The following transcription is from an audio lecture on Gnostic Meditation, a course originally delivered live at the Gnostic Academy of Chicago.
To aid us in our discipline, we're going to explore a very important teaching to Buddhism, particularly Tibetan Buddhism, known as the nine stages of meditative concentration. Specifically, when we address concentration, we do so with a purpose of understanding where we are. We study the following diagram, which is a very famous mural that we find in pretty much every Tibetan Buddhist monastery in the world, in order to understand where we are in our practice.
The purpose of this lecture is to understand where we are: what is our level of being? What is our capability? Our ability when we sit to concentrate, close our eyes, and really reflect inside?
This teaching, pertaining to Buddhism, was taught by Samael Aun Weor in a very synthetic manner. He never explicitly detailed the nine degrees of calm abiding, or the nine steps leading to calm abiding―to have a serene mind―instead, he expected his students to really study and meditate on the teachings, and to work to comprehend this methodology in practice.
He also spoke, in a very synthetic manner, about these nine stages, emphasized in this image, which we are going to explain in detail. This image explains how, from the beginning of concentration, the mind is disturbed and wild. Then, through gradual training, our practice eventually leads us towards a mind that is completely serene, a mind that is completely still. So, to help us to really understand where we are, and how to effectively concentrate, this map will lead us towards the real gateway to meditation.
Everything that we do in these studies, pertaining to runes, mantra, pranayama, transmutation, sacred rites... these in themselves are means to develop concentration. When we sit to practice, we do these preliminary exercises to help us to focus our mind, which is really the beginning of actual meditation; it is not meditation itself.
My purpose in elaborating on what this diagram means, in relation to what Samael Aun Weor taught, is to help us be sincere and to examine the nature of our mind and what we need to do to develop concentration.
Previously, we were discussing the eightfold steps of Patanjali's yoga sutras, who wrote one of the key scriptures of yoga. When we talk about yoga, we do not refer to the physical calisthenics of the body: Hatha yoga. We are talking about "yug," from the Sanskrit, meaning union with Divinity; or "religare" in Latin, religion.
Patanjali taught that there are eight steps, which ties into the eightfold path of Buddhism. We have Yama / Niyama. Yama is restraint of mind from harmful action; Niyama is the precepts, developing real ethical discipline, purity of mind. Yama / Niyama are formed by things like Saucha (clarity), Santosha (contentment), Satya (truthfulness), Aparigraha (renunciation of worldly desires). In other words, these are the ten commandments, anything that we use as a discipline to train our mind: Yama / Niyama, to do or not to do. This is followed by Asana, which is our posture in our body. This is followed by Pranayama, transmutation, mantra, sexual energy, runes―any exercise that we use to work with the vital forces in our mind, in our body. That leads to Pratyahara, meaning, silence of mind, or suspension of the senses. This leads into Dharana, which is concentration, which is what we're going to be explaining, in detail.
Previously, in our lectures, we were talking about these preliminary steps: ethical discipline, the need to train our mind, to fulfill the vows of yoga, of religion, of discipline. As well as how to relax our body, in order to fully concentrate. We are discussing the preliminaries that lead to the actualization of learning how to focus the mind.
Samael Aun Weor taught that, when we sit to practice, we must stop thinking. This is the beginning, to learn how to concentrate. If we sit down and we examine our mind, and we see that we are thinking all the time, it means that we still have not yet developed Pratyahara, serenity of mind, suspension of the senses. Typically, the impressions of life enter our psyche, and our mind becomes disturbed as a result of not transforming those elements as they enter our mind. For example, we see a provocative image on a billboard, or on television; it strikes the mind; it offends the senses; the mind becomes identified, agitated; it becomes stimulated. We need to really refrain from these types of activities―which I will be elaborating on―as a requisite to developing concentration.
We find that our mind is over stimulated with all these impressions: they enter the mind; the mind is not still; we don't know how to transform the experience of life, as it happens in an instant. Without this understanding of mindfulness, and of fulfilling the basic vows―chastity (Brahmacharya in Sanskrit), sexual purity―the mind becomes overwhelmed, agitated; we cannot sit still.
This is represented by this image. We find here a monk who is chasing after an elephant. That elephant is our mind. The fact that is dark in the very bottom of the image refers to the dullness of our mind, the laxity of our mental states, the lethargy of our consciousness. This monk is chasing after this elephant. You see, gradually, this elephant becomes subdued, and it becomes white, purified, as a result of mind training, the nine degrees that we are going to explicitly detail.
This is precisely the path that we need to take, to realize that our mind, in the beginning, is―in this instant―very chaotic very wild. There is no control or dominance over the mind typically, in the beginning. This path that winds up towards the mountains of the superior worlds is precisely the path of Dorothy, the Wizard of Oz, the winding golden path of Jnana Yoga, which is knowledge yoga, mind yoga.
It is precisely these higher states where the elephant is tamed and subdued, in which we are free of the mind, and the mind fully obeys our will. We see an image of a monk flying in the astral plane, or in even higher dimensions, Tiphereth, etc., symbolized by the mountains of initiation. For, if we awaken in the internal planes, divinity can show you mountains. A mountain pertains to walking the path of initiation itself.
We want to calm our mind, to develop serene mind, which, as we find that these waters from the mountains descend, the waters of the pure energy of divinity. These waters become turbulent, as they descend toward Malkuth, the physical world, which is represented by this monk leaving a pagoda of three steps. This pagoda is really the body, Malkuth, represented by three floors, which are our three brains: our intellect, our emotions, and our motor-instinctual-sexual dynamics.
The waters are turbulent because the waters of our mind are chaotic. We receive impressions in life; we go through our day with our work, with our daily occupations, or with watching televisions; we receive impressions that enter the mind and are not transformed, that are disturbed. Therefore, the mind, the elephant, has no control.
We must understand this fact, and really be honest. When we sit to reflect, what is the state of our mind? If we want to really enter the path of what meditation actually is, we need to develop concentration first.
"When you lack the elements of serenity,
Even if you meditate assiduously,
You will not achieve concentration
Even in thousands of years."
―Atisha’s Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment
This is the core scripture that Tsong Khapa, a great reincarnation of Buddha, taught in his Lim Rim Chenmo, a Tibetan Buddhist doctrine.
We will explain more specifically each step of this image, in detail.
We really must understand what it means to concentrate, if we are going to practice. So, I'd like to quote from you a teaching from Pabongka Rinpoche from Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand, where, in a very stark and explicit manner, he explains precisely and honestly, a maxim that we really need to contemplate, and to realize: are we actually practicing when we sit down? Are we really focused on what we're doing? No practice will have benefit―pranayama, mantra, runes―if we don't understand the nature of concentration itself.
"Though you may pretend you are doing a practice, you are not practicing at all if you do not know what is required to achieve single pointed concentration." ―Pabongka Rinpoche from Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand
In terms of the nine degrees, this is the eighth. It is the second highest rung of actual concentration itself.
"You must definitely achieve single pointed concentration with two features: great clarity together with some stability, and tight image retention." —Pabongka Rinpoche, Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand
So the purpose of developing serenity is that when the mind is perfectly still, we can then begin to meditate and reflect the images from the superior worlds. When we're fully relaxed, the mind is completely still, there are no thoughts, no distractions; we have finally reached the highest degree of concertation, meditative equipoise; then imagery can reflect from our Being, from the internal worlds, into our mind, in our clairvoyance, into the lake of our perception. And, when it is still, it can reflect the superior worlds, and we will explain more about what one needs to do when in that state, in detail.
We need great clarity. If we sit and examine our mind, what do we see, and what do we not see? That is the question. If we don't see anything, if we just experience the sensations or memories of the day, from the events of our life, if they are just surging in our mind, without any order, without any clarity, it means that the mind is very dull; it means that we really need to work very hard to develop that clarity, which is born from acquiring more stability.
This is, of course, achieved through self-observation, as we always teach. But, more importantly, mindfulness, as we will elaborate on.
When the mind is serene, meditation is easy; images come of their accord. We talk a lot about imaginative, inspirational and intuitive knowledge. Imagination is when we receive images inside. Inspiration is when we feel the soul's reaction or response of an emotional, superior nature, towards that image; we know that it is a symbol that comes from our Being; we are inspired. Intuition is direct cognition, understanding the nature of that symbol. But, imagination, inspiration and intuition, which we will explain next, come as a result of serene mind; if the mind is completely still. If it is not, we cannot develop insight.
In Buddhism, we talk a lot about two terms: vipassana (special insight) and shamatha (serenity).
Samael Aun Weor explained this very beautifully as imagination and willpower. Imagination is the power to perceive. If the mind is chaotic, if we are not transforming impressions in the moment in which we receive them, we lack that tight image retention, that clarity of mind.
First, we develop, through willpower, control of the mind, as the Master Samael Aun Weor explains in Igneous Rose: that we must dominate the mind with the terrible whip of willpower. So, we need effort, especially in the beginning, to control the mind. But, in the higher degrees of concentration, there is no effort. But, as Master Samael also explained and emphasized, Tsong Khapa says:
"Nowhere does it say anything else but this: if you hope to develop insight (vipassana: comprehension), the training of wisdom, you must find quietude (shamatha / dhyana), that of concentration." —Tsong Khapa
So, if we want insight into the ego, into our defects, we must develop that stability. If we lack that, then there is no wisdom; wisdom meaning: "the power to perceive."
The teachings that we're presenting here come from Tsong Khapa's text, the Lim Rim Chenmo, known as, The Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment. This is one of the core texts of Tibetan Buddhism and is very useful to study.
I know that when the Dalai Lama was fleeing Tibet from the Chinese, he made a special case to take with him his text of the Lim Rim Chenmo, before he escaped from Tibet into India.
Prerequisites for Developing Genuine Concentration
This text explains the physical requisites, and the psychological training we need to acquire that stability, if what we want is insight. I invite you to really reflect on the nature of these statements, very deeply:
Dwelling in an Appropriate Area
We cannot meditate if our home is chaotic or cluttered, or if we live with other people who are noisy, who are distracting, especially in the beginning, when we need a sense of quietude, to really focus. To not meditate in a place that is filthy or disorganized. It should be some place that, when we come to sit to practice, we have inspiration to really sit and to relax. Also, if we live in a warzone, we can't meditate; an adept can meditate in any circumstance.
Living in an appropriate area means that we need to leave in a place that there is peace, that there is no threat of our life being in danger. The fact that living here, in this city, in a relatively safe environment, we are fortunate. There are people across the world who cannot even fulfill this requisite, even if they want to meditate. We get this on our forum, people who are writing about this problem.
An appropriate area must be clean, peaceful. It doesn't need to be a temple in our own home, but what matters is that we have a space dedicated to practice. It can be simple: an altar, white tablecloth, candle, religious image; or no altar. What matters is that our environment inspires us, and gives us the capacity to really practice.
Having Little Desire
This is something that, honestly, most of us don't have. We usually have a lot of desires in our mind that are constantly conflicting, pushing us to do other things other than meditate or practice preliminary concentration exercises; defects which emerge and say, "I want to ride my bike, watch television, take care of this or that responsibility, etc." The mind is surging with this torrent of forces and energies which we have previously put into motion, which formulate into our egos. This is represented by that water in that first image, = descending in torrents from the mountains, into Malkuth, towards the monk in that image. The waters above are very pure, but when these energies of God enter us, into our mind, they become transformed and blackened by desire.
So, we need to have little desire, meaning: curtail our appetite, such as overstimulating foods or elements which may impede us from practicing well.
The term for this, in Sanskrit, is Santosha. In Patanjali's yoga sutras, Santosha means being grateful for what we have, and not craving things that we do not have. Craving gnaws at the mind and produces the inability to sit still.
Completely Giving Up Many Activities
Meaning, give up fruitless activities, things that are just useless. We all have our habits that we do that push us to do, honestly, dumb things. I am no exception. For instance, Swami Sivananda said, you should give up reading novels, especially things that are just useless―magazines, journal articles, things which do not promote anything in relation to our spirituality. Really, we must abandon that. Typically, in a monastic life, initiates would meditate six hours a day, and study six hours a day. But they would study scriptures that are important, whether in Tibetan Buddhism, the Bardo Thodol, The Tibetan Book of the Dead; in India, the Bhagavad Gita; or the Muslim initiates in the past, with the Qur'an... studying scriptures that matter.
We must abandon useless things, such as watching tv shows, things that fill the mind with garbage. A lot of shows are based on sarcasm and abuse of the mind, or movies that are violent or things that offend the senses.
Pure Ethical Discipline
This is probably one of the most important: examining our ethics. In a given day, have we lied to someone? This doesn't mean that we said something, but, internally, in our mind, we may have had the thought.
Ethics begins with restraining (Yama) the mind, the senses, from not physically verbalizing, expressing our ego or defects. Niyama pertains to training the mind, deeper, to not have that reaction inside. This is the internal silence that Samael Aun Weor talks about in Revolutionary Psychology.
Our ethics must be very pure. We have to examine where in the day we transgressed, in our mind, in our hearts.
Completely Getting Rid of Thoughts of Desire
If we have been studying this teaching, and practicing for a long time, this is really the most difficult. Not thinking evil, but even if we have the thought that we don't want to do this, the mind continues to churn and to gestate with these elements.
So, if we really want to develop meditative serenity, we must abandon all of that. To not think, to not conceptualize, for as Samael Aun Weor stated, in Igneous Rose, in the chapter "Esoteric Discipline of the Mind":
"It is necessary to change the process of reasoning for the beauty of comprehension..." ―Samael Aun Weor, Igneous Rose
Most of the time in the day, we are thinking, and we do not comprehend where our thoughts come from, where they go, what they are doing, how they arise, why they arise. If we are not comprehending those processes in ourselves, in the instant that they happen, we are asleep.
This means that we are churning in the mind in the battle of the opposites. He often talks, such as in The Magic of the Runes, the sensation of contemplation. We must comprehend what arises in us in an instant.
"Those who want to enter into the wisdom of the fire must overcome the process of reasoning and cultivate the ardent faculties of the mind.
"We must only extract the golden fruit from reasoning. The golden fruit of reasoning is comprehension. Comprehension and imagination must replace reasoning." —Samael Aun Weor, Igneous Rose, "Esoteric Discipline of the Mind"
Comprehension emerges when the mind is still; this is serenity in Buddhism, shamatha. Imagination is the capacity to perceive, vipassana. So, in his terms, he is explaining the same concept that Tsong Khapa taught.
If we do not comprehend the mind in the instant, we can't perceive. Comprehension is the understanding of something without the need to think about it. Master Samael said that to reason is great crime against the Innermost, because God does think. In our everyday affairs, we need to learn to resolve our issues without the ego involved. The ego thinks, puts thoughts into our minds, impulses in our body to act, but comprehension is when we know how to act without thinking. This is the demarcation between an angel and a demon, precisely.
So, as we learn how to act without thinking, that is how we enter the path of concentration.
I want to emphasize something that Samael Aun Weor stated, which is something that, typically, many students and instructors tend to ignore:
"1. The Gnostic must first attain the ability to stop the course of his thoughts, the capacity to not think. Indeed, only the one who achieves that capacity will hear the Voice of the Silence." —Samael Aun Weor, The Perfect Matrimony
When we sit, we should not think. But, if we are thinking, distracted, we are not even able to enter concentration. That is the important point.
Usually, we will attempt to practice with the mind churning, distraught, agitated. But, in order to really receive that insight—which is the voice of the silence, the direct action of your Being within your psyche, the impulse of your Innermost, divinity within you—you can't let your mind interfere. This is a type of experience in which you do not think, you know. God knows without thinking, God does not rationalize.
We have here in this image the Buddha, with one hand up and one hand down. This is referring to the need to receive—usually, with the left hand we receive the forces of divinity, and the right hand expresses action. The left refers to the left hand of the body, the lunar receptive nature of ourselves; the right is action. The root word bud, in the word Buddha, means cognizance, awareness, which knows how to receive and knows how to act. But this is not an intellectual process. This is an intuitive process. We must learn how to act from our Being without thinking about it. Usually, the Being gives us a hunch, an insight, and we feel that inclination that comes from somewhere, but we don't know where usually, when we know in our hearts whether an action is right or wrong, and yet, the mind then conceptualizes: "Well, I should do this, because I have this reason," and then the intellect is debating against what we know is right in our heart.
Insight is lightning: you know it's wrong. But, then the mind says, "Well..." and starts to debate. So, the lightning emerges, but the thunder of the mind comes after. This is the demarcation. We can only develop that as we learn to not think. This does not mean that we become stupid, that we don't know how to do our daily obligations and affairs: it means that we do so consciously. We use the intellectual brain under the influence of our Inner God.
So, the first step is, don't think; and then, learn to concentrate.
"2. When the Gnostic disciple attains the capacity to not think, then he must learn to concentrate his thoughts on only one thing." —Samael Aun Weor, The Perfect Matrimony
That is when real concentration comes into play. We need a certain degree of serenity of mind to really concentrate.
It's important to understand that learning not to think is not the same as mindlessness, or inattention. We need to learn to use our personality, according to the will of our God. We need personality to subsist in this society. We need to be trained, to have vocation, to have certain intellectual knowledge. But, this does not mean that we let our defects use that knowledge in a subjective or harmful way. Instead, we let the Being use that insight to direct our course.
Our daily life is our practice: that is what we really need to analyze and understand. If we sit to meditate for an hour, yet all day, the other 23 hours, we are daydreaming, arguing, fighting, debating, having conflicts―that is a lot of energy that is going contrary to our practice. This is why Samael Aun Weor said that these activities have to saturate every instant of our life. So, our practice is at work, with an intellectual job, or working with other people in a very tough environment.
Our spiritual practice is when we relate to other human beings. Every instant is our spiritual work. If we have the concept that our practices only exist when we sit in our home, isolated from our experience, then we will get nowhere. But, if we let our life be our training ground, in developing genuine concentration, then our understanding will be very robust.
So, we develop that capacity to not think, Pratyahara, which leads to Dharana (concentration)—focusing only on one thing.
"3. The third step is correct meditation. This brings the first flashes of the new consciousness into the mind." —Samael Aun Weor, The Perfect Matrimony
Real meditation is when you receive information in a new way, when you understand something spontaneously... no thinking involved. Your insight can come as a concept in the mind, but it is not egotistical. The way to differentiate between the superior messages of the Being from the subjective notions of our ego requires developing a lot of clarity, which is why the Master Samael says that we must learn to carefully separate the smoke from the flames. Flames are insight, the Being, the virtues; the smoke is our mind. We must learn how to sift through that in every instant, if what we want is to really develop the capacity to concentrate.
Then, when we can focus on one element at a time, without being distracted from our purpose, that is when we receive new insight: that is when we are meditating.
"4. The fourth step is contemplation, ecstasy or Samadhi. This is the state of Turiya (perfect clairvoyance)." —Samael Aun Weor, The Perfect Matrimony
This is perception without any filter. It is supra-conscious, no ego involved. We can this experience in our daily life; we don't need to have an experience out of the body, an astral projection, to experience the supra-conscious nature of the Being.
This is perception that is beyond the mind.
Swami Sivananda states that one cannot have any experiences without the Kundalini awakened. Now, this does not mean that the Kundalini has to be fully awakened through sexual magic, but you can awaken sparks through runes, through transmutation... and, that energy in motion, which we need, will awaken the consciousness to have that experience. So, we need that force. We cannot do it without the Divine Mother.
The Five Flaws to Concentration
Now, to explain the flaws in relation to our concentration, when we sit to practice, I am going to emphasize a teaching from Buddha Maitreya.
Maitreya is a title, but it was given to a certain Master in the past, who gave this teaching of the nature of concentration in his Separation of the Middle from the Extremes.
So, we are going to explain a little what the common flaws in what learning to concentrate are, so that we can examine our practice.
The mind being dull, which is for most people a common problem.
2. Forgetting the Object (of Concentration)
We sit to practice, we forget what we're doing. 20-30 minutes go by, and we don't remember anything. We sit, and we wonder to ourselves what we were doing. We forget what we're focusing on.
3. Excitement and Laxity (of the Mind)
This is the mind that is agitated, with either negative emotions, or laxity, meaning that the mind is dull or that there are certain egotistical elements that are influencing our perception, making it dull, as it relates to laziness.
4. Failing to Apply the Antidotes When Excitement or Laxity Arises
In Buddhist teaching, there are certain remedies that we use that Tsong Khapa explained. When we are concentrating, or if the mind becomes dull, there are certain things that we can focus our attention on, in order to remedy that thought, in the instant that it emerges. Likewise with excitement in the mind. Dullness, apathy, or agitation. The mind must be equilibrated. We will explain more about this.
5. Excessive Exertion
Meaning, when the mind has reached certain degrees of stability, it is pointless to exert effort. This is pertaining to the highest degrees of concentration, in which you don't need effort to attain it. All you need is familiarization with that state.
When we work with breath, pranayama, mantra, that can be an object of our concentration. Those energies, the vital forces, by awakening the sparks of the Kundalini, we can have insight. I am going to explain, precisely this point, in relation to this slide.
The Eight Antidotes to Flawed Concentration
There are eight antidotes to flawed concentration, that Tsong Khapa explains.
This is an image of Tsong Khapa in meditation, who Master Samael explained was the reincarnation of the Buddha. Floating in the clouds, he is meditating next to his disciples. Above him is the heavenly city of the Gods, the Buddhas, or, the Celestial Jerusalem of Revelations. Below are the waters. We see many flowers, many virtues of the Being. If you have an experience in the astral plane, where they show you flowers, they are showing the virtues of your Inner God, inside you. Beautiful flowers, roses, are representations of virtue, since the plant elementals have not left Eden yet; they transmute their creative energies.
We see roses, flowers, immaculate clouds, and the waters. This realization appears as a result of working with our watesr, our seminal force, our sexual energy. And so, one of the best methods to countering laziness, when we are trying to concentrate, is to transmute. Use your breath to mantralize, "Sssssssssssss," "IIIIINNNNRRRRIIII," or "IIIIIIIAAAAAAOOOOO." There are many mantras that we use to sublimate that energy.
Tsong Khapa explained that, to counter laziness, we need to develop faith, aspiration, effort and pliancy.
Faith is in relation, in Buddhist doctrine, to the understanding of the nature of mind; the certainty of the benefits of meditative stabilization. We must really comprehend the benefit of when the mind is really serene, and which we genuinely perceive, from a state of peace, what that state is like. If we don't taste that experience directly, there is no striving.
So, faith does not mean in the Christian sense of belief. In Buddhist doctrine, it is understanding of the genuine, pristine cognitive nature of mind, without flaws. We must have faith in this teaching and about the transformation of our mind, otherwise, we will not do it. The mind is lazy. We must really understand that benefits of having a stable mind, and to actually see it.
If the mind is chaotic, and we don't see what the benefit is of meditative stabilization, we won't strive and practice to achieve it.
Willpower pertains to the need to control the mind, through Tiphereth controlling Netzach. We use our will every time we do runes, pranayama, transmutation, sexual magic... To develop faith in effort in our practice―applying more effort to really concentrate, developing more pliancy in the mind, more stability in the body―we work with aspiration: to aspire. Through inspiration, we inhale the prana in the nostrils, then we bring that energy inward and upward, to aspire, bringing up to our mind, to illuminate it. That develops pliancy. In Buddhist terms, pliancy refers to the flexibility of the consciousness to perceive. This is the dynamic of seeing our mind, as it is, and all the structures of the ego that resist and opposes our effort, because, when we direct our attention towards it, the ego fights back, to not be seen.
In The Revolution of the Dialectic, this is known as structural and transactional analysis. We must see the structure of the ego, when they emerge in the mind. Transactions―such as in a bank, depositing cheques, moneys, accounts, etc.―refers to the movement in the mind. Pliancy pertains to understanding those structures in our mind, as they appear and emerge, and how we're flexible in our perception. We're not distracted, like we're practicing martial arts; we have stability in our body, and we're calmly fighting an enemy, with composure. This is pliancy.
Effort pertains to having strength in our will, which is pertaining to our consciousness, conscious will.
Some benefits I personally have experienced with effort is, listening to a really powerful piece of classical music. For instance, I listened to Mars, by Gustav Holst, who is a gnostic master. He is explaining the effort the we need as a consciousness to fight against degeneration of the mind. This is the power of Samael, the angel of war, but, also our Being, our Innermost relates to Mars, strength. Our Being can inspire us―when we understand the message―to really make efforts to concentrate.
For forgetfulness, if we are forgetting that we are practicing, we need to develop more mindfulness throughout the day. Self-observation is perceiving ourselves in a given instant. Mindfulness is that self-observation throughout an entire day. So, if we keep forgetting that we are meditating or concentrating, we must really be vigilant in our day to day practice: our daily practice has to be our spiritual practice.
When we sit to meditate, and things emerge in the mind, and we become aware of them, then another element emerges saying, "I don't like that," this thought is still subjective. This is excitement of mind: seeing a thought that emerges, that is spontaneous; you don't know where it comes from; it disturbs you, then there is the reaction, "I don't want to see this, I don't want this." This is another ego in the mind. The solution is to develop vigilance. We need to perceive that element as it arises, otherwise, if it passes into the screen of our experience, enters our intellectual brain and has passed already, we have missed the moment. So, we must be in vigil, meaning, awake, not looking at other things, but examining the thought as it emerges. We will explain more about this.
Laxity is if the mind is dull, and we feel sleepy as a consciousness. We need greater clarity in our perception. If our internal sight is befuddled, where we have thoughts and memories and desires, but we don't really see their nature, we need vigilance, which is introspection, perception. We must develop our clarity, and the best way to develop vigilance is to exercise that muscle.
Transmutation is not enough. You can have energy, but, if we don't know how to harness that energy, then the ego takes it. We need force, but we need to have discipline: energy and will, in harmony.
The final antidote to inappropriate application of exertion or effort is equanimity. And, this really applies to the higher degrees to concentration, in which you do not need effort. To exert the mind is to disturb the mind, and you can lose the experience. So, when you have greater stillness pertaining to the eighth and ninth degrees of concentration, you don't need to exert any effort. It is effortless, pertaining to the ninth degree. You need some effort in the eighth degree, which we will explain.
Equanimity means to not need to apply anything, any antidote.
Plato’s Allegory of the Cave and the Four States of Consciousness
We have included some images of the diagram that we have been explaining. Some of you may be familiar with Plato's Allegory of the Cave. In book seven of his Republic, Master Plato explains the nature of the path to truth and understanding. This is synonymous with this map of the nine degrees or stages of concentration in Buddhism.
Likewise, we have Christ, who is ascended, representing any initiate who has fully mastered that state, such as the Tibetan yogi, who is flying in the clouds.
Those of you who are not familiar with The Republic, there is the myth, or Allegory of the Cave, pertaining to any initiate who is ascending from the subconsciousness towards supra-consciousness.
In this image, we have people, who should be depicted as being enchained by their necks, legs and hands, to a wall. Behind them is a fire that burns. These people see nothing but darkness, or, at most, they see people who are passing between the fire and the wall, carrying objects on their heads, pottery, clay, etc. These images project their shadows on the wall. These people who are enchained only see darkness, or they see shadows on the wall, and this is all they know.
So, to reiterate what these states are, we talk about four states of consciousness in the Gnostic doctrine. We have Eikasia, pertaining to sleep of a barbaric nature: complete unconsciousness, darkness. We look in our mind, we see nothing. We know there is thoughts and feelings and emotions, surges of desires, but we don't really see where they are coming from. This is the darkness mentioned in the Book of Genesis, "And darkness was over the face of the deep, and the Ruach Elohim (the Spirit of God) floated on those waters (to transform them.)"
The images on the wall are dreams, Pistis in Greek. Sleep with dreams pertains to the fact that we see images and how we experience life; we have ideas in our mind, concepts; we have thoughts, feelings and expectations, longings, but they are not objective. When we really examine their nature, they are devoid of any substantiality. That is Pistis: people's beliefs about religion, faith, mind, ideas, the way they interact with society.
But we see in this image that there is a superior way out of that. There is a person who is unchained, and who is forced to see the fire directly. That fire is the energy of Christ, and it pertains to the third state of consciousness known as Dianoia.
Dianoia means revision of beliefs, revision of Pistis. This is the perception of the mind without desire. Dianoia is when we are examining our mind, and we see that we are not the mind; we perceive the mind, that it is something distinct and separate from us, with thoughts, feelings, sensations. But we must be forced to experience that―meaning, divinity pushes us to really examine what the shadows on the wall are, which are our previous conceptions of our self: our ideas, culture, language, our pride, our faith, our hatred, our vanity. And so, this guru takes this initiate out of the cave. This winding path out of the cave is precisely this diagram that we see here.
In the Allegory of the Cave, the initiate is forced out of the cave, through a winding path, until finally reaching outdoors, experiencing the starry sky. For the first time, this person who has lived their entire life in the cave, sees the sun and the dawn, which is overwhelming. This is a representation of Nous: a high state of consciousness, super-consciousness. Nous pertains to perception of divinity, to perceive as God perceives. Our God is inside, so, when we unite as a soul with our inner divinity, the soul is one with divinity; it is integral to that. One experiences perception, life, from the perspective of the Being. That is the sun, the Solar Logos. Likewise, in this image, this monk is training to get out of the cave, going up this path, until finally reaching meditative serenity at this stage. And, when walking on this rainbow bridge, one is in Samadhi. Those who are familiar with Richard Wagner, his opera Das Rheingold, which we will watch, the gods tread on this path of the rainbow, to the city of the gods, Valhalla, the hall of the warrior who has defeated himself in battle.
The Nine Stages of Meditative Concentration
To explain how this Buddhist glyph pertains to the Allegory of the Cave, we will explain some of the symbols. The fact that this path is winding is the work of Dianoia; we are constantly having to revise our concepts of ourselves. When we observe our mind for what it is, we see that we are not who we thought we were. We must change our self-concept.
Master Samael explains that Dianoia pertains to cultural and intellectual synthesis, spiritual knowledge, revision of beliefs, direct perception of what is real. This is awakened consciousness. Dianoia is when we see ourselves differently from how we used to see ourselves, when we change our beliefs about who we were as a person. We cease to be what we were. But Dianoia, on this path of concentration, also pertains to intellectual knowledge of a superior type. So, when Master Samael explains that Dianoia is a cultural, intellectual, spiritual knowledge, this is not the intellectual knowledge of the ego, but a new type of understanding in our mental center, which is superior, abstract. This is a mind that can conceptualize superior concepts without struggling between the battle of opposites in the mind. This is what epiphany refers to, the spark of joy that the soul feels, the pliancy of the mind, in the Buddhist doctrine of the mind, which is free from distraction.
We have here this image of a monk chasing an elephant. That elephant is the mind. The fact that it is black in the beginning represents the dullness of our mind. We do not see anything; we don't understand what our mind is.
There is a fire here on this path; referring to the type of willpower we need to dominate the mind. The monk is chasing after this elephant, likewise, there is a monkey, following before the elephant. The monkey is a restless mind. The monkey is always grabbing things; the intellect, our desires, our emotions are always trying to satiate itself, with desire.
Notice that this fire gets smaller the further up the path that one goes. This is because the amount of effort or engagement one needs with the mind becomes lessened the more that the mind is controlled. In the beginning, it takes a tremendous effort to remember that we are practicing, that we are concentrating, and to not get distracted.
Likewise, the fact that the elephant starts to gain color, becomes white, means that there is gradual purification of the mind. There is greater insight, clarity. Likewise, the monk with the rope in his hand, represents mindfulness, and the hook, vigilance. He gets ahold of the elephant and is starting to turn it towards his direction, meaning, the mind is becoming subdued.
What is important to note, is as this process occurs, the elephant becomes purified of its dullness; the monkey is tamed, until the elephant is completely stabilized, and the meditator is fully in control of the mind, entering the superior worlds.
We also have, in this image, a silk cloth, representing the sense of touch; some fruit, representing taste; a perfumed conch, representing smell; cymbals representing hearing; and a mirror, representing sight. This is because it is through our five senses that we learn to develop concentration. It is not by running away from life, but by using your daily life to develop that concentration, that we make it rigorous. Until we reach the end, the rainbow path of Valhalla, towards the city of the gods, one can enter into higher degrees of calm abiding.
What I am going to explain now, are the nine stages of concentration, that lead to calm abiding. As the Dalai Lama explained, calm abiding pertains to what one attains after the ninth degree of concentration, which is represented by the monk flying in the air, and the monk with the sword, riding an elephant. That sword of fire is wisdom, also representing the Kundalini of any master; it is that energy that gives one the root cognizance of cutting through delusion. So, if you see images of Manjushri in Buddhism, that sword cuts through the distraction of the mind. In that image of Tsong Khapa―I didn't explain―but there is also a sword of fire, to his right. And, there was a book on the left, pertaining to the book of studying one’s life, directly, studying the methods that lead to that insight. So, study, method and wisdom; wisdom is the sword, method is the study. We need a combination of studying the steps of concentration, along with our practical work, the sword, if what we want is to develop that union.
In the image, we also see a bunny. The bunny represents laziness, a subtle form of laziness that appears in the mind when we think we know what we're doing, when we're trying to concentrate. I will explain this specific detail.
1. Mental Placement
The first degree is mental placement, which is the beginning of when we sit to practice and we can't remember that we're concentrating. We sit down, and we know that we should be practicing, but we don't know what we're doing. Before this, you could say is stage zero, which is a wild mind; meaning, there is no control whatsoever. This is the state of every human being on this planet. But, when we begin to start to concentrate, we're placing our mind on the practice, and we realize that we can't concentrate. The elephant is running around, but we notice this fact―that is the distinction here.
So, the monk is chasing after the elephant with a hook, representing vigilance, or wisdom, insight, and the rope, represents mindfulness, remembrance of divinity, moment-to-moment.
"The elephant of the mind, wandering wildly, is to be securely bound with the rope of mindfulness, to the pillar of the object of meditation, gradually to be tamed with the hook of wisdom." ―Bhavaviveka
Now, the object of our concentration can be a mantra, an image of a Buddha, an image of a master―I have personally meditated on an image of Master Samael, to invoke him. And, when my mind has been stable and clear, I sense him in my home, with me, and in many other places, when I put that image in my mind, I focus on that as an object of concentration, to receive his help. But, you can also meditate on the mind itself, which is a teaching of Dzogchen, or Mahamudra, the great seal or great perfection teachings of the Nyigma tradition of Tibetan Buddhist, in the Gelugpa; there are four schools of Tibetan Buddhism that we talk about.
So, we can meditate on the mind. Let your own mind be the object of concentration. Observe your mind―what is it like? Let that be your focus. You can develop great stability of concentration that way. Or, you can take a visualization of a stone, or pebble, or piece of art. If you are going to choose an artwork, I would suggest something simple in the beginning, nothing elaborate. Usually, to visualize all the details of an object, of a mandala, a sacred painting in Buddhism, or a painting of Christianity, to master the visualization of that image takes a lot of effort. So, I would recommend, in the beginning, start with something simple, and then, as your capacity to visualize and concentrate grows, expand that. Then, choose images that are more complicated. For instance, it comes to my mind, something that could be useful: which is that, when you are concentrating, if you have an experience in the internal planes, of an image, such as you speak with your Divine Mother, let that be your object of concentration. You sit to meditate, imagine your Divine Mother, as you saw her. That would be more personal to you; you'll have more investment in that practice, that way.
That is mental placement; we forget that we're meditating. We realize that we can't remember what we're doing. So, the type of engagement that we need, the type of effort that we need to really get in control of this element, of the mind, is tightly focused engagement. It takes a lot of effort to control the mind, to catch up to, to run after that elephant. Buddha Maitreya, who gave this teaching, he explained that there is certain antidotes to each stage. It is important to know what these antidotes are. This is not something intellectual; this is something very practical, to help you understand your own experience, your own practice.
He says that, for mental placement, you need to hear the teachings of mindfulness: to really hear them, study them, and apply them, if what we want is to understand what mental placement is. To even realize that the mind is out of control, we need to hear the teachings, in order to change that.
2. Continual Placement, or Fixation with Some Continuity
Notice that the elephant starts to get a little bit white, the monkey too. The dull mind and the restless mind have a slight purification. This is when we are concentrated; we have some flashes of insight, minor flashes. We tend to forget what we're doing, but we are gaining some insight through understanding what the object of concentration is. The monk still has to chase after the elephant, to gain control. There is more forgetfulness than there is remembrance. The flames represent the effort that we need, the type of willpower we need to gain control. So, at this level, the fire is still very intense. But it diminishes the further along one ascends the path.
3. Patched Placement
The monk has finally, with the rope of mindfulness, gained ahold of the elephant, and has turned the head towards him. This means that there are more periods of remembrance and control than there are forgetfulness. This is called patched placement, like putting patches on a cloth, to fix up holes. One is basically "patching" their awareness into the practice―there are still periods of forgetfulness, but there is more remembrance than there is forgetfulness. This is a big improvement. The monkey also becomes more purified, the elephant starts to become more tamed. This is the beginning of it becoming tamed. We remember that we are concentrating more than we are forgetting.
4. Close Placement, or Good Fixation
This is a period in our concentration in which we don't forget what we're doing. If we want to meditate on the ego, to annihilate the ego, we need to develop this. We need to reach at least stability in this degree: when we sit to practice and concentrate; we do not forget what we're doing. The problem with this stage is the rabbit on the elephant, which represents laziness. This means that, when we remember that we are practicing, there is a sentiment or influence of the mind that makes us feel that we know what we're doing. We remember that we are meditating, and there is an interference or distraction from the mind that is subtle, that convinces us that we're practicing effectively, when it is really a distraction. That is what the rabbit represents. Notice that the fire is again diminishing; meaning, the amount of effort we need is becoming less.
For the third and fourth degrees, patch-like placement and close placement, is developing more remembrance, mindfulness throughout the day. This means to self-observe and to remember our Being more and perceiving more.
5. Subduing, Taming, or Becoming Disciplined
At this point, one is dealing more with, rather than the fact that we don't forget what we're practicing, we're dealing with more subtle forms of distraction in the mind. We don't forget what we're doing, but still there is laxity or excitement in the mind, agitation or laziness in the mind in subtle levels, that we need to address. The solution to that―as we see the rabbit there, that is the symbol of laziness, that thinks we know what we're doing―is to develop insight. Specifically, in this stage, referring to awareness or introspection, as Buddha Maitreya teaches, we need to develop our clarity of perception more, insight.
What makes the fifth degree different from the fourth, is that at this point, instead of focusing on the object of concentration, we are focusing on how we perceive. In the beginning, mental placement, we are trying to remember that we're practicing. In the second, we have some brief flashes of insight into the object of concentration. At patch-like placement, we remember to concentrate more than we forget. The fourth degree, we don't forget the object of concentration―this is all about the object, up to this point. At the fifth degree, we are now focusing more on our perception: how do we perceive the object of concentration. We observe how we observe. In studies, we call it meta-cognition. The solution to this, is to develop more awareness for introspection. The difference between introspection and mindfulness has to do with the quality of our perception. Mindfulness is remembrance throughout the day, but introspection is that we're sharpening that, applying antidotes when we need to. When the mind is agitated or relaxed, we direct our attention to that, we turn to the object of concentration.
Also, you now notice that the monkey is becoming tame: it is following the elephant, and it is half purity, half dullness, in this image of the elephant.
6. Pacification or Becoming Peaceful
The mind is becoming very crisp. There is greater serenity of mind. One is still dealing with some subtle forms of laxity and excitement, which we must carefully address. At this point, what makes the sixth degree different from the fifth degree is that we must not over-apply the remedy to excitement; we don't want to heighten the mind more. We want it to become more pacified, more clear. By antidotes, we are referring to countering the influences of laziness or excitement. Such as, if the mind is excited, one can reflect on the impermanence or transient nature of the ego that emerges in the mind, or the impermanence of life and death, of fatality, to curb the excitement of that mind. Or, if there is laziness, we apply effort. But, here, we don't want to over-apply the remedy, so that the waters of the mind become agitated. But we do want to become more pacified.
7. Complete Pacification or Becoming Very Pacified
This degree is very important. In the previous degrees, from the third degree to the sixth degree, we were referring to a type of engagement with the mind, which is called, in Buddhist terms, interrupted engagement. Meaning, we are applying effort, but our efforts are always being interrupted by distractions―to one degree or another. Whether, gross, like at the fourth degree, when we don't forget to practice, towards the sixth degree, as we become more pacified―we are still dealing with distraction.
But, at this degree, complete pacification, this is a state of concentration in which you see distractions before they even arise. So, you see a thought before it even appears; you see from where it comes from. This is a very clear and sharp cognizance. The elephant is now following the monk, the monk does not have to use any force. Still, he is using effort to a degree, to lead the elephant after him, but the mind is pacified, meaning, one still has distractions, but one catches them before they even appear. This is going to be very hard to understand. But, you may have had the experience, such as an out of body experience when meditating, when you see the ego before it even projects its films on the screen of our mind.
There is a Sufi saying by Al Qushayri that emphasizes this point.
“It is said, ‘Silence for the common people is with their tongues, silence for the gnostics is with their hearts, and silence for lovers is with restraining the stray thoughts that come to their innermost beings.’" ―Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri
At this point, you catch the mind before it even acts. This is very sharp. I have experienced this in different occasions, such as out of the body, receiving teachings where I could sense my ego was about to act, before it even happened. So, this is a very sharp cognizance that we need to cultivate.
8. Single-pointed Attention
I chose the image of a samurai to illustrate this, because the type of attention we need is a sword. One-pointed means that there are no distractions; there is no subtle excitement, no subtle laxity in the mind. If you are familiar with the spiritual culture of the samurai, which is bushido, the way of the warrior, their training was such that, they eliminated all fear or excitement from their minds before they went to battle. This is before this tradition degenerated. For instance, the samurai would symbolically commit harakiri, or seppuku, to kill themselves. When this tradition degenerated, they did it literally. But this is symbolic of the need to die in the ego. So, with one pointed perception, one can deal with one’s mind, one’s enemies, without being distracted, with perfect awareness, or rather, close to perfect, because there is a degree higher than this... The fact that one is in single-pointed attention or concentration, demonstrates that there isn’t even any subtlety or laxity in the mind at all. There are no distractions, but still, it is not perfect, because we need effort to maintain that state.
9. Balanced Placement, Fixed Absorption or Meditative Equipoise
This pertains to the mind that has reached its natural state. This does not mean that the ego has been eliminated. It means that the mind is settled to its original point of being; no distractions. It takes no effort to maintain this state. One just simply must be familiar with how the consciousness functions at this degree.
There is a Sufi quote that explains this very well.
"According to etymology, the disciple is ‘he who possesses will,’ just as the knower is ‘he who possesses knowledge’ because the word belongs to the class of derived nouns. But in Sufi usage, the disciple is he who possesses no will at all!"
So, in the lower degrees, we need effort, we need will, to act to really control the mind. But, in the higher degrees, to really be a Sufi, to be pure in mind—Suf means "purity" in Arabic, referring to wool-like clothing, which is a symbol of purity—we don't need any effort. To be a Sufi, to have that realization, there is no effort involved.
"Here, one who does not abandon will cannot be called a disciple, just as, linguistically, one who does not possess will cannot be called a disciple." ―Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri
So, to reach this point, you need will, effort. But, when you reach that point where the mind is completely equilibrated, you don't need any effort, you just need to be familiar with that state. The elephant is completely tamed at this degree; one just need to be settled at that state.
Now, this ninth degree, meditative equipoise, pertains to Tiphereth in Kabbalah. Tiphereth is the human consciousness or soul, which we call willpower, our human will. It seems ironic that real willpower requires no effort. But it is true. If you are in the internal planes, in a very clear, lucid state, you don't need effort to maintain it, when it is very fully developed. But, if you find that you are struggling to maintain that state, then you need some effort. But all it takes to maintain this state is to be equilibrated.
To elaborate on this teaching that Buddha Maitreya taught, I'll relate to you an experience that I had, in the astral plane, many years ago, where my Being taught me this, before I even knew about these nine stages.
Specifically, I woke up in the astral plane, and I went outside my home and I invoked my Innermost, my God, and I dove into the Earth, into the crust, to go towards the center of the planet, to be with my Being. The astral plane is material, like the physical plane, but it is a little more subtle in nature. So, you can fly through walls, or go through the Earth, breathe in water, fly through the seas. So, I went into the Earth, and I entered darkness. At that moment, I felt the presence of my Inner Being, and I heard a breathing, and this symbol of the breath pertains to the spirit, because the Innermost is the presence of force, the breath of God, which the Sufi's talked about, Al-Nafs, Ruh, in Arabic, or Ruach in Hebrew. It was a terribly divine presence.
In that moment, my God showed me something where, if you can imagine a silent film, such as when a camera lens opens, to see an image emerge from the center of a black screen, to see a scene that immediately played out. There was a yellow car skidding, like a souped-up race car. Immediately, driving off, wildly, toward the distance. And, I knew, intuitively, I had to catch it. So, I flew after it. This was a test from my Being, and it took a lot of effort to catch up to it. I was fighting to catch after it, but then, I saw that the car was starting to slow down, I was gaining ground, I had to put less effort to get to it. And so, eventually, I was victorious, and the car was starting to stop, I came up to it, and the car opened, and a bald man came out. I asked him, "Are you my Innermost?" He said, "No, I am just a representation." And I woke up.
So, the car was yellow. Yellow is the symbol of the mental body, the mind, knowledge. That car was my mental body, driving around chaotically, crazily, and it took a lot of effort to catch up to it. The teaching was pertaining to the need for me to catch up to my elephant. It took less and less effort the closer I got, until the point where the car stopped on its own, and I was able to talk to the driver. The fact that the driver was bald is a representation of the ego, because the ego is bald from fornication; baldness is a symbol of the mind that fornicates.
So, I caught up with the car, and this is a symbol of obtaining these nine degrees. I am going to provide you this glyph, which is everything we just discussed. It explains here what the characteristics are of each stage, what is the type of engagement that we need when we concentrate, and also the power that is needed.
We explained how mental placement is when we can't remember that we're meditating. So, we need to use a lot of effort and to really hear the teachings, to understand them.
Continual placement: flashes and moments of comprehension, we still need a lot of force and engagement to catch up with the mind. At this point, we need to contemplate the teachings. Here, we need to really understand the value of the teaching from experience, and not to observe merely intellectually.
I won't go through the entire list now, but you have in this glyph everything that we discussed, to help with understanding these stages.
Something else I also want to mention, in relation to the ninth degree, meditative equipoise. In this state, we don't need to apply any effort. Another experience that I had, recently, I found myself looking in the astral plane, looking at the horizon. I have been doing a lot of the practice of the mantra S M HON, to clear my mind. I found myself in the astral plane, before dawn, there was some light on the horizon, and there was a sky with barely any patches of cloud, but was otherwise very clear; I saw the stars. To see stars in the internal planes, means that the mind is clear, and that divinity is expressing, present. I didn't need to apply any effort at that point. I was just awake, and they were showing me, that when you're transmuting and clearing your mind, let that be your object of concentration, this is your mental state. To see stars is a good thing. If you see stars, they are showing you that you're being connected with your divinity. Stars pertain to the Divine Mother, Nut in Egyptian mythology.
But I also saw something very interesting there, which is relevant to this topic. When I was looking in the stars, I saw a ship, spaceship, like a boat. At first, I was almost going to ignore it. But it was hovering in the horizon, and I saw this ship was just floating there. Telepathically, I asked, "Come take me, I want to be helped." Immediately, the ship came, a magnetic force pulled me on board, and I was on the ship.
To be invited on a space ship, in the astral plane, is divinity inviting you to go to a higher level of being, asking you to ascend from an inferior level, like in the Allegory of the Cave, to see the stars for the first time, divinity. This is a state of Noetic consciousness, Nous, where you are perceiving divinity directly.
When your mind is illuminated, if you are clear, the natural state of the mind is stars, divinity. So, if you see that, it means that they're showing you your level. In the astral plane, if you ask, "How am I doing?" And you see the sky, the nature of the sky is the nature of your mind. If it is cloudy with storms, that is your mind churning. But, if you see stars, that means that your mind is so clear that, for once, your divinity can help you. But the fact that I was invited by this ship demonstrates that if you really want to get help, you have to reach that state. That is the point of me relating this experience. The thing is, we receive help all the time, but we don't see it. But, when you're in the ninth degree of concentration, which is seeing the stars, clearly, then you can receive even more help. This is represented by the image at the top of the Tibetan mural. If we really want to be aware of who is helping us, to have that clarity, reach the ninth degree, in which you don't need effort or exertion, and in which you see clearly. So, it is from the ninth degree of concentration in which you can enter higher degrees of understanding in the internal planes.
The Myth of Proteus
The Buddhist doctrine, and the teachings of Plato are not the only ones that explain this. We find this teaching in the Odyssey, by Homer, the Greek poet.
In the Odyssey, after the Trojan war, Menelaus—who we see in this image—the King, was returning back to Sparta. He was stranded at sea without wind, and he was trying to discover which God was punishing him, so that he could make appeasement in ritual, to produce his return home. He was confronted by Eidothea, a sea goddess, a sea nymph, who explained to him that, "My father, the God Proteus, will help you return, and prophecy for you, if you catch him."
So, in this poem, there is a scene where King Menelaus was disguised as a seal, a creature of the sea, in order to ambush Proteus and to wrestle him to the ground, to get him to provide answers to his questions.
Menelaus states to Eidothea, the daughter of Proteus—Proteus is a God of the sea, who could shapeshift, and Eidolthea, the daughter says, if you want to get the answers you need, you have to catch Proteus: Proteus is going to shapeshift on you, change the sea creatures into beasts, into fowl, into all sorts of serpents and creatures... and no matter what he turns into, you have to hold on to him. This relates to how, when we are concentrating and controlling our mind, the mind shapeshifts: desires, thoughts, beliefs, ideas, concepts—Proteus, in our mind, is always shifting. But, if you want to get the answers you seek, you must hold on for dear life, and use that will, until finally, Proteus will give in. And, when your mind is completely controlled, then the Gods can speak to you; such as the stars in the experience I provided.
Menelaus says to Eidothea: “Show me the trick to trap this ancient power, or he’ll see or sense me first and slip away. It’s hard for a mortal man to force a god.” ―The Odyssey, IV. ll. 442-444
Samael Aun Weor says, when you're with your Being in meditation, you must be demanding with your God. It sounds blasphemous... but, the thing is, when you're concentrating, you must be so dedicated that, no matter what happens, you're never going to forget what you're doing. Then, you will demand to your Being, "Show me and teach me, so that you can give me the insight that I need."
So, Menelaus was describing, in his story, how he caught Proteus:
“Now there was an ambush that would have overpowered us all―overpowering, true, the awful reek of all those sea-fed brutes!"
So, Proteus was surrounded by sea lions, and many other animals that smelled terrible: that is our mind. Lust smells awful; it is a psychological characteristic which hypnotizes the mind and is filthy. When we try to meditate on our lust, that element fights to feed itself and is really overpowering. The solution is given by Eidothea, which was a kind of ambrosia, applied under the nose.
"Who’d dream of bedding down with a monster of the deep? But the goddess (Eidothea) sped to our rescue, found the cure with ambrosia, daubing it under each man’s nose—that lovely scent, it drowned the creatures’ stench.” ―The Odyssey, IV. ll. 495-501
What is that ambrosia? It is our transmutation. When you transmute the sexual energy, you can confront your mind with strength, the lust of the sea animals that we carry within.
"…but we with a battle-cry, we rushed him, flung out arms around him—he’d lost nothing, the old rascal, none of his cunning quick techniques! First he shifted into a great bearded lion and then a serpent—a panther—a ramping wild boar—a torrent of water—a tree with soaring branch tops—but we held on for dear life, braving it out until, at last, that quick-change artist, the old wizard, began to weary of all this.” ―The Odyssey, IV, ll. 509-517
You must control your mind, even if it shapeshifts. We need pliancy of the mind to control it, no matter what distraction it provides, as Homer teaches.
So, the higher levels of shamatha, which is really what calm abiding is, pertains to superior consciousness in the internal planes.
The nine degrees of concentration we were explaining lead to this point, which is a kind of concentration in which we become very skilled in the astral world, and beyond. So, the image of the top of the Tibetan mural, being above the mountains, represents the superior dimensions of the Tree of Life.
We emphasize, in brief, the nature of Kabbalah. We have on the left an image of Arik Anpin, the celestial man, divided into four worlds. Likewise, the Tree of Life on the right, divided into four worlds, which are Atziluth, Briah, Yetzirah, and Assiah. Assiah is the world of action, matter, energy; Yetzirah is the world of formation; Briah, creation; and, Atziluth, archetypes.
So, the simple way in which we can break this down is, on the Tree of Life, the world of archetypes, which are very abstract, the nature of Christ, is Atziluth, which is Kether-Chokmah-Binah, Father-Son-Holy Spirit. In the world of Briah, we have the Innermost, Chesed, the Divine Soul, Geburah, and the human soul, Tiphereth. So, everything that we have been talking about in relation with concentration, pertains to how we use our willpower. In the higher levels of shamatha, we are in the world of Briah, represented by the rainbow, as well as the world of Yetzirah, which is the mental world, Netzach, the astral world of Hod and the vital world, Yesod. Everything that we are describing here, pertains to Assiah, at first; how we, in our physical body, learn to meditate. Then, when we develop concentration here, we can investigate the world of Yetzirah, the world of formation, the astral world, the mental world. Yetzirah is governed by angels; Briah is governed by Archangels, like Samael, Orifiel, Gabriel, Raphael, etc. Atziluth pertains to direct influence of God within the Tree of Life.
We will explain more about this image in another lecture, how the Tree of Life is represented in each of these four worlds. We use this glyph of the ten Sephiroth as a map of our consciousness, or the higher levels of concentration too, in which each Sephiroth has four aspects; Atziluth, in which God acts directly; Briah, in which the forces of divinity work through the Archangels, in the different Sephiroth; Yetzirah, the angels working under the Archangels, the Cosmo-Creators; and, Assiah is our physical plane.
In a more complicated sense, we say that there are forty spheres, but we talk about ten in synthesis. I point this out because, we're at the feet here, Malkuth. We're trying to concentrate, and we must work with our waters, control our earth, then we can enter into the superior worlds, represented by the Solar System, the genitalia of the celestial man, and likewise up the Tree of Life. So, there are degrees of how we develop cognizance.
Lastly, to emphasize the points we made, I'd like to quote a Sufi teaching, from Al-Risalah, Principles of Sufism, a teaching by Al-Jurayri.
“[Al-Jurayri] said that whoever does not establish awe of duty and vigilance in his relationship to God will not arrive at disclosure of the unseen or contemplation (mushahadah) of the divine." —Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah
What is divinity on the Tree of Life? Allah, the top of the Tree of Life, Kether-Chokmah-Binah, Father-Son-Holy Spirit, light of divinity, manifested on the Tree of Life. This is the Being. Da’ath is the secret sphere in the throat, pertaining to knowledge, sexual knowledge: how we work in transmutation. It is with the throat, by using mantra, is how we work with our creative potential in our vital body, specifically.
So, if we do not establish "awe of duty" meaning, we don't feel that awe and fear of divinity, and the fear that, if we don't practice, we will degenerate. It is only by developing that awe of our practices that, really, the respect that we have towards the tradition, the exercises we use to develop vigilance, in relationship to ourselves and our Being, we can obtain disclosure―meaning, to tear the veil, to see the internal planes and to develop contemplation, cognizance, like when you see the stars in the astral plane. Contemplation, in Arabic, is mushahadah, which relates to the Arabic pillar of faith, the Shahadah, which is, "I believe in Allah, Allah is Allah, and Muhammed is His Prophet." A real Muslim is someone who has really experienced divinity, who has cognizance of the divine. We can only reach that if we develop our capacity to concentrate, then, once you develop concentration, insight will come, spontaneously. That is the next stage we are going to talk about.
Questions and Answers
Audience: Samael Aun Weor said, more or less, you're not going anywhere in meditation unless you develop serenity first... that's really high up there on that diagram. Personally, I've found that, to progress on that path, getting serenity first, is related to the breath, rhythmic breath, is what leads to serenity.
Instructor: Right. Transmuting, working with Da’ath, is how you clear your mind; especially with something like the mantra S M HON, I have found that very effective, personally, to illuminate the sky of the mind. You can also do vowel Sssss, which is great for that; you can do INRI, Om Masi Padme Yum, Gate Gate Paragate Parasamgate Bodhi Swaha; Klim Krishnaya Govindaya Gopijana Vallabhaya Swaha, and many other mantras that you can use to train your mind.
This is basic. We should do that every time we practice, so that the mind is clear. Then, we can develop that serenity that we need.
Audience: I find also that, when you do concentration on mantra, more and more it is effective at knocking out those extraneous thoughts. There is just no room, and I concentrate on that vibration, and it is a serene state of mind; that is what is helping me more. There is no room for those crazy thoughts, because I am concentrating on the mantra.
Instructor: The thing is, if you're not experiencing any distractions, that pertains to a state related to the ninth degree, in which the mind is not distracted; there are no elements perturbing the mind: there is serenity. And, there are degrees. Sometimes, that ninth degree for one person maybe different for another, even within a single individual. It will fluctuate. So, don't think that, by describing these nine stages, that you go from one to the other, strictly, like a checklist. There is fluctuation. In one meditation session, you can go from the first degree to the sixth, or the fourth degree to the ninth, and back again. You can have an experience, lose it, and go back to a wild mind. It is dynamic; pertaining to our effort of will, and our work, as well as what our Being wants.
Audience: That is what I was going to say about what Samael Aun Weor said about emptying your mind. It seems that, we must practice with ethics, and with an object in meditation and that is going to get us closer to the point when we can empty our minds of thoughts. But, it's not like it is going to just happen step by step―it is going to be a combination of steps, and that's how it feels to me.
Instructor: Yes, and that is why Samael Aun Weor said that there are many students of, say Krishnamurti ―Krishnamurti is a great Master, taught a lot of valuable things about the mind. But, the problem with his students is that... well, first off, Krishnamurti did not teach chastity. He was not allowed to teach that. So, he did not teach it openly. Therefore, students study him very intellectually, meanwhile, they fornicate. Therefore, the mind of the one who does not practice chastity has no purity of mind, no pure ethical discipline―the mind is chaotic. So, these people who study these doctrines, but fornicate, they're not fulfilling the very basic requisite of religion, of yoga; which is Yama / Niyama, restrain the mind, restrain the body... that is basic. Many people try to meditate, for twenty years, thirty years or more... but they fornicate. They are just wasting their time. It really is tragic.
People try to skip steps. They think, "Oh, I don't need to practice Brahmacharya." But, Patanjali says that this is basic; Buddha said that you need to be chaste, Jesus the same thing, "You must be born again of water and spirit."
Here is the thing, like Sivananda said, if you fulfill the basic requirements of ethics in your daily life, your concentration will be very strong, and meditation will be easy. So, try to apply ethical discipline and purity in mind, body and heart, moment by moment, day by day. Then, when you concentrate, it will be much easier. The mind will be stable. Then, you can practice the higher degrees of meditation itself. But the firmer we are in our foundation, like in that image of the pagoda, then we can ascend towards the superior worlds.
Audience: Who painted the image of the Allegory of the Cave?
Instructor: I don't know.
Audience: So, that's not all symbolism, right? There is so much random stuff in there.
Instructor: I think in that painting, there is people looking at iphones, televisions, etc. I chose that image in particular because that is typically what we do. Personally, if I watch television, I try to watch opera, or films that are meaningful. But the fact that people are hypnotized by the television screen... they don't see the light.
Eikasia, in Greek, literally translates as "imagination." But, Samael calls it darkness. So, there is an interesting dynamic here. With Eikasia, we can be visually very awake, perceiving images and light, physically, but, psychologically, we can be completely asleep. So, we have perception, but, it is not conscious.
With television, people typically get hypnotized. The world really is what the book of Genesis says: "The world was formless and void, darkness was upon the face of the deep." That is our elephant, that is sitting in front of the television, our distractions.
One of the things that the Buddhists teach is the need to refrain from the paths of distraction. Meaning, part of our ethical discipline should be avoiding, say, going to movie theatres, where in the astral atmosphere, there is a lot of filth.
Audience: You mentioned dance halls once…
Instructor: It depends. Brothels, places like that, bars, are filled with larvae and filth. However, ethical discipline is to avoid places like that. I always recommend, for students, don't go to those places, if you want your mind to be clean. It is good to feed our mind with healthy impressions. If you watch a movie, watch an opera―which we will be doing more of here―something positive. That gives you good impressions in the mind, that can inspire you to really connect with your Being. Whereas, watching the movie Seven, or something about violence or bloodshed, or films that are very offensive to the sight...
Audience: More and more, they're not innocuous at all. They're graphic...
Instructor: Feed your mind with good impressions. I personally try to avoid that kind of thing.
Audience: Going back to that painting about the Allegory of the Cave, did you see the peeker? The eyes behind the bench? Is there symbolism behind that?
Instructor: We could say that, that person is someone on the other side of the wall, and has the opportunity to see the light, but, such a person doesn't care; that is my interpretation of that image. But, the fact that their faces are like zombies... that is really our daily life.
In order to change, we must work with the fire, which is Daath, the sexual energy, to give us light. And then, when you are transmuting, watch what you eat. The Muslims say, eat only what is lawful, in Sufi scripture. This doesn't pertain to merely physical food―not eating pork is one thing. Pork is a food with a lot of degenerative elements, that can feed our lust. To eat what is lawful is to eat the right impressions, meaning, what you feed your mind. It is avoiding consuming garbage, whether television, books, or visiting bad places.
Audience: I was wondering if you could go over the first rite of rejuvenation again? It's after the first one, when you spin? You said that, after completing that, and shutting your eyes and standing there, you did some other thing?
Instructor: You bend your knees. Take your three fingers, put them on your third eye... this is partially to gain your balance, but, you're also taking all that energy that you accumulated through that gyration, and sending it to your third eye. You close your eyes, gain your balance, and you focus that energy, that chi, that ki, in the third eye, to awaken your clairvoyance.
Audience: You don't say any mantra at this point? You just focus?
Instructor: No, you just focus. The only other mantra you need to do in that practice is, "Open Sesame." And, that mantra, is something that we need to accomplish, symbolically. We need to open our mind, to receive the solar light.
So, again, to concentrate, the runes can help us, the sacred rites can help us.
Thank you for coming.
The following transcription is from an audio lecture on Gnostic Meditation, a course originally delivered live at the Gnostic Academy of Chicago.
This is the second lecture in the course that we have initiated on meditation—discussing the requisites, as well as the necessary steps we need in order to really understand how to meditate, how to acquire information about any given phenomena.
We previously discussed the nature of the Eightfold Path of Yoga as taught by Patanjali, namely: Yama-Niyama, which is ethical discipline, restraint, "to do or not to do," literally speaking.
We also spoke about asana, which is posture. We talked about pranayama, the work with sexual energy, transmutation, moral purity. We also talked about pratyahara, which is the suspension of the senses: to withdraw the mind from the external sensorial perceptions, to have silence of mind.
We also spoke about dharana (concentration): to focus the mind on only one thing. And, we spoke about dhyana, which is actual meditation: to receive information about an object, to perceive the new, and to comprehend any given object of our meditation. And then, samadhi, which is ecstasy, comprehension: it is to perceive without the filters of the ego.
In this lecture, we are speaking about Yama and Niyama. We are speaking about the necessity to curtail negative habits of body, speech, and mind. We're going to talk about the foundations of meditation, precisely in how we cultivate genuine ethics and discipline, so that we can make our practices effective.
On this subject of ethics, we always speak about karma, because karma comes from the Sanskrit, karman, which means cause and effect. It pertains to the fact that whatever actions we produce will necessarily produce certain results.
Likewise, interdependence, which is a Buddhist concept, but that we find in all traditions. It is how all phenomena are inextricably linked. Internal states, external events, constitute two dynamics of one thing: our relationship to each other, to humanity, to ourselves.
The importance of ethics cannot be underestimated. It is ethical discipline, following what is called the ten commandments of Moshe [Moses], the ten meritorious actions of Buddhism, is how we purify our mind, in which we have the stability of consciousness in order to genuinely enter the higher stages. For instance, we have yama and niyama, which precede asana. It is impossible to sit down with one’s posture to meditate if, throughout the day, we committed fornication or adultery, or we stole... people who have bad habits, who lack moral discipline, if such people try to approach the science of meditation, it is impossible for them to sit still. We cannot sit still if we have had an argument or have been angry in some way.
If we want to be able to have a stable, firm and relaxed asana (posture), we first need to, throughout the day, be very disciplined in how we act. As the Buddha Gautama Shakyamuni taught us, in the Dhammapada:
"Mind precedes phenomena; we become what we think."
If what we think is evil, then our actions will be evil. But, if what we think is pure, then good results will follow, as the Buddha taught.
In this lecture, in talking about ethics, we are going to discuss a lot of the Muslim and Sufi teachings, specifically from Al-Risalah, by Al Qushayri. We are going to talk a lot about Hinduism and Buddhism regarding the law of karma and interdependence as well.
Here, we have a quote from Rumi which really emphasizes the necessity for the curtailing of wrong habits, wrong views.
"Let’s ask God to help us to self-control:
"for one who lacks it, lacks His Grace.
"The undisciplined person doesn’t wrong himself alone– but sets fire to the whole world.
"Discipline enabled Heaven to be filled with light; discipline enabled the angels to be immaculate and holy.
"The peacock’s plumage is his enemy." ―Jalal al-Din Muhammad Rumi
When we awaken in the internal planes, the peacock can symbolize pride, vanity, one’s appearance, how we make ourselves visible to others. The tail, with its colors, is, really, our enemy: this illusion of self that we typically carry within, which we need to curtail through ethics.
"The world is the mountain, and each action, the shout that echoes back." ―Jalal al-Din Muhammad Rumi
This is karma. If we speak wrong words, if we are vulgar, if we are rude to another person, that will produce its corresponding consequence.
This is such a basic concept, but it really is essential, especially as we relate to other people. What we are internally affects what experience externally. If we carry any type of negativity in our internal states, that affects others, even though it may not be visible to us on the surface.
"This discipline and rough treatment are a furnace to extract the silver from the dross." ―Jalal al-Din Muhammad Rumi
This is an alchemical statement. "This discipline and rough treatment are a furnace," in which our psychological elements can be burned. Particularly, if we are married and working in alchemy, this is our furnace. The silver is a metallic element representing the sexual energy: the lunar forces. The dross is our psychological, egotistical impurities, the shells that are discarded as we extract consciousness from each ego. In order to do that, we first need ethics, discipline, and we need "rough treatment," meaning, we need to be treated badly. This is the difficult thing that we don't want to encounter; we don't want people to insult us, or to say harmful things, or be negative. But, when people do that for us, they are doing us a favor, if we are wise...
When people are condemnatory, prejudiced, this is how our egos emerge. If we act on that defect or ego, then as a result, we make the other human being suffer, and it becomes the law of the talion: "eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth." The law of retribution. But, there is a superior law we need to develop within, which is the law of mercy.
So, this is our furnace, the psychological gymnasium that Master Samael Aun Weor speaks about so frequently, which relates to three social spheres: how strangers may be rude to us so that we might perceive our egos, that are not necessarily the subtlest and deeply rooted in our psyche. We also have friends and family, which is typically more stressful. And, lastly, the most difficult ordeal is our own partner: our wife or husband, for those who are married. It is precisely from this psychological pressure which exerts itself on our psyche, to stimulate and boil the waters at 100 degrees Celsius, so that those elements that need to be destroyed will emerge and can be worked on. We need difficulty.
It is important that we must face these challenges. As Friedrich Nietzsche, author of Thus Spoke Zarathustra, taught: "Is not the greatest thing, the most difficult thing that the spirit of the renunciate seeks to develop, is to take on challenges in order to exalt in its own strength?" Oftentimes, we look at ordeals and problems and we don't want them. But, we really need them. We need to be challenged, so that we can really flex our spiritual muscles and grow.
Those elements are boiling in those waters, in either temptation or conflict, so that we can see them for what they are, to observe them. This is key. This is how one becomes an angel: through difficulty.
This image is of an Elohim, or angel, crowning a woman. That woman is our soul. If we want to be crowned, to receive the crown of life, we must be faithful unto death, as the book of Revelation teaches us: be thou faithful unto death and I will give you the crown of life. The crown is precisely Kether, Chokmah and Binah, Father-Son-Holy Spirit, the three energies of the Lord in one, the Tri-unity. This is represented by the angel, it is our Inner God, who crowns us if we are faithful unto death, meaning: every day we work on our pride, our anger, our lust, meditating on those defects that were boiling when someone said something insulting to us. We must remember that, in order to really work on that ego, on those defects, we cannot act on those defects. If in the moment we react to the external impressions of our insulter, then, we in turn strengthen our ego, our defects. But, if we restrain our mind, we respond with kindness, we're developing virtue.
Swami Sivananda teaches that every time an ego of anger emerges, when someone insults us, if we curtail and restrain our mind from reacting and behaving in a negative way, we strengthen our virtue. In turn, we give more force to our soul. But, every time we identify, even mentally with our chatter—psychologically in the intellectual center, our negative feelings in our emotional center—then we strengthen our habits, terribly. In order to really work effectively on the ego, we must catch that defect, as soon as it arises.
Observation is restraint. As we observe ourselves, we are learning how to not act on our desires. It is that restraint that is really the essence of discipline. If we do not restrain our mind, it is like feeding the lion.
In this image, we have Sufis dancing at Sama, which is a spiritual concert. We find this quote from Al-Qushayri, a Sufi Master and scholar, who wrote a book called Principles of Sufism. He explains the following:
"It is related that Ibn al-Mubarak said, ‘We have greater need of a little bit of refinement than a lot of knowledge.’" ―Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri
It is good to read books, to study this doctrine intellectually, but we have a greater need of even a little bit of psychological purity, than having mere intellectual knowledge. This is not to downgrade the necessity for studying books and lectures, receiving help and clarification that way... what is more important is applying the teachings. That is the only time that is becomes real, when we apply them practically. For, as we say, this teaching is really a dead letter, that only the spirit can vivify. Meaning, the letter kills, if we just leave it at the level of the intellect, the soul is dead. But, when we fully enact it, then, any scripture or book becomes living: it becomes part of our soul.
So, we need more refinement in our habits than we do for reading books. That is the important thing; study is important, but practice is essential.
"I heard Muhammad bin al-Husayn say… that bin al-Mubarak said, ‘We sought for right conduct once the teachers of right conduct had left us.’" ―Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri
This is explaining a common habit in spiritual groups, where individuals often may be taught by a master... and when I say master, I am talking about a master of the Major Mysteries, who has reached the Fifth Initiation of Fire, raising the Kundalini up the physical, vital, emotional, mental and causal bodies. Someone who has reached Tiphereth in the center of the Tree of Life, and has incarnated Christ, as a Bodhisattva. Many times, Bodhisattvas come to teach humanity, but, people do not really get the message, because people tend to intellectualize, read too much, and not practice.
So, once these teachers leave, such as in the case of Samael Aun Weor, he taught right conduct and he disincarnated and is working with initiates in the internal planes. Then, people start looking for their teacher... well, we have his books, but now we seek the right path after we have received the teachings. This emphasizes a dynamic or quality within disciples.
We need to really take advantage of the practice, of this discipline.
"It is said that if one has three traits, one is never a stranger. They are avoiding doubters, behaving well, and restraining oneself from causing harm." ―Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri
What does it meant to be a stranger? We find in the Old Testament, oftentimes in Judaism, the stranger is associated with the gentiles—those who are not Jews. This does not literally mean those who are not of the Jewish race or culture; it refers to initiates, those who are not initiated and who have not received the crown of life, because Yew, or Yehudah, Iod-Chavah, Judah and Jehovah, and Yehu, all have the same letters associated with each other.
To be a stranger is to be unconscious and asleep; it is to not be an initiate. It is to not have development with the creative energies of God, and through discipline. We need to avoid doubters, meaning, it is not good to necessarily associate with people who are very skeptical, and who are negative. Negative emotions are more infectious than any disease. If someone is angry, and they give a speech to a group of people, they infect other people with that anger. This is not ethics at all. Many religious teachers, preachers, of different denominations and traditions—whether in Christianity, Judaism, Islam, even in Buddhism—who are filled with skepticism and cynicism, infect students. This is a crime, because that creates doubt. Once people are filled with fear and dependency on a group, or doubt about a teaching, about how to change, that is a terrible karma. There are terrible consequences for misleading people in that way. Doubters are really people who try to pull us away from our practice. We need to be very disciplined. If we must associate with certain people, then we have to multiply our diligence and our ethical state of mind.
Behaving well is necessary. When we talk about behaving well, we are talking about, as in Buddhism, the trainings of body, speech and mind. In other words, our three brains, in the Gnostic doctrine. Body is the motor-instinctual-sexual brain; speech is usually related to our emotions, because as Jesus taught:
"Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught?
"But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.
"For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:
"These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man." ―Matthew 15: 17-20
It doesn't really matter what you consume, but really what comes out of your mouth, is what he said. Speech relates to the heart, because what is in our emotional center expresses through our speech. If we are negative and evil, if we cultivate that in our mental states, our emotional states, we will speak degeneration, and that affects others. Usually, when people are very negative, we should avoid them and not open our doors to receiving impressions which we know will infect our heart. Part of our ethics is to be wise in our relationships, and to curtail our mind, for again, as Nietzsche said in Thus Spoke Zarathustra, "For some people you may not give your hand, only your paw, and I desire that your paw should also have claws." So, we must learn to establish boundaries with people. Being compassionate does not mean being a doormat, for people to walk all over and abuse us. Compassion is knowing how to establish boundaries for the benefit of oneself and others.
This relates to speech, because how we speak determines to how we relate to other human beings. When we work with our emotional brain, we are really dominating our tongue; these two things are intimately related.
Finally, we have mind, which is our intellectual center.
In Buddhism, we talk about avoiding the sins of body, which is fornication, using intoxicants or drugs, alcohol, etc. Likewise, for the abuse of the heart, we talk about restraining anger, pride, resentment, calumny, envy. And, with the intellect, we seek to avoid wrong views, specifically talking in regard to the Buddhist doctrine.
This is really the center of our problem, with how we negotiate our internal realities with the external world. We typically have mistaken views about who we are as a psyche. And, the only way to rectify that is to observe. Every ego, every defect has its own viewpoint—its own thoughts, its own ideologies, its own sentiments, its own way of acting. But, in order to behave well, we need to understand what in us is mistaken in our perceptions. The only way to do that is to separate your psyche from the ego, and to observe it, and then restraining oneself from causing harm—even if you feel consumed with passion or lust or anger, to restrain yourself and to not engage in that habit, because the more we give into it, the less energy we have for our work. The more we restrain our mind, the greater strength we have.
The Role of Ethics in Concentration and Meditation
This is an image of Swami Sivananda, who is a great resurrected Master, meditating on a leopard, I believe. I am not sure when in his life this was taken, but he was an adept, who had no ego; he fully eliminated his defects, which is symbolized by him meditating with this beautiful smile on his face, over this dead skin of an animal. The animal is our ego. With ethical discipline one controls, one annihilates those defects, and then like Shiva, can meditate and show that he or she has conquered their animality.
Swami Sivananda gave very practical and essential points in his books, which we study. He says in the book, Concentration and Meditation, regarding the need for ethics:
"Some foolish impatient students take to concentration practice—this is preliminary concentration, not real meditation yet—without in any manner undergoing any preliminary training in ethics." —Swami Sivananda, Concentration and Meditation
So, let us step back and emphasize this. Concentration is to focus on one object, such as a mantra, or a visualization, an object, without thinking about other things. Meditation is when we are extracting information about what we are concentrating on. So, they are different things. But, in order to have real concentration, we need to really be ethical: meaning, don't fornicate, don't drink, don't steal, don't commit adultery, don't indulge in anger, lust, pride, etc.
"This is a serious blunder." —Swami Sivananda, Concentration and Meditation
Meaning, those who do not develop ethics, before entering concentration, will achieve nothing.
"Ethical perfection is a matter of paramount importance. Concentration without purity of mind is of no avail. There are some occultists who have concentration, but they do not have good character. That is the reason why they do not make any progress in the spiritual line." ―Swami Sivananda, Concentration and Meditation
We are going to talk a little bit about Islam, and how, basically, there is a Sufi Master that was approached by a student, who told him, "So-and-so can fly. So-and-so can walk on water, in the air." And, then the Sufi Master said, "Well, does he follow the Qur'an?" And the answer, of course, was obviously no. So, he said, "Shun that man. Don't have anything to do with him."
This is because, those who have powers and abilities, and concentration, can do things through the ego. The difference is, in terms of our ethical discipline, we seek to curtail the habits of our defects, of our mind, but, a black magician takes those egos, such as anger, and concentrates that force through that anger. And so, they have a lot of concentration as well, but, within that anger; it is conditioned concentration. The type of ethics we seek to cultivate is by extricating our free consciousness, so that there is no filter, no conditioning; it is liberated. That is really the meaning of ethics, but many people develop powers in their ego, because they keep strengthening the shell, the conditioning, which has them act and perceiving in that subjective way.
Here we find an image of a Sufi meditating. In order to explain the necessity for ethics, in terms of how we practice, as well as the importance of having experience in developing cognizance, we are going to discuss a teaching associated with the Muslim doctrine.
In Islam, we talk about Shariah, Shariah Law, which in the Middle East is associated, typically, as the culture and customs of Muslims. But, that is not the Shariah that we are talking about. In this case, we are talking about ethical discipline: don't fornicate, don't lie, don't indulge in anger... etc. We call this the Divine Law, or as we say in Hebrew, the Torah, or in Sanskrit, Dharma. It is the instruction that teaches us how to really die in our errors, and to be reborn in our Being.
Shariah Law became, literally, a cultural thing, rather than a conscious teaching. Shariah is really the foundation of how we practice, using the Arabic terms. But, if we were to use the Hebrew terms, we would call it Torah, the Law.
So, in Sufism, we have four stages. We have Shariah, which is the basic law or instruction, how to be disciplined in meditation. Tariqah, which is the path—literally translating as a "path in the desert"—is how we walk the path, how we practice. Then we have Haqiqah. A Sufi Master by the name of Ibn Husayn Mansur Al-Hallaj said, "Ana al-Haqq (I am the truth)." Haqq means truth: this is God. Anyone who has no ego can manifest the truth within themselves, like Sivananda or Al-Hallaj. Haqiqah is the truth, the way of knowledge. Marifah (knowledge), really, is the same thing; these are two aspects of the same higher teaching. Marifah is Gnosis, in Greek terms: direct perception of divinity.
"The divine Law commands one to the duty of servanthood. The Way, the inner reality is the contemplation of divine lordship." ―Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri
This excerpt emphasizes how, if we want to have internal experiences, we need to follow the law. I do not mean terrestrial laws, but the laws pertaining to the development of the consciousness, the laws of initiation. The path, the way to the inner reality is contemplation of divine lordship. Contemplation, a term that we will revisit, is in Arabic called, "Mushahida." This is the word from which we get the Muslim declaration of faith, the Shahadah, which we will elaborate on.
Contemplation is meditation. So, the way to the inner reality is when we are meditating and speaking with our God, face to face.
"Outward religious practice not confirmed by inner reality is not acceptable. Inner reality not anchored by outward religious practice is not acceptable." ―Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri
There are many Muslims that follow the outward religious practice of their tradition, or Jews, or Christians, yet, they do not have any experience. This is useless. Neither should we rely on inner experiences, if we are not cultivating, in our daily physical life, ethics. So, like the example of the individual who is flying through the air and walking on water, but not following the Qur'an, really emphasizes this point. If someone has powers but is not practicing chastity, moral purity, restraint, then, they are obviously a demon, a black magician. So, our inner reality should always be anchored by our ethics, our religious discipline.
"Divine Law brings obligation upon the creation, while the Way is founded upon the free action of the Real." ―Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri
When we talk about how the divine law brings obligation upon the creation, really, when the Qur'an talks about "the creation," it is referring to the Tree of Life, the ten Sephiroth of Kabbalah. The Divine Law brings obligation upon us; we are the bottom of the Tree of Life. But, the Law requires of us that, if we want to enter into the superior dimensions, we need to follow the laws that pertain to those higher worlds. It is our obligation to do so. Or, as Gurdjieff taught, "Being-Partkdolg-Duty" meaning the necessity for God to know himself, to acquire cognizance, by developing the Tree of Life, descending as energy down through different modalities of matter, consciousness, energy, until reaching our physicality. It is our spiritual duty to follow those laws, and return inward, and upward, to the source, with knowledge, so that God can know himself, through us. The soul is like a mirror which can reflect the image of God, inside.
Often in these studies, we talk about the Absolute, which is Allah, in Arabic, the Christ, the source of divinity within us. The goal of these studies is to return to the Absolute, the emptiness, the Ain Soph. We often talk about the Absolute as the great reality of life, free in its movement. There is always movement involved in returning to that pristine, abstract joy of consciousness, which is pure liberation, without vehicles of any kind.
So, the way is that we really comprehend the Absolute, is that we follow the Torah, the Shariah, the Qur'an, the Law.
"The divine Law is that you serve Him. The Way is that you see Him." ―Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri
In the beginning, we do not see God, typically. But, we seek to serve him, through transforming our daily life into something pure. But, "the Way is that you see Him." In the beginning we feel longing, intuition and a hunch about the need to practice, and to change certain habits that are in our daily life, so we are serving God in that way. Whenever we restrain our mind from doing harmful things, trying to create peace and harmony with others, this is how we serve God, Karma Yoga.
But, to take that a step further, we need to perceive God, directly. "The way" is that we are actually communicating with our Inner Being, so that He will direct us further. In the beginning we serve, and we are blind, we do not see anything, but we sense a presence in our heart that we follow and that we want to develop. But, to really enter the path, we need to perceive God directly. In the beginning we serve Him, but, through the way, by entering this path of the Bodhisattva, we have to see God.
"The divine Law is doing what you have been ordered to do. Haqiqah is bearing witness to what He has determined and ordained, hidden and revealed." ―Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri
The Muslims have a saying, "La ilaha illallah Muhammadur Rasulullah," "There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is His Prophet." If you look at the word for "bearing witness," which is Shahadah in Arabic, you can also call it Mushahada, which means contemplation, to see. So, to "bear witness" as a Muslim, is to have spoken with God, face to face, like Prophet Muhammad did. Then, when we have that experience, then we can say, "Yes, Allah is Allah, God is God, El is El (in Hebrew), and Muhammad is His Prophet, Buddha is His Prophet, Krishna, Zarathustra, Samael Aun Weor, etc., is His Prophet." To know God is to know the prophets, from experience. To witness is to see, out of the body or in the internal planes, even physically too.
We have two terms in Islam, Al-Zahir and Al-Batin. Al-Batin is the inner, esoteric teachings, and Al-Zahir is the outer, exoteric teaching. These are both names of Allah, the inner and outer, because God is inside, but also outside. We know in Islam that Allah has 99 names, which relates to Kabbalah. But "the hidden and the revealed" pertains to internal states and external events. So, we must understand the relationship between the two, the written law and the divine way.
"I heard Abu Ali al-Daqqaq say that God's saying [in the Opening Chapter, Al-Fatihah] iyyaka nabudu—"You we worship"—preserves the outward practice, the divine Law. Iyyaka nastain—"to You we turn for help"—establishes the inner reality, the Way." ―Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri
In one of the seven lines in the opening of the Qur'an, it says, "You do we worship, to you we turn for help." The first part, "You do we worship," refers to our ethical discipline, working with the Divine Law; efforts that we make to worship God. So, to worship our divinity means that we do not act on any egotistical impulse within us. That is the requisite, we must do that first, if we want to receive grace, which is, "To You we turn for help." In accordance with our ethics, we worship the Lord, but then, "To You we turn for help," meaning, we want You [the Being] to help give us an experience, in the astral plane, in the mental plane, in the causal world, in Nirvana, in the world of Chokmah, the Christ, the Absolute even... There are two things there. First, we must practice. Then, we must be patient, in order to receive those experiences. Divine Law, Shariah, is practice, the ethics; Haqiqah is the experience we get by following our discipline.
"Know that religious obligation is a spiritual reality in that it was made necessary by His command. And spiritual reality, as well, is a religious obligation, in that the realizations of Him were also made necessary by His command." ―Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri
I know many people in this tradition, in different groups that I have been associated with, who do a lot of practices, but, for some reason, because they don't really work with their consciousness, they don't have experiences. But, at the same time, I know many others who developed their practice, with comprehension and cognizance, and they have many experiences.
So, it is an obligation to develop practice, and also to have experiences: they are inter-connected. But, in order to have spiritual reality, we must have religious obligation, meaning, we have to really cultivate purity. The only way to do that, is to observe oneself, here and now.
In order to really have experience, every time we sit to practice, we must do it with our consciousness, not with a cloudy mind. In the beginning, the mind is obscured, but, with transmutation and with disciplining ourselves, little by little, we learn to practice better each time. In this way, we will attain to realization.
This is an image of the Prophet Muhammad, ascending up the seven heavens, on the creature Al-Buraq, which has the face of a woman, the body of mule, and the tail of a peacock. Here, you see Muhammad is veiled, and in Muslim tradition you find that the veil, depicted on the prophet, shows for us that God is veiled, that, to know divinity, we need to tear the veil of Isis, which is the illusions of this world. But, in order to look directly on divinity, which is expressing through Prophet Muhammad, is that fire around him. So, we need to tear the veil of our false perception, so that we can bear witness of Allah, Shahadah. A real Muslim, a real Gnostic, a real practitioner, is somebody who has experienced God, and is cultivating that every day, and knows divinity very well, directly.
This scripture, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism, really teaches us the importance of developing ethics.
"God Almighty and Glorious has said, ‘The sight (of the Prophet of the time of his Ascension, from Mecca to Jerusalem, and from Jerusalem up the Tree of Life, the seven heavens), did not deviate nor overstep the bounds’ (53:17). This is said to mean, “He maintained the conduct proper to the Divine Presence.” ―Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri
When we talk about ethics, it is important to realize that, if we self-realize, if we come to know God, our ethical discipline does not end there. Ethics is restraining the mind from producing, causing harm. Even if we have a solar mind—which we often talk about, in these studies, how we need to create a solar mental body, a Christic-mind—even though we might have that vehicle of God, it is a material vehicle which can make mistakes, if we identify with it, and not choose to reflect the inner image of our Being. So, even resurrected masters need ethics: they have no ego, but they are like Prophet Muhammad, knowing God, but even their mind can take them away from the path, which is why we say that even angels can fall. The reason why there are fallen masters is because they lacked ethics. Don't think that by eliminating your ego that you are done with ethics; faithfulness to God is something eternal, to not back away from that. But, that is for resurrected masters.
"The Most High also said, “Save yourselves and your families from the fire” (66:6)." ―Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri
It is interesting that we find in the sixty-sixth verse of Surah 6 how one has to save oneself from the fire—we find the number 666. The Arcanum 6 of the Tarot relates to the three brains, indecision, being tempted between good and evil, the virgin and the whore, which represents the ego.
"According to the commentary of Ibn Abbas, this means, ‘Teach them the stipulations of the divine law and refined behavior.’
"Ali bin Ahmad al-Ahwazi informed us… from Ayisha that the Prophet said, ‘The child owes it to his parent to make good his name, his upbringing, and his education in conduct.’ It is related that Said bin al-Musayyib said, ‘Whoever does not know what rights God Almighty and Glorious has over him and has not been educated in His command and prohibition is cut off from right behavior.’" ―Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri
Right behavior is understanding our relationship to our Innermost, our Being. We can read about ethics, but, really, this is about our connection, what we learn from God. We cannot learn ethics from any book, but the book of our life, fundamentally. Study is important, so that we are inspired and so that we learn things that we should, but, the actual doing is knowing what rights God Almighty has over us, Allah, our Being, the Christ.
"It is reported that the Prophet said, ‘God Almighty and Glorious had educated me in refined behavior and made good my education.’”
"The essence of adab, the most beautiful and fitting, refined behavior, is the gathering together of all good traits (virtues, every time our Divine Mother annihilates an ego, we develop a virtue in its stead). The adib, the refined person, is he in whom are gathered all these good characteristics. From this is taken the word maduba, banquet, a name for the coming together (of such people)." ―Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri
In these studies, we often talk about receiving ordeals in the physical, but also the internal planes. If, for instance, you conquer an ordeal of the four elements—the ordeals of fire, earth, water and air—which are given to us by the angels, if we conquer those ordeals, then we receive feasts, banquets, celebrations in the astral plane, with the Cherubim, the angels who appear like children.
The ordeals of fire relate to criticism, if we are slandered and provoked; the ordeals of water are working with difficult circumstances, swimming against the current, of challenges; earth, which is financial troubles or difficulties, like a mountain is closing in on oneself; then, air relates to the mind. So, fire with the heart, water with sex, air with the mind and the earth related to the body. Ordeals relate to these elements, manifest as these elements. But, when you conquer ordeals, then you have a banquet, internally, a maduba, with a group of refined people, which are angels, like Rumi taught, "right conduct created the angels."
"I heard Abu Ali al-Daqqaq say, ‘Through his obedience the servant attains to paradise. Through refined conduct in obedience he attains to God.’ I also heard him say, ‘I saw someone who, during the prescribed prayer before God, wanted to stretch his hand to his nose to remove something that was in it. His hand was seized!’” ―Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri
When we practice, we should not move our body, our asana, our posture, is what this is teaching. We should not obstruct our practice with bad habits, such as that mentioned. But, really, it pertains to how we concentrate. When we sit to meditate and practice, we should not move our body, we should not do other things, we should not think of other things.
Ethics in the Doctrine of Unity
Now, again, emphasizing the nature of the divine law, the ethical discipline, we talk about the doctrine of unity, which in Islam is tawḥīd. Again, this is the saying that, "Allah is Allah, God is one." Or, as the Jews say in their Shema, when they pray in the synagogues, they close their eyes, "Shema Yisrael Adonai Eloheinu Echad," which means, "Hear, O Israel: the LORD is our God, the LORD is One." But, they place the word Adonai in the stead of Iod-Chavah, which they believe is too sacred to pronounce.
They close their eyes, meaning, like the veil of Muhammad, they do not look directly at God, showing subservience and obedience: "Hear, O Israel: Iod-Chavah is our God, Iod-Chavah is One." In Kabbalah, we talk about how God is a tri-unity: Father-Son-Holy Spirit, which is one light, which is Allah, emanating from the Ain Soph, through different levels of manifestation of that one light.
This is a very important scripture, this teaching from Al-Risalah:
"I heard Abu Hatim al-Sijistani say… that al-Jalajili al-Basri said, ‘For the testimony of unity (tawhid) to be in force, faith is prerequisite, for whoever has no faith cannot testify to the unity.’" ―Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri
What do we mean by faith? Faith is not believing in something, intellectually, emotionally, or having instinctual habit in the body. Faith is our direct cognizance of God, in our three brains, and out of the body in experiences.
If we do not have that experience of God, then, we cannot testify to the unity of our God, to know that divine presence as, really, a profound state of being.
"For faith to be in force the divine law is prerequisite, for whoever does not hold to the divine law has no faith and cannot testify to the unity." ―Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri
Someone who has no ethical discipline cannot know God. This is sad to see, in spiritual groups, where people are infected with pride and anger and resentment; they gossip, they lie, they speak badly about others. As the Apostle James said, it is really the tongue which produces all the suffering in the world. It is like a little rudder in a ship, which steers such great, giant vessels, such a little thing as the tongue... but, really, it directly influences all things, our relationships. But, those who do not follow the path of ethics cannot have faith. Meaning, those who fornicate cannot have faith; those who steal, who lie, who commit adultery, even if not physically, but in the mind, it means that we do not have faith. But, the more we work on those defects, then we will come to know God.
"For the divine law to be in force refined conduct is prerequisite, for whoever has not refined his conduct cannot hold to the divine law, has no faith, and cannot testify to the unity…
"Ibn Ata said, ‘Adab, refined behavior, is to hold fast to the commendable things.’ When asked, ‘What is the meaning of this?’ he replied, ‘It means you behave properly toward God both in secret and in public (again, both Al-Batin and Al-Zahir, in Arabic). If you are like that, you are a man of refined culture even if you are a foreigner.’ Then he recited:
"When she conversed, her speech was all graciousness, And when she kept silent, her silence was all fair." ―Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri
Samael Aun Weor says in The Revolution of the Dialectic, "It is as much a crime to speak when one must be silent as it is to be silent when one must speak." This is the same teaching.
Refined behavior is knowing, when we are with others, when to be silent, but also knowing when to speak, when it is necessary; we know this through intuition, following our heart, and being mindful of the commandments that were given to us, for refining our behavior.
This is probably one of the most important quotes that we find in this scripture, Al-Risalah:
"[Al-Jurayri] said that whoever does not establish awe of duty and vigilance in his relationship to God will not arrive at disclosure of the unseen or contemplation (mushahada) of the divine." ―Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri
What does it mean to have "awe of duty"? It is to feel that reverence when we sit to meditate, that we have a sense of fear, not egotistical fear, but a sense of longing and yearning for God, that inspires us to practice, every day.
To have awe of duty is to really establish a regiment of practice, and to have reverence for that and to maintain it.
Vigilance is self-observation, to not sleep as a psyche, but to observe our relationship to ourselves, to others and to our Being. For, whoever does not do this, will not arrive at "disclosure of the unseen," meaning, to tear the veil that Prophet Muhammad wears, that Isis wears. "Nor will we have contemplation (mushahada) of the divine," meaning, to bear witness of the Shahadah.
This is one of the pillars of Islam—there are five pillars in Islam, one of which is the declaration of faith, called the Shahadah. Muslims, traditionally, say, "Allah is Allah and Muhammad is His Prophet," and supposedly they enter into Islam, and become part of the tradition. But, this is not the real esoteric meaning here; the meaning is to know God in meditation, in a samadhi, without any filters to our perception—free consciousness, no ego present. That is mushahada, contemplation, to bear witness.
Another important quote regarding what refinement really means:
"I heard Abu Hatim al-Sijistani say that Abu-l-Nasr al-Tusi al-Sarraj said, ‘People have three levels of refinement. For the people of this world, refinement largely consists of eloquent speech and rhetoric, among with the memorization of sciences, of the names of kings, and of the poetry of the Arabs. For the people of the next world, refinement largely consists of training the ego and disciplining the body, preserving the limits of the law and abandoning desires.’" ―Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri
Having culture, intellectually... anybody can do that. But, such people do not work on their ego. But, a person of the next world, someone who is having astral experiences, do so because they are training their mind in ethics; disciplining the body to sit in one posture, in order to meditate, and observing the commandments of the ethical discipline we follow, and abandoning desires. This is essential. Renunciation of our desires is the key. Ethics is when, every moment, we do not act on a bad habit; we are abandoning those desires, we stop feeding them. That is really when we are cultivating this sense of self-observation and refinement.
"For the elite, refinement largely consists of cleansing the heart of vices (annihilating the ego, with the help of the Divine Mother), guarding inner secrets…" ―Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri
Meaning, if we have experiences in the astral plane, etc., we do not necessarily share with the whole world, but rather, typically, keep it to ourselves. Sometimes it is good to talk and discuss things, if we have questions. But, really, the most sacred experiences, we should not talk about.
"…being faithful to one’s promises…" ―Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri
We find that, to be "faithful to our promises," refers to having a continuity of purpose. If you have read Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology, you find that the Master Samael talks about the need for continuity of purpose. We have thousands of egos which all have different wills, ideas, which take us in different directions. But, in order to become a unity, tawhid, to express the unity of our God, we need to take that multiplicity and destroy those vices. That means to be faithful to our promises. We promise to our God to serve Him and Her, but, those who are not faithful to their promises, are identified with their defects. We call this, in Arabic, that which is split between God above and our demons below, a Hasnamuss; this is an esoteric term for a being with a split personality, which is all of us. We have God above, in ourselves, but, here we are in the physical plane as a demon... we are split. We need to have faith in our Being so that we can eliminate our imperfections and unite with God. Then, one is not split anymore, between heaven and hell. That is what it means to be faithful to our promise, to our Being, to the mission that our God has, to change.
"…protecting the present…" ―Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri
To be vigilant, here and now, and to never abandon self-observation.
"…not turning aside in thought along with refined behavior in the stations of the search…" ―Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri
Meaning, we don't let our thoughts distract us from being aware of God, because our God is with us, here and now, and we need to be aware of that. The "stations" refer to levels of development, initiation. As we are searching for God, we continue to develop more and more.
"…in the moments of presence with God, and in the stages of closeness to God.” ―Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri
Even if one is united with the Lord—like I said, even angels can fall. If they are at that level, they still must be ethical, and to not identify with their own mind, but to become one with the abstract Seity, the universal mind or consciousness, which we can only verify and really understand through experience.
The Principles of Karma
In terms of Karma, we talk about four principles. All this talk about ethics pertains to karma. If we produce certain causes, we will get certain effects. Tsong Khapa, who Samael Aun Weor said was the reincarnation of Buddha, came to teach in one of his three books called the Lamrim Chenmo, which is The Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment. He talks, in the first book, about four principles of karma, which are important to know.
To again emphasize, the word karma comes from the Sanskrit karman, "to act."
1. Actions produce related consequences.
This is something that seems simple, but if we analyze ourselves, we find that we typically do not really understand how our actions produce certain results.
2. The consequences are greater than the actions.
I know in Newtonian physics, it says that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. But, the truth is, if you throw a stone in a pool, that one ripple extends outward, and affects the entire lake. So, one positive action can benefit the world; one destructive action can affect everybody. We see this in the news, we hear about school shootings: one person can cause so much chaos. People emotionally distraught and disturbed can affect entire communities.
So, the consequence is always greater than the action. The Dalai Lama emphasized this point, when someone asked him, "How can we change the world if there is so much negativity going around?" And this Master Tenzin Gyatso said, "If you think you cannot change the world, think about when you're trying to sleep and there is a mosquito is bothering you. Such a little thing can make a big difference."
3. You cannot receive the consequence without committing its corresponding action.
Meaning, you cannot receive a certain karmic result if you did not produce the individual action. This is important to understand in alchemy, because I know many gnostics think that when someone is sexually united with their partner, they share karma. Well, the truth is, if one is married, one shares tendencies, psychologically, emotionally, physically, but, you cannot receive a result, if you did not produce the action. If, for instance, a person commits murder, it does not mean that the wife goes to jail, that is the way to think about it. But, if you produce a certain action, you get the consequences, no one else.
4. Once an action is performed, the consequence cannot be erased.
However, there is a superior law, which is grace. In accordance with Gnosticism, as the Master Samael says in Tarot and Kabbalah, a superior law always washes away an inferior law. So, even if we make a mistake, we can rectify it, if we follow our Being, to have upright conduct.
From the Bhagavad Gita, we find this teaching of Krishna, the Christ, with Arjuna. He talks about Karma Yoga, and the yoga of renunciation of action, which summarizes many of the points that we've made.
1. Renunciation of actions, O Krishna, Thou praisest, and again Yoga!
Tell me conclusively which is the better of the two." ―Bhagavad-Gita: Yoga of Renunciation of Action
So, first he talked about banning desires, then, next, yoga, union with God.
"The Blessed Lord (the Cosmic Christ, through Krisnha) said:
2. Renunciation and the Yoga of action both lead to the highest bliss;
but of the two, the Yoga of action is superior to the renunciation of action." ―Bhagavad-Gita: Yoga of Renunciation of Action
So, first, we need to learn to how to renounce our bad habits. But, then we need to learn how to act consciously. One thing is to restrain our defects from acting, but, once we have fully comprehended an ego, our Divine Mother annihilates it, and, in turn, we learn how to act in a superior way. A superior law washes away the inferior law. The law of mercy overcomes the law of the talion.
"3. He should be known as a perpetual Sannyasin who neither hates nor desires;"
A Sannyasin is someone with no ego, a real meditator…
"…for, free from the pairs of opposites, O mighty-armed Arjuna, he is easily set free from bondage!" ―Bhagavad-Gita: Yoga of Renunciation of Action
Meaning, discipline is when we overcome the battle of the opposites in our mind, the battle of the antitheses; thought/anti-thought, concept/anti-concept, thesis/antithesis, when the mind is constantly struggling in duality, and instead we find unity, tawhid.
"4. Children, not the wise, speak of knowledge and the Yoga of action or the performance of action as though they are distinct and different; he who is truly established in one obtains the fruits of both." ―Bhagavad-Gita: Yoga of Renunciation of Action
So, children—people who are ignorant, who have no direct knowledge—talk about yoga and these traditions, without really understanding that they are two aspects of one thing, a conscious principle.
"5. That place which is reached by the Sankhyas or the Jnanis (those who have Jnana, knowledge) is reached by the (Karma) Yogis. He sees who sees knowledge and the performance of action (Karma Yoga) as one." ―Bhagavad-Gita: Yoga of Renunciation of Action
Again, knowledge is what we gain directly from restraining our mind, and performing good action: upright thought, upright feeling, upright action in our three brains.
"6. But renunciation, O mighty-armed Arjuna, is hard to attain without Yoga; the Yoga-harmonised sage proceeds quickly to Brahman!" ―Bhagavad-Gita: Yoga of Renunciation of Action
Brahman is the Absolute, the Christ, another name of Allah.
"7. He who is devoted to the path of action, whose mind is quite pure, who has conquered the self, who has subdued his senses (through pratyahara, attaining silence of mind) and who has realised his Self as the Self in all beings (the Innermost Atman, our Inner God as the God within all there is), though acting, he is not tainted." ―Bhagavad-Gita: Yoga of Renunciation of Action
When we learn how to act, in a conscious way—first restraining the mind, then acting to the virtues we develop—we in turn learn to see God within all beings, and we do not commit sin, we do not acquire negative consequences.
So, like the lotus flower that emerges from the swamp, it is pure, not affected by the muddiness of the waters, it is the same thing with our life. Our soul should blossom like a flower above the filthiness of our mind. Every time we act consciously, we stop acquiring negative consequences.
There is mention of the Blue Race in different traditions, specifically within a book called Gazing at the Mystery by Samael Aun Weor. In this next image, we find three colors: blue, yellow and red. Blue relates to the Father; yellow relates to the Son, the Christ; and, red is the Holy Spirit. So, Krishna is really the three primary forces above, Father-Son-Holy Spirit. But there is a race of blue men mentioned by Samael Aun Weor, it is true. But the deeper meaning is that blue relates to the Father, Kether. So, this is Kether-Chokmah-Binah, with Arjuna on the battlefield of the Mahabharata, the Bhagavad Gita, with Arjuna which is Tiphereth, the human soul, our willpower.
"8. “I do nothing at all”—thus will the harmonised knower of Truth think—seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, eating, going, sleeping, breathing…" ―Bhagavad-Gita: Yoga of Renunciation of Action
We must feel that we are not doing anything from our ego; to not act with desire. But, to let our God act through us. In this case, one’s actions come from the Being. So, in a sense, one does nothing, but the will of the Lord.
"9. Speaking, letting go, seizing, opening and closing the eyes—convinced that the senses move among the sense-objects.
"10. He who performs actions, offering them to Brahman and abandoning attachment, is not tainted by sin as a lotus leaf by water.
"11. Yogis, having abandoned attachment, perform actions only by the body, mind, intellect and also by the senses, for the purification of the self." ―Bhagavad-Gita: Yoga of Renunciation of Action
Here, intellect should really be "Buddhi." They translated it as intellect, which we think of as the intellectual brain, the mind, but, really intellect, in Sanskrit, is a common translation for Buddhi. Buddhi is the Divine Soul, the consciousness, Geburah. Every time we act with purification of the soul, we are controlling our body, mind and soul.
"12. The united one (the well poised or the harmonised), having abandoned the fruit of action, attains to the eternal peace; the non-united only (the unsteady or the unbalanced), impelled by desire and attached to the fruit, is bound." --Bhagavad-Gita: Yoga of Renunciation of Action
So, the non-united, those who are unsteady and unbalanced are identified with ego, desire.
"13. Mentally renouncing all actions and self-controlled, the embodied one rests happily in the nine-gated city, neither acting nor causing others (body and senses) to act." ―Bhagavad-Gita: Yoga of Renunciation of Action
Again, "nine-gated" relates to the nine superior Sephiroth, refers to the human being. We find this in the teachings of Ibn Arabi, as well, the Sufi Master, but also here in the Bhagavad Gita.
The fruit is the results of past mistakes, which is the abuse of the Garden of Eden. The Tree of Knowledge represents the sexual energy. To "eat the fruit" is to orgasm, to abuse the energy. The fruit of fornication is bitterness, suffering. Likewise, each action should be one born from purity of mind, of chastity.
Willpower and Superior Action
We find the image of the Prophet Muhammad, with the veil covering his head, illuminated with fire; meaning, he has raised the Kundalini up to the brain, from the base of the spine, and is fully illuminated with that sexual power.
So, to emphasize how the yoga of renunciation and the yoga of action are united, I'd like to explain another quote from Al-Qushayri, which emphasizes this duality between Being and soul, and how we need to learn to not do our own will, but the will of our Being; to renounce our own habits and desires, and to let the will of the Being determine our actions.
"Iradah, the will to find God, is the beginning of the path of spiritual travelers, the first title given to those who are determined to reach God Most High (Allah, may he be praised and exalted, as we say in Islam). This attribute is only called iradah because will is the preface to every undertaking. What the servant does not will, he does not carry out." ―Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri
We will not produce the necessary consequences, if we do not fulfill the action. Karma is dual; if we behave negatively, we receive negative results, if we act positively, with the consciousness, we receive conscious, positive results.
"Since this is the start of the enterprise of one who travels the path of God Almighty and Glorious, it is called 'will' by analogy to the resolution involved at the beginning of everything else.
"According to etymology, the disciple is 'he who possess will,' just as the knower is 'he who possesses knowledge (marifah, Gnosis)' because the word belongs to the class of derived nouns. But in Sufi usage, the disciple is he who possesses no will at all! Here, one who does not abandon will cannot be called a disciple (meaning, egotistical will; one who does not renounce their desires cannot be a disciple), just as, linguistically, one who does not possess will cannot be called a disciple." ―Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri
What willpower are we talking about? This is something that we need to observe. Are we following our egotistical desires? Or, are we following the will of our Being? We need to both abandon desire and to act from the will of God, as Krishna taught Arjuna.
It is this understanding of cause and effect in our daily life, that we understand the law of interdependence in Buddhism, which is called dependent arising, or dependent origination:
No phenomena is separate, independent of others. Even our psychology: our psychological states are determined by their relationship to external events or impressions.
So, we find that, in Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology, we need to develop internal states in relation to external events; to find the relationship between them.
"When this exists, that comes to be; with the arising of this, that arises.
"When this does not exist, that does not come to be; with the cessation of this, that ceases." ―Majjhima Nikāya 79:8
It seems simple, but it is very profound. If we examine ourselves, in our daily life we do not see how our negative habits produce wrong consequences, typically. But, if we are observant of that, and we really understand this principle, fully, we will become an angel. An angel knows good and evil, in balance, in harmony.
To really understand how certain causes produce certain effects, completely, is to be self-realized. Do not think that one day we will simply "get it" and it will be over. Even the gods are balancing those forces, knowing how cause and effect relates; it is an eternal law. So, as I said, ethics pertains even to the gods, but at a very high degree; something that we cannot get at this level, but, if we have experiences, we can get glimpses.
"[The body and mind] cannot come to be by their own strength,
"Nor can they maintain themselves by their own strength;
"Relying for support on other states…
"They come to be with others as condition.
"They are produced by… something other than themselves." ―Buddhaghosa, Vissudhimagga 18:36
Every internal state is a response to external impressions. You cannot separate one from the other. Usually, when we identify with our mind, we feel like everyone is outside of ourselves, and that we are separate. We have to become clairvoyant and understand that our thoughts relate to other people, and that other people’s thoughts affect ourselves.
As Samael Aun Weor said in Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology, the one who learns to appropriately match internal states with external events marches on the path of success. For, as the Buddha said, in the Majjhima Nikāya:
"Now this has been said by the Blessed One: ‘One who sees dependent arising sees the Dhamma (the Dharma, the law, the instruction, the Shariah, the Torah, the commandments); one who sees the Dhamma sees dependent arising.’" ―Majjhima Nikāya
To really know ethics is to understand our psychological relationship to other things, in every instant, and not to identify with our mind. If you want to live happily, we need to learn how to cultivate our internal states and to make them more appropriate for the external events that we perceive. This is dependent arising: an impression emerges and enters my psyche, and I react egotistically… or I respond consciously, it depends. If an impression of a hurtful word enters one's psyche, anger emerges. That is the reaction; that is the egotistical response. If we curtail that, and separate our psyche from that, and observe that defect in action, and respond with love towards the aggressor, that is developing a superior law, the Dharma.
To know the relationship of cause and effect—internal state, external event—is the work of a master. To be a master is to fully understand that law, to a degree, we could say. There are levels amongst the masters. But, to really understand that law, to be self-realized is to understand how our psychological states effect our external events, and how they relate; especially how we relate to people. This relates to clairvoyance and telepathy: understanding other people’s minds and thoughts, or seeing them directly, with our spiritual perception.
In this image, we have Nagarjuna, who talked about the fundamentals of the middle way. In the Mūlamadhyamakakārikā, he discusses that it is understanding of cause and effect within oneself that we find the relation of how phenomena are empty, that they are not independently existing of themselves. When we understand how our internal states are related to external events, and we develop conscious states through ethics, we find that we are in turn understanding how egotistical desires are really empty; they are not substantially real. We have them, but, at the same time, we must understand that these phenomena really do not have any absolute existence. Anger emerges whenever a person insults us; so, that ego is dependent on that impression in order to emerge. Eventually, that anger goes away or disappears, so we can see that it is really not eternal: there is no eternal self there. Only God, Atman is eternal. But, even god is dependent upon the Absolute, we could say.
So, we say that all phenomena really do not have intrinsic existence; they are empty. When we understand this emptiness, the pristine, luminous nature of our consciousness, we see our defects and desires really do not have any substantiality.
"That which arises dependently
"We explain as emptiness.
"This [emptiness] is dependent designation.
"Just this is the middle way." ―Nāgārjuna, Mūlamadhyamakakārikā
Cause and effect. Ethics is how we understand emptiness, which is God. God is empty of form; it does not depend on anything; the Christ does not depend on anything, but is luminous light, intelligence, perception, without filter. But, to understand how certain actions produce certain results is the work of dependent origination.
"Because there is no phenomenon
"That is not dependently arisen,
"There is no phenomenon
"That is not empty." ―Nāgārjuna Mūlamadhyamakakārikā 24.18-19
Impressions are impermanent; they come and go, they are not stable. And, it is by understanding how the instability of our internal states relate to external events is how we develop comprehension, which is emptiness, cognizance; not a nihilism, an abstract negation of one’s existence, but a type of comprehension and perception which is free of conditioning of the mind, free of obstruction.
Lastly, Swami Sivananda, explains the following advice, that I want to relate to you.
"Do not imagine that you are a great initiate and that you only have to sit in meditation and enter into Samadhi. You will have a terrible downfall. Even after years of practice, you will find you have not progressed an inch forward because there are deep within you lurking desires and cravings which are far beyond your reach. Be humble. Make a searching analysis of your heart and mind.
"Even if you are really a first-class aspirant, think you are an aspirant of the lowest class and practice the eightfold steps (Yama and Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, Samadhi). The more time you spend in the first steps, Yama and Niyama, ethics, the less will be the time needed to attain perfection in meditation." —Swami Sivananda
In order to understand Christ, which is empty of form, we need to have ethical discipline, as we have been mentioning.
"It is the preparation that takes very long, but do not wait for perfection in ethics in order to take the higher practices of the path. Try to get established in ethics and at the same time practice the other steps (such as concentration, pranayama, maintaining a relaxed posture, etc.). The two must go hand in hand, then, success will be rapid." ―Swami Sivananda
This is something to think about, in terms of our understanding of our own discipline.
Questions and Answers
Student: This is kind of how I feel. I am not a saint, but I am just working to build up my practice.
Instructor: And, as Michelangelo said, perfection isn’t a trifle. Rumi said, if we can get up early for 40 mornings, to practice, that will contribute to our growing wholeness as a psyche, in development, like an embryo of a child that is giving form. Little by little, we develop the soul: with patience possess ye your souls, as Jesus taught. The way that we develop ourselves is with patient discipline, ethics, restraining our mind, and then meditating; combining those two things. Don't wait for perfection in ethics in order to practice, they go hand in hand, together.
Student: So, if I get this right, from this lecture, the most important thing for us to work on is our ethics?
Instructor: In conjunction with our practice. Ethics is really the foundation for meditation. If we want to meditate, to have a clear mind, we can't be killing, stealing, or doing other negative things. On the one hand is the physical level of application, but, more importantly there is the psychological aspect: how we react internally, in our mind, in curtailing those habits.
First, physically we cannot do those things. Then, psychologically, we need to curtail those habits.
Student: I did have a question about the work, regarding the four principles of karma. The third one, which is that the consequence cannot be received by anyone that is not making the action. Does that mean the return consequence of the karma? Because an action can have consequences that expand beyond the person that committed that action.
Instructor: Yes. For instance, if you are married, if your wife commits murder, you don't go to jail, she does.
Student: Right, but your wife might suffer the pain of you leaving her. Is that a karma that she acquires along the way, or is that just collateral damage?
Instructor: It is part of the consequences of her actions. That shows that everything is related; nothing is separate. But, in terms of receiving an illness, disease or punishment as a result of acting wrong, no one else can receive that, but a person who deserves it, who committed those wrong actions. The law is the law, as we say in these teachings; the law is always fulfilled. In order to receive something, you must perform the action.
Student: So, the consequence and the action are interdependent as well?
Instructor: Yes. Understanding the relationship of right action and wrong action is understanding karma, and, understanding how phenomena are empty, in and of themselves. We must understand the connection between things, especially our internal states and external events.
That is how we act well: we stop behaving in mistaken ways. This is the work of self-observation.
Student: And that is the superior law? Of getting out of the turning of cause and effect? Extracting yourself from that?
Instructor: And, the thing with this is that, it is like when you learn to act in a conscious way, one does not acquire karma; if you do not sin, you will won't be blemished, you won't receive bad actions. But, we will be like the lotus that hovers above the waters, as Krishna said in the Bhagavad Gita.
Instructor: And that is the thing; we must bear that, patiently. We bear it, we're patient, we're disciplined, and we work on those elements that need to be disintegrated, then, we pay our debts and in turn, purify our mind. That is really the purpose of karma; if we receive certain challenges in our life, if we are chaste, it means that we are going to receive that karma in an objective way, in a different way, than someone who is fornicating.
Student: But, even the masters suffer greatly, right?
Instructor: At a higher level.
Student: So, are they suffering because of karma still? Or are they suffering for a different reason?
Instructor: The suffering of a god is different from us. One could reach the Ain Soph, in Kabbalistic terms, return to the Being and to the Absolute, to a certain degree, with knowledge, and it is bliss; but at the same time, even angels have to balance their karmic transactions, at a very high level, in order to gain the right to enter into the Ain, the Absolute. There are levels of development. Masters can suffer as a result of wanting and waiting to be admitted into the Absolute.
Student: So, their bliss is interdependent on their suffering?
Instructor: Their bliss is a result of being united with God to a level. But, suffering, at that degree, is very, very different. It is a difficult thing for me to convey or to explain. It is something that, if you have an experience at that level in a Samadhi, then you may get it. We know that even the gods suffer; but, not like we do. Our suffering is very intense.
Student: I was thinking of someone like Aberamentho, who went through that trial. He gave that up himself, right? That wasn't karma for him? That was him willingly walking into suffering, to be resurrected, right?
Instructor: And to give an example for what we need to do. He fully conquered suffering. He is a being that went beyond the Law and is an inhabitant of the highest divinity. He is absolutely perfect. He is teaching other masters how to reach that degree, known as a Paramarthasattya. Paramartha means absolute cognizance, and Satya is the essence. So, someone who has full knowledge of many infinites. An infinite is a collection of billions of galaxies, so, Aberamentho is really a rare being.
There are degrees among masters and there are degrees among initiates. Some masters suffer because they want more knowledge, even if they are perfect, to a degree. It is a subtle thing, but their suffering is very different from ours, and very difficult to comprehend, unless we really have a Samadhi at that level, and to see what it is like to be at that degree of consciousness.
Student: Is there also a type of suffering that the high masters will go through, for humanity, on our behalf?
Instructor: It is suffering for a master... for instance, we are going to do a course on The Voice of the Silence; at the end of that scripture, it talks about how, when one self-realizes, one becomes another brick in the guardian wall. Each brick is master which composes an army of angels that really work to help humanity. It is a path of suffering, really, but, also bliss, because after many eternities of helping humanity and suffering for their benefit, to help them to self-realize, they will eventually gain the right to enter into the Absolute.
Blavatsky transcribed that scripture from Senzar, an ancient language, and it conveys a lot of suffering on the part of these masters who try to help humanity. Eventually, they'll gain the right, after serving from many cosmic days—if they self-realize, and they keep working and manifesting physically, or internally, to help others attain the state of the angels... but, that is the path of an angel, in order to enter the Absolute. An angel is a self-realized Master, but, they may not have the right to enter into the Ain, which is where a being like Aberamentho (Jesus) entered. He is a Paramarthasattya, he is above an angel. So, there are hierarchies.
Those beings like angels suffer because they are serving and serving, but humanity is ignorant. So, they serve many humanities, for different cosmic eras. But, eventually, if they don't let themselves fall, they'll eventually have the right to enter the Absolute. The problem is, many of them fall, because they are tempted. So, that is why ethics does not finish when you have annihilated your ego; even if you have no ego, you can get tempted to do wrong things. The mind is still there. It is not a lunar mind, but a solar mind; it is a different thing. To learn the difference, we must have that body inside and to really know what it is like, and to meditate and to have experiences.
The Gnostic Academy of Chicago
Free public lectures, meditation classes, courses, articles, and lecture transcriptions.