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Book of Trees

Aug 06, 1996 08:42 AM
by Maxim Osinovsky

James wrote:

> The manuscript, the "Book of
>Trees", is a scroll written about the same time that the existing system of
>the Ari was being formalized.  It is written in Hebrew, and currently
>resides in a museum in Europe.  At that time there were many systems to
>explain the Kaballah, not just the currently accepted form (the ARI, named
>for it's author).  HPB obviously had access to the manuscript, or she was
>able to duplicate the system by using her esoteric understanding (as
>confirmed on Page 200 of Secret Doctorine, Vol. 1.)  As far as this being
>"Something the author has no real knowedge of", The author possesses a
>photostatic reproduction of the manuscript, and has learned much from it's
>study. Further, It has been presented in a book on Kaballah (albeit with no
>translation.) The book is unavailable to me at present however, if pressed,
>I will go to the effort produce the text <snip>

I believe I have located a reference to "Book of Trees" in a published book:
The item in question is:

	Z'ev ben Shimon Halevi
	Kabbala: Tradition of Hidden Knowledge
	published by Thames and Hudson, my copy dated 1979
	("Art and Imagination" series)

On p.72-73 one may find an illlegible reproduction of (the entire?)
Scroll of Trees, Poland, 19th c., Alfred Cohen Collection. I hope this
matches James' description.

Let me attach to this reference my humble opinion about the importance of
Kabbala to studying the Secret Doctrine. Although my knowledge of Kabbala
is limited and is strongly biased toward *German* Kabbalistic tradition as
having been taught in the old Russia, I strongly feel that SD and Jewish
Kabbala may agree only in general, not in particular details,--so for
someone interested in application of Jewish Kabbala to SD it may not be
necessary to  engage in in-depth study of Jewish Kabbala. Of course, this
judgement  does not apply to someone who is interested in Jewish Kabbala
per se--this is a SEPARATE, very interesting and exciting field.

This opinion is supported by my talks to Soviet Kabbalists conversant
with interpreting the Jewish Scripture on all four levels of

The most promising area of Kabbalistic research in the framework of
theosophy, IMO, is following along the lines the 'neo-Kabbala' represented
by J. Ralston Skinner.

(BTW, does someone know if the unpublished 3rd part of his "Key to the
Hebrew-Egyptian Mystery..." is available for borrowing or purchase as a
photocopy or a microfim?)

This has nothing to do with merits or deficiencies of Kabbala--this is
not my point,-- I just want to stress that Kabbala is a separate, highly
specialised area of study. Anyone studying Kabbala--except such giants as
HPB and J.Ralston Skinner and possibly old Rosicrucians--tends to get
lost in whirling thoughtforms created by many generations of Jewish
kabbalists and loses from sight wider perspectives offered by the Ageless

My opinion is
indirectly supported by my experience of studying Mahayana and
living for 3+ years at a local Tibetan Buddhist community. Connection
between SD and Mahayana is allegedly much closer than between Kabbala and
SD,--but what I've learned is that I should not even think about talking
with those Tibetan guys about HPB and SD,--there is a wide gap, nay, an
abyss. Similar to some Jewish kabbalists, they perceive SD as a parody of
Mahayana as they know it. After many years of studying Buddhism I see
they are absolutely correct from their own point of view.


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