Introduction to the Tree of Life
by Dr. David Sanders
This poem, a 2,000 year old description of Ten Sefirot is the basis for the Tree of Life –a map of the flow of energy from infinite to finite, or viewed another way they are different stages through which creative energy flows.
Ten Sefirot of Nothingness
Their measure is ten,
which has no end.
a depth of beginning,
a depth of end.
finds expression in them all.
~ Sefer Yetzirah -The Book of Formation 1:5
The KE logo is a representation of the Tree of Life. In Transformational Kabbalah the Tree of Life is used as a pragmatic tool for seeing how and why things, people, and events manifest in your life -and how and why you creatively manifest things, people, and events.
In advanced study each of the Sefirot (Sefirah in the singular) represents a practice of awareness (See 11 Principles of KE). The perspective of the flow of the Tree is seen in the influence of higher awareness, the Sefirot above, on lower awareness, the Sefirot below.
The Sefirot of the Tree of Life
The name-concept and position of each Sefirah was designated by the early Kabbalah masters in southern France in the 12th century. The mapping of the Sefirot has remained the same since then with no variations (an 11th Sefirah is added to form the intellect triad). The Tree consists of triads laid out horizontally to demonstrate an intricate flow of energy through connecting channels. The triads are: intellect, emotion and instinct with a Sefirah above and below the triads.
Here, KE Founder Dr. David Sanders offers you a simplified glimpse of the profound meanings of each Sefirah. The introductory and subsequent advanced SPACE courses enable students to journey deeper and deeper into their own lives and new levels of spiritual awareness.
0 Keter is Crown, as the highest Sefirah, is situated about the intellectual triad and is designated as “superconscious.” Keter is infinite source, a state of being, the field of possibility. It is the ultimate unseen reality. Color gold represents purification, conductivity and malleability.
1 Chochmah is Wisdom: the seed of an idea, insight, inspiration, intuition, inchoate awareness. Color blue-black represents emergence of something from no-thing.
2 Binah is Understanding: fleshing out an idea, formulating the story, fashioning the structure. Color dark red represents the “something” congealing.
3 Da’at is Knowing: integrating the idea, identifying with it, an intimate connection. Color gray for integration.
4 Chesed is Unbounded Love: expanding ideas, enlarging the circle, empathic concern. Color blue for flow (water).
5 Gevurah is Strength of Boundaries: setting limits, saying no, seeking focus. Color red for definition (stop).
6 Tiferet is Beauty: harmonizing and holding opposing energies, having compassion. Color yellow radiates light.
7 Netzach is Victory: overcoming obstacles, orchestrating intention. Color purple for power.
8 Hod is Surrender: acknowledging what is, accepting and giving way. Color orange for restoration and hope.
9 Yesod is Foundation: telling or twisting your truth, testing authenticity. Color green for growth and renewal.
10 Malchut is Sovereignty the final, lowest Sefirah of the culmination of the flow from Keter through the Sefirot, from possible to actual. Malchut is what manifests or is expressed. Color brown for source-ground.
As is our practice in Transformational Kabbalah, let’s go a little deeper with an exploration of the metaphors, parallel meanings and language origins of TREE…
Until recently we did not fully understand and appreciate the life-giving force of a tree and how intimately connected our human survival is with her. The Hebrew word for tree is Etz (spelled in Hebrew: Ayin-Tzadi). The word Etz is cognate to the word in Hebrew Etzah (spelled in Hebrew Ayin-Tzadi-Heh), which means advice. Let us now pay attention to the wise advice the tree gives us.
In the creation myth a story is told that the fruit tree rebelled against God who had designed the tree’s bark to be edible with the same taste of its fruit. Tree said no—for if my “bark is not different than my bite” my entirety will be devoured. Tree understood human nature and that humans could eat the goose and not preserve what lays the golden eggs. Shel Silverstein captures this dilemma in The Giving Tree.
The tree then is the first and most fitting environmentalist—asking humans to be fully conscious of how our own survival is intertwined with the survival of the planet we inhabit. Once we take for granted the gift of life that has been bestowed on us as citizens of this planet and chop down the trees—so that they can never return—we have lost the path to the Tree of Life.
Survival is one opportunity. Creativity is another opportunity—bearing the fruit of our intentions and labors.
The Tree of Life serves as a map for the flow of creativity into manifestation. We are presented with a schematic of how the “infinite” (golden) possibilities manifest in finite reality. Many ideas falter on the drawing board, dreams and visions are shattered along the way, our essence can be misused or distorted, we can recoil from expressing ourselves due to fear or shame. The Tree of Life directs us to consider our deeper purpose in all our endeavors—to be aware that beyond (above) our own (limited) creativity is the field of all possibility which we are inherently connected with and enables us to change or modify any narrative.