Faith, Knowledge and the Tree of Life
There is little access to the "Tree of Life" without first developing refined analytical abilities through logic and reason. These refined analytical abilities aid the individual in creating "vessels" (/networks) for abstract "understanding" to retain the higher (insight of) "light".
There are three major stages one must enter before obtaining consistent access to the intimate and corrective light of the "Tree of Life".
"Faith Below Reason"
The elementary level of spiritual development is "Faith Below Reason". At this stage one perceives the world within the framework of a stable "tradition". One does not filter these traditions to discover or isolate their essence (what is eternal and selfless from what has been wrapped in perceptions of cultural and individualistic ego and their material /fractured consciousness). Instead the individual follows these "traditions" with a blind faith and yearns to draw closer through blind sacrifice and personal devotion.
When found to be sincere and worthy, the Divine will through "nature" send blows (perceived existential chaos/ discord) to the individual to prompt the awakening of a re-calibrated perception that filters one's intention and "understanding" through a new matrix of "truth" and "reason".
This is akin to a young child who is taught language and concepts. If you teach a young child what "water" is, or what "light" is; the child readily accepts the given tradition of what water and light is, and how they operate. Young children will not demand explanations about how their mind interprets light waves, or what prevents water from turning into vaporous gas etc. Instead the young child readily accepts the given tradition and attempts to sincerely adopt it. In this way, a child accumulates an incredible network of concepts and language to reference the reality of their experiences, but all of these are unquestionably adopted through the cultural "tradition", without personally filtering these explanations through reason (this stage of development is called "Faith Below Reason").
"Faith & Reason"
Once empowered with the tool of reason, the individual is able to begin reintegrating all previous knowledge and perceptions through the filtering matrix of "reason" and "understanding". This process "renews" the knowledge as it is being reacquired through "understanding". This lays the foundation for a reliable infrastructure to build successive deductions for future expanded attainment. In this way the individual begins to taste a level of the (eternal) truth by extracting from previous "traditions", separating their "truth" (/life energy) from their surrounding (/shell of) ego, superstition and superficial perceptions (This stage is called "Faith and Reason").
"Faith Above Reason"
Once the individual has refined and activated his "reason" filter, he is then able to begin comprehending, appreciating and "feeling" higher insight (/light) of the "Tree of Life".
Due to the very fact that the individual has already completely reintegrated his knowledge base, filtering it through a matrix of logic and reason ("knowledge" has thus become "understanding"), the individual is able to further refine these tools of logic and reason to where he is confidently able to apply them within abstract "thought" terrains. Then, the individual is prepared to modify his "intention" (and align his perception) to ascend to the higher knowledge rubric of the "Tree of Life".
The beauty of "Tree of Life" wisdom, is not that it is without reason. In fact, it is a profoundly logical system, with symmetrically elegant teachings. However, because this portal of highly abstract and concentrated insight would never have been discovered through mere reason alone, this stage is called "Faith Above Reason".
"Tree of Life" insight has been imparted to mankind through rare souls that have attained an abundantly loving, yearning and transcendent level of spirit. These unique individuals are able to "merge" their intellects their higher self (yechidah) that are able to impart higher teachings to our material life through the spiritual portal of consciousness (/perception) within the individual.
Hence, it is only after the individual has truly mastered and reintegrated his "thought" through reason, and adopted the disciplines of inverting the ego to altruism, and maintaining a singularly aligned transcendent perception that he will transform his spirit into a truly benevolent and attuned "soul", able to access and attain "higher knowledge" (This stage is called "Faith Above Reason").
Mon, 26 May 2008 / 21st of Iyyar, 5768 - Parshat Bamidbar (Diaspora) /36th day of the Omer