The Kabalah explained by Theosophical Symbolism

The Science of Universal Harmony Figure 83

This figure is from a series of articles called ‘The Science of Universal Harmony’ in the Theosophical magazine “The Word”, which was published from 1904-1918 with Harold Waldwin Percival as its chief Editor. In the center is a triangle with a Hebrew letter ‘yod’ (also sometimes spelled ‘jod’).

The Yod inside a triangle is a symbol that is also found in Freemasonry. Consider this definition from An encyclopædia of freemasonry and its kindred sciences (1879) by Albert Gallatin Mackey:

Yod. The Hebrew letter י equivalent in sound to I or Y. It is the initial letter of the word יהוה, or Jehovah, the Tetragrammaton, and hence was peculiarly sacred among the Talmudists. Basnage (lib. iii., c. 13), while treating of the mysteries of the name Jehovah among the Jews, says of this letter:

“The yod in Jehovah is one of those things which eye hath not seen, but which has been concealed from all mankind. Its essence and matter are incomprehensible; it is not lawful so much as to meditate upon it. Man may lawfully revolve his thoughts from one end of the heavens to the other, but he cannot approach that inaccessible light, that primitive existence, contained in the letter yod; and indeed the masters call the letter thought or idea, and prescribe no bounds to its efficacy. It was this letter which, flowing from the primitive light, gave being to emanations. It wearied itself by the way, but assumed a new vigor by the sense of the letter ה, which makes the second letter of the Ineffable Name.”

In Symbolic Masonry, the yod has been replaced by the letter G. But in the high degrees it is retained, and within a triangle, thus, constitutes the symbol of the Deity.

The article below is from the April 1909 issue of “The Word” magazine, (available here from Volume 9 of “The Word”).

Although this article is not correct (in terms of Gnostic Kabalah) with its use or definition of some things, it is presented here as an introduction to the concepts of Kabalah and for its value as an overall summary and explanation of the subject.


THE HEBREW LETTERS.

BY I. KRUGMAN.

THERE is a kabbalistic tradition which says that God created the universe with the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet. The tradition seems mysterious to those not familiar with the teaching called Kabbalah. To understand this tradition, it is necessary for one to know what a kabbalist means by letters when he refers to them as the means of creating.

In Kabbalah, letters are symbols, vehicles or garments in which the spirit dresses itself. When connected in various combinations with each other, these letters form language, through which thought is expressed. Kabbalists claim that in their essence these letters are the very roots of existence.

These twenty-two letters, symbols, vehicles, called by different names, are the manifestations of spirit in mind; so that the particular forms of these symbols are to teach us the plan of the mind.

Speech does not seem to depend on symbols, yet in order to realize speech we are compelled to use a symbol. The power of human speech is analogous to the divine logos, for both create. In studying human speech, we are by analogy able to comprehend what is termed the divine logos.

The process of thinking is in words; we cannot think consciously without words. An idea conceived in the mind is a symbol; when the idea is to be expressed it forms a mystical combination which produces words. In their mystical combination, the twenty-two letters in the different alphabets disclose the root of universal speech.

Speech is a power which may be used for good or for evil. When speech is brought into harmony with the higher logos it becomes a ladder, a means to reach the divine within us, hence the reason for prayer. Not the prayers which result from fanciful emotions, but prayer in the sense of an aspiration to consciously blend the lower with the higher Self; to infuse every particle of our body with the divine substance.

The visible universe is the outcome of an alphabet. The alphabet forms a symbolic language through which the spirit is discerned. Every Hebrew letter in its particular design, points to a particular spiritual entity in the divine sephiroth. The design of these letters is not due to mere accident, so-called; it is the revelation of the spirit in mind. When these symbols are rightly understood in their relation to all planes of existence, through them we will comprehend higher truths in the mind.

In the book “Yetzira” [Sepher Yetzirah], the threefold division of the universe is Sepher, Sephar and Siphur, the higher triad, which is one. In mind this is conceived as three, the form, name and number, which is the revealed triad.

Form-Idea-Number

One cannot be conceived without the other, and each one reveals the other two. When a branch is removed from its tree it dies; it is so with speech when removed from its root. Speech should be the means by which truth is conceived and expressed, for then only does it become the builder and distributer of true knowledge which is to enlighten the world; but when this wonderful power is used to express the animal nature of men it brings darkness, suffering and destruction.

To possess speech is to transcend the animal, to consciously use the animal in blending the lower with the higher self, then the goal of this cycle will be reached.

There is no realization without speech. Speech is the circle that encompasses all, it is the first gate of the divine sephiroth, malchuth. When speech is controlled it becomes the means of introspection and is the beginning of the road to self realization and perfection. When one realizes the importance of speech in its different manifestations, and how through twenty-two symbols we are able to comprehend speech with our mind, the mysterious tradition of the kabbalists, that “with twenty-two letters God created the universe” will not appear so strange, for it will then be seen that these letters are the formless, spiritual builders, and that the twenty-two symbols are the vehicles by and through which the builders are conceived. When one knows the root of speech, he knows the cause of every manifested thing in the universe and in men.

KRUGMAN's Theosophical Tree of Life

The accompanying kabbalistic diagram shows spiritual man and the corresponding vehicles of his action on each plane. Ten centers are the main springs of life; through twenty-two channels light travels like blood in the arteries of the body. Through these channels the centers act and react upon each other; the letters are symbols of the results of the action and reaction of the centers upon each other, which goes on continually.

This is a difficult study, but so is the mystery called man.

_______

“Rabbi Simeon said, ‘All my days I have grown up amongst the wise, and I have found nought of better service than silence; not learning but doing is the chief thing; and whoso is profuse of words causes sin.’ “

_______

Tauler, it is added, “was a man who, imbued with genuine Devoutness, as it springs from the depths of a soul strengthened in self-contemplation, and, free and all-powerful, rules over Life and Effort,-attempted to train and win the people for a duty which has hitherto been considered as that of the learned class alone: to raise the Lay-world into moral study of Religion for themselves, that so, enfranchised from the bonds of unreflecting custom, they might regulate Creed and Conduct by strength self-acquired. He taught men to look within; by spiritual contemplation to feel the secret of their higher Destiny; to seek in their own souls what from without is never, or too scantily afforded ; self-believing, to create what, by the dead letter of foreign Tradition, can never be brought forth.”

-Carlyle, Early German Literature.

Furthur Reading: I. Krugman published another article about Theosophical Kabalah called ‘THE BIBLE AND KABALAH’ in the August 1909 issue of “The Word” Magazine (also available in Volume 9 of “The Word”).