States of Consciousness
Humanity is very deeply interested and invested in explaining the nature of consciousness. However, the problem is that science, religion, art, and philosophy do not really understand what consciousness is, and primarily this is due to the fact that they lack effective methods to really qualify, to measure, to define, a quality of being, a state of perception. Everyone believes that they understand what consciousness really is, and yet the evidence is contrary, due to the conflicts between schools, between religions, scientific research, inquiries, theory, schools of thought, philosophy. Many times, they fight against each other, contradicting each other, and even contradicting themselves.
The truth about consciousness is very defined. It is a very specific state of perceiving, and yet, the reason why people do not understand it is that they ignore the experiential dimension of perception. Science likes to measure consciousness in accordance with quantitative research, when in truth consciousness is a qualitative state. It is a dynamic range of experience, which can only be verified through practice, through facts, through genuine exploration, through introspection of oneself.
In a superficial sense, people who know that when a boxer is knocked out in a ring, he loses consciousness, and when he awakes again, he has regained it. So, people think that consciousness is being physical active, being in the body, being the body itself, in movement, in one’s daily routine, and yet this is a very superficial understanding of what consciousness is, because having energy, and vitality to go through one’s day does not really capture the dynamic spectrum of possibility.
There are many qualities of consciousness which are very dynamic, profound, intricate, specific, whether positive or negative, liberated or conditioned. As we have explained in previous lectures, consciousness is the capacity to perceive, and yet that perception can be clouded, conditioned, obscured, or it can be free, pristine, sharp, lucid, attentive. There are qualities of consciousness that are very divine, beyond the states and experiences of physical life, but also there are states that are diabolic, that are negative, that are infernal, belonging to egotism, states of pride, anger, hatred, vanity, lust. So being physically awake is one base level of experience. It does not take in to account the full range of human qualities, or the animalistic qualities within the psyche.
So to be very specific, the consciousness is the soul, is the Essence. It is the prima matter of what we are. It is the synthesis of what we are. It is the capacity to perceive, and this is what gives the basis in which to experience thought, feeling, will. Consciousness is not limited to conditioning, to mechanical thinking, to negative feeling, to animalistic desire, instinct, and will. So whether we have studied this type of knowledge for a long time, or if we are new to this, this distinction is very profound, and must be revisited again and again, when we introspect and examine what states in us are negative. What is conditioned? What is that that makes us suffer, and what is the state of liberation that the Buddhist’s call Nirvana―"cessation of suffering,” cessation of the psychological causes of affliction?
Self-observation is a psychological sense that we need to cultivate through experience. We may know intellectually that our body is sick, that we are pain, that we are in a state of anger, but are we actually observing that state? People think they know where they are at, or what they are doing. We may know we are full of fear, with pain, with sorrow, but the question is: are we observing this fact? Are we introspecting as a consciousness in to our three brains, into our intellectual brain, our emotional brain, our motor-instinctual-sexual brain? Are we looking in to see that we are not thought, that we are separate from feeling, we are different from impulse? We have to be really honest. How often are we examining ourselves? This is the basis of self-transformation. It is self-observation.
When a person insults us, we tend to react in a mechanical, conditioned type of way. This is due to identification, habits, and mechanical, repetitive behaviour. What is identification? It is when we feel, we identify, we believe that we are the “I.” When anger afflicts us, when someone insults, and hurts our self-esteem, we immediately respond with feelings of pain, with the thought that “he wronged me,” “she hurt me,” and then there is the will to act, the impulse to say something negative. But if we act on the egotistical states of our interior, we perpetuate pain.
So, we are conditioned. We are mechanical beings. We are human machines. Impressions arise within our senses, our mind interprets what we hear, what we see, and then the mind reacts with thoughts, feelings, and will. If we wish to experience liberation, transformation, we need to learn how to see the impressions as they arrive within the senses, and how our mind, our ego reacts.
Self-transformation is only possible when we comprehend what perception is, when we are not limiting our perception to thinking. Observation is different from thought. Observation is conscious before, during, and after the thinking process. It is what allows us to be. It is before the senses, but how many of us have experiences of that? We have to be very sincere. Most of the time we are afflicted with pride, anger, pain, anxiety, conflict, contradictions, confusion. Our life is a state of misery if we never question ourselves, and so in this lecture we are going to examine how to do that, the techniques, from understanding ourselves, our ego, the multiplicity of egos: different selves with their own ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving.
Self-observation is the way, the way of seeing thoughts, feelings, and will as they are. So this is a state of clarity, of seeing, of understanding, because most of the time we think, and feel, and act in response to what people say to us. We are machines. We are mechanical, unless we observe this process within ourselves, and the processes of the ego, how pride emerges, and results in relation to the impressions of life, to observe the relationship. Why did this insult bring out my pride, followed by anger, or disdain? Are we really comprehending where these thoughts come from, how they sustain, and how they pass? So we are building up a discussion of the three brains, the machinery of the mind, the heart, and the body.
The consciousness is the ability to operate and manage the three brains. So, you can think of the three brains as a car which can be driven by someone who is sober, intelligent, conscious. A car is useful in its place, on the road, in order to get from destination A to destination B. The same allegory applies to our spiritual life, but we know in life there are people who are irresponsible, who are alcoholics, who drive vehicles while intoxicated. This is a symbol of a direct representation of our ego.
Our ego uses our three brains to cause harm. Our defects use our thinking, our feeling, and acting, our ability to relate to the world in order to commit and perpetuate pain. So, the Essence must operate the human machine. Our soul must be present, must be awake, must be here and now if we wish to cease suffering.
Matter, Energy, and Consciousness
We know that every atom is a trio of matter, energy, and consciousness. Atoms have a material, an energetic, and a conscious function. As above, so below.
Within our microcosmic universe, within the atom, is a representation of our psychological and spiritual life. The atom is the unit of creation. It is a trio. It is a trinity, and if we are familiar with many religions including Christianity, Buddhism, as well, Hinduism, there are many trinitites, representations of spiritual relationships within oneself and the universe.
So, every atom, every particle has consciousness. It has energy. It has matter. All three are essential dynamics for understanding how to transform our psyche, and if we do not take into consideration how matter, energy, and consciousness work together, our efforts to transform suffering become incipient, ineffective. They lack expediency. Every practice in our Gnostic tradition involves work with matter, energy, and perception.
What is interesting too is that in quantum mechanics, science has discovered that light particles make conscious decisions. So people who have a sceptical mind, who doubt how even particles and energy have intelligence, should reflect on this fact. Our body, our matter, has profound storehouses of intelligences, of energy which we are not even aware of. The consciousness works with energy. It works with the body, yet it is not limited to physical matter.
So, we explained previously how the three brains are the mechanism by which we experience daily life. However, contrary to popular belief, in brain research, in materialistic science, these three brains, especially the intellectual brain, the physical matter, is not the creator or originator of perception. While matter is a vehicle for consciousness, it does not produce consciousness. Materialistic science only measures things in accordance to appearance. It refuses to deny its own scepticism, its doubt. People who are asleep as a soul, even when physically active, do not experience the inner realities of the psyche, the internal worlds, such as when in dreams, when we as a consciousness are active outside the vehicle of matter.
We explore these issues from experience, and this is the fundamental flaw of modern science, is that while propounding a neutral scientific inquiry, it often fails to enact its own principles of investigation, because many scientists are very sceptical of conscious experiences outside of the body. But of course, we have methods to verify these truths, and the more we do so, we are studying ourselves, and so the physical brain is not the creator of thought. It is the vehicle. It is the apparatus, the machine that performs a single function, which is to store information―that is it. It can store concepts, theories, beliefs, thesis and antithesis, ideas, ideologies, political agendas, etc., and yet that is not a true predicator of true intelligence, because the intellect can be used to commit crimes, violence, genocide, extortion. We can simply look at the Holocaust, how much intellectual brilliance was used to commit the worst crimes.
Real intelligence is not the intellect. To be intelligent means to know how to relate with all phenomena with wisdom, with consciousness, with serenity, with understanding, so that we do not create pain. The intellectual brain with its grey matter is found in the cerebral spinal system. It is a vehicle of the mind. It allows thought to exist within the body, to transmit in the same way that a circuit transmits forces through positive, negative, and neutral charges. This is known within atomic science, physics, quantum mechanics.
We also possess emotional intelligence, developed in the emotional brain, our sentiments which has its own capacity for understanding. Really, this is much more dynamic than the intellect. So with the intellect we store memories, ideas, imaginings, but the heart is much more profound, the emotional brain. Really, humanity is more emotional than anything, and fights and kills because of negative emotion, hurt pride, revenge, retaliation. So the emotional brain is much more powerful than the intellect, because it processes energy within the physical matter of the heart, with its nervous systems, so that we can process a more profound level of intelligence, sentiment, feeling, relationships.
We relate to the world through our heart, with people, with feeling, which can be positive like in states of compassion, serenity, conscious love. There are scientists who say that the heart, its nervous systems, the grand sympathetic nervous system, has a tremendous storehouse of intelligence. There are people who have been studied who can sense family members on other sides of the planet who are in suffering without having any contact or have knowledge of that person. They simply intuitively know that this person is in danger, and then later they find out that they had that premonition, that the person was in danger, was in suffering.
Lastly, we have a more powerful brain, which can be the vehicle of transformation. It is the motor-instinctive-sexual brain where we process movement, impulse, and desire. It is the brain of action. It is the most dynamic, profound, powerful, transformative, and intelligent brain. It operates at a very profound speed. It is quicker than the other brains, and it is the matter, it is the energy, and it is the conduit for conscious awakening.
By working with the sexual energy, which is an electric force, a cognitive force, we learn to awaken our full potential. So notice how each of the three brains has its material component, but also has energy related to each of the three brains. However, we have to remember that energy is not consciousness. Energy is what empowers consciousness. Whether we are conditioned, or whether we are liberated from that conditioning, whether we are free of the ego, or whether we are enslaved to it, we really need energy in order to operate in an intellectual way, in an emotional way, in our movement, in our instincts, and especially with our sexual energy, our sexual behavior. Remember that if a car runs out of fuel it dies, it stops. The same with the three brains. So we have to give it good fuel, and to balance these centers. Do not use too much energy in either of the three brains, especially the sexual energy. We must always conserve it so that it becomes the foundation by which we empower consciousness, which we have explained previously.
Definitions of Consciousness
So consciousness has many states, qualities, degrees, and according to the 14th Dalai Lama:
We must develop the conviction that consciousness has the capacity to expand to an infinite degree. ―The 14th Dalai Lama
This is why we study meditation. Meditation teaches us these definitions and principles.
So we can examine some common etymologies, or better said, scientific, common definitions of consciousness in order to elaborate on the principles that we are covering in this course.
It is said to be “conscious; knowledge of one’s own existence, condition, sensations, mental operations, acts, etc.”
What does it mean to be conscious? People believe that thought, feeling, impulse, demonstrate our state of cognizance, an awakened level of being, yet this is very mistaken. How many times have we travelled on the road, or by train, thinking of other things, lost in a chain of mechanical associative thinking, daydreaming, thinking of the past, planning for the future, and then we realise we missed our stop? We forgot to get off the turnpike to reach our destination. There are many times when we do not see or notice where we are. We do not even know or understand what our surroundings are, what we see in front of us. This results in accidents, and tremendously dangerous ones. This causes problems.
We do not know what is happening. We could be walking down the street, looking at our iPhone, or simply lost in reverie until we bump into someone, or perhaps enter into a bad neighbourhood because we were not paying attention, and this is our chronic state. We often do not understand or remember where we are at, what is going on around us. It is a profound state of sleep, of ignorance.
Likewise, we often forget what we are thinking about. It then becomes difficult later to recall what exactly preoccupied us in that moment.
Likewise, there are many processes, and sensations, that occur throughout our body without the slightest intervention, or awareness of our consciousness. This means that we were asleep.
We are driving the car, but we are not aware of where we are at, that we are behind the wheel. This is also metaphorical, but it can also be literal. There are people who drive their car without any awareness of what they are doing. This is why many accidents happen, but spiritually speaking, we commit many mistakes when we are not driving our three brains with intelligence, with intentionality. We simply believe in whatever thoughts, feelings, and impulses emerge. We ignore where those thoughts, feelings, and impulses emerge, where they come from, that they are separate from the soul, from the consciousness, from the essence. We tend to react to life without wisdom. This is evident by our suffering, and in crises we respond and react mechanically, without comprehension, without ethics, which always results in the exaggeration of our suffering.
Consciousness is also the “immediate knowledge or perception of any object, state, or sensation.”
So not only do we lack an understanding of our internal states, but our relationship to life, to external persons, to objects, to our surroundings, and lastly, consciousness is “an alert cognitive state in which you are aware of yourself and your situation."
The Powers of Consciousness
So consciousness is beyond thought, feeling, sensation. However, that consciousness can utilize the intellectual brain, the emotion brain, and the motor brain in order to act, but it is only possible to understand when we observe what is going on in our interior. The way we do so is through the four powers of consciousness.
So in order to understand what the consciousness is, we study four dynamics, qualities, or principles of the consciousness, and the terms you often see here are often confused by many people in different spiritual movements.
A lot of people talk about awareness, about paying attention, about being mindful, and about visualizing the goal of one’s desires.
Awareness is simply a spatial perception. It is a vast expansive state in which, if we are seated in a chair, out from our home window we can see whatever surroundings exist with clarity. It is a state, a quality. If our spatial perception is broad and vast, we will be able to register with our understanding what is around us.
Of course, we have to remember that our senses relate to our consciousness. They are the vehicle by which the consciousness can act. So when we talk about awareness, real awareness is not limited to simply our vision, our hearing, our sense of external perceptions. We can experience a state of awareness while the physical body sleeps, in which we awaken from a dream, a dream state, in which we have left the physical body behind. This is known as astral projection, dream yoga, out of body experiences, lucid dreaming. We are no longer in the body physically, but as a soul, as an Essence, we are in the internal planes, the fifth dimension. If we are practicing awareness throughout our daily life, we can see our surroundings within the astral dimension. We can see trees, buildings, cars, people, with depth, with color, with sounds. There is a type of expansive quality relating to awareness, which of course is easy to see from a state of awakening from the dream world, but we begin that development within the physical world.
We need to be aware of our surroundings. If we are walking down the street, we are not only observing our internal psychological states, but also what is going on outside of us. This is a psychological sense that is very atrophied in people, because like a muscle that is not exercised, it becomes weak. It is not able to channel a lot of energy. So, our consciousness right now is very weak. This is evident when by observing our day, we try to remember the presence of our inner divinity. We become aware of our surroundings, but also the qualities of love, of awakening, of awareness, states of compassion, of serenity, of temperance. We have to be aware that we are in the body, that we are operating the car, that we are driving our car, but most of the time we get lost in thought. We lose our attention.
So, this brings us to our next principle. Attention is different to awareness. Attention is a type of consciousness that is focused on one thing. Most of the time our attention is invested in our thinking. We either preoccupy ourselves with the memories of our past or plans for the future. This type of consciousness is the opposite to attention, where the mind wanders, thinking of other things, but not paying attention to your task that is in front of us, within the body.
Attention is a state of concentration, to focus on one thing without losing our understanding of the moment. Awareness is broad. Attention is focused. If you think of it in terms of light, awareness is diffused. It expands. It reaches outwards, but attention reaches inward. We pay attention through self-observation to what internal states exist within the moment. We examine the three brains. What are we thinking? What are we feeling? What impulses are pushing us to act, to affect the people around us?
Awareness is also essential within this relationship. We often talk about self-observation within these studies. This is paying attention to our internal states, but the challenge is also in relation to awareness. To really understand the ego, we have to be aware of our surroundings. So we are at work, we are at our daily job, we have to be aware of what is going on external to us. This is the event that we must study, and when we have an ordeal, or when someone gossips about us or criticizes us directly, someone does a behaviour that is hurtful to our pride, we have to be aware of what they are saying, what they are doing, where this person is, even what they look like, their dress, their race. What are the surroundings? What is the place that we are in the specific moment during this event, during this crisis? Then we have to pay attention at the same time. We have to pay attention to what reactions emerge.
Some people really struggle with this dynamic, this relationship of principles. We must be aware and attentive. We must pay attention to our internal state in relation to the external event. Without both principles, our comprehension, when we meditate, will be incipient, will lack depth. Every ego responds to an external event, so we have to study ourselves, and the events in relation to us.
As we are doing this diligently, practicing these principles, we are developing mindfulness. A lot of people talk about mindfulness in today’s world in relation to meditation, but there is a lot of vagueness about what this term means. Mindfulness is simply the continuity of the consciousness. So if you are paying attention to yourself at work, perhaps you have a moment of clarity in relation to a client where a conflict emerges, that is the single moment of perception that you were cognizant of. But you may find out later on, as you are trying to pay attention and be aware, you forget yourself. You start thinking of other things, daydreaming, being lost in thought, but then we snap ourselves back to the present moment. We become aware again, attentive again.
Mindfulness is being in a state of continuity, being in a state of flow, where this state of clarity and perception of recognizing the ego continues from moment to moment. If we are honest, most of us forget ourselves all the time, and that we have to bring ourselves back here and now. Mindfulness is that continuity.
The word for “continuum” is Tantra. It is awakening, and of course the ability to be mindful throughout the course of one’s entire day is predicated on the work of sexual energy. The consciousness is empowered with the work of energy, creative energy, which we do through exercises of mantra, breath work, pranayama, alchemy, meditation.
In order to deepen our perception, we work with visualization. This is the capacity to perceive non-physical imagery. So, if I were to tell you to imagine an elephant in front of you, you can see it. That is not physical imagery, but it is psychological. The capacity to visualize is really important for deepening self-observation, attention, awareness. To visualize is the capacity to see within the consciousness, inside.
So, after we have worked with observation and attention, fighting to be mindful throughout the day, gathering data about our defects, our egos we wish to eliminate, we later go home, we sit down in meditation, and we visualize the events of the day. We reflect on what egos emerged. Visualization is powerful. It is transformative, but we cannot visualize well, with clarity, with depth, if we are not working with self-observation and attention. Of course, we have many exercises to develop visualization, imagination exercises to strengthen that sense. It develops greater powers with use. In us, the ability to perceive images in the mind is weakened, and so that is something we need to strengthen through practice.
Three Degrees of Cognizance
In relation to mindfulness, we talk about three degrees of cognizance. These three steps that Samael Aun Weor gives in his book Fundamentals of Gnostic Education is really compelling. These are questions we should ask ourselves all the time, especially when we are sitting at home in our meditation space, our bedroom, wherever it may be to reflect, to retrospect our day. Retrospection meditation is when we, after having worked or gone through our daily occupation, working in self-observation, self-remembering, we visualize the events of the day. We reflect about how cognizant we actually were. Not theorizing, or believing our state, but simply reflect and remembering the qualities of our being.
First: How long did we remain cognizant? So, if you are walking down the street aware of your surroundings in your city, your hometown, going to the store, how long did you remain in that state aware of your surroundings, aware of the people, aware of your breath, your body, your circulation, your blood, the heat of the cold surrounding you, the snow, whatever it may be? How long did we remain in that state?
There is a story given by Ouspensky, I believe, who was teaching self-remembering, and self-observation, where he was in a profound state of awareness, walking down the streets of a city, very awake, describing the minute details of his environment, until he came to a cigar shop where he become fascinated with some things he wanted to buy. So he went into the store and become lost in his desire for this object of tabaco, or whatever he was searching for. When he came home, he suddenly remembered, “I was awake. I just walked home from the cigar shop, yet I cannot remember where I went, what I was doing.” But before that point, he knew all the details of his travel. So, the question remains, how long did we remain cognizant when we were awake, when we were remembering ourselves, remembering where we were at?
But there is a second principle that is also important: How many times did we awaken our consciousness? So in the example of Ouspensky, he remembered where he was until he got to the cigar shop, and he fell asleep again, lost in memories, and then he got home and recalled what he needed to do. So how many times have we remembered to return to the present instant? Buddha Shakyamuni stated that if our meditation is strong, it means that we might of forgotten our object of focus, but yet if we brought our attention back again, again, and again, that is a good meditation―when you bring your attention back and do not forget what you were doing.
Amplitude and Penetration
The last principles are amplitude and penetration. What were we conscious of? So amplification, or amplitude, has to do with quality, expansion. Perhaps we saw the forest of our home. We were walking in a forest preserve observing the trees, nature, our surroundings. Personally, I have been in the habit of going out to the suburbs to walk in the forests in order to practice this exercise of awareness, to see the qualities of the trees, the colors, the sounds, the smells, the feeling of walking on dirt paths. How amplified is our consciousness, and how much have we penetrated into with our insight? How much do we see? How much do we understand? These three principles have serious implications for our work.
The Four States of Consciousness
But also, we study four states of consciousness. In Hinduism they refer to them as Sushupti, Swapna, Jagrat, and Turyia. This is profound sleep, dreaming sleep, waking consciousness, and spiritual illumination.
Sushupti is typically interpreted to mean the sleep we experience when we physically go to bed. Our body goes to sleep, and there is simply no awareness of anything―no dreams―where we sleep eight hours, and we wake up and do not recall anything. This is the common definition and interpretation.
Swapna is dreaming sleep, and the common interpretation is when we go to bed physically, we experience dreams, and upon awakening, Jagrat, into daily life, we recall and remember that we experienced some dreams of whatever quality, depth, or amplitude.
People commonly think that Jagrat, waking consciousness, has to do with being physically active, and of course this is a mistake. As we have been explaining, profound sleep is a state of consciousness, not just with the physical body. There are people that exist in this world who are physically active, and yet they are profoundly asleep as a consciousness. In reality, they might be amidst of a mob or a protest, committing terrible crimes, or else there is a riot, and a person who is not prone to violent behavior becomes fascinated with the crowd, goes along with it, and is enmeshed in barbaric, instinctive behavior. They do things that they would never do in their regular, daily life, and afterward, they would reflect and feel remorse and shame. It means that they were profoundly asleep, in a negative state. They were not aware of what they were doing at all, and this is really the source of many traumas, problems, conflicts.
People do not also understand that they are dreaming even when physically awake. Dreaming sleep is a state of consciousness, not the body, not merely the body. What are dreams? When we are thinking “of my family, my friends, my fiancée, my brother, my sister, whomever it may be,” we are not aware of the instant in which we are at. We are dreaming. We are asleep. We are not paying attention.
Those moments in which we are aware of our surroundings, and entering the state of psychological self-observation, means we are in Jagrat: waking consciousness. We are gathering new data about ourselves so we can transform our conditioned states into spiritual states, which is the state of Turiya: illumination. States of Turyia relate to ways of being in God. The soul is immersed in divinity, in experiences of omniscience, higher states of the cosmos. This is a quality of being that is free of egotism. There is no desire there. It is a state of godly intuition, understanding, and knowing beyond material perceptions. It is a state of pure love, of divinity.
These four states have also been known in Greek. These are Eikasia, Pistis, Dianoia, and Nous. We have an image here of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, and an inscription in Latin on the top from the Bible. I believe the verse states something along the lines of “The light came into the world to deliver to humanity, but people loved the darkness over the light, over divinity.” So in this image we see the allegory related to the cave of Plato. It is a teaching about how the soul escapes the mind, the ego, negative states, in order to enter liberation.
So there is a wall in which we find many people chained by their necks, their arms, and their legs, where they are in a crowded, uncomfortable cave, in darkness. Sometimes by looking across from them while they are in their prison, they can see shadows cast upon the wall in front of them, in front of their faces, primarily because behind them, behind this wall there are people that are passing before a fire. There is a fire in the cave, and many people carry diverse clay pots, objects, and items on their heads, and their hands. The light projecting on to these projects creates shadows on the wall in the cave before these prisoners. So they see either darkness, or shadows.
They think the shadows are reality, the appearances of things, and they have their theories and beliefs, their doctrines, and their dogmas about what these shadows are, and yet they do not see the reality of their prisons, their condition. But fortunately, a guru emerges who reaches behind the wall to take one of these prisoners, releasing them from their chains and bringing them before the fire. They realize that they are blinded by the light, that before they were in darkness, that they see for the first time, the luminosity of the fire in the cave, and the many people who are passing objects to and fro, understanding for the first time that the source of their shadows were from those objects. The light projected or casted the shadows.
But this is not the end of the myth. Plato describes through the mouth of Socrates how this prisoner is taken out by this guru, out through a long tunnel traversing through a mountain, and of course, this prisoner who is only used to the dark, fights and resists the guru who, out of love, is carrying him out of his ignorance to the outside world. Finally, it is night time and the guru takes this soul, this person, and shows them the stars for the first time, and even in the stars, the light dimmed, it is difficult for the eyes of this person because they have always lived in the dark. Finally at the end, the sun rises, and this person who was a prisoner realizes how chained and conditioned in prison, how he was, or she was.
The Four States of Consciousness in Plato's Republic
This allegory, this myth given in The Republic of Plato, is a direct representation of the four states of consciousness, but of course Plato used Greek terms. I provided you with the Hindu version, the four states, and Eikasia is the first. It is profound sleep. Interestingly, its term in Greek means “imagination,” from the Greek εικόνων eikonon, “images.” So this might confuse some people. How is that profound sleep, barbaric mind, animal behavior, profound instinctual sleep, mob mentality, violence, murder, unconsciousness, how is it that Eikasia means “imagination”? It is because physically we can be seeing life, going through life, perceiving the images of our existence, but yet have no cognizance whatsoever. We are in a profound state of barbarity and sleep, like the members of this cave who live in the darkness, and think that they know, but they do not.
What is an εἰκών eikon? It is an image, and sometimes the Bible speaks about not making false images in order to worship. Many times, people think that ideology, the worshipping of false images, is thinking of a statue as a god, or worshipping false religions. The reality is that any εικόνων eikonon, any image, is a condition of mind: anger, resentment, pride, fear, vanity, lust, hatred, wrath, desire. All of the egos are images that exist in the darkness of our mind, and yet we cannot see them clearly because we do not separate from them through self-observation, through developing light, perception.
The dreaming state of consciousness is known as πίστης Pistis, which means “belief, faith, to trust, to have confidence, to have faithfulness, to be reliable, to assure.” People fight and kill for their beliefs, for their religions, for their dogmas. Dreaming sleep are all the theories, religions, beliefs, ideals, institutions, and systems of thought in which people trust and have confidence, and faith which give them assurance, and yet, those beliefs and ideas only exist as concepts in the mind. They are dreams. They are not based in reality or experience of divinity.
Humanity lives between these two states, in the darkness of the cave (Eikasia) or in belief: Pistis. So in this image, the prisoners see darkness, or they see shadows on the wall, which is a direct reference to these states. Eikasia is darkness, and Pistis is to see shadows on the wall. We see shadows projected in life upon the screen of our attention, and we have many theories and beliefs about what they mean, about our senses, and yet we do not know the reality behind what we perceive.
Dianoia is very distinct. Dianoia (διάνοια) is “imagination, thought, mind, perception.” It is interesting that in these studies we refer to Dianoia as the state of awakened consciousness. It is Jagrat: states of mindfulness, awareness, attention, self-observation, self-remembering. It is also referred to “imagination, perception,” just like Eikasia. Why is it that in a profound state of sleep we exist and experience imagination? Imagination is Dianoia. Dianoia means “imagination” as well. This is because our capacity to perceive images internally and physically can either be objective or subjective, positive or negative, liberated or conditioned. There are two ways to awaken, whether for good or for ill.
The word dia- means “thoroughly, from side to side,” which intensifies noiéō, “to use the mind,” Nous. So Dianoia is a revision of mind. It is the fire that the candidate for the light, the prisoner of darkness, sees, and interprets and understands his situation, that he was a prisoner. This is our psychological and spiritual state. We see light from the fire, from the cave. We begin to understand that we are in prison. We begin to perceive the reality of things, that the ego is prison, and that self-observation and self-remembrance is the light that leads us out of pain. You can only do that from Dianoia: “to move from side to side, to intensify noiéō, to use the mind.” This is the meaning of living intensely with ethics, rectitude, and love.
And when the prisoner escapes from the cave to see the sunlight for the first time, he experiences Nous, the highest state of perception. Nous (νοῦς) means “mind.” It is “intellect, intelligence” according to common definitions, but when it says intellect we see it as a poor translation, because the intellect is the mind. It is the ego. Real Nous is the spiritual mind, spiritual consciousness free of any obscurations, any defect, the sum of intelligence, of divinity, manifested within the perfect soul.
These are the four states, the four qualities of mind, and it is only when we really step out of the cave our mind, we see how much suffering you are in, and that gives us the inspiration, the joy, and the will to help others. It is the solar logos, the Christic energy, the force of divinity that exists inside. So the Allegory of the Cave is a beautiful myth teaching us profound psychological truths―from sleeping consciousness to dreaming consciousness, to awakened consciousness and finally to the goal: spiritually illuminated consciousness. This is defined and mapped out within the Kabbalistic studies, the Tree of Life, which we have talked about previously, but also, we will be studying more together.
The way we can awaken our consciousness is through self-observation, retrospection, meditation. We can provide for you additional resources. We have a lectured called Retrospection Meditation given at the end of our Gnostic Meditation Course, which explains the practical techniques of this teaching.
Do you have any questions?
Questions and Answers
Question: I have a couple of questions. Actually, three questions. One of them is hard to put into a question but I will try. So the first is, the mentioning of moving side to side in relation to Dianoia and Nous. Is there a direct correlation to the cross? The sense of horizontal and vertical, Dianoia and Nous, do they meet as a cross? Is there a correlation there?
Instructor: Great question. Dianoia from Greek, Dia-nous means “side to side,” which means how we move as a consciousness to examine the conditions of the intellect, of the heart, of the body. Moving side to side in a metaphorical sense means that we are examining a thing with scrutiny, with intelligence, with wisdom. This directly correlates with the symbol of the cross.
We know from our studies that the cross is a sexual symbol. It is the horizontal uterus and the vertical phallus, which join together in order to create life, spiritually speaking. It is the power of the Platonic logos. It is the divine voice of Christ which animates the soul, and liberates the soul from suffering. So Nous is precisely the perfection of that cross, the perfection of that energy, primarily through eliminating desire, conditions of mind, egotistical states relating to Eikasia and Pistis, sleeping consciousness and dreaming consciousness. Dianoia is the work with transforming the beliefs about ourselves.
So when we are identified with an idol, an image, an ego, a defect, we are petrified. We are in stone. How often have we in this work been trying to remember our divinity, observing our defects, and yet we become identified with a certain ego, perhaps of anger, and we give into its desires, to its thoughts, and its acts? It means that we become hardened, conditioned. We feed that element, and we no longer examine it. We have invested into it with our energy. So that means that we become like stone, like in the myth of Medusa and Perseus, how many heroes were turned to stone by looking in to the eyes of Medusa, which is our own ego―the face of a woman with the head full of snakes, a symbol of the multiplicity of desires that exist inside. That is idolatry: to believe in a image, a false idol, an εἰκών eikon, to be in Eikasia.
So when you are working with Dianoia, you are moving side to side, just like a warrior does when they are fighting a monster in the Greek myths like Perseus did with the gorgon Medusa. So he used the shield of his armor, reflection, his self-observation, his imagination, visualization exercises in order to see that demon and to not look directly in to its vision, which means to identify with that defect. That work of the hero moving side to side, revising one’s beliefs about oneself, is the work of the cross, moving horizontally, but also vertically as well, ascending to higher levels of being through that scrutiny and revision of beliefs.
Samael Aun Weor always refers to Dianoia as a revision of beliefs, intellectual spiritual culture, profound study of scriptures, analysis, creative understanding, intelligence. It means that we ae studying the doctrine and practicing it. We are seeing our ego for what it is, and not being conditioned by it. That is like a cross, a form of movement, because the cross, when in movement, becomes the swastika, a symbol of how the energies of a matrimony, but also the energies of one’s creative work, such as through pranayama, help to circulate energy, so that it becomes the perfected sum of Nous, the platonic logos. Does that answer your question?
Question: Yes, thank you very much. The second one I have is a tougher one, so I am going to try ask it through the notes that I took. Trying to examine fear, and free from fear, there is a sense of going conscious to conscious, trying to be conscious or remain conscious. It is almost like energy put forth and then you cannot help but notice you have gone unconscious, that I went unconscious but then I become conscious again, and there is this back-and-forth sense of freedom and enslavement back and forth. It sometimes it feels like―I think Samael Aun Weor has wrote about it―how it is like observing the mechanicity, and so to find some peace in observing the one who is unconscious, you are going to go unconscious. So observe being unconscious, and in that there is like the fear of God and “keep His commandments” versus the fear of myself, the fear of what I am going to do if I go unconscious.
I guess the question in that is like a fear of wrong action. In a way, if I observe the one unconscious not performing right action, is there a sense of learning from that because there is a scale of wrong action? There is a wrong action, like “I ate too much” versus wrong action like “I hit someone,” right? So is there a usefulness in escaping from fear? Or transforming fear by allowing a sense of―here is this unconscious person and they are going to make mistakes, to learn from that in order to correct mistakes? Because I think fear comes in any way like, I am being watched all the time and anything wrong I do is going to have this result, but in a way like you are saying, turns to stone. I feel paralysed. So I guess that is my question…
Instructor: Sure. So there is a lot there that we can unpack. There is one thing of ego being a fearful desire, wanting security, wanting comfort, wanting material goods in order to feel satisfied, and another thing is the fear of the consciousness. It is one thing to refer to fear as a defect, which it is. There is another quality of the consciousness called reverence or awe within different traditions. So some people have referred to it as the fear of God, and it is more accurate to say reverence, respect, remorse, and awe of divinity, and the commandments that have been given to work effectively on our own faults.
If we never had that reverence or awe to do what is right, we would never step back from our mistakes. We would always continue to do the same thing because we would no longer have remorse. A being who does not have that conscience―or judgment, that inner self-reflection as the voice of divinity―they are an empty house so to speak. The body is there but the soul is already devolving in the infernal worlds. Instead, what you have is a demon, an ego occupying a body that will eventually go to the grave.
So one thing is to feel that reverence and respect, to follow the commandments of our inner God, which is represented by all the ethical conduct of the scriptures, not morality or beliefs, Pistis, ideologies, morality, and theories that are associated to a particular culture. The qualities of ethics, conscious ways of behaving, which are superior, are states of consciousness related to Dianoia, knowing how to work around the conditions of our mind to help humanity, to work for others, to benefit others. So we need that type of sentiment, the respect, and the longing, but also the remorse and feeling that we may have committed a mistake. If that never existed in us, we would always remain fallen. There would be no hope.
Now it is better if we learn transformation, self-observation, self-remembering in the moment. So it is better to have foresight than hindsight. We are in the moment, and we know we are about to act with anger, and we restrain the mind, and so we transform the situation. That is a form of foresight and understanding which is advanced. It is better, but not all of the time are you going to be victorious. You may give into that ego, and then feel remorse for it. We go home and meditate, reflect on that ego that we saw, and that we fed, that we gave into. So that is hindsight.
The Greeks referred to two deities. I believe they were brothers: Prometheus and Epimetheus. Prometheus means, “to see ahead, to foresee, to prophesize,” and then Epimetheus means “to see from behind.” So they relate to each other because they are states of consciousness. In one case, Prometheus is the one who had the vision to not act on mistakes, to do what is right in the moment. Epimetheus is the consciousness that feels remorse for having committed an error and seeks to work backward from it. So either way we are working, but it is better if we restrain the mind in that instant and to not feed into those desires, because it will be more difficult to work on that with more depth later. I hope that answers your question.
Question: Yes, it gives some good thoughts. Basically, it is like you have to… It sounds like what you are saying is that Epimetheus and Prometheus are there and they must both be worked. How can you really get that from Prometheus if you are afraid of your own Epimetheus, then there is Epimethean qualities in the fear itself?
Instructor: Yes. So to be clear, Epimetheus is a type of remorse and conscience that bites at us when we commit a mistake, and Prometheus is when in the moment we do not make the error outwardly. We may have an ego that emerges that we are observing, and yet, we have the wisdom not to act on that fault. So we have foresight to see that to act on this behavior is to commit a mistake, and to create suffering, to complicate the situation. So both are good, but obviously Prometheus has greater wisdom, because he is thinking ahead rather than behind, but those are the two qualities that we need.
Question: My final question, this should be a quicker one. Can you speak on the motor- instinctual-sexual brain as a single brain? I often look at them as these five centers, and is there something about examining that brain as one, because the way I see five different places and I am referring to that, but when I look at the spinal column as the motor-instinct-sexual brain, is there a quality of that, those centers that is in one to be examined as one? Or should it be observed as three centers like the other two?
Instructor: Good question. So the intellectual brain has its physical correspondence in our intellect, in our cerebrospinal system. The emotional brain is the heart with all of its nerves, the grand sympathetic nervous system. The third brain is the brain of action. It synthesizes movements, instincts, and sex. It is not located in one specific area, but is distributed throughout the body, primarily because it is the synthesis of who we are. So this third brain is an alchemical machine. When you think of alchemy, you are refining different qualities of elements to get a synthesis, a principle. The third brain, the brain of action, is the spine as well. It is the top of the spine, which is where we have movement. It is at the base of the spine where we have instinct, and it is in the sexual organs where we have our creative energy.
Those three work together in unison. They synthesize and harmonize to help each other. They are really deeply enmeshed in each other, primarily because instinct, movement, and sexuality are very quick in terms of their operational speeds. So we heard previously about how the different brains have different modes, or ways of behaving, and processing information into action. The intellectual brain is the slowest. The emotional brain is quicker than the intellect, and of course the sexual center is really the fastest of the human machine, but we say that movement and instinct are as quick as the heart. They are quick, and they relate to the spine because they support our material existence. They allow us to act and to be in life. So pretty much our thoughts and our feelings could not exist if it were not for our third brain: the motor-instinct-sexual brain, because it is the brain of action. It is what expresses and synthesizes the rest. It is what allows action to exist in this physical world. So if you just had the heart and the intellect, it would be impossible to provide, or express that in life if it were not for the ability to move, our instincts, and our sexuality. So those three are the highest synthetic principles that we carry within: movement-instinct-sex.
The important thing to remember is that, again, we would not exist without this principle. If you study Hebrew, especially the symbolism of the Kabbalistic alphabet, which we have on Glorian.org, there is a Hebrew letter that deeply relates to this symbol. It is the third letter of Hebrew, which is compelling. It is ג Gimel. It is like a straight line with a front dot, and a dot behind it. So you see basically see three points, a reference to the motor-instinct-sexual brain, because the Hebrew letters represent principles and forces within us, and also in our consciousness, and in our body. Also, the third letter of Hebrew relates to the three brains, but also the motor-instinct-sexual brain, because as the Hebrew letter Gimel teaches us, it is the brain that allows God to exist within us. It is the parasympathetic nervous system, and God in Hebrew is spelt ג Gimel- ד Daleth, which have a lot of profound meanings too that you can study on our website, The Eternal Tarot of Alchemy and Kabbalah, but also on Glorian.org. I hope that answers your question.
Question: Yes. It sounds like what you are saying is that in relating the sexual-motor-instinct brain to the intellect, and trying to perform the synthesis, that the sex is directly, very quickly influencing the instinct, and the motor at a level that is very, very fast, is connected, because they are all one, and if you try to take them away from each other you can fall into error, as if they are three separate brains, but they are not. I guess that is a type of mystery?
Instructor: Yes. A brain is a mechanism of action, and instinct as well as sex, and movement are deeply related.
Question: I just need clarification. In the middle of the lecture when you were talking about attention and awareness, and you said of course we need to be continually awake, but something about being really good at it, then we can see right here, to whatever is in the astral? Did I hear you wrong, or I think I might of missed something?
Instructor: The awakening that we experience physically with our perception correlates with the amount of consciousness that we awake in the dream state. So if we are really being effective with our awareness in daily life, and also our attention, being understanding and comprehending our egos that we see in action, that type of perception is going to move over to the astral plane. So if we are mindful, maintain a continuity of perception, self-observation from moment to moment, developing our awareness, those things compound. They synthesize and help each other, because we have to remember that the consciousness is a vast spectrum of many vast principles.
The ability to pay attention to one thing, such as listening to a lecture, or observing oneself, is a form of attention, of concentration, but awareness is when we are expanding our perception outward. So we need both, and when you work with both, observing what is external to us, and also introspecting inside, we basically give our consciousness a strong workout. A lot of people who might be doing weight training, going to the gym, they are not going to exercise one muscle the whole time. They are going to do a variety of different things so that their body is well rounded and sculpted. This is well known in the fitness world, likewise with our consciousness. We develop our awareness, and we develop our attention, but also the mindfulness and continuity of all in order to awaken in the internal dream world. So one without the other is useless, so we need all four principles.
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