Thursday, 29 March 2012

Musings on SY1:5


This is a cross-posting from a Kabbalah yahoo group where I asked about meditation advice for Sefer Yetzirah (Book of Creation), Chapter 1, Verse 5 (SY1:5). Here is the translation from Rabbi Kaplan's book:
Ten Sefirot of Nothingness:
Their measure is ten
which have no end
A depth of beginning
A depth of end
A depth of good
A depth of evil
A depth of above
A depth of below
A depth of east
A depth of west
A depth of north
A depth of South
The singular Master
God faithful King
dominates over them all 
from His holy dwelling
until eternity of eternities


Here is an extract from Rabbi Kaplan's advice on how to meditate on this verse: Pp. 48
"The initiate here is given an allegory through which he or she can perceive his or her path to Infinite Being. The allegory consists of any of the directions. Thus, for example, 'up' has no end. One can continue to travel in an upward direction, but can never actually reach 'up.' The same is true when one travels 'up' spiritually.....
The first exercise is to depict the 'depth of beginning.' Attempt to picture an infinity of time in the past. Let the mind travel back to a minute ago, an hour ago, a day ago, a year ago, continuing until you reach a level where you are trying to imagine an infinity ago. Then do the same with regard to the future. The next exercise involves trying to imagine infinite good and infinite evil. The limits are pure ideas, which cannot be verbalized. Finally, one must imagine the limits of the spacial dimensions. One must perceive the height of the sky and beyond the sky, the depth of the earth and beyond the earth. In this manner, one gradually trains the mind to depict the infinite. Since the Sefirot themselves are also infinite, this exercise can help one attain communion with the Sefirot."
For the past couple of months a friend and I have been studying and meditating on the verses of Chapter 1 of Sefer Yetzirah. One idea that my study partner and I have speculated on with regards to experiencing various depths (directions) mentioned in SY1:5 is that they are a way for the practitioner to orient him/her self in exploring spiritual worlds.

When doing meditation to alter states of consciousness, the same sense of direction that we use to navigate in the World of Action (Asiyah) - both in terms of North, South, East, West, Up, Down, Good and Evil - might be different in the World of Formation (Yetzirah). By meditating and exploring the depths of these directions in Asiyah, the meditator would recognize and be able to orient themselves when moving through inner spiritual realities.

As I said above, this is just an idea that we're exploring. I believe that Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan states that by meditating on these depths that the practitioner begins to recognize the inner Sefirot-it nature of things that we see and experience in the world around us. Pp.49:
"...In this manner, one gradually trains the mind to depict the infinite. Since the Sefirot themselves are also infinite, this exercise can help one attain communion with the Sefirot. The individual can then learn to climb the Tree of the Sefirot, and eventually approach the loftiest spiritual heights. This is accomplished through these depths. It is written, "A song of steps, from the depths I call You O God" (Psalm 130:1). One calls out to God by meditating on the depths, and then one can ascend through a series of steps. The psalm is therefore called a "song of steps"..." 
When I read this the question that came to mind is: how do you know where you are during one's ascent of the Tree of Sefirot? To which my guess of an answer is: by recognizing which depth you are experiencing.