Knowledge and Being
When we discuss religion, mysticism, occultism, the study of what is hidden from our perception, beneath the surface of the senses, really what we are speaking about is a particular form of experience or realization of what is inside. And we explain in the Gnostic doctrine precisely what the obstacles are within our psychology that prevent us from perceiving what is real, from knowing what divinity is, which we in these studies denominate “the Being.” As the founder of our tradition Samael Aun Weor stated, “The Being is the Being and the reason for the Being to be is to be the Being Himself.” This Being is a form of cognizance, perception, or energy which is beyond the mind, beyond will, beyond the heart and the body. In Buddhism this is the root cognizance of our inner Buddha, and our inner Being is the Buddha, the awakened one, which in Christianity we call Christ. This light or presence, this force known as divinity inside, this Being we seek to discover through spiritual practice, is precisely what we want to know, and what any genuine seeker of religion has come to precisely encounter within him or herself.
Any person who is entering any religion or spiritual teaching seeks to know God directly, not through theory, not through intellect, not through belief, but through direct perception of what is genuinely real. So we differentiate this type of spiritual understanding as being, cognizance, comprehension, whereas we differentiate this from intellectual knowledge, scholasticism, debate, theory, something that is intellectually fascinating or something that is to be argued for or against. We are not interested in that type of dynamic. We seek to know God directly.
Of course, in this teaching, we study many books, many scriptures to help us understand what is this root perception in ourselves, known as the consciousness, that is part of our inner God, our inner Buddha, our inner flame. But of course, we always balance the study with practice. In this teaching, we highly emphasize the need for practice and the need for effective methods to transform our mind and to experience divinity.
In this lecture, we are precisely going to discuss this point: what divinity is, and what is the type of knowledge that we need to know divinity directly. In this first graphic, we have a famous Tibetan Buddhist saint named Milarepa who was quite a remarkable figure because he actually was a criminal. He was someone who committed many crimes and had in fact incurred many debts as a result of his criminal behavior. But he realized precisely his position, his culpability, and took responsibility for his actions, and he actually became one of the greatest Tibetan Buddhist saints, which Mahayana Buddhism venerates and which we proudly study.
Milarepa gave a very beautiful teaching about this demarcation between knowledge and divinity, the Being:
Just as fog is dispelled by the strength of the sun, and is dispelled no other way, preconception (or intellectual knowledge) is cleared by the strength of realization. There is no other way of clearing preconceptions. Experience them as baseless dreams. Experience them as ephemeral bubble. Experience them as insubstantial rainbows. Experience them as indivisible space. ―Drinking the Mountain Stream: Songs from Tibet’s Beloved Saint
So if we genuinely want to know what God is inside, to experience what divinity is, we need to abandon a lot of our own preconceptions about who we are as an individual. Of course, this is a very challenging and difficult step to ask oneself and confront oneself, by asking this question: “Who are we really? Who is God inside of myself? What is divinity? How do I experience my own inner divinity inside?” When we ask this question, it comes to my mind a very famous Sufi teaching, which is from the mysticism of Islam:
He who knows himself knows his Lord. ―Sufi Proverb
Also, the Greek maxim on the Temple of Delphi taught,
Homo nosce te ipsum (in Latin): Man, know thyself, and you will know the universe and the gods. ―Oracle of Delphi
So we have to really confront this question in ourselves: if we do not know God inside, who is our inner divinity, our inner Being, the question is, do we really know ourselves in depth? This is precisely the maxim or ultimatum that any college of initiation or school of mysteries has taught, to ask this question: who are we, and do we know divinity? If we are honest and really examine the abundance of spiritual literature, genuine literature from different religions—whether from Hinduism as the Bhagavad-Gita, Buddhism as different sutras and tantras, teachings of Kabbalah such as the Zohar, the Talmud or the Torah, or the Tarot, the Egyptian mystical teachings; likewise, in the Middle East as the Quran and many different scriptures that have all taught an integral science by which we can unite with divinity—the thing is to ask ourselves what we know, genuinely, because if we do not know who is our inner Being, our divinity inside, as religions have pointed out, it means we do not fully know ourselves. This is the brave step we need to take when seeking genuine spirituality, genuine realization of divinity, to ask ourselves what is it we really know and to find what is valid and what is invalid.
We find here Milarepa. We chose this image because he is listening, actively. He, being a great saint, is demonstrating his humility by the fact that he is learning. He learns from all human beings, all sentient beings, without distinction. Even though he attained great realization, still he had an understanding that upon great heights of spiritual knowledge one has to be humble and to learn from all beings. So we should imitate his example. We should attempt to approach religion from the honest perspective and understanding that we do not know and that we seek to know, and that, as the gospels teach us:
Ask, and it shall be opened unto you. Knock on the door, and it will be opened. Seek and ye shall find. ―Matthew 7:7
We want to understand precisely what prevents us from knowing divinity, whether given the name of Christ, Allah, Buddha, Ahura Mazda amongst the Zoroastrians—many names for divinity. We need to understand precisely what in us is preventing our perception of that divinity.
So we talk a lot about in these studies the difference between concept and reality, the difference between knowledge and being. Reality is the being, is that divine force inside us that we can actualize in this instant, if we learn to pay attention as the psyche. Concepts are our beliefs, our habits, our ideas about what religion teaches or what we experience, more importantly.
In this image, we have Rene Descartes, a French philosopher who is famous for stating, “I think, therefore I am.” And we politely disagree with Descartes by explaining that to think is not to be. The way to understand that difference is to understand that thinking is a type of process in our psyche that we typically identify with as being our identity, but if we learn to observe ourselves in our totality, understanding that our thoughts change, by observing our emotions change, by looking at our body, we find that sensations come and go. These things fluctuate. These are not permanent. So where is the inherent, intrinsic nature of this perception that we have? This is a very famous Buddhist teaching which we study: impermanence of the self. We find that these things are impermanent, therefore where is our genuine identity in this very moment?
So thinking is a process that really is mechanical, you can say. The mind can store information, concepts, have theories about the nature of language, philosophy, the nature of reality, but thought or thinking, concepts, are not the reality itself. It is merely a projection from the mind that tends to label information.
So we experience phenomena, but then we think and label those phenomena. This is the big question we need to ask: what is the reality that we are experiencing in the moment? In these studies, we talk about mindfulness and self-observation, to observe one’s body, one’s mind, one’s heart, to be aware and have the understanding that intrinsically we are not our thoughts. We are not sensations of the body. We are not the emotions. We are a type of quality of consciousness beyond that. And this consciousness can experience a dynamic of emotions and sentiment which is superior, divine, which we seek to access through practice.
Descartes said, “I think, therefore I am.” So what does it mean to be, to say, “I am?” Jesus of Nazareth who is the head of the Gnostic Church, the Christ force through him explained that “I am the way, the truth, and the light.” In Hebrew, in Kabbalah, Ehyeh asher ehyeh, “I Am that I Am,” which is what Moses heard from the burning bush, the Tree of Life, on Mount Sinai. When Jesus said, “I Am,” really divinity in him said, “I Am.” It was not the physical personality of Jesus whom people worship, but instead it is divinity inside that says, “I Am,” the Being, the presence that is eternal. Our thoughts may change, our appetites or habits, our beliefs, our theories, our experience of life may change, but God does not change. And that force is inside and eternal, that we can experience, and that says, “I Am,” Ehyeh, in Hebrew. Descartes says, "I think, therefore I am," and the thing is God does not think. God knows. God is not some anthropomorphic figure in the clouds, but is a force, an intelligence, a divine presence in our heart, in our very core of our consciousness, which we can experience if we learn the method. God does not need to think. He is.
There is the very famous saying of Jesus of Nazareth when he was persecuted by the Pharisees in his time, the people who believe that they know about spirituality but don't. They asked him, "Are you the Christ?" He said, "Before Abraham was, I am." Abraham, if you're not familiar with Judaism, was the founder of that tradition, and the people who were persecuting Jesus of Nazareth were very attached to their tradition and did not want to see what is revolutionary or new. Therefore, he was crucified.
People have concepts about the nature of divinity, about being, but the reality is something we have to experience, since it is beyond thought. Therefore, to think is not to be. To be is to be aware of thought, how it flows and changes and fluctuates, be aware of our emotional states, and the experience of life as sensation, as they fluctuate.
I'd like to quote from you one author, in this tradition, the founder of the modern Gnostic tradition; his name is Samael Aun Weor. He states in his book The Great Rebellion precisely this dynamic between concept and reality.
Who or what can guarantee that concept and reality are exactly the same thing? Concept is one thing, and reality is another. There is a tendency to overestimate our own concepts. It is almost impossible for reality to equal a concept. Nevertheless, the mind hypnotized by its very own concepts always presumes that concept and reality are the same. Any psychological process that is correctly structured using precise logic is opposed by a different one, strongly developed with similar or superior logic. Then what? ―Samael Aun Weor, The Great Rebellion
If any of you have ever studied philosophy, particularly the teachings of Immanuel Kant, he talked in his doctrine about the nature of knowledge and concept, known as the antinomies of reason, basically that you can have two arguments of equally plausible evidence and dissertation, different thoughts, beliefs that are equally plausible but contradictory, such as, "I believe in God," or, "I don't believe in God." One could provide evidence either way. It can be convincing, depending on the articulation of thought. These are contradictions or paradoxes, because both can be true or false at the same time, depending on your argument.
The point that Immanuel Kant was emphasizing in his contribution to Western philosophy was that the intellect cannot know the truth. Reading cannot show us truth. We can have ideas. We can learn methods. We need to educate our mind. This is necessary, but the actual experience or cognizance of what the divine is comes about as a result of spiritual practice. We can have an idea in our mind about why one religion is better than another, and someone of another religion could have the same belief about their tradition. There's conflict; this is why the world is such a mess, is in the state that it's in, due to people precisely deifying the intellect, people stating that the intellect can know the truth, and that we are the possessors of the truth, and that everyone else in the world doesn't know.
This is really sad, because we teach in Gnosis that all religions are universal, that they teach the same science with different language and different symbols, in accordance with the culture and the time in which Gnosis is disseminated.
Samael Aun Weor emphasizes this point:
Two severely disciplined minds confined by ironclad intellectual structures argue with one another. They debate and dispute over this or that fact of reality. Each believes its own concept to be exact and the other to be false. Which is right? Who can honestly guarantee either case? Which one shows that concept and reality are the same? Unquestionably, each mind is a world of its own. In each and every one of us lies a kind of pretentious, dictatorial dogmatism that wants to make us believe in the absolute equality of concept and reality. ―Samael Aun Weor, The Great Rebellion
We all have this tendency to want to affirm our ideas about work or sports or politics, beliefs, economics. Every aspect of our life, we have certain attitudes that we project, and that we want to affirm to other people. When other people don't affirm that in us, we feel conflict; we feel pain; we feel struggle. But we have to understand that struggle comes from inside, psychologically, and that if we resolve the conflict in our mind, the need to affirm our beliefs, and simply to be receptive to the flow of life in the instant, we learn to understand people better. That in turn creates better harmony in our relationships with others.
The Level of Being
In our relationships to others, we talk about what is known as the level of being. We have a very concrete image we use to teach the nature and the relationship between knowledge and being. We're talking about concepts, ideas, intellectual knowledge, which we store in our intellect, our mind. Likewise, we talk about the being, perception, cognizance, consciousness, understanding of what is real, the perception of our mind, our heart, our body in this instant. We find that two lines intersect in a given point, and that point is this moment.
In Sufism, we talk about the Arabic word waqt, which means the moment. The Sufis talk very extensively about this, and so do the Buddhists. In kabbalah, we find the same teaching, called mindfulness, to be aware of our understanding of divinity here and now, in our presence. That in turn develops and changes our relationships with others.
Our habits and our ideas and our attitudes shape our life. Our mind shapes our life. What we are inside attracts the different and various circumstances of life outside. So, if we change the way we think, the way we feel, and the way we act in relationship to others, obviously the external world will change. The problem is, people want to hold on to their concepts about reality, and they push it onto reality, expecting others will conform to their beliefs. We find this in different countries throughout the world, such as the Middle East where they believe everyone should be Muslim. In America, we have more so-called freedoms, and people are free to agree to disagree, but there are tendencies in us and all human beings to want to affirm our beliefs, and to have others conform to that.
If we change the way we think and we are understanding of the idiosyncrasies of others, to be aware of the mind of others, likewise we change our attitudes about ourselves, to generate compassion towards others. We then attract different circumstances of life.
We talk about the level of being. The quality of our mind determines the quality of our life. Acquiring things, materialism, goods, can satisfy us for a moment, but the genuine happiness of the spirit inside, the divinity inside, comes about by being present, and being aware that we have divinity within us. Therefore, we have no need to fear economic problems, or as Jesus taught, "See the lilies of the field? They toil not, nor spin. See likewise the birds and fowl of the air. They have need for raiment, and yet the Lord sustains them. How much more so you being made into this present image. Shall you not receive the benefit of your Lord?"
That comes about as we learn to reconnect with our divinity. We change our level of being. So, what is the level of being? It is our way of life, our thinking. Samael Aun Weor in his book Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology explains this:
Nobody can deny the fact that there are different social levels. There are churchgoing people, people in brothels, farmers, businessmen, etc. In a like manner, there are different levels of being. Whatever we are internally, munificent or mean, generous or miserly, violent or peaceful, chaste or lustful, attracts the various circumstances of life. ―Samael Aun Weor, Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology
In this image, we have two lines. The horizontal line is the line of life. On the left, we have our birth, our childhood, progressing to the right towards school, education, work, family, career, friends, marriage, old age, sickness, death—progressing towards the end. This is a mechanical process in which we go through life experiencing our economic issues, our daily issues, from birth to death.
This is a path that is not necessarily integral with the vertical line as we find in this image. This vertical line is known as the line of being. This refers to the quality of our perception, the quality of our consciousness. There are superior levels of being and there are inferior levels of being. A person who is a drug addict or a prostitute, someone who dwells in bars or is a criminal, like in the case of Milarepa, has a very low level of being, meaning: these people, in many people's eyes, are usually inferior in society. They have a lot of suffering in their life. Their level of being is inferior, because they are engaged in habits which are destructive.
Above that, we have superior levels of being. This is not to talk about social class specifically, but qualities of our mind, whether we have a generous heart, compassion, understanding, peace, love towards humanity. Likewise, this refers to the virtues of the Being inside, which we develop as a result of working on the obstacles in our mind that prevent us from accessing that light. The Being and life intersect in this moment, and the way that we ascend to a superior level of being is precisely by learning to direct our attention.
What are our thoughts? What are our feelings? What is our mood? To observe that is fundamental, to have a sense of separation, not as a zombie-like state, like the state in which we are dull people, but to really live life intensely, with profound awareness, insight, cognizance—this is the line of being which we discriminate between what in us is real and what is false, because all religions teach us that we don't know the truth. We don't know divinity, and that we have created many obstacles inside, like our anger, and pride, laziness, lust, defects, habits that are destructive, whether to a minor or severe degree.
Obviously in the case of Milarepa, when he was a criminal, it was very severe. He was believed to have been practicing certain arts in esotericism which are very negative. He was known as a witch or a sorcerer, somebody who knows how to use the mind to harm others. He realized his mistake. He realized that he was harming others and himself as a result, and then he renounced his habits, decided that he wanted to follow a path of virtue. Then he started to ascend the vertical path of being.
This indicates for us, really, how all the great saints of religion were people who were just like us, or perhaps even worse, people who committed a lot of wrong, and then as a result, changed. They recognized that they were suffering, and that they made others suffer. It's precisely when we recognize how we make others happy or how we make others suffer in our daily life, in the moment, that makes us reflect inside: what is our level of being and where do we want to ascend? Moment by moment, we learn to ascend to a higher level of being as we develop our cognizance and awareness.
Buddhism teaches this fact very beautifully in the Dhammapada. It's a famous Pali scripture of Sutrayana Buddhism, the foundational level of the religion, which emphasizes my points, and which the Buddha taught 2,500 years ago:
Preceded by mind are phenomena, led by mind, formed by mind. If with mind polluted one speaks or acts, then pain follows, as a wheel follows the draft ox's foot. Preceded by mind are phenomena, led by mind, formed by mind. If with mind one pure one speaks or acts, then ease follows as an ever-present shadow. ―Buddha, Dhammapada
If we perform good action, generating from our mind, we produce happiness in our relations. If we have anger or pride, that affects others, and makes others suffer.
The foundational teaching of Hinduism, and really any religion, is ahimsa, meaning: nonviolence. People think this just pertains to abstention from physical violence, such as Mahatma Gandhi's political movement against the British. That's the basic level, but Gandhi, who knew this teaching very well, was practicing ahimsa inside, psychologically, to not think harmful thoughts, to not feel negative emotions, to not let his mind harm others. This is nonviolence. This is really the definition of kindness, generosity.
This type of insight begins to develop in us genuine understanding about the nature of our problems on a very deep psychological level. This is what is known as comprehension. Comprehension is not the intellectual ascertainment or understanding of a concept. Comprehension is something very profound, in which we understand in a moment of epiphany, really—and all of us have had this experience—where we know that a certain type of action or belief is wrong, and that we shouldn't engage in that habit or belief or idea or emotion. We know that something is really harmful for us, and so we stop, and then our life improves as a result. At a basic level, we could say that a person who is an alcoholic, who really realizes the damage of alcohol, comprehends how it's destructive, will never taste a drop of it again, knowing that that element will disorganize his or her psyche.
The difference between comprehension and knowledge is that even though we intellectually have knowledge about something, it doesn't mean that we will act on it. In the instance of an alcoholic, he may intellectually know that alcohol is harmful, destructive. So is drugs, marijuana, barbiturates, different types of toxins that destroy the mind. We can know intellectually that it's wrong. We've been taught and told it's wrong, but still we might do it. The difference in a person who really comprehends why some behaviors are harmful is that they will never act on that again. When we really know in our heart that something is right or wrong, we will always follow that path, and we will not digress.
Samael Aun Weor states:
Knowledge and comprehension are different. Knowledge is of the mind. Comprehension is the heart. ―Samael Aun Weor, Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology
Intellectually, we may have a lot of ideas about certain habits: we should stop eating too much junk food, or we should exercise more. We may know it's right, but we don't necessarily act on it. These examples operate on a very superficial level. The type of level that I'm seeking to address is something very psychological, very deep, about the way we perceive life, habits that we are not even aware of psychologically, which influence us. This is known as the subconsciousness or unconsciousness in Freudian psychology.
When we comprehend what internal, unconscious or subconscious elements obstruct our experience of reality, then we know in our heart what to do. Therefore, we don't act on the whims of our desires or negativities, but instead we comprehend how to work inside of ourselves to integrate with divinity.
So, this is the teachings of religion. Religion comes from the Latin religare, which means to reunite. The Sanskrit yug, for the word yoga, means to reunite. It's the same meaning. So, we seek to comprehend how to unite with divinity, and to overcome false concepts that we may have, to confront that dynamic inside.
Now, when we talk about this type of knowledge, it needs to be explained that we have certain knowledge in our mind, concepts about and beliefs about who we are psychologically, which may not be grounded in the facts. This is not to totally throw away the use of knowledge. As you see here, we have many books, in which we teach many aspects of this science, which are good to read. We emphasize the need for study to know what religion genuinely teaches, how to practice, how to meditate, how to transform one's mind. We need education to know how to do these things, but the type of knowledge we seek to abandon is false knowledge, beliefs that aren't grounded in fact—theories, ideas about who we are as individuals which obstruct us from going deeper inside.
Practical and Impractical Knowledge
Part of the teachings that I'm going to explain throughout the rest of this lecture come from Sufism. Sufism, if you don't know, is the mystical tradition of Islam, which in its esoteric part was a very beautiful tradition which taught this science, before it deviated, before it digressed or degenerated, as with any religion. This is a teaching from a Sufi master by the name of Al-Hujwiri, in his book called Revelation of the Mystery, Kashf al-Mahjub. He explains something very important that I find very useful and perhaps you might too:
Knowledge is obligatory only insofar as it is requisite for acting rightly. ―Al-Hujwiri, Kashf al-Mahjub: Revelation of the Mystery
The type of knowledge we need is the knowledge that's going to help us to change. That's really the most important knowledge, and having a vocational knowledge to help us to live in this society, we need. But as it continues:
God condemns those who learn useless knowledge," from the Qur’an, surah 2, verse 96. The Prophet Mohammed said, "I take refuge with thee from knowledge that profiteth not." ―Al-Hujwiri, Kashf al-Mahjub: Revelation of the Mystery
What is the type of knowledge that could be useful? We can think of many examples, and we only need to think about our own experience to think about what are certain things that we've read or studied that haven't necessarily been applicable to life, such as going to university. We learn many things that are useful and interesting, but do we use all of it? Honestly, in most cases, we won't. As it says in the scripture:
Much may be done by means of a little knowledge, and knowledge should not be separated from action. ―Al-Hujwiri, Kashf al-Mahjub: Revelation of the Mystery
What is the knowledge that we need? The knowledge to know how to act rightly, to know how to act from the presence of our divinity inside, who knows right from wrong, good from evil. It's a type of comprehension in our heart that tells us what to do, like a hunch. We know what is right and wrong in a given instant.
This is the meaning of Jiminy Cricket in the story of Pinocchio. It's an initiatic story. Pinocchio is a wooden boy who wants to become a real man, a human being. Like us, we want to be made into the image of God, a human being that reflects divinity completely. That's a genuine human being. We want to aspire to that. Jiminy Cricket is the voice of his conscience on his shoulder that says, "Don't do that. That's wrong." Of course, in the story (it wasn't depicted in the Disney film, but in the novel by Carlo Collodi), Pinocchio took a hammer and killed the cricket.
That explains in us how, when we have a sense of what is right or wrong, we suppress it. We justify with our intellect. "I should drink more coffee, because I need to stay awake," even though we know it's wrong or could be a bat habit—a simple example. We suppress that hunch and justify with our intellect why we should do something when we know it's wrong. This is the difference between knowledge and comprehension.
In relation to this quote, we need knowledge that's going to teach us how to listen to that voice of Jiminy Cricket. That's why we study the Bhagavad Gita, the scriptures, the Torah, the Zohar, to learn how to act rightly, to learn from masters, genuine spiritual teachers who have fully manifested divinity inside. The Prophet said (and then Hujwiri explains here the nature of individuals who study intellectually without having comprehension):
The devotee without divinity is like a donkey turning a mill," because the donkey goes round and round over its own tracks and never makes any advance. ―Al-Hujwiri, Kashf al-Mahjub: Revelation of the Mystery
A donkey is a very interesting symbol. If you didn't know Pinocchio, Pinocchio was turned into a donkey. He was instructed by the blue fairy, symbol of his inner divinity, the feminine aspect of divinity as the Virgin Mary, the divine goddess Durga in Hinduism, who tells him, "You need to go to school," meaning: go to esoteric school to learn how to change, learn useful knowledge to transform your mind, how to become a real human being.
But Pinocchio is confronted by his friends. His friends come. "We should go to the land of play," meaning: we don't have to study and work, but we just play all day. Of course the blue fairy had warned Pinocchio before, "Those who play all day and never work end up turning into donkeys." A donkey is really a symbol of an intellectual, someone who has a lot of ideas in the mind but is still an animal inside, with a lot of anger, pride, vanity, lust, laziness, greed, defects. The truth is, all religions teach that we are really like that donkey that needs to be tamed and rode upon, like Jesus rode the donkey into Jerusalem. Meaning Christ inside us, our inner divinity, needs to ride our mind. The donkey is the mind. It's a stubborn animal, which can memorize information but doesn't necessarily know the truth.
A Sufi Master once specifically stated that, "An intellectual is like a donkey with a load of holy books." The donkey has a lot of knowledge of scripture, but doesn't have the actual experience of what scripture teaches. We're not saying that this type of knowledge is useless, but it has to be in balance with our practice. We need to study the scriptures, but we need to comprehend them, more importantly.
Balancing Knowledge and Being
This combination of genuine comprehension of traditions or religion with our study produces comprehension. We talk about the line of life, our horizontal line of life and the vertical line of being. We need to combine our intellectual study with the science of meditation to really comprehend scripture, how it applies to our life, otherwise it's useless. We can know the scriptures and the gospels by heart, the Qur’an by heart, the Bhagavad-Gita by heart, but if we continue to act in harmful ways, or having anger inside even at a subtle level, it means that this knowledge is not practical. We have to use what's practical in our life to change so that we can know divinity.
As Samael Aun Weor states in The Great Rebellion:
Being and knowing must be balanced to establish a sudden blaze of comprehension within our psyche. When knowing is greater than being, it causes all kinds of intellectual confusion. If being is greater than knowing, it can produce cases as serious as that of a stupid saint. ―Samael Aun Weor, The Great Rebellion
If we have a lot of intellectual knowledge but no comprehension, no genuine realization of what the teachings present in religion, we can get confused. This is what happens all over the world with people. They study religion for a long time, have a lot of conviction and belief in the tradition, but then they see contradictions in it, and then feel dissatisfied. Then they get confused about their tradition, about their culture, and they decide to leave to another religion. They hop like a butterfly to another tradition, another flower, and repeat the same habit, trying to find genuine insight. but without understanding that the problem is not in the religion; it's in our mind, how we approach the religion, because the different traditions teach us how to unite with divinity. So, knowing without being can create confusion intellectually.
Also, to have a lot of practice and spiritual discipline but without study of what the different religions teach us can create a case as serious as a stupid saint. We find many practitioners of yoga, and I specifically am not necessarily referring to the yoga studios in the West, but yogis who practice in the Far East, who are very dirty, despite having the choice to live a life of some comfort; they decide to live sleeping on a bed of nails, things which don't necessarily produce a lot of comprehension—just domination over the body, thinking that this is going to take them to God. They may have certain practices or certain understandings about religion, but they don't study the tradition which they are in. They don't study other religions. They don't have a profound culture or comprehension of the different faiths and how they relate.
What comes to my mind in the case of the stupid saint is a very famous Russian existentialist author. His name was Fyodor Dostoevsky. He wrote a book called The Idiot specifically, which is the case of a stupid saint. Although being famous in Western literature, Dostoevsky is not recognized as an esotericist; people don't know that he knew this science and was warning certain practitioners or initiates, people with development, to not be like the case of this prince in the story, Prince Myshkin, who is very saintly and very holy. People in the novel are genuinely attracted to his virtues, but Myshkin doesn't understand the 19th-century Russian culture which he lives in, and he's easily manipulated. He knows he's manipulated, but he allows it. So, if he had a little bit of intellectual study and knowledge about the way cultures work and society works, he wouldn't allow himself to be pulled in that direction, but he is really the fool. If you know about Egyptian mysticism, the Tarot of the Egyptians, the Arcanum 21: Transmutation–the card of the Fool—is precisely the case of the stupid saint. We need to balance knowledge with being to avoid this fate.
To continue on this point, we find again the continuation of the scripture by Al-Hujwiri, Revelation of the Mystery, specifying that the knowledge we study has to be practical, has to apply to our life, otherwise it won't have depth.
Some regard knowledge as superior to action, while others put action first, but both parties are wrong. ―Al-Hujwiri, Kashf al-Mahjub: Revelation of the Mystery
Again, what Samael Aun Weor stated was stated by the Sufis nine centuries ago.
Unless action is combined with knowledge, it is not deserving of recompense. Prayer, for instance, is not really prayer unless performed with knowledge of the principles of purification and those which concern the Qibla. ―Al-Hujwiri, Kashf al-Mahjub: Revelation of the Mystery
The Qibla in Muslim tradition is the direction of a niche in the wall, or the direction pointing to Mecca, where the Muslims would pray.
For those who are not Muslim, really this pertains to how in us in the West, we have to know what direction we are concentrating on in our practice, to know what is the object of our meditation or discipline, and to not waver. The symbol of the Muslims praying to the stone of the Kaaba has many kabbalistic symbols, which we're not going to go into detail, but the fact that they pray to the east towards the rising of the sun really leads to the worship of the divinity, known as Allah, which is Christ, the solar Logos in Greek, the Son. The Qibla points to the holy city of Mecca, which is where they dedicate their prayers. Likewise, we have our own Qibla. When we sit to practice, we have an object of concentration to help us develop a focused mind.
It is not really prayer unless performed with knowledge of the principles of purification, and those which concern the Qibla, and with knowledge of the nature of intention. ―Al-Hujwiri, Kashf al-Mahjub: Revelation of the Mystery
Basically, what I said about concentration: we have to know what we're intending. Every practice that we have in this tradition, whether certain forms of yoga or mantra recitation, has a specific purpose, so we have to know what intention we are working with within a certain exercise.
Learning committed to memory are acts for which a man is rewarded in the next world. If he gained knowledge without action and acquisition on his part, he will get no reward. ―Al-Hujwiri, Kashf al-Mahjub: Revelation of the Mystery
We may read a lot, but if we're not aware of the real depth of what we're reading and its application to our life, such knowledge is easily forgotten and is therefore useless.
Hence, two classes of men fall into error. Firstly, those who claim knowledge for the sake of public reputation but are unable to practice it… ―Al-Hujwiri, Kashf al-Mahjub: Revelation of the Mystery
…such as the Pharisees in Jesus's time, who really knew a lot about Judaism but didn't practice. Therefore, when they saw Jesus as an example of the highest divinity, when he fully manifested that in himself, he produced a lot of hatred and envy among his enemies.
Secondly, those who pretend that practice suffices and that knowledge is unnecessary. ―Al-Hujwiri, Kashf al-Mahjub: Revelation of the Mystery
So in addition to people who believe that we have to study a lot, read a lot, and don't need to practice, there are those who think that in religion one has to do a lot of practices, but not study. These are both wrong beings.
For instance, what comes to my mind is the 14th Dalai Lama. We respect him as a great master in this tradition. He's a very powerful being, really, a great master, a Bodhisattva, who really exemplifies the beauty of Tibetan Buddhism. He not only has a very profound scholarly knowledge, but his level of being is very high, as evidenced by the way he interacts with others. Generally people see him as a very funny man, and he really connects with them from his Being, from his inner Buddha. He emphasizes that one needs to study and practice. Traditional schools or colleges of initiation which used to admit people in the past would have students practice six hours a day and then study six hours a day, and so dedicate their entire time in the monastery or mosque or ashram to fully develop intellectual knowledge and comprehension of that knowledge is unison.
This image is Buddhist. This is a famous deity known as Manjushri, who in Buddhism represents the balance of knowledge and being. In his right hand, he carries a sword, his left hand, a book.
The sword traditionally represents being surrounded by fire, the penetrative insight of the consciousness and of our Being that cuts and severs all ties to illusion, the direct perception of what is real inside. The book represents scriptural knowledge, or the more accurate Buddhist terms we use are wisdom and method. Wisdom, if you break down the word etymologically, comes from the word vision, vis-dom, the power to see. This is not physical sight. It's spiritual sight, which is very deep. The sword is surrounded by flames, represents how the fire or energies of divinity, which is known as Christ in Gnosticism, strengthens our awareness to cut through illusion inside. The book is our need to practice the methods, the teaching, to study the scriptures. Knowledge and being together is synthesized in Manjushri, a great deity venerated by the Buddhists.
Divine and Human Knowledge
Likewise, we have to emphasize that knowledge is necessary, but not for the sake of memory. Also, when we talk about knowledge, there are really two forms. I'm going to explain this in relation to the Sufi scripture we've been commenting on, Revelation of the Mystery:
Knowledge is of two kinds, divine and human. The latter is worthless in comparison with the former, because God's knowledge is an attribute of himself subsisting in him, whose attributes are infinite, whereas our knowledge is an attribute of ourselves subsisting in us, whose attributes are finite. ―Al-Hujwiri, Kashf al-Mahjub: Revelation of the Mystery
This is very profound, because in Sufism, or really the mystical traditions of Islam, they say that when we know God directly, one acquires those attributes inside. Allah or the being, our inner divinity, manifests in our psyche in order for us to know him directly, and that knowledge of him is a quality of being. It's self-knowledge, genuine spiritual knowledge. In Hinduism, we call it Atma Vidya, Knowledge of Atman, the Divine Self.
People when they hear this think, "Self-realization? That means the common self that I have." It doesn't mean that. To experience the superior self of divinity, we have to really transcend all the type of knowledge we have of ourselves on an intellectual level, because the knowledge of ourselves that we have, of our job, our culture, our language, our customs, our habits, our beliefs, our family, these things are terrestrial. They are finite. They have a limit, a beginning and an end on the line of life. Our language is acquired at birth or in childhood, and we lose our language, and our customs, and our culture when we enter the grave. Those of you who are familiar with reincarnation, or the doctrine of the transmigration of souls into different bodies, can experience this; we teach it as science. We have methods to be aware of our past lives, to study where we come from.
For me personally, this is not something I believe. It's something I know, because I remember. I've had experiences about my own past lives by doing certain practices in this tradition that helped me to have insight, to explain why I'm in the certain situation that I'm in. With reincarnation, or better said, reincorporation, one understands that perhaps one was not in America but in the Middle East as a Sufi, or in Asia as a Buddhist. I've personally had the experience where in certain past lives, I was Muslim, but I'm totally not from that tradition now. I learned Arabic, and I knew that tradition and culture within a very ancient time, but where has it gone? I memorized, and I studied, and I learned this, but it didn't keep with me, because it wasn't part of my being. I didn't really awaken my consciousness at that point. Being aware of it now makes me think that the things that we study in this life, if they're not comprehended and experienced, we forget them when we go to the grave. That's all part of the line of life. Real, genuine spiritual knowledge is the line of being, Atma Vidya, self-knowledge, knowledge of Christ, of Allah, of Buddha, inside.
Knowledge has been defined as comprehension and investigation of the object known. But the best definition of it is this. A quality whereby the ignorant are made wise. ―Al-Hujwiri, Kashf al-Mahjub: Revelation of the Mystery
This is talking about the genuine meaning of spiritual knowledge. It isn't intellectual, but spiritual, from insight. It's a quality whereby the ignorant are made wise. To be ignorant doesn't mean to not have book knowledge. We think of people in the country, people who are not part of the city or universities, as being ignorant. They don't study or read books. They're not cultured. That's not the meaning of ignorance. To be ignorant is to lack gnosis. Ignorance, i-gnosis. The prefix “I,” before ignorance, negates gnosis, signifying “without.” Gnosis means knowledge from experience, therefore ignorance means to have no understanding of who God is, because God is the true identity.
So all of us are ignorant to a degree. We all have ignorance and darkness in our mind since we haven't really experienced divinity, what God is, so we are ignorant. We are ignorant because we have the ego, the “I,” inside, the mind, the intellect divorced from the Being. We may be cultured and intellectual, but we may still be ignorant due to lack understanding of the genuine nature of reality. We lack genuine understanding of reality because of the “me,” “myself,” the “I,” the false self, egotistical states of suffering, which prevents us from knowing divinity. We have the “I” inside that negates true knowledge, I-gnorance.
God's knowledge is that by which he knows all things existent and nonexistent. He does not share it with man. It is not capable of division nor separable from Himself. ―Al-Hujwiri, Kashf al-Mahjub: Revelation of the Mystery
Therefore, if we want to know what genuine spiritual knowledge is, we have to unite with our divinity; that is the meaning here, because real knowledge is not in books, but it's in our experience of divinity. That's a part of Him and Her, masculine and feminine.
The proof of it lies in the disposition of His actions, since action demands knowledge in the agent as an indispensable condition. ―Al-Hujwiri, Kashf al-Mahjub: Revelation of the Mystery
This is very interesting if we know the Christian scriptures, especially since the book of James says, "Faith without works is dead." We may believe in a tradition or faith, but if we don't have practice or action, it's a dead faith. It's a dead religion. Therefore, action demands knowledge as the agent, is indispensable. Action and knowledge, being and knowledge, have to be combined.
The divine knowledge penetrates what is hidden and comprehends what is manifest. It behooves the seeker to contemplate God in every act, knowing that God sees him and all that he does. ―Al-Hujwiri, Kashf al-Mahjub: Revelation of the Mystery
Self-observation and Awakened Consciousness
In this teaching, we talk about observation, exercising spiritual perception, like a muscle. We show this image again to emphasize that it is precisely in this moment in which we learn to observe ourselves, to have the perspective like we are seeing ourselves for the first time. In this teaching, we talk about a saying by the founder of this tradition who says, "The truth is the unknown from moment to moment." There's always something that we need to be seeing new inside of ourselves and also outside, through alert novelty, clarity, where we sense and understand life in a new way.
We've all had this when we were younger, in a moment perhaps with family, where we were present in the instant, and we felt the joy of being alive. In a moment like that, there is clarity, and we see life as if it is completely new. We didn't have our education or our ideas to project and to create problems and worry us. Instead, we were living life in the present. Children have access to that more than adults, because they haven't developed what is known as personality yet, their custom, or habits. Also, this is why Jesus taught that one must become like a little child to enter the kingdom of heaven, to have an innocent mind, a mind that sees life in a new way in each instant.
Usually we go through our home or our job mechanically. We don't really think about what we do. We just do it. It means that we're not really cognizant of what we're doing.
It's precisely from moment to moment that in this instant we learn to perceive life. We say that awakened perception of life is like watching a film. We try to see life in a new way, each instant, without identifying ourselves with exterior circumstances or negative internal states. When thoughts emerge, really we have to learn how to separate psychologically from thought, from feeling, from sensation. We call this self-observation, meaning: we are observing from the perspective of the consciousness. This consciousness is called soul in some religions. It's called buddhata in Buddhism, essence of the Buddha. This is really our genuine spiritual nature, which can resolve all of our issues when we develop it.
Likewise, this superior state of being is not something necessarily devoid of thought, feeling, or sensation, but it means that we comprehend what we are experiencing in this moment—not identifying with it but instead identifying with God, the joy of God, who is Being, who is presence, who is genuine faith, love, and compassion that is limitless. These are qualities of divinity that we learn to develop as we separate from what is negative in us and learn how to comprehend how part of our soul is conditioned by these elements, such as anger, or pride, or vanity as we were discussing.
We learn to observe this all in ourselves, to have the perspective that we are seeing ourselves as if we'd never seen ourselves before. Again, this refers to the beginning of our lecture, the need to see life in a new way, to understand that the type of knowledge we seek is inside, and that we need to learn how to reevaluate what is it we know. This watchfulness is known in different traditions by many names. In Buddhism, it's called mindfulness. In this tradition, it's called self-observation. In Sufism, it's called muraqaba, vigilance, to be in vigil.
If we learn to start observing ourselves, we find that we get distracted. We suddenly realize, "Wait, what happened a minute ago?" If we examine our day, we find that there are moments or periods in which we don't remember what happened. We should really remember everything we do, even the thoughts or our feelings or emotions we have in a given instant. When we find that there are gaps in our memory about what happened or what we said to a certain person, it means that we're not cognizant. It means that there are gaps in our memory. To be in vigil, in different traditions, they sometimes do practices all night. They don't sleep physically. I'm not speaking about that specifically. To be in vigil is to be awake as a psyche, because in the myth of Psyche in Greek teachings, mythology, Psyche is asleep. She needs to be awakened by Eros, the force of love, the Being.
To remember divinity in this instant is to be in vigil. It's also to be in prayer. To pray is to speak with divinity inside, to connect with divinity, with whatever words are natural to us. A teaching from a Sufi scripture, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism, states the following. This quote is from a Sufi master by the name of Al-Wasiti:
The best act of worship is watchfulness of the moments, that is, that the servant not look beyond his limit, not contemplate anything other than his lord, and not associate with anything other than this present moment… ―Al-Wasiti, quoted in Al-Qushayri's Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
…meaning, we have to stop thinking about where we're going to go, or our daydreams, or job. If we're driving our car, let's drive our car. Let's not think about our family or spouse or other things, but be present when we're driving, because really the reason why there's so many accidents is because people are asleep psychologically. They don't pay attention. They're not aware of what's going on inside or outside. We do this all the time. We're not aware of ourselves. The best prayer to divinity is to be aware and awake, and to not contemplate anything other than the presence of our divinity. That's something we learn to develop and cultivate through spiritual practices that we have in this tradition, that help us generate energy to strengthen our soul.
In this image, speaking precisely about the need to become a child, we have an image of the Virgin Mary holding the Christ child. We need the mind of a child. It doesn't mean that we're stupid, weak, or vulnerable. It means that we have the qualities that are naturally spontaneous and generative in a child, which is love and fascination, and a profound awareness of things. You see a child, they look at everything with amazement, and we've lost that, but that's something that we can regain inside as a spiritual quality. It doesn't mean we become like infants physically, but really the meaning is psychological. We have a profound love for life in this instant.
We emphasize the following from our teacher in this tradition, Samael Aun Weor, in his book Tarot and Kabbalah, about the need to become like a child:
One has to change the processing of reasoning for the quality of discernment. Discernment is the direct perception of the truth without the process of reasoning. Discernment is comprehension without the need of reasoning. We must change the process of reasoning for the beauty of comprehension. The mind must be completely transformed into an infant. It must be converted into a child full of beauty. ―Samael Aun Weor, Tarot and Kabbalah
What is discernment? It means to know something without having to think about it. We have a hunch, we know something is right or wrong, and then the intellect debates. "I should do this because," and then we have many excuses and reasons in the mind, but first that hunch comes like a lightning bolt, sparks in our heart, and then the thunder of the mind comes after and says, "We should do this instead... I have this reason. I need to do this or that."
We need to learn how to discern what is objective in us. What is that lightning that we experience, and what is reasoning? By this we're not referring to the need to get rid of the intellect altogether. We need the intellect, but we have to understand its place. It's useful in its place when it serves our Being. Knowledge that's in the service of our inner God is useful, but knowledge, a mind that knows how to reason without the virtues of divinity, is harmful, like a scientist who can create atomic bombs and more creative ways to kill other human beings. People use their reasoning for evil things. We see this all over the world. Instead, we want to learn how to use our mind to develop the virtues of divinity.
The Tree of Life
Synthesizing everything we've stated, we have the following teaching by another Sufi master. People talk about heaven and hell in religion in different traditions. The type of self-knowledge we're talking about requires the abandonment of our previous conceptions of self and to enter into a new experience of who we are as a divinity, and who is divinity inside of us.
In this image, we have what is known as Kabbalah, the tree of life. This is simply a map of being. It's a structure that shows us the nature of divinity and its different aspects. It's not our intention to explain each aspect, but just to emphasize this tree of life is precisely the burning bush that Moses saw as a symbol of divinity, the tree of being. This tree of life is inside. It's a map of our consciousness, and really represents for us heaven, superior ways of being, superior states.
Hell for us is not a place, but a mental state. When we are gripped by anger, we suffer, we are in hell. When we are afraid, we're uncertain about our life, where we're going, what we're going to do economically to pay our rent, we suffer. That's hell. John Milton, the author of Paradise Lost, he stated the following:
The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven. ―John Milton, Paradise Lost
Likewise our mind determines our life. We have this quote from a Sufi master who very beautifully and succinctly states:
Wherever the delusion of your selfhood appears, there is hell. Wherever you aren't, that's heaven. ―Abū Sa’īd in Ibn Munawwar: Asrār at-tawḥīd, ed. Shafī‘ī-Kadkanī, 299
It doesn't mean that it's a type of nihilism, but it's a negation of our inferior ways of being and their replacement for a superior way of being. To experience joy, we have to get rid of anger. We have to comprehend our psychological elements that make us suffer and to remove them in order to free the consciousness that is trapped inside, like the genie in Aladdin's lamp. We need to remove our false conceptions of self, because that's hell. The suffering that we have, terrestrial suffering in daily experience, is a type of hell for us. Heaven is where we see that we are not necessarily a part of that as a soul, and that we can escape that if we learn to pay attention.
Following the theme of this lecture, we've been explaining a lot from Sufi doctrine. In this image, we have a very famous image of Prophet Mohammed, who in this symbol is riding a mystical animal whose name is Al-Buraq. We understand from Gnosis that all religions are really precious pearls. They all express a divine teaching. This is not a representation of the religions as they are today, but in their original root; these teachers came to found and explain the root signs of how to liberate consciousness, how to free ourselves from suffering. Likewise, we explain also in many lectures how even a misunderstood and misrepresented tradition like Islam has a place in this tradition, particularly the symbol of Mohammed riding an animal to heaven, Al-Buraq.
The mythological creature is represented as the size of a mule with the face of a woman, the tail of a peacock. I know there are people who literally believe this happened, but this is a symbol. We can explain it through teachings like kabbalah, that this is really something applicable inside. Al-Buraq means “lightning.” That lightning is the energy of divinity we call Christ, which can take us up from here, in this physical world, up the tree of life, as you saw in the Hebrew image.
In his teaching, he explained how one can ascend from suffering to a superior level of being. The Sufis really explain this very beautifully:
In general, it is to the measure of one's alienation from one's own ego that one attains direct knowledge of one's lord… ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
…meaning heaven is where we are not, our defects. Heaven is when the soul, the mind, is in peace and silence, and can reflect the beauty of divinity inside psychologically.
I heard Abu Ali al-Daqqaq say, "One of the tokens of the gnosis of God is the achievement of deep awe and reverence for God. If someone's realization increases, his awe increases." ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
Again like a child, we look at life and we see that we have awe, that spontaneous feeling of joy such as when we see a rainfall outside, and the expression of a sense of peace about the beauty of what we're experiencing. Without having to think about it or saying, "This is beautiful," we just simply relax and reflect on the nature of the sight that we're experiencing. The type of awe that we experience, on a superficial level we could say, and at a deeper level, we begin to experience what divinity is, we feel that awe of that tremendous power that is inside of us that can give us genuine happiness.
If someone's realization increases, his awe increases, meaning: if someone's knowledge of divinity, genuine knowledge of what divinity is, increases, his awe increases.
"Gnosis requires stillness of heart, just as learning requires outward quiet. If someone's gnosis increases, his tranquility increases." ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
We teach the science of meditation as the core practice, how to achieve mental silence, peace so that we can know divinity directly. As our knowledge of divinity increases, we have more peace in life, more joy, because we begin to remove what in us obstructs us from the goal.
This type of state requires that we abandon false knowledge about ourselves. Of course, this is a very challenging thing to confront, but all religions teach the need to really confront the obstacles that are inside that prevent us from reaching divinity. All that is impure in us psychologically needs to die, as Jesus taught with his passion, meaning he represented how any person on this spiritual path needs to remove the impurities. That's precisely through his crucifixion. It was a very painful process, but one that transformed him radically. This is something that he represented with his life. That's something that we need to do inside. It's not something to be believed in outside, but from practice.
Annihilation and Subsistence in the Being
In this image, we have again some Sufis in prayer. To emphasize what is the nature of being, I'm going to continue elaborating with two more quotes from Principles of Sufism, which is a Gnostic text.
There is no finding the truth save after the extinction of the ordinary human condition, because when the power of reality manifests, (or the power of Being), the perception of material things cannot endure." This is the meaning of the saying of Abul Hussein Al-Nuri: "For 20 years, I had been finding and losing. When I have found my lord, I have lost my heart. When I have found my heart, I have lost my lord. ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
What does that mean? If we identify with our self-will, we forget God, but if we remember God as a universal presence inside, one forgets one's usual sense of individuality. This is something that is fearful and frightening to the mind, because the mind does not know what is beyond itself, but this is a type of cognizance which is liberating, which we can develop through practice. As we become associated and affiliated with what are the states of divinity inside, there is a sense of freedom and genuine happiness, because that energy known as Allah or Christ or Buddha inside is eternal. It never changes or dies.
It is also the meaning of the saying of Junayd: “The knowledge of unity is contrary to its existence, and its existence is contrary to the knowledge of it.” ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
What is this knowledge of unity? We talk about how God is one. In Judaism, we say:
שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ יְהוָה אֶחָֽד
Basically in a synagogue, when you pronounce this, it's basically the declaration of faith of Judaism. You cover your eyes. You say, “Shema yisrael yod-chavah eloheinu yod-chavah echad,” meaning, "Jehovah the Lord, Jehovah is one." The Muslims say:
لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا ٱللَّٰهُ مُحَمَّدٌ رَسُولُ ٱللَّٰهِ
This unity is a type of integration with divinity; it’s an intelligence that is not dispersed. God we say is one, is a singular force, which is one with the cosmos. We want to seek to become one with that cosmic consciousness. The knowledge of unity is contrary to its existence, meaning in the beginning, we study. We have intellectual ideas about what this type of state of being is, and then later we come to experience it. First we study, then we practice, and then we experience. This is really the gradual practice that we develop, and its existence is contrary to the knowledge of it. Again, if we have the knowledge about these teachings but don't experience them, we need to learn to experience them, which is why we have different books that give different practices for that.
The final quote here. We have an image of Arabic calligraphy. In Arabic, this represents Al-Nur, meaning the light. This is a famous surah from the Qur’an, which says, "Light upon light." That light is our inner perception, our inner lord inside. We all have that light of divinity within us, which we can actualize if we learn to practice it, exercise it.
The final quote we have here, from Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri, summarizes our points about the nature of being.
The man of being possesses both sober balance and obliteration of self. ―Al-Qushayri Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
Meaning egotistical self. Sober means, really, the teaching of being balanced psychologically and not being drunk on egotism. It’s not something physical. It's not a reference to just abstaining from drinking alcohol. In Islam, Muslims don't drink alcohol at all, but the psychological meaning of it is that we're not intoxicated by false conceptions of self, but instead, we are obliterated. That negative sense of self we have is obliterated, and there's only the presence and joy of divinity inside.
His state of sobriety is his continued existence in the real. His state of obliteration is his annihilation in the real. ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
Heaven is where we aren't, but hell is where our mistaken sense of self is.
These two states always come upon him in succession. When sobriety in the real overcomes him, he acts and speaks in truth… ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
…which is why certain masters who really united with divinity very fully, like Jesus, could say, "I am the Christ," because Christ was manifest in him, or certain Muslim prophets like Mansur Al-Hallaj, a famous Sufi poet, said, "Ana 'l-Ḥaqq," meaning, "I am the truth," meaning God spoke through him. The Muslims of the time had him tortured and mutilated, because they were offended, because that's the name of God. He says, “I am God," like Jesus said, "I am the Christ." People don't understand that it's divinity inside that manifested within the terrestrial person, the Being manifested in that individual.
The prophet reported from God Most High relating a non-Qur'anic divine utterance or Hadith Qudsi, Muslim oral tradition. "With me, he hears, and with me, he sees." ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
That profound state in which there is no individual sense of self but there's only God inside is really the goal.
To conclude, we emphasize that we need to balance our study with practice. We need to study the nature of being inside. What is our being? Who is our being? Who is our divinity? These are things that we've begun to understand as we reflect and observe our daily life.
Questions and Answers
Question: What daily practice do you have to run that internal connection with divinity?
Instructor: The primary practice we use is meditation. We have many exercises also, such as mantras, which are sacred sounds. By learning to work with the energies of our body, and our mind, and heart, we learn to activate spiritual perception. By working with sacred sounds, those sounds help to vibrate the different glands of our body, to activate what is known as chakras, the spiritual forces or circulation of energies which can awaken our consciousness. We have many exercises with mantras, such as exercises called runes, a type of Tibetan yoga postures, meditation specifically, and exercises called transmutation, where we transform the energies of our body to consciousness.
All the books that we sell have many practices to use. These are very practical books for how to awaken that perception. You can find more information on our website as well for different individual practices. Comments or questions?
Question: I've been studying higher thinking for probably longer than all of you have been alive. Not until I heard the word Being did it trigger something very authentic, very accurate, or whatever. It basically really helped. I had not heard that before. I'm placing high value on the language that I hear.
Instructor: We say in this teaching, particularly in The Revolution of the Dialectic, it's a book from our founder of this tradition. He states that, "Socrates demanded precision of his terminology." We use many terms that are very specific and scientific. Being is one of them. In Arabic, we call it wujud, or we simply say being, but in nature it refers to our divinity inside. We have to understand that the Being is here and now, and that we can only access it if we learn to direct attention from a new perspective.
Question: Do you have these books here? If you're sort of a novice and trying to learn more, what do you recommend to read?
Instructor: I'd recommend Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology. This book explains the foundation for working with consciousness and how we learn to direct attention. The teachings of self-observation or mindfulness that we've discussed in brief are fully explained in that text. It's a very strong and powerful teaching. I haven't found any other author who has been more explicit. We study in this tradition many scriptures, Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and in terms of practical application, these texts that we have available have been helpful, because they're very clear and very powerful, and practical. Personally, I would advise learning about self-observation, learning awareness about oneself, one should study Revolutionary Psychology, the book that you have in your hand. As an introductory text, it's very practical. It explains how to understand self, what is self, what is being, and what is divinity.
If there's something you want to look at more in-depth, you can look online. If there are more questions, we'll conclude.
Question: I think I understand what you're saying and I understand why we want to study this, but if I really understand it, why do I sometimes feel the resistance to practice?
Instructor: That resistance is, in psychological terms, we call ego. Ego is Latin for I, and we say that we don't have one I but many ‘I’s. Pride is an I, anger is an I, lust is an I. It's a different defect, a different type of self. As we begin to study this type of teaching and practice, we get resistance, because the mind does not want to experience or does not want to change, fundamentally.
This is precisely the great drama that any saint goes through, such as you see the temptation of St. Anthony, in which he's surrounded in his images and artwork by many demons. The demons are inside him. Those are different defects that are fighting against him to destroy his spiritual work. This is the meaning of the word Satan. It isn't a guy in a red suit with a pitchfork and horns. It refers to Hebrew Shatan, which means adversary. God wants to develop something inside of us, but our own defects don't want to change. They want to hold onto their habits, so there's a big battle that we have to face. The fact that you have resistance is normal. The next step is to develop understanding of what is that resistance so that you can overcome it.
Question: How do I develop that so that I can overcome?
Instructor: Comprehension. You need to observe. Like it says in Revolutionary Psychology, when you have a problem, when you have a conflict or resistance in your mind, observe that in yourself. Observe what is inside. That's the key. If you don't see it, you can't change it. If you see it, you can transform it.
Question: I see it, so how do I kill it?
Instructor: Basically, we have meditation. I am really happy for that question, because people are afraid of what we call mystical death. They hear about the Buddhist annihilation, the death of the ego, and they get scared. What will I be after I die as a mind? Meaning, the Being will be there. Study the book Revolution of the Dialectic. It explains that, and we'll talk more in depth, but thank you for coming.
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