Humanity is in an unprecedented era of change. Through the COVID-19 pandemic, citizens from every walk of life are forced to confront the terrible reality of their existence and the constitution of their moral caliber. Through the reduction and constraints of their regular commitments, individuals are compelled, under threat of possible infection, to examine the quality, foundations, and substance of their life. One's unconscious assumptions of "how things should be" in times of crisis belie a deeper, consummate reality and concern: whether or not a life of ignorance and adherence to the desiderata of life's banality is better than questioning the genuine causes and perpetrators of affliction. Contrary to biased logic of mass hysteria, people from every religious or secular tradition, under quarantine, are given a wonderful opportunity to evaluate and elevate their particular level of being.
Throughout many spiritual traditions, retreat has been practiced to establish, deepen, and maintain the greatest meditative disciplines and the actualization of divine experience. Disciples of every religion would take time in seclusion, ignoring the influence of mundane obligations, anxieties, stress, and worries, to focus on the more important matter of awakening and developing the soul. Free from worldly conditions, engagements, and pursuits, meditators introspect within the depths of their own consciousness in order to contemplate the source of sorrow and discover its remedy: profound comprehension and elimination of psychological defects, including the driver of all social hierarchies, institutions, and economies: fear.
Negative emotions have infected the entire globe as COVID-19 rapidly spreads. Fear, despair, and pessimism, rather than infect the body, are true diseases that infect the heart and mind. Anger, terror, and morbidity are far more contagious and dangerous than any virus, since negative emotions incapacitate the ability to reason, analyze, and solve problems, obscuring the discovery of relevant, practical solutions. Fear pushes countries to war, since they mistakenly believe that security and comfort comes through invasions, colonialism, and violence. This is why Samael Aun Weor, the founder of the modern Gnostic Tradition, stated:
"Everyone is being dragged down by negative emotions, and this is very grave. There is nothing more harmful for profound internal development than negative emotions... Everyone is being shaken up by negative emotions and nothing could be more contagious than these emotions...
"A negative person can infect other negative people, and if this person dictates a lecture, then he infects thousands of people. They are more dangerous, thousand of times more dangerous, than viruses and bacteria...
"If a person goes everywhere from instant to instant with negative emotions, this person infects the whole world." ―Samael Aun Weor, Alcyone and Negative Emotions
This is why the most venerated spiritual traditions have always emphasized and practiced meditation retreats: to confront in oneself the possibilities and motives of conflict, egotism, and misery. By separating from the world, meditators learn to perceive the psychological causes that engender painful circumstances and therefore remove them with intelligence and understanding.
While every religion has a contemplative tradition, Sufism offers valuable wisdom and particular insightful regarding the parameters of meditation retreat.
Traditionally, Sufi masters would diagnose the needs of their disciples and determine whether they would benefit from entering retreat, due to the level of rigor, skill, and quality of internal work expected from them. This strict and conservative stipulation is a marked characteristic of the Piscean influence, since a codified adherence to a physical master was needed at the time, not only to determine the inner remedies for a student's deficiencies in temperament and character, but to qualify the spiritual worth of the candidate for the most elevated mystical knowledge.
Since the 1960's, our world has operated under the Aquarian influence, an Era defined by the dissemination and free exchange of mystical knowledge that was once forbidden and inaccessible to the public, but reserved for an elite through a secretive oral tradition between master and disciple. The secret teachings of all ages are now available, for the first time, to the public, because humanity no longer has time to abandon the world and study under the tutelage of a master for many decades. This is due to the impending cataclysms and calamities that mark the end and beginning of new cosmic ages.
In the Piscean Era, the master was found in a physical institution. In the Aquarian Era, the master is found within the internal worlds: the mysterious Tree of Life accessible only to practical meditators and internal experience.
Piscean knowledge demands obedience. Aquarian wisdom embodies independence.
What is old clings to life, and what is new cries for the death of the antiquated.
Due to quarantine, individuals are free to enter into spiritual retreat for the sake of their spirituality and the edification of their hearts without outward restrictions, impositions, or Piscean dogma.
The Principles of Retreat
Meditation retreat is a means of internal purification of conditioned states of mind and has been recommended, practiced, and upheld by the prophets of all great religious traditions:
"Khalwah, retreat, belongs to the purified, while uzlah, withdrawal from the world, marks the people of union. The seeker needs to withdraw from his own kind in the beginning stages. Then, in the last stages, he needs to retreat in order to confirm himself in intimacy with God." ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
Khalwah, meditation retreat, can be practiced in the solitude of one's own home. At the end of this article you will find recommendations for how to initiate and maintain a tentative meditation retreat schedule alongside different activities you can select from in accordance with your needs.
Withdrawal from the world is not only a form of self-reflection for masters of meditation, but a psychological state of detachment from mundane afflictions. Meditation becomes a means by which to achieve intimacy with divinity through mystical experiences and awakened consciousness during meditation and the normal hours of sleep.
Intentions for Retreat
Contrary to popular belief, meditators do not enter retreat to avoid the negativities of the world, but to protect humanity from their own negative, egotistical psychological states.
"If the servant chooses to withdraw, his intention must be to separate himself from people so that they will be safe from his evil—he must not be looking to protect himself from their evil. For the first of these attitudes come from thinking little of one’s own ego, while the second comes from making oneself out to be better than other people. A person who thinks little of himself is humble, while a person who sees himself as better than anybody else is arrogant." ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
These are essential principles to consider. Given the realities of quarantine, students have the wonderful opportunity to work on their own defects so that, once external circumstances change, the disciple is psychologically prepared to face whatever hardships, extremities, or novelties emerge in relation to the global pandemic.
Rules of Retreat
"One of the rules of withdrawal is that whoever goes into seclusion must acquire the knowledge that makes his commitment to unity (tawhid) firm, so that satan (the "me, myself, and I," the animal ego) cannot seduce him through the (conditioned or negative) imagination (fantasy or delusional perceptions). Then he should acquire enough knowledge of the divine law (ethical conduct) that he is able to fulfill his religious duties so that his undertaking maybe built on definite and sure foundations." ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
Retreats are based upon one's commitment to unity, which, as a prominent theological point within Islam, has nuanced implications within the esoteric interpretations of Sufism.
Divinity is a perfect unity, a defined quality of Being, yet due to our own multiplicity of defects, vices, and errors―the pluralistic ego which traps the full potentiality of our consciousness―we are fractured beings lacking integration. To know the unity of divinity, the perfected states of the Being, requires that we integrate the consciousness through fulfilling divine law: the ethical discipline of internal meditation.
The consciousness, heart, or soul can serve as a mirror to reflect divine realities, yet it must be polished daily through the ethical conduct of self-observation, self-remembrance, meditation, runes, sacred rites of rejuvenation, mantras, prayers, alchemy, and through many other esoteric exercises within the Gnostic Tradition of Samael Aun Weor.
Through fulfilling the laws of requisites of religion, the consciousness that was trapped within the ego can be liberated and integrated, producing illumination or enlightenment.
"There is an organ in the body that, if it is righteous, ensures that the whole system will be righteous; and if it is corrupt, the whole body will become corrupt. This organ is the heart. There is a polish for everything that takes away rust; and the polish for the heart is dhikr, the remembrance of Allah." ―Prophet Muhammad, Hadith
A Recommended Schedule for Spiritual Retreat
The following is a meditation retreat schedule you can follow and adapt in accordance with your needs:
Recommended Sources for Meditation and Spiritual Practices
Alchemy Techniques for Married Couples
Dream Yoga Exercises
Mantras and Prayers for Protection
Pranayama for Single Practitioners
Sacred Rites of Rejuvenation
Many new gnostic students often write to us that they are overwhelmed by the breadth, depth, and profundity of the writings of Samael Aun Weor. There are simply so many spiritual exercises available that it becomes difficult to discern not just how to practice, but what, specifically in the context of a given day.
Gnosis is a path of balance. It is also personal, unique, and individual. While there are hundreds of techniques in our tradition, all of them establish and maintain serenity, awareness, and psychological equilibrium in accordance with students' idiosyncrasies. It would be impossible to apply all of the techniques in one's daily schedule, yet we can synthesize these practices into three categories, so that identifying and cultivating our own spiritual discipline becomes easier.
These three areas relate to three aspects of our basic psychological makeup:
Practicing Gnosis effectively depends upon a strong understanding of how our three brains (five centers) function: intellect, emotions, and action.
Gnosis provides numerous exercises to aid in balancing these three brains or centers of our human machine.
While most students are already familiar with studying gnosis intellectually, there are some helpful principles to consider when approaching a book, lecture, text, or initiatic work, so as to maximize one's leisure time for studying the doctrine.
Learning gnosis is not about memorization, but comprehension. Having the capacity to recite, word-for-word, the lines of any scripture, does not indicate that the student has deeply understood the practical importance of such verses.
"It is necessary to study much and acquire knowledge, but it is also urgent to develop the spiritual Being within us.
"Knowledge without having the spiritual Being harmoniously well developed within us becomes the cause of that which is called “swindling.” Whereas, having the Being well developed within us, but without any type of intellectual knowledge, is the origin of stupid saints.
"A stupid saint has his spiritual Being very well developed, however, since he does not have intellectual knowledge, he cannot do anything because he does not know how. Yes, a stupid saint has the power of doing, but he cannot do because he does not know how.
"Intellectual knowledge without the spiritual Being very well developed produces intellectual confusion, perversity, pride, etc." ―Samael Aun Weor, Fundamentals of Gnostic Education: "Wisdom and Love"
Knowledge is of the intellect. While necessary in order to live in this physical world, knowledge by itself, divorced from practice and experience, is not only useless, but harmful. We can know many particulars of esoteric knowledge: astral projections, out of body experiences, jinn travels, awakened perceptions within the dream state, telepathy, the Tree of Life, Kabbalah, Alchemy, etc., and yet have no practical experience of these subjects for ourselves.
When knowledge overrides being, students and even so-called missionaries of this movement become "swindlers," possessing vast amounts of intellectual data, but no conscious development. Students often become swindled when their teachers, who profess such experiential wisdom, have no practical understanding of it for themselves, and therefore cannot offer any real guidance to orient their suffering disciples.
Comprehension is much different. It is conscious experience of the awakened soul, the Essence. Comprehension is when we know, directly, the significance of a particular passage or symbol. This relates to the profound functionalism of the heart center, the emotional brain.
Students who have a lot of experiences, but have no intellectual knowledge of the scriptures and teachings, easily get confused, and become, what Samael Aun Weor denominated, "stupid saints." Therefore, both knowledge and being are both important. What matters is that we balance the two in order to spark the fires of comprehension.
When we die, memory will not carry over from the grave into a new existence, in accordance with the doctrine of cosmic transmigration. If we wish to never forget what we study, we must experience it, since such knowledge then transforms into experiential wisdom of the superlative, awakened consciousness.
Balancing Intellectual Study
The question then becomes: "How do I study Gnosis? How do I take what I learn, intellectually, and make it conscious, so that, upon dying, I do not forget what I've read?"
Samael Aun Weor answered this beautifully in The Revolution of the Dialectic:
With the practice, the experience or the direct living of any of the works that I have delivered to humanity, the practitioner will obviously achieve psychological emancipation.
When you meditate, take a verse from your reading and concentrate upon it. Ask your Innermost, your Divine Mother Kundalini, to help you comprehend the deep significance of this verse or passage.
You can recite the verse mentally if that helps you to concentrate in the beginning. You can also visualize the contents of the passage in your imagination.
Pray deeply to your internal God. To pray is to talk with divinity. You do not need formulas to speak with your physical parents, neither for your divine parents. Ask from the center of your heart about the meaning of the scripture or verse you are studying.
After asking your question, empty your mind. Clear your intellectual center and enter profound concentration. Do not let your mind wander or think of other things.
You might experience a chain of associative thinking, where the intellect tries to answer the question for you. Do not go along with it. Merely watch, vigilant in spiritual warfare, over the clouds of memories, anxieties, concepts, and thoughts that pass within the screen of your attention.
If your mind thinks of these things, do not repress them. Do not justify them either. Instead, be alert, vigilant, and watchful. See them as something separate from you, since you, as a consciousness, an Essence, is free and perceptive, examining and looking at the contents of the mind.
If you persist with this exercise, if you do not forget what you are doing, and while provoking a state of drowsiness and slumber with alert cognition, you will suddenly experience flashes of insight. This is known as imaginative knowledge. This can emerge as scenes, living dramas, internal experiences, whereby you are both a spectator and participant. You may perceive new symbols that inspire your consciousness, which is the arena of inspired knowledge. When you deeply comprehend the significance of such visions, you have successfully entered into the field of intuitive knowledge.
These three forms of knowledge are the three obligatory steps to initiation. To learn more about this process, you can study the following lecture from our Gnostic Meditation Course: Imagination, Inspiration, Intuition.
Meditation: Developing Comprehension and the Emotional Brain
Meditation is not only useful for comprehending scriptures, but for understanding our own psychology.
The most important aspect of meditation for achieving psychological change is comprehension and death of the ego.
Without the elimination of desire, the pluralized ego, the "I" on a daily basis, we will not be able to effectively awaken our consciousness or experience the internal realities of the higher dimensions through dream yoga.
When defects like avarice, laziness, lust, pride, anger, envy, and gluttony are annihilated, we develop their corresponding virtues: altruism, diligence, chastity, humility, conscious love, philanthropy, and temperance.
Contrary to popular belief among certain gnostic groups, meditation on the death of the ego is the most important practice we can engage with, not alchemy. Alchemy is important for entering the higher degrees of the spiritual path, yet without a practical foundation in comprehending and dying to the ego, then no amount of alchemical work will avail us.
Samael Aun Weor wrote of these dangers quite often, that a person who practices alchemy but does not die to the self transforms him or herself into a hasnamuss (an abortion of the Cosmic Mother) with a double center of gravity.
Therefore, you should learn to practice psychoanalytical meditation (retrospection meditation on the death of desire) as the most essential component of your discipline.
However, to learn retrospective meditation, the student needs to develop serenity (concentration) first. Below are some valuable resources for how to begin approaching the technique of psychoanalytical meditation:
Energy Work and Selfless Service
While meditation is important, it is impossible to access deeper states of serenity, consciousness, and awakening without the use of creative energy.
This is a fundamental aspect of the gnostic teachings that is not found in mainstream spiritual writings. Without knowing how to properly transform and direct creative force, primarily the sexual energy, then the consciousness or soul will have no fuel to have spiritual experience.
Just as light cannot emerge without proper circuitry, or a lamp without well-sustained oil, the spiritual student cannot positively awaken the light of their consciousness without the assistance of transmutation.
Our tradition has innumerable exercises for transforming and transmuting the seminal matter, or elevating the sexual force. Transmutation means "to carry over through mutation," to "transform" the substance of the semen into energy.
As an essential point, students who have not dedicated themselves to conserving and transmuting their sexual energy daily cannot achieve any progress. The vast majority of students' complaints, that they cannot meditate or experience divinity, is due to a lack of chastity (sexual purity, not to be confused with sexual abstention).
Not only must we save energy, but we must consciously direct it. We do so through selfless service, finding ways to help humanity with our unique skills, talents, and dispositions.
When we learn how to support and benefit the spirituality of others, we accelerate and catalyze our own spiritual development.
Learn ways to serve humanity!
Exercises for Awakening Spiritual Energy
The following resources will also teach you how to work with the creative energy. The two most essential are pranayama (for singles) and alchemy (for married couples).
However, we have included many other exercises to help you, which you can pick and choose in accordance with your needs. Select what works best for you in your situation.
Pranayama for Single Practitioners
Alchemy Techniques for Married Couples
Mantras and Prayers for Protection
Spiritual Rituals for Strength and Healing
Sacred Rites of Rejuvenation
Yet remember that to find balance in your own work, you will need a combination of all three aspects:
In synthesis, these constitute three factors for the revolution of the consciousness.
Saturday, June 13, 2020 is a very special day within the gnostic tradition. This is the only day in the year where the 13th falls on a Saturday, indicating to us through practical astrology the manifestation of powerful planetary influences. Therefore, at the 13th hour (1 o'clock in the afternoon) on these dates, our planet earth will vibrate with powerful cosmic forces as a result of the Genii Melchizedek, who, according to Samael Aun Weor, is the angelic intelligence that governs our planet earth.
This enigmatic figure or spiritual king taught Abraham the rite of transubstantiation (the Gnostic Unction or Eucharist) after great battles against the Sodomites and Gomorrites. It is stated in the Bible (Genesis 14) that he was the King of שָׁלֵם Salem, which is highly symbolic, since this word shares etymological correspondence to the Hebrew word for "peace": שָׁלוֹם Shalom, and Shelamut שְׁלֵמוּת "perfection." Those who know Kabbalah will not be surprised that these words relate with שְׁלֹמֹה Sholomah or Solomon, who is an archetype of the perfected human being made into the image of God.
"And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine: and he was [is] the priest of the most high God. And he blessed him, and said, "Blessed be Abram to the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth, And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand." And he gave him tithe from all." —Genesis 14:18-20
Melchizedek's blessing of Abraham symbolizes how our inner divinity, represented by Abram or Abraham, is given honors from the god of the earth as a result of the initiatic process within each one of us. מַלְכִּי־צֶדֶק Melchizedek is literally "King" (מֶ֖לֶךְ Melech) of divine "Justice" (צדק Tzadik) on our planet earth. Therefore, it is important to work with this intelligence in order to become a righteous one (צדיק Tzaddik), known in other words as: an "initiate."
Those who attain genuine initiation through this spiritual and psychological work do so in accordance with the order of Melchizedek. He is the divine planetary intelligence of the earth who grants entryway to the heights of spiritual realization for our humanity. Since he is the life and strength of this planet, we seek to become "Kings" and "Queens" of nature through his beneficence and help, just as all the "righteous ones" (Tzaddikim) צדיקים have done before (including Abraham, Moses, Jonah, Job, Elijah, and all the prophets).
Melchizedek's hierarchy is mentioned and alluded to by Master Morya:
"The story of Moses and his master, Melchizedek, is related in the Koran. It should be read by every searcher of Truth and every occult student, for it teaches that the Kingdom of Heaven can only be taken by energy." ―M., The Lord God of Truth Within
The Qur'an, the esoteric book of the Muslims, depicts Melchizedek as the mysterious companion of Moses. Amongst the Sufis, Melchizedek is known as Khidr, the "servant of Allah," whose transcendental wisdom surpasses that of many great prophets, since those who enter initiation on our earth do so through the commands of this great master.
"And [Moses] found a servant [Khidr] from among Our servants to whom we had given mercy from us and had taught him from Us a certain knowledge [marifah in Arabic, gnosis in Greek, da'ath in Hebrew, experiential knowledge from the awakened consciousness].
"Moses said to him, 'May I follow you on the condition that you teach me from what you have been taught of sound judgement?'
"He [Khidr, Melchizedek] said, 'Indeed, with me you will never be able to have patience [because his level of being is superior and more radical, revolutionary]. And how can you have patience for what you do not encompass in knowledge?'" ―Surah Al-Kahf, "The Cave," verses 65-68
It is interesting that the Qur'anic story of Melchizedek is in Surah Al-Kahf, "The Cave," since Melchizedek's temple resides, within the superior dimensions of nature, in the caves or heart of the earth.
Melchizedek is also referenced by Jesus within The Gnostic Bible: The Pistis Sophia:
"Jesus, — that is Aberamentho, — said: “Since indeed the father of my father, — that is Yew,— is the foreminder of all the rulers, Gods and powers who have arisen out of the matter of the Light of the Treasury, and Zorokothora Melchisedec is the envoy to all the lights which are purified in the rulers, leading them into the Treasury of the Light, — these two alone are the great Lights, and their ordinance is that they down go to the rulers and purify them, and that Zorokothora Melchisedec carrieth away the purification of the lights which they have purified in the rulers and leadeth them into the Treasury of the Light, — when the cipher and the time of their ordinance cometh, that they go down to the rulers and oppress and constrain them, carrying away the purification from the rulers." ―The Pistis Sophia
The number 13, in accordance with The Eternal Tarot of Alchemy and Kabbalah, signifies death, purification, and the elimination of defects that obstruct the light of divinity within the consciousness. Therefore, the planetary intelligence Melchizedek can aid the practitioner on any Saturday the 13th at 1 PM, the thirteenth hour, to give inner strength and assistance in the elimination of one's internal faults and impurities. Through eliminating our psychological defects, we can in turn generate light, thereby entering the superior worlds with serenity, happiness, contentment. This is the meaning of Melchizedek "carrying away the purification of the lights" to lead the soul "into the Treasury of the Light," the heavenly realms.
A Gnostic Instructor explained, in a lecture entitled A New Heaven and Earth, a special practice for this date:
"The practice to ask for help from Melchisedec is quite simple. It is performed on any Saturday the thirteenth, at the thirteenth hour (one o’clock). Lie face down (on your stomach or solar plexus). You will pray and meditate for one hour, so adopt a posture that will allow you to be fully relaxed for that time. You can use a pillows or cushion as needed. You can rest your head on your hands or arms. Some students prefer to adopt the shape of a star with arms and legs out. As Samael Aun Weor emphasized, the main feature of our posture is that we should be deeply relaxed, capable of totally forgetting about the physical body. If you are distracted by your posture, you will not be able to concentrate effectively.
"Close your eyes and pray to your inner Being, asking to go to the temple of Melchisedec for help. Visualize this happening. The temple is in the center of the Earth. Relax, pray, concentrate, and visualize this process. Imagine talking to him. Generally, students sustain this prayer for the entire hour, meditating throughout.
"Call upon the help of Melchisedec to learn about yourself. Do not call upon Melchisedec and ask him to help you get a new car, or to get a new house, because people do that, and that is not the point of the practice. The point of the practice is to get help from Melchisedec to learn about your own Earth (your self) and to learn about your relationship to his Earth, this planet, and to change. My personal recommendation is to ask for help with your ego and your karma, since they are the root of suffering.
"Most importantly, one must have faith and sincere longing for inner change."
May the Lord God of Truth within bring you harmony, peace and understanding!
―The Gnostic Academy of Chicago
Meditation is a means of acquiring information about ourselves, why we suffer, and what we can do to transform our suffering into wisdom and happiness.
It is also a technique for accessing personal knowledge of the divine and receiving insight on how to live with greater rectitude and love.
Meditation is a means of awakening and expanding consciousness beyond conditions and limitations of the physical senses.
Since consciousness is the ability to perceive, meditation is a deepening of that perception, a means of perceiving facts on a psychological and spiritual level.
Meditation is the natural state of the unconditioned, liberated consciousness. Therefore, the practice of meditation is a method of stripping away conditioning, illusions, and misperceptions. It is a means of gathering information about who we are. It is not "spacing out," nor is it solely focused on having ecstatic mystical "experiences."
Meditation is also not produced through artificial means, technology, machines, or drugs, since chemicals and psychedelic substances further condition the mind and psyche. Meditation is a state of being free of conditioning; therefore it is unnecessary to take substances or use technology in order to produce the natural state of awakened perception.
In order to perceive in its natural state, the consciousness must be purified of its conditions through practice and the application of conscious attention.
By removing the conditions of the psyche that make us suffer: anger, pride, fear, resentment, anxiety, desire, envy, etc., we can in turn see past illusions in order to access the essential nature of the consciousness: a profound state of happiness and contentment.
The meditator also possesses subtle energies in the mind, heart, and body that can be harnessed for meditative discipline. This is well explained in certain schools of Yoga and Buddhism.
Since we have everything we need within ourselves in order to strip away what is unnecessary within our consciousness, learning to return to the natural state of perception is only a matter of individual training.
As a practical technique and way of life, meditation is a method of gaining comprehension and guidance in relation to problems, difficulties, and challenges in life that seem impossible to resolve.
By gaining direct knowledge about the causes of our most intimate problems, we can then arrive at peace, serenity, and insight.
This personal, self-knowledge has been called gnosis in Greek. Gnosis is beyond belief, theory, scholasticism, argumentation, debate, concepts, etc. It is in fact the direct apprehension of truths through our very capacity to perceive.
In meditation, we rely on facts and evidence to support our understanding of the truths contained and taught within different traditions.
Here, we do not speculate. We know. For as the founder of the modern Gnostic tradition, Samael Aun Weor, stated:
"Gnosis is lived upon facts, withers away in abstractions, and is difficult to find even in the noblest of thoughts." -The Revolution of the Dialectic
Interested in learning how to meditate? Attend a class!
Want to listen to lectures about meditation? See the resources below:
The Gnostic Academy of Chicago
Free articles, lecture transcriptions, scriptures, commentary and courses on gnosticism.