|Warning: This is obscure technical qabalah-speak.
Another page mostly of interest to people who already have worked with the qabalah a bit. If you are a complete beginner with the notion of qabalah, the below might be mildly interesting but it will seem like some sort of mind game. Which is basically what it is, but it might be interesting to qabalah geeks.
Structurally, we can simplify the formula of the Tree of Life representation by "assuming as given" the sphere's Ain and Malkuth-- Existence and Non-Existence (or more accurately "other-than-existence") cancel each other out, leaving only the spheres shown in the second diagram below.
(What this means is that Ain "includes" all the spheres from above, while Malkuth includes all the spheres plus Ain from below. Ain and Malkuth equally contain all others [arguably in a different way], therefore they are equal. Because they are equal, they cancel each other out. This leaves the remaining spheres, including Daath, as the only remaining forces that we can observe and 'control'. What is the result of this method of looking at/working with the Tree diagram? It further simplifies the representation of the flow of "mind". )
This above, then, is one representation of an ultimate or functionally simplified form of the Tree of Life: two interlocking self-stabilizing hexagonal elements of seven members,three interlocking self-stabilizing quaternary elements, and twelve thesis-antithesis-synthesis triads.
Well. what'ya know, we're back to 10 spheres. Not that I think there's any 'magic property' in the number of spheres.
What's important about the diagram is that it have 'a sufficient level of complexity' to comprehensively represent human experience.
The traditional diagrams of western culture, which originated in the ancient Middle East and flowed to us mostly thru Greece and Rome, have seven elements (based on the seven 'planets' visible to the naked eye) and twelve elements (based on Sumerian mathematics which divided the full circular band of the ecliptic stars into the twelve zodiacal signs). These numbers, from seven to twelve, seem to represent the top and bottom "minimum necessary numbers-of-elements" for a 'sufficient level of complexity' diagram. Taoism uses 8, some forms of Sufism use 9. 10, being the number we can count on our fingers, has a nice round feel to it for we westerners.
The differences in the patterns of "sacred numbers" and sacred systems are probably much like the differences between Fahrenheit and Centigrade temperature scales; they tell us more about the culture of their users, than about any absolute principles.
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