Spiritual retreat holds a very special place within every single tradition of meditation, whether in Sufism through the lodges, khanqah or khaniqahs, monasteries within the Christian tradition, the temples of the Jews, the Buddhists, the Hindus. Meditation retreat signifies the abandonment of the world, to dedicate more time, more effort, more energy, more seriousness, more study, to the spiritual path that leads to the liberation of the soul.
Retreats are a wonderful reprieve. They allow us to abandon the hustle and bustle, the chaos of our modern society, the world. While this was true, even in the times of the prophets, it is even more pertinent today in our modern world through the advent of the internet, smartphones, social media, Facebook, exponentially improving technology. This is made life in the West (and it is now spreading into the East) even more accelerated, hyperactive―we could say―distracted from, really, the point of life, the purpose of existence.
In our world, we believe that our bank account, our job, our career, our television shows, our entertainment, our media, constitute the reality of who we are and what is of value. Obviously, if we are studying meditation and spirituality, we understand that this type of lifestyle has flaws. In essence, it is superficial. There is not much depth in a life of games, of sitcoms, of jobs that do not really fulfill our deepest sentiments, our greatest uneasiness and longing. Because people do not like to introspect, to be serious, to analyze the causes of suffering inside, people look to the external world for their panacea, their healing, their drug.
In the history of humanity, it is never been more difficult to really develop a spiritual life than today, because there has been a fundamental shift in the psychology, the pace, the momentum of modern living. Gnosis or Sufism, Buddhism, Judaism, the meditative traditions, the contemplative sciences, teach us that we need to slow down. Our life is hectic. We have many responsibilities and duties, obligations in life, and we are constantly running around pulled in so many directions that, really, it is very difficult to get a hold of and a grasp on our existence, with the Essence, with the consciousness, which knows how to live life intensely, with rectitude and with love for humanity.
The Essence is the most beautiful part of us that can really blossom into a profound, deep, penetrative wisdom. Our Essence knows how to live fully without distraction, to be aware, to be attentive. But as we mentioned in the previous lecture, to do that we have to renounce a lot of superfluous activities, things that over engage and distract the mind.
Our culture is very much hypnotizing, seductive, manipulative. It is based upon drawing and stealing our energy into avenues that really are a dead end. This is why every spiritual tradition emphasizes so much the need for retreat, to leave behind all the temptations, all the seductions, all the illusions of society, the world, even if but for a very brief time. This is so that we can really dedicate our efforts to really create the soul, enliven it, to empower it.
While it is been very difficult to practice retreat due to this pandemic, we can, if so willing, fulfill our own meditation retreat in our home. It really does not involve much. We are going to provide you some parameters, some guidelines, and some suggestions that can help you if you are able and willing to perform retreat, and hopefully if this pandemic clears, sooner rather than later, we would love to have another retreat as provided on our websites, so that we can really cultivate spiritual force in our efforts and practices, to awaken the consciousness. But of course, if this is not possible, we still have the exercises and the teachings.
We can gain a lot of inspiration, a lot of profound changes by applying the principles of meditation and of retreat, and so we are going to outline what some of those are according to the Sufi tradition, the Gnostic traditions.
The Purpose of Retreat
Why emphasize retreat in this course? It is because life wants to swallow us alive. We have obligations. We have duties, responsibilities, work events, family gatherings, engagements that really lull us to sleep, which, while a necessary part of living in society, tend to put us on autopilot. They also prevent us from really deepening our awareness of the present, our quest of the consciousness to reach the divine.
It is important that we really feed that spark of inquietude in the heart, that dissatisfaction, that uneasiness we feel in our moment-to-moment life in relation to a problem, in relation to our trajectory―perhaps a career change, our existence, our family, our marriage. We feel a hunch in our core being that something must change. This is really the essence of why we begin meditation and spirituality.
It is also the reason why we enter retreat, because we need to comprehend something more. It is the intuitions of the soul, the language of divinity, the intimate silence of our inner God. We receive that impulse through our heart, through hunches, and because that is usually very weakened in us, or better said, we feel that flame in the heart and yet we have so many distractions outside of us, that candle flame tends to get snuffed out. But again, and again, if we are really persistent in this path, we find that we continue to feel that inquietude, that yearning for something more. This is why Samael Aun Weor stated in The Great Rebellion in the chapter called “Inquietudes”:
Trivialities and nonsense, while having no particular transcendence, still have the power at any given moment to extinguish that first spiritual disquietude, that intimate longing, that insignificant spark of light, that hunch which unsettles us for a moment without our knowing why.
Retreats really gives strength when we are with like-minded people. When we practice retreat, when we meet other aspirants of this teaching who are really sincere and are working effectively in themselves, we gain strength for our own path.
Retreat is like a chorus in a musical performance. The instructors are the conductor. The composer is the guru of our tradition: Samael Aun Weor. His music are the writings and teachings that we have, and the mighty chorus, that resounds like Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, is the voices of the initiates who work together in harmony, who create that synthesis, that profound alchemy in which forces mix, commune, and work like a conduit, in order to receive divine aid at a greater magnitude, profundity, impact.
Also, it is important that when we have retreats, we can study some essential principles that help us to take advantage of the small time that we have. Obviously in our past retreats we only have so much time, and really by the time people get used to the exercises and the lectures and the practices and are really ready to go deeper, it is already time to leave. So what's important is that we gain knowledge and inspiration, but also we go home into the world, back to society, in order to practice these principles, deeply, with greater momentum, so that whatever hardships we face, we conquer them with intelligence and wisdom.
While renunciation teaches the student to abandon psychological attachments to life, retreat is the method and the medium for perfecting and enlivening the flames of our spiritual longing. This is why Al-Junayd stated the following:
Sufism is sitting for a few moments without cares and worries with God. ―Junayd
Principles of Retreat and Seclusion
Let us examine the principles of retreat and seclusion:
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
Retreat is a means of purifying the Essence. For those of you who have attended Gnostic retreats, we have many exercises to work with energy, to work with concentration, to work with imagination. These are our faculties that we develop in ourselves so that we can gain knowledge of the causes of our suffering, and so that we can gain intimate wisdom, experiential knowledge of our Innermost Being. As beginners, we work to develop purity, level by level, degree by degree, and it is important that if we have the time and opportunity, that we make the sacrifice in order to meet others, to learn from others, to share our own knowledge, our experiences, because this is a very beneficial influence upon the psyche. It can really give us a lot of strength to help us understand what purity is.
In the beginning of Sufism, many initiates practice retreat, but also the great masters, the prophets, learn to withdraw from the world. These are the people of union―very high levels of initiates. And while it is easy to read this verse as something physical, in a profound sense, as we have been reiterating again and again in relation to hermetic silence, this has to do more with a psychological separation, a distance from oneself with the illusions of the world.
The masters of meditation prepare for union with divinity through the heights of initiation. Who are examples of the masters of union? What does that involve?
Prophet Muhammad was in the habit of traveling to جَبَل ٱلنُّوْر Jabal al-Nur, the “mountain of light” in Arabic, where he would perform meditation retreat. He would leave for extended periods of time in order to really deeply practice introspection. While this is a physical and a literal history, which is very commonly known in Islamic circles, Sufi circles, more importantly for us, this is a symbolic teaching.
How do we climb the mountain of light: جَبَل ٱلنُّوْر Jabal Nur (because in Arabic, نور nur means “light,” or, the Hebrew אור aur)? And what is that light? It is cognizance. It is awakened perception within the superior worlds. It is intelligence. It is the awakening of the consciousness.
It is referenced many times how Prophet Muhammad was meditating on جَبَل ٱلنُّوْر Jabal Nur when he received his first teaching from the Angel Gabriel. Gabriel spoke to him in what we can say is an internal experience, an astral, a prophetic, superior experience of the consciousness. The Angel Gabriel taught Prophet Muhammad the Qur’an.
If you know the tradition of Islam, Prophet Mohammad was reportedly illiterate. He didn't know how to read and write Arabic, but historically there are some scholars who state that this is inaccurate, primarily because Prophet Muhammad was a merchant, and to make trade deals, he would need to know how to read and write.
But symbolically for us, what does it mean that the Prophet was illiterate? This is a very famous teaching within Islam, how an illiterate man became an illuminated initiate who was able to provide the miracle of the Qur’an القرآن, that beautiful scripture, “The Recitation” in Arabic. What is interesting is that in a spiritual sense, what this represents for us, is that we are all illiterate. We do not have the principles of divinity inscribed within our soul, which is represented through Kabbalah, the science of numerology, of numbers, of the Hebrew, but also the Arabic letters, because Arabic and Hebrew are Semitic languages that share the same roots. They have the same meanings, esoterically speaking, archetypically speaking.
Prophet Muhammad was able to speak the Qur’an as a miracle, to recite the teachings of divinity within him. But he only did that because he climbed the mountain of light. This is a symbol of what we call initiation, of the mystical, internal Gnostic work. To climb a mountain in the astral plane signifies that we are entering initiation, degrees, higher levels of consciousness. But of course, how does one achieve this?
This is beautifully allegorized in many of the names of this story. For example the word nur spelled in Arabic: ن nun, و waw, ر ra. Or, נ nun, ו vav, ר reish in Hebrew. It is a beautiful teaching, how the light of our consciousness emerges from נ nun. In Arabic and in Hebrew, this letter signifies a fish. Or better said, in Aramaic, the word nun is a “fish”: a symbol of the sperm and ovum within our sexual creative waters. That is where the light emerges. When you conserve that energy and transform it, you raise it up the mountain of your spinal column so that it illuminates your head. You can receive wisdom from Gabriel, or in Arabic, جِبْرِيل Jibril.
In the Nordic language, the runes, which have a profound relationship to these names, you find within the named גַבְרִיאֵל Gabriel, Gibur-ra-el. The Rune Gibor is a swastika, a symbol of a cross in motion that unfortunately was misappropriated by some very mistaken people during World War II and before. That is a symbol of the creative sexual power that circulates within the initiate as they are learning to work with these exercises: mantras, prayer, runes, sacred rites for rejuvenation, imagination exercises, concentration exercises, retrospection meditation―many practices that we use in this tradition and on our retreats in order to develop the soul.
Symbolically speaking, we receive the Word, the Verb, the divine, the Qur’an, the recitation, the perfect expression of God in us, when we learn to raise the light from our sexual organs up to our head. That is how we climb the mountain. That is how we overcome adversities, because if you study this symbol and this extended metaphor deeply, you find that climbing a mountain is very difficult, especially when it is very high―and the mountain of initiation is extremely high, very arduous, very difficult. But we achieve those heights when we are working with energy, with chastity, with introspection, with visualization, with serenity, with the Essence.
Prophet Muhammad was an alchemist. He knew the science of الخيمياء Alchemy: Allah-Kemia. He was married to his first wife Khadijah, whom he worked with sexual magic, his priestess, so that he could raise that light up his spine in order to receive what we call the Venustic Initiation within our tradition. He received the Intimate Christ in Gnostic terms. Divinity entered in his soul and it is symbolized by the Annunciation of Gabriel: how Gibur-Ra-El, the power of the divine, or we could say the Holy Spirit in Christian terms, inflamed his consciousness. It is the force of ? Ra, the solar fire within Egyptian mysticism and אל El in Hebrew, the Spirit, the Innermost, the Merciful: ٱلرَّحِيمِ al-Rahim. We can all receive our own wisdom, our own particular Verb, when we climb the mountain of initiation, which is something inside, internal.
We have to remember that in the Muslim mythology, the Muslim narrative, Prophet Muhammad was commanded by Gabriel to recite and he said, “I cannot.” Gabriel said again, “Recite!” And Prophet Muhammad replied again, “I cannot. I do not know how.” And finally a third time, “Recite!” And the Prophet said, "What shall I say my Lord? What shall I recite?"
This is a beautiful teaching of the three brains. We have an intellectual brain, an emotional brain, and a motor-instinctive-sexual brain. We may be familiar with the story of Peter denying Christ. It is very difficult to really develop these forces in ourselves consistently, practically, in order to really affirm divinity in ourselves. The mind fights, the heart fights, but in the third brain, the brain of action, if we are transmuting the sexual energy, working upon جَبَل ٱلنُّوْر Jabal al-Nur, the mountain of light, we achieve the synthesis and the real work of the path. It is how we learn to recite the Word of God, which is to really reflect the Spirit inside. Beautiful symbology, alchemical-Kabbalistic wisdom.
Retreats are helpful for deepening this knowledge, for learning the different meditative traditions, but also really defining ourselves, really practicing deeply.
Traditionally, many schools of Buddhism and many Sufis would abandon the world for months or even years. In our retreats, we spend a week. We have sometimes done more. The important thing is whatever time we can dedicate, the deeper our results will be, obviously. Very beautiful practice. It is for masters. It is for beginning disciples. It is for all students who really wish to deepen their knowledge. But of course, retreat as we've said, is a way to really confirm our intimacy with divinity.
Intentions for Retreat
When we enter retreat, it is important to really reflect on our intentions. Many misconceptions about retreat exist. People often want to get away from the world. We want to avoid the negativity of our neighbors, our co-workers, our friends, our spouse, or whomever. While true, we really carry the seeds of discord within our ego. Let us read a quote in relation to this from Al-Qushayri's Principles of Sufism:
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
So it is arrogant to think that we have to protect ourselves from the evils of other people as if we are saints, like we are martyrs, people who should not dirty their hands in society.
So what does it mean to be humble? To really think little of ourselves. To realize that with the ego alive, we are dangerous, negative, people, and learning to associate with other spiritually like-minded people can give us humility. It can give us faith, because we learn from the experiences of others. We share. We break bread together. We study together. We inspire one another, and we receive knowledge of a superior type, because there is a lot of energy being channeled there if the practitioners are really serious, are really dedicated, because everyone is like a part of a concert, really. Everyone has their own instruments that they play, and when they play in harmony, they create a beautiful, profound wisdom.
So, let's also remember that we should enter retreat because we want to become better people, not because we want to avoid others. The reality is that to think in this way is to proceed mistakenly. We have to learn how to protect other people from our own ego. That is why we enter retreat. We enter retreat because we want to sacrifice better for humanity. We want to become better suited for our Being, to purify ourselves so that we can prevent our own lower, carnal soul, nafs al-ammara, “the soul that inclines to evil,” from inflicting damage, from influencing others negatively.
The Rules of Retreat
So, retreat has basic rules. Let's read some.
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 cannot seduce him through the imagination. Then he should acquire enough knowledge of the divine law 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
The doctrine of unity is central to Islam. It is very profound, subtle, and sophisticated, and beautiful. This is a topic that is very misunderstood and confused by theologians and skeptics alike.
What is unity? In a perfect sense, the Being is unity. Our ego is a multiplicity. We know from Gnosis that our consciousness is trapped in multiple, conflicting, competing, desires. We have to free the consciousness and liberate it from desire, from the ego, so that it can reunite with divinity when it is pure.
The quality of the Essence is very unique and is a very specific flavor that can only be experienced again and again through repeated trial and error. We are not going to be perfect in learning how to discriminate our true nature from our false nature, because our desires are many, vast, and are constantly competing and fighting to steal our energy.
The Essence is beautiful action, as we have emphasized again and again. It has infinite virtuous qualities, like altruism, compassion, conscious love, chastity, happiness for others, inspiration, motivation, diligence, patience, endurance of suffering and ordeals, sacrifice for others at one's own expense, one's own pride, humility. And also, the severity and justice of the consciousness that knows how to weigh a situation with mercy and equilibrium, with splendor. There are infinite virtuous qualities, but they are all united by a single thread which is the continuity of perception, of consciousness.
This is very different from our desires, from our ego. Our ego in its multiplicity, is a fracturing, a dissonance, a sour taste within the mind. If we are really dedicating ourselves to separating from the ego, we begin to see more and more how egotistical states are very problematic. They produce problems. This is the multiplicity of the mind that is the obstacle and the enemy, and why we enter retreat, primarily because the ego in itself, again, conditions our potential.
In Islam, the ego and its multiplicity are the polytheists mentioned in the Qur’an. Or, الْكافِرُون al-Kafirun, the unbelievers, the infidels. All of our cravings, aversions, fears, wants, desires, etc., do not obey or believe in the will of divinity in us.
So how do we understand this dynamic?
We may read and learn and study how altruism, how giving is a very profound virtue, and yet, when we have the opportunity to do so, we examine our mind and we find that we don't want to donate, perhaps in a certain situation, to give of our time and energy. We feel resistance. These are the unbelievers. Or, we learn about compassion, empathy, conscious love in a situation in which someone is really criticizing us. We start to see that constant fluctuation and dynamic of anger, of resentment, of hatred, of pride, with all of its cacophony of thoughts and desires and impulses pulling in multiple directions. When you observe that in yourself, you really understand that we don't have any unitary will.
We may direct our efforts to promoting and fulfilling these precepts, and yet we find that our desires fight against us. This means that we are not really spiritual people. It means that we are infidels, because we have so much desire within, conditioning, egos, نَفْس nafs in Arabic.
If you really want to be sincere, we have to learn and understand what unity is. When you taste it, you will know it. It is a very clear, cognizant, vivid intense state of clarity, of perception, of altruism, of giving. It is intuitive action. It is right action. It dissipates discord. It brings harmony within situations and conflicts. It knows how to understand the solution to a difficult issue through the heart, not the intellect, not through debating or theorizing or intellectualizing what one must do, but simply knowing it and acting for the welfare of others.
Unity is a profound teaching. It is really the heights of realization. There are levels to understanding what unity is, the integration of the soul. But in order to really understand that particular state and quality on a consistent, experiential basis, we learn to work with the practices of our tradition, specifically by having knowledge of the divine law. This is the ethical conduct of the initiates, but also our religious duties, which is our exercises: the practices that we fulfill, such as works with concentration, serenity, or imagination.
It would seem that the Sufis are speaking badly about imagination, that Satan seduces one through visualization, because we have to remember that imagination is dual. It can be conditioned or it can be liberated. It could be negative or it could be positive, liberated, free. Our desires project through imagery onto the senses, seeking to fulfill their desires. But visualization practice, working with positive imagination: the ability to hold in one's concentration with vivid intensity, non-physical imagery is an essential skill we learn to master, because that quality of consciousness allows us to access the internal worlds.
This capacity to perceive non-physical imagery has to be done at will, not mechanically, not through associative thinking or daydreaming, mind-wandering, in which we have no control over what we see. The imagination that we speak of is very specific. By learning those practices we could really go deep in our work.
So as we have emphasized again and again, the practical foundations of meditation include shari'a, ethical conduct. This is something that we can learn. We read about it. We listen to lectures. We read scriptures. We do book studies. We talk about the teachings. We learn them. We gain an intellectual understanding and appreciation of the different precepts of religion as we have emphasized again and again, such as non-violence, non-stealing, sexual purity, charity, pilgrimage, such as in the Muslim faith.
There are even five pillars within Islam that constitute the divine law, practices that can help develop our potential, our compassion, our ethics, our kindness. This is different in different religions, but they all share the same root, which is how to work with liberated consciousness, how to curtail negative behaviors so that we don't infect our heart, our conscience. We don't make ourselves sick, spiritually, because people who are filled with hate, who live within an atmosphere of wrath, are very depleted of energy, and they suffer incredibly. They make others suffer, which is worse.
Silence and Insight
So divine law helps to curtail all of that. This is so that we can enter silence or samt, equanimity, serenity. When you learn to act ethically with precepts, you calm your mind, naturally. Through the work of self-observation and learning to respond to life consciously, to transform the impressions of life as they enter our consciousness, our mind naturally begins to settle, to become serene, to become calm. But this only happens when we separate from the mind. We look at it for what it is. We don't try to label anything we see, to justify it, or to hide from it. Simply look. Perceive what is in your heart, your three brains, your thoughts, your feelings, your will. This is how we gain insight, firasah in Arabic. This is clear perception. This is the faculty of imagination, visualization. It is the ability to see not with physical eyes, but with psychological and spiritual senses.
If I tell you to imagine an apple, you can see it. It appears in your mind. That is visualization. Now, insight or imagination, comprehension born from seeing, occurs when we learn to develop that capacity intentionally, not mechanically by hearing about some associative word like an apple and then you see it in your mind, but instead learning to cultivate the capacity to perceive with imagination, with different exercises, such as taking a candle, imagining the flame. Observe it. Look at the colors and the fluctuation of the flame, the wax, and then imagine it with clarity, in detail.
You can only learn silence and insight through practice. You can learn about the concepts, but it won't have any substance unless you have experienced it.
When you really develop silence and insight, serenity, and visualization or, concentration and imagination, the ability to focus serenely and to perceive it clearly in your consciousness, that is how you witness unity. This is التوحيد al-tawhid. This is witnessing the truth. This is samadhi, ecstasy, mystical experience. This is the unity and integrity of the soul, the integration of the consciousness. Literally, it is when the soul abandons illusion, the ego, even if for a few moments, in different levels of nature.
This can occur physically, but also in the internal planes, in the Tree of Life, in the different dimensions. We could be sitting to meditate and suddenly we start perceiving an experience, not with physical senses, but with the consciousness, in which we receive symbols and messages and understandings and dramas that we are both witness and spectator. We receive insight, or better said, symbols through our Being, through living dramas, allegories, that have to be interpreted with the consciousness.
When we learn to understand these messages, we really march in the path towards unity, unifying our consciousness. We do so through one-pointed will. We learn not to be distracted. Whatever you sit to practice meditation upon, whatever you focus your concentration on, don't think of other things. Don't get distracted. Renounce distractions, whether they are physical, energetic, through sensations or lights and sounds and mystical experiences, things that are really captivating and interesting but really are just temporary. Let them go. Don't be fascinated by what you perceive.
Also, do not be hypnotized by emotions, especially negative emotions, because we have a lot of that. We have to renounce negative feeling, but also the churning of thought, intellect. And by concentrating our willpower, and letting it rest in equanimity, with meditative equipoise, we can receive the light of unity. This is how you proclaim the Shahadah, “There is no God but God, and Muhammad” or any Prophet “is the Messenger of Allah,” the divine.
So unity is something that occurs in levels. That perfect unity of the Being has many qualities and virtues. It is infinite. We study the Tree of Life to understand all those dynamics in detail, the relationships between those principles, the ten sephiroth, the lower seven bodies, the trinities. Everything is a unity that expresses a multiplicity. So therefore, the bridge between monotheism and polytheism should be understood, because sadly, the exoteric public doctrine of Islam rejects many religions because they are interpreted to be polytheist. Many of them do not understand what Kabbalah is, that it is a map and structure the soul, the unity of God, how divinity expresses in levels. Or as the Qur’an teaches, “Light upon light!” (24:35)―level upon level of being. There are more rarefied levels of being and more manifest, concrete levels of being.
So, the Being is a unit, is perfected, is divine. We are multiplicity because we have egos. We are polytheists, whether we consider ourselves Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, or whatever, Gnostic. We are infidels because we have the ego. We are fractured. We have no integrity, no unity of will. We have a multiplicity of wills. So, comprehend what unity is. Learn about that state of being, the perfection of your Innermost through experiences. Through that vision of the consciousness, you can see that really, in the depths of all traditions. They are all the same. They teach the same principles. Those are different archetypes and qualities of divinity expressed amongst the cultures and religions of the world. They all share the same roots.
The Essence of Seclusion
It is also important to remember that the essence of seclusion is more than just leaving society behind. It is an internal psychological work. It means to hermetically seal our energy.
People who waste energy never awaken. The question is, how do we waste energy?
Let us seriously investigate our life.
What types of activities drain us? What relationships, events, cyclical occurrences, behaviors, mechanical habits, tend to take away our vitality, our ability to really dedicate to spiritual practice? We have to learn to answer that question, personally, through reflection.
The question also becomes: how do we learn to seal ourselves, our psyche, from losing energy, whether it be mental, emotional, sexual, especially? How do we lose energy? How do we save energy? Let's examine some quotes that can help us understand this, from Al-Qushayri's Principles of Sufism:
Withdrawing from the world does not mean going away from inhabited places. The essence of seclusion is to isolate blameworthy traits in order to substitute the divine names for them. Thus it was asked, "Who is the gnostic (arif)?" and they replied, "A creature distinguished," that is, someone who appears to be together with people, but is inwardly separated from them. ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
Separation is key. Do not be attached to your actions, to your desires, to what anger wants, to what vanity desires, to what greed clutches on to. Non-attachment does not mean dysphoria, in which we don't have a sense of orientation or self, meaning: one is disassociated in a clouded obscured, amorphous state. That is not what we are talking about.
Non-attachment is clarity. It is vivid attention. It is expansive awareness. It is the identity of our Essence with its virtuous qualities, the ability to act ethically with precision and with compassion. That is non-attachment.
We give. We act for the benefit of others, not being attached to what may happen. We give from the qualities and the treasures of our heart. This is how we save energy. This is how we transmute energy.
You take the sexual energy; you conserve it. But also we have to learn how to direct it with the Essence. When you empower your consciousness through pranayama and runes, especially alchemy, you learn to direct that force in an intelligent way. But if we do not save energy, we invest ourselves within desire, within nafs.
We have to separate from the ego in order to see it. This is what it means “to substitute blameworthy traits with divine names.” In Hebrew, we have a name called hashim, which relates to השם Hashem, “the names,” and you find this even in Arabic have the same pronunciation even. Hashim, Samael Aun Weor mentions, are the igneous particles of the consciousness, the energies of the psyche. When we perceive and not act upon negative states, egos, we learn to transform hashim within us, the names, the particles of the soul, which usually are trapped in ego, in desire.
So in Muslim mysticism, they emphasize that there are beautiful names of Allah, and this can be graphed in different ways upon the Tree of Life, which we have mentioned some correlations before, specifically such as with ٱلرَّحِيمِ Al-Rahim, the Merciful, which is Chesed, the Spirit of Kabbalah. The Compassionate, الرحمان Al-Rahman, can relate to Chokmah, Wisdom.
These divine names relate to principles and forces in us that we have to understand. When we learn to not invest ourselves within desire, we learn to substitute blameworthy traits with the divine names, with the hashim, the forces of God, so that you are cultivating a space in yourself that allows for meditation to exist, because when the mind is chaotic, you cannot meditate. If you are burning with hatred all day and you sit down to introspect, you are not going to attain anything.
Instead, curtail your negative habits. Seclude your psyche from attachments. The seclusion that we seek is internal. That is the beginning.
Inner Seclusion and Intimacy with God
Real seclusion, retreat, is internal. It is dependent upon our level of being. Our heart has to be secluded. It has to be separate from any ego, any naf, any desire. You cannot look to externals to know the truth, whether from teachers, from lectures, from scriptures even, from books, but from your own consciousness. That is how we really develop, and that is how seclusion, retreat, becomes fruitful, is with this basis, with hermetic sealing, with hermetic silence.
Let's read some quotes from Revelation of the Mystery, Kashf al-Mahjub by Al-Hujwiri that relate to these principles.
It is related that [Al-Qarani] said, "Safety lies in solitude," because the heart of the solitary is free from thought of ‘other,’ and in no circumstances does he hope for anything from mankind. Let none imagine, however, that solitude (wahdat) merely consists in living alone. So long as the Devil associates with a man’s heart, and sensual passion holds sway in his breast, and any thought of this world or the next occurs to him in such a way as to make him conscious of mankind, he is not truly in solitude; since it is all one whether he takes pleasure in the thing itself or in the thought of it. ―Al-Hujwiri, Revelation of the Mystery
So we can be in retreat but occupied mentally with other things. We have to avoid associating anything with Allah.
It is a very beautiful teaching with Islam. The Qur’an teaches we should not associate with anything other than God, but how do we associate with anything other than divinity? That is when we are distracted. Remember that Al-Wasiti said, "The greatest form of worship is watchfulness in the moments," primarily because we don't learn to associate with anything other than Him. Meaning, don't get lost in thought, with thinking. Do not be distracted. Instead, enter silence, concentrated.
Accordingly, the true solitary is not disturbed by society, but he who is preoccupied seeks in vain to acquire freedom from thought by secluding himself. In order to be cut off from mankind one must become intimate with God, and those who have become intimate with God are not hurt by intercourse with mankind. ―Al-Hujwiri, Revelation of the Mystery
So we can be solitary or unitary in our consciousness but involved in the world. We cannot enter real retreat if our mind is always preoccupied with other things, and where we are at or what we are doing.
Intimacy with God occurs in levels. We gain intimacy with divinity in accordance with our level of being, through our efforts, our practices. These are different experiences we can have and levels upon the Tree of Life. These are levels of remembrance, levels of witnessing, whether in dreams or in meditation.
Two Kinds of Seclusion
There are some points emphasized by Ibn ‘Arabi in The Adornment of the Spiritually Transformed which reiterate the points we have made. There are two types of seclusion: internal and external. These are both very valuable to know and it is important to know the relationship between them. Ibn ‘Arabi states:
Seclusion leads to silence for man, since one who withdraws from human company has no-one to talk to, and that naturally leads to silence of the tongue. There are two kinds of seclusion: firstly, the seclusion of the aspirants (murīdūn), which consists of not associating physically with others; and secondly, the seclusion of the verifiers (muhaqqiqūn), which consists of having no contact with created things in one’s heart: their hearts have no room for anything other than the knowledge of God, exalted is He, which is the witness of the Truth in the heart that results from contemplation (mushāhada). ―Ibn ‘Arabi, The Adornment of the Spiritually Transformed
So the seclusion of the aspirants has to do with not being around a lot of people. It is even good on retreats to practice silence physically. On some of our retreats, but also in many others that I have attended amongst different Gnostic groups, have beautifully implemented silence of the tongue. So we could be surrounded by other students or teachers in this tradition eating and dining with people, but not talking physically.
Of course, this is very difficult because, obviously, when you are with a group of Gnostics, you want to share and learn and commune with your brothers and sisters in this path, but there is something very valuable about learning not to talk physically. You begin to understand and perceive in yourself your different egos, which want to socialize or be funny or be impressive, to look really spiritual amongst others, to really show off. These are things that we can see in ourselves if we practice this, and this is the value of physical silence, the seclusion of the aspirants.
But what is even more beautiful than that is the seclusion of the verifiers (muhaqqiqūn). What does it mean to verify? It means to know from experience those mystical states in which we don't have any contact with creative things in our heart. Our heart is not focused on anything else but their quality of remembrance of the Being. There is no other room except knowledge of God, and this results from mushahada, which means “contemplation, witnessing, meditation.”
Examine your heart when you sit to practice. Be sincere. Is your mind thinking of other things? Is your heart churning with emotion? Is your impulse to do anything else but meditate? Are you preoccupied with anything other than the knowledge of your Being? It is something only you can evaluate. Only you can really know.
Three Motives for Seclusion
In synthesis, Ibn ‘Arabi states that there are three motives for seclusion. Let's examine these in depth:
The people of seclusion have three motives: (1) the fear of the evil of other people affecting oneself; (2) the fear of one’s own evil affecting others―this is a higher perception than the first, as in the first case one thinks badly of others, while in the second one thinks badly of oneself, and thinking badly of oneself is better since you are more knowledgeable of yourself… ―Ibn ‘Arabi, The Adornment of the Spiritually Transformed
Al-Hujwiri made the same points that Ibn ‘Arabi is emphasizing. This is very common knowledge among Sufis.
(3) the preference for the company of the Master from the Sublime Assembly―the most elevated of men is one who parts from himself out of preference for the company of his Lord. ―Ibn ‘Arabi, The Adornment of the Spiritually Transformed
Seek company of the divine prophets through your experiences. Specifically, learn to project into the astral plane. Awaken your consciousness from dreams. Learn to consult with your inner God, who has all the knowledge that you need to rectify any issue.
Divinity is wise. We can go upon the [Glorian Publishing] forum and ask for help for certain issues. Really, the most that instructors can do is really teach how to practice, primarily so that people learn to become independent.
Learn how to receive help inside, to seek company of God. Divinity is a much more profound intelligence and wisdom, really, than any physical person can provide, so learn to practically experience this for yourself. Verify for yourself through dream yoga.
One who prefers seclusion to the company of others prefers his Lord to that which is other than Him. And no-one can know what gifts and mysteries God showers upon the one who prefers his Lord. ―Ibn ‘Arabi, The Adornment of the Spiritually Transformed
So what are these gifts? These are samadhis, dream experiences, astral consciousness, wisdom from the mental world, from the Buddhic world, from the Nirvanic worlds, from the heavenly world, the جنّة Jannah, the superior dimensions. No one could really measure their infinite profundity, their expansiveness.
Seclusion never happens in the heart unless the heart feels an estrangement from that which one is separating from, and an intimacy with the One with whom one is secluding oneself, which is what drives one into seclusion. ―Ibn ‘Arabi, The Adornment of the Spiritually Transformed
So the question is, what is our قِبْلَة qiblah?
We have mentioned before that in mosques, they have a niche within the walls pointing towards the Middle East, towards Mecca, towards the Kaaba, the holy stone. One prays in that direction, قِبْلَة qiblah, when one is in deep prayer within the tradition of Islam.
Esoterically speaking, قِبْلَة qiblah has to do with your concentration.
Upon what do you concentrate?
What is the quality of your concentration?
Is it sustained for long periods of time, or is it spotty? Sometimes attentive, sometimes not?
Are there more degrees of attention or less degrees?
Are we more inattentive than we are attentive?
قِبْلَة qiblah really has to do with the quality of our concentration in our prayer. The more sincere we are and analyzing our level of being and focusing on the object of our concentration, of our dedication, will determine what we are focused on, will determine our trajectory.
For most people their قِبْلَة qiblah is in television, movies, TV shows, violence, extortion, crime, etc. Therefore, what is our قِبْلَة qiblah? What is our motive? What is our center of gravity? Because Samael Aun Weor mentions that we have a psychological center of gravity, which is typically in the ego. We have to develop a permanent center of gravity within the Essence. This is our قِبْلَة qiblah. So, examine that. Meditate on that. What do you more focused on in life? What do you contemplate more than other things? What is your focus, whether physically or in your mental states, especially? Examine the relationship.
What is real silence?
Spiritual retreats have often been silent with the exception of instructions and directions during meditation. This helps us to curtail negative internal chatter, to force the practitioner to be aware of oneself in relationship with the world or with others. Many people enter retreat and while silent with the tongue, continue to chat very loudly in the mind, commenting on everything one sees.
Let's look at what Ibn ‘Arabi has to say about this in his Adornment of the Spiritually Transformed:
Seclusion has no need of the extra condition of silence, as silence is necessarily included within it, insofar as it is silence of the tongue. As for silence of the heart, seclusion does not necessarily lead to it, since one could converse with oneself about other than God and with other than God, exalted is He. This is why we have considered silence to be one of the pillars (arkān) on the Way in its own right. ―Ibn ‘Arabi, The Adornment of the Spiritually Transformed
So how often does our mind wander? This is something we should evaluate and examine. Reflect on this quality of being, how attentive you are, because our internal chatter tends to be very focused on specific psychological songs.
Many people, when they drive their cars or listen to the radio do so by listening to music or favorite songs. Some people even have a very specific unchanging order. They have a music playlist, whether on their iPhone, iPod, whatever it may be. And so, while we may listen to music or not, everybody has a psychological song.
What is a psychological song? It is our narrative that we tell ourselves. It is our life story. It is our epic Mahabharata, our own tale in which we are the great center, the protagonist, the hero, the martyr, upon which all of our circumstances gravitate. We tend to tell ourselves that we are wronged, victimized, blamed, whatever our particular idiosyncrasy may be. We are the great hero, while everyone else is the villain. We were right, but we were wronged, etc.
We tend to repeat our own song like a broken record. And of course it is going to be different for each person. For some people, it may be self-pity, feeling inadequate that they can succeed in life, that they have always been cheated, lie to, abused, etc.
Some people sing songs of vanity that they are always great, they are wonderful, and that people don't appreciate their integrity or compassion or altruism, whatever it may be.
We repeat our songs, even if no one wants to hear it, because in honesty, everybody else has their own psychological song. Everybody sings their own tune, so to speak.
Internal chatter, this psychological repetition of mental verbiage, has to be curtailed and ended. You don't do it by pushing the mind away or telling the mind to shut up. When you learn to observe and separate from the mind, it starts to calm. When you observe the mind and it is talking at you and chattering, but you are not giving into it, you are not feeding it, you are learning to enter silence and seclusion―real retreat.
So you could be physically at your job but learning to really enter, psychologically, an attitude and a space of meditation and retreat. This is really the foundation and the key. Separate from the mind. Self-observe your thoughts, your feelings and your actions. Stop giving your energy into desires, conditions of mind. This is because in solitude even, we have a lot of negative egos, a lot of painful temptations. When we are alone, we are by ourselves, oftentimes the worst egos emerge. This is why Samael Aun Weor stated the following in Treaties of Revolutionary Psychology:
It is indispensable to observe oneself when alone in the same manner as when associated with people.
I am pretty sure that most people, after a while, get very tired of listening to the same tune. But ironically, in our life experience, this is not true.
We sing our songs how we are victimized and harmed and blamed and betrayed, whatever it may be, whatever our tendency is, whatever egos we like to feed most of all. We have to examine what that chatter is, what that language is, what the results are, because if you invest your energy in defeatism or vanity or whatever it may be, we don't change the situation.
We have to learn to sacrifice our own sufferings. Give up pain. Give up our attachments to pain, to egotistical states. Let's not express our suffering so much. Obviously, if there's something really traumatic and difficult, it is good sometimes to talk with people, especially when we need guidance, but that is something you have to evaluate on your own.
So it is important to remember that, like animals, our culture has us domesticated, very well-trained. We are taught to adopt behaviors and beliefs and ideologies that are contrary to our spiritual nature. These are simply beliefs, attitudes or perceptions of how life is that really don't have any basis. This is the reason why our society and our world is such a mess, because people believe reality to be a certain way. However, they don't really have any basis in experience of the consciousness.
Because we have different beliefs that conflict with reality, with our experiences, with each other, we suffer. This is because the egos of different people sing their psychological song. Everybody thinks that they are the victim. Simply look at different conflicts throughout the world where everyone, both sides of different issues, say that they are the victim, not the perpetrator. So they justify their behaviors, and likewise, we too justify everything we do. And this is the problem. We sing our songs articulately or inarticulately to ourselves. This is something that keeps us very asleep. So, it’s something to consider.
The Witnessing of Unity
What is the witnessing of unity? Some profound teachings from Ibn ‘Arabi, al-Sheikh al-Akbar, who is considered the greatest of Sufi teachers, he emphasizes some points that we have mentioned already, but which I'd like to emphasize here:
One who makes seclusion their practice grasps the mystery of the Divine Unity (wahdāniyya). In terms of knowledges and mysteries, this brings to him the secrets of the Uniqueness (ahadiyya) insofar as it is a quality. The true spiritual state of seclusion, whether it be that of the seeker or the verifier, is to be transcendent of all attributes. ―Ibn ‘Arabi, The Adornment of the Spiritually Transformed
So what is the uniqueness? This is الأحد al-ahad in Arabic, the unity. Or this is where we get the Shahadah, where we declare the unity of God:
لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا ٱللَّٰهُ مُحَمَّدٌ رَسُولُ ٱللَّٰهِ
This is paralleled within the Jewish tradition by the Shema.
שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ יְהוָה אֶחָֽד׃,
…الأحد Ahad in Arabic or אֶחָֽד Echad in Hebrew, unity.
What does it mean when we are a verifier or seeker to experience the spiritual state of seclusion? It means to be transcendent of all attributes, meaning: egotistical qualities. We have to give up our identity as an ego. To experience the clarity of the Essence, we have to be selfless. Again, not from a state of dysphoria, of obscuration, of mental dullness, of confusion, but a state of awareness and attention and the identity of the consciousness.
Let us continue:
The highest state of seclusion is retreat (khalwa), for it is a seclusion within seclusion, and its fruit is stronger than that of ordinary seclusion. One who makes seclusion his practice must have certainty regarding God, exalted is He, until he has no thought that will distract him and take him beyond the confines of his seclusion. If he lacks certainty, then let him prepare himself to be strong enough for seclusion, in order that his certainty may be strengthened by what is revealed to him in his seclusion. ―Ibn ‘Arabi, The Adornment of the Spiritually Transformed
So we have talked previously about what certainty is: اليقين Al-Yaqin.
There are three forms of certainty within Islam or Sufism:
Knowledge of certainty means we understand the teachings and the scriptures, the doctrine, the wisdom, from the intellect. But the seeing of certainty has to do with when we experience these truths for ourselves, through personal, living knowledge, not through belief or from reading a book, from listening to a lecture, from reading a scripture. It is what we know through experience, through facts.
The truth of certainty has to do with when we really receive wisdom from God. We receive visions and insights from divinity that are indisputable, that are factual, without illusion, without question.
This is how we really make use of seclusion. We have to have certainty of the practices. Obviously, if we don't really understand what these teachings are about and we try to enter retreat, it can be very difficult; obviously, learning it for the first time. So we need to have some kind of development or understanding of the teaching so that we can really go deeper.
By understanding the science and the method of the practices of meditation, we have no thought that will distract us and take us beyond the confines of our seclusion. Meaning, we don't really get lost in the practices. If we lack certainty, then let us prepare ourselves to be strong enough, meaning, in this case, some meditation retreats practiced by the Sufis were very extensive, very long, very arduous, not really recommended for beginners. If you come to one of our retreats, you'll find that we have it pretty easy compared to many of the traditions, especially.
There is no other way. This is one of the firm preconditions governing seclusion. Seclusion bequeaths knowledge of this world (dunyā). ―Ibn ‘Arabi, The Adornment of the Spiritually Transformed
So, we gain knowledge of the world, our ego, through meditation, as we have explained in relation to retrospection meditation especially.
So in synthesis, I'd like to relate to you and provide to you a resource: a retreat schedule that you can adopt. You don't have to use it strictly in this manner. It is simply a guideline that you can use, that you can modify at will to help really deepen your spiritual life.
It is divided into morning, noon, and evening practices―some simple time frames that you can use if you have the time and the energy and the dedication to do so.
If you look at these links, you'll find different books or practices, references, resources that you can study in relation to these exercises, whether from our own Gnostic Meditation course or Meditation Essentials, the Nordic Runes, working with energy, the seven vowels, recitations at dawn, specifically, when we invoke energies of divinity, of Christ, through mantralizing, performing prayers through the Nordic yoga. Also, there is time for lectures and scriptural study―free time, of course, but also sacred rites of rejuvenation, dream yoga, Jinn practices, etc. I won't go through all of this in detail, but you can use this resource to help you if you are willing.
Recommended Sources for Meditation and Spiritual Practices
Alchemy Techniques for Married Couples
Dream Yoga Exercises
Mantras and Prayers for Protection
Meditation Courses and Resources
Pranayama for Single Practitioners
Sacred Rites of Rejuvenation
So in synthesis, it is important to understand what seclusion is. To synthesize everything we have stated, the most important principle is that if you want any type of meditation or retreat to be effective for you, learn to cultivate a space of serenity and insight. This is something that you can only do through daily consistent discipline, moment to moment awareness.
I would like to open up the floor to questions.
Questions and Answers
Question: What does it mean to sacrifice our own sufferings if you want to transform ourselves?
Instructor: Oftentimes, our pain is self-chosen, to quote Khalil Gibran in his poem The Prophet. We like to waste energy. Oftentimes we have a problem in life, a situation, and it becomes very difficult to resolve. We don't see a solution. We see that we are in darkness. We have a lot of uncertainty, a lot of pain. But stewing in the filth of our mind, by letting ourselves boil in the heat of our own negative emotions, it is not going to resolve the problem. When you give your energy unnecessarily into wrong mental states, we deepen our suffering.
Instead, it is better to step away from the problem, to separate from it, to separate from the mind, to not give your energy to negative emotion, because in reality, negative emotions are very infectious. They make ourselves sick. They make other people sick.
So you have to consider that if you are very upset with a problem, it is not going to be easy to resolve it if your mind is clouded. Therefore, we must sacrifice our sufferings. Meaning, if you're in a lot of pain and you feel like you want to just vegetate, to vacillate, to not act in a situation, to not respond in any way, to not really introspect in yourself, it can be really useful to spend that time to practice.
Sometimes, if we are in a negative emotional state, it can be very difficult to meditate. Therefore, we could do something like runes, prayer, pranayama, walks in nature, some exercise to distract our mind from the problem, and we can learn to invest our attention in a worthy cause, which is the transformation of our pain.
When I have been in very difficult, moral, ethical suffering in relation to different problems in my life, I have deepened and intensified my practice. I remember I worked at one job that was very difficult. I had a very hard time transforming the negative emotions of my clients, and I was suffering a lot because I felt inadequate to really help them. So what I would do is, when I was in a lot of pain, I would do hours of runes. I mean literally, one to two hours, sometimes even more. I would really dedicate myself to spiritual practices so that I can stop or cease my own suffering. By providing good energy into my psyche, I was able to calm down and to face my problem with equity, with clarity. This is just one method we can use.
Use the practices in our tradition that can help you, whatever is going to resonate most with you that helps you ease your pain so that you can really focus on what's important. If there is something you can't change that you are suffering about, then why suffer about it? There is no solution. But if there is a solution, then you can act effectively to change it. This is how we sacrifice our pain, because pain is not necessary. We don't have to churn in the mud, so to speak.
Question: When I am doing a concentration imagination exercise, is it okay to mantralize at the same time to clear the mental chatter, like AUM?
Instructor: Yes, it takes some skill. You know, obviously a mantra like Aum is very useful for charging our psyche with good energy. Now, if you are concentrating on the mantra, that's really good. But also, you can visualize light and energy in your heart, especially. So those can go hand-in-hand.
There are different dynamics to different practices, different mantras. Some mantras are provided with certain visualization exercises. So I recommend that whatever practices you are doing that, you know, you really fulfill them with fidelity, whatever those stipulations are in the writings of Samael Aun Weor, but if you do the mantra AUM or OM, you can visualize light in your heart, concentrate on the vibration of that mantra.
So when you perform a mantra, it is not merely just saying or reciting some sounds, but it is concentrating on the energy. It is visualizing that force in you. It is developing your focus, your perception. It is a very dynamic thing.
Question: The next question is, I try to imagine my inner Father or my Monad as a tremendous light that descends from the heavens above. Is there a more accurate vision like the light descending from the crown of the head?
Instructor: There are different visualizations. The best visualization practice is going to be any state or experience you have had internally. For example, in many cases I have meditated on my Innermost, mantralizing while imagining my Being, remembering my inner God as I perceived Him in the astral plane, even beyond.
You can visualize the Father as a light in the heart. You can even visualize that energy descending from your crown to your body. In certain runes like the runes Tyr and Bar, work like that. You are invoking the Divine Father to enter your head as you are bringing your hands downward, mantralizing the vowels Tyr, and then Bar.
So different practices have different orientations, but the important thing is that follow your intuition, what you need to work with. You can imagine a light in your heart, the mantras like O or Om, etc., but also you can imagine the light descending from the crown of the head, especially with certain mantras like INRI or the practice with Ares, if you studied the book Practical Astrology [Editor's Note: See also the mantras INRI, ENRE, ONRO, UNRU, ANRA for developing the chakras].
Question: One of my biggest temptations has been my ego constantly pushing me astray when it comes to furthering and deepening my practices. What is the best way to supplicate the higher forces to help develop will? Sometimes, conjurations work well for me, but sometimes I feel that I fall and allow my intellect to remove me from it and I fall back again into not intensifying my work and developing my will.
Instructor: I find some of the best practices for developing willpower are the runes, especially the Rune Dorn. You can stand facing towards the east when facing the sunrise or early morning hours are good for this. Place your heels together, left hand on your left side, right hand on your right hip. Pray to your inner Being to grant you the will of Christ.
Do the mantras: TA TE TI TO TU. You prolong them. Feel the vibration of those forces in you. Pray to your Divine Mother Kundalini and the Holy Spirit to empower your Essence so that it can fulfill the will of Christ.
Remember, in the story of Prophet Muhammad when Gabriel said, “Recite!” and Prophet Muhammad said, “I can’. I don't know basically how to read and write,” and Gabriel said again, “Recite!” and he says, “I do not know how,” and then the third time, Gabriel said, “Recite!” and then Prophet Muhammad said, “What shall I recite my Lord?” This is precisely a symbol of what you are talking about: how in the path we struggle to really fulfill divine will. We struggle in our practices. We feel that we are disconnected.
You can work at the Rune Dorn, especially. That is how we recite the word of divinity so that we can receive blessings from divinity above, from Gabriel, Gibur-Ra-El: our own Spirit.
You can work with the vowels or any of the seven runes, especially, for as long as you need. An hour or more if you need to. That is a very great way to energize your practice, to give you a lot of force to do other things as well, to meditate profoundly.
Question: Do you believe people can pull energy from one person to another?
Instructor: Personally, I don't believe that. It is something that I know from experience. We call those people witches, sorcerers, black magicians. They steal energy from people because they cannot create on their own. They reject the Holy Spirit, the creative power of divinity within sex. They don't learn how to cultivate their own energy, and because they are vampiric, they need to thrive off the psychic energy of others. And there are many ways that they steal vital energy from people. This is why we learn practices of conjurations and prayers to protect ourselves. You can study our lecture called Basics of Spiritual Defense on our website, especially the course Spiritual Self-Defense to learn how to protect yourself.
Question: Sometimes one feels strong when around worldly activities, such as dealing with problems and traffic, but sometimes it all seems unbearable and one feels an urgent need of solitude. Do you find this fluctuations to be normal on the path to total inner silence?
Instructor: Yes. Obviously, you have to gauge your own level of being and your needs. It can be very difficult to be around the cities for a long period of time or to be in difficult situations. This is why people enter retreat in different traditions. When we are depleted of our energy, we feel like we need to recharge. It is good to go out in nature and enter retreats or practice with like-minded people so that we can gain more force. So yes, there are periods in which it is very difficult to walk this path. It is very normal. The important thing is that we are consistent with our practices and that we can make sacrifices so that we can practice more effectively, but also get out of the world, or better said, get out of the hustle and bustle of our modern society.
Question: Thank you for this series of lectures on Sufism. Would you please introduce a few books that I can fundamentally learn more about Islam, Sufism, and contemplate and understand the link between Gnosis and Sufism? As a Muslim, I know that there is a root. All mysticism should direct to the same point. Any recommendations or suggestions would be helpful in this regard.
Instructor: So probably the best book to understand the heart of every single religious tradition is The Perfect Matrimony by Samael Aun Weor. He explains some points in which the mysteries of alchemy and sexual magic that he teaches so openly, is represented within Islam and Sufism, especially. He makes some comments in certain chapters about the Muslim initiates, especially. That's the best book that I know of that really explains the secret key within every tradition, especially Islam and Sufism.
Once you know the writings of Samael Aun Weor very deeply, especially that book, as well as The Mystery of the Golden Flower, you can pick up Sufi manuals of retreat and spiritual practice and understand what they are talking about. Some Sufi texts that I really recommend besides the Qur’an, especially, are Revelation of the Mystery by Al-Hujwiri, Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri, and The Stations of the Sufi Path by Abdullah Ansari of Herat.
If you want, you can email us and we'll send you a link to those texts. But if you look at the PowerPoint presentations, the PDFs that we are going to upload to our website, you'll find that we have constant references to these three books, especially those three Sufi texts. They are Persian Sufism, the best of Sufism, especially. Samael Aun Weor states in The Perfect Matrimony that the best of Sufism comes from Persia. So it is a very deep statement. I recommend you study those texts, especially.
Question: I recently have been struggling with pranayama. When I do it for over five minutes, my body jitters. It feels very uncomfortable. Do you recommend walking for a while before pranayama?
Instructor: Yes. It could be really good to do that. You might want to get some exercise, especially, primarily because when you start to work with your creative energies, your whole chemistry changes, literally. Your body and processes fluctuate, change. Personally, since practicing transmutation, I have experienced many changes, even in my appetite, my ability to engage in heavy work, even manual labor―you know, getting a lot of strength from the creative impulse.
Sometimes, in the beginning, it can be very difficult to adapt to the vibrations of the sexual energy. They are very powerful. Sometimes with pranayama, we can feel very charged to the point that we become jittery, like you are drinking a very big cup of coffee or an espresso. So, I recommend do short practices. You know, get some physical exercise, especially. Maybe even walk in nature if you can. Ham-Sah is very good for when you are walking out in the middle of the woods, if you have the opportunity. I like to do that when I take a long hikes since it helps me to keep my body and blood circulating, but also circulate the energies as well. Or you can practice in more short spurts. If you feel that you are getting uncomfortable, take a break, but later jump back into the practice so that you can acculturate your body. Learn to make your body adapt to that inward and upward flow of force.
Question: Also, this person said that I feel the energy to be overwhelming. Do you recommend cutting down on meat?
Instructor: Yes, if you find that you have too much fire (the Tattva Tejas from The Panchatattva Ritual) and it is difficult to control, cut down on meat. Limit your meat intake. Sometimes a change in diet can help with that.
Question: When you are in a state of remembrance of the Being, do you put your attention on your heart, breath, or imagine something?
Instructor: Remembrance is a very profound and beautiful quality that is very dynamic. This is something that we are going to dedicate an entire lecture to in this course within the coming weeks.
When you are remembering your Being, when you are self-observing yourself throughout the day, you should be aware of your pineal gland, especially. This is the seat of the soul. This is where we look out into our external world, but also our internal world.
Remembrance of the Being is also a quality of the heart. You are observing from your third eye or the pineal gland, especially, introspecting within and perceiving within your internal states in relation to external events. So you are perceiving through the senses, but also you are exercising your internal senses, your psychological sense of understanding thought, feeling, and will.
Remembrance, more importantly, is a quality of your superior emotional center, and this has to do with emotions that are very subtle and pure. Obviously, in the beginning we struggle to understand or taste that state, but is something that you can learn to cultivate by doing pranayama, working with breath, in which your body settles. Your mind settles. Your imagination clarifies.
You can sit down in your practice of visualization, but also mantra, pranayama. You are concentrating on your breath and you are visualizing the energy flowing in you. In this way, you are remembering your Being. You are becoming aware of the energies of God in you and how they flow inside. So this is dynamic. This is a very integral process.
We sometimes teach these practices in different ways because people have different needs and also because the capacity of the consciousness is very broad and spatial. It is vast. When you get adept at imagination exercises and remembrance of divinity, you can learn to focus on your breath, your heart, your third eye, and your body at the same time. But in the beginning, it could be good to focus on one or the other, so that you have enough stable concentration to focus.
Sometimes focusing on the breath is enough. It is very easy to do that with practice and it is difficult in the beginning because we haven't been trained yet. So whatever exercise you adopt for concentration, it could be very good to simply focus on your breathing with pranayama or do an imagination exercise such as the candle, or mantralize the vowel O. Be aware of your breath, but also imagine a light in your heart. These are all states of remembrance.
When you are really focused, when you are really in prayer, you are obviously going to be engaging different practices throughout the day, but the most consistent practice in the state of remembrance is self-observation, self-remembrance. You do that by focusing on your pineal gland, but also learning to respond to life ethically. Remember your heart, your conscience.
Question: Regarding laziness, I sometimes feel I have so much energy to practice, to read, to contemplate, etc., etc., but some other time it happens that I have not much energy to do the practices, although deep inside I feel so much need to practice meditation. What is your opinion about this so much back and forth?
Instructor: It is the ego, the resistance of the mind. Our desires know that their life is threatened through this spiritual work, and so we face resistance of the mind. We know what is best. We know what we need to do. We feel the inquietude in our heart to practice deeply. However, because the ego knows that through these exercises it is going to be eliminated, it fights. We feel laziness. We feel depleted. We don't feel enthusiastic. We feel uninspired, etc. That is because the mind. Our own inner satan knows that its life is threatened. And so it challenges us at every step.
The solution is to comprehend where that laziness is coming from. Look within to see where it is in you and what activities your mind avoids. Sometimes not being inspired has to do with a lack of energy. This is why I like to do runes, especially. They give you a lot of force, a lot of power. They can push you to really meditate deeply, which is why we emphasize those practices again and again in this course, but also especially in our resources in this lecture, especially. You know, sometimes the way to resolve the problem is to put more fuel in your car. If you want to drive to a certain destination, you got to fuel up. You do that with working with the creative energies. That is how you are going to have the strength necessary to overcome obstacles.
Question: Must all runes be performed with a specific accompanying physical posture or can vocalizations be made like mantras while seated in a meditation posture?
Instructor: There are certain mantras that you can do on your own when you are seated, but the real benefit of the runes is that they are engaging forces in nature as a result of our physical position. They are a form of yoga, and when combined with prayer, concentration, awareness, attention, and remembrance, we learn to cultivate energy in our body, in our mind and heart.
Question: Also, where can I find the best description or perhaps video instruction about the runic postures and mantras? And also I am finding the runes that are paired with others?
Instructor: There is a video on Glorian Publishing’s website that show the seven vowels, especially. That is one of the primary practices we do, but perhaps in the future we will have other instructional videos that teach how to do all the runes. That would be something very useful for people, I think. The best way to perform the runes is as described in The Magic of the Runes by Samael Aun Weor. That book explains how the runes are paired, which practice has to do with what, and how to do them in very clear and simple directions.
All religions and mystical traditions that teach meditation always emphasize the need for a very difficult principle: renunciation. However, like striving or holy war within Middle Eastern mysticism, renunciation is very misunderstood.
Renunciation is typically recognized as giving up material possessions, abandoning society, in order to pursue a life of spirituality, seclusion, introspection, inner peace. In the Gnostic tradition we are very different, distinct, when we use this term. We emphasize that true renunciation is a psychological attitude. It is non-attachment, regardless of one’s material possessions, one’s external life. The truth is we can be physically very wealthy, and yet be true renunciates, or extremely poor and very attached to this world.
Renunciation is a state of being. It means to be perfectly sealed within oneself, to not waste any energy of the psyche, and this is really important when we talk about the principles of meditation, specifically because in the path of striving, we are learning to concentrate, to focus our will, our attention, to remember the presence of divinity at all times, without exception. It is impossible to do this if we do not give up bad behaviors, activities that drain us, attitudes and desires that create conflict, agitation, impatience, and a lack of presence with where we are at and what we are doing.
We have to save energy, and this is really important, this is essential. There are many people who practice meditation, but who do not renounce behaviors and activities that produce pain. When we invest ourselves into anger, into resentment, into pride, and especially lust, we basically have no energy left to experience reality, the Truth within ourselves. It is impossible to experience the divine, al-Haqq, the Truth, our Innermost Being, the divine, if our mind is afflicted with cravings, with desires, with attachments.
All of this obscures our perception. These are conditions of mind we have been emphasizing again and again. This is the lower soul, نَفْس nafs, which in the Gnostic tradition we denominate ego, or egos, that multiplicity of conflicting and contradictory desires and selves which all strive for dominance in our interior. So long as we do not renounce negative thinking, negative emotions, which are so problematic for humanity, and negative actions, we cannot know the Truth, and this is precisely what we want in Gnosis.
In any mystical tradition, we want to know divinity to have experiences, to know the truth of heavens, hells, the soul, of God, of masters, angels, prophets, Elohim, gods, buddhas, whatever we want to call those beings who were once like us, who in reality reached those heights of attainment because they renounced the ego, the self, conditioned psyche. Those beings are perfect, but the reality is that they were once like us, and we have that potential to be a pure perfect expression of God, to really know divinity from personal experience, not from belief, not from accepting a dogma, but from facts, from witnessing the truth within oneself, one’s experience, one’s consciousness.
How do we know that desire leads to suffering and that this is the reason why people do not have any knowledge of the Innermost, of God, of the Being, of الله Allah, whatever name we want to give to our divine source? The reality is that people spend their entire life chasing after desire. We are told by society to fulfill our passions. And it is interesting, we think that following our dreams, our passions, is what will lead us to a plateau of eternal happiness, a vague and amorphous heaven that has no grounds in experience. If we spend our lives chasing after passions and desires, which is really egotistical, if we are serious and analyze our own psyche, we find that these elements do not produce any type of cohesion, integrity, and divine knowledge.
The word passion, even in the literal sense, can refer to the Passion of Christ or the Master Aberamentho within the Gnostic tradition. Really the term passion means “suffering.” So when people tell us follow your passions, follow your desires, follow your dreams, we are really telling each other to be hypnotized, because most of our desires, behaviors, internal states, are conditioned, are negative, and we know this from the writings of Samael Aun Weor especially.
We are ninety seven percent ego, afflicted with problems, with pain. All of that has to be renounced if we really want to enter religion, but people do not want to give up greed, backbiting, envy, and especially lust, sexual craving, attachment to sensations that do not last. People chase after desires their entire life without really knowing why, nor realizing that to suffer in the acquisition of wealth is to suffer under the fear of losing it.
Our society is based upon accumulation of everything: sensations, alcohol, drugs, sex, violence, sarcasm, amusement. This is why the Qur’an teaches that really, the life of this world is transient and has no real basis in spirituality, and if we are honest we see that most of our behaviors are precisely this. We crave something. We work to get it and if we get what we want, we suffer because we are afraid we can lose it, perhaps that job, that career, that spouse, that we fought so hard to achieve. Even Jesus said this truth in the book of Mark 8:36:
For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? ―Mark 8:36
We can pursue a life of materialism, of wealth, of worldliness, of being successful in society, but if that is all we are focused on, if that is our internal quality of being, it means we have a very superficial life. Even Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” It is vain. It is empty of any profound significance, and if anyone studies religion or meditation, it is because they want to know something more. This is why we study the principles of meditation so that we can know the truth for ourselves, to have a life that is vibrant and filled with happiness and compassion for others, of contentment, because we know divinity and experienced the Truth.
The Truth is a form of bliss and treasure that is wealthy to the soul, but that can only be obtained when we give up our psychology, our psychological attachments, a craving for this or that, the constant churning of the mind, the agitation of the mind that only wants to accumulate sensations and impressions and to go to the grave.
Real wealth is spiritual. It is internal. These have to do with qualities of consciousness like altruism, which binds communities together, with selfless love, conscious love even for one’s worst enemies and persecutors; patience under ordeals and hardships that are excruciating and incomprehensible. Real virtue is the foundation of a spiritual existence, of being. You cannot experience the virtues of the Essence, the soul, the consciousness, if we do not remove the impurities, if we do not abandon activities and behaviors that take the energy of the consciousness and squander it. This is why we study ethics in the beginning of any meditative science, especially within Sufism and Gnosticism. This is why Jesus also taught in the book of Matthew 6:19-21:
19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
People can steal your possessions, can burn your home to the ground, can take your family away, can imprison you, can humiliate you, can cause you physical harm, and yet nobody can take your virtue away from you but yourself. Virtue is like a shield that protects us from many bad situations. But of course, divinity guides the process by which we learn by facing hardships. This is why we studied the path of striving in the former lecture. But with renunciation we are learning to deepen our effort, our willpower, our work so that we are very defined, very precise in our practice and our intentions, in our actions.
No one can steal away from you your consciousness. Only we can give away our soul by giving into behaviors and activities that create pain. We are responsible for our own psyche. No one else is responsible for why we suffer. If we had no ego, we would be an angel. We would be perfected in bliss. But the reality is we invest our identity too much within a multiplicity of desires, and this is why we suffer: we are conflicted, we are split.
Whatever you treasure, whatever you value most, that is where your heart will be. If your satisfaction is based on material things, when you lose them you will suffer. This is the fundamental law of causality. But if we place our value in divine states, in mercy, forgiveness that is based upon conscience, knowledge of the law, the law of divinity, شريعة Shari’ah, then we will have happiness even if situations outside are very arduous, difficult.
There is nothing worse in terms of suffering than a wounded conscience. Even Friedrich Nietzsche stated in his Thus Spoke Zarathustra that “the bite of conscience teaches men to bite.” Really, if we fulfill the law within ourselves of divinity, of ethics, conscience, judgment, الْدِّين al-Din, “the religion” in Arabic or גבורה Geburah in Kabbalah, the justice of the divine, we will march upon the path of intuition, success, knowing how to navigate the reality of life without confusion, without unnecessary pain.
The Being is a true treasure. Knowledge of divinity from experience is to possess the greatest gift that one could ever possess in life, which is why the Hadith Qudsi states the following:
Allah says, “I was a hidden treasure, and I wished to be known, so I created a creation (mankind), then made Myself known to them, and they recognized Me.” ―Hadith Qudsi
Spiritual poverty in this lecture means to be a beggar of the spirit, to really recognize that we lack the qualities we admire so much in masters like Jesus, Buddha, Krishna, Moses, Muhammad, Samael Aun Weor. We are really destitute, if we are honest. We have a lot of conflict, and pain, and sorrows and afflictions, and this is why we are interested in spirituality, because we want a solution, how to rectify our own errors to cease suffering. This means one has to become like a beggar, really yearning for the truth, aspiring for knowledge with that longing like a fire that burns, even with pain, but it is the fire that gives us light in our daily states, the inquietudes of our own soul that long to return to the Being. Jesus said in the book of Matthew 5:3:
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. ―Matthew 5:3
This is from the Beatitudes. Now I think some of the translations given in the Bible are very inaccurate, as with many scriptures. “Poor in spirit,” in Greek is πτωχός ptōxós. It means: “to crouch or cower like a beggar.” It is a “descriptive quality of begging, to be bent over, to be deeply destitute in a figurative sense.” Really this verse should say:
Blessed are the beggars in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. ―Matthew 5:3
We have to recognize that our life really does not have much value if we do not know divinity, and this is a type of sincerity and honesty one has to come to in relation to one’s own experiences, otherwise one is not going to be interested in wanting to change. Jesus in this statement was pointing out a very profound teaching: that we need the psychological attitude of receptivity, of striving, of yearning, to receive from the Being and know from the Being, to receive the Spirit from mystical experiences like astral projections, out of body experiences, awakening in the dream state, as we have come back to many times in this course. This is why Homer taught:
It is better to be a beggar on Earth than a king in the empire of shadows. ―Homer
We are in this world begging for wisdom. It is better to be a beggar in this spiritual path than to have all of the wealth, materially, physically like many other people in society who really are just demons, people with power, influence, but through egotism. It is better to be a beggar of the spirit, because the real treasure is in the soul, not in the external world.
This is the seminal pearl that the merchant of the biblical parable sought to acquire by selling all of his goods, so that he could really enter heaven. This is not a literal story. It reflects a psychological truth, a fundamental shift in our attitude.
Do we practice meditation sometimes?
Do we spend our time in superfluous activities?
How much of our time and energy our will, our actions, our activities, our behaviors are really invested in spiritual things?
Do we study a little bit, practice a little bit, but the rest of our day indulge in hatred, pride, vanity?
How much are we willing to really give up, to direct towards spiritual practice, to really achieve wisdom, the happiness and freedom of the soul we long for?
These are some questions we will come back to, that we will analyze and reflect upon.
Rumi summed up these principles very deeply:
When you enter the world of poverty and practice it, God bestows upon you kingdoms and worlds that you never imagined. You become ashamed of what you longed for and desired at first. ―Rumi
Piscean and Aquarian Spirituality: Renouncing Distractions
So some people feel that if they renounce certain behaviors and activities that they will have nothing, but the reality is that the kingdom of the soul is so vast and incomprehensible, the states of the Being in our experience are infinite. The Truth is infinite, is “the unknown from moment to moment,” says Samael Aun Weor. Therefore, if we give up our conditioned cage and have the courage to step out of prison, we can know that liberation for ourselves.
It is often documented how people who have been in prison for a long time are afraid of leaving because they do not know anyone else. The same is true of our psychological state, but renunciation is precisely having the courage and the will to give up mistaken psychological states.
So, what is a worldly life? Typically, people define this as having a job, or a career, going to school, having friends, indulging in entertainment, travelling, watching television shows, going to religious services, etc. It was necessary in the past within the spiritual evolutionary arc of humanity to abandon society, to focus exclusively within. This was known astrologically as the Piscean era.
It was the abandonment of the world for the sake of inner development. This is a conservative influence that sought to conserve the best values for the sake of the individual. So people who wanted to know this knowledge had to find a school of initiation and prove themselves over many years before they would be admitted. That knowledge was only given by teacher to student―very conservative, based off of lineages, hierarchies, and tests.
We are now in the Era of Aquarius, an Aquarian spirituality. This has to do with the immersion of the individual within society for the sake of spiritual development of self and other, specifically through expedient methods. Aquarius is symbolized by the Water Bearer, the water carrier. This has to do with how this mystical knowledge is now public. It is now available to everybody without exception.
It is not necessary today to live in a khanqah or خانقاه khaniqah (Persian), a Sufi retreat lodge or center, to go to a temple, a monastery, a place of refuge, away from the world, because the esoteric knowledge of the transformation of the self is now completely available to everyone, to the public. Most meditative traditions today are still very Piscean, conservative, especially the Sufis. This greatest knowledge is kept secret by a guru, a master, a teacher, a sheikh, until the student has passed even decades of tests to prove their candidacy.
The Era of Aquarius began in the 1960’s and was initiated by the writings of Samael Aun Weor. This is very significant. We use his writings specifically because they are very clear. They provide a practical basis of understanding and applying the principles of meditation and religion. We use this, his teachings, for their pragmatism, their practicality, and their lucidity, as compared to many Piscean writings that are very cryptic. However, as you have noticed, we use a lot of the different scriptures and teachings from the past, the Piscean knowledge, explaining it through the mysticism of the Aquarian Era.
We know both teachings. They are really one science given in two different ways: one conservative and one liberated, free to the public. In the Era of Pisces, renunciation had to do with people abandoning their home, their life, their job, to live in solitude, to practice austerities. And if you are familiar with Sufism, a lot of the great Sufi masters lived that life precisely. They were very renowned for their life of renunciation, giving up many distractions, activities, and things that really did not have any importance.
In the Aquarian Era, renunciation is life in the world, but to not be of it. This is very profound and very distinct. It is much more difficult than leaving one’s country or leaving one’s home city to go live in the mountains of Tibet to meditate. Renunciation in the Aquarian Era is much more profound and radical. It is also completely transformative and expansive, because the wisdom we can acquire from living in society while renouncing the ego will provide much more lasting and penetrative wisdom.
We find the fuel and food for meditation in our daily life. This is very well known in the Fourth Way School of Ouspensky. We do not have to live the life of a monk or a yogi, a fakir sleeping in the wilderness on a bed of nails, but we can learn to develop the best qualities of those paths in balance. This is known as the Fourth Way. This is the Gnostic path. It is much harder to work in this way upon ourselves, but the results are going to be much more solid, stable.
Anybody can abandon the world and gain a lot of abilities: concentration, clarity of mind, focus, perception, imaginative knowledge, inner experiences. They can do so by attending a monastery and dedicating themselves to practice, for a period of time, sometimes months or years in certain traditions. However, the reality is that when these people return to the world after being away from society, its chaos, its energy, its density, they become distracted again. Many people have related how after a meditation retreat, they come back to the cities and they feel like they lost all their development. It is because it is very difficult to develop consistent willpower when we are surrounded by so much distractions, so many impressions of life that really pull us in a lot of directions, keep us very fractured in our attention. This is why many people become confused again. They feel lost especially after having attended a retreat.
Therefore, Aquarian spirituality is definitive. If you can learn to meditate in the big cities, on a train, on a noisy bus, in an apartment where your next door neighbor is blasting music, if you learn to help humanity and annihilate your ego under those pressures, your spirituality is going to be much more robust, very flexible, very firm, strong, like a well-tempered sword.
Sadly, though, despite the fact that we have this knowledge, we have a lot of leisure time, in the West especially, we waste much of our time and energy and our enthusiasm in things that really do not have much value.
We are really in an era of information, as symbolized by the Water Carrier. This knowledge has been catalyzed through the internet, through multimedia, by film, by technology, but sadly, while there is this knowledge, there is also a lot of knowledge that does not produce real fruit. As much as we are in an era of information, we are also in an era of misinformation, and so we can be very attracted to spirituality, but we use our time poorly, whether too much internet, television, entertainment shows, Facebook even, social media. Some people spend hours playing games and which really do not develop any type of comprehension in our soul. They are really distractions.
The reality is that as much as we may want to practice Gnosis, because we invest our energy in activities that waste energy, when it comes time to meditate, we feel too tired, strained, or overwhelmed, or we feel incapable, and it is because we did it to ourselves. Real renunciation is giving up that which diverts us from spirituality in every instant of our life.
We do not have to give up our job, to travel to Nepal, to go to the East to visit a mosque or a masjid or temple and to travel to Jerusalem, the holy city, to find ourselves and find God. The reality is that we have to find divinity in our daily life, amongst the most mundane and difficult circumstances. And so the Qur’an as a scripture of very profound wisdom elaborates some beautiful points in relation to what we have just stated:
And the worldly life is not but amusement and diversion; but the home of the Hereafter is best for those who fear Allah, so will you not reason? ―Al-An’am 32
The reality is that when we live in balance and harmony within our three brains, our intellect, our emotions, and our motor-instinctive-sexual actions, divinity will provide for us. This is scripturally emphasized in the Qur’an such as surah 6 verse 160:
Whoever brings a good deed will get a tenfold reward for it. ―Al-An'am 160
Or from surah 57 verse 11:
Who would give Allah a handsome loan so that He may give him a manifold reward? ―Al-Ḥadīd 11
Through living with wisdom, we can create a life of spiritual and material wealth, of bounty. There are really two parts of the spiritual equation:
1. Knowing how to live in this world, fulfill our responsibilities and
2. To do so with conscious ethics.
One without the other does not work. You need both. When we become spiritual and use our wealth for the sake of spirituality, to use our time and energy and abilities in a conscious way, we receive a lot of help from divinity. We become spiritual when we use our wealth for the sake of our spirituality, and it is not the other way around. Nothing wrong with having possessions, yet there is something wrong if we simply are possessed by materialism, when this is all we think about and do.
Renunciation on the Tree of Life
We study the Tree of Life to understand what renunciation is, where we came from, where we are, and where we are going.
So renunciation is predicated on the former station, especially repentance. Repentance relates to the Ninth Sphere, as we have related the ninth surah of the Qur’an, Tawbah, or ٱلتَّوْبَة al-Tawbah, “the Return,” or the repentance relating to יסוד Yesod. In Hebrew this is the foundation. This is the work with the creative sexual energy.
Repentance is the Ninth Sphere. We really show remorse and sincerity in our work when we are working effectively with our creative energies, the force of life, spiritually and physically in us.
Renunciation relates to מלכות Malkuth. מלכות Malkuth means “Kingdom” in Hebrew. It is the physical body, our physicality. The path of striving is a bridge from מלכות Malkuth, our physical body, to יסוד Yesod, our creative, vital, sexual energies, even to תפארת Tiphereth, the sphere of beauty, beautiful action, the human consciousness, willpower, the soul.
Notice how we ascend this Tree of Life, we enter spheres, aspects of reality that are more subtle. They have materiality and energy, consciousness even, but at more subtle levels of experience. From the top to the bottom we have the most rarified, simplified, and pure, relating to divine states. And when that force of divinity descends, down this graphic, it becomes material, dense, and more manifest.
We are in מלכות Malkuth the physical world, the physical body, and יסוד Yesod, we sometimes denominate the vital body, the vital energies, the chi within holistic Eastern medicine, such as Chinese acupuncture and many other sciences that study the vital energies that permeate and saturate our physical body. The fourth dimension is יסוד Yesod. Our energies reside in a different level of nature.
Above that we have הוד Hod and נצח Netzach, meaning “Splendor” and “Victory” in Hebrew. This is the fifth dimension. This is where we go to dream. This is a reality, a dimension, in which we have actual experience. It is a real state and quality of perception. It is a real place outside of the physical body. It is the world of emotions and thought. Even though physically we cannot see thoughts or emotions, we sense them. This is הוד Hod and נצח Netzach at our level, in this physical body, in this physical existence. But when we go to sleep at night, the physical body rests and the Essence, the soul with our thoughts and feelings, our will, enters those dimensions.
The problem is that we are unconscious. We do not have any knowledge or remembrance of those states. We may have some dreams here and there in the beginning, but we do not really remember what we were doing within those states. This is why within the Greek tradition, Hypnos and Thanatos, sleep and death, were brothers. If you want to know how conscious you will be when you die, examine those hours when you go to sleep. This is the meaning of the Greek teaching. And the Qur’an also emphasizes many beautiful teachings about how Allah takes the souls of the disciples at night and returns them to the body at a term appointed, a direct reference to how we enter those states although unconscious (Qur’an 6:59-60; 39:42).
This has to become a conscious experience, to awaken in those dreams, to stop dreaming. We do so by learning to be awake in the physical world, vigilant as a consciousness, working with our energies, יסוד Yesod, and learning to observe our thoughts and feelings and impulses to act without investing our energies into negative thinking, negative feeling, and negative action, the ego.
תפארת Tiphereth is the sphere of willpower, we have mentioned many times. It is the beauty of the soul. It is beautiful action. It is the power of the Essence that is developed. It is concentration. It is the will of God when it obeys the higher five סְפִירוֹת Sephiroth, a Hebrew term for “emanations.” גבורה Geburah is “Justice,” the law, شريعة Shari’ah, the conscience of our soul, the divine soul, الْدِّين al-Din, the religion. It is the law, that which tells us what is right and what is wrong in our heart. And usually with our willpower we either obey it or ignore it. In most people we tend to ignore our deepest inquietudes of a spiritual nature and follow our thoughts our thoughts: נצח Netzach, our feelings: הוד Hod, or our instincts within יסוד Yesod or even the physical body.
In order to overcome suffering, we have to learn to follow our conscience, inner judgment, which knows how to act in life with comprehension and ethics. This really has to do with our consciousness, גבורה Geburah.
Beyond that is חֶסֶד Chesed in Hebrew meaning “Mercy.” The Bible refers to חֶסֶד Chesed, the Spirit, as the רוח אלהים Ruach Elohim, the spirit of God that floated upon the face of the waters of existence in order to create life. This is in the book of Genesis. In Arabic, حيم Rahim, or ٱلرَّحِيمِ al-Rahim, is “the Merciful,” is the spirit of God, compassion, divine love.
Above that we have a trinity representative of three forces that expresses one light: כֶּתֶר Kether, the “Crown,” חָכְמָה Chokmah, “Wisdom,” and בִּינָה Binah, “Intelligence.” These are not three people, but intelligences and forces within our interior. This force is known as Christ amongst the Gnostics, or Father, Son, Holy Spirit. It is the light of Allah, the unity.
The problem and division amongst Muslims and Christians has to do with the misunderstanding of this point. Kabbalah clears away the confusion. The Christians are wrong that the trinity is three people as one God. These are not anthropomorphic figures in the clouds. These are forces, principles, archetypes, blueprints for the creation of any existence. These are very rarified and beautiful divine states. This is why in Islam, in that tradition, God cannot be depicted in any form because divinity is formless. These three forces are formless. They are intelligences, principles.
Above that we have the Absolute from which that light emanates, the Nothing, “the No,” الله Allah in Arabic, the negation of all manifested existence. It is the potentiality of every created thing that rests until activated, until it enters manifestation, which is the Tree of Life.
Why study the Tree of Life in relation to renunciation? Because the whole point of spirituality is to renounce lower states of being in order to achieve higher states as mapped out by this graphic, especially the two wings on the sides of the two pillars of the left and the right. It is the wings of pleroma amongst the Gnostics, the entrance into heavenly states.
The physical body and the etheric, vital, creative body of יסוד Yesod are really two aspects of the same thing. They penetrate each other. Likewise, with the other סְפִירוֹת Sephiroth. These spheres are not in some vertical point in space, but exist in us here and now within our experience.
When you sit to practice meditation, you may find that the body is agitated. Your energies are active, flowing within you. This is יסוד Yesod in מלכות Malkuth.
We could be surging with emotion, which is הוד Hod.
Our mind can be racing, that is נצח Netzach.
And our willpower is weak and unable to concentrate on one thing, and that is תפארת Tiphereth.
The path of striving teaches us how to overcome נצח Netzach, the mind, הוד Hod, the emotions, יסוד Yesod, our instincts, and מלכות Malkuth, the body.
Perfect concentration, striving in the path has to do with reaching תפארת Tiphereth. Our willpower is never distracted by anything, not by thoughts, feelings, desires, at all. And it also does not take any effort when it is perfected. This is תפארת Tiphereth, the beauty of the human soul.
Concentration is important: the ability to focus on an object serenely and clearly―with concentration, without being distracted by anything. This is fundamental. We do this by learning to renounce wrong ways of thinking, wrong ways of feeling, and desires.
So the principles of renunciation integrate with striving and repentance. These are different aspects of the same thing. We are studying these principles, separately, but also together because they can give us a lot of insight into where we are at.
If you sit to practice meditation and you find your mind is all over the place, your emotions are surging, your energies are depleted, you are going to find that it is very difficult to concentrate at all. This is why we renounce lustful actions, especially fornication, or known as the orgasm, because that energy which can be given to the soul is wasted, expelled for a few moments of pleasure or sensations. We explain this in synthesis in the lecture on repentance.
With renunciation, we learn to give up lower states of being to achieve higher ones. As Samael Aun Weor stated throughout his writings, “We must become what we are not.” We have to learn to renounce egotistical consciousness in order to obtain liberated consciousness. The best way to do this is by working with the creative energy יסוד Yesod, the foundation. Notice that it is the center of this glyph. It is the middle pillar, the pillar of equilibrium. You will obtain the greatest solidity and focus in your practices by working with your creative sexual energy, without exception. It is the waters of renunciation. As Samael Aun Weor stated in The Aquarian Message:
Whosoever wants to die in the Lord must wash their feet in the waters of renunciation. ―Samael Aun Weor, The Aquarian Message
This is very beautiful, very profound. By learning to renounce animal sexuality, we adopt human and divine sexuality, which means that the creative sexual impulse is never expelled. It is the energy of bliss, of עֵדֶן Eden, and we can learn to cultivate that whether we are single or married.
Notice that renunciation does not have to do with becoming celibate, living in a monastery and avoiding any kind of sexual temptations. Most people who enter monasteries and try to control the sexual energy, but return to society, lose their stability, their balance, because those impressions are the most difficult to control, and yet it is the entrance to renunciation. We have to learn to renounce animal passion. The Sufis beautifully explained this many times in their writings, that desire is the origin of suffering and that it is شَيْطَان Shaitan, שָּׂטָן Satan in Hebrew, the adversary or el-Nafsu-l-Ammara, the lower animal soul that inclines to evil.
Evil has to do not with a moral sense of indignation, but impure states of the ego which produce suffering. If you really want to enter the path of meditation, calming the body (מלכות Malkuth), equalizing the heart and its emotions (הוד Hod), stabilizing and calming the mind (נצח Netzach), we need willpower that knows how to use this sexual energy. It is the power of life. You can create a god within you, divinity within you, the truth, when your willpower knows how to direct יסוד Yesod up, especially within the spinal column.
So this Tree of Life maps out the body as well. We have three trinities which relate to our three brains. The top trinity with our head, the middle trinity with our heart, and a lower trinity with our sexuality. And מלכות Malkuth can relate to our feet. Our spine has energetic currents that raise the creative impulse up to our mind and then to our heart to produce the wings of the angels, the masters.
To become a master means to master everything about our psychology, including the sexual impulse. If we do not do that, if we ignore sexuality, if we try to justify it or repress it, that energy will act, but in subversive and destructive ways. It is better to learn how to understand one's impulses and to redirect them with intelligence, with wisdom, with the supremacy of the divine, the will of divinity in us.
An Astral Experience of Renunciation
This quote reminds me of an experience I had many years ago that I hope will be very useful for you.
Whosoever wants to die in the Lord (to die in one’s ego) must wash their feet in the waters of renunciation. ―Samael Aun Weor, The Aquarian Message
I remember in the astral plane, a long time ago, I awoke and was exploring the backyard at my old home. I was being followed by an entity that I knew was a witch, a practitioner of black magic, a demon: a being that has awakened powers within desire, within ego. This person had disguised herself as a sibling of mine that I have in the physical world, and was spying on me and trying to get close.
When this being got close to me in this astral world known as הוד Hod in the Tree of Life, I decided to defend myself to make this being reveal her true form. We do this through prayers and conjurations, exercises that invoke divinity in order to make whatever entity we confront, to vibrate with the higher dimensions or סְפִירוֹת Sephiroth on the Tree of Life. So I was performing a conjuration, “In the name of Jupiter, Father of all the gods, I conjure you!”―with the mantras “Te Vigos Cosilim!” I covered my solar plexus with my left hand and extended my right hand outward and the form of the pentagram, and I saw a spark of energy emerge and shoot out, which, when it touched this entity, this witch, suddenly I was surrounded by a group of sorcerers.
It was about four of them, mostly female disciples. One of them was a huge witch. She was a giant figure who stood in the circle with me and grabbed me by my solar plexus and lifted me up in the air. And of course, we know that if we don't protect our solar plexus, we can be disabled in the dream state. The solar plexus is where we store our creative energy. It is like a battery, and if you are exposed in that way, you can be disabled or drained. This master of the Black Lodge did not steal my energy, but merely incapacitated me. I remember looking at this group and they were studying me. I felt a lot of sorrow when looking at the eyes of this hierarch of the Black Lodge, a very awakened witch, which if you look at the eyes of these entities in the astral plane, you can see the depths of קְלִיפּוֹת Klipoth, which if you look at this Tree of Life, has to do with the nine inverted סְפִירוֹת Sephiroth beneath מלכות Malkuth, the hell realms. I could see the darkness of her state, a very profound painful, impure quality, but very awake, very alert―alert as a demon. I felt a lot of sorrow for this being before me and for this group for feeling proud that they had incapacitated me.
The only thing I could do was speak to them. I said, firmly, and with strength, “Get thee hence! Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and only Him shalt thou serve!”―from Matthew 4:10. When reprimanding this master of the Black Lodge, I saw, within the depths of her abysmal psyche, a pang of remorse, so lost and smothered within the cage of her ego, to which she hissed at me vehemently like a gigantic and fierce cougar.
I remember, after speaking with them briefly, this witch set me down and let me walk away. And I remember looking back as I was walking across the neighbor's property in the astral plane, seeing this group of witches rejoicing, feeling that they had accomplished some kind of victory. Feeling a lot of sorrow and pain in my heart, I suddenly realized what I needed to do. I looked up to the sky and I invoked, “In the name of Christ, by the power of Christ, for the Majesty of Christ! Venerable Master Samael Aun Weor.” Every time I called out to Christ, a divine bell, beautifully imitated within the cathedrals and churches of the physical world, resounded with its metallic power throughout the infinite. And I remember those witches suddenly disappeared. They were gone. They vanished into the underworld from my sight, and Samael Aun Weor was standing close to where they were previously, this group of witches.
He looked at me with a lot of compassion and gestured for me to walk over to him. He said, “Come quickly!” I approached him flying that short distance to reach his proximity and he showed me on the ground a pool of pristine beautiful water and two children washing their feet in those waters. I soon awoke and after meditating for many years on this experience, I have comprehended again and again this statement from The Aquarian Message:
Whosoever wants to die in the Lord must wash their feet in the waters of renunciation. ―Samael Aun Weor, The Aquarian Message
Unfortunately, like many of us in the Gnostic movement, I have ties to the Black Lodge that I am working to remove, to comprehend, to overcome. It is a very painful process, to recognize that we have those defects of perdition, of witchcraft or sorcery. It is very rare to find someone in the movement who does not have this. But the symbol is very interesting: two children washing their feet in beautiful waters―to renounce.
We have to learn to renounce the ego, whatever ego is really defined by our most negative qualities. We do so by purifying our consciousness, by becoming like children, innocent―giving up states and qualities that are detrimental to ourselves and others. The way that we do so is through meditating. Conserve your energy. Work with יסוד Yesod, because the waters of יסוד Yesod are precisely the energy that will give you the capacity to change.
When you work with pranayama, with Ham Sah, with alchemy, certain runes, sacred rites of rejuvenation, etc., we learn to purify our psyche. Everything in this Tree of Life gravitates towards יסוד Yesod. There would be no Tree of Life without the sexual energy, without the foundation of our spiritual temple. You cannot balance your heart and emotions, your mental states, or even relax your body well if you are not working with these waters, daily.
So that experience really humbled me. It showed me what I needed to do. Those are the same waters, really, cited in stories like The Wizard of Oz, even, in its symbolic folklore. In such childhood tales of the Wicked Witch of the West being disintegrated by the waters of renunciation, in order to liberate, in that story, in a symbolic way, the Winkies: the winged monkeys that are a symbol of the desires that have trapped our soul in hell. You liberate your consciousness by working with this force. It is the force of purity. It is the force of ablution within Islam.
Muslims, before they perform prayer, wash their hands, their face, parts of their body, in order to be suitable for prayer and remembrance of divinity. Ablution (Arabic الوضوء al-wudu) really has to do with working with the sexual energy in its most esoteric sense. You purify yourself with this force. This energy is what grants you the capacity to ascend. You cannot renounce the lower seven סְפִירוֹת Sephiroth without this foundation.
So no matter how difficult your particular path might be, if you are a person who committed a lot of wrong in this life, perhaps, even you were a black magician in past lives, you can change by working with the waters of renunciation, by working with prayer and purity.
Learn to renounce the lower seven סְפִירוֹת Sephiroth in order to ascend in your meditations.
Let your body, your physicality, rest. Work with energy (יסוד Yesod), your vital forces, whether through mantras, prayers, vocalizations, pranayamas, or even alchemy.
Withdraw yourself from your emotions, those negative emotions which creates so much pain. Renounce them. Do not give them your attention. Do not invest yourself in them. Observe and relax your heart.
Likewise, your thoughts. Let your thoughts calm by observing them.
And when you are perfectly in a state of equanimity, when you are concentrated within, not distracted, but serene and clear, you can begin to experience perceptions related to the top of the Tree of Life; from the consciousness, from גבורה Geburah and even from the Spirit , חֶסֶד Chesed, الرحيم Al-Rahim, the Merciful, and even beyond. This is why Samael Aun Weor stated in The Narrow Way:
We need to die, to die, and to die within ourselves, and to renounce, renounce, and renounce, and to cease existing within all of the seven cosmos in order to have the right TO BE within the Absolute. ―Samael Aun Weor, The Narrow Way
This is a very famous meditation within the writings of Samael Aun Weor, especially Igneous Rose and other books, in which we abandon the lower vehicles by renouncing them, these lower spheres in order to enter higher states. You can study Igneous Rose, especially the chapter “Esoteric Discipline of Mind,” which relates this, but I also believe in the book Aztec Christic Magic [see the chapter "Meditation"].
I'd like to relate some quotes that emphasize these points, what renunciation is, how we achieve it, how we understand the transience of life for our own benefit.
Abu Bakr said: "Our abode is transitory, our life therein is but a loan, our breaths are numbered, and our indolence is manifest." By this he signified that the world is too worthless to engage our thoughts; for whenever you occupy yourself with what is perishable, you are made blind to that which is eternal; the friends of God turn their backs on the world and the flesh which veil them from Him, and they decline to act as if they were owners of a thing that is really the property of another. ―Al-Hujwiri, Revelation of the Mystery
In synthesis, do not be attached to the fruits of your actions. Life is transitory. Even in serious practitioners, we have a lot of laziness. I believe the Dalai Lama even stated that he gets up at 3 or 4 in the morning every day to meditate, and even he says “I have a lot of laziness in me.” So we are indolent. It is manifest when we really look, when we examine ourselves.
Do not engage your thoughts in distractions, but learn to occupy your concentration upon the eternal within states of being.
We learn such practices by developing concentration, when we no longer let ourselves identify with worldly impressions or negative states that veil or obscure our perceptions of the presence of our Being.
Turning our back on the world means to reject the beliefs of humanity. Those beliefs that say, “You will be happy when you do this and have a bank account and a car and a job and a career, a family.” We can have all these things and learn to be renunciants. It just means that we are not attached. We do not identify and waste energy in external things.
To be veiled is to be asleep as a consciousness, to not perceive divinity within our own actions because the consciousness is obscured. It is conditioned. We have to remember the presence of God. The quality of God and our states here and now, for divinity is always with us, even if we do not see Him. As stated in Surah 50 verse 16, or the Surah al-Qaf:
And We have already created man and know what his soul whispers to him, and We are closer to him than his jugular vein. ―Qur’an 50:16
Divinity knows all of our thoughts, what our ego whispers within our three brains, to act and to be fed. And if we really pay attention to this internal dynamic and interchange of thinking, feeling, and acting / impulses, we can learn to see that we are not thought, feeling, or impulse, instinct. We see that divinity is closer to us than we thought. We perceive qualities of being as we have explained in this course.
The quote continues from Al-Hujwiri's Revelation of the Mystery:
And he said: "O God, give me plenty of the world and make me desirous of renouncing it!" This saying has a hidden sense, viz.: "First bestow on me worldly goods that I may give thanks for them, and then help me to abstain from them for Thy sake, so that I may have the treble merit of thanksgiving and liberality and abstinence, and that my poverty may be voluntary, not compulsory.” ―Al-Hujwiri, Revelation of the Mystery
Lawful and Unlawful Renunciation
Our psychological attitude is what matters. It comes to mind Krishnamurti. He was a great renunciate. He made a lot of money from his lectures. He lived wealthfully, yet, he was not attached to his career, his possessions, his car, his home. So, we can learn to be the same if that's really what divinity wants for us.
There is nothing wrong with having possessions. What matters is that we are not addicted to them. We are not distracted by them. We are not wasting our time with too many activities. We should learn to minimize them.
This relates to Sufi teachings on what is lawful and unlawful within Islam. This is a very common term used to relate to how divinity allows or supports certain material or even spiritual things. You can even think of the حلال halal, the term meaning, food that is pure: to be حلال halal. To be praised. הלל Hilel in Hebrew, or حلال Halal in Arabic, such as not eating impure foods like pork, not drinking alcohol. These are things that are unlawful amongst Muslims and Sufis, and really even among Gnostics, because those elements will condition our consciousness.
If you want success with these studies, you must neither drink alcohol, nor smoke, nor eat too much red meat. Do not worry; cultivate the habit of being happy. ―Samael Aun Weor, Aztec Christic Magic: “Coatlicue”
And so we avoid eating unlawful food, even. This is the meaning of the term. Lawful is that which will purify the consciousness. Unlawful is that which conditions it, in synthesis.
Having wealth through upright living, in a lawful way, in a beneficial way for oneself and others, is a stipulation of the Aquarian teachings. The Sufis relate some beautiful points about this:
The Sufis have differing opinions in the matter of renunciation (zuhd). Some of them say that one need only renounce the unlawful, because the lawful has been made permissible by God Most High. When God benefits His servant with lawful property and the servant in turn worships Him with gratitude for it, it is not preferable for him to leave it with his own will rather than keeping it with God’s permission. ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
So having wealth for the sake of supporting a spiritual community, for helping humanity, is beautiful, is wonderful, and even necessary. Let us remember three factors for effective spirituality: death, birth, and sacrifice. Meaning: annihilate the ego, die to the ego, and create the soul through virtuous action, to give birth to our spiritual consciousness by giving birth through the sexual creative energy. And lastly, serving humanity selflessly in whatever capacity we have. In Sufism, this is known as فناء fana, annihilation; بقاء baqa, subsistence; and زكاة zakat, charity.
The Sufis emphasize that in order to really be in the Being, to be present, to subsist in God, we have to eliminate the impurities through annihilation (فناء fana) and that way, our actions are much more charitable, profound, impactful. Samael Aun Weor spoke abundantly about the rights of Canchorrita. When we practice the teachings these three factors, we will by law of Karma receive food, clothing and shelter from divinity.
34. We must be content with the rights of "Canchorrita."
It is a law of cause and effect. If we renounce behaviors that are animal and destructive, if we renounce unlawful behaviors and activities in accordance with divinity, we will be provided for a space to live, to meditate, to work happily.
Our level of being attracts our life. Do you want better circumstances? Then renounce the ego.
Do not engage in unlawful behaviors, and I am not talking about physical laws in different countries, but in terms of the law of the soul, of the Being.
What is ethical? Behaviors that produce happiness or pain?
Let us choose to follow our conscience. We elevate our level of being by renouncing lower levels of being. This is the key, especially we want to have stability in meditation, consistency in our meditation, focus, concentration, deeper serenity, peace.
The Virtue and Obligation of Renunciation
Renunciation also exists as we learn to be content with what we have, no longer desiring through the disease of “more.”
Desire is fundamentally the cause of suffering. It is a virtue to be content with what we have. People have many beliefs about life and spirituality, and yet they suffer a lot. We can have wealth and yet be the most miserable people on the Earth. There is a statistic that states that if you earn fifty thousand dollars a year or more, you are among the top 5% wealthiest people in the world. Sadly, even though people have abundance, we tend to suffer from internal lack. Therefore, to be attached to worldliness, to perishable things, is absurd.
Renunciation exists when we cease chasing after superfluous things, concentrating seriously on meditation each day, giving ourselves more time to practice, to deepen our awareness, to deepen our states. There is virtue even when we have abundance, but we can learn to even give what we have, to our degree, so that others can benefit. This is how we really refine our spiritual life, to sacrifice for others through compassion.
Let us read some quotes in relation to the writings of Al-Qushayri, The Principles of Sufism, who explains these principles very beautifully about the virtue and obligation of renunciation:
Other Sufis say that renunciation of the unlawful is an obligation, while renunciation of the lawful is a virtue. From this point of view, as long as the servant is patient with his state of little property, satisfied with what God Most High has apportioned for him, and content with what he has been given, he is more perfect than one who lives richly and comfortably in the world. God Most High has urged people to abstain from the world by His saying, "Say: The provision of this world is but small, while the next is better for whoever is God―wary" (4:77) and in many other verses that may be cited disparaging the world and recommending abstention from it. ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
So how is renunciation relevant to the study and practice of meditation?
There are many people who complain that they cannot meditate. Their environment is loud. They have a difficult economic situation. Some people complain that they live in a big city, are surrounded by noisy people, obnoxious neighbors, loud dogs, loud children, a small apartment, a difficult roommate, no physical teacher or school guru, missionary, group involved or nearby; one has a difficult spouse or feels they are having conflict in their marriage, their relationship, not having a separate meditation space.
While having a separate meditation space is good, while it's good to have a clean home, while it is beneficial to have spiritual companions or spouse that one can work with in life, a partner, people fail to recognize that if they want better circumstances, they must fundamentally change their level of being.
There are many people who think that they can only advance in meditation if they are married, if they have a Gnostic spouse―and this is not true. What matters is our quality of being.
We will receive what we need and accordance with the law, which is karma, the divine law شريعة Shari’ah. Now, having a home that is conducive for meditation, some people can do it, some people cannot. It is important that if this is your situation, that you have a space where you can find, whether at a temple or nature, some space where you can practice, is good. It is necessary, because if one's home life is very disorganized and difficult, it can become very challenging to really deepen one's meditative discipline.
So, sometimes one's home life can be challenging because we have neighbors or people who are loud. The reality is that we can renounce our own attachments to a different situation.
I believe Dion Fortune from the Western esoteric tradition stated that a person does not know how to meditate if they cannot meditate on a bus or a noisy train. We really learn to develop profound concentration when there are distractions, and obviously it is good to have a home that is silent and clean and pure in which one could really dedicate to these exercises. But if there are difficulties in relation to one's home environment, make the changes that you can and learn to renounce what you cannot change.
The fact is whether there is 5G or not, whether the neighbors are loud, or one's economic situation is difficult, we can still meditate. It is about renouncing distractions in our psyche, not giving your body that itch or scratch, that pain, adjusting oneself all the time and moving and not really focusing within. Renounce many of the problems that really have no basis. Stop investing your energy into them. Simply be. Relax. It could be difficult, but the more you renounce negative thoughts, feelings, and instincts, we learn to change our quality of life, fundamentally. So learn to renounce discomfort, dissatisfaction, the internal dialogue of the ego that says “I can only do this if I have A, B, and C.” We have to learn to renounce suffering, misery, envy, ego. In that way, by changing our psychology, we learn to receive from divinity. We learn to receive help at our level, at our degree.
Renunciation of the Heart
Renunciation is really of the heart. These are some more verses that explain everything we have been stating so far, how it is a psychological attitude:
I heard Abu Abd al-Rahman al-Sulami say... that Sufyan al-Thawri said, "Renunciation of the world means to give up placing your hope in it, not to eat coarse food or wear the robe of an ascetic.” ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
So, stop believing and chasing after dreams that one day we will be spiritual “when I get my own home, find a spiritual group, and marry a Gnostic partner.” We have to stop putting our hopes in external things, because if our psychology does not fundamentally change, then having all these beautiful things will not help. In fact, we will suffer and make a lot of problems for ourselves. What matters is our quality of being, our level of being,
I like to relate some quotes from Samael Aun Weor's book, Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology, in which he really beautifully summarizes how renunciation is internal, psychological. He states the following in his chapter, “The Internal State”:
…when people review their lives, unfortunately, they only think that their life is exclusively constituted by external events...
It is important that to really be effective with renunciation, we learn to combine internal states with external events. What this means is that in relation to the appropriate situations, we learn to enact intuitive will. Our conscience may push us to say something compassionately to a co-worker. Perhaps we are at our job and we see that our co-worker is suffering a lot. Part of us may feel shy and may not want to respond in the moment: to keep silent because we are at a work meeting. And yet, our intuition and heart tell us to respond and comfort this person. We learn to renounce or should learn to renounce our own insipid qualities: fear, anticipation, anxiety, in order to do what is helpful for that other person. This is an example of renouncing the ego and learning to enact virtuous qualities of the soul.
So, combine the appropriate state with the external event. Knowing what to do in the moment is the quality of intuition: knowing what to do without having to think about it. We simply comprehend beautiful action, compassionate action. But if we do not renounce our own ineptitudes, our ego, we create suffering in our situation, our circumstances. This is a moment to moment effort.
Let us continue with a quote from Al-Qushayri's Principles of Sufism.
And I heard him say... Sari al-Saqati said, "God strips the world from His Friends, denies it to His purified ones, and removes it from the hearts of those He loves because He is not satisfied with that for them.” ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
Beautiful verses that relate different levels of being, as we have been going back to again and again in this course. Who are the friends of divinity, of God? These are the masters, saints, and initiates who renounce the world with the advent of resurrection. Meaning: they fully eliminated the ego and they are preparing to renounce everything below in order to return to the divine through the death of their body. Those who purify their psyches face hardships because of divinity, as a test. We may be denied certain blessings because of difficult situations. They force us to confront our psychology, our stubborn attachments, our own pain. Without challenges, we can't grow.
So, in those cases, we need to learn to renounce our own sorrows, to really develop peace of mind. When divinity really loves His disciples, He removes love of this world from their hearts. This is a very subtle reading. It does not mean that we become very dark, sour, masochistic people immersed in morbidity. Instead, we learn to be in life enjoying and experiencing the diverse situations of life but remembering their contexts.
Remember that when we die physically, our bank accounts, our social security number, our cars, our home, our family, our beloved spouse, our children won't go with us. But, we can learn to love them. Be happy with them and for them, but remember in the context that life is fleeting. It is transient. What matters is our level of being, our internal state, not so much what is outside. We really demonstrate our intelligence when we learn to navigate life utilizing the right psychological state and correct response to the impressions of life.
But for that, we have to renounce reactions, because the mind always wants to react to the impressions of life.
Renunciation has to do with not letting the mind react mechanically, habitually. To do that is to repeat problems. Instead, one has to be conscious. This is why Samael Aun Weor states the following, again, from the same chapter from the Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology.
Those who know how to consciously combine the external event with the appropriate interior state are very rare.
Types of Renunciation
Let's explore different types of renunciation.
God, the Most High, says, ‘That which is left for you by God is best for you’ (11:86). Renunciation lies in three things: renouncing the world, renouncing people, and renouncing oneself. ―Abdullah Ansari of Herat, Stations of the Sufi Path
The Three Types of Ascetics
Let's examine what each type of renunciation involves because it is very in―depth, if we have been studying the sequence of lectures in this course. Abdullah Ansari of Herat states:
Whoever does not refuse the wealth of this world to his enemies is an ascetic vis-à-vis the world. ―Abdullah Ansari of Heart, Stations of the Sufi Path
We should give even unto our worst enemies. We do so by acting compassionately. When we give indiscriminately to others, in whatever capacity we have, we become ascetics: people who are disciplined in this path, the Gnostic work. Samael Aun Weor and the Fourth Way schools reject Fakirism, which is commonly associated with asceticism, such as people sleeping on a bed of nails, living out in the weather, the cold, performing acts of physical austerities, etc. We learn in the Gnostic path to develop our willpower and develop our spiritual life by fulfilling our obligations, our responsibilities in society, by doing what is best for others.
If you want your meditations to be profound, work compassionately and ethically for others. An unethical mind is agitated. It is not at peace. It is not serene. So, don't refuse your wealth even unto your enemies, meaning your spiritual wealth as well―not necessarily physical things, but your time, your energy, your conscious love: to learn how to give even to people whom you feel are every difficult, who challenge you, who create struggles and pains and difficulties for you. This is the meaning.
The quote continues:
Whoever does not allow his shame over what people may think about his piety coax him away [from worshipping God] is an ascetic vis-à-vis people. ―Abdullah Ansari of Heart, Stations of the Sufi Path
Some people get very embarrassed about being in Gnosis or a spiritual group, such as family members or people who criticize or gossip about us, friends who may misinterpret our actions or the teachings. However, to continue to do what we know is best for spiritual life, we become ascetics in relation to people. We are willing to renounce what other people think of us. We learn to practice alchemy, transmutation, chastity, regardless if all the doctors of the world, people who are very materialistic and conditioned, think that it is wrong. We do not feel shame about the teachings, about the practices, about the work.
Whoever does not behold himself with self-congratulation nor look upon himself with approval, is an ascetic vis-à-vis himself. ―Abdullah Ansari of Heart, Stations of the Sufi Path
This is most important. We have to not have Illusions about who we are, our quality of being in relation to divinity. We have to see ourselves and the practical facts. This is why we perform retrospection meditation.
We visualize the events of our day in which certain egos acted. We learn to go deep into our psychological states, reviewing the day, how we saw the world and what we think of ourselves, to renounce any Illusions about who we are or what we think about ourselves―to simply observe. Observe the facts. Self-observe. Gather data, and then in retrospection meditation, review your day and examine the different defects you saw. This is how we renounce the ego.
This is how we become an ascetic of the Spirit: to not congratulate ourselves or think that we are worth anything, really. The only thing that is worthy of praise is our Being, which is why in Islam we say, ٱلْحَمْدُ لِلَّٰهِ, al-Ḥamdu lillāh: “All praise is to God,” the Being. Our inner God is worthy of all praise, but we are just the servant. Therefore we should not accept any type of adulation for ourselves.
The Signs of Renunciation
In this final slide, we will talk about the signs of renunciation.
Renouncing the world and remaining an ascetic in the world has three signs: remembering death, being content with one’s sustenance, and seeking the companionship of the dervishes. ―Abdullah Ansari of Herat, Stations of the Sufi Path
In many schools of meditation, we learn in the beginning to contemplate our own death. This does not mean that we are dark people, sick people, or we think it is cool, but because it provides seriousness in our work.
We really do not know when we will die. Therefore, should we waste our time, our lives with meaningless things, or should we develop our consciousness? Again, learn to give up activities that waste time, that do not really feed your spiritual life. If you know that going out to drink with friends is going to make you very pessimistic, very heavy, very sick, mentally, emotionally, then renounce that. Who cares what anyone thinks? In reality, when we renounce a lower level of being, we ascend to a higher one. We learn to associate with more spiritually like―minded people, such as the companions, the dervishes.
This is a symbol of any spiritual group, really, who is practicing poverty, renunciation: giving up psychological attachments. Companionship with other Gnostics can be very helpful, very beneficial, being with people who are like-minded who study the same thing. This is why every spiritual community in the world is necessary. But, it is not definitive.
We will not progress simply because we attend a group. It's good to associate with other initiates, and really the best way to associate with the initiates is in the internal planes, because when you awaken in the Tree of Life, you can learn to communicate with the gods, with the angels. Those really are the dervishes: people who have really mastered this work before, in whom many don't have physical bodies. You can meet them internally by renouncing negative behaviors.
But also, we should learn to be content with our own sustenance, what we have. In the West, we really do not have many excuses to not really practice. If we are in a war zone, that is very different. Obviously, it is going to be very difficult if you have bombs going off in your neighborhood. But typically, in North America, the West, or Western civilized countries, we have a lot of privileges that the world around us envies, and it is really absurd to waste our leisure in stupidities.
Let us continue with the quote:
Renouncing people has three signs: understanding that the command of God precedes everything else, understanding that providence is firm and established, and seeing that people are helpless and vulnerable. ―Abdullah Ansari of Herat, Stations of the Sufi Path
God's command is right, even if it is against what everybody believes: what people cherish and hold dear. And what is the manner by which we understand God's will?
There are many millions of people who preach that they know God. If you seriously ask them and investigate to see whether they are awakened in the astral plane, the internal worlds, the reality is that they are asleep. They believe in divinity, but they do not know. As the Qur’an teaches, "For truly, they are a people who don't know," who do not experience, since “Are those who know equal to those who know not?" (Qur’an 39:9).
God's commands are found through understanding the principles of ethics, conscious ethics, especially chastity. Humanity does not like chastity, purity, and sex. In fact, humanity fights very diligently to preserve lust and desire at the expense of other people's well-being. If you do not believe me, look at the pornography industry where people are exploited and violated. It is very serious. Desire does not produce a harmonious society. It creates chaos.
Therefore, we should learn to understand divinity's commands, especially like in the example I gave you where Samael Aun Weor was showing me that to be effective in my work I had to work with the waters of renunciation. So this teaching is very practical for me. You can learn to have those experiences by working with the exercises in our tradition, especially, as we have been outlining in this course. Our path is firm and established when we work seriously and ask for help, inside. When we receive experiences, we have genuine faith. We learn to renounce again and again, continuously, different states that create problems. This is faith: knowledge born from experience.
People, despite their best virtues, are not necessarily reliable. Only God is reliable, the Being. So, we are helpless before divinity, vulnerable, weak. It is impossible to change without the help of our own inner Being. Even masters who are preparing for resurrection are helpless before God. They are really striving and working hard to obtain those degrees, which are very elevated. But even they are helpless. Therefore, why should we be so arrogant to think that we can do this on our own? We need help from our inner divinity through experiences and through enacting ethical behavior.
Lastly, the following quote:
Renouncing the self has three signs: recognizing the deceit of the devil, realizing one’s weakness, and seeing the darkness of being lead on by the lure of passion (istidrāj). ―Abdullah Ansari of Herat, Stations of the Sufi Path
So who is the devil? We can point our finger at witches and sorcerers or sorceresses in the astral plane and even physically, but really the devil is our own ego. As I had stated in the previous lecture, we should not be concerned with other people so much but rather our own interior states.
We are 97% ego. Therefore, we are weak. We gradually train ourselves to strengthen our Essence, but this is only achieved when we are honest.
Temptations must be seen and overcome, seeing the darkness of our own egotistical states and really understanding them; meditating, reflecting at the end of your day, visualizing a certain event in which you perhaps acted wrongly and trying to understand it and ask for wisdom about what would have been the correct behavior, so that you can renounce whatever egos were manifesting in that part of your day.
Temptations are necessary. This is how we define ourselves. Temptation is fire. Triumph over temptation is light. We overcome these problems when we remember the qualities of our own conscience, our heart. In synthesis, these are some principles relating to renunciation that can feed our meditation practice, because without giving up harmful ways of being, we cannot enact superior ways of being.
So at this point in time, I'd like to open up the floor to questions.
Questions and Answers
Question: It seems from your lecture that one way to understand renunciation is in the myth of Heracles and the Hydra, which dwells within the murky waters. It is not enough to implore God and cut off a head, but one must use the fire of transformation to keep the head from growing back. So take alcohol. If one has energy invested towards drinking and decides to renounce it, energy is released. But the reason for the drinking might not be comprehended so the negativity manifests elsewhere.
Instructor: So all the mythologies of the world correlate. The great war of the heroes, such as within the Roman and Greek myths, or any biblical cosmogony, even relates with the مجاهدين mujāhidīn, those who strive in the way of God within the Qur’an. All that teaches psychological truths about how we wage war against our own egos, our defects.
In the myth of Heracles, who is the action of the soul, the beauty of the soul (תפארת Tiphereth), has to fight a many headed beast, the Hydra, which is a representation of our multiple defects. It is not enough to beg God to eliminate, but we have to comprehend with the fire of understanding, with intelligence. We only do that through meditation.
All of our habits and desires, in the beginning, we can learn to renounce what we see in the beginning. Renunciation is based off comprehension. If you just give up a certain way of being without understanding it, then the quality of your ethics is not going to be that deep. Really, if we give up mistaken ways of being, it is because we comprehend from experience how they create problems. So that Hydra, that beast, dwells in the waters of יסוד Yesod, because our own lust, anger, pride, hatred, vanity, lives within those energies, steals the energies of יסוד Yesod for their own purposes. In the beginning, you have to learn to renounce and not give your energy to the ego in the moment.
Perhaps you are with friends and they want to go drinking. You are with them at a bar, but you make the conscious decision not to feed your own egos of drunkenness. So we are not investing our energy into that habit. Instead, we are saving energy that we would have otherwise spent through desire. But that is not enough. What is important and more necessary is to go home, close your eyes, relax. Retrospect that moment in which you were tested, tempted, to behave in a way that you knew was wrong. You have to visualize the scene as it happened: what egos came up, what you said, what you did, what you thought, what you felt, even how you behaved internally without showing anyone.
Ask for comprehension for whatever egos you saw in that moment. Ask to go deeper. Work with the waters of renunciation. Work with your creative energy, through the powers of יסוד Yesod through pranayama, mantra, runes, sacred rites of rejuvenation, alchemy, and with that energy present circulating in you, you can go deep with the fire of your energies, because the fire of creativity is in the waters of sex, the waters of Genesis. It is that water, the fiery waters, that can learn to disintegrate any ego you have comprehended. But first, you need to comprehend what happened. It is only in that way that you really can eliminate at all.
Renouncing behaviors or repressing what we see without comprehending is going to create problems. Instead, be cognizant of yourself. Be aware. It is important to remember that in our daily experience, what wastes energy is ego, whether through the intellect, our emotions, our movements, our instincts, and our sexuality, which has to do with our thoughts, feelings, and will. We have to learn to study the mind: all the different egos that take the energies, the waters of sexuality, and waste them. Desire takes the energies of creativity and abuses them. Without that energy present, you cannot really renounce anything, comprehend anything.
In our exercise in retrospection, we learn to first see the ego in action and then later, comprehend how the energy steals life from our spirituality.
I will give you a concrete example. I remember working at one job in which I was greatly criticized by certain clients of mine. I remember being criticized by a person, in which egos of anger, pride, and resentment emerged. I observed the different thoughts, different feelings, the different impulses to act, but first, rather than give in to that moment, to what my desires wanted, I renounced those mechanical, repetitious, reactionary behaviors, because I understood in the moment that if I did that, I would suffer and make other people suffer. Instead, I learned to transform the situation by being calm, present, and kind.
Later, I went home, meditated on each defect, visualizing each aggregate I perceived, spending perhaps ten to fifteen minutes on each ego, asking my divine Being to show me the depth of each desire.
When I found that I had comprehended my anger, what it wanted; my pride, my resentment, how they functioned, how they interrelated, how they fed themselves, where they came from, how they emerged, how they sustained, how they acted in my mind―I prayed for annihilation, asking for disintegration from the divine feminine, my Divine Mother Kundalini, or البقره Al-Baqarah within Islam, the sacred cow. Or الْبُرَاق Al-Buraq, the lightning of the divine feminine who annihilates any aggregate we have comprehended and removed.
So, this is a synthesis we have kind of come back to again and again, but is an essential practice we need to understand. You can also look at a lecture we gave called Retrospection Meditation on our website and a course called Gnostic Meditation where we explain this in the seventh lecture at the end, in depth.
Question: I have been struggling with learning to let go of personal success, growing a business. Is it bad to own a business?
Instructor: No, not bad at all. Now, do we do our business with egotism or with ethics, with conscience? There are many wealthy people who learn to act ethically and there are many wealthy people who are completely unethical. Nothing wrong with the business. In fact, if we have a business that really helps people, then we could really do a lot of good for humanity. But the problem is that people are very materialistic-minded, and therefore, they let their ego run the show, and that is where suffering and problems exist.
Any other questions?
Question: I have noticed that as I deepen my practices in the three factors, I have experienced more dreams and the infradimensions, the hell realm, so to speak. This makes me feel sad as I am unconscious in them and cannot control my behaviors. These are actions that I would never perform in the physical dimension. Why would this happen to a devoted student?
Instructor: Because there are levels of being, levels of renunciation. We can be very chaste, devout, pure renunciates in the physical world, very dedicated to Gnosis, and yet, if we examine our dreams and our ordeals in the astral plane, we will perceive egos and aggregates that are very deeply lodged within our unconsciousness, our subconsciousness, our infraconsciousness.
There are 49 levels to the mind according to Samael Aun Weor. The physical body is merely one level. Or better said, there are seven levels within each of the lower seven סְפִירוֹת Sephiroth of the Tree of Life. So there are seven in מלכות Malkuth, seven in יסוד Yesod, seven in הוד Hod, seven in נצח Netzach, seven in תפארת Tiphereth, seven in גבורה Geburah, and seven in חֶסֶד Chesed.
We can understand certain egos in the physical world and be very serious in this path, and yet, in the more hidden layers of our own psyche, there are demons that really cause us pain. And this is a very necessary thing that happens to every student who is serious. We discover that we have a lot of iniquity, and it causes a lot of pain, and this is essential. Now, the next step is, once we have perceived this in ourselves, we have to learn to go deeper into our psyche in order to eliminate those hidden defects.
The best way to do it is by, in meditation, renouncing our body, not identifying with the sensations of our physicality. Don't move. Breathe deeply. Relax. Work with energy, your vital depth, your vital forces, so that your heart, through prayer and concentration, can calm and be filled with positive emotion, superior emotion.
Remember the qualities of your Being, retracting, withdrawing your attention from your thoughts, learning to renounce thinking―not thinking so much, not worrying about how bad we are or what a big demon we are. It is the reality, but it doesn't benefit us by stewing in the mud. Instead, it is better to relax and to remember that we have God within. No matter how impure our ego is, we have divinity inside who is pure and beautiful and divine.
We have to reflect on the qualities of our Being. So if you feel very overwhelmed by how bad the mind is, by hidden dreams that are very disturbing, remember what your Divine Mother is like. Renounce your pain. It is very difficult because we feel that great remorse and sorrow for what we really are. And personally, I have had this many times where I've seen egos in myself that fill me with so much pain that I could not stop weeping. But, the reality is that we have to learn to renounce even our deepest pains, and in that way, withdrawing our senses, learning to concentrate within in a silent state of equanimity, we learn to await the answer from our consciousness, our Spirit. By achieving serenity and renouncing the lower סְפִירוֹת Sephiroth, we can learn to receive help, the guidance we need and the comprehension we need to eliminate those really deep egos. This is the method. This is the process so that we can enter the internal planes with clarity.
Question: From our renunciations, do these teachings become more sacred to us? There is so much information, it is easy to treat the teachings like other information.
Instructor: Yes, obviously if you have experienced this knowledge personally, you learn to have faith, which is knowledge from experience. It is what you know. Not what you believe, not what you think, not what you hypothesize, but what you know from facts. And that gives you strength and courage to renounce things and information and activities that are really useless. And obviously, in this era of information, it's very easy to look at this type of knowledge and to disregard it like everything else because there are just so many teachings and instructions and schools and religions out there, that it becomes very confusing to discriminate what is of value.
We invite you to study the practices of our tradition, especially, and learn to experiment. Do not anticipate what you might have, what you might experience, or to reject them completely, but really test them, so that you can learn to verify from your own knowledge and heart what is true. In that way, you gain confidence of what is real, not from adhering to a group or following anyone or any group or teacher, but really knowing from your awakened consciousness, your soul, and that is something that cannot be taken away from you no matter how much the mind fluctuates or vacillates or changes. The Essence of the soul stays the same. That wisdom is never lost. It belongs to the Being, to God.
Question: Master Samael says that if we sacrifice every element of pain that we feel throughout our life, if we made this our work, whenever we experience even the most insignificant pain, we would die with a completely awakened consciousness and no karma. Can you talk about renunciation and separation?
Instructor: Yes, oftentimes in the words of Kahlil Gibran, the great Sufi Christian poet, “much of our pain is self-chosen.” We choose to suffer because we feel that we were wronged. We were offended, slighted, betrayed, lied to, dishonored, singled out. We have many excuses why we should invest all our energy in singing our psychological song, where we are the great martyrs of humanity. We have been honest and truthful and kind and compassionate, and yet, everybody else is wrong and we have received the bad end of the stick.
This is how many people think. We all sing our own internal psychological songs. Some of us, you know, sing the same songs again and again: the same tragedies, comedies, and stories in which we are the center of our own moral universe in which we are the righteous ones. This type of attitude does not benefit us, and moreover, it does not benefit anyone outside.
We have to learn to separate and renounce from this type of thinking. The way that we do so is through self-observation. Learn to separate as a consciousness from your three brains. Learn to see within your three brains. Look at them, at the thoughts, feelings, and impulses that emerge within the moment. This is مراقبة muraqabah (vigilance) in Arabic, or محاسبة muhasabah, in Arabic signifying “inner accounting,” to take account of our defects, to see them for what they are and not give them our energy. If we were to sacrifice our pains in this way, and these psychological songs that waste so much energy and do not produce any benefit, we will radically transform our situation. We would learn to take on very difficult situations with grace and efficacy.
Most people, and even many of us in Gnosis, we have one slight difficulty and then we complain. We choose to be in suffering in many cases. The ego does not get what it wants and therefore we feel a great crisis in ourselves. Now, that type of conflict is necessary, to feel those egos emerge in us so that we can see them and work on them. But you cannot really renounce the ego if you don't see it for what it is.
How can you give up that what you don't know? You have to see the ego in action. Observe it clearly without judging or labeling it right away, but simply look. Gather the data. Gather the facts. And then when you go home at night or you’re meditating on your day, reflect on what you saw, and be sincere. Be honest. You can't renounce negative ways of being if you don't understand what they are and how they are fed, how they are situated, how they cause problems, how you feed into them. You have to see it. And when you see it, you can learn to comprehend it.
Remember that if you learn to overcome the most insignificant pain with awareness and attention, not investing yourself in it, you learn to overcome many situations and problems that would be very difficult to handle. This is what it means to become hermetically sealed within the alchemical western tradition. Do not give your energy to the mind. Be sealed. Do not let your energy out, but conserve it by not acting negatively, but learning to act ethically. This is really how we should proceed if we really want to die with a completely awakened donsciousness and no karma.
Question: When you say renounce the lowest סְפִירוֹת Sephiroth, do you mean מלכות Malkuth?
Instructor: Yes, that's part of it. So in one meditation, you can basically observe the body, become aware of the body, relax deeply, and then renounce the physical body. Go deep into meditation, relaxed, in a state of concentration and clarity, equanimity, and you can learn to abandon your physicality as a consciousness.
Likewise, you can abandon יסוד Yesod, the vital body; הוד Hod, the astral body; נצח Netzach, the mental body; תפארת Tiphereth, the causal body; גבורה Geburah, the divine soul, and reach חֶסֶד Chesed, the Spirit. And even you can abandon חֶסֶד Chesed to renounce the lower סְפִירוֹת Sephiroth in order to enter the higher spheres of the Tree of Life, and even the Absolute.
It is a form of meditation we can perform, very difficult for beginners, but something that one can master through a lot of patience and experience, through practice.
In synthesis, some books and texts that can help you in this process of renunciation include the book Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology, especially the chapter called The Observer and The Observed, as well as Individuality.
Practice with self-observation, learn to observe your quality of mind, thought, feeling, and action from moment to moment by learning to see our own defects in action. By separating from the mind, egotism, desires (nafs), we can gather data about our essential qualities of being, so that we can change and renounce behaviors that are negative, and learn to enact positive virtuous action.
Anyone who approaches meditation or genuine religion feels deep unrest―inquietudes in the heart. This often emerges in the form of tremendous longings, even intense anxiety, profound remorse, dread, or a pervasive dissatisfaction with the daily state of life.
Many of us, when seeking Gnosis, have experienced incredible psychological suffering, moral pain, perhaps from a trauma, a grievous mistake, wrong behaviors from a wayward, earlier life. After we have suffered the maximum, we look for answers beyond the superficial conventionalities of modern science, politics, religion, education, etc., which, if we are honest, do absolutely nothing but offer blind panaceas to very specific psychological afflictions.
To confront the source of our deepest sufferings―the conditioning of our minds that we have engendered through mistakes, through wrong action―usually this produces a cataclysm, a moral crisis. If we are honest, we realize that we are the progenitors of our own affliction. We are merely following the trajectory of our wrong behaviors. We ourselves, in our deepest root, have created the situations we are in now, without exception, even if we are not aware fully how. To recognize this fact, that our afflicted and conditioned mind, our states of suffering―whether it be through pride, anger, lust, greed, vengeance, vanity, arrogance, morbidity, pessimism, despair―these are self-created, and these are the source of profound spiritual pain, which is the remorse of our conscience, our consciousness in recognition of its own responsibility, its culpability.
When we perceive that our hatred, our desires, the deceptions we weave for ourselves and for others, the way we manipulate situations, our defect, our vices, our ego, are completely antithetical to divine law, we suffer incredibly.
When we see the path to heaven, we realize it is extremely difficult. It has nothing to do with what fanatic or dogmatic persons believe. Beliefs really have nothing to do with change. We can think and adhere to any theology, any scripture, any doctrine with our intellect, with our emotions, but if they are not fulfilled in action, if there is no practical basis by which to change, then really it is fruitless.
In our studies, we have to renounce all types of superfluous activities, ideologies. Those who really perceive in themselves their own aggregates, their own nafs, their own defects, realize they have a tremendous work to do. We understand from experience how very few succeed in religion, in yoga, since it is “the straight and narrow gate that leads to life,” but which “few find” (Matthew 7:14). When the reality of our situation is examined carefully, when we really look, when we sincerely introspect into our own psyche and try not to blame our situation, our government, our teachers, our school systems, we witness a collapse in the foundations of a false identity within ourselves.
Such an act is like a demolition. It is the destruction of a very much well-cherished building, one in which we spent our entire beloved childhood in existence. In this metaphor, we have worshiped our surroundings with fidelity, our beliefs about spirituality, about religion, about politics, about identity, about the world. When we see that our most venerated beliefs have nothing to do with reality, we naturally undergo a very necessary crisis.
Samael Aun Weor stated that if the water does not boil at a hundred degrees celsius, then we cannot disintegrate what must be disintegrated. If we do not remove poor foundations, if we do not seek to comprehend ourselves through observable, repeatable, scientific facts, then in reality, we will live in a house of filth, a cage of perdition, smothered by a secret ugliness that we do not even want to recognize in ourselves, even when our exterior is ornamented with deceptive beauty.
Our interior life is what matters, not our appearances. We can appear as gentlemen or ladies of distinction in society, yet if our mind is afflicted with wrath, with pessimism, filled with doubt, contorted with extortion, warped by lies, egotistical states, then we will be what we are. As Samael Aun Weor stated, so long as the ego exists in ourselves, we will be an abomination that should not exist, because in our depths, beneath the respectable persona, the flattering gestures, the words of light within our lumisials, our Gnostic schools, deep down we carry all the abominations of the wars, the tragedies of every conflict, in conflagration, every Holocaust.
We have to remove false foundations, beliefs without evidence, and many of the self-deceptions that we teach and propagate amongst our families and amongst ourselves are within, in relation to who we are. This is a form of a cataclysm, a revelation. That book in the New Testament, Revelations, is about apocalyptic crises, which are not only external, but internal, as we work to really take responsibility for our own faults and not to run away.
It is only through this type of internal work that we can really build a foundation that is true, our real spiritual identity, which is symbolized by the Phoenix being consumed within its own flame, so that it rises with glory from its ashes.
This is why, according to the Sufis, repentance is the first state and station of the path.
The present moment, breathing exercises, sexual transmutation, mantras, sacred rites of rejuvenation, contraction and expansion, presence and continuity of attention, awareness―all of this lead us towards the actualization of repentance.
People look at this term repentance with a lot of disdain, as if it is a moral code, a subjective, imposing law that has nothing to do with the cultivation of one's happiness, because in our society we like to gratify our desires, to get what we want, to glorify the ego, failing to realize that it is this desire that is the origin of all pain.
Repentance is not a belief. It is a psychological attitude of the consciousness. When we really recognize that we are at fault, that we have committed a wrong, we feel the pangs of conscience and we deeply yearn to turn to the Being, to receive help, because really, we are helpless if we do not have that connection with our inner God.
Repentance is something very profound and beautiful. It is the acknowledgement of one's own culpability and responsibility. It is not a means of punishment. It is the means by which we really enter the Mysteries. Can somebody who is arrogant, proud, boastful, manipulative, haughty, deceptive, enter heaven? For as Jesus taught in the Gospels that:
It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. ―Matthew 19:24
It is a symbol. Humility is a virtue, to not take a self-aggrandizing position at anything, always promoting our own self above others, even if it means humiliating others, shaming others, so that we can feel exalted. This type of mentality is wrong. It produces a lot of problems. We need to recognize when we are at fault, and this is the basis of, really, every meditative tradition: to be sincere, to look at the facts, to take responsibility and to change our situation, to not repeat our own ideas about what the situation is like and that “Everybody else is guilty and that I am a saint,” we say.
People do not see us the way we see ourselves, and really we need to learn to see the viewpoints of others, because we are very subjective. If you have been studying the sequence of this course, the different dynamics of consciousness, you will realize through the practices, we have taught, that we are very asleep. We don't really see reality, and because we project our mind onto existence, we misinterpret situations and create problems.
We live in lies. That identity we boast of as a kind, charitable, noble person, we really have to analyze this mental construct that we always present to others, even if secretly, and to be honest, to have truth in our interrelations in every aspect of life.
What could be more horrible than to have cancer, and for the doctor to tell you that you are fine, to not tell you the truth? The reality is that we are afflicted with spiritual disease, and only divinity can heal us. This is reference in every single allegory or story within the Old Testament, the New Testament, and many of the Sufi stories, within the diverse religious traditions. The soul is sick with pain, with affliction, with conditions of mind.
Divinity has always been terribly honest about the reality of our situation and humanity, but because people do not like to look at the truth of themselves, they adulterate their traditions. It is the invention of modern people to think that we will all go to heaven, so long as we attend a specific group and pay our fees. The reality is that people are not interested in real religion, only with wealth and power. If the teachings do not help the institution to get more followers, more money, more resources, then basically those teachings become inflated with theories: “the bread and leaven of the Pharisees” mentioned by Jesus (Matthew 16:6), who take the spiritual doctrine and change it because it is not palatable to the public.
Real religion requires the renunciation and repentance of everything that is wrong. It means to recognize our own faults, to have the willingness to change them, and to enact the practical actions that remove those mistakes. If religion is missing any one of these dynamics, then it is incipient. It is not complete. Many religions dogmatically assert the need for repentance and the need for change, and this is very beautiful and necessary, but unfortunately many schools have lost the methods by which to do so.
People don't know how to change. They are told you need to repent, be a good person, belong to this group, help humanity, perform services, and yet we continue to suffer.
So we are going to explain some techniques in this lecture about how to really change, what repentance is, what does it practically look like, and how do we know that we are sincere. In reality, to learn this method, we have to be very willing to break, to shatter, to take all of those conceptions, those beloved cherished ideals about who we think we are, and put it aside. Anyone who enters the highest mysteries of religion, whether through meditative experiences, astral projections, jinn experiences, samadhis, ecstasies, entering the highest aspects of the Tree of Life, they do so because they have a radical honesty, and have really abandoned any belief about what they think they are, but simply to have the courage to look, to examine, to see what we have in abundance and to perceive what we lack.
Rumi taught at best about what we need if we want to enter this meditative tradition:
My heart had been torn to pieces looking for help. When I understood that helplessness is the only help, I repented helplessly. ―Rumi
Only divinity can heal us. But this is not through belief, through adopting an external behavior, a code of thinking, and of behaving in a social circumstance or environment. It has to do instead with our own psychological relationship to ourselves, to others, and to divinity.
The Door of Repentance
All traditions are unanimous on one point. To perfect the soul, to enter genuine experiences within all mystical traditions, we must have remorse for our errors.
Again, this is the term that people don't like. It is very difficult for the modern mind, our contemporary culture, to accept or understand, because we are a civilization that is based on the gratification of desires.
We really live in an unprecedented time in which we have available to us the knowledge, the wisdom that can liberate consciousness. There are access to scriptures and teachings that have been closed for millennia. Humanity has a beautiful gift. We are in the age of information, but sadly we are also in an era of misinformation. Because people are so filled with desire, they merely want to get what they want because they want it and they will fight tooth and nail to gratify themselves, and this is why you have many teachings and books and lectures and scriptures or ideologies that interpret these scriptures in accordance with specific idiosyncrasies.
But sadly the majority, the vast majority, is tainted with desire. People think that because we live only once, we should get as much of what we desire before we die, no matter if we walk upon and hurt, destroy others, because we think there is no point to existence. We live in an existential crisis, the absurdity of life, and because there is no moral compass, we think and feel and do what we want without caring for the harmony of our communities, of our relationships.
We are in a world based on ignorance. Our governments, our laws, our entertainment industries, advertisements, education, and politics have absolutely no comprehension about how desire is the root of suffering. People simply want things, and because we want what we want, we fight, we lie, we cheat, we steal, and we kill. There is no integrity left. The fragrance or perfume of sincerity within modern man has been snuffed out.
Simply look at humanity to verify what I am saying. We are not in a golden age. A golden age cannot emerge from people who do not have any humility or understanding, of our TV shows and our doctrines are based on violence, extortion, rape, murder, lies. This is all desire. This is ego, نَفْس nafs, nafas in Arabic. We have built entire societies on desire. Look at the Greeks, the Romans, many thriving empires which must eventually collapse because of the ego, because its people no longer enact or follow the laws of divinity, the laws of divine nature.
If society is corrupt, it's because the individual is corrupt. The individual is an extension of society and vice versa. True change occurs when we confront, eliminate conditioning from our psyche. However, to do this the individual must want to change.
If people don't feel desperate, remorseful, or long to really experience life in a new way, then they will never make the effort to look inside of themselves for the answers, to see themselves for who they truly are.
So why explain repentance within this course? Meditation and transformation begin with sincerity. It is sustained by honesty and is perfected with integrity: how we relate to ourselves and to humanity, to honestly confront ourselves and to observe the causes of suffering from within.
When we work with self-observation, we gather data. We observe the different selfs, the egos, the desires, the nafs within our interior. We perceive that our consciousness, the majority of it, is trapped within ego, within conditions of mind. We perceive from experience that we are a multiplicity. We lack integrity. We are not a unity. We have to understand that we are a multiplicity of selves, which in many different traditions have different names: aggregates, kleshas, veils, observations, egos, nafs, fragments of our psychology, our I's, our defects. If we long to achieve integrity, we need to free the consciousness from conditions. We need to integrate the soul that is split in so many different identities and conflicting and competing desires.
This is the real work of religion. It has nothing to do with attending a mosque, a church, a synagogue. It is about freeing our soul from the psychological states of affliction. To reunite with the Being, the consciousness must be liberated. It has to be free, and this is what every scripture and religion and mystical tradition and story and allegory teach. Those scriptures don't teach about a literal history, such as with the Qur’an. There are historical facts that correlate to the events in the life of the Prophet Muhammad, but the battles that he underwent to defend his life from the black magicians of Arabia are a representation of the war we go inside of ourselves to wage for the redemption of psyche, for the liberation of Israel: those parts of our soul that belong to God that are trapped here in Egypt, in suffering, in מצרים Mitzraim.
So how do we liberate consciousness? We have to see each ego in action. We have to comprehend them, and then we must annihilate them through prayer. But this is a long process, a very difficult one, a very painful one. When we perceive that we created our defects, the monsters of envy, bloodshed, murder, lust, sadomasochism, desire, we feel profound spiritual pain. This type of pain is not the pain of the ego, and we wish to make a very clear distinction about this. The ego suffers because it doesn't get what it wants. It is a type of suffering in desire, but there is a type of conscience and remorse, a different type of pain in the heart that is experienced by the soul.
It is a superior sentiment. It is a conscious expression of superior emotion. It is the repentance of the soul when it acknowledges its errors for the mistake of having created egos, I's, selves. When we perceive that we are the origin of anger, that we created this defect that makes our spouse suffer, our family suffer, our co-workers suffer, we feel pain. We don't want to continue making others suffer, if we are really seeking to change and to help humanity. So that type of conflict is necessary.
Even Nietzsche's said it in Thus Spoke Zarathustra, “For truly, how can one create something from within themselves if there was no chaos? Only those who have chaos in themselves shall give birth to a dancing star”―the divine.
That chaos is when we are really sifting for the mind to examine the root origin of every defect that creates problems for us, and practically, daily, working on them. Without this radical zero basis, without seeing the ego in action and feeling remorse for having created it, we cannot enter the mysteries.
For as Samael Aun Weor states in Igneous Rose:
All the doors are closed to the unworthy, except the door of repentance. ―Samael Aun Weor, Igneous Rose
…which, is paralleled in Al-Baqarah Surah 2 verse 45:
Seek help in patience and prayer, and this is indeed difficult except for the humble. ―Al-Baqarah 45
Qur’anic Verses on Repentance
I especially love the Qur’an, because it is a profound teaching. It expresses principles of meditation, but it takes an educated and experiential eye to really interpret what this doctrine unveils.This book is misunderstood, because like any religious scripture, people read literally, without knowing esoteric symbolism such as alchemy, Kabbalah, and psychology.
Oftentimes the Qur’an is feared as a severe judgment of a tyrannical God, a foreign God that displeases people. Humanity does not want to recognize, however, that there exist immutable, divine laws. When we follow them, we experience joy, limitless happiness, contentment. When break them, when we break these laws, we transgress against the law of our own conscience, and therefore we suffer. This is the basis of the Qur’an.
The beauty of Sufism and Islam is that no matter how degenerated we are and have become, divinity offers mercy and redemption: the transformation of our states and the elimination of the ego, when we have worked towards it and earned it.
There really is no victory without divinity. Our spiritual work is achieved through the help of divinity inside, through experiences, through cognizance of His presence, through contraction and expansion, through continuity of attention, through awareness, through vigilance in daily life.
Here are some verses that are related by a Sufi initiate, a female master by the name of Aishah al-Ba'uniyyah, from her book The Principles of Sufism, not to be confused with Al-Qushayri's text with the same title.
God the Exalted has said, "Turn to God, together, O believers, that you might be successful." ―Aishah al-Ba’uniyyah, The Principles of Sufism
So when the Qur’an speaks of the believers, it is important to remember the term being used.
A believer is المؤمن al-Mu’min. Believers (plural) is المؤمنين al-Mu'minun. Mu’min in Arabic reminds us of “water” or مائي mayiy, “aqueous.” ماء Ma’an or מים Mayim, even in Hebrew you find the same etymology and meaning. We know in our studies of Gnosis that we work with the sexual creative waters, the energies of our body, in order to create the Spirit inside, to create a dynamic, Genesiatic, encompassing and empowering force that gives strength to virtue. That energy, which can create a physical child, is the same energy that can create the soul.
Therefore, a real believer knows how “to be” through the power and science of “love,” (be-lieve and this love is sexual, without exception, the sexual energy―to take these waters of life, to conserve, and to elevate them through spiritual discipline. This is how we turn to God. And if you have studied the Qur’an or many other scriptures, they always state that chastity is the foundation of real growth. We'll explain what chastity is for those who are not familiar. But here, I like to relate and continue with these verses.
The Exalted has said, "Seek forgiveness from your Lord, then turn to Him in repentance," and the Exalted has said, "O you who believe, turn to God with sincere repentance!" The Exalted has said, "And those who do not turn in repentance, they are the transgressors!" and the Exalted has said, "Truly God loves those who turn in repentance, and He loves those who purify themselves." There are similar sayings in the noble verses of the Qur’an. ―Aishah al-Ba’uniyyah, The Principles of Sufism
So repentance, توبة tawbah, has very profound meanings in Arabic. Al-Qushayri and Aishah al-Ba'uniyyah relate some very beautiful teachings about this, about what this term means, practically speaking. Aishah states the following:
According to the lexicons, tawbah means "to return." Taba, aba, and Annaba all have one meaning, which is "return." Thaba is similar: people say, "The milk has returned (thaba) to the udder.” ―Aishah al-Ba’uniyyah, The Principles of Sufism
In Gnosis, we teach that the foundation of real repentance is sexual. You'll find that if you have studied the writings of Samael Aun Weor extensively, he elaborates the teachings of alchemy: of transforming the sexual act into a sacrament; of elevating creative energy, whether we are single or married, single or in a relationship, so that that conserved and sublimated force, that transmuted energy, creates something inside. He teaches that chastity is the foundation of real development, and that without it, there is no change. The Qur’an, as you'll see and many other Sufis, elaborate the same points. So this is not just one teaching from one man. It is a universal doctrine expressed within the secret code and the languages of the different traditions of the world. Here, we are explaining it in accordance with Sufism and Islam.
What does it mean that “the milk has returned to the udder?” If you look at the substance of milk, it is white and it is similar to semen. It is the sexual matter. Milk is from, obviously, a cow, and if you studied Islam, you find that they place special emphasis on the longest surah of the Qur’an known as البقرة al-Baqarah. It is “The Heifer,” “The Cow,” which is attributed to a specific verse in which the limb of a cow can be used to resurrect a person from the dead. Now, this is not a literal statement, which some people or actually many people believe, but instead refers to the power of the divine feminine.
The sacred cow is known amongst many religions as a symbol of the divine eternal feminine power known as Devi Kundalini. The Sufis refer it as al-Baqarah, but also الْبُرَاق al-Buraq, a mystical creature that helped Muhammad ascend the seven heavens, who has the face of a woman, the body of a mule or horse, the wings of an eagle, the tail of a peacock. Buraq means “lightning.” It is the creative energetic potential of our sexuality that can rise within our spinal column and open many abilities inside of ourselves.
It is the light, the vajra of the great Buddhist initiates, the teachings of Vajrayana, Tantrayana in Tibetan Buddhism, or Alchemy in the West, or better said the Middle East, but also the Western Esoteric Traditions as well. There are many interrelations here that are very beautiful to study, but here I like to synthesize just in relation to some verses from the Sufis.
Milk is a substance that nourishes children, and we are children of our divine feminine. Now, in Islam, they, in the public exoteric doctrine, reject any femininity within divinity and this is something incongruent with the interpretations of that tradition, which we abandon in Gnosis. Instead, we look at the symbols that the ascension of the Prophet teach. Muhammed returned to God on riding Al-Buraq, a symbol of the divine feminine power known as amongst the Kabbalists as Shekhinah.
He was meditating at the stone of Mecca, meditating profoundly and falling asleep, and that stone is a symbol, of again, Yesod, the vital energies as you see in this glyph of the Tree of Life on the left. Yesod is known as the stone of the Masons. It is the foundation of our spiritual temple. יסוד Yesod in Hebrew literally means “foundation.” It is the sexual energy. It is the basis upon which we experience all the heavens of the Tree of Life, as Muhammad did in his famous al-Miraj, the Ascension, where he was able to experience many beautiful things and receive teachings from the great masters of divinity: the angels, the prophets, the buddhas, whatever names you wish to give to those intelligences that know the Being, Allah.
So, notice that this Tree of Life has ten spheres. If you count from the top to the bottom, Yesod is the ninth―the ninth sephirah or sphere or emanation, from that gradual descent of forces from heaven, down to materiality, from the more subtle levels of nature, to the most dense. We are in מלכות Malkuth, which is the physical body, which is the storehouse of all the vital forces and spiritual forces that emanate from above, from the heavens, الجنة al-janna.
It is interesting that there is a surah in the Qur’an called al-Tawbah, “The Return” or “Repentance.” It is the ninth surah of the Qur’an. It is a direct reference to how we work with sexual energy. It is a very controversial surah because, primarily, it is a disassociation from the unbelievers.
And who are those unbelievers? It does not refer to people who do not follow Islam exoterically, publicly. The word for disbeliever or unbeliever, infidel, the unfaithful ones, is الكافرون Al-Kafirun. It is interesting that there is a surah in the Qur’an known as الكهف Al-Kahf, which is “The Cave.” What is a كافر kafir, an unbeliever? It is an ego, a defect, a desire, because our egos and desires do not want to follow God, to not want to change. They want to continue behaving in the ways that we have always fulfilled, without any type of remorse or sincerity. That holy war mentioned in the Qur’an is about fighting the ego, and there are many Hadith and different references within the tradition that explain that.
Butin synthesis, our defects relate, our egos relate to what are known as the inferior dimensions on this Tree of Life, which are beneath Malkuth. Notice that there is a shadow, again, nine spheres below beneath this physical world, Malkuth in Hebrew, the “Kingdom.” Those dimensions relate to the interior of the Earth and our egos belong there, to the hell realms, to the infra-consciousness of nature, to the inferior worlds.
Now what are الكافرون Al-Kafirun? Literally, you have here كهف Kahf, cave―our egos and defects dwell on the caves of our mind, but also within those different dimensions that are not separate from us, but are here and now, because we have thoughts, we have feelings, and we have impulses. They are not physical. They are psychological, but they have a type of dimensionality and experience in reality that is not physical, but it is a form of matter and energy, nonetheless. We can experience those states more clearly through dream yoga, astral projection, awakening in dreams, which is very well documented within the Qur’an and many traditions.
So it is interesting, even in myths like The Thousand and One Nights, the teachings of Aladdin, الله دين Allah-Din. دين Din in Arabic is “religion, judgement.” It has to do with our conscious discrimination and judgment of ourselves. It is the judgment of God, which is a psychological and spiritual state. It is repentance. And remember that in the myth of Ali Baba, we find that the great hero must stop the thieves from stealing the gold. Those are the parts of our soul that are trapped in suffering, in error, in conditions. We return to God by going against our ego, by turning away from our negative actions and mental states, and turning to God. This is tawbah.
But also, we really return to divinity when we transmute our sexual energy, when we conserve the creative force and not waste it at all. “The milk never leaves the udder,” so to speak, because that energy is the source of real creative potential. It is Yesod. It is the foundation. It is the ninth sephirah and also the basis of the ninth surah of the Qur’an.
So in the Qur’an is a great conflict that occurs between Muhammad and the unbelievers, a symbol of our psychological work: how we confront ourselves, how we repent.
That surah does not begin with:
بِسْمِ ٱللَّٰهِ ٱلرَّحْمَٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
“In the Name of Allah the Compassionate, the Merciful.”
That opening begins with every surah of the Qur’an except the ninth, because it is not guaranteed that we will be successful relating to the ninth sephirah, the work with sexuality, because it is very difficult. Anyone who has worked in this science, has studied Gnosis for some time, understands that it is very difficult to change, especially sexual behavior. But that is the basis of repentance. It is the foundation of change.
Our sexual actions determine everything, because our behaviors of a sexual type have the most lasting impact, and if you don't believe me, simply ask or talk to a person who suffered childhood trauma. Speak to a person who has been raped, abused, violated. Or, on the other side, talk with people who are happily married, meaning: in a cooperative, fulfilling, deep compassionate relationship, a conscious relationship. A wide spectrum―but we are being synthetic here just to reference how that energy is the source of repentance. It is the source of return. It is the first state and station of the path, and we have many teachings that explain how to work with creative energy. We will give you references if you ask.
But in synthesis, according to Al-Qushayri, in his Principles of Sufism:
Tawbah, repentance, is the first station for spiritual travelers and the first stage of development in seekers. The root meaning of tawbah in the Arabic language is "return"―its associated verb, taba, is used to mean "to come back." So repentance is the return from what is blameworthy in the divine law to what is praiseworthy in it. ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
The most blameworthy quality is lust, without exception. It is the origin of many problems, of divorce rates, of marital conflict, and we know from Freud that sexuality is the basis, the machinery by which society operates. It is the most powerful energy in existence.
Even in the Qur’an, it gives two names to this force as representations of divinity, names of God: الخليق Al-Khaliq, “the Creator,” and الودود Al-Wadud, “the Loving.” Where else do we find the power to create through love than in sex?
The Qur’an speaks many times about how “We created you from a sperm-drop.” Physically, yes, there is that relationship there, but psychologically and spiritually, the true human being is made from that very same force, but with different procedures.
All traditions teach that desire is the origin of all pain, and that chastity, sexual purity, is the origin of all happiness. Chasity does not mean abstention from sex. It means purity in sex. The Qur’an always speaks about the need to be purified as an act of remembrance of God. That means that we learn to take that energy and redirect it from its casual, usual implementation, what people commonly believed in think sex is.
As the Qur’an teaches in surah 4 verse 27:
Allah wants to accept your repentance, but those who follow [their] passions want you to digress [into] a great deviation. ―Qur’an 4:27
So, many people approach religion and want to repent, to receive God, to know divinity. And yet, they follow their passions, their desires, and this is the opposite of religion. And what is the ultimate desire but sexuality, gratification of sexual sensations and pleasure? It is irrefutable. It is undeniable. We can say that lust is the greatest deviation. It is the culmination of the orgasm. All religions teach, the Qur’an teaches that, one must be chaste. And if you have studied Samael Aun Weor's writings, you know this is very obvious. Without chastity, there is no religion. This is how we return to divinity, and we are going to elaborate and explain how.
Three Constituents of Repentance
Of course, when people hear of repentance, we have to understand that there are levels. As Aishah al-Ba'uniyyah states:
Outward repentance is the return from blameworthy actions to praiseworthy ones and from foul words to righteous ones. ―Aishah al-Ba'uniyyah: The Principles of Sufism
At a basic level, some people really struggle with foul language―swearing, vulgarities, inappropriate behavior. Repentance in the beginning can relate to controlling our tongue from not saying those wrong things that create problems.
Likewise, we perform outward repentance when we practice chastity. It means to not engage in lust or sexual misconduct. If you have read the writings of the Sufis, especially Al-Hujwiri's Revelation of the Mystery and Al-Qushayri's writings from The Principles of Sufism, they explain very clearly that lust is the opposite of the Sufis’ intentions to return to divinity. It is repeatedly stated. Desire comes from nafs, egos, שטן Shaitan in Hebrew, or which is where we get the word Satan, the devil, desire, egos.
So our repentance in the beginning of Gnosis and entering the spiritual teachings is that we learn the value of sexual energy, and how sexual misconduct is the origin of many problems, such a sleeping around, committing adultery, and very commonly, watching pornography, ingesting intoxicants, engaging in masturbation, and other behaviors that are stipulated against in pretty much every meditative tradition, because these behaviors condition consciousness. If we feed desire, we make it stronger.
Desire in strict language is ego, without exception, although the Sufis do have a bit of range and interpretation of desire for God, longing for God. It is better if we say that, because what people think of desire really is conditions of mind, aggregates, faults. This is the basis of Sufism and Islam, Gnosis, every tradition. It is ethics. We know from traditions that there are behaviors to avoid and behaviors to enact. This is the foundation for entering meditation. So in the beginning, we learn to curtail these faults. But why?
We avoid intoxicants and drugs because we don't want to condition the consciousness. Feeding desire through those elements stimulates desire and strengthens it. The natural state of meditation is a quality of free, liberated consciousness, and therefore, we do not need to engage in substances to experience the natural state of awakening. They are completely contrary, which is why we are very strict purists in this tradition regarding that.
Likewise, with any act of masturbation, or lust or desire. The more you feed lust, the more it grows. The stronger it becomes. And this is a primary fault that we work against, because expelling the creative energies depletes one of the capacity for awakening our spiritual potential, our divine intelligence. There are forces in that matter itself, as we said, that are very creative. It can empower our genius, and if it is wasted, it can deplete our psyche of vital forces that are very necessary. So this is the foundation.
Outward repentance involves that: avoiding wrong behaviors, adopting praiseworthy behaviors, but more importantly, there is a deeper issue here, which Aishah al-Ba’uniyyah explains:
Inner repentance with which the Sufi folk are concerned, is to turn away from all things and towards God, mighty and glorious. ―Aishah al-Ba'uniyyah: The Principles of Sufism
So there has been a lot of controversy regarding the Sufis, whether or not they obey the exoteric divine law within the Muslim tradition. The reality is that a sincere practitioner of any meditative tradition obeys both external codes and the inner reality, the inner work of those traditions.
So physically, we can turn away from pornography and lust, from drugs, from alcohol, from mistaken behaviors, but now the real work begins: perceiving and removing the desires for those behaviors, for those actions. Many people struggle. They abandon lust and temptations externally, but in their dreams, in their mind, in their daily life, they can see how lust permeates everything. The “I” touches the senses, everything. So the internal work is a long process, but it begins by first renouncing external problems, external behaviors that condition us.
This master also relates how:
Repentance is not valid without three things: remorse for sin, abstention from it, and the resolution not to return to it. When one of these conditions is not met, repentance is not valid. This is the rule for repentance for sin between the servant and his Lord. ―Aishah al-Ba'uniyyah: The Principles of Sufism
So reality we must feel remorse, but what is it? It is different from morbidity and shame, from feeling pessimistic and doubtful―flagellating ourselves that we are bad people. That is not remorse.
Shame is an ego, a defect, that we have to comprehend and eliminate. Shame is inverted pride: a sense of self that feels that it is not worthy and that is a sense of identity that is inferior, that must be seen, comprehended in its nuances, and eliminated.
Remorse is different. It is the power of the soul that really ennobles our deepest sentiment for change. It is comprehension. It is the longing for acquiring wisdom in life. So many people and humanity really don't have that. They have no remorse. Simply look at the news. People are rarely feeling sorry for wrong behaviors anymore. People who do not feel sorry for their mistakes are very far from the law.
Therefore, they must work, according to Samael Aun Weor, with the Rune Rita. And if you study the Nordic yoga, the Nordic runes, the practices of energy and mantra from the book The Magic of the Runes, one can work with the Rune Rita to empower judgment, internal conscience, so that one has a deeper connection with divine law. One can work more effectively.
Abstention means to no longer enact those behaviors rooted in desire, and this is often where people get stuck. We feel remorse, but do not act ethically in situations and temptations when desires emerge. For example, many people we have spoken with suffer with masturbation. People are really inspired by these teachings, by the concept of chastity, by the beauty of how these ideas add up, how sexual purity is the origin of the greatest virtues in humanity, in the human being, how meditation unfolds the strength of the soul, how self-realization is mapped in its very intricate explanations and diagrams of Kabbalah. All this is very beautiful and inspiring. However, when it comes to the facts of daily life, many people go back and forth, vacillating between lust and spirituality, and this is because they cannot renounce their desires.
Some of you may be familiar with the myth of Sisyphus, about a man who carries a stone up a hill, a difficult precipice, and when he reaches the top, lets the stone drop against the bottom, only to repeat the same struggle again with more difficulty. Some people have interpreted that as a metaphor for the modern man, such as with Albert Camus and his existentialist philosophy.
In a psychological and sexual sense, this has to do with working with the stone of sexual energy, caring Yesod up the mountain, the spinal column, but then when reaching the top after practicing chastity for a time, renouncing chastity and engaging in those sexual behaviors that result in the loss of that force. And so the stone drops in the mud again.
There are many people who vacillate like that. They go back and forth. They practice sexual transmutation for a time. They renege. They go backwards, and then they try again and they fail. They try again and they fail. And of course, this type of behavior produces very sour people, a morbid atmosphere.
This type of mentality is represented by Judas Iscariot. Judas is an apostle who betrays Christ, a spiritual fornicator. While loving Christ, he loves desire more, and this is the reality for many people. And we don't say this out of judgment for people who are struggling. In fact, we are relating these principles because we want to help. People who masturbate or engage in wrong behaviors, should really contemplate the beauty of the soul. Lustful people should contemplate the beauty of chastity.
Take a flower, a rose, an orchid, and examine its pedals. Meditate on that plant. Look at the beauty of its aura, its fragrance, its symmetry, its texture, its expansiveness, its purity. That is a representation of chastity―but at the level of a plant. It is very primordial, basic.
In a human being, chastity is much more. It is the virtues and qualities of beings like Muhammad, Jesus, Buddha, Krishna, Moses, the prophets, Samael Aun Weor. Those are powerful virtues, powerful beautiful elements that we have inside, and if we struggle with lust and temptations and desires, reflect on that beautiful nature that is in you. Contemplate:
What is the beauty of chastity?
What is the strength of it?
What are its qualities?
What are its principles?
Examine how purity, sexually speaking, is the origin of everything else: the empowerment of the soul, the sword and shield of righteous action. Meditate on those qualities. Examine them. Look at the reality of it in yourself, how better you feel when following this law.
It is a law of nature. There is animal nature and there is human nature, as we have been explaining. Animals follow mechanical law, and if we follow mechanicity, we suffer. The divine law, شريعة Shariah, is precisely sexual purity. It is how worlds, how galaxies, how stars are organized. It is the force of love that originates gravity, chemistry, heat. Everything in the universe is the result of that creative potential at the level of divinity.
We have that potential inside, but it is a spark that needs to be developed. And so, we have to realize that it is not necessary to suffer anymore. The reality is that if people engage in lustful behaviors, it is because they choose to do so. They don't really comprehend in the moment how it will bring them pain. Suffering is really a choice, in many cases. Liberation is a choice. So we have to really evaluate what it is that we want.
If we really comprehend how lust is harmful, then we will develop the resolution not to go back to it. And this is not a matter of following other people's rules, that it is something that is stated in Gnosis or in Islam or Sufism, in Buddhism and Jainism, in Judaism. We don't do this because other people say it's good, but because it has a practical result upon our psyche. It is a lifestyle. It is a conscious way of living with more health or happiness, more integrity, more compassion. We do it because it makes us happy, not because it is repressive or stale or boring.
We have to really evaluate what we want. There is a scientific basis to chastity, and really there have been some studies, scientifically speaking, that are just now promoting and explaining the power of this energy: of how purity is the origin of genius. But we have to really evaluate, again, what we want most of all for ourselves, because everything is a choice.
Just as we examine the virtues of the soul in relation to chastity, in relation to lust, you follow the same procedure for every vice. If there is a problem with anger, we have to contemplate serenity. A problem with greed, visualize and imagine the power of altruism and philanthropy. If we suffer with laziness, examine what diligence is. Look at the opposite. Don't just contemplate the negative, because if you do so at the exclusion of anything positive or real in yourself, you will become very sour, as I said. Learn to contemplate virtues and their practical application to your life. That is how we really build confidence, and this is the essence of sincerity.
Sincerity of the Heart
As we stated, there were laws of within meditation. To experience the state of meditation, it is necessary to have remorse for mistakes and to recognize our conditioned states.
Evaluation comes first. We have to see it in action and have the intention to want to change, to even want to look. The psychological work cannot begin if we don't learn to observe ourselves, if we don't recognize wrong psychological states, and if we don't work to eliminate them. Al-Qushayri states:
From an analytical perspective, repentance has causes, degrees, and parts. First comes the heart’s awakening from the sleep of heedlessness and the servant’s recognizing his negative condition. He will attain to this if he manages to pay attention to the reprimands of God, the Truth within him, by listening to his heart. This is found in the hadith, "God’s counselor is in the heart of every Muslim," and in the hadith, "There is a piece of flesh in the body: if it is sound, the whole body is sound, and if it is corrupt, the whole body is corrupt. It is the heart.” ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
People often complain that they don't know God, that they don't have experiences, that they don't know the Being, the will of divinity, and this is somewhat mistaken. The reality is: what does our heart tell us in relation to a problem, a relationship, a conflict? What does intuition say? That knowledge in the heart that does not have any intellectual basis, except knowing that one knows. And if we follow our heart, our inner judgment about a situation, the more we feed that discriminative analysis, our conscience, we deepen our connection.
Divinity speaks through the heart, not the head. There are some powers and siddhis mentioned by the yogis that one can develop in the mind as a result of this science, but really, everything is gravitating around the heart. The heart is the solar system of one's very being. If we want to know the health of our heart, our level of being, we begin with sincerity―really examining a mathematical point in our interior. It is not found in the past, reminiscing, not found in day dreaming about the future, but being here and now.
Self-reflection and Resolution
Recognition of our errors is the beginning of meditation, comprehending ourselves. Meditation has very distinct phases and there are three which we study in books like Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology by Samael Aun Weor:
Self-observation we have explained abundantly. We gather data by looking at ourselves, looking at the facts. What are the different thoughts, the different feelings, the different impulses in our daily states, moment by moment?
This is vigilance. This is awareness. This is mindfulness, presence. We learn not to be absent. We have to look at ourselves as if we have never seen ourselves before. We may know that we are angry, but the fact is: are we observing that anger?
Where did it come from?
What are its thoughts?
How does it feed?
What does it relate to?
What are the different selves or egos that accompany it? Because no deep defect or ego emerges on its own.
We can have a difficult situation at work: someone criticizes us, and then if we are observing ourselves, we can see distinct feelings of hurt self-esteem, followed by pride, and the anger of retaliation. In a moment, we can catch, through alert novelty, the different interchanges and exchanges of those defects, how they connect, the thread of comprehension that helps us understand the relationship between them.
We have to learn and see this in ourselves. Analyze the three brains: the intellect, the emotions, and our actions―our movements, our instincts, our sexual drives. Self-observation in Sufism is muhasabah, inner accounting. Gather information. If you want to go to war against a spy or an enemy, you have to observe the spy in action. Look at it. See it. Get data, so that when you go home to meditate, you can judge it effectively.
So, based on your data that you have received in your observation throughout the day, you learn to close your eyes. Withdraw the senses. Go within yourself. Ignore the body. You can work with breath or energy work, mantras, to help calm the mind and the heart, as well as your physicality.
Concentrate and imagine the scenes of your day. Review them. Remember them. Pick an event in which you saw different egos emerge. Look at the facts. See it for what it is, and in the silence of your contemplation, study each ego. Study what you observed. Look at it clearly, and if you feel remorse and repentance while you are observing it, that is a good sign, because you are deepening your prayer and your supplication for help.
Judgment occurs once you have looked at the facts. Do not think about what you saw. Simply observe. Comprehension unfolds as you direct your concentration and your visualization upon the scene.
Look at it. Look at the data. This is not an intellectual process. It is a discrimination of the heart. This is something that you learn only through experience, through practice. When you have truly judged an ego, when you really understood how it emerged, what it fed upon, what it relates to, how it wasted your energy, how it creates problems, where it came from, etc., you can proceed to judge that ego.
It is like judging a spy in court. You go to court. You present the facts, and the law or the judge sentences that spy to death for its crimes. This is execution, the final stage.
Execution has to do with when you pray to your divinity, “Please remove this ego from me! Annihilate it, for I have understood it. I do not want to act upon it again!”
Comprehension unfolds in successive meditations. It is not like in one meditation, we are going to eliminate many egos. In fact, it takes time to process. It is gradual. Nature does not take leaps. The birth of the soul does not occur spontaneously. Repentance has to be deepened, and is successive and progressive.
Some days you may go deeper into an ego. There are levels amongst defects, certain depths that are more profound and others more superficial. Work on what you see and what you can change. This is how we reflect upon ourselves.
And this is how we are resolved not to go back to what we were. When you have really worked upon egos and have prayed for their elimination to the divine feminine, the Divine Mother, al-Baqarah, al-Buraq, the lightning―then, you develop the resolution not to return to mistakes, and you really are dedicated because you are seeing changes. You don't behave the same way you did in certain situations. The actors that perform those tragedies, dramas, and comedies are no longer there. We don't react at all. Only the Essence is pure, there, present.
This is why Al-Qushayri states the following:
When the servant has reflected in his heart on the evil of what he is doing and has seen the ugliness of his actions, the wish for repentance and for leaving his negative behavior will form in his heart. God will help him by confirming his resolution, his starting to return to good deeds, and his readiness for the steps of repentance. ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
So, this is the meditation: retrospection meditation. We see how ugly the mind is. We are evaluating the data, and we wish to annihilate them [our egos], to repent. If we are really annihilating egos, we are developing more light, extracting the soul that is trapped in those nafs, those faults. This is how we gradually return to good deeds.
The ego of hatred is replaced by serenity. The ego of lust is replaced by chastity. Selfishness, with altruism and faith. Doubt with knowledge. Our Being can even give us experiences internally about our work. This helps to deepen our resolve. They deepen our readiness for these steps of repentance.
How to Strengthen Repentance
Oftentimes, our depth of repentance depends on our environment. It can be difficult to change certain behaviors when we choose to associate with people and environments that are contrary to our spirituality. Many friends or people can influence us towards certain actions. People are attracted to friendships, relationships, and environments based on their level of being.
Therefore, our level of being attracts our life, and many times when we want to raise our level of being, we face the difficulty of our relationships―loved ones or close associates who do not want us to change. Oftentimes, it can be good to disassociate from certain people when we know they will suffocate or snuff out the flame of our efforts for spiritual change. This is could be a good thing. There is some credence to this, so that we can develop an internal space, a psychological, spiritual atmosphere by which we can develop our deepest longings.
If such people are really our friends, they will respect our choice not to go to the bar. They will affirm our free will. If they don't want to be friends with us because we don't party, smoke, drink, have sex, or do drugs anymore, then they probably weren't our friends in the first place.
The reality is that our environment affects us a lot. If we invest our energy in relationships and behaviors that condition our consciousness, then it is going to be very difficult to transform that. You can spend one hour in meditation, but if for 12 to 23 hours, you are engaging in behaviors that are contrary to your spirituality, then your spirituality is probably not sincere. It's not going to have much depth or force.
It's a law of nature. Is it easier for a rock to go up into the sky or down towards the Earth? Our level of being rises the more we change negative behaviors and adopt positive behaviors. Just as we follow the trajectory of negative actions, likewise, we follow the trajectory of superior actions.
This is how naturally, in accordance with the law of affinities, we can learn to associate with more spiritual people, elevated people, more like-minded individuals. If we are really sincere in our efforts, we will awaken in the internal worlds, in the superior regions of the Tree of Life where we will meet beings who are superior to us, who vibrate at that level of nature. In synthesis, the reality of the ego is that it weakens the more we stop feeding it, but it's always going to fight us in our best intentions.
So, repentance is valid when we not only feel remorse, but abstain from ego, abstain from desire, and we continually apply effort towards our endeavor. We have to do it 24 hours a day. There is no exception. It has to be a lifestyle. Meditation is a lifestyle. It is not a belief system. Of course, in the process of change, we make mistakes. We go back and forth. We are struggling. We are beginners. We extend beyond our own reach. We fall down. We fall off the bike, so to speak, but if we are continually and sincerely evaluating our work, investing more and more energy into virtue than into desire, then we will radically shift our direction.
This is symbolized by the Qibla, which is a niche within a temple, a mosque towards the east, towards the stone of Mecca. It is a symbol of praying towards that sacred stone and, symbolically speaking, Qibla has to do with our intentionality.
Where do we pray?
What do we direct our attention and energy into?
The Qibla represents this. I like the saying from the Sufi Master Bayazid al-Bastami. He states the following:
When you are separate from the Kaaba [Yesod], it is all right to turn toward it, but those who are in it can turn toward any direction they wish. ―Bayazid Bastami
So, work with sexual energy. Wherever you direct your attention, you spend creative energy. If you directed it towards virtue, you empower your consciousness. If you direct it towards desire, you disempower your consciousness and suffer the consequences.
Therefore, what is our direction? What is our Qibla? For that determines what we receive related to the Hebrew קבל kabbel, Kabbalah. It is the same etymology there, قِبْلَة Qibla. To receive, spiritually speaking, we have to direct our concentration towards our spiritual efforts.
I will relate at length a quote from Al-Qushayri that explains all this:
These steps begin with his leaving bad company―that is, people who would entice him to turn back from his purpose and confuse him about the rightness of his decision. Perfection at this level only comes with the diligent practice of witnessing that increases the servant’s longing for repentance and with the dedication of his efforts to accomplish his resolve through the strengthening of his fear and hope of God. ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
So, witnessing has to do with perceiving directly the results of our work, practically, through facts.
Then the knot of his persistence in negative actions will be loosened from his heart. He will stop running after dangerous things. He will rein in his ego from pursuing passions or desires of the flesh. Then he will immediately abandon his sin and confirm his resolution never to return to the like of it in the future. If he proceeds according to his intention and acts in conformity with his will, he has been granted true sincerity in his repentance. But even if his repentance has weakened once or many times and only his force of will induces him to renew it―and the sort of thing occurs very frequently―he must not give up hope of repentance on account of such incidents because, "Surely to each period is a decree established" (13:38). ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
The Blessings of Repentance
So repentance is a profound state and station that initiates the path, as Abdullah Ansari of Herat states in his Stations of the Sufi Path:
Repentance is turning to God. God Most High says, ‘Turn to God with sincere repentance’ (66:8).
When we have direct knowledge from experience, we have spiritual life, reality, happiness. Wisdom is from the word vis-dom: “the power to see” through vision. This is the Sufi witnessing of the divine, where we experience the states of our Being, which is happiness and altruism, compassion, sacrifice, inner strength.
This happens in our interrelations. This is the power of perceiving our relationships to humanity and the wisdom of knowing how to relate effectively for the betterment of society.
Wisdom, in synthesis, is knowing how to relate to the Being, to ourselves, and the world. It is self-reflection.
Contentment protects us from many things like a wall. Contentment is a shield. It is comfort from poverty, from starvation, from affliction, from sickness, from wars.
If we are really working effectively in this teaching, we are given protection. This is something I have validated many times. So despite facing certain hardships and struggles, divinity provides blessings for those who are really sincere in their work. People often suffer because they always desire more, even if they have more than enough. Meditation can unfold for us when we stop grasping or craving for different experiences or circumstances, but acknowledging that we have everything we need to change. If we have a mind and a heart, the consciousness, and a body, more or less healthy or fit, we can do this work. If we have the sexual energy, we can work.
So, hope mediates many things for us. Hope is the joy we feel because we know divinity is helping us. This is real faith. We know from our life and our daily experiences and our meditations that we are getting insight and direction. This is gradual. It is built. If we suffer from a state of despair and hopelessness, obviously, that is a very deep depression to emerge from, but there are ways to escape it: to comprehend virtue, the happiness of the soul, hope in divine things.
Remembrance helps us in times of danger, to remember right action in moments of crisis, and repentance cures us because we eliminate the causes of affliction and never go back, when we are sincere.
Abudallah Ansari of Herat continues:
Repentance is the signpost on the path, the leader of the kingdom, the key to the treasure, the intermediary that assists you to become united with God, the condition for being accepted to the divine presence, and the secret of all happiness. ―Abdullah Ansari of Herat, Stations of the Sufi Path
This key is alchemy: the work with the creative energies. It is the secret knowledge that opens the door of the mysteries.
The pillars of repentance are threefold: remorse within the heart, apology upon the tongue, and severing one’s attachments with evil and wicked people. ―Abdullah Ansari of Herat, Stations of the Sufi Path
So there are degrees of repentance and we will explain them.
There are three types of repentance: the repentance of the obedient devotee, the repentance of the sinner (‘asi), and the repentance of the gnostic (‘arif). The repentance of the obedient devotee comes from reliance in his own obedience and considering his acts of devotion to be of great import. The repentance of the sinner comes from seeing his sins and acts of transgression as insignificant. The repentance of the gnostic is from ingratitude vis-à-vis God’s conferral of favors upon him. ―Abdullah Ansari of Herat, Stations of the Sufi Path
There are levels of being and stages of the path. Sinners see that they have made mistakes, but don't comprehend the depth of their transgressions. We can know that we committed a wrong, but we don't really comprehend the depth of it. We don't feel sorry for it. We have knowledge, but we don't have understanding. We can know that we really hurt a person or a friend, but not feel or comprehend the remorse related to that, because we can justify ourselves etc.
Obedient devotees who practice meditation can perform many practices but still feel mystical pride and vanity for their achievements, so to speak.
And lastly, gnostics have deep ecstasies or samadhis, but don't appreciate the value of them because they continue to persist in very subtle conditions of mind that obscure our full embracement in relationship with the truth.
Let's elaborate finally in this last slide about the signs of the devotee in the center and the Gnostic, the degrees of the initiates and practitioners in meditation.
Setting great stock and reliance in one’s own obedience has three signs. The first is seeing one’s own obedient devotion as constituting one’s savior and protector. The second is regarding with contempt those who neglect their devotions. The third is not investigating the defects in one’s own actions. ―Abdullah Ansari of Herat, Stations of the Sufi Path
So many people, they may practice meditation and they apply too much worth to their own exercises. They feel very proud that they can meditate for certain hours in the day, that they do certain exercises. These are known as Pharisees within the Gnostic tradition, and then the Christian tradition as well―to feel proud and that we are better because of our spirituality.
We have to be humble. We have to practice, but without attachment to the fruits of those exercises, because the reality is that only divinity can provide progress. We can feel mystical pride for people who don't practice Gnosis. This is very common, a very subtle ego that everybody develops in this teaching. And also, this type of pride is not recognizing how we are at fault when we are. So this is something that happens among the devotees, especially beginners, which is all of us.
Now the signs of the sinner is different. Worse, we could say. These are the signs of what one must do to repent of those errors:
Beholding one’s own sins and acts of transgression as insignificant also has three signs. The first is considering oneself as deserving of forgiveness by God, the second in remaining at peace while still persisting [in sin], and the third is having intimate friendship with wicked people. ―Abdullah Ansari of Herat, Stations of the Sufi Path
In reality, this is most of us. We commit crimes against divinity and believe that we will be forgiven. This is a very common trope within Christianity that you can just go through life as the prodigal son, and then on your deathbed you can beg for forgiveness and God will absolve you. This is wrong. Real forgiveness occurs when we are no longer capable of committing those crimes, because the egos responsible for them are dead.
Many people even feel satisfaction in their defects and don't even suspect that they are guilty of mistakes. This is your common lay people who may think that they are very ethical or upright, but still engage in behaviors that are problematic.
Also, being friends with people who inspire us towards lust, towards alcohol, drugs, sex, addiction, can often be more harmful than helpful, regardless of how we feel about our attachments.
Lastly we have the following:
Likewise, there are three signs indicative of ingratitude for God’s conferral of favors upon one. ―Abdullah Ansari of Herat, Stations of the Sufi Path
This is the level of the Gnostic, how the Gnostic must repent. So again, if you are looking at these three degrees, we are looking at the levels of beginners, intermediaries, and advanced practitioners: شريعة Shariah, طريفة Tariqah, حقيقة Haqiqah / معرفة Marifah.
The first is ceasing to regard oneself as contemptible, the second is considering one’s spiritual condition as of great value, and the third is stepping back from the joy of intimacy with God. ―Abdullah Ansari of Herat, Stations of the Sufi Path
So repentance has levels, degrees. The repentance of a sinner is different from that of a devotee, and especially distinct from that of a Gnostic, a master.
Samael Aun Weor explained in many books that we are miserable slugs in the mud of the earth and that we must never forget that only the Being, Allah, is worthy of praise. Many so-called masters of this tradition place too much emphasis on their mastery. So, considering one's spiritual condition is of great value is something that is very applicable today in the Gnostic Movement. There are many people in Gnosis who go around proclaiming that they are initiates, saints, masters. Sufism teaches that a saint who proclaims their sainthood to the world is in danger of losing their sainthood. As stated by Al-Hujwiri in Revelation the Mystery:
My Shaykh used to say that if a saint reveals his saintship and claims to be a saint, the soundness of his spiritual state is not impaired thereby, but if he takes pains to obtain publicity he is led astray by self-conceit. ―Al-Hujwiri, Revelation the Mystery
And Samael Aun Weor also said that one should not accept masters in the physical world, but learn to travel in the internal planes, specifically.
When the disciple is ready, the master appears.
Lastly, Gnostics who approach the joy of intimacy with divinity, yet identify with their mind again, they lose their ecstasy, the samadhi and then they sin against reality. So levels of repentance.
This is just a little outline of where we might be and what we aspire to and what we seek to change. Obviously, the most profound act of repentance is to comprehend the ego daily, to self observe daily, and to eliminate our mistaken aggregates daily, with as much depth and frequency as we can. And I recommend that if you are meditating profoundly with retrospection, that you also reflect on the virtues of your Being, your soul, because that is your true nature. That is how you know what you are fighting for in yourself.
I would like to open up the floor to questions.
Questions and Answers
Question: How do you know when you are fully in touch with your soul?
Instructor: There are levels to this. One basic example is when you are in a difficult situation. This is something that I have reflected on in my own life. Sometimes internal experiences or astral projections don't come readily. We go through periods of absence, so to speak, rather than presence in our internal life, and in the physical world, we might have a difficult circumstance in which somebody confronts us, comes at us with a lot of anger, with a lot of resentment, a lot of hurt self-esteem, and is attacking us with their energy. Now, we know that we are more in touch with our soul, our conscience, when we act ethically to those problems. So instead of retaliating with hatred or self-justification, or pride, we learn to respond with humility and compassion. That is one level.
I think that is the most concrete example I can think of, because I know sometimes we like to think that to really be in touch with your soul, you need to be out of your body in the astral plane, the higher dimensions. There is that reality to that, but more importantly for us, we know that we are really deepening our connection with our divinity and our Being, our soul, when we act uprightly: upright thought, upright feeling, upright action.
Question: What do you mean by going deeper in an ego? Is that having a new point of view in on a situation?
Instructor: Yes, that is one component. To really go deeper into an ego, we may have some understanding at our level about how anger works in a particular situation. We can understand its thoughts and feelings and impulses to act, but on a deeper level, we may not be seeing everything. We can have a different point of view in our meditation whereby we perceive directly how our perspective was originally skewed, such as, we have an argument with a friend. We feel justified. We feel vindicated and therefore we argue back and forth in a heated debate. Now if we are meditating and going deeper on a defect, we might have observed in that moment when we were angry, we can perceive through a vision or our imagination, a comprehension, how we perhaps were mistaken, and that the other person could have been seeing something differently from us.
You can actually have that vision where you see from another person's point of view, because the consciousness is dynamic. It is expansive. It is multi-dimensional. It is not limited to one point of view, but is universal, and therefore you can have actual visions where you perceive states of consciousness, and from that point of view, you can see third person, or literally look at yourself in a new way. So yes, that is possible.
Comprehension unfolds magically. It is always alert and new. There are distinct qualities and flavors to it that only you will apprehend through your own practice.
So it's always good, as one of our students at mentioned in our private messaging, to have a set time in which to practice. Personally, I like to retrospect at night, review my day, and all the moments that led up to when I have gone to my meditation chair, when I am going to introspect and before I go to bed. Usually if we discover really strong egos, it's good to meditate there and then if you can. If you have the time and space and ability to do so, but it is always important to have a set discipline by which we are meditating and practically implementing these tools.
Some people like to get up early in the morning, 4:00 or 5:00 a.m in order to retrospect and to meditate deeply at that hour. It is always very good to awaken at that hour to practice, but if you find that it is easier to stay awake in the night time before you go to sleep, before you dream, you can retrospect at that time too.
Question: Can you explain which sephirah of the Tree of Life the Rune Rita involves to help us visualize them during the practice?
Instructor: The Rune Rita relates to the sphere of גְּבוּרָה Geburah: Justice, or in Arabic, دين Din. Geburah is الله دين Allah-Din, الدين Aladdin, the judgment and justice of God, the discrimination, the intuition, the perception of divinity that knows how to discriminate with effectiveness and clarity. It is our consciousness, our ability to visualize and imagine, to perceive.
So when you are doing the Rune Rita, you pray and you ask to work with that part of your Being known as the Kaom. So internally, in the astral plane, part of our Being related to the sephirah Geburah is known as the Kaom. They are the police of the law. And literally, in an astral experience, you can meet them. Your own divinity, your own conscience that appears in the form of police officers, either to hold you responsible to the law or to arrest you for a mistake, for a crime, is the voice of ethics in your heart.
Personally, I have worked with my inner Kaom many times in the astral plane, where I have had negotiations with them in accordance to the law of karma. The voice of conscience speaks abundantly through the heart of the mysticism of Geburah, the judgment of divinity. It is how we judge ourselves. It is the strength of God, and it relates astrologically to Mars, to iron, such as with the Iron Surah as we mentioned previously. So when you work with the Rune Rita, imagine that sephirah, the strength of divinity in you, helping you to judge your faults or mistakes, and asking the inner Kaom to help you be more accountable to the law of divinity, to Shariah.
Question: I struggle with remembering past sins before remorse sets in. There is a bit of satisfaction and I am horrified by this. I feel great remorse. How can both exist and how to combat this?
Instructor: Both exist because we are not one way or the other, but we are mixed. We have a little bit of consciousness that is free, about 3 percent, statistically speaking, according to Samael Aun Weor. And we have 97 percent conditioned psyche or ego. So therefore, our center of gravity is going to be towards our faults.
It is going to be very difficult to transform that, and of course there is a lot of suffering involved, because as much as we want to follow divine law, chastity, pure things, pure principles, we have a lot of perdition inside, and this is a source of great moral pain. The way that you combat it is not through repression, not by pushing it away, not hiding from it, not justifying or feeding it either, but comprehending it with serenity.
I know some people like to think of this term Jihad in Islam as something as a holy war, in which we exert a lot of effort and fight against demonic creatures, with demonic beings who are oppressing us. The word جهاد Jihad comes from the Arabic mujahadah, which means “to strive,” to work against, to perform effort. But this effort has nothing to do with the mind. It has to do with comprehending the mind. Real effort of the consciousness, of the conscience, is a serene state. You cannot combat chaos with chaos, with repression or justification. You have to look at it serenely. Let the mind settle by not identifying with it.
You can deepen your serenity through exercises in this tradition. We have many practices that can help you give strength and stability to your concentration as well as your serenity, such as the mantras of this tradition, Sacred Rites of Rejuvenation, the runes, especially, are important. The more energy you empower your consciousness with, the more stable, flexible, strong, and serene it will be.
In reality, the best spiritual warriors are serene at all times. This is very well known amongst the samurai, before that tradition had degenerated, where these warriors would defend their homes and their families, their loved ones, their Lords, by meditating before battle. They knew that if they give into agitation, they would be lost. They would make mistakes. In the same sense spiritually, this doctrine of Bushido in Japanese, the way of the warrior, is found within the Muslim doctrine of Jihad: holy war or striving against the ego, internally.
So don't beat yourself up on the fact that we have errors and egos and defects. You could spend a lot of time being pessimistic or morbid about it, or you can work effectively on your defects, what you can see, and develop serenity, because after repentance and really working not to feed those egos, we develop serenity of mind, calmness of thought, equanimity, and stabilization of the Essence. The best weapon is serenity, without exception.
Question: Does shame come from identifying with one of the three parts of repentance?
Instructor: Shame is an ego, is a result of not having resolution to change. It is also the result of not abstaining from desire. To feel shame as an ego, as a defect, is to feel bad about having committed an error, but is an egotistical quality.
There is a very distinct difference between remorse and shame. Remorse is conscience. It is when the soul recognizes its faults, and this is something that only you can recognize through persistent efforts. Shame, if you observe yourself diligently and discriminate in your soul in your observations, is a defect. So learn to discriminate between the two, because shame is inverted pride: a sense of self that feels an identity in being morbid about oneself or self-denigrating. Instead, remorse is liberating. It is conscience.
Question: When one feels remorse or and repents for a wrong action, what part of the Being feels that pain? Does one still have to pay karma if one repents genuinely?
Instructor: This is an interesting question, because in the ultimate synthesis, the Being is happiness. There is no pain in divinity. In the absolute heights of our most profound synthesis, the Being is liberated joy, ecstasy, divine qualities of compassion and liberation and expansiveness.
The one who feels that pain is the Essence. The Essence is the one that feels remorse, because there is a pressure from within, from the Being, that is exerting its influence in our heart, that is telling us that what we did was wrong or that we failed to enact a virtuous action.
Now what is interesting is that we pay karma not only for the wrong that we commit, but for the good that we omit. But if we repent genuinely, meaning: the ego is dead, then there is no karma to pay. Real repentance is when that ego is fully dead. Nothing left. So if you had an ego of anger that was really karmic and repetitive and cyclical, that kept permeating certain aspects of your life that were problematic and then you removed it, then the karma that would have inflicted you regarding that aggregate, for having that ego, is annulled. It ceases. So karma is paid when the ego is dead completely.
Question: With respect to retrospection, I struggle with continuity of thought. Do you have any recommendations on where to start?
Instructor: Continuity of presence is best implemented when we have energy to do so. It takes a lot of energy to awaken consciousness. This is why we have so many practices of breath, pranayama, mantras, runes, sacred rites of rejuvenation, sexual alchemy, because the sexual energy that is manifested and directed to those exercises, helps to give strength to the Essence. If you want to have greater continuity of attention and awareness, to pay attention, spend some time, some significant amount of time working with your energy. With energy you have more light, more force by which to work.
If the battery is not charged, the flashlight is not going to work. If the light keeps turning off here and there, it means that you need more force. So I remember one experience, to kind of help relating to this, where I was in the astral plane around 4 am in the morning, where my Being showed me an oil lamp and the light went off. It was Illuminating a very beautiful room, and then it ran out of oil and ceased. When I woke up, I realized my mind and intellect were tired. I was having difficulty with my practices of self-observation and remembrance. But fortunately, knowing the science and being married as well, I learned to work with the sexual energy, and therefore work with the oil to enlighten the lamp of consciousness.
That oil is the semen. In Hebrew the word for oil is שֶׁמֶן shemen: the oil of anointment. The oil of purification is the sexual energy which we conserve and elevate to our mind, so that symbolically we anoint our heads. We illuminate the intellect. If you want more power to your retrospections, give yourself good energy. Transmute. Spend more time with that type of exercise.
Question: Also, do we rewind playing events backwards from the current moment or press play from the first moment we can remember that day, or could both strategies be useful in different circumstances?
Instructor: Yes, whatever is easiest for you. If you find it easier to review from the moment you sat down to back in the morning, if you are meditating at night. Or you can meditate from the morning up to the moment you entered your meditation space. Either way is effective. What is important is that you do what's easier for you, whatever is more natural.
Question: Can you negotiate karma before facing the Guardian of the Threshold?
Instructor: Yes, you can. Obviously there are degrees of work and development that you can do, but it is not necessary that you have had to face the guardian in order to be able to work out certain situations in your life.
Question: Is it possible to eradicate an aggregate through relationships with family? I have seen an ego that is distasteful. I pray to the Divine Mother and felt that I'd overcome it, but I find that certain situations trigger the ego to come up again. How do I rid myself of it for good?
Instructor: Keep meditating. Keep reflecting. Be patient. We need to be very strict with ourselves. But also, we have to be very understanding as well. Repentance does not mean we beat ourselves with a rod of iron, but instead we learn to be flexible, intuitive, enduring, diligent, patient. You'll understand that ego the more you observe it and the more you reflect on it. There are levels of understanding. There are depths that unfold as a result of our successive meditations and practices. We go deeper each time. So don't weary or cease to persist in your practice, because the more you comprehend, the more you remove until finally after comprehending deeper and deeper, you reach the roots.
So there are levels of the consciousness and subconsciousness and infra-consciousness as well, the unconsciousness, etc., 49 levels. We can understand egos in certain degrees, but it gets deeper the more we work. So have faith in your comprehension and your Being, because it is a very long work and it's very difficult to eradicate certain egos that are very deep. The more repentance we show successively in our exercises, the greater freedom we will experience until, finally, one day, we realize we are liberated from that fault. Trust in your Being, your Divine Mother, because She knows exactly the process that you need to go through to be liberated.
Question: When we recite the rune Rita: RA, RE, RI, RO, RU. Are the r's rolled? Do we open and close the feet and arms in between each mantra?
Instructor: Yes, the letter R or the consonant R is rolled like this:
When you do the mantras, you don't have to open and close the feet and arms in between each mantra. You simply keep the position with your left hand over your left hip, left leg out, right hand at your right side.
Again, I thank you for attending and thank you for your questions. Remember that this is a process. Repentance occurs in degrees. As the first state and station of the path, it is also something that we perfect gradually in relation to the other stations and states of the spiritual path of initiation. So I thank you for coming.
We spoke previously about contraction and expansion of consciousness. In simple terms, this refers to attention and awareness. We explained that if consciousness is light, that attention is focused like a flashlight. We use attention to concentrate upon different things, such as a progression of ideas in a lecture or in a conversation with a person.
We explained that awareness is different. It is expansive, like a diffused light, the amplification of cognizance. Awareness spreads out towards different phenomena outside.
We spent a lot of time discussing these principles so as to aid our meditation practice, and building off that understanding from the previous lectures, we are going to talk about a very essential discipline that is practiced within every major world religion, every meditative science. This has to do with the continuity of consciousness.
So while contraction and expansion, attention and awareness are important, it is now even more crucial if we wish to really understand this science of meditation, whether from Sufism or any faith, we have to study the continuum, the maintenance, the constant and consistent implementation of the consciousness in the present moment.
We can be attentive in a given instant, in a specific moment. Perhaps at work, we have a challenging circumstance, a trying situation, a life-threatening ordeal. Some people in the midst of a crisis, such as with 9/11, in which the destruction of the Twin Towers shocked the consciousness of everyone present, not only in the United States, but even people viewing the news across the world. Sometimes those instances can produce a very quick awakening, a spontaneous, constant shock that awakens us for a moment, if but briefly.
Many people approach religion, spirituality, meditation, because they want experience. They may have had a taste of that initial flavor of awakening of consciousness, of profound attention, of expansive awareness, but the problem becomes, can we sustain that state? Can we will it? Can we make it consistent in each moment of our life? Can we be cognizant like that, in a state of alert novelty, throughout an entire day?
Continuity of consciousness, in esoteric Buddhism, is known by the term tantra. It is the continuum, the flow, the constant manifestation of the energy of the consciousness within the meditator. Continuity of attention, of awareness, all day, is known as mindfulness in Eastern traditions. It could be called remembrance, presence, vigilance. The Sufis have many beautiful terms that relate to this essential point. One of the many wonderful Arabic terms that explain the nature of this perception, this continuity, is known as مراقبة muraqaba, which translates as vigilance and also meditation.
What is a vigil? People who commemorate the life of someone who is deceased often perform vigils outside their casket, with family and friends, many times enmeshed and concentrated within deep prayer. They don't sleep physically. Many other traditions, such as the Aztecs, the great warrior dancers, the Jaguar Knights of ancient Mexico, would perform beautiful vigils as a ceremony in remembrance of divinity. And likewise, the Sufis, many masters of that tradition would often fast, but also not sleep for prolonged periods of time. I believe Prophet Muhammad was well-known for this. He often stated and many times, referenced in the Qur’an, "It is best to lose sleep over prayer."
More importantly for us, we have to learn to be awake all the time as a consciousness, as an Essence, as a soul. It means that we have to be attentive and aware at all times.
But of course, in the beginning this is very difficult. For those of you who have perhaps practiced a physical vigil, it can be very difficult. Personally, I have done this in the past and often have spent nights deep in prayer, meditating, seeking illumination, especially in the morning hours. Waking up early, but also waking up throughout the night to perform vigil, introspecting, meditating, asking for guidance. Because if we are attentive in our consciousness, not only just one moment, but throughout our entire existence, we deepen our state. We deepen our connection. We augment our remembrance with the divine. It is even stated in one of the surahs of the Qur’an, "the recitation at dawn,” how great it is, for it “is ever witnessed” by the angels, by the divine. For how do you not know that “your Lord shall resurrect you in a praiseworthy station?" (Qur’an 17:78-79)
This has to do with really deepening our practice, because it is not enough to be attentive just for one instant in our life. We have to learn to develop consciousness, its attention and its awareness, but all the time. Otherwise, we are not going to have much depth. People who learn to have insight for a moment, who state that they have a spiritual awakening, but who do not sustain those states, eventually become swallowed by life. They are not practical. There are many philosophies and groups that teach you that awakening is just momentary. But in reality, there are levels and levels upon awakening, of presence with the Being. Heights upon heights.
So we have to be intentional. It is not enough just to have one moment of clarity. We need clarity in every instant of our existence. We have to sustain our attention and awareness with intention, with will. So people often talk about feeling a presence, an awakening, but they describe it as something fleeting. It means that they are not awakened, but they are asleep. They had a shock, perhaps a divine moment, but then the mind intervened, and now they are back again in a state of slumber, psychologically speaking. So while we can have a profound moment of wisdom, it does not mean that the entirety and totality of our life is that.
Where is our center of gravity? Where does our attention, our awareness go? And more importantly: for how long?
All religions teach the need to awaken, yet, they were never explicit in their methods. So they gave clues, but not all of the techniques that lead to that state and its diverse qualities. Every religion has a kindergarten, an exoteric doctrine, a public school, a beginning level. In Sufism, this is Shariah. It is ethics. We learn to be ethical when we are awake. If we are asleep at the wheel of our car, psychologically speaking, we cannot in any way protect our spirituality, because if we are unconscious, we make mistakes. We act upon nafs, egos, desires.
We have to learn to observe ourselves, to do that all day, to be awake, to see what is new inside. But at the same time, we need to be aware of our surroundings. So one of the points we wished to have left you with in our former lecture is that external events and our understanding of their relationship to internal states is how we arrive at comprehension of ourselves, comprehension of the ego. So that we are no longer asleep. So that we are not dozing off, not paying attention to where we are at and what we are doing―thinking of other things, of our fiancé, our friend, our wife, our partner, our family, and not knowing where we are at or what we are doing. So this is vigilance―to not sleep.
When we lose our attention, we don't really have consciousness of the causes of our own psychological states. We can be angry at a person and not know why. This is fundamentally wrong. We need to know everything: the reasons why we exist and why we act the way we do.
This is why in the beginning levels of religion, of Sufism, we work with ethics. We learn to curtail negative thinking, negative feeling, and negative actions within ourselves and in our daily life, all the time. It is not enough to be chaste for a day and to be impure the rest of our existence. Meditation does not work that way. It requires a complete introversion of our consciousness―to not blame the external world, but the look inside, to have presence within the body, to know that we are here, to know what is happening, to know why we are irritated or upset, depressed, morbid, doubtful, lustful. We have to understand our relationship to the world and vice versa, and so we have to ask ourselves, are we really here, and how do we know?
Here is a test for you. When you go to sleep at night, are you awake in your dreams, or do you see nothing? If eight hours pass and you don't know anything, it means that we are profoundly unconscious in our physical life, as we have explained in the lecture The Present Moment, because conscious awakening, if it is continuous, it manifests in our sleep, physically, so that the consciousness, which is trained, which is active, is aware and awake and intelligent and profoundly luminous in the dream world. We stop dreaming. We see those dimensions for what they are, and we can gain even more knowledge about how to change.
And so there are very distinct levels of presence, that flavor of remembrance. I am sure all of us had had a moment in which we forgot something very important, perhaps related with work, and suddenly we have the insight. We remember. We have a shock in our attention. We see something new. We have a clarity and a crispness that is distinct. It is pristine. That is a simple allegory for presence of being, remembrance of our state. It is the absence of distraction. It is the absence of the ego, but a profound presence in our own awareness, which is maintained.
These levels of presence and even absence are mapped in different ways by different traditions. In Buddhism, you have nine stages of meditative concentration or calm abiding. If you want to know more about that very famous glyph within every Tibetan Buddhist monastery, you can study Meditation Essentials on Glorian.org, or our lecture on Calm Abiding: The Stages of Serenity and our course on Gnostic Meditation.
In Judeo-Christianity, you have the Tree of Life, which documents different levels of presence, of understanding, of consciousness. Within Sufism, this marvelous tree of being correlates directly with the states and stations of the esoteric path. All of these are tools. They can help us understand where we are at in our development.
So, how present are we throughout the day, or even when we sit to practice meditation? On a simple level, we can be present for a few moments, remembering our objective during a certain session. We are concentrating on a stone, simply viewing it and not thinking of other things. We are observing the fact of that rock in front of us, and if our mind starts to think or get distracted, we don't repress. We don't justify. We don't get carried along with that associative chain of thought. We simply return to observation. But if we do forget, we get distracted, we start thinking and daydreaming of other things. It means that we are absent. We are physically in front of this rock, seated in an asana, a posture, but our mind is traveling very far away.
This has to change. We forget ourselves more often than we remember ourselves in the beginning. This change is through discipline: remembering the Being, alert novelty, remembering the presence of the Self, the Innermost, observing our defects.
So beginners struggle often to remember their Being, the focus of their practice. Their center of gravity is in the ego, not the consciousness. Masters of meditation are different. Their center of gravity is in the consciousness. It is in the Being even, but this is a gradual development. They have presence or continuity of attention and awareness at all times, even when the physical body is asleep. They are awakened citizens in the internal planes.
We get to that point through consistency in our practices, which is why Abu-I Husayn al-Nuri stated:
For twenty years I have been finding and losing―when I have found my Lord, I have lost my heart, and when I have found my heart, I have lost my Lord. ―Abu-l Husayn al-Nuri
If we remember the Being, we forget that we are the ego. Our consciousness shifts. There is a division of attention there. We are the Essence that is free. But if we invest our energy into desire, info nafs, into ego, we forget our Being. We lose our Lord, because we are concentrated on our own egotistical heart.
The Definition of Absence
"Each moment is a golden child of Gnosis" says Samael Aun Weor. "Nothing in life is ever static or dull." However, if we are not vigilant, continuously applying effort to be here and now, we do not recognize the novelty of each instant, each moment.
This is the qualifying characteristic of whether or not we are doing this right. We have to see life in a new way, all the time. If it is repetitive and dull, if we are lax in our attention, if we are ambiguous, vaporous in our awareness, misty, clouded, it means that we are asleep. We need clarity. We need crispness, but this is only refined through application. And when we forget to do the work, we have to remember, bring ourselves back. Part of that is because of our Being pushing us inside, but oftentimes we don't know what is going on around us or even within us. This is a profound absence of consciousness.
Al-Qushayri, the writer of Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism, stated something very interesting:
Absence is the heart’s absence from knowledge of what is going on in ordinary human affairs, due to the absorption of the senses in something else that is influencing them. The heart may be made absent from its sense of itself and others by the influence of remembering eternal reward or of thinking about eternal punishment. ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
Too often people project their mind on to life. We don't really see the reality of things, if we are honest, if we are really analyzing ourselves and being critical, not from a sense of morbidity or doubt, but from seeking to know the truth of our life. So this is our psychological state. We often project our fears, our hatred, our preoccupations, our ideologies, our politics, upon the world, upon others. We often identify with externals, but really don't see any internal cause for anything that happens in the world. Many times people think that presence has to do with perceiving correspondences within our surroundings. Sometimes people look to find numbers that repeat, coincidences, things that seem rather supernormal, but I like to relate to you a statement by Samael Aun Weor in his Revolution of the Dialectic about the need to have a receptive mind, to not project our beliefs unto what we see, to be present.
If you are eating, eat; if you are getting dressed, get dressed, and if you are walking on the street, walk, walk, walk, but do not think about anything else. Do only what you are doing. Do not run away from the facts; do not fill them with so many meanings, symbols, sermons and warnings. Live them without allegories. Live them with a receptive mind from moment to moment. ―Samael Aun Weor, The Revolution of the Dialectic
We have to be present. That continuity must be maintained always.
So the term absence is very dynamic within Arabic and Sufi mysticism. For most people, absence is our daily state. We are inattentive or unaware of our psychological states and the external environment in which we are. However, there is a type of spiritual absence, but I invite you to reflect deeply on this and not get caught up in the terminology. It is something different than what we commonly associate with absence, as if no one is home. You know, we say that a person is not attentive or is kind of lost, that “There is no lights on at home.” There is no one there. There is no one conscious or present in front of us.
There is a type of spiritual absence. It can refer to a type of profound absorption, internally concentrated and connected with divinity, so much that the initiate seems unaware of what is happening outside of oneself. This type of spiritual absence is an advanced state amongst masters like Samael Aun Weor.
I'll give you an example. He knew how to leave his body at will. He could be talking to a person physically, and yet he could close his eyes and leave his physicality behind and enter the internal dimensions, intentionally, at any time. Other people could be talking to him, but he would be in samadhi. His consciousness was so focused on the internal worlds, his center of gravity was in the internal worlds, and that it was difficult for him to be present in the body. Now, most of us we struggle to be aware of our physical body in the first place and even our environment. Meanwhile, we lack cognizance of pretty much anything. Beginners also do not know. We do not know how to enter the astral world, the internal worlds, the heavens of the Tree of Life, at will.
Meanwhile Samael Aun Weor and many prophets like Mohammed, Krishna, Moses, Buddha etc., are awakened internally. Samael Aun Weor had to exert effort to be in the physical body, because his intelligence was focused, his center of gravity was focused in the heights of the Tree of Life, so otherwise he was absent here, physically, due to his absorption.
We can relate a few more excerpts about this from The Principles of Sufism.
For instance, it is said that Rabi bin Khaytham was going to visit Ibn Masud when he passed by the shop of a blacksmith and saw hot iron in the forge. He lost consciousness and did not come to himself until the next day. Having awakened, he was asked about what happened, and said, "Through that fire, the existence of the People of the Fire came to my mind." This is an absence that exceeded its bounds and became a faint. ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
So these are stories. These are principles the Sufis spoke in a very allegorical way, which people read literally. If they want to, that is fine, but more profoundly in relation to the states and stations of the esoteric path, this has to do with an absence of the body and presence in the internal planes.
So this presence is when we have experiences about the realities of heaven and hell, the Tree of Life, and its shadow, the Tree of زقوم Zaqqum, the hell realms, the infra-dimensions. And when we learn to really walk this path, we have to face many entities that belong to what the Qur’an refers to as the left-hand, the path of demons, sorcerers, black magicians, unbelievers. The term unbeliever in Arabic is كافر Al-Kafir or the الكافرون Al-Kafirun, the unbelievers (plural).
So what does this term mean? There is a surah in the Qur’an called الكهف Al-Kahf, which is the Cave, كهف Kahf, where the unbelievers, الكافرون al-Kafirun, dwell within the caves of the Earth, in the infra-conscious dimensions, which we access in dreams or in meditation―if we are pulled in that direction based on our level of being. Because some people have nightmares, very disturbing dreams, and that is a reality. That is hell. It is not a made-up illusion. It has a real existence, but of course, it is inferior in relation to the multi-dimensionality of existence.
So the people of the fire are those كافرون kafirun, unbelievers, who are not only outside, but inside. Our own egos do not believe in divinity. They fight against us when we want to be chaste, when we want to meditate, to concentrate. So that war against the unbelievers is inside our own defects.
So that is an example of a type of absorption in which something physical reminds one of a profound principle, internally.
Through that fire, the existence of the People of the Fire came to my mind. ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
For those of us who have had experiences of these infra-conscious realms, we can speak with clarity that these are really profound states of suffering, and that we seek to avoid in our work―to confront and to change, so that we don't go to those states permanently. But things can remind us, give us remembrance, give us a shock, so that we forget even what is around us― even introspect inside. In a sense, that is a type of absence, physically, but a presence within our consciousness, a remembrance.
There is also a statement in this quote that is interesting to analyze:
It is also told that a fire broke out in the house of Ali ibn Husayn while he was in prostration, but he did not turn away from his prayer. When asked about what had happened, he said, “The remembrance of hellfire protected me from that fire." ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
So again, these are psychological truths. They are not necessarily literal stories where, because he was praying, his house didn't catch fire, because he was remembering hellfire. That metaphor, that symbol, that allegory, for our purposes, has to do with the fact that if we are remembering our Being, we will not get hurt physically. We will face dangers, but we will be protected.This is something we verify through presence, through awakening, through faith, through knowing. It is not a belief. We know the source of our protection from experience. Divinity is the Mighty, the Wise, says the Qur’an, but of course, we have to remember who He is, what the Innermost is.
The Causes of Absence
Absence and presence have different causes that we have to become attuned to, to understand, and even to manipulate at will. Al-Qushayri states:
Sometimes absence from one’s senses may be brought on by the Truth’s disclosure of an inner meaning. Those who experience this are differentiated according to their states. ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
So sometimes, we can receive profound insight into a problem, an experience of a dream we had in the morning, or a realization that emerges seemingly from nowhere, whereby we feel a shock of conscious understanding. We become internally absorbed, in that our external circumstances do not really influence our attention or awareness. We are present within, but absent from the cares of the world.
While Sufism might seem to present these terms, absence and presence, as opposites, they in truth represent dynamic qualities, principles with multiple layers of meaning. So what are these degrees or differentiations of states according to Al-Qushayri? We have to remember that there are three levels of meditative science: introductory, intermediate, and advanced, or in Arabic: شريعة Shariah, طريفة Tariqah, حقيقة Haqiqah / معرفة Marifah. Or: ethics, the law, Shariah; the path of meditation daily, which is Tariqah; and the truth and knowledge we gain from experience of reality is Haqiqah (the truth) and Marifah (knowledge, or in Greek, γνῶσις Gnosis, or in Hebrew, דעת Da’ath). They all reference the same thing.
So we have to learn where our center of gravity is in our states of presence. In the beginning levels, it is sporadic. We forget ourselves more than we remember ourselves. In the intermediate paths, we are learning to remember ourselves more. And in the highest stages of wisdom, one does not forget the Being at all.
So we can fluctuate in our meditation practice in a given session through all of these states, from one moment to the next, but a master has their full development in the knowledge and truth of their Being.
We have to begin where we are, and many people have experiences, even though they are temporary, are so profound, that they place them on a spiritual path. For example, you have many initiates of the White Lodge who were once very poor people, had negative character, and were suffering a lot. Because they had a transformative experience, they left behind a life of materialism and entered a life of spirituality. This is allegorized in every tradition, whether from Milarepa in Buddhism, St. Paul of Tarsus in Christianity, and in this example in Sufism, we have the Master Al-Haddad. Let us read an excerpt about him:
It is well known that the state of Abu Hafs al-Nishapuri al-Haddad (the Blacksmith) began with his leaving his trade. He was in his shop when a reciter of the Qur’an chanted a verse, and an influence came over his heart that made Abu Hafs lose awareness of his senses. He put his hand into the fire and drew out the hot iron. One of his students saw this and exclaimed, "Master, what is this?" Abu Hafs looked at what had manifested through him, abandoned his trade, and left his shop. ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
This is allegorical wisdom. The Sufi language is Kabbalistic. Many people are like this blacksmith. Many of us identify with materialism. But it is a recitation of the Qur’an that opened Al-Haddad's eyes. It is interesting that even names in Arabic have a lot of meaning. Haddad resembles Al-Haddid, which is a surah in the Qur’an known as “The Iron.” Interesting that a blacksmith has the name iron, or a name resembling that word.
Let us read a verse from the Qur’an that relates to this principle. It is from Surah Al-Hadid, The Iron, verse 25:
We have already sent Our messengers with clear evidences and sent down with them the Scripture and the balance that the people may maintain [their affairs] in justice. And We sent down iron, wherein is great military might and benefits for the people, and so that Allah may make evident those who support Him and His messengers unseen. Indeed, Allah is Powerful and Exalted in Might. ―Qur’an 57:25
The language of the Qur’an is Kabbalah and alchemy. It is symbolism. There are verses of literal meaning and there are verses of symbolic, allegorical, metaphorical, conscious, symbolic meaning.
A balance represents equanimity, serenity, tranquility, the scales of inner peace. Iron is a symbol of willpower, spiritual force, concentration. Haddad, the blacksmith, was so absorbed by the mysticism of the Qur’an that he put his hand on a hot iron and didn't realize it. This is implying that, as with many of the Sufi stories, that he was in this case physically not hurt, but this is a symbol how the fire and heat of lust cannot harm us if we are present with the Being. Lust, ego, nafs, desires, cannot affect the person who is present with God. So in this example, Al-Haddad left his shop. He left behind a life of materialism and became an initiate of esoteric Islam.
So with training we can learn to be absent from lust and present with chastity. These are psychological states, and in the beginning we are often filled and afflicted with desires, and many students write to us complaining and suffering a lot: how do I overcome my egos, my defects, my desires, because we have so much of it? We have to learn to be like Al-Haddad.
Remember your Being. Remember the message of the divinities, such as through the Qur’an, the Bhagavad-Gita, the sutras, the tantras, the writings of Samael Aun Weor. Remember those teachings and practice them to the best of your ability, so that with presence of Being, you learn to even approach the sexual act, your marriage if you are married, the creative energy, and not to be burned by that force, to not be hurt by it. Instead, we transform it and we create the soul.
The Definition of Presence
So let us talk about the definition of presence. This is awareness. The Arabic word for awareness is muhadarah, which is where you get words like presence, حضور hudur. When we say that someone is present, it implies that we are attentive, listening, apprehending the nature or meaning of phenomena.
So the mind needs to be in a state of receptivity, passivity, and the consciousness needs to be active, intentionally looking. If you are not intentionally perceiving your existence, if not providing effort in that regard, if we are not consistently manifesting our cognizance in accordance with the needs of each circumstance of life, it means that we are not awake.
We are in the physical world―in Kabbalah, Malkuth, the physical body―and usually we are not even aware of our physical body itself. As we stated previously, we often forget our breathing. Sometimes we get into an argument or we are angry. We are panicking. We are breathing really fast. We are not even aware of this process. If you control your breath, you control your mind. You control your body. This is a basic fundamental practice within Sufism: to control the breath, to be grounded in where you are at. So if you forget what is happening to you, just breathe, relax, become concentrated in yourself. This is a kindergarten practice, but it is the foundation of everything else.
So let us remember ourselves and our body. Wherever we go and whatever we do, let us not be distracted to the reality of our daily life.
As Al-Qushayri states:
As for presence, it means that one is present with the Real, because if one is absent from creation one is present with the Real. [The term] implies that [the state] resembles being [physically] present: the remembrance of the Real captures one’s heart, and one is present within one’s heart before the Lord Most High. ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
What does it mean to be absent from creation but present with the real? Many students often ask what it means to have presence, to be in remembrance of the presence of divinity.
Examine your conduct. Examine your behaviors. Examine your mental states. Do you act out of benefit for others, with compassion, with equanimity, even when you are being insulted? Do you respond with kindness to the person who has betrayed you? Do you have patience for those who afflict you and hurt your pride? Do you give to your neighbor even though it hurts? Do you forgive the person who betrays you? Who has walked away from your most generous actions? Who doesn't appreciate your best efforts?
Our behavior shows us our level of being. Are we acting with divine principles, or are we reacting to life out of pain in order to produce more pain?
We have to be in the world, but not of it. Be present. Respond to life, but don't react. What does this mean? In a moment, we are afflicted with rage. We are angry. Someone betrayed us, did something very hurtful. Our pride is seeking to express in our words: sarcasm, hatred, wrath. We have to learn how to respond to a situation, but not with desire. So while we previously stated it is important and even necessary to be patient in those circumstances, in challenging ordeals, we always have to respond in some way, with presence of some kind.
Life always demands a response. We cannot live in a bubble and think that we can avoid the problems of existence. The reality is that we need to intelligently deal with everything, with cognizance. You have to do it by being present of your behavior. First, physically, and then internally.
What does your mind want to do in this situation, even if you don't voice what you are really feeling? Our invisible behaviors show us our level of being. What do we secretly want to do? Do we want revenge? Do we want vindication? Do we want the world to embrace us as a hero, even when we are not? When we are wrong?
We have to examine our internal qualities, and when you follow your conscience, knowing the right thing and actually doing it, we learn to end problems. They cease. They evaporate. The real problem is our attitude, our mind, our identification with life, that feeling of “This person really harmed me and I need to get revenge.” We are identifying in those instances. Our sense of self is invested in the problem and it is the problem.
So, don't invest your energy in that, because that energy needs to be conserved and used for the Being. Without energy, we cannot be present. We cannot be awake, even physically. If you don't sleep enough, if you don't have enough vital energy, you can't pay attention. You will nod off. The same with our spirituality. Examine your behavior: how we behave, and think, and act, and feel, and how we exert energy. Where we direct our attention, we spend energy. So, don't invest it in external things. To know divine qualities, we have to really renounce egotistical qualities in ourselves.
These profound states of being that everybody wants are found here and now. They are not in some far distant future. The presence of God is found by doing what is right in your heart―not out of vindication or shame or pride or malice, but for the benefit of the other person, even when they are wrong… especially so. This is Shariah, the basics, the foundation of religion. If we don't do this, we cannot meditate. In fact, we will be wasting our time.
This is why Dhū’l-Nūn Miṣrī stated the following:
The key to success in worship lies in meditative reflection (fikrat)…whoever persists in such reflection in the heart will behold the invisible realm in the spirit. Whoever contemplates God through keeping watch over the thoughts which pass through his heart will be exalted by God in all of his outward deeds. ―Dhū’l-Nūn Miṣrī in ‘Aṭṭār: Tadhkirat, 154-155
Therefore contemplate yourself, for as the Sufis state, "He who knows himself knows his Lord."
Presence with God
The presence of God, the Being, has degrees. This is why we study the Tree of Life. It is a map of levels of being. Let us read the wisdom of Al-Qushayri:
Presence with God, is to the degree of absence from oneself and the world. When it is said that so- and-so is “present,” it means that he is present in his heart with his Lord, not unconscious of Him and not distracted, in continuous recollection of Him. In that state, and according to his degree, the Truth reveals to him the spiritual meanings and secrets for which he has been chosen. ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
Let's examine this glyph of the Tree of Life and this statement by Al-Qushayri by asking a few questions.
How present are we in the body?
Are we aware of energy circulating and flowing in us?
Do we sense our emotions? Do we have control over what we feel, our mood, our sentiments?
Is our mind calm, or is it racing with thoughts, associations, ideas, projects, plans, day dreams, fantasies, commentaries, internal chatter?
This is mapped out on the Tree of Life, this dynamic. The lower four סְפִירוֹת sephiroth or spheres of this glyph on the right represent:
Most people who approach meditation don't even get past the body. We are usually so unaware of our body throughout the day that if one sits to practice, even if very sincere, to go inside, to introspect―the body is agitated. We have an itch. The arm wants to move. There is no control. It is impossible to relax.
Ethics are so important because the physical body must be at peace, and if we are engaging in negative behaviors all day, we are agitating our body. It becomes tense. If we are angry, we clench our fists and our teeth (some people, perhaps). We all have our tendencies, and if we don't know how to relax the body, we cannot do anything. So this is the beginning. After adopting a posture, we relax. We let the body sit. We don't move. Let it be. Let it rest.
In order to aid in this process, we work with energy: Yesod, the foundation of our spirituality. יְסוֹד Yesod in Hebrew means “foundation.” It is to work with the sexual creative energy, and within Sufism, when we work with breath, as in with any tradition, we are circulating that vital force throughout our body, our heart, and our mind. That energy helps us to relax. Deep breathing helps us to calm, helps to be still.
So after adopting a posture, are we really present with the energies of the Being through our breath, through our work, through our pranayamas, our mantras, our transmutation exercises?
As we are examining ourselves, is our mood calm?
We have to suspend emotions and to enact superior emotions through prayer. We have to pray sincerely for divinity to help us. This is not found in some formula or memorizing a complicated prayer. You can do that, and it's very beautiful and wonderful if you can, but more importantly, prayer is sincere and effective when we are genuine―not by mechanically reciting 10,000 Hail Mary’s or reciting Al-Fatihah, the opening of the Qur’an, mechanically, repetitively, without knowing its meaning.
We also have to suspend thought. Don't let the mind dictate to you your life. But this doesn't mean that we repress what we see. We have to comprehend our mind, so that it naturally, by looking at it and not investing our selves into it, it starts to settle on its own, like the waves of a lake that cease its turbulence when we no longer thrash against the waters, so to speak, with negative behavior.
This is all preliminary. When the lower four sephiroth are calm, we can learn to concentrate with willpower, with concentration. This is תִּפְאֶרֶת Tiphereth, which means “beauty,” or in Arabic, إحسان Ihsan, “beautiful action.” It is the source of all beauty and action within our very being.
Without willpower, guided by Geburah, our consciousness, our conscience, we can't affect anything. גְּבוּרָה Geburah in Hebrew means “judgment.” It is our intuition. It is knowing what is right and wrong, even if the mind does not understand.
The thread of that awareness is very subtle in us, very profound, and if we are all listening to this type of lecture or studies, it is because we're following our conscience, which is the voice of our inner Being, חֶסֶד Chesed: “mercy” in Hebrew. Or الرحيم Al-Rahim, as we state in the opening of every surah, except surah 9, in the Qur’an:
بِسْمِ ٱللَّٰهِ ٱلرَّحْمَٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
“In the name of Allah (the Being), the Compassionate, the Merciful.”
Mercy is Chesed. It is the Spirit. It is رو Ruh in Arabic but רוּחַ Ruach in Hebrew―the same meaning.
We have to follow our inner judgment, to know what is right and wrong from our heart. And as we learn to connect internally by suspending our body, relaxing our body, and calming our senses, the energies, suspending our emotions, withdrawing from thought and concentrating upon our inner intelligence, we learn to follow and understand the voice of judgment in ourselves, with clarity. This is why meditation is essential, to withdraw from the world internally and not to be caught up in the mind or negative emotions or lustful sensations, because they are all distractions.
So judgment in Arabic is دين Din, relating to Geburah, the sign of Mars, astrologically when you related it to this tree [of life]. The metal is iron, so going back to the study of the Iron Surah, verse 25, we can unpack this even further:
We have already sent Our messengers with clear evidences and sent down with them the Scripture and the balance that the people may maintain [their affairs] in justice. ―Qur’an 57:25
So what is that clear evidence? It is internal experiences in your meditations, and when you are in the dream world, the astral plane, Hod. So the scriptures all emanated from the internal worlds, from the divine, from the higher sephiroth of this Tree, and it is the force of balance, because justice is the scale of balance―how you balance the deeds of your life with intelligence, which is above, בִּינָה Binah in Hebrew. It is “understanding.” It is a primordial root intelligence that is beyond matter and materiality and energy, but which is the cognizance of the most high aspects of divinity.
We have to use our balance, our judgment in how to live our life with willpower, with iron. Willpower can relate to Tiphereth, the human soul, which is the source of the most beautiful actions, as we stated.
Balance, justice, genuine religion, is a state of meditation, whereby we evaluate the contents of our mind with the scale of equanimity and the iron of concentration.
If you think of iron, it is a metal that is very solid. Is our concentration like that, or do we forget what we are doing when we sit to practice? Let us develop ourselves. Let us get serious. Let us actually develop ourselves consistently. We learn to support this teaching, the scripture, and the unseen messengers when we awaken internally. At that time, no longer are those masters invisible to us, but visible within our experiences.
The Dynamics of Absence and Presence
Absence and presence are also flexible terms amongst the Sufis. We are going to build off this explanation by reciting some quotes here. This is from Al-Hujwiri, Revelation of the Mystery, the Persian manual of Sufism that is very well renown amongst Sufi circles. Samael Aun Weor, we have to remember, said that the best of Sufism comes from Persia. So this is a very valuable text to study.
These terms, although apparently opposed to each other, express the same meaning from different points of view. “Presence” is “presence of the heart,” as proof of intuitive faith (yaqin), so that what is hidden from it has the same force as what is visible to it. ―Al-Hujwiri, Revelation of the Mystery (Khashf al-Mahjub)
We talked previously about certainty, اليقين Al-Yaqin. We arrive at certainty when we have inner experiences in meditation, in visions, in astral projections.
We have to become totally absent to the ego. We have to escape its conditions so that we can really see. The key is relaxation. Suspend your senses. Work with energy to empower your consciousness. Concentrate and visualize with your perception or imagination, otherwise known as insight, firasah in Sufism.
“Absence” is "absence of the heart from all things except God" to such an extent that it becomes absent from itself and absent even from its absence, so that it no longer regards itself; and the sign of the state is withdrawal from all formal authority, as when a prophet is divinely preserved from what is unlawful. Accordingly, absence from one’s self is presence with God, and vice versa. ―Al-Hujwiri, Revelation of the Mystery (Khashf al-Mahjub)
So on those highest samadhis, mapped by the Tree of Life, we have no longer any conception of self-hood. We are merely the pure, clear, expansive, profound, illuminated consciousness united with the Being. Whenever we identify with thought, we lose our experiences, but at that point we no longer regard ourselves as a terrestrial person. Our identity is no longer there. There is only the Being. And it is a “withdrawal from all formal authority” because, really, the authorities of this world do not know anything of internal states, the real experiences of the Being. This is very evident if you look at the politics of humanity and all the division amongst religious and social, spiritual groups.
Withdraw from formal authority and gather your authority from your inner experiences. Rely on your own divinity to teach you what is presence and what is absence.
Degrees of Presence and Absence
To be present in our body is different from being present with divinity in the higher dimensions. Each ספירה sephirah, we could say, is a veil for what is more subtle, that which obscures our understanding of the dimensions beyond it. Entering higher worlds is uncovering veils, obscurities―seeing reality in a more profound level of nature.
So the Qur’an allegorizes this very beautifully in many symbols relating to the horizon, the sky, how “Allah makes the heavens a sign for the believers,” whether the rising sun, the setting sun, the moon. These are not literal explanations. These are symbols of qualities of Being, because if you are in the internal planes and you see these astrological bodies, they are teaching you, divinity is teaching you something profound about yourself.
If the sun sets, it means something needs to die. If the sun is rising, it means something is being born. If there are stars, it is a symbol of presence with the Being, unity with divinity at our level, deeper remembrance, clarity, perception. But if the sky is clouded, it means that we are asleep. We have a lot of ego. We are cloudy in temperament and mind.
“Present," with the sense of being back from an absence, may also be used for the servant’s return to his perception of his own condition and human situations. This, however, refers to the presence with the creation, while the first use of the term refers to presence with the truth. States of absence vary―for some Sufis, absence is not prolonged, while for others it is continuous. ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
So our degree of development depends upon how consistent we are in entering silence of mind, serenity, insight, our internal worlds. We stay asleep and absent if we don't practice. This is a simple law of cause and effect. For some, absence is prolonged. For others it is short, depending on our level of being. Some of us may wake up more depending on our development, our work, our efforts. States of absence are replaced with states of presence when we are consistent at our exercises.
The Subtleties of Absence and Presence
So in synthesis, the more we are absent to the ego, not identified with it, the greater our cognizance of divinity. The more attention and energy we invest in the ego, the greater our absence of and distance from the Being.
Once entering clearer states of remembrance and divine experiences, oftentimes the methods we use to reach those heights are no longer necessary. This is a very subtle thing that Al-Qushayri really explains. For example, to really be present on an object of concentration, such as a mantra, pranayama, a candle, a visualization, an image, requires that we become absent to distractions. And this is really the value of such exercises. We train ourselves to be here and now, to discover how our mind keeps us asleep, how we fantasize, how we are hypnotized.
It takes tremendous effort and energy to be focused in the beginning. However, by deepening our tranquility, it takes less effort and more familiarization with that state. And when you have achieved perfect serenity, it takes no effort, which is why Al-Qushayri states in Principles of Sufism:
According to etymology, the disciple is "he who possesses will," just as the knower is "he who possesses knowledge," because the word belongs to the class of derived nouns. But in Sufi usage, the disciple is he who possesses no will at all! ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
This is very subtle. It means not to have any egotistical will, no desires present, no distractions, no fantasies. After we obtain perfect concentration, we don't need any effort to maintain it. We only need to be familiar with it. This is very well known within Buddhism, especially. When obtaining serenity, we are absent from desire and present within our Essence, the human soul, Tiphereth in Hebrew, Ihsan in Arabic, the beauty of the consciousness within Kabbalah.
Let us read some excerpts from this book, Revelation of the Mystery, (Khashf al-Mahjub):
...inasmuch as all excellencies are bound up with presence, and as absence from one’s self is a way leading to presence with God, the way becomes an imperfection after you have arrived at the goal. ―Al-Hujwiri, Revelation of the Mystery (Khashf al-Mahjub)
So when you are fully concentrated in divinity, it does not take any exertion or effort. You simply have to be present. This is a qualitative state you have to become familiar with through a lot of practice and trial and error.
Presence (in God) is the fruit of absence (from desire), but what light is to be found in absence without presence? A man must needs renounce heedlessness (distractions, novelties, vain amusements, a distracted mind) in order that, by means of this absence, he may attain to presence (with the Being); and when he has attained to his object, the means by which he attained it has no longer any worth.
So desire can be interpreted in different ways. Obviously in the Gnostic teachings, strictly, we use desire to refer to the ego, but some people refer, the Sufis refer poetically, semantically, to the desire for God, which is a longing―better said―for our uses, our language. Longing is different from desire, the Essence from the ego. But here, the Sufis often take the same word and give it multiple meanings in different contexts. This is the beauty of that system, the complexity of it, the subtlety.
Absence of Personality and Presence with God
The qualities of initiates, their presence in divinity, is not understood by common people. Many Sufi stories are, as I said, parables of psychological truths, initiatic principles. Many of them demonstrate not the aloofness of Sufi Masters, but the reality of mystical states. One such master, Bayazid Bastami, illustrated how we have to become lost to ourselves. Samael Aun Weor even stated in a lecture called “The Knowledge of Oneself” the following:
We must attain a change in order to eliminate all our weaknesses. We must even lose our own personal identity. This means that the change must be radical and complete. Our personal identity, for example, "I am so and so," must be eliminated from oneself; and then one day we will find that we have no personal identity. If we truly want to become different, then obviously personal identity has to be lost. We need to convert ourselves into entirely different creatures, happy creatures; and we have the right to happiness. ―Samael Aun Weor
I know a lot of people hear that and read that and get scandalized. This does not mean we become zombies. The Essence has a dynamic solar personality. The absence and annihilation of ego does not mean that we are soulless, without life. In fact, it means we are more creative, more brilliant, more intuitive. You possess ethical character that knows how to respond to life in its worst problems, with clarity, with equanimity, with intelligence. We must eliminate egos, nafs, so that we develop the soul that knows how to live life with efficacy and wisdom.
However, people are really afraid of this term annihilation. They run away from this term even though it is essential to every religion. Annihilating the ego is painful for people because they have never experienced anything outside of it. People don't want to approach it because they are afraid. They mistake their personality, their hatred, their impatience, their lust, their vanity, their pride, their envy, etc., as if it is true. This is a mistaken sense of self, these selves, these egos which must be removed, these nafs, these lower animal qualities that the Sufis speak abundantly about eliminating in their doctrine. And in that process we gain understanding that we are not this terrestrial personality. We are not the ego. We are something more profound, and the Sufis have a beautiful story about this:
It is related that Dhu-l-Nun al-Misri sent one of his companions to Abu Yazid al Bistami so that the man could bring him word of Abu Yazid’s quality (meaning: his level of being). When he reached Bistam, the messenger inquired after the house of Abu Yazid and went in to see him. Abu Yazid asked, "What do you want?" "I want Abu Yazid," he said. "Who is Abu Yazid?" was the reply, "and where is Abu Yazid? I myself am in search of Abu Yazid!"
Obviously, the Sufis play with the trope of the initiatic madman: that disciple of God who is never understood by the masses because they cannot comprehend the eccentricities and dynamic profundities of the Spirit, because they [the initiates] don't go along with conventionalisms, with vain religious beliefs and outward adherences.
So this is a symbol of something very beautiful and profound. You know, this initiate was so advanced in his work that he was saying “Where is my personality? I am looking for a self here.” Meaning, he is really scrutinizing and looking for those final egos to eliminate. You know, this is very high work. Obviously, we have thousands upon thousands of egos in the beginning, but as we advance in this process, the ego is eliminated until there are none left. So Dhu-l-Nun recognized this and cried by how beautiful this allegory is, that this initiate is saying, “I am looking for a self here and I don't find one.” This refers to initiatic hierarchy.
Presence Over Absence
However, to be truly present is a very difficult path, which is why the following teaching was given by Al-Hujwiri in Revelation of the Mystery:
A certain man came to Junayd and said, "Be present with me for a moment that I may speak to thee." Junayd answered: "O young man, you demand of me something that I have long been seeking. For many years I have been wishing to become present with myself a moment, but I cannot; how, then, can I become present with you just now?” ―Al-Hujwiri, Revelation of the Mystery (Khashf al-Mahjub
You know many people have difficulty in the beginning of our studies knowing how to relate to people even, because they are so introspective and they are learning how to be present for the first time, and learning how to relate to the world in this new state is difficult, because this type of analysis and work requires a complete introversion and transformation of our attitude. But with time we learn. With practice, we learn to be present.
Therefore, absence involves the sorrow of being veiled, while “presence” involves the joy of revelation, and the former state can never be equal to the latter. Shaykh Abu Sa’id says on the subject―
So again, that is symbolism from the Qur’an. If you want to know your level of being, how present you are, ask internally and let them show you the sky in the astral horizon. Do you see clouds separating you from the galaxies, from the stars, from the heavens? Or do you see the light of morning shining out of the darkness, rising as a symbol of your birth? Levels upon levels of light, presence in deeper states.
We will conclude with a statement by Samael Aun Weor which synthesizes everything we have said:
Wherever we direct our attention, we spend creative energy. ―Samael Aun Weor, Fundamentals of Gnostic Education
So, how are we spending our attention?
What are we focused on? For how long, and why?
Why do we invest our energy in certain behaviors, in certain qualities, in certain actions?
What direction do we want to take our life?
If we are really analyzing our behavior from day-to-day, we can sit in a quiet space after our mindfulness practice, our self-observation, and remembrance throughout the day. We close our eyes, we relax, we introspect. We calm the body, calm the senses. We can work with pranayama, breath work, transmutation, mantras, etc., energy work. You can even do runes before you sit to meditate, so that you have energy circulating in you that is going to be conducive for your relaxation. Your ethics combined with energy create a very powerful conduit by which to meditate.
When you sit quietly, relax your heart through prayer. Pray to your Inner Being to show you what you need to work on and what you need to do, to help you understand your daily circumstances, your behaviors, so that you can change. Concentrate inwardly and do not let your thoughts distract you from your goal.
When you are really profoundly concentrated, your mind will be serene, especially if you are working really well with energy. You know, for people who have a very disbalanced mind or imbalanced mind, a lot of suffering, a lot of affliction, it is good to work with sacred sounds, mantras, so that you gain clarity and calm. And when the mind is still, you can focus on whatever you want to understand.
I recommend reviewing your day. Retrospect your day. How present were you in the morning, in the afternoon, in the evening? Where did you forget yourself? What did you observe? What did you remember? How present were you in certain situations?
Bring this to your attention in your imagination. See it. Visualize it. Look at it. And look for those gaps in which you were not awake. Try to remember where you were, what you did, what you said, who you were with, what happened, what you were thinking, what you were feeling. We have to learn to understand what happened to us and what led us to sleep. Try to remember everything that happened. Retrospect.
There is a very powerful mantra that you can use in our tradition, in Gnosis, that can aid you in remembering your day and even your dreams, if you have just awakened from sleep and you want to remember what you just dreamed about, and by not moving your body, mentally pronounce the mantras RAOM GAOM.
Samael Aun Weor says this mantra is like dynamite. It will help you blow a pathway into the subconsciousness, the caves of the mind.
At this point in time, I invite you to ask questions.
Questions and Answers
Question: Can you recommend a practice for trilling the R's in mantras?
Instructor: I believe you can even go on YouTube and look up Spanish pronunciations of the letter, because R is very common in Spanish. You know, there are a few videos you can probably look up and find that will teach you how to use the pronunciation of the letter R. Basically, it involves rolling your tongue at the roof of your mouth so that you can make the tongue to vibrate, but if you look online for some videos, you can definitely find some.
Question: Don't you have to move in the morning to turn off your alarm?
Instructor: So in reference to not moving your body when you physically wake up in the morning so that you can remember your dreams―this can be very difficult. I know I have had that problem where I had to get up early for work, especially before COVID-19, very early, in which my alarm would pull me out of my experiences and I had to return to my body, but sometimes, I find it difficult to remember what happened.
It takes a lot of willpower. Even if your alarms going off, hopefully, it's not too much of an annoying one. Maybe pick something that is more relaxing. You know, some meditative bells or something that is quiet. That is what I like to use for an alarm. And, I don't move. Even if I have time constraints, I concentrate on myself and do the mantra mentally so that I could remember, especially if the experience is very profound and very intense. That's something that you don't want to forget, what happened internally. And if you move your physical body when you wake up from dreams, the connection between the astral body and the physical body gets shaken, or the astral body and its memories become diffused and don't really enter the physical brain if there is too much movement.
When you wake up in the morning, obviously, there is a connection that is very vital and sensitive, which is why we shouldn't move the body, just in the same way that you can't reflect the images of a lake, of the heavens, if the water is rippling with movement. The same principle applies here. But, if you really want to remember your dreams, I just recommend don't move. If your alarm is really annoying, then as I said, maybe change it.
Question: We have a question about awakening. Does it happen suddenly or is it more like a process happening gradually?
Instructor: Samael Aun Weor mentions in The Perfect Matrimony that awakening is gradual. Now, there are moments in which we can gain greater clarity, such as through an ecstasy or samadhi, an experience that is very divine, mostly because we get help. The Sufis spend a lot of time talking about the blessings of the initiates called بركة barakah in Arabic or the Hebrew version of בָּרוּךְ Baruch, meaning “blessings.” So as the Jews say, ברוך אתה אדוני Baruch Attah Adonai, “Blessed be the name of the Lord,” and Barakah is the blessings of a master when they give light to us, so that we can have a temporary experience that gives us some kind of illumination.
Now, as for developing that completely in us in its full totality, it happens naturally over a process, gradually. Because just as a tree doesn't grow into a profound oak, from a sapling in one day, it happens through a process, a temporality. It takes time, in conventional language. So the important thing is not to be impatient with wanting experiences or development, because you have to be really tenacious about our exercises and to work even if we feel like we are not getting results, because with time you will see the roots of your practice. So it happens gradually.
Question: Does the degree of ego elimination one achieves in a single practice depend on the complexity of the ego?
Instructor: I would say the degree of ego elimination occurs in accordance with the depth of our comprehension. If it's a really complex ego, obviously, it's going to take more comprehension, which means that if our understanding is more profound and deep, we are going to really eliminate the roots.
But for that, we have to really be absent from the body physically and be present internally, to go inside and even in the higher dimensions to investigate the source of those egos that we have to really analyze.
Comprehension is what grants us the degrees of elimination. How much do we understand? Because if you don't understand the depths of an ego, we can't really eliminate it in its roots. Obviously, there are egos that are very superficial, that exist within the higher levels of the mind, but in the depths we have to go very profoundly into ourselves, and that is a very long work, a very patient work.
Question: My understanding of the Nous atom is that this is the Christic atom of our heart, or in our heart. (Instructor’s explanation: for those of you are not familiar, it is in the left ventricle of our heart itself). How do you reconcile this with your reference to the ego as nous or spelled n, o, u, s, e?
Instructor: So, in Arabic the term for ego is نَفْس nafs: n-a-f-s. νοῦς Nous in Greek is different. That is the Christic atom as you mentioned, but ego is nafas or nafs in Arabic. So different, different terminology. Obviously, the ego has nothing to do with the Atom Nous because the Atom Nous is a very divine spiritual influence in us, which also relates to Geburah, to Din, to justice in Arabic. Allah-Din, the conscience and judgment of God. It relates to our Atom Nous, which is used to judge nafs, the lower soul, the animal egos we have to eliminate.
Question: Explain the difference between general spaciness with absence, for I found it hard to relate with this world anyway. Too much introspection has left me a few friends.
Instructor: So I like that you asked that question, because it relates to a very serious problem amongst many Gnostics. You know, some people can easily read the term absence within Sufi language and conflate it with being spacey or imbalanced, not knowing how to socially relate to others. And of course, the stories within Sufism seem to correlate or explain, or show that dynamic especially, that the Sufi masters are just out there.
I think that is part of the appeal in Western societies, that these Sufi masters have a type of understanding that goes against conventionalities. Now, while there is a level of credence to that, at the same time, if we are learning to be absent from the ego and present with our consciousness, it doesn't mean that we are going to be spacey people, like zombies, not knowing how to relate to other people. In fact, these are states of consciousness in a more profound sense, levels of being.
We have to learn how to be present in our daily life, that is the important thing, especially as beginners. We need to learn how to be absent to our ego but also present in our body, present in our consciousness, so that we know how to relate to the world. There is a very fatal polarity in this term of absence, in such that we can be so introspective that we don't know how to relate to other people, and this is mistaken.
The important thing is that when we introspect, we also have to be aware of the world outside of us, to know how to relate our internal world with the external world. This is why we spent a lot of time in our last lecture talking about contraction and expansion. We have to be aware of our surroundings, expansive in our cognizance of the people we are surrounded with or surrounded by, and also contracted or attentive to our internal states. We have to analyze our personal states and our external events, and the relationship thereof. This is what Samael Aun Weor mentions as the requisites in his book Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology. We have to be present in the body, present of our internal states, introspective, but not being antisocial. That is very different. That is a personality problem, typically.
You know, it is also egos of awkwardness that don't know how to relate to people in certain situations. If you eliminate egos of awkwardness and observe that in yourself and really destroy them with comprehension in your meditations, you are going to learn how to be more social and ethical, and even funny.
I will relate to you an experience I had long time ago, because in the beginning of my studies I had this problem, where I was so introspective that I didn't know how to relate to people, and so I lost a number of friends and was becoming very sour at my practice, until finally my Being came to me in the astral plane and reprimanded me. He showed me some instructional videos teaching me what I needed to do. He said I needed to be, and this is the funny part, “like Bill Murray,” and I was kind of shocked by this answer. What I saw in his relationships, in the video with other people, that he was very social and funny. People liked him, but at the same time, I could see that this representation of this actor was being very serious in his work. Meaning, there was the thread of continuity of attention there, but meanwhile, knowing how to relate to other people in a very humorous way. I mean it's a funny experience, but a very objective one. You know, I have meditated on that for quite a while now, but it really helped me because I was being very negative in my practice, thinking that introspection has to do with not relating to people―and this is wrong.
Being absent to the ego means to enact positive states or qualities of Essence, of Being, and in this way, you develop better friends, better friendships. You know how to relate to people more. You know how to support your community better, how to help others, how to be helped, how to receive help without that morbidity or shame that usually accompanies that type of introspection that is negative.
Question: In comparison, the partial opening of the eyes of Buddha, does it symbolize the need to be aware of the outside world?
Instructor: I am sure there is a lot of symbolism in that, or different representations of Buddha, but yes, that is part of it. We have to be aware of the outside world but also introspecting within. So again, contraction and expansion are represented by that common depiction of the Buddha. Buddha simply means “awakened one,” which is the purpose of our exercises in our studies in Gnosticism.
Question: I am a medical provider amongst homeless communities in Los Angeles. It can be quite stressful during the day as we deal with life and death situations, or situations that deal with heavy drug use and sex work. How can I keep the consciousness awake in these scenarios? I tend to think about my patients in meditation, which I struggle with at times.
Instructor: This is a very delicate thing. It's important that we feel safe, that we feel protected, that we feel awake, and also that we are really taking care of our own health, especially if we have a job that is very difficult. I never worked as a medical provider, but I have had other jobs that have been pretty taxing on my mental and emotional health, and in those situations―where it was not necessarily life and death, but very confrontational or difficult, and in your case, dealing with life and death situations or negative influences―it is important to really work with energy. You know, it could be very draining to be in those circumstances and you can often feel very disempowered, whether by the system one works in or one's own abilities, feeling insufficient or deficient or doubtful. Your profession is obviously a very noble one and it is very much needed, so if this is something that your Being is pushing you to do and if it's able to provide your necessities for your life, then obviously you have to follow your conscience.
But again, if you find that there are difficulties that you can't handle, it's important to be safe, especially, to protect oneself and to create a space in oneself and even one's physical life in order to be able to handle those circumstances. I recommend, if you find that it's difficult to deal with the situations, it's hard to see it and understand it and to overcome the shock of it, to work with exercises like the runes. I remember at one of my jobs where I had to deal with, you know, pretty difficult clients, very difficult people that I had a hard time transforming the impressions of, I would do hours of runes. I would have breaks during my day, sometimes for an hour and a half or more, and I would just, instead of prepping for my day or doing other things, I would do the Rune Fah, the Rune Dorn, the seven vowels, for a long time. I would charge myself with enough energy so that I felt awake. I felt aware, and I felt concentrated in myself.
You know, the Rune Dorn is very powerful for that. It develops Christ will, solar will, so that we can learn to handle really horrible situations with grace. But of course, you have to learn balance. You can work with those runes, really practice them deeply, for a long time if you can. Give yourself enough energy to empower your Essence so that you can transform the situation, and also meditate on your reactions too. But depending on your abilities and your health, emotionally, especially with this kind of work, you need to evaluate or really consider, you know, what is going to be best for you. We have to sacrifice for humanity, but at the same time, we have to take care of ourselves too, so that is something that you need to be the judge of. But runes are especially powerful for that. Study the Magic of the Runes. Those Gnostic exercises, those yogic postures are really powerful. They can really help you.
Question: Are there times where the Being will place symbols within physical life, similar to dream symbols, that speak another language, of intuition? Often times, I feel that my Divine Mother is speaking to me in a circumstance in life where a particular event happens, which helped me to reflect, or even numbers appearing within the physical life or the physical world. Can these have meaning here within physical life, and how can you become a vigilant one without being overly tired the next day? Or perform a vigil without being overly tired the next day?
Instructor: So let's break down this question step by step. “Are there times where the Being will place symbols within our physical life, similar to the dream symbols, that speak in the language of dreams, intuition?” There can be that relationship. You know, some people have reported having experiences internally, and then that same circumstance unfolds itself physically. I have had this happen to myself many times.
Now, typically from my experience, I found that the symbols of dreams have an allegorical depth. They have a profound relationship to physical life. They explain physical circumstances, but not necessarily, you know, we wake up and then we see the same symbol from the dream. My experience has been that dreams show us something much more prophetic, and that the symbols represent qualities of being, but also how different relationships or circumstances can play out. For example, I remember one experience (I mentioned this in the Beginning Self-transformation course) that I had an astral experience where I was driving down Lakeshore Drive in Chicago, when at 4:00 am in the middle of the morning, when it was pitch-black, my mother in the dream, my physical mother, stopped me as I was driving my car. She asked me to get out, so I let her take the wheel and I got in the passenger seat, and then I woke up. Later that day, physically, I had an ordeal or circumstance in which I was at a drive-through in a Starbucks―going out of town from Chicago with my wife, to get away from COVID-19 and get into the woods, enjoy some recreation―when a person in the line had driven past me and rolled down his window. He didn't really say anything extremely offensive. But you know, I took it as an offense, and my ego was, my rage and anger was building up from that moment. And so my wife said, “I see you're getting upset here. Let me take the wheel.” So I got out of the car, she took the driver's seat, and I sat in the passenger seat and was reflecting on my own anger until I could comprehend four egos I need to work on and eliminate.
Literally in the dream, my mother, my Divine Mother better said, took control of my car, which is symbolically representing my mind, but even in the physical ordeal, my wife took the car or took the wheel, and I got out into the passenger seat. So that literally did happen. So it’s possible―more importantly for me, this was a symbol of multiple layers of meaning. Physically is one component, but more importantly, my Divine Mother, my Being, was controlling my mind and helping me to work on my ego, because it was pitch black in the dream. My mind was dark. I wasn't seeing clearly, and that allowed a certain ego to manifest in me, or certain egos to manifest in me that could have created problems.
So let's look at the rest of your question. “Often times, I feel that my Divine Mother is speaking to me in a circumstance in life or a particular event happens which helps me to reflect.”
So yes, our dreams reflect the quality of our daily life. So this is direct correlation.
“Even numbers appearing within physical existence or life, can these have meaning here within physical life itself?” I would say there could be a relationship, but as I related a quote earlier regarding Samael Aun Weor and the struggle of the opposites from The Revolution of the Dialectic, it’s important not to fill our life with too many sermons, symbols, meanings, allegories, warnings. Learn to live with a receptive mind, and in that way you can interpret how your dreams relate to your physical existence without imposing or projecting any beliefs onto what we see.
So how do you perform a vigil without being over the tired the next day? Well, the purpose is to sacrifice one's energy and time to do these practices. They could be difficult. Hopefully if you have time to sleep in later that's good, but part of the constituency of this exercise is that you stay up and meditate and practice, so that you can really go deeper in your work, even though it's going to make you tired. But obviously, find balance in what you do.
Question: I didn't really comprehend the parable of the blacksmith placing his hand in the fire. That his name represents a metal alchemically.
Instructor: Yes, his name was Al-Haddad, which in Arabic relates to Al-Hadid, which is basically almost spelled the same. Al-Hadid means “The Iron,” and there is a surah in the Qur’an called “The Iron,” specifically, where we read a quote or excerpt in relation to that story.
It is a symbol of how we use our willpower, represented by the metal iron within alchemy, to control our mind. It is willpower. We use our will power to work with the fire, the sexual energy, specifically. When he placed his hand into the fire, he didn't get burned. This is the literal meaning of the story, but symbolically it refers to how when we are alchemists, we learn to work with the sexual energy and not get burned by it, because we are in the remembrance of the divine. We are in the presence of divinity. Because in the story, he was listening to the Qur’an while he was working in his shop, and so the meaning thereof is that he was remembering the recitation, because Qur’an in Arabic is “recitation,” and it refers to his remembrance or continuity of remembering divinity. You know traditionally in Islam, they will recite the Qur’an musically, verbally, with a lot of beautiful intonations and expression. That is a practice that is very profound. I like to listen to those recitations quite a lot, because the melodies are very beautiful, but also the power in the verses is very profound if we know Kabbalah and Alchemy. They would recite, and they do recite the Qur’an as a form of remembrance. That is a text that is very beautiful, and like any scripture, we can remember divinity if we are really studying it astutely, very deeply.
When the blacksmith in the story, Al-Haddad was listening to the Qur’an, it is a reference to how he is really seeing the teachings and understanding them and practicing them. In that way, we can overcome many ordeals, symbolically. It doesn't mean we are going to put our hand into a forge and pull out hot iron because we hear the Qur’an, literally. The language of the Sufis is symbolic, so we approach those stories with a lot of subtlety in relation to psychological work: Psychology, Kabbalah and Alchemy.
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