This is a transcription of an audio lecture from The Sufi Path of Self-knowledge, originally given live at the Chicagoland Gnostic Academy:
"Know the truth and the truth shall set you free," stated Jesus of Nazareth, the Patriarch of the Gnostic Church, the great Master Aberamentho, according to his sacred name.
This is the final lecture in a course we initiated a few weeks past, discussing the nature of Sufism and Gnostic doctrine, how to know ourselves, how to know that which is within us that is divine. We seek to comprehend through practical works the very essence of our divinity within us, within our consciousness, and which we denominate the Being. Many names have been given to that truth, that source, that origin from which the soul emanates. No matter what name we denominate that truth, whether it is Allah, Buddha, Christ, Tao, INRI, etc., that divinity is within us, and which specifically in the Gnostic teachings we call the Being. To be, to know as a conscious quality.
So we've been explaining the gradual steps that lead to that realization of the Being, of the truth. It is by practical works, learning to understand ourselves, our mind, and the obstacles within us that prevent our illumination, that we seek to comprehend how to change. We seek to comprehend the causes of our suffering and the obscurations to that light of that divinity within us.
In the spirit of universality, we've been explaining the teachings according to Islam, which in Arabic is submission to God's will, and the Sufi doctrine, especially the mystics of Islam. Sufis are as much the mystics of Islam as the Kabbalists are the mystics of Judaism. In this lecture, we'll explain many aspects of this path in association with the Tree of Life of Kabbalah, the map of the consciousness. Likewise, we will examine many elements pertaining to the mystical teachings of Islam, the esoteric doctrine.
We state that we seek to know the divinity and the Muslims speak of witnessing the divine as the Shahada, the famous declaration of faith, which states, "La ilaha illa Allah, Muhammadun rasul-ul-llah." Meaning, "There is no God but God, and Muhammad is His prophet." The word witnessing is Shahada, to bear testimony, to verify what one has known or experienced. Now, the Muslim teachings of Shahada, which is followed by many millions of people today, is merely the public doctrine; to say that where there is no God but God, and Muhammad is His prophet, is easy to vocalize, to affirm. The word Shahada in Arabic relates to the word Mushahada, which means contemplation, meditation, insight, comprehension of the truth.
It is precisely by learning to meditate, go deep within our mind, our psyche, in which we know the truth for ourselves. We witness the divine through very concrete living experiences, known as gnosis. This word gnosis is Greek, meaning knowledge, signifying conscious experience. It is not associated with theory or belief, or scriptural knowledge, although those are useful in their place. Instead, gnosis, or the Arabic equivalent, marifah, is the direct knowledge of the divine, the truth. It is not by believing in anything that we will know that divinity. Instead, know truth and the truth shall set you free.
The founder of the modern Gnostic tradition, Samael Aun Weor, stated that, "The truth is the unknowable from moment to moment." When Jesus was asked, "What is the truth?" before Pilate, he remained silent. When asking the Buddha, "What is the truth?" he simply walked away.
Many people have spoken about the truth, whether through scripture, books, lectures, etc. In these studies, however, we seek to be practical. We seek to know that truth for ourselves, to know the divine within us moment by moment, the unknowable presence which is within our consciousness, within our psyche. For our purposes, we'll talk about scriptures pertaining to Islam, especially in relation to knowledge of God, knowledge of that truth, that source, which cannot be labeled, but can be verified. There is a famous commentator, Abd al-Karim al-Jili, who commented on a scripture or a writing by a Sufi master by the name of Ibn Arabi: his book Journey to the Lord of Power. He stated that “The journey to God is short; the journey in God is infinite.”
There are levels of being, levels of knowing, levels of cognizance, which we want to access here and now. Previously, we discussed the nature or the doctrine of momentariness, to be aware of our psyche moment by moment, and to be aware of the divine as a presence, as a force, and an intelligence, which we accomplish through observing our psyche, observing our mind, observing our heart, observing our body. That active observation is attention, an act of directed consciousness or directed will, directed attention within us. By learning to develop that alert novelty, alert perception, that awareness of ourselves, instant to instant, moment by moment, we in turn gain access to the truth, that direct knowledge.
Of course there are infinite levels of consciousness. The 14th Dalai Lama stated that really the consciousness has the capacity to expand to an infinite degree. This is very well is illustrated in many religious paintings where you see the heavens or the angels circling the throne of divinity and taking their pilgrimage towards that light, that source. That's the famous meaning of Hajj in Islam, the pilgrimage which we're going to discuss in brief in this lecture.
God is the unknowable, the truth. As it says on the Quran surah 6, verse 91, “God the most highest said, ‘They honor not God with the honor due Him,’” according to the scripture of Al-Risalah, the Sufi teaching by the famous master Qushayri who lived in Persia or Iran. He stated the following: “According to the commentary, this means they do not know God as He deserves to be known.” Likewise, Surah Ta Ha, verse 110, "He knows that which is before them and that which is behind them, and they encompass Him not in knowledge," which is similar to Surah 2. This is Al-Baqarah, the Surah, The Cow, verse 285: "He knows that which is before them and that which is behind them, and they encompass nothing of His knowledge except what He wills."
The truth can only come to us when the divine expresses of His will, of Her will within us, and we must learn to access that state by cooperating as a psyche, as a soul, as a consciousness. In order to attain that state, we must learn to be humble psychologically. Previously, we discussed in our lecture on the code of ethics, spiritual discipline, the need to train the mind, to not behave in negative ways, to not indulge in negative habits, and to destroy and comprehend those psychological causes within us that create conflict. Because, as the founder of the modern Gnostic tradition, Samael Aun Weor, stated, "Be humble in order to attain enlightenment. Thus after attaining it, be more humble still."
Humility is not an attitude. It is a psychological way of being in which we comprehend how our own sense of self, we can say egotism, egos, qualities, defects, vices, errors, whatever name we want to give them—these in themselves are obscuring the full manifestation of our divine potential, and we want to remove those shadows within our psyche, those causes of suffering such as anger, pride, fear, et cetera. By removing those conditions, those cages of the mind, we liberate soul. We liberate consciousness and then we can truly ascend to the heights of the divine. As the Book of Isaiah states, "Every valley shall be exalted, every mountain and the hill made low. The crooked shall be made straight and the rough places plain." Meaning, it is a psychological work. Our own sense of egotism, our own negative sense of self must be conquered in order for the divine self, the Being, the truth to manifest.
Now, there is some interesting commentary just to elaborate on this point about asceticism or spiritual poverty given by, again this writer, Ibn Arabi, from his Futuhat Makkiyyah, which is The Meccan Revelations, a very extensive scripture. He commented that the first caliph, Abu Bakr, was reported to have said, "The inability to comprehend God is comprehension itself." Then, this point is that if we feel that we have a certain level of knowledge, we must understand there's always something higher, something beyond that which we must access.
As the Sufis state, the greatest position to follow is poverty, not physical poverty or austerities, but, psychologically speaking, we fast to our habits. We cease to feed our negative elements, our desires. Instead, we develop conscious qualities. We seek to overcome the conditions of our mind. There was one Sufi, I believe, who stated that a third of the stomach should be filled with food, while the other two thirds be filled with fasting and the Qur’an. While some people may take the symbolic language of the Sufis literally, symbolically-speaking, we must be in remembrance of divinity through meditation, scriptural study, profound comprehension…
There's a very famous teaching given in the Surah Ta Ha, verse 114, where Prophet Muhammad was taught by his inner Being, his divinity. He said, "Be not in haste with the Qur’an before its revelation is completed for thee, but say, ‘My Lord, increase me in knowledge!’" We must increase that knowledge, seek to understand what in us prevents us for accessing that, and to thereby deny our own selves, conditions, desires, through the art or path of consciousness, self-awareness, mindfulness.
The Three Levels of Religion
In next graphic, we have the three levels of religion. We find the three levels of religion in any doctrine, any teaching, since religious instruction or esoteric instruction is always given in three tiers. We have what is known as the introductory level, the intermediate level, and the esoteric level. All religions have a gradation of instruction, of teaching, and of discipline, in which we train ourselves to be more open and receptive to the influence of the divine.
In Islam, they call the first introductory level Shariah, which of course has a lot of negative connotation today. In esoteric studies, Shariah does not refer to the punitive or harsh laws of Muslim countries. Shariah is really in its heart is the practical conduct we engaged with to train ourselves—to not be angry people, to not have fear, to not have pride, to not have desire or lust, to not commit adultery, to not steal, to not take intoxicants, to not cause harm, to not lie. These are basic laws given in Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, and whatever religion we study, since each has this code according to the idiosyncrasy of the culture it was delivered.
Beyond that, after we've established ourselves with mind training, we can enter into the mesoteric level, the intermediate steps, which is Tariqah. The last lecture we gave was on divine love, which is the path of Tariqah. It is the path of selfless service in which our spirituality is not based on ourselves, but for others. Meaning: we work on our own sense of egotism so that we can develop compassion for those who suffer and those who are ignorant. In this selfless path, we overcome the conditioning of the mind. We train ourselves so that we do not cause harm to others with our speech, our thoughts, our words, etc. Instead, we want to overcome the conditioning of our psyche so that our divinity can really help us to create religion, which is in Latin, religare, in one sense to reunite such as in a congregation or group, to unite people through divine law.
In Islam, the word “religion” is often called din in Arabic. Din more specifically refers to “judgment,” which is etymologically related with “custom, way, or affair.” Din refers to our conduct, our behavior, in how we curtail negative psychological states and eliminate them through inner judgment and comprehension in meditation. Din also has a strong relationship to the word dayn, which means “debt.” Truly, all of us are in debt before the divine law and must learn to pay our debts through conscious works, good deeds.
Lastly, we have Marifah and Haqiqah which is knowledge and truth. This is the highest teachings of any religion and is the topic of today's lecture. Now, with Marifah (knowledge) and Haqiqah (truth), these have been associated with the highest teachings of any tradition—the secret doctrine, whether in theosophy or the Fourth Way schools, and in Gnosticism. The secret of the divine path, Marifah and Haqiqah, knowledge and truth, pertains to the practices of what is known in Arabic as Allah-kimiya', alchemy.
Alchemy was associated traditionally with the transformation or transmutations of metals, a base substance into a pure substance, which many people in Europe were foolishly seeking to literally perform, to transform physical lead into gold, but that is not the meaning. The meaning is transforming the lead or the personality into the gold of the spirit, into the spirit of the divine, the truth. Alchemy is known as Tantra in the East, but the word alchemy also, Al-Kimiya, signifies chemistry (we have the similar origins or the root word). Kimiya also means to fuse or cast to metal. With the practices of a perfect matrimony or the perfect matrimony, the exercises of tantrism, man and woman in a marriage can unite to create spiritually and therefor fuse with the divine through the chemistry of God.
I will talk about the specifics of this, but something important to remember with these three stages is that, according to Ibn Arabi, the law of Shariah can be summarized with the following maxim: "What is yours is yours and what is mine is mine." There's a sense of separation. Meaning, we work individually as practitioners for ourselves, for our benefit, to serve God within us. In a path of Tariqah, "What is yours is mine and what is mine is yours," referring to selfless love, a state of compassion. In the level of Marifah, “Nothing belongs to you or me,” according to Ibn Arabi. Then with the knowledge of Haqiqah, the truth, "There is no you or me. There is only Him, the divine."
These are stages of discipline we train ourselves in and, of course, in the beginning we work with Shariah. In Buddhism, this is known as Shravakayana, the Shravaka path. Shravaka in Sanskrit means “to listen, to hear,” and Yana means “the way or path.” Anyone who learns for the first time how to change is a Shravaka, is a listener, to hear the truth and to practice it, and we will give more examples of this in relation to the intricate science of certainty according to the Quran.
With the middle path, the mesoteric path, we find in Tariqah, its equivalent is Mahayana, the greater vehicle: Maha, meaning great, in which our work is for others. We are not concerned with our own personal well-being, but we work to help others develop spiritually, and we overcome our own egos, our own senses of self, which create conflict.
In the highest path, Marifah and Haqiqah, is known as Tantrayana in Buddhism, especially Tibetan Buddhism. In this Tibetan Buddhist teaching, Tantra is the vehicle of a matrimony where a man and woman, in the pure sentiment and inspiration of the divine, can cultivate their marriage as a means of experiencing the truth and working with the most potent forces we carry within our physiology, and also our psychology, as we will elaborate upon.
Now, an important thing to remember is that with these steps, these are not something separate. Neither are they something that will go from one step up, a plateau, so to speak. Really Shariah, Tariqah, Marifah, Haqiqah unite; they are integral, meaning: one cannot know the truth without fulfilling the basic conduct of spirituality, meaning: to be good person, to be decent, to be humble and to help others. Likewise, we cannot know divine love if we are selfish, egotistically, psychologically speaking. All of us who begin any type of spiritual studies have to work on or become aware of what particular issues we have and change them so that we can really develop compassion for humanity and for its suffering.
Now, there has been a teaching, and there have been some people who have wanted to associate with higher stages of teaching, such as people who proclaim to have spiritual knowledge or to know the truth, but they fail to fulfill the basic conduct of being a decent human being. There is a very famous teaching and I believe it's given by Ibn Arabi as well. In his scripture Divine Governance of the Human Kingdom, he explains that there were people who saw a man flying in the air, and they were overcome by this phenomenon. They were very fascinated, obviously. Ibn Arabi asked, "Does that man follow the Qur’an?" Meaning, does he follow the scripture? Does he know how to be a decent person, to be kind, to not be lustful, to not be angry, to not have fear, because if he does not fulfill those laws, then ignore him. Because there are people who can have powers and abilities, but through desire, egotism, which is a different path than we teach. Here, we seek to give all of our aspirations to God who has power, who has capability and we as the human vehicle can be of service to that, not for our own will.
Dhikr, Remembrance of the Divine Self
So, what is the path we need to follow? Really, it is mindfulness, it is awareness and it cannot be emphasized enough. You need to be perceptive psychologically. In the doctrine of Islam, they refer to remembrance of God as dhikr. We talk about in these studies in relation to self-knowledge, the studies or the practice of Self-remembering, self-observation. What is the self we seek to remember? It is the divine Self. In Hinduism, they refer to it as Atman, the inner divinity, but we also want to become aware of our own egotistical self through the act of observing our mind, our heart and our body, our impulses, our desires, our instincts. Truly, to know the truth, we have to begin at this level and to be aware of our body, aware of our mind, aware of our sentiments.
For as Dhul-Nun al-Misri, the Egyptian, very famous Sufi master stated the following, "The key to success and worship lies in meditative reflection (fikrat). Whoever persists in such reflection in the heart will behold the invisible realm and the spirit. Whoever contemplates God for keeping watch over the thoughts which pass through his heart will be exalted by God in all of his outward deeds."
Again, we can refer to the three stages of religion even in this very brief quote which compacts a lot, meaning that whosoever contemplates God, who practices mushahida, witnesses God, understanding and knowing that God keeps watch over the thoughts that pass through his heart. This is the exercises of Shariah, to discipline our mind, to be aware of ourselves, to not act in inappropriate way according to the moment. Likewise, by doing so, one will be exalted by God, which is Haqq, the truth, Haqiqah. One of the sacred names of Allah in Islam is Al-Haqq, the Truth, which is where we get Haqiqah. It is in controlling our mind in which we will be exalted by the truth in all of our outward deeds, according to the path of Tariqah, one's actions.
What does it meant to worship God? All religions have their own idiosyncrasies. We have our own methods and practices in this teaching as well, but one thing that's pertinent to all traditions is the deep connection of the heart to the divine, in which we seek to really only worship that which is true within us and not that which is false. It says in Surah Ta Ha, verses 98-99, “Your only God is God besides whom there is no other God. He encompasses all things and knowledge. Thus do we narrate unto thee some of the accounts of those who have come before (such as Moses and the other prophets) and we have given thee a reminder from our presence.” “The Reminder” is another name for the Qur’an, the Recitation, the teaching.
So, there is no God but God. The Muslims make a very strict observance of worshipping only the divine, and they call worship of idols shirk, or to worship God as something multiple. This has a very interesting psychological application to us, because in a given moment, if we are mindful, we will perceive elements that seek to grab our energy, our attention. In a moment of anger, we want to speak harm, and if we give in to that element, if we give in to those words and we express that negative emotion, we are worshiping an idol. We are worshiping a psychological quality that is other than God. That condition of anger is a shell that has trapped the light of God within us and we need to learn to extirpate that from our psyche, to liberate the free consciousness, the free essence, the soul. Anytime we give into fear, other egos, other qualities, conditions of mind, and we identify ourselves with those elements, we are practicing shirk. That is a form of worship, because our love of being is how we worship God or how we turn away from him.
The unity of God is very famous in Islam, the doctrine is called Tawhid, the unity of the Truth, because that light is universal, it is cosmic, whatever name we give to that. Within us, we have sadly, unfortunately, due to mistaken habits and will, wrong action, we have taken the light of the divine within us and caged it in what we call our pride, our fear, our anger, vanity, etc. These are conditions that we created that trap that light, and by breaking those shells, we free the genie from Aladdin's lamp as we were discussing previously. Truly, we need to remember the presence of the divine. That presence in Arabic is hudur which is where we get the word muhadara which means awareness of God. So self-observation, self-awareness, remembrance of God is the act of controlling our mind and remembering the qualities of the divine which is virtue, compassion, peace, etc.
This psychological quality is beyond the intellect. Knowledge of the truth is beyond conceptualization, rationalization, etc. While we can gain knowledge or we can study this teaching and study any religion in an intellectual sense, it does not equate with the actual experience of that divinity. For as the Sufi Lāhījī stated, "One cannot behold God by the eye of ratiocination derived from reason for only through the eye of the heart which is known as the faculty of inner vision can one behold God."
Likewise, he emphasizes the path of Shariah, the discipline, the conduct we need to know the truth.
“As long as you do not focus this eye (meaning this perception, this self-awareness, self-observation) so as to sharpen its vision with the collyrium of asceticism, spiritual conduct, purgation of the soul, purification of the heart, illumination of the spirit, you will be unable to witness the Friend's beauty and contemplation.”
People associate that term ‘asceticism’ with monks in sackcloth whipping themselves in a form of self-flagellation and very morbid behavior, and that is not something we encourage. Instead, we teach to discipline our mind. Asceticism can be practiced in an esoteric sense, not physical austerities, but mental psychological training in our daily life and our daily occupation. It does not mean we have to go to a monastery or Sufi lodge to learn to meditate. Instead, we learn to meditate in whatever circumstance we find ourselves in and that is our discipline, our conduct.
“The Friend” is the divine. The Sufis used this term for God, for the Being and contemplation again is mushahida, to witness God, whether through meditative experience or in the dream state, when one awakens in dreams to know that which is the truth, directly, with cognizance.
The Perfect Human Being
“All the masters of the Path are in accordance that this reality can be realized only through the guidance of a perfect man who knows and contemplates God.” There have been many perfect men and women, many great masters and prophets and really, when we study ourselves and study esotericism, we should always rely on the prophets, beings like Jesus, like Buddha, like Muhammad, Krishna, those beings who fully exemplify the light of the divine and whose conduct has been tested and verified as true. We should not rely on theories or uncertain sources but our own experience and the scripture or the scriptures.
So what is an example of a perfect man? We find Muhammad, who of course, sadly, today is terribly denigrated and misunderstood. It is the effort of these lectures to help elucidate the spiritual roots and esoteric meaning behind his teaching, his doctrine. So we are going to talk about what he symbolizes for us, what he represents, because the perfect men and women, the prophets who came previously, in their very daily acts of kindness and expression and their discipline, came to symbolize a path we need to follow.
There are many interesting things we can learn from the life of Prophet Muhammad which are symbolic for us and which he purposely played out, taking on a role to teach us something profound about ourselves. The Sufis emphasize that really, he is a great master, a very radical teacher and of course, all radical masters are very controversial, but if we look at the Hadith and examine the scriptures of the Quran from our own experience, we can verify the beauty of that teaching.
“The outer law, Shariah, is my word,” he said. “The spiritual path, Tariqah, my actions, and the inner reality, Haqiqah, my inner states.”
Whether in Islam or Buddhism, any master exemplifies and manifest those three paths simultaneously, in every action. The Buddha manifested Shravakayana, Mahayana, Tantrayana. Moses fulfilled the body, soul and spirit of his doctrine. Moses wrote the Torah but other scriptures associated with the higher teaching such as the Talmud related to the middle path, and then the Zohar is the esoteric doctrine of Israel. The Freemasons followed the paths of the Apprentice, Journeyman, and Master. So again, these levels of religion are levels of being but also levels of instruction as we mentioned. Certain scriptures pertain to each degree.
As we discuss previously, these three paths have a correlation to our three centers of activity. We have mind, we have emotion, we have movement. We can say we have three focal points, we call them “brains,” and a brain in esoteric psychology does not refer to the physical matter in the cerebrum. Instead, it pertains to a center of activity, physiological and psychological, which manages energies. Thought is a form of energy. Emotion is a form of energy, and will, desire, instinct, impulse, movement is another form. We must learn to comprehend these levels in ourselves, our own psychology, as a whole. Really, our heart relates to our words. How we feel, we express through our language. Likewise, our actions refer to the center of movement, and our inner reality is experienced when our mind is enlightened, when our consciousness is illuminated by harnessing those energies of Tantra which we will discuss.
The Sufis really emphasize the integral nature of this master and something we should follow in our own practice. The following was given by the book Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri. “If someone requires of himself the conduct prescribed by the divine command (Shariah), God will illuminate his heart with the light of realization (Haqiqah). There is no station nobler than the station of following the beloved (or in Arabic it is al-Mustafa, the beloved of God who is Prophet Muhammad) in the orders he gave (Shariah), the actions he took (Tariqah), and the character he possessed (Haqiqah).”
Let us examine what he represents for us because his life is something symbolic and any figure in the Bible or the Quran who physically lived came to demonstrate something psychological for us, which is evident by looking at some of the etymology of Arabic and Hebrew.
Kabbalah and Sufi Mysticism
This is an image of the Kabbalah, the famous mystical Tree of Life, symbol of the highest levels of consciousness, which descend through different levels of dimensionality down to the physical plane and into more dense regions of matter, energy and perception. In discussing psychology, we use this glyph. It is a map of consciousness. It is also map of the universe and the different dimensions we can experience in a meditation or in the dream state. In Islam, heaven is known Jannat or Jannah, and Buddhism talks about Nirvana. Likewise, we have different terms for heaven in different cultures and that is really referring to this Tree of Life. These are higher levels of being that we can access if we learn to meditate.
A very important sphere in this glyph is at the very center; we have included the title, Tiphereth, with the Hebrew letters included. Tiphereth means beauty. It is the very center of this Tree of Life, and to explain Tiphereth, we will elaborate on this glyph in its entirety. Notice that there are three trinities included here. The top trinity is referring to the highest forces in nature which the Gnostics called Christ, Chrestos, the anointed one. These three spheres refer to Father, Son, Holy Spirit in Christianity. Kether, Chokmah, Binah in Kabbalah, or Crown, Wisdom, Understanding. These are forces; these are not people. This is why in Islam, they strictly reject the trinity, because the Christians at that time were literally worshipping the trinity as three people, and that is wrong. The truth is that these are energies. It is one force, one light, one intelligence which can manifest in diverse ways. We call it Christ or the First, Second and Third Logos in Gnostic terms, in Greek terms.
Below that, we have on the right, the Spirit, known as Chesed in Hebrew meaning Mercy. In the Qur’an, when it says, Bismillah-ir-Rahman-ir-Rahim, “In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful,” it is referring to that spiritual quality known as Chesed, which is Mercy. The word Rahman relates to Hebrew Ruach, which means wind, breath, spirit, which is within us. To the left of that we have Geburah which is the Divine Soul, divine consciousness, which is not stained with impurity, and does not enter conditionality.
Now, below that is Tiphereth, human will, Human Soul, that is really where we originate from. Our soul, our essence, our consciousness emanates from this middle sphere and really, when the soul is fully developed, it is beauty. It is pure and Tiphereth can also mean splendor, radiance, light.
When we work with self-observation, we are working with this willpower to be controlling the lower aspects of our psychology. This unconditioned will, Tiphereth must conquer and control the lower spheres. You see here Netzach, which is the mind, intellect, thought. To the left of that, we have Hod, emotions, the heart. Below that, we have the Yesod, which is energy, vitality, sexual power which is used in tantric practice in a marriage in order to illuminate the other spheres ascending upward. Below that, we have Malkuth which is the physical body. It means “Kingdom.”
Our willpower has to control mind, feeling, body, movement. That is the nature of Tiphereth and in us, it is undeveloped, but when we learn to observe ourselves and break the conditioning of the mind, we liberate more willpower. We free it. What is interesting about Tiphereth is that if you take this image and put it on a human being, the Kether at the top trinity relates to the head, the middle trinity relates to the heart and the lower trinity or quaternary including Malkuth related to the sexual organs and feet. Now, Tiphereth of course is associated with the heart especially in Islamic mysticism.
As we find in the Hadith, the Muslim oral tradition, a very famous saying by Prophet Muhammad which emphasizes this point, the importance of developing Tiphereth. We will highlight for you the examples of how he is associated with that sphere of being, that he represents, Tiphereth. “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 the Dhikr, the remembrance of Allah.”
Arabic Kabbalah, the Abjad System, and the Sacred Kaaba
The word for heart in Arabic is Qalb, and what is interesting about Arabic and Hebrew is that each letter represents a number. Kabbalah is the science of numbers, mathematics, which are divine. The universe is governed by math, and God is a mathematician. He works with the laws of nature and manifests them and operates them. Each Arabic letter, each Hebrew letter, has a symbol associated with a certain psychological and spiritual archetype, a blueprint for a soul that we need to develop. In the abjad system which is the Arabic Kabbalah, how you add numbers together produces very interesting associations. The same with Hebrew.
The word قلب Qalb is made up of ق Qaf, ل Lam, ب Ba, respectively, with numerical values of 100, 30 and 2, respectively. In Hebrew, this is ק Quf, ל Lamed, ב Beth. When you add those numbers together, you get 132. If you take number the 1, add it to 32, 32 + 1, you get 33, a very interesting number in relation to the science of masonry in Europe. Also, likewise, you look at the name Muhammad, you break it down, م Mim, ح Ha, م Mim, م Mim, د Dal, respectively is 40 + 8 + 40 + 40 + 4 which is 132. Again, add 1 + 32 is 33. Masonry speaks often of the symbol of the 33 degrees of a master, which symbolizes the 33 degrees or vertebrae of our spine, our spinal column. Our spinal column is where the light of the divine can manifest.
We talked previously about how, through the exercises of Tantra, a couple can raise the creative energies of sex up the spine to the brain in order to illuminate it, so the images of the prophets having halos is a symbol of having raised the creative energies of God from sex to the brain, up the spine. Someone who has successfully raised that Kundalini serpent force to the mind and is filled with fire in their intellect is a master of the 33rd degree, having fulfilled each step of that terrain, that path up the spinal medulla.
Now, Muhammad represents this as we will examine in the story of his ascension and we will talk about that next. But what is interesting is that the word תִפאֶרֶת Tiphereth hides and implies a lot, and a very interesting symbolism. Each letter as we said is a representation of a quality. The letter ת Tav, the final letter of the Hebraic alphabet, this 22nd letter, can mean “seal, truth, cross, path, covenant.” Notice that the word תִפאֶרֶת Tiphereth begins and ends with ת Tav.
Muhammad is often cited as the Seal of the Prophets, the Seal of the Truth, as given in the Quran, Surah 33, verse 40, Al-Ahzab. “Muhammad is not the father of any of your men but he is the messenger of Allah and the Seal of the Prophets and Allah has full knowledge of all things.” Seal of the Prophets is khatim an-nabiyyin, and most Muslims associate this as meaning that he is the last of the major prophets to come teach humanity. But really, in a strict esoteric sense, seal of the truth, seal of the prophets is Tiphereth, because it begins with ת Tav and ends with ת Tav, “truth, seal.” If you are familiar with Tibetan Buddhism, we have Dzogchen, which is the great perfection or Mahamudra, the “Great Seal.” It is the same meaning. Buddhism is implicit within that name תִפאֶרֶת Tiphereth.
Notice also in the middle of this word if going from right to left because Hebrew's right to left: ת Tav, פ Peh, א Aleph, ר Resh and ת Tav. ת Tav begins and ends this word, and at the center of this phrase is the word אר Or: א Aleph, ר Resh. Or if you add the letter ו Vav in the center, it is אוֹר Aur, א Aleph, ו Vav, ר Resh, signifying light as the book of Genesis states, “Let there be light and there was light,” Yehi va aur vayehi aur. אוֹר Aur means light, and it is at the center of this word. If you add the letter ו Vav, the sixth letter of Hebrew alphabet, it spells “light” in the center.
ו Vav is direct representation of the spine. You take the letter ו Vav as a straight line; it represents the spinal column. That is how the light emerges from our creative forces to the brain and illuminates us and gives us genuine beauty, spiritually speaking. תִפאֶרֶת Tiphereth is beautiful, meaning splendor, light, radiance. If you add ו Vav in the center, you can see that it has light within it, and then the heart is enlivened, is saturated with those cosmic forces when a couple practices alchemy. Now, again, תִפאֶרֶת Tiphereth is truth seal, seal of truth, the heart, قلب Qalb, or the heart in Arabic. Many interesting parallels that really point with great emphasis that Muhammad is Tiphereth and represents for us, our willpower, the beauty of the soul we need to cultivate.
In Islam, in relation to this topic, Muslims pray to the east, towards Mecca, the sacred stone Kaaba. To discuss Marifah, the highest knowledge of esotericism, the Muslims symbolize the secret teachings of alchemy, of a marriage, within the stone. The Kaaba in Mecca relates to the Kabbalah, if you relate to the Hebrew. Kaaba in Spanish is La Kaaba, take La and put it at the end, and you spell Kabbalah. Likewise, you spell “the cow” in Spanish, la vaca, which is the same root word for the word Baqarah, the longest Surah of the Quran, “The Cow,” emphasizing that there is really a great profound mystery there.
So Muslims pray to the east towards the Kaaba, the sacred stone that was established originally by Adam and Eve in Islamic myth, and became impure or blackened as a result of the impurity of the psyche. All of this deserves analysis, since the wisdom of the middle east bears profound symbolism. The stone, this energy, this foundation of our temple, our Kaaba, spiritually speaking, has become impure and refers to our energies. It is the forces upon which we exist physically, but also spiritually. These energies have been corrupted by desire, by lust.
The Kaaba is prayed towards five times a day. Muslims pray toward the Kaaba daily and the direction in which one prays is called قِـبْـلَـة Qibla. Again, you hear the word قلب Qalb, heart, implied there, and also, قِـبْـلَـة Qibla, Kabbalah. Kabbalah in Hebrew simply means “to receive.” It is knowledge that we receive consciously from God. It is not limited to what we read, but something we verify for ourselves. The Kaaba, the stone, is a symbol of the energies we carry in our body, which if we use for spirituality, can elevate us to the divine, to enliven our heart and awaken our consciousness.
In Arabic Kabbalah, ق Qaf can signify the powers of the head, ل Lam the powers of speech, and ب Ba the House of God, Bayṫ Allāh, the Kaaba or stone of Yesod, whereby divine forces coagulate. Through controlling our mind, our ق Qaf, through mantras, sacred sounds through the power of ل Lam, the tongue, we invoke divinity into our house of God, our heart, ب Ba. Even the Arabic letter ب Ba appears, in its calligraphy, like a cup, chalice, or receptacle that receives the solar, divine forces. All of this signifies how divinity descends through prayer and recitation into the temple of the spirit, our heart.
This is why the Sufi master Bayazid Bistami stated the following, “When you are separate from the Kaaba, it is all right to turn toward it, but those who are in it can turn toward any direction they wish.” This is a very radical statement from a Muslim, considering that this is very important to perform the canonical prayer Salat. The meaning of that is that if you know the symbolic meaning of the Kaaba and if you work with your stone, the creative sexual energy, the creative power, it does not matter what direction you pray. Instead, you learn to direct those forces from the base of the spine to the brain and into the heart. That is how you receive knowledge, Kabbalah within your emotional center, within قلب Qalb, the heart in Arabic. Likewise, as I mentioned, it does not matter what direction you pray but when you know the قِـبْـلَـة Qibla, you know how to redirect those forces within you, you are praying to the east symbolically, since in the Tree of Life, the east is Tiphereth, astrologically related to the sun when it rises. Your قِـبْـلَـة Qibla, your direction to which you pray is within you. Through alchemy, you raise the powers of Yesod to the east, up to the mind and then to the heart. This is very well-explained in Kabbalah.
We mentioned in the previous lecture on divine love how the symbol of Islam, the crescent moon and the star, is a symbol of how we transform the moon of our psyche into the sun of the Spirit. The star Venus, the star of love, Venus-Aphrodite, is “beauty” in Greek, and she is the divine feminine within us, the serpentine power called Kundalini, which is asleep in us in the base of our spine, according to Hinduism, Hindu anatomy, Hindu occult anatomy.
The sexual stone hides within it the energy of Kundalini in the base of the spine, and the stone is called the Yesod in Kabbalah, the foundation of our temple, because how we use our energy determines our spiritual life. If we waste our energy, we cannot function, but if we conserve our forces and become hermetically sealed, psychologically speaking, we do not identify with life so much and do not waste our mental, physical or emotional energy, we will become much happier and elevated.
How we use this energy of the creative power in us, the sexual power is that serpentine force that can raise us spiritually. Another interesting thing about this stone of Kaaba, is reported in pre-Islamic myth that there was a serpent sleeping at the base of this temple, of the stone, within the Kaaba itself in the earth. It is representing for us that creative power of the Divine Mother is in that stone. Many people are familiar with tantric yoga, raising the Kundalini force through sexual union up the spine to the brain. The stone is a very symbolic thing which we are going to elaborate with the myth or the teachings of Muhammad's ascension.
The Ascension of the Prophet
The very famous teaching of Muhammad is that he was meditating at Mecca, meaning, he was asleep and reflecting on his inner divinity while near the Kaaba itself. He became drowsy (emphasizing for us that in meditation, we become sleepy physically but consciously, we are alert, we are aware, we are vigilant). At that point, he encountered a mystical creature called Al-Buraq. It is an animal with the body of a mule, the tail of a peacock and the face of a woman, which he rode upon towards Jerusalem in a few moments and afterward, he ascended the seven heavens mentioned in Islam. The Tree of Life of Kabbalah represents nine heavens but you can also say seven dimensions, so the Muslims and the mystics of Israel are in agreement.
But how did he ascend towards those higher levels of being up those different steps of the Tree of Life? Precisely through working with the stone in Mecca.
If you look at the Arabic root of the name البراق Al-Buraq, it means “the lightning,” lightning bolt, and if you translate that into Sanskrit, it is Vajra. Vajra is a lightning bolt that the gods or the Buddhas wield, or Zeus wields to destroy the impure. That lightning is the creative Kundalini force of the spine that can help you to ascend up the heavens, the seven heavens or seven chakras of the spinal medulla up to the crown in order to connect you with the divine.
The name البراق Al-Buraq contains the word Ur, the Arabic نور Nur, or “light” of chastity. Remove Ur from Buraq, and you are left with Baq, the root of the term Baqarah, the sacred Heifer or Cow within the Qur’an, a symbol of the Divine Mother.
You find the name Buraq of course of our current president, but it also is a Muslim name and it relates to the Hebrew Barak in the book of Judges chapter 5, verse 12, which explains the exploits of the prophetess Debora or Deborah who was a judge of Israel fighting against the Philistines. Again, she represents something psychological, how our own consciousness needs to wage war against the infidels, which are not outside of us, but in us, our own fear, pride, worries, anxieties, hate, lust. These are infidels. These are something we need to be strict and to fight against consciously. It does not mean to go to war against someone else for their religion.
Now, it says in the book of Judges, “Awake, awake, Deborah, awake, awake. Utter a song. Arise Barak and lead thy captivity captive, the son of Abinoam.” They were persecuted by Sisera and his armies, the Philistine armies, in which Deborah led a great war in the Bible against her enemies and the enemies of Israel.
Again, Israel is not, in the Bible, representing the people of the Middle East, neither the Philistines. These are just symbolic representations. The names hide a lot of meaning. Israel is from Isis, the Egyptian goddess, the Divine Mother, Ra, Osiris-Ra and El in Hebrew which means God. The people of Israel are all the parts of our soul that are trapped in all the discursive psychological elements we carry within, which produces our suffering, and that which we call ego, negativity, self, infidels, defects which we have to fight against, those qualities that trap the divine light. Deborah is the judge of Israel, meaning she judges herself in meditation, that quality in us that helps to judge ourselves in which we combat those enemies to God, those unbelievers, so to speak.
It says, “Arise Barak.” Barak, Buraq, “the lightning, arise from the base of my spine to my brain and then to my heart up that mountain range to illuminate my psyche,” in which Barak is that sword, that fire that emerges when we work with sacred sound, with mantras. The word Deborah in Hebrew comes from Dabar, which means “word, to speak, to pronounce.” The letter ה Hei which is the H sound at the end. You put it to the front of her name, it is Ha-dabar, the Word. “In the beginning was the Word, the Word was of God and the Word was God.” When a couple unite sexually, they can pronounce sacred mantras and awaken that fire that we will send up the spinal column to the brain and is that sword that will help us fight against the evil ones within us. Again, the word sword is the letter S, the vowel S (we say it is a vowel in an esoteric studies). The letter S, if you pronounce it as a mantra, ssssssssssssssss, is the power to awaken that creative power. It is a fire, it is the sound of a serpent, serpentine fire of Kundalini that rises within the spine. That is the sword, S + Word, which we can awaken within us.
It says, “Awake, awake Deborah, awake. Utter a song,” meaning: pronounce mantras when you are with your wife or your husband in order to awaken that fire and to fight against the enemies of God which are within us.
So, Prophet Muhammad represents that, the qualities of the heart that help to raise those forces and to wage difficult wars against the lower selves, the nafs, egos.
One thing I will mention about again is the people of the Philistines. Literal people, of course, associate the scriptures as a history book, which is not the case. It is a symbolic text. You look at the word Philistine and it has many interesting relationships to the Greek language. You can say that the term Philistine sounds like Phila, Philadelphia, which is a Greek work meaning from Philos, “to love,” or Phileo, “to love,” and Adelphos, which means “brother.” Likewise, Philistine, if you break it down into Greek can mean Phile-Hestia, which means “tribe of the hearth” or “lover of the hearth,” someone who loves the fireplace.
This is an interesting symbol. It really refers to those egos, demonic qualities within the psyche which love evil, love to do harmful things, who love the fires of lust, to use our creative energies in the negative way. Yesod is the stone where the fire of life emerges physically and spiritually. Those who love the hearth, the Philistines, signifies any person who loves that energy but in the wrong way. They like to abuse that power through lust, through fornication specifically, or adultery. They like to get burned by that energy, to not conserve it and use it for God. So, these are the Philistines, those who love those egos, those devil qualities within the psyche, the conditioning of the mind. Likewise, the people of Israel must really liberate all the parts of God, all the qualities and particles of the soul that are trapped in suffering.
What we will mention is that to raise those energies, we must specifically work with meditation, which is allegorized in the Ascension of the Prophet. Muhammad's ascension represents at once how work with that power but also how to meditate, because he was contemplating God at the stone of Mecca. Then, in a sleepy state, he accessed that Samadhi, ecstasy, Satori, whatever word you want to give to it: a profound mystical state devoid of any subjectivity or limitation.
Sufis explained what we need to do to acquire that in Al-Qushayri’s Principles of Sufism. He states the following: “In general, it is to the measure of one’s alienation from one’s own ego that one attains direct knowledge of one’s Lord… I heard Abu Ali al-Daqqaq say, ‘One of the tokens of the gnosis of God is the achievement of deep awe and reverence for God. If someone’s realization increases, his awe increases.’ And I heard him say, ‘Gnosis requires stillness of heart, just as learning requires outward quiet. If someone’s gnosis increases, his tranquility increases.’”
We emphasize meditation as the science in which we learn to understand the root causes of our suffering by using those energies for our spirituality.
Selflessness and the Unity of God
In this graphic, we also include the Tree of Life. I want to emphasize the need to change. This Tree of Life is God, we could say, in His totality, the Being in all the levels of consciousness, from the highest to the lowest. We, of course, are in Malkuth, the bottom, this physical sphere, but we are still part of God, that needs to obey and to submit in Islam or to bow to the will of divinity. We do so by comprehending and striving against our own defects.
To understand mystical experience, the truth, we must overcome our conditioned mind, because, it is that sense of self which blocks us from accessing that mystical experience. As Abu Sa'id stated the following, “Wherever the delusion of your selfhood appears—there’s hell. Wherever ‘you’ aren't—that's heaven.” Sense of self, selfhood, is ego. That's really our hell, our suffering. That is the opposite of the bliss, selflessness, virtue, and ecstasy of God.
Bayazid Bistami also stated the following, in relation to this quote: “I came out of Bayazid-ness as a snake from its skin. Then I looked. I saw that lover, Beloved, and love are one, because in that state of unification all can be one.”
This Tree of Life, we represent as different modalities of consciousness, of being, but they are one tree. Just as we look at a physical tree, it has many branches. It is really one integral living being. Likewise, this Tree of Life and its many parts is really one whole. There's no demarcation between this teaching and the doctrine of Tawhid in Islam, because within God, all is one, but He manifests in different ways so that we can access him and gain knowledge. Of course, when Bayazid says, “I came out of my skin like a snake,” he is talking about the shell of our terrestrial personality to express that creative divine potential, the kundalini serpent, shedding the impurities of the mind in order to elevate those forces within us.
What do we need to do? We need to seek. As the book of Matthew, chapter 7, verses 7-8 states, “Ask and it shall be given to you. Seek and you shall find. Knock and it shall be opened unto you. For everyone that asketh, recieveth, and he that seeketh, findeth, and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened.”
Sufis have a very similar parallel about this quest for self-knowledge, of knowing the divine. This quote goes towards the explanation of the three levels of religion that we discussed. “Search for what you are asked about in the sanctuary of knowledge, Shariah,” meaning, the books and audio lectures or whatever scripture you have an affinity toward to study, let that be your sanctuary where you study divine wisdom. It is also the conduct we need to develop in order to experience the divine.
“If you do not find it there, then in the battlefield of wisdom,” is the path of Tariqah which, again, in Arabic, is the path of Mujahida, which is striving, or the path of jihad, path of war against the enemies of Israel, the ego, our negative sense of self. “If you still do not find it, weigh it with the unity,” Haqiqah, the truth, which you find when the body is in silence, in which the soul escapes from its material conditioning, its material shell, and ascends that Tree of Life that we are viewing. If it is not to be found in any of these places; if you're searching for the knowledge of the truth in yourself and if you don't find it in the books; if you don't find it in your daily life and your actions; if you don't find it in the highest levels of spirituality, in the unity, it says, “If you haven't found it in any of these places, strike Satan in the face with it.”
This has to do with verification of teaching. We may read about a doctrine, study it, be very devout Catholics, Muslims, Buddhists, etc., but it doesn't mean that we've experienced God, the truth. We need to learn how to experiment, to test our knowledge of ourselves with scripture, and if we don't find it there, within our daily actions, then we must reject our methods. Then, seek the knowledge in the truth and the experience of the divine. If we are very attached to, maybe, a certain quality of ours or a belief, if we don't find that verified in anything we have read, experienced, whether in our daily life or in meditation, then strike Satan in the face with it. Meaning, you got to be very strict with your analysis. Meaning, do not believe or disbelieve anything, but experiment, verify.
Buddha said, "Do not take my word or face value or because you have respect for me. Instead, test my words like gold." Scratch it. Burn it. Do what you will with it in order to verify that it is what it is. Likewise, anything we seek to verify, we should test it in accordance with these three levels of religion: Shariah or conduct, religious scripture; Tariqah, our actions, our daily life; and Haqiqah, the Samadhi experience, where we are united with the truth. We don't need to really conceptualize so much. We simply know, have the experience. If it is not found in any of those places, well, discard it. It is not true. That which is true is what you have verified, not what you believe, since it never leaves your heart. It is eternal. Now, to experience that, again, we emphasize mindfulness.
Self-Remembrance, Spiritual Practice, and the Present Moment
In this image, we have a man performing adhan, the call to prayer in Islam, in which they pray five times a day, which is a beautiful discipline, if done consciously, with awareness, representing the need to be vigilant psychologically, moment by moment. In Gnosis, we seek to pray more than five times a day. We seek to pray every moment. For this, Sufis also teach the same thing. "The greatest form of prayer is watchfulness of the moments," is what one of the Sufis we quoted, stated. We need to awaken consciousness to be aware of ourselves, to remember the presence of the divine, hudur.
There are steps and grades to how we contemplate the divine. Probably, one of the most important quotes from this Scripture we've been citing, Al-Risalah, is the following, "Al-Jurayri said that, whoever does not establish awe of duty and vigilance in his relationship to God will not arrive at disclosure of the unseen or contemplation, mushahida, of the divine."
Awe of duty means, to have reverence for one's practices, one's discipline. To meditate 10 minutes a day, 20 minutes, an hour, to mantralize, to pronounce sacred sounds or mantras, etc. daily. Whatever discipline we engage with, we must feel that awe in reverence of the divine in that act and make it consistent. Because if we don't practice one day, we practice every other day, we are not establishing awe of duty, which is a responsibility of the soul to work for God, for the Being. In that way, if one does not establish that, one cannot arrive at disclosure, meaning, the tearing of the veil, the experience, to perceive God directly, to witness the divine. That is in essence of contemplation, mushahida.
Again, when we have experienced that, when we have tasted that, we in turn can orient ourselves in our daily life and guide ourselves to know how to live appropriately. Whatever problems we face, whatever difficulties or challenges we experience, the Being can solve that, will arrange the means for us to comprehend what in us produces our suffering and how can we eliminate that, and also, how we can resolve difficulties in life. It is by accessing this witnessing of God or practicing the shahida or mushahida, contemplation and meditation, in which we truly realize that there is no “I,” there is no me, there is no self, there is only Him.
Ibn Karbala'i stated the following:
“When the seeker realizes the station of contemplation (mushāhida), which is witnessing God’s Essence comprehending and encompassing all phenomena,” meaning, this whole Tree of Life. He is really in all aspects of this graphic, whether from the highest or the lowest. We are part of him but we are in the densest sphere. We have to learn how to ascend, to go up.
“Does not your Lord suffice, since He is witness over all things?” (41:53) When someone fulfills this precept, meaning, remembering God in our mind, our heart, our body, we then witness Him and He through us.
“He continually witnesses lights from the mundus invisibilis.” This is a reference to how in meditation, people who are remembering God may experience lights, clairvoyant images, experiences, whether in the dream state or when the physical body is at rest, when we are concentrating on God.
“From such a mystic’s perspective, this world and the hereafter are one and the same. This can only be realized by a vision that is all heart and spirit, not a view bound by mere mud and mire.” What is this mud and mire? These are our own afflictions which we need to conquer.
The vision of the heart and spirit is the work of Tiphereth, the Human Soul, that unconditioned will that can free the rest of the consciousness. It is the symbol of the knight saving the maiden from the dragon, which is in us. That maiden is our divine consciousness, Geburah. The Human Soul is the warrior, the spiritual fighter, the human soul that must work to be married with his Guinevere, so Lancelot with Guinevere, the marriage of the two souls. Arthur of course, is the king, the Spirit whom we have to work with.
The Science of Certainty in Meditation
Now, we discuss in the Qur’an, the nature of developing certainty of the truth and knowing the truth. Many asked Prophet Muhammad and complained to him that they cannot experience the divine, that they do not know the divine. They do not know the unknowable. This is emphasized in Al-Baqarah, surah 2, verse 118: “Those who have no knowledge (Marifah),” or you could say ilm in Arabic as well. “‘Why does not Allah speak to us or come to us a sign?’ So said those who are before them, [words] similar to what they say? Alike are their hearts. We have certainly made the signs clear for people who have certainty.”
What does it mean to be certain? To verify. To know. That is the essence of Gnosis, of Marifah, spiritual knowledge.
You could say that there are three degrees of knowledge as well, or three degrees of certainty in Arabic. You have ilm al-yaqin. Yaqin means “certainty.” Ilm al-yaqin means, the “certainty of knowledge.” You have ayn al-yaqin, the “perception of knowledge.” You have haqq al-yaqin, the “truth of knowledge.” Now, with the knowledge of certainty or certainty of knowledge, you could say, one receives that by studying scripture, by receiving a lecture, from hearing a talk or reading a book. We gain a certain level of certainty, intellectually speaking, where we feel, “This sounds right. I can verify this. I feel confident with this.”
The next step is ayn al-yaqin. Ayn in Arabic or in Hebrew means eyes to perceive. It is what we consciously verify, what we consciously experience. Meaning, our soul is free of conditioning; we perceive beyond the mind, the intellect, and whether through an astral projection, out of body experience, or meditative experience, we come to verify something spiritual.
Then, haqq al-yaqin is the truth of knowledge, or truth of certainty. That is when the soul fully unites with God and is one with the truth in which there is no “I,” there is only Him. The famous Sufi, Mansur Al-Hallaj, was executed by the Orthodox Muslims for saying, “Ana al-Haqq, I am the Truth,” which of course is blasphemous to them, considering that he was saying, "I am God." A way to remember it, it was not Mansur who was saying that. It was God in him. Of course, the orthodoxy had him executed, tortured.
Jesus said, “Before Abraham was, I Am.” Meaning, Christ, through him, was speaking. God, through him, was speaking. When we have that level of certainty, it is because the soul is fully one with God. One perceives as God, temporarily liberated from the conditions of the mind. Of course, one thing is to temporarily experience that, another thing is to make that permanent. In order to permanently be in that state, we have to remove all conditions, and that is a long process, a path we have to follow.
These three levels of certainty are emphasized in the Quran, Surah 102, “The Rivalry.” “Rivalry in vainglory distracted you until you visited the even graves. No indeed! Soon you will know! Again, no indeed! Soon you will know. No indeed! Were you to have knowledge of certainty, you would surely see hell.” Again, hell is, we mentioned, not just a place. It is a psychological quality. It is not a place of brimstone and fire. Those are symbols of how, in a moment of anger, we are consumed by hate, by fear, by pride. These qualities make us vibrate at a very low level of being, and make us suffer, make others suffer. That is what it means to be consumed by hellfire, the ego, you could say, our negative psyche.
“Again, you will surely see it with the eye of certainty. Then that day you will surely be questioned concerning the blessing.” Then, the truth of certainty is represented in Haqaa, “The Inevitable.” Again, Haqaa, that which is “inevitable,” is Haqiqa, the Truth. This etymology signifies that we will inevitably have to come to speak to our inner Being and make account of our actions.
“Indeed, it is a reminder for the God-weary. Indeed, we know that there are some among you who deny it, and indeed, it will be a matter of regret for the faithless.” It does not mean people who just believe in a doctrine, but people who do not want to change, psychologically speaking, who do not know the divine. “It is indeed certain truth, so celebrate the name of your Lord, All Supreme.”
The Sufis emphasized this doctrine of certainty with the following quote:
“Knowledge does not come about except by the prior fulfillment of its conditions. That is, one must examine things in a pertinent and relevant way.” Meaning, to meditate, to experiment and verify, to test it, to not either believe it or disbelieve it, but to be neutral and to work with these exercises and to see the results and to know for ourselves what is true, what is not.
“Then, when hints of the divine become continuous and clear, demonstrative evidence has been obtained, the perceiver, through the succession of lights and his deep reflection upon them, becomes seemingly independent of the consideration of proof.”
Again, these lights are experiences we can have in meditation, or when the body is at rest, the soul enters the dream world. In that state, we can awaken our consciousness and speak face-to-face with the heavenly beings. In that way, there is no intercessor, we simply know, from that state on that Tree of Life, those heavens; we verify the nature of heaven, those qualities, those levels of being.
“It becomes seemingly independent of the consideration of proof.” Meaning, the more we verify, the less we need to read. Then, we simply know that the truth of the matter and from our conscious experience, or conscious work. Of course, we are Shravakas. We have to study and learn the teachings and the techniques so that we can ascend up those levels of path.
What is a real Gnostic, an arif in Arabic? It is somebody who fully manifests God. People in these studies, we could say, are aspirants. We aspire to know the truth and to fulfill it. The Sufis emphasized these qualities in relation to the constitution of someone who really knows God, someone who has fulfilled Ma'rifah and has manifested Haqiqah, the truth.
“The Gnostic is purified of base characteristics and the disasters of his nature. He stands patiently at the door of God and remains secluded in his heart.” –Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
To stand at the door, as we see in this image, is the definition of a dervish, so the Sufi, the whirling dervishes, darvish, are those who stand at the door. In Arabic, it starts with the letter د Dal, or you could say ד Daleth in Hebrew: those who stand at the doorway of knowledge. The mystics of Judaism refer to Ma'rifah as Da'ath, the mystical creative knowledge of Tantra.
“He enjoys the good graces of God and corroborates him in all of his states. He has cut off the whims of his own self. He does not permit a thought in his heart that would summon to other than God. He becomes a stranger to the creation and is liberated from the catastrophes of his ego. He is cleansed of attachments and distractions and, in his secret being, is always conversing with God Most High. His every glance returns to God Most High.” –Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
This reminds me of a Sufi poem by Mansur Al-Hallaj. He says, “O, my eyes, O, my blinks, my stares,” referring to God, that God sees through him and guides him in his actions. Which is why, I believe it is in the Hadith, the Muslim oral tradition, where prophet Muhammad stated that, “The one who loves Him,” or his God speaking through him, “For the one who loves me, I become his eyes, his ears, his sight, his taste,” and the soul is immersed within that being, beingness.
“Therefore, the truth inspires him with the intuition of his secrets, the secrets of the course of His omnipotence. This is why such a person is called Arif, a Gnostic, and his state is called Ma'rifah, direct knowledge.” –Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufis
Conclusion and Practice
We always conclude these lectures with a practice you can engage with to help you to experiment and to verify what we are teaching, and to test it, to know it. In this exercise, continue to practice mindfulness, self-observation. Be aware of your mind, your heart, your body, your three brains: thought, feeling and movement, impulse, instinct, desire. At the end of each day, simply take a comfortable posture. You can sit in the full lotus or half-lotus or in a chair, Western-style, whatever is comfortable to relax the body and to silence the mind. Therefore, go into your consciousness and observe yourself. Do not identify with thought, feeling, impulse, desire, etc.
There is a mantra you can utilize from the Chinese tradition, Chinese Buddhist, or Chan tradition (the Japanese equivalent is Zen), a mantra that is called simply W-U, Wu. Amongst the Chan Buddhists or even the Zen Buddhists, they refer to this mantra as a negation of self. It literally means “no.” When you are examining your mind, you could do this mantra, the mantra Wu. It pronounced like a long exhalation of a breath: wwuuuuuuu. The master Samuel Aun Weor explains, it is a hurricane, a breath. Again, it reminds us of the Ruach, the spirit, the wind. You pronounce that mantra. Relax your body. You can do this for 30 minutes, an hour. Let your body relax. Then, eventually, let your body fall asleep. You can pronounce the mantra silently and then mentally.
When you examine your mind, look at the different qualities that emerge, memories, preoccupations, fears, etc., and simply negate them. Meaning, “Well, this is not my God. This is not my Being. This is not my true Self. Therefore, I am going to tranquilly ignore it.” Let it pass with the mind of intellect. Observe it. Let it go. Continue in the mantra: wwuuuuu.
In the writings of Samuel Aun Weor, he talks about this mantra in more detail, but a very simple way that you can silence the mind. When the mind is completely in silence and serenity, the soul escapes from the bottle and you temporarily experience the Truth, Haqq, your Being. Then, He can give you the guidance that you need for whatever issues or struggles you have.
Questions and Answers
Question: You were saying that we always need to be pretty much aware of what we are aware of.
Question: Meditation is a big step in that focus?
Instructor: We say that meditation is the daily bread of the Gnostic. “Give us this day, our daily bread.” That bread of knowledge is what we receive in meditation. That knowledge that we receive from the divinity within us is Kabel, Kabbalah. We will receive it within our qalb, our heart.
This practice of this mantra, Wu, is a preliminary step. We do mantras and sacred sounds to work with positive energy, to accumulate those forces in our interior in order to develop serenity. When the mind is perfectly in serenity, we forget our body, forget our mind, forget our sentiment. Then, the soul can reflect the divine qualities from above, in much the same way that a lake, when it is undisturbed, can reflect the stars of heaven, far away from any city.
Meditation is how we cultivate that knowledge. It begins first, observing ourselves. In daily life, we observe our mind, our heart, et cetera. Then, in that way, as the Sufis mentioned and we have mentioned in this lecture, "It is by developing awareness that God can exalt us in our daily life, in our daily deeds." Of course, meditation deepens that awareness.
Question: I always think of praying is we are talking to God, and meditation is we are listening.
Instructor: Meditation is listening. Also, when we pray, too, we do not need any formula. We can use many formulas such as the Ave Maria or Pater Noster, the Fatihah, the Opening of the Qur’an, which are very excellent for lifting our mood. I recommend that when you begin any meditation session, pray. You do not need to follow any specific formula. Just as a child approaches his mother, “Mother of mine, father of mine, help me.” God will respond if your mind is silent. Pray in the beginning and then silence your mind and then receive that knowledge. To pray is to strive, to conquer ourselves.
Question: It is just talking to God. It is just talking, right?
Instructor: When the mind is perfectly silent, then we can talk to God even in a deeper level. When the physical body is asleep, the soul escapes its shell and we can enter into the higher dimensions. Then, we can talk face-to-face. Then, we can conversate just as we are conversating here. Very vivid and real experience, God will make a form or image to teach us something.
Question: What is the context you used ‘hermetically sealed’?
Instructor: From the hermetic tradition.
Question: I only know the everyday meaning of that.
Instructor: Well, the science of hermeticism is the science of Hermes, which relates to the God Mercury. Hermes is associated with how we use our energy. We say Mercury to refer to, not just the physical element, but to our creative energy. The power of Yesod, the moon, that sexual force is Mercury. How we use it is how we illuminate our mind. Mercury relates to the mind as well. When we work with that power, we can illuminate our mind.
Hermetically sealed means we do not lose any energy. We discussed previously, in Tantrism, the couple should not reach the orgasm, specifically, that it is forbidden for those students to have any emission. The Dalai Lama states that the creative energy must never be let out. Likewise, with our heart. Likewise, with our mind. It is the renunciation of that habit, in which we conserve energy and transmute it, transform it. Where, we continually are filled with that water of life, which is the seminal matter, specifically. Hermetically sealed means, do not waste your sexual energy, but also, do not waste your emotional energy and your mental energy. Your quality of the mind is determined by how we use that creative power.
You look at people in the world today in relation to pornography or sexual addiction; that is all they think about, because, they are driven by that energy. We need to learn how to sublimate it, to direct it to more creative and spiritual purposes, which again, elevates our level of being, as we are discussing.
Question: Is there any Quranic interpretation that you would trust? I tried three of them years ago. You do not know which one to trust, because you cannot read Arabic, and you are reading somebody else's thought form. Do you know of any that are good?
Instructor: I know some English translations which are commended. Saudi Arabia commends the Abdullah Yusuf Ali translation. There is also a newer one, from more Western academia, which I believe is called “The Study Quran.” It is an English translation of course, but the good thing is that they explain some of the original Arabic, transliterated. That is very useful for people who only speak English and do not read Arabic to interpret certain words, such as some of the words we were using, refer to some of those resources. Very useful.
Question: Getting back to as you think, feel, and act, what is, as far as being in unison with all of it, does that have anything to do with it? I mean, how do you help others with that, with people? It seems there seems to be, what I have researched, is the cremation of care which is, no one really cares, hence skull and bones.
Another Speaker / Comment: Think of it like when you put two pianos together. You play a note on one piano that's side-by-side, the other one will pick up that note, will respond.
Question: It is like the 99 monkey syndrome, or the hundred monkey syndrome?
Instructor: I'm not sure.
Question: That just by being yourself, you just rub that off on others.
Instructor: If you have a higher level of being, it can help another person to rise to a higher level of being. Because, if you are vibrating with negative qualities, such as anger, you speak angry words, you are going to provoke anger in that person. Someone who has no training, they are just going to react.
Question: Isn't anger part of our dynamic though, the sadness, happiness, anger?
Instructor: Wrath or anger is an ego, a defect.
Question: No. No. Are we supposed to get, with all the atrocities and slavery, war, etc.?
Another Speaker / Comment: Yeah. Well, there is indignation. Yeah. That is the soul that says, "This is terrible." That is a justified sentiment. Remember in the book of Judges, judgment, in which God judges humanity, not out of hate but out of realization that people are corrupt.
Question: Jesus was angry at the bankers.
Instructor: He was very radical. People think of him as this very emasculated, sexless figure with no will. He is the whip of willpower to drive out those moneychangers, which is the symbol of all the egos we have who have taken the temple of God in us and prostituted it. He comes in with the whip. Christ, our inner Christ, rejects them. Just as Muhammad said, “Kill the unbelievers.” Kill your ego, but it does not mean kill anyone outside your religion. The thing is, when Muhammad came to Mecca, after taking over the city, he went inside the Kaaba and took all the idols that were there and knocked them over and destroyed them, as a symbol. He is representing how in our own physiology, our energies, our mind, our psyche, we have to take all of those egotistical elements and remove them.
Question: From the Gnostic teachings, are you familiar with John Lash?
Question: Okay. He says that Jesus was a demigod.
Instructor: Well, in Gnostic and Buddhist terms, a demigod is a Bodhisattva, a master who is the essence of Bodhi. Sattva means essence or incarnation. Bodhi means wisdom or light. Wisdom in Hebraic Kabbalah is Christ. He was the incarnation of the Lord. Just as Muhammad was an incarnation of the truth, the Lord. Moses, Buddha, they all incarnated that light which the Christians called Christ.
The human person, Jesus of Nazareth was a Bodhisattva, a great master. He is very diligent and he is helping humanity today, although, anonymously, because, you see what they did to him. But he is very active. Any Bodhisattva is someone who works selflessly. He is a being with divinity fully illuminated within him, like Mansur Al-Hallaj. He said, “Ana al-haqq. I am the Truth.”
Those beings are very hard to comprehend at our level. If you awaken in the internal planes, in the dream world, the heavens, you can talk to him face-to-face. Personally, I know Jesus. I talk with him. I invoked him in the astral plane, and he has given me certain teachings that have helped me. He is a being that is very hard to comprehend. We say he is the head of the Gnostic Church. He governs countless trillions of souls. He has omnipotence, omniscience. He can help many people in many places at once without any confusion. That is the symbol in Buddhist doctrine of Avalokitesvara, the god with the thousand hands: that is Christ. All that light is everywhere and nowhere, or you could say, is not limited to any place. A Bodhisattva is a being that incarnated that. He is a demigod, part God, because he has incarnated the God but still, he is human soul. He is Tiphereth, the physical person.
Question: Personally, how are you gauging what is going on right now in this third dimensional reality that we're living in? In terms of what is going on in the world.
Instructor: Well, humanity has precipitated itself on the path of destruction. It is very bleak. We are giving these lectures and teachings to help save the hat from the drowning man. Because, as the Qur’an teaches, humanity is going to be judged, has already been judged in 1950, I believe. Samael Aun Weor says that the Elohim, the gods, judged humanity and said humanity is worthless. It is really devoid of value. Therefore, since people no longer want to change individually, then the rest of humanity has to get cleansed. There is a big cleansing that is going to happen. When religion talks about hell, it is really just taking those souls that do not want to change, and nature does that for them, purifies them in the center of the earth, in the internal dimensions. When they physically die, the soul goes to those regions to be purified of those ailments, those shells. That is like a recycling plant. They will be cleaned at the end, but it is a very painful process. I do not recommend it.
Question: What about the Elohim, the lowercase gods?
Instructor: Well, we say Elohim, are masters, or any being that has fully perfected him or herself, is an angel. That is an Elohim.
Question: Really? Even Lucifer?
Instructor: Lucifer is a symbol of a quality or an aspect of our divinity, a very controversial one too. Luci Ferros, the bearer of light. Again, that light is Bodhi, Christ, but it is the shadow. It is that element of Christ that enters into imperfection in order to tempt us. He is the tempter. He gives us ordeals in life for us to conquer them, not to fail, but to conquer them. Therefore, he gives us hardships so that we can psychologically train ourselves. Of course, since the writing of Paradise Lost by John Milton, people took this term, Lucifer, and totally misconstrued it.
Question: Well, there is Lucifer and there is darkness, just like light in Catholicism.
Instructor: Well, yeah. We say that, that energy, when it is impure is the blackened Kaaba: impure soul, impure energy. When it is purified, that Lucifer shines as light. He is a ladder to ascend or descend. He is that creative energy itself, the sexual power. He is the power of the Holy Ghost, you could say, the sexual energy we have been discussing, Kundalini. That energy can either liberate you or, if it is channeled through the ego, destroy you. People who use that energy in a negative way, obviously, create harm. You see humanity today, people are perpetuating their suffering because they are addicted to negative habits.
Question: Getting back to the negative habits, whether it is the sexual thing or drinking or whatever your past karma is, what is the best way to get rid of that karma?
Instructor: We have three steps in terms of psychological work: discovery, judgment, execution. The book Revolutionary Psychology explains that very well. You can also read The Great Rebellion. It builds off of that.
First, we have to discover our defects. Then, we have the judge them in the meditation after.
Question: All 2,000 of them?
Instructor: Well, there are a lot of egos obviously. You look at the Bible, how Saul destroyed his thousand, and then David killed his 10,000. Levels of a master that, first, in the beginning, kill a thousand egos, this is a symbol of a lot of egos, not a literal number. Obviously, if you have annihilated that many, you would be pretty pure. To be at a higher level, of course, eliminate 10,000. Ten refers to those 10 spheres of the Tree of Life. Meaning, you are purified in all those levels.
Of course, we have to start where we are at. Of course, the thing is not to get discouraged, because the reason why we have this teaching or any esoteric scripture is that there is a lot of hope. For those who want to change will change. For those who do not, they will not. You look at how the Qur’an talks about how people, when they are presented with the truth and the knowledge, they just rejected it, like Jesus, Buddha, etc. Christ was assassinated. Buddha was supposedly poisoned. Socrates was given hemlock. He did not want to be exiled from Athens. Many masters were persecuted. It does not surprise me that people do not like this knowledge. Obviously, we do not have many crowds. Those who want to change will change and will be benefited by the divine. God really helps those who help themselves.
First, work on your ego. Eliminate fear, anger, pride, all those conditioning of mind. You will see, little by little; you will have experiences in the internal planes, where they are guiding you and they talk to you face-to-face about your work. They can help you. I have had that for a long time.
This is a transcription of an audio lecture from The Sufi Path of Self-knowledge, originally given live at the Chicagoland Gnostic Academy:
We are continuing our course on self-knowledge, which we initiated a few weeks ago. We've been discussing in synthesis the nature of spiritual awakening, comprehension, and cognizance of the divine, which is within us, as well as some means and methods for how we can acquire that cognizance, that awakening for ourselves. We were talking about the nature of consciousness, what does it mean to be awakened, what does it mean to be perceptive, and we've explained in synthesis how perception is the root of thought, it is the root of emotion, and it is the root of impulse, instinct, will, desire, etc., and is the very source from which perception springs.
In the spirit of the Gnostic doctrine, which encompasses all religions, we've been explaining this teaching of self-awareness, self-knowledge, how to experience the divine in accordance with the mysticism of the Middle East—to demonstrate that this teaching is more than from the Christian standpoint. We think of gnosis, in terms of scholasticism today as being the study of the Christian gospels that were not canonized. But the Greek word gnosis is knowledge, knowledge that we acquire from experience, and has nothing to do with intellectualism, scholasticism, theorizing, debating. Instead, it's a concrete and factual knowledge of divinity.
We were explaining this teaching in relation to the mysticism of Islam, and Islam in Arabic means submission to God's will. Whether we are Buddhist, Jewish, Christian, etc., we learn to submit to the will of divinity within us by developing that awareness, developing that understanding. Gnosis has been known in different terms in different religions, but amongst the Sufis, the mystics of Islam, they denominate this knowledge Marifah, knowledge, or Haqiqah, which means the truth.
In this lecture, we're going to explain what we need to do in order to develop that awareness further, that knowledge further. It is a spiritual discipline. It is a method. It is based on cause and effect. Spiritual life is based upon the implementation of specific factors, which is why different religions have given different codified rules of conduct, in order to know divinity, whether it's the ten commandments of Judaism, whether it's the ten meritorious or non-meritorious actions of Buddhism, or whether it is the written commandments given in the Qur’an amongst the Muslims and the Sufis, and each tradition has its own specific instructions and conduct of how to discipline the mind.
So in Buddhism, we speak about the need to discipline the mind in order to experience the serenity of no thought, to cease thinking, conceptualizing, preoccupation with the intellect which produces our problems and our sufferings. So the self-knowledge we seek is to train ourselves, to train our minds, train our bodies, our hearts, to know divinity and to understand what within our psyche obscures that divine intelligence, which religions have given different names, whether it is the inner Buddha, (which as we explained, Buddha means awakened one, to be cognizant, to be pristine, to be clear in thought, sentiment in being) or as amongst the Muslims, Allah, which has the Hebrew equivalent El. This is where you get many names of angels, Samael, Michael, Gabriel, etc.
It is that Self we seek to understand. But of course to get there, we need to learn how to implement the appropriate causes to reap the specific effects we seek. As the founder of the modern Gnostic tradition stated (his name is Samael Aun Weor), "Consciousness can only be awakened by upright efforts and conscious works, or conscious works and upright efforts."
We are going explain today specifically the parameters and the difficulties one faces when developing an introspection into the psyche. What are the obstacles we face, and what are some teachings that we can use to train an undisciplined mind to make it a disciplined and peaceful mind? Precisely because our mind, as it currently is, identifies with our daily problems, perhaps having arguments with loved ones, coworkers, conflicts. Any state of suffering indicates and points to causes within our psyche which need to be comprehended. It is by comprehending the source of the conflicts we experience within ourselves, within our interior, that we can obtain the peace of mind and the serenity of a divine and clear mind, one that fully reflects to its fullest potential the heavenly states of being, as we were discussing.
We will reiterate a point we made in our last lecture. We were discussing the nature of consciousness and what it means to be awake, and what it means to be unconscious. Currently as we are, in our preoccupations with our daily struggle, the engagement with work, the many obligations and responsibilities we are subjected to, we state clearly that these in themselves form distractions. How we approach life, how we engage with life is determined by our quality of mind, our state of being. It is impossible to escape from the necessaries of life, but we can change our psychological attitude, how we approach it.
As we were saying, our physical senses may be awake: sight, taste, touch, hearing, feeling, etc. These in themselves indicate a state of physical wakefulness. But in terms of the spiritual potential we have, we state that this potential is asleep. It is not active. It is not fully developed to its potential, which is demonstrated by the Sufi proverb, "He who knows himself knows his Lord." If we were to know ourselves completely, we would know divinity completely, according to the ancient traditions. So, we often speak of the need for awareness, of remembrance of divinity, becoming cognizant of that presence within us.
Specifically, we have the following quote from the scripture we've been quoting extensively in this course, the Risalah, or Principles of Sufism, (or you could say Gnosticism as well, they share the same roots) and this following quote is from a Sufi master by the name of Al-Wasiti. He was asked about the practice of remembrance and said, "It is leaving the enclosed court of unconsciousness for the vast space of contemplation through the power of fearing him and the intensity of loving him."
So again, divinity is not some old man in the clouds, some anthropomorphic figure who distributes lightning bolts upon this anthill of humanity to make us suffer. That god does not exist, which is why Friedrich Nietzsche said, "God is dead," or that Judeo-Christian god is dead, doesn't exist. Instead, the God we're speaking of is a presence, is a force, an intelligence which is within us. As we explained in the story of the allegory of the cave, there is a process by which one escapes from that shackling and conditioning of the mind, of the psyche, of the consciousness in order to experience higher states of unconditionality, of liberation, of freedom from negative psychological states, such as pride, fear, anger, vanity, lust, etc. The seven deadly sins, we could say, according to some traditions.
We are explaining that what we seek to develop is consciousness free from conditions. In a moment of anger, we are conditioned by anger. We see through the object of that desire. We want to fulfill what that desire craves from us. And this, you could say, magnetic pull of forces in ourselves to act in a certain way, in a negative way, demonstrates to us that we don't have full control, that we don't have full knowledge of ourselves, that we are trapped in a given moment by exterior causes and conditions to constantly react to the exterior world in a way that is harmful, that is detrimental for ourselves and for others. When someone criticizes us, perhaps a sentiment of pride emerges, that we feel that we are better than the other person, followed by anger, with the thought, "That person should not have insulted me," followed by another train of thought, "Well, I'll just forget about it. Perhaps that won't affect my job so much."
We constantly go through a chain of associative thinking, of thoughts, feelings, and emotions which pull at us in response to the external world, which in itself demonstrates that we are mechanical, meaning that we are like a machine in which anyone can press any button they wish, say anything they wish, and we will respond according to that wish, according to that impetus. This is why Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet when he was confronted and trying to fool the people of his household who were spying on him, he said, "'Sblood, do you think I'm easier to be played upon than a pipe? Call me what instrument you will. Though you fret me, you cannot play upon me." Meaning, the world is constantly playing its notes upon our psyche. Certain individuals may provoke a response that they seek against our will. We say, "Oh, that person is someone I dislike strongly." The fact that we tend to lack full autonomy in certain situations illustrates that we are mechanical.
If in a moment of anger we can step back from that sentiment, that feeling, and not give into that impulse, that indicates to us that we are controlling and stepping away from that conditioned mind, that negative self, and we are learning to see from a state of objectivity, which in itself creates a serene mind. We want to be serene, peaceful. We want to know God. Anyone who approaches religion wants to know a quality of consciousness that is free from suffering, and the object of these studies is to understand the causes that produce our suffering, and also the suffering of others, and how to change them. We want to free ourselves from this conditioned mind, this tendency to react constantly to life. Instead, we want to learn how to respond in an objective, conscious, peaceable manner, with virtue, with ethical discipline. This brings us to the point of the necessity of training the mind, disciplining that which is conditioned within us.
Discipline of Mind
We have in this image a woman being crowned by an angel and the following poem by the mystic Sufi poet Jalal al-Din Muhammad Rumi, where he states the importance of this discipline of mind:
“Let's ask God to help us to self-control, for one who lacks it, lacks his grace. The undisciplined person doesn't wrong himself alone, but sets fire to the whole world. Discipline enabled heaven to be filled with light. Discipline enabled the angels to be immaculate and holy. The peacock's plumage is his enemy. The world is the mountain, and each action the shout that echoes back. The discipline and rough treatment are a furnace to extract the silver from the dross.”
What is this peacock's plumage? If we examine our mind, we see that we may entail or contain many elements of pride, a sense of self that feels important, that does not want to be criticized or rejected or ostracized. We are, in spiritual language, that peacock. All of us possess a sense of self-esteem that does not want to be hurt. But it's precisely this subjective egotistical sense of self which is the impetus of our suffering. That plumage, that self-image that we carry in our mind, in our psyche, is our enemy. Instead, we have a different image in the soul that can exist if we know how to develop it, which is the divine, a divine image. But usually we have our own psychological tendencies, such as pride, self-esteem, self-importance, arrogance, etc., that we adorn ourselves with, like the peacock.
And the world is the mountain, and each action the shout that echoes back, meaning cause and effect. There are psychological causes for happiness, and there are also physical causes for happiness and sorrow. Certain actions will produce harmful results. We know this obviously from religion. But psychologically speaking, we have elements that we ignore, sadly, because with the law of cause and effect, our psychological actions, meaning our thoughts, our feelings, our will, have an effect on others, have an effect within ourselves. Usually we tend to think that we exist in this bubble and that we can say what we want, feel what we want, think what we want, and that it won't have any consequence. But all spiritual studies, or better said, all genuine religions teach that we become what we think. Mind precedes phenomena, according to the Buddha in his Dhammapada.
“This discipline and rough treatment are a furnace to extract the silver from the dross.” What is that pure silver that we seek to develop? It is the immaculate nature of the soul that has been removed of all its conditions. The dross is the imperfections that we created, but by implementing a discipline, in putting forth the causes of liberation, we could say, we purify ourselves like a furnace. But for this to happen, we must enter the fires of emotional crises, painful circumstances, so that we confront our own secret ugliness with the express purpose of eliminating our desires, our defects and faults. But of course, I like how Rumi says that it's rough treatment. It's not pleasant to face one's mistakes and to confront them and to want to change them. It takes a strong sense of heroism to want to overcome our causes that produce our suffering.
Levels of Spiritual Instruction and Discipline
So this spiritual discipline has been known in different religions in a certain structure. There are three levels of instruction given throughout Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Islam, Christianity, etc. We could say that there are levels of spiritual discipline, levels of work which have been taught in different languages, in different ways, and in this image we have the three levels of instruction, introductory, intermediate, and advanced, in accordance with the Muslim doctrine, but I'm going to give you some other references to show the universality of this.
The introductory teachings have been known as Shariah, the exoteric doctrine of Islam. In Judaism, we call it the body of the doctrine, known as the Torah. Certain scriptures have certain levels of application to our life. And so in Judaism, we say that the Torah is the body of the doctrine, the introduction to the Jewish mysticism. We also have intermediate teaching, which is known as Tariqah in Arabic, meaning the path. This is the mesoteric, or middle way into the heart of religion. And in Judaism, we find this mystical path is known by the Talmud, which is a philosophical discourse on the Torah.
Then likewise, we have an advanced teaching, an advanced discipline, which in Arabic is known as Marifah or Haqiqah, meaning knowledge or truth. This is the esoteric teaching, the hidden teaching—a very high level of discipline we can access if we know how. So, in Judaism, we say that these advance teaching is known as the Zohar, or known by the body of literature in the Kabbalistic tradition by the scripture, Book of Splendors, Zohar.
Buddhism has its own application to this. The introductory level is known as Shravakayana. Shravaka means “listener, he who hears.” Yana means vehicle, or level of instruction or practice. All of us who begin any spiritual studies, we have to hear first. We learn to listen, and then we learn to apply it in our practice and our path, which develops into the intermediate teaching, which is when we're applying this knowledge and making it practical, and where we're getting results, known as Tariqah. In Buddhism, this intermediate path is known as Mahayana, very famous in relation to Tibetan Buddhism. Maha means great. Yana means vehicle. This level of discipline is much more advanced.
In the first level of teaching, introductory discipline, we are seeking to develop our own spirituality for ourselves, meaning: we wish to stop suffering and so we seek to put in place the causes that are going to help to prevent us from suffering further. In this intermediate path, our spirituality and spiritual discipline is based more on helping others. Whereas we benefited our own selves, we developed some equanimity of mind, and then with our spirituality, we seek to help the spirituality of others, or to help others in a positive sense, in any way we are capable. Then with the advanced teaching, it pertains to more expedient methods, known as Tantrayana in Tibetan Buddhism. Tantra is, we could say the diamond vehicle, the superior vehicle, which has practices and methods which are very transcendental, which require a lot of purity of mind to enact.
So there are levels of instruction, levels of discipline we engage with. You could say that in the opening level of Shariah, relates to how we discipline ourselves. How do we curtail negative habits? This word Shariah, of course if we're familiar with the news, has a lot of baggage. In the Middle East, it pertains to punitive laws in relation to Muslim countries. But according to the Sufis, this term, is more internal, specific. It pertains to what are the modes of conduct we engage with to be spiritual. It doesn't mean to follow the certain laws of certain countries. Instead, it means to discipline the mind. That's how the Sufis denominate this teaching.
Then with the intermediate paths, we seek to cultivate our knowledge deeper, in a more profound manner. The thing to remember with these gradations of discipline is we seek to move from a self-centered focus to a focus on others. This doesn't mean the spiritual luminaries of humanity want us to be a teacher or a preacher or to be giving some form of transmission of knowledge in this sense, but instead it could pertain to whatever obligation we are placed with in life, in which divinity places us so that we can better ourselves.
The Divine Law and Reality
Now the Sufis explained these three paths, the introductory, intermediate, and the advanced levels of discipline in the following manner. This is from Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri, where he elaborates on points we made previously.
"The divine law, Shariah, commands one to the duty of servant-hood. The way, Tariqah, or the inner reality, Haqiqah is the contemplation of divine lordship."
And so also in terms of this discipline, with Shariah we are learning to curtail negative habits, followed by the ten commandments or other codes of conduct. Don't lie, don't steal, don't cheat, don't fornicate, don't commit adultery, don't harm others. This is in order to help us to serve divinity in our physical life. But as we explained previously, the inner reality, or that advanced stage of practice is the actual experience of the divine, Haqiqah. Haqq means “truth” in Arabic. And this truth is, we're given the Arabic terms, but this truth is known in different names. It just depends on the tradition you're referring to. And so the Way, reality, Haqiqah, is to contemplate divine lordship, meaning to know and experience the divine. Contemplation, meditation, these are states of consciousness in which one is fully connected with our source in a divine sense.
One thing we will emphasize: the Shariah is the discipline we engage with in our life in order to serve the divine. We could say that this is a form of fear, but not in the egotistical sense. People often talk about fearing God, and of course that phrase has a lot of baggage associated with it, too. We're not talking about fear from some person or to not commit an act because someone told us not to but because we know that the consequences will produce suffering and that we feel that remorse, that sense of conscience that knows that we should not behave in that way. Shariah is to fear God, meaning: to fear the consequences of one's actions, because we are accountable before the divine, and that our actions, depending on how we live, produce happiness or sorrow for others, and we are weighed and evaluated based on that by our own divinity, by our own being, we could say. Going back to the quote from the beginning by Al-Wasiti, the intensity of loving him, the intensity of loving the divine, that is Haqiqah, the path to the truth. That form of discipline in which someone as a master, spiritually speaking, is accessing God all the time and has no forgetfulness. That's a very high level of discipline. In the beginning, we're trying to be mindful, be aware of ourselves, moment by moment, day by day, through self-observation, self-awareness.
When we learn to access those deeper states of concentration, meditation as well as experiencing the divine, we access those higher levels, known as Haqiqah, in which in the beginning we are fearing God, meaning to fear the consequences of our actions, to have a sense of caution, to know that what we do cannot be taken away. Every action has a consequence. But if you wish to overcome the consequences of wrong action, what we do is seek to replace it with a superior action, because a superior law, the divine law above transcends our daily life, and so it can overcome those mistaken actions we engage with. In the beginning, we fear God, and in the end, we love God because we know Him directly.
We also explained the following quote previously:
"Outward religious practice not confirmed by inner reality is not acceptable. Inner reality not anchored by outward religious practice is not acceptable. Divine law brings obligation upon the creation, which is us, the soul, while the way is founded upon the free action or experience of the real. The divine law, Shariah, is that you serve him. The way is that you see him." –Al-Qushayri, Risalah: Principles of Sufism
We mentioned that in order to experience God, we need to implement the methods that are going to give us the results we seek, and that it is not enough just to want to have the experience. We have to practice. Hence of course, in this tradition, the Gnostic tradition, we have many exercises, which we give at the end of each lecture, that you can engage with so that you can come to know divinity directly.
“The divine law is doing what you have been ordered to do. Haqiqah, the truth, is bearing witness to what he has determined and ordained hidden and revealed. I heard Abu Ali al-Daqqaq (who is the Sufi teacher of this writer, Al-Qushayri) say that in God's saying in the opening book of the Qur’an, iyyāka naʿbudu: “You we worship.” This preserves the outward practice, the divine law. Iyyāka nastaʿīnu: “To you we turn for help,” establishes the inner reality, the way.” –Al-Qushayri, Risalah: Principles of Sufism
So with “you do we worship,” we're putting forth causes to practice, spiritually speaking. And it's by implementing those practices that we can receive that grace. You cannot have one without the other. It is a simple law of cause and effect. In order to know God, we have to learn how to meditate, which is something we'll be building up towards progressively in these lectures.
“So know that religious obligation is a spiritual reality and that it was made necessary by his command. Spiritual reality is a religious obligation and that the realizations of him were also made necessary by his command.” –Al-Qushayri, Risalah: Principles of Sufism
Practice and experience, these have to go hand in hand, and we need to cultivate both. How do we do so? Discipline in a spiritual sense does not necessarily refer to some kind of military exercises or a chore, something that is boring or in a negative sense. Instead, this spiritual discipline is based upon the joy of experiencing the results, or by when we engage with a practice, whether it's a mantra, a sacred sound, or in meditation, we naturally see the benefits of our actions, and that we are more inclined to engage with that discipline. But of course this type of work implies a direction of will, or better said, a re-direction of will. So we need to learn how to develop a spiritual will, a conscious will that does not obey the conditioning of the mind. It is will that is free of conditions. It knows how to act, to respond with equanimity, with serenity, with peace of mind to any situation. This is the foundation, or the beginning of entering the path of spirituality.
Spiritual and Egotistical Will
“Iradah, the will to find God, is the beginning of the path of spiritual travelers, the first title given to those who are determined to reach God Most High. 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-Qushayri, Risalah: Principles of Sufism
The word Iradah relates, in Arabic relates to riyadat, which means discipline as well, which we're going be talking about in the next few slides.
As I mentioned to you, we seek to develop willpower free from conditions, a will that does not depend on anger, on fear, on resentment. We say that those negative psychological qualities are desires. They're conflicting wills that always push us to act in contradictory ways. The willpower we seek to develop is one that is free of conditioning and belongs to the divine. But the will we have to access, in order to access this, we have to abandon many habits, many forms of conditions.
In this graphic we have the famous Bacchanalias of Rome, the famous orgies and feasts where people abandon themselves to alcohol and sex, indulging in sensual pleasures at the expense of the soul. This is a symbol for us at least in relation to this lecture of how the mind is constantly addicted to sensations and experiences, wanting to engage with certain habits, certain impulses which, when satiated, only come back more hungry with more force. It is the mistake of pop psychology in this day and age that states that by feeding desire you will reach a type of catharsis, meaning that it is nullified, it is annihilated. People commonly believe that by feeding desire, giving into what you want in an egotistical sense, you will satiate that desire and it will go away. The truth is that by feeding desire, you strengthen it. By feeding that negative will, by giving into anger, we feed that anger. We strengthen that cage, as we were speaking of previously. Instead, we have to learn how to restrain that impulse, which is done precisely through the effort of the pure consciousness, which in Gnostic psychology is known as essence, the essence of the divine.
The Sufis emphasize the following in relation to the type of psychology we need to develop and to abandon:
“Many people talked about the meaning of will, each expressing the extent it has manifested to his heart. Most shaykhs, or teachers, say that will means the abandonment of what has become habitual. What is habitual for people in the vast majority of cases is dwelling in the realms of unconsciousness, basing one's life on the pursuit of the passions, and inclining toward whatever one’s desires call for. The spiritual aspirant is someone who has cast off all this.” –Al-Qushayri, Risalah: Principles of Sufism
So as I mentioned to you, the beginning of accessing real spirituality is overcoming desire.
Question: I feel like this is pressing, when you take it all away, are you truly taking it all away? Because there's something that must be left, especially if the desire comes from somewhere.
Instructor: Good question. The desire is a cage, is a shell, what we call an ego, a sense of “I” or of self. Within that conditioning, within that shell is the consciousness, part of our soul that's trapped. If we want to develop our spirituality, we have to break those cages, and then you liberate the soul like the genie from Aladdin's lamp, which can grant you the wishes of any spiritual wish you long for.
Question: What you're saying is that we've taken the desire to find what's really there?
Instructor: Through comprehension of that defect, that desire, we learn to eliminate them and free the energy that's trapped inside, and that builds more consciousness, which develops our willpower further to accomplish greater spiritual works. But, of course, to do that, we have to overcome the Bacchanalia of the mind, meaning the mind's tendency to want to indulge in sensations and negative habits, whether it be through drinking alcohol to excess, or that desire, that craving for sexuality, of indulging with the impulses of the body, but without any sense of spirituality. We talk extensively about how one can learn to use one's physicality, one's body, one's mind, one's heart, and one's sexuality, one's creative energies in the body in order to develop one's spirituality. This is very well known in Tantric Buddhism, known in writings such as The Perfect Matrimony.
But in this topic, we're talking about how to abandon the conditions in the mind of desire, of trying to feed cravings that can never be satiated. Instead, to develop equanimity and pure serene will, one has to break the cage. But when I talk about willpower, I don't refer to something rigid, something dogmatic, something impulsive. It refers to an effortless state of consciousness that knows how to act appropriately in any given circumstance. That type of willpower, we can taste it if we learn to meditate and awaken our perception.
This type of will was illustrated by Jesus of Nazareth in his Passion. We see here in this image, he's praying in the garden of Gethsemane and he physically demonstrated for us the path of spirituality and spiritual will that we need to fulfill in ourselves. Now this path doesn't mean that we have to live like Jesus, meaning physically how he did. Instead, it pertains to how we apply our psyche, our consciousness to adhere to the values he taught. Here he's praying before his passion, knowing that he's going to be crucified, where he stated, “Thy will be done,” meaning “Father, if it is possible, take this cup of bitterness from me, but not my will but Thine be done.” This is a very powerful teaching about how the disciple who enters this teaching or this path finds that there are many forms of bitterness one has to face in relation to confronting one's own impurities, meaning one's defects. Facing certain situations is very challenging, but this is precisely the purging and the furnace in which the silver is extracted from the dross. He says, "Thy will be done, not mine." It is this trust in the divine will, in which our will obeys the will of divinity, in which we can access true peace and overcome our greatest problems. But every one of us will have his own type of Passion; we could say, ordeals, struggles, challenges which we have to face and conquer.
The Sufis teach the following in relation to the relationship between our will and the divine:
“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! (Meaning no egotistical will, no self-will, me, myself, mine. It is a will that knows how to obey the divine commandments). Here, one who does not abandon will, (or better said egotistical will) cannot be called a disciple just as linguistically one who does not possess will (meaning conscious will, spiritual will) cannot be called a disciple.” –Al-Qushayri, Risalah: Principles of Sufism
There's this duality there. It's written in a very enigmatic way to confuse people who were not initiated to the teaching. Instead, it's speaking in a very objective sense, meaning if you want to develop real spirituality, you have to abandon all desire, all self-will, the sense of me, my, and access the true self, which is beyond conditions. That was demonstrated by the path of the will of Christ. In this process, we learn to strive against our own impurities, our own mind.
It is through the path of confronting our own defects in which we learn to acquire true peace. This is known as the doctrine of mujahadah in Arabic, which is where you get the word jihad. The word jihad has many negative connotations today, especially on the news. Sadly, this teaching has degenerated. It's been misappropriated, because the real meaning of the word jihad is not holy war, it is striving to mortify the self, to confront the impurities of the psyche and to change them.
Now, Prophet Muhammad was asked by his Companions after they were defending themselves from a group of—I believe it was the Meccans who were trying to kill him, and so rightfully so, he needed to defend himself. The Prophet Muhammad stated, "We are now leaving the lesser holy war to the greater holy war," and the Companions asked, "What, oh Muhammad, is the greater holy war and the lesser holy war?" "The lesser war," he said, "is to defend yourself or to fight in battle, but the greater holy war is to fight against your own desires, your own defects, your own wishes, and really to do the divine will." So, in Arabic there are other words for war, but jihad unfortunately through time has been translated to have that meaning. But jihad means striving to fight against one's own afflictions. This is the basis of spirituality. Confronting and overcoming our own lower self, our conditioned self, and learning to liberate the soul that's trapped in it by comprehending those cages and eliminating them.
So we have the following quote from the Risalah of Qushayri: Principles of Sufism, that elaborates on these points:
"Know that the foundation and rationale of struggle or striving (mujahadah) is to wean the ego from what is familiar to it and to induce it to oppose its desires (passions) at all times."
We explained before the ego is this negative self that says, "Me, my, I must have, I must do, I must act." Of course this term ‘ego’ has become popularized in modern culture, especially from the work of Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud, but in Gnostic psychology, ego is not just one sense of self. It is a multiplicity. Every sentiment, every thought, every feeling, every memory can be associated to different defects, different selves, different fragments of consciousness, conditions that have trapped our soul. As a result of our wrong actions in the past, we created these different fragmentations of self, and it is by learning to comprehend these individual defects in which we learn to destroy them, to liberate the soul. And so the ego as we say refers to this pluralized sense of self, this multiple sense of selves. We can say ego is one, as in an ego, but also ego is the whole conglomeration of defects that we have, which is represented in the bible by the story of Jesus exorcising a man who was possessed by demons, in which the man said, "Leave us alone, Jesus," and Jesus said, "Who are you?" And the man said, "I am Legion, for we are many." It's a symbol of the nature of our soul and it's not just a little history of someone in the past, but something psychological.
We say the ego, animal soul, is animal-like because it only seeks to fulfill its own desire, its own impetus. “The ego (animal soul) has two traits that prevent it from good, total preoccupation with cravings, (attraction of pleasure), and refusal of obedience (avoidance of pain and harm).” –Al-Qushayri, Risalah: Principles of Sufism
There's this duality of the mind, meaning craving, aversion; to want to feed desire and then want to run away from pain. These are egotistical tendencies.
From Al-Qushayri’s Risalah: Principles of Sufism:
“When the ego is defined in the pursuit of desire, it must be curbed with the reigns of awe of God,” meaning the remembrance of the divine presence in us. This is self-awareness. “When it stubbornly refuses to conform to God's will it must be steered toward opposing its desires, when it rages in anger [at being opposed], its state should be controlled. No process has a better outcome than the breaking of the power of anger by developing good character traits and by extinguishing its fires by gentleness,” which is why Prophet Muhammad said, "The strongest among you is he who controls his anger." And Samael Aun Weor, the founder of this tradition, the modern Gnostic tradition stated that “kindness is a much more crushing force than anger.” We can heal with compassion. We can disarm an enemy with kindness when it is genuine.
“And if the soul finds sweetness in the wine of arrogance, (meaning an intoxicated psychological state, which is a symbol of not just physical drinking but indulging in desire, indulging in psychological tendencies that are harmful, which make one drunk and unaware of one's self) it will become incapable of anything but showing off its great deeds and preening itself before anyone who will look at it and notice it. It is necessary to break it of this habit, dissolving it with the punishment of humiliation by the means of whatever will make the soul remember its paltry worth, its lowly origin, and its despicable acts.” –Al-Qushayri, Risalah: Principles of Sufism
So humiliation does not mean we flagellate ourselves like certain sects, whether in the Middle East or Europe, as monks in the Middle Ages did. The type of humiliation we speak of is humility, to be humble. Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth. Or better said, blessed are the non-resentful, meaning to not harbor negative sentiment toward any other person, but instead to receive criticism from a state of humility.
It is really in different circumstances in which we are confronted with conflicts that we can attain the most spiritual growth. In a moment where someone criticizes us and we restrain our pride in order to not retaliate with our verb, we in turn can develop humility. We recognize that sense of self that is attached to what this person says or doesn't do, is really ludicrous. “It shouldn't have any hold on me,” we should say. “Instead, this defect is something I need to work against, and in fact the person who criticizes me is doing me a favor and is opening the doors for my spirituality. Therefore I should pay more attention and work on my own sense of self, which wants to constantly react.” And that is how we humiliate the negative self. We don't give it what it wants, don't feed it. And of course when you don't feed a desire, it comes back and it fights and it becomes very hungry, which is why this is a spiritual battle, spiritual conflict, and a spiritual training.
Kabbalah and Self-Discipline
In this graphic we have an image we study extensively in this tradition. This is the Hebraic Tree of Life known in the book of Genesis alongside the Tree of Knowledge. It is a symbol of states of consciousness, levels and qualities of being, from the highest regions of perception above to the lowest level of matter, energy, and perception below. Below we have this sphere of Malkuth which in Hebrew means kingdom. This is our physical body. We're going to explain the nature of this spiritual discipline in relation to this graphic because this graphic can help us understand who we are, where we are, what we need to change, what we need to work against, what we need to work with in relation to the following quote, whereby we study the nature of controlling these animalistic tendencies, animalistic desires which we contain within our subconsciousness and our lower psychological depths.
The following is given by a Sufi master by the name of Hujwiri, in his book Revelation of the Mystery, where he explains how this spiritual discipline is a matter of training the animality of the mind, the instinctiveness, the impulsivity of the mind to always want to satisfy its desires:
"Does not training, riyadat," this is the Persian word for riyadat, the Arabic word for training, "alter the animal qualities of a wild horse and substitute human qualities in their stead so that he will pick up a whip from the ground and give it to his master or will roll a ball with his foot. In the same way, a boy without sense in a foreign race is taught by training to speak Arabic and take a new language in exchange for his mother tongue. And a savage beast is trained to go away when leave is given to it and to come back when it is called, preferring captivity to freedom. Therefore Sahl (a Sufi master he's referring to) and his followers argue." –Al-Hujwiri, Revelation of the Mystery
Mortification, meaning striving or mujahadah, mortification referring to humiliation of the ego, to confront the ego, to work against it, to fight against it, and to mortify it. The word mort is the prefix for the word death, and this word refers to the death of those animalistic desires in order to preserve the life of the spirit within us. Through death we gain to spiritual life, as Francis of Assisi taught in his famous prayer: "It is in dying that we live and inherit everlasting life," he said.
So therefore his followers argue:
"Mortification, striving, mujahadah is just as necessary for the attainment of union with God as diction and composition are necessary for the elucidation of ideas. As one is led to knowledge of the creator by assurance that the universe was created by him, so one is led to union with God by knowledge and mortification of the lower soul." –Al-Hujwiri, Revelation of the Mystery
What is it that we need to mortify? We were talking a lot about willpower. In this tree of life we see at the very center of this graphic, the sphere known as Tiphereth in Hebrew, which means beauty. It can also mean resplendence, splendor. This is the beauty of the soul. This is willpower. And it's the center of the tree of life because this is how we access either the heavenly regions above or how we give into desires below.
Below the sphere of Tiphereth we have what's known as Netzach in Hebrew, meaning “Victory” relating to the mind, to thought, to reasoning. To the left we have this sphere of Hod, in Hebrew means “Glory.” This is our sentimentality, our emotionality, our feelings. Below that we have Yesod, meaning “Foundation.” This is our vitality, our energies: that which gives us strength in the morning when we wake up from sleep, that which allows us to physically exist. It can also refer to the energy responsible for our body for producing our biochemistry, our health, our catabolism, our metabolism, our sexual impulses, the energies that give us life physically, etc. Below that, we have Malkuth, which is our physical body.
Above that sphere of Tiphereth, this willpower, we have the divine spheres. Below that we have what we can call the inferior soul: mind, emotion, vitality, and physicality. These are things that we typically use in a negative manner, meaning whether we have negative thoughts, negative feelings, or we produce negative actions with our physicality, our body. Our willpower is part of our soul above, and we see that Tiphereth is human soul. It is the capacity for genuine spiritual beauty, because beautiful action is as contingent upon this fear of action. So remember that these are spheres of being, of consciousness, but also expressions of matter, energy, and perception. This also refers to different dimensions of nature, because our psyche exists in different dimensions and even physically we see that we may be aware of thought, feeling, and sensation. Sensation of course relates to our body, but thoughts and feelings themselves aren't necessarily physical, but we sense them. These are senses that belong to a different level of consciousness or dimensionality that all mix and penetrate and co-penetrate without confusion here within us, here and now.
This tree is not something outside. It's something inside, something psychological. It refers to dimensions we can access when the physical body is asleep, and we access the world of dreams where we can see these different regions of this tree of a life in a more subtle manner. But this pertains more to our psychology.
Above willpower we have the consciousness, which is divine, the Divine Soul. And then we have Spirit, pertaining to our own inner God, our inner Buddha, our true being. Above that we have this famous trinity known as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In Hebrew it is Kether, Chokmah, and Binah: “Crown,” “Wisdom,” and “Understanding” or “Intelligence.” These are forces. These are not physical people as the church teaches. Instead, it pertains to qualities of energy and perception that are very high.
So we have to use our will to control these lower spheres, to control our thoughts, control our feelings, and control our body in order to follow the will of divinity above. Thy will be done—the Spirit and the divine spheres above. Thy will be done on earth, this body, as it is in heaven. It refers to this graphic. We will talk more in depth throughout our courses about the intricacies of this image and different levels and depths of this teaching. But here we're just giving it in a very synthetic way to give you some context.
We see that to strive against one's defects is to enter into contemplation. To contemplate the divine, to meditate on the divine is a matter of comprehension. Comprehension is a profound psychological state in which we access divinity here and now. The Sufis emphasize that if you want to know God you have to fight against your own desires. This doesn't mean to flagellate oneself, to become a morbid person, to become negative, to become melancholic or sad or dejected, because if we look in the mind we see there are elements that are very chaotic and that we don't want, but this is no justification for repression or for a self-flagellating type of attitude, like “I am a bad person and therefore I deserve to suffer.” That is totally not what we're speaking about. That is a negative attitude born from ignorance. On the one hand, there is the craving and aversion. There are two extremes: wanting something and wanting to reject something. These are qualities of mind that we typically swing back and forth between in our daily life which is the pendulum that keeps us hypnotized, keeps us unaware.
On the other hand, consciousness and this striving against oneself is born from a state of peace, of equanimity, of self-awareness that is not impelled or conditioned or manipulated by those different forces. Instead, it's a state of peaceful mind in which we can see clearly, “Oh, this sense of anger is arising in me. I see it and I'm separate from it and therefore I can develop this opposite which is compassion.” Likewise with fear: “Oh, I understand this element of fear is rising in me therefore I'm going to remember my God who is the life of the galaxy, of the cosmos, of the universe. Therefore why should I feel insecure when my own divinity is responsible for the universe? Therefore there's no need for fear.” Then fear is nullified. We comprehend it. We understand the virtues associated or trapped within that vice, you could say. For every vice we have, every defect, there is a virtue we can develop when we extract the soul from that cage.
“Those who strive to the upmost for our sake,” says the Qur’an, “we will guide them into our ways.” (Sura 29, verse 69) Meaning, whoever mortifies himself or strives against his defects will attain to contemplation. “Furthermore, he contends that in as much as the books revealed to the prophets and the sacred law (Shariah, the introductory level instruction), and all the religious ordinances imposed on mankind involve mortification (striving against oneself). They must all be false and vain if mortification was not the cause of contemplation.” –Al-Hujwiri, Revelation of the Mystery
This means if your mind is chaotic, if you sit to relax and observe your mind, to meditate, you find that there are many distractions that emerge, whether they are memories, daydreams, preoccupations, thoughts of what to do later in the day, what happened in the past, any resentments, fears, worries; these are all surging elements that are chaotic. Of course, in the beginning when we observe that fact, many times we become horrified that this state of being is harming us. The truth is we're just becoming aware now for the first time of our daily mindset. One has to be brave and courageous to continue further, meaning to not be dismayed but to have courage and strength in order to face the chaotic mind and in order to confront it, to change it, to achieve equanimity.
It is with a mind that is free of desire, of thinking, of subjective sentimentalism, feeling, etc., in which the lake of the mind can be clear, pure and pristine in order to reflect the starry images and heavens above. Any time we act upon a desire in our mind, or physically, that is like a rock that lands into the lake and causes a ripple. It is like a ripple that disturbs the lake of the mind and becomes agitated. And likewise we need to learn to transform the impressions we receive in life with equanimity and peace of mind, so that that lake does not become agitated. When it's pure and peaceful, calm, serene, then we can reflect heaven above within our psychological interior.
“Again, both in this world and the next, everything is connected with principles and causes. If it is maintained that principles have no causes then there is an end to all law and order. Neither can religious obligations be justified, nor will food be the cause of repletion and clothes the cause of warmth.” –Al-Hujwiri, Revelation of the Mystery
There are two levels of individuals, human beings: those of spiritual discipline and those who have attained those heights of contemplation, which is why the following Sufi master, Abu 'l-Sari Mansur Ibn. 'Ammar said the following:
"All mankind may be reduced to two types. The man who knows himself and whose business is self-mortification, striving, and discipline, and the man who knows his Lord, whose business is to serve and worship and please him. Accordingly, the worship of the former is discipline, riyadat," which of course depends on Iradah, willpower, spiritual will, "while the worship of the latter is sovereignty, riyasat. The former practice is devotion in order that he may attain a higher degree," the former devotion constituting the introductory level. We practice so that we can eventually experience that truth for ourselves, Haqiqah above. "But the latter practices devotion having already attained all. What a vast difference between the two!" –Al-Hujwiri, Revelation of the Mystery
One is the discipline of the mind, and the other is the discipline of sovereignty. A sovereign is a king or a queen of nature: a being that has fully mastered him or herself. And so we have to ask ourselves, are we kings and queens of nature, meaning are we fully masters of our thoughts, feelings, actions, impulses, or are we impelled by them? That's a question we have to ask ourselves in order to develop our spirituality.
Faith, Belief, and Will
We emphasize throughout these teachings that there's a difference between faith and belief. We see that belief in itself is a concept of the mind, is a sentiment of the heart—feeling and thinking that something is true simply based on that feeling and that thinking without having the experience of that truth. Now we have to emphasize in this teaching that the willpower we seek to enact is what develops genuine faith. Faith is not belief. To believe that something is true is a concept of the mind or of the heart, a sentiment of the heart, whereas we say that genuine faith is knowing from experience. You put certain causes and effect and you will reap the result.
Now based on this definition, we have the following quote from The Dayspring of Youth by the Master Morya. He said the following:
"Here we think a note upon faith should be of interest. Initiates (or spiritual masters) say that its meaning has been misunderstood. Faith as the world uses it possesses no spiritual nature. Though in the secondary system it means power and energy applied to action. All success in yoga," yoga meaning from the Sanskrit yug, to unite with the divine, or the Latin, religare, religion, to reunite, it is the same meaning. "All success in yoga comes from this application. For the true quality of faith is a solar force that illumines the mind and attracts to it atoms of power and energy. More human wrecks have resulted from their misconception of this quality than man realizes." –M. The Dayspring of Youth
This means it is not enough just to think that something is true or to feel something is true. Those are subjective qualities of the ego. Instead, faith is conscious experience. We know something is true from fact, what we have verified, what gnosis we have gained. And likewise, it is by applying our will to spiritual practice in which we can strengthen that willpower and attain the genuine heights of spirituality, which is why the apostle James stated the following in chapter 2 of his book, verses 14 to 17:
"What doth it profit, my brethren, if someone sayeth he hath faith, but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother and sister is naked and destitute of daily food and one of you says to them, 'Depart in peace and be warmed and filled,' but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself if it does not have works is dead."
Now to conclude this lecture, we'll end with a certain practice you can use to develop spiritual will and develop genuine faith. This is known as the Runic yoga in the Gnostic tradition. The Nordic alphabet is an ancient letter system that implies a very deep yogic practice. Positioning the body in certain postures in order to sing prayer and mantras in order to invoke spiritual energies or in this case in this exercise we have for today, this is known as the Rune Dorn, in order to develop spiritual willpower, or we could say Christ's will. Christ is not just Jesus, but the energy he incarnated, the higher three spheres on the Tree of Life we talked about, Father, Son, Holy Spirit, that tri-unity, that tri-force, which can enter into us when we are prepared.
With this exercise we learn to inoculate our psyche, our body with those high forces, those energies. What you do is you stand with your feet together facing the east when the sun rises. So as soon as you get up from bed, face the east, put your left hand on your left side, your right hand on your right hip, and you pronounce the following mantras: Ta, Te, Ti, To, Tu. Each vowel is prolonged. The sacred sounds when you prolong them and make them vibrate in your body, they activate the glands. They invoke spiritual energies which will invigorate your will and help you to fight against that conditionality and negativity of the psyche.
Simply, this image refers to and looks like a hammer. It is the hammer of Dorn, the God Dorn in Nordic mythology, the God Thor, unfortunately mimicked in Marvel Comics now, but this is a symbol of superior willpower. When you pronounce those mantras prolonged, taaaaaaaaaaa, teeeeeeeeeeee, tiiiiiiiiiii, tooooooo, tuuuuuuuuuu, prolonging each vowel with your full breath inhale, pronounce one of those vowels completely until your lungs are exhausted and then likewise with the next vowel, with ta, te, ti, to, tu.
That activates certain energetic centers in the body, in the psyche known as chakras in Hinduism to activate spiritual faculties. That is how we can strengthen our willpower and give you energy to apply to your spiritual life. If you find that you're sluggish mentally, emotionally, physically, even if you get enough sleep, this is a very powerful practice that invokes those forces, especially if you get up very early in the morning, like five or six, whenever the sun rises, and praying to the divine, you can place your hands on your heart. We do this in the Sufi style or the Egyptian style, right hand over your left over your heart, and whatever words you have naturally, pray to the divine. Say, "My Lord, please grant me spiritual strength in my work in order to fill my heart and soul with peace and with energy." Then do the mantras, like this, the vowels. This is the Runic language or the Runic yoga, which we'll be giving courses about in the future.
Question: So we say each of those with one breath?
Instructor: It is “Ta,” one breath, and then the next, “Te,” another breath, and so on with the rest of the vowels. And focus when you mantralize. When you pronounce those sounds, feel the vibration of the vowel in your own mantralization, and focus on the energies that it provokes, and you'll find that it really will, especially if you practice in the morning, when it is good to get up very early and the energies are very conducive to meditate and to pray. This is why the Qur’an teaches the recitation at dawn, how beautiful is that to get up in the morning to pray and to seek remembrance of the divine. It's very powerful. And simply you can do this for ten minutes, you could do it for 30. For however long you feel.
Question: It should be done in the morning?
Instructor: It can be done in the morning. It's good, better in the morning, but you can do it in the evening too as well, at night. But it is best in morning hours, which are always more conducive for spiritual practice. This develops Christ's will, the will of Christ, the will of the divine in us as it is in heaven.
Question: You were discussing how we need to break our mechanical reactivity to life, for example, "If in a moment of anger we can step back from that sentiment, that feeling, and not give into that impulse, that indicates to us that we are controlling and stepping away from that conditioned mind, that negative self, and we are learning to see from a state of objectivity, which in itself creates a serene mind." Similarly, Gurdjieff often writes about the necessity for a man to engage in an internal struggle against his mechanicity; without struggle, there is no possibility to develop autonomy.
In my own practice, I get a bit tripped up over this point. Firstly, still being very much asleep, it is difficult to discern if the internal struggle is positive or egotistical. I have a personal tendency toward repression/depression, so while I appear to have considerable restraint at times, I find in meditation that this is often motivated by fear of doing something wrong more than spiritual discipline. I can avoid performing a harmful behavior yet blind myself to the desire provoking it.
It seems like at the beginning of our spiritual work, before we have cultivated sufficient psychological equilibrium, we just have to make effort to restrain any will because it is likely selfish desire. However, if this leads to repression, we won't see the unconscious desires that are causing our suffering. Do we need such a strong force of renunciation just to push ourselves to start on the path? How can we aim for the right balance at the beginning?
Instructor: Samael Aun Weor explained the following that can help elucidate this topic for you:
"To experience the Truth is fundamental. It is not by means of exertion that we can experience the Truth. The Truth is not the result; the Truth is not the product of exertion. The Truth comes to us by means of profound comprehension. We need to exert ourselves in order to work in the Great Work and to transmute our creative energies. We need to exert ourselves to live, to struggle and to tread the path of Integral Revolution, but we do not need to exert ourselves in order to comprehend the Truth." -Samael Aun Weor, The Revolution of the Dialectic
Comprehension takes no effort. It happens when we are observing our psychological states and do not expect anything. We simply see the psychological processes of the mind for what they are, without exertion (justification or morbidity / repression).
When the Sufis speak of striving, they refer to the meditative path of serenity as taught within Buddhism, the nine stages of shamatha. It takes great effort in the beginning to restrain the mind from harmful impulses and to concentrate oneself, yet this effort becomes effortless as we become acclimated to and familiar with such states the further one develops serenity.
You can measure how well you are striving against the mind in relation to how much you comprehend in yourself. Are you understanding the causes of suffering more? Are your psychological states more profound and serene? Do you learn to respond to the unpleasant manifestations of your fellow men and women with equanimity and compassion? Or are you stuck in the battle of the antitheses, reacting to life without comprehension or intuition?
The ego of shame can be a difficult obstacle to overcome, whereby we see our faults and make the error of reacting egotistically to what we perceive. The solution is to comprehend what shame is, which is inverted pride, the self that takes pride in, “I am a bad person!” It sounds funny, but when you observe this ego, this is how it functions. It thinks it knows what is bad, but it’s just reactionary. It’s a “Gnostic” ego that thinks it is doing the work and which everyone mistakenly creates when on this path.
The solution is to develop remorse, which is a conscious quality that recognizes the insignificance of our individual person before the majesty of divinity. Remorse is also the voice of conscience, the beauty and dignity of the human soul: Tiphereth. This occurs by seeing, by observing the process of thought and emotion involved in such a negative state such as shame, without labeling, hiding, or pushing it away.
When we comprehend shame, we feel great surprise, a shock of inspiration, since this is the dynamic expression, conscious shock, or intimate realization of our soul that perceives what we are and why we were suffering. We also perceive the beauty of our own soul by recognizing our errors, a recognition which should produce happiness, since “A discovered defect is a dead defect.” While it’s painful to see the reality of our mind, when self-observation and comprehension is profound, we develop joyful perseverance and beautiful action, because with comprehension of any ego in meditation, we also perceive and can understand the virtues trapped in it.
Renunciation is developed the more we comprehend the causes of suffering and no longer go back on behaviors that we know are negative. This always strengthens the consciousness the more we face and overcome trials and temptations.
We find balance through consistency of practice, by meditating daily on what we perceive in ourselves. We learn from joyfully receiving the unpleasant impressions of our fellow man and learning to act from compassion and awareness in the precise moments when we are on fire, tested and burned by circumstances. We learn through failing many times and struggling, reflecting on our behaviors, and making better choices when ordeals repeat, so that with time and experience, we perceive that we no longer suffer or make others suffer, but respond to difficult conditions with serenity and insight.
This is a transcription of an audio lecture from The Sufi Path of Self-knowledge, originally given live at the Chicagoland Gnostic Academy:
We're continuing our course on self-knowledge and the discussion of the nature of consciousness, perception, awakening, and understanding—that which we call our genuine identity, that which we call the Being, the Innermost, which the Muslims denominated Allah, and the Christians as Chrestos, Christ; likewise, the inner Buddha amongst the Asian esotericists, or Jehovah amongst the Hebrews. This inner intelligence, this inner divinity, we could say Atman in Hinduism, the inner Self, is beyond our terrestrial conceptions of self. We seek to go beyond our current everyday understanding of who we are, to go deeper, to get insight into who we are as a spirit, as an inner Buddha, as a God.
As Jesus of Nazareth taught, “ye are gods, is it not said so in the scriptures?”—and we must learn to become that, which in our very root, we are. But our terrestrial life, our mistaken sense of self, has hypnotized us from actualizing the truth and understanding that for ourselves, from our experience. Our name, our language, our race, our culture, these things in themselves began in time and end in time. But that which is divine is beyond these terrestrial concepts. So if we seek to understand that which is eternal, we must, in turn, confront and transform that which is illusory. We must be willing to make changes in our understanding of self and our perception.
So in this lecture we're going to talk more in-depth about consciousness. Last week, we discussed the nature of awakening: what it means to awaken, and we explained that awakening is to become aware of that divine potential—to awaken that consciousness, that soul, that part of us which belongs to divinity. We seek to develop that based on conscious works and practical exercises. So we mentioned a technique we can use to develop that insight. We have many available throughout the literature we provide.
In relation to this teaching of self-knowledge, we are practical. We do not rely on theory. We do not rely on belief. We do not rely on a creed, a concept, a flag. Instead, we base ourselves on practical knowledge, that which we verify, that which we know for a fact. We are scientific, we are methodical, and we seek to verify the teachings given in religion—to know that which Jesus of Nazareth, Buddha, Prophet Mohammad, Krishna, Moses taught. We seek to verify that for ourselves and to make it living and concrete.
So in the spirit of universality, we've been discussing the nature of self-knowledge as given in the Middle East, to emphasize that this knowledge is not only contingent upon the teachings of the Christians or the Buddhists or the Kabbalists of Israel, but also the Muslim initiates, the Muslim teachers, who in the Middle East gave this doctrine known as Islam, which in Arabic means 'to submit'. So we teach the esoteric or hidden meaning of that tradition, and in the spirit of inclusivity and taking an eclectic approach, we've been discussing this science of relation to the mystical doctrine of Sufism.
So we're going to elaborate on this teaching more in depth, but we seek to submit to our divine will, to our divinity through practice, through a systematic discipline. The primary practice we engage with is meditation, as we'll be explaining and leading up to this introductory course. We have this image of a Muslim master who is kneeling in prayer, and likewise we must learn to develop that connection with the divine that we seek.
The Definition of Consciousness
What is consciousness? There are many definitions of this term. In the basic sense we think of consciousness as a physical state of awareness, to know that one is thinking, that one is feeling, and that one is acting. But consciousness in its most profound sense is spiritual. It is the root of perception. It is the root of who we are fundamentally. Consciousness does not pertain to thought; it is beyond thought. Consciousness does not pertain to emotion. It is beyond emotion. Consciousness is beyond the body, but it uses the body. It is beyond impulse, instinct, sensation.
When we sit to practice and to observe ourselves, observe our body as we practice that exercise of Anapana, which is breath work, we become aware that thoughts emerge, sustain, and pass. Likewise, emotions emerge, sustain, and pass. So also with the sensations of our physicality, like clouds or a mirage that disappears as we approach it.
If we learn to observe ourselves in this manner, and to realize that we are not thought, that we are not emotion, we are not the body, the question remains as to what we are in our fundamental depth. Consciousness is not thought, as I mentioned, but it can use thought. Consciousness is not emotion, but it has its own profound sentiment, which is pure and divine, its own longings, aspirations, fears, but not from an egotistical sense, of a crippling sense as that implies. Likewise, consciousness is not the impulses that emerge within our psyche, such as a desire to go running or walking, or to eat something, to read, to perform some type of physical activity. Consciousness emerges and is before these experiences emerge, and so when we develop that, we learn to perceive ourselves not as these elements but something beyond that.
Our consciousness is something dynamic. It is not limited to thinking, concept, thesis, antithesis, belief, disbelief. Likewise, consciousness is not limited to a feeling of like or dislike, of pleasure or pain, attraction or lack of attraction, and the same with the body, to do or not to do. Consciousness is beyond these elements and possesses its own dynamism, its own dynamic qualities, which we need to experience and verify.
We begin to see as we observe ourselves that there are two types of consciousness. There's consciousness that is conditioned by thought, feeling, and will—thought, feeling, and impulse. There's consciousness that is conditioned by those elements. There is a type of awareness involved with thinking, feeling, and acting.
But in this dynamic and very expansive science, we begin to see that consciousness cannot be limited just to those aspects that we commonly and currently experience. It's something beyond that. In Sufism, we say that the soul is known as nafs or nafas, which in Arabic means breath. The soul is like breath, it is like breathing, which is why when we practice Anapana, awareness of our breathing in our body, we begin to become aware of not only our physicality, but our thinking, our feeling, and our body.
The Sufis explain that nafas can be conditioned or unconditioned based on our will, what we do with it, how we act, how we behave. The unconditioned consciousness in this study, in Gnostic psychology, we denominate with essence, the soul, that purity of consciousness that belongs to God, that belongs to the stars, to Urania, the heavens. Then there's the subjective self, which is all our negative qualities such as fear, anger, resentment, pride, hate, anxiety, suspicion, and doubt, greed. That vast plethora of qualities that we denominate as the ego in these studies: this sense of self, this I, me, who I am, what I believe in, who I consider myself to be.
Ego in Latin means I, self. And if we begin to observe ourselves, we see that we, in turn, are not one self. Every thought, every feeling, every impulse is a sense of self that emerges within the screen of our awareness and seeks to act to define itself to do, to fulfill its wants; it is desire. These desires, these different selves, are different senses of self, identity, different qualities, which are related to each other, as in a train of thought. If we are aware of ourselves we see that one memory brings about another, one thought brings about another, and through a chain of association, leads us into a state of slumber, a lack of awareness.
It is the sleep of our unconditioned consciousness, our soul, which produces our suffering. If we learn to awaken that pure potentially, that pure consciousness is what grants us access to the divine mysteries. It is that sense of consciousness that does not pertain to self, me, myself. It is perception, but it is not self as we think of it. Yes?
Question: So the unconditioned you said is the extension of God in itself?
Question: And the conditioned consciousness is essentially anything that's an antithesis of that, and anything that is masking that, anything that is trying to define it?
Instructor: Yes. That conditioned consciousness is the adversary of God, which in Hebrew is Shatan, which is where we get the word Satan. In this image, we see the Angel Michael defeating the monster or the devil. This is a symbol of how the light of pure consciousness, which is not conditioned, defeats the tenebrous and negative self, which is that sense of self or desire trapped or expressing as fear, hate, pride, vanity, and the seven deadly sins as we know of. So that conditioned self is we call ego or egos. It is desires that are in conflict with each other, and which fight and combat one another for predominance in order to express itself and gain the object of its desires. So it is that precise sense of self or selves, which we mistake for the divine, which produces our suffering.
Question: Does anything come out of this fight? Is this fight... Well, you know, obviously not pointless, because if the fight wasn't going to happen, the fight wouldn't be happening. But I guess what comes out of it then, if Michael here is defeating the monster? What is now attained, or at least maybe not lost, by the monster being defeated?
Instructor: Excellent question. So we have to understand ... The thing we must understand is that part of our divine consciousness is trapped within that conditioning. This is the myth of the genie of Aladdin's lamp, the genie, the genii, the jinn, the soul is encased, encapsulated and shelled within that negativity. And so we have to learn how to break those shells, break that conditioning so that the soul, which is trapped, can be liberated. Precisely, this is the path of consciousness, the path of self-knowledge. We gain knowledge by defeating the dragon because that dragon has stolen the maiden. That maiden is our pure essence or pure soul, which needs to be freed, which needs to be conquered. That is to attain the marriage of the knight with his maiden, the warrior with his lady.
The Three Types of Soul in the Qur’an
So we state that in this path of developing that pure consciousness, we could say that there are three types of soul, three stages, three demarcations, which are taught within the Qur’an, the holy book of the Muslims, but also within the Sufi doctrine. We say that there is a carnal soul, there is a blaming soul, and then there's also a peaceful soul. In the beginning, the soul is carnal. It is enmeshed within passion, within desire, within the negative product of mistaken action, encased in fear, and these subjective elements.
So that carnal soul is mentioned in the book of, or in the surah of Yusuf or Joseph, the 12th surah of the Quran, verse 53, where Joseph who is imprisoned by his own brothers stated, "Yet I do not absolve my own carnal soul." In Arabic, nafs al-Ammara. "For the carnal soul, indeed, prompts men to evil except in as much as my Lord has mercy. Indeed, my Lord is All-Forgiving, All-Merciful."
There's also a next gradation in which we recognize that we have a polluted soul, because that soul is enmeshed within hate and fear and the elements of suffering or elements that cause suffering; we are carnal of the flesh below, terrestrial. But there's a soul that knows how to reproach itself that is beginning to develop and change, which is beginning to conquer that lower animal nature, we could say: those animal-like qualities of conditioned consciousness.
In the Qur’an, this soul is mentioned in the verse, or the surah known as the Resurrection, verse 2, "And I swear by the self-blaming soul, the self-reproaching soul."
Likewise, there is a third type of gradation, which is the soul at peace, referring to those beings who have fully perfected the consciousness. That conditioned consciousness has been purified and now the consciousness, that is fully elaborated and expressed within the divine, has fully reunited with that source. "Oh, soul at peace, return to your Lord, pleased and pleasing." This is surah 89, verses 27 and 28.
Likewise, the blaming self is known as nafs-e-lawwama, and the soul at peace is nafs-e-mutmainna in Arabic. So these are three stages of how the soul achieves perfection, and that is really the goal of self-knowledge. We gain knowledge by comprehending our mistakes, changing them, and not going back to them, but instead learning to transform the nature of our mind and those lower qualities, which obscure the very light of understanding in ourselves.
In relation to talking about consciousness, these qualities, which really are the impetus and produce the consequences of suffering, these are the factors that we need to transform. In Principles of Sufism by al-Qushayri, a famous Sufi master, he says the following about the lower self, the nafs or egos:
“The first part of the constitution of the nafs consists of things forbidden by the command of God or by respect for this majesty. The second of its two parts consists of trivialities and vileness of character in general. In particular, it is made up of pride, anger, hatred, envy, bad behavior, intolerance, and the other blame-worthy characteristics. The worst and most difficult of the elements of the ego is it's supposing that there's something good about itself, or that it has a right to some standing.”
This is why many people today deify and enthrone hate, pride, self, egotism. “This quality is counted as secretly attributing equals to God.” In the Muslim doctrine, the Qur’an speaks often about shirk, to not join partners with God. In the public sense, in the exoteric sense of the religion, it refers to not worshiping other deities besides Allah, which is a very basic and superficial understanding. Instead, in a conscious sense, to not practice shirk, to practice the unity of God, is to take all the parts of the soul that are trapped in those defects, to free them and unite them all with that light, with the divine.
Anytime we act on fear, on gluttony, on resentment, that is performing shirk because the soul that belongs to God is trapped in that. If we enact that mistaken sense of self, it is perpetuating our suffering, and that's a form of, we can say, in a very strict sense, blasphemy. Because the Lord wants to take all that soul that belongs to him and bring it back to the source. This is why the Bible says that God is a jealous God.
There is another form of soul mentioned by the Muslim esoterism, known as nafs al-iblissiyya, the "souls" of Iblis, the devil. The devil is not just a historical figure from some ancient past, but represents a psychological truth about us, here and now. These souls of the devil are the pluralized ego, the multiple selves, like pride, vanity, fear, laziness, lust, gluttony, all the qualities of the lower, carnal soul. Each defect, as we said, is a conditioned and conditioning element, a self that has its own thoughts, feeling, and impulses that never obeys the will of divinity. This spiritual work is focused on destroying the ego, so that the unconditioned consciousness can flourish. In this way, we guard our breaths against God Most High, as the Sufis states repeatedly in Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism. We must learn to guard our consciousness moment by moment, to not speak vain things, to not act upon the ego, but learn to work against our faults so that we can transform our lives.
The Three Brains
But let us talk more about how we can develop that unconditioned soul. In Gnostic psychology we refer to three brains. The word brain in the esoteric sense refers to a machine, not just the physical cerebral matter in our skull. A brain is a center of physiological and psychological activity. We are commonly affiliated with the intellectual brain, which is where we process thoughts. By brain, we're not only referring to just the physical aspect of the soul or of the body. We're referring also to mechanisms in the soul, how the soul functions through the brain because mind is independent of the physical matter. The physical brain is merely a machine or tool that processes the thoughts of the mind, which exist beyond physical matter.
Likewise, the emotional brain processes emotion, sentiment, like, dislike. And the emotional brain is the physical manifestation in the heart and its nervous centers that process feeling. Likewise, we have a brain related to movement, instinct, and sexuality, which is impulse or will. We state that the soul can express through these centers or these brains. These machines process forces that belong to the cosmos and belong to our psyche. We need to learn how to use those energies inherent in those centers in order to use them for our spiritual work.
The Sufis also teach this, that the soul is not just independent from the body, but is expressed through the body, and that we should learn how to use our intellectual center, our emotional center, and our motor-instinctive-sexual center, these three brains, thought, feeling, and movement, in accordance with the divine will. So the lower consciousness or lower soul, the egos, can manifest in our thoughts, or feelings, or actions. But the soul also can use this machine of the body to process superior thought, superior emotion, and superior action.
So the Sufis teach in Al-Risalah, Principles of Sufism, the following:
"The whole cure of character is the abandonment and breaking of the ego through suffering hunger, thirst, and wakefulness, and through other sustained efforts including the breakdown of strength," we could say egotistical strength, our attachments. “For that is also part of the general abandonment of the ego.”
So how do we break the ego? How do we abandon the ego? We must learn to suffer hunger, thirst, and wakefulness. To be hungry as a psyche is to not feed our mind and our body, our impulses with substances or impressions that will damage our psyche, that will deepen our state of suffering—such as watching movies that are very violent, very aggressive, with foul language—these elements enter the mind, the mind transforms them, processes them, and they become further conditions of the psyche.
We feed our mind and our heart and our body not just with physical food, but with what type of experiences we surround ourselves with. Divinity has established its own commandments in accordance with religion: don't drink, don't smoke, don't commit adultery, don't commit fornication, whether it’s through the Ten Commandments of Moses or the ten meritorious and non-meritorious actions of Buddhism. Each religion has its own structure or laws, commandments that can guide us to live a superior life. The Sufis and the Muslims say that one should not eat that which is unlawful, which people think refers to Halal, which is the Muslim equivalence of observing a kosher diet. But psychologically we need to become Halal, holy, meaning to eat substances or to take impressions that are going to be beneficial, such as good literature, good books, good music, things that will elevate our way of being. So we have to suffer hunger, meaning that when we begin to restrain our mind, the ego becomes hungry, it fights, it wants to be fed, it wants to sustain itself. Likewise, thirst, thirsty for impressions that would feed that pride or fear or anger, which we used to indulge in. Wakefulness, of course, is how we attain that fasting of the soul to not identify with those elements, to not let them carry one away, and to learn to change them.
“This implies that the ego is a subtle entity, seated in the physical body, which is the locus of blameworthy characteristics. The ruh (or you can say in Hebrew ruach), the soul, is likewise a subtle entity seated in the body, which is the locus of praise-worthy characteristics. The whole is subjugated one part to the other and that totality is one human being.” —Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri
So this machine of the body and of the psyche can process good fuel or bad fuel depending on what we take in and also how we act.
The Path of Life and the Path of Being
Which brings us to this next slide, an image that we repeat and go over in many lectures due to its importance. In this graphic, we have the intersection of a horizontal and vertical beam. That horizontal line refers to life. On the left we have our birth, followed by our childhood. Moving towards the right we have marriage, old age, sickness, and death. This horizontal line of life is mechanical.
Birth and death process themselves cyclically. The soul goes beyond and transmigrates as we teach in other lectures in accordance with the Hindu doctrine. These elements that we consider to be ourselves, as I mentioned, “my language, my name, my culture, my race, my political beliefs, my ideology,” these things come with time and they pass in time. They're transient; they're not eternal. That is all demarcated by this horizontal line, which is the path that everybody follows. It is 100% mechanical, as I mentioned.
People go through life without any type of spiritual longing or inquietude, a desire for something more. Those that do, sadly, fall into habits and beliefs in order to encapsulate further within an ideology, a political system, or a religion in a conceptual way. These all belong to the horizontal beam. One can be very devout in one's religion, practice austerities, fulfill the commandments of Islam or Judaism or Buddhism, and yet have no cognizant experience of what those religions teach. One thing is the form, to adopt it as a behavior, but this does not denote knowledge, cognizance, or understanding.
That which we want to develop in ourselves is this vertical path. This vertical beam refers to states of consciousness. Above, we have superior states of consciousness known as heavens, Jannat or nirvana, heavenly states or qualities of being. Then we have inferior states referring to that conditioned lower consciousness known as nafs, egos, selves, which is the submerged aspect of this vertical beam. As we talked about in the lecture on awakening, there are those who learn to awaken that free consciousness and ascend upward to heaven, to the divine. But there are those also who knowingly feed their hatred and their fear, and their pride, and deepen their suffering, and they descend that vertical path.
When we are walking the spiritual path, we seek to become aware of the present instant. Everything is contingent upon our awareness of our moment. Who are we in this instant? What is passing through our mind? What is our emotional state? What impulses are emerging within us? The primary foundation of meditative science is self-awareness, which in many teachings is very popular today. Awareness is necessary and fundamental to accessing the very deep knowledge we seek. So consciousness, self-observation, awareness of self is found precisely in this moment, where these two beams intersect. Our mechanical way of life intersecting with a spiritual way of life. It has nothing to do with outward behavior, although it can be reflected by that. It refers to inner states or qualities of being, ways of being.
So what is the best way to worship that, which is divine, is to be aware of our present, and to be aware of the presence of God. The word awareness in Arabic is muhadarah, which comes from the root word hudur meaning presence. So to be aware of that superior quality of divinity relates to the presence of God, to be aware of that. We call that self-remembering, to remember the divine in our consciousness. That's something we have to taste. No one can teach us this. It has to be verified and lived in ourselves and we will make many mistakes, and we will stumble, and we will commit errors, but as the Qur’an teaches, God calls unto whomever He wills as He wills, and will repeatedly bring us back to the present if we keep forgetting to observe ourselves.
That's the challenge, the battle we go through. In the beginning, we see that we are not aware. We're observing, then we get carried away by a memory or a preconception or preoccupation of work or family or whatever. That continually pulls us and distracts us from the present moment.
“The best act of worship is watchfulness of the moment” says al-Wasiti from the book Principles of Sufism. “That is that the servant not look beyond his limit, nor contemplate anything other than his Lord, and not associate with anything other than his present moment.”
The aspect of not associating with anything other than the moment is obvious: not to daydream, not to think about the future, or the past. Neither should one contemplate anything other than his Lord, meaning: to not identify with those negative, subjective qualities. When we see them emerge in our psyche, we don't act on them. We develop restraint. This is the self-blaming soul that is reproaching those lower qualities and is separating from them. This does not refer to a zombie-like, nonchalant, or laconic state where one has no feeling. Instead, it is a very pure and expansive quality.
Remembrance needs to be made continuous, which is known as Dhikr Allah, remembrance of God or invocation of God. Dhikr means remembrance in Arabic. The following teaching is given about remembrance by al-Wasiti. He was asked about the practice of remembrance and said:
"It is leaving the enclosed court of unconsciousness for the vast space of contemplation, through the power of fearing Him and the intensity of loving Him."
So contemplation is a very technical term referring to cognizance, understanding, experience, witnessing. If you are familiar with Islam they pronounce the famous Shahada which is, "I give testimony that there's no God but God and Muhammad is his prophet." Contemplation is mushahadah, to witness, to know. We could say a real Muslim is someone who has that experience, who knows God from meditation and from insight. Also, we gain that understanding through fearing him and in loving him. To fear does not refer to the lower qualities of the ego. It is a type of reverence. The word fear could be synonymous with reverence, respect for the teachings given by the divine so that we follow them and really fear the consequences of behaving in a bad way.
Also, we have the following verse from the Quran about the nature of remembrance. This is from the Thunder, sura 13, verse 27:
"Truly God leads astray whomsoever He wills, and guides to Himself whomsoever turns in repentance, those who believe and whose hearts are at peace in the remembrance of God, are not hearts at peace in the remembrance of God," meaning to have that presence within oneself and to not stray from that.
The Allegory of the Cave
That's something we develop progressively, through a process, which is illustrated by this famous art work about Plato's allegory of the cave. Plato in The Republic, who is, by the way, a Gnostic initiate, Gnostic master, taught the nature of four ways of consciousness, four states of consciousness in this famous philosophical Allegory of the Cave. In this image we see a group of enchained people with their necks, hands, and legs caged or chained against the wall, and they're left in darkness. They see across from them the shadows projected from a fire that's beyond the wall from which they are situated with their backs turned. There are people crossing back and forth before the fire carrying different objects, plates, pottery, different dishes, et cetera, which would project through the fire in the cave to those objects, and project shadows against the wall.
In this myth, we find that someone or a few people very rarely are freed from their chains and are taken to face the fire behind the wall. Of course, this is a gradual explanation about that which some philosophers denominate the nature of finding the truth. But here we're going to explain how that relates to states of consciousness specifically in relation to the Greek mysteries.
Someone is freed, and, of course, when they face the fire they're blinded. They cannot withstand the intensity of the light because they've been in shadow for so long. Afterward, they adjust; they begin to see precisely where the source of those shadows came from. Whereas, the people against the wall have no conception. They have only seen shadows, they have many concepts, and theories, and beliefs about what those shadows represent, not knowing what's behind them, what's the source.
Afterward, by the work of a guru, of a teacher, of a master, or a prophet, this prisoner is taken outside of the cave is dragged, forced out. This is a very terrible experience, but one that is necessary in which one must let go of one's comforts in this cave, and finally is let out into the expanse of the wilderness outside of the mountain. From there, one witnesses the stars for the first time. Of course, the light is very difficult to adjust to according to Socrates, Plato's teacher. Afterward, he sees the sun for the first time, the light and the expanse of the countryside.
This is a symbol of psychological states emerging from sleep, of conditioned mind, to unconditioned mind. We see that the people in the shadows are those who have the lowest state of consciousness. They have no self-awareness. They see shadows or nothing. If they see shadows on the wall, we could say those are different beliefs, concepts, ideologies that people project in their mind, on the screen of their understanding.
We denominate that psychological darkness, that complete lack of understanding, those shadows, Eikasia in Greek. Eikasia refers to barbarianism, war, complete unconsciousness, a state of darkness, a way of being, which we could see is exemplified by the violence that is occurring today. We simply have to look at the news to see Eikasia in action.
But also there is a state known as Pistis, which is when one sees those different shadows on the wall, which are the different beliefs, ideas of humanity. Eikasia means imagination. It's a type of sight, but in the darkness. It is like a nocturnal sight or unconsciousness. One is perceiving, but one isn't aware—this is the terrible irony. People who fulfill acts of violence are not aware of the consequences, or if they are, they don't see it objectively. Therefore, they are perceiving imagination, Eikasia: they see in the dark.
Pistis is belief, from the word pisteuo. It is to have a concept, an idea, something to think about that a person adheres to very diligently. Those people in the cave, when they see the shadows, firmly believe that the shadows are one way, philosophy, political party, religion, belief system, or concept, which are represented according to the projections of their mind and they conflict and they argue with each other.
Question: Is maybe Pistis a reaction to what you perceive?
Instructor: Yes, and all the concepts and beliefs that people have about the mysteries of life and death are just reactions to life, beliefs which don't have any real substance. Beyond that is Dianoia: when someone sees the fire, one has insight. Dianoia refers to revision of belief, to change one's way of thinking. That is awakened consciousness.
Notice that these first two states, Eikasia and Pistis, refer to the darkness and the shadows, ignorance. The higher two states of consciousness, the unconditioned states of consciousness, refer to Dianoia and Nous, as we'll explain. Dianoia again, means imagination, but this is a conscious way of seeing without filter, without obscuration.
Question: Is this maybe perceiving like a purpose?
Instructor: It is perceiving one's self, one's mind, one's heart, one's body, and perceiving the external world without any type of subjectivity, to see it clearly. In this state, we begin to revise our way of thinking, meaning we used to think we are one way but then we see that we are not from the perspective of that active observation.
Question: To see it as it is?
Instructor: Yes, Dia means “to stand side to side, thoroughly, to step aside” from that which is subjective, to step aside from the conditions in the mind. This is a new way of seeing ourselves. This is awareness, self-observation.
When someone escapes from the cave after that long trek and sees the sun for the first time, that is the state of Nous. That is the light of the divine, fully unobstructed, fully manifest: that pure light, which the Gnostics call Christ, that intelligence or consciousness beyond limitation, which is cosmic. That sun is precisely the complete, unconditioned mind, freedom, peace, pure insight or understanding.
One thing to mention in this graphic we see some Latin: Lux venit in mundum et dilexerunt homines magis tenebras quam lucem erant enim eorum mala opera— In synthesis saying, "Because the light came into the world and men love darkness rather than the light for their works were evil."
So those who are in the cave are attached to their beliefs, the cage of the mind, the cave of the ego. And those who obtain freedom become known as prophets, masters, avatars, because they eventually have to come back down in order to teach others, to guide them, and to show them the way, the truth, and the life. But of course, they are persecuted, stoned, poisoned, killed, murdered, et cetera.
Kabbalah and Levels of Consciousness
So we talked about levels of being, levels of consciousness, which is mapped out in this image. This is known as the Tree of Life, the Hebraic Kabbalah. The important thing to remember is that the word kabel in Hebrew means “to receive,” to receive knowledge. While we study this image, this graphic of states of consciousness, levels of being, these in turn, serve us to understand our experiences in meditation or out of the body in dream yoga. This tree of life is represented in the Book of Genesis, which is a book of the Gnostics. This graphic shows us the heights of consciousness, of Nous, noetic thought, which is that sun, that trinity above, Father, Son, Holy Spirit, which in Hebrew known as Kether, Chokmah, Binah.
Likewise, that energy, that consciousness descends into lower levels of matter, energy, and expression. In the middle triangle we have spirit, consciousness, and will, Chesed, Geburah, and Tiphereth in Hebrew. Likewise, we have the lower quaternary, these lower four spheres, mind, emotion, vitality, and physicality, referring to Netzach, Hod, Yesod, Malkuth.
This is an image that we study very deeply, which we talk about very extensively, which we'll cover in synthesis here. But this is a map to help us understand consciousness, where we are, who we are. We talk a lot about mind, heart, and impulse, referring to these four lower spheres, Netzach, Hod, Yesod, our vitality, and Malkuth, our physical body. We are here in the physical body, but we notice that in the present moment, mind, emotion, feeling, instinct—these things are manifest in this body. So this entire Tree of Life is not something foreign, outside of us. It's inside; it's here with us, here and now. We can experience those higher states even in our physical body. But of course, with training we learn to put the body in a physical state of rest, and then we go out in order to ascend those heavenly realms and to receive the knowledge we seek.
This image of the three circles above refers to Ain, Ain Soph, Ain Soph Aur, in Hebrew meaning the nothingness, the limitless, and the limitless light. Again, that limitless light, this outer circle, is the sun that Plato referred to, the Absolute, the good, the pure, which is what we aspire towards.
We learn through beginning in this body how to ascend this tree and to know that light for ourselves. The following is given by Ibn al-Karbalai in his book Rawdat al-jinan:
"When the seeker realizes the station of contemplation," Mushahida or to witnesss, which is witnessing God's essence, the purity of that light, "Comprehending and encompassing all phenomena, does not your Lord suffice since He has witnessed over all things," (sura 41, verse 53), "He continually witnesses lights from the Mundus invisibilis, the invisible world."
So in meditation, when we begin to witness that truth, we begin to see images, dream experiences that are not subjective, but objective, without obscuration in the mind. When we develop ourselves and when we realize that quality in ourselves, we begin to witness this Tree of Life in meditation, whether it's the top trinity or whatever aspect or sphere which God seeks to teach us about, which is us, ourselves, our true nature. In meditation, we can perceive lights, clairvoyant images, qualities of perception that are beyond our physical senses.
“From such a mystic’s perspective, this world and the hereafter are one and the same. This can only be realized by a vision that is all heart and spirit, not a view bound by mere mud and mire.”
So what is that view of heart and spirit? It is Dianoia and Nous. Dianoia, meaning revision of beliefs, spiritual, and intellectual culture, synthetic understanding, revision of concepts, self-analysis, self-awareness, self-observation, self-understanding. Nous is purely illuminated intellect, superior mind, God-consciousness, in which we are one with the Lord in us, and one perceives through that light. But of course, that view of mud and mire pertains to Eikasia and Pistis, belief and ignorance. Again, this image is referring to the heavens, what we aspire to.
The following quote, I think I mentioned previously, but I re-emphasize because it's very poignant in terms of this understanding of self-knowledge:
"Wherever the delusion of yourself it appears, there's hell. Wherever you aren't, that's heaven."
So who is this “you” we're referring to? It means ego. When there's no conditioned mind, when there's no subjective sense of self, when there is no fear, no pride, no gluttony, no lust, when there is only pure unconditioned soul, one can experience that heaven. It is a state of mind. This map also refers to places that we can visit in the dream state. These are dimensions, levels of being, but more importantly, it refers to who we are moment by moment—qualities of consciousness. So we have to get out of the way, meaning we, as an ego, need to be eliminated so that pure light can be extracted and brought back to the source. Which brings us to the next point about how we do so.
Awareness, Disclosure, and Contemplation
In this image, we have adhan, which is a call to prayer. The Muslims they pray five times a day, which is a very beautiful teaching about the need to develop discipline in one's practices. Likewise, as they pray five times a day, in Gnosis we pray moment by moment. We do not limit ourselves to just particular moments of the day, although we do many exercises and practices and disciplines that we engage with. But prayer and awareness is a moment by moment without respect to time, to be aware of the present.
So how do we become aware? What do we need to do? The following is given by al-Jurayri, he's a Sufi master. Again, he synthesized in this very brief statement how we learn to develop and gain self-knowledge of the divine.
Again, this is from al-Qushayri’s Principles of Sufism. He said that “whoever does not establish awe of duty in vigilance and his relationship to God will not arrive at disclosure of the unseen or contemplation, (mushahadah) of the divine.”
What is this awe of duty? Reverence, respect, to feel the duty to engage with meditation and practices that are going to benefit our soul. Self-observation, self-remembering, and mantras, many exercises we teach in this tradition, that we engage with in order to develop disclosure of the unseen, which sometimes is referred to as unveiling. Because as we learn to work with positive forces, with mantras, sacred sounds, we invoke divine forces into our psyche, in order to help us control the lower self. These energies, in turn, help us to awaken perception. And so meditation, different exercises of yoga we engage with, these, in turn, help us to expand our consciousness and feed it with the forces that are going to benefit us. That is awe of duty, to have that reverence and respect for the practices and to engage in them repeatedly, daily so that we can tear the veil that covers the mystery. That is the unveiling we seek and the witnessing of the divine, in which we see beyond the veil of our subjective self in order to experience the truth.
We need energy to do so. Consciousness is empowered by forces, which we need to identify and understand. So we are teaching in relation to the Kabbalah those ten spheres or ten modalities of consciousness; those are also forms of energy and matter, from the most subtle, from the top to the most basic and material below. These forces help us when we learn to control them, to aid our spiritual life.
We included in this image Perseus having slain the Medusa. This is another myth from Greece, very beautiful, that teaches how the hero, the soul has to fight against the devil. How the master, the spiritual initiate or disciple learns to overcome the ego, decapitates it, conquers it, destroys it. Precisely, Medusa's power is in its hypnotism and its conveying men into stone whenever the gaze or their eyes would lock and their gaze would meet. This is a symbol of how Medusa, the ego, the negative self, turns men into habitual creatures, into fragments of stone, symbolizing habits, which become ingrained with experience and time.
There are many people who have habits following that horizontal path of life we were discussing, and they never change them, and we all have certain qualities and habits that we engage with that make us into figures of stone, something that's immovable and frozen, trapped within the confines of the cave, the darkness of the mind, in Plato’s Republic. Whereas the qualities of consciousness we seek to develop are free, liberated, unconditioned.
So, how does Perseus kill Medusa? In this myth, it is very beautifully taught. He uses the reflection on the shield to perceive Medusa next to him, and with his sword, cuts off its head. That reflection refers to conscious perception, to perceive with conscious imagination. To see the ego without identifying with it. To see the quality of mind that needs to be changed and observing it, and working on it, and finally decapitating it, but not looking directly at the ego, not looking directly at the defect itself and identifying with it, because to feel oneself in that quality is to become that quality. We become what we think, as Buddha taught, “mind precedes phenomena.” We must learn to not identify with those qualities. To observe them, to see them objectively and with the sword of insight, of wisdom—represented by Manjushri's image of a Buddha wielding a sword and cutting through illusion with fire—likewise we learn to conquer Medusa, which is the nafs, the lower soul.
We included also an important quote from Samael Aun Weor in the modern Gnostic tradition, "Wherever we direct attention, we expend creative energy." So when we identify with an ego, we give energy to it, but if we don't identify with it, we feed and empower our consciousness. We must learn how to redirect attention, how to direct our mind, how to observe ourselves, how to act, how to think, how to feel. because every action produces a consequence. Every internal state produces an effect, and we must learn to understand the cause and effect relationship. This path of Self-realization, the realization of the Divine Truth within us, is precisely found by eliminating the undesirable elements of the mind. So, we need to learn, how do we spend our energy? How do we use our intellectual energy? How do we use our emotional energy? How do we use our physical, vital, and sexual energy? We will explain in relation to Tibetan Buddhist teachings on Tantra.
Energy in the Kabbalah
Again, this image of the Kabbalah we're now discussing is in relation to forms of energy. So, to elaborate on these spheres, we have physical energy below in the first sphere cutting up to the top of the middle or the middle triangle. Likewise, we have the second sphere, which is vital energy, followed by emotional or psychic force, followed by mental energy on the right, the fourth sphere, mind and intellect. Likewise, we have volitional or energy-related to willpower, which is this fifth sphere. Likewise, we have conscious energy, which is what we deeply seek to access through meditation and through self-observation relating to the sixth sphere. Then we have the seventh sphere, which is spiritual energy, which is the Divine. The spirit is God. “The soul is acquired, but the spirit is,” we say.
Above that are higher forms of energy known as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, known as the First, Second, and Third Logos, Christ in synthesis. Not just Jesus of Nazareth but the energy he embodied. So, we must learn how to use these energies and to recognize their usefulness in place, to remember that these forces cannot be manipulated or used without consciousness, without the soul being in dominance of them, which is why Samael Aun Weor wrote the following in The Great Rebellion:
“No matter how much we might increase our strictly mechanical energy, we will never awaken consciousness. No matter how much we might increase the vital forces within our own organism, we will never awaken consciousness. Many psychological (or you could say emotional) processes take place within us without any intervention from the consciousness. However great the disciplines of the mind might be, mental energy can never achieve the awakening of the diverse functions of the consciousness. Even if our willpower is multiplied infinitely, it can never bring about the awakening of the consciousness. All these types of energy are graded into different levels and dimensions, which have nothing to do with the consciousness. Consciousness can only be awakened through conscious work and upright efforts.”
So, as I said, we need to conserve our intellectual, emotional, and physical energy. We need these forces to exist. Someone who has no vital energy is either asleep or is dying, is sick. When the vitality leaves the body, that vital force or vital body, we could say, the vehicle of energy, when it leaves the body, the physical body dies. It decays. We need these forces in harmony, but the consciousness must use them. So, even if we multiply these forces, we perhaps get a lot of exercise physically, we do a lot of energetic exercises such as yoga and mantras, meditation. We may engage with prayer of the heart. We may study a lot. These things in themselves are good, but they must be done consciously. The soul must be in command of them.
Question: So, for example, how you stated you could be living out or carrying out a doctrine as in like the rules of the church or rituals and such but not believing or knowing anything about that religion, so, it'd be like basically doing that, just working and doing consciousness, but not doing it consciously, or like doing religious practices to build upon your spirituality?
Instructor: When one practices, one needs to practice as if one's brushing one's teeth. We do it for our benefit. Not necessarily because we want to spend the time or enjoy it, but we do it because it's necessary to our hygiene. Likewise, our spiritual hygiene is dependent upon practice. So, we learn gradually through experience how these exercises work, what energy it focuses on, and how we can use that energy consciously. So, that's a skill we acquire through practice, and speaking of which, we always end these series of lectures with an exercise we can engage with.
In this practice, we continue to observe and develop our self-analysis, self-awareness from moment to moment, and at the end of each day recollect on how conscious we were of our three brains, mind, emotion, and physicality.
Another exercise you can engage with is another sacred mantra, sacred sound, which works with those forces, vibrations of energy. So every day, you can sit in a comfortable posture, whether upright in a chair or if you are flexible and you enjoy the oriental style, you could sit in full lotus, half lotus, but this is not absolutely necessary. What's necessary is that we're fully relaxed.
You can sit in a chair, whatever's more suitable and conducive to relaxing the body and not having any tension. Relax your mind, heart, and body and afterward you can visualize within your brain a beautiful white light, followed by pronouncing a sacred mantra called INRI, which is in Latin inscribed above the Martyr of Calvary, Jesus of Nazareth. It said, 'Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum,' but it's a secret mantra. INRI can also refer to 'Ignis Natura Renovatur Integra,' which in Latin means “fire renews nature incessantly.” So that light and fire of the sun mentioned in the myth of Plato, in the Allegory of the Cave, is a symbol of Christ, an energy and a force that we can incarnate, that we seek to incarnate, that will aid us in purifying our psyche. This mantra works with that force and it attracts energies to the brain to illuminate the mind.
So, we can pronounce this mantra. You sound it in two syllables. Like this 'iiiiinnnn' followed by another breath and then a rolled R as in Spanish, ‘rrrrrriiiiiií.’ If you notice, if you pronounce that and notice the vibration, it will vibrate in the center of the brain. It will stimulate the pineal and pituitary glands, especially the physical brain, the cerebrum and fill it with a Christic force, energy that can develop that insight we seek.
I know for some people that letter could be hard. The R especially if you're not familiar with Spanish or don't speak Spanish, but it's rolled on the tip of the tongue, and I'm sure if you go online and Google it, search it on YouTube, you can find some examples of how to practice that, but when you do these mantras, concentrate on the vibration in the body, in the mind, and visualize with eyes closed a light that fills the cerebrum and the cerebellum, the different centers of our brain, of our mind, with light. You can do that for 30 minutes or 60 minutes, whatever is convenient for you, and that energy will help you to develop the awareness of that unconditioned consciousness.
Questions and Answers
Question: I have a question, and this has been actually bothering me for at least the past week or so since, I don't know if you're aware of, the Alton Sterling shootings, like the police brutality cases and such, and something that I’ve become aware of recently is you know, of course, everyone has their own subjective realities and within our subjective realities are the battle of our soul. We, at least, are given hope that we have the ability to overcome that but obviously we are told through scripture that not everybody will. Is it inherent that these people, the people who don't win that internal battle of the soul, are they inherently, I guess, defective? Is it that they are supposed to not win or is that they truly, deep within themselves, that the unconditioned soul does not have the pure willingness to be reunited? Is it that soul's desire to be separated possibly?
Because I've gotten into lots of conversations with people because I believe that every single thing that we experience, especially in the media, is not moreso to just help us know what's going on in the world, but to help us gain greater understanding within our own worlds by knowing about things that other people experience. So, when I approach people about these subjects, I don't do just so like, "Oh did you know what happened?" It's like, "What do you know about what happened and how do you feel about it? How does this change your reality?"
Instructor: The Qur’an teaches it beautifully. God calls to Himself whom He will and those who have harmed themselves or have gone astray, He punishes them in relation to their own behavior. So, those in whom the longing to change is not existent, God cannot help, but those who feel that longing to change, who feel that spark of conscience that exists within the unconditioned soul, have the potential to change, and there are many who have lost their potential. The Qur’an speaks about this very extensively about the Lord calling unto whom He will and those who go astray, who choose to deviate, He lets them go astray, and to not have that guidance is to really be in affliction.
Question: Do they have satisfaction in dissatisfaction? Are they okay with where they end up even if you know it seems like God is telling them to go a certain way or at least giving them an option to go, but they choose to go a certain way? Are they, in the end, satisfied with that decision, as satisfied as someone who chooses to go?
Instructor: We always say that the soul always has its freedom to choose what it wants, that chooses to deepen the conditioning of the psyche—that's the nature of that soul and that's what it wants—but those who feel that they need something more to change themselves and to transform who they are and to follow that conscience that inspires them and approaches spirituality, that is the calling of God to want to change. In relation to that, that book the Qur’an is very insightful about finding the will of the divinity. To many people, they are only interested in deepening the cage, strengthening the cage that produces their suffering, which is why John Milton, author of Paradise Lost said, "The mind is its own place and can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven."
Question: About the suffering of others on the path because, like you said, God calls upon whom He calls. In this process, like you said, once they get out of the cave, they want others just to get out of the cave, too, so they have to go back into the cave in order to do so, but once they do they're killed by the people whom they're trying to save.
Instructor: Well, literally in the case of Buddha and Jesus, that was the case, but in many cases when someone teaches this type of knowledge, they may meet resistance or criticism from others who don't hold those beliefs or don't really seek to develop that, but when I was referring to that, our spirituality is really expanded and founded upon compassion. So, we don't necessarily have to become a teacher, instead we can find ways to help humanity according to our disposition, our ways. So we learn to use our awakened consciousness to aid us in whatever particular aspect of life we've been placed in order to do that consciously.
Question: So, if we have these different outlets. Say, some people like to help others actively, like go out in the community and help homeless people and stuff, but others like to do so with law and politics, if we use all of the energy that we can put into different places, but in a finite amount, but focus all of that energy towards those, are we as fulfilled as trying to do all of these different things, trying to help people in the community at the same time while trying to work in your career outside of the family?
Instructor: As to one what has to do, that's ordained by the Being, and you may find from experience in meditation or in the dream state that you have a particular... in fact, maybe many particular things you need to do; it depends on what you need to focus on.
For me, I received the experience to teach this knowledge many times by the founder of this tradition, Samael Aun Weor. I asked him about it many times in the astral plane, the internal worlds. But also there are other responsibilities to do that we are forced to engage with. Part of that awe of duty I mentioned from al-Jurayri’s statement in the Sufi book is that we take whatever occupation we're engaged with, whatever job we have, whatever family life we have, and we transform it consciously. We take that daily experience and use it for our spiritual benefit. So instead of reacting to life mechanically on that horizontal line, we are still engaged with life in accordance with cause and effect. Wherever we're born, who we're with, whatever responsibilities we have, we fulfill them, but even better: in a very radical way, in a very transformative way. That becomes noticeable when we do so with consciousness that is not conditioned.
Even if people may not really attribute us to being spiritual, they may say, "Oh, he's really the kind person or really benefiting me or really did something of help." We find our vocation or really our divine calling by learning to awaken and we learn to see how we can engage with life with rectitude and love as Samael Aun Weor wrote in The Perfect Matrimony. That answered your question?
Question: Yeah, and lastly when you said that people can make a hell out of heaven... It's not essentially what you do or what makes up that reality, but essentially what you get out of it and where you put it, I would say. So, if you're going to be in any type of reality, if you're going to have a family, and a career, and all these other things like you can, but as long as you do them in this type of way and you work towards this thing, it doesn't matter what makes up that reality.
Instructor: Well spiritual life, spiritual awakening is not only contingent upon our obligations, but our spiritual life is not separate from our daily life. Our daily life is our initiation into a new way of being. We learn to take whatever circumstances we find ourselves in and we learn to do it consciously. That's how we learn and that's how we benefit others. When I refer to reality, I mean I refer to those higher grades of consciousness. So, we learn to take our physical daily life and make it spiritual and not something habitual or painful. Instead, we learn to transform whatever occurrence we find ourselves in in life and make it a benefit to humanity. That's really our goal.
This is a transcription of an audio lecture from The Sufi Path of Self-knowledge, originally given live at the Chicagoland Gnostic Academy:
When we discuss religion, mysticism, occultism, the study of what is hidden from our perception, beneath the surface of the senses, really what we are speaking about is a particular form of experience or realization of what is inside. And we explain in the Gnostic doctrine precisely what the obstacles are within our psychology that prevent us from perceiving what is real, from knowing what divinity is, which we in these studies denominate “the Being.” As the founder of our tradition Samael Aun Weor stated, “The Being is the Being and the reason for the Being to be is to be the Being Himself.” This Being is a form of cognizance, perception, or energy which is beyond the mind, beyond will, beyond the heart and the body. In Buddhism this is the root cognizance of our inner Buddha, and our inner Being is the Buddha, the awakened one, which in Christianity we call Christ. This light or presence, this force known as divinity inside, this Being we seek to discover through spiritual practice, is precisely what we want to know, and what any genuine seeker of religion has come to precisely encounter within him or herself.
Any person who is entering any religion or spiritual teaching seeks to know God directly, not through theory, not through intellect, not through belief, but through direct perception of what is genuinely real. So we differentiate this type of spiritual understanding as being, cognizance, comprehension, whereas we differentiate this from intellectual knowledge, scholasticism, debate, theory, something that is intellectually fascinating or something that is to be argued for or against. We are not interested in that type of dynamic. We seek to know God directly.
Of course, in this teaching, we study many books, many scriptures to help us understand what is this root perception in ourselves, known as the consciousness, that is part of our inner God, our inner Buddha, our inner flame. But of course, we always balance the study with practice. In this teaching, we highly emphasize the need for practice and the need for effective methods to transform our mind and to experience divinity.
In this lecture, we are precisely going to discuss this point: what divinity is, and what is the type of knowledge that we need to know divinity directly. In this first graphic, we have a famous Tibetan Buddhist saint named Milarepa who was quite a remarkable figure because he actually was a criminal. He was someone who committed many crimes and had in fact incurred many debts as a result of his criminal behavior. But he realized precisely his position, his culpability, and took responsibility for his actions, and he actually became one of the greatest Tibetan Buddhist saints, which Mahayana Buddhism venerates and which we proudly study.
Milarepa gave a very beautiful teaching about this demarcation between knowledge and divinity, the Being:
“Just as fog is dispelled by the strength of the sun, and is dispelled no other way, preconception (or intellectual knowledge) is cleared by the strength of realization. There is no other way of clearing preconceptions. Experience them as baseless dreams. Experience them as ephemeral bubble. Experience them as insubstantial rainbows. Experience them as indivisible space.” –Drinking the Mountain Stream: Songs from Tibet’s Beloved Saint
So if we genuinely want to know what God is inside, to experience what divinity is, we need to abandon a lot of our own preconceptions about who we are as an individual. Of course, this is a very challenging and difficult step to ask oneself and confront oneself, by asking this question: “Who are we really? Who is God inside of myself? What is divinity? How do I experience my own inner divinity inside?” When we ask this question, it comes to my mind a very famous Sufi teaching, which is from the mysticism of Islam: “He who knows himself knows his Lord.” Also, the Greek maxim on the Temple of Delphi taught, “Man, know thyself, and you will know the universe and the gods.” Homo nosce te ipsum, in Latin.
So we have to really confront this question in ourselves: if we do not know God inside, who is our inner divinity, our inner Being, the question is, do we really know ourselves in depth? This is precisely the maxim or ultimatum that any college of initiation or school of mysteries has taught, to ask this question: who are we, and do we know divinity? If we are honest and really examine the abundance of spiritual literature, genuine literature from different religions—whether from Hinduism as the Bhagavad-Gita, Buddhism as different sutras and tantras, teachings of Kabbalah such as the Zohar, the Talmud or the Torah, or the Tarot, the Egyptian mystical teachings; likewise, in the Middle East as the Quran and many different scriptures that have all taught an integral science by which we can unite with divinity—the thing is to ask ourselves what we know, genuinely, because if we do not know who is our inner Being, our divinity inside, as religions have pointed out, it means we do not fully know ourselves. This is the brave step we need to take when seeking genuine spirituality, genuine realization of divinity, to ask ourselves what is it we really know and to find what is valid and what is invalid.
We find here Milarepa. We chose this image because he is listening, actively. He, being a great saint, is demonstrating his humility by the fact that he is learning. He learns from all human beings, all sentient beings, without distinction. Even though he attained great realization, still he had an understanding that upon great heights of spiritual knowledge one has to be humble and to learn from all beings. So we should imitate his example. We should attempt to approach religion from the honest perspective and understanding that we do not know and that we seek to know, and that, as the gospels teach us, “Ask, and it shall be opened unto you. Knock on the door, and it will be opened. Seek and ye shall find.”
We want to understand precisely what prevents us from knowing divinity, whether given the name of Christ, Allah, Buddha, Ahura Mazda amongst the Zoroastrians—many names for divinity. We need to understand precisely what in us is preventing our perception of that divinity.
So we talk a lot about in these studies the difference between concept and reality, the difference between knowledge and being. Reality is the being, is that divine force inside us that we can actualize in this instant, if we learn to pay attention as the psyche. Concepts are our beliefs, our habits, our ideas about what religion teaches or what we experience, more importantly.
In this image, we have Rene Descartes, a French philosopher who is famous for stating, “I think, therefore I am.” And we politely disagree with Descartes by explaining that to think is not to be. The way to understand that difference is to understand that thinking is a type of process in our psyche that we typically identify with as being our identity, but if we learn to observe ourselves in our totality, understanding that our thoughts change, by observing our emotions change, by looking at our body, we find that sensations come and go. These things fluctuate. These are not permanent. So where is the inherent, intrinsic nature of this perception that we have? This is a very famous Buddhist teaching which we study: impermanence of the self. We find that these things are impermanent, therefore where is our genuine identity in this very moment?
So thinking is a process that really is mechanical, you can say. The mind can store information, concepts, have theories about the nature of language, philosophy, the nature of reality, but thought or thinking, concepts, are not the reality itself. It is merely a projection from the mind that tends to label information.
So we experience phenomena, but then we think and label those phenomena. This is the big question we need to ask: what is the reality that we are experiencing in the moment? In these studies, we talk about mindfulness and self-observation, to observe one’s body, one’s mind, one’s heart, to be aware and have the understanding that intrinsically we are not our thoughts. We are not sensations of the body. We are not the emotions. We are a type of quality of consciousness beyond that. And this consciousness can experience a dynamic of emotions and sentiment which is superior, divine, which we seek to access through practice.
Descartes said, “I think, therefore I am.” So what does it mean to be, to say, “I am?” Jesus of Nazareth who is the head of the Gnostic Church, the Christ force through him explained that “I am the way, the truth, and the light.” In Hebrew, in Kabbalah, Ehyeh asher ehyeh, “I Am that I Am,” which is what Moses heard from the burning bush, the Tree of Life, on Mount Sinai. When Jesus said, “I Am,” really divinity in him said, “I Am.” It was not the physical personality of Jesus whom people worship, but instead it is divinity inside that says, “I Am,” the Being, the presence that is eternal. Our thoughts may change, our appetites or habits, our beliefs, our theories, our experience of life may change, but God does not change. And that force is inside and eternal, that we can experience, and that says, “I Am,” Ehyeh, in Hebrew. Descartes says, "I think, therefore I am," and the thing is God does not think. God knows. God is not some anthropomorphic figure in the clouds, but is a force, an intelligence, a divine presence in our heart, in our very core of our consciousness, which we can experience if we learn the method. God does not need to think. He is.
There is the very famous saying of Jesus of Nazareth when he was persecuted by the Pharisees in his time, the people who believe that they know about spirituality but don't. They asked him, "Are you the Christ?" He said, "Before Abraham was, I am." Abraham, if you're not familiar with Judaism, was the founder of that tradition, and the people who were persecuting Jesus of Nazareth were very attached to their tradition and did not want to see what is revolutionary or new. Therefore, he was crucified.
People have concepts about the nature of divinity, about being, but the reality is something we have to experience, since it is beyond thought. Therefore, to think is not to be. To be is to be aware of thought, how it flows and changes and fluctuates, be aware of our emotional states, and the experience of life as sensation, as they fluctuate.
I'd like to quote from you one author, in this tradition, the founder of the modern Gnostic tradition; his name is Samael Aun Weor. He states in his book The Great Rebellion precisely this dynamic between concept and reality.
“Who or what can guarantee that concept and reality are exactly the same thing? Concept is one thing, and reality is another. There is a tendency to overestimate our own concepts. It is almost impossible for reality to equal a concept. Nevertheless, the mind hypnotized by its very own concepts always presumes that concept and reality are the same. Any psychological process that is correctly structured using precise logic is opposed by a different one, strongly developed with similar or superior logic. Then what?" —Samael Aun Weor, The Great Rebellion
If any of you have ever studied philosophy, particularly the teachings of Immanuel Kant, he talked in his doctrine about the nature of knowledge and concept, known as the antinomies of reason, basically that you can have two arguments of equally plausible evidence and dissertation, different thoughts, beliefs that are equally plausible but contradictory, such as, "I believe in God," or, "I don't believe in God." One could provide evidence either way. It can be convincing, depending on the articulation of thought. These are contradictions or paradoxes, because both can be true or false at the same time, depending on your argument.
The point that Immanuel Kant was emphasizing in his contribution to Western philosophy was that the intellect cannot know the truth. Reading cannot show us truth. We can have ideas. We can learn methods. We need to educate our mind. This is necessary, but the actual experience or cognizance of what the divine is comes about as a result of spiritual practice. We can have an idea in our mind about why one religion is better than another, and someone of another religion could have the same belief about their tradition. There's conflict; this is why the world is such a mess, is in the state that it's in, due to people precisely deifying the intellect, people stating that the intellect can know the truth, and that we are the possessors of the truth, and that everyone else in the world doesn't know.
This is really sad, because we teach in Gnosis that all religions are universal, that they teach the same science with different language and different symbols, in accordance with the culture and the time in which Gnosis is disseminated.
Samael Aun Weor emphasizes this point:
"Two severely disciplined minds confined by ironclad intellectual structures argue with one another. They debate and dispute over this or that fact of reality. Each believes its own concept to be exact and the other to be false. Which is right? Who can honestly guarantee either case? Which one shows that concept and reality are the same? Unquestionably, each mind is a world of its own. In each and every one of us lies a kind of pretentious, dictatorial dogmatism that wants to make us believe in the absolute equality of concept and reality." —Samael Aun Weor, The Great Rebellion
We all have this tendency to want to affirm our ideas about work or sports or politics, beliefs, economics. Every aspect of our life, we have certain attitudes that we project, and that we want to affirm to other people. When other people don't affirm that in us, we feel conflict; we feel pain; we feel struggle. But we have to understand that struggle comes from inside, psychologically, and that if we resolve the conflict in our mind, the need to affirm our beliefs, and simply to be receptive to the flow of life in the instant, we learn to understand people better. That in turn creates better harmony in our relationships with others.
The Level of Being
In our relationships to others, we talk about what is known as the level of being. We have a very concrete image we use to teach the nature and the relationship between knowledge and being. We're talking about concepts, ideas, intellectual knowledge, which we store in our intellect, our mind. Likewise, we talk about the being, perception, cognizance, consciousness, understanding of what is real, the perception of our mind, our heart, our body in this instant. We find that two lines intersect in a given point, and that point is this moment.
In Sufism, we talk about the Arabic word waqt, which means the moment. The Sufis talk very extensively about this, and so do the Buddhists. In kabbalah, we find the same teaching, called mindfulness, to be aware of our understanding of divinity here and now, in our presence. That in turn develops and changes our relationships with others.
Our habits and our ideas and our attitudes shape our life. Our mind shapes our life. What we are inside attracts the different and various circumstances of life outside. So, if we change the way we think, the way we feel, and the way we act in relationship to others, obviously the external world will change. The problem is, people want to hold on to their concepts about reality, and they push it onto reality, expecting others will conform to their beliefs. We find this in different countries throughout the world, such as the Middle East where they believe everyone should be Muslim. In America, we have more so-called freedoms, and people are free to agree to disagree, but there are tendencies in us and all human beings to want to affirm our beliefs, and to have others conform to that.
If we change the way we think and we are understanding of the idiosyncrasies of others, to be aware of the mind of others, likewise we change our attitudes about ourselves, to generate compassion towards others. We then attract different circumstances of life.
We talk about the level of being. The quality of our mind determines the quality of our life. Acquiring things, materialism, goods, can satisfy us for a moment, but the genuine happiness of the spirit inside, the divinity inside, comes about by being present, and being aware that we have divinity within us. Therefore, we have no need to fear economic problems, or as Jesus taught, "See the lilies of the field? They toil not, nor spin. See likewise the birds and fowl of the air. They have need for raiment, and yet the Lord sustains them. How much more so you being made into this present image. Shall you not receive the benefit of your Lord?"
That comes about as we learn to reconnect with our divinity. We change our level of being. So, what is the level of being? It is our way of life, our thinking. Samael Aun Weor in his book Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology explains this:
“Nobody can deny the fact that there are different social levels. There are churchgoing people, people in brothels, farmers, businessmen, etc. In a like manner, there are different levels of being. Whatever we are internally, munificent or mean, generous or miserly, violent or peaceful, chaste or lustful, attracts the various circumstances of life." —Samael Aun Weor, Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology
In this image, we have two lines. The horizontal line is the line of life. On the left, we have our birth, our childhood, progressing to the right towards school, education, work, family, career, friends, marriage, old age, sickness, death—progressing towards the end. This is a mechanical process in which we go through life experiencing our economic issues, our daily issues, from birth to death.
This is a path that is not necessarily integral with the vertical line as we find in this image. This vertical line is known as the line of being. This refers to the quality of our perception, the quality of our consciousness. There are superior levels of being and there are inferior levels of being. A person who is a drug addict or a prostitute, someone who dwells in bars or is a criminal, like in the case of Milarepa, has a very low level of being, meaning: these people, in many people's eyes, are usually inferior in society. They have a lot of suffering in their life. Their level of being is inferior, because they are engaged in habits which are destructive.
Above that, we have superior levels of being. This is not to talk about social class specifically, but qualities of our mind, whether we have a generous heart, compassion, understanding, peace, love towards humanity. Likewise, this refers to the virtues of the Being inside, which we develop as a result of working on the obstacles in our mind that prevent us from accessing that light. The Being and life intersect in this moment, and the way that we ascend to a superior level of being is precisely by learning to direct our attention.
What are our thoughts? What are our feelings? What is our mood? To observe that is fundamental, to have a sense of separation, not as a zombie-like state, like the state in which we are dull people, but to really live life intensely, with profound awareness, insight, cognizance—this is the line of being which we discriminate between what in us is real and what is false, because all religions teach us that we don't know the truth. We don't know divinity, and that we have created many obstacles inside, like our anger, and pride, laziness, lust, defects, habits that are destructive, whether to a minor or severe degree.
Obviously in the case of Milarepa, when he was a criminal, it was very severe. He was believed to have been practicing certain arts in esotericism which are very negative. He was known as a witch or a sorcerer, somebody who knows how to use the mind to harm others. He realized his mistake. He realized that he was harming others and himself as a result, and then he renounced his habits, decided that he wanted to follow a path of virtue. Then he started to ascend the vertical path of being.
This indicates for us, really, how all the great saints of religion were people who were just like us, or perhaps even worse, people who committed a lot of wrong, and then as a result, changed. They recognized that they were suffering, and that they made others suffer. It's precisely when we recognize how we make others happy or how we make others suffer in our daily life, in the moment, that makes us reflect inside: what is our level of being and where do we want to ascend? Moment by moment, we learn to ascend to a higher level of being as we develop our cognizance and awareness.
Buddhism teaches this fact very beautifully in the Dhammapada. It's a famous Pali scripture of Sutrayana Buddhism, the foundational level of the religion, which emphasizes my points, and which the Buddha taught 2,500 years ago:
“Preceded by mind are phenomena, led by mind, formed by mind. If with mind polluted one speaks or acts, then pain follows, as a wheel follows the draft ox's foot. Preceded by mind are phenomena, led by mind, formed by mind. If with mind one pure one speaks or acts, then ease follows as an ever-present shadow." —Buddha, Dhammapada
If we perform good action, generating from our mind, we produce happiness in our relations. If we have anger or pride, that affects others, and makes others suffer.
The foundational teaching of Hinduism, and really any religion, is ahimsa, meaning: nonviolence. People think this just pertains to abstention from physical violence, such as Mahatma Gandhi's political movement against the British. That's the basic level, but Gandhi, who knew this teaching very well, was practicing ahimsa inside, psychologically, to not think harmful thoughts, to not feel negative emotions, to not let his mind harm others. This is nonviolence. This is really the definition of kindness, generosity.
This type of insight begins to develop in us genuine understanding about the nature of our problems on a very deep psychological level. This is what is known as comprehension. Comprehension is not the intellectual ascertainment or understanding of a concept. Comprehension is something very profound, in which we understand in a moment of epiphany, really—and all of us have had this experience—where we know that a certain type of action or belief is wrong, and that we shouldn't engage in that habit or belief or idea or emotion. We know that something is really harmful for us, and so we stop, and then our life improves as a result. At a basic level, we could say that a person who is an alcoholic, who really realizes the damage of alcohol, comprehends how it's destructive, will never taste a drop of it again, knowing that that element will disorganize his or her psyche.
The difference between comprehension and knowledge is that even though we intellectually have knowledge about something, it doesn't mean that we will act on it. In the instance of an alcoholic, he may intellectually know that alcohol is harmful, destructive. So is drugs, marijuana, barbiturates, different types of toxins that destroy the mind. We can know intellectually that it's wrong. We've been taught and told it's wrong, but still we might do it. The difference in a person who really comprehends why some behaviors are harmful is that they will never act on that again. When we really know in our heart that something is right or wrong, we will always follow that path, and we will not digress.
Samael Aun Weor states:
“Knowledge and comprehension are different. Knowledge is of the mind. Comprehension is the heart."
Intellectually, we may have a lot of ideas about certain habits: we should stop eating too much junk food, or we should exercise more. We may know it's right, but we don't necessarily act on it. These examples operate on a very superficial level. The type of level that I'm seeking to address is something very psychological, very deep, about the way we perceive life, habits that we are not even aware of psychologically, which influence us. This is known as the subconsciousness or unconsciousness in Freudian psychology.
When we comprehend what internal, unconscious or subsconscious elements obstruct our experience of reality, then we know in our heart what to do. Therefore, we don't act on the whims of our desires or negativities, but instead we comprehend how to work inside of ourselves to integrate with divinity.
So, this is the teachings of religion. Religion comes from the Latin religare, which means to reunite. The Sanskrit yug, for the word yoga, means to reunite. It's the same meaning. So, we seek to comprehend how to unite with divinity, and to overcome false concepts that we may have, to confront that dynamic inside.
Now, when we talk about this type of knowledge, it needs to be explained that we have certain knowledge in our mind, concepts about and beliefs about who we are psychologically, which may not be grounded in the facts. This is not to totally throw away the use of knowledge. As you see here, we have many books, in which we teach many aspects of this science, which are good to read. We emphasize the need for study to know what religion genuinely teaches, how to practice, how to meditate, how to transform one's mind. We need education to know how to do these things, but the type of knowledge we seek to abandon is false knowledge, beliefs that aren't grounded in fact—theories, ideas about who we are as individuals which obstruct us from going deeper inside.
Practical and Impractical Knowledge
Part of the teachings that I'm going to explain throughout the rest of this lecture come from Sufism. Sufism, if you don't know, is the mystical tradition of Islam, which in its esoteric part was a very beautiful tradition which taught this science, before it deviated, before it digressed or degenerated, as with any religion. This is a teaching from a Sufi master by the name of Al-Hujwiri, in his book called Revelation of the Mystery, Kashf al-Mahjub. He explains something very important that I find very useful and perhaps you might too:
"Knowledge is obligatory only insofar as it is requisite for acting rightly."
The type of knowledge we need is the knowledge that's going to help us to change. That's really the most important knowledge, and having a vocational knowledge to help us to live in this society, we need. But as it continues:
"God condemns those who learn useless knowledge," from the Qur’an, surah 2, verse 96. The Prophet Mohammed said, "I take refuge with thee from knowledge that profiteth not." —Al-Hujwiri, Revelation of the Mystery
What is the type of knowledge that could be useful? We can think of many examples, and we only need to think about our own experience to think about what are certain things that we've read or studied that haven't necessarily been applicable to life, such as going to university. We learn many things that are useful and interesting, but do we use all of it? Honestly, in most cases, we won't. As it says in the scripture:
“Much may be done by means of a little knowledge, and knowledge should not be separated from action." —Al-Hujwiri, Revelation of the Mystery
What is the knowledge that we need? The knowledge to know how to act rightly, to know how to act from the presence of our divinity inside, who knows right from wrong, good from evil. It's a type of comprehension in our heart that tells us what to do, like a hunch. We know what is right and wrong in a given instant.
This is the meaning of Jiminy Cricket in the story of Pinocchio. It's an initiatic story. Pinocchio is a wooden boy who wants to become a real man, a human being. Like us, we want to be made into the image of God, a human being that reflects divinity completely. That's a genuine human being. We want to aspire to that. Jiminy Cricket is the voice of his conscience on his shoulder that says, "Don't do that. That's wrong." Of course, in the story (it wasn't depicted in the Disney film, but in the novel by Carlo Collodi), Pinocchio took a hammer and killed the cricket.
That explains in us how, when we have a sense of what is right or wrong, we suppress it. We justify with our intellect. "I should drink more coffee, because I need to stay awake," even though we know it's wrong or could be a bat habit—a simple example. We suppress that hunch and justify with our intellect why we should do something when we know it's wrong. This is the difference between knowledge and comprehension.
In relation to this quote, we need knowledge that's going to teach us how to listen to that voice of Jiminy Cricket. That's why we study the Bhagavad Gita, the scriptures, the Torah, the Zohar, to learn how to act rightly, to learn from masters, genuine spiritual teachers who have fully manifested divinity inside. The Prophet said (and then Hujwiri explains here the nature of individuals who study intellectually without having comprehension):
"'The devotee without divinity is like a donkey turning a mill,' because the donkey goes round and round over its own tracks and never makes any advance." —Al-Hujwiri, Revelation of the Mystery
A donkey is a very interesting symbol. If you didn't know Pinocchio, Pinocchio was turned into a donkey. He was instructed by the blue fairy, symbol of his inner divinity, the feminine aspect of divinity as the Virgin Mary, the divine goddess Durga in Hinduism, who tells him, "You need to go to school," meaning: go to esoteric school to learn how to change, learn useful knowledge to transform your mind, how to become a real human being.
But Pinocchio is confronted by his friends. His friends come. "We should go to the land of play," meaning: we don't have to study and work, but we just play all day. Of course the blue fairy had warned Pinocchio before, "Those who play all day and never work end up turning into donkeys." A donkey is really a symbol of an intellectual, someone who has a lot of ideas in the mind but is still an animal inside, with a lot of anger, pride, vanity, lust, laziness, greed, defects. The truth is, all religions teach that we are really like that donkey that needs to be tamed and rode upon, like Jesus rode the donkey into Jerusalem. Meaning Christ inside us, our inner divinity, needs to ride our mind. The donkey is the mind. It's a stubborn animal, which can memorize information but doesn't necessarily know the truth.
A Sufi Master once specifically stated that, "An intellectual is like a donkey with a load of holy books." The donkey has a lot of knowledge of scripture, but doesn't have the actual experience of what scripture teaches. We're not saying that this type of knowledge is useless, but it has to be in balance with our practice. We need to study the scriptures, but we need to comprehend them, more importantly.
Balancing Knowledge and Being
This combination of genuine comprehension of traditions or religion with our study produces comprehension. We talk about the line of life, our horizontal line of life and the vertical line of being. We need to combine our intellectual study with the science of meditation to really comprehend scripture, how it applies to our life, otherwise it's useless. We can know the scriptures and the gospels by heart, the Qur’an by heart, the Bhagavad-Gita by heart, but if we continue to act in harmful ways, or having anger inside even at a subtle level, it means that this knowledge is not practical. We have to use what's practical in our life to change so that we can know divinity.
As Samael Aun Weor states in The Great Rebellion:
"Being and knowing must be balanced to establish a sudden blaze of comprehension within our psyche. When knowing is greater than being, it causes all kinds of intellectual confusion. If being is greater than knowing, it can produce cases as serious as that of a stupid saint."
If we have a lot of intellectual knowledge but no comprehension, no genuine realization of what the teachings present in religion, we can get confused. This is what happens all over the world with people. They study religion for a long time, have a lot of conviction and belief in the tradition, but then they see contradictions in it, and then feel dissatisfied. Then they get confused about their tradition, about their culture, and they decide to leave to another religion. They hop like a butterfly to another tradition, another flower, and repeat the same habit, trying to find genuine insight. but without understanding that the problem is not in the religion; it's in our mind, how we approach the religion, because the different traditions teach us how to unite with divinity. So, knowing without being can create confusion intellectually.
Also, to have a lot of practice and spiritual discipline but without study of what the different religions teach us can create a case as serious as a stupid saint. We find many practitioners of yoga, and I specifically am not necessarily referring to the yoga studios in the West, but yogis who practice in the Far East, who are very dirty, despite having the choice to live a life of some comfort; they decide to live sleeping on a bed of nails, things which don't necessarily produce a lot of comprehension—just domination over the body, thinking that this is going to take them to God. They may have certain practices or certain understandings about religion, but they don't study the tradition which they are in. They don't study other religions. They don't have a profound culture or comprehension of the different faiths and how they relate.
What comes to my mind in the case of the stupid saint is a very famous Russian existentialist author. His name was Fyodor Dostoevsky. He wrote a book called The Idiot specifically, which is the case of a stupid saint. Although being famous in Western literature, Dostoevsky is not recognized as an esotericist; people don't know that he knew this science and was warning certain practitioners or initiates, people with development, to not be like the case of this prince in the story, Prince Myshkin, who is very saintly and very holy. People in the novel are genuinely attracted to his virtues, but Myshkin doesn't understand the 19th-century Russian culture which he lives in, and he's easily manipulated. He knows he's manipulated, but he allows it. So, if he had a little bit of intellectual study and knowledge about the way cultures work and society works, he wouldn't allow himself to be pulled in that direction, but he is really the fool. If you know about Egyptian mysticism, the Tarot of the Egyptians, the Arcanum 21–the card of the Fool—is precisely the case of the stupid saint. We need to balance knowledge with being to avoid this fate.
To continue on this point, we find again the continuation of the scripture by Al-Hujwiri, Revelation of the Mystery, specifying that the knowledge we study has to be practical, has to apply to our life, otherwise it won't have depth.
“Some regard knowledge as superior to action, while others put action first, but both parties are wrong.” —Al-Hujwiri, Revelation of the Mystery
Again, what Samael Aun Weor stated was stated by the Sufis nine centuries ago.
“Unless action is combined with knowledge, it is not deserving of recompense. Prayer, for instance, is not really prayer unless performed with knowledge of the principles of purification and those which concern the Qibla.” —Al-Hujwiri, Revelation of the Mystery
The Qibla in Muslim tradition is the direction of a niche in the wall, or the direction pointing to Mecca, where the Muslims would pray.
For those who are not Muslim, really this pertains to how in us in the West, we have to know what direction we are concentrating on in our practice, to know what is the object of our meditation or discipline, and to not waver. The symbol of the Muslims praying to the stone of the Kaaba has many kabbalistic symbols, which we're not going to go into detail, but the fact that they pray to the east towards the rising of the sun really leads to the worship of the divinity, known as Allah, which is Christ, the solar Logos in Greek, the Son. The Qibla points to the holy city of Mecca, which is where they dedicate their prayers. Likewise, we have our own Qibla. When we sit to practice, we have an object of concentration to help us develop a focused mind.
“It is not really prayer unless performed with knowledge of the principles of purification, and those which concern the Qibla, and with knowledge of the nature of intention.” —Al-Hujwiri, Revelation of the Mystery
Basically, what I said about concentration: we have to know what we're intending. Every practice that we have in this tradition, whether certain forms of yoga or mantra recitation, has a specific purpose, so we have to know what intention we are working with within a certain exercise.
“Learning committed to memory are acts for which a man is rewarded in the next world. If he gained knowledge without action and acquisition on his part, he will get no reward.” —Al-Hujwiri, Revelation of the Mystery
We may read a lot, but if we're not aware of the real depth of what we're reading and its application to our life, such knowledge is easily forgotten and is therefore useless.
“Hence, two classes of men fall into error. Firstly, those who claim knowledge for the sake of public reputation but are unable to practice it…” —Al-Hujwiri, Revelation of the Mystery
…such as the Pharisees in Jesus's time, who really knew a lot about Judaism but didn't practice. Therefore, when they saw Jesus as an example of the highest divinity, when he fully manifested that in himself, he produced a lot of hatred and envy among his enemies.
“Secondly, those who pretend that practice suffices and that knowledge is unnecessary.” —Al-Hujwiri, Revelation of the Mystery
So in addition to people who believe that we have to study a lot, read a lot, and don't need to practice, there are those who think that in religion one has to do a lot of practices, but not study. These are both wrong beings.
For instance, what comes to my mind is the 14th Dalai Lama. We respect him as a great master in this tradition. He's a very powerful being, really, a great master, a Bodhisattva, who really exemplifies the beauty of Tibetan Buddhism. He not only has a very profound scholarly knowledge, but his level of being is very high, as evidenced by the way he interacts with others. Generally people see him as a very funny man, and he really connects with them from his Being, from his inner Buddha. He emphasizes that one needs to study and practice. Traditional schools or colleges of initiation which used to admit people in the past would have students practice six hours a day and then study six hours a day, and so dedicate their entire time in the monastery or mosque or ashram to fully develop intellectual knowledge and comprehension of that knowledge is unison.
This image is Buddhist. This is a famous deity known as Manjushri, who in Buddhism represents the balance of knowledge and being. In his right hand, he carries a sword, his left hand, a book.
The sword traditionally represents being surrounded by fire, the penetrative insight of the consciousness and of our Being that cuts and severs all ties to illusion, the direct perception of what is real inside. The book represents scriptural knowledge, or the more accurate Buddhist terms we use are wisdom and method. Wisdom, if you break down the word etymologically, comes from the word vision, vis-dom, the power to see. This is not physical sight. It's spiritual sight, which is very deep. The sword is surrounded by flames, represents how the fire or energies of divinity, which is known as Christ in Gnosticism, strengthens our awareness to cut through illusion inside. The book is our need to practice the methods, the teaching, to study the scriptures. Knowledge and being together is synthesized in Manjushri, a great deity venerated by the Buddhists.
Divine and Human Knowledge
Likewise, we have to emphasize that knowledge is necessary, but not for the sake of memory. Also, when we talk about knowledge, there are really two forms. I'm going to explain this in relation to the Sufi scripture we've been commenting on, Revelation of the Mystery:
“Knowledge is of two kinds, divine and human. The latter is worthless in comparison with the former, because God's knowledge is an attribute of himself subsisting in him, whose attributes are infinite, whereas our knowledge is an attribute of ourselves subsisting in us, whose attributes are finite.” —Al-Hujwiri, Revelation of the Mystery
This is very profound, because in Sufism, or really the mystical traditions of Islam, they say that when we know God directly, one acquires those attributes inside. Allah or the being, our inner divinity, manifests in our psyche in order for us to know him directly, and that knowledge of him is a quality of being. It's self-knowledge, genuine spiritual knowledge. In Hinduism, we call it Atma Vidya, Knowledge of Atman, the Divine Self.
People when they hear this think, "Self-realization? That means the common self that I have." It doesn't mean that. To experience the superior self of divinity, we have to really transcend all the type of knowledge we have of ourselves on an intellectual level, because the knowledge of ourselves that we have, of our job, our culture, our language, our customs, our habits, our beliefs, our family, these things are terrestrial. They are finite. They have a limit, a beginning and an end on the line of life. Our language is acquired at birth or in childhood, and we lose our language, and our customs, and our culture when we enter the grave. Those of you who are familiar with reincarnation, or the doctrine of the transmigration of souls into different bodies, can experience this; we teach it as science. We have methods to be aware of our past lives, to study where we come from.
For me personally, this is not something I believe. It's something I know, because I remember. I've had experiences about my own past lives by doing certain practices in this tradition that helped me to have insight, to explain why I'm in the certain situation that I'm in. With reincarnation, or better said, reincorporation, one understands that perhaps one was not in America but in the Middle East as a Sufi, or in Asia as a Buddhist. I've personally had the experience where in certain past lives, I was Muslim, but I'm totally not from that tradition now. I learned Arabic, and I knew that tradition and culture within a very ancient time, but where has it gone? I memorized, and I studied, and I learned this, but it didn't keep with me, because it wasn't part of my being. I didn't really awaken my consciousness at that point. Being aware of it now makes me think that the things that we study in this life, if they're not comprehended and experienced, we forget them when we go to the grave. That's all part of the line of life. Real, genuine spiritual knowledge is the line of being, Atma Vidya, self-knowledge, knowledge of Christ, of Allah, of Buddha, inside.
“Knowledge has been defined as comprehension and investigation of the object known. But the best definition of it is this. A quality whereby the ignorant are made wise.” —Al-Hujwiri, Revelation of the Mystery
This is talking about the genuine meaning of spiritual knowledge. It isn't intellectual, but spiritual, from insight. It's a quality whereby the ignorant are made wise. To be ignorant doesn't mean to not have book knowledge. We think of people in the country, people who are not part of the city or universities, as being ignorant. They don't study or read books. They're not cultured. That's not the meaning of ignorance. To be ignorant is to lack gnosis. Ignorance, i-gnosis. The prefix “I,” before ignorance, negates gnosis, signifying “without.” Gnosis means knowledge from experience, therefore ignorance means to have no understanding of who God is, because God is the true identity.
So all of us are ignorant to a degree. We all have ignorance and darkness in our mind since we haven't really experienced divinity, what God is, so we are ignorant. We are ignorant because we have the ego, the “I,” inside, the mind, the intellect divorced from the Being. We may be cultured and intellectual, but we may still be ignorant due to lack understanding of the genuine nature of reality. We lack genuine understanding of reality because of the “me,” “myself,” the “I,” the false self, egotistical states of suffering, which prevents us from knowing divinity. We have the “I” inside that negates true knowledge, I-gnorance.
“God's knowledge is that by which he knows all things existent and nonexistent. He does not share it with man. It is not capable of division nor separable from Himself.” —Al-Hujwiri, Revelation of the Mystery
Therefore, if we want to know what genuine spiritual knowledge is, we have to unite with our divinity; that is the meaning here, because real knowledge is not in books, but it's in our experience of divinity. That's a part of Him and Her, masculine and feminine.
“The proof of it lies in the disposition of His actions, since action demands knowledge in the agent as an indispensable condition.” —Al-Hujwiri, Revelation of the Mystery
This is very interesting if we know the Christian scriptures, especially since the book of James says, "Faith without works is dead." We may believe in a tradition or faith, but if we don't have practice or action, it's a dead faith. It's a dead religion. Therefore, action demands knowledge as the agent, is indispensable. Action and knowledge, being and knowledge, have to be combined.
“The divine knowledge penetrates what is hidden and comprehends what is manifest. It behooves the seeker to contemplate God in every act, knowing that God sees him and all that he does.” —Al-Hujwiri, Revelation of the Mystery
Self-observation and Awakened Consciousness
In this teaching, we talk about observation, exercising spiritual perception, like a muscle. We show this image again to emphasize that it is precisely in this moment in which we learn to observe ourselves, to have the perspective like we are seeing ourselves for the first time. In this teaching, we talk about a saying by the founder of this tradition who says, "The truth is the unknown from moment to moment." There's always something that we need to be seeing new inside of ourselves and also outside, through alert novelty, clarity, where we sense and understand life in a new way.
We've all had this when we were younger, in a moment perhaps with family, where we were present in the instant, and we felt the joy of being alive. In a moment like that, there is clarity, and we see life as if it is completely new. We didn't have our education or our ideas to project and to create problems and worry us. Instead, we were living life in the present. Children have access to that more than adults, because they haven't developed what is known as personality yet, their custom, or habits. Also, this is why Jesus taught that one must become like a little child to enter the kingdom of heaven, to have an innocent mind, a mind that sees life in a new way in each instant.
Usually we go through our home or our job mechanically. We don't really think about what we do. We just do it. It means that we're not really cognizant of what we're doing.
It's precisely from moment to moment that in this instant we learn to perceive life. We say that awakened perception of life is like watching a film. We try to see life in a new way, each instant, without identifying ourselves with exterior circumstances or negative internal states. When thoughts emerge, really we have to learn how to separate psychologically from thought, from feeling, from sensation. We call this self-observation, meaning: we are observing from the perspective of the consciousness. This consciousness is called soul in some religions. It's called buddhata in Buddhism, essence of the Buddha. This is really our genuine spiritual nature, which can resolve all of our issues when we develop it.
Likewise, this superior state of being is not something necessarily devoid of thought, feeling, or sensation, but it means that we comprehend what we are experiencing in this moment—not identifying with it but instead identifying with God, the joy of God, who is Being, who is presence, who is genuine faith, love, and compassion that is limitless. These are qualities of divinity that we learn to develop as we separate from what is negative in us and learn how to comprehend how part of our soul is conditioned by these elements, such as anger, or pride, or vanity as we were discussing.
We learn to observe this all in ourselves, to have the perspective that we are seeing ourselves as if we'd never seen ourselves before. Again, this refers to the beginning of our lecture, the need to see life in a new way, to understand that the type of knowledge we seek is inside, and that we need to learn how to reevaluate what is it we know. This watchfulness is known in different traditions by many names. In Buddhism, it's called mindfulness. In this tradition, it's called self-observation. In Sufism, it's called muraqaba, vigilance, to be in vigil.
If we learn to start observing ourselves, we find that we get distracted. We suddenly realize, "Wait, what happened a minute ago?" If we examine our day, we find that there are moments or periods in which we don't remember what happened. We should really remember everything we do, even the thoughts or our feelings or emotions we have in a given instant. When we find that there are gaps in our memory about what happened or what we said to a certain person, it means that we're not cognizant. It means that there are gaps in our memory. To be in vigil, in different traditions, they sometimes do practices all night. They don't sleep physically. I'm not speaking about that specifically. To be in vigil is to be awake as a psyche, because in the myth of Psyche in Greek teachings, mythology, Psyche is asleep. She needs to be awakened by Eros, the force of love, the Being.
To remember divinity in this instant is to be in vigil. It's also to be in prayer. To pray is to speak with divinity inside, to connect with divinity, with whatever words are natural to us. A teaching from a Sufi scripture, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism, states the following. This quote is from a Sufi master by the name of Al-Wasiti:
“The best act of worship is watchfulness of the moments, that is, that the servant not look beyond his limit, not contemplate anything other than his lord, and not associate with anything other than this present moment…”
…meaning, we have to stop thinking about where we're going to go, or our daydreams, or job. If we're driving our car, let's drive our car. Let's not think about our family or spouse or other things, but be present when we're driving, because really the reason why there's so many accidents is because people are asleep psychologically. They don't pay attention. They're not aware of what's going on inside or outside. We do this all the time. We're not aware of ourselves. The best prayer to divinity is to be aware and awake, and to not contemplate anything other than the presence of our divinity. That's something we learn to develop and cultivate through spiritual practices that we have in this tradition, that help us generate energy to strengthen our soul.
In this image, speaking precisely about the need to become a child, we have an image of the Virgin Mary holding the Christ child. We need the mind of a child. It doesn't mean that we're stupid, weak, or vulnerable. It means that we have the qualities that are naturally spontaneous and generative in a child, which is love and fascination, and a profound awareness of things. You see a child, they look at everything with amazement, and we've lost that, but that's something that we can regain inside as a spiritual quality. It doesn't mean we become like infants physically, but really the meaning is psychological. We have a profound love for life in this instant.
We emphasize the following from our teacher in this tradition, Samael Aun Weor, in his book Tarot and Kabbalah, about the need to become like a child:
"One has to change the processing of reasoning for the quality of discernment. Discernment is the direct perception of the truth without the process of reasoning. Discernment is comprehension without the need of reasoning. We must change the process of reasoning for the beauty of comprehension. The mind must be completely transformed into an infant. It must be converted into a child full of beauty."
What is discernment? It means to know something without having to think about it. We have a hunch, we know something is right or wrong, and then the intellect debates. "I should do this because," and then we have many excuses and reasons in the mind, but first that hunch comes like a lightning bolt, sparks in our heart, and then the thunder of the mind comes after and says, "We should do this instead... I have this reason. I need to do this or that."
We need to learn how to discern what is objective in us. What is that lightning that we experience, and what is reasoning? By this we're not referring to the need to get rid of the intellect altogether. We need the intellect, but we have to understand its place. It's useful in its place when it serves our Being. Knowledge that's in the service of our inner God is useful, but knowledge, a mind that knows how to reason without the virtues of divinity, is harmful, like a scientist who can create atomic bombs and more creative ways to kill other human beings. People use their reasoning for evil things. We see this all over the world. Instead, we want to learn how to use our mind to develop the virtues of divinity.
The Tree of Life
Synthesizing everything we've stated, we have the following teaching by another Sufi master. People talk about heaven and hell in religion in different traditions. The type of self-knowledge we're talking about requires the abandonment of our previous conceptions of self and to enter into a new experience of who we are as a divinity, and who is divinity inside of us.
In this image, we have what is known as Kabbalah, the tree of life. This is simply a map of being. It's a structure that shows us the nature of divinity and its different aspects. It's not our intention to explain each aspect, but just to emphasize this tree of life is precisely the burning bush that Moses saw as a symbol of divinity, the tree of being. This tree of life is inside. It's a map of our consciousness, and really represents for us heaven, superior ways of being, superior states.
Hell for us is not a place, but a mental state. When we are gripped by anger, we suffer, we are in hell. When we are afraid, we're uncertain about our life, where we're going, what we're going to do economically to pay our rent, we suffer. That's hell. John Milton, the author of Paradise Lost, he stated the following: "The mind is its own place. It can create a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven."
Likewise our mind determines our life. We have this quote from a Sufi master who very beautifully and succinctly states:
“Wherever the delusion of your selfhood appears, there is hell. Wherever you aren't, that's heaven." –Abū Sa’īd in Ibn Munawwar: Asrār at-tawḥīd, ed. Shafī‘ī-Kadkanī, 299
It doesn't mean that it's a type of nihilism, but it's a negation of our inferior ways of being and their replacement for a superior way of being. To experience joy, we have to get rid of anger. We have to comprehend our psychological elements that make us suffer and to remove them in order to free the consciousness that is trapped inside, like the genie in Aladdin's lamp. We need to remove our false conceptions of self, because that's hell. The suffering that we have, terrestrial suffering in daily experience, is a type of hell for us. Heaven is where we see that we are not necessarily a part of that as a soul, and that we can escape that if we learn to pay attention.
Following the theme of this lecture, we've been explaining a lot from Sufi doctrine. In this image, we have a very famous image of Prophet Mohammed, who in this symbol is riding a mystical animal whose name is Al-Buraq. We understand from Gnosis that all religions are really precious pearls. They all express a divine teaching. This is not a representation of the religions as they are today, but in their original root; these teachers came to found and explain the root signs of how to liberate consciousness, how to free ourselves from suffering. Likewise, we explain also in many lectures how even a misunderstood and misrepresented tradition like Islam has a place in this tradition, particularly the symbol of Mohammed riding an animal to heaven, Al-Buraq.
The mythological creature is represented as the size of a mule with the face of a woman, the tail of a peacock. I know there are people who literally believe this happened, but this is a symbol. We can explain it through teachings like kabbalah, that this is really something applicable inside. Al-Buraq means “lightning.” That lightning is the energy of divinity we call Christ, which can take us up from here, in this physical world, up the tree of life, as you saw in the Hebrew image.
In his teaching, he explained how one can ascend from suffering to a superior level of being. The Sufis really explain this very beautifully:
“In general, it is to the measure of one's alienation from one's own ego that one attains direct knowledge of one's lord…” –Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri
…meaning heaven is where we are not, our defects. Heaven is when the soul, the mind, is in peace and silence, and can reflect the beauty of divinity inside psychologically.
“I heard Abu Ali al-Daqqaq say, "One of the tokens of the gnosis of God is the achievement of deep awe and reverence for God. If someone's realization increases, his awe increases." –Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri
Again like a child, we look at life and we see that we have awe, that spontaneous feeling of joy such as when we see a rainfall outside, and the expression of a sense of peace about the beauty of what we're experiencing. Without having to think about it or saying, "This is beautiful," we just simply relax and reflect on the nature of the sight that we're experiencing. The type of awe that we experience, on a superficial level we could say, and at a deeper level, we begin to experience what divinity is, we feel that awe of that tremendous power that is inside of us that can give us genuine happiness.
If someone's realization increases, his awe increases, meaning: if someone's knowledge of divinity, genuine knowledge of what divinity is, increases, his awe increases.
“Gnosis requires stillness of heart, just as learning requires outward quiet. If someone's gnosis increases, his tranquility increases.” –Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri
We teach the science of meditation as the core practice, how to achieve mental silence, peace so that we can know divinity directly. As our knowledge of divinity increases, we have more peace in life, more joy, because we begin to remove what in us obstructs us from the goal.
This type of state requires that we abandon false knowledge about ourselves. Of course, this is a very challenging thing to confront, but all religions teach the need to really confront the obstacles that are inside that prevent us from reaching divinity. All that is impure in us psychologically needs to die, as Jesus taught with his passion, meaning he represented how any person on this spiritual path needs to remove the impurities. That's precisely through his crucifixion. It was a very painful process, but one that transformed him radically. This is something that he represented with his life. That's something that we need to do inside. It's not something to be believed in outside, but from practice.
Annihilation and Subsistence in the Being
In this image, we have again some Sufis in prayer. To emphasize what is the nature of being, I'm going to continue elaborating with two more quotes from Principles of Sufism, which is a Gnostic text.
“There is no finding the truth save after the extinction of the ordinary human condition, because when the power of reality manifests, (or the power of Being), the perception of material things cannot endure." This is the meaning of the saying of Abul Hussein Al-Nuri: "For 20 years, I had been finding and losing. When I have found my lord, I have lost my heart. When I have found my heart, I have lost my lord." –Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri
What does that mean? If we identify with our self-will, we forget God, but if we remember God as a universal presence inside, one forgets one's usual sense of individuality. This is something that is fearful and frightening to the mind, because the mind does not know what is beyond itself, but this is a type of cognizance which is liberating, which we can develop through practice. As we become associated and affiliated with what are the states of divinity inside, there is a sense of freedom and genuine happiness, because that energy known as Allah or Christ or Buddha inside is eternal. It never changes or dies.
It is also the meaning of the saying of Junayd: “The knowledge of unity is contrary to its existence, and its existence is contrary to the knowledge of it.” –Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri
What is this knowledge of unity? We talk about how God is one. In Judaism, we say, Shema yisrael yod-chavah eloheinu yod-chavah echad." Coming from a Jewish family, this is something I'm familiar with. Basically in a synagogue, when you pronounce this, it's basically the declaration of faith of Judaism. You cover your eyes. You say, “Shema yisrael yod-chavah eloheinu yod-chavah echad,” meaning, "Jehovah the lord, Jehovah is one." The Muslims say, “La ilaha illallah muhammadur rasulullah.” There is no God but Allah, and Mohammed is his prophet."
This unity is a type of integration with divinity; it’s an intelligence that is not dispersed. God we say is one, is a singular force, which is one with the cosmos. We want to seek to become one with that cosmic consciousness. The knowledge of unity is contrary to its existence, meaning in the beginning, we study. We have intellectual ideas about what this type of state of being is, and then later we come to experience it. First we study, then we practice, and then we experience. This is really the gradual practice that we develop, and its existence is contrary to the knowledge of it. Again, if we have the knowledge about these teachings but don't experience them, we need to learn to experience them, which is why we have different books that give different practices for that.
The final quote here. We have an image of Arabic calligraphy. In Arabic, this represents Al-Nur, meaning the light. This is a famous surah from the Qur’an, which says, "Light upon light." That light is our inner perception, our inner lord inside. We all have that light of divinity within us, which we can actualize if we learn to practice it, exercise it.
The final quote we have here, from Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri, summarizes our points about the nature of being.
"The man of being possesses both sober balance and obliteration of self," meaning egotistical self. Sober means, really, the teaching of being balanced psychologically and not being drunk on egotism. It’s not something physical. It's not a reference to just abstaining from drinking alcohol. In Islam, Muslims don't drink alcohol at all, but the psychological meaning of it is that we're not intoxicated by false conceptions of self, but instead, we are obliterated. That negative sense of self we have is obliterated, and there's only the presence and joy of divinity inside.
“His state of sobriety is his continued existence in the real. His state of obliteration is his annihilation in the real.” –Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri
Heaven is where we aren't, but hell is where our mistaken sense of self is.
“These two states always come upon him in succession. When sobriety in the real overcomes him, he acts and speaks in truth…” –Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri
…which is why certain masters who really united with divinity very fully, like Jesus, could say, "I am the Christ," because Christ was manifest in him, or certain Muslim prophets like Mansur Al-Hallaj, a famous Sufi poet, said, "Ana 'l-Ḥaqq," meaning, "I am the truth," meaning God spoke through him. The Muslims of the time had him tortured and mutilated, because they were offended, because that's the name of God. He says, “I am God," like Jesus said, "I am the Christ." People don't understand that it's divinity inside that manifested within the terrestrial person, the Being manifested in that individual.
“The prophet reported from God Most Hugh relating a non-Koranic divine utterance or Hadith Qudsi, Muslim oral tradition. "With me, he hears, and with me, he sees." –Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri
That profound state in which there is no individual sense of self but there's only God inside is really the goal.
To conclude, we emphasize that we need to balance our study with practice. We need to study the nature of being inside. What is our being? Who is our being? Who is our divinity? These are things that we've begun to understand as we reflect and observe our daily life.
Questions and Answers
Question: What daily practice do you have to run that internal connection with divinity?
Instructor: The primary practice we use is meditation. We have many exercises also, such as mantras, which are sacred sounds. By learning to work with the energies of our body, and our mind, and heart, we learn to activate spiritual perception. By working with sacred sounds, those sounds help to vibrate the different glands of our body, to activate what is known as chakras, the spiritual forces or circulation of energies which can awaken our consciousness. We have many exercises with mantras, such as exercises called runes, a type of Tibetan yoga postures, meditation specifically, and exercises called transmutation, where we transform the energies of our body to consciousness.
All the books that we sell have many practices to use. These are very practical books for how to awaken that perception. You can find more information on our website as well for different individual practices. Comments or questions?
Question: I've been studying higher thinking for probably longer than all of you have been alive. Not until I heard the word Being did it trigger something very authentic, very accurate, or whatever. It basically really helped. I had not heard that before. I'm placing high value on the language that I hear.
Instructor: We say in this teaching, particularly in The Revolution of the Dialectic, it's a book from our founder of this tradition. He states that, "Socrates demanded precision of his terminology." We use many terms that are very specific and scientific. Being is one of them. In Arabic, we call it wujud, or we simply say being, but in nature it refers to our divinity inside. We have to understand that the Being is here and now, and that we can only access it if we learn to direct attention from a new perspective.
Question: Do you have these books here? If you're sort of a novice and trying to learn more, what do you recommend to read?
Instructor: I'd recommend Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology. This book explains the foundation for working with consciousness and how we learn to direct attention. The teachings of self-observation or mindfulness that we've discussed in brief are fully explained in that text. It's a very strong and powerful teaching. I haven't found any other author who has been more explicit. We study in this tradition many scriptures, Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and in terms of practical application, these texts that we have available have been helpful, because they're very clear and very powerful, and practical. Personally, I would advise learning about self-observation, learning awareness about oneself, one should study Revolutionary Psychology, the book that you have in your hand. As an introductory text, it's very practical. It explains how to understand self, what is self, what is being, and what is divinity.
If there's something you want to look at more in-depth, you can look online. If there are more questions, we'll conclude.
Question: I think I understand what you're saying and I understand why we want to study this, but if I really understand it, why do I sometimes feel the resistance to practice?
Instructor: That resistance is, in psychological terms, we call ego. Ego is Latin for I, and we say that we don't have one I but many ‘I’s. Pride is an I, anger is an I, lust is an I. It's a different defect, a different type of self. As we begin to study this type of teaching and practice, we get resistance, because the mind does not want to experience or does not want to change, fundamentally.
This is precisely the great drama that any saint goes through, such as you see the temptation of St. Anthony, in which he's surrounded in his images and artwork by many demons. The demons are inside him. Those are different defects that are fighting against him to destroy his spiritual work. This is the meaning of the word Satan. It isn't a guy in a red suit with a pitchfork and horns. It refers to Hebrew Shatan, which means adversary. God wants to develop something inside of us, but our own defects don't want to change. They want to hold onto their habits, so there's a big battle that we have to face. The fact that you have resistance is normal. The next step is to develop understanding of what is that resistance so that you can overcome it.
Question: How do I develop that so that I can overcome?
Instructor: Comprehension. You need to observe. Like it says in Revolutionary Psychology, when you have a problem, when you have a conflict or resistance in your mind, observe that in yourself. Observe what is inside. That's the key. If you don't see it, you can't change it. If you see it, you can transform it.
Question: I see it, so how do I kill it?
Instructor: Basically, we have meditation. I am really happy for that question, because people are afraid of what we call mystical death. They hear about the Buddhist annihilation, the death of the ego, and they get scared. What will I be after I die as a mind? Meaning, the Being will be there. Study the book Revolution of the Dialectic. It explains that, and we'll talk more in depth, but thank you for coming.
This is a transcription of an audio lecture from The Sufi Path of Self-knowledge, originally given live at the Chicagoland Gnostic Academy:
It is good, for the purpose of our studies, to discuss the nature of divine love and its practicality, its need, its importance. Simply look at the world today, at the news, and you find acts of destruction that are unprecedented, crimes that are beyond comprehension. The world is in a state of calamity that precedes a much greater state of global crisis, of which the prophets of all religions have warned against.
It is through the recognition of suffering that the student of genuine religion seeks to understand how to change oneself. If we do not change our negative interior psychological states, we cannot hope to produce the changes that we seek among other sentient beings. It is precisely through overcoming the afflictions of our own mind, its conditioning, that we can learn to transmit the light of the divine, which is within us.
The thing to remember and comprehend is the nature of the self. The real self, the Being, does not pertain to any individual, any person. The Being, the self, is not our fears, our anxieties that cause so much distress and confusion; neither is the Being our self-esteem, our pride and vanities that fluctuate and change like the wind. Our education, titles, diplomas, which we wield as intellectual arsenal to substantiate and defend our pride, does not constitute our true self either; our book knowledge really accounts for nothing when confronting the fundamental problem of psychological and spiritual transformation.
The Being is universal, cosmic. There is no individuality there, in the sense of “me,” “myself,” “I.” Within the Being is the supraconscious understanding of all things in the eternal present, beyond the projections of our worries, fears, preoccupations, ambitions, and terrestrial baggage. By learning to access the divine potential and presence of divinity, known in Arabic as hudur, we awaken to our genuine self-awareness, muhadarah. By learning to pay attention, here and now, we discover the very obstacles to our own development. Through recognizing the conditions and faults of our mind, we learn to become truly transformative in a very practical sense.
In this awareness, we do not simply wish for a better state of humanity, but actualize it, here and now, for the betterment of others. This is something we can practically manage, and see its results. Therefore, this work is not something ambiguous, not vague; it is not suppositional. It is concrete, factual. For as Samael Aun Weor wrote, “Gnosis is lived upon facts, withers away in abstractions, and is difficult to find even in the noblest of thoughts.”
Through this work, we can see the clear effect of our actions upon others within our daily life, either to our benefit or detriment. There is no need to believe in spirituality, some vain utopia that someday things will get better. Instead, we learn to produce positive results for the happiness of others, serving divinity in every thought, word, and deed.
As we are going to explain in this lecture on divine love, faith is conscious knowledge. It is experience born from energy and action. It is what we know. To believe in something is really useless. To not believe in something is also useless. To invest our mental or emotional energy into a concept does not change the daily reality of our suffering; it does not help us to acquire cognizance of the purpose of life.
We may really believe in Jesus, Buddha, or Muhammad with our hearts, yet we continue to feed anger, resentment, and all the degenerate qualities of the psyche that cause harm. We use the very energy that can give birth to the soul for our defects. To believe or not believe in a tradition, guru, or sheikh, is mistaken, because it does not address how to consciously control the energies that can awaken our perception, so that we do not need to believe, but can seriously know.
We must learn not to wash our hands in justification, as Pilate allowed Jesus to be crucified, whereby he stated, “I am innocent of this man’s blood.” All of us have Pilate inside, washing our hands clean of culpability, while in truth we allow our most destructive habits to crucify divinity within our hearts.
It is also not in believing in some prophet or deity that we will be saved. As the Apostle James taught, “Faith without works is dead.” Believing in Prophet Muhammad, with our intellect or heart, as a concept or emotional quality, will not redeem the soul, the consciousness. To have genuine faith in a tradition is to know from experience the principles it contains. So, if we have consciousness of what Muhammad taught, what the prophets taught, and if we practice their teachings, we will develop the consciousness thoroughly. But belief is another thing; to think something is true or not is irrelevant.
Attending a church, mosque, or synagogue does not make one spiritual. Having direct experience of divinity does. Being part of a physical group is insufficient for objective self-knowledge. We need practical and transformative knowledge applied to daily living. But not only that, we need to apply what we learn. Therefore, the tradition we study here is filled with innumerable practices geared to awaken the consciousness. But if we just read the knowledge and don’t apply it, we won’t have real faith. We will be stuck in belief.
The Definition of Divine Love
Many people toss the term “divine love” around in so-called spiritual circles, and have many concepts about it. All of this is very sentimental, like hallmark cards. Many people have a lot of ideas about what love is, and can write very beautifully and convincingly about it. Yet if we go very deep within meditation and awaken our consciousness within the superior worlds of nature, which we access when we dream, we will find that people write about love in accordance with their psychological conditioning, self-esteem, fears, and insecurities.
Genuine love is selfless. There is no ego, no “I” present. Love only gives of itself for others, without any concern for how one appears, one’s self-image. This is essential in our study of self-knowledge, as especially presented within Sufism, because it is the universal sense of Being, wujud, that connects us with all beings. This is most important within the perfect matrimony, the sexual union of two beings, one who loves more and the other who loves better; sexuality is the full manifestation, inspiration, and expression of Allah, divinity. Sexual union is the science of Alchemy: Allah-Khemia, the chemistry of God.
In love, there is no concept or reasoning. Love simply is. A true marriage, before divinity, therefore, is between husband and wife, when man and woman sexually unite. Paperwork means nothing. In most cases marriage papers constitute legalized prostitution and have nothing to do with love. Marriage exists when a man unites with a woman in sex; this is a literal, psychic, and spiritual communion of souls.
The Sufis poets have always utilized sexual and erotic language to describe the soul’s unification with the divine. Yet few people realize that this language is also literal; that when husband and wife connect sexually, they become a terrifically divine being, capable of creating life. If the couple knows how to conserve that sexual energy and not expel it, they remain in Eden, a Hebrew word for bliss. Their love remains intact, pure, and chaste. If the couple is sensual, carnal, and animalistic, they will be kicked out of paradise.
As Christ spoke through the mouth of Jesus, “Before Abraham was, I Am.” Only divinity can say this word, “I Am.” But when a married couple unites out of selflessness, compassion, and true remembrance of divinity, then the Being, Allah, is fully manifested there.
Mansur Al-Hallaj, the great Sufi master, once stated, “An al-Haqq!” or “I am the truth!” in Arabic. This got him in trouble with the orthodox authorities, who were scandalized that a terrestrial person would refer to himself with one of the sacred names of Allah. It is the equivalent of saying, “I am God!” Jesus said the same thing and was thereafter crucified. What occurred in both cases was that divinity, whether named Jehovah, Christ or Allah, manifested within those initiates. Both Jesus and Al-Hallaj became vehicles of divine love and being, and had reached the heights of mastery through working in the perfect matrimony, in the science of Alchemy. Through sexual union, Jesus and Mansur could develop their complete divine potential.
Sadly, Mansur was tortured and executed. However, like Jesus, he was completely free of ego and conditioning before his physical death, which is why his poetry and light were intense during his final hours.
Only the Being can say, “I Am.” The Being is divine love, the intelligence of all creation, of all the cosmos. But we can become vehicles of Allah when working in Alchemy, the chemistry of God, which is the perfect matrimony. This is how we can fortify compassion and eliminate many defects from our nature, so that our consciousness irradiates with selflessness and abundance.
The Sufi-Christian mystic poet known as Kahlil Gibran spoke beautifully about the sexual nature of divine love in his book The Prophet. Even the name of this poet deserves reflection, since Hillel in Hebrew means “Praised or Glorified One,” a reference to the star of dawn, Lucifer, the sexual potency. Gibran reminds us of the Rune Gibur, the swastika or cross in motion, emblem of sexual alchemy, whereby the energies of sex inflame and illuminate the chakras of the body, causing them to spin as the swastika in movement. The cross is also a sexual symbol representing the vertical phallus and the horizontal uterus. This forms Gibur, the strength and chastity of God, known as Aun in Hebrew: Gibur-Aun, Gibran.
The following quotation is from the chapter “On Love.” I will provide some comments in between the lines to provide understanding, since this poet is a great Kabbalist and psychologist of the Sufi tradition.
Then said Almitra, "Speak to us of (Conscious) Love."
And he (Almustafa, the Chosen and Beloved of الله Allah) raised his head and looked upon the people, and there fell a stillness upon them. And with a great voice he said:
When love (גדולה Gedulah, the Spirit, the Innermost) beckons to you follow him,
Though his ways are hard and steep (through the path of the spinal column, the reed or staff of initiation).
And when his (solar) wings (that open upon the Caduceus of Mercury) enfold you yield to him,
Though the sword (of Kundalini) hidden among his pinions may wound you (your ego).
And when he speaks to you believe in him,
Though his voice (the Voice of the Silence) may shatter your (egotistical) dreams as the north wind lays waste the garden.
For even as love (גדולה Gedulah, the Spirit, the Innermost) crowns you (with a crown of life, כתר Kether, the Father; Revelation 2:10) so shall he crucify you (through initiation). Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning (of your inner tyrant, your egos; Isaiah 25:5).
Even as he ascends to your height (of the Tree of Life) and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun (the Solar Logos: כתר Kether, חכמה Chokmah, בינה Binah in Kabbalah),
So shall he descend to your roots (at the tree of زقوم Zaqqum, the tree of death in Islam, the Klipoth of Kabbalah, the inferior worlds) and shake them in their clinging to the earth (מלכות Malkuth).
Like sheaves of corn (plants which assimilate the Solar Christic Force) he gathers you unto himself (He strives to unite all the diverse parts of the Being, to achieve tawhid, unity of God).
He threshes you (provides you ordeals) to make you naked (innocent, like Adam and Eve before the fall).
He sifts you to free you from your husks (egos, Klipoth, shells).
He grinds you to whiteness (through the wheel of Karma).
He kneads you until you are pliant (in contemplation and meditation);
And then he assigns you to his sacred fire (the Kundalini awakened through the perfect matrimony), that you may become sacred bread for God's sacred feast (the sacred initiations within the temples of the Superior Worlds).
All these things shall love (גדולה Gedulah, the Spirit, the Innermost) do unto you that you may know the secrets of your heart, and in that knowledge become a fragment of Life's heart (the Universal, Abstract Absolute Space, the Spirit of Life Free in its Movement).
But if in your fear you would seek only love's peace and love's pleasure,
Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness (your shame born from fornication, as Adam and Eve were after the fall) and pass out of love's threshing-floor (the ordeals of a matrimony and of initiation),
Into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears.
Love (גדולה Gedulah, the Spirit, the Innermost) gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself.
Love (גדולה, the Innermost) possesses not nor would it be possessed; For love is sufficient unto love (for "my God is God," אליאל). When you love you should not say, "God is in my heart," but rather, I am in the heart of God (the Absolute Abstract Space, الله Allah)."
And think not you can direct the course of love (the straight path of the Bodhisattvas), for love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course.
Love (גדולה Gedulah, the Spirit, the Innermost) has no other desire but to fulfil itself.
But if you love (consciously) and must needs have desires, let these be your desires:
To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night (the Divine Mother Space).
To know the pain of too much tenderness.
To be wounded by your own understanding of love;
And to bleed willingly and joyfully (to die to the animal ego with happiness and contentment).
To wake at dawn (for runes, meditation, and esoteric exercises) with a winged heart (or the longing to know divinity) and give thanks for another day of loving (through a perfect matrimony);
To rest at the noon hour and meditate love's ecstasy;
To return home at eventide with gratitude;
And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved (الله Allah, the divine) in your heart and a song of praise upon your lips. —Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet
To obtain the supreme heights of initiation, we must work in a matrimony, which is the path of sacrifice, the cross. This is how our inner spirit, Gedulah, the Innermost, receives powers, and riches, and glories, through the work of His human soul or bodhisattva.
A true matrimony is one born of selflessness. There is no desire that says, “I want,” “I crave,” “I need.” Love does not demand ultimatums of the other. Conscious love only knows how to provide for the beloved, and is willing to provide even the last drop of his or her blood for one’s partner. This is the type of consciousness between Jesus and Mary Magdalene, Rama and Krishna, Muhammad and A’isha, and other sacred matrimonies.
So if we’re married, we aspire to those heights of spirituality, because most of us are selfish. Yet through training this can change. It is easily obtainable when there is some degree of love and comprehension between the couple, since love grows the more it is nourished and fed, and the more our animal ego, desires, and conditions are annihilated.
The Trainings of Sufism
So, we previously discussed the demarcations of instruction as given within religious traditions, specifically within Sufism. Religion can be divided into three classes or categories of instruction and practice, whether introductory, intermediate, or advanced, otherwise classified as exoteric, mesoteric, and esoteric.
The Sufis denominate the first level of teaching as Shariah, which in spiritual studies does not pertain to the punitive or repressive laws of Muslim countries, but pertains to our conscious psychological discipline that we engage with to curtail negative thinking, negative feeling, and negative action.
Likewise we talked about Tariqah, the intermediate or mesoteric aspect of religion. Tariqah simply means “path.” It is the way that follow and practice, a path that winds from oasis to oasis within the desert of our life, the wasteland of initiation. It is our practical work that we fulfill day by day, moment by moment, for the benefit of others.
Marifah means knowledge, and is the Arabic word for gnosis. We also have Haqiqah, which is the truth. Marifah and Haqiqah can be described as two aspects of the same dynamic, since for the truth to be realized, we must have knowledge, expedient methods for transforming the psyche, and to have knowledge, we must comprehend and realize.
Buddhism divides these three categories as the Shravakayana, Mahayana, and Tantrayana, the introductory, greater, and supreme vehicles. Shravakas are those who listen to the spiritual teachings for the first time. Such persons practice spirituality for their own well-being. But with the Mahayana, or greater vehicle, one works less for oneself and more for others. In Tantrayana, one works solely for all sentient beings.
The same in the Sufi model. In Shariah, the practitioners work to stop their own suffering and to cease causing harm because such actions produce harm within them. In the path of Tariqah, that of divine love, we work on ourselves for the benefit of others. We can then say that the last two degrees or trainings of Sufism, Marifah (knowledge) and Haqiqah (Truth) are combined as one and constitute the highest aspect of any teaching, the most expedient methods of transformation, and also the highest levels of understanding and knowledge.
So these trainings entail their own forms of discipline, in varying degrees. Shariah is ethical discipline, mind training, whereby we comprehend and eliminate defects so that we don’t harm ourselves. We are taught to not lie, to not steal, to not commit fornication and adultery, to not ingest intoxicants or drugs, alcohol, etc. We avoid taking in elements that are contrary to our spiritual work. We clean the temple of our body, heart, and mind so that the Being can officiate. We learn not to kill, not only physically, but with speech.
When we speak sarcastically and humiliate our neighbor, we make blood rush to his face. This is a form of bloodshed and killing, whereby we are killing a person’s self-image. This is wrong. All religions teach us against negative behaviors of this type. As Prophet Muhammad taught, “The strongest among you is he who controls his anger.”
Each religion has its own set of commandments that it gives. Again, these laws are not punitive: “Do this or be punished!” That is something very superficial and does not produce real development in the soul. Following external laws is one thing, but being a law unto oneself is another.
This does not indicate that we can do whatever we want, but that we follow the internal law of divinity, which is harmony, peace, and health. We simply depend on no one to do this work, only the Being.
This training is known as ethics. Ethics is different from morality. What is moral in one country is immoral in another. Simply look at the differences between North America and the Middle East. Ethics is knowing how to act appropriately for the benefit of others in any circumstance. Compassion is within all religions, all ethical disciplines, especially Islam. The punishments for adulterers and fornicators in Surah Al-Nur, “Surah of the Light” within the Qur’an, for example, is a symbol of how to work against the ego. Flagellation and the removal of thieves’ hands is a representation of what we must do to our ego, for as Jesus taught, “If your left eye offend you, pluck it out, lest your whole body be dragged into hell.” By denying our ego, by waging a holy war against our desires, defects, vices, etc., we generate light.
Scripture is written in symbolic language for the consciousness. If people take these punishments literally and physically harm others, this is something else and different.
The Qur’an has many allegorical verses which we need Kabbalah, alchemy, and intuition to understand, as indicated in the following Surah al-Imran, verse 7:
It is He who has sent down to you, [O Muhammad], the Book; in it are verses [that are] literal - they are the foundation of the Book - and others allegorical. As for those in whose hearts is deviation [from truth], they will follow that of it which is literal, seeking discord and seeking an interpretation [suitable to them]. And no one knows its [true] interpretation except Allah. But those firm in knowledge (Marifah, alchemy and Kabbalah) say, "We believe in it. All [of it] is from our Lord." And no one will be reminded except those of understanding (Binah, Intelligence in Kabbalah). —Qur'an
The other two degrees of these trainings are based on Shariah, the law, and mutually support each other. If one has no ethical discipline, one cannot follow the path, Tariqah, and achieve understanding and knowledge (Marifah) of the truth (Haqiqah). All three trainings integrate and constitute three aspects of one whole. However, the path is presented in these degrees due to the capabilities, dispositions, and needs of their practitioners.
Marifah is sexual knowledge, alchemy, known as Tantra in the east, the principle of Tantrayana. A matrimony is not only the basis of physical life, but spiritual life as well. When we work in a marriage we can harness the most potent energies of the universe for the development and awakening of the consciousness.
The Sufis use erotic language to describe union with God, whereby the soul is lost in the ocean of love. When a couple is sexually united, husband and wife lose their identities and become lost within the ocean of the creative sexual energy. There is no “me,” “myself,” within two practitioners of sexual magic who deny their egos, who learn to annihilate egotistical desire (through fana in Arabic) to be, to subsist (through baqa in Arabic) within the creator (Al-Khaaliq).
Who is it that creates in us? The sexual energy, the power of divinity. But how we create depends upon whether we follow divine love and will or our own egotism and desires.
While the Sufis used clear, erotic language to describe the path of alchemy, many people do not realize that this love is also physical, literal. Divine love is manifested through husband and wife in sexual cooperation, in sexual magic or Alchemy.
This is the power of Baqarah, the sacred cow, a symbol of the Divine Mother in Hinduism. She is the serpentine power of Kundalini that the tantric practitioners work with. Therefore, with great respect and veneration, Muhammad became the vehicle for transmitting the second surah of the Qur’an, “The Cow,” or “Heifer,” the longest Surah of the Qur’an. The Qur’an means “The Recitation,” the mantralization of the sacred verb. The power of speech esoterically refers to the power of the bull or cow. When couples pronounce mantras in sexual union, they are learning to unite with divinity completely, to remove the conditioning of the psyche and the mind to liberate soul from conditioning, through the power of love.
To understand the trainings of Sufism, we can refer to the Sufi master Ibn ‘Arabi. He explained that in the path of Shariah, “Yours is yours and mine is mine.” That which belongs to you is yours. That which belongs to me is mine. There is a sense of separation whereby we are working individually for our own spiritual benefit and goals.
In the path of Tariqah, “Mine is yours and yours is mine.” There is a shift of perspective, whereby we focus on the spiritual community and the benefit of others. There is a degree of selflessness and compassion present whereby we can help one another in a genuine sense, without major interferences from our egos, nafs, or defects.
Regarding Marifah, knowledge, Ibn ‘Arabi states that “Nothing belongs to you or me.” In truth, we don’t own anything. All abundance belongs to divinity.
Regarding Haqiqah, the truth, Ibn ‘Arabi stated, “There is no you or me.” Meaning: there is only God, divinity, the Being, Allah.
Remember when we said earlier that “Wherever your sense of self is, that is hell. Wherever you aren’t, that is heaven.” There is no egotism, self, or sense of “I” within the Being, as we presently know in ourselves. The Being is as different and incompatible to the mind as oil is to water.
Divinity, the real Being, is the Absolute Abstract Space, the emptiness of enlightened cognizance, the pure light of Adi-Buddha, Ain Soph Aur in Kabbalah, which to our present sight is darkness, but for the self-realized masters is the uncreated light of the unknowable divine.
This divinity is selfless, but constitutes the true universal individuality, or better said, supra-individuality of any master who learns to incarnate and develop that force in themselves, so that there is no self, only the truth, al-Haqq, as proclaimed through Mansur Al-Hallaj. Divinity is one and absolute, as proclaimed through the Muslim Shahidah or testimony of faith: “There is no god but God.”
Anyone who wants to comprehend divinity must fulfill the three trainings. Again, these are not something rigid and dogmatic. These are practical steps. We must begin where we are at, with Shariah, ethical discipline, since we have a lot of selfishness and desires that keep us from knowing divinity. As we develop light, we can then provide that light of compassion for others in the path of Tariqah. By serving others completely, we follow Jesus, Buddha, Krishna, Moses, Muhammad, on the path of Marifah and Haqiqah, knowledge and truth.
In Shariah, we serve divinity in ourselves. In Tariqah, we serve divinity in others. In Marifah and Haqiqah, there is only divinity everywhere and within ourselves. There is no “I,” but only the awakened state of consciousness free of conditions.
The Three Brains
In the path of self-knowledge, we deeply study what in gnosticism is called the three brains. These are three centers of psychological, energetic, spiritual, and physiological activity. The term brain in gnostic studies does not simply pertain to the physical matter within our skull. But a brain, esoterically speaking, is a machine that process certain psychological states, or qualities. It’s a type of mechanism.
We have an intellectual brain, which is where we process thought, mind, concepts, reasoning, ideas, theses and antitheses, and hopefully synthesis.
With the emotional brain we process sentiment, like, dislike, feeling, hope, longing, fear, etc. It pertains not only to just those psychological states, but to our heart and its nervous systems. The heart is a very sensitive organ and has intuitive capacities that are unlocked through the science of alchemy.
We have a third brain all throughout our spinal column, the brain of action, and which is divided into three principles, dynamics, or qualities. We have the center of movement at the top of the spine, whereby we process all our movements in our body. We have the instinctual center relating to the base of the spine, relating to our impulses, will, actions, desires. The most potent center pertaining to the spinal column is sexual, the sexual center or sexual organs. The sexual energy is the most potent force we carry within our body. The third brain can be therefore synthesized as the motor-instinctive-sexual brain.
Why discuss the three brains in relation to Sufism and divine love? Because to love the divine, we must become fully conscious of all these aspects of ourselves, and to give everything to God through renouncing negative habits and psychological states, whether through thought, feeling, or impulse. We can only learn to transform our psyche when we become conscious of our three brains. We become conscious of divinity likewise through the management of these parts of our body and psyche.
The three brains are a machine, a car that we must learn to handle and drive, if we want to safely arrive at our spiritual destination. Dreams of driving a car can symbolize how we use the mind, heart, and body appropriately or inappropriately. See how you drive in your dreams to know how you are doing!
Jesus taught us about the three brains in the gospels when a Jewish Pharisee tried to discredit the master before the public:
And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?
He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou?
Jesus said: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself. —Luke 10:25-27
The heart is the emotional brain. The soul is willpower, the human consciousness beyond thought, feeling, and bodily sensation. This will must dominate our thinking, feeling, and action. Our human consciousness or willpower is mostly conditioned by nafs, egos. But there remains a free portion of this consciousness, which we call the Essence, that must liberate the conditioned consciousness, as we explained previously.
We also must love God with all our strength, meaning: all our vitality or sexual energy. When we wake in the morning, we are rejuvenated by our vital energies, renewed through the process of physical sleep. This depends upon how we use the sexual force, because if we squander this energy, we will become weak, mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.
Sexual energy gives us life. This is easy to see physically. The physical birth of a child is contingent upon the union of man and woman. By using the virile force, the sexual energy, husband and wife can create a human being. Likewise, the spiritual human being can be created in us through that same energy. We would not be here if it weren’t for the creative force, the power of the Holy Spirit as denominated by the Christians.
It’s interesting that the root word for virility is virya, warrior, someone who is spiritually and physically strong. Likewise, virtue is born from virility. How we use our sexual, emotional, mental, volitional, and conscious energy can grant us union with divinity, if we know how. Therefore the gospel states, “Love thy God with all thy strength.”
By conquering the sexual force, we become virya, warriors, mujahidin, strivers in spiritual warfare as taught within the Muslim tradition. This is a war against the ego and desire, against our nafs, defects. Through transforming the sexual energy within us and giving it to divinity, we acquire divine virtues and develop self-knowledge.
Faith and the Solar Force
By working with the sexual energy, we develop genuine faith, since this energy awakens consciousness and gives us direct knowledge of the mysteries of life and death. This is the science of transmutation, from the prefix trans, “to carry over, transport,” and mutation, mutate, “to change dense material forms into energy,” into spiritual force. Transmutation is the alchemical science of transforming our conditioned psyche into liberated consciousness, by transmuting the seminal matter or waters into cognizance and light.
We’ve included in this image the famous symbol of Islam, which is the crescent moon and the star of Venus, the star of love. We have juxtaposed with this image the Assumption of Mary, who is standing on a moon with her head crowned with twelve stars.
The power of the warrior, the virya, born from one’s virility, is in itself symbolized by the crescent moon. In Kabbalah, the moon relates to the sphere of Yesod, the second sphere from the bottom of the Tree of Life. Yesod means “Foundation” and is constituted by our sexual energy. It is the foundation of spiritual life. The Tree of Life is literally our spine, and Yesod is the sexual organs, since without our spine we would be invalids, incapable of functioning in life in a complete sense and not without special assistance.
We can likewise transpose the image of the Tree of Life on a human being, where the first trinity relates to the head, the second trinity to the heart, and the lower trinity to the sexual organs and thighs of the human being. This diagram relates to the three brains in many interesting ways.
With the moon, we think of lunar cycles, mechanicity, and forces in nature, as well as repetition. The moon is also a symbol of the mechanicity of the mind, the ego, the nafs. Our psyche is a moon, meaning: our habits are very ingrained. Whether we like to smoke or drink, to engage with specific types of conversations or discussions, we are habituated and fixed on certain behaviors due to the sleep of our consciousness. These habits and ways of being, some harmful, some not, constitute the conditioning of our psyche. They are mechanical and lunar, not belonging to the physical moon, but to our egotistical psychology. The mind is a moon; it only knows how to engage with its own conditions and desires.
But of course, in this image we have something very beautiful. The star of Venus above the crescent moon relates to love. Venus is the goddess Freia amongst the Nordics, which is where we get the word “Friday,” the holiest day of the week for Muslims. Likewise. sundown for Jews who celebrate the Sabbath, or Saturn-Day, Saturday.
This Freia, this Venus-Aphrodite, this goddess of love is the Hindu goddess Kundalini. She is the Divine Mother, the feminine aspect of our inner divinity. As we mentioned the Hebrew word Elohim, El is masculine, God; Eloah is feminine, Goddess; and Elohim, with Iod and Mem added to the end of Eloah, is Gods and Goddesses: Jehovah, or Jah-Chavah. Jah is the Divine Father. Chavah is the Divine Mother.
The Divine Mother is essential for our spiritual work, whom we must comprehend and experience very deeply to achieve self-knowledge. She is the power that can help free us from our defects. She destroys our defects after we have comprehended them completely in meditation. She liberates the soul from conditioning through wielding the powers of the moon, the sexual energy. She is the sacred heifer, the Cow, Al-Baqarah, immortalized through the longest Surah of the Qur’an. Surah Al-Baqarah relates how the leg of the heifer has the power of resuscitating the dead to bring them to life. This is highly symbolic, of course.
She also transforms the moon of our mind into the sun of understanding. She is Mary, Miriam in Hebrew, which literally means “to raise.” She raises us from spiritual death into the heights of spirituality. She is the energies that rise from the moon of our body, the sexual organs of Yesod, up the spine to the brain to produce the halo of the saints.
In sacred art, we often see the prophets and saints with halos like the sun, because they’ve transformed the lunar energies of sex into the solar energies of the Christ force, to saturate their minds completely with that power. This is the Kundalini of Hindustan.
The illumination of the mind relates to the mysteries of Halloween, Hallowed Evening. For this holiday, we take the pumpkin gourd mentioned in the Book of Jonah, clean out the muck, the guts and filthiness of the gourd itself. This represents how we must purify the filthiness of the mind. This is to place a candle, the light of understanding, inside that mind to illuminate it. This is how our evening, our darkness, is hallowed and enlightened.
But first you must go through all the visitors at the doorstep, dressed as ghouls and goblins, our own defects or nafs, who ask us, “Trick or treat?” In reality, you don’t want to be tricked by your own mind, but to treat yourself to the divine mysteries.
Miriam is the one who cleans our mind, our gourd. She is the one who gives us faith, and faith is a solar force. This solar force is born from our seminal waters, the waters of sex, the sexual matter, from which the energies rise within the spine to our mind. The Hebrew word for water is מַיִם Mayim, relating to מרים Miriam, since if you add the letter R, ר Rosh in Hebrew, to Mayim, you spell Miriam.
The word believer in Islam is al-mumin. The plural form is al-muminin. The resemblance of this term to מַיִם mayim, water, is striking, since a true believer works with the power of Yesod, the seminal waters. This is how we generate faith.
Faith is a force that guides us when we work with Miriam, our Divine Mother, to transform the moon into a sun. To be a true Muslim or believer is to be through the power of love, to be through lieve, love, the libido. You see this hidden in the symbol on top of every mosque. Very cryptic, but clear when you know alchemy and kabbalah.
We must be through the power of love, to be conscious to transform all our mechanicity into love, into consciousness. All conditionality must be transmuted into liberated consciousness; everything must be performed and given to divinity. This is how we awaken and know divinity for ourselves, developing conscious knowledge, real faith.
The term belief, as it is used now, has no meaning or purpose in esoterism. To think or feel something is true does not signify consciousness of that given thing. Therefore, we like to use the term faith in this tradition to be clear about our meaning, which is energy and will applied to action.
Here we think a note upon faith should be of interest. Initiates say that its meaning has been misunderstood. Faith, as the world uses it, possesses no spiritual nature; though in the secondary system [the work with sexual energy] it means power and energy applied to action. All success in Yoga [religion] comes from this application; for the true quality of faith is a Solar force that illumines the mind and attracts to it atoms of power and energy. More human wrecks have resulted from the misconception of this quality than man realises. —M. The Dayspring of Youth
People just sit on their couch and think that by believing in divinity, everything will be fine. One must learn to be conscious through the libido, the creative power of Yesod, and to apply it consciously. This is how we submit to God (perform Islam, submission).
Jesus provided the parable of the mustard seed, which is small, but has the potential to become a great tree. All that is possible for the fruition or development of a giant tree, a tree of life, is within the seed. Also, we are in a potential state within our sexual seed, the sperm or ovum, to become complete spiritual beings who are not influenced by the moon, by mechanicity. That seed can only develop when masculine and feminine matter are united, when the virile force of man and woman are combined; this will help to generate consciousness and solar faith. The moon can therefore become a sun, a solar entity.
When Jesus used this word in the sentence, “If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed,” He meant that one could work miracles if one possessed the atomic energy contained within a mustard seed. But in this world of illusion this is reversed, and the weak man sits still and believes that all will be applied to him if he has faith. It is not a force that should only be applied to religious belief. It is the power of the Innermost [the divine, Allah] working through the densities of our bodies, and the more we respond to it the greater will be our powers. —M. The Dayspring of Youth
All our psychological, emotional, psychic, spiritual, and physical action is generated by the seed, the seminal matter. If we learn to take that force and transform the seed into Christic energy, we can give birth to the purified soul. Sex is the power of religion and divine life. Therefore Samael Aun Weor wrote in The Perfect Matrimony:
It so happens that people think that by belonging to this or that faith, to such and such religion, or to one or another sect, that they are already saved. Naturally, this is false. A seed never germinates because of what a person believes or stops believing. An insect is never born because of what a human being thinks or stops thinking. A man is never born from the parchment of theory. This subject matter is sexual and in this, the Angel is no exception. —Samael Aun Weor
This is the meaning of the second birth, to be born again as Jesus taught to Nicodemus. We must be born again of water and spirit. People think that one simply gets baptized by physical water and then believes in Jesus and then one is done. He said that “That which is born of flesh,” through the common sexual act, “is flesh.” A physical child is born from the animal orgasm, the sexual act culminating with seminal emission. “But that which is born of spirit,” through the sexual act with seminal retention of the waters, “is spirit.” If the couple knows how to conserve that water, that energy and redirect it, they can give birth to awakened consciousness and eliminate defects. This is how the moon is transformed into a sun.
This is the path of the cross, the vertical phallus joined to the horizontal uterus. It is upon this cross or within this crucible that we can die to our defects, that we can be cleansed by the fire of Christ, the fire of sex, ignited through divine love. When the couple unites, the fire ignites, inflames the mind, the heart, the psyche, and provides the capacity to unite with divinity, to create spiritual life.
The Muslims of course use different symbols for their religion, the crescent moon and star of Venus, but the same alchemical meaning is there. Ritual cleansing with water (wudu) is a common preparatory act before performing salaat, (daily prayer). This signifies that the initiate is transmuting their sexual energies to awaken the capacities of the heart.
The Symbolism of Water
Water is a prominent symbol in many world cosmogonies, particularly the Book of Genesis, the Bible, and the Qur’an. The creation of the earth and its emergence from the seas of creation, as told in Genesis, is allegorical. It represents the birth of the soul, new vehicles that the soul can inhabit as it rises upon the Tree of Life. Each Sephirah represents a new land that we must conquer, that we must create within ourselves, through alchemy.
The waters symbolize the power to generate, to create. Within us, our capacity to create physical and spiritual life resides in our waters. It is the source of pleasure, redemption, and the elevation of the soul to paradise. As the Qur’an teaches us in Surah al-Waqiah, the Inevitable, about the fate of those who transmute their waters:
In the Gardens of Pleasure,
A [large] company of the former peoples
And a few of the later peoples,
On thrones woven [with ornament, the solar bodies or garments of reverance],
Reclining on them, facing each other.
There will circulate among them young boys made eternal
With vessels, pitchers and a cup [of wine of transmuted sexual energy, Kundalini] from a flowing spring (of Yesod) -
No headache (suffering) will they have therefrom, nor will they be intoxicated (with fornication and adultery)-
And fruit of what they select (from the Tree of Life)
And the meat of fowl, from whatever they desire.
And [for them are] fair women (Nirvani woman) with large, [beautiful] eyes,
The likenesses of pearls well-protected,
As reward for what they used to do (for being chaste).
They will not hear therein ill (fornicating) speech or commission of sin (lustful desire)-
Only a saying: "Peace, peace."
The companions of the right - what are the companions of the right?
[They will be] among lote trees with thorns removed
And [banana] trees layered [with fruit]
And shade extended
And water (of transmuted sexual energy) poured out
And fruit, abundant [and varied],
Neither limited [to season] nor forbidden (as the fruits of the Tree of Knowledge were forbidden),
And [upon] beds raised high (wherein the sexual act is treated with respect).
Indeed, We have produced the women of Paradise in a [new] creation
And made them virgins (Venus-Uranias or Urania-Venuses, female initiates),
Devoted [to their husbands] and of equal age,
For the companions of the right [who are]
A company of the former peoples
And a company of the later peoples. —Qur'an
Jalaluddin Muhammad Rumi was a famous Sufi poet and mystic, a profound kabbalist and alchemist, who taught in his writings the path of yoking the waters through tantra, or Marifah. An example of his initiatic work is the following cryptic postulation:
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
Marifah or tantrism teaches that when a couple is engaged in sexual union, the different energies or seminal waters of the divine are active in the body. The sexual force then circulates throughout the physicality and psyche as well. There is a profound movement of forces through the chakras or energetic centers of the spinal medulla. The chakras rotate positively like the swastika when the couple is chaste and pure, avoiding animality in the sexual act.
The body has seven main mills, seven main chakras, which are well documented in Hinduism and within Sufism as al-Laṭaʾif as-Sitta, the seven vortexes or centers of spiritual and psychic power. These are the seven churches of the Book of Revelation.
These centers of power spin as the couple controls their breathing, their ruh, so that the sexual energy rises within the spine. When breathing is erratic and impassioned during the sexual act, the sexual energy flows outward and results in the orgasm. Remember that if there is no water, the mill cannot turn. If you ejaculate the waters, those chakras or mills cannot spin, but will remain still. Those chakras grant powers and spiritual abilities, such as clairvoyance, clairaudience, telepathy, omniscience, etc., so if they are inactive, then the consciousness lacks force and energy to be awakened.
But when the breath is harnessed through sacred mantras and vocal remembrance of Allah in sexual magic, that energy rises inward and upward to the brain and then to the heart.
Again, we emphasize that the chakras can only spin when there is water, transmuted sexual energy, within them, to circulate and provide energetic movement. Hence the importance of sexual purity within every religion, especially Sufism.
Al-Qushayri also provides an interesting explanation of the esoteric symbolism of water in the path of love in his Risalah: Principles of Sufism:
Some say that hub, love, is a name for purity of affection, because the bedouins when speaking of the pure whiteness and regularity of someone’s teeth use the expression habab al-asnan. —Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri
Why the purity of teeth? In Kabbalah the mouth signifies Da’ath, Marifah, sexual knowledge. To be pure in speech is to handle the sexual energy wisely, since sex and the throat connect through the spine. Everyone knows that adolescent boys acquire deep voices due to puberty, and likewise adolescent girls develop their voice further due to the maturation of the sexual organs and the development of hormones.
Al-Qushayri continues to explain the nature of divine eroticism and water:
Others say that since hubab is a word for the excess water that results from a heavy rain, mahabbah came to mean the heart’s boiling and stirring with the thirst and excitement of meeting the Beloved. Still others say the word is derived from habab al-ma, the greater part of a body of water, because love is the object of most of the heart’s concerns. —Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
Who is the Beloved? It is the Being. Yet a husband finds the Being present in his wife, and vice versa. In Christian terms, every man views his wife as the Divine Mother, Miriam, while every woman views her husband as the Divine Father, Joseph.
Here the waters overflow and saturate the heart when the couple knows how to conserve those forces, raising them from sex to the brain and then to the heart.
You can see that the Sufis use a sexual and erotic language for describing union with God, precisely because union with God occurs in the sexual act. Sadly, many people ignore this fact and come up with many superficial interpretations of the Sufi writings that ignore the necessity of sexual magic.
And sadly, people only see sexuality as something filthy and disgusting, to be indulged in or repressed, even though sexual magic serves a much more profound function than animal pleasure. As Rumi explained to his disciples regarding alchemy:
“If in thirst you drink water from a cup, you see Allah in it. Those who are not in love with Allah will see only their own faces in it.” —Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī
The cup is the holy grail, the feminine sexual organs, within which is filled the waters or manna of the desert, the creative energies that will arouse and satisfy our spiritual thirst.
In relation to this topic, Iranian mythology speaks of the cup of Jamshid, a holy grail filled with a divine elixir that grants the soul the capacity to perceive the seven heavens (the superior dimensions of the Tree of Life, as well as the seven chakras of the spinal medulla). The word Jamshid is an interesting acrostic: Jam signifies a gathering together, which is sexual. For husband and wife to be close to each other signifies intimacy, closeness, a gathering together. The cup or yoni is also the sacred emblem of Christianity in which the solar initiates gather around.
In the past, solar initiates would gather within the temples or mosques to celebrate the path of the Lord through prayer and ritual, which is the general etymological significance of the word "gathering." The word "church" in Greek, Εκκλησία Ekklisía, refers to a gathering place that belongs to divinity, kyriakos, the Lord. A church in esoterism is where the creative energies congregate within the spine, as with the seven churches or fully-developed chakras of the Book of Revelations.
There are alchemical meanings hidden within the Arabic language. Shid, pronounced “Sheed” reminds us of Shahid, “witness.” Therefore, Jamshid is the cup of gathering and witnessing, since none can witness or experience divinity without the sacred yoni, without working with the creative waters of life to awaken the powers of the spine and the mind.
As Al-Qushayri explains:
The expression ‘jam and tafriqah [or farq] is often used by the Sufis. Abu Ali al-Daqqaq used to say, “Separation (farq) is what you are given a share in. Gathering (jam) is what is removed from your power.” —Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
All of us are separated from our Being because of the original sin: lust. All of us fornicated and expelled ourselves from Eden, bliss. This occurred precisely because in the past, we did not respect sexuality or transmutation. Due to our own will, we separated ourselves from divinity.
Gathering is a term used to signify how one approaches divinity through the will of divinity. The disparate parts of the soul, once fractured and conditioned by ego, nafs, become unified and integrated by divine decree. Through comprehending, judging, and annihilating the shells or defects that condition consciousness, the Being achieves tawhid, unity within our psyche. And what higher way exists to reach divinity, according to the Sufis, than the sacrament of sexuality, a marriage, whereby the Being descends and helps us to tame the fires of love? Through the fires of love the egos are annihilated completely.
Al-Qushayri explains the alchemical meanings given by his teacher, Al-Daqqaq:
His meaning was that whatever pertains to servanthood [submission to divinity in sexual magic] and is attributed to the servant [the alchemist], whatever is linked to the conditions of being human [as a fornicator], is a form of farq, the separation between worshiper and Worshipped [because through the orgasm, we separate ourselves from the Worshipped, the divine]. Whatever proceeds from the Truth [al-Haqq, Haqiqah, the realizations born from Marifah, transmutation]—the generation of spiritual meaning and experience [since every true spiritual experience is born of the Genesiatic waters], the gifts of grace—is a form of gathering [jam], the coming together of worshiper and Worshipped. —Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
Therefore, people who are filled with a lot of sexual passion and animal desire will obviously look at the sexual act, the waters, as something carnal, bestial, as Rumi indicated. They see their own faces in it; they separate themselves more and more from divinity through fornication. Yet if the couple works to eliminate desire, egotism, nafs, from the psyche, to deny, comprehend, and annihilate lust, then the sexual act becomes something pure and holy, through which the Being, the divine, is present. Through scientific chastity, Marifah, the Being gathers us in worship of his presence, hudur, within the flames of love. This is the meaning of the Sufi technical terms awe and intimacy. We will speak about awe now but come back to intimacy in a short while.
The true nature of awe is absence [ghaybah], absence, being carried beyond oneself. [In sexual magic, one is no longer an separate individual, but united in the Being, for man and woman form one terrifically divine Elohim]. Everyone in awe is lost to himself [his animal ego, lusts, and desires]. —Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri
Remember the teachings of Proverbs, chapter 1 verse 7:
The fear [awe, Pechad] of Iod-Chavah is the beginning of knowledge [Da’ath, Marifah], but fools [fornicators] despise wisdom and instruction. —Proverbs 1:7
Awe and fear have the same meaning, to respect the creative sexual energy and never waste it, because to fornicate is to be a fool, to waste the sacred oil of the temple.
There is treasure to be desired and oil [שֶׁמֶן shemen, semen] in the dwelling [body or temple] of the wise; but a foolish man spendeth it up. —Proverbs 20 :21
What is more, Sufis in a state of awe differ in degree according to their detachment from or attachment to ordinary [egotistical] awareness [during sexual transmutation in a matrimony]. Some of them are greatly detached [from lust] and some of them are less so [because they are beginners in alchemy]. —Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri
All of this is represented by the lance of Longinus and the holy grail in Christianity. The lance is a symbol of the phallus, the masculine force that pierces our egos and annihilates them in the sexual act after we have achieved profound comprehension of such defects in meditation. Here we see the path of redemption for the soul: the union of husband and wife in the perfect matrimony.
Jesus taught alchemy very clearly in other verses, especially in his teaching the Samaritan woman at the well (a symbol of Yesod: the waters in our earth, Malkuth):
Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this (physical) water shall thirst again:
But whosoever drinketh of the (sublimated sexual) water (turned into energy) that I shall give him (in sexual magic, alchemy, tantra, Marifah) shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.
The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.
Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither. –John 4:13-16
The waters become a wellspring of eternal life when we conserve them. The water regenerates and provides life continually and therefore helps us to remain young, virile, and strong.
Many people think Jesus was dismissing the woman to go get her husband, as if he was ignoring her, but the answer to her question is clear: call thy husband if you want to learn how to use the waters that will give you eternal spiritual life.
Beautiful, no? But cryptic.
The Sufis, along with the gospels, explain the bliss of a marriage, although in a Middle Eastern way, through a heightened alchemical, kabbalistic sexual language.
Ali ibn Ubayd said, “Yahya ibn Muadh wrote to Abu Yazid, ‘I am intoxicated with how much I have drunk from the cup of love.’ Abu Yazid wrote back to him, ‘Someone else has drunk the oceans of the heavens and the earth and his thirst is not yet quenched. His tongue is hanging out and he is asking, “Is there any more?”’ —Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri
It is one thing to have an insatiable sexual desire or lust, animal passion, carnal attachments, it is a completely different thing to develop the genuine bliss and ecstasy of the soul during the same sexual act. Remember that in Hebrew, Eden means “pleasure” or “bliss.” It was the bliss humanity, symbolized by Adam and Eve, once enjoyed. Sex was once practiced in observance and remembrance of Allah, the Being, but when humanity indulged in the orgasm, in sexual desire, they expelled themselves from Eden, that blissful state.
Those who practice alchemy transform the seminal matter, the sexual waters, into conscious love, chastity, purity, light. When practicing alchemy once per day, no more, the couple rejuvenates the body, heart, and mind. In this sense, the soul’s thirst for divinity is not quenched no matter how much one transmutes from the cup of alchemy, the feminine yoni in sexual magic, because these waters constantly generate within our sexual organs. Because we receive the sexual energy anew every day, it is necessary to sublimate it daily.
Christ’s first miracle was the transmutation of water into wine. This again is symbolic, of how the couple transforms the seminal energies into the wine of the spirit. Such a wine inebriates the soul, as described within Sufism and Christianity.
And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there (again referring back to Miriam, the Divine Mother, who is going to be present at this miracle): And both Jesus (the Inner, Intimate Christ) was called, and his disciples, to the marriage. And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come (the Lord has not fully manifested within the spinal medullae of the married couple yet, since they are learning to transmute for the first time). His mother [Miriam] saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it. And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece. Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it. When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now. This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him. –John 2:1-11
Even though it is forbidden in Islam to drink alcohol, the Sufis use the language of intoxication and drinking to talk about experiences with God in alchemy. It signifies being drunk on God, being intoxicated with love. These initiates always treated sex with respect, as something sacred, unlike our humanity today. The Sufis treated sex with balance, neither something to repress or indulge in as something filthy, but through a comprehensive, middle way, by utilizing sex in its true purpose and function: to generate the soul.
Many of these Sufi masters were, of course, married, since every man needs a wife, and every wife needs a husband. These masters did not make alchemy public, but practiced Marifah in secrecy, since this teaching was not explained openly until recently, in the 1950’s with the publication of The Perfect Matrimony by Samael Aun Weor.
Intoxication and Sobriety
In gnosis, we seek to become drunk on the love of the divine. We previously spoke about gnostic and Sufi psychology, how the consciousness must become inebriated by divine energy, so as to awaken from its slumber. Now we are delving into the physiological and alchemical aspects of this knowledge, the secret path of Marifah, some practical components for sexual magic.
In Revelation of the Mystery by Al-Hujwiri, a Persian Sufi master, he explains that there are two kinds of intoxication. His teaching is in relation to Persian and Arabic kabbalah, the symbolic mystical language of the consciousness within Middle Eastern discourse.
There are two kinds of intoxication: (1) with the wine of affection (mawaddat) and (2) with the cup of love (muhabbat). The former is “caused” (ma’lul), since it arises from regarding the benefit (ni’mat); but the latter has no cause, since it arises from regarding the benefactor (mun’im). –Al-Hujwiri, Revelation of the Mystery
The “wine of affection” is caused, brought about by the couple’s individual desires, lust, animality, nafs or egos. They provoke the sexual act because they are filled with lust or passion. They do not unite out of dhikr, remembrance of divinity, to remember the presence, hudur, of divinity, as they sexually connect. These types of people do not comprehend what the cup of love signifies, because they are fornicators.
To drink from the cup of love is to practice chastity. Chastity does not signify abstention from sex, but purity in sex—to not reach the animal spasm or orgasm; to not fornicate, to not be burned by the fornix, furnace of the body through the emission of the sexual energy.
It also signifies restraining lustful thoughts, feelings, and impulses in the three brains. This is difficult for beginners, but something gnostic matrimonies learn through practice and discipline.
The cup of love, sexual magic, is not caused by one’s own will, but by the will of the Innermost Beings within husband and wife. This signifies consciousness of divinity within the sexual act, the Benefactor, mun'im, which etymologically relates to the Arabic word for believer, al-mumin, a term for an alchemist.
He who regards the benefit sees through himself and therefore sees himself (meaning his desires, egotism, lust), but he who regards the benefactor sees through Him (the Being) and therefore does not see himself (as ego), so that, although he is intoxicated (drunk on that pleasure of sexual union), his intoxication is sobriety (there is control and transmutation of the sexual energy; one is sober-headed and rational because the couple are not slaves of desire). –Al-Hujwiri, Revelation of the Mystery
To be sober in Sufi terms is to be in control of one’s energies in the sexual act. One dominates sex with the consciousness, redirecting the animal impulse of desire and transmuting it up the spine. Those people who let themselves be carried away by the pleasures of sex culminate in the orgasm. Thereafter their sexuality governs their mind and they fall downward into the abyss, forming the inverted pentagram.
We are five-pointed stars, with two hands, two legs, and one head. When we control sex, we stand upright, made into the psychological image of the divine. If sex governs our head, we precipitate downwards towards the atomic infernos, the hell realms of Islam, so as to eat the bitter leaves of the Tree of Zaqqum as mentioned in the Qur’an, a symbol of spiritual death and suffering of the consciousness. This is the left-hand path of sorcery and black magic, the path of demons.
The right-hand path is the path of the initiates, the solar way. Therefore, we must transform the moon into a sun!
In the image of this slide, the Goddess Luna is extending her hands towards the moon or lunar power of Yesod, the sexual energy. The sexual energy is a lunar, creative force that we must transform into a sun through alchemy. It is by working with this energy that we learn to comprehend the enigmatic language of the Sufis, since this energy opens the door to comprehension for us.
Remember that psyche was asleep and later awakened through Eros, Cupid, the god of love, the erotic energy. When that power is utilized by a couple, then they begin to understand the mystical meaning of sobriety and intoxication.
Sobriety also is classified in two ways, according to al-Hujwiri.
Sobriety is also of two kinds: sobriety in heedlessness (ghaflat) and sobriety in love (mahabbat). The former is the greatest of veils, but the latter is the clearest of revelations. —Al-Hujwiri, Revelation of the Mystery
What does it mean to be sober in heedlessness? To be heedless is to act as an animal, to not follow the sixth commandment of divinity: “Thou shalt not fornicate.” It signifies a lack of practice or spiritual discipline, to not work against the ego, but to fortify it through mistaken habits and the sleep of our consciousness. It means to feed pride, anger, lust, greed, vanity, etc. To not work with the spirit, ruh, is to be reckless, careless in genuine spiritual terms. If we have no consciousness of divinity, if we do not meditate, then we are heedless. Therefore, all of us fall in this category until we learn this science and apply it.
Those who are sober in divine love practice alchemy and know how to conserve the seminal energy and never lose one drop of it. This energy therefore produces the clearest of revelations, since as Samael Aun Weor explains, many initiates know how to enter into the ecstasy of the spirit, to manifest God within, through mastering the sexual act.
The sobriety that is connected with heedlessness is really intoxication, while that which is linked with love, although it be intoxication, is really sobriety. —Al-Hujwiri, Revelation of the Mystery
Obviously, the language is tricky. The Sufis were always playing with donkey-headed intellectuals who have no intuition. But their wisdom is clear to other initiates. They wrote in this manner to evade persecution and scandals.
Anyone who gives into fear, pride, envy, hate, lust, desire, is heedless. To give into those negative psychological qualities is to be drunk in a very bad sense. Many people are drunk off their ideas, theories, beliefs, and more importantly their sense of self, their ego, the “me,” “myself,” and “I.” This is the state of identification, fascination, and sleep of the consciousness. The heedless hear about esoterism and rationalize, ignoring instruction. They are heedless and drunk off the opium of theories, which Samael Aun Weor stated is worse than death.
But that alchemical experience that is linked with love, although it be intoxication through the sexual energy, is really sobriety, sensible. To use that power for spiritual life is really the most sensible thing. This is what it means to be sober-headed, to not be carried away by passion. But lunatics, idiots, fornicators, enjoy expelling the energy of Eden from themselves:
The fear of the LORD (respect for the sexual energy) is the beginning of knowledge (Marifah), but fools despise wisdom and instruction. —Proverbs 1:7
When the principle (asl) is firmly established, sobriety and intoxication resemble one another, but when the principle is wanting, both are baseless. —Al-Hujwiri, Revelation of the Mystery
So what is this principle (asl)? Sexual alchemy, scientific chastity, to connect sexually with one’s partner, as husband and wife, and to never lose one drop of semen, that precious energy, but to transmute it, elevate it. Through transmutation, one is continually intoxicated by that light generated through the sexual cooperation of the couple.
As the couple practices sexual magic, husband and wife never lose their attraction for one another, because the energy of attraction and magnetism is never expelled, but sublimated. The couple then charges one another with divine power. Through this principle of sexual alchemy, husband and wife remain intoxicated by love for one another, and also remain sober-headed. They comprehend that the ego is the source of disorder and divorce. So, couples who practice sexual alchemy are better off for preserving their union, because fornication leads to suffering and expulsion from sexual bliss. This is how marriages can succeed, rather than end in divorce, which is very common nowadays.
A matrimony can be one’s heaven or one’s hell. Here we are teaching how couples can continually magnetize and charge each other, so that they remain in happiness.
When the principle of alchemy is not present within a couple, sobriety and intoxication are baseless, meaning: they have no foundation in the science of Yesod: the Foundation of Kabbalah. Marriages founded on fornication, the orgasm, are pointless, baseless in a spiritual sense. When people know nothing of transmutation, the terms sobriety and intoxication take on different meanings. The sobriety of fornicators consists of all the degenerated theories in this day and age that adamantly defend the orgasm. Humanity does everything it can to explain why fornication is healthy and necessary. People also speak a lot about feeding one's desires at all costs, being intoxicated not only by alcohol and drugs, but by anger, lust, pride, and greed. This is what it means to have no foundation, to "build one's house upon the sand of theories," which, after the first provocation of a storm or consequences of karma, will tumble and fall into the abyss.
We must become true believers and followers of divinity through learning how to be through the libido. Chastity is essential and constitutes our foundation. As the Qur’an teaches us in Surah Al-Nur, the “Surah of the Light”, verses 30 and 31:
Tell the believing men to reduce [some] of their vision and guard their private parts. That is purer for them. Indeed, Allah is Acquainted with what they do.
And tell the believing women to reduce [some] of their vision and guard their private parts and not expose their adornment except that which [necessarily] appears thereof and to wrap [a portion of] their headcovers over their chests and not expose their adornment except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands' fathers, their sons, their husbands' sons, their brothers, their brothers' sons, their sisters' sons, their women, that which their right hands possess, or those male attendants having no physical desire, or children who are not yet aware of the private aspects of women. And let them not stamp their feet to make known what they conceal of their adornment. And turn to Allah in repentance, all of you, O believers, that you might succeed. -Qur'an
In synthesis, the Light Surah indicates that you cannot have spiritual light if you are not chaste.
Many students who begin our gnostic studies complain about lust. Whenever they walk across the street in the cities, their eyes are bewildered by the sight of attractive men and women. The work of transforming lustful impressions is always most difficult for new initiates, which is why women in Islam, initially, wore their hijab or headcovers to prevent the lustful eye. Whether this tradition is really being practiced well after the time of the Prophet is another thing…
But let us continue elaborating on the language of the Sufis:
In short, where true mystics tread, sobriety and intoxication are the effect of difference (ikhtilaf)… —Al-Hujwiri, Revelation of the Mystery
The word mystic comes from the Greek root word myein, to close the eyes. This signifies a person who meditates. In this case, the meditators, husband and wife, have been initiated into the sexual mysteries. For true mystics, sobriety signifies sexual purity, chastity, not in the form of abstention or celibacy, but by being pure in the sexual act.
For beginners on the mystic path, intoxication refers to fornication, since people get drunk on the orgasm. When people think of sex, that is all they think about, ignoring that sex can be founded on purity and spiritual love. Sobriety for the mystic therefore is the opposite, to be rational, controlling the sexual energy.
…and when the Sultan of Truth (the Being, Allah, the divine) displays his beauty, both sobriety and intoxication appear to be intruders (tufayli), because the boundaries of both are joined, and the end of the one is the beginning of the other, and the beginning and end are terms that imply separation, which has only a relative existence. In union all separations are negated, as the poet says— “When the morning star of wine rises, The drunken and the sober are as one.” —Al-Hujwiri, Revelation of the Mystery
When the Being expresses Himself within the couple, the beauty and love that husband and wife feel during the sexual act is the truest consubstantiation and fulfillment of divine love. As Fyodor Dostoevsky once stated, “Human love is a reflection of divine love.” For the couple that unifies in compassion and selflessness, out of virtue and purity, of genuine conscious love and understanding, the terms “intoxication” and “sobriety” become concepts and intellectual terms that miss the meaning: since the couple is so lost in the ecstasy and compassion of the Being. The intellect becomes an obstacle. The consciousness, usually hypnotized by the duality and relativity of the mind, becomes absorbed within divinity, the perfect unity, thereby transcending creation.
In sexual union, all separation is negated, because husband and wife become one angelic being with the capacity to create divine life. There is no difference between them, since the egos, the intruders or infidels, are not present, the nafs are absent during the ecstasy.
…as the poet says— “When the morning star of wine rises, The drunken and the sober are as one.” —Al-Hujwiri, Revelation of the Mystery
This is a beautiful teaching by Hujwiri. Who is the drunken one? The soul that is drunk on God, being united with divinity through one’s wife, as a husband, and one’s husband, as a wife.
Who is the sober one? The Being, the Real, the Truth, al-Haqq.
The morning star is Venus, the Divine Mother, wherein the waters of sex are sublimated into spiritual wine, the Kundalini up the spinal medulla. When the sexual fires rise from the base of the spine and illuminate the brain, then the two aspects of Jehovah, Jah-Chavah, are united, Kundalini Shakti—Chavah, the intoxicated from below—marrying Her divine husband, the masculine aspect of the Holy Spirit, Jah, the sober one, the real, in the brain. Together they signify Jehovah.
This is the esoteric Sufi meaning of intimacy. For as Al-Qushayri explains:
The true nature of intimacy [sexual magic and union with God] is rightly sobriety [sahw]. In truth, the condition of balance after mystical experience [samadhi with one’s wife or husband in tantrism, Marifah]. Everyone who becomes intimate with God becomes sober and clear. Such people vary according to the strength of their experience [in chastity, being able to restrain animal desire to a specific degree]. About this the Sufis say, “The lowest stage of intimacy with God is that if one were thrown into a blazing fire [when the fires of sexuality are active between husband and wife, which they must dominate and control], one’s intimacy [concentration and chastity, sexual purity] would not be disturbed.” —Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri
Therefore, if you are lustful, you will only see lust in sex. But the great alchemists know how to see divinity and the seven heavens within the cup of gathering and witnessing, Jamshid.
Sufi Dance and Intimacy with God
Many Sufi dances signify the path of intimacy with God. In the film Meetings with Remarkable Men (a biographical drama about Master Gurdjieff), there is one dance in particular that depicts these alchemical concepts. At the end of the film, Gurdjieff finds a Sufi school of initiation wherein he witnesses a group of turbaned initiates dance and perform the runic alphabet, which are a series of yogic postures used with mantras in order to accumulate energy. Eight men dance in the same spot as they position their body in the form of runic letters, so as to attract the powers of divinity and perform sexual transmutation. Two other men meditate on the sides with their arms crossed in the Egyptian style, with the right arm over the left. The most notable of the dancers is in the center, the ninth man moving in a clockwise circle, demonstrating the positive rotation of the chakras. His arms are crossed since he is not performing the runes, and his centrality and firmness in the dance illustrates his universal role as the Being.
The ninth figure among the dancers, the center initiate, also refers to the strength, solidarity, and power of Yesod, the ninth sephirah of the Tree of Life, which is the creative power of divinity. This is the power that can dominate the ego.
The tenth figure dances in a drunken stupor around the man in the center. The drunken, intoxicated man is the soul, nafs, or ego that must be dominated by willpower. The intoxicated man is silently guided by the somewhat stationary, central figure, the Being or sober one.
The man in the center has his arms crossed in the Muslim style, with the right arm over the left, demonstrating how the right-hand solar path dominates the left-hand lunar path. He does not show any acquiescence to the drunken man, but is firm, in control, leading the drunken initiate towards submission (Islam) to Him. The Being, the real or sober one, accomplishes this feat through the path of meditation and transmutation.
The ten men dancing in the center are the ten sephiroth of the Tree of Life. The drunken man is Malkuth, the physical person filled with vices, while the man in the center is Chesed, the spirit. The two men at the sides represent the two pillars of Kabbalah, Jakin and Boaz, which support the entirety of our psychological and spiritual temple.
There are other dances depicted in this film, but we don't have time to comment on all of them.
All of this dance is accomplished through the power of sex, symbolized by the movement of creative energy through the runes. No matter how drunk or egotistical the soul is, God is immovable, commanding, as we see in the example of the central dancer. Through exercises like runes (used to develop willpower and control), the consciousness becomes trained for sexual magic. With years of discipline, the fires of intimacy (in sexual alchemy) do not disturb the initiates' concentration, but remain in check, as the wild egotistical mind bows humbly in submission before divinity in this dance.
The Sacred Name of God in Islam
The Arabic name of divinity also hides this mystery. الله Allah signifies “the God.” Illaha signifies goddess. ا Alif, the breath, is the Hebrew א Aleph, prana, wind, spirit, ruh, since both Arabic and Hebrew are Semitic languages bearing the same roots in Kabbalah, the language of the consciousness and of God.
الله Allah begins with ا Alif, which is a separate, elongated straight line, a masculine and phallic letter. This is the sacred fire of Kundalini that rises within the spine. الله Allah ends in ه Ha, a feminine letter in esotericism that references the feminine yoni, the vagina. The yoni is a circle and the phallus is a line, which are easy to see in ا Alif and ه Ha.
The two ل lams of the sacred Arabic name of God each represent a person, man and woman, in esoterism. The Hebrew equivalent is ל Lamed, which references the tongue or speech. When man and wife unite in the sexual act to transmute, pronounce mantras, to recite the sacred verb, they are working with الله Allah, Elohim, the divine.
This is equivalent to the Hebrew אל “El,” the spirit, Chesed in Kabbalah, ruh in Arabic “Elah,” or “Eloah” also means Goddess. El is masculine. Eloah or Elah is feminine.
As we've been stating, divinity expresses through the sexual energy. One of the sacred names of divinity in Arabic is Al Wadud (الودود), "the Loving, the Kind One." Likewise we find Al Khaaliq (الخالق), "the Creator." Where else within a human being do we find the possibilities for creation through love? It is in sexual union.
Alchemical knowledge is included in the sacred name Al Wadud, which contains two ו vavs or و waws. ו Vav or و waw can be pronounced as a vowel, such as an a, o, or u sound. و Waw or ו Vav is a spinal column and brain, represented by the straight line and top point of ו vav, and the circle and curved line of و waw. Ibn 'Arabi states that و waw connects the human being with the angels, the divine. Al Wadud has two و waws, one for man and one for woman, wherein the Kundalini rises and unites the couple with الله Allah. Divine unification is also represented by the two د dals or ד Daleths of Al Wadud, indicating two dervishes or initiates, one man and one woman, entering the doorway of alchemical knowledge: the science of the perfect matrimony, Da'ath or marifah in Arabic.
The sexual power of divinity is well reflected within the Qur'an by the following verses:
Then We made the sperm-drop into a clinging clot, and We made the clot into a lump [of flesh], and We made [from] the lump, bones, and We covered the bones with flesh; then We developed him into another creation. So blessed is Allah, the best of creators. —Surah al-Mu'minun, "The Believers," verse 14
After these explanations, it's logical to see, from this verse, that the power of divinity is in sex.
While the creative energy can create a physical child, this verse from the Qu'ran teaches about the creation of the solar bodies, the vehicles of the soul, a type of psychic matter or flesh that does not belong to fornication, but to chastity. These vehicles include: the body of liberation (Yesod, the superior aspect of Malkuth), the solar astral (Hod), solar mental (Netzach), and solar causal (Tiphereth); in total, these are the lower five sephiroth of the Tree of Life, the Kabbalah.
Mozart’s Abduction from the Seraglio
To sum up these Sufi and Gnostic teachings, we have the following excerpt from Mozart’s Opera, Die Entführung aus dem Serail, The Abduction from the Seraglio. Mozart was a Freemason and a master of Major Mysteries who knew Sufism in depth, along with Beethoven and other initiates. These masters knew the mysteries of the occult stone, the Kaaba of Yesod.
In this opera, Belmonte, a Spanish nobleman, tries to rescue his betrothed, Konstanze, with his servant Pedrillo. She was captured by pirates at sea and sent to a harem, an Arabic den of prostitution, to be the slave of Bassa Selim, the Pasha or ruler of Seraglio. Konstanze is under watch and supervision from Osmin, a Muslim guard, whom Pedrillo tricks into drinking wine to intoxicate him and lead him to sleep. Once Osmin is asleep, Pedrillo and Belmonte make their escape attempt with Konstanze.
All of this is symbolic and invites us to reflect…
Konstanze is constancy, chastity, our divine soul trapped within whoredom, within the prostitution of animal ego, lust, desire, nafs. Belmonte is her future husband, whose Spanish name signifies “beautiful mountain,” “Bel-Monte.” He is Tiphereth in Kabbalah, the human soul or warrior who must fight to liberate the trapped consciousness. When he conquers the ego, then he can marry his divine soul. Tiphereth is our will or capacity to climb the beautiful mountain of initiation, which he accomplishes through Pedrillo, his servant.
Pedrillo is “little Peter,” or little Pedro, signifying a “stone.” Peter is also slang for a phallus. He is the little power of Yesod, the little stone that David, Tiphereth, used to conquer Goliath, the ego, who is represented in this opera as Osmin, a giant bass whose voice inspires fear.
Pedrillo gives Osmin wine to drink, which the guard, being Muslim, first denies. And yet Osmin is tempted by the wine and drinks, ending up drunk and incapacitated, so that Pedrillo, Belmonte, and Konstanze can make their escape.
The symbolism of wine we’ve already explained: it is the energy of sex that inebriates the soul and slackens the ego, putting it to sleep, to make it inactive.
Osmin, the ego, gets drunk off the wine and falls asleep. That energy, harnessed in meditation, has the power to put our defects to sleep so that the consciousness can escape from its shells and conditioning to experience samadhi, represented by Pedrillo’s tenor singing, the elevation of the soul.
Both Pedrillo and Osmin sing about women when praising Bacchus, god of wine, the sexual potency. One can either praise women with chastity or praise women with lust and desire. Both polarities are expressed here in Mozart’s aria, “Vivat Bacchus,” “long live Bacchus!” Osmin praises fornication, but Pedrillo, little Peter, knows how to be chaste. Here we clearly see how sex is the power of liberation or damnation of the soul!
Osmin also reminds us of the Rune Os, Othilla, Thelema, the rune of willpower, whereby single practitioners can learn to transmute their creative energies. Min or Minah in Kabbalistic language is sex. Interesting, no? Why would Mozart name Osmin, the ego, after the Rune Os, and the sexual mysteries of sex, Mina, the Menorah?
Light is generated through conquering fire, through not giving into temptation in the sexual act, to not eat the forbidden fruit and to not culminate in the orgasm. We must instead conserve that light inside. Temptation is fire. Triumph over temptation is light, virtues, comprehension, cognizance. We must steal the fire from the devil!
The sexual energy, the power of Bacchus-Dionysus, is precisely a drink for the Gods, Elohim. This aria is not just about a man getting a Muslim guard drunk, but symbolizes two paths for using the wine of light. When husband and wife are sexually united, they are a truly divine being. When the couple truly practices chastity, the ego, Osmin, is put to sleep, so husband and wife can enjoy sex with purity, to breathe the aromas of the tree of knowledge without eating its fruit…
Remember that the word Seraglio, the harem or den of prostitution, carries the three vowels I.A.O., Ser-Ah-gl-IO. This is because the power of IAO, Jehovah, is polarized negatively through lust within our mind, which is represented by the harem.
Mozart was a great master of Kabbalah, as you can see, which he taught in a synthetic, symbolic and comprehensive way.
Alchemy and the Garden of Gethsemane
Here we see Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane with the chalice of redemption, whereby an angel presents him his cross, symbol of the perfect matrimony, before Christ performs his Passion. Here Jesus was praying before his crucifixion, a symbol of the death of desire, the ego, upon the cross of alchemy. Remember also that the chalice is a symbol of the feminine sexual organs, through which the husband extracts the elixir or manna of spiritual life.
The Garden of Gethsemane precisely represents the garden of Eden, bliss, a matrimony. Gethsemane is the garden of Yesod whereby the Lord is betrayed, since Judas, sexual desire, submits him to the Jewish authorities, the different egos, to be tested, contested, and condemned.
Jesus represents the human soul, Tiphereth, united with Chokmah, Christ, an alchemical amalgamation known as the Son of Man. Here the master prays before the work of completely annihilating his ego. He states, “Father, if it be possible, pass this cup (representing sexual magic) of bitterness from me. But not my will, but Thine be done.”
This path of sexual magic is one of sacrifice of desire. To renounce lust and the orgasm is painful for the ego, but constitutes the intoxication of the soul. It’s obvious then why many people begin but few reach the end. But those who persevere in daily transmutation, death of the ego, and selfless service for others, become constantly inebriated by the divine. They never forget their work because they never forget their Being.
Many people cringe when discovering the necessity of compassion, selflessness, and love for humanity. We recommend that students reflect upon the life of Jesus, who when being nailed to the cross, when he was humiliated beyond comprehension, the only thing he said was “Father, forgive them: they know not what they do.”
This is a type of compassion we strive and struggle to develop, especially within a marriage, when cultivating the powers of our “garden,” our physicality. This is difficult precisely due to our conditioning, which obscures and prevents us from really accessing this state. But if we learn to see the other person’s point of view, we develop the will and perception of Christ, one who does not react to life, but responds. It is one thing to react egotistically to situations, but another thing to respond with cognizance, compassion, and love, with selflessness, thinking and acting only for the benefit of the other person. In this way, we can still establish boundaries and be firm with others who need it, but not with anger—instead, one uses kindness. This is a more potent force than any ego, any defect.
The way that you really develop divine love, the hardest and best way is in a marriage. Despite a couple’s love and affinity, the worst conflicts the disciple faces is upon the cross, during sexual union. Husband and wife must learn to sacrifice their defects to truly love one another. Crucifixion symbolizes the pain one goes through in the alchemical work, in the disintegration of the ego. One can only transcend such pain through comprehension and annihilation of one’s defects in meditation, or, after having comprehended an ego, asking for its annihilation upon the cross, within the sexual act, as explained in The Mystery of the Golden Blossom and The Perfect Matrimony by Samael Aun Weor.
They recited: I’m amazed at someone who says, “I’ve remembered my darling.” Have I ever forgotten (my Being), that I should have to remember? I die (to my ego) remembering You (my Being), then come back to (spiritual) life. Were it not for my good thought of You, I would not have revived. Desire’s object lives (my Being continues) when I die to (egotistical) desire. How many times have I lived for you, how many times died (through the comprehension and disintegration of each of my defects)? I drink love (transmuted water, muhabbah), glass after glass (day after day in alchemy; only once per day in observance of the creative magnetic pause mentioned in The Mystery of the Golden Blossom by Samael Aun Weor). The (alchemical) glass (my sexual organs) is not empty (because the seminal matter is always being generated, but transmuted by the alchemists). My (spiritual) thirst is not sated (I will not cease my transmutations, but strive forward). —Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri
1. Continue to develop your self-observation from moment to moment. At the end of each day, reflect on conscious you were of your three brains (mind, heart, and body).
2. Every day, sit in a comfortable meditation posture (sitting upright either on a meditation bench / cushion, or Western-style: in a chair). Relax your mind, heart, and body.
3. Vocalize the mantras OM MASI PADME HUM to develop divine compassion and to transform the energies of your body into spiritual fire and spiritual light. Pronounce this mantra for thirty minutes or more.
This mantra translates as “Oh my internal God!”
The seven chakras are awakened by this mantra:
(Detail of Christ, during the Last Judgment, showing the two paths of awakening, indicated by the flowers of spirituality for the virtuous, and the sword of condemnation and justice for sinners; artist: Memling)
This is a transcription of an audio lecture from The Sufi Path of Self-knowledge, originally given live at the Chicagoland Gnostic Academy:
Gnosticism pertains to a very special form of self-knowledge or self-analysis, popularized through the famous Greek maxim on the Temple of Delphi: Homo Nosce Te Ipsum, otherwise translated as: “Man, know thyself, and you will know the universe and the Gods!” The Greek word Gnosis is knowledge, but not intellectual knowledge. It is knowledge that which we acquire from our experience, that which we gain from our perception. It is not based on supposition, theory, belief, skepticism, or argumentation. It is something that we know for a fact, and there is no convincing otherwise. Gnosis is the defined result of our actions and is verified through experimentation in a scientific manner. We look at scientific facts, spiritual facts.
For as the founder of the modern Gnostic tradition, Samael Aun Weor, stated in The Revolution of the Dialectic:
“Gnosis is lived upon facts, withers away in abstractions, and is difficult to find even in the noblest of thoughts.”
Therefore when we approach spirituality, when we seek to understand religion, we must be precise. We must be specific and technical with our terminology, with our approach, our analysis, practice and methodology. We cannot indulge in vain, ambiguous and incipient beliefs, conceptualizing that we are a certain way, that we are “spiritual” because we think a certain way or belong to a specific group, that we are somehow special beings deserving praise. Because the truth is, when we examine the facts, when we look at humanity, when we look at ourselves, when we examine our daily sufferings, we find that this planet is in chaos. Many people amongst so-called “spiritual” circles talk about a new Golden Age, and that we are in it. Yet if we soberly examine the evidence, we find that humanity is not in a Golden Age, but has precipitated itself on the path of destruction.
Everybody suffers. No one on this planet, no sentient being, no person that is met on the streets of the cities, can be said to be happy, specifically since such people suffer incredibly. But why? Why do we suffer? What causes our pain? We can easily blame the government, the political establishment, the Democrats, the Republicans, or our friends, our job, co-workers, our spouse. These things belong to the external world, and sadly this is all people think about. But what are the secret, internal triggers that produce the calamities we are now all too familiar with? What in us truly makes us suffer and why?
All of humanity’s destructive habits, addictions, desires, and wishes run contrary to divine law. Just as the physical universe is governed by laws, so too is spiritual life. There are laws that govern the establishment, development, and perfection of the soul, laws delivered unto humanity through all the world’s great prophets, religions and scriptures. The reason why people live in such disharmony and agony is due to their internal, psychological imbalances, their inability to conform their psyche, consciousness, or mind, towards the commandments, laws and instructions given by the messengers of the divine.
Therefore when beginning these studies, we ask ourselves the following fundamental questions:
“Who are we? Where do we come from? Where are we going? What are we living for? Why are we living?” —Samael Aun Weor, Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology
Everyone believes that they know themselves, that they are conscious beings, that they know what they do, and yet the facts speak contrary to this. We firmly believe in our customs, our language, and our creed—our job, country, flag, party, name, culture, race, and habits, are qualities born in time and that die in time. And yet the consciousness, the soul, does not belong to these things. Therefore, who are we?
People believe they are awake. People believe that they know themselves. Likewise, in spiritual studies, many people have different conceptions of the term “awakening,” which is the focus of this lecture. Countless so-called “spiritual” groups entertain ideas regarding awakening which are contradictory, inconclusive, vague, ambiguous, obscure, or simply confusing, definitions that are in conflict with the scriptures given by the great masters of spirituality, whether Buddha, Krishna, Jesus, Moses, and the prophets. Awakening is a popular term, but how is it practical? What does it mean to awaken?
Some people use the term awakening to relate to an inspiration, a sudden inclination to study religion or spirituality. This is basic. This is, however, a fundamental first step. Also, the awakening we seek to understand is not physical. It is not only the awakening of our physical senses when arriving from sleep: our sight, taste, touch, hearing, and smell. Neither is awakening related to thought, thinking, concepts, sentimentalizing, believing, theorizing, holding on to ideas about ourselves or conjecturing about a philosophy with the intellect, believing something fully with our heart, yet not really knowing anything.
As I mentioned, awakening has nothing to do with our name, our job, our language, customs, culture, habits, beliefs, and family. These things came with birth and they end with death. But the consciousness, that which we call soul, is beyond these things. The consciousness belongs to the divine, to God. When I refer to God, I am not referring to an anthropomorphic old man sitting on a cloud of tyranny dispensing thunderbolts and lightning upon this poor ant-hill of a humanity. That is not the God we speak of, but God as an intelligence, as Being, as presence, light, cognizance, which we must learn to access within ourselves when we know how.
In strict esoteric or secret Buddhism, only a buddha, a master, knows himself completely and is free from suffering. An awakened one is a buddha, which is a term originating from the Sanskrit root word budh, signifying “awakening,” “consciousness,” “cognizance,” which also relates to the word Bodhi, meaning “wisdom,” or “enlightenment.” This is cognizance of one’s inner divinity, the root of life and our most genuine happiness, which begins as a spark, and transforms into a flame when we know how to cultivate this light.
This profound state of awakening pertains to knowing divinity directly, the pure, pristine, and clear consciousness of nature’s laws and the soul’s conformity to them, devoid of personhood, a universal state of being. This is a result of cause and effect, and produces joy, freedom from defect or flaws. This psychological state transcends all pain, self, and conception, as demonstrated in the story of Gautama Buddha Shakyamuni questioned by a brahman.
A Hindu priest was met by the Buddha. Being astounded by Gautama’s happiness, peace, and presence, he successively asked him, “Are you a deva (a god)?” “Are you a gandhabba (heavenly being)? Are you a yakkha (a nature spirit)?” To which the Buddha replied:
"The fermentations by which I would go
to a deva-state,
or become a gandhabba in the sky,
or go to a yakkha-state and human-state:
Those have been destroyed by me,
ruined, their stems removed.
Like a blue lotus, rising up,
unsmeared by water,
unsmeared am I by the world,
and so, brahman,
I'm awake." —Dona Sutta
People believe that they are awake. Having energy in the morning, getting up from the sleep of the physical body, constitutes a minimal level of perception and consciousness. The type of awakening we speak of in our Gnostic studies relates to spiritual perception, the development of divine faculties, which some refer to as out-of-body experiences, astral travel, lucid dreaming, awakening one’s awareness within the dream state or dream world, to speak face to face with divinity, with angelic beings, directly. This is something very clear and sharp. These are not hypothetical situations. They are not vague, cloudy, obscure, disorganized, nonsensical, chaotic, like the dreams most people relate when they seek interpretations.
The awakening we refer to is the direct result of putting specific scientific procedures into place, a new form of discipline we engage with. Awakening has one purpose: to gain knowledge of divinity by understanding the causes of suffering in ourselves, thereby removing such causes through cognizance, comprehension, and superlative analysis resulting from experience. We seek to change how we perceive life by removing that which filters our perception, in order that we possess pure, objective and divine cognizance. This is why Friedrich Nietzsche wrote in Thus Spoke Zarathustra: “You must be ready to burn yourself in your own flame; how could you rise anew if you have not first become ashes!”
As you see in this opening image, we have Sufi disciple, a master of the mystical or esoteric teachings of Islam, in prayer. Islam in Arabic means “submission to God’s will.” We must submit to the divine will and divine laws if what we want is to become a new being, an awakened one, a phoenix bird that rises from out of its own ashes.
We are going to examine the nature of awakening in relation to the Sufi tradition, the mystics of Islam and of the Middle East, due to the simplicity, profundity, and accessibility of such teachings for beginners, as well as to show the universal nature of this wisdom.
He Who Knows Himself Knows His Lord
There are levels and levels of consciousness. Consciousness is light, the capacity to perceive not only physical phenomena, but spiritual noumena, the truth behind things, spiritual principles.
The 14th Dalai Lama explained that we must develop the conviction, based on practical works, that the consciousness has the capacity to expand to an infinite degree. Such a statement parallels the Qur'an's teaching in verse 35 of Surah al-Nur, the Light Surah, which profoundly states: “Light upon light!” And as Prophet Muhammad exclaimed in verse 114 of Surah Ta Ha: “My Lord, increase me in knowledge!”
The path of self-knowledge can be depicted through a marvellous ladder, wherein we ascend through the application of spiritual discipline and works. This is the same Jacob's ladder in the Old Testament, whereby he witnessed the angels ascending and descending.
The Sufis corroborate the teachings of the Greek Temple of Delphi through the following proverb: “He who knows himself knows his Lord.” Likewise, they also explain how to arrive at consciousness of divinity within oneself through the application and understanding of spiritual practice.
Spiritual law, practice or discipline pertains to Sharia in Arabic, which in Sufism does not literally pertain to the exoteric, punitive laws of Muslim countries, but to how we awaken consciousness so as to know divinity in different levels, degree by degree. It is by following good conduct in our daily life that we will come to know divinity, the path, the ladder that ascends to higher states of consciousness, the way of experience, the truth, known as Haqiqah in Sufism. Here is what the Sufi master Al-Qushayri had to say about this topic in his Risalah: Principles of Sufism:
The divine Law commands one to the duty of servanthood. The Way, the inner reality, is the contemplation of divine lordship. Outward religious practice not confirmed by inner reality is not acceptable. Inner reality not anchored by outward religious practice is not acceptable. Divine Law brings obligation upon the creation, while the Way is founded upon the free action [or experience] of the Real. The divine Law is that you serve Him. The Way is that you see Him.
The divine Law is doing what you have been ordered to do. Haqiqah is bearing witness to what He has determined and ordained, hidden and revealed. I heard Abu Ali al-Daqqaq say that God's saying [in the Opening Chapter, Al-Fatihah of Al-Qur'an] iyyaka nabudu—"You we worship"—preserves the outward practice, the divine Law. Iyyaka nastain—"to You we turn for help"—establishes the inner reality, the Way.
Know that religious obligation is a spiritual reality in that it was made necessary by His command. And spiritual reality, as well, is a religious obligation, in that the realizations of Him were also made necessary by His command. —Al Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
This is the law of cause and effect. If you want to awaken your conscious, spiritual perception, unfiltered, unobstructed by limited notions of self, you must fulfill the requisites of religion: be a good person; do not lie; do not steal; do not fornicate; do not adulterate; do not commit sexual misconduct; do not steal; etc.
Certain behaviors and habits are the result of conditioned consciousness, defects and errors, and constitute actions that produce and perpetuate suffering. Positive, virtuous actions are the result of awakened, unconditioned and free consciousness, of divine remembrance, and help to produce and perpetuate happiness for oneself and others. Positive actions aid us in removing the conditions of our psyche, hence the emphasis within Sufism for purity of mind, heart, and body.
There are some who believe that the etymological meaning of the term Sufi designates the 'pure wool' or 'purity' of soul, Suf, that adorns the great initiates, the great practitioners.
Therefore, if we want to realize our inner divinity, we must cultivate the causes and conditions for the fruition of that realization within us, through psychological purification. When we purify our consciousness, we ascend to higher levels of consciousness, of being. If we give in to desire, our conditioned psyche, habits, and egotism, strengthening our negative qualities, we descend and enter inferior levels of consciousness or being.
Different religions have different ways of explaining good behavior, of how to cultivate virtue. In the Gnostic tradition we have a vast array of practices and teachings about how to discipline ourselves so that we can experience the way, the truth, and the divine life.
Therefore, this scriptural affirmation goes against millions of books being written for a modern, “New Age” public, which affirm that anyone can experience the divine by doing whatever they want, by creating their own mantras (sacred sounds), by creating their own reality, by giving into their egotistical desires. This is all one hundred percent subjective and harmful, because it demonstrates a profound ignorance of cause and effect, a fundamental law of nature. If you feed the conditions that trap your consciousness, you will enter into suffering. If you want to free the consciousness of its conditions, you must break the cages that trap and enslave your true nature, so as to achieve genuine contentment and happiness.
If you want to know yourself and therefore know divinity, you must enact the causes for that result. You cannot change the law. Ignorance of the law does not procure exclusion from its results. Therefore, ignorance is the worst of sins, according to Socrates
Knowledge and Comprehension
Which brings us to our next point. If you wish to know divinity, you must deeply understand the laws that lead to its fruition based on your experience. Intellectual knowledge or memorizing information is not enough. There must be profound comprehension.
Knowledge and comprehension are different. Knowledge is of the mind. Comprehension is of the heart. —Samael Aun Weor, Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology
There are hundreds of thousands of spiritual teachers in the world today, many who have memorized the Bible, the Qur’an, the Bhagavad-Gita by heart, and yet they do not demonstrate the ethics and virtues propounded by their religion, as illustrated by numerous cases of sodomy, molestation of children by priests, and other horrible crimes committed in the name of “spiritual brotherhood” and “religion.” People may have a lot of knowledge in the mind about religion, and yet fail to fulfill even one precept given by their tradition. This is why Christ taught his disciples to be vigilant, stating: “By their fruits you will know them.”
People know many things about God, astral travel, awakening consciousness in dreams in order to converse with the angels, etc. Yet have they experienced these truths themselves? Likewise, we may have many cherished beliefs and knowledge regarding our terrestrial identity, and yet we fail to comprehend who we are in a deep manner. This ignorance is illustrated in the case of some alcoholics who, knowing their addiction is harmful, continue to engage in bad behaviors, in drinking to excess. This example shows us that while we may have a lot of knowledge of right and wrong, we still may lack comprehension of the consequences.
If we place our hand on a hot stove, we will retract our hand in pain. Therefore, we have gained a superficial form of comprehension, of gnosis, that to put our hand on a hot stove is to get burned. Sadly, with many of our engrained habits and customs, we continue to indulge in behaviors contrary to divine laws and fail to see the results. We may know it is wrong to be angry and yell at another person, yet we may do it anyways. We may know it is wrong to be sarcastic to someone in a given instant, and yet fail to restrain our negative comments.
If we want to awaken, we must learn to comprehend what behaviors are detrimental to ourselves and others, and not act on them, to see these psychological tendencies for what they are and not allow them to persist and subsist in our minds. This is comprehension; we know in our hearts that something is essentially wrong, and therefore we behave accordingly. This is very different from having a concept in our heads. Instead, this is the voice of conscience, of ethics, of spirituality, speaking to us.
Our minds are tarnished and imperfect as a result of too much negativity, conditioning, and false knowledge, and not enough comprehension. The remedy is to deepen our awareness of divinity, to purify ourselves and to follow the ethical conduct of the great religions. For as Prophet Muhammad taught:
"There is a polish for everything that takes away rust; and the polish for the heart is the remembrance of God.” —Hadith: Sahih Al-Bukhari
Likewise, awakening and comprehension are synonymous. True spirituality or understanding is developed through following the heart, as the Sufi master Ibn ‘Arabi explains:
May God open the eyes of your heart, shedding His divine light. The angelic realm, which contains the potential of future creation, incorporeal existences, the meaning of all and everything to come, and divine power, is the element from which the visible world is created and, therefore the material world is under the influence and domination of the angelic realm. The movement, the sound, the voice, the ability to speak, to eat and to drink is not from the existences themselves in the visible, material world. They all pass through the invisible world of the angelic realm. We think that we see with our eyes. The information, the influences of perception, are due to our senses—while the real influence, the meaning of things, the power behind what sees and what is seen, can be reached neither by the senses, nor by deduction and analysis, comparison, contrasts, and associations made through intellectual theories. The invisible world can only be penetrated by the eye and the mind of the heart. Indeed, the reality of this visible world also can only be seen by the mind and eye of the heart. What we think we see is but veils which hide the reality of things; things whose truth, whose meaning may not be revealed until these veils are lifted. It is only when the dark veils of imagination [fantasy] and preconception are raised that the divine light will penetrate the heart, enabling the inner eye to see. Then either the sunlight or the light of a candle will become a metaphor for the divine light. —Ibn ‘Arabi: Divine Governance of the Human Kingdom
All of us are hypnotized by our mind, by our projected self-image. We have many fantasies about who we are, and yet we fail to see ourselves in our true reality. This is evidenced by the fact that other people never see us as we see ourselves, which is always a source of tremendous conflict. We have a lot of knowledge in our heads that we identify with, such as our name, language, customs, education, etc., and yet our suffering attests to the fact that we do not comprehend the genuine sources of our suffering, which are constituted by our fears, attachments, aversions, and ignorance.
True awakening occurs when we know how to put knowledge in its proper place, through deep comprehension of the heart.
As you see in this graphic, knowledge belongs to the horizontal line of life: knowledge we gain from birth, life, to death. On the left of this horizontal path is our genesis, followed by childhood, adolescence, adulthood, marriage, children, old age, decrepitude, and death towards the right. This is the path of terrestrial knowledge, which is necessary and fundamental for living in the world in which we are. But comprehension is the vertical path, an ascension to higher levels of being, ways of being, in conjunction with the present moment, found at the precise point where these two beams intersect, in the middle.
We cannot avoid the horizontal line of life, but we can learn to transform it by ascending to a higher way of being, a superior level of consciousness. We must learn to respond to life with a sense of ethical discipline, rectitude, and love, which constitutes the path of the heart above. Learning to behave in a conscious manner helps us to ascend to higher ways of being, levels of being, along the vertical path. Ascending this vertical line, we come to experience heaven or heavenly states as defined by some religions.
Yet if we continue as we are, identifying with psychological states of hatred, anger, pride, fear, sarcasm, lust, desire, etc., these negative qualities will take us down this vertical path towards submerged states of consciousness. The vertical path below signifies states of suffering, chaos, affliction, and pain. This is known as hell or diabolical psychological states within religion. If we do not change our ways of being, we will eventually descend on that path where we will awaken into more suffering and pain than we currently experience.
The Paths of Life and Death
The Judeo-Christian-Muslim traditions, as well as the Eastern mystical doctrines, emphasize that there are two fundamental paths of awakening: one of a higher way of life, and another towards deepening states of suffering.
And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. —Daniel 12:2
We can awaken and liberate consciousness from its conditions: pride, hate, greed, avarice, and the infernal qualities known in some traditions as sins or defects. Or we can strengthen our cage: our animalistic qualities of gluttony, aggression, and destruction. The choice is ours based on our behavior.
Look at humanity! What path has it chosen? Have you ever reflected on this? With world-wide acts of prostitution, adultery, degeneration; wars emerging here, there, and everywhere, are the signs not clear for us? Human beings are worse off than they have ever been, which is why many artists have depicted this spiritual dilemma of “To be or not to be” by painting the Last Judgment.
As you see in this image, Christ above represents the highest aspect of consciousness or divinity that we can aspire to within ourselves. To his right are those souls who know how to obey divine laws, thereby developing peace, happiness, compassion, conscious love, charity, and faith. They ascend up the steps into the temples of the sacred mysteries.
Those beings who never sought to change, who indulged in desire, who fed and saturated their diabolic conditions of mind, enter into regions of flames, symbolic of states of suffering and a deepening awareness of their psychological limitations and imprisonment.
While heaven and hell are referenced as places in the cosmos and in nature, these more importantly refer to levels of being within us, ways of behaving.
Does our consciousness resonate with compassion, virtue, philanthropy, altruism, and happiness for others? Or do our states of consciousness vibrate with wrath, avarice, doubt, envy, and dissatisfaction with the happiness of others? Examine yourself to see where your consciousness gravitates, and be sincere. Sincerity is the doorway leading to awakening in an unconditioned, positive light.
In the bottom center of this image is the archangel Michael, who is weighing the deeds of souls in accordance with their actions. Just as there is a record in a physical court of law for transgression, likewise do the heavenly masters or heavenly beings, the buddhas or angels, evaluate our actions based on facts, evidence, and full consciousness of our state, in which the Qur’an represents as two books, one for the virtuous and one for the vicious, wherein are inscribed all the deeds we perform.
The record of the vicious is indeed in Sijjīn.
And what will show you what is Sijjīn?
It is a written record.
Woe to the deniers on that day,
who deny the Day of Retribution;
and none denies it except every sinful transgressor. —Qur’an 83:7-12
The record of the pious is indeed in Illīyūn.
And what will show you what is Illīyūn?
It is a written record,
witnessed by those brought near [to God.]
Indeed the pious shall be amid bliss,
observing, [as they recline] on couches. —Qur’an 83:18-23
Sijjīn is typically associated with the lowest hells or states of conditioned perception. Illīyūn can refer, in Islam, to the highest heavens, a mountain peak that overlooks everything. This symbolizes having a consciousness so high and elevated that it perceives all things, all phenomena, without conditioning.
The Qur’an, the mystical book of the Muslims, refers to gardens of paradise and the flames of infernal passion, desire, of thirst insatiable, as representations of mind. We repeat: these are not just places, but ways of being. We gravitate to places in this great nature based on the qualities of our mind. We vibrate with dimensions in the cosmos based on our level of being.
Likewise with our daily life.
Nobody can deny the fact that there are different social levels. There are churchgoing people, people in brothels, farmers, businessmen, etc.
In a like manner, there are different Levels of Being. Whatever we are internally, munificent or mean, generous or miserly, violent or peaceful, chaste or lustful, attracts the various circumstances of life.
The lustful person will always attract scenes, dramas and even lascivious tragedies in which he will become involved.
A drunkard will always attract drunkards and will always be seen in bars or taverns; this is obvious…
What will the usurer attract? The selfish one? How many problems? Jail? Misfortunes? —Samael Aun Weor, Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology
Sadly, humanity is addicted to negativity, and is averse towards the divine life, for as John Milton stated in Paradise Lost:
“The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.”
Simply examine what people worship today. Turn on the television and you will find entertainment and shows on killing, on cruelty, on deception, criminality. People have made a heaven of hell, being addicted to negative behavior. Likewise when someone teaches the masses about the heavenly path, people scorn such a prophet or messenger, and may eventually try to kill him, as we saw with the crucifixion of Jesus, the poisoning of Buddha and Socrates, the persecution of Muhammad, etc.
The Publican and the Pharisee
So we must be profoundly analytical and honest with ourselves. We have to take a self-inventory, known by the Sufis as muhasabah, and observe what qualities we have in abundance and what we lack. We must learn to consider ourselves as strangers by observing our own minds in action, perceiving ourselves from the perspective of the free consciousness, which must in turn awaken and comprehend the other conditioned parts of the psyche.
This work on oneself goes beyond our concepts of good and bad. We must be sincere and comprehend how none of us are completely innocent in life. If we consider that we are “spiritual” people, filled with such-and-such good qualities, virtues, we must be willing to consider how we may be mistaken. Otherwise, why would we change?
A thing is good when it suits us and bad when it does not. Within the rhythms of poetry, crime is also concealed. There is much virtue in the villain and much evil in the virtuous…
…Even though it may appear incredible, crime also hides in the very perfume of prayer.
Crime disguises itself as a saint. It uses the best virtues; it presents itself as a martyr and even officiates in the sacred temples. —Samael Aun Weor, The Great Rebellion
Simply look at some priests today who are molesting children, and yet who consider themselves to be holy people. Jesus warned about such hypocrites in his parable of the Publican and the Pharisee, whereby a rich priest went to pray in the temple, congratulating himself and boasting of his good qualities, and denigrating a poor man in the corner who was beating his chest in repentance, feeling too guilty to be forgiven for his deeds. Christ said that the poor man’s prayer was granted, since it was sincere, whereas the Pharisee, the so-called spiritual person over-confident with himself, was not. A Pharisee is a person from any religion who thinks and believes they are holy and justified, when in truth they only believe, having no development.
Therefore, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!” –Matthew 19:24
To be rich is to feel oneself self-sufficient, especially from divinity. The Qur’an as posits a similar parable in Surah 18: The Cave, Verses 32 to 43:
Draw for them the parable of two men for each of whom We had made two gardens of vines, and We had surrounded them with date palms, and placed crops between them.
Both gardens yielded their produce without stinting anything of it. And We had set a stream gushing through them.
He had abundant fruits, so he said to his companion, as he conversed with him: ‘I have more wealth than you, and am stronger with respect to numbers.’
He entered his garden while he wronged himself. He said, ‘I do not think that this will ever perish, and I do not think that the Hour will ever set in. And even if I am returned to my Lord I will surely find a resort better than this.’
His companion said to him, as he conversed with him: ‘Do you disbelieve in Him who created you from dust, then from a drop of [seminal] fluid, then fashioned you as a man?
But I [say], “He is Allah, my Lord,” and I do not ascribe any partner to my Lord.
Why did you not say, when you entered your garden, “[This is] as Allah has wished! There is no power except by Allah!” If you see that I have lesser wealth than you and children,
maybe my Lord will give me [something] better than your garden, and He will unleash upon it bolts from the sky, so that it becomes a bare plain.
Or its water will sink down, so that you cannot obtain it.’
And ruin closed in on his produce, and he began to wring his hands for what he had spent on it, as it lay fallen on its trellises. He was saying, ‘I wish I had not ascribed any partner to my Lord.’
He had no party to help him, besides Allah, nor could he help himself.
So what are we? Are we rich, psychologically, feeling that we possess virtues that we do not? Or are we poor, recognizing that we have nothing, and from this honest foundation ascend towards the Being, acquiring genuine knowledge?
The Sufis state that the greatest quality or foundation for the disciple to have is poverty, to feel oneself as poor, to recognize one's true lack of spirituality, since humility opens the pathway for elevation. Wherever this sense of “me,” “myself,” or “I,” is absent, we experience the plenitude of the Being. Or as Samael Aun Weor wrote in The Aquarian Message: “God seeks the nothingness in order to fill it.”
Genuine Awakening and the Tree of Life
Wherever the delusion of your selfhood appears – there’s hell. Wherever “you” aren’t – that’s heaven. –Abū Sa’īd in Ibn Munawwar: Asrār at-tawḥīd, ed. Shafī‘ī-Kadkanī, 299
Our egotistical sense of self obscures us from accessing the heavenly realms of levels of being, represented by this graphic. This is known as the Tree of Life in the Book of Genesis, and is a map of awakening: from the lowest states of matter, energy and consciousness, to the most refined, synthetic, essential, and spiritual at the top. This is known as the Kabbalah, which comes from the Hebrew word: קבל Kabbel / qabal: to receive. This is the spiritual wisdom we gain by awakening and liberating consciousness in these ten spheres of modes of being.
The Tree of Life signifies the multi-dimensionality of nature, which penetrates, co-penetrates, and subsists together and integrally without confusion. These ten spheres or modes of being are with us here and now, but we are typically not aware of them.
We are at Malkuth, which in Hebrew means: Kingdom, the physical body. Above this physicality we have vitality, emotionality, mentality, will, consciousness, spirit, and the highest divinity, known as logos, Kristos, or Christ, the primordial root energy at the basis of every fundamental cosmic unit. These are distinct gradations of consciousness, energy, matter and perception that we will examine with more detail in subsequent lectures.
However, we will state that this map is essential for understanding our inner spiritual experiences, such as through meditation or the study of dreams. This graphic illustrates for us where we are in a given moment, at what level of consciousness we gravitate towards. The spheres above Malkuth are the heavens, whereas the shadow of the Tree constitute the Klipoth or inferior dimensions, negative states of being, the submerged, conditioned and infraconscious aspects of the soul, known in religions as hell.
Remember that these spheres are with us here and now, but we are not awakened to them yet. We may feel that we are active in our physical bodies, but yet may not be aware of our thoughts, feelings, and sensations, or impulses. This lack of awareness of what we are thinking, feeling, and doing in a given moment of the day signifies that we do not know the Tree of Life within us. Simply try to review everything you did in a given day, down to the smallest detail, and see if there are not spaces or gaps in your memory! Awakening means to change all that, to not be unconscious or unaware of any aspect of our daily life.
The important thing to remember is that if we want to ascend up the vertical path of being, of awakening, we must do so by conquering ourselves and dominating our lower passions, so that we no longer remain in “hell,” the inferior qualities of being, but instead rise to a higher way of being, the Tree of Life.
The Present Moment
So how do we awaken? We have presented and explained the need to awaken, but now we are going to elaborate on the methods for doing so.
Many teachings in this day and age speak of mindfulness, awareness, attention, consciousness, and perception. There are also many doctrines about intuition or insight into the present moment in which we find ourselves. These are all basic introductions or kindergarten steps for accessing complete awakening of our divine potential.
Awakening unconditioned perception begins in this present instance in which we find ourselves, at the intersection of the horizontal and vertical beams, the conjunction of the line of life or knowledge and the line of being.
I heard Abu Ali al-Daqqaq say that the “now”—waqt—is that in which you are. If you are in the world, your “now” is this world. If you are in the next world [the higher dimensions of the Tree of Life], your “now” is the next world. If you are in joy, your “now” is joy. If you are in sorrow, your “now” is sorrow. He means by this that the present moment is that which has dominance over a person. —Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri
Every genuine spiritual endeavor begins by learning to pay attention and to not be distracted by memories, thoughts, daydreams, sentimentality, fears, problems, etc. It means to expand and heighten one’s consciousness of the present moment.
Wherever you are, do not forget what you are doing. Simply be. If you are driving you car, don't think of other things. Pay attention to your mood, your thoughts, your psychological states. Do not let your attention be dominated and distracted by other things, but learn to dominate the moment through vigilance.
The Sufis elaborate on the importance of solely paying exclusive attention to the present moment, without looking forward or backwards in time:
Waqt [the present moment] may refer specifically to the time in which one is. Some people say that the present moment is between the two times, that is, the past and the future. And they say that the Sufi is the “son of his moment.” This means that he occupies himself immediately with whatever sort of devotion should come first in a given moment. He bases himself upon what is required of him at the time. It is said, “The dervish cares for neither the past nor the future of his moment: he cares for the moment in which he is.” And regarding this, “To be preoccupied with what escaped you in a moment that has passed is to waste a second moment.” –Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
Al-Qushayri states that the true disciple bases himself upon what is required of him at the time. All of us have responsibilities in this physical plane, work, employment, familial duties, etc. Therefore, are we certain that we are paying attention to what we are doing as we fulfill our obligations? Remember that Gnosis is precisely the doctrine of momentariness. We have to stop thinking about the past or the future, and simply look and what is going on around and within us. It is by paying attention to the contents of our psyche during social interactions that we learn to discover hidden defects whose existence we never suspected.
Therefore, how do we interact with certain people? Why? What motivates us to speak a certain way? To gossip? To lie? To criticize? Have we ever considered the secret motives of our speech? For why we might feel disdain towards someone we deem less important to us? To those we think are inferior? What qualities surge in our mind around people who provoke us? Whom we dislike? Our sense of pride? Are we sure that we do not possess the same qualities of the person we ostracize and condemn? Have we ever questioned ourselves when interacting with others?
Interactions with people is a full length mirror by which we can comprehend our own faults, because if we are attentive only of the present moment, without invoking the past or the future, we find that our psychological tendencies, desires, and conditioning emerge within the screen of our perception, within our attention when we know how to direct it inward. This is known as muhasabah, inner-accounting, precisely because we must make a psychological account of the qualities we lack and the qualities we have in abundance. We have to self-discover ourselves in action.
We must also learn to be aware of our surroundings and our intimate connection to the divine presence, labeled muhadarah, awareness of the Divine Self, within Sufism. We call this self-remembrance in the gnostic tradition. We learn to gain comprehension of hudur, the presence of God, through muhadarah, awareness. Simultaneously, we must also direct our attention inside, studying our intimate defects through self-observation, inner accounting or muhasabah.
In order to know divinity we first have to look inside to see what is obstructing the light of divinity within our consciousness. By perceiving our faults and comprehending them, we in turn can liberate ourselves from those conditions. Self-observation is how we acquire new information about who we are and why we behave, so that we can work to remove negative elements in the psyche and thereby produce greater cognizance, peace, happiness, and compassion.
Our spiritual life is not exclusive to attending meetings. It is constituted of every interaction we engage with in daily, practical life. Spirituality is not limited to the church or the mosque, but in our homes, with our children, with our co-workers, and especially with people who give us difficulties. Do we respond with kindness towards someone who insults our hurt sense of dignity, our pride? How do we react towards the condemnation or criticism of others at work? Remember that our daily life is our spiritual path, and how we behave in every instance determines whether we will initiate a more spiritual way of being or strengthen a more demonic way of being.
The Moment is a Sword
We define our spiritual life depends on what we do from moment-to-moment. As Buddha taught in the Dhammapada:
Preceded by mind are phenomena, led by mind, formed by mind. If with mind polluted one speaks or acts, then pain follows, as a wheel follows the draft ox’s foot.
Preceded by mind are phenomena, led by mind, formed by mind. If with mind pure one speaks or acts, then ease follows, as an ever-present shadow.
What thoughts, feelings, or impulses emerge when we get up in the morning? When we go to work? When we speak with a friend, co-worker, or relative? Do our actions and words produce harmony and friendship, or do our actions create resistance, conflict, and struggle?
If we act virtuously, then we will inspire virtue in others; we will produce happiness for others. This is a fundamental law of nature: cause and effect, known in the East as karma.
Therefore, in accordance with the law of action and consequence:
One of the sayings of the Sufis is, “The moment is a sword.” That is, in just the way that a sword severs, the present moment shows forth the influence of God’s action, ending things and bringing them to be. It is said, “The touch of the flat of a sword is temperate, but its blade cuts”—the one who treats it gently is safe and the one who treats it rudely is destroyed. Thus with the “now”: Whoever submits himself to its authority is saved and whoever resists it deteriorates and declines. –Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
If you are negative towards another person, you will inspire negativity within that person. Therefore, the moment as a blade will cut you. But if you are temperate, peaceful, and kind towards your critics, your actions will produce comfort, ease, and balance.
When confronted with terrible circumstances, a virtuous, cultivated, and trained mind will serve as our greatest protector and aid. If we continue in unconscious, destructive, and resentful behavior, never learning to see another person’s point of view, we will in turn deepen our suffering and the suffering of others. We will fall upon our own sword.
It comes to my mind a story of a Tibetan Buddhist monk who was imprisoned by the Chinese after the expulsion of Tibetans and the desecration of Tibetan Buddhist monasteries by the Chinese army. The 14th Dalai Lama asked him, “What is the greatest danger you faced?” This monk replied, “Losing my compassion for the Chinese.” This is a powerful statement!
Eventually this man was freed, and he continued as a monk, never losing sight of the goal: to generate superior states of being and not to give in to conditioned, negative psychological reactions, to dominate the present moment and submit himself only to what is being experienced here and now.
Whether or not we are in prison, we still suffer. If we react negatively, we will continue to suffer and exacerbate our problems. But if our mind is peaceful, we can easily and patiently withstand wrongs, maintaining serenity, and never losing touch with our inner divinity and the divinity of others. This is how the sword of perception, of vigilance, of insight, will defend us when we need it most.
Likewise, when confronted with difficult people, the greatest advantage we can have is always responding with consciousness, with remembrance of divinity:
“The best weapon that a human being can use in life is a correct psychological state.
“One can disarm beasts and unmask traitors by means of appropriate internal states.
“Wrong internal states convert us into defenseless victims of human perversity.
“You must learn to face the most unpleasant events of practical life with an appropriate internal uprightness...
“You must not become identified with any event. Remember that everything passes away. You must learn to look at life like a movie; thus, you shall receive the benefits...
“You must not forget that if you do not eliminate mistaken internal states from your psyche, then events of no value could bring you disgrace.
“Unquestionably, each external event needs its appropriate fare, that is, its precise psychological state.” —Samael Aun Weor, Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology: Personal Events
So question yourselves from the perspective of conscious attention. What specific types of events provoke or invoke your anger? Fear? Resentment? Why do you act and behave a certain way around certain people? Where are your thoughts coming from when your vanity is hurt, when you are offended? Why are you always offended by certain comments? Are you certain that responding with frustration will aid you at work, with your co-workers, your spouse?
Everything passes away. Nothing in life is static. Therefore, to hold on to a sense of self, such as anger, pride, hatred, desire, lust, as if it is permanent--to believe in and give our energy to these egotistical qualities that are transient and insubstantial, meaningless and unimportant--is absurd, harmful. Such psychological states deepen our suffering, precisely because there is a lack of communion between our internal states and the external event. External events are always changing, therefore, why hold on to them with so much attachment, with a desire for permanence? We always want something that doesn't coincide with the facts, and therefore we suffer tremendously inside.
Wherever we direct our attention, we expend creative energy. To give energy to our inner demons is to prolong our pain, to strengthen the cages we have built around ourselves.
To cease suffering, we must cease with desire. If we want to be happy, we must not give in to our desires, but learn to observe them with consciousness, to understand the roots of these thoughts, feelings, and impulses, so that they have less dominance over what we say and do. We must learn to adjust our internal states to meet the needs of each event. In this way we learn to use the sword of perception for our favor, to defend ourselves from negative thinking, feeling, and acting.
When you learn to follow the intuition of your innermost divinity, your Being, than you will learn how to competently negotiate and navigate the seas of your life, not only for your benefit, for the benefit of others.
Our egotism, pride, resentment, etc., is the enemy of God, the enemy of the Being. If we want divine aid, we have to go against ourselves, to go against the grain of our mechanical behaviors, habits, and ways of thinking. The Sufis teach that if we want realization of the divine, we must wage a holy war against the infidels, which are the conditioned elements of our psyche.
Divinity, of course, always aids the soul in this difficult struggle to awaken.
“Remembering God with the heart is called the sword of seekers. With it the seeker slays his enemies [egos, defects, nafs] and drives off [karmic] troubles that are headed for him. Even if difficulty should overshadow the servant, his fleeing to God Most High in his heart immediately turns away from him the thing he hates.” -Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
Examine this image of St. Michael, who is often depicted slaying the devil, the dragon. מיכאל Michael in Hebrew comes from מיכ Mica, “Who is like” אֵל El, or “God?” This is a rhetorical question, telling us that no one is like God, the resplendence, light, or consciousness of divinity, the Being. Michael is an angelic being outside of us, but here represents the solar intelligence of our Being, as well as how the soul must wage bloody battles against the afflictions of the mind, the dragon, the monster, our diabolic qualities or egotistical desires. He does so with a sword, representing wisdom, remembrance, and insight. In some religious paintings, St. Michael is depicted carrying a scale, representing how the solar intelligence of our innermost Being is the one that brings balance, harmony, and justice to our psychological universe. This is how he conquers the creator of illusion and suffering.
The same meaning is represented in the next graphic of Manjushri. Here is a buddha, an awakened one, conquering the illusions and hypnotisms of desire through the sword of prajna, wisdom, insight, gnosis, or consciousness. By awakening our consciousness, and by destroying the shackles of our understanding, we can arrive at self-knowledge, represented by the book he also carries in his other hand.
The book represents knowledge, whereas the sword represents being, insight, consciousness. Therefore, knowledge and being must be harmoniously balanced within us in order to establish the flaming powers of comprehension in our psyche.
With superior knowledge, we can learn to redirect the course of our life, and with practical wisdom and insight, cut through to the sources of our greatest problems, thereby liberating our soul, awakening it definitely.
The Sufis state:
They have recited about this:
Like a sword, if you polish it, its touch is soothing
But its edge, if you are harsh to it, is harsh.
If the moment makes someone happy, it is a just moment to him.
If it makes him miserable, it becomes something hateful.
–Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
Meditation is the path of polishing our perception, of purifying our insight. Your mind precedes all phenomena. We become what we think. Think wrong thoughts, and you will produce wrong results. But achieve serenity of mind, insight, patience, and understanding, by learning to pay attention, you learn to access the essential nature of your consciousness, which is peace, compassion, and love.
Behavior, Gnosis, and Meditation
In synthesis, we seek to change our behaviors and states of mind in a fundamental way. Awakening results from knowing how to transform the psyche into something positive and conscious, free of limitations. It means that we know how to act in every instance of life in an appropriate and defined way.
Abu Hafs Haddad of Nishapur says, “Sufism [or gnosticism] consists entirely of behavior; every time, place, and circumstance have their own property; he that observes the properties of each occasion attains to the rank of holy men; and he that neglects the properties is far removed from the thought of nearness (to God) and is excluded from imagining that he is acceptable to God.” –Al-Hujwiri, Revelation of the Mystery
What aids us in this endeavor are spiritual practices, the fulfillment of the divine law, so as to experience the truth, the way or the path. Samael Aun Weor wrote that meditation is the daily bread of the Gnostic. Meditation is the science of acquiring self-knowledge, of understanding the causes of conflict within us in order to remediate them. Meditation is how we overcome our personal and conditioned sense of self, the ego. As the Sufis teach:
In general, it is to the measure of one’s alienation from one’s own ego [conditioned or negative psychological elements] that one attains direct knowledge of one’s Lord… I heard Abu Ali al-Daqqaq say, “One of the tokens of the gnosis of God is the achievement of deep awe and reverence for God. If someone’s realization increases, his awe increases.” And I heard him say, “Gnosis requires stillness of heart, just as learning requires outward quiet. If someone’s gnosis increases, his tranquility increases.” —Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah
It is in a state of tranquility where we can remove the conditionality of the mind in order to free and awaken the soul, the consciousness, from bondage. By increasing our knowledge of divinity through removing the causes of suffering, we in turn develop true peace of mind.
To aid us in this endeavor, we will be providing a series of exercises in order to aid you in accessing and realizing the principles we have covered in this lecture and in this course. We recommend you study and fulfill these practices each week in a diligent way, so that you procure definite and consistent results. Consistency is key, since without steadfastness in one’s spiritual discipline, one can attain nothing. However, as you continue to practice and see the benefits of such exercises, you will naturally be inspired to continue and deepen your work.
For this week, you can refer to the following exercise:
This is a transcription of an audio lecture from The Sufi Path of Self-knowledge, originally given live at the Chicagoland Gnostic Academy:
The title of this lecture is “Self Knowledge: The Door to Liberation from Suffering.” Now in the Gnostic tradition, we address many religions and faiths in order to arrive at a synthetic teaching. The core knowledge at the heart of every religion provides us understanding of our innate and divine potential, as well as how to overcome the afflictions of our mind, the negative emotions of our heart, and many illnesses of our body. In these studies we are concerned with our personal connection with divinity, and it is our goal to unite with our internal divine Intelligence, which different religions have given different names (whether Allah in Islam, Christ in Christianity, Buddha in Buddhism, Ahura-Mazda amongst the Zoroastrians, etc). We seek to cultivate this knowledge of our Internal Divinity, our Inner Self day to day, moment by moment.
Today, in the spirit of synthetically teaching different religions and traditions, we are going to explain this path of self-knowledge in relation to the Gnostic doctrine, as well as in relation to the Sufi initiates, the mystics or Gnostics of Islam. Even the Muslim doctrine, in its heart, contains a profound esotericism which is valuable to study. We study Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, Judaism, etc., in synthesis to arrive at the core knowledge that is going to change us. So we are going to explain many teachings that were given by the Middle-Eastern initiates, the Masters of Islam.
The word Islam is Arabic for “submission to God’s will.” This is precisely what we seek to cultivate in this tradition, to submit ourselves to the will of our Inner Divinity, our Inner Being known as Spirit, Innermost, Atman, our flame of Oreb that Moses saw on the mountain. The Sufis denominate our Inner Being or Spirit as Ruh, or simply the word Hu within the sacred name of God: Allahu. Hu reminds us of the Sanksrit Hum, which precisely means spirit.
We have to understand what is this Self that we seek to understand in ourselves and in our psychology, because many people affirm that they know themselves, that they know who they really are in their depth. If we generally examine this concept of self-knowledge, we will arrive at an understanding that it is a very elevated statement to make that one knows one self. We each have our own Inner Divinity who is our True Self. Therefore when someone says, “I know myself—I know who I am” and we ask them, “Well… do you know Christ, your Inner Flame, your Inner Logos? Have you awakened to your inner Buddha-nature, the light of Amitabha? Have you seen Allah and spoken to your Inner God just as we are here receiving a lecture, face to face with the Lord, like Moses on Mount Sinai?”—what will typically happen is that the person will respond, “No. I don’t know anything like that. But I do know myself. This is my language. This is my name. This is the culture to which I was raised; this is my family,” etc.
We genuinely assume that these aspects and qualities of our culture, heritage, name, and language, are who we are, ignoring that God is not isolated to one particular person or place, but is internal in each one of us. God is not our language. God is not our culture, our religion, our beliefs. Our Internal Divinity is beyond terrestrial customs, beliefs, and social mores. What happens is that God has expressed Himself through many prophets from different races, cultures, and languages, in order to give a universal teaching. Bearing this in mind, when someone says, “I know myself,” really that is saying, “I know who God is. I know my Inner God within me. I have gone beyond the public teachings of religion and have experienced my Being, my inner divinity.” Also, it would be saying “I have fully manifested my divinity within my psyche.” Such a statement has been given by many elevated initiates—not by common individuals who know nothing about genuine esoteric, spiritual discipline.
There was a Sufi Master by the name of Mansur Al Hallaj who was put in prison, tortured, and mutilated because he said amongst the orthodox Muslims of his time, “An al-Haqq!” or “I am the Truth!” Haqiqah, the most elevated doctrine within Sufi thought, refers to the Truth and the Truth is one of the names of Allah, a name given to divinity. Now, of course God was expressing through Hallaj who said, “I am the Truth.” It was not Mansur al-Hallaj, the terrestrial personality, who said it. It was his Inner Divinity that spoke it. For before his execution, the Master Al-Hallaj was interrogated:
Abu Bakr asked, “What is mysticism?”
Al Hallaj answered, “Behold, his minor degree before thee.”
Abu Bakr asked again, “And where is his supreme degree?”
Al Hallaj answered, “Thou cannot have access unto it; nonetheless, tomorrow thou shall see what shall come. I testify it in the Divine Mystery within which it exists, albeit it is hidden for thee.” -Samael Aun Weor, The Narrow Way: "The Passion of Al-Hallaj"
The minor degree or expression of divinity is the terrestrial person or human soul. The supreme degree is God Himself, Allah, the true self that can express within any person who has prepared him or herself to express God.
However, many fanatics of public-level religion and tradition did not understand these things—so they killed Al-Hallaj; they tortured him and mutilated his body because they considered his words blasphemy, even though all the great masters before him have also been tortured, crucified, or poisoned for delivering wisdom…
So this is what we seek to be able to express in ourselves—the Truth—our Inner God. We have to understand that our Being is really the most pure and divine treasure that we possess within our interior that must be actively sought, and not just believed in. As it is stated in the Muslim oral tradition, the Hadith Qudsi:
Allah said, “I was a hidden treasure, and I was wished to be known, so I created creation (mankind), and made myself known to them, and they recognized me.”
There is a very famous Sufi proverb that states, “He who knows himself, knows his Lord.” If we are familiar with the Greek teachings of oracle of Delphi, we find the familiar maxim written on its immortal walls: “Man know thyself, and you shall know the universe and its gods.”
Therefore, if we really know ourselves, it means that we know God, but if we do not know God, it means that we do not know ourselves in depth, because we are just an emanation or spark that emerged from divinity. For the most part, we do not genuinely, in our constitution, know who we are. Who is our Being? There are few who can say that they know their Being, their Spirit, their Inner God. So we have to acknowledge this fact that we generally do not know divinity, if we truly wish to unite with divinity. If we think we know it all already, then what effort will we make to strive to know God?
In this image we have the Prophet Muhammad with his disciples. These are initiates crowned with fire on their heads. There are so many saints in different paintings of sacred and religious art depicted with halos of flames, whether in Buddhism, Judaism, Islam or Christianity, that it is impossible to ignore or deny their ubiquitous nature and meaning. Such halos are in every tradition and signify the energy known as Christ, that fire or intelligence within our body that has been raised up the spinal column to the brain. We call that force kundalini; we call that force the Divine Mother Goddess who is within us. So the path that Jesus took as carrying the cross, by working in a matrimony (since the cross is a symbol of matrimony) he took that energy up the spinal medulla, up the Via Crucis, the path of suffering, to the brain—or you could say Golgotha which means “the place of the skulls.” And so we have in every tradition this teaching: the elevation of our inner flame, our inner fire, our sacred intelligence known as our Divine Mother Kundalini, elevating up the spinal medulla very slowly and laboriously to Golgotha.
This path of initiation, this path of crucifixion, is precisely the path taught by Jesus and many other Masters. Here we see the Sufi initiates illuminated by fire, meaning that they're working with the cross, which is not only a Christian symbol, but Muslim as well. The symbol of Islam is the crescent moon and the star of Venus, which have the same meaning as the cross that we’re explaining here. The crescent moon is the power of Yesod in Kabbalah, the sexual forces that must be dominated by the Divine Mother Kundalini, Venus or Aphrodite. A cross is the sexual communion of man and woman, just as a married couple must together work with the crescent moon under the guidance of the Divine Mother, Venus.
Those Muslims who consider Allah to be merely masculine are wrong, since the Divine Mother is an integral part of divinity and is represented in Hinduism as the sacred cow, Al-Baqara within the second Surah of the Holy Qur'an.
It is also interesting to note is that three of those initiates in this image have the fire, the halo, but one of them does not. It is indicating that there are levels and hierarchies amongst the disciples, or how much self-knowledge these individuals possess. What’s most important is in this image of the Prophet Muhammad, for he’s wearing the veil. In many sacred images of Islam we find that the Prophet is never depicted with a face. We always see a veil because God cannot be seen face to face, and since Prophet Muhammad, was the minor degree of his innermost Being, he become a full expression of his supreme degree, Allah.
If we wish to know divinity, we have to be humble like these initiates that we see in this image. This refers to the veil of Isis in the Egyptian Mysteries and freemasonry. So the veil, the hijab or burka that the Muslim women would wear, was traditionally only worn amongst the wives of the Prophet Muhammad, those that were close to his family. Now that veil really represents, for us, our own ignorance. We do not see God because we are asleep as a soul, as a consciousness, as Psyche in the Greek Myth. We do not know God, because we do not have consciousness of our divinity, meaning we are not in communication with our inner being. We lack genuine self-knowledge. This veil also is a symbol of sexual modesty, that the wives of the Prophet, who represented in their physical life different parts of the Being, must be pure of all lust and defilement within the mind.
We are going to explain how we communicate with our God in synthesis. We have this veil, burka or hijab before our spiritual eyes. When perceiving God directly there is only force and fire. To look at God directly, at that Intelligence, upon one’s Inner God, is to die completely—not just physically—but psychologically—dying to one’s impurities in the mind. So the path that Jesus taught with the cross, the illumination of the fire up the spinal medulla to the brain, represents for us the crucifixion of the mind, the death of one’s psychological impurities and the full purification of the soul in order to return to God. Remember that when Prophet Moses asked the Lord to show Himself in His fully majesty, Jehovah (or Allah), said, "If you look upon Me directly you will die." This was demonstrated with the last words of Jesus, “It is finished” and “God unto thy hands I commend my Spirit.” In order to fully unite with divinity, we must die to all evilness of a psychological type. This relates deeply with the teachings of the Kabbalah, the mystical science of Judaism.
So these initiates are bowing before this Intelligence, the flame that Muhammad is expressing in his body, in his mind and heart. We need to have this type of reverence and respect which is the hallmark of genuine communication and communion with our Inner God. The only way to accomplish this is to purify one’s mind of all defilement. To strive against one’s own impurities is a spiritual war, the path of jihad, followed by any prophet or master who sought to fully comprehend and extirpate their defects.
Sadly the exoteric religion of Islam has degenerated. Just as Christianity and Buddhism has degenerated. Here we’re speaking about the esoteric truths of the Muslim tradition, specifically regarding the teachings of jihad or “striving.” Genuine jihad is about killing one’s own infidels in the mind. To kill an infidel is to kill one’s anger pride, vanity, lust, laziness, etc., for as the Prophet taught, “The strongest among you is he who controls his anger.” He never said to take out one’s anger on another person! Lastly, a group of his Companions were returning from a battle with the Prophet who were defending themselves against a group of Arabs that sought to kill them and destroy their group. Prophet Muhammad explained, “We leave the lesser holy war to go to the greater holy war.” “And what, O Prophet,” is the lesser and greater holy wars?” asked his Companions. He replied, “The lesser holy war is war against others. The great holy war is war against your desires.”
So here were not teaching the public doctrine given to many Muslims, about physically defending one’s faith from oppression. We study the esoteric teachings of Islam, which are very sacred. We have to understand that the all religions are sacred and that Islam has its place within humanity, but sadly as an exotic tradition or faith, it has terribly degenerated, because people don’t study and they only read things literally. Here we are explaining, really the heart, the core, the blood of the teachings of Muhammad, which is very sacred.
Mindfulness, Awareness, and Sufi Psychology
So he states in the oral tradition, within the Hadith Qudsi, verse 19:
“Be mindful of Allah and you will find Him in front of you.”
Or we could say, be mindful of Buddha and he will be with you. Be mindful of Jehovah and he will be with you. Be mindful of Durga, the Divine Goddess, Devi Kundalini, and She will be with you.
“Recognize and acknowledge Allah, in times of ease and prosperity, and He will remember you in times of adversity.”
So what does it mean to be mindful? It is to pay attention. In Arabic we call mindfulness or awareness as muhadarah. Muhadarah comes from the root word Hudur, which means Presence. This refers to being aware of the inner presence of our divinity, inside our psyche, in all moments. In that practice that we performed in the beginning of our meeting, we were examining our mind, understanding that we are not our thoughts, that we are not the emotions that constantly surge within our psyche as pain and pleasure, like and dislike, states which constantly fluctuate in our consciousness. Neither are we sensations in our body, mind, or instincts.
These transient thoughts, feelings and sensations are known as nafs in Sufism, egos, selves, "I's" or defects. These have nothing to do with God. The elements of pride, anger, vanity, lust, greed, laziness, gluttony, etc., are aberrations or conditionings of our psyche. While these elements tend to constitute our daily experience (since we genuinely do not question these thoughts, feelings, and sensations at all in the moment), the truth is that deep down we are something much more distinct. We are the soul, the consciousness, known as Essence in Gnostic psychology, that has the capacity to perceive and separate from the nafs, the conditioned elements of our psyche. Part of our soul, which is not conditioned by nafs, still has the capacity to transcend the suffering of these conditioned elements of mind or soul in order to know divinity, since only the consciousness or soul can know God directly.
A conditioned mind cannot know divinity. Only a liberated, conscious perception free of nafs, egos, can know the Truth. But for this, the consciousness that is not yet conditioned by the mind, egos, or nafs, needs to be exercised through learning to pay attention, to become aware of the presence (hudur) of God, to not identify with the nafs, our ego.
It takes tremendous work to be able to cultivate this state moment to moment, here and now. So to be mindful of God means to remember your Inner Divinity, here and now. Observe yourself. Be present and pay attention. The truth is we do not know how to be mindful. If we knew how to be mindful we would be aware of God within us here and now. But the sad reality is that whenever any thought, feeling, or sensation appears in our experience, we identify and think, "This is who I am!" Yet this sense of self is transitory and depends on external causes and conditions that are not stable, permanent, or eternal. Only God, Allah, the Innermost Being, is eternal. Instead, what we commonly identify with are impermanent, subjective, conditioned elements in our psyche that distort our perception of reality, the nafs or elements of desire denominated as Satan, "the adversary of God," within the traditions of Abraham.
So what does it mean to recognize and acknowledge Allah in times of ease and prosperity and He will remember you in times of adversity? It means that when things are easy, we take our free time and we use it to cultivate the path of self-knowledge. But what self-knowledge are we talking about? We really mean knowledge of our divine self, Atman, the Buddha within, our Spirit or Ruh. We come to know God within by knowing our defects, nafs or egos that obstruct us from connecting with divinity.
Yet to really cultivate genuine self-knowledge, we must use our freedom and our luxury to practice meditation, since meditation is the foundational practice of this tradition and is the only way for us to know our Being.
So if we have free time and we don’t meditate, God will not remember us when we need Him. On the other hand, if we take our free time and we use it for spiritual development, spiritual practices, then even in the most challenging circumstances God will always be with you; Allah (may He be praised and exalted) will always be with you. Your Being will always be with you to provide help, but it requires sacrifice on our part not to indulge in fruitless activities like playing video games, or drinking alcohol to excess. Therefore, it is by knowing ourselves and by developing self-knowledge in meditation that we are going to connect with God.
Knowledge and Comprehension
In this next graphic, we have an image of a mosque, a house of prayer, and we have a quote from the Venerable Master Samael Aun Weor, who is the founder of the modern Gnostic tradition. He states,
“Knowledge and Comprehension are different. Knowledge is of the mind. Comprehension is of the heart.”
When talk about self-knowledge, knowing ourselves, it doesn't mean reading books. It doesn't mean reading scripture. Knowing ourselves does not entail picking up any books, teachings or listening to a lecture. Genuine spiritual knowledge is cognizance of one’s own divine nature of one’s own intelligence, knowing our internal psychological states as distinct entities in ourselves. It is discovering states such as pride, anger, vanity, laziness, etc. These are what we call defects, egos, nafs—it is being able to differentiate here and now between our mind and our consciousness, from desire (nafs) and soul (Essence or consciousness). The mind is the den of desire. Desire is ego, hatred, vanity, craving, etc.
The knowledge we seek is that of our internal states, but according to this teaching, using strict esoteric language, knowledge alone remains within the domain of the intellect, book knowledge, sacred writing, scriptures, etc. However, comprehension is something completely different. Comprehension is something that we seek to develop in this science. We need to comprehend ourselves. The truth is we do not truly comprehend ourselves. For when anger arises, the ego or naf of hatred, we speak hurtful words and do not comprehend the damage that those words will cause. Instead, we usually receive the after effects such as when we have a conflict with a family member or with a friend or a spouse. Problems subsequently emerge—overwhelming frustration, great enmity, poisonous resentment. This shows that we do not comprehend ourselves, for if we comprehended how damaging anger is, how cruel pride is, how sarcastic pride can be, then we would never act in harmful ways—ever. We don’t really comprehend how damaging the effects can be on the mind, on other human beings.
I’ll reiterate a point made by the Prophet Muhammad. He said, “The strongest man is the one who can control his anger.” It’s true. We all have that defect of anger within and even justify its existence by saying “It’s normal. I know I have anger, but in some situations it is OK.” We have knowledge in our mind that we are a certain way, but no comprehension. Comprehension of a defect will aid one not to let it take over our mind and heart, our body, but mere intellectual knowledge doesn’t modify psychological states.
The different between knowledge and comprehension are demonstrated in drug addicts or alcoholics. These persons know that drugs or alcohol are destructive, but many of them continue to indulge in intoxicants, simply because they have not psychologically comprehended the damage of these substances. Comprehension is definitive, whereby when we really comprehend the destructive nature of drugs, alcohol, intoxicants, and anger, we will never allow ourselves to partake in such behaviors.
There are many elements in our psychology that influence us that we are not even remotely aware of. And if we examine ourselves, we do not really comprehend who we are, although we think we know. We have a lot of knowledge about who we are. It’s true. We know our name, our age, our birthplace, our culture, and our family. This is all intellectual, of the mind. Comprehension is what we seek to cultivate in the heart, the soul, the consciousness, the Essence. Comprehension of our True Self, of our Inner Divine Flame, is happiness, insight clarity and direct perception. Prophet Muhammad said in the Hadith, in the oral tradition, “An hour of contemplation is better than a year of prayer.”
We are going to explain what contemplation is, what meditation is, which in Arabic is mushahadah, in the course of this lecture.
Even better than standing and performing salaat (ritual prayer) five times a day, it’s better if we sit down and close our eyes to meditate, to really reflect on our inner psyche. What really causes us suffering? What are the causes of our problems, psychologically speaking? What in us creates such havoc or conflict with other human beings? What in us creates confusion and pain? So we look at Buddhism we find the Four Noble Truths:
1. That in life there is suffering.
2. Suffering has causes
3. The cessation of suffering
4. There is path to the cessation of suffering
This is the path which we are explaining. To comprehend ourselves is to work on our defects, egos or nafsso that we do not create suffering for ourselves and for others. The way that we cultivate this path is by developing being and knowledge.
When we talk about self-knowledge, of cultivating comprehension of our Inner Divinity (who is peace, joy, genuine love, compassion for others, spiritual strength, faith and the elimination of doubt), somehow we think that by annihilating our pride and anger we are going to be soulless people, for sadly, we believe that without egotistical elements we will be nothing. On the contrary, by eliminating our defects in meditation (muraqabah in Arabic, vigilant introspection) we develop soul; we develop consciousness and therefore we develop the genuine qualities of God, which are virtues. This pertains to being, to be here and now, to be present, and to not think about other things, to not compare what we are hearing to other things or to be debating in our mind any phenomena that we come across. It means that we have an open, spontaneous and intuitive perception of life as it is without artifice, without thinking about things, without feeling about other things, without being distracted. This is what it means to be and it is the state of being which unites us to our Divine Being, Allah because our Being is with us here and now in this state, in this room, in our hearts. Allah is a treasure that wishes to be known, to be perceived by our Essence, but the problem is we don’t know Him. We don’t remember Him. We don’t concentrate on Him in our hearts and we typically don’t fight against the distractions in our minds.
Question: How does one self-observe? I try it for some time and get very confused; things are very difficult to see within myself and to understand. How do I know that I am doing this right?
Speaker: That’s a good concern. In the beginning it’s like that, because self-observation, vigilant introspection (muraqabah) or self-awareness (muhadarah) is an entirely new way of perceiving things, to self-observe oneself like we did in the practice. We were observing our heart, our mind, our body as if they were a separate entity. We’re looking at our mind and thoughts as something different from us. We are perceiving the mind, but we are not the mind. We are perceiving the heart, but we are not the heart.
Consciousness, soul or Essence is the ability to perceive things as they are in our psyche, in our internal states. Now in the beginning, it is exceptionally challenging to be able to discern between what is mind, what is heart, what is the body, what are sensations, what are instincts, movements, what are thoughts. The way that we develop the capacity to perceive and to discriminate the internal phenomenon in our psyche is self-observation, to persist in that practice, not to forget or stop what we’re doing because it’s a continuous path, here and now. We must only be aware of this moment (waqt amongst the Sufis). We are constantly initiating the practice of remembering ourselves in our psyche.
We need to be aware of our internal psychology on a moment to moment basis, to always be present and never forget. This is very difficult and constitutes the meaning of jihad. It doesn't fighting against someone who doesn't follow Islam. It means fighting against your anger, pride, and all these defects, all these things that keep us distracted from God.
Thoughts, Intuition, Knowledge and Being
Question: When I try to self-observe I have difficulty know what I am seeing or who is observing. I see thoughts but can't tell where they come from. I find that I am not able to do anything!
Speaker: The thing is self-observation does not mean you’re not able to do things. In the beginning it’s hard because it’s disorienting—it’s an entirely new skill we need to develop here and now. It’s very challenging to learn, but when you ride your bicycle, you learn to balance. In the same way, you learn to fulfill your obligations without forgetting your Being (wujud in Arabic).
We say a thought comes from an ego and an ego manifests in the mind, the heart, and the body. Now there’s thoughts that come from our ego, our own desires, nafs, but there is also thoughts that come from God, like an intuition or concept that emerges from our mind like a spark. We immediately comprehend something because were paying attention; we’re not thinking about other things. The Sufis call that khatir haqq: true thoughts or intuition from God.
Thoughts (khawatir) are declarations that arrive in one’s awareness. This may result from the dictation of an angel or from the dictation of a devil, or from the operations of the ego or may come from the Truth, glory to Him. If thoughts come from an angel, they are called inspired suggestions, ilham. If they are from one’s ego, they are called notions, hawajis. If they are from satan, they are called imaginations and anxieties, waswas. If they are from the Truth, glory to Him, and His dictation to the heart, they are called true thought, khatir haqq. And all of these are a kind of talking. –Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah
So there are thoughts that can come from divinity, but typically ninety-seven percent of the thoughts that we have are subjective and clouding our perception of our Inner Being. We have to remember that we are 97% conditioned perception or nafs. Only 3% of our consciousness is not conditioned or trapped within defects.
Now in terms of knowledge, we always balance being (wujud) and knowing (intellectual concepts). It’s not enough just to be. We have to do our job, pay our bills, do our work, take care of our family, etc., and if its hard in the beginning to be aware while living daily life, it gets easier as we practice. Don’t feel discouraged that this something that you can’t do, because anyone can do this. It just takes a certain disciple and faith in your Inner Being.
We say that being and knowledge need to be balanced. Knowledge, language, culture, customs, job skills, etc., constitute things we need to do to survive. We constantly need to balance that with our internal states, our being, remembering our Innermost Spirit (Ruh) as a presence through an alert state and novel perception of our internal psychology.
Samael Aun Weor states in The Great Rebellion the following:
Being and knowledge must be balanced to establish a sudden blaze of comprehension within our psyche. When knowledge is greater than being it creates all kind of intellectual confusion. If being is greater than knowing it can create cases as serious as that of the stupid saint.
Now if we simply read about spiritually, about astral projection, about jinn states, jinn travel, about alchemy, reading about the ten Sephiroth of the tree of life, the different states of consciousness of the Being, etc., but don’t actually experience these things, then they just remain as knowledge in our mind, in our intellect. However, if we develop our being, but we don’t know how to pay our bills, take care of our rent, study certain skills for our profession, to live in this physical world, one can develop a case as serious as that of the stupid saint.
There’s a Russian initiate by the name of Fyodor Dostoyevsky who wrote many famous novels which people don’t suspect being esoteric. He wrote a book called The Idiot, which talks about precisely this kind of case, the stupid saint, someone who has a lot of being (wujud) and a lot of virtue but doesn't have the skills necessary to navigate the Russian nineteenth century social world in which he lives. He gets in trouble. I recommend, if you’re interested, to look into that. We’re not going to go so much in depth into that book right now, however.
When we begin to self-observe ourselves, to observe our internal states, naturally we are confused; we struggle. It’s not easy to constantly observe ourselves and remember how our mind, how our heart function. It’s like riding a bike. In the internal planes, in the superior worlds, if you ask a master, (such as in the dream state if you awaken in that realm) to show you “Am I remembering myself well?” they may come to you riding a bicycle. They’re symbolically showing you that you're learning to ride your bike. If you see them falling off then it means you still need to learn how to maintain what we denominate psychological equilibrium.
What is psychological equilibrium? It means to have consistency in one's mindfulness, awareness, throughout every day, having consistency in not identifying with thoughts, feelings, or impulses from the ego, from our nafs.
The way that we develop access to that state is by precisely learning in this physical plane self-observation, remembering divinity here and now. In this graphic, we teach this diagram often and its something that we need to analyze. Its the cross. We talk about the cross in these teachings as the representation of the work in a matrimony and we have that teaching available in The Perfect Matrimony and The Mystery of the Golden Blossom by Samael Aun Weor.
In this diagram we have two lines: the horizontal path of life and the vertical path of the being. So knowledge precisely pertains to life; we need certain skills and knowledge to be able to subsist in this jungle of concrete and iron. We need to study, go to college, or go to school to learn certain skills so that we know how to live in this world. It’s essential. Many people, most of humanity, simply develop on the horizontal line. They think that they are going to perfect themselves by going to a university, by getting a masters degree, by studying extensively and developing a profound profession, but they ignore that in this instant, here and now (waqt), we have the vertical path of the being (wujud), which is perception of God. Life and being intersects in this instant.
It is here and now in which we have our Being. It is not in future; it is not in the past. This is something that seems very simple and even like kindergarten, but the truth is, this is something very profound that we typically ignore. To be ignorant does not mean to lack intellectual knowledge, but to lack gnosis or cognizance of our psychology as it is. This is essential to grasp whether for beginning students and for advanced students. We always have to remember where we are. What is going on in our mind? What is going on in our heart? What is going on in our body? These things teach us precisely what is our level of knowledge of ourselves, what is our self-knowledge of God, what is our level of Being.
On the left of the line of life, we have our birth; to the right, through the progression of time, we have family, school, marriage, friends, old age, and death. None of that has anything to do with God because God is here on the vertical path. God does not look to the future or does not concern Himself so much with things that have not yet happened. Although there are such things such as prophecy: to foretell future events, what God is most concerned with is how we connect with Him in this moment.
Who are we in this instant? We need to observe ourselves, not by projecting thoughts into the future or thinking about the past. We have to be aware of who we are here and now. This is the work of self-observation, observing ourselves. Remembering (muhadarah) the presence (hudur) of our Inner Being is precisely the path of striving, the path of war, jihad, against our mind.
So fighting desire is really what jihad is about. However, in the times of the Prophet, life was very different, where the Companions and followers of Islam were in danger. The spreading of esotericism in the middle east was in peril, so they needed to defend themselves from attackers, physically speaking. In these times, especially in the West, we do not need to defend ourselves against oppressors in a life or death situation. Therefore we don't condone the bloodshed waged supposedly in the name of "holy wars." It’s unacceptable, since the real path of jihad is striving against ones desires.
Fighting against our own anger and defects is how we benefit ourselves and humanity. We don't teach violence against others. The lesser holy war is really the expression of teaching the truth by defending against wrongdoing, not killing other individuals in the name of Islam or Christianity or any other holy war. To wage war against others is to teach by being a good example, being a good citizen, a good person. This is the lesser holy war for us, but the greater holy war is precisely the striving that we make moment to moment, here and now, to remember Allah.
As Al-Wasati states in what is probably the greatest Sufi treatise, Al-Risalah:
The best act of worship is watchfulness of the moments. That is, the Sufi does not look beyond his limits, nor contemplate anything other than his Lord and not associate anything other than the present moment.
It means that whatever were doing: don’t fantasize, don’t analyze, don’t daydream, don't think other thing than what you're doing. If you're driving a car, drive. If your receiving a lecture, listen. Don’t think. Just observe and listen. When you're cooking food, just cook—don’t think about other things. If we really look at ourselves, we see that this is what we do all day. We drive our car and think about our family. We’re listening to the radio doing all these things at once and not doing anything with attention.
The way that we develop attention is by not thinking about other things. Attention is developed by doing what we're doing, here and now, without concern for the future or the past. Just being mindful of our state here and now. This is what it means not to contemplate anything other than our Lord. The way to remember the presence of the Being is to remember ourselves and cultivate this sense of humility and love to our Inner Divinity.
Self-Remembering and Serene Reflection
So many people ask us, “What is self remembering?” We talk about self-observing, to observe ourselves. but many people don't understand what self-remembering is. We talk about the need of understanding ourselves, analyzing our thoughts, our emotions, our instincts in our body, without deliberating with the intellect. But to remember God is to feel the presence of our Inner Divinity within us. To feel that we are children of our Inner Being, that our Being is with us here and now, to be aware (muhadarah) of the Presence (hudur). No one can teach us that. That is something we have to develop on our own. The way that we develop this remembrance is through working throughout the day, analyzing our internal states without the intellect, observing ourselves and by learning to meditate. We should remember that if we have a lot of ease and prosperity in our life, we should use it to develop the practice of meditation to develop our spirit (ruh) within us.
The Sufi Master Dhu'l-Nun al-Misri stated the following:
The key to the success in worship lies in meditative reflection (fikrat) whoever persists in such reflection in the heart will behold an invisible realm in the spirit.
So many people want to have out of body experiences, astral travels, jinn experiences. Any individual who wants to experience the truth of life, the higher dimensions, to speak with a master, to be awake in the dream state, in the internal realms, must learn how to meditate and develop meditative reflection.
Now it’s stated in Buddhist terms that we need to develop stability of mind and special insight: Shamata and Vipassana. Shamata, stability of mind, is a state of being which is concentrated, in which we do not get easily distracted by our thoughts, emotions or impulse. There are levels of concentration that we can access by paying attention, moment by moment, throughout the day.
When we develop that concentration and attention we are able to perceive things in a new way. We That’s where Vipassana comes in—special insight, perception of the truth. When the mind is serene and stable, we can receive new insight, such as internal images in meditation or dream experiences. This is what meditative reflection (fikrat) means.
The Sufis synthesized the Buddhist teachings of stability of mind and perception of the truth thorough fikrat. If the waters of your mind are unstable, if they are constantly chaotic, you cannot reflect any image on the surface. But if the lake of the mind is peaceful and calm, then the stars of Urania, the Divine Mother, can reflect within you. That’s what meditative reflection means.
The way that we get there is this:
Whoever contemplates God by keeping watch over the thoughts that pass through the heart will be exalted by God and all of His outward deeds. -Dhu'l-Nun al-Misri, Attar Tadhkirat 154-155
If we practice inner-accounting (muhasabah of our psychological inventory: our defects or virtues, taking account of our habits, our customs, things we do constantly, and then analyze this in conjunction with the remembrance of the presence of God, we will become exalted by God in our actions. When we are connected with God then he can bless us, but if we are distracted in our mind, if we choose not to follow the impetus of our Being, then we in turn suffer.
Question: You speak a lot about self-observation. What does it mean to meditate?
Speaker: Meditation is vigilant introspection (muraqabah), when you analyze what happened in the day; we call that retrospection practice. In the moment we simply observe, but when we meditate later we go back through our memory what happened in our day. We have to observe the facts.
Internal Silence and Spiritual Insight
Being forthcoming and honest with ourselves involves a variety of factors. In one sense we need to have stability of concentration in which the mind is settled and serene, so we can observe clearly. If we find that we are not able to perceive clearly what's going on in our psyche, we need to develop the faculty of self-observation deeper, to not identify with the chaos of the intellect, the disturbances of the heart, or the impulses of our body and instincts. We call the faculty of perception or reflection, in these studies, by the term imagination. This is the ability to perceive images, especially of a psychic nature. We’re going to explain this further. The way that we develop our insight, imagination, perception is precisely by developing our serenity of mind, silence of mind.
We have in this image a Sufi initiate praying and meditating.
It is said silence for the common people is with their tongues, silence for the gnostics is with their hearts, and silence for lovers is with restraining the stray thoughts that come to their innermost beings. -Al-Risalah: Treatise of Sufism by Al-Qushayri
So in the beginning we learn not to speak unnecessarily, not to engage in conversations which are just fruitless gossip. We need to learn to restrain our tongue from engaging in speech that is frivolous and frivolous speech, as a defect or vice in our mind, is one of the ten sins of Buddhism. To speak without thinking about what were saying and what were doing greatly disturbs our mind and prevents us from seeing with our Essence, with clarity, with serenity of mind. Swami Sivananda stated that many disciples suffer the disease of the diarrhea of the tongue in which they constantly speak without understanding what they're saying or what they're doing. They just speak because they want to talk. Khalil Gibran, the Sufi Christian Mystic, author of The Prophet gave a very beautiful teaching on that.
And then a scholar said, "Speak of Talking."
And he answered, saying:
You talk when you cease to be at peace with your thoughts;
And when you can no longer dwell in the solitude of your heart (samt) you live in your lips, and sound is a diversion and a pastime.
And in much of your talking, thinking (true thought, Khatir al-Haqq) is half murdered.
For thought (Khatir al-Haqq, true consciousness) is a bird of space (the Divine Mother Space or Absolute Nature, Allah), that in a cage of words many indeed unfold its wings but cannot fly.
There are those among you who seek the talkative through fear of being alone.
The silence of aloneness reveals to their (inner) eyes their naked selves (nafs, defects, errors) and they would escape.
And there are those who talk, and without knowledge or forethought reveal a truth which they themselves do not understand.
And there are those who have the truth within them, but they tell it not in words (for the Master speaks in silence of the heart).
In the bosom of such as these the spirit dwells in rhythmic silence (serene reflection, fikrat).
When you meet your friend on the roadside or in the market place, let the spirit in you move your lips and direct your tongue.
Let the voice within your voice speak to the ear of his ear;
For his soul will keep the truth of your heart as the taste of the wine is remembered
When the colour is forgotten and the vessel is no more. -Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet: On Talking
For as Prophet Muhammad taught about the Being in the Hadith Qudsi:
...so with Me he hears and with Me he sees.
The silence of the gnostics with their hearts indicates a person who is developing serenity of heart, who is not even engaged in negative emotions of the heart. Most of us are not at that degree, but we can experience states here and now if we're working in self-observation from moment to moment.
Silence for the lovers is by restraining the thoughts that come to our mind, our innermost being. Someone who really loves God will not even allow a single thought to enter the mind and let it control them, but that takes tremendous skill. This is the level of a Master, a prophet. The way that we get there is by cultivating serenity and reflection: self-observation.
Self-observation is taught in many different ways within Islam. In this next image we have a Muslim in a minaret making a call to prayer (adhan). Muslims are known to pray five times a day, which can be a profound discipline if it is done correctly. If we really know how to pray five times a day, consciously, with remembrance, then we can receive tremendous benefit. However, Muslims now a days just pray mechanically: “God please give a good car, family, spouse” and they think that’s it. They do it in a mechanical manner, but to be conscious in one's heart while praying to God is something very distinct. The initiates of the Middle East were instructed by Muhammad to pray constantly, to develop the heart.
Basically in terms of self observation, praying five times a day, was means of cultivating self-remembrance, and we know that Muslims pray in the morning, the afternoon, mid-afternoon, early evening, and evening. Five represents the pentagram, the human being made into the image of God. Praying in this manner was in order to cultivate self-remembrance. It wasn’t just to go to a Mosque and pray mechanically without knowledge of what one is saying.
Shakespeare stated through his murderous character Claudius, who tried to repent after killing his brother, the former King of Denmark:
My words fly up to heaven, my thoughts remain below.
Words without thoughts never to heaven go. (Hamlet, 3.3.100-103)
If you're not concentrated in your prayers, you can say as many words as you want: they will not be answered by God. But if you're humble, sincere, and concentrated, that is how you connect with your Being.
The Shahadah: Declaration of Faith and Contemplation in Meditation
Vigilance, to be awake as a consciousness through remembrance of God, is the best form of prayer, as stated in Al-Risalah, one of the most important treatises of Sufism. The following is one of the most important quotes, in my opinion, of this text:
Al-Juyayri said that, “Whosoever does not establish awe of duty (consistency of spiritual practice and discipline) and vigilance (muraqabah) in his relations to God will not arrive at the disclosure of unseen (mukashafah) or contemplation of the divine (mushahidah).
What does it mean to establish “awe of duty?" It is to really respect the fact that we need to self-observe constantly, to feel the awe of God in every moment. We can't forget our Being in any instant. We have to remember our Being in this moment, always. To have awe of duty is to really comprehend the necessity of daily spiritual discipline, to not neglect one's practices of meditation. Also, if we don’t know how to control our mind in critical moments, we can end up in great suffering. We can get into a conversation with a friend but end in tremendous conflict, or a fight with our co-workers or spouse. We need to establish awe of duty, to really respect the fact and understand that if we don't observe ourselves, we could fall off the cliff into the abyss of suffering. Even physically, people who don't pay attention driving their car can get killed.
This is even more so in a spiritual sense, a reality that we profoundly ignore. If we don't remember our God but identify with our mind, then we create problems. Samael Aun Weor explained that the one who identifies with the mind falls into the abyss, into the infradimensions, submerged states of conditioned consciousness known as hell in different religions.
Now we to always be aware of that Presence (hudur) so as to arrive at disclosure (mukashafah), meaning the entrance into spiritual experience, to open the doors of our imagination (reflection). This can occur through internal imagery in meditation or a profound insight in the moment of a specific defect, ego, or naf. Disclosure can also be termed "unveiling," since if you remember our reference to the hijab or burka, we are beginning to remove the veils of our illusory perception in order to enter into genuine spiritual insight (firasa), conscious imagination.
Contemplation of the divine (mushahdah) is the ultimate step. The word contemplation relates to the shahadah, the Muslim declaration of faith, which is one of the five pillars of Islam, which textually states the following:
lā ʾilāha ʾillā-llāh, muḥammadun rasūlu-llāh
There is no god but God, Muhammad is the messenger of God.
Millions of Muslims recite this, yet the question is whether they have really experienced Allah in meditation. The sad reality is that most Muslims don't contemplate God in practice. They just say this confession mechanically and believe they are true Muslims, initiates, Masters. A real Muslim, like Prophet Muhammad or Jesus submitted to the Being through conquering animal desires.
Yet do many Muslims today really submit to God? How can we submit to God when our mind stream is polluted with anger, lust, greed and violence? Look at the middle east today. The Muslim community does not uphold submission to God.
Those of us who are studying these things have to comprehend that in order to really give testimony of Allah, we need to meditate. In order to say the shahadah, we need to practice mushahadah, contemplation or meditation. It is only in meditation that we can bear witness of God, to perceive the Being in all His majesty and glory. If we don't know God for ourselves, if we lack spiritual experience of our inner divinity, then we can’t say that God is God and Muhammad is the Messenger of God.
In Kabbalah, Allah is known as Ain Soph, our supra-atomic star within the depths of the Absolute Abstract Space. Our real synthesis or Being is an atom from the cosmic space, a pure eternal light mentioned in Surat Al-Nur:
Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The parable of His Light is a niche wherein is a lamp —the lamp is in a glass, the glass as it were a glittering star— lit from a blessed olive tree, neither eastern nor western, whose oil almost lights up, though fire should not touch it. Light upon light. Allah guides to His Light whomever He wishes. Allah draws parables for mankind, and Allah has knowledge of all things. -Qur'an 24:35
God, Ain Soph (the Limitless Joy) is light, beyond good and evil, that has always existed and always will exist. God is infinite happiness, pure being (wujud), and yet most of these stars lack cognizance of their own happiness. This is why the Ain Soph emanates Its light into the world, so as to be known.
Allah (Ain Soph) said, “I was a hidden treasure, and I was wished to be known, so I created creation (mankind), and made myself known to them, and they recognized me.”
Therefore, a true Muslim is a consciousness that submits to the will of the Ain Soph and has witnessed the Ain Soph within. God can only comprehend Himself through His soul, if that soul cooperates, so that the soul unites with its supra-atomic star. The soul is a mirror, as explained by Ibn al-Arabi, the great Sufi master, that can reflect divinity, so that divinity (Ain Soph) can know Itself. This is mushahadah (witnessing, contemplation). Only a person who has experienced and united with the Ain Soph can be called someone who has truly witnessed God.
The Four States of Consciousness
We have here in the next graphic an explanation of the different states of consciousness. We’re speaking in synthesis about being objectively perceptive or being hypnotized and identified with our mind. In this teaching we talk about four states of consciousness. Self-remembrance and self-observation relates with the third state of consciousness known as Dianoia.
We use Greek terms to refer to these states of our perception. Eikasia is the first state of consciousness and it pertains to a profound state of psychological sleep. It pertains to being identified with our mind, with anger, with pride, with vanity, with ego, with our defects—having no inclination towards or awareness of God at all.
What’s interesting about the Greek word Eikasia is that it comes from the Greek word eikonon, which means images. Eikasia means imagination. Now we just mentioned that the faculty of self-observation is imagination, but we have to understand that perception is dual. It can be objective, in harmony with God, or it can be subjective, filtered by our own mind, our defects.
Now it's true that we here in this physical body see images, eikonon. On the most basic level, we have a type of imagination as to perceive physically. We have a certain level of perception, but this doesn't mean that we are cognizant, aware, or clear about what we are perceiving. Many times we see things but don't comprehend what we see. This is our fundamental problem. We receive the impressions of life, which enter our mind, and our mind filters impressions and labels them with concepts. For example, we say we know what we are doing in a given day, but if we sit to reflect and remember our internal states within a given moment of our morning, afternoon, or evening, we often will find that there are tremendous gaps in our memory. What did we do? What were we thinking? What did we say to a certain person at a job interview this morning? If we lack cognizance of the details, it means that our consciousness is in a profound state of sleep, even though one can be physically very active. The state of Eikasia is complete unconsciousness. We may see imagery and impressions, but if we do not comprehend what these impressions are in the external world in relation to our inner world, then we lack genuine awareness of ourselves.
The next state of consciousness we call Pistis, which means belief. It translates also as faith, but we state that the latter is an erroneous translation. Beliefs are of the mind, whereas faith is direct cognizance of the truth, to really know something directly. So many people who talk about faith don’t understand that what they really have are a lot of beliefs, ideas or concepts in the mind or heart that do not coincide with reality. They have never verified what those scriptures taught. They never traveled out of the body, experienced a supra-conscious state of samadhi in meditation, or had a mystical or ecstatic experience whereby they witnessed or contemplated God (mushahadah).
Pistis comes from pistieo: "to trust, to have confidence, faithfulness, to be reliable to be sure." Pistis is the second state of consciousness and pertains to beliefs, concepts, or ideas in the intellect. It is anything we have read that we have not verified through experience. Therefore, all of the thousands of philosophical schools, all the people who follow a religion or teaching but have never verified from experience the teachings of that given school or religion possess the second state of consciousness: Pistis.
Humanity constantly fluctuates between Eikasia and Pistis. Eikasia is barbarism, war, bloodshed, violence, anger, sarcasm, and all the degeneration of subconsciousness, infraconsciousness, and unconsciousness within humanity. Pistis refers to all the beliefs and schools that pertain to the different concepts that people have about God, religion, and ourselves.
What concerns us most is the transcendent, third state of consciousness known as Dianoia. Dianoia, we say is the revision of belief. It also directly means "imagination." So notice that we have Eikasia, which means imagination, but then we also have Dianoia that means the same thing. There’s a dual way of perceiving life; we can perceive it with our mind, our ego, our nafs, or we can perceive it objectively with our Being (wujud). Dianoia also means "thought, mind, perception." The word "dia" means "thoroughly from side to side, which intensifies noia, meaning mind or nous." So Dianoia means to change your mind, to revise your mind in its common and current state.
Dianoia is revision of beliefs, cultural spiritual and intellectual synthesis, profound study of scripture with direct experience of what the scriptures entail. It refers to profound meditative analysis, cognizance of the truth, and direct perception of one’s internal states. Notice we've been talking about awareness (muhadarah), self-observation or inner accounting (muhasabah) and vigilant introspection (muraqaba). All of this is perception unfiltered by ego, nafs, defects, and constitutes the revision of our ordinary mind or psyche.
All of us, without exception, possess Pistis: we have certain concepts about who we are, and when we begin to self-observe ourselves we find that we are not who we thought we were. We change our concepts about ourselves; we change our beliefs. We revise them and we develop a new type of concept and understanding, which is awakened perception, Dianioa, cognizance of the truth. However, Dianioa is not the end. We have Nous, which means "mind, intellect, intelligence." Now these Greek terms were used by Plato and you can study The Republic, specifically "The Allegory of the Cave,” which explains in synthesis these four states of consciousness. We have explained in different lectures the meaning of this, but Nous pertains to consciousness that is united with Christ, with Allah, our Inner Divinity. It means that we've escaped the bottle of the mind in mediation and as a consciousness we’ve united with our Being, so as to bear witness of Him (mushahadah).
In this type of perception there is no possibility for delusion, because one has the consciousness of divinity through divinity, for as the Sufis teach: "I know my Lord by my Lord." God then contemplates Himself through the mirror of the soul. There is no misperception within our internal psyche. Nous pertains to having fully united with our Being. This is known as samadhi in the east or ecstasy or exstatuo in Latin. Ecstasy means to stand outside one’s self. Ex means to be outside; statu means to stand. It means that we escape the subjective imprisonment of our mind in order to subsist as God, or to unite with God. Of course this is very elevated. To fully develop this is to walk the path completely, but in meditation we can activate those states in a temporary fashion if we are persistent.
In this next graphic, we show the image of the Tree of Life, the Hebraic Kabbalah, which is the mystical science of Judaism. As a graphic, we use it to demonstrate the different states of consciousness, matter, energy, and being. The highest levels are the most elevated states of consciousness, while the lower levels are the most dense. We use this diagram to study any religion: whether Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, or Christianity, because it teaches us the structure of the human being, the soul, as well as the Universe.
There is a saying by the Sufi initiate Abu Sa'id in Ibn Manuwwar: Asrar At-tawid:
Wherever the delusion of your selfhood appears there’s hell. Wherever you aren’t, that’s heaven.
This is very clear. If we are here, if we are identified with our mind, we can not experience the Tree of Life, the complete expression and majesty, the unity of God, because heaven is the Tree of Life, this diagram. If we do not remember God, we cannot escape or stand outside ourselves, our egotistical mentality. Now wherever the ego isn’t, that's heaven: meaning we’re revising our mind through Dianoia, standing outside of ourselves, analyzing who we are and escaping form the limitations of our mind. This is how we can in turn can unite with our Internal Divinity. So that’s heaven. Heaven is where we aren’t. If we say we know ourselves, but we don't know God, it means that we don't really know ourselves, that we ignore a lot. In order to be able to ascend the Tree of Life, we need to know this science of meditation and what we call the “three factors of the revolution of the consciousness."
Here we have an image of Muhammad riding a mystical creature. This is known as the al-Miraj, the ascension of the Prophet Muhammad up the seven heavens. In Islam, they talk about the seven heavens or seven dimensions, synthesized by the Tree of Life, which can also be organized or described as nine heavens in Kabbalah. So they may seem different, but they're really expressing the same thing.
In the Muslim myth (and I use the term myth not in the sense of a made up story, but as an allegorical and scientific teaching), we see that Muhammad was meditating on the mosque of Mecca. Some traditions even state that his head was on the stone of Mecca, like in Jacob's ladder. Now the Ka'aba is the cubic stone of the Freemasons and the Ka'aba is a black stone pertaining to the vital energies of our bodies. It’s where the serpent, the Divine Mother Kundalini sleeps, for as Pre-Muslim Arabian mythology taught, a serpant was said to be guarding a treasure inside the Ka'aba, reminding us that the treasure is Allah that we must conquer through the serpent. We call this serpent the sexual energy, and so this stone that the Master was sleeping by is where he had a profound experience.
He was taken by al-Buraq, which in Arabic translates as "lightning." This creature is said to be the size of a mule with the face of a women, the tale of a peacock, and wings like Pegasus. Al-Buraq, "the lightning," refers to the creative power of the Divine Mother Kundalini, because lightening in Nordic is the Rune Sig and the sacred mantra of the Divine Mother, in the Nordic tradition, is “Sulu Sigi Sig." She is that power of lightning in our body, the serpent sleeping in our stone or sexual energy, which can awaken if we know how to harness and work with Her through alchemy (Allah-Khemia, to fuse oneself with God in sexual magic) and meditation (mushahadah). We can ascend up the seven heavens like Muhammad.
He was taken on this creature from the mosque of Mecca (Masjid al-Haram) to the temple of Jerusalem (Masjid-al-Aqsa) and it was there in which he ascended up the seven heavens and received many sacred teachings pertinent to Islam, but also to Gnosticism. This energy, this creative power of God, is portrayed here; we can see he’s surrounded by flames, the fire of the Divine Mother, the sexual creative power of God. And that has illuminated his psyche. So in conjunction with meditation and self-observation, we cultivate a serene state and work with the energies of our body.
Now in order to ascend up these heavens we have to be completely absent from our common egotistical sense of self. We're saying this in a very Zen way. It doesn't mean that we forget ourselves and do not pay attention. It means that we abandon our common and current psychology by learning to pay attention, to observe the mind. Do not identify with any impressions outside you or inside your mind, in your heart.
In general it is to the measure of one’s alienation from one’s own ego that one attains direct knowledge of one’s own Lord. -Al-Risalah
Knowledge again in Greek is Gnosis, and in Arabic is Marifah. The Kabbalists call this Da’ath. I didn’t mention this in the beginning, but these are just different words for the same teachings.
I heard Abu Ali al-Daqqaq say, "One of the tokens of the Gnosis of God is the achievement of deep awe and reverence for God. If someone’s realization increases, his awe increases." -Al-Risalah
So the more that we remember God, the more respect, terror and love we have for the Being, for that overwhelming, overpowering force, if we know how to obey the will of our God.
And I heard him say, "Gnosis requires stillness of heart just as learning requires outward quiet. If someone’s gnosis increases, his tranquility increases." -Al-Risalah
The deeper we understand our Being, the deeper we go into our meditation, the more gnosis we develop in ourselves, the more peace we have, the more serenity we have in our consciousness and in our Being.
This path is the path of peace. So we talked about jihad, striving. The way that we attain to peace is by fighting against our desires and practicing mushahadah, which is contemplation in meditation. There's a saying by Ibn Karbala'i in his Rawdat al-janan:
When the seeker realizes the station of contemplation (mushahadah), which is witnessing God’s essence comprehending and encompassing all phenomenon…
This means we are understanding that God is within everything, all impressions, internal and external within this moment, and we’re actually perceiving this fact. We’re not projecting with our mind; we're not distracted by other things, but aware of how God is present with us.
"Does not your Lord suffice, since He is witness over all things" (Surah 41:53)--he continually witnesses lights through the mundis invisibilis, the invisible world. -Ibn Karbala'i
What are these lights? In meditation it can be imagery; it can be symbols. It can be spiritual experiences. More directly we could say it pertains to insight about our psyche and our intelligence, who we are in this instant. To continuously witness lights is to perceive insight from your Being, which you can only perceive in this moment by learning to pay attention.
From such a mystic perspective, this world and the hereafter are one and the same. This can only be realized by a vision that is all heart and spirit, not of view bound by mere mud and mire. -Ibn Karbala'i
So again we’re talking about two types of vision—Dianoia and Nous, which is objective imagination and perception of the truth, cognizance of God. This is in contrast with the subjective nature of Eikasia and Pistis, meaning of the mud and mire of our mind, the filtrations to our perception via our ego. So again, we emphasize that the testimony of faith amongst the Muslims, the shahadah, is only validated through contemplation of divinity (mushahadah). So in order to really give testimony of God, we have to have that experience in our own psyche, in our own consciousness.
We have here the image of the Tree of Life and the human being. So the human being is the Tree of Life. In the previous slide, we have this statement: “From this mystic perspective this world and the hereafter are one in the same." This means that this Tree of Life is not just some abstract concept to argue or debate about. It’s something entirely practical and directly relatable to us here and now. This world is our physical body, which is the image on the right and the hereafter is the Tree of Life. So they are really one in the same.
The Tree of Life is the map of the human psyche, the different levels of the consciousness and Being, or our humanity and our divinity in other words. On the right we have the image of the human being with what we call the five centers of our psychology. On the right we see this image of five centers of five cylinders of the human machine. We say that the body is a machine that transforms matter and energy. Likewise, our psyche is a machine that is typically not controlled and governed by God, simply because we don't remember our Being; we have the make an effort with what free will we have in order to work with God. Usually what controls these different centers in our organism are our defects. The five centers are where our nafs, desires, egos manifest.
In the head we have the intellectual center. We can call it the intellectual brain. A brain we say in Gnosticism pertains to a center of action in which energy and matter can be processed either physically, such as through bio-chemistry, or psychologically through mental energies. We have the emotional center or emotional brain related to the processes of emotion like, dislike; pleasure, pain; love hate; etc. At the top of the spine we have the motor center which is how we process movement. If we're really paying attention, we can see that a lot of our impetus to move comes from the top of the spine. This explains why individuals who are injured in the spine are paralyzed because the motor center cannot function.
There’s a vertebrae that connects the bottom of the medulla oblongata with the rest of the spine near the nape of the neck. It’s a critical juncture, a critical spot. It’s where we have our motor center. It’s a very sensitive spot. We also have our center of instinct which is at the base of the spine, the sacral bone or sacral center. Individuals who are engaged in activities such as boxing overuse this center, where they constantly react. The instinctive center relates with animal reactions, such as when we burn our hand on a stove and immediately retract our hand before we even think of how it hurts or being emotionally upset, because the instinctive center operates faster than the intellect or the heart.
We also have the sexual center related with our sexual organs, which is the fastest operating component of our psyche. Sexual energy is the basis of all physical life as well as all spiritual life, as we explained in other lectures and about the power of divinity, al-Buraq, the lightening of Christ, the Divine Mother Kundalini. This sacred fire is precisely in the sexual center, within the base of our spine too. When we know how to work with that force through mantra, through pranayama, through alchemy, we learn to develop that force within us.
So we observe ourselves precisely through these centers. Every defect, every ego, every naf has its own ways of thinking, its own ways of feelings, its own ways of acting. They all have different types of movement. They may be very instinctual egos, maybe spontaneous and abrupt, such as if you put your hand on a stove and you react. There's an ego involved, but also if we learn to become conscious we won’t put our hand in the fire in the first place. The thing is, the ego uses the different centers all at once. Some egos may have a predominance towards the intellect. Some may be more emotional. Some may be more instinctual; some may be sexual. However, every ego uses each of the three brains in any instant. Yet there tends to be a predominance in the different centers.
We could say that typically we react with ego, but if we become conscious, we can learn to respond to situations. Some people ask, "What will happen if I don't have instinct? Won't I be unable to react to a dangerous situation such as burning my hand?" If we comprehend and destroy our instincts, then we will become conscious citizens of the universe, whereby we won't even allow ourselves to get involved in situations where we might burn our hand! Therefore, we don't need instincts: these are subjective and mechanical, having nothing to do with Allah (may He be praised and exalted). So don’t think that by eliminating instinct that one doesn't have the ability to react; we develop the capacity to respond to any situation without any subjective interference from our mind. So different egos, nafs manifest in different centers with greater predominance of one towards a particular center over the other.
At the top of the Tree of Life we have the three spheres known as Kether, Chokmah, and Binah; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. So in Islam, this is Allah, because the Trinity is a single light. Now many Muslims of the orthodox tradition emphasize that there is no Trinity and that Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) never taught the Trinity. He did not teach in accordance with the degeneration of the Christian Church or the degeneration of the Christian scriptures. Many people in that time (and even today) think that the Trinity was actually a physical Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—physical individuals, not spiritual principles.
We have to understand that diversity is unity. God expresses in many ways, yet is one light. There is no contradiction between religions, as demonstrated by Kabbalah. When Muslims reject the Trinity, they do so from the perspective that God is a not three anthropormorphic persons. Instead, the initiates knew that God is One, and that Unity has many levels of expression, represented by the Kabbalistic Tree of a Life. Now Allah is Father, Son, Holy Spirit; Kether, Chokmah, and Binah. These are three forces in one. Beneath the supernal triangle on the lower right, we have Chesed, which is our Spirit (ruh), which is God, our own individual Father. Our Spirit is also apart of Allah, the Christ. You see Allah is also Chesed as well. This is why when Sufis pronounce the mantra "Allahu," they are referring to Father, Son and Holy Spirit, as well as Hu, or Hum, the spirit. So Allah can be seen as Father, Son, Holy Spirit, and the Spirit, Chesed, the Innermost, the Inner Buddha. Divinity is one, but expresses as many.
The Being even has His Being too, which is the Ain Soph above the Tree of Life, our supra-atomic star, as we explained previously, the light of Surat al-Nur. In Gnostic terms we say the Inner Child is our Essence, our Soul. We call it the soul that is in development, a baby that can become a true human being as shown in the Tree of Life. Christ (Chokmah) also is a child when manifesting in the initiate for the first time. That child grows and develops in accordance with initiation (see The Perfect Matrimony by Samael Aun Weor). The Inner Child we say pertaining to Gnostic psychology is the Essence but it also refers to the Christ child.
Chesed is the Spirit, which is in Hebrew, El similar to Allah. The same Semitic roots are there. We represent the complete expression of divinity and our humanity as ten spheres, which seem to be distinct, but when fully developed in the human being, become integrated. Jalaluddin Muhammad Rumi, the great Sufi master and poet, stated:
If ten lamps are present in one place,
each differs in form from another;
yet you can’t distinguish whose radiance is whose
when you focus on the light.
This is the case with the fully illuminated Masters who have developed the light of Christ within, the light of Buddha within, the light of Allah. This is the esoteric meaning of the Christmas tree: a fully illuminated Tree of Life, a perfected Being that knows Itself completely.
Now to the left we have Geburah, which is the consciousness, the Divine Soul. In the middle we have Tiphereth, which is the Human Soul or willpower, and then beneath that we have what we call the “lower quaternary,” which is a representation of Netzach our mind, Hod our emotions, Yesod our sexuality or vital energy, and Malkuth, our physical body.
In comparison to the human being, the intellectual center relates with Netzach, the mind. We say Hod the astral body relates with heart, the emotional center, our emotion brain. We have Yesod relating to our vital body, our vital energies. We also have the sphere that pertains to our physical body, Malkuth.
In synthesis, the Tree of Life explains to us who we are as a human being, as a consciousness, as a psyche. We also study ourselves in terms of our three brains and analyzing our makeup, how we function. The work now comes into play when we observe the intellectual, emotional, motor, instructive and sexual centers all at once. By understanding these centers and how the ego, nafs operate is how we know ourselves. Then in meditation (mushahadah), we beg our Divine Mother and Inner Father to help us comprehend ourselves in depth. It begins by learning to observe ourselves in this moment, in this instant.
The path of self knowledge is one in which we develop God within. We do that precisely by working on our defects through retrospective meditation and how we comprehend our defects all depends on how we pay attention, here and now, in this instant.
Questions and Answers
Audience: Is Rudolph Steiner’s “Much wiser man inside” the same reference as the Inner Being of Samael Aun Weor?
Speaker: Yes, Paul of Tarsus in the Gospel refers to the two inner men: the heavenly man and the terrestrial man. The terrestrial man is precisely Tiphereth, willpower; Netzach, the mind; Hod, the astral body; Yesod, vital energy and our physicality. The heavenly man is God above, which is our consciousness our Spirit, (Ruh) and Christ.
Nous is a type of mind that is united with God, the Christ force. Nous has levels according to the Tree of Life. Dianoia can refer to Malkuth up to Tiphereth. It’s a type of consciousness in which we are beginning to awaken. Fully illuminated spiritual perception relates to the five higher Sephiroth or spheres of the Tree of Life, whereby divinity manifests. Nous pertains to the Divine Soul (Geburah the divine consciousness) which is part of God the Spirit to the right (Chesed), and Kether, Chokmah, Binah: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Now, we have to remember that God does not enter into impurity. God is not impure—only the human soul our willpower can either obey God or fall down and obey our ego. Our ego is what is impure, so we as a consciousness or soul are really apart of Tiphereth within different bodies. You could say these are different spheres of being and of consciousness. Now our will can follow our own self-will, our nafs or we can follow the will of God, which is our Innermost, our Divine Soul and the Lord above. Nous pertains to illuminated perception which is either Geburah or states in Chesed, Christ above or even beyond the Tree of Life, which is the Absolute. Ain Soph pertains to Nous as well. For more information about this topic, study Tarot and Kabbalah by Samael Aun Weor.
Audience: Samael Aun Weor and Sivananda talks about mantralizing through out the day. Is this not doing something else besides doing what we are supposed to be doing in the moment?
Speaker: Yes, that's a good question. Performing a mantra in your mind while doing activities is to help us concentrate and perform our activities better. Now typically when we work with mantra (the word mantra in Sanskrit means mind protection) it’s a way to control our mind. If it’s being out of control or if we have a certain event in our life that was catastrophic, we can use a certain mantra in order to calm down, concentrate and remember our Being. So we use mantras to help us stay focused. Now a mantra should help, when done consciously, to stay extremely focused. Typically our problem is that when we work with a mantra, we do it mechanically. You’ll find this to be the case if you genuinely observe yourself. Your ego may be saying the mantra incorrectly. For example: the mantra “Klim Krishnaya Govindaya Gopijana Vallabaya Swaha." If your mind is doing it incorrectly, you need to correct your mind and do it properly, consciously. So there are many mantras that we use in this tradition and we don’t want to use them mechanically, on autopilot. If you do it with concentration and remembrance of God, it will help you focus on states in the present. For as the Sufis teach:
Remembrance is a powerful support on the path to God (Glorious and Majestic). Indeed, it is the very foundation of this 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-Qushayri, Al-Risalah
Audience: Does Gnosis teach that we should have one mantra for our entire lives?
Speaker: I like Swami Sivananda's thought about this because when you do a mantra for life, it means that your going to be completely dedicated to the practice. I agree with that and I believe what he is saying is you should stick with a mantra to the point that you are fully emerged and concentrated in it without being distracted by other things. Instead of just doing one mantra one day and another the next day, we should practice for extended periods of time, consistently, with one mantra.
The thing is we have hundreds of mantras in this tradition. We should use the mantra until we receive the benefits, but if you feel that you have another need that is emerging, its good to switch if you need to. Now Sivananda is a Resurrected Master, a fully illuminated Being. He was teaching more in accordance with the Piscean teachings, which is the astrological sign associated with the time of Jesus up to the early 1960’s. Now the Age of Aquarius is very different; we have different needs. This is a different astrological sign that pertains to a different kind of spiritual revolution. I recommend that if you work with a mantra, stick with it to the point where you are getting a lot benefit and a lot of results. But if you feel you have different needs emerge, switch it up if you like. Don't feel like you have to stay with one, but Sivananda is correct that when we do a mantra, we should dedicate everything to it and not get distracted with other things.
Audience: In a lot of Samael’s books he mentions that we should vocalize an hour a day. Does this mean we have to use mantras to activate all the chakras?
Speaker: You can. You can work with all of the chakras or you can work with a few. Now different mantras have different benefits and different effects. For example, if you want to develop your clairvoyance you can work with the mantra “INRI," since the vowel “I” (pronounced "Ee") is related to Christ. Its in the book The Perfect Matrimony. "ENRE" (Eh-n-reh) works for the throat. You have the heart chakra with the mantra ONRO. You have the solar plexus chakra relating to UNRU, and for the lungs, ANRA.
You can also work with many chakras or just one, depending on your needs. For example, if you want to work on the heart, we have OM MASI PADME HUM. Remember that Hum or Hu is Arabic it the Spirit of God. The mantras are all throughout the literature of Samael Aun Weor .
The thing is if you vocalize for an hour, you can do it with all the chakras or you can do it with just a few. It depends on your needs. You need to intuitively discern what it is your Being wants you to work on at that time.
Audience: Should I get into a meditative state and then vocalize?
Speaker: Yes. I would say relax until you are semi-drowsy. You get to the point where you feel like you're going to fall asleep—so when you feel that you're at that point, work with a mantra and that will stimulate a lot of psychic energy in your body and your mind.
Audience: I worked with FA RA ON and my body started shaking and it felt like I had a blockage that was stopping me from astral projecting and I could feel my astral body was above and my body was stuck on my bed. And it felt like there was some kind of blockage.
Speaker: I’ve experienced that many times. Usually its a teaching from your Being to tell you that you’re identified with something. You're identified with your body. Personally I've had myself come out of my body, but my head was stuck to my physical body. In my case divinity was telling me that I’m being too intellectual. So I've had to learn to cultivate my heart so I could get out more in the astral plane, the world of Hod or emotions.
Your experience might not necessarily be a blockage. Divinity could just be teaching you that you have attachments that you need to overcome. The greatest obstacle is your own ego, your own nafs, your own mind, so when you overcome your mind by developing meditative reflection (fikrat), as we mentioned, then you will be able to behold the invisible realm of the spirit, as the Sufi masters taught. So control you're mind throughout the day and then astral projection becomes easy.
A mantra helps you to control your mind. It also activates psychic energy, which helps you to defend yourself or help you have spiritual experience. There are many functions for mantras. Typically we say it helps to control your mind. Many mantras are also for protection, such as Fons Alpha. There's many in this tradition. You can conjure by the name of Iod He Vau He, Jehovah, Christ, or Allah.
Audience: Why are there so many different versions of the mantras?
Speaker: In the books Samael Aun Weor explains what the different consonants do within the mantras. the different ways of mantralizing, whether CHIS CHAS CHOS or INRI ENRE ONRO, etc. These are different ways of working with sound, vibration and energy so as to fuel our conscious perception. Now you may have an affinity with one mantra or the other.
I would say study the books and they will explain to you the purposes for what the mantras are for. He gave many varieties because humanity has many needs. One person may work well with OM MASI PADME HUM. Another person may work well with I.A.O. Another person may work well with RAM IO. There are different mantras for different purposes and different needs. However, all mantras help supply energies and forces in our to awaken our awareness (muhadarah) and to become aware of the Presence of divinity (hudur).
Audience: How does the Tree of Life correspond to the image of the five centers of the human machine in the last graphic?
Speaker: I’ll give you a very simply explanation, but you can relate the spheres in different ways. So Netzach is the mind. It relates to the intellectual center. We have the emotional body, Hod, relating to the emotional center, and then we have Yesod relating to we could say is our motor-instinctual-sexual centers. The latter we could say is one brain or one center with three different aspects. Malkuth is our body, which condenses how we manifest our mind, our emotions, and sexuality.
If you feel overwhelmed by this knowledge, I would suggest that you study the books and take your time. The thing is when we study we have to balance being and knowledge. Read a little, but meditate a lot. So take a book and study it profoundly. I would recommend, in relation to this lecture onf Self-knowledge, to study Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology. It explains these three centers and the path of self-observation in depth.
Now when you read a book, you should study it line by line or even chapter by chapter, meditating and reflecting upon what you read so that you can go deeper into this. I would say take your time with the books. Don't rush, because if you eat too fast, you can get indigestion. As I said in the beginning, too much knowledge creates intellectual confusion. The way we balance our reading is comprehension through meditation. We can read many books and not have any experiences. But if we read the books in moderation, in balance with our practice, then we will begin to have experiences of the things that we are discussing. We will begin to bear witness of the mysteries of divinity (shahadah). It is the unification of knowledge and being that establishes comprehension. Comprehension is genuine faith, when you really know something from your heart. It ceases to be something abstract or vague. It becomes something really concrete and practical.
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