To aid us in our discipline, we're going to explore a very important teaching to Buddhism, particularly Tibetan Buddhism, known as the nine stages of meditative concentration. Specifically, when we address concentration, we do so with a purpose of understanding where we are. We study the following diagram, which is a very famous mural that we find in pretty much every Tibetan Buddhist monastery in the world, in order to understand where we are in our practice.
The purpose of this lecture is to understand where we are: what is our level of being? What is our capability? Our ability when we sit to concentrate, close our eyes, and really reflect inside?
This teaching, pertaining to Buddhism, was taught by Samael Aun Weor in a very synthetic manner. He never explicitly detailed the nine degrees of calm abiding, or the nine steps leading to calm abiding―to have a serene mind―instead, he expected his students to really study and meditate on the teachings, and to work to comprehend this methodology in practice.
He also spoke, in a very synthetic manner, about these nine stages, emphasized in this image, which we are going to explain in detail. This image explains how, from the beginning of concentration, the mind is disturbed and wild. Then, through gradual training, our practice eventually leads us towards a mind that is completely serene, a mind that is completely still. So, to help us to really understand where we are, and how to effectively concentrate, this map will lead us towards the real gateway to meditation.
Everything that we do in these studies, pertaining to runes, mantra, pranayama, transmutation, sacred rites... these in themselves are means to develop concentration. When we sit to practice, we do these preliminary exercises to help us to focus our mind, which is really the beginning of actual meditation; it is not meditation itself.
My purpose in elaborating on what this diagram means, in relation to what Samael Aun Weor taught, is to help us be sincere and to examine the nature of our mind and what we need to do to develop concentration.
Previously, we were discussing the eightfold steps of Patanjali's yoga sutras, who wrote one of the key scriptures of yoga. When we talk about yoga, we do not refer to the physical calisthenics of the body: Hatha yoga. We are talking about "yug," from the Sanskrit, meaning union with Divinity; or "religare" in Latin, religion.
Patanjali taught that there are eight steps, which ties into the eightfold path of Buddhism. We have Yama / Niyama. Yama is restraint of mind from harmful action; Niyama is the precepts, developing real ethical discipline, purity of mind. Yama / Niyama are formed by things like Saucha (clarity), Santosha (contentment), Satya (truthfulness), Aparigraha (renunciation of worldly desires). In other words, these are the ten commandments, anything that we use as a discipline to train our mind: Yama / Niyama, to do or not to do. This is followed by Asana, which is our posture in our body. This is followed by Pranayama, transmutation, mantra, sexual energy, runes―any exercise that we use to work with the vital forces in our mind, in our body. That leads to Pratyahara, meaning, silence of mind, or suspension of the senses. This leads into Dharana, which is concentration, which is what we're going to be explaining, in detail.
Previously, in our lectures, we were talking about these preliminary steps: ethical discipline, the need to train our mind, to fulfill the vows of yoga, of religion, of discipline. As well as how to relax our body, in order to fully concentrate. We are discussing the preliminaries that lead to the actualization of learning how to focus the mind.
Samael Aun Weor taught that, when we sit to practice, we must stop thinking. This is the beginning, to learn how to concentrate. If we sit down and we examine our mind, and we see that we are thinking all the time, it means that we still have not yet developed Pratyahara, serenity of mind, suspension of the senses. Typically, the impressions of life enter our psyche, and our mind becomes disturbed as a result of not transforming those elements as they enter our mind. For example, we see a provocative image on a billboard, or on television; it strikes the mind; it offends the senses; the mind becomes identified, agitated; it becomes stimulated. We need to really refrain from these types of activities―which I will be elaborating on―as a requisite to developing concentration.
We find that our mind is over stimulated with all these impressions: they enter the mind; the mind is not still; we don't know how to transform the experience of life, as it happens in an instant. Without this understanding of mindfulness, and of fulfilling the basic vows―chastity (Brahmacharya in Sanskrit), sexual purity―the mind becomes overwhelmed, agitated; we cannot sit still.
This is represented by this image. We find here a monk who is chasing after an elephant. That elephant is our mind. The fact that is dark in the very bottom of the image refers to the dullness of our mind, the laxity of our mental states, the lethargy of our consciousness. This monk is chasing after this elephant. You see, gradually, this elephant becomes subdued, and it becomes white, purified, as a result of mind training, the nine degrees that we are going to explicitly detail.
This is precisely the path that we need to take, to realize that our mind, in the beginning, is―in this instant―very chaotic very wild. There is no control or dominance over the mind typically, in the beginning. This path that winds up towards the mountains of the superior worlds is precisely the path of Dorothy, the Wizard of Oz, the winding golden path of Jnana Yoga, which is knowledge yoga, mind yoga.
It is precisely these higher states where the elephant is tamed and subdued, in which we are free of the mind, and the mind fully obeys our will. We see an image of a monk flying in the astral plane, or in even higher dimensions, Tiphereth, etc., symbolized by the mountains of initiation. For, if we awaken in the internal planes, divinity can show you mountains. A mountain pertains to walking the path of initiation itself.
We want to calm our mind, to develop serene mind, which, as we find that these waters from the mountains descend, the waters of the pure energy of divinity. These waters become turbulent, as they descend toward Malkuth, the physical world, which is represented by this monk leaving a pagoda of three steps. This pagoda is really the body, Malkuth, represented by three floors, which are our three brains: our intellect, our emotions, and our motor-instinctual-sexual dynamics.
The waters are turbulent because the waters of our mind are chaotic. We receive impressions in life; we go through our day with our work, with our daily occupations, or with watching televisions; we receive impressions that enter the mind and are not transformed, that are disturbed. Therefore, the mind, the elephant, has no control.
We must understand this fact, and really be honest. When we sit to reflect, what is the state of our mind? If we want to really enter the path of what meditation actually is, we need to develop concentration first.
"When you lack the elements of serenity,
Even if you meditate assiduously,
You will not achieve concentration
Even in thousands of years."
―Atisha’s Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment
This is the core scripture that Tsong Khapa, a great reincarnation of Buddha, taught in his Lim Rim Chenmo, a Tibetan Buddhist doctrine.
We will explain more specifically each step of this image, in detail.
We really must understand what it means to concentrate, if we are going to practice. So, I'd like to quote from you a teaching from Pabongka Rinpoche from Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand, where, in a very stark and explicit manner, he explains precisely and honestly, a maxim that we really need to contemplate, and to realize: are we actually practicing when we sit down? Are we really focused on what we're doing? No practice will have benefit―pranayama, mantra, runes―if we don't understand the nature of concentration itself.
"Though you may pretend you are doing a practice, you are not practicing at all if you do not know what is required to achieve single pointed concentration." ―Pabongka Rinpoche from Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand
In terms of the nine degrees, this is the eighth. It is the second highest rung of actual concentration itself.
"You must definitely achieve single pointed concentration with two features: great clarity together with some stability, and tight image retention." —Pabongka Rinpoche, Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand
So the purpose of developing serenity is that when the mind is perfectly still, we can then begin to meditate and reflect the images from the superior worlds. When we're fully relaxed, the mind is completely still, there are no thoughts, no distractions; we have finally reached the highest degree of concertation, meditative equipoise; then imagery can reflect from our Being, from the internal worlds, into our mind, in our clairvoyance, into the lake of our perception. And, when it is still, it can reflect the superior worlds, and we will explain more about what one needs to do when in that state, in detail.
We need great clarity. If we sit and examine our mind, what do we see, and what do we not see? That is the question. If we don't see anything, if we just experience the sensations or memories of the day, from the events of our life, if they are just surging in our mind, without any order, without any clarity, it means that the mind is very dull; it means that we really need to work very hard to develop that clarity, which is born from acquiring more stability.
This is, of course, achieved through self-observation, as we always teach. But, more importantly, mindfulness, as we will elaborate on.
When the mind is serene, meditation is easy; images come of their accord. We talk a lot about imaginative, inspirational and intuitive knowledge. Imagination is when we receive images inside. Inspiration is when we feel the soul's reaction or response of an emotional, superior nature, towards that image; we know that it is a symbol that comes from our Being; we are inspired. Intuition is direct cognition, understanding the nature of that symbol. But, imagination, inspiration and intuition, which we will explain next, come as a result of serene mind; if the mind is completely still. If it is not, we cannot develop insight.
In Buddhism, we talk a lot about two terms: vipassana (special insight) and shamatha (serenity).
Samael Aun Weor explained this very beautifully as imagination and willpower. Imagination is the power to perceive. If the mind is chaotic, if we are not transforming impressions in the moment in which we receive them, we lack that tight image retention, that clarity of mind.
First, we develop, through willpower, control of the mind, as the Master Samael Aun Weor explains in Igneous Rose: that we must dominate the mind with the terrible whip of willpower. So, we need effort, especially in the beginning, to control the mind. But, in the higher degrees of concentration, there is no effort. But, as Master Samael also explained and emphasized, Tsong Khapa says:
"Nowhere does it say anything else but this: if you hope to develop insight (vipassana: comprehension), the training of wisdom, you must find quietude (shamatha / dhyana), that of concentration." —Tsong Khapa
So, if we want insight into the ego, into our defects, we must develop that stability. If we lack that, then there is no wisdom; wisdom meaning: "the power to perceive."
The teachings that we're presenting here come from Tsong Khapa's text, the Lim Rim Chenmo, known as, The Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment. This is one of the core texts of Tibetan Buddhism and is very useful to study.
I know that when the Dalai Lama was fleeing Tibet from the Chinese, he made a special case to take with him his text of the Lim Rim Chenmo, before he escaped from Tibet into India.
Prerequisites for Developing Genuine Concentration
This text explains the physical requisites, and the psychological training we need to acquire that stability, if what we want is insight. I invite you to really reflect on the nature of these statements, very deeply:
Dwelling in an Appropriate Area
We cannot meditate if our home is chaotic or cluttered, or if we live with other people who are noisy, who are distracting, especially in the beginning, when we need a sense of quietude, to really focus. To not meditate in a place that is filthy or disorganized. It should be some place that, when we come to sit to practice, we have inspiration to really sit and to relax. Also, if we live in a warzone, we can't meditate; an adept can meditate in any circumstance.
Living in an appropriate area means that we need to leave in a place that there is peace, that there is no threat of our life being in danger. The fact that living here, in this city, in a relatively safe environment, we are fortunate. There are people across the world who cannot even fulfill this requisite, even if they want to meditate. We get this on our forum, people who are writing about this problem.
An appropriate area must be clean, peaceful. It doesn't need to be a temple in our own home, but what matters is that we have a space dedicated to practice. It can be simple: an altar, white tablecloth, candle, religious image; or no altar. What matters is that our environment inspires us, and gives us the capacity to really practice.
Having Little Desire
This is something that, honestly, most of us don't have. We usually have a lot of desires in our mind that are constantly conflicting, pushing us to do other things other than meditate or practice preliminary concentration exercises; defects which emerge and say, "I want to ride my bike, watch television, take care of this or that responsibility, etc." The mind is surging with this torrent of forces and energies which we have previously put into motion, which formulate into our egos. This is represented by that water in that first image, = descending in torrents from the mountains, into Malkuth, towards the monk in that image. The waters above are very pure, but when these energies of God enter us, into our mind, they become transformed and blackened by desire.
So, we need to have little desire, meaning: curtail our appetite, such as overstimulating foods or elements which may impede us from practicing well.
The term for this, in Sanskrit, is Santosha. In Patanjali's yoga sutras, Santosha means being grateful for what we have, and not craving things that we do not have. Craving gnaws at the mind and produces the inability to sit still.
Completely Giving Up Many Activities
Meaning, give up fruitless activities, things that are just useless. We all have our habits that we do that push us to do, honestly, dumb things. I am no exception. For instance, Swami Sivananda said, you should give up reading novels, especially things that are just useless―magazines, journal articles, things which do not promote anything in relation to our spirituality. Really, we must abandon that. Typically, in a monastic life, initiates would meditate six hours a day, and study six hours a day. But they would study scriptures that are important, whether in Tibetan Buddhism, the Bardo Thodol, The Tibetan Book of the Dead; in India, the Bhagavad Gita; or the Muslim initiates in the past, with the Qur'an... studying scriptures that matter.
We must abandon useless things, such as watching tv shows, things that fill the mind with garbage. A lot of shows are based on sarcasm and abuse of the mind, or movies that are violent or things that offend the senses.
Pure Ethical Discipline
This is probably one of the most important: examining our ethics. In a given day, have we lied to someone? This doesn't mean that we said something, but, internally, in our mind, we may have had the thought.
Ethics begins with restraining (Yama) the mind, the senses, from not physically verbalizing, expressing our ego or defects. Niyama pertains to training the mind, deeper, to not have that reaction inside. This is the internal silence that Samael Aun Weor talks about in Revolutionary Psychology.
Our ethics must be very pure. We have to examine where in the day we transgressed, in our mind, in our hearts.
Completely Getting Rid of Thoughts of Desire
If we have been studying this teaching, and practicing for a long time, this is really the most difficult. Not thinking evil, but even if we have the thought that we don't want to do this, the mind continues to churn and to gestate with these elements.
So, if we really want to develop meditative serenity, we must abandon all of that. To not think, to not conceptualize, for as Samael Aun Weor stated, in Igneous Rose, in the chapter "Esoteric Discipline of the Mind":
"It is necessary to change the process of reasoning for the beauty of comprehension..." ―Samael Aun Weor, Igneous Rose
Most of the time in the day, we are thinking, and we do not comprehend where our thoughts come from, where they go, what they are doing, how they arise, why they arise. If we are not comprehending those processes in ourselves, in the instant that they happen, we are asleep.
This means that we are churning in the mind in the battle of the opposites. He often talks, such as in The Magic of the Runes, the sensation of contemplation. We must comprehend what arises in us in an instant.
"Those who want to enter into the wisdom of the fire must overcome the process of reasoning and cultivate the ardent faculties of the mind.
"We must only extract the golden fruit from reasoning. The golden fruit of reasoning is comprehension. Comprehension and imagination must replace reasoning." —Samael Aun Weor, Igneous Rose, "Esoteric Discipline of the Mind"
Comprehension emerges when the mind is still; this is serenity in Buddhism, shamatha. Imagination is the capacity to perceive, vipassana. So, in his terms, he is explaining the same concept that Tsong Khapa taught.
If we do not comprehend the mind in the instant, we can't perceive. Comprehension is the understanding of something without the need to think about it. Master Samael said that to reason is great crime against the Innermost, because God does think. In our everyday affairs, we need to learn to resolve our issues without the ego involved. The ego thinks, puts thoughts into our minds, impulses in our body to act, but comprehension is when we know how to act without thinking. This is the demarcation between an angel and a demon, precisely.
So, as we learn how to act without thinking, that is how we enter the path of concentration.
I want to emphasize something that Samael Aun Weor stated, which is something that, typically, many students and instructors tend to ignore:
"1. The Gnostic must first attain the ability to stop the course of his thoughts, the capacity to not think. Indeed, only the one who achieves that capacity will hear the Voice of the Silence." —Samael Aun Weor, The Perfect Matrimony
When we sit, we should not think. But, if we are thinking, distracted, we are not even able to enter concentration. That is the important point.
Usually, we will attempt to practice with the mind churning, distraught, agitated. But, in order to really receive that insight—which is the voice of the silence, the direct action of your Being within your psyche, the impulse of your Innermost, divinity within you—you can't let your mind interfere. This is a type of experience in which you do not think, you know. God knows without thinking, God does not rationalize.
We have here in this image the Buddha, with one hand up and one hand down. This is referring to the need to receive—usually, with the left hand we receive the forces of divinity, and the right hand expresses action. The left refers to the left hand of the body, the lunar receptive nature of ourselves; the right is action. The root word bud, in the word Buddha, means cognizance, awareness, which knows how to receive and knows how to act. But this is not an intellectual process. This is an intuitive process. We must learn how to act from our Being without thinking about it. Usually, the Being gives us a hunch, an insight, and we feel that inclination that comes from somewhere, but we don't know where usually, when we know in our hearts whether an action is right or wrong, and yet, the mind then conceptualizes: "Well, I should do this, because I have this reason," and then the intellect is debating against what we know is right in our heart.
Insight is lightning: you know it's wrong. But, then the mind says, "Well..." and starts to debate. So, the lightning emerges, but the thunder of the mind comes after. This is the demarcation. We can only develop that as we learn to not think. This does not mean that we become stupid, that we don't know how to do our daily obligations and affairs: it means that we do so consciously. We use the intellectual brain under the influence of our Inner God.
So, the first step is, don't think; and then, learn to concentrate.
"2. When the Gnostic disciple attains the capacity to not think, then he must learn to concentrate his thoughts on only one thing." —Samael Aun Weor, The Perfect Matrimony
That is when real concentration comes into play. We need a certain degree of serenity of mind to really concentrate.
It's important to understand that learning not to think is not the same as mindlessness, or inattention. We need to learn to use our personality, according to the will of our God. We need personality to subsist in this society. We need to be trained, to have vocation, to have certain intellectual knowledge. But, this does not mean that we let our defects use that knowledge in a subjective or harmful way. Instead, we let the Being use that insight to direct our course.
Our daily life is our practice: that is what we really need to analyze and understand. If we sit to meditate for an hour, yet all day, the other 23 hours, we are daydreaming, arguing, fighting, debating, having conflicts―that is a lot of energy that is going contrary to our practice. This is why Samael Aun Weor said that these activities have to saturate every instant of our life. So, our practice is at work, with an intellectual job, or working with other people in a very tough environment.
Our spiritual practice is when we relate to other human beings. Every instant is our spiritual work. If we have the concept that our practices only exist when we sit in our home, isolated from our experience, then we will get nowhere. But, if we let our life be our training ground, in developing genuine concentration, then our understanding will be very robust.
So, we develop that capacity to not think, Pratyahara, which leads to Dharana (concentration)—focusing only on one thing.
"3. The third step is correct meditation. This brings the first flashes of the new consciousness into the mind." —Samael Aun Weor, The Perfect Matrimony
Real meditation is when you receive information in a new way, when you understand something spontaneously... no thinking involved. Your insight can come as a concept in the mind, but it is not egotistical. The way to differentiate between the superior messages of the Being from the subjective notions of our ego requires developing a lot of clarity, which is why the Master Samael says that we must learn to carefully separate the smoke from the flames. Flames are insight, the Being, the virtues; the smoke is our mind. We must learn how to sift through that in every instant, if what we want is to really develop the capacity to concentrate.
Then, when we can focus on one element at a time, without being distracted from our purpose, that is when we receive new insight: that is when we are meditating.
"4. The fourth step is contemplation, ecstasy or Samadhi. This is the state of Turiya (perfect clairvoyance)." —Samael Aun Weor, The Perfect Matrimony
This is perception without any filter. It is supra-conscious, no ego involved. We can this experience in our daily life; we don't need to have an experience out of the body, an astral projection, to experience the supra-conscious nature of the Being.
This is perception that is beyond the mind.
Swami Sivananda states that one cannot have any experiences without the Kundalini awakened. Now, this does not mean that the Kundalini has to be fully awakened through sexual magic, but you can awaken sparks through runes, through transmutation... and, that energy in motion, which we need, will awaken the consciousness to have that experience. So, we need that force. We cannot do it without the Divine Mother.
The Five Flaws to Concentration
Now, to explain the flaws in relation to our concentration, when we sit to practice, I am going to emphasize a teaching from Buddha Maitreya.
Maitreya is a title, but it was given to a certain Master in the past, who gave this teaching of the nature of concentration in his Separation of the Middle from the Extremes.
So, we are going to explain a little what the common flaws in what learning to concentrate are, so that we can examine our practice.
The mind being dull, which is for most people a common problem.
2. Forgetting the Object (of Concentration)
We sit to practice, we forget what we're doing. 20-30 minutes go by, and we don't remember anything. We sit, and we wonder to ourselves what we were doing. We forget what we're focusing on.
3. Excitement and Laxity (of the Mind)
This is the mind that is agitated, with either negative emotions, or laxity, meaning that the mind is dull or that there are certain egotistical elements that are influencing our perception, making it dull, as it relates to laziness.
4. Failing to Apply the Antidotes When Excitement or Laxity Arises
In Buddhist teaching, there are certain remedies that we use that Tsong Khapa explained. When we are concentrating, or if the mind becomes dull, there are certain things that we can focus our attention on, in order to remedy that thought, in the instant that it emerges. Likewise with excitement in the mind. Dullness, apathy, or agitation. The mind must be equilibrated. We will explain more about this.
5. Excessive Exertion
Meaning, when the mind has reached certain degrees of stability, it is pointless to exert effort. This is pertaining to the highest degrees of concentration, in which you don't need effort to attain it. All you need is familiarization with that state.
When we work with breath, pranayama, mantra, that can be an object of our concentration. Those energies, the vital forces, by awakening the sparks of the Kundalini, we can have insight. I am going to explain, precisely this point, in relation to this slide.
The Eight Antidotes to Flawed Concentration
There are eight antidotes to flawed concentration, that Tsong Khapa explains.
This is an image of Tsong Khapa in meditation, who Master Samael explained was the reincarnation of the Buddha. Floating in the clouds, he is meditating next to his disciples. Above him is the heavenly city of the Gods, the Buddhas, or, the Celestial Jerusalem of Revelations. Below are the waters. We see many flowers, many virtues of the Being. If you have an experience in the astral plane, where they show you flowers, they are showing the virtues of your Inner God, inside you. Beautiful flowers, roses, are representations of virtue, since the plant elementals have not left Eden yet; they transmute their creative energies.
We see roses, flowers, immaculate clouds, and the waters. This realization appears as a result of working with our watesr, our seminal force, our sexual energy. And so, one of the best methods to countering laziness, when we are trying to concentrate, is to transmute. Use your breath to mantralize, "Sssssssssssss," "IIIIINNNNRRRRIIII," or "IIIIIIIAAAAAAOOOOO." There are many mantras that we use to sublimate that energy.
Tsong Khapa explained that, to counter laziness, we need to develop faith, aspiration, effort and pliancy.
Faith is in relation, in Buddhist doctrine, to the understanding of the nature of mind; the certainty of the benefits of meditative stabilization. We must really comprehend the benefit of when the mind is really serene, and which we genuinely perceive, from a state of peace, what that state is like. If we don't taste that experience directly, there is no striving.
So, faith does not mean in the Christian sense of belief. In Buddhist doctrine, it is understanding of the genuine, pristine cognitive nature of mind, without flaws. We must have faith in this teaching and about the transformation of our mind, otherwise, we will not do it. The mind is lazy. We must really understand that benefits of having a stable mind, and to actually see it.
If the mind is chaotic, and we don't see what the benefit is of meditative stabilization, we won't strive and practice to achieve it.
Willpower pertains to the need to control the mind, through Tiphereth controlling Netzach. We use our will every time we do runes, pranayama, transmutation, sexual magic... To develop faith in effort in our practice―applying more effort to really concentrate, developing more pliancy in the mind, more stability in the body―we work with aspiration: to aspire. Through inspiration, we inhale the prana in the nostrils, then we bring that energy inward and upward, to aspire, bringing up to our mind, to illuminate it. That develops pliancy. In Buddhist terms, pliancy refers to the flexibility of the consciousness to perceive. This is the dynamic of seeing our mind, as it is, and all the structures of the ego that resist and opposes our effort, because, when we direct our attention towards it, the ego fights back, to not be seen.
In The Revolution of the Dialectic, this is known as structural and transactional analysis. We must see the structure of the ego, when they emerge in the mind. Transactions―such as in a bank, depositing cheques, moneys, accounts, etc.―refers to the movement in the mind. Pliancy pertains to understanding those structures in our mind, as they appear and emerge, and how we're flexible in our perception. We're not distracted, like we're practicing martial arts; we have stability in our body, and we're calmly fighting an enemy, with composure. This is pliancy.
Effort pertains to having strength in our will, which is pertaining to our consciousness, conscious will.
Some benefits I personally have experienced with effort is, listening to a really powerful piece of classical music. For instance, I listened to Mars, by Gustav Holst, who is a gnostic master. He is explaining the effort the we need as a consciousness to fight against degeneration of the mind. This is the power of Samael, the angel of war, but, also our Being, our Innermost relates to Mars, strength. Our Being can inspire us―when we understand the message―to really make efforts to concentrate.
For forgetfulness, if we are forgetting that we are practicing, we need to develop more mindfulness throughout the day. Self-observation is perceiving ourselves in a given instant. Mindfulness is that self-observation throughout an entire day. So, if we keep forgetting that we are meditating or concentrating, we must really be vigilant in our day to day practice: our daily practice has to be our spiritual practice.
When we sit to meditate, and things emerge in the mind, and we become aware of them, then another element emerges saying, "I don't like that," this thought is still subjective. This is excitement of mind: seeing a thought that emerges, that is spontaneous; you don't know where it comes from; it disturbs you, then there is the reaction, "I don't want to see this, I don't want this." This is another ego in the mind. The solution is to develop vigilance. We need to perceive that element as it arises, otherwise, if it passes into the screen of our experience, enters our intellectual brain and has passed already, we have missed the moment. So, we must be in vigil, meaning, awake, not looking at other things, but examining the thought as it emerges. We will explain more about this.
Laxity is if the mind is dull, and we feel sleepy as a consciousness. We need greater clarity in our perception. If our internal sight is befuddled, where we have thoughts and memories and desires, but we don't really see their nature, we need vigilance, which is introspection, perception. We must develop our clarity, and the best way to develop vigilance is to exercise that muscle.
Transmutation is not enough. You can have energy, but, if we don't know how to harness that energy, then the ego takes it. We need force, but we need to have discipline: energy and will, in harmony.
The final antidote to inappropriate application of exertion or effort is equanimity. And, this really applies to the higher degrees to concentration, in which you do not need effort. To exert the mind is to disturb the mind, and you can lose the experience. So, when you have greater stillness pertaining to the eighth and ninth degrees of concentration, you don't need to exert any effort. It is effortless, pertaining to the ninth degree. You need some effort in the eighth degree, which we will explain.
Equanimity means to not need to apply anything, any antidote.
Plato’s Allegory of the Cave and the Four States of Consciousness
We have included some images of the diagram that we have been explaining. Some of you may be familiar with Plato's Allegory of the Cave. In book seven of his Republic, Master Plato explains the nature of the path to truth and understanding. This is synonymous with this map of the nine degrees or stages of concentration in Buddhism.
Likewise, we have Christ, who is ascended, representing any initiate who has fully mastered that state, such as the Tibetan yogi, who is flying in the clouds.
Those of you who are not familiar with The Republic, there is the myth, or Allegory of the Cave, pertaining to any initiate who is ascending from the subconsciousness towards supra-consciousness.
In this image, we have people, who should be depicted as being enchained by their necks, legs and hands, to a wall. Behind them is a fire that burns. These people see nothing but darkness, or, at most, they see people who are passing between the fire and the wall, carrying objects on their heads, pottery, clay, etc. These images project their shadows on the wall. These people who are enchained only see darkness, or they see shadows on the wall, and this is all they know.
So, to reiterate what these states are, we talk about four states of consciousness in the Gnostic doctrine. We have Eikasia, pertaining to sleep of a barbaric nature: complete unconsciousness, darkness. We look in our mind, we see nothing. We know there is thoughts and feelings and emotions, surges of desires, but we don't really see where they are coming from. This is the darkness mentioned in the Book of Genesis, "And darkness was over the face of the deep, and the Ruach Elohim (the Spirit of God) floated on those waters (to transform them.)"
The images on the wall are dreams, Pistis in Greek. Sleep with dreams pertains to the fact that we see images and how we experience life; we have ideas in our mind, concepts; we have thoughts, feelings and expectations, longings, but they are not objective. When we really examine their nature, they are devoid of any substantiality. That is Pistis: people's beliefs about religion, faith, mind, ideas, the way they interact with society.
But we see in this image that there is a superior way out of that. There is a person who is unchained, and who is forced to see the fire directly. That fire is the energy of Christ, and it pertains to the third state of consciousness known as Dianoia.
Dianoia means revision of beliefs, revision of Pistis. This is the perception of the mind without desire. Dianoia is when we are examining our mind, and we see that we are not the mind; we perceive the mind, that it is something distinct and separate from us, with thoughts, feelings, sensations. But we must be forced to experience that―meaning, divinity pushes us to really examine what the shadows on the wall are, which are our previous conceptions of our self: our ideas, culture, language, our pride, our faith, our hatred, our vanity. And so, this guru takes this initiate out of the cave. This winding path out of the cave is precisely this diagram that we see here.
In the Allegory of the Cave, the initiate is forced out of the cave, through a winding path, until finally reaching outdoors, experiencing the starry sky. For the first time, this person who has lived their entire life in the cave, sees the sun and the dawn, which is overwhelming. This is a representation of Nous: a high state of consciousness, super-consciousness. Nous pertains to perception of divinity, to perceive as God perceives. Our God is inside, so, when we unite as a soul with our inner divinity, the soul is one with divinity; it is integral to that. One experiences perception, life, from the perspective of the Being. That is the sun, the Solar Logos. Likewise, in this image, this monk is training to get out of the cave, going up this path, until finally reaching meditative serenity at this stage. And, when walking on this rainbow bridge, one is in Samadhi. Those who are familiar with Richard Wagner, his opera Das Rheingold, which we will watch, the gods tread on this path of the rainbow, to the city of the gods, Valhalla, the hall of the warrior who has defeated himself in battle.
The Nine Stages of Meditative Concentration
To explain how this Buddhist glyph pertains to the Allegory of the Cave, we will explain some of the symbols. The fact that this path is winding is the work of Dianoia; we are constantly having to revise our concepts of ourselves. When we observe our mind for what it is, we see that we are not who we thought we were. We must change our self-concept.
Master Samael explains that Dianoia pertains to cultural and intellectual synthesis, spiritual knowledge, revision of beliefs, direct perception of what is real. This is awakened consciousness. Dianoia is when we see ourselves differently from how we used to see ourselves, when we change our beliefs about who we were as a person. We cease to be what we were. But Dianoia, on this path of concentration, also pertains to intellectual knowledge of a superior type. So, when Master Samael explains that Dianoia is a cultural, intellectual, spiritual knowledge, this is not the intellectual knowledge of the ego, but a new type of understanding in our mental center, which is superior, abstract. This is a mind that can conceptualize superior concepts without struggling between the battle of opposites in the mind. This is what epiphany refers to, the spark of joy that the soul feels, the pliancy of the mind, in the Buddhist doctrine of the mind, which is free from distraction.
We have here this image of a monk chasing an elephant. That elephant is the mind. The fact that it is black in the beginning represents the dullness of our mind. We do not see anything; we don't understand what our mind is.
There is a fire here on this path; referring to the type of willpower we need to dominate the mind. The monk is chasing after this elephant, likewise, there is a monkey, following before the elephant. The monkey is a restless mind. The monkey is always grabbing things; the intellect, our desires, our emotions are always trying to satiate itself, with desire.
Notice that this fire gets smaller the further up the path that one goes. This is because the amount of effort or engagement one needs with the mind becomes lessened the more that the mind is controlled. In the beginning, it takes a tremendous effort to remember that we are practicing, that we are concentrating, and to not get distracted.
Likewise, the fact that the elephant starts to gain color, becomes white, means that there is gradual purification of the mind. There is greater insight, clarity. Likewise, the monk with the rope in his hand, represents mindfulness, and the hook, vigilance. He gets ahold of the elephant and is starting to turn it towards his direction, meaning, the mind is becoming subdued.
What is important to note, is as this process occurs, the elephant becomes purified of its dullness; the monkey is tamed, until the elephant is completely stabilized, and the meditator is fully in control of the mind, entering the superior worlds.
We also have, in this image, a silk cloth, representing the sense of touch; some fruit, representing taste; a perfumed conch, representing smell; cymbals representing hearing; and a mirror, representing sight. This is because it is through our five senses that we learn to develop concentration. It is not by running away from life, but by using your daily life to develop that concentration, that we make it rigorous. Until we reach the end, the rainbow path of Valhalla, towards the city of the gods, one can enter into higher degrees of calm abiding.
What I am going to explain now, are the nine stages of concentration, that lead to calm abiding. As the Dalai Lama explained, calm abiding pertains to what one attains after the ninth degree of concentration, which is represented by the monk flying in the air, and the monk with the sword, riding an elephant. That sword of fire is wisdom, also representing the Kundalini of any master; it is that energy that gives one the root cognizance of cutting through delusion. So, if you see images of Manjushri in Buddhism, that sword cuts through the distraction of the mind. In that image of Tsong Khapa―I didn't explain―but there is also a sword of fire, to his right. And, there was a book on the left, pertaining to the book of studying one’s life, directly, studying the methods that lead to that insight. So, study, method and wisdom; wisdom is the sword, method is the study. We need a combination of studying the steps of concentration, along with our practical work, the sword, if what we want is to develop that union.
In the image, we also see a bunny. The bunny represents laziness, a subtle form of laziness that appears in the mind when we think we know what we're doing, when we're trying to concentrate. I will explain this specific detail.
1. Mental Placement
The first degree is mental placement, which is the beginning of when we sit to practice and we can't remember that we're concentrating. We sit down, and we know that we should be practicing, but we don't know what we're doing. Before this, you could say is stage zero, which is a wild mind; meaning, there is no control whatsoever. This is the state of every human being on this planet. But, when we begin to start to concentrate, we're placing our mind on the practice, and we realize that we can't concentrate. The elephant is running around, but we notice this fact―that is the distinction here.
So, the monk is chasing after the elephant with a hook, representing vigilance, or wisdom, insight, and the rope, represents mindfulness, remembrance of divinity, moment-to-moment.
"The elephant of the mind, wandering wildly, is to be securely bound with the rope of mindfulness, to the pillar of the object of meditation, gradually to be tamed with the hook of wisdom." ―Bhavaviveka
Now, the object of our concentration can be a mantra, an image of a Buddha, an image of a master―I have personally meditated on an image of Master Samael, to invoke him. And, when my mind has been stable and clear, I sense him in my home, with me, and in many other places, when I put that image in my mind, I focus on that as an object of concentration, to receive his help. But, you can also meditate on the mind itself, which is a teaching of Dzogchen, or Mahamudra, the great seal or great perfection teachings of the Nyigma tradition of Tibetan Buddhist, in the Gelugpa; there are four schools of Tibetan Buddhism that we talk about.
So, we can meditate on the mind. Let your own mind be the object of concentration. Observe your mind―what is it like? Let that be your focus. You can develop great stability of concentration that way. Or, you can take a visualization of a stone, or pebble, or piece of art. If you are going to choose an artwork, I would suggest something simple in the beginning, nothing elaborate. Usually, to visualize all the details of an object, of a mandala, a sacred painting in Buddhism, or a painting of Christianity, to master the visualization of that image takes a lot of effort. So, I would recommend, in the beginning, start with something simple, and then, as your capacity to visualize and concentrate grows, expand that. Then, choose images that are more complicated. For instance, it comes to my mind, something that could be useful: which is that, when you are concentrating, if you have an experience in the internal planes, of an image, such as you speak with your Divine Mother, let that be your object of concentration. You sit to meditate, imagine your Divine Mother, as you saw her. That would be more personal to you; you'll have more investment in that practice, that way.
That is mental placement; we forget that we're meditating. We realize that we can't remember what we're doing. So, the type of engagement that we need, the type of effort that we need to really get in control of this element, of the mind, is tightly focused engagement. It takes a lot of effort to control the mind, to catch up to, to run after that elephant. Buddha Maitreya, who gave this teaching, he explained that there is certain antidotes to each stage. It is important to know what these antidotes are. This is not something intellectual; this is something very practical, to help you understand your own experience, your own practice.
He says that, for mental placement, you need to hear the teachings of mindfulness: to really hear them, study them, and apply them, if what we want is to understand what mental placement is. To even realize that the mind is out of control, we need to hear the teachings, in order to change that.
2. Continual Placement, or Fixation with Some Continuity
Notice that the elephant starts to get a little bit white, the monkey too. The dull mind and the restless mind have a slight purification. This is when we are concentrated; we have some flashes of insight, minor flashes. We tend to forget what we're doing, but we are gaining some insight through understanding what the object of concentration is. The monk still has to chase after the elephant, to gain control. There is more forgetfulness than there is remembrance. The flames represent the effort that we need, the type of willpower we need to gain control. So, at this level, the fire is still very intense. But it diminishes the further along one ascends the path.
3. Patched Placement
The monk has finally, with the rope of mindfulness, gained ahold of the elephant, and has turned the head towards him. This means that there are more periods of remembrance and control than there are forgetfulness. This is called patched placement, like putting patches on a cloth, to fix up holes. One is basically "patching" their awareness into the practice―there are still periods of forgetfulness, but there is more remembrance than there is forgetfulness. This is a big improvement. The monkey also becomes more purified, the elephant starts to become more tamed. This is the beginning of it becoming tamed. We remember that we are concentrating more than we are forgetting.
4. Close Placement, or Good Fixation
This is a period in our concentration in which we don't forget what we're doing. If we want to meditate on the ego, to annihilate the ego, we need to develop this. We need to reach at least stability in this degree: when we sit to practice and concentrate; we do not forget what we're doing. The problem with this stage is the rabbit on the elephant, which represents laziness. This means that, when we remember that we are practicing, there is a sentiment or influence of the mind that makes us feel that we know what we're doing. We remember that we are meditating, and there is an interference or distraction from the mind that is subtle, that convinces us that we're practicing effectively, when it is really a distraction. That is what the rabbit represents. Notice that the fire is again diminishing; meaning, the amount of effort we need is becoming less.
For the third and fourth degrees, patch-like placement and close placement, is developing more remembrance, mindfulness throughout the day. This means to self-observe and to remember our Being more and perceiving more.
5. Subduing, Taming, or Becoming Disciplined
At this point, one is dealing more with, rather than the fact that we don't forget what we're practicing, we're dealing with more subtle forms of distraction in the mind. We don't forget what we're doing, but still there is laxity or excitement in the mind, agitation or laziness in the mind in subtle levels, that we need to address. The solution to that―as we see the rabbit there, that is the symbol of laziness, that thinks we know what we're doing―is to develop insight. Specifically, in this stage, referring to awareness or introspection, as Buddha Maitreya teaches, we need to develop our clarity of perception more, insight.
What makes the fifth degree different from the fourth, is that at this point, instead of focusing on the object of concentration, we are focusing on how we perceive. In the beginning, mental placement, we are trying to remember that we're practicing. In the second, we have some brief flashes of insight into the object of concentration. At patch-like placement, we remember to concentrate more than we forget. The fourth degree, we don't forget the object of concentration―this is all about the object, up to this point. At the fifth degree, we are now focusing more on our perception: how do we perceive the object of concentration. We observe how we observe. In studies, we call it meta-cognition. The solution to this, is to develop more awareness for introspection. The difference between introspection and mindfulness has to do with the quality of our perception. Mindfulness is remembrance throughout the day, but introspection is that we're sharpening that, applying antidotes when we need to. When the mind is agitated or relaxed, we direct our attention to that, we turn to the object of concentration.
Also, you now notice that the monkey is becoming tame: it is following the elephant, and it is half purity, half dullness, in this image of the elephant.
6. Pacification or Becoming Peaceful
The mind is becoming very crisp. There is greater serenity of mind. One is still dealing with some subtle forms of laxity and excitement, which we must carefully address. At this point, what makes the sixth degree different from the fifth degree is that we must not over-apply the remedy to excitement; we don't want to heighten the mind more. We want it to become more pacified, more clear. By antidotes, we are referring to countering the influences of laziness or excitement. Such as, if the mind is excited, one can reflect on the impermanence or transient nature of the ego that emerges in the mind, or the impermanence of life and death, of fatality, to curb the excitement of that mind. Or, if there is laziness, we apply effort. But, here, we don't want to over-apply the remedy, so that the waters of the mind become agitated. But we do want to become more pacified.
7. Complete Pacification or Becoming Very Pacified
This degree is very important. In the previous degrees, from the third degree to the sixth degree, we were referring to a type of engagement with the mind, which is called, in Buddhist terms, interrupted engagement. Meaning, we are applying effort, but our efforts are always being interrupted by distractions―to one degree or another. Whether, gross, like at the fourth degree, when we don't forget to practice, towards the sixth degree, as we become more pacified―we are still dealing with distraction.
But, at this degree, complete pacification, this is a state of concentration in which you see distractions before they even arise. So, you see a thought before it even appears; you see from where it comes from. This is a very clear and sharp cognizance. The elephant is now following the monk, the monk does not have to use any force. Still, he is using effort to a degree, to lead the elephant after him, but the mind is pacified, meaning, one still has distractions, but one catches them before they even appear. This is going to be very hard to understand. But, you may have had the experience, such as an out of body experience when meditating, when you see the ego before it even projects its films on the screen of our mind.
There is a Sufi saying by Al Qushayri that emphasizes this point.
“It is said, ‘Silence for the common people is with their tongues, silence for the gnostics is with their hearts, and silence for lovers is with restraining the stray thoughts that come to their innermost beings.’" ―Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri
At this point, you catch the mind before it even acts. This is very sharp. I have experienced this in different occasions, such as out of the body, receiving teachings where I could sense my ego was about to act, before it even happened. So, this is a very sharp cognizance that we need to cultivate.
8. Single-pointed Attention
I chose the image of a samurai to illustrate this, because the type of attention we need is a sword. One-pointed means that there are no distractions; there is no subtle excitement, no subtle laxity in the mind. If you are familiar with the spiritual culture of the samurai, which is bushido, the way of the warrior, their training was such that, they eliminated all fear or excitement from their minds before they went to battle. This is before this tradition degenerated. For instance, the samurai would symbolically commit harakiri, or seppuku, to kill themselves. When this tradition degenerated, they did it literally. But this is symbolic of the need to die in the ego. So, with one pointed perception, one can deal with one’s mind, one’s enemies, without being distracted, with perfect awareness, or rather, close to perfect, because there is a degree higher than this... The fact that one is in single-pointed attention or concentration, demonstrates that there isn’t even any subtlety or laxity in the mind at all. There are no distractions, but still, it is not perfect, because we need effort to maintain that state.
9. Balanced Placement, Fixed Absorption or Meditative Equipoise
This pertains to the mind that has reached its natural state. This does not mean that the ego has been eliminated. It means that the mind is settled to its original point of being; no distractions. It takes no effort to maintain this state. One just simply must be familiar with how the consciousness functions at this degree.
There is a Sufi quote that explains this very well.
"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!"
So, in the lower degrees, we need effort, we need will, to act to really control the mind. But, in the higher degrees, to really be a Sufi, to be pure in mind—Suf means "purity" in Arabic, referring to wool-like clothing, which is a symbol of purity—we don't need any effort. To be a Sufi, to have that realization, there is no effort involved.
"Here, one who does not abandon will cannot be called a disciple, just as, linguistically, one who does not possess will cannot be called a disciple." ―Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri
So, to reach this point, you need will, effort. But, when you reach that point where the mind is completely equilibrated, you don't need any effort, you just need to be familiar with that state. The elephant is completely tamed at this degree; one just need to be settled at that state.
Now, this ninth degree, meditative equipoise, pertains to Tiphereth in Kabbalah. Tiphereth is the human consciousness or soul, which we call willpower, our human will. It seems ironic that real willpower requires no effort. But it is true. If you are in the internal planes, in a very clear, lucid state, you don't need effort to maintain it, when it is very fully developed. But, if you find that you are struggling to maintain that state, then you need some effort. But all it takes to maintain this state is to be equilibrated.
To elaborate on this teaching that Buddha Maitreya taught, I'll relate to you an experience that I had, in the astral plane, many years ago, where my Being taught me this, before I even knew about these nine stages.
Specifically, I woke up in the astral plane, and I went outside my home and I invoked my Innermost, my God, and I dove into the Earth, into the crust, to go towards the center of the planet, to be with my Being. The astral plane is material, like the physical plane, but it is a little more subtle in nature. So, you can fly through walls, or go through the Earth, breathe in water, fly through the seas. So, I went into the Earth, and I entered darkness. At that moment, I felt the presence of my Inner Being, and I heard a breathing, and this symbol of the breath pertains to the spirit, because the Innermost is the presence of force, the breath of God, which the Sufi's talked about, Al-Nafs, Ruh, in Arabic, or Ruach in Hebrew. It was a terribly divine presence.
In that moment, my God showed me something where, if you can imagine a silent film, such as when a camera lens opens, to see an image emerge from the center of a black screen, to see a scene that immediately played out. There was a yellow car skidding, like a souped-up race car. Immediately, driving off, wildly, toward the distance. And, I knew, intuitively, I had to catch it. So, I flew after it. This was a test from my Being, and it took a lot of effort to catch up to it. I was fighting to catch after it, but then, I saw that the car was starting to slow down, I was gaining ground, I had to put less effort to get to it. And so, eventually, I was victorious, and the car was starting to stop, I came up to it, and the car opened, and a bald man came out. I asked him, "Are you my Innermost?" He said, "No, I am just a representation." And I woke up.
So, the car was yellow. Yellow is the symbol of the mental body, the mind, knowledge. That car was my mental body, driving around chaotically, crazily, and it took a lot of effort to catch up to it. The teaching was pertaining to the need for me to catch up to my elephant. It took less and less effort the closer I got, until the point where the car stopped on its own, and I was able to talk to the driver. The fact that the driver was bald is a representation of the ego, because the ego is bald from fornication; baldness is a symbol of the mind that fornicates.
So, I caught up with the car, and this is a symbol of obtaining these nine degrees. I am going to provide you this glyph, which is everything we just discussed. It explains here what the characteristics are of each stage, what is the type of engagement that we need when we concentrate, and also the power that is needed.
We explained how mental placement is when we can't remember that we're meditating. So, we need to use a lot of effort and to really hear the teachings, to understand them.
Continual placement: flashes and moments of comprehension, we still need a lot of force and engagement to catch up with the mind. At this point, we need to contemplate the teachings. Here, we need to really understand the value of the teaching from experience, and not to observe merely intellectually.
I won't go through the entire list now, but you have in this glyph everything that we discussed, to help with understanding these stages.
Something else I also want to mention, in relation to the ninth degree, meditative equipoise. In this state, we don't need to apply any effort. Another experience that I had, recently, I found myself looking in the astral plane, looking at the horizon. I have been doing a lot of the practice of the mantra S M HON, to clear my mind. I found myself in the astral plane, before dawn, there was some light on the horizon, and there was a sky with barely any patches of cloud, but was otherwise very clear; I saw the stars. To see stars in the internal planes, means that the mind is clear, and that divinity is expressing, present. I didn't need to apply any effort at that point. I was just awake, and they were showing me, that when you're transmuting and clearing your mind, let that be your object of concentration, this is your mental state. To see stars is a good thing. If you see stars, they are showing you that you're being connected with your divinity. Stars pertain to the Divine Mother, Nut in Egyptian mythology.
But I also saw something very interesting there, which is relevant to this topic. When I was looking in the stars, I saw a ship, spaceship, like a boat. At first, I was almost going to ignore it. But it was hovering in the horizon, and I saw this ship was just floating there. Telepathically, I asked, "Come take me, I want to be helped." Immediately, the ship came, a magnetic force pulled me on board, and I was on the ship.
To be invited on a space ship, in the astral plane, is divinity inviting you to go to a higher level of being, asking you to ascend from an inferior level, like in the Allegory of the Cave, to see the stars for the first time, divinity. This is a state of Noetic consciousness, Nous, where you are perceiving divinity directly.
When your mind is illuminated, if you are clear, the natural state of the mind is stars, divinity. So, if you see that, it means that they're showing you your level. In the astral plane, if you ask, "How am I doing?" And you see the sky, the nature of the sky is the nature of your mind. If it is cloudy with storms, that is your mind churning. But, if you see stars, that means that your mind is so clear that, for once, your divinity can help you. But the fact that I was invited by this ship demonstrates that if you really want to get help, you have to reach that state. That is the point of me relating this experience. The thing is, we receive help all the time, but we don't see it. But, when you're in the ninth degree of concentration, which is seeing the stars, clearly, then you can receive even more help. This is represented by the image at the top of the Tibetan mural. If we really want to be aware of who is helping us, to have that clarity, reach the ninth degree, in which you don't need effort or exertion, and in which you see clearly. So, it is from the ninth degree of concentration in which you can enter higher degrees of understanding in the internal planes.
The Myth of Proteus
The Buddhist doctrine, and the teachings of Plato are not the only ones that explain this. We find this teaching in the Odyssey, by Homer, the Greek poet.
In the Odyssey, after the Trojan war, Menelaus—who we see in this image—the King, was returning back to Sparta. He was stranded at sea without wind, and he was trying to discover which God was punishing him, so that he could make appeasement in ritual, to produce his return home. He was confronted by Eidothea, a sea goddess, a sea nymph, who explained to him that, "My father, the God Proteus, will help you return, and prophecy for you, if you catch him."
So, in this poem, there is a scene where King Menelaus was disguised as a seal, a creature of the sea, in order to ambush Proteus and to wrestle him to the ground, to get him to provide answers to his questions.
Menelaus states to Eidothea, the daughter of Proteus—Proteus is a God of the sea, who could shapeshift, and Eidolthea, the daughter says, if you want to get the answers you need, you have to catch Proteus: Proteus is going to shapeshift on you, change the sea creatures into beasts, into fowl, into all sorts of serpents and creatures... and no matter what he turns into, you have to hold on to him. This relates to how, when we are concentrating and controlling our mind, the mind shapeshifts: desires, thoughts, beliefs, ideas, concepts—Proteus, in our mind, is always shifting. But, if you want to get the answers you seek, you must hold on for dear life, and use that will, until finally, Proteus will give in. And, when your mind is completely controlled, then the Gods can speak to you; such as the stars in the experience I provided.
Menelaus says to Eidothea: “Show me the trick to trap this ancient power, or he’ll see or sense me first and slip away. It’s hard for a mortal man to force a god.” ―The Odyssey, IV. ll. 442-444
Samael Aun Weor says, when you're with your Being in meditation, you must be demanding with your God. It sounds blasphemous... but, the thing is, when you're concentrating, you must be so dedicated that, no matter what happens, you're never going to forget what you're doing. Then, you will demand to your Being, "Show me and teach me, so that you can give me the insight that I need."
So, Menelaus was describing, in his story, how he caught Proteus:
“Now there was an ambush that would have overpowered us all―overpowering, true, the awful reek of all those sea-fed brutes!"
So, Proteus was surrounded by sea lions, and many other animals that smelled terrible: that is our mind. Lust smells awful; it is a psychological characteristic which hypnotizes the mind and is filthy. When we try to meditate on our lust, that element fights to feed itself and is really overpowering. The solution is given by Eidothea, which was a kind of ambrosia, applied under the nose.
"Who’d dream of bedding down with a monster of the deep? But the goddess (Eidothea) sped to our rescue, found the cure with ambrosia, daubing it under each man’s nose—that lovely scent, it drowned the creatures’ stench.” ―The Odyssey, IV. ll. 495-501
What is that ambrosia? It is our transmutation. When you transmute the sexual energy, you can confront your mind with strength, the lust of the sea animals that we carry within.
"…but we with a battle-cry, we rushed him, flung out arms around him—he’d lost nothing, the old rascal, none of his cunning quick techniques! First he shifted into a great bearded lion and then a serpent—a panther—a ramping wild boar—a torrent of water—a tree with soaring branch tops—but we held on for dear life, braving it out until, at last, that quick-change artist, the old wizard, began to weary of all this.” ―The Odyssey, IV, ll. 509-517
You must control your mind, even if it shapeshifts. We need pliancy of the mind to control it, no matter what distraction it provides, as Homer teaches.
So, the higher levels of shamatha, which is really what calm abiding is, pertains to superior consciousness in the internal planes.
The nine degrees of concentration we were explaining lead to this point, which is a kind of concentration in which we become very skilled in the astral world, and beyond. So, the image of the top of the Tibetan mural, being above the mountains, represents the superior dimensions of the Tree of Life.
We emphasize, in brief, the nature of Kabbalah. We have on the left an image of Arik Anpin, the celestial man, divided into four worlds. Likewise, the Tree of Life on the right, divided into four worlds, which are Atziluth, Briah, Yetzirah, and Assiah. Assiah is the world of action, matter, energy; Yetzirah is the world of formation; Briah, creation; and, Atziluth, archetypes.
So, the simple way in which we can break this down is, on the Tree of Life, the world of archetypes, which are very abstract, the nature of Christ, is Atziluth, which is Kether-Chokmah-Binah, Father-Son-Holy Spirit. In the world of Briah, we have the Innermost, Chesed, the Divine Soul, Geburah, and the human soul, Tiphereth. So, everything that we have been talking about in relation with concentration, pertains to how we use our willpower. In the higher levels of shamatha, we are in the world of Briah, represented by the rainbow, as well as the world of Yetzirah, which is the mental world, Netzach, the astral world of Hod and the vital world, Yesod. Everything that we are describing here, pertains to Assiah, at first; how we, in our physical body, learn to meditate. Then, when we develop concentration here, we can investigate the world of Yetzirah, the world of formation, the astral world, the mental world. Yetzirah is governed by angels; Briah is governed by Archangels, like Samael, Orifiel, Gabriel, Raphael, etc. Atziluth pertains to direct influence of God within the Tree of Life.
We will explain more about this image in another lecture, how the Tree of Life is represented in each of these four worlds. We use this glyph of the ten Sephiroth as a map of our consciousness, or the higher levels of concentration too, in which each Sephiroth has four aspects; Atziluth, in which God acts directly; Briah, in which the forces of divinity work through the Archangels, in the different Sephiroth; Yetzirah, the angels working under the Archangels, the Cosmo-Creators; and, Assiah is our physical plane.
In a more complicated sense, we say that there are forty spheres, but we talk about ten in synthesis. I point this out because, we're at the feet here, Malkuth. We're trying to concentrate, and we must work with our waters, control our earth, then we can enter into the superior worlds, represented by the Solar System, the genitalia of the celestial man, and likewise up the Tree of Life. So, there are degrees of how we develop cognizance.
Lastly, to emphasize the points we made, I'd like to quote a Sufi teaching, from Al-Risalah, Principles of Sufism, a teaching by Al-Jurayri.
“[Al-Jurayri] said that whoever does not establish awe of duty and vigilance in his relationship to God will not arrive at disclosure of the unseen or contemplation (mushahadah) of the divine." —Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah
What is divinity on the Tree of Life? Allah, the top of the Tree of Life, Kether-Chokmah-Binah, Father-Son-Holy Spirit, light of divinity, manifested on the Tree of Life. This is the Being. Da’ath is the secret sphere in the throat, pertaining to knowledge, sexual knowledge: how we work in transmutation. It is with the throat, by using mantra, is how we work with our creative potential in our vital body, specifically.
So, if we do not establish "awe of duty" meaning, we don't feel that awe and fear of divinity, and the fear that, if we don't practice, we will degenerate. It is only by developing that awe of our practices that, really, the respect that we have towards the tradition, the exercises we use to develop vigilance, in relationship to ourselves and our Being, we can obtain disclosure―meaning, to tear the veil, to see the internal planes and to develop contemplation, cognizance, like when you see the stars in the astral plane. Contemplation, in Arabic, is mushahadah, which relates to the Arabic pillar of faith, the Shahadah, which is, "I believe in Allah, Allah is Allah, and Muhammed is His Prophet." A real Muslim is someone who has really experienced divinity, who has cognizance of the divine. We can only reach that if we develop our capacity to concentrate, then, once you develop concentration, insight will come, spontaneously. That is the next stage we are going to talk about.
Questions and Answers
Audience: Samael Aun Weor said, more or less, you're not going anywhere in meditation unless you develop serenity first... that's really high up there on that diagram. Personally, I've found that, to progress on that path, getting serenity first, is related to the breath, rhythmic breath, is what leads to serenity.
Instructor: Right. Transmuting, working with Da’ath, is how you clear your mind; especially with something like the mantra S M HON, I have found that very effective, personally, to illuminate the sky of the mind. You can also do vowel Sssss, which is great for that; you can do INRI, Om Masi Padme Yum, Gate Gate Paragate Parasamgate Bodhi Swaha; Klim Krishnaya Govindaya Gopijana Vallabhaya Swaha, and many other mantras that you can use to train your mind.
This is basic. We should do that every time we practice, so that the mind is clear. Then, we can develop that serenity that we need.
Audience: I find also that, when you do concentration on mantra, more and more it is effective at knocking out those extraneous thoughts. There is just no room, and I concentrate on that vibration, and it is a serene state of mind; that is what is helping me more. There is no room for those crazy thoughts, because I am concentrating on the mantra.
Instructor: The thing is, if you're not experiencing any distractions, that pertains to a state related to the ninth degree, in which the mind is not distracted; there are no elements perturbing the mind: there is serenity. And, there are degrees. Sometimes, that ninth degree for one person maybe different for another, even within a single individual. It will fluctuate. So, don't think that, by describing these nine stages, that you go from one to the other, strictly, like a checklist. There is fluctuation. In one meditation session, you can go from the first degree to the sixth, or the fourth degree to the ninth, and back again. You can have an experience, lose it, and go back to a wild mind. It is dynamic; pertaining to our effort of will, and our work, as well as what our Being wants.
Audience: That is what I was going to say about what Samael Aun Weor said about emptying your mind. It seems that, we must practice with ethics, and with an object in meditation and that is going to get us closer to the point when we can empty our minds of thoughts. But, it's not like it is going to just happen step by step―it is going to be a combination of steps, and that's how it feels to me.
Instructor: Yes, and that is why Samael Aun Weor said that there are many students of, say Krishnamurti ―Krishnamurti is a great Master, taught a lot of valuable things about the mind. But, the problem with his students is that... well, first off, Krishnamurti did not teach chastity. He was not allowed to teach that. So, he did not teach it openly. Therefore, students study him very intellectually, meanwhile, they fornicate. Therefore, the mind of the one who does not practice chastity has no purity of mind, no pure ethical discipline―the mind is chaotic. So, these people who study these doctrines, but fornicate, they're not fulfilling the very basic requisite of religion, of yoga; which is Yama / Niyama, restrain the mind, restrain the body... that is basic. Many people try to meditate, for twenty years, thirty years or more... but they fornicate. They are just wasting their time. It really is tragic.
People try to skip steps. They think, "Oh, I don't need to practice Brahmacharya." But, Patanjali says that this is basic; Buddha said that you need to be chaste, Jesus the same thing, "You must be born again of water and spirit."
Here is the thing, like Sivananda said, if you fulfill the basic requirements of ethics in your daily life, your concentration will be very strong, and meditation will be easy. So, try to apply ethical discipline and purity in mind, body and heart, moment by moment, day by day. Then, when you concentrate, it will be much easier. The mind will be stable. Then, you can practice the higher degrees of meditation itself. But the firmer we are in our foundation, like in that image of the pagoda, then we can ascend towards the superior worlds.
Audience: Who painted the image of the Allegory of the Cave?
Instructor: I don't know.
Audience: So, that's not all symbolism, right? There is so much random stuff in there.
Instructor: I think in that painting, there is people looking at iphones, televisions, etc. I chose that image in particular because that is typically what we do. Personally, if I watch television, I try to watch opera, or films that are meaningful. But the fact that people are hypnotized by the television screen... they don't see the light.
Eikasia, in Greek, literally translates as "imagination." But, Samael calls it darkness. So, there is an interesting dynamic here. With Eikasia, we can be visually very awake, perceiving images and light, physically, but, psychologically, we can be completely asleep. So, we have perception, but, it is not conscious.
With television, people typically get hypnotized. The world really is what the book of Genesis says: "The world was formless and void, darkness was upon the face of the deep." That is our elephant, that is sitting in front of the television, our distractions.
One of the things that the Buddhists teach is the need to refrain from the paths of distraction. Meaning, part of our ethical discipline should be avoiding, say, going to movie theatres, where in the astral atmosphere, there is a lot of filth.
Audience: You mentioned dance halls once…
Instructor: It depends. Brothels, places like that, bars, are filled with larvae and filth. However, ethical discipline is to avoid places like that. I always recommend, for students, don't go to those places, if you want your mind to be clean. It is good to feed our mind with healthy impressions. If you watch a movie, watch an opera―which we will be doing more of here―something positive. That gives you good impressions in the mind, that can inspire you to really connect with your Being. Whereas, watching the movie Seven, or something about violence or bloodshed, or films that are very offensive to the sight...
Audience: More and more, they're not innocuous at all. They're graphic...
Instructor: Feed your mind with good impressions. I personally try to avoid that kind of thing.
Audience: Going back to that painting about the Allegory of the Cave, did you see the peeker? The eyes behind the bench? Is there symbolism behind that?
Instructor: We could say that, that person is someone on the other side of the wall, and has the opportunity to see the light, but, such a person doesn't care; that is my interpretation of that image. But, the fact that their faces are like zombies... that is really our daily life.
In order to change, we must work with the fire, which is Daath, the sexual energy, to give us light. And then, when you are transmuting, watch what you eat. The Muslims say, eat only what is lawful, in Sufi scripture. This doesn't pertain to merely physical food―not eating pork is one thing. Pork is a food with a lot of degenerative elements, that can feed our lust. To eat what is lawful is to eat the right impressions, meaning, what you feed your mind. It is avoiding consuming garbage, whether television, books, or visiting bad places.
Audience: I was wondering if you could go over the first rite of rejuvenation again? It's after the first one, when you spin? You said that, after completing that, and shutting your eyes and standing there, you did some other thing?
Instructor: You bend your knees. Take your three fingers, put them on your third eye... this is partially to gain your balance, but, you're also taking all that energy that you accumulated through that gyration, and sending it to your third eye. You close your eyes, gain your balance, and you focus that energy, that chi, that ki, in the third eye, to awaken your clairvoyance.
Audience: You don't say any mantra at this point? You just focus?
Instructor: No, you just focus. The only other mantra you need to do in that practice is, "Open Sesame." And, that mantra, is something that we need to accomplish, symbolically. We need to open our mind, to receive the solar light.
So, again, to concentrate, the runes can help us, the sacred rites can help us.
Thank you for coming.
The Gnostic Academy of Chicago
Free online courses, lectures, podcasts, and transcriptions.