The Tree of Life
There are many disagreements about the Qabalah, even down to the spelling of the name. It's better known as Kabbalah or Cabala, but if we make the effort we will find many more variations, each purporting to be right!
Some say the subject has only come into being since the middle ages, and others suggest that it has been studied for thousands of years. However, most would agree that it is of Jewish origin.The Qabalah cannot be classed as a religion in any sense, although it successfully encompasses the values of all of them.
However, it has been known as the 'Mystical interpretation of the Old Testament', and those who study it say it gives many explanations of biblical statements and apparent contradictions that have sometimes confused understanding.
The study of the Qabalah is the examination of the individual on every level - from the physical self to the higher spiritual entity - and this is just one aspect of it, for it also encompasses a spectrum of infinite possibilities, including the idea of other worlds, the magical power of number, language, and universal concepts that move us closer to understanding our origins and destiny.
The principle tool of examination is what is known as The Tree of Life - a diagram of 10 circles (sephiroth), linked together by lines (paths), which make it strangely resemble that of DNA. It relates not only to the 10 aspects of the human psyche, but also, amongst many other things, the 10 Cosmic Laws of Creation, and the 10 Faces of The Creator, of which we are but a reflection. In very simplistic terms, the Tree of Life can be likened to a 'reference map' of 10 Temples of Light, through which the disciple may travel on the road to self-discovery, using the 22 paths which link one temple to another.
Although based in Jewish Tradition, many of non Jewish persuasion study the subject, and in particular The Tree of Life.
There are many arguments as to what is or what is not the Qabalah, and indeed the right ways of accessing it. However, one aspect of it - The Tree of Life - is so versatile it encompasses all things for all people, and therein lies its infinite value, for whether we are of a certain religious persuasion, an atheist, agnostic, materialist, philosopher, psychologist, scientist, or simply just a querent, it acknowledges such variety of opinion, yet opens doorways of new perception that help us to really know and understand where we come from, what we believe in, and above all the reasons why we do so.
The keywords for the Qabalah are 'Know Thyself', which may seem a simple statement - and indeed it is - yet those who study it find themselves not only in a never ending field of self discovery, but also of the world and universe around them. Whatever way we look at it, from the simplistic to the complex, in responds to the 'level' of our personal understanding, is open to challenge, and holds many answers that have hitherto defied explanation.By studying theTree of Life, we get in touch with just one aspect of this remarkable subject, but perhaps this is the most important area, for it is directly associated with ourselves in the personal sense, as well as part of the human evolution.
The Qabalah, therefore, is arguably not a religion but more a philosophy and, although it does not purport to make life easier, it does help us ensure that we can make it much better. Its value is in the use of The Tree of Life as a psychological 'tool', and its study can be likened to taking a Degree in Life.
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