<![CDATA[Chicago Gnosis - Lectures]]>Fri, 21 Jan 2022 22:48:49 -0600Weebly<![CDATA[Why Do We Dream?]]>Sun, 16 Jan 2022 04:06:49 GMThttp://chicagognosis.org/lectures/why-do-we-dream
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<![CDATA[The Hermit and Relationships]]>Sun, 19 Dec 2021 02:16:35 GMThttp://chicagognosis.org/lectures/the-hermit-and-relationships
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Today we will be discussing the hermit, which is a spiritual archetype often associated with an initiate: a person who enters a spiritual path seeking to initiate or begin a new life, a new spiritual development within themselves. As a hermit is often associated with solitude and loneliness, it is also interesting that today's talk is going to cover the importance of relationships, not just from a mundane perspective, but especially from a spiritual perspective of how relationships can help us on our spiritual journey.
 
The basic idea of relationships in psychology is that they can be extremely important and helpful for your mental health and your physical health as well. If you have really good relationships in your life, you are at a greater advantage of healing faster, living longer, and having better health outcomes with regards to mental illness or physical problems as well. In addition to that, if you have got a lot of toxic, negative, or stressful relationships in your life, then that can hinder your physical health. People who are extremely withdrawn and isolated also tend to live shorter lives, to have more health problems.
 
So how do we understand this seeming contradiction between becoming a spiritual hermit―a person who is advancing on a higher level of being and living seemingly in isolation―with the idea that relationships are really important parts of life, that we are living in a society where we need to interact healthily with other people?

​Regarding Abusive Relationships

All of us have relationships at different levels. It is also important to say up front that sometimes relationships can be abusive. So what I am talking about today is living a healthy spiritual life and having healthy relationships that aid our spiritual development. I want to be very explicit, up front, that if anyone is in an abusive relationship, we are not condoning staying in an abusive relationship. If you are in a relationship where someone is threatening to harm you or to harm others, if someone is exhibiting controlling behaviors, or of course, if there is physical or sexual violence in a relationship, then it is very important to seek community resources or professional help to determine what is the best way for you to safely remove yourself from that type of relationship.
 
Sometimes people will stay in a relationship thinking they are doing the right thing because they love their partner and they want to sacrifice for their partner and serve their partner, even when they are being abused. But in an abusive relationship, not only are you harming yourself by staying in that relationship, but you are also allowing the other person to continue to commit a harmful action that is not good for their spiritual journey either.
 
So just to state up front and very explicitly that the relationships we are talking about today and overcoming difficulties or criticisms in relationships are not pertaining to abusive relationships, which we definitely believe that people should seek resources in their community, to get help and to get out of those types of relationships.

​Why Study Our Relationships?

But abusive relationships aside, we all probably have at least a few relationships in our life that have some unpleasantness in them, where people can really push our buttons or criticize us, or people are not giving us what we think we want or deserve from them, like respect, or admiration. So many people who are seeking a spiritual path are sometimes seeking a chance to escape from relationships or family obligations and say, “Well, I am above that because I am on a spiritual path.” That can be a problem because we are in relationships for a reason.
 
Relationships are an opportunity to learn about ourselves. Many times we can not see ourselves clearly and other people see things in us that we do not want to see. So criticism can be the best way to start propelling our spiritual journey. Tests and ordeals with other people, conflicts with other people, if we know how to transform that, if we know how to study ourselves and our behaviors in meditation, to really understand what is going on in our dynamic with another person or a group of people, we can see something new about ourselves that can give us the choice of if we want to continue with that characteristic or behavior in ourselves or if we want to change it and adopt something healthier. 
 
That is the whole journey of spiritual transformation right? ― finding what in us we would like to change, we would like to get rid of, some of what we consider to be harmful, or negative, or dragging us down―not in other people, not in the relationships as much as in ourselves. We never really have power over other people, so we have to maximize the power that we have over ourselves to be able to change our lives.
 
I have verified in my life that when I significantly change my own attitudes about people, my own tendencies and behaviors towards people, that it radically changes the relationship that I have with those people. Not every relationship is going to change in a huge substantial way, but at least in small ways, we can make a big difference in our relationship if we are trying to improve ourselves, rather than just getting frustrated and just blaming other people all the time.
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​Karma and Relationships

​So where do relationships come from? Well, there are two sorts of relationships in life: inherited relationships, like the family that you are born into or that you are raised by, and then relationships that we choose or at least we seem to choose.
 
We feel a connection to a certain person and we think, “I am going to become friends with them,” or “I am going to date them.”
 
So these relationships, of choice or inheritance, really have their root in karma. In this esoteric tradition, we talk a lot about past lives and how the actions of past lives can be carried over, how that energy, the consequences of past actions, carries over when we incarnate into a new physical body.
 
So with our relationships and our family especially, there are very important karmic ties. The past actions, whatever wrongs we committed, or whatever good deeds we did, can determine the quality of what relationships we have in this life. Also, the character that we carry with us from life to life can determine which relationships we choose or whom we feel attracted to, what we are looking for.
 
If we had a really strong desire in a past life to be with a certain type of person, we can carry that with us and then seek out that type of person in this life. Sometimes this can be to our benefit, but a lot of times this is to our detriment. We are caught in a cycle of pain and are being drawn to the wrong types of people, whether as friends or romantic partners, and we do not know why we can not break out of that cycle.
 
It is really important to understand the origin of our relationships. Through meditation and some serious work on oneself, you can start to penetrate into the memories of your past lives. But even if we can not do that, we can study our present life to really understand something about what has drawn us into these relationships, whether by choice or inheritance. We can understand what we need to change in ourselves in this life to have better relationships in our future lifetimes. 
 
Samael Aun Weor is the founder of this modern Gnostic movement, and he wrote in his book Beyond Death about three types of marriage bonds. I think this applies to all relationships, even beyond marriage. But of course, the person that you marry is a very significant bond, so that is kind of the archetype that we are looking at here.
 
Here is what he stated:
There are three types of marriage bonds: first, karmic; second, dharmic; and third cosmic. The first type consists of pain, misery, hunger, nakedness, disgrace. The second consists of success, happiness, love, economic progress, etc. And the third is only for the chosen souls, pure, holy: the third brings as it is natural, inexhaustible happiness. ―Samael Aun Weor, Beyond Death
So if we are thinking about karmic relationships, they bring us a lot of pain and they have important lessons because, probably, there were some traits that we brought with us from this lifetime or actions that we committed in past lifetimes that are causing the same cycle to repeat in this lifetime. By studying the nature of the relationship that brings you pain, the role that you are playing in perhaps perpetuating or causing more pain in that relationship, and then choosing to change―even if in this lifetime you can not salvage the relationship, even if something happens to end that relationship or it is necessary to end that relationship if it is abusive―it could mean that in a future lifetime your relationship with that particular person could be very different, because you acted from a place of compassion or wisdom rather than just unconsciousness, repeating the same frustrated desires and selfish intentions.
 
The second would be what would be the outcome of those types of changes: dharmic relationships where we feel real inspiration from the other person, support and success and happiness with the other person.
 
Finally this type of cosmic relationship would be a relationship had by an initiate: a person who is really on another level, a person who has really tapped into that divine path and is really going beyond the mundane idea of a healthy good life and is really stepping into a spiritual life that is superior to that.
 
I would like you to take a moment to reflect on your most important relationship. Which of the three is it and what would you like it to become?
 
It is really important to take some time to apply teachings to our real life and not just think about them as an idea, but to see how any type of spiritual teaching gives us an opportunity to understand our own struggles, our own suffering, and gives us an opportunity to change.

​The Relationships of an Initiate

​The key to healthy spiritual relationships is the whole purpose in the work of an initiate. It is interesting that the hermit symbolizes solitude. That does not necessarily mean that if we become an initiate, we are going to run away to the mountains and escape all of our problems and never see our family and friends again. We may be an initiate living anonymously here in the world, fulfilling our obligations in society and helping people without anyone being aware.
 
The key to that is the renunciation of self-interest. It is not just to have healthy relationships which we can learn through basic psychology, but to really go above and beyond that and to be a spiritual servant to all the people around us, whether they are an enemy, a friend, a family member, or a stranger. It means to really see that one person has the power to make an extreme difference in the world and in other people's lives, if they are a person who has been able to develop some spiritual virtue, a strong character, and the willingness to sacrifice for others.
 
That is why we hear about a parable "The Great Pearl,” where a merchant went everywhere searching for a pearl of great value and then when he found it, he renounced everything and gave up his life for this pearl. It does not mean that we are going to give up our physical life and our relationships, but rather that we renounce our psychological attachment to relationships.
 
A lot of times when we are seeking a relationship or a friendship, we are thinking about “what I can get out of it,” “what is this person going to give to me?” and “what are the benefits I am going to get from this relationship?” That is the opposite of what an initiate would be thinking if they were to enter into a relationship. An initiate coming from a place of compassion does not need anything from the other person, but has their own inner strength coming from divinity.
 
When we have been really able to establish ourselves in our spiritual connection to divinity, then whatever misfortunes or fortunes might befall us in life, we know that all of that is temporary. Relationships will come and go. Even the strongest, longest-lasting relationship will end with death. We have to have a more permanent relationship, and the only permanent relationship is the soul's relationship to divinity. If we are establishing that, then we would have the courage to renounce the desires for worldly things: fame, money, lust, pride, vanity, all of the things that we might think are going to give us what we want from life.
 
When we renounce our desire for those things, then we stop hurting people, because when you think about the people who have hurt you the most or the times when you have hurt people the most, it is often because you have been driven by a desire. You wanted something from them or they wanted something from you. If we can get that self-interest out of the relationship, then there can be a true harmony of souls, even if the other person is not at that same level and they are still self-interested.
 
You can see it so much more clearly when you are not blinded by your own egotism and your own self-interest. You can really see what their intentions are, and you can have compassion for them, and you can approach the relationship with wisdom, and prudence, and understand a better way to have a healthy interaction with them.
 
But most of the time, people who enter spiritual paths struggle a lot with their relationships. Maybe they are going through a lot of changes. Their spiritual journey isn't understood by their current friends and family, and so a lot of people just give up. They say, “My family does not understand me,” “They do not support me in what I am trying to do now,” and they just try to end all of their relationships. Rather than changing psychologically and changing their attitudes towards the people who are not understanding what they are going through, they decide to just physically remove themselves from those people.
 
If that is an abusive relationship, that could be a really good idea, but in a lot of cases, people just can not stand the criticism, or that people are not respecting, or understanding what they are experiencing in their spiritual life. But we lose through that action the opportunity to grow and change with the people who are in our lives for a reason. They are in our lives because of some kind of previous action, relationship, or cause, and so instead of understanding: “Why are these people in my life? Why do I have this conflict with them? Why do I have these attitudes towards them?” ― people just run away, and that is really a disadvantage for spiritual life.

​Balancing Relationships

Question: How do you deal with people who do not have compassion, and by being a compassionate person and unconditionally wanting to help them, you feel you become drained and exhausted? When do you get to the point where you say, “I can not take that!” and I have to look out for myself?
 
Instructor: So what is important if we do not have that kind of spiritual strength yet, we all have spiritual aspirations. We want to get that connection to divinity. But maybe we think “I am not there yet, and these people are really draining me,” or we are around people who are toxic, and they are trying to drain you, because they are trying to manipulate you, and get something from you.
 
So as I mentioned earlier, if we do not have self-interest involved, then we have no problem stepping away from a person like that. Even if it is a family member, we might lessen the amount of time that we have to be around that person, but take advantage of the times when we do have to be around them, to learn something. If we need a break, if that person is sucking us dry, we can step back and take some time away from that person.
 
Really, it is aspirational that we get to the point that we get everything that we need from divinity. But on the path, there are going to be a lot of those types of ordeals, and questions like “How should I be interacting with this person?”
 
Well, we can never really sacrifice our own well-being for the sake of serving someone else's desires. The problem is people say, “I want this from you,” and we think the right thing to do is to give people what they want, and that is service for that person. But many times people want something that is not actually good for them. If people are wanting to just have somebody around that they can beat up on, or have somebody around that they can use to get everything that they want from them all the time, then it is not in our interest to be that for someone.
 
We have to recognize that the right thing to do is to step away from that person and to stop giving them our energy, because if we are giving all of our energy to a person who is abusing that gift, then we are not using that energy to develop ourselves. I will talk in a few slides about changing where we are directing our energy and how that helps us a lot in those types of situations. But if our relationships are not that bad, if our relationships are not draining us dry, and we do have a place where we can kind of have our sanctuary, our home, a space where we can separate from people for a while to be able to do our spiritual work, then we can also use the obligations of our ordinary life as a chance to develop our character.
 
Spiritual work is very difficult and requires a lot of strength of character, and a lot of willpower. We might need a break from people to really heal and to restore our energy. A healing retreat can be a way to do that. But if we go away on retreat for ten years and then we re-enter society, and we still have all the same problems that we left with, it is because we have not really changed.
 
That is why I advocate for a reciprocal notion of healing yourself, taking the time to do your spiritual work, and maybe that is in isolation, or maybe that is with a spiritual group, but also to not run away from the world and the duties that we have to be a good citizen.

​Responsibility in Our Relationships

​Gurdjieff gave a teaching about this that I would like to share. Gurdjieff was a teacher of western esoterism. He talks about the common man as a sort of archetype that many people look down upon. Here is exactly what he said:
People who are definitely thinking about [spiritual] ways, particularly people of intellectual ways, very often look down on the obyvatel [common man], and in general, despise the virtues of the [common man]. But they only show by this their own personal unsuitability for any [spiritual] way whatsoever. Because no [spiritual] way can begin from a level lower than the common man. This is very often lost sight of in people who are unable to organize their own personal lives. Those who are too weak to struggle with, and conquer life, dream of the [spiritual] ways, or what they consider are [spiritual] ways because they think it will be easier for them than life. And because this so to speak justifies their weakness and their adaptability, a man who can be a good [common man] is much more helpful from the point of view of the [spiritual] way than a tramp who thinks himself much higher than a [common man]. I call ‘tramps’ all the so-called intelligentsia-artists, poets, any kind of bohemian in general who despises the [common man], and at the same time who would be unable to exist without him. The ability to orientate oneself in life is a very useful quality from the point of view of the [spiritual] work. A good [common man] should be able to support at least twenty persons by his own labor. What is a man worth who is unable to do this? ―Gurdjieff, quoted in P. D. Ouspensky's In Search of the Miraculous
I was mentioning about people who look at spirituality as a way out of life and a way out of their problems rather than seeing that life and the problems that it presents to us, whether through our job, or our relationships, or our family, is actually the way into the spiritual world. The spiritual world is not somewhere floating outside of our world and we are trying to escape there, but rather that we are using the challenges of our life to be able to develop ourselves and our spiritual strength.
 
We see this echoed in another passage from the founder of this tradition, Samael Aun Weor, when he talks about the requisite, the requisite to become a spiritual initiate: a person who really is trying to transcend just the common man, the good ordinary common person that can contribute a lot to society. Not only can he or she care for their family and make a difference in the world in a small way, but make the sacrifice to perform a higher service.
 
To become an initiate is the ultimate sacrifice that a human can make. We can look at a person like Jesus or Buddha, prophets and saints who really gave their lives to God but also in service of humanity. Any person who gives their life to God but then runs away and escapes from society and never deals with people again is not really achieving the goal. The goal of developing spiritually is so that we have something to give back to the world. That takes a lot of preparation and a lot of work.
 
Just like if you wanted to become the best at a certain job like a doctor, you would have to study extensively. You would have to train and practice your skillset for years to become the best at that. For some reason, people think that being an initiate is different from that, that it is just innately, “I am better than other people and I am a spiritual person,” when really, the work of an initiate requires a lot of training, a lot of practice, a lot of self-reflection and knowledge over the years. That all begins with our current life, with our challenges, with our relationships most importantly, and having a mirror to look at ourselves.
 
He mentions that we need to become a good head of household. So even if we are not currently in a relationship, or the head of a family, how are we being a good head of household towards other people?
 
It is also important not to get too fanatic. We get excited about our spiritual life. We get excited about the journey that we are on, and then if we get fanatic, we try to force other people to be in a place where they are not. That can be harmful to our relationships and it can be harmful to other people.
 
The most important rule of white magic is that you respect the free will of others. You are not here to seek power to control other people, to get everything that you want from other people, but you are in this spiritual work to improve yourself, to benefit yourself, and then thereby to be a benefit to others because your level of being is always improving and elevating. 
 
In the beginning, it can be hard to just establish the foundation in our physical life. Like I said, the aspiration we have to become an initiate might seem unrealistic from where we are sitting today, but all of that begins by gradually day by day reflecting on our lives, reflecting on the choices we are making, the relationships we have, the attitudes we have, and transforming that, transforming ourselves. Samael Aun Weor wrote:
The crude reality of facts demonstrates to us that many are those who have not comprehended the transcendence of the Gnostic esoteric work, and that great majorities are not good heads of households.
 
When one is not a good head of household, it is clear that one is not prepared to enter onto the path of the razor’s edge. In order to work on the revolution of the dialectic, one needs to have reached the level of being a good head of household.
 
A fanatic, lunatic, whimsical type of person, etc., cannot be good for an integral revolution. A subject who does not fulfill the duties of his home cannot achieve the great change. A person who is a bad father, a bad wife, a bad husband, or a person who abandons his home for whichever man or woman, will never be able to arrive at a radical transformation.
 
The cornerstone of revolutionary psychology requires that one has a perfect equilibrium at home by being a good spouse, a good parent, a good sibling, and a good child. One must have perfect completion of his duties that exist with this suffering humanity. One must convert himself into a decent person.
 
Whoever does not fulfill these requirements will never be able to advance in these revolutionary studies. ―Samael Aun Weor, The Revolution of the Dialectic
So if we find ourselves feeling a lot of anger or animosity towards people, if we find that we constantly struggle with wounded pride, like people are not respecting us enough, that is where we need to start, by converting ourselves, by changing those vices into virtues, and finding out:
 
“What is good in this person that I can really love, to transform this relationship?”
 
“How can I have humility with this person and compassion for this person?”
 
Or if it is a situation where the person is draining us, and it is not a good relationship, then:
 
“How do I develop the strength to stop this person, to remove myself, or to stand up for myself in a healthy way that does not allow the person to continue harming themselves and me through their wrong actions?”
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​We think of the spiritual path as a sort of vertical line through life, that one can go up spiritually, and that one can go down spiritually. While we are progressing through our physical life, which is the horizontal line of life, we are aging. We are maturing physically. We are developing.
 
But are we maturing and developing spiritually? Today if I am at one level of being―let's say, hopefully, I am a decent person, I am a good common woman―then ten years from now, will I have developed in my spiritual life? ― when I am at a higher level of being, when I am experiencing happiness and genuine love for others, strength of character, virtues, and able to live that in my life? Or ten years from now, will I be at a lower level of being where I am immeshed in suffering, where I have all kinds of attachments and desires to people or worldly situations that are never going to be fulfilled, and just cause me more pain by wanting them all the more?
 
It is good to reflect on why we are starting off with a good foundation, and also where do we intend to go. If we are only seeking worldly things, we may accumulate a lot physically in our life, but when we die, all of that is gone. If we are seeking spiritual development, then whatever we accumulate we will carry with us into future lifetimes. This is the goal and it is also the work.
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​The Three Tools of the Hermit

​We aspire to become the initiate, the archetype that is represented in Arcanum 9 in the tarot, the Hermit. The Hermit encloses the secrets by which we can gradually become like that. Nothing in nature occurs overnight, so we should expect that just like with any other skill, or any other level of development, that it takes time and it takes effort. Meditation especially is a very important science for those who seek to really know and to understand themselves, and to change.
 
The three tools of the Hermit can give us a clue into what we are working toward, and also how to work toward it.
 
The first is the lamp of Trismegistus, which Eliphas Levi explains, “is reason illuminated by science.”
 
The second is the mantle, or the cloak of Apollonius, which is “full and complete self-possession.”
 
The third is the staff of the patriarchs. It is the “help of the secret and everlasting forces of nature.”

​The Lamp of Wisdom

​When we are working on this path, we need first to begin with the lamp of Trismegistus. That reason is related to our intellectual brain or ideas or understanding.
 
Do we have wisdom, or do we feel constantly confused and in ignorance?
 
The real illumination of our mind comes from divinity. So working with prayer, working with spiritual practice, working with meditation, is what is going to allow us to gain that lamp, that lantern, through which we are guided.
 
Most importantly of all, we are guided by our conscience, and if we ignore our conscience over years and years and years, that voice can become very silent. We need to work to reactivate that voice of the conscience, and spiritual practices and prayer are a great method to do that.
 
Really dedicating some time every day to divinity, towards your relationship with divinity through that practice and prayer, is really essential to reawaken our conscience. Then when we have our conscience awake, we allow that to be the light that guides us through life―to know what is right, to know when we need to end a relationship, or when we need to go and heal a relationship.
 
All of that comes from our conscience, and all of that can vary by situation. That is why no one can give you a one-size-fits-all. You know your relationship best of all. You know yourself, and you are the one that can meditate and have divinity guide you on what you should do in that relationship.

​The Mantle of Prudence

The second tool that the Hermit has is the mantle or cloak. Eliphas Levi states that the mantle of Apollonius is “full and complete self-possession, which isolates the sage from blind tendencies.”
 
When we are controlled by our desires, we are blind, spiritually speaking, because those desires can guide us into all kinds of problems and difficult situations. We do not know how to get out of it because we are just driven by desire, and that is what keeps it spinning, keeps the cycle going, turns the wheel of suffering as we learn about in Buddhism.
 
To have full and complete self-possession is to not only not be controlled by other people, but most importantly, to not be controlled by our own desires. Perhaps someone comes along and they tempt me with a proposition. For example, they are going to give me a promotion at my job where I will have a lot more power, and a lot more money, but in order to get that promotion, they want me to manipulate or hurt someone else, maybe their enemy. Well, if I am driven by the desire for power and control, then I am going to give in to that demand. I am going to maybe get what I want materially, but lose something of extreme value to me spiritually.
 
If I am in full and complete self-possession, then no matter what temptation that person might offer to me, I follow the lamp of my conscience and I do what is right. That is a truly powerful person. That is a person who is not manipulated by their worldly desires and attachments. That person can not be controlled by anyone. They might be killed, dying for what they believe is right, but they have true power in that they are self-possessed.
 
That is really important in relationships because when we talk about that renunciation and the self-sacrifice that is necessary to have a really healthy spiritual relationship with someone, that is only possible if we also have this full and complete self-possession. As long as we want something from the other person, then we are at risk of being manipulated or falling into the trap of our own desire.

​The Staff of the Patriarchs

​The final one is the staff of the patriarch. In this teaching, we talk about the forces of nature, and how nature is constantly creating. We see cycles of birth, growth, maturity, decay, and death. Nature is always creating and destroying. In the same way, we have a force of creation within us, which is talked about in a lot of different lectures. But to summarize, our force of creation, to create life, is in our sexual energy. If we work with practices to redirect our sexual energy, inward, up the spinal column, and into the brain, this can illuminate us. This can re-establish our connection to divinity. That is the staff. The staff is the symbol, esoterically, of the spinal column. The magic wand of the magician is the spinal column.
 
When we have that help of those secret (because all of this knowledge has been occult for a long time), everlasting forces of nature, we develop true willpower. We develop a willpower that can stand against the world, even when the world is fighting very hard to force us to do what is wrong. If we think about where we direct our energy, a lot of energy is expended chasing desires. There is a certain amount of energy we have to expend every day for our physical life, to fulfill our duties and our obligations, to work at our job, or to go to school, or take care of our family, or our partner. That requires energy, but when there is no attachment there, when there is not a ton of egotistical desire that is craving, we are losing a lot less energy than would be normally expended.
 
For many people nowadays, our mind is always running, running, running, and our emotions are always being stimulated by one thing or another. That causes a lot of burnout and drain, where we have nothing left to give to our spiritual work. We sit to meditate and we are just exhausted. It is really important to look at the things that we really desire and to lay them on the altar before divinity, and give up our desire for those worldly things as the payment for the one pearl of great value, which is our soul.
 
If we really want to claim our spiritual development to the highest pitch, we can not have competing interests. We can not have a bunch of other things that we want along with it. Now that is the reality that we are at. We want a bunch of other things. We need to work on that over time. We need to look at what we want, and ask ourselves if it is really going to produce benefit.
 
If I have a lot of anger towards a certain person and “I really want revenge,” “I really want to hurt them,” and I continue to act on that for ten years, what is going to happen? What is going to be the outcome of acting on that desire? Well, a lot of pain for me, and for them, really nothing of spiritual benefit. In fact, a lot of spiritual detriment in this case.
 
But if I have a longing to become a better person, to do better in my job―because I have a job that is serving other people in one way or another, and I continue to invest in that longing, that natural longing of the soul over ten years―who will I become, and what will be the outcome?
 
So every day we can meditate on what we see in our day, what kind of emotions come up, what are we seeing in our relationships, and to reflect and ask ourselves from the point of view of our own conscience: is this really helping us on our spiritual journey, or is this harming us?

​The Four Conditions to Attain the Holy Kingdom

​In addition to these three tools, Eliphas Levi taught four conditions to attain the sanctum regnum, which is the holy kingdom, the kingdom of God, the kingdom of heaven that exists within our physical life. That even within our physical life as we are moving along that horizontal line of existence, we can be also ascending into heavenly states of consciousness, increasing our wisdom, increasing our spiritual wakefulness, and our ability to see the truth of things, even spiritual powers.
 
The four conditions that Eliphas Levi teaches us help us to attain the knowledge and power of the magi. They are:
 
  1. An intelligence illuminated by study,
  2. An intrepidity which nothing can check,
  3. A will which can not be broken, and
  4. A prudence which nothing can corrupt and nothing intoxicate.
 
To know, to dare, to will, to keep silence; such are the four words of the magus inscribed upon the four symbolical forms of the sphinx. ―Eliphas Levi, Transcendental Magic: Its Doctrine and Ritual
 
“To know is an intelligence illuminated by study.” Not just study of books and scriptures which can be helpful, but especially study of ourselves, because that is how we can really transform. As much as we might believe or feel inspired by something that we read in a book, we will never really verify it unless it is something we ourselves have lived.
 
That is why the best way to study spiritually is to study each night by meditating on our day.
 
What did we see in ourselves?
 
What did we see in other people?
 
What suffering did we experience or what suffering did we witness?
 
What good deeds did we witness or do, and what were the effects of that?
 
That is where everything begins, and that is what re-awakens the heart and the conscience, and allows us to really change as a person in a positive direction. It is to not try to become a better person because we want more from the world, but to be less self-absorbed and therefore establish a greater character of the soul. It is to allow the soul to grow and thrive, instead of an egotistical sense of self.
 
The second, “To dare, which is an intrepidity which nothing can check.” So this does not mean to just argue with everyone and to be stubborn and never do what everybody else wants you to do. Sometimes that can actually be a big problem. What might be the right thing to do is to sacrifice what our pride wants, and to find a compromise, or to find a way to be agreeable with other people.
 
This type of daring that he is talking about is to dare to do what is right―to not be stopped by any kind of threat, temptation, or desire that we have from the world, but rather to have the courage to do what is right, to have the courage to sacrifice even some of our most longed-for dreams if we really come to understand that they are not going to produce real benefit for ourselves or for others.
 
We need a lot of willpower for that. “A will that can not be broken” is unified will. That is why we see again and again the symbol that the hermit renounced everything and only dedicates themselves to spiritual development. Because as long as we have our will going in fifteen different directions, then we are never going to really be able to advance consistently in the direction of spiritual development. We might take two steps in that direction and then one step on a side path, and then we will never really get to where we are trying to go. That will is really related to the power of the staff in the spinal column. 
 
Finally “to keep silence” doesn't just mean to not talk about the things that we are experiencing, although sometimes it is very prudent to not talk about the things you are experiencing if other people are not going to understand, and it is not really going to benefit them. If we are just talking about what we are going through because we are excited about it and we want everyone to know what we are experiencing, then that can be a very harmful choice. Many initiates kept extreme silence and privacy in their lives even if they had worldly obligations that they were fulfilling, because they understood that talking about spiritual things with people who are not in the same place, or not interested, can create a lot of conflict, problems, and even persecution.
 
But importantly, this means “to keep silence” as an act of emotional and intellectual self-possession, to be able to be prudent and not be corrupted by things in the world, to not be intoxicated by our own desires or what other people might offer to us, but rather to always keep our heart and our mind focused on being a benefit to other people.
 
This is a constant process of renouncing―renouncing what we want every day for the benefit of someone else. That does not mean that we will never experience happiness, or that we will never have positive relationships where other people are admiring or loving us, but that we renounce the attachment to it so that if the person that loves us today, tomorrow says, “I hate you and I never want to see you again,” we allow that. We understand. We have the psychological hermitage, in which we can separate from the world and understand that everything in life is temporary. What is wonderful today could be bitter tomorrow. That is ok as long as we are learning from both of them and changing spiritually. 
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​Conclusion

​So to conclude I would like to take a look at these two archetypes here from the tarot. We have the Hermit, Arcanum 9, which we have been looking at, and we can see that he is a wise old man, wise with age. And on the left, we have a picture of the Fool, a young man.
 
Well, some of the key differences to reflect on here are first the lamp. The Fool has no lamp, and in fact, he is right on the edge of the cliff, because he is not illuminated by divinity, or by his own conscience. He could very easily fall to his death.
 
The Fool also carries a staff, but that staff has the baggage of the world: all of his attachments, all of his desires. Rather than supporting himself on the staff, the staff is weighing him down. He is carrying those desires with him and is setting off on a journey, but without a real understanding of where he is going.
 
Finally the clothing; we do not know what the Hermit is hiding underneath his cloak. He is prudent. He is keeping the mystery of his Being and his development hidden from the world, and doing that work in secret, whereas the Fool is showing off and wearing beautiful clothing, trying to make an impression with everybody with how great he is.
 
I say this as a warning, not just to reflect ― “Which one are we more like?” ― but also to understand there are people in the world who are on spiritual paths, but are the path of the Fool, spiritual paths that seek power and have a lot of worldly attachments and investment, people who will show off to try to gain followers.
 
If we are seeking that from our spiritual work, that we can become this beautiful figure with a lot of power to manipulate and control other people, and get what we want or gain worldly things, then that is considered black magic. That is considered using all the gifts and resources at our disposal, but doing something that is going to harm people, and in turn, will harm us.
 
Whereas, the Hermit is the path of white magic, the path that is not seeking to gain any glory or fame for himself, but is sacrificing everything, is renouncing everything psychologically in order to lean on the staff of divinity, to use all of the illumination and resources that we are given by divinity to walk the bitter, lonely path of spiritual development.
 
This path can produce the real lasting happiness of the soul. But if we ask ourselves: “Why is the Hermit in solitude?” ― it is because the spiritual work can be painful.
 
There are parts of us that do not want to give up the things which we cling to in our lives. Even if we recognize that when we die, we are going to lose all that anyway, something in us does not want to give it up, does not want to let it go. When the Hermit cuts away those attachments to the world, that can be a very painful process. The spiritual path can be very lonely, because even if you have relationships, you are always aware that your self-interest and your attachment to that person is of harm to them. You are always separating from that person to protect them, and also to protect yourself and your spiritual development. That can be a path of loneliness and solitude. But it is the path on which we can enter into a higher level of being. So that is where we all begin.

​Questions and Answers

Question: Do you believe that the Hermit can have a healthy relationship and love?
 
Instructor: Yes, absolutely! I am glad you asked about that. So, we probably will have relationships in our life that are healthy, especially as we are changing. As we are becoming better people, we attract people towards us who might be resonating at that level. As we change our behaviors and start in healthier behaviors, we are going to be around other people who have those healthier behaviors, and that is good. That can really be of benefit to us in our life. But the question is, are we attached to that?
 
Because at any moment that could change, or that could be lost. Are we going to lose everything we have developed in our self as a result of losing that relationship? If we are really taking the benefit of the relationship and making sure that we are not developing a strong attachment, then we can take all of that with us throughout our life. But our own development, and our own character, can not be dependent on whether other people are treating us well or not. 
 
Question: So for me to understand, basically the Hermit can enjoy love and relationships and marriage, but they see it as an experience that is an extension of their spiritual journey rather than an attachment of their desires?
 
Instructor: Yes. So a hermit can have relationships, but the question is: why are we in the relationship? Is it driven by, “I want to learn something for my own benefit,” or is it driven by, “I genuinely feel love for this person and want to care for them and be with them long term”?
 
Question: So it is servitude?
 
Instructor: Yeah. Real compassion though. That can be really tricky, because we find ourselves in a lot of situations where we think we are doing what is compassionate for people, but maybe we are being deceived by our own desire, or what we are doing is not actually for their benefit. But yes, a hermit can have relationships if that is what life brings us. If life is bringing us certain people, then we should try to figure out “Why is this person in my life? How can I be of service to them in a real way?” But never expect that that person is going to be there permanently.
 
Question: That picture of the hermit showing solitude, obviously, like to become brave from the rock in the way, and the light following his foot, keeps sustaining him. Would you say that is him at a high pitch?
 
Instructor: I would say that it is a symbol. So the fact that he is isolated, grey, and kind of turning off all of the desires―like the world can be very bright, can be very intoxicating, very tempting―but he is turning away from that. He is going into the night, and like you said, only carrying the lamp that guides him. The spiritual night is a pretty common story or allegory that we hear about where we have to go and look at the dark parts of our life, in order to get there.
 
I do not think that the Hermit is the end goal. I think that Christ is the end goal, right? ― a person who can really channel divinity and be a light in the world. But the Hermit is the starting point at the beginning of the path.
 
Question: You mentioned Gurdjieff and the harmonious development of man's relationship with developing the bodies, and how he professed to be interacting with the lower realms of society as a tool. He would say, to use that virtue to develop that permanent, divine “I.” But  P. D. Ouspensky had all these lavish situations. So how would you relate that to developing sincerely amongst the lower realm, and wouldn't you need to surround yourself as Gurdjieff did with the highest intelligentsia or the highest pitch of people?
 
Instructor: Yeah, it is a really good question, because Gurdjieff is very controversial. I also think he was at a level past maybe the Hermit that we are trying to work through. So in order to get to the level where we can make those kinds of decisions, like what he made, we have a little bit more development to do. But I will say, like you mentioned, he hung out with people who were considered the lower echelon of society, and also did attract some prominent intellectual figures to him. That is because we do not have to discriminate on people based on their worldly situation, but really to see the heart of the person. If somebody is brought into our lives, and they can benefit from what we have to give, then it does not matter if they are poor or rich, or famous or infamous, but like you said, really focusing on what is the purpose of that relationship for my development, and for their development. 
 
Question: You mentioned to attempt to conserve energy so that when at the end of the day we have sufficient energy to conduct our work. My question is, I am in construction. I went through a stage of sitting to meditate, and struggling within fifteen to twenty minutes. This occurred for many months. What can I do to get through this obstacle?
 
Instructor: Yeah. So if you are feeling physical discomfort when you are sitting to meditate, lie down. Lie down in a posture on your back that will help you to stay awake, because meditation is really essential. We should be trying to do it every day in one way or another. But if we are feeling a lot of physical pain, that can be a big obstacle.
 
So as well, if you are working a very difficult physical job and you are feeling drained by that, maybe do some meditation in the morning instead of waiting until the evening. Physical labor certainly can drain a lot of energy, but also pay attention to your emotional and intellectual energy, and how you are spending that in the time that you are not at work. Find ways to balance, to rest physically, but also to continue to develop your heart and your intellect through some kind of esoteric practices or studies.
 
Comment: This is not really a question, but this has been incredibly validating. I had no idea what this was even about, even with the discussion on meditation and spirituality. I am literally separating from my husband and moving to a city that I do not know as a way of healing and exploration, and it feels really transformative in a way that I have never really felt before, and feels like this is part of the journey of my life that I need to do. I do meditate on a regular basis, I have done Vipassana meditation retreats, and I want to make sure I am not speaking from a place of ego, but it is about piecing all of this together. Everything you are saying just makes a lot of sense in terms of being able to conserve your energy and pull yourself from relationships. I have just recently connected to my family in a way because I was separate from them, but now I am able to connect with them in a way that has boundaries, and still confronting a lot of fear and confusion in terms of what to do. But in terms of the divinity, all of this journey has made me not necessarily atheist ― it is atheist, that is kind of what I have been claiming, but not so much atheism as much as just wiping the slate clean in terms of what I believe to get to that place of understanding.
 
Instructor: So instead of carrying any beliefs with you, you are trying to know for yourself what is the truth. That can be a good starting point.
 
Comment: So we will just see… I am literally doing this in about two weeks!
 
Instructor: Yeah! Well, good luck, and meditate on what you have learned. Meditate on your relationships. Even if they are behind you, there is a chance to learn.
 
Comment: But it is about creating new relationships with people, but not doing it in a way of like separating yourself and doing this in a way that's self possessed, but not isolating.
 
Instructor: Yeah. You are finding ways to intentionally and consciously create new connections with family or other relationships that are healthy. We have to do that in small doses because if we try to make a massive change right away, everybody is going to resist that. But be intentional about your relationship and to reflect on “why did I end this relationship before?” ― or maybe you did not have a choice, and “How do I want this relationship to go? What actions do I need to be taking that are going to make it a healthy relationship?” If we were contributing in a way to make it toxic, then we have an opportunity to change. Thanks for sharing!
 
Question: How come the Fool is Arcanum 21?
 
Instructor: In the Gnostic tarot deck that we use [The Eternal Tarot from Glorian Publishing], which is different from the one that I was showing here in the PowerPoint, the Fool is Arcanum 21, also known as Transmutation. The reason that it is right before Arcanum 22, the completion of the work, is because all of us experience an extreme ordeal right before we reach the end. This is an opportunity to fall back into all of the temptations that we have overcome along the way, or to triumph and to reach the end of the work, to finish the self-perfection. 21 is also synthesized to 3, and we see in initiation, the Arcanum of the Hermit, the 9, which is 3 x 3. So you should also study about the three brains, and conquering those three brains, if you want to understand the Fool. 
 
Question: Is this the three brains that Gurdjieff talked about, or the subconscious, unconscious, and infraconsciousness?
 
Instructor: The three brains that Gurdjieff talked about: the intellectual center related with the physical brain, the emotional center or emotional brain in the heart, and then the motor-instinctive-sexual center related with the body as well. 
 
Question: In initiating our hermit journey, what would be some tools in order to have an understanding to make connections, to get the information to continue the journey? What are some recommendations? 
 
Instructor: Well, the most important tools are going to be our spiritual practice. In this tradition, we use these three forces for the transformation of consciousness.
 
The first is death and that comes through meditation. Death is the practice through which we look at what is causing our suffering, and that is meditating everyday on what you are seeing in yourself and your life.
 
The second is birth, which relates to pranayama for single people, transmuting your sexual energy and conserving that force in a way that allows you to awaken spiritually and to change.
 
The third force is sacrifice, which means in our physical life, we see a way that we can do something good, something of really profound service for others. While we know in our conscience that this is right (but it is very difficult and it is something that we think, “Oh yeah, but I could also just not bother doing that”), we still take the action to do that.
 
If we are working with those three together: meditation, transmutation, and sacrifice, we can advance very quickly and learn a lot. But of course, scriptures have a lot of veiled symbols that teach this path, and in our tradition, we have several books like the one you have there [Tarot and Kabbalah], which start to unveil the secrets of the path. So if you are studying that closely, it should open and unlock many other scriptures from a variety of different world religions and traditions. You will see them referenced there. But you will also understand the symbols and world religions in a different way. So that is the study of the initiate: to really understand the ancient science of spiritual transformation.
 
Question: I have a friend who I have known for almost fifteen years. We entered Gnosis about the same time, but over the last year or so she has slowly left the path, secured a job, bought a home, and found love. It seems everything fell together for her when she left. Do certain karmic laws apply to people devoted to the path that are different to those who are not? Also, I do not know how to reconcile our relationship now that our purpose in life is so different as I do not want to hurt her. Thank you!
 
Instructor: Yes, there are two laws when it comes to karma. There is a superior law of karma for initiates and that law is more severe. So if you are entering into the spiritual work, you can be subjected to very difficult ordeals because they are going to advance you. You can suffer the consequences of harmful actions from past lives very early on in your life if that is what is required to help you to develop spiritually.
 
For people who are not interested in spiritual development, they will still have to suffer the same kind of karma for their actions, but it might come in a different way. They might get a period of bliss or material happiness only to find suffering later on.
 
So the law of karma, which is action and consequence, cause and effect, applies to everyone, but for initiates it is going to be more challenging early on because you need those ordeals to be able to really develop the strength of character for the spiritual work. It is a tremendous sacrifice to do the spiritual work, and so we have to go through that early on.
 
In terms of the second part of the question, about how do we relate to someone when now our interests in life are very different, we have to take our self-interest out of it and find a way to still be a good caring friend to that person. But yeah, we might not be spending as much time with them. It might be naturally that people grow apart, and we can accept that. But the times we are with that person, we should, as much as we might want to talk about what we are into, and where we are at, we might need to sacrifice that to find a way to be a benefit to the other person.
 
Question: Let us say that you are experiencing some karma and it is physical pain. Should you seek ways to alleviate that pain or should you just endure it?
 
Instructor: That is a good question. I would say, do not suffer needlessly, but at the same time be careful, because if the method to get rid of physical pain, for example, is using some kind of very addictive drug, then that could really have a significant impact on your life, and ten years from now, your life could be in a very bad place. So it is important to seek some kind of alleviation of physical pain.
 
Question: If you alleviate the pain, is it just going to extend the karma?
 
Instructor: Yeah. Ok, so if I have a headache and I take a Tylenol, does that mean, “Oh no! I still owe karma?” Well, now you owe karma for taking the Tylenol, right? So yeah, every action is going to have an effect. So I guess you have to trust your own instinct on that, but to just suffer needlessly, like some priests used to self-flagellate themselves and hurt themselves, that is not going to be helpful for spiritual development.
 
Sometimes karma, experiencing physical pain, can be a way to pay karma and could be a benefit. Sometimes pain teaches us more than pleasure. But do not allow yourself to just kind of like beat yourself up with it, I guess is what I am getting at. If there is a simple way to get out of that, and then you use the benefit of not being in pain to do more good deeds, then that might be expedient. I guess it depends on the situation.
 
Question: How does your vocation and calling in life relate to the Hermit?
 
Instructor: Well, our vocation could be circumstantial, that it is just a matter of where we happened to end up as a result of our previous actions. But the vocation as well could be related with our own idiosyncrasy of our spirit.
 
Divinity has its own character and has ways that it can serve on a profound level. You can look at the music of Beethoven, the art of Michelangelo. You could say that their spirit was very well developed and very awake, and was bringing through their vocation a lot of benefit to humanity. So in our vocation if it is circumstantial, it is not really what we are passionate about, or what is resonating with us on a spiritual level, then our vocation is a great way to serve, and to begin changing as a person.
 
If we are changing through our job, and we are becoming of more benefit to people in whatever way that we are serving them (because every job can serve people), then that is going to radically transform us, and when we change internally, the external life will change. As we learn about ourselves through becoming better people in our vocation, then we might get a better sense of how we could be of more service and find that spiritual vocation that we are seeking.
 
Question: What are some helpful advice to completely transmute a bad relationship into a good one when both persons really do not like each other? What is the best thing to do?
 
Instructor: [Laughter from audience] Yeah! I guess the question there is, first, what do you want from the relationship that you are going to really be attached to transforming that relationship? Sometimes you have to let a relationship go if it is not of benefit. But if it is a relationship where two people do not really like each other, but there is some kind of real love there that connected them as friends, or family, or whatever, then I would say to study that part of yourself that is real love for that person. By reflecting on that and strengthening that, rather than strengthening your resentment and blaming the other person, that is going to really change your behavior.
 
There is a simple technique in psychology from the REBT approach, which is the ABC's. So when you want to reflect on yourself and your relationship to this person, you can look at it through ABC.
 
A is the activating event, which is whatever that person did, or whatever happened in the environment that produced a reaction in you, that activated your emotions.
 
B is your belief. What belief did you have about what that person did? So if that person maybe took the last soda in the fridge, is it your belief they did that on purpose because they did not want you to have that soda? Or is your belief, “Oh, they were just thirsty and it just happened to be the last one.” That can make a really big difference. How do we interpret the other persons actions? We should always recognize that our belief is just that―it is only a belief. It is not the truth of the situation. It is just our belief our interpretation.
 
The C is the consequence. What did we do? What actions, feelings, or behaviors did we have as a result of what we believed about the situation? If we are able to change our belief about the other person or their intentions, how would that change the consequence? How would that change our reaction? That is a really simple technique that you can use to reflect on things.
 
Question: I have always been on an experiential journey, and I thought that I worked a lot on getting rid of attachments, desires, and things like that, that were conscious within me, as far as just things that might be conceived as negative by others, like actually trying to work on getting rid of those desires. But what I found out in my ten years of marriage in that I am currently separated―we still live with each other, and we still love each other, but we are working on our issues―what I found out is that my desires came from a subconscious place which were actually from my childhood. I lost my mother when I was younger, and I had a very tough childhood, so basically my desires were not a negative thing. It wasn't coming from that place. It was coming from more of a place that wasn't healed from within me. Is that also sometimes what those desires can be? 
 
Instructor: Yeah, so that is a really good point. So we are talking about two different levels here. So there is the mundane basic human needs that we need, and especially when we are children, and we are very vulnerable. There are a lot of the conflicts in our relationships when we are adults that come from unresolved trauma from our childhood. 
 
So what I am talking about in the lecture about the Hermit is kind of a level above that, when we have already established basic mental health. But yes, so if we have conflict, deep rooted traumas, or needs that were not met when we were children, then that unresolved and unconscious pain within our selves can lead to painful cycles in our adult relationships. That is why reflecting on oneself you are going to see that. You are going to understand things about yourself that you did not see before.
 
So the ignorance of the Fool, the young man, kind of rushing into things, that is youth, right? Maturity is when we have understood something about ourselves and what was driving us. Maybe it is a natural need like we were neglected and we need love. Somebody comes along that can offer that to us. When we understand that and we are no longer attached to it, because we have seen that from a mature place, then we are able to have a healthy relationship. When we are just unconscious, we do not have that illumination, where blind tendencies all over the place are coming out. That is when we can have a lot of problems in our relationships even when there is love there, even when there is something really good there.
 
Comment: That is exactly what happened. I basically took my emotional needs. I did not even know I was doing this and this is my awakening. I am going into the next level of my awakening with this. I was the Fool in that marriage, blissfully in love, but I was putting emotional burdens on him to be a fulfiller of love. He also kind of triggered some fears of abandonment, because he really loved to go out a lot with his guy friends. So when I was alone, I took that as rejection or fear of abandonment, and then basically I just did not know that was within me. Now I am healing it and I am working on that, and now I feel like I am in this transition basically. It just takes that awakening to realize that and then you can move forward, but I never thought of desire as being also coming from a very innocent place too. Like you just needed desire to be loved, or to nurture some old wound or something.
 
Instructor: Yeah, it is a common experience.
 
Comment: Yeah. He fulfilled the need for a long time, but then he was like, “OK, this is too much. I need to focus on myself.”
 
Instructor: That is what is really important too, because in our spiritual immaturity, that is where we are at. We are still seeing things from the world and from other people, our basic needs. We are like infants. We do not have anything. To get to the point where we are totally reliant on God, divinity, is a process. It is not going to happen overnight, but sometimes that means that when we bring something to light―if you do not mind me to use your example―so you have recognized in that relationship, “Oh, what I was actually doing was I felt this unfulfilled need, that I need that love and attention all the time,” and it became a burden. So when you become aware of that, it is not easy to let go of that need. It is still there, but maybe you are sitting at home and you are praying and you are renouncing that desire to get what you want, to give your partner the chance to get what he needs―maybe that is some time out with friends or whatever―that is where we start to move our center out from the world and into divinity. We are redirecting that energy that wants to claim something from the outer world and we are sacrificing it. It is painful, and that is the solitude. That is the loneliness. So it is a really powerful example and very common, unfortunately.
 
Question: How do you detach yourself from your own desires?
 
Instructor: Well, I was just talking about that. First you have to see it. First you have to see what you really desire. A lot of us on a conscious level just think, “Oh, well, I am doing the right thing. I am doing what is good. I have totally altruistic motivations for what I am doing,” and we have to be really sincere with ourselves and dig a little deeper, and really dig into what actually is driving this behavior. Sometimes it is painful to recognize that it might be something selfish. Something that is normal in a child, like the longing for affection, but when we become adults and we have to stand on our own, we have to renounce the ways of the child. That can be painful. So it is a process.
 
Question: Should we make time daily to exercise the body? Does this take away from our energy or the spiritual path of meditation?
 
Instructor: If you are the person working in construction, then you are probably getting enough exercise. But yeah, if you are in a job where you are not getting a lot of physical exercise, then yes, it is important to take care of our physical body, absolutely. Health is holistic. It happens physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. So taking care of your physical body can be important, but do not over do it. Do not overexert yourself to the point where you are exhausted, and recognize if what is driving you to take care of yourself is really because you want to be healthy, or if it is vanity, because sometimes we have other intentions when we are working out.
 
Comment: I actually have something that might be semi-relevant from school. Some forms of exercise such as Tai Chi and Qigong, those exercise the body, movement, flexibility, and those things, but are benefiting the body by building energy, depending on which organs you are doing the benefits for. This can actually help to support meditation, spiritually practicing with that type of energy. So they might want to look into something along those lines.
 
Instructor: That is a good idea. So if you really want to take care of your physical body, Tai Chi, Qigong, the Gnostic runes, the Gnostic rites for rejuvenation, which we have on the website as well, those can be really good ways to do that and awaken yourself spiritually at the same time.
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<![CDATA[Where Do We Dream?]]>Sat, 13 Nov 2021 06:00:00 GMThttp://chicagognosis.org/lectures/where-do-we-dream
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<![CDATA[Who Doesn't Dream?]]>Sat, 18 Sep 2021 05:00:00 GMThttp://chicagognosis.org/lectures/who-doesnt-dream
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This is the third lecture in our course on Dream Yoga and Astral Travel. We discussed that there are degrees of consciousness, states of being. We are going to elaborate on the fact that consciousness is a spectrum. You have a polarity between awakened, divine, spiritual, conscious faculties, enlightenment, illumination. On the other hand, you have states of unconsciousness, sleep, dreaming.
 
For most of humanity, what we understand about ourselves can really be defined as a state of profound sleep, a state of dreaming. We explained that dreams are not only when we physically go to bed a night, and eight hours pass, or what we experience when the body is at rest. But we experience dreams all the time in our daily life, in many ways.
 
What concerns us in this particular course is understanding our state, our quality of life, the way we perceive, to understand what in us perhaps is a source of suffering, of many problems, of many conflicts. We can say with clarity, and assurance, that the cause of many sufferings is the lack of awareness, or that we are hypnotized by our own ways of thinking, our ways of reacting to the world, our habits. In this course, we are exploring a particular type of work in which we transform our consciousness from a state that is dreaming, unaware, or afflicted with suffering, into something that is brilliant, spiritual, ethical, virtuous, divine. 
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​Types of Spiritual Beings

​There are many different types of beings, especially in our world, but also in the universe, and they fall along this spectrum of consciousness. Among the heights, the most elevated nature of spiritual being, we have entities we call angels, prophets, masters, buddhas, gods. The term buddha means “awakened one,” to be cognizant, to know oneself. All the prophets that we, as a collective consciousness value and respect, were precisely beings who learned to awaken their full potential, to master themselves, and thereby exhibit and express qualities that are truly revolutionary.
 
We find such beings are like Jesus, Buddha, Moses, Krishna, the founders of religion that taught that by changing who we are, we can elevate ourselves and learn to communicate directly with the divine through experience, not a matter of belief. But the problem becomes individually, specifically, applying what they taught, and understanding what in us prevents our potential from being realized.
 
We call them conditions of mind. We talk about states like anger, pride, fear, anxiety, vengeance, many types of defects which characterize many of our daily states. It is precisely these types of emotions, thoughts, worries, and fears, which keep us in a state of hypnosis, not fully aware of why we suffer or how we affect others. By examining that quality, that dynamic, we are learning to become like these masters whose spiritual caliber has been tested by extreme circumstances, who demonstrated with their very soul and spirit the most beautiful attributes. We like to study their lives, their teachings, because they show a potential in us for truly finding and establishing real joy, real happiness.
 
So, all of that, egotism, selfishness, resentment, we call those conditions, because in a moment in which we have a conflict, someone criticizes us, we feel that reaction of anger emerging. We do not will it. It just happens, or with fear, many emotions, these qualities emerge in the moment in response to some type of stimulus, often without our control. That shows that we are conditioned. But by learning to work with what we call the consciousness, some religions call it soul, we can learn to transform the situation.
 
We have a statistic in our studies which can be daunting. We state that we have 97% of our potential, our consciousness, trapped, conditioned by all of those defects I mentioned. But we also have 3% consciousness that is not trapped yet by those faults, and that by working with that, that perception, by learning to understand what the consciousness, what the soul really is, that 3% can become gradually 4%, 5%, 10%, until radically all of the imperfections that we have within are removed, and the soul that was once trapped and encaged becomes free.
 
It is that soul that knows how to astral project at will, how to receive divine teachings from the masters internally, knows how to interpret dreams, knows how to investigate the realities of life and death with competency, with skill.
 
So, the question we can ask ourselves, what part of the spectrum of consciousness do we inhabit, if we are honest? Do we lean more towards selfishness? Or the other end: awakening, selflessness, compassion, real virtue?
 
So, we are going to examine today what qualities of awakening are. What is awakening? What does it mean to awaken? But also, what can one do when awakened? Also, more importantly, how do we awaken?
 
It is good to reflect on the reality of those beings that I mentioned, because they were once like us, and yet through this science we are able to become something truly brilliant, remarkable, and rare. We will talk about certain methods in this lecture, precisely about how to understand ourselves, and how to transform the conditions of mind into liberated perception. We are also going to examinewho are those who no longer dream? Who are awakened? What are these beings like? and also, why should we emulate the awakened ones?
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​The Lines of Life and Being

We come back to this image because it is very deep. It is called the Line of Life and the Line of Being.
 
We mentioned how all of humanity, all of us enter the line of life at our birth. It is horizontal because everybody belongs to it. It encompasses everyone. We progress in a temporal fashion from our birth, to childhood, to adolescence, to adulthood, to maturity, old age, decrepitude, and then death. Everybody must face the inevitability of this path, of this process. A lot of people only focus on this, their life, and how they progress through the scenarios of life, often ignoring and fearing the unknown, and that one day we must die.
 
People preoccupy themselves at a young age with playing, friendship, communities, education, adulthood, finding a job, starting a family, retiring, and eventually being surrounded by loved ones, until finally we enter that door of death. But unfortunately, people tend to go through life very superficially, thinking that by only accumulating wealth, or money, prestige, a retirement fund, that somehow someone has lived truly well. These things in themselves are beautiful and necessary, but they are not everything.
 
This line is the line of time. The moment we are born, the moment that we die, is processed within time, and often as we go through life, we tend to be very absorbed and not in the present moment, but in our memories, our past, our future, not really looking at what is going on here and now. Perhaps we had a trauma as we were growing up, that we live with everyday thinking about, reminiscing, stewing. For other people it could be fear of security, not knowing what the future will hold, and always looking ahead. These are dreams. It is dreaming.
 
We dream in the body. Whenever we try to interpret the moment through the lens of the past, constantly analyzing, scrutinizing, assessing, perhaps through a psychological lens of anger or fear, or whatever it may be. Or we look to the future. We think ahead. We fear things that are not there. We are not present. We are not aware of ourselves. We are not here. We are not now.
 
That realization can only occur when we take a sincere look at ourselves. What is the quality of our life? What is our state of consciousness? What is our level of being, our ways of thinking, feeling, and acting? That is a realization that is only defined and realized in theno longer dreaming of the past, no longer dreaming of the future, but paying attention, being aware, actively looking at the world and ourselves.
 
As we do that type of work, we begin to realize this Line of Being very well. We realize that there are different states of consciousness that are superior, and there are states of consciousness that are inferior. I have already named some. We have states of suffering, negativity, egotism, etc., feelings of density, of apprehension and fear. Or we could be weighed down perhaps by our own weaknesses and ambitions, prejudices, whatever it may be.
 
But there are also superior states, which religions call ethics, virtues, real compassion, selflessness, sacrifice for others, patience, perseverance, understanding. There are degrees of this, many shades, qualities, and nuances to those qualities of consciousness. In the present moment we have the potential and the decision to make, whether we are going to enact a higher level of being, or an inferior one. But the only way to recognize in the moment is if we are paying attention, observing ourselvesnot from an intellectual standpoint, like a detective would labelling data, information, and phenomena. Instead, it is a different type of perception. This type of looking does not involve thought. But we can be thinking. It is just an act of consciously looking at ourselves, observing. It is in this way, by learning to perceive our circumstances and our relationship to it, that we can learn to stop dreaming, learn to enter superior states. 
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​States of Consciousness

​I will reiterate these states of consciousness that we talked about before, because it is really deep. Before I gave the Sanskrit terms from Hinduism: Sushupti, Swapna, Jagrat, and Turiya. Here in Greek, we have Eikasia, Pistis, Dianoia, and Nous. Different terms, but the same principles, because they are eternal. They do not belong to a particular culture, although different languages have been used to talk about the same thing. 

​Eikasia: Profound Sleep

In Eikasia we find profound sleep. It is important to remember that these are states of consciousness, not states of the body. The body could be active or inactive, but what concerns us is how we as a consciousness are behaving.
 
Profound sleep really has to do with a type of mentality, and mindset that is barbaric. I mentioned before that when you see a crowd or a mob, lynching, war, it is because the people involved are in a profound sleep. They are not aware of themselves or what they are doing. There have been soldiers who have been interviewed about their experiences in war, and how they said it does not take any thought to kill someone, and later dealing with the trauma of that act. The reality is that if humanity was awake, we would understand and love our neighbor, because we would feel ourselves one with humanity. But profound sleep involves no mindfulness, no presence, no understanding of our neighbor, and that is why the worst acts of genocide, murder, violence, have been performed by people profoundly asleep. Their consciousness not there.
 
In a more accessible example, we experience profound sleep all the time. We can reflect on moments of our day in which we lack remembrance, recollection of what we did, whom we met, whom we talked with, what we thought, what we felt, and what we did. If you sit to meditate, to kind of re-examine the moments of your day, there will be moments that will emerge within our attention that we cannot recall. There is no memory there. It is because we are not really awake. 
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​Or perhaps watching television is a good example. In front of television, we could be receiving all of this data and information through dramas, through films or movies shows, tv shows, and be so immersed in what is going on we are not even aware of our own body. We feel and think and experience life through the characters, through their emotions, not realizing or discriminating that this is all an illusion. They are actors. They are presenting a mirage.
 
But also, we lose awareness of ourselves. Somebody could be talking to us from the other side of the room while we are watching whatever it may be, and not realize what is going on. That means we are really asleep. What is interesting too is that this term Eikasia (εἰκασία) in Greek comes from εικόνων eikonon. It means “images.” It is interesting. Why is it that profound sleep involves images? It is having to do with something psychological. We could be receiving information form the world, the images of life, impressions, scenery, wherever we are, walking, taking in the environment, but we are not mindful of what is going on. We are not aware of what place we are at, perhaps lost in reverie, and then we may be sparked or shocked into remembrance because we forgot our turn on our walk. Or maybe we were taking public transit; we are thinking so much, or just not aware of where we are at, that we just miss our stop. That is Eikasia. But also too, taking in information, but not really perceiving it or understanding it, not being aware of it. 

​Pistis: Dreaming Sleep

There is another type of sleep we call Pistis: dreaming sleep. πίστης Pistis comes from the Greek Πιστεύω Pisteuo, meaning “to have assurance,” “to have faith in,” “to believe,” “to have confidence in.” What is it that humanity has most confidence in? There are many different beliefs and philosophies, schools of thought, ideologies, theologies, religions, institutions, doctrines. There also exist many senses of identity, maybe based on our race, our language, our culture, our belief systems, our religion, our appearance, our job, our class, our gender. We have many ideas, and many concepts revolving about who we are, and we have a lot of faith in these things, like somehow, they are lasting, that they are eternal. But the reality is that they are not. They will not last when we die. What will return, or perhaps progress and develop, is the soul. We are not the body, the body with its appetites, cravings, and tastes one day will go. But what is it that will remain? It is a big question.
 
When we have faith or assurance in temporal things, we call this dreaming. All the ideas that we have, perhaps that may give us some type of temporal security, in truth these are not sustainable. They are not permanent. They are not lasting.
 
So we talked a lot about dreams. We dream all of the time. Perhaps driving our car, we are thinking of our friend, our fiancé, our partner, and we do not see someone walking across the street and we get in to an accident. It is because we are dreaming. We are not paying attention. Or perhaps someone is talking to us, and instead of hearing what they have to say, hearing the new, the novel, the immediate, we are interpreting through the lens of the past, waiting to say our next word, not really listening to what is going on. 

​Dianoia: Awakened Consciousness

There are many forms of dreams, Pistis, but what concerns us in this school is to learn how to access waking consciousness.
 
In Greek we call it Dianoia (διάνοια). Dianoia comes from the prefix, “Dia-” meaning “thoroughly, from side to side,” which intensifies “noia,” which is mind. This is very interesting that Dianoia means “to go side to side with the mind,” to be flexible, to be adaptive, to be intuitive, not really having to think about something, but knowing how to act correctly in every circumstance.
 
Waking consciousness is Dianoia. It is a state in which we really perceive life with greater lucidity, with intensity, with comprehension. Qualities like patience and happiness, compassion, like I mentioned, these are all qualities that relate to the awakened soul, the awakened consciousness, which knows how to act with intelligence. It can solve problems, knows how to be flexible.
 
I’m sure we can think of many people in life, perhaps we have known, who are inflexible. They cannot adapt to any situation. Maybe we have that difficulty in certain aspects of our life. We do not know how to intelligently respond to a problem, whatever it may be. We have a particular weakness perhaps. But Dianoia knows how to look with penetrative wisdom at any conflict, and knows how to dissolve it. It is profound.
 
Dianoia, this awakened state, really makes revise our mistaken beliefs. So looking back at Pistis: dreaming sleep, we talked about, perhaps, beliefs about ourselves, our identity especially. But in a moment of awakening consciousness, not only in the physical world, but also in the dream world, where we perceive life in that dimension, that reality, we realize that we are more than our body. In fact, the soul is much more ancient, predates our body. So all of these things that we have accumulated in life, like language, name, race, gender, culture, these things are temporary. The soul is much more profound than that.
 
While it is important to develop a healthy personality in this world, it is not the defining factor of a human being. But unfortunately, people have created division based of appearances instead of recognizing the soul of people, the humanity of others. So, we change our beliefs about ourselves. It is a form of revolution, because we realize that we have a divine origin and we can return to that if we are willing.

​Nous: Spiritual Illumination

​In that way, we enter νοῦς Nous. In Greek this means “mind,” but I think that is an inaccurate translation by scholars, primarily because the type of consciousness we are referring to is not intellectual. Spiritual illumination, cognizance, omniscience, this is the level and quality of a god, beings who can have perception of things which are inaccessible to ordinary people. But the reality is that like us, they had to develop. They had to recognize that they were asleep, and that they were dreaming. By working to awaken consciousness, they achieved illumination, brilliant qualities of being.

​An Example of Nous

​I will give you an example of what Nous is like. My wife and I recently came back from a trip visiting one of the other Gnostic institutions that we study with. A group of us were talking about different things, different matters, whether political, spiritual, etc., certain situations that were going on with us. The next day, the missionary who runs this center gave a talk, and even though he was not physically present when we met the day before, he was talking about things that we discussed in minute detail, from beginning to end, in sequence, giving us insight and helping us realize how foolish we were. We were debating and arguing about things. So this individual was possessing a quality known as Nous. He knew what we were talking about even though he was not physically there. That is one example.
 
There are many examples because these states of consciousness exist in a spectrum. There is not one layer above the other in a form of rigid, static hierarchy. Instead, it is graded. There are many depths of the consciousness in sleep. There are also many qualities in dreams, and likewise in the superior aspects of consciousness. When it is awake there are many degrees, from less perfect to more perfect, until finally amongst Nous, where there are even greater types of realizations.
 
The reason why we talk about dreams is because we want to awaken. We want to cease dreaming, first physically, and then when we go to bed at night, we astral project willingly into that state and earn knowledge we yearn for, guidance from divinity.
 
Samael Aun Weor, who is the founder of this school, and this tradition that we study, stated in a book called The Revolution of the Dialectic:
One needs to cease dreaming within the internal worlds. When we stop dreaming in the physical world, we awaken here and now, and that awakening appears in the internal worlds. Samael Aun Weor, The Revolution of the Dialectic
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​Awakening through Intuitive Action

So how do we awaken? What is the path? What are the methods? We are explaining different practices sequentially in this course so that we can learn to awaken within the dream state, and also, we can awaken physically while active in our body of flesh and bone. There is one statement I will relate soon that Samael Aun Weor gave, which is really compelling in relation to this topic.
 
We see a woman, Alice in Wonderland, ascending a stairway towards light, towards those prophetic heights: Dianoia, Nous. She does so because she recognizes how she dreams. It is a symbol of the soul.
 
The first step is recognizing that we are dreaming in daily life through the examples that I mentioned. The mind can be thinking about one thing, our emotions could be acting in another way, and our will is divided. In a sense, this shows that we lack a type of integrity, or cohesion. So perhaps we have our daily sufferings in life. It maybe in our job, maybe a marriage, maybe with our friends. Whatever our idiosyncrasy is, we can learn to overcome that confusion by learning to follow our heart.
 
The heart knows without having to think. In our Western culture, we believe that the intellect is everything, and this is wrong. The Eastern cultures have it much more accurately. The heart can tell us many things. It is the heart that judges, that understands, that knows.
 
The term intuition is a spiritual buzzword. It has a lot of meaning which a lot of people do not understand. Intuition in its real sense is knowing without having to think, without having to deliberate with the intellect. We have a problem, a situation. The mind debates, driven by fear, mechanicity, the past, fantasizing about a solution, feeling insufficient and inadequate, feeling empty and full of despair. Intuition is the solution.
 
The reality is, to solve our problem, do not think about it. It does not mean that we are not going to act on something. It means that the process of thought churning, confusion, trying to solve it with the intellect, is not the surest way. Intuition is when you examine your heart, when you examine your soul. It is not a thinking process. The heart knows how to act in a situation. If you put the mind aside, understanding can emerge. Sometimes this can come as a form of an idea, and with trainingbecause right now we are very afflicted with a lot of problemswe do not know how to solve them. We dream about a solution, and we ignore that grasping at that type of solidity or solution is precisely how we stir up the mud, and we do not see within the depth of ourselves. This is why serenity, calmness of mind, and opening of the heart is the answer.
 
Intuitive action occurs when you know in the heart what to do, even when the mind screams, kicks, yells, does not want to do it. It takes a lot of willpower and a lot of skill, and this is why we train in meditation, different exercises in this course, which leads to this type of facility and faculty.
 
Samael Aun Weor stated that:
Intuitive action leads us by the hand towards the awakening of the consciousness. Samael Aun Weor, The Revolution of the Dialectic
​One example I can give of this: I think of my present job, just day to day interacting with people, my co-workers. I will have different emotions emerge as I am observing myself, being mindful throughout the day, being aware of my thoughts, my impulses, and just knowing in situations, without having to deliberate, how should I behave around this person, because this has been a new job for me along my career path. Obviously, there is always that hesitance and discomfort when meeting knew people, especially when you do not know who they are, how they are viewing you, how they evaluate you perhaps. So what I have learned in those moments is put my mind aside, open my heart, be attentive, and if you are really connecting in your heart, being present, being aware of your own inner divinity, your Being, you suddenly know what to do. It just comes out seemingly from nowhere, and the results speak for themselves. As you examine the quality of your relationships, your actions, this leads to success, builds communities, solves problems. The intellect does not solve problems. It is the heart.
 
There are many examples such as businessmen having long meetings, trying to solve or fix something, and then they say, “Let’s take a 15-minute break.” They will leave, do not think about the problem, and suddenly five members have an idea. It just comes. It is a simple example, but it is the same dynamic.
 
Thinking is usually an obstacle in us. We might have jobs that require the use of the intellect where we need to think about things, store information, relay information, compare, analyze, contrast. Personally, my job is very intellectual, but that is not the primary gear that runs my relationships with people at my job. Instead, it is learning to use the intellect with understanding, with the soul, with the consciousness.
 
The consciousness is not the intellect. The consciousness does not have to think. In the same way where you have to drive a car, the consciousness drives the mind. It is behind it. Thinking is secondary. I will give you an example. Put your hand on a hot stove. You burn it. You retract your hand in pain. You perceive it immediately. The instinct was to get out of danger. The emotion was anger, or stress, and then a thought emerges, “That hurt!” Thought is very slow. This is not the main ingredient of a person, as much as our Western academia would have us believe, and because we tend to put so much investment into our thinking, we have depleted ourselves of other faculties, which is the heart. 
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​Serenity of Mind 

​People wonder why they cannot astral project at will. It is because usually, in the West, we are too intellectual. If you develop the intellect too much, the heart gets weak. This is not to say that people from other cultures that may be less illiterate than us have an advantage. There has to be a balance between the mind and the heart. But our mind tends to storm, like in this image of this man looking out of the window towards his internal psychological atmosphere. Our thoughts are like wind, clouds, and if we are full of ragelike storms.
 
We want to calm the mind in these studies. By calming the mind, by entering a state of serenity, by learning equanimity with unwavering focus, with relaxation, we open the door to the internal worlds. Right now, our consciousness is not trained yet. Typically, in the beginning, we are usually very distracted, thinking of other things, or very much caught up in the cycles of life, our daily schedule, getting up for work, taking care of our family, responsibilities, pets even. We tend to go through our cycles in life with our attention very much dispersed, even fragmented, multitasking, right? That is a very big thing in our American culture. But that type of distraction keeps us from perceiving what is going on here and now.
 
Impressions emerge in life. In different situations, it is necessary to know how to respond. What I am emphasizing is that we need to know how to act, and that is different. Reactivity is basically, as I said, we are criticized; we feel anger; we retaliate. Very mechanical, but if you are learning to observe yourself, and learning that reaction in you, you can understand the source of that pain, and understand perhaps the other person is afflicted too, is suffering, and is asleep. They are not aware of what they are doing or their effect on you. Therefore, you have compassion. You respond with love, with patience, with sweetness. 

​Mindfulness

​That type of understanding is based on mindfulness, being aware of each moment, like on that diagram of the Line of Life and Line of Being. Moment by moment, we learn to act in a superior way of ethics, of understanding, of patience. This requires that we have a mind that is receptive.
 
Right now, the intellect is active. Someone could be talking to us and yet our thoughts are churning or going place to place. The mind is not calm, and if the mind is active, then the consciousness is asleep. So having a receptive mind indicates a state in which we are aware of our surroundings at all times and we are also observing our psychology, examining the relationship of events with our inner states. That does not require that we have to use the intellect so much. Obviously with a job, we use our intellect when we need to, but it is important not to necessarily do things in life while thinking every process out. It is an exertion of the mind that creates tension, but also depletes us of energy that we need if what we want is to awaken the soul.
 
Samael Aun Weor mentioned in The Revolution of the Dialectic an interesting quote about the need to be mindful, in the sense of being aware of oneself without having to deliberate step by step, thinking: “This is what I am going to do. I am going to do this,” etc. But instead, it is to have an alert novelty in the same way as if you are walking down the street, in perhaps some European city, a cobbled-stoned path after a rainfall and a sunset, appreciating the beauty and novelty of the color and vibrancy of one's scenery with a feeling of awe. The mind is not there. The intellect is not there labelling, “This is beautiful.” Obviously if we think that, then we lose the power of that moment. We are not seeing it for what it is. 
If you are eating, eat; if you are getting dressed, get dressed, and if you are walking on the street, walk, walk, walk, but do not think about anything else. Do only what you are doing. Do not run away from the facts. Do not fill them with so many meanings, symbols, sermons and warnings. Live them without allegories. Live them with a receptive mind from moment to moment. Samael Aun Weor, The Revolution of the Dialectic
As we are observing ourselves and becoming aware moment by moment, developing a continuity of perception, we start to gather new information about ourselves and about the world that we never knew. This type of information is psychological. It has to do with the Line of Being. It has to do with our internal qualities. We may know we are a certain type of person with certain likes, dislikes, habits, preferences, tastes, prejudices. But are we actively observing that? We may know that we are seated in these chairs, but are we observing them? It is one thing to know. It is another thing to observe. It is a different quality.
 
Another example is we take a certain route to work, but we are not really observing what is going on outside of us. We know the path, so we go on autopilot. We put on our playlist from YouTube, listen to music, prepare for the day, but we do not really pay attention to what is going on outside of us. That is a profound state of sleep. 

​Spiritual Facts

​This awakening has to do with looking at the repeatable, verifiable facts of oneself. By facts I am not referring to what we can read in a book, or from the news. It has to do with what do we see in ourselves. Those are the type of facts we are examining in these studies. Putting aside politics, religion, beliefs, ideology, differences, what are the observable facts of who we are? How do we relate to the world, how we dream, how we live?
 
We may think we are one way, have certain beliefs, concepts about who we are, but perhaps someone at work has a conflict with us and says, “You have wronged me.” The instinct might be to react and say, “I did nothing wrong” even after hearing the facts. But the truth is that people see us more clearly than we see ourselves. But everybody is dreaming as I said. We are dreaming about ourselves, who we are. But what are the observable, concrete details of our daily life?
 
So, in that circumstance, where we have a conflict at work, are we observing that? We may know a situation is one thing, but are we looking at it? Are we examining it? Are we looking at our own mental states, emotional states, physical states? to look and examine as child would smelling a flower. Jesus said we must become as little as children in order to enter the kingdom of heaven. It does not mean that physically we have to become small, naïve, stupid, or gullible. It means to appreciate what is happening around us and within us. This is why Samael Aun Weor stated: 
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
​That observable understanding is γνῶσις gnosis. It is a Greek term. People commonly translate it as knowledge. But in reality, it is not of the intellect. It is of the heart, what we see in ourselves, what we understand. It withers away in abstractions, in that this type of spiritual life is not based on beliefs, or what we prefer, or what we like, or what we dislike. It is based on what are the consequences of our own actions, of within ourselves, and within our communities. What are the cause-and-effect relationships? Even if we are noble in our aspirationsand anyone who approaches spirituality isthat is not enough. What is important are the facts. What are the consequences of our actions? When we examine that, we awaken, when we live it, when we do it. 

​The Three Degrees of Cognizance

​In this process we examine three degrees of cognizance. This is from Fundamentals of Gnostic Education. It is a tool that can help us examine the quality of our internal states, so that by looking at our life physically, our dream life changes. We start to awaken more and more within that dimension. It starts physically.
 
Some questions we can start to ask ourselves, maybe at the beginning of the day before we engage in life, or perhaps at the end before we go asleep: 

​1st – Time. How long did we remain cognizant?

​Perhaps we were walking on the street going to work. We began our day with a spiritual practice. We are observing ourselves, aware. We are very lucid. We are looking at the environment surrounding us. We see the colors and the fashion that the people wear, the streets, the location, the city. We see it with a vivid intensiveness, a sharp perception. There is more color and vibrancy. We are alert and we are maintaining that from moment to moment. We are walking, not thinking of other things, just observing, and then we pass a store perhaps. We see something in the shop window that sparks our attention, and we suddenly feel that attachment and that longing to possess that thing.
 
So we immediately go towards the window. It takes our attention. We start thinking of how we can owe it, what would we have to earn, the steps we would need to take to possess that object, and then we as we walk away, we are continuing to think about possessing whatever it is that we want, whatever we desire. Maybe an hour passes. We are at work, and suddenly we remember, “I was supposed to be observing myself! I started thinking of something else. I got hypnotized,” and then we can recall, reflect: “How long were we cognizant walking down the street?” That is something concrete that we can examine and ask. 

​2nd – Frequency. How many times have we awakened our consciousness?

​But also too, we want to examine: “How often do we awaken? How often do we have that state and experience it?”
 
We could be walking down the street, going to work, realizing that perhaps we maintained that type of continuity of perception and awareness in certain moments of the day. Perhaps we awaken in the morning before certain situations occur. That shows us a pattern of our mental process, our way of being. We are looking at how frequently are we able to sustain that state. That is frequency. Another important factor is the last one.

​3rd – Amplitude and penetration. What was one cognizant of?

​This has to do with the quality of our perception. How much are we seeing? What are we seeing? How deeply are we experiencing life? How intensely with the soul? What are we understanding? 
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As we reflect on these three principles and as we apply them, assessing our daily life, we start to develop that type of consciousness within the dream state, where suddenly after we go to bed, we suddenly find ourselves swimming in our street, right? These types of things happen in the dream world. We may become aware for a moment. It may be very brief in the beginning, especially, and suddenly we wake up. We realize, “I was just dreaming!”
 
But with practice that type of experience becomes more frequent. If you are more frequently awakening consciousness in your physical life, when you go to bed at night you start to awaken more and more. In the beginning, we dream. We start to remember our dreams, to recall our dreams. We have more depth and color and vibrancy.
 
These things intensify with time, gradually, until again we suddenly find ourselves swimming in the street, and because of training, we recognize this happened before, you cannot do this in the physical world. You are aware. You realize, “I am in the internal planes, the astral dimension!” Also, the amplitude, the magnitude, the penetration, the depth of our perception becomes more and more and more, greater and greater as we are evaluating ourselves. 
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​Turiya

​Until with patient work, we can start to experience what the religions call the highest states of consciousness, such as Nous. The word तुरीय Turiya is Sanskrit, and we talked about it briefly in a former lecture. It is the state of Nous. Turiya is Sanskrit. It is spiritually illuminated, awakened perception. It is the quality of a prophet, of a master, of a god.
 
In the beginning, obviously, as we are progressing, we start to become more cognizant of dreams. But with training, we can start to taste experiences that are really sacred, really rare. They come as a spark, as a flash, usually very quickly, a type of perception that is not limited to even the fifth dimension: the dream world. Instead, one can ascend to higher planes of consciousness, which we are going to talk about in the next lecture: “Where Do We Dream?”
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There are spiritual planes beyond the astral. The astral plane is not the only internal dimension. There are degrees and hierarchies amongst higher levels of experience, from the material physical world, towards the more rarefied and abstract, subtle. Those spiritual dimensions are very enlightening, and in those states, there is no possibility of misperception, because the astral world, even though it is in a more subtle state, is not necessarily the most objective.
 
We can all relate to the fact that we all had dreams that reflect some situation in life, or a fear, or a conflict, whatever it may be. In the astral world, one still has the potential of seeing only the conditions of our mind, our own dreams. They are not objective. They are not real, in a pure sense, in a pervasive sense. When you go up those different dimensions that we talked about in the Tree of Life, previously, you enter states of consciousness that are less afflicted by any type of self, selfishness, egotism.
 
Within higher dimensions like the realm of the spirit, the Being, the divine, one can become conscious that they are perceiving this table, and they can see all the atoms that it possesses. In that level or dimension of conscious, divine expression, one sees things in a very penetrative way. It relates to the world of mathematics, which, if you are interested in learning more about how numbers are sacrednumbers relate to intuitive principlesyou can study our course we gave called The Eternal Tarot of Alchemy and Kabbalah, where we talked about numerology. Numbers are spiritual. They represent forces of nature, and so in this spiritual state you can see things that are not accessible even in the astral plane, which still has an element of illusion to it.
 
Instead, we are concerned about Nous, perfect awakened consciousness: 
Nous is perfect awakened consciousness. Nous is the state of Turiya, profound interior illumination. Nous is legitimate objective clairvoyance. Nous is intuition. Nous is the world of divine archetypes. Noetic thought is clear, objective, illuminated. Whosoever reaches the height of noetic thought totally awakens consciousness and becomes a Turiya. Samael Aun Weor, The Perfect Matrimony
​So, I mentioned that we should rely on intuition. That relates to Nous. You know a thing immediately. There is no need to conceptualize or deliberate. Nous is also perfect clairvoyance, and this is a term that has unfortunately mislead a lot of people. It simply in French means “clear vision.” It is the faculty of imagination, to imagine, to perceive non-physical imagery.
 
This is what we do every time we dream. We are seeing with clairvoyance. But for most of us, it tends to be very filtered, obscured, fragmented, dispersed. But with training, your perceptive quality, the capacity to receive images of an internal, psychological type, becomes much more robust. When it is perfected, you achieve what is called Turiya. It is clear, objective, illuminated. It is the world of archetypes, and the word archetype, if you are familiar with Jungian psychology, has to do with principles in the universe that are basically the building blocks of the soul. Study the course on Tarot that we gave if you are interested in learning more about that.
 
On the other hand, as Samael Aun Weor continues:
The lowest part of man is irrational and subjective and is related with the five ordinary senses. The highest part of man is the world of intuition and objective spiritual consciousness. In the world of intuition, the archetypes of all things in nature develop. Only those who have penetrated the world of objective intuition, only those who have reached the solemn heights of noetic thought are truly awakened and illuminated. Samael Aun Weor, The Perfect Matrimony
​It is important too, to remember that in our process of meditation, we can experience glimpses of that state. Having a temporary vision or experience does not mean that we are fully and permanently established in that. So, it has been a mistake amongst certain people in groups who have had that type of experience to think they are mahatmas, or gods, or saints, and they can create a lot of problems, right? One thing is to temporary experience that state, and another thing is to permanently be at that level. That is something very different. 
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​The Qualities of the Awakened

​So, what does it mean to be like the Turiya, the prophets, the enlightened ones, the awakened ones?
 
We see an image here of Jesus serving the poor. Real masters are humble. Those who awaken consciousness in its full sense and degree are very simple. They do not boast of titles. They do not demand allegiance. Their sole concern is for us, for suffering humanity, as we see in the example of Jesus who literally died for othersor Buddha, Moses, or Krishnawhoever we can name.
 
They are defined and distinctly characterized by their tremendous love, like a sun that shines for both sinners and saints, regardless.
 
Their ethics do not weaver. They are kind even when crucified. They are patient even when those for whom they suffer for do not appreciate what they have to give.
 
These types of beings are not understood, primarily because their caliber of divine personality is contrary to what humanity loves, which is pride, vengeance, hatred, violence.
 
These beings really work, and serve, and endure for the sake of our planet, and often times they work in secrecy because they know the current state of humanity. They understand that to announce themselves is, first, to be proud of what does not belong to them, but to divinity. On the second hand, they do not want follows. They do not demand attendance. They do not command for our respect. They are loving. They are forgiving, and most of all, they are understanding.
 
They perceive a person within all the dimensions of their being. They understand the circumstances of people, and how to solve problems. But they do not give advice because they want to be put on a pedestal. In fact, they are really humble.
 
We mentioned these examples of these masters and prophets because this is our goal. This is why we want to stop dreaming in daily life, to cease being a machine, mechanically repeating behaviors and habits, conditions and sufferings, without knowing why. Instead, by bearing this goal in mind, we know what we can become.
 
These masters do not dream. They do not dream in the sense that, physically, they go to bed and they see nothing. Instead, they do not have any illusion about themselves, who they are, who others are. Because they have radically altered their own psychology, have removed their own causes of suffering, they are able to help others with expediency, with intuition, with wisdom.
 
Jesus was once like us, despite what many centuries of theology state. Buddha was the same. All the masters were once ordinary. But because they had an aspiration, an inquietude of the heart, a longing to know something more of reality, they decided to end their dreams, to look, to work. Therefore, they do not dream. They are awakened in the physical world, but also the internal worlds. They can see even physically that they have a bodymultiple dimensions at onceno confusion there. But for us, we have a very difficult time even conceptualizing even what the astral world is, unless we have had that experience.
 
This is why we have emphasized in this school: “Do not take these words at face value, but test them.” You can experiment with the practices we give lecture by lecture to verify this for yourself.
 
Samael Aun Weor stated in The Perfect Matrimony:
A true Turiya cannot dream. The Turiya who has reached the heights of Noetic thought never goes about saying so, never presumes to be wise; he is truly simple and humble, pure and perfect. Samael Aun Weor, The Perfect Matrimony
​In the West, we often denigrate these terms: simplicity, humility, because we believe in our North American culture that to be simple, to be humble, is to be taken advantage of. In reality, the truth cannot be more distinct.
 
Jesus was a very learned man. He studied all religions, and he synthesised them in a way that was very accessible to people. Now, whatever people teach or interpret what he taught is another thing, but actually looking at the knowledge he disseminated is something different.
 
To be humble means to have dignity, but not to self-aggrandize oneself, to assume one is something that one is not.
 
These are the qualities of those who do not dream, who are perfect, who are illuminated. Their sole concern is for humanity.

​Conclusion

Therefore let us not sleep as others do; but let us watch and be sober. Thessalonians 5:6.
​Let us not be intoxicated but our own defects, our own errors. Let us take responsibility for our own conditions of mind so that we are not asleep, unaware, not knowing where we came from, and not knowing where we are at.
 
Samael Aun Weor stated in The Revolution of the Dialectic:
First seek enlightenment, and all else will be added unto you. Samael Aun Weor, The Revolution of the Dialectic
​Putting aside dreams, ambitions, that “First I must do this, this, and that, and then I will be spiritual,” or the concept of "One day I will be a master, illuminated”those two are dreams, spiritual dreamsnoble thoughts, but abstractions that wither from the facts. Instead, by learning who we are moment by moment and we traverse the road of our own inner work, we get insight and guidance. 

​Exercises

So the exercise for this lecture: everyday develop your self-observation from moment to moment. Also extend your mindfulness: the length of time you were aware of yourself.
 
At the end of each day reflect on how you did.
 
Everyday develop your meditation. Adopt a meditation posture. Relax completely, then focus 100% of your attention on a chosen object.
 
We talked about observing a candle and watching the flame, a simple practice in which, as you are observing the candle flame, you are also observing how you observe. You are examining your mind. If you start thinking of something else, daydreaming, recollecting, gently bring yourself back to your attention.
 
Look at the candle. The mind tends to be attached and distracted, jumping from one thing to the next. This exercise teaches one to focus on one thing so that we can understand ourselves. That is one practice you can do for meditative concentration. That concentration will help us to astral project consciously.
 
You can take any other objectpretty much anything. You can take a stone even. Observe a stone, a rock. Just look at it, and if your mind starts to wander, just bring your attention back. You can do that for 10 to 15 minutes, maybe 2 sessions or 3 a dayup to you.
 
And then lastly, write the facts of your day in a spiritual diary. This is a beautiful practice that was taught by Swami Sivananda especially, a great yogi and master of Hinduism. Look at this link on the PDF. You will find a resource on Glorian Publishing’s website, an article about how to perform a spiritual diary.
 
Basically, with this practice, at the end of each day or whenever you feel inspired, sit down and write. Write about what you have experienced, about what you have observed in yourself, how you practice, where it is taking you, perhaps your fears, your troubles. This diary is only for you. Nobody else can read it, not even your spouse. Instead, it is a way for us basically to be very concrete about what we are doing, about where we are at, but also what do we observe. What do we see in ourselves?
 
There are questions in this article basically describing what your states in the morning were, what were you like in the daytime, what were you like in the evening, and you can be as detailed as you want, or as simple as you want. It is up to you. But if you write in your journal every day and you reflect what you have learned, overtime you start to recognize patterns. You have a very deep, factual document that is showing you yourself. There are no ambiguities there. It is not running away from the facts. We are seeing what is there. This exercise can help us go a very long way. I highly recommend it.
 
At this point in time, I would like to open the floor to questions.

​Questions and Answers

Question: How do you set up the space for the candle practice. I mean I never done it, so how do I do it?
 
Instructor: You can have an altar, if possible, but it is not necessary. Any table, it is nice to have an altar obviously to have a place where you can dedicate your meditation and your devotion. Have a cloth on top. Any candle will do. Light it and observe the flame.
 
Question: Lights off probably or...?
 
Instructor: Yes, the more ambiance the better. It gets us in the mood to really focus.
 
Question: Thank you.
 
Instructor: You are welcome. 

​Retrospection Meditation

Instructor: ​At the end of each lecture, we do a practice. So I explained the exercise for this lecture. We can stay after, and we are going to do a retrospection meditation. 10 minutes, very brief, just so you can get the flavor of what this exercise is.
 
In it you relax your body. You pick a posture. Get comfortable. Close your eyes and introspect. Focus on your breath, breathing in deeplyinhaling, retaining the air, exhaling. Let yourself settle in the same way a stone sinks to the bottom of a lake.
 
Relaxation is the beginning. If we cannot relax, we are not going to enter a state of meditation. Meditation is not a technique. It is a state of being in which we are perceiving the phenomena and impressions of life with an alert, cognitive state. Relaxation is the beginning.
 
If you need to breathe deeply, you can. If you find that you are sufficiently relaxed in your body, you can begin to relax your mind. Relax your heart. We often carry a lot of negative emotions with ustensions, anxieties, worries. The key is to look at that, observe it. As you observe it, like an actor in a film and you are the director, you start to see different qualities in yourself that are churning, like the image of a cloudy sky in the PowerPoint. The more you look without investing yourself into thought, or feeling, or discomfort in the body, you start to see that the waters of the mind begin to settle. They become still, serene.
 
As we enter relaxation and suspension of our senses, no longer looking at the external world, but closing off to all distractions internally as well, we can start to concentrate on our experience. We can take a moment of our day that we recall, that we remember. You also can visualize any scenes that you went through.
 
Perhaps you take a moment in your morning. Simply recall the event. Play it on the screen of your imagination. Look at it. You will find in the beginning, especially, the mind will try to alter certain things. The key is to just be honestare we concretely observing the scene?and look at it. If I tell you to imagine an apple, you can. It just emerges. It is the same faculty: imagination. Some people call it clairvoyance. It is a fancy term for something very universal and human.
 
Now imagine the scene as it happened. Try to remember the day, maybe from the very beginning to the end, or you can retrospect backwards from the end of the day to the beginning. Follow your heart and look within your recollections for moments in the day where you do not have any remembrance. You just cannot see the details. You do not know what you thought, felt, acted, did, and if you do not remember, that is fine in the beginning. Just try to recollect as much information as you can.
 
There are other depths to this practice which we are going to get in to later on in this course. But the beginning is just gaining the ability to just remember and try to visualize it in as much detail as you saw it.
 
So do not force your mind. Do not exert your mind. In the same way you can remember what you ate for breakfast, just remember it. It is gentle. It does not require force. Some people will be sitting in their meditations scrunching their eyes, trying to exert their mind to do something. It does not work that way. Serenity is key.
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<![CDATA[Who Dreams?]]>Sat, 21 Aug 2021 05:00:00 GMThttp://chicagognosis.org/lectures/who-dreams
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We are continuing our course on the science of dreams, the experiential knowledge of awakening consciousness. We talked previously about some common ideas surrounding what people have called astral projection, out-of-body experiences, lucid dreams, awakening, near-death experiences, and we are going to dive very deeply into many practices so that we can augment our perception.

Our consciousness has the capacity, when trained, to be awake even when the physical body is asleep. Even when dreaming during the eight hours we go to bed, we are in an intensified state of awareness. We do not enter into a type of amnesia, unconsciousness, sleep, dullness, but learn to instead verify what religions have called heaven. When one has that experience for oneself, one knows. It is not a matter of belief, of thinking a tradition or institution is true or not. It is rather about testing these realities for ourselves. When we verify what these states are like from experience, we have what is called genuine faith, real knowledge, real understanding. 
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Theories Regarding Dreams

​But what are dreams and visions specifically?

In psychology, Sigmund Freud believed that dreams are the doorway to the unconscious and that by looking at our dreams we can understand ourselves.

He talked about what is known as manifest and latent content within dreams. The manifest content of a dream is its narrative. We can all think of a dream that we had in which there was a form of logic, a storyline, a progression of scenes, dramas, comedies, tragedies within our own consciousness.
 
The latent content of a dream has to do with its meaning, and this is something that has deeply interested many people, psychologists. The latent content of a dream, according to Freud, could signify how that dream represents something physical. For example, we could have a dream of being assaulted by an animal. We are filled with fear, terror, resentment, agony, and if we carefully examine our life, we can find that these psychological states that we find in dreams reflect something that is going on in our personal life. Perhaps we have a relationship with someone in which we feel that fear, like we are being hunted, persecuted, shamed, and therefore, the animal in the dream could represent how we react to a particular person in our physical existence.
 
Or perhaps someone has a dream of a serpent, being bitten and attacked by a snake. Obviously, that symbol is prominent in many religions for a good reason, because the language of different religious traditions and mythologies is oneiric. It is dreamlike. It is from the world of dreams.

Carl Jung emphasized how the symbols of dreams are the foundation of all religion because all religious traditions teach symbols, allegories, parables, stories that are processed and have been manifested through dreams, through that language, a type of logic.
 
Having a dream about a serpent obviously can be something about temptation in one's physical life. We are very familiar with the Genesiatic story of the Bible.

Now other people have posited different ideas about dreams. John Hobson basically described through neuroscience that dreams are a form of protoconsciousness. They are a virtual reality, according to this theory, that helps us to navigate the problems of daily life.
 
Some have posited different theories, different ideas, like the threat-simulation theory. People have argued that dreams are engrained in our biology from an evolutionary perspective, in that dreams were developed within the consciousness in people, growing humanity, evolving humanity, in which people were trained to confront their fears in dreams. That is one possibility that is described by scientists.
 
There are other theories too: expectation-fulfillment theory, basically referring to how dreams release built-up tension. Someone can experience emotion in a dream that is a form of release because those desires in daily life can be repressed. That is very known within psychoanalysis and Freudian psychology. This also explains, according to some scientists, how when those types of dreams are fulfilled, they are forgotten, because the energy related to that emotion is released. That is one perspective.

There are many theories about dreams, many beliefs, and they all offer some type of perspective in relation to why this occurs. In our Gnostic tradition, we have very different approaches to the study of dreams, not just merely limited to a biological component or the study of the brain, such as in NREM sleep (non-rapid eye movement), or REM sleep in which we dream. Those are valuable in their level, but they have a very limited utility. Merely looking at the biology of a person when approaching dreams, this often delimits or cuts off any type of mystical, experiential, divine component.

Now Carl Jung was very interesting because he risked his reputation by declaring the spirituality of dreams, often to the denigration of his colleagues. So much of the knowledge that he taught was very ciphered because the type of wisdom he was expressing about how to experience dreams and how to understand them is often very much misunderstood or condemned.
 
Now what is interesting about Carl Jung's theories about dreams is that he talked about what is known as a collective unconscious. He believed that humanity inherits, through lineages, biology, and ancestry, different religious symbols. That would explain, according to this idea, why different religions across the world, different cultures, shared the same symbols or what he called archetypes.
 
Archetypes are basically parables. They are codes. They are an intuitive, spiritual, and divine grammar. A symbol can carry multiple dimensions and levels of meaning, which is why dreams are so powerful. They do not merely just communicate on the level of a type of logical analysis of our common current everyday intellect, but instead, they reveal a type of logic that is beyond our current level of cognition. It is something that has to be developed and practiced with in order to deepen, in order to be worked with and effective.

Carl Jung and Freud had very different opinions about dreams. They came into many conflicts and it would seem that the collective unconsciousness of Carl Jung would contradict Freud's interpretation that dreams are merely just a personal expression of your own daily life. So there was that apparent contradiction between theories according to scientists.
 
Now what is interesting is that despite this difference, they are both revealing different aspects of a very nuanced problem. Dreams are often a reflection of our daily life, our habits, our actions, our drives, our impulses, our desires. But also according to Jung, there is something spiritual that can be experienced within that state. It does not mean that our desires, conditions of mind, mental projections, fears, anxieties, and worries that manifest in dreams are somehow sacred. In fact, there is a duality within our perception that we study very deeply in this tradition.
 
There is a conditioned self: pride, fear, anger, lust, envy, jealousy, hatred. There is also a part of us that is not conditioned by any element of that nature. It is spontaneous joy, freedom from pain, compassion. We call that the soul, or in our tradition, consciousness, the Essence of a person, their true nature. It is this Essence that we seek to develop because the Essence, the soul, which right now is in a very undeveloped, latent state, can be awakened. It can be free of all types of distractions of mind: paranoia, hatred, wrath, vanity, defects. It is that part of us that is not conditioned. It has the capacity, as we said previously, to communicate with divinity, our own inner truth, reality, what religions have called God in their original essence.
 
But the problem is that our consciousness is very much trapped and limited. So, often for most people, our dreams seem to be just a personal reflection of our daily life. We feel fear. We are worried about our jobs. We are insecure. We are proud. We are hateful, whatever it may be, whatever our particular idiosyncrasy, psychological crutch, or limp that manifests within dreams. But also Jung is pointing out there is something more here that is possible for individuals to experience and to understand, to not only initiate, but also to sustain and to perfect at will. 
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​Dreams and Visions

​So we make a very clear distinction in our studies between dreams and visions. This is where you find that distinction between Carl Jung and Freud in relation to whether dreams are collective or whether they are personal.
 
Dreams are merely projections of our own minds. Think of your experience like a film projector in which reality is a screen. Often times, rather than looking at what is there, we are always projecting ourselves onto reality. This not only occurs within the eight hours when we go to bed at night, but also even physically while we are awake. Have you ever had a conversation with someone where they are talking and then you are thinking more about what to say next? We do not even hear what they are saying. It is because we are projecting our mind, our desires, onto the impression of this person who is talking with us. That is a dream.

There are many types of dreams. We dream all the time, not only when we physically go to bed. We are dreaming in our waking life by distractions and afflictions of mind. We are going to go very deep into this very nuanced problem, how we dream all the time.
 
But a vision is different. That is when the projector stops projecting. When you are physically at rest, your consciousness is active but the mind is perfectly still, in a state of calm, peace. Then instead of churning with affliction, in the stillness and the perfect quietude of being, images from our internal worlds emerge. They reflect within our consciousness and then we live those dramas within the internal worlds. You can experience astral projections. You can experience dream yoga, lucid dreaming. We are awake in that state and then you can see what is actually there.
 
A vision often includes a type of symbol. It is a drama that is living, in which you are both a participant and a witness. Those dreams have a very allegorical character. They are very sacred, and they teach something very practical about how to live our daily life. Divinity always wants to teach us through visions, when the mind is calm and receptive, so that we can learn how to be better people, how to be more ethical, how to bind our communities, how to make people strong, to help others no longer suffer. But of course, this requires training. It is a type of work in which we are going to didactically explain through each lecture. We will study different practices so that we train the consciousness to be alert, aware, mindful. 
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​Mysticism

This in itself is genuine mysticism. The word mysticism comes from the Greek mysterion. It originates from the root word myein, “to close the eyes,” and relates to mystikos: an “initiate,” or someone who initiates a different lifestyle, what religions have defined as the sacred mysteries of communicating with the divine, like Moses on Mount Sinai, Arjuna talking to Krishna in the Bhagavad-Gita, Prophet Mohammed receiving the Qur’an from the Angel Gabriel.
 
Many of these stories bear a type of unifying element, and that is the science of dreams. These are all dream symbols. These are all visions in which, instead of having a mind that is clouded and obscured, driven by problems, by negative habits, mechanical desires, instincts, we instead have a crystal clear, sharp, open, receptive, intuitive mind, a mind that is not always churning with thoughts, but instead knows how to put thoughts in their place in order to understand.
 
That is a very distinct and different quality that meditation teaches us, not to be so caught up in rationalization, because that is a type of obscurity. As I said, we could be thinking about something, perhaps a friend, a family member, a relative, or something else, while we are with someone having a conversation. That is a dream. That is not being awake, even while physically being in the body.

Learning to become a mystic means becoming a meditator. Silence the mind. Let it relax, calm. Be clear. Be sharp and alert, not distracted, so that we can receive insight, intuitions, and understandings from that intelligence that religions have called God.
 
Again, God is not some anthropomorphic figure in the clouds, but is presence, formlessness, Being. That is how you learn to see the heavens, not just some physical place in the atmosphere or some temple someone goes to on pilgrimage. Instead, that journey is within. That understanding and experience is personal. But to do that requires we learn to comprehend how we dream. We must understand the path that leads to the cessation of dreams and leads to the awakening of consciousness.

Helena Petrovna Blavatsky stated in the scripture she transcribed known as The Voice of the Silence​:
Before the soul can see, the Harmony within must be attained, and fleshly eyes be rendered blind to all illusion. ―H. P. Blavatsky, The Voice of the Silence
​So that consciousness can perceive in the superior worlds where we go every night. When we dream, we go to sleep at night for eight hours. We astral project and enter that region, but without awareness. If we learn to overcome our own illusions, psychological habits, and conditions that trap us, we can learn to see and know these realities for ourselves. That is a form of harmony, real harmony, real integrity, the perfection of the soul, in which we end pride. We end hatred. We end fear. We stop laziness. We end lust. We end all these passions of mind and defects that we often very much cling to. When those cease and are perfectly still, then we can know something superior. That is a form of harmony in which we integrate consciousness that is usually very much dispersed in many different habits, right?

We can be at home, obviously, many people are working from home now. Hopefully, that has changed. We can be at the computer desk doing a project, but then think of something else, thinking of a friend, a fiancée, a partner, a spouse, a relative. Or we feel hungry and have the instinct to get up, to get something to snack on. Or we have the emotional feeling that “I want to listen to some other type of music now because I want to relax.” We have many elements in our psychology that are always going all over the place. We are very distracted. That in itself is the origin of many problems, because we are not really addressing the necessities of life with full consciousness, directed attention, awareness, focus―in which we finish a task, give it all of our depth, and soul, and being, so that it can be something magnificent―and really create something superior, instead of just multitasking, because that is the mind and desires going in many places. We lack integrity.
 
This is why consciousness, when it is trained, can be focused and sharpened so that when we practice that skill in the day, physically, when you go to bed at night, your consciousness is already trained. It is exercised. It knows how to work. Instead of falling asleep and after eight hours, waking up in the morning without any remembrance, we enter that dream world with lucidity, with intentionality, with focus.
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​The Fifth Dimension

​So what is the dream world? This is something that has fascinated a lot of people for as long as there has been recorded history and scriptures.
 
We mentioned in the first lecture how the world of dreams is the same place as the world of the dead. This is why in Greek mythology, Hypnos and Thanatos, sleep and death, are brothers. If you want to know how conscious you will be when you die, look at how you are when you go to sleep. Do you remember anything? Or do you just sleep eight hours and nothing? That is a barometer of how conscious you are.
 
While this can be a very disturbing realization, the truth and reality are that there is the potential to develop something truly profound. That is something that is learned. It is a gradual skill.
 
I know some people like to think of astral projection as given to only the few who are graced by divinity. It was just given to them at birth. The reality is that is not true. At some point in the development of that individual soul, that person had to work. It is acquired. It is a form of self-mastery, in which by training oneself, one can go into what is known as the fifth dimension. Some people call it the astral plane, the world of dreams, heavens, jannat amongst the Sufis and the Muslims. Whatever name we want to give to that reality, it is the fifth dimension.

Now, in terms of dimensionality, we are all familiar with three dimensions: length, height, and width, the physical plane. But scientists have also talked about the fourth dimension, which is time. Einstein is very famous for talking about relativity, the space-time continuum, which is basically a form of development and temporality in which all experience at our level is processed.
 
But the astral world is beyond time. The world of dreams, the world of the dead, is beyond time. That is why if you awaken consciousness within that state, you can see things happen there that are going to come true physically later. The fifth dimension is beyond time, things you can witness that are from the past, the present, and the future. That is why in the Book of Daniel in the Bible, prophets such as Daniel were able to interpret events that were going to come true later through his dreams. This is the essence of prophecy.
 
But also one can see the past in a very visual form. It is like watching a movie, in which you are witnessing events but also participating in them. Some people have called this the Akashic Records, the memories of nature in which every action is recorded and imprinted within nature. That is known as eternity. Eternity is also a circle, but it is also a loop, because past, present, future meld into an eternal now―something very beautiful, mystical.

If you want an example of that, I remember, a long time ago, walking in the astral plane. I was in some city. I was just looking at the billboards because I was curious. I was practicing my mindfulness and being in remembrance of myself and not losing my attention, just observing the things going on there.
 
When I am talking about that type of experience, I do not mean it is something vague or unclear or amorphous. There is more color, lucidity, crispness, depth than even being physically awake. We have that potential.
 
So I remember looking at a billboard and I saw an advertisement for a movie that had not come out yet. I believe it was one of the Indiana Jones films: “The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” or something like that. I woke up, and then, I do not know, six, seven years later they announced that they are making this film. So I just found that interesting. Whether or not it has some utility is another thing, but it is interesting. I saw something that existed in the internal world before it became physical.
 
That is what inventions are like. People imagine or conceptualize or have an idea for something. It exists within the astral world before it becomes physical. That is just the way the universe and the mind work. Things kind of just trickle down from more abstract realities into more manifest reality―so, something timeless, but because it is beyond time, you can see things that are going to happen, that have happened.

In this dimension, you can fly. You can teleport. You can walk through walls, because that dimension is governed by very different laws: elasticity, plasticity, levitation. This is why people report dreams of flying. Perhaps we have had that experience ourselves, levitating in the air, going places.
 
But for most of us, we do not really see what is there objectively. We tend to just interact with our own mind, because our mind, as I said, projects its dreams onto the screen of that dimension. So we do not really, in our current state, see the objectivity of that plane. But if you turn the projector off, quiet the mind, enter meditation, concentration, awareness, you can enter that state with vigilance, with awareness, and then actually see what is going on. That is the real joy and beauty and mystery of that type of science. 

​Who Dreams?

​So the question becomes: who dreams?

As I said, or hinted at, we often like to think that because we go to bed for eight hours and we do not see anything, that we do not dream, but the truth is that we are dreaming all the time.
 
We dream when we are washing the dishes. We are remembering or recalling something in the day or projecting an idea about the future, like what we are going to do later, but not actually watching what we are doing.
 
We can be driving our car, having a conversation, or listening to the radio, thinking about it, trying to analyze a podcast, perhaps, but we are not paying attention to the road and we get into an accident. It is because we are dreaming.
 
People get on the train and while reading a book, get lost in revelry, thoughts, fantasies, daydreams, recollections, and then we realize that we missed our stop. It is because we are dreaming. We are not awake.

Of course, even at a very basic level, it is easy to understand that there are certain problems to this. Perhaps we are at a job where we have to pay attention to learn new skills, but if we are thinking of something else and we get distracted, we are losing something essential and that we have to ask again for help, and perhaps that could be annoying to an employer. We are dreaming all the time.
 
So what is important to remember is that the dreamer can awaken. It is a very famous trope you find even in movies like Dune, or Frank Herbert's book. “The sleeper must awaken.”

All religions teach the need to awaken consciousness. “Awake, awake, Deborah, arise Barak," says the Old Testament, I believe in the Book of Judges, the story of the Prophetess Deborah, made the declaration saying "you need to awaken consciousness," because we have the illusion that we are awake, that we are present, that we are mindful, that we are aware.

Often times, if we are very serious and analyze our daily state, we find that we are usually very distracted. Our thoughts are in one place, our feelings are in another, and our desire to act is conflicted. We are split. But by learning through training to focus on what we are doing at all times, to be aware, to be observing ourselves, our thought processes, our emotional reactions to life, our sentiments, and also our will to act, our impulses, we start to discover that we are something much deeper than thought, feeling, and will―something much more profound.
 
Consciousness exists even before thought. I know in our Western culture we like to idolize thinking quite a bit, but in truth, it is actually a very slow machine. It is a processor of energy and matter and perception at its level. We need the intellect and to know how to use it, but it is not really the defining factor of an individual.
 
We can touch a hot stove, burn our hand, and retract our hand in pain. We have the instinct, the impulse, to first get out of danger. Perhaps we feel frustrated and angry. We feel that visceral pain of having been burned, and then we think right after that, “that really hurt!”  It shows us that thought is actually a much slower process than many other aspects of our psychology.
 
The reason why I am mentioning all of this is that if we want to understand what awakening consciousness is within the dream state, it is important to understand how we process information and experiences in life in different ways. We will go into a lot of depth into this, specifically when we talk about “How Do We Dream?” But by understanding our own thinking, our feelings, and our impulses, we no longer let those habits and desires simply run amuck. We understand them.
 
Instead, we can respond to life with intelligence instead of just reacting to someone when someone criticizes us or when we feel anger or fear or depression or whatever it may be. All of those are forms of dreams, different thoughts perhaps, but also many times different types of emotions which we often indulge in, in life.
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​Sushupti: Profound Sleep

We explain that there are different types of consciousness, different states. 

There is Sushupti, which is profound sleep. That often is associated within Hinduism and Yoga as physically going to bed, and when eight hours pass, we do not remember anything.
 
But also on a more practical level for us, there is profound sleep when we look at mobs, lynches, crowds propelled by violence, war, because those people, even though they are physically active doing things, they are not really conscious of their neighbor. They are driven by fear, instinct, self-preservation, the desire to kill. That is a profound state of sleep, in a spiritual sense, in a conscious sense. If we were really conscious of other human beings, we would feel love and compassion for them, because we understand that we all have the natural inclination to avoid suffering and find happiness. Everyone has that ingrained within the substrate of their very being.
 
So Sushupti is profound sleep. Basically, people who are murderers, who kill, who commit violence in any form, are very unconscious. It is important to dissociate from the assumption that sleep is merely just related to the physical body, because the physical body, in truth, could be doing things, but yet we are not aware. This is very well known in Yoga and Buddhism especially.
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​Swapna: Dreaming Sleep

Let us talk about Swapna, dreaming sleep. What is dreaming sleep?
 
As I said, we dream in the day, often. We can argue with people, wanting to assert our beliefs, political ideas, religion, culture, race, doctrine. All these things that our modern world often adulates and worships are in fact a form of dreaming. It is an illusion. These such things are very temporal. They do not last. They are not eternal.
 
The soul, the consciousness is eternal. It does not have a beginning and an end in its ultimate sense. We adopt different beliefs and ideas and cultures and habits and ways of thinking whenever we lose that connection with our true origins. We are often very much distanced from our true nature, but we can see glimpses of it day-to-day. We find selfless acts of heroism, compassion, love, sacrifice, benevolence, patience, kindness, in which we are not really thinking for ourselves. We are doing for others. But those types of experiences tend to be very minimal―if we are honest―very limited.
 
What we have instead are a lot of dreams: “I am a republican.” “I am a democrat.” “I am a capitalist. “I am a socialist.” “I am a philosopher.” “I am a scientist.” We have a lot of ideas about who we are. We often cling to things―our name, our culture, our habits, our beliefs―as something substantial, as something permanent. But the truth is that these things always change, right? There are always perhaps different circumstances that happen in our life. To use a very silly example, maybe we are a republican, then something happened in the media, especially in this past year, and then we change our beliefs. We change our ideas. But the truth is that even those ideas do not necessarily have a type of eternity. There are conditions. They do not really reflect the type of values that we call the divine. So knowing that distinction is very challenging. It is very difficult because of attachment, because of the type of hypnosis of identifying with our own conditions of mind, habits, etc. 
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​Jagrat: Waking Consciousness

This is why we study Jagrat, which is waking consciousness. Notice we are not just talking about the wakeful body, that the body is awake. This does not just refer to the physical body being active and doing things, because we can be, as I said, driving our car but not paying attention. It has to do with consciousness that is perceptive, that is alert, that is understanding, that is seeing the impressions of life, but not necessarily just labeling experiences with the intellect or judging a person based on our emotions.
 
Perhaps we feel aversion to someone based on their race or their caste, their culture, their language, their beliefs, their politics. We feel perhaps negative emotions about them, resentments, pride―whatever it may be. Or certain relationships, we feel conflicted. We do not know how to act around certain people and we kind of get stuck between this clumsy deliberation.
 
But the reality is that waking consciousness knows how to intuitively respond to any situation with lucidity, with compassion. It does not necessarily mean complacency, like letting a person walk all over you. Consciousness can be firm, but loving, kind, patient. It does not identify with problems in life. It does not suffer. The consciousness knows how to act. It is the intuition of knowing what to do at any time. You do not have to think about it. It is beyond thought.
 
I know in one example, I remember I had a conflict with a person from years ago and I was in a situation where, years later, I had to speak to her out of necessity. I could not avoid her. I felt that conflict in myself, that fear like “I do not want to talk to this person,” the thoughts, and the logic, and the reasoning, and the resentments, that were stewing there. But then I was observing all that process in myself and I understood that, just by looking at that defect within me, that it was wrong. I intuitively knew that this person is suffering, therefore, “I am going to act.” Putting my prejudice and self behind me, I went up to the person and had a conversation with her, and it turns out that she was very grateful for me, for showing that olive branch and making that connection. That is one example of really being awake. I just saw myself, my own defects, observing that. That is waking consciousness.
 
We have a practice in our tradition called self-observation in which we learn to understand the origin of thought, feeling, and will, even before they emerge, because we are activating that sense and skill within us that is often very atrophied. 
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​Turiya: Spiritual Illumination

It is in that way that we can access what is known as Turiya. This is spiritual illumination. This is what all the diverse religious traditions have called ecstasy, samadhi, spiritual states in which there is no distortion of mind there. In terms of dream yoga, you can be physically in bed, have an astral projection, and there is no type of obscuration in your perception. You are seeing what is there. You are fully lucid. You are clear. You are in control, and you can investigate and you can navigate those regions with competency.
 
It also has to do with the type of perception relating to a divine being like a prophet. We call them masters. We call them buddhas, angels, gods. They do not have pride, laziness, fear, calumny, gossip. They are perfect―no fault. We can access a state like that in a temporary sense, but obviously, it is something that has to be gradually developed through discipline. But there are beings, prophets, angels―whatever you want to call them―who did it. This is why we study their teachings very profoundly, in their original sources, not what institutions say they say, but what are they actually saying from experience. In that way, we have no doubt. 
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​The Line of Life

​We talk in our studies about the line of life.
 
It is very important to analyze where we have come from and where we are going. That is why many people study religion and spirituality in general. They have a yearning to understand the origin of the soul, the origin of the world, the meaning of faith, the meaning of compassion, where we came from and why do we suffer. Perhaps that is the most compelling reason why anyone goes to any church or school or religion or community.
 
We study the line of our life very diligently because our own life is a book. It has many chapters. If we want to have self-knowledge about higher realities, it begins by knowing ourselves, knowing where we came from physically, but also psychologically, our habits, our ideas, our personality, our culture. These are the things that come to us. Or better even said, we come to it. I think that is even an more accurate description.
 
We are born in this world, and as children, we are very innocent. If we look at any child, we see the beauty of the soul there that has not been tainted or contaminated by defects. But with time and through gradual exposure to parents, school, family, language, culture, customs, that initial brilliance of a child is dimmed. It gets swallowed by pride, anger, hatred, defects. We call that ego, self, egotism, desire.
 
Most people tend to go through their life, from that initial state, acquiring and acquiring more experiences, accumulating more and more―family, job, reputation, income, retirement, whatever it may be. While there are necessary components of life that we need to work with, it is not the definition of a person. There is something more. There has to be something more than being born and going through adolescence with all of its turmoil and suffering, its pain, its uncertainty, its abuse, becoming adults who are trying to piece together their lives, and then getting married, having children, and then dying, and then… what then?
 
Why be so caught up in that? It does not mean that we reject all these things and live like hermits. That is another extreme to life that does not offer a very long-term solution.
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​The Line of Being

​Instead, we begin where we are at. Fortunately for our spiritual life, there is something more. There is a point that intersects with our daily existence. We call it the vertical path. On the horizontal beam, we have the line of life, but here vertically intersecting in the form of a cross, we have a line of being. This has to do with the quality of our life, the quality of our states.
 
Of course, as you see here, there are inferior qualities of life and psychology and also superior states of mind. I have named some of them for you. In the inferior levels, you have ego, selfishness, more attachment, more aversion, more craving, more desire to accumulate more and more, many ideas, theories, beliefs, philosophies, doctrines. The mind just wants to saturate itself and acquire more and more information, because it thinks by feeding that desire, we are going to be happy.

Knowledge is useful in its place, but it is not fundamental for a person to be spiritual. There is a balance there. We have to make that distinction.
 
We often go from birth to death dreaming. We dream while we drive our car. We dream on the train. We dream while married. We dream while making love. We dream and have many desires and beliefs and habits that we invest our energy into. Wherever we direct our attention, we expend energy. We often find in life that we are very depleted, which is why as we approach our elder years, we are decrepit. We are sick. We are old. We are weakened. That energy that can fuel our spirituality is often very much wasted, invested in the wrong things, identified with the wrong things.

When we die, most people go to the grave, they enter the dream world, but are not aware that they are dead. Personally, I met my grandfather in the astral plane. He died a long time ago. I was in a room with my family who were still alive, talking with them, and then I realized, “why am I talking to my grandfather here? He is dead!” As I was talking to them, they did not know where they were.
 
So it is a pretty alarming thing, and something that should not necessarily fill someone with fear, but with urgency. It is a very different, nuanced principle, to have urgency. To want to awaken consciousness is different from being fearful: “Oh, if I go to the grave, then what?” Fear is another condition of the mind. It is an inferior state of being, something that we can overcome by looking at it. By learning to understand ourselves in the moment, we can access superior states of consciousness and then we stop dreaming. We are no longer filled with fear, with agony, more problems.

The superior line of being is developed in us where we ascend vertically in the moment. It has nothing to do with time. Spiritual development, in a conventional sense, occurs gradually, obviously, because we are in physical bodies. We are in this physical world and we are subjected to the laws of nature, time especially, the fourth dimension. But the consciousness does not belong to time. It is eternal. But unfortunately, because we dream physically, we are not aware of it. We do not realize it from experience.  

Anybody who has had an astral projection obviously has tasted some glimpse of that and knows for themselves that it is real, and that we are more than just our physical body. So this pushes us to want to know ourselves, know our defects, our faults, so that we cease dreaming.
 
We are aware of the moment, because every moment we advance towards death. We progress in this line of life towards an inescapable end. But this should not be a source of morbidity or shame, anxiety. Obviously, these are emotions that are very common for people, because we do not understand where we came from or where we are going. But if you awaken your consciousness, you will know. You know where you came from, where you are, and where you are going, what your trajectory is.
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​We follow the trajectory of our actions through life, consciously or unconsciously. By making conscious decisions, we are learning to develop our perception so that, physically, when we die, we welcome it―not out of some quirkiness, being dark. Instead, it is born out of acceptance and understanding. For me personally, I know what will happen when I die. I have been able to awaken enough consciousness within the internal worlds to be shown what it is like after the body is dead. Therefore, why be afraid? You do not have to be afraid. It is a natural process.
 
What one could be afraid of instead is not living one's life ethically, taking advantage of this precious time that we have, moment by moment, to make changes, small changes, gradually.  In that way, we do not necessarily become victims of life. We do not react to problems. Instead, we can comprehend our situation and learn to respond with intelligence.
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​Kabbalah: The Tree of Life

We talked briefly about this image in our previous lecture, something that we will go back to periodically. It is known as the Tree of Life. It is a Jewish symbol, but also a universal one.
 
In Jewish mysticism, they talk about Kabbalah. This is the Tree of Life within the Book of Genesis. Rather than constituting a literal tree in Mesopotamia that existed however long ago in the physical Middle East, it is really a symbol. It is a map of consciousness.
 
It depicts the inferior states of consciousness and the most superior, ascending towards a higher and more elevated spirituality. These are not spheres or levels of being that are mapped out in physical space. It is not like there is some sort of verticality to this. It is a symbol. It is an allegory. These spheres, known as סְפִירוֹת sephiroth in Hebrew, are known as emanations. They are qualities of consciousness. They are also dimensions. This is a map of us as a psyche, but also of divinity, and also where we go when we sleep, when we dream. There are different levels of matter, energy, and consciousness.

Right now we are in the bottom sphere. This is known as מלכות Malkuth in Hebrew [the Kingdom], the physical world? It is our physical body.
 
Above that, we have our vitality, our creative energy. This is known as the fourth dimension. So the third dimension is below and the fourth dimension is above. This is time. It is known as יְסוֹד
Yesod, the foundation, because how we work with our energy is the foundation of spiritual life. As I said, wherever we direct attention and energy, we spend it. So if we spend it within our consciousness, we can conserve that force and learn to awaken our potential.
 
What people call the astral plane is known as הוד Hod, meaning “splendor” in Hebrew. It is this sphere at bottom of the left pillar, as you see here. We call that the astral plane. This is typically where people go when they have superior astral projections.
 
To the right of that, we have נצח Netzach, which means “victory.” This is known as the mental world. So there is a mental plane and an emotional plane, mind and heart. These two spheres constitute what is known as the fifth dimension. This is eternity. יְסוֹד Yesod is the fourth dimension. מלכות Malkuth is the third dimension.

But we have inferior dimensions as well, what religions have called hell or the hell realms. Those states are experienced through nightmares. That is hell in a direct way. It is a type of experience that is real, but not in physical matter, energy, and perception, but it is in a more subtle form of experience. This is why we often interact within those states within dreams but do not realize that it is not physical, because the internal worlds reflect the physical and vice versa.
 
Above we have more superior states, which I will not go into depth here. We have a future lecture that we will talk about called Where Do We Dream? But I want to just summarize this because it is a very beautiful graphic, a very practical tool.
 
We can use it to understand our experiences, but also when we travel within those dimensions, we can know how to navigate it, because this is the map so to speak. It is important to know and learn this glyph with time because just as one would not travel to another country without knowing its language, its geography, its culture, its goods and bad, in the same way, it is reasonable for dream yogis, practitioners of this science, to understand the structure of that inner reality, so that when you experience it, you know how to navigate. It is a very gradual process which we will talk about in detail.

Practice

​So we will conclude with an exercise that you can use in order to develop what is known as concentration. As I said, by learning to develop concentration, awareness, mindfulness throughout the day, the ability to focus on one thing without being distracted, we no longer dream. We teach the consciousness to not dream. We teach it to be awake. In that way, that skill will transition from visible life to dreaming life.
 
So every day, develop self-observation from moment to moment. At the end of each day, reflect on how you did. So this has to do with learning to observe our psychology. It is like being a director in a movie, in which you are the actor, but you are also viewing the scene. Consciousness has the capacity to observe, to intuit, to understand, and this skill has to do with whenever a thought emerges, look at it. Observe it.
 
You may know that you are seated in this chair listening to me, but are you observing the fact? It is a different skill. Then as we are learning to self-observe throughout the day, obviously it is going to be very challenging. You might realize even before coming here that learning to be mindful and aware throughout the day can be difficult because there are just so many distractions, whether externally or even our own emotional reactions, our thoughts, etc.
 
At the end of each day, just take five minutes. Reflect: how mindful were you? How observant? how aware? Then, every day perform this preliminary meditation exercise: 
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Carefully relax your body, heart, and mind. Observe an object such as an image or a lit candle flame without preoccupying yourself in thought, memories or distractions. If you forget yourself, return to the object of the practice.
 
Practice ten to fifteen-minute sessions at least two or three times a day.
 
So, we are going to practice this together―if you like―we can stay after. We have a candle here. You just take the candle and observe it. If your mind starts thinking of something else or labeling ideas or talking about it, just become aware of it. Do not try to repress, push it away, or try to get lost in it. Instead, just return to the candle. It is a beautiful exercise in which we learn to understand the distinction between knowing what is going on but also observing it. As I said, you can know something is going on. By sitting in a chair, you can know that you are in the chair, but observing it is active. Knowing is passive―different quality.

At this time I would like to invite you to ask questions.

​Questions and Answers

Question: I am a little confused about the self-observation practice. So you are saying that if I am thinking about something that I can not be self-observing? Or is it possible to be both thinking and self-observing? In my job I am thinking a lot. It is an intellectual job, and how am I supposed to be self-observing during the day when I need to also think in my job?

Instructor: That is a good question. The latter is the answer. You can be thinking and doing intellectual things, but observe that. Some people think of self-observation as like “I have to stop thinking.” In the higher degrees of understanding, we do not need to think. But we begin with where we are at. If we have a job that is very intellectual where we are thinking, or teaching, perhaps reading a book, reading something about our job that we have to do―read, but observe that. It is difficult, but it is a skill that is acquired. It comes with patience.

Question: I have seen people who are yogis and they sit still. Is it normal or is it an indication that something is not right if you are not still? There are some actions of the body, which while sitting for a long time that suddenly happens, and I get that feeling that it is not right. Does it show a lack of attention or concentration? How do I realize that? Am I in the moment or not in the moment?

Instructor: Great question. For most people who are not training in mindfulness, it is not a problem because they are not really interested in learning about being conscious of themselves. But as we are learning to self-observe or do a meditation practice, it is important to understand even our involuntary movements―like, perhaps, scratching, or twisting our fingers, or moving a leg, or whatever it may be. Tapping your foot, you know, is a very common thing.
 
But we have to become aware of that. If you find that you are doing that, observe yourself and then reflect: where is that impulse coming from? It is not necessarily an intellectual question, but it is a perceptive one. You are just analyzing and being mindful of why you are doing that. I think oftentimes, at least for me, when I have observed that in myself, I have come to understand that there is some type of psychological defect in me that is perhaps impatient, or bored―or whatever it may be―agitated. Something psychological is going on in a deeper sense that I am not aware of.
 
So it does not necessarily mean to have to force your body to be still, but it is better if you just observe it and understand it, because if you understand it, then your psychology is quiet, right? All physical actions are a material manifestation of our internal reality. So things that happen physically come because, psychologically, there is something there.
 
One thing I wanted to mention is that in one of the earlier slides about the fifth dimension, I mentioned that things happen internally and then manifest physically. The same thing happens with our psychology. So this proves to us that we are in truth very multidimensional. Our thoughts are one thing, our emotions are another dimension to ourselves, and our instincts are another. The more understanding you have of your own psychological impulses, the more you comprehend why you are tapping, and you will stop.
 
It does not have to be something like, “I cannot tap my foot,” right? That is kind of the mind fighting the mind, and that is not what we are advocating. Instead, it is something about observing yourself, understanding where it comes from, and when you understand that impulse, it quiets, ceases. I believe even Gurdjieff mentioned quite a bit about the need to no longer be doing movements of our body involuntarily, carelessly. It means that we are very unconscious. In fact, one of the best ways to learn self-observation is learning about your posture. Learn about your breathing. Learn about your habits. It is a very simple way to begin. You may notice that perhaps you crack your fingers, or whatever it may be. Begin with that, and as you get more confident, understanding those impulses, then the more relaxed you become. That is really important for meditation, having a relaxed mind, heart, and body. When you have that, meditation is open to you when you are concentrated, when you are aware.

Question: Is there a difference between waking in a dream versus allowing your body to fall asleep and maintaining consciousness?

Instructor: Yeah, it has to do with when you enter the astral world. You might fall asleep physically and unconsciously project and then you wake up in a dream later. That happens all the time. Then other times, obviously, the goal is to learn to fall asleep consciously, so that you enter that state with awareness. So it has to do with how attentive you are.
 
Oftentimes you can wake up in a dream later because, even though you were not conscious in the beginning, suddenly you start to expand your perception, where you are seeing your surroundings in the astral plane. Maybe you are walking down a street of your old neighborhood wherever you grew up, and then you realized, “Oh, what am I doing here?” For me, I tend to have dreams where I will be at my old house where I grew up as a kid, and I will recognize my surroundings and question, “What am I doing here? How did I get here?” I remember where I came from. I  am living in the city now, not out in the suburbs.
 
So then you can learn to question that and develop that inquiry. That is something you can only develop by learning mindfulness throughout the day. You are self-observing. You are becoming aware of your different thought processes, feelings, impulses, and when you train your consciousness to do that during the day, even when you physically go to sleep, even if you are not aware of an astral projection, you can suddenly start to see things in your dreams where you are getting more lucidity. The consciousness is being trained, is being strengthened. So learning to concentrate and develop those skills helps to see more clearly, awaken more perception. So you can wake up later in the night too. It is different from a conscious astral projection. We are going to talk about how to awaken in dreams later on, specifically.

Question: So earlier you were talking about how Sushupti is a sign of that most profound state of unconscious sleep. You mentioned that some murderers are in a state of profound sleep of consciousness because they do not feel compassion for other people. But can some people be awakened in evil, because some murderers are very conscious of what they are doing you know, like serial killers? It is not like they are asleep. I see what you are saying that they are identified with, like anger or violence or something like that. Could you explain that distinction?

Instructor: Sure! It has to do with the individual. As we mentioned before, we can be aware that we are killing someone. I know a lot of people talk about mindfulness and awareness as sometimes the end-all and be-all of spirituality, but it is just the beginning. Being aware of yourself, so that you can be understanding of where you are at, is the initial step of learning to be a conscious and ethical person. The next step is learning to transform situations with compassion, learning to transform the impression of a situation with awareness, with understanding, better said.
 
But there is also another flip side to that coin. I mentioned to you and showed you that image of superior states of being and inferior states. We can awaken positively within our consciousness or we can awaken within desire, within hatred, within anger, within pride, because awakening is dual. It does not always end up positively. Now, awakening negatively has to do with giving one's energy to one's desires. So one can be very awake, but through hatred or pride or vanity, and therefore they develop a lot of power in that element. They tend to be very dangerous individuals because they are very influential. They can even be charismatic, influential people.
 
The difference between the type of unconsciousness I was referring to is for most people. People who have never really trained in any type of spirituality tend to just go with the flow of life. If there is a crowd, they get attracted to it and they go to it. It is kind of a collective hive mind so to speak. But there are people that learn to train themselves to awaken within their own defects, and that is something we do not teach. It is a negative thing.

Question: So the first step is to be awake and be conscious of what I am doing? Then you are saying later on that I have to learn to discern between if what I am doing is driven by pride, or anger, or revenge, on someone? How do I know that it is not that and I am awakening in a good way?

Instructor: Follow your heart. Look at your heart. Your conscience is the best guide. Unfortunately, there are people in our society, in our world, that do not even have a conscience anymore, and therefore those people tend to be very lost causes. But if you look in your heart and examine in a moment an action you performed where you felt pain; your heart will tell you what is right and what is wrong, in most normal people, but not psychopaths, so to speak.
 
For example, you get into an argument with someone and you are telling yourself, “I want to be patient with this family member.” Then you start to observe in yourself that they start pushing your buttons, because family members know how to do that―resentment, pride, fear, anger, whatever comes up. You are aware of that. Now, just because you are aware of that does not mean that you are going to act ethically, transforming the situation, transforming your consciousness.
 
The way that you do it is by following the different precepts of different traditions, religions, like kindness and selflessness. If someone insults you; understand the insult, understand where it is coming from and why. Understand that we are not perfect, so why be offended? It is really nothing stable there. Then follow your heart about how you should act, because your heart knows. That is conscience. That is intuition, knowing without having to think about it.
 
But of course, the difficulty becomes that our mind wants to devour us: anger with its logic says: “They offended me. I am going to get back at them!” So when you observe that process in you, that is great. You are starting to see and understand how you are dreaming. The anger is dreaming. It is projecting its desires. It thinks it is being offended and insulted and it is seeing the situation through a lens. Is it not true that when we are angry, we only see through anger? You do not see through any other way. Every situation becomes interpreted through a false door. That is one way that we sleep. So observe that.
 
The beginning of change is to stop dreaming. But just because you learn to stop dreaming, in the beginning, does not mean that you are going to be successful, because you just have to really work at it. See what is happening. Be aware of it, and then act appropriately. That is the next step.

Question: We are about to do the practice with the candle and I know there are other techniques that you can use to awaken in dreams. What would be the best method to awaken consciousness here and now?

Instructor: So, there is a lot of things that complement this, right? There is a lot of facets. We will talk about it in a lot of detail. I will explain this to you now, but in the future, we are going to go really in-depth about different ways to do it. Working with all of them together is like building a puzzle.
 
Now as you said, the primary method is to be aware of yourself in the day. That is why at the very beginning of this course, we are just talking about p, “what are dreams, who dreams, how do we dream?” Be aware of it because that is the foundation. Be aware of how you get distracted in the day and learn to curtail that, not with a type of militant despotism, but with recollection. Remembering yourself is how you start to really use the tools in this course. It is like, for example, if you learn to work with a machine. You have to be aware of yourself first to work it. Children obviously can not operate difficult machinery and that is why you get trained physically. First, you let them grow up. In the same way, we learn to grow up spiritually as a child by learning to awaken our consciousness. Then we start using these different tools and techniques to kind of augment that.

So one of the techniques we use is called the Key of Sol. We have a whole lecture that is going to be about that, where it is an acronym: subject, object, location.
 
Subject: who am I? What are my thoughts? What are my feelings? What are my actions?

Object: what is in front of me? What am I seeing? Not necessarily questioning with the intellect, but just being inquisitive, the way that a child is inquisitive when they are growing up and looking at a toy or creating something from the imagination. It is a very innocent quality. It does not assume that there is anything there, or merely just projects memories onto reality, but looks at it.
 
You know, we can be in our house oftentimes, our home, and we do not really observe where we are at, because we just have things in our memory, right? It is easy to get into an accident even in your own home. A lot of people get hurt in their own homes because they are not paying attention. They think they know what is going on or what is around them. Instead, we are not observing. Object has to do with what is in front of us. Subject―ourselves.
 
Location: where are we? Inquire. Where am I? What am I doing? It might seem silly, obviously, being physically here in this world, but if you learn to train your consciousness in that way, you will eventually start to see things in your dreams because you are observing your thoughts, your feelings, your actions. You start to see objects in front of you and then a location in dreams. Maybe you are not in Chicago in a dream. That is a big alert. Question yourself: “I live in Chicago. How did I get here?” And then you start to realize, “I think I am dreaming. How did I end up in Spain? How did that happen to me?” I found myself in Spain in the astral plane and I am like, “people are talking Spanish. Why are they talking Spanish? What is going on? Where am I?” I realized that I was dreaming.
 
Then if you want to test yourself, you pull your finger. In the astral plane, the matter of your astral body is ductile. It is elastic. Pull it with the intention of making it stretch. If you are intentional enough and gentle enough, obviously, physically, you do not want to do this too hard. You do not want to hurt yourself. In the dream, it will stretch. Then you will realize, “I could not do that physically. I am dreaming. I am in the astral world! “ That is something you can do physically where you are just training yourself, and then you just get in the habit of questioning, “where am I?” Then physically, discretely, when no one is watching you―thinking you are perhaps weird or unusual―just pull your finger.
 
In dreams, you can also jump in the air and see if you are going to levitate, right? See if you fly. You can do it physically too, but I like to be more discrete because I am not going to be jumping around and my co-workers looking around at me like, “something strange is going on.” Instead, pull your finger. That is one method, a very good one, very effective.
 
Or try something else: you can put your hand through a window to see if you are going to pass it through. I have done that many times and it works too. The only reason that it works is because we learn to question our dreams. Be self-observant moment by moment.

Question: In the questioning of daily life when we are not sleeping, is that what helps us to wake up when we are sleeping?

Instructor: Exactly. It is the questioning. It is the inquiry.

Question: Is this an intellectual kind of labeling like, “Ok, location. You are in the studio―me, my name?” Or how can I make this conscious and not just in the intellect?

Instructor: Practice. Just do it. Then you find in time that it is not an intellectual thing. In the beginning, you can question yourself. It is easier that way, right? It becomes more of a habit. The beauty of the practice is that it teaches us how to start from being mechanical to how to be conscious. So you are learning to take something that is very mechanical like just walking in the street, or even pulling your finger, or jumping in the air, right? It is a common thing you can do, but with time and practice, you learn to start doing it with awareness. It just takes acclimation, getting used to it, to the point that you may even have times where you have trained yourself so well that suddenly you become vivid in a dream and you know you are dreaming, and then you jump in the air and fly away and go and investigate something. 

Question: You talked about the two kinds of dreams you can have, the self-projecting kind and then the fifth dimension kind. Can you lucid dream in both of those?

Instructor: Definitely. Great question. Both. You could be lucid in a dream where you still do not realize you are dreaming.
 
For a lot of people there is a big step or hurdle there, where suddenly you may have the experience where you see a lot of different colors, and images, and landscapes, perhaps, but you do not really question that you are dreaming. The first step is awareness. The second step is discernment. That is a very delicate skill that comes about as we learn to be more aware physically but also learning to discern our own psychological states. This is the same skill that you use to comprehend how whether or not you are seeing things clearly through the lens of fear, or anxiety, or anger, or whatever it may be. Instead, we are learning to see life without egotism. We need to discern our own psychological states.
 
It gets easier to discern our surroundings, so that when you are lucid dreaming, you see things more clearly, you can start to question things and then make the leap. When you recognize, “Ok, I think I am dreaming here,” where you even make that first declaration to yourself. That  is a big step, just recognizing and questioning, “Am I here?” That is the starting point.
 
Sometimes it is possible to have visions where you are receiving a divine symbol from your inner divinity through a mystical experience. It can be happening and you are kind of just taking it all in, but you are not necessarily fully aware that you are dreaming, or that you are in that experience, and then you wake up and then suddenly realize, “Whoa, I think I just got an experience from my inner God!” So there is that reality too. But with enough training, you start to learn to be in that state and then suddenly make the discerned judgment of what is actually going on, and then you can say with confidence that “I am dreaming.”

Question: So can you be lucid during a projection of your own mind? Like how you dream at night is a projection of my fear. Can I wake up in that?

Instructor: Yeah…

Question: Or I can only wake up in the objective in the fifth dimension?

Instructor: Both. In the sense that you can be having a very lucid dream in which your ego is projecting things and you are just seeing your own desires, and even in the middle of that, even if it is very intense and vivid, you can start to realize that “This is kind of crazy,” like “why am I seeing this action film playing out in front of me, and all this weird logic going on?” You can discern, “There is something going on here,” and then you realize, “I think I am dreaming!” It is possible, but usually, with those very intense egotistical dreams, we tend to just go along with it because we are very sleepy.
 
But visions that are more objective, relating to our own inner divinity, occur within the superior fifth dimension, you could say. We call it the heavenly realms, the heavenly world. It just takes practice and a lot of meditation. You have those experiences and maybe you do not understand them at first, but you know, with patience you learn to discern between them.
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<![CDATA[Fact and Fiction]]>Sat, 17 Jul 2021 05:00:00 GMThttp://chicagognosis.org/lectures/fact-and-fiction
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This is a powerful topic, one that has captivated generations of people, primarily because in reality, the study of dreams, internal experiences, and the awakening of consciousness within our interior, has very ancient traditions, very profound roots that are not merely a new age novelty. Instead, there have been many practitioners, amongst many diverse religions, who have learned to experience the reality of the dreaming state, and to verify, from their own internal work, how to receive guidance about truly pertinent problems in our daily life.
 
Anyone who has approached the study of dreams is obviously very interested and invested in understanding some type of experience, some type of inner vision. Perhaps in childhood, we experienced a dream of vivid intensity, of profound clarity, of deep mysticism. This demonstrates for us what is lacking in many forms of religion, which is precisely this experiential dynamic of knowing, for oneself, higher mysteries, higher truths, so that with this knowledge, we can orient ourselves and have a deeper, more profound, enriched spiritual life.
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What are out-of-body experiences (OBEs)?

Out-of-body experiences, near-death experiences, astral projections, lucid dreams, have been known by many names. It is known as dream yoga, from the Sanskrit yug (योग yoga), “to unite, to bind.” But to bind with what?
 
All religions teach, from the experiences of their founders, that there is a divinity inside, whom we can access and understand from experience. We can reunite with a truly higher principle, and in that way, we experience genuine religion, from the Latin, religare, “to rebind.” It is the same meaning in both East, and West―different terms, the same principle.
 
Even the Arabic دين Din, meaning “religion,” has to do with this type of experience. It is judgment, but not of a tyrannical God who punishes those who does not obey a certain code. Instead, it is our own inner process of judging our own faults, so that by comprehending our own conditions and mistakes, our own flaws of character, we can truly awaken our full potential. Thereby we experience the realities of what people call lucid dreams, astral projections, etc.
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The Yoga of the Dream State

In the East this term is known as स्वप्नदर्शन Svapnadarśana: the yoga of the dream state. Swapna indicates “dreaming sleep,” and darshana is “auspicious sight,” “revealing” or “appearance.” It is the reverence and the awe that the soul feels when in that state and is directly communicating with our innermost divinity.
 
If you want examples of what this is presenting, we can look at the story of Moses, such as receiving on a mountain a prophetic vision, where he received the Decalogue, a guidance and instruction for humanity. Or in the Baghavad Gita, Arjuna seeing Krishna when he asks, “Show me your true form. Show me who you really are.” ― and then a vision, an infinitude of figures, men, women, children, full of beautiful forms. This is an exact representation of how the divine abstract becomes concrete, and this is processed in the medium of dreams, where an internal principle becomes a manifested reality. So in that state, we feel genuine reverence, great respect. It is auspiciousness. It is the amazement of an awakened consciousness before the divine.
 
We also have terms like Theophany, “the manifestation or visions of the divine” in Hinduism, and Darshan can also mean “an opportunity or occasion of seeing a holy person, or the image of a deity.”
 
So not only do we have our own inner divinity inside, our own particular unique Being, there have been many people in history who have perfected themselves. We call them saints. We call them prophets. We call them masters, buddhas, gods. In the dream state, you can learn to communicate with those who have fully awakened in that realm, who have really refined their conduct, so that we can gain insight in how to live.
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Dream Yoga in Tibetan Buddhism

In Tibetan Buddhism, dream yoga is very prevalent. Vasubandhu and Asanga taught five paths to liberation, the third being darshana-marga, “the path of seeing.” It is based on facts, based on the direct perception of that state in which the consciousness, devoid of any type of filter or obscurity, any vagueness, sees the reality of that state for what it is.
 
I know some people that when they reflect on dreams, they describe, perhaps, a repetition of their day, or a nightmare, a chaotic state, dreams of fear and suffering. While these dreams in themselves demonstrate a quality of our mind that is often ignored, we can learn to take advantage of the dreaming state to understand these deep traumas, perhaps, and experiences. By clearing them away, any type of subjective states of mind, we see directly what is there, the reality of those states without any type of filter or condition of our own mind.
 
So most of the time when we dream, we are seeing our own psychological condition, usually, as I said, a repetition of our day, perhaps a memory, something very fleeting. Instead, in darshana-marga, dream yoga, we take the potential of that inner reality and make it something amplified, clear, without vagueness. We make it something penetrative and profound.
 
This is accomplished by learning how to practice certain exercises. It is like training for a new job or going to the gym. You can learn to train your consciousness not to merely project its own desires into that reality, but to see what is actually there. In that way, you are no longer dreaming. You are awake. You are perceiving that dimension, that state of being, without any type of confusion or doubt.
 
We do this through what in Tibetan Buddhism is known as sadhana. It is daily consistent practice. In this way, we perform a type of Tantra, which is a very popular term in East and West, especially. It means “continuum.” It is a perpetual flow and flux of perception.
 
So in the beginning, we may find that we do not remember dreams. We do not perceive our dreams. We do not understand them. They are fleeting. They are fragmented or confused. We can learn to become, through training, awake in that state, so that by awakening our potential consciousness, we augment it. By learning to be in a perpetual state of remembrance, to be awake at all times, even when our physical body goes to sleep, we as a consciousness are awake.
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In Tibetan, it is known as Milam, known in the Nyingma or Kagyu schools of Buddhism. So, these are very ancient traditions with very deep roots. This image here is popularised within any school of Buddhism. It is called the nine stages of meditative concentration.
 
You perceive a monk ascending up a spiral path towards the heights of a mountain. He is chasing after an elephant. It is a symbol of how in the beginning of approaching spirituality, we have a very distracted mind, very scattered, very dispersed. We tend to be very identified with memory, or associative thought, or different fears, different chain reactions towards life, and never examining the source. In every Tibetan Buddhist monastery, you find this image, whereby slowly training the mind to slowly overcome its own obstructions, its own faults, we clarify and perfect it, like you see in this image. The elephant goes to sleep. The mind is relaxed―no disturbance―no ripple. It is in perfect equipoise. It is in perfect concentration, to be able to focus on one thing without being distracted. In its highest form, it is effortless. In that way, the consciousness within the meditator enters the dreaming state, but with lucidity, with clarity.
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​OBEs in the Old Testament

There are many examples within the Bible about dreams. We have the famous story of Jacob’s ladder, where Jacob went to sleep with his head on a stone, and he dreamed of a vision. I would like to relate this excerpt to you:
And Jacob went out from Beersheba, and went toward Haran.
 
And he lighted upon a certain place, and tarried there all night, because the sun was set; and he took of the stones of that place, and put them for his pillows, and lay down in that place to sleep.
 
And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it. ―Genesis 28:10-12
What is interesting is that these are symbols, seeing a ladder from earth to heaven. It is the same symbol that is in Tibetan Buddhism, from being in an inferior, lower state of being in life, and learning to go up in oneself. Perhaps in the beginning, we are afflicted by many problems in life. We lack solutions to difficult issues. We do not how to resolve conflict, perhaps in our relationships, perhaps in our communities. If we introspect and examine ourselves, we can learn to discover that there is potential to, again, awaken and develop a type of consciousness, which, as its foundation, grants us access to higher way of being. So like this dream, Jacob symbolically saw angels ascending and descending―levels and qualities of being, of life, of internal life, of internal spirituality.
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​OBEs in the Book of Daniel

​In the famous Book of Daniel, we also find the emphasis of interpreting dreams, of understanding dreams, understanding our experiences. 
Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. ―Daniel 1:17
You see in this image a very famous depiction of King Balthasar, who was the son of Nebuchadnezzar. Now a little history in terms of Judaism. You find Kng Nebuchadnezzar had sieged the kingdom of Judea back in 586 / 587 BCE. Nebuchadnezzar was from the kingdom of Babylon, and they sacked the sacred temple of Jerusalem, the first temple of Solomon, and took the Jews there, brought them to Babylon. Daniel was among them, and Daniel was known for his ability to interpret dreams, which made him rise to prominence within that kingdom.
 
Primarily the story that I would like to relate to you is when Balthasar was hosting a feast, in which they used the sacred vessels of the temple of Jerusalem for their party, which was a blasphemy according to the scripture. So according to this, Balthasar and the people in the feast saw a vison that they could not interpret. The words: “Mene Mene Tekel Upharsin” appeared. This is very much a dream-like state, a representation. So the men, the sages, and the astrologers could not resolve its interpretation, what it meant, its significance. It was the queen who stepped in to say: 
O king, live for ever: let not thy thoughts trouble thee, nor let thy countenance be changed:
There is a man in thy kingdom, in whom is the spirit of the holy gods; and in the days of thy father light and understanding and wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods, was found in him; whom the king Nebuchadnezzar thy father, the king, I say, thy father, made master of the magicians, astrologers, Chaldeans, and soothsayers;
 
Forasmuch as an excellent spirit, and knowledge, and understanding, interpreting of dreams, and shewing of hard sentences, and dissolving of doubts, were found in the same Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar: now let Daniel be called, and he will shew the interpretation. ―Daniel 5:10-12
​So dreams do not have to necessarily reflect a type of disorder, but instead, we can receive insight in dreams from a superior origin. In that way, by practices and experiences, we interpret and decipher their meaning so that we can better orient our life. 
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​OBEs in the New Testament

​We find out-of-body experiences even in the New Testament, Corinthians especially, the sayings of Paul of Tarsus. He mentions:
It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord.
 
I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven.
 
And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;)
 
How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. ―2 Corinthians 12:1-4
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​OBEs in the Qur’an

​Even within the Quran you find the same teaching. In all the Abrahamic traditions, but even in the mysticism of the Middle East, you find similar explanations:
And with Him are the keys of the secret things; none knows them but He; He knows whatever is on the land and in the sea; and no leaf falls but He knows it; neither is there a grain in the darknesses of the earth, nor a thing green or sere, but it is noted in a distinct writing. 
 
It is He who taketh your souls at night, and knows what ye have merited in the day: then he awakens you therein, that the set life-term may be fulfilled: then unto Him shall ye return; and then shall he declare to you that which ye have wrought. ―Qur’an 6:59-60
What is very beautiful about this verse is that it is stating that by learning to adopt and practice superior ethics, compassion, kindness, divine love, we get rewarded with experiences. We are shown, in dreams, the quality of a particular psychological work, of our behaviors, of which we get symbols about. This is where you are at, your level of being on that ladder going from earth to heaven. We get insights and we get inspired because we are being shown, in a very direct way, what we can do about suffering. 
It is Allah that takes the souls (of men) at death; and those that die not (He takes) during their sleep: those on whom He has passed the decree of death, He keeps back (from returning to life), but the rest He sends (to their bodies) for a term appointed. Verily in this are Signs for those who reflect. ―Qur’an 39:42
So what are these signs? It is inner visions. It is dreams, experiences. 
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OBEs in Sufism

​There are references amongst the Sufis especially, who are the mystics of Islam. Ibn ‘Arabi is known as the greatest of Sufi teachers. He gives some very interesting examples of what we are talking about as well. This is from The Meccan Revelations:
Know that these bodies are the coffins of the spirits and what beclouds them; they are what veil them so that they do not witness the spiritual world and are not witnessed. ―Ibn ‘Arabi, The Meccan Revelations
​What is interesting is that this word “witnessing” has to do with awakening, experiencing in its most profound sense. It does not mean believing in a tradition or disbelieving, but actually seeing for oneself what diverse religions teach.
 
So our body veils our perceptions. We are often very conditioned by our senses. But when you go to sleep, you abandon that. You learn to see with internal senses, and therefore you begin to witness higher realities. 
So the spirits do not see, nor are they seen, except through being parted from these bodily tombs (cf. Qur'an 102:2)―by becoming oblivious (fanâ) to them in their absorption in spiritual things (and this simply means entering a state of meditation, falling asleep physically, and awakening consciousness in the internal worlds) not through physical separation [which is death]. ―Ibn ‘Arabi, The Meccan Revelations
​I know there is an assumption in our modern culture that we cannot know what will happen when we die, primarily because, the argument is, no one has ever come back to talk about it. What is ignored by that assumption―which we will talk about a little bit later―is that the same dimension or state that one accesses when one dies is precisely the same as when we are in a dream. So by learning to awaken in our dreams, we can awaken after death. 
Therefore since they have inner vision, when they become oblivious to witnessing [their physical] bodies then they witness the One Who gives them Being in the very act of witnessing [being conscious of] themselves. ―Ibn ‘Arabi, The Meccan Revelations
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​Are out-of-body experiences real?

​So while religion has talked about out-of-body experiences and mystical states, modern scientists are still trying to catch up. What is interesting is that the Dalai Lama―who is a great master of Tibetan Buddhism―is also a practitioner of dream yoga with a lot of experience about this type of science. He has been making a lot of effort in talking at conferences with different scientists to get them to investigate, in a scientific way with different instruments, these types of testimonies.
 
Now the problem is there tends to be a lot of skepticism and doubt, which, when we are trying to scientifically verify phenomena, you want to be very rigorous, obviously. So, the Dalai Lama was talking to a Harvard scientist by the name of Alan Hobson. It is known as the Mind and Life Conference. I would like to relate some of this to you at length and talk about this.
Returning to the Mind and Life conference, in his conversation with [Harvard psychiatrist Allan] Hobson, the Dalai Lama raised the issue of knowledge obtained in dreams:
 
Dalai Lama: I know some Tibetans who lived in Tibet prior to the 1959 uprising. Before their escape from Tibet, they did not know about the natural trails and passes by which to get over the Himalayas into India. Some of these people I met had very clear dreams of these tracks and, years later, when they actually had to follow the actual trails, they found that they were already familiar with them because of the very clear dreams they had had previously.
 
Allan Hobson: This is a so-called precognitive dream and there are many examples of this in the West as well. I would like to defer discussion of that until later, as it is an important question. ―Dean Radin, Supernormal: “Mysticism and Miracles” (p. 57)
​So unfortunately, there is a tendency in some scientists to want to dismiss certain propositions because they seem very unlikely, or they do not fit within a type of dogma, even of a materialistic type. But fortunately, there are a lot of people who are pushing to understand these types of phenomena, of how physical facts align with internal experiences. In that way, we learn to develop conviction, verification, understanding.
 
As we talked about in previous quotes from religious scriptures, we learn from practice how these types of dreams coincide with certain evidence in the physical world. That gives us what is called genuine faith―not a belief, not a theory, but we know. It is that type of understanding which pushes one to want to investigate, to inquire, and to look into these types of phenomena.
A while later, the Dalai Lama returned to other phenomena that are taken for granted by the Tibetans… ―Dean Radin, Supernormal: “Mysticism and Miracles” (pp. 57)
because in Tibetan Buddhist culture, these types of studies are a very common place. In the West, we are very much alienated from a lot of religious principles, unfortunately, due to the perhaps bad examples of many religious institutions.
Dalai Lama: There are certain people who feel they have out-of-body experiences while dreaming.
 
Allan Hobson: This has not been studied in the laboratory, but it is easy to imagine how such a state could arise since it is possible to hallucinate practically anything during dreaming.
 
The Dalai Lama continued to press the issue:
 
Dalai Lama: There are accounts of people experiencing this sense of leaving their body, actually perceiving things in the external world, and later being able to recall events that presumably took place there, even to the point of being able to read a book in someone else’s house. Has there been no scientific investigation of this type of testimony?
 
Allan Hobson: (admits) That is correct, there has been no scientific investigation of these. But I would like to discuss this issue because I think that the issue of precognitive dreams, out-of-body experiences, and claims of previous lives, all have a problem in common for science… The question is: How can we advance any of these claims above the status of what we would call testimony and anecdote? ―Dean Radin, Supernormal: “Mysticism and Miracles” (pp. 57-58)
​Dean Radin makes an interesting point here:
This exchange highlights a central problem in dealing with discussions of miracles. Scientists meeting with the Dalai Lama are undoubtedly interested in anything he has to say, but having been selected as scientific and scholarly experts in their fields, they probably feel a certain pressure to behave like experts, even when they don’t know what they’re talking about. ―Dean Radin, Supernormal: “Mysticism and Miracles” (p. 58)
Some examples of how our own inner dreams can validate physical facts and how that is a foundation of genuine faith―my wife and I, before we were friends, had many dreams about each other. We both related, in our friendship and eventually our relationship, that we had certain experiences about each other that were really profound, very beautiful and symbolic, archetypal. As I was learning from my wife certain experiences that she had from training in this science, my own experiences came to my mind. I realized the connection, even though this experience happened ten years ago. It shocked me because I immediately knew the person I was going to marry. But we let the relationship unfold, despite our knowledge, like a flower letting itself show its own innate beauty.
 
That is an example, one of many, in which you can have a dream that comes true. What validates it? You look at the diverse symbols that are presented and study them. Meditate on them and look at the connection between the facts. That is what really is very moving.
 
There are lots of examples in which scientists are making a lot of effort to validate these types of perceptions from a materialistic basis, which is wonderful. You can find even on Netflix a show called Surviving Death, where you have the testimony of people who died and have come back, describing very similar experiences amongst many people. You can also look at a documentary on Amazon Prime. It is called Third Eyed Spies. Lttle bit different topic, but it does relate to a lot of these principles.
 
Now as Dean Radin states:
The discussion panel’s answer to the Dalai Lama’s questions about reincarnation, precognition, and veridical out-of-body experiences might have been a more modest “I don’t know.” Instead, they asserted that science has not studied these issues, or they gave the impression that the reason there is no scientific evidence is because the beliefs are not true. In fact, there is substantial evidence, and the results confirm that at least some of the Tibetans’ beliefs are almost certainly true. ―Dean Radin, Supernormal: “Mysticism and Miracles” (p. 58)
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​Are out-of-body experiences provable? 

So building off of this question about “Are out of body experiences provable?” ― we can talk about a very interesting teaching from Sufism where they talk about three certainties. They discuss how there are different forms of knowledge, understanding, and experience, which can apply to many walks of life, many aspects of living.
 
Now the knowledge of certainty has to do with listening to a lecture, reading a book, studying a scripture, in which you have certainty in an intellectual sense. You are listening, and you are learning, and you are looking at these type of teachings, and they are making sense at their level, in terms of intellectual knowledge. So it is useful. It is useful to have that in the beginning.
 
But there is something much more deep than that, which is known as seeing of certainty. It is when you have a dream that is so intense, that you feel it is greater and more real than your physical life. You are seeing it. You are just perceiving in that state, accessing a type of experience that is beyond the senses. So what people call astral projections, out-of-body experiences, near-death experiences, this is seeing of certainty. You have certainty that there is something more than just the body.
 
But there is something more profound than that as well. There is the truth of certainty. The truth of certainty has to do with when your experiences are coinciding with the physical facts, and you know you have received guidance from the divine, from an inner source.
 
You can compare the knowledge of certainty to hearing about a fire in a certain part of the country. The seeing of certainty is like seeing the fire for yourself, very distinct. You can read a textbook, and―when you actually do it―it is a very different thing when you are burned by fire. This can apply to different states of being.
 
So I mentioned an example of having a nightmare, the seeing of certainty, in which you are perceiving a state that is real. You are interacting, whether it is our own mind, or perhaps other qualities of our being, within a different state that is inaccessible to the senses.
 
Now a nightmare, in reality, can be caused by a number of things. For one, we are perceiving a deeper part of ourselves that is really beyond the range of our ordinary senses. So we can have dreams of being persecuted, or being killed, or even killing, things that we would never do in our daily life, and yet are there. That is seeing of certainty and seeing our own inner hell. A nightmare is seeing what religions call infernal worlds, negative states, and obviously we wake up and we feel relieved that it is over. Some people may have this problem of having nightmares, and what those type of experiences within are showing are very deep seated traumas within the mind, rooted in anger, in pride, in lust, in fear, in vanity, in doubt, that are trapping part of our consciousness in that state. So actually having a nightmare―as difficult and as painful that might be―it can be a blessing, because we are seeing something in us that needs to change. We are seeing the reality of ourselves.
 
In having certainty of the truth, that just as there is a hell, there is also a heaven, we can really aquire the truth of certainty, because there is not only infernal states of being that are not only accessible to us, we can access what religions call heaven, in which all those conditions of mind, those defects that are mentioned, are stripped away. They are gone, in which you are vibrating with a level of being which is superior, heavenly states in which all the different prophets that came to humanity were teaching people to experience, to know. That is the truth of certainty, when we realize that there is something more than just what modern scientists, or perhaps our contemporary culture, would have us believe. 
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​What are astral projections? 

So what are astral projections? This has to do with when we physically go to sleep every night. The issue becomes: are we conscious of the process of falling asleep?
 
It might seem like a catch-22, or a conundrum, a paradox. How can you be awake when you go to sleep? The reality is your physical body goes to sleep every night, and the consciousness, our soul, the root of our very being, our perception, leaves it. Because it is not very active, we tend to go to bed and we wake up eight hours later and we do not remember anything.
 
Now the realityif we really train ourselves and really learn to experience this for ourselvesis that whenever we go asleep physically, we enter the dream world. We astral project every night. We just do not have consciousness of it. We are not aware of it. This is verifiable when you practice some of these exercises that we are going to be teaching sequentially in this course. You can see this where, if you have a conscious astral projection in which your body goes to sleep and your soul is awake, you learn to transition with lucidity, with intentionality, with will.
 
Eventually with practice it becomes very familiar. It becomes a very welcomed thing. I know how some people can get scared about what is happening. Some of us might even had an experience where we were astral projecting, and perhaps we lost that experience. Perhaps we got scared. We got emotional or fearful. It is easy to be fearful of what we do not know. But the truth is that we do it every night. It is just a matter of becoming accustomed to it, becoming aware of it.

Who can astral project?

​Some people think that it is gift for an exceptional few. In reality, anyone can train themselves to do it at will. It is not because some people have received the grace of God and are able to do it intentionally. It is a matter of training, of becoming aware of ourselves, especially throughout the day. Mindfulness is especially well known in many contemporary spiritual schools. We talk about that a lot.

​How do I astral project at will?

​But we can all learn to astral project at will, to enter that dreaming state with intentionality, when we develop the faculties of consciousness: being aware of ourselves at all times, being mindful, learning to concentrate so that instead of having a mind that is dispersed, thinking of different things, or many thoughts as we are going to sleep, we focus on one thing, one exercise. By integrating our willpower, our consciousness, our concentration, we go into that state with clarity.
 
We also develop exercises of visualization, which is very popular in meditation schools, especially in Tibetan Buddhism. By learning to visualize images in the mind, we develop the faculty that allows us to deeply perceive dreams. It is the same faculty. It is the same characteristic. Those who have a more robust ability to imagine and concentrate on one thing, on one visualization, and be able to see the different colors of an object, the different details, with real intensity or detail, are able to awaken in dreams much more easily, because you are using the same faculty.
 
Also, we learn to develop a relationship with divinity within ourselves. That is something that comes with time, obviously, with practice. When you experience these things, obviously, they inspire you. They fuel your efforts.
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​What are different ways to experience the astral?

So there are four ways we can really experience the astral dimension. One of them is being conscious when we astral project at night, whenever we go to sleep.
 
Some people awaken in their dreams. They are dreaming and suddenly they realize, “I am in the dream world. I am not here physically!” There are different techniques we can use to verify and test the reality of where you are at, so that you know.
 
People have also experienced near-death experiences, like in the Netflix show Surviving Death. One lady mentioned how she died on a rafting trip and they brought her back, and she was able to talk about what happened. So she entered the astral world, came back, because it was not her time yet.
 
Or we can die, and that is the last way one can enter the astral world. So it is interesting that either when we die or go to sleep, we enter that region. 

​What is the astral plane like?

In truth, it is a material dimension. It is interesting, because for a lot of people, if we just have dreams, things can be very vague or incoherent. But when you remove all the subjective conditions of mind and learn to access that state with an awakened consciousness, we see that there are cities. There is Chicago. There are people driving cars. People are doing things that they do normally in their physical life. Nothing vague there. The reality is it is a type of matter and energy that is not as dense as this physical world, which is why people have reported dreams of flying, passing through walls, putting their hands through a glass window, for example. That is one thing I liked to do when I first started testing if I am here physically, or if I am in the internal worlds. I would go up to a window and press my finger, slightly, with the will that I put my hand through it. Because it is more subtle, you do it, so that you can then realize, “I am dreaming.” But it is a type of matter, energy. There is a reality there. It is just less materialistic. It is less dense, governed by laws like levitation, elasticity, plasticity, ductileness. You are basically able to even pull your finger and see it stretch, fly to distant places. You can drink a cup of water there. You can eat and drink in the astral plane, but it is very different. 

​What are lucid dreams?

​This has to do with having more vibrancy in our dreams, in our inner experiences. We may have moments in which we see something with greater expansiveness or perception, greater depth, and we wake up. Or a lucid dream is you are basically seeing more to what is there.
 
There is a greater range of perception. You see more colors there than you see physically. But what is interesting about lucid dreaming is that just because we are seeing a panorama of what is there, it does not necessarily mean that we realize where we are at. We could be dreaming or having all of these great images. We are perceiving things in a new way, but we do not realize that we are dreaming.
 
I know some people like to say that lucid dreaming has to do with waking up, but we make a very clear distinction between a dream and a vision in these studies. Dreaming has to do with the fact that you are projecting from your mind onto that screen of reality. So you are dreaming and interacting with your own contents of your psychology. But a vision has to do with when you let all of that to subside. You let it all rest and you receive knew insights.
 
But also, lucid dreaming is a wonderful gateway into deeper knowledge, because if you realize or see greater range of perception in your dreams, it means that you are going to be able to see more. But there is some steps that are necessary to transcend dreams.

​How do I perceive the astral plane? 

​We have to train our consciousness through concentration, imagination, meditation. These are techniques that will help us to really know these truths.

​How do I navigate the internal worlds?

​With familiarity―you become familiar with it. In the beginning, we can get scared. I remember when I first started to practice astral projection when I was really young, I was terrified, because I was lifting out of my body and levitating over my bed, seeing things with more depth than was physically possible. So my fear took me out. But eventually after getting used to that process, now when that happens, I get really happy, because now it is another wonderful opportunity to pursue my spiritual life, internally.
 
You learn to navigate the internal worlds the same way you learn to ride a bike. You learn the neighborhood. You learn where to go and where not to go with the guidance of your parents, meaning, not just physical instructors, but your own inner divinity. You learn.

​Is astral projection dangerous?

​No. we do it every night. If it were dangerous, no one would be alive, primarily because you fall asleep, and every time you fall asleep you go into the astral dimension. People who do not go into the astral dimension have insomnia. They cannot sleep, so it is good to take care of that.

​Can I get lost in the astral plane and not return to my body? 

​You can not. A lot of traditions have talked about what is called the silver cord, the Antakarana thread. It is very important in astral literature, where you have a silver cord that connects you with your physical body. You can basically travel throughout the planet. You can go to other planets in the solar system, even to the edge of the galaxy if you want, and yet that cord will bring you back to your body when it is time, when you wake up.
 
The only time when that cord gets cut, and the person cannot return to their physical body, is when it is their time to die, and that is something that is governed by divine beings. We call them the angels of death. I know in our popular imagination we think of these hooded, skeletoal figures with a scythe as something very demonic and terrifying, and it is because we are not familiar with the process of dying. We are not aware of it. We do not remember, perhaps, in previous lives when we entered this life, and how we have died many times before. That is something you can also verify through experience, by learning how to astral project.
 
But these beings are very divine. Personally, I have met one such being. When I saw this angel, I was crying because it was so powerful, the presence of divinity, and this is a type of being that can really guide us through the process of sleep and death if we learn to train ourselves

​Can one be injured in the astral plane? 

​No. So you can jump of a roof and end up like Neo in The Matrix, landing on your face first ton the pavement―you are not going to get hurt. It is because your astral vehicle, the body you use in dreams, is subjected to the laws of elasticity, plasticity, levitation. You cannot get hurt like that. Also:

​Can entities take over my body during astral projection?

​No. It is not like you leave your body and then someone can creep in to your house, your physical body,. It cannot happen. You belong to your car, so to speak, or your car belongs to, you better said. Your body is a vehicle that you operate. You drive it every day. If you want someone else to take over your car and drive your car for you, well, that is what mediums are for. We do not recommend that practice because mediumship, allowing different entities to enter within oneself, is a practice we do not teach. So it is not like you can leave your physical body behind and someone else can sneak in. It cannot happen. 
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​Hypnos and Thanatos: Sleep and Death

​Now what is interesting about the relationship between sleep and death, is the Greek myth of Hypnos and Thanatos. So I touched briefly on how we enter the world of death every night whenever we go to sleep. Whenever we go to bed and we dream, we are in the world of the dead. The problem is that we are not aware of it.
 
Hypnos and Thanatos in Greek, sleep and death, were brothers, because the ancient Greeks knew that relationship. They taught that if we want to awaken after death, we have to awaken in dreams. It is the same process as going to sleep.
 
The question becomes, “How do we become conscious during dreams?” and “What does it mean to awaken consciousness?”
 
The Tibetan Buddhists mention that every time you go to sleep, it is like you are dying a little death, which is a quote from Samael Aun Weor as well:
It is stated that a dream is nothing but a small death. ―Samael Aun Weor, Gazing at the Mystery
​Our consciousness is not awakened to its full potential. While we have a degree of perception in this physical world, it is very limited. It is conditioned and it is censored through many layers and factors. We call them thoughts, feelings, sentiments, anxieties, worries, daydreams, fantasies, preoccupations, resentments, hatred, desires, appetites. Often times we are so dedicated in our Western culture, catering to our bodies, that we forget to be aware of ourselves, even of our breathing. This is why all meditative traditions teach the need to be mindful, especially, throughout our day, because if we are mindful and awake in our physical body, when we physically go to sleep, we are going to awaken in dreams. It is the same process.
 
Your eight hours of sleep are a barometer of how awake you are. It can be a very scary proposition. If we go to bed and eight hours pass and we do not see anything, it means we are very unconscious. However, if you have dreams, it means we can start to nudge the door open a bit more until we can enter the temple of mysteries.
 
Even Plato mentioned this in The Republic. Here is an example of a negative person: 
The most evil type of man… in his waking hours, has the qualities we found in his dream state. ―Plato, Republic 9:65 
Now it applies not to just bad people, but good people. We have preoccupations. We have thoughts, worries, and daydreams. Perhaps we are driving to work. We have a certain routine we go through. We take the train. Maybe we are thinking so much that we are remembering the past; we forget our stop. We are not awake. We are driving our car. We are thinking of our friend, and then suddenly we nearly get into an accident. It means we are not paying attention. We are not conscious. We are not aware.
 
Most people tend to go to sleep and merely just repeat their daily life within the dream state. It is because we are not really focusing on our internal states. We tend to go through life mechanically, just reacting to different situations. However, if you learn to become awake of the process, of your moment-to-moment life, your daily states, you start to expand consciousness within dreams.
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​What are the different qualities of consciousness?

This is bringing us to a point about four states of consciousness that we study. These are Hindu terms. Sushupti is profound sleep. Swapna is dreaming sleep. Jagrat is awakening consciousness, and Turiya is spiritual illumination.
 
The easiest characterization of this dynamic has to do with physically―you go to sleep―Sushupti. Swapna is when you dream. A lot of people associate, within yoga, Jagrat as being physically awake, but it is wrong. The truth is that these are qualities of consciousness, not whether or not if you are in your physical body or not. Profound sleep is like when we go to bed. Eight hours go by and then we awake, but also physically, if we go through our occupation throughout our day, oblivious to, perhaps, physical danger on the street, or on the train, or driving a car, it means that we are not conscious.
 
I am pretty sure that we can all think of moments in our day, or perhaps trying to remember months ago what you ate for breakfast on a Tuesday. We cannot remember it. In our contemporary culture, we like to accept this type of distracted state of mind. But the truth is that, spiritually speaking, it indicates for us that we are not aware. We are not conscious. We cannot remember where we went two years ago for a vacation, or amongst friends, what we said, what we thought, what felt, what we did. We are not awake. We do not remember. That is profound sleep.
 
In certain cases, too, Sushupti has to do with a common state of barbarism of humanity. In one context, it has to do with mob mentality. For example, we see people get in fights on the street, or commit violence, or go to war. That is Sushupti, because people who are conscious of the humanity of other beings would never kill, would never commit violence, even in their thoughts.
 
So we can see that we all have this inside. We spend eight hours in the bed, and we do not even remember anything. That is Sushupti as well.
 
Swapna is interesting. It not only has to do with dreams at night when the physical body is at rest, but all of the dreams we engage with in the day. We are washing dishes and we are thinking of that television show we want to watch. We are riding our bike thinking of our neighbor. We had a conflict at work and we are ruminating on what they said or we are anticipating our revenge. We are always projecting our mind and thoughts onto other things and never looking at where we are at. We are not concentrated. We are not lucid. We are dreaming, and physically if you are dreaming all day, then at night we will dream as well.
 
This is why all religions teach the need to awaken. This is Jagrat. It has to do with adopting a certain discipline in which you pay attention all the time. You observe not only our body, but, with the psychological senses of the consciousness, we learn to observe the sources of even our thoughts, our emotions, our impulses. We learn to become aware of all that, and then we develop the continuity of paying attention all day and not getting distracted by anything. That is mindfulness. It is the continuity of perception. It is Tantra: a continuum and flow of awareness at all times.
 
When you really develop that in yourself, you begin to get glimpses of Turiya: spiritual illumination, in which we perceive things without conditions or filters, without prejudice, without bias. It is a state of consciousness that is very dynamic and it applies to a very profound range. It has to do with perceiving with objectivity, perceiving like a god, and you can have that in dreams, especially. Physically you can experience glimpses of illumination like that. But especially when you go to sleep with an awakened consciousness, you can be given certain visions from divinity that are very beautiful, and so penetrative that we could not do it on our own,. It is a grace and gift of divinity, but also when the conditions are right, the cause and effects are applicable. When we have set the foundations for experiencing that type of insight, it emerges.
 
Going back to that Sufi teaching, you will find that it has to do with the truth of certainty, because when you have that type of experience, you have great joy. But the thing to remember is that just having a temporary experience like that does not mean we are enlightened. It is a glimpse into what is possible. It can be given to us as a gift, but to sustain that takes training.
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​Can machines, frequencies, synthetic sounds, and binaural beats affect the brain and awaken consciousness?

​A lot of people have approached astral projection wanting to use different material techniques to produce a spiritual phenomenon, and unfortunately it is mistaken. It is not that simple. For those of you who are not familiar with binaural beats, it has to do with listening to two simultaneous tones, one at a slightly different frequency so that when you are listening, it creates the illusion of creating a third beat, which is in your brain, in order to produce a type of mental state. So there have been certain studies how synthetic sounds or artificial sounds can produce astral projection, primarily from the perspective that it is the brain that we are trying to affect and that the brain is something malleable and can be influenced easily so as to awaken consciousness.
 
It is true that you can have experiences with these things, but the question is “Of what quality and of what state?” Merely having an astral projection is not enough, because there can be superior astral projections or there can be inferior astral projections. This is something that many people ignore, unfortunately. As I mentioned to you briefly, like that ladder of Jacob, there are heavenly states and there are inferior states. There are more liberated, unconditioned, luminous, unobstructed, clear, divine perceptions, and there are conditioned, selfish, negative, egotistical states―heaven and hell.
 
We emphasize that spiritual experiences cannot be influenced by mechanical means, primarily because if you are trying to influence the brain to do things for you, it is treating oneself like a machine. Machines know how to react. They are conditioned and they are constructed in such a way as to react to influences.
 
Now the brain, we have to remember, is merely a vehicle. It is a car that we have to drive. Who is driving the car though? The consciousness is not the brain. The brain is a vehicle of consciousness. It is not the originator of perception. We use the brain and our physical body to interact in this physical world. But it is just that. It is a machine that you can operate with intelligence. Or perhaps it is like working at a franchise or a fast food restaurant, or a meat packing plant. You are just doing things mechanically. You are not thinking, because you just have so much to do. These machines and mechanical methods can not produce the type of unconditioned awakening that we seek, if we are sincere.
 
Projections, again, can be conditioned by external influences, such as by synthetic sounds, frequencies, binaural beats, but those will awaken perceptions that are conditioned. Awakening is dual. I know in modern spiritual circles, people like to think of awakening as something positive. But there are two forms. If you look at the statements in the Book of Daniel in the Bible:
And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. ―Daniel 12:2
​…because there are ways to awaken powers and abilities like this, whether for good or for ill. So there is a distinction there. We do not rely on these types of things. We do not need to in order to have positive spiritual experiences. There are many more intrinsic ways to do this. 
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​Can drugs, psychedelia, and intoxicants produce astral projections?

They do, but down in the infernal worlds. Primarily because, whenever you ingest an intoxicant, it is a condition. It is conditioning the consciousness. It is stimulating the consciousness to act, but within pride, anger, fear, laziness, lust, hatred etc. There are ways of experiencing these truths without relying on anything outside of us, but inside. So if you are interested in learning more of the nuances of this topic, you can study an article we wrote on our website. It is called: “How Do Drugs Affect Our Spiritual Development?” We go into a lot more detail than we have the time to elaborate here, but that is the synthesis.
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​How do I interpret my dreams?

​I have talked a little bit about heaven and hell. We see it represented on that graphic on the left. This is the Hebrew Kabbalah, the Tree of Life. It is the mysticism of all religions, not just Judaism. It is a map of consciousness, from inferior to superior levels of being, levels and states of perception.
 
We have our physicality, which is this bottom sphere. We call it מלכות Malkuth, which means “the Kingdom,” because we have to reign and rule in our kingdom: our body.
 
But there are superior states and spheres. We call them סְפִירוֹת sephiroth in Hebrew, emanations from the unknowable, divine abstractions or source, and which we seek to return to in our studies. But there are also the inversion, which are the hell realms.
 
We use the Kabbalah as a map in the same way that you travel to another country. You learn the language. You learn about places to go, the geography, the culture, the customs, so that you can be more informed and navigate with facility. This image is precisely the same thing, but for the inner worlds. If you want to understand your dreams and where you are dreaming, or where you are experiencing things, we study and apply this glyph. It is deep. It is very scientific, very precise, and can give us clarity and understanding about what we are seeing. 
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We also use the Tarot. On the right we have The Eternal Tarot deck from Glorian Publishing. We use what is known as the major arcana. These are the principles and laws of nature depicted through images. The numbers themselves represent spiritual principles. Some of us may have had dreams where we received a date, or a number, or a time. It is Kabbalah. Kabbalah in Judaism is the science of numbers, how numbers represent abstract principles, which in a dream can apply to certain situations or dramas.
 
For example, you may have a dream about a certain situation in which you receive a number, and that number, especially one through twenty-two, relating to the first twenty-two cards of the Tarot, give us insight about what is happening there, about what we need to do about a certain situation in life.
 
These are very deep principles,. There is a lot of extensive knowledge available about them. Especially on our website, you can study The Eternal Tarot of Alchemy and Kabbalah if you want to go into depth about what these cards mean.
 
Even receiving a card in the astral dimension, you can actually see these images. Personally I remember even receiving a Tarot reading from an Egyptian initiate in the astral place, who was showing me cards related to what I needed to develop. The cards coincided with this. Now these cards, they are living art. While they are described through Egyptian imagery and mysticism, they are really universal. The Tarot are beyond Egyptian cultural phenomena. They are even older than our humanity, even other worlds, with other humanities. The same laws apply. We just contextualize them with Egyptian images because it is convenient for our understanding.
 
But the truth is that these twenty-two laws apply to everywhere in the universe. They all represent different qualities. So we study them so that when we receive a number in our dreams, we can perform certain calculations with how the numbers add up to a unified synthesis or sum. We get the meaning, and we do not get confused about what we perceived. This is why we emphasize in our tradition that all traditions are golden pearls strung upon the golden thread of divinity, because all religious forms embody the same principles like the Tarot.
 
These numbers apply to all religions, and if we study the scriptures themselves with the knowledge of what the Tarot mean, you find that they mean the same thing. It is the intuitive grammar and building blocks of meaning from the spirit, because the different cards and numbers can add up together to create a synthesis. It is very elegant. It is very extensive. But more importantly, it is very simple. We study it. We learn it. We apply it. So all of these traditions represent these truths.
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​Should I use dream symbol dictionaries?

Some people have asked: “Should we use dream symbol dictionaries?” We always emphasize the need for independent thought, self-reliance, investigation. It is very easy to open a book, look for the symbol, and try to get an answer. It is the most normal reaction to have when we are experiencing dreams. We want to know what we are seeing, and see what other people have said.
 
Personally, my preference is to rely on what the prophets have taught, beings who have really demonstrated, through millennia, their caliber, because there are a lot of books in the world that are written by people who never reached that development. It is good to rely on instructors, but proven ones, prophets like Jesus, Buddha, Moses, Krishna, who, through the scriptures, have related in their symbols the very fabric of meaning. In our spiritual path, when scripture is applied to our spiritual work, we can really interpret what is going on there.
 
So the thing about dream dictionaries is that the lack intuition, and here is why: you can look at a symbol in a dictionary, and look at one level of meaning of it, but there are many layers to a dream symbol. It is very extensive. Perhaps you have a dream of a cross. I have had that before in relation to a kind of work that I needed to do. But the overall tone was a state of suffering. You are bearing your cross and you will have ordeals. That was the meaning that played out in relation to my physical life, certain hardships I had to face.
 
But the cross is not just about suffering. It can be the four elements: earth, air, fire, water, or related to our psychology: mind, emotions, physicality, and sexuality, certain aspects of our constitution. We also need to look at what is happening in relation to the symbol. Were we carrying the cross? Was it in front of us? What happened? There are a lot of applications that do not get codified in one strict book.
 
This is why even in diverse religions traditions you do not find a book with the absolute meaning for everything, although that is what a lot of people think when they think of their religion. But the truth is that all of these teachers and all of these prophets taught in accordance with their capacities, and also of the level of development of the student. While their insights are valuable, it is also good to look at all religions to see how they all complement. Now, that is even at a level of a prophet who can give really deep insight, but just studying one source isolated by itself is like… we are not looking at the bigger picture.
 
The problem with dream dictionaries is that you find a lot of these testimonies from different people are very contradictory. They conflict with each other. The reality is, if you want genuine insight into the reality of dreams, we have to look to sources that really agree. They all say the same thing. It is all unified. It all points to the same direction. When we have that foundation and see how it relates to our experience, we then gain confidence in its source. But the problem is there are too many contradictory opinions, mostly made from people who have not reached those heights. So it is out of caution of our own development that we don’t rely on dream dictionaries. It is good to be prudent
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​Can someone interpret my dreams for me?

​A lot of people ask―and we have gotten this question from people too―“Can someone interpret my dreams for me?”
 
It also begs an interesting question too. Obviously, we have a yearning to know what a dream is. We look for insight, perspective, and so we might go to people that hopefully provide that for us. But this relates an interesting dynamic within students, especially.
 
The Talmud states:
A dream not interpreted is like a letter not read. ―Talmud
​Most people in the beginning do not know how to read spiritually. We have a dream. We do not know what it means. We want someone else to read it for us. What would be better, relying on someone to read and teach you through what they can read, or someone to teach you yourself? Is it not true that a person who does not know how to read is vulnerable? Someone could tell you, “This is what it means,” even for example, they do not know what it means or have bad intentions. We do not know, and because we do not know, we should be cautious.
 
Be prudent, because dreams are important. They are essential for learning to master our spiritual life, to awaken there. Therefore, we should really be critical, not of other people, but of our own selves. This need and this desire for security―we want to be secure in our spiritual life. We want someone to tell us that everything is ok, or to tell us this is what that means. It does not work that way. In reality, the magic of dreams unfold as we meditate.
 
Practice meditation. Learn the science of meditation. Become a self-reliant meditator, because really, we can unpack meanings and unfold the significance of dreams over many years. Personally, I had dreams decades ago that have only come true recently, and part of the awe and the joy of that realization is from having worked upon myself, not going to other people: “Tell me what this means!”
 
If we learn to study genuine sources, such as learning Kabbalah and the Tarot, and learn the diverse symbolism within different traditions, you gain a very expansive lexicon by which to interpret what is happening. It gets easier. It gets intuitive. So in the beginning, we start to study, intellectually, different sources. But the real work comes in meditation. Put aside the mind. Put aside thought, the desire, the fear: “I want this to mean a certain thing,” the anticipation that “I want a certain result. This is what I want the dream to mean!” This is where people can start to get into problems especially. Having a dream, thinking it is one thing, but it means another. Therefore, why get another person in the mix, especially if we do not know their experience or qualifications? So it is good to be prudent.
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​How do I know if a dream is real or not?

We made a distinction earlier. We mentioned that there is a difference between dreams and visions. A dream is a projection of our mind, which, with its levels and qualities, perceptions and states, can be more objective or less. But the mind for most of us is very heavy. We have a lot of errors. We have flaws. We are not perfect. We have defects. We have fear and anxiety, the yearning for security, ambition, perhaps not for physical things, but maybe spiritual things.
 
We have a lot of qualities in our mind that is really best described as desire, ego. We want something. We desire something. Therefore, we try to feed our desires. These are conditions.
 
The soul is something different. The soul can feel great joy and aspiration, yearning for the truth, love for others, philanthropy, kindness, compassion, patience, and the consciousness that realizes its true nature does not dream. It sees. It has visons. It knows. So a dream is a projection of our mind. We are enmeshed within our desires, and as we mentioned, going about our day is being lost in daydreams. It is like being lost in thought, memory, sleep. But a vison is when the mind is calm. It is receptive and it is at peace. We are seeing the reality before us, whether physically or internally.
 
This is why Samael Aun Weor, who is the founder of our tradition, stated in the lecture called "Mental Representations":
True illuminates have no dreams. Dreams are for those who are asleep. True illuminates live in the higher worlds, out of the physical body, in a state of intensified wakefulness without ever dreaming. ―Samael Aun Weor, ”Mental Representations”
There are many examples of this: Jesus, Buddha, Muhammad, Krishna, Moses… we could go on for ever. They did not have a sleeping consciousness. They did not dream. Physically, they can go to sleep at will and project into the internal worlds at will, for as long as they wanted, because they were so exact and rigorous with themselves, holding themselves to such a high standard. Therefore, they taught it to others. We can do the same. 
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​What can I do through astral projection?

​There are a lot of things. I find this is perhaps one of the most compelling points about these types of studies, which drew me into studying and practicing this.
 
Through astral projection, we can receive divine teachings. We can communicate with our inner God. We can receive insight on difficult situations and how to solve them with efficacy, with complete equanimity.
 
We can also explore the superior and inferior worlds, as demonstrated by this graphic on the right: the Tree of Life, the heaven and hell realms.
 
In the astral world, you can visit other planets. You can see other humanities that dwell there. When we talk about other humanities, we are not talking about other little green men with antennas, and perhaps little crustacean features, or something really exotic or disturbing like Hollywood would have us presume. Instead, we learn to interact with different species and humanoids who are very spiritual, who are awake. We can get insight from them and they can help us internally.
 
You can also visit the temples of the universal fraternity of the divine. There are temples in the physical world such as Egypt and other places that are now cadavers. They used to be flourishing with life physically, but internally they are active. You can go into the temples of Giza in the astral world and receive initiation and guidance from the masters there, luminous, enlightened beings. There are many temples throughout the world in the internal worlds, throughout all cultures, because this type of knowledge is universal.
 
We can invoke genuine spiritual masters. You can learn certain prayers with which you can call unto divinity to send this master to you, to teach you, and that can give you guidance. That is really better than relying on someone helping you physically, is when internally you invoke and you ask a master about a solution to a problem. They will always come, especially if they have perfected themselves. They are here to help.
 
We can also enact―and this is an uncomfortable topic for some people―spiritual self-defence, because just as there are friendly beings, there are also negative beings. We call them witches. We call them black magicians, sorcerers, warlocks, those that can astral project, but within hell. The live and they dwell within the inferior regions of the astral, the negative infernal planes, and because we have ego, we tend to gravitate to those states, unfortunately. But with training we can awaken and change ourselves.
 
In that process, we do get confrontations even, but there are proven ways to defend oneself, through prayer, through sacred invocations. We call them conjurations. This is where the term “magic” came from. It is when you exert the consciousness in its defense, so that it is not influenced by any negativity. These methods that we teach in courses like Spiritual Self-Defense on our website go in to great detail about how to practice that. They work, but with training and time we learn to practice these techniques the same way that you go to a dojo to do martial arts. In the beginning you are sloppy―and I speak from experience―but with practice you get very efficient.
 
You can negotiate your destiny with the Lords of Karma. These are masters who guide the trajectory of humanity. Karma is a very popular term. It means cause and effect. These are beings beyond good and evil. They manage the law of destiny out of compassion. Karma is not some blind law of retribution in which we suffer or “get what we deserve.” Instead, despite our past actions and mistakes, we can receive mercy. We can even go to those hierarches, such as Anubis in the Egyptian mythology, in order to discuss our problems and how to negotiate it, because the scales can be balanced in our favor. We learn to do that by personally speaking with the law.
 
We can also face and conquer ordeals. This has to do with tests the student can face as a means of provoking and pushing us to develop. So in our spiritual path, we learn to overcome certain adversities and hardships, whether physically or also in the internal worlds. You can have symbolic dreams that represent certain challenges that you need to overcome. They are always managed by divinity. We have related a little bit in our courses previously, but you will find more about that in The Secret Path of Initiation on our website.
 
We can enter initiation, meaning, we enter a new way of life, to be welcomed amongst the gods, to become perfect like the gods. Also, see the same course in which we talk about that, the degrees and stages by which one unites with the divine, so as to be welcomed by those who have walked before.
 
We also, lastly, can watch or view the Akashic Records, view prophecies. This is a very compelling topic, and I know a lot of people have talked about the Akashic Records. It is basically like a film of nature. In the astral world, which is very fluidic in the sense that it is very impressionable, it relates to emotions, sentiment, a subtle form of matter and energy. In that dimension, everything is recorded, every action. Even if you speak into an old tape recorder, you can find that there are actually geometric shapes that are imprinted in the film. The same thing with the Akashic Records.
 
All the history about ancient humanities in different civilizations are imprinted within the consciousness and the memory of the astral world. So if you ask your inner divinity to show you about an ancient point in time, or a certain thing you need to know about the future, you will see images. You will see living dramas, a film. It is like watching a movie, but you are seeing reality. You are not seeing illusion. You are seeing what happened, what is, and what will be. We can learn to access that and really understand things about our humanity and our world that are inaccessible to our physical senses.
 
In conclusion, we will mention that by knowing ourselves, we will know these things.
 
The oracle of Delphi mentioned:
Know thyself, and thou shalt know the universe and its gods! ―Oracle of Delphi
​Hence the importance for learning how to awaken consciousness.
 
So at this time we are going to open up the floor to questions. We have some from the chat, most likely. The other instructor will be reading them for us at the appropriate time, but we also have a lot of people here as well. So feel free to ask.

​Questions and Answers

Question: When using the Tarot are you supposed to take in to account the three cards, or just the final number you are supposed to add up?
 
Instructor: Good question. For those of you who are not familiar with the Tarot themselves, such as doing your own reading, we mentioned some of this in the lecture called The Magician, the first arcanum in our course The Eternal Tarot of Alchemy and Kabbalah.
 
The major arcanum sets the tone, one of the first of twenty-two cards. So there are twenty-two major arcana, and fifty-six minor arcana. You first separate the major arcana from the minor. Shuffle them. Pull out one card face down. You look at the minor arcana. Shuffle, pull out one card. Shuffle, pull out one again. What you do is you look at their relationship. First you look at the individual cards, but the minor arcana and major arcana complement. They work together. So just as you form sentences with words, in the same way, the different arcana all constitute a certain meaning in the end. So you look at the synthesis. You look at the relationship between them, and you also look at them independently. So look at them all together.
 
Question: How often can one use it, like, can one use it every day or should you change it?
 
Instructor: You can use them every day if you want. Once a day. If you want to learn about genuine spiritual issues, the thing is not to get caught up in when you get an answer, to doing the tarot reading again, in a sense like you do not like the answer. Therefore you want to get another one. You cannot trick divinity. But if you have a certain issue that you want to explore, you can work with the Tarot. You can use it once a day, even if you want to know different things, such as “How do I proceed about my day? What do I need to know?” I have done it in the past, especially in order to learn about all the different cards, not just the first twenty-two, but all the minor arcana as well. So you can do it once a day if you want, but really dedicate it to genuine issues.
 
Other Instructor: It can be done more than once a day if you have more than one serious spiritual question to ask.
 
Instructor: Exactly.
 
Question: How can you go about being successful in meditation, because I try but my mind is like “You got to do this… you got to do that!” I find it very difficult to like keep my mind blank, and to not think about anything.
 
Instructor: Sure! It is a learned skill. We have some resources online. You can study courses we gave, such as Gnostic Meditation, and the Sufi Principles of Meditation, teaching meditation with the Sufis scriptures. We did a whole course on that. What I also like more is on Glorian.org: Meditation Essentials. That is a very synthesized and a very refined way of explaining meditation, step by step, with weekly exercises. I recommend that especially. So if you study that on Glorian.org, practicing each of the exercises for each week, in each lecture, you will get very profound results. That image we talked about, the nine stages of meditative concentration, the course elaborates on that a lot, so I highly recommend it.
 
Question: You mentioned that with out-of-body experiences, it happens when you are falling asleep. But then I know that the dream state is through REM, so that does not usually happen until you have actually been sleeping for a while. So what is the difference between those two, and the timing? And what happens when you go out-of-body? Do you immediately go in to that realm, or do you, like you said, you see yourself, and then you go into that realm?
 
Instructor: Sure! So there is a deep connection between the brain and our internal life, because like the Antahkarana thread, we are united with the physical world and our internal worlds. Now a lot of people record having deeper dreams and experiences when we are in REM sleep, when you are really deeply within the internal worlds themselves. It does not mean that people are astral projecting during REM. The reality is that we are projecting in the initial phases of sleep as you are stripping away your identity. Such as when you are falling asleep, you see memories, and dreams, and voices, and sounds, and landscapes, or whatever it may be. That is indicating to us a type of process in which we are starting to increase the light of perception, in which you are in the process of entering slowly in the dream state.
 
Now a lot people get caught up in those initial phenomena and they are unconscious again. Then they might later have experiences relating to deeper stages of sleep, REM. Now in Tibetan Buddhism, we talk a lot about the four lights. We will give a whole lecture about this especially. In the beginning phases, we start to perceive that we are about to enter into a dream. But if you maintain your concentration in that process, you enter willingly. But with REM sleep, we have already been in the astral plane for a couple of hours, typically. With training and learning to awaken your consciousness, you can be fully lucid throughout the entire time, even to the point that you physically leave your body, you go in to the astral world for a couple of hours, physically, terrestrially, and you can come back with full consciousness without forgetting anything. So that is possible. You can have the potential to be that skilled. It is very possible. It just takes work.
 
Question: Is sleep paralysis our ego not willing to leave our body?
 
Instructor: Some people have reported sleep paralysis associated with nightmares even. You are in your body but you are not conscious or you cannot move your body. That is usually just the process, sometimes, when you are returning to your body and you have not fully integrated into your physicality, in order to be able to move yourself after having come from dreams. It is not something to be really alarmed about or fearful. I know some people who have mentioned, for an example, I have a relative who had sleep paralysis associated with nightmares. He would see aliens or some other negative things coming at him when he is in sleep paralysis, and he felt defenseless when that happened. But the thing is not to be identified. Sometimes you have just not fully gotten your car to start, so to speak. You cannot be harmed. So nothing to worry about.
 
Question: Is it possible to get to the astral plane through meditation instead of going to sleep?
 
Instructor: Absolutely! So actually with meditation and practicing that skill, we are learning to go to sleep consciously. So when you meditate, with enough skill, you let your body relax. You are fully concentrated within. You are focusing on something to investigate. You can imagine whatever the object or goal is. Visualize it and let your body start to slumber. What is interesting about this state of meditation is that we learn to receive new information, when all of the mental obscurations are settled, like the sediment in a jar with water and all sorts of elements. If you shake it all of the time―which tends to be our daily waking state―you have a muddled chaos. But with learning meditation and applying these principles in our daily states, the sediment begins to stratify, layering itself so you can begin to see all the different contents of the jug of your mind.
 
What helps with that is when you are learning to meditate, you are falling asleep intentionally. It is the same skill. In fact, as you are learning meditation and you learn to go to bed, you are meditating while you are falling asleep. You are meditating even when you are laying down. So meditation, even in your chair or whatever position, you can learn to do that. In some meditations, you want to balance that threshold between wakefulness and sleep. But certain meditations you may find that if you want to learn to astral project, you do so while you are meditating. In fact, the best end result of a real successful meditation is an astral projection, because now you leave the body behind. You have removed certain layers that obstruct your investigation into certain phenomena, and then you can go. So meditation is a state of mind. It is a quality of being, when receive information in a new way.
 
Question: So when you are in that meditative state, does the body always go to sleep, or can you have visualizations and the body can be still mobile or functional?
 
Instructor: Great question! The best visualizations occur when you are still, in which you have relaxed enough to the point in which your thoughts cease to be a distraction. You are not churning with emotion. Your body is not agitated, and when you are perfectly still, meaning, you do not move physically or internally, mentally, suddenly images appear. They emerge. We do not will them. We do not intend them. But they just arrive, flashes of insight. You see visions. You see dream-like symbols. You see experiences, landscapes, especially, perhaps. That is indicating that we are approaching it in the right way.
 
You can have certain insights when you are physically active. It is true, but that take a lot more training. But with time, if you are sitting to meditate and you are stilling all the contents of your psychology, those visions appear magically on their own, and can really inform us about certain things we need to take care of.
 
Question: Ok, and so any visualization, I guess in that aspect, would be considered astral projection, regardless?
 
Instructor: Good question. An astral projection is when you are conscious of leaving the body. But often times when you are meditating, you are beginning to enter that threshold of that state, not necessarily projecting all the way through, but you are starting to perceive your inner reality. It is like stepping in between the doorway of two chambers: the physical and the internal. If you are really focused as you are receiving these visions and experiences from your internal dream state, you let your body fall asleep and you go out. But sometimes we might of fallen asleep in our meditation and suddenly we are seeing all of these things too. So there is a dynamic here too. But in both cases, you are perceiving your inner reality. An astral projection is when you are aware of leaving your body. In some cases, we fall asleep and we have no awareness of it at all. So… a little difference.
 
Question: Can we learn to heal others or ourselves through astral projection or when dreaming?
 
Instructor: Yes. The important thing is that when you learn to astral project, you use that ability for good. Use that capacity to help other people. You can do so by learning how investigate the karma of your particular situation, or another person if that is granted by divinity, if it is allowed. There ways to communicate not only with the Lords of Karma, but also the masters of medicine. There are beings that are governed by the archangelic hierarchies of influence known as the Angel Raphael―very famous in Christianity, in the Judeo-Christian tradition―who can help heal people if it is in accordance with the law and with the will of divinity. So you can learn to astral project and go to the temples of healing, to ask for benediction for those who are suffering, always in accordance with the mercy of the law, the stringency of the law, the rigor of the law, but also with compassion, we ask. We can pray. So you can do that.
 
Question: When one awakens consciousness in an astral projection, what are the keys to staying awake?
 
Instructor: We have certain mantras we use. A mantra is a sacred sound. It is a vibratory force. We know that through regular speech, our words can have blessings or curses. There are improper words and proper words. There are qualities of speech in reflection of the quality of our mind. Words spoken from hate harm the mental atmosphere of people, but compassion and blessings unite communities. 
In the same way, a mantra is a type of keynote, a sacred sound which through, either physically or mentally, vocalizing like the mantra “O,” we are learning to attract superior forces. 

One simple mantra to do, even when you are driving your car or doing it mentally at work, is “Om” [or O]. Prolong the vowels. You sing it mentally. That type of practice helps to strengthen our concentration so we are focusing on what we are doing. We are aware of what we are doing. We are not distracted. Even when you do that physically, when you learn to train yourself with practice and time, you can find yourself in the astral world suddenly awake. If you feel your consciousness is getting a little weak, a little tired, sing the mantra mentally.
 
You can sing it out loud even in the astral plane. People are asleep anyways in the astral world. People are not going to care. I know one time I was doing the mantra “Om Tat Sat” repeatedly, and some person in the astral plane was making fun of me: “You look weird.” I did not say anything because he was asleep. He did not realize he was in the astral plane. So it does not matter. Physically, you may not want to say it out loud because people may think you are a little strange, but in the astral plane it does not matter. They can judge you, but they will not remember.
 
Question: If one cannot be harmed in an astral projection, why do we need to enact spiritual self-defense?
 
Instructor: Good question! Astral projection is unharmful. Learning to transition into the internal worlds is not a problem. The issue becomes when you encounter beings like sorcerers or demons, black magicians who want to pull you into their path. Now there is not something dangerous about transitioning into the internal worlds. You cannot be hurt in the internal worlds like when you get punched or hit, or you fall over, or you scrape yourself. There is no danger to that. The struggle between positive and negative forces is in the mind. It is a conscious quality in which certain entities will try to exert their will on you to get you to act how they want. We call it black magic. But white magic is wanting to invoke the aid of divinity to work through you, so that you can nullify those types of efforts.
 
For example, someone comes up to you with a lot of anger, very hateful, very resentful. Maybe we did something wrong, and then if we learn to transform that situation and act kindly, like with genuine compassion, you diffuse it. In the same way, when you are working with certain prayers, you can learn to nullify those type of influences. But astral projection is not dangerous.
 
Question: Should we conjure and protect ourselves in the astral plane even if it is a beautiful angel, deity, etc.?
 
Instructor: You can, and it is actually recommended to be cautious, because there are beings that say, “Yeah, I am Jesus.” Anyone can say that, but it does not mean you should trust them. I remember even when I met the Master Jesus, I was scared because when I invoked him, he was a very luminous being. I was so terrified of the intensity of his presence, and I felt fear, like perhaps I called upon a demon instead. But I started to pray more and eventually clarity came.
 
You can do certain prayers and invocations to ask, “Show me who you really are!” So we will talk more about different practices later on, but you can call upon divinity to say, “Show me who you are” with certain conjurations that will basically clear up the astral environment for you, so that you can discriminate what is going on.
 
Question: At times in my dreams, I get a sensation of extreme intoxication. It happens suddenly and without taking any intoxicants within or out of my dreams. I feel extremely disorientated and have a very hard time standing up or walking. It feels as though I am very drunk. I tend to work through it, but eventually I have to just sit down. Could you please explain what this may be?
 
Instructor: Those type of dreams that a recurring are showing us something. If something keeps repeating, like a recurring dream, it means that we need to see something about ourselves. Now, feeling like one has no control over the body in dreams like in the astral vehicle, to be drunk in that state, could imply that there is a lack of control in one’s daily life. Usually dreams will show us something going on factually, something that is happening in your daily state.
 
So there is a relationship there. You should always examine your dreams in relation to your physical life. If there is a correlation there, then you can have confidence that something is factual here in what you are seeing. So if you feel like you have no control in your dream, examine your life. Examine what is happening throughout your day. Where do you lack ethics in your work?
 
Question: During lucid dreaming, do you recommend talking to other dream characters? I notice that most try to convince me that I am not lucid when I wake up.
 
Instructor: Well, if they are trying to talk you out of being awake, then yes, ignore them. There are a lot of weird entities you can encounter, and most of them are projections of our own mind. So if something is starting to distract you in the astral plane, with practice you learn to say, “Ok, I am going to put this aside. I am going to do something else…” so you maintain continuity of your mindfulness.
 
Question: What about sleep walking? People who go to sleep and within an hour, they get up and walk around a bit with no recollection of it the next day?
 
Instructor: Sure. In terms of sleep walking, I am not an expert. I have known people who have suffered from sleep walking. It is kind of like having one foot in the dream world and one foot in the body, where you are in such a comatose, psychological sleep that you are acting in a way that you are not aware of. It is like you are dreaming while you are awake, in the conventional sense.
 
Now the reality is that sleep walkers are in a profound state of Sushupti, which is the deepest form of psychological unconsciousness. But it is interesting. They can be physically active, but they are not aware of what they are doing. That is a more intensified example of what we do all of the time. Now there are greater intensities to these type of conditions. For us, most people tend to get distracted by certain things in the day. We are not really aware, but a sleep walker, we can see them being unconscious. That is all I can really draw from it. I am not really an expert in that. I know some people can get that treated. Pretty sure there are other sources where people can look.
 
Question: Could it be that they are maybe too identified with their body?
 
Instructor: Well, in the case of a sleep walker, they are identified, or they are in the body, but they are not aware. So yes, they are identified by some psychological quality, and that is a really good point to make because the reason why we sleep, in a spiritual sense, in a psychic sense, is because we are identified with some psychological condition in us. If we are ruminating in a problem, or stewing in anger, or identified with anger, we feel that we are that identity. We are investing our energy into those extremes. In that way, you lose consciousness of everything else.
 
So in a future lecture, we will talk about awakening consciousness in dreams, especially, awakening in dreams. We will talk about what it means to identify, where you lose awareness for yourself. Perhaps you are walking down the street and you see some kind of item in a store. Perhaps you go by a book store―that is kind of my guilty pleasure. I will see a book on a shelf, and my energy, my attention, is drawn to it, where I want to go into the store perhaps. If I am not paying attention, I can get distracted by my desire to go explore.
 
That is identifying and that leads to sleep. There are ways to train against that. So a sleep walker is identified with something, but even they are not aware because they are so unconscious.
 
Question: Can you speak about the arcana, after the first twenty-two? Why are there minor arcana?
 
Instructor: So the minor arcana are really an important part of the whole Tarot. We focus very extensively on the twenty-two major arcana because those are the main laws that we investigate. They are really the essential structures of reality. Now for example, the twenty-two arcana, we can associate them with the twenty-two Hebrew letters, and the twenty-two Hebrew letters relate to these twenty-two cards. Just because we synthesize everything into twenty-two characters does not mean that we do not look at the other fifty-six.
 
Now the fifty-six minor arcana are really important, in that they unpack the nuance of the original major arcana. When you get a Tarot reading for example, whatever major arcanum you receive, that kind of sets the tone for the larger picture. But then how does it apply to you life? How does it relate to different circumstances? How does it show you what is happening in your spiritual work? Those minor arcana clarify the context of those things, and they are really powerful intuitive messages and principles. We sum up everything to the twenty-two cards because those are the main building blocks for everything. But the minor fifty-six arcana are also really important to elaborate what is going on.
 
Question: I woke in my dreams, but I end up going straight to the hell realms. People, or entities there, kept grabbing or holding me. I tried various techniques to get rid of them, but their response was that they cannot be banished anywhere, because I came to them. I woke up with one still grabbing on to me and I could still see its face. Is it possible to bring entities from the lower realms back to this dimension?
 
Instructor: I would say in most people, no. There have been certain magicians or practitioners who learned to manifest the astral within the physical, and that takes a certain type of work and discipline. Now sometimes when we wake up physically from a dream, like a nightmare like that or a very intense experience, we still have the residue on us. We are still enmeshed in the dream when we are physically awake. So you might feel a psychic sensation when you are physically awake when you transition back.
 
I would say, from that experience, it sounds a lot like your own egos, your own defects. You were shown, and they told you that you came to them. It is true. We created the ego, and we gravitate to our own negative conditions of mind because of our own will. It depends on how we want to act. We have a choice in everything.
 
Now since we understand the teachings and the ways to remedy the problem, we learn to face our own particular karma or situation that we are now in, not with defeatism or with the feeling that “I am such a bad person,” or “I cannot make it.” But instead, we have the tools and we know right from wrong. We can act and change the situation. But unless you are someone like Iamblichus, like a real powerful theurgist, a magician who can invoke angels into the physical world, I would not necessarily fear of having a dream like that and suddenly your own egos are going to come after you from the infernal worlds. The reality is that even though they physically not going to appear, they are with you all of the time in your mind. So the solution is, just be patient.
 
Question: The statement that you can awaken positively or negatively is extremely intense. Can you give more details? Can a person awaken negatively by accident, meaning without absolute intent, and understanding of what is happening, or do they have to want that to happen? The Essence is always the innocent victim of egos, so I have a hard time understanding these two seemingly opposite ideas. Does that negatively awakened state eventually end?
 
Instructor: Good question. Now for a lot of us in these types of studies, we tend to carry with us certain defects from past existences. So even if physically we may have not dabbled in black magic or negative arts, it is rare to find someone who does not have that ego. Now for a lot of us who have so much condition of mind, it is very easy to simply push us over the edge, because as Samael Aun Weor mentioned, we are typically 97% ego and 3% free. The 3% needs to learn how to work on the other 97%k like the story of David and the Goliath. David conquered because he had faith in God and a pebble―a powerful allegory.
 
Now there are people who willingly and intentionally know that they are practicing that kind of art, and they enter into it with full consciousness or they enter into it knowingly, that these exercises are going to awaken them. Because they have those experiences, even though they are within conditioning in hell, they think it is positive. They do not discriminate what they see. For most of us who are in Gnosis, who have dabbled in that type of thing in past existences, we might have an encounter with another entity who seeing our weakness, our vulnerabilities, and can target us. That is exactly the way that these type of situations work, where a black magician will look for a weakness in your defenses, psychologically speaking, in order to pull you or to awaken you negatively.
 
So sometimes that can happen against our will, in the sense like, perhaps, we are confronted by a black magician and they can disarm us and take our consciousness, especially by grabbing your solar plexus, which is a very venerable area. They take your consciousness and they awaken you within your ego.
 
But that does not mean it is going to be a permanent state, because you can conjure and get your way out of it. You can defend yourself, get out, and you can return to your physical body and be fine. The reality is that, because we have these weaknesses, it does not take much to trigger us in certain situations. But it does not mean it is going to last forever. You can get insight and guidance from a divinity to help you, especially if you are feeling tested or tempted internally by these negative entities.
 
Personally, I have encountered a lot of them in my work. I have received guidance internally from my inner Being who was comforting me, especially after certain situations that were very painful where I felt very defeated, like I got beat up by a sorcerer. My Being told me, “You have nothing to worry about.” It is a learning experience. So be patient.
 
Question: Can we meet our ancestors, or loved ones during astral projection? Would they have information specifically about us or current conditions on earth?
 
Instructor: They can. It depends on their level of being. There is an assumption in Judeo- Christianity, and even in Islam, that when we die, we are going to go into the afterlife with awareness. But that is not true. It is not based on the scriptures. So we can meet loved ones. Personally, I have met family who have died before. I found them in the astral plane, but they were not awake. They did not know they were dead. That is the case with a lot of people who die. So if you really want to learn about situations on earth and about life, it is good to relate to awakened beings, awakened masters. Sometimes people have recorded moments in their near-death experiences or astral projections where they have met family and loved ones who were comforting them with a lot of light, showing them a strong presence of divinity inside, who were inspiring them that there is something more to life than just bank accounts.
 
My personal experience with having seen certain family members in the astral has been divinity often takes on forms familiar to us, out of comfort. For example, I have met people in the astral who appeared as a relative of mine in order to demonstrate that there is a person in my physical life who is like a brother to me, or like a sister. It is a symbol. Sometimes when people have these types of experiences, they come back to their body and they think that their loved one is awake in the astral plane. But it could be that divinity was just teaching them and giving them a lot of comfort or support through a familiar figure. So there is that dynamic too. But each person needs to analyze and discriminate for themselves to really understand what is going on here.
 
Question: Doing some of the practices, I am learning that I am having less lucid or mystical dreams now. Could it be that prior to the exercises I was having lucid dreams based on the ego, and now that I am going back to the basics to build up in the proper way, is it more aligning to an Egregore?
 
Instructor: You have to discriminate in yourself. Look at the facts. Examine your quality of life. Now divinity will give us experiences, will help us have those experiences when he wants. There are ebbs and flows in perception, in experiences. In the beginning, we tend to get a lot of light. Divinity inspires us with experiences to push us to want to study these things. But you may find that while practicing the knowledge, suddenly you do not have experiences, and there is an interesting dynamic here. Light comes and goes. There are periods of light and darkness, sun and moon, so to speak, philosophically speaking.
 
The thing to remember is that the practices do not put one to sleep, but there are many factors that go in to play. What is the karma of you situation? What does your Being want for you? Sometimes having experiences can be a problem. Having lots of visions and thinking one is a god, and therefore God says, “You are a megalomaniac,” meaning, you are too proud. Therefore, they cut it off from you.
 
We learn by bringing light into our own darkness, not by being in the heavens, so to speak. So look to your karma. Investigate it. Pray to your Being. What does he want for you? Be patient, because those types of experiences come and go when the conditions are ripe, when they are necessary.
 
I thank you all for coming. We appreciate our online audience, and we will continue next month. Thank you!​
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<![CDATA[Trauma and Spiritual Healing]]>Sat, 26 Jun 2021 05:00:00 GMThttp://chicagognosis.org/lectures/trauma-and-spiritual-healing
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In the Gnostic teachings, we talk a lot about suffering. In fact, if you are familiar at all with Buddhism, the first of the Four Noble Truths is that life is suffering. That in our existence, in our craving and desiring after different aspects and experiences of life, we are actually suffering intensely, but we are asleep to this. We are not aware of it.
 
Today, will be talking about trauma, and trauma is unique in that it is an experience that cannot be easily denied and that brings us directly into consciousness of suffering. If you have ever experienced something so traumatic, that the pain stuck with you even after the event had passed, or maybe now that pain has shaped your life in a very impactful way, then you understand that you have some consciousness of what suffering truly is. So you, in your own sense, have awakened some level of gnosis.
 
Gnosis γνῶσις is a Greek word that means knowledge, but not knowledge from a book. It is knowledge that is experiential. In this tradition, we often talk about striving for gnosis as direct experience of divinity. How do we have awakened experiences internally in the astral plane? How do we see and talk to God face-to-face and receive answers, not just pray but actually have that connection alive and awake within us?

So when we talk about cultivating gnosis, it is something that we really deeply know not just intellectually, but with all of our being. A trauma is interesting, because it is an experience of suffering that often manifests itself in the body. Even rationally we might say, "Well I should be over that, or that shouldn't have impacted me that much, or I don't want to act like this and respond with this much intensity to experiences anymore just because I was traumatized in the past.” Even with that rational resistance to it, we still tense up. We still feel the bodily sensations associated with the pain that we have gone through, and emotionally if you have known anyone who has been traumatized, or if you yourself have experienced trauma, it carries a heavy weight as well.
 
That is why I say it is a type of knowledge or gnosis that cannot be denied, no matter how much our rational mind tries to deny it and say, “This didn't happen to me! This wasn't a big deal. This shouldn't have affected me this much.” It really is a chance for us to wake up. In many ways, trauma can be a wake-up call: a chance for us to say, "There is something in life, in my life, that is fundamentally wrong. This suffering needs to be changed."

Trauma can be a chance for us to explore, to seek more answers, to try to find a way to change. For many people, they seek more existential routes to solve their problems. They seek to find a spiritual answer for why people have to suffer some horrible things such as rape, sexual assault, child abuse, even things like divorce: things that can be so painful emotionally, physically, etc.
 
So on the one hand, trauma presents us with an opportunity to radically change our lives, but for many people, it is very difficult to find answers or things that really work to make a change in their life, to really address their suffering. In those cases, trauma often becomes more of a burden, or an obstacle―something that only pushes us deeper into suffering. Perhaps a parent's problems with addiction, when we were a child, now causes us to struggle with addiction, as an example. How do we take the risks associated with trauma and try to transform them through a form of spiritual alchemy, into an opportunity for us to rise above suffering to become stronger, to become more wise, more aware of ourselves and of the mysteries of life?

​Medical and Psychological Correlations of Trauma

When we talk about trauma, there are some interesting correlations between a medical or psychological, you know, mainstream definition of trauma, and the more esoteric or spiritual significance of trauma that I am going to discuss today.
 
Starting with a conventional understanding of trauma, we can look at the causes of trauma. In the field of psychology, it is often referred to as “Big-T” Trauma or “little-t” trauma. We acknowledge that sometimes events that seem not so significant to many people―for example a break up when someone is a teenager and feels very unloved―can often be dismissed as not a big deal by adults who don't really have that same perspective on life at that point. That would probably be considered a “little-t” trauma. It still has an impact on us. It still has an effect and many lasting effects often on the way that we would look for, in this example, at relationships in our future.
 
But it might not be considered a “Big T” Trauma. “Big T” trauma would be something like going to war and watching your best friend killed beside you, or experiencing a sexual assault, or perhaps being in a terrifying car accident. These types of long-term abuse or very traumatic incidents can be both considered trauma.
 
Now many times different people can go through the same event and have a different response to it. What this is frequently associated with is the characteristic of resilience. Resilience still remains a bit of a mystery for psychologists, but there is a lot of research pointing to the family structure and the early childhood environment as a major factor in terms of trauma, resilience. So if someone had a very stable and loving family environment, then they might experience traumatic events with more resilience, especially if they had at least one adult figure that was a stable caregiver in their life, versus people who had a lot more instability. Perhaps neglect or abuse in the home can make it much harder for victims to have resilience in a variety of different difficult situations. 

​Situational and Chronic Trauma

I also want to point out that trauma can be both situational and chronic. Now this impacts the brain in a very different way. Situational trauma is usually when someone is already an adult and they have an experience, that is a situation or maybe a few situations, that produce post-traumatic stress disorder. As given in the example, seeing someone's best friend die right beside them will be an example of situational trauma, and that this actually does damage the brain. It does have a psychological impact on the brain, but it is different from chronic trauma. 
 
Chronic trauma is usually associated with childhood. It happens over a period of years. It could be years of childhood abuse, verbal abuse, sexual abuse, etc. This actually changes the whole structure of the brain and the way that the brain develops, so that that individual's personality now has a new structure, so the way that they even interface with the world will be very heavily impacted by the trauma that they went through over the course of those years.
 
Much of that has to do with the fight for survival. If you are coming home to an abusive home as a child, there is a feeling of helplessness. There is a feeling of never knowing what to expect, if today is going to be a good day or a bad day. So that puts tremendous stress on the body, on the nervous system. In that case, the brain has to reorient itself to find a way to survive―to find adaptive coping behaviors that, perhaps later on in life, will seem maladaptive to new situations where the threat isn't so real.

​Commission versus Omission

Finally, there is trauma that happens via commission or via omission. Often we think of trauma as someone committing an act to me that makes me feel out of control. Being assaulted on the street would be an act of commission that could be traumatic for people. Give people a real sense of helplessness, and “I don't know if I have control over my life. How can I know that it is safe anywhere to go?”
 
Trauma of omission would be a lack of the needs that a person has. Omission could be childhood neglect or constant blame and that feeling of not being good enough. The absence of what someone needs also gets processed into the brain as a trauma and changes our brain structure. 
 
As I mentioned here on the slide, trauma affects the nervous system and the neural structure. One good thing is that neuroscience now has so much evidence that even past the age of our mid-20s, we are still able to restructure our brain and meditation is a tremendous tool to be able to do so. So even though trauma codes itself and creates neural pathways that are very deeply ingrained through prolonged and continuous work, one is able to redirect and to kind of cut away those negative pathways, and produce new positive pathways that change your whole perception of reality, that also, by changing your outlook on reality, change the way that you respond to it. 

​Fight, Flight, and Freeze Responses to Reality

So perhaps you will not have one of these fight, flight, or freeze responses to situations. Take for example a woman who was in a domestic abusive partnership, where you know, continually, she had to be on her guard in order to defend herself from potential attacks from her partner. Now later on, she might enter into another relationship where the partner is loving and supportive, but little things may set this woman off to respond in a very aggressive way―that would be the fight response. To become completely withdrawn and cold towards her partner would be the flight response―or to freeze, to just totally dissociate, to become emotionally numb to the situation that she is in. So that is just one clear example of how that might manifest, but depending on the trauma, these responses can look a little bit different as you can imagine.
 
Given that those types of responses are what are programmed into the lower levels of the brain, the more instinctive levels of the brain, which is what becomes activated, it affects the entire nervous system and produces instinctive reactions without the ability to truly think consciously. To have that higher thinking process where you say “Hmm… maybe I'm overreacting about this situation; I should calm down; I should look at it more objectively”―when the amygdala, or the lower part of the brain gets activated, it is actually very, very difficult to be able to control oneself and to override that response, because it is such a deep primal part of the brain.
 
However, we do know that through meditation, as I mentioned before, we are able to gradually develop pathways and strengthen pathways that do allow us a bit of separation in those moments, and to repair the damaged parts of our brains so that we can respond in better ways. 
 
For many people, trauma leads to what seemed to other people as irrational reactions. In that person's shoes, perhaps they don't even realize that they are traumatized. Perhaps they feel genuinely in this situation, “It is life or death for me. I need to defend myself. I need to survive,” and so they respond with an extreme reaction to the situation. But for someone else who standing around, who doesn't have that same experience of trauma, they may not understand why this person is freaking out about a certain situation.

​The Spiritual Impact of Trauma

Now if we step into a more esoteric understanding drawing upon teachings from the Gnostic tradition―which we have many lectures about as well, if you'd like to learn more about these―we understand trauma and the way that trauma happens in a different way. So yes, it is true all the stuff that I just talked about―the biological impact of trauma―but more importantly for our concerns is the spiritual impact of trauma.
 
When we experience life as a consciousness, as a soul that is perceiving different aspects in nature, we experience a variety of sensations as impressions. Now you can live for certain amount of time without food, without water, and even without air, but you can't exist without impressions. Even if you go off to one of the sensory deprivation tanks, still in your mind, there are impressions. There is an impression of darkness where there are thoughts.
 
Impressions both come to us from our environment externally and are impressing upon our consciousness and our perception, but they also come internally. So it may be that we almost step into the road and a bus coming by scares us, and that is an impression that strikes the consciousness, but the result that is produced within us, the fear, the instinctive pull of the body back, you know, the thought of “Oh my gosh, I could have just died right there!”―all of those things are also impressions.
 
This shows us that the consciousness, that which perceives within us, is separate from the body, separate from the heart, and separate from the mind. It perceives these aspects of ourselves: thoughts, emotions, physical sensations, experiences in our external world, but it is separate from them. This is very important, because when we try to meditate, meditation is not just to sit on a cushion and to zone out, but to activate the consciousness that is beyond thought, feeling, and body.
 
We have to have that fundamental understanding that we are not our thoughts. We are not our emotions. We are not our bodies. We are perceiving them, but they are impressions, and we do have the conscious ability to take a step back from them and perceive them without being so identified with, “I am angry. This anger is me. I must act on it!” I have no other choice but to separate a little bit and to realize, “I am feeling anger. I am experiencing anger and right now I have the choice if I want to believe that this anger is worth doing these acts and maybe later on I'll regret, or if this anger is something I can let go of and choose a different path―using my free will.”

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When we talk about the human machine, we understand that for most people, probably all of us here, we are much more mechanical than we are conscious. Like in the example I gave of the bus driving by―that happens in a split second and you react to it. There is no conscious choice in, “Am I going to jump back from that bus? Am I going to feel afraid? Am I going to think these thoughts afterwards?” It just happens. The impression comes in.
 
The brain, which we would call the intellectual center or the intellectual brain, is one part of us. We also have emotions, the heart, the emotional brain, emotional center in the body, and the motor-instinctive-sexual center of our body related with the spine. With those instincts in the lower brain, those three centers respond immediately, instantaneously to those reactions.
 
In most cases, the motor-instinctive-sexual center is the fastest brain, and we know that the nervous system is throughout the entire body and responds instinctively before your brain can even think or send a message. You touch a hot stove. Your hand pulls off before you can even think about it. That is the fastest brain.
 
The emotional brain is the second fastest. Emotions often come before we have time to process what is really happening to us and think about it rationally, and you know, there is a lot of research on how the heart is actually sending many more messages to the brain, and can actually have a bit of precognition. It can actually respond to something before it even happens.
 
Then finally, the intellectual center of the brain. So, most of us think, “Well, I am a rational person. I respond to life from logic and I am not going to act irrationally. I am not going to respond emotionally or instinctively, you know.  I am an educated person” or whatever the case may be. But the truth is, given a certain experience, you will see that we are designed to survive―that we are designed like machines.
 
A stimulus comes in and we respond to it without thought. Why this is important is because the part of us, the consciousness, the part of us that is our soul, that is eternal, is the part we want to activate, because with the consciousness we can achieve that separation and we can respond to life with free will, with choice―not just according to our conditioning―not just “this happened to me when I was kid and this is the way I was raised and so I have no other choice but to respond in this pre-programmed way.”
 
We actually have a choice about “who do I want to be” and “how do I actually do that in the moment.” The consciousness, when it is awakened, is much, much faster than any of these three centers, but awakening the consciousness requires certain conditions that we are going to talk about in a few minutes. 

​The Transformation of Impressions and Psychological Disequilibrium

Now, when we receive impressions in the consciousness and it is not awake, this produces a disequilibrium in us, and especially over time, since most of us are running on autopilot much of the time. We are not even aware of this deep disequilibrium. We think, “Well, that's just the way that I am. If I perceive somebody to be disrespecting me, I am just going to respond like that because that's my character.”
 
But truly, it may be that throughout our life, we have received impressions and never transformed them. We have never looked within ourselves to say, “What is happening in me when I perceive that somebody is disrespecting me and what is causing me to respond? Do I have a choice to perhaps sink to their level and respond in kind, or to rise above it and be the type of person that maybe I'd prefer to be?”
 
That is why I say here, and we teach in our tradition, that untransformed impressions lead to conditioned behavior and thoughts. If we want to live as a free-willed individual, we cannot be living according to the program that has been conditioned into us. If we want to have the choice to pursue a path of enlightenment, just like Buddha or Krishna,  Moses, Jesus, any of these great spiritual figures who at one point were just like us, then we need to begin to radically take control over our situation. We need to stop being who we are and open up the pathways of action that allow us to become someone new.
 
That is why meditation is essential spiritual practice.
 
Now, if you are not from an eastern religious tradition, meditation may take the form as contemplation or prayer, but regardless, we say that meditation is not about necessarily your posture, although posture, incense, those types of things of course can be helpful. Meditation is really about your state of consciousness. You may be walking about through the world and have the consciousness awake, and this can be meditation. If you have experienced a very intense situation where you suddenly felt extremely awake, that may be spontaneous experience of meditation, but we want to, of course, work with the science of meditation to learn the conditions to be able to produce it regularly. 
 
So here, our problem of trauma is that we have we have impressions coming in all the time that aren't transformed and they are conditioning us to feel certain ways, to think certain thoughts, and to respond and behave in certain ways. If we don't want to spend our lives on repeat, feeling the same emotions day after day, thinking the same thoughts day after day, repeating the same reactions and behaviors day after day; if we really want to create a new life for ourselves, then we need to be able to wake up our consciousness.
 
The founder of our Gnostic tradition, Samael Aun Weor, makes a very powerful and simple statement about all of this. About receiving impressions in our life.
To change one's life is really to change one's own reactions towards it. ―Samael Aun Weor, The Revolution of the Dialectic
A lot of us have the mentality that life is just happening to me―and yes, it is true that our environment, our situation, the different systems in our world, do have an impact on our life, absolutely. But, what really determines the quality of our life is our response to it.
 
So if one impression strikes us in a certain way and produces negativity, then we are having a negative experience of life. If we can take that same impression and experience something more positive, like gratitude or understanding, then we have changed our experience of life. Fundamentally, life is not about what objectively happens to us out in the physical world. It is about the way that we experience it.
 
We see individuals who have been through intense hardship―war zones, like I said, trauma, childhood abuse―who have been able to transcend that and really have gratitude and experienced a lot of positive emotions in their lives.
 
Then we have individuals who have been, you know, born into wealth, and you can see that they are really miserable people. They can complain about a lot of things. Now, of course, there is every gray area in between. Not everybody who is rich is miserable. Of course, I am not going to say that, but we see that it really depends on the quality of the person in that experience, more than it depends on the situation. So, we have a habit of thinking, “Well, I am only going to be happy if this and this and this situation happens to me,” which is most of the time, out of our control.

​The Gnostic Esoteric Work

In our spiritual work, we are trying very hard to flip that mentality into, “I am going to be happy if I can really come to understand my situation in life and consciously choose how I am going to respond to it.” This is a process. This is not just wishful thinking of, “Oh, okay I have been traumatized and I am just going to be happy about it.” It is not about belief. It is something much deeper.
 
So, to get into that, we are going to talk about: what is this work? I say it is a work because it requires a lot of effort, especially deep traumas that happened over the course of years. This is not something that is going to be erased overnight. Even, you know, from a materialistic psychological standpoint, to reverse the effects of trauma in the brain as you create new neural pathways takes a long time and a lot of work.
 
If we have experienced trauma and have a genuine longing to be free, we are willing to do the work. We want to be free from the suffering and we genuinely say, “This is a point in my life where I am turning it around. I am going to radically try to take control of my life and try something new.” Then we can begin to work with these methods.
 
The methods themselves are quite simple in theory, but to truly put our conscious effort into it is what depends on us. It is not about whether the method will work as much as it is about our willingness to continuously apply it and to give it, you know, give it the time it takes to work.

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​The Magic of the Roses

In Samael Aun Weor's book, Esoteric Medicine and Practical Magic―as you can see we have copies of the books over there―he teaches one remedy that is called the magic of the roses.
 
This is what I give as a precursor, because many people who are experiencing trauma, if they even begin to think about that trauma, or if some situation in their life comes and triggers the pain from the past, they are overwhelmed with emotion and pain. From that state, it is very difficult to cultivate the stability needed to be able to truly meditate and try to go deeper into changing ourselves.
 
So, this remedy is a natural remedy for us to heal spiritual and emotional pain and trauma: you know the loss of a loved one, a painful breakup, or even dealing with the after-effects of abuse, self-hatred, etc.
 
To work with the magic of the roses, one takes three glasses or water, pure water, of course, being better if you're able to, and then places one rose in each glass.
 
Position one glass facing the north, one glass facing the east, one glass facing the west.
 
Ideally if you have an altar or a spiritual place where you like to meditate or pray in your home, you would place these glasses there and you would sit and you would genuinely pray―reaching out to your inner divinity, whatever form that may take for you that is most powerful: Jesus or Buddha or the Divine Mother, Divine Father, whatever that may be, and pray for healing. Pray to bless these roses and to give you the healing.
 
Then, drink in the morning before breakfast the glass facing the east, and in the afternoon before lunch, the glass facing the north, and before dinner the glass facing the west.
 
You can refill the glasses and repeat the process for as many days as needed, until you feel like you are feeling better.
 
Now, what is important to point out here is that this is the magic of the roses. So, if we are seriously trying to work with magic or a mystical practice, an esoteric practice, we need a certain type of energy. This is not just based on belief, but it is based on our own quality of consciousness. For one thing, it matters how much you are really conscious and sincere in your prayer to be healed. For another thing, you also will need to utilize a very powerful force. 
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​Sexual Energy: The Most Powerful Force for Healing

When we think about the most powerful energy within our bodies, it is the sexual energy. What can move people to chase after a desire so passionately, with so much energy over such a prolonged period of time, as much as sexual desire, right?
 
Sexual energy is the synthesis of everything that we are physically, emotionally, mentally. The things that we have experienced, the things that we have seen and thought, all get coded genetically into the DNA of our sexual cells. This sexual energy is not just the synthesis of who we are in a physical level, but holds a very special spiritual power.
 
The spiritual power of our sexual energy is the power of God, the power to create life. And yes, we understand this on a basic level, physically. What many people are not aware of is the sexual energy's power to transform and give birth within the psyche to new states of consciousness, the ability to awaken in higher state of consciousness, or if used in a negative way, the sexual energy can be used to awaken in lower realms of consciousness.
 
That is why I put here in the slide about transmutation that we want to transmute the sexual energy with purity―not with lust, but with love. Sexual attraction for most of us is always associated with lust. "If I feel desire for someone, it's in a very lustful way and that's just the only way I can think about that person." But what we are trying to do is take lust, start where we are at―you know, we all have lust―and to transform it through different practices. These are called pranayama in yogic traditions, breathing practices where you consciously take that energy and raise it up the spine into the brain to awaken our consciousness.
 
To use that energy helps us to move from being a lustful person to a truly loving person. Lust is “all about me and what I want in this relationship” or in this exchange with another person. Love is about the concern that “I feel for my partner” or this other individual. Love is being willing to sacrifice “what I want in order to support the happiness of both of us.”
 
Being able to move from that is not an automatic process. It requires a lot of consciousness, and being able to do the work of really changing ourselves into a new type of being is not an automatic process and requires a lot of work. This type of energy gives us the ability to have the equivalent of rocket fuel in our spiritual practice and to awaken in that way.
 
These practices are talked about at length in the book The Perfect Matrimony by Samael Aun Weor. He talks a lot about sexual alchemy, sexual transmutation, sexual purity, and being able to be with one's partner in a way that is loving instead of a way that is lustful. I don't have time today to really dive into it, but we do have the book, or you can read it for free online at Glorian.org [formerly gnosticteachings.org]. I'm just going to take one quote from this book. He says:
Here, we are not dealing with a matter of believing or disbelieving, of considering oneself chosen, or of belonging to such-and-such sect. The question of salvation is very serious. One must work with the grain, with the sexual seed. […] Only from the sexual grain is the Inner Angel born. ―Samael Aun Weor, The Perfect Matrimony
We look at masters like Jesus, Buddha, Moses, people who had power over nature. This was not an accident. They worked to cultivate it, and from their sexual force was born a tremendous power.
 
All of us have this capacity within ourselves, and it is not a matter of whether or not we believe it's true. It's a matter of if we do the practice and we really work with it, we see the results. We see the changes in our physicality, in our emotional center, in our mind. We see the changes in our conscious experiences: being awakened in the astral plane or in dreams, etc.
 
And so, it is not a matter of belonging to any group. You can be in any type of religion that you want, but it is a matter of really working sincerely with this science.
 
I begin with this practice, transmutation, as the basis, because although much of the work is in the next two practices I am going to talk about when we are trying to resolve our trauma. Without this basis, we can only go so far. Meditation will be helpful, magic of the roses might be helpful, but in order to create a truly permanent change in our consciousness, not just in our mind, or in our mental pathways within our consciousness, in the part of us that will move on to another lifetime, we need something much more powerful. Sexual energy is the root of who we are spiritually and physically.
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​Meditation as Therapy

The real intense work of trying to overcome trauma is in meditation. It is only through meditation that we can deeply comprehend the causes of our suffering. If we have experienced any impression in life, and it seems to be stuck and we are going around and around and around in circles over it, maybe we are thinking about it or we can't stop feeling or reacting to it. Being in meditation―calming the three brains, the mind, the heart, and the body, sitting in relaxation, and achieving the awakening of that consciousness and separating enough from the experiences that we are having emotionally, mentally, or physically―allows us to see what is truly happening to us in a more objective way, to experience it with more consciousness. 
 
There is a whole book about this as well, The Revolution of the Dialectic by Samael Aun Weor. He points out many different techniques for being able to meditate, because if you have ever tried to look at your mind, it is a very complex place, and for most of us when we begin meditating, it is a very chaotic experience.
 
It is like, “I can't pay attention for 5 seconds, how am I supposed to go deeply into comprehending the causes of suffering in my mind?” It takes time to develop relaxation, to find a posture, and you know, an ability to create relaxation within yourself in those three centers.
 
It also takes time to develop concentration, to be able to concentrate on our mind and our experience with such vividness and alertness that we can stay awake even as the body relaxes into sleepiness. 

​Countertransference: The Resistance of the Mind

But in addition to that, we have other challenges, and when it comes to trauma there are a lot of these challenges. The mind has infinite defense mechanisms to protect itself. If you are trying to work on trauma or something that is very painful for you―a wound that you have carried for a very long time―the mind will try to guard itself so that you can't go there.
 
There is a reason that many traumatic memories get repressed, or that we don't like to think about the past and the bad things that happened. It is because the mind is trying to protect itself from pain, you know, this instinct in us, to go automatically towards pleasure and to go away from pain.
 
Unfortunately, just by ignoring something, we don't resolve it. We don't fix it. Meditation, like I said, is really diving in to do the deep work, to create a lasting change in ourselves because our unconscious mind will respond and react to situations before we have time to think about it. So we go deep and we remove those unconscious structures and mechanisms within our consciousness, our psyche. Then we can respond with free will instead of as machines. 
 
Samael Aun Weor writes in The Revolution of the Dialectic:
The difficulty of profound introspective analysis (of our mind) lies in counter-transference. ―Samael Aun Weor, The Revolution of the Dialectic
Countertransference, when we think about this in a therapeutic setting, a clinical setting, is about reflecting a past trauma on to someone or something outside of us. Let's say that that in that situation of the woman who was in an abusive partnership, in that case she might try to repress that and move on, but when she enters into a new relationship, even if it's a healthy partnership, that will transfer all of that trauma, will transfer onto the new person or transfer onto different traumatic situations and produce the same reactions.
 
So even though objectively, these are two very different people and these situations may be very different, subjectively, within that person's experience of life, it is the same experience.
 
They are not conscious of this. They say, "No, no,” that “it's this guy. He's treating me bad, just like my ex-husband,” or whatever, but really, it is within ourselves that is projected onto life. I want to go back again to that earlier statement about “to change one's life is really to change one's own reaction towards it.” That is the flip side. Even if we have been victimized―which many of us in life have been… there are bad people out there right?―it is to take responsibility for our life and how we are going to react to it anyway.
 
To say, “Even though these terrible things happen to me and these people did this to me, I am not going to sit around and blame other people and persist in my pain. I really want to be free. I really want to say that no matter what happened to me, I want to be free from this and I want to choose how I respond and not be conditioned.” That is why the difficulty is countertransference. Countertransference tries to look everywhere else, but at “me and my experience and how I am responding to this.” It does not want to look at the paint.
 
Samael Aun Weor goes on to say that:
This difficulty of countertransference is eliminated through structural and transactional analysis. ―Samael Aun Weor, The Revolution of the Dialectic
It sounds very technical, but if we are sitting in meditation and we have achieved enough relaxation, concentration and stability to separate consciously from our experience, from our thoughts, to observe our thoughts―this is not to have a completely silent mind, but to have a silence that observes the mind, observes those thoughts, and observes those emotions in the bodily sensations―then we are able to see that the mind has a certain structure. It has its defenses. It has its walls.
 
In an example, if a man experienced a break up and his partner did something to really hurt him, and then he responded by shutting this person out, trying to put it all in the past, then in that case, one of the structures is, “I don't think about that. That is over. That is in the past. I am over it―all right.” This is one defense. There is a certain structure, and if this person sits in meditation and he tries to look at that and he says, “Well, maybe there still is some pain there; maybe I am not as over it as I thought, because something reminded me today about it and maybe there is some pain there”―the mind will have a transaction.
 
It will move on to some other defense. It will say, “Uh oh! He's getting through this wall.” So what is this other wall? Anger might come up and say, “Well, really I didn't do anything wrong in this situation. She did everything wrong and she was the bad person.” Again, we see the countertransference and the repression, or the ignorance gets transferred over to anger. We think, “Okay, well, I don't want to be this anger. I don't want to blame the other person. I want to be the better person,” then that transaction can move over to pride: “But really, I am a good person and I was so good to her,” and you know, whatever the case may be for any variety of situations.
 
We have to sit there and have gnosis of our own experience: to become deeply conscious of our experience of what happened, not by analyzing in the mind, but observing the structure of the mind and observing the transactions and the movements of the mind, until finally the mind has to stop deflecting and has to just let you look at the thing that you, perhaps, for a long time had not looked at. 
 
That is why Samael Aun Weor goes on to say:
It is important to segregate and to dissolve certain undesirable psychic aggregates that are fixed in our mind in a traumatic matter. ―Samael Aun Weor, The Revolution of the Dialectic
The aggregates in our mind would be something like that structure of anger, or that structure of repression, or that structure of pride, and they work together like friends. That's the transaction. So we want to set segregate them, to say, “Ah! Okay, well it just deflects it over here, but I am going to go back and I am going to focus on that until I have been able to dissolve it,” to say “I see this for what it is. I recognize and understand why this is here and I can consciously choose to eliminate it; to let it go; to say it's just not true and it has no power over me anymore.”
 
So as I mentioned before, belief, and just pushing it down and thinking positive thoughts, is not enough. We need comprehension. We need to go deeply in meditation and really see it for what it is in order to achieve lasting change. That is why this is a work of months or years, because continually, in our daily life, trauma resurfaces, and continually we have to make that choice: that our work to change ourselves is a priority, and that we are willing, again and again, to go and eliminate the different unconscious mechanisms within ourselves―things that have been fixed there as part of “who I am” in a traumatic matter. We want to make a change to them.
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​Self-Observation and Comprehension of Trauma

Going hand-in-hand with meditation is self-observation, because as I just mentioned, traumas resurface in our daily life. It said in the psychological community that trauma forces someone to live, permanently, stuck in the past. So even if they are somewhat present to their daily life, a part of them is trapped in the past and still responding to the past, trying to prevent from happening what has already happened.
 
If I have already been assaulted, I live constantly trying to prevent getting assaulted rather than being able to go back and look at the pain that is there and heal it, and let the wound heal. Comprehend it for what it is. Truly grieve for “what I have been through” and be able to let it go, rather than living as if it is still a threat currently “happening to me.” And so when we go in meditation, this is based on our self-observation: on the things that we see come up in ourselves every day.

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​The Traumatic Causes of Karma in Past Lives

In Tarot and Kabbalah, Samael Aun Weor writes:
We need to make ourselves conscious of our own karma. This is only possible through the state of alert novelty. ―Samael Aun Weor, Tarot and Kabbalah
Alert novelty is being conscious and being awake to “what is happening to me,” not just externally, but “what am I feeling? What am I thinking? How is my body responding?” Becoming aware of your body in the chair and how you are feeling emotionally? And what thoughts are popping into your mind? Not just now, but in every moment. That takes tremendous energy, which again, is another reason why sexual transmutation gives us the fuel that we really need to be able to stay awake consciously throughout the day.
 
Now when he is talking about karma here, karma comes from the root karman, which means: “action and consequence, cause and effect.” So maybe our mainstream idea of karma is just, "Oh, you did something bad to somebody; something bad is going to happen to you!” But a much more scientific understanding of karma, for our terms, is that there is no action that does not produce a consequence.
 
You can't throw a rock into a pool of water without producing ripples. Now the shape of that consequence may take, or the time it may take for that consequence to fully bloom, that can be variable. But everything you do, everything you think, everything you feel has an effect. If you feel anger and you think angry thoughts, even if you don't act on it, it will change the way that you interact with the person you are angry with. At some point it might even bubble up and express itself fully, may be in a worse way for being repressed. Everything in our life produces some consequence, and that is why it is even more critical to be able to become conscious of our response to life, because we might not be able to change what we have done in this life up to now, or even in past lives, but we can change what we are doing now that will alter the future of this lifetime and future lifetimes. 
 
He goes on to say that:
Every effect in life, every event, has its cause in a previous life; but we need to become conscious of this. ―Samael Aun Weor, Tarot and Kabbalah
If you are really working with meditation, and I say this from my own experience, and you meditate on a trauma, and you go deep enough, you will see causes in previous lifetimes. I can give an example of a painful relationship that I was in where, again and again, no matter how much I tried to change this person, this man and I would continually repeat the same types of behaviors towards each other. As much as we might have cared for each other, it continually remained a toxic relationship.
 
And so, you know, years after the fact when I am trying to go on and live my life, this keeps resurfacing for me. I am studying the Gnostic teachings. I am working with these practices, transmutation, meditations, etc., and I say “Okay, well, here is a perfect example. This is something I definitely want to change” by going deeply in meditation and understanding, on a regular basis, you know, really working on this day to day until I could get deeper and deeper.
 
First getting through the defense mechanisms, then getting into “Well, how am I really feeling?” Because I have pushed it down and denied it for so long, I haven't even objectively seen my experience, until finally going deeper into what caused this. Why would something like this happen? Why did I have to be stuck in so much pain for so long? And being able to see through astral experiences the exact actions that I had done in multiple previous lives, and that this person had done in multiple previous lives, that caught us in that pattern.
 
Now this was something that I didn't necessarily believe in or expect to happen. I totally felt like, “Well, this just happened to me, whether or not I believe in past lives. This happened because he was a bad person and I was young” or whatever. But to truly go and have an experience so vividly where I saw, instantaneously, those multiple past lives―with those multiple transgressions in different bodies and different times, but seeing the same energetic cycle―was shocking for me.
 
It produced a type of comprehension that really was so deep, I was able to fundamentally alter the way that I looked at myself, because I never saw myself really, deeply, as the aggressor. As much as I might have said, “Well, yeah, I did bad things… I really felt victimized,” it hurt. But when I saw “Oh my gosh! I did that in past lives” and I knew from the experience and how vivid it was, how true it was that I was really there, I wept with remorse, because I would have done anything I could to have changed that and to not have hurt this other person that I cared for.
 
But you know, we have to work from where we are at now.
 
So when we become deeply conscious through self-observation, through what is coming up in our current life, and also through meditation, through going deeply, day after day, into deeper states of meditation, deeper states of consciousness and comprehension, it can produce a fundamental shift. I say that, and I probably still have more work to do on that particular one, but I have profoundly changed, and in a permanent way, which wouldn't be possible for me to react in some of the ways that I had before.
 
He goes on in Tarot and Kabbalah, saying:
The law of action and consequence governs the course of our varied existences, and each life is the result of the previous one. ―Samael Aun Weor, Tarot and Kabbalah
Now we see repetition on a daily basis. We see that, “Yeah, you know, when I get in these types of situations, I tend to act the same way. Even if I am trying to change.” We see this in our current life, but even more fundamentally, in past lives, we followed very similar trajectories, because the same energy propelled us. The same desires, the same fears, the same vices, and even the same virtues, in some cases, provoked us to repeat the same patterns.
 
What we want to do is become conscious of what is propelling us in this lifetime, in this moment, and to have a conscious choice over “which direction do I want to go? Do I want to continue to get stuck in deeper and deeper suffering, to keep doing things that hurt others and hurt myself? Or do I want to change the trajectory of that energy so that the rest of my lifetime or future lifetimes is much improved from this one?”
 
Samael Aun Weor writes:
Karma is the law of compensation, not of vengeance. ―Samael Aun Weor, Tarot and Kabbalah
It is cause and effect. It is not some evil old man in the clouds trying to shoot down lightning bolts at you because he is mad at you, because you are a terrible sinner. It is cause and effect. You send an energy into motion to be angry at someone and to hurt someone, and that energy produced effects in that person, produce effects in the environment, and at some point in time, those effects come back. Because when you are angry at somebody and you hurt them, unless they are very awake and they can transform them, that unconscious effect on them produces effects that they want to respond to you with anger, with pain, to make you feel what they feel. This happens in all actions.
There are some who confuse this cosmic law with detriment and even with fatality, believing that everything that happens to the human being in life is inexorably determined beforehand. It is true that the acts of the human being are determined by inheritance, education, and the environment. Yet, it is also true that the human being has free will and can modify his actions to educate his character, to form superior habits, to fight against weaknesses, to fertilize virtues, etc. Karma is a medicine that is applied unto us for our own good. ―Samael Aun Weor, Tarot and Kabbalah
Karma is an opportunity that comes with risks.  Karma provides us with the opportunity to see ourselves in a new way―to wake up to our suffering and to change. What did I do to produce this? Maybe not in this lifetime, but in previous lifetimes, and what can I do to change it, if I awake consciousness and respond in a new way? But it also comes with the risk of just getting more identified with that intense pain and going deeper and deeper into suffering, continuing the downward spiral.
 
And he concludes with quite a bit of severity:
Disgracefully, instead of bowing with reverence before the internal living God, people protest, blaspheme, they justify themselves, they stubbornly excuse themselves and wash their hands like Pilate. Karma is not modified with such protests; on the contrary, it becomes harder and more severe. ―Samael Aun Weor, Tarot and Kabbalah
No matter how much we might resist karma or be mad about our situation or say, “Well, I was a good person and I didn't deserve this,” and “Why is this happening?” and yell at our inner God―it won't change cause and effect. It is not going to change the energies in nature that are coming to manifest for us. We will reap what we sow. If we do good deeds that produce harmony in our environment, that produces happiness and other people, they will respond to us with that happiness.
 
Now, maybe not immediately, but it is a given that any energy you put into motion has an effect. A lot of times, it takes months or years for the good effects to manifest. So, we have to really stick with it and be tenacious because, we have done, you know, all of us have done bad things in our life; thought bad things about bad things; acted in harmful ways; hurt people. So, you know, unfortunately, I said, we can't undo the past, but we can choose right now to respond to our present life in a new way to change our future. 
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​Selfless Service and Sacrifice: The Transformation of Suffering

Finally, the last force that we work with, to truly transform our trauma, is sacrifice for others, particularly those who suffer similarly to us.
 
We have talked about how we need transmutation to have the energy and the spiritual power to become someone new, to become conscious in new ways.
 
We need meditation to go deeply to get rid of the conditioning that makes us the same old person, on repeat, all the time.
 
And finally, we need the power of sacrifice, because these are the actions that help us to create those new energies in motion, so that we don't encounter those same negative experiences that re-traumatize us, but so that we can get the healing that we want.
 
As you sow you will also reap. So, if we want to heal from our trauma, we need to begin by healing others.
 
I want to preface this with a bit of caution, in that if you are in a very traumatized state and you are feeling overwhelmed, be careful what types of situations you put yourself into until you have some healing. If you have healthy and stable relationships in your life, you can begin to really do this work and go deeply in yourself, but if not, it can be unsettling especially early on.
 
It is very difficult to manage unless we have a real strength of consciousness in our meditation practice. If you don't have anyone you feel is a stable and healthy support in your life, it can be helpful to see a therapist, or to see someone that specializes in trauma, who understands the process and can be there to support you. You have to do the work, and every therapist will agree that you only get out of therapy the amount of effort you are willing to put into it.
 
But it is really necessary to have some source of stability, because as a consciousness, most of us, are very weak, and there are a lot of Impressions coming in our lives, so we want to keep ourselves, in the beginning, in situations that are positive impressions: healthy places to go; good people to be around; healthy types of music or activities or yoga, things like that, that bring us stability, rather than, you know, going into bars, or places where you know it is dangerous, if you are able to.
 
Not all of us have that luxury, I understand, so doing what we can to produce stability before we really deeply dive into working on our trauma, sacrificing for others, it depends on us and our situation and our willingness. What am I willing to really do to serve other people ? If we have the strength and we start to work on ourselves and we get to a good place, what am I really willing to do to not just serve other people, but to sacrifice for other people? To go above and beyond what is expected of me as a good citizen and to really expend something of my heart, or my time, or my talents, in the benefit of other people―this is what is the true power that produces great change.
 
However, as stated in Tarot and Kabbalah:
Many people who suffer only remember their bitterness and wish to find a remedy. But, they do not remember the suffering of others; neither do they remotely think of remedying the needs of their neighbors. ―Samael Aun Weor, Tarot and Kabbalah
When we are in intense pain, that is usually all we can think about: how much I am suffering as a self. Now, if you get into some of the more esoteric teachings of Buddhism and Eastern teachings, you come to understand that there is no such thing as a self, and yet we deeply believe ourselves to be an individual who has such and such experiences, who reacts in such and such a way. 
 
The psyche itself is egotistical. It maintains an illusion of “This is who I am” and “this is how I feel” and “this is what I think.” The consciousness is beyond that, but when the consciousness is asleep, it is fused with the psyche in such a way that it feels very strongly that “This is who I am. That is my existence.” And again, that is why it's important to be able to separate the consciousness a little bit in meditation, to observe the self, not as me, but as a structure or as an entity that can be separated from me. That can be observed as its own individual person with its own feelings and wills, and to be able to do that requires a good deal of stability, concentration, relaxation, and meditation. 
 
So when we are trapped in that egotistical prison, a feeling like, “Oh my gosh, everything bad is happening to me! This happened and then years later this happened, and this keeps happening!”―that pain is so intense it is nearly impossible to think about anybody else and anybody else who is suffering. Yet, we should take the time to really think about how much other people are suffering, not as a way of comparing: “Oh, well, I have got it worse than those people or they are worse than me” and making ourselves feel guilty, but to just truly comprehend it and feel it deeply in ourselves. This is to feel the pain of other people, empathize with that, and wish, “I wish things on this planet were better and not so many people were suffering.” We see that we have the power in our limited free time or with our limited gifts to be able to go and help someone else, to say, “Man, if all of us have to suffer this much, I at least want to produce something good for someone else!” Then we are able to break out of our prison of egotism a little bit, and it actually lessens our sorrow. It actually lessens our experience of being so enmeshed and ingrained in our in our own individual pain.

​The Cessation of Karmic Suffering

I will conclude with a final point from the same book Tarot and Kabbalah:
If those people would think of others, serve their neighbors, feed the hungry, give a drink to the thirsty, dress the naked, teach those who are ignorant, etc., then it would be clear, they are putting good deeds on the plate of the cosmic scale [of karma]. The scale would incline toward their favor. Thus, they would alter their destiny, and good luck would come in their favor. In other words, all of their necessities would be remedied. But people are very selfish; this is the reason for their suffering. No one remembers God nor their fellowmen except when they are in desperation. ―Samael Aun Weor, Tarot and Kabbalah
Again, I want to emphasize that this is not a matter of belief and believing, “Oh well, if I just superficially do a couple nice things and superficially wish good things for others, then all of a sudden my life is going to be perfect and great things are going to happen.”
 
It is a matter of action. You don't have to believe in this cosmic law of karma and cause and effect for it to have an impact on you. You don't have to believe that you are going to get wet when it is raining in order for you to step outside and get wet. This is the same way. We have a big obstacle in American society and that is cynicism. People genuinely don't believe that if you do good things, then good things are going to happen to you. They think “Well, the only people it works out for are the ones who get ahead and step on everybody else.”
 
This is an obstacle. This is a belief that changes the way we perceive reality, that changes the way we respond to reality. If we are deeply a cynic, we respond to reality with that conditioning and with that negativity and we act in negative ways as a response to it: hopelessness―you know―nihilism. So for us to really change that, we need to be open to trying new things, open to genuinely saying, “Okay, for the next month, I'll go volunteer someplace and I'll do something good in my free time that otherwise I wouldn't do.”
 
We have the free will to choose that, but do we have enough conscious will power to actually do it and stick with it even when it gets ugly, and we are really seeing the suffering, the intense suffering of other people? Are we really willing to stick with it and to see the impact it makes on us? Because that action will not be without consequence. It will change you. It will change your emotional state, your thoughts. You will see the world in a new way if you go into that type of environment, if you do that type of work, if you give of yourself, even when you are tired, or you don't feel like it, etc.
 
As I mentioned, it is a way that we can change things, but to have true faith in karma doesn't come from belief. That faith in karma comes from being awake: observing our life; observing the effects of our actions; the effects of our thoughts, emotions, etc. And that is how we produce a lasting change. It is by deeply knowing that. If I do this, it will produce this result. Then we won't want to produce negative results for ourselves, not just because we believe and we are scared it is going to produce something negative, but because we have seen it happen multiple times in our lives we have experienced it. We have gnosis of those consequences, and so we are not going to do it. You are not going to stick your hand in the fire if you know that the fire burns.

Questions and Answers

Question: I found it interesting when you were talking about the cycles that we repeat in as far as our defense mechanisms or past lives. So how does that, in this tradition, rectify with attachment theory? The big thing in psychology now is attachment theory: that a lot of your personality, all these defense mechanisms that you are talking about come from age zero to seven, things that have happened to you:  how your parents dealt with you, whatever happened. How much of that is what you are dealing with now as an adult, compared to all the past lives and stuff, or is that an aggregation of all that?
 
Instructor: Attachment theory, for those who are unfamiliar, is that if we have stable attachment, a healthy safe environment in which we grow up, we experience relationships in a different way, and are much more easily able to have healthy relationships later on in life. If we have an unhealthy or unstable, dysfunctional family or environment as a child, it changes the way our brain is wired, and we have much more anxiety and fear and withdrawal and relationships later in life.
 
Those formative years, not just for attachment, but for all kinds of things in our personality, have a tremendous effect on us, and science has shown us this. How much of those formative years is causing the problems we have now in life versus past lives? And yes, you kind of answered your question. The formative years are the compressed aggregate of many previous lifetimes. So, the formative years is where we see not just lifetimes, you know, like, “Okay, my past ten lifetimes,” but very ancient lifetimes, things that go back to previous civilizations.

Things that happened not just as an individual, but as people, as a collective, are encoded into even the way that a fetus forms. If you have ever looked at a human fetus, you know, it goes through phases of evolution, almost looking like a lizard at certain points, and then becoming more human.
 
All of our biology, our DNA, our physical existence, is a code based on our spiritual existence. It is the physical manifestation of the internal existence. So, when we see early childhood traumas and pain like that, it is often from an ancient past of being caught in a cycle with that person's family, with those other souls or individuals that are in that family of harming one another. It is very sad.
 
But you bring up a good point. We shouldn't get too caught up with past lives right off the bat. It is actually more important in the beginning to look at your life and to look at previous experiences in this current lifetime: to just look at what you can observe. You don't want to get caught up in a fantasy of trying to imagine your past lives and then producing more delusion for yourselves. Really, focus in the beginning on just observing this lifetime and what I can remember from this lifetime, and sitting in meditation and allowing those memories to naturally come up spontaneously.
 
You may be sitting, meditating on something, and some seemingly unrelated memory pops up from when you were six years old in kindergarten, and then you are like, “How is that related? That doesn't make any sense.!” So then you can choose: “Okay, maybe I take a break and I'll meditate on that experience in kindergarten and try to comprehend what that was all about.” Then as you meditate on that, you may have an inspiration of, “Oh, now I see, it's not in the mind. It's in the consciousness!” This understanding. This comprehension is much deeper than an intellectual, “Oh, A plus B equals C.” It is a very deep knowledge, like I gave in my example of knowing, vividly, in the experience of seeing my past lives that they were real and that that had been me.
 
Even though I was in different bodies, I knew exactly which one was me, and that is something that is not an intellectual, “Oh, that must be me because she looks like such and such.” It is knowing. In the same way when a memory comes up and you sit with it, and you sink into it, you are praying for guidance from your inner divinity, that can come through. It might not happen in the meditation session. It might happen three hours later when you are washing the dishes. It suddenly clicks. This is the way it is. When our mind takes a break, consciousness can bring us results.
 
Other questions?

Question: You mentioned a tradition that correlates with the Buddhist tradition... What tradition was that?
 
Instructor: Vajrayana tradition: the most esoteric levels Buddhism. If you go into the essence of those scriptures, you see they are very similar to ours.
 
Buddhism, in general, has many sects, but in general, it has three levels of traditions. Shravakayana would be the lowest level, the most fundamental based on just the literal teachings of the Buddha. That is a very introductory level for people who are just coming into Buddhism. It is where they usually start.
 
Mahayana, known as the greater vehicle, has more of these mystical elements into it, and at the heart of Mahayana is the service, the sacrifice for others―trying to strive for a lifetime of becoming an enlightened being in order to help humanity, which is suffering so much. So we build on that root of: life is suffering, and I want to escape my suffering by transcending that and going into, “I want to transcend my suffering because I want to help other beings transcend their suffering.”
 
Then Vajrayana, or sometimes called Tantrayana, from Tantra, is the highest level of the teaching, the most esoteric. It has traditionally been the most hidden, although in recent years, a lot of this has come to life because of the internet. It is about expedient methods in which to achieve that enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. So, it builds on the other two, and Tantrayana talks a lot about working with sexual energy and transmuting sexual energy. So that is the direct correlation with our tradition.
 
Another Instructor: The Dalai Lama, in relation to this topic of trauma, related an experience in which he interviewed a Buddhist monk, who was exiled from Tibet after the Chinese had invaded. He was put into prison for 18 years. He was abused and experienced many of the traumas and difficulties of that particular region. And to tie into this discussion of trauma, there was an interesting comment the man made to the Dalai Lama, who asked him, “What was your greatest danger when being in prison?” And the monk said, “Losing my compassion for the Chinese.” So a question we can reflect upon is: how does the force of compassion help to overcome trauma? (especially tying into this need to serve, to sacrifice for humanity and what that does for the individual psyche). As you said, if we are focusing on trauma, if we are focused on our pain, you don't really think about other people, but how is it that compassion unlocks, unties that Gordian knot of suffering?
 
Instructor: You remind me of another quote that is quite popular: “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and to realize that the prisoner is you.”
 
When we let go of our grudges against other people, even if we feel totally justified in them, and even if those people did very evil things, we free ourselves in a very deep way. It can't be expressed in words. It can only be experienced. If you have ever had a time where you were so angry at somebody and you held on to it for so long, and then finally, somehow, you were able to forgive them, the weight was lifted and you were able to perceive life, even that person, without so much pain. Then you have experienced it and you know it's true.
 
Compassion for others is a way of liberating ourselves from suffering. It works with this principle: sacrifice for others. When we do good things for others, we forgive others, so we can be forgiven. It puts into effect powerful causes that transcend previous causes.
 
But when we hold on to anger, when we hold onto pain, we are poisoning our ourselves. It is not pleasant to feel anger. As justified as we may be in being angry, it is suffering to feel that anger and it is freedom to feel good will towards other people, no matter what they have done to you.

Keep your distance from people if you need to, absolutely. Keep yourself safe. Don't stay in a situation where you are being abused, but with that prudence, to also be able to not let not let that pain linger with you―to do this type of work and go deep into healing the pain.
 
It doesn't happen overnight, but through that process we say that the law of karma, of action and consequence, is the second law. It is the law of nature, and there is a first law, a superior law which can transcend karma. So, all these bad actions we may have done, which we may be freaking out of like, “Oh man, I know I did bad things in this lifetime, who can imagine past lifetimes!” There is a much more powerful law that we can work with in order to create effects and causes that are even more powerful than those that can, in many cases, overcome the effects of those laws. They can't erase it, but they can be more powerful than the effects of those other actions. It is the law of sacrifice.
 
To do good things for others is a law. It is an intelligent law, is that divine law. It is a law that works with superior principles. The laws of nature are mechanical, karma. Karma has an intelligence, or I should say, it is managed intelligently, but it is like physics. It happens. You can believe whatever you want, and it is still going to happen to you, but sacrifice is a very special divine law.
 
Again, it is something that you can only truly experience the effects if you have done it, if you have given it a try. Like I said, going for a month and really sacrificing, then you experience for yourself, when you sit at the end of that month and you reflect back on it, you know from your experience the effects of that. You don't have to believe in it. Many times, we have in our imagination or in our fantasies, “Well, if I go do that, it's just going to be like this.” And we never actually do something. We just have our projection of the future, a projection of what a situation will be like.
 
Without having experienced it, we think we already know. We need to question our mind because the mind and the imagination are very powerful and condition us, producing the effects it wants us to do, but an action, actually, is much more powerful.
 
Question: So trauma, not properly addressed and not transformed, would you say that it would carry over into another life?
 
Instructor: Absolutely. Yeah, because trauma itself, even if it's something good that happens to us, can carry over to future lives. So good things that happen to us that we become very attached to, like having a loving relationship with a child, you know, even in a future lifetime again, we are going to find that same individual and whatever new relationship and have a strong attachment. So even good things, good attachments, which carry over to lifetime to lifetime, are still unconscious and mechanical.
 
We want free will, both from the traumas and the pains that have conditioned us to respond to people or certain people or certain situations, and in the same way, we want to separate from that and free ourselves and also from any kind of unconsciousness. It doesn't mean we stop doing good things or loving people or having kind relationships, but it means we have a conscious choice about it.
 
So trauma, as I mentioned before, is just a really powerful experience of gnosis that prevents us from denying suffering. But other experiences, good experiences, can have that same kind of un-transformed or un-digested impressions, that same effect on our structure of our psyche.
 
And even though the physical body doesn't carry on from lifetime to lifetime, what we call the astral body, which is made up of our emotions, or the mental body which is made up of, you know, more finer mental substances, they carry on from lifetime to lifetime in the form of the ego. It is a type of matter that is more protoplasmic, that is more malleable than physical matter, and it can exist outside of the physical world. That is why with astral projection, you can go outside of your physical body and you can still have experiences. You can still walk around and talk, but it's not with your physicality.
 
After death, those different aggregates of ourselves can move on lifetime to lifetime. What is important is that if we wake up, we can become very conscious of that experience, not just when we go to sleep, but also after death. We can have more power and more choice in our future lifetimes. 
 
Also, we can become a different type of being in higher planes of reality, planes that are more ethereal or subtler planes of nature. They are just as real as the physical plane; in fact, in some way, very much more real, but we are not conscious of them because we are so asleep and so hypnotized by our physical nature.
 
We want to be aware of our physical nature, but also aware of these other aspects of ourselves. So this can be both higher aspects of our emotional and mental nature, but also lower aspects, because we have a lot of unconsciousness, subconsciousness, infraconsciousness trapped in negativity. And that, for us, is hell. If we are trapped in the negative states: anger, pride, greed, lust, etc., we are continually tortured by those desires and pulled in different ways from one minute to the next. It can be completely contradictory desires. This is a state of confusion and suffering.
 
Until we become conscious of it and liberate the consciousness out of that, then we can't really move fully up. We might have parts of ourselves that are up in higher states of consciousness and parts of ourselves trapped in lower states of consciousness, but generally speaking, for most of us, the majority of us are trapped in negativity and lower states of consciousness.
 
That is the work of meditation, not just with trauma, but with everything. It is to enter in meditation into the lower states of our mind, to perceive them not as real and “that is who I am,” but to perceive them as structures in our mind that project images, that project emotions, or fantasies, or plans for the future, and to just perceive it without becoming hypnotized and identified with it. We must comprehend it for what it is, to turn and look at what is the source of this fantasy that is playing, or this fear that is playing, and to be able to comprehend that source and eliminate it through the power of transmutation, which can give birth to something new.
 
Question: Based on the answer it sounds like as far as trauma goes… does the work to transform that energy, that experience prior to death so that you are not going into the next life with that baggage, so to speak. What would be the complete set of things that you need to be looking to do by death so that you are in the best space for the next life?
 
Instructor: Great work, that is, a truly deep work. We do as much as we can, as much as we have the willpower to do. But, it's these three things:
 
  • Transmutation (which we actually call birth)
  • Death (which is meditation)
  • Sacrifice
 
These are the three factors for the revolution of the consciousness.
 
So on a daily basis, doing good deeds, performing good actions, meditating on the unconscious parts of ourselves, whether seemingly positive, negative, or neutral, meditating on them and comprehending them―becoming awake and aware of what is controlling us beneath the surface.
 
Birth is working in transmutation to give birth to new elements in your consciousness and to eliminate those negative structures. Primarily, if we are not working with transmutation, we do not have very much of the substance which can destroy the roots of trauma and of karma. When I act in a certain way, I fuel energy into it, and a lot of times, even if this isn't a lustful situation, even if it's for example, pride or anger, that takes my creative energy, that takes my life force, the essence of who I am, and invests my energy into that.
 
That is being born in me as a living type of substance, a living entity, almost of itself, and that entity is anger, and that anger has a will of its own―a will to speak a certain way, to think a certain way, to act a certain way. And so, until I take that same force, draw it out of the anger―through comprehension and use my own life force to say, “I am eliminating this”―then nothing can be changed on a permanent level.
 
We might be able to do some superficial change, but to really achieve a deep and lasting change, we can't do that. And if you read the book, you'll see that that work with the sexual energy is the work with the Divine Mother. 
 
I didn't want to get too much into it today, but we are working with the power of the Divine Mother, or the power of the Holy Spirit. The Third Logos is that power of creation and destruction, of birth and death. And so, that is the power we work with when we utilize that energy. Doing as much as we can before death will radically change us.
 
It is like an exponential curve. The more that you are able to do, then the more that you will be able to do. “If I do this much, then exponentially I'll be able to do that much more, and from that point, I'll be able to do so much more.” Karma really restricts us, and the more unconscious we are and the more karma we have weighing us down that hasn't been transformed, our actions become very limited by our circumstances, by the types of people around us, by our environment, etc. The more that we work with the little three percent of free will that we have to break that karma, to transform that karma, to work with sacrifice and conscious actions, then we get five percent free will. Then ten percent free will, and you know, exponentially the more free will you have, suddenly you have a lot more control over your situation.
 
We see people in the world who have way more freedom than many of us. We also see people in this world who have very difficult situations. You know, to have mental illness, for example, is a type of karma. It is a structure that conditions your ability to act and feel, and you know, there are medications and things we can do that can help, but the very conditioning of our psychology is a part of our matter, a part of our experience of life, and is formed by previous actions and karma.
 
Another Instructor: I would also say that the more we awaken our consciousness, physically and in the internal planes, the more prepared for death we are. In Buddhism, they teach to prepare for death by meditating daily on that inevitability, and by becoming more conscious and working on our traumas, those negative states of anger or pride, the more we will remember and be awake. Because for most people, especially in the West, who have never had any type of training, they don't remember where they came from―their past lives. So, as we were talking about the theory, or what people think is a theory, is not a theory for people who can experience that for themselves. The more we awaken, as we were saying, and the more freedom of perception, and then if we take another body, we will remember where we came from or the level of work we obtained, and in that way we have more opportunities to continue to go deeper and to resolve those traumas that trap us. 
 
Instructor: The capacities of our consciousness are practically infinite, but we are not aware of that because we utilize the consciousness so very little, as compared to our intellect, or our physical body.
 
Question: There are so many versions of meditation and different physical ways of experiencing meditation or practicing meditation. Would you say that they are all innately trying to achieve the same thing or are they based on different types of practices that you do or trying to awaken a certain level of consciousness or area?
 
Instructor: That is a good question. Do all different forms and techniques of meditation produce the same results, or strive for the same results? No. I do believe that there are a variety of genuine meditation techniques that can, regardless of which one you work with, if you work with a diligently enough, it can help you along the way to achieve the awakening of consciousness, but much of that is determined upon your own conscious effort.
 
Even if you use the genuine meditation technique from a given tradition, that has helped lots of people to awaken, to become enlightened, if you are not active in consciousness, it is not going to work for you.
 
As the internet proliferates all kinds of things, there are some meditation techniques which could be harmful from a psychological perspective. Meditation techniques that say, “Okay, go and fantasize about your ideal life and really invest in that,” is not going to awaken your consciousness, but it is going to further hypnotize your consciousness, and could even inhibit your ability to see reality, or make you more dissatisfied with reality. We should be careful.
 
Also, different techniques produce different effects. So when I talked about pranayamas as an example, we have a variety of different pranayama techniques from different traditions. Many of which are genuine pranayama techniques, and each of which would achieve this transmutation of sexual energy, but also with slight variations. I believe that meditation is much the same way, you know. When I work with different mantras or different meditation techniques, I can achieve different results, but all of which if they are a good technique, awaken my consciousness. But perhaps one awakens my consciousness so that I am more aware of my heart and activate my heart and feel more compassion, whereas another awakens my consciousness and helps me to astral project. Or, another awakens, you know my ability to try to perceive a past life.
 
So we have hundreds or thousands of techniques in our tradition that you know, many of which also come from other traditions, religions around the world, all in the books. So, we are happy to refer you to books that have those practices if it's helpful.
 
Another Instructor: Another point too is that, as we are mentioning, in Buddhism, there are three schools, and every religion has its systems.  In Buddhism, Shravakayana, the introductory level; Mahayana, the greater vehicle; and the most expedient Tantrayana.
 
So meditation, as taught within the introductory levels, are geared with a specific focus. They teach the beginning practitioner how to concentrate, work with ethics, upright action, upright thoughts, and feelings and deeds so that the mind becomes stable. If you think of the mind like a lake, if we keep throwing stones, negative thinking, impressions into the lake, it is going to be churning, unstable.
 
From that point of view, we can't address any trauma, because in order to see clearly, your mind has to be perfectly still. So in the introductory levels of Buddhism or any tradition, we teach ethics, karma, serenity. To develop a serene mind, the meditative practices of that tradition, or any introductory level, will teach you how to develop stability. As it was explained in the lecture, we have to balance our three brains and a brain in esoterism has to do with any type of machine that processes matter, energy, and consciousness.
 
Our intellect is not just the only brain, because we have many forms of intelligence in the heart and in sex. In fact our entire physiology is a marvelous machine that can transform energy, but if we don't use or balance those centers through ethics, upright thought, feeling, action,  we can't really enter a state of meditation. We need to really go to the heart of our problems.
 
Once we have that type of serenity developed, then you can start to develop more compassion for others, because you see that other people, who don't have that training, are in tremendous suffering and affliction. That is the Mahayana level, the middle ground, the greater vehicle, and the meditations taught in that tradition are more profound and demand a type of diligence and foundation.
 
So in all the meditations, they lead towards the highest stages, in which we are meditating not just for ourselves, but for humanity. That is when we can do practices like Tantra, or as we say in this tradition, the perfect matrimony: to utilize energy in the highest way, to transform not only yourself, but others, and that is what we are leaning towards.
 
It is important that when we approached meditation, we, in our tradition, have many practices. Work with where we are at and, in most case,s we have to start at the very bottom. Because if you sit to reflect on your mind, you can see that it is difficult to concentrate, or we have no serenity in the beginning. So in our school, we teach all three levels of Buddhism at once, because students are at different levels and have different needs. If you look at other traditions, you may find some schools will only focus on the basics. Some very high, but the problem becomes not having a practical foundation in the steps, because they help to build off one another. 
 
Instructor: A great explanation, because everybody wants to jump right to Tantra, and right to the most advanced practices, like “Oh, I want to get out of my body and speak to the Lord of Karma, Anubis or whatever the case may be,” but if we don't have the ability to relax physically, emotionally, and mentally, to separate our consciousness from it, to awaken our consciousness from those three brains, and to have concentration, to maintain our attention and our awareness on the object of our meditation, then we're not able to even work with those more advanced techniques. We are going to try them, and they are not going to work, or if they do work by chance, it could end up being a harmful situation.
 
So really establishing ourselves in the basics allows us to then gradually work our way up to those more advanced practices. Like the example I gave about going deeper and deeper and deeper in meditation, and finally into, you know, a past life experience―that was built on months and years of really working with meditation and basics, working with concentration and relaxation. If you stay for the optional meditation after this lecture, you will be able to try out a basic technique with us in which we're going to meditate exactly on balancing those three brains and working with relaxation and concentration.
 
Another Instructor: Maybe to finish on how the magic of the roses work, because I know especially in North America and the West, when we hear of magic, we think of right circus tricks, or all sorts of people who perform illusions. But how do roses or the magic, the soul of the plant, go with the practice?
With that practice, in our tradition, we use a lot of exercises that work with nature. Magic, in its true sense, is how we as a consciousness can communicate with divinity and interact with the soul of nature. All the vegetable kingdom, the mineral kingdom, the animal kingdom, has this type of soul, in different gradations of complexity. So, minerals are obviously very simple. Plants more involved. They process and channel energy in nature. Animals, of course, are more developed. They are collectively developing a type of will, which is different than plants, until finally we have humanoids, or the intellectual animal. The human being, the soul, anima, with intellect.
 
We work with plants primarily because the souls of those types of creatures have power. We learn to work and communicate to command the souls of plants to help, because every plant and nature has its type of properties, which can heal. It can perform medicine. We know this very extensively from indigenous cultures, which still retain a type of wisdom that our modern orthodoxy and medicine does not support.
 
The rose is a very elevated plant. It is the queen of flowers. If you know astrology, each plant relates to different planets, because each plant channels the forces of the cosmos. It transmits. So, as you see that the human being is a machine that transmits forces, likewise, minerals, plants, animals. That is why you have such diversity in nature, because each living entity channels force.
 
It is interesting that the rose is especially powerful for healing the heart. Even conventionally, we may give roses to our loved ones in order to show love, especially, romantic love, because the rose, we know instinctually, has a marvelous presence. Even within the internal planes, the soul of that plant is very elevated. We can command the soul of the rose to work with the divided hierarchies of the angels, related to the planet Venus, the star of love, to invoke that intelligence, bring it to our home and deposit medicine within the glasses.

​So you notice that you have a glass facing the East; you drink this before breakfast; the glass towards the North, before lunch; then the glass towards the West, before dinner. That sequence parallels the trajectory of the Sun, and we know that Venus is the star of the dawn. It channels the forces of the divinity we call Christ, which is a force, particularized in any person who is prepared.

 
So, you pray to your inner Being, “My God, my Divine Mother, command the elemental of the rose to work and deposit healing within these glasses,” by invoking the angels of that force, that bring the particular influence of love, so that we can heal trauma―to at least gain stability to the point that we can meditate further. And you drink in that sequence. Very simple. Healing is very simple. Prayer, relaxation, concentration, faith. Not belief.
 
We have experiences we know, if you awaken in the dream state, you can personally converse with the elementals of nature. Personally, I have been in the habit over the years to meditate on certain elementals, the plants that I have in my home, in which I have been able to communicate with those entities, those beings who are still in Eden. They are innocent. They haven't entered into all the complex problems that we have in the humanoid kingdom through the process of evolution. So they are very simple. They are like angels, but in a very small degree.
 
You can pray and with faith, you have the experience. You know that these elements exist and that the rose can heal pain. Personally, I have used the roses when I have had traumas, in certain betrayals and conflicts that I could not reconcile, and by working with the glasses, you drink, over a sequence of a few days. When the roses wither, you can remove them. Then your pain is alleviated, at least at the surface, to the point that we have enough stability where we can meditate and then look at the problem, because in the moment when we are afflicted, we can't think. You can't concentrate.
 
Those elementals or souls of nature are very powerful. They work and obey divinity. The rose is, of course, held in very high regard in certain traditions, such as the Rosicrucians, the first Gnostics, the Rosicrucian Gnostic Church. The rose is a symbol of the transformation of the soul into the beauty of God. Of course, the rose is very effective for that. You can work with it however much you need.

​It’s simple. Pray, relax, and concentrate. You drink it like medicine. The good thing is that there are no side effects. Of course, some people in this day and age have traumas and illnesses in the mind, of the heart, that, because that karma is crystallized in the body, some people need to take a drug to be able to find balance. But the wonderful property of this practice is that there are no side effects. Water. Roses. Magic.  Because those substances that divinity places are not physical. They are etheric, astral, mental, spiritual, internal.

 
In conjunction with whatever people may have to do to find balance, whether it be medication and therapy, the roses are exceptional. Simple, but profound. That ritual is as effective as your prayer. Prayer is something simple. You don't need formulas when you talk to your inner divinity. You say, “My Father, my God, help me!” Use your words and just ask for that healing and experiment. That practice is of course effective when we are working in transmutation. Work with your creative energy, because your prayer will be empowered when you use that force, and that way it opens the doorway into the internal planes. 
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<![CDATA[Practical Methods for Inner Balance]]>Sat, 19 Jun 2021 05:00:00 GMThttp://chicagognosis.org/lectures/practical-methods-for-inner-balance
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Throughout our experience of teaching Gnosis, we have had the privilege to correspond with many Gnostic students, some of whom have and continue to suffer from very debilitating mental illnesses. While it has been sad to hear so many personal stories of mental deterioration, suffering, and decline, we have witnessed many miraculous and joyful victories, all due to the courage and efforts of students. Rather than giving in to disease, many aspirants have decided to face the burden of stigma, confronting their own crippling, inner demons with nobility and heroism.
 
This course has been inspired by such conversations, instructions, and testimonies. For those who may suffer from mental illness or if you know someone with a diagnosis, we hope that you can apply these techniques for the comprehension and alleviation of suffering. Such exercises in our tradition can be very useful, complementary with the advice of mental health professionals.
 
Psychology is a very deep topic, a very deep science that has profound roots within diverse spiritual traditions and the ancient mystery schools of all continents, all cultures, and all religions. Basically, ψυχή psyche in Greek signifies the consciousness or soul, which strives for union with divinity, the λόγος logos. This is a Greek term denominating the sacred word, divinity, or beingness. Genuine psychology is very concerned with the relationship of the consciousness with divinity. It is not the mere study of intellectual or mental processes but of the entire constitution of the human being.
 
But sadly, due to materialistic skepticism, science has often rejected the transformative possibilities of religion and spirituality. There is much to learn from the psychological teachings of yoga, Buddhism, meditation, Kabbalah, Sufism, Rosicrucianism, and Gnosis. These can complement the work of modern psychological professionals. Understanding a person’s spiritual orientation, their background, their identity, is promising for treatments. Spirituality can help professionals assess the psychological and spiritual roots of a given problem.
 
Not too long ago, spirituality was considered “woo-woo” for approaching mental health concerns. However, there are more people now who are beginning to realize that merely addressing the physical needs of a person and not their heart is insufficient. In fact, many understand that it is very narrow minded. Many argue against integrating spirituality within mental health practice. Some want to maintain consistent parametersunderstandably sofor applying spirituality to mental health concerns. These are often difficult to determine with current criteria, when spirituality deals with realities beyond material existence.
 
However, the problem is not that spirituality or religion is superstitious, but that its discipline requires a new type of training with which psychological professionals are not typically trained in. Now the desire for facts should not be exclusively limited to mere material means, since human beings operate within multiple spheres of experience, beyond just the body. This is verifiable through the practices of the Gnostic tradition.
 
In this lecture, we will demonstrate how lasting psychological change arrives through practical spirituality. Through consciously applying proven methods for mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual wellbeing, individuals suffering from imbalances can realize a conscious state of inner equilibrium. We will offer some basic suggestions for learning how to initiate such a psychological work, one that can aid individuals suffering from mental illness who are working with qualified mental health professionals.
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​The Divide Between Psychology and Religion

​Unfortunately, there have existed tensions, animosity, and even outright suspicion between modern psychology and religion. The seemingly irreconcilable differences between science and faith, and the efforts of psychology to distinguish its self as a science and not an art, have led to many mental health professionals divorcing their practice from spirituality. Sigmund Freud, a devout atheist, declared in The Future of an Illusion that:
“Religion is comparable to a childhood neurosis,” a “defense against childish helplessness” whose “infantilism is destined to be surmounted.” Sigmund Freud, The Future of an Illusion
He viewed religion as an escape from the reality of suffering, psychosis and its causes, rather than as a means for recovery. He also believed that science possesses the keys to treat individuals with mental illness.
 
Now there are many commonly held stereotypes regarding mental health and religion, that religion is repressive, reductive, dogmatic, or even irrational. However, there exists a large body of research demonstrating the positive role of religion in recovery from serious psychological disorders. There are also abundant empirical studies that show how religious communities are often the first places that people go when people are confronted with a serious illness.
 
Why is this the case?
 
Religion can offer optimistic world-views. They can provide ethical behaviors that promote a balanced lifestyle. Many benefits of a religious life include the restriction or prohibition of smoking, drinking, substance use, suicidality, crime, and sexual promiscuity. Likewise, religion and spirituality can provide comfort for those suffering from mental illness, in that communal and emotional support can help all people, regardless of whether or not they are ill.
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​Religious and Spiritual Psychopathology

​However, despite the promising rise of medical research about spiritually integrated mental health treatments, there exists some problems.
 
Often times, people with mental illness adhering to a religious system have often mistaken what is known as psychopathology with spiritual or religious experience. By psychopathology we mean both the scientific study of mental disorders but also their expression within individuals. This can often take on a religious, spiritual, or mystical flavor. In the words of Dr. W. Patrick Sullivan in “Spirituality: A Road to Mental Health or Mental Illness”:
Discerning the content of delusions and distinguishing them from true spiritual experiences is not an easy task. ―Dr. W. Patrick Sullivan, Spirituality: A Road to Mental Health or Mental Illness (2009)
In the Gnostic teachings, we learn to awaken. We learn to strengthen and expand our conscious possibilities. In that process, we learn to discriminate between the falsity of our own subjective perceptions, while verifying the nature of objective testimony. By questioning what we experience, we can arrive at a deeper understanding of reality and our relationship to it.
 
This is why Samael Aun Weor wrote the following in The Perfect Matrimony:
We disseminate spiritual intellectual culture, decency, refinement, logical analysis, conceptual synthesis, academic culture, higher mathematics, philosophy, science, art, religion, etc.  Therefore, in no way whatsoever are we willing to continue to accept the gossip of hallucinating people nor the madness of dreamers. ―Samael Aun Weor, The Perfect Matrimony
​The questions become:
 
Do such spiritual experiences impair one’s functioning, or do these insights empower an individual’s capacity to excel, to continuously improve in all aspects of life?
 
Are individuals cultivating a rich understanding of religious and spiritual traditions?
 
Are they effectively applying practical techniques for comprehending and removing the causes of suffering?
 
Or on a very simple level: are they decent, respectable, and respectful people?
 
Individuals who have been diagnosed with a mental illness or who proclaim to be enlightened need to seriously examine their level of being and quality of their states, since if their perceptions are causing their personal, occupational, and social life to deteriorate, then they must come to terms with the fact that they have a problem.
 
However, we will say, just because an individual’s psychosis resembles spiritual elements, such as paranoid delusions of religious persecution or communicating with angels, this does not guarantee that all reported incidents of spiritual experiences are delusions. Individuals suffering from mental disorders must distinguish the reality of religion and a delusion.
 
Even if we are relatively sound in our mental and emotional wellbeing, average persons all have delusions about mundane things too. Even an atheist can have delusions about reality and not religion, whereby their psychosis matches their cultural, secular upbringing. Religion does not cause delusions. Delusions occur spontaneously and they take on the form of one’s idiosyncrasies, including one’s religion or culture.
 
So as you can see, there are a lot of nuances to this issue that require a lot of analysis, a lot of comprehension, and especially a lot of meditation, because while the mentally ill must be exceptionally critical with their delusions, with their perceptions, with their attitudes, this should not discount the possibility of true divine communion.
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​Culture and Diagnoses

​Despite the prevalence of spiritual experience throughout religions and cultures, many skeptics conflate genuine mystical perceptions as symptoms of mental illness. However, to quote Dr. W. Patrick Sullivan:
First and foremost, what is considered delusional thought and belief is heavily influenced by culture. ―Dr. W. Patrick Sullivan, Spirituality: A Road to Mental Health or Mental Illness (2009)
​This is very important. Culture has to be considered within mental illness diagnoses. For example, in some societies ghosts are an accepted part of their belief systems. For others, it is talking with angels. Therefore, clinicians will often compare individuals to the rest of their cultural group when they want to determine a diagnosis. Each case must be examined within the context of a patient's cultural norms, to understand what the norm is and is not. That is how you can better diagnose what is going on. It is a frame of reference. It is a starting point.
 
For many of us, materialism dominates the Western psyche to the point that it rejects the mere possibility of any experiential verification of spiritual truths. However, while our modern culture goes to the extreme of materialistic skepticism, the Gnostic tradition suggests that we should also not go to the other end of the pendulum, swinging between extremes by believing everything we perceive. This is especially the case for individuals who suffer from some type of mental illness. 
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​Mental Health and Faith

​So, what is the solution? How can patients benefit from the modern mental health system without divorcing themselves from guiding principles, from ethics, from conscious spirituality?
 
In Gnosis, we seek to find balance, the synthesis of oppositions, so that we can enrich our quality of life. Samael Aun Weor mentioned something very interesting in The Revolution of the Dialectic. He stated: 
Mental health is not possible if conscious faith does not exist. ―Samael Aun Weor, The Revolution of the Dialectic
As evidenced by this quote, we have a very different psychological and spiritual orientation within the Gnostic teachings. Rather than merely adopt a concept to believe in, an ideology, a theory, a belief, we prefer to investigate the truths contained within religion. We seek to experience what divinity really is. In this, we leave beliefs aside. The main method is meditation, where we can learn to access the direct experience of the truths contained within all traditions.
 
Direct experience of the truth, of reality, of divinity, is the best medicine. People who suffer from mental illness are afflicted by many negative emotions, disordered thoughts, agitation, dis-ease, dissatisfaction, uncertainty. Genuine spiritual experiences provide optimal mental health. They ground one in a stable state. These experiences are qualified by their very distinct psychological and spiritual flavor. We call them states of compassion, altruism, spontaneous joy, freedom of mind, heart, body; patience, diligence, perseverance, resilience, the endurance of hardships with the utmost ethical character. There are many virtues cited throughout religious traditions. They all point toward a balanced state of mind. This is predicated upon faith, having an awakened consciousness, a serene, intensified awareness and directed attention that is unwavering, that is clear, that is spontaneous, that is joyful. That is our true nature, and those who suffer from any type of disorder are disconnected from that, with varying levels of intensity.
 
So faith, the experience of these principles, is something we can verify for ourselves whether or not one has a mental illness. But in the context of mental health, this is especially important. It is a fulcrum for convalescence, for healing.
 
We have to state that in reality, genuine spiritual experiences inspire order. They provide cohesion in life. They demonstrate a profound integrity, a motivated purpose within a chaotic physical and internal world.
 
Delusions on the other hand produce pain. Very simple. They are the origin of confusion, despair, disenfranchisement, alienation, suffering, and especially the corrosion of one’s relationships, whether personal or professional.
 
Now, individuals who suffer from forms of mental illness may be convinced that their perceptions are real. However, we have to ask about the quality of their daily state because that is the best measurement, the most sure evidence.

​Psychological Equilibrium

Let us elaborate on this.
 
Can these people keep a job? Can they relate to others? Are they a decent parent? Are they a good sibling, child, or spouse?
 
Jesus said, “By their fruits you will know them.” If individuals act on delusional states of mind expecting the best while convinced that they are infallible, their life will reflect the consequences. This is why in our tradition we rely on the tremendous, inescapable, and incontrovertible facts. For students who have suffered from mental illness, we always emphasize, “Examine yourself. Study your behaviors. Look at the results of your actions. Where have your ideas, your knowledge, and your beliefs taken you? Do you have greater stability in your psychological states? Is there greater harmony in your relationships? Is your financial situation in order? Your occupation? Your daily life?” Unfortunately, the proclivity of most people is precisely imbalance.
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​To understand genuine psychological equilibrium, it is important to study the three brains of our human machine. In esoteric studies, a brain constitutes a physiological and psychological transformer of energy.
 
We have an intellectual brain in our cranium that processes the energy of thought.
 
We have an emotional brain in our heart that processes the energy of feeling.
 
We also have a motor-instinctual-sexual brain in our spine, which processes the energy of action.
 
While these are physical machines in our body, they are also vehicles through which our consciousness operates and is modified. If we are honest, we can see that our modern culture and way of life is very imbalanced. Many occupations exclusively require engagement with the intellect at the expense of the other brains. We overuse the intellectual brain and its energies to indulge in our bad habits: too much intellectualizing, reading, reasoning, theorizing, analyzing. Our education system is also heavily focused on the knowledge of the mind, rather than the qualities of the heart.
 
A typical person also abuses the emotional brain through negative emotions like anger, through resentment, pride, and fear. We also saturate our heart with negative emotions when we argue, when we fight, when we ruminate. These types of behaviors drastically deplete our emotional brain of energy.
 
Lastly, we have the motor-instinctual-sexual brain where we process movement. It is where we have impulse, desire, instinct. This brain is also greatly abused today in the modern world, whereby we put too much strain on the body either through excessive exercises or violent sports, and most importantly the abuse of sex. Sexual behavior has the most long lasting and serious consequences. Everybody knows this, but sadly people ignore how sexual misconduct is the primary cause of imbalance. People who constantly pursue and consummate sexual relationships are never satisfied. They are never happy. After one partner to the next, they go through the ups and downs of relationships, always trying to satisfy their appetites for more, for more pleasant sensations. This is like throwing fuel into a fire. Desire will never be satisfied, no matter how intense, and once it gets what it wants, it wants more. This is a tremendous disequilibrium.
 
This is why in our Gnostic studies, regardless of our suffering from a mental, emotional, or physical state, or those who are suffering from a form of illness relating to the three brains, we always seek to conserve our energies, since without fuel in the three brains, the consciousness cannot operate optimally. Psychological, emotional, and creative energy are necessary if you want to drive your car. If you want to drive your spiritual destination, you need to use your three brains in balance, with conscious awareness, with ethics, so that you do not get hurt. You do not hurt yourself. You drive safely on the road. This is why Samael Aun Weor wrote in The Perfect Matrimony:
Perfect mental equilibrium is of vital importance for those who want spiritual progress. Almost all the aspirants of esotericism easily lose their mental equilibrium and usually fall into the most absurd things. Whosoever yearns for direct knowledge must ensure that their minds are in perfect equilibrium. ―Samael Aun Weor, The Perfect Matrimony
The reason that people get sick, whether mentally, emotionally, or physically, is due to the abuse of the three brains. What happens to an engine the runs out of fuel? It stops working properly. Or you give it the wrong fuel. You put rocket fuel into a car. We do this all the time with our diet, with our habits, with our addictions. When an engine runs out of fuel, it does not operate. It is the same with our psychology and our body.
 
If you want examples of this, people who exhaust their mental energy become delusional. They become paranoid, schizophrenic, insane. Those who waste their emotional energies become depressed. They become manic or bi-polar. Likewise with the motor-instinctive-sexual brain, by wasting our vitality we become paraplegic, paralyzed, a host for sexually transmitted diseases.
 
Therefore, to avoid getting sick students must learn to conserve their energy, to do it wisely, so that the consciousness can awaken to its true state.
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​The Reality of Gnosis

​But sadly, many skeptics conflate mystical states with madness. They equate it with delusions, hallucinations, and disequilibrium because in their materialistic worldview it is impossible to experience divinity, to know reality, the truth. Such a possibility is just not afforded within their worldview. Also there have been many people who approach the Gnostic teachings with incredible psychological imbalances, who later blame Gnosis for making them sick. It is strange, and it is sad, because they ignore how their own actions have exacerbated an underlying condition.
 
The truth is that all of humanity is imbalanced and sick. It is a disease to be afflicted with pride, to be motivated and driven by anger, to be enmeshed and saturated by laziness, to be addicted to lust, and many defects that our society venerates and worships. People need instruction regarding how to identify, how to comprehend, and how to remove psychological conditions. Actually, the people who are the most sick deserve the most attention, for as Jesus stated in the book of Matthew: 
They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick… for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. ―Matthew 9:12-13
Also, the reality is that no one ever enters the Gnostic teachings from a state of balance. It does not happen that way. Therefore, it is not unusual that many who attempt Gnostic practices discover just how sick they really are, because Gnosis is mirror. It shows you who you really are. It forces you to confront your real level of being, your condition, your state. It is factual. If you are not ready to confront the reality of yourself, then you might obviously want to run away and even blame the mirror for how ugly it is. This is how most people approach genuine spirituality. Whether or not they are diagnosed with a severe condition, everyone is imbalanced to a degree, but obviously people who are diagnosed by professionals obviously have a more intensified version of a common problem.
 
Despite how priceless this gift is, many people blame Gnosis for the fact that they finally recognize their underlying psychology. It is very disturbing, so they leave and choose to follow a life path that involves a greater and accelerated deterioration and devolution.
 
Now while having a mental illness is a serious obstacle, it can be overcome with proper tools and techniques when combined with professional help. 

​The Requisite

​It is truly rare to find healthy, balanced, and integrated people. It is also very difficult to find Gnostics who are living up to the ideals of this tradition. It is very challenging, precisely because it is very demanding, very rigorous. Authentic spirituality is difficult, because it requires that we renounce all of our bad habits. It is difficult to practice because, for many, they lack a basic foundation, which is being a proactive, a humble, a decent individual.
 
There is a very common trend within spiritual groups where people proclaim great advancements or enlightened states, and yet their etiquette, common, social graces are lacking. While many people aspire towards the heights of mystical consciousness and the greatest methods for spiritual transformation, a lot of people fail to master and perfect the basics. A house cannot stand on faulty foundations.
 
This is why Samael Aun Weor stated the following:
The crude reality of facts demonstrates to us that many are those who have not comprehended the transcendence of the Gnostic esoteric work, and that great majorities are not good heads of households.
 
When one is not a good head of household, it is clear that one is not prepared to enter onto the path of the razor’s edge. In order to work on the revolution of the dialectic, one needs to have reached the level of being of a good head of household.
 
A fanatic, lunatic, whimsical type of person, etc., cannot be good for an integral revolution. A subject who does not fulfill the duties of his home cannot achieve the great change. A person who is a bad father, a bad wife, a bad husband, or a person who abandons his home for whichever man or woman, will never be able to arrive at a radical transformation.
 
The cornerstone of revolutionary psychology requires that one has a perfect equilibrium at home by being a good spouse, a good parent, a good sibling, and a good child. One must have perfect completion of his duties that exist with this suffering humanity. One must convert himself into a decent person.
 
Whoever does not fulfill these requirements will never be able to advance in these revolutionary studies. ―Samael Aun Weor, The Revolution of the Dialectic
While many Gnostics might not suffer from mental illness, there are others who are sick with fanaticism, who are diseased by envy, who are consumed by spiritual pride, and petrified within dogmatism. So long as they are attached to the concept that they are the only authentic spiritual group or that they are enlightened, that they have done it and that no work is left for them, they will not advance. They will not develop.
 
Likewise, persons who are whimsical―you have got to love this word here―who open their sail to any wind, who just allow themselves to be moved by any impulse, they likewise demonstrate their disequilibrium. They are not stable. Now the thing is that we should be careful not to go to the other extreme, just repressing whatever psychological elements arrive or whatever one fears.
 
This is why we meditate. Through developing a clear, serene, and unwavering observation of our psychological states, meditators gain essential knowledge of their internal conditions, so that through deep comprehension, very painful and traumatic states of mind can be transformed. They can be healed.
 
People who are really sick can be radically healed with meditation. Obviously, working with professionals, with whatever particular condition that they might have been diagnosed with, meditation is a beautiful complement, a wonderful training, because it is through this exercise that people gain enough control of their mind. Their mind does not push them around. 
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Also, with enough training, one can be like Jesus here in this image. He is praying before his Passion, his Crucifixion, his martyrdom, and obviously someone with that level of discipline could remain calm and serene even while being crucified. This means that for individuals who suffer from a condition or merely have a lot of problems and suffer a lot and want to have inner balance, one can learn how to endure difficult situations, how to face the triggers of life, whereby stimuli no longer provoke a negative reaction. This is the goal, to respond with equanimity in the face of hardship.
 
You cannot necessarily change the situation outside of yourself, but with training your mind, you can endure the negative reactions that inevitably emerge as a response to those ordeals. One can learn to respond with perfect equanimity in the face of hardships that really seemed in the past insurmountable. This is how internal conflicts can be resolved.
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​The World of Relations

Researchers have recently studied a concept known as religious struggles, whereby an individual experience conflict relating to spirituality. These exist along three levels:
 
  • Intrapsychic: within oneself
  • Interpersonal: between others
  • Divine: between oneself and a higher power
 
For some people suffering from mental illness, religion and spirituality can become an intrinsic source of radical change. It can become a means of developing more personal, fulfilling relationships with others. It can also help one to integrate socially within larger communities. This can help foster a really deep and lasting sense of self-worth, but also an ethical orientation towards a higher purpose.
 
However, for others, religious thinking can exacerbate psychosis, such in the case of severe depression whereby a person can blame God for their suffering, their disappointments, their failures, their disillusionment. What these conflicts reveal about a person is a lack of connection with the Innermost Being, our divinity, who is perfect serenity. The Being, your true identity, is perfect happiness. It is a state of plentitude, in which there is no deficiency or lack. It is joy. It is compassion. It is altruism. Divinity is not the source of conflict. A lot of people like to blame God for their problems, ignoring their own agency and the fact that every action has a consequence.
 
A real spiritual person takes responsibility for their mistakes and does not shy away from the facts. It is a very brutal, difficult thing to do, to be honest with oneself, especially when other people show us our errors. However, by learning to face these adversities, these interrelations in life, by observing oneself, by becoming aware of our conditions of mind, one can access the genuine, divine root of our consciousness, a true state of joy.
 
The Being, divinity, is not tyrannical. The Being does not afflict anyone. What happens is that individuals with perhaps a mental illness, they distort and utilize metaphysical concepts, ideas and thoughts to qualify subjective experiences. A sick mind skews reality. It does not perceive the facts. It is sees things in a way that is personal to the individual, and is seeing connections and relationships there, and causes that are not really, fully observed and understood.
 
Now, regardless of having a condition or not, this is very difficult for people to do. However, it is possible through consciously applying effective methods. We talk a lot in our studies about the practice of self-observation. We will build off this idea throughout this course, but also if you go onto our website, especially Beginning Self-Transformation, you can learn about this technique in more detail. It is very extensive. I highly recommend you study and practice self-observation, for those who are not familiar.
 
Now, Samael Aun Weor provided some insights about this dynamic that I am talking about in his book Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology, and there are some connections and correlations between what modern mental health professionals are calling religious struggles in relation to different types of connections that we can have, with ourselves, with the body, and with humanity. I would like to read this chapter for you at length. It is from Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology.
The world of relationships has three very different aspects that we need to clarify in a precise manner.
 
First: We are related with the planetary body, in other words, the physical body.
 
Second: We live on the planet Earth and by logical consequence we are related with the exterior world and with our personal matters such as relatives, business, money, office matters, profession, politics, etc.
 
Third: We have the relationship of a person with himself. For the majority of people, this kind of relationship does not have the least importance.
 
Unfortunately, people are only interested in the first two kinds of relationships. They look at the third type with the most absolute indifference.
 
Indeed, nourishment, health, money and business constitute the principal worries of the “intellectual animal” mistakenly called the “human being.”
 
Now then, it is evident that the physical body, as well as worldly matters, are exterior to ourselves.
 
The planetary body (physical body) is sometimes sick, sometimes healthy and so on.
 
We always believe that we have some knowledge of our physical body; yet indeed, not even the best scientists of the world know much about the body of flesh and bone.
 
There is no doubt that the physical body, given its tremendous and complex organization, is certainly much beyond our comprehension.
 
Regarding the second type of relationship, we are always victims of circumstances. It is lamentable that we have not yet learned how to consciously originate circumstances.
 
Many are the people who are incapable of adapting themselves to anything or anyone or to have true success in life.
 
When we think in ourselves in relation with the Gnostic Esoteric Work, it is then imperative to discover if we are at fault with any of these three types of relationships.
 
A concrete case can come to pass that we become physically ill, as a consequence of being incorrectly related with our physical bodies.
 
It can happen that we are incorrectly related with the exterior world. Thus, as a result, we have conflicts, economical and social problems, etc.
 
It can come to pass that we are incorrectly related with ourselves. Accordingly, we suffer deeply due to the lack of inner enlightenment.
 
Obviously, if the lamp of our room is not connected to the electrical installation, our room will be in darkness.
 
Therefore, those who suffer from a lack of inner illumination must connect their mind with the superior centers of their Being.
 
Unquestionably, we need to establish correct relationships not only with our planetary body (physical body) and with the exterior world but also with each of the parts of our own Being.
 
Pessimistic patients, tired of so many doctors and medicines, no longer desire to be cured. Yet, optimistic patients struggle to live.
 
Many millionaires who lose their fortune gambling in the casino of Monte Carlo commit suicide, while millions of poor mothers work to maintain their children.
 
Innumerable are the depressed aspirants who, due to a lack of psychic powers and inner illumination, have renounced the Esoteric Work for themselves.
 
Few are the ones who know how to take advantage of adversities.
 
During times of rigorous temptations, discouragement and desolation, one must appeal to the intimate Remembering of the Self.
 
Deep within each one of us is the Aztec Tonantzin, Stella Maris, the Egyptian Isis, God the Mother, waiting for us in order to heal our painful heart.
 
When one gives to oneself the shock of “Self-remembering,” then indeed, a miraculous change in the entire work of the body is produced, so that the cells receive a different nourishment. ―Samael Aun Weor, Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology. “The World of Relations”
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Expanded Psychotherapy

​Medical science has dedicated itself to treating the material symptoms of any condition. However, without exploring the internal, psychological reality of a given person, it is impossible to address and cure the root causes of different symptoms.
 
Studying the brain has provided many valuable insights into the material expression of mental illness. However, the brain is not the mind. It is a vehicle of the mind. In the same manner that a person can drive a car and eventually leave it, the same with consciousness in the human body. If you are interested more in that topic, you can study our course Dream Yoga and Astral Travel, especially.
 
This is why we study Kabbalah, the Tree of Life. It is a map of consciousness in varying levels. While it is considered a distinctly Jewish phenomenon, Kabbalah is represented throughout all religions, although in different forms. All traditions share the same principles that are specifically illustrated here. While this glyph might appear complicated, in truth it is rather simple. It represents everything that you are from the most divine, abstract, refined, subtle, and liberated spheres above to the most selfish, conditioned, condensed, and material below.
 
It is not our intention to explain the various nuances of each sphere represented here. Instead, we are introducing this graphic to emphasize an essential point. Mental illness must be considered in light of a person’s entire constitution, including the material, the psychological, and the spiritual. This is why Samael Aun Weor wrote in his book Sexology: The Basis of Endocrinology and Criminology:
It is impossible to know the fundamental cause of any mental disequilibrium without expanding psychiatry with Theosophy, Rosicrucianism, Hermeticism, yogic philosophy, and high Gnostic esotericism. This is how expanded psychiatry can discover and cure the alienated. […]
 
We need psychotherapy. It is necessary to study the syndromes or psychic sicknesses. The criminological diagnostics must be based on expanded psychiatry. It Is necessary to analyze the mental alterations of ourselves based on Theosophy. It is urgent to know the mental body. It is necessary to expand forensic psychiatry. It is necessary to study, in a didactic way, psychobiology and psychopathology. ―Samael Aun Weor, Sexology: The Basis of Endocrinology and Criminology
​So in synthesis, Kabbalah describes precisely all of that. Kabbalah describes the levels of the mind and all of its various manifestations, its depths, its intricacies, its functions. So rather than merely just treat the outward, corporeal form of a person, their body, psychological professionals can learn to intuit the internal causes of illness.
 
All illnesses emerge from an internal cause. While there is a biological and chemical component in our physical brain, our emotional brain, our motor-instinctive-sexual brain, the truth is that people who suffer from illnesses do so because there is something much more deep than just a physical cause. The Tree of Life explains this. Illnesses originate from actions that we are not even able to begin to apprehend or understand with just our physical senses. Instead, it requires psychological investigation. This is why we practice meditation.
 
Many diseases originate from these internal causes, and by learning to suspend our senses, relax, introspect, go within, we can learn to apprehend the real nature of a particular problem, the origin of a condition, of a trauma, of a disequilibrium within our body, within oneself. This technique applies to people who are patients but also any practitioner of Gnosis who wants to understand more about their internal sufferings.
 
So, these diseases manifest in the body, but they come from within, much in the same way that a creature can disturb the waters of a pond from its depths. We do not see the origin, yet we can recognize the ripples on the surface. Anyone can detect the symptoms of a problem, but to really determine the spiritual cause of illness, the psychological causes of illness, is very different. It requires a lot of analysis and a lot of patient work, but it can be done. We have personally worked with people, students who have suffered from different types of disorders and, in combination with professional treatment, by applying Gnostic techniques, have been able to remedy and address their issues, gain equilibrium, balance.
 
By learning to still the waters of the lake of the mind, one can go within and see the depths for what is actually there. Now as I said, people might not see the origin of a particular phenomenon, yet one can recognize the ripples in the surface. If mental health professionals could really access the inner causes of their patients’ external behaviors, they could go a long way to help and heal a lot of people. Kabbalah is just one such tool. We will go back to this graphic later on in this course. I am just introducing it here to synthesize a few points.
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​Resources

​So through the daily discipline of meditation, practitioners can gain knowledge that is inaccessible to the senses, as I said. As aspirants, we can go deep within the mind to discover why we suffer. For an individual suffering from mental illness, meditation when combined with professional help can aid one in establishing inner balance.
 
We recommend that you study and apply the techniques provided in this course: Meditation Essentials by Glorian Publishing, because it provides very clear steps for how to cultivate a rich spiritual life. This can complement professional treatments of mental illness to help one experience happiness, vitality, health.
 
At this point in time, I would like to open the floor to questions.

Questions and Answers

Question: How do we distinguish schizophrenia symptoms and mystical experience? Is it only evidence and proof or something else?
 
Instructor: Meditation is required and a lot of self-criticism. Individuals who suffer from schizophrenia often attribute meaning to situations or circumstances that are subjective. They are personal to the individual. They are not objectively there. For example, a group of people could be having a conversation at another table at a restaurant, and a schizophrenic person would think that their conversation is about him. That is an example of paranoid schizophrenia. Now, any type of perception in oneself has to be judiciously analyzed within meditation. It is not enough merely to just go with the flow. Perhaps a person who suffers from this condition has these very convincing perceptions and believes in them. It is important for that person to develop a lot of prudence in what they perceive. This is advice that not only applies just to people with schizophrenia, but to anyone, because every person, due to their egotistical conditioning, possesses some type of flaw in their perception of things, a bias or prejudice.
 
Mystical experiences are very distinct from hallucinations. The problem with a schizophrenic person is that they do not discriminate what they see. They could be having these perceptions in their physical body or even in dreams that they take and mistake for reality. This is why meditators who are in this tradition develop a lot prudence, discrimination in what they see. It is not enough to just assume that what one knows or sees of a vision is authentic. It has to be proven with facts. It has to be in alignment with the highest spiritual principles, ethical conduct, discipline in oneself.
 
A person could have a dream that is authentic, in which they have a type of prophetic vision about what is going to happen later that day. Now, the dream occurs perhaps in the early morning. It is very common to have that type of experience when one is practicing Dream Yoga and Astral Travel, in which one perceives a type of insight or guidance from divinity. Now, what happens is that one has to be patient with those experiences, and to test them, to not assume that they mean one thing or another, but to let the evidence unfold of itself, and to meditate. Meditation is essential because one has to strip away all of types of obscurations, prejudices, assumptions, biases from one’s judgement. One has to suspend the senses, to abandon all type of intellectual deliberation, of thinking about the issue or the problem, wanting an experience to mean a certain thing. Instead, one has to concentrate upon and visualize that experience with patience, and empty the mind. Do not think, to relax. Comprehension unfolds when we put the mind aside. Hallucinations occur because the mind is active.
 
There is a very distinct quality to people who have schizophrenic hallucinations and genuine mystical experiences. One of the most basic is that the person’s physical life reflects the highest spiritual principles of conduct. If a person is having visions and believes that he or she has to commit an act that contradicts the religious stipulations given by the prophets, then one can be assured that such an experience is egotistical because it contradicts basic ethics, basic social etiquette, social norms, how to be a good person, how to behave in society, how to interact with others.
 
Now, what is interesting is that with a mystical experience, those reinforce and validate not only physical events in the material world, but also they inspire one to greater order, compassion, cohesion, structure, discipline, integrity in one’s thoughts, in one’s feelings, in one’s actions. By their fruits you will know them.
 
It is a very subtle thing. I cannot discuss all of the nuances to this type of problem. It is very complex and very difficult. We are going to give a lecture in the future that talks specifically about this topic, so I thank you for bringing it up now because that is going to preface into when we have the time and the opportunity to really go into all of the difficulties of this. So, hopefully this is just a cursory explanation that can hold you off in the meantime, so in future we will talk more about this. Any other questions?
 
Question: Can you consider that many factors determine mental imbalances within the human family: poor diet, incest, family karma, personal karma, as well experiences which each person has in their life, family socialization and adult experiences?
 
Instructor: Yes. There are a lot conditions and factors that come into play. All of that you mentioned here really goes together in terms of addressing a psychological reality.
 
Physical illnesses, whether in the intellectual brain, the emotional brain, or the motor-instinctive-sexual brain, all have some type of psychological cause. There are some defects or egos responsible for creating that disequilibrium. Now, the reason why people get sick in their body is because they have wasted certain energies related to their different physiological and psychological centers, the three brains. This has to do with karma. People, for example who suffer from schizophrenia, obviously have abused their mental. They have wasted their mental energies, whether in this life or in previous lives. This is why when one experiences the onset of schizophrenia, there is a crystallization within the physical brain because the karma is so severe, depending on the person, that it crystalizes and materializes within the physicality. So there is a biological and chemical component to their imbalance. The issue comes when one has to treat that type of condition, one should obviously rely on professional assistance but also work to understand the egos that are hyper-intellectual, that are paranoid, delusional.
 
Diet can obviously affect a person’s mental health, can exacerbate problems. It is important that people who suffer from certain conditions treat their bodies well. Get good rest, good sleep. Take care of themselves, because their deficiency or lack thereof can really heighten symptoms, make a person much more prone to illness. So there are a lot of factors here.
 
Now, in relation to family karma, people who have mental illnesses or some kind of sickness obviously are born into families where that genetic condition or those genes are present. So, while there is a genetic component, people are in the families they are and receive the type of bodies they have based on previous actions and their consciousness before they are physically born.
 
There are a lot of factors here that come into play, but primarily the one I want to help us focus on is the ego. The ego is the origin of illness because it takes the energies of the consciousness and the three brains and uses it within desire, within errors. So, that is what makes people sick, and that illness crystalizes in the body in many ways.
 
It relates to the karma of a family because one is attracted to situations and people and families as a result of their internal psychology. We call this the law of attraction. As I said, people are born into families that resonate with their level of being. So if there is family who drinks a lot or are depressed, who have chronic depression, it is more likely that the children born of those households will have the same condition because obviously there is a genetic trace there. But behind the genes is the consciousness.
 
We obviously follow the trajectory of our former actions, so this is why meditation is really important for understanding why perhaps one could have a certain problem.
 
Also, karma comes into play within a person’s life. For example, a person could suffer depression because they experienced a lot of trauma growing up. Maybe they were abused in their family. Now, there are certain causes that underlie that type of situation that one has to investigate―not to accept at the mere physical level but to really consciously comprehend why that situation is unfolding, why one is suffering in that household, or has inherited a certain family, a certain lineage. It is important to reflect on that because there a lot of things that go beyond just the mere analysis of the intellect, making associations in this physical world. Instead, one has to go into the internal worlds. This is why Kabbalah is really important.
 
Question: You mentioned a practice for working through trauma. Can you please go over that once again?
 
Instructor: Yes. There are a few practices that you can do. We talk a lot about self-observation, learning to observe ourselves, to examine the qualities of one’s mind: their thoughts, feelings, and actions so that one can gather data about certain defects, flaws of character, and conditions, such as traumatic feelings or experiences that one might have faced before.
 
Meditation is really the primary method we use to comprehend deep psychological states. Now, for people who suffer from trauma, obviously, it can be very difficult to relive those experience within meditation. That is why it is a balancing act. One of the other lectures in this course talked about Trauma and Spiritual Healing. You can find it on this course, Spiritual and Mental Health. She goes into a lot detail about how to work through trauma, some practical techniques for understanding one’s traumas, and also how to remedy them with spiritual methods. They go very deep, and have very lasting and profound effects.
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<![CDATA[Strategies for Mind Training]]>Sun, 06 Jun 2021 01:00:19 GMThttp://chicagognosis.org/lectures/strategies-for-mind-training
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All religions teach the need for cultivating virtue and conquering vice. However, as we perform a holistic study of various meditative and contemplative traditions, we find that different explanations, different teachings, different principles, were taught in accordance with idiosyncrasy, the skills, the language of their practitioners and messengers, while the outward forms might seem different, particularized to a specific geography or moment in history.
 
In reality, when we examine the heart of meditation within all religions, we find that they are universal. There is a common thread. There is a synthesis regarding how to establish within oneself an alert, serene, clarified, cognitive state, that has the capacity to perceive the inner depths of a thing. All these traditions emphasize the need to develop the capacities of the consciousness, the virtues of the soul, by comprehending and removing the different psychological contaminants that afflict our daily state.
 
In our tradition, we spend a lot of time and emphasize how to practice meditation. We have received a very beautiful gift from our teacher Samael Aun Weor, whose books and writings offer a profound, practical basis by which to understand and interpret the variety of religious forms that we have been graced with. What is unique about his writings is that they specifically target the core teaching of meditation, the principles, the archetypes, the practices and blueprints by which we generate a new way of being, a virtuous state, a compassionate heart. Likewise, what is interesting is that his writings are very clear. They are very refined because they synthesize thousands of years of teaching about meditation, and so there is a lot of knowledge and wisdom contained in his books.
 
Unfortunately, for many people his writings are difficult precisely because they are given in a language that is directed to the consciousness, not the intellect. We make a very clear distinction between the mind, intellectualism, rationality, and a state of understanding, comprehension, real insight into the problems of life, which if we are honest with ourselves, we can find that our mind creates problems for us. The intellect cannot know anything beyond its domain, which is the acquisition of data: to compare and contrast information, to label concepts upon phenomena. The mind is a useful instrument when it is placed within its orbit, when it is cultivated with a real deep understanding of the virtues of the heart.
 
What is interesting about Samael Aun Weor’s writings is that they are very potent, very refined, very synthetic, as I said. He is often referred to as the Master of the Synthesis. Much in the same way that you can take 10,000 roses to produce a 5 ml bottle of rose oil―which is the size of your thumb―likewise Samael Aun Weor gave us a wonderful gift in which he extracted the essence of diverse religious forms to arrive at a very pure understanding of religion, of yoga, of spirituality, of meditation. Unfortunately, for some people it is too much. His writings are too strong. His teachings are very potent.
 
His name in Hebrew, interestingly enough, means “the perfume of God,” the aroma of divinity: סמאל Samael. It is also the “poison of God” because it is very strong, very direct, and very profound. His message goes to the core of what we are and points out the obstacles of the mind. It is poison to the ego. It is a knowledge that very expediently, directly, and powerfully approaches the fundamental issue of why we meditate, which is to cultivate virtue and to conquer our vices.
 
For some people, when approaching his writings, it is good to understand the context in which he had written and provided this knowledge. What is very useful is to study his books on meditation like The Revolution of the Dialectic, Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology, and The Great Rebellion in conjunction with proven traditions and ancient methods, so that we understand and have clarity that this is not the teaching of one man. It is universal.
 
So in this lecture we are going to synthesize many points that he made in relation to meditation, practical techniques, the science of knowing oneself. But also, complementing his wisdom are the traditions in which he also studied, extracted, synthesized, and refined that knowledge. You will find many explanations in this lecture regarding Buddhist meditation especially from Tibet, the Mahayana and Tantrayana traditions. In explaining this synthesis, we will touch upon these traditions and how they all connect, so that we can radically achieve a profound state of serenity and deep insight into our daily problems. 
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​The Purpose of Meditation 

We will explore the purpose of meditation, why we meditate, why we reflect, and why we approach spirituality.
 
Meditation is a science in which we explore our inner reality, our states, our psychological nature, our qualities of mind, so that by separating from the world, the senses, the distractions of life, from the hustle and bustle of modern living, we can begin to gain a clarity and understating of how we produce our own suffering.
 
There are certain things in life that we cannot control. There are certain events in our politics, our society, our culture, that appear to be beyond our scope of influence, things that we cannot change. While there are many problems in life that afflict humanity, and while we may feel overwhelmed by the chaos that has been afflicting many people, we can learn to understand our own agency in this, to comprehend what we can do in this mess, what we can do to change our own daily problems, our confusion, our suffering, our fears, our morbidity, our disillusionment.
 
We practice meditation in this tradition because we really want to understand why we are in pain, but more importantly how to cease suffering. If you have studied Buddhism, you are familiar with the Four Noble Truths, and that 1) in life there is suffering, 2) that suffering has causes and 3) the causes of suffering can cease, but likewise, 4) there is a path known as meditation that leads towards the complete nullification of our conditioned, suffering, and psychological states. Meditation is the process by which we gain information about who we are, about our own psychological contaminants, defects, errors.
 
One has to be very confused to think that one is perfect in life and that we do not possess some type of fault or chip on our shoulder. Most people do recognize that they have errors but do not really know the process by which to actively look at them, confront them, comprehend them, and eliminate them. Meditation will provide us the groundwork by which we can do this, in which we can see within ourselves without confusion, assumption, belief, or preconception about what is really going on.
 
Most people are in a state of perplexity, confusion, disorder, and ignorance, not because we lack some intellectual knowledge, but because we do not understand how our behaviors produce the consequences of our life. It is a law of nature. We follow the trajectory of our actions, our behaviors, of our choices. If we are in a very negative situation and, while we like to blame our neighbor, our community, our spouse, whomever it may be, we have to be honest with our mind. We have to be very direct with ourselves and to really look where we do not want to: at the causes of our present circumstance, of how we ended up, and where we are at. If we are not happy with our situation, then we have to go within. We have to look at our choices and not to defend our sentiments with such vehement emotion, with animal instinct, with terrible fear. We have to look honestly, to observe in ourselves what we have in abundance and what we lack.
 
For some people, meditation is a means of acquiring spiritual experience, and this is very valid and useful. The truth is that even having some blissful state―in which you escape for some moments the conditions and limitations of your own mind―the only purpose of that is to inspire you to look at yourself further, to examine what keeps you encaged. What are the obstacles in our life? What are our repeated, observable, cyclical behaviors? In what way do we keep repeating the same actions, in the same circumstances, and why we should expect a different result? But the common tendency is to ignore our own culpability, our responsibility, our own agency.
 
So, meditation will provide us the means by which we can really reflect on our quality of life, our state of being, our purpose for living. If we are suffering a lot, if we are confused, if we are distracted, but we feel in our heart a deep inquietude, a deep yearning, or uneasiness in our very being, we have to listen to that. That is what guides our meditation. That is what guides our introspection. That is what drives us to understand what spirituality is and what to do. 

​The Natural Laws of Meditation

There are three trainings in diverse traditions. You find this dynamic especially within Tibetan Buddhism. You find it in traditions like the mystical doctrine of the Sufis, the mystics of Islam―three degrees or stages. You find it in Freemasonry. You find it all throughout the world, which proves and emphasizes that there are steps to meditation. It is a scientific approach. These are based on laws of nature. If you wish to enter and develop, to realize a real state of equanimity, of internal divine perception, you have to fulfill the causes and requisites of their fruition.
 
Believing or not believing, thinking or not thinking, assuming or rejecting with our mind or heart, does not indicate any real change, because psychological transformation is based on the actions that produce them. Just as nature has its laws, likewise, our spiritual life has laws. Divinity has laws. In the East this is known as karma: cause and effect, action and reaction. For every effect there is a cause, and in every cause there is an effect. It is inescapable in the same way that gravity is inescapable. You can believe that gravity will not affect you and therefore leap off a cliff. We can believe whatever we want, but nature does not adhere to our preferences, our assumptions, our ideologies, our concepts. Nature is nature.
 
So in this approach to meditation, we are very factual. While we may have lots of literature, and many concepts that we study intellectually, the real blossoming of the soul is based on enacting superior causes and conditions, superior ways of being, a higher level of being, because if you follow superior actions, you will produce superior results. It is a basic law. In science, they call it invariance, in which if you produce an action, you then must face the consequences of it. Maybe in this lifetime, maybe not in a few days, but eventually you will. So, by enacting superior, ethical behaviors like compassion, kindness, generosity, moral and psychological purity, we produce a conduit or a psychological matrix in which we are generating and activating a real potential.
 
The truth is that we need to create a space within our psychology that is conducive for realizing the spirit, our inner divinity, our inner God. When we lack serenity in our daily states, we cannot see clearly within. This is why ethics is the foundation within all meditative traditions. If you fulfill a horrible action, if you lie, if you steal, if you kill, not only are there physical consequences, societal repercussions, confrontations with the law, we really in turn disturb the waters of the mind. We become agitated. Just like a lake that cannot reflect clearly the heavens upon its surface when it is churned, in the same manner our mind cannot reflect anything positive within its surface. If we are engaging in negative, harmful behaviors, instead what we will have is a whirlpool, a storm, a hurricane, which most people define as our life.

​Ethics

But there are ways to train. The beginning is to train in ethics (Sanskrit शील sila). Refrain from harmful behaviors. Enact positive, conscious behaviors. We call this self-observation in our tradition. We observe ourselves. We examine, moment by moment, our thoughts, actions, our feelings, our impulses, our instincts, in the same way that a director of a film observes an actor in a scene. The actor is your own mind. It is your own negative emotions. It is your own instinctual, animalistic habits and behaviors. The consciousness, the soul, or what we call the Essence, is the director. We are looking within. We are examining our mind. We are examining our heart, and examining our impulses to be.
 
In this way, we are learning to distinguish and discriminate what to do in life in the moment. We call that conscience: following the inner judgement of our heart. That is the voice that emanates from divinity. The mind can rationalize and debate, “This behavior is good. I should do this,” and have many justifications, and yet we taste the flavor, the aftermath, the consequences of this―bitterness, remorse, sorrow. It is better to have foresight rather than hindsight. But so long as we are making changes in our daily life, we can in turn progress. We progress based on ethics. Again, acquiring information by observing yourself and by learning to fulfill the intuitions of your heart, the voice of conscience, we learn to navigate the boisterous seas of our life. Things begin to calm. The waters settle.

​Samadhi 

​In that way we start to acquire states of समाधी samadhi. This is the word in Sanskrit meaning “bliss,” ecstasy of the soul. We start to experience blissful states of consciousness as we are working with concentration. We are beginning to integrate our mind, which is usually very dispersed, diffused, and distracted amongst multiple activities and obligations. The mind tends to be all over the place. But as you being to learn to observe yourself, remember yourself, and remember what you are doing at any given moment, you begin to integrate your consciousness. You start to strengthen it so that you gain continuity in your alert, novel, perceptive states, so that you can begin to understand something more profoundly in you. As you access that you feel bliss, you feel a sense of joy. You feel inspired. You feel elevated as you begin to recognize you are not anger. You are not pride. You are not fear. You are not resentment. You are not lust. You are not desire. You are something much more than that.
 
Some people have written to us online with a lot of distress, a lot of unhappiness, saying they have tried these techniques and methods and yet they continue to suffer a lot. They have many negative thoughts, many fears they say they can see in themselves. They recognize they have defects, but they are not changing and just feel very dark and sour. This proves that one does not have ethics. One is not awake. If we are not paying attention and seeing the mind for what it is, then we are identified with it. We are feeding it our energy. We invest ourselves in that self, in that anger, that pride, that morbidity, that resentment, instead of separating it and not feeding it, because when you recognize yourself, you feel joy. You feel happiness. You feel bliss. You feel samadhi to a degree.
 
Some people like to refer samadhi as some elevated mystical experiences within different dimensions, but the truth is that samadhi or bliss has to do with our perception and quality of being here and now. You will recognize a selfless state when it happens, as you are cultivating superior behavior in your mind, in your heart, in your body. Samadhi, the bliss of the awakened consciousness, a concentrated perception, is such that when you are not invested within the different modifications of the different defects you carry within, you begin to subsist within your own true nature, which is the soul, the Essence, the consciousness. 

​Prajna: Profound Wisdom

In this way, as you are established in that state, you then enter profound wisdom, which in Sanskrit is known as प्रज्ञ prajna. Prajna is the capacity for insight, when you really go into the depth of a phenomenon and even within noumena, the truth, the thing in itself, the essence of a given thing. Profound wisdom is the capacity to have profound perceptive understanding and analysis of very obscure things, qualities and states that are not accessible to the physical senses.
 
They are apprehended by, first, developing concentration, and when that is very strong, we begin to see things, have visions within our meditations. We can even physically leave our body and enter the superior dimensions in nature, which in kabbalah it is known as the Tree of Life. 

​The Integration of the Three Trainings

​We need to cultivate all these qualities in ourselves. They are predicated and grounded within one another. As you begin to develop ethics, you begin to establish a state of concentration to a degree, happiness and joy in recognition of your work, your successes, and also your failures, by learning to move ahead so that with enough practice, we develop profound wisdom, by having insight of different experiences of life. But also, within meditation, we begin to feed our ethics even further. These work together. They complement each other. They funnel and feed within each other. These dynamics are deep and are interrelated. You cannot separate one from the other. If you want success in meditation, you have to consider these in their totality. 

​Types of Meditation

​There are different types of meditation. We can talk about two specifically. There are meditations that focus on stabilizing the consciousness and there are meditations that help us to analyze, to develop perceptive, critical understanding of whatever we are focusing on in our practice. 

​Stabilizing Meditation

​When we are stabilizing the consciousness, we are learning to concentrate. In the beginning, right now, our mind is all over the place. Concentration is the capacity to focus our attention on one thing without being distracted. If you sit, close your eyes, introspect, and simply look at your quality of mind, in the beginning of our discipline, we find we are thinking many associative thoughts. There is a chain of compare and contrast, thesis and antithesis, good and bad, memories relating to other situations that relate to something else, and the mind wanders. If we forget that we sat down to meditate, to look within, we can recognize that we lack concentration. We do not remember what we are doing. We are not focused on one thing and being distracted by others.
 
This quality, concentration, is very important. In the beginning, it is necessary to learn to concentrate. Learn to focus your perception, your consciousness, so that you can focus on one thing and not get lost. If you examine your day, if you take public transportation, you start thinking of other things or daydreaming. Maybe you are listening to your music player thinking about something that happen earlier in the day, not paying attention to your surroundings, not being aware, and then we forget our stop. It means that we are not awake. We are asleep. We are daydreaming. We are not conscious. That has to change.
 
You learn primarily to develop concentration when you are learning to be aware of yourself, your surroundings, and your internal states at all times. If you are learning to self-observe yourself throughout the day, your meditations are going to be very strong because meditation, as a state of being, is based on the capacity to focus throughout the day. This is genuine willpower.
 
Now in the West we like to think of willpower as something aggressive, violent, abrasive perhaps. But willpower is really the effort of the consciousness to place attention to one thing with serenity. Genuine willpower is very gentle. It is not mental exertion: the mind investing in a lot of thinking, or the heart in feeling, or the body in acting. The consciousness is beyond that. Conscious will, it is the capacity to perceive without having to think or to rely on negative emotions or instincts. It is a serene perception and introspection within oneself. It is a state of equipoise. It is quiescence, in which with your willpower, you are learning to observe yourself and not get distracted by anything, to be alert and attentive. 
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​As you are doing that, much in the same manner as you are riding a boat that rocks with the waves when you are moving, when you sit still and maintain your focus by holding on to the mast of the ship and do not move, eventually, the waters will calm. Then you can start to see things clearly. The storm passes. It is the same thing with our mind. With willpower, we learn to sit still from a state of perception. In meditation, we learn to calm the body, calm the mind, calm the heart, and in that way, you are gaining an understanding of how chaotic your mind was. You do not get identified with it.
 
This state is known as calm abiding in Sanskrit: शमथ shamatha, or in Tibetan: shyine. It is very important to develop this. You do this with concentration exercises, but also learning to self-observe your self and remember yourself through out the day, to not be inattentive, asleep. 

​Analytical Meditation

​We also have analytical forms of meditation which relate to the capacity to perceive with clarity. There are visualization exercises in which you perceive non-physical imagery. If I tell you think of an apple, you can see it. It is not a physical thing, but it is in your mind. That is visualization. It is the capacity to perceive non-physical images, which is important when we learn how to perceive and understand ourselves.
 
In the beginning, our capacities to visualize tend to be very weak, very dispersed, very clouded, very obscure. But with analytical forms of meditation, like visualization practices, we strengthen the capacity of the soul, the consciousness, to see within. We do this through exercises like retrospection meditation, in which we learn to visualize our day: what we thought, what we felt, what we did. You can review your day from the morning to evening, or evening to the morning. You visualize what you saw in yourself. You rely on facts. In this way you begin to comprehend the different defects that manifest in you from moment to moment. This is how you gain inner vision: internal understanding. You start to see yourself in a new way when you look at the observable facts of your existence, so that you can gain deep, lasting knowledge about what actions are wrong and what you can do to change them.
 
Some people call this faculty clairvoyance. Unfortunately, it is a French term meaning “clear vision” that was created by a group of French initiates who wanted to establish a technical language and flavor to their art, so that the uninitiated would not basically disturb them in their practices. Unfortunately, this term has harmed many people, in the sense that many believe clairvoyance, this visualization capacity, this dynamic, is something only for the exceptional and the few, when in reality, it is merely the faculty of imagination: to see within.
 
That imagination can be subjective, meaning, conditioned by our own internal states, our defects, our defects, or it can be purified and clear meaning conscious, undisturbed, objective. This is known as insight (in Sanskrit: विपश्यना vipassana).
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​Qualities of Concentration

​Let us talk about some qualities of concentration. I already mentioned a few.
 
Real concentration in the end is effortless. I know that in the beginning if we sit to focus, perhaps on a candle, observing the flame, as one practice you can do, or in the exercise of self-observation, in the beginning, it takes a lot of effort. It is very intense to stay alert, because you find, as you are trying to observe yourself, that you forget. You get lost within the mind. You forgot what you were doing. It takes a lot of energy within the consciousness to be present. But as you really cultivate concentration within yourself, it does not take any effort, because when you establish a momentum and that quality or way of being in life, it is natural. It is serene. It is calm.
 
We make a very clear distinction between mental exertion of the mind and the willpower of the consciousness. The consciousness is serene. It is calm. It happens spontaneously even as you are training yourself, so that you can respond to any situation in life with understanding, with wisdom, with compassion. In the higher stages of concentration, there is no effort involved, when it is perfect. In that way, it is unafflicted by desire, by defects.
 
As I said, concentration relates and can relate to the state of bliss, in which as you are observing yourself, you are not tossed about by the mind. You are not hurt by your own anger, because you have created a space, in the sense of separation, enough that you can look at yourself without getting caught up, being swallowed by the animal. Instead, you confront it. You look at it with equanimity, with calm, and in that way, you are inspired. You have bliss. 
The greatest joy of the Gnostic is the discovery of one of his or her defects, because a discovered defect will be a dead defect. ―Samael Aun Weor 
So, there is joy in that work. It is a continuous process. When concentration is really maintained throughout the day in a continuous, persistent, disciplined manner, gently bringing ourselves back to the present moment, we develop what is known as mindfulness: continuity of attention. Self-observation is the capacity to observe yourself in moment, but maintaining that throughout the day, that continuity, is known as mindfulness: to remember yourself all the time. With practice you gain clarity of yourself. You see and understand your daily states without labels, without conceptualizing what is going on, saying perhaps, “This is pride,” “this is anger,” or “this is fear.” Instead, you just look at yourself. You see yourself.
 
While it is important in our studies to understand the different qualities of our defects, it is important not to get caught up in terms. Sometimes we refer to the seven deadly sins or the legion of defects to help us have some type of groundwork to approach the complexities of our mind. When we talk about self-observation, you learn how to see how each defect works together, but also individually. Defects are not easy to categorize, if we are really honest and look at ourselves, because anger can be proud. Lust can be gluttonous. Fear can be angry. Vanity can be greedy. Each ego has its unique flavor that we have to comprehend and not to box up in some category in the intellect. This type of perception and concentration we are talking about is not strictly limited to a set of ideas. It is something really deep.
 
As you are observing yourself, you get a more vivid, intense, and stable consciousness. The consciousness becomes more robust as you exercise it, in the same manner that by going to the gym, you get stronger. It is also one-pointed in the sense like if you are really investing your whole heart and concentration within your consciousness, you are able to direct it at one thing at will, and to sustain it at will, for however long you want. This is what it means to be undistracted, and it is that foundation that allows us not to be obscured within ourselves.
 
When you are able to look at something with your consciousness without obscurations, without distraction, you start to understand the inherent nature of that thing. It is selfless. Self-observation, when the consciousness is looking within, does not have a self. It is clear and unconditioned. To be specific, the ego in Latin is a term for “I,” “myself,” “me,” “my desire,” etc. That is the self we need to understand and know so that by comprehending them, we can eventually remove them. But the consciousness does not have a conditioned sense of self there. Consciousness is perception. It is knowing. It is understanding. It is liberated, but it is not based upon a sense of “I.” This is something that you can only understand through experience and through the practices that we are going to elaborate. 

​The Basis of Concentration 

​So the basis of concentration involves some teachings from the Lam-rim Chen-mo [The Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment], Tsongkhapa especially, a great Buddhist master who explained in his writings some ethical foundations and some stipulations that can help us to develop basic concentration. 

​Ethical Lifestyle

One of them we already mentioned is an ethical lifestyle. If we are killing, stealing, lying, performing sexual misconduct, indulging in alcohol or intoxicants, negative behaviors, extortion, crime, etc., then we do not have basis in which to concentrate, because our mind will be a complete storm. Ethical livelihood, a compassionate lifestyle, is our best defense against negative circumstances in life. As Samael Aun Weor wrote:
The best weapon in life is a correct psychological state. ―Samael Aun Weor, Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology
​Ethics has to do with living appropriately in the given moment. Cultivate your mind and cultivate a better way of being. 

​Conducive Environment

​We also need to cultivate an environment that is going to help us rather than hinder us. A conducive environment has to do with establishing a space in our home or a place to go to meditate. For some people, their home is not an option. Maybe we have roommates, or other people nearby, neighbors, whatever it may be. We need to learn how to cultivate a space or have somewhere to go to practice. It is ideal to have a room in your home that you can dedicate to meditation. Have a well kept space and altar because that devotion to that particular space and environment for practice can charge us with a lot of enthusiasm, and a lot of joy to really continue and aspire in these studies.
 
For some people, a room is not an option, but instead one has a corner in their apartment or home, a park, or temple they go to. Whatever it is, we need a conducive environment that is going to facilitate our capacity to concentrate within.

​Reducing Desire

In that way, we have to learn to reduce the desire for more. For some people, we have attachments to future expectations or longings for a better situation, better environment, better circumstances. Maybe some people (and it is common in the Gnostic movement) want a Gnostic spouse, feeling and thinking that they cannot meditate and enter the path if they are not married. This is an illusion. Whatever our desires for more or for different situations, we have to reduce our attachments. 
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​We have to learn to become like renunciates, as seen in this image of Buddha Gautama Shakyamuni shaving his hair off before he became an ascetic. He eventually entered the wilderness in order to fully dedicate himself to meditation. Now, we are not advocating that kind of extreme practice, fakirism, or living in the wild to just meditate all day and only eating a grain of rice, which is extreme. Instead, what we are learning to do is be content with our situation. We need to learn to renounce our attachments and our desires for a different situation. We need to learn to accept what we have. We are where we are at in accordance with our actions, our karma. Our situation is a direct reflection of our mental states:
The internal is the reflection of the external. ―Immanuel Kant 

​Contentment

If you want a better situation in your life, we need to learn to be content with what we have and the blessings that we already received, to accept our karma like the hammer and the anvil. It can be painful, yet we have to learn to get comfortable with adverse and difficult situations. If you are changing your mind, transforming your mind, having gratitude for the gift of life, and the fact that we still have a consciousness that can work despite a physical, emotional, or mental illness, we can really learn to transform ourselves.  I have known people in these studies who have suffered really terrible illnesses, physically, emotionally, and mentally. I know one person who is suffering from schizophrenia, and by learning to comprehend his own inadequacies and faults, by learning to get treated and helped, has achieved great progress. There are some people who have a physical ailment, or are paraplegic, who cannot walk, who are sick. There is one example of a meditator who was dying of dysentery. If you are not familiar with that, it is very painful, and yet he still developed his meditation practice. So, reduce your desires and accept your situation. 

​Renouncing Useless Activities

​It is not easy, but if you do and learn to renounce useless activities and distractions, we really can radically change.
 
So, some useless activities that we are probably already familiar with: fsome people, it is television, browsing the internet, doing useless things that really do not produce anything spiritual for us. Yet we tend to gravitate towards these things because our mind is agitated and wants to do something.
 
By reducing and renouncing useless activities, we learn to spend more time in useful activities like meditating and developing concentration. 

​Supportive Posture and Relaxation

​We have to have a supportive posture, supporting our spine in a way, relaxing deeply, so that we can calm the body and also forget about it. The important basis of concentration is that our posture has to be adequate enough, in which we can relax it completely and no longer be identified with its itches, scratches, or discomforts. Calm your body. Spend a lot of time relaxing it, and learn a position that is useful for you. It can be full lotus or half lotus. Particularly for Easterners, this tends to be very common. For Westerners, you can sit on a chair or lay on our back. Although I do recommend that, if you are learning concentration for the first time, to do so sitting up on a chair, because sometimes laying on our back can be so relaxing that you forget the practice and you fall asleep. Learn to relax to the point that your body can suspend its activities, your senses calm, and you can look within completely, but without forgetting what you are doing. 

​Energy

​For this we have to learn to work with energy. The consciousness needs energy to work. It cannot be active if we are not working with our vital forces, our mental forces, and our emotional forces. Every action requires energy in life, without exception. If we are wasting energy mentally, emotionally, or sexually―as we explain in our tradition as the most important energy we need to work―then consciousness will be depleted. It will not be able to awaken in a positive, pure, and clear way. We need energy to awaken the soul. If you are interested in learning how to work with creative energy especially, you can study Samael Aun Weor’s The Perfect Matrimony, or books like Kundalini Yoga and The Yellow Book

​Introspection and Withdrawal of the Senses

​As you are working with energy, you are withdrawing your senses. You are working with exercises like pranayama, which is the practice of controlling the breath. You circulate the vital forces of your body, and in that way, you are withdrawing your attention from the external world. You are introspecting and entering your own psychology. You are calming. You are entering quiescence, equanimity, dispassion. 

​Mindfulness and Abandoning Distraction

​As you are going within, you are developing mindfulness. You are not forgetting what you are doing. Mindfulness is important when you are developing concentration, as I said. You need to learn to self-observe throughout the entire day, not just for one moment, but for our entire, daily states, our entire life. We already mentioned that it is important to abandon distractions, things that are really pointless, as I said.
 
Also, abandoning distractions is not only physically renouncing activities, but it is learning to avoid the distractions of our mind. If we are sitting to concentrate upon something and your mind is thinking of something else and wants to go over some minute detail of your day, it can be good to look at it for a moment, but then abandon that distraction and return to the point of your practice. If you are sitting to practice with a specific purpose, I recommend that you fulfill that and stick to your guns, so to speak. Do not do something else than what you intended at the beginning of your practice, so that you have consistency and continuity, because the mind will look for excuses and opportunity to do what it wants, which is to wander in the mind. 

​Vigilance, Awareness, and Self-Observation

Vigilance helps us to establish concentration because, as I said before, with mindfulness, we learn to be awake at all times. To be in vigil means “to not sleep. “ Vigilance also has to do with the clarity and quality of our perception, to really see oneself in greater depth, greater vividness, intensity and purity. Awareness has to do with remembering oneself, being aware of one’s environment, and observing oneself moment by moment.
 
All of these principles help to establish concentration. If you practice these principles very heartily, you will radically progress. 
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​Concentration Practices 

​Some basic concentration practices include focusing on external sensory objects. That is very good for beginners especially. 

​Upon External Sensory Objects: Breath

​We have concentration upon the breath, Anapanasati, in which you only focus on the inhalations, the retention and the exhalations of breath. If the mind starts to think of something else, just focus on the breath. This is a very useful exercise when you are beginning to develop concentration, because grounding yourself in a natural function of your body can help you to gain awareness of yourself and some continuity in your attention. You can inhale for eight seconds, retain the breath for eight seconds, and exhale for eight seconds―however long you need, whatever is natural for your lung’s capacity. 

​Upon External Sensory Objects: Mantra

We have mantras and sacred sounds, which are vocalized sacred words. Mantra literally means “mind protection.” It is a vibration of sound in which it reverberates within our body, our internal physiology, and within our consciousness. Sacred sounds are a great way to charge your body with energy, and they help you to focus as well. It is good in the beginning to mantralize out loud. It is good to vocalize these sounds because there is a physical benefit to them.
 
There are practices in our tradition like the runes, which you can study on Glorian.org, in which you adapt postures in your body and vocalize sacred sounds in accompaniment with prayer, so that these energies and vibrations activate different centers of your psychology and physiology. It is also good to pronounce sacred mantras by whispering them throughout the day if you want to maintain your attention and concentration while you are at work. You can also do it mentally if you do not want people to notice.
 
We work with all three aspects: the physical vocalized component, there is a whispered component, and there is a silent recitation in the mind. Swami Sivananda wrote that silent Japa, mental recitation, is the most powerful because it requires the most attention and skill. I recommend that you work with all aspects of this. Spend some time vocalizing out loud during the day, whisper them as well, but also mentally pronounce these mantras when you are engaged in your daily life. This will help you maintain profound concentration and mindfulness. 

​Upon External Sensory Objects: Relaxation, Pulsation, Circulation

​You can also concentrate upon the pulsation and circulation of your heart. This helps you to relax. Focusing on your heartbeat is very beautiful. It really grounds you in your own body. It helps you to realize that your heart, your physiology, your body, is a beautiful living thing with intelligence, with life. We often ignore our own body throughout the day. We are tense. We are uptight. We are agitated. By learning to relax your body, by learning to focus on the beat of the heart, you become more aware of yourself. You become more in tune. You relax. Relaxation is key. You want to relax yourself and your body to the point that you can forget about it. With this exercise, if you are really concentrated, your body can fall asleep, and you can have an astral projection through the chakra of your heart. It is very beautiful and very effective. 

​Upon Internal, Visualized, and Conceptual Objects: Candle or Stone 

​You can also concentrate upon internal, visualized, and conceptual objects like a candle or a stone. Light a candle. You observe it. You look at its features. You examine it and close your eyes. Then gently you construct the image your mind. Let it appear and show itself within your imagination. You learn to observe that quality in your consciousness, your imagination. You are visualizing the object. If the mind starts to play with the image―which it will―simply open your eyes again. Become observant again. Observe the candle. Look at it. Then close your eyes and visualize again. With practice you will learn to sustain an image with real intensity and vividness, with clarity and longer periods of time. You can also take a stone and simply observe it and visualize it as well in the same way.
 
The point is not to think of other things or let the mind do what it wants. But on this point, it is also important not to force the mind to do your practice. You do not want to exert tension in your mind. Imagination does not take effort in the sense that you are trying to build something in your intellect. You want to look at the image, close your eyes, gently bring it upon the screen of your attention, your visualization. If you are tense, relax. Open your eyes and look at the object again. This is not a violent repression of the mind. Do not beat it up. Do not beat yourself up. It is very calm and very peaceful. 

​Upon Internal, Visualized, and Conceptual Objects: Sacred Art, Sculptures, Mandalas

​If you gain some skill, you can learn to concentrate on sculptures or mandalas, which are sacred art forms. They represent qualities and principles of divinity, which can inspire our practice. It takes more skill to visualize, obviously, more complex images, and we will talk about this in brief in the next few slides.
 
You can also focus on a plant which is the body of an elemental soul of nature, in which you learn to observe the plants features and visualize its qualities. If you are really deep in your meditation, you are concentrated and fully focused on what you are doing, you can relax to the point of falling asleep, then learn to enter the superior worlds to speak and communicate with the soul, the elemental of that plant. It is a very beautiful experience. 

​Upon One’s Own Mind without Discernment or Distraction

Lastly, you can explore and concentrate upon your own mind without discernment or distraction. This practice is not accompanied with a deeper visualization. What it is, is that you are looking at your internal states, not trying to discern or look at the depths of these defects, but you are learning to just look at the flowing thoughts and distractions of your mind without getting carried away by it. It is like looking at a blue sky in which clouds emerge, they sustain, and they pass. Concentration can be developed in that way. It can be very difficult for beginners, but work with whichever exercises help you most. 

​Deepening Concentration: Mindfulness

​There are ways to deepen concentration once it is initiated. Mindfulness, as I said, is the capacity to remember what you are doing moment by moment throughout your entire day. Concentration is much more robust and strong as you consistently return yourself back to the origin of your discipline 

​Deepening Concentration: Remembrance

​Remember your practice. For some people they like to have alarms on their clocks, watches, or phones set throughout different times of the day, so they can remember to engage their practice in case they forget what they have done or what they have been doing. Their alarm can bring them back. For some people, that can be very useful. 

​Deepening Concentration: Vigilance

​Vigilance, as I said, is the capacity to not sleep, to be aware at all times, to remember yourself. Once you learn to identify distractions in the moment―this takes a lot of discernment and skill)―if you have established some degree of concentration, not forgetting what you are doing, there are other forms of distractions that emerge from the subconsciousness, infraconsciousness, and unconsciousness that ripple upon the surface of our awareness. As the waters are stilling, you can learn to look within with more profundity to learn and see the origins of distractions before they even really manifest upon the surface. 

​Deepening Concentration: Remedy Excitement and Laxity

​Sometimes we can feel excitement or laxity in our meditation practice. You can feel overexcited or agitated, like you want results, or you can feel lax like you are really dull, heavy. You want to fall asleep. You simply enter oblivion, eight hours of unconsciousness where one does not even dream.
 
The remedy for excitement is to learn to reflect upon your mortality. Reflect on the fact that at one point we will die. Our life will end. Therefore, why be agitated? We have to face the reality of our circumstances, of our life.
 
For overexcitement, some desire for something, we have to curb that by understanding and reflecting that our desires are transient. They are futile. They are impermanent. Reflect on impermanence. Nothing lasts forever in this universe. Therefore, why be attached? 
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If you are lax or dull, you can practice a visualization exercise. You can imagine a bright sun in your consciousness, your mind, in your heart, as you see in this image of a buddha meditating towards the sun. Imagine a bright, brilliant, golden sun within your consciousness, so that light can give you strength and inspiration. You can also visualize any image that gives you joy and encouragement from the diverse religious traditions, so that you are inspired to embody those qualities. 

​Deepening Concentration: Notice an Object’s Qualities as They Are

​The important thing is that we need to notice an object’s qualities as they are. We cannot project our assumptions and ideas of what we are seeing. You just have to look at what is there. Do not let the mind label what you are seeing. In that way, you abandon expectations, assumptions, or thinking that your meditation will end up a certain way. Some people enter a meditation expecting a samadhi, an astral projection, a mystical experience, and they ignore that that very desire is what obscures their practice. We have to abandon all expectations. Let the mind settle. Simply be, and if the experiences come, they will do so by their own accord when you are receptive. 

​Deepening Concentration: Increase Relaxation

You can also learn to increase your relaxation in order to really deepen concentration, because if you are agitated by excitement or feeling dull, you want to relax the body. But again, if you are too tense, you want to let go so much on the strain, so to speak. You do not want to be too tight psychologically. 

​Deepening Concentration: Unwavering and Effortless Focus 

​We need unwavering and effortless focus. This is something that happens in the higher degrees of concentration in which you no longer waver from thing to thing. You are no longer distracted. But then as you are becoming more acquainted with that state, it does not take any effort. It is effortless. You simply will it and it is. It is very gentle, spontaneous, intuitive, and a wonderful, blissful state.

​Deepening Concentration: Don’t Exert Thought and Energy

​Now, if you are forgetting yourself, gently refocus upon the object. I cannot emphasize this enough. Do not exert the mind. Recall your attention. Reflect upon the object, and be gentle. Do not exert yourself with thought and energy. That can be a major obstacle towards the end of your concentration practices, especially as you are advancing towards higher stages. If you exert yourself to any degree, you will lose that state. For some people, they can be meditating or even having an astral projection, in which they are awake in that state, then they become fearful or engage in a thought for the moment or they exert their mind, and then they lose the samadhi, the ecstasy, the experience. Do not exert yourself at that point. Let your mind settle. 

​Deepening Concentration: Momentary Retrospection

If you forget what you are doing at some point in your meditation, it is good to utilize a momentary retrospection when you lose that mindfulness. So, if you are meditating and you remember your object, but then for a minute you forget what you are doing, it is good to reflect in that moment about what thought led you down that chain of associative thinking, that led you towards distraction. 
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​Qualities of Insight

​Some qualities of insight that are really important to reflect upon, as I said, are insight, which is imagination: the ability to perceive internal imagery. In the same way that you dream, you perceive images that are not physical. Likewise, imagination is that capacity. It is direct perception of internal reality.
 
Dreams occur in a material dimension that is not physical. There is a different form of matter and energy there. There is a reality there that is very concrete, but it is not as concrete as our physical dimension. Likewise, our internal experiences emerge within our consciousness in the form of non-physical images, sounds, visions. This is clairvoyance.
 
But unfortunately in us, our perception tends to be very clouded. It is very conditioned. Most of our time throughout the day, we engage in fantasy. As I said, when we are distracted, we are thinking of our co-worker, perhaps, and an event we had in the day. Perhaps we were angered by their actions, and so we are ruminating about revenge. This is negative clairvoyance, fantasy. It is mechanical. It just happens within the mind, and we simply go with it if we are not questioning ourselves, examining ourselves. That is a negative psychological state in which we are wasting profound reservoirs of energy within our body, heart, and mind.
 
Real clairvoyance, real vision, conscious imagination, pure seeing, is when we are looking at the contents of our experience without any ego there to filter. In the beginning, it is going to be mixed, because we are training ourselves for the first time. We are learning to see ourselves, who we are.
 
But of course in the beginning, we are going to be mixed, as I said. Often times in the beginning, we struggle to visualize. We struggle to see the qualities and colors of an image, and to sustain that within our consciousness.
 
It is important to reflect that there are different forms of visualization or imagination, we can say. I mentioned that there is a negative component, which is fantasy, egotistical, the projections of the ego, mind, or desire. But then there is conscious imagination, which is the soul.
 
Now the consciousness can learn to develop its perceptive qualities by projecting an image. We learn to take a candle, as I said, you imagine it. You visualize it. You are projecting that image within yourself so that you can develop that capacity in you that can see it as it is with your imagination.
 
With practice we also learn how to receive images as well. As you are entering a silent and serene state of mind, your body is fully relaxed. You are fully withdrawn in your consciousness. You are imagining that projected imagine within your awareness, the screen of your imagination. Suddenly without thinking about it or expecting it, you receive something new. Perhaps a situation, a dream, a vision emerges. Often times it occurs in a form of some type of drama in which you are an actor and a participant. You are witnessing yourself doing things, seeing people, seeing landscapes, seeing cities. There is really the infinitude of possibilities here, of different experiences that you can have with your imagination. But the important thing to remember is that when you learn to project images and remain consistent and sustain those visualizations the best we can, we learn to receive images of a new type. This is really meditation: to receive information that you have not known before, to receive something in a new way. This is an unconditioned, conscious, and clarified state.
 
When you receive these visions or experiences, we can start to sense and discriminate that there is a different quality to these images and these perceptions from our daily, egotistical states. For most people, those visions occur very quickly and then they end, suddenly, we are back in our body, in our chair where we are meditating, once again. So, this shows us that our imagination, our perceptive qualities, are not necessarily sustained as of yet, fully developed. We can gain sparks of insight here and there. Those types of perceptions give us a lot of inspiration and joy to continue working. These experiences become more sustained and detailed the more we work with them, to the point that we learn to develop and access supraconscious states.
 
There are many possibilities within imagination. In the beginning, we have small visions or experiences, but with dedication for many years, we can learn to access perceptions, not only of individual consciousness, but of a universal state, of a divine perception. This has to do with our studies of different dimensions of nature, the multidimensionality of our Being called the Tree of Life. You can study many courses in our website, but also Glorian.org, if you want to find out more information about that: the different structures, principles, and spheres of being that exists within and without.
 
Those experiences are very spontaneous, as I said. They come when we do not seek them, but when we establish the requisites and the steps, the foundations for their actualization. These experiences are very factual. They relate not only to our psychological states, but to different events in our life. This is how we can confirm the reality of our perceptions, their validity, their veracity, their truthfulness, when we look at the physical facts and how they relate to what you perceive. Otherwise, we can be clouded by our own subconscious memories, our habits, our own frustrated desires, even our deep infraconscious states, which are deep traumas, desires, or terrors within the deeper qualities of our psychological abysses.
 
We have to be cautious of our own perceptions. Do not take them at face value, but learn to discriminate with the heart.
 
Also, study the different teachings, the symbols throughout various traditions, so that we can learn to interpret with clarity. We have given many courses before about this subject. You can study the Sufi Principles of Meditation on our website. One lecture we talked extensively about how to interpret what we perceive [Awareness, Unveiling, and Witnessing]. You can also study our course Gnostic Meditation where we talk about those same principles: Imagination, Inspiration, and Intuition

​Insight Practices: Visualizing, Pondering, or Discerning an Object

​Some practices for insight include visualizing, pondering, or discerning an object―when you take an object to perceive in your consciousness, your visualization, and try to discern, intuit, or comprehend what it is in a deeper level. As you are learning to sustain that visualization and simply imagining it with an open mind, new insights can emerge regarding it, as I said. You start to have experiences. They enfold magically within your perception. 

​Insight Practices: Visualization and Retrospection of Memories and Dreams

​We also have visualization and retrospection of memories and dreams. This is probably one of the most important within our tradition. It really is the bread and butter of our meditations, because retrospection helps us to understand how and why we are thinking a certain way, or dreaming throughout the day, and in our nightly life when we are physically asleep. We review our states so that we can understand interrelations, the connections, and the subjectivities of our own egotistical states, so that we can comprehend the ego and eventually remove them. 

​Insight Practices: Visualizing and Comprehending a Deity

​There is a practice within Tantrayana, Tantric Buddhism especially, in which we visualize and comprehend a deity. This practice involves imagining one’s self as a divine being, not from a sense of megalomania, pride, or vanity of a mystical type. Instead it is about learning to embody the qualities of compassion that we find present in sacred beings, in sacred masters, in sacred entities, the divine. 

​Insight Practices: Comprehension of Conscious Qualities 

​Also, we can perform insight practices of comprehension of conscious qualities: comprehending our virtues. I know some people get caught up in the ego and are very distressed by their own mind. We always recommend to meditate on their virtues. Meditate on compassion. Meditate on what it means to love, to sacrifice for others, to be patient, to be diligent. When you recognize those qualities in yourself, you will not be easy to be fooled. You will not give up because you recognize what is real and what is false. 
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​Retrospection Dynamics

In retrospection dynamics or meditation, you need to have some relative state of concentration. We say that typically you want to have enough concentration and continuity in your discipline that you do not forget what you are doing, because you need to remember all the different events of your day. You recall your memories, and you visualize them. Take a part of your day, those that you remember most. You can also start from your earliest moment to the last, or from the last moment of your day when you sat to meditate and reflect on the morning.
 
Probably in the beginning, at some points you will recognize that there are times in your day in which you do not remember anything. This means that we are very asleep. You can pray to your inner divinity to help you remember what happened. We have a mantra that we use with retrospection, and it is:

RAOM GAOM
 
You pronounce it like this:
You pronounce that mantra mentally. You can do it out loud as well, but I recommend doing it mentally, and look to extract the moments, the events that you had forgotten, or that are difficult to ascertain. Those mantras, as Samael Aun Weor states, are like dynamite. You are blowing a hole within your subconscious caves, your mind, so that you can go into the depths to see and shed light there.
 
It is also important that when you are retrospecting that you observe when your thoughts and emotions arise in connection with visualization. So for example, you are retrospecting your day and suddenly as you are thinking about an argument you had at work or a conflict. You start to feel that anger again. You have thoughts of revenge, animosity, or rage. You have to observe that reaction in you when it is happening, in response or in reaction to your visualization. The important thing is that you look at your reactions because that is in relation to your visualization. So, you can pause a moment in your retrospection and look at that defect that is so adverse in you, to examine it, to discern, to intuit, to understand, to comprehend your mental processes. You look at your reactions.
 
For some people, they can retrospect the entire day, or you can retrospect your week. I recommend you work daily, but you perform retrospection meditation upon events that occurred even in your childhood, or even when you were born.
 
The consciousness can remember if you train it. So, it is important that when you are performing retrospection meditation that you remember that your consciousness is distinct from mental processes. Your consciousness is not the mind. When you are remembering your day, you are not doing it with the intellect. It is a different skill. You need to learn it through practice. Visualization and perception of the events, recollection, recall, attention, is very different from thought. You have to learn to distinguish the two. If you want to distinguish the two, I recommend learn more about self-observation. Practice it n your daily life. Study Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology by Samael Aun Weor. That will teach you the distinction very clearly. 
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​Visualization of a Deity

When you visualize a deity, you want to achieve some relative level of mental equipoise. We have Padmasambhava here, a great Buddhist master from the Tibetan tradition, a great initiate. You can take an image of a great master, a deity, and imagine yourself as that quality. You want to embody certain aspects of comprehension, compassion, joy, love, of certain divine figures, like Jesus or Virgin Mary. You can visualize those entities or beings and that your consciousness resonates with that, that you are that quality in your most profound depths and recesses of your heart.
 
Pick an image or figure that really inspires you, an image of a deity, a god, an inner being. You combine this with prayer and deep spiritual longing. You need to feel in your heart, that tremendous love for that being, for that master, for your inner God even. You can take an image of your inner Being―if you have had that experience where you have seen your inner divinity as a figure―because divinity can take any form to teach us. You can visualize that. Visualize your Innermost. That is obviously a much more difficult practice if you have not had that experience. If you do, then in your meditations and internal visions you can reflect on your true nature. Combine it with prayer with longing with joy. We yearn with our heart and beg that we may realize those qualities in ourselves. 
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​Discerning Mental Processes

​When we discern mental processes, we need to comprehend the how and the why of the mind. Serenely perceive the mind’s changing states in the moment. We need to look at ourselves.
 
How is our intellect? How are our emotions? How is our body changing moment by moment? How is it functioning? Why do we react a certain way? Why do we think certain thoughts? Why do we behave in certain circumstances a certain way?
 
You need to look at this when you are discerning your mental processes in meditation. You are looking within at how your different thoughts are moving about and what they are doing. You are learning to extract and understand what is there. This is a very profound meditation that you can perform in which you are just discriminating the thoughts and emotions from your consciousness.
 
Again, your consciousness is very distinct from thought and emotion. They are separate when you look at their different qualities, their taste. They are as different as water from wine. You learn to acclimate yourself gradually to what is real from what is false. But of course, in that process, you have to learn to not identify with those thoughts, emotions, and fluctuating states. You do it gradually and question yourself on what you think, see, understand, and know, because we need to be very cautious with our own mind. We must not assume that we know what we know, not out of a sense of morbid skepticism, but from a conscious analysis, an inquiry into wanting to understand the reality of our own inner states.
 
When you expand your consciousness, your mental processes will become more subtle, in which thought will seek to evade our radar, so to speak. But in this practice, you are discerning your mental states―just looking at what is there. Do not label with your thoughts or emotions, but learn to see within what each ego, thought, feeling, or memory is doing. Apprehend the phenomenon and the phenomena without conceptualizing your mind, without boxing it up in a category and assuming that we know. Simply look. 
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​Integrating Concentration and Insight

When you are working with concentration and insight, you are integrating these qualities in a deeper sense. Some principles that relate to this involve the fact that when you have greater concentration, your insight is much more profound. If you are able to focus your attention on one thing without distraction, your capacity to understand it is going to be much more deep than if your mind is fragmentary and dispersed.
 
As I said, imagination is the perception of non-physical imagery. That quality develops in us as we are working with concentration and stabilizing our perception. We gain greater color, vividness, intensity, sustainability, understanding, and the overall quality and clarity of our vision increases the more we work with it and the more we remove our negative psychological defects.
 
It is important that our consciousness can only understand through perception. It must first perceive before it can understand. You cannot comprehend what you do not see. This is why meditation is fundamental for real change. You may intellectually conceptualize that you have a defect that you want to remove, but unless you see it, you cannot do anything about it.
 
Now, visualization in this process strengthens our insight, our ability to understand something, because when you are learning to visualize, you are granting your consciousness more strength by which to first see more, but also develop and inspire deeper concentration in order for you to practice more, to understand more. It is also important to know that perfect concentration, shamatha, is not necessary to gain initial wisdom. You just need enough concentration so that you do not forget what you are doing, if you really want to develop insight further.
 
Shamatha, or calm abiding, the ability of concentration, without insight, can produce a very temporary state of liberation or bliss. We can feel joy, as I said, in recognizing a state of consciousness that is not identified or limited by distractive thoughts. Obviously, if you are perfecting shamatha and learning to introspect within, you can learn to access even deeper states of bliss. This state of shamatha in which you are absorbed within concentration is not a final state of liberation. It is not the end. There are many degrees of imaginative knowledge, inspirational knowledge, intuitive knowledge that is accessible only when we really abandon all distractions of mind. Having some stability of concentration is not the end, as some schools like to think. We do state that perfect serenity and insight are needed if you do want complete liberation. In the analogies I mentioned to you before, the lake cannot reflect perfect images if there is any ripple there. Both are needed in their fullest forms in order to go really deep.
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​Advice for Developing Concentration

​Here is some advice for developing concentration.
 
We recommend that you overcome procrastination, meaning, try to meditate as much as you can, but do not postpone it. Do not delay the practice of meditation. Learn to cultivate some time and period of your day to actually practice, so that you do not enter self-defeatism, when you feel like you are beating yourself up and then you are not getting anywhere because you are morbid, sad, or overwhelmed by the magnitude of this work. Start small. Begin with what you can, and gradually build from there.
 
Also, give up useless activities, because the more time we give up doing senseless things, the more time we have to practice.
 
Also, we should not forget the practice’s instructions, but learn to follow them, meaning, if you are sitting to concentrate but your mind wants to do something else, remember the practice. Do not forget the objective you have established and set down for yourself. Do not follow the whims of your mind, but learn to follow the instructions.
 
Do not forget to practice. When you are doing it, do not forget that you are doing it. Remain conscious throughout. We recommend that you start with two to three short sessions, such as five to fifteen minutes each. Start small but frequently. That is how you are going to go deeper in your exercises.
 
If you are unable to accomplish these or clarify what this all means, we recommend that you really study. Study the resources we have available and reflect on what you really want. Reflect on what you long for by approaching meditation, because when we clarify what we want, we have a greater understanding about how to achieve it. 
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​Advice for Developing Insight

We also have some advice for developing insight. I recommend that in the beginning, visualize less complicated objects. Do not start with something really intricate that you cannot handle. Start with something small. If you are struggling to visualize with greater clarity, start smaller and simpler. If you have a larger object, you can visualize parts of it to gain clarity or vividness, sustainability, and intensity. If you want to take a mandala, just focus on one aspect of it, whether it be the head of the figure or the bottom. Whatever it is, just focus on that one part. When you master that, move on. Expand your degree of visualization.
 
Also, practice short but frequent sessions. You want to gradually increase the time. It is important not to strain or exert your mind. Learn to relax. This is not a strenuous thing where you are trying to scrunch your eye and brow together to visualize something and make it happen. This practice does not require any strain. Likewise with concentration. If you find that you are tense, relax your body, and return to the visualization. Then allow the imagery to sustain itself and hold.
 
Learn to first project that image in your consciousness. Imagine it. Learn to sustain it, and eventually you will start to receive new perceptions and insights without you asking for them, or expecting them, more importantly.
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We have some reading sources available. You can study our course on Gnostic Meditation but also Glorian.org has a wonderful course called Meditation Essentials. We highly recommend it, and also, we finished a course called the Sufi Principles of Meditation where we go into more depth about each individual aspect of this science. We highly recommend that you study them.
 
At this point in time, I would like to open up the floor to questions. 

​Questions and Answers

Question: One of the things I find happens automatically, if I have been away with my mind somewhere for a fair time, is when I come back to where I am and I become present again, which is a shock. An adrenaline hits, like I have been smacked back into awareness. Any thoughts to this or how to keep it from occurring, as it upsets any calm in the body that was there? Sometimes it is like a smack. Other times I hear a loud sound that hasn’t happened in reality, whether a bell or like a firework bang, or something to that effect.
 
Instructor: The question is about when coming back to the present moment, it is like having a shock, an adrenaline hit, and that happens when arriving back to awareness in the present moment, that one feels an upset state, no longer calm in the body or in the mind, because one recognizes that one forgot oneself.
 
It is important to distinguish between the capacity of the consciousness to remember itself, to remember divinity, that you remember the moment, but without a sense of self-flagellation or abrasiveness, so to speak.
 
If I understand your question correctly, when coming back to the present moment, it can be a shock. Yes, we can forget what we have done in a moment, perhaps because we were distracted. Personally, in my experience when I had such moments, I felt great joy in remembering “Oh, I am supposed to be remembering what I am doing!” ― to be awake. But not out of a sense of shame or a sense of agitation or negativity. It is very different. The ego is always negative, a conditioned state which can produce a state of agitation in our body, mind, and nervous systems, particularly if we are more sensitive emotionally. In psychology, they refer to it as neuroticism, to be neurotic, more susceptible to negative emotions, and if we have that predisposition, sometimes having a shock of awareness in a moment can really startle us.
 
I recommend if you are struggling to being present in the moment and those shocks tend to disturb you, work with your heart. Learn to shock your consciousness with good energy, with positive superior emotions. You can develop the mantra O, especially, if you want to develop that capacity for yourself, so that your intuition and your conscience guides you, and reminds you, “Hey, you forgot yourself!” Now, you bring yourself to the moment without having to self-flagellate, so to speak, or to feel upset.
 
Question: Can you speak on memory? What is it? What is there in relationship to the Tree of Life or spontaneity of thought?
 
Instructor: Memory is ego, typically. Our mind, our defects, are constantly immersed in the past or projecting ideas into the future. Our psychological conditions are memories. We get lost in thought that associate one event with another, and with another event. That is how the mind projects its images, its contents within the screen of our imagination. It is typically negative, where the mind is projecting its own ideas or fantasies or remembrances about what happened. 
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In relation to the Tree of Life, the ego operates within the lower sephiroth or the four bodies of sin. We have Netzach, which is the mind, Hod, which is the emotions, Yesod, which is our vitality, and Malkuth, which is our physicality. Our mind operates those four sephiroth or spheres, and the ego operates within those bodies, those vehicles.
 
We tend to get caught up in memories within the mind, the intellect, Netzach, and often times have emotional responses to them, our Hod, which wastes and expends creative vital energy, which is Yesod, often times without our body [Malkuth]being aware of it or being agitated by those memories.
 
So, the ego is memories, the past. It is illusion. If you are in the present moment, you can learn to introspect within your own states, to those defects in meditation.
 
There is another type of memory which is much more distinct from our common sense of it. We call it work memory, in which the consciousness can remember what happened factually. Do our memories tend to be more or less accurate? Typically not. They are half-truths, fragments of what happened or what someone said. They are not accurate. Whereas work memory is the memory of the consciousness, to understand intuitively and profoundly what our daily states were, how we behaved, what we said, what we did, what we thought, how we acted. It is work memory because you have to work to get it. You work the consciousness. You exercise it in order to remember and understand in that way, whereas the ego does not work for anything. It just simply is. It is a heavy, conditioned, lethargic, destructive state. It is caught up in the past or is always projecting its anticipations and fears into the future.
 
Our ego operates moment by moment. We have to examine the different trends in our psychological states, to examine what is going on there. What are the interrelationships between our thoughts, our feelings, and our actions?
 
Comprehension is spontaneous. This is something more deeper than thought. Comprehension happens in the moment in which you are brilliantly aware, awake, comprehending any given phenomenon. It can happen without you thinking about it. Thought is much slower. Thought is a machine, but the consciousness is what has to operate the human machine. So, there is a very distinct difference there. If you want to learn more about those differences, you can study our course Beginning Self-Transformation. It goes into great depth about this.
 
Question: How can we transform negative mental vibrations when starring at a candle or plant or person?
 
Instructor: I recommend that if you are overcome by negative mental states, energies, or influences, that rather than focusing on a candle or a plant, you learn to work with prayer and conjurations. We have different exercises that help to protect our mind, such as sacred sounds or mantras from negative influences.
 
We have given a course and are continuing to add to it on our website, which is called Spiritual Self-Defense. You can study those lectures which emphasize different practices in order to defend oneself from negative influences corroding our spirituality, or from influencing us in a negative way.
 
Question: How do we distinguish obsessive thoughts from insights from our higher self, soul, inner Being, especially when those thoughts go against our ethics―sexuality or lust?
 
Instructor: The answer is in your question. Your ego does not do anything in accordance with the law, spiritually speaking. Our ego always goes against our ethics. So, if our thoughts and our desires, our mind contradicts the ethical stipulations of any tradition, it means that we are being driven about our own inner Satan, שטן Shaitan in Hebrew, our adversary, our ego, the devil.
 
So, you learn to distinguish real insight when you are not caught up in your desires. You can only distinguish between them when you establish yourself a space within your interior, a calm, serene, ethical state. You cannot distinguish anything if you are giving into your desires. This is the basis of any religion. If you want to learn to have insights from your inner divinity, you need to not act on your ego, your desires, your lustful thoughts. That is the beginning for anyone. It is very difficult because we have so many conditioned states and a lot of desire, but it is possible. Learn to reflect on the qualities of the prophets, the masters, the divine beings, because they can give us inspiration to want to fulfill their ethical codes of conduct.
 
The second part of this question is:
 
Question: Namely do we simply accept our truth, or do we also change it to make ourself better?
 
Instructor: Unfortunately, most of us do not know what the truth is because we have a lot of desires. Most people want to accept their desires at the expense of religion. This is why you find religions today have degenerated. People are basically giving into their preferences and not really looking at the reality of their actions or what the different religious scriptures actually teach. They are adulterating what they taught.
 
So, we cannot just accept our psychological state, because our mind is not reality. It does not see reality. It does not see the truth. We have a lot of desires, preoccupations, preconceptions, and attachments. If what we want is to enter a state of meditation, we need to learn to confront all of that, to accept the fact that we are at fault. By recognizing our own defects, we learn to change them. We do not necessarily make our own egos better by cultivating more intellectualism, sentimentality, or certain ritual observances without comprehension, but instead, it has to do with removing the obstacles that prevent the realization of our own inner Being within us. That is how we purify ourselves.
 
Question: Can you speak about the importance of having a sense of awe and wonder while observing ourselves throughout the day, and the importance of this sense of the consciousness? I notice that when my consciousness is in a more active state, this sense of awe and wonder is present within me.
 
Instructor: Yes, that is a very beautiful statement and question, because when you are really observing yourself, you are seeing life in a new way. You are seeing like a child. You ever watch a child looking at things, being absorbed within the novelty of the moment, within reality, within the joy of being present? That is a psychological state that we need to cultivate whenever we are observing ourselves, when we have consistent and continuous awe, respect for our own inner divinity, because we are seeing life in a new way. We are not caught up in our own mind, clouded and obscured by thought.
 
When you are actively perceiving and remembering yourself, you are cultivating a real inspiration within you, and that is how you know that you are really doing it. You feel joy in the process.
 
Some people, for some reason, they get very upset, overwhelmed, and angry when they are observing themselves and they see such and such defects: “I am so negative,” “I am so evil,” and feel very morbid and repressive. This is wrong. When you are seeing with your consciousness, you feel inspiration and joy―a very different state. Even though you may be afflicted by defects, you still feel that happiness and alert novelty in the moment by following that intuitive state.
 
Question: Do you have any tips for interpreting dreams or visions?
 
Instructor: Yes. We touched up on some points in the Sufi Principles of Meditation, especially in the lecture called Awareness, Unveiling, and Witnessing. We go into some detail about how to interpret dreams and visions. But also, we are going to be giving a course very soon in person and also broadcast the lectures on Dream Yoga and Astral Travel. We are going to go into a lot of depth and many aspects of that science.
 
Question: When sleeping, I would have some vivid or lucid dreams. I would then sometimes have an intense vibration in my ears, extremely tense with an oscillating vibration. I would try to work through that sensation, but it would ultimately just wake me up. I was also afraid every time this occurred. The vibrations were compounding with increasing intensity. Can you provide any insight?
 
Instructor: When you experience any type of psychic perception, psychic sound, or vision, you also must learn not to identify with it. The important thing is that whatever happens in your meditations, or your dream yoga exercises, practices, that whatever occurs, you do not identify with it. Personally, I have experienced many such sounds like you have mentioned: oscillations, and vibrations in the brain. In the beginning I remember being scared of it, obviously. It is unfamiliar. It is unusual. It is strange. It is uncomfortable because we are just not acclimated to that type of transition, in a conscious sense, from the physical world into the internal worlds.
 
When you become more familiar with them and you let them happen without fighting against them or trying to accelerate their process, you let the astral projection and the experiences unfold magically on their own. Eventually, with practice you will get to a point when that happens to you, you get really excited. You realize, “I about to astral project!” and so, you let it happen and you go about your business in the internal worlds.
 
Just be patient. Do not get fearful. Learn to accept what happens. Look at the psychic impressions that emerge, but do not get filled with fear. Instead, comprehend and meditate on your fears that you do not like in those experiences, because the reality is that those type of vibrations are happening all the time when we go to sleep. The reality is that we do not have any awareness of them. When we go to bed, we experience them every night, but we do not really do so with attention or awareness. Let them happen and be patient.
 
Question: So, what is meant to go beyond duality and become one or whole if we keep having this fight against our animal instincts?
 
Instructor: That is a really good question. I like that a lot, because it helps us to understand or to comprehend the different nuances of diverse spiritual philosophies, but also the practical application of those methods. Now when you are observing yourself, there is a type of separation there. When you as a consciousness are looking within your internal psychology and your thoughts, feelings, and body, you need to have a sense of separation as a consciousness. You are learning to look at the different multiplicity of defects that are in you. You can only do that if you are looking within and examining your relationship of your three brains to your environment.
 
Now the reality as religions teach―like in Islam or even in Hinduism that God is one, but expresses as many―the reality is that our consciousness has the potential to be unified and whole, integral. Yet for now, it is dispersed and fractured amongst multiple defects like anger, pride, vanity, fear, lust, laziness, etc. Our consciousness is trapped within those defects.
 
In the process and path of meditation, we are learning to integrate ourselves more and more, just as you integrate your concentration by learning to focus on one thing and not get distracted. In this path, we learn to integrate the soul, so that it can unify with divinity. Therefore, we become a unity, a perfect being.
 
So, the problem with many people who approach these ideas of duality and wholeness really do so from an intellectual standpoint. They are not comprehending that in order to be unified, you need to have an integral consciousness in a practical sense, in the practical dimensions of life.
 
Fighting one’s animal instincts can be a problem for people because in that sense, when you are exerting mental effort to repress your own mind, you are harming yourself. That is a harmful activity. We are not talking about that. When you meditate, you are not repressing your mind. Some people like to think of meditation like that, where you are just fighting your desires with your intellect, your heart. But that is not the real meaning of real spiritual work, spiritual war. It is the consciousness that has to act. The consciousness has to look at each defect and not give in to them or identify with them. But you do not do so by exerting effort, by fighting or repressing your mind. Seeing something that is negative and then feeling shame―that is just the mind battling the mind. That is duality there. That is the dualism that keeps us hypnotized within unconscious, suffering states.
 
If you want to be integral, you really have to be your unity, which is your consciousness, because we still have some consciousness that is available to us. Traditionally, we have 97% ego according to Samael Aun Weor and 3% consciousness. The problem is that 3% tends to stay asleep and inactive. What happens for most people is that giving into one’s desires, that 3% becomes swallowed within the rest of the ego. That is a big problem.
 
Even though we have 3% consciousness, we can still achieve a lot because that is still what remnant we have left of any integrity or unity within us. It is that unity of our soul that has to work and free the rest of the consciousness that is trapped. This process does not involve a dualistic notion of fighting oneself, in the sense that your ego is fighting the ego. That does not work. The consciousness has to understand all the different aspects of our psychology, so that it can integrate everything. It can integrate the shadow, so to speak according to Jungian psychology. Do not create a duality within yourself in the sense that your mind is trying to fight your mind. You can only recognize what is objective and subjective by learning to see with a serene state of mind. Serenity does not require any type of conflict of intellectual concepts. It is a very subtle thing. It is not very easy to apprehend.
 
I recommend to study Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology and Light from Darkness and Spiritual Power of Sound by Samael Aun Weor. He talks a little bit about how the mind cannot fight the mind. Instead, the consciousness must understand and work upon itself.
 
Question: Do we get tested more often as we work more and more, bettering ourselves?
 
Instructor: Yes. You will get challenged by divinity. Divinity is very demanding. You say you want to enter the path of initiation and spirituality. Divinity says, “Prove it.”
 
So if you want to show that you are a very ethical person, you get tests so that those hidden defects will come out of you, so that you can see what you need to work on. We have talked about this extensively in our course The Secret Path of Initiation, which you can study.
 
Question: So we as a physical being have a role in teaching our own soul and not simply manifesting our soul’s desires?
 
Instructor: I would like to provide some clarity regarding the distinction between the soul and desire. We say that our desire is ego. The ego wants. It craves. It needs. It seeks. It strives. It wants to be fed: “my thoughts,” “my pride,” “my anger,” “my fear,” “my gluttony,” “my lust…” That is desire.
 
The soul is not desire, in strict language. I know some people get caught up in semantics, but the soul does not crave anything. It only longs for divinity. It is a different, conscious quality. It aspires to the heights, not out of ambition or pride, but from humility and love.
 
As physical beings and as consciousness within such bodies, we need to basically train ourselves in meditation so that we can work. The one who teaches the soul is the Being, the Innermost, the divine. In the process of meditation, we need to train our body, heart, and mind to work effectively, consciously. The one who teaches you, that is your inner Being, your divine spirit who manifests his intuitions, hunches, and inquietudes within the heart, within our conscience. So, the conscience, intuition, guide us. Our inner judgment guides us in this process, teaches within our heart what we must apply, in terms of these practices, so that we can effectively change.
 
We need to learn to hear that voice, but also act on it. That is what we need to teach ourselves, how to do, because the divinity within us needs us to respond. We have a choice. We can follow our desires, egos, or follow the intuitions of our heart, which is ethical consciousness of Being.
 
Question: Should we be aware of our three brains during the day?
 
Instructor: Absolutely. That is the beginning of self-observation. You learn to examine the contents of your thoughts, your feelings, and your impulses.
 
The Three Brains:
 
  1. Intellectual
  2. Emotional
  3. Motor-Instinctive-Sexual
 
We need to understand how these brains function, how they operate, what their food is, how they process life within these respective machines, so that we can operate and manage our negotiations with the world. You have to learn to observe how your thinking works, how your feelings and your impulses manifest.
 
The important thing is not only just to be aware of your three brains, in a moment that you have anger boiling inside with these negative emotions, thoughts, and desires that harm verbally, or not. The important thing is to be aware of it first, but also to learn how to act consciously within your three brains. Transform the impression that you received.
 
So, the beginning is awareness. A lot of people are already familiar with this within spiritual circles and movements. It is the kindergarten of spirituality. Be aware of where you are at and your states of mind. It is important not to just get stuck there. Being aware does not guarantee that you are going to act ethically. You can be fully aware of yourself while you are committing murder. You can be fully aware as you are stealing something from someone. Having awareness is not enough. Yes, it is the beginning, but if you are investing your awareness within negative psychological states, it means that we are awakening negatively. We are acting in a destructive way.
 
If you really want to curtail that, first be aware, but then learn to act ethically within intuition, with conscience. The more awareness you invest within transforming negative psychological states and responding to life with the highest ethical caliber, you learn to transform the situation and produce happiness for others. That means when you understand how negative thoughts work, you also understand how superior intellectual understanding emerges. You understand and learn how to work with intuitive mind: knowing an answer without having to elaborate with the intellect, with the slow and laborious process of intellectualism, with theories, with ideas. Instead, your mind can receive an insight, intuition, and then you can act with a superior emotion, with love, with compassion. In that way, you are also training your motor-instinctive-sexual brain, not only to be aware, but to know how to respond to the higher centers of your being, because your sexuality and your motor-instinctive qualities, belonging to your spine, operate vertically in relation to the lower parts of your body. So, they are inferior in a sense, but they are also a foundation of how the other centers work.
 
Be aware of these processes, but you also want to integrate the three brains in your actions, because most people, we can become aware that our thoughts are in one direction, our heart is feeling something else, and our body wants to act in another way. That means that we are split in three. We are not integrated. First become aware of that, but then you learn to integrate your self by learning to act consciously, by transforming impressions, by becoming aware of that process, and also making conscious choices of how you drive your human machine.
 
Question: My question is, how to distinguish the voice of the consciousness and that of the mind, emotions, and call to action by the ego? What does it feel like in the body when the consciousness is communicating with one?
 
Instructor: The only one that can really guide you in that is your own meditation. I can relate to you qualities of my own experiences, which could help inspire you and give you some sense of direction, but knowing the voice of divinity is a very difficult thing, especially because we are so hypnotized by many conditions of mind, many problems, many egos. You will know it in your heart by examining yourself and by reflecting on how your behaviors and your tendencies whether lean toward it or against the ethical law of divinity, which is compassion, ahimsa, non-violence, truthfulness, patience, humility, conscious love, chastity.
 
If your inclinations push you to act against those ethics, you can be sure that you are being driven by your own ego. The problem is our defects become very subtle as we are entering this work, because as we study gnosis and meditation, our own defects acquire a mystical flavor, which is very dangerous. The ego adapts to our studies because it does not want to die. Therefore, the ego wears a mystical robe, adorning fornication with a type of spirituality, where the mind tries to justify committing adultery or looking at the opposite sex with lust. One’s mystical logic, so to speak, can be, “I am a spiritual person. I need to appreciate the beauty in other people.” That is some of the logic that people tell themselves. But really, they are just being demons. It is very subtle. It is a good question, because it is not easy to discriminate what is real and what is false. If we had it down perfectly, it would mean that we have no ego. We would be done. But in the process of changing ourselves, we need to learn to be patient.
 
You learn to discriminate the voice of the silence in you gradually, and often after periods of great disillusionment and despair, such as we feel like we are not communicating with our inner God. We feel lost. We feel disoriented. We feel in pain. But suddenly we can get an insight in the moment, an inspiration, a realization that we can do something about our situation. The more that we acclimate ourselves towards that hunch, those inquietudes, those longings, the greater and strong that voice becomes, but the problem is that we tend to just give into our mind. We do not discriminate what is there.
 
The way that you do it is by meditating. That is the only way. Abandon your senses. Suspend them. Relax. Work with energy. Practice pranayama or alchemy. Work with your vital force. Circulate it. Pray to your inner Being, “Show me what I need to understand.” Empty your mind. Observe it and look.
 
The more you look at yourself and take the time to really meditate, the greater the distinction you will find between your conscience and the ego. You will know it like night and day. Right now, because we are so clouded by our own negative behaviors and our distractions, activities in life, we tend to get very lost. The water is churned, and the sediment is spread out everywhere. This is why we need to learn serenity. Sit still. Calm your mind. Act ethically in the day to the best of your ability. You are not going to be perfect, but you will gradually learn it.
 
As you start to acquire serenity in yourself, the sediment of the jar starts to stratify, becoming layers, and then you can see and start to discriminate what is actually going on there. That is the way.
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<![CDATA[Gnostic Mysteries of Chastity]]>Thu, 27 May 2021 05:00:00 GMThttp://chicagognosis.org/lectures/gnostic-mysteries-of-chastity
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Congratulations to the chaste saints. Their souls never condemn them. Having won them, they are never separated from themselves. Congratulations to the spirits of the chaste saints. They have received the perfect heavenly crown from the heavenly sphere assigned to them. Congratulations to the bodies of the chaste saints. They have been deemed worthy to become temples of God, so that Christ may dwell in them. ―Acts of Thomas

What is Chastity? 

For many people, we associate chastity with celibacy, which is the total avoidance of sex. For centuries, many religious organizations have taught us that sex is shameful, that sex should be avoided except in the cases of marriage or to procreate children. For many centuries, this teaching has been propagated that sex is something shameful or dangerous, precisely because of its tremendous power and the sacred nature of the sexual act. It is in sex that we have the power to create life, and God, divinity, also has that power to create life, and has given us the ability to do that through the unity of a man and a woman in sex.
 
We see in sex the principles of creation. There are always three factors involved whenever life is created. There is a masculine principle that is projected. There is a feminine principle that is receptive. Uniting them, there is the holy conciliation, sex, through the Holy Spirit if you are familiar with the Christian teachings.
 
Today’s lecture will be an introduction to the Gnostic mysteries of chastity, and we will be studying a gnostic text, a scripture from almost two thousand years ago called Acts of Thomas in India.
 
This scripture is generally considered to be a teaching of celibacy by many mainstream scholars, and that is because at that time, the true teaching of chastity―how to harness our sexual energy and how to work in the sexual act in accordance with God’s highest commandments―was no taught publicly.
 
For many centuries, sex has been relegated to the private sphere, and what happened in people’s private, sexual lives was not talked about openly. Perhaps it is for this reason that many people have associated sex with shame and fear, but the reality is that sex has a dual potential. It has a potential to bring us into greater suffering, to create pain, for who could deny that sexual abuse, sexual crimes that are committed, are among the most horrible abominable acts that we see today?
 
Sex also has a beautiful potential, a spiritual potential. Chastity is the teaching about how we can use sex and our sexual force in accordance with God’s commandments. Those familiar with Christianity know that two commandments directly concern sex. One of them is that “Thou shall not commit adultery.” We should not have sex with multiple people. That is a commandment from God. The other commandment is “Thou shall not fornicate.” Fornication is the misuse of sex, whether outside of a marriage or within a marriage―if sex is used with impurity, with lust, with desire, for selfish pleasures, in forgetfulness of divinity, which is always present with us―especially in the sexual act when we have that power of creation illuminated.

​The Duality of Sex

​There are two doors related to sex. When we go through the act of sex in one direction―which is what we know about today in our public media, in our television shows, in music―we experience all of the sexual sensations with a tremendous desire. We go around seeking more and more of those sensations. We watch videos. We read articles. We find partners and go to places intending to find sexual partners, and that is the modern idea of sex, that sex is something to be enjoyed.
 
Ever since the sexual liberation movement around the 1960s and 1970s, we had so much public content shared about sex. There has been medical research, lots of movies, television shows, in which, in the very first few moments, you see very graphic content that several decades ago or even just a few years ago would not have been permissible.
 
Sex is unavoidable in our modern culture, and that is why in this teaching of chastity, we have finally been granted access to how to use sex in accordance with God’s law, knowledge that was not given publicly before the 1950s, knowledge that was preserved for centuries and millennia by true initiates of mystery schools, of genuine temples, of religion. Only those who were properly prepared, who had purity of mind and heart, who had willpower and self-control, were able to understand and learn the true secret of chastity: how to perform the sexual act with purity.
 
That is why when we study ancient gospels like Acts of Thomas, we see that sex can be veiled, can be a hidden mystery, something that must be discovered. Anyone who remembers being a child, before they had exposure or had much understanding about sex, it was a great mystery. It was something that, when encountered for the first time, it produced a tremendous reaction and tremendous effect in all of us. Anyone who has experienced some form of sexual trauma can tell you that sex is much more than of mere physical act, that sex is psychological, and has tremendous power to shape our life. Each of us, if we are sincere and examine our psychological relationship with sex, can see that this is an important aspect of life, and sex is a natural part of life. But if that act produces pain or produces joy is truly dependent on the psychological state that we bring to that act. That is why we seek to understand, through scriptures, the mysteries of how to become pure, how to become chaste, and gain all of those rewards that are spoken of regarding the chaste saints that I read earlier from this scripture, Acts of Thomas

​How to Approach Sacred Sexuality

In order to properly approach this teaching today, we have to set aside the concepts, the ideas, even the experiences or preferences that we may have regarding sex, to encounter this teaching with an open mind, for it is a mystery to most of us, a very new teaching to many of us, that has not been heard about before. For those who have never heard of chastity before, it may be surprising. It may be offensive to your ideas about what sex is, and since we have been exposed to a large amount of propaganda in our culture regarding sex, it is difficult to approach it with humility and open-mindedness when we already have strongly held positions and opinions about our sexuality.
 
So, I encourage you to take the mindset of a child, and if you are able to, return to that state of innocence before you had much knowledge of sex, what it really signified, and to have an open mind as you hear this teaching today. For Jesus taught us in the Gospel of Matthew that we must be changed and become as children. Through chastity, we are able to become again like children, like virgins, new to sex. 
And [Jesus] said, “Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” ―Matthew 18:3-4
​If we really want to enter into heaven to know the mysteries of divinity, to experience the bliss of Eden from which we have been cast out by our abuse of sexuality, we must have that innocence, that purity, that humility and reverence of a child when we approach the topic of sex. 
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​Kabbalah and Alchemy: The Heart of Gnostic Christianity

We also need the two esoteric sciences of Gnostic Christianity that allow us to interpret scripture according to the principles of the initiates. People who are initiated into the mystery schools or the highest levels and temples of genuine religion were taught Kabbalah and Alchemy.
 
The first, Kabbalah, is related with the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden, because Kabbalah can unveil to us the mysteries of the universe, of nature, of ourselves. Kabbalah is like a map of divinity, and for those who have not studied it before, I strongly encourage you to study the course on Glorian.org [.
 
This course on Kabbalah relates to the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet and has a corresponding course related to the twenty-two arcana of Tarot. These twenty-two letters and twenty-two arcana of tarot are one in the same, and that each one encodes a spiritual principle, a mystery about our universe, our existence, our spiritual journey, and how we can return to divinity. That code is very deep, and it requires much more study than what I can provide to you today, but we will apply it in a basic way through kabbalistic numerology, to give you an introduction on how we must apply this science to spiritual scriptures.
 
Similarly, Alchemy is essential for understanding scripture and we would be remiss not to apply Alchemy to this particular scripture, Acts of Thomas, for it is an extremely sexual and alchemical text.
 
Alchemy comes from two roots, Al, El, God. אל El is God in Hebrew and Al-, the + ilah, God, الله Allah, “The God” relates to the Arabic name of God. Chem, or Khem is from χυμεία Kimia (Greek), this means “to fuse or to cast metal.” Those of us who are familiar with the tradition of Alchemy from medieval times will understand why they encoded Alchemy through symbols of converting lead into gold, that one must take a very heavy, dense, and dark material and transform it through a scientific procedure into gold, the most pure and rarified and noble of the metals. That science encodes how we can use sex, as a procedure, through which we can convert the base lead of our personality, of our corrupted psychology, into the pure gold of the spirit, and give birth to Christ within our own physical body.
 
It is very important to understand Alchemy was written in code and that the masters who wrote about it, just like the great masters of all religions, kept the sexual teaching hidden, so it would not be abused by people who approached it with ambition, with pride, with lust, with little spiritual understanding. Only now, because our society has become so open, because we have entered the era of Aquarius where sexual liberation is abundant, we are able to speak publicly about mysteries which were never revealed to the profane.
 
Though Alchemy, sexual Alchemy, we are able to fuse ourselves with divinity. Alchemy is the science to fuse the human soul with Christ, God, divinity. Christ is a principle, a force, an energy, an intelligence that is permeating every atom of life in our universe. Christ is far beyond one terrestrial person, but Christ has the ability to manifest physically in our world through a properly prepared individual. That is why Jesus Christ, the greatest master this planet has ever known, is given that title of Christ, because he was incarnating Christ into the physical world, so that infinite force of love, compassion, and wisdom could teach humanity how to live in accordance with the laws that divinity has set into our nature―laws like chastity, which forbid fornication and forbid adultery, so that sex can only be used in purity, in accordance with divinity, in mindfulness of the divine nature of that sacrament. 
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Mystical Geography in the Acts of Thomas

​So, in order to understand the basics of these two sciences―Kabbalah relating to the Tree of Life and Alchemy relating to the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden―we will study the location of this scripture.
 
Acts of Thomas in India is about an apostle, Judas Thomas, who is sent on a mission to India. While scholars generally accept that this was truly a real man who traveled to the actual location of India around the Indus river, in that region at that time, establishing Christian churches, we must also know that this text is symbolic. It encodes a greater truth, a spiritual truth, a secret, a mystery, hidden in its symbols.
 
The first symbol is India because India is far more than a literal place in this scripture. India indicates the setting or the environment in which this apostle is going to bring his teaching, the teaching of Christ, the teaching of chastity. This is why we need to analyze India in accordance with Kabbalah, this divine science that can help us to understand the nature of God and also the path to return to divinity.
 
In Hebrew the word for India is הֹדּוּ Hodu. הֹדּוּ Hodu is written with three Hebrew letters. The first is ה Hei, the second is ד Daleth, the third is ו Vav. Just observing the shape of the symbols of these letters, we can see already a hint of their spiritual significance. In the letter ה Hei, we see a shape of a womb, a uterus. That is because ה Hei represents femininity, the divine feminine, and also the physical feminine body and sexual organs. At the end of this word, we see ו Vav. ו Vav is a phallic symbol resembling an erect penis. For that reason, we can understand that on either side of this word, we have the man and the woman present. Uniting this man and woman is ד Daleth, which has the shape of a door. ד Daleth means “door” in Hebrew.
 
Sex can be referred to as the door to Eden, and it is also the door out of Eden through the abuse of sex. We lose the ability to remain in union with Christ, with God. We lose our bliss, for עֵדֶן Eden means “bliss” in Hebrew.
 
That is why initially in this gospel, Acts of Thomas, the apostle is a bit reluctant to travel to the place where he is assigned, because India is not literally a place he is reluctant to go, but symbolically it signifies sex, that door which is so treacherous and can lead us back to God, but it can also expel us away from God and separate us from God if sex is abused. That is why we see this quote from Samael Aun Weor in his book Tarot and Kabbalah:
…within sex is a major force that can liberate the human being, but also a major force that can enslave the human being.” ―Samael Aun Weor, Tarot and Kabbalah
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Tarot, Kabbalah, and the Hebrew Letters

For those familiar with Tarot, you can see the symbol of the fifteenth arcanum, Passion, commonly referred to as the devil. The fifteenth arcanum relates to the Hebrew letter ס Samech, the serpent biting its tail.
 
That cycle of passion is what can enslave us and convert us unto devils. If we see an attractive person walking by, we may be compelled to act a certain way around them and talk a certain way around them. We may obsess about that person, or conversely, we may try to repress that force and avoid that person, avoid thinking about them. But either way we know that sexual potency is a major force that has an impact on us psychologically, regardless of if we try to indulge it or repress it. It shapes us, and very few are those human beings who can truly master and command their sexual force.
 
Sex is also the key to liberating us, and that is what Thomas will teach us in this Gospel.
 
The reason why we can relate the Arcanum 15 with India, esoterically speaking, is because the kabbalistic addition of the three letters in the word India: ה Hei, being the fifth letter in the Hebrew alphabet, corresponds with the number five; ד Daleth, being the fourth, corresponds with the number four; and ו Vav corresponds with six as the sixth letter in the Hebrew alphabet. In Kabbalah we know that there is an esoteric significance to the sum total of any number given in a scripture. When we add 5 + 4 + 6, we receive the kabbalistic sum of 15, the devil.
 
Judas Thomas of Acts of Thomas has the challenging task of going to the realm of the devil in order to convert the people there, who are confused about sex and sexuality, through many interesting parables about sex, back to chastity, so they can become chaste saints, disciples of Christ. 
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​Alchemical Symbolism of the Indus River and Date Palm Tree 

​Through the study of Alchemy, we can also examine the symbol of India, which relates to the Indus River, a river which gave tremendous life to that region and continues to give tremendous life to that region.
 
The Indus River in Sanskrit: सिन्धु Sindhu, “a large body of water; river, ocean,” derived from Cintu: date palm tree. For those who have studied the course on Kabbalah and Alchemy, they will know immediately that water, especially bodies of water like rivers and oceans, correspond with the sexual force, especially the sexual force in relationship with the Divine Mother, for it is the waters of the womb which create life. The sexual waters of the woman bring life and also the sexual waters of the man, semen, also give life. That is the alchemical significance of water when we see it mentioned in the scriptures, the waters of life.
 
However, it is important to know that water can also bring destruction, and that is why through the floods of Noah, humanity was destroyed for their crimes, for their vices. This is a dual symbol. Sex can bring life and it can destroy life, depending on how it is used.
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This teaching is seen very clearly in the Qur’an. The word Sindhu is derived from “Cintu,” date palm tree and date palms, which were abundant in the Middle Eastern region, are sometimes considered to be the true tree in the Garden of Eden―not an apple tree, but a date palm from which Adam and Eve ate, and that is a very sexual symbol. That is why that is the tree related with Alchemy, the science of fusing oneself with God through sacred sexuality.
 
In Surah 16:67 in the Qur’an, we see that the date palm is mentioned along with grapevines. Grapes are another sexual symbol, which is why Jesus performed his first miracle at a wedding, and that miracle was to convert water into wine. We see the relationship here, that water is our potential, and if that water is transformed, it can become the spiritual wine of the soul at a wedding, where two are married. That is the same symbol as converting the lead―the impure sexuality, slowly through a process of gentle heat, through a scientific method―into the gold of the purified spirit and soul. 
And from the fruits of date palm trees and grapevines you derive intoxicants as well as wholesome provision. Surely in this is a sign for those who understand. ―Quran 16:67
Who are the people with spiritual understanding? They are the initiates: the ones with spiritual ears and eyes who can hear and see the mysteries that are hidden behind in the scripture. In this mystery, so beautifully presented to us in the Holy Qur’an, is that from sex, we can see intoxication, obsession, addiction, lust, desire, that has no satiation. We can also see wholesome provision: the ability to bring life, not only physical life of a child, but also spiritual life to regenerate ourselves. 
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​The date palm, interestingly, the date resembles the testes, the male sexual organ. The date is considered a sacred food in Islam. We can see why that is sacred, just as our sexual seed is sacred. The sexual water must be conserved, transformed, transmuted through the science of Alchemy.

​Harnessing the Sexual Force

That is precisely the science that Samael Aun Weor, the founder of the Gnostic tradition, unveiled in the 1950s in his book, The Perfect Matrimony. As today’s lecture is only an introduction into the Gnostic mystery of chastity, I strongly encourage you to read this book, which can be read for free online on Glorian.org or purchased from any bookseller. In this book, Samael Aun Weor extensively teaches us the science of sexual Alchemy, chastity, and also pranayama or transmutation for single persons, who are not yet married and need the science by which they can still harness that sexual force for themselves.
 
For single people, it is important to note that they can conserve their sexual energy and must transmute it every day through practices like pranayama, which you can read about in the book The Perfect Matrimony. If one conserves their sexual energy but represses it, does not transform that energy, one could become a very troubled person. We have seen that the celibacy, the total avoidance of sex, is harmful. It produces psychological imbalances, and in some cases has led to sexual crimes. We do not advocate celibacy in this teaching, but chastity does require that an unmarried person abstain from sex. Until we are married, we should be transmuting that energy, working with prayer, mantra, pranayama, so that force is continually flowing through our body and allowing us to unite with divinity.
 
If we lose that force through the vices such as masturbation, we lose our connection to divinity. That is why many feel shame after orgasm, for they know that they have lost something valuable. Yes, on a physical level we can lose thousands of sperm, but for men and women orgasm is harmful, more importantly on a spiritual and energetic level, because the orgasm produces a short circuit in the physical and energetic bodies and destroys those bodies. The orgasm not only affects us energetically and physically, but also spiritually, in that when we expel that sacred substance from our bodies, we are losing the very force of God, the creator within us. That is why we become blind, deaf, and lame, spiritually speaking. That is why when most of us sit to meditate or pray, we see black. We hear nothing because we are dead inside, spiritually speaking, because we have lost the very force of life and creation within our own body. 
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​Spiritual Creation is Sexual

Samael Aun Weor states:
The sexual act is the real consubstantiation of love in the tremendous psycho-physical reality of our Nature. ―Samael Aun Weor, The Perfect Matrimony
​Consubstantiation in Christian terms relates to the teaching that the bread and wine of the Holy Eucharist, the Holy Communion, is simultaneously one with the body and blood of Jesus Christ. Con represents “together,” substantiation: substance―they are one substance together, simultaneously. That is the teaching in mainstream Christianity, but Samael Aun Weor taught from an esoteric standpoint and is pointing out that in a psychological and physical reality, sex unites us with divinity.
 
Psychologically and physically, we must be pure. We must maintain that sexual energy within our body and transform it in accordance with God’s guidance, the teachings of chastity. That is the real consubstantiation in which we are simultaneously a human and divine. 
Something is created when a man and a woman unite sexually. ―Samael Aun Weor, The Perfect Matrimony
In the sexual act when man and woman unite, something is created. What is created? Of course, we know that a physical child can be created when a man and woman unite sexually, and there is a mystery in which one sperm and one egg are needed to create a pure physical child. That is a mystery for another lecture, the mystery of Immaculate Conception, but you can read about it in The Yellow Book by Samael Aun Weor if you are interested in learning more about it.
 
What else is created when we unite sexually? Well, if we reflect on our lives, what have we seen created through sex? We may see some happy marriages, although these are becoming fewer. We have seen much pain created by sex, suffering. That is because mankind has not been taught how to use sex appropriately. Mankind has been taught how to abuse sex, how to indulge in sex, how to go around seeking the next sensations or have multiple partners and masturbate―all kinds of sexual vices which corrupt our psychology. These vices do not just harm our physical body. They harm us psychologically. They create imbalances. They create addictions. They create lunacy. Some of the worst sexual crimes are committed by lunatics who have zero control over their sexual force.
 
Sexuality must be properly understood so that we can use it in balance with divinity. This is a great mystery that can only be known through experience. Anyone who has experienced the suffering, the heartbreak, the loss and sorrow of lust, can understand that there is one doorway that we can pass through with sex that brings an emptiness, a longing that is never fulfilled. Many people believe in the promise of love, of sex as love, but do not know how to bring real love into the sexual act. Love must be brought not only for our spouse and our partner, with selflessness, sacrificing our own selfish desires for that act, but out of love, union with our partner.
 
Love must also involve divinity. Where divinity is not present, there is not love. Christ, God, divinity is love. If you are performing the sexual act or sexual behaviors without divinity, there is no love present there. We need to understand that the very potential for our own heart to love our spouse, to love humanity, to love our children, the potential in our own heart is the spark of divinity. The one who loses their sexual forces, their sexual energies, and their sexual substance, loses that ability to love. That is why lust for the pleasure it can bring, in the short term, never materializes with that eternal happiness that it seems to promise.
 
People spend their whole lives believing that chasing sex will somehow bring them that happiness, will bring them to love. But it is not sex alone which brings us to love. We must bring love to sex, through our inner union with divinity. That is why chastity does not begin just in the sexual union with a partner. Alchemy begins with us, with our willingness to purify our minds and hearts, to become as children, to go sincerely and humbly unto God, and to learn these mysteries from our inner divinity. Divinity will teach you much about chastity and sexual Alchemy if you are open in your heart, in your mind, if you are pure, if you have set aside your pride which thinks it already understands sexuality, that it already knows what sex is about. You allow God to teach you God’s divine mystery of sex. You will see that on the other side of that door that there is a tremendous abundance of sacred mystery that we have barely begun to understand through our modern, contemporary notions about sex.

​The Prerequisites of Sexual Alchemy

​So, how does one practice sexual Alchemy with their partner? For those of us who are married, what is the practice of chastity? How do we engage in this sexual act, but do it with purity and do it with full meditative awareness of the presence of divinity?
 
Samael Aun Weor gives the full teaching about that in The Perfect Matrimony, but just to read a little bit for you today from that book―in relationship to a man and a woman, sexually united and experiencing all the bliss of that union―he states the following: 
If man and woman would know how to withdraw without the spasm, if in those moments of delightful enjoyment they would have the willpower to control the animal ego, and if at that point they would retire from the sexual act without ejaculating the semen (neither inside the womb, nor outside of it or to the side of it, nor in any other place) they would have then performed an act of Sexual Magic. This is what is called in occultism the Arcanum A. Z. F.
 
With the Arcanum A. Z. F., we can retain all that marvelous light, all those cosmic currents, all those divine powers. Then, Kundalini, the Sacred Fire of the Holy Ghost, awakens in us and we become terribly divine Gods.
 
However, when we ejaculate the semen, the cosmic currents merge with the universal currents and then penetrate the souls of the two beings with a bloody light, the luciferic forces of evil, fatal magnetism. Then, Cupid leaves crying The gates of Eden are locked; love becomes disillusionment. Disenchantment arrives and the black reality of this valley of tears is all that remains. ―Samael Aun Weor, The Perfect Matrimony, “The Son of Man"
​God has created a door for us, a door in physical nature through which we can enter Eden, into bliss, or through which we can leave it. Meditate on your experiences with sex. Become prayerful and sincere and see if sex has really brought you lasting happiness, or if you have been abusing that act, forgetting divinity, forgetting love, and if that is the case, then you will understand when he states Cupid leaves crying. Cupid relating to the god Eros, the god of love, one in the same mystery of Christ in the Greek mysteries.
 
Eros leaves us when we orgasm, men and women. Although women may not lose any physical substance through the orgasm, they are losing tremendous substance energetically and spiritually, and that can be seeing through clairvoyance. Orgasm separates us from love and locks us out of heaven. We must become pure like children, like chaste virgins, as we enter into the sexual act every time remaining pure, bringing love for our spouse and love for divinity.
 
If we break this law of nature and we fornicate through orgasm―orgasm and fornication are one in the same, regardless if we are in a marriage or not―we will in the long run experience tremendous suffering because we are losing our connection to divinity. Divinity is what really brings us happiness. Through sex, we strengthen our union with divinity if it is performed with purity, prayer, and love.
 
Before we can perform sacred sexuality, sexual Alchemy with a partner, we have to establish that covenant with our own inner divinity by establishing purity within ourselves. We begin this practice as animals, filled with animal lust and desire, but through willpower, through constant application, we are refining this act and refining our own psychology, meditating on the evils that exist within our own heart, the selfishness, the pride, the greed, the lust, the desires that are never happy, that are never satisfied.
 
How do we free ourselves from that? How do we liberate ourselves from that? It is through sex, working with Kundalini, which is the mystery of the Divine Mother who controls those sexual waters and allows us to become free, to become washed and purified by those waters, if we keep those waters within our body.
 
When we lose that spiritual water, we become inhabited. We open that doorway for evil forces to come into our body. Sex is the original sin, because sex with fornication opened the gates of Eden and expelled us out of union with divinity. Sex is called the original sin, but sex with purity is salvation and redemption of mankind.
 
Acts of Thomas is about many, many individuals who are suffering from the misuse of sex. Today we are only going to talk a little bit about Act I, “The Wedding Feast of the King’s Daughter,” but if you read this scripture, you will see again and again that people are committing sexual crimes, that people are being tormented by sexual demons, that sex is prevalent through out this act. That is why Kabbalistically and esoterically speaking, India symbolizes sex, the perilous nation in which people are afflicted by sexual impurities, just like each one of us.
 
Whether we have had sex or not, each of us should examine our relationship to sex, our sexual behaviors, our psychological relationship to sex, and ask ourselves if it is pure. Many who fear sex just want to avoid it, never want to think about it, want to repress it, want to be celibate. But that is a false door, because the celibate person never goes anywhere. They never grow. The chaste person, even if they are single, is growing through their own sexual force or through the union of masculine and feminine forces in the sexual act. But the celibate person who refuses to transform that energy, who tries to ignore it and runs away from it, is lying to themselves. Sex is an essential part of nature and human experience. Sex is an essential aspect of our spiritual journey, because without sex, we have no power to get out of the current state that we are in and we have no power to reunite with divinity. 
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​Building the Temple of God

So, we need to preserve those sexual energies, which are continually coming into our body from above, from our Divine Father and our Divine Mother. We need to preserve those energies, transform them, and use them to build the temple of God in our own bodies. That is why Thomas goes to India, to build a palace for a King. The true king is God. The palace is the temple. The temple of our body can become a palace, a temple of God, but only if we meet God’s requirements, just as divinity demands that there is purity of heart and spirit in the sexual act. That is what we need to understand. If we do not meet the prerequisite, this is the law of nature that states that sex expels you from Eden, or it brings you back into Eden. Sex abuse separates you from God. Sex performed with purity and chastity reunites you with God. That is the law of nature. That is not an idea that someone just made up. That is a law written into nature, and we can experience it, work with it, and verify it directly through our experience.
 
Judas Thomas unwillingly gets sold by Jesus, his master, as a slave, so that he is forced to go to India, sold as a slave who will build a palace for a King in India. Before he is able to build this palace, he is compelled to attend a wedding feast for the local king’s daughter. Why does he have to attend a wedding feast before he can build a palace? Spiritually speaking, this is symbolic. The wedding feast, the consummation of marriage, the sexual act, is the prerequisite through which the temple of God can be built, truly, to create a vessel into which Christ, that profound, tremendous power of wisdom and love, can actually incarnate within a human body. Those vessels are created through sex. That is the only way that anything nature is created. That is why Thomas and Jesus as his twin teach the mystery of chastity in the bridal chamber. 
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​The Teaching in the Bridal Chamber

​When they are teaching this, Jesus appears to the young couple in the form of Judas Thomas, and they are surprised because Judas Thomas has just left the room after blessing them and praying for them. They asked, “How is it possible that you are still in the room?” and Jesus explains to them that he is not the physical man Judas Thomas, that he is Christ.
 
This again is symbolic. Thoma means “twin.” Thomas is “twin,” the twin of Christ. The physical apostle is the vessel in which Christ manifests and gives that gospel to humanity. Jesus was a literal person, but symbolically, looking at this symbol, we see that Jesus is representing the force of Christ because this gospel takes place after Jesus had died and resurrected. His spirit comes through the vessel of Thomas, his physical apostle, to teach the mystery of chastity.
 
So, what does Jesus teach in the bridal chamber? Acts of Thomas says that Jesus taught the following to the young couple:
Remember, my children, what my brother spake unto you and what he delivered before you: and know this, that if ye abstain from this foul intercourse, ye become holy temples, pure, being quit of impulses and pains, seen and unseen, and ye will acquire no cares of life or of children, whose end is destruction… But if ye be persuaded and keep your souls chaste before God, there will come unto you living children whom these blemishes touch not, and ye shall be without care, leading a tranquil life without grief or anxiety, looking to receive that incorruptible and true marriage, and ye shall be therein groomsmen entering into that bride-chamber which is full of immortality and light. ―Acts of Thomas
Modern scholars who know nothing, who have never been initiated into the deepest genuine mysteries of spiritual teachings, always interpret this scripture as advocating for celibacy, total abstinence form sex. In reality, this scripture very obviously indicates that sex is important, and Jesus spends the whole night there in that bridal chamber with the couple. What happens in that bridal chamber is not explicitly stated in this gospel, for at that time it was forbidden to give this knowledge publicly to the profane, to people who were not properly prepared, who could not handle working with sex in this way.
 
We see that Jesus is talking about two marriages here. One marriage of foul intercourse, the lustful marriage which brings impulses and pains, seen and unseen. Physical pain, yes, it can bring physical illnesses to us, karmically speaking, in the long term, but also unseen impulses and pain, those addictions, psychological imbalances, the madness that comes when sex is out of control and abused. The other marriage that he mentions is the incorruptible and true marriage, the bride chamber, which is full of immortality and light. When we practice chastity and we are meditating and we are awakening our spiritual senses, our spiritual eyes, we can see the light penetrating around and through our physical bodies. We can see that divinity is present. Angels are present, observing and guiding that sacred sexual act. It is a holy sacrament, and for those who work with it, they can verify this in their experience, but the prerequisite is purity.
 
You will never reach the heights of this chastity of this teaching if you are orgasming. If you are losing that sacred energy, even jus now and then, you will never be able to build the temple of God, because it is a law of nature that is required. That is the substance through which the Divine Mother can build a vessel for God within us. Only a fool would spend so much time, effort, and discipline to build a beautiful temple and go in with a sledgehammer and start breaking down the walls, destroying it, and then decide to go back and rebuild it again. We will never get anywhere if we are going back and forth. We must obey the law. We must work with sex. It is absolutely essential, but we must work in accordance with God’s commandments, which forbid fornication. They forbid orgasm and forbid adultery. The person who tries to practice this with many partners will also get nowhere. Love must be present, genuine love that grows and grows and grows as we continue to practice with our spouse, love for our spouse and love for divinity. Love is the substance of divinity and divinity leaves the adulterer. 

​The Response of the Bride

Although, the sexual act is not explicitly discussed or written down in this scripture, it is clear to us that a marriage has taken place, that Jesus spent an evening with the young couple teaching them and guiding them in the sexual act. We know that something has happened, because the next day the bride and groom are radically transformed. In fact, when the king and queen come down to see their daughter and her new husband, they are shocked, very surprised to see that she has removed her veil, which is called the “garment of shame” in those times, which the woman would wear to hide her shame after having sex. They come down and they ask her and her husband, “Why do you look so happy? Why are you not ashamed? Is it because that you are in such great love with each other that you are not ashamed?” They are shocked because they have never seen a couple come out of the sexual act with a happiness and joy that pervades them in this way, in this level of transformation. So, the bride, the daughter, responds to her parents and says this:
Verily, father, I am in great love, and I pray my Lord that the love which I have perceived this night may abide with me, and I will ask for that husband of whom I have learned today: and therefore I will no more veil myself, because the mirror (veil) of shame is removed from me; and therefore am I no more ashamed or abashed, because the deed of shame and confusion is departed far from me; and that I am not confounded, it is because my astonishment hath not continued with me; and that I am in cheerfulness and joy, it is because the day of my joy hath not been troubled; and that I have set at naught this husband and this marriage that passes away from before mine eyes, it is because I am joined in another marriage; and that I have had no intercourse with a husband that is temporal, whereof the end is with lasciviousness and bitterness of soul, it is because I am yoked unto a true husband [Christ]. ―Response of the Bride, Acts of Thomas
There are many symbols of Alchemy in the bride’s response in this scripture, but even to the uninitiated we can see very clearly that she has experienced, through this teaching, joy, happiness, and is beginning to enter into the true marriage, the marriage of Christ.
 
Many of us are seeking for temporary pleasure when we are lustful. We are seeking after physical sensations, physical experiences. That is temporal and passes away. That leads to lasciviousness and bitterness of soul. But chastity, chaste sexual union, is actually uniting the husband and wife with their inner divinity. The divinity of the wife, the divinity of the husband become one, and that is why it is not a marriage with a spouse that is temporal―not just a union of the physical bodies, but really the union of the immortal souls. That is why there are two marriages: one marriage that is temporary and passes away when the physical body dies, and another marriage through which the souls of the husband and wife become one with the spirit, with Christ. They are re-establishing, rebuilding that bridge, that connection that guides us back to God. That is what gives us conscience. That is what gives us insight, intuition, guidance, visions, dreams that are prophetic. All of that is established through working with our sexual potential, because sex is what can reunite us with God, just as it has separated us from our inner divinity through its abuse. 

​The Response of the Groom 

​Personally, I prefer the response of the groom even more because the groom, as we can see in his response, is someone like many of us who has been confused, who has been taught many ideas, corruption, impurity, and suffering. We can hear in this response from the groom so much gratitude for how sex has guided him back to his true nature, his soul, reunion with divinity and real love for Christ. In Acts of Thomas, the groom states: 
I give thee thanks, O Lord, that hast been proclaimed by the stranger [Judas Thomas], and found in us [Christ within us]; O’ Lord who hast removed me far from corruption and sown life in me; who hast rid me of this disease that is hard to be healed and cured and abides forever, and hast implanted sober health in me [chastity]; who hast shown me thyself and revealed unto me all my state wherein I am; who hast redeemed me from falling and led me to that which is better, and set me free from temporal things and made me worthy of those that are immortal and everlasting; that hast made thyself lowly even down to me and my littleness, that thou mayest present me unto thy greatness and unite me unto thyself; […] hast shown me how to seek myself and know who I was, and who and in what manner I now am, that I may again become that which I was: whom I knew not, but thyself did seek me out: of whom I was not aware, but thyself hast taken me to thee: whom I have perceived, and now am not able to be unmindful of him: whose love burns within me… ―Response of the Groom, Acts of Thomas
That is Christ. The disease that is hard to be healed and cured is lust, abuse of sex. We see that there is so much addiction, especially to pornography that is extremely hard to be healed. It leads people to lunacy, suffering, pain, to have affairs, to throw away their marriage. That disease can be healed by Christ. That is a tremendous source of hope. This teaching allows us to change no matter how fallen we are. Even if we are a prostitute, we can be saved through chastity, through being purified and washed by the waters of our Divine Mother. It is an incredible power, a sacrament that should be approached with tremendous respect and humility. Most of us approach sex with impurity, selfishness, disgusting desires, and that is why we hurt ourselves, other people, and that is why we see so much pain and suffering in our society, so much abuse of sex, abuse of children, sexual assault, and rape. Mankind has not been taught how to control his sexual force, and that is because sexuality is so powerful that only the properly prepared have been taught this teaching.
 
Now, frankly speaking, we are in a society, in a time, in which the abuse of sex has become so great that there is really no other option than to give this openly with the hope that maybe a few people will have enough willpower, sincerity, humility, and genuine love for divinity to be able to accomplish this very difficult feat of chastity and sexual Alchemy. It is not easy. It is very demanding, but the rewards are infinite, eternal rewards, the ability to know your God again. We see here that the groom says he knew not God, he knew not Christ, but Christ sought him out. He was not aware of Christ, but Christ took him back to divinity through sex, sacred sexuality.
 
This is just an introduction today to a really deep mystery, and for those who really want to experience this, I encourage you to study a lot, to prepare yourself through meditation, meditating on lust everyday, because with this sexual force, you will have the power of the Divine Mother working within you, and that power can destroy your lust, your greed, your anger, your envy, your hatred, your pride. That is the power of chastity, to regenerate the human being, to purify the human being, to restore the spiritual sense of the soul, so that we can see and hear divinity again, and always be mindful of divinity because divinity will burn like love within us.
 
If we abuse this teaching, if we abuse sex, those waters will drown us. If we pollute those waters with impurity, and we try to work this practice, it will create nothing but extreme suffering for us and the people around us. So, prepare yourself properly, because the groom you are seeking to unite with is Christ. 
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​Christ: The Groom and the Church

​Christ is an infinite beauty, power wisdom, and love. Christ is the force that animates and gives life to every atom in this universe. That is why in Acts of Thomas, the apostle states:
If man loved God as much as they love one another, they would ask of him all things and receive them, and there would be nothing which would not obey them. ―Acts of Thomas, 128:9
If we love God, if we love Christ, that force of divinity, as much as we love our spouse―which hopefully we love our spouse, because nowadays mankind does not seem to love each other as much as we have the potential too―if we loved God, with the strongest intensity, with which we loved another person, then we would have the power to reunite with God through this sexual practice. Love is sexual. Eros, the god of love through the Greek mysteries, representing the force of Christ, is erotic love. Those two are intertwined. That is why the teaching was given to us in the Bible by Paul of Tarsus―relating to Christ and the church, the church being the Ecclesia―called out the ones called forth to the assembly, the congregation. The church is not as the physical building, but the church as the community of the followers of Christ who become the physical vessels in which Christ acts and performs his miracles, manifests, and gives his teachings to humanity―through his apostles, through those who work with this science to purify themselves, to create a vessel that can withstand that tremendous energy of Christ within it. That is why in this teaching in Ephesians, Paul of Tarsus, directly relates the love of Christ, the union with Christ, to the relationship between husband and wife. It is one in the same mystery. If engage in the sexual act, we renounce orgasm, and we bring the presence of divinity, prayer, and love into that act, that is the path to God. Paul wrote:
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.” ―Paul of Tarsus, Ephesians 5:25-32
So, we see here that when a man and a woman unite, they become one flesh, one flesh with each other, one flesh with divinity, if we are without blemish, if we have been washed by those waters, if we are holy. The church are the true apostles, the true followers of Christ.
 
There are many people, many organizations that claim to be the true church of Christ, but we should examine ourselves: are we a temple of God? Are we the physical body through which God can perform his will? Or are we filled with selfish desires, self-will, egotism? Are we motivated by the guidance we are receiving internally from divinity and acting in ways that help humanity, that heal humanity, that brings happiness unto us and others, and that help us to reunite with God? Are we giving that teaching of Christ? Or are we teaching spiritual things out of vanity, out of pride, out of ambition and seeking for power? Or are we just totally living a life divorced from God, totally about me, myself, and what I want?
 
Maybe we say spiritual things when we are in public streets, and then when we go into the bedroom and whatever happens there, well, that is not of God’s business, we think.  We are fools if we think that God does not see especially that which has happened when we are working with the force of creation, with the power to give life in our own bodies. That is the moment when God is most present and our Divine Mother weeps when we lose and abuse that force.
 
If you work with this teaching, if you work with this practice, I promise you that you will begin awakening consciousness then you will see, with tremendous shame, the pain that we have brought to divinity and to other people through lust. So much of the suffering in this world has been the direct result of uncontrolled lust, a lack of willpower, indulgence in lust. That is it. There are many other problems, but lust is the root because in lust we have lost the connection with divinity. We have lost our conscience, which guides us to perform what is right in God’s eyes. You know we truly learn from within from our conscience what is good and what is evil, what is constructive and what is destructive. We can read it in a book, in the commandments. The ethical precepts of all great religions are wonderful starting places, and are necessary. We should be following those to purify our psychology, but the real teaching of right and wrong comes in each moment, in the presence of Christ, of divinity within us.
 
But we have to be awakened. We have to have spiritual sight and hearing to interpret those messages. It is one thing to receive a message, to have a powerful dream for example, but if we are foolish and our mind is out of balance, if we are totally controlled by selfish wishes, then we are going to interpret that dream according to our ego, according to our egotism, “What do I want that dream to mean?” Then that spiritual value, that gift that has been given to us, is lost.
 
So, if we want to become the bride of Christ, we have to work very hard with ourselves. Sexual Alchemy is important. Union with a spouse is important. But merely doing this practice with a spouse without any purity, without any love of divinity, without any love of our spouse, is not going to be enough. We should be the bride of Christ, because our physical body can be that receptive vehicle which can receive that projective force of Christ. The spirit can come down into the womb of our physical body and grow, be developed, and channel light here in this physical world, which needs the light of Christ, the teachings, and the presence of Christ more than ever. Because so few people are capable of this, each of us should hold this duty, this obligation to work on ourselves, to purify ourselves, to work with this practice with respect, with humility, to follow the will of our inner God. Humanity needs it now more than ever.
 
We see again Paul of Tarsus teaching us this mystery, that we as the souls of men can become betrothed or married to Christ, that divine spirit. Paul wrote:
For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. ―Paul of Tarsus, 2 Corinthians 11:2
​How does one become a virgin? Through virility, through virtue, through chastity. Humanity has fallen, but we can be redeemed. We can be purified. We can become again virginal, virginal bodies, virginal minds, virginal hearts, virginal souls, through chastity, through working with Christ, reading those scriptures, learning Kabbalah, learning Alchemy, studying this, doing these practices, transmuting every day, whether single or in a marriage, finding a way to work with that energy and meditating on our defects to destroy them, and performing good works and sacrifices that help humanity, even in small ways, helping people around us, not for our benefit, not for our pride, not for our ambition, but out of love, because Christ is love.
 
If you think of the moment in your life, or the time when you felt the strongest love for another human being, that is Christ―a small taste of Christ. As we work with chastity, we enliven that force. We bring that fire to life in our hearts, the fire of love. The sexual fire becomes pure and it brings us power, but the power of God, power that can only be granted if we are obeying the laws of god.
 
Again, I recommend for those who want to learn more about this sacred mystery of chastity and are interested in applying it as a way to regenerate their souls, return to God, and receive that inner guidance within, to read the book The Perfect Matrimony by Samael Aun Weor. Study Alchemy. Study Kabbalah. We have a tremendous gift that this teaching is being given publicly for humanity. People for centuries would risk their lives, would dedicate years, decades, in preparation in the temples to receive this mystery, and it is being given to us because we so desperately need it, and because without it, well, we already know the direction that our society is going. We are not progressing. We are crumbling. If that is the outcome we are already headed for, then we have nothing to lose by working with chastity, by applying it, by dedicating ourselves to it.
 
If your sexual behavior has brought you nothing but pain in life, then sacrifice it. Give it up and try this practice. Work with chastity, and see directly, in your experience, the tremendous results that you can receive through consistent, dedicated practice. You will be transformed. You can be purified. You can become converted like a child. There is tremendous power in sexual Alchemy.
 
So, let us conclude from one final verse from Acts of Thomas:
It is particularly fitting for you to live in holy chastity, for that is favored in God’s eyes and it leads to eternal life. It is the capital city of all good things in the eyes of God. Those who don’t compete in Christ’s stadium won’t receive the prize of holy chastity. Holy chastity was revealed by God: it destroys sexual immorality, overturns the enemy and pleases God, for it is an unconquered athlete, having honor from God and esteemed by many. It is the ambassador of peace, proclaiming peace; if anyone acquires it, that person remains carefree, pleasing the Lord, expecting the time of redemption. It does nothing improper but affords life, rest, and joy to all who acquire it. ―Acts of Thomas 85:3-8
​If you have any questions, please write them in the chat box. 

​Questions and Answers

Question: How can a single person before marriage identify if a partner would commit to a sex life without orgasm?
 
Instructor: That is a wonderful question. I will let you know that I know many Gnostic practitioners in this teaching who work with chastity with a spouse who does not practice chastity. So, it is possible that we can purify ourselves and unite with divinity by working in the sexual act if there is love in that marriage. Obviously, that has its challenges, right? So, be mindful of it, but if you are performing the law of God, if you are obeying and are chaste, then you will be able to achieve union with your inner divinity, with Christ through sexual Alchemy. The forces are present there. The masculine, the feminine, the Holy Spirit of sex is present there. God can come to you if you are prepared. Of course, your spouse might not like that. That is your karma. That is your situation. That is what God has given you, and so you have to consider very carefully before marriage, is love really present there in that relationship? Or is it desire? Many people have been fooled by desire and ended up in very unhappy marriages.
 
If your spouse is not open to this and you are already married, if there is love present in that marriage, you should not run away from that marriage. Love is the prerequisite for chastity, and those who chose to only marry another Gnostic, only with another person who agrees with what “I” believe, and do so only out of ambition, will get nowhere, because there is no love in that marriage. Of course, if you meet another person that is open to this and wants to practice with you, that is ideal. That is perfect. That is wonderful and beautiful, but only if love is present. So, do not get married out of ambition. Meditate and pray. Let God guide you to the spouse who you are destined for, the one whom you can love, and who can love you, the one who will bring you closer to Christ through that love, through the force of Christ within your hearts.
 
Question: What are the characteristics of chastity in woman versus in men? To be more specific, how does chastity manifest itself in men and women?
 
Instructor: Well, the spiritual work for men and women is the same. So, as a woman, I am required to fulfill all the same requisites of purity, of chastity, abstaining from orgasm, transforming that energy in my body through pranayama, or through sexual Alchemy, meditation, working on my vices every day. It is really no different. One thing I will say for women who practice this though, who transmute, whether married or single, we do not work with our sexual energy when we are on our period. If you are in your menstrual cycle, abstain from working with sexual energy for that time. That is a time of cleansing in which the body is flushing out impurities, and energetically as well. It is a great benefit that women have, that nature purifies our bodies every month, but it means that we should not be transmuting those energies, because that is a time when impurities are being cleansed from us by nature.
 
So, what does chastity look like for a woman versus a man? It is the same. As a woman, you should not be orgasming. Many women say, “Well, I am not losing any seed when I orgasm.” You do not see what you are losing spiritually and energetically in that orgasm. You are losing your vitality, that sexual energy that connects you with divinity, that power of creation in your own body. So, men, woman, it is very similar. I cannot speak too much on the man’s point of view, but at least as a woman I can share that.  
 
Question: What is the name of the broad statue shown in this lecture with a quote of Samael Aun Weor, The Perfect Matrimony, and is that position the only way to practice? Can you provide terms on what one should do, or how to perform sexual magic in simple terms with detail on the procedure?
 
Instructor: So, that is not the only position which one can practice sexual magic. Generally speaking, the position is really not so important. You can perform this with the man on top of the woman, or the woman on top of the man. What is important is that you are awake. If you are meditative, if you are prayerful, you feel love for your spouse. You feel love for divinity. You are not allowing animal passion to overcome your willpower. You are allowing the heat, the fire, and the bliss of those pleasant sensations to awaken your consciousness, to nourish you, but you are not losing that force through orgasm.
 
I am not familiar with the name of that specific statue, but I have seen many like it. That comes from Tantric Buddhism. There are many symbols throughout the Tibetan Buddhist tradition that describe and show this union. There are many buddhas or many spiritual masters, enlightened ones who are showing that particular act, such as Padmasambhava and Yeshe Tsogyal, or his consort, as an example. There are many examples of that practice within that religion specifically. In terms of the only position or the way to practice, you can study a certain chapter in The Mystery of The Golden Flower by Samael Aun Weor [The Sexual Paroxysm and The Golden Embryo]. There are different positions and postures that one can practice with in accordance with Hindu scripture and ancient text itself.
 
Definitely, in these texts you will learn a variety of mantras as well. Mantra is an important part of sexual Alchemy because it allows us to move that energy more effectively in our body. One of the main mantras that is taught in The Perfect Matrimony is IAO, which is pronounced as in Latin:
 
I: (as the ee in “tree”):  
A: (as the ah in “father”)
O: (as the oh in “holy”)
 
Take a breath when you are united with your partner and vocalize the vowel sound:
​Iiiiiiiiii…
 
Then again…
 
Aaaaaaaaaa…
 
Then again…
 
Oooooooooo…
 
That is just one practice to give as an example, but before you enter into this practice you should study the book and you will learn a lot more mantras and much more about how to engage in that practice effectively.
 
Question: As a single person I have verified that these teachings are true through my own experiences with pranayama, prayer, self-observation, meditation, etc. I am totally dedicated to this path. It has given my life the most beautiful meaning and purpose. I know these teachings are true in my heart and are the purpose of life. Ever since I started sincerely practicing these teachings and transmuting my sexual energies daily, about a year ago, I had been experiencing nocturnal pollutions about every two to three months. These are very painful experiences as I observe my consciousness is weakened and I lose my psychic energies. My question is, what is the cause of these experiences? Is it karmic debt from past sexual misconduct? Are these tests in the internal worlds? Is it a lack of comprehension of lust? A combination of all these? Obviously, the goal is eventually find a spouse and enter into the major mysteries of sexual Alchemy. Is physical chastity possible like Sivananda and Yogananda?
 
Instructor: What an important question! Thank you for asking. For those who are not familiar with the term nocturnal pollutions, it refers to wet dreams, where―most notably for men, this is obvious―men might wake up and realize that he has orgasmed in his sleep. Women may wake up and realize that their body is orgasming. This can happen for men and women. There are a variety of reasons why this may happen, and we also have a remedy for this: the remedy of the melon drink, which can help you. So, if you are suffering from nocturnal pollutions, I encourage you to drink that remedy frequently until you see that the problem has been lessened.
 
But we need a permanent solution to this problem. The cause of the problem is lust. On one hand, I think that many single people are not transmuting enough, at minimum ten to fifteen minutes a day, but you can practice pranayama as long as you need. If you are a particularly fiery person, if that is your sexual temperament, you might need to perform a lot of pranayama every day. Also, work with runes―another sacred science that we teach in this tradition and you can find a whole course about the runes on Glorian.org. There are also videos of these runes that allows you to transform more energy.
 
So, one cause can be that you have too much sexual energy pent up, and since it is not being transformed, it is leading to that nocturnal pollution. That is a big problem, because you do not want to lose that energy.
 
The other is that we are tempted and tested in dreams. Often our own egos come out in dreams and take the shapes of many attractive people or situations that tempt us, and if we have not developed enough willpower through meditation, then when we are less awake, when we are more hypnotized in the dream state, we are more likely to fail and to engage in some kind of sexual activity in the dream state that causes our physical body to orgasm and to lose that energy. So, do the best that you can. It takes time to train the body. It takes time also to train our psyche.
 
But we should be vigilant. We should be on lust everyday, to understand our lust. How does it manifest? What does it want? How does it control us? What provokes it? What tempts it? Some people try to avoid temptation all together, but when we see something in our life, we should not be looking at pornography. We should not try to find ways to test ourselves. That would be foolish. We are not at that level. But things happen in our life. We see people that we feel some attraction to. Do not avoid that. Go home and meditate. Meditate, meditate, meditate. What in you is impure? Sometimes we think we may love a person, but that love is mixed with a lot of impurity. So, even if you are married you still need to be meditating on lust. Lust is always selfish and divinity is selfless.
 
The karmic debt from past sexual misconduct is the creation of lust in our own psychology. So, whenever we commit abuse of sex, we generate a psychological consequence, and that strengthens lust in our psyche, which then causes us to have less control over sexual force in both our physical life and in our dream life in the astral plane. So, the karma is psychological. But we do have the power to overcome that. We do have the power to meditate on that. What did you dream about? Meditate on it. Understand it. Do not just feel like, “I failed. I should be ashamed!” and then not learn anything from that. It is a very humbling experience, and it is a very painful experience. We should learn from that, because when that happens to us, it is an opportunity to understand something about ourselves that we do not understand. Otherwise, it would not happen.  
 
As a single person, we can achieve up to 50% of the elimination of the ego. Right now, in this teaching, we know that most of us in this planet have about 97% ego. That means we are 97% selfish and blind to divinity. We have 3% consciousness free that can perceive things in a new way, that can perceive divinity, that can act spontaneously, and the other 97% of us is conditioned to habitual behaviors, conditioned psychology, that wants to repeat habits again and again― repeat the same anger, repeat the same envy in a new situation, repeat the same lustful sensations. So, as a single person, it is possible to become truly pure.
 
Yogananda is a beautiful example. He made the mistake of believing that he could be married within to his Divine Mother without a spouse, and so he was only able to achieve half of that work, but what a tremendously beautiful soul, like an elemental, very pure, that brought wonderful teachings to humanity! Yes, that is possible for the single person.
 
We should not have such a strong desire for a spouse that we forget about how to live in happiness with what we have. God has put you in that situation for a reason. It is possible that if you found a spouse, but you weren’t properly prepared, that you could generate a lot of pain for you and that person, that it could harm your future lifetimes, that it could create a karmic consequence that could be much more terrible. So, there are worst things than being single. We could use that time as a single person to master our sexuality, to become very comfortable with moving those forces in our body, with transforming, to awaken with purity like a child, to become virginal. Then when the time is right, God will bring a spouse to you and you will know it because you will feel love, real love, not just sexual attraction, but real love.
 
Question: Usually we find “You shall not commit adultery” in the Ten Commandments, yet we do not see, “We shall not fornicate.” Is that a part of the former commandment or is it a hidden commandment that was not taught before the Age of Aquarius openly?
 
Instructor: That is a good question. “Thou shall not fornicate” is not part of one of the Ten Commandments, but we see it repeatedly in the Bible, so I might of misspoke a little bit there. Fornication is frequently talked about in the Bible as a sin against God. Fornicate comes from the same root as furnace, that sexual fire. Is that fire working in a positive way or is that fire destroying us?
 
Fornication is destructive. Chastity is regenerative, revitalizing. Whenever we are expelling the sexual energy, we are adulterating the power of the Divine Mother. In terms of the tradition itself, the commandments, those have been interpreted and even modified in different ways through out religious tradition, but specifically there is a distinction between “You shall not fornicate” or expel the sexual energy, but also “You shall not commit adultery” or misuse that force in multiple relationships, as the lecturer had said.
 
Question: Could you explain the connection between sexuality and the original sin? Can we say that sexual sin, lust, is the fundamental vice and the source of all other vices?
 
Instructor: Yes, we can. That is the original sin because lust, the orgasm, is what kicked us out of Eden, brought us separation from divinity. When we feed lust, when we orgasm, we become hypnotized. We become confused. A little piece of us or a big piece of us starts to become diluted, and through that delusion, humanity can wander further away from God. The more that that action is repeated, the more delusion humanity enters into, and that delusion can include all other kinds of crimes: anger murder, hatred, theft, greed, pride.
 
So, it is from lust over many centuries, over many lifetimes that we have been committing lustful acts, that all of these other crimes have been able to occur. Now these vices can occur separate from lust as well. Even the gods are said to have spiritual pride, which is a vice, but those gods know how to work with sex in the appropriate way through sexual chastity, using sex with purity. So, while it is the root of all sins, those sins can be manifold. We usually say that there are seven deadly sins, but even within those seven there are so many unique manifestations of those seven deadly sins, and lust is like that. Sometimes lust can be proud. Sometimes lust can be angry. Sometimes lust can be greedy. So, they are all interrelated. If you really want to understand the fall of humanity, the sexual fall of humanity, then I encourage you to read the book The Elimination of Satan’s Tail, which tells the history behind why humanity originally fell out of the Garden of Eden. Really interesting story by Samael Aun Weor.
 
Question: Taoist and other traditions distinguish between orgasm and ejaculation for men. Is this distinction made in Gnosticism? Is the key for men to restrict ejaculation, what many people are calling today semen retention?
 
Instructor: That is a great question and one that comes up often when we give this teaching. Orgasm and the loss of semen are both considered not permitted in the sacred sexual act. So, no. You cannot just retain the semen but indulge in the energetic orgasm.
 
As I mentioned earlier for men or for women, the short circuit of the orgasm is destructive for the physical body and for the vital body, which is the energetic body that animates us, that gives the power to move around, that enlivens our heart and allows it to keep beating. That vital body gets destroyed and that is why illnesses can develop. It is harmful. But spiritually speaking, as I just mentioned in the previous answer, when we indulge in that orgasm, in that sensation, our psychology changes. Our consciousness becomes conditioned, becomes addicted, becomes hypnotized by and wants more, more, and more. So, even if you are only performing the orgasm now and then, or you are only performing the orgasm to have a child, it is harmful for this practice. You should renounce orgasm one hundred percent if you are going to work in chastity and perform the perfect matrimony. That is what we teach, because that law of nature indicates that through that door, we can leave heaven. We can go into hell, into the lower states of consciousness, and that door is directly related with sex, with orgasm. Orgasm opens the door to the lower states of consciousness and allows devilish qualities, evil energies, to enter into us psychologically and spiritually.
 
When we go up through that door, when we transmute that energy from the sexual organs up the spine into the brain, to enliven the pineal gland, the seat of the soul, where our inner divinity can give us guidance, we are going back up to divinity. Orgasm will bring us down. The law dictates that chastity is a prerequisite to go up unto the heavenly realms.
 
Question: Is it possible to over do pranayama if single? Sometimes if I do Ham-Sah too much it seems to build up too much fire, or is it because I am not doing the pranayama correctly? It does not produce much fire with runic vowels, etc.
 
Instructor: It is not possible to harm yourself by doing too much. So, you can do three hours of it a day. You can do five hours of it a day. It will not hurt you. If you say that you are feeling a lot of fire as a result, it is because that sexual fire which was latent has become active, and you need to apply that fire in your meditation.
 
When we feel sexual fire, we are very awake. Our consciousness becomes vigilant. Now when we are conditioned by lust, yes, that lust drives us to become vigilant, seeking sexual sensations, but when we meditate on that lust and seek to understand it, as we are enlivened by that same fire, that fire gives us the ability to be very awake and very aware and go deep into comprehension of that ego of lust. Fire, also transmuted, gives you Divine Mother the power. That fire is her power to destroy those egos of lust. So, if you are feeling overly stimulated by the practice, yes, you can do some other practice instead to balance it out, but meditate on what is coming up for you psychologically. If you become overwhelmed in your meditation, and the impression is too powerful, you cannot transform it, you are being tempted too much, go outside. Go for a walk. Read a scripture. Do something to calm yourself down, and then meditate again when you are feeling calmer.
 
Question: You have mentioned ambition in spouse selection as an impediment in progressing in the path. You have also said that we should not submit to animal passion in the act. If one is in a loving marriage where the couple is disinterested in Alchemy in one evening, is it best to practice pranayama?
 
Instructor: If I understand the question correctly, you are asking if we have to practice the sexual act every night? No. The most that sexual Alchemy should be practiced is once per day, and again, women should not be performing this act on their menstrual cycle, so there is a magnetic pause during that time.
 
You do not need to practice it every day. It depends on the temperament of the couple. If the couple has a cooler temperament around sexuality, then they might practice this once a month, once a week. That is ok. A very fiery couple will probably practice once per day. If you are not feeling interested in sex, then it is ok to practice pranayama. If you feel particularly lustful one day and you are afraid that you are going to enter into that sexual act and potentially lose your energy, then I would encourage you to practice pranayama first. Meditate first. Wait until you are not feeling that lustful anymore to enter into that act, because it is very difficult in the beginning. We have an animal mind that seeks sensation and that wants more, more, more of that desire, and that is difficult to overcome. So, in the beginning, we usually encourage couples to only connect very briefly, or just to maybe touch, hold each other, kiss, but not to physically connect right away, just to get used to conquering that sensation, and then to connect, just for a few minutes, and to take a break. It depends on your temperament. It depends on how much discipline you have with your mind and pranayama before marriage. If you practiced with pranayama for many years, you might be able to adapt to the sexual Alchemy practice more quickly, but it really varies by individual. Each of us has our own karma which has shaped our psychology. So some of us are more strongly addicted to lust than others, but all of us have lust and all of us need to meditate on it.
 
Question: If the couple is ambitious and decides to engage in the Arcanum A.Z.F., do those creative energies give life to ambition, potentially related to desire?
 
Instructor: Thank you for clarifying. So, just like lust, we should not bring ambition into the act. In the act we should really meditate on our love for our spouse. We should not just be saying, “Ok, let us practice today because I want to have more spiritual experiences and experience divinity!” and that is the motivation for our practice. We should practice because we love God and we love our spouse, and so if you are going to the act with ambition, you are not going to get very far. You are actually going to channel that energy into your ambition, so that desire for more and more spiritual sensations will become stronger. Meditate before Alchemy. Meditate on ambition, or lust, or whatever defect you see coming up in the act to corrupt it, to separate you from divinity. Then pray before that act to your Divine Mother. Use the sexual energy. Use the sacred power to eliminate this ego of ambition, this ego of lust or whatever it may be for you. That will really help your practice.
 
Question: Is it only suitable to engage in sex when both parties are in a state of innocent love for one another?
 
Instructor: As I mentioned before, we might not have a partner, a spouse who is not interested in chastity and who is engaging in orgasm. That is a painful situation, but it happens, and we should not leave that person because of that. However, we are going to need to have those hard conversations and discuss to find a way, which out of love, that person can respect your choice to be chaste. That is really specific to the case of the couple. If you have a spouse that is practicing chastity with you and feels particularly lustful one day and says, “I do not want to engage,” then respect them. Have love for them. Support them.
 
Also, if you and your spouse find that lust is coming for you in sex, meditate. In the beginning, there is going to be a lot of lust there. As much as we try to start with an innocent mind, with purity, with love, there will be lust there. So, in that case, again, we should meditate after sex. Meditate on what we saw. In the beginning it is very difficult. That fire is big. It is out of control. It takes time and willpower to learn, so engage for a few moments until you realize that you are starting to get distracted. You are starting to get hypnotized by the sensations and losing your wakefulness, your vigilance, your awareness of God.
 
Love is a very beautiful sensation that comes out in sex. I do not want to encourage people to be afraid, so afraid that they are not able to do this practice. Let your heart guide you, and let divinity guide you. There will be lust present in the beginning and that is why we need this practice to purify ourselves. Eventually, if we are successful, we can become saints free from that torment of lust. We can become masters of our sexuality, and then we command the sexual force to work when we want it to work rather than that sexual force commanding us to be slaves, to be servants of its sensations. It takes time.
 
Question: I am curious on what you mean by orgasm exactly. My experience of raising the sexual energy up the spine and into the brain centers is actually highly orgasmic. The body pulsates in just the way it does during orgasm and a feeling of joy is generated. The same goes for all chakras and dantians. Do you mean that this whole body energetic experience should be avoided in Gnosticism?
 
Instructor: Good question. There are sensations in Alchemy. There is sexual pleasure. There is bliss, the bliss of love, the bliss of Alchemy. So you really have to examine for yourself. But yes, if there is an orgasm in your sexual organs and you feel that, then that is not sexual Alchemy. So, in black magic, they teach you how to perform the sexual act with orgasm and channel that energy in the way that has just been described in the question in order to awaken consciousness. But what happens because of the orgasm and those negative demonic influences that come in, you might experience bliss, but you are also awakening consciousness and developing within the ego, which is separate from God.
 
So, you really have to meditate on yourself, on what is happening there, because there is spiritual bliss, energy, moving in the body in Alchemy, but there is not the orgasm in the sexual organs. It is white Alchemy. White Tantra that we teach here in this school does not permit orgasm because that orgasm short circuits the body, loses the energy. While the sensations of bliss that you might feel in a orgasm―even outside of any spiritual context, of course, orgasm is “blissful” and people feel that sensation of bliss―that is actually not positive, because it is the bliss of that energy, but then that energy is lost and expelled from the body. So we want to keep that bliss, calm and consistent, throughout our practice.
 
Question: Is it true that cardiovascular exercise, running while breathing through the nostrils and out through the mouth, helps to transmute the sexual energies? 
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Instructor: Yes. Some exercise, some sports, some martial arts like Aikido, or some that are not too violent, that can be one form of transmutation of sexual energy. However, I caution you not to use that as your only form, because without pranayama, your body naturally is not going to move those energies back up the spine. Pranayama done everyday is cleaning out the two cords which go around the spine, the two channels of Ida and Pingala, and allowing that energy to become accustomed to moving up the spine into the brain and heart. If you are not doing that every day, those channels are going to be very dirty, and they are blocked. If you are just playing soccer with your friends, but you are not performing the pranayama, then no, you are probably not transmuting very much energy. So, it can be good to walk and to breathe, but breathe with transmutation, with that visualization coming up through your spine. You can use the Ham-Sah pranayama, if you are familiar with it, throughout the day. I have used it at work silently, just to keep myself awake and vigilant if I notice that I am starting to get unaware of what is happening spiritually, lose my self-observation.
 
Work with some form of pranayama every day if you are a single person, and if you are married, you can also work with pranayama. It is an option for married people so that you do not have to feel the pressure to work in sexual Alchemy every day. Generally speaking, married people are moving more energy in that sexual connection, so they may not need pranayama on the days that they are not united. It really depends on the couple. You have to investigate, meditate, pray, and watch the answers that you receive in your dreams from divinity. Divinity will tell you if you are going off of the correct path, then guide you on how to get back.
 
Question: Isn’t chastity a cruel repression of the self? Sometimes like a punishment or a sadistic behavior, then when it is released in different ways, it creates suffering everywhere?
 
Instructor: If you are referring to celibacy, as I mentioned earlier in the lecture, it does produce suffering if that energy is not worked with through prayer, through transmutation. Celibacy creates imbalances in the psychology in the same way that lust and orgasm create imbalances in the psychology. In celibacy, that energy sits there like a pool of water that becomes stagnant, and that energy becomes putrid and poisons the mind, and that creates suffering. Chastity is not celibacy. Chastity is learning how to work with sex in a positive way and so it is not a repression of one’s self. It is connecting directly with ones sexuality in a very powerful way, in a very conscious way, and working with that energy in the body. The result of real chastity, if you are practicing this without orgasm consistently, then you will have positive benefits. You will feel more love for your neighbor. You will feel more subtle emotions. You will feel more peace and happiness. You will feel more awake, and more spiritual senses developed, spiritual vision, more powerful dreams.
 
No, I would disagree with that idea.
 
Question: I am getting more confused about orgasm and ejaculation. I always felt through experience that they are one in the same or happen at the same time in my past. How are they different?
 
Instructor: I am not too familiar with semen retention, although I have heard of it. It is the practice by which some retain the semen instead of ejaculating semen, but still experience the orgasm and allow those sensations to move through the body. So, with the orgasm without ejaculation, you are not losing the physical substance, but you are losing the energetic, spiritual substance, because its that short circuit that occurs in the orgasm. That energy moves quickly through the body, then it is lost. So, those moments of bliss, which may be prolonged and may last for certain time, ultimately leave and are depleted. It is the feeling of bliss that the sexual energy is being depleted, which is very different from the feeling of bliss that we have when the sexual energy is being activated and conserved and moved through the body. Both might be considered blissful but have different flavors, but when you work with both those practices you will understand the difference.
 
It is quite popular and a lot of people like that, they can still have the orgasm and feel like they are getting the benefits of non-ejaculating, but it is black magic. Semen retention is black magic, and if you read the book The Perfect Matrimony, you will understand why we consider it black magic in this tradition, because it breaks the law that God has put in nature, and it hypnotizes the psyche. Your psychology becomes imbalanced and addicted to sensations, and while you may feel spiritual doing it, you are actually strengthening ego and you are giving that energy into egoic states, desire, lust, pride. So, you will not experience the benefits of chastity that I have described.
 
Question: If you are doing pranayama with alternate nostril breathing, what is the best mantra to use? Is it acceptable to use an abbreviated Egyptian mantra: Ton Sa Ham?
 
Instructor: We recommend that when you choose one of the practices, you can use the mantras specifically denoted in that practice. So, if you have read the practice in the book about the Egyptian pranayama, you should use the mantras in the way that they are taught in the book. There is a pranayama of alternate nostril breathing that does not require any mantra. That is just focusing, bringing your awareness, breathing in through one nostril as you visualize the energy moving up one side of the spine, up one of those cords, and then through the other one, visualizing that energy moving up the other column up the spine (Ida and Pingala). If you are too burdened by the mantras, then begin with alternate nostril breathing that does not require a mantra. 
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