Throughout our experience of teaching Gnosis, we have had the privilege to correspond with many Gnostic students, some of whom have and continue to suffer from very debilitating mental illnesses. While it has been sad to hear so many personal stories of mental deterioration, suffering, and decline, we have witnessed many miraculous and joyful victories, all due to the courage and efforts of students. Rather than giving in to disease, many aspirants have decided to face the burden of stigma, confronting their own crippling, inner demons with nobility and heroism.
This course has been inspired by such conversations, instructions, and testimonies. For those who may suffer from mental illness or if you know someone with a diagnosis, we hope that you can apply these techniques for the comprehension and alleviation of suffering. Such exercises in our tradition can be very useful, complementary with the advice of mental health professionals.
Psychology is a very deep topic, a very deep science that has profound roots within diverse spiritual traditions and the ancient mystery schools of all continents, all cultures, and all religions. Basically, ψυχή psyche in Greek signifies the consciousness or soul, which strives for union with divinity, the λόγος logos. This is a Greek term denominating the sacred word, divinity, or beingness. Genuine psychology is very concerned with the relationship of the consciousness with divinity. It is not the mere study of intellectual or mental processes but of the entire constitution of the human being.
But sadly, due to materialistic skepticism, science has often rejected the transformative possibilities of religion and spirituality. There is much to learn from the psychological teachings of yoga, Buddhism, meditation, Kabbalah, Sufism, Rosicrucianism, and Gnosis. These can complement the work of modern psychological professionals. Understanding a person’s spiritual orientation, their background, their identity, is promising for treatments. Spirituality can help professionals assess the psychological and spiritual roots of a given problem.
Not too long ago, spirituality was considered “woo-woo” for approaching mental health concerns. However, there are more people now who are beginning to realize that merely addressing the physical needs of a person and not their heart is insufficient. In fact, many understand that it is very narrow minded. Many argue against integrating spirituality within mental health practice. Some want to maintain consistent parameters―understandably so―for applying spirituality to mental health concerns. These are often difficult to determine with current criteria, when spirituality deals with realities beyond material existence.
However, the problem is not that spirituality or religion is superstitious, but that its discipline requires a new type of training with which psychological professionals are not typically trained in. Now the desire for facts should not be exclusively limited to mere material means, since human beings operate within multiple spheres of experience, beyond just the body. This is verifiable through the practices of the Gnostic tradition.
In this lecture, we will demonstrate how lasting psychological change arrives through practical spirituality. Through consciously applying proven methods for mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual wellbeing, individuals suffering from imbalances can realize a conscious state of inner equilibrium. We will offer some basic suggestions for learning how to initiate such a psychological work, one that can aid individuals suffering from mental illness who are working with qualified mental health professionals.
The Divide Between Psychology and Religion
Unfortunately, there have existed tensions, animosity, and even outright suspicion between modern psychology and religion. The seemingly irreconcilable differences between science and faith, and the efforts of psychology to distinguish its self as a science and not an art, have led to many mental health professionals divorcing their practice from spirituality. Sigmund Freud, a devout atheist, declared in The Future of an Illusion that:
“Religion is comparable to a childhood neurosis,” a “defense against childish helplessness” whose “infantilism is destined to be surmounted.” ―Sigmund Freud, The Future of an Illusion
He viewed religion as an escape from the reality of suffering, psychosis and its causes, rather than as a means for recovery. He also believed that science possesses the keys to treat individuals with mental illness.
Now there are many commonly held stereotypes regarding mental health and religion, that religion is repressive, reductive, dogmatic, or even irrational. However, there exists a large body of research demonstrating the positive role of religion in recovery from serious psychological disorders. There are also abundant empirical studies that show how religious communities are often the first places that people go when people are confronted with a serious illness.
Why is this the case?
Religion can offer optimistic world-views. They can provide ethical behaviors that promote a balanced lifestyle. Many benefits of a religious life include the restriction or prohibition of smoking, drinking, substance use, suicidality, crime, and sexual promiscuity. Likewise, religion and spirituality can provide comfort for those suffering from mental illness, in that communal and emotional support can help all people, regardless of whether or not they are ill.
Religious and Spiritual Psychopathology
However, despite the promising rise of medical research about spiritually integrated mental health treatments, there exists some problems.
Often times, people with mental illness adhering to a religious system have often mistaken what is known as psychopathology with spiritual or religious experience. By psychopathology we mean both the scientific study of mental disorders but also their expression within individuals. This can often take on a religious, spiritual, or mystical flavor. In the words of Dr. W. Patrick Sullivan in “Spirituality: A Road to Mental Health or Mental Illness”:
Discerning the content of delusions and distinguishing them from true spiritual experiences is not an easy task. ―Dr. W. Patrick Sullivan, Spirituality: A Road to Mental Health or Mental Illness (2009)
In the Gnostic teachings, we learn to awaken. We learn to strengthen and expand our conscious possibilities. In that process, we learn to discriminate between the falsity of our own subjective perceptions, while verifying the nature of objective testimony. By questioning what we experience, we can arrive at a deeper understanding of reality and our relationship to it.
This is why Samael Aun Weor wrote the following in The Perfect Matrimony:
We disseminate spiritual intellectual culture, decency, refinement, logical analysis, conceptual synthesis, academic culture, higher mathematics, philosophy, science, art, religion, etc. Therefore, in no way whatsoever are we willing to continue to accept the gossip of hallucinating people nor the madness of dreamers. ―Samael Aun Weor, The Perfect Matrimony
The questions become:
Do such spiritual experiences impair one’s functioning, or do these insights empower an individual’s capacity to excel, to continuously improve in all aspects of life?
Are individuals cultivating a rich understanding of religious and spiritual traditions?
Are they effectively applying practical techniques for comprehending and removing the causes of suffering?
Or on a very simple level: are they decent, respectable, and respectful people?
Individuals who have been diagnosed with a mental illness or who proclaim to be enlightened need to seriously examine their level of being and quality of their states, since if their perceptions are causing their personal, occupational, and social life to deteriorate, then they must come to terms with the fact that they have a problem.
However, we will say, just because an individual’s psychosis resembles spiritual elements, such as paranoid delusions of religious persecution or communicating with angels, this does not guarantee that all reported incidents of spiritual experiences are delusions. Individuals suffering from mental disorders must distinguish the reality of religion and a delusion.
Even if we are relatively sound in our mental and emotional wellbeing, average persons all have delusions about mundane things too. Even an atheist can have delusions about reality and not religion, whereby their psychosis matches their cultural, secular upbringing. Religion does not cause delusions. Delusions occur spontaneously and they take on the form of one’s idiosyncrasies, including one’s religion or culture.
So as you can see, there are a lot of nuances to this issue that require a lot of analysis, a lot of comprehension, and especially a lot of meditation, because while the mentally ill must be exceptionally critical with their delusions, with their perceptions, with their attitudes, this should not discount the possibility of true divine communion.
Culture and Diagnoses
Despite the prevalence of spiritual experience throughout religions and cultures, many skeptics conflate genuine mystical perceptions as symptoms of mental illness. However, to quote Dr. W. Patrick Sullivan:
First and foremost, what is considered delusional thought and belief is heavily influenced by culture. ―Dr. W. Patrick Sullivan, Spirituality: A Road to Mental Health or Mental Illness (2009)
This is very important. Culture has to be considered within mental illness diagnoses. For example, in some societies ghosts are an accepted part of their belief systems. For others, it is talking with angels. Therefore, clinicians will often compare individuals to the rest of their cultural group when they want to determine a diagnosis. Each case must be examined within the context of a patient's cultural norms, to understand what the norm is and is not. That is how you can better diagnose what is going on. It is a frame of reference. It is a starting point.
For many of us, materialism dominates the Western psyche to the point that it rejects the mere possibility of any experiential verification of spiritual truths. However, while our modern culture goes to the extreme of materialistic skepticism, the Gnostic tradition suggests that we should also not go to the other end of the pendulum, swinging between extremes by believing everything we perceive. This is especially the case for individuals who suffer from some type of mental illness.
Mental Health and Faith
So, what is the solution? How can patients benefit from the modern mental health system without divorcing themselves from guiding principles, from ethics, from conscious spirituality?
In Gnosis, we seek to find balance, the synthesis of oppositions, so that we can enrich our quality of life. Samael Aun Weor mentioned something very interesting in The Revolution of the Dialectic. He stated:
Mental health is not possible if conscious faith does not exist. ―Samael Aun Weor, The Revolution of the Dialectic
As evidenced by this quote, we have a very different psychological and spiritual orientation within the Gnostic teachings. Rather than merely adopt a concept to believe in, an ideology, a theory, a belief, we prefer to investigate the truths contained within religion. We seek to experience what divinity really is. In this, we leave beliefs aside. The main method is meditation, where we can learn to access the direct experience of the truths contained within all traditions.
Direct experience of the truth, of reality, of divinity, is the best medicine. People who suffer from mental illness are afflicted by many negative emotions, disordered thoughts, agitation, dis-ease, dissatisfaction, uncertainty. Genuine spiritual experiences provide optimal mental health. They ground one in a stable state. These experiences are qualified by their very distinct psychological and spiritual flavor. We call them states of compassion, altruism, spontaneous joy, freedom of mind, heart, body; patience, diligence, perseverance, resilience, the endurance of hardships with the utmost ethical character. There are many virtues cited throughout religious traditions. They all point toward a balanced state of mind. This is predicated upon faith, having an awakened consciousness, a serene, intensified awareness and directed attention that is unwavering, that is clear, that is spontaneous, that is joyful. That is our true nature, and those who suffer from any type of disorder are disconnected from that, with varying levels of intensity.
So faith, the experience of these principles, is something we can verify for ourselves whether or not one has a mental illness. But in the context of mental health, this is especially important. It is a fulcrum for convalescence, for healing.
We have to state that in reality, genuine spiritual experiences inspire order. They provide cohesion in life. They demonstrate a profound integrity, a motivated purpose within a chaotic physical and internal world.
Delusions on the other hand produce pain. Very simple. They are the origin of confusion, despair, disenfranchisement, alienation, suffering, and especially the corrosion of one’s relationships, whether personal or professional.
Now, individuals who suffer from forms of mental illness may be convinced that their perceptions are real. However, we have to ask about the quality of their daily state because that is the best measurement, the most sure evidence.
Let us elaborate on this.
Can these people keep a job? Can they relate to others? Are they a decent parent? Are they a good sibling, child, or spouse?
Jesus said, “By their fruits you will know them.” If individuals act on delusional states of mind expecting the best while convinced that they are infallible, their life will reflect the consequences. This is why in our tradition we rely on the tremendous, inescapable, and incontrovertible facts. For students who have suffered from mental illness, we always emphasize, “Examine yourself. Study your behaviors. Look at the results of your actions. Where have your ideas, your knowledge, and your beliefs taken you? Do you have greater stability in your psychological states? Is there greater harmony in your relationships? Is your financial situation in order? Your occupation? Your daily life?” Unfortunately, the proclivity of most people is precisely imbalance.
To understand genuine psychological equilibrium, it is important to study the three brains of our human machine. In esoteric studies, a brain constitutes a physiological and psychological transformer of energy.
We have an intellectual brain in our cranium that processes the energy of thought.
We have an emotional brain in our heart that processes the energy of feeling.
We also have a motor-instinctual-sexual brain in our spine, which processes the energy of action.
While these are physical machines in our body, they are also vehicles through which our consciousness operates and is modified. If we are honest, we can see that our modern culture and way of life is very imbalanced. Many occupations exclusively require engagement with the intellect at the expense of the other brains. We overuse the intellectual brain and its energies to indulge in our bad habits: too much intellectualizing, reading, reasoning, theorizing, analyzing. Our education system is also heavily focused on the knowledge of the mind, rather than the qualities of the heart.
A typical person also abuses the emotional brain through negative emotions like anger, through resentment, pride, and fear. We also saturate our heart with negative emotions when we argue, when we fight, when we ruminate. These types of behaviors drastically deplete our emotional brain of energy.
Lastly, we have the motor-instinctual-sexual brain where we process movement. It is where we have impulse, desire, instinct. This brain is also greatly abused today in the modern world, whereby we put too much strain on the body either through excessive exercises or violent sports, and most importantly the abuse of sex. Sexual behavior has the most long lasting and serious consequences. Everybody knows this, but sadly people ignore how sexual misconduct is the primary cause of imbalance. People who constantly pursue and consummate sexual relationships are never satisfied. They are never happy. After one partner to the next, they go through the ups and downs of relationships, always trying to satisfy their appetites for more, for more pleasant sensations. This is like throwing fuel into a fire. Desire will never be satisfied, no matter how intense, and once it gets what it wants, it wants more. This is a tremendous disequilibrium.
This is why in our Gnostic studies, regardless of our suffering from a mental, emotional, or physical state, or those who are suffering from a form of illness relating to the three brains, we always seek to conserve our energies, since without fuel in the three brains, the consciousness cannot operate optimally. Psychological, emotional, and creative energy are necessary if you want to drive your car. If you want to drive your spiritual destination, you need to use your three brains in balance, with conscious awareness, with ethics, so that you do not get hurt. You do not hurt yourself. You drive safely on the road. This is why Samael Aun Weor wrote in The Perfect Matrimony:
Perfect mental equilibrium is of vital importance for those who want spiritual progress. Almost all the aspirants of esotericism easily lose their mental equilibrium and usually fall into the most absurd things. Whosoever yearns for direct knowledge must ensure that their minds are in perfect equilibrium. ―Samael Aun Weor, The Perfect Matrimony
The reason that people get sick, whether mentally, emotionally, or physically, is due to the abuse of the three brains. What happens to an engine the runs out of fuel? It stops working properly. Or you give it the wrong fuel. You put rocket fuel into a car. We do this all the time with our diet, with our habits, with our addictions. When an engine runs out of fuel, it does not operate. It is the same with our psychology and our body.
If you want examples of this, people who exhaust their mental energy become delusional. They become paranoid, schizophrenic, insane. Those who waste their emotional energies become depressed. They become manic or bi-polar. Likewise with the motor-instinctive-sexual brain, by wasting our vitality we become paraplegic, paralyzed, a host for sexually transmitted diseases.
Therefore, to avoid getting sick students must learn to conserve their energy, to do it wisely, so that the consciousness can awaken to its true state.
The Reality of Gnosis
But sadly, many skeptics conflate mystical states with madness. They equate it with delusions, hallucinations, and disequilibrium because in their materialistic worldview it is impossible to experience divinity, to know reality, the truth. Such a possibility is just not afforded within their worldview. Also there have been many people who approach the Gnostic teachings with incredible psychological imbalances, who later blame Gnosis for making them sick. It is strange, and it is sad, because they ignore how their own actions have exacerbated an underlying condition.
The truth is that all of humanity is imbalanced and sick. It is a disease to be afflicted with pride, to be motivated and driven by anger, to be enmeshed and saturated by laziness, to be addicted to lust, and many defects that our society venerates and worships. People need instruction regarding how to identify, how to comprehend, and how to remove psychological conditions. Actually, the people who are the most sick deserve the most attention, for as Jesus stated in the book of Matthew:
They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick… for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. ―Matthew 9:12-13
Also, the reality is that no one ever enters the Gnostic teachings from a state of balance. It does not happen that way. Therefore, it is not unusual that many who attempt Gnostic practices discover just how sick they really are, because Gnosis is mirror. It shows you who you really are. It forces you to confront your real level of being, your condition, your state. It is factual. If you are not ready to confront the reality of yourself, then you might obviously want to run away and even blame the mirror for how ugly it is. This is how most people approach genuine spirituality. Whether or not they are diagnosed with a severe condition, everyone is imbalanced to a degree, but obviously people who are diagnosed by professionals obviously have a more intensified version of a common problem.
Despite how priceless this gift is, many people blame Gnosis for the fact that they finally recognize their underlying psychology. It is very disturbing, so they leave and choose to follow a life path that involves a greater and accelerated deterioration and devolution.
Now while having a mental illness is a serious obstacle, it can be overcome with proper tools and techniques when combined with professional help.
It is truly rare to find healthy, balanced, and integrated people. It is also very difficult to find Gnostics who are living up to the ideals of this tradition. It is very challenging, precisely because it is very demanding, very rigorous. Authentic spirituality is difficult, because it requires that we renounce all of our bad habits. It is difficult to practice because, for many, they lack a basic foundation, which is being a proactive, a humble, a decent individual.
There is a very common trend within spiritual groups where people proclaim great advancements or enlightened states, and yet their etiquette, common, social graces are lacking. While many people aspire towards the heights of mystical consciousness and the greatest methods for spiritual transformation, a lot of people fail to master and perfect the basics. A house cannot stand on faulty foundations.
This is why Samael Aun Weor stated the following:
The crude reality of facts demonstrates to us that many are those who have not comprehended the transcendence of the Gnostic esoteric work, and that great majorities are not good heads of households.
While many Gnostics might not suffer from mental illness, there are others who are sick with fanaticism, who are diseased by envy, who are consumed by spiritual pride, and petrified within dogmatism. So long as they are attached to the concept that they are the only authentic spiritual group or that they are enlightened, that they have done it and that no work is left for them, they will not advance. They will not develop.
Likewise, persons who are whimsical―you have got to love this word here―who open their sail to any wind, who just allow themselves to be moved by any impulse, they likewise demonstrate their disequilibrium. They are not stable. Now the thing is that we should be careful not to go to the other extreme, just repressing whatever psychological elements arrive or whatever one fears.
This is why we meditate. Through developing a clear, serene, and unwavering observation of our psychological states, meditators gain essential knowledge of their internal conditions, so that through deep comprehension, very painful and traumatic states of mind can be transformed. They can be healed.
People who are really sick can be radically healed with meditation. Obviously, working with professionals, with whatever particular condition that they might have been diagnosed with, meditation is a beautiful complement, a wonderful training, because it is through this exercise that people gain enough control of their mind. Their mind does not push them around.
Also, with enough training, one can be like Jesus here in this image. He is praying before his Passion, his Crucifixion, his martyrdom, and obviously someone with that level of discipline could remain calm and serene even while being crucified. This means that for individuals who suffer from a condition or merely have a lot of problems and suffer a lot and want to have inner balance, one can learn how to endure difficult situations, how to face the triggers of life, whereby stimuli no longer provoke a negative reaction. This is the goal, to respond with equanimity in the face of hardship.
You cannot necessarily change the situation outside of yourself, but with training your mind, you can endure the negative reactions that inevitably emerge as a response to those ordeals. One can learn to respond with perfect equanimity in the face of hardships that really seemed in the past insurmountable. This is how internal conflicts can be resolved.
The World of Relations
Researchers have recently studied a concept known as religious struggles, whereby an individual experience conflict relating to spirituality. These exist along three levels:
For some people suffering from mental illness, religion and spirituality can become an intrinsic source of radical change. It can become a means of developing more personal, fulfilling relationships with others. It can also help one to integrate socially within larger communities. This can help foster a really deep and lasting sense of self-worth, but also an ethical orientation towards a higher purpose.
However, for others, religious thinking can exacerbate psychosis, such in the case of severe depression whereby a person can blame God for their suffering, their disappointments, their failures, their disillusionment. What these conflicts reveal about a person is a lack of connection with the Innermost Being, our divinity, who is perfect serenity. The Being, your true identity, is perfect happiness. It is a state of plentitude, in which there is no deficiency or lack. It is joy. It is compassion. It is altruism. Divinity is not the source of conflict. A lot of people like to blame God for their problems, ignoring their own agency and the fact that every action has a consequence.
A real spiritual person takes responsibility for their mistakes and does not shy away from the facts. It is a very brutal, difficult thing to do, to be honest with oneself, especially when other people show us our errors. However, by learning to face these adversities, these interrelations in life, by observing oneself, by becoming aware of our conditions of mind, one can access the genuine, divine root of our consciousness, a true state of joy.
The Being, divinity, is not tyrannical. The Being does not afflict anyone. What happens is that individuals with perhaps a mental illness, they distort and utilize metaphysical concepts, ideas and thoughts to qualify subjective experiences. A sick mind skews reality. It does not perceive the facts. It is sees things in a way that is personal to the individual, and is seeing connections and relationships there, and causes that are not really, fully observed and understood.
Now, regardless of having a condition or not, this is very difficult for people to do. However, it is possible through consciously applying effective methods. We talk a lot in our studies about the practice of self-observation. We will build off this idea throughout this course, but also if you go onto our website, especially Beginning Self-Transformation, you can learn about this technique in more detail. It is very extensive. I highly recommend you study and practice self-observation, for those who are not familiar.
Now, Samael Aun Weor provided some insights about this dynamic that I am talking about in his book Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology, and there are some connections and correlations between what modern mental health professionals are calling religious struggles in relation to different types of connections that we can have, with ourselves, with the body, and with humanity. I would like to read this chapter for you at length. It is from Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology.
The world of relationships has three very different aspects that we need to clarify in a precise manner.
Medical science has dedicated itself to treating the material symptoms of any condition. However, without exploring the internal, psychological reality of a given person, it is impossible to address and cure the root causes of different symptoms.
Studying the brain has provided many valuable insights into the material expression of mental illness. However, the brain is not the mind. It is a vehicle of the mind. In the same manner that a person can drive a car and eventually leave it, the same with consciousness in the human body. If you are interested more in that topic, you can study our course Dream Yoga and Astral Travel, especially.
This is why we study Kabbalah, the Tree of Life. It is a map of consciousness in varying levels. While it is considered a distinctly Jewish phenomenon, Kabbalah is represented throughout all religions, although in different forms. All traditions share the same principles that are specifically illustrated here. While this glyph might appear complicated, in truth it is rather simple. It represents everything that you are from the most divine, abstract, refined, subtle, and liberated spheres above to the most selfish, conditioned, condensed, and material below.
It is not our intention to explain the various nuances of each sphere represented here. Instead, we are introducing this graphic to emphasize an essential point. Mental illness must be considered in light of a person’s entire constitution, including the material, the psychological, and the spiritual. This is why Samael Aun Weor wrote in his book Sexology: The Basis of Endocrinology and Criminology:
It is impossible to know the fundamental cause of any mental disequilibrium without expanding psychiatry with Theosophy, Rosicrucianism, Hermeticism, yogic philosophy, and high Gnostic esotericism. This is how expanded psychiatry can discover and cure the alienated. […]
So in synthesis, Kabbalah describes precisely all of that. Kabbalah describes the levels of the mind and all of its various manifestations, its depths, its intricacies, its functions. So rather than merely just treat the outward, corporeal form of a person, their body, psychological professionals can learn to intuit the internal causes of illness.
All illnesses emerge from an internal cause. While there is a biological and chemical component in our physical brain, our emotional brain, our motor-instinctive-sexual brain, the truth is that people who suffer from illnesses do so because there is something much more deep than just a physical cause. The Tree of Life explains this. Illnesses originate from actions that we are not even able to begin to apprehend or understand with just our physical senses. Instead, it requires psychological investigation. This is why we practice meditation.
Many diseases originate from these internal causes, and by learning to suspend our senses, relax, introspect, go within, we can learn to apprehend the real nature of a particular problem, the origin of a condition, of a trauma, of a disequilibrium within our body, within oneself. This technique applies to people who are patients but also any practitioner of Gnosis who wants to understand more about their internal sufferings.
So, these diseases manifest in the body, but they come from within, much in the same way that a creature can disturb the waters of a pond from its depths. We do not see the origin, yet we can recognize the ripples on the surface. Anyone can detect the symptoms of a problem, but to really determine the spiritual cause of illness, the psychological causes of illness, is very different. It requires a lot of analysis and a lot of patient work, but it can be done. We have personally worked with people, students who have suffered from different types of disorders and, in combination with professional treatment, by applying Gnostic techniques, have been able to remedy and address their issues, gain equilibrium, balance.
By learning to still the waters of the lake of the mind, one can go within and see the depths for what is actually there. Now as I said, people might not see the origin of a particular phenomenon, yet one can recognize the ripples in the surface. If mental health professionals could really access the inner causes of their patients’ external behaviors, they could go a long way to help and heal a lot of people. Kabbalah is just one such tool. We will go back to this graphic later on in this course. I am just introducing it here to synthesize a few points.
So through the daily discipline of meditation, practitioners can gain knowledge that is inaccessible to the senses, as I said. As aspirants, we can go deep within the mind to discover why we suffer. For an individual suffering from mental illness, meditation when combined with professional help can aid one in establishing inner balance.
We recommend that you study and apply the techniques provided in this course: Meditation Essentials by Glorian Publishing, because it provides very clear steps for how to cultivate a rich spiritual life. This can complement professional treatments of mental illness to help one experience happiness, vitality, health.
At this point in time, I would like to open the floor to questions.
Questions and Answers
Question: How do we distinguish schizophrenia symptoms and mystical experience? Is it only evidence and proof or something else?
Instructor: Meditation is required and a lot of self-criticism. Individuals who suffer from schizophrenia often attribute meaning to situations or circumstances that are subjective. They are personal to the individual. They are not objectively there. For example, a group of people could be having a conversation at another table at a restaurant, and a schizophrenic person would think that their conversation is about him. That is an example of paranoid schizophrenia. Now, any type of perception in oneself has to be judiciously analyzed within meditation. It is not enough merely to just go with the flow. Perhaps a person who suffers from this condition has these very convincing perceptions and believes in them. It is important for that person to develop a lot of prudence in what they perceive. This is advice that not only applies just to people with schizophrenia, but to anyone, because every person, due to their egotistical conditioning, possesses some type of flaw in their perception of things, a bias or prejudice.
Mystical experiences are very distinct from hallucinations. The problem with a schizophrenic person is that they do not discriminate what they see. They could be having these perceptions in their physical body or even in dreams that they take and mistake for reality. This is why meditators who are in this tradition develop a lot prudence, discrimination in what they see. It is not enough to just assume that what one knows or sees of a vision is authentic. It has to be proven with facts. It has to be in alignment with the highest spiritual principles, ethical conduct, discipline in oneself.
A person could have a dream that is authentic, in which they have a type of prophetic vision about what is going to happen later that day. Now, the dream occurs perhaps in the early morning. It is very common to have that type of experience when one is practicing Dream Yoga and Astral Travel, in which one perceives a type of insight or guidance from divinity. Now, what happens is that one has to be patient with those experiences, and to test them, to not assume that they mean one thing or another, but to let the evidence unfold of itself, and to meditate. Meditation is essential because one has to strip away all of types of obscurations, prejudices, assumptions, biases from one’s judgement. One has to suspend the senses, to abandon all type of intellectual deliberation, of thinking about the issue or the problem, wanting an experience to mean a certain thing. Instead, one has to concentrate upon and visualize that experience with patience, and empty the mind. Do not think, to relax. Comprehension unfolds when we put the mind aside. Hallucinations occur because the mind is active.
There is a very distinct quality to people who have schizophrenic hallucinations and genuine mystical experiences. One of the most basic is that the person’s physical life reflects the highest spiritual principles of conduct. If a person is having visions and believes that he or she has to commit an act that contradicts the religious stipulations given by the prophets, then one can be assured that such an experience is egotistical because it contradicts basic ethics, basic social etiquette, social norms, how to be a good person, how to behave in society, how to interact with others.
Now, what is interesting is that with a mystical experience, those reinforce and validate not only physical events in the material world, but also they inspire one to greater order, compassion, cohesion, structure, discipline, integrity in one’s thoughts, in one’s feelings, in one’s actions. By their fruits you will know them.
It is a very subtle thing. I cannot discuss all of the nuances to this type of problem. It is very complex and very difficult. We are going to give a lecture in the future that talks specifically about this topic, so I thank you for bringing it up now because that is going to preface into when we have the time and the opportunity to really go into all of the difficulties of this. So, hopefully this is just a cursory explanation that can hold you off in the meantime, so in future we will talk more about this. Any other questions?
Question: Can you consider that many factors determine mental imbalances within the human family: poor diet, incest, family karma, personal karma, as well experiences which each person has in their life, family socialization and adult experiences?
Instructor: Yes. There are a lot conditions and factors that come into play. All of that you mentioned here really goes together in terms of addressing a psychological reality.
Physical illnesses, whether in the intellectual brain, the emotional brain, or the motor-instinctive-sexual brain, all have some type of psychological cause. There are some defects or egos responsible for creating that disequilibrium. Now, the reason why people get sick in their body is because they have wasted certain energies related to their different physiological and psychological centers, the three brains. This has to do with karma. People, for example who suffer from schizophrenia, obviously have abused their mental. They have wasted their mental energies, whether in this life or in previous lives. This is why when one experiences the onset of schizophrenia, there is a crystallization within the physical brain because the karma is so severe, depending on the person, that it crystalizes and materializes within the physicality. So there is a biological and chemical component to their imbalance. The issue comes when one has to treat that type of condition, one should obviously rely on professional assistance but also work to understand the egos that are hyper-intellectual, that are paranoid, delusional.
Diet can obviously affect a person’s mental health, can exacerbate problems. It is important that people who suffer from certain conditions treat their bodies well. Get good rest, good sleep. Take care of themselves, because their deficiency or lack thereof can really heighten symptoms, make a person much more prone to illness. So there are a lot of factors here.
Now, in relation to family karma, people who have mental illnesses or some kind of sickness obviously are born into families where that genetic condition or those genes are present. So, while there is a genetic component, people are in the families they are and receive the type of bodies they have based on previous actions and their consciousness before they are physically born.
There are a lot of factors here that come into play, but primarily the one I want to help us focus on is the ego. The ego is the origin of illness because it takes the energies of the consciousness and the three brains and uses it within desire, within errors. So, that is what makes people sick, and that illness crystalizes in the body in many ways.
It relates to the karma of a family because one is attracted to situations and people and families as a result of their internal psychology. We call this the law of attraction. As I said, people are born into families that resonate with their level of being. So if there is family who drinks a lot or are depressed, who have chronic depression, it is more likely that the children born of those households will have the same condition because obviously there is a genetic trace there. But behind the genes is the consciousness.
We obviously follow the trajectory of our former actions, so this is why meditation is really important for understanding why perhaps one could have a certain problem.
Also, karma comes into play within a person’s life. For example, a person could suffer depression because they experienced a lot of trauma growing up. Maybe they were abused in their family. Now, there are certain causes that underlie that type of situation that one has to investigate―not to accept at the mere physical level but to really consciously comprehend why that situation is unfolding, why one is suffering in that household, or has inherited a certain family, a certain lineage. It is important to reflect on that because there a lot of things that go beyond just the mere analysis of the intellect, making associations in this physical world. Instead, one has to go into the internal worlds. This is why Kabbalah is really important.
Question: You mentioned a practice for working through trauma. Can you please go over that once again?
Instructor: Yes. There are a few practices that you can do. We talk a lot about self-observation, learning to observe ourselves, to examine the qualities of one’s mind: their thoughts, feelings, and actions so that one can gather data about certain defects, flaws of character, and conditions, such as traumatic feelings or experiences that one might have faced before.
Meditation is really the primary method we use to comprehend deep psychological states. Now, for people who suffer from trauma, obviously, it can be very difficult to relive those experience within meditation. That is why it is a balancing act. One of the other lectures in this course talked about Trauma and Spiritual Healing. You can find it on this course, Spiritual and Mental Health. She goes into a lot detail about how to work through trauma, some practical techniques for understanding one’s traumas, and also how to remedy them with spiritual methods. They go very deep, and have very lasting and profound effects.
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