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 Chicagoland Gnostic Academy.
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 following transcription is from an audio lecture on Gnostic Meditation, a course originally delivered live at the Chicagoland Gnostic Academy.
I felt it would be good for the new year to really analyze what meditation is, and to really study it in a didactic manner. As we say in this tradition, meditation is the daily bread of the Gnostic. It is our daily practice. Without understanding how to meditate, how to experience the reality of our Being, we in turn cannot experience the reality of our Being. So, I wanted to really touch upon what this science is and how to really effectively practice. Because without meditation, we cannot attain anything.
Some people think that meditation is a means to have experiences, which is partially true, to be able to speak directly to God, our Being, such as in an astral experience or out of the body. But the truth is, as Samael Aun Weor stated, that when we meditate what we seek is information. We seek to know, to investigate, to discern our internal states, any scripture we are studying, and, more importantly, our defects. As he says in The Great Rebellion:
“In life the only thing of importance is a radical, total and definitive change. The rest frankly is of no importance at all. Meditation is fundamental when we sincerely yearn for such a change. In no way do we want any type of meditation that is insignificant, superficial, or in vain. We must become serious and abandon the nonsense that abounds in cheap pseudo-esotericism and pseudo-occultism. We must know how to take things seriously, how to change if what we really and truly want is not to fail in the esoteric work.” —Samael Aun Weor, The Great Rebellion
This is probably for me one of the most poignant statements in that book. We have to learn how to really take things seriously, meaning we have to really dedicate our time and our effort to understand, what does it mean to meditate? It's a mysterious science that we cannot comprehend in its depth, without the balance of study and practice.
That is beautifully illustrated in this image. In the center we have Chenrezig, which is Christ, otherwise known as Avalokitesvara. To his right we see Manjushri wielding a sword, and in his left hand, he has his scripture. Typically in Tibetan Buddhist paintings, in the Mahayana or Vajrayana tradition, we find Manjushri wielding the sword of perception, in order to cut through delusion. So that sword, while representing the Kundalini, is really a representation of how with our perception we need to cut through illusion. As the Master Samael explained, we need to learn how to receive information. We need to learn how to perceive, to know ourselves. The fact that the sword represents Prajna, perception, wisdom, is really integral and emphatic of how we can experience our Being. Prajna in Sanskrit means wisdom, and wisdom comes from the etymological vis, dom, vision and dom, kingdom or power, the power to perceive.
What is important is that in his left hand, he also carries a scripture. So, on the right hand, he has practice, he has effort, daily exercises in meditation and practice, cutting through the illusions of self. Then in his left hand he has scripture, meaning we need to balance our knowledge and our being, as the master Samael explains I believe in either The Great Rebellion or Revolutionary Psychology.
“Now, it is completely impossible to experience the Being, the Innermost, the reality, without becoming true technical and scientific masters of that mysterious science called meditation. It is completely impossible to experience the Being, the Innermost, the reality, without having reached a true mastery of the quietude and silence of the mind.” —Samael Aun Weor, The Spiritual Power of Sound
This is again beautifully emphasized in this image. For Manjushri, representing occult wisdom, we have Mahakala on the left of Chenrezig, surrounded by flames. In Tantra, he is known as a wrathful deity. Maha means great, kala reminds us of Kali, the goddess of death in Hinduism. He represents severity of the gods, a wrathful energy, which is directed towards the pulverization of the ego, and really demonstrates for us the type of willpower that we need if we want to really conquer ourselves.
In order to know Christ, even our inner Buddha, our inner Being, we need to cultivate wisdom, Prajna, perception, and work with the sexual energy. Because that fire illuminating Mahakala is representative of the Holy Spirit, the sexual power, which when we harness for our consciousness can pulverize our ego. For if we use that sexual energy in a chaste way, Mahakala then works in us to pulverize our defects. But if we are lustful and if we fornicate, Mahakala turns on us, because we are establishing and fortifying our ego.
Notice in the center of the image, we have Chenrezig holding a prayer bead. These are used for Japa meditation, mantra recitation, and represent remembrance. To know God, we need to really work with discernment, Prajna, wisdom, to perceive ourselves and to always cultivate the use of the sexual power.
Now, in this next image we have a Sufi master praying to his Innermost or his inner Christ, Allah, signified by the Arabic letters. We emphasize that when we meditate what we seek is to know and really extract information from any given object of concentration.
“To experience the truth is fundamental, and it is not by means of the exertion that we can experience the truth.” —Samael Aun Weor, The Revolution of the Dialectic
Many people think when they sit to meditate that they have to strain their mind or that when they practice, it is like a checklist: first I need to concentrate, then I need to do this, then I need to do this. They make it a rigid system, when it is really a dynamic and fluidic process. We do not need exertion, do not need to exert the mind, to know God.
“The truth is not the result, the truth is not the product of exertion. The truth comes to us by means of profound comprehension.” —Samael Aun Weor, The Revolution of the Dialectic
This is really what we seek is to comprehend, but we do not do it with the mind. Our mind is our chief obstacle. We typically have this assumption, and many Westerners assume, that when meditating, we take this habit of our Western society into our practice where we are thinking all the time or trying to resolve a problem with the intellect. Comprehension comes to us when we do not think, when we cease or exhaust the process of rationalization.
“We need to exert ourselves in order to work in the Great Work and to transmute our creative energies.” —Samael Aun Weor, The Revolution of the Dialectic
We need to work with Mahakala, Binah, the Holy Spirit.
“We need to exert ourselves to live, to struggle and to tread the path of the integral revolution, but we do not need to exert ourselves in order to comprehend the truth.” —Samael Aun Weor, The Revolution of the Dialectic
As we have explained many times, comprehension is that spark in which we see things in a completely new way. So when we sit to meditate, and we analyze what our state of mind is, if we do not taste that flavor of a new perception, it means that our mind is murky. It is diluted. However, actually this type of perception of Manjushri, the sword of perception, is very clear, pristine, cognizant, without filters. This of course comes in levels. Manjushri, you see, is holding the sword, and we think that, well, when someone goes to battle they need to exert themselves. Physically this is true. But when we go to war against ourselves, our ego, when we comprehend and self-observe our inner defects, we do not need to exert ourselves, because that is the mind. Comprehension is that intuitive insight which arrives when we see our defects or see a defect in action, and we do not rationalize, justify it or condemn it. We see it for what it is.
This is really the beginning, chastity and perception: sexual purity and Prajna, wisdom to perceive. Comprehension of any defect and meditation does not require that we exert ourselves in any way. When we stop thinking, when we are just open to the new, then insight comes. But willpower is necessary in these teachings too, so there is an interesting dynamic that this relates to, which is very beautifully explained in the Al-Risalah by a Sufi master, Al-Qushayri.
“Iradah, the will to find God, is the beginning of the path of spiritual travelers. The first title given of those who are determined to reach God Most High. This attribute is only called iradah, because will is the preface to every undertaking. When the servant does not will, he does not carry out. 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.” —Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri
Now, Manjushri, it seems like he is using effort to cut through illusion. In the beginning for us when we sit to meditate, we need to exert efforts in our consciousness to pay attention, not the mind. Exertion is of the mind, but we need a type of conscious effort in order to restrain our thoughts and our mind in the moment. The type of willpower that the Sufis are talking here, relates to Tiphereth in Kabbalah, the Human Soul. The human soul has to exert herself to transmute and to remember the Being. But the more that we develop our consciousness, the less effort it takes.
I remember in the case of the Master Samael Aun Weor, who stated that in the beginning of his work, he had to exert tremendous efforts to remember himself and to travel out of his body to go to the superior worlds. Later, since his center of gravity shifted from Klipoth, having annihilated those defects, it was then placed in the superior worlds. So then he said, “Now it takes me tremendous effort to stay in my physical body because I always want to travel to other dimensions,” while he's talking and doing other things. But for him to be in the superior worlds does not take effort. And that's the type of development that we can all acquire, where it doesn't take effort to go out of our body. It isn't difficult.
Again, I emphasize, exertion is of the mind, but we need willpower. So there's a balance here and there's seemingly a contradiction, as the Sufis pointed out.
“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! 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
The meaning of this is, if you think about the story of Jesus, he said, “Father, if it would be possible, take this cup of bitterness from me, but not my will, but Thine be done.” We need to do the will of our Being. That means that we have no will of our own. It is then our Innermost acting through us. But in the beginning, we need to have discipline, willpower to meditate and to practice every day if what we want to experience is the Being.
Remember that Christ in his crucifixion wore the crown of thorns, which is a representation of willpower: Christ's will. We don't need egotistical will; we need Christ's will. That's the explanation on this dichotomy. We need willpower, but we don't need willpower—we really need Christ's will, but we don't need egotistical exertions in our mind. We'll never know God that way.
Question: It's like we need a will to have no will?
Instructor: Exactly. We need willpower in our consciousness. Willpower in Kabbalah is Tiphereth, the center of the Tree of Life, the heart. It is by our heart that we are defined.
To know God, we need to cease thinking, but we need discipline in our consciousness. There is a saying in The Great Rebellion that “we can only awaken the consciousness based on conscious efforts and voluntary sufferings.” He says no matter how much you exert mechanical energy in your physical body, we will never awaken our soul. Neither if we transmute or work with vital energy extensively, that alone will not awaken our consciousness. Neither if we work with psychic energy, astral, emotional forces, that alone, even if we multiplied those forces to infinity, that won't awaken us. It is the same thing with mental energy, Netzach, mind. Even if we exert ourselves in mental disciplines of a very severe type, that won't awaken us. Neither if we multiply our willpower a million times, such as being like a fakir, sleeping on a bed of nails. Going back to the four ways, we find that the monk works with emotional energy singularly, exclusively, the yogi works with the mind, and the fakir works with willpower and mechanical energy. That alone will not awaken anything in us. But if we work with our consciousness, through conscious efforts and voluntary sufferings, meaning we work with our Being to exert our consciousness to work, that is how we will awaken and perceive something new. That is when all the other lower Sephiroth work in conjunction with the consciousness. Because the consciousness needs to know how to use willpower, Tiphereth, the mind, emotions, vitality, etc. So we need that type of discipline, which is not subjective but something that we can only verify by really practicing it.
Simplicity and Discernment
The foundations of this direct perception pertain to that sword of Manjushri, discernment. We find here that in this image the Christ holding a child. We emphasize many times that we need to have the mind of a child, to be really simple, and not constantly rationalizing or intellectualizing on a daily basis, on a moment-to-moment basis. Children don't argue, debate, theorize, believe—they simply know. Especially at a young age, many children are very clairvoyant before their ego integrates into their psyche as they develop their personality.
“The discernment is the direct perception of the truth about the process of conceptual selection. When the process of selection divides the mind in the battle of the antitheses, then the internal images are hidden like stars behind the stormy clouds of reasoning. You must learn to think with the heart and feel with the head.” —Samael Aun Weor, Igneous Rose
This is the wisdom of a heart, the heart doctrine, in which we will learn to become real masters of meditation. To think with the heart and not to let our mind ramble or label or identify things every moment. If we find meditation is difficult, it is because throughout our day we struggle with this problem where the intellect is too active. The way that we pacify the intellect is that we learn to think with the heart and to feel with the head.
“Our mind must become exquisitely sensitive and delicate. The mind must liberate itself from all types of bonds in order to comprehend life, free in its movement.” —Samael Aun Weor, Igneous Rose
The Master Samael emphasizes that thought should flow serenely like a river in the jungle. He doesn't mean that we necessarily stop thinking; it means that the ego does not abuse our intellectual center. If we are very observant, we will see how the ego really abuses the energies of the intellect, the mind. The only way that we can know that is by discerning that, how that ego functions in a given instant. It needs to be sensitive and delicate, so that it can be an instrument of God.
We can see that in this image Christ, here is Chenrezig, is holding the soul and it is on his lap, because Christ the being is the master and the child is our consciousness.
“We admire boldness,” meaning we need to really have a lot of willpower, again, to be bold, to really have the courage to go against the entire current that is swallowing this humanity, and which on a daily moment-to-moment basis, tempts us and pulls us to suffer and to go with the flow.
“Desires of all types are bonds for the mind. Prejudice and preconception are bonds for the understanding. Schools are cages where the mind remains a prisoner,” not only referring to physical schools, but spiritual groups.
The only purpose of a group is to teach you how to meditate, to really learn how to practice. Unfortunately, there's a tendency in many groups to feel that having a large number of students or a large group means that the people are successful, the practitioners are successful. But that is really a herd mentality, and typically, a lot of these individuals treat spiritual groups as a social club. The problem is everyone needs to learn how to meditate, otherwise flag, country, politics, beliefs, religion, groups, these structures limit our understanding of really investigating seriously our psyche.
“We must always learn to live in the present because life is always an internal instant. Our mind must convert itself into a flexible and delicate instrument for the Innermost. Our mind must convert itself into a child.” This is from Igneous Rose.
If we remember Jesus in the Gospels was riding on the donkey into the heavenly Jerusalem, it refers to how we need to dominate our mind. The way that we do so, how we develop esoteric discipline of mind is precisely in the practice of meditation, which is given in different ways, such as by Patanjali or in this more synthesized version by Samael Aun Weor.
“Oriental wisdom practices meditation in the following order:
“Asana, which is posture of the body,
“Pratyahara, thinking in nothing.
“Dharana, concentration on only one thing.
“Dhyana, profound meditation.
“Samadhi, ecstasy.” —Samael Aun Weor, Igneous Rose
Dhyana refers to when we are extracting information and perceiving something new about the object of our concentration. Samadhi is comprehension, to see, to perceive without the ego. Because the word ecstasy comes from ecstatuo in Latin, meaning to stand outside oneself, to stand outside one's subjective perception, the ego.
“It is necessary to place the body in the most comfortable position, asana. It is indispensable to blank the mind before concentrating, Pratyahara.” —Samael Aun Weor, Igneous Rose
Typically when most people begin meditation or have been attempting this for years, these are the two difficulties that everybody faces. First, the body is uncomfortable, we want to move, we want to adjust ourselves. Or if we do find a position that is comfortable, the mind continues to think and to talk and talk and to chatter. So we need to learn how to have a silent mind, which is one of the first steps to learning how to concentrate. Many people try to meditate without knowing how to concentrate, without knowing how to quiet their mind, without having any type of stability in that manner.
“It is urgent to know how to fix the mind on only one object, which is concentration, Dharana. Then we profoundly reflect in the content of the object itself, Dhyana. Thus, through this way we reach ecstasy, samadhi or comprehension. All of these esoteric disciplines of the mind must saturate our daily life.” —Samael Aun Weor, Igneous Rose
These practices have to be implemented in every second of our existence. We need to have a discipline of observing ourselves, moment by moment. Because if we don't, then when we sit to meditate, the mind is in chaos.
Now, here is a quote for you, a saying by Swami Sivananda, who was a great Resurrected Master in this tradition on the importance of following these steps:
“If you want samadhi you must know well the process of Dhyana, meditation. If you want Dhyana, meditation, you must know accurately the method of Dharana, concentration. If you want Dharana, concentration, you must know perfectly the method of Pratyahara, silence of mind. If you want Pratyahara, you must know Pranayama, sexual transmutation. If you want Pranayama, you must know asana well, posture. Before going to the practice of asana, you should have yama and niyama.” —Swami Sivananda, Kundalini Yoga
Yama means to do or yama can also mean precept, I believe. Precepts and to do or not to do, one's ethical discipline.
“There is no use jumping into Dhyana (meditation) without having the various preliminary practices.” —Swami Sivananda, Kundalini Yoga
Yama and niyama means good and bad action, meaning the ten commandments or the ten virtuous or the ten non-meritorious actions of Buddhism. Meaning, don't consume intoxicants, don't fornicate is the primary one, never abuse this sexual energy, never steal, commit adultery, kill—things on a physical level which are very basic but psychologically these are things that we do all the time. The only way to really access even having a body that is still, we need to have discipline in our daily life. Because there are many people who attend meditation, while continuing to fornicate. The problem with that is those energies are being expelled, the mind being turbulent, one can't even sit down to meditate. The body is easily agitated. So that is a preliminary step. If you want success in meditation, we need to really fulfill yama and niyama, precepts and restraints of one's mind.
The Foundations of Meditation
“The great ascetics of meditation are the great Sannyasin, the cosmic understanding, whose flames glow within the igneous rose of the universe. It is urgent to acquire absolute chastity, tenacity, serenity and patience in order to be a Sannyasin of the mind.” —Samael Aun Weor, Igneous Rose
This is the foundation. Physically we need to learn how to be chaste, we need to learn how to have tenacity in our practices, we need to learn how to be serene even in the most difficult circumstances. We need to learn how to be patient, to endure suffering as Master Aberamentho in this image represents in the garden of Gethsemane before the beginning of his passion.
It all begins by developing sexual purity, willpower, peace of heart and mind and the endurance to consciously suffer the consequences of our previous actions, meaning that we learn to endure suffering. It is a very enigmatic statement by the Master Samael, but something that we need to really come to know in depth, where he says, “Consciousness can only awaken through conscious efforts and voluntary sufferings.” It doesn't mean that we go looking for problems and we get ourselves in trouble. It means that in our particular circumstances in our daily life, we learn to suffer willingly when we get criticized or our pride is hurt, to feel that sense of discomfort, psychologically speaking, and to not run away from it, but as the Master Samael explains, “There is the need to remain indifferent before praise and slander, before triumph and failure.” Meaning, we see the impression of someone insulting us and our pride is hurt. We have to willingly suffer the consequences of having created that pride, that shame in our psyche and to extract our understanding from it, to see it in action. Our conscious efforts are when we are separating ourselves into observer and observed. We have to see ourselves for what we are.
“It is necessary to change the process of reasoning for the beauty of comprehension.” —Samael Aun Weor, Igneous Rose
The more that we develop Pratyahara, silence of mind, comprehension is spontaneous. It comes without any exertion, any effort. It comes to us when we cease thinking, but the only way that we can cease thinking or over-rationalizing is working with sexual power. Because before Pratyahara we work with Pranayama, mantra. Before that, we have to maintain our vow of chastity.
“In order to become a Master of Samadhi, it is urgent to cultivate a rich interior life.” —Samael Aun Weor, Igneous Rose
It sounds pessimistic if we are really honest, and we observe our psychology throughout the day. What does it mean to have a rich interior life? To be rich psychologically is when we are comprehending ourselves, when we are filled with understanding of the causes of our suffering. If we go throughout a day not perceiving what in us makes us suffer, it means that we are poor. This is not the meaning of the “poor in spirit” who are blessed. Instead, to be rich psychologically speaking is to be working in our selves.
“The Gnostic who does not know how to smile has less control of himself like the one who only knows the guffaw of Aristophanes.” —Samael Aun Weor, Igneous Rose
I know many people, they enjoy these studies and they think that because this teaching is very potent and strong, one has no sense of humor. But there are many people who enter these types of studies and who don't know how to enjoy life, which is completely against the point. It is ironic that we need to learn how to consciously suffer, but at the same time that produces our happiness. Meaning the more that we separate from our ego, the more joy we spontaneously and naturally develop. As Samael Aun Weor says, “The greatest joy of the Gnostic is the discovery of one of his defects.”
Even though there is suffering in that moment if someone condemns us or really hurts our self-esteem, if we observe that self-esteem in action and we see it for what it is and understand it for what it is, there is a sense of liberation in saying, “Okay, now I'm going to go home and I'm going to meditate on this defect that came up, so that my Divine Mother will annihilate it.” There is tremendous peace and joy in that. For me, there is no greater happiness than to catch my mind in the moment that it is suffering and to extract my soul and to see my defects in action, and to really perceive that I have a choice or that we have a choice to follow our own will or the will of our Being. That produces genuine happiness, that makes us peaceful. But the opposite is those who would laugh like the guffaw of Aristophanes, who are saturated with desire.
“There is the need to achieve complete control of ourselves. An initiate can feel happiness, but he will never fall into the frenzy of madness. An initiate can feel sadness, but he will never reach desperation. He who is desperate about the death of a beloved being still does not serve as an initiate, because death is the crown of everyone.” —Samael Aun Weor, Igneous Rose
This pertains to our ethical discipline.
This is an image of Shiva meditating behind the mountain of initiation, the Holy Spirit sitting upon the cloth or the fur of a tiger, which is the animal ego that has been annihilated in meditation. Swami Sivananda gives some very thorough advice in his book Kundalini Yoga about what we need to do for our Asana.
“When you sit in a posture, think, ‘I am as firm as a rock.’ Give the suggestion to the mind half a dozen times, then the Asana will become steady soon. (Meaning we won't shift or try to adjust our posture.) You must become as a living statue when you sit for Dhyana.” —Swami Sivananda, Kundalini Yoga
Don't move. If you're moving, you're not meditating, if you're scratching an itch, getting discomfort, we're not meditating. As Samael Aun Weor explains, we need to be absolutely still, and people ignore this instruction, typically, because the thing is he's referring not only to mental silence but physical stillness. We can't be mentally in equipoise if we are moving our body.
“Then only there will be real steadiness in your Asana. In one year by regular practice, you will have success and will be able to sit for three hours at a stretch. Start with half an hour and gradually increase the period. When you sit in the Asana, keep your head, neck and trunk in one straight line. Stick to one Asana and make it quite steady and perfect by repeated attempts. Never change the Asana. Adhere to one tenaciously (as the Master Samael emphasized, we need to tenacity in our practice). Realize the full benefits of one Asana.” —Swami Sivananda, Kundalini Yoga
For me it is sitting in a chair or in my home. I use my bed. I sit against the wall, my legs out. For me, that is the most comfortable posture where I can concentrate without getting distracted or letting myself fall asleep. When we pick an Asana, it can be lying down, it could be sitting in a chair, it can be sitting in the full lotus. What matters is we pick a position and are consistent with that.
“Realize the full benefits of one Asana. Asana gives Dridhata (strength). Mudra gives Sthirata (steadiness). Pratyahara gives Dhairya (boldness). (As Samael says, we admire boldness.) Pranayama gives Laghima (lightness). Dhyana gives Pratyakshatva (perception) of Self and Samadhi gives Kaivalya (isolation) which is verily the freedom or final beatitude.” —Swami Sivananda, Kundalini Yoga
Pratyakshatva is perception or the sword of Manjushri, in which we cut through illusion. What is interesting is that with Samadhi, we have isolation. When we are diligent in our practice, we may have the grace and experience of a Samadhi, in which we are united with our Being, meaning our consciousness gets absorbed in our Innermost or in our inner Christ and this produces isolation. Usually in the West we think isolation is that “he is not feeling well” and “he is antisocial.” But isolation in this sense means hermetic silence, meaning one is not influenced by external phenomena, but is completely focused internally, that is what it means to be isolated. The way that we attain this type of comprehension is that throughout the day, we are psychologically isolated, meaning we don't identify with any circumstance. We don't waste our energies, we become hermetically sealed. Which is the science of mercury, the science of mind, the angel Raphael.
Swami Sivananda continues, “He who has gained Pratyahara, withdrawing the senses from the objects, will have a good concentration. He will have to march in the spiritual path step by step, stage by stage. Lay the foundation of yama, niyama, Asana, Pranayama and Pratyahara to start with. The superstructure of Dharana and Dhyana will be successful only then.” —Kundalini Yoga
Silence, Concentration, and the Mind in Kabbalah
Here, we are explaining the gradual steps of this process or the stages of meditation. Pratyahara means to withdraw your senses from objects. Now, we included here a quote from the Katha Upanishad, Hindu scripture, emphasizing the nature of Kabbalah in our psychology. This can help us to understand more about the nature of Pratyahara, Dharana, silence of mind and concentration.
“Know the self, Atman (or Chesed in Kabbalah), as one sitting in the chariot, a body is the chariot, the intellect (the translation really is Buddhi or should be translated to Buddhi, the consciousness, divine consciousness), the charioteer and the mind, the reins. The senses they say are the horses, the objects of the senses their path. When he, Atman, is in union with the body, the senses and the mind, then wise people call him the enjoyer (meaning when we allow our inner Being to act through us, then we are filled with joy and remembering the flow of life, moment by moment, in this instant). He who has no understanding and whose mind, the rein, is never firmly held, his senses, the horses, are unmanageable, like vicious horses of a charioteer. But he who has understanding and whose mind is always firmly held, his senses are under control, like good horses of a charioteer. He who has no understanding, who is unmindful and always impure, (meaning fornicating, unchaste,) never reaches that place but enters into the round of births.” —Kaṭha Upaniṣad
Samael Aun Weor was more specific in saying, “Woe to the coachman who loses control of his chariot,” meaning that chariot will fall off the cliff into the abyss. Meaning if we're impure physically, psychologically, and we don't control and restrain our mind, then that will take us into successive incarnations into lower animal states, as we explained in Transmigration of Souls, until finally entering the abyss or disintegrating in the inferior dimensions.
“But he who has understanding, who is mindful and always pure, reaches indeed that place from whence he is not born again. But he who makes understanding his charioteer, (understanding his Binah, the Holy Spirit,) and who holds the reins of the mind, he reaches the end of his journey. And that is the highest place, the all-pervading self (or Brahman, you could say the Absolute).” –Kaṭha Upaniṣad
In this image we have the Lord Krishna with Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita. Krishna represents Prajna, the Innermost, or better we say Christ our Lord. Arjuna is Tiphereth, the human soul of which we are a fraction. So Tiphereth is willpower, who is united here under the guidance of the Being. We find this image of four horses and a chariot. Specifically within Krishna we could say we find Atman and Buddhi, the Divine Soul and Innermost as well. The master is Christ and the Human Soul is identified as Arjuna.
“The mind must be united with this divine triad (meaning Atman-Buddhi-Manas, the Spirit, the Divine Consciousness, and the Human Soul), together with the psychic extractions of the astral, vital and physical vehicles.” —Samael Aun Weor, Igneous Rose
We find the horses, we have four, which is the physical, vital, astral and mental bodies. We need to learn to integrate those four horses in the service of our Being. Typically in us, the horses are going in different directions and are leading us on a rugged path. Instead, we need to discipline our mind, precisely through these stages of practice.
“The interior Manas together with the Kamas, astral body, Prana, vital body and Linga, the physical body, enforce the divine triad by means of fire.” —Samael Aun Weor, Igneous Rose
Going back to the image of Mahakala, the flames surrounding this being. We unite our four lower Sephiroth, physical body, vital body, astral body, mental body with our inner Being by means of Kundalini, by means of the sacred fire. In single practitioners, we can make sparks, but those who are married and are working with their partner and maintaining chastity, that energy can awaken and unite one with Atman. We need sexual fire if we want to unite our lower Sephiroth with our Being. That's how the mind is restrained. Without that force, we can't control the chariot.
A means to help us with this, we find in the Sufi scriptures. So this is sama, which is a spiritual concert of Sufi initiates. Again, this is a quote from Al-Risalah, translated as Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri, where he explains the way that we develop discernment is through Self-remembering and through mantra recitation. To develop strong concentration, we work with Pranayama or we can work with mantra. As you remember in the image of Chenrezig, he is holding prayer beads in his hand, signifying the step of remembrance.
“Remembrance is a powerful support on the path to God, Glorious and Majestic. Indeed it is the very foundation of the Sufi path. No one reaches God save by continual remembrance of Him. There are two kinds of remembrance: that of the tongue and that of the heart. The servant attains perpetual remembrance of the heart by making vocal remembrance. It is remembrance of the heart, however, that yields true effect. When a person makes remembrance with his tongue and his heart simultaneously, he attains perfection in his wayfaring.” --Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri
Because that mantra along with concentration and prayer to our Being takes that fire and unites it with our divine triad, so that we help our Being, as sacrilegious as that might sound, for Him to help us, to control our mind.
“A group of wayfarers complained to Abu Uthman, we make vocal remembrance of God Most High, but we experience no sweetness in our hearts.” —Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri
This is what many practitioners experience, who will be mantralizing, but don't feel that rich, intuitive insight or inspiration from the practice. It means that if we are doing it mechanically, we don't feel that sweetness in our hearts. So this master advised, “Give thanks to God Most High for joining at least your limbs with obedience.” Meaning, yeah, you may not have deeper insight or experience with this mantra that you're working with, but give thanks to God that he has inspired you to practice, so that through consistency every day, we can develop that sweetness and to really feel the energies present in Pranayama or mantra.
We find the following later stated, “Part of the conduct proper to supplication is that it is presence of heart, that you are not inattentive while you supplicate. It is related that the Prophet said, ‘God the Most High will not answer the supplication of a servant whose heart is heedless.’” —Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri
So if we pray mechanically, we won't receive anything, but if we are sincere, then our supplications, our practices will have fruit. This is also beautifully exemplified in Shakespeare, in Hamlet, where King Claudius who just murdered his brother, is praying in a church for his sins. But he doesn't really feel remorse for what he did. So he says, “My words fly up to heaven, my thoughts remain below. Words without thoughts never to heaven go.” So the same thing as the teachings of Prophet Muhammad.
Preliminaries of Meditation
We are using a lot of images from Bhagavad Gita. Again, we have Krishna talking to Arjuna and the Bhagavad Gita really explains for us the foundations of our practice. These are other examples of what we need to do, to really be successful in meditation, as stipulated within the Bhagavad-Gita: Yoga of Meditation, the Sixth Discourse:
“Let the yogi try constantly to keep the mind steady, remaining in solitude, alone with the mind and the body controlled and free from hope and greed.”
Here, we're practicing as a group, usually we will practice alone. But the type of solitude they're referring to is psychological, meaning we don't let ourselves identify with any circumstance throughout the day. We need that hermetic silence in our consciousness.
“In a clean spot having established a firm seat of his own, neither too high nor too low, made of a cloth as skin and kusha grass, one over the other. There, having made the mind one pointed (which is Pratyahara, to concentrate, or silence of mind or Dharana, to have one point of concentration as well). With the actions of the mind the senses controlled, let him, seated on the seat practice, yoga for the purification of the self.”
This is known as retrospection meditation in this tradition, in which we analyze our defects and annihilate them through comprehension and prayer to our Divine Mother.
“Let him firmly hold his body, head and neck erect and perfectly still, (meaning our Asana, we don't move) gazing at the tip of his nose without looking around. Serene-minded, fearless, firm in the vow of Brahmacharya, (Brahmacharya meaning chastity,) having controlled the mind, thinking of me in balance and mine, let him sit having me as his supreme goal.”
When we observe ourselves, we find that we are usually not serene-minded; we are typically filled with fear. Our mind is not chaste, full of lust, but chastity begins physically. We cannot learn to meditate at all if we are not firm in our vow of Brahmacharya. Which means never to fornicate, ever.
“Thus, always keeping the mind balanced, the yogi with the mind controlled attains to the peace abiding in Me, which culminates in the liberation. Verily, yoga is not possible for him who eats too much, nor for him who does not eat at all, nor for him who sleeps too much, nor for him who is always awake, O Arjuna.”
So we need balance in our daily life.
“Yoga becomes the destroyer of pain for him who is always moderate in eating and recreation, (such as walking, etc.) who is moderate in exertion and actions, who is moderate in sleep and wakefulness. When the perfectly controlled mind rests in the Self only, free from longing, from the objects of desire, then it is said he is united.”
Meaning as soon as we are free from any psychological obscuration in our mind, then Samadhi emerges.
“As a lamp placed in the windless spot does not flicker, to such is compared the yogi of controlled mind, practicing yoga in the Self (or absorbed in the yoga of the Self).”
As Samael Aun Weor stated, our esoteric discipline practices should saturate our daily life.
Concentration and Meditation in The Odyssey
Here I'm going to emphasize, in relation to concentration, a Greek myth, given in the Odyssey by Homer. He provided a very beautiful psychological teaching in this epic poem. Previously, we explained Pratyahara, one point in the mind. Now we're explaining more about Dharana, concentration.
In the poem, Menelaus is a king of Sparta, returning with Odysseus and other Achaeans after the war against Troy. He was stranded on an island without wind on his way home to Sparta, in which he needed to investigate what gods were responsible for deterring him from his passage home. Eidothea, which is like a sea goddess, daughter of Proteus on the right, explained to Menelaus that her father would be the one to explain how to get home. Proteus is referred to as the prophet and as a sea creature that can transform into any shape or animal, tree, object. What's interesting about Proteus, this is where we get the word protean or something that shape changes or changes object or form.
So Eidothea advises Menelaus, and Menelaus says, “Show me the trick to trap this ancient power or he'll see and send me first and slip away. It's hard for a mortal man to force a god.”
Samael Aun Weor states that one must be very demanding with their inner Being. This is emphasized in The Odyssey. It is hard for a mortal man to force a god, but still we need to force our God to help us, and I don't mean this in the sense of controlling our Being, but I mean this in the sense that when we are meditating, we are so disciplined that we don't let our mind distract us in any circumstance. So the mind changes shape, distractions are merged in our thoughts, our emotions, our body, constantly surging in our perception and we still do not let any of those elements deter us from the object of our concentration. In order to receive teachings from our being, we need to be very demanding with our God, as the Master Samael explains. And this is emphasized in the myth of Proteus.
Menelaus and I believe two other men prepare to lay ambush to Proteus, who is bathing at the sea with his seals. “Now, there was an ambush they would have overpowered us all, overpowering true, the awful reek of all those sea-fed brutes. Who’d dream of bedding down with a monster of the deep?” Meaning they are preparing to attack Proteus, but really someone is preparing to meditate, and we see all these sea creatures in our mind, our defects, which smell with lust and are filthy, and it is overpowering. And we feel like we can't really sit to meditate because we have so many discursive psychological elements or defects in our mind, which are filled with lust, specifically.
“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.”
So, how do we overcome lust? It is by being chaste, meaning we work with transmutation. The nose relates to the sexual energetic currents, Ida, Pingala, in our spine, which go up intertwining to our brain. This is the symbol of the caduceus of Mercury. When we transmute, we're bringing that energy up the two channels in our spine through our nostrils. So Eidothea, the sea goddess, the goddess of chastity places this ambrosia, the transmuted sexual energy under the nose, so that Menelaus does not get overpowered by the stench of his own lust, so he doesn't get petrified like by Medusa, as I believe in the myth of Perseus against Medusa.
In order to really develop concentration, we need to again, the emphasis is chastity, to transmute when we sit to practice, sublimate our energies, so that when we work on our lust, we don't get overpowered by it.
“But we with a battle cry, we rushed him (Proteus), flung our arms around him. He 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
Our Being is like that. First the mind is full of distractions and we're continuing to concentrate on our Innermost. So that through the silence and quietude of the mind, our Being will concur to our call. It will come to our aid. But again, if Menelaus didn't have that ambrosia under his nose, then he could not have even attempted this. Because it would have been overpowered by his lust, but instead by being chaste, like David and Goliath, where David, the soul takes the stone of Yesod, the sexual power and with that little stone, he kills the giant. This is the same myth, the same meaning. Menelaus is able to conquer his mind, the shape-shifting nature of his mind in order to communicate with the prophet Proteus. Then Proteus says now I'll explain to you how to get home, and Proteus provides him a lot of help, but only if we are very demanding. We have to force a god, according to this passage that Homer was explaining.
That's the nature of Dharana, to concentrate. Here is the thing, when we focus in meditation, we don't want to let our mind get distracted by other things, but we want to maintain the purpose of our practice. When we're alone, it is good that we sit, we determine for ourselves what we're going to meditate on. Then when we're meditating, we stick to that practice and not shift and let ourselves waver. We need to be very demanding. If we have a certain point in our exercise, whether it is to meditate and annihilate our ego or to understand the meaning of a scripture or to understand the nature of a teaching, we have to be firm with our resolve and what we are going to do.
Or to communicate with our Being, to have a mind that's open and serene. Because usually if we sit to practice, our mind drifts and we forget what we're doing. The way to resolve that is when you sit to practice, determine for yourself what is it that you want to meditate on, whether it is your Being or to remember events throughout the day. That way, as we are really courageous in conquering our mind, Proteus will answer us, “Okay, you've caught me, you've controlled your mind. Now in the silence of your mind and heart, I'm going to teach you.” Sometimes this can occur if we are meditating, we fall asleep, we go out of our body and then our Being will instruct us.
Again, this is a Sufi teaching from Al-Risalah, emphasizing the nature of how to develop willpower, conscious will, Christ's will, and it reiterates many of the points that we made.
“Through the whole night and day, the aspirant does not slack in his endeavors. Outwardly, he has the characteristics of struggle, (meaning jihad, to strive,) inwardly, the attributes of endurance. He has separated himself from his bed and bound himself to concentration,” for as Prophet Muhammad taught, it is good to lose sleep over prayer. We didn't meditate in the day, we go home and we're tired and we want to simply knock out. If we take a few minutes, which is what I do, I sit myself against my bed and I force myself to meditate. And this is the meaning of: ‘he has separated himself from his bed and bound himself to concentration.’ We don't let life swallow us whole, but we really dedicate our time to actually practice every day.
“He bears difficulties and defies pains.” -Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri
People think it really means physically, but it's psychological, to endure psychological pain when we are facing our difficulties.
“He treats the ills of his character and applies himself to problems. He embraces terrors and leaves outward appearances.” —Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri
What does it mean to embrace terror? Master Samael explains that the Divine Mother is the terror of love and law. So to embrace the terror of facing the nothingness, meaning our ego feels that terror before the majesty of our Being, as we are learning to separate from our defects through self-observation. The ego is terrified and wants to hold on, make us identify so that it could continue living. But instead we need to leave all outward appearances, illusions, so that we can embrace our Divine Mother and overcome that terror in our mind.
“As it is said, then I passed the night in a desert, fearing neither wolf nor lion, overcome by desire (or better said longing). I travel the night quickly. The one who desires (or longs) continues overwhelmed.” —Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri
So, I passed the night in the desert. All of us are in the desert. If we are working in chastity, we enter our own wasteland. As it says in Isaiah, “A voice that crieth in the wilderness, prepare ye the way of the Lord. Make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” So by working in our discipline, we enter the desert where we face the difficulties associated with maintaining our chastity and working psychologically.
‘I passed the night in the desert, fearing neither wolf nor lion.’ These are symbols of karma. In the internal planes, we can experience or see a wolf or a lion. A wolf really pertains to regular karma, daily karma for regular persons, everyday persons, but the lion represents a superior type of karma, which we will discuss later, pertaining to initiates and gods. ‘I passed the night in the desert, fearing neither wolf nor lion.’ The karma in my life or in my circumstances. ‘Overcome with longing, I traveled the spiritual night quickly,’ meaning, getting through the darkness of not having that illumination that we all long for.
The one who longs for God continues ‘overwhelmed.’ Meaning to strive, to continue practicing, no matter what. We don't have experiences, we keep practicing. It's like brushing our teeth, we do it because we know it's good for us, even if it's uncomfortable and difficult. But we do it as a force of habit until eventually that sweetness enters our hearts. As it says in the Al-Risalah, you may not feel sweetness in your heart when you practice, but that develops the more you practice.
I'll conclude with a teaching by Rumi. “A new moon teaches gradualness and deliberation in how one gives birth to oneself slowly. Patience with small details makes perfect a large work, like the universe.” By patience and establishing ourselves in yama, niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, that will aid us in developing or really understanding and practicing meditation. First develop ethics, chastity, transmutation, silence of mind. When we lay that foundation, we will enter meditation effectively.
“What nine months of attention does for an embryo, forty early mornings will do for your gradually growing wholeness.” So if we get up early in the morning, which is difficult. Imagine nine months, nine represents Yesod in Kabbalah, sexual transmutation. We are born for the number nine, physically, nine months in the mother's womb, but also nine relates to initiation. What nine months of attention does for an embryo, meaning our consciousness, forty early mornings will do for your gradually growing wholeness. So we see that our consciousness is an embryo at this state, it can develop into a full human being by working with chastity, by working with our Divine Mother in the womb of Her care.
Questions and Answers
Question: That previous quote when it said the traveler will remain overwhelmed, I don't understand that. Does it say that overwhelming is a bad thing?
Instructor: In Al-Risalah, there is another quote or saying that Gnosis develops tranquility of heart. The more one’s Gnosis of God, one's direct experience of God increases, his tranquility increases. Likewise, the more that one knows our Being, the more we know God, the more awe and reverence we feel. So the type of overwhelmed feeling is not like egotistically, we have a problem with work that we have to resolve, but overwhelmed in this sense means to really experience our Being and to feel that awe and reverence for our own particular light. Which the more one knows God, the more overwhelmed or the more awe and reverence one feels as a result of that. That is something we develop little by little the more we practice.
Question: My other question was I looked at the meditation course, and I was under the idea that mantra and concentration is what comes first to have silence of mind. And then you are saying it is the opposite actually.
Instructor: They're integral, we could say. When we develop concentration, silence of mind and concentration are so closely interconnected that they're really two aspects of the same thing. And with these stages of meditation, as Swami Sivananda pointed out, there are certain progressions that we can make. But the truth is they are principles that integrate and complement.
If we want Dhyana, we have to really learn how to concentrate our mind. We develop concentration in levels. So these are not set stages or plateaus: we reach one level, it goes flat for a while. Instead, it's a fluctuating, constantly dynamic thing and if we develop more silence of mind, we develop better concentration. We develop better concentration, it means that we're developing greater serenity of thought, meaning that we develop a certain level of equilibrium in our consciousness in which it is different degrees, that I can't say is quantifiable, but it is qualitative. It is a quality in your mind that you'll perceive as a result of practice.
We can say that Pratyahara and Dharana are so closely linked that sometimes in many schools, they are considered the same thing. They are so closely related that sometimes they have been confused too. They really complement one another. If you have more concentration, it's because the mind is more silent. Think of concentration like you're on a boat in the middle of a storm. That storm is the mind and with our willpower, we're holding on to the mast of the ship so that we don't fall overboard. That mast is our concentration, it's our willpower. But silence of the mind also develops in degrees little by little as the storm passes, when the waters begin to become serene and silent. That mast also represents your spine and how you work with your sexual fire. Because it is the staff of Moses that he wielded to conquer the Egyptians, the egos that we carry inside. The more we concentrate and focus on our Being, moment by moment, the less control our mind has over us. Concentration helps us to develop serenity as well. So they feed off each other, they integrate and they complement.
The way that Swami Sivananda emphasizes that a typical transmission of teaching given in yoga schools, Buddhism as well I believe, in which explaining the main principles, the main relationship between principles. But it's really one system; we explain it as elements that complement each other.
Question: The thing I'm confused by is you had a quote from Sivananda where he says you must do the preliminary stuff before there's even a point in meditating. There's also quotes I think from Sivananda where he says do not delay the practice of meditation. I don't really understand how people are expected to do the preliminary stuff if they're not meditating. Does it have to happen together? Because I had another Gnostic school say the same thing to me. I wanted to learn about meditation, they said when you do the right thing, one day the door will just open for you. But in my experience, you have to meditate to be improving in your actions, psychologically.
Instructor: The reason is, it feeds off each other. Sivananda also explained later, he said establish yourself in the preliminaries, but also meditate. Because he emphasized that if you want to have good meditation, you got to learn how to concentrate, have silence of mind and develop that together with your own ethical discipline. He says you should develop ethics in conjunction with your meditation practice and it's better if we get established by learning to develop some level of equanimity and ability to concentrate. But it doesn't mean that we stop there, as you know. It means that we have to develop concentration, develop serenity of mind and then work in meditation, strive for that. Even though he says you want to start with the preliminaries, he also says elsewhere when you are meditating, you have to also develop ethical discipline too. So work with the preliminaries while you're meditating and understand that again, these are not set stages, but it's fluidic and it's more about acquiring a degree of stability in the mind, in order to meditate, in order to receive new information. That can come to us when we're working in a concentration practice. We get some understanding, that comes to our mind like a spark. And that's meditation. When we receive information of something new, that's Dhyana. It may happen in an instant and then suddenly the mind is chaotic again.
The more we practice with our ethics, with transmutation, with prayer, then the higher elements of our discipline will manifest in degrees. It's good in the beginning that we really dedicate ourselves to establishing those elements, but it doesn't mean that we wait there. We could be doing a mantra practice and then suddenly we understand something intuitively. That's Dhyana, so that's opening the door. We need to do both, but typically you want to get the beginnings set up to be really firm in that, so that when we meditate then Dhyana becomes something more stable, it doesn't come in just flashes, but it comes in a consistent, in a persistent way.
Question: What I was thinking when I saw that quote from Sivananda is for certain mistakes people are making, could it be dangerous to meditate?
Instructor: The only danger I know or the only danger I know is trying to meditate while fornicating.
Question: That's what I was wondering. If you're fornicating and you're also trying to meditate, it must be very confusing.
Instructor: Here's the thing, if we're trying to meditate then, basically the mind is a storm and imagine that boat we're on, trying to meditate is like holding on to the mast for a few moments and then the next moment, punching holes in the deck to let the water in. And so you can't do both. We have to decide how to be consistent with practice. Because I know people try to meditate for 20 or 30 years, meanwhile they're fornicating. And they don't get anything developed.
Question: Would you recommend to those people to transmute before meditating?
Instructor: Typically, yeah, and to really meditate on lust and meditate on those defects, because the problem is with trying to meditate while having no energy is that the mind is just going to be chaotic and destructive. If you're trying to do practice, where you're trying to transmute with no energy, meaning if we are trying to pump energy up our spine to our brain, meanwhile there's no water to pump, nothing happens. Just further chaos in the mind. The solution for that is to really reflect on chastity and the beauty and the splendor of purity, what it means to be sexually pure, psychologically.
But going back your original point, if we want to be successful in meditation, we should have some degree of stability in our Asana, our posture, some level of serenity of mind, a level of concentration. The more we develop those, the easier it is to meditate, but it doesn't mean that we're closed off from experiencing those higher degrees or higher stages. Because samadhi can happen when we begin meditating for the first time. It doesn't happen as a result of exertion, like “okay, checklist, I did my Asana, I did my Pratyahara, I did this, okay, come.” Usually we have that type of expectation in our mind, and nothing happens. If we're just doing our practices indifferently, then that insight can come to us spontaneously. And that's meditation. We receive new information. But again, if we want to be successful in meditation, the foundation is purity, yama, niyama, basically.
The following transcription is from an audio lecture on Gnostic Meditation, a course originally delivered live at the Chicagoland Gnostic Academy.
In this course of meditation, we’ve been discussing ethics, karma, posture, requisites for establishing a meditation space, insight, imagination or clairvoyance, and preliminary concentration exercises, the nine stages of meditative serenity, shamatha or calm abiding in Buddhism, which depict the gradations of concentration from a wildly distracted mind to a highly disciplined and relaxed mind—one that is fully focused and concentrated on a specific object or purpose.
The exercises we’ve engaged in throughout this course are meant to help our consciousness develop enough stamina to begin practicing genuine meditation. All this knowledge and, more importantly, its application to our daily life, constitutes our discipline and lays the foundations for working upon the mind.
The reason we meditate is to comprehend the psychological factors that produce suffering, which in our gnostic studies is denominated ego. Meditation is fundamental for understanding what elements, in our mind stream, produce conflict and discord, obscuring the insight and understanding of ourselves that we seek.
People always complain about their inability to speak with divinity, to have an astral projection, some type of supernormal experience that validates the testimonies of the religious scriptures. Very few people want to understand that illumination, powers, astral and jinn experiences, etc., emerge because of the death of the “I,” the “myself,” the pluralized ego.
Everyone wants to go to heaven, yet without leaving behind all their internal filthiness, degeneration, and perversity. But this is impossible. To experience the higher worlds, you need to vibrate at that level of nature. You do so by understanding and removing your defects, by letting go of the baggage you carry all the time. If you want to climb the mountain of initiation, you must remove the heaviness of the ego. Trying to climb a mountain with bags of stones on your back would be silly, right? The same principle applies to the spiritual path. To go higher, you must remove everything that is superfluous and unnecessary for life in the spiritual worlds. The ego is not only unnecessary, but a burden, the central hindrance for entrance into a superior way of life.
We must comprehend how our defects, observed within the field of everyday life, contribute to our suffering and the suffering of others. This should be our prime motivation for studying gnosis—not mystical experiences. It’s funny that many disciples complain about their lack of samadhi, out of body experiences, etc., yet don’t focus on the psychological causes of their ignorance and lack of internal illumination.
If you want light, remove the darkness from your psyche. You must comprehend from direct experience how the ego is suffering, darkness, ignorance, despair. But remember that part of your consciousness, your light, is trapped in each defect. If you want spiritual insight, light, you must comprehend and remove the cages you have placed around it. By annihilating the ego, you awaken consciousness, and therefore produce happiness and spiritual experiences.
But even more important than having experiences, you begin to live life with greater serenity, peace, and intuition, because to perceive how your internal psychological changes truly benefit humanity. We change not only for our own well-being, but for others.
Recognizing how our anger, fear, resentment, hatred, jealousy, and lust make us and others suffer is a profound motivator for change. When we perceive how our egos are the origin of pain, within our mind stream and in relation to others, we become vigilant and determined to enact positive, intuitive action born from the consciousness. This in turn inspires us, knowing how correct psychological states produce harmony, and how negative psychological states produce suffering. By helping humanity, we fulfill the purpose of life, which is sacrifice, love, and service for those who are ignorant.
Meditation on the death of the ego transforms us radically. If desire is not annihilated, we cannot liberate the essence, the consciousness trapped in each ego. While we have ego, we make others suffer. People who do not work on the disintegration of the “I” are not serious people within spiritual or esoteric studies, because people filled with ego cannot be of service to divinity, themselves, or others.
In life, the only thing of importance is a radical, total and definitive change. The rest, frankly, is of no importance at all.
Meditation is fundamental when we sincerely yearn for such a change.
In no way do we want a type of meditation that is insignificant, superficial, and vain.
We must become serious and abandon the nonsense that abounds in cheap pseudo-esotericism and pseudo-occultism.
We must know how to take things seriously, how to change, if what we really and truly want is to not fail in the esoteric work.
Those who do not know how to meditate, the superficial, the ignorant, will never be able to dissolve the ego. They will always be impotent driftwood in the tumultuous sea of life.
Defects discovered in the field of everyday life must be understood profoundly through the technique of meditation.
The didactic material for meditation is found precisely in the different events and daily circumstances of everyday life. This is indisputable.
People always complain about unpleasant events. They never know how to see the usefulness of such events.
Instead of protesting against disagreeable circumstances, we must extract useful elements from them for our spiritual growth through meditation. —Samael Aun Weor, The Great Rebellion
To truly perform meditation, we must learn to be in this world, but not of it. Samael Aun Weor indicates in this same chapter that we must not identify ourselves with external phenomena, to learn what it means to savor the flavor of the work and the flavor of life.
External events constantly fluctuate and provoke psychological responses within our interior on a moment to moment basis. Identification with the desires of the ego squanders the energy of the consciousness and produces suffering. When we allow ourselves to simply “go with the flow” of things, to not resist our instincts, habits, and desires, to think that we are thinking and feel that we are feeling, we are in truth experiencing the mechanical flavor of life. This is also known as identification, wherein we, as a consciousness, identify with our defects and the sufferings of existence.
By learning to consciously observe our five centers: intellect, emotions, movement, instinct, and sex, we catch our different egos spontaneously, many whose existence we never suspected in the least before beginning this work. Life, for the experienced gnostic or meditator, is a gymnasium, a means of extracting knowledge about our diverse defects. When difficulties arise, we must not identify or go with the flow of mechanical reactions, but consciously perceive how each thought, sentiment, and impulse originates from the different “I’s” in our interior. By learning to see the egos in action, we can learn how to separate from them and perform conscious, intuitive action through comprehension.
Problems are in the mind and belong to the mind. Problems in life are resolved when we cease thinking about them, when we cease trying to think or feel our way out of things, but instead simply observe life openly. This open perception is the beginning and foundation of the work.
Life is not an end in itself, but is a means of achieving psychological change. We must take advantage of the most difficult circumstances of life to produce genuine transformation, since when life is hard, our worst egos emerge. If you don’t observe yourself from moment to moment, during great trials, then those terrible “I’s” that need to be disintegrated will not be disintegrated. If the water doesn’t boil at 100 degrees Celsius, through great crises, then your worst defects will not be discovered nor worked upon. If you are not observing yourself, then you are not working, and cannot reap much fruit from meditation, since the material for meditation is what you’ve consciously observed in yourself.
When we cease to react so much to the diverse problems and mechanicity of life, but instead learn to respond with insight, cognizance, understanding, then as a matter of fact we are learning to perceive the flavor of the work.
Everything we have discussed is preparation for retrospection meditation. Retrospection meditation is the daily bread of the gnostics. It has been practiced in Buddhist monasteries and in the great colleges of initiates. After self-observing throughout the day, practitioners would sit down quietly to review their experiences and what egos they caught in action. Using strong concentration, developed through the exercises we’ve taught in this course, as well as clear imagination, which has also been developed through similar discipline, practitioners imagine the different scenes and events of their day. This is with the purpose of understanding the egos observed in relation to such scenes, diving deep into the subconsciousness, unconsciousness, and infraconsciousness, to catch each ego in its roots.
Rigorous self-observation is the beginning. Judgment and complete comprehension of the ego is the second step. Prayer to the Divine Mother for the annihilation of a particular, comprehended “I” is the final step.
Comprehension must be total for a specific defect to be eliminated, hence the need to go within the psychological depths of ourselves in meditation, first by learning to awaken the consciousness through vigilance.
Self-observation and Vigilance
To be vigilant is to be in self-observation all day long. Mindfulness refers to the state of self-observation, moment to moment, all throughout one’s day, every day. Mindfulness is continuity of conscious attention and awareness from morning to evening and back again. Self-observation exists in the moment, but mindfulness is self-observation practiced in each moment of the day and the evening, including when the physical body goes to sleep at night and when we, as a consciousness and an ego, enter the astral world. There is no rest in self-observation if we want to self-discover ourselves. The continuity of consciousness applies to the study of our dreams when we awake in the morning, when we analyze how conscious we were within the fifth dimension, the astral and mental worlds.
We must seriously analyze how long we are able to maintain conscious attention throughout each day if we want to comprehend and eliminate the factors that produce the sleep of the consciousness. We must analyze how long we are able to maintain awareness of ourselves, whether it is for a few moments, a few minutes, an hour. We must pinpoint where in our day we tend to forget ourselves, when we are not aware of what we are doing, and why.
Daydreaming, thinking of other things instead of focusing on the task at hand, indicates that our consciousness is asleep. This type of mental, emotional, and internal behavior must stop if we want to be competent meditators, because to meditate, we must cease dreaming in our intellectual, emotional, motor, instinctual, and sexual centers. The ego projects its fantasies, its desires, through the five cylinders of our human machine, to make us sleep, to dream.
When we recognize that we are dreaming, that we are not present, then we are beginning to awaken consciousness, to cease being distracted, to be focused.
The Four Components of Meditation
Remember that for retrospection meditation to be fruitful, we must fulfill four factors:
For meditation on the death of the ego to be effective, we must never forget what we are doing. To work on the ego, we must have strong enough concentration that we are always remembering what we are doing in our practice, not being distracted and thinking whatever the ego wants us to think.
We also need to be completely relaxed. Many people get tense when reflecting on their own defects and negativity. This is wrong. How can you go deep into yourself, in meditation, if your fists are clenched? When your mind is in turmoil? You will simply remain in your body, churning with negative thinking and emotions.
Relaxation is aided through pranayama and mantras. The energies of these exercises will rejuvenate the mind and body, and help the five cylinders of your human machine to reach a state of equanimity.
Prayer is also fundamental throughout meditation. Begin your exercise by invoking your Being, asking for help. When the heart opens, the mind will settle. It is impossible for the mind to change anything, because the mind is not divine. Only the Divine Mother, your Divine Father, can give you peace, stability, and insight. Therefore, begin your sessions with prayer, which doesn’t have to be formulaic, but sincere.
To pray is to talk with God, who is your real Being. God is not outside of you, but within the most profound levels of your consciousness. Simply communicate your longings, your aspirations, your needs, and your sufferings, and your heart. The Divine Mother always answers the call of Her child, as Dante depicted at the end of the Divine Comedy through the invocation of the divine feminine, the Virgin Mary:
“Virgin Mother, daughter of your Son,
more humble and exalted than any other creature,
fixed goal of the eternal plan,
“you are the one who so ennobled human nature
that He, who made it first, did not disdain
to make Himself of its own making.
“Your womb relit the flame of love-
its heat has made his blossom seed
and flower in eternal peace.
“To us you are a noonday torch of charity,
while down below, among those still in flesh,
you are the living fountainhead of hope.
“Lady, you are so great and prevail above,
should he who longs for grace not turn to you,
his longing would be doomed to wingless flight.
“Your loving kindness does not only aid
whoever seeks it, but many times
gives freely what has yet to be implored.
“In you clemency, in you compassion,
in you munificence, in you are joined
all virtues found in any creature.
“This man who, from within the deepest pit
the universe contains up to these heights
has seen the disembodied spirits, one by one,
“now begs you, by your grace, to grant such power
that, by lifting up his eyes,
he may rise higher toward his ultimate salvation.”
—Canto 33, ll. 1-27
Lastly, alongside firm concentration, deep relaxation, and profound prayer, imagination must be harmoniously clear and developed. We will discuss the importance of imagination again, in detail, in this lecture. These four factors aid the meditator in knowing him or herself.
Internal Silence and Spiritual Insight
Retrospection meditation is well explained in Samael Aun Weor’s The Revolution of the Dialectic. This is an essential book to know by heart, through practice, since it will teach you how to meditate and eliminate the ego. It is also important to know the teachings of Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology and The Great Rebellion as well, since the techniques of self-observation, mindfulness, remembrance, silence and serenity of mind, and comprehension are well explained there.
When these principles are developed in us, self-knowledge is the outcome:
Upon the mysterious threshold of the Temple of Delphi, a Greek maxim existed, which was engraved in the stone and stated: Homo Nosce te Ipsum, “Man know thyself and thou shalt know the Universe and the Gods.” In the final instance, it is obvious, evident, and clear that the study of oneself and serene reflection conclude in the quietude and in the silence of the mind. —Samael Aun Weor, The Revolution of the Dialectic
Serene reflection is a technical term, denominated Mo Chao amongst the Chinese Buddhists, or fikrat amongst the Sufis. Serenity refers to a profound psychological state of calmness, concentration and focus, which we discussed in the previous lecture on the nine stages of meditative serenity, calm abiding. Serenity refers to stability of attention, a state of concentration that cannot be disturbed by anything, a mind that is calm, relaxed, but profoundly attentive. Serenity is the basis or foundation for entering genuine meditation.
Reflection refers to imagination, the capacity to perceive or visualize, a state of clear cognition or perception. When we obtain serenity, then the consciousness can reflect the images of the superior worlds within the screen of our imagination, which needs to be developed, sharpened, and exercised through discipline.
Your mind can be referred to as a lake, which can reflect the images of the stars, the heavens, when it is calm. But if the lake is churning with waves, if it is disturbed, it cannot reflect anything clearly. The same with the mind. Without serenity, you cannot see anything inside of yourself. Therefore, every genuine school of initiation or spiritual studies taught disciples how to obtain serenity. Without serenity, there can be no imagination, no clear seeing, no insight.
To perceive superior images within meditation, the mind must be serene, the skies of the intellect must be free of clouds. In the internal planes, the skies represent the mind. If they are cloudy, it means our imagination is obscured. To see stars and heavenly objects signifies illumination, comprehension, and perception of the divine.
This state is not something vague or ambiguous, but is defined by its pristine cognition, its clarity, profundity, and depth. It is a psychological way of seeing that is very precise and crisp, not vaporous or obscure. When you receive images or experiences within meditation, it is because you are awakening consciousness and entering the first stage of initiation, which is imagination. Inspiration and Intuition follow, as we discussed in the previous lecture.
Serenity and imagination, calm abiding and special insight, produce comprehension, ecstasy, samadhi.
When the mind is quiet and in silence (not only in the intellectual level, but in each and every one of the forty-nine subconscious departments) then the Newness emerges. The Essence, the Consciousness, comes out of the bottle, and the awakening of the soul, the Ecstasy, the Samadhi, occurs. The daily practice of Meditation transforms us radically. People who do not work on the annihilation of the “I” are like butterflies that flutter from one school to another. They have yet to find their center of permanent gravity. Therefore, they die as failures, without ever having achieved the inner Self-realization of their Being. —Samael Aun Weor, The Revolution of the Dialectic
When the Essence is liberated from the mind, it experiences comprehension that sparks, that shocks the consciousness. This comes in the form of insight like a lightning bolt from the dark clouds of ignorance, from the dullness of the mind. When we train our consciousness in serenity and insight, comprehension emerges spontaneously from the skies of understanding to provide guidance in our work.
The Permanent Center of Gravity
The permanent center of gravity signifies something profound for gnostic disciples. It refers to the level of being, tendencies, or focus for serious practitioners of meditation and the psychological death of the ego.
Each person has a center of gravity in something, in accordance with the tendencies, qualities, and dispensations of one’s character and mind. Some people have their center of gravity in football, in sports; others in alcohol, in books, in education; some in studies of law, martial arts, or whatnot. People gravitate towards certain activities, traditions, occupations, and knowledge because of their psychological qualities, which tends to be egotistical.
Because we possess so many different egos, different selves or “I’s” with their own agendas, plans, and itineraries, we tend to gravitate towards many types of activities and studies that are, in light of esoterism and meditation, truly pointless, useless. We have no permanent center or sense of self. In one moment the “I” of gluttony wants to satisfy its hunger; in the next an intellectual “I” wants to read a book; in the following moment an “I” of lust takes over in relation to our spouse; in the next moment the egos or “I’s” of jealousy and hatred take over.
Different egos take over in different moments of life, which most people are not even minutely aware of. We are puppets controlled by invisible strings, personalities moved about by the subconscious impulses of the pluralized ego. The multifarious states of our existence demonstrate that we don’t have genuine control over our own life, because different egos always push us and make us gravitate towards different things in different circumstances. We don’t have true autonomy of will, because we are walking contradictions, people with many wills. Since we are not true individuals, in possession of an integrated psyche, we possess many minds; we move in conflicting directions, in multiple ways.
Examine your mind. Where is your center of gravity? What type of thoughts, feelings, and impulses do you gravitate towards and act upon? What types of activities do you move towards and perform? What are the types of people you relate to and why? This topic regarding the psychological center of gravity relates to everything one says, does, and acts upon; everything one deliberates, thinks about, and enacts because of each ego we possess in the subconsciousness, unconsciousness, and infraconsciousness.
Most people have their center of gravity in superfluous, egotistical things; many people have their center of gravity in activities rooted in lust, hatred, or pride. Rarely does someone shift their center of gravity within the gnostic teachings.
When someone longs to change this boring situation, this constant identification with desire, it’s because they recognize their ignorance and suffering. People who want to stop suffering begin self-observation, begin to recognize that they are not in control of their own life. This recognition radically transforms the student, because he or she recognizes the prison of the ego, how the pluralized “I” is the agent and cause of suffering. By recognizing that one is in prison, one can plan to escape, to change, to possess true spirituality, individuality, to escape psychological pain. If this occurs, it is because the Being of that person is pushing the soul to study and practice.
Through a continuity of purpose, through consistency of practice, disciples begin to love the gnostic knowledge and to apply its principles to daily living. By comprehending and annihilating different egos, different selves, specific “I’s,” consciousness is liberated. The percentage of awakened consciousness grows little by little through daily work, forming a nucleus within which the disciple becomes truly cognizant, awakened, and divine. Disciples who have worked on their ego for many years, every day, who have annihilated many defects through the help of their Divine Mother, have done so because they have first studied, loved, and lived this doctrine profoundly. They develop more profound love as they see the fruits of their psychological labor. They have oriented their entire lives around the practice of meditation, comprehension, and annihilation of desire due to a love of the teachings and the love of their result.
When a disciple has annihilated a lot of ego, due to his or her consistency in the daily practice of retrospection meditation, then he or she can develop what is called a permanent center of gravity in the consciousness: to always be attentive, alert, and awake as a soul, in every moment of life, both in the physical and in the internal worlds. Such a person constitutes a truly awakened citizen of the universe, of the cosmos. This process is only realized through daily meditation, comprehension, and annihilation of the subjective self, the ego, the “I.”
Impressions, Mental Dualism, and the Battle of the Antitheses
When discussing the nature of retrospection meditation, we must remind our students about the role of impressions in this work.
Life truly does not have any other form for us except through impressions. When we walk in a forest, we can say that the impressions of the forest enter our senses, our mind, through its smells, colors, light, contours, shapes, etc. We would never make the absurd declaration that a tree is literally in our mind. What we experience of life are impressions, whether tactile, visual, olfactory, auditory, sensual, gustatory, etc. These impressions reach our senses and are then perceived by the mind, and even the consciousness if we train and awaken it to receive and transform impressions.
There also exist psychological impressions, such as thoughts, feelings, and motor-instinctive-sexual impulses, which surge within us from moment to moment.
Regardless of what people think, we can say without fear of error that humanity places more importance on the internal world of impressions than on the exterior world. This is well demonstrated by experience, since most people live more identified with their psychological reactions and impressions than on the external world itself.
Observe yourself. When you are in a conversation with another person, are you listening to what he or she has to say? Are you sure that your mind is not commenting on everything you see? In relation to this person, are you genuinely listening with a receptive, clear mind without making any mental commentary, or are you just waiting for the moment to state your point of view, to say what you want to say, ignoring what is going on? Where do you place more importance, on listening? Or by waiting to state what you are thinking and feeling?
We are always commenting, in our mind, in relation to each phenomenon we encounter. People are always lost in their internal world, their internal chatter, never listening or objectively perceiving what is really happening in the external world. Although someone criticizes us and we smile sweetly, are we sure that we are not, internally, swearing and mistreating our critic, dragging him or her within the recesses of our psyche to do whatever we will?
While people live more in their internal world, we tend to ignore this fact, placing emphasis on the external. Yet if we examine our experience, we can see that we live more within our world of thoughts and emotions than in the external senses.
According to Immanuel Kant, the “external is merely a reflection of the internal.” Life has no other existence than in its impressions which reach our senses, and the mind, the intellect, the ego, is always labeling and commenting on what is perceived. This is something any beginning meditator realizes, that the mind cannot stop talking or commenting on everything that is perceived. This internal chatter certainly makes us very weak and poor people, in a spiritual sense.
The mind also works like a pendulum, swinging between the extremes of craving and aversion, like and dislike, pleasure and pain. The mind always seeks pleasant impressions and rejects unpleasant impressions. This constant chase for pleasures and avoidance of sufferings is what keeps the consciousness asleep, hypnotized, unaware.
One awakens consciousness by learning to comprehend mental dualism: the constant flight from painful impressions and the craving for pleasant impressions—which constitutes the hypnosis of the mind. Retrospection meditation helps us to comprehend the true nature of impressions and to no longer be attached to what one perceives—to live in the eternal present in remembrance of the eternality of the Being, which is beyond the transience of material life.
Regarding binaries, the mind always labels phenomena, experiences, in dualistic ways. If someone is short, we want to say that they are not tall. If someone is angry, we want to say that they are not content, at peace. Every ego thinks in dualistic terms, in binaries, in two poles of thought: affirmation or negation of impressions.
The logic of pride is “I deserve this position,” “I am better than such-and-such a person.” However, the logic of shame is the same form of pride, but inverted, “I don’t deserve to be praised,” “I am lowly,” “I am not worthy.” Pride can polarize in two ways, in self-affirmation, or self-negation. When a person receives certain impressions of life, the ego of the individual might affirm or negate that impression either through self-esteem or shame, self-mortification. The ego is always affirming or denying the impressions of life that flow in succession through the senses and within the mind.
The ego is always affirming or negating the impressions of life, never comprehending it. Within the Fourth Way school of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky, affirmation is the first force the enacts, that initiates, that proposes. Anger is always affirming its frustrated desires, “I deserve better than this!” “I want; I crave, I need” or “I earned that promotion… I should have received it, not my co-worker…” Or anger might negate the same impressions of life, “I don’t deserve this,” or “I never should have done that!” Affirmation, negation. The same dynamic is experienced with fear, uncertainty, or the psychological need for security which says, “I don’t want to lose my job!” Or “I need to pay my bills.” The ego is always affirming itself or denying the experiences and impressions of life, denying the reality that one faces moment by moment.
The ego always goes between two extremes: like, dislike; pleasure, pain; happiness, sadness; hatred, love; pride, shame, etc. The ego is dualistic and does not know how to respond to life with rectitude and a genuine sense of responsibility, with spiritual insight or understanding. Going between the extremes of craving and aversion creates a battle in the mind, a battle of antithetical influences: affirmation and negation. The mind knows no rest, is constantly agitated, and therefore the person who begins meditation realizes that the mind is crazy, cannot sit still, because the tendency of the mind is to run towards pleasures and to run away from suffering, meanwhile experiencing a constant state of suffering and ignorance of the nature of reality, both within and without. This forms a pendulum that produces the hypnosis of the soul.
This type of thinking certainly makes life very mechanical and painful. This constant act of affirming or denying the impressions of life is a profound state of suffering. The ego, desire, is affliction, because it is a condition, an energy that was not transformed in the past. We created the ego because we received certain impressions in the past that we were not conscious of—such experiences or impressions entered the senses and the mind and we did not know how to take it. We transformed the energy of the impression in an unconscious way, thereby trapping our consciousness within conditioning, within such impressions that were not transformed in the moment through comprehension.
To escape suffering, we learn to comprehend the duality of the ego by working with a third force: comprehension, the consciousness, which is an intelligence more profound and meaningful than the mind. By comprehending and annihilating the ego, we learn to transform the impressions with wisdom, understanding and power.
Comprehension produces serenity. Remember that serenity is developed in levels, in the form of the nine stages of meditative concentration as described in our lecture on Calm Abiding. To move beyond craving and aversion, we must awaken consciousness and first: observe these tendencies within ourselves, and second: renounce them.
Awakened consciousness is the capacity to see and comprehend without intellectual dualism, disturbances in the mind. Consciousness is the third force within the Fourth Way system—affirmation and negation, with all their conflict, reach a synthesis through the third force: reconciliation. Consciousness is the force of reconciliation, synthetic knowledge, the synthesis of all things. When impressions enter the senses, the consciousness, if it is trained and disciplined, can receive such impressions and transform them, reconcile them within the soul, through understanding their inherent emptiness, their impermanence. By seeing life in its true sense, as a transient thing, as ever changing, never-constant, we learn not to identify ourselves with setbacks of misfortunes, because we no longer are identified or attached to phenomena, to impressions.
By seeing a phenomenon, the awakened consciousness immediately apprehends its significance and meaning without the need to think, to debate, to argue or intellectualize. Consciousness is synthesis, reconciliation of disparate forces in the psyche. By learning to observe ourselves, our psychological states, and their relationship with the impressions of external events, we develop comprehension of the internal causes of suffering and learn to transform the mind. By observing our ego in action and learning not to give it the energy it wants, we develop serenity and the foundations for entering genuine meditation. By renouncing egotistical desires, we empower our consciousness. This is the path of creative comprehension.
The awakening of the Consciousness is only possible by means of liberating ourselves from mental dualism and by emancipating ourselves from the struggle of the antitheses or from intellectual surges. Any subconscious, infraconscious, or unconscious submerged struggle is converted into an impediment for the liberation of the Essence (soul). Every antithetical battle (as insignificant and unconscious as it might appear) indicates, accuses, and aims to obscure points that are ignored and unknown within the atomic infernos of the human being. To reflect, observe, and know these infrahuman aspects, these obscure points of oneself, is indispensable in order to achieve the absolute quietude and silence of the mind. Only in the absence of the “I” is it possible to experience and live the integral revolution and the revolution of the dialectic. —Samael Aun Weor, The Revolution of the Dialectic
Introversion, Analysis, and Comprehension of the “I”
Comprehension is essential and constitutes the central dynamic of meditation. However, we cannot gather material for meditation, for comprehension, if we are not observing ourselves in daily life.
Self-observation is seeing each ego in action, separating and looking at its thoughts, feelings, and impulses. It is not enough to tell oneself, “I will not identify with this problem, this ego, this self.” Who is the “I” or self here? Who is observing whom? The consciousness must learn to observe, free from any sense of self or “I,” that “I am doing this,” or “I am not doing this.” Consciousness is perception free of the ego, the “I,” or myself. Our genuine identity is not our self-esteem, our pride, but the pure quality of seeing, of perceiving without thought, without labeling.
Telling yourself that you will not be angry or identified at work is useless, because the egos of anger or identification will continue to exist in the psyche. Instead, learning to pay attention without the sense of an observer, of a self within that perception, is what will allow your consciousness to gather self-knowledge.
You must learn to see yourself, your ego, as an actor in the film of life. Your consciousness is the director viewing the scene, observing. For example, you can be at work when your boss criticizes you for something you did. In that moment, anger emerges, followed by hurt self-esteem, pride and arrogance, and afterward resentment.
In a single moment, four egos have emerged in succession, in order, each with their own respective thoughts, feelings, and impulses. Every ego has three brains: its own thinking, feeling, and desires, or ways of acting. All these interactions, thoughts, impulses, desires, must be observed in minute detail with the consciousness, to provide us material or food for meditation. All of this constitutes the first step of meditation, which is self-discovery.
Self-discovery is the first form of comprehension, when you realize with astonishment, “I am consciousness, and I am not these egos!” You witness yourself as a spectator and an actor, a witness and the witnessed. Your consciousness is awake, perceiving all these things, gathering data about those diverse psychological defects, those enemies of the Being within. When you see that you are not pride, self-esteem, arrogance, fear, resentment, etc., you experience a spark of joy, of initial comprehension that truly inspires you but also fills you with remorse. With just reason, Samael Aun Weor stated that the greatest joy of the gnostic is the discovery of one of his or her defects, because a discovered defect will become a dead defect through the process of retrospection meditation.
In the path of self-analysis, we always must take into consideration the psychological state of the ego, the external event and impressions that provoked it, and the succession of defects that emerge within the screen of our awareness—examining the interaction of all these factors, especially in how these defects work together, because they are related. Each ego works with others. It’s rare to find an ego that flies solo. Instead, the ego processes itself in series, like the manufacturing of cars. Each car, each ego, relates, feeds upon, and strengthens the others. This is important to remember as we analyze specific events and their impact upon our psyche.
In such moments of self-discovery, we understand how destructive each ego is. We also learn how to act consciously, with intuition, with greater rectitude and love. In the example I provided, we can be at work when our boss criticizes us, whereby we discover four egos and their successive states, flavor, and reactions within our psyche. Not only should we be focusing on perceiving each defect in action, but we should be working to use our consciousness to know how to respond to our boss with kindness and compassion—not because it is economically viable, so that we don’t lose our job. This is certainly important. However, more importantly, we learn to receive the negative impressions of our fellow men and women with love, because it is the right thing to do, the conscious thing to perform, so that we don’t harm the other person or create problems for ourselves.
The ego only knows how to react to life. Yet the consciousness, in its introversion, its reflective attitude, and internal comprehension, only knows how to respond to life in the appropriate way, intuitively—knowing what to say, think, and do in the right place and right time. This is creative comprehension, cognizance, understanding.
Acting in this way, with compassion, with patience, and tolerance for our fellow men and women, is what produces the greatest relations and harmony amongst others. To express what these four egos want, in their multiplicity, in their negativity, is to perpetuate suffering.
This is, of course, a very difficult thing to do. You must examine the impressions entering the mind, the psychological reaction of the ego towards the external event, and learn how to negotiate the two with consciousness, to transform the unpleasant impressions you are receiving with comprehension, with gladness, with that intuitive knowledge or knowing of what to say, do, and act in the precise moment. People sometimes ask us, in relation to such situations, “What do I do? How do I act in this situation when such-and-such happens? When I am being criticized? Do I just observe what is going on?” Self-observation is important, but you must transform the impressions you are experiencing, external and internal, through cognizance, by knowing what virtues to enact in such moments by following the inner voice of your conscience, which is the spiritual sense of knowing right from wrong. You can’t just stand there when your boss is criticizing you! You must respond, and that is the key. The consciousness knows how to act virtuously. But the ego, the mind, anger, resentment, pride, fear, only knows how to react to life, and this is different.
The only way to develop right action is to first observe, so that in the precise moment you can comprehend the impressions that you are experiencing, specifically by being relaxed. If you are tense and identified with your mental tension, you will only give your ego the energies it wants, and thereby perpetuate conflict in critical moments, like when you’re being criticized by your employer. Relaxation is key; serenity is essential. Don’t identify with the situation, because you must learn to see life like a movie. Everything will pass. Nothing is permanent. To let the mind waste energy and get carried away by transient things is truly silly. Therefore, respond to life with understanding, with compassion. Don’t react. Be intentional about what you do through comprehension, through intuition, which is the faculty of knowing what to do without needing to think about it.
Recently, when my boss criticized me for a mistake I committed, I learned to receive the unpleasant impressions gladly. I, as a consciousness, discovered certain defects within myself, in those instances, that I never suspected having. I felt tremendous happiness for seeing my egos, and, rather than let resentment take control of my three brains, thanked my employer for his criticism. Such an action totally diffused the tension. It was a win-win situation: my boss felt secure that I could do my job correctly, and secondly, I discovered certain egos that I needed to eliminate, and that I worked upon intensely with my Divine Mother because I discovered them in action.
In the case of an employer who criticizes us for something we did not do, we can learn to respond with kindness, stating our point of view, that we are being misjudged, yet without using anger—instead, we use compassion. We can establish boundaries and be honest when we are not in the wrong, yet we do not need to be filled with hatred, reacting in resentment. This is the difference between someone who is unconscious and someone who knows how to live uprightly, with cognizance, rectitude, and love.
When you live life in this way, you learn to receive with gladness the unpleasant manifestations of your fellow men and women, because such people provoke your most hidden defects, bringing them to the surface of your consciousness. The gnostic feels immense joy when seeing the ego in action, when discovering defects, because those discovered defects will become dead defects in retrospection meditation.
The Three Steps for Eliminating the Ego
The first step in this path of meditation is discovery: see the ego in action. Gather data through self-observation. The next is to comprehend such egos in their roots in meditation, through reviewing your day. Once you comprehend the profound significance of each defect, you can move into the final stage: prayer to your Divine Mother for elimination.
Remember that in war, spies are first watched, then judged in court, and then executed. The same with the ego, according to Samael Aun Weor. The ego is a criminal, a spy, who has trapped our consciousness. Therefore, to achieve psychological liberation, we must follow this specific procedure.
You need to see what egos you need to comprehend. You cannot work on what you don’t see. When you gather psychological data about the ego, then you can bring that material into meditation, to contemplate it. The more material you have to meditate upon, the better.
The ego is a multiplicity and possesses many profound roots within the abysses and caverns of the mind. Some egos are superficial and easy to catch, yet the worst habits, the most profound tendencies, the most ancient roots of suffering, exist not only within the subconsciousness, but in the unconscious and infraconscious depths of the mind. Intellectual egos tend to be slow; emotional egos are quick, harder to catch; the same with instinctive and motor egos; however, sexual egos are the quickest and most insidious, originating from our infraconscious animal psyche. We may observe a lustful element in self-observation, yet to comprehend it fully, we must go beyond mental dualism and see the ego within our internal worlds, which we can only access through profound meditation.
Therefore, to meditate on the ego, one must close of all the senses and introspect, ignoring any distraction in the physical world. By going inside the consciousness, by entering the internal worlds in meditation, the practitioner learns to catch the ego in its most profound roots, individually, one at a time.
As Samael Aun Weor explained, meditation on the ego is like catching a hare, a rabbit. Go for one at a time, because someone who tries to chase ten hares at once will get nowhere. Therefore, concentrate on one defect you observed and work to comprehend it fully, visualizing the scene in which that defect emerged in your daily life. Exclude everything else until understanding emerges, spontaneously, when the mind is in silence and when you are waiting for the answer from your Divine Mother Kundalini. Through comprehension, we pray to our Divine Mother to eliminate. This is how one should proceed, in synthesis, but we will elaborate upon this process when discussing Samael Aun Weor’s writing on Blue Time or Rest Therapeutics, otherwise known as Retrospection Meditation.
The Principles of Retrospection: Blue Time or Rest Therapeutics
According to Samael Aun Weor in The Revolution of the Dialectic:
Blue time or rest therapeutics has basic rules without which it would be impossible to emancipate ourselves from the mortifying shackles of the mind.
While these different rules are presented in sequence, they work more in the form of principles that elaborate one another, since they are different aspects of the same thing. This is not a checklist you must fanatically observe in rigid sequence when you sit to practice. These instead are qualities of experience and practice that support and integrate with one another, here and now, in an organic, intuitive, and dynamic way that you will learn by applying them daily.
We chose this image because the waters symbolize the energies of sexuality that will develop internal serenity. The boat symbolizes, in the internal worlds, the Ark of the Covenant or Great Arcanum, the path of transmutation and chastity. Without chastity, as we’ve explained in depth before, we cannot acquire calmness of the senses or the mind.
Combine drowsiness with meditation. Serenity and relaxation is essential. Meditation without drowsiness damages the brain, as Samael Aun Weor explained. It is necessary to learn how to provoke drowsiness at will, to produce a profound state of relaxation accompanied with a rigorous, sharp perception. You develop this capacity through daily practice and by working with profound breathing.
Usually we tend to run around throughout our daily activities without any awareness of our thoughts or emotions, let alone our own body. If you have time during the day, take five-minute breaks in the middle of work and concentrate on your breath. Breathe deeply, inhaling through your nostrils and exhaling through your mouth. Relax, and allow your mind, heart, and body to settle. Inhale for six seconds, retain the breath for six seconds, and exhale from your lungs for six seconds, counting mentally.
Samael Aun Weor explained in his writings that we must learn to relax our body constantly throughout the day, since we tend to carry unconscious tension with us when we return home and sit to meditate. You cannot meditate if you are identified with the body, when the body, emotions, and mind are tense. The solution is to take breaks, if possible, breathe profoundly, and observe your psychological states.
Self-observation, introspection, is serene and calm. Simply looking within oneself can produce mental peace and calm, whereby you as a consciousness learn not to identify with any thoughts, projections, or concepts in the mind. Observe and relax. This is especially important when we are experiencing ordeals, such as when our boss or co-workers criticize us. We experience egos of anger or pride in those moments, but if we are self-observing, we catch these defects in action and cease identifying ourselves with these elements.
If we are churning with negative thoughts, negative emotions, and negative impulses to act, the solution can be to step aside for five minutes and introspect, focusing on our breath, relaxing our mind, and observing the defects in action; to look at what is going on psychologically, yet without giving the ego our energy or will. This is very simple in theory, and might seem juvenile for some. However, this is a practical reality for people entering genuine meditation, and constitutes a principle most people never experience, simply because they are not interested in knowing themselves, but are identified with life. People tend to just go with the flow of the mind, and never seek to comprehend or resist it.
When your body relaxes, your mind can relax, and vice versa. Mental tension is the source of physical tension. If your mind gestates with thoughts, your body is agitated, then it becomes difficult to look within. If your mind is at peace, your body settles. Frequent breaks for introspection, deep breathing, stretching, and relaxation throughout your day will go a long way towards your meditative discipline, so that when you go home to retrospect your day, you can easily enter a state of physical and psychological serenity without effort.
If you can, you should also perform pranayama or silent mantras in the mind during your breaks, so that you circulate energy. This also is profoundly effective for calming the three brains or psychological centers, a dynamic that is beautifully explained with Kabbalah. With conscious willpower (Tiphereth) we learn to observe, control, and relax thought (Netzach), emotions (Hod), energy (Yesod), and physicality (Malkuth). When these five lower Sephiroth are relaxed in us, we can go higher upon the Tree of Life through experiencing meditation itself.
When the mind and body are calm, the lake of the mind can receive the superior messages and images of the internal worlds, directly from our Innermost Being. Do not move your body during your practice, since any movement disturbs the waters of the mind and prevents you from accessing the internal planes. Our posture, according to Swami Sivananda, must be as solid as a mountain throughout the entirety of our practice. Yet this does not signify rigidity or discomfort. When you are fully relaxed, when you have established your asana, you can forget the body. Be still like a mountain so that you can move beyond the body and access the deeper states of the psyche.
In retrospection, we seek to review the events of the day. We place within the screen of our imagination all the events and psychological states we experienced in the day; what are the observable facts of our internal states in relation to external events?
We will find that there are periods in our day that we remember more or less clearly, and other periods that are just darkness, where we can’t remember what we were thinking, feeling, or even doing.
What are we looking for in retrospection? Due to the mechanical life that he lives in, the intellectual animal forgets the Self. Thus, he falls into fascination. He goes around with his Consciousness asleep, without remembering what he did at the moment of rising from his bed, without knowing the first thoughts of the day, his actions, and the places he has been. —Samael Aun Weor, The Revolution of the Dialectic
It’s important to reflect upon these moments of obscurity and loss of memory to comprehend how we lost our vigilance, our mindfulness. When, how, and why did we forget ourselves, our Being? Discovering the answer will aid us in knowing which defects are strong in us, which put us to sleep without us even knowing it. This forgetfulness is represented by the loss of leaves in this image, the loss of memory.
Retrospection also documents those psychological states that were particularly disturbing, pointing towards certain egos that must be comprehended and annihilated immediately, before other defects. We must imagine the scene in which these specific egos manifested. What are the specific facts of their emergence, their impact, and their actions? What did we think, say, or do? Did we give in to those egos, or did we deny them in the moment? Did we act justly towards our fellow men and women? Analyze and be honest!
The key is not to twist and let the mind change facts. Just observe the facts of what you perceived. The ego will attempt to distort the scene in our imagination, to hide itself through the psychological force of resistance. The ego always resists analysis as we affirm the practice of retrospection in ourselves. The mind does not want to be understood because this will lead to its mystical death. However, by imagining the scene as it is and asking for insight from our Divine Mother, comprehension, the synthesis, the third force of reconciliation, will aid us in these difficult moments.
3. Serene Reflection
Serene reflection occurs when we analyze our mind and our mood. Like the lake that reflects the beautiful mountains, a symbol of the Being and of initiation, the austerity and majesty of God, so does the serene mind reflect the images of the superior worlds.
When we sit to practice, we must not only relax, but observe our mind and mood. What are we feeling and thinking? As we retrospect, we can serenely reflect on our psychological state, to be aware of ourselves here and now, to see what is going on internally. With stability of concentration and thorough introspection, we look to see what egos are acting in us here and now, so as to go deeper…
As we introspect, the ego, the mind, presents multiple forms of opposition and resistance, such as through laziness, justification, repression, and other games of the mind that seek to hide its errors from the scrutiny of conscious investigation. The ego states, “I am too tired to practice; I want to watch television instead!” Such logic constitutes the fallacy of the ego: the lies the mind perpetuates to cover its mistakes. Laziness or inertia is a profound way that the ego keeps us hypnotized and asleep, yet this is easily remedied through profound psychoanalysis and internalization.
Psychoanalysis is a popular term used by Freud and Jung, yet in gnostic studies signifies the direct perception and analyses of the roots of the ego. Meaning: we are sitting in a relaxed state, we are introverting ourselves, and we are seeking to identify and analyze the root of each memory, image, mental association, problem, sentiment, feeling, thought that emerges within our psyche. We look at their roots and ask ourselves, “Where is this coming from and why?” You do not need to literally state this question, but this is a form of attitude we need in this practice.
Comprehension from psychoanalysis emerges when we begin to perceive where thoughts and feelings emerge, in the same manner as when we fall asleep at night and suddenly start to see dream images, and hear voices, chatter, sounds from the subconsciousness, which come from the pluralized ego that is about to separate from the physical body through an astral projection. While most people experience this process unconsciously, with gnostic psychoanalysis, we learn to provoke drowsiness at will and to observe the roots of each memory, image, sound, etc., as they emerge spontaneously within us.
Psychoanalysis describes how and why the mind functions, like in this image: what are the parts of the psyche? How are they formed? Why do they function as they do? Why does this ego think, feel, and act the way it does in this precise moment? Psychoanalysis answers these questions.
5. Mantralization or Koan
To have energy to perform psychoanalysis, we work with mantra.
Mantra simply means “mind protection.” We are guarding our mind against negative influences, to armor our consciousness in the path of self-knowledge against the ego. Mantras or sacred sounds help to energize the psyche. They help to produce firmness of will; a pliant, robust, and flexible consciousness that knows how to act in any circumstance, in any direction, at any time, without exertion.
A koan is a riddle, a question you pose to the mind in order to silence it, such as the Zen question: “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” The purpose with mantras or koans is to help the mind to be quiet. By asking a question that the mind can’t answer, in any way, shape, or form, the mind with its thinking becomes exhausted, entering into silence and quietude. Mantras are forms of koans, since each mantra possesses an esoteric meaning that is only accessible to the consciousness, when the mind is receptive and in silence.
Mantras can be used at the beginning of a meditation session to prepare the body, heart, and mind. They can also be used during a meditation when probing into the subconsciousness, or at the end when we ask for annihilation for a comprehended defect.
Prayers like Fons Alpha, the Conjuration of the Four and the Seven, etc., can help to reject negative influences both within and without, to help you go within the mind and to prepare your space for meditation. We have countless mantras in this tradition that you can work with. I recommend Om Tat Sat, or Om Masi Padme Hum for beginners, and even the mantra Wu, as explained by Samael Aun Weor in his writings.
A profound mantra for invoking divine energy is Klim Krishnaya Govindaya Gopijana Vallabaya Swaha. This mantra invokes Christ into the mind, heart, and body, forming the gnostic pentagram to protect the consciousness against distractions and egotistical afflictions. We have included a video from GnosticTeachings.org to help with its pronunciation.
Mantras can be sung, whispered, or chanted in a prolonged manner, in accordance with your needs and dispositions. This mantra, like any other, can be chanted as many times as needed. It is good to pronounce mantras out loud to charge the body and mind with energy, to experience its vibration in your body, before going into mental recitation or Japa, otherwise referring to silent recitation.
6. Superlative Analysis
In superlative analysis we work on self-analysis and self-discovery. We included in this image many mirrors that reflect one upon the other. This refers to a state of conscious introspection whereby we go deeper into the mind to discover and analyze the root causes of an ego beyond the physical body.
In what past life did we create a specific ego? What does this ego feed or subsist upon? What impressions nourish it? What are its associates? What are its mechanisms? How does it function? Of course, this is all purely mechanical. The ego thinks its smarter than God, than the Being, but in truth is a very subjective and mechanical thing. The advantage that we have as a consciousness, along with the Being, is that the soul and the Being are not mechanical, but intuitive, objective.
Superlative analysis helps us to comprehend this subjectivity, this mechanicity, through discovering the roots of the ego and analyzing how it functions within the forty-nine levels of the subconsciousness, unconsciousness, and infraconsciousness. This knowledge or analysis can occur through mystical experiences in the astral and mental worlds, which become realized through the persistent reflection of the consciousness, represented by the mirrors of this image.
Comprehension occurs in degrees, as we mentioned. When we have fully comprehended the deep significance of a specific ego, we experience a spark of understanding, an “Ah hah!” moment. This is inner judgment.
We see in this image the last judgment of Christ. On his right are those souls being initiated into the path of psychological and mystical death, purity, and chastity. The souls on his left are those demons that have entered the black path of fornication, degeneration, and fortification of desire, egotism.
The people entering hell are also a representation of all the egos entering submerged devolution within the mineral kingdom. Christ has a sword in his left hand, heralding the justice, severity and damnation of the lost souls in the abyss, whereas Christ carries a palm branch of victory for those solar initiates to his right, symbolizing the path of victory, comprehension, and inner judgment in meditation.
Self-judgment refers to how, through the perception of Christ in us, we learn to separate the wheat from the chaff, the flames from the smoke, the consciousness from a certain ego. We deeply comprehend and judge how a certain ego or egos of lust, anger, pride, etc., are causing harm to ourselves and to others. We do so through the sword of insight carried in Christ’s left hand, a symbol of prajna or wisdom, direct insight and understanding of the mind. We also accomplish this through the scales of justice and measurement held in the hand of the Angel Michael in the center of this graphic.
Judgment pertains when we sit a specific defect under conscious scrutiny in the defendant’s chair, as in a court. We petition to our inner divinity, our inner Christ, most specifically our Divine Mother Kundalini, that we wish to eliminate this specific aggregate we have comprehended, that we want extirpated from our soul. Remember that each ego is a shell, a Klifah (plural Klipoth, “shells,” symbol of the hell realms) that traps our consciousness. The more we break those shells, the more soul, virtue, or Essence we free.
While we judge the ego in question, it’s important to not only look at the harm this aggregate or defect causes within our psyche, but we should also contemplate how we should have acted in a given situation where this ego manifested. So if we experienced an instance of pride, by comprehending that defect, we can in turn learn the appropriate virtue we should have used there and then, which would be humility.
With judgment, we place the evidence against the ego in the court of our consciousness, asking our Divine Mother to aid us. We beg to the Lords of Karma for negotiation, for help, when these specific egos relate to ancient debts we owe before the tribunals of divine justice, the Temple of Karma where Anubis officiates. We present the evidence of our judgments before the divine courts of karma and beg for mercy, for annihilation, for the destruction of these karmic defects, these truly demonic “I’s.”
The scale of judgment held in the hand of St. Michael represents the equilibration of forces achieved through the death of the ego, the balancing of karmic debts before the divine law. We must deeply contemplate, with remorse, how creating this specific ego has led us and others on the path of suffering. With remorse, with judgment, comes the next step: prayer and elimination.
The first step of the path is discovery. Followed by inner judgment or profound comprehension. Lastly follows prayer and elimination through the grace of the Divine Mother Kundalini.
We chose in this image a picture of Mithras slaying a mythological bull, and who is aided by a serpent and a hound. The bull is a symbol of the animal ego that must be annihilated, a feat achieved through the serpent Kundalini, the Divine Mother who aids us in the elimination of defects. We must pray to Her to eliminate the ego after its comprehension.
We are also aided by the hound, symbol of the sexual energy or instinct that must be directed towards the disintegration of the defect in question. A hound in Greek mythology, such as Cerberus, relates to the sexual creative energy. We must use this energy with prayer to invoke Devi Kundalini, to aid us in the death of desire.
One will supplicate (ask) the Divine Mother Kundalini, our inner and individual Mother, with much fervor. One will talk to her with frankness and introvert all the defects and faults that one has, so that She, who is the only one capable of disintegrating the “I’s,” will disintegrate them at their very roots. —Samael Aun Weor, The Revolution of the Dialectic
This work constitutes the transformation of impressions, the work upon the residual effects of wrong psychological, unconscious transformations we experienced in this life and previous lives. While the transformation of impressions relates to how we transform the present moment during our daily life, it also refers to when we go into the mind in meditation to work against the previous, wrong transformation of impressions from the past, meaning, the work upon the psychological, pluralized “I,” because the ego constitutes bad transformations of impressions that exist within us.
In order to be able to transform our impressions [the pluralized ego, the “I”], we need to reconstruct the scene just as it happened, to find out what hurt us the most. If there is no digestion of impressions, then nourishment from them will not be attained. If there is no nourishment, the essential [solar] bodies of the Being will languish. [...] —Samael Aun Weor, The Revolution of the Dialectic
When the ego is annihilated, impressions are transformed and the Being is nourished, fed with new knowledge, virtues, powers, conscious qualities, etc.
Good impressions should also be transformed. If during the day one has had three impressions which have affected his psychological mood, then they must be studied and transformed at night by utilizing an orderly procedure. Each “I” is connected with others; they are associated. The “I’s” conjoin together in order to form the same scene. —Samael Aun Weor, The Revolution of the Dialectic
Study each scene of your day and the egos that emerged in them. You can dedicate however much time you need to each ego in a specific scene that requires your attention with greatest need and urgency.
If you are self-observing very well, you will find that there is a lot to meditate upon. Do not get overwhelmed, but work consistently and diligently on what is most urgent. Work on those egos that require the most attention, those that you intuitively feel require your greatest focus.
Say at work, you experienced a scene in which five egos emerged that you discovered and need to work upon due to the gravity of these faults. Thereafter, when you sit to meditate, contemplate each ego in that scene, perhaps spending fifteen to twenty minutes on each defect, until achieving comprehension.
Afterward, pray for annihilation along with vocalizing the mantra “S” or “Krim.” Visualize the ego in your three brains like a demon begin consumed by fire, or being pierced by a sword, the sword of justice held in the hand of Christ and the Divine Mother, the spear of the sexual energy that can wound the ego to death.
The vowel S in esoterism is prolonged like the hissing of a snake, the serpentine fire of Kundalini as we saw in the image of Mithras slaying the bull. The mantra sounds like this: “Ssssssssss!” This vowel can awaken sparks of Kundalini to aid you in disintegrating your defects, if you are a bachelor. Married couples can work in the sexual act, though white tantra, to pray for annihilation when husband and wife and united, pronouncing these mantras.
“Krim” is pronounced as in “Krrrrrrrrrrriiiiiiiiiiiimmmmmm! [as in “cream” in English, rolling the R as in Spanish]. It has the same destructive power for working against the ego.
With successive works, you will find the monstrosity of the egos in question become smaller in size, until becoming like small children. As your Divine Mother pulverizes the ego, such defects become smaller and smaller until finally being decapitated and reduced to nothingness. After annihilating egos in their totality, the disciple feels tremendous peace and immense happiness, since the Essence that was trapped within them has become liberated.
Not every ego can be destroyed in one sitting, but becomes more and more weak the less and less we feed them, the more we comprehend our errors. With consistent practice, these defects reduce in size until becoming cosmic dust, whereby the parts of the soul trapped within them becomes freed.
“With patience possess ye your souls.” —Luke 21:19
Some students have asked us whether you can pray for annihilation even if you’re not sure if you’ve effectively comprehended certain egos. The Divine Mother, however, can only eliminate what you have fully comprehended. It doesn’t hurt to ask Her, but She will only pulverize an ego that has been understood in its totality. She would never eliminate an ego that has not been completely understood because to eliminate the ego, She sends it to the infernal worlds after extracting the consciousness. If your consciousness has not been freed from it yet, has not been released from its shell or conditioning, then the consciousness would be sent into hell with the ego, which the Divine Mother won’t do. She will never harm Her child, the Essence. Instead, She waits for our comprehension of the ego in order to free the soul, and thereafter eliminates that specific shell or condition of mind.
Students have also asked us how we can know that certain egos are dead. You might have internal experiences about walking amongst catacombs or graves. I’ve personally had this experience, where I found myself in a coffin being sent to the incinerator. This is a very good indication that one is dying, being purified by the flames of Christ and the Divine Mother.
Or, you experience certain ordeals and situations again where you used to react mechanically, egotistically, and no longer do so. You know the ego is dead when the internal actors that produced conflicts in specific situations are no longer acting—you simply don’t react to people the same way you used to—you don’t get caught up in tragedy, comedy, or drama. Instead of being angry at your boss, as in the example I provided earlier, you instead respond with love, with patience and comprehension. This type of experience is much more definitive and accessible. It also gives us a lot of faith in this teaching, because we see the practical results of working with Devi Kundalini.
The following transcription is from an audio lecture on Gnostic Meditation, a course originally delivered live at the Chicagoland Gnostic Academy.
One can hardly attain to this degree [of vigilance and comprehension of divinity] until one has emptied oneself through muhasabah, self-observation and inner accounting. The person who has taken account of what he has done in the past and improved his state in the present has attached himself to the path of the Truth. In this relationship with God Most High, he has learned how to keep a heedful heart. He has guarded his breaths for God [through pranayama] and turned his attention to God in all his states. So he knows that God is watchful over him—close to his heart, knowing his states, seeing his acts, hearing his words. Whoever is neglectful of all this is far from the beginning of contact—how far, then, from the realities of nearness to Him? —Al Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
We’re continuing our course on the science of meditation, specifically outlined within the eightfold steps of yoga as described by Patanjali.
So far we have discussed Yama and Niyama, restraint and observances, as well as asana, posture. Yama, known as restraint or ethics, signifies “to yoke, harness, or control” the mind. Niyama means precepts, ethical discipline, trainings or observances by which the consciousness controls the mind and develops serenity. Stability of mind is achieved when we learn to stop performing harmful actions, which produce disturbances in the mind with all its negative consequences.
To have a body that is suitable for meditation, we must cease agitating the body, and to have a body that is receptive and pliant, suitable for our meditative discipline, we must cease agitating the mind. Our physicality manifests the conditions and influences of the mind, the psyche. If our mind is filled with desire, with egotism, with negativity, it will be impossible to learn meditation, since the body will be tense along with our intellectual and emotional centers.
To engage in fruitless activities, to commit theft, murder, acts of violence and anger within our consciousness, disturbs the mind and body. Hence the need for restraint of mind, to stop harmful mental, emotional, and physical actions.
Many people do not believe that they kill, but it is very true that when one is consumed by anger, by malice, one is killing one’s neighbor through the emotional center. Likewise, people may not steal physical things, but energy, attention, to feed one’s vanity. While many devotees believe that the different commandments of religions focus on outward behavior, such instructions more importantly relate to the consciousness, to psychological states of being, which we must work upon to achieve true change. Hence the need for precepts, codes of spiritual conduct that help to develop the virtues and positive qualities of the consciousness.
Ethics is developed by comprehending and working with the law of karma: cause and effect. Negative actions from the ego produce suffering, while positive actions from the consciousness produce equanimity.
It is impossible to meditate with a chaotic mind, and it is impossible to develop serenity if you are feeding your egos every moment of the day through identification. What does it mean to identify? It means that you, as a free consciousness, give your energy to whatever defect takes over the five centers of your human machine: intellect, emotions, movement, instincts, and sex. When anger emerges, you as a consciousness think and feel that you are that anger. You invest it with energy and power. You fortify and empower it by thinking and saying whatever that sense of “I” wants in a given moment, until another ego emerges in reaction to fluctuating external circumstances.
Feeding the ego produces pain, since the “I,” desire, is a condition, a conglomeration of shells, a state of suffering that traps our full conscious potential.
To restrain our mind from doing what it wants every second of the day is the work with ethics. It is knowing how to consciously work with the law of cause and effect. As we explained in the previous lecture on “Ethics, Karma, and Interdependence,” how you behave in body, speech, and mind determines the quality of your life. Disciplining the lower self, the ego, desires, or nafs within Sufism, is the definition of the spiritual path:
“The lower soul (nafs, which etymologically signifies ‘breath’) is always engaged in inspiring your imagination to pursue evil acts or thoughts, every moment striving to cast you down into the abyss of pride, hypocrisy, and egotism. Each moment thus demands that you overcome and repulse such evil thoughts and false conceptions, constantly regaining your faith afresh and reaffirming your belief, and never imagining yourself safe from the lower soul’s deceit even for a second.” —Lāhījī, Mafātīḥ
Nafs in Arabic means “breath, vitality, vigor, or soul.” The egos, nafs, or desires within us have trapped or conditioned our essence, our consciousness. Every ego, defect, or desire, traps the energy of the consciousness within states of suffering. Every naf, like anger, pride, fear, laziness, gluttony, etc., squanders the energies of the psyche in atomic explosions of hatred, lust, and desire.
Meditation begins when we learn how to stop wasting energy: mental, emotional, volitional, sexual. You enact the initial stages of ethical discipline when you, as a consciousness, are observing your mind, heart, and body, your egos, seeing them as something inferior and separate from your consciousness. The deeper part comes through transformation, when you consciously choose not to give your ego what it wants. It is essential to develop the sense of self-observation in a very clear and strong manner, to be able to separate from the “I” in all its tenebrous multiplicity, to see and watch our defects in action, and to not act upon their impulses no matter how strong.
Each ego is a false identity, a false sense of self, which has nothing to do with our spiritual nature. The “I” has nothing to do with the Being, as well as the unconditioned, free consciousness. Each ego or false sense of self has trapped our consciousness, and now it is our work to extract the consciousness trapped in those errors by comprehending our defects and eliminating them.
The nafs, lower selves, or different “I’s” within us are the infidels mentioned throughout the Qur’an, Islam, and Sufism.
"There are two types of warfare (jihad): outward and inward. The outer battle is against the infidel (kāfar, or black magicians in the astral and mental planes) while the inner war is waged aggressively against the lower soul (nafs). Warriors of the sword are threefold: the slayer who is rewarded, the battle-weary vouchsafed forgiveness of sins, and the martyr who is slain. Likewise, the warriors of the soul are threefold: one who exerts himself who belongs to the just and the pious (abrār), one who excels in struggle who sustains the spiritual hierarchy (awtād), and one who is victorious, who is numbered amongst the apostolic saints (abdāl). One who wages war against the unbelievers (fornicating black magicians, the infidels) obtains wealth, but one who wages war against the soul is enriched with the wealth of the heart… The Prophet called the war against the lower soul (nafs) the “greater war” because, while one may avoid conflict with an external foe, none is exempt from the struggle against, and combat with, the lower soul. Peace can be secured from all enemies through negotiation or conciliation, but if one attempts to negotiate and reconcile the [lower] soul, one is doomed to perdition." —Maybudī, Kashf al-asrār, IV 60
Samael Aun Weor wrote that we must be compassionate to all beings, even towards the sorcerers and demons of the black lodge, but merciless to our ego. If you ever give what your ego wants, you deepen your suffering. When you do not give your ego what it wants, you experience happiness. This is karma in action.
When you don’t give your anger what it wants by identifying yourself with its thoughts, desires, and impulses, you save energy; you become hermetically sealed. Remember that in any moment, a sense of self, a false identity emerges within your mind, heart, and body that wants to push you to think, feel and act a certain way. If you as a free consciousness are vigilant, watchful, you perceive these false, multifarious identities within you. The more you, as a consciousness, restrain the mind from acting in harmful ways, by learning to see the egos in action, the more psychic energy you save. Likewise, the less you identify with any ego or defect, the more energy you save, and the more serene your mind becomes.
Energy is essential for spiritual life. If you are wasting your energy through negative behaviors, thinking, and sentiments, you will never learn to meditate. But when you restrain the mind and follow the precepts of meditative discipline, you enter the doorway into genuine self-knowledge, because you have energy available to empower the consciousness and relax the body and mind.
Our asana, meditative posture, is based on how we fulfill Yama and Niyama, restraint of mind or ego, and observances. Swami Sivananda wrote that our asana should be like a mountain, immovable, firm. If your mind is restless and agitated from desire, your body will not be able to sit still. If you are constantly moving during your practice, then you are not practicing at all, because any physical movement agitates the mind and its energies, preventing you from going deep into the consciousness to receive the imagery of the internal worlds. And if you have no energy with which to meditate, you will fall asleep in your posture if you are too comfortable.
Your posture should help you relax, but to the point that you maintain conscious remembrance of what you are doing at all times. If your posture is too comfortable but your consciousness not alert enough, then laziness kicks in and you fall asleep, such as when you lie down to practice. This is not meditation, and this is why we recommend that students in the beginning practice sitting up, either in the Western style, in a chair, or on a meditation cushion in a half-lotus or full lotus, if your body is flexible enough. The point is that your posture should be relaxed and firm to the point that you are perfectly at ease and can remember what you are doing consciously, that you maintain your ability to focus and remain attentive. Your asana needs to be comfortable to the point that you can forget the body and work with the subtle energies of the mind and heart.
By fulfilling the restraints and observances of meditative discipline, and to aid in the relaxation of body and mind, we work with pranayama. By conserving our energies and transforming them, we harness the power of the soul with our breath, since the Arabic word nafs means “soul” as well as “breath,” and is modified into different types of expression in accordance with Kabbalah.
Inspiration, nafas—literally “breath,” also “breathing space” or ample room—is the refreshment of hearts by the subtleties from the Unseen. A person who receives inspiration [from learning to aspire, or inspire, to inhale the vital breath through pranayama] is finer and clearer than a person who is open to mystical states [who is intuitive to a degree, but who does not practice this technique]. The person of the momentary inner experience is the beginning [meaning: the one who practices mindfulness, self-observation, and self-remembering], the inspired person is at the conclusion, and the person of [internal, psychological and spiritual states born from practice] is between the two. The states are means and inspirations are the end of progressive development. Moments belong to those who have hearts, states belong to those who possess spirit (ruh) [or Ruach], and inspirations belong to the people of inner being (sirr) [the Innermost Self / Atman]. The Sufis have said, “The best act of worship is the count the breaths along with God Glorified and Exalted.” —Al Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
This lecture will explain the purpose of pranayama, how to practice it, and how it is taught within the teachings of Sufism, the writings of Swami Sivananda, the Kabbalistic Tree of Life, and the doctrine of Samael Aun Weor.
Prana, Transmutation, and Brahmacharya
To control the mind, we work with its energies, which constitute different modifications of prana. Prana, in Sanskrit and hatha yoga, relates to the breath, to breathing, the air. Pranayama etymologically signifies, “to harness the wind” or “yoke” the life forces of the body.
Prana is much more profound than just breath. It is the force of “life, spirit, energy, and vitality” within air and our physical body. Prana is the life-force of divinity that we assimilate through our breathing, and which we find condensed and modified within the different elements of the cosmos and of nature.
Prana is the sum total of all energy that is manifest in the universe. It is the sum total of all the forces in nature. It is the sum total of all latent forces and powers which are hidden in men [and women] and which lie everywhere around us. Heat, light, electricity, magnetism are the manifestations of prana. […] Whatever moves or works or has life is but an expression of manifestation of prana. The prana is related to mind [Hod / Netzach] and through mind to will [Tiphereth], and through will to the individual soul [Tiphereth / Geburah], and through this to the Supreme Being [Chesed / Atman in Kabbalah]. If you know how to control the little waves of prana working thorough your mind, then the secret of subjugating universal prana will be known to you. –Swami Sivananda
Pranayama also is described within the gnostic tradition by the term transmutation, which is “The action of changing or the state of being changed into another form.”
Within our body is the most potent force of the universe, the sexual energy, the capacity to create life, which is found in a germinal state within the physical semen. This physical matter or semen can be used to create a physical child, but in spiritual sadhana, spiritual practice, we conserve the semen and transform this matter into energy, precisely through the exercise of controlling our breath, being fully concentrated, prayerful, and attentive, with the mind restrained.
As described in the book of Genesis, the spirit or breath of God hovered over the face of the waters. What spirit? The Ruach Elohim in Hebrew or ruh in Arabic, otherwise known as prana in Sanskrit, the divine forces that generate life. The prana, the energies of divinity, can be directed to yoke the sexual waters in our body, to transform that water into light. For as Genesis teaches us, “God said, ‘Let there be light!’ And there was light.” That light is consciousness and comprehension in meditation.
The word trans is a prefix used with the meanings such as “across,” “beyond,” “through,” and “changing thoroughly.” Mutation comes from mutate, “to change or cause to change in form or nature.” Transmutation is the science of changing the sexual water into light, carrying it up within our spine to the brain, mutating that semen into energy. This is accomplished through yoking the vital winds, the energies of our breath, mind, body, heart, and semen.
Prana is not only in the air, but in all the elements of nature and our body, within the aerial nature of our thoughts, the fires of our emotions, and solidity of our physical earth or body, and most importantly within the waters of our sexual organs. Prana condenses into multiple forms of matter and energy, most importantly sexual, which we transmute from the physical, brute semen, to feed our consciousness with light.
It’s important to remember that it is impossible to develop the consciousness without energy, and that the most important form of energy is sexual. Sexual energy is prana, the “vitality, power, vigour, and life” that can awaken our full potential.
The word prana bears similar etymological meaning as the Arabic word for soul, nafs, which can be lower [egotistical] or higher [conscious] depending on our work. How we harness energy is determined by the quality of practicing pranayama.
It’s interesting that the term prana can signify the sexual organs, which demonstrates that to work with pranayama is to control the creative energy and use it for our spiritual development. This is why chastity is emphasized by Patanjali, the yogis, and all genuine practitioners of every spiritual tradition. Chasity means restraint and transmutation of the sexual energy, the prana. This science has been known by the term Brahmacharya in the East, which is a Sanskrit word composed from:
Everyone in these times want to know how to meditate, but when instructed to restrain and control the sexual energy, to restrain the lower selves, egos, nafs, or desires, they run away. This is sad, because without harnessing the vital winds, the sexual energy, without going against the grain of one’s habits, one cannot learn meditation. To feed desire, our egos, lust, through identification, produces suffering. By expelling the very energies that can give life, we hinder our spiritual life. Meditation is impossible for individuals who have no prana, no energy, in their body that can empower the consciousness.
Brahmacharya literally means Achara or conduct that leads to the realization of Brahman or one’s own Self. It means the control of semen [the sexual matter within both men and women], the study of the Vedas (scriptures, as well as the sexual teachings of any religion) and contemplation on God. The technical meaning of Brahmacharya is self-restraint, particularly mastery of perfect control over the sexual organ or freedom from lust in thought, word and deed. —Swami Sivananda
The beginning of the path of meditation is to restrain the sexual energy, to not expel it in any form whatsoever. This energy must be conserved and transformed to give us spiritual life. Lustful people who ejaculate the sexual energy have no energy with which to calm the mind and learn meditation.
The scripture Siva Samhita describes seminal retention and transmutation as the basis of all meditative realization:
Ejaculation of semen [orgasm] brings death, preserving it within brings life. Therefore, one should make sure to retain the semen within. One is born and dies through semen; in this there is no doubt. Knowing this, the Yogi must always preserve his semen. When the precious jewel of semen is mastered, anything on earth can be mastered. Through the grace of its preservation, one becomes as great as me [Shiva]. The use of semen determines the happiness or pain of all beings living in the world, who are deluded [by desire] and are subject to death and decay." —Siva Samhita
Feeding desire, lust, only agitates the mind and psyche, for as Padmasambhava explained to Lady Tsogyal:
Lustful people do not enter the path of liberation.
This is of course the difficult thing, but fundamental to any progress.
Junayd was asked: "What is union with God [religion, religare, Yoga]?" He replied: "To renounce passion [fornication: the animal orgasm]," for of all of the acts of devotion by which God's favor is sought none has greater value than resistance to passion, because it is easier for a man to destroy a mountain with his nails than to resist passion [fornication]. —Al-Hujwiri, Kashf al-Mahjub, Revelation of the Mystery
The next steps include controlling lust in the heart and mind, which is of course more difficult. Students must fight against adulterous and lustful tendencies, the desire to look at the opposite sex with desire. As Jesus taught:
Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. —Matthew 5:27-28
The most manifest attribute of the lower soul is lust (shahwat). Lust is a thing that is dispersed in different parts of the human body, and is served by the senses. Man is bound to guard all his members from it [particularly the sexual organs, to train the body not to fornicate], and he shall be questioned concerning the acts of each. The lust of the eye is sight, that of the ear is hearing, that of the nose is smell, that of the tongue is speech, that of the palate is taste, that of the body (jasad) is touch, and that of the mind is thought (andíshídan). It behoves the seeker of God to spend his whole life day and night, in ridding himself of these incitements to passion which show themselves through the senses [by correctly transforming impressions in meditation], and to pray God to make him such that this desire will be removed from his inward nature [through contemplation and comprehension in meditation], since whoever is afflicted with lust is veiled from all spiritual things. —Al-Hujwiri, Kashf al-Mahjub, Revelation of the Mystery
First we conserve the sexual energy, learn to transform it in our body. With further discipline we no longer entertain lustful thoughts and desires in the heart. Pranayama is especially important for controlling lust, because if the consciousness has no energy, it has no strength by which to work against the monsters of desire. Pranayama will help you to acquire energy by which you can comprehend and annihilate the ego. As described by the ancient teachings of Manu:
Let the defects be burnt up by Pranayama. –Manu
Students are therefore taught, within ethical discipline, not to fornicate, and why Buddha taught his disciples that one is no longer a disciple if they do not fulfill the observances and restraints of chastity. Pranayama and sexual purity, therefore are essential in the eightfold steps of meditation and yoga, since the subsequent principles of meditation are founded on this. Attempting to perform pranayama without fuel, without sexual energy present, is like trying to pump fuel from a gas station when there is none. No water, no fuel, no light. Yet by practicing sexual purity, one can enter very rapidly into the science of meditation.
“With the practice of Pranayama, the mind of the student is prepared for Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi.” —Samael Aun Weor
Energy and the Kabbalistic Tree of Life
The nature of prana must be analyzed, by gnostic students, through the Kabbalah, the Tree of Life. This Tree of Life maps out for us the varying modalities and condensations of matter, consciousness, energy or prana, the Christic force, which is manifest throughout the entire cosmos, as Swami Sivananda and Samael Aun Weor have explained very well.
This map has ten spheres or Sephiroth, translated from Hebrew as “emanations,” which are organized into three trinities with a single sephirah or sphere at the bottom, named Malkuth, the physical body or kingdom.
Our body is a kingdom with many elements, forces and principles, that we must harness if we want to ascend this graphic, to perceive more refined and profound levels of consciousness, indicated by the higher spheres of this tree.
Don’t think about this glyph as something outside of you, but within. This image maps out states of perception, in more refined or gross levels, from the most subtle above to the most dense below. This has nothing to do with vertical space, in the true application of this graphic.
The Tree of Life emerges from the Abstract Absolute Space, the Unknowable Seity or Ain. From within the Ain, the Nothingness of cosmic, abstract space, is our own particular supra-divine star, the Ain Soph, the Limitless. And from the Ain Soph emerges the Ain Soph Aur, the Limitless Light, the Cosmic Khrestos or Christ.
This light manifests into the universe as the top trinity of this graphic. This undifferentiated light of the Ain Soph Aur is the Prana in its most rarified state, which, in order to be developed, needs to enter into the universe to create its diverse regions and forms, unfolding into more material states of matter, energy, and experience.
The top trinity is known as the Logoic triangle, the Christic forces of Kether, Chokmah, and Binah, or Father, Son and Holy Spirit in Christian terms. These three spheres are not people, but energies. This trinity is the power of creation, genesis, which are three aspects of one light or force; prana, in other words. Because this power is in a refined state, it is elevated, superior, rarified, yet for that power to develop, it must materialize, condense, descend to the lower regions of this tree, to be worked upon consciously.
Prana condenses into other forms of matter, energy and perception, represented by the Sephiroth below. To work with prana above, we must work with that energy below, within the lower aspects of our being. We can analyze the nature and modifications of prana in different ways, especially in accordance with the septenary constitution of the human being, which is:
7. Atman: the Innermost Being, our Inner Buddha or God [Chesed]
6. Buddhi: the consciousness, the Divine Soul [Geburah]
5. Superior Manas: the Human Soul, Willpower, Causal body [Tiphereth]
4. Inferior Manas: the mind, Mental body [Netzach]
3. Kama Rupa: the body of desires, the Astral body [Hod]
2. Linga-sarira: the Vital (Ethereal) body [Yesod]
1. Sthula-sarira: the physical body [Malkuth]
—Samael Aun Weor, Kundalini Yoga: The Mysteries of the Fire
Atman, Buddhi, and Superior Manas constitute the middle trinity, the Ethical triangle of the Tree of Life, relating to our genuine humanity and the spiritual principles of our inner divinity that guide us in the work. This trinity is the real Being or inner spirit [Chesed], divine soul [Geburah], and human soul [Tiphereth], the latter sometimes referred to superior manas, superior mind in Sanskrit.
Our consciousness is a fraction of the human soul, known as Tiphereth in Kabbalah. This middle sephirah in the very center of the Tree of Life is known by the term superior manas in Theosophy.
This term mind can be very vague in esoteric and spiritual circles. Superior manas, Tiphereth, is abstract, not concrete. It is our willpower. We know it’s there, but it is not materialized, visible. We can say that a person has tremendous will, because they have internal drive and a means of working, making a living, being disciplined in a specific type of endeavor, etc. Willpower is very real for us, but hard to pinpoint or concretize. It relates to a type of abstraction of the psyche, one relating to volition or will.
Our consciousness emanated from Atman-Buddhi-Manas, Chesed-Geburah-Tiphereth, and has entered the lower sephiroth: mind, heart, vitality, and physicality. This is in order to acquire knowledge and experience.
Our inner Being, spirit, Buddha, Atman, gives the consciousness intuitions and hunches, as well as inspiration to practice spirituality through learning to control the lower aspects of ourselves, the lower trinity in this glyph. Tiphereth, superior manas or willpower, must control the lower aspects of the psyche.
This is essential in pranayama, because to harness the prana, we must control our thoughts, feelings, and impulses, which are the vehicles of our ego.
The Inferior Manas is our mind [Netzach], which is more concrete. People have an easier time acknowledging thoughts than they do with comprehending will.
The Kama Rupa or desire / astral body [Hod] is the seat of emotions, which everybody acknowledges to a degree.
The Linga-sarira, or vital body [Yesod], is our vital energies that give life to our physicality. This vital body is the body of prana. It is the storehouse of all the prana that descends from the top trinity, descending through the Sephiroth and finally coalescing in our vital body, which exists in the fourth dimension. This vehicle sustains the chemical, biological, catabolic, metabolic, etheric, and vital processes of our physical body: the Sthula-sarira, Malkuth. Without the vital body and its circulation of prana throughout the physical body, we would not be alive.
These three lower spheres: Inferior Manas, Kama Rupa, and Linga-sarira, or Netzach, Hod, and Yesod, constitute the triangle of Priesthood. This triangle is the work with magic, from the Indo-European root word mag, meaning “priest” or “magician.”
Magic is not pulling rabbits out of hats, or impressing people with clever tricks. Magic is knowing how to consciously manipulate matter and energy, prana, within our tree of life, through willpower and visualization.
Pranayama is a form of magic, whereby we manipulate creative forces within our mind, heart, and body. To control the mind, with its racing, uncontrolled thoughts, the heart, with its surging emotions, and the impulses and instincts of the body, constitute the beginning of our meditative discipline. When you experience a calm mind through pranayama, you come to realize how magical this science really is, since it produces the serenity and clarity of the soul.
The prerequisites of meditation involve stilling the body, the vital energies, the heart, the mind, and our willpower, the lower five Sephiroth of the Kabbalah. Let us be very clear: stilling the mind is not meditation; it is the beginning. Genuine meditation is about receiving internal information about ourselves and the cosmos, the science of comprehension and understanding. This is an important distinction to make, because pranayama aids the practitioner in calming the psyche so that the waters of the mind can reflect internal principles.
See here the lower five spheres of the Tree of Life? These are all different aspects of our psyche, which need to be controlled and calmed through yoking prana. Mind is a form of prana. Emotions are a form of prana. And the sexual energy is condensed prana that serves as the foundation for meditation, since prana, the Linga-sarira or vital body, is the foundation of this graphic.
The mind or body of desires are controlled using vital energy, the vital body or Linga-sarira. Notice how this vital body, Linga-sarira or sphere of Yesod is the very center of the Tree of Life, as well as at its base or foundation. Yesod literally means “foundation.” Yesod is the basis of spiritual and physical life.
The word Lingam refers to the sexual organs, specifically the phallus, hence the strong correlation between prana or Linga-sarira and the sexual glands. The yoni in Hinduism symbolizes the uterus, and its union with the lingam represents the highest consubstantiation of divine love. Prana literally means “vital organs,” and refers to semen, since in certain rituals like the puja, the Hindus pour milk over the symbol of the Lingam-Yoni as an offering to divinity. That milk is semen, transmuted sexual energy, prana, which are found within the union of the lingam-yoni.
Our physical semen is condensed prana. It is vital energy in a material state. Through the science of pranayama, we yoke, transmute, and elevate the energies of sex, so that the body, mind, heart, and will become balanced and prepared for actual meditation.
While prana means “life,” yama means “restraint” or “death.” Yama is the deity of death in esoteric Buddhism. This is very interesting linguistically.
Samael Aun Weor wrote that if the seed does not die, the plant cannot be born. If you want to experience the entirety of the Tree of Life in meditation, you must give birth to that tree through the sexual seed. When the seed dies and is transmuted, it becomes a Tree of Life. This is well known by initiates in the science of alchemy or Da’ath.
Pranayama, therefore, helps to transform the seed, by destroying the matter, to convert it into energy. By this we do not mean that one can give birth to the entirety of the soul through pranayama. The solar bodies can only be created in a marriage. Instead, pranayama aids single practitioners in circulating the energies of sexuality, to a certain degree, to stabilize one’s concentration and mind in preparation for dhyana, meditation.
The mind must be united with its Divine Triad, together with the psychic extractions of the astral, vital and physical vehicles.
The inferior Manas together with the Kamas, Prana and Linga, reinforce the Divine Triad by means of fire. –Samael Aun Weor, Igneous Rose
We reinforce the powers of the Being by working with prana. The inferior manas or mind, the emotions or body of desires, and the prana or Linga-sarira, reinforce the middle Triad through the work with sexual fire. Mind, emotions, and sexuality help to support the principles above through pranayama. Atman-Buddhi-Manas are strengthened through yoking the fires of sexuality below, which are contained within the waters of genesis, the sexual matter.
People who do not work with the creative energies have a weak connection with their inner Being. People who fornicate lose their connection with divinity. However, this connection can be re-established the more we work with transmutation. This becomes evident through internal experiences in meditation.
While pranayama works with sparks of fire, the sexual fire must be harnessed or yoked in a matrimony to fully develop the creative energies.
All this work of transmutation is performed with willpower, our human soul, the superior manas or Tiphereth. Our will must exert itself to control the sexual energy through spiritual inspiration, emanating from Atman-Buddhi. Prana then produces a profound calming effect on the mind, heart, and body below.
Pranayama, interchanging nostril breathing, requires a form of effort or will to perform. It also involves imagining the circulation of forces in your body and mind. This is the superior manas or willpower in action, in combination with our capacities for perception and imagination, known as Geburah in Kabbalah, the sphere of Buddhi, the divine consciousness.
We must perceive what we are doing in every practice, especially Pranayama and sexual transmutation. As we are going to elaborate upon in our discussion of “Spiritual Insight,” the capacity to perceive is imagination, to see internal, psychic things, the movement of energies. Pranayama involves willpower to control the energies, through our breath, serenity, and composure. We also need perception of those forces inside. These are abilities that the practitioner develops gradually through consistent discipline.
Energy, Nadis, and the Nervous Systems
We have an image here of the nervous systems of the body, which become charged with vitality when we learn how to circulate those forces with our willpower and imagination. Hinduism refers to energetic channels in the vital depth, the etheric body of Yesod, as nadis. There exist millions of nadis in our vital body, which are intimately related with the chakras of our ultra-biology, the latter composed of the internal chemistry of forces and energies that interdependently flow through our physicality and internal vehicles.
A nadi is a line or current of vital energy, and when two nadis intersect, you form a vortex, a wheel of energy, a chakra. People believe there are only seven chakras, which is wrong, because wherever two nadis join, you form a vortex or wheel of forces. While there are seven main chakras connected with the spinal medulla, we really possess hundreds of thousands of chakras throughout our body, each with their own purpose, role, and influence.
The cerebrospinal, grand sympathetic, and other nervous systems are physical conduits for etheric energies. Therefore, the nadis of the internal bodies, the vital depth, correspond to the physical, vital, and fluidic matter that circulates in our body. The nervous systems function because of the gelatinous and delicate fluids of the nerves, and it is well known in physical science that most of our body is composed of water. When we learn to conserve the vital waters of our body, the seminal matter and its concomitant energies, we can transmute those waters into another substance, into cognizance, conscious energy, and light.
Remember that we stated that our sexual waters, our semen, is a gelatinous substance or condensed prana. Prana, in its unmodified form, is light. That light descends the Tree of Life and enters Yesod, materializing to form the entity of semen. Now the work we need to do is to transform or transmute the sexual substance into cognizance, fire, and light with the sacred breath. This light saturates the brain and nervous systems, flowing within and upward to the brain up the different energetic channels.
Because the brain and spine are surrounded by nerves, it follows logically that the nadis condense and unite in innumerable spaces throughout the vital body, which penetrates within the material brain, spine, and nervous systems. Do not make the mistake of thinking that the vital body is separate from your physical body, because the vital depth gives life to your physicality, and is a biological vehicle that penetrates and co-penetrates every atom of the physical body, like a mirror image. It is made of etheric matter in the fourth dimension, matter which is pliable, elastic, and fluidic, relating intimately with the health of your brain and nervous systems. Without the vital body, we would not be able to physically exist, since it is the fourth-dimensional aspect of your material, physical, third-dimensional body, since every atom of your etheric body penetrates every atom of your physical body, giving you life. The day your vital depth disconnects from the physical body is the day you die physically, since without ether, prana, we would not have life.
Prana and the etheric body have been well documented by the Kirlian camera, a device developed by a Russian scientist that photographs the vital aura of people, plants, and even minerals. All living things have prana, even supposedly inorganic matter like metals and earth. This type of science demonstrates how the vital body of any living thing is inseparable from its material, physical form.
The Tree of Life in our physical body is our spine, so while there is a macrocosmic implication to studying the universe, our spine is how we have physical and spiritual life, especially when we learn how to circulate prana in our secondary or sexual system, as described by Master Morya in his Dayspring of Youth.
The two main energetic channels we focus on with pranayama are Ida and Pingala, or the lunar and solar currents. By the term “lunar,” what we mean are feminine, negative, or receptive forces in the body, whether we are male or female, and by “solar,” we mean the masculine, positive, or projective forces of the body, whether we are male or female. These forces originate within our gonads, the testicles or ovaries. In the same manner that an electrical current has a positive, negative, and neutral current, our sexual system likewise has masculine, feminine, and neutral forces and nadis. Through controlling and directing prana, we circulate vital force through the nadis Ida and Pingala up the spine in the form of an eight, the caduceus of mercury with its two entwining serpents, a representation of the solar and lunar energetic currents. While Ida is feminine and Pingala is masculine, the spinal column is the neutral, grounding current by which masculine and feminine cohabit, unify, and reconcile. The energetic nadi of the spine is known as Sushumna nadi.
When we learn to harness the energies contained within our waters with our breathing, with pranayama, we can raise and circulate such vital forces from the gonads up the spine, through Ida and Pingala, to awaken sparks of a third force in the base of the spine through the Sushumna nadi. This third force is known in the East as Kundalini and the West as the fire of Pentecost.
As Samael Aun Weor indicated in his writings:
The yogi/yogini works with the Great Breath or Cosmic Chrestos that is deposited within the Christonic semen when they are practicing Pranayama. Pranayama (a practice that consists of making profound inhalations of air, and retaining the inhaled air as much as possible, and afterwards exhaling the air until emptying the lungs), also teaches about the poles of the energy: one masculine pole located in the brain (cerebrospinal nervous system) and the feminine pole in the heart (grand sympathetic nervous system). Thus, as when we form two poles in the space through a magneto, we create new energies and these forcedly are giving birth to a third pole; likewise, we affirm that the third pole is Devi Kundalini, which, from the union of the solar and lunar atoms, is born within the Triveni, situated in the coccyx. These two polarities, masculine and feminine—from the Great Breath—prove the sexuality of Prana and Kundalini. Kundalini is absolutely sexual. —Samael Aun Weor, Kundalini Yoga: The Mysteries of the Fire
Kundalini and Pranayama
Pranayama is absolutely sexual, in the same manner that Kundalini is the sexual potency. By working with pranayama, single persons yoke their creative energies to a certain, limited degree, while prana is fully activated throughout the spine and nervous systems through sexual magic between man and woman, husband and wife, who are simultaneously working to eliminate their defects through profound comprehension in meditation.
The Kundalini is the sacred sexual fire of the Holy Spirit. Individuals can awaken sparks of Kundalini within the base of the coccyx up the spine through the exercise of pranayama. To fully awaken Kundalini, one needs to be working in a matrimony.
Let us be clear about the nature of the Kundalini. Kundalini is the power of the Divine Mother, the enlightenment of God. Many people believe that the Divine Mother, the Kundalini, is a mechanical force, one that can awaken randomly and cause numerous psychological and spiritual problems, such as rising in the wrong way, causing delusions or mental imbalances, etc. People who attribute these phenomena with Kundalini awakening ignore their own destructive habits, ignore the law of karma, cause and effect, because Devi Kundalini harms no one. What is sad is that such people ignore that the Divine Mother is the wisdom of the universe, the cosmos, which is structured and maintained by divine intelligence.
The Divine Mother does not harm Her child. People hurt themselves, not because of the Divine Mother Kundalini. Our inner goddess only rewards virtues, chastity, purity, and ethical discipline. People develop imbalances and psychological problems due to fornication, which the Divine Mother does not reward. She can only awaken within a couple that is meditating and comprehending the ego daily, working on their defects and praying for their elimination; She emerges within people who develop virtue. She awakens within a couple that not only conserves and transmutes the sexual energy, but who are following the precepts (Niyama) and ethical restraints (Yama) of religion. The Kundalini is very demanding, since She only rises within the spine of the couple in accordance with the merits and qualities of the heart. As Paul of Tarsus stated in Corinthians:
Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. —1 Corinthians 6:9-10
Observe your mind. Are you not filled with desire, with fornication, the lustful eye that craves sexual satisfaction with many women, with many men? Are you truly free from the adulterous eye that wants to copulate with others constantly, even if it is just in your imagination or fantasies? Are you sure that your mind is pure and filled with virtues, rather than vices? Do you abstain from alcohol, thievery of stealing of other people’s ideas, energy, belongings, money? Are you sure that you do not extort others to do what you want, even under the guise of sanctity, kindness, and generosity? Are you positive that you have never betrayed anyone, including your inner divinity?
Be sure that if you are filled with these qualities, and even when you practice sexual magic, the Divine Mother will not reward you. She only rises within the spine of the couple who are meditating every day on the ego, those who are working to eliminate the “I” first through discovery of defects in self-observation, then their judgment in meditation, followed by their execution through prayer. This is the fundamental law of action and consequence.
People have a lot of theories about the Kundalini, but none of it is factual or based on evidence, observed facts in one’s daily life. We mention this because in relation to the teachings of pranayama, ethical discipline is the same: if you want to transmute your energies through pranayama, you must be ethical, practicing restraint (Yama) and following specific observances (Niyama). While many religions have a lot of explanations about virtues and vices, the best of it all is synthesized in one simple principle: do not give the ego what it wants. Deny thyself, bear up your alchemical cross of sacrifice, and follow the example of your Intimate Christ, your real Being within you.
You learn to control prana by controlling your mind, by not feeding your egos from moment to moment. By controlling prana in its diverse modifications, we control the mind and the vital flow of energies in our etheric body.
Kundalini is intimately related with the Prana that circulates throughout the 72,000 nadis or Astral conduits that nourish the chakras. The chakras are connected with the mind. Yogi and yogini have to christify their mind. Prana is life, and it circulates throughout all of our organs. Prana circulates throughout all of our nadis and vital canals. All the 72,000 nadis of our organism have their fundamental base in the nadi Kanda. The nadi Kanda is situated between the sexual organs and the anus. The Kanda collects all of the sexual energy that circulates throughout the 72,000 canals of our organism. The sexual energy is Prana, life. […] …The nadis Ida and Pingala are found side to side of the spinal medulla. These nadis entwine around the spinal medulla in similar shape to the number eight. The heavenly path is inside the nadi Sushumna. The Kundalini ascends throughout the Brahmanadi. The Brahmanadi is found situated inside another very subtle canal that runs throughout the length of the spinal medulla and is known with the name of Chitra. The seven chakras known with the names of Muladhara, Svadhisthana, Manipura, Anahata, Vishudda, Ajna, and Sahasrara are over this nadi Chitra. —Samael Aun Weor, Kundalini Yoga: The Mysteries of the Fire
When the Kundalini awakens, it rises within the Sushumna canal within the spinal column and awakens the main chakras of the spine. Likewise, the 72,000 nadis or circuits of the astral body, as well as the vital body, circulate. 72,000 is a symbolic number, because there exist many more nadis. 72 reminds us of the 72 sacred names of God in Kabbalah. Likewise, making the kabbalistic addition of 7+2 makes 9, the number of Yesod of Kabbalah. The ninth sephirah from the top to the bottom of the Tree of Life relates to the vital / etheric body, the linga-sarira.
Given the sexual nature of prana, it is logical that single disciples possess limited capacities for elevating the creative energies, prana, or fires of sex. A single person can awaken sparks of Kundalini through pranayama, producing certain mystical experiences, whereas married couples can awaken their full potential.
It’s important to reflect on these things and to clarify some misconceptions regarding this subject. Swami Sivananda once wrote:
“No Samadhi is possible unless Kundalini is awakened.” —Swami Sivananda, The Science of Pranayama
Samadhi is conscious experience, in meditation, devoid of the “me,” “myself,” the ego. Many students have misinterpreted this statement of Sivananda to indicate that one cannot have any spiritual experiences without working in the perfect matrimony, which is not true. What Sivananda explained is that whether single or married, the fire of Kundalini produces ecstasy in different degrees.
Many practitioners of yoga have also mistakenly attributed their work with pranayama to the full awakening of the Kundalini, because such disciples have many intense, spiritual, conscious experiences resulting from their practice, which they do not know how to explain except that their Kundalini has fully awakened.
Having such experiences is valuable and necessary, but it is not the end goal, nor is it an indicator that one is finished in the work.
Single persons can awaken sparks of that fire, but the full manifestation of the Divine Mother is only developed amongst couples working in chastity, meditation, and selfless service for humanity.
Remember that a man has one sexual polarity dominant and a woman has the other sexual polarity dominant. If an individual wants to awaken the full potential forces of their respective sex, he or she needs a sexual compliment, the opposite sex, to awaken the reconciliating force. Man and woman, husband and wife, when sexually united and harnessing the creative energy, awaken a third power, the serpent Kundalini, which typically lies dormant in the base of the spine, in the Chakra Muladhara, coiled three and a half times and awaiting the moment of its awakening through the science of love.
This does not undervalue the work of pranayama, but puts it in context. Single disciples can work with pranayama, can maintain their chastity, through these breathing exercises. When disciples are married they can take their practice further, applying the same principles of Yama, Niyama, and Pranayama but with the tremendously added force of sexual union, which is known in the East as tantrism.
Single people can light a candle up their spine, but husband and wife can awaken the power of millions of suns. This is the literal difference. Single disciples must learn to prepare for a matrimony through pranayama, which is why in ancient schools of yoga, many masters would train their disciples in Brahmacharya before giving them the ultimate secret of sexual alchemy, tantrism, marital union. This was obviously done in secret to avoid scandals and the fears of sexually degenerate people.
Once disciples have demonstrated their sincerity, prudence, and dedication to their spiritual exercises, to pranayama, then the master would unveil the higher mysteries.
Breath, Mind, Chakras, and the Circulation of Prana
So why all this explanation about the creative energies in the context of this course of meditation? If you want to still the mind, naturally and without force, you must practice pranayama and transmutation. Your mind or mental states are determined by how you use energy. If you use energy to feed desire, then the mind becomes provoked, stimulated, and distracted. Harnessing prana helps to calm the mind, and prana is intimately related with your virya or virility. Virya simply means sexual potency, which is the root word for virile (to possess sexual potency and strength) and well as virtue, since the virtues of the soul are born through the intentional use and practice of pranayama.
Prana, mind, and virya (sexual energy) are under one sambhanda [connection]. If you can control prana, then mind and virya and controlled by themselves. If you control the virya by remaining as an akhanda bramachari without emission of even a single drop of semen (sexual energy, whether male or female) for twelve years, then mind and prana are controlled by themselves. —Swami Sivananda, The Science of Pranayama
By controlling the breath with willpower, by consciously visualizing the circulation of energies, the prana circulates throughout our nervous systems, stimulating the chakras, in the same manner that electricity flows through a circuit. These energies stabilize the lake of the mind in preparation for meditation. As Swami Sivananda explains in The Science of Pranayama:
Breath is external manifestation of Prana, the vital force. Breath like electricity, is gross Prana. Breath is Sthula, gross. Prana is Sukshma, subtle. By exercising control over this breathing you can control the subtle Prana inside. Control of Prana means control of mind. Mind cannot operate without the help of Prana. The vibrations of Prana only produce thoughts in the mind. It is Prana that moves the mind. It is Prana that sets the mind in motion. It is the Sukshma Prana or Psychic Prana that is intimately connected with the mind. This breath represents the important fly-wheel of an engine. Just as the other wheels stop when the driver stops the fly-wheel, so also other organs cease working, when the Yogi stops the breath. If you can control the fly-wheel, you can easily control the other wheels. Likewise, if you can control the external breath, you can easily control the inner vital force, Prana. The process by which the Prana is controlled by regulation of external breath, is termed Pranayama. Just as a goldsmith removes the impurities of gold by heating it in the hot furnace, by strongly blowing the blow-pipe, so also the Yogic student removes the impurities of the body and the Indriyas by blowing his lungs, i.e., by practising Pranayama. The chief aim of Pranayama is to unite the Prana with the Apana and take the united Pranapana slowly towards the head. The effect or fruit of Pranayama is Udghata or awakening of the sleeping Kundalini. –Swami Sivananda, The Science of Pranayama
The energetic channels or nadis are typically filthy, blocked and closed in us, which is the source of many illnesses and conditions that make us suffer physically, sexually, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. The circuitry of our vital body tends to be clogged with many negative psychic elements and riddled with impurities caused by unhealthy food, negative environmental influences, and most importantly, degenerated habits in the mind, heart, and body. Many students experience problems in controlling the sexual energy because the nadis are blocked and polluted. Such blockages stimulate the creative energies in a way that force them to flow from inside out, from within to outside the body, problems exemplified as nocturnal pollutions and unwilled seminal ejaculation during the sexual act. Many practitioners, when beginning sexual magic, have difficulty controlling the creative force. This is due to the poor circulation of vital energies.
As Swami Sivananda indicated, “Just as a goldsmith removes the impurities of gold by heating it in the hot furnace, by strongly blowing the blow-pipe, so also the Yogic student removes the impurities of the body and the Indriyas [the energetic roots of sensation] by blowing his lungs, i.e., by practising Pranayama.” As we explained, many practitioners in the ancient traditions of yoga would work with Pranayama for many years before working in a matrimony, precisely because to work with sexual magic, the practitioners should be firmly grounded and knowledgeable about how to transmute their energies as bachelors. It would be absurd for people who know nothing of transmuting their energies, practicing daily meditation, and working on the ego to begin sexual magic all at once. It is best if such persons learn pranayama in preparation for the greater mysteries of the fire, because pranayama helps to cleanse the impurities of the body and help the energy circulate properly. When the nadis are clean through the exercise of pranayama, the vital forces flow and rejuvenate the body and mind. In this manner, the sexual act is easier to take advantage of without risk of spilling the semen.
The word for wind in Sanskrit is Vayu. Vayu is a term for the element air in the body. Vayu apana relates to the bodily winds that help with the processes of excretion, urination, and menstruation, associated with the functions of the lower pelvis, the intestines, and the anus. Apana also relates to this part of the body, the energy associated with the abdomen, as well as the elimination of waste products from the body. Sivananda explained that with pranayama, we are uniting the prana from without with the apana within, mixing the vital energies in our breath with the vital energies of our coccyx and lower abdomen to slowly raise it to the mind. This process awakens sparks of the sleeping Kundalini.
We’ve included in this graphic an image of the main chakras of the body. Chakra literally means “wheel,” and the fly-wheels that Swami Sivananda references are the chakras. The chakras are vortexes of forces that flow by the power of prana, the vital breath or seminal energies. Chakras literally spin, like a water mill, when there is energy available, which is why Rumi, the great Sufi poet, stated:
From the heart of the lovers, blood flows like a vast river. Our body is the windmill, and love, the water. Without water the mill cannot turn. —Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī, Hidden Music
What waters make it possible for the chakras to spin? The sexual waters, the seminal energy. When yoked through pranayama, the chakras turn like a water mill, but if the seminal waters are ejaculated through lust, then the chakras remain dormant, asleep, incapacitated, without energy to circulate within them.
Prana, Christic energy, modifies into the tattvas, which are different condensations of this energy in the form of the main elements composing physical and spiritual nature. Through alternated breathing of our nostrils, we assimilate these modifications of energy in order to awaken consciousness.
The respiration through the right nasal cavity is called Suria or Pingala. We cause through this respiration the ascension of the solar atoms from our seminal system.
The respiration through the left nasal cavity is called Chandra or Ida. We cause through this respiration the ascension of the lunar atoms from our seminal system.
We reinforce the Three Breaths of pure Akasha [the sacred sound and fires of Christ] with the exercises of Pranayama. These Three Breaths are combined with the solar and lunar atoms of our seminal system to awaken Devi Kundalini.
Prana is the Vital Christ or Great Breath [the Ain Soph Aur]. That Vital Christ is modified into Akasha [the superior waters of Kabbalah and the fires of Da’ath], within which the Son, the First Begotten, the Purusha of every human being, is hidden.
Akasha is modified into Ether, and the Ether is transformed into Tattvas. The Tattvas are the origin of fire, air, water, and earth. —Samael Aun Weor, Kundalini Yoga: The Mysteries of the Fire
These tattvas relate to the seven chakras in the following manner:
The four elements relate to our mind, heart, vitality, and body, or air, fire, water, and earth, respectively. Pranayama aids us in controlling the aerial nature of thought, the igneous powers of the heart, the aqueous nature of our vital energies, and the materiality of our earth, our physicality. While the four elements relate to our three brains and body in this way, the chakras have slightly different correlations as you see in this graphic.
Akasha is the primordial fire hidden within the cosmic space. Akasha is a force in nature that is divine, and can be designated by sound, light, and cognition. The power of the Akasha manifests in the throat, the Verb, through the alchemical knowledge of Da’ath.
Adi means light, relating to the prana, the Christic energy, which condenses and accumulates in the third eye chakra, Ajna, to develop spiritual insight, the subject of a future lecture. Samadhi tattva also relates to prana, since this is the power that grants omniscience and cosmic consciousness at the top of the head.
Conscious breathing, within Sufi schools, is synonymous with light, with illuminating the mind, the creation of the true human being. Regarding the intrinsic relationship of breath with light, Al-Qushayri wrote the following in his Risalah: Principles of Sufism:
Abu-l-Hasan al-Nuri was asked, “What is the origin of spiritual insight in the one who has it?” He answered, “It comes from the saying of the Most High, ‘And I breathed into him (Adam) of My Spirit’ (15:29).
If someone’s share of this light is more perfect, his vision is wiser and his judgment based on his insight is more truer. Do you not see how the breathing of the Spirit into Adam made it necessary for the angels to prostrate before him? For the Most High said, ‘I formed him and I breathed into him of My Spirit, so fall down before him in prostration’ (15:29).”
…In this mention of the breathing of the Spirit [Abu-l Hasan al-Nuri] was aiming to correct those who say that souls are uncreated. The situation is not as it might occur to the hearts of the weak. That to which this breathing (and union and separation) are properly attributed is liable to influence and alteration, which are signs of the transitoriness of created things. Yet God Glorious and Exalted has chosen the believers for perceptions and lights through which they come to possess insight. In essence, these are forms of the knowledge of God. This is the import of the Prophet’s saying, “The believer sees by the light of God”—that is, by a knowledge and inner vision for which God Most High has specially chosen him and by means of which He has distinguished him from others like him. To call these kinds of knowledge and perceptions “lights” is not an innovation, and to describe that process as “breathing” is not reaching far afield. What is intended is one’s created nature. —Al Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
The sexual energy creates insight, spiritual life. We create the soul through the sexual energy, a power that can produce experiences of astral projection, awakening within dreams, feats of jinn science, clarified perception, developed intuition and comprehension of problems, detachment from egotistical desires and worldliness, egotism, hatred, lightness of body and mind, health, vigor, etc. These are the different “lights” implied within Sufi language.
Pranayama and Sexual Magic in the Upanishads
The sacred Hindu scriptures, the Upanishads, also teach all this in synthesis. We are going to provide a commentary for the chapter 2, verses 6 and 8-17 from the Śvetāśvataropaniṣad, to emphasize the points we’ve previously made and to show some of the traditional basis for which this practice is elaborated.
We’ve included an image of Christ’s crucifixion in relation to this topic, because the cross is the sexual union of husband and wife through the vertical, phallic beam and the horizontal, uterine beam. Through union of masculine and feminine forces, the ego dies through the fire of the Kundalini and gives birth to the resurrected soul.
Where the fire is rubbed, where the wind is checked, where the soma flows over, there the mind is born. —Śvetāśvataropaniṣad
When husband and wife sexually unite, their private parts rub and produce erotic fire. When their breathing is in check, controlled, when the prana is harnessed consciously, the seminal energies are transmuted.
The word soma means many things, such as body or plant juice, the latter being traditionally used as Vedic offerings during rituals. Soma is sometimes referred to as the drink or nectar of immortality, an ambrosia or milk of the gods. This is none other than the prana, the seminal energies.
The bodies of the soul are created through the alchemical cross, when the soma is flowing within the nadis or Sushumna canal. Soma literally means body in Greek and can refer to the solar bodies of tantrism.
If a wise man holds his body steady with its three parts (chest, neck, and head) even, turns his senses with the mind inward to enter the heart, he will then in the boat of brahman [om] cross all the fearful torrents. —Śvetāśvataropaniṣad
Rubbing the fire of sexuality applies more so to a matrimony, but can refer to how individual yogis, who practice pranayama, awaken sparks of that fire in their spine through profound concentration and deep, unwavering prayer. In the same manner that a couple controls the breath and transmutes the soma, the prana, a bachelor or bachelorette performs transmutation on their own.
Pranayama must be performed with the chest, neck, and head steady, in a good posture. You cannot circulate the prana appropriately if your body is not firm, stable, and relaxed, with your head even with your torso and your spine straight.
What are the fearful torrents we must cross through pranayama? The assaults of lust, which have polluted our nadis and sexual waters. The boat of brahman is the ark of the covenant, the ark of Noah that carries us above the waters of degeneration in the mind.
Compressing his breathings let him, who has subdued all motions, breathe forth through the nose with gentle breath. Let the wise man successfully restrain his mind, that chariot yoked with vicious horses [senses]. —Śvetāśvataropaniṣad
The Upanishads refer to the mind, emotions, vitality, and physical body as horses which the real Self, Atman, the Inner Buddha or charioteer, must control. He does this through the reins, his divine and human souls, through willpower. The senses also relate to the lower Sephiroth as well as how our sensual, material consciousness apprehends life.
Let him perform his exercises in a place which is level, pure, free from pebbles, fire, and filth, delightful by its sounds, its water, and bowers, not painful to the eye, and is full of shelters and caves. —Śvetāśvataropaniṣad
I have known people who want to begin meditation while living in a filthy and dirty home. This is very difficult. The tidiness of our home reflects what we psychologically carry within. Your home should be your temple where you sit to practice, to devote yourself to God, your Being. Our practices are amplified when we dedicate a special room for our exercises of pranayama and meditation, since the energies we attract help to produce serenity and peace in our home. Pranayama cleans the mind and nadis, so to live in squalor will hinder our spiritual work, because the environment affects our practice, and vice versa.
When yoga is being performed, the forms which come first, producing apparitions in brahman, are those of misty smoke, sun, fire, wind, fire-flies, lightnings, and a crystal moon. —Śvetāśvataropaniṣad
Students go through many experiences when pranayama is consistently practiced, frequently, every day, for prolonged periods of time. Remember the Sufi scripture I just read, that breathing is synonymous with lights? Smoke can refer to the cloudiness of the mind, which students apprehend when they initiate pranayama. They receive experiences from the internal planes that their skies, the mind, is filled with darkness. This is a crucial step to make, because it shows us what work must be done, and that we must persist in our discipline.
Sun, fire, wind, fire-flies, lightnings, and crystal moons represent different forms of light or insights we achieve through working with the creative energy.
When, as earth, water, light, heat, and space arise, the fivefold quality of yoga takes place, then there is no longer illness, old age, or pain for him who has obtained a body, produced by the fire of yoga. —Śvetāśvataropaniṣad
Remember the chakras, the four elements, and the tattvas? These become amplified through pranayama, which produce longevity, health, youth, and life. The fire of yoga can relate to Tummo Yoga or inner heat yoga in Tibetan, representative of the work with the Kundalini.
The first results of yoga they call lightness, healthiness, steadiness, good complexion, an easy pronunciations, sweet odor, and slight excretions. As a metal disc [mirror], tarnished by dust, shines bright again after it has been cleaned, so is the one incarnate person fulfilled and free from grief, after he has seen the real nature of the self [Atman]. —Śvetāśvataropaniṣad
Is your mind dull, torpid, dark, hard to control or perceive? Work with pranayama. The mind and heart are a mirror that need to be polished and cleansed through prana. In the words of Prophet Muhammad:
There is an organ in the body that, if it is righteous, ensures that the whole system will be righteous; and if it is corrupt, the whole body will become corrupt. This organ is the heart.
There is a polish for everything that takes away rust; and the polish for the heart is dhikr, the remembrance of Allah. -Prophet Muhammad, The Hadith
“Guard your breaths against God Most High,” state the Sufis. When the mirror is clean, it reflects the genuine image of Atman, the Self, our Innermost God, so that we are free from pain and sorrow. Pranayama will help you with this.
Practical Applications and Benefits
Learning to control our breath aids in the yoking of the vital forces, but while I mentioned to you that prana is in the air and in our semen, our physical breath is only a vehicle for the forces we seek to manipulate.
Pranayama is not, as many think, concerned solely with the breath; breath indeed has very little to do with it. Breathing is only one of the many exercises through which we get to the real pranayama. –Vivekananda, Raja Yoga
Circulating prana occurs through our willpower and imagination. Breathing is the vehicle through which we obtain the transmutation of our energies. While breath is a powerful and necessary component for our moment to moment existence, even more so are the faculties of perception, concentration, consciousness, attention, and prayer.
If you are performing pranayama but are not mindful of what you are doing, then you will not be successful. Pranayama involves working with each of the three brains of gnostic psychology, directing the energies consciously. “Wherever we direct attention, we expend creative energy” stated Samael Aun Weor. This is essential, since no practice is useful if we are not attentive of what we are doing.
Your mind, heart, and body must be relaxed and in control, which is not a state of rigidity, but calmness, composure, flexibility, and firmness. You must resolve to yourself to not needlessly move your body around during pranayama, nor let the mind wander to other things. You also must resolve to not let your heart distract you, but to devote yourself to profound prayer during your exercise. If you are thinking of other things while you are practicing, then you are not practicing. Likewise, if your heart is not at peace, if you are not praying to divinity to aid you, if your emotional center is filled with wrath, anger, or sentiment, ignoring the presence of divinity, you will find it very difficult to focus and have a good practice. Lastly, if your body can’t sit still, if it is agitated and nervous like an animal, constantly moving about, then you will not obtain stillness and the circulation of prana in your system, because the circulation of forces occurs when the waters of the body, heart, and mind are still.
Notice that when you cease throwing stones in a lake, the water gradually achieves stability and equilibrium; the surface becomes calm, whereby it can reflect the heavens above in a limpid, calm, and tranquil way. The same with pranayama and the mind. Your mind achieves stillness when you cease agitating it, by not feeding your desires. Pranayama also works to calm the mind when there is enough concentration and cognizance of what you are doing.
And they have said, “God created the hearts and made them mines of understanding of Him. After that He created the secret inner awarenesses and made them a place for declaring the Unity [which occurs once the multiplicity of egos are dead and the consciousness is unified in the Beloved, the Innermost]. Every breath that occurs without the guide of knowledge of God and the sign of Unity emerges from blind compulsion, and is a dead thing. The one to whom it belongs is accountable for it.” —Al Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
Here is how to perform a simple pranayama. Seated comfortably with your spine straight and neck and head relaxed, close your eyes and pray to your Divine Mother. Pray that she may help you transmute your energies to your mind and heart, to help you visualize and concentrate.
Imagine in your spine the two nadis Ida (Eve) and Pingala (Adam), connecting your gonads, testicles, or ovaries with your nostrils.
These nadis are polarized differently in men and women, as you can see in the following graphic.
• The lunar current, Ida (represented by Eve in the Bible), connects to the left nostril, characterized by lunar or silver atoms.
• The solar current, Pingala (represented by Adam in the Bible), connects to the right nostril, characterized by solar or bright, fiery yellow or golden atoms
In women this is reversed:
• The lunar current, Ida, Eve, connects to the right nostril
• The solar current, Pingala, Adam, connects to the left nostril
These polarities are switched in the different sexes because husband and wife, like positive and negative electrical currents, compliment and compensate for each other.
With your right hand, extend your forefinger and thumb while closing your other fingers into your palm. Close your right nostril with your thumb and inhale air through your left nostril. Take in as much air as you can without forcing your lungs or straining yourself. Breath naturally and relaxed.
Now close your left nostril with your forefinger, still holding the right nostril closed with your thumb. Retain the air as long as possible, again without straining your breath. Imagine the energy or prana of the air ascending to the brain through the respective nadi you are breathing through, which connects your nostril with the coccyx and gonads.
After retaining the air as long as possible, remove your thumb from your right nostril and exhale slowly, imagining the prana descending through the nadis connecting your head to your heart, with one nadi on each side of your face leading down to your chest.
Close your left nostril with your forefinger and inhale through your right nostril. Repeat the process of raising the prana to the brain through your inhalation, raising the energies of that nostril and nadi to the head. Retain the breath as long as possible by closing both nostrils with thumb and forefinger. Finally, lift your forefinger from your left nostril and exhale, imagining the prana descending against to your heart through the two nadis connecting your head to your heart, which descend from the face, down the throat, to your chest.
This process constitutes one pranayama. Perform seven pranayamas total. You can do more in accordance with your needs.
Here is some more practical advice for performing pranayama at home by the Master Sivananda:
Pranayama can also be performed as soon as you get up from bed and just before Japa [mantra recitation] and meditation. It will make your body light and you will enjoy the meditation. You must have a routine according to your convenience and time.
Do not shake the body unnecessarily. By shaking the body often the mind also is disturbed. Do not scratch the body every now and then. The Asana should be steady and as firm as a rock when you do Pranayama, Japa and meditation.
Do not perform the Pranayama till you are fatigued. There must be always joy and exhilaration of spirit during and after the practice. You should come out of the practice fully invigorated and refreshed. Do not bind yourself by too many rules (Niyamas).
Do not take bath immediately after Pranayama is over. Take rest for half an hour. If you get perspiration during the practice, do not wipe it with a towel. Rub it with your hand. Do not expose the body to the chill draughts of air when you perspire.
You should not expect the benefits after doing it for 2 or 3 minutes only for a day or two. At least you must have 15 minutes’ daily practice in the beginning regularly for days together. There will be no use if you jump from one exercise to another every day. –Swami Sivananda, Kundalini Yoga
When you perform pranayama, the important aspect of your breathing is retention. With inhalation, you want your lungs to take in a profound amount of air, in a relaxed and calm way, without forcing the lungs to expand beyond its limits. Your breathing should not be forced and loud, but silent and peaceful. I’ve known many people who make a lot of noise when performing pranayama, as if they were some kind of hydraulic engine. But nowhere in the teachings of yoga do we find any support for this tendency.
Always inhale and exhale very slowly. Do not make any sound. —Swami Sivananda, The Science of Pranayama
“There should be no strain in any stage of Pranayama.” —Swami Sivananda, The Science of Pranayama
Pranayama is meant to relax the mind, heart, and body. Straining oneself is counterproductive and inhibits the free circulation of energy. With exhalation, your breathing should flow through your nostrils without noise. I know some people like to perform pranayama in a loud way, which is wrong. Breathing should be calm and natural, without force. There is more strength in relaxation than there is in bodily and mental exertion. This might seem counterintuitive for people in a culture that believe that one must conquer things with force. The opposite is most true for this practice: if you want to be effective in transmutation, tranquility and control is the key.
After your inhalations, you must retain the air as long as possible, again without forcing your lungs. Retention is the most important part of Pranayama, since this is how we internalize and accumulate energy within our etheric-physical laboratory in combination with willpower and imagination, visualization.
Your life is measured by how you control your breath, and breathing relates to how we modify and use sexual energy, the source of life.
Regulation of breath is the stoppage of inhalation and exhalation. –Patanjali
Kumbhaka is retention of breath. Kumbhaka increases the period of life. It augments the inner spiritual force, vigour and vitality. If you retain the breath for one minute, this one minute is added to your span of life. Yogins by taking the breath to the Brahmarandhra at the top of the head and keeping it there, defeat the Lord of death, Yama, and conquer death. There should be no strain in any stage of Pranayama. Always inhale and exhale very slowly. Do not make any sound. A Yogi measures the span of his life not by the number of years but by the number of his breaths. Pranayama requires deep concentration and attention. Prana, mind, and virya (sexual energy) are under one sambhanda (connection). If you can control prana, then mind and virya and controlled by themselves. If you control the virya by remaining as an akhanda bramachari without emission of even a single drop of semen (sexual energy, whether male or female) for twelve years, then mind and prana are controlled by themselves. No Samadhi is possible unless Kundalini is awakened. The practice of Kumbhaka [breath retention] in Pranayama produces heat and thereby [sparks of] Kundalini [are] awakened and passes upwards along the Sushumna Nadi. The Yogic practitioner experiences various visions. —Swami Sivananda, The Science of Pranayama
To conclude, we will end with comments by Swami Sivananda, who expressed some of the benefits of pranayama. After having explained the technique, which we will practice together today at the end of this lecture, I will conclude with some explanations for why this is beneficial, since many students often write to us asking about some tangible, concrete results for working daily in this exercise.
This body becomes lean, strong and healthy. Too much fat is reduced. There is lustre in the face. Eyes sparkle like diamonds. The practitioner becomes very handsome. Voice becomes sweet and melodious. The inner Anahata sounds are distinctly heard. The student is free from all sorts of diseases. He gets established in Brahmacharya. Semen gets firm and steady. The Jatharagni (gastric fire) is augmented. The student becomes so perfected in Brahmacharya that his mind will not be shaken even if a fairy tries to embrace him. Appetite becomes keen. Nadis are purified. Vikshepa is removed and the mind becomes one-pointed. Rajas and Tamas are destroyed. The mind is prepared for Dharana and Dhyana. The excretions become scanty. Steady practice arouses the inner spiritual force and brings in spiritual light, happiness and peace of mind. It makes him an Oordhvareto-Yogi. All psychic powers are obtained. Advanced students only will get all the benefits. –Swami Sivananda, Kundalini Yoga
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