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The purpose of meditation is to acquire information which is not readily accessible to the senses. As a fundamental rule, direct knowledge of divinity, reality, the truth, can only occur once the psychological conditions that trap our perception are removed.
All of us in Gnosis long for intimate wisdom, the radical transformative experience of speaking directly with the divine. However, while we may engage in deep prayer, calling out intensely for guidance, asking for instruction, the reality is that we cannot receive the message, the response, when our minds and hearts are distracted and afflicted.
It is like comparing our prayers to a broadcast, like an SOS call, an emergency signal. We desperately yearn for truth, for knowledge, for wisdom, and we pray. We supplicate. We ask for help, and yet, metaphorically, psychologically, we have the radio playing at full blast.
Many people know how to pray, to talk with the divine, to supplicate, to beg, and may even be very eloquent at it. However, the reality is that nobody knows how to listen: to receive the essential message of divinity, which is not apprehensible to our cloistered, negligent, conditioned consciousness.
If we are honest, we will see that our lives are filled with noise. I do not mean just while we drive our car or listen to our iPod. The truth is that our mind is constantly thinking.
We are always conceptualizing, debating, arguing, projecting associative thought, ideas, lectures, sermons, warnings, onto the screen of our existence, to the point that we don't even have any awareness of our surroundings. We talked about this briefly in the lecture on awareness, being present in the moment, absence and presence, paying attention. We tend to be very lost. The mind is not concentrated on what we are doing. We are consciously asleep. We are not awake.
It is in the stillest moments in our lives when we acquire the most clarity, even when such realizations are startling and often times disturbing. In the silence of discontent, in the inquietudes of our heart, in our most intimate longings, we have received a secret impetus, an insight, a divine intuition. As Al-Junayd stated about retreat:
“Sufism is sitting for a few moments without cares and worries with God.” —Al-Junayd
Divinity always speaks to us. The problem is that despite our prayers, we do not know how to abandon identification, anxiety, despair—to be capable of perceiving and even understanding the reply. We do not know how to listen, to receive.
Divinity speaks in the form of intuition: to know without having to think about it. Rationalization and our over-reliance on concepts, intellectual processes—this is the obstacle. This is the lock on the door that leads to divine experience, genuine wisdom.
We have to make a very clear distinction between the mind or intellect, and the consciousness. Hopefully in this series of lectures, you have grasped the thread about this distinction and the different qualities inherent within our innate capacity to perceive: the consciousness, the Essence.
Consciousness is the capacity to see, to perceive. It is not thought. It is not the mind. Humanity likes to think that our essential nature is thought. But this is not true. The French philosopher Descartes was wrong when he said, “I think therefore I am.” To think is not to be, to be present, to be watchful.
You could be listening to this lecture, but if your mind is chattering, you are not present. You are not being here and now. You are dreaming.
Consciousness is very dynamic. It is a very broad spectrum that is beyond the conditions or limitations of thought. This can be very evident through a traumatic experience. I am sure some of us might have been in a car accident before: some kind of danger in which your consciousness was shocked into being present. In a single instant of danger, a person confronted with the split-second decision of to be or not to be, can respond appropriately to a crisis without needing to think at all, without needing to rationalize. You can be driving your car, and then you can turn away from oncoming traffic, because in the moment prior, you were distracted. You were not paying attention. It is only much later after the heat of an ordeal like that that we even begin to think about the calamity that was avoided.
This indicates to us that thought is a very slow process. It is not quick. We have other functions in our psychology that are much more expedient, fast. A lot of people like to deify the intellect. Academics, scholars, intellectuals, defend and acclaim the mind. They believe that it is superior to all else, and this is wrong. This is limited.
Consciousness is the potential to experience and respond to life with lucidity, with judgment, which can operate much quicker than thought can, than any type of intellectual deliberation. Like in the example I offered you of driving a car. You didn't have to think in the moment. You just acted because you knew what you needed to do to survive.
Thought is a projection, and if you study Tibetan Buddhism, especially the writings of Padmasambhava in The Tibetan Book of the Dead, in the chapters on the nature of conscious awakening [Introduction to Awareness], he explains very beautifully how the mind, the intellect, the self, is always projecting its thoughts on to experience, and it doesn't see the reality. The mind constantly projects its films upon the screen of existence, and we, hypnotized, simply follow its thread, its associations, its connections, not recognizing that this is a form of conditioning.
It is a type of agitation and movement that is contrary to meditation. It is not stillness. Our minds are constantly in a state of hypertension, we can say. We tend to be very agitated in the West, North America—over excited by many distractions in life, and yet, while the mind is constantly in tension, this does not mean that our consciousness is awake, that it is comprehensive, that it is understanding of what is happening in our daily life.
Understanding or comprehension is a distinct characteristic of the consciousness, but this can only emerge if we perform a very fundamental shift in our psychological sense and center of gravity.
Where we are within our behavior and our conduct? Where do our actions come from? We have to observe this. We have to question this. We have to analyze.
In truth, we must make the consciousness active and the mind passive. This is a tremendous turn in direction within our psychology, because right now our mind is active and our consciousness is asleep. If you do not believe me, you can reflect on a moment in your life in which you weren't paying attention, perhaps like in your car, and perhaps learning a hard lesson that you nearly died because you weren't remembering yourself, where you were, what you were doing.
Our mind currently dominates everything we do, and of course, anybody who studies meditation recognizes this as a fact or to a point. We realize that the mind is a source of our problems. It is not the panacea. It is not the solution, regardless of what our culture and society believe. It is easy to see and to reflect on how overthinking, constantly worrying, daydreaming, and ruminating about a problem, only makes us worse. It makes us suffer, and this is something we want to avoid. But better than avoiding the problem, it is better to look at it with clear and untainted eyes—a serious examination of our mental stream.
The truth is that when the mind is receptive, when it is calm, lucid, it becomes an amazing instrument, an intelligent vehicle through which we can work for divinity and humanity. The mind can be a wonderful gift if it is balanced, if it is harmonized, if it is in equilibrium with all the other centers of our psychology.
It could become like a lake. It can reflect within its crystalline waters the starry heavens. When it is still, it is profoundly deep, reflective, intuitive.
Comprehension and understanding are the direct apprehension of a consciousness without having to think, without having to rationalize. Thinking is a disturbance in the mind. It is like when you thrash in a lake. You are swimming, or you throw a stone into the depths. Thought is like that. It is a rippling of the waves of our mind. Our mind ripples with reactions, in an egotistical way, from the center of our existence to the periphery, which is our senses.
Although a lot of people do not recognize this fact, but it is possible to comprehend life without relying on thought. Thought is a disruption within the flow of existence. Thought itself can flow serenely without having a rippling effect, leaving its wake within our interior psychology. You can do this by watching yourself: allowing existence to flow through you through the path of concentration and serenity, which we are explaining today.
Comprehension is the capacity to know with a receptive mind, an intuitive mind. You simply know the answer to a problem. You direct your attention. You allow your mind to rest. You let it receive. It waits. It is like a chalice, and in the Christian symbology, the Holy Grail partly represents this: the chalice that receives the blood of Christ, the energies and principles of the divine. But of course, you must clean the inside of the cup and not be like a Pharisee, only worrying about the exterior: your college degrees, your job, your career, if this is something that really matters or is on the forefront to you.
Instead, our psychological purity is what matters. We can intuit, we can comprehend, we can understand when the consciousness is engaged with life, and the consciousness is only engaged when our personality, our habits, all those customs relating to our language and culture, our racial identity and heritage, our concepts of mother flag and nation, when our traumas cease, when they no longer dominate our states.
The mind and the personality, which are necessary, need to become passive. They have to serve as a vehicle and not the operator. But learning to distinguish this is very difficult. This is why we practice concentration in the beginning, to develop the consciousness, to separate from the lower qualities of our self, which must be examined.
The consciousness in truth can direct the mind, or the ego can, نَفْس nafs, selves, conditions. The consciousness, when it is in command of the centers of our psychology, know how to manage energy for the Spirit, for upright action and even the betterment of humanity. This signifies a very profound state of perception—continuous, consistent, clear. It is unconditioned by a sense of self, physically, materially, culturally, etc. When the “I,” the ego, is absent, then the consciousness experiences the plenitude and silence of God.
Silence and serenity is the spontaneous natural state of our Being. The problem is that we have smothered all this, all our good qualities, within attachments, cravings, ignorance, mechanicity, reactions, fear. This is why we don't understand or receive clear messages from the Being. This is why we have so much delusion in our lives, why we are confused.
Despite our most cherished beliefs, we can learn to understand and receive the messages of the Being with great efficacy, with clarity, with facility, with ease, when we adopt the appropriate training.
While meditation schools, lectures, and books can provide instruction about the form, the spirit of serenity, it is only understood from experience. This is why Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi stated the following:
“Silence is the language of God. All else is poor translation.” —Rumi
The First Stage of Worship
All schools of meditation teach how serenity, internal silence, is the prerequisite for meditation. Prophet Muhammad was known to have said in the Hadith, the oral tradition of Islam, that “an hour of contemplation is better than a year of prayer.” Yet what is contemplation?
We explained previously that the Arabic term is مشاهدة mushahadah: to witness the truth, to perceive new information about reality.
Contemplation is the state of meditation. When you bear witness in a court of law, you are verifying what you have seen, heard, and experienced to the best of your ability. The same with contemplation of your innermost divinity.
Witnessing and experiencing the truth obviously occurs in degrees. It has many levels of experience. It is multi-dimensional in relation to the universe and our own inner constitution. Consciousness and truth have infinite potential for expression and investigation of the physical and even the internal worlds. However, to even begin to have a space for contemplation, whether of a book, a scripture, a teaching, an event in your life, a virtue you have experienced in yourself or an ego you have self observed, we must acquire some initial stability of concentration and internal serenity.
Which is why Prophet Muhammad stated:
“The first stage of worship is silence.” —Prophet Muhammad, Hadith
In our example of sending out an emergency signal from the radio, you cannot receive, let alone understand the codes, the response, if you are distracted.
So as I said, many people already know how to pray. People go to church and synagogue, to mosques, to Buddhist temples, to monasteries. They have many formulas they use to pray and they are all very beautiful and necessary. Yet the reality is that few people know how to receive. This is why there's so much absence in many people's hearts. Very few people know how to listen within. This is because distraction is our common state of being.
If you sit to examine your psychology, not in the future, but here and now, even if just for 10 minutes, you will directly perceive that your mind is all over the place. You may be spacing out. There are discursive, fragmented thoughts, memories, everything pulling you in many directions. It may be due to fear, pride, hatred, lust, desire, ego, س nafs.
Silence, on the contrary, is a psychological space in which we can actually learn to understand and directly communicate with divinity without vagueness, without: “Maybe I did and maybe I didn't.” No ambiguity. No abstraction. No theory. No belief. You simply know.
It could be good to have external silence when you are seeking to cultivate a meditation space or practice, since a very welcome or warm and calm environment is conducive for beginning meditators to really actualize the first steps of their discipline, which is equanimity, dispassion, serenity, clarity.
Outer and Inner Silence
The Sufis explain this very well, that there are two forms of silence: external and internal.
“Silence has two parts, outer quiet and the quiet of heart and mind.” —Al Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
This is from Al-Qushayri's Principles of Sufism. Let us recall that just as there are levels of instruction, teaching, and practice with in Sufism, within Buddhism, Gnosticism, etc., likewise, our degree, our intentions, and the depth of our silence is characterized in distinct categories and grades.
There are levels to serenity. It is not like we are just going to sit and practice and suddenly the mind is completely blank instantaneously. There are gradations to different states of inner silence. We can examine two categories according to the Sufis, the one who trusts in God and the Gnostic who has already had some experiences with divinity. Al-Qushayri states,
“Someone who trusts in God stills his heart as a way of laying claim to his sustenance. The gnostic stills his heart in acceptance of destiny through the quality of harmony with God.” —Al Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
If you have been following the sequence and practices of this course, you will see that mystical experiences, astral projections, dream yoga visions, etc., are the natural result of working with Gnostic practices, including mantra, pranayama, sexual alchemy, transmutation, runes, sacred rites for rejuvenation, jinn state exercises, many exercises. If you have tasted such experiences and verified them through a consistent discipline, you naturally gain trust in divinity. You become familiar with divinity to your degree, in accordance with the level of your practice.
Therefore, we have confidence in the practical reality and consequence of a still mind, of a silent intellect, a balanced heart distinguished by its equanimity. We practice so as “to lay claim to our sustenance,” which is why Samael Aun Weor stated that “meditation is the daily bread of the wise.” It is our food, our nourishment. It is what gives us strength, and when we verify those states, it encourages us to practice further, which is what the Sufis are stating.
Likewise, the Gnostic, the initiate, stills his or her heart, enters internal silence and accepts whatever mystical state arrives spontaneously within the screen of his or her consciousness.
But how do these two, the one who trusts, and the Gnostic, defer? We can examine further in this quote:
"The one relies upon the fineness of His work. The other is content with the totality of His decrees.” —Al Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
So as beginners, we rely on the refinement of His work, which signifies ethical discipline. We restrain negative behaviors and, in turn, we enact virtuous behaviors, which are known as ethics, precepts. These help us to conserve energy so that we can awaken our consciousness. By refining our actions, our Essence, our soul, becomes stronger and empowered. This is the meaning of the doctrine of شريعة shari’ah, the law, the divine commands.
Only after truly defining ourselves for many years in meditation does one learn “to be content with the totality of His decrees,” which have to do with very profound mystical states: the exaltation of our Being, whether in daily life, or especially in the dream state. It is also indicated and indicates an acceptance of His states, whether of absence or presence, as we discussed previously.
Al-Qushayri concludes here:
“With this meaning they have said: His misfortunes came over you, And the cares of your inner being were relieved.” —Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
So with familiarization and acculturation to these principles of serenity and silence, we gain greater confidence in the Being. This is faith. This is knowing. There is no doubt there. You know what consciousness is and you know what the Being is because we act ethically in each moment.
When we establish this training, we can face extremely difficult hardships and ordeals relating to the path of initiation, and this is because divinity is testing us to determine:
What are our states?
What have we developed?
What is our level of being?
Despite all these challenges, we remain at peace. This is a great victory.
We also related in prior lectures how when we remember the presence of divinity, even in a tragedy, in a deep trauma, amongst cataclysms like that are happening today, we don't suffer. We know we are protected or guarded. We are defended in times of need, so that our deepest longings for instruction and guidance are fulfilled in practical life.
I have to say that this pandemic has definitely been very terrible for many people, and in my case, I know as a result of my work that I have been blessed by divinity, have been aided in many of my needs, so I am very grateful for that. I have that faith. It is what I have experienced not only physically, but internally, in the internal worlds. So this is what confidence is. We know, and yet to know this security, this confidence, this humility in divinity, it is necessary to really master the power of speech, which is the science of silence.
The Eloquence of Wisdom
All meditative traditions emphasize the wisdom of silence. Samael Aun Weor, the founder of our tradition even stated that “silence is the eloquence of wisdom.” But what does this mean?
We learn to receive wisdom through physical and psychological silence, through having a mind in a profound state of receptivity, dedication, and respect for divinity. We learn from others, the world, and our teachers through having a humble, silent, and receptive mind.
Passivity of the personality, the tongue, and the mind are the prerequisite of learning, whether any field of study. One has to listen. One has to engage with the consciousness to understand, so that the consciousness is awake, so that it is reflecting its brilliant character, its lucid attention, its diligent activity and its penetrative engagement with life.
Have you ever listened to a lecture or a person and found that your mind is talking while they are? This type of internal chatter has to cease if we really want to gain a genuine appreciation of reality and others, especially.
In Buddhism, the bowl of our consciousness must be up to receive whatever arrives. Samael Aun Weor dedicated an entire chapter in The Revolution of the Dialectic that detail these principles. I'd like to read to you the following, “The Defamation of the Word”:
“The explosion of a cannon destroys the glass of a window. On the other hand, a soft word pacifies anger or wrath. Nevertheless, an insulting, inharmonious word produces anger or melancholy, sadness, hatred, etc.
“It is said that silence is golden, but it is better stated with the following words: it is as incorrect to speak when one must be silent as it is to be silent when one must speak!
“There are criminal silences, there are infamous words. One must calculate with nobility of manner the result of spoken words, for often times one hurts others with words in an unconscious manner.
“Words filled with a sense of bad intentions produce fornication in the world of the mind. Arhythmic words (distorted words) engender violence in the world of the cosmic mind.
“One must never condemn anyone with the verb because one must never judge anyone. Slander, gossip, and calumny have filled the world with pain and bitterness.
“If we work with Sexual Super-dynamics (which is alchemy), we have to comprehend that the creative energies are exposed to all kinds of modifications. These energies of the libido can be modified into powers of light or darkness; it all depends on the quality of the words.
“The perfect human being speaks words of perfection. The Gnostic student who wishes to follow the path of the revolution of the dialectic must become accustomed to controlling the tongue. One must learn how to handle the word.
“It is not what enters the mouth that causes harm to humans, but rather what comes out of it! The mouth supplies insults, intrigues, defamation, calumny, and debates. All of these things are what harms humans.
“Therefore, avoid all types of fanaticism because we cause great harm to human beings, to our fellow men, with it. One not only hurts others with insulting words or with fine and artistic ironies, but also with the tone of the voice, with the inharmonious and arhythmic accent.” —Samael Aun Weor, The Revolution of the Dialectic: “The Deformation of the Word”
So in synthesis ,speech can serve divinity and ennoble humanity, or it could destroy and sabotage our happiness and the happiness of others.
Sufism and the Qur’an speak abundantly about the need to show respect in our verb. Gossip and slander have really destroyed spiritual movements, political movements, as we are seeing now, today. The foundation of genuine spirituality is the ethical and conscious expression of our words, which have the power to unite communities, or it can destroy them, as we are seeing abundantly today.
Let us read some excerpts from this chapter from Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism:
“A wise man said that the human being was created with only one tongue, but with two eyes and two ears so that he may hear and see more than he says. Ibrahim bin Adham was invited to a banquet. When he sat down, the guests began to gossip. He remarked, ‘It is our custom to eat the meat course after the bread, but you have begun by eating the meat!’ (He was pointing to the saying of God, ’Would one of you like to eat the dead flesh of his brother? No, you would abhor it’ (59:12)).” —Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
To enter meditation, we have to really conserve our energy. This includes our mind, our emotions, our vitality, and our will. Negative words waste energy and waste our potential, the ability to awaken consciousness. This is why the Sufis spend a lot of time focusing on verbal discipline, the chastity or purity of the tongue.
“A Sufi said, ‘Silence is the tongue of forbearance.’ Another said, ‘Learn silence as you have learned speech. Speech will guide you, and silence will protect you.’ It is said, ‘The chastity of the tongue is its silence.’ And it is said, ‘The tongue is a beast of prey. If you do not tie it up, it will attack you.’” —Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
So this is verifying what Samael Aun Weor wrote. Chastity, while the sexual principle of conserving and transforming energy, applies to our speech. For as Samael Aun Weor explained, we modify our sexual energy based on our words, our qualities. If our speech is lustful, negative, degenerate, we will radically fortify our desires, our ego, our نَفْس nafs. When we have purity of speech, dignified words, and harmonious communication with others, we empower the soul and the Spirit of our neighbor.
However, there are degrees of psychological, of ethical, of verbal, of conscious purity, which is studied within the three-tiered structure of Sufi and Gnostic meditation.
The Degrees of Silence
We discussed extensively regarding the three stages or degrees in meditation: introductory, intermediate, and advanced practice. Or شريعة Shari’ah, طريقة Tariqah, and حقيقة Haqiqah / معرفة Marifah: the divine law, inner meditation, and mystical experience, respectively.
Silence has levels of application within different contexts and even refers to states of initiating development within spiritual schools. In the beginning, meditators struggle to control their tongue: to not indulge in vain conversation, to not talk about politics, debates, argumentation, disputes, words filled with anger or resentment. This is due to the fact that we waste a lot of energy on these things, especially when we speak with ego.
Remember that we also spoke a lot about the nature of breath: the three types of soul mentioned in Kabbalah and the Qur’an, which relate to the degrees of silence on the spiritual path. Let us review these:
Our egos are نَفْس nafs, nafas, which translate as “breath.” We even find in the opening of Ecclesiastes, chapter 1 verse 2, how through the breath we indulge in vain things. We waste our potential, our energy, our dynamism:
“Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity.” —Ecclesiastes 1:2
The Hebrew term for vanity is הֶבֶל habel. This is the original name for Abel in the Bible who was killed by Cain. This is a symbol of how through the wrong use of speech, whether it is vulgar expressions, nonsense, inconsequential, meaningless words, incoherence, negative emotions, desire—we kill Abel, הֶבֶל Habel, our consciousness.
Cain is the soul that inclines to evil: Nafsu-l-Ammara, which is wrong thoughts, wrong feelings, wrong actions. These all find their synthesis within speech.
Speech is a form of alchemy, whether for good or for evil. It combines and expresses the inherent nature of our psychology. When we wish to convey to others our ways of thinking, our feeling, our being—we speak. We create circumstances based on the amalgamations, the combinations, the articulation of words. We empower our speech through the internal content and intent of our psychological state, here and now.
Speech is modified by sexual energy, and vice versa, which is why adolescents’ voices change during puberty: the development and invigoration of hormones and sexuality. How you manage your verb is predicated upon sexual energy.
To even obtain the beginning stages of serenity, we have to refrain from vulgar speech, from vain words, from excessive discussions, from polemics. We waste a lot of energy this way that is necessary for really entering serenity. It is an act that really agitates the mind, and when you are trying to meditate, it is counterproductive. It is like punching holes in the bottom of your boat when you are out in the middle of the ocean. You are going to sink.
Instead, let yourself rest. Let the waves of the ocean calm. Do not churn and stir up the mud. This is all part of ethics. We waste energy through egotistical speech, through vain breaths of desire.
In this manner, when we conserve our energies that are usually wasted through explosions of angry words, violent words, we then have the fuel and the power necessary for prayer, for mantras, for vocal exercises that can consciously redirect that storehouse of energy, of psychic power, emotional force, sexual energy, towards a noble purpose, which is the awakening of our consciousness. Inner silence of mind is the foundation of Gnostic practitioners or those who have divine experiences: knowledge of God.
Rumi stated in the beginning that “silence is the language of God,” the Being, who speaks through hunches, intuitions, here and now. When your mind is naturally, spontaneously quiet, time ceases, like you see here in this image of a Sufi in meditation facing a clock. We no longer think of the future or the past. We are fully engaged within ourselves in the moment.
This is the entry point to receiving objective knowledge. However, you cannot hear or register those intuitive impulses, let alone act on them, if your mind is constantly disturbed, if it's afflicted with noise. That noise is anger. It is the thoughts of pride, fear, laziness, lust, gluttony, etc. Internal chatter is the definite characteristic of ego, of a conditioned self.
By restraining ourselves from wrong action, by fulfilling ethical precepts from our religious traditions, we cultivate a psychological atmosphere that is very clean. It is reverent. It is ethical. It is compassionate through patience, direct perception, and insight. We get very strong. We have more happiness in our life. We have more strength. This is the antechamber. It is the precinct. It is the space in which divinity can communicate with you and guide our actions.
In this way, this is how we blame ourselves. This is how we work with the self-reproaching soul, Nafsu-l-Lawwama. We learn to discriminate against our defects with our consciousness. We work with meditation. We analyze and critique all the expressions of the ego within our three brains.
So when you develop familiarity with these qualities of serenity and inner peace, which is born from intuitive action, we learn to acclimate ourselves. We learn to respond with virtue. We don't react mechanically to life like we used to. This is how we really love and remember divinity, حضور hudur, the presence of the Being, when you really restrain any thoughts that are distracting and distracted, which attempt to pull us away from our connection, the thread and continuity of the moment, of our awareness, of our mindfulness.
Beginners restrain their tongues from wrong speech. Gnostics attain silence through intuitive action, when you act without having to think about it. You simply know. This is the quality of the heart, not the intellect. Lovers of God never forget the presence of their Being because they never allow even a fragment or a hair, a distraction the size of a hair’s width, into their consciousness, which is Al-Qushayri states:
“It is said, ‘Silence for the common people is with their tongues, silence for the gnostics is with their hearts, and silence for lovers is with restraining the stray thoughts that come to their innermost beings.’” —Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
So those masters that never forget their innermost divinity have acquired the soul at peace, Nafsu-l-Mutma'inna. Their silence and serenity is eternal. It is permanent. It is unfaltering.
The Definition of Serenity
Let us explain some more practical dimensions about silence and serenity. We have an image here of the human machine. This is our constitution. It maps all of our processes, psychological level, and even a spiritual level as well.
Right now, the centers, the intellect, the emotions, our movement, our instinct, and our sexual qualities tend to be mechanical, conditioned: fulfilling the impetus and impulses of desire, the ego. Silence must exist with an all five centers if we really want to enter meditation. This is a state of suspension of all activity, whether physical or psychological, where we withdraw our consciousness from the physical senses, and, more importantly, from internal disturbances. In the same manner that the limpid pool ripples from the movement of an insect or a stone, likewise, our psychology ripples with any physical or psychological movement, any disturbance.
How do we disturb our body? If we are meditating, we move too much. Maybe we scratch an itch. We adjust our posture all the time. Maybe we feel discomfort or pain. Maybe our bodies are too excited, too tense, agitated. When we sit to practice meditation for however long we resolve, it is important that it is done with the purpose of not moving throughout the duration of the practice.
If we are moving during our practice, we are not meditating. Silence and stillness has to exist in our body first. Therefore, we have to resolve to ourselves not to move. I know beginners struggle with this, where after five minutes, one can't maintain one's position. But with training it gets easy.
It comes to my mind stories of Samael Aun Weor and even his wife Master Litelantes who would meditate for 4 hours without moving. So, they were very advanced practitioners. It's something that we can cultivate gradually.
We must not move. This is why it's really important in the beginning to select the meditation posture that is very conducive for relaxation, so we can concentrate. We can be vigilant and calm. The body has to be able to rest so that it's not a distraction, it’s not an obstacle. We have to be relaxed and sleepy, but not completely drowsy, somnolent, falling asleep while losing our continuity of attention, of our self-awareness.
Our spine should be straight. It should promote the flow of subtle energies or winds, the vital forces, which are in our psychology and even our physiology, as we explained on the lecture on Breath. However, our posture should be natural. It should not be tense. Your spine has to be firm enough so that you stay awake, but it's relaxed to the point that you forget the body. You don't forget what you are doing consciously, but you let the body rest, to fall into slumber. But consciously, we are awake. It's a very delicate balance. It is very subtle and something that you can only master with experience, with trial and error.
The body has to rest and the consciousness must avoid fascination, dreaming, and sleep: lacking attention. But for this, our movements must cease. The instinct or the impulse to adjust, whether from discomfort or pain, is an obstacle. In the beginning, spend a lot of time figuring out what posture works for you so that you can forget the body. You can focus on what's really important, the object of your meditation.
Likewise, our desires must be seen. They have to be observed. They have to be understood. Our emotional center has to be at peace. So we spoke about the motor-instinctive-sexual centers, which is really one type of activity. It is the spine located in our body and it's also the mechanism and intelligence of movement, impulse, reactions and sexual impulses that have to calm. But likewise, our heart has to be a peace. We have to learn to have silence not only in our movements, in our instincts, in our impulses, in our sexual cravings. There has to be stability, but likewise our heart.
We spend a lot of time talking about sexual energy in the previous lectures. You can't achieve stillness, the spontaneous and controlled relaxation of your body, without the help of the creative sexual energy. There is just no way around it. It is the fuel for conscious empowerment. Again, if you are new to this concept, study our former lectures. We explain these details in great length.
When the body settles, you can focus more within your introspection. You can also reflect and relax upon your thinking. There has to be stillness of mind. This means there is a lack of associative memories. There isn't a churning of distractions. There isn't a dispersion of thought, like light being projected into a fog. The clouds must evaporate. Thought must cease.
Cessation occurs through an inversion of our psychological state. Right now our mind is very hyperactive. And in other ways, it's also dull. It's heavy. It's clouded. It's not still sometimes. Maybe it's agitated. Or maybe it's too lazy. It lacks vibrancy or lightness. Meanwhile, our consciousness is very asleep. It's passive. It's inactive. It's inert. If you don't believe me, I am sure if you attempted meditation or sat for a few moments trying to experience the state of not thinking, not day dreaming or fantasizing, it is very difficult in the beginning. Perhaps you may select an object of concentration, but you forget the focus. The mind wanders. We forget what we are doing.
If we are honest, we can see from experience that this tends to be our daily state. It is a snapshot of what our entire existence is like. So this is the reality for beginning meditators. The mind and the body are obstacles and our consciousness lacks the profundity and the strength, the power to remain focused. However, through practice, this is going to change. Our consciousness must be profoundly active and the mind has to become perceptive, passive, and still.
This is why pranayama, sexual energy, is very important. It is the creative waters of genesis that can create the soul. This energy can calm the mind, the heart, and the body. It is the requisite. Consciousness, which is serene perception in its natural state, knows how to see our psychological contents with clarity. It also knows how to maintain continuity without forgetting what it is doing, when we are trained. It's not accessible oftentimes in the beginning, but with discipline it becomes our moment-to-moment state.
So consciousness is often characterized by the following qualities:
It is peaceful. It is accepting. It is content. It is tranquil. It is a state of equanimity. It is internal silence. In its true form, consciousness is the serene, tranquil, undisturbed and unwavering ability to place attention and to perceive reality but without agitation. It doesn't reject what it sees. It doesn't justify it either. It is not discontent. It is happy, luminous, and clear. It is perception free of the desire for good or ill, from attachment, from aversion, from yes and no, from positive and negative. It perfectly accepts reality.
Right now, we don't accept anything that contradicts our desires, if you were honest. Simply look at the politics today. When the world is not the way we want it to be, we suffer. We are conditioned. We are filled with psychological defects. We crave. We have emotional attachments. We have fear. We have aversion or we are in agony, mentally, emotionally, and even physically.
Just as we must suspend the thinking process, we also have to rest our emotions, the emotional center. And this can be very difficult to control. Thoughts are much more easier to calm, but negative emotions can be very disastrous. This is why ethics is essential. Curtailing negative behaviors, even emotionally. Controlling the heart, making it into a temple and offering to our Spirit. To make it clean. Emotions are very volatile. They can be explosive. They are fast and often uncontrolled without training. But with time and practice, it gets easier.
So an effective way to achieve serenity and silence is through selecting an object of concentration and focus. Concentration and serenity really go hand-in-hand. To be able to concentrate on one thing, you have to be serene, to not be distracted. But at the same time, serenity is grounded in your ability to focus on one thing: to not let the chaos of the mind take over.
Some basic exercises include taking an object of concentration and focus. This is exclusive meditation. You select an object like a stone or a dot on a wall, a mantra, a sacred image, and you dedicate your entire attention upon that one thing. You exclude everything else. This is for the purpose of developing continuity of perception, undistracted attention. If you forget what you are doing, bring yourself back. Don't beat yourself up. Don't be negative or morbid, but simply be gentle. Recall your practice. The Buddha said that if you lose your attention a thousand times in your practice, but regain it a thousand times as well, you performed a very good exercise, a very successful one.
Non-exclusive meditation focuses on the mind itself. It's a little bit more difficult. Actually, we could say it's a lot more difficult if we have never trained ourselves to concentrate here and now. It means to observe the contents of our psychology moment by moment, to look at the reality of our thoughts, our feelings, our impulses from a state of serene reflection. We even observe the act of observing. We are within our root nature, looking, examining, not labeling or dividing ourselves in our attention, but simply being. This can be a very profound meditation for great illuminations.
In this meditation, we don't exclude anything. You withdraw your consciousness from the world and enter your own clear, pristine luminosity: the sharpness and acute perception of our Essence when it is trained. We look at our mind stream. We see it for what it is. This is the purpose of entering deep states of inner silence, where we can even comprehend very subtle distractions that emerge in the mind that are not perceptible to our ordinary senses. This is self-observation. It is self-reflection taken to a deeper level, which, when you practice it diligently, it can result in illumination. You can have an astral projection. You leave your body because your body falls asleep, but you are perfectly awake as a soul. Very deep. Highly recommend it.
Tranquility and the Tree of Life
Such experiences of spiritual illumination are mapped here. We have been going back and forth upon the Tree of Life discussing this diagram in detail. Here, we are going to relate it to tranquility in a very powerful verse from the Quran. This is from Al-Fath (48:4).
“He it is Who sends down the Tranquility (sakīnah) into the hearts of the believers, that they might increase their faith along with their faith—to God belong the soldiers of the heavens and the earth, and God is Knowing, Wise.” —Al-Fath 48:4
The Hebrew term שכינה Shekhinah, according to Jewish mystics, is the power of the divine feminine. She is otherwise known as الْبُرَاق Al-Buraq, the lightning power of the Divine Mother within the Muslim tradition. She is the sacred cow of the longest (and second) Surah in the Quran, أل بقره Al-Baqarah. She is the force of intelligence, בינה Binah in Kabbalah. She is the top left sephiroth on this diagram. She is the Kundalini, the sexual creative power of God. She is the one who grants tranquility to the meditator.
So this stop trinity in this map expresses the most subtle aspects of divinity known as כתר Kether, חכמה Chokmah, בינה Binah, which in Christianity is denominated Father, Son, Holy Spirit. These are not people. According to Prophet Mohammad, the Christians had degenerated their tradition and literally believe that the trinity are three people, and this is wrong. Instead, they are forces and principles that are one. It is unitary. It is one light that expresses in many ways—three ways specifically, as we see the number three paralleled in this diagram below in the three trinities of this glyph. Kabbalah is the science of numbers, numerology, as we explained.
בינה Binah, Shekhinah, the tranquility, سكينة sakīnah, the Divine Mother, is the spiritual, the electromagnetic, the sexual creativity of divinity. This is the power that can grant you intelligence, inner peace, tranquility, cognizance.
Our willpower, תפארת Tiphereth, the human soul, is إحسان ihsan, as we explained previously. It is beautiful action. It is willpower, concentration, the Essence fully developed when it obeys divinity above: the five sephiroth, above the middle center of this glyph, תפארת Tiphereth. תפארת Tiphereth is beautiful action. It is the focal point for manifesting and governing or expressing the top trinity above. It is also the perfection, the splendor of expression from גבורה Geburah, divine justice, and חסד Chesed, the mercy of our Spirit.
When we utilize these intelligent principles, the sexual energy, it stabilizes the סְפִירוֹת sephiroth [emanations] below: נצח Netzach, the mind, הוד Hod, the emotions, יסוד Yesod, vitality, and מלכות Malkuth, the physical body. When we do this, our willpower is very strong. It is also very serene. It is the center of this whole diagram because through willpower is how we determine everything, whether we follow egotistical qualities below or we ascend above to higher states.
Real serenity is penetrative. It is serene. It is the ability to maintain an unwavering attention upon the object of our concentration, without forgetting our purpose or the clarity of our seeing. It is the foundation for meditation.
And with practice, it eventually doesn't take any effort. In the beginning, it's very hard, but with practice, when you are familiar with it, you enter it at will. This is the Zen statement of entering a state of meditation without effort, without exertion. It is the effortless effort. Our willpower, our concentration, our attention, when it is guided by the intelligence of the Divine Mother, the wisdom and supremacy of the Being, it knows how to acquire genuine faith in the teachings and to learn how to be a soldier in the Army of the Voice, according to Samael Aun Weor, which are the Elohim, the Gods, the buddhas, the masters, the prophets, the enlightened ones: those who have reached perfection through this path. The compelling intelligence and energy of tranquility, serenity, and sexual creativity allows the consciousness to experience freedom, freedom from conditions of mind.
But how is this accomplished we may ask? Abdullah Ansari of of Herat states the following in his Stations of the Sufi Path:
“Tranquility is peace that God pours into the heart of His friends so they taste freedom. Tranquility of the heart is found in three things: in devotion to divine unity, in service, and in certitude.” —Abdullah Ansari of Herat, Stations of the Sufi Pat
Unity, Service, and Certitude
Let us examine how to experience tranquility, serenity, according to Abdullah Ansari of Herat, the Sufi Persian initiate.
“Tranquility found in the devotion to divine unity brings about three effects in the heart: fear for a day that has not yet come, knowing God who one has not yet met, and loving God whom one has not yet seen.” —Abdullah Ansari of Herat, Stations of the Sufi Path
So as we explained previously, divine unity is a state of spiritual and psychological integrity. It means that our consciousness is unitary. It is not fragmented among so many different aggregates, egos, desires, نَفْس nafs. When we free the consciousness and unite it with divinity, we perform religion, from the Latin religare, “to reunite.” This is also in Arabic دين, din: judgment, to judge ourselves, so that we can unify our states, perfect them.
As we annihilate egos, we gain greater reverence. We even gain expectancy of future events, prophetic visions, which detail the coming destruction of humanity according to the Abrahamic traditions.
We also gain confidence in and fidelity to the teachings. When we see that we are really, at the beginning, a multiplicity of defects, a consciousness that has the potential to become spiritual, we become encouraged when we realize the facts of our practice, that we are changing, even if we don't have any supreme ecstasies or samadhis, states of the soul that are very deep. They're wonderful and beautiful, but we are not driven by attachment for experiences. This is a common problem amongst meditators. It is learning to practice without craving the result.
We also love divinity and the doctrine, the state of His qualities and virtues within ourselves, even if we don't witness Him through the highest degrees in the Tree of Life.
There are levels upon levels of experience. “Light upon light,” says the Qur’an [24:35]. We have to work with where we are at and be humble, to accept what divinity provides but to always strive and work without craving, without attachment.
The Sufi master continues:
“And the tranquility in service brings about three things in the heart. It leads the wayfarer to act according to the Prophetic tradition so that he tastes wealth even in poverty. It helps the heart of the wayfarer to trust the people of this path so he becomes free from obsession and temptation. And it helps the heart of the wayfarer to forget people so he becomes free from hypocrisy.” —Abdullah Ansari of Herat, Stations of the Sufi Path
So through tranquility or serenity, we learn to follow the example of the prophets, the great masters, the luminaries: people who have really established great traditions, who are perfect in their character. This is so that we can have an abundance of divine qualities of the consciousness, even when we recognize that we are really poor, spiritually. We tend to be very afflicted. We suffer a lot. We are degenerated, and yet, we do have virtue inside, and this is our anchor that keeps us committed and dedicated.
Tranquility also teaches us to rely on the group, the teachings, the sangha, the spiritual community, to commune with other spiritual aspirants who are very humble and sincere, those who are really working effectively and seriously upon themselves. We gain trust. We gain communities. We gain the perfume and honorable association of real friendship.
But also tranquility teaches us not to worry about other people. We don't gossip. We don't slander others when they are not present, and even when we are in front of them. This is so that we are not hypocrites.
Abdullah Ansari of Herat continues:
“And the tranquility of certitude also brings about three things in the heart: contentment with what one receives as one’s portion from God, so one becomes free from being deceptive; next is valuing gain and loss equally, so one becomes free from being defensive; and third is acceptance of God’s guardianship, so one becomes free from all attachments.” —Abdullah Ansari of Herat, Stations of the Sufi Path
So certainty of the truth will arise from tranquility when we are silent and still, when we learn to accept our current circumstance as a reflection of our karma, our past actions, because we reap what we sow. In this way, we don't deceive ourselves. We don't lie to ourselves that we deserve more, but we accept the facts with humility.
Neither do we become attached to victory or defeat. We learn to abide within a state of equipoise. There is no need to defend our pride, any sense of arrogance, our position, our desires. We accept the way things are, but strive for the better.
Lastly we accept that divinity is truly watching out for us. Not from a belief, from a mere sentiment in the heart, but from experience. We also don't become attached to circumstances because divinity is the unknowable, the truth from moment to moment.
Serenity in Capital, Hope, and Love
There also exists some other points for consideration. Let's see them from Abdullah Ansari of Herat:
“From the field of Tranquility the field of Serenity is born. God, the Most High, says,
‘O soul made serene’ (89:27).” —Abdullah Ansari of Herat, Stations of the Sufi Path
Again, this is el-Nafsu-l-Mutma'inna, the soul at peace, Neshamah, the spiritual soul, which is perfected in us when we reach the end of initiation.
“And serenity is peacefulness joined with intimacy. It is of three kinds in the capital with which one is endowed (naqd), of hope, and of love.” —Abdullah Ansari of Herat, Stations of the Sufi Path
What does it mean to become intimate with God? It means to know His states and His qualities inside through different levels of being, different experiences. This is cosmic capital. It is currency.
If you ever awaken in the astral plane and beg for help from divinity, if you are given money by the masters, by your Being, it is a symbol of receiving Dharma: divine favor, blessings, because it is money and payments by which you have earned through your spiritual work. It means to be endowed with conscious virtues. When we really annihilate the ego and develop patience, serenity, humility, compassion, faithfulness, sacrifice, compassion, naturally, the law is the law. We are rewarded for what we do. The whole Qur’an is based on this, that the unjust will suffer and the just will reap harvest of bounty. It is one of the central themes of the whole Muslim tradition and basically any religion. So if you want cosmic capital, to be endowed with hope and love, learn to perform good actions. Divinity never withhold His blessings for those who do good.
This quote continues:
“Serenity in one’s capital is of three kings: the serenity of the neglectful in respect to possessions, the serenity of the wise in respect to experience, and the serenity of the sincere in respect to confidence of being accepted by God.” —Abdullah Ansari of Herat, Stations of the Sufi Path
In a basic level, we could become serene in relation to material goods. So we talked a lot about in the lecture on renunciation about this. We may be neglectful at times of certain things, but we don't worry about them. We don't worry about loss, about losing a profit. We are content.
The wise are serene from experience because they know that all trials shall pass. No matter how difficult an ordeal, how painful it is, if you maintain your serenity and patience, it will subside. Life is transient. It is not eternal. As the Qur’an teaches, life is but a distraction from the real work and the Hereafter is really more worthwhile, if we but knew.
“And the worldly life is not but amusement and diversion; but the home of the Hereafter is best for those who fear Allah, so will you not reason?” —Al-An’am, 32
To be sincere and to know it signifies one's confidence, one's connection with divinity, that one is humble when God grants favor and to not be filled with mystical pride.
This quote continues:
“And serenity in hope is in three things: the reward earned by one who strives with his heart at peace, the reward given to one who waits expectantly for God with his heart in peace, and the reward granted to one who had severed all attachment to the world with his heart at peace.” —Abdullah Ansari of Herat, Stations of the Sufi Path
We receive the greatest gifts from the Being when we are striving selflessly in His cause. We concentrate upon him and work on our defects, our egos. This is striving in holy war mentioned in Islam, the war against our defects, not against our neighbor.
We also receive abundant experiences when we have faith from our works, that divinity is with us. For as the Apostle James stated, "Faith without works is dead” (James 2:17). But if you have works, practical disciplines, you will gain experience naturally.
We also receive blessings when we no longer have any internal attachments to this world, but interact with it without identifying, to have serenity in that regard.
“And the serenity of those in love has three signs: being engaged with God’s work rather than one’s own, being mindful and aware of God rather than being aware of oneself, and loving God rather than loving oneself.” —Abdullah Ansari of Herat, Stations of the Sufi Path
In synthesis, one should love humanity more than one loves oneself. We also should be aware of divinity rather than the ego, to be absent. It's better to be absent to the ego and present with the Being, and, to love divinity more than we love our desires.
Practices and Conclusion
In conclusion, we have some practices that you can fulfill so that you can reap the fruits of this teaching.
Each day develop your self-observation or inner accounting. In Arabic, this is محاسبة muhasabah. It means to analyze or to take account of our virtues and our defects. We do this moment by moment. We self observe. As a consciousness, we are examining our intellect, our emotions, and our body, the three brains of Gnostic psychology or the five psychological centers: intellect, emotions, and the motor-instinctive-sexual centers, respectively.
Observe these qualities in yourself. See them. Separate. Look at them, and everyday, develop your meditative concentration. You can adopt a meditation posture, find a position that works for you in which you can relax completely, in which you can focus a hundred percent on the object of your focus, of your concentration.
And if you have questions, I invite you to ask them.
Questions and Answers
Question: Does developing clairvoyance and working with the mantra related with that gland help one get or experience the illuminating void?
Instructor: Yes, to a degree. Clairvoyance, for those of you who are not familiar, is a French term meaning clear vision. We have been discussing in this entire lecture and course what perception is. Clairvoyance was a term given by some French initiates in order to mask the essential nature of their practice, to give it a technical flavor so that they would avoid derision and persecution.
Really, clairvoyance is our capacity to imagine, to perceive, to see non-physical imagery. Now, working with mantras to develop clairvoyance, the ability to imagine and perceive non-physical imagery, aids us with many things. I'd say that not only developing the third eye or the pituitary gland, the Chakra Ajna, it is the fundamental requisite for experiencing the illuminating void. In truth, to really enter that divine absolute abstraction, the Absolute Abstract Space, known in the Muslim tradition as اللّٰه Allah, “The Nothing,” “The No.” The negation of this universe requires that we learn to project and have that experience by going through our crown chakra, more specifically. The crown chakra relates to omniscience, and, if you enter the illuminating void, you pass beyond all universes and relativity, all conditioned experiences.
So that chakra is really deeply related to the highest experiences that are really divine. You can do the mantra Gate Gate Paragate Parasamgate Bodhi Swaha, which is the the heart mantra from the Prajnaparamita Sufra, very well-known and documented and extensive.
I recommend you practice those mantras and work with your crown. But also, if you work with your clairvoyance, that's good too. You need to learn to see your defects, to observe them, reflect upon them, take account of them, so that you can eliminate them, so that they can die. The more light you free from the cage, the more of the genie that you liberate from the bottle, the easier it will be for you when you really reach the void and you are about to enter, so that your ego fear doesn't take you out of the samadhi.
Question: Sometimes it seems that during the death in motion, asking the Divine Mother to eliminate in the ego in the moment, just doesn't seem to work. What should we do in these moments?
Instructor: So that's a good question, because there are a number of people in the Gnostic movement who have the assumption and the belief, or the teaching, that you can eliminate the ego and its deepest roots, little by little, by asking for annihilation moment by moment.
You are observing your mind and you look at the egos that have emerged in your interior and ask for annihilation in the moment.
It comes to my mind a lecture by Samael Aun Weor. It was a lecture for students of third chamber, of which certain missionaries who propounded the doctrine of the death in motion were not present. This lecture that he gives is available at Glorian.org, “Questions about the Elimination of the Ego,” where Samael Aun Weor had the same question asked of him. He replied that it's good in the moment to ask for removal, but it's not enough. In the moment, if you are being overwhelmed by ego, a defect of anger, of pride, of resentment, of lust, you can ask your Divine Mother to help you, to resist those impulses. In this way, you are asking your Divine Mother to starve this aggregate, to not feed it, but merely observing it in the moment and asking for annihilation, he said it's not enough. It's a flawed method. It doesn't work, because the ego is very deep. It has profound roots that have to be comprehended in meditation. You simply cannot go deep enough with the physical senses and in this physical plane. You have to really abandon the body, introspect, and enact the stages of silence and serenity and go deep within, so that you can observe those aggregates within the subconscious, unconscious, and infraconscious regions of our interior worlds.
We have to be very profound, very serious, because a lot of people have made this mistake and have cut out that teaching from Samael Aun Weor, confusing a bunch of people. But in reality if you study that lecture by our guru and teacher, our Sheikh, he is very specific and clear. Meditation is essential if you really want to annihilate the ego. You can't eliminate what's in the puddles. You have to go into the ocean, so to speak.
Question: In these times of lock down, a lot of ways to sacrifice and serve others are cut off. Do you have any insights or advice you can share?
Instructor: There are a lot of us who need help. Obviously, we have to look at our unique skills and talents, our disposition. But if you have a Gnostic school, especially, that you are supporting, that is good. I know in our school, I have often been asking volunteers to help transcribe lectures, because we found that getting this knowledge out to people, especially in these times, is really important, so that people can be educated about how to live and change their suffering, their states of being. I know some schools ask for donations. Glorian Publishing as well offers the books of Samael Aun Weor, especially. Supporting them is wonderful, so that other people can get access to these teachings. That really is the best gift you can give to somebody. Maybe it's donating a book. Maybe it's volunteering your time. That's something that you have to evaluate.
Some suggestions or things you could do, obviously, is support your local school. That is always a benefit, and really, in the path of sacrifice for humanity, we always learn to give up something of value to us, whether it's time or money, energy especially, in order to give to others, and that's never always going to be easy. Real sacrifices are painful, but you give what you can. You do what you can. For me, lock down, the most important thing for us has been to teach others, but not everybody is a missionary or a teacher or an instructor or will become one necessarily, but if you go on to visit Glorian.org, especially, you can help us out by looking under a section about volunteering. There are different ways to help volunteer, whether it's writing book reviews for Samael Aun Weor, getting people access to these teachings, especially. There are many ways that you can volunteer your time.
Any other questions?
Question: Does developing polyvoyance give us the power to see everything and everywhere at once, and how does ubiquity work? How could one person possess two bodies at the same time?
Instructor: That's something I don't understand either. You know personally, I remember speaking with Samael Aun Weor in the astral plane, where I invoked him on my property of my old house. He came from the sky, landed in front of me in the form of his bodhisattva, as you see in Mexico, the pictures of him. He was dressed in a suit, a very distinguished gentleman, and he invited me to walk with him. He told me while we were discussing things how he has the power of ubiquity, that he can be in many places at once. Of course, I was just amazed by that because I can barely even be conscious in my astral body or my physical body.
For my understanding, with polyvoyance, your ability of the consciousness is really infinite and that one can be conscious of many dimensions at once, not just the physical or one dimension at a time, but everything in unison. Very elevated masters like Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed, Krishna, Moses, Samael Aun Weor, have that ability, because they developed it. Now, ubiquity is simply the capacity the consciousness to exist in more than one place at once. For us, that is something mind-boggling and for me it definitely is, but from my personal experiences with Samael Aun Weor and other masters, I have been able to evidence and see that they develop their consciousness to such a degree that it's really incomprehensible.
God is everywhere. The Absolute has its center everywhere and it's circumference nowhere. So for those masters, it is very easy. They can manifest in many places at once, be seen talking with other people in two different distinct countries at the same time at the same hour. But, you know, that's the faculty of a resurrected master. Those are beings who have really transcended the laws of relativity. They have entered the Absolute to their degree and are able to come back and express to us their knowledge. Very beautiful. Very profound. Something that's really quite amazing.
Question: Is it okay to recline on the back of a chair while meditating? I heard it could be bad for your spine. Also, what about involuntary movements, yawning, jerks, while meditating. Do those go away with more experience? One of the quotes was, "and it helps the wayfarer to forget people so he becomes free from hypocrisy." I want to watch the debate after this lecture. Are there stages to letting go of the attachments or must they be dropped once and for all?
Instructor: So the first question, yes, it's fine. You can lay your back upon the end of the chair where you are meditating. Some people find it more comfortable to sit up with your back straight, not leaning into the chair, so to speak. You have to gauge your own body and your own unique physiology, but also your chair itself. Make sure it's comfortable for you. So you can lean back if you need to. I've had great meditations leaning back in a recliner, in a sofa and a chair. I was able to maintain my attention pretty well. So make the adjustments if you need to and find an arrangement that's going to be conducive for you.
As for involuntary movements as yawning and jerks, they do eventually go away. The more you let go of the body and relax and are really concentrated, your body will start to be supple and to obey your consciousness. There is a term in Buddhism called pliancy in relation to really developed stages of concentration and serenity. It means that your body is perfectly still. It is serene and calm and doesn't present any obstacle to your meditation. So in the beginning, yes, it's often that you may yawn or your body may jerk because your energies are settling. Your vital body is settling. So, be patient.
As for the quote "and it helps the wayfarer to forget people so he becomes free from hypocrisy," in relation to the debate. Of course, obviously we watch what we want, but whatever you see or perceive in life, the important thing is to not be attached to what we see, to not be filled with fear or antagonism or anger or resentment or doubt. Simply look, observe. I believe also to the last point, the last question, whether one should watch the debate, obviously, I think if we want to be entertained, yes, we can watch what's going to happen. But obviously, in one sense it's important to know what's going on in the world, but at the same time, we shouldn't necessarily condition ourselves too much by all the craziness that's going on. If you find that you're overwhelmed with too much attachment to the news, it can be good to drop it for a while. Obviously, that's a balance you have to strike in yourself.
I thank you all for coming.
2020 is a very strange year for humanity, which very few could predict the consequences and results that are affecting everyone. Our politicians, our governments, our great sages of philosophy, of law, of spirituality, while we respect these individuals, at the same time, not even they could predict the intensity and the trauma that we find afflicting humanity. But the reality is that while on a global scale, we are experiencing great sufferings, the truth is that it should not surprise us, as ironic as that might seem, because humanity ignores a very fundamental law of nature, which we are finding is being fulfilled with exactitude today.
It is the law of cause and effect. Every action has a consequence. What I do as an individual affects humanity and vice versa. In the east we call this law karma, which is not some type of blind law where “you are going to get what you deserve.” It is an infallible, immutable law that every action we produce has some type of impact. There are consequences to behaviors that are either upright and pure, or conditioned and filled with suffering.
Humanity today ignores the causes of its current position, and, as we began the meditation, it sometimes takes a great trauma, conflict, wars, violence, pandemics, political disputes, police brutality, racial violence, in order for people to really begin to want to ask this question about why we suffer, about why we are in pain. The reality is that there have been beings like Jesus, Buddha, Moses, Krishna, prophets, messengers of the divine, who knew from their own experience the trajectory of humanity, and how certain actions produce consequences of great significance.
While this is a law that has governed the rise and fall of societies, in truth this should raise a very profound question for ourselves: how do we produce suffering? Why do we suffer? What are our actions that produce this mess that we see today?
Rather than blame the government, the negligence of bureaucracy, of politicians, of political parties, it is better to be practical. How do we in a moment-to-moment basis, in our day-to-day existence, produce suffering, not only for ourselves but for others?
Humanity is blind. People ignore this law, that when we act with desire, with conditioned states of being, we become afflicted. Whether one believes in any particular religion or faith does not really matter, unless we look at the facts of why there is so much conflict today.
So, sadly, despite the efforts of many messengers, as we mentioned, to teach people how to change, how to alter the trajectory of humanity, their essential message, which is universal, has been adulterated, has been sterilized. They all taught that there is a way out of suffering, a path that in accordance to the religion or the tradition, is distinct to the form of a culture. But, essentially, the message is the same.
While it is discouraging to look at the news, the reality is that there is great cause to be inspired, because there is a method and a way to overcome all of this, whether on a collective scale or on an individual scale, which is more important.
We have been very blessed. There are methods and instructions and teachings that can really change us, and it does not require any belief. Through experimentation, through practice, through verification from experience, we can lessen our suffering and have a clarity and an insight by which to help others. This science is meditation.
To be specific, meditation is not a technique. It is not spacing out or entering into a state of relaxation. All these [calming the body, heart, and mind] are preliminary. Meditation is a state of being, a state of consciousness that is not conditioned at all, that knows how to see and perceive life, reality, in a state of clarity, precision, understanding, with wisdom, with intelligence, with love. This is the essential quality you find in all the great masters of humanity, from any religion, who embody this ideal. They all taught in their synthesis how to access the essential nature of our consciousness, because right now, the reason we are afflicted is because we have many desires, many beliefs, that are split.
It is a fracturing. We are fragmented, and if you don’t believe me, we can simply perform a practice in which we examine a moment in our day. Perhaps we have a conflict or a trial, a chaotic moment, in which we feel that our mind, our heart and our body are torn in many directions. The reality is we do not have a singular purpose of will, of direction, because perhaps somebody criticizes us at work, or we simply watch television to see what is going on in the political world, and we have many reactions that emerge in a single instant. We may be filled with anger, the thoughts of resentment towards a certain person. We may feel fear and pulled towards fight or flight, possibly even despair. This is a moment in which we can see multiple reactions, multiple states of conflicted wills.
All meditative traditions teach if you want to enter a profound state of serenity and understanding, your will has to be one, perfected, sharp, without any type of obscuration or filter. We call that conditioned sense of self, or desire or will, ego. That is the Latin term for “I, me, myself.” Meditation teaches us how to look at what we are, who we are, without judgment, without labeling, without prejudice, but simply, look at the self, at these different wills, these impulses.
The Universality of Meditation
Meditation has been known by many names. भावना Bhavana in Sanskrit means “mental development” or “becoming.” भव Bhava, in Buddhism, we hear भावचक्र Bhavachakra, the wheel of being, which is a map of different states of consciousness within Tibetan Buddhism especially, which has its symbolic representation in the West in the Jewish tradition of Kabbalah, which we will talk about today.
We have the term ध्यान Dhyan or Dhyana which means “to see, to perceive.” This is where we get words like 禅 Chan Buddhism in Chinese or 禅 Zen in Japan.
Contemplation in the early tradition of the church fathers was known by the Latin term meditatri, meditation, contemplation.
Amongst the Sufis of the mystical tradition of Islam, they refer to it as fikrat: serene reflection, serene perception, which is the synthesis of meditation.
Meditation is Direct Experience
A lot of people think that meditation is simply being calm. It is a necessary step and a beautiful thing when we have a state of equanimity and stillness that is so deep that we rest from thought, from emotion, and from impulse, from the body. That is the groundwork by which you can really enter the highest teachings of meditation, which is a state of perception, to receive information about a given phenomenon, whether it be from a scripture, a book, about reality, about ourselves.
That state of reflection, of gaining new knowledge, that aha moment, of understanding, has been known by the term witnessing amongst the Sufis. In Islam they have a very beautiful teaching in their doctrine that is very misunderstood. They pronounce what is called the Shahada (الشهادة). In order to become Muslim, you say:
لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا ٱللَّٰهُ مُحَمَّدٌ رَسُولُ ٱللَّٰهِ
In reality, the Arabic term, شهادة Shahada means to witness: مشاهدة mushahada. It means to see divinity, which is not outside, but inside. To bear witness of something, like in a court of law, you have seen it, you have verified it, you have experienced it, and therefor you have no doubt. There is no belief. There is no ambiguity. There is no conflict of interest. We simply know, and therefore if we bear witness that there really is God, and Krishna is His prophet, Buddha is His prophet, Moses, and many masters like Jesus, were His prophets, it is because we have seen it for ourselves, within.
So to really understand meditation, of course, we first have to relax, that is the first step. But it is much deeper than that. We will talk about these stages themselves.
But it can be very difficult now, in these times, especially if you live in Chicago, which is where I am from, where literally you see all sorts of violence being perpetuated throughout the country. We see the state of different cities and countries that are in uprising. They are afflicted with great injustices, whether material and even psychological. It is easy to say we really live in unprecedented times, but the reality is that “there is nothing new under the sun,” to quote Solomon from the Bible. Everything repeats. Life is cyclical. Habits are ingrained. The reality is that while these crises that is afflicting this planet are intense and becoming more severe, as I said, it should not surprise us that this is happening.
If we examine our mind, and if we are very sincere, we realize, with great discomfort, that we have many elements, psychologically speaking, that are destructive. We may not believe that, but the question is: have we looked inside of ourselves to examine our own anger, our own fear, our own pride, our own avarice?—qualities that we like to externalize and blame others of possessing in abundance, but in reality, if we are sincere, we see that we have that inside. That can be very disconcerting, very uncomfortable, but that is the reality.
Humanity, you can see according to history, operates in cycles. There have been many plagues that have afflicted humanity, whether in Europe, whether influenza. There have been many times in history in which diseases have sprouted and killed many people. But we have the arrogance today to believe that somehow, we are special, that this has never happened before. While this is a terrible reality and does not, in any way diminish or devalue the suffering of people, it is a reflection of a cosmic law. In Buddhism we call it संसार Samsara: cycling, returning, repeating. While this happens on a global scale, in our daily life, which is a snapshot, a microcosm, a picture of humanity itself, we find that we have habits and behaviors and ways of being that we repeat. This is something that we should examine, that we should question.
Self-Governance is Real Freedom
Governments have always tried to fix these problems, but they have always failed. The reality is no government, no institution, can change the individual. To quote Krishnamurti, we have to govern ourselves. If we as an individual being were to follow laws of ethics, of compassion, of kindness, of tolerance, of patience, then society would reflect that. But we find that our political institutions and governments smother the problem. They do not know or teach the way for the individual to change, for there to be real equity in humanity.
I would like to read for you an excerpt from a book by Samael Aun Weor, who is the founder of the modern Gnostic tradition. The Greek term γνῶσις gnosis means “knowledge,” and as we are explaining meditation, it is knowledge from experience, without deviation into belief or theory. He wrote in a book called The Great Rebellion about the nature of genuine freedom, what this means for our meditation practice. I will read for you at length:
The meaning of freedom is something that has not yet been understood by humanity.
Freedom, a lovely word, a beautiful term: so many crimes have been committed in its name! (Think of the French Revolution, at least one million people were killed in that event alone.)
So this sense of self we mentioned, ego, is a condition, a shell, that traps our real potential. There is more to us than our language, our names, our culture, our customs, our habits. The essential nature of our being is consciousness, which is altruism, love, happiness, philanthropy, patience, etc., which is the opposite of the self.
Understanding the myself, "my persona, what I am," is imperative if we sincerely wish to attain freedom.
It is very easy to see that we are a slave to what other people think. If they say something negative about our appearance, our habits, our behaviors, we react with anger, with resentment, with pride. It means that any person can push our button and make us react exactly as they want. However, if you comprehend in yourself your own anger and eliminate it, you have serenity. This is why beings like Jesus, when he was being tortured, horribly crucified, was able to say with love, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34)
While the "I" exists, the consciousness remains imprisoned. Escaping from that prison is only possible through Buddhist Annihilation (it’s a term that means the dissolution or) dissolving the self, reducing it to ashes, to cosmic dust. —Samael Aun Weor, The Great Rebellion
This is symbolized in many traditions, such as Jesus being on the cross in his Passion, to die to what is impure so that he can be resurrected as a soul, as a perfected being. So, while he literally existed in the past, it also represents something allegorical for us in this individual work of meditation.
The liberated consciousness, devoid of the "I," absolutely absent of ego, without desires, without passions, without cravings and fears, directly experiences true freedom.
And in synthesis we can state:
In life, the only thing of importance is a radical, total and definitive change. The rest, frankly, is of no importance at all. —Samael Aun Weor, The Great Rebellion, “Meditation”
Genuine Spirituality is Based on Facts
So meditation teaches us how to gather that knowledge so that we can really go deep into our psychology and to change in a real way, a permanent way, a lasting way. In today’s era we live, we can say, in a period of information. We can find knowledge about any type of study on the internet alone. But it is also true that we live in an era of misinformation. While we have access to knowledge we have never been privy to before, we still continue to be confused.
It is ironic, right? We have more knowledge and more information than we have ever possessed, and yet we are more conflicted, more divisive, and in more suffering than we have ever been.
The reality is we need to develop a type of consciousness that has to do with wisdom and not knowledge. Intellectual knowledge is necessary to a point. What matters is the quality of our heart, our ways of being, and so in our studies of meditation, we develop our knowledge of ourselves. We call it gnosis, experiential wisdom about the causes of suffering. Of course, it has nothing to do with theory, with beliefs, with concepts, because we can think that we are a certain way, but if you observe in a very difficult moment of life, the facts emerge. Right? I am sure we have all had an experience where somebody said something really negative to us, or we had a very traumatic moment in which we acted in a way that we did not like. We later reflected and said, “How did I think, feel and behave that way?” Those are the facts. Those are the concrete experiences that show us what we can work on, so we can really develop altruism and compassion and serenity: all these virtues that are really beautiful and our true nature. This is why no amount of theory or belief can change anyone.
Gnosis is lived upon facts, withers away in abstractions, and is difficult to find even in the noblest of thoughts. —Samael Aun Weor, The Revolution of the Dialectic
I know that a lot of people, especially approaching many of the world’s events of today, have a lot of conspiracies about what is going on, but rather than focus on any type of external phenomena, it is better if we ask the question, “How does our mind conspire against us?” So, I love this image of a hand holding up a puppet or puppets, which we can associate with either political party or whatever anyone believes, but the reality is that if we have ego, and our government and politicians have ego, then obviously there is going to be fights and conflict, and no type of harmony negotiated at all. Our mind needs to be free of any concepts about life, but rather to just examine with our soul.
Samael Aun Weor states the following in Igneous Rose:
There is the need to liberate the mind from every type of school, religion, sect, political party, concept of mother country, flag, prejudice, desire, and fear. There is the need to liberate the mind from the process of rationalization. There is the need to change the process of rationalization for comprehension. —Samael Aun Weor, Igneous Rose
Comprehension is very different from thinking. You do not necessarily have to label anything with the intellect. You simply know it, like you put your hand on a hot stove; it gets burned. That is a form of gnosis, of knowledge, that if you do that again you get hurt, and then you later think “That was very painful.” So that is the mind. The mind is slower than our other capacities as a consciousness. So, there is a very stark difference there.
Freedom has to do with transforming our internal state in the moment, where we are at here and now. This is why all meditative traditions teach mindfulness, awareness, watchfulness: to gather data, to look at the facts of our own behaviors and not to conceptualize anything, but to simply look. It does not require thinking there, and that is how we cut away from the abstractions, from the philosophy, from the theology, from the theories, and we get to what is practical.
Ashtanga Yoga: The Eight Steps of Meditation
So we will talk about, in synthesis, what meditation is really about, what it involves. This is from the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, who was a great master of meditation. In synthesis we have eight profound steps. It is better said if we call them principles. It does not mean that, like a check list, you are going to go through each one: “First I need you to do this, followed by this step, and then next” in a mechanical way. These are very living things, principles, qualities of being, which if you follow in sequence and are really diligent about establishing them in your life, you will find that you will have a great clarity by which to understand any problem that you are suffering and the ways to change it.
The beginning is yama. These are Sanskrit terms. Yama means “restraint.” It means to restrain the mind. So you are at work or you are with a friend, and someone says something very negative, maybe even political (obviously there is a lot of debate going on today), you feel anger come up, thoughts of “You should not think that! You should not say that” or whatever reactions we feel in that instant, and if we restrain that impulse—not repressing it, not hiding it, not judging it, but simply with your attention direct it in yourself—you see it for what it is, and that if you really act this way, to speak these words of anger, is obviously going to make the other person angry.
In the moment you restrain yourself, you do not act on that behavior, because it is going to create conflict, perhaps even split friendships, cause divorces, and many other problems.
Restraint is the beginning. First: retraining your egotistical reactions to life with your consciousness, and that is a state of comprehension in which you see, “If I act as a soul on this lower animal desire, it is going to create problems.”
But that is not enough. We have to follow what is known as niyamas, precepts. In every meditative tradition and any religion, they teach you: be kind, be patient, be compassionate. Forgive your neighbor. Put other people’s needs first before your own. Show philanthropy. Accept when you are wrong with humility. These are all precepts and virtuous qualities that you find in every scripture, without exception.
It is not enough to restrain bad behaviors. It is necessary to enact good behaviors. This is something only you can judge in yourself, moment by moment. You can memorize the Bhagavad Gita, the Qur’an, the New Testament, the Old Testament, whatever scriptures inspire you, but knowing that knowledge of virtue does not mean you are enacting it. So the knowledge is different, but the application of it is wisdom.
I know many people that approach meditation, and they become very morbid because they see a lot of negativity within themselves, and they suffer and they want to get out of it, but they are not reflecting on the virtuous qualities of their consciousness, of their Being, of their divinity. So it is important not to reflect just on the bad, but to contemplate your virtues, those profound ethics of the soul.
When you have really worked hard at developing restraint and following these precepts in your actions, your asana becomes perfected. It is easy to see if you act on anger and you drain your mind and your heart, deplete your body of energy from getting into an argument, it is very difficult to sit. You cannot sit still. You cannot relax. Your body is tense, filled with pain, discomfort. This is why yama and niyama are essential. If you want your body to be able to obey you and relax at will, you have to learn to act ethically.
So it is important when you are practicing meditation that you pick an asana that works for you. It does not have to be full lotus, half lotus. If you are that flexible, great. Personally, I am obviously more of a western style person. I sit in a chair. You can even lie down on your back if you have the stability of attention not to fall asleep, because that is the important thing. Your body can relax but your consciousness is awake, is vigilant, attentive.
Pranayama: Energy Work
Once you have found your posture, you can work with energy. In our tradition, we have many exercises to work with energy. Energy is essential to life. We find many forms within our body. If you have studied Hinduism or yoga, they teach you all about the chakras, which are vortices or wheels of vital force that circulate in a subtle form in our body. In our glands, there is energy that flows, and there are certain practices you can use, whether they be through prayer or sacred sounds called mantras. You vocalize or you pray. You can work with energy in your body, circulate it, get it flowing, so that those channels of force, like the chakras, open. Then you can have greater stability of mind, since it helps you to concentrate, helps you to focus.
Everything we do in life, there is energy involved. “Wherever we direct attention, we expend creative energy,” says Samael Aun Weor, the founder of our tradition. So if you have no energy there, if you waste it on anger and pride, and lust especially, desire, you have no energy by which to work. Your consciousness is depleted. You cannot drive your car. You mind will be dull, will be out of fuel. This is why in every level and moment of our life we seek to conserve energy, conserve emotional energy, conserve mental energy, conserve vital energy, in all forms.
In this way when you have energy, your mind will start to calm, and this is where the crux of meditation begins to really unfold. We call it pratyahara. It means “suspension of the senses,” “to withdraw.” So you can be seated. You can be in a meditation posture. You can work with energy itself, and in those moments you start to find that, with profundity of application and will, you start to withdraw your mind, your senses, from the external world.
Everything goes inside. It is like the flow or ebb of a river that is going towards one source and then the rest dries up. You just focus on your interior. You forget the world. Many people do not get to this point. They do not get past the body. There is an itch, a discomfort. You want to move. You are in pain, and the reality is that you have to forget the body is even there if you really want to go profoundly into meditation. Forget the body. First take care of it. Treat it well. Relax, and when you are really working with your energies, you do not pay attention to anything outside. You go within. There is a stillness there, which, when it is really profound, is the fulcrum by which meditation is experienced, the state of understanding.
When there is silence of mind, when you withdraw from the senses, you can really concentrate on something. These are the preliminaries of meditation that get really interesting. So when your senses are calm and you are relaxed, you can direct your attention at one thing.
Even at this stage there seems to be a lot of difficulty for people, because our mind is all over the place. We are thinking of many things. We are distracted. We have associative thoughts: good, bad; yes, no. We think of a friend that we talked to earlier in the day and what they said, and that brings on a whole discussion in our mind, and then our mind is just replaying the day, but it is foggy. It is dull. There is no clarity or crispness there.
Real concentration knows how to look at one object, focus, and not get distracted. In many traditions, they teach you how to take a stone or a candle, to observe a flame or to do a mantra, a sacred sound, and just focus on that one thing at exclusion of everything. If you are sincere, in the beginning you find you cannot focus on that object. Your mind starts doing other things, so you got to gently refocus yourself. Bring it back to that one object of concentration.
I suggest that when you begin a meditation, whatever your focus is, stick to it. If it is just to concentrate on the candle flame, just do that one thing. Then the trick is when you get distracted, bring yourself back. It is not forceful. It is not violent. You are not gagging the mind. You are gently redirecting your attention, to the focus. The Buddha Shakyamuni stated that if you forget yourself a thousand times and you remember a thousand times to return to the practice, it means that you have practiced really well. So when you are able to concentrate on one thing, then you can really enter meditation itself.
So all this is just preliminary. Meditation is when you are able to extract information about that object. For example, maybe you are concentrating on a scripture you read, or a book. You want to understand a certain verse or line. You read it. You reflect on it. You enter the stages of meditation. You relax, withdraw, and concentrate on that meaning. In meditation you can have experiences, in which the senses are shut down, but internally, as a consciousness, you experience, such as in dreams, different forms of knowledge that are inaccessible to the senses. Some people call it lucid dreaming, out of body experiences, dream yoga, astral projection. It is when your body goes to sleep, but you as a consciousness are fully lucid, and so you abandon your physicality and you enter the internal worlds, your inner psyche.
Then you can start to get knowledge about things that certain prophets wrote about, that they hinted at, but not many of them really spoke openly about the meaning. That is how you really get knowledge. That is real wisdom. In that state, you can talk directly with divinity just as I am talking to you—nothing vague there, nothing amorphous, nothing ambiguous. It is a clean, clear, pristine state of being in which you can gain information.
Even beyond meditation there is one more step. This is the synthesis of everything. When your consciousness is fully lucid and focused, as receiving information, you can escape from the limitations of your mind and any type of conditioning that has kept you in suffering and pain, etc. You escape. You get out of it. That consciousness gets extracted from the ego.
I’m sure you are familiar with the story of Aladdin and his lamp. That lamp is your ego and the Genie, the Djinn, an Arabic term for spirit or an enlightened being, you could say, is your own wisdom, your consciousness. You break the lamp. You destroy the ego permanently, then the Genie is free. You can perform miracles. This is where you get figures like Moses and many prophets performing supernormal things, because they liberated their consciousness from conditioning. They are able to control nature even. Very powerful and beautiful.
The Tree of Life: A Map of Being
But there is more than just examining those eight stages. There are a lot of principles involved. When you are having those experiences with divinity, you can study what is called the Tree of Life.
On the right you see a map of ten spheres. From the top you have the most rarefied states of being, which are very divine. Notice in this glyph you have three trinities. Kabbalah in Jewish mysticism, this map, this Tree of Life, is really an expression of us and our totality, in the multidimensionality of our being. It is a road map for who we are and where we are at and where we need to go. So any experience in meditation can be mapped by any one of these spheres.
On the top trinity we have qualities of being and consciousness that are extremely divine, beyond our comprehension at this level. It has to do with what religions call Father, Son, Holy Spirit in Christianity. In Hebrew we call it כֶּתֶר Kether, חָכְמָה Chokmah, בִּינָה Binah, which means “Crown,” “Wisdom” and “Intelligence.” This is the supremacy, the wisdom and intelligence of divinity, which is inside our true nature, liberated, and is with us here and now. We just do not perceive it because we have so much other conditioning that we see represented by these lower spheres.
Beneath that we have חֶסֶד Chesed, גְּבוּרָה Geburah, תִּפְאֶרֶת Tiphereth, or you could say “Mercy,” “Justice,” and “Beauty.” We could say is our inner divine spark, our inner Buddha we could say, our divine soul and our human soul, our human will. It is the beautiful action of a perfected being, and we are really a part of that. Part of us, known as the consciousness, emanates from this sphere, תִּפְאֶרֶת Tiphereth, and descends down into the lower conditioned states of being: נצח Netzach (Victory), הוד Hod (Splendor), יְסוֹד Yesod (Foundation) and מלכות Malkuth (Kingdom).
מלכות Malkuth is the physical world that we live in. יְסוֹד Yesod is our vital energy, sometimes known as the etheric world, the vital world. It is where we have all the forces that animate our body. If you study the Kirlian camera, amongst Russian scientists, they even take pictures of people, stones’ and animals’ aura. So the vital force is יְסוֹד Yesod, which is the aura, the living being. We have הוד Hod which relates to our emotions, נצח Netzach relating to our mind. This is a beautiful map of meditation because it teaches us that if our will power, our consciousness, is conditioned by thought, by feeling and by desire, instincts, it means that we are attached, not only to our physical body, but even to lower realms of being.
The map that is below is called the tree of death. It is the shadow of the Tree of life. It is known as the hell realms. So you can call this map a reference point of external realities and even our internal states. There is a relationship there, different dimensions of expression and being. Above we have superior levels. Below we have inferior ones.
In our moment to moment awareness, from our birth to our death, we have an opportunity in this instant in which to ascend. This is why we do practices of concentration, prayer, meditation. All these things help us to purify this will, that is at the center of the Tree of Life, so that we can obey and follow our own divinity within. This sphere תִּפְאֶרֶת Tiphereth, in Hebrew meaning beauty, is the essence. It is the beauty of our soul that knows how to act uprightly. But unfortunately for us, we are conditioned by negative thoughts, negative feelings, and negative impulses, desires.
So we have many books and courses that explain this glyph in great detail and I invite you to study them. But in synthesis, this is just the map of who we are and where we need to go and what we need to do.
Types of Meditation
There are also two very profound principles we have touched upon. In some schools they talk about stabilizing and analytical meditation and often refer to both of them as complimentary.
When you are working to concentrate your will on one thing, you are learning to stabilize the mind. You are developing serenity. You are developing focus and equanimity. It is when you can look at something clearly without wavering at all. We call that faculty, in the Gnostic tradition, concentration. In Buddhism they call it shamatha. Amongst the Sufis they call it silence, in which your mind does not talk.
I am sure when we practice meditation today you probably experienced a chain of thought and thinking, even at a very subtle level. When you learn to go deep, you can enter states in which there is no thought involved and you are able to focus on one thing without distraction. That can stabilize our attention and there are many practices to do that.
But there is another skill we need to develop to really enter meditation. We call it imagination. Imagination is the ability to receive non-physical imagery. So when I related to you certain examples, talking about having inner experiences, like you have dreams, those are forms of images that exist in your mind, in your interior. They are real. They exist. The problem is that we tend to go through that inner world without any awareness of it and not discriminating what is really real or conditioned or unconditioned by our own egotism.
It is easy to see that we have dreams of hatred and violence. We are projecting our own mind into that world. But if you learn to pay attention and clarify your perception, you can perceive those worlds, that Tree of Life, as it is, in its real, fundamental expression. When you are able to imagine, amongst concentration, the ability to visualize certain images, you develop the full dynamism and potential of the consciousness.
So imagination in us tends to be very conditioned. If I say, “imagine an apple” (snaps fingers) you can see it. It is not physical, but it is internal. That same capacity, when it is developed intentionally, whether you take a candle and visualize a flame or something really difficult and ornate, like a Buddhist mandala or painting, something very intricate, that develops the capacity of the consciousness to perceive with great depth, with great width and clarity.
In Buddhism, they call that faculty, Vipassana. Amongst the Sufis it is insight. When you combine those two faculties, concentration and imagination, you can really enter meditation.
So we need both. We need the ability to stabilize the consciousness so that it is calm, but then we also need the ability to see, and that is insight. When you combine the two, you gain knowledge. That is how you really enter the higher stages of real religion, of mystical experience. I know these are very synthetic principles. They are very deep and you could basically spend a lot of time studying what these practically entail. We have a lot of resources that you can research on your own. We have courses. We have books that talk about all of these principles in depth. I wanted to just survey them and provide an outline, so that you have a picture of where to start.
So whether you are interested in learning basic concentration or equanimity, you can study courses like Meditation Essentials and Meditation without Exertion on Glorian.org. We also have some courses on chicagognosis.org, one of them based on Gnostic principles, Gnostic Meditation, and even Sufism; we are giving a course about meditation taught within the Sufi teachings, the mystical teachings of Islam [See Sufi Principles of Meditation]. These outline for you how to develop concentration, serenity and insight.
We also have some books you can study as well to learn the basics of self-reflection: Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology and The Great Rebellion by Samael Aun Weor are perfect for this. You can learn the basics of how to examine, observe yourself, so that you can begin to gain knowledge and enter the path that is culminating in meditation. You can also study The Elimination of Satan’s Tail and The Revolution of the Dialectic, as well. These are very profound books, very practical.
If you have any questions, I invite you to ask them.
Questions and Answers
Question: Being in a time of an election year and all these things going on and we really need to separate ourselves from all these different concepts, is the goal to be passive with all this stuff and not be involved, and sit back and observe what is going on in the world and not get identified with it?
Instructor: Sure. I would state the important thing is not to identify psychologically. Whatever a person believes politically, that is a personal choice. But the important thing is to approach this situation with clarity. It does not mean we necessarily have to belong to any party, either one or the other, or take a middle stance. You know personally, I do not really get involved in politics, because you see the type of behavior that is being propagated, and the confusion and the anger and the resentment that people feel. I think the important thing to remember is that regardless of anyone’s political beliefs, in these studies we like to be more effective.
Regardless of anyone we vote for or who you favor or whatever we believe in, the important thing is that we have a good heart. We change our own psychological states, because the world is going to be what it is going to be. I know we like to think we have a lot of agency in our political system, but I think a lot of people are realistic in saying that these things are going to happen regardless, because you see the state of humanity. People on an individual scale are not changing, and so, what result can we expect? And that is the fundamental irony of people, being shocked by what is happening, because this is just the consequence of wrong action on a global scale from everybody.
I invite us to really reflect upon our own psychological states, because that is something we can change. That is something we can alter and remedy. But the direction of this country and humanity, in a sense, we have to be humble, to accept there are certain things that we cannot change, but there are certain things that we can do. That is better evaluated on an individual basis.
Question: From what I have learned through time from this Gnostic tradition, I have noticed that sexual alchemy is not the central practice—meditation is. Alchemy is more like the foundation of a practice. So the question is: Buddhist and Hindu traditions are the only religions that teach how to meditate. Why have the religions in the West not spread this light? Why did Jesus teach only how to believe in him and why did Muhammad teach only how to believe in Allah? And Moses mainly taught how to follow laws and nothing about meditation. Why is that?
Instructor: That is a good question. The reality is that they all taught it. If you look at the different traditions that developed in their original sources, their scriptures, the reality is they all taught the same thing. You study the Sufi teachings of Al-Qushayri, Al-Hujwiri, Rumi, many other Muslim mystics, they all, even Ibn ‘Arabi especially, they all teach meditation, but maybe not as explicitly as we find today.
The path of Jesus is the path of meditation, especially. He taught by fasting forty days and forty nights in the wilderness, how to overcome your own devil, the mind.
We find meditation in all teachings. The problem is that due to the cultural palate of certain people, they adulterated, they sterilized, they castrated the teaching. So people adulterate the wisdom of the prophets with time and therefore the religions of today do not resemble anything they used to. Now there are certain remnants we can pick and extract and gain knowledge from, and this is important. But it is important to remember that these religions and teachings have died. The form is what is left. The essence and the spirit have long left these traditions. You find this cyclically repeated in this humanity or humanities and different cultures.
Every religion has a birth, life and death. Comes to mind even a saying by a certain Sufi mystic in Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism, this is around 1000 AD. He said, “In this time Sufism is dead.” So back then even that tradition had long been eclipsed, because these traditions have life and are sustained based on the qualities of the practitioners. Divinity works in different places and times and periods, and reinitiates that effort among different faiths throughout the course of history, because time, with exposure to humanity, obviously people’s interpretations and conditions of mind pollute the original doctrine. This is why Jesus said, “Beware the leaven of the scribes and Pharisees” (Matthew 16:6) who take the original bread of knowledge and inflate it so that it is more palatable and “tasty” to the public. The reality is nobody likes the original teachings of the mystics and the meditators and the prophets, because it goes contrary to what people believe. But if you really examine, in synthesis, what these different traditions teach, they all teach meditation, but in different ways.
You find meditation in Kabbalah, in the Jewish mystical traditions. You find it in Sufism. You find it in the Bible. But of course with time, people take out what they do not like. So I do not know, maybe we can say in the West we like to be hyperactive and not really sit still in the moment. In the East, a lot more people, as part of the culture, practice meditation. So we study all traditions in synthesis.
Question: When meditating on an ego, what is the best way to visualize it during meditation in order to comprehend it?
Instructor: So for those of you who are not familiar with that type of meditation, we call it psychoanalysis, where you are sitting and performing these preliminary steps: relaxing, working with energy, withdrawing your senses, concentrating upon your consciousness and even your inner divinity, your Being. You can also imagine. We practice what is called retrospection meditation.
You visualize in a day, with your vision itself, what happened. Perhaps you had a moment at work in which you faced a conflict. In that work, you saw certain reactions emerge that work together. Maybe it was anger, resentment, pride and fear. Four different egos you could say, different senses of self, different wills, manifested in you as you were observing your mind, your heart and your body. In the day you were gathering data about those qualities as they emerged. But when you are sitting to meditate and go deeper, to gain more understanding, you can just simply look at those states. Visualize what happened, and the trick is when you start to visualize that scene, your ego, your defects, will start to emerge. They will want to feed on that memory. They will want to repeat those behaviors and thoughts and desires, etc. You have to separate enough from yourself that you can look at that internal mechanism and to see it for what it is.
When you are concentrating and visualizing, you look and you examine the taste of that conditioned self. You have to look at the flavor it brings into your mind, but have enough separation that you do not identify. If you identify with resentment, pride, fear, anger, you get sucked into memories and then you are not even meditating any more. You are just lost in a chaos. You are just churning with those sentiments.
So the best visualization, obviously, occurs in levels. You have to follow your heart in terms of what you need to study. Your conscience will tell you what you need to work on. If you feel that anger was a big problem in your moment to moment experience, focus on that and look at it. You can pray to your inner divinity to help you understand. We call that divinity the Divine Mother, the feminine aspect of our inner Being, symbolized by Mary and many other feminine figures in world mythologies. She is a part of us that helps us work on those faults. You can pray to Her and ask Her show you about this particular ego you need to understand. If you really go deep and you are concentrating very profoundly, you can have an experience in the astral world or the internal world of dreams. Your Divine Mother will show you what this ego is, how it works, what it looks like, what are its thoughts, and you will intuit the meaning if you are very vigilant. You will know and understand where it came from, why it behaves, what it does, how it feeds, how it sustains itself, how it relates to other aggregates and different egos.
The best visualization is going to be based on your conscience. Follow your heart. If you feel you need to focus on a specific ego, one by one, do that. And focus and ask your divinity to help you understand. The next step is just do not identify with it. Do not feed it. Do not give it your energy, because when you start to conserve your energy and not spend it on negative behaviors, it is like starving a lion. So obviously, anger and fear and all these different defects are going to come up in your life wanting to feed, because you are starving them. They are starting to get weak. So look at the ego and have a receptive mind. Wait for the answer, and when you are really in a state of silence and insight, the experience will unfold on its own.
This is the magic and beauty of meditation. It is never the same moment by moment. There are always different experiences that reflect a huge range, an infinite range, of experiences, but that is the result. When you gain insight, you may ask for elimination, to remove that ego, when you really understood what it is, how it works, how it traps you, how it repeats. Pray to your Divine Mother and visualize that defect to be killed, and then you free the soul that is trapped in it gradually, little by little, as your comprehension goes deeper. I hope that answers your question.
Question: So you were explaining earlier about freedom and the way you were explaining it also reminds me of what is going on in life right now, for example looting and stealing. So where I am coming from is, the people who are committing these atrocities, right, they are acting for freedom, but in reality it is fear. So how can we even identify? Like, you said you see these people that are doing these things, they are the extension of who we are already, so how come within us, how can we identify the sense of freedom with the sense of fear and discern that and act accordingly?
Instructor: Sure. Gnosis is lived upon facts, withers away from distractions, from theories and beliefs, and it is difficult to find in even the noblest of thoughts. The way that you are going to figure out what is from the soul and what is from the ego, what is fear and desire, what is true from what is false, is by looking. It means that we approach our mind and our heart without trying to label what we see. You will learn to discriminate that quality based on experience.
It is not easy to learn how to sift through the mud so that you can find the gold of our soul. It is a qualitative state. Through observation and repeated verification of that state, you find that there are qualities that are pure and conditioned, and sometimes mixed. That is why we meditate so that we can discriminate, because it is not easy in the moment. When you are having a scene in life, or like seeing the looting and violence going on, like in Chicago, where people are screaming for freedom and are destroying so many people’s properties and homes and lives, the abstraction of freedom is not enough.
Real freedom is when you do not act on anger. You have to look at your anger and what it wants and what it thinks, and have the strength to not repress it, to hide from it, or justify it. But when you look at it with clarity, meaning, you are seeing it for what it is, you notice how your own anger wants to feed, how to act. You only learn that through trial and error, by repeatedly training yourself. It takes time and training, and I always say that this superior knowledge is beyond time. You are not looking to the past or future, but it takes experience to verify what is right and what is wrong. You have to follow your conscience, your heart.
I know, for example, when I trained in martial arts for many years, you do not really learn to do the techniques well until after a very long time of just repeated trial and error and even maybe getting hurt.
That is our struggle. We suffer a lot as we are trying to change. But the purpose is not to get discouraged. You are going to feel pain and suffering as a soul by making mistakes. But by repeated effort and struggle against yourself, that is going to take some repeated experience. It is a war, you can say. This is why in Islam they talk about Jihad, holy war, but not against other people, against people who do not follow your faith. It has to do with the struggle against your desires. The only way that you are going to really conquer is if you do not give up. If you just give into anger, then it is very painful. But it is a struggle to learn how to acculturate our mind and heart to taste that quality of being that we know is from God and that is not unfiltered by anything.
If you have doubts about certain experiences or actions you did, and you feel in your heart that there is something you need to investigate, then that is what you need to meditate on. Because that moral pain, the pangs of conscience, the intuition of the heart is what is going to really direct you. Follow that.
Question: So a lot of us are surrounded by people who are acting with fear. So in a practical manner, what is the best way not to scold them, more with comprehension, but how can we aide? Because we are surrounded by them. It could be a family member. It can be a friend. It can be a co-worker. So how can we assist them?
Instructor: Love. It has been demonstrated throughout historical movements, whether Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi, ahimsa: non-violence, is the key. We show violence towards people even with our thoughts. We think that violence only occurs physically, but if you have an argument with someone, you disagree, if you want to coerce someone to think like you, if you create a division whereby, “I am a democrat and you are a republican,” or “I am a Jew and you are a Muslim, or a Buddhist,” Krishnamurti says that is a form of violence, because we are saying that we are separate.
I like what the Dalai Lama said, is that we are all individuals, human beings. We all have the same longing for happiness and the same aversion towards pain. Everyone is like that, regardless of your theological position or beliefs.
We show love for others when we respect their ways of thinking. We may know that they are ignorant, or you may feel that sentiment in a subtle way that wants to say, “Oh, they do not know any better,” and yet we have resentment of our own, that is our problem. Often times we do not reach people and we are not effective because we have our own ego, our own desires that think they know better. That is the problem with abstractions, with the ideologies and ways of thinking that convince us “they are wrong. I am right.” But the reality is that they think the same way. So rather than take a position, you can show them love. But this does not mean that we accept behaviors from their part that are wrong.
It also does not mean that we are forceful, or we are imposing on their free will. Persuasion is much more elegant and eloquent than coercion. Coercion is when you want someone to think like you according to your ideologies. But persuasion is when, from your Being and your conscience, you offer a solution. From that threshold you are offering something as an olive branch to that person, to help them from your heart, and not expecting that they are going to follow it, nor demanding that they do, but simply offering it. That is the type of space that is really powerful. It comes from divinity, from really cultivating that.
We have to respect people’s free will. The reason why this political race and state of humanity is so crazy is because no one respects each other’s will. Everybody thinks they know the answer and therefore they are arguing, debating. Arguments, we can say, are really satanic, honestly—one person against another, who thinks they know better, and their pride is just a big battle. It is violence. It is like watching people box. It is really sad. Instead, the reality is we need to approach a person with love, and that love knows how to set boundaries even for oneself, while respecting the will of the other person. That respect for others only comes when we respect our inner divinity, who knows right from wrong. When you intuit that, you know that, you can offer it to a person.
But you cannot expect that people are going to follow that. Look what happened to Jesus, and he’s a great master, and look what humanity did. So we have to be willing to face the consequences of our ethics. If people do not like it, that is fine. We do not expect that people are going to respect what we have to say, and we have to be fine with that.
Question: Are psychological identification and karmic circumstances the same thing, or is non-identification the way out of our karmic situation into real freedom?
Instructor: Our karma is based on what we do, whether you are identified with the situation or not. So, in strict language, identification has to do with when you, as a consciousness, feel and think and behave that you are the desire, the condition: fear, pride, resentment, anger, laziness, gluttony, whatever defect. The quality of your mind in this moment determines your trajectory, where you go, whether in life or in nature. So if we act with a polluted mind, then obviously we are going to experience pain. But if we act with purity, then the logical consequence is that we bring harmony, in our situation, in our politics, in our humanity, in our life.
Your karma is based on the quality of your mind. You receive what you do. You reap what you sow, in synthesis. So if you want better states and experiences in life, act with ethics. Show compassion. Have love for others even if it hurts, and basically, even Shantideva said it, “All happiness in this life comes from wanting the happiness of others, and all pain in this life occurs because we wish happiness for ourselves.” Simple dynamic, but very profound. It is the essence of Tibetan Buddhism. So if you want better circumstances, act ethically. Do not identify with your egotism, your pride. In fact eliminate it, if you want to have radical changes.
Question: Once you accept yourself from squandering energy, what steps should one take next? When one achieves equilibrium, it can be challenging to accept the sustained energy. Many experiences occur, for instance premonitions, past life experiences, and consistently receiving messages. This can be overwhelming. What can one do to adjust to this new experience instead of being cast out due to the fatigue that arrives, with mitigating the mind’s inability to explain this new experience logically?
Instructor: Be patient. When you have experiences, obviously it can be very alarming. I know when I first started meditating and practicing these kinds of principles, I had a lot of experiences in my dreams, especially, which obviously in the beginning, you can get freaked out, or you can feel like a messiah and be like, “Oh, I know the mysteries of life and death” and tell everybody, right? I suggest that if you find when you are working with energy and you feel perhaps overwhelmed by it, you can minimize that if you need to. It is good to work with energy, but more importantly, it is good to have self-control.
I suggest if you are overwhelmed by these types of things, it is important to learn to, in a simple sense, have fun. You do not have to ruminate over the state of humanity. Being morbid or in a state of suffering is not going to help anybody. Being concerned for humanity—yes. If you are overwhelmed, it is normal in the beginning, but you gain stability through practice. So I suggest meditating on your own discomforts and uneasiness even. But also it is good to have a community of people you can socialize with too, who hopefully study these things and who are spiritually like-minded. Have fun. Relax. It does not mean you are going to go crazy, like drinking, sleeping around, and doing drugs, but just to help settle your mind with healthy and balanced activities. Recreation is a necessary quality to a degree, according to Swami Sivananda. You cannot just be serious. It is good to be serious in this work, but if you become morbid, that is a problem. If you become over agitated, filled with fear or anxiety, it is an issue. So learn to recreate, whether it is painting, sculpting, getting exercise, doing yoga. Some people like to do yoga classes. Meditation is especially helpful. Going out in nature, hiking is especially something I like to do. So it is important.
Question: I have some questions on non-exclusive meditation or Mo-Chao, a few questions about that. In that mode of meditation, is there division between observer and observed? Is there imagination involved when you are just observing in the screen of your mind the images, the thoughts, the conversations, the problems, the preoccupations, and all of that? Would you recommend that we get really good at one-pointed meditation to get better at non-exclusive?
Instructor: Good questions. In synthesis with non-exclusive meditation, you examine your state of mind as it is, which we began our practice today to a degree using that. If you find you are not able to maintain enough stability, to remember that presence, your own innate observation, it is good to return to a concentration practice where you can just focus on an object and let that be your anchor.
Now imagination is in all things. That is a beautiful teaching about consciousness. Every living thing, even the atom, in an electron, sub-atomic particles, have consciousness. This is something that has been verified by quantum physicists. They have studied the behavior of light and that even light makes choices in experiments, depending on who is observing and what is going on. Imagination is the capacity to perceive. So we have imagination at our level.
Now when you are developing imagination with, say, non-exclusive meditation, you are looking in yourself and not dividing yourself, making these separations in yourself about what you are perceiving. That is a very deep, profound state of perception, when you are looking in, which that state of looking is not conflicted between “Am I observing or am I not observing?” because as soon as you do that, then you lose the state. But if you are really deep in that perception, you do not make any false divisions, which Samael Aun Weor states, some people make the mistake of dividing themselves between a superior “I” and an inferior “I,” ignoring that it is two sides of the same coin.
When you are looking at yourself, you do not want to make those divisions. Do not identify when the ego starts to divide itself. It makes the mechanism of superior “I” or inferior “I.” There is division, dualism there. That is the problem. What sees synthetically into the nature of any phenomena is when your consciousness is clear, and you just look at the state of your being, where you are at. But if you find that it is difficult to maintain that continuity, it is important to do concentration exercises to build that.
They call that mindfulness. So people make a blurred definition of mindfulness and awareness, very commonly, today. Awareness is being present in the moment, where you are at, what you are doing, what you are thinking. Paying attention is when you are directing your attention on one thing. Awareness is when you are expanding you consciousness outward and perceiving all the details of life. Mindfulness if the continuity of that perception, in which you do not forget that you are watching. That is vigilance. When your consciousness is not sleeping, you are paying attention. So if you find it difficult to practice non-exclusive meditation where you are just observing what is going on in your mind, you cannot maintain that continuity, then return to concentration. It can help you regroup yourself until you have that stamina, so to speak.
Question: Could you speak a little bit about grief? Because I know a lot of people are suffering and a lot of people have lost loved ones due to COVID or cancer, and when you are in that deep state of grief, it just depletes your energy and you are really kind of thrown off track. How to get yourself back to a state of equanimity?
Instructor: We have many practices in this tradition to help with depression. One of them is relying on prayer, especially. We have a book called Esoteric Medicine and Practical Magic. There are some exercises in which—when we are developing the powers of the consciousness, which is the ability to perceive and to concentrate, to pray and to influence nature—we can work with the souls of plants. We call it elementotherapy. There are ways to work with, for example, the essence or soul, or really the spirit of a plant, you can say.
Now every living thing has consciousness at its level, some in less evolved degrees and some more evolved. Plants have a certain power and potency which is very much studied in Latin American countries, but we have practices in our traditions where we can work with the soul of the rose. Obviously, the rose is a prominent symbol of love and romantic relationships, but people do not understand too that the rose has the power to heal sicknesses. It does not require anything more than taking three roses and placing them in three glass cups, or three glasses of pure water. There is a sequence where you pray to the soul of the plant or your divinity, “Help me to work with the soul of this plant, the rose,” which is like a queen, really, in the elemental kingdom of souls, progressing in their development towards entering a humanoid state. They are very pure and innocent. They are like the purity of Eden. Those souls have not left paradise, so to speak, unlike us.
You drink one glass in the morning, one glass in the afternoon, and one glass in the evening, before dinner, or before each meal, and it simply involves prayer. It is simple. A lot of people might scorn these types of things because they do not really practice it. But I know when I have had emotional traumas and sufferings, I always go to the roses, and this ritual and prayer that you can do which you find in that book, Esoteric Medicine and Practical Magic, [see specifically The Magic of the Roses] because the souls of nature have the power to heal. Each plant in nature has the capacity and the means of channeling certain energies and forces that are conducive for our well-being. You find that type of culture in amongst the indigenous tribes of Latin America, the Maya, the Aztecs, the mamas of the Sierra Nevada, and many other tribes that have ancient traditions, which fortunately we have access to this knowledge.
So the roses are effective for that. I mean I have had moments in my life where I was really traumatized, not only just by maybe losing someone, but facing conflicts in spiritual groups. There is nothing worse that hurts than the spiritual stab, when you are betrayed by groups of people. When I had that happen to me, I worked with the roses, and you know, I am fine. You can heal. You can do the same thing with traumas too.
Question: I have a follow up question. So when it comes to meditation with grief, is grief a defect that we need to meditate on like an ego we need to comprehend, or is it something else, some other part of our experience of life?
Instructor: Good question. There are the pains of the soul and the pains of the ego. The ego of shame or grief is really anger, inverted anger. It may not be directed at other people, but directed inside. So it is a form of self-hatred, which can be very deep. But there are types of sufferings in the soul that are also very profound, which have to be healed if we want to advance.
But a lot of times when people deal with grief, it can be a mixture. You know, obviously, there is that natural grief and sentiment of loss when we as a soul lose someone. Obviously there is that quality of essence there, that consciousness. But sometimes we may feel grief for things that are really inconsequential. It can be inverted anger where it is hatred, but directed at oneself. This is why certain people become suicidal. Their hatred is directed at themselves. Consciousness is not there. Obviously when people commit suicide, it is a great tragedy, but the reality is they have so much self-hatred that they cannot separate from it. But meditation can teach you how to extract the consciousness from those depressive elements so you can see them for what they are. In that way you do not get caught up in that vortex of suffering.
Question: So is grief for someone that we love the problem of attachment? Or is it okay?
Instructor: It can be both. You got to examine your mind, because some, in most cases, most of us are very conditioned by attachments where, you know, we obviously suffer, but it is a natural sentiment of the soul to feel that longing for that person and obviously feel upset, but a lot of our attachments, our psychology, is conditioned. We are 97% conditioned perception. So most of the time, if we lose someone, it is going to be mixed with impurities, with attachments, obviously. We have to love people regardless of if they are with us or not with us, and if we really love a person, we have to be willing to love in accordance with their karma, their life, their trajectory, their journey, that they need to go through their process and to respect that. We can still feel sorrow for them and miss them, but it doesn’t mean that we become completely distraught and suicidal.
Question: I actually have two questions. One has to do with what you mentioned about grief. I experienced something in my life that was very traumatic, which was the death of my first daughter, and she passed away at a very young age. Even at the beginning of today’s reflection / meditation, you mentioned trauma, and it brought me back to that and it immediately brought tears to my eyes. And it has been years and I will say “I will go back to that when I am ready.” But when you are experiencing such a strong pain in that reflection, how can you combat that, so you are able to penetrate into that trauma and actually see things? So one of my things is, how do I observe what went down that day without getting so identified? And then the follow up question to that is, you talked about reflecting on good qualities, like love, but most of us do not even know what love is, so how can we even tap into that and reflect on something so positive when we have something so strong, which is the ego?
Instructor: As for the first question, in the words of Samael Aun Weor, he says that if we really want to annihilate an ego, we have to be willing to break and even weep tears of blood, if necessary, to feel that grief and even just cry, because bottling it up is not good. Sometimes if you have really seen an ego and comprehended it and really understood a pain of a certain moment, really deeply, you will cry. It is painful. But there is a certain type of release that is there when you are able to confront that emotion, because repressing it and numbing it does not get anywhere. If we numb ourselves, it is just going to churn and get stronger underneath the surface. Sometimes when I have seen certain egos and meditated on my own culpability, seeing things I have done wrong in my life, I have wept myself silly. I mean, just really cried, broke into pieces, sobbing. We need that. Sometimes we have to just let ourselves confront that emotion and to experience it, that remorse.
Now in terms of the second question, you know the fact that we are so filled with ego that it becomes very difficult to know what is virtuous. As you said in your example, how you lost your daughter, you can reflect on that love that you felt from her and for her, because really, that is a strong bond to share with someone. I know sometimes we like to think that to really know what love is, we have to be very elevated, but we all have our level of experience. As a mother, obviously losing their child, you have that intense love and sacrifice for that person, for your child. So reflect on that. Obviously, all the other emotions and sentiments and confusion, maybe agony and anger and resentment at the situation, it is all circling around one thing—that is the love you feel for her. The ego is secondary. Consciousness is first. That shows us that our essential nature is love, but we tend to distract ourselves from that. So you can reflect on that, especially that bond, that relationship, because it is showing you that everything else is gravitating around that essential quality.
There are ways to heal and to regroup, but sometimes it means we really have to break the shell, and it is painful. It is not easy. That is why many people do not stick with meditation. They leave because they do not want to confront this. But when you have the courage to let yourself shatter for however long you need, you can begin to regroup, fit the pieces together. Bottling up is not going to be healthy. Reflect on that love you felt [for more information on this topic, study Trauma and Spiritual Healing].
Spiritual retreat holds a very special place within every single tradition of meditation, whether in Sufism through the lodges, khanqah or khaniqahs, monasteries within the Christian tradition, the temples of the Jews, the Buddhists, the Hindus. Meditation retreat signifies the abandonment of the world, to dedicate more time, more effort, more energy, more seriousness, more study, to the spiritual path that leads to the liberation of the soul.
Retreats are a wonderful reprieve. They allow us to abandon the hustle and bustle, the chaos of our modern society, the world. While this was true, even in the times of the prophets, it is even more pertinent today in our modern world through the advent of the internet, smartphones, social media, Facebook, exponentially improving technology. This is made life in the West (and it is now spreading into the East) even more accelerated, hyperactive―we could say―distracted from, really, the point of life, the purpose of existence.
In our world, we believe that our bank account, our job, our career, our television shows, our entertainment, our media, constitute the reality of who we are and what is of value. Obviously, if we are studying meditation and spirituality, we understand that this type of lifestyle has flaws. In essence, it is superficial. There is not much depth in a life of games, of sitcoms, of jobs that do not really fulfill our deepest sentiments, our greatest uneasiness and longing. Because people do not like to introspect, to be serious, to analyze the causes of suffering inside, people look to the external world for their panacea, their healing, their drug.
In the history of humanity, it is never been more difficult to really develop a spiritual life than today, because there has been a fundamental shift in the psychology, the pace, the momentum of modern living. Gnosis or Sufism, Buddhism, Judaism, the meditative traditions, the contemplative sciences, teach us that we need to slow down. Our life is hectic. We have many responsibilities and duties, obligations in life, and we are constantly running around pulled in so many directions that, really, it is very difficult to get a hold of and a grasp on our existence, with the Essence, with the consciousness, which knows how to live life intensely, with rectitude and with love for humanity.
The Essence is the most beautiful part of us that can really blossom into a profound, deep, penetrative wisdom. Our Essence knows how to live fully without distraction, to be aware, to be attentive. But as we mentioned in the previous lecture, to do that we have to renounce a lot of superfluous activities, things that over engage and distract the mind.
Our culture is very much hypnotizing, seductive, manipulative. It is based upon drawing and stealing our energy into avenues that really are a dead end. This is why every spiritual tradition emphasizes so much the need for retreat, to leave behind all the temptations, all the seductions, all the illusions of society, the world, even if but for a very brief time. This is so that we can really dedicate our efforts to really create the soul, enliven it, to empower it.
While it is been very difficult to practice retreat due to this pandemic, we can, if so willing, fulfill our own meditation retreat in our home. It really does not involve much. We are going to provide you some parameters, some guidelines, and some suggestions that can help you if you are able and willing to perform retreat, and hopefully if this pandemic clears, sooner rather than later, we would love to have another retreat as provided on our websites, so that we can really cultivate spiritual force in our efforts and practices, to awaken the consciousness. But of course, if this is not possible, we still have the exercises and the teachings.
We can gain a lot of inspiration, a lot of profound changes by applying the principles of meditation and of retreat, and so we are going to outline what some of those are according to the Sufi tradition, the Gnostic traditions.
The Purpose of Retreat
Why emphasize retreat in this course? It is because life wants to swallow us alive. We have obligations. We have duties, responsibilities, work events, family gatherings, engagements that really lull us to sleep, which, while a necessary part of living in society, tend to put us on autopilot. They also prevent us from really deepening our awareness of the present, our quest of the consciousness to reach the divine.
It is important that we really feed that spark of inquietude in the heart, that dissatisfaction, that uneasiness we feel in our moment-to-moment life in relation to a problem, in relation to our trajectory―perhaps a career change, our existence, our family, our marriage. We feel a hunch in our core being that something must change. This is really the essence of why we begin meditation and spirituality.
It is also the reason why we enter retreat, because we need to comprehend something more. It is the intuitions of the soul, the language of divinity, the intimate silence of our inner God. We receive that impulse through our heart, through hunches, and because that is usually very weakened in us, or better said, we feel that flame in the heart and yet we have so many distractions outside of us, that candle flame tends to get snuffed out. But again, and again, if we are really persistent in this path, we find that we continue to feel that inquietude, that yearning for something more. This is why Samael Aun Weor stated in The Great Rebellion in the chapter called “Inquietudes”:
“Trivialities and nonsense, while having no particular transcendence, still have the power at any given moment to extinguish that first spiritual disquietude, that intimate longing, that insignificant spark of light, that hunch which unsettles us for a moment without our knowing why.
“If those who are currently living corpses, cold sleepwalkers in nightclubs or simply umbrella salespeople in department stores on the avenue, had not suffocated their initial intimate uneasiness, they would at this moment be spiritual luminaries, adepts of the light, real Humans in every sense of the word.
“A spark, a hunch, a mysterious whisper, an unexplainable sensation felt sometimes by the butcher on the corner, by a shoe-shiner or a highly specialized doctor, is all in vain. The foolishness of the personality always extinguishes the primary spark of light, later continuing with a coldness of the most frightful indifference.” ―Samael Aun Weor, The Great Rebellion, “Inquietudes”
Retreats really gives strength when we are with like-minded people. When we practice retreat, when we meet other aspirants of this teaching who are really sincere and are working effectively in themselves, we gain strength for our own path.
Retreat is like a chorus in a musical performance. The instructors are the conductor. The composer is the guru of our tradition: Samael Aun Weor. His music are the writings and teachings that we have, and the mighty chorus, that resounds like Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, is the voices of the initiates who work together in harmony, who create that synthesis, that profound alchemy in which forces mix, commune, and work like a conduit, in order to receive divine aid at a greater magnitude, profundity, impact.
Also, it is important that when we have retreats, we can study some essential principles that help us to take advantage of the small time that we have. Obviously in our past retreats we only have so much time, and really by the time people get used to the exercises and the lectures and the practices and are really ready to go deeper, it is already time to leave. So what's important is that we gain knowledge and inspiration, but also we go home into the world, back to society, in order to practice these principles, deeply, with greater momentum, so that whatever hardships we face, we conquer them with intelligence and wisdom.
While renunciation teaches the student to abandon psychological attachments to life, retreat is the method and the medium for perfecting and enlivening the flames of our spiritual longing. This is why Al-Junayd stated the following:
“Sufism is sitting for a few moments without cares and worries with God.” ―Junayd
Principles of Retreat and Seclusion
Let us examine the principles of retreat and seclusion:
“Khalwah, retreat, belongs to the purified, while uzlah, withdrawal from the world, marks the people of union. The seeker needs to withdraw from his own kind in the beginning stages. Then, in the last stages, he needs to retreat in order to confirm himself in intimacy with God.” ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
Retreat is a means of purifying the Essence. For those of you who have attended Gnostic retreats, we have many exercises to work with energy, to work with concentration, to work with imagination. These are our faculties that we develop in ourselves so that we can gain knowledge of the causes of our suffering, and so that we can gain intimate wisdom, experiential knowledge of our Innermost Being. As beginners, we work to develop purity, level by level, degree by degree, and it is important that if we have the time and opportunity, that we make the sacrifice in order to meet others, to learn from others, to share our own knowledge, our experiences, because this is a very beneficial influence upon the psyche. It can really give us a lot of strength to help us understand what purity is.
In the beginning of Sufism, many initiates practice retreat, but also the great masters, the prophets, learn to withdraw from the world. These are the people of union―very high levels of initiates. And while it is easy to read this verse as something physical, in a profound sense, as we have been reiterating again and again in relation to hermetic silence, this has to do more with a psychological separation, a distance from oneself with the illusions of the world.
The masters of meditation prepare for union with divinity through the heights of initiation. Who are examples of the masters of union? What does that involve?
Prophet Muhammad was in the habit of traveling to جَبَل ٱلنُّوْر Jabal al-Nur, the “mountain of light” in Arabic, where he would perform meditation retreat. He would leave for extended periods of time in order to really deeply practice introspection. While this is a physical and a literal history, which is very commonly known in Islamic circles, Sufi circles, more importantly for us, this is a symbolic teaching.
How do we climb the mountain of light: جَبَل ٱلنُّوْر Jabal Nur (because in Arabic, نور nur means “light,” or, the Hebrew אור aur)? And what is that light? It is cognizance. It is awakened perception within the superior worlds. It is intelligence. It is the awakening of the consciousness.
It is referenced many times how Prophet Muhammad was meditating on جَبَل ٱلنُّوْر Jabal Nur when he received his first teaching from the Angel Gabriel. Gabriel spoke to him in what we can say is an internal experience, an astral, a prophetic, superior experience of the consciousness. The Angel Gabriel taught Prophet Muhammad the Qur’an.
If you know the tradition of Islam, Prophet Mohammad was reportedly illiterate. He didn't know how to read and write Arabic, but historically there are some scholars who state that this is inaccurate, primarily because Prophet Muhammad was a merchant, and to make trade deals, he would need to know how to read and write.
But symbolically for us, what does it mean that the Prophet was illiterate? This is a very famous teaching within Islam, how an illiterate man became an illuminated initiate who was able to provide the miracle of the Qur’an القرآن, that beautiful scripture, “The Recitation” in Arabic. What is interesting is that in a spiritual sense, what this represents for us, is that we are all illiterate. We do not have the principles of divinity inscribed within our soul, which is represented through Kabbalah, the science of numerology, of numbers, of the Hebrew, but also the Arabic letters, because Arabic and Hebrew are Semitic languages that share the same roots. They have the same meanings, esoterically speaking, archetypically speaking.
Prophet Muhammad was able to speak the Qur’an as a miracle, to recite the teachings of divinity within him. But he only did that because he climbed the mountain of light. This is a symbol of what we call initiation, of the mystical, internal Gnostic work. To climb a mountain in the astral plane signifies that we are entering initiation, degrees, higher levels of consciousness. But of course, how does one achieve this?
This is beautifully allegorized in many of the names of this story. For example the word nur spelled in Arabic: ن nun, و waw, ر ra. Or, נ nun, ו vav, ר reish in Hebrew. It is a beautiful teaching, how the light of our consciousness emerges from נ nun. In Arabic and in Hebrew, this letter signifies a fish. Or better said, in Aramaic, the word nun is a “fish”: a symbol of the sperm and ovum within our sexual creative waters. That is where the light emerges. When you conserve that energy and transform it, you raise it up the mountain of your spinal column so that it illuminates your head. You can receive wisdom from Gabriel, or in Arabic, جِبْرِيل Jibril.
In the Nordic language, the runes, which have a profound relationship to these names, you find within the named גַבְרִיאֵל Gabriel, Gibur-ra-el. The Rune Gibor is a swastika, a symbol of a cross in motion that unfortunately was misappropriated by some very mistaken people during World War II and before. That is a symbol of the creative sexual power that circulates within the initiate as they are learning to work with these exercises: mantras, prayer, runes, sacred rites for rejuvenation, imagination exercises, concentration exercises, retrospection meditation―many practices that we use in this tradition and on our retreats in order to develop the soul.
Symbolically speaking, we receive the Word, the Verb, the divine, the Qur’an, the recitation, the perfect expression of God in us, when we learn to raise the light from our sexual organs up to our head. That is how we climb the mountain. That is how we overcome adversities, because if you study this symbol and this extended metaphor deeply, you find that climbing a mountain is very difficult, especially when it is very high―and the mountain of initiation is extremely high, very arduous, very difficult. But we achieve those heights when we are working with energy, with chastity, with introspection, with visualization, with serenity, with the Essence.
Prophet Muhammad was an alchemist. He knew the science of الخيمياء Alchemy: Allah-Kemia. He was married to his first wife Khadijah, whom he worked with sexual magic, his priestess, so that he could raise that light up his spine in order to receive what we call the Venustic Initiation within our tradition. He received the Intimate Christ in Gnostic terms. Divinity entered in his soul and it is symbolized by the Annunciation of Gabriel: how Gibur-Ra-El, the power of the divine, or we could say the Holy Spirit in Christian terms, inflamed his consciousness. It is the force of ? Ra, the solar fire within Egyptian mysticism and אל El in Hebrew, the Spirit, the Innermost, the Merciful: ٱلرَّحِيمِ al-Rahim. We can all receive our own wisdom, our own particular Verb, when we climb the mountain of initiation, which is something inside, internal.
We have to remember that in the Muslim mythology, the Muslim narrative, Prophet Muhammad was commanded by Gabriel to recite and he said, “I cannot.” Gabriel said again, “Recite!” And Prophet Muhammad replied again, “I cannot. I do not know how.” And finally a third time, “Recite!” And the Prophet said, "What shall I say my Lord? What shall I recite?"
This is a beautiful teaching of the three brains. We have an intellectual brain, an emotional brain, and a motor-instinctive-sexual brain. We may be familiar with the story of Peter denying Christ. It is very difficult to really develop these forces in ourselves consistently, practically, in order to really affirm divinity in ourselves. The mind fights, the heart fights, but in the third brain, the brain of action, if we are transmuting the sexual energy, working upon جَبَل ٱلنُّوْر Jabal al-Nur, the mountain of light, we achieve the synthesis and the real work of the path. It is how we learn to recite the Word of God, which is to really reflect the Spirit inside. Beautiful symbology, alchemical-Kabbalistic wisdom.
Retreats are helpful for deepening this knowledge, for learning the different meditative traditions, but also really defining ourselves, really practicing deeply.
Traditionally, many schools of Buddhism and many Sufis would abandon the world for months or even years. In our retreats, we spend a week. We have sometimes done more. The important thing is whatever time we can dedicate, the deeper our results will be, obviously. Very beautiful practice. It is for masters. It is for beginning disciples. It is for all students who really wish to deepen their knowledge. But of course, retreat as we've said, is a way to really confirm our intimacy with divinity.
Intentions for Retreat
When we enter retreat, it is important to really reflect on our intentions. Many misconceptions about retreat exist. People often want to get away from the world. We want to avoid the negativity of our neighbors, our co-workers, our friends, our spouse, or whomever. While true, we really carry the seeds of discord within our ego. Let us read a quote in relation to this from Al-Qushayri's Principles of Sufism:
“If the servant chooses to withdraw, his intention must be to separate himself from people so that they will be safe from his evil― he must not be looking to protect himself from their evil. For the first of these attitudes come from thinking little of one’s own ego, while the second comes from making oneself out to be better than other people. A person who thinks little of himself is humble, while a person who sees himself as better than anybody else is arrogant.” ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
So it is arrogant to think that we have to protect ourselves from the evils of other people as if we are saints, like we are martyrs, people who should not dirty their hands in society.
So what does it mean to be humble? To really think little of ourselves. To realize that with the ego alive, we are dangerous, negative, people, and learning to associate with other spiritually like-minded people can give us humility. It can give us faith, because we learn from the experiences of others. We share. We break bread together. We study together. We inspire one another, and we receive knowledge of a superior type, because there is a lot of energy being channeled there if the practitioners are really serious, are really dedicated, because everyone is like a part of a concert, really. Everyone has their own instruments that they play, and when they play in harmony, they create a beautiful, profound wisdom.
So, let's also remember that we should enter retreat because we want to become better people, not because we want to avoid others. The reality is that to think in this way is to proceed mistakenly. We have to learn how to protect other people from our own ego. That is why we enter retreat. We enter retreat because we want to sacrifice better for humanity. We want to become better suited for our Being, to purify ourselves so that we can prevent our own lower, carnal soul, nafs al-ammara, “the soul that inclines to evil,” from inflicting damage, from influencing others negatively.
The Rules of Retreat
So, retreat has basic rules. Let's read some.
“One of the rules of withdrawal is that whoever goes into seclusion must acquire the knowledge that makes his commitment to unity (tawhid) firm, so that satan cannot seduce him through the imagination. Then he should acquire enough knowledge of the divine law that he is able to fulfill his religious duties so that his undertaking maybe built on definite and sure foundations.” –Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
The doctrine of unity is central to Islam. It is very profound, subtle, and sophisticated, and beautiful. This is a topic that is very misunderstood and confused by theologians and skeptics alike.
What is unity? In a perfect sense, the Being is unity. Our ego is a multiplicity. We know from Gnosis that our consciousness is trapped in multiple, conflicting, competing, desires. We have to free the consciousness and liberate it from desire, from the ego, so that it can reunite with divinity when it is pure.
The quality of the Essence is very unique and is a very specific flavor that can only be experienced again and again through repeated trial and error. We are not going to be perfect in learning how to discriminate our true nature from our false nature, because our desires are many, vast, and are constantly competing and fighting to steal our energy.
The Essence is beautiful action, as we have emphasized again and again. It has infinite virtuous qualities, like altruism, compassion, conscious love, chastity, happiness for others, inspiration, motivation, diligence, patience, endurance of suffering and ordeals, sacrifice for others at one's own expense, one's own pride, humility. And also, the severity and justice of the consciousness that knows how to weigh a situation with mercy and equilibrium, with splendor. There are infinite virtuous qualities, but they are all united by a single thread which is the continuity of perception, of consciousness.
This is very different from our desires, from our ego. Our ego in its multiplicity, is a fracturing, a dissonance, a sour taste within the mind. If we are really dedicating ourselves to separating from the ego, we begin to see more and more how egotistical states are very problematic. They produce problems. This is the multiplicity of the mind that is the obstacle and the enemy, and why we enter retreat, primarily because the ego in itself, again, conditions our potential.
In Islam, the ego and its multiplicity are the polytheists mentioned in the Qur’an. Or, الْكافِرُون al-Kafirun, the unbelievers, the infidels. All of our cravings, aversions, fears, wants, desires, etc., do not obey or believe in the will of divinity in us.
So how do we understand this dynamic?
We may read and learn and study how altruism, how giving is a very profound virtue, and yet, when we have the opportunity to do so, we examine our mind and we find that we don't want to donate, perhaps in a certain situation, to give of our time and energy. We feel resistance. These are the unbelievers. Or, we learn about compassion, empathy, conscious love in a situation in which someone is really criticizing us. We start to see that constant fluctuation and dynamic of anger, of resentment, of hatred, of pride, with all of its cacophony of thoughts and desires and impulses pulling in multiple directions. When you observe that in yourself, you really understand that we don't have any unitary will.
We may direct our efforts to promoting and fulfilling these precepts, and yet we find that our desires fight against us. This means that we are not really spiritual people. It means that we are infidels, because we have so much desire within, conditioning, egos, نَفْس nafs in Arabic.
If you really want to be sincere, we have to learn and understand what unity is. When you taste it, you will know it. It is a very clear, cognizant, vivid intense state of clarity, of perception, of altruism, of giving. It is intuitive action. It is right action. It dissipates discord. It brings harmony within situations and conflicts. It knows how to understand the solution to a difficult issue through the heart, not the intellect, not through debating or theorizing or intellectualizing what one must do, but simply knowing it and acting for the welfare of others.
Unity is a profound teaching. It is really the heights of realization. There are levels to understanding what unity is, the integration of the soul. But in order to really understand that particular state and quality on a consistent, experiential basis, we learn to work with the practices of our tradition, specifically by having knowledge of the divine law. This is the ethical conduct of the initiates, but also our religious duties, which is our exercises: the practices that we fulfill, such as works with concentration, serenity, or imagination.
It would seem that the Sufis are speaking badly about imagination, that Satan seduces one through visualization, because we have to remember that imagination is dual. It can be conditioned or it can be liberated. It could be negative or it could be positive, liberated, free. Our desires project through imagery onto the senses, seeking to fulfill their desires. But visualization practice, working with positive imagination: the ability to hold in one's concentration with vivid intensity, non-physical imagery is an essential skill we learn to master, because that quality of consciousness allows us to access the internal worlds.
This capacity to perceive non-physical imagery has to be done at will, not mechanically, not through associative thinking or daydreaming, mind-wandering, in which we have no control over what we see. The imagination that we speak of is very specific. By learning those practices we could really go deep in our work.
So as we have emphasized again and again, the practical foundations of meditation include shari'a, ethical conduct. This is something that we can learn. We read about it. We listen to lectures. We read scriptures. We do book studies. We talk about the teachings. We learn them. We gain an intellectual understanding and appreciation of the different precepts of religion as we have emphasized again and again, such as non-violence, non-stealing, sexual purity, charity, pilgrimage, such as in the Muslim faith.
There are even five pillars within Islam that constitute the divine law, practices that can help develop our potential, our compassion, our ethics, our kindness. This is different in different religions, but they all share the same root, which is how to work with liberated consciousness, how to curtail negative behaviors so that we don't infect our heart, our conscience. We don't make ourselves sick, spiritually, because people who are filled with hate, who live within an atmosphere of wrath, are very depleted of energy, and they suffer incredibly. They make others suffer, which is worse.
Silence and Insight
So divine law helps to curtail all of that. This is so that we can enter silence or samt, equanimity, serenity. When you learn to act ethically with precepts, you calm your mind, naturally. Through the work of self-observation and learning to respond to life consciously, to transform the impressions of life as they enter our consciousness, our mind naturally begins to settle, to become serene, to become calm. But this only happens when we separate from the mind. We look at it for what it is. We don't try to label anything we see, to justify it, or to hide from it. Simply look. Perceive what is in your heart, your three brains, your thoughts, your feelings, your will. This is how we gain insight, firasah in Arabic. This is clear perception. This is the faculty of imagination, visualization. It is the ability to see not with physical eyes, but with psychological and spiritual senses.
If I tell you to imagine an apple, you can see it. It appears in your mind. That is visualization. Now, insight or imagination, comprehension born from seeing, occurs when we learn to develop that capacity intentionally, not mechanically by hearing about some associative word like an apple and then you see it in your mind, but instead learning to cultivate the capacity to perceive with imagination, with different exercises, such as taking a candle, imagining the flame. Observe it. Look at the colors and the fluctuation of the flame, the wax, and then imagine it with clarity, in detail.
You can only learn silence and insight through practice. You can learn about the concepts, but it won't have any substance unless you have experienced it.
When you really develop silence and insight, serenity, and visualization or, concentration and imagination, the ability to focus serenely and to perceive it clearly in your consciousness, that is how you witness unity. This is التوحيد al-tawhid. This is witnessing the truth. This is samadhi, ecstasy, mystical experience. This is the unity and integrity of the soul, the integration of the consciousness. Literally, it is when the soul abandons illusion, the ego, even if for a few moments, in different levels of nature.
This can occur physically, but also in the internal planes, in the Tree of Life, in the different dimensions. We could be sitting to meditate and suddenly we start perceiving an experience, not with physical senses, but with the consciousness, in which we receive symbols and messages and understandings and dramas that we are both witness and spectator. We receive insight, or better said, symbols through our Being, through living dramas, allegories, that have to be interpreted with the consciousness.
When we learn to understand these messages, we really march in the path towards unity, unifying our consciousness. We do so through one-pointed will. We learn not to be distracted. Whatever you sit to practice meditation upon, whatever you focus your concentration on, don't think of other things. Don't get distracted. Renounce distractions, whether they are physical, energetic, through sensations or lights and sounds and mystical experiences, things that are really captivating and interesting but really are just temporary. Let them go. Don't be fascinated by what you perceive.
Also, do not be hypnotized by emotions, especially negative emotions, because we have a lot of that. We have to renounce negative feeling, but also the churning of thought, intellect. And by concentrating our willpower, and letting it rest in equanimity, with meditative equipoise, we can receive the light of unity. This is how you proclaim the Shahadah, “There is no God but God, and Muhammad” or any Prophet “is the Messenger of Allah,” the divine.
So unity is something that occurs in levels. That perfect unity of the Being has many qualities and virtues. It is infinite. We study the Tree of Life to understand all those dynamics in detail, the relationships between those principles, the ten sephiroth, the lower seven bodies, the trinities. Everything is a unity that expresses a multiplicity. So therefore, the bridge between monotheism and polytheism should be understood, because sadly, the exoteric public doctrine of Islam rejects many religions because they are interpreted to be polytheist. Many of them do not understand what Kabbalah is, that it is a map and structure the soul, the unity of God, how divinity expresses in levels. Or as the Qur’an teaches, “Light upon light!” (24:35)―level upon level of being. There are more rarefied levels of being and more manifest, concrete levels of being.
So, the Being is a unit, is perfected, is divine. We are multiplicity because we have egos. We are polytheists, whether we consider ourselves Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, or whatever, Gnostic. We are infidels because we have the ego. We are fractured. We have no integrity, no unity of will. We have a multiplicity of wills. So, comprehend what unity is. Learn about that state of being, the perfection of your Innermost through experiences. Through that vision of the consciousness, you can see that really, in the depths of all traditions. They are all the same. They teach the same principles. Those are different archetypes and qualities of divinity expressed amongst the cultures and religions of the world. They all share the same roots.
The Essence of Seclusion
It is also important to remember that the essence of seclusion is more than just leaving society behind. It is an internal psychological work. It means to hermetically seal our energy.
People who waste energy never awaken. The question is, how do we waste energy?
Let us seriously investigate our life.
What types of activities drain us? What relationships, events, cyclical occurrences, behaviors, mechanical habits, tend to take away our vitality, our ability to really dedicate to spiritual practice? We have to learn to answer that question, personally, through reflection.
The question also becomes: how do we learn to seal ourselves, our psyche, from losing energy, whether it be mental, emotional, sexual, especially? How do we lose energy? How do we save energy? Let's examine some quotes that can help us understand this, from Al-Qushayri's Principles of Sufism:
“Withdrawing from the world does not mean going away from inhabited places. The essence of seclusion is to isolate blameworthy traits in order to substitute the divine names for them. Thus it was asked, ‘Who is the gnostic (arif)?’ and they replied, ‘A creature distinguished,’ that is, someone who appears to be together with people, but is inwardly separated from them.” –Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
Separation is key. Do not be attached to your actions, to your desires, to what anger wants, to what vanity desires, to what greed clutches on to. Non-attachment does not mean dysphoria, in which we don't have a sense of orientation or self, meaning: one is disassociated in a clouded obscured, amorphous state. That is not what we are talking about.
Non-attachment is clarity. It is vivid attention. It is expansive awareness. It is the identity of our Essence with its virtuous qualities, the ability to act ethically with precision and with compassion. That is non-attachment.
We give. We act for the benefit of others, not being attached to what may happen. We give from the qualities and the treasures of our heart. This is how we save energy. This is how we transmute energy.
You take the sexual energy; you conserve it. But also we have to learn how to direct it with the Essence. When you empower your consciousness through pranayama and runes, especially alchemy, you learn to direct that force in an intelligent way. But if we do not save energy, we invest ourselves within desire, within nafs.
We have to separate from the ego in order to see it. This is what it means “to substitute blameworthy traits with divine names.” In Hebrew, we have a name called hashim, which relates to השם Hashem, “the names,” and you find this even in Arabic have the same pronunciation even. Hashim, Samael Aun Weor mentions, are the igneous particles of the consciousness, the energies of the psyche. When we perceive and not act upon negative states, egos, we learn to transform hashim within us, the names, the particles of the soul, which usually are trapped in ego, in desire.
So in Muslim mysticism, they emphasize that there are beautiful names of Allah, and this can be graphed in different ways upon the Tree of Life, which we have mentioned some correlations before, specifically such as with ٱلرَّحِيمِ Al-Rahim, the Merciful, which is Chesed, the Spirit of Kabbalah. The Compassionate, الرحمان Al-Rahman, can relate to Chokmah, Wisdom.
These divine names relate to principles and forces in us that we have to understand. When we learn to not invest ourselves within desire, we learn to substitute blameworthy traits with the divine names, with the hashim, the forces of God, so that you are cultivating a space in yourself that allows for meditation to exist, because when the mind is chaotic, you cannot meditate. If you are burning with hatred all day and you sit down to introspect, you are not going to attain anything.
Instead, curtail your negative habits. Seclude your psyche from attachments. The seclusion that we seek is internal. That is the beginning.
Inner Seclusion and Intimacy with God
Real seclusion, retreat, is internal. It is dependent upon our level of being. Our heart has to be secluded. It has to be separate from any ego, any naf, any desire. You cannot look to externals to know the truth, whether from teachers, from lectures, from scriptures even, from books, but from your own consciousness. That is how we really develop, and that is how seclusion, retreat, becomes fruitful, is with this basis, with hermetic sealing, with hermetic silence.
Let's read some quotes from Revelation of the Mystery, Kashf al-Mahjub by Al-Hujwiri that relate to these principles.
“It is related that [Al-Qarani] said, ‘Safety lies in solitude,’ because the heart of the solitary is free from thought of ‘other,’ and in no circumstances does he hope for anything from mankind. Let none imagine, however, that solitude (wahdat) merely consists in living alone. So long as the Devil associates with a man’s heart, and sensual passion holds sway in his breast, and any thought of this world or the next occurs to him in such a way as to make him conscious of mankind, he is not truly in solitude; since it is all one whether he takes pleasure in the thing itself or in the thought of it.” ―Al-Hujwiri, Revelation of the Mystery
So we can be in retreat but occupied mentally with other things. We have to avoid associating anything with Allah.
It is a very beautiful teaching with Islam. The Qur’an teaches we should not associate with anything other than God, but how do we associate with anything other than divinity? That is when we are distracted. Remember that Al-Wasiti said, "The greatest form of worship is watchfulness in the moments," primarily because we don't learn to associate with anything other than Him. Meaning, don't get lost in thought, with thinking. Do not be distracted. Instead, enter silence, concentrated.
“Accordingly, the true solitary is not disturbed by society, but he who is preoccupied seeks in vain to acquire freedom from thought by secluding himself. In order to be cut off from mankind one must become intimate with God, and those who have become intimate with God are not hurt by intercourse with mankind.” ―Al-Hujwiri, Revelation of the Mystery
So we can be solitary or unitary in our consciousness but involved in the world. We cannot enter real retreat if our mind is always preoccupied with other things, and where we are at or what we are doing.
Intimacy with God occurs in levels. We gain intimacy with divinity in accordance with our level of being, through our efforts, our practices. These are different experiences we can have and levels upon the Tree of Life. These are levels of remembrance, levels of witnessing, whether in dreams or in meditation.
Two Kinds of Seclusion
There are some points emphasized by Ibn ‘Arabi in The Adornment of the Spiritually Transformed which reiterate the points we have made. There are two types of seclusion: internal and external. These are both very valuable to know and it is important to know the relationship between them. Ibn ‘Arabi states:
“Seclusion leads to silence for man, since one who withdraws from human company has no-one to talk to, and that naturally leads to silence of the tongue. There are two kinds of seclusion: firstly, the seclusion of the aspirants (murīdūn), which consists of not associating physically with others; and secondly, the seclusion of the verifiers (muhaqqiqūn), which consists of having no contact with created things in one’s heart: their hearts have no room for anything other than the knowledge of God, exalted is He, which is the witness of the Truth in the heart that results from contemplation (mushāhada).” ―Ibn ‘Arabi, The Adornment of the Spiritually Transformed
So the seclusion of the aspirants has to do with not being around a lot of people. It is even good on retreats to practice silence physically. On some of our retreats, but also in many others that I have attended amongst different Gnostic groups, have beautifully implemented silence of the tongue. So we could be surrounded by other students or teachers in this tradition eating and dining with people, but not talking physically.
Of course, this is very difficult because, obviously, when you are with a group of Gnostics, you want to share and learn and commune with your brothers and sisters in this path, but there is something very valuable about learning not to talk physically. You begin to understand and perceive in yourself your different egos, which want to socialize or be funny or be impressive, to look really spiritual amongst others, to really show off. These are things that we can see in ourselves if we practice this, and this is the value of physical silence, the seclusion of the aspirants.
But what is even more beautiful than that is the seclusion of the verifiers (muhaqqiqūn). What does it mean to verify? It means to know from experience those mystical states in which we don't have any contact with creative things in our heart. Our heart is not focused on anything else but their quality of remembrance of the Being. There is no other room except knowledge of God, and this results from mushahada, which means “contemplation, witnessing, meditation.”
Examine your heart when you sit to practice. Be sincere. Is your mind thinking of other things? Is your heart churning with emotion? Is your impulse to do anything else but meditate? Are you preoccupied with anything other than the knowledge of your Being? It is something only you can evaluate. Only you can really know.
Three Motives for Seclusion
In synthesis, Ibn ‘Arabi states that there are three motives for seclusion. Let's examine these in depth:
“The people of seclusion have three motives: (1) the fear of the evil of other people affecting oneself; (2) the fear of one’s own evil affecting others―this is a higher perception than the first, as in the first case one thinks badly of others, while in the second one thinks badly of oneself, and thinking badly of oneself is better since you are more knowledgeable of yourself…” ―Ibn ‘Arabi, The Adornment of the Spiritually Transformed
Al-Hujwiri made the same points that Ibn ‘Arabi is emphasizing. This is very common knowledge among Sufis.
“(3) the preference for the company of the Master from the Sublime Assembly―the most elevated of men is one who parts from himself out of preference for the company of his Lord.” ―Ibn ‘Arabi, The Adornment of the Spiritually Transformed
Seek company of the divine prophets through your experiences. Specifically, learn to project into the astral plane. Awaken your consciousness from dreams. Learn to consult with your inner God, who has all the knowledge that you need to rectify any issue.
Divinity is wise. We can go upon the [Glorian Publishing] forum and ask for help for certain issues. Really, the most that instructors can do is really teach how to practice, primarily so that people learn to become independent.
Learn how to receive help inside, to seek company of God. Divinity is a much more profound intelligence and wisdom, really, than any physical person can provide, so learn to practically experience this for yourself. Verify for yourself through dream yoga.
“One who prefers seclusion to the company of others prefers his Lord to that which is other than Him. And no-one can know what gifts and mysteries God showers upon the one who prefers his Lord.” ―Ibn ‘Arabi, The Adornment of the Spiritually Transformed
So what are these gifts? These are samadhis, dream experiences, astral consciousness, wisdom from the mental world, from the Buddhic world, from the Nirvanic worlds, from the heavenly world, the جنّة Jannah, the superior dimensions. No one could really measure their infinite profundity, their expansiveness.
“Seclusion never happens in the heart unless the heart feels an estrangement from that which one is separating from, and an intimacy with the One with whom one is secluding oneself, which is what drives one into seclusion.” ―Ibn ‘Arabi, The Adornment of the Spiritually Transformed
So the question is, what is our قِبْلَة qiblah?
We have mentioned before that in mosques, they have a niche within the walls pointing towards the Middle East, towards Mecca, towards the Kaaba, the holy stone. One prays in that direction, قِبْلَة qiblah, when one is in deep prayer within the tradition of Islam.
Esoterically speaking, قِبْلَة qiblah has to do with your concentration.
Upon what do you concentrate?
What is the quality of your concentration?
Is it sustained for long periods of time, or is it spotty? Sometimes attentive, sometimes not?
Are there more degrees of attention or less degrees?
Are we more inattentive than we are attentive?
قِبْلَة qiblah really has to do with the quality of our concentration in our prayer. The more sincere we are and analyzing our level of being and focusing on the object of our concentration, of our dedication, will determine what we are focused on, will determine our trajectory.
For most people their قِبْلَة qiblah is in television, movies, TV shows, violence, extortion, crime, etc. Therefore, what is our قِبْلَة qiblah? What is our motive? What is our center of gravity? Because Samael Aun Weor mentions that we have a psychological center of gravity, which is typically in the ego. We have to develop a permanent center of gravity within the Essence. This is our قِبْلَة qiblah. So, examine that. Meditate on that. What do you more focused on in life? What do you contemplate more than other things? What is your focus, whether physically or in your mental states, especially? Examine the relationship.
What is real silence?
Spiritual retreats have often been silent with the exception of instructions and directions during meditation. This helps us to curtail negative internal chatter, to force the practitioner to be aware of oneself in relationship with the world or with others. Many people enter retreat and while silent with the tongue, continue to chat very loudly in the mind, commenting on everything one sees.
Let's look at what Ibn ‘Arabi has to say about this in his Adornment of the Spiritually Transformed:
“Seclusion has no need of the extra condition of silence, as silence is necessarily included within it, insofar as it is silence of the tongue. As for silence of the heart, seclusion does not necessarily lead to it, since one could converse with oneself about other than God and with other than God, exalted is He. This is why we have considered silence to be one of the pillars (arkān) on the Way in its own right.” ―Ibn ‘Arabi, The Adornment of the Spiritually Transformed
So how often does our mind wander? This is something we should evaluate and examine. Reflect on this quality of being, how attentive you are, because our internal chatter tends to be very focused on specific psychological songs.
Many people, when they drive their cars or listen to the radio do so by listening to music or favorite songs. Some people even have a very specific unchanging order. They have a music playlist, whether on their iPhone, iPod, whatever it may be. And so, while we may listen to music or not, everybody has a psychological song.
What is a psychological song? It is our narrative that we tell ourselves. It is our life story. It is our epic Mahabharata, our own tale in which we are the great center, the protagonist, the hero, the martyr, upon which all of our circumstances gravitate. We tend to tell ourselves that we are wronged, victimized, blamed, whatever our particular idiosyncrasy may be. We are the great hero, while everyone else is the villain. We were right, but we were wronged, etc.
We tend to repeat our own song like a broken record. And of course it is going to be different for each person. For some people, it may be self-pity, feeling inadequate that they can succeed in life, that they have always been cheated, lie to, abused, etc.
Some people sing songs of vanity that they are always great, they are wonderful, and that people don't appreciate their integrity or compassion or altruism, whatever it may be.
We repeat our songs, even if no one wants to hear it, because in honesty, everybody else has their own psychological song. Everybody sings their own tune, so to speak.
Internal chatter, this psychological repetition of mental verbiage, has to be curtailed and ended. You don't do it by pushing the mind away or telling the mind to shut up. When you learn to observe and separate from the mind, it starts to calm. When you observe the mind and it is talking at you and chattering, but you are not giving into it, you are not feeding it, you are learning to enter silence and seclusion―real retreat.
So you could be physically at your job but learning to really enter, psychologically, an attitude and a space of meditation and retreat. This is really the foundation and the key. Separate from the mind. Self-observe your thoughts, your feelings and your actions. Stop giving your energy into desires, conditions of mind. This is because in solitude even, we have a lot of negative egos, a lot of painful temptations. When we are alone, we are by ourselves, oftentimes the worst egos emerge. This is why Samael Aun Weor stated the following in Treaties of Revolutionary Psychology:
“It is indispensable to observe oneself when alone in the same manner as when associated with people.
“Very different “I’s,” very different thoughts, negative emotions, etc., present themselves when one is alone.
“One is not always in good company when alone. It is just normal, very natural to be very badly accompanied when in complete solitude. The most negative and dangerous “I’s” present themselves when one is alone.
“If we want to transform ourselves radically, we need to sacrifice our own sufferings. Often we express our sufferings in articulated or inarticulated songs.” ―Samael Aun Weor, Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology
I am pretty sure that most people, after a while, get very tired of listening to the same tune. But ironically, in our life experience, this is not true.
We sing our songs how we are victimized and harmed and blamed and betrayed, whatever it may be, whatever our tendency is, whatever egos we like to feed most of all. We have to examine what that chatter is, what that language is, what the results are, because if you invest your energy in defeatism or vanity or whatever it may be, we don't change the situation.
We have to learn to sacrifice our own sufferings. Give up pain. Give up our attachments to pain, to egotistical states. Let's not express our suffering so much. Obviously, if there's something really traumatic and difficult, it is good sometimes to talk with people, especially when we need guidance, but that is something you have to evaluate on your own.
So it is important to remember that, like animals, our culture has us domesticated, very well-trained. We are taught to adopt behaviors and beliefs and ideologies that are contrary to our spiritual nature. These are simply beliefs, attitudes or perceptions of how life is that really don't have any basis. This is the reason why our society and our world is such a mess, because people believe reality to be a certain way. However, they don't really have any basis in experience of the consciousness.
Because we have different beliefs that conflict with reality, with our experiences, with each other, we suffer. This is because the egos of different people sing their psychological song. Everybody thinks that they are the victim. Simply look at different conflicts throughout the world where everyone, both sides of different issues, say that they are the victim, not the perpetrator. So they justify their behaviors, and likewise, we too justify everything we do. And this is the problem. We sing our songs articulately or inarticulately to ourselves. This is something that keeps us very asleep. So, it’s something to consider.
The Witnessing of Unity
What is the witnessing of unity? Some profound teachings from Ibn ‘Arabi, al-Sheikh al-Akbar, who is considered the greatest of Sufi teachers, he emphasizes some points that we have mentioned already, but which I'd like to emphasize here:
“One who makes seclusion their practice grasps the mystery of the Divine Unity (wahdāniyya). In terms of knowledges and mysteries, this brings to him the secrets of the Uniqueness (ahadiyya) insofar as it is a quality. The true spiritual state of seclusion, whether it be that of the seeker or the verifier, is to be transcendent of all attributes.” ―Ibn ‘Arabi, The Adornment of the Spiritually Transformed
So what is the uniqueness? This is الأحد al-ahad in Arabic, the unity. Or this is where we get the Shahadah, where we declare the unity of God:
لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا ٱللَّٰهُ مُحَمَّدٌ رَسُولُ ٱللَّٰهِ
la ilaha Illallah Muhammadur rasulullah
There is no God but God and Muhammad is his Prophet
This is paralleled within the Jewish tradition by the Shema.
שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ יְהוָה אֶחָֽד׃,
Shema Yisrael Iod-Havah Elohenu Iod-Havah Echad
Hear, O Israel: the LORD is our God, the LORD is One
…الأحد Ahad in Arabic or אֶחָֽד Echad in Hebrew, unity.
What does it mean when we are a verifier or seeker to experience the spiritual state of seclusion? It means to be transcendent of all attributes, meaning: egotistical qualities. We have to give up our identity as an ego. To experience the clarity of the Essence, we have to be selfless. Again, not from a state of dysphoria, of obscuration, of mental dullness, of confusion, but a state of awareness and attention and the identity of the consciousness.
Let us continue:
“The highest state of seclusion is retreat (khalwa), for it is a seclusion within seclusion, and its fruit is stronger than that of ordinary seclusion. One who makes seclusion his practice must have certainty regarding God, exalted is He, until he has no thought that will distract him and take him beyond the confines of his seclusion. If he lacks certainty, then let him prepare himself to be strong enough for seclusion, in order that his certainty may be strengthened by what is revealed to him in his seclusion.” ―Ibn ‘Arabi, The Adornment of the Spiritually Transformed
So we have talked previously about what certainty is: اليقين Al-Yaqin.
There are three forms of certainty within Islam or Sufism:
Knowledge of certainty means we understand the teachings and the scriptures, the doctrine, the wisdom, from the intellect. But the seeing of certainty has to do with when we experience these truths for ourselves, through personal, living knowledge, not through belief or from reading a book, from listening to a lecture, from reading a scripture. It is what we know through experience, through facts.
The truth of certainty has to do with when we really receive wisdom from God. We receive visions and insights from divinity that are indisputable, that are factual, without illusion, without question.
This is how we really make use of seclusion. We have to have certainty of the practices. Obviously, if we don't really understand what these teachings are about and we try to enter retreat, it can be very difficult; obviously, learning it for the first time. So we need to have some kind of development or understanding of the teaching so that we can really go deeper.
By understanding the science and the method of the practices of meditation, we have no thought that will distract us and take us beyond the confines of our seclusion. Meaning, we don't really get lost in the practices. If we lack certainty, then let us prepare ourselves to be strong enough, meaning, in this case, some meditation retreats practiced by the Sufis were very extensive, very long, very arduous, not really recommended for beginners. If you come to one of our retreats, you'll find that we have it pretty easy compared to many of the traditions, especially.
“There is no other way. This is one of the firm preconditions governing seclusion. Seclusion bequeaths knowledge of this world (dunyā).” ―Ibn ‘Arabi, The Adornment of the Spiritually Transformed
So, we gain knowledge of the world, our ego, through meditation, as we have explained in relation to retrospection meditation especially.
So in synthesis, I'd like to relate to you and provide to you a resource: a retreat schedule that you can adopt. You don't have to use it strictly in this manner. It is simply a guideline that you can use, that you can modify at will to help really deepen your spiritual life.
It is divided into morning, noon, and evening practices―some simple time frames that you can use if you have the time and the energy and the dedication to do so.
If you look at these links, you'll find different books or practices, references, resources that you can study in relation to these exercises, whether from our own Gnostic Meditation course or Meditation Essentials, the Nordic Runes, working with energy, the seven vowels, recitations at dawn, specifically, when we invoke energies of divinity, of Christ, through mantralizing, performing prayers through the Nordic yoga. Also, there is time for lectures and scriptural study―free time, of course, but also sacred rites of rejuvenation, dream yoga, Jinn practices, etc. I won't go through all of this in detail, but you can use this resource to help you if you are willing.
Recommended Sources for Meditation and Spiritual Practices
Alchemy Techniques for Married Couples
Dream Yoga Exercises
Mantras and Prayers for Protection
Meditation Courses and Resources
Pranayama for Single Practitioners
Sacred Rites of Rejuvenation
So in synthesis, it is important to understand what seclusion is. To synthesize everything we have stated, the most important principle is that if you want any type of meditation or retreat to be effective for you, learn to cultivate a space of serenity and insight. This is something that you can only do through daily consistent discipline, moment to moment awareness.
I would like to open up the floor to questions.
Questions and Answers
Question: What does it mean to sacrifice our own sufferings if you want to transform ourselves?
Instructor: Oftentimes, our pain is self-chosen, to quote Khalil Gibran in his poem The Prophet. We like to waste energy. Oftentimes we have a problem in life, a situation, and it becomes very difficult to resolve. We don't see a solution. We see that we are in darkness. We have a lot of uncertainty, a lot of pain. But stewing in the filth of our mind, by letting ourselves boil in the heat of our own negative emotions, it is not going to resolve the problem. When you give your energy unnecessarily into wrong mental states, we deepen our suffering.
Instead, it is better to step away from the problem, to separate from it, to separate from the mind, to not give your energy to negative emotion, because in reality, negative emotions are very infectious. They make ourselves sick. They make other people sick.
So you have to consider that if you are very upset with a problem, it is not going to be easy to resolve it if your mind is clouded. Therefore, we must sacrifice our sufferings. Meaning, if you're in a lot of pain and you feel like you want to just vegetate, to vacillate, to not act in a situation, to not respond in any way, to not really introspect in yourself, it can be really useful to spend that time to practice.
Sometimes, if we are in a negative emotional state, it can be very difficult to meditate. Therefore, we could do something like runes, prayer, pranayama, walks in nature, some exercise to distract our mind from the problem, and we can learn to invest our attention in a worthy cause, which is the transformation of our pain.
When I have been in very difficult, moral, ethical suffering in relation to different problems in my life, I have deepened and intensified my practice. I remember I worked at one job that was very difficult. I had a very hard time transforming the negative emotions of my clients, and I was suffering a lot because I felt inadequate to really help them. So what I would do is, when I was in a lot of pain, I would do hours of runes. I mean literally, one to two hours, sometimes even more. I would really dedicate myself to spiritual practices so that I can stop or cease my own suffering. By providing good energy into my psyche, I was able to calm down and to face my problem with equity, with clarity. This is just one method we can use.
Use the practices in our tradition that can help you, whatever is going to resonate most with you that helps you ease your pain so that you can really focus on what's important. If there is something you can't change that you are suffering about, then why suffer about it? There is no solution. But if there is a solution, then you can act effectively to change it. This is how we sacrifice our pain, because pain is not necessary. We don't have to churn in the mud, so to speak.
Question: When I am doing a concentration imagination exercise, is it okay to mantralize at the same time to clear the mental chatter, like AUM?
Instructor: Yes, it takes some skill. You know, obviously a mantra like Aum is very useful for charging our psyche with good energy. Now, if you are concentrating on the mantra, that's really good. But also, you can visualize light and energy in your heart, especially. So those can go hand-in-hand.
There are different dynamics to different practices, different mantras. Some mantras are provided with certain visualization exercises. So I recommend that whatever practices you are doing that, you know, you really fulfill them with fidelity, whatever those stipulations are in the writings of Samael Aun Weor, but if you do the mantra AUM or OM, you can visualize light in your heart, concentrate on the vibration of that mantra.
So when you perform a mantra, it is not merely just saying or reciting some sounds, but it is concentrating on the energy. It is visualizing that force in you. It is developing your focus, your perception. It is a very dynamic thing.
Question: The next question is, I try to imagine my inner Father or my Monad as a tremendous light that descends from the heavens above. Is there a more accurate vision like the light descending from the crown of the head?
Instructor: There are different visualizations. The best visualization practice is going to be any state or experience you have had internally. For example, in many cases I have meditated on my Innermost, mantralizing while imagining my Being, remembering my inner God as I perceived Him in the astral plane, even beyond.
You can visualize the Father as a light in the heart. You can even visualize that energy descending from your crown to your body. In certain runes like the runes Tyr and Bar, work like that. You are invoking the Divine Father to enter your head as you are bringing your hands downward, mantralizing the vowels Tyr, and then Bar.
So different practices have different orientations, but the important thing is that follow your intuition, what you need to work with. You can imagine a light in your heart, the mantras like O or Om, etc., but also you can imagine the light descending from the crown of the head, especially with certain mantras like INRI or the practice with Ares, if you studied the book Practical Astrology [Editor's Note: See also the mantras INRI, ENRE, ONRO, UNRU, ANRA for developing the chakras].
Question: One of my biggest temptations has been my ego constantly pushing me astray when it comes to furthering and deepening my practices. What is the best way to supplicate the higher forces to help develop will? Sometimes, conjurations work well for me, but sometimes I feel that I fall and allow my intellect to remove me from it and I fall back again into not intensifying my work and developing my will.
Instructor: I find some of the best practices for developing willpower are the runes, especially the Rune Dorn. You can stand facing towards the east when facing the sunrise or early morning hours are good for this. Place your heels together, left hand on your left side, right hand on your right hip. Pray to your inner Being to grant you the will of Christ.
Do the mantras: TA TE TI TO TU. You prolong them. Feel the vibration of those forces in you. Pray to your Divine Mother Kundalini and the Holy Spirit to empower your Essence so that it can fulfill the will of Christ.
Remember, in the story of Prophet Muhammad when Gabriel said, “Recite!” and Prophet Muhammad said, “I can’. I don't know basically how to read and write,” and Gabriel said again, “Recite!” and he says, “I do not know how,” and then the third time, Gabriel said, “Recite!” and then Prophet Muhammad said, “What shall I recite my Lord?” This is precisely a symbol of what you are talking about: how in the path we struggle to really fulfill divine will. We struggle in our practices. We feel that we are disconnected.
You can work at the Rune Dorn, especially. That is how we recite the word of divinity so that we can receive blessings from divinity above, from Gabriel, Gibur-Ra-El: our own Spirit.
You can work with the vowels or any of the seven runes, especially, for as long as you need. An hour or more if you need to. That is a very great way to energize your practice, to give you a lot of force to do other things as well, to meditate profoundly.
Question: Do you believe people can pull energy from one person to another?
Instructor: Personally, I don't believe that. It is something that I know from experience. We call those people witches, sorcerers, black magicians. They steal energy from people because they cannot create on their own. They reject the Holy Spirit, the creative power of divinity within sex. They don't learn how to cultivate their own energy, and because they are vampiric, they need to thrive off the psychic energy of others. And there are many ways that they steal vital energy from people. This is why we learn practices of conjurations and prayers to protect ourselves. You can study our lecture called Basics of Spiritual Defense on our website, especially the course Spiritual Self-Defense to learn how to protect yourself.
Question: Sometimes one feels strong when around worldly activities, such as dealing with problems and traffic, but sometimes it all seems unbearable and one feels an urgent need of solitude. Do you find this fluctuations to be normal on the path to total inner silence?
Instructor: Yes. Obviously, you have to gauge your own level of being and your needs. It can be very difficult to be around the cities for a long period of time or to be in difficult situations. This is why people enter retreat in different traditions. When we are depleted of our energy, we feel like we need to recharge. It is good to go out in nature and enter retreats or practice with like-minded people so that we can gain more force. So yes, there are periods in which it is very difficult to walk this path. It is very normal. The important thing is that we are consistent with our practices and that we can make sacrifices so that we can practice more effectively, but also get out of the world, or better said, get out of the hustle and bustle of our modern society.
Question: Thank you for this series of lectures on Sufism. Would you please introduce a few books that I can fundamentally learn more about Islam, Sufism, and contemplate and understand the link between Gnosis and Sufism? As a Muslim, I know that there is a root. All mysticism should direct to the same point. Any recommendations or suggestions would be helpful in this regard.
Instructor: So probably the best book to understand the heart of every single religious tradition is The Perfect Matrimony by Samael Aun Weor. He explains some points in which the mysteries of alchemy and sexual magic that he teaches so openly, is represented within Islam and Sufism, especially. He makes some comments in certain chapters about the Muslim initiates, especially. That's the best book that I know of that really explains the secret key within every tradition, especially Islam and Sufism.
Once you know the writings of Samael Aun Weor very deeply, especially that book, as well as The Mystery of the Golden Flower, you can pick up Sufi manuals of retreat and spiritual practice and understand what they are talking about. Some Sufi texts that I really recommend besides the Qur’an, especially, are Revelation of the Mystery by Al-Hujwiri, Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri, and The Stations of the Sufi Path by Abdullah Ansari of Herat.
If you want, you can email us and we'll send you a link to those texts. But if you look at the PowerPoint presentations, the PDFs that we are going to upload to our website, you'll find that we have constant references to these three books, especially those three Sufi texts. They are Persian Sufism, the best of Sufism, especially. Samael Aun Weor states in The Perfect Matrimony that the best of Sufism comes from Persia. So it is a very deep statement. I recommend you study those texts, especially.
Question: I recently have been struggling with pranayama. When I do it for over five minutes, my body jitters. It feels very uncomfortable. Do you recommend walking for a while before pranayama?
Instructor: Yes. It could be really good to do that. You might want to get some exercise, especially, primarily because when you start to work with your creative energies, your whole chemistry changes, literally. Your body and processes fluctuate, change. Personally, since practicing transmutation, I have experienced many changes, even in my appetite, my ability to engage in heavy work, even manual labor―you know, getting a lot of strength from the creative impulse.
Sometimes, in the beginning, it can be very difficult to adapt to the vibrations of the sexual energy. They are very powerful. Sometimes with pranayama, we can feel very charged to the point that we become jittery, like you are drinking a very big cup of coffee or an espresso. So, I recommend do short practices. You know, get some physical exercise, especially. Maybe even walk in nature if you can. Ham-Sah is very good for when you are walking out in the middle of the woods, if you have the opportunity. I like to do that when I take a long hikes since it helps me to keep my body and blood circulating, but also circulate the energies as well. Or you can practice in more short spurts. If you feel that you are getting uncomfortable, take a break, but later jump back into the practice so that you can acculturate your body. Learn to make your body adapt to that inward and upward flow of force.
Question: Also, this person said that I feel the energy to be overwhelming. Do you recommend cutting down on meat?
Instructor: Yes, if you find that you have too much fire (the Tattva Tejas from The Panchatattva Ritual) and it is difficult to control, cut down on meat. Limit your meat intake. Sometimes a change in diet can help with that.
Question: When you are in a state of remembrance of the Being, do you put your attention on your heart, breath, or imagine something?
Instructor: Remembrance is a very profound and beautiful quality that is very dynamic. This is something that we are going to dedicate an entire lecture to in this course within the coming weeks.
When you are remembering your Being, when you are self-observing yourself throughout the day, you should be aware of your pineal gland, especially. This is the seat of the soul. This is where we look out into our external world, but also our internal world.
Remembrance of the Being is also a quality of the heart. You are observing from your third eye or the pineal gland, especially, introspecting within and perceiving within your internal states in relation to external events. So you are perceiving through the senses, but also you are exercising your internal senses, your psychological sense of understanding thought, feeling, and will.
Remembrance, more importantly, is a quality of your superior emotional center, and this has to do with emotions that are very subtle and pure. Obviously, in the beginning we struggle to understand or taste that state, but is something that you can learn to cultivate by doing pranayama, working with breath, in which your body settles. Your mind settles. Your imagination clarifies.
You can sit down in your practice of visualization, but also mantra, pranayama. You are concentrating on your breath and you are visualizing the energy flowing in you. In this way, you are remembering your Being. You are becoming aware of the energies of God in you and how they flow inside. So this is dynamic. This is a very integral process.
We sometimes teach these practices in different ways because people have different needs and also because the capacity of the consciousness is very broad and spatial. It is vast. When you get adept at imagination exercises and remembrance of divinity, you can learn to focus on your breath, your heart, your third eye, and your body at the same time. But in the beginning, it could be good to focus on one or the other, so that you have enough stable concentration to focus.
Sometimes focusing on the breath is enough. It is very easy to do that with practice and it is difficult in the beginning because we haven't been trained yet. So whatever exercise you adopt for concentration, it could be very good to simply focus on your breathing with pranayama or do an imagination exercise such as the candle, or mantralize the vowel O. Be aware of your breath, but also imagine a light in your heart. These are all states of remembrance.
When you are really focused, when you are really in prayer, you are obviously going to be engaging different practices throughout the day, but the most consistent practice in the state of remembrance is self-observation, self-remembrance. You do that by focusing on your pineal gland, but also learning to respond to life ethically. Remember your heart, your conscience.
Question: Regarding laziness, I sometimes feel I have so much energy to practice, to read, to contemplate, etc., etc., but some other time it happens that I have not much energy to do the practices, although deep inside I feel so much need to practice meditation. What is your opinion about this so much back and forth?
Instructor: It is the ego, the resistance of the mind. Our desires know that their life is threatened through this spiritual work, and so we face resistance of the mind. We know what is best. We know what we need to do. We feel the inquietude in our heart to practice deeply. However, because the ego knows that through these exercises it is going to be eliminated, it fights. We feel laziness. We feel depleted. We don't feel enthusiastic. We feel uninspired, etc. That is because the mind. Our own inner satan knows that its life is threatened. And so it challenges us at every step.
The solution is to comprehend where that laziness is coming from. Look within to see where it is in you and what activities your mind avoids. Sometimes not being inspired has to do with a lack of energy. This is why I like to do runes, especially. They give you a lot of force, a lot of power. They can push you to really meditate deeply, which is why we emphasize those practices again and again in this course, but also especially in our resources in this lecture, especially. You know, sometimes the way to resolve the problem is to put more fuel in your car. If you want to drive to a certain destination, you got to fuel up. You do that with working with the creative energies. That is how you are going to have the strength necessary to overcome obstacles.
Question: Must all runes be performed with a specific accompanying physical posture or can vocalizations be made like mantras while seated in a meditation posture?
Instructor: There are certain mantras that you can do on your own when you are seated, but the real benefit of the runes is that they are engaging forces in nature as a result of our physical position. They are a form of yoga, and when combined with prayer, concentration, awareness, attention, and remembrance, we learn to cultivate energy in our body, in our mind and heart.
Question: Also, where can I find the best description or perhaps video instruction about the runic postures and mantras? And also I am finding the runes that are paired with others?
Instructor: There is a video on Glorian Publishing’s website that show the seven vowels, especially. That is one of the primary practices we do, but perhaps in the future we will have other instructional videos that teach how to do all the runes. That would be something very useful for people, I think. The best way to perform the runes is as described in The Magic of the Runes by Samael Aun Weor. That book explains how the runes are paired, which practice has to do with what, and how to do them in very clear and simple directions.
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