Qabalah subscribes to an essentially emmanationist philosophy, describing the creation of the universe in terms of a series
of emmanations issuing from the divine source. There are ten fundamental emmanations in the process of Gods creation which
are depicted on the Tree of Life diagram as the ten sephira or spheres. All things which exist in the world are created from
these ten spheres which in many ways play a similar role to the Ideas or Ideals of Platos philosophy and later neoplatonic
philosophies. Platos `Ideas' were basically divine and idealised templates from which all things are created. Thus, for example,
Plato and neoplatonic philosophers would say that all horses are the manifestations of the divine Idea of the horse in the
realm of plurality. Both Qabalah and Plato, as well as later neoplatonic philosophers who extended and built upon Plato's
work are describing a kind of `formative causation', in which the ultimate cause of all forms is not found by following back
linear chains of causation through time but rather in more fundamental or primary forms.
Within Qabalah an understanding of the process of creation plays a central role, and not simply as an article of faith
or an abstract intellectual study, but also from a very practical perspective. According to the teachings of Qabalah the act
of creation was not just a one of event many aeons ago which is now over and done with, but is actually a continuing process
which is still happening today and in which human beings can play a role, either hindering or helping the manifestation of
the divine. It also provides us with a powerful tool for understanding our own nature by understanding how we came to be as
we are and how our lives came to be the way they are, what forces act to keep us that way, and exactly what power is available
to us to effect change within ourselves and our lives. Such practical considerations are addressed elsewhere in this site,
for this page I would like to stick to the underlying philosophy itself.
Although the theory of emmanations describes the process of creation in a sequential unfolding of the ten sephira, from
Kether to Malkuth, there is such interconnection between the spheres that it is not, strictly speaking, accurate to say that
first kether existed but the others did not, then kether and chokamah and son on. It is more accurate to think simply that
the higher spheres come before the lower spheres when considering the emmanations as a system of cause and effect. This may
seem like exactly the same thing, but there is a subtle difference.
Firstly one must remember that the first three spheres - kether, chokmah and binah, which are known as the Qabalistic
trinity and together form the highest of the four worlds (Atziltuth) are actually a unity, and are separated only for ease
of understanding and are not actually separate entities. Anything above `the abyss' which separates Atziluth from the rest
of the Tree is not part of the realm of plurality and must therefore exist in a state of unity.
What's more, it is said of the Tree of life that `its end is contained within its beginning, and its beginning contained
within its end'. As Kether is the beginning and Malkuth is the end of the process of emmanations this can be taken to mean
that Malkuth is contained within Kether and Kether within Malkuth. Or more accurately still, the highest of the four worlds,
Atziluth, is contained within the lowest, Assiah, and vice versa. You can get a sense of what is meant by this with a quite
simple explanation: Atziluth is the realm of causes, and Assiah the realm of effects; also Atziluth is the subject of all
knowledge, the knower which can never itself be known, whereas Assiah is the object of all knowledge. It should be clear that
these two opposite natures are dependent on one another - you cannot have a `knower' unless there is something to know, and
neither can you have a cause without a corresponding effect. The definition of nature of one necessarily contains the nature
of the other. Thus in reality the act of creation, which is described as a sequential unfolding, in reality happens within
a single moment, with no temporal separation between the stages. This underlying unity is sometimes represented by saying
that there is an entire tree contained within each sphere, and that each sphere contains the whole of eternity.