Gnosis of the Cosmic Christ: A Gnostic Christian Kabbalah

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9780738705910: Gnosis of the Cosmic Christ: A Gnostic Christian Kabbalah

The noble idea of the Christian Kabbalah is not so much the worship of Jesus Christ, but rather a conscious evolution toward a divine or super-humanity. In this regard, Christian Kabbalah is quite different from its Jewish roots, and Gnostic Christianity is very different from orthodox Christianity. Both are about experiencing God and evolving toward God, rather than just studying theology.

This groundbreaking work is the first to present the Christian Gnosis of the Kabbalah in a practical and deeply esoteric way. It takes the reader from the basic ideas of the Kabbalah to in-depth explorations of the Tree of Life. Gnostic legends and myths of the Holy Mother, St. Lazarus, St. Mary Magdalene, and Jesus are woven into the study of the Holy Sefirot as well as commentaries on the Ten Commandments and The Beatitudes of the Sermon on the Mount.

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About the Author:

Tau Malachi's (Malachi eben Ha-Elijah's) spiritual journey began when he met the acquaintance of a Tau of the Sophian Tradition of Gnostic Christianity, Tau Elijah ben Miriam. He received the oral tradition of Sophian Gnosticism from Tau Elijah, and has been a student and practitioner of Gnostic Christianity for over thirty-five years. In 1983 he founded Sophia Fellowship as an expression of the tradition, and has been teaching and initiating others into Christian Gnosticism, Rosicrucian Philosophy and Christian Kabbalah since that time. He is an initiate of Ordo Sanctus Gnosis and serves as an Elder and Tau within the Sophian lineage.

Tau Malachi is also a Chevalier (a dubbed Knight) in the International Order of Chivalric Companions, a Martinist, and is an ordained and consecrated Independent Bishop. He is co-founder of The Gnostic Apostolic Church of Sophia and is among the leading exponents of Christian Gnosticism and Kabbalah in our times.

Along with his exploration of the Western Mystery Tradition, he has studied extensively in several Eastern Traditions, such as Vajrayana Buddhism and Vedanta, and he also studied within a Middle Eastern Tradition of Sufism, as well as becoming involved in Native American Shamanism. Though Gnostic Christianity has always been his heart's path.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Chapter One: The Kabbalah of Gnostic Christianity

Purpose and Nature of the Kabbalah

The Kabbalah is an archaic system of Jewish Mysticism that has its roots in the assembly of prophets of ancient Israel and the Merkavah Mysticism of Palestine during the time of Jesus (Yeshua in Aramaic). Considering that Yeshua was Jewish and his disciples were Jewish, and understanding him to be a mystic and prophet of his time, it is reasonable to assume that he taught a form of the mystical tradition that has come to be known as the Kabbalah.

For this reason, many mystical and gnostic currents of Christianity have arisen that take the Kabbalah as their foundation. This is certainly true of the Sophian Tradition, which is so interwoven with the teachings of the Kabbalah that it is impossible to separate out Gnosticism and Kabbalah in the Tradition. Essentially, one might call the Sophian Tradition a Christian Kabbalah or a form of Gnostic Christianity that draws heavily upon its Judaic roots. Therefore, to explore Gnostic Christianity, as expressed in the Sophian Tradition, we must explore some of the basic ideas of the Kabbalah from which the teachings and principles of our Gnostic Christianity are derived.

The principal teachings of the Kabbalah were designed to explore and find answers to some basic questions:

  • The nature and attributes of God and the Godhead
  • The development of a cosmology
  • The mystery of the creation of angels and humankind
  • The destiny of humankind and angels
  • The nature of the human soul and its connection to the divine
  • The nature of cosmic forces-angels, demons, elementals and such
  • The inner meaning of the revealed law and Holy Gospel
  • The transcendental symbolism of numbers and geometrical shapes
  • The mysteries contained in the Hebrew letters
  • The balance in the play of cosmic forces
  • The mystery of divine revelation and prophetic states of consciousness
  • The mystery of the divine incarnation and the divine plan on earth

Considering the vast height, depth, and breadth of these metaphysical questions, one can imagine the enormous amount of esoteric teachings, practices, and literature that has formed around the Kabbalah in the course of thousands of years. Although there are many modern truth-seekers who have read a book or two on the Kabbalah and mistakenly assumed they know the Kabbalah, the truth is that even a master of the Tradition, who has studied and practiced the Kabbalah all of his or her life and who actively embodies something of the enlightenment experience it represents, would not claim to know the Kabbalah. One could say that God knows the Kabbalah and that, for our part, we know what we have received of it in our own experience―which is a far cry from knowing the Kabbalah as God knows it.

Essentially, the teachings of the Kabbalah represent the accumulated knowledge, understanding, and wisdom of initiates, which have been gathered from their own direct spiritual experience of the metaphysical dimensions of creatures, creation, and God. The Kabbalah itself is the knowledge, understanding, and wisdom of the true nature of creatures, creation, and God-which is known in full only to God. If the whole of the Kabbalah is in a book, then it is the heavenly Book of Life of which the Holy Scriptures speak, and not any earthly book.

The teachings of the Kabbalah are founded upon the Bible, along with other books of Scripture that did not make their way into the canonized Bible. Thus, to study and understand the Kabbalah in its proper context is to study and understand the Scriptures also. Just as many mistakenly assume that they know the Kabbalah from reading a book or two, likewise many assume that they are knowledgeable in the Kabbalah without being well-studied in the Scriptures. Ultimately, however, one cannot study and understand the Kabbalah without also studying and gaining some understanding of the Holy Scriptures. To engage in the study and practice of the Kabbalah is to embark upon a mystical journey into hidden levels of the Scriptures and the secret wisdom they contain. In essence, the Scriptures and the Kabbalah are one and the same.

Three Branches of the Kabbalah

The teachings of the Kabbalah are divided into three principal forms: the theoretical or contemplative Kabbalah, the meditative Kabbalah, and the practical or magical Kabbalah. The theoretical or contemplative Kabbalah is an intellectual study and contemplation of the principles, doctrines, and correspondences of esoteric wisdom, including gematria, the associations of numbers and geometrical patterns, and so on. The meditative Kabbalah represents the teachings and practices of mystical prayer and prophetic meditation-methods through which one can enter a higher state of consciousness and experience unification with the divine. The practical or magical Kabbalah represents teachings of invocations, incantations, rituals, and such, through which one is able to shift states of consciousness at will and to consciously direct hidden spiritual forces. From this, one will understand that the Kabbalah is both a mystical and a magical Tradition. Here, we will be dealing primarily with the contemplative Kabbalah and to some extent the meditative Kabbalah. The magical Kabbalah will be referred to in passing at different points of this book; however, it is not the subject of this work.

The Ten Holy Sefirot and the Tree of Life

There are ten Sefirot (plural), which are generally referred to as Midot, meaning “measurements” or “dimensions” and, by extension, also meaning “attributes” or “qualities.” The Sefirot are emanations of the divine presence and power of God, or the infinite light of God, and they are vessels receiving God's light and transmitting it to creation. They are gradations of the involution of the infinite light into finite creation, and thus are gradations of the evolution of creatures on the path of return-like rungs on a ladder of light. When we read of Jacob's vision of a ladder reaching up from the earth to the heavens, upon which he beheld angels ascending and descending, the Kabbalah would say that that Jacob had a vision of the constellation of the Sefirot that forms the Tree of Life.

The word Sefirah (singular) is related to the Hebrew word saper, meaning “to express” or “to communicate,” and to the word sapir, meaning “sapphire,” “brilliance,” or “luminary.” It is also related to the words sefar, meaning “boundary”; sefer, meaning “book”; and safar, meaning “number.” All of these terms represent related concepts and indicate the two basic functions of the Sefirot: lights or emanations that act to reveal and express God's presence and power (Shekinah); and vessels that limit and delineate the infinite light of God, bringing it down into the finite realm of numeration and boundary.

Essentially, the Sefirot, and the various levels of their manifestation called Olamot or universes, represent the metaphysical structure of creation or the vehicle through which creature, creation, and God are connected and interact. In Genesis, ten utterances are listed through which God creates. These correspond with the ten Sefirot and suggest the idea of creature and creation as the revelation or expression of God and as the vessel receiving and imparting the divine presence-hence the body of God. Through the Sefirot, God reaches out to us and we are able to reach into God.

The most common way these Sefirot are represented is as a glyph called the Tree of Life (Otz ha-Hayyim). The Sefirot are depicted as ten circles that form three triads, one atop, one in the middle, and one below, with a single Sefirah set as a pendant below the lowest triad. In this same configuration they also appear as ten circles divided into three columns-one to the right, one to the left, and one in the middle-which are called “pillars.” These are two ways to view the same glyph (figure 1, below).

In the view of the three triads of Sefirot and one Sefirah as a pendant, the top triad is called the supernal triad, the triad in the middle is called the moral triad, the triad below is called the action triad. The Sefirah that appears as a pendant is called Malkut (Kingdom). Malkut is the “fruit” of the Tree of Life, as well as the vessel receiving the influence of all the emanations above it. In the view of the Tree of Life as three pillars, the right and left pillars are composed of three Sefirot each, and the middle pillar is composed of four Sefirot. The pillar on the right is called the Pillar of Mercy and the pillar on the left is called the Pillar of Severity-the Pillars of Jachin and Boaz in the temple of King Solomon. One is positive and the other negative; one is male and the other is female; one is white, the other is black-so that these two pillars represent the eternal play of opposites in dynamic interaction. Evil is imbalanced force, out of place or out of harmony. Severity in imbalance is cruelty and oppression, and mercy in imbalance is weakness that allows and facilitates great evil. True compassion is a dynamic balance of severity and mercy.

The Middle Pillar is therefore the path of the ascension, representing the dynamic balance of all polarities or opposites, and the integration of everything that would otherwise be fragmented. The Kabbalah teaches the Middle Way, akin to what is found in forms of Hinduism and Buddhism in the Eastern schools. For this reason, whether the tree is viewed in terms of the triads or the three pillars, the Sefirah Tiferet (beauty), which is the Christ center on the tree, is in the middle.

As there are ten circles representing the Sefirot on the Tree of Life, so also are there twenty-two lines connecting the Sefirot, to which the Hebrew letters are attributed. Thus the tree is composed of thirty-two paths, which in the Sefer Yetzirah are called the “Thirty-Two Paths of Wisdom.”  Various correspondences are given to both the Sefirot and the Hebrew letters. Through the interrelationship of correspondences, initiates are able to look and see the mysteries contained in the Scriptures and are able to gain insight into the mysteries of creation and God. Yet more, they are able to receive the ongoing divine revelation in the same way as the prophets and apostles of God before them.

The Olamot-Universes

The ten Sefirot manifest through five different levels or dimensions, which are called Olamot, meaning “universes.” These Olamot are known as the universe of Adam Kadmon (primordial human being), the universe of Atzilut (emanation or nearness), the universe of Beriyah (creation), the universe of Yetzirah (formation), and the universe of Asiyah (action or making). The Olamot extend from the supernal abode of the divine to the material plane of existence, the universe of Adam Kadmon being nearest to the light of the Infinite and Asiyah being the material plane of existence. The ten Sefirot manifest in each Olam, thus there are ten Sefirot of Adam Kadmon, ten Sefirot of Atzilut, ten Sefirot of Beriyah, ten Sefirot of Yetzirah, and ten Sefirot of Asiyah, for a total of fifty Sefirot, which are called the “Fifty Gates of Understanding.”

These five Olamot correspond to the divine name of Yahweh (Yod-He-Vau-He), frequently called the “Tetragrammaton” because it is composed of four letters. Adam Kadmon is represented by the upper tip of the Yod (y), Atzilut by the body of the Yod, Beriyah by the first He (h), Yetzirah by the Vau (v), and Asiyah by the final He. This divine name is said to be contained in the universe of Adam Kadmon and it is said to contain all other divine names, the divine names being within it and yet being worn by it as “garments.”

The divine name of Yeshua or Yeheshuah (Yod-He-Shin-Vau-He), which is the name of Yahweh with the addition of the letter Shin (w), represents the embodiment of the divine presence and power of Yahweh and thus something of the spiritual energy of Adam Kadmon. The universe of Adam Kadmon and the Sefirot it contains, therefore, represent the Soul of the Messiah. This gives insight into the title “Son of Adam” (son of man), used for Yeshua in the Gospels.

To gain some insight into the nature of the Olamot, one might contemplate them in terms of the sun and its light and the moon that reflects the light. First, one must understand that, looking at the sun, one does not see the sun but rather sees the glory or radiance of the sun. Therefore, within and beyond what one sees is the sun itself. From the “sun within the sun,” light is generated and that hidden place of the generation of light would correspond to Adam Kadmon. The glory or light of the sun one beholds would correspond to Atzilut. The light passing to the moon would correspond to Beriyah. The light of the moon itself would correspond to Yetzirah, and the light of the full moon shining upon the earth would correspond to Asiyah. In a similar way, the light of the Infinite passes through the Olamot from Adam Kadmon to Asiyah, and thus, the supernal light is progressively veiled and reduced in intensity.

Another way of gaining some understanding of the Olamot is to consider them at the level of human experience. The inmost will of a human being corresponds to the universe of Adam Kadmon. The level of pure awareness or preconceptual and undifferentiated mind corresponds to Atzilut. The process of thought itself corresponds to Beriyah. Speech or communication corresponds to Yetzirah, and action corresponds to Asiyah.

Adam Kadmon = Will
Atzilut = Mind
Beriyah = Thought
Yetzirah = Speech
Asiyah = Action

The best way to contemplate this is to consider the creative process of an architect who is designing a large building complex. First he or she decides what kind of buildings will fit the purposes for which they are being constructed. Then he or she draws up the corresponding plans and considers how each building will serve its function in relationship to the other structures. Finally, he or she gives orders to his or her workers and the actual construction begins.

In our analogy, the level of Adam Kadmon is represented by the desire and decision of the architect to build before there is any particular plan in mind. Atzilut would be represented by the process of designing a plan for the building on the most abstract level. Once there is a blueprint, everything still remains at an abstract level and thought must be given to figure out exactly how the plan will work or how it can actually be implemented. Up to this point, everything has taken place in the architect's office, but now seeking to practically apply the plan, the architect must go to the site.

Going to the site and thinking things through on a more practical level, bringing the idea down from the abstract symbolic form into something that can be implemented, would represent Beriyah. When the architect communicates the actual ideas and methods of construction to the workers, this would be akin to Yetzirah. The actual work of construction would correspond to Asiyah; the finished product itself would represent the final Sefirah of Asiyah (Malkut of Asiyah).

The analogy can be taken even further into all purposeful human activity. Any time a person decides to do something, he or she conceives a general plan. As he or she gets closer to enacting it, his or her thought processes almost spontaneously trigger nerve impulses, which then travel through the body. The person's muscles follow the commands of the brain and bring about the corresponding action.

We are experiencing something of the Olamot all of the time through...

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