Introduction to the Kabbalistic Tree of Life
The Tree of Life is a visual representation of the levels of Creation, a process in which the One Being moves from Nothing to Everything. The movement from Everything back to Nothing is a representation of the stages of spiritual awakening.
To see the Tree in more detail, click here.
For millennia, people have recognized that the world we experience depends at least as much on the level of awareness from which we meet that world as it does on the nature of the outer world itself. Mystics of all traditions recognize that our inner state determines the nature of our outer reality to a far greater extent than the other way around.
On a mystical level, the seven weeks of the Counting of the Omer were associated with the seven lower sefirot, or levels, of the ten levels on the Tree of Life, though this process can be experienced during any seven-week period. We are to release any blockages inhibiting the free-flowing energies on the Tree.
The Sefer Yetzirah, or Book of Formation, appearing around the fourth century, first identified the ten levels of awareness. They were represented by ten concentric circles until the 11th century when they began to appear in the “tree” form that we use now.
The Tree can represent energies within the human body as well as within the cosmic Whole, and makes it possible to identify relationships among the ten levels, each of which is called a sefirah. The word refers to the “counting,” or “story,” represented at each level. Although there are ten sefirot, only the lower seven are included in the Counting of the Omer process. The upper three sefirot are referred to as the mochin, or “brains” of the Tree, and the lower seven are the middot, or “qualities” that fall within our human capacity to grasp.
Each week focuses on a specific sefirah, and each day of each week another of the lower sefirot are connected to the energies of that weekly sefirah. While there is much more that can be said about this process, I would encourage us all to enter into the experience rather than create a construct in our minds.
To go more deeply into the levels on the Kabbalistic Tree of Life, see the latest edition of Rabbi Ted's book, A Journey of Awakening: Kabbalistic Meditations on the Tree of Life.