The following transcription is from an audio lecture on Gnostic Meditation, a course originally delivered live at the Gnostic Academy of Chicago.
In this course of meditation, we’ve been discussing ethics, karma, posture, requisites for establishing a meditation space, insight, imagination or clairvoyance, and preliminary concentration exercises, the nine stages of meditative serenity, shamatha or calm abiding in Buddhism, which depict the gradations of concentration from a wildly distracted mind to a highly disciplined and relaxed mind—one that is fully focused and concentrated on a specific object or purpose.
The exercises we’ve engaged in throughout this course are meant to help our consciousness develop enough stamina to begin practicing genuine meditation. All this knowledge and, more importantly, its application to our daily life, constitutes our discipline and lays the foundations for working upon the mind.
The reason we meditate is to comprehend the psychological factors that produce suffering, which in our gnostic studies is denominated ego. Meditation is fundamental for understanding what elements, in our mind stream, produce conflict and discord, obscuring the insight and understanding of ourselves that we seek.
People always complain about their inability to speak with divinity, to have an astral projection, some type of supernormal experience that validates the testimonies of the religious scriptures. Very few people want to understand that illumination, powers, astral and jinn experiences, etc., emerge because of the death of the “I,” the “myself,” the pluralized ego.
Everyone wants to go to heaven, yet without leaving behind all their internal filthiness, degeneration, and perversity. But this is impossible. To experience the higher worlds, you need to vibrate at that level of nature. You do so by understanding and removing your defects, by letting go of the baggage you carry all the time. If you want to climb the mountain of initiation, you must remove the heaviness of the ego. Trying to climb a mountain with bags of stones on your back would be silly, right? The same principle applies to the spiritual path. To go higher, you must remove everything that is superfluous and unnecessary for life in the spiritual worlds. The ego is not only unnecessary, but a burden, the central hindrance for entrance into a superior way of life.
We must comprehend how our defects, observed within the field of everyday life, contribute to our suffering and the suffering of others. This should be our prime motivation for studying gnosis—not mystical experiences. It’s funny that many disciples complain about their lack of samadhi, out of body experiences, etc., yet don’t focus on the psychological causes of their ignorance and lack of internal illumination.
If you want light, remove the darkness from your psyche. You must comprehend from direct experience how the ego is suffering, darkness, ignorance, despair. But remember that part of your consciousness, your light, is trapped in each defect. If you want spiritual insight, light, you must comprehend and remove the cages you have placed around it. By annihilating the ego, you awaken consciousness, and therefore produce happiness and spiritual experiences.
But even more important than having experiences, you begin to live life with greater serenity, peace, and intuition, because to perceive how your internal psychological changes truly benefit humanity. We change not only for our own well-being, but for others.
Recognizing how our anger, fear, resentment, hatred, jealousy, and lust make us and others suffer is a profound motivator for change. When we perceive how our egos are the origin of pain, within our mind stream and in relation to others, we become vigilant and determined to enact positive, intuitive action born from the consciousness. This in turn inspires us, knowing how correct psychological states produce harmony, and how negative psychological states produce suffering. By helping humanity, we fulfill the purpose of life, which is sacrifice, love, and service for those who are ignorant.
Meditation on the death of the ego transforms us radically. If desire is not annihilated, we cannot liberate the essence, the consciousness trapped in each ego. While we have ego, we make others suffer. People who do not work on the disintegration of the “I” are not serious people within spiritual or esoteric studies, because people filled with ego cannot be of service to divinity, themselves, or others.
"In life, the only thing of importance is a radical, total and definitive change. The rest, frankly, is of no importance at all.
"Meditation is fundamental when we sincerely yearn for such a change.
"In no way do we want a type of meditation that is insignificant, superficial, and vain.
"We must become serious and abandon the nonsense that abounds in cheap pseudo-esotericism and pseudo-occultism.
"We must know how to take things seriously, how to change, if what we really and truly want is to not fail in the esoteric work.
"Those who do not know how to meditate, the superficial, the ignorant, will never be able to dissolve the ego. They will always be impotent driftwood in the tumultuous sea of life.
"Defects discovered in the field of everyday life must be understood profoundly through the technique of meditation.
"The didactic material for meditation is found precisely in the different events and daily circumstances of everyday life. This is indisputable.
"People always complain about unpleasant events. They never know how to see the usefulness of such events.
"Instead of protesting against disagreeable circumstances, we must extract useful elements from them for our spiritual growth through meditation." —Samael Aun Weor, The Great Rebellion
To truly perform meditation, we must learn to be in this world, but not of it. Samael Aun Weor indicates in this same chapter that we must not identify ourselves with external phenomena, to learn what it means to savor the flavor of the work and the flavor of life.
External events constantly fluctuate and provoke psychological responses within our interior on a moment to moment basis. Identification with the desires of the ego squanders the energy of the consciousness and produces suffering. When we allow ourselves to simply “go with the flow” of things, to not resist our instincts, habits, and desires, to think that we are thinking and feel that we are feeling, we are in truth experiencing the mechanical flavor of life. This is also known as identification, wherein we, as a consciousness, identify with our defects and the sufferings of existence.
By learning to consciously observe our five centers: intellect, emotions, movement, instinct, and sex, we catch our different egos spontaneously, many whose existence we never suspected in the least before beginning this work. Life, for the experienced gnostic or meditator, is a gymnasium, a means of extracting knowledge about our diverse defects. When difficulties arise, we must not identify or go with the flow of mechanical reactions, but consciously perceive how each thought, sentiment, and impulse originates from the different “I’s” in our interior. By learning to see the egos in action, we can learn how to separate from them and perform conscious, intuitive action through comprehension.
Problems are in the mind and belong to the mind. Problems in life are resolved when we cease thinking about them, when we cease trying to think or feel our way out of things, but instead simply observe life openly. This open perception is the beginning and foundation of the work.
Life is not an end in itself, but is a means of achieving psychological change. We must take advantage of the most difficult circumstances of life to produce genuine transformation, since when life is hard, our worst egos emerge. If you don’t observe yourself from moment to moment, during great trials, then those terrible “I’s” that need to be disintegrated will not be disintegrated. If the water doesn’t boil at 100 degrees Celsius, through great crises, then your worst defects will not be discovered nor worked upon. If you are not observing yourself, then you are not working, and cannot reap much fruit from meditation, since the material for meditation is what you’ve consciously observed in yourself.
When we cease to react so much to the diverse problems and mechanicity of life, but instead learn to respond with insight, cognizance, understanding, then as a matter of fact we are learning to perceive the flavor of the work.
Everything we have discussed is preparation for retrospection meditation. Retrospection meditation is the daily bread of the gnostics. It has been practiced in Buddhist monasteries and in the great colleges of initiates. After self-observing throughout the day, practitioners would sit down quietly to review their experiences and what egos they caught in action. Using strong concentration, developed through the exercises we’ve taught in this course, as well as clear imagination, which has also been developed through similar discipline, practitioners imagine the different scenes and events of their day. This is with the purpose of understanding the egos observed in relation to such scenes, diving deep into the subconsciousness, unconsciousness, and infraconsciousness, to catch each ego in its roots.
Rigorous self-observation is the beginning. Judgment and complete comprehension of the ego is the second step. Prayer to the Divine Mother for the annihilation of a particular, comprehended “I” is the final step.
Comprehension must be total for a specific defect to be eliminated, hence the need to go within the psychological depths of ourselves in meditation, first by learning to awaken the consciousness through vigilance.
Self-observation and Vigilance
To be vigilant is to be in self-observation all day long. Mindfulness refers to the state of self-observation, moment to moment, all throughout one’s day, every day. Mindfulness is continuity of conscious attention and awareness from morning to evening and back again. Self-observation exists in the moment, but mindfulness is self-observation practiced in each moment of the day and the evening, including when the physical body goes to sleep at night and when we, as a consciousness and an ego, enter the astral world. There is no rest in self-observation if we want to self-discover ourselves. The continuity of consciousness applies to the study of our dreams when we awake in the morning, when we analyze how conscious we were within the fifth dimension, the astral and mental worlds.
We must seriously analyze how long we are able to maintain conscious attention throughout each day if we want to comprehend and eliminate the factors that produce the sleep of the consciousness. We must analyze how long we are able to maintain awareness of ourselves, whether it is for a few moments, a few minutes, an hour. We must pinpoint where in our day we tend to forget ourselves, when we are not aware of what we are doing, and why.
Daydreaming, thinking of other things instead of focusing on the task at hand, indicates that our consciousness is asleep. This type of mental, emotional, and internal behavior must stop if we want to be competent meditators, because to meditate, we must cease dreaming in our intellectual, emotional, motor, instinctual, and sexual centers. The ego projects its fantasies, its desires, through the five cylinders of our human machine, to make us sleep, to dream.
When we recognize that we are dreaming, that we are not present, then we are beginning to awaken consciousness, to cease being distracted, to be focused.
The Four Components of Meditation
Remember that for retrospection meditation to be fruitful, we must fulfill four factors:
For meditation on the death of the ego to be effective, we must never forget what we are doing. To work on the ego, we must have strong enough concentration that we are always remembering what we are doing in our practice, not being distracted and thinking whatever the ego wants us to think.
We also need to be completely relaxed. Many people get tense when reflecting on their own defects and negativity. This is wrong. How can you go deep into yourself, in meditation, if your fists are clenched? When your mind is in turmoil? You will simply remain in your body, churning with negative thinking and emotions.
Relaxation is aided through pranayama and mantras. The energies of these exercises will rejuvenate the mind and body, and help the five cylinders of your human machine to reach a state of equanimity.
Prayer is also fundamental throughout meditation. Begin your exercise by invoking your Being, asking for help. When the heart opens, the mind will settle. It is impossible for the mind to change anything, because the mind is not divine. Only the Divine Mother, your Divine Father, can give you peace, stability, and insight. Therefore, begin your sessions with prayer, which doesn’t have to be formulaic, but sincere.
To pray is to talk with God, who is your real Being. God is not outside of you, but within the most profound levels of your consciousness. Simply communicate your longings, your aspirations, your needs, and your sufferings, and your heart. The Divine Mother always answers the call of Her child, as Dante depicted at the end of the Divine Comedy through the invocation of the divine feminine, the Virgin Mary:
“Virgin Mother, daughter of your Son,
more humble and exalted than any other creature,
fixed goal of the eternal plan,
“you are the one who so ennobled human nature
that He, who made it first, did not disdain
to make Himself of its own making.
“Your womb relit the flame of love-
its heat has made his blossom seed
and flower in eternal peace.
“To us you are a noonday torch of charity,
while down below, among those still in flesh,
you are the living fountainhead of hope.
“Lady, you are so great and prevail above,
should he who longs for grace not turn to you,
his longing would be doomed to wingless flight.
“Your loving kindness does not only aid
whoever seeks it, but many times
gives freely what has yet to be implored.
“In you clemency, in you compassion,
in you munificence, in you are joined
all virtues found in any creature.
“This man who, from within the deepest pit
the universe contains up to these heights
has seen the disembodied spirits, one by one,
“now begs you, by your grace, to grant such power
that, by lifting up his eyes,
he may rise higher toward his ultimate salvation.”
—Canto 33, ll. 1-27
Lastly, alongside firm concentration, deep relaxation, and profound prayer, imagination must be harmoniously clear and developed. We will discuss the importance of imagination again, in detail, in this lecture. These four factors aid the meditator in knowing him or herself.
Internal Silence and Spiritual Insight
Retrospection meditation is well explained in Samael Aun Weor’s The Revolution of the Dialectic. This is an essential book to know by heart, through practice, since it will teach you how to meditate and eliminate the ego. It is also important to know the teachings of Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology and The Great Rebellion as well, since the techniques of self-observation, mindfulness, remembrance, silence and serenity of mind, and comprehension are well explained there.
When these principles are developed in us, self-knowledge is the outcome:
"Upon the mysterious threshold of the Temple of Delphi, a Greek maxim existed, which was engraved in the stone and stated: Homo Nosce te Ipsum, “Man know thyself and thou shalt know the Universe and the Gods.” In the final instance, it is obvious, evident, and clear that the study of oneself and serene reflection conclude in the quietude and in the silence of the mind." —Samael Aun Weor, The Revolution of the Dialectic
Serene reflection is a technical term, denominated Mo Chao amongst the Chinese Buddhists, or fikrat amongst the Sufis. Serenity refers to a profound psychological state of calmness, concentration and focus, which we discussed in the previous lecture on the nine stages of meditative serenity, calm abiding. Serenity refers to stability of attention, a state of concentration that cannot be disturbed by anything, a mind that is calm, relaxed, but profoundly attentive. Serenity is the basis or foundation for entering genuine meditation.
Reflection refers to imagination, the capacity to perceive or visualize, a state of clear cognition or perception. When we obtain serenity, then the consciousness can reflect the images of the superior worlds within the screen of our imagination, which needs to be developed, sharpened, and exercised through discipline.
Your mind can be referred to as a lake, which can reflect the images of the stars, the heavens, when it is calm. But if the lake is churning with waves, if it is disturbed, it cannot reflect anything clearly. The same with the mind. Without serenity, you cannot see anything inside of yourself. Therefore, every genuine school of initiation or spiritual studies taught disciples how to obtain serenity. Without serenity, there can be no imagination, no clear seeing, no insight.
To perceive superior images within meditation, the mind must be serene, the skies of the intellect must be free of clouds. In the internal planes, the skies represent the mind. If they are cloudy, it means our imagination is obscured. To see stars and heavenly objects signifies illumination, comprehension, and perception of the divine.
This state is not something vague or ambiguous, but is defined by its pristine cognition, its clarity, profundity, and depth. It is a psychological way of seeing that is very precise and crisp, not vaporous or obscure. When you receive images or experiences within meditation, it is because you are awakening consciousness and entering the first stage of initiation, which is imagination. Inspiration and Intuition follow, as we discussed in the previous lecture.
Serenity and imagination, calm abiding and special insight, produce comprehension, ecstasy, samadhi.
"When the mind is quiet and in silence (not only in the intellectual level, but in each and every one of the forty-nine subconscious departments) then the Newness emerges. The Essence, the Consciousness, comes out of the bottle, and the awakening of the soul, the Ecstasy, the Samadhi, occurs. The daily practice of Meditation transforms us radically. People who do not work on the annihilation of the “I” are like butterflies that flutter from one school to another. They have yet to find their center of permanent gravity. Therefore, they die as failures, without ever having achieved the inner Self-realization of their Being." —Samael Aun Weor, The Revolution of the Dialectic
When the Essence is liberated from the mind, it experiences comprehension that sparks, that shocks the consciousness. This comes in the form of insight like a lightning bolt from the dark clouds of ignorance, from the dullness of the mind. When we train our consciousness in serenity and insight, comprehension emerges spontaneously from the skies of understanding to provide guidance in our work.
The Permanent Center of Gravity
The permanent center of gravity signifies something profound for gnostic disciples. It refers to the level of being, tendencies, or focus for serious practitioners of meditation and the psychological death of the ego.
Each person has a center of gravity in something, in accordance with the tendencies, qualities, and dispensations of one’s character and mind. Some people have their center of gravity in football, in sports; others in alcohol, in books, in education; some in studies of law, martial arts, or whatnot. People gravitate towards certain activities, traditions, occupations, and knowledge because of their psychological qualities, which tends to be egotistical.
Because we possess so many different egos, different selves or “I’s” with their own agendas, plans, and itineraries, we tend to gravitate towards many types of activities and studies that are, in light of esoterism and meditation, truly pointless, useless. We have no permanent center or sense of self. In one moment the “I” of gluttony wants to satisfy its hunger; in the next an intellectual “I” wants to read a book; in the following moment an “I” of lust takes over in relation to our spouse; in the next moment the egos or “I’s” of jealousy and hatred take over.
Different egos take over in different moments of life, which most people are not even minutely aware of. We are puppets controlled by invisible strings, personalities moved about by the subconscious impulses of the pluralized ego. The multifarious states of our existence demonstrate that we don’t have genuine control over our own life, because different egos always push us and make us gravitate towards different things in different circumstances. We don’t have true autonomy of will, because we are walking contradictions, people with many wills. Since we are not true individuals, in possession of an integrated psyche, we possess many minds; we move in conflicting directions, in multiple ways.
Examine your mind. Where is your center of gravity? What type of thoughts, feelings, and impulses do you gravitate towards and act upon? What types of activities do you move towards and perform? What are the types of people you relate to and why? This topic regarding the psychological center of gravity relates to everything one says, does, and acts upon; everything one deliberates, thinks about, and enacts because of each ego we possess in the subconsciousness, unconsciousness, and infraconsciousness.
Most people have their center of gravity in superfluous, egotistical things; many people have their center of gravity in activities rooted in lust, hatred, or pride. Rarely does someone shift their center of gravity within the gnostic teachings.
When someone longs to change this boring situation, this constant identification with desire, it’s because they recognize their ignorance and suffering. People who want to stop suffering begin self-observation, begin to recognize that they are not in control of their own life. This recognition radically transforms the student, because he or she recognizes the prison of the ego, how the pluralized “I” is the agent and cause of suffering. By recognizing that one is in prison, one can plan to escape, to change, to possess true spirituality, individuality, to escape psychological pain. If this occurs, it is because the Being of that person is pushing the soul to study and practice.
Through a continuity of purpose, through consistency of practice, disciples begin to love the gnostic knowledge and to apply its principles to daily living. By comprehending and annihilating different egos, different selves, specific “I’s,” consciousness is liberated. The percentage of awakened consciousness grows little by little through daily work, forming a nucleus within which the disciple becomes truly cognizant, awakened, and divine. Disciples who have worked on their ego for many years, every day, who have annihilated many defects through the help of their Divine Mother, have done so because they have first studied, loved, and lived this doctrine profoundly. They develop more profound love as they see the fruits of their psychological labor. They have oriented their entire lives around the practice of meditation, comprehension, and annihilation of desire due to a love of the teachings and the love of their result.
When a disciple has annihilated a lot of ego, due to his or her consistency in the daily practice of retrospection meditation, then he or she can develop what is called a permanent center of gravity in the consciousness: to always be attentive, alert, and awake as a soul, in every moment of life, both in the physical and in the internal worlds. Such a person constitutes a truly awakened citizen of the universe, of the cosmos. This process is only realized through daily meditation, comprehension, and annihilation of the subjective self, the ego, the “I.”
Impressions, Mental Dualism, and the Battle of the Antitheses
When discussing the nature of retrospection meditation, we must remind our students about the role of impressions in this work.
Life truly does not have any other form for us except through impressions. When we walk in a forest, we can say that the impressions of the forest enter our senses, our mind, through its smells, colors, light, contours, shapes, etc. We would never make the absurd declaration that a tree is literally in our mind. What we experience of life are impressions, whether tactile, visual, olfactory, auditory, sensual, gustatory, etc. These impressions reach our senses and are then perceived by the mind, and even the consciousness if we train and awaken it to receive and transform impressions.
There also exist psychological impressions, such as thoughts, feelings, and motor-instinctive-sexual impulses, which surge within us from moment to moment.
Regardless of what people think, we can say without fear of error that humanity places more importance on the internal world of impressions than on the exterior world. This is well demonstrated by experience, since most people live more identified with their psychological reactions and impressions than on the external world itself.
Observe yourself. When you are in a conversation with another person, are you listening to what he or she has to say? Are you sure that your mind is not commenting on everything you see? In relation to this person, are you genuinely listening with a receptive, clear mind without making any mental commentary, or are you just waiting for the moment to state your point of view, to say what you want to say, ignoring what is going on? Where do you place more importance, on listening? Or by waiting to state what you are thinking and feeling?
We are always commenting, in our mind, in relation to each phenomenon we encounter. People are always lost in their internal world, their internal chatter, never listening or objectively perceiving what is really happening in the external world. Although someone criticizes us and we smile sweetly, are we sure that we are not, internally, swearing and mistreating our critic, dragging him or her within the recesses of our psyche to do whatever we will?
While people live more in their internal world, we tend to ignore this fact, placing emphasis on the external. Yet if we examine our experience, we can see that we live more within our world of thoughts and emotions than in the external senses.
According to Immanuel Kant, the “external is merely a reflection of the internal.” Life has no other existence than in its impressions which reach our senses, and the mind, the intellect, the ego, is always labeling and commenting on what is perceived. This is something any beginning meditator realizes, that the mind cannot stop talking or commenting on everything that is perceived. This internal chatter certainly makes us very weak and poor people, in a spiritual sense.
The mind also works like a pendulum, swinging between the extremes of craving and aversion, like and dislike, pleasure and pain. The mind always seeks pleasant impressions and rejects unpleasant impressions. This constant chase for pleasures and avoidance of sufferings is what keeps the consciousness asleep, hypnotized, unaware.
One awakens consciousness by learning to comprehend mental dualism: the constant flight from painful impressions and the craving for pleasant impressions—which constitutes the hypnosis of the mind. Retrospection meditation helps us to comprehend the true nature of impressions and to no longer be attached to what one perceives—to live in the eternal present in remembrance of the eternality of the Being, which is beyond the transience of material life.
Regarding binaries, the mind always labels phenomena, experiences, in dualistic ways. If someone is short, we want to say that they are not tall. If someone is angry, we want to say that they are not content, at peace. Every ego thinks in dualistic terms, in binaries, in two poles of thought: affirmation or negation of impressions.
The logic of pride is “I deserve this position,” “I am better than such-and-such a person.” However, the logic of shame is the same form of pride, but inverted, “I don’t deserve to be praised,” “I am lowly,” “I am not worthy.” Pride can polarize in two ways, in self-affirmation, or self-negation. When a person receives certain impressions of life, the ego of the individual might affirm or negate that impression either through self-esteem or shame, self-mortification. The ego is always affirming or denying the impressions of life that flow in succession through the senses and within the mind.
The ego is always affirming or negating the impressions of life, never comprehending it. Within the Fourth Way school of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky, affirmation is the first force the enacts, that initiates, that proposes. Anger is always affirming its frustrated desires, “I deserve better than this!” “I want; I crave, I need” or “I earned that promotion… I should have received it, not my co-worker…” Or anger might negate the same impressions of life, “I don’t deserve this,” or “I never should have done that!” Affirmation, negation. The same dynamic is experienced with fear, uncertainty, or the psychological need for security which says, “I don’t want to lose my job!” Or “I need to pay my bills.” The ego is always affirming itself or denying the experiences and impressions of life, denying the reality that one faces moment by moment.
The ego always goes between two extremes: like, dislike; pleasure, pain; happiness, sadness; hatred, love; pride, shame, etc. The ego is dualistic and does not know how to respond to life with rectitude and a genuine sense of responsibility, with spiritual insight or understanding. Going between the extremes of craving and aversion creates a battle in the mind, a battle of antithetical influences: affirmation and negation. The mind knows no rest, is constantly agitated, and therefore the person who begins meditation realizes that the mind is crazy, cannot sit still, because the tendency of the mind is to run towards pleasures and to run away from suffering, meanwhile experiencing a constant state of suffering and ignorance of the nature of reality, both within and without. This forms a pendulum that produces the hypnosis of the soul.
This type of thinking certainly makes life very mechanical and painful. This constant act of affirming or denying the impressions of life is a profound state of suffering. The ego, desire, is affliction, because it is a condition, an energy that was not transformed in the past. We created the ego because we received certain impressions in the past that we were not conscious of—such experiences or impressions entered the senses and the mind and we did not know how to take it. We transformed the energy of the impression in an unconscious way, thereby trapping our consciousness within conditioning, within such impressions that were not transformed in the moment through comprehension.
To escape suffering, we learn to comprehend the duality of the ego by working with a third force: comprehension, the consciousness, which is an intelligence more profound and meaningful than the mind. By comprehending and annihilating the ego, we learn to transform the impressions with wisdom, understanding and power.
Comprehension produces serenity. Remember that serenity is developed in levels, in the form of the nine stages of meditative concentration as described in our lecture on Calm Abiding. To move beyond craving and aversion, we must awaken consciousness and first: observe these tendencies within ourselves, and second: renounce them.
Awakened consciousness is the capacity to see and comprehend without intellectual dualism, disturbances in the mind. Consciousness is the third force within the Fourth Way system—affirmation and negation, with all their conflict, reach a synthesis through the third force: reconciliation. Consciousness is the force of reconciliation, synthetic knowledge, the synthesis of all things. When impressions enter the senses, the consciousness, if it is trained and disciplined, can receive such impressions and transform them, reconcile them within the soul, through understanding their inherent emptiness, their impermanence. By seeing life in its true sense, as a transient thing, as ever changing, never-constant, we learn not to identify ourselves with setbacks of misfortunes, because we no longer are identified or attached to phenomena, to impressions.
By seeing a phenomenon, the awakened consciousness immediately apprehends its significance and meaning without the need to think, to debate, to argue or intellectualize. Consciousness is synthesis, reconciliation of disparate forces in the psyche. By learning to observe ourselves, our psychological states, and their relationship with the impressions of external events, we develop comprehension of the internal causes of suffering and learn to transform the mind. By observing our ego in action and learning not to give it the energy it wants, we develop serenity and the foundations for entering genuine meditation. By renouncing egotistical desires, we empower our consciousness. This is the path of creative comprehension.
"The awakening of the Consciousness is only possible by means of liberating ourselves from mental dualism and by emancipating ourselves from the struggle of the antitheses or from intellectual surges. Any subconscious, infraconscious, or unconscious submerged struggle is converted into an impediment for the liberation of the Essence (soul). Every antithetical battle (as insignificant and unconscious as it might appear) indicates, accuses, and aims to obscure points that are ignored and unknown within the atomic infernos of the human being. To reflect, observe, and know these infrahuman aspects, these obscure points of oneself, is indispensable in order to achieve the absolute quietude and silence of the mind. Only in the absence of the “I” is it possible to experience and live the integral revolution and the revolution of the dialectic." —Samael Aun Weor, The Revolution of the Dialectic
Introversion, Analysis, and Comprehension of the “I”
Comprehension is essential and constitutes the central dynamic of meditation. However, we cannot gather material for meditation, for comprehension, if we are not observing ourselves in daily life.
Self-observation is seeing each ego in action, separating and looking at its thoughts, feelings, and impulses. It is not enough to tell oneself, “I will not identify with this problem, this ego, this self.” Who is the “I” or self here? Who is observing whom? The consciousness must learn to observe, free from any sense of self or “I,” that “I am doing this,” or “I am not doing this.” Consciousness is perception free of the ego, the “I,” or myself. Our genuine identity is not our self-esteem, our pride, but the pure quality of seeing, of perceiving without thought, without labeling.
Telling yourself that you will not be angry or identified at work is useless, because the egos of anger or identification will continue to exist in the psyche. Instead, learning to pay attention without the sense of an observer, of a self within that perception, is what will allow your consciousness to gather self-knowledge.
You must learn to see yourself, your ego, as an actor in the film of life. Your consciousness is the director viewing the scene, observing. For example, you can be at work when your boss criticizes you for something you did. In that moment, anger emerges, followed by hurt self-esteem, pride and arrogance, and afterward resentment.
In a single moment, four egos have emerged in succession, in order, each with their own respective thoughts, feelings, and impulses. Every ego has three brains: its own thinking, feeling, and desires, or ways of acting. All these interactions, thoughts, impulses, desires, must be observed in minute detail with the consciousness, to provide us material or food for meditation. All of this constitutes the first step of meditation, which is self-discovery.
Self-discovery is the first form of comprehension, when you realize with astonishment, “I am consciousness, and I am not these egos!” You witness yourself as a spectator and an actor, a witness and the witnessed. Your consciousness is awake, perceiving all these things, gathering data about those diverse psychological defects, those enemies of the Being within. When you see that you are not pride, self-esteem, arrogance, fear, resentment, etc., you experience a spark of joy, of initial comprehension that truly inspires you but also fills you with remorse. With just reason, Samael Aun Weor stated that the greatest joy of the gnostic is the discovery of one of his or her defects, because a discovered defect will become a dead defect through the process of retrospection meditation.
In the path of self-analysis, we always must take into consideration the psychological state of the ego, the external event and impressions that provoked it, and the succession of defects that emerge within the screen of our awareness—examining the interaction of all these factors, especially in how these defects work together, because they are related. Each ego works with others. It’s rare to find an ego that flies solo. Instead, the ego processes itself in series, like the manufacturing of cars. Each car, each ego, relates, feeds upon, and strengthens the others. This is important to remember as we analyze specific events and their impact upon our psyche.
In such moments of self-discovery, we understand how destructive each ego is. We also learn how to act consciously, with intuition, with greater rectitude and love. In the example I provided, we can be at work when our boss criticizes us, whereby we discover four egos and their successive states, flavor, and reactions within our psyche. Not only should we be focusing on perceiving each defect in action, but we should be working to use our consciousness to know how to respond to our boss with kindness and compassion—not because it is economically viable, so that we don’t lose our job. This is certainly important. However, more importantly, we learn to receive the negative impressions of our fellow men and women with love, because it is the right thing to do, the conscious thing to perform, so that we don’t harm the other person or create problems for ourselves.
The ego only knows how to react to life. Yet the consciousness, in its introversion, its reflective attitude, and internal comprehension, only knows how to respond to life in the appropriate way, intuitively—knowing what to say, think, and do in the right place and right time. This is creative comprehension, cognizance, understanding.
Acting in this way, with compassion, with patience, and tolerance for our fellow men and women, is what produces the greatest relations and harmony amongst others. To express what these four egos want, in their multiplicity, in their negativity, is to perpetuate suffering.
This is, of course, a very difficult thing to do. You must examine the impressions entering the mind, the psychological reaction of the ego towards the external event, and learn how to negotiate the two with consciousness, to transform the unpleasant impressions you are receiving with comprehension, with gladness, with that intuitive knowledge or knowing of what to say, do, and act in the precise moment. People sometimes ask us, in relation to such situations, “What do I do? How do I act in this situation when such-and-such happens? When I am being criticized? Do I just observe what is going on?” Self-observation is important, but you must transform the impressions you are experiencing, external and internal, through cognizance, by knowing what virtues to enact in such moments by following the inner voice of your conscience, which is the spiritual sense of knowing right from wrong. You can’t just stand there when your boss is criticizing you! You must respond, and that is the key. The consciousness knows how to act virtuously. But the ego, the mind, anger, resentment, pride, fear, only knows how to react to life, and this is different.
The only way to develop right action is to first observe, so that in the precise moment you can comprehend the impressions that you are experiencing, specifically by being relaxed. If you are tense and identified with your mental tension, you will only give your ego the energies it wants, and thereby perpetuate conflict in critical moments, like when you’re being criticized by your employer. Relaxation is key; serenity is essential. Don’t identify with the situation, because you must learn to see life like a movie. Everything will pass. Nothing is permanent. To let the mind waste energy and get carried away by transient things is truly silly. Therefore, respond to life with understanding, with compassion. Don’t react. Be intentional about what you do through comprehension, through intuition, which is the faculty of knowing what to do without needing to think about it.
Recently, when my boss criticized me for a mistake I committed, I learned to receive the unpleasant impressions gladly. I, as a consciousness, discovered certain defects within myself, in those instances, that I never suspected having. I felt tremendous happiness for seeing my egos, and, rather than let resentment take control of my three brains, thanked my employer for his criticism. Such an action totally diffused the tension. It was a win-win situation: my boss felt secure that I could do my job correctly, and secondly, I discovered certain egos that I needed to eliminate, and that I worked upon intensely with my Divine Mother because I discovered them in action.
In the case of an employer who criticizes us for something we did not do, we can learn to respond with kindness, stating our point of view, that we are being misjudged, yet without using anger—instead, we use compassion. We can establish boundaries and be honest when we are not in the wrong, yet we do not need to be filled with hatred, reacting in resentment. This is the difference between someone who is unconscious and someone who knows how to live uprightly, with cognizance, rectitude, and love.
When you live life in this way, you learn to receive with gladness the unpleasant manifestations of your fellow men and women, because such people provoke your most hidden defects, bringing them to the surface of your consciousness. The gnostic feels immense joy when seeing the ego in action, when discovering defects, because those discovered defects will become dead defects in retrospection meditation.
The Three Steps for Eliminating the Ego
The first step in this path of meditation is discovery: see the ego in action. Gather data through self-observation. The next is to comprehend such egos in their roots in meditation, through reviewing your day. Once you comprehend the profound significance of each defect, you can move into the final stage: prayer to your Divine Mother for elimination.
Remember that in war, spies are first watched, then judged in court, and then executed. The same with the ego, according to Samael Aun Weor. The ego is a criminal, a spy, who has trapped our consciousness. Therefore, to achieve psychological liberation, we must follow this specific procedure.
You need to see what egos you need to comprehend. You cannot work on what you don’t see. When you gather psychological data about the ego, then you can bring that material into meditation, to contemplate it. The more material you have to meditate upon, the better.
The ego is a multiplicity and possesses many profound roots within the abysses and caverns of the mind. Some egos are superficial and easy to catch, yet the worst habits, the most profound tendencies, the most ancient roots of suffering, exist not only within the subconsciousness, but in the unconscious and infraconscious depths of the mind. Intellectual egos tend to be slow; emotional egos are quick, harder to catch; the same with instinctive and motor egos; however, sexual egos are the quickest and most insidious, originating from our infraconscious animal psyche. We may observe a lustful element in self-observation, yet to comprehend it fully, we must go beyond mental dualism and see the ego within our internal worlds, which we can only access through profound meditation.
Therefore, to meditate on the ego, one must close of all the senses and introspect, ignoring any distraction in the physical world. By going inside the consciousness, by entering the internal worlds in meditation, the practitioner learns to catch the ego in its most profound roots, individually, one at a time.
As Samael Aun Weor explained, meditation on the ego is like catching a hare, a rabbit. Go for one at a time, because someone who tries to chase ten hares at once will get nowhere. Therefore, concentrate on one defect you observed and work to comprehend it fully, visualizing the scene in which that defect emerged in your daily life. Exclude everything else until understanding emerges, spontaneously, when the mind is in silence and when you are waiting for the answer from your Divine Mother Kundalini. Through comprehension, we pray to our Divine Mother to eliminate. This is how one should proceed, in synthesis, but we will elaborate upon this process when discussing Samael Aun Weor’s writing on Blue Time or Rest Therapeutics, otherwise known as Retrospection Meditation.
The Principles of Retrospection: Blue Time or Rest Therapeutics
According to Samael Aun Weor in The Revolution of the Dialectic:
Blue time or rest therapeutics has basic rules without which it would be impossible to emancipate ourselves from the mortifying shackles of the mind.
While these different rules are presented in sequence, they work more in the form of principles that elaborate one another, since they are different aspects of the same thing. This is not a checklist you must fanatically observe in rigid sequence when you sit to practice. These instead are qualities of experience and practice that support and integrate with one another, here and now, in an organic, intuitive, and dynamic way that you will learn by applying them daily.
We chose this image because the waters symbolize the energies of sexuality that will develop internal serenity. The boat symbolizes, in the internal worlds, the Ark of the Covenant or Great Arcanum, the path of transmutation and chastity. Without chastity, as we’ve explained in depth before, we cannot acquire calmness of the senses or the mind.
Combine drowsiness with meditation. Serenity and relaxation is essential. Meditation without drowsiness damages the brain, as Samael Aun Weor explained. It is necessary to learn how to provoke drowsiness at will, to produce a profound state of relaxation accompanied with a rigorous, sharp perception. You develop this capacity through daily practice and by working with profound breathing.
Usually we tend to run around throughout our daily activities without any awareness of our thoughts or emotions, let alone our own body. If you have time during the day, take five-minute breaks in the middle of work and concentrate on your breath. Breathe deeply, inhaling through your nostrils and exhaling through your mouth. Relax, and allow your mind, heart, and body to settle. Inhale for six seconds, retain the breath for six seconds, and exhale from your lungs for six seconds, counting mentally.
Samael Aun Weor explained in his writings that we must learn to relax our body constantly throughout the day, since we tend to carry unconscious tension with us when we return home and sit to meditate. You cannot meditate if you are identified with the body, when the body, emotions, and mind are tense. The solution is to take breaks, if possible, breathe profoundly, and observe your psychological states.
Self-observation, introspection, is serene and calm. Simply looking within oneself can produce mental peace and calm, whereby you as a consciousness learn not to identify with any thoughts, projections, or concepts in the mind. Observe and relax. This is especially important when we are experiencing ordeals, such as when our boss or co-workers criticize us. We experience egos of anger or pride in those moments, but if we are self-observing, we catch these defects in action and cease identifying ourselves with these elements.
If we are churning with negative thoughts, negative emotions, and negative impulses to act, the solution can be to step aside for five minutes and introspect, focusing on our breath, relaxing our mind, and observing the defects in action; to look at what is going on psychologically, yet without giving the ego our energy or will. This is very simple in theory, and might seem juvenile for some. However, this is a practical reality for people entering genuine meditation, and constitutes a principle most people never experience, simply because they are not interested in knowing themselves, but are identified with life. People tend to just go with the flow of the mind, and never seek to comprehend or resist it.
When your body relaxes, your mind can relax, and vice versa. Mental tension is the source of physical tension. If your mind gestates with thoughts, your body is agitated, then it becomes difficult to look within. If your mind is at peace, your body settles. Frequent breaks for introspection, deep breathing, stretching, and relaxation throughout your day will go a long way towards your meditative discipline, so that when you go home to retrospect your day, you can easily enter a state of physical and psychological serenity without effort.
If you can, you should also perform pranayama or silent mantras in the mind during your breaks, so that you circulate energy. This also is profoundly effective for calming the three brains or psychological centers, a dynamic that is beautifully explained with Kabbalah. With conscious willpower (Tiphereth) we learn to observe, control, and relax thought (Netzach), emotions (Hod), energy (Yesod), and physicality (Malkuth). When these five lower Sephiroth are relaxed in us, we can go higher upon the Tree of Life through experiencing meditation itself.
When the mind and body are calm, the lake of the mind can receive the superior messages and images of the internal worlds, directly from our Innermost Being. Do not move your body during your practice, since any movement disturbs the waters of the mind and prevents you from accessing the internal planes. Our posture, according to Swami Sivananda, must be as solid as a mountain throughout the entirety of our practice. Yet this does not signify rigidity or discomfort. When you are fully relaxed, when you have established your asana, you can forget the body. Be still like a mountain so that you can move beyond the body and access the deeper states of the psyche.
In retrospection, we seek to review the events of the day. We place within the screen of our imagination all the events and psychological states we experienced in the day; what are the observable facts of our internal states in relation to external events?
We will find that there are periods in our day that we remember more or less clearly, and other periods that are just darkness, where we can’t remember what we were thinking, feeling, or even doing.
"What are we looking for in retrospection? Due to the mechanical life that he lives in, the intellectual animal forgets the Self. Thus, he falls into fascination. He goes around with his Consciousness asleep, without remembering what he did at the moment of rising from his bed, without knowing the first thoughts of the day, his actions, and the places he has been." —Samael Aun Weor, The Revolution of the Dialectic
It’s important to reflect upon these moments of obscurity and loss of memory to comprehend how we lost our vigilance, our mindfulness. When, how, and why did we forget ourselves, our Being? Discovering the answer will aid us in knowing which defects are strong in us, which put us to sleep without us even knowing it. This forgetfulness is represented by the loss of leaves in this image, the loss of memory.
Retrospection also documents those psychological states that were particularly disturbing, pointing towards certain egos that must be comprehended and annihilated immediately, before other defects. We must imagine the scene in which these specific egos manifested. What are the specific facts of their emergence, their impact, and their actions? What did we think, say, or do? Did we give in to those egos, or did we deny them in the moment? Did we act justly towards our fellow men and women? Analyze and be honest!
The key is not to twist and let the mind change facts. Just observe the facts of what you perceived. The ego will attempt to distort the scene in our imagination, to hide itself through the psychological force of resistance. The ego always resists analysis as we affirm the practice of retrospection in ourselves. The mind does not want to be understood because this will lead to its mystical death. However, by imagining the scene as it is and asking for insight from our Divine Mother, comprehension, the synthesis, the third force of reconciliation, will aid us in these difficult moments.
3. Serene Reflection
Serene reflection occurs when we analyze our mind and our mood. Like the lake that reflects the beautiful mountains, a symbol of the Being and of initiation, the austerity and majesty of God, so does the serene mind reflect the images of the superior worlds.
When we sit to practice, we must not only relax, but observe our mind and mood. What are we feeling and thinking? As we retrospect, we can serenely reflect on our psychological state, to be aware of ourselves here and now, to see what is going on internally. With stability of concentration and thorough introspection, we look to see what egos are acting in us here and now, so as to go deeper…
As we introspect, the ego, the mind, presents multiple forms of opposition and resistance, such as through laziness, justification, repression, and other games of the mind that seek to hide its errors from the scrutiny of conscious investigation. The ego states, “I am too tired to practice; I want to watch television instead!” Such logic constitutes the fallacy of the ego: the lies the mind perpetuates to cover its mistakes. Laziness or inertia is a profound way that the ego keeps us hypnotized and asleep, yet this is easily remedied through profound psychoanalysis and internalization.
Psychoanalysis is a popular term used by Freud and Jung, yet in gnostic studies signifies the direct perception and analyses of the roots of the ego. Meaning: we are sitting in a relaxed state, we are introverting ourselves, and we are seeking to identify and analyze the root of each memory, image, mental association, problem, sentiment, feeling, thought that emerges within our psyche. We look at their roots and ask ourselves, “Where is this coming from and why?” You do not need to literally state this question, but this is a form of attitude we need in this practice.
Comprehension from psychoanalysis emerges when we begin to perceive where thoughts and feelings emerge, in the same manner as when we fall asleep at night and suddenly start to see dream images, and hear voices, chatter, sounds from the subconsciousness, which come from the pluralized ego that is about to separate from the physical body through an astral projection. While most people experience this process unconsciously, with gnostic psychoanalysis, we learn to provoke drowsiness at will and to observe the roots of each memory, image, sound, etc., as they emerge spontaneously within us.
Psychoanalysis describes how and why the mind functions, like in this image: what are the parts of the psyche? How are they formed? Why do they function as they do? Why does this ego think, feel, and act the way it does in this precise moment? Psychoanalysis answers these questions.
5. Mantralization or Koan
To have energy to perform psychoanalysis, we work with mantra.
Mantra simply means “mind protection.” We are guarding our mind against negative influences, to armor our consciousness in the path of self-knowledge against the ego. Mantras or sacred sounds help to energize the psyche. They help to produce firmness of will; a pliant, robust, and flexible consciousness that knows how to act in any circumstance, in any direction, at any time, without exertion.
A koan is a riddle, a question you pose to the mind in order to silence it, such as the Zen question: “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” The purpose with mantras or koans is to help the mind to be quiet. By asking a question that the mind can’t answer, in any way, shape, or form, the mind with its thinking becomes exhausted, entering into silence and quietude. Mantras are forms of koans, since each mantra possesses an esoteric meaning that is only accessible to the consciousness, when the mind is receptive and in silence.
Mantras can be used at the beginning of a meditation session to prepare the body, heart, and mind. They can also be used during a meditation when probing into the subconsciousness, or at the end when we ask for annihilation for a comprehended defect.
Prayers like Fons Alpha, the Conjuration of the Four and the Seven, etc., can help to reject negative influences both within and without, to help you go within the mind and to prepare your space for meditation. We have countless mantras in this tradition that you can work with. I recommend Om Tat Sat, or Om Masi Padme Hum for beginners, and even the mantra Wu, as explained by Samael Aun Weor in his writings.
A profound mantra for invoking divine energy is Klim Krishnaya Govindaya Gopijana Vallabaya Swaha. This mantra invokes Christ into the mind, heart, and body, forming the gnostic pentagram to protect the consciousness against distractions and egotistical afflictions. We have included a video from GnosticTeachings.org to help with its pronunciation.
Mantras can be sung, whispered, or chanted in a prolonged manner, in accordance with your needs and dispositions. This mantra, like any other, can be chanted as many times as needed. It is good to pronounce mantras out loud to charge the body and mind with energy, to experience its vibration in your body, before going into mental recitation or Japa, otherwise referring to silent recitation.
6. Superlative Analysis
In superlative analysis we work on self-analysis and self-discovery. We included in this image many mirrors that reflect one upon the other. This refers to a state of conscious introspection whereby we go deeper into the mind to discover and analyze the root causes of an ego beyond the physical body.
In what past life did we create a specific ego? What does this ego feed or subsist upon? What impressions nourish it? What are its associates? What are its mechanisms? How does it function? Of course, this is all purely mechanical. The ego thinks its smarter than God, than the Being, but in truth is a very subjective and mechanical thing. The advantage that we have as a consciousness, along with the Being, is that the soul and the Being are not mechanical, but intuitive, objective.
Superlative analysis helps us to comprehend this subjectivity, this mechanicity, through discovering the roots of the ego and analyzing how it functions within the forty-nine levels of the subconsciousness, unconsciousness, and infraconsciousness. This knowledge or analysis can occur through mystical experiences in the astral and mental worlds, which become realized through the persistent reflection of the consciousness, represented by the mirrors of this image.
Comprehension occurs in degrees, as we mentioned. When we have fully comprehended the deep significance of a specific ego, we experience a spark of understanding, an “Ah hah!” moment. This is inner judgment.
We see in this image the last judgment of Christ. On his right are those souls being initiated into the path of psychological and mystical death, purity, and chastity. The souls on his left are those demons that have entered the black path of fornication, degeneration, and fortification of desire, egotism.
The people entering hell are also a representation of all the egos entering submerged devolution within the mineral kingdom. Christ has a sword in his left hand, heralding the justice, severity and damnation of the lost souls in the abyss, whereas Christ carries a palm branch of victory for those solar initiates to his right, symbolizing the path of victory, comprehension, and inner judgment in meditation.
Self-judgment refers to how, through the perception of Christ in us, we learn to separate the wheat from the chaff, the flames from the smoke, the consciousness from a certain ego. We deeply comprehend and judge how a certain ego or egos of lust, anger, pride, etc., are causing harm to ourselves and to others. We do so through the sword of insight carried in Christ’s left hand, a symbol of prajna or wisdom, direct insight and understanding of the mind. We also accomplish this through the scales of justice and measurement held in the hand of the Angel Michael in the center of this graphic.
Judgment pertains when we sit a specific defect under conscious scrutiny in the defendant’s chair, as in a court. We petition to our inner divinity, our inner Christ, most specifically our Divine Mother Kundalini, that we wish to eliminate this specific aggregate we have comprehended, that we want extirpated from our soul. Remember that each ego is a shell, a Klifah (plural Klipoth, “shells,” symbol of the hell realms) that traps our consciousness. The more we break those shells, the more soul, virtue, or Essence we free.
While we judge the ego in question, it’s important to not only look at the harm this aggregate or defect causes within our psyche, but we should also contemplate how we should have acted in a given situation where this ego manifested. So if we experienced an instance of pride, by comprehending that defect, we can in turn learn the appropriate virtue we should have used there and then, which would be humility.
With judgment, we place the evidence against the ego in the court of our consciousness, asking our Divine Mother to aid us. We beg to the Lords of Karma for negotiation, for help, when these specific egos relate to ancient debts we owe before the tribunals of divine justice, the Temple of Karma where Anubis officiates. We present the evidence of our judgments before the divine courts of karma and beg for mercy, for annihilation, for the destruction of these karmic defects, these truly demonic “I’s.”
The scale of judgment held in the hand of St. Michael represents the equilibration of forces achieved through the death of the ego, the balancing of karmic debts before the divine law. We must deeply contemplate, with remorse, how creating this specific ego has led us and others on the path of suffering. With remorse, with judgment, comes the next step: prayer and elimination.
The first step of the path is discovery. Followed by inner judgment or profound comprehension. Lastly follows prayer and elimination through the grace of the Divine Mother Kundalini.
We chose in this image a picture of Mithras slaying a mythological bull, and who is aided by a serpent and a hound. The bull is a symbol of the animal ego that must be annihilated, a feat achieved through the serpent Kundalini, the Divine Mother who aids us in the elimination of defects. We must pray to Her to eliminate the ego after its comprehension.
We are also aided by the hound, symbol of the sexual energy or instinct that must be directed towards the disintegration of the defect in question. A hound in Greek mythology, such as Cerberus, relates to the sexual creative energy. We must use this energy with prayer to invoke Devi Kundalini, to aid us in the death of desire.
"One will supplicate (ask) the Divine Mother Kundalini, our inner and individual Mother, with much fervor. One will talk to her with frankness and introvert all the defects and faults that one has, so that She, who is the only one capable of disintegrating the “I’s,” will disintegrate them at their very roots." —Samael Aun Weor, The Revolution of the Dialectic
This work constitutes the transformation of impressions, the work upon the residual effects of wrong psychological, unconscious transformations we experienced in this life and previous lives. While the transformation of impressions relates to how we transform the present moment during our daily life, it also refers to when we go into the mind in meditation to work against the previous, wrong transformation of impressions from the past, meaning, the work upon the psychological, pluralized “I,” because the ego constitutes bad transformations of impressions that exist within us.
"In order to be able to transform our impressions [the pluralized ego, the “I”], we need to reconstruct the scene just as it happened, to find out what hurt us the most. If there is no digestion of impressions, then nourishment from them will not be attained. If there is no nourishment, the essential [solar] bodies of the Being will languish. [...]" —Samael Aun Weor, The Revolution of the Dialectic
When the ego is annihilated, impressions are transformed and the Being is nourished, fed with new knowledge, virtues, powers, conscious qualities, etc.
"Good impressions should also be transformed. If during the day one has had three impressions which have affected his psychological mood, then they must be studied and transformed at night by utilizing an orderly procedure. Each “I” is connected with others; they are associated. The “I’s” conjoin together in order to form the same scene." —Samael Aun Weor, The Revolution of the Dialectic
Study each scene of your day and the egos that emerged in them. You can dedicate however much time you need to each ego in a specific scene that requires your attention with greatest need and urgency.
If you are self-observing very well, you will find that there is a lot to meditate upon. Do not get overwhelmed, but work consistently and diligently on what is most urgent. Work on those egos that require the most attention, those that you intuitively feel require your greatest focus.
Say at work, you experienced a scene in which five egos emerged that you discovered and need to work upon due to the gravity of these faults. Thereafter, when you sit to meditate, contemplate each ego in that scene, perhaps spending fifteen to twenty minutes on each defect, until achieving comprehension.
Afterward, pray for annihilation along with vocalizing the mantra “S” or “Krim.” Visualize the ego in your three brains like a demon begin consumed by fire, or being pierced by a sword, the sword of justice held in the hand of Christ and the Divine Mother, the spear of the sexual energy that can wound the ego to death.
The vowel S in esoterism is prolonged like the hissing of a snake, the serpentine fire of Kundalini as we saw in the image of Mithras slaying the bull. The mantra sounds like this: “Ssssssssss!” This vowel can awaken sparks of Kundalini to aid you in disintegrating your defects, if you are a bachelor. Married couples can work in the sexual act, though white tantra, to pray for annihilation when husband and wife and united, pronouncing these mantras.
“Krim” is pronounced as in “Krrrrrrrrrrriiiiiiiiiiiimmmmmm! [as in “cream” in English, rolling the R as in Spanish]. It has the same destructive power for working against the ego.
With successive works, you will find the monstrosity of the egos in question become smaller in size, until becoming like small children. As your Divine Mother pulverizes the ego, such defects become smaller and smaller until finally being decapitated and reduced to nothingness. After annihilating egos in their totality, the disciple feels tremendous peace and immense happiness, since the Essence that was trapped within them has become liberated.
Not every ego can be destroyed in one sitting, but becomes more and more weak the less and less we feed them, the more we comprehend our errors. With consistent practice, these defects reduce in size until becoming cosmic dust, whereby the parts of the soul trapped within them becomes freed.
“With patience possess ye your souls.” —Luke 21:19
Some students have asked us whether you can pray for annihilation even if you’re not sure if you’ve effectively comprehended certain egos. The Divine Mother, however, can only eliminate what you have fully comprehended. It doesn’t hurt to ask Her, but She will only pulverize an ego that has been understood in its totality. She would never eliminate an ego that has not been completely understood because to eliminate the ego, She sends it to the infernal worlds after extracting the consciousness. If your consciousness has not been freed from it yet, has not been released from its shell or conditioning, then the consciousness would be sent into hell with the ego, which the Divine Mother won’t do. She will never harm Her child, the Essence. Instead, She waits for our comprehension of the ego in order to free the soul, and thereafter eliminates that specific shell or condition of mind.
Students have also asked us how we can know that certain egos are dead. You might have internal experiences about walking amongst catacombs or graves. I’ve personally had this experience, where I found myself in a coffin being sent to the incinerator. This is a very good indication that one is dying, being purified by the flames of Christ and the Divine Mother.
Or, you experience certain ordeals and situations again where you used to react mechanically, egotistically, and no longer do so. You know the ego is dead when the internal actors that produced conflicts in specific situations are no longer acting—you simply don’t react to people the same way you used to—you don’t get caught up in tragedy, comedy, or drama. Instead of being angry at your boss, as in the example I provided earlier, you instead respond with love, with patience and comprehension. This type of experience is much more definitive and accessible. It also gives us a lot of faith in this teaching, because we see the practical results of working with Devi Kundalini.
This is a transcription of an audio lecture from The Sufi Path of Self-knowledge, originally given live at the Gnostic Academy of Chicago:
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.
The Gnostic Academy of Chicago
Free online courses, lectures, podcasts, and transcriptions.