This is the fifteenth lecture in a series on the Sufi Principles of Meditation. Everything we have explained so far is the requisite. It sets the stage, the parameters, the foundation of our particular focus today, which is the science of certainty.
Any person who approaches meditation, spirituality, religion, longs to have understanding of the truths contained within a tradition, to have profound insight, wisdom and direct knowledge of how to live with efficacy, with understanding, with ethics. Students who have studied this tradition, from the writings of Samael Aun Weor, often struggle with this principle the most. Comprehension is an extremely elusive thing, and yet is the nourishment, the food, the daily sustenance of the Gnostic.
There are many different means of meditating, different objects, different focuses, whether on a particular defect, a psychological aggregate, an ego, which specifically is the most important meditation we can do. By understanding our own errors, we can change them. We can transform our daily life into a beautiful work of art―the perfected human being. We can also gain comprehension or certainty of a scripture, especially if we take the time to relax our senses, to reflect on a particular verse within a scripture, especially when its meaning eludes us, when we are confused, when we are uncertain.
Now, when we approach this concept, or better said, this principle, we need to remember that while we have a lot of knowledge, perhaps in our intellect, does it really mean that we have consciousness, experience of what we read? This is an important and profound distinction because many people fail to understand this difference. If you do not experience what you read, if you do not verify it with facts, then we neglect a very important part of who we are, a fundamental principle of our own consciousness, which is to understand.
Different schools, philosophies especially, movements, educational pedagogies, often speak about metacognition. In layman’s terms, it means to think about the process of thinking, what it entails. What are the structures? Yet in the Gnostic movement we take this principle much further than mere intellectual analysis.
Real metacognition, if you look at the prefix “meta,” has to do with understanding itself, how and why we think, and more importantly, how we are present in this moment. We really need to intuit without having to label, with our mind, the very processes of cognizance, how we apprehend phenomena, and more importantly, how do we interpret it, whether those experiences are very mundane like washing dishes, or something really subtle and profound like having an astral projection, a dream, a vision.
The intellect fails to understand what we perceive and yet it is a tool we can use. It is useful within its orbit. It can store information, associations, memories, symbols, data, but it is not the primary functionalism of understanding. This is evident by an alcoholic who knows their addiction is wrong and harmful, yet they continue to engage in behaviors that create problems.
Knowledge is of the mind; comprehension is of the heart. Someone who really understands why alcohol is dangerous and destructive will not touch it, no matter how many temptations.
Understanding is a great mystery. How do we know what we know when we know it? How do we interpret our experiences, what we perceive? What is certainty, to really know something? Is it intellectual? Or perhaps it is something much more moving, expansive, infinite?
We have been going back again and again to the study of consciousness. We state it is the root of our perception. It is what grants us the capacity to be. However, as we have explained in our studies of Kabbalah, the Tree of Life, the structure and dynamics of the soul, the different structures and constituents of our make-up, we have been exploring how we perceive through filters, through conditions of mind, which have to do with―primarily in the beginning, when we meditate―our body, our senses.
We may have an itch, a scratch, a pain in our back. We need to become aware of our physicality. We need to relax the body. We do so primarily by working with energy, vital force, whether through pranayama, mantras, or sexual transmutation. We have to put our energies through a state of suspension. We have to comprehend these forces and how they direct the body. More importantly, we have to direct everything that we are in its lower strata.
The consciousness is the Essence, the soul who needs to be driving the car, which is our body, our energies, and especially our emotions. We need to relax our heart and suspend all negativity, even if but for a few moments. We have to relax the mind, to not think so much, to not let the mind ramble on and on in a chain of associative thinking, which really is endless, unless we observe it and not identify with it. We observe and let it rest.
Likewise, we need to work with our willpower, our concentration, and focus on the act of observing, of perceiving, which is the consciousness itself. It is when you really focus your concentration within and look with a receptive mind, heart, body, and energies, your consciousness activates and everything else beneath the consciousness suspends. But our consciousness must become awake, activated through the psychological and spiritual pressure of our inner Being, who guides us through intuition, through hunches, through the heart.
There are different degrees of who we are, but the question is, do we discriminate what we perceive? Are we looking at our mind, our heart, our body, and our energies with clarity, with purity, with depth? Or does the mind carry us away with what happened yesterday, and that leads on to another thought? Then our body itches. We scratch it. Then we have a pain, and we adjust ourselves. Our heart is in turmoil, in emotional suffering over a drama that happened the previous day.
Are we perceiving all this? ― and are we not identifying with it? ― because the word identification has to do with where you place your attention.
Where is your consciousness going? Where are you? Are you stuck on the body? In its pain? We can learn to fix that in the beginning by finding a posture that works and helps us to relax.
Are we identified with the sensations and energies of our vital body, meaning, our self is there? We feel that we are the energies present, or do we think and feel that we are the mind, our thoughts, and our heart? ― whatever sentiments pass within the screen of our being?
Identification has to do with our psychological state, the quality thereof. Consciousness is like water. In its inherent and pristine form, it is very pure, fluidic, dynamic, but when it enters in a dirty cup, it takes on the characteristics of that cup, whether its sediments and dirt, it stains, which have to do with all of our psychological baggage we carry within: our pride, vanity, hatred, our lust, ego, or as the Sufis state, nafs-al-ammara, the soul that inclines towards evil, negativity, pain.
The consciousness needs to be purified. We have to learn to really direct it, to clarify it, to exercise it. All the practices we mentioned so far help set the stage.
We need a body and posture that is relaxed so that we can forget about it. We need to stimulate the creative sexual energy and to direct it, to empower our consciousness, and not to fascinate over it, to linger on it, but to let those energies help suspend thought and negative emotion and feeling, so we can really concentrate within, with vivid intensity, with clarity, with inner strength, which is not a type of exertion or mental strain. It is merely the application of willpower, to focus on one thing and not be distracted. Then when the consciousness learns to look at one thing at the exclusion of all else, we can extract wisdom from that phenomenon, but of course, the consciousness must be developed. It has to work. It has to know. It has to understand what it perceives. We tend to see phenomena, physically or within meditation, and we mistake its true essence for what it is, its reality.
A classic example of how we misinterpret how we perceive is the Hindu example of mistaking a rope for a snake. You see a rope on the floor, but you are in the dark. You do not see clearly, and your mind, emotion and fear kick in. By instinct you want to run. You feel terror, and when the thoughts emerge, “I have to get out of here” ― you panic. We are not seeing the object for what it is.
This has to do, not only with the awareness of our environment, but more importantly with our psychological conditions of mind.
It is important for the consciousness to perceive, but we have to understand what we are seeing. This is why you need to turn the light on. Light is consciousness. It is perception. The consciousness is what can know. It can understand anything when it is developed. The consciousness learns to discriminate what it sees. It has objectivity in degrees, the more we work with it, expand it, and develop it.
In Western philosophical studies, they refer to the study of knowledge as epistemology, which is the investigation of how we know what we know and whether or not it is possible. The problem with the movement, however, is that it leans towards materialistic dogma. People become very confused and uncertain because rather than verifying truth, perception, they often get caught in the object of dialectics of a materialistic type. They remain in the domain of the physical senses, within theories. We bring this up because understanding our perceptions, the objectivity of what we perceive, we have to learn to discriminate, to really objectively analyze, to understand, to arrive to a deeper comprehension of reality. This does not mean that we become skeptic, morbid, repressive, judgmental, or fanatic. Analysis is not intellectual. It is a type of intuition of understanding and knowing without having to think about it. You perceive it and then you understand.
A lot of people approach meditation, metaphysics, with the aspiration to understand divine reality and the highest truths of religion. However, people do not realize their desires for experiences, for these types of insights, or their own morbidity, pessimism, doubts, do not allow them to understand their traditions, meditation, religion, yoga, Gnosticism, or Sufism especially. Our conditions of mind prevent us from really interpreting with objectivity. It is our desires, our egos, nafs al-ammara, which obstruct the realizations that we seek. It is stated:
The thing we tell of can never be found by seeking, yet only seekers find it. ―Bayazid Bastami
The Sufis speak in paradoxical parables, often in statements that are apparently contradictory, but they are very fluid and dynamic. They play with words to fool the intellectuals but speak in an intuitive grammar, the building blocks of the soul, which baffles the mind, but is understandable with the heart.
So, what does his statement mean in relation to ourselves? Your desires and egos―which are frustratingly seeking heaven, which want astral samadhis, jinn states, clairvoyant, telepathic powers and abilities that Samael Aun Weor writes about abundantly in his works―those cravings and attachments are the very thing that lock the door to reality. They are the lens through which we see and that we do not understand why we suffer and do not get what we want.
This is why we spent so much time discussing serenity, calmness of mind, contentment, and renunciation of expectations. This is the prerequisite to insight. Without the ability to place serene, unwavering, intensely clear concentration upon one object, if you cannot focus on that one thing without wandering off in the mind, we cannot understand at all. You cannot have insight. You cannot be certain about what is going on psychologically, because the mind is like a big salad that is mixed up with a lot of different flavors. While we can be attracted to the salt, taste, dressing, and the different vegetables included, we are not seeing each ingredient for what it is. If you really want to see and understand the stratifications of mind, you have to let everything settle so that you can see the layers, like oil and water, separating. You need to be still. You can only do that when you are focused.
If you forget the object of concentration, relax. Gently, bring back the attention to whatever you are focusing on. Let the mind settle and be. When everything is profoundly still, acquiescent, clean, whenever the mud settles at the bottom of the jar, the water above becomes pure so you can understand what is going on. This is a parable of our psychological state.
In Arabic, the term “insight” is فرصه firasah, which relates to fareesah, a lion who hunts prey. Insight is the same. It is like a lion that hunts for food. What is the food that we seek when we develop insight, when we looking at a problem, a defect, a scripture? We are looking for the food of the soul, comprehension and understanding. Samael Aun Weor refers to this as creative comprehension, because when you really understand something with your soul, you feel light―a spark in your being. It is nourishing and it gives you spiritual life. “Meditation is the daily bread of the Gnostics,” as Samael Aun Weor says. That bread is understanding.
Without it we have no longevity in our practice. This is why people leave meditation. They do not understand what is going on. They may have set the table for a remarkable meal, and yet they do not appreciate what is there because they are too attached to their own desires, their own cravings, their own mind.
In order to talk about insight, perception, discrimination, understanding, certainty, the foundations especially, previously we talked about شَرِيعَة Shari’a within Sufism. It is the ethical commandments, stipulations, and laws of spiritual divine conduct: how to behave physically, mentally and emotionally. This is in order to gain concentration and willpower. If you cannot direct your attention, you cannot achieve anything.
This is why Bayazid Bastami stated that only seekers find the truth, but you do not find it by seeking egotistically. By letting desires and ego rest through prayer, serenity, worship, concentration, and focus, you allow intuition to come to you spontaneously, without expectation. That is حقيقه Haqiqah, the truth, wisdom which arrives without any effort. It magically appears, flashing within you. It courses within you through astral experiences, when you are meditating. When you are focusing within and settling as your body is asleep, you suddenly start to perceive in your imagination, your visualization, different scenes, experiences, conversations, events in which you are both a spectator and a participant. You start to roam within a world that opens up within your consciousness that is inaccessible to the physical senses. These are flashes of intuition, of experiential wisdom.
This is the beginning, and it is important, the way that you combine your ethical conduct, شَرِيعَة Shari’a, with inner experience, حقيقه Haqiqah, which means “reality,” “truth” in Arabic, the path of truth. You have to practice the middle pillar or middle path known in the Sufi tradition as طريقة Tariqah, which traditionally indicates a Sufi school, but also implies meditation. I’ll read for you an excerpt we have gone back to a few times before in order to emphasize these points:
The divine Law is doing what you have been ordered to do. Haqiqah is bearing witness to what He has determined and ordained, hidden and revealed. I heard Abu Ali al-Daqqaq say that God's saying [in the Opening Surah, Al-Fatihah of the Qur'an] iyyaka nabudu―'You we worship’―preserves the outward practice, the divine Law. Iyyaka nastain―‘to You we turn for help’―establishes the inner reality, the Way. ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
“You we worship, and to you we turn for help.” This is perhaps one of the most beautiful statements in the entire Qur’an, which is why it is included in Al-Fatihah, the most recited verses of that scripture. It is because when you worship divinity, you are concentrating. You have to exert some effort in your consciousness, your human will, in order to focus on what you are doing. When you turn for help, it is when you allow everything to rest with an open and receptive consciousness so that you can see inwardly and receive insight. This takes no effort.
When people follow their desires, their egotism, نَفْس nafs, they close the door to comprehension. The primary obstacle is our own mind. If you want spiritual experiences, you need to understand what is craving those things and why.
The Signs of Divinity
I would like to read a few versus from the Qur’an which emphasize the importance of certainty, the importance of understanding, which appear in a form of signs that are mentioned again and again in the Qur’an. These are known as آیات ayat. Each verse in the Qur’an is known as a sign, as آیات ayat, because they are revelations of direct experience.
I shall turn away from My signs those who wax arrogant upon the earth without right. ―Al-Ar’af [7:146]
What are these signs of God? People literally interpret them as the sun, the moon, the stars, the planets, the mountains, the trees, within the limits of astronomical and meteorological influences, literal physical phenomena. In truth, as we explained previously, especially in the lecture on Striving, these are meditation symbols. They represent mystical, psychological, and spiritual states.
Those who act arrogantly without right are those who lack ethics. They do not obey the laws of compassion, of reciprocity, of humanity, of understanding, of patience. The Qur’an continues:
Even if they were to see every sign, they would not believe in them. ―Al-Ar’af [7:146]
The Qur’an often speaks about the non-believers, whom we mention are our own egos, our defects. So, these signs are symbols within meditation, which we witness when we practice contemplation, مشاهدة mushahada. Despite the fact that some people might have experiences or visions, they often reject them because they are fascinated with merely physical, external things, not internal reality.
There are different schools of meditation that teach you to not focus on your visualizations at all. They reject any type of experiences or non-physical imagery. This is destructive. This is a mistake. These people reject the inner symbolic language of divinity, the actual communication with the divine. Therefore, they fanatically reject any experiential dimension of religion, or religare in Latin for “reunion.” So, these mystical states are anathematic and offensive to them. No amount of experience will convince them. The Qur’an continues:
And if they were to see the way of sound judgment, they would not take it as a way (meaning out of suffering), but if they were to see the way of error, they would take it as a way. ―Al-Ar’af [7:146]
What is conscious judgment? As we explained this in previous lectures, especially in the lecture called Conscious Judgment and the Gnostic Psychology course on our website, it is conscious. It is intuition, inner discrimination: knowing and understanding what we perceive with objectivity. Many people hear these principles and reject them because they want to feed their desires. As the Qur’an states:
That is because they denied Our signs and were heedless of them. ―Al-Ar’af [7:146]
People deny Gnosis because they do not study and they do not practice. Even if they practice, they do it with selfish motives. Therefore, they have no experiences.
Heedlessness is negligence. As Samael Aun Weor stated in The Revolution of the Dialectic, he explained how negligence refers “to not elect,” to not act consciously, to not do anything, to not use your willpower and concentration within practice.
Negligence and carelessness lead every human being to failure.
The Qur’an states:
As for those who deny Our signs and the meeting of the Hereafter, their deeds have come to nought. ―Al-Ar’af [7:147]
Our deeds come to naught if we do not really practice effectively. As Samael Aun Weor stated in The Great Rebellion:
Those who do not know how to meditate, the superficial, the ignorant, will never be able to dissolve the ego. They will always be impotent driftwood in the tumultuous sea of life. ―Samael Aun Weor, The Great Rebellion
And the final verse from this excerpt from the Qur’an:
Are they recompensed for aught save that which they used to do? ―Al-Ar’af [7:147]
So, we receive the consequences of our actions. We always follow the trajectory of our deeds. If we do not understand the causes of our own affliction, we cannot understand how to change. Change occurs when we comprehend the internal causes of our behavior. Therefore, creative comprehension has nothing to do with guessing, with supposing we are a certain way but are not, with theories, beliefs, and lies that we tell ourselves. It is profound honesty, non-negotiable, profound, direct criticism of our most hidden faults. It is about taking accountability for who we are, what we have done, and where we are going. It is direct intuitive understanding without any type of rationality. You just look at who you are. Examine yourself.
Samael Aun Weor stated the following in Igneous Rose regarding the faculties that are the foundation for certainty and insight:
Discernment is direct perception of the truth without the process of reasoning.
As we have explained previously, imagination is not something necessarily conditioned, negative, or subjective, like a fantasy, a delusion of the mind. It is something that is perceived within the consciousness. It can be objective, or it can be subjective. It depends on our psychological state. We have to learn to develop this faculty, to see, to imagine, to have insight, to perceive something, so that we can understand it without having to rationalize, having to guess what we see. We need to visualize and imagine so that we can understand, because you cannot comprehend what you do not perceive.
This is why imagination exercises are very powerful. They establish the groundwork by which we can have greater color, vibrancy, and perception within our consciousness, but then we have to learn to discriminate what is going on. This is why it is stated:
The man of spiritual insight hits his target with the first shot. He does not turn to interpretation or opinion or calculation. ―Husayn bin Mansur Al-Hallaj
If you are guessing or calculating, or hypothesizing what is going on, it means that we do not comprehend.
Certainty is Contemplation
Certainty is contemplation (mushahadah, witnessing). ―Al Hasan al-Nuri
The name al-Hasan al-Nuri means, “the beauty of the light.” Certainty, comprehension, and contemplation are all synonyms for understanding. Direct mystical experiences constitute authentic knowledge.
So, we can read many books, but if we do not experience what they write or what they talk about, we do not really understand them with great depth. Those who do not awaken consciousness in the internal worlds do not know divinity, or reality. You can believe in these teachings and these truths, but have you actually talked with God? Do we even accept that there is the possibility that one can?
There is a very distinct difference between someone who believes and someone who has really experienced. Contemplation is not a belief. Beliefs are projections of the mind, a sentiment in the heart, a precondition or supposition of what reality is. It is a religious zeal without evidence. Contemplation is pure receptivity, and it is the acquisition of divine truth.
As I stated before, the mind has to be completely receptive. It has to be passive. It has to be tranquil, calm, like a limpid and pure lake. When the intellect is still, the consciousness becomes activated. It can reflect internal imagery like the surface of a pond or lake. The heavens become manifested in images. This is an allegory or parable in correspondence to the spiritual path, contemplation. Meditation activates the consciousness, not the mind.
There is a story in the Qur’an which beautifully teaches some of these principles. It is a story of Moses coming up to Mount Sinai to talk with divinity. It is a symbol of how our own conscious willpower in meditation learns to receive divine aid.
And when Moses came to Our appointed meeting and his Lord spoke unto him, he said, “My Lord, show me, that I might look upon Thee.” ―Al-Ar’af, [7:143]
We all yearn to have this knowledge and experience, to look upon divinity, to know divinity. So, an appointment is something that is planned, a scheduled event. In this verse, it is a promise of divine union, or spiritual experience, which we can only have certainty of through practice, experimentation, and verification. So, what is our most important appointment to keep and make? In this tradition we state that it is daily meditation.
The highest wisdom is directly perceived within the higher worlds. Divinity, as we have mentioned before, is formless, infinite, like space. However, divinity can take on forms to teach us something profound. In order perceive divinity in the highest of realities, we need to really be humble, as you are going to see in this verse, to not have an iota of pride present. The Qur’an states:
He said, “Thou shalt not see Me; but look upon the mountain: if it remains firm in its place, then thou wilt see Me.” ―Al-Ar’af [7:143]
What is a mountain in esoteric symbology? What is immovable and unconquerable? What is elevated and beautifully serene at the same time? It is perfect concentration. It is willpower. A mountain, in initiatic symbolism, is the spinal column, which is a symbol of will, wherein the Kundalini or الْبُرَاق al-Buraq, the lighting that carried the Prophet Muhammed to the seven heavens, rises. It happens within our stone, ٱلْكَعْبَة, al-Kaaba, יסוד Yesod, and through meditation we activate it. Through alchemy, we raise that energy. The Qur’an continues:
And when his Lord manifested Himself to the mountain, He made it crumble to dust, and Moses fell down in a swoon. And when he recovered, he said, “Glory be to Thee! I turn unto Thee in repentance, and I am the first of the believers!” ―Al-Ar’af [7:143]
ٱلأعراف Al-A’raf, means “The Heights,” in Arabic. I remember an experience I had meditating physically with a group of Gnostics. We were praying on our knees within our meditation chamber, and I remember struggling with a defect of pride that was really bothering me. It was against another student who I knew at the time. I did not like having this mystical pride in my heart―and I could see it in myself that it was creating problems―vanity and feeling better than this other person. So, we were praying very deeply while on my knees, and I was struggling with this aggregate. I was looking at it and praying to my inner God to show me understanding, to give me certainty of what this thing is and was. I was creating suffering for myself.
So, I entered a very profound state of serenity and direct, clear observation. Suddenly, when my body was at rest, I forgot about my physicality, and my energies were transmuted through the exercises that we performed that evening. Then, insight, like a lightning bolt, shot through me. I suddenly understood in that moment what that defect was, how it worked, where it came from, why it subsisted, why it was feeding, and how it was eluding me. It was like this verse from the Qur’an: the mountain shattered. My Divine Mother, the lighting force of الْبُرَاق al-Buraq, the Divine Mother Sulu-Sigi-Sig in Nordic language, the Rune ᛋ Sig, the lighting vajra-energy of divine feminine creativity and destruction, took this ego and killed it.
I remember kneeling and feeling great love and humility, not only for my Divine Mother, but for this person who I had a qualm with. I understood the ego and it shattered to cosmic dust. It was gone. The mountain shattered. That aggregate was annihilated. Therefore, I turned in repentance with happiness. That is how we really, in the matter I am speaking, believe. We have knowledge and conviction of what we perceive. So, I was swooning psychologically from the energy that was manifesting in me as my Divine Mother. I felt great happiness and relief afterward. That is a form of certainty, and witnessing in a very simple, profound, practical sense.
The Three Forms of Certainty
Let us talk about the three forms of certainty because there are levels of knowledge, conviction, and understanding that are very well explained within the Sufi doctrine.
Certainty is assurance free from delusion. ―Abdullah Ansari of Herat, Stations of the Sufi Path
As Samael Aun Weor wrote in The Revolution of the Dialectic:
A mind which is divided by the depressing process of options cannot serve as an instrument for the Innermost. ―Samael Aun Weor, The Revolution of the Dialectic
Therefore, to be caught within dualistic thinking, binaries, ideas, ideologies, possible outcomes, means that we are hypnotized, deluded, and confused. We are going back and forth like a pendulum swinging from the hands of a hypnotist. This type of rationalization and the battle of antithetical concepts really is depressing because we really do not comprehend, or know with facts, what is going on.
Certainty is of three kinds: knowledge of certainty (‘ilm al-yaqin), the eye of certainty (‘ayn al-yaqin), and the reality of certainty (haqq al-yaqin). ―Abdullah Ansari of Herat, Stations of the Sufi Path
These are levels of certainty that we are going to unpack today. They are all very important because there are different meditators with different capacities of understanding and experience. If you really study the writings of Samael Aun Weor, you learn that he is very broad in his range of teaching different levels of initiates, whether from the very beginning to the highest. We can also say he is very synthetic. He takes a lot of difficult concepts and explains them in a very unique and refined way.
All that knowledge is useful. It is practical, but we need to be at that level of development to understand the path itself.
Knowledge of certainty is the knowledge based on reasoning, the eye of certainty is a knowledge based on perception, and the reality of certainty is real and true. ―Abdullah Ansari of Herat, Stations of the Sufi Pat
Our intellect is useful when it is controlled by our consciousness. Knowledge without being is useless. It is egotistical. We can have a lot of information in our mind and use it to create the atom bomb, something that is not humane, and very destructive. Knowledge without ethics is dangerous. However, knowledge utilized by the spirit is beneficial.
Knowledge of certainty is necessary in the beginning. We have to study the teachings in the mind. We need to have concepts, structures, and information because that is primarily how we learn especially in the West, intellectual knowledge being our primary modes and means of disseminating information, and/or knowledge. The problem is that we intend to take that knowledge and not understand what we read. This is why we really have to meditate on this knowledge to gain insight, so we can see how it relates with our practical life. This is the path of شَرِيعَة Shari’a , the law, the outward discipline.
The eye of certainty has to do with conscious experiences, when we really verify what we read. We can read about astral projection. We can become fascinated with the theory, but until we have done it ourselves, it is merely a concept. However, if you have the experience, it gives you faith because you see that your experience is not only isolated to you, but to millions of people who have experienced these truths. This is طريقة Tariqah, the inner path, meditation.
Reality of certainty is when we have the highest mystical experiences, divine states. This is known as حقيقه Haqiqah: truth, and معرفة Ma’rifah: knowledge. Let us continue with this quote:
Knowledge of certainty is achieved through studying, the eye of certainty is achieved through visionary disclosure of reality, and the reality of certainty is achieved through witnessing the reality. ―Abdullah Ansari of Herat, Stations of the Sufi Path
In the beginning, study the path. Study the books of Samael Aun Weor. Study the scriptures, so that when you have experiences, you will not be confused, and not be lost. Many people may have internal experiences, which are mapped up by Kabbalah, the Tree of Life, but if they do not know Kabbalah, they are not going to be very skilled in navigating those internal worlds because Kabbalah is the language of those inner dimensions themselves.
Visionary disclosure is imagination. It is when you perceive things in meditation. You have symbols that arrive to you that disclose themselves from the obscurity of the subconsciousness, which enter your psyche without you willing it. These are meditative experiences.
Reality of certainty is primarily the knowledge of the Absolute. The Tree of Life emanates from that zero base, the zero dimension, the abstract absolute space, the limitless light and the nothingness. In Kabbalah it is known as Ain, Ain Soph, Ain Soph Aur. In Islam it is known as, الله Allah. In Arabic, ال Al is “the,” the indefinite article, and له lah is negation, meaning: “No”―the Nothing, the space. It rejects any type of anthropomorphism, which is why in Islam they do not allow symbols or representations of divinity, because that cosmic space cannot be characterized by anything within this universe. It has to be experienced. It is the illuminating void.
Obviously, this is a very broad range of knowledge, starting with the intellect, or even having an astral experience or having experienced a samadhi within the heights of the Tree of Life. The truth is that we have to begin where we are at. Some people need basic knowledge, and that is primarily every one of us. We should not assume that we are advanced spiritual initiates, but to really take on humility and recognize that we do not know and are easily fooled. Humility opens the doorway to real experiences.
We need introductory knowledge, but also other people require deeper insight. Some people have astral experiences and even samadhis, therefore they need “certainty born from visionary disclosure” or “the highest reality.” Therefore, as instructors we try to provide certainty from various levels of experience. All of these teachings are necessary.
Some people like to leave out Kabbalah. They think it is too complicated, too difficult, but at one point you found it difficult to learn your ABC’s. With practice you learn it and you can start to form words and sentences. The same thing with Kabbalah, the sacred arcana, the Tarot, the esoteric divine grammar of the conscious language. With it you learn to apprehend the intuitive knowledge of higher realities.
You have to begin and practice where you are at. Do not vacillate but continue with it. It is difficult, but nothing that is worthwhile is easy. As instructors, we have many courses. We give many perspectives on these types of things. Now, all of it is necessary because people who have experiences, have dreams about numbers and the Tarot, need to study that knowledge so that they can become competent in the internal worlds. It is necessary. If a student leaves this knowledge in the intellect, we cannot say that it is the teacher’s fault. Samael Aun Weor stated, “To teach without explaining is the equivalent of not teaching.” It is all practical. Use it well. Read a little but meditate a lot so that you can understand more. Apply what you learn. This is the foundation. The quote continues:
Knowledge of certainty is the result of audition, the eye of certainty is attained as the result of inspiration, and the reality of certainty is the result of truly seeing what is evident (ayān). ―Abdullah Ansari of Herat, Stations of the Sufi Path
At first, we have to hear the doctrine. In Buddhism, this is the path of Shravakayana. As shravakas, as “listeners,” we come to lectures to learn the doctrine and teachings. Then we begin to apply that knowledge. That is the beginning.
Then with practice, we perceive with the consciousness divine symbols in meditation or out of the body. These inspire us. This is the esoteric experience of the Mahayana path. We become inspired to act compassionately for humanity because of what we perceive.
With comprehension of the inherent selflessness of divinity, the interdependence of all phenomena and the profound joy of the Absolute, reality is understood when we witness through concrete evidence, experiences, truths beyond the body, the affections, beyond the mind. In Buddhism, this is the path of Tantrayana: the path of the continuum, tantra, of consciousness, which is never broken, but sustained intentionally.
Knowledge of certainty consists in the recognition of causes and causation, the eye of certainty consists in gaining liberation from causes and causation, and the reality of certainty is emancipation from all false expectation and discrimination. ―Abdullah Ansari of Herat, Stations of the Sufi Path
In the beginning, we have a basic knowledge of karma. We learn ethics, cause and effect. If I speak with anger, I will produce pain. It is very simple. Simplicity is more profound than complicity, complication, or multiplicity of desires. We need to learn to follow divine law and to integrate our consciousness, to not be fractured in so many different defects. We need to follow the superior law of consequences so that by overcoming karma, we perceive its causes. We liberate ourselves by learning to perceive with clarity.
Lastly, reality is emancipation from any type of desire, anticipation, or interpretation of the intellect: to suppose, theorize, or believe. It is the pure receptivity of mind and activity of consciousness without an iota of self.
The Degrees of Spiritual Insight
There exist degrees of insight which are more-or-less mingled with desire until we are fully purified of ego.
Insight arrives when we abandon negligence or heedlessness, by really practicing each day, because you are not going to have real depth or consistency unless you really dedicate a lot of your time. Renounce superfluous activities so that we have a space and a psychological environment that is conducive for spiritual growth.
Insight really guides us. It is the food that alleviates one who starves. Insight is what guides us in all of our daily activities and interrelations in life. It has to do with knowing how to act with vibrancy, profound attention, intuition, and wisdom that cuts through suffering.
Abu Said al-Kharraz said, “One who sees with the light of spiritual insight, sees with the light of the Truth. The very substance of his knowledge comes from God, unmixed with either negligence or forgetfulness. Indeed, it is a judgment of Truth flowing from the tongue of a servant.” Abu Said’s expression “looking with the light of the Truth” means seeing by a light with which the Truth has favored him. ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
Self-remembrance is the light. It is what orients us. It is why we dedicated an entire lecture to this principle. Striving against desire, as Prophet Muhammed stated, is the monasticism of the Muslim. It has to do with integrating our consciousness and recollecting the presence of divinity in our heart, being inspired by the presence of compassion and conscious understanding of our relationship with others, to exchange our own self with those who suffer. This is how we can really judge phenomena correctly, with intuition.
Al-Wasiti said, “Spiritual insight means the rays of light that gleam in hearts and the solid establishment of a spiritual knowledge that conveys secrets of the invisible realm from one hidden place to another (this a direct reference to the Tree of life and all its different sephiroth, dimensions). Thus the possessor of insight witnesses things in the way that the Truth brings him to witness them, and he speaks what is in people’s minds.” ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
Our hearts gleam with compassion and wisdom when we possess certainty. Really, the most beautiful quality of a true human being, a master, is their intelligence and their wisdom, because it is synthesized in the force of divine love. To really love another person well and objectively, we need intelligence, wisdom, and clarity in our perception. These also have to do with experiences, flashes of inspiration, and imaginative perceptions which grant us intuitive wisdom and knowledge. I will read to you a quote from Samael Aun Weor, in the book Igneous Rose which relates with this interrelation with people:
In the presence of any person, many images that correspond to the internal life of that person with whom we are in contact will emerge from our interior. This is known as clairvoyance (or we can say imagination: to perceive, to have the basis for spiritual insight).
In synthesis, imagination is perception of non-physical imagery. It is a psychological sense. You can begin to read people well or better when we work on our own mental obstructions: pride, anger, defects. When you eliminate ego, you start to see with greater understanding and depth so that when you are encountering people, you start to sense their thoughts, their mind, and emotions.
All of us have had some type of experience with this, because, as an example, we might have been in a room with a person who did not say a word, yet we can sense their anger boiling, seething with rage, even though they do not say anything. We can sense it. It is a psychological sense. It is a form of imagination. This is something that can be developed even further. This is known as the science of telepathy or transience, the understanding of thought and mind, our interrelations with others.
Inspiration is the recognition of symbols and internal states. It is to really be inspired with joy. We see in a new way and we are learning to navigate in a new world that is infinite and profound.
Intuition is insight. It is when we have real certainty. We understand what we perceive. We have a whole lecture, especially the next lecture of this course, focused on these three elements: imagination, inspiration, and intuition. I am only introducing it now, but it is very deep and profound.
The Insights of Students and Gnostic Masters
Beginners study and then seek to verify what they read. Masters experience and then seek physical evidence to verify their experiences. I will relate some quotes that are very deep that explain the insight of a beginner and the insight of a master.
It is said that the spiritual insight of students is a thought that demands verification, but the insight of the gnostics is a verification that demands a reality. ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
I will give you an example of this. Oftentimes in the beginning, we have an intuition or a haunch that something is true, but we do not know. Therefore, we have to test, experiment, and verify our hypothesis. We have to verify through experiences, practices, and come to a conclusion based on whether or not, from our experiences, the phenomenon is true. Now, a Gnostic, one who can develop more insight and knowledge, often has internal experiences that they have to verify physically. You can have an astral experience where you perceive something really beautiful, profound, and divine, but you may not understand the real depth of it until you physically find the evidence later on. I will give an example of this.
I remember I had an experience about my inner divinity, in which I perceived the Tree of Life with its ten spheres, its sephiroth, this diagram that we go back to again and again. However, at the time I was just a beginner, and I did not understand what this symbol was. So, I had to look physically in the books and eventually get in contact with an instructor who pointed this out to me. I had the experience before I physically knew about it. Obviously, this gave me a lot of faith.
I remember even one time I was dedicated to practicing a Japanese martial art known as Aikido and I had an encounter with a black magician who was attacking me in the astral plane. I remember this adept of the black lodge grabbed me and did a technique that was from Aikido. I asked him, “What was this?” because he disabled my arm as I was combating him. I did not know what exactly that technique was. He just said this was Aikido. When I returned to my physical body, the next day I asked my physical sensei, my Aikido instructor, and showed him the technique that was used against me. I said, “I have heard of this move and I want to know more about it. What is it?” The person said, “This is Nikyo,” a way you can grab a person’s hand. By twisting them in a certain manner you can disable them from attacking you. I was really amazed by that too, because here I learned an Aikido technique in the internal worlds before I knew about it physically.
Obviously, for a lot of people we study first and then we verify. Sometimes we can have inner experiences that we have to verify with physical facts. This is really important. It is important that we verify what we perceive with physical evidence so that we can have certainty of what we have seen and experienced. This is why the writings of Samael Aun Weor are very valuable and why he was so explicit about his own personal knowledge in teaching others, because he was given a road map for those who were having inner wisdom and knowledge for themselves so that they would not be confused.
Ahmad bin Asim al-Antaki said, “When you sit with the people of truthfulness, sit with them in truthfulness, for they are the spies of the hearts. They will enter and leave your heart without your feeling it.” ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
So, I remember on many Gnostic retreats, I personally witnessed how being around certain instructors and missionaries, that have been practicing for a very long time, could read my mind. They would always speak very intuitively towards me, very humbly, with a lot of compassion. They were never going around boasting about being initiates. There are people who can read us very easily even if we think they cannot.
This assumption that we are an isolated bubble, that we can think and feel whatever we want, is an illusion. We are all interdependent. Our thoughts and feelings travel. Our energies and mind affect others, and there are ways to discriminate these perceptions, but unfortunately in us, we are very asleep, so we tend to not have any understanding. These psychological senses are blunted in most people, but you can learn to refine them through spiritual exercises like transmutation, sacred rights for rejuvenation, mantras, alchemy, and meditation especially.
I heard Muhammad ibn al-Husayn say… that Abu Jafar al-Haddad said, “Spiritual insight appears as a spontaneous intuition that nothing can challenge. If contradictions arise, it is a simple thought, an event of the ego.” ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
Comprehension, we can say, is undeniable. It cannot be contested. This is why we use physical evidence. We have to verify what we experience, so that we do not get mislead. If our inner experiences push us to break against the law of ethics, compassion and شَرِيعَة Shari’a , it means that it is an egotistical experience. It is conditioned and subjective. By inner experiences, حقيقه Haqiqah, combined with ethical law, superior laws, spiritual conduct, gives us faith, because we verify the truth of what we are seeing. So, if there are contradictions between our perceptions and the teachings, if it violates our ethics or our chastity especially, then we can say that this experience is subjective. We should dismiss it as a delusion of the mind.
The Certainty of Insight
Let us elaborate on a few more quotes. Let us talk about the nature of certainty and insight.
From the field of Certainty the field of Insight is born. ―Abdullah Ansari of Herat, Stations of the Sufi Path
As I said previously, you cannot understand what you do not see. You have to perceive it first in order to discern and ascertain the meaning of that phenomena. This is why:
God, the Most High, says, ‘…when they remember God, they see’ (7:201). ―Abdullah Ansari of Herat, Stations of the Sufi Path
Self-remembrance is critical. You need to remember the presence of your Being, to be conscious and then to observe so that you can discriminate. This quote continues:
Insight is being able to see, and it involves three things: having insight into God’s acceptance, having insight into whatever is required in respect to obediently following the Prophet, and having insight into Reality. ―Abdullah Ansari of Herat, Stations of the Sufi Path
Having insight into God’s acceptance is important. We have written to too many people who correspond with us, who feel very hopeless, who feel lost, individuals who are very pessimistic and self-deprecating. They believe they cannot be saved. They are in a depressed state. They feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of this teaching and they feel incapable, or that somehow, they are not lovable. This is a skewed and flawed perception and illusion of the ego because all of us have the Essence within. If we have remorse in our heart and want to change, as we explained on lectures on renunciation and repentance, then we have the possibility to change.
We need to realize that divinity is merciful, not from reading a scripture merely, but from experience. Pretty much every surah in the Qur’an begins:
Bismillah Ar-Rahman Ar-Rahim
A lot of people are afraid of the Qur’an. They think it is a very severe scripture. It is very strong, but each surah begins recognizing the compassion of divine love.
In synthesis, we have to really respect the laws and teachings given by prophets, not by contemporary people who more or less be interested in spirituality and have beliefs. We have to rely on prophets, initiates, and masters who really convey a lot of understanding from experience.
In these Aquarian times we do not follow anybody. The Age of Pisces which is known by its conservative knowledge, a strict adherence, or transmission of knowledge between master and disciple through proving oneself through years of worth and exercises. The Age of Pisces is obsolete. We now live in the Aquarian Era where knowledge is given openly. However, we have to adhere and be devoted to our inner teacher, our inner master, our inner Being. The Aquarian knowledge is finding the master within, not without.
Lastly, in relation to this quote, reality is the Absolute, الله Allah, the emptiness, the void of compassion and limitless light, the uncreated light, the abstract absolute Seity.
Qur’anic Verses on Insight
Abdullah Ansari of Herat explains many beautiful teachings in relation to the Qur’an, but also the different degrees in insight and how they apply to the different aspects of our spiritual life. I will read for you these excerpts and I will explain them in length.
Having insight into God’s acceptance lies in finding familiarity (āshnā’i) with God, as we read in the Qur’ān, ‘Now proofs have come to you from your Lord, proofs to open your eyes, if any man will see, it will be for the good of his own soul’ (6:104). ―Abdullah Ansari of Herat, Stations of the Sufi Path
How do we become familiar with God? When we suffer and are depressed, we should not go to our teachers. We should meditate. Gain the answers from your inner being. That will give you life, validation, and conviction. By repeatedly exposing ourselves to internal divine states, the virtues of our soul, we have proofs and visions. We perceive in our imagination our virtuous qualities. Often, they come in inspiring symbols which contain and unveil intuitive knowledge about how we must proceed in any daily aspect of our life, whatever we are struggling with or having problems with. That is what is going to nourish us the most. The quote continues:
Having insight into following the Prophet is being firm in following the Prophetic tradition, as we read in the Qur’ān that, ‘I do invite unto God, on evidence clear as the seeing with one’s eyes, I and whoever follow me’ (12:108). ―Abdullah Ansari of Herat, Stations of the Sufi Path
We have to respect the prophets and learn from them. It does not mean that we blindly follow their words but comprehend their practical teachings. We have to not render cult to personality but to the inner master like the being Samael Aun Weor.
Unfortunately, there are many Gnostics who make a very big mess of the prophetic tradition. They render cult to the personality of Samael Aun Weor, even though his personality [Víctor Manuel Gómez Rodríguez] was annihilated at the end of his initiatic work, physically, when he achieved resurrection with the body of liberation. If you want to learn more about this principle, you can study the glossary on Glorian.org, especially. A lot of people worship his personality like a cult, and they ignore the practical teachings of internalizing inner experience for themselves.
It is true that the highest commandment, from the book of Mark, chapter 12, verses 30 and 31, state this:
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” The second is this: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” There is no commandment greater than these. ―Mark 12:30-31
We have to love the masters especially. They gave a profound sacrifice, to teach us things that we cannot access on our own, but it does not mean that we worship their personality.
In synthesis, should you love your neighbor’s ego? A lot of Christians interpret this statement, “Love your neighbor as yourself” in terms of their own selfishness, their own complacency with wrong―to admire and give in to behaviors that are negative, mostly fornication, especially. We have to worship the inner self of other people, not their personality, not their ego. When we work and act compassionately for others, it is because we are not reacting towards their own defects, but towards their heart, their Essence, speaking to their soul. This is the most dignified aspect of an individual. We should seek to edify others by acting consciously, not feeding the mind. We have to be very firm with ourselves in relation to the prophetic tradition.
Myself I sacrifice to my love, and my neighbor as myself―thus runs the speech of all creators (or alchemists). But all creators are hard (of willpower). ―Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra
This is kind of a play on a biblical teaching. It may seem very sacrilegious, but he is making a good point. “I sacrifice my ego to my Being and my neighbors’ ego to my own divine compassion. This is the speech of the creators, the alchemists, the initiates,” but of course this takes a lot of willpower: to restrain our mind and act for the benefit of others even if they do not like it. By knowing the line of demarcation of that really requires insight, intuition, to follow your heart. Let us continue with this quote:
Being insightful into reality is seeing your Lord with the eye of your heart, as we read in the Qur’ān that, ‘…the earth… mountains… and beautiful growth are to be observed and commemorated by every obedient servant who is turning to God’ (50:8). ―Abdullah Ansari of Herat, Stations of the Sufi Path
Our heart is what perceives the higher worlds, not the intellect. We can often perceive in the astral plane many beautiful, powerful, serene, and divine astral landscapes, mountains, forests, beautiful scenery that really depicts our level of being.
One experience that comes to my mind where I was in the astral plane in some kind of small room in the dark. A light turned on and I could see myself in a mirror, and I remember reflecting and recognizing where I was, that I was in the astral dimension and that I needed to go up a staircase. So, I went up and I found myself in the middle of a beautiful mountain town, kind of like somewhere in Colorado almost. This town seemed like it was from the 1500s, like the medieval era, with beautiful, simple houses with ornate architectural structures, rustic, scenic, filled with a lot of people dressed like they were humbly going to work, living a rural life.
I remember looking in the distance seeing a forest and a beautiful, majestic mountain capped with snow. I felt with all of my heart the presence of my inner God, that this is a symbol of ascending out of the basement of my own mind, escaping the darkness of my own cage and entering into the society of the initiates, being helped, being invited, being called to.
Those experiences, when we see landscapes and things of that nature, refers to this Qur’anic statement: “the earth, the mountains, the beautiful growth.” Divinity shows us these experiences when we are really working in ourselves and to give us inspiration to help us change.
Divine Acceptance, Scripture, and Reality
There are three main categories in Sufi thought in terms of insight: divine acceptance, scripture, and reality. Let us elaborate further:
Having insight into God’s acceptance springs from contemplation of one’s experiences, and the signs and proofs of God in creation. ―Abdullah Ansari of Herat, Stations of the Sufi Path
When experiences have to do with spiritual signs, these are symbols that inspire us as proof of divinity, of reality, in creation, which has to do with the Tree of Life, not the physical world. Do not interpret it literally. Let us continue:
Having insight into following the Prophet lies in the Scripture [the Qur’ān], and the Tradition of the Prophet and the writings of the pious followers of the Prophet. ―Abdullah Ansari of Herat, Stations of the Sufi Path
We can develop great certainty. We have to study proven sources, not text that we doubt, that we question, and that make us feel ill at ease. Samael Aun Weor’s writings are particularly poignant and deep because he speaks with a great level of clarity, in synthesis, so that we can interpret any scripture with the key, the alchemical and kabbalistic knowledge.
We have to study both the doctrine of Pisces, the different religious scriptures of the world that we have received, and also the Aquarian knowledge, the writings of Samael Aun Weor. The synthesis of the two can really give us certainty about the path. If we have doubts, we can read both and really come to our own conclusion about what is real, what is objective.
Now, it is unfortunate that many Gnostics have harmed students and even potential students by restricting the freedom of their thinking, such as saying that only certain books can be read, and this is wrong. We should really study all the writings that he gave, primarily because they are very pragmatic and practical. They teach us how to experience these things for ourselves. We should develop certainty from exposing our knowledge to the best possible sources that we can find. For the purpose of this course, I have been using the Sufi writings of Rumi, Ibn ‘Arabi, al-Hujwiri, Abdullah Ansari of Herat, and many other Sufi initiates whom I have studied for a long time and have experiences of their writings. We are using good sources to teach these principles in order to show you the synthesis, so that you can have certainty.
Also, we have to be open to learning from our teachers, meaning: people who practice this doctrine. To really learn from those who are ethical and pious, not from people who try to coerce the minds of students with fanaticism by teaching them not to think for themselves. Here, we are trying to teach how to think, not what to think. We invite you to reflect on these for your own spiritual life, whatever may benefit you. Let us finish this quote:
Being insightful into reality may be likened to the light illuminating the heart that calls upon you saying: ‘this is it,’ an echo in the ears singing: “I am here,’ and a clear sign on the path of declaring: “I am with you.’ ―Abdullah Ansari of Herat, Stations of the Sufi Path
Knowledge of certainty exists when we read and gain conviction at our level. This singing in our ears has to do with clairaudience, hearing the mystical sounds of the superior worlds, especially through astral projection. This constitutes the eye of certainty, when we really perceive the presence of our inner Being here and now. Then reality is verified through conscious awakening, when we realize that our Being has not abandoned us. This is acquired through deep visions, prophetic visions especially. For those of you who may read the writings of Samael Aun Weor, you can feel that “this is it.” This is a knowledge that is very profound, and it gives you inspiration, but we have to go deeper than that. We need to investigate and verify what we have read to see whether it is true within our experience. That way we open the door to the highest realities.
The Joy of Contemplation
So, insight and certainty give us joy. They give us inspiration. They give us optimism especially, and real happiness. One of the primary characteristics of real certainty is that one has faith, and it is the same meaning as faith.
A lot of people mistake faith with belief, whereby they are thinking and feeling something is true, but have no evidence. Certainty is when you know for yourself with repeatable, undeniable facts. Therefore, it gives us happiness. It gives real joy, inspiration, and hope.
We have encountered some students before, online through correspondences or in the forum, who are very pessimistic and feel that they are not getting anywhere, or that this teaching does not provide hope. I find that particularly strange because when you have direct knowledge and certainty of what these things are teaching, you have great joy, inspiration, and joy. You see that you are changing.
This is why we make psychological photographs of ourselves, and practice work memory―what we have taught on our courses on psychology―comparing what we are now to what we were before, having the certainty and knowledge that we have changed many bad habits for the better. That is a cause for great inspiration. This is insight that gives us life.
Sadly, there are people who are very pessimistic and dark. They live in a very sour and morbid environment, and they want to bring other people to that state because they suffer. It is really sad. We need to give them our compassion and our help. A lack of insight really gives us a dead heart, to be dead spiritually.
Concerning the saying of God Most High, “Or one who was dead―we have brought him to life” (6:122), a Sufi said, “Someone who was dead of mind, but God Most High brought him to life with the light of insight, and set for him the light of divine manifestation and direct vision―he will not be like someone who walks, unconscious, with the people of unconsciousness.” ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
When we have superlative conscious experiences, we gain certainty in the law of cause and effect, karma and faith, that positive action that produces happiness for oneself and for others. Even if we become clouded and asleep in our discipline because it is difficult to be awake, we still have strength. We are motivated. We may fall asleep again and again, but we keep waking up because we are driven by joy. We practice unlike those who have never practiced, and we have happiness unlike those who have never had happiness. We should learn to be more serious and develop ourselves, but to help those who do not know.
Experiences come and go. We have spiritual light and spiritual nights, but when we have tasted that divine knowledge, we are inspired and pushed to work.
It is said that when insight becomes sound, its possessor progresses to the level of contemplation (mushahadah). ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
There are degrees of insight, levels of comprehension. Contemplation and witnessing are the direct experience of the highest truths, which we are going to explain in future lectures.
So, to conclude we are going to give you some practices:
Each day, develop your self-observation or inner accounting (محاسبة muhasabah) from moment to moment. Also, extend your mindfulness: the length of time you are aware of yourself.
Every day, develop your meditative visualization. Pick an object like a candle, a work of art, or a statue, whatever inspires you.
A lot of Sufi initiates will take Arabic calligraphy, even the kabalistic initiates of Israel too, will take the Hebrew letters and visualize them. Imagine them in the screen of your perception when you close your eyes.
If you need to take an object and look at it for a time to visualize as much as you can, you can do so. Then close your eyes and concentrate. Visualize and relax. Also, if you lose your visualization, you can open your eyes again to anchor yourself: get yourself stable. Adopt a meditation posture, relax completely―your mind, heart, and body, your energies―then focus 100% attention on your visualized object.
I recommend starting simple if you really want to develop the full capacity of your imagination. You have to begin small. Sometimes you may want to pick up a piece of art that may be complex and complicated. If you want to do something specifically ornate, focus on one aspect of it if it is difficult. Visualize that well and then move onto other areas. Some people in Buddhism take a mandala or an ornate symbol of Buddhist art and imagine aspects of one whole diagram and move along through it, visualizing aspects.
The reason why we practice visualization is so that the consciousness has greater strength by which to perceive greater depth and greater energy. You can also take something like a stone, a very simple object, and imagine it. Or if you work on the candle flame, in the beginning you can learn to focus on the flame and not be distracted by your thoughts. Then imagine the candle glowing with life and light in your consciousness. This will greatly help you establish the conscious capacity to awaken in dreams. This is why it is very important.
At this point in time, I would like to open the floor to questions.
Questions and Answers
Comment: God reveals himself to simplicity and humility, not to those engaged in laborious study and superfluous learning. The Gnostic ought to not rely in his own thoughts, but always seek to confirm them in the divine scripture or the nature of things themselves. Without such confirmation there can be no such thing as spiritual knowledge, only wickedness and delusion.
Instructor: Yes, this is very true. As I said, base yourself on facts. Divine mystical experiences have a quality that is very simple, and they arrive to our heart when we eliminate pride. This is kind of similar to that experience when I was meditating with a Gnostic group, in which I perceived the awakening of my consciousness and a state of humility by annihilating a certain defect. It was very simple, but very profound and amazing.
You can study all the books of Samael Aun Weor. You can engage in discussions and debates. You can know what he wrote in a certain chapter and a book, back to front, and front to back, but that knowledge in the intellect is superfluous. We cannot rely on our own mind.
We need to study and develop a strong spiritual, intellectual culture. We need the knowledge of what symbols mean, but we have to verify what these are about from experience. We use the scriptures because they are sign posts for inner knowledge and they really explain the nature of our own psychology, where we are at spiritually, and where we must go and must do. Real certainty is developed by not relying on our own desires but by confirming our spiritual experiences in the light of scripture and objective consciousness.
Other than that, we have to negate what is useless because our experiences will be negative, driving us to wrong action. We have to be very critical of ourselves, critical of our mind, not in a morbid or self-deprecating way but with a healthy dose of neutrality. There is the story of doubting Thomas, who represents this principle of certainty. All of the apostles came to him saying, “Christ has risen from the dead!” But he said to them, “I will not believe anything you tell me until I verify for myself.”
Unfortunately, people interpret this as a literal moment in history, that there was an apostle and he was very skeptical, perhaps negative, not having any faith, and not believing what the other apostles believed. Until he finally saw Christ face to face and touched his wound did he then really believe.
Now, this is a symbol of certainty and how we develop it. We do not accept and do not reject anything until we have seen it for ourselves. It does not refer to a negative criticism, morbidity, or doubt. It is a quality of consciousness, of discernment. Know the teachings, know the doctrine, but verify it. Keep it in balance.
Knowledge and being, when they are combined together in harmony, produce real spiritual understanding. If we have too much knowledge but no experience, we become very sour people, very wicked. We then look at the teachings as some kind of repressive, or oppressive thing, not understanding its utility, its practicality.
So, if you do not want any doubts, experience it for yourself, but also know the road map so that when you investigate the internal worlds, you do not get lost. Some people travel to another country, metaphorically speaking, in the internal worlds, and do not know the language or the locale. They do not know how to get to a certain destination. This is why we study kabbalah, scriptures, the teachings, the doctrine, so that we can learn to navigate with efficacy and not be confused.
Question: What is the difference between fantasizing and visualization? How do you visualize without stepping into the room of fantasizing?
Instructor: This is an excellent question. Fantasy is negative. It is the projection of the ego. We have spoken abundantly about the difference between the Essence, the consciousness, which is free and unconditioned, to the egotistical self, defects, desires, nafs-al-ammara: the lower soul, the animal “I,” which is a multiplicity of different desires and defects which condition and trap our potential, our Essence. We have about 3% free consciousness and 97% conditioned consciousness. While this is a very disturbing statistic, according to Samael Aun Weor, it depicts our daily state.
How often do we go through out our day identifying with the memories of the past or being hypnotized by illusions, thinking about events that have not happened or will not happen, fantasizing about our perfect partner, who we are going to meet, about a romantic rendezvous and how all the things we are going to say and how we are going to be admired by our co-workers, etc.? All of these are delusions of mind. They are projections of the intellect. They are the images of the conditioned psyche. We are perceiving those images and memories in our mind, but they are not voluntary. They are mechanical. They just happen because our consciousness is passive and our ego, our mind, is active.
Fantasy has to do with a very subjective state of perception in which we are perceiving the contents of our mind, but of course, our mind constantly fluctuates. It changes. It projects its desires in the screen of our imagination, and this is very toxic, very negative. Fantasy is the opposite of visualization.
Now, visualization is when you are learning to activate the unconditioned, clarified, pure aspect of our consciousness. It is when we are learning to perceive non-physical imagery with intentionality, with voluntary will, without being distracted, and without being conditioned by any desire. The only way you are going to know the difference is through experience, through practice.
You can be sitting to meditate. You adopt a posture. You relax. You can even do a mantra to help calm your mind and transmute energy. When you are focused enough on yourself, you can visualize a candle. You have the intention and the will to take that one object and to see it in your perception with clarity, vibrancy, and color, even with sound or smell because the consciousness can experience these perceptions, even beyond the physical senses. But suddenly you will realize as you visualize this object, your mind will start to change it. It will adulterate it. It will say, “No, I can visualize this better and do something better with it!” That image will then begin to change and change its form in many ways. In most cases this is our mechanical mind taking our perceptions and distorting it.
If you find that you cannot focus on the visualization, then you may find that you need to work more on concentration, because you can try to perceive this image of the candle and it is going all over the place, so much that you cannot focus. This means that you need to develop more serenity. So, focus on an object so that you do not think at all, or better said, with less intensity, and let the mind calm down. Focus on the breath or do a mantra. Take a candle and when you see it lit, observe it, and observe how you are observing. Simply look at it, and when your mind starts to think, label, and do other things, do not repress the mind. Do not gag it. Do not push it aside. Just simply look and gently return your attention like you are recalling a fact. That is all it is. That is all you need to do.
Fantasy has to do with how our mind mechanically, repetitiously, unconsciously, projects images of an egotistical type. Visualization is when you will it with the consciousness. In the beginning it is very difficult, because 97% of our consciousness is trapped in ego. Visualization is working with the 3% consciousness that is available. But with time and practice it will get easier and you will learn to discriminate more and more.
Knowing the complete difference between subjective and objective perception is the quality of an angel. Do not think you are going to master it right away. It takes a lot of practice.
Comment: I have a painful theme in my life that I cannot comprehend despite meditation, asking, begging. I do not receive answers and I do not know what the Being needs from me. I want to forget about this problem and remember God as much as I can and be happy and accepting, but this is difficult as these thoughts can be obsessive at times.
Instructor: This is pretty much every one’s situation. We are in the dark. We suffer. We struggle. We have an issue, a problem, an ordeal in life that we do not know how to navigate or resolve. Sometimes, we may be engaged in meditation trying to fix the problem, trying to come up with an answer, begging for an answer, but we do not get it. Every initiate in this path must face this reality, a period of darkness in which we have to face ourselves.
The way that we resolve it is by being patient. The answers are there. Our Being can communicate with us, but anytime that we identify with any ego, we obscure our vision, and oftentimes our efforts to meditate, pray, ask, and beg, become filled with suffering and the desire to change the problem.
An essential virtue that we need in this path is patience and tenacity. We have to be patient by enduring the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. When there is a problem that we cannot resolve, in accordance with the words of Shantideva, why worry about it? If there is no solution, why be upset? If there is a solution, why be upset as well? Our mind constantly goes after and seeks with the intellect the resolution which it can never resolve. So, the solution is to abandon thought and of course it is very difficult to do when we are filled with intense emotions. The solution is to relax for a time engage in activities that help you forget the problem, because if you keep churning, thinking, struggling in the mud, you are going to become exhausted. So, if you are in quicksand, the solution is not to move with agitation, but to be still. If our meditation reflects this agitation, and we are approaching it with the intention of getting a result, oftentimes that desire obscures the realization. As that quote from Bayazid Al-Bastami stated, I will re-iterate his point right here:
The thing we tell of can never be found by seeking, yet only seekers find it. ―Bayazid Bastami, Essential Sufism
So, if we seek with desire, we will not find the solution, but if we relax, calm down, relax our heart, relax our mind, relax our body, relax our energies, suspend everything, and abandon the world, abandon our thinking, our feelings, our projections of desires in mind, when the mind is still, the answers come. I suggest, primarily, if we do not get the answers we want, it is because we want it out of craving out of desire. We have to abandon desire and not seek for the answer, but let it come to us. This is a very distinct pivotal move in our introspection. So, do not obsess over it. Let your thoughts cease and relax. If you find that meditating is difficult, take breaks. Engage in activities that give you joy, happiness, purpose, and certainty. It could be simply playing a game of chess, reading a book, writing poetry, composing music, following our heart. Sometimes distracting us help us to get more focused. If you want to get rid of a problem, forget about it. Do not think about it. Approach it when you are not looking for an answer. It is a very difficult and subtle thing to fulfill in oneself, but it is what leads to the door of certainty.
Question: You touched on insight. Is this in any way similar to introspective meditation? And you shared many experiences being in the astral world. How real can the astral world be compared to our world? Do people have to work, go to school, play sports? Do they have governments, and do they look like us on earth?
Instructor: We talked a lot about introspection, which is the key of understanding ourselves. We do say that our primary practice and one of our most essential we fulfill is retrospection meditation. You can study a lecture give at the end of the course on our web site called, Gnostic Meditation, where we explain how we retrospect our day. We visualize the events that happen chronologically from morning to evening or evening to morning, in order to remember and recall in our imagination the different events that we experienced, so we can understand our own psychic aggregates or egos that emerged. That is what retrospection meditation is. We are talking a little bit about introspecting ourselves, which is the beginning.
Now, yes, we related some astral experiences. The astral world is more real than the physical world. I know a lot of people like to think the astral world is something vague and amorphous. They have a lot of assumptions about this dimension, like it is something insubstantial, but they are wrong. Personally, I have had many experiences in the astral plane where I was fully lucid and had been given a lot more help, so I can have more clarity in that state. The astral world is a dimension of matter, energy and consciousness, but at a different level of nature. It is more subtle, but that does not mean it is immaterial. But because we are unconscious and asleep, constantly projecting, and fantasizing all day in our physical body, when we physically go to sleep, we take our dreams with us into the astral world, where our mind projects its imagery on the screen of the astral dimension, so that we perceive in our negative imagination, perhaps some incoherent, ambiguous, fractured dreams, which, maybe, is a repetition of our daily states.
In the astral plane, because people are unconscious, if you really observe them objectively, you see that people do the same thing there that they do physically. They are asleep. They do not recognize that either they are unconscious in the astral world or they are dead. This is why in Greek mythology, Thanatos and Hypnos, death and sleep, were brothers. You want to know what happens to you when you die? If you want to have certainty about what happens when you die, look at your night life. I do not mean going to the club and partying. I mean when you physically go to sleep, where do you go as the consciousness? Do eight hours pass and nothing happens, then you wake up? Or do you have some big, scattered recollections of doing something or being chased by a monster or what not? That is a barometer of how conscious we are, and because we do not discriminate what we perceive, we do not have certainty of life after death. This why people who approach astral projection and dream yoga tend to do so with a lot of theories and suppositions―not with certainty, but subjectivity of its reality.
If you are objective and conscious in the astral world, if you really awaken your imaginative knowledge, you can start to perceive that reality with a receptive mind and an active consciousness, so that you do not dream and project your mind into that world, but perceive people going about their work, going to school, playing sports, going to their government jobs. When people recollect dreams of going to work it is because they were actually going to work in the astral plane, but they were just so asleep and mechanical that they did not know they were out of their body.
The solution is to develop mindfulness, awareness of yourself moment to moment in a continuous, consistent manner. That way you can wake up in the astral world. If you wake up in the physical dimension, stop daydreaming, stop fantasizing, and start to be receptive, alert, awake, aware, and remember your Being, you will remember your consciousness when you are out of your body.
So, yeah people look the same when they are in the astral plane. I have seen family members of mine, and they look exactly the same. I have seen dead relatives who did not know they were dead, and they looked exactly like they did physically. People appear in accordance, in relativity with their physical life, with some exceptions.
Any other questions?
I appreciate you for listening. I appreciate the questions. In the next lecture we are going to build off this topic in order to talk more about these three stages of knowledge we mentioned in brief: Imagination, Inspiration, and Intuition, in accordance with the Sufi wisdom and the Gnostic teachings.
Thank you all for coming.
The Gnostic Academy of Chicago
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