| Carlo Suares: The Sepher Yetsira: Introduction
Although The Sepher Yetsira is the fundamental text book of the Qabala, most, if not all, of the cabalists are baffled by this work, finding it mysterious, occult and well-nigh incomprehensible. One would expect that a text book giving a clear and simple resume of the subject should be intelligible to "specialists," but the majority has no idea of what the Qabala is about. In this they are not very different from the general public who has vaguely heard about the Qabala. For the more it is discussed, the more it becomes entangled with the extraordinary complications of mediaeval, Jewish theology whose obsolescence is respected or despised, according to prejudice.
In actual fact, the Qabala is essentially Hebraic, although no one, not even the Jews, can say exactly what its mystery is.
Despite all the assertions of living and past cabalists I do not agree with the saying that "The Qabala is the Zohar." I consider that the three great cabalistic works are Genesis, The Song of Songs and The Sepher Yetsira.
These three works have had very different fates. Genesis has been translated into twelve hundred languages and even today is selling in millions of copies annually. About a third of humanity is hypnotised by its stories masquerading as history and by its characters who have never existed: Adam, Eve, Cain, Abe), Noah, and so on. Some of them, such as Abraham, Isaac or Jacob may, perhaps, have an historic basis, but they are much more the heroes of an epoch than real persons. The Song of Songs is firmly and absurdly attributed to Solomon, and nobody knows, or wishes to know, why this love story is included in the "Holy Bible." I have done my best to present the true nature of these writings to the public. Here, therefore is the third volume in this series, which should complete a first elementary study of the Qabala, according to my interpretation.
I begin our study by saying that the Qabala is a science and that The Sepher Yetsira is a precise and accurate treatise on the structure of cosmic energy, written in a hidden code. This should not be a surprise; all the physical sciences are, now nowadays, written in cipher codes. If the code referring to the letters E, M, C was unknown, Einstein's equation, E=MC2 could not be understood. The mystery of the Qabala is simply due to the fact that the cabalists are not aware of what its language is, and to their ignorance both of the analogical mode of thought characterising this language, and of the necessity of connecting this text with modern scientific research, instead of with the archaic stages of a science. In this they are like people who call themselves great physicians because they spend their time studying Archimedes, or mathematicians because they know Euclid by heart. This kind of scholarship is no more than an intellectual diversion, contributing nothing to our strife-riven world, or to our present consciousness which has lost its past mythological illusions and is in the process of bridging religion and science.
It is this very bridge that is being offered to those who wish to study the Qabala seriously, The Sepher Yetsira, with the two other Cabalistic texts above mentioned above -- Genesis and The Song oj Songs (even if archaic in form and surpassed in the observation of phenomena by modern science -- belong to a cycle when knowledge of the cosmic forces playing upon human consciousness was directly and intuitively perceived. evolution has developed the brain's so-called "objecive" powers of thought. It is high time that these powers break through some of the barriers they have erected to prevent cosnmic energy from penetrating the psyche.
Our faculty of scientific observation, by means of finely perfected instruments, penetrates the galaxies, the atoms and the infinitesimal genetic elements, and is contending with the mystery of mysteries, the phenomenon of consciousness, about which it admits it understands nothing. Psychology, enclosed in its own analytical world, with a vocabulary of its own, is incapable of freeing itself from its own verbiage.
In studying the Qabala, and The Sepher Yetsira in particular, one must be prepared to think in a new way, entirely different from one's usual, habitual manner, because its language is analogical and inclusive: each letter must be understood within a field surrounding a particular aspect of energy at all its cosmic and human levels, as well as symbolically. For example, one reads that the letter Bayt "forms" day One, Shabatai, Saturn in the Zodiac, and the right eye. Such assertion and many others have been and still are ridiculed by the representatives of "enlightened Judaism," partisans of "rational theology." These are the people who rank as authorities. They classified the Yetsira as mysticism, and when they happen to quote a passage they quote it askance.
It is true that the anonymous authors of this curious writing did nothing to help the reader understand it. As a matter of fact, they wrote it to refresh the memory of those who know, and to mislead those who do not. Those who know, in the full sense of the word, can "read" not only the letters of the code in cipher, not only the ontological significance of the numbers, but also the permutations which the anonymous authors "played," so to say, in order to baffle those who were not capable of formulating them in their real meaning. (Readers will see an example of these permutations in our commentary on verse I, 12.)
It is also true that we are not, even yet, able to verify if one part of the body corresponds to such and such a planet, or if some Sephira corresponds to some direction in Space (due to science's present abysmal ignorance of man's place in the universe). However, one cannot prevent oneself from feeling a shiver, alnmost of horrow, on reading that the letter Tayt forms the hebrew month Av. Tayt is number 9. It is the symbol of a cell, and Av is the birth of a new cycle following the destruction of thc old. And it is a fact that all the great disasters of the Jews, including the final destruction of the Temple, happened so on the 9th of the month of Av, that that date has become a day of mourning in the State of Israel. The Jews bewail the destructions and, naturally, do not hail the recurring new births of which they only know the repeated, excruciating pain. The Tayt, formation of Av, as asserted by The Sephcr Yetsira, is enough to ask ourselves, in a kind of a daze, if the whole story of the Jews is a projection of the Qabala on the world scene, as understood by anonymous initiates!
To gain this knowledge for ourselves, we must, let us repeat, learn to read, know, what each letter and number means. We must, at least, know how to decipher certain combinations which, in the three writings with which we are concerned, have become, traditionally and idiomatically, totally different from their real meaning.
It is not surprising, one realises, that the authors of these texts have hidden themselves behind their anonymity and have hidden what they had to say in a play on words containing their secret key. Their knowledge contrasted strongly with traditional religion, which, even in these days, is only the mytholological projection engendered by the impact of truths that have been misunderstood, and not by the expression of these truths themselves.
It is therefore no longer surprising that The sepher Yetsira has given rise to most fantastic interpretations, from which we Inust completey free ourselves if we Wish to understand this text directly To start on this way of thinking, its postulates must be understood, its mode of reflection and bion be penetrated and its constituent elements known. To bring this about, it is necessary to purge the Qabala of all the proliferations of thc cabalists seeking, over the ages, to express their own conditioning centered on their religious myths. In particular, the majority of cabalists are Jews enslaved to the Torah, and they have always asserted that one cannot know how to be a cabalist without practising the Mosaic law. In this way Mosaism both annexed and rejected the Qabala and made it unrecognisable.
But the Qabala is not a derivative from, or a superstructure of, or a Heresy of Mosaism. The contrary is true: Moses was directed to give out this very ancient knowledge antedating Judaism in an historical sequence (and it is undeniable that the people who received it became its protective shell). The Sepher Yetsira leaves no doubt as to its anteriority and its cabalistic method: it never refers to Moses, or to his laws or to the historical Jewish people. It is outside the flow of time. Its only contact with history -- in language that has nothing anecdotal about it -- is the legendary Abraham.
It speaks to those who know its code in the following words that conclude the book (VI,4): Schetsefa Abraham, our father, may he rest in peace (when he was set on emitting a flux, on participating in the vital flow) he looked, he saw, he explored, he articulated, he mapped out, he heaved, he combined, he structured, he raised his hand and Adon Hakol, blessed be his name, filled him to overflowing, revealed himself to him, re- ceived him in his bosom, kissed him on the head, called him my friend and made a covenant with him and his descendants, which he authenticated with Hay (Abram becoming Abra- ham) and meeted out justice to him (gave him an exact measure). And concluded with him a covenant between the ten toes of the feet, and it is the covenant of circumcision, and between the ten fingers of the hand, and it is the covenant of the Tongue, and attached to his tongue twenty-two Autiot and revealed Yassoden (their foundation) and soaked them in water, singed them by fire, shook them by blowing, consumed them by the seven and guided them by twelve constellations.