Some folks from my Monday night class asked for a write up of this, so here it is:
The most ancient (and still used) texts of the Kaballah is called the “Sefer Yetzirah” or the Book of Formation and it’s contents are generally attributed to the patriarch Abraham. The book opens with a discussion of the “32 Mystical Paths of Wisdom”. These paths are derived from the 10 digits on our hands which parallel numbers (quantity) and the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet with which we are able to describe reality (quality). They are also reflected in the 10 “sefirot”-spheres of energy that are the building blocks of physical reality yet also relate to character traits as well as states of consciousness:
These ten points are connected by 22 lines or pathways (not depicted in this picture). This allows for a total of 32 states of consciousness with names like “Sekhel Mufla” Mystical Consciousness, “Sekhel Maz’hir” Radiant Consciousness and “Sekhel Kavua” Settled Consciousness.
The Sefer Yetzirah is a guidebook that explains the tools and techniques that are required to enter these states. One important (and practical) distinction that we can all make and relate to concerns the states of Chochma (expansive subconsciousness) vs Binah (the conscious mind). Long ago, the Kaballah knew that creativity was housed in the right brain and analytical thought in the left. Freud, Jung and others were familiar with these Kabbalistic works and borrowed heavily from them (as did Newton and others). Therefore, we are all familiar with these two states of being. Chochma is what we experience when we are at our creative best-when we are in “the zone” and experiencing a natural, easy flow. Artists, musicians and other creative people know it well and they also know that they are able to achieve, “channel” and create in that space in ways that would be impossible in normal “waking” life. Binah is our analytical, practical, and down to earth state. One that is useful for accounting, problem solving, computer programming and the like.
Sometimes people over-analyze, second guess and scrutinize-they are too heavily controlled by Binah and I’ve noticed it usually leads to negative results, ie: “well he texted me yesterday and told me he had a good time, but then I thought what does he mean by that? Isn’t “good” kind of a generic word? And if he really cared wouldn’t he have just called anyway…et al. The Sefer Yetzirah strives to teach us the technique called “ratzo v’shov”-running and returning. This is an oscillation between Chochma and Binah that allows one to mine the expansive depths of Chochma, yet to anchor them firmly in our conscious minds in a way that we are able to make good use of them.
For the most stunning, impactful and crystal clear distinction of what I’m describing, you must, MUST watch this video of Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, a brain scientist describing the effects of a stroke that shut down her left brain. What she describes in simply pure Chochma consciousness in it’s most distilled form. It’s as beautiful as it is astounding. You will really get it after watching, and it’s only 18 minutes long. This is the state that the Sefer Yetzirah is teaching us to access.
There is a LOT to be said on this topic and this is just the most superficial of descriptions of a deep and profound set of teachings. If anyone is interested in ways to explore these concepts further, please be in touch and I’ll point you in the right direction.