by Jack Courtis
Rosicrucian Archive, Kabala Series (crcsite.org)
© 1998 by Stepney Nominees Pty Ltd (ACN 008 869 485) Trustee for Courtis No4 Trust
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"The rose over the west was the Unity."
-- Delmar Duane Darrah, The History and Evolution of Freemasonry
Can we deny the transformation of our selves if we perform the 12 disciplines even at a basic level? We would be radically different people. But remember, we have only dealt with the first level of Being which we call the World of Action, the here and now. What of the next level, the World of Formation? What is required of us to continue with our self transformation? Whereas the level of Action literally requires action on our part, subjective (inner), objective (outer) and as part of a group, the next level is more difficult. The rules change. We plunge headlong into the 7 spiritual processes. Whereas with the 12 disciplines we have a measure of control in that we can choose whether to proceed or not, there is no such choice with the 7 processes. Once we begin there is no turning back. Since we are alive, we have already begun.
The fundamental principle, is the reconciliation of the opposites. We cannot choose one opposite over another. We must experience the relationship between the two and reconcile them into a higher synthesis. This does not mean to be in the middle. For instance, the proper balance between wealth and poverty is not the mathematical average between $1,000,000 and $1, i.e. $500,000. There are people who are poor at $1,000,000 others who are rich at $1. Reconciling the opposites is not that simple.
Let us begin by identifying the pairs of opposites. They are literally beyond number, but tradition has given us 7 pairs that between them, cover the whole of human of experience.
What does it mean to reconcile the pairs of opposites? Already we are struggling to find words to explain the concept, let alone the experience. And this is the point, it is an experience that we must have. That is why these pairs are processes that we must go through. If words fail, nevertheless tradition gives a clue to the meaning of these processes of transformation: Ecclesiastes ch 3 v 1-8.
SEED: To be born; To plant/DESOLATION:To die; To reap
LIFE: To heal; To build/DEATH:To kill; To destroy
WEALTH: To gather; To get/POVERTY:To cast away; To Lose
GRACE: To embrace; To safeguard/UGLINESS: To shun; To discard
WISDOM: To be silent' To sew/FOLLY: To speak; To tear
PEACE: Of peace; To love/ WAR: Of war; To hate
DOMINANCE: To dance; To laugh/SUBJUGATION: To mourn; To weep
It is still difficult to understand these processes of transformation. It would be a great help if someone who has gone before us would describe the experience. What would he say of himself if he had reconciled the opposites?
1. I AM the bread of life: John 6:35
2. I AM the light of the world : John 8:12
3. I AM the door of the sheepfold: John 10:7
4. I AM the good shepherd: John 10:11
5. I AM the resurrection and the life: John 11:25
6. I AM the way the truth and the life: John 14:6
7. I AM the true vine: John 15:1
"I AM" is the most powerful statement any person can make. What are the signs of a person who has experienced the processes of transformation?
1. Turning water into wine: John 2:8
2. Healing official's son: John 4:50
3. Healing paralytic: John 5:g
4. Feeding multitude: John 6:11
5. Walking on water: John 6:19
6. Healing the blind: John 9:7
7. Raising Lazarus: John 11:44
If we can recognise such a person by his signs what epitomises the nature of the experience that he has? What concept better describes the process of reconciliation of the opposites, than suffering?
1. Whipping: John 19:1-29
2. Crown of thorns : John 19:1-29
3. Humiliation: John 19:1-29
4. Beating: John 19:1-29
5. Carrying cross: John 19:1-29
6. Crucifixion: John 19:1-29
7. Vinegar : John 19:1-29
The clue to the process of reconciliation is that the opposites are not antagonistic. They are symbiotic. The best example of this concept is the Yin and the Yang in their ceaseless rhythmic dance as they manifest the Tao. In this relationship, the opposites bring healing and wholeness.
When we have experienced the processes of reconciling the opposites, we too can say "I AM". Only then will we be transformed on the level of Being known as the World of Formation.
What do the 7 Reconciliations mean? What are we required to do? At least with the 12 Disciplines, we have the 12 types of behaviour. They give us a practical guide for action. What about the 7 processes? What action must we take? Try this from the metaphorical process of transformation, we call alchemy:
CALCINATION: We live our life as we find it and act with morality, justice and truth, to the best of our ability.
SUBLIMATION: We change the focus of our attention from self to non-self, as we react to the suffering of others. We begin to sublimate our desires.
SOLUTION: By constant self-awareness, and the practice of the 12 Disciplines, we bring our sub-conscious into the light. It becomes the consciousness of the Self.
PUTREFACTION: We have brought our secret fears and emotions to the surface. We must purify them. Our true motives must be analysed and rectified. Our true identity is sought.
DISTILLATION: By contemplation of the results of the 12 Disciplines, we distill the essence of our being and develop our spiritual character. We are becoming who we truly are.
COAGULATION: Now our intuition is functioning properly and we can act with directness and confidence in any situation. We know truth, we act with justice. We do what is right in the middle of conflict.
TINCTURE: Kosmic consciousness. We are transformed.
If we struggle to describe the transformative experience of the 7 processes, it is almost impossible to describe the 3 Orientations. This is the fundamental principle - orientation. We must find the direction in our lives that leads to God. There are 3 directions: Love, Knowledge and Sacrifice. They all lead to God but allow for individual freedom of choice. We can choose the direction of our lives but once we begin to travel the path, we are swept along. This is the World of Creation and these are the 3 ways in which it acts. As we orient ourselves to God, we come to understand His nature and are transformed thereby.
Is this obscure? Perhaps this might help. In kabala the 3 Mother letters are attributed as follows: Alef - air/Holy Spirit; Mem - water; Shin - fire. Alef is the path from Keter to Chakhmah; Mem is the path from Gevurah to Hod; Shin is the path from Hod to Malkhut.
Is the point still difficult to understand? The clue is given in Luke 3:16 and Matthew 3:11, where John the Baptist speaks of 3 baptisms: water, Holy Spirit and fire. Jesus is baptised with water, followed immediately by the baptism of the Holy Spirit and fire. What does this mean? The 3 baptisms correspond to the 3 Mother letters and 3 paths on the Tree of Life. The baptisms are the experience of those paths. They are the experience of the 3 Orientations. What happens next? Jesus goes to the desert for 40 days (he consciously experiences each sefira of each Tree on each of the 4 Worlds of manifestation). Immediately thereafter, He faces the 3 temptations and by overcoming them, proves the power of the 3 baptisms.
We will be ready to accept the 3 baptisms and through them find the 3 Orientations, only after we have successfully negotiated the 7 pairs of opposites with the assistance of the 12 Disciplines.
We have now come to the impossible. We cannot speak of the transformation that results from union with that aspect of God that is inadequately known as the ONE. This is the goal of the 12 Disciplines, the 7 Reconciliations and the 3 Orientations. This is the great and unspeakable mystery of the World of Emanation. We become the undifferentiated unity of Being.
Why is there a problem? God can be experienced but not comprehended. This is because comprehension is perception with the mind. To perceive, we have to be separate from the object of our perception. This means division. Physical existence is polarity. God is union, therefore not comprehensible by a polarised, divided mind. Only when polarities are reconciled, is union with God possible. Only then can we truly know. The names do not matter. What counts is the archetypal formula that is the authentic standard by which the process of self-transformation is measured, in the Western esoteric tradition:
1 : 3 : 7 :12
This is the formula that emerges from Genesis Ch 1 and which is confirmed by The Apocalypse Ch 1. Kabala resonates with alchemy because alchemy is also based on this formula. For example, if alchemy explains the Below then astrology explains the Above, because it also conforms to the formula. But what reconciles the Above and the Below? After all this is the greatest of the pairs of opposites. Only Man stands midway between the Above and the Below. Therefore only Man can effect the great reconciliation between Heaven and Earth, the Chymical Wedding. Effecting this reconciliation is what transforms us. This is our true function in the kosmos. When we have effected the great reconciliation, this is our nature:
1: Unity of our Being
3: Creative forces
7: Psychic centers
12: Astrological body functions
To know our true nature is to be transformed: as Above, so Below. Kabala is the key, the Tree of Life is the map and the number system is the compass.