Download PDF printer friendly version of this section

2. Mystical Qabalah - Background

G. Hebrew Qabalah and the North Indian Tantra

Some Qabalists believe that the Semitic mystical tradition reached well beyond the geographical boundaries of the Tigris-Euphrates Valley. Archeological evidence has shown that the trade routes between the Tigris-Euphrates and the Indus Valleys were actively traversed as early as 10,000 BCEDiringer, David. The Alphabet "A Key to the History of Mankind," (Vol. I, II), Funk and Wagnalls, New York, 1968..35 When the Indian Buddhists went to China, they were made privy by its rulers to old Chinese texts that described voyages of large junks from the South China Seas to India (at a time when the Saraswati River still ran all the way to the sea), to the Sinai Peninsula, down the western African coast, and beyond. In ancient times, traders were largely the principal conduits for transmitting a variety of information among diverse cultures, including mystical information. It is highly likely that such information traveled to and from the Indus Valley and the Sinai Peninsula along such ancient merchant routes. The arm of historical certainty as yet does not reach very far back in human history, but more and more information is coming to light that confirms worldwide sea travel by ancient Chinese, Mediterranean, and Indonesian cultures long before the relatively recent “discoveries” made by Western Europeans.

In the Lech Lecha section of Torah B’reshith (the Book of Genesis, named “B’reshith” after its first word), several generations of Abraham’s children by Keturah and a number of his concubines are listed. Abraham divided up the branches of his family, “giving them gifts” and sending those childrenTorah B’reshith 25:1-6. In the rabbinical tradition, there is a contrary idea that Keturah was actually Hajar. This teaching is based on an exegesis of the name Keturah ('attached'), which professes that when Hajar was sent away by Abraham at Sarah’s insistence, she strayed after the idols of her ancestors. But, in time, she renounced the idol worship and re-attached herself to a life of virtue. by his concubines “east to the east country.”36 One interpretation of this passage holds that “east country” refers to an area in Syria or Jordan. Another theory postulates that these children of Abraham emigrated east to India over long established sea or overland trade routes, where they established the monotheistic religion of Shiva/Shakti long before the invasion of the Aryans down from the Persian steppes. The sea route could have gone through the Gulf of Aqaba, down the Red Sea, through the Gulf of Aden along the coast of Yemen and Oman, across the Arabian Sea to the mouth of the Indus River, and up into the Indus Valley. In India, this religion is called Tantra, and is often referred to in the West as “the Tantras.” When the Aryans invaded Northern India in the fourteenth century BCE, they encountered a dark-skinned people inhabiting the Sandya Hills above the Indus Valley, for whom the Tantric traditions and rituals of Shiva/Shakti were centuries old.

The Tantric tradition is one of the most poorly understood and misrepresented of the world’s mystical traditions. The written books of the Tantras (called Tantra Shastra), such as the Mahanirvana Tantra and the Satchakracidrupini, are distinct from the Vedic/Upanishadic literature of the Sanatana DharmaWoodroffe, Sir John. Mahanirvana Tantra (The Great Liberation), Ganesh, Madras, 1953.

Woodroffe, Sir John. The Serpent Power (Satchakracidrupini and Padukapanchakra), Ganesh,Madras, 1958.

The Vedas are sacred Hindu scriptures. It is said that Brahma (the creative aspect of Vast Face as Brahman) sang a Veda and thereby created the Solar System. The Sanatana Dharma is the sacred tradition of the Aryan Hindus.
. Many of the primary names of the Divine in the Tantras, such as Shiva and Kali, are also found in the Hebrew Torah. The map of the Sefiroth (lit. Spheres) in the Tree of Life (etz ha-chayyim) and the map of the Chakras (lit. Wheels) of the Tantras have much in common. The Kundalini spoken of in the Tantras and the Shekhinah of the Qabalah appear to have the same function. The Kundalini is described as a coiled snake asleep at the base of the Chakric Tree. On page 12 of the Introduction to Tantra Shastra, Sir John Woodroffe says:

Kundalini means ‘coiled.’ Hence, Kundalini, whose form is that of a coiled serpent, means ‘that which is coiled.’ She is the luminous vital energy (Jivashakti) which manifests as prana [ed. same as qi in Chinese, and ruach in Hebrew]Woodroffe, Sir John. Introduction to Tantra Shastra, Ganesh, Madras, 1958. Jivashakti is the energy of embodied consciousness. Prana is the life force, synonymous with ruach in Qabalah and qi in Taoism. The hissing referred to in the quote is the sound of the nervous system.. She sleeps in the Muladhara Chakra (Sefirah Kingdom on the Hebrew Tree of Life), and has three and a half coils corresponding in number with the three and half bindus (knots). When, after closing the ears, the sound of Her hissing is not heard, then death approaches.”

Both the Chakric Tree Chakric Tree and the qabalistic Tree of Life have three structural channels. The central channel on the Chakric Tree is called the “Shushumna.” The central channel on the qabalistic Tree is denoted as the “Central Column.” The side channels on the Chakric Tree are called the “Ida” and the “Pingala;” and on the qabalistic Tree, the “Columns of the Right and the Left.” The side channels play a much more prominent role in the Qabalah than they do in the Tantras.

The Kundalini, as Chitshakti (the energy of consciousness), awakens and ascends the Chakric Tree, opening the Chakric lotuses along the Shushumna on Her way to unite with Her Husband Shiva in the Ajna Chakra at the forehead. The ascent by the Kundalini is also called the Satchakrabheda, the “Piercing of the Six Centers.” In the Chintamanistava, attributed to the incarnate sage Sri Shankaracharya, it says:

“This family woman (Kundalini), entering the royal road (Shushumna, Central Column of the Tree), taking rest at intervals in the secret places (Chakras, Sefiroth), embraces the Supreme Spouse (in the Ajna Chakra, forehead center) and makes the nectar to flowWoodroffe, Sir John. Chintamanistava (included in The Serpent Power), Ganesh, Madras, 1958. (in the Sahasrara Chakra, Sefirah Crown/Above).”

The ascent of the Tree of Life by the Shekhinah is called Shabat (tbs, Sabbath). The Shekhinah is said to be in exile in the Lower Worlds. On the Sabbath, She ascends via the Sefiroth (Spheres) of the Central Column of the Tree of Life and unites with Her Husband Lord YHVH in the Upper Worlds. This is echoed in the song of Rabbi Yitza’aq Luria, commonly found in Hebrew prayer books:

Lekah Dodee Likraht Calah Penay Shabat neQabalah.”
(“Come my Beloved to meet the Bride, Face of Sabbath to receive.”)Rabbi Luria’s song of the Sabbath has numerous verses, for which this is the refrain. This song is prominently found in most Jewish prayer books.

The meditation practices employed by both Mystical Qabalists and Tantrikas involve a coordinated use of mantra and yantra. Mantra are sequences of Divine Names having great intrinsic power to transform consciousness, and yantra are visualizations that correlate directly and specifically to the mantra. Anthropomorphic descriptions of the Lord YHVH are usually allusions to mysteries and to states and stations of consciousness. Such anthropomorphic allusions are likewise profuse in the Tantras. The Hindu and Tibetan Buddhist Tantric traditions are particularly noted for their explicit sexual allusions to mystical states. Similar allusions are found in the Idra Zuta Qadusha (Lesser Holy Assembly) and other qabalistic literature. Also, some Qabalists engage in potent yogic sexual practices similar to those performed by the Virabhava Tantrikas"Virabhava" means "mood of the Hero." In their pure manifestation, Virabhava Tantrikas are men who have overcome the driving impulse of lust, enabling them to engage in powerful sexual disciplines designed to quickly give access to higher states of consciousness. In time, the sexual disciplines of the Tantras degraded into orgiastic rituals bearing little resemblance to their original intent. Virabhavas find their counterparts amongst Chinese Taoist sexual alchemists. An additional and prominent focus of the Taoist alchemists is longevity of the physical body. and Chinese Taoist alchemists. Unfortunately, the sexual disciplines (which are just one component of the Tantric tradition overall) are poorly understood, dangerous, and have long suffered from corruption and exploitation. While there is a plethora of material to compare between the Qabalah and the North Indian and Tibetan Buddhist Tantra, it is well beyond the scope of this book.

Back Next Home