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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