Since the 1960's, a plethora of mystical teachings have been disseminated and popularized within North America and other First World countries. Such an era of profound psychological, social, and spiritual revolution is characterized by the widespread fascination with religious teachers, gurus, shamans, enlightened guides, and masters. Documented throughout all religious traditions from antiquity, the relationship between master and disciple is one of great beauty, depth, idealism, practicality, and import. Despite such amplified attention towards this subject, few devotees and practitioners of such traditions today have concretely articulated the gross misunderstandings of Guru Yoga in its application to Western countries. The primary cause of such disregard, mystification, fervor, and unquestioning zeal is born from a lack of personal mystical experience and verification of the experiential dimension of religion, which does not preach fealty to a teacher or group, but the sovereignty of one's own independent intelligence.
The founders of religion never credit themselves for the marvelous impact of their message, for as vehicles of the highest divinity, they instead instruct aspirants to arrive at their own fundamental conclusions regarding the metaphysical truths contained within our most venerated traditions. Those who have learned to develop their own conscious and spiritual potential are known as adepts, from the Latin adeptus, or "one who has obtained." Such wisdom is not obtained through belonging to a particular school, group, race, sex, gender, class, political party, religion, or teaching. Instead, it has to do with actualizing and mastering a deeply personal relationship with divinity, one based on pragmatism and competence from experience, not religious fanaticism, sectarianism, theory, or belief without evidence.
Instead of fulfilling the principles and qualities of adepthood in their own lives, many spiritual groups, much like that of any political institution, have perpetuated a collective, animal-hive mentality, which, rather than promote the initiative and free thought of its adherents, obscures the importance for discriminating, qualifying, assessing, or appraising a teacher's qualifications. Rather than becoming adepts through proven and verifiable methods, spiritual devotees are unfortunately inept in establishing lasting spiritual relationships based on expertise, proficiency, and trust.
Such an innate credulity, proclivity, and indiscretion is born from a genuine yearning and need within the Western mind, that of finding, acclimating to, and verifying the realities of the superior worlds, masters, and prophets. However, because most people lack effective practices, abilities, and criteria for knowing such truths for themselves, it becomes easy to be fooled by those who would profit from our naïveté in the financial, real estate, and personal domains.
A true teacher will help students to be autonomous and reliant upon one's Innermost: the divine inner Being within each person who must be realized in daily life, here and now. Genuine spiritual instructors do not seek to build churches, synagogues, mosques, temples, or groups, but to create authentic individuals. Demands of unwavering allegiance, membership, unquestioning devotion, money, property, or sexual favors is the exclusive field of extortioners, charlatans, and panderers of souls:
Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. ―Matthew 7:15-20
Instead of relying on the opinions, beliefs, or outward appearances of an instructor, it is best to evaluate his or her qualifications based on proven, scientific, and verifiable facts. Fortunately, there have been many initiates of excellent character across distinct times, civilizations, and spaces, since their teachings and precedents offer a lens for students to ascertain the true worth of a teacher. It is also important that the aspirant identify and understand what makes a dedicated and strong student, for without clarity in these parameters, it then becomes easy to lack objective evaluation and judgment of the facts.
What Defines a Master?
To understand what or who a master is, it is necessary to understand the path of initiation, Kabbalah, and the Tree of Life.
This is a map that details our full capacities as a spiritual and material being. Each of the ten spheres or סְפִירוֹת sephiroth [plural Hebrew term for "emanations"] represents qualities of consciousness, degrees of development, and levels of initiation: the experiential wisdom and expression of divinity within our multidimensional nature. From the most simple and rarified states of consciousness above towards the most dense and material below, the aspirant must learn to ascend within these initiatic states to return to our divine source.
Through the path of the perfect matrimony, a married couple can conserve, sublimate, and transform their vital forces, using the creative energy that could initially give birth to a physical child to fashion internal vehicles. Unlike our physical body, these spiritual conduits have the power to manifest and express the infinite power of divinity in a flawless way, consonant to the degree of psychological purification achieved within the practitioner. In the same manner that a light bulb transmits higher voltages of electricity based on capacity and wattage, so too can we express the highest principles of our divine Being through creating energetic channels for their realization. Such transmitters are known as solar bodies, the wedding garments of a divine marriage (Matthew 22) that the soul occupies during the hours of sleep and after death. Samael Aun Weor, the founder of the modern Gnostic tradition, repeatedly refers to these vehicles as "the existential superior bodies of the Being" because they provide the basis for a true existence within superior states of consciousness. These solar bodies were represented by the Nativity of Christ, the Christ-child who is the symbol of solar genius, creativity, and intuition, the omniscient and all-pervading life-giving Sun or Son of God who is born through immaculate and sacred sexuality.
Each sphere or ספירה sephirah [singular, "emanation"] on the Tree of Life is a different body of varying density, matter, energy, and consciousness within its respective dimension. Our current body, energy, mind, heart, and will is mechanical, habitual, and animalistic, symbolized within religious narratives by the moon. The lunar influence perfectly allegorizes our instinctual nature, since the moon cannot generate light on its own, but receives its illumination from the sun. In the same manner, we tend to borrow and steal ideas, spiritual beliefs, regalia, and platitudes, imitating the behaviors of the great initiates without generating any real authenticity of being on our own. The moon is also the origin for many behaviors, ecologies, meteorological influences, and sexual life, as evidenced by conception and menstrual cycles in women. The spiritual path of initiation, therefore, is about transforming our lunar, mechanical nature into a conscious, solar, creative, and brilliant character, one that knows how to embody the highest ideals without discrimination of caste, color, sex, or creed.
As we are now, we operate mechanically within the different dimensions of nature (commonly known through dreams and astral experiences) without any lucidity and consciousness. By creating solar bodies or vehicles of creative energy, initiates raise their level of being and awaken the light of consciousness within every dimension, since their sexual potential is utilized to create spiritual life [See Sacred Sexuality and Transmutation]. Each sphere constitutes the conception, gestation, and birth of a solar vehicle, whether physical, vital, astral, mental, causal, conscious, or spiritual, which can channel the limitless potential of God towards virtuous action and the betterment of humanity. These bodies also allow one to consciously travel within the higher dimensions and parallel universes associated with each sephirah of the Kabbalistic tree.
When the creative, sexual, serpentine fire known as Kundalini is raised within the spinal medulla of the physical body, one achieves the First Initiation of Fire associated with that body and degree. By raising the Kundalini of the vital or etheric world, one obtains the Second Initiation of Fire related with the creation of a solar vital body; likewise up the seven lower sephiroth of this diagram.
But in this process, at what degree does one become a master? Samael Aun Weor summarized the first five Initiations to become a master of the White Lodge:
In Freemasonry, the term Adeptus Minor is applied to any initiate who has successfully achieved the initiation of the sephirah תִּפְאֶרֶת Tiphereth (the fifth serpent of fire or Kundalini). Higher grades of adepts exist (Adeptus Major: the sephirah גְּבוּרָה Geburah; and Adeptus Exemptus: the sephirah חֶסֶד Chesed), but only for those who achieve even greater purifications and disciplines.
Are There Levels of Mastery?
Contrary to common assumptions, mastery occurs in levels. In the same manner that there are different levels of education, from elementary, middle school, high school, graduate, and post-graduate studies, likewise there exist varying degrees of spiritual abilities and attainment. It is important to understand the distinction between mastery and its degrees of perfection, for many mistakenly assume it to be a fixed state. Just as there are different grades within the education system, likewise there are steps, procedures, laws, paradigms, codes, realizations, and purifications in the process of becoming a perfect being.
Even amongst the highest-attaining educators, such as through doctoral programs at universities, there exist hierarchies and degrees of competency and achievement; likewise even amongst the greatest masters of humanity, since they possess even greater facility of supernatural and divine forces.
Through the path that I am indicating it is possible to achieve mastery, but it is one thing to achieve mastery and another to achieve perfection in mastery; that is different.
Can Women Be Masters?
Yes. A true man is an esoteric term for masters of the Fifth Initiation of Major Mysteries and applies to both sexes. Man comes from मनस् manas, the Sanskrit term for abstract mind, תִּפְאֶרֶת Tiphereth. True human beings are masters of the Fifth Initiation of Major Mysteries who with patience now possess their souls (Luke 21:19). A true man or human is not limited to the masculine sex, but refers to female masters as well:
1. Woman has the same rights as man.
What is Perfection in Mastery?
Upon reaching the Fifth Initiation of Fire, the initiate has a choice about how to continue his or her spiritual development. Two paths emerge in the causal world that determine the trajectory of the initiate, and which possess very different stipulations, expectations, codes, demands, qualities, commitments, responsibilities, and degrees of suffering. These are the spiral and direct paths.
The spiral path is the path of transitory buddhas, those awakened masters who enjoy enlightenment, wisdom, understanding, and superlative consciousness within the Nirvanic world for a determined period of time. निर्वाण Nirvana is the Sanskrit term for "cessation," signifying the end of suffering for its inhabitants and oblivion to the afflictions of humanity. However, such "Pratyeka" buddhas―those who enter Nirvana but do not return to teach others―are in transit, because their status and positions within this dimension are, due to karma, temporary. Such liberation and vacations within the superior worlds are predicated upon beneficial action and virtue, but once their good deeds are exhausted, such buddhas must eventually return to the physical world to work upon their defects in a slow, gradual, and intermittent manner.
Nirvana has periods of activity and repose. The problem and danger for transitory buddhas is temptation in the physical world, which, due to their strength, pervasiveness and perversity, often pulls such masters back into fornication again. Many reach the Fifth Initiation of Fire, enjoy a vacation in Nirvana, return to the physical world, and fall again, only to re-initiate the work of alchemy so as to regain what they lost. This is the common, circuitous route for many Nirvani buddhas, although this is not to say that there are not any masters who remain faithful upon the spiral path and eventually reach the goal: the Absolute. However, this path spirals throughout many eternities, cosmic days or Mahamanvantaras, which each endure trillions of years.
Due to the problems and dangers of the spiral path, there is another way that is infinitely more expedient, powerful, difficult, and dangerous, because it leads straight into the heart of universal cosmic consciousness while conquering all of its most terrifying adversities and obstacles. This is the direct path of the bodhisattvas of compassionate hearts, those masters who, due to their infinite sacrifices and longings to self-realize in one life, gain the right to incarnate the Intimate Christ within their interior for the betterment of humanity.
(Kuan Yin: a female bodhisattva of compassion,
otherwise known as Avalokitesvara)
A bodhisattva is a being who has incarnated बोधि bodhi, the "light, wisdom," and "enlightenment" of חָכְמָה Chokmah in Kabbalah, the cosmic Christ. Contrary to popular assumptions, Christ is not a single individual, but an impersonal, universal, and revolutionary energy that can manifest within the heart, essence, or सत्त्व sattva of an authentic human who is properly prepared. Christ is an intense light of creativity, elevation, and transformation, whose limitless compassion for the sufferings of all beings extends without ideological, racial, political, or philosophical distinctions, so much that it sacrifices itself solely for their benefit. This is why Jesus of Nazareth, the highest embodiment of the Christic principle, stated upon the cross: "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34).
Those who take the straight path are very rare, precisely because it is demanding and extreme. Nirvani buddhas or shravakas―those who hear the teachings and seek enlightenment solely for themselves―pay their karma and annihilate their ego over many eternities. Yet bodhisattvas renounce all happiness and accomplish the same feat in one life out of love for humanity. This is why the lives of the prophets like Jesus, Buddha, Moses, Krishna, and others are so intense, because the pressure of ordeals is maximized to accelerate the radical and complete death of psychological conditioning.
Only those who compassionately serve and sacrifice for others' spirituality receive the blessings of the Logos, the Word or Christ. Those who raise the serpents of Fire while embodying the ultimate ideal of conscious love, in combination with profound insight into the interdependent nature and emptiness of phenomena, receive the Intimate Christ and the Venustic Initiation: the reception, celebration, and festivities of Venus, the divine feminine, Virgin Mary, or Goddess Mother of the world.
These two paths, the spiral and the direct, were depicted by Leonardo da Vinci in his Mona Lisa, whereby we perceive two ways behind the ineffable sacred feminine or Divine Mother Kundalini. She is the Mother of the Intimate Christ, the latter who is only born within the initiate through chastity, virginity, or purity within the five lower bodies of the Kabbalistic tree.
If the initiate takes the direct path based upon the decision, will, and command of the Innermost (חֶסֶד Chesed, "mercy"), then such a master begins the path towards perfection. Once such a master has raised the serpents of fire, he or she must begin to raise the serpents of light within the lower bodies of Kabbalah. Whereas the fires of Kundalini constitute בִּינָה Binah, the sexual, igneous power of the Divine Mother, the serpents of light constitute the edification, elevation, sublimation, and ascension of חָכְמָה Chokmah, Christ, within the spinal column.
And no man hath ascended up to heaven (Οὐρανός Ouranos: כֶּתֶר Kether, חָכְמָה Chokmah, בינה Binah, the Logos or trinity), but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of Man (חָכְמָה Chokmah) which is in heaven. And as Moses (the causal body) lifted up the serpent in the wilderness (through the initiations of fire), even so must the Son of Man (the serpents of light) be lifted up (through Christ's Will). ―John 3:13-14
The path of initiation is depicted by three mountains or principal stages one must climb towards the heights of self-realization. The serpents of fire and light constitute the completion of what is known as the First Mountain. The Second Mountain signifies the complete death of the ego and resurrection within the nine kabbalistic heavens. The Third Mountain is ascension into the Absolute. For more understanding about this process, you may study the following:
What is a Saint?
Numerous religious traditions exist that venerate apostles, saints, and holy figures, such as those canonized by the Catholic Church. However, it is often not clear to the lay person what level of initiation such individuals have attained, because sainthood is often conflated with a type of static, exclusionary, and unfathomable perfection, indiscernible and misunderstood by the populace without alchemical and kabbalistic knowledge.
The term saint is much more pliable within the Gnostic tradition than the term adept, master, or prophet, which each bear deep significance, nuance, and implications. Samael Aun Weor often references Pratyeka buddhas or shravakas as saints, those masters who reached תִּפְאֶרֶת Tiphereth through the initiations of fire but have taken the spiral path. Masters, adepts, and prophets are those who have taken the direct path and receive the Venustic initiations.
The Sufi initiates elaborate on the qualities, character, and dispositions of the saints, who are beings with enough degree of psychological purification to receive and obey the commandments of divinity:
You must know that the principle and foundation of Sufism and knowledge of God rests on saintship, the reality of which is unanimously affirmed by all the Shaykhs [gurus, teachers], though every one has expressed himself in different language. […]
The Sufis repeatedly reference how the saints are desired by divinity, in that the Being longs for development and pushes the human consciousness to work through spiritual inquietudes. The primary aspiration of the Gnostic is to work in the metallurgical science of alchemy. Sainthood relates with different levels of buddhas, masters, or awakening, who are defined by their ethics, humility, purification, and nobility of heart. According to Samael Aun Weor:
The authentic saint is a perfect gentleman/lady who totally fulfills the ten commandments of the law of God, and who knows how to handle his sword [Kundalini] when necessary, in order to defend good, truth, and justice. The authentic saint never goes around boasting about it, since he is always known by his deeds. “Ye shall know them by their fruits.” [Matthew 7:16] —Samael Aun Weor, The Major Mysteries
Samael Aun Weor also refers to many Christified or perfected masters as saints, such as St. Francis of Assisi, St. Augustine, St. Job, St. Germain, St. Peter, St. John, who attained radical degrees of atonement. Therefore, sainthood can apply to even Christified buddhas, yet for the sake of clarity amongst his students, Samael Aun Weor often drew distinctions between saints (Pratyeka buddhas) and adepts (bodhisattvas).
Mansur Al-Hallaj, whom Samael Aun Weor refers to as the Muhammadan Christ in The Narrow Way, was a saint of the highest stature, executed after having already died psychologically to the ego:
Ancient traditions of Islam tell us that the sacred ashes of the old Sufi Al-Hallaj were dispersed in the winds from the heights of the Manarah.
Any adept or master of the straight path fulfills the three factors for spiritual revolution: birth of the soul through chastity, selfless service and sacrifice for others, and psychological purification and the death of the ego, desire, or conditions of mind. Learn How to Conquer Heaven through applying these three factors for awakening.
What is a Prophet?
Among the masters, adepts, and bodhisattvas of the direct path exist greater hierarchies of competency, skill, and realization. According to the consensus of Sufi, Hindu, Buddhist, and Gnostic traditions, the most elevated degree and caliber of masters are prophets or avatars.
The Sanskrit अवतर avatar or अवतार avatāraḥ signifies a "descent" of a deity from the superior worlds, as mapped out by the Tree of Life. The term avatar is etymologically broken down as: ava, down and tarati, "he crosses," one who traverses or incarnates within this physical world after having passed from the higher dimensions.
Throughout different periods in terrestrial and cosmic history, various humanities and races have gestated, flourished, and decayed within the evolutionary and devolutionary flux of existence. Nature gives rise and destruction to a multitude of empires, cultures, civilizations, and religions. When religious forms degenerate and die, divinity sends new messengers to reinvigorate spiritual principles and so give birth to new movements. Every people and community has its messengers, prophets, or avatars sent to initiate a superior way of living in the midst of degeneration, decay, and destruction. When religion and ethics deteriorate, messengers come to re-establish the doctrine of the Superhuman upon the earth out of divine compassion.
Avataras appear for special reasons in special circumstances. Whenever there is much unrighteousness, whenever confusion and disorder set in on account of unrighteousness and baffle the well-ordered progress of people, whenever the balance of human society is upset by selfish, ruthless and cruel beings, whenever irreligion and Adharma prevail, whenever the foundations of social organisations are undermined, Avataras appear to establish Dharma and to restore peace. Avatara is a descent of God for the ascent of man. A ray from the Hiranyagarbha descends on earth with mighty powers to keep up the harmony of the universe. The work done by the Avataras and their teachings produce a benign spiritual influence on human beings and help them in their upward divine unfoldment and Self-realisation. The Avatara comes to reveal the divine nature in man and makes him rise above the petty materialistic life of passion and egoism. ―Swami Sivananda, Lord Krishna, His Lilas and Teachings
While every civilization, people, or community receives its messengers, the trend is to persecute, hate, calumniate, and persecute them because their teachings contradict the psychological idolatry or worship of egotistical desire. People despise divinity's radical message of self-negation, selfless service, and the most contested principle of all: chastity or sexual purity, primarily because it cuts to the core of suffering to extirpate its beloved causes. Out of comprehension and compassion for the spiritually sick, avatars show humanity how our actions imprisons us, even when these behaviors are celebrated, respected, defended, and canonized as moral, upright, correct, ethical, just, considerate, respectable, honorable, etc.
And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. ―John 3:19
Despite differences in time, language, culture, symbolism, and other idiosyncrasies, all messengers come from one source: the universal cosmic Christ. Names for divinity are different, but the principle of divine love is the same.
...the Omni-merciful, the infinitude that sustains all, the very, very sacred Absolute Sun, periodically sends Avatars, Saviors, to this valley of tears. These sacred individuals, these messengers, these Saviors, are living incarnations of the Omni-merciful. Nevertheless, this lunar race, this perverse race of Adam, mortally hates such helpers. [...] The blessed Krishna, the blessed Buddha, the blessed Lama, the blessed Mohammed, the loving, essential Ashiata Shiemash, Moses, Quetzalcoatl (and many others) were all Avatars. The doctrine of all Avatars has its roots in the three basic factors of the revolution of the consciousness: to be born, to die, and to sacrifice the self for humanity. ―Samael Aun Weor, The Narrow Way
Despite the fact that numerous masters have appeared in distinct socio-cultural, ethnic, and spiritual communities, avatars are distinct in their hierarchy. Having attained a tremendous degree of ethical purity, discipline, and self-knowledge, prophets have the mission to provide different societies with revolutionary teachings and scriptural revelation.
How is a Prophet Different from a Saint?
Many students of mysticism and religion are fascinated by the lives of the saints, whose miraculous feats and portentous martyrdom become subject to admiration, adulation, and imitation. Throughout antiquity, numerous reports of mysterious phenomena surrounding the tombs, shrines, and sites of holy persons have been documented. However, rather than become distracted by such novelties, it is better to comprehend that even greater possibilities for initiatic development than mere physical miracles exist within oneself. Therefore, a clear distinction can be made between saints (Pratyeka buddhas) who perform miracles and prophets (avatars and bodhisattvas) who show the method and path for complete psychological transformation:
Samael Aun Weor: When we say soul, it must be understood that we refer to a set of forces, powers, virtues, etc. For example, if one disintegrates the defect of lust, then the virtue of chastity crystallizes within us. If we eliminate hatred, then love crystallizes within us. If we disintegrate egotism, then altruism crystallizes within us, and likewise, successively. Whenever we eliminate a defect, something of the soul crystallizes within us: a law, a power, a virtue, etc. Thus, when all of the psychic aggregates that we carry within our interior die, we will then possess our entire soul… This is why the gospels state: “In your patience you will possess your souls.” Moreover, even the physical body must become soul. [...]
The greatest masters have no ego, whereas the worst teachers, saints, masters, or initiates become attached to powers, virtues, titles, degrees, followers, movements, schools, and politics. Due to these categories, distinctions, and degrees, some of the most notable Sufi masters have stated:
In fact, the end of saintship is only the beginning of prophecy. ―Al-Hujwiri, Revelation of the Mystery (p. 223)
Saints, Pratyekas, and masters of the Fifth Initiation of Fire have not received the Venustic initiation, the degree, attainment, and level of a Christified buddha or prophet. Until a master is fully dead to desire, the ego, then one is subject to suffering, karma, defects, faults, and errors. A prophet is able to deliver a perfect message through becoming a useful instrument of divinity, and this is grounded in psychological purity. Masters who have even a sliver of ego are still affected with problems, conditions, and obstacles. If one strives to be a vehicle of prophecy and the Word, then one needs to transcend even sainthood, mastery, or the Fifth Initiation of Major Mysteries.
The Venustic Initiation is only for true human beings, never for intellectual animals. Let ‘true human beings’ be understood as those who already created the solar bodies. Let “intellectual animals” be understood as all of humanity [the Vulgar Man of the Earth], all the people who only have lunar bodies. The Venustic Initiation is the true nativity of the tranquil heart. The Venustic Initiation is for the few; it is a grace from the Solar Logos. In Nirvana, there are many Buddhas [saints] who―in spite of their great perfections―have never reached the Venustic Initiation. ―Samael Aun Weor, Light from Darkness
Prophet Muhammad received the Venustic Initiation on جَبَل ٱلنُّوْر Jabal-Nur, the "Mountain of Light," תִּפְאֶרֶת Tiphereth. This was a literal place in Arabia where he used to spend time in meditation retreat, where, according to Islamic mythos, he learned the first recitation of the Qur’an, the divine law, the Verb or Logos from the Archangel Gabriel. Muslims believe that before this powerful moment, Prophet Muhammad could not read nor write, thereby glorifying the Qur'an's inception as a true miracle. While constituting elements of temporality and historicity, such events constitute the divine substrata of Islamic and Gnostic narrative: how an illiterate man (תִּפְאֶרֶת Tiphereth, the human soul) learns to read, write, and master the principles of the kabbalistic alphabet, which is found within Arabic and Hebrew [Learn more from the Alphabet of Kabbalah].
The unlettered prophet is a powerful mythology bearing profound roots in kabbalah and alchemy that, unfortunately, many interpret literally. Without diminishing the miraculous potency of Qur'anic revelation, this story symbolizes how any master must inscribe within their hearts the letters or principles of divinity. This is accomplished through the sexual creative potency, as demonstrated by Al-Qalam: The Pen, Surah 68, verse 1:
Nũn. By the pen and what everyone writes! ―Al-Qalam 1
Nun in Arabic (ن), Hebrew (נ) or Aramaic represents a "fish": the sperm or ovum of the initiates from which the energy of divine creativity and Logoic expression are manifested. This is the energy that allows divinity to empower and write the truths of religion within one's consciousness:
Or do they say, “He has fabricated a lie about Allah”? If you had, Allah would have sealed your heart, if He willed. And Allah wipes out falsehood and establishes the truth by His Words. He certainly knows best what is hidden in the heart. ―Qur'an 42:24
Reza Azlan in No god but God describes the historical inaccuracy of Prophet Muhammad's illiteracy, whose occupation as a merchant required a knowledge of language, writing, and documentation. Many Muslims accept that he did not know how to read and write because to not believe would invalidate the Qur'an's miraculous initiation. In reality, these esoteric symbols do not diminish the Prophet's mastery, but augment the inexplicable power of the sexual, creative energy: the power of prophecy. This story represents the work with the igneous and luminous serpents, for even the Arabic ن Nun has a serpentine calligraphy with its diacritical mark representing a point, the sperm or ovum that swims within our sexual, Genesiatic waters. Through resurrecting in the fire and the light, the adept moves forward upon the path of the prophets through receiving the sacred names, principles, qualities, and virtues of an awakened consciousness.
How are Prophets Superior to Saints?
Since prophets establish religions, movements, and scriptures, they are superior in hierarchy to masters who develop their potential through an avatar's teachings:
It is related that [Junayd] he said: "The speech of the prophets gives information concerning presence (ḥuḍúr), while the speech of the saints (ṣiddíqín) [or Hebrew צדיקים Tzadikim, the masters of the Fifth Initiation of Major Mysteries] alludes to contemplation (musháhadat)." True information is derived from sight, and it is impossible to give true information of anything that one has not actually witnessed [experienced in the superior worlds beyond the body], whereas allusion (ishárat) involves reference to another thing. Hence the perfection and ultimate goal of the saints [masters of תִּפְאֶרֶת Tiphereth, Nirvanis, or Pratyekas] is the beginning of the state of the prophets [of the Venustic Initiation]. The distinction between prophet (nabí) and saint (walí), and the superiority of the former to the latter, is plain, notwithstanding that two heretical sects declare the saints to surpass the prophets in excellence. ―Al-Hujwiri, Revelation of the Mystery (p. 129)
A saint or master of תִּפְאֶרֶת Tiphereth attains degrees of contemplation of the truth, experiential knowledge, through ethics, spiritual conduct, and upright living. However, a prophet who has passed through the Venustic Initiations already possesses, due to previous work and experiential wisdom from past ages, a profound state of comprehension or witnessing that is more pervasive, penetrating, and profound. The prophets (adepts) begin where the saints (Pratyekas) end.
…one moment of the prophets is better than the whole life of the saints, because when the saints reach their goal they tell of contemplation (musháhadat) and obtain release from the veil of humanity (bashariyyat), although they are essentially men. On the other hand, contemplation is the first step of the apostle [Prophet Muhammad]; and since the apostle’s starting-place is the saint’s goal, they cannot be judged by the same standard. ―Al-Hujwiri, Revelation of the Mystery (p. 237)
Likewise in previous cosmic eras of development, many prophets and avatars have served countless humanities before, whereas saints are still working to ascend within their initiatic development, some of them for the first time.
Saintship has a beginning and an end, but prophecy has not. The prophets were prophets from the first, and shall be to the last, and before they existed [physically] they were prophets in the knowledge and will of God [in past cosmic ages]. ―Al-Hujwiri, Revelation of the Mystery (p. 238).
Many saints, initiates, or Nirvani Buddhas fall when returning to the physical world because they still have a lot of ego, whereas bodhisattvas, prophets, and adepts work vigorously to annihilate all temptation, thereby liberating themselves from vulnerability.
Rumi: The Camel and the Mouse
The following poetic anecdote from Rumi, the greatest Sufi poet, explains the difference between saints (initiates or beginning masters) and the prophets (adepts or bodhisattvas).
A mouse caught hold of a camel’s lead rope
Where Does Prophecy Begin?
True liberation and the power to foresee, guide, and enlighten humanity begins in תִּפְאֶרֶת Tiphereth, the causal world or plane of natural causes. However, why is this the case?
Beyond the three known dimension, physical dimension, length, width and height, exists the Fourth dimension; this dimension is Time. Beyond Time we have the Fifth Dimension; this dimension is Eternity. Moreover, we asseverate that beyond Eternity a Sixth Dimension exists; this Sixth Dimension is beyond Eternity and Time. In this sixth fundamental dimension is where total liberation begins. Therefore, only the person who awakens in all the six fundamental dimensions of space is a true clairvoyant, a Turiya, a legitimate enlightened one. ―Samael Aun Weor, The Perfect Matrimony
To truly enter the path that leads to final liberation, one must enact the causes and conditions for its fruition. Many look with awe and reverence at the Fifth Initiation of Fire as an advanced degree of attainment. The reality is that it is the genuine beginning of a much greater work. However, many initiates remain saints, deciding to rest and relax upon the spiral path. Such masters enjoy the delights of the causal world, tempting those who would walk the direct path to remain in heaven and forget the sufferings of humanity, which is why Samael Aun Weor referred to such beings as dangerous, tempting gods. Al-Hujwiri describes the sixth dimension as a state of union, return, and intimacy with divinity, whereby the masters of humanity, upon attaining such experiences or vacations in the superior worlds, greet disciples with rapture and degrees of conscious love. However, they remain attached to their virtues and stagnate, seeking to pull those who would incarnate Christ to remain at that level.
Do not you perceive that, according to the unanimous opinion of all the saints who seek God, the station of union (‘jam) belongs to the perfection of saintship [the Fifth Initiation of Fire]? Now, in this station, a man attains such a degree of rapturous love that his intelligence is enraptured in gazing upon the act of God (fi’l), and in his longing for the Divine Agent (fá’il) he regards the whole universe as that and sees nothing but that [since in the world of תִּפְאֶרֶת Tiphereth, Nirvana, one perceives the universe through divine causality, the movement, ebb, and flow of action and consequence within nature and all beings]. Thus Abú ‘Alí Rúbárí says: ‘Were the vision of that which we serve to vanish from us, we should lose the name of servantship (‘ubúdiyyat) [Nirvani or Pratyeka buddha],’ for we derive the glory of worship (‘ibádat) solely from vision of Him [within the sixth dimension, תִּפְאֶרֶת Tiphereth, Nirvana]. This is the beginning of the state of the prophets, inasmuch as separation (tafriqa) is inconceivable in relation to them. They are entirely in the essence of union, whether they affirm or deny, whether they approach or turn away, whether they are at the beginning [of the Venustic Initiations] or at the end [of Resurrection on the Second Mountain]. ―Al-Hujwiri, Revelation of the Mystery (p. 237)
What are the Three Principal Paths of Mastery?
Samael Aun Weor often refers to the paths of the Left and the Right within scripture, which do not refer to our modern-day political ideologies, practices, and beliefs. Instead, they refer to the spectrum of development, attitudes, and expression of the consciousness.
Traditionally, the political left is archetypically associated with liberalism, freedom, creativity, renovation, empathy, fluidity, invention, championing of the dispossessed, and deinstitutionalization.
The political right has been characterized by its conservatism, conscientiousness, and adherence to social hierarchies based on competency, family values, institutional forms, or management.
Within spiritual studies, the Left and Right paths are attributed to conscious principles mapped by the Kabbalistic Tree of Life, by the pillar of severity (the left) and mercy (the right). As can be deduced, this does not correlate with modern interpretations of political spectra, but instead references qualities of being, knowledge, virtues, and paths.
The two principal pillars or support of our spiritual temple are Mercy (חֶסֶד Chesed, Love) and Justice (גְּבוּרָה Geburah, Severity): the two basal pillars of divine wisdom. One cannot cancel out either principle, because both are needed in equilibrium to produce the awakening of our full potential.
Fortunately my dear friends, justice and mercy are the two principal columns of the Universal White Fraternity. Justice without mercy is tyranny; mercy without justice is tolerance, complacency with crime. ―Samael Aun Weor, Hell, Devil, and Karma
The left-hand, lunar path is defined by its liberality of passion, animal desire, vices, defects, and the fortification of ego.
The right-hand, solar path is characterized by adherence to virtue through the conservation and transmutation of the sexual energy.
This esoteric knowledge is the root of Eastern and Middle Eastern cultural etiquette, whereby the right hand is associated with acts of purity and cleanliness, and the left hand with impurity and bodily functions deemed unclean. It's important to remember that these are principles and not literalities, therefore persecution against left-handed people is unfounded, dogmatic, and ignorant. Left-handedness or sinistrality is not a source for discrimination, since what counts is its mystical interpretation, the source of "sin" residing in the abuse of the energies of the left kabbalistic pillar.
Good and evil, positive and negative, virtue and vice, right and left, are relative terms that the adepts transcend through comprehension of the middle way. While the followers of the left-hand path are attached to vice and those of the right-hand are attached to virtue, the adepts of the middle way go far beyond good and evil, virtue and vice, because they are radically unidentified with anything. However, to maintain such equilibrium, balance, harmony, and comprehension is a difficult task.
The initiates of the darkness, as well as the initiates of the Light, fall to the Left and to the Right.
Due to the difficulty of balancing the forces of good and evil, positive and negative, right and left, few venture into the path of the middle.
Should I Desire Mastery?
Unfortunately there is the tendency in spiritual devotees to covet powers, titles, degrees, teachings, teachers, positions, virtues, attention, and abilities. While looking upon covetousness of material objects as inferior, such "spiritual" persons covet the saints, initiates, and masters for their development. If we genuinely yearn to attain mastery, it should be for the benefit of others and with the selfless attitude of sacrificing our pride for the edification of our communities, not for our own entitlement.
It is related that Ibráhím b. Adham asked a certain man whether he desired to be one of God’s saints [a master of the Fifth Initiation of Fire], and on his replying "Yes," said: "Do not cover anything in this world or the next, and devote thyself entirely to God, and turn to God with all thy heart." To covet this world is to turn away from God for the sake of that which is transitory, and to covet the next world is to turn away from God for the sake of that which is everlasting: that which is transitory perishes and its renunciation becomes naught, but that which is everlasting cannot perish, hence its renunciation is also imperishable. ―Al-Hujwiri, Revelation of the Mystery (p. 217)
Initiation is demanding and rigorous. One must learn how to cultivate hidden abilities and conscious capacities without envy, desire, or the acquisition of "more." For every step one takes in the development of powers, one should take a thousand steps in sanctity, perfection, and ethical purification. Mastery implies that we conquer our own faults, not elevate them so that we can master others.
Do not covet powers, beloved reader. Powers are born as fruits of our Innermost when our soul has been purified. The mental force that we strain to use in order to move a piece of paper would be better used in order to dominate our carnal passion, in order to end hatred, in order to dominate our language, in order to defeat selfishness, envy, etc.
What is Mythomania?
Spiritual movements have long suffered a common and pervasive problem. When initiates acquire any level of spiritual experience through temporarily escaping the conditions of their mind, they mistakenly assume that they have attained mastery, perfection, and permanent enlightenment. Such persons ignore that mystical experiences, while genuine, are temporary so long as the ego continues to bottle and cage our understanding.
The Essence of any disciplined hermit [saint], accustomed to escaping from within the “I,” repeats such a feat after the death of his physical body. Then, his Essence enjoys the ecstasy for some time. Yet, after such time, his Essence returns as the Genie of Aladdin’s lamp, back into the interior of the lamp, the ego, the myself.
Many meditators know how to escape the shell of the body, vitality, heart, mind, and will so as to submerge within the superior worlds devested of any bodies or corporeality. However, they often mistake a temporary vacation within the heavens as a sign of residency, of having fully eliminated the animal ego. In this way, all of one's egotistical qualities take on a subtle, mystical flavor, and rather than being extirpated from one's nature, they adorn themselves with titles, honors, and the degrees of master so as to acquire abundant followers.
The marked proclivity of the mind to assume that it is divine is known as mythomania: to make a myth of मनस् manas: the mind. The consciousness, the human soul, is not the Being (divinity). While the human soul or consciousness (תִּפְאֶרֶת Tiphereth) works, it is the Innermost Being or Master (חֶסֶד Chesed) who drives the initiate to work, fight, and conquer him or herself. The Innermost is the one who receives initiations and development through the human consciousness, which cannot do the work alone without the help of the spirit. The Being is divine, not the human soul nor the mind (נצח Netzach). When our mind thinks it is holy, it commits many mistakes and produces problems in this physical world, such as self-aggrandizement and intolerable pride in mystical matters.
The value of the human person which is the intellectual animal called human being is less than the ash of a cigarette. However, the fools feel themselves to be giants. Unfortunately, within all the pseudo-esoteric currents a great amount of mythomaniac people exist, individuals who feel themselves to be masters, people who enjoy when others call them masters, individuals who believe themselves to be Gods, individuals who presume to be saints. The only one who is truly great is the Spirit, the Innermost. We, the intellectual animals, are leaves that the wind tosses about... ―Samael Aun Weor, The Perfect Matrimony
Therefore, Samael Aun Weor and many initiates have warned about the dangers of self-proclaimed spiritual masters who seek to gain a following based on sonorous titles. The Sufis were clear that those who proclaim their abilities are in fact stripped of them through mystical pride.
It is recorded that [Al-Kirmáni] said: "The eminent have eminence until they see it, and the saints [masters] have saintship [mastery] until they see it," i.e. whoever regards his eminence loses its reality, and whoever regards his saintship [mastery through mythomania] loses its reality. ―Al-Hujwiri, Revelation of the Mystery (p. 138)
Similarly, many saints acquire direct experience of the truth, but because they don't comprehend what they perceive, they mistakenly believe that they have reached enlightenment and the end of the path. They also speak with authority about that which they are forbidden to communicate.
Authentic degrees and authentic white initiations are received in the consciousness. These initiatic ceremonies are performed within the superior worlds. Initiations are intimate realizations of the consciousness, which must not be revealed, or spoken about. No one can grant initiations to anyone. Initiation is attained through life itself. ―Samael Aun Weor, The Major Mysteries
How to Tell if a Master is Genuine?
A genuine spiritual master is known through their ethical adherence to the divine law, chastity, or the great arcanum, not through its abnegation, nullification, or neglect.
Abú Yazíd was asked: "Who is a saint [Nirvani buddha, a master of the Fifth Initiation of Major Mysteries]?" He answered: "That one who is patient under the command and prohibition of God," because the more a man loves God the more does his heart revere what He commands and the farther is his body from what He forbids. It is related that Abú Yazíd said: "Once I was told that a saint of God was in such and such a town. I set out to visit him. When I arrived at his mosque he came forth from his chamber and spat on the floor of the mosque." ―Revelation of the Mystery (p. 217)
To spit signifies fornication, for:
...why should we see perversity in sex? Why do we spit on the holy shrine of love? Why do we look lustfully at what is sacred, that is, the chemical or metaphysical copulation? ―Samael Aun Weor, "Love and Sex"
Abú Yazíd continues:
"I turned back without saluting him, and said to myself: 'A saint must keep the religious law [ethics, chastity] in order that God may keep him in his spiritual state. Had this man been a saint [master] his respect for the mosque [Gnostic temple] would have preserved him from marring the grace vouchsafed to him.' The same night I dreamed that the Apostle [Prophet Muhammad] said to me, 'O Abú Yazíd, the blessing of that which thou hast done is come to thee.' Next day I attained to this degree which ye behold." And I have heard that a man who came to visit Shaykh Abú Sa’íd entered the mosque [Gnostic temple] with his left foot foremost [since one enters Gnostic temples with the right foot, signifying transmutation and chastity]. The Shaykh gave orders that he should be dismissed, saying: ‘He who does not know how to enter the house of the Friend is not suitable for us.’ Some heretics who have adopted this perilous doctrine assert that service of God (khidmat) is necessary only while one is becoming a saint [master of the Fifth Initiation of Fire] but that after one has become a saint, service [ethical conduct] is abolished. This is clearly wrong. There is no ‘station’ on the way to the Truth where any obligation of service [ethics] is abolished. ―Al-Hujwiri, Revelation of the Mystery (p. 217-18)
Can a Master Save Me?
No master in the physical world can save you. Even if a master were to see through your mind, heart, and actions, they cannot annihilate your ego or do the spiritual work for you. Attachment to individuals in the physical world is an obstacle and deterrence to working upon one's own mind.
Religious obligations (taklíf) depend on Divine guidance (hidáyat), and acts of mortification [striving against oneself in the death of the ego] only serve to affirm the proofs of God [through awakening consciousness], not to effect real union with Him [without sexual alchemy]. God has said: ‘And though We had sent down the angels unto them and the dead had spoken unto them and We had gathered before them all things together, they would not have believed unless God had so willed’ (Koran 6:111), for the cause of belief is Our will, not [material] evidence or mortification [striving in psychological death alone]. Accordingly, the revelations of the Prophets and ordinances of religion are a means (asbáb) of attaining union [Self-realization], but are not the cause (‘illat) of union [Self-realization]. ―Al-Hujwiri, Revelation of the Mystery (p. 204)
All genuine masters are humble and do not accept praise, adulation, honors, and worship. True masters are simple and anonymous, primarily because spiritual devotees tend to be so attached to external teachers that they forget the precedence of their Innermost.
It is not appropriate for someone who Allah has blessed with the Scripture, wisdom, and prophethood to say to people, "Worship me instead of Allah." Rather, he would say, "Be devoted to the worship of your Lord alone"―in accordance with what these prophets read in the Scripture and what they taught. And he would never ask you to take angels and prophets as lords. Would he ask you to disbelieve after you have submitted?” ―Qur’an 3:79-80
Should I Follow a Master?
I do not follow anyone; therefore no one should follow me. ―Samael Aun Weor, Practical Astrology
Sadly, despite Samael Aun Weor's injunctions, many of his students follow his terrestrial personality (which he had disintegrated in the work) rather than their own divinity.
This is why we advise our disciples not to follow anyone. Let our disciples follow their own Self. Each of our disciples has to follow their resplendent and luminous inner Being. Each one has to adore their own “I Am.” We beg, beseech, our disciples not to follow us. We do not want henchmen or followers. We have written this book so that you, our friends, listen to your own internal master, your resplendent “I AM.” The Innermost is your master: follow Him. ―Samael Aun Weor, The Major Mysteries
Many dangers exist in adhering to or following a teacher, group, school, or ideology. As with any spiritual teaching, Gnosis has been transformed, for many devotees, into a cult of personality, identity worship, and blind enthusiasm without evidence. What is important is one's internal experiences in conjunction with physical facts, meditative analysis, comprehension based upon verification of metaphysical realities, and our own conscious judgment. When mistaken individuals worship the personality of Samael Aun Weor, they do a great disservice to his message and teaching, which is one of independence, investigation, scientific inquiry, and exploration, not fanaticism, excommunications, and psychological repression. The fanaticism of certain Gnostic groups is not a reflection of the messenger, but their collective minds. According to one Gnostic instructor instructed by an Egyptian initiate in the astral plane: "Modern Gnostics are the return and recurrence of the Pharisees from Biblical times."
There are three principal ways that students can be mislead:
First, take heed that none of the many false avatars who appear during these times deceive you, for many impostors appear in these times and deceive others. Second, take heed of sexual temptations. Third, do not ever attend spiritual centers; the mediums-channelers can easily lead you astray from the path. Many disciples have fallen horribly due to these three dangerous reasons. Flee from these three treacherous dangers so that you may not lose your initiations and degrees. ―Samael Aun Weor, The Major Mysteries
How to Find a Real Master?
There is a need to search for a guru in order for him to guide us along this internal and delicate way. The guru must be searched for within, in the profundity of the consciousness... Each disciple must search for the master inside, inside, inside. The master is found in the profundity of our consciousness. If you want to search for the master, abandon all bookish erudition and pseudo-spiritual schools. The master appears when the disciple is prepared. ―Samael Aun Weor, Igneous Rose
Real occultism and Guru Yoga is exclusively learned within the internal worlds through dream yoga, for the authentic masters of Major Mysteries are solely verified within the superior dimensions when the consciousness is awake and the physical body sleeps.
...in this day and age, it is very dangerous to just simply follow someone. What is best is to seek the Inner Master. The best thing is to follow our “I Am.” The best thing is to learn how to travel in the astral body in order to visit the temples of the White Lodge and to receive the teachings directly in the temple... ―Samael Aun Weor, The Major Mysteries
What Are Genuine Masters Like?
The authentic master never boasts of being a master... An authentic guru does not go around boasting about it. The authentic guru is the Inner Christ. A true master goes around everywhere anonymously and unknown. He does not exhibit his deeds or powers, and is filled with modesty. A true master is before anything else an upright citizen. The authentic master is never an intellectual, since the intellect is an animal function of the human “I.” The true master is like a child, pure, holy, simple, and natural. The true master is the Inner Christ “that is the true Light, which lightens every man that comes into the world” [John 1:9]. ―Samael Aun Weor, The Major Mysteries
Mastery is attained through work upon the ego, especially pride. While one must comprehend and annihilate desire, this does not signify repression, self-hatred, morbidity, pessimism, self-deprecation, and self-denigration, which are egotistical qualities. Shame is a defect, a sense of inverted pride that identifies with feeling bad about oneself. Remorse is the voice of conscience, our inner judgment that knows one is wrong and takes responsibility for one's mistakes, so as to act virtuously for others. This is why Samael Aun Weor stated:
You [if you have reached levels of initiation] are not the master, you are only the sinning shadow of He who has never sinned. Remember that only your internal Lamb is the master. Remember that even though your internal God is a Hierarch of fire, you, poor slug, are only a human being and as a human being you will always be judged. Your internal Lamb could be a planetary God, but you, poor slug of the mud, do not forget, always remember that you are only the shadow of your God. Poor sinning shadow...! Do not say “I am this God” or “I am that master,” because you are only a shadow that must resolve to die [to the ego] and be slaughtered [upon the cross of alchemy] in order not to serve as an obstacle for your internal God. It is necessary for you to reach supreme humbleness. ―Samael Aun Weor, The Aquarian Message
Why Did Samael Aun Weor Proclaim His Mastery?
Some people criticize Samael Aun Weor that if the master is within, why was he recognized with the title of Venerable Master? The reality is that he is a prophet of the Venustic Initiations and not merely a saint (Nirvani buddha).
Prophets are given authority by the White Lodge to teach the doctrine through their experiences or evidentiary miracles―such as receiving and unveiling their sacred name after the Venustic Initiation―so as to provide clarity of the path. Saints (masters of Major Mysteries who follow in the footsteps of the prophets) do not:
Mu’jízát [evidentiary miracles of a prophet] involve publicity and karámát [miracles of a saint, a master of the fifth initiation] secrecy, because the result of the former is to affect others, while the latter are peculiar to the person by whom they are performed. —Al-Hujwiri, Revelation of the Mystery
We study the works of Samael Aun Weor because he was not only a master of Major Mysteries, but a prophet and Dhyani-Bodhisattva: the human soul and spirit of a Logos.
When a Logos wants to come into the World, he emanates his Innermost. The Innermost then, together with the Divine Soul, is the Dhyani Bodhisattva of a Logos. ―Samael Aun Weor, Manual of Practical Magic
He is described as a “King of kings, and Lord of lords” (Revelations 19:16), the white rider of the New Testament whose verb punishes the egotistical multitudes like a sword, the igneous verb or Word of fire (the mantras S). A prophet possesses hierarchy to lead many Malachim or masters, and Samael leads the ray of Martian power, since as a Logos, he was known throughout Greece and Rome as Ares or Mars [see The Meaning of the Name Samael Aun Weor for a deeper understanding of this controversial archangel].
According to the Sufis, the masters of Major Mysteries (saints) follow the prophets (Dhyani-Bodhisattvas) due to their hierarchy:
The end of saintship (the Fifth Initiation of Fire) is only the beginning of prophecy (the Venustic Initiations). —Al-Hujwiri, Revelation of the Mystery
The powers of the saints or masters of Major Mysteries should not be broadcasted or publicized, otherwise such initiates risk losing their abilities. However, a prophet lives an exemplary life and relays their mystical experiences to provide clarification, boundaries, scripture, and inspiration. A saint can become intoxicated by samadhis or "drunk on God," whereas prophets, due to acculturation, ability, attainment, and hierarchy, are "sober" while in the midst of the greatest realizations and witnessing of the truth. This is why prophets like Samael Aun Weor were so demanding of his students: to push them and aid in their aspirations.
…miracles are not vouchsafed to a saint except when he is in a state of intoxication [mystical ecstasy], whereas the miracles of the prophets are wrought in the state of sobriety [mastery and self-control]. Hence… this is a clear distinction between mu’jízát and karámát, for the saint, being enraptured, pays no heed to the people and does not call upon them to follow him, while the prophet, being sober, exerts himself to attain his object and challenges the people to rival what he has done. Moreover, the prophet may choose whether he will manifest or conceal his extraordinary powers, but the saints have no such choice… ―Al-Hujwiri, Revelation of the Mystery (p. 226)
Prophets are not exalted because of pride, self-glorification, or ambition, but since divinity longs to give light through them to humanity. In the words of the greatest of Sufi poets, Rumi:
The really holy never need to be honored; their selves are already honored by Love. If a lamp wants to be placed where it can be seen, it wants that for others’ sake, not its own. What does the lamp care whether it is placed ‘above’ or ‘below’? Wherever it is, it is still a lamp and it still gives out light. Nevertheless, it wants its light to reach and help others. Imagine if the sun were below the earth―it would still be the sun, of course, but the world would languish in darkness. So the sun is placed in its regal position not for its own sake at all, but for the world’s. The real holy ones who are put in high positions are like the lamp and the sun―they do not care about ‘high’ or ‘low,’ ‘above’ or ‘below,’ and do not look to be revered by others.
Did Samael Aun Weor Want Followers?
A true prophet does not demand followers, but only imitators of his or her example:
Take heed, my brothers and sisters, of those wolves dressed in sheepskin. Be prudent, be cautious, and withdraw from all of those spiritualist cages that are true centers of exploitation and moral corruption. The owners of all of those lodges are now very jealous of their businesses and consider the Master Samael Aun Weor as a very dangerous element. Indeed, those black magicians are right: I am a very dangerous element for them, because I remove the masks from their faces, and show their naked shame in the open, before the solemn verdict of public consciousness. So, the wicked ones fight back in order to defend their business, thus they abruptly run to defend it.
Why Are There Many Masters in Gnosis?
There are a few reasons why many people in the Gnostic movement claim to have attained mastery. For some it is a source of ambition, competition, and race for larger congregations. For others it is an issue of spreading the teaching to more students, whom are more attracted to a spiritual tradition that boasts of lineages, titles, and a succession of qualified masters and disciples. Some do it for less noble reasons like drugs, psychosis, or extortion. However:
But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
Samael Aun Weor did not institute any such initiatic genealogy either through blood or politics, for he was against followers, henchmen, and Piscean systems that trap students within dogmas, terrestrial hierarchies, and beliefs. Lineages constitute "the will of man" within most spiritual communities, for as evidenced by the lamentable political in-fighting within the Gnostic movement, such contestation and rivalry for authority as "the true Gnostic group" has driven many sincere students away from studying the teachings because they think it is a cult.
What Samael Aun Weor advocated was Aquarian spirituality, which does not demand blind devotion to a person, shrine, or idea, but to the Christic Nativity of the tranquil heart:
Instructors must not be called masters, but "friends." "But be not ye called master: for one is your master, even Christ" [Matthew 23:8]. The Gnostic movement is impersonal. It is made up of humble laborers. Therefore, let us reject any personalization. Let us not accept imposing individuals. No one is better than anyone else. Among us, we are laborers, bricklayers, mechanics, farmers, writers, physicians, etc. [...]
The best guide to navigating spiritual and Gnostic politics is to rely on your intuition, Innermost, and internal experiences. It is important to test and verify the principles of this teaching to validate them from experience, not to accept or reject blindly due to fanaticism or fear.
In general, authentic masters do not take pains to declare their mastery or sainthood to the world. While many sincerely believe that they are advanced practitioners and have been authorized to reveal their sacred name:
Initiation is something very intimate, very secret, very divine. Avoid all those who say, "I have so many initiations, so many degrees." Avoid all those who say, "I am a master of Major Mysteries; I have received so many initiations." Remember, dear reader, that the "I," that the personality does not receive initiations. Initiation is a matter for the Innermost; it has to do with the consciousness, with the very delicate things of the Soul. One must not go about speaking of these things. No true adept would ever use phrases like, "I am a master of the White Lodge," "I have such-and-such degree," "I have so many initiations," "I have these powers," etc. ―Samael Aun Weor, The Perfect Matrimony
Samael Aun Weor is the avatar, messenger, and prophet of Aquarius, and thereby was instructed to teach about his identity. According to Sufism, the esotericism of Islam, a prophet provides evidentiary miracles, whereas other masters do not. As for others who declare the name of their inner Being, they are not prophets, therefore their humility and modesty is questionable. A master or saint in Gnosis cannot be compared with Samael Aun Weor due to initiatic hierarchy, as explained by previous quotes from Rumi, Al-Hujwiri, and the Sufi tradition.
Abú Yazíd was asked about the state of the prophets. He replied: "Far be it from me to say! We have no power to judge of them, and in our notions of them we are wholly ourselves. God has placed their denial and affirmation in such an exalted degree (of objective reasoning) that human vision cannot reach unto it." Accordingly, as the rank of the saints (masters of תִּפְאֶרֶת Tiphereth) is hidden from the perception of mankind, so the rank of the prophets (Dhyani-Bodhisattvas of the Logos) is hidden from the judgment of the saints (including the Buddhas of Nirvana). —Al-Hujwiri, Revelation of the Mystery (p. 238)
Do Masters Reform Other Groups?
It is also common for many Gnostics to infiltrate other groups with the objective of converting students and instructors to "the true Gnosis." However, this is known as "stealing sheep" and has nothing to do with helping more people become aware of how to work upon themselves. Samael Aun Weor warned about self-proclaimed masters and missionaries who seek to combine schools under a single flag of universal fraternity with themselves at the patriarchal apex.
Understand: the missionaries who go to form the army do not go as “lumisial reformers,” since every lumisial [Gnostic school or temple] depends upon a principal person, and this one, in himself and by himself, will answer to the great law for his work. Therefore, by no means do the missionaries have the authority to go everywhere reforming lumisials or dividing groups, or something of the sort. Let the principal person of each Gnostic lumisial answer for his work. Moreover, no missionary is authorized to go and reform the work of the principal person of any lumisial. Understand: the missionaries are not reformers of groups; the missionaries go to form new groups, and that is different. Therefore, any missionary has the liberty to form new groups. ―Samael Aun Weor, "Missionaries, Donations, and Schools"
Who Can Be Trusted?
Gnostic students face a perilous dilemma that can really push them away from deeper inquiry. When approaching the Gnostic teachings and encountering the politics of certain groups, aspirants can become confused as to who is right or wrong, and whether or not such disputes reflect the integrity of its founder and writings. It's important to remember, however, that there exist three jewels within Buddhism, namely:
In the Gnostic tradition, we study the teachings of Samael Aun Weor. Whether or not the community or missionaries live up to his doctrine is a separate issue, although many modern individuals fail to make this distinction and instead conflate him with the fanaticism of his followers. But is any prophet to blame for the incongruencies and abuse of students? Blaming Samael Aun Weor for the cultish behaviors of some followers is like blaming Jesus, Buddha, Moses, Krishna, and others for the degeneration of their message over time. Light is pure when emanating from the sun (Christ), yet becomes filtered when entering the polluted atmosphere of the earth, a simile for how authentic knowledge degenerates through the superficial, unconscious, torpid, and dull mind of zealots. Due to possessing psychological obscurations or ego, believers interpret everything in accordance with ancestral prejudices and mental conditioning, corrupting the unleavened bread of divine wisdom into the debauched leaven of hypocritical Phariseeism.
Around the inventors of new values the world revolves: invisibly it revolves. But around the actors revolve the people and fame: that is the way of the world. ―Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra: "On the Flies of the Marketplace"
If you wish to know whether or not Samael Aun Weor is who he says he is, it is important to test, experiment, and practice this knowledge to verify from experience its essential truths, and not to accept or reject them at face value. A true gnostic does not believe nor disbelieve, but knows:
The mind believes, the mind that does not believe, the mind that doubts, is an ignorant mind. The path of wisdom does not rely on believing, not believing, or doubting. The path of wisdom consists of inquiring, analyzing, meditating, and experiencing. ―Samael Aun Weor, Fundamentals of Gnostic Education
As Friedrich Nietzsche aptly stated in his esoteric book Thus Spoke Zarathustra:
Now I go alone, my disciples, You too, go now alone. Thus I want it. Go away from me and resist Zarathustra! And even better: be ashamed of him! Perhaps he deceived you… One pays a teacher badly if one always remains nothing but a pupil. And why do you not want to pluck at my wreath? You revere me; but what if your reverence tumbles one day? Beware lest a statue slay you. You say that you believe in Zarathustra? But what matters Zarathustra? You are my believers―but what matter all believers? You had not yet sought yourselves; and you found me. Thus do all believers; therefore all faith amounts to so little. Now I bid you to lose me and find yourselves; and only then when you have all denied me will I return to you… that I may celebrate the great noon with you [the advent of the Superhuman, when the solar logos is at its zenith above illuminating our minds]. ―Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra
Conclusion: The Real Master
Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, "master, master." But be not ye called master: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. ―Matthew 23:1-10
Discover the true master within you:
Definitions, History and Traditions
Mysticism etymologically derives from the Greek word myein, signifying "to close one's eyes" to material, illusory perceptions, so as to awaken internal, psychic vision. It is the root word for terms like mystery (μυστήριο mysterio), the axis of ancient mystery schools maintaining the highest ethical disciplines and the conservation of the deepest esoteric knowledge. Through secretive transmission between master and disciple, such initiatic societies have upheld the maximum order of integrity, purity, and confidentiality, protecting a doctrine that could otherwise harm the uninitiated and inexperienced purveyor due to its volatile nature. Such wisdom was only deliverable, apprehensible, and sustainable by the few who have proven their capacity, maturity, and worth.
The very doctrine which centres about the immediate personal contact with the Divine, that is to say, a highly personal and intimate form of knowledge, is conceived as traditional wisdom. The fact is, however, that the idea of Jewish mysticism from the start combined the conception of a knowledge which by its very nature is difficult to impart and therefore secret, with that of a knowledge which is the secret tradition of chosen spirits or adepts. ―Gershom Scholem, Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism
Kabbalah, as the mystical dimension of Judaism, is one such teaching that was transmitted across the centuries along with a great deal of conjecture, crypticity, and confusion. Yet it constitutes a fundamental support to comprehending the depths, subtleties, and nuances of genuine religion, from the Latin religare: to reunite with the divine. Jewish mysticism can be interpreted not only as a paradigm of mystical experience, but of different orders, schools, and groups that were active in medieval Europe and even ancient times.
Kabbalah, it must be remembered, is not the name of a certain dogma or system, but rather the general term applied to a whole religious movement. This movement, with some of whose stages and tendencies we shall have to acquaint ourselves, has been going on from Talmudic times to the present day; its development has been uninterrupted, though by no means uniform, and often dramatic. ―Gershom Scholem, Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism
Genuine mystical experiences carry with them a revolutionary and revolutionizing element. Direct experience or knowledge of divinity arrives within the parameters of applied spiritual discipline and an understanding of the various metaphysical techniques of esoteric tradition. According to Samael Aun Weor, the founder of modern Gnosis, "Behind the letter that kills is the spirit that vivifies." While blind adherence to the mechanical forms, dogmas, and beliefs of religious traditions produces ignorance, superstition, and the incapacitation of one's true potential, the vivifying or liberating experience of mystical consciousness opens doorways to new interpretations of otherwise dead religious forms. Such innovations from prophets, luminaries, and initiates have helped to direct and shape the course of kabbalistic thought in startling and pronounced ways.
It is a remarkable fact that the very term Kabbalah under which it has become best known, is derived from an historical concept. Kabbalah means literally “tradition”, in itself an excellent example of the paradoxical nature of mysticism to which I have referred before. ―Gershom Scholem, Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism
Paradoxically, according to Gershom Scholem―a German-Israeli philosopher―mysticism both upholds and transgresses the religious forms that contain it. While bringing life to literal historicities, theologies, and conjectures, such direct knowledge of divine truths often transgresses the limitations of popular beliefs, sectarianism, and skepticism. By knowing the truth for ourselves, our psyche is liberated from imposing conditions, unquestioning beliefs, and blind convictions without basis in actual experience. In this manner, traditions no longer become prisons of thought, but expressions of divine sapience as living mystery schools.
Various traditions designated as kabbalistic have existed not only amongst medieval European Jewry of the 13th century C.E., but throughout antiquity. Kabbalah, as the science of awakened, experiential consciousness, is the direct reception of divine wisdom from personal testimony and mystical states. Whether that apprehension of conscious knowledge is denominated with the Hebrew term קבלה Kabbalah―from the Hebrew קְבַל kabbel, "to receive," or the Greek γνῶσις gnosis―the cultural, linguistic, or geographical contexts of such experience is secondary to its fundamental reality: how a person of any race, region, religion, or creed can transcend time and space, so as to witness one's sacred, authentic, and transcendent identity without obscuration, hesitation, fear, or doubt.
While Kabbalah has branched off in a variety of different groups, interpretations, suppositions, and forms, the essential principles remain the same, especially within the ancient scriptures, or the Hebrew, Aramaic, and mystical tracts foundational to both medieval and modern Jewish life. The teachings of the great rabbis of Israel can elucidate many precepts, axioms, and doctrines present within all religions, for while Hebrew is particular to the Jewish traditions, the universal, esoteric symbolism of the Hebrew language, concomitant with Biblical allegory and narrative, can provide illumination and a penetrative interpretation of any mystical tradition. Religious forms differ, but their ethical and experiential didacticism is the same.
Kabbalah serves a dynamic role not only within Jewish life, but with the spiritual life of humanity as a whole. When religious forms become codified, calcified, and corrupted through unwavering obedience to misunderstood or unexamined precepts, the mystical experience of the truth radically transforms our perceptions of religion, relationships, self, and society. While different religions, such as Judaism, have their moral genesis, life, decline, and decay, it is possible to re-evaluate the spiritual verities of one's tradition to discover that which is most necessary, transformative, and indispensable, perceiving the ancient writings through an informed and educated eye. In this manner we learn to amplify our understanding of esoteric knowledge and the acuity of our own innate, awakened intelligence in response to the problems of daily living.
The secret of the success of the Kabbalah lies in the nature of its relation to the spiritual heritage of rabbinical Judaism. This relation differs from that of rationalist philosophy, in that it is more deeply and in a more vital sense connected with the main forces active in Judaism. Undoubtedly both the mystics and the philosophers completely transform the structure of ancient Judaism; both have lost the simple relation to Judaism, that naiveté which speaks to us from the classical documents of Rabbinical literature. Classical Judaism expressed itself: it did not reflect upon itself. By contrast, to the mystics and the philosophers of a later stage of religious development Judaism itself has become problematical. Instead of simply speaking their minds, they tend to produce an ideology of Judaism, an ideology moreover which comes to the rescue of tradition by giving it a new interpretation. ―Gershom Scholem, Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism
Despite the fact that modern Judaism is a thick shell, a cadaver or remnant of a much greater esoteric teaching, a deeper, intuitive appreciation awaits at the core of religious symbolism, narrative, and allegory, which can revitalize and reinvigorate an otherwise dead and monotonous spirituality. Although multiple traditions have become rigid through unwavering and misguided devotion to religious exteriors, there is the possibility of resurrecting universal principles and embodying their life-giving pulse. Public religion expresses sagacious and ingenious truths that have the potential of transforming suffering and developing personal knowledge of divinity. However, the means and manner of which to reflect such understandings within one's own practice have often remained incipient, unavailable, or adulterated by human perversion. Kabbalah seeks to remedy these ailments.
“Receive [קְבַל kabel, kabbalah] the  letters of the oath.” ―Third Book of Enoch
Revelation and Mystical Experience
Mystical experience or revelation is the heart of any religion or spiritual tradition. Rather than isolate such theophanies to specific moments in history, the mystic, gnostic, or kabbalist learns to imitate the lives of the great adepts through experiencing, within their own consciousness, the realities that the prophetic lives symbolized.
Revelation, for instance, is to the mystic not only a definite historical occurrence which, at a given moment in history, puts an end to any further direct relation between mankind and God. With no thought of denying Revelation as a fact of history, the mystic still conceives the source of religious knowledge and experience which bursts forth from his own heart as being of equal importance for the conception of religious truth. In other words, instead of the one act of Revelation, there is a constant repetition of this act. This new Revelation, to himself or to his spiritual master, the mystic tries to link up with the sacred texts of the old; hence the new interpretation given to the canonical texts and sacred books of the great religions. To the mystic, the original act of Revelation to the community―the, as it were, public revelation of Mount Sinai, to take one instance―appears as something whose true meaning has yet to unfold itself; the secret revelation is to him the real and decisive one. And thus the substance of the canonical texts, like that of all other religious values, is melted down and given another form as it passes through the fiery stream of the mystical consciousness. It is hardly surprising that, hard as the mystic may try to remain within the confines of his religion, he often consciously or unconsciously approaches, or even transgresses, its limits. ―Gershom Scholem, Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism
To the practical kabbalist, gnostic, or mystic, meditation is the instrument through which the harmonies of divine life are intuited. Through visions, dreams, and awakened experiences beyond the body, heart, and mind, one discovers, however, that the experience of divinity often contradicts the numerous convictions of believers and lay-folk regarding their own traditions. In this manner, the kabbalist learns how to appreciate the prescient symbolism of scripture while going far beyond the concepts of people who have never been initiated into the true meaning of their religion.
Rather than identify with Biblical characters as the progenitors of a particular race or group of people, kabbalists identify the allegorical and symbolic functions such figures represent within spiritual narrative:
The documents of religion are therefore not conceived as expressing a separate and distinct world of religious truth and reality, but rather as giving a simplified description of the relations which exist between the ideas of philosophy. The story of Abraham and Sarah, of Lot and his wife, of the Twelve Tribes, etc., are simply descriptions of the relation between matter and form, spirit and matter, or the faculties of the mind. ―Gershom Scholem, Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism
It is common knowledge how the Book of Exodus depicts the struggles of the Jews in bondage to Egypt. In reality, few realize how the chosen people, the distinct parts of our consciousness, soul, or spiritual potential, remain in bondage to conditions of mind, heart, and body.
The historical aspects of religion have a meaning for the mystic chiefly as symbols of acts which he conceives as being divorced from time, or constantly repeated in the soul of every man. Thus the exodus from Egypt, the fundamental event of our history, cannot, according to the mystic, have come to pass once only and in one place; it must correspond to an event which takes place in ourselves, an exodus from an inner Egypt in which we all are slaves. ―Gershom Scholem, Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism
Humanity continues to be enslaved to Egypt (מצרים Mitzrahim, "the place between the waters"), a symbol of materialism, egotism, and psychological perversity. To the mystic, scriptures no longer remain exclusive to particular groups of people within history, but serve as metaphoric signposts for the awakening of consciousness. Therefore the Old Testament (תנ״ך Tanakh, an acrostic for תּוֹרָה Torah: the Law, נְבִיאִים Neviʾim: Prophets, and כְּתוּבִים Ketuvim: Writings), provides spiritual guidance for the present moment. Kabbalah instructs the sincere student to recognize and interpret the symbolism of the Tanakh, so that in meditation, one can be effectively guided along the initiatic path through the balance of study and illuminating experience.
Supernatural illumination also plays its part in the history of Kabbalism and innovations are made not only on the basis of new interpretations of ancient lore but as a result of fresh inspiration or revelation, or even of a dream. A sentence from Isaac Hacohen of Soria (about 1270) illustrates the twin sources recognized by the Kabbalists as authoritative. “In our generation there are but a few, here and there, who have received tradition from the ancients … or have been vouchsafed the grace of divine inspiration.” Tradition and intuition are bound together and this would explain why Kabbalism could be deeply conservative and intensely revolutionary. Even “traditionalists” do not shrink from innovations, sometimes far-reaching, which are confidently set forth as interpretations of the ancients or as revelation of a mystery which Providence had seen fit to conceal from previous generations. ―Gershom Scholem, Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism
Through meditation, the consciousness can escape its material, corporeal form to experience inner realities of the higher worlds, otherwise referred to as astral projections, dream yoga, lucid dreaming, out of body experiences, etc. Abraham Abulafia, a 13th century Spanish mystic of prophetic kabbalah, related an awakened experience outside of his physical body as a result of deep contemplation and prayer to divinity:
Thy whole body will be seized by an extremely strong trembling, so that thou wilt think that surely thou art about to die, because thy soul, overjoyed with its knowledge, will leave thy body. And be thou ready at this moment consciously to choose death, and then thou shalt know that thou hast come far enough to receive the influx. And then wishing to honor the glorious Name by serving it with the life of body and soul, veil thy face and be afraid to look at God. Then return to the matters of the body, rise and eat and drink a little, or refresh thyself with a pleasant odor, and restore thy spirit to its sheath until another time, and rejoice at thy lot and know that God loveth thee! ―Gershom Scholem, Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism
The Body, Soul, and Spirit of Judaism
Judaism, alongside other religions, embodies in its collected scriptures levels of instruction that meet the needs, requirements, and character of differing classes of devotees. There are introductory, intermediate, and advanced teachings, which have been classified and named in different ways throughout the world.
In Buddhism, these levels are Shravakayana (the yana or vehicle of "listeners," shravakas), Mahayana (Greater Vehicle) and Tantrayana (Diamond or Tantric Vehicle). Among the Freemasons, these levels are made of Apprentices, Journeymen, and Masters. The Sufis denominated these degrees as Shariah (exoteric law), Tariqah (the path), and Haqiqah (the highest truth).
The introductory teachings explain the foundations of ethical conduct and behavior of the aspirants, so that by enacting positive ways of being, the disciple raises his or her quality of life and prepares to enter into the experiential dimension of one's tradition.
In the intermediate path, practitioners are acquainted with and realize a degree of divine principles in their practical existence, working not only for their own spirituality, but that of others.
In the advanced teaching, practitioners are given the highest, most secretive, and expedient methods for radical internal liberation and the transformation of humanity. However, since these exercises are so powerful, they have traditionally only been given to those who have demonstrated their trustworthiness throughout many decades of committed discipline, trials, ordeals, and proofs within the former two degrees of religion.
In Judaism we find this dynamic structure displayed in Hebrew terms, especially in relation to specific collections of writings portraying the understandings and capacities of these particular systems. In synthesis, these are known as the body, soul, and spirit of the esoteric doctrine:
The Jews had three sacred books: the first is the body of doctrine, that is to say, the Bible. The second is the soul of the doctrine, the Talmud, where the national Jewish soul is. The third is the spirit of the doctrine, the Zohar, where the entire rabbinical Kabbalah is.
The Foundations of Kabbalah
Since we are a Gnostic school, we examine all three systems in our studies: the body, soul, and spirit of every religion in the world. Gnosis or דעת Da'ath, genuine Kabbalah or experiential knowledge, is about activating our true spiritual capabilities in our moment to moment awareness. It is impossible to live the highest aspects of the spiritual teachings without fulfilling its most basic, ethical precepts. Yet to understand the most basic precepts of religion and to appreciate its contexts, it is important to know the esoteric doctrine that enlivens the exoteric and intermediate paths.
While this knowledge remained a secret within the most cautious and protective spiritual organizations, we now live in an era of information, co-fraternity, and dissemination of spiritual values. The esoteric knowledge that was once forbidden is now available to anyone who sincerely yearns for deep change and realizations. This is because divinity has seen our afflicted position within incredible global crises, and out of compassion, opened the doors to knowledge that was once conserved and had to be earned. Since the 1960's, such information has spread throughout the modern world as part of a humanitarian aid to alleviate the suffering of humanity.
Judaism, as one such treasure house of great scriptures and instructions, can now be fully understood and appreciated by knowing the spirit of the doctrine that was once obscured. The Gnostic teachings, which embraces and explains the kabbalistic traditions, is a key to unlocking many concealed aspects of religion. One scriptural tool that we use is the ultimate expression of Jewish mysticism: the Zohar.
The Zohar is the culmination of a rich rabbinical tradition that has roots within medieval Spain. However, to fully appreciate the Zohar and its rabbinical commentaries, it is necessary to know the medieval structures, foundations, and principles upon which they are based.
Aggadah: The Narrative Tradition
To understand the ways in which Kabbalah, and particularly the Zohar, finds it home within the earlier tradition, we need to distinguish five elements that are present in the legacy of medieval Jews received from the Judaism of the Talmudic age. [...] The first of the five elements is הַגָּדָה aggadah, the narrative tradition, contained in the Talmud and the various works of Midrash. Midrash is a hermeneutical term, rendered both as 'inquiry' and 'homiletics,' indicating a way of delving into Scripture that tends towards fanciful and extended rereadings. Much of aggadah is legendary in content, expanding biblical history and recreating the biblical landscape in the setting of the rabbinic world. But aggadah also includes tales of the rabbis themselves and teachings of wisdom in many forms: maxims, parables, folk traditions, and so forth. ―Arthur Green, A Guide to the Zohar
The Zohar is often described as written in the form of a mystical novel, portraying the conversations, dialogues, and teachings of great rabbis learned in the most hidden sciences. This is a common feature of rabbinical literature, whereby legends, myths, folklore, and stories (aggadah) are used to communicate higher tenets and revelations. These involve a deep analysis and comprehension of the intricacies and subtleties of scripture, often in the form of scrutinizing individual Aramaic or Hebrew letters to arrive at innovative meanings otherwise unacknowledged or undisturbed beneath surface readings. While each verse appears to communicate simple instructions about Jewish life and law, they in term embody multiple, complimentary layers of signification, which constitute a primary function to any given scriptural passage.
Those who are not initiated in Kabbalah lack a critical key for unlocking the connotative aspect of Hebrew, whose numerous grammatical and syntactical rules allow for a dynamic range of interpretation. English and other translations lack the depth, vibrancy, and integrity of the original, since any translation is merely an approximation, rather than an accurate rendering. This is why a basic understanding of Hebrew is essential for understanding the Tanakh. For those who do not know the symbolism of the twenty-two Hebrew letters do not know the basis of the Abrahamic traditions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. "Behind the letter that kills is the spirit that vivifies."
What makes [Kabbalists] differ from the philosophers is the fact that for them the Aggadah is not just a dead letter. They live in a world historically continuous with it, and they are able, therefore, to enhance it, though in the spirit of mysticism. Aggadic productivity has been a constant element of Kabbalistic literature, and only when the former disappears will the latter, too, be doomed to extinction. ―Gershom Scholem, Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism
Halakhah: Jewish Law
The second element is the tradition of הֲלָכָה halakhah, the legal and normative body of Talmudic teaching, the chief subject of study for Jews throughout the medieval era, and thus the main curriculum on which most Kabbalists themselves were educated. ―Arthur Green, A Guide to the Zohar
Halakhah is the collective body of Jewish laws proceeding from both Oral and written Torah. While Jewish philosophers divorced themselves from the spiritual pulse of medieval Jewry through neglecting Halakhah, Kabbalists gained popularity and ground for their innovative and revitalizing interpretations of Jewish law. Through the mystical apprehension of internal truths, codified law became living allegories for psycho-spiritual transformation and the exaltation of Jewish life.
To the philosopher, the Halakhah either had no significance at all, or one that was calculated to diminish rather than to enhance its prestige in his eyes. Entirely different was the attitude of the Kabbalists. For them the Halakhah never became a province of thought in which they felt themselves strangers. Right from the beginning and with growing determination, they sought to master the world of the Halakhah as a whole and in every detail. From the outset, an ideology of the Halakhah is one of their aims. But in their interpretation of the religious commandments these are not represented as allegories of more or less profound ideas, or as pedagogical measures, but rather as the performance of a secret rite (or mystery in the sense in which the term was used by the Ancients). ―Gershom Scholem, Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism
Jewish law, rather than imposing upon or exclusive to the life of the kabbalist, becomes comprehensive, cosmic, and ubiquitous. The same truths experienced by the Christian are the same amongst Buddhists and Sufis, for Jewish legality serves a mystical dimension of deeper abstractions than merely an approbation for one particular culture alone. What appears as veiled credenda of the Jewish people in turn constitutes a compass for navigating the labyrinthine language of the Tanakh and all religious writings. Commandments that appear to have a single denotative meaning in turn populate themselves into multitudinous connotations of equal and synthetic import.
Piyyut: Liturgical Poetry
A third element of the rabbinic legacy is the liturgical tradition. While liturgical praxis was codified within halakhah and thus in some ways is a subset of it, the texts recited in worship, including a large corpus of liturgical poetry, or פיוט piyyut, constitutes a literary genre of their own. Medieval writers, including the mystics of both Spain and Askhenaz, were much concerned with establishing the precise, proper wording for each prayer. The texts of the prayerbook, mostly fixed by compendia dating from the tenth century, became in the Middle Ages the object of commentaries, many of which sought to find their authors' own theologies reflected in these venerated and widely known texts by the ancient rabbis. This is especially true of the Kabbalists, who devoted much attention to the כַּוָּנָה kavvanah, or inner meaning, of liturgical prayer. While not formally canonized or seen as the product of divine revelation, as were the books of Scripture, the liturgical texts were regarded as sufficiently holy and mysterious to deserve and require commentary. ―Arthur Green, A Guide to the Zohar
Liturgy is essential to all world religions, for they embody a conglomeration of attitudes, prayers, and intentions (kavvanah) that are essential to the mystical life of the kabbalist. Liturgical codes that appear superficial or perfunctory in turn reveal depths of intuitive perception that serve as focal points of meditative concentration and reflection. The Zohar often comments upon liturgical worship with the purpose of deciphering concealed meanings, many of which transcend the cultural contexts and conventionalities of time and place. Paradoxically, Jewish liturgy fulfills and negates its own stipulations through the mystical praxis of kabbalistic interpretation, for new and fresh meanings consecutively build upon each other through the Zoharic dialogue of the great enlightened rabbis.
The fourth strand of earlier tradition is that of מרכבה merkavah mysticism. Merkavah designates a form of visionary mystical praxis that reaches back into the Hellenistic era but was still alive as late as tenth-century Babylonia. Its roots lie close to the ancient Jewish apocalyptic literature, except that here the voyager taken up into the heavens is usually offered a private encounter with the divine glory, one that does not involve metahistorical predictions. Those who 'go down into the merkavah' sought visions that took them before the throne of God, allowing them to travel through the divine 'palaces' (היכלות heikhalot), realms replete with angels, and at the height of ecstasy, to participate in or even lead the angelic chorus. The term merkavah ('chariot') links this tradition to the opening vision of Ezekiel, which was seen as the great paradigm for all such visionary experiences and accounts. It is also connected to the קְדֻשָּׁה qedushah formula ('Holy, holy, holy is Y-H-W-H of hosts [יהוה צבאות Iod-Chavah Sabaoth], the whole earth is filled with His glory!') of Isaiah 6, because it is this refrain that most merkavah voyagers recount hearing the angels sing as they stand with them in the heavenly heights. ―Arthur Green, A Guide to the Zohar
The Merkavah or chariot of divinity is a profound symbol of mystical exaltation, experience, and inner development. Conceptualized as the height of spiritual attainment, it in fact epitomizes an important step within the process of initiatic advancement. Within the Gnostic tradition, the Merkavah is known as the solar bodies: divine vehicles for the expression and manifestation of divinity within the soul. Just as a warrior drives a chariot so as to wage difficult battles against his enemies, so too does divinity require a sufficient psycho-spiritual vehicle through which to accomplish a difficult internal work within the consciousness. The war that divinity wages on behalf of our psyche is against our own conditions, defects, vices, and errors, so that the perfected soul returns within the Merkavah towards the sacred heights of divine realization as described in Ezekiel and the ascension of the Prophet Enoch in Genesis.
The fifth and final element of this ancient legacy is the hardest to define, partly because it hangs on the thread of a slim body of text, but also because it contains elements that seem contradictory to one another. I refer to the speculative-magical tradition that reached medieval Jewry through the little book called ספר יצירה Sefer Yetsirah and various other small texts, mostly magical in content, that are associated with it. Sefer Yetsirah has been shown to be a very ancient work, close in spirit to aspects of Greek esotericism that flourished in the late Hellenistic era. While the practice associated with this school of thought is magical-theurgic, even including the attempt to make a גולם golem [an anthropomorphic being fashioned from inanimate or amorphous material, such as mud or clay, while imbibed with vitality and life] its chief text contains the most abstract worldview to be found within the legacy of ancient Judaism. By contemplating the core meaning of both numbers and letters, it reaches toward a notion of cosmic unity that underlies diversity, of an abstract deity that serves as a cosmic center, in whom (perhaps better: in which) all being is rooted. ―Arthur Green, A Guide to the Zohar
Sefer Yetsirah has an honored, distinguished, and paramount place not only within traditional Kabbalah, but also the Western Esoteric Tradition constituted by individuals such as Dion Fortune, Manly P. Hall, Gareth Knight, Edward Bulwer-Lytton, Eliphas Levi, Cyril Scott, Elizabeth Haich, and many others. It is unfortunate that academies have rejected the contributions of these authors due to materialism, skepticism, sectarianism and fanaticism, since it is precisely magical praxis, especially as described within the Sefer Yetsirah, that is the decisive groundwork through which to access the experiential dimension of the kabbalistic tradition.
However, both scholars and initiates agree that the Sefer Yetsirah is crucial within kabbalistic philosophy, practice, and thought:
According to Eliphas Levi, the three greatest books of Qabbalism are the Sepher Yetzirah, The Book of Formation; the Sepher ha Zohar, The Book of Splendor; and the Apocalypse, The Book of Revelation. The dates of the writing of these books are by no means thoroughly established. Qabbalists declare that the Sepher Yetzirah was written by Abraham. Although it is by far the oldest of the Qabbalistic books, it was probably from the pen of the Rabbi Akiba, A.D. 120. ―Manly P. Hall, The Secret Teachings of All Ages
While Kabbalah is an alchemy of narrative tradition, Jewish law, liturgical poetry, Merkavah mysticism, and magical ritual or theurgy, all of its constituents contribute to the evolving dimensionality of kabbalistic practice. To lack any of these elements is to sterilize, debauch, or contaminate the probity of this esoteric heritage.
Kabbalah must be seen as a dynamic mix of these five elements, with one or another sometimes dominating. It was especially the first and last elements―the aggadic-mythical element and the abstract-speculative-magical tradition―that seemed to vie for the leading role in forging the emerging kabbalistic way of thought. ―Arthur Green, A Guide to the Zohar
The Origins of the Zohar
The Zohar is irrefutably the most important and influential work of traditional Kabbalah available to humanity. Despite its crucial place within the history of kabbalistic and Jewish life, its origins, despite erudite speculations, hypotheses, and theories, remain a mystery to academics and scholars.
The Sepher ha Zohar presumably was written by Simeon ben Jochai, a disciple of Akiba. Rabbi Simeon was sentenced to death about A.D. 161 by Lucius Verus, co-regent of the Emperor Marc Aurelius Antoninus. He escaped with his son and, hiding in a cave, transcribed the manuscript of the Zohar with the assistance of Elias, who appeared to them at intervals. Simeon was twelve years in the cave, during which time he evolved the complicated symbolism of the "Greater Face" and the "Lesser Face." While discoursing with disciples Rabbi Simeon expired, and the "Lamp of Israel" was extinguished. His death and burial were accompanied by many supernatural phenomena. The legend goes on to relate that the secret doctrines of Qabbalism had been in existence since the beginning of the world, but that Rabbi Simeon was the first man permitted to reduce them to writing. Twelve hundred years later the books which he had compiled were discovered and published for the benefit of humanity by Moses de León. The probability is that Moses de León himself compiled the Zohar about A.D. 1305, drawing his material from the unwritten secrets of earlier Jewish mystics. ―Manly P. Hall, The Secret Teachings of All Ages
Regardless of its sources and inception, the Zohar consists of a tremendous body of doctrine whose genuine significance has eluded, mystified, and inspired scholars, rabbis, and students of initiation for centuries. Gnostic institutions seek to convey the penetrative, profound, and pragmatic mysticism of this scripture, since its practical basis has not been understood by modern intellectuals and others not initiated within its mysteries despite unparalleled pathos and conviction.
Interpretations of the Zohar
As diverse the body of the Zohar is, its interpretations and applications have varied in many ways throughout its reception to the Jewish and modern world.
...all Jewish mystics, from the Therapeutae, whose doctrine was described by Philo of Alexandria, to the latest Hasid, are at one in giving a mystical interpretation to the Torah [the first five books of Moses or Pentateuch: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy]; the Torah is to them a living organism animated by a secret life which streams and pulsates below the crust of its literal meaning; every one of the innumerable strata of this hidden region corresponds to a new and profound meaning of the Torah. The Torah, in other words, does not consist merely of chapters, phrases and words; rather is it to be regarded as the living incarnation of the divine wisdom which eternally sends out new rays of light. ―Gershom Scholem, Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism
Contrary to the firm and adamant beliefs of conventional, observant Jews, the Zohar often criticizes those who would mistake the form of the Bible for its inherent, transcendent, and transgressive meaning.
Rabbi Simeon says: "Woe to the man who says that the Torah came to relate stories, simply and plainly, and simpleton tales about Esau and Laban and the like. If it was so, even at the present day we could produce a Torah from simplistic matters, and perhaps even nicer ones than those. If the Torah came to exemplify worldly matters, even the rulers of the world have among them things that are superior. If so, let us follow them and produce from them a Torah in the same manner. It must be that all items in the Torah are of a superior nature and are uppermost secrets.
We are fortunate today to possess a body of knowledge, proliferated through our Gnostic institutions, that explain in a clear, systematic, and determined way, the structures and practical systems of applied Kabbalah. Without relying on dogmas, theories, or beliefs of any type, our Gnostic schools possess meditations and exercises to awaken consciousness and thereby experience the essential nature of religious phenomena. The ancient knowledge that was once veiled from public scrutiny is now available with utmost exactitude and transparency in the writings of Samael Aun Weor, a practical Kabbalist and initiate whose writings we disseminate and teach due to their clarity, profundity, and pragmatism. What distinguishes his copious body of writings is their intrepid, experiential, and uncompromising nature, without reliance on convoluted philosophical systems that lack the practical dimension for achieving deep and lasting internal change.
The basis of his writings is a discerning explication of what is commonly known as the Tree of Life.
The Tree of Life
It [the Tree of Life] is a glyph, that is to say a composite symbol, which is intended to represent the cosmos in its entirety and the soul of man as related thereto; and the more we study it, the more we see that it is an amazingly adequate representation; we use it as the engineer or the mathematician uses his sliding-rule, to scan and calculate the intricacies of existence, visible and invisible, in external nature or the hidden depth of the soul. ―Dion Fortune, The Mystical Qabalah
There are ten סְפִירוֹת sefiroth, "jewels" or "emanations" in Hebrew, indicating specific modalities of matter, energy, and consciousness. Each ספירה sefirah (singular) constitutes a distinct level of nature, the cosmos, and the individual human psyche, which emanate or proceed from an unknowable, divine abstraction, denominated as אין Ain, אין סוף Ain Soph, and אין סוף אוֹר Ain Soph Aur: the "Nothing," the "Limitless," and the "Limitless Light." This is the Genesiatic seed plot of universal potentiality, which flows as a pristine fountain into manifested, material existence through divine creativity.
Each sefirah receives the influx, flow, and expression of the sefiroth above. The heights of this diagram depict the most rarified, pure, subtle, and sacred realities of the divine nature, while the sefiroth below represent the condensation, involution or impregnation of spirit within matter of increasing densities, until finally arriving to this physical world and body, described as מלכות Malkuth: the Kingdom.
There is variety and range within kabbalistic interpretations of divine unfoldment, originally depicted as successive emanations outside of God’s unity. Yet according to the kabbalist Isaac Luria and his conception of צמצום Tzimtzum, this occurs within divinity’s own profound nature:
According to Luria, God was compelled to make room for the world by, as it were, abandoning a region within Himself, a kind of mystical primordial space from which He withdrew in order to return to it in the act of creation and revelation. The first act of En-Sof, the Infinite Being, is therefore not a step outside but a step inside, a movement of recoil, of falling back upon oneself, of withdrawing into oneself. Instead of emanation we have the opposite, contraction. The God who revealed himself in firm contours was superseded by one who descended deeper into the recesses of His own Being, who concentrated Himself into Himself, and had done so from the very beginning of creation. [...]
Lurianic Kabbalah gained widespread appeal not only within esoteric circles, but also conventional Judaism. His contributions rivaled and displaced Medieval Jewish philosophy and procured an influential position within mainstream Jewish life, metaphysics, and theology. Whether one approaches Kabbalah from the doctrinal point of צמצום Tzimtzum or previous kabbalists, all spiritual cosmogonies and cosmologies describe the process by which the soul or consciousness was exiled from the divine, and it is now the duty of the practical kabbalist and meditator to return in a progressive, initiatic manner, towards the origins and source of our divine potential.
The consensus of Kabbalistic opinion regards the mystical way to God as a reversal of the procession by which we have emanated from God. To know the stages of the creative process is also to know the stages of one’s own return to the root of all existence. In this sense, the interpretation of Maaseh Bereshith, the esoteric doctrine of creation, has always formed one of the main preoccupations of Kabbalism. It is here that Kabbalism comes nearest to Neoplatonic thought, of which it has been said with truth that 'procession and reversion together constitute a single movement, the diastole-systole, which is the life of the universe.' Precisely this is also the belief of the Kabbalist. ―Gershom Scholem, Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism
Kabbalah is vast due to its incorporation, elucidation, and exegeses of multiple systems of thought. Many schools and groups have their methods, interpretations, structures, and symbols for interpreting the Tree of Life, and our Gnostic institutions are no different. What differentiates Gnostic Kabbalah from other modes of thought is the eclectic, synthetic, and practical approach we use when studying and engaging with kabbalism.
One traditional method utilized by Abraham Abulafia is known as the Path of the Names. Each sefirah has a sacred name of divinity associated with it, representative of forces, potencies, and angelic hierarchies. Many kabbalists, including those within the Gnostic tradition, meditate upon the different sefiroth so as to experience their elemental nature.
Abulafia calls his method “The Path of the Names,” in contrast to the Kabbalists of his time, whose doctrine concerning the realization of the divine attributes it referred to as “The Path of the Sefiroth.” Only together the two paths form the whole of the Kabbalah, the Path of the Sefiroth the ‘rabbinical’ and that of the Names, the ‘prophetic’ Kabbalah. The student of Kabbalah is to begin with the contemplation of the ten Sefiroth. These, indeed, during meditation are to become objects of quickened imagination rather than objects of an external knowledge acquired by merely learning their names as attributes or even symbols of God. For in the Sefiroth, too, according to Abulafia, there are revealed the ‘profundities of the intellectus agens’, that cosmic power which for the mystic coincides with the splendor of the Shekhinah [the divine feminine that raises and elevates the chosen people of Israel back towards the truth]. Only from there is he to proceed to the twenty-two letters which represent a deeper stage of penetration. ―Gershom Scholem, Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism
Certain schools not only study the ten sefiroth, but the thirty-two paths that connect the sefiroth with each other upon the Tree of Life. These paths indicate principles or cosmic desiderata for entering the path of initiation: the return of the soul back to its origins through enacting conscious and voluntary works of compassion, integrity, and wisdom. One achieves this through understanding the variegated symbology, powers, and intuitive mathematics of the Hebrew language.
The Spiritual Power of Language, Symbols, and Mathematics
Language in its purest form, that is, Hebrew, according to the Kabbalists, reflects the fundamental spiritual nature of the world; in other words, it has a mystical value. Speech reaches God because it comes from God. Man’s common language, whose prima facie function, indeed, is only of an intellectual nature, reflects the creative language of God. All creation―and this is an important principle of most Kabbalists―is, from the point of view of God, nothing but an expression of His hidden self that begins and ends by giving itself a name, the holy name of God, the perpetual act of creation. All that lives is an expression of God’s language,―and what is it that Revelation can reveal in the last resort if not the name of God? ―Gershom Scholem, Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism
Hebrew is a mathematical language, since each letter represents a number, principality, literal and symbolic meaning, and divine law. Therefore, the study of Kabbalah is precisely the study of occult or intuitive mathematics: how numbers represent cosmic principles, entities, abstractions, philosophies, and natural laws.
In Kabbalah, everything is numbers and mathematics. The number is holy and infinite. In the universe everything is measurement and weight. For the Gnostics, God is a geometrist. Mathematics are sacred. No one was admitted into the school of Pythagoras if they were not knowledgeable about mathematics, music, etc. Numbers are sacred. ―Samael Aun Weor, Tarot and Kabbalah
Dion Fortune best explains the foundations of esoteric systems such as the Kabbalah, for in understanding its universal and mathematical symbolism, one possess Archimedes' lever: the fulcrum by which to lift the heavy weight of misconception and learned ignorance to discover the solid foundations of practical spirituality below.
All esoteric systems use a symbolic method of notation in their teachings. Each of the symbols employed indicates a spiritual potency, and the ideas associated with them indicate its method of function; their interrelation represents the interaction of these forces. If we have the key to one symbol-system we can readily equate it with all the others, for fundamentally they are the same. ―Dion Fortune, The Training and Work of an Initiate
As with every religion, the language within which their teachings were delivered bear figurative, innate, and sacerdotal power. Hebrew is one such expression of the sacred language and reflects in a pure way the divine abstractions of cosmic intelligence. This is why it is important, as practical kabbalists, that one have a firm understanding of the twenty-two Hebrew letters, for within them is the ultimate synthesis of the entire Jewish wisdom. If one does not know the symbology of the Hebrew alphabet, then one does not know Judaism at all.
These cosmic symbols are further represented by the letters of a sacred language, which, in the Western Tradition, is Hebrew. Out of these letters are formed the Sacred Names and Words of Power, which are simply algebraical formulas resuming potencies. Thus is the universe represented to the initiate, and he is able to trace the correlation between its parts and see what invisible realities are throwing their shadows upon the world of Maya, illusion. ―Dion Fortune, The Training and Work of an Initiate
While kabbalah can appear intimidating, over-complicated, and difficult to learn, what is important is the laws, potencies, and realities related with each of the twenty-two Hebrew letters. It is not necessary to be fluent in speaking or writing Hebrew to benefit and master the Kabbalah: the yoga of the West, for in practical works of theurgy and divine invocation, one must utilize the original names of God in order to call upon and receive aid.
It is not required of those who would use the Qabalah as their Yoga that they should acquire any extensive knowledge of the Hebrew language; all they need is to be able to read and write the Hebrew characters. The modern Qabalah has been pretty thoroughly naturalized in the English language, but it retains, and must ever retain, all its Words of Power in Hebrew, which is the sacred language of the West just as Sanskrit is the sacred language of the East. There are those who have objected to the free employment of Sanskrit terms in occult literature, and no doubt they will object even more strongly to the employment of Hebrew characters, but their use is unavoidable, for every letter in Hebrew is also a number, and the numbers to which words add up are not only an important clue to their significance, but can also be used to express the relationships existing between different ideas and potencies. ―Dion Fortune, The Mystical Qabalah
Names bear relational and positional power. The Bible often relates in its languages, Hebrew and Greek, differing names of divinity, which unfortunately have been translated or castrated through the masculine singular "God." This does not accurately reflect the integrity and nuances of original, since such a mistranslation strips the Scriptures of all practical power. What often goes unrecognized is how each divine name reflects different aspects and expressions of the Tree of Life that allow for works of high magic and profound meditation.
Gematria, Notarikon, and Temurah
Part of numerological mysticism and sacred names of God are reflected within the art of Gematria, Notarikon, and Temurah, which have been utilized especially within the Western Esoteric Tradition and the writings of Abraham Abulafia's prophetic kabbalism:
...in the literature of the Hasidism, prominence is given for the first time to certain techniques of mystical speculation which are popularly supposed to represent the heart and core of Kabbalism, such as Gematria, i.e. the calculation of the numerical value of Hebrew words and the search for connections with other words or phrases of equal value; Notarikon, or interpretation of the letters of a word as abbreviations of whole sentences; and Temurah, or interchange of letters according to certain systematic rules. ―Gershom Scholem, Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism
Learning to combine letters, words, and names is a pivotal element to Zoharic commentary and the Sefer Yetsirah, for entirely new meanings are interpolated within seemingly innocuous text, which in term bear numerological and therefore intuitive significance:
This science [of mystical combination] is an instrument which leads nearer to prophecy than any other discipline of learning. A man who gains his understanding of the essentials of reality from books is called Hakham, a scholar. If he obtains it from the Kabbalah, that is to say from one who has himself obtained it from the contemplation of the divine names or from another Kabbalist, then he is called Mevin, that is, one who has insight, but if his understanding is derived from his own heart, from reflecting upon what he knows of reality, then he is called Daatan, that is, a gnostic. He whose understanding is such as to combine all three, to wit, scholarly erudition, insight obtained from a genuine Kabbalist, and wisdom from reflecting deeply upon things, of him I am not indeed going to say that he deserves to be called a prophet, especially if he has not yet been touched by the pure intellect, or if touched [that is to say, in ecstasy] does not yet know by whom. ―Abraham Abulafia, The Knowledge of the Messiah and the Meaning of the Redeemer
Practical Mysticism and Spirituality
Regardless of how extensive the kabbalistic writings and traditions are, what is most important is that intellectual study is balanced through practical works of meditation and comprehension.
Kabbalistic studies must be combined with work on oneself. One must be conscious of these studies, for it they remain only in the intellect they will be lost when one dies. Yet, if one is conscious of them, the knowledge will manifest itself from childhood. ―Samael Aun Weor
The Gnostic institutions from the tradition of Samael Aun Weor provide instructions on meditation, which necessitate, in its preliminary stages, the cultivation of internal silence, serenity, and concentration, so as to extract understanding and perception of any given phenomena or information.
The esotericist, when endeavoring to formulate his philosophy for communication to others, is confronted by the fact that his knowledge of the higher forms of existence is obtained by a process other than thought; and this process only commences when thought is left behind. ―Dion Fortune, The Mystical Qabalah
Kabbalah is also the basis of the Christian faith. Jesus of Nazareth, the Master Aberamentho or Patriarch of the Gnostic Church, was an enlightened rabbi who spoke and communicated through Kabbalah. Without an understanding of Kabbalah, one remains ignorant of the true purpose, direction, and esoteric systems of Christianity.
The Qabalistic cosmology is the Christian Gnosis. Without it we have an incomplete system in our religion, and it is this incomplete system which has been the weakness of Christianity. ―Dion Fortune, The Mystical Qabalah
Intellectual and Intuitive Kabbalah
Kabbalah is learned in two ways that both contradict and complement each other: intellectually and intuitively.
Intellectual Kabbalah is knowledge from instruction, lectures, teachings, books, and scriptures.
Intuitive Kabbalah is what a person experiences directly from the hands of divinity as a result of internal meditation.
Both an intellectual and experiential knowledge of Kabbalah are necessary. One without the other leads to confusion, fanaticism, and ignorance.
There are two kinds of Kabbalists: intellectual Kabbalists and intuitive Kabbalists. The intellectual Kabbalists are black magicians. The intuitive Kabbalists are white magicians.
Many people know Kabbalah from the intellect, yet their behavior demonstrates that they do not enact or live the ethical conduct of positive initiation or white magic: the service of the mind towards the Innermost Spirit (God within) and humanity. Instead, what many of them do is fulfill the precepts of negative initiation or black magic: the fortification of conditioning, mind, desires, egotism, lust, selfishness, pride, anger, etc., for the overall corruption of humanity.
The intellect is a tool that is useful when placed under the service of the Spirit. But when the intellect seeks to control the Spirit, the intellect becomes destructive. Therefore, the intuitive Kabbalist is the one who learns through the experience of the consciousness. The intuitive Kabbalist learns directly, without opinions or theories. This one seeks a radical intellectual culture: a comprehensive knowledge of esotericism that is qualified by direct investigation.
Kabbalah is a map of consciousness. Can one travel to another country without knowing the language and map of that place? Isn't it true that one can be easily manipulated, hurt, or misled without knowing the language, idiosyncrasies, and customs of a foreign culture?
Kabbalah is the symbolic language of divinity. If we do not even grasp an intellectual understanding of the signposts, then we will not know how to read the inner guidance of our own divinity.
Simply studying the map does not indicate that we have traveled. This is intellectual kabbalah. Most of humanity who engages in Kabbalah does so exclusively from the intellect, because they never consciously experience the principles contained in their studies.
Both knowledge of the map combined with actual travel signifies that one is practically working in initiation.
The objective of studying the Kabbalah is to be skilled for work in the internal worlds... One who does not comprehend remains confused in the internal worlds. Kabbalah is the basis in order to understand the language of these worlds. ―Samael Aun Weor, Tarot and Kabbalah
We invite you to study and experience this life-changing knowledge, which is the mirror and reflection of your complete human and divine potential.
The Gnostic Academy of Chicago
Gnostic articles on practical spirituality: the science, mysticism, art, and philosophy of conscious living.