Most of the old cultures used a decimal numeral system, based on 10 as we use today. There are a few exceptions based on 12, 20 (maya) or 60 (babylonians), but having 10 fingers it is quite natural that 10 has become the mostly used system of counting.
One thing which many of the old cultures share is the understanding of a ladder or sequence from the highest to the lowest in 10 stages. A hierarchy from God to Man in ten steps.
Jacob’s Dream by William Blake (c. 1805, British Museum, London)
The Chinese described it through the 10 heavenly stems and in the Buddhist tradition we have The Ox Herding Pictures. In Egypt we have the Creation Myth of Heliopolis (On in Egyptian). There are many more examples.
Of all these traditions the Kabbalah explains and describes these stages into an elaborate degree of detail and precision. Here we see the sequence in the Tree of Life.
The Tree of Life also describes this sequence as going through 4 worlds. These correspond from above downwards to the 4 elements.
In the Kabbalah these worlds describe creation as a process of condensation of moving from pure energy into matter. The upper triangle is the triangle of fire and points upwards, it is regarded as separated from the rest of the Tree by an abyss. A symbol of how this upper world of God belongs to a higher order, a level above the rest of creation. The abyss is to explain the huge spiritual distance.
The next two triangles are pointing downwards, the upper is of air and the lower of water. The uppermost triangle of fire is the source of creation, constantly emitting into the others in sequence.
The air triangle represents the world where the creative power becomes organized into archetypical principals then these condense even more in the next stage and start the formation of shapes in the triangle of water.
At the bottom we have the worldly kingdom the material earth. Here the archetypical principles that got form in the water world becomes materialized.
In the Kabbalah each of the ten Sephiroth represents and aspect of God with a hierarchy of different angelic beings in each. Angels (Cherubim) are the kind closest to us and take part in many aspects of our life, most important is the gathering of people into a higher degree of coherence a higher holonity. The next level, the archangels (Bnei Elohim) give us light and guidance on the path. Principalities (Elohim) are above the archangels they work with us on a even more energetic level and drive our development and evolution. They make us grow in their garden of human souls. In this garden we grow towards the spiritual aspect of the sun, where we have the malachim or kings, they cultivate virtues in us. And the sequence follows all the way to God where the seraphim eternally prays the creator in his holiness with singing “holy, holy holy”.
If we look at the Lords prayer it shows the same understanding. We will take it from Sephira to Sephira from the top to the bottom of the Tree of Life.
It starts with the upper triangle of God with:
Kether: Our Father
Chochmah: who art in heaven
Binah: hallowed be thy name.
Then it moves to the connection of God or Heaven and Earth
Chesed: Thy kingdom come.
Geburah: Thy will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Tiphereth: Give us this day our daily bread
Then it moves to the water triangle and interhuman realm:
Netzach: and forgive us our trespasses,as we forgive those who trespass against us,
Hod: and lead us not into temptation,
Yesod: but deliver us from evil.
Then we have the doxology, that is added later:
“For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen“
Malkuth is the kingdom
Yesod gives power – Gabriel = Powerful God
Hod is glory
Netzach means eternity
Amen would be Tiphereth.
The symbol of joining both hands is also a nice way to say 1 = 10 and 10 = 1
Or God is all and mans union with God returns him to oneness.
If we compare this with the commandments.
The upper trigon:
I am the Lord thy God,
Kether: Thou shalt have no other gods before me
Chochmah: Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image
Binah: Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain
The upper air trigon:
Chesed: Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy
Geburah: Honor thy father and thy mother
Tiphereth: Thou shalt not murder
The water trigon:
Netzach: Thou shalt not commit adultery
Hod: Thou shalt not steal
Yesod: Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor
Malkuth: Thou shalt not covet (Neighbors house, wife, servants, animals or anything else)
This same structure we find in many of the old traditions.
In the creational myth of Heliopolis in Egypt Atum (Amun) created from within himself Shu and Tefnut.
The three together represent the highest triangle.
Then Shu and Tefnut got Nut and Geb. The upper part of the air triangle, representing the gods of heaven and earth.
They got Osiris, Isis, Nephtys and Set.
Representing Tiphereth, Yesod, Netzach and Hod.
Finally Osiris and Isis got Horus (Malkuth).
There are many more examples to illustrate how all this cultures discovered the same path and stages from man to God. One day I will share more of them with you.