Wading into the Depths

I am probably going to be talking about the Saadia material for a bit. I am not talking about it from a sense of expertise with the material and its context, but from the way in which it seems to provide a solid model for talking about the spiritual work I have been engaged within. Heck, being able to explore the model without diving into that context is one of the model’s virtues—it has the quality of a theorem which I can examine and apply according to its inner logic.

So, I spent the last post talking about the way in which the paths of 7 and 12 provided me with the means to make better sense of some of my own work’s planetary affinities. Let me talk now a little about the sefirot as depths.

Repeating myself a little: one of the first things that appeals to me about the Saadia classification is that it separates the planets and stars (temporal objects) from the sefirot (eternal potencies). As I look to what the Saadia system identifies the sefirot with, it gets even more interesting. The sefirot are the depths of East, West, North, South, Up, Down, Past, Future, Good, and Evil.

While those may sound like they are temporal objects, a closer examination reveals that they are the forms through which temporal objects become possible. In turn, by being so firmly rooted in orientation, the depths are implicated in each other even as they exist separately; you can’t have west without east, right? They simultaneously create and differentiate creation.

That’s awfully cool, because once again I find myself looking at a model that is exceptionally portable, unfolding everywhere, simultaneously (and trans-temporaneously) in a way that pleasantly mirrors some of the notions of time-as-illusion and time-as-derivative models that have been suggested by some physicists over the course of the last few decades.

These depths also unite us, in manners both clear and obscure, beyond the bounds of temporal existence, preserving the fundamental gnostic intuition about the disconcerting gap between temporal and eternal. Because the Saadia’s sefirot are the potencies of differentiation itself, it opens up naturally to a dialogue with contemporary, gnostic-friendly philosophical concepts, such as those developed by Jacques Derrida, Gilles Deleuze, and structuralism more generally.

More generally, it is a Kabbalah that easily welcomes the visionary experiences of people like William Blake and generations of spiritualists, with worlds opening within worlds. Just as there is an unfolding tree in you, reader, wherever you are, there are trees within trees within me, and that seems to be part of where Blogos’s cellular consciousness takes us, into the dynamic synergy of our bio-cellular being as multiple and one at the same time. The Body Electric within and without, back to some of the early spirit messages pointing me toward a coil of life.

Here, I can see some room to engage in non-reductive comparative spiritual cosmology, or as I have phrased it elsewhere, communicative mythology. The Mesoamericans, for example, developed a parallel system for understanding the cosmos anchored in an intertwining tree of potencies deeply embedded in directionality (up, down, north, south, west, east) and time (past and future). Closer to the Kabbalistic home, this opens up some possibilities for comparing the science of letters elaborated by Ibn al’Arabi with the system of the tree of life, since both describe, through the differentiation of letters, a parallel differentiation of the cosmos.

If a dialogue can be had between the various science of letters, then I suspect this opens the door to meaningful communication between the Kabbalah and geomancy, including some of the elaborate, science of letters–like applications found in West Africa. The geomantic dimensions of this are probably larger than that, though, and I will talk about them more in a future post.

Best of all, because it is rooted in a model of the sefirot that reveals them to be self-differentiating over the expanse of creation, it should begin and end in a place where all participants of the dialogue retain their individuality even as they open toward a common and profound universality. That’s beautiful and elegant, providing an entree into pressing ethical matters surrounding personal and cultural difference, without losing sight of the horizon into which those issues flow.

It opens the door to thinking about the Kabbalah in light of critical philosophy, from Kant down through Adorno and Benjamin, speaking of other small things.

There are layers of personal gnosis that this rests up against, though that’s always a bit trickier to talk about. Still, the dream where Adam (in the) West was lecturing me on the movement between sefirot comes into bolder relief with the Depths of the West (Yesod) itself being a sefirot.

All of this, again, without getting any further than the superficial outline of the Saadia tree of life. I am betting there are some things out there in the details and context of it that will be useful, too.

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