Just as the laws that manage our physical world are complex and dificult to comprehend, the laws that sustain all the dimensions and levels of existence and non-existence are complex and difficult to comprehend. Thus, we rely on a variety of symbols and maps in order to aid our comprehension.
Every religion is founded upon a mathematical, scientific basis, which in the Judeo-Christian is symbolized by the Tree of Life. Religions around the world also have a Tree of Life, though the means of representing it vary. In the Western religions, the Tree of Life is most known from the story of Genesis / Bereshit:
And out of the ground made יהוה אלהים [Jehovah Elohim] to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; עץ החיים [the tree of lives] also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. - Genesis 2:9
And יהוה אלהים said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever... So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubim, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life. - Genesis 3:22
Throughout the Judeo-Christian scriptures, there are important hints about the nature of the Tree of Life:
Happy [is] the man [that] findeth חכמה [Chokmah, wisdom], and the man [that] getteth תבונה [tabuwn, Binah, understanding]... She [is] a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and happy [is every one] that retaineth her. - Proverbs 3:18
The fruit of the righteous [צדיק tsadik] is a tree of life... - Proverbs 11:30
He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God. - Rev 2:7
In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, [was there] the tree of life, which bare twelve [manner of] fruits, [and] yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree [were] for the healing of the nations. - Rev 22:2
Blessed [are] they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. - Rev 22:14
In Hebrew, עץ החיים actually means "Tree of Lives."
The Cosmic Tree of Life
The primary symbol of the Tree of Life is a structure of ten spheres called Sephiroth in Hebrew. These spheres have many levels of meaning. Macrocsmically, they represent dimensions or worlds. Psychologically, they represent aspects of our consciousness. Physically, they represent parts of the body. While these ten spheres have different levels of meaning, they are not the only structures on the Tree of Life. The ten spheres are but a simplification of a much more sophisticated and complex rendering of the many dimensions found in existence and non-existence.
In general, there are said to be three manifested levels of existence: the heavens, the physical realm, and the inferior worlds (hells). Yet, these three manifested worlds only exist temporarily, in stages or great epochs. They emerge from and return to a great non-existence or void, the Emptiness or Absolute.
...the Cause of Causes made ten sephiroth and called Kether the source, and there is no end to the welling of its light. Therefore, He called Himself "endlessness," (Ain Soph) and He has no likeness or image. - Zohar
The Absolute, Emptiness, or Void: Negative Existence or Uncreated Light
- Ain Soph
- Ain Soph Aur
Manifested Existence (from the most subtle to the most concrete)
- Kether - related to the zero or seventh dimension
- Chokmah - related to the zero or seventh dimension
- Binah - related to the zero or seventh dimension
- Chesed - related to the sixth dimension
- Geburah - related to the sixth dimension
- Tiphereth - related to the sixth dimension
- Netzach - related to the fifth dimension
- Hod - related to the fifth dimension
- Yesod - related to the fourth dimension
The Physical World
- Malkuth - related to the third dimension
The Hells or Inferior Dimensions
- The Nine Inverted Sephirah (as listed above, but not including Malkuth)
The Tree of Life on the Body
The ten Sephiroth are within each one of us. They subexist in all organic and inorganic matter. Every human being has them, but needs to incarnate them. When they are already Self-realized, the Sephiroth sparkle like precious gems within Atman. The Sephiroth form regions where the Archangels, Angels, Cherubim, Potencies, etc., live. The Sephiroth have their points of relation with the physical body.
Location of the Sephiroth within the physical body:
1. Kether - the crown, in the superior part of the head
2. Chokmah - right side of the brain
3. Binah - left side of the brain
4. Chesed - in the right arm
5. Geburah - in the left arm
6. Tiphereth - in the heart
7. Netzach - in the right leg
8. Hod - in the left leg
9. Yesod - in the sexual organs
10. Malkuth - in the feet
These are the points of contact of the Sephiroth with the human body. The Sephiroth are atomic. They are not atoms of carbon, oxygen, and nitrogen. They are atoms of a spiritual nature that belong to occult, esoteric, and spiritual chemistry. - Samael Aun Weor
While in the modern Gnostic tradition we rely most on the Judeo-Christian Tree of Life, that is not the only symbolic representation of the laws that sustain life.
Contemplate this: that traditions all over the world held basically the same symbol as a representation of the highest and most sacred aspect of their civilizations. We take it for granted, but these images indicate something extremely significant.
Remember that the Tree of Life is always associated with the Divine Mother, the serpent, and the sacrifices that develop spiritual life. With this in mind, these symbols will reveal themselves to you.
The Assyrian Tree of Life
The Buddhist Tree of Life
It is well-known that the Buddha Shakyamuni was born under a sacred tree, and acheived enlightenment under a sacred tree. Yet it is not well-known that the Bodhi tree (the "Tree of Wisdom") is a ficus tree, a fig tree. In the Bible, the fig tree is very important. Do not Adam and Eve cover their sexual organs with a fig leaf?
The Christian Tree of Life
The Egyptian Tree of Life
Saith Osiris Ani: "Hail, sycamore tree of the goddess Nut [The Divine Mother]! Grant thou to me of the water and the air which are in thee. I embrace thy throne which is in Unnu, and I watch and guard the egg of the Great Cackler. It groweth, I grow; it liveth, I live; it sniffeth the air, I sniff the air, I the Osiris Ani, in triumph." - The Egyptian Book of the Dead
The Greek Tree of Life
The serpent guarding the golden apples of the Hesperides, being nourished by a goddess.
The Olmec Tree of Life
The Mayan Tree of Life
The ancient Mayans symbolized their mystical sciences in a Tree of Life, depicated as a vertical axis upon which all life is balanced and sustained, upon which depend the three levels of life: the underworld, the earth, and the heavens.
Nordic Tree of Life
The Tibetan Tree of Life
In Lhasa, Tibet, in the temple of the Dalai Lamas, one can see this striking painting of the great master Nagarjuna drinking ambrosia from the Tree of Life. Compare this to the Egyptian paintings above.
The Sanskrit word Kalachakra is derived from kala, time, and chakra, wheel, thus the meaning is The Wheel of Time. The study of Kalachakra is present in all the Tibetan Buddhist traditions, and is focused on the laws and structures that manage existence, the body, and liberation. While there are many symbols associated with this tradition, the one that most reveals its deep connection to Gnosis and the root of all mystical sciences is this one:
In this image it is clear to see that there are worlds above and worlds below, and in the middle is a path to liberation.
A common phrase in the Kalachakra traditions is, "as it is outside, so it is within." Therefore, this chart represents not only the universe and dimensions, but also our inner psychology.