An Examination of the Gra Tree of Life
By Rawn Clark
In his book "Sefer Yetzirah: The Book of Creation", Aryeh Kaplan titled this image of the Tree of Life the "natural array". However, the only use of this image I have ever found was in association with a famous commentary on the Sepher Yetzirah by the 18th century scholar, Elijah ben Shlomo Zalman, known as the Vilna Gaon (genius), Elijah of Vilna or simply by his Hebrew acronym "Gra" (Gaon Rabbenu Eliyahu). Therefore I call this the "Gra Tree" in his honor.
In his commentary, the Gra definitively proved that the Sepher Yetzirah (which is the oldest known Kabbalistic text in existence) refers to this "natural array" and not to the more familiar Hebrew Tree image. The Gra Tree image therefore, illustrates the archetypal pattern of the Hebrew cosmology, the root from which the later versions of the Tree of Life image sprang. To my mind, and in my personal experience, the Gra Tree image is a perfect illustration of the structure of the fully integrated awareness; whereas, the Hebrew Tree image, illustrates the process of initiation which leads modern human awareness to a state of full integration.
Over the past few years, the TMO Working Group pursued work with the 231 Gates of Initiation using the Hebrew Tree of Life and having fairly recently completed that long work together, we have now begun pursuing the work of the 182 Gates of Creation using the Gra Tree of Life. In preparation for this new work with the Gra Tree Gates, I spent nearly a month creating a PowerPoint slideshow presentation for the Working Group members introducing the Gra Tree of Life image and contrasting it with the more familiar Hebrew Tree.
Eventually, with some fancy new software I was able to transform the PowerPoint presentation into an Adobe Flash video with narration and this is what I offer here, plus a couple of extras. :)
The .zip file is 237 MB in size.
- An Examination of the Gra Tree of Life.flv
[70 minute long video slideshow with narration.]
- "Unlocking the Hebrew Sequence of Formation"
[PDF file that examines the Sepher Yetzirah in light of the Gra Tree image.]
- The Hebrew Tree of Life.flv
[4 minute silent video slideshow presenting a review of the standard Hebrew Tree.]