2020 is a very strange year for humanity, which very few could predict the consequences and results that are affecting everyone. Our politicians, our governments, our great sages of philosophy, of law, of spirituality, while we respect these individuals, at the same time, not even they could predict the intensity and the trauma that we find afflicting humanity. But the reality is that while on a global scale, we are experiencing great sufferings, the truth is that it should not surprise us, as ironic as that might seem, because humanity ignores a very fundamental law of nature, which we are finding is being fulfilled with exactitude today.
It is the law of cause and effect. Every action has a consequence. What I do as an individual affects humanity and vice versa. In the east we call this law karma, which is not some type of blind law where “you are going to get what you deserve.” It is an infallible, immutable law that every action we produce has some type of impact. There are consequences to behaviors that are either upright and pure, or conditioned and filled with suffering.
Humanity today ignores the causes of its current position, and, as we began the meditation, it sometimes takes a great trauma, conflict, wars, violence, pandemics, political disputes, police brutality, racial violence, in order for people to really begin to want to ask this question about why we suffer, about why we are in pain. The reality is that there have been beings like Jesus, Buddha, Moses, Krishna, prophets, messengers of the divine, who knew from their own experience the trajectory of humanity, and how certain actions produce consequences of great significance.
While this is a law that has governed the rise and fall of societies, in truth this should raise a very profound question for ourselves: how do we produce suffering? Why do we suffer? What are our actions that produce this mess that we see today?
Rather than blame the government, the negligence of bureaucracy, of politicians, of political parties, it is better to be practical. How do we in a moment-to-moment basis, in our day-to-day existence, produce suffering, not only for ourselves but for others?
Humanity is blind. People ignore this law, that when we act with desire, with conditioned states of being, we become afflicted. Whether one believes in any particular religion or faith does not really matter, unless we look at the facts of why there is so much conflict today.
So, sadly, despite the efforts of many messengers, as we mentioned, to teach people how to change, how to alter the trajectory of humanity, their essential message, which is universal, has been adulterated, has been sterilized. They all taught that there is a way out of suffering, a path that in accordance to the religion or the tradition, is distinct to the form of a culture. But, essentially, the message is the same.
While it is discouraging to look at the news, the reality is that there is great cause to be inspired, because there is a method and a way to overcome all of this, whether on a collective scale or on an individual scale, which is more important.
We have been very blessed. There are methods and instructions and teachings that can really change us, and it does not require any belief. Through experimentation, through practice, through verification from experience, we can lessen our suffering and have a clarity and an insight by which to help others. This science is meditation.
To be specific, meditation is not a technique. It is not spacing out or entering into a state of relaxation. All these [calming the body, heart, and mind] are preliminary. Meditation is a state of being, a state of consciousness that is not conditioned at all, that knows how to see and perceive life, reality, in a state of clarity, precision, understanding, with wisdom, with intelligence, with love. This is the essential quality you find in all the great masters of humanity, from any religion, who embody this ideal. They all taught in their synthesis how to access the essential nature of our consciousness, because right now, the reason we are afflicted is because we have many desires, many beliefs, that are split.
It is a fracturing. We are fragmented, and if you don’t believe me, we can simply perform a practice in which we examine a moment in our day. Perhaps we have a conflict or a trial, a chaotic moment, in which we feel that our mind, our heart and our body are torn in many directions. The reality is we do not have a singular purpose of will, of direction, because perhaps somebody criticizes us at work, or we simply watch television to see what is going on in the political world, and we have many reactions that emerge in a single instant. We may be filled with anger, the thoughts of resentment towards a certain person. We may feel fear and pulled towards fight or flight, possibly even despair. This is a moment in which we can see multiple reactions, multiple states of conflicted wills.
All meditative traditions teach if you want to enter a profound state of serenity and understanding, your will has to be one, perfected, sharp, without any type of obscuration or filter. We call that conditioned sense of self, or desire or will, ego. That is the Latin term for “I, me, myself.” Meditation teaches us how to look at what we are, who we are, without judgment, without labeling, without prejudice, but simply, look at the self, at these different wills, these impulses.
The Universality of Meditation
Meditation has been known by many names. भावना Bhavana in Sanskrit means “mental development” or “becoming.” भव Bhava, in Buddhism, we hear भावचक्र Bhavachakra, the wheel of being, which is a map of different states of consciousness within Tibetan Buddhism especially, which has its symbolic representation in the West in the Jewish tradition of Kabbalah, which we will talk about today.
We have the term ध्यान Dhyan or Dhyana which means “to see, to perceive.” This is where we get words like 禅 Chan Buddhism in Chinese or 禅 Zen in Japan.
Contemplation in the early tradition of the church fathers was known by the Latin term meditatri, meditation, contemplation.
Amongst the Sufis of the mystical tradition of Islam, they refer to it as fikrat: serene reflection, serene perception, which is the synthesis of meditation.
Meditation is Direct Experience
A lot of people think that meditation is simply being calm. It is a necessary step and a beautiful thing when we have a state of equanimity and stillness that is so deep that we rest from thought, from emotion, and from impulse, from the body. That is the groundwork by which you can really enter the highest teachings of meditation, which is a state of perception, to receive information about a given phenomenon, whether it be from a scripture, a book, about reality, about ourselves.
That state of reflection, of gaining new knowledge, that aha moment, of understanding, has been known by the term witnessing amongst the Sufis. In Islam they have a very beautiful teaching in their doctrine that is very misunderstood. They pronounce what is called the Shahada (الشهادة). In order to become Muslim, you say:
لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا ٱللَّٰهُ مُحَمَّدٌ رَسُولُ ٱللَّٰهِ
La ilaha illa Allah, Muhammadun rasul-ul-llah.
“There is no God but God and Muhammad is His prophet.”
In reality, the Arabic term, شهادة Shahada means to witness: مشاهدة mushahada. It means to see divinity, which is not outside, but inside. To bear witness of something, like in a court of law, you have seen it, you have verified it, you have experienced it, and therefor you have no doubt. There is no belief. There is no ambiguity. There is no conflict of interest. We simply know, and therefore if we bear witness that there really is God, and Krishna is His prophet, Buddha is His prophet, Moses, and many masters like Jesus, were His prophets, it is because we have seen it for ourselves, within.
So to really understand meditation, of course, we first have to relax, that is the first step. But it is much deeper than that. We will talk about these stages themselves.
But it can be very difficult now, in these times, especially if you live in Chicago, which is where I am from, where literally you see all sorts of violence being perpetuated throughout the country. We see the state of different cities and countries that are in uprising. They are afflicted with great injustices, whether material and even psychological. It is easy to say we really live in unprecedented times, but the reality is that “there is nothing new under the sun,” to quote Solomon from the Bible. Everything repeats. Life is cyclical. Habits are ingrained. The reality is that while these crises that is afflicting this planet are intense and becoming more severe, as I said, it should not surprise us that this is happening.
If we examine our mind, and if we are very sincere, we realize, with great discomfort, that we have many elements, psychologically speaking, that are destructive. We may not believe that, but the question is: have we looked inside of ourselves to examine our own anger, our own fear, our own pride, our own avarice?—qualities that we like to externalize and blame others of possessing in abundance, but in reality, if we are sincere, we see that we have that inside. That can be very disconcerting, very uncomfortable, but that is the reality.
Humanity, you can see according to history, operates in cycles. There have been many plagues that have afflicted humanity, whether in Europe, whether influenza. There have been many times in history in which diseases have sprouted and killed many people. But we have the arrogance today to believe that somehow, we are special, that this has never happened before. While this is a terrible reality and does not, in any way diminish or devalue the suffering of people, it is a reflection of a cosmic law. In Buddhism we call it संसार Samsara: cycling, returning, repeating. While this happens on a global scale, in our daily life, which is a snapshot, a microcosm, a picture of humanity itself, we find that we have habits and behaviors and ways of being that we repeat. This is something that we should examine, that we should question.
Self-Governance is Real Freedom
Governments have always tried to fix these problems, but they have always failed. The reality is no government, no institution, can change the individual. To quote Krishnamurti, we have to govern ourselves. If we as an individual being were to follow laws of ethics, of compassion, of kindness, of tolerance, of patience, then society would reflect that. But we find that our political institutions and governments smother the problem. They do not know or teach the way for the individual to change, for there to be real equity in humanity.
I would like to read for you an excerpt from a book by Samael Aun Weor, who is the founder of the modern Gnostic tradition. The Greek term γνῶσις gnosis means “knowledge,” and as we are explaining meditation, it is knowledge from experience, without deviation into belief or theory. He wrote in a book called The Great Rebellion about the nature of genuine freedom, what this means for our meditation practice. I will read for you at length:
“The meaning of freedom is something that has not yet been understood by humanity.
"Always presented more or less erroneously, very serious mistakes have been made about the concept of freedom.
“Certainly, we struggle for a word. We come to absurd conclusions; we commit all types of atrocities and shed blood on the battlefields.
“The word freedom is fascinating, the whole world relishes it. Nevertheless, we have not grasped a real understanding of the term, and there is confusion regarding this word.
“It is impossible to find a dozen people for whom the word freedom means the same thing, in the same way.
“The term freedom will never be understandable by subjective rationalism (meaning the conditions of our thinking, our habits, our behaviors).
“Everyone has different ideas about this term; people’s subjective opinions are totally devoid of objective reality.
“When the question of freedom is propounded, in each mind there is incoherence, vagueness, and incongruity (meaning there is no singular purpose of will; there are many multiple theories and beliefs).
“I am sure that even Immanuel Kant, author of Critique of Pure Reason and Critique of Practical Reason, never analyzed this word to find its exact meaning.
“Freedom, a lovely word, a beautiful term: so many crimes have been committed in its name! (Think of the French Revolution, at least one million people were killed in that event alone.)
“Unquestionably, the term freedom has hypnotized the masses. The mountains and valleys, the rivers and seas have been tainted with the blood conjured up by this magical word.
“How many flags, how much blood, and how many heroes have come to pass in the course of history whenever the question of freedom has been posed in life’s scenario? (Literally America has been founded on the genocide of Native American people, the enslavement of others.)
“Unfortunately, after achieving independence at such a high price, enslavement continues to exist within each of us.
“Who is free? How many have attained this famous freedom? How many have been emancipated? Alas, alas, alas!
“Adolescents long for freedom. It seems incredible that while having food, clothing, and shelter they should want to flee their homes in the pursuit of freedom.
“It is incongruous that a teenage boy who has everything he needs at home is willing to run away, to escape from his abode, fascinated with the term freedom. Strangely, despite enjoying all the comforts of a happy home, he is ready to risk everything he has to travel the world and even come to grief. It is right that the pariahs in life, the outcasts of society, the poor should be eager to quit the slums and hovels in order to seek a change for the better. Yet, the spoiled child, the mama’s boy, in search of a way out, is paradoxical and even an absurdity. However, this is how it is. The word freedom fascinates and enchants, although no one is able to define it precisely.
“It is logical that a young girl wants freedom, longs to move away from home, to marry in order to escape from under the parental roof and lead a better life. This is in part due to her right to be a mother. Nevertheless, once married, she finds she is not free, and with resignation she must bear the shackles of slavery.
“A worker, tired of so many regulations, wants to be free. Even if he achieves independence, he soon encounters the problem of continuing to be a slave to his own interests and concerns.
“Certainly, each time that we fight for freedom we are disappointed, despite victory.
“So much blood is shed pointlessly in the name of freedom while we continue to be slaves of ourselves and of others.
“People fight for words they will never understand, although dictionaries give them the grammatical explanations.
“Freedom is something that can only be achieved within ourselves. No one can achieve it outside of themselves.
“‘Riding through the air,’ is a very Eastern phrase which allegorizes the sense of genuine freedom.
“No one can really experience freedom while their consciousness remains bottled up inside of the me, myself, the ‘I.’” —Samael Aun Weor, The Great Rebellion
So this sense of self we mentioned, ego, is a condition, a shell, that traps our real potential. There is more to us than our language, our names, our culture, our customs, our habits. The essential nature of our being is consciousness, which is altruism, love, happiness, philanthropy, patience, etc., which is the opposite of the self.
“Understanding the myself, ‘my persona, what I am,’ is imperative if we sincerely wish to attain freedom.
“There is no way we can destroy the fetters of our enslavement without previously and totally comprehending this question of ‘mine’ and all that concerns the me, myself, the ‘I.’ What constitutes slavery? What is it that keeps us enslaved? What are the obstacles? We must discover all of this.
“Rich and poor, believers and nonbelievers (we could also say, Democrats and Republicans, whomever, Buddhist, Christian), all are actually prisoners, although they consider themselves to be free.
“We will remain imprisoned, as long as the consciousness, the Essence, the most dignified and decent part within us, remains bottled up inside of the me, myself, the “I”—in our cravings and fears, in our desires and passions, our preoccupations and our violence, and in our psychological defects.
“The sense of freedom can only be fully understood when we have annihilated the shackles of our very own psychological incarceration.” —Samael Aun Weor, The Great Rebellion
It is very easy to see that we are a slave to what other people think. If they say something negative about our appearance, our habits, our behaviors, we react with anger, with resentment, with pride. It means that any person can push our button and make us react exactly as they want. However, if you comprehend in yourself your own anger and eliminate it, you have serenity. This is why beings like Jesus, when he was being tortured, horribly crucified, was able to say with love, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34)
“While the ‘I’ exists, the consciousness remains imprisoned. Escaping from that prison is only possible through Buddhist Annihilation (it’s a term that means the dissolution or) dissolving the self, reducing it to ashes, to cosmic dust.” —Samael Aun Weor, The Great Rebellion
This is symbolized in many traditions, such as Jesus being on the cross in his Passion, to die to what is impure so that he can be resurrected as a soul, as a perfected being. So, while he literally existed in the past, it also represents something allegorical for us in this individual work of meditation.
“The liberated consciousness, devoid of the ‘I,’ absolutely absent of ego, without desires, without passions, without cravings and fears, directly experiences true freedom.
“Any idea we might have about freedom is not freedom. Those opinions that we hold about freedom are far from reality. The ideas that we form on the subject of freedom have nothing to do with genuine freedom (meaning: the experience. You can read about it, but as in terms of a living concrete fact—it is very distinct).
“Freedom is something that has to be experienced directly, and that is only possible by dying psychologically, dissolving the “I,” ending the me, myself forever.
“It would do no good to continue dreaming about freedom if we continue being slaves.
“It would be better to take a look at ourselves as we really are, carefully observing the fetters of slavery that keep us imprisoned.
“Knowing ourselves, seeing what we are inside, we shall discover the door to authentic freedom.” —Samael Aun Weor, The Great Rebellion
And in synthesis we can state:
“In life, the only thing of importance is a radical, total and definitive change. The rest, frankly, is of no importance at all.” —Samael Aun Weor, The Great Rebellion, “Meditation”
Genuine Spirituality is Based on Facts
So meditation teaches us how to gather that knowledge so that we can really go deep into our psychology and to change in a real way, a permanent way, a lasting way. In today’s era we live, we can say, in a period of information. We can find knowledge about any type of study on the internet alone. But it is also true that we live in an era of misinformation. While we have access to knowledge we have never been privy to before, we still continue to be confused.
It is ironic, right? We have more knowledge and more information than we have ever possessed, and yet we are more conflicted, more divisive, and in more suffering than we have ever been.
The reality is we need to develop a type of consciousness that has to do with wisdom and not knowledge. Intellectual knowledge is necessary to a point. What matters is the quality of our heart, our ways of being, and so in our studies of meditation, we develop our knowledge of ourselves. We call it gnosis, experiential wisdom about the causes of suffering. Of course, it has nothing to do with theory, with beliefs, with concepts, because we can think that we are a certain way, but if you observe in a very difficult moment of life, the facts emerge. Right? I am sure we have all had an experience where somebody said something really negative to us, or we had a very traumatic moment in which we acted in a way that we did not like. We later reflected and said, “How did I think, feel and behave that way?” Those are the facts. Those are the concrete experiences that show us what we can work on, so we can really develop altruism and compassion and serenity: all these virtues that are really beautiful and our true nature. This is why no amount of theory or belief can change anyone.
“Gnosis is lived upon facts, withers away in abstractions, and is difficult to find even in the noblest of thoughts.” —Samael Aun Weor, The Revolution of the Dialectic
I know that a lot of people, especially approaching many of the world’s events of today, have a lot of conspiracies about what is going on, but rather than focus on any type of external phenomena, it is better if we ask the question, “How does our mind conspire against us?” So, I love this image of a hand holding up a puppet or puppets, which we can associate with either political party or whatever anyone believes, but the reality is that if we have ego, and our government and politicians have ego, then obviously there is going to be fights and conflict, and no type of harmony negotiated at all. Our mind needs to be free of any concepts about life, but rather to just examine with our soul.
Samael Aun Weor states the following in Igneous Rose:
“There is the need to liberate the mind from every type of school, religion, sect, political party, concept of mother country, flag, prejudice, desire, and fear. There is the need to liberate the mind from the process of rationalization. There is the need to change the process of rationalization for comprehension.” —Samael Aun Weor, Igneous Rose
Comprehension is very different from thinking. You do not necessarily have to label anything with the intellect. You simply know it, like you put your hand on a hot stove; it gets burned. That is a form of gnosis, of knowledge, that if you do that again you get hurt, and then you later think “That was very painful.” So that is the mind. The mind is slower than our other capacities as a consciousness. So, there is a very stark difference there.
Freedom has to do with transforming our internal state in the moment, where we are at here and now. This is why all meditative traditions teach mindfulness, awareness, watchfulness: to gather data, to look at the facts of our own behaviors and not to conceptualize anything, but to simply look. It does not require thinking there, and that is how we cut away from the abstractions, from the philosophy, from the theology, from the theories, and we get to what is practical.
Ashtanga Yoga: The Eight Steps of Meditation
So we will talk about, in synthesis, what meditation is really about, what it involves. This is from the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, who was a great master of meditation. In synthesis we have eight profound steps. It is better said if we call them principles. It does not mean that, like a check list, you are going to go through each one: “First I need you to do this, followed by this step, and then next” in a mechanical way. These are very living things, principles, qualities of being, which if you follow in sequence and are really diligent about establishing them in your life, you will find that you will have a great clarity by which to understand any problem that you are suffering and the ways to change it.
The beginning is yama. These are Sanskrit terms. Yama means “restraint.” It means to restrain the mind. So you are at work or you are with a friend, and someone says something very negative, maybe even political (obviously there is a lot of debate going on today), you feel anger come up, thoughts of “You should not think that! You should not say that” or whatever reactions we feel in that instant, and if we restrain that impulse—not repressing it, not hiding it, not judging it, but simply with your attention direct it in yourself—you see it for what it is, and that if you really act this way, to speak these words of anger, is obviously going to make the other person angry.
In the moment you restrain yourself, you do not act on that behavior, because it is going to create conflict, perhaps even split friendships, cause divorces, and many other problems.
Restraint is the beginning. First: retraining your egotistical reactions to life with your consciousness, and that is a state of comprehension in which you see, “If I act as a soul on this lower animal desire, it is going to create problems.”
But that is not enough. We have to follow what is known as niyamas, precepts. In every meditative tradition and any religion, they teach you: be kind, be patient, be compassionate. Forgive your neighbor. Put other people’s needs first before your own. Show philanthropy. Accept when you are wrong with humility. These are all precepts and virtuous qualities that you find in every scripture, without exception.
It is not enough to restrain bad behaviors. It is necessary to enact good behaviors. This is something only you can judge in yourself, moment by moment. You can memorize the Bhagavad Gita, the Qur’an, the New Testament, the Old Testament, whatever scriptures inspire you, but knowing that knowledge of virtue does not mean you are enacting it. So the knowledge is different, but the application of it is wisdom.
I know many people that approach meditation, and they become very morbid because they see a lot of negativity within themselves, and they suffer and they want to get out of it, but they are not reflecting on the virtuous qualities of their consciousness, of their Being, of their divinity. So it is important not to reflect just on the bad, but to contemplate your virtues, those profound ethics of the soul.
When you have really worked hard at developing restraint and following these precepts in your actions, your asana becomes perfected. It is easy to see if you act on anger and you drain your mind and your heart, deplete your body of energy from getting into an argument, it is very difficult to sit. You cannot sit still. You cannot relax. Your body is tense, filled with pain, discomfort. This is why yama and niyama are essential. If you want your body to be able to obey you and relax at will, you have to learn to act ethically.
So it is important when you are practicing meditation that you pick an asana that works for you. It does not have to be full lotus, half lotus. If you are that flexible, great. Personally, I am obviously more of a western style person. I sit in a chair. You can even lie down on your back if you have the stability of attention not to fall asleep, because that is the important thing. Your body can relax but your consciousness is awake, is vigilant, attentive.
Pranayama: Energy Work
Once you have found your posture, you can work with energy. In our tradition, we have many exercises to work with energy. Energy is essential to life. We find many forms within our body. If you have studied Hinduism or yoga, they teach you all about the chakras, which are vortices or wheels of vital force that circulate in a subtle form in our body. In our glands, there is energy that flows, and there are certain practices you can use, whether they be through prayer or sacred sounds called mantras. You vocalize or you pray. You can work with energy in your body, circulate it, get it flowing, so that those channels of force, like the chakras, open. Then you can have greater stability of mind, since it helps you to concentrate, helps you to focus.
Everything we do in life, there is energy involved. “Wherever we direct attention, we expend creative energy,” says Samael Aun Weor, the founder of our tradition. So if you have no energy there, if you waste it on anger and pride, and lust especially, desire, you have no energy by which to work. Your consciousness is depleted. You cannot drive your car. You mind will be dull, will be out of fuel. This is why in every level and moment of our life we seek to conserve energy, conserve emotional energy, conserve mental energy, conserve vital energy, in all forms.
In this way when you have energy, your mind will start to calm, and this is where the crux of meditation begins to really unfold. We call it pratyahara. It means “suspension of the senses,” “to withdraw.” So you can be seated. You can be in a meditation posture. You can work with energy itself, and in those moments you start to find that, with profundity of application and will, you start to withdraw your mind, your senses, from the external world.
Everything goes inside. It is like the flow or ebb of a river that is going towards one source and then the rest dries up. You just focus on your interior. You forget the world. Many people do not get to this point. They do not get past the body. There is an itch, a discomfort. You want to move. You are in pain, and the reality is that you have to forget the body is even there if you really want to go profoundly into meditation. Forget the body. First take care of it. Treat it well. Relax, and when you are really working with your energies, you do not pay attention to anything outside. You go within. There is a stillness there, which, when it is really profound, is the fulcrum by which meditation is experienced, the state of understanding.
When there is silence of mind, when you withdraw from the senses, you can really concentrate on something. These are the preliminaries of meditation that get really interesting. So when your senses are calm and you are relaxed, you can direct your attention at one thing.
Even at this stage there seems to be a lot of difficulty for people, because our mind is all over the place. We are thinking of many things. We are distracted. We have associative thoughts: good, bad; yes, no. We think of a friend that we talked to earlier in the day and what they said, and that brings on a whole discussion in our mind, and then our mind is just replaying the day, but it is foggy. It is dull. There is no clarity or crispness there.
Real concentration knows how to look at one object, focus, and not get distracted. In many traditions, they teach you how to take a stone or a candle, to observe a flame or to do a mantra, a sacred sound, and just focus on that one thing at exclusion of everything. If you are sincere, in the beginning you find you cannot focus on that object. Your mind starts doing other things, so you got to gently refocus yourself. Bring it back to that one object of concentration.
I suggest that when you begin a meditation, whatever your focus is, stick to it. If it is just to concentrate on the candle flame, just do that one thing. Then the trick is when you get distracted, bring yourself back. It is not forceful. It is not violent. You are not gagging the mind. You are gently redirecting your attention, to the focus. The Buddha Shakyamuni stated that if you forget yourself a thousand times and you remember a thousand times to return to the practice, it means that you have practiced really well. So when you are able to concentrate on one thing, then you can really enter meditation itself.
So all this is just preliminary. Meditation is when you are able to extract information about that object. For example, maybe you are concentrating on a scripture you read, or a book. You want to understand a certain verse or line. You read it. You reflect on it. You enter the stages of meditation. You relax, withdraw, and concentrate on that meaning. In meditation you can have experiences, in which the senses are shut down, but internally, as a consciousness, you experience, such as in dreams, different forms of knowledge that are inaccessible to the senses. Some people call it lucid dreaming, out of body experiences, dream yoga, astral projection. It is when your body goes to sleep, but you as a consciousness are fully lucid, and so you abandon your physicality and you enter the internal worlds, your inner psyche.
Then you can start to get knowledge about things that certain prophets wrote about, that they hinted at, but not many of them really spoke openly about the meaning. That is how you really get knowledge. That is real wisdom. In that state, you can talk directly with divinity just as I am talking to you—nothing vague there, nothing amorphous, nothing ambiguous. It is a clean, clear, pristine state of being in which you can gain information.
Even beyond meditation there is one more step. This is the synthesis of everything. When your consciousness is fully lucid and focused, as receiving information, you can escape from the limitations of your mind and any type of conditioning that has kept you in suffering and pain, etc. You escape. You get out of it. That consciousness gets extracted from the ego.
I’m sure you are familiar with the story of Aladdin and his lamp. That lamp is your ego and the Genie, the Djinn, an Arabic term for spirit or an enlightened being, you could say, is your own wisdom, your consciousness. You break the lamp. You destroy the ego permanently, then the Genie is free. You can perform miracles. This is where you get figures like Moses and many prophets performing supernormal things, because they liberated their consciousness from conditioning. They are able to control nature even. Very powerful and beautiful.
The Tree of Life: A Map of Being
But there is more than just examining those eight stages. There are a lot of principles involved. When you are having those experiences with divinity, you can study what is called the Tree of Life.
On the right you see a map of ten spheres. From the top you have the most rarefied states of being, which are very divine. Notice in this glyph you have three trinities. Kabbalah in Jewish mysticism, this map, this Tree of Life, is really an expression of us and our totality, in the multidimensionality of our being. It is a road map for who we are and where we are at and where we need to go. So any experience in meditation can be mapped by any one of these spheres.
On the top trinity we have qualities of being and consciousness that are extremely divine, beyond our comprehension at this level. It has to do with what religions call Father, Son, Holy Spirit in Christianity. In Hebrew we call it כֶּתֶר Kether, חָכְמָה Chokmah, בִּינָה Binah, which means “Crown,” “Wisdom” and “Intelligence.” This is the supremacy, the wisdom and intelligence of divinity, which is inside our true nature, liberated, and is with us here and now. We just do not perceive it because we have so much other conditioning that we see represented by these lower spheres.
Beneath that we have חֶסֶד Chesed, גְּבוּרָה Geburah, תִּפְאֶרֶת Tiphereth, or you could say “Mercy,” “Justice,” and “Beauty.” We could say is our inner divine spark, our inner Buddha we could say, our divine soul and our human soul, our human will. It is the beautiful action of a perfected being, and we are really a part of that. Part of us, known as the consciousness, emanates from this sphere, תִּפְאֶרֶת Tiphereth, and descends down into the lower conditioned states of being: נצח Netzach (Victory), הוד Hod (Splendor), יְסוֹד Yesod (Foundation) and מלכות Malkuth (Kingdom).
מלכות Malkuth is the physical world that we live in. יְסוֹד Yesod is our vital energy, sometimes known as the etheric world, the vital world. It is where we have all the forces that animate our body. If you study the Kirlian camera, amongst Russian scientists, they even take pictures of people, stones’ and animals’ aura. So the vital force is יְסוֹד Yesod, which is the aura, the living being. We have הוד Hod which relates to our emotions, נצח Netzach relating to our mind. This is a beautiful map of meditation because it teaches us that if our will power, our consciousness, is conditioned by thought, by feeling and by desire, instincts, it means that we are attached, not only to our physical body, but even to lower realms of being.
The map that is below is called the tree of death. It is the shadow of the Tree of life. It is known as the hell realms. So you can call this map a reference point of external realities and even our internal states. There is a relationship there, different dimensions of expression and being. Above we have superior levels. Below we have inferior ones.
In our moment to moment awareness, from our birth to our death, we have an opportunity in this instant in which to ascend. This is why we do practices of concentration, prayer, meditation. All these things help us to purify this will, that is at the center of the Tree of Life, so that we can obey and follow our own divinity within. This sphere תִּפְאֶרֶת Tiphereth, in Hebrew meaning beauty, is the essence. It is the beauty of our soul that knows how to act uprightly. But unfortunately for us, we are conditioned by negative thoughts, negative feelings, and negative impulses, desires.
So we have many books and courses that explain this glyph in great detail and I invite you to study them. But in synthesis, this is just the map of who we are and where we need to go and what we need to do.
Types of Meditation
There are also two very profound principles we have touched upon. In some schools they talk about stabilizing and analytical meditation and often refer to both of them as complimentary.
When you are working to concentrate your will on one thing, you are learning to stabilize the mind. You are developing serenity. You are developing focus and equanimity. It is when you can look at something clearly without wavering at all. We call that faculty, in the Gnostic tradition, concentration. In Buddhism they call it shamatha. Amongst the Sufis they call it silence, in which your mind does not talk.
I am sure when we practice meditation today you probably experienced a chain of thought and thinking, even at a very subtle level. When you learn to go deep, you can enter states in which there is no thought involved and you are able to focus on one thing without distraction. That can stabilize our attention and there are many practices to do that.
But there is another skill we need to develop to really enter meditation. We call it imagination. Imagination is the ability to receive non-physical imagery. So when I related to you certain examples, talking about having inner experiences, like you have dreams, those are forms of images that exist in your mind, in your interior. They are real. They exist. The problem is that we tend to go through that inner world without any awareness of it and not discriminating what is really real or conditioned or unconditioned by our own egotism.
It is easy to see that we have dreams of hatred and violence. We are projecting our own mind into that world. But if you learn to pay attention and clarify your perception, you can perceive those worlds, that Tree of Life, as it is, in its real, fundamental expression. When you are able to imagine, amongst concentration, the ability to visualize certain images, you develop the full dynamism and potential of the consciousness.
So imagination in us tends to be very conditioned. If I say, “imagine an apple” (snaps fingers) you can see it. It is not physical, but it is internal. That same capacity, when it is developed intentionally, whether you take a candle and visualize a flame or something really difficult and ornate, like a Buddhist mandala or painting, something very intricate, that develops the capacity of the consciousness to perceive with great depth, with great width and clarity.
In Buddhism, they call that faculty, Vipassana. Amongst the Sufis it is insight. When you combine those two faculties, concentration and imagination, you can really enter meditation.
So we need both. We need the ability to stabilize the consciousness so that it is calm, but then we also need the ability to see, and that is insight. When you combine the two, you gain knowledge. That is how you really enter the higher stages of real religion, of mystical experience. I know these are very synthetic principles. They are very deep and you could basically spend a lot of time studying what these practically entail. We have a lot of resources that you can research on your own. We have courses. We have books that talk about all of these principles in depth. I wanted to just survey them and provide an outline, so that you have a picture of where to start.
So whether you are interested in learning basic concentration or equanimity, you can study courses like Meditation Essentials and Meditation without Exertion on Glorian.org. We also have some courses on chicagognosis.org, one of them based on Gnostic principles, Gnostic Meditation, and even Sufism; we are giving a course about meditation taught within the Sufi teachings, the mystical teachings of Islam [See Sufi Principles of Meditation]. These outline for you how to develop concentration, serenity and insight.
We also have some books you can study as well to learn the basics of self-reflection: Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology and The Great Rebellion by Samael Aun Weor are perfect for this. You can learn the basics of how to examine, observe yourself, so that you can begin to gain knowledge and enter the path that is culminating in meditation. You can also study The Elimination of Satan’s Tail and The Revolution of the Dialectic, as well. These are very profound books, very practical.
If you have any questions, I invite you to ask them.
Questions and Answers
Question: Being in a time of an election year and all these things going on and we really need to separate ourselves from all these different concepts, is the goal to be passive with all this stuff and not be involved, and sit back and observe what is going on in the world and not get identified with it?
Instructor: Sure. I would state the important thing is not to identify psychologically. Whatever a person believes politically, that is a personal choice. But the important thing is to approach this situation with clarity. It does not mean we necessarily have to belong to any party, either one or the other, or take a middle stance. You know personally, I do not really get involved in politics, because you see the type of behavior that is being propagated, and the confusion and the anger and the resentment that people feel. I think the important thing to remember is that regardless of anyone’s political beliefs, in these studies we like to be more effective.
Regardless of anyone we vote for or who you favor or whatever we believe in, the important thing is that we have a good heart. We change our own psychological states, because the world is going to be what it is going to be. I know we like to think we have a lot of agency in our political system, but I think a lot of people are realistic in saying that these things are going to happen regardless, because you see the state of humanity. People on an individual scale are not changing, and so, what result can we expect? And that is the fundamental irony of people, being shocked by what is happening, because this is just the consequence of wrong action on a global scale from everybody.
I invite us to really reflect upon our own psychological states, because that is something we can change. That is something we can alter and remedy. But the direction of this country and humanity, in a sense, we have to be humble, to accept there are certain things that we cannot change, but there are certain things that we can do. That is better evaluated on an individual basis.
Question: From what I have learned through time from this Gnostic tradition, I have noticed that sexual alchemy is not the central practice—meditation is. Alchemy is more like the foundation of a practice. So the question is: Buddhist and Hindu traditions are the only religions that teach how to meditate. Why have the religions in the West not spread this light? Why did Jesus teach only how to believe in him and why did Muhammad teach only how to believe in Allah? And Moses mainly taught how to follow laws and nothing about meditation. Why is that?
Instructor: That is a good question. The reality is that they all taught it. If you look at the different traditions that developed in their original sources, their scriptures, the reality is they all taught the same thing. You study the Sufi teachings of Al-Qushayri, Al-Hujwiri, Rumi, many other Muslim mystics, they all, even Ibn ‘Arabi especially, they all teach meditation, but maybe not as explicitly as we find today.
The path of Jesus is the path of meditation, especially. He taught by fasting forty days and forty nights in the wilderness, how to overcome your own devil, the mind.
We find meditation in all teachings. The problem is that due to the cultural palate of certain people, they adulterated, they sterilized, they castrated the teaching. So people adulterate the wisdom of the prophets with time and therefore the religions of today do not resemble anything they used to. Now there are certain remnants we can pick and extract and gain knowledge from, and this is important. But it is important to remember that these religions and teachings have died. The form is what is left. The essence and the spirit have long left these traditions. You find this cyclically repeated in this humanity or humanities and different cultures.
Every religion has a birth, life and death. Comes to mind even a saying by a certain Sufi mystic in Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism, this is around 1000 AD. He said, “In this time Sufism is dead.” So back then even that tradition had long been eclipsed, because these traditions have life and are sustained based on the qualities of the practitioners. Divinity works in different places and times and periods, and reinitiates that effort among different faiths throughout the course of history, because time, with exposure to humanity, obviously people’s interpretations and conditions of mind pollute the original doctrine. This is why Jesus said, “Beware the leaven of the scribes and Pharisees” (Matthew 16:6) who take the original bread of knowledge and inflate it so that it is more palatable and “tasty” to the public. The reality is nobody likes the original teachings of the mystics and the meditators and the prophets, because it goes contrary to what people believe. But if you really examine, in synthesis, what these different traditions teach, they all teach meditation, but in different ways.
You find meditation in Kabbalah, in the Jewish mystical traditions. You find it in Sufism. You find it in the Bible. But of course with time, people take out what they do not like. So I do not know, maybe we can say in the West we like to be hyperactive and not really sit still in the moment. In the East, a lot more people, as part of the culture, practice meditation. So we study all traditions in synthesis.
Question: When meditating on an ego, what is the best way to visualize it during meditation in order to comprehend it?
Instructor: So for those of you who are not familiar with that type of meditation, we call it psychoanalysis, where you are sitting and performing these preliminary steps: relaxing, working with energy, withdrawing your senses, concentrating upon your consciousness and even your inner divinity, your Being. You can also imagine. We practice what is called retrospection meditation.
You visualize in a day, with your vision itself, what happened. Perhaps you had a moment at work in which you faced a conflict. In that work, you saw certain reactions emerge that work together. Maybe it was anger, resentment, pride and fear. Four different egos you could say, different senses of self, different wills, manifested in you as you were observing your mind, your heart and your body. In the day you were gathering data about those qualities as they emerged. But when you are sitting to meditate and go deeper, to gain more understanding, you can just simply look at those states. Visualize what happened, and the trick is when you start to visualize that scene, your ego, your defects, will start to emerge. They will want to feed on that memory. They will want to repeat those behaviors and thoughts and desires, etc. You have to separate enough from yourself that you can look at that internal mechanism and to see it for what it is.
When you are concentrating and visualizing, you look and you examine the taste of that conditioned self. You have to look at the flavor it brings into your mind, but have enough separation that you do not identify. If you identify with resentment, pride, fear, anger, you get sucked into memories and then you are not even meditating any more. You are just lost in a chaos. You are just churning with those sentiments.
So the best visualization, obviously, occurs in levels. You have to follow your heart in terms of what you need to study. Your conscience will tell you what you need to work on. If you feel that anger was a big problem in your moment to moment experience, focus on that and look at it. You can pray to your inner divinity to help you understand. We call that divinity the Divine Mother, the feminine aspect of our inner Being, symbolized by Mary and many other feminine figures in world mythologies. She is a part of us that helps us work on those faults. You can pray to Her and ask Her show you about this particular ego you need to understand. If you really go deep and you are concentrating very profoundly, you can have an experience in the astral world or the internal world of dreams. Your Divine Mother will show you what this ego is, how it works, what it looks like, what are its thoughts, and you will intuit the meaning if you are very vigilant. You will know and understand where it came from, why it behaves, what it does, how it feeds, how it sustains itself, how it relates to other aggregates and different egos.
The best visualization is going to be based on your conscience. Follow your heart. If you feel you need to focus on a specific ego, one by one, do that. And focus and ask your divinity to help you understand. The next step is just do not identify with it. Do not feed it. Do not give it your energy, because when you start to conserve your energy and not spend it on negative behaviors, it is like starving a lion. So obviously, anger and fear and all these different defects are going to come up in your life wanting to feed, because you are starving them. They are starting to get weak. So look at the ego and have a receptive mind. Wait for the answer, and when you are really in a state of silence and insight, the experience will unfold on its own.
This is the magic and beauty of meditation. It is never the same moment by moment. There are always different experiences that reflect a huge range, an infinite range, of experiences, but that is the result. When you gain insight, you may ask for elimination, to remove that ego, when you really understood what it is, how it works, how it traps you, how it repeats. Pray to your Divine Mother and visualize that defect to be killed, and then you free the soul that is trapped in it gradually, little by little, as your comprehension goes deeper. I hope that answers your question.
Question: So you were explaining earlier about freedom and the way you were explaining it also reminds me of what is going on in life right now, for example looting and stealing. So where I am coming from is, the people who are committing these atrocities, right, they are acting for freedom, but in reality it is fear. So how can we even identify? Like, you said you see these people that are doing these things, they are the extension of who we are already, so how come within us, how can we identify the sense of freedom with the sense of fear and discern that and act accordingly?
Instructor: Sure. Gnosis is lived upon facts, withers away from distractions, from theories and beliefs, and it is difficult to find in even the noblest of thoughts. The way that you are going to figure out what is from the soul and what is from the ego, what is fear and desire, what is true from what is false, is by looking. It means that we approach our mind and our heart without trying to label what we see. You will learn to discriminate that quality based on experience.
It is not easy to learn how to sift through the mud so that you can find the gold of our soul. It is a qualitative state. Through observation and repeated verification of that state, you find that there are qualities that are pure and conditioned, and sometimes mixed. That is why we meditate so that we can discriminate, because it is not easy in the moment. When you are having a scene in life, or like seeing the looting and violence going on, like in Chicago, where people are screaming for freedom and are destroying so many people’s properties and homes and lives, the abstraction of freedom is not enough.
Real freedom is when you do not act on anger. You have to look at your anger and what it wants and what it thinks, and have the strength to not repress it, to hide from it, or justify it. But when you look at it with clarity, meaning, you are seeing it for what it is, you notice how your own anger wants to feed, how to act. You only learn that through trial and error, by repeatedly training yourself. It takes time and training, and I always say that this superior knowledge is beyond time. You are not looking to the past or future, but it takes experience to verify what is right and what is wrong. You have to follow your conscience, your heart.
I know, for example, when I trained in martial arts for many years, you do not really learn to do the techniques well until after a very long time of just repeated trial and error and even maybe getting hurt.
That is our struggle. We suffer a lot as we are trying to change. But the purpose is not to get discouraged. You are going to feel pain and suffering as a soul by making mistakes. But by repeated effort and struggle against yourself, that is going to take some repeated experience. It is a war, you can say. This is why in Islam they talk about Jihad, holy war, but not against other people, against people who do not follow your faith. It has to do with the struggle against your desires. The only way that you are going to really conquer is if you do not give up. If you just give into anger, then it is very painful. But it is a struggle to learn how to acculturate our mind and heart to taste that quality of being that we know is from God and that is not unfiltered by anything.
If you have doubts about certain experiences or actions you did, and you feel in your heart that there is something you need to investigate, then that is what you need to meditate on. Because that moral pain, the pangs of conscience, the intuition of the heart is what is going to really direct you. Follow that.
Question: So a lot of us are surrounded by people who are acting with fear. So in a practical manner, what is the best way not to scold them, more with comprehension, but how can we aide? Because we are surrounded by them. It could be a family member. It can be a friend. It can be a co-worker. So how can we assist them?
Instructor: Love. It has been demonstrated throughout historical movements, whether Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi, ahimsa: non-violence, is the key. We show violence towards people even with our thoughts. We think that violence only occurs physically, but if you have an argument with someone, you disagree, if you want to coerce someone to think like you, if you create a division whereby, “I am a democrat and you are a republican,” or “I am a Jew and you are a Muslim, or a Buddhist,” Krishnamurti says that is a form of violence, because we are saying that we are separate.
I like what the Dalai Lama said, is that we are all individuals, human beings. We all have the same longing for happiness and the same aversion towards pain. Everyone is like that, regardless of your theological position or beliefs.
We show love for others when we respect their ways of thinking. We may know that they are ignorant, or you may feel that sentiment in a subtle way that wants to say, “Oh, they do not know any better,” and yet we have resentment of our own, that is our problem. Often times we do not reach people and we are not effective because we have our own ego, our own desires that think they know better. That is the problem with abstractions, with the ideologies and ways of thinking that convince us “they are wrong. I am right.” But the reality is that they think the same way. So rather than take a position, you can show them love. But this does not mean that we accept behaviors from their part that are wrong.
It also does not mean that we are forceful, or we are imposing on their free will. Persuasion is much more elegant and eloquent than coercion. Coercion is when you want someone to think like you according to your ideologies. But persuasion is when, from your Being and your conscience, you offer a solution. From that threshold you are offering something as an olive branch to that person, to help them from your heart, and not expecting that they are going to follow it, nor demanding that they do, but simply offering it. That is the type of space that is really powerful. It comes from divinity, from really cultivating that.
We have to respect people’s free will. The reason why this political race and state of humanity is so crazy is because no one respects each other’s will. Everybody thinks they know the answer and therefore they are arguing, debating. Arguments, we can say, are really satanic, honestly—one person against another, who thinks they know better, and their pride is just a big battle. It is violence. It is like watching people box. It is really sad. Instead, the reality is we need to approach a person with love, and that love knows how to set boundaries even for oneself, while respecting the will of the other person. That respect for others only comes when we respect our inner divinity, who knows right from wrong. When you intuit that, you know that, you can offer it to a person.
But you cannot expect that people are going to follow that. Look what happened to Jesus, and he’s a great master, and look what humanity did. So we have to be willing to face the consequences of our ethics. If people do not like it, that is fine. We do not expect that people are going to respect what we have to say, and we have to be fine with that.
Question: Are psychological identification and karmic circumstances the same thing, or is non-identification the way out of our karmic situation into real freedom?
Instructor: Our karma is based on what we do, whether you are identified with the situation or not. So, in strict language, identification has to do with when you, as a consciousness, feel and think and behave that you are the desire, the condition: fear, pride, resentment, anger, laziness, gluttony, whatever defect. The quality of your mind in this moment determines your trajectory, where you go, whether in life or in nature. So if we act with a polluted mind, then obviously we are going to experience pain. But if we act with purity, then the logical consequence is that we bring harmony, in our situation, in our politics, in our humanity, in our life.
Your karma is based on the quality of your mind. You receive what you do. You reap what you sow, in synthesis. So if you want better states and experiences in life, act with ethics. Show compassion. Have love for others even if it hurts, and basically, even Shantideva said it, “All happiness in this life comes from wanting the happiness of others, and all pain in this life occurs because we wish happiness for ourselves.” Simple dynamic, but very profound. It is the essence of Tibetan Buddhism. So if you want better circumstances, act ethically. Do not identify with your egotism, your pride. In fact eliminate it, if you want to have radical changes.
Question: Once you accept yourself from squandering energy, what steps should one take next? When one achieves equilibrium, it can be challenging to accept the sustained energy. Many experiences occur, for instance premonitions, past life experiences, and consistently receiving messages. This can be overwhelming. What can one do to adjust to this new experience instead of being cast out due to the fatigue that arrives, with mitigating the mind’s inability to explain this new experience logically?
Instructor: Be patient. When you have experiences, obviously it can be very alarming. I know when I first started meditating and practicing these kinds of principles, I had a lot of experiences in my dreams, especially, which obviously in the beginning, you can get freaked out, or you can feel like a messiah and be like, “Oh, I know the mysteries of life and death” and tell everybody, right? I suggest that if you find when you are working with energy and you feel perhaps overwhelmed by it, you can minimize that if you need to. It is good to work with energy, but more importantly, it is good to have self-control.
I suggest if you are overwhelmed by these types of things, it is important to learn to, in a simple sense, have fun. You do not have to ruminate over the state of humanity. Being morbid or in a state of suffering is not going to help anybody. Being concerned for humanity—yes. If you are overwhelmed, it is normal in the beginning, but you gain stability through practice. So I suggest meditating on your own discomforts and uneasiness even. But also it is good to have a community of people you can socialize with too, who hopefully study these things and who are spiritually like-minded. Have fun. Relax. It does not mean you are going to go crazy, like drinking, sleeping around, and doing drugs, but just to help settle your mind with healthy and balanced activities. Recreation is a necessary quality to a degree, according to Swami Sivananda. You cannot just be serious. It is good to be serious in this work, but if you become morbid, that is a problem. If you become over agitated, filled with fear or anxiety, it is an issue. So learn to recreate, whether it is painting, sculpting, getting exercise, doing yoga. Some people like to do yoga classes. Meditation is especially helpful. Going out in nature, hiking is especially something I like to do. So it is important.
Question: I have some questions on non-exclusive meditation or Mo-Chao, a few questions about that. In that mode of meditation, is there division between observer and observed? Is there imagination involved when you are just observing in the screen of your mind the images, the thoughts, the conversations, the problems, the preoccupations, and all of that? Would you recommend that we get really good at one-pointed meditation to get better at non-exclusive?
Instructor: Good questions. In synthesis with non-exclusive meditation, you examine your state of mind as it is, which we began our practice today to a degree using that. If you find you are not able to maintain enough stability, to remember that presence, your own innate observation, it is good to return to a concentration practice where you can just focus on an object and let that be your anchor.
Now imagination is in all things. That is a beautiful teaching about consciousness. Every living thing, even the atom, in an electron, sub-atomic particles, have consciousness. This is something that has been verified by quantum physicists. They have studied the behavior of light and that even light makes choices in experiments, depending on who is observing and what is going on. Imagination is the capacity to perceive. So we have imagination at our level.
Now when you are developing imagination with, say, non-exclusive meditation, you are looking in yourself and not dividing yourself, making these separations in yourself about what you are perceiving. That is a very deep, profound state of perception, when you are looking in, which that state of looking is not conflicted between “Am I observing or am I not observing?” because as soon as you do that, then you lose the state. But if you are really deep in that perception, you do not make any false divisions, which Samael Aun Weor states, some people make the mistake of dividing themselves between a superior “I” and an inferior “I,” ignoring that it is two sides of the same coin.
When you are looking at yourself, you do not want to make those divisions. Do not identify when the ego starts to divide itself. It makes the mechanism of superior “I” or inferior “I.” There is division, dualism there. That is the problem. What sees synthetically into the nature of any phenomena is when your consciousness is clear, and you just look at the state of your being, where you are at. But if you find that it is difficult to maintain that continuity, it is important to do concentration exercises to build that.
They call that mindfulness. So people make a blurred definition of mindfulness and awareness, very commonly, today. Awareness is being present in the moment, where you are at, what you are doing, what you are thinking. Paying attention is when you are directing your attention on one thing. Awareness is when you are expanding you consciousness outward and perceiving all the details of life. Mindfulness if the continuity of that perception, in which you do not forget that you are watching. That is vigilance. When your consciousness is not sleeping, you are paying attention. So if you find it difficult to practice non-exclusive meditation where you are just observing what is going on in your mind, you cannot maintain that continuity, then return to concentration. It can help you regroup yourself until you have that stamina, so to speak.
Question: Could you speak a little bit about grief? Because I know a lot of people are suffering and a lot of people have lost loved ones due to COVID or cancer, and when you are in that deep state of grief, it just depletes your energy and you are really kind of thrown off track. How to get yourself back to a state of equanimity?
Instructor: We have many practices in this tradition to help with depression. One of them is relying on prayer, especially. We have a book called Esoteric Medicine and Practical Magic. There are some exercises in which—when we are developing the powers of the consciousness, which is the ability to perceive and to concentrate, to pray and to influence nature—we can work with the souls of plants. We call it elementotherapy. There are ways to work with, for example, the essence or soul, or really the spirit of a plant, you can say.
Now every living thing has consciousness at its level, some in less evolved degrees and some more evolved. Plants have a certain power and potency which is very much studied in Latin American countries, but we have practices in our traditions where we can work with the soul of the rose. Obviously, the rose is a prominent symbol of love and romantic relationships, but people do not understand too that the rose has the power to heal sicknesses. It does not require anything more than taking three roses and placing them in three glass cups, or three glasses of pure water. There is a sequence where you pray to the soul of the plant or your divinity, “Help me to work with the soul of this plant, the rose,” which is like a queen, really, in the elemental kingdom of souls, progressing in their development towards entering a humanoid state. They are very pure and innocent. They are like the purity of Eden. Those souls have not left paradise, so to speak, unlike us.
You drink one glass in the morning, one glass in the afternoon, and one glass in the evening, before dinner, or before each meal, and it simply involves prayer. It is simple. A lot of people might scorn these types of things because they do not really practice it. But I know when I have had emotional traumas and sufferings, I always go to the roses, and this ritual and prayer that you can do which you find in that book, Esoteric Medicine and Practical Magic, [see specifically The Magic of the Roses] because the souls of nature have the power to heal. Each plant in nature has the capacity and the means of channeling certain energies and forces that are conducive for our well-being. You find that type of culture in amongst the indigenous tribes of Latin America, the Maya, the Aztecs, the mamas of the Sierra Nevada, and many other tribes that have ancient traditions, which fortunately we have access to this knowledge.
So the roses are effective for that. I mean I have had moments in my life where I was really traumatized, not only just by maybe losing someone, but facing conflicts in spiritual groups. There is nothing worse that hurts than the spiritual stab, when you are betrayed by groups of people. When I had that happen to me, I worked with the roses, and you know, I am fine. You can heal. You can do the same thing with traumas too.
Question: I have a follow up question. So when it comes to meditation with grief, is grief a defect that we need to meditate on like an ego we need to comprehend, or is it something else, some other part of our experience of life?
Instructor: Good question. There are the pains of the soul and the pains of the ego. The ego of shame or grief is really anger, inverted anger. It may not be directed at other people, but directed inside. So it is a form of self-hatred, which can be very deep. But there are types of sufferings in the soul that are also very profound, which have to be healed if we want to advance.
But a lot of times when people deal with grief, it can be a mixture. You know, obviously, there is that natural grief and sentiment of loss when we as a soul lose someone. Obviously there is that quality of essence there, that consciousness. But sometimes we may feel grief for things that are really inconsequential. It can be inverted anger where it is hatred, but directed at oneself. This is why certain people become suicidal. Their hatred is directed at themselves. Consciousness is not there. Obviously when people commit suicide, it is a great tragedy, but the reality is they have so much self-hatred that they cannot separate from it. But meditation can teach you how to extract the consciousness from those depressive elements so you can see them for what they are. In that way you do not get caught up in that vortex of suffering.
Question: So is grief for someone that we love the problem of attachment? Or is it okay?
Instructor: It can be both. You got to examine your mind, because some, in most cases, most of us are very conditioned by attachments where, you know, we obviously suffer, but it is a natural sentiment of the soul to feel that longing for that person and obviously feel upset, but a lot of our attachments, our psychology, is conditioned. We are 97% conditioned perception. So most of the time, if we lose someone, it is going to be mixed with impurities, with attachments, obviously. We have to love people regardless of if they are with us or not with us, and if we really love a person, we have to be willing to love in accordance with their karma, their life, their trajectory, their journey, that they need to go through their process and to respect that. We can still feel sorrow for them and miss them, but it doesn’t mean that we become completely distraught and suicidal.
Question: I actually have two questions. One has to do with what you mentioned about grief. I experienced something in my life that was very traumatic, which was the death of my first daughter, and she passed away at a very young age. Even at the beginning of today’s reflection / meditation, you mentioned trauma, and it brought me back to that and it immediately brought tears to my eyes. And it has been years and I will say “I will go back to that when I am ready.” But when you are experiencing such a strong pain in that reflection, how can you combat that, so you are able to penetrate into that trauma and actually see things? So one of my things is, how do I observe what went down that day without getting so identified? And then the follow up question to that is, you talked about reflecting on good qualities, like love, but most of us do not even know what love is, so how can we even tap into that and reflect on something so positive when we have something so strong, which is the ego?
Instructor: As for the first question, in the words of Samael Aun Weor, he says that if we really want to annihilate an ego, we have to be willing to break and even weep tears of blood, if necessary, to feel that grief and even just cry, because bottling it up is not good. Sometimes if you have really seen an ego and comprehended it and really understood a pain of a certain moment, really deeply, you will cry. It is painful. But there is a certain type of release that is there when you are able to confront that emotion, because repressing it and numbing it does not get anywhere. If we numb ourselves, it is just going to churn and get stronger underneath the surface. Sometimes when I have seen certain egos and meditated on my own culpability, seeing things I have done wrong in my life, I have wept myself silly. I mean, just really cried, broke into pieces, sobbing. We need that. Sometimes we have to just let ourselves confront that emotion and to experience it, that remorse.
Now in terms of the second question, you know the fact that we are so filled with ego that it becomes very difficult to know what is virtuous. As you said in your example, how you lost your daughter, you can reflect on that love that you felt from her and for her, because really, that is a strong bond to share with someone. I know sometimes we like to think that to really know what love is, we have to be very elevated, but we all have our level of experience. As a mother, obviously losing their child, you have that intense love and sacrifice for that person, for your child. So reflect on that. Obviously, all the other emotions and sentiments and confusion, maybe agony and anger and resentment at the situation, it is all circling around one thing—that is the love you feel for her. The ego is secondary. Consciousness is first. That shows us that our essential nature is love, but we tend to distract ourselves from that. So you can reflect on that, especially that bond, that relationship, because it is showing you that everything else is gravitating around that essential quality.
There are ways to heal and to regroup, but sometimes it means we really have to break the shell, and it is painful. It is not easy. That is why many people do not stick with meditation. They leave because they do not want to confront this. But when you have the courage to let yourself shatter for however long you need, you can begin to regroup, fit the pieces together. Bottling up is not going to be healthy. Reflect on that love you felt [for more information on this topic, study Trauma and Spiritual Healing].
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