Before we elaborate on each of the ten steps of esoteric cultivation offered in the SY (Earliest Recoverable Text), it would be useful to do a quick paraphrase so the reader has an idea regarding where we are going with our exposition. Let us start with a description of sephirah anatomy. Each of these ten accounts of restraining (contemplation practices), has a title, followed by a two-part theme that constitutes our main target of focused attention. The title amounts to the meaning of the word for the corresponding number value of a given account. This, along with the preliminary contemplation practice involving the depth or mystery of the account’s conceptual label sets the stage for the main practice.
The first thing we do is look at the general structuring of the accounts themselves. As already mentioned, we are to organize the stages of practice in terms of serial pairs, defined by the labels we have been given as mysteries or unfathomable depths. In this manner, the first two depths are complementary as first and last. The next two- loosely and inaccurately translated- as good and bad follow. Then we have the complementary directions in the space around the practitioner (up/down, front/back, left/right).
In the center of these is the practitioner. Their strength in the practice of deep contemplation is the embodiment of the covenant of alignment so as to attain the mystical state of awareness necessary for success. The aforementioned covenant means the requisite level of proficiency in contemplation cannot be bypassed or glossed if the aspirant wants the process of cultivation to give up is fruits. This takes time, and cutting corners will at best severely dilute the power of our subsequent specified practices. As with the alleged practitioners of old, taking a path such as this is a matter of serious commitment; hence the allusion to the biblical covenant itself.
That being said, and given one has attained a level of experience that allows one to access deep states of awareness more or less easily, one can focus that ability to specific themes of focus. The stages are addressed in pairs, with contemplation practice being holding them together. That means after each pair is worked, the two are worked together. To work each pair we address the depth of each. This can be taken as the mystery theme behind the corresponding process. The number value complements this and can be understood as coupled with it. Thus, if the number one (AChD) is understood as a dynamic of self-reflection, the depth or mystery theme of the account is that of cause, where RAShITh literally means: first. These two words tell us what the account is addressing: the mystery of cause in terms of the self-reflecting dynamic of the number one. At the same time, such simple descriptions do not do the theme itself justice. Only contemplation on their connection can. In that sense, both the number and the mystery theme represent the tone that emerges from our experience of AIN.
The next part of the account is two-fold and establishes the framing of the account, or the way we relate to the procedure. The first represents the context, likened to a coal, and the second to the power that drives it, like the flame causing the coal to burn. At the same time, the relationship is reversed. The second part is context and fuel to the first, which is its driving force. We, therefore, treat these two parts as if each one were ignited within the other, which is its fuel. Let’s return to our example of the first account and just show the two-fold main body of the corresponding verse:
- Elohim [Power/Powers] of Life,
- …She is the Sanctifying Spirit [Intelligence] of This.
Alternate: It is this: the Sanctifying Spirit.
We have two interlocking themes here; the powers of life, and the sanctifying intelligence. The latter, depending on the translation details, is either a part of Elohim of Life or another name for it. Either way, the Spirit (RVCh) is of dedication to a specified purpose- entity or circumstance.
We will thoroughly explore the meanings apparent and implied from the above phrasing. In this analysis we aim to look at the framing of contemplation practice for the ten verses of accomplishment in general.
Clearly, before we can apply we need to understand. Before we can understand we need to approach in the most coherent manner, respecting the hints given to us in the text we have already analyzed for the Earliest Recoverable Text of the SY. Embedding the first and second parts of the verse into each other may appear like a questionable feat of conception. It makes sense because of the insight such a paradoxical coupling inspires. It also makes sense because it demands a thorough understanding of the two parts of each account or the flame in the burning coal will go out.
In the above example, we are challenged to not just have a sense of intellectual meaning, but to experience directly in and through contemplation what Elohim of Life is- at least to the one contemplating. If the translation is ambiguous or exhibits more than one rendering, we need to examine the options in relation to the first part of the account. Our touchstones of meaning are the number of the account, and the depth or mystery of the corresponding quality associated with the account.
The tactic of using complex contemplation practices to attain esoteric accomplishment is not uncommon in formal cultivation systems such as Indian yoga. In this case, we are weaving two parts of a single practice defined by a combination of the esoteric meanings of its corresponding number and a conceptual quality meant to trigger a gnosis experience in relation to the given verse. It is noteworthy that, from a cultivation perspective, if one masters a given account (sephirah), they can tune into its power directly by focusing on its corresponding number.
In that sense, the system may not simply be one of one-shot mastery of an end-goal. Such states of accomplishment are rare, and quite unlikely just the result of a pre-structured process of cultivation. There are many who can apply esoteric gnosis, but few who abide in it perpetually. One could, therefore, master the ten accounts as a series of steps to enter a state of esoteric empowerment for a specified purpose. Living in perpetual gnosis would be the goal of a mystic, and it may indeed have been the nature of the singular adept described in verse 2.V. For most disciples of the revived system, however, it would be much easier to selectively enter the hallowed state, so as to temporarily gain abilities a lay person would consider supernatural.
It is realistic to surmise, furthermore, that the aforementioned application could have been a precursor to that state of perpetual gnosis whose accomplishment would be considered more a matter of divine grace than diligent practice. Even if the aspirant did not or could not attain that final state of grace, they probably could activate a lesser or more temporary gnosis in order to heal someone, or divine the future or to acquire enhanced oratory capacity. It would be as simple as counting from one to ten for a master of the process. One could even perform feats of magic, such as constructing a golem, for example.
It goes without saying that our analysis is speculative, but also that this speculation is founded on text interpretation in the context of esoteric practices of other traditions past and present. The practice of condensing the power of a phrase (meant to activate either through ritual or some form of cultivation application) into a single word or even a gesture, is known as anchoring in the modern manipulative practice of Neurolinguistic Programming. Our accounts are. therefore, tapestries of potential meant to be weaved from a number of interacting strands of practice, themselves an outcome of progressive accomplishment.
They also relate to each other in at least three ways. 1) The first four are distinct from the last six. 2) The activation of each is dependent on feedback with its paired verse (the next or the previous). The test to see if one activates the first account is to easily be able to practice the second one, while the latter’s success depends on the quality of the former’s activation. 3) The accounts are progressive in a serial manner, which is how we can serially number them. In this way, each one sets the foundation for the next whether it is its polar pair or not. Keeping in mind the prerequisites and framings for each account, and how they are to be approached. We can proceed to a more in depth immersion by addressing them in the pairs emphasized by the text itself.