The image of the tree of life as a coil, as a circuit, has its roots in a more fundamental sense that we can reverse the traditional direction of emanation without losing much. We can conceive of the highest spiritual dimensions of experience as increasingly more subtle expressions of the material world in much the same way as we can conceive of the material world as a particularly dense emanation of the highest spiritual potencies. At the most basic level, the difference doesn’t much matter. At the level of our experience and understanding, though, it does matter. The intellectual appreciation of their reversability is very different that our experience of their reversability.
For ease of reference, let’s call the movement from material to spiritual sublimation and the movement from spiritual to material coagulation. With sublimation, we tend to be aware of the material roots of a spiritual experience, like Scrooge calling Marley’s ghost a bit of undigested beef. With coagulation, the spiritual manifests directly in ways that make it difficult to ascribe to a material cause, as when Saul is struck blind with a vision on the road to Damascus. While we tend to seek out and favor the dramatic experiences of coagulation, the ones that we have to labor to give material cause, I’d like to suggest that the greatest spiritual work tends to happen elsewhere, along the line of sublimation.
That is not terribly sexy, I know, but it is a good deal more honest. No matter how dramatic the experience or vision, we only have the space of our lives to unfold it. In the grand scheme, that is a pretty small space. Heck, even in the relatively modest scales of our personal experience, the space of a life can feel awfully small. We can dream big, envision cosmic forces, but in our day-to-day lives we are strange apes that talk a lot and wear clothes.
When we get down to work with our destiny we discover that it isn’t the lineaments of a story fit for a fantasy novel or epic poetry. Destiny is a good deal more humble than that, a wish carried in our bones that expands in life by absorption. Working destiny is little more than softening and hardening the bone, loosing what is not needed and drawing in what is. What we have to work is the stuff of our life, small and humble though it is.