By John Barbiero
The Primal Unity is the root source of all things. It is that from which all things have sprung and to which all things shall return. Manifestation is the fruit whose root lies within the Primal Unity. This relationship of the source to its fruit, manifestation, is beautifully expressed within the paradigm of the Qabalah and its mandala, the Tree of Life. This essay will focus on interpreting the Tree of Life organically as a metaphorical tree. As a tree, it has fruit that must be nourished by its roots. Only through its connection to the root source can the fruit draw forth the daily nourishment required for its sustenance. The Tree of Life mandala can be seen as a tree bearing ten fruits with its first fruit, Kether, serving as both fruit to the Unmanifest, the ultimate source, and root to the proceeding fruit. As a living tree, these fruits or Sephiroth must derive daily sustenance from the root source of the Primal Unity. The physical fruit of the Tree of Life is the Universe or the Malkuth of Malkuth. It has been taught that there is a Tree of Life within every Sephirah, so the Malkuth of Malkuth is the Malkuth of the Tree of Life within the Sephirah Malkuth.
However, the root source must not be conceptualized as "out there," rather, it must be seen to be all-pervasive, lying within as well as without all things. Esoteric teaching postulates this understanding by speaking of the root source as "a vast spiritual reservoir in which we live, move, and have our being." All we need is here now, and we have only to ask for our needs to be met. Nevertheless, make no mistake, what we need is not necessarily what we may want. Spiritual law as given by the Cosmic Christ states that we must ask in order to receive. There is the spiritual sustenance without which there cannot be life, and there is the spiritual sustenance for which we must ask in order to receive.
Recognition of our spiritual needs highlights what we do not yet have. It opens the way towards knowledge or true gnosis of the root source that can supply those needs in abundance. The "Divine Discontent" postulated by Dion Fortune marks the Seeker on the path. The Seeker feels discontent with life understood only through the five senses and aches for a deeper meaning. That ache of something missing is the first step on the path towards the Primal Unity. Focus on physical existence only, or seeking meaning through the five senses, yields an understanding of reality composed of duality. There is the observer and what is observed. The physical universe is unconnected to us as the observer. Such understanding has led to the loss of being mindful of the Primal Unity.
Esoteric science teaches that the involutionary process that ultimately resulted in incarnation stemmed from the Primal Unity. We, as Divine Sparks to the Primal Fire of the Primal Unity, descended the planes from Kether to Malkuth, achieving progressively denser subtle bodies until our physical bodies were formed. This descent has led toward the consciousness of duality. In creating all things, the Primal Unity became multiplicity, or so it would seem to the physical senses. The seeming multiplicity of all things is composed of opposites. The more potent of the manifested opposites or complements are spirit and matter, active and passive, light and dark, life and death, love and hate, and order and chaos.
The spiritual Seeker emerges from among the mass of humanity deluded by duality. Suffering from the Divine Discontent of matter as the only reality, the Seeker takes heart from the apparent opposite of matter, spirit. No longer passive in regards to his suffering, he acts by taking up the Quest and seeking light in darkness, life in death, love in hate, and order in chaos. The Mysteries of the East depict the opposites within the symbol of the Tao, the Yin and the Yang. The Tao reconciles the passive Yin to the active Yang. The East further teaches that within each of these opposing elements lies the seed of its opposite. The black Yin carries the white seed of the white Yang, while the white Yang carries the black seed of the black Yin. The mediation of a reconciling element in relation to the two opposites makes the triad of life. Within all opposite elements lies the seed of reconciliation. Herein lies the power of the Magician to transmute one element to its opposite, the spiritual alchemy of transmuting lead to gold.
The Seeker on the Quest now starts on the path that promises the ultimate reconciliation of all opposites. The true treasure at the end of the Quest is the return to the Primal Unity. Esoteric science provides the paradigm of involution from the Primal Unity and subsequent evolutionary return to that Primal Unity. The pattern which guides the steps of the Seeker is the Tree of Life, which may now be seen as a Ladder to Heaven. This is Jacob’s Ladder, upon which the angels descended to Earth and ascended to Heaven. Stepping upon each rung or Sephirah brings the Seeker towards his treasure.
Once the way has been opened, it remains for the Seeker to take up the journey. It is one thing to feel the Divine Discontent and quite another thing to seek satisfaction. We are free to choose to remain with the familiar that gave rise to the Divine Discontent or to step into the unknown. The journey, once started, will draw sustenance from the Primal Unity to supply what is needed. It is said of Malkuth, in the Sepher Yetzirah, or Book of Formation, that Malkuth calls forth an influence from the Prince of Countenances in Kether. The fruit of Malkuth draws deep from its root, Kether. To the Seeker on the path, nothing is by chance, and all things point the way to the eyes that can see. Words of advice will be given, life experiences will teach and point the way, and succor will be provided in times of darkness. We are never less alone than when we think ourselves to be alone.
To draw deep from the root source of the Primal Unity, the Seeker must bear this truth in mind; the Tree of Life is One. The Emerald Tablet teaches that "as above, so below," and that all things stem from the One by adaptation. Kether is the One from which all things stem, taking on their qualities as adaptations of the One potential. The Malkuth of Malkuth of the physical Universe is the physical plane fruit of the Tree of Life, but it is equally as holy as the Kether of Kether for the Tree of Life is One. We are a Tree of Life in miniature, and as such, we, too, are holy in that we are one with the one Tree. We are the fruit of the Tree of Life, and we bear its fruit within us. Our root source is the same that sustains the Four Worlds of the Qabalists. The one Tree of Life exists in Four Worlds, extending from the highest in Atziluth, to Briah, to Yetzirah, and to Assiah. As a Tree in miniature at one with the one Tree of Life, we, too, exist in these Four Worlds. We are sustained by their power, and we are expressions of their power.
The allegory of the Fall of Man is a symbol of the loss of mindfulness of the Primal Unity of our at-one-ment with the one Tree of Life. However, there is a mystery to the Fall in that if we did not fall away from the Primal Unity, we could not give back to the Primal Unity the fruit of experience on the physical plane. We derive sustenance from the Primal Unity, and we give back to the Primal Unity our experience. The Mystery Schools that employ the mandala of the Tree of Life seek to align the Tree in miniature within us with the one Tree of Life. The Tree of Life within aligned to the Tree without allows for a clear run through of power, making us channels of expression of the One Will.
The Mystery Schools teach that creation emanates from the Primal Unity as the rushing forth of a Lightning Flash down the Tree of Life. Emanation from the Primal Unity is continuous and provides the vast spiritual reservoir in which we live, move, and have our being. To bring the inner Tree in alignment with the outer Tree is to clear the channel, allowing that continuous emanation from the Primal Unity to more perfectly flow through us to the world at large. In this way, we may better serve humanity. To each Sephirah, excluding the first two, Kether and Chokmah, to which no vice is attributed, there is a virtue and a vice. We are channels of expression of either the virtue of the Tree or its vice. As a Tree in miniature, we have within us each virtue and vice in full flower or latency, depending on our development. We must choose what we would give the world.
Many feel powerless to effect change in a world that requires healing. They say, "What can I do to make a difference?" Of themselves they can do nothing, but in alignment with the power of the One Tree, they can do everything. Relying only on my human heart and my emotional development, I cannot fully give love to the world at large. My human heart loves whom I love and is often indifferent to those outside my circle. It is easy to feel detached from those you don’t feel connected to or whom you don’t need. However, my human heart is the fruit of Cosmic Love. I can draw love from it, as well as guidance. Love can flow through me, directed not by my human attachments, but by the One Will. In this way I can be a channel for the Heart of the One and a means of its loving expression to all creation.
The attainment of the virtue of a Sephirah marks initiation into that mode of consciousness and marks the progress on the path of return to the Primal Unity. It also marks that which we may channel to the world at large. This marks the return journey of the Quest. We seek not merely for ourselves, but for those who can as yet not make the journey for themselves. The return of the Seeker enlarges the channel for the manifestation of the Tree’s virtues and marks a supreme gift to his fellow humanity. The Seeker returns as the initiate, the twice born, or the "one who knows." To paraphrase W.E. Butler in what he said of the magician, "He effects all not by what he knows, but by what he is."
One of the most profound means of aligning the Tree in miniature with the One Tree is by the performance of the Middle Pillar ritual and the formulation of the Tree of Life in the aura. The Middle Pillar ritual and the formulation of the Tree in the aura employ the imagination. The imagination is one of the prime tools of the magician. To paraphrase Colonel Seymour, sometime member of the Society of the Inner Light, "A magician is what he imagines himself to be." As we imagine the unity of our Tree in miniature with the One Tree, we become channels of its expression.
However, imagination can work negatively as well as positively, and it can work on a subconscious level as well as on a conscious level. We are free to believe that we are separate from the Primal Unity, and if we do so, we will indeed manifest in our lives the fruit of that imagination. The injunction of "Know Thyself," given to us from the Greek mystery schools will bring to light our subconscious imaginations. We may give conscious assent to our oneness with the Primal Unity only to subconsciously reject such unity. Our subconscious is our Power Self, and if our Power Self rejects unity, then it is not accepted.
By employing the Middle Pillar ritual and formulating the Tree of Life in the aura, we give to the subconscious a new understanding. Subconscious motivations out of harmony with the One Will are brought to the light and an alternative motivation of alignment with the One Will is given in their place. Time and daily practice will make this come to pass. Use as much detail as possible. Try to see the Tree in the aura with each Sephirah in the colors for each of the Four Worlds. I see them as nested spheres in which the Atziluthic color contains each successive Sphere. Once formulated, I try to do a few four-fold breaths as I reacquaint myself with each Sephirah, taking them in turn, for I cannot hold this image in its entirety as yet.
We must understand that unity is the goal of all of our actions. It is the goal of the One Will that we return one day to the Primal Unity. We may see this desire for return to unity in the working out of the laws of Karma or the balancing of the scales of Maat. In our imagined separation from the Primal Unity, and each other, we have committed acts of confusion and pain that have led towards separation. In the conscious fostering of separation, we have the beginnings of the working of positive evil, for the Tree of Life has its opposite in the Tree of Evil. In the Tree of Life we have for its direction the Primal Unity of Kether, and in the Tree of Evil we have for its direction the Contending Heads. So to seek to consciously separate and to foster the contending of the opposites, instead of their reconciliation, is a work of positive evil. To do so would be to slowly align oneself to the Tree of Evil and become a channel for its vices in the world.
To work as individuals towards the balancing of the scales of Maat serves two purposes: one, to redress an imbalance, and two, to return those who have become contending forces towards unity. The act of confusion and violence served to separate, but the One Will wants all to return to unity. To redress the balance requires those who were separate to come together. At first there seems to be resistance, but eventually the scales will be brought to balance. In working out the balance, those opposed must come together again, and in coming together, they who had become separate may work towards harmony. The work of harmony will lead towards unity.
© Copyright John Barbiero 1999