It is always good, at the beginning of lectures, to be present, to be aware of our mind, our mental state, our thoughts, but also our emotional qualities or mood, to take a moment, to get centered. If we are at home, if we’re driving, wherever we’re listening, we should become present, here and now, to listen with profound attention, to set aside analysis, interpretation, the mind, to learn to receive, with a pristine and clear cognition, to listen with our heart.
It is in this way that we can learn to perceive the new, and if you’ve been following the sequence of this lecture series, you’ve been given many practices that teach you how to perceive the novel, the unusual, the original, that which is sparkling and new, something we’ve never seen before, and which escapes the mind, that which cannot be confined to a label, a category, a box.
The intellect is useful for storing information. But it can only compare. It cannot discern the profound reality of the thing, the experience. If you’ve ever looked at a sunset, our concepts cannot equate with the beauty and the reality of that pristine moment. It is something unusual and rare. It escapes definition. This is the quality of conscious astral projections: a state of reality that is beyond the body, that is so clear, colorful and vibrant, that it is more real than our physical existence, our physical states.
It is this innate beauty that attracts us to the study of dreams. It is what draws us to remember dreams, which was the focus of our last lecture. Now we are going to take a close examination of how to consciously enter the dream state, to make something mechanical, unconscious and unintentional into something conscious. So rather than looking at a sunset and getting lost in our own approximations or estimations of that beauty, we merely see the dream for what it is, our illusions, our attachments, and instead, we can access something more, beyond the limits of the mind.
I will say that there are some advantages to being mechanical. We’ve talked a lot about this, how we often react to life without understanding. We don’t really understand the roots of our behaviors. We’re not really conscious of ourselves. Mechanicity is something that can be utilized for our spiritual development in the sense that our own behaviors, mind, and states are predictable. We can learn to anticipate and recognize the novelty of the moment by first becoming aware of our own psychology, to recognize the patterns of our daily life. When we do that in our waking state, we will do it within dreams, and in this way, we will start to see more.
We can even experience recurring dreams. We remember them because they emerge within our interior, boldly, and with great impact. These recurring dreams are useful. We can take dreams, we can focus upon them, and we can become conscious of them, so that by entering the dreaming state willingly, we learn to enter the astral world, and then to depart from the dream itself, to be awake, to see the reality, to see the internal dimensions.
We will talk a lot about this―recurring dream symbols―how we can use them to our advantage, how we can become aware of how we dream all the time, and how we can learn to see them for what they are, to enter them, to understand them, and then to transcend them. We will give you some techniques for this particular practice.
Preliminaries for Tantric Dream Discipline
There are a couple of preliminaries that I would like to review for you, briefly, so that we can have some context for why we are studying this discipline.
As we emphasized before, it is important to remember and document all dreams. We do so so that we have some material by which to study ourselves. We don’t want to forget our inner experiences within the astral world. We want to have enough data to look for the new.
We want to profoundly watch for unusual or anomalous dream experiences, because when you are documenting your dreams, you will start to see recurring themes, much in the same way that you will find a narrative in your own life: the things we tell ourselves at our work, in our relationships, in our homes, in our travels. We want to study that which repeats, so that we can transcend it, and when we document our dreams, we may find that something new emerges within our experience.
This constant awareness, this study of ourselves, is known as tantra within the Tibetan Buddhist sense. Tantra means “continuum.” It is the infinite. It is the continuity and comprehension of consciousness that we develop within ourselves through practice. It is a state of awakening that is constant. It does not rest. It is the state of awareness that does not sleep, but is present even in dreams, that can begin to understand the new, to see what is unusual.
Also by documenting our dreams, we can learn to distinguish a gradual progression of dream experiences. We see that there is a type of thread uniting all of it. In the beginning we may dream vague, incoherent, crazy states, though with time we begin to see there is more cohesion. Our dream states become more integral. They are less dispersed and fragmented amongst confused and delusional states.
We should also discriminate the distinct qualities, moods, and impact of our dreams, especially the dreams that have the most significance for us, even if we don’t know what they mean. The mood, the quality and the impact of the dream is really important to analyze within ourselves, because if a dream has a great influence on us―perhaps in a positive or a negative sense―it means that it is going to have some type of deeper significance and impact, a greater consequence for our spiritual life.
Now, to really begin to use our dreams to our advantage, to learn to take a dream and to learn how to enter it willingly, we have to really identify recurring dreams. We have to document them. When you find that pattern, it is like a key that can open up the door to the internal worlds. It is a doorway into our inner reality.
Usually, recurring dreams which have a spiritual flavor come in the form of symbols. They arrive from the spiritual world and condense within the astral dimension to teach us something profound. When we see those symbols, we can learn to consciously concentrate upon them, to imagine them, and then to enter them by falling asleep in meditation.
In the process of this we have to revere and aspire through such divine archetypes, these allegories of the spirit. To revere and to aspire mean to feel a sense of beauty and awe before the new. In the conglomeration and messiness of our dreams, we find patterns that make sense. So, we can utilize them as a source of religion, of yoga, of reunion, because we know they come from God, and they help us to yearn for the truth. They are a rope that can pull us out of the abyss, into the heights of understanding.
The Divine Mother
The source of all that wisdom is the Divine Mother Kundalini. She is a symbol of a profound core reality of our Being, our inner divinity.
Many people talk about the divine feminine, and all religions pay homage to her. She is an expression, an enfoldment, a quality of God.
We have an image here of the Virgin Mary, a representation of the divine feminine that gives birth to something spiritual within us. Some people get caught up in the names of different religions, different traditions, rather than looking at what the sign points towards. You have many flags, many nations, with their symbols. Like diverse countries and states, all religions are like flags, with their symbols that represent the unity of the divine.
The Divine Mother is our inner goddess. She is part of us. She is profound compassion, serenity and love, and she, the truth, is the one who inspires us within dreams. The Tibetan Buddhists call her Tara. She is the one who creates order within us, equanimity, dispassion, peace. She is the light that illuminates our astral experiences when they are objective and real, and she can teach us within dreams, how to awaken.
Amongst the Aztecs, and I believe the Maya, she is known as Tonantzin. Tonantzin is an honorific title like “Our Lady” or “Our Great Mother.” This title has been used to designate the Goddess of Sustenance, the Snake Goddess, the Bringer of Maize, Mother of Corn, and the Honored Grandmother.
These are not literal representations. They are symbols, just as dreams are symbolic. Likewise, there are symbols within religion that are oneiric. They are condensed and compacted within the language and parables of dreams.
She is the one that gives us sustenance, who gives us hope, who gives us food for our soul. She feeds the consciousness with wisdom through astral experiences. She heals the broken heart, and she teaches through the inspirational symbols of dreams. So she may arrive in many forms, whatever is conducive for our development, like the snake, the serpent, which in its positive sense, is the divine energy of her, the bronze serpent that healed the Israelites in the wilderness of pain. She is a balm for all suffering, and that her energy, her wisdom, kills that which is impure within us.
She is known as Teteoinan, “Mother of the Gods” coming from Teteoh, plural of Teotl, “God,” and innan, “their mother.” This is another name for Quetzalcoatl, from coatl, “snake,” and icue , signifying “she who has the skirt of snakes.” Beautiful symbols with profound meaning, which make sense to us the more we awaken within the astral world where those symbols unfold magically before us.
She is the serpentine energy of Kundalini, mentioned in Hindu yoga, and we work with her through Tantric Buddhist practice, through the continual awakening of the soul, in order to see reality. We call upon her because she is the one who helps to organize our inner experiences. She is the one who creates integrity within the soul, and when in our dreams, when they are chaotic, futile, incoherent, strange, illogical, instinctive, animal, she comes to us like a breath of fresh air, with a quality that is so distinct that the soul knows that this is from our own divinity.
Recurring Dreams: The Initiator or Unifying Element
So as we are exploring our dreams, as we are documenting them, we begin to find patterns, as I said. We start to see recurring dreams. There are dreams that begin to repeat which no longer have the flavor of something subjective, illusory, or egotistical. They speak to our heart, even if we don’t understand what they mean. However, there is a way to learn to understand what they mean.
When you have a recurring dream, when something appears amongst the chaotic and formless expression of your own unconsciousness, you will start to see a state or a symbol, a situation, color, a sound, a person―anything that hits us and inspires us and makes us question what is really going on here. What is being taught to me? What am I seeing? What is happening here? This is known as the initiator or unifying element of dreams.
People call it recurring dreams. We call it the initiator element. It is the initiator element because it is the symbol, the key, the entrance to the internal worlds. It is a symbol or a message that is giving us some type of clue regarding our own psychological states, our situation in life, our sufferings, and also the solution. It is also a symbol that can be utilized to initiate a very particular type of spiritual work.
We call it the unifying element because out of the plethora and plurality of conflicting and disparate desires and dreams, we find a symbol that makes sense, even if intellectually we don’t have a definition or an explanation. But there is something there that is very deep. It is a unifying element.
All of our chaotic dreams begin to unify in a sense, within our attention, by this recurring dream. The symbol both initiates us, and we can use it to initiate conscious awakening. As I said, when you recognize a pattern in your life, you can begin to find a solution to things, whether it is in your daily states or within your dreams.
So when you learn to become conscious of a recurring dream, you can begin to utilize that for your understanding. When that recurring dream happens again and you recognize it, you immediately know that you are in the astral world. You are shocked. You are sparked to attention. You are alert and aware that you are not in your body. You are present.
This unifying element is really like a thread, Ariadne’s thread within Greek mythology, that leads us out of the labyrinth of our mind. It is a rope given to us by divinity, for by concentrating upon it, by imagining it, by focusing on it when we fall asleep, we can start to initiate the conscious awakening of our soul within the astral dimension.
We can say that the initiator element symbolizes what we need to comprehend most in ourselves. More particularly, it relates to how we must change, how we must stop dreaming physically, daydreaming, letting the mind wander, not being concentrated, not being awake, alert in our daily life. This initiator element or recurring dream can teach us something about our essential problem in our life, what keeps us hypnotized. What is the repeating behavior that we continue to enact that makes us and others suffer? Because without rectifying that, we will not awaken. We will be dreaming all the time.
This initiator element helps us to make sense of physical events. Dreams are merely the internal reflection of our physical reality. If our dreams do not coincide with physical facts, then we have to discard them as illusory. But the initiator element, the recurring dream, helps us to recognize our problem, what we need to do, what we must work upon.
Now it is possible to possess more than one initiator element. What qualifies them is that they are impactful and that they recur. They have a very distinct quality, mood and even prophetic element. They can predict for us things that are going to happen in the daytime. Whatever situations of life hit us, they can teach us about what is going on.
An example of a recurring dream can be the sky. This is something that many people have experienced. We have in this image a citadel floating upon an island in the clouds. On the left we see the rising sun, and on the right, the moon. A young girl walks towards the horizon, contemplating both paths. Oftentimes, the sky in our dreams is showing us, by divinity, the state of our mind, the qualities of our mind.
If the sky is full of clouds, if they are obscured, it means that we are very asleep: physically and internally, in a spiritual sense. We do not understand where we are at, where we came from, or where we are going. If the sky is clear, if the sun is rising, that is something very positive, because something is being born in you, something spiritual: virtues, humility, patience, compassion.
The full moon will often reflect moral pain because it is related to the lunar forces. We know that the moon, physically, is mechanical, and it has great influence on our planet in terms of menstruation in women, the flowing of the tides, and a lot of animal life on our planet is regulated by the moon. Even crimes rates are deeply affected by the lunar influence. We even have the term “lunatic,” relating to those people whose minds are very diseased.
The moon is a symbol of suffering, and depending on how full it is, this determines for us the magnitude of whatever suffering we are going to experience. These are warnings from divinity, not meant to punish or put fear in the soul, but to help us be conscious, to be prepared for life.
If a person is sick with cancer, it is important that he or she knows the diagnosis from the doctor. Our doctor is our Divine Mother, and she shows us within dreams what is most necessary for us, what we need to be cautious about, to be prepared for, to be watchful.
Some people, their recurring dream might be their childhood home. Maybe you wake up in your old house where you grew up. You see your parents there, your family. These can also be a recurring, initiator, unifying symbol. Your divine parents often come in the form of your physical parents, and seeing them is important. We need to see divinity, who often takes the form of our physical parents, to teach us something symbolic.
Another recurring dream could be something like a car, an object. Some people dream of cars. A car is a symbol of knowledge. It is a vehicle of the mind. How you drive is how you drive your mind. So if you’re being shown a car in your dreams, it could be teaching you about how you’re using your mind in your daily life.
Are you driving off the cliff? Are the wheels falling off? Or are you on the road, arriving to your spiritual destination, with your loved ones, your friends, with your spiritual family?
Beautiful symbols. They repeat depending on the person. Not all people will have the same recurring dream, but these are some common ones, some interesting ones.
The car can also symbolize the internal bodies: our emotional body, the astral body, the mental body, the causal body. Beautiful symbols.
So when you recognize what that recurring dream is, you can take it, concentrate upon it, imagine it, and enter it willingly. This is often very useful for after you’ve just woken up from bed. Maybe you wake up in the middle of the night after having a recurring dream, something vivid, something profound, and you want to go back to sleep. You want to re-enter that dream. You want to enter it consciously. You want to see it for what it is, to confront it, live it, experience it more, and even transcend it for something more divine.
So the first clue is to not move your body when you wake up. We talked about this in How to Remember Dreams. Don’t open your eyes. You wake up. You are in bed again. You just returned to your body, perhaps early in the morning, 3 or 4 am. This is very common for people. Close your eyes, concentrate, and relax. Remember the dream you just left. Before, you had the dream. You experienced it. You brought the memory back into your physical brain. Now when you wake up in bed, you want to try to maintain the lucidity of that state, the clarity, the magic, and then, you are going to focus on it. You are going to imagine it, and you are going to fall asleep. In principle you are going to meditate on it.
Meditation in the Sacred Arcana
This process is beautifully symbolized by The Eternal Tarot of Alchemy and Kabbalah. You see the first 3 arcana, the first 3 laws of the sacred tarot represented here. These 3 cards represent this entire practice, the essence of meditation, the essence of becoming conscious in dreams.
These are beautiful symbols from the Egyptian pantheon, but they’re not exclusive or limited to Egyptian mythology. They are eternal principles related to the consciousness. The tarot are often depicted with Egyptian symbols because it is most convenient for our understanding, particularly within Western esotericism. It is not to say that the tarot themselves, what they represent, is literal to the cards themselves. We use art to reflect consciousness, and these beautiful art forms show us something very luminous and spiritual. They are archetypes. They are principles and forces. They represent the qualities and states of divinity, and how we must practice if we want to enter consciously into dreams.
Numbers are in themselves something intuitive. Rather than just being mere quantities, they are qualities of the spirit. They represent forces, eternal truths.
The first card of the tarot is The Magician. He is a masculine principle. He is the Divine Father that initiates spiritual life. The staff in his hand is a symbol of willpower, and he stands above a cubic stone, mastering the stone of our energies, the foundation of our spiritual life, our vital force. Our vital energy, the vital body, is really the foundation of our spiritual practice. If you want to know more about how to work with the vital energy, you can study The Perfect Matrimony by Samael Aun Weor.
In synthesis, this magician stands upon a stone, because his foundation is in the work of conserving and transforming energy. By saving psychological, emotional, physical, vital and spiritual energy, we empower our consciousness. We learn to stand spiritually. We are no longer weak people, vulnerable, victims of circumstances. We can concentrate on anything and not get distracted.
We learn to see life for what it is, symbolized by the eyes of Ra or Horus, seen above the Magician, in the top third of the card. These eyes of the spirit are the sign of the infinite, the continuum of conscious awareness, remembering ourselves physically and when we sleep.
Those stars behind the Magician represent illuminated spiritual qualities when the mind is very serene and clear, calm, dispassionate. If you have dreams of seeing beautiful stars in the sky, that is very positive, because it represents that the Divine Father is present with you.
There are objects on the card: a vase and a sword. These are deep symbols, representing the duality of sexuality, which is also talked about in The Perfect Matrimony by Samael Aun Weor. They represent masculine and feminine energies that we can learn to work with, to develop concentration.
So with concentration, you are bringing to attention the dream that you just experienced. You focus on it. You remember it. But looking at it, unwaveringly without distraction, is not enough. You have to see it with deep, vibrant clarity. That is the quality of imagination, the next card: The High Priestess.
She is the Divine Mother Kundalini who holds an Ankh cross above her breast, a symbol of spiritual life. She feeds her children with wisdom, from an open book, and her dress is a mantle of stars, signifying her absolute perfection.
She represents for us, sitting there, the passive quality of the consciousness. Or better said, the passivity of our mind. She is active, reading a book. She is looking from behind her mysterious veil, because she sees through illusion.
She is the quality of imagination: the ability to take an image, such as from a dream, and to see it, to look at it with a lot of depth, range, color, hues. She has a profound, penetrative insight, the ability to see internal images, to see them for what they are. With imagination we are looking and seeing―with our mind’s eye, with a calm mind and an active consciousness―the dream itself.
The Magician is active because in the beginning it takes a lot of willpower to concentrate. But with imagination, with the Divine Mother, we learn to receive wisdom. That is why she sits on a throne. She is passive, not in that she allows bad things to happen, or doesn’t act, but she is perfect stillness of the lake of our mind. When the lake of our mind is calm, it can reflect images. If the surface of our waters, if our mental states are agitated, we will only see chaos. So the more equanimitous and calm we are in mind, the more we will see.
This is why it is very beautiful, wonderful, and opportune to wake up from a dream, and to have it fresh within our mind. We can go back to sleep, we can concentrate upon the dream, we can imagine it, so that we can awaken.
This is the third card of the tarot: The Empress. The Empress is the perfected soul. She has 12 stars above her head, relating to the Zodiac, the laws of eternity, and many beautiful spiritual archetypes.
A beautiful bird representing the Holy Spirit flocks to her. She sits on a cubic stone of perfection, a symbol of the purity, the clarity, and the magnitude of awakening. She is the ruler of our spiritual kingdom, and she represents for us the fact and quality of going back to sleep, and reliving the recurring dream.
When you concentrate upon it and imagine it with clarity, hold it with your attention and fall asleep, you will awaken again in the dream. You will relive it in full activity. This is the opportunity, when you awaken, to go from that dream to explore the astral dimension.
Separating from Dreams
Now, the initiator element is useful for this practice. But it is not the only dream we can use. This principle can be used with any dream experience. It just takes practice, takes some skill. But with patience, it can be done.
So, initiate the dream. Begin it again and relive it. The next step, when you’re within the dream, is to know how to separate from it. Some people can do the first step, but not the second, and for that, we need meditation.
Meditation teaches us how to separate from illusory dreams, to discriminate what is true and what is false. We can train the consciousness within the daily state of our existence to not react to the different impressions and external stimuli of life.
We often go through life asleep, mechanically, with the five centers of the human machine, reacting to different situations, but not really comprehending them, understanding them, seeing them for what they are.
So in meditation, we pray to our Divine Mother. We ask for strength to awaken within a dream, and have the strength necessary to depart from it. Oftentimes people will relive the dream, but then become unaware again. Then a few hours pass, they return to bed, and they lost their chance. If you train yourself within your waking life to not get caught up in dreams, when you learn to meditate on your dreams—your thoughts, your emotions, your movements, your habits, your desires—you can see them for what they are, and no longer feed them the precious energy of your consciousness. We don’t waste energy. We examine dreams and how our ego keeps us asleep and steals that precious part of us that we need to cultivate.
Part of this practice in meditation involves becoming drowsy. Become drowsy. Let your body rest. Introspect. Concentrate and remember the events of your day. Examine and imagine the moments of your day in which you were interacting with other people, when you were at different places, when you were involved with life, and look at the ways that you dream.
At what moments did you get distracted?
When does your mind become confused?
When do your emotions make you bewildered, vulnerable and weak?
Where do you desires take control of you?
If you can’t see those instincts and impulses and thoughts for what they are, and separate from them, it will be very difficult to do this practice, to do the return practice. The return practice is taking the initiator element, concentrating and imagining it, falling asleep, and entering the dream willingly, to return to your dreams, to consciously enter dreams.
If you want to be able to enter the dream but then to leave it, at will, you have to train yourself.
Achieve the very delicate balance of wakefulness and sleep, when your body is drifting off but you’re very clear. You maintain continuity of remembrance, and look at the ways, in your daily life, that your ego keeps you pulled and dispersed and distracted, pulled in multiple directions.
You will gain more strength if you practice this: reviewing your day, retrospecting your day, remembering your day. Look at yourself, find your weaknesses, and comprehend them. In this way you take your initiator element willingly. You have a robust attention, a very well-developed imagination, and you can enter with great ease into your dreams, and then leave them if you wish to explore the astral world.
Four Blessings: Steps for Entering Dreams
As you are practicing this exercise, you will experience what is known in Tibetan Buddhism as the Four Blessings. These are the different steps for entering dreams.
The first is Revealing Light.
The second is Increasing Light.
The third is Immediate Realization, and the last is Inner Profound Illumination.
Every dream manifests through these four blessings. We have to learn to recognize what they are, because they are an eternal process. Every time you go to bed, every time you go to sleep, you go through these stages—consciously or unconsciously. The latter tends to be the case for most people. But if you learn to understand what these are, you can very intentionally comprehend and initiate your dream Tantric Buddhist practice.
But it takes a lot of efforts. We have to be very patient with ourselves, and to have some tenacity to try this every time we go to sleep, to try to recognize these states whenever we sleep.
These are known as the Four Lights within Tibetan Buddhism. More specifically, we call them the Four Blessings.
Revealing Light is perceived during the first hours of sleep. Many people report, when they go to bed, hearing a cacophony of voices or sounds. These are the voices of our different egos. They are residual impressions from our day that are manifesting within our consciousness.
So if you are paying attention as you are resting in bed or sleeping, you will start to hear these sounds. They are like fragmentary, broken expressions of half-truths. Some of them are male voices. Some of them are female. Some of them are animals. These are representations of our own ego, the multiplicity of our defects, which are slowly starting to detach themselves from the physical body. So as you are transitioning into dreaming, and you are trying to become conscious of your dreams, to learn to enter dreams willingly, you will start to see and perceive these things. They are memories, impressions, images, conversations, sounds, lights, and many different thoughts that flow and flux, that churn, through association, and seemingly without order. They emerge from the abyss of our consciousness, and if you’re watching them, you see them emerge, sustain, and then pass.
You want to maintain this state when you are entering dreams, to have enough distance from those elements that you don’t get caught up, identified or hypnotized by them. You want to see them for what they are, and just watch, like you are a director making a film and different actors are coming onto the stage and screen of your awareness.
These impressions are often very undesirable. Some people get very uncomfortable when they recognize that our psychology is riddled with faults. There may be snippets of conversations from earlier in our day that are tinged with negative emotion: anger, resentment, pride, fear. This Revealing Light is named so because you’re starting to tear the veil to the internal worlds. Such perceptions, coming from our interior, are often qualities that are undigested. They just emerge, and when we look at them and comprehend them, they lose their power and they pass.
These egos emerge because as we are entering the astral world, our defects and our desires are beginning to detach themselves from the five cylinders of our human machine. So this is very good if you’re seeing this! It is important. It is necessary.
Do not lose your concentration, and your observation. Be present. In this way, you enter Increasing Light.
As your sleep becomes much deeper, the residual impressions and the train of discriminatory thoughts fortunately dissolve. They dissipate. They cease, and in the stillness and vastness of your consciousness, you start to receive a very profound and invigorating astral energy. These are the astral forces that are separating your consciousness from your physical body.
Many people report, at this stage, the electrical sensations of departing within the astral body. Your light is increasing, because you are beginning to transition to the astral world. You are about to achieve a conscious astral projection. Some people get very frightened by this stage, because the sensations are often very unusual. If you have not felt or experienced them before, you can be very frightened, mostly because they are unknown. But they are not dangerous! We do this all the time, but we’re just not aware of it. We are not conscious of it. We do not remember it.
With familiarity and practice, you will start to look forward to these sensations, these psychic vibrations, and welcome them, because they are indicating to you that you are on the right path. You are about to enter the astral world consciously. You are entering the threshold. Some people get very excited, or fearful, and they may lose the experience. But with meditation, with familiarity, with practice, you can learn to train yourself to experience this state again and again, so that you do not get afraid of it. You do not fear it. You allow it to happen.
Just like you breathe, just like you drink water, just like your heart beats, these are a part of you, in order to sustain your physical life. In a sense it is your spiritual life that is sustained. You are allowed to enter the internal worlds so that your body can rest. It is a function of nature. Nothing is dangerous about it, and you will come back to your body when it is time. So, nothing to fear there. So, do not be afraid, and do not get identified. Do not get caught up in it.
In this way, if you maintain your vigilance, and allow yourself to enter the astral plane, to consciously astral project and enter the dream of your choice, you enter Immediate Realization.
With our practice we are going beyond the first two lights to experience two superior lights. This here is the awakened consciousness. It is direct knowledge of the astral world. It is Immediate Realization because it happens in the moment. We are awake. We know that we have entered, and now we can begin to enter the dream, or revisit the dream of our choice, to understand it, and even to go beyond it.
So this happens oftentimes, in these recurring dreams, this Immediate Realization, often in an unconscious way. Sometimes we may have a dream or go through a recurring dream, where we are acting in it and seeing it, but not realizing it. Here in this practice, we want to be intentional. We want to be specific. We want to take the unconscious process and become aware of it. We know we are in the astral body. We are seeing things for what they are.
Inner Profound Illumination
But there is another stage, something much deeper than merely being awake in the astral plane. We have what is called Inner Profound Illumination.
These are the most elevated mystical states that are possible for us. This is when we are guided by our inner God, when we are speaking face to face with divinity, through symbols, through messages, through teachings.
Inner Profound Illumination is when the ego is not there. There is only the soul and the Being. So, the recurring dream is useful for this because it helps you enter the astral plane. You relive the dream, then you have the possibility of stepping away from it. You have the Immediate Realization that you are awake in your astral body, and now you have the choice to go explore that dimension and to invoke your inner God. So with Inner Profound Illumination we invoke divinity, and our Divine Mother and our Divine Father can concur to our call to teach us what we need to know. Usually these states that are the most illuminated do not have any type of egotistical element if we’re very dedicated. In the beginning, it will take some practice to get there.
Preparation for Death
This process of entering the Four Lights, the Four Blessings, returning to dreams consciously, is really preparing us for death.
Sleep and death are the same process. We have explained this before. If we lack cognizance of our internal life, if we do not see anything, it means that we will be unconscious when we die. So we have to learn to train and awaken ourselves now, to prepare for these states after death. This is the principal tenet of The Tibetan Book of the Dead, the Bardo Thödol, and by awakening in the astral, we can investigate superior states and we can talk to people who have died.
The Four Blessings in themselves help us enter the heavenly realms represented by this diagram of the Tree of Life. These four blessings are a form of conscious death. You learn to willingly enter the dream, enter the dreaming world, the world of the dead, so that we can resurrect within it, to go beyond our dreams, to leave our dreams behind. This is a miniature form of death and resurrection. As stated in the Qur’an, Surah 39, verse 42:
It is Allah that takes the souls of men at death, and those that die not, he takes during their sleep. Those on whom he has passed the decree of death, he keeps back from returning to life. For the rest he sends to their bodies for a term appointed. Verily in this are signs for those who reflect. ―Qur’an 39:42
So awakening to the Four Blessings will allow us to explore the heavenly realms. This is why we practice the return practice.
The Guardian Angel
To consciously enter dreams, to go beyond them and to see the higher realities, and in the process of this, we can work with what is known as the Guardian Angel.
We can work with a part of our Being that can help us to awaken within dreams. The Guardian Angel is very popular within our culture, especially Christianity. But often those symbols are now caricatures of a distant reality.
The Guardian Angel has many powers within the soul. It is a part of our inner divinity who helps guard us in our spiritual life, our spiritual path. But more importantly, it teaches us how to consciously access our dreams.
So we explained previously how the Being has many manifold expressions that all work in unity with the diverse functions of our being, which become perfected as we transform our psychology. We mentioned a few before like Morpheus and the Maiden of Memories, but the Guardian Angel is very distinct. This Guardian Angel is something very special and unique to us, and can help us maintain continuity of attention within the dreaming state. Once we are there, we can call upon our Guardian Angel within dreams to perform many magical works for us, which are very universal and unlimited.
The authentic knowledge of the Guardian Angel was preserved amongst the initiatory Mystery Schools and was maintained within distinct monasteries and orders from antiquity.
So we can invoke our Guardian Angel as we are falling to sleep, but also in the dream state itself, when we return to a dream, in order to take us to where we want to go, to go beyond ourselves.
Initiates of dream yoga discipline can awaken internally, and when we are clear, awake, ecstatic with joy, we can work with the Guardian Angel. You can learn more about this in The Perfect Matrimony, for other practices relating to the Guardian Angel besides merely transporting yourself in dreams and helping you to guard your spiritual life.
In conclusion, throughout the day, practice self observation in the Key of SOL.
Before falling asleep, pray to your Divine Mother and Guardian Angel to help you consciously enter the internal worlds.
Upon awaking from a dream, concentrate and visualize it while falling asleep again, praying to divinity to help you return to it.
Lastly, record your dream experiences in your spiritual diary.
Questions and Answers
Question: What are these symbols from the spiritual world and how can we recognize them?
Instructor: We kind of touched on them briefly. You will know them by your heart.
What is your mood in relation to the dream?
How did it impact you?
What did you feel?
Is it disturbing?
Does it make you worry?
Does it fill you with remorse?
Does it inspire you?
In the next lecture we are going to talk about this in great detail: How to Interpret Dreams. We will talk about inspirational knowledge. Usually, a spiritual symbol hits us with a lot of force. We are inspired in the consciousness by the distinct mood and flavor of the dream. We feel in our soul that there’s something unique about it, something out of the ordinary. It has nothing to do with any murky quality, muddled or confused state which can typify most dreams. It is something that is very profound and penetrative.
So we talked about that, but also we’re going to go into a lot more depth in the next lecture about this problem specifically: how to recognize dreams from illusions, or better said, visions from illusions.
Question: In the astral plane, I don’t have any doubt that I’m experiencing something very profound, and more real than the waking world. However upon returning to the waking world, sometimes I start doubting my own experiences. Was this part of my own psyche creating these images? Were they really real?
These doubts are exacerbated by non-linearity of time and space in the astral plane. Although on a couple of occasions I have seen places that seem to be on another planet, in most cases all objects and places seem to have a quality of the waking world. So I ask myself: how come I never experience or see something I’ve never seen before? I ask myself: if time is relative in the astral plane, then why did people who traveled in the astral plane a thousand years ago not see our time? To see reports of people flying by airplanes, watching TVs and using iPhones? In the same way if time is relative in the astral plane, then why can’t I see our own distant future and technology? Of course I’m not interested in seeing our future, I just want to find a way to validate my experiences in the astral plane.
Instructor: So there is a lot going on here, I’ll break down some points.
It is common in the beginning to doubt our experiences, to fear that somehow we are going to be manipulated by our own illusions, that our ego and our mind are really projecting the contents of our own subjectivity. This is oftentimes compounded with the difficulty of the real nature of the astral plane, which is eternity, beyond the scope of our material temporality and time.
You will learn what is real and what is false by meditating. When you look at your own desires and see them for what they are, and learn to be conscious physically, and when you meditate, discriminating images in the astral world becomes easier, because you are transferring the same skill from your physical life to your internal life.
You learn to stop projecting like a film on a screen. When the mind stops projecting, when it is clear and luminous, when you have reached the Immediate Realization of the consciousness, you see reality.
Even if you see things objectively within dreams, it is important to have caution—to learn to compare the vision with physical facts, to compare data. What was the dream about? How does it relate to our daily life? If it doesn’t relate, then it is a lie. But if it is teaching you something about something physical, what is going on in your daily experience, teaching you about an ordeal or problem, a challenge, you can be more certain that there is more objectivity there and that you are receiving something spiritual.
When you stop projecting your mind onto the screen of the astral world, you can start to see that dimension for what it is—whether it is traveling to other planets, seeing cities and buildings, seeing landscapes, seeing the future, seeing architecture from other eras and ages, whether from the past like in Atlantis, or perhaps even in the future, with the Koradi. All these things can play out within our vision if we have clarified it. So, be patient. You can start to see those things more objectively and more consistently the more you meditate.
Turn off the projector of your mind. Do not let it dominate yourself in your daily life. Work hard to differentiate in your waking states what is real from what is false, and in that way you will start to have more clarity and intuition about how to discriminate what your dreams are about.
In that way, when you actually see things that are objective, you will not interpret them egotistically, because you could be very awake internally, and yet you are going to be interpreting things in the wrong way. That is a very dangerous place to be. Many people in different movements have made very grave errors, because they mistook an authentic vision which was true, and turned it into a falsehood, giving it meaning that is not there. It is a very deep topic. We will talk more about it in the next lecture. I hope this will suffice.
Question: We understand that proper invocation involves spontaneity, sincerity, a willingness to experiment. My question is: in working with invoking the Guardian Angel, do you have suggestions of movements, mantra, prayers, and how?
Instructor: Sure. “In the Name of Christ, by the Power of Christ, for the Majesty of Christ, come unto me, my Guardian Angel! Divine Father, bring my Guardian Angel unto me. Help me to perform this magical work.”
Speak from your heart. You can call to divinity in that way. The best formula is from your own being, from your soul. You can say, “My Guardian Angel, help me!” when you’re in that state. Often you will get a response if the time is ripe, if you are ready, and if what will be offered is something that you can use for your spiritual benefit.
That often happens with invoking our Divine Mother and Divine Father too. Divinity will come to us, or give us an experience, right there. Sometimes the landscape can change. Many things can happen. But really, the best invocation is whatever is most sincere. You do not really need a script. Your heart knows what is best. But if you want something to begin with, you can try that.
Question: What is a crab a symbol of esoterically?
Instructor: The crab is the symbol of Cancer in the Zodiac. There is a deep relationship there. You may have dreams of crabs. It could be related to the zodiacal sign of Cancer, to the waters. Crabs are shellfish, and in a sense shellfish are a symbol of our ego: lunar forces, lunar entities.
My understanding is very limited, so you can take this with some discretion, depending on whatever it is you have experienced. Because only you can really judge and ascertain the meaning of what these crabs may be symbolizing in a dream of yours. It is good to really open our intuition more to our own judgement and wisdom from our meditations, than to perhaps look for explanations online. However, my limited knowledge is that the crab could relate to the Zodiac.
If you dream of shellfish, it could represent perhaps egotistical elements, desires that live in the waters. This is why in the Book of Leviticus, I believe in the Old Testament, stipulated for Jewish dietary guidelines not to consume shellfish. Some people interpret this literally, but I like to look at things within the astral language presented in the Old Testament. The shellfish could represent, like lobsters specifically―maybe not crabs, but lobsters―can relate to ego or egos.
But there are dual elements and dual relationships within any symbol. There could be positive and negative meanings embedded all at the same time. This is the real mystery of dreams, because while there is a literal narrative within the experience, the symbols can operate on multiple conceptual dimensions all at once. There could be 15 different things happening all at once, in terms of how the symbol plays out in your dream.
So rather than looking at someone’s definition of it, it is good to meditate on what was going on in the dream.
What was the situation?
What was the impact or mood of the experience?
How did it play our in your vision?
What was the situation?
What was your relationship to the situation? How did it unfold?
What was the problem or the ordeal or the storyline related to that experience?
Because there are a lot of elements that are condensed within a dream, and this is why dreams are so powerful. This is why divinity does not speak oftentimes to us in a very literal way, and when he does, it is often very succinct, because symbols communicante much more than any language physically. So I hope that satisfies your question or curiosity. But that’s just my limited understanding.
Question: My dreams have the same recurring element of water. The water is always different, but water is usually present when I can remember my dreams. Should I focus on water as I fall asleep, or a dream that I can remember that had water present?
Instructor: You can do both. It is interesting that you dreamed of water. Water is a universal symbol. We often talk about its meaning within the writings of Samael Aun Weor, who explains that water is related to our sexual, creative, vital energies, and the quality of those waters are depicting for us the quality of our psychological states. You can focus on water. You can imagine it, or you can even pick out a dream―which is better, one that you actually experienced―and visualize that quality and its impact on your consciousness. That’s the best approach. Because when you have an internal experience, you can use that and should use those images as meditation symbols, like the recurring dream, the initiator element, the unifying element. They’re showing us something deep and significant. So imagine the image that you saw in your dreams.
If you have any other questions, feel free to unmute yourself.
Ok, there are no more comments or questions, we will conclude. I thank you all for coming! We will continue I believe in the beginning of October, the lecture on How to Interpret Dreams. So, I thank you all! Much appreciated.
We are continuing our course on the science of dreams, the experiential knowledge of awakening consciousness. We talked previously about some common ideas surrounding what people have called astral projection, out-of-body experiences, lucid dreams, awakening, near-death experiences, and we are going to dive very deeply into many practices so that we can augment our perception.
Our consciousness has the capacity, when trained, to be awake even when the physical body is asleep. Even when dreaming during the eight hours we go to bed, we are in an intensified state of awareness. We do not enter into a type of amnesia, unconsciousness, sleep, dullness, but learn to instead verify what religions have called heaven. When one has that experience for oneself, one knows. It is not a matter of belief, of thinking a tradition or institution is true or not. It is rather about testing these realities for ourselves. When we verify what these states are like from experience, we have what is called genuine faith, real knowledge, real understanding.
Theories Regarding Dreams
But what are dreams and visions specifically?
In psychology, Sigmund Freud believed that dreams are the doorway to the unconscious and that by looking at our dreams we can understand ourselves.
He talked about what is known as manifest and latent content within dreams. The manifest content of a dream is its narrative. We can all think of a dream that we had in which there was a form of logic, a storyline, a progression of scenes, dramas, comedies, tragedies within our own consciousness.
The latent content of a dream has to do with its meaning, and this is something that has deeply interested many people, psychologists. The latent content of a dream, according to Freud, could signify how that dream represents something physical. For example, we could have a dream of being assaulted by an animal. We are filled with fear, terror, resentment, agony, and if we carefully examine our life, we can find that these psychological states that we find in dreams reflect something that is going on in our personal life. Perhaps we have a relationship with someone in which we feel that fear, like we are being hunted, persecuted, shamed, and therefore, the animal in the dream could represent how we react to a particular person in our physical existence.
Or perhaps someone has a dream of a serpent, being bitten and attacked by a snake. Obviously, that symbol is prominent in many religions for a good reason, because the language of different religious traditions and mythologies is oneiric. It is dreamlike. It is from the world of dreams.
Carl Jung emphasized how the symbols of dreams are the foundation of all religion because all religious traditions teach symbols, allegories, parables, stories that are processed and have been manifested through dreams, through that language, a type of logic.
Having a dream about a serpent obviously can be something about temptation in one's physical life. We are very familiar with the Genesiatic story of the Bible.
Now other people have posited different ideas about dreams. John Hobson basically described through neuroscience that dreams are a form of protoconsciousness. They are a virtual reality, according to this theory, that helps us to navigate the problems of daily life.
Some have posited different theories, different ideas, like the threat-simulation theory. People have argued that dreams are engrained in our biology from an evolutionary perspective, in that dreams were developed within the consciousness in people, growing humanity, evolving humanity, in which people were trained to confront their fears in dreams. That is one possibility that is described by scientists.
There are other theories too: expectation-fulfillment theory, basically referring to how dreams release built-up tension. Someone can experience emotion in a dream that is a form of release because those desires in daily life can be repressed. That is very known within psychoanalysis and Freudian psychology. This also explains, according to some scientists, how when those types of dreams are fulfilled, they are forgotten, because the energy related to that emotion is released. That is one perspective.
There are many theories about dreams, many beliefs, and they all offer some type of perspective in relation to why this occurs. In our Gnostic tradition, we have very different approaches to the study of dreams, not just merely limited to a biological component or the study of the brain, such as in NREM sleep (non-rapid eye movement), or REM sleep in which we dream. Those are valuable in their level, but they have a very limited utility. Merely looking at the biology of a person when approaching dreams, this often delimits or cuts off any type of mystical, experiential, divine component.
Now Carl Jung was very interesting because he risked his reputation by declaring the spirituality of dreams, often to the denigration of his colleagues. So much of the knowledge that he taught was very ciphered because the type of wisdom he was expressing about how to experience dreams and how to understand them is often very much misunderstood or condemned.
Now what is interesting about Carl Jung's theories about dreams is that he talked about what is known as a collective unconscious. He believed that humanity inherits, through lineages, biology, and ancestry, different religious symbols. That would explain, according to this idea, why different religions across the world, different cultures, shared the same symbols or what he called archetypes.
Archetypes are basically parables. They are codes. They are an intuitive, spiritual, and divine grammar. A symbol can carry multiple dimensions and levels of meaning, which is why dreams are so powerful. They do not merely just communicate on the level of a type of logical analysis of our common current everyday intellect, but instead, they reveal a type of logic that is beyond our current level of cognition. It is something that has to be developed and practiced with in order to deepen, in order to be worked with and effective.
Carl Jung and Freud had very different opinions about dreams. They came into many conflicts and it would seem that the collective unconsciousness of Carl Jung would contradict Freud's interpretation that dreams are merely just a personal expression of your own daily life. So there was that apparent contradiction between theories according to scientists.
Now what is interesting is that despite this difference, they are both revealing different aspects of a very nuanced problem. Dreams are often a reflection of our daily life, our habits, our actions, our drives, our impulses, our desires. But also according to Jung, there is something spiritual that can be experienced within that state. It does not mean that our desires, conditions of mind, mental projections, fears, anxieties, and worries that manifest in dreams are somehow sacred. In fact, there is a duality within our perception that we study very deeply in this tradition.
There is a conditioned self: pride, fear, anger, lust, envy, jealousy, hatred. There is also a part of us that is not conditioned by any element of that nature. It is spontaneous joy, freedom from pain, compassion. We call that the soul, or in our tradition, consciousness, the Essence of a person, their true nature. It is this Essence that we seek to develop because the Essence, the soul, which right now is in a very undeveloped, latent state, can be awakened. It can be free of all types of distractions of mind: paranoia, hatred, wrath, vanity, defects. It is that part of us that is not conditioned. It has the capacity, as we said previously, to communicate with divinity, our own inner truth, reality, what religions have called God in their original essence.
But the problem is that our consciousness is very much trapped and limited. So, often for most people, our dreams seem to be just a personal reflection of our daily life. We feel fear. We are worried about our jobs. We are insecure. We are proud. We are hateful, whatever it may be, whatever our particular idiosyncrasy, psychological crutch, or limp that manifests within dreams. But also Jung is pointing out there is something more here that is possible for individuals to experience and to understand, to not only initiate, but also to sustain and to perfect at will.
Dreams and Visions
So we make a very clear distinction in our studies between dreams and visions. This is where you find that distinction between Carl Jung and Freud in relation to whether dreams are collective or whether they are personal.
Dreams are merely projections of our own minds. Think of your experience like a film projector in which reality is a screen. Often times, rather than looking at what is there, we are always projecting ourselves onto reality. This not only occurs within the eight hours when we go to bed at night, but also even physically while we are awake. Have you ever had a conversation with someone where they are talking and then you are thinking more about what to say next? We do not even hear what they are saying. It is because we are projecting our mind, our desires, onto the impression of this person who is talking with us. That is a dream.
There are many types of dreams. We dream all the time, not only when we physically go to bed. We are dreaming in our waking life by distractions and afflictions of mind. We are going to go very deep into this very nuanced problem, how we dream all the time.
But a vision is different. That is when the projector stops projecting. When you are physically at rest, your consciousness is active but the mind is perfectly still, in a state of calm, peace. Then instead of churning with affliction, in the stillness and the perfect quietude of being, images from our internal worlds emerge. They reflect within our consciousness and then we live those dramas within the internal worlds. You can experience astral projections. You can experience dream yoga, lucid dreaming. We are awake in that state and then you can see what is actually there.
A vision often includes a type of symbol. It is a drama that is living, in which you are both a participant and a witness. Those dreams have a very allegorical character. They are very sacred, and they teach something very practical about how to live our daily life. Divinity always wants to teach us through visions, when the mind is calm and receptive, so that we can learn how to be better people, how to be more ethical, how to bind our communities, how to make people strong, to help others no longer suffer. But of course, this requires training. It is a type of work in which we are going to didactically explain through each lecture. We will study different practices so that we train the consciousness to be alert, aware, mindful.
This in itself is genuine mysticism. The word mysticism comes from the Greek mysterion. It originates from the root word myein, “to close the eyes,” and relates to mystikos: an “initiate,” or someone who initiates a different lifestyle, what religions have defined as the sacred mysteries of communicating with the divine, like Moses on Mount Sinai, Arjuna talking to Krishna in the Bhagavad-Gita, Prophet Mohammed receiving the Qur’an from the Angel Gabriel.
Many of these stories bear a type of unifying element, and that is the science of dreams. These are all dream symbols. These are all visions in which, instead of having a mind that is clouded and obscured, driven by problems, by negative habits, mechanical desires, instincts, we instead have a crystal clear, sharp, open, receptive, intuitive mind, a mind that is not always churning with thoughts, but instead knows how to put thoughts in their place in order to understand.
That is a very distinct and different quality that meditation teaches us, not to be so caught up in rationalization, because that is a type of obscurity. As I said, we could be thinking about something, perhaps a friend, a family member, a relative, or something else, while we are with someone having a conversation. That is a dream. That is not being awake, even while physically being in the body.
Learning to become a mystic means becoming a meditator. Silence the mind. Let it relax, calm. Be clear. Be sharp and alert, not distracted, so that we can receive insight, intuitions, and understandings from that intelligence that religions have called God.
Again, God is not some anthropomorphic figure in the clouds, but is presence, formlessness, Being. That is how you learn to see the heavens, not just some physical place in the atmosphere or some temple someone goes to on pilgrimage. Instead, that journey is within. That understanding and experience is personal. But to do that requires we learn to comprehend how we dream. We must understand the path that leads to the cessation of dreams and leads to the awakening of consciousness.
Helena Petrovna Blavatsky stated in the scripture she transcribed known as The Voice of the Silence:
Before the soul can see, the Harmony within must be attained, and fleshly eyes be rendered blind to all illusion. ―H. P. Blavatsky, The Voice of the Silence
So that consciousness can perceive in the superior worlds where we go every night. When we dream, we go to sleep at night for eight hours. We astral project and enter that region, but without awareness. If we learn to overcome our own illusions, psychological habits, and conditions that trap us, we can learn to see and know these realities for ourselves. That is a form of harmony, real harmony, real integrity, the perfection of the soul, in which we end pride. We end hatred. We end fear. We stop laziness. We end lust. We end all these passions of mind and defects that we often very much cling to. When those cease and are perfectly still, then we can know something superior. That is a form of harmony in which we integrate consciousness that is usually very much dispersed in many different habits, right?
We can be at home, obviously, many people are working from home now. Hopefully, that has changed. We can be at the computer desk doing a project, but then think of something else, thinking of a friend, a fiancée, a partner, a spouse, a relative. Or we feel hungry and have the instinct to get up, to get something to snack on. Or we have the emotional feeling that “I want to listen to some other type of music now because I want to relax.” We have many elements in our psychology that are always going all over the place. We are very distracted. That in itself is the origin of many problems, because we are not really addressing the necessities of life with full consciousness, directed attention, awareness, focus―in which we finish a task, give it all of our depth, and soul, and being, so that it can be something magnificent―and really create something superior, instead of just multitasking, because that is the mind and desires going in many places. We lack integrity.
This is why consciousness, when it is trained, can be focused and sharpened so that when we practice that skill in the day, physically, when you go to bed at night, your consciousness is already trained. It is exercised. It knows how to work. Instead of falling asleep and after eight hours, waking up in the morning without any remembrance, we enter that dream world with lucidity, with intentionality, with focus.
The Fifth Dimension
So what is the dream world? This is something that has fascinated a lot of people for as long as there has been recorded history and scriptures.
We mentioned in the first lecture how the world of dreams is the same place as the world of the dead. This is why in Greek mythology, Hypnos and Thanatos, sleep and death, are brothers. If you want to know how conscious you will be when you die, look at how you are when you go to sleep. Do you remember anything? Or do you just sleep eight hours and nothing? That is a barometer of how conscious you are.
While this can be a very disturbing realization, the truth and reality are that there is the potential to develop something truly profound. That is something that is learned. It is a gradual skill.
I know some people like to think of astral projection as given to only the few who are graced by divinity. It was just given to them at birth. The reality is that is not true. At some point in the development of that individual soul, that person had to work. It is acquired. It is a form of self-mastery, in which by training oneself, one can go into what is known as the fifth dimension. Some people call it the astral plane, the world of dreams, heavens, jannat amongst the Sufis and the Muslims. Whatever name we want to give to that reality, it is the fifth dimension.
Now, in terms of dimensionality, we are all familiar with three dimensions: length, height, and width, the physical plane. But scientists have also talked about the fourth dimension, which is time. Einstein is very famous for talking about relativity, the space-time continuum, which is basically a form of development and temporality in which all experience at our level is processed.
But the astral world is beyond time. The world of dreams, the world of the dead, is beyond time. That is why if you awaken consciousness within that state, you can see things happen there that are going to come true physically later. The fifth dimension is beyond time, things you can witness that are from the past, the present, and the future. That is why in the Book of Daniel in the Bible, prophets such as Daniel were able to interpret events that were going to come true later through his dreams. This is the essence of prophecy.
But also one can see the past in a very visual form. It is like watching a movie, in which you are witnessing events but also participating in them. Some people have called this the Akashic Records, the memories of nature in which every action is recorded and imprinted within nature. That is known as eternity. Eternity is also a circle, but it is also a loop, because past, present, future meld into an eternal now―something very beautiful, mystical.
If you want an example of that, I remember, a long time ago, walking in the astral plane. I was in some city. I was just looking at the billboards because I was curious. I was practicing my mindfulness and being in remembrance of myself and not losing my attention, just observing the things going on there.
When I am talking about that type of experience, I do not mean it is something vague or unclear or amorphous. There is more color, lucidity, crispness, depth than even being physically awake. We have that potential.
So I remember looking at a billboard and I saw an advertisement for a movie that had not come out yet. I believe it was one of the Indiana Jones films: “The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” or something like that. I woke up, and then, I do not know, six, seven years later they announced that they are making this film. So I just found that interesting. Whether or not it has some utility is another thing, but it is interesting. I saw something that existed in the internal world before it became physical.
That is what inventions are like. People imagine or conceptualize or have an idea for something. It exists within the astral world before it becomes physical. That is just the way the universe and the mind work. Things kind of just trickle down from more abstract realities into more manifest reality―so, something timeless, but because it is beyond time, you can see things that are going to happen, that have happened.
In this dimension, you can fly. You can teleport. You can walk through walls, because that dimension is governed by very different laws: elasticity, plasticity, levitation. This is why people report dreams of flying. Perhaps we have had that experience ourselves, levitating in the air, going places.
But for most of us, we do not really see what is there objectively. We tend to just interact with our own mind, because our mind, as I said, projects its dreams onto the screen of that dimension. So we do not really, in our current state, see the objectivity of that plane. But if you turn the projector off, quiet the mind, enter meditation, concentration, awareness, you can enter that state with vigilance, with awareness, and then actually see what is going on. That is the real joy and beauty and mystery of that type of science.
So the question becomes: who dreams?
As I said, or hinted at, we often like to think that because we go to bed for eight hours and we do not see anything, that we do not dream, but the truth is that we are dreaming all the time.
We dream when we are washing the dishes. We are remembering or recalling something in the day or projecting an idea about the future, like what we are going to do later, but not actually watching what we are doing.
We can be driving our car, having a conversation, or listening to the radio, thinking about it, trying to analyze a podcast, perhaps, but we are not paying attention to the road and we get into an accident. It is because we are dreaming.
People get on the train and while reading a book, get lost in revelry, thoughts, fantasies, daydreams, recollections, and then we realize that we missed our stop. It is because we are dreaming. We are not awake.
Of course, even at a very basic level, it is easy to understand that there are certain problems to this. Perhaps we are at a job where we have to pay attention to learn new skills, but if we are thinking of something else and we get distracted, we are losing something essential and that we have to ask again for help, and perhaps that could be annoying to an employer. We are dreaming all the time.
So what is important to remember is that the dreamer can awaken. It is a very famous trope you find even in movies like Dune, or Frank Herbert's book. “The sleeper must awaken.”
All religions teach the need to awaken consciousness. “Awake, awake, Deborah, arise Barak," says the Old Testament, I believe in the Book of Judges, the story of the Prophetess Deborah, made the declaration saying "you need to awaken consciousness," because we have the illusion that we are awake, that we are present, that we are mindful, that we are aware.
Often times, if we are very serious and analyze our daily state, we find that we are usually very distracted. Our thoughts are in one place, our feelings are in another, and our desire to act is conflicted. We are split. But by learning through training to focus on what we are doing at all times, to be aware, to be observing ourselves, our thought processes, our emotional reactions to life, our sentiments, and also our will to act, our impulses, we start to discover that we are something much deeper than thought, feeling, and will―something much more profound.
Consciousness exists even before thought. I know in our Western culture we like to idolize thinking quite a bit, but in truth, it is actually a very slow machine. It is a processor of energy and matter and perception at its level. We need the intellect and to know how to use it, but it is not really the defining factor of an individual.
We can touch a hot stove, burn our hand, and retract our hand in pain. We have the instinct, the impulse, to first get out of danger. Perhaps we feel frustrated and angry. We feel that visceral pain of having been burned, and then we think right after that, “that really hurt!” It shows us that thought is actually a much slower process than many other aspects of our psychology.
The reason why I am mentioning all of this is that if we want to understand what awakening consciousness is within the dream state, it is important to understand how we process information and experiences in life in different ways. We will go into a lot of depth into this, specifically when we talk about “How Do We Dream?” But by understanding our own thinking, our feelings, and our impulses, we no longer let those habits and desires simply run amuck. We understand them.
Instead, we can respond to life with intelligence instead of just reacting to someone when someone criticizes us or when we feel anger or fear or depression or whatever it may be. All of those are forms of dreams, different thoughts perhaps, but also many times different types of emotions which we often indulge in, in life.
Sushupti: Profound Sleep
We explain that there are different types of consciousness, different states.
There is Sushupti, which is profound sleep. That often is associated within Hinduism and Yoga as physically going to bed, and when eight hours pass, we do not remember anything.
But also on a more practical level for us, there is profound sleep when we look at mobs, lynches, crowds propelled by violence, war, because those people, even though they are physically active doing things, they are not really conscious of their neighbor. They are driven by fear, instinct, self-preservation, the desire to kill. That is a profound state of sleep, in a spiritual sense, in a conscious sense. If we were really conscious of other human beings, we would feel love and compassion for them, because we understand that we all have the natural inclination to avoid suffering and find happiness. Everyone has that ingrained within the substrate of their very being.
So Sushupti is profound sleep. Basically, people who are murderers, who kill, who commit violence in any form, are very unconscious. It is important to dissociate from the assumption that sleep is merely just related to the physical body, because the physical body, in truth, could be doing things, but yet we are not aware. This is very well known in Yoga and Buddhism especially.
Swapna: Dreaming Sleep
Let us talk about Swapna, dreaming sleep. What is dreaming sleep?
As I said, we dream in the day, often. We can argue with people, wanting to assert our beliefs, political ideas, religion, culture, race, doctrine. All these things that our modern world often adulates and worships are in fact a form of dreaming. It is an illusion. These such things are very temporal. They do not last. They are not eternal.
The soul, the consciousness is eternal. It does not have a beginning and an end in its ultimate sense. We adopt different beliefs and ideas and cultures and habits and ways of thinking whenever we lose that connection with our true origins. We are often very much distanced from our true nature, but we can see glimpses of it day-to-day. We find selfless acts of heroism, compassion, love, sacrifice, benevolence, patience, kindness, in which we are not really thinking for ourselves. We are doing for others. But those types of experiences tend to be very minimal―if we are honest―very limited.
What we have instead are a lot of dreams: “I am a republican.” “I am a democrat.” “I am a capitalist. “I am a socialist.” “I am a philosopher.” “I am a scientist.” We have a lot of ideas about who we are. We often cling to things―our name, our culture, our habits, our beliefs―as something substantial, as something permanent. But the truth is that these things always change, right? There are always perhaps different circumstances that happen in our life. To use a very silly example, maybe we are a republican, then something happened in the media, especially in this past year, and then we change our beliefs. We change our ideas. But the truth is that even those ideas do not necessarily have a type of eternity. There are conditions. They do not really reflect the type of values that we call the divine. So knowing that distinction is very challenging. It is very difficult because of attachment, because of the type of hypnosis of identifying with our own conditions of mind, habits, etc.
Jagrat: Waking Consciousness
This is why we study Jagrat, which is waking consciousness. Notice we are not just talking about the wakeful body, that the body is awake. This does not just refer to the physical body being active and doing things, because we can be, as I said, driving our car but not paying attention. It has to do with consciousness that is perceptive, that is alert, that is understanding, that is seeing the impressions of life, but not necessarily just labeling experiences with the intellect or judging a person based on our emotions.
Perhaps we feel aversion to someone based on their race or their caste, their culture, their language, their beliefs, their politics. We feel perhaps negative emotions about them, resentments, pride―whatever it may be. Or certain relationships, we feel conflicted. We do not know how to act around certain people and we kind of get stuck between this clumsy deliberation.
But the reality is that waking consciousness knows how to intuitively respond to any situation with lucidity, with compassion. It does not necessarily mean complacency, like letting a person walk all over you. Consciousness can be firm, but loving, kind, patient. It does not identify with problems in life. It does not suffer. The consciousness knows how to act. It is the intuition of knowing what to do at any time. You do not have to think about it. It is beyond thought.
I know in one example, I remember I had a conflict with a person from years ago and I was in a situation where, years later, I had to speak to her out of necessity. I could not avoid her. I felt that conflict in myself, that fear like “I do not want to talk to this person,” the thoughts, and the logic, and the reasoning, and the resentments, that were stewing there. But then I was observing all that process in myself and I understood that, just by looking at that defect within me, that it was wrong. I intuitively knew that this person is suffering, therefore, “I am going to act.” Putting my prejudice and self behind me, I went up to the person and had a conversation with her, and it turns out that she was very grateful for me, for showing that olive branch and making that connection. That is one example of really being awake. I just saw myself, my own defects, observing that. That is waking consciousness.
We have a practice in our tradition called self-observation in which we learn to understand the origin of thought, feeling, and will, even before they emerge, because we are activating that sense and skill within us that is often very atrophied.
Turiya: Spiritual Illumination
It is in that way that we can access what is known as Turiya. This is spiritual illumination. This is what all the diverse religious traditions have called ecstasy, samadhi, spiritual states in which there is no distortion of mind there. In terms of dream yoga, you can be physically in bed, have an astral projection, and there is no type of obscuration in your perception. You are seeing what is there. You are fully lucid. You are clear. You are in control, and you can investigate and you can navigate those regions with competency.
It also has to do with the type of perception relating to a divine being like a prophet. We call them masters. We call them buddhas, angels, gods. They do not have pride, laziness, fear, calumny, gossip. They are perfect―no fault. We can access a state like that in a temporary sense, but obviously, it is something that has to be gradually developed through discipline. But there are beings, prophets, angels―whatever you want to call them―who did it. This is why we study their teachings very profoundly, in their original sources, not what institutions say they say, but what are they actually saying from experience. In that way, we have no doubt.
The Line of Life
We talk in our studies about the line of life.
It is very important to analyze where we have come from and where we are going. That is why many people study religion and spirituality in general. They have a yearning to understand the origin of the soul, the origin of the world, the meaning of faith, the meaning of compassion, where we came from and why do we suffer. Perhaps that is the most compelling reason why anyone goes to any church or school or religion or community.
We study the line of our life very diligently because our own life is a book. It has many chapters. If we want to have self-knowledge about higher realities, it begins by knowing ourselves, knowing where we came from physically, but also psychologically, our habits, our ideas, our personality, our culture. These are the things that come to us. Or better even said, we come to it. I think that is even an more accurate description.
We are born in this world, and as children, we are very innocent. If we look at any child, we see the beauty of the soul there that has not been tainted or contaminated by defects. But with time and through gradual exposure to parents, school, family, language, culture, customs, that initial brilliance of a child is dimmed. It gets swallowed by pride, anger, hatred, defects. We call that ego, self, egotism, desire.
Most people tend to go through their life, from that initial state, acquiring and acquiring more experiences, accumulating more and more―family, job, reputation, income, retirement, whatever it may be. While there are necessary components of life that we need to work with, it is not the definition of a person. There is something more. There has to be something more than being born and going through adolescence with all of its turmoil and suffering, its pain, its uncertainty, its abuse, becoming adults who are trying to piece together their lives, and then getting married, having children, and then dying, and then… what then?
Why be so caught up in that? It does not mean that we reject all these things and live like hermits. That is another extreme to life that does not offer a very long-term solution.
The Line of Being
Instead, we begin where we are at. Fortunately for our spiritual life, there is something more. There is a point that intersects with our daily existence. We call it the vertical path. On the horizontal beam, we have the line of life, but here vertically intersecting in the form of a cross, we have a line of being. This has to do with the quality of our life, the quality of our states.
Of course, as you see here, there are inferior qualities of life and psychology and also superior states of mind. I have named some of them for you. In the inferior levels, you have ego, selfishness, more attachment, more aversion, more craving, more desire to accumulate more and more, many ideas, theories, beliefs, philosophies, doctrines. The mind just wants to saturate itself and acquire more and more information, because it thinks by feeding that desire, we are going to be happy.
Knowledge is useful in its place, but it is not fundamental for a person to be spiritual. There is a balance there. We have to make that distinction.
We often go from birth to death dreaming. We dream while we drive our car. We dream on the train. We dream while married. We dream while making love. We dream and have many desires and beliefs and habits that we invest our energy into. Wherever we direct our attention, we expend energy. We often find in life that we are very depleted, which is why as we approach our elder years, we are decrepit. We are sick. We are old. We are weakened. That energy that can fuel our spirituality is often very much wasted, invested in the wrong things, identified with the wrong things.
When we die, most people go to the grave, they enter the dream world, but are not aware that they are dead. Personally, I met my grandfather in the astral plane. He died a long time ago. I was in a room with my family who were still alive, talking with them, and then I realized, “why am I talking to my grandfather here? He is dead!” As I was talking to them, they did not know where they were.
So it is a pretty alarming thing, and something that should not necessarily fill someone with fear, but with urgency. It is a very different, nuanced principle, to have urgency. To want to awaken consciousness is different from being fearful: “Oh, if I go to the grave, then what?” Fear is another condition of the mind. It is an inferior state of being, something that we can overcome by looking at it. By learning to understand ourselves in the moment, we can access superior states of consciousness and then we stop dreaming. We are no longer filled with fear, with agony, more problems.
The superior line of being is developed in us where we ascend vertically in the moment. It has nothing to do with time. Spiritual development, in a conventional sense, occurs gradually, obviously, because we are in physical bodies. We are in this physical world and we are subjected to the laws of nature, time especially, the fourth dimension. But the consciousness does not belong to time. It is eternal. But unfortunately, because we dream physically, we are not aware of it. We do not realize it from experience.
Anybody who has had an astral projection obviously has tasted some glimpse of that and knows for themselves that it is real, and that we are more than just our physical body. So this pushes us to want to know ourselves, know our defects, our faults, so that we cease dreaming.
We are aware of the moment, because every moment we advance towards death. We progress in this line of life towards an inescapable end. But this should not be a source of morbidity or shame, anxiety. Obviously, these are emotions that are very common for people, because we do not understand where we came from or where we are going. But if you awaken your consciousness, you will know. You know where you came from, where you are, and where you are going, what your trajectory is.
We follow the trajectory of our actions through life, consciously or unconsciously. By making conscious decisions, we are learning to develop our perception so that, physically, when we die, we welcome it―not out of some quirkiness, being dark. Instead, it is born out of acceptance and understanding. For me personally, I know what will happen when I die. I have been able to awaken enough consciousness within the internal worlds to be shown what it is like after the body is dead. Therefore, why be afraid? You do not have to be afraid. It is a natural process.
What one could be afraid of instead is not living one's life ethically, taking advantage of this precious time that we have, moment by moment, to make changes, small changes, gradually. In that way, we do not necessarily become victims of life. We do not react to problems. Instead, we can comprehend our situation and learn to respond with intelligence.
Kabbalah: The Tree of Life
We talked briefly about this image in our previous lecture, something that we will go back to periodically. It is known as the Tree of Life. It is a Jewish symbol, but also a universal one.
In Jewish mysticism, they talk about Kabbalah. This is the Tree of Life within the Book of Genesis. Rather than constituting a literal tree in Mesopotamia that existed however long ago in the physical Middle East, it is really a symbol. It is a map of consciousness.
It depicts the inferior states of consciousness and the most superior, ascending towards a higher and more elevated spirituality. These are not spheres or levels of being that are mapped out in physical space. It is not like there is some sort of verticality to this. It is a symbol. It is an allegory. These spheres, known as סְפִירוֹת sephiroth in Hebrew, are known as emanations. They are qualities of consciousness. They are also dimensions. This is a map of us as a psyche, but also of divinity, and also where we go when we sleep, when we dream. There are different levels of matter, energy, and consciousness.
Right now we are in the bottom sphere. This is known as מלכות Malkuth in Hebrew [the Kingdom], the physical world? It is our physical body.
Above that, we have our vitality, our creative energy. This is known as the fourth dimension. So the third dimension is below and the fourth dimension is above. This is time. It is known as יְסוֹד
Yesod, the foundation, because how we work with our energy is the foundation of spiritual life. As I said, wherever we direct attention and energy, we spend it. So if we spend it within our consciousness, we can conserve that force and learn to awaken our potential.
What people call the astral plane is known as הוד Hod, meaning “splendor” in Hebrew. It is this sphere at bottom of the left pillar, as you see here. We call that the astral plane. This is typically where people go when they have superior astral projections.
To the right of that, we have נצח Netzach, which means “victory.” This is known as the mental world. So there is a mental plane and an emotional plane, mind and heart. These two spheres constitute what is known as the fifth dimension. This is eternity. יְסוֹד Yesod is the fourth dimension. מלכות Malkuth is the third dimension.
But we have inferior dimensions as well, what religions have called hell or the hell realms. Those states are experienced through nightmares. That is hell in a direct way. It is a type of experience that is real, but not in physical matter, energy, and perception, but it is in a more subtle form of experience. This is why we often interact within those states within dreams but do not realize that it is not physical, because the internal worlds reflect the physical and vice versa.
Above we have more superior states, which I will not go into depth here. We have a future lecture that we will talk about called Where Do We Dream? But I want to just summarize this because it is a very beautiful graphic, a very practical tool.
We can use it to understand our experiences, but also when we travel within those dimensions, we can know how to navigate it, because this is the map so to speak. It is important to know and learn this glyph with time because just as one would not travel to another country without knowing its language, its geography, its culture, its goods and bad, in the same way, it is reasonable for dream yogis, practitioners of this science, to understand the structure of that inner reality, so that when you experience it, you know how to navigate. It is a very gradual process which we will talk about in detail.
So we will conclude with an exercise that you can use in order to develop what is known as concentration. As I said, by learning to develop concentration, awareness, mindfulness throughout the day, the ability to focus on one thing without being distracted, we no longer dream. We teach the consciousness to not dream. We teach it to be awake. In that way, that skill will transition from visible life to dreaming life.
So every day, develop self-observation from moment to moment. At the end of each day, reflect on how you did. So this has to do with learning to observe our psychology. It is like being a director in a movie, in which you are the actor, but you are also viewing the scene. Consciousness has the capacity to observe, to intuit, to understand, and this skill has to do with whenever a thought emerges, look at it. Observe it.
You may know that you are seated in this chair listening to me, but are you observing the fact? It is a different skill. Then as we are learning to self-observe throughout the day, obviously it is going to be very challenging. You might realize even before coming here that learning to be mindful and aware throughout the day can be difficult because there are just so many distractions, whether externally or even our own emotional reactions, our thoughts, etc.
At the end of each day, just take five minutes. Reflect: how mindful were you? How observant? how aware? Then, every day perform this preliminary meditation exercise:
Carefully relax your body, heart, and mind. Observe an object such as an image or a lit candle flame without preoccupying yourself in thought, memories or distractions. If you forget yourself, return to the object of the practice.
Practice ten to fifteen-minute sessions at least two or three times a day.
So, we are going to practice this together―if you like―we can stay after. We have a candle here. You just take the candle and observe it. If your mind starts thinking of something else or labeling ideas or talking about it, just become aware of it. Do not try to repress, push it away, or try to get lost in it. Instead, just return to the candle. It is a beautiful exercise in which we learn to understand the distinction between knowing what is going on but also observing it. As I said, you can know something is going on. By sitting in a chair, you can know that you are in the chair, but observing it is active. Knowing is passive―different quality.
At this time I would like to invite you to ask questions.
Questions and Answers
Question: I am a little confused about the self-observation practice. So you are saying that if I am thinking about something that I can not be self-observing? Or is it possible to be both thinking and self-observing? In my job I am thinking a lot. It is an intellectual job, and how am I supposed to be self-observing during the day when I need to also think in my job?
Instructor: That is a good question. The latter is the answer. You can be thinking and doing intellectual things, but observe that. Some people think of self-observation as like “I have to stop thinking.” In the higher degrees of understanding, we do not need to think. But we begin with where we are at. If we have a job that is very intellectual where we are thinking, or teaching, perhaps reading a book, reading something about our job that we have to do―read, but observe that. It is difficult, but it is a skill that is acquired. It comes with patience.
Question: I have seen people who are yogis and they sit still. Is it normal or is it an indication that something is not right if you are not still? There are some actions of the body, which while sitting for a long time that suddenly happens, and I get that feeling that it is not right. Does it show a lack of attention or concentration? How do I realize that? Am I in the moment or not in the moment?
Instructor: Great question. For most people who are not training in mindfulness, it is not a problem because they are not really interested in learning about being conscious of themselves. But as we are learning to self-observe or do a meditation practice, it is important to understand even our involuntary movements―like, perhaps, scratching, or twisting our fingers, or moving a leg, or whatever it may be. Tapping your foot, you know, is a very common thing.
But we have to become aware of that. If you find that you are doing that, observe yourself and then reflect: where is that impulse coming from? It is not necessarily an intellectual question, but it is a perceptive one. You are just analyzing and being mindful of why you are doing that. I think oftentimes, at least for me, when I have observed that in myself, I have come to understand that there is some type of psychological defect in me that is perhaps impatient, or bored―or whatever it may be―agitated. Something psychological is going on in a deeper sense that I am not aware of.
So it does not necessarily mean to have to force your body to be still, but it is better if you just observe it and understand it, because if you understand it, then your psychology is quiet, right? All physical actions are a material manifestation of our internal reality. So things that happen physically come because, psychologically, there is something there.
One thing I wanted to mention is that in one of the earlier slides about the fifth dimension, I mentioned that things happen internally and then manifest physically. The same thing happens with our psychology. So this proves to us that we are in truth very multidimensional. Our thoughts are one thing, our emotions are another dimension to ourselves, and our instincts are another. The more understanding you have of your own psychological impulses, the more you comprehend why you are tapping, and you will stop.
It does not have to be something like, “I cannot tap my foot,” right? That is kind of the mind fighting the mind, and that is not what we are advocating. Instead, it is something about observing yourself, understanding where it comes from, and when you understand that impulse, it quiets, ceases. I believe even Gurdjieff mentioned quite a bit about the need to no longer be doing movements of our body involuntarily, carelessly. It means that we are very unconscious. In fact, one of the best ways to learn self-observation is learning about your posture. Learn about your breathing. Learn about your habits. It is a very simple way to begin. You may notice that perhaps you crack your fingers, or whatever it may be. Begin with that, and as you get more confident, understanding those impulses, then the more relaxed you become. That is really important for meditation, having a relaxed mind, heart, and body. When you have that, meditation is open to you when you are concentrated, when you are aware.
Question: Is there a difference between waking in a dream versus allowing your body to fall asleep and maintaining consciousness?
Instructor: Yeah, it has to do with when you enter the astral world. You might fall asleep physically and unconsciously project and then you wake up in a dream later. That happens all the time. Then other times, obviously, the goal is to learn to fall asleep consciously, so that you enter that state with awareness. So it has to do with how attentive you are.
Oftentimes you can wake up in a dream later because, even though you were not conscious in the beginning, suddenly you start to expand your perception, where you are seeing your surroundings in the astral plane. Maybe you are walking down a street of your old neighborhood wherever you grew up, and then you realized, “Oh, what am I doing here?” For me, I tend to have dreams where I will be at my old house where I grew up as a kid, and I will recognize my surroundings and question, “What am I doing here? How did I get here?” I remember where I came from. I am living in the city now, not out in the suburbs.
So then you can learn to question that and develop that inquiry. That is something you can only develop by learning mindfulness throughout the day. You are self-observing. You are becoming aware of your different thought processes, feelings, impulses, and when you train your consciousness to do that during the day, even when you physically go to sleep, even if you are not aware of an astral projection, you can suddenly start to see things in your dreams where you are getting more lucidity. The consciousness is being trained, is being strengthened. So learning to concentrate and develop those skills helps to see more clearly, awaken more perception. So you can wake up later in the night too. It is different from a conscious astral projection. We are going to talk about how to awaken in dreams later on, specifically.
Question: So earlier you were talking about how Sushupti is a sign of that most profound state of unconscious sleep. You mentioned that some murderers are in a state of profound sleep of consciousness because they do not feel compassion for other people. But can some people be awakened in evil, because some murderers are very conscious of what they are doing you know, like serial killers? It is not like they are asleep. I see what you are saying that they are identified with, like anger or violence or something like that. Could you explain that distinction?
Instructor: Sure! It has to do with the individual. As we mentioned before, we can be aware that we are killing someone. I know a lot of people talk about mindfulness and awareness as sometimes the end-all and be-all of spirituality, but it is just the beginning. Being aware of yourself, so that you can be understanding of where you are at, is the initial step of learning to be a conscious and ethical person. The next step is learning to transform situations with compassion, learning to transform the impression of a situation with awareness, with understanding, better said.
But there is also another flip side to that coin. I mentioned to you and showed you that image of superior states of being and inferior states. We can awaken positively within our consciousness or we can awaken within desire, within hatred, within anger, within pride, because awakening is dual. It does not always end up positively. Now, awakening negatively has to do with giving one's energy to one's desires. So one can be very awake, but through hatred or pride or vanity, and therefore they develop a lot of power in that element. They tend to be very dangerous individuals because they are very influential. They can even be charismatic, influential people.
The difference between the type of unconsciousness I was referring to is for most people. People who have never really trained in any type of spirituality tend to just go with the flow of life. If there is a crowd, they get attracted to it and they go to it. It is kind of a collective hive mind so to speak. But there are people that learn to train themselves to awaken within their own defects, and that is something we do not teach. It is a negative thing.
Question: So the first step is to be awake and be conscious of what I am doing? Then you are saying later on that I have to learn to discern between if what I am doing is driven by pride, or anger, or revenge, on someone? How do I know that it is not that and I am awakening in a good way?
Instructor: Follow your heart. Look at your heart. Your conscience is the best guide. Unfortunately, there are people in our society, in our world, that do not even have a conscience anymore, and therefore those people tend to be very lost causes. But if you look in your heart and examine in a moment an action you performed where you felt pain; your heart will tell you what is right and what is wrong, in most normal people, but not psychopaths, so to speak.
For example, you get into an argument with someone and you are telling yourself, “I want to be patient with this family member.” Then you start to observe in yourself that they start pushing your buttons, because family members know how to do that―resentment, pride, fear, anger, whatever comes up. You are aware of that. Now, just because you are aware of that does not mean that you are going to act ethically, transforming the situation, transforming your consciousness.
The way that you do it is by following the different precepts of different traditions, religions, like kindness and selflessness. If someone insults you; understand the insult, understand where it is coming from and why. Understand that we are not perfect, so why be offended? It is really nothing stable there. Then follow your heart about how you should act, because your heart knows. That is conscience. That is intuition, knowing without having to think about it.
But of course, the difficulty becomes that our mind wants to devour us: anger with its logic says: “They offended me. I am going to get back at them!” So when you observe that process in you, that is great. You are starting to see and understand how you are dreaming. The anger is dreaming. It is projecting its desires. It thinks it is being offended and insulted and it is seeing the situation through a lens. Is it not true that when we are angry, we only see through anger? You do not see through any other way. Every situation becomes interpreted through a false door. That is one way that we sleep. So observe that.
The beginning of change is to stop dreaming. But just because you learn to stop dreaming, in the beginning, does not mean that you are going to be successful, because you just have to really work at it. See what is happening. Be aware of it, and then act appropriately. That is the next step.
Question: We are about to do the practice with the candle and I know there are other techniques that you can use to awaken in dreams. What would be the best method to awaken consciousness here and now?
Instructor: So, there is a lot of things that complement this, right? There is a lot of facets. We will talk about it in a lot of detail. I will explain this to you now, but in the future, we are going to go really in-depth about different ways to do it. Working with all of them together is like building a puzzle.
Now as you said, the primary method is to be aware of yourself in the day. That is why at the very beginning of this course, we are just talking about p, “what are dreams, who dreams, how do we dream?” Be aware of it because that is the foundation. Be aware of how you get distracted in the day and learn to curtail that, not with a type of militant despotism, but with recollection. Remembering yourself is how you start to really use the tools in this course. It is like, for example, if you learn to work with a machine. You have to be aware of yourself first to work it. Children obviously can not operate difficult machinery and that is why you get trained physically. First, you let them grow up. In the same way, we learn to grow up spiritually as a child by learning to awaken our consciousness. Then we start using these different tools and techniques to kind of augment that.
So one of the techniques we use is called the Key of Sol. We have a whole lecture that is going to be about that, where it is an acronym: subject, object, location.
Subject: who am I? What are my thoughts? What are my feelings? What are my actions?
Object: what is in front of me? What am I seeing? Not necessarily questioning with the intellect, but just being inquisitive, the way that a child is inquisitive when they are growing up and looking at a toy or creating something from the imagination. It is a very innocent quality. It does not assume that there is anything there, or merely just projects memories onto reality, but looks at it.
You know, we can be in our house oftentimes, our home, and we do not really observe where we are at, because we just have things in our memory, right? It is easy to get into an accident even in your own home. A lot of people get hurt in their own homes because they are not paying attention. They think they know what is going on or what is around them. Instead, we are not observing. Object has to do with what is in front of us. Subject―ourselves.
Location: where are we? Inquire. Where am I? What am I doing? It might seem silly, obviously, being physically here in this world, but if you learn to train your consciousness in that way, you will eventually start to see things in your dreams because you are observing your thoughts, your feelings, your actions. You start to see objects in front of you and then a location in dreams. Maybe you are not in Chicago in a dream. That is a big alert. Question yourself: “I live in Chicago. How did I get here?” And then you start to realize, “I think I am dreaming. How did I end up in Spain? How did that happen to me?” I found myself in Spain in the astral plane and I am like, “people are talking Spanish. Why are they talking Spanish? What is going on? Where am I?” I realized that I was dreaming.
Then if you want to test yourself, you pull your finger. In the astral plane, the matter of your astral body is ductile. It is elastic. Pull it with the intention of making it stretch. If you are intentional enough and gentle enough, obviously, physically, you do not want to do this too hard. You do not want to hurt yourself. In the dream, it will stretch. Then you will realize, “I could not do that physically. I am dreaming. I am in the astral world! “ That is something you can do physically where you are just training yourself, and then you just get in the habit of questioning, “where am I?” Then physically, discretely, when no one is watching you―thinking you are perhaps weird or unusual―just pull your finger.
In dreams, you can also jump in the air and see if you are going to levitate, right? See if you fly. You can do it physically too, but I like to be more discrete because I am not going to be jumping around and my co-workers looking around at me like, “something strange is going on.” Instead, pull your finger. That is one method, a very good one, very effective.
Or try something else: you can put your hand through a window to see if you are going to pass it through. I have done that many times and it works too. The only reason that it works is because we learn to question our dreams. Be self-observant moment by moment.
Question: In the questioning of daily life when we are not sleeping, is that what helps us to wake up when we are sleeping?
Instructor: Exactly. It is the questioning. It is the inquiry.
Question: Is this an intellectual kind of labeling like, “Ok, location. You are in the studio―me, my name?” Or how can I make this conscious and not just in the intellect?
Instructor: Practice. Just do it. Then you find in time that it is not an intellectual thing. In the beginning, you can question yourself. It is easier that way, right? It becomes more of a habit. The beauty of the practice is that it teaches us how to start from being mechanical to how to be conscious. So you are learning to take something that is very mechanical like just walking in the street, or even pulling your finger, or jumping in the air, right? It is a common thing you can do, but with time and practice, you learn to start doing it with awareness. It just takes acclimation, getting used to it, to the point that you may even have times where you have trained yourself so well that suddenly you become vivid in a dream and you know you are dreaming, and then you jump in the air and fly away and go and investigate something.
Question: You talked about the two kinds of dreams you can have, the self-projecting kind and then the fifth dimension kind. Can you lucid dream in both of those?
Instructor: Definitely. Great question. Both. You could be lucid in a dream where you still do not realize you are dreaming.
For a lot of people there is a big step or hurdle there, where suddenly you may have the experience where you see a lot of different colors, and images, and landscapes, perhaps, but you do not really question that you are dreaming. The first step is awareness. The second step is discernment. That is a very delicate skill that comes about as we learn to be more aware physically but also learning to discern our own psychological states. This is the same skill that you use to comprehend how whether or not you are seeing things clearly through the lens of fear, or anxiety, or anger, or whatever it may be. Instead, we are learning to see life without egotism. We need to discern our own psychological states.
It gets easier to discern our surroundings, so that when you are lucid dreaming, you see things more clearly, you can start to question things and then make the leap. When you recognize, “Ok, I think I am dreaming here,” where you even make that first declaration to yourself. That is a big step, just recognizing and questioning, “Am I here?” That is the starting point.
Sometimes it is possible to have visions where you are receiving a divine symbol from your inner divinity through a mystical experience. It can be happening and you are kind of just taking it all in, but you are not necessarily fully aware that you are dreaming, or that you are in that experience, and then you wake up and then suddenly realize, “Whoa, I think I just got an experience from my inner God!” So there is that reality too. But with enough training, you start to learn to be in that state and then suddenly make the discerned judgment of what is actually going on, and then you can say with confidence that “I am dreaming.”
Question: So can you be lucid during a projection of your own mind? Like how you dream at night is a projection of my fear. Can I wake up in that?
Question: Or I can only wake up in the objective in the fifth dimension?
Instructor: Both. In the sense that you can be having a very lucid dream in which your ego is projecting things and you are just seeing your own desires, and even in the middle of that, even if it is very intense and vivid, you can start to realize that “This is kind of crazy,” like “why am I seeing this action film playing out in front of me, and all this weird logic going on?” You can discern, “There is something going on here,” and then you realize, “I think I am dreaming!” It is possible, but usually, with those very intense egotistical dreams, we tend to just go along with it because we are very sleepy.
But visions that are more objective, relating to our own inner divinity, occur within the superior fifth dimension, you could say. We call it the heavenly realms, the heavenly world. It just takes practice and a lot of meditation. You have those experiences and maybe you do not understand them at first, but you know, with patience you learn to discern between them.
Today we are going to talk about the basic requisite to verifying for ourselves the truths and realities contained within all religions. We are going to explain how to develop that within ourselves, how to become cognizant of what Judaism, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Jainism, really contain, because what draws us to spiritual studies is the desire, or the longing to experience for ourselves what divinity is, to know what is God, or what is our Buddha inside.
It is this longing that impels us to inquire. As the foundation to any religious practice, to experience divinity, to acquiring gnosis, knowledge of divinity from experience, we talk about awareness as a foundation, a basic requisite for entering to the experience of divinity.
We state in a very clear way that divinity is not what modern religion has developed it to be. Usually, we think of it in Christianity as these anthropomorphic figures of an old man in the clouds or the external physical personality of Jesus, or as Buddha Shakyamuni in Buddhism, as some external figure outside that were the ones capable of achieving these great realizations and that we do not have that capacity.
Religions, in the exoteric public sense, have misconstrued the real foundations of attaining religion. It is important to realize that religion comes from the Latin word religare, which means to “reunite.” Likewise, yoga in Sanskrit comes from yug, which means “to unite.” Both Eastern and Western traditions have taught that we need to reunite with divinity. But in order to reunite with divinity, we need to throw away our misconceptions about who or what divinity is and to really go to what is practical, to really experiment, to really inquire within religious teachings, mystical traditions, as to what is divinity and how do we experience divinity.
All religions have taught in their unique languages and cultures the path that leads to that realization. Although this path was taught in different languages from different prophets, from different messengers, from different masters or buddhas, really this path is one in the same. As Jesus of Nazareth taught:
Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto [spiritual] life, and few there be that find it. ―Matthew 7:14
Or as Krishna said:
Among a thousand who search for me, one finds me. Among a thousand who find me, one follows me. Among a thousand who follow me, one is mine. ―Bhagavad Gita
Religion or yoga, whatever name we give to this science of experiencing the divine, is our quest for developing our potential inside. Religion is not about adhering to a physical group and even attending lectures. The purpose is to verify inside: “Who is our inner divinity? Who is God within me?” Or as the Oracle of the Temple of Delphi, the Greek famous maxim, stated:
Man know thyself and you will know the universe and the gods. ―Oracle of Delphi
The basic requisite for verifying divinity in ourselves, experiencing the divine, is by becoming aware of who we are. We have many assumptions based of our culture, the way we have been raised, the religion we have been indoctrinated with, about who we are and where we come from. Really, our language, our name, our birthplace, our family, our friends, these things really belong to the physical. But as to what is spiritual or what is psychological is something that we are very ignorant about. This is a very challenging truth to confront within oneself, for as the Greeks said, “Man, know thyself, and you shall know the gods.” You will know the angels. You will know the buddhas. You will know divinity. You will know the universal light of divinity known as Christ amongst the Gnostics, Christos in Greek, God of Fire.
If we know ourselves, we will know divinity. If we do not know divinity, it means that we really do not know ourselves and our root. This is, really, the zero foundation we need to face, because by acknowledging the fact we do not know our divine Being, our divine force within us, the presence of divinity known as God, it is because we lack cognizance of all our psychological, emotional, physical processes.
The Sufis, the mystics of Islam, teach the same thing. They explain, “He who knows himself knows his Lord.” In the esoteric tradition, divinity was known by the name Allah, “the God”; amongst the Gnostics, Christ; or amongst the Buddhists, Amitabha, the buddha of light.
So, what is this light? It is our pristine cognizance and awareness of divinity, directly, and it is this awareness of who we are psychologically, emotionally, and physically. That is how we open the gateway to accessing who we are spiritually, because the spirit is beyond that. Spirit is God, or buddha. We all have our inner buddha, which simply means “awakened one,” to be aware, to be fully cognizant of everything that is occurring psychologically inside, but also in the external universe, because “Man, know thyself, and you will know the gods and the buddhas.”
In this tradition, we seek to actualize awareness. Different traditions give this name many different terms. In the Gnostic tradition we call it self-observation, to observe ourselves; to be aware of our body, our emotional states, our mood, our thoughts, our mind. In Buddhism, we call it mindfulness, to be aware as a type of perception beyond our current, common, everyday experience.
If you noticed by doing the Annapanna practice, by observing ourselves, usually what we find is that we get distracted from what we are trying to focus on, the concentration on the breath. Usually, we find that we start thinking of other things, or memories, preoccupations, the day, which takes us away from the moment. It is this fact that we are distracted, when we look inside, when we direct our attention inside, that verifies that our mind is not concentrated or developed to its genuine full potential. The fact that we are trying to focus on our breathing, a simple process of our body, and we veer off in our mind, distracted, shows that the psyche is not fully integrated. It is not completely perfected. In fact, it is distracted, split up, and unmindful.
Religion, yoga, teaches us that the beginning to real union with divinity is to become aware of that divinity.
The Bardo Thodol or Tibetan Book of the Dead
We are going to explain a teaching pertinent to Tibetan Buddhism. We study all religions in a didactic way to explain the traditions, how they relate to each other. Due to the depth and profundity of a certain scripture that I am going to relate to you, we are going to relate to you the teachings of awareness as given in the Highest Yoga Tantra within Tibetan Buddhism particularly. This is the scripture known as Bardo Thodol. It is called The Tibetan Book of the Dead. If you know anything about this scripture, this is a very controversial text and a very powerful one. It was written by a master by the name of Padmasambhava, the Second Buddha, due to his level of attainment and realization.
He wrote this scripture about the natural processes of becoming cognizant during physical death, but also how to become aware during one’s daily life, to be really aware of divinity here and now within ourselves―a type of psychological state that is very transcendent of our daily, mundane experience.
Padmasambhava, seeing that the Tibetan people were not prepared for the depth of the knowledge he was presenting, had the scripture buried under ground for centuries. It was later found by a certain monk by the name of Karma Lingpa, who received it and transmitted it to his sons. In our present day, we have this scripture, which is a very potent text and explanation about the need to become aware, to really know ourselves, who we are, and not to have preconceptions such as: “This is my name, my language, my religion, my culture that I grew up in.” These things are transitory and superfluous.
Our inner Being, in gnostic terms, is internal. These passing forms, this body, this hair, this manner of speaking, this personality, this terrestrial aspect of oneself, is like a leaf floating in the wind. It has its birth and its death, but what happens after? That is the question. This is something we can verify.
The Tibetan Book of the Dead explains how we need to become cognizant of all processes of our life, so that if we really want to know divinity, we have to develop a type of perception which is beyond thinking, beyond feeling, instincts, or sensations.
So, I am going to pause when I explain some of these Buddhist terms, to explain them in terms of gnostic commentary. We are going to perform an exegesis on this text. This is a section of this book which, traditionally, it is read at three or four in the morning before meditation for monks and it is also read on retreats. I invite you, when you listen and discuss this text in terms of gnostic psychology, that you listen with an open mind and seek to really verify what it teaches.
This is called: “Introduction to Awareness: Natural Liberation through Naked Perception, [which is an extract] from the Peaceful and Wrathful Deities: A Profound Sacred Teaching [entitled] Natural Liberation through Recognition of Enlightened Intention.”
Even in this title we find our intentions have to be enlightened by that spark, by that insight of something new. We have all had this when were children specifically, when we saw life in a way that was novel, new. When you look at a child, that child has a fascination with all things. The child is not conditioned by the perceptions or the obligations of a much more mature life. This is why Jesus said:
Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. ―Matthew 18:3
Become innocent in the mind.
The Reality and Need for Awareness
Through the single nature of mind which completely pervades both cyclic existence and nirvana, [heavenly states of consciousness]
In religion, whether in yoga exercises, in meditation, reflection, or mantra: vocalizing sacred sounds to work with energy in the body, none of these exercises work even outside an understanding the nature of awareness. These are tools that can help our perception, what we call, in gnostic terms, consciousness, Essence, in order to verify for ourselves the nature of religion, to experience that reunion directly.
This type of cognizance has been present in us, but we are not aware of it. We call this consciousness, in Buddhist terms, buddha nature: the capacity to be fully awakened, to know God directly, to know all the different truths contained in religion, to know the heavens as the different buddhas taught and verify through experience.
We have many practices in this tradition, as we explained, in order to verify divinity, but none of these practices are effective without an understanding of the nature of awareness, paying attention, being aware of our mind, our heart, our body.
And even though there are inestimable volume of sacred writings, equally vast as the limits of space,
The Difference Between Intellect and Consciousness
There are many books on religion, many books of yoga. But how many have actually verified for themselves the nature of their tradition? You find that, in relation to the conflicts of religion, they do not understand the nature of their tradition because religion, yoga, should reunite people, not create conflict.
We want to be aware of ourselves, and in Buddhist terms, they use mind, but here we are talking about consciousness. Consciousness is a much more accurate term. Some of the translations into Western language is difficult, particularly because they use terms that are familiar to Westerners in a way that do not accurately convey the depth of language. Usually, when we speak of mind, we think of intellect, and like Descartes taught, “I think therefore I am.”
But this is a mistaken concept. We could say “I think, therefore I am not.” Descartes says the intellect is our true identity, but Buddhists, and as the Gnostic teachings also convey, our real identity is divinity and our consciousness. Our soul is what can unite us with divinity.
The mind in strict terms, in gnostic language, pertains to intellect. When we think of mind, we think of intellect. The type of experience the Buddhists are talking about is consciousness.
We want to clarify some of the translations of the terms.
Consciousness is what occurs before thought, occurs before feeling, occurs even before or between sensation. Our consciousness, our soul, our buddha nature, is the capacity to experience life without filter.
Question: Is that what the Buddhists refer to as a Zen state or something like that?
Instructor: It does relate to Zen. Zen is the Japanese derivative of Chan Buddhism. It relates to Dzogchen, the Tibetan Buddhist teaching particularly. Really, the highest form of thought is no thought. We say that consciousness is the capacity to not think, but to know, to perceive, to become cognizant. If you ever observe one’s state, to be aware of what happens between thoughts, usually we have a train of thinking all the time, or being identified with our mood, or identifying with what we eat, the sensations of our body.
If we really observe ourselves, we see that these things are constantly fluctuating. They are changing and never stable. So, where is the genuine identity that we carry in that? In one moment, we have a drink of water, feeling the sensations of the water, and other moments we think about our spouse, jobs, our career, and then the next moment we are in a different mood. Perhaps we are angry, sad, or frustrated about a situation. Then we can be happy again. Usually, we identify this as being one unique self from whom we identify as ourselves, failing to recognize that these are factors that are fluctuating and changing constantly, and that our psychological states are contingent upon the events of life and that there is always change. There is no stability.
Who has genuine existence inside? This relates to the Buddhist doctrine Anatman, which means “no self.” This does not mean obliteration, as if we are talking about nihilism, as if there is no existence. Instead, it is a perception that is clear, that is superior, not filtered by thought, feeling, sensation, instinct, by impulse. It is this type of perception that we want to strengthen and that we want to develop.
In the beginning it is very difficult to differentiate what is our thoughts, our feelings, our emotions, when we begin to observe ourselves, as if we are watching a film, like the practice of Annapanna.
To state that this type of awareness is a dull state, or a neutral state, is incorrect, particularly because the soul, the consciousness, is beyond thought. It is beyond feeling, beyond sensation, and has great capacity for emotion of a superior type―not the common anger we may feel at a certain crisis of our life or difficulty.
If you listen to classical music, such as masters like Beethoven or Wagner, their music is very powerful. They were awakened and they were conveying music that was of superior type, giving a teaching of spiritual nature which we explain in different lectures. Their music is very powerful for inspiration in the heart, potency in the heart. If you look at the music of Beethoven, such as his choral pieces, his famous Ode to Joy, it is an expression of the soul in union with divinity. It is a superior emotion, but not the type of emotion we identify with and typically experience.
Consciousness is dynamic. It has a range of experience, but we can only verify this by becoming aware, by observing ourselves and understanding that we are not our thoughts. We are not our feelings. We are not our body. We are something much more profound. That soul, when it is awakened to its true nature, can really experience that bliss that all religions talk about, which all the prophets have spoken of.
All messengers have explained that union with divinity is real happiness, but the beginning is learning to separate from what we think, what we feel, what we identify with as ourselves. Religion teaches us that this self that we have is transitory, and through analysis we see that our self is changing moment by moment. There is no stable identity there: we have anger; we have happiness; we have joy; we have a memory, a preoccupation. All these things fluctuate.
In order to make any type of spiritual practice fruitful, it begins with this observation: becoming aware of ourselves and the fact that if we do not know divinity, it is because we do not know ourselves. We have to become more of that presence inside.
In our society today, we have many preconceptions of who we are as individuals or what a human being is, but if we examine this scripture, it points to us that the typical definition of mind, intellect, of our true self, is incipient. It lacks profundity. As predicted hundreds of years before us, Padmasambhava states the following:
Oh fortunate children, listen to these words! The term “mind” is commonplace and widely used,
Christianity had removed this teaching of reincarnation, which we work with and seek to verify for ourselves, this experience of having transmigrated as a soul through different lives, different bodies. When we learn to develop our consciousness, we can verify our past, where we come from, who we are, and where we are going. The Buddhist doctrine teaches, like Hinduism, that there is a transmigration of souls, which was removed by fanatics of Christianity.
We experience suffering and:
This is the fault of not understanding this intrinsic nature of mind. ―The Tibetan Book of the Dead
The Existence and Causes of Suffering
When we approach religion or spiritual teaching, it is because we suffer. If we approach yoga or religion or traditions, it is because we want to overcome that suffering. Deep down it is the primary motive. But we have to recognize where that suffering comes from.
It is not our job, our spouse or our family, friends, or strangers in the street who make us suffer. We need to understand what inside us is provoked by the external circumstances. Usually, we identify with the external world as if these are the causes of our pain. Yet if we look at any of the masters, such as Jesus for example, he physically lived a drama in order to symbolically represent something we need to go through inside, to experience internally. The soul has to become purified through a type of Passion, through the way of the cross, as Jesus taught, by facing the causes of our suffering inside in order to eliminate them. All our impurities of our mind have to die on that cross, which we explain in different books, the symbolism of the cross.
Here we are explaining that Jesus physically lived a drama in which he led himself be physically persecuted, to teach us something symbolic. When he was being crucified, he said:
Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. ―Luke 23:34
He did not curse or condemn his attackers. He blessed them, and the fact that we do not have that psychology shows that we are imperfect. Whereas the Christ through Jesus taught, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
In your patience possess ye your souls. ―Luke 21:19
Be purified as your Father, your inner divinity, is perfect. We need to have that perfection.
Where does it begin? By becoming aware, by developing cognizance of ourselves.
Many people talk about mind. There are many books in the world that will teach you how to fortify intellect. This is primarily what yogis, monks, rabbis, many practitioners of religions teach. But we need to have a mind that is simple, an intellect that is simple. This does not mean that we become ignorant, but as Jesus taught:
Unless you are converted and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. ―Matthew 18:3
Become innocent. If we do not observe ourselves whenever we have a bout of frustration or hatred, or anger towards another person, we fail to realize that we are harming that person. We may know that a certain emotion is wrong, but still we act. We are impelled to act. That means that we do not have full control.
God does not have anger. Anger is a defect that we created. Those are elements that we need to remove and purify so that we can become perfect as our Father, our inner divinity―perfect inside. That Father in Christianity is the Buddha, really, the source of our buddha nature, our divine Being.
The Three Considerations of Consciousness
How do we become aware of ourselves? How do we develop our connection with our divinity? We have three considerations in this scripture:
The following is the introduction to the means of experiencing this single nature of mind [consciousness]
Usually, in the West we have this tendency to fill ourselves with many occupations, to perform many activities, to be reading and using our intellect all day, particularly with certain jobs we may have. So, we are always moving, moving, moving―performing activities and actions. We still do not have time to just sit, relax, and really look inside. Usually, we may watch some television or movie as if it could remove our worries from what we are engaged with in our daily life. We seldom sit down to see what is really going on in our heart and our mind. Usually, we are focused in the external and fail to recognize that our psychological experience is transient. It is changing. We have to be aware of this process, and when we begin to realize that we do not have awareness, this can be very disconcerting. But it is a necessary step that any practitioner of religion has to face.
If you have seen images of The Temptation of St. Anthony by the Gnostic Master Hieronymus Bosch, he painted an image of a landscape with many demonic creatures attacking St. Anthony, who is trying to pray and focus on an image of Christ in the center of his temple in the middle of the image. All of those discombobulated creatures are in his mind, representing his own negativity, fear, his passion, his hatred, his lust. These are elements that he is trying to overcome by praying to divinity inside.
This is a difficult experience every person has to face when beginning to become aware of what is inside, and that we carry many elements that we thought we did not have. At the same time, we also see we do not have many elements that we thought we had. That begins by becoming aware of what are our obstacles inside, by observing the nature of our mind in this moment.
These three considerations―we need to recognize that past thoughts are traceless, clear, and empty. By observing the mind, we observe ourselves. We see that thoughts change and fluctuate. If we ever had the experience of falling asleep at night hearing, on that transition state, different voices in the emergence of dreams, this shows us the elements that we are not aware of. Even in dreams like nightmares, we can see certain things that are horrifying, which are not fantasy, but elements that are inside us that we are becoming aware of in dreams.
So, these past thoughts, those are traceless, clear, and empty. They do not have a foundation. They are like clouds. Observe yourself. In one moment, we are thinking about our spouse, or friend, and the next moment, we can think of a different thing. Usually we think this comes from one unique self without observing the fact of what is occurring inside.
We need to be aware. How does our mind function? Observe it. To know is one thing, but to observe is a completely different skill. Usually, we say “I know I am angry.” “Yeah, I know I am frustrated.” “Yes, I am tired.” But we are not really observing the fact. Knowledge is of the mind, and comprehension is of the heart. To observe is to understand, to develop this perception of the consciousness inside without being filtered.
Also, the fact that thoughts, future thoughts, are unproduced and fresh. Usually, we are not aware of how thoughts emerge. But if we observe, we see the elements that emerge as a result of some external cause, some impression in life, such as if we see a hamburger, we suddenly have the desire to eat. There is a constant barrage of external impressions that enter our psyche that we are reacting to all the time.
But we need to become aware of this factor. We need to realize that this present moment abides naturally and is unconstructed. As I said, we are always looking for things to do―occupations. We seldom sit in the moment and just be. We may if we go to the beach and relax from our worries. Just simply sit like a child sits, and become filled with awe of the beauty of nature, the beauty of creation of divinity. The fact that we are not in this state of awe, in reverence of divinity, shows that we re obscured in our perception. Usually, all we see is ourselves. But if we want to know divinity, we need to become aware of what is inside that prevents us from knowing divinity.
The moment needs to abide naturally and unconstructed, meaning, we are not trying to fill it with so many preoccupations or activities, but simply to sit, even just for ten minutes, to meditate, observe, relax the body, observe the mind, observe the heart, observe the experience of our physicality, and just be in the moment. It is this awareness of being in the moment that opens the gate to insight to the nature of divinity.
The Qualities of Awareness
We find that this type of awareness relates to, we say, light.
And God said, Let there be light, and there was light. ―Genesis 1:3
People think, in the book of Genesis, that this is the physical creation of the world. It is the creation of the true human being who is psychological, inside. It is not talking about the history of the world, the history of human beings, but how that psychological image, that pure awareness of divinity, is fully developed inside. Divinity says, “Let there be light,” and there was light.
That darkness is our fear, our detachment, our suffering. It is a chaos, a void. The divinity in us needs to fill that void and create light. That light is awareness, to see within. So, as the Buddhists teach:
When this ordinary, momentary consciousness is examined nakedly and directly by oneself,
I stated that we need to observe ourselves, to be aware of ourselves. But this type of perception, being unfiltered, beyond thought, beyond feeling, beyond the body, when we are observing, we find that there is no individual self, but a universal consciousness. Some people call it Christ-consciousness: a type of cognizance in which there is no individual, but there is only the universe, the Being, divinity.
[It is] Manifestly stark and clear,
This is talking about how conscious experience is dynamic. It is always changing with our states. Awareness is something that is profound and has many qualities. If you study Sufism, you see this is very evident in their discussion of the nature of different states of consciousness. Buddhism is, really, pointing towards the same thing: how there are many superior emotional qualities which are divine.
We listen to great music like by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky or Frederic Chopin, Mozart. They are expressing very beautiful conscious states of a superior type. That is why we say these masters of music are prophets, teaching how to unite the soul with divinity through music.
This type of awareness is not mere nothingness. It sounds as if, “Well, if there is no ‘I,’ if there is no ‘self,’ then nothing will exist.” This is not the case. This is a very subtle teaching of Buddhist doctrine and Gnostic psychology. The one who observes is the soul. All of the different thoughts, feelings, emotions, transient psychological states, pertain to subjective elements in our psyche, what we call ego. Ego in Latin means “I,” “Self.” So, there are many different egos, selves, different states which produce suffering inside of us.
Question: And personality too?
Instructor: Yes, personality too. The fact that we have changing elements that when we observe, we realize we do not have control over them.
Question: What I mean is that some or many people have many personalities inside.
Instructor: Yes, people have been diagnosed with split personality disorder have that to a much more pronounced degree. In strict language, what really religions teach us, we find that all of us have these elements. We may be sane physically, but deep down we do have elements which are disjointed. This is represented by the man Jesus confronted, who is possessed by demons. Those demons are egos, defects. We say that ego is lust, is pride, greed, gluttony, laziness, hate, etc. The seven deadly sins, or it is also legion. As Jesus asked:
What is thy name? And he answered, saying, My name is Legion: for we are many. ―Mark 5:9
People think that this is just one crazy many that Jesus healed. But this is a symbol of how our divinity, which we can call Christ, needs to create unity inside of us, create light, awareness, by freeing the soul that is trapped in all those elements.
We say that ego is like a shell that traps consciousness. It conditions our perception. So, we want to free our soul from those elements by developing awareness. We state that it is the soul that can experience divinity. We all understand that―usually, we say ―that person has ego, meaning, has a strong sense of self. We like to apply that term to people we think are very cocky, so to speak. Anyone who has anger, vanity, pride, or feels negativity at some point, that is ego. That is conditioning of the mind. It obscures the genuine light of reality inside. So, we need to learn how to separate light from that darkness. “God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.” That is becoming aware of ourselves. The fact that this awareness is not a single entity, but is dynamic, is fluctuating, is something we really need to reflect on from experience.
This intrinsic awareness, which is not extraneously derived
Christianity talks about the Trinity. We think these are three figures in the clouds: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. These are really referring to energies, forces in nature, or in strict gnostic psychological terms, we say that the Father is the force of affirmation. We have the force of negation relating to the Son, and the force of reconciliation in the Holy Spirit. The universe is governed by three forces: Affirmation, Negation, Reconciliation. It creates balance and harmony in nature. That energy or divinity creates harmony in the cosmos, and also needs to create that harmony within us. This intrinsic awareness is that light. We say Christ, referring to those forces inside of us, our divinity inside, which we need to actualize.
Talking about gnostic psychology, we explain that we have different elements that obscure our realization of that light. It Is necessary to confront this fact in ourselves, because the reason why people do not experience divinity, why people do not know who God is inside, what is our genuine buddha nature inside, is because we have certain elements in our mind. This is a painful fact to recognize, but fundamental if we do not know divinity. We need to understand what we are doing that is preventing us from knowing that energy that force, that presence, that experience. Logically it makes sense that if we are not perceiving divinity, as the prophets say, it is because we are not fulfilling the necessary requirements, conditions, causes, to experience that divinity.
In religion, people think it is enough to simply raise your hand and say “I believe in Jesus,” or “I believe in Buddha,” “I believe in the Prophet Muhammad,” or “I believe in Krishna.” Many people approach religion in this way, failing to recognize that which obscures our light inside is the darkness or moon of our mind. The sun of our Being or divinity could shine in us with profound light and awareness, but our common every day mundane experience, our fluctuating psychological states, is like the moon that is eclipsing the sun.
If we honestly reflect on our previous experience in life, as I mentioned when we were young, we experience life in a much more different way. Time did not exist. A single moment brought us happiness of nature that we fail to explain. We can identify, but we do not really know what was that joy, or where did this joy come from, seemingly without any cause. This is a type of peace we had which we need to cultivate in our adult, mature life.
From Where is Our Awareness Derived?
We find that logically it makes sense that if we are not in a conscious state and do not have awareness of divinity, it is because our soul is asleep. All religions teach us the need for practice, and this is something we emphasize in this teaching. We explain in this doctrine the science of meditation, becoming aware of ourselves and to really confront in us what elements produce our pain. As the Buddhist Master Shantideva taught:
How many enemies, as unending as space, can I kill [from my anger]? When the mind state of anger is slain, all my enemies are slain likewise. ―Shantideva, The Way of the Bodhisattva
Usually, we have this tendency to approach things from the outside and not be aware of what is going on inside. To cover the entire surface of the earth with leather? It is impossible. But with leather soles beneath my feet, we can go anywhere. It's as if the whole world has been covered, said Shantideva.
This is an interesting demarcation of the psychology of our times with the psychology of an individual who is working to unite with divinity. Usually, we think the external causes are the result of our suffering, external events like loss of job, conflict with a family member or spouse. We fail to realize the internal sates that are provoking these experiences. Symbolically we want to put leather all over the world so that we can walk anywhere. That is ludicrous. We have this tendency to always look outside, or not becoming aware inside. If we cover our feet, if we discipline our mind, and we eliminate anger, we develop genuine joy, peace, and love for others. In that sense, we do not have conflicts.
Heaven is inside. Nirvana, bliss, cessation of suffering is an internal state. Certainly, there are internal states of awareness, and experiences we can have when we physically go to sleep, and we can access through dream yoga: awakening within dreams, becoming aware in dreams. But if we fail to control our mind, we will necessarily not have that experience.
The superior dimensions pertain to places we can investigate, verify and know by awakening this awareness in our daily life, which will translate into our dream state.
Heaven is really a state of being. It is not necessarily found by going to Tibet or pilgrimage or looking outside, but looking inside.
If any of you have read Paradise Lost by John Milton, a very famous poet, he wrote the greatest English epic about the story of creation in Genesis. He said:
The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven. ―John Milton, Paradise Lost
Heaven is being united with divinity, or hell is our problems, our psychological states. So, we teach how to meditate, how to understand our mind, how to understand our psychology. We explain this awareness in relation to our daily experience. There is nothing that is separate from the experience of this moment. There is no future. There is no past. We need to understand that everything we seek is inside.
If we do not know the different dimensions of nature and the different levels of the cosmos, as represented in the Hebrew Kabbalah known as the Tree of Life in the Bible, a map of the universe and divinity, it is because we need to know ourselves. Likewise, if we know ourselves, we become aware of the presence and experience of divinity in our daily life.
We stop thinking. We can be washing dishes and we are concentrated in the moment, and we experience the new, a Zen state, awareness that is beyond intellect, no thought. Just peace, a joy that is somber and solemn, but profound.
Though one were to scan the entire external universe,
Modern religion emphasizes that if you belong to this group and pray with this community, you are saved. Liberation is not like that. Liberation is cognizance of the divine. It is inside. It does not belong anywhere.
This is like a fool, for example, who, when finding himself amidst a crowed of people,
We have to really become profound, to have the courage to investigate things and to verify for ourselves our spiritual nature, which is to become present, cognizant, to approach ourselves from the perspective that if we do not know divinity, it is because we do not know ourselves fundamentally.
Some people have the impression that if one abandons thought, feeling or the body, one is like a zombie or a soulless state, that there is nothing dynamic about that person. But when we develop this sense of awareness, it is genuine joy and cognizance of reality that cuts through illusion. It cuts through transitory sense, and it is something we learn to taste and verify through experience.
Questions and Answers
Question: If I can truly observe myself as in noticing my internal state, how long is it going to take?
Instructor: It does not take any time because time, past, and future, do not exist. To access that state of divinity, it happens now. It is a result of our discipline, of being mindful through out the day. The truth does not come to us in the future. We have this idea that in the future, maybe “I’ll become a great meditator, or a great yogi sitting under a bodhi tree or a bush meditating for twenty years, and I will finally have that moment―Oh, I have got it!’”
The Sufis call it [the present moment] waqt in Arabic. To be aware of that presence, hudur, the presence of divinity, happens now through awareness, muhadarah. Awareness, the experience of divinity, has nothing to do with time. We think that “With time I will change, with time I will do this,” but that is delusional, because all religions teach that realization begins in the moment. The thing that will become developed in the future is a mistake. It happens moment by moment. We can say in conventional time, students who have been practicing for many years may have more experiences, but the realization of those truths does not occur in some remote future, but now.
Question: What I am trying to say is that it takes time to get better?
Instructor: Conventionally, it is true. With practice we get better at it. But the realization of insight or the truth occurs when we are being present in this moment. With time, the more you become acculturated with that state, the more it becomes your reality, and the more that divinity guides you in your daily experiences with life to help confront those problems. So, yes, students have been practicing for twenty, thirty years seriously will have more insight, but that insight does not come in the future. We develop it in each instant. That is my emphasis because we have this conception that with time, we will get better, which conventionally it is true, but to get better we need to work in the moment. So, two truths, the ultimate and the conventional, which coincide, if that makes sense.
Comment: I am a spiritual being, and I am connected with this whole world, and I think what religion, at least my experience, is you are not a spiritual being until after death and that is when we are spiritual beings and that is when we are connected to God. But I feel I am already connected to God. I do not know what God is but I know what he is not, and I know it is not an after life that is right here right now. That is how I feel.
Instructor: In strict esoteric teaching, we say that only the Being is. Only divinity can say that “I am,” because the soul as the expression of divinity is not the divinity. It is apart of divinity, and we as the soul can learn to follow will of the divine or follow our own selfish will.
To really know divinity, the highest expression in divinity, is taught in a structure of Kabbalah specifically―the structure of the divine and the soul. This image, as I will show you, is really a map of who God is and where we are in the universe. As a symbol represented in the Bible, the Tree of Life is ten spheres, representing the highest forces of the spirit and Christ above, and how that energy descends down into different energies of matter and consciousness. At bottom of this Tree of life we have a sphere called Malkuth, which means the physical body. Above that we have Yesod, which is our energy, our vitality; Hod, which is our emotion; Netzach, which is our mind; Tiphereth, which is our will. Above that we have the divine soul, the spirit, and then we have the Trinity. To really know God, to be really fully connected with that energy, with that force, is to know the entire Tree of Life in this moment. That is something that very elevated masters, such as Jesus or Buddha, were cognizant of all these spheres in themselves and knew the dimensions of nature simultaneously.
A person that is fully connected, in strict esoteric language, is one who is aware of this entire constitution, this multidimensionality of the psyche.
Question: All spheres [of the Tree of Life] are connected?
Instructor: Yes, and we study them individually such as through teachings of Kabbalah, which is associated with the mystical science of Judaism, but is truly a map for any religion. It helps is in studying any pantheon or faith. It can help us understand different scriptures. It is also a map of the soul, of divinity, the Being and what we need to develop inside.
Awareness really pertains to, in fuller sense, having all those elements fully developed inside and integrated, which is what we study in Hebraic teachings, the foundation in Judaism and Christianity. But also, it can help us understand Buddhism particularly.
The Gnostic Academy of Chicago
Free online courses, lectures, podcasts, and transcriptions.