit within ourselves.”

The Celestial Plane

The Celestial plane is the first plane of the manifest God. Since it is the first manifestation of God, it is the plane of God the Son, the Higher Self, or the Christ. Jesus said the Son comes forth from the Father, just as the celestial plane flows forth from the unmanifested. Remember that we said earlier that YHVH is a symbol of the Logos outpouring to the four lower planes. From the Celestial Plane, the Christ comes forth as the Logos. By Logos we mean the “Divine creative energy” and consciousness of God. “Light” is also associated with the Celestial plane. From the celestial plane comes forth the first outpouring of the Logos (and light) and the beginning of the meaning of the Tetragrammaton.

The Spiritual Plane

The Spiritual plane is associated by the element of fire. It is also the realm of the Holy Spirit, which produces the wisdom nature, and in turn, is responsible for the higher emotion nature. Just as God the Son flows forth in the Celestial plane from God the Father, so does the Holy Spirit flow forth from God the Son into the Spiritual plane. St. Paul stated:

“…no man can say that Jesus is Lord, but by the Holy Ghost Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:3).

Augustine also stated:

“The Holy Spirit, by his influence and spiritual infusion, makes the earth conceive and bring forth the mortal Jesus [within you], who, as hanging from every tree, is the life and salvation of men.”

In other words, the Higher Self sanctifies and purifies the lower nature to bring forth the Christ-soul (Jesus). God the Son and God the Holy Spirit (wisdom and higher emotion) are both needed for this process.

The Spiritual plane (fire and Holy Spirit) is represented by the first Hebrew letter in the Tetragrammaton, the Yod (YHVH). Hebrew scholars and mystics state that the Yod’s corresponding element is fire, just as the Holy Spirit is associated with such in the Christian New Testament.

The Mental Plane

The mental Plane is actually broken into two parts, the higher and the lower. The higher mental plane is the true seat of our individuality. The higher mind acts through the higher mental plane. The lower mind, the seat of our personality and ego, acts through the lower mental plane. According to Gaskell’s Dictionary of Scripture and myth:

The Mental plane “…is the plane of the creation of the forms on the lower planes. The prototypal ideas emanating from the planes above take form in mental matter on the mental plane, and are from thence projected outwardly on the astral and physical planes; in other words, the mental forms are re-embodied on the lower planes in the matter of the planes, thus constituting the material universe.”

In the Tetragrammaton, the first Heh (YHVH) stands for the manifestation of the Logos on this plane. According to Hebrew mystics, the first Heh symbolizes the element of air. Air is also traditionally associated with the mental plane in the East.

The Astral Plane

The lower human emotional body is expressed through the astral plane. In the astral plane is expressed the animalistic side of our personality, consisting of desires, urges, passions, and impulses. In the Tetragrammaton, the Vav (YHVH) stands for the manifestation of the Logos on this plane. Its elemental association is water. In the East water has always symbolized the astral plane and desire. Also in the east this plane is called Kama, meaning “desire.”

The Physical Plane

Not much needs to be said of the physical plane. You experience it directly every day through the senses. Hebrew mystics state the last Heh (YHVH) in the Tetragrammaton stands for the element of earth, or the physical realm.

The Meaning of the Tetragrammaton in Context

Now that we have gone over all the planes, what does YHVH really stand for in context of the scripture? Most Christian scholars believe that Elohim (God) stands for God’s universal aspect, while YHVH stands for God’s special relationship with his people Israel. This is true within the scriptures, but these same Christian scholars fail to understand the esoteric meaning of an Israelite, and so fail to put the Tetragrammaton in its greater significance. An Israelite is someone who has disciplined him/herself mentally by dedication to the things of the spirit. Hence, an Israelite can be found within any race or ethnic group. A careful reading of the Torah shows God’s mercy extended to even the Egyptians who wanted to travel with the Israelites and so discipline themselves under YHVH (by Moses’ Law). Thus YHVH is used for God’s special relationship with anyone who treads the spiritual path and who has made advances within the kingdom morally and ethnically, thus purifying the lower soul.

Livets tre 300x300 The Esoteric Meaning of the TetragrammatonThe true meaning of the Tetragrammaton then stands for the Heavenly man (Adam Kadmon in Kabbalah), or Christ incarnate in Christian mysticism, when the involution cycle of the logos has been completed and the lower man perfected by the higher! Adam Kadom, the true archetypal man, is the complete manifestation of God incarnate, symbolized by the Tetragrammaton.

A Little More about Body, Soul, and Spirit

So how does God dwell in us? Is He in our bodies, our soul, or spirit? What’s the difference?

The truth is that God is actually a part of ALL of them.

A Western view of the Judeo-Christian scriptures has traditionally taught that only some people—the ones who become saved—have God inhabiting them. This is ridiculously false. God revealed to Moses, “I AM THAT I AM.” A direct translation would be that God told Moses, I will become that which I become. God is in the process of becoming, through you! And ALL of your body, soul, and spirit is involved in this powerfully majestic process! This is simply the process of BEING.

Spirit is the energizing mechanism that allows everything to be. The soul is the potential to be anything, and it is through the body/bodies that this potential is expressed!

2 Corinthians 6:16 states:

“…for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them, and I will be their God…”

Paul compares the living God within us to a temple. Remember, the Tabernacle and the temples of the Old Testament were only types and shadows of a deeper reality. This deeper reality is us! We are the Tabernacle and temple.

We have already quoted Paul in 2 Cor. 6:16 above. I purposely left off the beginning of that scripture since it will become more relevant now. I have bolded that portion I left off earlier.

And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols, for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them, and I will be their God…”

In the Old Testament idols were a symbol for the mental-emotional conditions which were mistaken notions of the object of life. These mental-emotional conditions need to be purified in order to advance in the Kingdom of God (found within us). Paul is giving us the formula for this advancement so that the Christ incarnate could become a reality in all of us and the Tetragrammaton manifested in man.

The Jews considered the Tetragrammaton too holy to pronounce, and they may very well have their good reasons. But esoterically, the Tetragrammaton is holy because it is a rare and sacred phenomenon that YHVH fully manifest in mankind. If you believe in a historical Jesus, then you might say that He was one such man!


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