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the Gra Tree of Life
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Prior to our modern, scientific age, our conception of the cosmos was derived from direct observation of the night sky by the unaided human eye.  To those seeking to understand it, the cosmos was a Divine thing whose observable phenomena reflected the mysterious "body" or structure of deity.  But due to the lack of more advanced scientific apparatus, assumptions were made by those early observers that today we would laugh at.  Nonetheless, the astrological symbolism we use today stems directly from that ancient age of symbol-knowledge.

Up until the late 1700's, Saturn was known as the outermost planet of our solar system.  The ancients thought that beyond Saturn there was an "abyss" -- an empty, dark region in which there were no other "planets".  On the other side of this "abyss" there was thought to be another order of existence symbolized by the "fixed stars" of the zodiacal constellations.  And beyond Saturn, beyond the abyss, and beyond even the celestial zodiac, the ancients thought that there lay an utterly unknowable realm -- the infinite blackness of space itself. 

The Roman god Saturn (Greek god Kronos) is "Father Time", the great limiter.  He is a "father" to symbolize that he is a conduit for the Celestial Seed.  In other words, the realm of Saturn focuses the celestial influences of the zodiac into the lower realms symbolized by the planets.  He also confers mortality, allotting a specific duration of time to each thing within his realm of influence.  His focus is sun-ward -- downward and inward, toward his planetary offspring.  As the interface of the universal  and the personal, he is at once strict and compassionate, unrelenting yet considerate. 

The Hebrews (and much of the rest of the world) however, characterized Saturn as female instead of male and gave it the name "Shabbatai".  This word means "peace, rest, cessation" and is derived from the same root as the word "Sabbath".  Thus Saturn/Shabbatai is associated with the 7th day of Creation -- the Sabbath, which for the Jews occurs on the day we call Saturday (Saturn's day). 

Here, the masculine aspects are encompassed by the feminine.  In other words, Binah carries within her the same aspects we saw in masculine Saturn/Kronos, but she sets those aspects into a slightly different context.

Binah is called the "Mother".  She is said to have two faces: the "Dark Sterile Mother" and the "Bright Fertile Mother".  In essence, the "Dark Sterile Mother" is the limiting-Binah that we see as we raise our consciousness upward.  It defines the limits of being as we humans know it and marks the edge of a realm foreign to our normal experience of things.  This is how Binah appears to us when our perspective is from below the "abyss", looking upwards.

The "Bright Fertile Mother" on the other hand, is what Binah looks like when we have crossed the "abyss" and are looking downwards.  From this perspective, one sees that the Divine Seed fills Binah and is given form, and that it ceaselessly passes down into the realm of sequence.

The duality implied by these titles connects us back to the earlier conception of the cosmos which places a personal-Saturn on the near side of the "abyss" -- instead of placing a universal-Saturn on the far side of the "abyss" as do the Qabbalists.  In practice, Binah/Saturn straddles the "abyss" and exists on both of its sides.  The lower manifestation of Binah is only an appearance, a dark reflection of the upper Binah, but it is, nonetheless, what leads us across the "abyss" to that higher Binah. 

Despite the image it elicits, the "abyss" is not a spatial thing.  It is called by this specifically spatial word because that is our nearest human corollary.  What it symbolizes is the experiential gulf separating the sequential and non-sequential realms.  To the rising human consciousness, it appears to be vast and empty because we have no frame of reference to understand what lies within and beyond it.  It is dark because our sequentialized consciousness is not capable of perceiving the non-sequential Light.   

Rising from the sequential realm of Individualized conscious to the non-sequential realm is called "crossing the abyss".  This crossing requires a radical shift of experiential perspective.  This shift concerns four essential, intimately related categories of experience:

#1) Type of Consciousness.  Despite what grand things we think of ourselves, humanoid consciousness is only one type of consciousness in a universe filled by an infinite number of different types of consciousness.  The differentiation of consciousness into types is an aspect of sequentialization.  Crossing the abyss therefore, requires a letting go of the specifically human limitation of consciousness, and a merging with the infinitude of other, non-humanoid types of consciousness. 

As other types are experienced, the boundaries of the human consciousness expand to include a broader range of perspectives.  Eventually the differences blur and the underlying commonality of consciousness itself leads one to merge with its infinite wholeness. 

The simultaneous experience of the whole infinity of types of consciousness, human and non-human, is what is meant by the phrase "become more than human".  Ultimately, it is a non-sequential experience, or rather, it is an experience of the non-sequential realm.  Though it may take the average human quite a long sequence of experiences to achieve, the ultimate encompassing-of-the-whole happens all at once, in a single quantum leap, as it were.

There are many exercises which can aid one in achieving this shift, specifically those having to do with transference of consciousness.  This is a meditational technique where one first isolates one's own consciousness and then sends it out into another object or creature.  In other words, one transfers one's consciousness into the other thing and seeks to merge with the other thing's experience of consciousness. 

For example, if you wanted to experience what a specific tree experiences and perceive the universe as that tree perceives it, you would transfer your conscious awareness into the body of the tree and then try to merge your consciousness with its consciousness.  At first you will experience the tree from a human perspective, but as you let go of the differentiation which separates your human-ness from the tree's tree-ness, your awareness will naturally follow the lines of commonality and merge with that of the tree itself.  The difference between experiencing the tree from a human perspective and from a perspective that is truly merged with that of the tree itself, is unmistakable -- you will know it when you experience it! 

The same technique may be applied to any object or creature at hand.  It is important --for both your own well-being and for any chance at success -- that you approach this sort of work with a deep, deep respect and reverence for life and for the sovereignty and privacy of others!  If your actions are invasive or abusive, you will pay a steep karmic price.  You must guide yourself by a strict code of personal ethics and never stray from it.

#2) Time-Space.  Time and space are manifestations of sequentialization.  In the non-sequential realm, consciousness experiences the whole passage of sequence -- physical, astral and mental time-space -- within a singular, all-inclusive now.  At this level, consciousness pervades everything and experiences everything simultaneously.  There is certainly a cognizance of sequentiality, but there is not a direct sequential involvement with it. 

An illustration can be drawn from the human body: Our conscious awareness pervades our physical body and causes it to be, but is not intimately involved in the functions of all of the body's various organs.  Likewise, the non-sequential pervades the sequential realm and causes it to be, but is not directly involved with the enacting of each moment in that infinite sequence. 

This is not to say that that the non-sequential consciousness cannot reach down into the realm of sequence and directly experience its minutia, for quite the contrary is true.  The non-sequential consciousness however, ceases to be non-sequential when it reaches down into the realm of sequence.  In fact, the realm of sequence is nothing other than the reaching down of non-sequential consciousness -- it is this reaching down which causes sequentialization, and it is non-sequential consciousness which is itself sequentialized.  In other words, the sequential realm is the body of the non-sequential.

Crossing the abyss requires that one step out of direct involvement in the minutia of time-space-sequence.  This stepping out follows the lines of commonality which unite the two realms.  The macrocosmic thread of causality which concerns the shift in time-space perspective is that of now-ness.  The quality of now-ness is the same for a sequentialized consciousness as it is for the non-sequential consciousness.  The only difference between these experiences of now-ness is in their quantity.  The quantity of the sequentialized now, is infinitely small and the quantity of the non-sequential now is infinitely large, but they both share the same essential quality of now-ness.

In short, the experience of now-ness is the doorway through which one steps and the pathway one follows across the abyss.  Meditations and experiences which increase your understanding of now-ness are helpful in this process.  Specifically those which increase the quantity of your now.

#3) Definition of Self.  We have seen and directly experienced in the seven previous meditations that there are several levels of Self.  At the physical, personal and Individual levels that we have explored, there has always been a sense of our essential I-ness.  By I-ness, I mean that sense of autonomous, sovereign self we all have in common though we experience it, each in our own unique ways. 

The I-ness we experience at the physical and personal levels of self  has the same quality as that of the Individual self, but is of a smaller quantity.  The Individual self truly encompasses the experiences of many, many personal and physical incarnations and so its sense of I-ness is of a larger quantity, but it is, nonetheless, of the same quality.

Crossing the abyss between our sequentialized experience of I-ness (tied directly to our experience of now-ness!) and a non-sequential experience of I-ness is very similar to the aforementioned shift in time-space perspective.  There is a similar stepping out of direct involvement with the minutia of sequentialized I-ness and one follows the line of commonality established by the quality of I-ness shared by every level of consciousness.

Here, meditations which increase the quantity of your experience of I-ness are most helpful.  First are meditations which lead to the recovery of the storehouse of the Individual's memory of all its incarnations.  This expands the quantity of the Individual's I-ness to its maximum.  Next come meditations which unite the Individual's I-ness with that of other Individuals of a human-type consciousness.  This results in awareness and I-ness which encompasses many Individuals simultaneously.  These follow lines of commonality and together, that number of connected Individuals constitute what I call a "Greater Self".  There is still the same quality of I-ness , but the quantity of the I-ness is expanded by a significant order of magnitude.  Eventually the humanoid Greater Selves unite with the infinite number of other Greater Selves and experience the true Unity of Being.

Actually that last sentence is incorrect in that it conveys the idea that the experience is sequential.  Unfortunately, these sequential words and our sequential process called thinking, both preclude the possibility of accurately describing a non-sequential experience!  To describe it, I must sequentialize it and present in in a specific order, but the experience itself happens without order and sequence.

When the I-ness of the humanoid Greater Self is experienced (symbolized here by Binah/Saturn), one simultaneously unites with all the non-humanoid Greaters and becomes directly cognizant of the Unity.  The Unity shares the same essential quality of I-ness as every one of Its manifestations, but Its quantity of I-ness is infinite. 

#4) Thinking.  Thought, as we know it, is a sequential process.  But in the non-sequential realm consciousness does not think sequentially.  There, instead of one thought following another thought, all thoughts exist together and without separation.  The non-sequential consciousness therefore experiences the entire infinity of thought as a unified whole. 

Crossing the abyss requires that one let go of sequentialized thinking altogether.  Deep meditations upon the nature of mind and upon the processes of thought are therefore helpful.

Truly, it is impossible to satisfactorily describe the non-sequential realm.  I fear that continuing the attempt would only add further confusion.  All I can say is that it's best to look for yourself and only then will you truly understand -- hence the Hebrew title of this sphere, Binah / Understanding.

Paul Case wrote, regarding Binah/Saturn: "#3) Filled with Understanding of its perfect law, I am guided, moment by moment, along the path of liberation."  The guidance he speaks of here is a very real thing!  Quite simply, our guide is our own Greater Self.  This guide speaks to our inner ear with the voice of our own conscience and subtly guides us through every moment of our sequentialized existence. 

Our Binah/Saturn meditation is designed to simulate several aspects of the actual abyss crossing.  Our Temple this time, has two parts.  The first part symbolizes the lower Binah and what a sequentialized consciousness can understand of it; thus it is stationed below the abyss.  The second part symbolizes the upper Binah and the non-sequential realm itself.

Our journey from the Malkuth Temple to the first part of our Binah Temple, will be a passage through utter darkness.  The first part of the Binah Temple is constructed from very simple symbols.  You will recognize three of the four pillars from the Gedulah Temple.  One casts no shadow and is completely white; one casts a gray shadow; and one casts a black shadow.  These three pillars stand upon a set of three triangular slabs: one black, one gray, and one white. 

At the center of the first part of our Binah Temple, there sits a large black sphere, resting upon a gray tripod.  This sphere is both utterly black and at the same time radiant -- it is the source of the light which causes the pillar's gray and black shadows.  This black sphere symbolizes our direct connection to the guidance of our Greater Self.  Therefore a portion of our meditation will be spent communing, through this sphere, with our own personal guide.

A dark realm surrounds the first part of our Binah Temple.  The Temple itself sits right at the edge of a great, utterly black ocean.  This ocean represents the abyss which we will symbolically cross.

The abyss is infinite.  This means that at a very practical level there is only one way to cross it.  Many have tried swim across, boat across, fly across, and even walk across; but due to the infinite breadth of the abyss, these options take, quite literally, forever.  The only way to cross an infinity is to become the infinity.  In other words, the way across the abyss is to merge with the abyss. 

To facilitate your experience of the abyss, I have chosen to use the symbolism of water.  In this infinite black ocean, there is no differentiation.  Each molecule of water is the same as every other molecule.  Within this ocean the potential for differentiation is everywhere present.  Here are all the ingredients for life, but they are not placed into sequence and thus exist here in a formless, seemingly chaotic state.

After a time of communing with our Greater Self through the black sphere, we will enter the ocean of infinite blackness and cross it by merging our consciousness with it.  Using the water symbolism, we each enter the ocean as a distinct current of water which eventually becomes an homogenous part of the whole ocean.  Each of the four categories of experience mentioned above can be related to this water symbolism:

#1) Type of consciousness.  Begin by focusing upon your own type of water -- that which distinguishes you as a specific current.  Follow the lines of commonality between your current and the homogenous ocean of water.

#2) Time-space.  Begin by focusing upon your own experience of now-ness -- both its quality and its quantity.  Follow the lines of commonality between your small quantity of now and the quantity of now symbolized by the infinite ocean.  The quality of now-ness is your connection to the homogeneity of the ocean, for it is shared by every one of its molecules simultaneously.

#3) Definition of Self.  Begin by focusing upon your own sense of I-ness, both its quality and quantity.  Follow the lines of commonality established by the quality of I-ness and merge your I-ness with the water which immediately surrounds you.  Keep expanding the parameters of your I-ness and increase its quantity till you have merged with the whole ocean of I-ness.  The idea here is to expand your definition of Self till you feel and experience that you are the whole ocean.  At that moment, there is no 'other', there is only I

#4) Thinking.  Begin by recognizing that you are thinking and that you are experiencing things sequentially.  One evidence of this is the fact that you are seeing visual symbols.  These symbols are a part of your sequentialized thought process.  The line of commonality connecting sequential thought to non-sequential consciousness is essential meaning.  In other words, follow the essential meaning behind your thoughts and behind the symbols you encounter, and simultaneously let go of their sequentialized forms.  Use the undifferentiated blackness of the ocean's water to support this letting go.  Let your eyes rest in its pure blackness and its lack of visual symbols.  And in a similar manner, let its homogeneity rest your mind from differentiated thought entirely. 

For the purposes of this meditation, I suggest you pursue whichever line of commonality is the easiest for you to follow.  Once you have succeeded by whatever means (and to whatever degree) in merging your consciousness with this symbolic ocean of infinite potential, try to sense its opposite shore.  Then try to locate the second part of our Binah Temple which lies upon that far shore.

The environment surrounding the second part of our Binah Temple is noticeably brighter.  Just like the first part, the second part of the Temple is very simple.  You will notice that some of the black and white polarities have been reversed.  Most importantly, the sphere at the center of the second part of the Temple is white instead of black.

When the opposite shore is sensed and the second part of the Temple located, we will then step out of the abyssal ocean and stand before the white sphere.  This stepping out of the ocean is radically different from our initial stepping into the ocean.  When we step out of it, we step out as the ocean.  We do not step out as differentiated, sequentialized parts of the ocean.  In other words, it is as your all-encompassing Greater Self that you stand before the white sphere.

Within the white sphere you will be able to view the entire infinite realm of sequence.  It appears from beginning to end simultaneously and you experience it within a singular now and with the knowledge that it is encompassed within your singular I.

We will take the opportunity to look into the white sphere and cast our consciousness far enough into the realm of sequence for us to see the Individual Self we are "currently" manifesting.  Similar to our Tiphareth Meditation, we will gaze down at our Individual, personal and physical selves.  From Binah however, this vision is not of a singular incarnation, but of a nearly infinite number Individual manifestations, each with their personal and physical incarnations.

Our meditation will conclude with the identification of our "current", familiar Individualities and we will each descend into the Tiphareth Temple and consciously inhabit our Individual Selves.  Then we will descend through Yesod to the Malkuth Temple. 

Since this is the last in our series of eight meditations, I will close with a short blessing ritual in the Malkuth Temple, celebrating the culmination of our work.


Begin as usual: pass through the Cave Entrance, along the Tunnel passage, up the ten steps, and into the Malkuth Temple where I stand awaiting your arrival.

When all the participants have arrived, I will gather us together and cast a ritual circle. 

Once our circle is cast, we will spend several moments together in the center of the Malkuth Temple, holding hands in a circle and bringing our awareness of the presences of the other participants into focus.  As you look around the circle, try to sense the unique presence of each participant. 

At the appropriate moment, I will bring our focus to the East quarter altar -- our gateway to Binah.  Upon the altar, we see an obsidian black sphere, resting on a small tripod.

Behind the altar, we see the same curtain and symbol we encounter at the Cave Entrance.
As I light the candles upon the altar, we speak, as with a single voice, the phrase: "I-H-V-H Elohim (pronounced "yawd-hay-vawv-hay eh-low-heem"), please guide me to Binah."

After a moment of orientation, I will direct our awareness to the Temple's central black sphere.  We will then spend several minutes communing with the guidance radiating from the sphere.

At the appropriate moment, I will turn our attention to the ocean of blackness.  We will then descend the Temple's three steps and enter the dark water.  Several minutes will be devoted to the process of merging with this infinite ocean. 

At the appropriate moment, I will direct your attention to the opposite shore and the second part of our Binah Temple.  As you arise from the ocean, do your best to arise as the ocean and stand before the Temple's central white sphere. 

We will spend several minutes gazing into this sphere.  At first, we will examine the sequential realm in its wholeness.  Then we will gaze into the sphere and locate our Individual manifestations.

At the appropriate moment, I will utter the word Tiphareth.  This gently transits us along the lines of causality which tie our Greater Selves to our "current" Individualities.  We consciously descend into the realm of sequence and find ourselves standing together in our familiar Tiphareth Temple.  Take a moment at this juncture to fully sense your familiar Individual Self and review its connection to your Greater Self.

I will then utter the words Yesod and Malkuth.  As we transit from Tiphareth, through Yesod, to Malkuth, concentrate upon consciously inhabiting your personal self.  Fully sense your familiar personality and life circumstance, and review its connection to your Individual and Greater Selves.

At the appropriate moment, I will gather us together in the Malkuth Temple for a short blessing ritual.  During this time, please focus upon your luminous body of spheres.  Visualize Malkuth as an earthy colored sphere at the arches of your feet; Yesod as a violet sphere filling your pelvic cavity; Hod as an orange sphere at your right hip; Netzach as an emerald green sphere at your left hip; Tiphareth as a yellow sun filling your chest; Geburah as a red sphere at your right shoulder; and, Gedulah as a blue sphere at your left shoulder.  Now add Binah/Saturn as a black sphere at your right temple and let its radiance permeate the right  hemisphere of your brain.  To finish, we will add a gray sphere at the left temple and a sphere of white brilliance at the crown.  This completes the luminous body and concludes our meditation series.

We will close with a group prayer of thanks.  Then I will release the circle casting and we will bid our goodbyes.

As you leave the Malkuth Temple, try to remain aware of your luminous body and of your connection to your Greater Self.  When you have completed your return to your physical body, take a few more moments of quiet time to fully sense your luminous body and to once again reaffirm your connection to your Greater Self.  Then consciously and fully return to your normal waking consciousness.  This may take some internal down-shifting, as it were, but it is important that you return to a normal state after each contact with your Greater Self.

Follow-up Work --

As always, write down some notes summarizing your experience.

In the days immediately following your Binah meditation, review your experiences with your Greater Self and listen closely for the guiding voice of your conscience.  When you interact with others, consciously allow your awareness of your connection with all things to permeate and bless your interaction.

Return regularly to the Binah Temple for further explorations of the Abyss.  The true crossing is an accomplishment that takes lifetimes to perfect.  This is not, by any means, to say that you will not achieve it in your present lifetime.  Rather, it says "take heart!"  For depending upon your efforts in past lifetimes and, most especially, upon your efforts in your present life, anything is possible. 

Oddly enough, when the time is right, you will succeed in truly crossing the Abyss. Time's rightness however, is something you have a certain amount of power to effect.  The process of self-crafting and the pursuit of the meditations regarding your human-ness, your now-ness, I-ness, and sequentialized thinking, will all help to mature your time to ripeness.  But ultimately, the timing of your crossing is not within your Individual control -- it is only when the universe concurs that time then reaches its true rightness.

This is a process unique to each person.  There is no external guidance available -- only that provided internally, by your own Greater Self.  It is essential therefore, that you develop the discipline of obedience to your conscience, for it is the voice of your Greater Self.  By following its dictates, you will deepen your contact with your true guide and it will never fail you.

Be sure to ground yourself thoroughly back into your normal waking consciousness when you are through with each meditation on the Abyss.  Experiences of the non-sequential realm take time (sequence!) to fully integrate themselves into your life, so patience, conscientiousness and care are recommended in this regard.

Astrological Considerations --

The planet Saturn symbolizes limitation in astrology.  When a planet comes into aspect with Saturn, the part of yourself that the other planet symbolizes will be effected.  Usually the effect is one of somehow limiting that aspect, or at least of highlighting the limitations of that part of your self.

Saturn also represents a specific periodicity of 29.5 years.  At around the age of 30, Saturn returns to the same degree of the zodiac that it inhabited at the time of birth.  Called the "Saturn return", it marks a time when the maturing adult confronts the limitations of their particular incarnation.  For some it is a powerfully positive, cathartic time; for many it is the most difficult time of their lives; but for all, it is a time of challenge.  How one deals with the challenges brought by the Saturn return, sets the stage for the years of life which follow. 

Saturn returns for a second time around the age of 59, and for a third time around the age of 89.  Each time it brings a similar confrontation with the limitations of existence.  The question is always whether or not you accept and make the best of those limits; or whether you rebel against and seek to overrun those limits.  I guess wisdom enters as we figure out which limits are best approached in which way!