The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is a remarkable book. What makes it more amazing is that its contents precisely align with the concepts associated with the seven lower emanations (sefirot/attributes). These emanations are the ones we deal with on a day-to-day basis.
As we’ve shown in the Matrix4Humans Knowledge Base, these same emanations relate to the story and characters of The Matrix trilogy. This enables us to make some interesting connections from the movies to “real life,” through the 7 Habits.
You may want to print the featured “Tree of Life” diagram at the top of the page to refer to.
The Matrix > 7 Emanations > 7 Habits > Life
We show in our previous articles that the human characters in the Matrix maintain a complete array of all the sefirotic attributes within them. Some are ‘naturally’ more dominant in certain characters, or may “rise to the occasion,” depending on the circumstances.
The same applies to all of us with the 7 Habits. Some we may be more inclined to or have strength in, however everyone has it within them to recognize and work on all of them,
We are mentioning only certain aspects of each of the 7 Habits in this article. We encourage readers to get the book or use Google to find some of the many articles written around its principles.
The 7 Habits Framework
Not only do Covey’s “7 Habits” reflect the seven lower emanations, but he also breaks down his structure in a way identical to how the sefirot are organized in kabbalistic texts. (Also explained in our background articles.)
Notice that the Habits, when placed on the diagram in their natural order, correspond to the same right, left and central columns and their properties:
- Right (proactive): Habits 1 and 4
- Left (reactive): Habits 2 and 5
- Central (balance/synergy) Habits 3,6,7
Covey next divides the “7 Habits” into a group of six active ones, with the seventh separate and ‘receptive’ of the former. This follows the ‘masculine-feminine” kabbalistic model discussed through our Matrix Knowledge Base.
Finally, and remarkably, he breaks down the group of six into an upper three and lower three, again coinciding with the traditional template.
Dependence > Independence > Interdependence
Covey explains the path of the 7 Habits as us going from a state of ‘dependence,’ to learning ‘how to function’ as independent humans, and finally how we interact with others in a manner of interdependence.
This relates to the Matrix as follows:
- Dependence: This is someone trapped in the Matrix. As Morpheus described to Neo, such people are “hopelessly dependent on the system.”
- Independence: Re-forming our personal foundation on eternal principles. This is a person freed from the Matrix and working on their personal ‘condition.’
- Interdependence: Bringing the above into our relationship with other people. We see this especially in the more developed characters like Neo, Trinity and Morpheus, and how they relate to others, both in and out of the Matrix.
This is the deeper meaning of the Oracle’s Temet Nosce (“know thyself”) sign in her apartment. To ‘know’ is to ‘connect’ to one’s “true self.” Neo’s path and goal is the path and goal of the 7 sefirot and the 7 Habits.
7 Habits: Independence
Covey groups the first three Habits as related to establishing our ‘independence.’ These Habits correspond to these three emanations:
- Habit 1 to Chesed/Kindness
- Habit 2 to Gevurah/Judgment
- Habit 3 to Tiferet/Balance
Habit 1: Be Proactive
Habit 1 teaches that proactive people recognize they have responsibility — or “response-ability” — that is the ability to choose how you will respond to a given stimulus or situation. We should work on the things we can do something about, ‘expanding’ our “circle of influence” within the “circle of concern” (thereby minimizing the latter.) We choose the scripts by which to live our lives.
The first of the 7 Habits mirrors the first of the lower seven emanations, Chesed. It is the initial proactive force among the seven, located on the right side of expansion on the Tree of Life diagram. Chesed is literally ‘kindness,’ but in the sense of taking the right action without having to have a ‘reason’ or worrying about the outcome.
Kabbalah teaches that “The world is built on Chesed.”
Although it is wonderful to be a person of “boundless kindness,” without the restrictive aspect of the next emanation, (Gevurah, Habit #2), it can lead to negative consequences.
Different examples of this could include:
- Giving a child whatever they want all the time to “make them happy”
- Rushing into something, out of desire to do good, without any thought to the outcome
- Overspending in the early stages of a project
In the Matrix
We find the first Habit well represented in Morpheus. As we know, Morpheus’ own ‘proactiveness’ was very much about his ‘belief’ or ‘faith’ – which reflects the aspect of Chokhmah/Wisdom ‘above’ Chesed.
Such an attribute is one that moves forward without having to know all the details first. “Things happen as they are meant to happen,” as Morpheus would say.
Habit 1 is also where Neo takes initiative related to leaving the Matrix. He indicated his desire to “choose his script” to Morpheus:
Morpheus: Do you believe in fate, Neo?
Morpheus: Why not?
Neo: Because I don’t like the idea that I’m not in control of my life.
Habit 2: Begin With the End in Mind
Habit 2 says that in everything we do, we should start with a clear purpose or destination. Before we start setting and achieving goals, we must be able to identify our values. This process may involve some rescripting to be able to assert our own personal values. … we should strive to be principle-centered.
Habit 2 reflects the restrictive side of the left and emanation of Gevurah (Judgment). The origins of gevurah are deeper than what we usually consider as strictness and judgment.
Gevurah’s function is based upon setting limits. Without limits, we cannot measure or calculate, preventing us from formulating ideas regarding the ‘end’ of anything.
This is reflective of the analytical nature of Binah/Understanding, which is above Gevurah on the Tree of Life diagram.
In the Matrix
The Oracle’s analytical ability at Binah is reflected in Gevurah below it. She ‘judges’ every freed human and sets them on their course of action in life, her concern being about “one thing – the future – the “end in mind.”
On the “flip side,” the nature of ‘restriction’ can be destructive, even self-destructive, if it is not closely aligned with true ‘purpose.’ Left on its own, it restricts the light of that truth.
What you end up getting is Agent Smith in the second movie. He has been disconnected from his role of maintaining order in the Matrix, and begins to act to take over and destroy everything.
This detached and destructive aspect of Gevurah in terms of “having the end in mind,” is seen in this exchange:
Another aspect of Gevurah is that it is also called ‘power’ in the form of restraint. One example is having the strength to withstand temptation and stay on track, in order to “keep the end in mind” (Habit 2).
Letting the Cat out of the Bag
The greatest example of Gevurah is the Matrix itself. As we discuss in our Knowledge Base articles, this reflects having the ‘end’ in mind. The purpose of the Matrix (at a deeper level) is to conceal reality until humanity learns to behave in a less egotistical and materialistic way. The goal is to restore the ‘wholeness’ to reality. It may be shocking to think that the Matrix is ‘good’ for humans, but ultimately this is the case. (See Habit 6/Yesod below.)
The Chesed-Gevurah Connection
The balance between Chesed and Gevurah (Habits 1 & 2) is central to how we function. Whereas the higher ‘intellects’ always act with Binah following Chokmah (the Oracle acts after the Architect), Chesed and Gevurah work in a parallel manner. We simultaneously apply levels of expansion-contraction, kindness-judgment, etc., to situations we encounter.
This creates the aspect of ‘choice’ that is critical to and discussed throughout the Matrix movies. Like Habits 1 and 2, Chesed and Gevurah simultaneously act towards the same goal.
An example of this is when Neo proactively (Habit 1) engages Smith with no regard for himself, at the end of The Matrix Revolutions. He does this in order for everything to be taken over by Smith so that the connection Neo will acquire to the Source will impact everything in the Matrix (the end that Neo has in mind – Habit 2).
Habit 3: Put First Things First
Habit 3 is about taking the initiative of Habit 1 and going after the goals established in Habit 2, while executing priorities. In order to stay focused we need to act according to our values rather than our desires or impulses at any given moment – we learn to work on what is most important, not what is most urgent.
Emanation (Tiferet/Beauty in Harmony)
Tiferet is literally ‘beauty’ but in the sense of balance or equilibrium. Tiferet takes the ‘niceness’ of Chesed which is interested in only giving, and the judgmental aspect of Gevurah, which is opposed to that, and creates a synthesis of the two. Tiferet takes the steps toward the greater goal, acting in line with Habit 3, “put first things first.”
One other way to think of this is the dialectical stages of development:
Thesis > Antithesis > Synthesis
Neither Chesed or Gevurah is by itself a valid approach. Only the balance of the two found in Tiferet is. Thus, Tiferet is connected to the idea of “truth.” It is the central sefirah on the Tree of Life diagram that pulls us toward the ultimate truth – that we are here in this world of concealment, our own ‘Matrix,’ for a purpose, and not to act in a self-serving way. (See the end of this post regarding, ‘purpose.’)
In the Matrix
Covey taught that the first Habit was like a ‘programmer’ (proactively creating) and the second Habit like the ‘program’ (the rules/restrictions of the code). The third Habit is the execution of the program.
Programmer > Program > Executing the Program
In terms of Neo’s path, Habit 3 is where he executes his role as the One in accordance with his first ‘mission.’ The end of the first Matrix movie may be seen as him fully reaching his independence from the Matrix.
As Trinity phrased it to him:
“… the Matrix cannot tell you who you are.”
The more Neo employs Habit 1 in his proactively pursuing the path of the One, and the more he focuses on his end goal (Habit 2), based on what he learns of the “rules of the Matrix,” the better he becomes at prioritizing and “putting first things first” (Habit 3) toward his ultimate goal.
Beginning with the Matrix Reloaded, his relationship with others will become more complex, reflecting the next set of Habits and attributes, which are about interacting with others.
7 Habits: Interdependence
The next group of three Habits relates to our connecting with other humans. This corresponds to the kabbalistic model, where, of the six ‘masculine’ sefirot, the first three (Chesed, Gevurah, Tiferet) are our ideas that relate ‘back’ to the three higher ‘intellects’ (Keter, Chokhmah, Binah). while also connecting ‘downward’ into this next triad of Netzach, Hod and Yesod.
This latter group is where the ideas are put into action. They are the “means to an end.” This is a different purpose than the more abstract concepts of the three prior Habits/emanations.
Also, just as Chesed and Gevurah “work together” and Tiferet is their balance, we find similar concepts with Netzach and Hod, and their ‘center’ – Yesod.
4. Think Win-Win
Habit 4 … is the first step in establishing effective relationships. Creating Win-Win situations are mutually beneficial and satisfying. In order to achieve Win-Win, we have to keep the focus on results, not methods; on problems, not people. The two primary factors when working toward Win-Win are consideration and courage.
With the 4th Habit and emanation of Netzach, we find ourselves back on the proactive right side of the Tree of Life diagram. Netzach reflects Chesed above it, but in a more “hands-on” way, in relation to the world we live in. Netzach is the “spark” that initiates action.
A healthy Netzach is what gets us out of bed in the morning (when we really want to sleep in). It also gives us the ‘nerve’ to start a conversation with a stranger or try something for the first time. The more we foster its development, the easier it is to employ the Win-Win Habit, and the greater our influence and success will be.
Netzach and Hod are compared to our two legs in that we need to use them ‘together’ to move forward correctly. For example, someone whose Netzach attribute is not balanced by Hod, could have “boundary issues” with others.
In the Matrix
Both do this even though they don’t fully understand what that result will be. (Reflective of Chesed above.) They just know to help Neo is to help themselves and others – the Win-Win Habit.
Councillor Hamann: I have absolutely no idea how you are able to do some of the things you do, but I believe there’s a reason for that as well.
Rama Kandra: Then perhaps the reason you’re here is not so different from the reason I’m here.
One thing shared by Hamann and Rama Kandra, is their selflessness. Each of them is interested in a positive end result for others.
The attributes on the right side, Chesed and Netzach, more naturally gravitate toward the center path of truth.
Those on the left, Gevurah and Hod. due to their ‘restrictive’ nature, are more prone to separation/isolation, as we see with characters like Smith, the Merovingian, Commander Lock and Cypher.
This is not saying the attributes on the left are ‘evil’ as all the emanations are ‘neutral.’ In fact, they are necessary for progress, as explained already.
As mentioned, someone with a strong Netzach, not kept in check by Hod, could be a little too assertive at times. This would be the character of ‘Kid‘ in the Matrix Revolutions, who slightly gets on everyone’s nerves. At the end of the movie however, he manages to elevate his corresponding attribute of Hod, comes to the right response, and “saves the day.”
5. Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood
Habit 5… “You’ve spent years of your life learning how to read and write, learning how to speak. But what about listening? Before we can offer advice, suggest solutions, or effectively interact with another person in any way, we must seek to deeply understand them and their perspective through empathic listening.
One of the more interesting interpretations of the term ‘Hod’ is ‘reverberation’ – the idea of a sound or impulse being received then reflected back. Like when we “bounce an idea off of others” in order to get a response.
Just as Netzach reflects Chesed above it, so too does Hod exhibit the ‘judgmental’ aspect of Gevurah on the same left side of the Tree of Life. In this case, Hod can function in a problem-solving or empathic way. Understanding and sharing the perspective or feelings of others, requires the ability to analyze a situation and formulate a proper response.
This quote perfectly sums up how a healthy attribute of Hod functions:
“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
In the Matrix
If you watch the movies closely, you will find that Hod is a positive trait found among the “good guys.” We see this in their ability to understand others through empathic listening. Same as in real life.
Conversely, a defect in Hod can cause problems with a person’s decision-making. As with Gevurah above it, if this attribute becomes detached from the central path of truth (i.e., Tiferet) it will become ego-centric.
The Netzach-Hod Connection
Netzach and Hod are called the “Wings of Yesod,” for much the same reason we can introduce synergy to a given situation or environment by starting with habits 4 and 5.
Habit 6 carries with it the related ideas of synergy and connection. As with the 3rd Habit (Put First Things First) Synergize! is also connected to its two predecessors. We introduce synergy to a given situation or environment by thinking Win-Win (Habit 4) and Seeking First to Understand (Habit 6). Once you do this, you can pool your desires with those of the other person or group. Then you’re not on opposite sides of the problem — you’re together on one side, looking at the problem, understanding all the needs, and working to create a third alternative that will meet them.
The combination of all the other habits prepares us for Habit 6. Synergize! is more than putting everything into a blender. Everything comes together with the purpose of connection and transformation.
Yesod means ‘foundation,’ which carries a number of profound ideas. One of these is a “divine pillar,” the “connection between heaven and earth,” anchoring the world to its spiritual source.
The “righteous person” (tzaddik) who strives to help regarding this is him/her self called ‘foundation.’
The Righteous one is the foundation of the World.
This works in “both directions” regarding our desires and actions and the “response from heaven.”
A term associated with Yesod in kabbalistic writings is ‘shalom.’ Though traditionally interpreted as ‘peace,’ the essence of the word has to do with wholeness – one created by the synergy and connection of Yesod.
There is one verse from the Bible where all seven emanations are mentioned in sequence. Yesod is referred to by the phrase, “all that is in the heavens and on the earth,” in that it makes the connection between them:
Yours, O Lord, are the greatness, and the might, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and on the earth is; Yours is the kingdom.
1 Chronicles 29:11
In the Matrix
As we discussed in our character profile on Morpheus, he functions in the role of Yesod in terms of connecting those in the Matrix to the true reality outside of it. This is the aspect of uniting ‘heaven’ (the world outside of the Matrix) and earth (the Matrix world of concealment).
Morpheus not only assists with getting people out of the Matrix, he also helps them understand the path before them. It is up to the individual to “walk the path,” which brings us to the 7th Habit and emanation.
Regarding the idea of shalom/wholeness, let’s not forget that a return of the ‘wholeness’ of the human and machine worlds was the desire and goal of “the One.”
Deus Ex Machina: What do you want?
We may say that it was the recognition of Neo’s selfless desire that ’caused’ the Machine World to enable Neo to do what he did, setting the stage for the final process of redemption, coming in Matrix 4.
This reflects back to the idea of the Matrix being for the benefit of the humans, as mentioned earlier. Taking this further, in the Biblical narrative, Adam and Eve lived in an environment of wholeness before they caused a ‘separation’ by taking from a certain tree. They were then expelled, into our present world of physicality, (our own Matrix) and instructed to “get to work,” which was really getting to work on repairing themselves. (Taking us back to the Oracle’s sign in her apartment, as mentioned.)
7. Sharpen the Saw
Habit 7 is one of continual improvement, implementing ways to ‘work on’ the first six into our day-to-day existence. This is consistent with the receptive and earthly aspect of Malkhut, which is considered ‘passive’ in that it has no particular independent substance. Because of this, it is able to receive everything from above it. (i.e., Habits 1 through 6.)
Habit 7 encompasses all of the other habits. It’s about taking the six previous Habits and repairing/improving all four aspects of our existence — physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual. The ‘tricky’ part is that ‘everything’ is in play here – including the things that are in opposition to each other. By continually “sharpening the saw” we enable all of these Habits/attributes to manifest and work together constructively. We continually refine them toward the singular purpose of self-awareness in terms of us being “created in the Image of God.” This becomes our ‘purpose’ in life.
As with the 7th Habit, the sefirah of Malkhut is where everything ‘meets’ – physically, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually. (The four worlds of ‘existence.’) This includes things “that are in opposition to each other” as mentioned above.
Although it is ‘passive’ in this sense, Malkhut is associated with the world of ‘action.’ It is here where we have to “walk the path” and not just talk it – through acts of kindness, meditation and study.
Malkhut is defined as:
God’s actions and attributes, not as expressed by God, but rather as human beings express them.
This is why it is said the Kingdom (Malkhut) of God is “within you.” It is the goal. All of the other sefirot are only the means to see this emerge.
In the Matrix
The aspect of “sharpening the saw” was mostly relegated to Neo “walking the path,” in the first three movies.
As mentioned in our “Matrix 4” articles in the Knowledge Base, the next movie will involve an “arousal from below,” from a far greater number of humans still in the Matrix – “the world of concealment.”
Neo, is in a sense, their ‘example,’ to follow.
By connecting to the Source and giving up his life, (the ultimate expression of selflessness and love), he created a path for everyone.
The relates back to something the Architect said to him and what made him unique:
It is interesting, reading your reactions. Your 5 predecessors were, by design, based on a similar predication – a contingent affirmation that was meant to create a profound attachment to the rest of your species, facilitating the function of the One. While the others experienced this in a very general way, your experience is far more specific – vis a vis love.
As mentioned, the sefirot are the means for us to make repair. When humanity reaches such a state, they will not be needed. The same goes for the Matrix. It’s destruction will come when we see the “arousal from below” (see link above) by more than just a small minority of the population.
A Final Matrix Connection
It is another interesting ‘coincidence,’ that in The Matrix Reloaded, Smith describes ‘purpose’ in seven ways. Though not in exact order, these can be seen as relating to aspects of the seven lower emanations and Covey’s “7 Habits.”
Smith 1: There’s no escaping reason, no denying purpose – because as we both know, without purpose, we would not exist.
Smith 2: It is purpose that created us (Chesed, Habit 1)
Smith 3: Purpose that connects us (Yesod, Habit 6)
Smith 4: Purpose that pulls us (Tiferet, Habit 3)
Smith 5: That guides us (Hod, Habit 5)
Smith 6: That drives us (Netzach, Habit 4)
Smith 7: It is purpose that defines (Gevurah, Habit 2)
Smith 8: Purpose that binds us (Malkhut, Habit 7)
As Smith said, he, like Neo, “wants everything.” Though Smith has this insight, it is ultimately his ‘opposite,’ Neo, who attains this.
This brings us back to an overarching principle from the 7 Habits author:
“There are three constants in life – change, choice and principles.”
Agent Smith was not “principle-centered.” Without principles, ‘purpose’ revolves around ego and self-centeredness.
His only comment then was:
” Oh, no, no, no. No, it’s not fair.”
We highly recommend The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People for anyone studying kabbalah, Matrix fans, and for those looking to become better humans.
(NOTE: We have a coffee mug with the top of the page image on it in our Matrix4Humans store!)