esothemes

Reflections, revelations and proposals esoteric: Themes to elucidate the depths of human potential.

Magic, Cultivation and the Design of a working Occult System

pexels-photo-2881262

This blog is based on the synthesis of magic and esoteric cultivation. The strength of the former depends on progress in the latter, but the reverse can be said; that cultivation is smoother and more balanced when there is healthy magical application. If magic is an athletic event, cultivation represents all the basic strength, stamina and dexterity training that goes into improving one’s game.

In the context of these snippets of commentary, the two occult expressions are complemtary and make for a more potent and balanced occult exploration and practice. This blog is also based on the premise that  traditions of cultivation and/or magic, don’t always directly apply to present-day conditions. Magic and cultivation practices evolve, and either adapt and strengthen in the face of historic and social change, or become corrupt or diluted to degrade into a caricature of what they used to be. On the other hand the occult principles themselves upon which the various approaches are based cover a broad spectrum and are timeless to boot. As such, they reflect the perennial potentials of human nature as opposed to some form of cultural ownership.

Thus, while this blog is not about socio-political issues, the analysis and design of theory and application keep the modern-day context in mind, while holding the history of traditional dynamics as a reference. This may not seem obvious as I describe the various aspects of theory and practice as I understand and express it, but it is a view held after years of exploration, cultivation and practice. Disagreement will always exist among occultists on such matters I think, but each probably realizes in some way that occultism weakens with weak and wishy washy beliefs and attitudes. It may even be one reason why seasoned occultists engage less in debate than beginners who are trying to figure things out. Then again ego drama is a sign that said occultist is probably not as grounded in application as they may think.

The mature (psychologically, psychically and psycho-energetically) occultist neither needs nor wants to be the focus of moralistic critique, because they know who they are, what they are doing and why. Persistent disrespectful critique should be taken as a form of hostility, but the response to it need not be a return of hostility, especially magical hostility. The mature psyche has a stable center, after all, and carries no chip on their shoulder. Such an individual does not repress or deride emotion and feeling, knowing its unhealthy and hence unwise.

The mature occultist understands that construction/deconstruction are two sides of the same coin, but they also look deeper into the givens of reality, the nature of life and death, of consciousness and life force, and the multi- sided nature of the occult experience- an encounter being either an entity, an abstract force of existence, or an aspect of our being.   are absolute, or that fate is inevitable regardless of our desires.

In my view, occultism is not for the masses in its advanced forms. In terms of basics, however, I would recommend cultivation and magic to anyone interested. Take it easy, play with it, and you won’t stress unless you push too far- even if that doesn’t seem much. Magic awakens and delivers patterns of consciousness and life force through the body-mind. Each individual has their own disposition and constitution regarding occult dynamics, and adaptation is not always smooth or even a thing. Forces are awakened, then dissipated and banished or absorbed and integrated. If we ignore what we stirr up, even if life force in ourselves, it can come back to bite us.

The primary application I see for the magic to be discussed here is similar to the application of runes. They represent fundamental mysteries of creation. As such they are keys to the dynamics of existential causality, although there are so many nuances to wise- not just skilled or empowered- application. As much as I used to wish it was the case, quick and easy magic- unless it involves the expression of basic mundane awareness states that still can muster magical force. Most of us have the psyche’s version of an immune system, and are only affected by occultism beyond the day to day variety, of people just wanting things to go smoothly in their lives.

Modern magic is usually defined in terms of esoteric means used to influence, if not define, the course of events. Technically, everything we experience is an event. Even if we manifest an object in front of a crowd, that is still an event. We don’t make the object in magic. We make the event. Events don’t have material qualities, like objects do. So we can more easily alter the form of reality when focused on the changes occuring at the level of event.

This installment is an update, however, for a reason. Everything I described represents principles that I sought to weave into a magical system of my own design, using existing traditions as reference, and three different systems of esoteric awareness and expression as pillars of its function. The system came together more out of a series of synchronous events and revelations that kept me going back to it as a kind of experiment as well as a real ambition.

I have been off the blog in order to practice the material about which I have written up to that point. This involved the third and fourth of the ten steps of cultivation delineated in the chapter of the Sepher Yetsirah on the Ten Sephirot Belimah. As I was addressing the challenge I realized that the first four steps of the cultivation process lead to potential that could be applied to my experimental system instead of using the Hebrew alphabet and its correspondences as a context of cultivation and magic. This was especially true of the Ouroboros system I had designed due to the similarities with the treatment of sacred space and circulation of magical energies, not to mention the use of phonetic symbol glyphs with coherent meanings and multiple correspondences.

I’m not advertizing this system, as I call it. I will compile my notes, diagrams and analyses into a book, but I am not sure about what I want to do with such a book at this stage other than use it myself. At this time, however, I am consolidating the meaning of its patterns and refining it into greater semantic coherence and bringing the system to life. The more the system makes sense mythically and esoterically, and the more it sustains a coherent internal logic compatible with paradox, the less it will leak magical potency and be prone to fail in its intended functions. So I will be discussing the theory and practices around this system, as opposed to interpreting a translation that itself is based on interpretation. I will get back to that at some point, but for now I think this will be more fun.

Blog Reboot: New Path, New Material and Getting Occult Issues Out of the Way

Welcome to a new beginning; a reboot that in principle is the first and last for this blog. In practice, who knows? All I can say is that my intention is to be consistent from now on. I have tons of cool material to back my claim, and the passion to make it stick. In fact, one of the reasons I have been on “hiatus” is because I have been busy working on pathways of occult possibility and immersed in testing and refining theory into practice.

So far, this blog has been about esoteric themes in a rather general and theoretical sense; about principles and points of view. I consider the latter important in esoteric cultivation. Often emphasis is on the mechanics of practice, to the detriment of the meaning of the main current of what works and why in such matters. In addition, many practitioners have been jaded by compromised if not crushed ambitions as their journey wore on. This is, in my view, especially true of twentieth century ceremonial magic (aka “magick”), in its many popularized offshoots of the light spectrum and its right vs. left psycho politics. Indeed the modern media- meant to be a refreshing font of elucidation and enlightenment- has ended up a quagmire of processed bullshit, tart, bitter and sugar-coated in its marketed variety.

As a trained and published scientist- PhD in experimental physics- I attest that occultism is not an empirical field of knowledge and experience. You can explain some occult phenomena with the existing scientific models, stretched to the breaking point of theoretical speculation, but still within the realm of possibility. You also use reason in occult practice, just as you should in science. However, an occultist does not employ the (empirical) scientific method, even though it may appear that way due to the rigor and attention to detail both types of theory and practice demand. There is no such thing as “occult science”, in my view. Science reveals objectified models of “what” and “how”. The occult is concealed in functional ambiguity, starting from one’s own fundamental sense of “why”.

Word-play aside, a notable difference between the two is that science is about objective perception and thinking, even in its most arcane-like theoretical manifestations, while occultism is about subjective experience, even when it is shared. This is why it is also known as “esoteric” (internal) and “meta-physical” (beyond physical objectivism). One can practice science and occultism separately, or used scientific models in occultism. One can use esoteric skills in scientific exploration as well, but that does not make it scientific practice. Occultism is not quantifiable, after all, and that is the hallmark of the scientific method- hand in hand with objectified mentation.

The above are topics of interest to me, but will not be part of the reboot of this blog. I bid them a fond farewell with this summary, and am moving to the next step. This involves expressing the products of several years of exploration, and refinement without second guessing or debating the good, the bad and the ugly of it. Not to mention refining is ongoing, and nothing is absolutely written in a diamond hard medium. The process, in other words, is far from reaching its conclusion.

Esoteric accomplishment is meant to result in wisdom, which implies cultivating the understanding and skill to affect reality without a material medium, to affect events, to affect minds and bodies (including one’s own of course), to affect destinies, and to reach levels of awareness that encompass a maturation of all- relatively speaking- one’s existence truly is. Technically, maturing in such wisdom will transform an individual into a boon for the world as well as themselves. That’s how it’s supposed to be, in my view at least.

In practice, the ideal is not congruent with the real, even taking into account the exceptions. Namely, esoteric exploration and its application is not one thing. There are many paths, and every one of them requires commitment and making space in one’s life. It doesn’t mean you either give up everything or don’t bother trying. It means, consider your returns to be a function of your investment in terms of commitment- energy, time and one’s own sense of self. Also consider that truly empowering esoteric cultivation results in deep changes in the psyche, that must be faced along with every nook and cranny of former self being exposed at some point. The changes tend to also pop up as events in one’s personal life, but also in the stage of the world at large. The latter is still a reflection of one’s true (greater) psyche- far more than just the workings of a little brain, no matter how complex and miraculous it is touted.

I used to be concerned about sharing information that might affect the recipients of it in ways they don’t understand. I now know that life in general does this; that most of us grow and change, evolve and devolve in directions we do not or cannot foresee let alone choose consciously. At a deeper level, however, there is more going on. Any opportunity to make that deeper level conscious and work in it and with it; recognizing it as a layer of one’s own existential identity, is something to be pursued by those who know where their interests lie.

Thus I have decided to organize specific information, regarding specific topics and practices that I have structured, explored and refined for personal application. Make no mistake; this is not a teaching of any sort. It is more a thought experiment in occult possibility. Herein I will share information on Esoteric Alchemy (Eastern and Western), Hermetic themes, Solomonic conjuring, Runes, Yoga/Tantra and other topics of occult interest. There is much ground to cover, so I may not be as thorough as if I were actually teaching the material. This thought experiment will present basics without claiming a thing, but expressing in a fashion of “as if it were true”. Even the well-read armchair occultist, if not the reader of populist literature will recognize most of the themes I plan to share. There is the Sepher Yetsirah (Book of Shaping) for starters, and the Yoga Aphorisms of Patañjali, and the “Goetic Art” of the Lesser Key of Solomon. There is also some interesting restructuring of Geomancy, Runic script and Taoist binary symbolism (such the Hexagrams of the Yi Ching) fused into a single system of symbol magic and contemplation.

The material is anything but purist, but not purely eclectic- made up or the product of media fantasy- either. It is an expression of basic esoteric principles I have tested over the years and continue to refine through all the opportunities and challenges life offers me. My experiment is in sharing it without expectation, or desire for some sort of payback or even recognition. Frankly there is no need, because the material does not lend itself as second hand information. Unless one works with and owns the material something will likely backfire. The reason is that its all tied to deep existential forces, sentient and impersonal that are not objective. Thus, like the quantum systems populist new age mystics like to use as examples, the observer cannot step apart from the observed.

Note I am not saying I need to authorize anything. This is an experiment so there are no guarantees, and free of the luxury of being credited, aside from the content originating from some sort of established tradition, and adapted to my own disposition and needs. It is simply that I consider real occult knowledge to be interactive, and not simply a dead pattern of information. I would say the stories of occultists having “bad endings” or hard lives have roots in a variety of causes. Some are as they should be; challenges of growth. Others are expressions of folly that can just as easily be avoided with a bit of caution and common sense. I don’t believe any occultism is more dangerous than the attitude of the one involved in dabbling or trafficking in it.

All that being said, we start the new material with my translation of the Hebrew text Sepher Yetsirah. This is no canonical text, but a modern experimental version, compiled from existing edits by Dr. A. Peter Hayman. He calls it The Earliest Recoverable Text, but by no means considers it anything but an exercise in scholarship rendering a possibility of such a text. It is, in my view, a useful attitude for an aspirant of esoteric cultivation to have toward such a work. The aim of my translation was also an experiment to answer a question: How well does the information in this text fit in the context of a manual of occult accomplishment? Is the manual of “Shaping”- or “Creation/Formation” if one prefers- a manual of magic? If so, what are its secrets? Suffice it to say that I have yet to see an interpretation of this work quite like the one I have rendered. So stay tuned, and we shall begin the beginning about which we elaborated in this post…next time.

Inner Court II: The Alchemy of Tov and Raa (Part One)

rene-muller-c-YKqs76ot8-unsplash

The alchemy of tov and  raa (or mayim and esh if one prefers to reference the elemental principles), is based on the workings of the previous pair of disciplines, just as those are based on the preliminary instructions of the Manual of Shaping (Sepher Yetsirah, or SY for short). We still have to discuss the Outer Court, but once we get a handle on these first four disciplines, our foundation will allow for a more condensed discourse.

Let’s start with a recap of disciplines one and two. It is important to remember that the disciplines have a specific structure, comprised of two interlocking parts. The power and the mystery of the discipline propel the first part by defining the fundamental principle or element of the discipline. In the second part the formerly defined principle is itself the foundation of outcome or action the principle represents. This structure comprises the framework of each discipline, which precedes the contemplative focus on AIN, which is the foundation awareness state of engagement with the material.

To cut a long story short, the mind of the aspirant focuses on the principle of AChD (translated as self-reflection) in addition to its clarifying dynamics of primacy and causality, to enter into relationship with the vibration of ALHIM ChIIM. The result of this relationship is identification of and with the mind-frame that activates the disciplines that follow (RVCh HQVDSh). In practice the contemplative state based on AIN as a paradox of existence and itself a mantra, brings one to embody the wisdom of the first discipline in practice, and induce the consecrating awareness to awaken within one’s consciousness.

The second discipline applies the number power (ShThIM) of distinction, pairing and divergence to separate the mind-frame of vital force based on breath sensation from the subjective frame of self-reflective contemplation, from which it is extracted. The number is clarified as the result or effect of the former discipline’s actualizing potential. At the end of the day, the aspirant has an established sense of consecrating awareness in relation to an encircling living environmental sense emergent from it. This is established in the form of the four pillars or winds of the quarters of the compass. Once this I-Thou relationship is forged between self and the surrounding environmental space, one is ready for the third discipline.

In the third discipline ShLSh represents the benevolent power of wealth, increase and established that allows one to secure a fortuitous state of affairs akin to a sturdily weaved wall of a hut capable of withstanding the whimsy of weather variances. The third power is an extension of the second, just as the second is an extension of the first (as attested by its mystery of AChRITh). The powers of benevolent increase clarified by structural integrity and functionality define the awareness of the environmental medium (symbolized by the waters MIM). This environmental awareness is founded on the distinction between self-awareness and the sensed vitality of environmental presence. We can consider it the medium linking the two, something that is as formless and void as the reality prior to the divine creation described in the first verses of the Torah.

We work with this essence, realized through AIN-based contemplation, like a builder works with mud and clay and shape it into a fertile enclosure like a pleasure garden around us. The bottom line is that we are establishing at this stage the medium of our sacred space as a natural and functional dynamic similar to the Edenic Garden of the book of Genesis within which the first humans found themselves. This is a secure and guaranteed positive operation- if done correctly.

The fourth discipline, however, goes beyond the bounds of the third. So much so, that it can be considered as a process mired in uncertainty and risk. The pragmatic interpretations of the conventional renderings of tov and raa are function and dysfunction. Then the fourth discipline is something akin to a trial as opposed to a natural outcome of the previous. This makes sense if one considers that transcending the power of benevolent increase and fortuitous functionality, cannot happen with more of the same. On the other hand, this in no way marks the fourth discipline as one of trial and tribulation, because raa has two meanings, the above, and that of friend and companion.

The argument might be that the second meaning contradicts our context of paired meanings. Certainly, the meaning of function does not pair with that of friend as it does with the meaning of dysfunction. It may not pair the same way, but it still pairs. Nobody said the pairs had to be opposites, just juxtaposed. They can be complementary, like the meanings of first and last or cause and effect. Getting such a distinction is why the text emphasizes contemplation, because that is the kind of revelation such focus offers.

When we see past the uncertainty, we realize that the third discipline is something that comes naturally with practice. With the fourth, however, we need something else or it will go awry. This something else (not specified explicitly in the text by any means) is the power of grace, a power directly connected to our Hallowing spirit RVCh HQVDSh itself an iteration of the divine name ALHIM ChIIM.

In truth, the issue only arises if our practice is mechanical and devoid of deeper level (contemplation activated) intuitive understanding. In mystical understanding there is no becoming God and no submission to God. The first is egoistic misapprehension bordering on profanity and the second stifling religious dogma. Yet the reasoning mind does not easily distinguish an alternative to these options. If we cannot slip past our conditioning that locks us within conceptual limits then RO does indeed represent dysfunction and its actualization is anything but fortuitous. Hebrew myth, however, does happen to allude to a third alternative, albeit one representing exceptional cases. This is the notion of walking with God.

Thus, we can understand the poles of the third and fourth disciplines as those of natural (fortuitous) self-sufficiency and divine collaboration (not necessarily dependency). It is through divine collaboration that the aspirant can move beyond their previous definitions of self and existence without sacrifice or corruption. The Covenant, upon which these disciplines are based, moreover, includes the ability of the aspirant to progress autonomously, and viva divine relationship.

It is crucial to keep in mind that both tov and raa are rendered as mysteries and clarifications of their respective number powers. They are not meant to be interpreted in isolation from the latter. The complementation of number power and mystery, therefore, greatly aids in making sense of each discipline, especially the otherwise problematic fourth sephirah.

Once again the material has proven beyond the scope of a single post. Be that as it may, the alchemy described in part one is that of principles underlying practices. In the next installment options of the latter will be addressed, in addition to a much needed clarification of the difference between the divine collaboration of the fourth discipline in relation to the power and mystery of the first, which is also a divine reference frame.

Inner Court II: The Mystery of Raa- Part Two

island during golden hour and upcoming storm

Photo by Johannes Plenio on Pexels.com

Let’s begin Part II with the verse of the fourth discipline- the transliterated original and my English rendering below:

ARBO ASh MMIM ChQQ VChTzB BH KSA KBVD VKL TzBA MRVM ShKK KThVB OShH MLAKIV RVChVTh

 ARBO (Four) defined Fire from Waters, and sculpted with it a throne of impact [glorious and/or burdensome], and every host from on high it (the Fire) tamed: The prescribed (Fire) made Winds (of the Quarters) its representatives.

To review, the number power is the primary dynamic of each discipline. This power, in this rendering, literally makes the discipline happen for the aspirant. It isn’t something personified, and it isn’t simply the mind of the aspirant, but the power of a revelation. The philsophical measure or path of understanding of that revelation is its depth or mystery, itself a subject of contemplation. We have elaborated on the name ARBO semantically, esoterically and as a letter equation in the first part of this analysis. In this second installment the mystery of RO is discussed at length as an extension of the power of ARBO.

RO is written Resh.Ayin. The first glyph depicts a prophile of a man’s head, typically representing someone of high status- or a god. Figuratively, the symbolism of the head and face pertains to the mind or consciousness in general, depending on context. The number value for Resh (200) can be understood as the principle of containment working as a complex (in-formation) system.  at a cosmic (systemic-level) of being as analyzed here.

The sencond glyph, Ayin, represents an eye, which in turn implies vision, perspective and oversight. In the abstract, the number it points to the spectrum of available possibilities. Its number value (70) reinforces this notion as the manifest representation (tens) of the act of distinction as a spectrum (seven) of options (the eye’s range of vision).

The dictionary meaning of RO ranges from enmity and evil to friendship, companionship (someone who watches over us) and thought (the mind’s eye). It is worth noting that the Egyptian sun god Re, is represented by the same sign as Ayin (a dot with a circle around it), while the word Re in Hebrew is rendered RO- the god who oversees, or who makes us see. The esoteric dimension resonates with the more abstract interpretations of RO, from divine vision/insight to the spectrum of possibilities held in the human mind.

There are multiple interpretations of the meaning of RO. One views RO as a dynamic of liberation from fixed and stifling constructs. Another refers to Ayin absorbing a letter formerly dropped from the alphabet, giving RO two altegether different meanings, depending on the nature of the second letter. Where RO is the opposite of TVB, semantic polarization is not between good vs. bad in the Western sense, between notions of functionality (TVB) and dysfunctionality (RO).

It’s important to keep in mind that where application of the disciplines is concerned, interpretations are meant to come from contemplation of the principles provided in the verse, including the letter equations, and the various semantic options. It is also important to keep in mind the context of cultivation practice when considering the interpretation framework, and how options conflict or complement each other.

To reiterate, the power of ARBO is one of defined yet open-ended (square) territory. As a letter equation, the word represents a strong awareness that contains vision. There is a link between DOTh (knowledge) and the power of ARBO, in QBLH philosophy. This links is not arbitrary. It points to the nature of the number power; an expansion into the unknown, by making it known as it encompasses it. This power behind RO affects the nature of the mystery. The risk is at the limit of the known, and depending on who is discovering and taking risks RO can go either way in its implications. If, for example, it is interpreted as foreigner, a xenophobe would see evil in the meaning. For a conservative individual, the idea would denote risk, and demand prudence. An adventurous soul, on the other hand, would find opportunity and alliance in the possibility.

The discipline surrounding this mystery, like the others, is one whose fruits manifest when we work for them. That means, we expand but claim the new territory as our own through knowledge of it. Avoiding the mystery, and the discipline altogether, either because of fear of its power, or that its power will be wielded by others, gets us nowhere. People have demonized, corrupted and misused esoteric potenials since they were first discovered in our species shadowy past, and this discipline brings us to the influences at the crux of the issue. Be that as it may, this allegedly problematic discipline is key to realizing the potential of the aser sephirot belimah.

In contrast, the three previous disciplines did not pose such a problem. Applying sanctifying awareness, the vital breath and the denser medium of our mud and clay does not rock the boat. So far we are given the potentials of the number power, and the the general nature of the challenges and benefits in appluing it. The point of contention regarding the navigation of this discipline, however, appears to come into focus with the elemental construct defined from the state established with the previous path, as well as how this is applied. This leads to understanding why the discipline is both necessary and problematic.

Specifically, we are dealing with the defining/ordaining of ASh MMIM (Fire from Waters). The letter equation of the Hebrew word (ASh) describes a primary and essential power (Aleph) of a source of nourishment and comfort, but also of biting penetration (Shin). Making physical fire undeniably has a destructive side, and as such poses a risk. This risk is, however, minimized with knowledge and a cautious approach. In our context, we are dealing with the fire of alchemical transformation. Therein, Fire represents concentration of consciousness, just as Wind represents vitality and life, and Water represents the sensate, emotive and biological matrix of human nature. The properties of alchemical Fire are hinted by the number power and its mystery, but so are its applications. Without it the aspirant’s inner progress cannot expand into the realization of cultivation’s possibilities.

The discipline of Fire is applied so that from its essence an impacting sovereign authority is forged- literally a seat of impacting presence, often concieved as a Throne of Glory, something reserved for the Divine as far as canonical religion is concerned. Esoterically, however, this throne of fire can very easily be understood as a product of cultivation procedures such as those of Indian and Tibetan Tantra. We are not creating some sort of divine imitation, but a very human process of alchemical metamorphosis. It means instituting a powerful state of consciousness that reaches from the base of the spine (the seat) to the crown of the head and beyond to subdue even the hosts of heaven, something the text explicitly states.

It, furthermore, assures the aspirant that they can, in this way, make the very winds of the quarters their own representatives. The last phrase of the verse can be taken as a quote from Psalm 104:4 “He made the Winds his Envoys”, which emphasizes and specializes the prior statement about pacifying the hosts of heaven. The reference pertains to the Creator, but it is not absurd to have it refer to the aspirtant of cultivation. We already scuplted the four winds by the power of ShThIM. In other words, the Winds are already fashioned in the aspirant’s awareness through an internalized process of cultivation. Transforming them into one’s own representatives or envoys simply is a further step along the same lines.

The power of ruach (RVCh) allows one to fashion or sculpt the Winds, and the power of aish (ASh) bestows the authority to command them. The fourth discipline is the last one that defines the Inner Court of sacred space, which involves internalized cultivation. The Outer Court disciplines extend into physical space, whereupon the former establish effects such as influencing the powers of the Winds via cultivated states of awareness based on a consecrating consciousness and the application of internalized elemental principles.  This again conflicts with religious doctrine, but makes more sense in terms of applications of cultivated states, known as magic.

In particular, in magical traditions said to derive from King Solomon, the compass points are ruled by spirit entities one must summon by divine authority in order to command other spirits. In other words, they act as one’s representatives to other spirits (or djinn). In this case winged beings (RVChVTh) are not angels in the religious sense, or even the four winds of ancient Greek myth, but Spirit Principles of the World one tames via attaining exalted states of consciousness (or through prescribed ceremonial, prayer etc that result in such exalted states). Four archangels preside over these Spirits, but are quite distinct from them.

In the context of esoteric cultivation, the problematic nature of the fourth discipline makes sense in view of the mystical/magical power promised to the aspirant through its fulfillment. Even without a religious editing, power corrupts, and one must be careful when addressing such forces. If the magical and cultivation context does not apply, however, the problematic nature of Fire- and the fall that later QBLH ascribed to this level of the Tree of Life- to me at least, does not make sense.

The next installment will culminate the processes of the Inner Court by attempting to describe the cultivation procedure of activating alchemical fire as well as its more benign or proprietary precursor, described as the Waters that form the enclosure of the sacred space around which all the disciplines revolve. Therein we will examine the practical esoteric alchemy of TVB and RO.

Inner Court II: The Mystery of Raa- Part One

pexels-photo-1123445The fourth discipline of the OShR SPIRVTh BLIMH is the most paradoxical and challenging of the ten. It is the position in the sequence of accounts that represents the fall of humanity from their original state of divine grace- a perspective established centuries after the Sepher Yesirah (SY) was first put to writing. It is also the discipline with the most controversial depth/mystery, that of RO (translated as evil in the biblical context).

The two dimensional Tree of Life, and its relation to the mythos of GN ODN (the Garden of Eden) is beyond the scope of this installment. I consider it important background information, however, and strongly suggest the reader look to the four installments starting here. In this post I am focusing on the specific patterns of meaning in the fourth discipline.

A chain is only as weak as its weakest link, and if the fourth in the sephirot sequence was the sephirah that fell, perhaps it was considered to be problematic in terms of religious ideology. This may appear to have nothing to do with alleged cultivation practices in a text preceding the QBLH conception of the fall by centuries. Appearances, however, may not be telling us the whole story.

Cultivation for religious communities has always been a sensitive subject, and if a discipline was in danger of encouraging heretical ideals and behaviors, it would be controlled in some way. Either a select group would monopolize it, or the method itself would be censored- or otherwise “edited”- to fit the requirements of dogma.

Suffice it to say that when we reverse engineer the QBLH symbolism of the fall back to the disciplines as they are presented in the Earliest Recoverable Text of the SY, we end up with a gap where the processes of the Inner Court culminate. This, in turn, would have consequences regarding the effectiveness of the Outer Court disciplines. Specifically, ignition (the defining of Fire), is gone with the fourth discipline removed. We are instead left with the enclosure of Water (alchemical Prima Materia) without any activation of the throne/seat of glory, no representation by the quarters of the winds, and nothing regarding the appeasement of celestial hosts- as the verse below describes.

Hermetic Cabbala, takes the corruption even further, but never explicitly what its take really means. It posits an abyss separating the rest of the Inner Court (known in that model as the three Supernals) to a domain of higher consciousness inaccessible to all but the spiritually priviledged. In that perspective, the Outer Court- where the spiritual pleibs reside- is nothing more than an empty shell, when projected in three dimensions.

According to this popularized interpretation, from the perspective of the SY we live in a zombie reality, with all accessible planes of existence also being zombie realities. Any living divine essence or soul (what the Inner Court contains) lies somewhere beyond an abyss that may be crossed with peril, but never fully bridged. The fate of the fourth discipline is to drop even lower than the original tenth (still known as Foundation, by t he way).

Thus Fire does not come out of Water anymore, but through the ground of the direction of North, the Foundation sphere and most manifest of the Outer Court. In any cultivation context, such a “fall” would put a wrench in the cultivation process, and at best end up gelding its spiritual potential.

I recommend reading these prior installments regarding TVB, RO and the OTz ChIIM (Tree of Life) to help comprehend the implications of the fall of the fourth discipline. It is about the mythos that underlies the cultivation potentials we are examining, the very of their esoteric meaning. With the help of the analysis that follows, the implications regarding cultivation potential, although not explicit, can be assessed simply by shifting the context from that of religious philosophy to the pragmatic experience of inner alchemy. That being said, let us look at the verse itself to see why this may be so.

 ARBO ASh MMIM ChQQ VChTzB BH KSA KBVD VKL TzBA MRVM ShKK KThVB OShH MLAKIV RVChVTh

ARBO (Four) defined Fire from Waters, and sculpted with it a throne of impact [glorious and/or burdensome], and every host from on high it (the Fire) appeased [weaved]: The prescribed (Fire) made quarters of wind its representatives.

The root of the discipline is the power of the number four (ARBO). According to the Abarim Publications Biblical Dictionary, the numeric term comes from the root RBO means “to square” presumably referencing the geometrical representation of the number. As a variant if the verb RBTz, it means “to stretch”, or to “lie down” in the sexual sense. The implication of the latter rendering would have the meaning extend to promiscuity in the religious moral context at least. As the proper name of a city ARBO (pronounced Arba) refers to a community emphasizing high education and intellectual accomplishment.

The power of this number goes well beyond the conception of increase and abundance (ShLSh) whose depth was TVB in the last discipline. It indeed represents the geometry of the number four. According to the etymology it is also a dynamic of stretching/expanding the territory outlined by the shape. It’s as if the allusion is that too much knowledge and power is not a good thing, as it can lead one to the temptation of applying it according to self-interest as opposed to divine will. As such, we have an association with sexual excess, where the approved increase and abundance of the previous number power dovetails into the idea of sin. That the mystery of the number power is the controversial term RO is no surprise. Regarding the mystery of RO, we will describe how the reason for the expulsion from the garden ties into the effects of esoteric cultivation potential regarding the fourth discipline. For now, however, let us look more analytically at the letter equation for ARBO.

As a sequence of glyphs, Aleph.Resh.Bayt.Ayin denotes a primary power (Aleph) of a head- mind- or person of import (Resh), and a domicile or other context of containment (Bayt) of the vision or possibilities (Ayin) it covers. The image the equation paints is one of an important individual, like the head of a clan, contemplating the containment of his vision. It is not just about the proprietary level of prosperity afforded a clan or family, implied in the previous number equation, but its options of expansion. The number is one of calculated ambition it seems, something that might even border on greed. Bear in mind that we are not describing the properties of a representation of quantity, but an esoteric symbol of a principles of existence.

According to the equation, the geometrical shape refers to the primary mind or intelligence of the dynamic of containing a spectrum of possibilities in a context that is growing and reaching for more. It is not an area bounded to its set coordinates, but the shape of expanding one’s options. In conclusion, Arba appears to represent an ambitious mindset, where the square may be defined as a shape, but with a disposition toward expaning the area it covers.

In the next installment, the nature of the mystery of the fourth number power will be shown to be compatible with the interpretation of that power, and how the element defined in this discipline also corresponds to our general theme of potentially threatening possibilities this discipline represents.

Inner Court II: The Mystery of Tov (Welfare)

alex-rose-ccWJHxUeM7c-unsplash

The second pairing of the cultivation stages involving the Inner Court involves the application of the mysteries of Tov and Raa. We leave these in Hebrew due to the confusion that arises from simplified renderings such as good and bad. We will instead rely on their corresponding letter sequences to get a sense of their broader context. In this installment we will examine the third discipline, whose number power represents the mystery of Tov, with welfare as a more useful English rendering. We will attempt to explain the verse, and then translate its meaning into a viable practice that is continuous with what we have written so far. The third discipline actualizes the power of the number three. Below we have the transliteration followed by the translation of the verse:

ShLSh MIM MRVCh ChQQ VChTzB BHM ThVHV VBVHV RPSh VTIT ChQQN KMIN ORVGH HTzIBN KMIN ChVMH SIKKN KMIN MOZIBH

ShLSh (Three) defined Waters from Wind, and sculpted with them. Chaos and vacuity [were] mud and clay. It engraved them like a kind of garden bed, erected them like a kind of wall, [and] interweaved them like a kind of ceiling.

The Wind of the previous discipline forms the dynamics of the four compass directions for the aspirant, and represents a state of awareness built on the sanctifying consciousness cultivated in the first discipline. The state cultivated in the second discipline, therefore, involves a fusion of sanctifying/activating consciousness with the vital force of awareness stimulated and represented by the breath. The power of three then comes in, and upon the foundation of the former, defines the next state in the activation of the Inner Court. Already sensitive to the division of space around them, the aspirant therefore builds the construct of flows out of the mental focus (ruach) associated with breath and life-force.

Upon this foundation, the aspirant defines a denser medium associated with flowing Waters. Even so, this new medium is void of any predetermined form, but can still be shaped- sculpted- as the raw material (likened to mud and clay) of our esoteric construct. The process of definition- an act of will affirming something as a realized given- establishes the denser medium to form a kind of enclosure around the individual. First the medium is set below one’s feet as a kind of fertile soil. Then the fluid medium is erected around the individual like a wall, which reaches a height where the top ends meet and interweave to complete the structure.

I have described this so far in terms of the aspirant defining and shaping the dynamic. Although the original Hebrew can be rendered into a literal description as such, I favor the rendering that describes the acting principle of the process as the number power itself. While the word for three (ShLSh, also carries the meaning of threefold or a triplicity) has a specific meaning, its esoteric measure- depth or mystery- is described by the word Tov (TVB). Both the number power and its deeper nature are fortuitous dynamics, indicating that the result of the third discipline is akin to a blessing.

The description of the watery medium is reminiscent of the primordial essence of creation, but also the Prima Materia of esoteric alchemy- albeit in its benefic and constructive aspect. The likening of the structures engraved to a garden bed, with walls interweaving into a ceiling are also reminiscent of another benign biblical enclosure, the Garden of Eden. It goes without saying that the construction of this enclosure of sculpted Waters is undertaken in a state of awareness cultivated with contemplation and augmented via the powers of breath established in the previous tallies. It is also noteworthy that the shaping of the medium begins at the bottom. This implies it is a denser earthly energy, something that is also confirmed in the section describing the three letters of measure (known as mothers in most interpretations).

As mentioned, the number power is of ShLSh, which refers to the number three. According to Strong’s Lexicon, its root meaning is that of intensification and increase. Namely, ShLSh is the power of the tripled, the power of quantity. Its Paleo-Semitic glyphs express the image of a shepherd’s staff (symbol of a leader) between two pairs of breasts (sources of nourishment and comfort- perhaps signifying two wives). It is no stretch to observe the implication of a state of fortuitous bounty.

We use the English word welfare for TVB, to show it represents fortune and something that benefits the one qualified by it. Although the word refers to emotional states of being glad or joyful, these appear to be tied to fortune and welfare, the result of experiencing or doing good. We do not use it in the sense of religious morality, but in accordance with the pragmatism exemplifying the nomadic culture that spawned the term, as well as the spirit of ancient teachings of esoteric cultivation the world over. This pragmatic characteristic is seen in the imagery surrounding the glyphs of the word.

TVB forms an equation of the letters Tayt, Vav and Bayt. These paint a picture describing a weave (T) that “fertilizes” and mediates through its pivotal role (V) the structure of a house, a clan or any form of manifest sustainable containment (B). Patterns in balanced relation with the structures that contain them strengthen those structures and are of benefit to the ones dependent on them. For example a tent is only as good as the weave of its fabric. If the weave is good, the tent is strong and life for the residing nomadic family is more likely to be one of welfare and abundance (ShLSh).

The equation, therefore, defines a dynamic of fortuitous structural integrity regarding one’s presence in the world. This image literally parallels the dynamic of the third reckoning, which is also one of building and weaving. Once again, there are two parts we can distinguish in the verse. Namely, the number designation and the defining of Water from Wind constitute the first portion, while the sculpting or distinguishing of the nothingness into a fertile field of structured presence- a fertile enclosure- is the second. To activate the latter, the former defining (engraving) process is held in focus, so the number power and defined medium are at the very core of the enclosure’s operation.

Our elemental designation is more an allegory of an esoteric experience than something taken either literally or in the figurative sense evident in most popular occult element depictions. It is why we capitalize the term. What is water? The letter equation MIM represents action- or an acting vector- between two letters Mem, where the glyph of the latter depicts waves. The emphasis here is not on a static medium, but on a dynamic one, where flows are in constant interaction.

In terms of embodied experience, and according to a subsequent section of the SY, the part elaborating on the three measures or mother letters, water as the cultivated vibration of the letter Mem is associated with the earth in the macrocosm and the gut- and feelings- in the body. Its nature appears to be similar to the Oriental conception of jing, which is meaning bio-essence and represents one’s genetic material. It is associated with sexual energy and intrinsic body sensations in the esoteric alchemies of Taoism based on the occult anatomy and physiology of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

This energy is denser than the more rarified qi, which we have associated with the Wind element. Interestingly, in Nei Kung (inner work) transformation progresses from the denser to the more rarified element. In terms of the near-equivalent terms of Nei Kung, however, jing (Water) is converted to qi (Wind) and that to shen (Fire). In the extrapolated disciplines of the Sepher Yetsirah, we begin with Wind and upon that foundation engage with the denser Water element, from which we induce the ignition of Fire, described in the discipline that follows.

The disciplines involving Water and Fire are paired. We will, therefore, analytically examine the fourth discipline in the next installment before proceeding to the potential work of cultivation these disciplines are likely to represent. Suffice it to say that the fourth discipline is the most challenging of all. It should, therefore, come as no surprise that the QBLH philosophies developed centuries after the earliest existing redaction of the Manual of Shaping mapped the Ten Sephirot Belimah in two-dimensions with a gap where the fourth Sephirot should be. European occultists notoriously called this gap the abyss.

Working with the Second Sephirah

lightning and tornado hitting village

Photo by Ralph W. lambrecht on Pexels.com

There is a lot of information in these installments, so let’s do a brief review: The first two disciplines are paired, as are the two that follow and the subsequent six. The latter are of the Outer Court, and have direct conceptual representations. We experience them, in other words, as spatial orientations around the human frame. Each pair forms an axis and the three pairs define our three dimensional environment in synthesis with our awareness of such. The Inner Court disciplines, however, are of a less tangible conception. As we mentioned, the first discipline pair correlates with the mysteries of Cause and Effect (labeled as “First” and “Last”).

The mystery of Cause refers to the awareness states cultivated via consciousness-centered practices, such as the three dynamics of yoga; concentration (dhāraṇā), meditation (dhyāna) and contemplative realization (samādhi), as we elaborated in the last post, and referenced in the one before that. These practices have been adapted to the structure of the verses preliminary to the disciplines proper, and are specifically applied in the first discipline with its emphasis on the number power of one, the toning of Elohim Chayim and the cultivation of the hallowing/dedicating frame of awareness.

A rudimentary proficiency in the practice of the first discipline, with its preliminaries, is recommended before the aspirant attempts further applications. One can reach a point where a sense of increased inward presence is familiar, along with a shift in awareness toward a greater sense of well-being and natural self-hood. The aspirant strives for a synthesis of heightened consciousness with somatic perception that extends indefinitely into one’s surrounding environment. While this attainment is a challenge, it does not require great sacrifice or exceptional ability. To paraphrase the Sepher Yetsirah, the covenant as an agreement with the transpersonal, is a commitment based on a) striving for a positive mental frame, free of stress or struggle to the degree possible for a given individual, and b) the prioritization of persistence and consistency in ones efforts.

These installments are written as an outline of concepts that can be fleshed into application. They are not, however, a course or any kind of polished “teaching”. The material is also based on my personal experience in working with it without adhering to a rigid practice schedule, albeit still striving to refine the methodology toward a format that can be applied consistently and without overly taxing the subject involved with it. That being said, it goes without saying that the second discipline is an extension of the first, with which it forms a discipline (sephirot) pairing. Where the first involved pure consciousness, this extends that awareness into the energy sensations often associated with focused breathing. Let’s review the English rendition of the verse:

ShThIM (Two) defined Wind-Breath from Spirit-Mindset, and sculpted Four Quarters [of the Heavens] with it.

The two ruachs in the above verse can be respectively distinguished as macrocosmic and microcosmic dynamics. The ruach of the first discipline was all about the mind-set or awareness frame (microcosm), as well as spirit (in the greater transpersonal- macrocosmic- sense). That Wind is defined from Spirit tells us that in the microcosmic mind-frame of dedicating awareness, we place our focus on the dynamic of Wind as the macrocosmic elemental expression of the vital breath. The practices associated with the first discipline are, therefore, the foundation of the second.

The experience of Wind is, therefore, built on the proper awareness frame in relation to the number power of the second discipline and its mystery. We have already discussed the significance of the number two, and how the mystery of Effect or “that which follows” corresponds to the power of the corresponding number expressed as the Hebrew word ShThIM.

Contemplation of the number power and its mystery ties directly into the expression of vital breath from our desired state of awareness. The vital breath or life energy (a convenient label signifying the awareness of a metabolic sensation experienced during conscious breathing) becomes a force of esoteric accomplishment when it contains consciousness. We relate to consciousness in terms of its expression through body processes. It is a feeling of presence, and there is always some kind of organic underpinning, at least for a corporeal sentient individual. A rudimentary form of vital sensate presence is felt when one places attention on any part of the body, or the process of breathing. The deeper our conscious focus, the more profound the energy felt.

The experience of vital energy and how to engage with it is described in detail in basic instructions for traditional energy cultivation methods. In practical terms, we can engage in conscious breathing as we contemplate the power of two and its mystery, and notice how the sensate energy contains the awareness driving it. In doing so we are fulfilling the first part of the verse. The second part involves projecting our contemplative attention to the four corners of the compass. We do this while continuing to generate sensations in the body through our conscious breathing. Eventually the energy can be experienced in the world surrounding us and enveloping the four compass points, or rather enveloping the stations of our projected awareness. This may require multiple sessions to stabilize, because it is a dynamic of cultivation that is nourished through repetition. In this way awareness and the vitality permeating it distinguish the circle around us into four quarters, the middles of which are the corresponding compass directions.

At this point we have but to train our awareness by adapting it to the nature of each compass direction. In doing so we will eventually notice differences in the “energy” of each, and that the unique experience of each direction matches with the particular nature of that point. As the exploration of the mythic symbolism surrounding the four quarters or Winds is beyond the scope of this material- at least for now- we can simply contemplate their natural properties. East and West correspond to the earth’s rotation. The former introduces the celestial measures of each moment, and the latter draws them in and appears to swallow them up. The North concentrates around the earth’s axis, while the South expands around it to reach maximum girth at the earth’s equator (as opposed to the assumption that it corresponds to the South-pole). In the Southern Hemisphere, the corresponding pole is the South, and the equator the North.

Eventually, we become sensitized to the details of the powers of the four quarters, which we experience in terms of their independent presence. Then we can draw those sensations, so they don’t have to correspond to the far flung horizons around us, but to a more personalized distance of immediate space. The practice establishes a sense of spatial awareness that is fundamental to the success of subsequent disciplines, and especially to the practices of the Outer Court and their applications involving the letters of the alphabet. Until then, the sensations become clearer and stronger with practice, so that we are finally able to move into the next step and involve the power of water and fire with the implementation of the two disciplines of the Inner Court that follow.

 

Working with the First Sephirah

pexels-photo-235615

In this installment we will commence the application of the principles described in the previous post in terms of the unofficial adaptation of the Manual of Shaping we have been discussing. We will, specifically, show how practices known as saṁyama in the Yoga Aphorisms of Patañjali (Eight-fold Yoga) can be adapted to the first discipline of the Sepher Yetsirah’s Ten Reckonings of Restraining.

To better organize this information let us distinguish two types of cultivation. The first is consciousness centered, using methods loosely described in the previous post, and mind- the consciousness thereof- as the means to accomplishment. The second emphasizes the sensate response of embodied being to the stimulus of focused attention, as well as other stimuli such as phonetic toning (mantra), breathing and mindful motion. This type of cultivation is commonly known as “energy work” in modern esoteric jargon.

Let us review the principles of the first discipline. Therein, we are given the number power of the monad (one), whose depth/mystery is that of cause and primacy. This power and its mystery correspond to the divine Living Elohim or Elohim of Life. The above information constitutes the first part of the verse. The second part is the identification of at least one aspect of Elohim with the Hallowing Spirit, which we identify as the dedicating/activating frame of awareness. These two parts are embedded in each other and hence one supports and defines the other.

As an application of saṁyama, the discipline necessitates proficiency in sustaining a contemplative state. That means holding focus for extended periods; then using the sense of consciousness itself as the point of focus, and extending that state to the world. Ultimately, we learn to fuse personal and environmental awareness sense into a state of well being that is transforming, dynamic and evolving. It is also more profound than any psychological nuance usually associated with the workings of mind and consciuosness. This is what the aspirant is challenged to experience and acknowledge even if mastery appears beyond one’s reach for the forseeable future.

In practice, I find it more realistic learn as you go with the application. It’s a messier option, than trying to master contemplation to the point of mystic well-being, but one that can also provide context to evolving contemplative experience. Without context, the focus can be too abstract. Any concrete sense of progress can appear to slip away much to the increasing frustration of the aspirant. The dangber is that one will intellectualize the experience and end up projecting what they think it should be into every nuance of feeback regarding practice. That, in turn, leads to compromises of spiritual bypass, a false sense of accomplishment and eventual disillusionment.

One of the reasons a guide or teacher is recommended in yoga practices, is to address the blocks and challenges along the way so that compromises can be corrected as they arise. In modern times, however, personal coaches of cultivation of deep insight and esoteric accomplishment are few and far between. There is, moreover, so much dilution and corruption of esoteric understanding in publicized information that anything constructive is more often than not lost in the din of trendy information overload. In my view, this should not discourage the aspiring cultivator. Knowing that keeping up with a serious work-out regimen without someone to keep you motivated and practicing correctly, is too much of a challenge for many, even in the face of the benefits. Yet, facing such a challenge can be the most rewarding thing one has ever attempted, at least in the long run.

Immediate support may not be available, but the exercise of personal commitment toward a desired end makes us stronger in mind and heart. We get to know ourselves more and can find an empowerment, or even the seeds of such, we didn’t know was at the core of us all the time.

One sets the pace and alters it as needed. One is sensitive to their limits, and one commits according to what they know they can do. One is flexible when new understanding of self calls for modifying their pace and timing. The cultivator strives to pay attention every step of the way without forcing premature evaluations. When we engage as such; when commitment is a priority, progress is far swifter and more apparent.

The path of learn as you go, using each discipline also as a means of perfecting contemplation (the three steps of saṁyama), allows the information expressed here to be woven together so one can engage directly with the ten disciplines even with little or no experience- depending on the individual, of course.

The first discipline is the most abstract of the ten and introduces the aspirant to the principles expounded in saṁyama practices of the yoga tradition. We have the power of the monad, whose equation exemplifies the process of self-reflection. We have that self -reflection associated with Elohim Chayim (ALHIM ChIIM), essentially a holy name that can be used as a sort of mantra to cultivate the state of awareness that can energize the other nine disciplines.

The text prior to the description of the ten disciplines tells us how to contemplate. The “agreement” (covenant) one makes to solidify their commitment is to practice with a sense of well-being and to be persistent in that practice. One is told to quiet the mind, to be like a mirror that remains smooth and calm while perfectly reflecting a flash of lightning. Finally, one is told to address each discipline in the correct framework, and to strive for the state of AIN. That we are told establishing the correct framework of practice comes first, while AIN is the result of practice. When we reach the state of AIN in the context of the discipline and can sustain that state, we can move to the next discipline. We have spoken of AIN at length already, and need not linger on this very fundamental dynamic- the equivalent to yoga’s samādhi in my view.

We are focusing on our fundamental sense of being, sustaining that focus, and persisting until practice comes naturally and with little effort. Then we identify Elohim Chayim as our transpersonal foundation of being, and tone the name. I use the word “toning” to include vocalizing, whispering and even mental pronunciation of a phonetic construct. The SY emphasizes vocalization, but whispering and sub-vocalizing work best, in my view. It allows for an experience of the phonetic vibration without diverting concentration to vocalizing or undermining the vibration sense by too much focus on the mental form of the construct.

In that sense Elohim Chayim (the i pronounced as ee), is a mantra to be repeated mindfully through the conceptually indeterminate state of AIN. The experience eventually leads to the embodiment of the vibration of the name in fusion with the deepened and extended sense of being that marks saṁyama practice. This is the requisite state of awareness that makes all other practices holy, and in religious terms, blessed by the divine name. At the core of any other tone we apply, or any imagery we use, is that sense of extended being that is part and parcel with the very essence of awareness, personal and transpersonal, which is no less than divine. In the next installment we will see how this fundamental activation awareness can be applied in the Inner Court disciplines that follow.

A Practice Primer: Cultivation and Contemplation

pexels-photo-189449So far we have made much fanfare about preliminary practices and describing the nuances of this version of the translated text of A Peter Hayman’s Sepher Yetzirah (SY). We have reached the point with the first two disciplines (SPIRVTh BLIMH) that we can begin outlining a working methodology for practicing with the material. We have, furthermore, used words like cultivation and contemplation liberally without getting into how such notions can be put in practice. It is the purpose of this installment to fill in those blanks.

The lack of description of specific methodology, however, has not been an oversight. The information is best put for here. One reason is that the preliminary practices are not necessarily meant to prepare for the disciplines. They are rather their foundation of practice, so that one can perform the discipline applications by building upon them. Otherwise, one builds on a foundation of sand and practice will likely falter or become too strained, with too many things to do.

Another reason why preliminary practices are best, in my view, placed right after the first pair of disciplines, is because it takes time to digest the material in an intuitive manner. One can easily memorize terms, and even intellectually get what is said more or less. To translate understanding into tangible- albeit nuanced- experience requires the sensate dynamics of the body-mind to be in tune with the descriptions involved.

So let us begin with the concept of cultivation. The metaphor of growing plants is appropriate. Any plant requires the right environment and the right nourishment (soil, light and water as well as and the right ambient temperature). It is not enough to simply get the plant grown, but to maximize the yield of our harvest. When cultivating our esoteric potential, we also require a favorable environment and nourishment. Dynamics like physical health play a role, but primarily our focus is best placed on our internal environment.

Many who engage in practices that involve activating the central nervous system often engage in a mechanical and/or forceful manner that can result in stress accumulating over time. The good news is that the approach of the SY (this version at least) addresses basic patterns of engagement a step at a time, without complicating things. Nor does this approach require supervision, because the inner environment is addressed at the onset.

Cultivation, esoteric or otherwise, is a process that takes time. You cannot rush it, or the stress created can work against the whole point of the practice and undermine all the work we put into it. Patience is, therefore, an important inner quality to embrace. With inner cultivation, you know you are making progr4ess when your sensitivity to intuitive insight, to sensate stimuli or energy states in self and others, and the environment as a whole, and also to the way an event comes together. The latter is often misconstrued as some sort of oracular ability, but it can easily be explained through a deepening of awareness so that the observation and comprehension of patterns of probability, and degrees of information, accessible beyond the immediate five senses become more obvious.

In this approach, furthermore, each stage leads to the next, and eventually a form of expression of our harvested cultivation is provided so we can attain the appropriate feedback to track and improve our growth and empowerment. This is where the dynamic of shaping (aka magic) comes in. If we attempt application and have problems with it, we can always go back and examine where our cultivation process needs to be reinforced. Unlike the cultivation of plant, for example, inner work does not fall apart if we practice incorrectly, so long as we rectify our mistakes.

The whole system of shaping and the process of cultivation rests upon the foundation of contemplation. I use that word because our modern understanding of the more popular term meditation tends to be misunderstood. To clarify, allow me to borrow some terms from the Yoga Aphorisms of Patañjali, a two thousand year old Indian text on yoga- the same age as the SY. Contemplation as an esoteric process that can in turn cultivate abilities of enhanced perception known as psychic, as well as being a foundation in shaping processes, can be distinguished into three parts.

First we learn to place our attention on a single thing, be it a concept or the perception of an object. This is where we learn the quieting of the mind by investing all its energy in exclusive focus. Mindfulness meditations, as well as working with mantras in a mechanical manner involve the application of concentration potential. Therein, we nourish being able to move attention at will and to sustain attention also at will for extended periods. This is, technically, not meditation proper. That would be the next step.

Once our attention muscle strengthens to the degree that we remain relaxed when sustaining focus, we can choose that particular point for our focus that truly nourishes the growth of potential. This would be at the very core of our sense of self, free of intellectualization or analytic conception. This can be done in parallel with our original form of concentration, and that often helps. At some point, however, it makes progress much smoother if we tackle the required focus without other means of support.

In the second step, that of meditation proper, we focus on our sense of being. Logically, this would be the sense we have when the conception “I am” is held. The problem with this is that those two words tend to pose a burden on our still sensitive psyche. The result would be a strain that would result in more thoughts coming in, as if our concentration was balanced on the point of a pin ready to fall off at the slightest provocation. Meditation is never easy for the beginner, but we can make it easier by simplifying the process. The Indian yogi Ramana Maharshi expressed a way to do this by tuning into what he termed the I-thought.

The I-thought is a mental projection of our sense of individuated being. It is burdened with a narrative pertaining to our identity and all that comes with it. Many call it the ego, which in my view also complicates the process, given the ego is itself a concept loaded with baggage. The practice in mention begins by sustaining focus on the I-thought. Not the I-am thought, but the dynamic that accompanies the act of self-reference. We only sustain this focus long enough to identify it is going on.

Then we pull the rug from under ourselves by mentally removing said I-thought. The trick is to do this while sustaining the focus on the “empty” space left where that thought was. If we are patient, eventually we will sense that the space is not empty but sustains the pure sense of am, our sense of being that has little to no relation with the narrative of self-referencing. When the am is free of the I, we can continue focus so that our sense becomes clearer and stronger. So far our source of accessing the sense of being was our individual reference frame. Once this becomes easier, we can move to the next and final step.

In the final step, we practice liberation from the first person narrative by broadening our sense of being to include our sense of embodiment, environment, our breathing and everything accessing our five senses. If this is too complicated, and at first it can be, it is enough to open up to the world at large without worrying about expanding awareness in space or the specifics of things in our world. In other words, the third step involves de-localizing our sense of being.

Maintaining this third state eventually takes us to a different level of awareness, and one that is evidently more profound than anything experienced prior in our practice. As such it even has its own name, samādhi. This state has its own levels of progression when practice is continued. That is not important for our purposes. What is important is that it incorporates existence as a whole in our sense of being. Thus, if we focus on any aspect of existence, any concept, word, thing or act, we can get a sense of its own sense of being and merge it with our own so that it becomes esoterically alive and potent.

When this happens, in the jargon I use at least, we can say that we have activated the esoteric power of that focus. It is this esoteric power that we seek to awaken for ourselves in our practice of the ten disciplines. In the next installment, we will review the material expressed here using the language of the SY so we can correlate things and get a handle on our specialized applications.

 

Mastery of the Inner Court I: The Mystery of Effect

nature night field countryside

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

ShThIM RVCh MRVCh ChQQ VChTzB BH ARBO RVChVTh

 ShThIM (Two) defined Wind (Breath-Space) from Spirit (Disposition-Mind), and sculpted Four Quarters [of the Heavens] with it.

The second account begins the cascade of applied elemental principles, one from the other, starting with Wind out of Spirit, both translations of the word ruach. We render ruach as Wind to signify this elemental continuity for the latter disciplines of the inner court. Wind is the world version of breath, and the quarters from where the winds blow are also ruach. In the context of inner alchemy it can be thought of as the mind-infused force of life; the animating breath principle, similar to Oriental concepts of prāṇa and qi.

If we consider the Shekinah or indwelling divine feminine to be the spirit that connects us to the powers of life, it is through Her mediating presence that we draw sacred- divinely infused- breath. Awareness of this presence, cultivated via the contemplative practices of the previous section is experienced tangibly in ones being via one’s own life force, stimulated via conscious breathing when in a state of contemplation.

RVCh is also translated as an interval of space (when a masculine noun). Clearly, the two RVCh mentioned here are not the same. The second is clearly feminine, but there is no indication if the first is masculine, which could give it the interpretation of space. Even so, if we view the influences moving from abstract to concrete, relatively speaking, we first attain a frame of mind, and with that we sanctify our experience of space or vital breath or both.

ShThIM– the number two- is formed by glyphs signifying the sign/representation (Th) of two breasts (Sh). The mystery here is that of AChRITh (that which follows the first; the outcome or last). The themes of this number concept are principles of nurturing and nourishment, and both have feminine connotations. It as if the Indwelling Spirit channels the Divine so that the former gives birth to the sacred breath- Wind. More to the point, we are given direction by means of the example of the adept described in a previous verse. The metaphor used is that of carving, which to me signifies a defining and imprinting. The adept literally defines the vital breath (or their experience of space) from the awareness frame that makes it holy. This frame literally is the result of communion with the essence of ALHIM ChIIM. We can consider “making holy” in this context to be a process of dedicating something toward an esoteric- magical or mystical- outcome. This form of dedicating focus is held as the driving force for the second part of the verse, which forges Wind in the first part, as we have elaborated above.

In the second part of the discipline we are told to form (sculpt, hew) the four Winds. These are presences or spirits assigned to the spaces of the compass (and/or heavenly) quarters. These spirits of the quarters are well-known in many esoteric traditions, mystical, magical and shamanic, the world over. They are the cardinal rulers and/or guardians of the four corners of the compass. In Egyptian tradition they correspond to the four pillars that hold up the world. In ancient Greece they were the four winds, also depicted in non-human form as horses.

Crafting the Winds of the compass quarters is an esoteric process, and has nothing to do with the physical winds coming from these directions. Both dynamics of definition and crafting are based on the fruits of the stance of alignment supplemented by the prescribed contemplation exercises. For the contemplation to reach levels of presence that are esoterically effective, and in the proprietary framework the text itself describes, it is important to attain the activation state of AIN. This state of contemplative awareness manifesting stillness, depth and expansion of being is a divine link that drives the processes of formation for the aspirant. By now we have connected both parts of the verse, where the first part defines the second, and the second part realizes its essence in the first.

As we move toward the state of AIN in our practice, we can apply attention and imagination to direct the sensate flow stimulated by the practice of conscious breathing, to fill the spaces of the quarters with their respective divisions of the energy. Thus we shape the presence of the spirits of the four quarters (RVChVTh). Understanding and subsequently mastering the dual process of definition (carving in) and division/sculpting (carving out), is imperative if we are to follow the aforementioned adept’s example. The process is, moreover, further emphasized in the section regarding the work with the letter-signs, which complements and extends the ten disciplines we are elaborating here. Within the context of the Outer Court we will establish the four directions, along with those of above and below, and seal them with the permutations of the divine name. To put this activation more simply, we move so we establish the sensing of presence that is subsequently divided four ways.

In the next verse, we will once again forge psychic structures of sanctified space, only this time the medium will be Water or Waters. I capitalize the elemental names because they are symbolic titles for “energy” experiences manifesting either spontaneously or by specific cultivation methodologies, such as those of Taoist Inner Alchemy and Indian Hatha Yoga. In the first part of the SY that conveys the ten disciplines (OShR SPIRVTh BLIMH), we are given basic contemplation references, but nothing akin to body-centered methods of focus. These do, however, appear in the second part that deals with the letters of the Hebrew alphabet and their applications in terms of the esoteric stage set in part one. Different canonical versions of the SY do not retain the same order of verses, but in A. Peter Hayman’s reconstruction the verses make it appear- to me at least- as if the original SY was comprised of the ten disciplines, whereas the letter applications elaborated upon that theme and filled in gaps so the student would not be dependent as much on a teacher. But that is more speculation than I wish to hoist upon the reader.

The point I wanted to make, however, is that one way or another we shall reference these complementary verses, either through direct analysis of the second part of the SY, or by using them directly in building our practical format. In this way, I will not be simply taking other Asian systems and tacking them on here, but only to fill in the blanks of the hints and indications presented in the text.

The next installment is all about practice. That is where the two disciplines will be taken as one to signify the disciplines of RVCh (ruach), that of primary awareness frame, and primary vital energy dynamic- and in my view a sensate state that I call spatial presence. I will also likely be using the first person pronoun more often. Contrary to that being a sign that I am letting all this go to my head, it is because I am communicating my comprehension of esoteric context, something absolutely necessary in my view for coherent translation. Religious context results in one interpretation, esoteric context in another, and mundane context still another. This is especially true given we are dealing with a text with no vowels and a high probability of changes in the spacing between letters through extensive editing.

I explore these possibilities in the second part of the Manual’s translation, but do my best to be very frugal in such practices. Like the Hayman text, however, we can take this as an exercise in exploring the possibilities. If it makes sense esoterically, I would say it is a worth mentioning. So the next post is all about method, and answering the question: what can I do with these strange verses that will do justice to the title “Manual of Shaping”?

Mastery of the Inner Court I: The Mystery of Cause

amazing-animal-beautiful-beautifull

This presentation was to be based on working with the subject matter in a systematic fashion, including application, observation and verification of the process. These last several months I have been doing just that, so I took time off from posting here. It goes without saying that the contemplative practices elaborated in the previous verses set the stage for the applications of the ten reckonings. Even with forty years of contemplative experience beta testing a new esoteric system still takes time to navigate. When progress appears to correspond to a complete picture of the process, something else comes along to complement or alter the picture. That’s normal in cultivation since any progress is a foundation for what needs to be added to the process. In this series of installments, therefore, the ten sephirot belimah will be interpreted and their practical application potential elucidated. For the sake of brevity, we will simply call the reckonings of restraint disciplines, and because that is what they are. The previous terminology will be used occasionally for emphasis.

We have already seen in prior installments that the material preceding the actual count of the disciplines in the text, was instructive to the aspirant so they could a) address the disciplines in consecutive pairings, b) apply contemplative practice as a persistent and repetitive reigning in of thought and imagination, c) contemplate the depth of the corresponding discipline as the mystery of its number power, itself a subject of contemplation, d) frame each discipline in two parts that reinforce and complement each other, and e) refine focus- toward the state of AIN– so that awareness remains calm and receptive regardless of any reflection of experience upon its stilled surface. Each stage is complete when AIN is mastered in relation to the above contemplation themes.

The first two disciplines are also the first of two pairs of accounts known as the Inner Court in QBLH philosophy. A Court is an arena of the sacred temple of human potential. The Inner Court points within our being, and is where specialized dynamics of the sacred are held. The Outer Court envelopes us as a psychic projection in physical space. It corresponds to the worldly and more obvious dynamics of temple activity surrounding its deeper reaches. The Outer Court is addressed in the last six accounts. This pairing of disciplines one and two establishes the sense of presence required for the sanctification and esoteric activation of spatial awareness (the self-aware subtle body of esoteric traditions). In the first discipline the number formula is AChD (one). It corresponds to the mystery of RAShITh (literally first or principal). Below we have the verse in transliterated Hebrew and the translation following:

OShR SPIRVTh BLIMH AChD ALHIM ChIIM ZV HIA RVCh HQVDSh

Ten reckonings of restraining: AChD (One) is Elohim of Life, wherein She is the Dedicating Disposition.

The numbers that identify each discipline constitute the keynote of their powers. Whatever our rendering of the text, the actual power of the word upon which the Sepher Yetsirah relies so much is founded in Hebrew. We are, therefore, challenged to understand the deeper meaning of those key words as letter equations, since every sign in this system is sacred and every phoneme is a vibration of power and meaning. Space, however, does not always permit a thorough analysis of every letter equation, and it can get confusing, so when feasable analysis will be either summarized or skipped for the outcome.

That being said, the number power we are directed to apply for the first discipline is AChD. Its three-letter equation describes an encounter between anything and its likeness. The Hebrew number meanings, as I have come to understand them, frame singularity in terms of the duality of self-reflection/self-encounter. In other words, the prime condition of creation is represented by the number two (ShThIM), which makes sense because everything exists in relation to everything else. In the final section of Hayman’s Sepher Yetsira, this is succinctly stated: “Moreover, all delight in one thing side by side with another thing”. In any case, the second number power reflects our grounded worldly experience, while the first is more of an abstraction derived from it. All other number powers are derived from the basis of duality in tandem with singularity.

The number power of AChD then establishes the mystery of prime cause through a process of self-reflection. In esoteric understanding, what comes first is causal to what comes after. It is the prime mover, as it were. It is the mystery of pre-causal singularity as causal to what follows- the mystery of the second discipline. It makes sense that these two disciplines form a paired understanding if we are to get the most out of them. To reiterate, AChD represents the keynote of the discipline, and also its source of potency in contemplation. RAShITh is the mystery or depth that qualifies the keynote, as is a part of it although not explicitly stated in the corresponding discipline.

The next step in organizing the first discipline in terms of practice is to distinguish the two parts, entwined like a flame in a burning coal. We distinguish two respective themes: the theme of Elohim Chayim (“Powers of Life”) in the first portion of the verse and the theme of Ruach ha Qodesh (“The Sanctifying Spirit”) in the second. How these themes tie together is also a contemplation theme. The challenge for the aspirant seeking to apply this work is to tie all this together into a coherent practice or set of practices that are true to the meaning of the verse.

Elohim Chayim pertains to the dynamic of life, as opposed to life-forms. The rendering facilitates application and connects the term to the ruach (wind- vital breath) expressed in the second discipline. Elohim Chayim also represents the number power directly. As a divine name, it is a direct association with existential cause (the Creator). By contemplating the powers of unity and causality, and tuning into the essence of the Power(s) of Life- a synthesis of divine potentiality traditionally rendered as Living Elohim– we move toward realizing the second part of the verse.

Here the feminine pronoun is emphasized to signify we are speaking of spirit, mindset (disposition). Within the contemplative awareness frame of Elohim, there is the spirit or disposition of making something holy. Technically, it does not call the ruach (spirit) itself holy. Namely, the operant word QVDSh, implies a specific process of dedication. It is a hallowing, or dedicating that is accomplished through a feminine agent. The reference is likely to the Indwelling Spirit (ShKINH), the proverbial bride to divine infusion. This disposition that is necessary for the rest of the disciplines to work is a direct result of the power of singular Elohim. Without it the stages of cultivation will more than likely fall flat as empty exercises and mental gymnastics. The two parts of the verse reinforce each other. The ruach is a disposition resulting from imbibing the realization of Elohim, and Elohim becomes realized through the dedication that confirms its holiness directly from the power of this ruach.

The practical application of the first discipline, however, may still seem elusive. The Manual of Shaping, as I like to render the text title, is a summary, likely meant for a teacher to base their transmission to students of its process. It is not meant for lay people who prefer concepts that are materially concrete and conventionally logical. I would on use the term “initiated” here if it applies to those who have enough understanding of esoteric process to read the text in terms of that premise, as opposed to a religious surface rendering that became reinforced through constant additions and “clarifications” toward that end.

In view of that elusive dynamic, I will go beyond theoretical exposition and present my version of what practical application might entail. This is still theory, by the way, but it is the theory of direct application, which includes specific instruction. The next installment, however, will tackle the second discipline along the same lines as the first. Then I will sum them up with a description of how to start this work of divine alchemy and the mystical cultivation that can lead to mastering the potentials of Shaping (aka Magic).