Wednesday, 11 April 2012

The Cycle of Understanding and Wisdom, SY1:4

OK, slightly out of order in terms of SYRC studying. We’re at Sefer Yetzirah chapter 1 verse 6 (1:6) and this is about 1:4. Anyway, perhaps this is a lesson to read Sefer Yetzirah in a non-linear manner.

Sefer Yetzira 1:4, from Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan’s commentary and translation (Sefer Yetzira: The Book of Creation).

Ten Sefirot of Nothingness
ten and not nine
ten and not eleven
Understand with Wisdom
Be Wise with Understanding
Examine with them
And probe from them
Make [each] thing stand on its essence
And make the Creator sit on His Base

Sefer Yetzira 1:4, from Steven A. Fisdel’s commentary and translation (The Practice of Kabbalah):

There are ten nonsubstantive Sefirot. Ten, not nine. Ten, not eleven. Understand through Wisdom and be wise through Understanding. Search within them. Examine from them. Arrive at a decision. And seat the Yetzer in its place.

But how do you understand with/ through wisdom and be wise with/through understanding? Fisdel explains it in one sentence: “Understanding is gained through the pursuit of knowledge and wisdom is gained through experience.”

What you have to do it tie knowledge and experience together in a loop. Extract from that an idea, or principle. Turn that in to a symbol and apply it in your actions in everyday life to help manifest your reality as you will.

Below is a simple diagram that shows the cycle of meditation and contemplation; experience and knowledge. Some Kabbalists refer to this as oscillating consciousness. You get better at it with practice, plus it sensitizes you to experiencing the Sefirot.

Below is a simple diagram that shows how the Sefirot can be used to probe the inner workings of a thing, to “examine with them”. Next “probe from them”, examine the outer appearance of something using the Sefirot as lenses.

Out of this meditation and contemplation should emerge a pattern, an idea or principle. In the same way that the idea of a car is quite abstract and there are many, many different designs of cars – you need to make a clear decision about how the idea will be shaped. This is “making each thing stand on its essence”

The final part is in the Sefirah of Yesod, the one preceding Malchut and Yesod is referred to as dwelling, machon. This is where the energy and light that you have meditated on and contemplated is focused through the symbol of the idea that you’ve extracted is channeled and used to shape your reality.

Here is a quick revision of the steps to “understand with wisdom, be wise with understanding” and “examine with them and probe from them”:

  1. Pick a topic, object or thing to meditate on 
  2. Spend a set period of time meditating on it 
  3. Spend a similar amount of time contemplating your meditative experiences 
  4. Extract an idea or concept from the contemplation 
  5. Meditate on stillness, silence or whatever it is you do to tune yourself in the experience of to Sefirot energies 
  6. Examine the inner nature of the object of the meditation, what Sefirotic energies are you experiencing? 
  7. Reflect on how the object is viewed through different Seforit looking glasses 
  8. Channel the flow of energy through a symbol that represents the idea extracted from your meditation 
  9. Hold that Symbol in your mind’s eye and use it to create your day to day reality

Steven A. Fisdel does a better job of describing the meditation on page 80 of his book “The Practice of Kabbalah: Meditation in Judaism