We began this exercise by observing ourselves, observing our thinking, observing our emotional states, as well as the body. This active, clear seeing, observation, is the entrance way into meditation. It is the unfoldment, the means, the method. Meditation is precisely the science of perceiving clearly without obscuration, without conditioning.
If we are honest, when we sit for five minutes, or even ten, twenty, half an hour, if we look within ourselves, what we typically perceive is a conglomeration of different thoughts, different emotions, different memories, which seem to surge and to churn without control, without any order, without any coherence.
So, meditation is the science of expanding that attention, developing it―this awareness of oneself, and this understanding of all the factors that make up who we are psychologically―in terms of our thoughts, our emotions, our impulses to act. Meditation is about understanding these elements, where they originate from, how they emerge, sustain and pass from the screen of our awareness, our attention.
Consciousness is simply the ability to look, to see, not with physical senses, but psychological ones―to understand that we are not thought, that we are not emotion, that we are not the impulses of the body, instincts. Looking within, we learn to see that we are composed of many elements that meditation helps us to understand and to comprehend. Because the science of awakening consciousness is the science of freeing oneself from conditions, from elements that shape and limit our attention, our perception.
The consciousness is simply the ability to observe, to pay attention, to remember what one is doing. If you sit for five minutes and find that the mind is wondering, thinking of other things, being distracted, that means that our consciousness is not strengthened enough, developed. It is not potent enough to remain focused. And, if we are observing ourselves in those five minutes of meditation, we tend to understand or can see that this is the psychological state of our being, on a moment-to-moment basis, day by day.
We tend to live life in a very identified fashion, a very mechanical fashion, reacting to the circumstances of life, impulsively, because if you look within those five minutes of meditation, simply blocking out the senses, looking inside to what is within, that is a barometer for how conscious we really are throughout our daily experience. Because by shutting up the senses, introspecting within, we get a glimpse of what our daily state of life is like in a more objective sense, in a more clear sense.
Meditation is not simply about sitting for five minutes, ten minutes, becoming relaxed, although that is the introduction, the beginning of awakening perception. Instead, it has to do with understanding the conditions that shape our daily state, which make us suffer, to understand what are the psychological obstacles within the mind, within our heart, that condition us, conditions our ways of seeing, of being, of understanding.
There are many factors that make up who we are, but in a subjective sense. If you really go deep and develop this practice further, learning to observe as a consciousness within oneself, one sees that one is not thought, because thoughts emerge, they sustain upon the screen of our awareness, they pass away, like memories, like clouds. Likewise, emotions. Moods emerge, sustain, pass away. Likewise, the sensations of the body, an itch, a scratch, something that irritates. These likewise emerge, sustain, pass away on the screen of our experience.
These factors are really impermanent. There is nothing stable about them. And yet, if we are developing our observation of ourselves, we can realize that that which is eternal, that which is divine, is the consciousness. The act of looking, the act of seeing oneself as one is, is light, understanding.
Meditation is about developing that perception of oneself because consciousness is light, the ability to perceive―beyond any conditioning, beyond any limitations, beyond any belief. Few people recognize that our psychology is something that is feasible to modify, to change. It is possible to change one’s state of suffering on a day-by-day basis, to transform one’s mind.
This is something that Buddhism explains beautifully in the Four Noble Truths.
One: that in life there is suffering.
Second: suffering has causes.
Third: the causes of suffering can cease.
And lastly, there is a path away to cease suffering.
Those psychological states in our daily life, such as anger, fear, resentment, pride, vanity, these elements are conditions. They are not the true nature of consciousness, who we really, fundamentally are in our depth. The problem is that due to mistaken action, we have conditioned our psyche.
We may like to blame other people for our suffering: maybe at our job, our friends, our coworkers, one’s spouse, one’s loved ones. But the fact is that regardless of the impressions of life that emerge, enter within us such as someone insults us, says something negative―we are responsible for our own psychological states: the elements of pride, resentment, anger, fear, frustration. These elements are something that we created, and which are not our true self. They are not our true identity.
Meditation is about learning to develop and break away the conditions of the soul, consciousness. So that we are radiantly absorbed in our own true nature, which is light, which is happiness, contentment. The problem is that we have psychologically conditioned ourselves. We have put a cage around who we are, because anger, fear, hatred, egotism, these are elements that we created and that we are responsible for changing.
But the first step of any practice is simply looking within, to recognize the First Noble Truth that in life there is suffering. But also that there are causes, which are psychological. And the fact of observation helps us to see within ourselves what those states are, what those elements are. What are those cages that trap and limit us which make us vibrate at a low level of being, of behaving? So, every religion teaches how to break those shells in their fundamental heart. Whether in these time that teaching is being disseminated is another thing. But all religions, we teach, in their very root essence, explain the science of meditation, how to observe oneself, how to understand why we suffer, and to understand those cages that we created, so that we can, by seeing them, eliminate them, by the grace of divinity. Because as Buddha Shakyamuni, his title of buddha simply means “awakened one, cognizant one,” stated that our life is shaped by our mental states, our psychological way of being.
We tend to like to look at the exterior, that it is the exterior world that makes us suffer. But the science of meditation, introspection, teaches us to see where those causes of suffering exist, so that by understanding them they may cease.
Preceded by mind are phenomena, led by mind, formed by mind. If with mind polluted one speaks or acts, then pain follows, as a wheel follows the draft ox’s foot. Preceded by mind are phenomena, led by mind, formed by mind. If with mind pure one speaks or acts, then ease follows, as an ever-present shadow. –Buddha, The Dhammapada
The Eastern doctrines teach the law of karma, which simply means “cause and effect.” How do our actions produce happiness? How do our actions produce suffering? And understanding the basis of this law of cause and effect we can change, and thereby, we learn to change the state of humanity as it is. Because any fundamental revolution of a spiritual type does not occur as a result of focusing on the exterior, but by becoming psychologically united in oneself, integral―not being dispersed or distracted by the psychological elements of anger, resentment, ego.
These psychological states determine our life. If we speak with anger in a certain situation, we suffer the consequences, produce problems, difficulties, ordeals. But if we learn to change our way of being, our level of consciousness, we learn to respond to life with a sense of rectitude, with purity. Because the mind, with our thinking, our ways of feeling, and our ways of acting, as it is, tends to be egotistical, focused on “me, myself, what I want, what I crave, what I desire, what I want to do”―and usually at the expense of other people.
The mind with these conditions, its factors of limitation, are precisely a form of pollution. It is the negativity, the conditioning of the psyche. Anger is a polluted emotion, a negative mental state. Likewise, the different religious explanations, such as the seven deadly sins of Christianity, or the ten non-meritorious actions of Buddhism. These all refer to negative states of being which, if we comprehend them at their root, we can then awaken and free our consciousness from those conditions.
As I said, consciousness is light, the ability to perceive beyond thought, beyond feeling, beyond impulse. It is the ability to observe, to be attentive. Now, when I say the consciousness is beyond thought, it is beyond emotion, it is beyond impulse, this does not mean that the consciousness is without feeling or understanding. Because the consciousness, when it is radiantly absorbed within its true nature, is pure, is happiness, serenity, content. These are the virtues of the soul mentioned in different religious cosmogonies and traditions.
But typically, egotism, hatred, fear, these elements constitute our daily state of suffering, and refer to the darkness in the book of Genesis on the first day. So, the Bible teaches that the Earth was formless and void, and the darkness was upon the face of the deep, of the abyss. People literally interpret this to mean some type of physical creation story. But it is something psychological.
That darkness is us, our mind. When we look within, if we observe our problems, our daily experience, when we look within, we tend to see an abyss, very dark, without divinity. But if we remember, as taught within the religious scriptures, which we interpret in a symbolic manner, there is the ability and the hope to transform one’s psyche. Because, as the book of Genesis in Hebrew, בראשית Bereshit speaks of, it says, “Elohim said: ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.”
So in terms of divinity, they were not referring to some old man in the clouds with a beard, but as a presence, as a consciousness, as omniscience, pure happiness, a way of being. And really, in our fundamental heart, we have God within, the Being, the presence of divinity within us, as a light. We as a consciousness emanated from that source.
But due to our mistakes, our consciousness entered into states of conditioning, as I mentioned, creating egotism. So, by certain exercises of meditation that we perform and practice, we learn to awaken consciousness, awaken light, so that divinity in us can say: “Let there be light. Let there be consciousness, understanding of the causes of suffering in oneself.” So that by irradiating that light within oneself, one can change. One can eliminate that problem, that pain. As Samael Aun Weor, the founder of the modern Gnostic tradition wrote in The Great Rebellion:
Consciousness is the light which the unconscious does not perceive. A blind person does not perceive physical solar light either, but it does exist by itself. We need to open ourselves so that the light of consciousness can penetrate the terrible darkness of the me, myself, the "I.” ―Samael Aun Weor, The Great Rebellion
Meaning our egotism, our desires, our passions, our negativity―that sense of me, myself, “what I want, what I crave.” It is ego, because in Latin the word ego means “I.” Sadly, we have invested our energy into that sense of identity, which is negative, and we have forgotten what the light of pure divinity is.
We tend to live in an unconscious state. This is what Buddhism teaches, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Sufism. Darkness being on the face of the deep is our unconscious state of being, which is remediated by receiving the light of divinity, precisely through the work of meditation, of Genesis as practiced and symbolized in the scripture.
Now we can better understand the meaning of John’s words when he said in the Gospel: ‘And the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not (John 1:5). ―Samael Aun Weor, The Great Rebellion
Light is perception, knowing, understanding, serenity. States of suffering and egotism is the darkness of the myself, the ego.
Atma Bodha: The Path of Self-Knowledge
The scripture known as Atma Bodha meaning “self-knowledge,” from Atman Bodhi, or “self-wisdom, self-knowledge” written by Shankaracharya, gives some beautiful verses about this science of light, of understanding oneself. And it explains how, it is only by learning to look within oneself, through direct active observing, that one can change. Because, to know that you are seated on this chair is one thing, but to observe where we are at, be aware of what we are doing―driving a car, fulfilling our obligations―that is a very different psychological quality. It is very distinct.
Knowledge is of the intellect, the mind, thought. Comprehension or understanding is of the heart, the consciousness, the soul. It explains that consciousness can only be developed through active seeing. He composed this scripture for people who are very disciplined about their practice. So, this scripture was originally for people who are meditating for hours daily. That is a means of breaking the conditions of the mind, for people who are very dedicated. But even if we are new to meditation, these words are very valuable:
I am composing the ATMA-BODHA, this treatise of the Knowledge of the Self, for those who have purified themselves by austerities. ―Atma Bodha 1:1
Meaning practices of meditation, denying the self, what it wants, denying the ego, denying anger by not speaking words of harm, denying fear by being in remembrance of divinity; likewise, denying lust, desire, by abstention of certain habits and behaviors, which are harmful. So, this is for those who are purifying themselves by austerities.
…and are peaceful in heart and calm… ―Atma Bodha 1:1
Many people who sit to meditate, who can remain focused throughout an entire practice, cannot be distracted, who have serenity and concentration. The ability to focus on one thing without distraction is true serenity.
…who are free from cravings [egotistical desires] and are desirous of liberation (Meaning: the complete emancipation of the consciousness from conditions).
So, what is this knowledge? It has nothing to do with books, with reading from a scripture, or simply limiting oneself to lecture. Instead, this is direct knowledge, knowing oneself, conscious wisdom, which the Greeks have called Gnosis, the Sufis called Marif’ah in Arabic, the Kabbalists of Israel have called Da’ath.
Action cannot destroy ignorance… ―Atma Bodha 1:3
This word ignorance, people in the West tend to think it has to do with people who do not read, who are not educated. But if you look at the etymology of this word, you find the word Gnosis in Greek, knowledge. The prefix i means “without.” So, “to be without knowledge, to be ignorant,” is precisely the state of our being, here and now―to suffer in life without understanding the psychological causes of that pain―without understanding how anger in ourselves, these elements, these conditions trap us. That is what it means to be ignorant, to not have light, to be asleep as a consciousness―to constantly react to life, day by day, repetitively, mechanically, going along in the same track of behavior until the day we die. That is a very profound form of ignorance, because nothing is changed, fundamentally. The way that we can fundamentally learn to live life with a sense of spirituality, of remembrance of God, is precisely by learning to observe ourselves. Because we commit many actions, which are negative, which are egotistical. As the scripture states:
Action cannot destroy ignorance, for it is not in conflict with or opposed to ignorance. ―Atma Bodha 1:3
Because our egos, our sense of “I, myself,” our defects, these act in ways that are detrimental, harmful. So, action, cause and effect does not necessarily guarantee one will behave, or work in a conscious way, responding to life and others with purity, with rectitude, and with compassion.
Knowledge [self-knowledge, self-observation of oneself] destroys ignorance as light destroys deep darkness. ―Atma Bodha 1:3
So, again this knowledge is, when in a moment of interaction with our friends or family, we are observant. Someone says something very negative and, in that moment, we observe the fires of anger emerging, resentment, etc. But if we learn to observe that element, how that conditions us in that instant, we learn to free ourselves from that condition, and therefore experience liberation, peace. That is self-knowledge.
Every religion in the beginning of any meditative practice emphasize the need for ethics, learning to act in ways that are going to be beneficial for others, so that we do not harm ourselves, harm others. These are the religious stipulations of different traditions. Do not kill. Do not steal. Do not lie. Do not commit adultery. Do not fornicate. Do not be negative. Do not be harmful to others. Because the ways that we act psychologically attract energy, and if we act on negativity, we waste energy.
So, energy is very important for awakening consciousness. Obviously, we need energy to be physically awake, day by day. But we rarely tend to see how egotism and negative psychological qualities, waste energy. If we act upon anger, we find that we are depleted or wasted. So, with what can we awaken consciousness?
Every religion teaches: “Restrain the mind. Do not act on negativity, because you waste energy that way.” You need energy to awaken consciousness. Because light cannot exist without fire. So, that fire represents the energies of the body, the heart, the mind, which we need to conserve. So that with that energy, that fire we can generate consciousness.
Christ: The Light of Perception
So, we see here the seven candles being lit by a woman of the Jewish faith. The Sabbath is a very beautiful tradition. In that practice, the woman lights the altar with her family. If you are familiar with Judaism, the woman of the household, takes her hands, and passes over the candleflame, and over the eyes, then head. It is a symbol of how we must purify our perception.
We do that by observing ourselves, becoming aware of ourselves, and also refraining from negative thought, negative feeling, negative action. When our spiritual eyes are awakened and opened, we learn to live life with greater joy and contentment.
That light of consciousness has been given different names in different religions. In the Christian faith, the light of divinity is known as Khristos, which in Greek means “fire,” from the Greek god of fire. It also means “anointed one,” the Christ, which has many beautiful traditions and meanings behind it, but, as we know, we do not have the time to explain today. But that light of divinity is not limited to one person, but is manifested in different prophets and teachers―whether Buddha, Jesus, Krishna, Moses, Mohammed―many religious teachers, missionaries, prophets.
Jesus gave a very beautiful teaching about the light of consciousness, about the path of purifying and breaking the shells of egotism, fear, etc. He explains in the Book of Matthew, chapter 6, verses 22-23, something very profound, which if you look at the original Greek, has many more meanings than what is commonly translated in English. You may be familiar if you have grown up in a Christian household, the following teaching:
The eye is the illumination of the soma (literally: body, but could indicate soul or self). ―Matthew 6:22
If you look at the Greek, you find there are more meanings than just a reference to physical sight, and the physical body. That is not the meaning of what he is teaching. He is teaching that the eyes, the illumination of the self, because soma can mean solar consciousness. How we perceive determines our life. How do we see? How do we act, interact with every human being, of which we come into contact.
If thine eye be singular (aplous: clear, simple, uncomplicated, pure), thy whole self (sōma) will be full of light. ―Matthew 6:22
We can observe ourselves in meditation and reflect on our daily states. We find that we tend to be very complicated. We are not simple. To be simple does not mean to be stupid. It just means to be pure, a consciousness and mind that is integrated. It is not caught in distractions, daydreams, memories, fears. Instead, it refers to having an attention and a consciousness that is so focused and directed to one thing, that it learns to receive information about that thing.
There are many meditative practices such as meditating on God, the Being, the divine, so that when the mind is in silence, it is pure. When the mind is not complicated, fragmented in many elements, that consciousness can experience the divine, the truth. So, to be clear and simple, uncomplicated, pure refers to psychological states that are holy, divine, referring to being awareness, contentment, presence, awareness.
Yet if thine eye be impure (ponēros), thy whole self (sōma) shall be full of darkness. Therefore, if the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness! ―Matthew 6:23
Many Christians interpret it simply referred to having one eye that is singular and that one can see. Well, they have many more interpretations too. But in terms of consciosuness, it refers to our level of being, our way of being.
Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness. If thy whole body [or self, soma] therefore be full of light, having no part dark, the whole shall be full of light, as when the bright shining of a candle doth give thee light. ―Luke 11:35-36
The Light of Presence: Being Here and Now
That light is attention, awareness, connection with the Being, with divinity. This dynamic is represented by the following graphic. So, to have light, to be aware, to be awake is to be constantly in the present moment; to not be distracted; to be here and now; to be in the body as a consciousness; to not be driving a car thinking about our fiancé, or spouse, or friends; to not be washing the dishes and be thinking about other things, but to be doing what we are doing, being aware; not thinking about other things; not planning other things; not being consumed by anguish, by what someone really said to us in the day, at work.
Light is precisely that active, directed attention, being in oneself, and not thinking about other things―when we are focused on one thing. So, I know in this day and age, we like to think of ourselves as multitaskers, but the problem is that we tend to be distracted. This type of behavior is one that justifies the fragmentation of the consciousness. Because you are thinking about other things and not paying attention to what you are doing, it means we are not awake. It means that we, as a consciousness, are asleep, that we are in darkness.
We see in this graphic a representation of this dynamic. We have two lines that intersect: one horizontal, one vertical. The horizontal line is the line of life, represented by our birth, our childhood, our adolescence, our college years or young adult years, maturity, old age, death. This is the line of mechanicity―simply going through life, hoping things will be better will change, fundamentally―that we will receive some kind of joy by getting a new job, a spouse, the new car, the new home, and many of the things that are idolized by our material culture, especially in North America.
But this is another line, that is much more meaningful, and which concerns any practitioner of meditation. It is the vertical path, known as the line of being.
These two lines intersect in this moment. The line of being which ascends towards the heights refers to states of consciousness, ways of perception, which are not conditioned, which are liberated from the negative elements we have been discussing, the conditions. But also, you find that this vertical line descends―and that refers to the states of egotism.
This path above in religion refers to heavens or Nirvana. So, when people talk about heaven or Nirvana, they usually think of some place in the clouds, as some type of afterlife that is above of oneself. But they fail to recognize that, really, heaven is a psychological way of being, a state of perception. Because the word Nirvana means “cessation,” to cease suffering.
If we want to experience what religion has called heaven as well, higher dimensions, awakened states of perception in the dream world, being out of the body through an astral projection, being awake in that state, we have to cease suffering―because the consciousness needs to vibrate at that level of nature, because everything obeys laws, cause and effect. If you want to experience the divine, you need to vibrate at that level of being, by removing the conditions of the consciousness. But, if we do not remove those conditions, then we identify with those problems or sufferings. We invest our energy into those problems, into those defects, and then we strengthen the conditions that trap us.
This is the vertical path. And this vertical path, and in this present moment, we have a choice to make, psychologically: to remember what we are doing; to be listening; to be attentive; to be paying attention; to be driving a car, not thinking about other things, being focused on what we are doing. That refers to the path of the vertical. Because if we are actively observing ourselves, being awake, being aware, we then learn to access higher ways of being, levels of being, the virtues of the soul. But again, we can choose to identify with our own negativity, our egotism: that “me, the myself,” the I, the ego.
Shakespeare, who is an esotericist, demonstrated in his soliloquy of Hamlet this dilemma that people face or that we face when we are initiating this type of work of meditation:
To be, or not to be, that is the question― Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous Fortune, Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, And by opposing end them?
So, to be or not to be? If you are familiar with this play, Hamlet is trying to decide what he is going to do to get revenge over the death of his father, the King Hamlet, who was killed by his brother Claudius. Hamlet’s father, the King Hamlet, was killed by his brother, or Hamlet’s uncle, Claudius.
To be conscious or not to be conscious―to be aware or not to be aware―that is the question. Whether we go through life identifying with every single difficulty we face, suffering mechanically, the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles―by learning to look within oneself and to understand the sources of our problems and by opposing them, by observing them in meditation, by learning to comprehend their roots―we end them.
This light of life, and light of Being, also refers to how we interact with the physical world, precisely because people gravitate towards other groups or religions, beliefs, philosophies, ideas based on their level of being. So, it is easy to see that. A prostitute will be with other prostitutes; a lawyer, with other lawyers; a student, with other students; a spiritual person, with other spiritual people. This is very commonly known as the law of attraction.
What we are psychologically attracts different circumstances in life. So, what we are psychologically determines the type of quality of life that we have. Whether it is materialistic or spiritual, or whatnot. So, Samael Aun Weor the founder of this tradition, he wrote in the book Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology:
Nobody can deny the fact that there are different social levels. There are churchgoing people, people in brothels, farmers, businessmen, etc. In a like manner, there are different Levels of Being. Whatever we are internally, munificent or mean, generous or miserly, violent or peaceful, chaste or lustful, attracts the various circumstances of life. ―Samael Aun Weor, Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology
Someone who changes within his interior, will learn to vibrate with higher levels of divinity, with Being. We likewise come into contact with those people or initiates, those beings who have done the same work before, or who are in the process of doing this meditative path that we teach in this school. So, the religions often talk about angels, archangels, gods, Elohim, buddhas. These are beings and people who were once like us, who were afflicted by many issues. And yet, by comprehending the root causes of their problems, learned to ascend the vertical path, which if you are familiar with the Bible, this is represented by Jacob’s ladder.
Jacob put himself to sleep by resting his head on a stone and had a vision of angels ascending and descending, referring to how different beings can either ascend towards higher heights of divinity or can descend into suffering. When we learn to change, as we learn to practice meditation, we can experience many things. If you are familiar with the science of dream yoga, known as the awakening of consciousness in dreams, you may have the experiences where physically, your body is asleep, but you, as a consciousness, are in the astral plane, the world of dreams. And there, in that dimension―instead of dreaming things mechanically and then returning to the physical body without any memories, or with some vague memories of dreams―we instead learn to perceive that dimension as it is.
Therefore, we can learn to perform works of magic, which is to invoke those divine beings, the buddhas, the angels, the masters, so that they can teach us, for you to vibrate at that level of being, that type of dimension. And personally if I am teaching this to you is because I do that. I have many experiences because of learning meditation, where I have been helped and I am being helped. So, this is why I seek to teach others how to the same. Because, by learning to ascend to a higher level of being, we learn to work and to be in communion with the angels, who are again perfect beings, who were once like us, buddhas, masters, who overcame their own sufferings.
The Prodigal Son
So, the story in the Bible of the prodigal son teaches something very profound as well. Because in this story, which is a parable, a symbolic tale, not a literal teaching, there is a young man who took his father’s wealth and left his kingdom, travelled far away and wasted his money on vain pleasures, prostitution, let us say drugs and many other distractions that people in present time are very addicted to. But there came a remorse in this man’s heart when he recognized that his actions were making him suffer, were giving him pain. He understood that in order to change he had to return to his father, back in his home country.
So, he returned, and his father came out along with his other two brothers who greeted him with a lot of joy. And the same, from Samael Aun Weor, about this tale: “There is more joy for someone who repents than a thousand just people who have no need for repentance.”
So, again, repentance means recognition of the causes of suffering. It does not mean some moral dogma that one says: “I’m a bad person,” and one flagellates oneself. This is a very morbid mentality that many people adopt. But remorse is simply recognizing, psychologically, how we are at fault, in circumstances that pertain to our daily life. And by learning to change them, to observe them, in action, to observe the mind, the emotions, the body, in every interaction of life, we generate light. We learn to create more happiness for others, which guarantees our success.
The prodigal son was a person which represents any one of us who experiences and recognizes the need to change and to make some type of effort to learn about oneself. That father in this parable refers to divinity, which is a Christian appellation, referring to “Our Father Who art in Heaven,” which is not some old man in the clouds, as I said, but, the Being, the divine, a presence, light. So, Samael Aun Weor states in Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology some questions that help to frame this discussion:
What is our moral level? Or better said, what is our Level of Being? The repetition of all our miseries, scenes, misfortunes, and mishaps will last as long as the Level of our Being does not radically change. All things, all circumstances that occur outside ourselves on the stage of this world, are exclusively the reflection of what we carry within. ―Samael Aun Weor, Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology some
When we see violence in television, we see exploitation. We see degeneration. If we are observing ourselves and learning to see ourselves with consciousness, we will find with great discomfort that we contain these elements, that we are ignorant of, that we are not aware of. I believe that Mother Teresa was asked: “Why are you so compassionate? Why do you work so much and suffer so much for other people and help them materially?” She said something like: “Because I’m looking myself and I realize I have a Hitler in me, therefore I want atone for that”―that negativity, that ego, our self, that sense of “I” that produces pain.
So, the exterior is simply a mirror to looking within ourselves. Daily interactions with others is the means, the method by which we learn to see ourselves, to discover ourselves, to see hidden defects, which we never assume that we have or could imagine having.
With good reason then, we can solemnly declare that the “exterior is the reflection of the interior.” When someone changes internally―and if that change is radical―then circumstances, life, and the external also change. ―Samael Aun Weor, Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology
This type of work is a revolution. That does not mean to fight against some political party outside oneself, but to go against that current of degeneration we carry within and to transform ourselves through perception, through awakening consciousness, by eliminating lust, pride, anger, gluttony, greed, and all those defects which we carry within.
That path of the revolution has been taught within Islam, which sadly, that tradition has terribly degenerated, become very negative. The word for striving, to strive against oneself, to go against that current of egotism in one’s psyche is known by the Arabic term mujahadah, which is where you get the word Jihad. Now, people who in these times talk about this, they think it refers to killing people physically if they do not follow one’s beliefs, one’s ideas.
But it is a symbolic teaching: how we act to strive against ourselves, to not act upon our defects, to not give our defects what they want, the energy of our consciousness.
This word mujahadah has been translated as Jihad, which literally means “to strive, to make effort,” to go against the flow. Now, people have translated this to mean “holy war,” but in truth, in the original Arabic, Jihad does not mean “holy war.” These are other words in Arabic for war such as haribun, khisam, sarie, eada, qatal, waghaa. Jihad is not one of them. Actually, that term (holy war) comes from the Christian appellation of the Crusades, which was translated later into Arabic.
But the important thing is you remember that when you are observing yourselves in the day and you are attentive, you are interacting with your boss at work, you may see certain elements emerge, like some type of resistance, negativity, doubt, anger, whatever element we have in our relationships with others, in life. We may be criticized by our boss and we feel fear emerge, negativity, pride: a whole conglomeration of faults and defects, which surge in a few instants, but for observing we can see them and their sources.
When you do not act upon that type of negativity, you are striving against yourself. You are performing a holy war, meaning the war for divinity, so that the presence and light of consciousness can emanate within you without those faults, without those conditions.
So, there is a saying from a book called Principles of Sufism, which is the mystical or esoteric interpretation of Islam―just as the Gnostics interpret the Bible and the Christian Doctrine in a symbolic way. This from the Hadith, which is an oral tradition talking about life of the Prophet Muhammed, who again is a figure who is grossly misunderstood today. We will be giving courses about this topic in the future. But in synthesis, we find some teachings that we are given, that relate to our topic today.
Abu-l Husayn Ali bin Ahmad bin Abdan reported... that Abu Said al-Khudri said that a man went to the Prophet and said, "O Prophet of God, advise me." He said, "'Be wary of God [the Being] for in it is gathered all good.' (3:102). Take upon yourself war for God's sake, for it is the monasticism of the Muslim.” ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
Meaning: someone that submits to divinity, which is an appellation. Really refers to people who are meditating or seeking to comprehend and develop light. Now, whether one calls oneself Muslim because they follow certain exoteric traditions, as well, is one thing, but to submit to divinity is profound. We do it through our actions.
“Take upon yourself the remembrance of God, for it is a light for you.” ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
To be wary of God means to be aware, to be awake, to pay attention, moment by moment, because how we use our energy determines our life. If you give in to fear, and anger, and all of these defects, you are investing your own demonic qualities, negative qualities.
When religions talk about demons, devils, and source of negative beings, they all refer to all the negative elements we carry within. So, the word in Hebrew is שטן Shaitan, which is why we are saying. Shaitan means “adversary,” because in a moment of anger, we do not remember God. We speak harm. We think harm. That anger concentrates all our attention on what it wants. We feed that element. So, that type of emotion is really crazy, because it cannot produce any good. That type of emotion only wants to harm, create suffering for others. If we are observing, we find that in that element we are suffering very intensely. We are vibrating at a low level of being.
As stated by Prophet Muhammed: “The greatest among you is he who controls his anger.”
One thing I like to relate to when talking about this very controversial topic of holy war is a saying that was given after he was defending himself in a battle. He was fighting physically. Many people were trying to kill him and, in different religions, call them black magicians, sorcerers, devils, demons: people who were very intentionally seeking to develop and strengthen the conditioning of the psyche, who have certain abilities and powers through the ego, trough the self or “I.” So, there were many people who were trying to physically kill him. So, he was instructed: “Defend yourself, physically.” That is one meaning of Jihad, to strive against others, as a defense, to protect oneself.
Now, his Companions were speaking with him after one of these battles, I think it was Badr. And the Prophet told them: “Can you tell me what are the two forms of war?” And they said: “No. Please, instruct us.” One of them, he said, is war against others, to defend yourself, meaning from demons, black magicians, sorcerers, people trying to harm you. But there is a greater holy war, a greater striving. And they asked him, “Well, what is that?” And he said: ”War against your desires, against yourself.”
So, take upon yourself the remembrance of God, be awake, be here moment by moment. Pay attention, for that is a light for you, which bring us into the discussion of what remembrance is, awareness is.
Many people follow certain doctrines of religion, a belief system in which they pray, such as in Islam, five times a day or in Judaism they perform the Sabbath. Christians go to church. These are very mechanical ways of being, interpretations and beliefs that, by attending a group, by doing a certain mantra, by doing this or that, following certain strictures or code of conduct, one is going to be in worship. But really, as the Sufis teach, “The best act of worship is watchfulness of the moments,” the remembrance of divinity, to develop light.
As I mentioned to you, if you are at work or in a job and you face some criticism from one’s boss, we develop light and we are worshipping divinity when we are aware of ourselves or present, and that, we do not give in to those negative qualities, which are going to create problems economically or socially, or whatnot.
The best act of worship is watchfulness of the moments [to be aware, to have light, to be observing oneself. And to learn to act in operate ways]. That is, that the servant not look beyond his limit, not contemplate anything than his Lord [the Being, the presence of God], and not associate with anything other than this present moment. ―Al-Wasiti, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri
What does it mean to not look beyond one’s limit? It refers to very elevated levels of being, states of consciousness, in which your inner divinity enters in you and gives you certain consciousness and experiences, blessings, bliss, which do not come from you, but come from your being: the light, the divine, which is very well described in the schools of Sufism.
Unless one learns to receive the presence of divinity in oneself, and to not transgress its limit, and to do what one is ordered to do, by your own Being, your own inner divinity―so, one must contemplate nothing but one’s Lord―meaning: “Don’t think about other things when you’re doing something.” Do not get distracted. And do not associate with anything than the present moment.
As I mentioned to you, we tend to be distracted by many things. We associate with things other than divinity, such as the negative egos or qualities we have been discussing, defects. Islam, a tradition that has been greatly abused and misunderstood, practices tawhid: known as the doctrine of unity. If your familiar with that tradition, they say: “There is no god but God.” There is only one God. God is one. That light is one.
If we look in ourselves, we have many elements which are disparate, fractured, egotistical―all those elements we discussed: ego, fear, pride, gluttony. Those all are separate defects which have their own autonomy, which clashes and fight against one another. If we are observing ourselves, we can see this.
The doctrine of unity is the doctrine of taking the consciousness that is trapped in all these elements and uniting it with the Being, with the divine. That is the meaning of religion. Because the Latin religare means “to re-unite.” The same as the Sanskrit yoga, from the Sanskrit yuj [pronunced “yug”], “to unite.”
If we identify ourselves with our defects, we are practicing what is known as shirk, idolatry. Because when we give in to these elements, we are not remembering God. We are not remembering the divine. We are not remembering the Being.
So that is a form of idol worship. People think that idol worship has to do with worshipping a statue, which is why people in the Middle East make a big deal of others worshipping statues and they fought with them. That is not the meaning. The meaning is that anger, hatred, wrath, these are elements that are idols in the mind―stones, conditions which have trapped our consciousness and which we need to eliminate―to break those shells so that the light can perform unity, can unite, the consciousness can return to God. We give in to our defects when we are distracted, which tends to be our psychological state of day.
We associate with things other than God refers to the consequences of idolatry, to worship things not related with divinity, to be identified with those things, to be distracted. This path of meditation teaches one to unite all the parts of the soul, so that there is unity.
A very old scripture known as the Laws of Manu explains that by renouncing desire, one learns to achieve liberation, freedom of the soul. But by giving into desire, again this law of cause and effect, in action, we strengthen the cage as I have been explaining.
Through the attachment of his organs (to sensual pleasure) [such as the acts of lust] a man doubtlessly will incur guilt; but if he keep them under complete control, he will obtain success (in gaining all his aims). ―Laws of Manu 2:93
So, this is a very deep topic relating to how we use energy, especially the creative energy, which is known as the sexual energy itself, which certain traditions teach how to conserve that light, that energy, which is a form of fire, and to transform it. Through meditative discipline, one uses that energy to awaken consciousness. But by losing energy one depletes oneself of the very fire that can awaken the soul and develop it fully. The scripture also teaches:
Desire is never extinguished by the enjoyment of desired objects; it only grows stronger like a fire (fed) with clarified butter. ―Laws of Manu 2:94
In this culture we like to think that by expressing our anger, we somehow reach some type of nullification of desire, by giving into our desires, giving ourselves what we want, what we feel that we deserve, that we will find peace. But it is that active craving which is precisely the source of original suffering. So, by feeding those desires, those defects, one feeds and conditions oneself further―feeds the fires of passion, which makes one suffer.
Light and the Tree of Life
We have been talking about the nature of consciousness and how one must be mindful moment by moment, day by day. I also mentioned that one must learn to conserve energy. We have also talked about understanding different levels of energy, which are graded in different dimensions and aspects of consciousness, represented by a Jewish glyph known as the Tree of Life.
This image is a map of consciousness. It also refers to different levels of perception and different dimensions, which basically refers to who we are, here and now. So, this Tree of Life is a symbol in the book of Genesis of the complete human being.
These are different levels of matter, energy and consciousness. By learning to understand the different forms of energy in ourselves, we can learn to awaken consciousness. To learn to comprehend these energies in us, we can then use these energies in us for our spiritual development.
It is not possible to increase consciousness by exclusively physical or mechanical procedures. Undoubtedly, the consciousness can only awaken through conscious work and voluntary suffering. ―Samael Aun Weor, The Great Rebellion
So, this word, voluntary suffering creates a lot of tension in many people. But it refers to a type of effort in oneself, as I have been explaining, in which we willingly learn to take responsibility for actions, our mind stream, our conditioning. To work consciously refers to observing oneself, learning to become aware of what traps us, what makes us limited, what harms us, psychologically. Voluntary suffering means to make that effort, to go against oneself.
Obviously the term voluntary suffering is in oneself, when one realizes the causes of suffering in the psyche. Because it is a very painful experience to understand that we are responsible for our state of being, our way of being, our life. So, one voluntarily suffers by going against the desires of the self, by learning to awaken the consciousness free of conditions, to develop that light. That light is develop by working with energy, by empowering the consciousness through exercises, working with energy.
Within us there are various types of energy which we must understand.
So, our physical body has energy relating to the mechanics of our chemistry, our physiology, metabolism, catabolism, which intimately relates to vital energy, which in Hebrew is known as Yesod, meaning “Foundation.” Our work is the foundation of Yesod, working with that energy, the creative energies of God.
Third, the energy of the psyche; (In the third sephirah or sphere of this Tree of Life, we find the energy of the psyche known in Hebrew as Hod.)
It is important to analyze ourselves and to understand how these different forms of energy work. When we wake up in the morning, we have a certain limit or certain amount of mechanical energy, the ability to function in this body before needing to rest again. And so, finally we reach the end of our life and the body goes to the grave.
We also have vital energy which is essential. This vital energy animates the physical body. It gives it life. It is the creative energy, especially the sexual energy, which invigorates and is the source of our life, of our genesis. And so, this vital energy, as I explained, animates the body and when we physically go to sleep, this vital energy helps to regenerate the physical body when we rest, so that when we wake up in the morning, we are repleted so that we can function throughout the day.
The term astral projection refers to when the consciousness or the psyche leaves the physical body behind and the vital energies in order to enter the world of dreams, known as the world of Hod in Kabbalah, this Tree of life. We enter the dream world as a consciousness, as the physical body needs to rest and get recharged by the vital body, the vital energies.
Again, these bodies refer to different levels of matter and different dimensions, which exist here and now. They are within us, present.
As I said, this fourth sphere is the mind, the mental energy. And, it is easy to see all of this in ourselves, here and now, how all of these factors integrate our present. We have a physical body, which we are in now that we are aware of. We may be sensitive to certain amount of vital energy, being able to pay attention or to be awake, to be able to do certain physical activities. We also may be aware of our emotions, the energies of the psyche on this glyph. And likewise, we have thoughts, ideas, memories, conceptions, beliefs, concepts. That is the mind, mental energy.
In the mediation we practice, we are becoming aware of these elements. So, that is the lower aspect of ourselves, of who we fundamentally are, these four lower spheres.
Below that, you have what is known as the hell realms, which is the ego, the “I,” and the “myself,” the conditioning of the soul. Above that we have the higher levels of being. So, we are in Malkuth, with the possibility of ascending the vertical path, which is this Tree of Life, this diagram, which is not something vertical in space, but refers to qualities of being, as I have been explaining.
If we are observing ourselves and we really reflect on the nature of our mind, we may find that we discover something more subtle, which is known as the willpower. We know that certain people have a certain will, the ability to direct themselves with a lot of effort, a lot of strength. That is willpower, energy of will, volition. But willpower depends on something else above.
So, these spheres penetrate one another. They relate to one another and integrate in beings that are fully developed, spiritually, but in us these elements tend to be disorganized, distracted. We have this sphere of consciousness referring to the divine qualities of the soul and then the energies of the Spirit, which is our inner Being, our inner divinity.
These energies are important to see in oneself. We may sense our body. We have certain energies available vitally. Emotionally, we have certain moods. Mentally, we have certain thoughts. Beyond that is will, which is more subtle as I said, which has to do with the ability to pay attention, to direct oneself, to concentrate. If you want to see a litmus test of how much willpower you have when you sit for mediation, see how long you stay focused, not forgetting what you are doing.
When meditating on a scripture or a lecture, or an image, focusing on the breath, becoming aware of the breath, known as anapana in Sanskrit, you find that if you get distracted easily and cannot focus your attention on the purpose of the practice, it means that the willpower is not strong enough, needs to be developed.
Willpower is concentration: the ability to focus on one thing without distraction, and beyond that is consciousness, which is the ability to understand, to comprehend what one is meditating on, through insight, which emerges in the psyche like a spark, a flash, an intuition, an understanding. That understanding emanates from the Spirit, which is our inner divinity, our Being, which most people have no cognizance of, no experience with―but which we can interact face to face in the world of dreams, through the symbols of dreams.
Above that we have the Trinity, which is the Christian Father, Son, Holy Spirit, which is a trinity of forces, energies, states of consciousness which are very high, very developed. So, this does not refer to people. It refers to states of being.
Why study energy in relation to consciousness? Because we do need to work with these lower aspects of ourselves, to conserve those energies so that we can develop our consciousness, to have them in control. But strictly working with one form of energy or another does not develop the consciousness. We have to work with everything. That makes up who we are.
In different traditions, there are different practices that are given usually at the exclusion of developing the other types of consciousness. Some schools focus on the mind, developing book knowledge, study of the intellect through yoga or certain forms of yoga, not just physical calisthenics.
You also have monks who practice and work with the heart, who develop the emotions, who do a lot of prayer, usually at the exclusion of other aspects of the psyche like willpower, the mind, etc.
There are those who learn to work with willpower as well, who strive to control the physical body like fakirs. So, if you are familiar to fakirism, it refers to certain practitioners who learn to train the body so well―for instance, there is one man who raised his hand up and never put it down. He wanted to test his willpower, and lost all feeling in his arm and the nerves were dead. He wanted to show through his will that he could control his body, thinking that this is a path that is going to take him to divinity. But sadly that is very foolish, obviously. People who are educated know better.
So, exclusively developing the mind, the emotions or willpower cannot awaken the consciousness exclusively, the soul.
Samael Aun Weor states in The Great Rebellion:
No matter how much we might increase our strictly mechanical energy, we will never awaken consciousness. No matter how much we might increase the vital forces within our own organism, we will never awaken consciousness. ―Samael Aun Weor, The Great Rebellion
This refers to people specially in the West. They consume a lot coffee, try to have more energy, more vital force. Just having that vital force is not going to awaken the soul, develop the consciousness. Likewise, simply doing exercises of pranayama or energy work, mantras, sacred sounds, circulating energy―that by itself is not going to be enough, but there is more to it, to develop the light of consciousness.
Many psychological processes take place within us without any intervention from the consciousness. ―Samael Aun Weor, The Great Rebellion
Meaning, we have many emotions and moods, which fluctuate and change, and sustain and process themselves within us. But this does not mean that one is awake, one is conscious.
This is very easy to see if you really examine and observe yourself. In one moment of the day, you may have a certain mood, but in the next day you have a different one. So, these are fluctuations. There is no permanence there. But being conscious means to understand these elements, fully.
However great the disciplines of the mind might be, mental energy can never achieve the awakening of the diverse functions of the consciousness. ―Samael Aun Weor, The Great Rebellion
There are many people who think that by developing the intellect, they are developing self-knowledge, conscious knowledge. And people who develop the intellect too much, obviously get sick mentally, because they waste energy in the intellect. People who deplete mental energy become sick, mentally. They develop illnesses like schizophrenia, mental diseases.
Likewise, people who abuse the emotional energy like actors and actresses. They develop illnesses relating to the heart, depression, things like that.
There are people who abuse the energies of the vital force, Yesod and Malkuth, the physical body, like sport players and boxers. Usually, they deplete their energy so much that physically they are debilitated. They cannot walk.
So, you get to see that using these energies are important to conserve them, not to waste them. Because we do need these energies in harmony, to be balanced. But this quote is explaining that simply working with one of these elements alone is not going to awaken the soul, the light of divinity
Even if our willpower is multiplied infinitely [like the case of the fakir who had his hand raised for ten years, fifteen years, never put it down], it can never bring about the awakening of the consciousness. ―Samael Aun Weor, The Great Rebellion
Because having a lot of will is good, is admirable, but willpower needs to be directed. Because if you see in this graphic, our willpower, our concentration is one aspect of ourselves. It is at the very center of the Tree of Life, this graphic. It does emphasize the importance or the need of concentration. Because in meditation, if we are distracted for however long we sit to perform an exercise, it means our willpower is scattered. We need to unify our will, concentrate it, focus on one thing without thinking about it, without feeling anticipation, worry or anxiety over it. We should not be identified with the energies of the physicality, as well as the vital energies.
All these types of energy are graded into different levels and dimensions, which have nothing to do with the consciousness. ―Samael Aun Weor, The Great Rebellion
So, why talk about energy in relation to the light and perception? Because you do need energy to awaken, but in balance. As I said, simply developing the mind, the will, the heart is like going to the gym and only working on your right bicep, doing exercises. So, that your body becomes huge and the right side of your body becomes huge, but everything else is weak. This is how certain people develop themselves in the world, in relation to different traditions.
Consciousness can only be awakened through conscious work and upright efforts. ―Samael Aun Weor, The Great Rebellion
The consciousness is this sphere of Tree of Life known as Geburah, “Justice.” It is interesting that the word for Justice in Hebrew is related to this sphere of consciousness. Because how you act with awareness is how you obey the law of divinity, how you fulfill justice, meaning: to act with comprehension, with awareness of oneself―to respect the will of other beings; to be compassionate; to not give into one’s egotism so that one does not affect other human beings. That is a righteous person, a Tzadik in Hebrew, a just person: someone who knows how to act consciously for the benefit of others.
But of course, that involves directing the willpower towards any action, using the mind, the emotions, the vital forces of the physical body. Notice that this verticality represents gradations of energy, from more dense to more rarified, more subtle. What this represents is that the forces from above, from the divine, descend in a metaphorical sense, become more concrete in us. Obviously being in Malkuth, this physical body, which we tend to be very identified with very material things, but if we work with meditation, we begin to sense these different forces in us and how they work.
So, consciousness is above will. Consciousness, as I said, is the ability to understand, to comprehend anything that we meditate on, anything that we focus on. But of course, consciousness has to direct will. We have to be aware as a consciousness and whatever willpower you have to develop in concentration, you direct to anything that you want to understand.
These two factors are very important in meditation: consciousness and willpower. Or the ability to perceive and the ability to focus oneself. So, the consciousness only awakens through learning to direct attention. And by learning to direct attention, you learn to understand how these energies work. But if you just focus on energy, like many schools in these times discuss, it becomes very limited.
The Energy of the Divine Mother
We need to understand energy in our context. The most profound type of energy of divinity that we work with is known in Hinduism as the Divine Mother. So, different traditions teach that we have a divine masculine and a divine feminine aspect of consciousness, which exist within the profundities of our heart. Divinity is an energy, is a force which is not limited to any particular time, place or culture. But this is a universal force. And we work with the Divine Mother to work with that energy so that force can break the shells of the ego, of the “me,” of the “myself,” the “I.”
In meditation, we work very diligently with Her, with the divine feminine. Because without Her we cannot change. She is the origin of light, the origin of consciousness. She is the very power of the soul that can liberate us from suffering. She is known as Durga in Hinduism, Virgin Mary among the Christians. She is Athena, the warrior goddess who helps us to wage Jihad, striving against our defects. We work with it every day, and when we are in remembrance of God, we are remembering Her, Her presence, Her light, Her force.
In this myth that we have quoted here, we see that She is the most intense, primordial, pure and divine energy which manifests from the Divine Father, Brahma. So, She is energy that is above consciousness and spirit. She is Binah, the Holy Spirit, the feminine aspect of the Holy Ghost, which again is a term for the powers of the Divine Mother, the creative energies.
I would like to relate to you, in conclusion of this lecture, this beautiful myth that discusses what Durga is and why we must work with Her. She is the energy of the consciousness in its heights, in its most profound sense. She is the power of universal compassion of all the gods, of all the buddhas, the angels, the masters. She is universal and She is the intensity of the wrath of divinity that fights against the ego, which in this myth She was created in order to defend and fight against a demon who has the shape of a bull, an ox. So, this is a beautiful myth talking about the wars that the soul goes through, psychologically in relation to this work of the ego and our defects.
So, I will like to read this for you in its totality. I will precurse this by saying that what happened in this myth is that this demon was taking power from the gods, was stealing the power of the gods. And what happens is that the gods are powerless to defend themselves against this demon, which is gigantic, a reference to the ego, our defects, which have usurped the rightful place of the divine in us.
When Viṣṇu, the husband of Lakṣmī, and the great lord Ṡiva heard the speech of Brahmā [who basically told them and directed them to create Durga], their angry faces became so monstrous that one could not look upon them. From Viṣṇu’s mouth [referring to Christ, Chokmah in Kabbalah], that blazed with extreme anger, his great energy came forth, and similarly from Śambhuand from the Creator, and from the bodies of Indra and all the other gods the cruel energies came forth and they all became one. The great mass of their united energies seemed to all the multitudes of gods like a blazing mountain that pervaded all the regions of the sky with flames. Then from the combination of these energies a certain woman appeared: her head appeared from the energy of Ṡiva, her two arms from the energy of Viṣṇu, her two feet from the energy of Brahmā, and her waist from the energy of Indra; her hair was made from Yama’s energy [the lord of death], her two breasts from the moon’s energy [referring to Yesod, the creative force] her thighs from the energy of Varuṇa, her hips from the earth’s energy [Malkuth], her toes from the sun’s energy [referring to the Trinity on the top of the Tree of Life]; her fingers were formed by the energy of the Vasus, her nose of Kubera’s energy, her rows of teeth from the energy of the nine Prajāpatis [referring to the ninth sephirah of the Tree of Life above]; her two eyes arose from the energy of the Oblation-bearer; the two twilights became her two brows , and her ears were made from the energy of the wind; and from the incredibly fierce energies of the other gods other limbs were made for the woman who was the supremely radiant Durgā, more dangerous than all the gods and demons.” ―Hindu Myths
So, the Qur’an teaches that one should fear divinity more than any demon, any black magician, because that energy is very profound. It is the power of life and the power to kill, to annihilate desire, the ego. So, to develop light we must work upon our defects
Questions and Answers
Do you have any questions?
Question: In your own opinion, when dealing with our defects, I will just give an example of a behavior. Would you say that we don’t have to be around negative people, should we just not be around them? Or should it be something where we should test ourselves? You know you hear that often, well, it is like, you should be able to deal with anyone. I feel that peace and in control of my anger. Yet as I started to do this war, then I wanted to be around other people less because I just see, I guess I saw in myself, I still see in me negative things. I don’t need to be around them more, I can be around you guys instead.
Instructor: The thing is with that is your level of being attracts your life. So, when we learn to transmute the energies of sex, to be chaste, and to circulate the energies and work on the defects, you become more attracted to higher levels of being, which attracts different people―which is good. On the other hand, it may be an obligation for us, depends, to teach those who are in a lower level of being how to go higher, which, that’s a personal choice, and really the divine chooses if that initiate will do that.
But you teach others how to be better by example. But in other cases, there are people who are very negative, who are very destructive. And if you are around them, they infect you. You don’t have to choose that influence. It’s good to choose influences, bringing people who, or be with people who are going to raise your level of being, who appear to be more spiritual. But you may have the obligation to be with certain people who are going to be what they are going to be, and yet you must do it. That is known as karma.
We do have many choices too, whom we associate with, because, as Samael Aun Weor stated: “Negative emotions are more infectious than any disease, any microbe...” If you are with people who are very negative, that are going to infect you―why choose that? If you have a choice, do not choose it. But if you have to be with certain people because of work or whatever, then you have to transform the situation. But to avoid certain people doesn’t mean that we don’t love them, that we don’t have compassion for them. It means that, because they’re negative, we want to help them. And helping them can mean not associating.
So, I think Nietzsche wrote in his book Thus Spoke Zarathustra: “To some people you may not give your hand, only a paw, and I desire that your paw also have claws.” So, you got to learn how to negotiate with certain people, you know, how to work with them in a way that’s going to be beneficial. So, if you don’t want to infect your level of being, being with certain people who maybe drink, smoke, fornicate or whatever, you don’t have to be with them. You can avoid them. Personally, I don’t go and associate with people like that. I mean, I have certain coworkers that have tried to invite me to drink, but I don’t. You know, I avoid that. I know that type of influence is going to condition myself more.
Question: What about the concept of desiring not to desire?
Instructor: That’s a very subtle thing too. You know, because when we’re studying this type of knowledge, we develop many egos, senses of self, Gnostic egos that want to do the work. Certain beliefs and ideas, or certain senses of self and desire that covet not being covetous―that is a line that Samael Aun Weor gave.
You have to observe that and constantly analyze: “What’s going on in me, psychologically? What do I need to change? And how will I be sincere?” That is what develops light―if you look inside and do not assume one way or the other that you are in a certain way, but you look at it. That is why Samael Aun Weor dedicated a whole book, Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology, simply to self-observation. It is a very simple book, but deep, because the act of looking is the act of meditation: seeing oneself without analyzing with the intellect, without thinking―not using the energies of the mind, or the heart, or the body, but just perceiving.
That is how we become just people, learning to obey the divine law, the law of karma in a superior sense. But if you feel that you are going to waste certain energy being with certain people, you do not have to make that choice. In fact, many traditions, whether Christian, Sufi, Muslim, Jewish, would follow the monastic lifestyle, going to a mosque or to a certain place of refuge, in Buddhism, etc., to avoid other people like that. That is the basic meaning of it, to live a monastic life, to avoid a worldly life of materialism.
Comment: Being in this world, but not of it…
Instructor: That is another thing, because those people, monks would practice in secrecy, in silence, usually go on a retreat for years, without speaking, and meditating on themselves. But, it is good to do that.
Comment: St. Thomas Aquinas talked about that, how becoming silent would aid him.
Instructor: The basic training, the purpose of that was so that one could avoid negative influences and focus solely on the spiritual work. But another thing is many people want to leave the world and go to a retreat to avoid the negativities of others.
In a more profound level, there is a Sufi master by the name of Ibn ‘Arabi, who said, “The reason why I go on retreat is not to avoid negative people, but to help prevent myself from being negative towards other people.” Very different mindset―more focused on the internal work. And then, you finish retreat. You go home, and you are more energized.
So, in the retreats we do in this organization, we work with many exercises of energy to charge our batteries, so to speak. We also meditate and learn to direct that energy consciously in meditation. And so, many come home and learn to continue our work physically, so that we have more focus and we are more energized.
The purpose of this lecture was to talk about self-observation and working with energy especially. Because if we have no energy, you waste it through thinking, feeling, impulses, and acting in wrong ways, you cannot develop light, consciousness in a full sense.
Question: Is it not true that this is also consistent with contemporary neuroscience? In other words, if images are taken of the brain, people with spiritual development will catch fire in certain parts of their brain as opposed to other persons who are “not there”?
Instructor: So, that is a good question because the thing is in this work of creative energy, working with the foundation of the Kabbalah, Yesod, your brain changes, physically. Your brain chemistry changes. Because you’re using the very energy of life, that can create a child, to rejuvenate the mind, the brain. Physically your brain, as Samael Aun Weor said, becomes seminized, and your semen becomes cerebrized.
We’ve talked many times about the relationship between sex and the brain. People who deplete their sexual energy have no force to rejuvenate the mind. They cannot concentrate. They cannot sit still in meditation. They are constantly distracted because they’re indulging in craving.
Now, figures like Beethoven, Mozart, Chopin, Lizst, many composers and artists who were initiates were able to create the works that they did because their physical brain was highly active. As a scientist said, we use a small fraction of our brain now. If you do this work, you learn to use your whole brain, physically. You are charging your physical matter with the energies of Yesod. And that helps to channel the light of consciousness more directly, so that you have more power.
People who abuse the sexual energy, like I said, their brains become depleted. They physically get sick. They develop illnesses like schizophrenia, like I said. Likewise, the heart. If there is no energy in the heart, one gets sick emotionally. If one is physically abusing the energies related to instinct, willpower, you get sick in your physical body, many conditions. When you are working in this path, you’re finding balance in all of our energy, so that your light is more profound, with more equanimity. And that helps through your meditation, right? Because again, no energy, no light, no force.
And so, concentration is more profound, more focused with application. So, I mentioned that quote from the Master Samael, who talks about different levels of energy. He is saying more exclusively that none of that really matters if you are not directing your attention day by day. Every day, you stay home, you meditate on the mind, you develop concentration and then you really meditate on the ego, on the “I,” the self.
Retrospect your day. Review it in your imagination: what you said, what you did, what you thought, what you felt, how you acted. Remember everything that you went through in the day and you observed. Then, focus on one scene in what you saw certain egos emerge, certain defects. Concentrate and ask your Divine Mother to help you understand those elements and work maybe five, ten minutes or however much you need on each defect. Or say, work on three or four or whatever you saw. And then ask for comprehension. Ask your Divine Mother: “Help me to understand these demons I created so that I can be free of them, so I can be purified of them.”
Question: So, are you bringing, imagining, that scenario up? Because when I meditate, I empty the mind. So, you’re bringing, imagining the scenario up from the beginning and then all of a sudden, just allow your higher self, or the Divine Mother, to come in? I am kind of confused. Are you supposed to focus on that? So, let’s say there was a scenario where I saw anger. Am I focusing on that scenario throughout the entire meditation? Or am I eventually just clearing my mind?
Instructor: Good question. So, the procedure is, in the beginning, clear your mind. This is known by the eight limbs of Ashtanga Yoga, meaning the eight steps of meditation, which if you go on the website you’ll see a course on Gnostic Meditation that we gave, which I’m going to sum up here.
So, the first two stages of meditation are Yama and Niyama. Yama means to “restrain, to yoke” the mind. In the beginning, act ethically. Do not feed anger. Do not feed lust. Do not feed your defects, because if you do, you waste your energy―the energy you can use to meditate and silence the mind. Niyama means “precepts,” referring to codes of conduct and virtues that you follow: compassion, kindness, mercy, which you enact in your daily life, in your own interactions with all human beings, other people.
After that, you can develop Asana, which is posture. Because if your mind is still and quiet and you are saving your energy, you are able to relax more profoundly. But if you give in to violence and hatred and anger, that agitates the mind so much that psychologically, and physically, you are tense. That is why every religion teaches: “Be moral, be ethical. Analyze your level of being: how you behave in certain circumstances with certain people. What are your secret motives? And when you understand and see that in yourself, refrain from acting in that way, behaving in that way.”
First physically. Restrain the tongue. Do not say those things. And then, the real battle begins, the real work begins when you are analyzing the internal tongue. The mind comments on everything that you are doing when you’re talking to your coworker or friend. For example: in my job I have some professional development meetings and they’re talking, teaching many valuable things, but I’m finding my mind, even though I meditate, my mind is talking, talking, talking… Making comments or saying, “I would have said that better.” Really stupid thoughts.
But real silence is not by physically closing your mouth and not speaking, but psychologically. What is the internal chatter that we go through? The commentary of that director in our head that is labeling everything that everyone in us is doing, nonstop. So, the way that you stop it is not by repressing it or by giving into it, but looking at it. That is the beginning of inner peace. Look at what your mind is doing. Just see it. Do not judge. And then you find that, like an old, managed classroom, the kids will start showing their true selves. They act up, but you look at them, as a kind of superficial example. But you get data about yourself by observing them. And that active observation begins to raise your level of being, precisely when you restrain the mind from acting negatively.
So physically, one thing. Do not act on that negative emotion. But mentally, you must understand the qualities that are cursing and swearing and whatnot, in the head, when certain circumstances arise. When you learn to train your physical actions, your body that way, then you learn to relax mentally, emotionally. That is why you can sit to practice, with your first step, with your asana, your posture.
As I said, if you’re identified all day, wasting energy, the body will be agitated. You want to scratch it. You want to move. When you practice, your asana should be so firm that you do not move. Do not move your body. When your asana, which if you really stick to one prior practice―maybe Western style, and full lotus, half lotus on the floor, how you want to practice―pick a posture that is going to be conducive to your practice. Meaning: you can maintain drowsiness, be relaxed, profoundly, and still allow yourself to be attentive to what you’re doing. Do not fall asleep, basically.
Personally, sometimes I lay on my bed when I want to fall asleep. Doing a mantra is good. But when you are practicing, it is good to sit upright in a way that your body is going to be relaxed and you can stay focused on what you’re doing. So, that’s asana.
When your body is fully silenced and relaxed, you’re not moving your muscles, not scratching , and not being agitated, you start to develop what is known as pratyahara.
Pratyahara means suspension of the senses. So, when your body is still and you are not focusing on your physicality―you do not move it all―you start to withdraw your attention from the exterior world, focusing on your interior world. You suspend your senses. You may experience thought, feeling, sensations of the body, but the characteristic of pratyahara is that you are not identified with them. You do not get carried away lost in that current. You may be thinking, feeling, etc., but you are just aware, going within yourself, relaxed.
Swami Sivananda wrote that pratyahara is the crux of meditation. And in one lecture from Glorian Publishing, Gnostic Radio, mentioned that pratyahara is like a lever. It allows the other steps to come into a play. If your senses are suspended, you are retracted like a tortoise in its shell. You do not focus on anything else. You relax. That is why we need to become silent. And that is the beginning of meditation really, suspending the senses. Everything else is preliminary.
When your senses are suspended, relaxed, you are looking within. That is when you can learn to concentrate on one thing. That’s dharana, the sixth step. Concentration is the ability to focus on one thing without forgetting what you are doing, without getting distracted.
So, in the beginning of the discipline, I suggest sit somewhere comfortably, do a mantra, relax your body, your mind, work with energy, circulate the creative forces like trough pranayama or mantra. Do it for however long you need until you feel relaxed. And when you are physically still and then you learn to introspect, the senses become suspended, they become calm. The mind is serene because the energies are circulating in you, and also the mind becomes more quiet. When the mind is quiet, really, not distracted by anything, focus your attention on remembering your day.
Do that every day when you’re relaxing yourself, self-observing. When you go home, focus on some energy work, with the mantras or pranayama, so that energy naturally stills the mind. Then, concentrate on your day. Remember what happened. Retrospect your day. Imagine it. Because now that you have those energies circulating, your imagination becomes much more robust. You can see things more clearly.
If you deplete your sexual energy, you cannot perceive things clearly. You will activate negative imagination known as fantasy. You are just identified with memories and daydreams. But conscious imagination is the ability to perceive something as it was, as it is. That is the consciousness. So, when you are concentrating and remembering your day, simply recall them like you’re remembering anything. You just try to reflect on what you did, what you said, what you thought, what you felt. And imagine it. Imagine the scenes.
What are the egos that you saw? And then, we take a scene, imagine it, concentrate on your Being. Ask your Being, your Divine Mother to show you what you need to understand about a certain ego you saw. And then, wait, observe.
You have to wait for the answer. You look, observe it. Your mind is serene and calm and then, when you are not thinking of anything or expecting anything, slowly the insight comes. It may come as an experience. You may physically leave your body. I have had this happen where I was meditating, I physically fell asleep, because my pranayama as well as pratyahara silenced the mind profoundly enough, I concentrated on my practice and I left my body physically. Then you can receive experiences about the defect that you are studying, so you can comprehend where it came from, how you made it, what is doing to you.
But it may be more mundane than that. Actually, I would say more commonplace, when you’re sitting to practice and suddenly, you understand. “I know how that ego works, that anger.” You understand its root. And that gives you a sense of liberation, and that joy that you are not that ego, and you understood it. You feel liberation. You extract your consciousness from that element and you see yourself as you are.
Then you must ask your Divine Mother, “please kill this ego. I don’t want to have it in me anymore.” And it may take a few days of doing that, or weeks, or months, or years. But you see that through work, through your self-observation, those egos get smaller. They become like a child, and then finally your Divine Mother decapitates it and then you’re free from them.
When you free yourself from an ego, you feel real joy. Really, there is no greater feeling than that. So, people want to have astral experiences. They say: “I want to talk to Master Samael. I want to do this and this. I want to have jinn experiences!” When I hear them talk, I tell them “No. Well, it’s good. It’s good for the soul to have that experiences, to feel inspired.” But they only give you that inspiration so that you go home and say, “I had a vacation. Now I have to get to work.” Because they are showing you what life is like beyond that ego.
Comment: You feel like a child again…
Instructor: You feel innocent, and you feel that peace. They are showing you: “Ok, now that you had a jinn experience, now that you had a Samadhi, now you have to go back into your prison, your cell. You need to study. You need to work.” That is the reason they give you experiences.
But many people in this tradition get stuck in wanting to have experiences. They say: “I’ve been studying for twenty years and I want to have an astral travel.” I have heard people who even teach this doctrine. They write to me. They write to us on the website, saying: “I’m a missionary from Gnosis and I’ve been studying for twenty years. I’ve been teaching for fifteen years and I haven’t had an astral experience.”
And I say: “Well, what is your practice?”
They say: “Well, I try silencing my mind, but my mind wanders.”
Well, that is the problem. The beginning is to follow the initial steps of meditation. Silence the mind, work with energy, self-observe. But you must work on the ego. Because if you do not kill the ego, break those shells, you cannot extract light. You cannot have light. So, if you want to have illumination, you have to work on the darkness.
When you are working with the preliminary steps, you have pratyahara, you’re developing concentration, that is when you learn to meditate, which is the next step. So, with dharana, you have concentration.
Now I skipped a step. I said: after yama, niyama, asana, what comes next is pranayama. So, I did say, I mentioned to you: “Work with energy, pranayama. Work with the vital force.” That is essential. That is how you suspend your senses: that’s pratyahara. Next, your mind is still because you are working with the prana, the vital force.
Then, dharana: you are able to concentrate. And where your concentration is profound, you understand things in a new way. You receive insight. That’s dhyana, meditation. And then, when you are fully absorbed in the object of meditation, you have an experience, samadhi. You leave your body. You astral travel. You do whatever.
Samadhi is simply the consciousness free of the conditioning. When you extract the light, like the genie from the bottle, and then you have the ability to do what your Being wants you to do: jinn experiences or whatnot.
But the thing is that when students or missionaries write to me and they say: “Hey, I’ll be honest with you,” they say. They are lost, disillusioned, in despair, and it’s sad. “I’ve been studying this a long time but I’m not seeing any results.”
“Are you working on your ego?”
Well, that’s the thing. You kill the ego, you receive illumination. If you do not work on the ego, you just remain in darkness.
Question: Isn’t that also that you’re not supposed to have expectations?
Instructor: Yeah. And people get stuck on the idea of “I want to put my physical body in the jinn state.” It is beautiful to have that experience in the fourth dimension or the fifth dimension or whatever, with your physical body. Or to go to the Absolute. You talk face to face to your Being or your unite with Ain Soph, your light. Personally, I have had those experiences. But I came back to my bed and I woke up.
There is not a day that I don’t have those experiences. The other reason that I think about them now is they inspire me to keep moving and doing the work that has to be done. They showed me, they gave me vacations, and said: “Ok, your dharma is up. Come back. Teach other people how to do it.” Sometimes, it is months, a long time. No experiences. It happens like that.
But the solution is, you develop light of consciousness by comprehending your defects and eliminating them. And then gradually, you start developing more light, and light and light… And you start having experiences again. Usually in the beginning they have like a probationary period.
The divine says, “OK, he’s transmuting. She’s transmuting, is doing his work.” The Being says, “I want My child to work again or to work in this path. Let us give him or her an experience, because he’s meditating, to inspire him.” And then you have the experience. Afterward the real work begins. So, you develop light by comprehending the ego. You kill the ego, then you receive illumination.
Question: What do you mean by having an experience? When you receive an experience where you receive situations? Where you’re put to test.
Instructor: I mean a mystical experience: to have a samadhi. But I have people write to me. It is sad, because these are people who are teaching but still. If we do not work effectively, we will not get the results. But if you work every day on the ego, you do have more and more light. But there are periods where there is darkness, because that is your karma. I mean karma because, you betrayed the light, in your own way. They say: “No, don’t give him light yet. Let him suffer in the darkness for a while, so that he really wants to change.”
If you are persistent like Beethoven was, you go from the Moonlight Sonata to the Ninth Symphony. That sonata is about the path of the moon. That is sort of being in the darkness. The melody makes me think about “Eli, Eli, Lama Sabachthani.” Jesus said: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” But divinity doesn’t leave us. But if we portray the Lord, what can He do?
Any other questions?
Question: Just one more question. As far as meditation goes, when you practice pranayama, how long should I hold my breath?
Instructor: As long can you feel you can hold it comfortably without forcing your lungs. You can begin the pranayama. First, pray. Ask your Being to help you circulate the energies and to help you be serene. You can close your nostrils, one or the other with your fourth finger. Your left nostril closed, your right nostril inhales the air. Imagine the energies rising from the opposite gonad, because the left nostril relates to the right gonad, right nostril with the left gonad, with your ovaries or testicles.
Inhale the air, imagining the energy rising within your mind, towards your head. Close your nostrils and retain the breath as long as you can, without forcing it. You want to imagine the energy saturating the brain.
Exhale in the other nostril and imagine that light descending from your third eye, your brain, to your heart. Do the same process with the other nostril. Imagine the other circuit of energy, rising up to the brain. Hold it while it saturates the mind like a light, fire. Exhale, send it to the heart.
That breathing through both nostrils in that way constitutes one pranayama.
Some pranayamas are specified up to seven, but can do as many as you want, until you feel energized. But you should not practice pranayama to the point that you feel strained.
Swami Sivananda said that when you feel light, energized and relaxed, very happy and peaceful, you can stop. Do for as long as you need. But pranayama should not be forced, meaning: do not strain the breath. If your nostrils are blocked, I know some people who use a seti pot, an Indian device, which pours water into your nostrils to clear it out. That is a kind of a hard way to do it, but if you want to practice pranayama in that way, you can clear the nostrils that way. And don’t force the breath. But relax. The whole process should be peaceful.
[Editor’s Note: to learn more, read and practice Pranayama and Sexual Transmutation]
Meditation is a precise science. It is a means of knowing our own capacities for consciousness, our ability to perceive. And this specific science of meditation teaches us how to expand consciousness, and how to develop it. Importantly, in this process we have to comprehend and understand the conditions of our psyche.
It is very easy to see that our physical body is composed of elements; many factors and many influences act upon the body in order for it to be. The body needs its nutrition, its sustenance, its food, its water. Likewise, the consciousness needs a type of nourishment, a type of sustenance, and that food of the soul (we can say) is the capacity to perceive, to comprehend; to comprehend psychologically the factors of discord within our consciousness: what in us is afflicted with anger, with fear, with negativity.
What are those elements that condition our perception and make us very limited people? For in a moment of rage we speak harmful words, we suffer ourselves, and we make others suffer. In those moments we only perceive through anger. We don't see that anger is a blind emotion. We may rationalize later on that we were behaving in a destructive way, but in the precise moment of that emergence or that emotion, we perceive as that emotion, as that condition.
All religions, all traditions, teach the science of how to awaken consciousness and, precisely, by becoming aware of what conditions us, what blocks us from experiencing our true nature, which is a state of contentment, of genuine peace, of our love that is so profound that it radiates towards all beings without distinction, and forgives all beings for their faults without distinction, without warrant, without expecting anything in return.
Our soul needs to be fed, our consciousness needs to develop, but we know that through observation of facts that the mind is conditioned and shelled within elements of fear, and laziness, and pride, or what religions call defects. This is what a meditator precisely learns to confront in him or herself, so as to break those shells, because within anger is our consciousness, within fear is our consciousness―within anger, within hate, within lust. All those shells trap really the essence of who we are, but in a negative way.
So, meditation will teach us to comprehend those elements we created in the past. We are responsible for our own emotions, our own mind, how we act. And this is why different traditions, whenever they teach meditation, always emphasize in the very beginning levels of practice―be a good person, be kind, be generous, be observant of your faults. So, that by observing them and comprehending them, we can eliminate them. And by breaking those conditions of mind we expand consciousness, we awaken consciousness. And, therefore, we can experience all the bliss that many prophets, masters, buddhas, angels taught in the different religions and scriptures, which is the beauty and glories of heaven, which is not just a place, but is a psychological state of being, a way of being.
In this lecture we are going to talk about some principles taught within Buddhism and how to understand the mind, what is mind, what is awareness, what is consciousness. We are also going to compare that with a very beautiful glyph, known as the Tree of Life in Judaism. Because we understand in our tradition that Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Sufism―all share the same root, and that root is the capacity to perceive. So, all the different angels, and masters, and prophets gave their teaching in accordance with their language, the culture of the people they taught, their own level of being, their own capacity to transmit light. But that knowledge is the same; it is universal. Some people would call that Gnosis (the Greek term for knowledge), some people would call that Marifah in Arabic, and in Hebrew: Daath, meaning knowledge, what we know of ourselves and how to change, so that we can irradiate that light for all of humanity.
This wisdom teaches us how to understand the causes of our suffering. And I would like to relate to you a beautiful teaching given by a Buddhist Master―his name was Padmasambhava. His fame in Buddhism cannot be exaggerated. He is considered the second Buddha.
His scripture for what he most well-known is called The Tibetan Book of the Dead. It is a scripture that is read to monks and practitioners on meditation retreat, because its efficacy and force, and expansiveness is very penetrative. It teaches us how to be mindful, so that we can understand ourselves and expand awareness, awaken consciousness. So, it is called The Tibetan Book of the Dead, because it teaches about how to awaken consciousness physically, but also in the dream state, as well as during meditation and after death.
We can say that if we examine our state of sleep (the eight hours we go to bed and when we wake up in the morning)―that is a barometer for how conscious we will be when we die. So, if we spend eight hours of sleep and there is darkness, it means that we will not have light, when we die. Which is why many Christian monks, Buddhists, Sufis would train themselves day by day in meditation, so that they can awaken light. So that when they would go to their death, they would be awakened and prepared; they would be conscious, and speaking face to face with the different angels, Buddhas, gods, divinities (which are really one divinity), in a very direct, clear and tangible manner, known as visions or awakened experiences in dreams.
So, this is a very valuable scripture. I would like to read a few excerpts from this, as we talk about the nature of awareness, of consciousness:
The Importance of the Introduction to Awareness
(The Bhavachakra or "Wheel of Becoming," sometimes referred to as the Wheel of Samsara, depicts the cyclical nature of suffering within different realms of existence. The six sections of this wheel show repetitious psychological states in which our soul or consciousness is trapped. Liberation occurs when we recognize our own true nature through the path of meditation).
The word samsara means cycling, churning, turning, repetition.
This is a perfect description of our habits. We have certain tendencies that are ingrained in us like stone―good or bad. We indulge in certain behaviors consistently and which become much deepened and strengthened in us the more we feed it. This is a beautiful teaching relating to idolatry within the Abrahamic traditions. People think that idolatry is people who worship statues, but really an idol is anger, is resentment, is gluttony―habits that are ingrained in us that have become petrified in our psyche, in which we constantly worship instead of worshiping the beauty of the consciousness, which is the unification of our soul with the divine.
So cyclical existence is precisely this repetition of bad habits. Nirvana means cessation, to cease suffering, to break those shells, so that the soul is in perfect equanimity.
Even though its radiance and awareness have never been interrupted,
Now we know from many religions that there are many practices and teachings about how to unite with the divine, whether from Buddhism, Judaism, etc.
Yet, despite this diversity, not even one of these teachings has been given by these Conquerors,
The Tree of Life: Levels of Consciousness
So we will talk about the nature of consciousness in relation to the Kabbalah. Jewish mysticism is the foundation of Christianity, and in our center we study all religions unanimously, integrally, with the purpose of explaining how to awaken our perception in its full capacity.
In the Western tradition the Tree of Life is the foundation of all Western Yoga, of all union. The word "yoga" in Sanskrit means "to reunite,” the same as the Latin "religare,” religion, to reunite. This is a map of our consciousness, of who we are here and now. It also refers to levels of nature that are more subtle, that we don't perceive yet in our present condition. And the Tree of Life is an interesting glyph we can use it to study any religion, any faith, any pantheon of gods, deities, etc.
We see at the top, we have the trinity of Christianity. In fact, we see three trinities in this glyph, a top trinity, middle trinity and then lower trinity. What Christians call Father, Son, Holy Spirit, in Hebrew are known as Kether, Chokmah and Binah. These are not persons―instead, we teach that they are forces, energies, which are very subtle, a form of light. It is a form of consciousness that is so divine, and pure, and universal that it is only manifested in beings that have purified themselves. Jesus is a manifestation of this light, so is Krishna, Moses. Many other masters have incarnated this divine trinity above, which are three forces, but one light. They are three, but one. They express as three, but they are one unity.
Above in this Tree of Life we have the most elevated aspect of consciousness. And below we have the most dense levels of consciousness. We are here in Malkuth, which is the Hebrew word for Kingdom; it is our physical body. Our body is a kingdom, which has all these forces and elements that are in a potential state, which we can learn through practice to actualize. And that energy in those forces in our body helps to elevate our body, our consciousness of this Tree of Life. And if you remember our practice we began with this lecture―we were studying the nature of ourselves, studying the nature of our awareness in our present condition. In our practice we were examining our body; we became aware of our body.
Malkuth, our Kingdom, is our physical body. In our practice we become mindful of the energies of our physical vehicle as well. This is known as Yesod in the Hebraic Kabbalah. Yesod means foundation. So, our vital energies, which give us life, is our foundation in life. How we use our energy depends on our actions, our mind, our heart, and our will, our behaviors.
So, therefore, how we use this energy, determines our spiritual life. This is why it is called Yesod. And the mystical science that teaches one to use this energy in a conscious way is hidden within the Hebrew word יסוד Yesod and the word סודי Sodi. The same Hebrew letters, but switched around. סודי Sodi means secret. This is known as the teachings of alchemy, as well as the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.
Our emotions we also examined in our meditation, relating to this left pillar on the Tree of Life. This sphere is called Hod, which means Splendor. Hod is our emotions, which can shine with the splendor of the divine or be filled with rage. So, this is our center relating to our heart, our emotional states.
Our mind we also examined in our practice. We meditated on our thoughts. Notice that the higher we ascend this Tree of Life, the more subtle things become. The body is very dense, easy to observe. Energy becomes more subtle to observe that, to be aware of that. Emotions are much more dynamic. They are powerful. Our mood can shape our entire day, when we wake up in the morning throughout the entire week, month, etc.
And our thoughts, which fluctuate like the wind. When we sit to meditate, we observe ourselves. You see that memories, ideas, associative thinking, churns within our psyche―these relate to Netzach, which means Victory, because when you conquer your own mind, you become victorious. A being known as a buddha, a master, an awakened one.
And then we also talked about and reflected upon our willpower, our motives, what brought us to attend a center of this nature, or our motives to associate with certain co-workers, or friends, or pursue a certain type of occupation. That relates to will, which is Tiphereth. Tiphereth in Hebrew means Beauty. Really, when we are in willpower, it is in a state of purity, equanimity. When a heart shines with the resplendence of the divine, when our mind is calm and our will knows how to follow our inner divinity, we are filled with beauty, as the beauty in the soul. Right action is the most beautiful thing, we could say. When we act in a way that is truly beneficial for another human being, we are performing acts of beauty. That is Tiphereth.
Above we have more rare levels of consciousness. On the left we have Geburah, which means Justice. And I concluded the practice by having us being aware of ourselves as observers. Geburah is our consciousness, the ability to perceive, which of course is very very rarified, very refined and very hard to perceive. But we know that we have this spiritual dynamic in ourselves when we feel a sense of conscience for having committed a wrong deed. We know we said something wrong, we spoke in a wrong manner, our conscience bites at us, it gnaws at us, it pushes us. So Geburah is that conscience or consciousness. But of course, we tend to ignore our conscience in many cases and meditation teaches us how to feed that conscience, how to awaken that capacity. Meditation is the ability to control Netzach (the mind), Hod (the emotions), Yesod (our energies) and Malkuth (our physical body), so that it serves our divine consciousness and spirit above, which is represented by Chesed, our Spirit.
When people talk about being spiritual in a real deep sense, we could say that to be spiritual is to have that spirit inside, which is God. God is spirit. When someone is spiritual, it means they have incarnated God in a real objective sense, in a very esoteric sense, we can say.
And above the spirit is our light, which the Gnostics or the Christians call Christ, which is the most divine force within all of the nature and the cosmos. We find these three forces (Kether, Chokmah, Binah) within the atom. The Father, Kether, is the positive force, the proton. Chokmah (the Christ) is the negative force, the electron. So, we have a proton and an electron, which are bonded together or held in unity, through the force of the neutron, which is the neutral force, the Holy Spirit. So, these are terms that Christians use, but in the deepest sense refer to forces in ourselves, forces in nature, which we learn in meditation how to use, so that we become a perfected Tree of Life.
And this Tree of Life is represented by the Christmas tree. In the holidays we decorate a pine tree and that tree is the symbol of this image in its most ancient roots. All those lights are all the sparks of consciousness we develop when we learn to harness the power of our body through good will, as well as our vital forces (Yesod), our emotions (Hod), our mind (Netzach). It is easy to see that when we meditate or observe within ourselves or after we have a very difficult day at work, that we have many elements that are negative―desires, habits, which again condition us.
We must learn with our will, as a human soul, this sphere known as Tiphereth. Our willpower must learn to control mind, heart, vitality in our physical body.
This is a very beautiful image that teaches us a lot. And this is just an introduction, because through our courses and lectures we explain all the dynamics of this Tree of Life in ourselves. In a very Buddhist sense, we can see the interdependent nature of all things represented here. The Buddhists speak about interdependence, how nothing is stable in nature; nothing is unitary. Everything depends on something else within this phenomenological universe.
Our mind, our thoughts depend on other factors: maybe external influences, external situations provoke certain thoughts. Likewise, our emotions and how we use our energy is dependent on what we eat, what we nourish ourselves with. Our body depends on how we take care of it.
This Tree of Life is not something separate. All these spheres relate to each other, what we call in Hebrew Sephiroth; it means emanations. These are all the lights of the Christmas tree, which we must purify within ourselves, so that we can really celebrate the birth of Lord within us and Nativity of the Lord.
The Three Levels of Meditative Instruction
All religions teach that there are levels of instruction. The Tree of Life is a glyph that teaches us the most advanced aspects of our psyche, but I am just introducing this to you, so that you can see some of the depth and expansiveness of what awareness is. Because awareness is not just a physical body, but all the Sephiroth, all those spheres that really constitute in who we are. Religion teaches in any tradition certain parameters of how to practice so that we can develop that awareness fully. We have introductory levels, we have intermediate levels, and we have advanced levels.
In Buddhism, the introductory level of that tradition was known as the Sutrayana or is known as Sutrayana. It is the public teaching. As in Judaism we say: "Thou shall not kill, shall not steal, shall not lie, fornicate, adulterate.” These are not dictates from some anthropomorphic god, who wants to make humanity suffer by following these rules: "Do this or you get certain consequences.” It is not a mean of punishment. It is something psychological. Because when we observe our mind, we can see that we have many elements that enjoy hatred or bloodshed, not physically. We may speak with sarcasm to someone and the blood rushes to their face. Therefore, we are shedding blood, we are committing violence in the mind by humiliating another person. That is the meaning of "Thou shall not kill.” Physically―yes, it is a very serious crime to commit that. But psychologically we have many habits and behaviors towards our loved ones, in which we humiliate others.
Likewise with stealing. Sometimes we steal ideas, besides stealing physical things―it is another thing. So, there are levels of teaching in these public explanations of how to control the consciousness. So, there is a code of ethics, we can say, that teach the soul how to look within and to understand all the conditions that we created, all the elements of desire: our defects. So that by training them our mind becomes stable. The mind and heart is filled with consciousness, light, and we develop our awareness. First, by curtailing negative action, which occurs in our mind, our heart, and our body. This is a very public level; this is the beginning of any spiritual tradition.
You also have an intermediate level, known as a Mahayana. Sutrayana relates to the Sutras, the basic public instructions of how to develop consciousness. The Mahayana means Greater Vehicle: Yana means vehicle; Maha means great. It is a level of teaching in which we are practicing not for our own benefit, but for others. We practice not only to eliminate our own states of anger, but so that our anger doesn't affect other people. That is a really compassionate state. We work for the benefit of others.
This is someone like Jesus and as Gospels taught: "Father, forgive them, for they don't know what they do.”
We don't work on ourselves just for ourselves, but for them, for others. It is marked by its development of compassion, which takes a level of understanding. When we see our mind and that we have created conditions through our consciousness that obstruct our awareness, we see that other people are at that level too, that we share the same defects. We are cut from the same scissors. So, we have no need to judge anybody. Therefore, we should learn to judge ourselves. This is the mesoteric level of teaching―the middle ground.
But there is an advanced teaching, which in Buddhism is called Tantrayana. The scripture that I read at the opening of this lecture, The Tibetan Book of the Dead, is a tantric book. It teaches very advanced concepts, which I want to introduce to you too, so that you can see some of the possibilities and expansiveness of this teaching. Tantrayana means the vehicle of tantrism. Tantra means continuum. The continuum and flow of consciousness to the work of controlling energy. Energy is in the psyche, in the body, etc. So Tantrayana teaches how to awaken consciousness in a very expedient way, in a very quick way.
In the beginning one learns a certain ethical discipline by learning to control the mind and to adopt good behavior, not from a moral standpoint, but from a conscious perspective that certain habits and behaviors produce suffering―not only for ourselves, but for others.
In the intermediate state we work for other people―the Mahayana tradition. We understand that our behaviors and conditions of mind not only create suffering for us, but for others, and therefore we work for other human beings.
And in the tantric aspect there is no sense of self. There is only the benefit for the other. And this is really the core teaching of Jesus, of Buddha, who gave their life completely out of compassion. And if you go back to the Tree of Life, we see that highest level of compassion is related to this top trinity, which is the crown of glory, the wisdom of the divine and the intelligence or understanding of divinity, which is a perception that penetrates so deeply in to all phenomena that there is no confusion, there is no illusion. It is a way of knowing, of being that is devoid of I, of me, myself. It is universal.
The Three Trainings
So, we study meditation―we study three trainings. The beginning is ethics, known as Sila. This is the foundational path, in which we work to understand ourselves. We do this through the practice of self-observation. We need to become aware of our mind, our body, our heart, our energies, our will. Everything that surges within our understanding, our experience―we have to learn to perceive, to become aware. What feeds our awareness is learning to behave from that state of consciousness, that state of purity, which is divine love, which is mercy, compassion. Those are natural states of our consciousness. Elements like fear and resentment, those are conditions we created out of mistakes, the wrong use of our energies. But we have the power to rectify that. Which is what all prophets teach and the way they do so is through ethics. This is not a moral code or system to adopt and believe in, but it is something to practice daily. When we see what exactly in us is causing conflict in a certain situation and then we look within and learn to change and comprehend those sources of suffering in ourselves. So that with the grace of divinity we can be purified.
There is this training of ecstasy that comes next, known as Samadhi. Many meditative traditions teach that when one learns to meditate, they have experiences―which is very true. Awakening in dreams, speaking face to face with the angels, with the divinities, with God, our own inner Being―this is a state of awareness and consciousness that is free from the physical conditions of the body, and has entrance into to world of dreams, which relates to the world of Hod (as we discussed previously). This image on the left―the bottom left pillar.
Sometimes we can also say the world on the right―Netzach (the mind) is also the world of dreams. They both relate. Usually we go into those worlds without awareness of what we are doing, where we are at, what we are thinking, what we are dreaming. Usually we wake up and we remember certain threads of experiences in those states, but we don't have much cognizance. That is an indication of where we are at in our meditative practice, because one who awakens in meditation, who trains him or herself in meditation, is awake in dreams, in that dream world. And, therefore, that is a type of Samadhi, it is an ecstasy of the soul, in which you are receiving knowledge in a direct way from the truth, and therefore you don't need to believe in anything, because you know directly from the divine for yourself. Which is why we say that in this tradition: "He who has faith, has no need to believe.”
Faith is conscious knowledge, of knowing. And Samadhi is when the consciousness has been freed of its conditions, its shells. Extracted like the genie from Aladdin’s lamp, so that it can perform the miracles of the soul.
In the third training we have profound wisdom. Profound wisdom relates to the perception of divinity within us, which again relates to the top trinity, the light of our inner Buddha. Buddha means awakened one, to be cognizant, alert, perceptive. From the prefix "budh," meaning cognizance.
So, this Tree of Life is our map for who we are and where we are at. As I mentioned to you, the image of the Christmas Tree relates to this glyph. And we find a very beautiful teaching by a Sufi by the name of Rumi. He is a very famous poet in the West today, who spoke about this Tree of Life in a very implicit way.
If ten lamps are present in (one) place, each differs in the form from one another:
Because when those Sephiroth or aspects of ourselves are purified, they illuminate light, and they integrate―they are one unity. So those religions that teach about polytheism, and many gods, and yet one God, relates to this Tree of Life, because we have the trinity, which is three aspects of God, but one light. So that light manifests in many ways, in different ways. And, so, the wisdom of Pranja, the final training of meditation, which is the teaching of the Tantric Buddhists, teaches one to have profound perception of all things, to perceive the very root nature of any phenomena: physical, energetic, emotional, mental, volitional (relating to will), conscious, spiritual, and even beyond.
So, this is very deep science, very rich, which takes a lot of studying, and meditation, and practice to understand this glyph. But here we are introducing in a very synthetic way to show you that awareness is something very profound. It is a limitless science. This is just a beginning, because Pranja comes from the word Pra, which means beyond. Nja is j-n-a, refers to knowledge, as a Jnana Yoga. Also the root word of the Greek term Gnosis, has a silent gn. The same root meaning there. So the Christian and Eastern traditions are integral―you cannot separate them.
Illusions of Self and the Tree of Life
We learn to understand ourselves, our awareness of who we are through meditation, through these trainings. As I mentioned to you, we seek to break the conditions of mind, because as the Sufi master Abū Sa’īd in one of his scripture wrote:
Wherever the delusion of your selfhood appears – that’s hell. Wherever “you” aren’t – that’s heaven. ―Abū Sa’īd
Our problem is that we grasp onto ourselves that doesn't exist: our egotism, our resentments, our despondency, our despair, our negativities. These are conditions of mind we created, but which really don't have any intrinsic existence in of themselves. They depend on other factors to bring them up, such as at a family gathering, we may have certain gossip that goes on, in which we criticize others or speak badly of others.
We have that defect we created from prior experiences. So that egotistical element only emerges in certain situations; it is dependent on that situation to act. So, you see the relationship between events and internal states, and in Buddhists terms that sense of self we grasp onto in that moment is not real; it is an illusion. It doesn't have any real substance, because when you analyze and meditate on that element, you see that it is always dependent on something else to exist.
And yet as we observe ourselves, we perceive that we are not mind, thought. We are not emotions, mood. We are not energy. We are not our body. Even our willpower has certain conditions and elements. Someone, who has a strong will―we admire, obviously. But our willpower, like the will of the Being of a person like Caiaphas (so to speak), who persecuted Jesus, is very evil will. And we have elements of that nature inside. Our will can follow, our inner Tiphereth can follow the beauty of God above or our own desires. So how we use our will, shapes our life. But our sense of self is contingent upon other factors. It is always a fluctuation and churning there.
So, when we analyze ourselves we see that and ask ourselves: "Where is my awareness? Who am I, really, in my depth?" The Tree of Life can teach us this and depending on our level of awareness, our training, we may gravitate more or less to one of these spheres. But through discipline we ascend.
Our True Nature
I would like to explain to you or recite to you some beautiful teachings from the scripture I started this lecture with. It teaches us some considerations to think about, when we learn meditation. And again, this is a very profound scripture that teaches one to analyze the mind and was typically read at retreats. So, while you are getting this crash course in this now, to really understand the beauty and depth of this teaching, it is something we go back to again and again and again.
The Three Considerations
So, the present moment is. The problem is that we are always projecting our thoughts, our habits, our emotions on the present moment. We are not aware of what is really going on around us, within us.
When this ordinary, momentarily consciousness is examined nakedly and directly by oneself,
So, the question is: who is observing? Is it thought? Is it thought that says: "I think that I am observing?” Anyone can analyze with the intellect, but observation does not involve in its true sense a sense of I or me. It is universal and expansive.
It is manifestly stark and clear.
So, when we look at the Tree of Life, we can see this Buddhist teaching is very well documented. It is very hard to follow, very contradictory for the mind. But the fact is that the consciousness is a multiplicity, but also unity. It is easily represented here. We cannot say that our thoughts and emotions are separate. Usually we are feeling a certain way and a thought emerges. And also, the will to act. So, these factors are one, one expression.
This intrinsic awareness, which is not extraneously derived.
Interdependence and the Tree of Life
So, meditation is the science of acquiring information about ourselves, the conditions of mind that make us suffer. We acquire light, the unification of the three buddha-bodies (the Trikaya), as we learn to look within ourselves. Awareness originates from the top of the Tree of Life and becomes enmeshed in materiality, the further down it descends. We, as human consciousness (Tiphereth), must learn how to act within our lower vehicles of the soul: mind, emotions, vitality, and physicality.
In relation to the law of interdependence, our mind, emotions, energies, and physical body, rely on external factors to exist. Yet awareness (the light of the divine), is the originating and emanating force, which propels the movement of the Tree of Life. It is uncreated in all respects―this awareness. And is that from which all things originated, and all things return.
So, the Tree of Life helps us to visually comprehend interdependent nature of all this, all phenomena. When we explore one aspect of ourselves, we see this depends upon other emanations, other Sephiroth in this diagram. So, nothing has intrinsic existence in and of itself. What we call self is merely emptiness, void of true reality and objectivity.
We can see that our physical body (Malkuth) depends on many factors in order to live. Our energies (Yesod) fluctuate from morning to evening. We may have more energy at one point of the day, and less in the night time. Our emotions (Hod) fluctuate from happiness to sadness, compassion to hatred, faith to despair. Our thoughts (Netzach) are never stable, but jump from thing to thing through a chain of associative thinking. Our willpower and intentions (Tiphereth) are usually conditioned by negativity, desires to commit wrong. When our will follows the will of our Inner Buddha, we perform beautiful actions within ourselves, which of course depends upon consciousness (Geburah).
Most of us don't know what consciousness even is, and let alone what it means to be spiritual. Many people learning meditation do not even get pass the physical body and its discomforts, let alone access to higher aspects of a Tree of Life. Even our spirit, no matter how divine, originated from somewhere in the top trinity. Our consciousness depends upon the spirit to exist. And even this spiritual nature depends upon the light above, as we see in this graphic. Therefore, the Buddhists follow the teachings of Anatman―no self, since even the spirit (the Self) depends upon the Trikaya above. Therefore, genuine awareness is the Trikaya, which gives life to the spheres below, since all things depend upon this trinity for the subsistence and existence.
This is what Padmasambhava refers to in the section we have been discussing and reading―“Introduction to Awareness or Natural Liberation through Naked Perception.” Our perception, our consciousness becomes naked and clear, when we learn to actualize and intuit its real nature through discipline on a daily basis. This light, which is radiance and emptiness of self-hood, is our true nature. So, it is with the following verses in mind that Tibetan Buddhists seek to comprehend their emptiness of the mind. This is from "Observations Related to Examining the Nature of Mind":
Be certain that the nature of mind is empty and without foundation.
So, there are some things to think about in relation to observing and examining our mind. Consciousness is not something static, but is changing, dynamic, fluent. And when we sit in a moment to conceptualize or rationalize our experience, we kill the moment. The truth is the unknowable from moment to moment, instant to instant.
Life fluctuates in moments, and when we sit to photograph or to conceptualize our experience, we become lost in the past. But awareness is something momentary. We need to become vigilant, and conscious, and awake. Because as we are, with our thoughts, our habits, our feelings, we tend to be hypnotized by our senses, by our daydreams. We could be at work, talking with someone, answering a phone call, and yet be thinking about something else. And that is the nature of the mind―it is distracted―it doesn't know how to focus. We could be sitting in a lecture and yet, the mind is wondering elsewhere, or the emotions are not receiving the knowledge. So, consciousness has to be present.
We have to be aware of ourselves in thought, word and deed, instant by instant, moment by moment. So, meditation is a science that teaches us how to be aware, how to be awake, so that we learn to comprehend ourselves and by learning to comprehend ourselves, we develop the genuine joy of the soul, free of conditions, of negativity.
Questions and Answers
Audience: You can do that in moments of meditation, easily, but when you’re out in the world, you have to catch yourself―[inaudible] there is a certain amount of fear or anxiety, so you are addressing yourself. But these are things you react to, you just cannot silence your mind or go blank.
Instructor: That is a good point, and the thing about this is that by learning to awaken consciousness, we no longer react to things, instead we respond. We typically think that fear and certain negative qualities are natural and necessary for survival―for animals that is. Animal souls live and react in that way. But someone who is conscious, who is awake, can respond to the situation with much greater clarity and greater precision than somebody who reacts out of fear. So, this is very well documented or studied within Buddhist traditions like the samurai. They would meditate before battles and if they weren’t attentive or aware of themselves, they would be killed. In the same manner, if we are not aware of what we are doing when we are driving, we can get into serious harm. But having fear is not necessarily a good backup, because fear only knows how to react―it is mechanical. Something jumps up in front of you―you move, you don't even rationalize. But when you are conscious, you know exactly what you are doing. And therefore, you can divert harm.
Audience: So, if you are really conscious, then you are proactive.
Instructor: You are proactive, and then you are not going to put yourself in any danger. Because if you react out of fear or anxiety, out of instinct, you can get hurt. You may save yourself from a moment, but if you are conscious, you know exactly what you need to do, what is going to happen, how it is going to happen. So, being conscious means to expand that awareness to the point that you are in full control of what is going on and you are responding to life in remembrance of your inner divinity.
Audience: You are anticipating also, being proactive.
Instructor: And you will know things will happen before they happen. Therefore, you prevent many problems.
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