Introduction to the Levels of the Tree

The Kabbalistic Tree of Life, or Eitz Chayim, is a symbolic representation of the ten levels of reality. It diagrams the steps through which Consciousness or Energy moves from the highest to the lowest vibrational levels to finally manifest as the world we know.

This "map of consciousness" provides a model for understanding the nature of all Being as well as the nature of our own particular being. The map guides us in understanding, appreciating, and utilizing all the possible levels. It also serves as a foundation for meditative focus.

One can follow this map by studying the meaning of each of the levels (sefirot) in depth and, should you desire to do so, Rabbi Ted's book, A Journey of Awakening, can be your guide.

But the journey can be a simpler one, too. If the map is true, then one can benefit from its guidance without sophisticated knowledge of its details. Here is a basic introduction to the ten sefirot, or levels, of the Tree.

The Foundation for the First Week

Chesed - The Flow of Lovingkindness

Chesed is the place where the energies of Lovingkindness flow without limit. This flow of Life-force will later manifest as both positive and negative feelings, but at this point the flow precedes any polarity.

The Foundation for the Second Week

Gevurah - Strength

Gevurah represents the forms called "feelings," forms which contain and limit emotional energy. With Gevurah comes happiness as well as sadness, pleasure as well as pain.

The Foundation for the Third Week

Tiferet - The Heart-Space

Tiferet represents the "Inclusive I" behind the exclusive ego-self. In Tiferet, there is a balance between the self which resides in the body and the Universal Self beyond individuation. Here the worlds are connected.

The Foundation for the Fourth Week

Netzach - The Flow of Life-Energy

At Netzach the flow of Awareness already contains feelings and the influences of Tiferet, the Heart-Space, but those influences are not yet associated with any particular sensations of perceptions. In this space, whatever our experience, we can notice the energy of the moment rather than the naming of that energy.

The Foundation for the Fifth Week

Hod - The Forms of Sensations

Hod brings sensory information that already contains mental and emotional form. It represents the images, touches, sounds, tastes, and smells that we perceive. Physical sensation and perception allow us to know our world and to discover ourselves within it.

The Foundation for the Sixth Week

Yesod - The Foundation of Self

Yesod represents the "Foundation" of our separate sense of self, the self-awareness that we call ego. The ego identity is the body identity, which is deeply connected to our generative abilities, sexual and otherwise.

The Foundation for the Seventh Week

Malchut - The Material World

Malchut represents the "kingdom" where we live. It is the place in which we can lose ourselves, but it is also the place in which we must find ourselves. In this material world, the spiritual awaits realization.