The title of this lecture is “The Multiplicity of Self,” and truly today we are going to be talking about courage, because to seek true and profound self-knowledge, to face the complicated and frightening multiplicity within our own psyche, requires tremendous courage.
In this image we see the Greek hero Perseus holding the severed head of the Medusa, the Gorgon, the monster. And on the Medusa's head, her hair was turned into hundreds of little serpents, representing, psychologically speaking, the multiplicity within our own psyche. Terrifying, Medusa had the power to turn anyone who looked at her to stone, to petrify them, to make them unable to change or to grow, to kill them.
It could be frightening to see things within ourselves that terrify us, things that we would prefer to ignore, to pretend are not within ourselves. But as we seek on the Gnostic path, to reach our highest potential, we must become Heroes like Perseus, not necessarily heroes in the outside world braving all kinds of terrors or tremendous difficulties, but first, heroes within ourselves: to plunge into the depths of ourselves, to not be frightened of facing the reality of our situation, psychologically speaking.
Our Psychological Situation
When we think about our spiritual situation, we can imagine a scenario like this. Imagine that you are in a dark jungle, so black that you cannot see anything, and perhaps you hear frightening noises around you. But because you cannot see, because you do not know where you are, because you have amnesia and have forgotten who you are or how you arrived in this state, you begin to dream. Feeling helpless and feeling terrified, you begin to fantasize. Perhaps imagine that you are somewhere safe. Imagine an identity for yourself, one that is strong or glorious. Imagine a life that is very happy. And although, all the while while you are dreaming this dream, in reality you are sitting in the dark jungle with any terror that could come up and devour you in any moment. You cling to your dreams and your fantasies as the reality, because it would be too terrifying to look at the truth of your situation: to feel helpless, to have no idea how to get out of the jungle, to have no idea who you truly are or how you arrived in this state.
So this is a metaphor for our spiritual situation. Spiritually speaking, we know very little of our true self. We know very little of how we arrived in this current situation that we are in or where we are going, and perhaps, spiritually speaking, we are not going anywhere. If we are blind, if we have lost our connection to our inner divinity, how do we find our way out? That is why we need the courage to open our eyes, to pray, to seek answers. To be guided by our inner divinity out of our current situation, we must first see our reality, our spiritual reality.
Dreams vs. Reality
There is a quote by Gurdjieff I am going to read for you. He says:
Man's possibilities are very great. You cannot even conceive a shadow of what man is capable of attaining. But nothing can be attained in sleep. In the consciousness of a sleeping man, his Illusions, his 'dreams' are mixed with reality. He lives in a subjective world and he can never escape from it. And this is the reason why he can never make use of all the powers he possesses and why he lives in only a small part of himself. ―G.I. Gurdjieff
We are asleep. We go about our days in a subjective world, subjective, meaning it does not have an objective truth, but rather is a production of our own perspective. And as we talked about in the previous lectures of this course, our perspective can be very flawed at times.
Let's say, for example, that you are at a work meeting, and your boss seems grumpy and makes a comment to you. You feel very certain that your boss is angry at you. So you spend the rest of your day avoiding your boss, hiding from him, or if you have to talk to him, trying to be very careful to make him like you, to make him think that you are doing a great job, and let's say that the next day you hear from a co-worker that, truly, your boss was angry because some other misfortune happened. He recently lost a relative. Someone he cared about died. And so you had spent the entire day in a fantasy, in a dream, terrified or stressed out doing all these actions to avoid your boss, to avoid that anger that you believed was there, when all the while it was a fantasy in your own head, a misperception of reality.
In this example, we can see many times, in many ways in our lives, sometimes our dreams are mixed with our reality because of our subjective state of perception. They can also have a more positive slant to them. Perhaps you are trying to be friends with a new group of people, and every time you are around them, you think that they like you. You are making all these great jokes and you are in your own mind really impressing these people. And then later on, you find out from one of them that the whole time they were very annoyed with you, that they were making fun of you behind your back. What kind of pain does that cause for us when we have dreamed and believed that reality is a certain way but when the facts are actually otherwise?
And that is why, as painful as it may be, to break through the defense mechanism of our fantasy and to see our blind and helpless spiritual state, it is essential. It is crucial that we begin to work towards that, because when we awaken, as Gurdjieff says, our possibilities are very great. If we saw reality as it truly was and if we knew ourselves as we truly are, if we became aware of the wealth that is sleeping inside of us, inside of our consciousness, and we activated that, we would not even be able to conceive, currently, a shadow of what we would be capable of attaining. As as Gurdjieff says, because we are asleep, we can never make use of all the power we truly possess in our soul. We live only in a small part of ourselves.
Mechanicity and True Action
So we have to ask ourselves, if we are so asleep all the time, and we are going about our day according to fantasies or misperceptions of reality that we believe to be true, but that really have very little to do with our actual situation, what kind of willpower do we have?
This is a great philosophical debate. Do we have free will or is everything predetermined? Is everything destined to happen a certain way, or do we have a choice in things?
Gurdjieff often talked of man as a machine, saying that the sleeping man, the man who is like all of us in our sleeping conscious state, is like a machine―that someone pushes the right button and you react without any freedom, without any control to change your reaction. Perhaps a sibling or an enemy taunts you in a certain way, criticizes a defect that you are very sensitive about, and you react instantaneously with anger or with embarrassment, and you have no conscious control over that. But even greater is our situation that many larger external forces, economic pressures, politics, our jobs or education, all kinds of external situations become the larger mechanism within which we are trapped without the freedom to do anything more than react to our external circumstances.
And so Gurdjieff describes this state talking about our lack of will, true free will. He says:
Will is a sign of a being of a very high order of existence as compared with the being of an ordinary man. Only men who are in possession of such a being can do. ―Gurdjieff, Views from the Real World
And by do, Gurdjieff means have a true independent action, an action that is of our own will and not merely reactionary to other forces and pressures. Gurdjieff continues:
All other men are merely automata, put into action by external forces like machines or clockwork toys, acting as much and as long as the wound-up spring within them acts, and not capable of adding anything to its force. ―Gurdjieff, Views from the Real World
So as I mentioned, these external forces can be pressures in our world, can be the people in our lives, can be our worldly situation. But further than that, we also have many forces that move us from within our own psyche, over which we have no control.
We can think of our psychological state as a multiplicity. A very basic and perhaps silly example is how many of us wish that we could be healthier, that we could be in shape. And we think that we will have a healthier diet and so we begin to maybe starve ourselves. We are only going to eat celery sticks, just a celery stick fast, and a couple hours later, or maybe if we have a lot of willpower, a few days later, we suddenly become starving. We see a chocolate cake or some really delicious food that is our favorite food, and we begin to gorge ourselves on that. And so while in one moment, we had the will, the desire, the sense of self that wanted to be skinnier or healthier. In the next moment we are possessed by a sense of self that is gluttonous, that desires the sensations of those tastes, those foods.
So which one is really us? Are we the self that wants to be healthy, or are we the self that wants to enjoy life and eat delicious foods? Are we the self that wants to go work out at the gym and become stronger? Or are we the self that likes to relax on the couch and watch TV all day?
If we see both of those desires within ourselves pulling us―one moment is one, the next moment is the opposite, the next moment it is some other drive―how do we know who is our true self from moment to moment?
As we slumber and shift ever between these states, between these different urges, we have the illusion of continuity. We have the illusion that there is one self always present there, when in reality, one moment we are so hungry and we are trying to get up so that we can go to the kitchen and prepare ourselves some food. But then in the next moment we are too tired. We just want to continue to lay in bed and not do anything.
So which one is the true self? How do we know what is our true will?
The founder of the Gnostic movement, Samael Aun Weor, wrote about this state of our existence. He said:
Many thousands of different individuals, different persons, “I’s,” or people who quarrel amongst themselves, who fight amongst themselves for supremacy and who do not have order or concordance whatsoever, exist within each one of us. ―Samael Aun Weor, Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology
So that is like the examples that I was just giving. There is “I” who is hungry. There is an “I” who wants to go on a diet. There is “I” who is tired. There is “I” who wants to exercise. There are all these different identities within ourselves, but they don't have an order. They don't have a structure or a concordance with one another. They are chaotic. They are constantly battling for control of our human machine, our mind, our heart, our body.
So it becomes very hard for us to move in a defined direction, to have a true individual, continuous will, because we are constantly being divided by many, many, many wills within ourselves.
Samael Aun Weor continued:
If we were conscious, if we were to awaken from so many dreams and fantasies, how different life would be... ―Samael Aun Weor, Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology
So as Gurdjieff was talking about how our dreams are mixed with reality, and because our consciousness is asleep, we believe that we are perceiving reality. Let's say that you have a dream. You are asleep at night and you are dreaming that you are being pursued by a huge ferocious tiger. And in this dream you are seeking to escape. You are running. You are looking for a tree that you can climb to get away from this tiger. But in the next instant, you wake up, and you realize you are safe in your bed and the entire time it was a dream.
Well, what about that example from earlier about your boss being mad at you and you are running, and you are running away from your boss, but then the next day when you find out the truth, that your boss isn't mad at you? You wake up in your bed and you realize the whole thing was a dream. You were so frightened. You were so worried. But here you are just fine. There is no threat.
If we were conscious, if we perceived what in us is a dream, our life would be very different, because in reality there are true threats to our spiritual development, true threats that can cause us to become petrified, turned to stone, and unable to grow and develop spiritually. We cannot perceive them as long as we are living in a fantasy.
Nonetheless, as if our misfortune was not enough, negative emotions, self-love and self-esteem fascinate us, hypnotize us, never allowing us to remember ourselves, to see ourselves exactly the way we are... ―Samael Aun Weor, Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology
We have a skewed perception. We talked about it in previous lectures that we become very egotistical, very egocentric―possessed by our self-esteem, our self-love, our sense of anger, our sense of pride, our lust, our greed, our vanity―and because of that we are pulled all the time as if by our own psychological strings.
We do not have control over ourselves. We may swear in one moment that we love someone. We love our spouse, and in the next moment our spouse does something to make us angry and we hate them. We become cold towards them. We begin to push them away or to treat them cruelly. We have no power there to continue to love our spouse. Which one is the true self, the love or the anger?
That is why we have a tragic situation. We cannot remember ourselves. We cannot see ourselves as we truly are, because in each moment, we are possessed by negative emotions that separate us from the true and innate happiness of the consciousness.
We need an individual will. We need the will of our inner divinity, our true will. Not the will of these temporary and transient egotistical desires. But so long as we believe that we already have an individual will, we cannot access and become aware of the will of our inner divinity.
The will that speaks and expresses itself to us through our conscience, which many of us have silenced through years of ignorance. Samael Aun Weor also talks about this situation. He says:
We believe that we have one will, when in reality we possess many different wills. Each “I” has its own will. The tragic comedy of all this interior multiplicity is dreadful. The different internal wills clash against each other, they live in continuous conflict, and they act in different directions. If we had true individuality, if we were a unity instead of a multiplicity, then we would also have continuity of purpose, awakened consciousness, a particular, individual will. ―Samael Aun Weor, Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology
We know of situations where perhaps we or someone else has worked for years to attain a certain job. They spent lots of money. They spent years studying, getting education, getting training. They worked very hard to fit the role of this job that they sought, and finally, perhaps they are successful and they get this career. And then a few months or a few years later, they are unhappy. They realize this isn't what they want to be doing. They want to be doing something else, and that is an example of this tragic comedy that is ridiculous and absurd: how we are pulled so strongly in one direction only to realize that that was a false self, a false desire.
We thought having this certain job would make us happy, only to realize, tragically, that we are still unhappy, that that was not actually the happiness that we were seeking. We think that when we have a nicer car than our neighbor, whom we envy, that then we will be happy. We get the car and then our other neighbor gets a nicer car than us and we are miserable. Our pride is wounded. Our envy is inflamed.
So we see that in all these dreams and fantasies that we chase in the external world, we never truly find contentment that we are seeking, and in fact, often only cause ourselves more suffering. But if we awoke our consciousness, our inner connection to divinity, and we followed the will of our inner divinity, then we would have true purpose, true volition, and true happiness that cannot be taken away, no matter what our external situation maybe.
We are going to do an exercise because it's very important that we become aware of this within ourselves. I have been giving many different examples of that multiplicity, and perhaps some of them might resonate, but to truly psychologically observe this within ourselves is very important, because we need to first of all have the courage to face ourselves and to face our psychological situation. Furthermore, use that courage and use that sincerity with ourselves as a weapon to gain more and more self-knowledge.
As Gurdjieff says in the following quote:
Try to understand that what you usually call “I” is not I; there are many “I’s” and each “I” has a different wish. Try to verify this. You wish to change, but which part of you has this wish? Many parts of you want many things, but only one part is real. It will be very useful for you to try to be sincere with yourself. Sincerity is the key which will open the door through which you will see your separate parts, and you will see something quite new. You must go on trying to be sincere. Each day you put on a mask, and you must take it off little by little. ―Gurdjieff, Views from the Real World
What we want is to see directly in our own experience of life what is new, to comprehend things in ourselves that we had previously been blind to. We have many fantasies about ourselves: fantasies about our life, fantasies about other people in the world that we cling to, that we repeat. We think the same thoughts. We feel the same emotions. We have the same habits day after day after day. But when we awaken consciousness, we begin to perceive ourselves and reality in a new way, and that requires a lot of courage and a lot of sincerity.
So in this exercise, we are going to use a technique of meditative self-observation that we learned about in previous lectures. It's going to be a little bit challenging and uncomfortable. But using our willpower, we are going to set this task for ourselves to be truly sincere and to see within ourselves something new.
So go ahead and close your eyes. And for a few minutes, we will enter into a meditative state. First, we will become aware of our physical center, the sexual-motor-instinctive brain, becoming aware of our physical body, relaxing and breathing deeply, noticing any physical sensations in our body, becoming aware of that, becoming conscious―concentrating, awake, alert, but relaxed.
Next, we will become aware of our emotional state, becoming aware of how we feel in this moment, whether it is positive, negative, or neutral―not judging it, just becoming aware.
And then moving into our intellectual center, becoming aware of our thoughts, becoming aware of any thoughts that are passing through our mind―not trying to change them, but just noticing them―breathing deeply, relaxing with each inhalation, and letting out any stress with each exhalation―beginning to enter into a relaxed and concentrated state, maintaining the alertness and the concentration of our consciousness.
Now we set a wish for ourselves, using our willpower, to recall one of the most painful moments of our lives, and as this memory comes into our concentration. We become aware of our heart, our emotions. We become aware of our body, our physical reactions. Become aware of our mind and our thoughts.
You may notice as you try to focus on something that is uncomfortable and painful, try to look at a painful corner of yourself, but there are many other wills that arise that resists it, that dislike it, that try to pull your concentration away, because we do not like to look at ourselves, to face our suffering. But this is necessary, if we can begin take a deep breath, to relax again, to let the memory go and to come back to this moment.
So hopefully in that exercise you observe something within yourself, a division of wills: that when you set an intention to truly look at yourself, other wills arose that did not want to look, that were afraid, that were angry, that were hurt, that wanted to distract themselves or avoid facing reality. But as Gurdjieff says:
Sincerity is the key which will open the door through which you will see your separate parts, and you will see something quite new. ―Gurdjieff, Views from the Real World
We cannot be afraid of ourselves, even the most painful things that we carry within us. We must be sincere each day. As our sincerity, our willpower, our courage, is the key to overcoming the multiplicity within ourselves.
Christianity and the Multiplicity of Self
I am going to talk in the second part of this lecture now about different scriptural examples that encode this psychological teaching for us.
But we can see that this esoteric teaching has been present in traditions around the world for many hundreds of years, or thousands of years. In the Bible, there is a story of a madman who wandered around the tombs. And if we look at this as a metaphor for our own situation with all of our fantasies, with all of our ideas about ourselves and our delusions about our lives, we are the madman who is wandering around the tombs, because spiritually we are dead. Spiritually, we do not have life.
In the Bible, in the Book of Mark, we see here that Jesus went to this madman who is possessed by many demons and the madman said to Jesus, "What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God?"
When our conscience speaks to us, when our inner divinity comes to us, to show us the reality of our situation, to guide us, to show us what is, what is wrong, what we must do to awaken to overcome ourselves, do we accept that guidance? Or do we turn back to our delusions and say to God, “What have I to do with thee? What have I to do with my own inner Spirit?” If all of my time is invested in my worldly fantasies, in my idea of myself, my pride, my selfishness, my gluttony, my lust, my greed, my envy―what have I to do with God or with the Christ if that is my choice? To live in a fantasy and to avoid my spiritual reality? But Jesus, representing here the Cosmic Christ, the force of universal compassion and wisdom, says to the man before he heals him:
Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?”
The many that exist within this man, this madman who lives among the tombs, who represents us, is a multiplicity of false wills, sometimes demonic wills, animal wills, selfish, egotistical wills that have in their intention to harm others for our own benefit. They are false wills. They are a sense of self that we believe in a given moment is true―“Is who I am” in this moment, because “I feel angry. This is my true will and I will hurt the ones I love to avenge my anger”―when a little while later, we feel remorse. We realize that we were controlled in those moments by the demon of our anger, and that it was not truly the will of our soul. But now having hurt the ones we love we, must live with the consequences of having been possessed by a false “I,” a false self.
But as we see in this chapter of the Bible, Jesus has the power to heal this man of his demons, and he cast them out and cast them into pigs, which run into the waters and then drown. This is a deep esoteric symbol. We can simply say that when we turn to our own inner divinity, or own connection with a force of universal love and compassion, the Christ, and we asked to be healed, that we can overcome the multiplicity of ourselves.
But that takes the sincerity of realizing that, as we currently are, we are possessed by many demonic wills. We lack true individuality
Gurdjieff has another quote that has to do with breaking through this mechanicity, this defense mechanism, this multiplicity. He writes:
All religions speak about death during this life on earth. Death must come before rebirth. But what must die? False confidence in one’s own knowledge, self-love and egoism. Our egoism must be broken. ―Gurdjieff, Views from the Real World
That egoism that I was just describing, a sense of self that has nothing to do with divinity, that has nothing to do with our Spirit or our soul, that is false. That is multiple. That is divided. That believes that our anger is real, that our lust is real, that our envy is real, that our pride is real, and will even fight to the death to defend a sense of self that has no permanence, that has no continuity, that is here one moment and gone the next. This egoism must be broken, and can be broken by our sincerity, and by working with the force of Christ.
We must realize that we are very complicated machines, and so this process of breaking is bound to be a long and difficult task. Before real growth becomes possible, our personality must die. ―Gurdjieff, Views from the Real World
If we want the growth of the soul, we have to invest energy into our soul. And if all of our energy is poured into a thousand different directions that have nothing to do with the growth of our soul, we will remain stagnant. We will remain fueling a false identity, a false personality.
In order for our soul to be born again, for us to be reborn, our false self must die. This is something we have touched on in the previous lectures, which ties into this topic today as well.
War in the Bhagavad-Gita
It is another example from the Hindu tradition, in the scripture of the Bhagavad-Gita, Krishna, who is a representation of Christ, the Hindu Christ, comes to the battlefield to help the hero of the story, Arjuna. Arjuna is a representation of our own human soul, the true willpower of our soul.
In this battle, Arjuna ask Krishna to pull his chariot in between the two armies, the army with whom he fights and the army whom he fights against. He looks on both sides of the battlefield and he sees, on both sides, people who were once or currently are his friends, his relatives, his children, his grandparents, his brother-in-laws. He sees his beloved friends and relatives, and he loses heart. He loses courage. He loses his strength, and he says to Krishna, "I cannot fight. It would be better for me to die than to kill these people whom I love. How can you ask me to fight this war?"
Now this is a psychological symbol for our situation. As we look on our spiritual battle field, at the army against whom we fight, the legion within our psychology, we see many beloved friends and relatives, psychologically speaking, that we are very attached to: our pride, that we are very attached to our gluttony or greed or envy or lust, our desires for the future, our desires for fame or for wealth or for a certain partner, certain security. We are so attached to them that we say, “I don't want to fight this spiritual battle. I want to continue on with the flow, even if it costs me the death of my soul. I don't have the strength to fight.”
But what does our inner Christ say in this beautiful scripture? Krishna gives Arjuna the teaching of Atman, the true Spirit, the inner-self that is not attached to fame or to disgrace, to gain or to loss. It is not attached to heat or cold, to happiness or sadness. The Spirit has eternal wisdom and love and a contentment that is beyond temporary pleasures of the world. Through this teaching, Arjuna gains direct knowledge of non-attachment and gains the strength and the courage to go to battle against his enemies, which as I stated earlier, psychologically speaking, are elements within ourselves that we are too attached to―that we believe are our cherished darlings, our family, our loved ones, but that ultimately come to steal from us the kingdom, the kingdom of our soul, our spiritual inheritance. They come to take away our lifetime, to take away our energy and our willpower so that we cannot fight for our soul, for our spiritual development, and fight according to the will of our inner God.
Perseus and Medusa: The Essence Battles the Ego
Finally, we will return to the Greek mysteries, the myth that we began, the myth of Perseus and Medusa. So the Medusa, a Gorgon, was once a very beautiful woman, so beautiful that she became very vain and proud and egotistical, and as a result, incurred the wrath of the goddess and was turned into a hideous monster with hair full of serpents.
These many serpents represent the same symbol as the poisonous serpents in the desert that bit the Israelites, the many different desires within ourselves that bite us, that poison us, that causes us, spiritually, to become weak and to die, because they divide us from our true self, from our true inner divinity.
In order to protect the virtue of his mother from a lustful king, Perseus goes and fights to bring back the head of the Medusa. Medusa with her stare petrifies anyone who looks upon her. Many warriors have gone to fight her, and in looking upon her horrible, terrifying face, have been turned to stone and have perished.
Spiritually speaking, when we look at ourselves, we must not get identified. We must not get attached. We must look at ourselves with serenity with courage, look at ourselves from the perspective of our inner divinity who is not attached to any outcome, but can see reality as it truly is. So in order for Perseus to defeat Medusa, he is given by Athena a polished shield, a shield which allows him to see the reflection of Medusa and to kill her without looking directly upon her.
Symbolically, this represents our need to enter into a meditative state in which we are not identified, but can reflect on ourselves from a higher perspective. We can destroy our enemy, because when we sit to meditate, we can separate from egotistical desires and enter into communion with our inner divinity, which gives us strength to see reality. But as stated in the earlier example, when we are fused with a given desire, when in that moment we become so identified with our anger that we do horrible things, say horrible things to the ones that we love, then we are defeated. We are spiritually killed by our inner enemy, and that is why we need that separation: the polished shields of our own self-reflection.
As he cut off the head of the Gorgon, Perseus was given an adamantine sword by Zeus. Zeus was his father, because Perseus, like us, is half God, half mortal. Within us we have our soul, our Essence, the seed of a soul which is given to us by the Spirit, our spiritual identity, our inner divinity. But also within us, we have many mortal elements given to us by Mother Nature, our physical body and internal bodies and vehicles that were given to us by nature. And so we must work with the sword of willpower, which represents the willpower given to us by our inner Spirit, of our spiritual nature, to cut off the head of the beast, our psychological enemies.
Now after Perseus kills Medusa, he must put on the helm of Hades. Hades is the king, the lord of the underworld, and this helm of darkness allows Perseus to hide from the other enemies that come, the other Gorgons that come to destroy him when they find out that he has killed their sister. This represents the facing of ourselves and cutting off the head of Medusa is just the beginning of our battle, but what we have to use to protect ourselves for the further battles after that is the helm of darkness. Because when we have faced the darkness within ourselves, we received the gift of Hades, the gift of the lord of the underworld, that we can use to protect ourselves, because we know when we face the worst in ourselves, we have the courage and the ability to fight and conquer other forms of evil.
So to summarize everything that we talked about here, we can look at what these symbols represent. When we are first courageous enough to admit that we have a multiplicity of wills and that we do not know our true individual will, the will of our inner God, when we become serious about our spiritual work in developing our soul, rather than chasing after many false fantasies and false desires that change moment by moment, that at the end of our life have brought us nothing, we instead face ourselves and we become serious about wanting to develop our soul.
We can use a method for self-transformation, that just as Perseus used the shield, we must have non-identified self-observation. This comes from self-observing ourselves throughout the day, as we talked about in the previous lectures, but also through meditation. Through developing our connection with our inner divinity, that can strengthen us to see what is our true self. Because when we know our true self, we are not so easily fooled by the multiplicity of false selves within our psyche.
At the end of each day, we retrospect. We perform a meditation in which we observe which elements were active throughout our day, so we can begin at the beginning of our day and replay it in our mind with non-identification, or we can start at the end of our day just before we sit to meditate, and replay the day backwards. But either way, observing how many multiple wills pulled us in different directions, how from one moment to the next our will was not continuous, and analyzing from an unidentified position, we question: what is the truth of those desires? If I pursue this anger, if I go and I take my vengeance and act on this anger, what will the outcome be? Will it bring me happiness? Will it bring me peace? In the long run, will it develop my soul? Or is it just an illusion? Is it a false desire, a false self that I must separate from?
The same is true with pride, with envy, and lust, gluttony, laziness. If we act on these defects, what will the outcome be? Will the outcome be spiritual growth? Will it be self-knowledge and wisdom, universal compassion? Will the outcome be that true happiness of the soul? Or will those only bring us temporary pleasures, that when we reach the end of life, will be lost?
For that type of meditation, we need sincerity. We need to be very sincere with ourselves and not allow our self-deception to fool us into wasting much time and energy chasing after fantasies, delusions that won't get us anywhere. And all of this work takes tremendous willpower. For that willpower, we need to conserve our energy, to be living ethically, to be honest with ourselves, to be honest with others, to be living in an upright way, to be acting according to what we know in our conscience to be right. Through those ethics we can conserve enough energy to have the willpower to observe ourselves day after day, to meditate and to truly seek the awakening of our consciousness.
And finally, it's very important that we use prayer, because this self-transformation is a tremendous feat. It is very difficult. It is symbolized by the heroes of the Greek myths and the heroes of the scriptures, because it requires a tremendous amount of willpower, a heroism that we must find in our own soul and develop. But always these heroes have the help and the guidance of the gods and of divinity. And that is why through prayer, we can gain that inner help, that inner guidance to show us:
What is the truth?
What is the reality of our situation, and what is the will of our inner God?
Do you have any questions?
Questions and Answers
Question: When Gurdjieff says what is man capable of, what is he capable of, if we are going to do this work of eliminating ego? What happens for us?
Instructor: Many people wonder “Who would I be if I didn't have all these desires? What would I do? Would I just be nothing?” But when we look at great spiritual masters like Jesus, like Buddha, like Krishna, these are truly great solar identities, solar beings, profound, powerful. If we took an ordinary person and put them in a situation where they were all by themselves, this person would be helpless, would not have the ability in that jungle, like our earlier example, to find their way out or to survive. But if we took a master like Jesus who has power over nature, power over himself, truly channels the power of divinity, his potential is limitless on earth and in the higher dimensions of nature. So that is the ultimate goal that we seek. Whatever level we might reach, we seek to develop our spiritual potential to have power over ourselves first and over nature, and even spiritual power.
Question: So Gurdjieff talks a lot about genuine will. What would be an example of genuine willpower according to divinity?
Instructor: We can think about the example of Jesus of Nazareth in the garden of Gethsemane. What does he say as he prays to God? This is before his crucifixion and he knows he is going to die and he prays to God, "Father, if it be thy will, take this cup of bitterness away from me, but not my will but thine be done." It is an example willpower. It is submission to divine will, that where our Spirit guides us, that we have the will of our inner God to do whatever is necessary, and that we are not controlled by fear or by any egotistical desire, but rather, we have true strength, continuity of purpose. We are awakened. We know what we must do and we have the will and the power to do it.
Question: So what does it mean to be conscious? Because this is a very difficult thing for students and for ourselves, is learning to understand what it means to be awake. So when we are awake, how do we really know? So I know it sounds like a kind of a catch-22, but what are the signs of being conscious in this work?
Instructor: Well in that example or in that exercise where we were meditating, were you aware of your feelings? Were you aware of your physical body sitting in the chair? Were you aware of your thoughts? That simple awareness of physical sensations or emotional sensations or mental sensations is an example, is a taste of becoming conscious. Actually, throughout the day as we are walking around, we are often not even aware of our physical body. We are not aware of breath coming in and out of our body. And so on the most basic level, to be aware of your physical processes, becomes the first level of being conscious, and then as we become aware of our more profound psychological depths―our thoughts or emotions that were previously unconscious to us as we work more and more in meditation―then we are awakening more and more. We might even perceive things that are extrasensory, you know, develop spiritual senses like telepathy, clairvoyance, clairaudience, to be awakened when we are asleep at night, to be awakened in the astral plane. These are examples of awakening, but it happens degree by degree.
Question: So what does it mean to be asleep and hypnotized? Because I know we talked a lot about different identities and wills. How is it that our sense of self makes us dream or makes us unaware of ourselves or unaware of things?
Instructor: Well, I think I gave an example too of being, you know, having a misperception of a situation with our boss, right? Where we believe that our boss is angry, and so we go about our day acting according to that belief. Now the reality is that our boss is angry at us, was having a bad day, because of some other situation that we didn't know, but in this state, this subjective reality, the subjective world of our own psychological perspective, we believe it to be true. And so we are going about acting as though that is the reality when the reality is otherwise. And that is because we are sleep, because we think we are perceiving reality, but truly we are filtering reality through our own egotism, our own fear that our boss would be angry at us, for example.
It’s just like the dream with the tiger chasing us, that when we are asleep and we are having a dream, that a big tiger is after us, we believe it's true and we are running like mad and we are trying to find a tree. We are trying to escape, and then we wake up and we realized that was not reality, right? So that's an example of what it is to be asleep. And you know, there are many desires that we are chasing we believe are very real, that desire for that new car, that desire for that new partner, that desire for that new job. And as we chase them, we believe they are real, but perhaps a few months later, some other job comes up and you get that job instead, and so all that time that you invested thinking that, “Oh, in a year from now, I am going to have this job,” was wasted, because the reality ended up being different. The truth is, that life never goes according to our plans.
Question: When I see that certain egos come up in situations, such as insecurity or fear or uncertainty or doubt, despair, and becoming hypnotized by those thoughts is what keeps us asleep. So why do we have a multiplicity in us? Why is it that we have ended up the way we are?
Instructor: So because we―in past actions, both in this lifetime and in previous lifetimes―invested our energy into desires that had nothing to do with our inner divinity. We created a flow of energy that goes into multiple different directions. So let's say that, you know, in the past, in a past life when we had a stronger connection with our inner divinity, we were guided to perform one action. But because of some egotistical desire or fantasy, because of our pride, for example, we didn't want to do this action that would have humiliated us. So we chose to act in a prideful way.
Well, in that case, psychologically speaking, we strengthened our sense of pride. We strengthened that false self, and we did this many times, many different actions, many different directions, created a multiplicity of wills with our own energy, our own consciousness, our own conscious energy. And so in this lifetime, we carry the psychological consequences, the psychological bodies from those previous existence―existences that have a multiplicity of wills.
But because we have become so hypnotized, so asleep, like I said, spiritually speaking, we have amnesia. We have no idea how we got here. We don't even remember what we did yesterday or two weeks ago, let alone what we did in past lives. And so our situation is very confused and very asleep. But as we work with meditation and as we perform this profound psychological self-transformation and awaken ourselves and begin to perceive the depths of our psyche, we can become aware and awakened and remember our past lives and see for ourselves, directly, through our own experiences, our mystical experiences, the reality of our past lives and how we ended up in this situation now.
Question: So when we get rid of the ego, we develop the soul. How is it that by eliminating the ego, we develop our consciousness? How is our consciousness trapped in the ego, right? Can you tell us more about what that process is like?
Instructor: I am going to go back to this quote here by Gurdjieff, when he says the death must come before rebirth. And so we know that our egoism must be broken. The ego is all of those different “I’s.” So we can say actually that we have a legion of egos. Ego means “I” in Latin. Now, because we have our own psychology divided into these false senses of self, our energy and our attention and our awareness is divided in many different directions, so that we can't progress through life with a continuous direction and a sense of will. We can't work towards one aim, because one minute we want to go on the diet and become skinnier, and the next minute we are turned in another direction and we are eating that chocolate cake, right? But this is actually a much bigger problem for us when we perform meditation everyday and we see the reality of different egos that pull at us.
As we meditate and we begin to take our energy back, we begin to extract our consciousness from these false delusional selves, these delusional desires, and we bring our consciousness back into a center of gravity and we center ourselves, again―in our Spirit, in our soul, in our conscience and our connection to divine will within ourselves, our true individual will―then we can begin to die to the delusion and to be born to the reality of the soul, and see the spiritual realities that are much more profound than the false realities that we perceive now and that we believe to be true.
But so long as we believe the lie, well, then we cannot perceive the truth. So we must first perceive that the egos or the different “I’s” that manipulate us moment-to-moment are false and then die to them. Let them go―as Arjuna killed these beloved attachments that we have, because they are temporary, because they are false. Then all of that energy, that consciousness, that awareness, returns to our Spirit, to our soul, and so we can be born as a soul.
Question: Can an ego observe another ego? How does that work? I believe Samael Aun Weor talked a lot about that process.
Instructor: Well, some people develop an egotistical sense of self that is doing this work. You know, it may be a Gnostic “I’s” that sits and judges and condemns the other “I’s” and says, “This one is bad and this one is not good.” But eventually that person has to become aware that that Gnostic “I” is also a false self.
When we are sitting in a state of conscious meditation, free from conditioning, we see and perceive the reality directly. We gain comprehension that is not intellectual. When one is sitting, at the beginning perhaps, our analysis is a little bit intellectual because we start where we are at, and so we have to maybe begin just by intellectually pondering: “Well, was that desire to yell at my friend good or bad?” Or “Where is that going to take me if I continue to act on that desire?”
Perhaps in the beginning it is intellectual, but as we strengthen our connection with divinity and as we strengthen our consciousness through this work and awaken, then we have comprehension of ourselves. We perceive reality directly. We know the truth. And so we do not have to analyze in this egotistical way or this intellectual way, but merely sit to meditate, observe what we see, and we will know through direct spontaneous insight. Perhaps not in that moment of meditation, perhaps later, but as well as long as we are doing this work and we are making efforts, our inner divinity will guide us and will show us the truth. It is very inspiring and doesn't require exertion. It comes naturally as a result of the effort to observe ourselves and to meditate.
We start with the quote from the Oracle of Delphi:
Man, know thyself and you shalt know the universe and its Gods!
For most of us, we do not have a deep understanding of ourselves. We have a superficial understanding of ourselves―our name, our race, our job―maybe what we like and dislike. When it comes to a deeper understanding, we ask: what does it mean to be a human being? Does it mean we have a soul?
We might have ideas about it, and we might have beliefs, but how does one come to know themselves? How does one know themselves so profoundly that they then experience, directly, the universe, the gods, our own inner divinity, our connection with all the rest of life?
It’s important to ask ourselves where we seek knowledge. For seeking knowledge externally, in classes, in documentaries, scientific studies, or books, that knowledge might help us to survive in the world, and man’s struggle has often been a struggle for survival.
But once we have those basic needs met, and we find ourselves feeling purposeless or aimless, we have to ask ourselves a deeper question, which is: why do we exist?―not just the search for survival, but the search for meaning.
To really understand that, we have to start by knowing ourselves.
So, we have to ask ourselves what we want from life. And if we want from life just a bunch of money in a bank, a nice car, a good job, well, then we’d probably never be here in a group like this. We want something more. We want to really understand directly the truth, something that is beyond pleasure, entertainment, or comfort.
We want to know: what is the meaning of all of this? Why is everything like this? Why do I exist? What am I supposed to be doing with my life? What is the purpose of it all?
Then we have to evaluate how we have been using our time and our energy. If all of our time and our energy is caught up in the struggle for material success, beyond just covering our material needs, but to really investing our whole life into entertainment, pursuits of pleasure, money, and comfort, and investing no time in our spiritual search, our own spiritual development, then we will never come to cultivate the self-knowledge that we are looking for―the knowledge that can go so deep that it can show us the root of our own existence.
We talked a lot about consciousness, and that is what we are seeking to understand: where does our consciousness come from?
Some very materialistic scientists will tell us that consciousness is just an epiphenomenon of the brain. We are all just walking chemical reactions. But in these teachings, we believe that consciousness is actually the root of our experience of all life. It’s only through consciousness that we can experience thoughts, or emotions, or physical sensations. So, that is what we are going to work with.
The Purpose of Studying Gnosis
So, we need to know why we are here. Of course, in a deeper sense of why we exist. But also why we are here studying spiritual teachings. And so the founder of the modern Gnostic movement, Samael Aun Weor has a quote about this. It is very meaningful to me, and it says very directly:
Obviously, we need to know our purpose in gathering ourselves here, in these studies, and for what. If curiosity is the simple motive that moves you, listen: there are many things to be curious about, i.e. in city entertainment centers, in cinemas, the bulls in the arena, etc. Yet, to enter in these studies is something very serious [...] Indeed, to emancipate the Essence (which we’ve talked about before is our own consciousness), to disassemble the mind and will (from our conditioning), is not an easy task. ―Samael Aun Weor, Cosmic Ships
The Gnostic work, to really get that deep into the Gnostic work, to really experience our true nature, is difficult. When we’ve talked in the past few months about different barriers that we have, we’ve talked before about how we need to struggle to awaken our own consciousness. Most of time our consciousness is asleep, and we are going around in our mechanical habits: same thoughts that we thought many times before; feeling the same emotions that we cannot seem stop feeling, even if they are negative, even if it is sadness or anger. We cannot seem to get out of it―our same habits, our same routines. If we really want to wake up, and experience life in a new way, experience life in a more profound way, we have to overcome certain barriers.
Balancing the Three Brains
So, one of the first things we talked about was the three brains: that we have an intellectual center, an emotional center, and a motor-instinctive-sexual center―that we need to work with our physical energies, our emotional energies, and our intellectual energies in a balanced way. By balancing, and achieving that equilibrium in ourselves, in this moment, but also in our daily lives, then we can begin to awaken consciousness.
When we awaken consciousness and work with self-observation, and we are truly observing not only our external life but also our internal states, our states of mind, our emotional states, then we begin to see what is false in us.
We distinguish between consciousness as pure perception in each moment, and then the egotistical filter that prevents us from seeing situations as they are―seeing situations with equanimity and serenity. Instead, we become very upset, angry, or unhappy, or displeased with many situations in life because our own egotism.
Once we finally established a basis of equilibrium to an extent (we have to begin where we are) and we’ve begun to absorb what is false in us―how do we move beyond that and begin to have those higher experiences of the truth? Today, we are going to talk about this: the experiences of our consciousness free from any delusional, egotistical ideas we may have about ourselves.
But to truly understand our own nature, we are going to talk about how we can form our foundation to those types of higher experiences today.
So, do we spend most time observing reality? I gave some examples last time about how, maybe you meet somebody, and the first time you meet them, you think they are a really nice person. Then later on, you find out that was not the case. Or vice versa: you think somebody is a jerk and then later on, you may find out they are a great person and one of your best friends.
But if we extend this little problem, we see that filtered perception extends to our whole life. How much of the time do we spend actually directly perceiving the situation as it is?
So, I already have been talking for a few minutes and probably most people's minds have drifted, begun thinking about other things. We can do that at many points in our life: when we are sitting there in a meeting, or at work, or we are sitting with our family, having a conversation, doing some task. How rarely are we actually focused on that task? Are we actually present and engaged with it, attentive to that conversation without some kind of mental filter, without many other distractions of what we should be doing or what we wish was happening instead, or what we have to do later, but to just be present and enjoy our lives?
If we spend most of our time in that state that I had mentioned, of mind wandering, then how much are we really living? How are we going to understand the true nature of the reality and ourselves if we are never there, consciously speaking? We are asleep. If we are hypnotized by our own ideas about life, our own perceptions that are not true, then how do we begin to see reality?
So, take an average day, today. How long do you think you spent worrying about things, or fantasizing about things, daydreaming? I see this in myself a lot when I am driving. I am not really focused on driving. I’m thinking about all the other stuff that I have going on.
It is not to condemn mind-wandering, but to say that if we are really seeking to wake up, consciously, to begin to perceive life in a profound way, in a new way, in an alert way, then we can’t be always seeing life according to our habits.
Many of us have somebody in our life―I think this happens a lot with family members―where we already know how they are going to act, and what buttons they are going to push. You might go to see somebody. For example: you might go to see your brother and you already have this idea: "Oh, my brother always gets on my nerves in these particular ways.” So, even when you are walking in the room, in the first few minutes of talking to him, you already have in your mind “This is going to be an unpleasant encounter.” It is going to go the same way it always goes.
Comment: You’ve already analyzed it and tried to come to a solution.
Instructor: Right. So you are not giving each situation a new chance, and what happens, interestingly enough, we see this in psychology as well, is that when we have our own preconceptions about somebody, we end up treating them in a way that causes them to continue responding to us in the same way.
These types of cycles can happen in our relationships. They can happen in our jobs. “Oh! I am already dreading going to work today and it is going to be a terrible day!” And then you show up having that kind of attitude and it ends up being a terrible day.
So there can be some feedback loop there. It is very important to check ourselves up a little bit, psychologically―to perceive each day, and each moment, and each person in a new way―to really see the reality of that. To do that we need to be awakening our consciousness.
The Key of Sol and Self-Observation
And so, one way we can awaken consciousness is self-observation. We talked about that before, that there is a specific technique that we use in Gnosticism called the Key of SOL. As taught by Samael Aun Weor:
Gnostic students must learn to divide attention into three parts: subject (which is us), object (which is whatever we are focusing on, in this moment, in the external world), and location (which is where we are right now). ―Samael Aun Weor, Esoteric Treatise of Hermetic Astrology
So we can go ahead and do this right now:
Subject: to not fall into the forgetting of oneself before any representation. ―Samael Aun Weor, Esoteric Treatise of Hermetic Astrology
Whoever has watched a movie or a TV show, and you get so sucked into it that somebody can be talking to you in another room and walking behind you, and you do not even hear them, because you have completely lost focus.
So, we forget about our physical bodies. We forget about our emotional states, and our intellectual states. We just go along with things and the next thing you know, you’ve gotten so caught up in your anger, that you are shouting at somebody before you have even been able to catch yourself and realize: "I am getting angry!"
It can happen. We are not aware of ourselves. So, right now, if we become aware of ourselves, we can use the tree brains as a point of reference that we talked about before.
So, physically, “How am I feeling?” In my physical body. This is not an intellectual process, but just to consciously observe it, to feel your body.
Emotionally: "How am I feeling?" So, even if you do not have a label for your emotional state, become aware of it.
"What am I thinking?" Become aware of your thoughts, and that creates a space of separation from ourselves, from which we can observe ourselves in a more balanced way. So, after we become aware of ourselves, we need to also be aware of the object of our attention. So, Samael Aun Weor says:
Object: To observe every representation, every fact, every event, no matter how insignificant the latter may seem, in detail, without forgetting oneself. ―Samael Aun Weor, Esoteric Treatise of Hermetic Astrology
So maintaining awareness of ourselves is to be aware of the person we are talking to, or the thing we are listening to, or the task we are engaged in, no matter how meaningless it seems. Maybe we have a job in a factory where all you do is to push a button all day. So, no matter how meaningless it seems to be awake to that moment, to be alert to it, to be perceiving this as new, and not allowing your mind to drift off into autopilot―but to wake yourself up. The more we work with them, the muscle of self-awareness, the muscle of consciousness, the more we begin to perceive even more of reality.
And then also being aware of our location:
Location: The rigorous observation of the place where we may be, and to ask ourselves: "What place is this? Why am I here?" ―Samael Aun Weor, Esoteric Treatise of Hermetic Astrology
So, for most of us we walked into this room. We have not looked at it. We found a chair. Since then we have forgotten about the room we are in. So, what we want is not the tunnel vision of consciousness where we are only perceive a speck of our experience. We want to expand that consciousness out. The way to do that is to work with consciousness―to wake yourself up.
Throughout the day I try to catch myself. If I am at the computer, working away, and then suddenly I am: "Oh, I am not self-observing!”―to catch myself, to work with a practice like the key of SOL, to make myself aware of myself, aware of what I am doing, where I am―and gradually your consciousness begins to expand so that you can be aware.
I have a walk to work where I walk across a really beautiful green space. Usually I am there in my tunnel vision and I am really focused: “Ok, I have got to get to work. These are the things I am going to do,” but I will wake myself up like this and I use to practice like this. Suddenly my experience of life becomes much fresher, much more profound. I notice the people walking by. I can hear the birds. I can smell the freshly cut grass, or whatever might be.
So, if we really want to have a really dynamic and living experience of life and not sleeping like robots, then we can work with this type of practice. It’s a spiritual practice, a spiritual exercise working with our own consciousness, our own perception.
That is distinct from an intellectual understanding. It is not: "Oh, I hear the birds. I smell the grass." It is not in the mind. It is just being aware of it, just being alive to it.
Samael Aun Weor also wrote about that:
Whosoever wants to awaken consciousness must work here and now. We have the consciousness incarnated and that is why we must work with it here and now (in our body, in our daily lives, not to be off fantasizing about other things, but to be working right here, in this moment, in every moment of our lives, with our own consciousness). Whosoever awakens consciousness here in this physical world awakens in all the suprasensible worlds.
The Tree of Life: A Map of the Superior Worlds
We are going to talk a little bit about what the superior worlds are, but I want to point out: what is the foundation for having higher experiences, for experiencing the truth, our true nature, the root of our existence, our inner divinity?
The basis for this is: pointing out, to begin working with our consciousness here and now. If we want to sit in meditation and to really awaken in higher states of being, we have to begin by awakening in our daily life, all the time, moment to moment.
We can use this diagram of the Tree of Life―which is also in your handouts, if it is easy to see at there―to perceive what we are. We talked about the bottom part of this before, the bottom sphere of this diagram, Malkuth, our physical body. So, if we are aware, conscious of our physical body, we can know that part of our consciousness is here, acting in the physical body.
We have also to talk about having an energetic body, the vital body. And that is the energy that moves and circulates blood and air and keeps us alive allows us to move around. Without the energetic body, we would not be able to exist, physically. So, we have an aspect of our consciousness that we may not be conscious of from moment to moment, but we do have an aspect of our consciousness that is animating our body, keeping us alive.
We also have what is called an astral body, related here with the sphere of Hod. The astral body is all the emotional energies that move through us and keep us functioning in the emotional plane.
And then, we have a mental body here in Netzach that transforms all of our thoughts.
Finally, the human soul, or for us, the essence of the human soul, which is related with the sphere of Tiphereth.
There are higher spheres on the Tree of Life as well related with our divine soul and Geburah, and our Innermost Spirit as Chesed.
And so, those are the things that we want to start experiencing.
We may have a sense of our physical body, a sense of the energy moving in our body. We may be familiar with our emotional states and our mental states. We may even feel a little bit conscious of our own willpower. How do we become conscious of our divine soul? Of our Inner Spirit? Or even higher in this Tree of Life?
We have these three top sephiroth that are related with the tree primary forces that in Christianity we call them the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. In order to be aware of those, we have to awaken here and now.
Also, I want to point out that there are lower dimensions. So, if this is the Tree of Life, so we can consider these spheres at the bottom are an inverted Tree of Life, the shadow of the Tree of Life. Last time we talked about the ego, that we have many delusional states that we get caught in. Perhaps walking to a room and we are very afraid of everybody is going to hate us in that room. Even if that has nothing to do with reality, even if you are walking in the room, people do not even notice you are there, you can have your own psychological state about it―that would be experiencing a lower state of consciousness, a state of consciousness that is not free, that is not experiencing reality, but is conditioned by our own psychological habits.
In order to ascend to higher states, we need to become aware of these lower states.
In talking little bit about the Tree of Life, there is a quote from the Glorian.org website:
The primary symbol of the Tree of Life is a structure of ten spheres called sephiroth in Hebrew. These spheres have many levels of meaning. Macrocosmically, they represent dimensions or worlds. Psychologically, they represent aspects of our consciousness [...] The ten spheres are but a simplification of a much more sophisticated and complex rendering of the many dimensions found in existence and non-existence. ―Gnostic Instructor, Glorian Publishing
Just this can represent psychological states or aspects of our consciousness, they can also represent higher, superior levels of nature, in which nature becomes more rarified, more divine, more pure and sacred. If we want to experience higher dimensions, what might be called heavens in some religions or Nirvana―in order to do that, we have to awaken―we have to liberate ourselves from lower states of being.
You can think of the consciousness as a seed that has been planted in physical matter. We actually have a teaching about the ray of the creation in Gnosticism. But up here, we have the Ain which is the Nothingness. And from the Ain emerges the Ain Soph, which is the Limitless.
Another Instructor: Ain is the Nothingness, while the Ain Soph means “No limit” because Ain means “No” or negation and Soph means “end.”
Instructor: From Ain Soph emerges the Ain Soph Aur, which is the “limitless light,” the light of the Christ. As that is the light that descends through these different dimensions, these different levels of nature, it is gradually is going to be planted here in our physical body.
Whatever we choose to do here and now with our consciousness, with that little seed, will determine if we are going to grow as a Tree of Life or going to descend into lower states or being.
It is very important to learn about our consciousness, to work with it, to understand it, to meditate, to self-observe. And as we work with that energy, to be able to begin understanding higher dimensions as well.
If we have already got all the elements that we need, how can we experience those higher states of consciousness? Just, in that analogy of planting a seed, a seed needs certain conditions in order to be able to grow, right? A seed needs water, light, air. So, we already have the seed planted in the earth. But do we have the light? Do we have the teachings and the doctrine that help us, the scriptures, the Word of God, whether it is the Bible, the Bhagavad Gita, the Buddhist scriptures as well?
Do we have that type of nourishment coming into our life? Or are we feeding our hearts and minds with lots of garbage, other junk food that is not nourishing the soul?
And do we have the water, the water of the life, the energies that we need? Because in order to self-observe, all day and all night, to be awake in the dream state, as well, you need a lot energy.
Awakening and the Conservation of Energy
We have to talk about the conservation of energy. And it begins by just observing yourself and see how you are using your energy.
If observe yourself through the day:
How do you use your physical energy?
How do you use your vital energy, emotional, or mental energy?
Volitional energy is the energy of the willpower.
The energy of your consciousness, your spiritual energy. How do you use all of that in a given day?
Do you use it wisely?
Do you over-exert the mind, the heart, or the physical body out of balance with the other centers?
Much of this is building off what we have already talked about.
But in order to conserve it, we have to first see how we are using it and where we are wasting it. So, if I am spending ten hours a week, out in bars, drinking a bunch, and laughing with my friends and doing that stuff all the time―is that ten hours of energy that I am conserving for my spiritual practice or is that ten hours of energy that I just kind of binged on and it is gone? It is never coming back.
Comment: It got spent elsewhere.
Instructor: Right! If we want to use this life wisely, we really want to ask ourselves: “What do we want from life?” And if what we want from life is something more than just entertainment, something more than pleasure and money in our bank accounts, but we really want to know divinity, we have to start being serious about looking how we use our life.
If we are using our life in ways that do not achieve that type of outcome, then we can’t be surprised. Everything in nature works on the basis of cause and effect. If every cause that we are putting into motion is creating effects that are wasting our energy, well, then we are going to get to the end of our life and we should not be surprised that point that we have not cultivated our soul, because we have not put the causes into effect that would have created the awakening of consciousness.
We have a really valuable opportunity that we have teachings like this. Now we have access to all the world scriptures, access to a variety of teachings, especially here in the United States. Many of us have more time to study religion than has ever existed in the past, but how are we using that time and how are using this precious lifetime? We have a chance now to really know ourselves, and to know divinity directly. If we do not take that seriously, no one will be to blame but us.
An important piece of conserving energy is ethics. A lot of time people talk about morality, and morality can change depending where you are, what country you are live in, the time period.
For example: I was living in South Korea and many of the morals of Korea are different from the morals that we have here in America. Who is to say which moral is better or worse?
But when it comes to ethics, this is really something personal. Yes, in the Ten Commandments or in the ethical foundations of Buddhism, or in yoga: Yama and Niyama, that we are going to talk about―in all of those teachings we are getting a sense of ethics, but truly we have to go deeper than just doing something because “Somebody told me to do it. Because my priest says so, or my teachers, or whoever told me to do it.”
We have to find the ethics in our own heart, in our own conscience. So, we know when we are doing something that is wasting our time. We know when we are doing something that is harming others or harming ourselves. And if we choose to ignore that and waste our energy, like I said, we are the ones who will have to deal with the consequences.
Ethics is not about following some strict dogma that has been imposed upon us, but ethics is about really working with the energies of nature, and the energies of our own consciousness, and the energies of our soul. It is the reason that we have a conscience that knows wrong from right. It is because we are longing to awaken to something more. But if we do not set the right foundation, if we do not have the causes that help us to awaken in higher dimensions, then we will not be able to do it.
So, another quote from the Gnostic Teachings website is:
Ethics are not just mechanical laws that some external authority is trying to impose upon us. These rules, commandments, or vows have a very specific function, which must be clearly grasped, and that is this: If you perform actions that are harmful, you create disharmony not only in your environment but in your mind. Yet if you follow these (ethical) "observances," or positive practices, you create positive energy, not only into your environment, but in your mind. So the purpose of Yama and Niyama or the Commandments of Moses is to stabilize our psychology so that we are no longer vibrating with so much negative emotion. ―Gnostic Instructor: Meditation without Exertion: Ethics
In every religion, if someone is going to become a practitioner, like a monk or a nun, they have to take certain vows, ethical vows, renouncing harmful behaviors, and this is not just because somebody wrote a rule book and said that you have to do it.
This is because when we work with spiritual energies, we need to be aware that disharmony will create an inability to see the truth.
If you go and are lying to people all the time, eventually, you yourself become unable to perceive the truth yourself. Many people justify…
Comment: Because you told so many lies that you don’t know it anymore!
Instructor: In your own mind you become confused. People justify that. I have heard many people say: "Well, everybody lies. It is no big deal!" But if you really make an effort to be honest, you begin to see things in a very different way.
When we lie, we actually come to hate ourselves. We come to feel that we have no integrity as a person. We become confused in our own mind about who we are, because we said so many different things to so many different people that we do not even know anymore, “Who am I?” And lying is just one little example of ethics, right? There are much more profound types of unethical behaviors that we can give in to.
It is serious in this work. If we want to experience directly divinity, and higher states of consciousness, then we cannot just skip this step. People want to jump right into the highest levels of Tantric Buddhism, and all of those high aspects without establishing their own ethics.
So, people get very confused. They start working with energetic practices and they create more harm for themselves and for others.
What we need to do is to cultivate stability of mind, in which then divinity can express to us very directly, because the mind becomes like a serene lake. But each time that we are doing things that in our conscience we do not feel right about, we come to disintegrate ourselves so that we do not have even a good sense of our character.
Well then, how can we go and sit in mediation and prayer and bare our souls to God and expect that God’s going to show up? We do not have that sincerity with ourselves in those cases.
Ethics in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras
To highlight just one example of ethics from Patanjali's Yoga Sutras: the first two steps of Yoga in the Yoga Sutras are Yama and Niyama, which are “to-do” and “not to-do.”
So, certain behaviors that we should be doing that are harmonious with other people, harmonious with ourselves, harmonious with divinity and our environment and that generate a good energy, a positive energy that can help us to awaken.
Then there are actions to avoid, because when you do those types of actions, it is like throwing big rocks in a lake, and so of course, you have to wait for those effects to dissipate.
Under Yama we see:
I am going to point out that these are not just physical actions. It is really good to avoid physically being violent, to physically say the truth, not to steal, to be chaste: to conserve our sexual and vital energy as well, and not to be greedy, or jealous. But in our mind, we can also do that, in our heart.
So, I may be angry at my friend and I say: "Ok, well, I am catching myself. I can see this anger. I should not be violent. So, I am not going to punch my friend.” But in my mind, I am sitting there, criticizing my friend, and in my heart, am I hating my friend, this person who I should love, who I should feel compassion for?
It is not just to get caught in the physical actions. That is where we need to begin, checking out, “What I am doing with my physical actions, with my daily life?” But then, as we are working with self-observation and we are going into those deeper states and truly seeing ourselves, we will discover many states in ourselves that are unpleasant, that we do not like to see, that we do have hatred in our hearts even for our family members, or the people that we are supposed to love. There are moments when we truly hate them, when maybe we think we want to kill them. It is terrible, but we have those thoughts. We have those feelings, and we need to observe them. We need to become aware of them, meditate on them so that we can change, so, we can pray and get the help of divinity to become better people.
Because every time we are acting on it, we are fueling our envy: "Oh, I just hate that guy. I really hope he loses his job!” Every time we are feeding our energy into those types of thinking, in that type of emotion, we are creating more disharmony in ourselves, and more unhappiness. We cannot be calm, and we cannot be able to experience higher states, higher emotional states of compassion and truth, love, and serenity. We cannot feel that as long as we pour our energy into those negative states.
Here in the other column we have Niyama:
Saucha: freedom from egotistical desire, desire of I want and I do not care who has to suffer for me to get what I want.
Comment: Or wanting to be on top!
Instructor: Yes, entitlement as well. So we need to let that go, to not be so consumed with "I wish that reality was a different way! I wish that my life was a different way! I wish these people treated me differently than how they are treating me!" Because that is making us very unhappy. We need to learn to accept reality, and to let go of our own egotistical wishes to change everything because that is a cause of our misery.
We talked about Noble Truths of Buddhism and that suffering is caused by desire. So, if we want to stop suffering, we have to let that go. We need to have contentment with what one has.
Also, work with austerities or spiritual practices, so we can begin with prayer and meditation. Or as I mentioned, self-observation. We have many other spiritual practices, in this tradition that we can work with as well.
Study of scriptures and continual remembrance of God. There is that light that we need. To nourish our soul, to awaken.
By continually remembering God, we can avoid actions that we do not feel are truly ethical. Because if we really remember in each moment, divinity is here in my heart, in this temple, then, how can you continue to be cruel to your neighbor, and to hate the people around you? To be filled with all kinds of defects. You want to change. You feel remorse.
You can test this. I have had many times in my life where, rather than trying to change an unpleasant situation, I just start tried to change myself. So, I will be honest with you, guys: I have had a bad attitude about many jobs that I had in the past. Realizing like, as I said, that there is a cycle there. I am going to work with this attitude: "Oh, these coworkers are going to annoy me, and my boss is going to be a jerk! I am going to have these problems with customers!” And so, rather than trying to always run from one job to the next job, to the next job, and finding ourselves again in an unhappy situation, in our new job…
Comment: It follows you everywhere you go!
Instructor: Your problems follow you exactly.
Because the problem, most of time, is with you, not with your external circumstances!―even if the external circumstances are very bad. I mean, some people have very difficult lives, very challenging external circumstances. Sometimes the only thing that we have control over and power to change is ourselves.
I work with this, and I try really hard: "Oh, I am catching myself. I am not going to lie, even though right now my boss may be mad at me if I tell the truth. I am going to catch myself,” and forcing myself to do it. It is difficult. It is a challenging work. But if you put it into motion and test it out, you will see the results and you are going to see in your meditation and your practices as well, then you will have that faith from your own experience that putting ethics in motion really work, and really helps you to awaken and decreases your suffering. It puts you in harmony with the people around you and harmony with yourself. Then, you do not need anybody warding over you or telling you what to do.
You want to do what is right because you know that it brings is your happiness. You see the link there between cause and effect. But, because most of time we are totally, psychologically asleep, and we are not aware about what we are doing, or what effects are coming from what we are doing, then we go around with an attitude of entitlement. "Oh, why are not things the way I want them to be?" And we do not accept responsibility. And we do not see that we are putting the very causes into motion.
Comment: Yes, doing things my way instead of your way.
Instructor: Yes. We do not see that our own thinking is flawed. That we think that reality should succumb to our will, our wishes. And our ideas about reality, rather than being conscious of: "OK, reality functions on a basis of cause and effect, and it is found by working putting the right causes in motion, then there is no way I am going to have positive effects.”
You go around and you hate people, and you are mean to people, and you lie, steal, murder, cheat, and all of those things, you are going to have an unhappy life.
But, sometimes we do one good thing, and then we feel: “Well, how come I did one good thing, and I am not getting all these results?” We ignore that the other ninety-nine percent of the time we are doing a lot of harmful things.
We need to be really sincere with ourselves―a radical kind of sincerity with ourselves. Moment to moment, what kind of causes am I putting into effect? Slowly, tip the scale back, so, that you are putting more positive actions into place: turning the other cheek. I mean, do not endure abuse. Have common sense, but if somebody insults you, not getting into a huge fight with them, forgiving them, having compassion. Maybe they are having a really bad day. Whatever the situation may be, putting positive causes into motion every moment, and we then gradually start to see the effects.
And so, another quote from Galatians, in the Bible:
Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. ―Galatians 6:7
Instructor: Yes. It is karma. Cause and effect. Karma means action and consequence, cause and effect.
So, sometimes we think we can trick God into having mercy on us: “I’ll just wait and I am on my deathbed and then I’ll beg for forgiveness and I will just be fine!”
Comment: The problem is, you never know when you are going to die! You can get killed in a second in a car accident…
Instructor: Exactly! And we do not know how much time we have. That each moment in life is valuable. And God is always watching you, even if you forget God, he does not forget you.
Divinity is very alive, very intelligent. That the law of action and consequence is an intelligent law. It is not mechanical. Laws of nature might be mechanical, but the superior laws, the laws of divinity, are laws that have a balance of severity and mercy.
If you are acting in ways that you know in your consciousness that are wrong, that law is going to be severe on you for your own good, so that you see that you need to listen to your heart, your inner divinity, to do what is right. But if you express sincere remorse, if you want to change, if you want to become a better person for your own benefit and also for the benefit of everyone around you, then the law of mercy can help you, can elevate you into those higher states that we saw in the Tree of Life.
We do not want to be like the Pharisee, going around and telling everybody: "Look how great I am! I am such a poor person! I am so noble. I do all of these great things"―and then in our own mind be full of impurity, be full hatred, be full of envy, and greed and lust.
We want to really be sincere with ourselves and humble to see ourselves as we are.
There is another quote from the Bible, one of my favorites, from the first book of Samuel that says:
For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart. ―1 Samuel 16:7
When we look in ourselves, we take such good care of our appearance how I am going to look? How are people going to perceive us? What kind of job do I have? What kind of car do I drive? These types of outward things. When we are really working spiritually, we want to develop our own spiritual growth, our own soul, we need to look on our heart, the way that God does, to weigh our heart in a scale and to see, “I really used today wisely,” that “I really used today in a way that I feel good about," that “I feel that I was trying to become a better person.”
In the beginning, it is not to strive for perfection, that is unrealistic, but to just to be sincere, “Did I take the next step that I was able to take?” Sometimes we see things that we didn’t, that we missed opportunities. That is OK, as long as we are learning from them and we are trying to change, asking for help from our inner divinity to be able to change.
That is gradually working with self-observation, working with meditation, seeing these things in ourselves, and being sincere, that we can begin to ascend into higher states of consciousness and come out of those states of suffering, and even have experiences directly with divinity.
The Four Principles of Karma
When we work with action and consequence, with this law of karma, there are four rules that we should remember and keep in mind [as taught by Tsong Khapa in Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment].
The first is that:
1. Action produces related consequences.
So, it means that whatever you are doing is going to have a consequence. There is no action that is not going to produce a consequence. To not think as some people do, to not fool ourselves as: "Oh, I can cheat and get my way through this! And nobody will find out. None of this will have a consequence."
Even if you are lucky and you get away with whatever it was that you did, physically, internally you did not get away with that―and internally, in your own conscience, know, you are going to think less of yourself as a person for having done that.
But the thing is not only physical consequences, but they also have emotional consequences, energetic consequences. Consequences in our mind.
I gave the example of lying. Lying does not just have the consequence of hurting the people that you lie to. It also imbalances your mind. It creates disharmony and confusion in your own mind.
If you really work to tell the truth from moment to moment, you begin to see how much clearer your mind becomes.
The second rule is that:
2. The consequences are greater than the actions.
You might say one word, just one word, even if it is a hateful word. It is cruel word. It is a loving word. The effects of that word can be much greater. We see them in people that have written a book. Or somebody tweets a wrong thing. Twitter is pretty popular right now. So, somebody just tweets the wrong thing and the consequences can be enormous, that they can lose their job. They can lose their entire reputation, in an instant, right?
Being aware that the consequences are greater than the actions is important. It is not to delude ourselves: "Oh, this is just a little thing!” But you know that little things are going to produce much greater consequences.
This can work in our favor. When we work with positive actions, when we work with ethical actions, sacrifice for others, compassion, good behaviors, virtuous deeds, then the consequences as well are great. We will be rewarded in our work, in our life. People will like you more if you are kind to them. (I don’t know guys if you have figured that out). Usually, if you are jerk to people, they are not going to be nice to you. They are not going to want to work with you. If you are kind to people, then you can get along better with people.
Comment: Then they can get cooperation from you.
Instructor: Right, and people will want to cooperate with you because you are a nice person. Even on a superficial level, we can see that, that the actions have effects. But when we are talking in a more profound level, on the spiritual effects of our life, then this becomes even more important to us.
How am I using my emotions, my mind?
Am I using them in a way that is in accordance with what God wants from me?―you know, with this loving neighbor, loving God―or am I using them to hurt people? This stuff that we should not be doing.
The third rule is that:
3. You cannot receive the consequence without committing its correspondent action.
If you want to experience higher dimensions, or heavenly dimensions, talking with divinity or angels, you can expect that if you have committed the actions that allow that to happen, since nothing is given for free.
You sacrifice and you help others, you perform virtuous deeds, you do in your daily life what your own conscience your inner divinity is guiding you to do, then you will be able to have those higher mystical experiences. But you cannot just expect to go with the flow and continue on in bad behaviors and then suddenly your life changes in an instant. We may have a fantasy about that, but that cannot happen, unless we begin to work.
4. Once an action is performed, the consequences cannot be erased.
After you said some really cruel thing to someone that you love, you cannot ever take it away. That is an example of this.
However [There is a fifth principle of karma that has not been taught until the writings of Samael Aun Weor]:
5. A superior law always overcomes an inferior one.
So, if are sincerely remorseful, you may be able to go and apologize to that person and they may forgive you.
Comment: And then maybe the law of mercy will want to take over instead.
Instructor: In that merciful exchange, you might be able to repair the damage from the bad behavior, but you can’t erase the consequences of actions that have put in motion. However, we work with superior laws here. We work with the law of sacrifice, of doing kind things for others without expecting anything in return. That is what Jesus has modeled for us. He gave everything with his life―a beautiful, a perfect example of love as sacrifice.
If in our own little way, in our own interactions with others, our daily life, our work, whatever our situation may be, if we are working to turn that into a service, to do good for others―not because we want everybody to like us, and to praise us and think we are great, but just genuinely out of love for others―we can overcome our defects. We can overcome the consequences of the mistakes we have made, because we sometimes, being very much asleep, just say stupid things, which can be discouraging to see in ourselves, but as long as you are conscious, you are trying to use that to do good things.
The effects can be more powerful. We have talked before when we do things consciously, whether positive or negative, the effects of those actions are going to be more powerful. So, we want to make sure that we are awakening consciousness, conserving our energy, putting positive, virtuous, harmonious actions into motion so that we have positive effects.
The Training and Work of Initiation
Finally, we are going to finish with a long quote from Dion Fortune. In many esoteric schools, they talk about initiates and imitates are people who enter into the mysteries of divinity, the secret teachings.
Now, in this tradition, many secret teachings are openly taught, so we do not have to wait other person to come and to initiate us. But we ourselves are the initiators. We ourselves have to take these teachings in our own daily lives, in our own spiritual practice and work with them. So then we are able to enter into higher aspects of consciousness, in our own meditation, in our own experience.
We have to initiate something new, create new circumstances for ourselves by working with our own consciousness. When the consciousness is free, when the mind is free of conditioning, when the will is free of conditioning, then we have freedom in our life to see things in a totally new way, to make choices. As long as we are caught in that, the cycle repetition, sleeping mechanical consciousness, then we do not have any power to change.
As we start to wake up, we have to master equanimity and equilibrium in our circumstances, because life is going to bring hard, challenging circumstances in your way. Many of us are experiencing this right now. We are here in these type of studies is because we are suffering, and because we are trying to find a way that transcends the suffering. In order to do that, first we have to begin by accepting suffering, not in a way that is passive or complicit with evil, but in a way of the integrity of the soul.
In this quote Dion Fortune says:
The initiate may accept his lot with a calmness which amazes men whose impulse it is to curse or pray according to their nature, but his acceptance does not necessarily imply passivity. To accept one's fate without murmuring does not pledge one to make no effort to better it. Knowing the power of concentrated thought, the initiate makes use of it in all the problems of life (that concentrated thought is our conscious awareness). His method, however, is not that of direct attack in which he "wills" the change of the unpleasant condition, but is directed to bring about certain changes in his own consciousness, for he knows that it is his own temperament which is the real instrument of karma. It is only through those factors in his own nature which react that karma can affect him. He knows that certain conditions come to him in order that they may provoke certain reactions in his own nature, and according to his handling of these reactions will be his karma, even in the present life. When he has harmonised these reactions, he has worked out his karma. ―Dion Fortune, The Training and Work of an Initiate
If we break that down a little bit, it is everything that we have been talking about. It is about establishing a really deep sincerity, a deep ethic in yourself then no matter what everybody does you, you are going to be a good person. You are going to be a person that can feel dignity with yourself, integrity, because you know you try to do what is right, by your own conscience.
No matter what circumstances throws at you, your reactions to the circumstances is going to determine what happens next. So, if you respond positively, with virtuous actions, sacrificing and helping others, then your life can slowly, gradually ascend into better circumstances. If you respond to life with negativity and make things worse, getting into arguments with people, hurt people, then little by little you are going to increase your problems, and descend to lower states of being.
So, she goes on talking about the initiate:
He knows, therefore that although he cannot determine the conditions under which his life must be lived, he can determine his reaction to those conditions. It is this fact which he bears constantly in mind in all his dealings. It is this realisation which enables him to raise his head above a sea of troubles and view them from the standpoint of cosmic law and spiritual principles. Although he cannot command the conditions to which he awakens from the sleep of birth, he is nevertheless the master of his fate, for he can manipulate those conditions in such a way that they shall bear him whithersoever he will, just as a ship can tack against a head-wind; and the worse the conditions and the stronger the wind, the swifter his progress. ―Dion Fortune, The Training and Work of an Initiate
In this teaching we are trying to transform our life by using it in a superior way, by using life as a school for our spiritual development. That is very different from a common mindset: "Oh, well, I can’t control anything in life! Life just happens to me,” and so. “No, if life is terrible, there is nothing that I can do about that. I do not have any power to make it better!"
We accept responsibility for our life, and we work with higher principles, with spiritual principles, not with the laws, the worldly, common sense of average people. When we are working with the spiritual laws and with that by working with our own consciousness, we realize that the worse the conditions of life, the better for us. Because we are able to define ourselves, to develop ourselves, to see new things about ourselves, to become stronger in our own soul.
The soul is like a warrior, and as a soul, without any battles, cannot train, cannot develop itself. Then look at the ultimate example of this: Jesus Christ, right? Or we can look at saints or buddhas. People who endured terrible persecution, and Jesus was crucified.
If that is our ultimate goal, if someday we would like to gradually ascend towards becoming better people, with equanimity, truly spiritual types of people that can endure suffering and still love others, still have great compassion and serenity with our circumstances, then we have to begin by looking at our own life and in our ability to tolerate the little unpleasant things in our life.
If Jesus could handle being crucified, can I take an insult from our neighbor and respond with love? And that is where we have to begin. Little things that right now in our life are training us so that we come to handle bigger things.
So, there is one more quote I am going to end with by Dion Fortune:
The discipline of the path cannot be learned from books. It is experience alone which brings realization. Let us therefore accept our karma as the first initiation. Let us strive for a mastery of ourselves in our circumstances which shall give us serenity under all conditions. What cannot be cured must be endured. This is the first lesson which karma teaches us. The adept is a man of unruffled serenity. For he is a man of perfect self-control. Let us strive for mastery of the inner astral kingdom of the emotions (having serenity of the emotions); once we have acquired this, we have the key of the astral plane in our hands ready for the time when the initiator shall bring us to the door. ―Dion Fortune, The Training and Work of the Initiate
So, if we seek those higher experiences, we need to establish the causes here in our own emotional states of being, our mind, our heart, our body. So that we’re ready, that when the moment comes, we’re given key to enter into higher states of being, we have the necessary preparation.
So every time we meet here together, we talk about gnosis. What is gnosis? It is experiential knowledge, knowledge of divinity, but knowledge of divinity that begins with ourselves.
Consciousness, ego and personality are three elements of ourselves that we can understand. And if we start with the basis of understanding this, then we gradually work into an understanding of which part of ourselves is the most divine, and how we can strengthen that part.
Now, because this is a path of self-knowledge, we have been working with the practice of self-observation. Before we seek to understand beings that we cannot see, other dimensions, those types of mystical experiences, we seek to just understand our reality. So with self-observation, we have begun by looking at our three brains. We talked before last time about how the three brains are three energetic centers.
The body is like a machine that can receive all types of information. We can receive motor, instinctive, and sexual impulses in our body, and that is controlled by the motor-instinctive-sexual brain.
We can receive emotional sensations, things that we process usually in the middle region of our body. We can feel anger in our gut, or love, warmth in our chest. And that can be divided into superior or inferior emotions. All of us have emotional states that are very pleasant and happy, serenity, but most of the time, unfortunately, we are stuck in emotional states that are states of suffering, anger, depression, misery. So we can use the emotional center in two different ways, in a superior way or inferior way, depending on what we are resonating with.
In the same way, the third center we talked about, the intellectual brain, which corresponds with the physical brain, up here in our head, can be divided into superior thoughts or inferior thoughts. Superior thoughts might be inspired works of genius, inventive types of creative thoughts, totally free from repetition and conditioning, while inferior thoughts might be of a more egotistical nature, selfish and repetitive.
If you have been working with self-observation, and observing not only external events but also your internal states of being, you might have noticed that the majority of our life is spent repeating thoughts that we have already thought, emotions that we have already felt before, actions and habits that we have already done, that life becomes a bit like a routine. And we don’t know how to escape this. Even if we are stuck in habits and emotions and thoughts that do not necessarily bring us any joy, we don’t know how we are supposed to step out of that.
We talked about how gnosis, self-knowledge, is the fourth path, the path of equilibrium, the path of awakening consciousness. Consciousness is separate from thoughts, separate from emotions, and separate from our instincts, impulses and body. Although consciousness gives us the chance to perceive all of those different types of sensations that we experience, that are a part of our life, we can awaken our consciousness separate from those sensations when we are in psychological equilibrium.
So we talked last time about looking at our lives, looking at if we are living in an imbalanced way, if there are times when we become too intellectual, getting carried away in theories and ideas. Times when we become too emotional, getting attached to sensations and emotional stimuli, dramas on TV, those kind of things, and not really thinking things through, not really putting things into practice. Or finally, we might be imbalanced in that we are a person that is always on the go or has a lot of instinctual habits, really identified with our physical body, but we’re not really thinking things through. We don’t have a lot of emotional depth.
By identifying that and working to correct our own imbalances, we can begin to activate a state of conscious awareness. We can begin to self-observe ourselves in a new way.
Perception of Reality
So if you’ve been working with that practice over the last few weeks, then this question might be something that you are looking at in a new way. Do we perceive reality?
So most of us are going to assume, “Well, yeah, I’m not hallucinating. I see the room around me, and that’s reality, right?” But we want to go a little bit deeper than a superficial understanding of this question.
When working with practices to understand not just the external world and our habits and life the way that we usually understand it, but to perceive life in a more profound way, in a spiritual way, then we need to question reality, because is it reality, or is it our perception of reality?
To give you an example of this, pretty common, that most of us have had a first impression of somebody that was really great, and we thought that they were an amazing person, and then later on we found out that maybe they weren’t such a nice person after all. Or conversely, maybe somebody rubs you the wrong way, maybe the first time you meet, you think this guy is going to be a jerk, but then not so long later, you realize they are a pretty good person. Maybe they become one of your best friends.
So what is it there that tricks us? Why is it that we think we are perceiving the reality of someone or situation, but later on time proves that we actually haven’t seen it as it was?
A really poignant example of this is a betrayal. So all of us at one point in our life have been lied to, or betrayed by someone we trusted, and that can be a very traumatic experience for the soul. Because in an instant, you realize that someone you thought you trusted, you thought you knew, you thought you had a good understanding of their character, has said or done something that contradicts everything that you believe. You might go deeper into a state of doubt, questioning not only your relationship with that person but questioning yourself and what you did wrong, what you didn’t see to get yourself in that position. Questioning: is it just this one person that I didn’t understand, or is it all types of people that I don’t understand? Do I even have a grasp of life?
The doubt can be very distressing, but it is very important, because it shows the fundamental truth of our situation, which is that we are not really very cognizant of reality. We are actually in a state where we should feel a little bit of distress, because we need to figure out: “What is it that I am not seeing? And how do I move into that place where I can begin to see things as they are? So I don’t continue to follow an unconscious assumption about life and about people and about myself that puts me into a state of greater suffering.”
But most of the time after something like this happens, the pain is too great. So we run away from that doubt. We run away from ourselves. We push it down. We blame the other person or we get distracted with something else. Sometimes we run directly into the same situation with someone new and we end up repeating and continuing our suffering rather than learning from it.
Now with practices like self-observation and meditation, we are able to begin breaking that cycle. We are able to begin to understand what it was that we missed, that we didn’t perceive, to understand ourselves in a new way, and to step beyond our wrong assumption of reality into a better understanding of reality.
So the first of the three elements of ourselves we are going to look at today, that will help us to be comprehend reality, is consciousness. Now consciousness as commonly defined is “the quality or state of being aware and having mental faculties not dulled by sleep, faintness or stupor.” So that is, if you’re the boxer in the ring and you get knocked unconscious, then you wake back up and you are conscious again. You know, very simple, superficial understanding of what consciousness is, but we are seeking again to go deeper.
That consciousness is not just being physically awake or physically asleep. But most of the time, in an esoteric understanding of consciousness, we are asleep. We are not perceiving things as they are, but rather we are going through the motions of things only half aware of what’s happening, repeating our habits, repeating our routines, but not really being awake, not really perceiving the situation as it is.
So in Gnosticism, we define consciousness as the root of our perception of all phenomena. So as I mentioned earlier, consciousness is beyond our mind, beyond our thoughts, beyond our heart, beyond our emotions, beyond our body. It is through consciousness that we can perceive physical sensations and emotional sensations and intellectual thoughts, but consciousness is distinct from them.
When we really begin to work with consciousness, in an awakened way, we begin to strengthen that inner energy within ourselves. Consciousness is also understood as the Essence of the human soul. So an Essence is a synthesis, a seed of something. And in our tradition, we talk about how by working with consciousness by activating and awakening consciousness, we begin to develop the soul, to develop what is within us in a new way.
So one way to test our consciousness right now is: are you aware of your thumb on your right hand? Now you are, but you weren’t just a few minutes ago, maybe? Yeah! Right, well, and that is a good point. A lot of time our attention is focused on everything else that is going on. We are perceiving a very narrow bit of whatever is happening in the room. Right, so if we want to work with consciousness, to become more conscious, then we need to be always working to become more aware, to expand our consciousness in every moment.
Just like a muscle, the more that you use it, the more that you are able to perceive. However, if we are never working with consciousness, we are only perceiving a sliver of reality. In fact, we estimate that only about 3% of our consciousness is actually active. Whereas, if you looked at someone like a Buddha, who is totally awake and enlightened, you know they can perceive everything around them, everything within them, multiple dimensions of reality. That’s the ultimate goal we are striving for in our spiritual work, is to become awake, to be able to perceive things as they truly are, not just to perceive a narrow or a filtered view of reality.
From moment to moment, we can begin with a practice of just being aware of our body. It’s a great way to ground yourself. You know all the time we are walking around in our body, we are doing all kinds of things, but we are never aware of breathing or the way our eyes move around to look at things, right? Until suddenly we trip over something or we have this terrible pain in our back, then we are aware of our physical body. That is a good place to start, but, of course, with Gnosticism, we are seeking to go a little bit deeper even with that. We are seeking to become aware of the inner parts of our self, seeking to become aware of consciousness itself, our inner psychology, so we gain that self-knowledge.
But there is one barrier to becoming conscious, and that barrier is what we call ego. A common definition for ego is the self. In fact, the word is Latin for “I,” as in “me.” And another common definition we have for ego is an exaggerated sense of self-importance. So we can think of this with celebrities, right? They might walk into a room and demand certain things that other people wouldn’t ask for, that they might have a sense of themselves, that they are larger than life, even if physically we realize they have a physical body just like us. There might not actually be a physical difference in that person.
If you put them alone in the desert all by themselves, you know that sense of self isn’t going to save them, right? And yet we see that they have that exaggerated sense of self-importance. It might irritate us, in fact, that they move through life in that kind of way.
Now the trick is that all of us have that, not just celebrities, but we don’t catch it in ourselves as much because we haven’t trained ourselves to look for it. One of the fundamental practices of the gnostic is to train yourself to catch when your ego is getting carried away.
So in Gnosticism, the ego is a false self which filters our perception. It can also refer to a compilation of all kinds of egotistical desires that give us a sense of self.
We might, for example, be somebody that really loves hamburgers, and so that is a sense of “my identity.” “I love hamburgers and I might drive two hours just to be able to get the best kind of hamburger that I want.” So I am feeding a false self. The truth is that if I never saw a hamburger again, I would not die. I would be able to survive just fine. But because I have developed this sense of identity attached with that sensation of eating a hamburger, then it seems really real to me and I will do all kinds of crazy things just to get what I want.
This is a silly example―right?―hamburgers, but we can think about it with ourselves. How much do we do, how much do we sacrifice, to have a job that we believe other people will respect? Or to drive a car or have clothes that show a certain sense of self? How much do we do to feed our own addictions, and I don’t just mean drugs and alcohol, but addictions to different kinds of sensations, like our emotional addictions to drama. How many hours might we spend watching dramatic television shows?
Yet all of that is kind of a construction in our own mind. It does not have much to do with reality. It’s a sense of self that we feed and we make real, a psychological sense of our self-image that we believe very much is real. We will argue with people to the death, sometimes, to defend our sense of pride, but physically does not actually have a reality, does not have much to do with just the regular physical sensations of our bodies. It is exaggerated.
Now there’s actually a study that is going on at Ohio State University’s medical center where they talk about mind-wandering. So if we think about the consciousness, pure and free from any egotistical self-interference, that is what they would call in their study, it is a neuroscientific study, they would call it “on-task thinking.” So they are able to see in the brain that the brain exhibits different activity when we are in on-task thinking. That is when you are perceiving something just as it is, without any thoughts. You are just totally awake and you are there.
In addition to that, there are two levels of mind-wandering. So when you are perceiving something, let us say you are sitting in a class and you are perceiving something. The professor is going to talk about some problems that are going to be on the next test, and then you start to have your own commentary about it. That is the first level of mind-wandering. That is a performance based mind-wandering. You might be thinking, “Oh no, he just said that and I missed what he said, and am I going get that wrong on the next test?” You are still half aware of what is going on, but there is this other level of being concerned about your own performance. So it can be when you are listening to somebody talk and in your mind, you are disagreeing with everything they say. Then that can be the first level of mind-wandering.
And then a deeper level of mind-wandering is when we are just totally somewhere else. You know we are sitting there in that class and we are thinking about how we need to get to the grocery store to pick up the ingredients for enchiladas, so when we get home we are going to cook dinner. We are totally not there at all.
One of the studies that actually came out of Harvard about mind-wandering found that over 50% of our lives we are mind-wandering. Now you can measure that in the brain, a different activity pattern in the brain. But that people who engage in mind-wandering less are actually happier than people who engage in more mind-wandering. I bring up this example because a lot of the time we are thinking about the things that we want. We are fantasizing about that hamburger, right? We are not just perceiving the situation as it is. We are not just perceiving the painting of the flowers for what it is, but we are perceiving with our own filter of, “Well, I don’t really like the colors that they chose here.” Or, “Ooh, I really like the paint choice of that.” We are always bringing ourselves into situations rather than perceiving them with that pure consciousness, bright and awake. So before we say that is good or bad, it is just something to be aware of in ourselves, something that we want to observe.
The other element that we want to be able to observe and distinguish from ego and from consciousness is our personality.
We talked last time about how most of us believe who we are, is our identity in the world. You know, “My name, my age, my race, my culture, my job, my family,” that we believe all of those things are “who I am,” and we live our lives investing a lot of time into those things.
Commonly defined, the personality is “the totality of an individual’s behavioral and emotional characteristics.” And in psychology, we study personality as something that is relatively stable over time, that someone has a certain characteristic and that is just who they are and they are not going to change very much. So you will hear people who will maybe do something that really irritates other people. They will always defend it and say, “Well, that is just who I am. You need to accept me for who I am!” And sometimes the personality can become egotistical in that way. We can use different traits of our identity in the world to strengthen a sense of self, to make ourselves feel more real.
When we look at personality in an esoteric way, we look at the root of personality, which is persona, in Latin meaning “mask.” And in Gnosticism, we consider the personality as just a mask, that it is not the truth of our identity, but rather one superficial part of our identity.
Personality is neither good nor bad, but it is the way in which we can interact in the world. So we can look at is as an interface with the external world, which allows us to communicate and function in a particular time period and location. So if you had the personality of someone from ancient China, you would never fit in here. You would not eat the same things. You would not wear the same clothing. You would not speak the same language. You would not have the same customs. It would be very hard for you to fit in the world.
So we need a personality. We need these characteristics we inherit from our family, we inherit from our culture, from society and education, in order to be able to survive in the world. But, are we able to also look a little bit deeper into what is going on behind the personality? What is driving the personality?
When we are moving through the world, it is not just the interface that is acting, but it is our own conscious energy, our own psychology, that is expressing through that. When you are feeling very kind towards someone and acting towards them in a very loving way, you might be using the same language, the same mannerisms, to be able to communicate with that person. But it is a very different experience than when a few days later, you are furious with that person and you are shouting at them. You see there that distinction? The personality is the same. It allows us to connect with other people. But who do we have driving the car? That is the question.
I would like to quote from Gurdjieff, something he said about personality and about our own inner self, the deeper psychological self that we are seeking to study here with esoteric knowledge. Gurdjieff says:
We have nothing of our own; everything that we put in our pocket is not our own―and on the inside, we have nothing. ―Gurdjieff, Views from the Real World
So we do not want to find ourselves in that situation, where we have lots of material possessions. Everything that we put in our pocket, or even psychologically, we have a sense of self that has been given to us, a name that has been given to us, an identity prescribed to us by the world, but internally we have nothing of ourselves. We have nothing of our soul, nothing that carries on, as we mentioned last time, that carries on after death.
We want to develop our soul, that Essence, that seed, into something that is strong and vibrant, shining with a lot of conscious awareness. So that when we come to the end of our life and we have to give up our status, we have to give up our reputation, our wealth, our possessions, even our physical body, there is something that survives, right?
So this is our situation as we are. We can look at ourselves. This is just a conceptualization, a framework by which we can look at ourselves and examine ourselves. But where did it come from? Have we always had a consciousness? Have we always had an ego? And have we always had a personality?
If we think back to childhood, the early years of childhood, there was something different there. Unfortunately, this is starting to change now a days. Children are much less happy, but for most of us we can recall those first years of our life were very happy, were characterized by a state of bliss. We were free from the types of worries that we have now. I have a four year old niece and the way that she goes and interacts with toys and games, she is totally bright and present. There’s a lot of pure consciousness there. But unfortunately as we start to get older, as we enter school, and then later on as we enter into puberty and different psychological stages of development, in which we become very self-conscious and very aware of ourselves, all of that begins to change.
The sense of self that we have becomes more developed, becomes stronger, and we are no longer able to just perceive life the way that a child does. Now, it is true that children do not have the intellectual understanding of life that adults have, but they do have a very awakened perception of life that is something we lose sight of.
Many times we become distracted. We have all those wrong ideas of life, all those perceptions of life, that we mentioned earlier, that end up actually not being a perception of reality. And so we have lost something that the child has that we can reclaim by working on our own psychology.
The founder of the Gnostic movement is Samael Aun Weor, and he gave us this quote in his book about the Fundamentals of Gnostic Education. He wrote:
The revolutionary psychology of the Gnostic movements, in a clear and precise manner, makes an in-depth distinction between the ego and the Essence [consciousness]. Only the beauty of the Essence manifests through the child during the first three or four years of life. Then, the child is tender, sweet, and beautiful in all his psychological aspects. However, when the ego begins to control the tender personality of the child, then all the beauty of the Essence begins to disappear and the characteristic psychological defects of every human being bloom in its place. ―Samael Aun Weor, Fundamentals of Gnostic Education
So we see that at a certain age, children start to throw temper tantrums. And what are those tantrums about? They want their way. They didn’t get what they wanted. “Billy is playing with a toy and I want the toy. And so I am going to scream and have a fit and become miserable about the toy.” As adults we might smile at this, “Oh, that’s so silly that he is so upset about this toy when we know that twenty minutes from now he is going to be completely thinking about something else and will have completely forgotten about the toy. So why is he investing all this energy, crying and screaming and getting so upset about, it when it is not a big deal?”
But, we do the same thing when it comes to our money, when it comes to our car. We get into a car accident. When it comes to losing something that has value to us, we will freak out. We will be in misery if a check gets lost in the mail. We lose it. We do not perceive ourselves in that same way. Perhaps this is something that, yeah, is going to be inconvenient for us, it is going to be causing a little bit of time or effort or energy for us. But in the long run of things, is it really worth becoming so upset? Becoming so frustrated about it?
The Four Noble Truths
In part of Buddhism, they talk about the Four Noble Truths. Has anybody heard of those before?
The first is that life is suffering.
The second is that suffering is caused by desire, selfish desire, the false sense of self that we are talking about here. That “I want,” “I want reality to be a certain way that I want it to be, and if it is not that way then I am going to suffer and be miserable about it. And I will make everyone else miserable too.”
But the third is that there is a way to cease suffering.
And then the fourth is that the way to cease suffering is the eightfold path.
We talk a lot about Buddhism in the Gnostic studies, not in this particular topic that we are talking about today, but Gnosticism is on that same foundation. We invest a lot of energy in a false sense of self that is actually creating our misery. We think, “When I get that promotion then I’m going to be happy.” We desire that promotion and we work really hard. And maybe sometimes we are lucky and we get the promotion. But then we are not happy because we want something else. We want the next promotion, or “I am not getting the same credit the guy next to me is getting, so I’m not happy.”
We do not see that it is our own sense of self-importance that has crated our unhappiness. The important thing is not to change our physical life. It is not to renounce promotions or cars or clothing, you know. It is not the point. The point is our psychological relationship to life, that with this exaggerated sense of self, we are walking around expecting life to conform to the way we think it should be. We are actually not allowing ourselves to see life as it is. We are not allowing ourselves to be content with whatever is the experience of life: to be in tune with the experience of life, whether its happy or sad, whether it is raining outside or sunny―to just accept life as it is and continue to be, to be present, as an Essence, as a consciousness, as a soul, that gets to experience all the variety of life in its many manifestations.
Samael Aun Weor said something else about personality and Essence, to distinguish that for us. He wrote that we should:
Understand: the human being is born with an Essence but not with a personality; thus, it is necessary to create the personality. Nevertheless, the personality and the Essence must be developed in a harmonious and balanced manner. [...] In the Essence, we have everything that we own; in the personality, we have everything that we borrowed. That is, in the Essence we have our innate qualities (our spiritual qualities, our soul), and in the personality we have the example of our elders, what we have learned at home, in school, and in the streets. ―Samael Aun Weor, Fundamentals of Gnostic Education
So we need both of these things. We need our personality. The personality gives us the chance to experience life and connect with others, to develop our soul through different types of experiences and learning. And we need the Essence, which allows us the conscious perception of those things.
We need the Essence to become active, because when the Essence is asleep we get into repetitive behaviors. We are just going around like a machine repeating everything by habit. When the Essence is awake, we are able to perceive life in a totally new way.
Is the Ego Really Necessary?
We need a personality and Essence that are developed in balance, but do we need an ego? Do we need a big sense of self?
I have a comparison here for you. You can think of somebody with a big ego like a talk show host or a radio host―or a sports celebrity or sports talk person. Those people who make a living off of having a big ego, exaggerate their personality. They become, maybe, extremely politically-opinionated or they are very aware of pop culture and everything that is going on with current events. They are able to use their personality in a way that is creating a strong persona, so that more people will listen to them. They find that entertaining. They love the types of jokes that that person always makes.
And so we look at a talk show host that has a lot of egotism and a big sense of self feeding that personality. But is there another side to the coin where we can have a different type of self behind the personality?
Solar or Divine Personalities
When we talk about great masters, when we talk about people like the Dalai Lama, or Leonardo de Vinci, or Buddha, or Jesus, we think of those people with what we term in Gnosticism as a solar personality, a personality that comes from the spirit within. So they are able to use the customs, the language, a physical cultural experience of life, but not to express a big sense of themselves, not to convince everybody that they are the smartest person and they know exactly what they are talking about and everybody should listen to them and follow them. They are able to just express divinity in a very bright, intelligent and pure way.
We can compare someone like that to a light bulb, in that the energy, the light of divinity, or the spirit within them, is very bright, and when they clean off all the grime on the glass, when they make their personality just that glass, that is pure of any egotistical filtering, then that light can shine more brightly.
You see a lot of power in those types of people. But it is not a power that tyrannizes others. It is not a power that oppresses or makes others feel less than. It is a power that people are drawn to because it is a natural power from God.
Balancing Essence and Personality
We mention that we need a balanced development, and I am going to read one more quote from Samael Aun Weor about that.
In practicality, we have been able to verify that when the personality is developed in an exaggerated manner at the expense of the Essence, the outcome is a swindler (so that’s a cheat or a charlatan). The observation and experience of many years have allowed us to comprehend that when the Essence is somehow developed without attending in the least to the harmonious cultivation of the personality, then the outcome is a mystic without intellect, without personality―of noble heart, but inadaptable and incapable. ―Samael Aun Weor, Fundamentals of Gnostic Education
So we talked last time about Fakirs, and I think Fakirs are a nice example here of the mystic without the personality developed. They might go off into the desert or into the woods and do all kinds of incredible feats of will power and renunciation, but are they able to come back into society and help others? Are they able to communicate? Do they have the skills necessary to be adaptable to different situations in life? They are developing a lot of Essence, their own Being, and that’s beautiful, but, unfortunately, it is a little bit out of balance.
In that first example, he is talking about a swindler, and we can think of con men, people that have that big personality, very charismatic, have a big sense of self, but do not have developed an ethical type of character. They do not have much consideration for their soul, for who they are inside, or for whom they hurt, so they do not have the ethics, the conscience of their actions.
We want a balance of both of these. We do not want to be too much a mystic without any ability to go and connect with others and to learn from life. But we do not want to be too much of someone invested in life and getting the most that we can squeeze out of it, hurting other people, without any development of the part of ourselves that is, hopefully, going to be immortal and survive after this life ends.
So Samael Aun Weor finished by saying:
The harmonious development of personality and Essence brings as an outcome brilliant men and women. ―Samael Aun Weor, Fundamentals of Gnostic Education
So when we think of people like Mozart, Beethoven or Leonardo Da Vinci , Michelangelo, we can see that those were people that had a craft in the world, that really developed that to the highest pitch, but were also able to bring some aspect from their own creative consciousness, within their own spiritual soul, into the world through it, and gave us great works of art. And that is what we are striving for.
There is another quote from Gurdjieff that I want to share. Gurdjieff talks about the Essence and he talks about the personality, but he calls them knowledge and being. So the Essence would be the Being, that is that child who is just there, totally present to what is going on, bright and attentive. That sense of just being, being aware. And the personality would be the knowledge that we gain from external life, what other people teach us, our education in school.
Gurdjieff says that:
People understand what "knowledge" means. And they understand the possibility of different levels of knowledge. They understand that knowledge may be lesser or greater, that is to say, of one quality or of another quality. But they do not understand this in relation to "being." "Being," for them, means simply "existence" to which is opposed just "non-existence." They do not understand that being or existence may be of very different levels and categories. ―Gurdjieff cited by P.D. Ouspensky, In Search of the Miraculous
So just in the way that we can go to school and we can develop our knowledge, our personality, we can learn a lot of things about the external world. We can develop the Being. We can develop our Essence, our soul. And that is what our spiritual practice is geared towards. He says that being or existence may be of different levels, but some people exist in a state of misery, that their being is very low and they are suffering a lot. It is hard to get out of that state.
There are other people who exist on a high level of being. We talked about very extreme examples of people like saints, or buddhas, that have a lot of being, that emanate love and happiness even when they are burned alive at the stake, or persecuted. Those people have a very elevated level of being to still express compassion. So how do we develop that?
It begins by working with first seeing ourselves through practices like self-observation and meditation, and little by little coming out of our state of suffering. If we cannot be happy in spite of our difficulties, then what is the use of our spiritual practice? We are coming to these studies because we want to change. We want to understand ourselves so that we know how to change. How do we receive the guidance of divinity within ourselves? Not from anybody outside of ourselves, but from within our own direct experience. So we do not have to rely on ideas or theories about the way that life is, what we have been taught in school, but that we know from our own heart, from our own soul, what life is, and how we can come out of our suffering, how we can change in those types of ways.
So how do we ascend to those higher levels of being? How do we develop ourselves consciously, spiritually?
The Purpose of Essence, Ego, and Personality
I am going to finish this lecture with a section about the purpose of these three elements. Now that we have come to look at consciousness, ego and personality, and distinguish them a bit, how do we make them useful for our own development?
Gnosis is the path to self-knowledge. Just in that way that during our last talk we began to gain some self-knowledge about our habits, our predisposition, are we an overly intellectual person? Are we an overly emotional type of person? An overly physical instinctive type of person? In the same way, we should gain self-knowledge. We should train ourselves to be able to observe these elements of our own psyche.
So we talked about the Essence, that is the seed of the human soul, and how it can be developed through conscious works and upright efforts. If we are not becoming aware of ourselves from moment to moment, if we are not strengthening that muscle of the consciousness, then we are never going to develop it. We are not going to become aware of anything more than the little sliver which we are habitually always perceiving of life.
We need to be sure to awaken ourselves in an upright way. So the more that we work with our conscious willpower, the greater the effects of our actions are going to be. We talked last time how if we are working with consciousness in an imbalanced way, strengthening our egotistical sense of self, or working with consciousness so that we can control other people and get them to do what we want them to do, then we are going to develop in an inharmonious way and we are actually going to increase our suffering.
When we are working in an ethical way, when we are seeking to bring ourselves out of suffering, to not cause suffering for others, to awaken in that way, through upright efforts, then we are strengthening the soul free of any ego. The ego is the false self, can be considered as an inner adversary, because it is trapping us in the conditioning of believing “I want this. I need to get this.” And then when we spend years of our lives trying to get the certain job that we wanted so badly, and we are there and we are not happy anymore, then we are stuck with this exaggerated sense of self and in a state of misery.
But how do we become conscious? We do what we need to do to survive. We go to work, we take care of our families, do those things, but without a big egotistical attachment to it.
We also talk in this tradition about how the ego actually is a result of past error from past lives. So this is a tradition that believes in reincarnation and teaches reincarnation, and that is a lot of our predispositions, that we think “That is just naturally who I am,” can actually be a result of past errors in past lives.
We will talk more about it in another talk, but the way that we learn from ourselves is by accepting the ordeals that life brings us. Life brings us a variety of situations, and in those situations, which can be painful ordeals, we are able to begin to see ourselves as we are. We have a friend that is always talking down to us, really irritating us, activating our pride. That friend is actually giving us a chance to see an element of self. Now I am not saying, “Be friends with people who are abusive and really mean to you.” That is not the point. So do not go to extremes. But that in different situations in life, if we are humiliated or angered, or we are really wanting something very badly that we cannot have, we are able to see that self in a new way, especially if we are self-observing. And then if we are able to perceive that self in a deeper way, when we are meditating about what we have observed, we might be able to become free of it and be able to change.
Now I will use an example from my own life here in a moment, but I want to finish here about the personality being the mask to the external world. So we need the personality. It is not a bad thing. We need the personality to go through life and encounter those ordeals, so that we can learn about ourselves internally, and so we can learn about how to help other people. It is important. In an example to make this all a little more concrete for you, how do you actually work with self-observation and meditation to understand these types of things? I will give an example from a couple of years ago when I was first working with these types of practices.
I was in school and I had been assigned to a group project with two other people, two other students. We were randomly assigned a topic for our project. So we did not get to choose it. But I was glad about the topic because, you know, with my personality speaking here, it was something that I had many years of experience with and I really liked. The other two students in my group had no experience with it and did not really care for the topic. So I thought in this moment that I was going to be really helpful and volunteer to do the majority of the work. So I said, “You guys don’t worry about it too much, I’m going to do most of this. I know all about it, so you guys can just take it easy.” But as time went on and we were trying to work together, I realized that they were pretty irritated with me and they were shutting me out, doing parts of the project without doing that in a collaborative way.
So I began to be frustrated. My pride got hurt. I was like, “Why are these people being so hostile to me? I’m just trying to be helpful here!” Since I had been self-observing, after one of the meetings in which I felt they were treating me very coldly, I was meditating on it, because I choose to meditate especially on the things that are causing me suffering, trying to understand “Why am I suffering, and how do I make a change here?”
I had a strange experience in meditation. It was the first time it happened to me, where as I was just replaying the scene as it had happened, you know, as I observed it in a balanced way, with my three brains in equilibrium, suddenly I saw it from a completely different perspective, as though it was in third person, the way that those persons would have seen me. Now originally, in my egotistical perspective, I thought I was great. I was being helpful. I was just trying to do the right things for these people. But when I saw it from the perspective of another, in this experience of meditation, I saw a lot of pride, that I was being a know it all. I was not having any appreciation for the fact that even if they did not have years of experience with this topic, they might want to engage with the project. They might have opinions or insight or things that are valuable. I was not able to see that because of the egotistical filter at the time.
When I saw it in meditation, my experience of that situation totally changed. Rather than being angry at them and resentful that they were not treating me with respect, I was humbled. I felt terrible that I had not been appreciating what they were going to contribute to the project, and so from that point on, I changed. I gave them way more opportunities to share. I talked less about me and all the things I know. The project ended up going much better from that point. It went very well.
This might seem like a silly example, but it is just one small example of many things that we are doing throughout our life―many things that we have no awareness of how other people are seeing us. We walk into a room and we think everybody is seeing us in a certain way. We might walk in and think, “Oh, I am gonna sound so smart and everybody is gonna think I look so great!” Maybe, conversely, we walk into a room and think, “Everybody here is gonna hate me! Everybody’s looking down on me. Nobody here values me!” And none of that is reality. It is this false sense of who we are. It is an image of what we carry around within ourselves, of what we think other people think about us.
But authentic self-observation with the consciousness allows us to begin to perceive ourselves in a real way, especially when we are coupling that with meditation and what we have observed. We are able to go a lot deeper. And you know, because of this little change, this little story where I saw my pride, I was able to walk away from that. Then after I finished school and I got a new job, I was much more of a team player. I didn’t walk into every staff meeting talking and gloating about all the things that I knew and how I was the best person. I was able to appreciate what my colleagues have and to learn a lot from other people. If I had held on to that sense of pride I would not be able to learn.
And you know it is interesting that we see this a lot in other people. We all have that friend who is the one upper. “You went to NY last weekend? Well, I went to Paris, and I met with the Dalai Lama.” We know that person. We see that in other people and we know it is really irritating and we do not like it. We kind of roll our eyes, “Yeah, OK,” but why don’t we see that in ourselves? When we are in the lime light, when everyone is finally listening to us, we want to brag and get everybody to like us and think that we are great, maybe not in these exaggerated examples that I am giving, but in small ways, little ways.
We are not perceiving it most of the time, and we can see it in other people, because it shields us from seeing it in ourselves. We get frustrated and angry with other people. We project onto them and criticize their negative qualities because it is painful for us to see our own state. We need a really radical sense of sincerity and humility if we really want to be serious about achieving this type of self-knowledge in our own spiritual work.
Dolos, Prometheus, and Veritas (Truth)
So we can use myths in order to understand archetypes in ourselves. The Greek mysteries are very deep, and they give us a chance to understand psychological teachings. Sometimes people think that Greek myths are all about these gods in the past and pagan worship, and that they are literal figures. But if we use myths in a way to understand our own spiritual development and our own psychological processes, they can be very useful for us, here and now. Not in some ancient time, but here and now in our own psychological work.
The myth of Dolos, spirit of deception. In Greek mythology, Dolos is the spirit of trickery and guile. He is also a master at cunning, deception, craftiness and treachery. He was the son of Gaia and Ether. The name Dolos is translated as “deception.” Dolos was also an apprentice of the Titan Prometheus. Dolos became known for his skill when he attempted to make a fraudulent happy statue of Veritas, in order to trick people into thinking they were seeing the real statue. He ran out of the clay he was using to create the statue and had to leave the feet unfinished as he quaked in fear as his master Prometheus looked over at his attempt of deceitfulness. To his surprise, Prometheus was rather amazed at the similarity between the statues, so Dolos then became a master at his crafty and tricky ways. ―Excerpts from Wikipedia
The following account comes from Aesop’s Fables:
Prometheus, that potter who gave shape to our new generation, decided one day to sculpt the form of Veritas [Aletheia, Truth], using all his skill so that she would be able to regulate people’s behaviour. As he was working, an unexpected summons from mighty Jupiter [Zeus] called him away. Prometheus left cunning Dolos (Trickery) in charge of his workshop, Dolos had recently become one of the god’s apprentices. Fired by ambition, Dolos (Trickery) used the time at his disposal to fashion with his sly fingers a figure of the same size and appearance as Veritas [Aletheia, Truth] with identical features. When he had almost completed the piece, which was truly remarkable, he ran out of clay to use for her feet. The master returned, so Dolos (Trickery) quickly sat down in his seat, quaking with fear. Prometheus was amazed at the similarity of the two statues and wanted it to seem as if all the credit were due to his own skill. Therefore, he put both statues in the kiln and when they had been thoroughly baked, he infused them both with life: sacred Veritas (Truth) walked with measured steps, while her unfinished twin stood stuck in her tracks. That forgery, that product of subterfuge, thus acquired the name of Mendacium [Pseudologos, Falsehood], and I readily agree with people who say that she has no feet: every once in a while something that is false can start off successfully, but with time Veritas (Truth) is sure to prevail. ―Aesop, Fables 530 (from Phaedrus Appendix 5)
I want to talk more about this myth in our discussion so I’m going to break it down a little bit and then we will rap up and move into discussion.
So let us talk about some of the symbols in this myth. Hopefully you caught them. One of the main characters of the myth is Prometheus, who is actually teaching Dolos. Prometheus is a Greek word that means “forethought.” Prometheus is known for being a Titan that was very wise, who had the forethought of future things. He is credited with creating man from clay, like all of humankind he created. And he stole fire, the creative power of the gods, to give to mankind, so that mankind would be able to develop beyond the animals, so that mankind would be able to progress and create all kinds of feats and inventions and new ways.
The next character is Dolos. Dolos is the spirit of deception. Dolos actually means “deception.” And in the story he crafts a statue that is so well constructed that he almost fools his master, Prometheus. He is a trickster known in many other stories for being able to fool even the gods and get the gods to make mistakes. And when we look at these two statues, they are also very important. So, one statue is Veritas, the Truth. Veritas means “truth” actually.
Prometheus is this great archetype related with our consciousness, but actually, a much more elevated aspect of our own spirit and Being then we are going to get into today. When he creates Truth, he does it in order to create a form which can regulate human behavior. So we can think of Truth as an archetype for the soul that is something given to us spiritually, but that we have to develop. We have to give it life in order for it to guide us in living in a true way, perceiving reality in a true way, performing those upright actions.
The other statue, which is created by deception, his apprentice, is Pseudologos, which means “lie.” And that would be what we have been talking about, the false self. Our own self-deception fuels our own creative power into creating a false self that does not have any feet, spiritually speaking, does not get us anywhere. And in the end, when we have given our life to both statues, we will be able to see, like Prometheus does, which one can walk and which one doesn’t get anywhere.
When we continue to fuel the false self, we are stuck in our tracks. In the beginning, it looks really great. It might look the same even. That is the way it is with a lie. It starts off well, but then over time, the truth prevails. The truth comes out. We want to study our lives in a way where we can begin to discern between these two elements.
Now a little back story about Prometheus is that he had a brother. The brother’s name was Epimetheus, which means “hindsight.” Prometheus is an archetype of foresight and Epimetheus an archetype of hindsight, someone who learns from the past, is not able to predict what is going to happen next, is not able to act wisely and intelligently to take steps in a way that are positive. He is someone who makes lots of mistakes and has to learn from, unfortunately, the suffering from those mistakes. You can see a correlation there. In this myth of Prometheus, it says:
After the gods have moulded men and other living creatures with a mixture of clay and fire, the two brothers Epimetheus and Prometheus are called to complete the task and distribute among the newly born creatures all sorts of natural qualities. Epimetheus sets to work but, being unwise, distributes all the gifts of nature among the animals, leaving men naked and unprotected, unable to defend themselves and to survive in a hostile world. Prometheus then steals the fire of creative power from the workshop of Athena and Hephaistos and gives it to mankind. ―Olga Raggio, The Myth of Prometheus
So Epimetheus is a symbol here of our own lower qualities, our lower state of being. He is giving all of the best forces that we have, our life, our energy, to those qualities of anger, of pride, of envy, of greed. He is giving it to the animal nature that we have within. And because of that the human part of us, the highest archetypes, as what we see as an ideal for humanity, human virtue, goodwill for others, love and wisdom and reason, there is no energy left for that. They are left naked and unprotected and unable to defend themselves in a hostile world.
Prometheus is the other side of this. Prometheus steals that creative power from the gods, the consciousness, and gives it to mankind to develop, to progress, to make them higher than the animals. In our spiritual work, that is what we are seeking to do. We are seeking to move from that level of being that is characterized by suffering, by repetition, animal types of desires. We are seeking to move into a human state that emanates love and reason and wisdom, that sees reality from a higher perspective.
So I kind of already talked about this but we can see that these archetypes and the great myths relate to ourselves. Prometheus is being a creator of our life. In the myth he breathes life into both statues and puts them into the kiln. And in the same way we are taking our consciousness and we are breathing it into a false part of ourselves, with the false identity that we are clinging to and feeding with a lot of our time and energy. And we are also breathing that life into pure parts of ourselves, our love, our creativity, all the things we have to offer the world. And by doing that we are able to, if we are aware, if we are self-observing and meditating, to perceive which one is reality, which one is helping us to rise out of suffering and which one is causing us to remain trapped in greater states of suffering.
Two examples of the ego: we have Epimetheus, afterthought, hindsight, and we can have Dolos, which is our own self-deception, that intentionally or unintentionally we are deceiving ourselves a lot of the time to believing we are somebody that we are not. Sometimes it can be a good thing. We are believing ourselves to be somebody better than we are. We like to think that we have got it all figured out, we are the guy that is reliable and nobody else is as good as us. Or sometimes we can have a self-deception that “I’m incompetent. I’ve got nothing to offer and nobody is going to listen to me,” and any variety in between there.
But we are not perceiving ourselves as we really are, so we need to train ourselves to awaken consciousness to be able to do so.
As I mentioned earlier, the two statues are representing aspects of our personality, that personality being driven by a false self-image. Is it something that we are feeding and we are developing our personality a lot for our own egotistical gain, for our own sense of self and getting what we want, feeding our desires? Or is it a personality that embodies the truth, the divine archetype of our soul, that does not need any egotism, but can shine with a lot of radiance and power, to be able to live in a wise and compassionate way?
So I am going to finish here with two quotes from Samael Aun Weor.
The first he talks about two consciousnesses, referring to these two statues that we just learned about. He says:
…we must get to know, to be able to comprehend, that the human being is divided into two consciousnesses: the true and the false.
He goes on to say:
Therefore, we have to throw away all that constitutes our false consciousness in order to cause our true consciousness to emerge to the surface so that we can work with it. This shows us that in order to work psychologically, that is, in order to put the true wisdom into play, one needs to become a child, to become an infant, a baby, stripped of all theories. ―Samael Aun a Weor, The Revolution of the Dialectic
So as a child we are talking about that state of cognizant awareness of life, perceiving things as they are, perceiving reality as it is, not as we wish it would be. Not a child in a naïve sense, but a child with the purity of the spirit and with the wisdom of experience.
So that means that we need to begin to strip ourselves of some of the theories. Sometimes we cling to our idea about life or the way that other people are, “what I need to do to get ahead,” all these theories might not actually have a basis in reality. They might be things we have been told by other people, things that sound good. It is only by working with our own consciousness, our own self-observation, our own meditation and guidance from within, becoming a child of divinity, that we are able to grow psychologically and spiritually to increase our true self. But we need to be able to abandon our self-deception in order to do that. As long as we are clinging to our idea and believing that the way that “I am perceiving life right now is how it is and I’ve got it figured out,” we are never going to see it in a new way. We are just going to keep repeating and living off of that.
So a question for us to finish with is, “What is false in us?” Hopefully, as we have been talking and giving some examples, you have been able to think about yourself a little bit. What we are going to close on with our discussion is considering, with a radical sincerity, with total honesty with ourselves, what it is that we have been investing our lives into, spiritually speaking, that does not have any spiritual significance? It is not to discard our duties to our family, to our jobs, to our society. It is not to run away from our responsibilities, but to use those as places in which we can self-observe, in which we can meditate on our life and use life as a school for our own spiritual development, to develop the truth of ourselves, to become those brilliant men and women that were mentioned earlier.
It is only first by seeing the lie that we are going to be able to renounce it. As long as you do not see the lie, or you believe that it is the truth, you will never be able to see beyond it. So we need to start by looking at ourselves, not at other people, not at anything else going on in the world. Until we can see ourselves, then we are not able to see anything else. We start with self-knowledge and then we grow in knowledge of other aspects of reality, the universe and divinity.
Do you have any questions?
Comment: I do have a comment on the last slide that you showed us, you must become a child… Jesus quote… to enter the kingdom of heaven you must become a little child…
Instructor: Yes, he says, “Verily I tell you, unless you change and become as children you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” It is in the Book of Mathew. It is the same sentiment exactly, that when we are hoping to reach a higher level of being, we have to first become pure like a child.
There are many forms of intelligence. It is an inherent aspect of any living thing, down from the smallest microbe, to the atom, to any living thing: animals, plants, human beings.
Unfortunately in this humanity, people like to assume and believe that the human being as we are now is the height of intelligence, the height of wisdom. While certainly we have many advancements in technology, many marvels, the reality is that we continue to suffer and to be afflicted by many problems that our greatest scientists, philosophers, teachers, cannot provide for.
All religions have taught in their heart that there is the possibility for something more and that that development is internal. We have the potential to become something beyond comprehension at this level, of what a human being can be. Our humanity has received many messengers, many prophets, whether we call them angels, buddhas, masters, Gods: people who were once like us, and yet learned to change themselves, to comprehend their own inner conditioning, so that by transforming their negativity, they became what we emulate: Jesus, Buddha, Moses, Krishna, the great prophets—those who exemplified the highest ideals possible in a human being, compassion that is selfless, unrelenting, divine.
When Jesus was crucified, he only said "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." He didn't have any malice in him, because all those defects were destroyed in him through a long process of meditation, of purification, of practice.
So contrary to popular belief, a figure like Jesus or Buddha was once like us, afflicted. And yet, they learned by developing their intelligence, their understanding, how to become great beings, great messengers. We can become like them. It is possible to overcome suffering on a grand scale within ourselves.
And all those teachers emphasize that this path is meditation, because it is an introspection, a method of looking, of gaining information, of developing our own understanding of who we are and not assuming that we know.
Oftentimes we say that we know a person. We mention their manners, their words, their language, their behaviors. How often in our lives have we known someone who we assume to be a certain image and yet in the next moment we learn of a great tragedy, a terrible action? We can look at the news to see people like this. Individuals who seem like great saints and then the next moment it's unveiled that they were into very degenerated behaviors, which is contrary to that popular image that people had.
While this is very common in our society, on a more psychological level we do this with ourselves: our own self-image, who we assume to be, what we like to project to the world, to present to others, to show. We like to think that we know who we are: our language, our name, our culture, the food we eat, the people we associate with, the music we listen to, the friends we have.
But, those things are temporary. They are not eternal. They are not our true divine nature. Divinity is not a person, an anthropomorphic figure in the clouds that sits on a throne of tyranny, dispensing lightning bolts to a poor humanity, like an ant hill. That anthropomorphic figure does not exist, which is why even Friedrich Nietzsche, the author of Thus Spoke Zarathustra said "God is dead," because that image does not exist.
Instead, what exists is a type of intelligence which is beyond good and evil, which is terribly divine and sacred. And of course, it is beyond our conceptions of what is good or bad, but is our true nature, our divine being, which is a state of consciousness, a state perception, a state of intelligence.
But in order to understand what that is, we have to learn to strip away that which is superfluous, which we think is us: our sentiments, our sense of pride, our fears, our anger, our laziness, gluttony, greed, lust, passion—these things that we like to assume is us, who we are, but which at the heart of every religion teaches that it is negative, because those elements produce suffering.
When we say something negative to someone with anger, we produce pain. That is not our divine nature and it is not our true nature, because a certain condition brought up that sense of self, in which we said something negative, and it created a lot of problems. But unfortunately, we like to hold onto a sense of image of ourselves. What we think we are. What we want other people to believe that we are. Many times we fight and even kill, or people even kill in the name of this sense of self that is so hurt. When one has betrayed. When one is slandered. When one is gossiped about. When one is lied to.
It is sad, because even people who are filled with great defects have the potential to become something great, but in order to do so, they must use their genuine intelligence, their understanding of what divinity is. To learn to discriminate within the mind that which is positive from that which is negative. That which produces happiness for oneself and others, or pain.
Everyone wants happiness, but not all people are willing to work on their own methods of how to acquire it, because everyone wants to enjoy life, not to suffer, to not be in pain. Yet, our behaviors in many cases are the very means by which we suffer, though we don't see it.
In a spiritual sense, we are not very awake, aware of our full potential, because if we knew divinity in us, moment by moment, without thinking of other things, without being distracted by life, naturally, in any moments of great crisis, when presented with great traumas, sufferings, which affect us, we then learn to engage in life with intelligence, understanding—knowing how to negotiate our spiritual nature with this chaotic world, which does not know any order, which is falling apart.
So real intelligence is divinity. It is spiritual, and in this lecture we will talk about how to develop that potential in us, how to change and how to make others happy, but not in the Hallmark sense. If we sacrifice our own needs, there is a type of negotiation there. How do we help other people without compromising our spiritual nature? Not ego nature, not pride, laziness, fear, defects, those things need to be eliminated so that our true potential can emerge spontaneously in a beautiful way. In a profound way.
Our True Nature and the Four Noble Truths
So our consciousness is in a potential state. It is not very active. Although in this level, we have a certain amount of intelligence and understanding, but that is not the full gamut of what we can become. We can become like a Jesus, a Buddha.
The word Buddha simply means “awakened one,” to be aware, to be attentive. From the prefix budh, which means “cognition,” which can mean intelligence. That is the type of intelligence that knows how to respond to any circumstance without identifying, without provoking the anger of others, or achieving this retaliation of an eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth. It is a compassionate state that can cut through illusion, through ignorance, and in that way help others, but also help oneself.
On a basic level we say that we are awake. We understand, we learn, we speak, we communicate, we interact with the world; but most people do not ever question the manner and method by which one does so, or even think that it is possible to change one's psychological states in relation to problems, ordeals, the sufferings of existence.
Fortunately, there have been teachers who have taught a method and means by which to understand the process, the path. That path is beautifully taught by many messengers, such as the Buddha, who explained that through understanding Four Noble Truths, one can reach the cessation of suffering and the complete development of the human being.
Other teachers knew the Four Noble Truths, whether from other religions, but the Buddha emphasized these four truths in a very didactic way, in a very profound way.
He said that in life there is suffering, which is from the word dukkha. That word can mean many things—displeasure, dissatisfaction, sorrow, pain. It could also mean disgust, and this is a very interesting term because for someone to really understand meditation, and to really access the divine, one needs to be very tired of suffering—to not want to suffer anymore, to reach that rock bottom when one realizes that if one does not change, then one will enter even greater states of suffering.
But it is a type of realization, a type of displeasure with the facts of life—to want to question, "Is there more? Is there something else in this life that will produce happiness rather than a job, marriage, money, bank accounts?” Things that in the end will leave us. But, where will our consciousness go?
Unfortunately for most people, they don't know or we don't know because we haven't awakened our perception. Most people have not. If you are familiar with teachings of astral projection, lucid dreams, out of body experiences, there have been people who by accident, have awakened consciousness in a state in which they were out of the body, physically.
When the physical body goes to sleep, the soul goes out and usually projects its dreams within the screen of that dimension, which we'll talk about in relation to the Kabbalah, the Jewish mysticism, the Tree of Life. For most of us, we go into that state every night when we go to sleep, but not aware. We may have some dreams, we project things, and then we wake up in the morning, possibly remembering some kind of event that one experienced and was very unclear. Usually very vague.
But, when we learn meditation, we can learn to be awake in that dream state and no longer be dreaming, but become aware of that world, which is a whole other way of being. We have many methods you can use to experience that, and in that way we realize that there is something more to life than just going through our grind.
But, when we learn to remove the causes of suffering in us, we awaken consciousness. Most people are not aware of what those causes are, which we explained in our courses of gnostic psychology. The word gnosis in Greek means “knowledge, experiential knowledge.” That which we know for fact. What we perceive from experience, like a lucid dream or astral projection. These things are very real for those who awaken their perception, who learn to meditate. Those kinds of experiences can help to inspire us, to want to know more, to want to change; and in this tradition we study practices to develop that potential, that intelligence, that wisdom.
Samudaya: The Internal Causes of Suffering
So suffering has causes: samudaya. This is where many people become hung up. The causes of suffering are internal. It is the hypnosis of the soul that we commonly experience, where we usually like to blame external life, the external world for our suffering. Material needs, food, clothing, shelter, struggles at jobs, marriage difficulties. We usually just like to project our dreams onto the external world, not realizing that we are not very conscious, we are not very awake, because somebody who is awake will not respond with anger to one's loved ones, in a spiritual sense.
The causes of suffering are psychological, are conditions of mind, negative states that we created. But of course, it takes tremendous courage to want to recognize that in ourselves. That we are responsible for the pains we go through. That our psychological state attracts our life. This is what happens to us in many cases, not all.
But those causes of suffering we call ego. The word ego in Latin means "I." The sense of “me, myself, who I am; my job, my race, my language, my habits, my friends.” The way that we feel about ourselves, which is usually very egotistical, selfish, negative.
Unfortunately, most people never question that self. They like to feed it. They like to indulge in desire, which is a craving for something that once it is given, once it is satiated, wants more.
Contrary to popular psychology, when we feed anger, we don't remove it. It isn't annihilated. It doesn't cease to exist. In fact, it gets stronger and bigger, and more monstrous. So, these are things in ourselves that we can see.
Nirvana: The Cessation of the Ego
Fortunately, those egotistical qualities can cease to be, and that is the third truth: nirvana. In Sanskrit the word nirvana means “cessation. To cease suffering.” If we study Jewish mysticism and astral projection, those types of things, we know that nirvana is also a state of consciousness in different dimensions, which we can access when the physical body is asleep. When we go out in the dream world and learn to be awake in that state in order to ascend those heavens, mentioned so many times by Dante in his Divine Comedy, the Greek mythology, Islam, Sufism, Judaism, the Bible. They are all talking about the same thing.
But if we want to access those states, we have to remove all the luggage from our subconsciousness, that which we are not aware of, because this is a type of baggage that we carry with us wherever we go. Anger is a profound lead of the soul. It is heavy. It brings us down and brings other people down. Unfortunately, we become victim to it many times, if we are honest, but by learning to meditate and to observe ourselves, we become aware of those qualities in us that need to change. We can change, so that the lead of the ego, according to the alchemists of medieval science, can be transformed and transmuted into the gold of the spirit—because part of our soul is trapped in anger, fear, pride, and all that conglomeration of defects we carry.
Like the genie from Aladdin's lamp, we can extract the genie, the intelligence, our divine nature, and then break the lamp. That is a beautiful Arabian myth about how our soul has so much potential. It can grant any wish, but we have to remove the causes of suffering, which are psychological.
We do that through meditation, specifically, and in that way, we learn to vibrate at higher levels of being, ways of consciousness, so that naturally we learn to that astral project every night, have experiences of a spiritual type, learn to meditate, speak face to face in that world, that dimension with Jesus or Buddha or Muhammed or Christ or whatever prophets we have an affinity for.
They are very awake, but we can talk to them like we are talking here or seeing each other here. It is a very real thing, but one has to work for it.
It is not easy to renounce anger, when we are criticized and suddenly, we feel that desire to say something very negative. And then we do. That of course provokes the other person and causes conflict. But, if we learn to be patient, no matter how wrong that person is or whatever crimes they have committed, we can create distance, or a sense of non-identification with them. Not judging them, because we tend to carry many elements in us that we blame in others. But seeing that is difficult.
Marga: The Gnostic Path of Meditation
There is a path that teaches us this process which is marga: the path of cessation. It means “path, a way, a method,” and that method is very specific. It has been in all religions, all traditions before. Of course, those teachings degenerate with time, because when exposed to humanity, obviously people's own psychological corruption adulterates, impedes, breaks apart that message.
That knowledge is known as gnosis in Greek, which is something we study in this school. It is a Greek word meaning “experiential knowledge”—what we verify through facts, and not what we assume to be.
So, as I said, we tend to assume many things about ourselves—if we are honest—but this doesn't mean this type of questioning of oneself should produce pessimism or negativity, but more of a type of inquiry, a type of investigation.
Buddha Nature: Consciousness and the Tree of Life
A lot of people that hear “my anger, my pride, my negativity, my ego… that myself must die,” and people become terrified. “What will I be when that is gone? My language, my name, my personality, my customs, my race?” But, at the same time we have something that is genuine in us, which is pure. The Buddhists call it buddhadatu, buddha nature: the possibility to be awake, to be intelligent, to be spiritual, because we all have that capacity. It is just not developed. It can easily be developed, and it takes a certain method and discipline with oneself. That path is in all religions, especially the Jewish Kabbalah.
You can see here an image of ten spheres, which are known in Hebrew as a sephiroth. This is a map of consciousness. A map of the soul, from the very heights of the divine, to the most basic, most material, most physical. This is a map of our intelligence, our whole spiritual nature.
At the top if you notice you'll see a trinity. There are three trinities here. An upright triangle, two lower triangles and a bottom sphere.
Kabbalah is known as the science of numbers. It is a means by which we can interpret any tradition on the planet. Any scripture, any book, as well as our own experiences in meditation. It is a map of the multi-dimensionality of the soul, from the external to the internal. We have the most divine principles in us, which some traditions have called Christ, which in Hebrew are known as Kether, Chokmah, Binah: Father, Son, Holy Spirit amongst the Christians. Or amongst the Egyptians it is Osiris, Horus, Isis. Or for the Nordics it is Wotan, Baldur, Thor. Different names, one reality.
This is an expression of what we really are in our most fundamental depth. In Hebrew those terms Kether, Chokmah, Binah mean “Crown, Wisdom, and Intelligence.” These are three forces in nature, within us, in the cosmos. This top trinity—these three forces are one but three. They express as three. They create every living thing in this universe. They spread as three points and then become one. Then they concentrate.
On a very basic level we can see that there is a father: a masculine principle, a woman: a feminine principle, and then the third which is the child: the synthesis of the man and woman on a sexual level. So, these three forces relate to creation and especially to what we call the creative energies in us, which, through meditative discipline, we can harness and use for spirituality.
But below that there is more. This divine force in the cosmos descends into more concrete levels of experience, of dimensionality, which again we can experience when we meditate, or when we have a astral projection, or in a waking experience.
We have Chesed in Hebrew and which means “Mercy.” That is our inner spirit. Our own particular Buddha nature, our inner God, which emanates from the top trinity, from the cosmos. That spirit is unique to us, individual in us, but also is a conduit by which we can be one with all things, all beings. The quality of that sephiroth or sphere is love, compassion
On the left, we have a sphere called Geburah, which in Hebrew means “Justice.” That is a type of conscious state that is very pure. It is the spiritual soul, spiritual consciousness, which never mixes with any type of impurity, any defect. It is Justice because our consciousness knows how to judge between right and wrong.
We usually call this voice conscience, like in the story of Pinocchio. He has a cricket on his shoulder name Jiminy who always tells him “this is good, this is bad.” It is a symbol of this: Pinocchio was a wooden boy, a puppet influenced by the strings of life, his own defects, but he wants to become a real human being, a divine being. Even the word Pinocchio in Tuscan is “pine seed.” The seed that could become a pine tree.
This is known as the Tree of Life in the Book of Genesis, in the Bible. It is a map, not a literal plant in the Middle East many ages ago. It is not a literal story, only a symbolical one.
So Jiminy Cricket is always warning Pinocchio, “You needed to do this and this,” but of course Jiminy cricket gets killed at one point, at least in the in the book by Carlos Collodi. In the film, it does a good job of depicting the same truths by Disney, but some things they left out. But of course, Jiminy Cricket comes back because the consciousness is eternal. It always comes back to warn us in our heart, that sense of judgment that knows that a certain action is wrong, but usually the mind interferes. It says, “I have many excuses. I should do this because it's the right thing,” and we rationalize later on, but in the heart we feel the consequences. That is judgment.
Beneath that we have a sphere called Tiphereth, which in Hebrew means “Beauty,” splendor. It is the beauty of the soul. Out true, we could say, Buddha nature. So again, there are unfoldments and levels and levels of divinity in us. But this is really what we call human soul, our will.
When we will something, we do it. It could be either conscious, or for most people, it tends to be unconscious. Even in popular psychology taught by Freud, he often spoke about competing wills, competing desires, subliminal impulses in the mind. So Tiphereth can either reflect the beauty of God or the negative beauty of our own defects, our own hell realms we could say, our own states of suffering.
Beneath that we have Netzach which means “Victory.” That is our mind, our thoughts, our concepts. We can see then that this is becoming more concrete. You can notice here that as we are descending down this Tree of Life, we can start to grasp certain things in ourselves. The mind is more concrete. We are more aware of that because we tend to be influenced or dominated by Netzach.
To the left of that is Hod, which in Hebrew means “Glory.” That is our emotions. What some people call the astral body. When we go to dream at night, we enter the world of Hod, which is known as the fifth dimension. That is a world in which we dream typically, but usually without awareness. It is an emotional plane, emotional dimension, because many people, they have dreams, they start to sense and feel strong emotional reactions and many times we tend to dream about things that happen at work or in our day; the reason being is the life we live here physically is repeated in the dream state. We just don't have any cognition of it. We are usually not aware of it.
So we repeat things, but without knowing where we are about recognizing where we are. But, we have techniques in this tradition that teach us how, when in that state, we can awaken. We will teach that in our courses of astral projection and dream yoga: the science of dreams.
Beneath that is Yesod, which means “Foundation.” This is our creative energy. As I said, the creative energy is divine. We can learn to use our energies and our body and our glands, especially the sexual glands, to learn to take those forces and use them for divinity. That can serve as a foundation by which we can access with consciousness, these higher spheres, these higher sephiroth. We see that Yesod is the foundation. Our energy is the foundation, because without vital energy we would not have life, even physically.
So Malkuth, if you look below, means “Kingdom.” It is our physical body. Our physicality. That is what we typically only know. But Malkuth, the physical body would not exist if we didn't have vitality, enough energy to get through our day, or to live. Some people feel depleted, they say "I need to sleep," because the vital body needs to recharge. That vital energy needs to work in us.
So I am mentioning different bodies, different vehicles by which we express ourselves in different dimensions. It is unfortunate that we tend to only believe that this physical plane is all there is, but when we learn to awaken in dreams, we find that even our vital energies form a vehicle, a kind of body that penetrates this physical body. It gives it life. It gives it the ability to act and move.
There's also an emotional body known as Hod: a vehicle we usually work with in dreams, but unconsciously. There is also a mind or mental body, a mental vehicle. Above that we have more subtle aspects of divinity, which are difficult to comprehend at this level, but we can access those in us through practice. We will see more and more how this glyph represents who we are and our potential.
The Etymology of Intelligence and Understanding
So I mentioned the Tree of Life and a lecture about intelligence. The word intelligence comes from Latin, meaning: “realizing, understanding, perceiving, discerning. It refers to “intelligō”: inter, meaning: “between” and “legō,” meaning “collect,” or “recite,” from the verb.
Real intelligence is knowing the relationship of ourselves to other things, and even within us. It is a profound state of intelligence to know the relationship between mind and heart, mind and body, will and spirit, spirit and the highest divinity.
Intelligence is represented in the Kabbalah, this third sephiroth or sphere Binah. Remember that this top trinity is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Kether, Chokmah, and Binah. Binah is known as “intelligence, understanding.” It is a part of us, an energy that makes it possible to experience the whole Tree of Life and to learn how to work in this physical world with wisdom, so that we may be crowned by divinity through our actions. Rewarded for performing good things, good deeds.
What is interesting is that the word קבלה Kabbalah in Hebrew comes from לקבל la’kabbel, which means “to receive.” It is what we receive from divinity. It is a word that refers to the Greek gnosis. Knowledge we experience. Things that we see for ourselves, that we witness directly.
And in that way, in meditation we calm the body, relax our energies, relax our heart, relax our mind. In that way we can start to learn to direct our will power, our concentration, which if you are familiar with meditation, we often speak about concentration exercises. These are means by which we learn to focus on one thing without thinking.
In that simple synopsis we find the lower five sephiroth of the Tree of Life represented. Our physical body Malkuth needs to relax. We need to understand our relationship to our body, so that we could be healthy and be strong. That is one form of intelligence. Also, we need to learn to work with our vital forces, our vital energies, which we can do so through breathing exercises or mantras, that help to circulate energy by vocalizing throughout our vital depth, our vital body. That helps to stabilize everything, because if you notice that Yesod is the center of the Tree of Life at the very bottom, it's the foundation of all practice.
We have to learn how to conserve energy. Most of the time in our day, we expel energy: physically, emotionally, mentally. That is why many people who begin meditation usually leave, because they are not seeing results. The problem is that they are not working with the foundation. It is important to work with energies, so that it can empower our consciousness, our soul, so that it can be awake, spontaneously, natural, happy.
Likewise in meditation, we calm heart, the emotional center, Hod. We need to understand our relationship with our emotions and not be a victim of them. I believe it was the founder of the Muslim tradition said something very interesting. The Prophet Muhammad said, "The strongest among you is he who controls his anger." Very interesting, because when we learn to control the heart and conserve our emotional energies, we learn to awaken in that dimension. We naturally experience that state for ourselves. We learn to understand and discern with intelligence, to perceive that which is objective from that which is subjective. Real from false. Awake from dreaming. So, we want to stop dreaming in that state. You want to be awake, to be intelligent, to know our relationship with those things directly.
Likewise, we have to relax the mind, and this is very difficult for many people. It is common that when we sit to practice, we find that the mind is thinking. We are always thinking of other things, being distracted, filled with memories or daydreams, concepts, comparisons, contrasts, disagreements, agreements. The mind is always churning. It's a big ocean. It is always in a storm or flux, and when people see this in themselves, usually they get frightened. They see that the mind is so chaotic in the beginning, they get scared and they say, “This practice is harming me, because this is what I see in myself.”
The reality is that one is coming to see for oneself what is already there. It is subconscious. Our mind, as Freud taught, is very subconscious. Likewise, with our emotions and our impulses, our drives.
But, if one is persistent, by working with concentration exercises, by using one's willpower, one's focus to take an object of practice and not let the mind wander, just focus on one thing like a stone or a statue or a painting, then the mind calms. It settles. If you fight the mind, it will churn. It will be in chaos. But if you just observe the mind and relax, everything settles.
So meditation is, or preparation for meditation involves that: relax your body, your energies, your heart, your mind, and then direct your will on one thing.
It could be many things you want to meditate on. Maybe a problem. Asking a question to divinity where you want to receive an answer. Maybe a personal challenge or difficulty. Looking for guidance for something in your daily life that you can't resolve.
It's funny that people think that the mind is going to answer that question. It is a common assumption even in business meetings. There are people who spend hours and hours debating, using their intellect to argue the solution for a problem. Then when they take a break for fifteen minutes, they walk away and they stop thinking of the problem, suddenly the answer comes: the intuition, the insight. And in that way they come back to the meeting recharged, understanding what they need to do.
That is a basic example, but when we learn meditation, the first preliminary concentration exercise is relaxing the mind, the heart, the energies in the body. Then everything settles, so that we can learn to perceive these higher five sephiroth, up these higher spheres with our consciousness, which is Geburah, the sphere on the left.
It is also in that way that we can even have astral experiences, in which we speak face-to-face with our own inner spirit, our own inner God, our Buddha—even higher spheres above that which are very difficult to conceptualize at our level, but they exist in us nonetheless.
So this is a map of intelligence, our relationship to different things in us, and in the multi-dimensionality of nature. It is a process of discernment. Questioning in us what is real. What is factual? Then discarding what is useless so that we can learn to have that communication, that understanding of what divinity is.
Even the word understandan, from old English, to understand, we know is very basic. That is, to grasp the idea, to comprehend. To perceive the significance, meaning, explanation, or cause of something.
Meditation is about comprehension, understanding, so that when our mind and heart and body are settled, we can concentrate and even reflect on our day where we are observing ourselves, becoming aware of what situations in life provokes certain defects, certain problems that we want to change, and then we can concentrate on those moments. Reflect and imagine them, visualize them, see them with our consciousness so that we can get knowledge, understanding. What is the appropriate way to behave in this situation? For example at work I have been reflecting on conflict with some clients of mine who are very aggressive and very disrespectful. I have noticed they have been provoking with their behavior certain qualities in me that are negative or egotistical. Frustration. I want them to be a certain way, to behave in a certain way, because it's the right thing. Or that is the logic that is associated with that thought.
You can see that you have the mind there, but also the negative emotion, Hod, which feels that “I am being wronged.” Also the will to act, but negatively. To say the wrong things, to do the wrong things that make the situation worse.
So, I have been meditating on certain circumstances of my job, and by learning to relax, to concentrate and to ask for help from my inner divinity, my inner spirit, a beginning experience is about what I need to do at my job. Understanding the right way to act, the right way to think, to feel and to do. According to the Buddha: upright thought, upright feeling, upright action.
In that way, I have been able to transform many problems. Now, my clients who in the beginning were very rough, they can still be pretty antagonistic, but they respect me. There isn't that type of distrust anymore from the beginning.
Concentration and Imagination
So things can change, but gradually. Then when we work with our concentration, again, we are working with our consciousness too. The ability to imagine or perceive. This word imagination is often denigrated today as something fake or fantastical, but if I ask you to imagine an apple, you can see it. Not with physical senses, but psychological ones. That is a quality of our consciousness.
When you combine your will, your concentration, your focus on one thing, and imagining your scene in a day where you want to understand something, suddenly the comprehension emerges, relating to the spirit, Chesed. That helps us to become spiritual beings, because a spiritual being has intelligence, understands how to resolve problems, but without thinking. Not rationalizing, but knowing intuitively and acting immediately in the moment, so that it's very profound, divine.
Understanding can also refer to “interpreting or view something in a particular way.” To view ourselves in a new way. To understand something about ourselves that we never thought we had.
It can be negative, but it can also can be very positive, because we have qualities in us that are divine that we have no idea that exist. But, when you meditate you find that true divine heroic nature in you, which knows how to conquer affliction and all suffering.
So, understanding also refers to “perceiving the significance, explanation, or cause of something.” In this Buddhist sense, or in a religious or spiritual sense, it can refer to understanding the causes of our own suffering, our own egotistical drives, which manifests in our thoughts, our feeling, our body and energies, but also our will, depending on how we use it.
If you remember the prayer of Jesus of Nazareth in the garden of Gethsemane, he says, "Father, if it be possible, take this cup of bitterness from me, but not my will, but thine be done." That refers to Tiphereth, the heart. That is a symbol and his Passion is that he lived physically—it was a means of teaching something psychological, because every person needs to face their own types of ordeals and struggles in life, their own crucifixion, in a manner of speaking.
If we learn to meditate and remove the causes of suffering, we can, according to the myth of Jesus, resurrect. The soul is absorbed in the divinity, and then one is self-realized, realizing all the spheres of the Tree of Life. They are integrated. They are one, because right now our thoughts, our feelings, and our wills, tend to be very disparate.
In a moment, we may be washing our dishes and thinking of one thing, feeling another. We have the desire to go out and work out, followed by the desire for eating. “Now I want to read something else.” “Now I want to do something else.” We are always changing, in flux. We are constantly thinking and doing other things, never aware of where we are at or what we are doing.
We call that ego, and the ego is not singular as we like to think, or popular culture likes to think. Ego is egos. Anger, pride, fear, lust, laziness, gluttony—all those faults we carry inside—are multiple. They have their own agendas, ways of thinking, feeling, and doing. But, it's because we are not attentive, we don't really discriminate or distinguish between the differences, between those states. Meditation will teach one how to discern with intelligence, what is going on psychologically. Of course, it is unpleasant in the beginning to realize that this anger, or this fear, this sense of self is not singular. It is a big chaos. Multiple. But, as taught by many myths and as taught by the Tree of Life and through meditation, we can unify the soul. Achieve the realization of divinity in us.
So “to interpret something in a particular way, to be thoroughly familiar with, apprehend clearly the character, nature, or subtleties of something.”
Again, to interpret or view something in a particular way, how do we view ourselves? It's good to ask this question, not from a skeptical, pessimistic, standpoint. Nor a morbid sense of self-flagellation and shame. "Oh, I am a bad person." But just to ask the question and look what is going on in me. “Who am I?” To question and to examine oneself with a psychological sense.
We call it self-observation. To be aware of oneself. To not want to judge or praise or condemn what we see. Just to be aware, awake. And in that way, we gather data about our own faults, so that we can change.
Therefore, our understanding of ourselves will be on a true foundation, because the word understand literally implies that we are standing on something. We all tend to stand on some sense of identity. Our assumptions of ourselves, which other people may criticize and point out are wrong, but usually we feel very hurt. We don't want to be criticized or questioned.
It is good to ask the question when that experience unfolds, “Well, maybe they are right to ask that question. What if they are right that they see something in me that I don't see?” Other people tend to see things in ourselves that we don't see ourselves. Not to be afraid, but just examine. To be aware. This is the foundational method of meditation so that we can stand on strong ground, because when you stand on fact, we are not hurt.
I believe there is a saying in the book Way of the Bodhisattva by Shantideva where he explains how, if somebody says something to us and it is hurtful, if it is a lie, why get mad? If it is true, why get mad?
If one confronts oneself and is working, it doesn't hurt. It doesn't matter. And in this way, by asking that type of question, we learn to transform our situation.
The Impressions of Life and Internal Reactions
In these studies, we talk about the transformation of impressions. We say that life exists as it does in the form of impressions. We see through our senses, we hear, we feel, we taste, we touch, we smell. We can say that all of life exists in the form of energies or impressions. Whether we are looking outside, we see the rain, people walking. We can say that those people are outside of us, but at the same time, the impressions of those experiences always enter into the psyche, moment by moment.
There is never a moment in which we don't perceive perceptions, or perceive something, even at death, or in sleep, usually. Because, the consciousness is eternal. It always will exist, but in different modalities or formations, depending on how we use it. How we use our mind, our energies, our heart, our will, our consciousness.
So, everything always exists in the form of impressions. You are here listening to me, receiving the impressions of my words. It may enter your psyche, emotionally, maybe feeling or ascertaining something, or thinking of something related to it.
The mind is always reacting to impressions. It is a dynamic thing, and if we learn to be aware as meditators, we realize that the sense that, there is an external world, is illusory. Everything is within us, if we are attentive.
I am sure all of us have experienced, especially in youth, moments in which we are very clear and awake, just seeing life and movement without thinking, without rationalizing. Especially in childhood, we might have had many of those experiences in which we just see the impressions of life without judging, without labeling, without conceptualizing, “This is good. This is bad.”
That tends to be the psychological dynamic of our experience. We are caught in duality. Back and forth. Good, bad. Yes, no. Pleasure, pain. Happiness, sadness. Excitement, fear. Duality. That is a pendulum of the consciousness that puts us to sleep.
We are always running away from unpleasant impressions in life and running towards pleasant ones. But the thing is: why get attached to either a coffee cake or one's family? And want to run away from one's boss when he's angry? The reality is that all that is temporary. Nothing is permanent. Everything is in flux. Impressions emerge and enter our consciousness, our psyche.
But the problem is that we tend to receive life in a very mechanical way. We don't really question what we are seeing, or better said, how we are perceiving those experiences. So physically we may know that we are seated here, but the question is, are we actively observing where we are? Are we aware of the ceiling, the murals, or the decorations, the plants, the equipment around ourselves, the art, the street? Are we really looking at those impressions with a fresh look? Are we seeing it with new eyes, moment by moment? Or, do we just look at things and get lost in our thoughts?
Sometimes we may be walking on the street, such as in Chicago or any city, and then we are thinking and thinking and thinking of a problem. We don't see where we are at or where we are going. It means that we are not awake. We are dreaming. It is that type of psychology that goes with us wherever we go. So, if we are not training ourselves, our moment by moment, or day by day, then when we physically go to sleep or when we die, we are going to repeat the same mechanical habits and go through that delicate transition point without attention, without understanding.
So, I know I mentioned a lot about death in dreams. It is interesting that in the Greek mythology, Thanatos and Hypnos, death and sleep, are brothers. If we are awake in our dreams, we will be awake when we die.
Meditation is a means of preparing for that and the way that we prepare for that is learning to look at life with awareness. To see impressions of life, but attentive, and not reacting all the time, mentally.
The mind tends to chatter. We are always commenting on what we see, what we hear, what we feel, what we do. Someone says something negative, we have the reaction of anger or pride. Impressions enter us and we are reacting.
The way that you enter into comprehension or meditation is learning to receive those impressions of life, whether good or bad, but with neutrality. Neither favoring nor rejecting, but it doesn't mean that one is going to be bland.
Neutrality, we think means neither hot or cold, or just lukewarm, dispassionate, unconcerned. There is a connotation in the english language, but it's better that we say that this type of sentiment or neutrality is very clear, very pristine, very divine. In which one enjoys the flow of life, free in its movement, here and now. It doesn't get caught up with the repetitions of life, the duality, “I must be successful in my job. I must run away from painful circumstances,” but confront every situation with consciousness.
So when we have a problem at work, with our mind training, we are not affected by what happens. We can respond with understanding, intelligence: negotiating our sense of self with the exterior world, and in that way we transform our situations.
We tend to react to life with ego, defects, but in those critical moments at work or in a certain challenging circumstances of life, someone says something negative, but with our mind training, we question the insulters words. They say something bad about us.
I remember at my work I had one client [sarcastically] say to me, "Yeah, he thinks he's really good." About me. I looked at him and I was starting to sense in myself a reaction of negativity, like I was being insulted or hurt, but then I realized that the words of this person didn’t really matter so much as my investment in those words. I thought about what he said. In that moment I comprehended that, well, he has his understanding of what I am and he could be right, or he could be wrong. Then I had a sense of peace in order to respond to him more appropriately. I said, "No, you are wrong. I am not good, I am great!" And being funny about it and joking around dissipated the tension.
So comprehension can work like that. We learn to negotiate ourselves with other people. We don't respond with negativity. But even when people are very bad around us, we don't have to go along with it. But, that sense of self, which is neutral, that attention, our conscious state in which we are no longer thinking, we learn to act with love, with serenity, with insight.
The Nature of Impressions and Inner Transformation
Some people think or get worried that if “I annihilate the ego, my defects, what will I be?” Well, you'll be charismatic or compassionate or happy or patient or loving or funny or humorous and divine—knowing how to respond to any circumstance appropriately.
So, this is what we call a transformation of impressions.
It is interesting if we look at some of the etymology of this word. Impressio: “to impress,” meaning “pressed in,” from the verb, impremere: “to imprint; an effect produced upon someone; a mark impressed on a surface by something.”
It is interesting that we find the word “imprint.” You know when people say things that are bad, if we just identify and invest all of our energy into that comment, those words imprint something in our psyche, that conditions us. We feed our anger and feel resentful, proud, hurt. It is a type of imprinting on the soul, on the mind, and that creates more problems, more defects, because we are investing our energy in a sense of self, which is in the spiritual sense, not real, not objective.
Real intelligence is knowing that the relationship between self and other is illusory, and Buddhism talks about this a lot. That everything exists upon other things. There is nothing intrinsically existing in and of itself. Impressions emerge, we react, and there is always a dynamic interchange of relationships, of problems. But if we learn to see that those words no longer have any meaning, someone criticizes us, we don't invest ourselves in those words. We don't feel hurt.
Maybe psychologically there is something deep down that we need to see, so we go home, we meditate on what we saw, so that we could remove all those latent subtle frustrations or desires which are lingering. Then more and more, we learn to transform our psyche day by day.
On another level, the transformation Impressions exist when we develop our intelligence. Again, intelligence is: “How do we discriminate between phenomena of what we see, of what we sense?”
Another example of this is a person may walk down the street and sees images of a lustful type, of a degenerate type, which is making certain desires emerge in the psyche and which are negative. If one comprehends that this person, which one is attracted to so much, this woman or this figure, if we imagine that well in twenty, thirty, fifty, sixty, seventy years, this person may be dust and bones.
So what is the nature of this lustful intention that I feel in myself? What is it? What is this desire? What does it want? How does it exist? Because our defects, our desires, our egotism, our egos, always feed upon the impressions of life. Always want certain stimuli.
Anger wants to hurt the other person because it is hurt. Pride wants to belittle because it wants praise. Greed wants to accumulate material things or even spiritual things, ideas, fame, attention, energy. Fear wants security. It wants things to be what it wants.
So those defects are always wanting certain impressions of life and the reason why we suffer so much is because we are attached to that sense of self, which wants something that doesn't exist. It is not there. We are always fighting against the reality of our situation. We want things to be a different way.
But if we learn to accept our situation with gladness, things will change, as we are changing our negative states. Transforming the impressions of our psyche that we didn't transform in the past.
This is where traumas emerge. Something happened, an impression emerged and came into our psyche and we weren't aware and it affected us. We can think of something like 9/11. People on the site who witnessed those buildings come crashing down and people dying, were traumatized. They weren't aware of what was going on and obviously that kind of violence is very destructive, even psychologically. Some people are still grappling with the pains of that incident, even from across the world who just watched it on television.
But imagine someone who actually was in that situation, where they receive those impressions, and because they were not aware, they didn't know how to transform it. So that type of experience replays in the mind again and again and again. Those impressions are in the psyche. They form new defects, new desires, new traumas, new problems. The way to resolve that is to develop attention, awareness, and in that way we learn to see suffering and go to the root of our problems. [Editor: Listen to the lecture Trauma and Spiritual Healing for advice].
Meditation in the Gnostic Tarot
In this last slide we are looking at, it is the summation of meditative discipline, according to what we call the Egyptian Tarot. So if you have listened on chicagognosis.org, we have a course that is presently ongoing about these cards. These are images that reflect spiritual principles, spiritual truths. We have the first three arcana, or laws of the divine. These cards represent qualities of consciousness, qualities of being. It also can teach us about meditation, more importantly.
In the first image we have the Magician, a representation of what we call the Divine Father, our spirit, our true Buddha nature, our Being, our inner God. I won't explain all the symbolism of these images in depth. If you are interested in learning more about this, you can study our course, The Eternal Tarot of Alchemy and Kabbalah online.
But you notice that he is a standing figure. He is masculine. He has a staff in his hand representing his willpower, his assertiveness, his masculinity.
Likewise, we have his opposite, the second arcanum, the second law, which is the High Priestess. She is sitting. She is the Divine Feminine, the Divine Mother of any religion, whether it be Mary amongst the Christians, Maya, Miriam, Adonia amongst the Kabbalists, Shekinah, Diana, Hera, or the wife of Jupiter.
So all those religions can be explained through these principles, but more importantly, what is interesting is that she is sitting. She represents a feminine aspect of our consciousness, a feminine quality, which is more perceptive, more intuitive, more emotional.
The first aspect of ourselves is will, assertiveness, which we call willpower.
In the last image we find a woman seated with a beautiful ibis bird. She is the Empress of the Tarot. She has stars above her head, meaning that she is illuminated. She has comprehension. She has understanding.
So these three cards are interesting because they summarize the path of meditation and death. In order to really meditate on a problem or issue, or to gain understanding, or intelligence of something, we concentrate, we use our willpower. We focus on one thing at the exclusion of everything.
If we sit to practice, if we want to understand a scripture, a book, we read a verse and we concentrate on it. We can also visualize in our consciousness and imagine what the words are representing. We concentrate, we relax.
Some people think concentration is something over-exertive, like if one is lifting weights. Concentration is a profound state of relaxation. It knows how to act but without exerting the mind, without agitation, without disturbance. It is calm, serene.
Notice that even although he is standing very firmly, he is also very calm. On his right, The High Priestess, the Divine Feminine, is seated and reading a book. It is a symbol of how we learn to read the book of our life, the chapters of our existence. Our mornings, our afternoons, our days, our evenings, and then really reflect with our imagination and see how those circumstances need to be studied.
Through the combination of will and imagination, we gain understanding, intelligence. We learn to discern right from wrong, good from bad, positive from negative. That state of understanding is what gives us real peace. We are no longer afflicted, even if we have problems that can't get resolved. Sufferings we can't change. At least we are not identified with those circumstances, then we are at peace and very strong, because we know that eventually, this body will go and the soul will move on. If we are awake, we will take advantage of those circumstances. If we are not, that is another issue.
The Path of Comprehension
Willpower and imagination make comprehension. So, in the example I gave you, you can concentrate and develop your concentration by focusing on one thing. Some people begin with a stone or a pebble or something basic that doesn't take much effort to focus on.
I like to use a candle when I first started. I would take a candle, light the flame and look at it. Observe the fire. You'll find that the mind will start to drift and start thinking of other things, but the purpose of the practice is: don't think, just look. That is the state of consciousness of attention. When we are no longer thinking of other things, that concentration becomes very profound, so that you can learn to direct it at more elevated things like a scripture, or book, the meaning thereof.
Comprehending a certain defect that emerged in the day, you focus and concentrate on remembering those events. Then imagine, visualize those scenes.
Also, visualization can be developed through that candle practice. Sometimes in the beginning, it is difficult to see things mentally. We don't see much clarity or color or depth, but if you learn to take that candle and observe it for a few moments, then close your eyes and try to imagine that candle in your mind, without vacillating, or letting the mind change it. If you find the mind starts doing that, then just relax, look again at the candle and gently reinitiate the practice. In that way we learn to develop more clarity and depth in our visualization practices.
The combination of concentration and imagination allows us to access any knowledge we want. We can fall asleep while concentrating and imagining a certain thing. Then when we go to sleep physically, the soul awakens in the internal dimensions and we see those states of being with clarity.
In the beginning people will see very vague things and amorphous things. With practice such as with these two exercises, we gain more clarity and understanding. In that way we learn to develop more understanding in our own life: how to navigate this world we live in with patience and serenity, because if we have understanding, we are no longer so troubled or conflicted. We learn to negotiate ourselves with intelligence with this world, with clarity.
If you are interested, I invite you to study the writings we have available. You can view them online and they are full publications of gnostic teachings.org. If there is a particular topic that you listened or hear today in relation to our synopsis or synthesis, you can go online and look at the books we have available. We do have some available in print here, but you can always go online and read them if you are interested and purchase them from online. There is a lot we covered but the synthesis is this: Be aware. Be attentive. These practices can help to elevate our level of being, our way of being so that we learn to find more happiness in our life, find joy, even when circumstances are very painful. Because one who has divinity inside active, doesn't despair. Doesn't fear. Doesn't worry.
Questions and Answers
Question: What is your favorite book?
Instructor: Oh, my favorite book! I do like a lot of classical mythology, especially because those myths teach us Kabbalah. I remember taking a course on classical mythology, classical literature, specifically, which of course the professor didn't know the real esoteric depth of these stories. Some of my favorites are like The Odyssey, which relates to the principles we talked about today.
In the poem by Homer, Odysseus is stranded from place to place after he is victorious in the Trojan War. He was the mastermind that created the Trojan Horse and invaded the city in order to sack it. Then he goes home having angered Poseidon, and Poseidon is a representation in the Kabbalah of Binah, the Holy Spirit amongst the Christians. He angered Poseidon because he took credit for the works that divinity did for him.
That symbolism of war and all that is not literal. It is about the war of the soul against desire, but he has to journey from island to island, again and again, facing death, starvation, assault, and all sorts of terrible things which are symbolic of the spiritual path one has to face. Of course, he gets to the end and his whole crew has been annihilated, basically. They all died, and he was the only one who survived, swam to shore, to Ithaca, his home.
He gets there and Athena warns him, "your wife is under assault here. There are many suitors trying to marry your wife Penelope because it's been twenty years since you've been here. They think you are dead." It is very interesting. All these men are trying to marry his wife, and Penelope is a beautiful symbol of the soul. She is the soul that is being afflicted by many suitors, many lustful elements, egos, defects, and Athena the Divine Feminine, which we can call the Divine Mother, Kundalini amongst the Hindus, She disguises him as a beggar and then he has to gain “intel” about all the suitors who are trying to marry his wife. He can't show who he is. If he gets mad and shows himself that he is Odysseus, they are going to kill him.
But it is interesting that if you look at the word intelligence, even the word “intel” is government slang, finding data about your enemies. So, he is finding all this intelligence, information about how these suitors are working. Who are they aligned to? Who are they? What are they doing? What is their methods? It is a symbol of how one in meditation is working against certain defects, gaining understanding of them.
Of course, they humiliate him, they beat him, they call him a beggar, they mock him for many chapters towards the end of the book, in the poem. But, the crowning moment is when he is in the throne room facing a challenge that Penelope places. She will only marry the suitor or man who can fire an arrow through, I don't remember the number of rings of an ax, lodged in the floor there, but can fire an arrow through all of them.
All the suitors are trying to take Odysseus's bow and pull the string, but it is so heavy and strong that they can't. Here is this beggar Odysseus, or disguised as the beggar and who comes up and says, "I'll take the challenge." Of course, all the suitors become enraged because they have been mocking him the whole time. They don't know who he is.
He pulls the bow, puts the string on easily, and then he takes the arrow and fires it through the rings. All of them are shocked that he accomplished it. Then he takes an arrow and fires it at one of the suitors and kills him. They become terrified in rage and say, "What are you doing old man?" Athena unveils who he is. He says, "I am Odysseus whom you thought was dead. Now I will kill every single one of you for having tried to take my home and squander my property."
It is a symbol of how the soul, our consciousness, goes to war against our defects, and it is very strong at that level, especially. Even the bow is a symbol of negotiating the external with the internal. You pull the bow, you are focusing on what's outside of you, your target, with your concentration. With your willpower, you take the arrow, your perception, see the target, and fire. Concentration and imagination. Then in that way, when we comprehend our defects, we kill them. Then you can extract the soul that has been trapped in there and develop virtue.
It is a symbol of what some people call Buddhist annihilation, which is a term that frightens people, but you know when the ego is annihilated, the soul is born. It is pure.
I love that poem a lot. You know, it's a very beautiful symbol, but people read it and they are very entertained. Yeah, Odysseus gets revenge, they think it is a literal story. Yeah, I mean you can read it that way, but there are a lot of esoteric truths in these fables or stories which are very beautiful.
So, with the bow and arrow, your concentration, your perception, your imagination, you focus on each defect you want to work on. When the moment comes, when the comprehension is full, you can kill that element and be free of it.
I remember The Odyssey is a very beautiful story about that, but there are many more stories that are very profound. But, a lot of the stories that we have been able to study and explain in our courses come from the writings of Samael Aun Weor, specifically. He is a writer on many esoteric topics, whose works are just becoming more familiar in the West, in North America, especially. He was from Latin America.
Some of my favorite books of his when I first started was Treaties of Revolutionary Psychology. He explains many of the principles we talked about: Self-observation, remembering the presence of divinity, learning to gather data about one's faults. It is a very good book to begin with. I know I began many years ago with that book especially. It is one of my favorites. Something you revisit again and because you are always learning. A very deep text and very direct. It has a lot of knowledge there and very rich too.
When you understand that type of teaching, you can look at any scripture, any book, any mythology and you can interpret what is going on. You can use your intelligence to understand the relationship between characters and ideas. It ceases to be some kind of academic, literary thing, but you are seeing things in the book that people don't really understand or know about. They are very profound.
Question: I stopped seeing violent stuff like the media. How do you look at? Is sports demonic? Can one do the work and watch football?
Instructor: It's your business. I know some sports are much more vulgar, like UFC fighting championship, boxing, those that are very violent. Those things are obviously very negative. I mean, I know many people, even instructors in our tradition, who may still watch sports and games. I don't know many who watch UFC, where guys are pounding each other into hamburger. But you know the kind of thing is very negative especially.
I believe Samael Aun Weor was writing in some of his books how certain sports were the degeneration of ancient traditions from long ago. From history that many people don't even know about. Like for example, the bullfighting rings. He talks about how bullfighting was an art that was practiced by a different humanity on this planet before our race emerged, very long ago, which not many people are familiar with, but he stated that those people would not kill the bull in a vulgar way like we see today. It is a symbol of how the toreador would use a lasso, a rope, and a sword symbolically to subdue the bull. It is a symbol of conquering the mind, controlling the mind. But they wouldn't kill the bull because the bull has a beautiful soul. An elemental soul which is pure.
Today you find in Spain, you know the running of the bull, or people killing those animals in the ring. It is very vulgar and degenerated. That tradition came from a long ago. It was a symbolic thing, but over time people corrupted it. So, sports, if you are interested, if you like football, it is your business. It is a violent sport, but when I have seen football games in the past, I don't find that they left any super lasting mark on me in a negative way. [But you know, if you enjoy it, then enjoy it. It is better, though, to take in good impressions that uplift the soul, not just to entertain the mind.]
In this course, we have been discussing how to achieve a psychological transformation of one’s mind, of one’s heart, of one’s body, so that by learning to overcome our own internal obstacles, we can learn to experience divinity in a very concrete, direct, and practical manner. That knowledge of experience, of God, of the Being, is known in Greek as gnosis, self-knowledge. We do not like to use the term God so much, but we use it as a type of reference point. Instead, we like to refer to Being, presence, a type of consciousness that is inside, not external. And we have been discussing the fact that if we wish to know divinity, the Being, our own inner spirit, we have to learn to see in ourselves all that which afflicts us, so that by comprehending our own errors, our own conditions of mind, we can experience the truth. We can free ourselves from suffering.
So this is the fifth lecture in the course Beginning Self-Transformation. In our first lecture, we mentioned a true human being, a true spiritually enlightened one, is a Jesus, is a Buddha, is a Krishna, is a Moses, beings that exemplified the highest ideals of humanity, the highest truths possible for anyone to attain. And if we look at the word hum-man, we can see something very profound etymologically.
Hum in Sanskrit means spirit, and the spirit is divinity, the Being, the truth that never mixes with impurity. It is totally free. It is omniscient. It is universal. And that intelligence is inside, within ourselves, within our true nature, and man, like the Rune Man, with the Nordic letters, symbolizes us in potentiality. We can receive that energy in us if we learn to cease being machines.
It is an unpleasant fact to recognize in our daily experience that we tend to be very mechanical, habitual creatures, mechanical beings, constantly reacting to the influences of life, but never really comprehending the sources of our sorrows. We tend to like to externalize, to blame the government, to blame one’s spouse, one’s friends, one’s boss, one’s job for all of our sorrows that we experience. But if we fail to comprehend how we contribute to our own suffering, how our own states of anger, of pride, of fear, of vanity, really traps our true potential of who we are and what we can become.
So a human machine is like anyone of us. Our body is a means of transferring energy within the universe, within the cosmos, within our psyche, and as we began this lecture with a series of runic postures, the runic yoga, we are learning to circulate divine energy within our human machine, because the body is a machine.
It is very easy to see that we process certain elements in our body in order to achieve homeostasis, a type of equilibrium, a type of balance, physically-speaking, but in a spiritual sense, it is also possible to use our body in order to transmit divine energy, divine force, so that our physical body is a temple that can incarnate the Being, the truth, the divine, can fully manifest those qualities like compassion, divine love, patience, virtue, in which beings like Moses, Buddha, Krishna, Jesus, fully embodied themselves.
They were true human beings who had Hum, the spirit, the Being, fully present in them. And this is why, in instances of great trial, in which they were sacrificed, crucified, victimized, they only responded with love towards their enemies. That is a type of compassion that is very profound, that is very universal, in which we can access in ourselves if we transform who we are, so that light can permeate throughout our spinal column, seven chakras, our mind, our heart, our body.
And in that way as we learn to work with that force which the Gnostics, the Greeks called Christos, Christ, we cease suffering, because the conditions of mind, like fear, laziness, pride, hatred, gluttony, that which we call ego, is fully dead, so that only the resurrected soul is present in our very thoughts, our very words, our very deeds.
So to be a mechanical being is like anyone of us, going through life, reacting towards our circumstances, perhaps some days better than others. But the fact that we continue to react in the same manner towards the same circumstances indicates that we are habitual creatures. When we are criticized, we return with resentment, with anger, with pride. Those circumstances can help us if we engage in this type of self-transformation, this type of work that we have been studying in this course.
We spoke previously about the need to observe ourselves, observe our psychological states, our ways of thinking, our ways of feeling, and our ways of acting, so that we can comprehend those negative qualities which afflict us and unfortunately make us harm others, psychologically-speaking, because anger is an emotion that only knows how to destroy. Fear is debilitating. Pride, instead of exalting itself, only brings about the suffering of others. So that is ego egotism, defects, vices, desire. These types of mechanical reactions make us mechanical beings, because when slandered, we slander in return. We are never free. We are always victims of circumstances, but that can change, by learning to observe who we are, psychologically-speaking, because genuine spirituality is knowing how to cease reacting mechanically to “the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,” to quote Hamlet, Shakespeare. But by “taking arms against a sea of troubles,” psychologically-speaking, learning to work on our own faults, we can “oppose and end” all sorrow.
Real spirituality is learning to circulate divine force, divine energy, so that we can empower our consciousness. So we cease being puppets of life, where we are cursed, we return with curses. We are laughed at, ridiculed, but we can respond with genuine serenity and peace, remembrance of our own divinity.
So in this lecture, we will talk about what does it mean to be a machine, but also what does it mean to be a genuine human being, a real spiritual illuminated one. We will talk about the physical and internal constitution of the intellectual humanoid.
We spoke previously that because of our egotistical conditioning of mind, we do not know the spirit from experience, from meditation, from internal visions, such as when physically we go to sleep, and we enter the dream world, because in that state, we can learn to awaken consciousness, to perceive divinity directly, just as we are speaking face to face, through types of visions, prophetic experiences, which any enlightened one can access in themselves if they cease being machines. But learning to work with exercises like runes, charging energy in our temple, our mind, our heart, our body, so that the consciousness is awake, even when the physical body is asleep, we therefore can learn to access the internal dimensions and have that face to face contact and receive wisdom from our own inner divinity, our own inner Being.
The Heavenly Human Being
So we will talk about this image in the Kabbalist tradition; it is Adam Kadmon, the heavenly man, the heavenly, spiritual, enlightened being, a symbol of our own inner divinity. And he has around his chest and genitalia the solar system and the zodiac, representing that our true identity is universal, is cosmic, and that our terrestrial identity only constitutes a very small portion of who we genuinely are, of what we are. This image is the Being, and that perfect Being, that perfect archetype, is divine love, is selflessness, is compassion. And he knows how to govern all the forces of the universe, in himself, for others.
We all have that potential, to create something so divine that it can govern worlds, planets, suns, galaxies, but in order to reach that point, we have to learn what in us is mechanical, is habitual, is negative, is demonic. So this symbol represents, with one foot on the earth and one foot in the waters, a being that has conquered himself or herself, where the physical body is the earth, is in full control by the Being, by divinity. Likewise, the waters are the energies of the body; the mind, the heart fully circulate, perfectly, purely, divinely. And then likewise the fire and light of creation, the powers of the heart and the air of the mind, are in full subservience to that divine truth, representing how our mind, our heart, our feeling, our thinking, our ways of acting, are in full reflection of our own inner God, the Being, the truth. So the human being, the human machine, can channel all the divine energy of the cosmos in order to help others, out of selflessness, out of compassion.
So the following quote is from a book called The Narrow Way by Samael Aun Weor, where he explains how the heavenly human being is inside of us, and that he reflects all of the divine principles of the cosmos.
If we vividly imagine in a clear and precise manner the resplendent and elongated body of the Solar System, we will see all of its beautiful coverings and intertwined threads that were formed by the marvelous traces of the planets. Then, from such a receptive state, the living image of the human organism (with its skeletal, lymphatic, arterial, nervous, etc., systems) will come into our minds. Without a doubt the constitution of the human organism is also constituted and reunited in a similar manner.
So we learn through meditation, runes, yoga, how to work with energy, how to work with that force known as Christ, so as to liberate the soul from its conditions, from its suffering. And in that way, it reflects the universe, as the Gnostics reiterate the statement from the oracle of the temple of Delphi, “Man know thyself, and you will know the universe and the Gods.”
We have to know ourselves, know our limitations, and transform them. So these energies of the cosmos are within the human machine, all the energies of the galaxies, the stars, the planets, circulate through us. But typically, we do not have any awareness of it. And so by learning to accustom our body to mantras, sacred sounds, prayer, meditation, we can learn to channel that directly and become conscious of that force―we transform our life, our daily experience.
We cease going to work for jobs we hate, suffering the afflictions of life, by learning to face the greatest adversities and circumstances with patience, with serenity and with love for others, without fear or uncertainty, without egotism, without pain.
The Three Brains
But to reach that point, we must work with these distinct forms of energy in us, in which we find are presented in what we call (in Gnostic psychology) as the three brains.
So typically, we know from science that we have a physical brain in the cranium, a very superficial understanding. Esoterically-speaking, a brain is a machine that processes energies within the physical brain itself, but also within our nervous systems, such as our heart. Our brain is a form of intelligence, a form of knowing, or a means by which we can process cosmic, intelligent forces that permeate space.
The physical brain is the physical manifestation of the psychic apparatus known as the intellectual brain. It’s a machine. The physical brain processes thought, but it is not the originator of thought, because mind, thought, exists in other dimensions, which are internal, which we can verify by learning to awaken our consciousness. Such as in dreams, as I stated, where physically, your body is asleep, but you are thinking and doing other things outside the body, in the astral dimension, the mental dimension, or in other planes of experience, which are not vague or amorphous states, but concrete realities.
So the brain is merely a machine. It processes thought. It expresses thought, that which is internal, into the physical plane.
But we also have an emotional brain, because the emotions are a profound form of intelligence, which is not necessarily material.
We live in our world of emotions more than anything, typically, although we cannot necessarily point physically anywhere except for the heart. We feel something emotional, profound, strong, whether it be love or anger, or our pride is hurt. We say, “I am hurt,” and we point towards our chest, because that is the physical location of where we experience emotion. But that emotion is not limited to physical matter. We find it in the internal dimensions, where in the dream state, the astral plane is the world of emotions. We learn to perceive in those worlds with cognizance, lucidity, with direct perception, but the emotional brain processes profound energies relating to the heart, which can express the most divine sentiments, the most pure love, the most profound understanding.
The last brain is known as the motor-instinctive-sexual brain. It is a combination of movement, instinct, and sexual drive, which, those elements in us tend to be very mechanical, habitual, egotistical, and that brain itself is located throughout our spine.
The motor brain or the aspect of movement relates to the top of our spine. We also have the sexual glands, which is where we process sexual desire, which in us tends to be very lustful and conditioned, but even that energy can be used for divinity, if done with purity and love, cognizance. And then instinct, relating to the base of the spine, our most instinctual nature, that is where we find instinct, such as reactions.
A boxer who is in a ring, who gets into a fight, he is moving instinctually. He is using the motor brain, and he is using instincts to react or to respond to the opponent. So if we put our hand on a hot stove and we get burned, we place our hand off the stove, and then we think later how the pain of that experience emerged. First came instinct. It was quick, spontaneous, and thought came after the emotional pain of saying, “I was hurt.” But these different brains have different forms of energy and speed by which those forces manifest and act in us.
The Three Nervous Systems and Cosmic Laws
We also find that these three brains with their nervous systems help to process what we call the law of seven and the law of three within our interior. We spoke briefly about the law of seven, which is how the universe is organized in creation: seven planets within alchemy, alchemical traditions; seven archangels; seven virtues; seven defects or vices; the seven capital sins. It is a way of organizing and understanding nature. And we find that law of seven manifest in us through the seven chakras of our spine.
The law of three relates to creation. How does one create not only physically, but spiritually, and vise versa? The law of three is simply the law of affirmation, the law of negation, the law of reconciliation, which we find within our three brains. We have affirmation relating to thought. We have negation relating to the heart. We have reconciliation relating to our motor-instinctive-sexual qualities. And these three brains are our spiritual temple, which, if we learn to use this machine well, we can manifest God the Being in us.
Affirmation negation, reconciliation is also referenced and referred to by the teachings of Tantra in the east, in Buddhism. And in Buddhism they talk about how husband and wife, man and woman, can work together to transform the sexual energy, the motor-instinctive-sexual brain, and that energy itself, in order to awaken all the full powers of divinity in us through the awakening Kundalini, which we do in sparks, gradually, by working on the vowel S.
We did the seven runes, the seven vowels, which for those listening online, you can access on glorian.org a video instructing students how to perform these seven vowels, these seven runes. But again man is affirmation, woman is negation, and when they reunite sexually, spiritually-speaking, they reconcile each other in order for that energy to awaken in them.
And so that power is very profound, very liberatory, but if it is not harnessed well, it can also lead to one’s damnation.
So these three brains channel all the forces of the cosmos and relate to the law of three and the law of seven, because by working with our three brains, with mantra, with prayer, with meditation, we work with the seven chakras of our spine and awaken everything in us that is divine.
So this quote is from The Narrow Way by Samael Aun Weor, where he explains about the role of these physical brains themselves:
The human organism possesses seven superior glands and three nervous systems. The Law of Seven and the Law of Three intensely work within the human machine.
In our first lecture, we talked about how we are souls with intellect. The word animal comes from the Latin anima, soul, “to animate.” And it is very easy to see that in our life, we may have elements relating to the animal kingdom: pride, anger, vanity, fear, laziness, gluttony, etc., so, therefore, we are animal souls with intellect, with the capacity to rationalize, judge. But there is a higher kingdom available to the spiritual practitioner or meditator, known as a true human being, which is developed in oneself gradually, by learning to work with the three brains.
“The cerebral spinal nervous system produces very seldom conscious functions,” meaning: we may think and rationalize that we are awake, but if we are driving our car, thinking of our fiancé, our friend, our neighbor, and we get into an accident, it means that we are asleep, spiritual-speaking, consciously-speaking. We are not very aware of our body or ourselves throughout any given day, but that brain can learn to help us stay spiritually awake if we charge it with good energy.
The sympathetic nervous system marvelously stimulates the unconscious and instinctual functions.
So again, this parasympathetic nervous system relates to the motor-instinctual-sexual brain, the cerebral spinal nervous system with the intellectual brain, and the sympathetic nervous system with the emotional brain.
So the parasympathetic or vagus system helps to reconcile all the forces of the other brains, because by learning to work with creative energies, of life, the sexual energy in oneself, we have the greatest potential for change, for transformation, because that energy can awaken or create a physical child, a human being, a person. So that power which can create can also be used for divinity, if we know how to use it well and with purity.
Thus, we are totally accurate when affirming (without fear of being mistaken) that these three nervous systems represent the Law of Three, the Three Primary Forces within the human machine. Likewise, the seven endocrine glands and their secretions represent the Law of Seven with all of their musical scales. ―Samael Aun Weor, The Narrow Way
The Tree of Life
So we know in numerology that there are seven notes, seven musical scales in relation to this law of organization, and the law of three relates to the three primary forces of any universe, which we find represented by this image known as the Tree of Life.
This image is not the soul patrimony of Judaism, but it does relate to every religious and spiritual tradition. It is a map of consciousness, from the very heights of the divine to the most material; from the most energetic and subtle to the most manifest. We see the top trinity above represents three forces in nature known as, in Christianity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; or if we want to use the Nordic mythology: Oden, Baldur, Thor; amongst the Egyptians: Osiris, Horus, Isis, that energy descends throughout creation into more manifest levels of expression, which we find represented in these seven levels of energy, but also matter.
We find at the very bottom this physical world, which relates to mechanical energy, simply the energy of being able to move. Above that, we have vital energy, relating to the vital body, which is a form of matter and energy that is not physical, but etheric. Sometimes, if waking up in the morning, we may have more or less energy through our day, which relates to how vital we are, our vital forces, which saturate and permeate throughout the physical body, internally, to give us life. If there were no vital body, there would be no life physically. If you are familiar with the Kirlion camera, you can find images of hands or butterflies or stones that have an aura. That is the vital body or the vital depth of our physical expression.
But above that, we have more subtle forms of energy. We have emotional energy relating to the astral dimension, the heart. Likewise, we have mental energy relating to the mind, which is the mental plane, the mental world. Above that, we volitional energy relating to willpower, which is very subtle.
We say some people have a certain will to exist and to succeed in life and some who do not. It is easy to see physical energy or physicality, to sense our vital forces, and to be aware more or less of our emotions and our mental states, but it is very difficult and more profound to examine willpower, volition, which is above mind, above thinking, above emotions.
Above that, we have conscious energy relating to our soul, and then beyond that, we have spiritual energy relating to our Being, our inner God, our spirit: Hum.
So this map shows the universe, but also inside of us, because the human being, the human machine, is a microcosmos, a miniature universe that reflects the macrocosmos, the universe at large. But above that, we have the three primary forces, which is much more subtle and profound and very difficult for people to even conceive of.
We can see that if we sit to meditate, usually people do not even get past the physical body, because the body tends to be fidgeting or agitated, ill at ease. If one maintains one’s posture, one’s asana, the practitioner may become more aware of the energies in the body, the vital forces, and as the body and mind settle, we start to sense emotion, mind. But beyond that there is willpower, which is our human potential, our human soul, which if we learn to develop through exercises like runes, prayer, meditation, that willpower becomes fortified, strong, so that it can conquer the afflictions of mind and heart and obey the higher forms of the Tree of Life, the consciousness above, and the spirit.
Our will tends to be very egotistical, selfish, inverted, and egotism, ego the “I,” “my anger, my pride, my fear, my laziness, my hatred, my blasphemy, my vengeance, my resentment,” that is selfish will. But we can develop conscious will in our spiritual discipline, to cease being machines, and can learn to obey divinity above, which is symbolized in the Passion of Jesus where he says, “Father, if this is possible, take this cup of bitterness from me, but not my will, but thine be done.” That is a type of willpower known as Christic will, Christ will, which is selfless of egotism, but knows how to act in every circumstance of life for the benefit of others.
The Law of Seven and the Musical Scale
We also find the law of seven represented in the musical scale. These notes: Do, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, La, Ti, relate to the dimensions of the Tree of Life and the creation of the full human being, a spiritually enlightened one, a master.
The lower three notes: Do, Re, Mi, relate to our three brains. We have the instinctual center, the emotional center, and the intellectual center. This represents mechanical humanity, because people tend to engage in life, mechanically-speaking. Usually, some people are more intellectual, and some people are more emotional. Some people are more instinctual; they are always acting; they are always moving; they never sit still.
Instinctual types of people never understand the emotional or intellectual types, because they always need to move to do something. The emotional types never understand the intellectual or the instinctual types of people because they always want to feel through the heart. But the intellectuals never understand the emotional or instinctual types of people because they are always rationalizing everything. So these lower three types of people constitute, in the Bible, the tower of Babel, babble, gibberish, and represents our psychological predisposition to act in life mechanically.
These three brains, these three notes, are represented in Alice in Wonderland by the Mad Hatter, the Queen of Hearts, and the White Rabbit. Those are symbols of psychological truths.
The Mad Hatter is crazy, is in love with his theories; intellectually-speaking, he always tries to solve things with the intellect, but spiritually-speaking, it is empty of any meaning; it is gibberish; it is insane.
The Queen of Hearts is always angry, saying “Off with her head!” because the emotional type of person is always very violent in the emotional center; the emotional brain is always very negative.
And the instinctual type of person, the White Rabbit, is always saying, “I am late, I am late, for a very important date!” and is always running around doing things without any type of cognizance, and that is mostly us.
We all have these qualities inside, but we tend to lean towards one brain or the other in a malfunctioning way. And the way that we learn to see that these three brains are imbalanced in us is by learning self-observation and working with energy.
But above these lower three notes, we have superior types of beings relating to the notes Fa, Sol, La, Ti.
We have the fourth type of human being, a real human being, a balanced person who knows how to use the intellect, the emotions, and the instinctual qualities of the body, for the spirit.
It is interesting that the note Fa relates to the awakening of consciousness, because there is another rune which we did not perform, in which we face the east. Our left hand above our right, we imagine the energies of the Solar Logos, the solar light, the Christ entering the chakras of our palms, down through our arms in the form of the letter F amongst the Nordics. The first letter of the Nordic alphabet is F, from Futhark, and with that we learn to receive the divine, and we say a prayer:
“Marvelous forces of love, revive my sacred fire, so that my consciousness will awaken!” You do the notes Fa, Fe, Fi, Fo, Fu; you pronounce those prolonged. And we learn to work with the note Fa, the rune of the Fa-ther, in order to cease being machines, so we can transmute that energy consciously and be aware spiritually-speaking.
The note Sol, the sun, relates to a heart or emotional state that is spiritual, that is divine, which we say is solar, is Christic, is eternal.
We also have a type of mind that is solar relating to the note La, and a type of willpower, a type of causality relating to the human consciousness, relating to the note Ti―Fa, Sol, La, Ti.
Willpower, Conscious Shocks, and Deviation
And notice that there are two shocks relating to the awakening of consciousness, where we cease being mechanical beings, that are intellectual, emotional, or instinctual, but through working with runes and energy, we spark the consciousness and acquire balance of these three brains.
But even there is more work to achieve, in which after attaining equilibrium, psychologically-speaking, through self-observation, through meditation, we learn to create what are known as solar vehicles, relating to the internal dimensions. Some people talk about astral bodies, mental bodies, causal bodies in philosophical literature. These bodies need to be created in oneself. They are never given to us by nature, mechanical forces; they are given to us when we create them in what is known as the perfect matrimony, through a marriage, of which we will be explaining in this course later on.
I just want to synthesize that these notes tend to deviate in us; there is a type of willpower needed in order to attain a conscious shock, a spiritual shock, in which we realize that, consciously-speaking, we are not very attentive awake, aware. So we work with the runes, the Rune Fa, the seven vowels, in order to spark consciousness, because if we examine our mind, we find that we tend to be distracted, as I said.
These seven notes play a very important part in spiritual development because if there were no type of organization in the cosmos or the seven notes themselves, it means that any type of project we engage in would automatically fulfill itself without our imposition, without our agency, without our will, but instead, because energy is needed, willpower is needed to act in life, to attain any type of goal. We find that things tend to never be completed.
I would like to relate to you a quote from P. D. Ouspensky from the Fourth Way, which explains how this law of seven governs everything and why it is important that in these type of spiritual studies, we work with energy to awaken consciousness, because we will never be able to experience divinity mechanically, by hoping for it, by wanting it. There has to be a type of action, spiritual discipline, and practice in ourselves if we wish to have that experience, because if this law of seven did not exist, things would result mechanically naturally. That is why in any spiritual tradition, they always taught that if one wants to know the Being, the truth, they have to practice certain rituals and prayers and exercises so that they have energy to do so, to awaken, otherwise things would just happen through evolution.
And we do not accept that people will attain self-realization through evolution, through mechanical hopes. They occur in us through a type of concerted effort inside.
The reason why it is necessary to understand the Law of Seven is that it plays a very important part in all events. If there were no Law of Seven everything in the world would go to its final conclusion, but because of this law everything deviates…
So what does it mean that things deviate? We may have the willpower to finish a project related to work, but then we get distracted, we do something else, or we think that we are doing the same thing, but really are thinking of other things. And that all relates to the lower three qualities of the soul: the intellectual, the emotional, and the instinctual types of people who only engage in projects, but always never finish, or think they are doing something else, but really, in reality, the mind changes, thoughts change, emotions change; they are always fluctuating, and nothing is ever completed.
But by learning to work with this musical scale, by working with the seven chakras, the seven notes of the spinal column, we create a shock in ourselves and learn to remember divinity in every moment of our life.
The Laconic Action of the Being
So that type of development relates to what we call the laconic action of the Being. We included an image of the galaxy in order to refer to our true nature, the spirit, the Being.
The Being, the divine, is pure action without conditions, without limitations, and is the force that governs all of the cosmos in us, because of our egotism, our egos, our mistaken sense of self, again, we tend to react mechanically to life, mistakenly, unconsciously, asleep. And therefore, this is why we state that in strict esoteric language, because of the ego, we are mechanical beings.
We do not know how to do things; life simply happens to us. Circumstances are difficult. We react. We do not respond with consciousness, with intentionality. We tend to respond with anger, fear, violence, resentment, etc., the whole conglomeration of defects we possess. But if we learn to remember divinity, to self-observe ourselves, and to awaken our consciousness, then we can learn to have the Being expressed through us, perfectly, so that He transforms any situation for the benefit of everyone.
Personally, I work in a job that is very difficult. I work with clients who are very challenging, who are very troubled, who suffer a lot and make other people suffer. And personally, I have had to work with this law of the scale, working with runes to charge my temple with energy, so that consciously-speaking, I could learn to respond to my enemies, who are my own clients, with love. And in that way, learn to change and transform the situation so that they are no longer responding to me with resentment, or pride, or anger, or even violence, but in that way develop their compassion, their harmony, their religion, because the word religion means “to reunite,” to reunite people.
It is not easy to help other people who are very afflicted with negativity when we ourselves are so burdened by so much garbage, but if we transform that within ourselves, we can learn to respond with kindness, with perfection, in which the Being, our inner truth speaks through us and guides those people who are afflicted. It could be any job, whatever our circumstances may be, and in that way, we become a vehicle that can express the perfect, laconic action of the divine.
And what does it mean to be laconic? Meaning, to be relaxed; there is no effort involved in expressing divinity. We have to do our part, to work with willpower, to settle the mind, to settle the body, settle the heart, the three brains, so that divinity can express within our centers themselves. So what is this laconic action of the Being?
The Laconic Action of the Being is the concise manifestation, the brief action, which in synthesis the Real Being of each one of us executes. This action is mathematical and exact, like a Pythagorean Table.
Those qualities are more manifest in us as we learn to comprehend the ego and eliminate it, and get rid of pride, fear, vanity, laziness, lust, desire, anger, frustration, resentment, which religion has called demons, and which we all possess, but by learning to eliminate those qualities, divinity can express through us with perfection, with love, and in that way the Being manifests and organizes our three brains, functions and manifests those energies in us, because without that energy, we cannot express divinity perfectly.
Pinocchio: The Human Machine
Otherwise, we will be a marionette, a puppet, which we find reflected in this story of Pinocchio, which is a beautiful esoteric teaching masked as a children’s story. In order to escape persecution, Carlo Collodi, who wrote that text, wrote a children’s fable in order to convey very profound esoteric truths, because all of us are like Pinocchio, a puppet.
We are influenced by cosmic radiation or influences, and more importantly, our own egotistical drives, our ego, the self, that which is: “I am, I want, I crave, I need, I desire; me, myself, and I,” which is a pluralization of self.
It is not unitary, but is multiple. Every fear, every thought, every transgression, every resentment, every sentiment, every element of fear and pride, all constitute a conglomeration of errors, defects, “I’s,” a multiplicity. And it is easy to see this in ourselves if we are observing, because in one moment, we may want to wash our dishes and then we change our mind, “I am going to go drive my car, and go to the store.” And then, “No, I think I am going to go read a book.” There is always this constant fluctuation and change of thinking, feeling and acting, which is never unitary, never the same. And people like to attribute all this to one sense of self, but through the sense of psychological self-observation, we begin to see that we are not unitary; we are multiple.
That is a very disturbing fact to realize. Pinocchio in the story recognizes this fact, and he gets very upset. He wants to become a real boy, a real man made into the flesh and blood of divinity, a true human being, a God. And the way he does it is explained very beautifully in that myth. I mean, even the Disney depiction, the film, did a decent job. It is a very long, profound tale, which we could give a whole lecture on, but I just want to mention that we are like puppets.
People can say what they want, think what they want, do what they want, and we will usually react mechanically. We are never free of slander, circumstances. Things happen to us: the weather can be bad; we wake up grumpy, our mood is altered; we feel negative. We tend to be very afflicted and victimized by circumstances. So Samael Aun Weor in The Narrow Way explains that:
The human machine (as any other machine) moves under the impulses of the subtle forces of Nature. The secret agents that move the human machines are first the cosmic radiations and second the pluralized "I.” ―Samael Aun Weor, The Narrow Way
So it is very painful to realize in oneself, but there is the possibility for change. Pinocchio literally in Tuscan means “pine seed.” It is the seed that can become a Tree of Life, perfected, a fully illuminated Christmas tree, a master of meditation, a profound Being, but as we are now, we tend to be very mechanical.
The intellectual animal is a wretched marionette, a loud speaker with memory and vitality, a living puppet entranced with the silly illusion that it can do, when indeed it cannot do anything… ―Samael Aun Weor, Fundamentals of Gnostic Education
How do we recognize this fact in ourselves? It is by observing, watching. Do not assume that we know ourselves, because every religion teaches that. If we wish to know divinity, we have to conquer ourselves, according to the origins of those traditions, not as they are taught today―by learning to observe ourselves and seeing our own contradictions that we constantly engage with day by day.
It is a terrible reality of our existence and a painful one. But you got to remember that, “With patience, ye possess your souls,” said Jesus of Nazareth. So only the Being can do, can act, can manifest perfectly in any circumstance of life, to transform it.
…The human machine does not have any individuality; he does not have the Being. Only the true Being has the power to do. ―Samael Aun Weor, Fundamentals of Gnostic Education
So learning to differentiate between the ego and the essence, the ego and the soul, is what leads us to understanding and helps us to cease being mechanical creatures, suffering beings.
To Be or Not to Be: The Esoterism of Hamlet
So even Hamlet, in the play of his name, depicts this struggle and dilemma of “to be or not to be,” to be a human being or to be a machine. William Shakespeare, with the pen name of a certain master, explained this problem.
In the play, you find that Hamlet is seeking to avenge the death of his father, the King who was slain by his brother Claudius. It is a symbol of how our own ego had killed our inner God, meaning in us, because of our mistakes and conditions of mind. We destroyed the potential divinity in us, and as a ghost, that being comes to us haunting in the night, with inquietudes, longings, uncertainties, and the desire to study this type of spirituality, so that we can change.
But in the play, Hamlet discovers that his uncle Claudius killed his father. If you are familiar with the myths of freemasonry, Hiram Abiff was killed by three traitors. Osiris was killed by Seth in the Egyptian myth, and Horus needs to avenge him. So it is a very profound drama represented in many mythologies, many cosmogonies, many traditions.
And I will read for you and explain some of these quotes from his famous soliloquy:
To be, or not to be? That is the question―
So to be a being a true human being or to be a machine, that is the question. Either we can face our circumstances consciously, with hope, with diligence, with faith and our inner divinity, or we can suffer through life mechanically, and degenerate and suffer.
To die, to sleep―
So people always contemplate death, so much suffering. Suffering as a machine, but there is also a form of esoteric death, death of the ego, death of pride, death of fear. And people always wonder: if I annihilate my ego, what will I be? Who will I be? What am I? Who am I? What is my identity? And the reality is that the true identity is the Being, the cosmic human, the Christ.
To die, to sleep.
People are always afraid of the afterlife, of some conception, of some other world, in which they will go to if they lead a good life or a bad life. It is a very superficial understanding. It is true that in nature, we gravitate to places based on our level of being. If we are negative, we will return or will result in negative experiences, entering into states of suffering, whether it may be another body, in relation to transmigration or devolution, destruction within negative states, negative dimensions known as hell hell realms.
People always contemplate death, but do not really know what will happen when they die, where they will go, what they will be, and likewise, people fear the death of desire, the mind, the ego. They fear, “What will I be if I do not exist, my name, my language, my culture, my race, my beliefs, my religion?” But people who identify with the mind, the ego, feed it, strengthen it.
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
So what is the point, he is asking, of going through this life as an animal, as a machine, as a puppet, if one does not strive to become the Being, to manifest the Being in oneself, perfectly, otherwise it is vanity.
Who would fardels bear,
So again, the afterlife scares people: they do not know where they will be, where they will go, what they will become, but if people awaken their consciousness, they will know. We can know. We can experience it.
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,
So this is a reference to the law of the scale, the law of the seven, of organization, and how actions deviate when there is no consistency, consciousness, or awakening. So we must learn to cease being mechanical beings, and that means by learning to transform our psychological states, here and now, who we are, moment by moment.
Internal States and External Events
Those who know how to consciously combine the external event with the appropriate interior state are very rare. When one wants to separate external events from the internal states of consciousness, one demonstrates concretely his incapacity of existing in a dignified manner.
…to act with the essence, the consciousness, the soul, and not with the ego. The best weapon is a correct state because, with that, we can transform difficult circumstances.
We are being criticized, being gossiped about, and lied to; we do not respond with anger, but with kindness, by knowing how to establish boundaries with people, firmly, for the benefit of them and ourselves. And we cease being victims of life.
It is possible to transform mechanical reactions through logical confrontation and the intimate Auto-reflection of the Being. ―Samael Aun Weor, Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology
The self-reflection of the Being―with meditation, confronting ourselves logically, and examining our daily states, reflecting on them seeing them, understanding them. So that through understanding, we can eliminate that which is impure, in order to let the Being shine in us.
So the Sufis also talk about this teaching very beautifully. They are the mystics of Islam. I found a beautiful quote from a scripture called Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri, where he explains how the gnostic, the true spiritual human being, is a person who knows how to adapt to life, instant by instant, moment by moment.
When al-Junayd was asked about the gnostic, he replied, "The color of the water is the color of its container." That is, the nature of the gnostic is always determined by the nature of his state at a given moment. ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
So psychologically-speaking, we are always changing. Thoughts change, emotions change, moods change, the body changes, everything is in fluctuation; nothing is static; nothing is in repose. And by learning to observe ourselves, consciously-speaking, as an essence, as a soul, we learn to comprehend how to annihilate desire, the ego.
As we see in this image of Mary Magdalene praying before a candle in a mirror. That light is the soul in which she contemplates the elimination of her own desires, her defects, her vices, a beautiful symbol of transformation.
The Five Centers of the Human Machine
So we talk about the three brains. We could also break down these three brains as five centers: the intellectual, the emotional, and the motor-instinctive-sexual, the latter three constituting one brain: the brain of action, as compared to the brain of thought and the brain of feeling.
So the ego, the “I,” the self, manifests in our thoughts, our emotions, our movements, our instincts, and our sexuality. From The Perfect Matrimony by Samael Aun Weor, he explains what this work entails, this work of self-transformation.
The "I" exercises control over the five inferior centers of the human machine. [...] Whosoever wants to dissolve the "I" must study its functionalism within the five inferior centers. We must not condemn the defects; we must not justify them either. What is important is to comprehend them. It is urgent to comprehend the actions and reactions of the human machine. Each one of these five inferior centers has a whole set of extremely complicated actions and reactions. The "I" works with each one of these five inferior centers. Therefore, by deeply comprehending the whole mechanism of each one of these centers, we are on our way to dissolving the "I." ―Samael Aun Weor, The Perfect Matrimony
So these centers operate in different speeds, I mentioned briefly. Some people like to think that the intellect is a very fast machine, that thought is the definition of what one is, but the intellect is a very slow mechanism compared to some of the other centers of our constitution. So the intellect, which always processes thesis and antithesis, idea / argument or idea / counter idea, it is the slowest of the human machine.
It is easy to see that if we are driving our car, and we think too much about what we are doing, we can lose control or not drive well. Or we put our hand on a hot stove, and we react instinctually, move our hand, and then we think later of the pain of that experience, because the intellect is slower and instinct is quick. It is very fast, as fast as movement.
So we state in esoterism that movement and instinct are thirty thousand times faster than the intellect, but even more difficult to control is our emotions, especially when they are very profound and negative, or afflicted with anger or resentment. It is very difficult to overcome that emotion, because that center is very quick.
It is more difficult to control emotion than it is the intellect, but even more so, our sexual center is the most profound, the quickest. It moves one hundred twenty thousand times faster than the intellect, as compared to the emotions which is sixty thousand times faster.
In movement, we find to do or not to do, our habits. With thoughts, we find thesis and antithesis. With emotion, we find like / dislike; with instinct, we find pleasurable or unpleasurable sensations. And then with sexuality, we find attraction or repulsion.
The sexual center is the quickest, because in a moment, a man and a woman can immediately register, just by seeing each other for a fraction of a second, whether they are sexually compatible, which is why certain people feel that immediate attraction upon meeting someone of the opposite sex, feeling that desire, because the sexual center is so quick.
It also is the center that could offer us the most power for liberation, because the energy that could create a physical child, if it is conserved and transformed, can give birth to a spiritual human being, a divine being.
So the ego manifests within our thoughts, our movements, our instincts, our emotions, and our sexual drives. Each ego possesses its own way of thinking, moving, acting, feeling, doing.
The Two Worlds of the Human Machine
So this path is about studying oneself in meditation, and by observing these faults, moment by moment, by learning to meditate and comprehend those errors in ourselves, we can destroy them; divinity can destroy them in us, and thereafter we enter the higher dimensions, represented by our higher states, of being represented by this Tree of Life, this last graphic.
This Tree of Lfe is the interior worlds, liberated consciousness, which is selfless love. Pure chastity, or sexual purity, does not mean abstention from sex; it means purity in sex, purity of that energy, purity of the divine, sincere humility, selfless diligence, selfless generosity, conscious temperance, genuine happiness for others.
But there are also inverted qualities of the soul known as the ego, which are the inverted spheres of this Tree of Life. This is known as Klipoth in Hebrew, which means the world of shells; this is the hell realms mentioned in every single tradition and religion, which is not necessarily just a place in nature. More importantly, it represents for us our qualities of being, who we are psychologically, because what we are psychologically attracts our life, whether for good or for ill. So that conditioned consciousness, the ego, is constituted by the many “I’s,” greed, laziness, lust, anger, pride, gluttony, envy, self-esteem, etc.
We talked previously about the personality, the ego, and the essence. The personality we find here represented in the exterior world, that is our language, our custom, our religion, our traditions, our personality: who we are physically, how we interact with life, with people.
A person with a personality from the Roman Empire would not be able to fit in because that type of energetic interface is from a different culture, a different time. So the personality is born with time, dies in time, is not eternal. It goes to the grave whenever we die in the path and process of transmigration of souls.
The human machine, therefore, is our intellect, our emotions, our movements, our instincts, and our sexuality, which by learning to understand these qualities in our self, by seeing them in action through self-observation, we can cease being puppets, cease acting on negative qualities of mind, so that we can act for the benefit of others with compassion.
Do you have any questions?
Questions and Answers
Audience: What are the same systems related to a woman?
Instructor: So, in terms of the five centers, man and woman both have intellect, emotion, movement, instinct, and sexuality. The difference is in terms of the sexual center, which is polarized either as masculine or feminine. And as we were explaining in brief, for husband and wife, or man and woman as a couple, can learn to take the energies of the sexual center and transform themselves through specific procedures―not engaging in the sexual act as everybody knows, but in a different way.
This is the meaning of Jesus saying, “you must be born again of water and spirit. That which is born of the flesh” through physical act of sexuality “is flesh, but that which is born of spirit,” the same sexual act, harnessed by husband and wife, with love, with purity, with divine compassion, that can create spirit.
So the sexual act can either liberate or destroy, but those centers are the same for either husband or wife, but the sexual energy is obviously going to be polarized differently. And that energy, when it is combined intelligently, in a good match, and also with love, more importantly, that helps to accelerate one’s transformation, which we teach in certain lectures on tantrism, or what we call the perfect matrimony, which you can visit on our website Chicagognosis.org, but also we have books online that you can read or books here that teach that process.
Audience: What about the association of the affirmative versus the negation?
Instructor: Sure, so affirmation is masculine, as the man projects, puts forward, does, acts, wills. Woman receives. We find this physically, and we find this even in some temperaments, not always, but in some temperaments. Negation is woman because she receives from the man, you know physically-speaking, but also in a spiritual sense too.
Reconciliation is when husband and wife are united together. They reconcile each other. They complement each other. Those energies complement and build and create spiritual force inside the couple, specifically.
We also find affirmation is whenever we affirm a certain idea. We want to do something, but then negation is when we face resistance, and that happens in any aspect of life, like at work, at one’s job―any circumstance. And that relates to the law of the musical scale in the human machine, because whenever we want to begin this type of spiritual work, to be in practices, to be inspired, to want to change, we have that enthusiasm in the beginning, very strong, but then there is a resistance of the mind, the ego, the self, the negative qualities of pride and vanity and laziness and all of our defects, which present that type of resistance.
And then the way that one overcomes that resistance of the mind is learning to meditate, learning to work with the force of comprehension, observing oneself moment by moment, day by day, so that whenever we face a problem in life or a certain quality in ourselves that we do not like, we learn to see it for what it is and not act on it. But then later we go home and reflect, imagine that scene, visualize it, and then in that way we learn to try to comprehend that condition of self that creates our problems, our sufferings.
In that way we learn to destroy, little by little, anger, pride, vanity, all of that. It is eliminated, and then the soul that was trapped in those defects, the virtues of the soul, are extracted like the genie from Aladdin’s lamp, so that the genie, the spirit-soul, can make miracles in our life. So not necessarily miracles like walking on water, but changing circumstances to the point that we no longer react mechanically to situations, with problems, or suffer so much. We have difficulties, but we would not identify so much, or waste energy being invested in what other people think or say or do, but being a law to ourselves for the benefit of others.
Audience: Then, negation receives?
Instructor: Well, negation is just a law of nature. We have those three forces. We may affirm something and then we face the resistance, and usually people tend to go between these two binaries in life, whether in politics, two political parties fighting one another, people believing a religion or being atheist, and always conflicting with each other―never understanding one another. This is mechanical, machines. This is what puppets do: get identified with the mind, which is thesis and antithesis, good / bad, yes / no.
But somebody that is very comprehensive and spiritual can look at those perspectives and say, “Well, both of you are right and both of you are wrong, because there is something more profound here which you can analyze.”
There is always a pendulum that people swing between. It puts people to sleep. Consciously-speaking, you find it in political movements; you find it in religions; you find it in schools; you find it in the home, in the bedroom. You find it everywhere―duality. But the way that you overcome the afflictions of the mechanicity of life is learning to comprehend our own conditions of mind, seeing them first. Observe the ego. As the soul, observe the mind, the body, the heart, instinct, movement, everything. Be vigilant. Be awake. Be aware and study yourself, and little by little, you gain comprehension and learn to change things in life that were once very tragic and terrible into something divine. That is the meaning of transformation.
Audience: What is the best way to not be reactionary?
Instructor: So there is a lot of things you can do. Personally when I am at work, my clients come at me very angry. I deal with very absurd people, but I thank them, because they help me see my own absurdities, because I cannot judge them. I cannot judge my clients.
People are very afflicted, with a lot of problems, socially, economically, culturally, physically. They are just in a very bad place. I am there helping them. I was put there by my inner divinity, lead to that situation, that job, so that I could learn to develop things in myself for their benefit, because I have had my clients throw things at me and assault me and try to harm me. Very difficult, but in those moments, I have learned to reflect and I have been successful every time by patiently examining myself: what in me is so offended by what this person is saying to me? Why should I identify with what this person is saying? And then in the moment, I have gained comprehension by reflecting in a very Buddhist way, Mahayana way, the Mahayana tradition of Buddhism of which the Dalai Lama teaches, is that these people are suffering so much. They are trapped in hell. They are burning with passion, afflicted by their own mind, their ego. Why get mad at fire for being hot? They cannot help it. No one has ever taught them how to be human beings.
Audience: Do not hate the sinner. Hate the sin.
Instructor: Yeah, point out the sin and say, well, you know you could be compassionate to the person. I do this all the time, and I say “Look, I do not judge you. I like who you are, but you cannot be doing this here.” I just point out that I am there to help build themselves, their identity, not reject them and be very firm.
You can be firm spiritually, but not overbearing, or not be kind and be a doormat. But the way you learn to transform those situations is by reflecting in yourself and saying, “Well, these people do not know any better.” Like the Qur’an teaches: these are people who do not know. They have no understanding, so why get mad at someone who does not know? They are afflicted, and they cannot help it. They are puppets driven by forces that they have no comprehension of, and therefore I look at myself and say “Well, I have been a puppet most of my life. How could I judge someone and think I am better? In fact, I think I am worse, because I have this knowledge and its difficult to live up to that type of teaching, but it can be done.”
It just takes a lot of willpower, working with a lot of energy: runes, exercises, prayer, mantras. And then when you face those situations in yourself that are very challenging, whether people are really testing you, you got to remember that when you are working with yourself, divinity will put you in situations that are hard. Not to punish, but to help train. So that we can train ourselves, and then when those people are very negative, I just try to remember, “Well, I try to comprehend the person, put myself in their shoes,” which is why Samael Aun Weor says in Revolutionary Psychology, “Cruelty will always continue to exist on this earth as long as we refuse to put ourselves into the shoes of others.” Because people have their reasons for why they are mad. I tell my clients, “Yeah, you have a right to be mad.”
Audience: It's the extent that there's a physical danger. I guess it could be psychological. How close do you get to that fire, or you get used to it by getting closer every time?
Instructor: Well, the ordeals will always manifest in levels and levels and levels of training. They get more intense the further we go along in this type of work, but divinity, like in the Bible says, will only give us challenges that we can handle, so we can change.
If everything was too hard and we got everything we deserved in one moment, we would be annihilated. But divinity is very merciful. The Being is very merciful, but little by little, we learn to how to go into the fire without being burned. That is the myth of Nebuchadnezzar and the three figures, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, where they were put into a fire by king Nebuchadnezzar because they did not obey him and they were untouched by the fire. It is a symbol of how you go through ordeals in life that are very traumatizing, but come out clean. It is a matter of patience.
Audience: I think about it as a spiritual fire, but I guess my question is that the actual physical aspect of someone wants to fight you or kill you.
Instructor: Well, you know you can train yourself to defend yourself. Being kind does not mean being a doormat as I said. I have had people try to come at me before. You know I train in martial arts.
Audience: You like a psychiatric aid?
Instructor: No, but I will not say over the radio what I do. I do not want people to find me. No, I mean, I work with people who are very difficult, very negative, but I love my job. They are helping me, and when my clients see that I really care for them, that I do not judge them, they flock to me, because they are so used to being judged and condemned. You know we have to learn to understand people.
Audience: Even if you could suspend for a short month, stay there a bit longer.
Instructor: Well, life is a process, and jobs are temporary, so it is always good to learn to face one’s circumstances with a sense of moral responsibility, meaning: not act on ego, but act from the soul. Any other questions? Thank you for coming.
We have been discussing the nature of consciousness. What does it mean to perceive, to understand, to know?―the mysteries of life and death, in a very direct, cognizant manner based on facts, based on direct experiential wisdom born from precise methods.
We spoke abundantly in our last lecture about different states of consciousness, different qualities, and how, in our daily experience, we witness and suffer in many egotistical qualities, many defects which have been categorized in religion as sin or as demonic qualities. So those mythical figures in red with horns and a pitchfork and a long tail are symbols of psychological states, like anger, like resentment, like fear.
But also, just as we have negative states, we also have positive states, divine qualities born from the consciousness, known as serenity, compassion, peace.
We denominated those divine, unconditioned qualities as the essence, as the pure soul which needs to work in order to overcome the conditions of the mind, which make us suffer. And if anyone approaches any type of spirituality, it is because they feel in their heart the need and the longing to know divinity. But also, more importantly, to cease suffering, to cease being in pain.
It is an illusion of the senses to want to blame the external world, our politics, our governments, our schools, our institutions. And it is ironic that we like to fluctuate from job to job, from career to career, marriage to marriage, expecting that we will find some type of happiness by accumulating materialism, goods, bank accounts. But sadly, we fail to acknowledge how we ourselves are carrying the psychological disease of suffering with us wherever we go. And so, while we like to change things externally, it is rare for someone to want to introspect and examine our own negative states to see where is the source of suffering within our mind, within our heart, within our body.
The Sufi poet Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī taught that “It is not your duty to seek love but merely to find the obstacles we place in the way in front of it.” That love, that pure divinity, is our own inner Being, which religion has called God, but we use the term Being to be more specific, as a psychological state, a quality of consciousness. That divinity is inside within our heart, if we know how to access through meditation, through awareness. But unfortunately, due to the hypnosis of the senses, we tend to go through life in a very unconscious manner, not knowing what that divinity is.
Again we like to externalize, and religious institutions have indoctrinated millions to believe that by following a system, by believing in some external God, one will find a way out of suffering. But the facts have arrived to acknowledge that this is not the case. We carry suffering within us, and if we wish to know those divine qualities, we have to learn to see what in us makes us suffer, to examine our psychological states with consciousness, with perception.
That consciousness, that essence, that soul, is the most noble, charitable qualities we carry within, which is a reflection of divinity, but in us that quality tends to be weak. It is not strengthened enough; it is not developed. And so this path of transformation is about learning to understand and to see our own defects, our faults. So by confronting them in a very direct manner, we learn to liberate the soul and develop our full potential, because as I stated in our last lecture, our consciousness is trapped in each defect that we carry within―within anger, within fear, within pride, within arrogance, within blasphemy. Qualities that we like to ignore in ourselves, but which we learn to see as we are practicing the science of meditation.
We begin to see when we sit to practice that the mind is thinking of other things. We may be surging with anxieties, emotions, passions. Our body may be agitated. We are filled with conflict and with complexity. We rarely have a sense of simplicity and beauty, but the more we learn to practice this type of science, we develop the soul. Or as Jesus of Nazareth taught, “With patience possess ye your souls.” So it comes about by work, by transforming our own states of suffering into divine qualities.
This has been known as alchemy, to transform the impure lead of the soul into the gold of the spirit. It is not a literal teaching of medieval alchemists trying to transform physical lead into gold, but it is something psychological and divine. How we transform, in meditation, anger into love, fear into security, doubt into direct knowledge, and faith, because real faith is when we see the truth for ourselves. We don’t rationalize. We don’t speculate. We don’t fear, we don’t doubt, but we know what divinity is and that light learns to guide us in our most difficult circumstances of life when we are faced with problems, with conflicts, with ordeals. So divinity helps those who help themselves. And the method of learning to develop that potential is learning to observe oneself.
Essence, Ego, and Personality
So we talked about the essence, the soul, the consciousness. We talked about the ego, which is our defects, that multiplicity of errors and conflicting elements that surge within any moment of our experience―resentment, pride, hatred, fear, gluttony, laziness, lust. Then we also talked about the personality: how we interact in our society; our language, our name, our race, our culture, our habits. So as I stated previously, the personality is like a mask, from the Latin persona meaning “mask,” how we relate to humanity as an interface, through which we experience all the comedies, dramas, and tragedies of life, because our defects tend to pull us in many directions.
As I stated also, that we tend to be complex people with many contradictions, many errors, but there is a way to transform all that, to transform suffering, to transform wrong psychological states which produce conflict and discord. In order to achieve this transformation, to gain self-knowledge, to know how to experience the divine is a matter of learning to awaken our full potential: our consciousness, the soul, because there is the illusion that somehow we are awake.
It is true that we have a state of consciousness in which we are perceiving life, but the question remains: how do we perceive life in its full totality within our experience? It is easy to understand that there are different states of consciousness, and when that boxer is knocked unconscious in a ring, he loses consciousness. So that is a very basic level of perception. But there are different qualities of perception, different states, different levels of being, some divine and some very diabolic; love, virtue, happiness, philanthropy, and patience. And then the inversion, which is selfishness, criminality, and desire.
If we want to learn to ascend to a higher level of being, it is important to learn what in ourselves is producing all the conflicts we experience. Of course, this introspection is very difficult because there is a lot of resistance in the mind to not want to see one’s faults. And this is why the great mythologies always depicted the great heroes like Perseus fighting Medusa, fighting a monster, and that monster is not outside, but inside, because when we are arguing with our loved ones and filled with rage, we are like Medusa with a head of serpents. And each serpent represents a different error, a different fault, and all its conglomeration of errors. And to look directly into the eyes of Medusa is to be turned to stone―not a literal meaning, but a symbol of how when we identify with anger, fear, and resentment, we become shelled; we become stone; we become that quality. And then when we cease to learn how to change, we become habitual.
We go through life mechanically on the same tracks, repeating the same mistakes, and seemingly never learning from our errors. But there is a way to break that, like Perseus; he used a shield and the reflection within in order to perceive the image of Medusa from behind him―a symbol of how we learn how to use consciousness in meditation. We observe ourselves looking through the mirror of perception in order to see our own errors. And then with the sword of insight, of meditation, of comprehension, we decapitate the animal, the beast. And then, in that way, Perseus acquires great honors; he is honored by the Gods, because he has conquered himself.
So that path of self-reflection is the path of awakening consciousness, of learning to perceive in a new way. And humanity, as it is as we are now, is asleep. We don’t know our full potential yet.
We may have had glimpses, such as in dreams and certain life experiences and in certain traumas or tragedies, in which we gained a certain insight that shaped who we are and has silently guided us through this maze of existence. The consciousness needs to be awakened. Psyche in the Greek myth was awakened by Eros, divine love, the Being. And the Bible speaks abundantly that we must awake, we must be perceptive. We must be cognizant of ourselves. We must know ourselves.
As it says in the Book of Judges (5:12), “Awake, awake, Deborah! Arise, O Barak and take thy captivity captive, O son of Abinoam.” Awake, awake! Deborah is a symbol of the soul that awakens our inner judgment. How we judge ourselves, how we change ourselves, our qualities, and escape suffering. And likewise, we learn to take captivity captive. We cease being mechanical people, by living life with more cognizance, with happiness even in the most difficult ordeals and situations.
Instead of identifying with life, we use life as a gymnasium, a training ground to gain knowledge and to know divinity. For as the Sufis teach, “He who knows himself or herself knows his Lord.” So we do not know ourselves yet in a full fundamental sense, specifically because if we knew ourselves fully, we would be present with divinity inside of us. We would be a Buddha. The word Buddha in Sanskrit means “awakened one,” to know oneself completely. And in that way, one is no longer suffering, but is in ecstasy of that pure Being which is inside―in which we gain insight little by little. But of course, in order to reach that point, we must learn to confront our inner psychological obstacles so that we can develop consciousness.
Definitions of Consciousness
So there are some very basic definitions of consciousness that serve as a platform for this lecture, for this discussion. People typically define consciousness as “the state of being aware; knowledge of one’s own existence, condition, sensations, mental operations, acts, etc.”
The question is, are we really conscious? Are we really aware of how our own negative qualities condition our states? Or do we really know the purpose of our existence in this life, the reason for being? The reason why we get up in the morning, to do what we do? Is it because we are driven by necessity, or is it because we are driven from a state of compassion for humanity, by engaging with our job, our career, for the benefit of others, with selflessness, with altruism, or are we filled with affliction going through the motions of life and hoping that we can reject or not experience pain?
That tends to be the more conditioning element in our life. We are conditioned by many things, conditioned by states of consciousness, conditioned by these negative qualities, by ego. And so the ego, the self in Latin meaning “I,” is that identity we tend to cling to which, as we stated previously, conditions the full consciousness within ourselves, our true potential.
So we may believe in a religion that we have some type of purpose in life, because Catholicism or Judaism or Buddhism or even Gnosticism says so. The reality is we find meaning in our existence by learning to connect with the Being, with divine, with the true self, who is happiness, who knows how to resolve problems without thinking, without rationalizing, without conceptualizing, but acting from a state of pure attention that is unconditioned, that is unfiltered, in which is the full presence and manifestation of divinity, the pure expression of God, the Being, the Self, or whatever name we want to give to that.
The labels do not really matter. What matters is our level of being, our qualities, who we are and how we relate to others, especially when we are faced with challenges, when we are criticized, we are gossiped about, we are lied to.
Do we retaliate? Do we seek retribution? Do we seek justice? But the question is, what is that sense of justice that we want? Who in us wants that outcome, that wants revenge, that wants payback? Most people never question this sense of self; “what I am; what I desire; what I want; what my language is, my name, my culture, my race, my customs, the food that I eat,” because we like to think that identification with these qualities makes us conscious beings.
But the reality is if we are conscious of what we are, in our fundamental depth of divinity, then we don’t make mistakes when we are awake. We are vigilant. We are attentive. We know how to respond to any conflict with equanimity, with patience, with love.
When Jesus was crucified, he only said, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do.” He didn’t want revenge. He didn’t curse or slander or gossip or complain. He was an example of a very high being who taught us a lot about the nature of psychology. That when we are confronted with great ordeals, to learn how to respond with serenity and love.
That is the state of being conscious, because our true nature, our consciousness, is selfless, is love, does not want retribution, revenge, but only wants the happiness of others, the peace of others, even onto one’s worse enemies.
So being conscious is being aware and having knowledge of one’s own existence, one’s conditions, one’s sensations, one’s mental operations. But the question remains, are we really aware of what conditions us, what limits us, what makes us weak? And in that way we learn to remove the obstacles, to change what we are, to become something divine.
So in another level, we may know that we are in a bad mood, but does that mean that we really comprehend the root of that mood, the root of that state? We may know that we are angry. We may be saturated with pain on an emotional and mental scale. But it doesn’t mean that we really understand the root of that.
If we comprehend those qualities, we no longer become the victim of those qualities. We learn to see them and separate as a consciousness, and to study the intimate process, the faults, the feelings, the volitions of each defect, each ego, each “I.” Which, as a multiplicity, traps us and conditions us.
Knowing is not the same as comprehending. We may know that alcohol and drugs will harm us. And an alcoholic or drug addict may know that their habit is wrong, and yet they continue to engage in that addiction. They suffer in that vice, they make themselves suffer, and they make others suffer. But they don’t really comprehend how that habit is destroying them.
Now that is a very extreme example. But that analogy applies to us very well. We have many habits, many states of consciousness, which are negative, and yet we are addicted to those states, to those fears, to those worries, to those angers. And so in that way, we are conditioned, we are trapped.
But comprehension is much more dynamic. Comprehension is when we know something is wrong, and we do not do it. And in that way, we develop our soul, our full potential.
It is also “the immediate knowledge or perception of the presence of any object, state, or sensation.” And the truth is, are we really aware of our surroundings, where we are, where we go? If we are driving our car and thinking of our friend, our fiancé, our job, it means that we are not attentive. We are not aware of what we are doing. It means that we are asleep as a consciousness. This is why people get into accidents. It is because they are thinking of one thing while they are driving. They are not paying attention to where they are at or what they are doing.
If we are honest, we can see that we are constantly daydreaming. We may be at work speaking with someone or listening to a lecture, and yet we are thinking of other things or comparing our ideas with what we hear and rationalizing, and debating and criticizing or something. So if we are thinking of other things but not aware of what is going on, it means that we are asleep. We are distracted.
So this is a very different definition of consciousness that is commonly believed in in these times. But if you are washing your dishes and not paying attention to what you are doing or cutting food, we can slice our finger open because we are distracted. We are not paying attention.
Likewise, “consciousness is an alert, cognizant state in which you are aware of yourself and your situation.”
How often do we go throughout our day, not even aware of our body, our breath, our physical state, not mindful of tension that we carry within? And if we sit to practice meditation, we may suddenly see that we carry all sorts of friction in ourselves, in our bodies. Which is, of course, mediated and helped by learning to relax throughout the day, breathing deep, profoundly letting go of tension, observing oneself, observing the mind, observing our heart, observing our body.
The consciousness must learn to observe, as I said in our practice, like a director of a film seeing the actor of the mind, the actor of the heart, the actor of our body, separating from those demonic qualities we were talking about, those defects, in order to develop the beauty of the soul. So this path of consciousness, of observation, is one in which we look, but without judging, without debating, where we listen to someone speak or listen to our neighbor, our friend, without wanting to say the next thing or wanting to compare or to insert our comments into the conversation, by learning to be receptive as a mind, as a consciousness.
That is an alert cognizant state symbolized in Buddhism by the Buddha meditating with a bowl facing up in order to receive impressions of life, to receive insight of new things, to not go through one’s day mechanically, repeating and daydreaming and being stuck in memories, by learning to see the new even in the most mundane circumstance, so that we receive impressions. We learn to see ourselves as we are, not as we assume to be. So this is an alert cognizant state.
The question is, are we always aware of our surroundings? This is one of the values of martial arts such as Aikido and other practices where they teach the Buddhist concept of attention and awareness, vigilance, so that if we are in danger, we can escape it, but if we are asleep thinking of other things or our friend, we could walk into an alley or be accosted, or go to a bad neighborhood. We are not paying attention to where we are, getting off on the wrong train stop, making mistakes.
People who do not pay attention, as I said, can end up dead on the road. The same principle applies spiritually, knowing what spiritual states are beneficial and those that are not, so that we can choose the right action from moment to moment.
The Powers of Consciousness
There are different powers of consciousness, of attention. Some people confuse mindfulness with attention and other dynamics of the soul. When people talk about awareness, they talk about being aware of one’s surroundings. This is a broad spatial perception in which consciousness expands. We see our surroundings. We are attentive of the color of the streets, the bricks, the moving cars, the wind, the colors of our environment. We see things with clarity, with crispness, with depth. Our consciousness is heightened and expanded. It is a light that is diffused, that fills the atmosphere, that sees all things surrounding oneself.
Attention is a little different. With awareness, when you have consciousness that is spatialized, attention is more concentrated, focused on one thing. So compare the light of a light bulb that expands out and fills the room to a flashlight. When you direct your attention to one thing, you are working with that power of consciousness, such as with concentration exercises.
Mindfulness is being attentive, being aware of oneself moment by moment, and day by day. It is the continuity of perception. So as we are learning to observe ourselves, observe our surroundings, mindfulness is when you are attentive of each state, in each moment, progressively, instant by instant, moment by moment, so that we learn to gather data about ourselves, our own faults, our own conditions of mind.
If someone is practicing this science and is driving the car, they may be attentive on the road, mindful since they got up in the morning and got in the car to go to work, and yet in a moment start thinking of another thing, thinking of a friend, and lose one’s mindfulness of what one is doing, being engaged in that thought, that daydream, that fantasy. That is what it means to lose one’s mindfulness, to lose the continuity of attention of awareness.
Visualization is a much more different quality of consciousness. It’s the ability to perceive images that are not physical. So if I tell you to imagine an apple, you can see it, you can visualize it. That’s a type of consciousness that is, in most people, undeveloped. But we do have the capacity to imagine, to perceive images that are not physical, but are psychic. That is a term used by certain French authors, called clairvoyance.
Clairvoyance is simply “clear vision.” It’s a fancy term people invented to make people confused, to feel that one does not possess a quality that one already has. Because we all have the capacity to imagine, to see images mentally, and we have exercises in this tradition where you can take a candle or a religious object, observe it, focus your concentration on it, your attention, and then in that way you close your eyes, and then you try to imagine all the details. That develops the depth and clarity of the consciousness, so that when we practice meditation, we can see what we are doing, seeing into the depths of the mind like Perseus using the shield of his imagination in order to see the image of Medusa and to confront it.
These are different qualities of consciousness, which the practitioner of meditation develops in order to gain self-knowledge.
The Technique of Self-Observation
The term observation, as you see in this image, relates to “the action or process of observing something or someone carefully to gain information.” So we see a woman staring at a mirror and seeing a hidden figure that should be visible to us in the background, but is only seen in the image in the mirror. That is a symbol of the work of self-observation, because we cannot see the self with physical senses.
Many people do like to think that they are the body. They are the brain, they are the physicality, and yet it is more true that our thoughts and our feelings have greater reality than physical objects. We invest more of our attention in ourselves in who we think we are, what we feel, what we think. So thoughts and feelings and will have a type of dimensionality that is very profound, which acts through the physical body, which we study in our courses about kabbalah, the tree of life, and the interrelationship of all the different aspects of the soul and of divinity.
But we learn to gather data about ourselves, by learning to observe ourselves, by having the courage to examine what we are, not to assume that we are a certain way, not to believe anything, but to learn to look, to simply see, not to judge.
It is the ego that says, “I am compassionate. I am merciful. I am a good person,” but have we ever really questioned what that self is, what that “I” is, that sense of “me, what I want, what I crave”? It is by learning to question that self that we get to the bottom of why we suffer.
Such as in certain conflicts at work. Someone says something negative to us, and then we feel hurt. Our heart is in pain. So if we are examining ourselves in that moment, we can learn to see that that sense of self that is hurt really has no value, has no importance. This relates to the Buddhist concept of emptiness, of selflessness. That selflessness of the consciousness is divine. It is peace; it is love. It is empty of desire, of condition. But we must learn to see that state and to taste what that state is, where we are looking at ourselves when someone says something negative, and we want to react with slander or negative words, defending our sense of self, our sense of honor that is hurt.
We should learn to see and to examine. Why should we feel victim of what other people say? Why be a victim of life? People can think and feel whatever they want. Each world is a world of its own, a mind of its own. Why do we want to change other people so much? It is better if we change our own negative states, our own faults, so that we are not victims of life.
So no matter how negative people can be, we do not necessarily have to invest our energy into that identification, by learning to examine, to scrutinize, to see, to gain information about why do we suffer in relation to those events.
What in us is in conflict? This is a path of self-observation, observing the self, observing the mind, the heart, the body. It is a path of monitoring oneself, "watching, scrutiny, examination, inspection; to "survey, surveillance, consideration, study, or review."
All religions teach that we must awaken. We must examine ourselves and to not judge, either way, assuming that we are good people, because while we have good qualities, we also have many faults, imperfections. But the path of love, of experiencing the divine, is precisely as Rumi said, “Seeing in oneself all that which conditions.” That is an obstacle, and by learning to see that in ourselves is very uncomfortable, a very painful process to realize that the self is not singular, but multiple, as we talked about on our lecture on Essence, Ego, and Personality (Discover Your True Self).
We are very conflicted. In one moment we may want to wash the dishes or in the next moment ride a bike. We change our mind, or our mind changes and says no, we want to go eat something; no, we want to go read. We want to do something else. We are constantly moving in multiple directions. We are changing course every moment, but we do not really examine why that is.
Why is it that we are always gravitating towards different things, that there is no continuity of purpose? This is why people begin projects and end them. They do not finish; they do not have continuity of soul. For as Jesus taught, “With patience possess ye your soul.” The soul has to be developed. It has to become singular, with one purpose, to remember the divine, so to end that multiplicity of defects, of “I’s,” of selves, which is so uncomfortable to see, is only achievable by looking into the mirror of ourselves, to see and to look, to study and to ask the question, “what is my state of being? What is my level of being? What is conditioning me right now? Why do I suffer? Why am I in pain?” But of course, there is a resistance that occurs, and it is always a very difficult topic because the mind resists, does not want to cease its errors, its faults.
The Observer and the Observed
And in this path, we learn to develop a separation of consciousness. In this image, we have Saint Michael slaying the dragon, which is a religious allegory of this dynamic. Saint Michael is from the Hebrew מיכאל, which translated means “He who is like God,” that is the soul when it is united with Christ, the divine, Allah, Buddha, whatever name you want to give to your divinity.
So he’s a great warrior, a great angel whom you can meet in the internal worlds, by awakening from dreams, to speak face to face in that state when your consciousness, your awareness is expanded, and you are remembering your self. You can invoke or call upon those divinities and speak face to face with the Buddhas with the angels, the Gods. That is a science known as dream yoga.
But my purpose in showing this image is not to talk about that specifically, but to point out that Michael represents our soul that is a great warrior, that knows how to fight for what is just, in an objective, spiritual sense, to combat anger, hatred, doubt. In this image, he is conquering the devil, the demon, the adversary, which is not a person outside, but inside of all our defects. And so this image is very inspiring, as many forms of religious art show that the consciousness has the potential to wage a very difficult war, and to succeed.
The consciousness must learn to observe, and the question is: to observe what? Saint Michael is the consciousness that is observing the lower qualities of the soul and is stepping in its mouth, to show that the soul is dominating the ego. The soul must learn to separate as an observer, to look at the observed, to look at the self, to look at the “I”―“what I am, what I think, what I feel, what I desire,” moment by moment.
The consciousness that is unconditioned is the essence, as we were saying. It is the observer. It is the director of a film that is watching an actor, that is watching the self, watching the mind. And the actor is the conditioned consciousness, which is fragmented, shelled within many elements, which we call ego, selves, desires defects.
So in the myth of Jesus exorcising a possessed man is a symbol of how the soul, the divine, learns to heal the consciousness, to liberate it, to free it from its state of suffering. And when Jesus asks the possessed man, “What is your name?” He said, “We are legion, because we are many.” That is the uncomfortable truth of the mind, the belief that we are one self.
Again, our contradictions show the facts. We are always conflicted, sent in different directions by one’s selves, one’s desires. So the question is, are we aware of ourselves aware, of our full potential? Are we observing? Are we watchful? Are we looking to see what is in us, without expectation, without anticipation, but just questioning those states, those qualities of suffering?
I would like to read for you an excerpt from a book called Revolutionary Psychology by the writer Samael Aun Weor, who is the founder of the modern Gnostic tradition, where he explains some concepts relating to this dynamic where the soul has to observe the ego, so that by comprehending the ego, the ego can be eliminated. Fear can be eradicated. Suffering can be ceased.
Internal Self-observation is a practical means to achieve a radical transformation.
Which is commonly known as the astral plane in certain writings. So some people may have that experience of falling asleep, being attentive and seeing dream images and hearing sounds and voices of all types while one is transitioning into the internal worlds, as a consciousness, as one is projecting into that world.
The Two Worlds
But of course, to develop that quality, we develop what is known as knowledge of the two worlds. So we included an image here of a man hidden by a mirror or reflecting a mirror opposite to him, which is our position looking within. We must learn to become aware of the internal world, but also in relation to the external.
This is symbolized in The Odyssey, of Odysseus, the poem by Homer, in which the great hero Odysseus kills his enemies who are trying to marry his wife Penelope, after he was exiled from Troy after a voyage of 20 years, to return home to Ithaca, in which he finds his home has been ransacked by certain people who want to marry his wife and take his property. So he is disguised as a beggar until Athena takes him into the throne room in order to kill the suitors.
It is a beautiful symbol of the path of the soul, how we as Odysseus must go into our mind and to confront all the selves: lust, anger, fear, pride, resentment, etc. And so he kills all the suitors in the poem. He does it with a bow and an arrow. He extends his attention outward towards his enemies, but also pulls the string so that he can release each arrow as he is destroying his enemies, which is a symbol of the battle of the soul against the mind. And so the one who helps him is Athena, a symbol of the divine feminine, the Divine Mother in Christianity, the Divine Mother Tara in Buddhism, the Divine Goddess Kali amongst the Hindus.
So we have to observe our psychological state, but always in relation to the external event, understanding the relationship, because we never exist in a bubble where things happen outside, where there is no relationship between our mental states and what happens outside. There is the illusion that somehow we can think and feel and do whatever we want mentally in relation to the other person, and they will not know. But if we are observant, you see that even thoughts influence people.
This is the capacity of clairvoyance and telepathy, to see one’s thoughts and how they relate to people and the exchange of energies, of thinking, of emotion. Nothing fantastic about it. It is a simple state of being, which we can compare to an example of walking down the street, where we may suddenly feel that we are being looked at. We turn, and we see someone across the street looking at us. It is a psychological sense that is atrophied in most people, but which you can develop with meditation.
So our internal world relates to the external world. There’s an interconnection. The self is not isolated but always is contingent upon the impressions of life that enter in our mind, our heart, our mental states, constantly and continuously. And this is where we get the Buddhist doctrine of dependent origination, that there is no intrinsically existing self or ego. There are always situations that provoke anger, pride, resentment, etc. And so we are to examine what impressions enter our mind, what is happening in life that makes us react and usually in a mechanical way. Samael Aun Weor explains the difference in his chapter in Revolutionary Psychology.
To observe and to Self-observe oneself are two completely different things; however, both demand attention.
So it is like a mirror. We have to learn to work with both, but typically our senses and our mind is more gravitated to the external, but if we want to acquire psychological insight, balance, understanding, we have to learn to observe the external, but also direct our attention inward, so that with the bow of the mind, our attention, we learn to see all things, develop our meditation practice.
The Flavor of Life and the Spiritual Work
All of us know what the flavor of life is. We are distracted on our cell phones, driving our car, listening to music, listening to the radio, thinking about other things. We tend to be, as I said, fragmented, distracted by multiple engagements at once. We like to think in America that we are a culture of multitasking, but this type of behavior tends to distract oneself more and more.
We like to emphasize that there are three states that constitute the flavor of life, which this path is working against, the path of meditation. Identification has to do with thinking that one is thinking, feeling that one is feeling, and doing that one is doing, but without awareness directed attention inward. When we say that we are identified, it means that our identity is enmeshed in that moment, in relation to a sense of self. It could be anything we mentioned previously.
And like in the myth of Medusa, if we are filled with anger and we identify with that anger, we invest it with our energy. We become trapped in stone, habituated. This is why so many relationships fail, because people are conditioned and they are feeding their anger, their lust, their pride. They become trapped in stone. They are identified, and they are worshiping idols.
So people think that in old religious cultures, they were worshiping idols, worshiping statues. It is a symbol of worshiping negative states or qualities. People in these times worship anger. They think it is a good thing. Or pride in our music, our entertainment, our industries, our movies, our books. We even have a show, American Idol, people worshiping vanity, selfishness, competition.
So when we are identified, it means that we are thinking that we are thinking and feeling that we are feeling. We are not really observing that self, like being in a helicopter very high up or on a mountain looking down, where you can see very beautifully everything in a conscious sense, seeing the full potential the soul.
Identification means to invest ourselves into what we are doing, or to be distracted. When we are fascinated, it means that we are experiencing the pleasant or unpleasant sensations of desire, the ego, enjoying what we are enjoying, but unconsciously not really aware, not really looking at what we are experiencing.
And sleep is to be fully inattentive. We like to think that sleep is only when we go to bed for eight hours, and we wake up in the morning. But as I said, we are asleep when we are driving our car and thinking of other things, consciously speaking. We are not attentive of where we are at or what we are doing. So we may be on a road driving, and we are thinking of a problem at work and then suddenly we realize we missed our turn, because we are so identified with that memory, fascinated by our own fantasies of what we were thinking and feeling and what we wanted to do in response, that we are asleep. We don’t know where we are at. We get lost. We lose direction.
That is a very basic understanding of this dynamic. But of course, this applies to every moment of life in which we are not observing. There is a very different flavor of life which we can experience in moments of great serenity, of insight, of peace.
So we included an image of the mountains and a lake reflecting the beautiful landscape. Again another symbol of imagination. We’re reflecting the mountain of initiation, of the Being, of the spiritual path that leads from the valley of suffering up to the heights, which many authors have allegorized in their writings, like Fredrick Nietzsche climbing the mountain in his book Thus Spoke Zarathustra. He is a philosopher who knew this teaching at one point. So the flavor of the work is a different psychological state that we develop as we are practicing meditation. We may experience intensified awareness, greater spatial perception of our surroundings, where we see things in a new way, in a bright way, with great lucidity.
We also may have clarified attention where we begin to see how certain habits in life make us conditioned. We see where fear comes from and why, why it exists, and then we are no longer influenced by that quality. We are transformed. We have strength, because when you learn to separate from the ego, you gain strength.
So it is not like some people think, that one is vulnerable. But of course, in the beginning, it is challenging to separate from that self and to observe and experience divine qualities like contentment, serenity, patience. And so that is developed as we practice the science of meditation. We clarify our attention. We see things with greater clarity.
We also have a heightened perception of ourselves. We see ourselves in a way that is totally new. And anyone who approaches these type of studies has obviously had that experience. They see things that in such a heightened way, they question their life, their existence, why they are where they are at. When we were children, we tasted this quality more commonly before we were more habituated in our culture or conditioned by society as were growing up.
Self-observation is understanding of the cognizance of facts of where our problems originate and why they sustain. How do we make things more complicated and create suffering for ourselves?
Self-observation develops like going to the gym and exercising one’s muscles. It gets stronger with practice. And one sign that one is learning Self-observation is when maybe in a moment at work, we are having a conversation with someone, and they say something negative, and we feel the reaction of wanting to retaliate, as I have been saying, to be sarcastic even, even in a level that is joking. But which, if you examine deep down, you may see that there is some anger there, an edge, a bite. But you learn to separate and to see that self, and you say to yourself consciously, “I do not need to identify with that quality, because to identify with it is to perpetuate suffering, conflict.” And then, comprehension or insight, the understanding of the causes of suffering, is deepened and heightened, where we begin to separate more and more from negative states, to experience higher states of being, higher levels of consciousness.
Of course, the difference between the two is distinct, but we gain more knowledge the more we practice Self-observation, and in that way, we become more awakened, more enlightened, day by day, moment by moment, as we are learning to transform ourselves.
Questions and Answers
Audience: Why do you say that desire is something negative?
Instructor: Because in strict etymology, the word desire is the craving, or saying, “I want. I need. I must have.” While many poets like Rumi use that word desire to refer to something spiritual, he is using it more in an elevated sense. Semantically speaking, we could say that the desire to know God, the divine, is good. And we could say, to be more precise in our language, that this is longing, the yearning to know divinity, and that aspiration, that desire, is holy, is sacred.
But also we have desires that are negative, lower, animalistic, which we are all familiar with and which shape our states of being and make us suffer.
In strict language, we could say to use precision of language, according to Socrates, desire is ego, because the ego says “I must have. I must fulfill. That person insulted me. I need to get revenge. They slighted me. They hurt me. They betrayed me.” That is a desire.
Desire always says, “I want, I need,” and projects itself into the external world and wants to get those impressions of praise or acceptance. But also you have desire in a poetic sense, like the Sufis talk abundantly about. We have a course on our website called The Sufi Path of Self-knowledge, in which we talk a lot about that nature, of that language, about how the Sufis desired God, the Being. They longed for divinity in a way that is so profound, that it is erotic, in relation to the science of tantra, alchemy, as we explained in those courses.
We could say longing, but in most cases, in our mind-stream, desire is mostly egotistical, because we are so conditioned by our states. We talked about this in the previous lecture how we possess, statistically, according to Samael Aun Weor, ninety-seven percent ego and three percent consciousness. That is a very daunting statistic, but easy to see in our life if we are learning to observe.
We tend to be more egotistical. And very rarely do moments of spontaneity and longing of desire for God manifest unless we are practicing to develop that more, instant by instant, moment by moment.
But of course, that is desire in a spiritual sense. Spiritual desire is different. But then there is a muddling, too, where we may be in a spiritual teaching, and yet we are filled with ambition as well. We want to be great saints. We want people to worship us, that we are holy, that we are great masters of spirituality, and that type of desire infects many groups. It infects anyone who is trying to teach other people, because we have ego, and the more one works on that ego, the more subtle it becomes until finally it is eliminated. But of course, it is a lot of work.
The Sufis use that word desire to refer to longing for divinity. But in us, we are typically very conditioned, which is why, in most cases, when we talk about self-improvement or desire, is ego. And in relation to that topic of the three percent consciousness, the consciousness is like a child. In the story of David and Goliath, David was a boy when he fought this great warrior, symbol of our soul, that three percent, that can―with a lot of faith, desire for God, longing―with a stone and a sling , kill his enemy, by being helped by divinity.
It is a symbol in the Old Testament of how one is working in Self-observation in order to eliminate desire, the ego, in a more strict sense. That child became king of Israel. Beautiful symbol. It is a symbol of our potential. We can become kings and queens of spirituality if we conquer ourselves, but of course, it is a very difficult battle, but very achievable. If we don’t have any more questions, we will conclude with a practice.
Audience: From the moment I’m aware of an ego, what would be the most effective way of eliminating that ego?
Instructor: Sure. So it’s a wonderful question, because a lot of people, when they begin to see the ego, they want to run away, because it is very painful to see that we are filled with all sorts of abnormality, desire and defects.
The best thing you can do in those moments, if you feel that you are being tempted by a certain condition or being influenced by anger, you feel like you are about to blow up, so to speak, by being so impassioned, some solutions could be just to step back from a situation. I know when I have had conflicts at work, I would just excuse myself, “Excuse me. I need to take five minutes.” I would go to my office and do a breathing exercise, but in the moment, you need to have the restraint that says, “I am not going to act on this element.” But of course, as the Pater Noster teaches us, “Lead us not into temptation.” Because that condition is very heavy, obviously, it is very easy to give in to the ego.
The best way to begin to annihilating it is do not give it what it wants; do not feed it. And this is what the Muslims call holy war, the word jihad does not mean holy war in a certain sense, but it has become an application in the western culture. It simply means “to strive, to fight against”; it does not mean fighting against someone who is not Muslim or one not in one’s tradition. It means to fight against the ego.
And so you strive against yourself, you do not give your mind, your heart, your negative qualities, what it wants. So the first wonderful step of that battle is do not feed it, and of course, it takes a lot of refinement to know how, to go deeper and deeper and deeper, to restrain oneself in those critical moments. And that’s why in life, when we are doing this kind of work, a lot of problems arise, because those situations will help provoke the worst in us, make us see the most ugly qualities in our psyche, but you gain strength more and more as you are facing those problems and don’t identify with them. You do not invest your energy into them.
Personally, again, when I am having issues or struggles like that in a moment of great crisis, I pray to my Inner Being. I say, “My God help me to not give in to my anger.” It does not have to even be in words; you don’t need a formula for that. It is something dynamic and intuitive. You do not think about it. You just feel it in your heart. “Please do not let me make this mistake and help me to reflect your divine qualities like compassion.” And then the more you separate from the ego, you do not give it what it wants, the more comprehension you develop, because if you are giving that ego what it wants, you are stuck in the flavor of life.
The flavor of life, is again, identification with the ego, fascination; its fantasies and beliefs, and then the sleep of our soul, and we are suffering all the while. So to escape suffering, you have to learn to work with the shield of Perseus, the armor of the great heroes, which is your solar qualities, your spiritual qualities.
Look at it, but do not look directly at it, meaning: do not identify with Medusa. You have to look at it, but not identify with it, and that is the very great struggle we all face, whether we have been meditating for a year or twenty years. It is because it is a very difficult work, but we gain more inspiration. The more we resist the mind, or better said, comprehend the mind―we do not want to resist the mind, “Oh, I do not like what I am seeing; this is very ugly.” And so we like to repress and push that away.
Observation is just looking at it. Do not justify the anger. Do not push it away. And the reason being is, if you push it away from yourself, you are not going to gain an understanding, and in fact, that anger gets stronger when you repress it, which is why psychologists say you should not repress your anger. But they make the mistake of saying that you should just feed it, whatever is going on inside. It’s the other extreme, which is negative. So they are both negative: do not feed it; do not push it away. Just look. Look at it from a state of dispassion, of equanimity, because when you do so in that way, you do not identify, you just look at it.
And it is like Michael putting his foot into the mouth of the dragon. You see how effortless in the image he is doing it? It does not take any effort on his will. He is a very powerful being―a symbol of how, in a state of great equanimity, you have greater strength. If you give in to anger or frustration in a certain ordeal or circumstance, we make things worse. We make our job difficult. We make our clients resist us, whatever it is that we do or people we interact with.
So look at it. Just see it and do not judge it right away. Just do not label it. See it for what it is and follow your intuition, your heart about what is the right action to perform in that moment. That is part of self-observation too.
We learn to observe and see in ourselves what is going on, but in an even more profound level, in our future lectures, we will talk about this is, that we learn to transform the moment, transform the impression. So we have the impression of someone insulting us. We are observing ourselves. We see the reaction emerge and then immediately we say, “Okay, I see my reaction here; it is negative.” I know in a moment, we understand that if we give into that reaction, that mechanical behavior, we are going to create more conflict. So in that moment, we can pray, “My Being, help me!” You so not need formula, or you can use formulas too, like the Our Father, the Hail Mary, or any Hindu prayer. There are many prayers in different religions that all invoke divinity; whatever you have an affinity for that inspires you, and then you pray, “Please help me so I do not give in to that demon, so that I can see it and transform it.”
And then when you do not feed it what it wants, of course, the ego fights back. This is why this is a holy war. The mind resists. So you stop feeding the lion, it gets hungry, which is why many people in the beginning of practicing meditation, they struggle with certain conditions and habits, repeating the same mistakes because, they find that when they are distancing themselves from that anger, in that moment, that desire still wants to feed itself, to be nourished by the impressions of life, by the energies of life. So you learn to start killing the ego by first, observe it. Separate: observer / observed. And then when you go home to meditation, you can reflect and review your day.
Imagine what you experienced. Do not change the facts of what was said, of how you felt, of what you saw, but simply imagine as it was the instant. And then you can go deeper, so that when you are meditating on whatever ego emerged, you can comprehend them. Then that’s the next step is praying for elimination from your Divine Mother, which we will be talking about in our future classes, the process and the depth of it. We have a course on Gnostic Meditation on our website chicagognosis.org. You can look at the lecture at the very end. We culminate it with Retrospection Meditation, which is that process.
Review your day. Examine what you saw. Do not change the facts, because the mind will like to argue and say, “Well, I should have said this, or this is what I really meant.” The mind is always a liar; the ego is a liar. Just as Jesus says to the fanatic Pharisees, “You are the children of the father of lies.” It is a symbol of the ego, worshiping the mind. It does not mean that the Jewish people are evil; it just means he was condemning those spiritual people who think they are holy, but they have a lot of defects. But we talk about that process in that course you can study. We will be revisiting that again and again here.
In this course, we have been discussing self-transformation. But it is important to understand clearly, concisely, and specifically, what the self is.
What is this sense of “me, myself, I?” And what is it that religion, philosophy, mysticism have denominated God? In these studies, we prefer not to use this term, primarily because the word “God” has a lot of baggage. More specifically, we like to use the term Being, because the Being is divinity, who is within us, our own inner presence, our own form of cognizance. This has been documented by the great prophets, with those qualities like virtue, altruism, compassion, as well as equanimity and strength in times of great crises. They are true human beings who developed, through their character, a profound state of union, reunion with divinity.
And so that divinity is within us, which is why the Greeks stated, “Man, know thyself, and you will know the universe and the gods.” So, what is this self? Who is this sense of “me,” “I,” that we carry within our interior, and which most people never question, never seek to examine, to look at, to see.
Most people are content with saying that, “I am this amount of years old. I have this language. I am from this culture. I have this name. I believe in Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed,” or whomever―a political party. Most people are content to stick with this sense of a label or a badge as if “This is who I am.” And yet, despite the fact that we feel we know ourselves intimately, the reality is that we continue to suffer. We continue to experience pain, and the question is: why?
Why do we suffer so much if we feel that we know this sense of self? That we have this identity, this language, this culture, these customs? And yet with all this sense of identification, we tend to suffer. We are afflicted with problems: anger, fear, resentment, pride, vanity. And it is important to note that even though we feel that we have some type of security in this sense of self, we continue to roam about existence, and experience pain.
So in this course we have been explaining and examining, and questioning, why we suffer. And in this lecture, we are going to examine what we can do, profoundly. This is why every religion, every tradition, has taught some type of means and method by which to overcome that type of psychological conflict―whether through meditation, through certain practices, prayer, etc.
We have many golden maxims which we like to follow. I believe there is one by Shakespeare, which is very profound, “This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.” People love these types of maxims, these golden sayings, but do they really comprehend its meaning, profoundly?
What does it mean to be true to ourselves? Is it our desires, our fears, our worries? Or is it the Self that religion refers to? Which really is the Being, the presence, the divine, who is free of conditions, free of affliction. That is a type of consciousness that we can access in ourselves when we learn the precise methods, by learning how to meditate―to have a mind that is serene and calm so that we can experience that Truth for ourselves.
So all religions, especially Hinduism and Buddhism, explore this notion of self. What is the self? What is the sense of “I?” Who are we? Where do we come from? And why are we here? These are some questions that we will be answering together in this lecture.
These are some questions that are asked by the writer named Samael Aun Weor in his book Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology. His book is an explanation of these concepts we are exploring. So, this course is primarily founded on some of the explanations that he gave, which can serve as a platform for discussing the nature of the self.
So, who are we? If we truly knew ourselves, we would not suffer. Because who is the Self? It is divinity, the Being, the divine, the presence, who within us can only be witnessed and experienced when we learn to not identify with the lower negative qualities of the soul, which are known as anger, resentment, hatred, pride, laziness, gluttony.
These are known in religion as demonic qualities. Christianity refers to them as demons, because anger is demonic, is violent, is negative. It produces harm. It produces suffering―not only for oneself, but more importantly for other people―and yet in a moment of great crisis we tend to go with the flow. We feel slighted, hurt, slandered, lied to, gossiped about, and that sense of self, that anger, the thoughts of revenge emerge.
Usually we tend to just invest our energy in that sense of self, that identity, that sense of anger, that passion. And yet the consequences are usually disastrous, because anger produces conflicts, whether in families, in communities, in politics, in schools, in religions, in movements. Pride is also another element that is destructive, and yet we tend to identify with profoundly. Self-esteem, or the sense of self that says, “I am better than this person because of my religion, my political party, my faith, my race, my culture.” Likewise, lust, desire that is never satiated, in which a person indulges in sexual behaviors that end up in many problems, divorce, conflicts, children and families that are broken because of desire.
All religions profoundly teach us that, in truth, the origin of suffering is the self, the self that we tend to identify with most deeply, which is egotism. All religions teach that we have what is known as “ego,” “I,” because an ego in Latin means “I,” self.
But religion also teaches in its most ancient roots that we have a true Self, which is the Being, which is compassion, which is equanimity, serenity, and profundity, awareness, and intelligence―a form of understanding that keeps all of the cosmos in order. Every star, every planet, all those divine principles that we find in the universe are in our heart, if we know how to access that. But typically, we like to go along with ego, which is synonymous with the term desire.
We desire something, we crave something, we want something, and therefore we take measures and actions to get it. But when we feed desire, that desire is never annihilated. It does not end. In fact, what happens is that that desire wants more, which is why the teachings of the Laws of Manu, which is one of the oldest scriptures recorded in our planet, teaches that “Desire is never satiated by feeding it. Like throwing clarified butter into a fire, it only gets stronger,” more intense.
When that desire is not fulfilled, it suffers. We suffer, because our consciousness, our true spiritual nature is trapped in anger, in fear, in pride, in laziness, and all these conglomerations of defects, which constitute our existence.
So who are we? In these studies, we seek to understand who we are, to confront this question of “why do I suffer so much?” But more importantly, “what can I do to change?” And where do we come from? The Being, the divine, the presence, the Truth. What in Hinduism is known as Atman; in Buddhism as Sunyata, the emptiness of egotism, of self-hood.
That type of presence and cognizance is universal. It is in everything, within the atom, and more importantly, within our consciousness. And our soul, or what religions call soul―we can call consciousness―emanates from that principle. So, we are truly linked to our divine potential in us, which in us is a germ, is a seed. It is the potential to become fully developed through specific works.
As we are now, we tend to be in a germinal state, with potential to become something great, something illuminated, something divine. Like you find in the story of Pinocchio, which is an allegory of how our seed, our potential state, can become something more manifest and real. Remember that Pinocchio was a wooden boy. He was a puppet. He was controlled by strings, and that has to do in our case with all of our problems, our distractions, our vanities, our egotism, and also how the exterior influences of the world tend to manipulate us, make us react to life and to deepen our suffering. But we remember from the myth, in the folklore written by Carlos Collodi, that Pinocchio wanted to become a real boy, who wanted to become a human being of flesh and blood. That means that Pinocchio is in a germinal state, that could become something divine and real, perfected.
What does it mean to be a real human being? We explained a little about this in our first lecture on the level of being, which you can access on our website. A true human being is a Jesus, is a Buddha, is a Krishna, is a Moses―beings that fully manifested the light of their inner divinity in a full and perfect way, so that in moments of great trial, they were only able to express the highest ideals of humanity without any falter, without any flaw.
So, we are like Pinocchio. The word Pinocchio in Tuscan means “pine seed.” It is a seed that can become a tree of life, a fully perfected and developed master of meditation.
So where are we going? We explained in our previous lecture that due, to our habits, our conditions, our sufferings, we tend to enter into conflict with other people, with humanity. Whether it be at work, with friends, with family, with our spouse, with our community members, with whomever. Because of our egotism, we tend to create conflict that we are typically ignorant of. We usually ignore the causes of why we make other people suffer.
We tend to be very hypnotized by the notion that, somehow, we are saintly, and that the other person is wrong. Even though a person may be guilty, someone may have harmed us, the tendency of wanting to blame others is a distraction from our real work, which is taking ownership of our own mental states, and why we inflict harm unconsciously, without knowing it.
We may say something in the wrong place or the wrong time to the wrong person, and that has effects. There are consequences. This is simply a law of nature, of cause and effect. For every action there is a response, but in the states of psychological matters, we usually ignore how our own mind and mental actions create conflict―our words, our speech, our habits.
Conflict, suffering, is related to religion as hell. People think hell is a literal place underneath the ground where people burn in sulfur and fire, but those are symbols of psychological states, more importantly for us. When we are engulfed in anger, we are burning in hell, literally. We are inflamed with passion, with fear, with uncertainty. However, if we learn to extract that which is true and divine within us from those negative states, we can develop heaven inside.
Heaven is a state of being, a way of being, a level of consciousness which is free of conditions, which the Buddhists call Nirvana. In Sanskrit, Nirvana means cessation, to cease suffering, to cease being in pain, and so our actions determine where in life we will gravitate, as a law of causality, cause and effect.
If we indulge in negative behaviors, we will suffer, and other people will suffer, and therefore we deepen our internal conflicts and we spiral down into negative and more negative states of being. However if we learn to renounce anger, fear, hatred, desire, we can ascend towards higher states of consciousness which is liberated, unconditioned, free of fault, compassion that is unbounded, but also a type of responsibility that knows how to set one’s foot down even when circumstances are difficult, to know how to set boundaries with people.
Some people think compassion has to do with being a doormat, with letting people walk upon oneself. But compassion can be like that of a warrior who knows how to defend what is just in any circumstance. So, what we are psychologically determines where in nature we will move, where we will go. And there is a saying by Sufi mystics, who are the mystics of Islam, they have a very beautiful saying which relates to the topic of this lecture. They state that, “Wherever the delusion of yourself is, that is hell. Wherever you are not, that is heaven.”
Does that mean that we can experience the Truth? Not with our egotism, with our baggage, with all the luggage that we carry on our back, of all our memories and yesterdays, which impede us from accessing and experiencing the present moment, here and now.
The Being is presence, is light, is equanimity, is understanding, is found in us in this present moment, if we learn to pay attention.
So, what are we living for? Is it to feed desire? To indulge in pleasure? Or is our purpose to develop a type of work, to renounce negativity, to renounce suffering, to renounce pain, to be in service to others in a way that is founded upon our own idiosyncrasy, our own skills? Because all of us have certain skills that are needed in this society, which emanate from the divine, the Being.
What are we living for? Is it for egotism, for desire, or is it to help humanity? To provide means of alleviating the suffering of all beings? And why are we living? Is it for our next paycheck? Is it to feed desire? Or is it to be a means and a vehicle for divinity to express, who is our own true nature, our divine potential?
The Human Machine
So the human being, as I stated, or was implying, is a type of machine. Pinocchio was a puppet. He was influenced by internal and external forces, seemingly beyond his control. Likewise, our body, our mind, our heart, is a machine that can process different energies, different forces in nature, which, mostly in our case, tend to be unconscious. We are not typically aware of how certain elements in nature influence us.
It is obvious to see that on full moons though, there tend to be more incidences of crime. Likewise, women are influenced by the forces of the moon, of nature, through menstruation, through cycles, through reproduction. There is evidence for us that we tend to be influenced by nature without being aware of it. It is enough to wake up on a morning with a lot of rain to feel exhausted and tired, to have one’s mood altered, to feel morbid or negative.
So we are machines. However, we are machines that can learn to be driven, controlled, and utilized for spiritual purposes. This machine, psychologically speaking, is broken down into three categories of which we are going to explain today.
The Essence, the Ego, and the Personality
We have what is known as the essence. We have the ego, which we have been explaining already, and we have the personality.
So what is this essence? It is our true spiritual nature, our consciousness, which emanated from the Being, and which must return to the Being, to the divine.
Our ego, which in Latin means “I,” is constituted by all our defects, our faults, our errors, and sadly, the ego is a shell. It traps energy. It conditions consciousness. So, in a state of resentment, or pride, or fear, we are vibrating with a type of energy that is low, very negative, and which produces pain and sorrow and suffering.
What we do not understand from experience, typically, is that part of our soul is trapped in those elements, in those desires. Really our consciousness, our essence, which is the most pure and virtuous element we possess, in us tends to be very conditioned. The ego shells, traps, encages the consciousness.
And how did the ego come to be? We had consciousness in a very ancient epoch, in an ancient past, which is symbolized in some religions as the Garden of Eden, which was not literal, a literal history, but a symbol of how we disobeyed the commandments of our inner Being and entered into suffering. So, our essence is trapped. The energy of our soul is imprisoned, encaged, within all those negative states.
If we want to fully develop the soul, our true potential, we must learn to confront all that is low and negative in us, so that by confronting it and transforming it, we can change. When you extract the soul from the ego, when you break the shells of the states of anger and pride and of fear, etc., we can release the genie from Aladdin's lamp.
That is a myth as well. It is psychological. The genie is our soul which can perform miracles, divine things, can see and understand and experience the great mysteries of life and death, of our own inner truth. But usually, in most people, we may experience in meditation a moment in which we extract the genie from the lamp. We have a type of insight, a spark, an understanding, an intuition. But then a few moments later we lose the experience. The genie goes back into the lamp. Therefore, if we want full and perfect enlightenment, understanding, we have to break those shells. The ego must be eliminated.
We will also talk today about the personality. Personality is related to language, to customs, to culture, things that are very terrestrial. Personality is temporary. It is not eternal. When we are born into this life, we adopt a new personality, usually between the ages of one and seven, which we will be talking about how that develops in depth today.
The Essence, Soul, or Buddha Nature
First let us explain more about the essence. The essence is light. The consciousness is divine. It is like a mirror that can reflect the purity of divine truth within us. That essence emanated from our inner Being, which relates to all the forces of nature, as we have been explaining.
All the forces of the galaxies, the stars, the heavens, with all their profound intelligence and wisdom, is a reflection of the divine truth, our divine presence. The Bible speaks about the nature of consciousness in the form of light. In Genesis 1:3, “And God said, ‘Let there be light, and there was light’” וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹהִים יְהִי אֹור וַֽיְהִי־אֹֽור׃ (Va-yomer Elohim yehi aur va-yehi aur) in Hebrew. The word for “light” in Hebrew is אֹֽור Aur, meaning understanding or intuition.
People think that the Bible is a history, a literal narrative about how the universe and the planets came to be, but more importantly for someone who enters meditation, we understand that this is symbolic. What does it mean, “Let there be light”? It means that through certain practices, whether they be through prayer or working with sacred sounds, like mantras, we generate energy and light so that we have understanding. That light is our own consciousness, which is developed gradually, and that comes from the heavens, from the stars.
That essence, having emanated from the profundities of the great cosmic nature, enters into us in order to give us life, but in an undeveloped state.
The Essence that each one of us carries within his interior comes from above, from heaven, from the stars… Unquestionably, the marvelous Essence emanates from the note La… ―Samael Aun Weor, Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology
This relates to the musical scale: Do, Re, Mi, Fa, So, La, Si, which has interesting correlations to the way that the universe is ordered and structured in relation with mathematics, which is known as kabbalah. So, the soul emanates from the note La which relates to:
…(the Milky Way, the galaxy we live in). The precious Essence passes through the note Sol (the Sun) and then passes through the note Fa (the Planetary Zone) then enters this world and penetrates within our own interior. ―Samael Aun Weor, Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology
And so what is this essence when it first enters a human life? We find that children naturally emanate a profound beauty, and perfection that people adulate. When holding a child, one senses and perceives their profound innocence, their light, their purity. So the essence, our consciousness, when it enters a new life, in the first seven years or so, is untainted, is pure, which is why when we look at an infant we only see happiness purity, love, innocence.
That soul in a child gradually becomes conditioned through experience, through life, in what is developed or known as the personality, or is influenced by the nature of the personality, which we will be talking about.
But the essence is a fraction of what in Hebrew is known as תִּפְאֶרֶת Tiphereth, which is simply a Hebrew term, a mystical term, used to denominate soul, human consciousness, human will. And Tiphereth literally means “beauty, splendor, radiance.” If you look at the Hebrew letters, you find that this word תִּפְאֶרֶת Tiphereth is very similar etymologically with the word אֹֽור Aur, which means “light” (תִּפְ-אֶרֶ-ת Tiph-Aur-et, spelled deficiently without a ו Vav).
The light of pure being is within a child. It has not been conditioned yet, has not been influenced yet. And that soul which we have been stating is only in a germinal state. It needs to be developed, because typically when a child gets older, they lose their innocence. That essence becomes conditioned, whether through life experiences, through education, through family life, through age, and through past influences that enter the soul.
Children have always been depicted as a cherub, or Cherubim amongst Christians, as angels. There is a form of angels known as Cherubim, and an angel is simply a perfect human being, a being that has no defect, no ego, no “I,” but only the full expression and light of the Being, the presence. Those angels are beings we can experience and meet directly, whether in meditation or when the physical body goes to sleep, and the soul enters the world of dreams. That world of dreams is again known as heavens, but we typically enter those internal states without any awareness, without any consciousness. But if we awaken the essence, the light within us through meditation and certain disciplines, we can communicate face to face with those divine beings who often appear in the form of children.
Personally I have had that experience many times where I have been speaking with, in my dream visions, astral experiences, astral projections, whatever you want to call it, and talking with certain beings and getting help with my work. And so, anyone has that potential, that capacity, if the essence is trained, if the consciousness is fully perfected. Amongst children it is germinal as I said, not fully developed. But a master, a prophet, has that state fully perfected.
If you look at the light of a child, in their eyes, their purity, it is like a candle. But amongst the great angels it is like a sun, which is why in the Gospel of Thomas, Jesus of Nazareth emphasized that in order to enter the kingdom of heaven, one must become like a child, innocent, pure. He was referring to the need to develop the essence, the soul. In the Gospel of Thomas, he states:
A person old in days will not hesitate to ask a little child seven days old about the place of life, and the person will live. ―Gospel of Thomas
So who is a person old in days? If we take that literally, it means someone who is elderly, decrepit, but psychologically, all of us are old. We are old with memories, with experiences, with suffering, and yet if we learn to meditate and speak face to face with the Elohim, the angels, the gods, we truly can ask them, those children of the ineffable light, about what guidance we need in life, and therefore the person will live, will have spiritual life, insight, understanding.
For many of the first will be last and become a single one (unity). ―Gospel of Thomas
So who are those first? Those people who have authority, and think they have understanding, when they do not. They do not have any knowledge of themselves or religion. We find many people in this day and times who have a lot of authorities, beliefs and dogmatism, ideas that really don’t help anyone. In these studies, we like to be independent, individual. We like to experience firsthand the great truths and mysteries of the divine. And therefore, many of the first will be last, meaning: people who are accustomed to theories and debates and argumentation, and yet who may find a type of understanding from experience, beginning to train themselves in this type of work.
The Multiplicity of the Ego
That way they become a single one, a unity, because as we are now, psychologically speaking, we are not unified.
This is an ancient painting by a Dutch painter by the name of Hieronymus Bosch, which is showing a landscape. Many of his art forms illustrate the nature of the psyche, the consciousness, our internal world. Notice in this image we have Anthony, or St. Anthony praying in the very center, and we find that he is surrounded, as he prays, by many deformed and animalistic figures. He is praying in the center of a temple towards the crucified Christ, who is very hidden, secretive, unseen.
Hieronymus Bosch was a great initiate, a great master who painted some divine truth in his art, which relates to this topic.
Those figures that surround St. Anthony are his own defects, his own desires, his own conditioned states of mind. Obviously, this is a very provocative and disturbing image, but it perfectly reflects our psychological state―if we are honest―and if we have the courage to examine who we are.
As I have been explaining, the ego is “I,” in Latin means “I, me, myself.” But that sense of “I,” that sense of self, in truth, is not singular. In fact it is multiple. Resentment, fear, pride, laziness, gluttony, what are known as the seven deadly sins, are really a conglomeration of different defects, different shells, different conditions, which have trapped our soul, trapped our consciousness. And so all those figures that are deformed, that are animalistic, represent all of the multiplicity of selves, of egos, of “I’s.”
We use the term ego to refer to the plurality of self. It is enough to sit and reflect on our own daily experience to see that we tend to be multifaceted. We are not simple. We tend to have a lot of conflict, a lot of contradictions. And of course, acknowledging this and seeing this is very unpleasant, especially when we see in meditation that all the different thoughts, and worries, anxieties, and fears, and sentiments, that typically characterize who we are, are constantly changing and fluctuating. There is no permanence there. It is a churning and a chaos which is represented in this image.
We find this nightmarish landscape of fires and villages burning, of strange figures flying in the air, representing all the defects that we carry inside, relating to our thoughts, our mind which is aerial in nature, represented by some of the figures on the top right. But also, we have monsters, monstrosities, which really characterize our desires, because anger is a monster, fear is a beast, desire is hell.
But notice that St. Anthony is not distraught, because the way that he became a saint was by purifying his consciousness. Here he is kneeling in prayer towards the figure in the center of this temple, which on the outside is dilapidated on destroyed, but in the center is a house of prayer. That symbol of Jesus being crucified is a symbol of the Being, our inner truth.
We do not say that Jesus was the only Christ. We use the term Christ in our studies to refer to a type of energy or consciousness, which is universal, which becomes manifest in any being who has developed themselves.
So, the Being is Christ, is an energy, is a force, and in the temple of St. Anthony here, is being crucified, because it is a painful experience to witness in oneself all of these different “I’s,” selves, defects. In one moment of life, we may have that desire to consume alcohol or to eat something, and yet that impulse changes, and we want to go exercise, and then we change our minds, “No, we want to go read a book.” In a moment we love someone. The next moment we hate them.
We are multifaceted, as I said. We are not unitary. We are not singular. We are usually very complex and very confused, because we have all these elements that are fighting amongst themselves for supremacy, of which we typically do not have any awareness. Of course, it is very unpleasant to realize we are a puppet in most cases. That is why Pinocchio was depicted in the story as a wooden boy pulled by invisible strings. In any moment, in our mind and heart, we may be thinking and feeling one thing and then in the next moment that changes.
We do not usually have awareness of this, because we do not usually observe. We are not mindful. We are not paying attention. So indeed, as Samael Aun Weor in his Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology states:
Indeed, the humanoid does not have a permanent ‘I,’ but instead he has a multitude of different infra-human and absurd ‘I’s.’ The wretched intellectual animal mistakenly called a human being is similar to a house in disorder where instead of one lord, many servants exist who always want to command and to perform their own whims… ―Samael Aun Weor, Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology
We explained this term intellectual animal, which obviously is very unpleasant, but the word animal in Latin means anima, soul. We have many desires that are animalistic, like lust, passion, sexual craving, hatred, violence. These are animalistic qualities, and because we have an intellect, we can reason, we can conceptualize, that means that we are animal souls with the capacity to reason.
But a true human being, as I stated, is someone who is perfected. There is no ego in a perfected human being. This landscape within the mind of an angel, is heavenly, but in us, because of our mistakes, we have shelled, and trapped, and caged ourselves in these states of suffering.
No person is the same in a continuous manner. Indeed, one does not have to be a sage in order to fully realize the innumerable changes and contradictions of each individual... ―Samael Aun Weor, Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology
All religions refer to devils and demons as these figures that are in red with a long tail and horns on their heads. These are symbols. Those are not literal stories that many people believe in, but represent psychological truths. So Hieronymus Bosch represented these truths in his art.
Christ, Legion, and Psychological Possession
We have an image here of Jesus, or better said, the Being, Christ, manifested within this person, in order to reject a legion of demons. In the Bible, there’s a story of how two men came to Jesus of Nazareth, who were possessed, and obviously some people in these times like to think about something silly and superstitious, and we agree to an extent, in the terms and ways that the Catholic Church has appropriated these symbols.
The truth is that all of us have a type of possession. When we are accused of something we did not do, we feel rage, anger; we become possessed in that moment by that desire. When we look at our bills and find that we might not make our rent, or we have some type of economic problem, we feel the uncertainty and fear arise within us, consume us. That element takes possession of us. We become petrified―trapped. Possession simply refers to a state of psychological identification with the ego, with desire.
So what is the solution? We find a beautiful teaching in this Christian myth, which does not refer to a type of fantasy, but to a folklore or story that is symbolic or allegorical. So, in the myth, Christ rejected these many legions of defects from these two men. It does not refer to a literal history. It refers to how our own inner divinity can reject all that conglomeration of defects that we carry inside to help us to free us from suffering.
This story is related by the following verses from the Book of Matthew:
And when [Jesus] was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils (egos), coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way. ―Matthew 8:28
And really, any one of us is like that. If we are filled with anger or resentment, we are demonic. We are not angels. We are not saintly. So, coming out of the tombs means: referring to a state of spiritual death in which we lack insight or understanding.
And, behold, they cried out, saying, "What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time?” ―Matthew 8:29
Because the ego has nothing to do with divinity, the Being. There is a type of conflict and war that goes on in the soul between the powers of light and powers of darkness, which is depicted in every religion, culture, and tradition, every myth amongst the Greeks, the Romans, etc.
“What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time?" And there was a good way off from them an herd of many swine feeding. So the devils (egos) besought him, saying, "If thou cast us out, suffer us to go away into the herd of swine." And he said unto them, "Go…” (because the presence of our inner being can reject those negative, degenerative influences. What happens is that these devils go into a herd of swine and:) …behold, the whole herd of swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the waters. ―Matthew 8:28-32
So this is a symbol too of how in this type of spiritual work, our own inner Being, our own Inner Christ helps us to confront many defects, desires, and takes those elements and takes them out of one’s self, so that they can be destroyed (those cages, those shells) within what is known as the hell realms, which is a state of unconsciousness, of negativity.
It is a symbol of how when those defects are removed. They enter down into negative states until they are disintegrated. They are eliminated. Again, this is symbolic of how the soul must be free from the legions of egos, of defects, of desires.
Of course this is a very beautiful teaching, and what religion has called salvation or redemption is not something about beliefs, ideas, concepts, by thinking that by raising one’s hands and saying, “I believe in Christ or Jesus” and that “I am saved.” It is a matter of psychological work, of training in meditation. And of course, as we learn to have a serene mind, develop serenity of thought, our Inner Being helps us and gives us strength.
So what is the personality? We cannot express the ego in this physical world if it were not for our personality. The word persona means “mask.” It is developed in the first seven years of life according to three factors.
It is like a mask, as we have included images here from the Greek traditions. It is our language, our heredity, our race, our religion, our habits. These are things that help us to interact with other people in this physical world, in which we develop and need to exist. However, the problem is that this personality tends to be utilized by our ego, our desires.
This personality is developed in accordance with three factors:
Genotype has to do with our genes, our inheritance from our past actions, which also relates to the Sanskrit term karma, “cause and effect.” We are born into certain families due to causes from our previous experiences, which are not known to us except by awakening consciousness. Some traditions have called this transmigration of souls, past lives, etc. Those are things that we do not believe in, but we learn to experience and to know where we came from.
Our personality is developed by genetics, by cause and effect, by our past actions, because in life or nature, we gravitate in accordance with our deeds, our mental states.
Phenotype has to do with education from our family, from our friends, teachers. Our personality is shaped by the people we interact with growing up. Sometimes people who have very traumatic experiences with family or friends or schools damage their personality. Some people who are very sick, mentally and emotionally, did not develop their personality well. Sometimes there are people who don't know how to interact in this world. The personality is simply a mask we wear in order to interact with humanity, with existence.
Likewise, personality is also developed by any circumstance of life (Paratype), so if something traumatic happens, it can change the course of our existence. Some people breakdown, because the amount of energy invested in that type of trauma was so impactful that they, as I said, may not know how to relate to others, their family, their friends, etc.
Ghosts: Deceased Personalities
To kind of get some context on what the personality is, we can refer to what some cultures and superstitions believe to be ghosts. The personality is a form of energy. It is not the soul, neither is it the ego. The personality is simply a vesture we wear from life to life, existence to existence.
The personality is time. The personality lives in its own time. It does not reincarnate. After death the personality also goes to the grave. For the personality there is no tomorrow. The personality lives in the cemetery, wanders about the cemetery, or goes down to its grave. It is neither the astral body (which is the dream body, which is a vehicle we use in the world of dreams, in sleep), nor the ethereal double (our vital energies, which give us life here and now). It is not the soul (the essence). It is time. It is energetic and disintegrates very slowly. The personality can never reincarnate. It does not ever reincarnate. There is no tomorrow for the human personality. ―Samael Aun Weor, The Perfect Matrimony
Some people who claim to be very psychic or sensitive have often seen images of specters or figures in cemeteries. That isn’t the soul, however. It refers to the personality of the individual. Some people have a very strong personality, and in our culture, in these times, we tend to adulate and admire people with very strong personalities, like we see in television shows or movies or popular media. Those personalities that are very strong, that have been invested with a lot of energy, tend to last longer than the souls that have left the body. That is why people in some graveyards have seen some images of specters and figures moving about. It refers not to the soul, as we said, but to the personality.
Image, Values, and Identity: The Necessity of Self-Transformation
In conclusion, we will emphasize the following statement by Samael Aun Weor in his Revolution of the Dialectic about the possibilities of this type of spiritual meditation and work. He emphasizes that there must be a type of revolution in the soul, in the consciousness, in the mind, and the heart, as we explained previously in our lecture “Psychological Rebellion.”
Our self-image, our values and our identity, our sense of self, our sense of “I” has to change, has to be transformed, but that type of work does not initiate on its own, but when we see a necessity for it, when we see that we suffer a lot in life and we want to cease suffering; also, because we feel that perhaps our own image of ourselves can be very low, negative, and we want to transform it to become better.
But we need to identify what image, what values, and what self we must acknowledge―we must develop―because presently, in ourselves, we are mostly dominated by ego, if we are honest. Psychologically speaking, I believe a statistic that Samael Aun Weor gave in his book was that 97% of our consciousness tends to be trapped within the ego, and that we possess 3% consciousness that is free, that can be developed, that can be awakened.
By learning to meditate we learn to awaken our full potential. And this number may seem very daunting, very intimidating, very fearful, but the truth is that if you look at stories like David and Goliath, you find a beautiful teaching there. King David was a child when he killed Goliath. That is a symbol of how the essence, a child, the soul, can conquer the bestiality of the mind, can overcome it, annihilate it, and therefore he becomes king, he becomes king of Israel.
Image, values and identity must be changed radically. This is Integral Revolution. We need the identity of the Being, the values of the Being, and the image of the Being. ―Samael Aun Weor, The Revolution of the Dialectic
So we have been discussing what is the identity of the Being, the true Self, and also the values of the Being, which are all the virtues of philanthropy, compassion, love, etc. That image of the Being can be developed by us by learning to confront ourselves.
If we discover the reserves of intelligence contained in the mind, we can liberate it. The reserves of intelligence are the different parts of the Being that orient us in the work related with the disintegration of the ego and with the liberation of the mind. ―Samael Aun Weor, The Revolution of the Dialectic
So what religions call yoga, coming from the Sanskrit yug, means reunion with the Truth. Likewise, religion comes from the Latin religare. That reunion is accomplished by us by learning to work on our own imperfections, not only for our own benefit, but for the benefit of others.
Questions and Answers
Question: How can we start to work against the ego, to get rid of it?
Instructor: Certainly. The first step is be mindful, observe. Our next lecture (Self-Observation) will be focused on this dynamic specifically. So, we have our essence which is germinal, as I said, 3% free, which can be awakened, developed, utilized.
Most of us we tend to be very unconscious in life, if we are honest. We could be driving our car thinking about other things, multitasking. I know we like to think we are in a culture of modernity, of multitasking, etc., but that type of behavior tends to keep us very unconscious, hypnotized, where we are doing one thing, thinking of another thing. It means that we are not attentive, we are not mindful.
If we are not mindful, if we are not learning to observe ourselves, we are not able to get data about these defects that we do not know about, which we may sense, but we don't really have full awareness of.
The way to develop this type of work is to first observe. This type of observation is a matter of consciousness. To learn to observe means to be mindful, to be aware that we are here and now, aware of our thoughts, our feelings, and our impulses. Mindfulness is learning to take that observation of self and make it continuous. So, it is not enough to just observe in one moment of the day, but to be mindful at all times.
The way that we do that is by engaging in certain concentration exercises as well. One thing that can help the beginning student is to learn to concentrate on a candle, for example. We have this candle that you can use, you situate in front of you on the table. Observe it. In this concentration exercise, your goal is to simply observe the flame. If you find that you are thinking and conceptualizing what you’re doing, simply return your attention back to the candle. Simply look at it.
There is another variation of that exercise, which is more profound, relating to the Mahayana school of Buddhism, in which you learn to take an image and you visualize it. That’s more profound, but in the beginning it is good to just take a candle, observe it, and if you find that you are thinking about other things than what you are doing, it means that we are distracted. So, the solution is bring your attention back.
The more you do that not only with the candle exercise, but the more you do it in daily life, you find that that sense gets much stronger, is more developed, is more powerful.
Self-observation is being aware of what are we thinking, what are we feeling, what are we doing. It is like a director in a film who is watching an actor, and in this case, we are both the director, and we are the actor. Understanding this dynamic in experience is very difficult, especially in the beginning, but the solution is to keep applying that principle.
You may find that in a moment you are becoming very anxious. The solution is to sit down for a minute, close your eyes, like if you are at work and you have a break do a breathing exercise. Inhale profoundly, breathe deeply, and observe your state. Take a snapshot of what you are going through right now. Question: “What am I thinking? What am I feeling? What am I doing?” That is the doorway to mindfulness.
As we began this lecture with an exercise on relaxation, relaxation is essential in order to know ourselves, because if we are not relaxed, if we are tense, it means that we are churning in the mud, so to speak, or we are fighting against quicksand. The more you fight against it, the more you dive deeper into it. Negative emotions are like that. The way that you can see that in yourself is by applying some of these techniques.
Personally, when I am at my job, if I find that I’m beginning identified with a negative state, I simply sit down. I do a breathing exercise, ten minutes, something simple, and therefore, I have a little bit more attention and awareness in what I’m doing. And if you do that daily, periodically, frequently, but in short exercises, you develop stamina.
So, little by little that essence becomes more charged, more powerful. If you remember in the myth of David and Goliath, he used a sling and a stone in order to slay the monster, and that is a symbol of something very profound too relating to the mysteries of freemasonry, the cubic stone of the masons, which is a symbol of using energy applied to action. When you use all your energy for your divinity, you can begin to fight against, with your concentration, your awareness, any problem, and therefore it gets resolved.
Question: Another question. I have been going to this other group and the first step is to get guidance from the Being, from God, and one of these people were asking like how can we know what God wants us to do?
Instructor: Certainly. So the technique for that is to first develop serenity of mind, you have a mind that is calm, where you are not thinking of anything, when your mind is calm from a type of daily discipline, when you don’t feed ego, pride, lust, vanity, etc. The mind begins to settle like a lake. If we identify with problems in life, it is like we are throwing garbage and stones in the lake, and the waters ripple. The rippling affects the center to the periphery, and it becomes agitated. When the waters are churning with passion, with negativity, you can’t necessarily see anything clearly in the reflection.
The beginning step is to first calm the mind, because when the mind becomes calm like a lake, when the waters are still, then those waters can start to reflect images which comes from the stars, which is a symbol of meditation. Meditation begins with serenity, but the next step in order to know messages from divinity is to develop what we call insight.
Serenity is the calm lake. The image reflected in the lake is insight. In Buddhism we refer to that as Shamatha, serenity, and Vipassana or insight. In these studies, we use the term concentration and imagination. And we know what concentration means, but people typically the term imagination means coming up with fantasies, make believe. But it simply refers to the ability to visualize or see images in the mind.
If I tell you to imagine an elephant, we can see it we can picture it. That is imagination, but what happens is we tend to be distracted, and can’t really see with more clarity, with more depth that image. There are certain exercises that we use in this tradition that develop the capacity to develop that perception more clearly. Like to take a candle, observe the image for a few moments, close your eyes and try to picture it in as much detail as you can in your mind, and that sense is fully developed and sharpened when your body is relaxed, when your mind is relaxed, when everything is calm.
When you’re meditating, suddenly you can get an experience like a flash of insight, a dream, a vision, in which you are witnessing things in your own internal world, your own inner experiences. I’m sure all of us have had dreams where we saw things with more clarity and depth than maybe can even relate to in the physical world, because those are certain senses that we may have access to, but are not fully perfected.
When you develop the capacity to calm the mind and to visualize things, you can start to receive understanding, because divinity speaks in the language of parables, in symbols. There are many books in this day and time which talk about dream symbology. Personally, I prefer to use, studying different religious traditions and their symbols, we refer to, in these studies, Kabbalah and Alchemy, Jewish mysticism, which is a symbolic way of understanding and interpreting the messages one can receive from divinity.
First we have to have the capacity to perceive in the first place, but then when you have the experience, you need to develop intuition, which is a quality of the heart, in which you immediately know the meaning of an experience. By reflecting on it and visualizing what you experience in your dreams, you connect it to your daily life, connect it to your physical existence, because your inner Being will give you knowledge and insight relating to your daily experience, what to do, how to live life more profoundly. Those teachings come in the forms of situations in the dream state, parables, symbols.
The way that you can develop your intuition is through exercises like the mantra O or AUM which develops the powers of the heart. So, sitting to pronounce a sacred sound. Mantra simply means mind protection, to guard your mind. You pronounce it prolonged:
Feel the vibration in your heart, your emotional center, let yourself relax, and fall asleep. That energy, provided by that vocalization, can aid you in awakening consciousness, that 3% of the essence that is asleep, and in that way you can learn to generate more insight. When you have those experiences you can interpret based on intuition and understanding symbols, generally what they mean.
So I thank you for coming!
History is filled with oppression, violence, and revolutions. More so, humanity is obsessed with the ideologies that perpetuate conflict, dissonance, and political enmity. It is enough to raise a flag in the name of freedom to incite the blood of millions of individuals to march to war.
People have many justifications for rebellion: the government is negligent, the taxes too high, the laws too strict, the politicians too incompetent. Sadly, our humanity is exclusively concerned with external changes, with rebellion against ideas, culture, politics, religion, or the state. However, people ignore the internal, psychological causes of affliction and social conflict, and therefore do not know how to rebel against themselves.
Our society celebrates rebels, because they set trends and go against the flow, risking their lives often without seeking popularity. Their strong will and rugged individualism set them apart from the rabble. While such qualities are not condemnatory, the masses tend to admire such persons for the wrong reasons. People like Che Guevara, James Dean, rebels without a cause, William Wallace in the film Braveheart, musicians, and poets―individuals who incite violence and political rebellion―they capture the imagination of the populace due to their strong conviction and beliefs in freedom. While humanity admires the good intentions of these philosophers, warriors, and thinkers, the results of their ideologies have produced all the sufferings and bloodshed of the great wars, which have plunged this planet into complete ignorance and darkness.
Ideology, whether from east or west, propounds freedom. People sing it in the churches, on the tops of minarets, before the altar of the synagogues, and in the meeting halls of Congress and the Senate. Yet it is this very concept of freedom that religion and governments have used to provoke all the wars of history, to defend their missions, agendas, and conquests. The concept of freedom fascinates, captivates, and hypnotizes. It obstructs the discernment of the consciousness and its ability to act for the benefit of all people, regardless of race, culture, religion, sex, or tradition.
People want freedom. Many are even willing to kill or be killed for it. But rather than take such ideals at face value, we, in these studies, like to question things profoundly, to understand the significance of such terms at their roots. Therefore, we sincerely ask: what is freedom?
In North America and in many countries, people have the freedom to chose what to eat, where to travel, where to work, what to believe, and whom to marry. And yet everybody continues to suffer. We work at jobs we hate, fearing our boss, envying our co-workers, being constantly consumed by feelings of dissatisfaction, criticism, backbiting, emptiness, and despair.
Yet despite all our tragedies, people like to externalize. They want to blame the exterior world for all their problems. We want to change everything outside of us to conform with our habits, dispositions, and prejudices. While people constantly fight to better their external situations, we prefer, in these psychological studies, to analyze the source of our discontents, desires, and sufferings, which is within ourselves, within the mind.
Humanity always wants to defend its desires, even at the expense of other people’s lives. But what if we were to do something that has not been done before, at least by most? What if, rather than go against the government, political establishment, or popular culture, we were to question our own wants, desires, and cravings? What if we were to rebel against ourselves and our own psychological conditions that we have put in the way of our own personal and spiritual development?
Bloodshed and violence will always recur so long as people do not look within themselves to comprehend the psychological impetus, the impulse, the will, that pushes them to act in mistaken ways. Therefore, rather than rebel against the external world, we ask: “What if we were to rebel against our own desires?”
This question, of course, dissatisfies the majority, because humanity is fascinated and enslaved to desire, yet for the few who want to comprehend and develop their full conscious potential, such an inquiry becomes the foundation and focal point of initiation into a higher state of consciousness, a superior Level of Being.
Radical Change Goes Against Time
To enter, experience, and develop our full potential, the individual must make a very defined and concerted effort within him or herself. Such an effort goes against the concept of time, evolution, and progress. Such an effort requires that we examine our own psychological states of suffering in the present moment, to discover where our pain originates, how it sustains, and how it may be pacified.
People believe that with time, situations will improve. Yet no great luminary, prophet, buddha, angel, etc., ever taught that things improve with time. What the great messengers of humanity emphasized is that true psychological and spiritual development is the outcome of tremendous internal revolutions.
…the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. ―Matthew 11:12
Wars will continue to exist on our planet because people expect external circumstances must change, not their interior life. Rioting, violence, despair, and destruction will perpetuate and condemn humanity to a vicious circle so long as people have delusions about “tomorrow,” that eventually, if we wait long enough, “things will get better.”
This is why Samael Aun Weor, the founder of the modern Gnostic tradition, stated in his book Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology:
The mechanical hope of people serves no purpose. They think that with time things will get better. Our grandfather and great grandfathers thought that way; however, facts have arrived to precisely demonstrate the opposite of this. ―Samael Aun Weor, Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology
Waiting around does not produce changes. People always look for political revolutions to transform the state of suffering they are in, ignoring that through regime change or usurpations, one oppressive form of government is replaced by another.
It would be better to rebel against our own states of mind than the external world. Such a spiritual revolution occurs when we go against our own habits, wants, desires, conditions. As we are now, we tend to be slaves of circumstances.
How is this the case? When we are insulted by an aggressor, we return with insults. We are betrayed, then we want to get revenge. When we are patted on the back, we smile.
People have the power to influence us as they wish, and in fact it takes very little effort to make us follow along with someone else’s program. Therefore, the question is: “Are we truly free?” And if not, “How do we become free?”
Examine your daily life. Do people influence you? Are you free from the desire for retaliation? When someone treats you with disrespect, are you able to respond with genuine kindness and concern, with selflessness, compassion? Do you act of your own volition, free of the prejudices, hatreds, and negativity of others? Or are you impelled by your own states of suffering: anger, resentment, anguish, fear, and pride, whenever someone rubs you the wrong way?
Our psychological states repeat in relation to the circumstances that provoke them. Trying to manipulate external circumstances will not produce radical change so long as our mind is egotistical, filled with conditions and suffering. If we truly want the external world to change, we must enact a transformation in our own psyche. Life will continue to roll on beyond our control if we do not know how to consciously manage our own psychological states, replacing the afflictions of mind and heart with the virtues of the soul.
Be sincere. Analyze the facts of your life. People who wait for change never experience it, because the world will continue as it is so long as we do not contribute to it in meaningful and conscious ways.
Spiritual and Psychological Revolutions
The path of the spiritual revolutionary, of the psychologist, is one of internalization: to look within the consciousness to discover the conditions that shape one’s existence. Therefore, rather than rebel against the government, which could be replaced by another far worse, it would be better to rebel against our own negative states of mind.
To be clear, when we use the term psychology, we do not refer to recent studies of the intellect, the brain, and its nervous systems. Instead, our studies focus on psyche, the soul, the consciousness, and its relationship to logos, the divine; psyche-logos, psycho-logy.
A true psychologist understands and manifests his own inner Being, her inner divinity, and because of this, experiences true freedom, bliss, free of external circumstances, afflictions, or conditions.
A spiritual rebel is someone like Jesus, Buddha, Moses, Krishna, Beethoven: individuals who fully manifested their spirit, true human beings in the most complete sense of the word. These masters unlocked their creative power and were able to influence millions, since by awakening the full potential of their consciousness, they rose to a higher level of Being so as to express that divinity to humanity.
Another example of such a revolutionary is William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. His own kingdom goes against him, yet he thinks for himself, feigning madness in order to gather information about his enemies. Who are those enemies? His own negativities, defects, desires. His uncle, mother, and old acquaintances, friends, try to provoke him to discover the source of his act, yet he always knows how to handle his foes with intelligence. This is a perfect allegory for how to live in life: observant, watchful, and wise, never reacting with suffering to circumstances, but knowing how to respond with equanimity and understanding.
Why, look you now, how unworthy a thing you make of me! You would play upon me. You would seem to know my stops. You would pluck out the heart of my mystery. You would sound me from my lowest note to the top of my compass. And there is much music, excellent voice, in this little organ, yet cannot you make it speak? 'Sblood, do you think I am easier to be played on than a pipe? Call me what instrument you will, though you can fret me, yet you cannot play upon me. ―Hamlet, Act III.ii
When we no longer react mechanically to life, when we chose how to respond with wisdom to difficult situations, to emotional crises, we can truly rebel against that which perpetuates affliction, chaos, and sorrow.
The Marvelous Ladder
Therefore, true change is demonstrated through psychological rebellion, through going against our own mechanical reactions to life, and not by trying to force the external world to conform with our ideas.
When we comprehend our own states of being, our own ways of thinking, feeling, and acting, and when we no longer go along with whatever negative response emerges within our interior, we are in truth enacting psychological rebellion.
The liberated consciousness knows how to respond to any situation with equanimity, serenity, and insight. When we act upon our genuine spiritual nature, and no longer follow the imperfections of our own character, we are in truth waging a spiritual war, here and now.
This is the war of the spirit against internal afflictions, against conditions of mind. This type of war has nothing to do with the fanaticism of certain religions or cultures that think that by forcing people to believe in a specific tradition, that one is performing good works, that one is a martyr, an apostle.
This spiritual war is type of conscious work enacted for the redemption of the soul, for its liberation and unification with divinity. Psychological rebellion exists when we rise towards a superior level of being.
Remember that we stated how consciousness can expand to infinite degrees. Divinity, the innermost Being, resides within the most profound regions of our own consciousness. We can learn to experience the Being and rise to higher levels of consciousness when we rebel against our own conditioned selves in this present moment.
…it is not irrelevant if we imagine the numerous rungs of a ladder which extends itself upwards, vertically.
The horizontal path relates to time and everything related to the world, with temporality, personality, birth, life, and death. On the horizontal line of life, we are born to this world, grow up, mature, become old, and pass out of physical existence.
It is easy to see that this horizontal path is traveled by everyone. People who live and never question their existence, who suffer all the outrages of life without ever really knowing why, adhere to the horizontal path of life in the most unconscious and severe manner. These people, the public, the masses, simply go with the flow of existence without looking into their own minds to discover the secret causes of affliction.
But what about the vertical path?
The vertical path relates to how one reacts or responds to life based on one’s quality of mind. The horizontal path will always exist, since it refers to the progression of events and experiences along the trajectory of physical life that emerge and repeat mechanically. Yet the vertical path has to do with whether we, as a consciousness, will learn to respond to life with rectitude and love, or react with animosity against the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.”
To live in the Being, to remember the presence of divinity in oneself, to be psychologically alert, is to be aware only of the present moment in which we are. The vertical path is constituted by levels of being, ascending towards superior states or descend towards inferior states, based on how we use our consciousness here and now.
What we are psychologically determines how we will respond to the horizontal line, to the facts of life.
When a person simply reacts to external circumstances with anger, frustration, negativity, suffering, and affliction, it is a sure indication that one is attached to the horizontal path. Yet by responding to situations with wisdom, understanding, and conscious love, we are in truth going against the flow of our own habits, dispositions, and desires, indicating that we are ascending to higher levels of being.
The Bible allegorizes the vertical path through Jacob’s ladder:
And [Jacob] dreamed, and behold a ladder [of the Vertical Path] set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it. ―Genesis 28:12
Heavenly states of being exist in the superior part of the vertical path. Diabolic states of consciousness exist in the inferior part of the vertical path, beneath the horizontal.
Heaven and hell are places in the multidimensionality of nature, yet more importantly refer to states of consciousness, as we explained in the previous lecture on “The Level of Being.”
Our level of being is determined by how we use our consciousness in the present moment, whether for good or for ill. We either ascend upon the vertical path based on spiritual works or descend through identifying with all the sorrows of life.
The Present Moment
To ascend to a higher level of being, we must awaken as a consciousness, here and now. We usually do not pay attention to the present moment but think only of the future or the past. Most people never contemplate the present instance in which they are, in its totality, richness, and novelty. This fundamental ignorance of what exists inside and outside of us, here and now, indicates that our consciousness is very asleep, that it is dreaming.
Since we have energy, some level of awareness that we are in our physical body, we tend to believe that we are awake. The reality, however, is different.
Humanity believes that dreams only relate to the sleep of the physical body. Yet people ignore that their consciousness is asleep even while the physical body is active. People who are unconscious in the dream state are also unconscious in their physical bodies. People whose consciousness is trained and awake through meditation in the physical body are also awake as a consciousness during the normal hours of physical sleep. They experience what are known as heavens in religion, different dimensions related to the Tree of Life that we spoke about previously. They leave behind the body and enter the dream world with full consciousness; they are no longer dreaming. They experience the realities of those internal worlds beyond the physical body with full awareness through what are known as out of body experiences and astral projections.
So besides this, how do we truly know humanity is not conscious?
People tend to live their entire lives in complete distraction. By this I do not just mean watching television or reality shows, by using Facebook or the iPhone, by going to Six Flags: Great America and roller coasters, by not being responsible members of society. While these are obvious examples of distraction, there exists a deeper application to this principle.
Why do people get into car accidents? Why do accidents happen? It’s because people are not paying attention. They are dreaming.
If it’s true that people get killed in accidents because they don’t pay attention, the same principle applies to spiritual life. Our spirituality is dead if our mind is constantly wandering with thoughts and anxieties, if we are always distracted in life and never paying attention to where we are at or where we are going.
You cannot experience divinity if you are thinking of your friends when washing the dishes, or when driving your car remembering your fiancée. You cannot know the Being if you are constantly distracted by memories, daydreams, preoccupations, and fantasies, instead of being attentive with whatever task engages you in the present moment.
To access higher states of consciousness, we must be present. We must be alert and vigilant as a consciousness. All religions and mystical traditions, in their original forms, taught that watchfulness of the present moment is the beginning of union with divinity. This means that if we are doing something, we don’t think or worry about other things, but only engage our attention and concentration to the task at hand.
While listening to this lecture, how often have you become distracted and lost the thread of my meaning? You might have been listening, but started thinking about other things, until your minds have wandered off completely. Suddenly, you remember, “I’m supposed to be listening!” This type of distracted thinking needs to be controlled by the consciousness. We must always learn to be watchful in all events and situations.
Experience of the truth occurs here and now, within our own perception, when a profound state of attention and remembrance has been established within our interior through conscious works. Yet this can only occur when we no longer allow ourselves to be distracted.
This is why certain traditions practiced vigils, whereby the practitioners would perform rituals without physically going to sleep. The essential meaning is that we, as a consciousness, must never lose our guard, must never cease paying attention to what is going on around and within us in this instant.
It is alert vigilance, watchfulness, that opens the doorway to seeing and understanding why we suffer. When you perceive in yourself your own negative psychological states and no longer invest them with your conscious energy, it is a sure indication that you are ascending to higher levels of being. This is the vertical path that leads towards different experiences of divinity, in gradual steps.
Our level of being, therefore, can only change when we are aware of this moment.
It is not irrelevant to remind our readers that a mathematical point exists within us. Unquestionably, such a point is never found either in the past or in the future. Whosoever wants to discover that mysterious point must look for it here and now within oneself at this exact moment, not a second earlier, not a second later. The two horizontal and vertical lines of the Holy Cross intersect at this point. Thus, we find ourselves from moment to moment before two paths: the Horizontal and the Vertical. ―Samael Aun Weor, Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology
To be is different from existing mechanically in life. As Hamlet stated, “To be or not to be, that is the question.” To remember the presence of the Being by ascending the vertical path, or to be unconscious of the truth by following the horizontal line of life: that is the essential question of Shakespeare’s play. To live mechanically is to live identified with personality, materialism, mechanical thoughts, desires, habits, addictions, preoccupations, anxieties, monetary needs, work problems, struggles in relationships. To think that one is thinking, to be lost in the mind and its conditions, is to be asleep, dreaming.
As we mentioned, when people do no pay attention on the road, they end up crashing their car and killing themselves and others. This is a very common occurrence.
When we allow ourselves to be distracted by our own mind and the difficulties of life, we are traveling the horizontal path. But when we consciously rebel against negative qualities of mind through perceiving the present moment in its fullness, we are in truth ascending the vertical path of being.
The Being is Not of Time
Therefore, eternity is the present moment. People like to think of eternity as some utopia in the clouds, that one will reach after living a pious life of belief and servility to some tradition. These types of illusions, however, constitute the mechanical hopes of people, since beliefs and traditions belong to the horizontal line of life, to time. Such thoughts, beliefs, religions, and ways of thinking are born in time and die in time. It is enough to look at the birth, life, and decay of certain past civilizations to see this dynamic in action.
The Being, however, is eternal. The consciousness, with its multiple levels, exists in different rungs, higher and higher, in the present instance, not in the future, nor the past. Truth is the unknown, discovered within ourselves from moment to moment. We can experience the spiritual flavor of the Being and of the psychological qualities of the consciousness by learning to direct attention and keep it active in all events of life.
The Being is beyond thought, feeling, and will. Our consciousness emanated from the Being, and has nothing to do with thinking, desires, or conditions.
Consciousness is simply the capacity to perceive without thought, feeling, or impulse. To think that we are thinking, to feel that we are feeling, to act without internal self-reflection, indicates that the consciousness is not active, but identified with thought, feeling, and desire. It is mechanical, dreaming.
Therefore, how can we experience and unite with the Being if we are caught up in thinking and reacting to the mechanical circumstances of life, by not paying attention to what is going on?
Whenever we are caught in thinking or daydreaming of other things, we become lost in the horizontal line of life, with temporality, which is a subjective form of experience.
As Samael Aun Weor indicated, everyone has their own ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving. Everyone has diverse levels of being, different dispositions and character. Such dispositions and habits are subjective, not objective. Our own beliefs, ways of thinking, and behaving are unique to us. Yet the Being is different, objective, truthful, beyond the temporal personality.
Most of humanity has no idea what the Being is, because they do not look within themselves for divinity. To experience the Being, we must learn to awaken consciousness, since our soul, our perception, is the only thing that can help us to understand what the truth is, beyond time, thought, feeling, habit, and desire.
As Einstein wisely postulated, “Time is relative.” Only the Being is eternal, is never subjected to time, beliefs, dreams, ideas, or concepts.
People have a lot of theories about God, religion, science, philosophy. But none of it is grounded in actual experience. All these theories and beliefs are relative to the minds and conceptions of people whose consciousness is asleep, is dreaming. All of this has to do with traditions, which belong to time, the horizontal line of life.
Someone who awakens consciousness can experience the Being, the reality. Therefore, such a person possesses true objective knowledge. Such a person knows the truth because he or she has ascended to higher levels of Being upon the vertical path.
Only by rebelling against ourselves, here and now, by fighting against daydreams, fantasies, and wishful thinking, by learning to pay attention, can we experience the Being within us. This rebellion is enacted when we work as a consciousness to overcome the distractions of the mind.
Whenever we are thinking of other things than what we are doing, we are asleep, dreaming. We dream whenever we identify with temporal things, whenever we give all our energy to material existence, to the things that relate to our personality.
Sadly, most people believe that their name, language, culture, customs, religion, and beliefs, constitutes their true nature. These things, however, are born in time and die in time. They have nothing to do with the consciousness, the Being, the eternal.
The personality develops and unfolds on the Horizontal Line of Life. The personality is born and dies with its linear time; it is mortal. A “tomorrow” does not exist for the personality of the dead person. The personality is not the Being.
Everyone loves their heritage, their inheritance, their self-concepts, personalities, and beliefs. Yet humanity ignores how these types of materialistic and even so-called “spiritual” things were born in time and die in time. They have nothing to do with conscious experience or objective fact.
People dream about who they are; their name, culture, customs, and education will not continue with them past the grave. Therefore, “To be or not to be!” That is our dilemma.
Therefore, psychological rebellion refers to our internal disassociation with the illusions we carry within ourselves, to experience the true nature of the Being, which is happiness, peace, divine love, patience, altruism, and direct knowledge.
Psychological rebellion is about transforming the mind, to become conscious of that which we typically ignore. We learn to gather information and data about our genuine spiritual nature the more we reflect on the present instance in which we find ourselves.
Internal Revolution and the Vertical Path
Most people follow life mechanically and never question their identity, their language, customs, beliefs, habits, and desires. However, people who are tired of suffering question themselves and inquire into the source of their most intimate problems, which are psychological. Transforming our sufferings in the present moment through superior action indicates progress in the vertical path or levels of Being.
It is apparent that the Horizontal path is too base; it is traveled by my buddy and everybody, by those who are juvenile and those who are senile. It is evident that the Vertical is different; it is the path of intelligent rebels, of revolutionaries.
Therefore, spiritual revolutions occur within the soul when it learns to pay attention and constantly maintain mindfulness. By observing ourselves and not assuming we know anything, to simply look at the facts of our existence, we begin to see and live within the consciousness.
To be identified is to invest our energy, our consciousness, into circumstances, with conditions of mind, with thoughts, feelings, or impulses.
Non-identification occurs when we observe the facts of life without becoming worried, depleted. We do what we need to do with heightened attention and watchfulness, with compassion and equanimity, so that we do not lose energy in negative thinking, negative emotions, and negative actions.
Non-identification and self-reflection is how we can learn to live life with greater serenity, insight, and compassion, to discover and uproot the psychological causes of suffering in a permanent manner. We don’t react mechanically and habitually to external events, but respond with comprehension, intuition, and pure action, devoid of the need to think. Traveling the vertical path, therefore, is making conscious choices, rather than lashing out towards the injustices and circumstances of life.
Psychological Change and Genuine Freedom
True freedom, then, occurs through psychological revolutions, which help us to go against the causes of suffering in ourselves. By discovering our true, divine nature, we enter and follow the ascending, vertical path for profound, radical, and genuine transformation.
This type of work is profound. It is about taking the path of greatest resistance, the resistance of years of habits and conditions in the mind. However, such a path must be distinguished from superficial changes, like adopting or changing one’s habits in a conventional sense.
Renouncing alcohol or smoking―although wonderful―is superficial in the larger scale. People tend to give up habits while engaging in new ones, failing to comprehend and eliminate the desires or conditions of mind that exist in the subconsciousness of a person. While it is an achievement for an alcoholic or drug addict to renounce their destructive habits, the unconscious elements or desires for alcohol and drugs will continue to exist until the consciousness learns to eliminate such conditions through the work of the vertical path.
The more we free ourselves of psychological conditions, the greater our insight into the Being will be.
It would be absurd, obviously, to look for our own Being outside of ourselves. Therefore, it is not irrelevant to establish the following as a corollary: titles, ranks, promotions, etc. in the external physical world cannot in any way originate authentic exaltation, re-evaluation of the Being, or a move to a higher rung in the Levels of Being. ―Samael Aun Weor, Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology
Discovering the Being has nothing to do with diplomas, with a college education or intellectualism, with becoming a scholar and paragon of knowledge. The exaltation and re-evaluation of the Being occurs within someone who rebels against their own psychological conditions and the sufferings such states produce in the consciousness.
We must learn to ascend the ladder of being towards the light of our true divine nature. The way that a person ascends such a vertical path is through self-reflection, meditation, and humility. Sincerity opens the doorway to real change. When we truly want to cease suffering, we must examine our own selves and not try to run away through vain dreams, speculations, assumptions, and theories. We should ask the question: “What in me provokes all the calamities and afflictions of my existence?” By taking responsibility for our own actions, we in truth can develop our greatest potential, securing our own happiness as well as the happiness of others.
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