Meditation is a precise science. It is a means of knowing our own capacities for consciousness, our ability to perceive. And this specific science of meditation teaches us how to expand consciousness, and how to develop it. Importantly, in this process we have to comprehend and understand the conditions of our psyche.
It is very easy to see that our physical body is composed of elements; many factors and many influences act upon the body in order for it to be. The body needs its nutrition, its sustenance, its food, its water. Likewise, the consciousness needs a type of nourishment, a type of sustenance, and that food of the soul (we can say) is the capacity to perceive, to comprehend; to comprehend psychologically the factors of discord within our consciousness: what in us is afflicted with anger, with fear, with negativity.
What are those elements that condition our perception and make us very limited people? For in a moment of rage we speak harmful words, we suffer ourselves, and we make others suffer. In those moments we only perceive through anger. We don't see that anger is a blind emotion. We may rationalize later on that we were behaving in a destructive way, but in the precise moment of that emergence or that emotion, we perceive as that emotion, as that condition.
All religions, all traditions, teach the science of how to awaken consciousness and, precisely, by becoming aware of what conditions us, what blocks us from experiencing our true nature, which is a state of contentment, of genuine peace, of our love that is so profound that it radiates towards all beings without distinction, and forgives all beings for their faults without distinction, without warrant, without expecting anything in return.
Our soul needs to be fed, our consciousness needs to develop, but we know that through observation of facts that the mind is conditioned and shelled within elements of fear, and laziness, and pride, or what religions call defects. This is what a meditator precisely learns to confront in him or herself, so as to break those shells, because within anger is our consciousness, within fear is our consciousness―within anger, within hate, within lust. All those shells trap really the essence of who we are, but in a negative way.
So, meditation will teach us to comprehend those elements we created in the past. We are responsible for our own emotions, our own mind, how we act. And this is why different traditions, whenever they teach meditation, always emphasize in the very beginning levels of practice―be a good person, be kind, be generous, be observant of your faults. So, that by observing them and comprehending them, we can eliminate them. And by breaking those conditions of mind we expand consciousness, we awaken consciousness. And, therefore, we can experience all the bliss that many prophets, masters, buddhas, angels taught in the different religions and scriptures, which is the beauty and glories of heaven, which is not just a place, but is a psychological state of being, a way of being.
In this lecture we are going to talk about some principles taught within Buddhism and how to understand the mind, what is mind, what is awareness, what is consciousness. We are also going to compare that with a very beautiful glyph, known as the Tree of Life in Judaism. Because we understand in our tradition that Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Sufism―all share the same root, and that root is the capacity to perceive. So, all the different angels, and masters, and prophets gave their teaching in accordance with their language, the culture of the people they taught, their own level of being, their own capacity to transmit light. But that knowledge is the same; it is universal. Some people would call that Gnosis (the Greek term for knowledge), some people would call that Marifah in Arabic, and in Hebrew: Daath, meaning knowledge, what we know of ourselves and how to change, so that we can irradiate that light for all of humanity.
This wisdom teaches us how to understand the causes of our suffering. And I would like to relate to you a beautiful teaching given by a Buddhist Master―his name was Padmasambhava. His fame in Buddhism cannot be exaggerated. He is considered the second Buddha.
His scripture for what he most well-known is called The Tibetan Book of the Dead. It is a scripture that is read to monks and practitioners on meditation retreat, because its efficacy and force, and expansiveness is very penetrative. It teaches us how to be mindful, so that we can understand ourselves and expand awareness, awaken consciousness. So, it is called The Tibetan Book of the Dead, because it teaches about how to awaken consciousness physically, but also in the dream state, as well as during meditation and after death.
We can say that if we examine our state of sleep (the eight hours we go to bed and when we wake up in the morning)―that is a barometer for how conscious we will be when we die. So, if we spend eight hours of sleep and there is darkness, it means that we will not have light, when we die. Which is why many Christian monks, Buddhists, Sufis would train themselves day by day in meditation, so that they can awaken light. So that when they would go to their death, they would be awakened and prepared; they would be conscious, and speaking face to face with the different angels, Buddhas, gods, divinities (which are really one divinity), in a very direct, clear and tangible manner, known as visions or awakened experiences in dreams.
So, this is a very valuable scripture. I would like to read a few excerpts from this, as we talk about the nature of awareness, of consciousness:
The Importance of the Introduction to Awareness
(The Bhavachakra or "Wheel of Becoming," sometimes referred to as the Wheel of Samsara, depicts the cyclical nature of suffering within different realms of existence. The six sections of this wheel show repetitious psychological states in which our soul or consciousness is trapped. Liberation occurs when we recognize our own true nature through the path of meditation).
The word samsara means cycling, churning, turning, repetition.
This is a perfect description of our habits. We have certain tendencies that are ingrained in us like stone―good or bad. We indulge in certain behaviors consistently and which become much deepened and strengthened in us the more we feed it. This is a beautiful teaching relating to idolatry within the Abrahamic traditions. People think that idolatry is people who worship statues, but really an idol is anger, is resentment, is gluttony―habits that are ingrained in us that have become petrified in our psyche, in which we constantly worship instead of worshiping the beauty of the consciousness, which is the unification of our soul with the divine.
So cyclical existence is precisely this repetition of bad habits. Nirvana means cessation, to cease suffering, to break those shells, so that the soul is in perfect equanimity.
Even though its radiance and awareness have never been interrupted,
Now we know from many religions that there are many practices and teachings about how to unite with the divine, whether from Buddhism, Judaism, etc.
Yet, despite this diversity, not even one of these teachings has been given by these Conquerors,
The Tree of Life: Levels of Consciousness
So we will talk about the nature of consciousness in relation to the Kabbalah. Jewish mysticism is the foundation of Christianity, and in our center we study all religions unanimously, integrally, with the purpose of explaining how to awaken our perception in its full capacity.
In the Western tradition the Tree of Life is the foundation of all Western Yoga, of all union. The word "yoga" in Sanskrit means "to reunite,” the same as the Latin "religare,” religion, to reunite. This is a map of our consciousness, of who we are here and now. It also refers to levels of nature that are more subtle, that we don't perceive yet in our present condition. And the Tree of Life is an interesting glyph we can use it to study any religion, any faith, any pantheon of gods, deities, etc.
We see at the top, we have the trinity of Christianity. In fact, we see three trinities in this glyph, a top trinity, middle trinity and then lower trinity. What Christians call Father, Son, Holy Spirit, in Hebrew are known as Kether, Chokmah and Binah. These are not persons―instead, we teach that they are forces, energies, which are very subtle, a form of light. It is a form of consciousness that is so divine, and pure, and universal that it is only manifested in beings that have purified themselves. Jesus is a manifestation of this light, so is Krishna, Moses. Many other masters have incarnated this divine trinity above, which are three forces, but one light. They are three, but one. They express as three, but they are one unity.
Above in this Tree of Life we have the most elevated aspect of consciousness. And below we have the most dense levels of consciousness. We are here in Malkuth, which is the Hebrew word for Kingdom; it is our physical body. Our body is a kingdom, which has all these forces and elements that are in a potential state, which we can learn through practice to actualize. And that energy in those forces in our body helps to elevate our body, our consciousness of this Tree of Life. And if you remember our practice we began with this lecture―we were studying the nature of ourselves, studying the nature of our awareness in our present condition. In our practice we were examining our body; we became aware of our body.
Malkuth, our Kingdom, is our physical body. In our practice we become mindful of the energies of our physical vehicle as well. This is known as Yesod in the Hebraic Kabbalah. Yesod means foundation. So, our vital energies, which give us life, is our foundation in life. How we use our energy depends on our actions, our mind, our heart, and our will, our behaviors.
So, therefore, how we use this energy, determines our spiritual life. This is why it is called Yesod. And the mystical science that teaches one to use this energy in a conscious way is hidden within the Hebrew word יסוד Yesod and the word סודי Sodi. The same Hebrew letters, but switched around. סודי Sodi means secret. This is known as the teachings of alchemy, as well as the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.
Our emotions we also examined in our meditation, relating to this left pillar on the Tree of Life. This sphere is called Hod, which means Splendor. Hod is our emotions, which can shine with the splendor of the divine or be filled with rage. So, this is our center relating to our heart, our emotional states.
Our mind we also examined in our practice. We meditated on our thoughts. Notice that the higher we ascend this Tree of Life, the more subtle things become. The body is very dense, easy to observe. Energy becomes more subtle to observe that, to be aware of that. Emotions are much more dynamic. They are powerful. Our mood can shape our entire day, when we wake up in the morning throughout the entire week, month, etc.
And our thoughts, which fluctuate like the wind. When we sit to meditate, we observe ourselves. You see that memories, ideas, associative thinking, churns within our psyche―these relate to Netzach, which means Victory, because when you conquer your own mind, you become victorious. A being known as a buddha, a master, an awakened one.
And then we also talked about and reflected upon our willpower, our motives, what brought us to attend a center of this nature, or our motives to associate with certain co-workers, or friends, or pursue a certain type of occupation. That relates to will, which is Tiphereth. Tiphereth in Hebrew means Beauty. Really, when we are in willpower, it is in a state of purity, equanimity. When a heart shines with the resplendence of the divine, when our mind is calm and our will knows how to follow our inner divinity, we are filled with beauty, as the beauty in the soul. Right action is the most beautiful thing, we could say. When we act in a way that is truly beneficial for another human being, we are performing acts of beauty. That is Tiphereth.
Above we have more rare levels of consciousness. On the left we have Geburah, which means Justice. And I concluded the practice by having us being aware of ourselves as observers. Geburah is our consciousness, the ability to perceive, which of course is very very rarified, very refined and very hard to perceive. But we know that we have this spiritual dynamic in ourselves when we feel a sense of conscience for having committed a wrong deed. We know we said something wrong, we spoke in a wrong manner, our conscience bites at us, it gnaws at us, it pushes us. So Geburah is that conscience or consciousness. But of course, we tend to ignore our conscience in many cases and meditation teaches us how to feed that conscience, how to awaken that capacity. Meditation is the ability to control Netzach (the mind), Hod (the emotions), Yesod (our energies) and Malkuth (our physical body), so that it serves our divine consciousness and spirit above, which is represented by Chesed, our Spirit.
When people talk about being spiritual in a real deep sense, we could say that to be spiritual is to have that spirit inside, which is God. God is spirit. When someone is spiritual, it means they have incarnated God in a real objective sense, in a very esoteric sense, we can say.
And above the spirit is our light, which the Gnostics or the Christians call Christ, which is the most divine force within all of the nature and the cosmos. We find these three forces (Kether, Chokmah, Binah) within the atom. The Father, Kether, is the positive force, the proton. Chokmah (the Christ) is the negative force, the electron. So, we have a proton and an electron, which are bonded together or held in unity, through the force of the neutron, which is the neutral force, the Holy Spirit. So, these are terms that Christians use, but in the deepest sense refer to forces in ourselves, forces in nature, which we learn in meditation how to use, so that we become a perfected Tree of Life.
And this Tree of Life is represented by the Christmas tree. In the holidays we decorate a pine tree and that tree is the symbol of this image in its most ancient roots. All those lights are all the sparks of consciousness we develop when we learn to harness the power of our body through good will, as well as our vital forces (Yesod), our emotions (Hod), our mind (Netzach). It is easy to see that when we meditate or observe within ourselves or after we have a very difficult day at work, that we have many elements that are negative―desires, habits, which again condition us.
We must learn with our will, as a human soul, this sphere known as Tiphereth. Our willpower must learn to control mind, heart, vitality in our physical body.
This is a very beautiful image that teaches us a lot. And this is just an introduction, because through our courses and lectures we explain all the dynamics of this Tree of Life in ourselves. In a very Buddhist sense, we can see the interdependent nature of all things represented here. The Buddhists speak about interdependence, how nothing is stable in nature; nothing is unitary. Everything depends on something else within this phenomenological universe.
Our mind, our thoughts depend on other factors: maybe external influences, external situations provoke certain thoughts. Likewise, our emotions and how we use our energy is dependent on what we eat, what we nourish ourselves with. Our body depends on how we take care of it.
This Tree of Life is not something separate. All these spheres relate to each other, what we call in Hebrew Sephiroth; it means emanations. These are all the lights of the Christmas tree, which we must purify within ourselves, so that we can really celebrate the birth of Lord within us and Nativity of the Lord.
The Three Levels of Meditative Instruction
All religions teach that there are levels of instruction. The Tree of Life is a glyph that teaches us the most advanced aspects of our psyche, but I am just introducing this to you, so that you can see some of the depth and expansiveness of what awareness is. Because awareness is not just a physical body, but all the Sephiroth, all those spheres that really constitute in who we are. Religion teaches in any tradition certain parameters of how to practice so that we can develop that awareness fully. We have introductory levels, we have intermediate levels, and we have advanced levels.
In Buddhism, the introductory level of that tradition was known as the Sutrayana or is known as Sutrayana. It is the public teaching. As in Judaism we say: "Thou shall not kill, shall not steal, shall not lie, fornicate, adulterate.” These are not dictates from some anthropomorphic god, who wants to make humanity suffer by following these rules: "Do this or you get certain consequences.” It is not a mean of punishment. It is something psychological. Because when we observe our mind, we can see that we have many elements that enjoy hatred or bloodshed, not physically. We may speak with sarcasm to someone and the blood rushes to their face. Therefore, we are shedding blood, we are committing violence in the mind by humiliating another person. That is the meaning of "Thou shall not kill.” Physically―yes, it is a very serious crime to commit that. But psychologically we have many habits and behaviors towards our loved ones, in which we humiliate others.
Likewise with stealing. Sometimes we steal ideas, besides stealing physical things―it is another thing. So, there are levels of teaching in these public explanations of how to control the consciousness. So, there is a code of ethics, we can say, that teach the soul how to look within and to understand all the conditions that we created, all the elements of desire: our defects. So that by training them our mind becomes stable. The mind and heart is filled with consciousness, light, and we develop our awareness. First, by curtailing negative action, which occurs in our mind, our heart, and our body. This is a very public level; this is the beginning of any spiritual tradition.
You also have an intermediate level, known as a Mahayana. Sutrayana relates to the Sutras, the basic public instructions of how to develop consciousness. The Mahayana means Greater Vehicle: Yana means vehicle; Maha means great. It is a level of teaching in which we are practicing not for our own benefit, but for others. We practice not only to eliminate our own states of anger, but so that our anger doesn't affect other people. That is a really compassionate state. We work for the benefit of others.
This is someone like Jesus and as Gospels taught: "Father, forgive them, for they don't know what they do.”
We don't work on ourselves just for ourselves, but for them, for others. It is marked by its development of compassion, which takes a level of understanding. When we see our mind and that we have created conditions through our consciousness that obstruct our awareness, we see that other people are at that level too, that we share the same defects. We are cut from the same scissors. So, we have no need to judge anybody. Therefore, we should learn to judge ourselves. This is the mesoteric level of teaching―the middle ground.
But there is an advanced teaching, which in Buddhism is called Tantrayana. The scripture that I read at the opening of this lecture, The Tibetan Book of the Dead, is a tantric book. It teaches very advanced concepts, which I want to introduce to you too, so that you can see some of the possibilities and expansiveness of this teaching. Tantrayana means the vehicle of tantrism. Tantra means continuum. The continuum and flow of consciousness to the work of controlling energy. Energy is in the psyche, in the body, etc. So Tantrayana teaches how to awaken consciousness in a very expedient way, in a very quick way.
In the beginning one learns a certain ethical discipline by learning to control the mind and to adopt good behavior, not from a moral standpoint, but from a conscious perspective that certain habits and behaviors produce suffering―not only for ourselves, but for others.
In the intermediate state we work for other people―the Mahayana tradition. We understand that our behaviors and conditions of mind not only create suffering for us, but for others, and therefore we work for other human beings.
And in the tantric aspect there is no sense of self. There is only the benefit for the other. And this is really the core teaching of Jesus, of Buddha, who gave their life completely out of compassion. And if you go back to the Tree of Life, we see that highest level of compassion is related to this top trinity, which is the crown of glory, the wisdom of the divine and the intelligence or understanding of divinity, which is a perception that penetrates so deeply in to all phenomena that there is no confusion, there is no illusion. It is a way of knowing, of being that is devoid of I, of me, myself. It is universal.
The Three Trainings
So, we study meditation―we study three trainings. The beginning is ethics, known as Sila. This is the foundational path, in which we work to understand ourselves. We do this through the practice of self-observation. We need to become aware of our mind, our body, our heart, our energies, our will. Everything that surges within our understanding, our experience―we have to learn to perceive, to become aware. What feeds our awareness is learning to behave from that state of consciousness, that state of purity, which is divine love, which is mercy, compassion. Those are natural states of our consciousness. Elements like fear and resentment, those are conditions we created out of mistakes, the wrong use of our energies. But we have the power to rectify that. Which is what all prophets teach and the way they do so is through ethics. This is not a moral code or system to adopt and believe in, but it is something to practice daily. When we see what exactly in us is causing conflict in a certain situation and then we look within and learn to change and comprehend those sources of suffering in ourselves. So that with the grace of divinity we can be purified.
There is this training of ecstasy that comes next, known as Samadhi. Many meditative traditions teach that when one learns to meditate, they have experiences―which is very true. Awakening in dreams, speaking face to face with the angels, with the divinities, with God, our own inner Being―this is a state of awareness and consciousness that is free from the physical conditions of the body, and has entrance into to world of dreams, which relates to the world of Hod (as we discussed previously). This image on the left―the bottom left pillar.
Sometimes we can also say the world on the right―Netzach (the mind) is also the world of dreams. They both relate. Usually we go into those worlds without awareness of what we are doing, where we are at, what we are thinking, what we are dreaming. Usually we wake up and we remember certain threads of experiences in those states, but we don't have much cognizance. That is an indication of where we are at in our meditative practice, because one who awakens in meditation, who trains him or herself in meditation, is awake in dreams, in that dream world. And, therefore, that is a type of Samadhi, it is an ecstasy of the soul, in which you are receiving knowledge in a direct way from the truth, and therefore you don't need to believe in anything, because you know directly from the divine for yourself. Which is why we say that in this tradition: "He who has faith, has no need to believe.”
Faith is conscious knowledge, of knowing. And Samadhi is when the consciousness has been freed of its conditions, its shells. Extracted like the genie from Aladdin’s lamp, so that it can perform the miracles of the soul.
In the third training we have profound wisdom. Profound wisdom relates to the perception of divinity within us, which again relates to the top trinity, the light of our inner Buddha. Buddha means awakened one, to be cognizant, alert, perceptive. From the prefix "budh," meaning cognizance.
So, this Tree of Life is our map for who we are and where we are at. As I mentioned to you, the image of the Christmas Tree relates to this glyph. And we find a very beautiful teaching by a Sufi by the name of Rumi. He is a very famous poet in the West today, who spoke about this Tree of Life in a very implicit way.
If ten lamps are present in (one) place, each differs in the form from one another:
Because when those Sephiroth or aspects of ourselves are purified, they illuminate light, and they integrate―they are one unity. So those religions that teach about polytheism, and many gods, and yet one God, relates to this Tree of Life, because we have the trinity, which is three aspects of God, but one light. So that light manifests in many ways, in different ways. And, so, the wisdom of Pranja, the final training of meditation, which is the teaching of the Tantric Buddhists, teaches one to have profound perception of all things, to perceive the very root nature of any phenomena: physical, energetic, emotional, mental, volitional (relating to will), conscious, spiritual, and even beyond.
So, this is very deep science, very rich, which takes a lot of studying, and meditation, and practice to understand this glyph. But here we are introducing in a very synthetic way to show you that awareness is something very profound. It is a limitless science. This is just a beginning, because Pranja comes from the word Pra, which means beyond. Nja is j-n-a, refers to knowledge, as a Jnana Yoga. Also the root word of the Greek term Gnosis, has a silent gn. The same root meaning there. So the Christian and Eastern traditions are integral―you cannot separate them.
Illusions of Self and the Tree of Life
We learn to understand ourselves, our awareness of who we are through meditation, through these trainings. As I mentioned to you, we seek to break the conditions of mind, because as the Sufi master Abū Sa’īd in one of his scripture wrote:
Wherever the delusion of your selfhood appears – that’s hell. Wherever “you” aren’t – that’s heaven. ―Abū Sa’īd
Our problem is that we grasp onto ourselves that doesn't exist: our egotism, our resentments, our despondency, our despair, our negativities. These are conditions of mind we created, but which really don't have any intrinsic existence in of themselves. They depend on other factors to bring them up, such as at a family gathering, we may have certain gossip that goes on, in which we criticize others or speak badly of others.
We have that defect we created from prior experiences. So that egotistical element only emerges in certain situations; it is dependent on that situation to act. So, you see the relationship between events and internal states, and in Buddhists terms that sense of self we grasp onto in that moment is not real; it is an illusion. It doesn't have any real substance, because when you analyze and meditate on that element, you see that it is always dependent on something else to exist.
And yet as we observe ourselves, we perceive that we are not mind, thought. We are not emotions, mood. We are not energy. We are not our body. Even our willpower has certain conditions and elements. Someone, who has a strong will―we admire, obviously. But our willpower, like the will of the Being of a person like Caiaphas (so to speak), who persecuted Jesus, is very evil will. And we have elements of that nature inside. Our will can follow, our inner Tiphereth can follow the beauty of God above or our own desires. So how we use our will, shapes our life. But our sense of self is contingent upon other factors. It is always a fluctuation and churning there.
So, when we analyze ourselves we see that and ask ourselves: "Where is my awareness? Who am I, really, in my depth?" The Tree of Life can teach us this and depending on our level of awareness, our training, we may gravitate more or less to one of these spheres. But through discipline we ascend.
Our True Nature
I would like to explain to you or recite to you some beautiful teachings from the scripture I started this lecture with. It teaches us some considerations to think about, when we learn meditation. And again, this is a very profound scripture that teaches one to analyze the mind and was typically read at retreats. So, while you are getting this crash course in this now, to really understand the beauty and depth of this teaching, it is something we go back to again and again and again.
The Three Considerations
So, the present moment is. The problem is that we are always projecting our thoughts, our habits, our emotions on the present moment. We are not aware of what is really going on around us, within us.
When this ordinary, momentarily consciousness is examined nakedly and directly by oneself,
So, the question is: who is observing? Is it thought? Is it thought that says: "I think that I am observing?” Anyone can analyze with the intellect, but observation does not involve in its true sense a sense of I or me. It is universal and expansive.
It is manifestly stark and clear.
So, when we look at the Tree of Life, we can see this Buddhist teaching is very well documented. It is very hard to follow, very contradictory for the mind. But the fact is that the consciousness is a multiplicity, but also unity. It is easily represented here. We cannot say that our thoughts and emotions are separate. Usually we are feeling a certain way and a thought emerges. And also, the will to act. So, these factors are one, one expression.
This intrinsic awareness, which is not extraneously derived.
Interdependence and the Tree of Life
So, meditation is the science of acquiring information about ourselves, the conditions of mind that make us suffer. We acquire light, the unification of the three buddha-bodies (the Trikaya), as we learn to look within ourselves. Awareness originates from the top of the Tree of Life and becomes enmeshed in materiality, the further down it descends. We, as human consciousness (Tiphereth), must learn how to act within our lower vehicles of the soul: mind, emotions, vitality, and physicality.
In relation to the law of interdependence, our mind, emotions, energies, and physical body, rely on external factors to exist. Yet awareness (the light of the divine), is the originating and emanating force, which propels the movement of the Tree of Life. It is uncreated in all respects―this awareness. And is that from which all things originated, and all things return.
So, the Tree of Life helps us to visually comprehend interdependent nature of all this, all phenomena. When we explore one aspect of ourselves, we see this depends upon other emanations, other Sephiroth in this diagram. So, nothing has intrinsic existence in and of itself. What we call self is merely emptiness, void of true reality and objectivity.
We can see that our physical body (Malkuth) depends on many factors in order to live. Our energies (Yesod) fluctuate from morning to evening. We may have more energy at one point of the day, and less in the night time. Our emotions (Hod) fluctuate from happiness to sadness, compassion to hatred, faith to despair. Our thoughts (Netzach) are never stable, but jump from thing to thing through a chain of associative thinking. Our willpower and intentions (Tiphereth) are usually conditioned by negativity, desires to commit wrong. When our will follows the will of our Inner Buddha, we perform beautiful actions within ourselves, which of course depends upon consciousness (Geburah).
Most of us don't know what consciousness even is, and let alone what it means to be spiritual. Many people learning meditation do not even get pass the physical body and its discomforts, let alone access to higher aspects of a Tree of Life. Even our spirit, no matter how divine, originated from somewhere in the top trinity. Our consciousness depends upon the spirit to exist. And even this spiritual nature depends upon the light above, as we see in this graphic. Therefore, the Buddhists follow the teachings of Anatman―no self, since even the spirit (the Self) depends upon the Trikaya above. Therefore, genuine awareness is the Trikaya, which gives life to the spheres below, since all things depend upon this trinity for the subsistence and existence.
This is what Padmasambhava refers to in the section we have been discussing and reading―“Introduction to Awareness or Natural Liberation through Naked Perception.” Our perception, our consciousness becomes naked and clear, when we learn to actualize and intuit its real nature through discipline on a daily basis. This light, which is radiance and emptiness of self-hood, is our true nature. So, it is with the following verses in mind that Tibetan Buddhists seek to comprehend their emptiness of the mind. This is from "Observations Related to Examining the Nature of Mind":
Be certain that the nature of mind is empty and without foundation.
So, there are some things to think about in relation to observing and examining our mind. Consciousness is not something static, but is changing, dynamic, fluent. And when we sit in a moment to conceptualize or rationalize our experience, we kill the moment. The truth is the unknowable from moment to moment, instant to instant.
Life fluctuates in moments, and when we sit to photograph or to conceptualize our experience, we become lost in the past. But awareness is something momentary. We need to become vigilant, and conscious, and awake. Because as we are, with our thoughts, our habits, our feelings, we tend to be hypnotized by our senses, by our daydreams. We could be at work, talking with someone, answering a phone call, and yet be thinking about something else. And that is the nature of the mind―it is distracted―it doesn't know how to focus. We could be sitting in a lecture and yet, the mind is wondering elsewhere, or the emotions are not receiving the knowledge. So, consciousness has to be present.
We have to be aware of ourselves in thought, word and deed, instant by instant, moment by moment. So, meditation is a science that teaches us how to be aware, how to be awake, so that we learn to comprehend ourselves and by learning to comprehend ourselves, we develop the genuine joy of the soul, free of conditions, of negativity.
Questions and Answers
Audience: You can do that in moments of meditation, easily, but when you’re out in the world, you have to catch yourself―[inaudible] there is a certain amount of fear or anxiety, so you are addressing yourself. But these are things you react to, you just cannot silence your mind or go blank.
Instructor: That is a good point, and the thing about this is that by learning to awaken consciousness, we no longer react to things, instead we respond. We typically think that fear and certain negative qualities are natural and necessary for survival―for animals that is. Animal souls live and react in that way. But someone who is conscious, who is awake, can respond to the situation with much greater clarity and greater precision than somebody who reacts out of fear. So, this is very well documented or studied within Buddhist traditions like the samurai. They would meditate before battles and if they weren’t attentive or aware of themselves, they would be killed. In the same manner, if we are not aware of what we are doing when we are driving, we can get into serious harm. But having fear is not necessarily a good backup, because fear only knows how to react―it is mechanical. Something jumps up in front of you―you move, you don't even rationalize. But when you are conscious, you know exactly what you are doing. And therefore, you can divert harm.
Audience: So, if you are really conscious, then you are proactive.
Instructor: You are proactive, and then you are not going to put yourself in any danger. Because if you react out of fear or anxiety, out of instinct, you can get hurt. You may save yourself from a moment, but if you are conscious, you know exactly what you need to do, what is going to happen, how it is going to happen. So, being conscious means to expand that awareness to the point that you are in full control of what is going on and you are responding to life in remembrance of your inner divinity.
Audience: You are anticipating also, being proactive.
Instructor: And you will know things will happen before they happen. Therefore, you prevent many problems.
The Gnostic Academy of Chicago
Free online courses, lectures, podcasts, and transcriptions.