The ten stages in the creative process both divine and human begin with the sephirah of Crown, a pre-cognitive realm of intention to create. It represents the divine will to create the universe before the Creation as well as a human being’s will to create something new. This will to create is followed by cognitive sephirot of Wisdom and Understanding, the realm of mind experienced as insight and thought. The next six sephirot represent the affective realm of Compassion, Strength, Beauty, Success, Splendor, and Foundation. The ninth sephirah of Foundation funnels all the earlier eight sephirot of the worlds of will, mind and emotions into the tenth sephirah of Kingdom, the world of action, the place where everything is happening.
Crown sets the stage for the sephirah of Wisdom (Hokhmah) that requires a selfless state, nullification of the ego that opens gateways to supraconscious and subconscious realms. When active seeking ceases, when consciously preoccupied with unrelated activities, when we least expect it, the germ of the creative idea bursts into our consciousness. This sudden flash of insight is what the kabbalah calls Wisdom. It is the transition from nothingness to being, from potential to the first moment of existence. In biblical words, “Wisdom shall be found in nothingness” (Job 28:12).
Indeed, the definition of Sabbath rest is to refrain from making MeLekHet MakHSheVeT. The Sabbath day is biblically defined as the Non-Art day. It is the day in which all work on the tabernacle was suspended. To this day, an observant Jew on the Sabbath avoids doing any of the 39 categories of thoughtful craft that went into the biblical artists’ creation of the tabernacle.
My absorption in the rhythm of the chanting of the Torah put me into a meditative state. I was passively listening, open to receiving. The stage was set for the sephirah of Wisdom.
As soon as the synagogue service came to an end, I rushed to explain to my wife that I needed to make computer angels. “You need to make what?” she responded incredulously. As I transformed my unformed insight into words to explain my thoughts to her, I entered into the sephirah of Understanding.
I planned to visit the print room at the Metropolitan Museum of Art where I could look at original Rembrandt drawings and etchings and select his angel images. I knew he had created a number of artworks of Jacob’s dream. “A ladder was standing on the ground, and its top reached up toward heaven, and angels were going up and down on it” (Genesis 28:12). Since angels first go up before they go down, they must start their ascent from the lowest of places. I thought that in New York City, perhaps angels fly up from the subways. I would paint on subway posters and silk-screen print on them digitized Rembrandt angels and spiritual messages from underground.
The eight sephirah of Splendor (Hod) is the glorious feeling that the final shaping of the idea is going so smoothly that it seems as effortless as the splendid movements of a graceful dancer. The sephirah of Success is an active self-confidence in contrast with the sephirah of Splendor which is a passive confidence born of a trust in divine providence that “all will be good.” It is the power to advance smoothly with the determination and perseverance born of deep inner commitment. It is the wonderful feeling that all is going as it should.