esothemes

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

Category: Qabalah and the Book of “Formation”

The Tree of Life and the Divine Restoration: Part IV

Let us now explore the esoteric implications of the Garden of Eden (Gan Eden) story in relation to Cabalistic philosophy, and specifically regarding the extended symbol system known as the “Tree of Life”. This symbolic mapping incorporates the biblical story of expulsion from paradise. The direct cause of expulsion was the ingestion of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge (ToK) of Tov and Raa, two Hebrew words that have most always been translated to respectively mean “good” and “evil”. The act of ingesting the fruit has been associated with “sin” and “fall” (from grace), two concepts alluding to alienation from an inherent state of divine proximity if not communion.

The concept of knowledge in the biblical and QBLH context, on the other hand, is about intimacy of experience with ramifications of existential metamorphosis. The consequence would be to stimulate evolution and existential maturation. The premise here is that the stimulus itself is not just that which is termed “good” in opposition to that which is termed “evil”, but a relationship between complementary evolutionary strategies.

Let us look at the semantic pair in mention in its original context: Tov (Tayt, Vav, Bayt- transliterated TVB) and Raa (Resh, Ayin- trasnsliterated RO). In terms of the meanings of its constituent letters Tov refers to a structure that fertilizes one’s house or presence. It is a natural state, in other words. Raa, on the other hand is the vision or way of another or “another vision”. As such, it is the artifice for better or ill. If obedience to divine authority is Tov, then one’s own initiative is Raa.

The interpretation makes sense in terms of the ToL of QBLH because the 3rd and 4th sephiroth are therein termed depths of Tov and Raa respectively. “Depth” in this case can be considered a metaphor for an arcane mystery. We have the mystery of good and the mystery of bad. Or rather the mystery of intrinsic harmony and the mystery of evolutionary challenge and initiative. It is the dramatization of the latter around which the story of the fall revolves.

The garden of delight, full of wonders as it was, did not involve evolutionary challenge nor any sense of initiative where the first humans were concerned. How could it when they could not tell between what was pleasing to them and what was not? That is not to say that the value of the tree of knowledge is the insurgency it inspires against a divine status quo. The value is in making the one imbibing its fruit aware of the meaning of Tov, Raa and the complementary and symbiotic nature of their relationship. What is so bad about that?

Religious interpreters of the story would say it is about humans being disobedient and not about being able to discern between qualities. They site that the first symptom of imbibing the fruit was to experience “modesty” or a sense of shame in being naked before the divine. Today we know that modesty is taught and that one desires to be covered and/or concealed because it makes them feel vulnerable and exposed. This only occurs when exposure is sensed as threatening. Perhaps being exposed to YHVH Elohim was not always a “good” thing, but the first humans did not have the ability to tell when they were not treated lovingly.

Speculation aside, the Torah explains precisely why humans were expelled, and then kept out of the enclosure of their creation. It had nothing to do with defiance. The truth is that the activation of the fruit of knowledge, aside from awakening discernment, is only fulfilled when the fruit of the tree of life is also imbibed afterward. Then, as the “Lord” mused, “They shall be as Elohim”. It is likely that later generations misunderstood the import of the statement. For a mystic the meaning is clear: consuming both fruits in the proper order (knowledge and then life) engenders a profound transformation of existential identity via the power of divine realization. Elohim ends up clarifying to its peers (and the readers of the story) that not only are the wages of consuming the fruit of the ToK the experience of death, but the subsequent redemption of rebirth only comes when tree congress comes full circle: meaning the fruit of the Tree of Life must be consumed forthwith.

Once Eve and Adam consumed the fruit of discernment, however, they were promptly banished to insure that they never even come near the Tree of Life again. Some analysts insinuate and some openly posit that if humans just did what they were told, they would have been freely given the fruits of their destiny in full…when they were ready. The first humans were thus held accountable for disobedience they could not evaluate one way or the other, under the pretext that they didn’t need to evaluate…just do as they were told. What is most problematic, however, with the story is that making a choice based on a convincing argument (the serpent’s in this case) cannot be done without the discernment necessary for arguments to make sense in the first place.

The sloppiness of this story lends one to come to conclusions about it that can dovetail in to more than one conspiracy theory about archons and aliens. Whether these have merit or not is beyond the scope of this exposition. We do not have to resort to such rationalizations, however, nor do we need to whitewash the inconsistencies with artful commentary and blind faith. We can choose to open to the understanding that many tales holding arcane wisdom utilize paradox so that their meanings cannot be extracted with day to day reasoning. Sometimes the tale is so focused on making a point that it ignores the context that is supposed to give it coherence and consistency.

In this particular story, we know there are two trees. And we know that to become as Elohim we must consume both their fruit, in the proper order. We know that we are no stranger as humanity to either of these trees, since the first humans ate of their fruit- albeit not in the proper order. The story appears to emphasize the nature of these fruits, and that when one is eaten the other is forbidden so the caterpillar human does not awaken as the butterfly Elohim equivalent.

Discernment is superficially qualified as evaluating between good and bad, pleasant and unpleasant, harmony and dissonance etc. Analyzing the words as letter strings, however, we can see how the first represents a natural and healthy state, whereas the second touted as bad actually refers to acting and thinking outside the status quo of natural harmony. This is, in fact, what humans tend to do and what separates them from the proverbial “beasts in the field”.

If humans are aware where they veer away from instinct and natural “default” instinctive inclination they can act with deliberation. Such discernment and the ability to act artfully (with artifice) is apparently necessary if the tree of life is to lead one to an Elohim-like condition.

Here is another hint: The serpent is one being connected to the story. It is cast in the bad guy role even though it facilitated consumption of the fruit that gave humanity the initiative to cultivate discernment. The other being associated with the story is cast in the good guy role, even though it is hostile to humans. This is the Kerub guarding the East Gate of Eden. One must pass this Kerub and its revolving fiery sword to access the tree of life. Perhaps this too is a mystic allusion. If so, what mysteries does it conceal or even imply?

Human experience is practically defined by the consequences of eating the first fruit, for humans not only discern between what is natural and what is artificial and dysfunctional, but have become enslaved to the latter. Yet human destiny is incomplete without the fruit of the other tree, the one that used to be permitted before the eyes of the first humans were open. This Tree of Life, is described in QBLH as an existential map.

Perhaps it is indeed an allegory of the primordial human frame itself- both cosmic and microcosmic. If so, it is the embodiment of that being which chose to veer from the dictates of its Creator in the first place even before it could tell what that meant: you, me and everyone human. At some point there will be a fifth installment. This topic is by no means exhausted, and I have yet to touch up the “divine restoration” part as I originally intended. In any case, there is more to come…(at some point).

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The Tree of Life and The Divine Restoration: Part III

The Divine in its pure, original state- according to mystical understanding the world over- is the very essence of Love/Bliss. Seeds created in its image and likeness are exposed to choices inherent in fields of creation defined by polarity and multiplicity…and then meaningful shit happens. Ultimately, the path that takes the Divine through the transcendence of Its own perfection for the incomprehensible further horizon is paved with the precarious denial of its very essence.

That dynamic of existential self-denial is what the fall is all about. It is the denial of the original divine essence at odds with the status of created beings or offspring. The Tree of the Orchard of Delight, known in the Torah as Gan Eden is a multidimensional entity representing the blueprint of human incarnation. From the mystical standpoint, rather than being a “pleasure garden” as the name would imply, the enclosure of Eden is a contained state of being. It expresses and represents the existential mode underlying human creation and its first stages of growth. The state is accordingly one of mystical bliss, the natural condition for the human beings of such a formation.

There is ambiguity regarding the nature and number of trees in the center of the sacred enclosure- the contained bliss state. Suffice it to say that consuming the fruit of the Tree of Life (ToL) did not compromise the state of divine grace the primordial human couple of the story experienced. Partaking of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge (ToK), on the other hand, was an act that was said to result in death, preceded by the notorious fall from grace that ushered it.

Rather than buy into the idea that humanity suffers because they were disobedient, and its overtones of capitulation to tyranny (even if Divine), the mythical rendition and its variety of nuances challenges the seeker of esoteric wisdom. Therein the story calls us to penetratingly discern beneath its surface veneer, or fall victim to the seductive prejudices that come whenever mysteries are superficially approached. I would suggest, therefore, that we forget the names of the players in this drama; set aside the blame and the usual suspects. Then perhaps we can focus on the process of unfolding patterns of symbolism embedded therein.

As already mentioned, our story unfolds in the heart of a divine enclosure, an existential state of bliss depicted as an actual place not necessarily on the material plane of existence. We can view the enclosure in terms of a kind of paradoxical chrysalis; not even a living womb, for that might suggest the presence of a temptation to slide back into its warm embrace. The dynamic that sustains the integrity of the chrysalis as well as its function (among the many possibilities of its operation) is the ToL. The dynamic of its end is the ToK.

It is said, however, that the enclosure remains intact even after expulsion, and is guarded by a being of power in its eastern gate. The space itself is a westward dynamic, the direction often symbolic of the realm of the grateful dead, the abode of ancestors and the mythic Isles of the Blessed. The west in the esoteric sense is, in fact, where paradise the enclosed garden of bliss resides. It is not in the future where the sun rises, but in the past where the day is left behind.

It is as if the presence of the guardian forces us to refrain from trying to relive the past, however graceful it my have been. Instead we are forced to walk the earth until we come full circle. We may then perhaps enter throw the back door into a new state of grace. But I get ahead of myself. That train of thought is reserved for the concluding installment…next time.

Be that as it may, the above supposition is compatible in meaning with the following: In spite of appearances to the contrary it is quite possible the guardian is not protecting the enclosure from the humans exiled from it. It is guarding the secret that the enclosure itself  is nothing more than discarded shards (Kelipot– QLIPVTh- in Hebrew), the discarded shards of a former stage of divine evolution that may still have a role to play when the “time” is right.

The former presumption, however, is not easily convincing. Is the being from the family of entities known as Kerubim really guarding a secret, or is it actually issuing a challenge for humanity- if not isolated initiates- to earn and embody a profound mystery? After all a similar being was said in another part of the Old Testament to have descended and battled the patriarch Jacob in order for the latter to earn its blessing and gain then title of Israel.

The mystery in this case lies at the heart of the divine enclosure and depends on the understanding of the tale of the two trees growing there. As is the case for mysteries of the occult, paradox lies at their point of comprehension. That the two trees are one tree is a paradox, but it is not inconceivable. The tree, furthermore, as an esoteric mystery lies not in the midst of an abandoned pleasure garden, but in the beings around which the enclosure was manifested in the first place.

As mentioned in the beginning of this four-part work, the two trees are really one. Each description of a distinct tree is really a formalization of an evolutionary phase of a singular entity or potentiality at the very core of human nature. The thing to consider, and hopefully remember, is that you can take Adam and Eve out of the Garden, but you can’t take the Garden (or rather its core dendritic mystery) out of Adam and Eve. Therein, within a rather crude cliché lies profound meaning and the possibility of unfathomable revelation regarding our very human/divine evolutionary potential.

The forbidden version of the tree, whose fruit transformed the first humans into its likeness, expressed the contradiction necessary to seed the path of self-transcendence and ultimate divine purpose. Thus humanity entered the world of suffering- or rather the principle of suffering entered humanity…and so did the consequence of death.

The Tree of Knowledge (of “Good” and “Evil”- as it is commonly and perhaps erroneously translated), corresponds to a deep existential intimacy with the experiences of being broken, fragmented and in a state of existential denial. It is the knowledge of what sets a self aware being apart from its divine origin and center, and the intimate connection with all that is nourishing and all that is existentially toxic (aka “evil”). As it is more akin to the sensual intimacies of carnal knowledge rather than anything held by intellect, the knowing depicted in QBLH wisdom as daath is not just a theoretical contrivance. It is a brutishly raw experience of the extremes it covers.

Sages have harnessed the revelatory potentials of the Eden mythos and established a mapping and description of the esoteric potentials it inspired. The view was known in various cultures of the ancient Mediterranean as Hermetic Wisdom. Its basis is the understanding that the human microcosm and the universal macrocosm are reflections of each other, while both express/represent a Divine reality.

The greatest revelations in the world, however, are nothing more than a play of intellect when one is not conscious of the sacred state of being their embodiment. When this is the case, those embodied revelations of both macrocosm and microcosm complement and support the fulfillment of the nature and purpose of each; I call this fulfillment “Restoration”.

The Tree of Life in its original purity sustains grace. The Tree of the Fallen, known biblically as the tree of the knowledge of “good and evil”, ends the state of grace dependency to initiate and empower evolution through the crucible of fragmented existence.

Suffering, in this author’s view, is a collateral experience and not something with inherent purpose other than its transcendence without compromising the attainment of the third phase of the tree: The restoration as the tree of Living Meaning where grace is now revived as the core of one’s being in unconditional and unbounded relationship with one’s world.

In the next and concluding installment in this series, the nature of the Restoration and its kinship with the Fall itself will be explored at length. The key to be examined is the understanding of the deeper meaning of the words translated as “good” and “evil” in the Genesis story. The suspect conventional translation tends to act in a way similar to a guardian of the entrance to the deeper mysteries of the Eden mythos. These are nothing less than the mysteries of Divine Restoration.

The Tree of Life and The Divine Restoration: Part II

In biblical mythos (literal history to Abrahamic fundamentalists), the first human couple was created within a divine enclosure of pure delight. The enclosure was described as a garden (or more properly an orchard) where many trees pleasing to the eye bore the most refreshing and delicious of fruit. The first human couple was tasked to tend this pleasure garden, while the male who was created first was prompted to name everything he encountered therein.

This account is usually touted as a story of two trees and of disobedience to one’s Creator (and hence Master). Adam the man, was treated as a beloved slave or house pet, and Eve his mate was his Master’s gift and apparently secondary in importance. The man disobeyed the Lord, prompted by the woman, who was in turn “seduced” by the villain of the story in the form of a snake, and the rest is His-story as they say.

The tale of betraying one’s Lord makes sense if you take religious texts verbatim, i.e. with no esoteric component; if you gloss over some inconsistencies, and explain a few things away. It is easy in our world to accept that all we need to do is what we are told when the authority lording itself over us is the “right” one and not the villain. After all, we are obliged in this life to not just follow the rules, but to know which rules to follow. Fortunately for the spiritually somnambulant among us, the latter task is most often appropriated by certain religious institutions whose constituents make it their life’s work to keep the rest of us from thinking for ourselves. Those who encourage otherwise, according to the institutions, are nothing more than shills working for the villain.  

This analysis, however, represents a different track of understanding. It is one that strives to compare and correlate the trees of the biblical Orchard of Delight with two versions of the cabalistic existential mapping also known as the Tree of Life (ToL). One of these is a symmetric array of ten interconnected domains and the other, the same array with one portion gapped or fallen from the rest. I will leave the details of that form (well known to many interested in occultism and QBLH these days) for another day. Instead, the aim here is to elaborate some basic ideas relating to notions of damnation (the fall) and salvation (the restoration).

In essence the fallen tree in QBLH is defined by a gap that alters the dynamic of every relationship within the fabric of its design. Because of this gap, everything else is “off” and one must constantly adjust and experience the trials and frictions of existential compromise when moving through any domain mapped within the tree. If this gap is restored, on the other hand, the discovery and recovery of the original tree of life are actualized in synthesis with the knowledge gained by its/our fall from grace.  

QBLH certainly moves to describe the mechanics of such a fall, elaborating in great detail as to how it happened. The question of “why”, however, is more problematic in a cosmology that is purposeful and revolving around perfect divinity. This is where correlation with the biblical story may provide some insight. The fundamentalist view often takes it for granted that the primordial couple had it good and made bad choices.

Yet there is also the view that suggests the whole thing was a set up. The primordial couple were, in that sense, manipulated to taste the fruit they were ordered to avoid. Thus they would enter the earth plane- the realm beyond the orchard- as an act of defiance to divine authority instead of one ordained by it. The serpent, traditionally a symbol of wisdom and healing, in this drama is working for the “Lord”.   

I find that this view makes sense, but it requires some deeper exploration. Much confusion comes from taking spiritual teachings literally. Spiritual understanding is a paradox. It requires us to strip ourselves from conceptual burdens that overcomplicate things, but also cautions us not to oversimplify either. Spirituality, therefore, amounts to walking a razors edge of insight and intuition in a balancing act that can easily falter. If it does, we slip into misconception and misunderstanding leading to all kinds mischief. The real problem there is that we most often don’t realize slippage has occurred until well after we make a mockery out of our most meaningful revelations.  

Digressions aside, when grace is based on existential integrity, it is a state that comes from the divine core that defines the very fabric of our experience as self. Such experience unites the individual persona commonly called ego with the environment that appears through the five senses to be the “outside” world. Our fabric is then supported and interwoven with the divine truth of Being, inseparable not just from the sense of individual self, but from our intercourse with the allegedly external environment as well. This state of affairs can also be understood as grace because through it desires are attained via what is easily seen from the mundane- fallen- viewpoint as living miraculously.  

The grace of the primordial couple, however, was different because it was grace devoid of initiative, confined and defined by the condition of prohibition. More importantly, it was grace devoid of knowledge. The grace of innocence, in other words, was nothing more than divine dependency. No matter how benign it appears, such “grace” disqualifies the “beneficiaries” of the infinitude of divine possibility for a simple reason: divine dependency is incompatible with the actualization of one’s divine nature.  

One need not resort to conjuring Lucifer, Satan- or any antinomian anthropomorphism- to make comprehend and realize the meaning of the above paragraph. One need only be open to the mystical understanding that all that is created by the Divine is as divine as the Divine itself. There is no need to capitalize either because the Divine is all-permeating and nothing “special” as it were, even when transcendent and apart from the “rest” of all that is. The aforementioned mystical observation makes more sense when we consider creation as divine reproduction- as opposed to craftsmanship and artifice- and all that is created as offspring of its parental causation.  

A human being, however, cannot grow into healthy adulthood when held in the confines of parental dependency. It cannot realize its potential because it has insufficient liberty toward self-definition and discovery. According to this mystical perspective, the Divine is one essence becoming many in an evolutionary process that transforms any compromise into greater actualization potential.  

The process involves the Divine discovering itself within each point of its creation according to the nature of the intrinsic and relativistic limits of those. Such apparently down-sized actualization (or incarnation) may not be under the aegis of the original divine express that begat itself as “them”, at least not in any expressive manner or in a way that does not involve an evolutionary unfolding to a more mature state. But what exactly is the nature of the Divine Aegis? The answer, along with the conclusion to this diatribe, in the next installment.

The Tree of Life and The Divine Restoration: Part I

Out of the ground the LORD God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, (the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil).-  Gen.[2:9]

And the LORD God commanded the man, “You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.” Gen.[2.16-17]

Then the LORD God said, “See, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”. Gen.[3:22]

The above quotes summarize a well-known biblical account. It involves two trees in the Edenic Orchard described therein. These are the Tree of Life (ToL), and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, or just plain Tree of Knowledge (ToK). The latter was notorious for bearing fruit that was forbidden due to its lethal properties.

Abrahamic religion often interprets the story to be not about the trees themselves, but about being obedient to divine command. The “bad guy” of the story, the infamous serpent, warns the first woman (Eve), that the LORD has deceived them, and that eating the fruit does not cause death. On the contrary it elevates man to divine status. The serpent in this story, appears to be the literal animal and not some diabolical manifestation, by the way, just as the trees appear to be real trees, pleasing to they eye with tasty fruit.

The serpent, in any case, is proven right- at least in part- when the “LORD God” (aka YHVH Elohim) talks to “His” collective presence to point out that the man has become like one of them, discerning good and evil. Apparently the woman was secondary, but the interesting tidbit is the phrase that follows. It explicitly states humans will live forever if they eat of the fruit of the Tree of Life, now that they have already eaten of the other fruit.

Before eating of the fruit that triggered dualistic knowledge- or rather the capacity to discern between the two conditions that are translated into English as “good” and “evil”- ingesting the Tree of Life’s fruit was permitted if not downright encouraged. Somehow the forbidden fruit changed all that.

Since humans now have their eyes opened (remorseful as they may have been they would or could not go back to being blind and innocent), they had to be distanced from the enclosure known as Eden, and the ToL that would have completed the transformation begun with the forbidden fruit.

All this is more or less common knowledge by anyone familiar with Abrahamic religions, which amounts to a substantial portion of humanity at the very least. My focus points to a single premise that begs elaboration in my honest opinion: It is the premise that these two trees are actually facets of the same principle.

Suffice it to say that I take the account to be allegorical regardless of how plainly literal its statements appear to be. I also correlate the account in reference to the esoteric mapping that links the human microcosm with creation’s macrocosm, known as the Tree of Life.

Let us examine these “trees” from the viewpoint that they do actually represent “mysteries”. Their perception as well as their comprehension would thus correlate with a mode of knowing that is not obvious to the worldly human psyche. The latter, after all, is more or less conditioned; intrinsically by instinct and extrinsically via social intercourse and its adaptations of relating to the general environment.

These mysteries are not so much hidden or occulted from view. It is rather that most of us are blinded to them in fundamental ways. Those who lifted their veils of awareness in the far past organized some of their understanding to teach and attempt to expand human potential, even with the danger of the fulfillment of the adage that “power corrupts etc.”. In the traditions of the Old Testament, such teachings were known as “receptions” (my paraphrase of the word QBLH– qabalah).

The Old Testament describes a story that appears quite literal, and yet can also be- and often has been- taken as allegory. It is a tale of two trees. The works of QBLH also express an esoteric map known as the Tree of Life (Etz Chaim). The latter is expressed in many versions, two of which stand out for me because they can be compared with the trees of the aforementioned biblical story.

I will refer to these two trees as a) the tree of perfection and b) the tree of the fall. These maps of intriguing territories of arcane wisdom are obviously not literal trees, but perhaps neither are the trees of Eden (fundamentalist objections notwithstanding). My premise or “what if” statement posits that we can come to some interesting and perhaps enlightening understandings if we view the two mapping styles or “trees” of QBLH philosophy as being the very trees of life and knowledge expounded in the biblical narrative.

There is no need here to describe the trees of QBLH, to draw them out, to speak of their parts and interconnecting patterns. Nor is it within the scope of this work to explain from whence the patterns originated in terms of human authorship or accredited documentation. The focus here is the biblical account. The esoteric maps are a reference to fill in the blanks for those choosing to go beyond the usual interpretations by religious or secular scholars.

Suffice it to say that a premise worth pursuing is that the two trees of QBLH are the same tree with a twist. The tree of perfection is simply the original layout of the form. It describes a healthy tree. The tree of the fall describes the aftermath of the equivalent of a lightning strike that altered the shape of the tree by causing a part of it to “fall” a certain distance from the rest (top portion) of the form.

We are speaking of two different states of the same tree. We may as well be speaking of two very different trees, however, because the proverbial fall generates alterations in the context and correspondences of the mapping that establish a reference to a very different territory of challenges than the healthy tree. How does this set of patterns fit within the context of the two trees of Gan Eden (the Orchard of Delight)?

They relate through our initiative to understand the nuances of the biblical story. They provide a context for the option of taking that story as esoteric allegory, and they connect enough dots to provide a revealing picture that can lead to awakening to the possibilities of divine restoration. Another question: what are we restoring? We are restoring the tree, and in doing so we are restoring ourselves by healing the gaps that keep our divine truth from grounding as the prime reality for us in the most tangible manner.

As already mentioned the ToL in its perfect form can be associated with the ToL at the center of Gan Eden. The fallen or asymmetric tree can be associated with the ToK of said Orchard. That implies that Knowledge or Intercourse (as in carnal knowledge) is that of being “fallen” existentially. Thus existential fragmentation results in the Intercourse that leads to one realizing they are equal to Elohim– gods or God for all practical purposes. Let me just run with this.

Even with the deepest existential connections (the knowledge of intercourse with one’s subject) wisdom is not guaranteed. Although the fall may be a path to divine actualization (god-making or simply revealing what is already there), it is still a path paved with suffering and the misery of fragmentation. It is a path of death.

It makes sense, in other words, that such a path of death would only have meaning if it were subsequently applied to restore life. In that restoration of life the knowledge gained can be, therefore, understood to fertilize the wisdom whose crowning essence is itself an actualization of evolving being. As such it is the power to express and apply the profundity of its experience in all one’s relations. Perhaps we can perceive that as the beginning of true healing.

To be continued…