All religions and mystical traditions that teach meditation always emphasize the need for a very difficult principle: renunciation. However, like striving or holy war within Middle Eastern mysticism, renunciation is very misunderstood.
Renunciation is typically recognized as giving up material possessions, abandoning society, in order to pursue a life of spirituality, seclusion, introspection, inner peace. In the Gnostic tradition we are very different, distinct, when we use this term. We emphasize that true renunciation is a psychological attitude. It is non-attachment, regardless of one’s material possessions, one’s external life. The truth is we can be physically very wealthy, and yet be true renunciates, or extremely poor and very attached to this world.
Renunciation is a state of being. It means to be perfectly sealed within oneself, to not waste any energy of the psyche, and this is really important when we talk about the principles of meditation, specifically because in the path of striving, we are learning to concentrate, to focus our will, our attention, to remember the presence of divinity at all times, without exception. It is impossible to do this if we do not give up bad behaviors, activities that drain us, attitudes and desires that create conflict, agitation, impatience, and a lack of presence with where we are at and what we are doing.
We have to save energy, and this is really important, this is essential. There are many people who practice meditation, but who do not renounce behaviors and activities that produce pain. When we invest ourselves into anger, into resentment, into pride, and especially lust, we basically have no energy left to experience reality, the Truth within ourselves. It is impossible to experience the divine, al-Haqq, the Truth, our Innermost Being, the divine, if our mind is afflicted with cravings, with desires, with attachments.
All of this obscures our perception. These are conditions of mind we have been emphasizing again and again. This is the lower soul, نَفْس nafs, which in the Gnostic tradition we denominate ego, or egos, that multiplicity of conflicting and contradictory desires and selves which all strive for dominance in our interior. So long as we do not renounce negative thinking, negative emotions, which are so problematic for humanity, and negative actions, we cannot know the Truth, and this is precisely what we want in Gnosis.
In any mystical tradition, we want to know divinity to have experiences, to know the truth of heavens, hells, the soul, of God, of masters, angels, prophets, Elohim, gods, buddhas, whatever we want to call those beings who were once like us, who in reality reached those heights of attainment because they renounced the ego, the self, conditioned psyche. Those beings are perfect, but the reality is that they were once like us, and we have that potential to be a pure perfect expression of God, to really know divinity from personal experience, not from belief, not from accepting a dogma, but from facts, from witnessing the truth within oneself, one’s experience, one’s consciousness.
How do we know that desire leads to suffering and that this is the reason why people do not have any knowledge of the Innermost, of God, of the Being, of الله Allah, whatever name we want to give to our divine source? The reality is that people spend their entire life chasing after desire. We are told by society to fulfill our passions. And it is interesting, we think that following our dreams, our passions, is what will lead us to a plateau of eternal happiness, a vague and amorphous heaven that has no grounds in experience. If we spend our lives chasing after passions and desires, which is really egotistical, if we are serious and analyze our own psyche, we find that these elements do not produce any type of cohesion, integrity, and divine knowledge.
The word passion, even in the literal sense, can refer to the Passion of Christ or the Master Aberamentho within the Gnostic tradition. Really the term passion means “suffering.” So when people tell us follow your passions, follow your desires, follow your dreams, we are really telling each other to be hypnotized, because most of our desires, behaviors, internal states, are conditioned, are negative, and we know this from the writings of Samael Aun Weor especially.
We are ninety seven percent ego, afflicted with problems, with pain. All of that has to be renounced if we really want to enter religion, but people do not want to give up greed, backbiting, envy, and especially lust, sexual craving, attachment to sensations that do not last. People chase after desires their entire life without really knowing why, nor realizing that to suffer in the acquisition of wealth is to suffer under the fear of losing it.
Our society is based upon accumulation of everything: sensations, alcohol, drugs, sex, violence, sarcasm, amusement. This is why the Qur’an teaches that really, the life of this world is transient and has no real basis in spirituality, and if we are honest we see that most of our behaviors are precisely this. We crave something. We work to get it and if we get what we want, we suffer because we are afraid we can lose it, perhaps that job, that career, that spouse, that we fought so hard to achieve. Even Jesus said this truth in the book of Mark 8:36:
“For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” —Mark 8:36
We can pursue a life of materialism, of wealth, of worldliness, of being successful in society, but if that is all we are focused on, if that is our internal quality of being, it means we have a very superficial life. Even Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” It is vain. It is empty of any profound significance, and if anyone studies religion or meditation, it is because they want to know something more. This is why we study the principles of meditation so that we can know the truth for ourselves, to have a life that is vibrant and filled with happiness and compassion for others, of contentment, because we know divinity and experienced the Truth.
The Truth is a form of bliss and treasure that is wealthy to the soul, but that can only be obtained when we give up our psychology, our psychological attachments, a craving for this or that, the constant churning of the mind, the agitation of the mind that only wants to accumulate sensations and impressions and to go to the grave.
Real wealth is spiritual. It is internal. These have to do with qualities of consciousness like altruism, which binds communities together, with selfless love, conscious love even for one’s worst enemies and persecutors; patience under ordeals and hardships that are excruciating and incomprehensible. Real virtue is the foundation of a spiritual existence, of being. You cannot experience the virtues of the Essence, the soul, the consciousness, if we do not remove the impurities, if we do not abandon activities and behaviors that take the energy of the consciousness and squander it. This is why we study ethics in the beginning of any meditative science, especially within Sufism and Gnosticism. This is why Jesus also taught in the book of Matthew 6:19-21:
19 “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
20 “But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
21 “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” —Matthew 6:19-21
People can steal your possessions, can burn your home to the ground, can take your family away, can imprison you, can humiliate you, can cause you physical harm, and yet nobody can take your virtue away from you but yourself. Virtue is like a shield that protects us from many bad situations. But of course, divinity guides the process by which we learn by facing hardships. This is why we studied the path of striving in the former lecture. But with renunciation we are learning to deepen our effort, our willpower, our work so that we are very defined, very precise in our practice and our intentions, in our actions.
No one can steal away from you your consciousness. Only we can give away our soul by giving into behaviors and activities that create pain. We are responsible for our own psyche. No one else is responsible for why we suffer. If we had no ego, we would be an angel. We would be perfected in bliss. But the reality is we invest our identity too much within a multiplicity of desires, and this is why we suffer: we are conflicted, we are split.
Whatever you treasure, whatever you value most, that is where your heart will be. If your satisfaction is based on material things, when you lose them you will suffer. This is the fundamental law of causality. But if we place our value in divine states, in mercy, forgiveness that is based upon conscience, knowledge of the law, the law of divinity, شريعة Shari’ah, then we will have happiness even if situations outside are very arduous, difficult.
There is nothing worse in terms of suffering than a wounded conscience. Even Friedrich Nietzsche stated in his Thus Spoke Zarathustra that “the bite of conscience teaches men to bite.” Really, if we fulfill the law within ourselves of divinity, of ethics, conscience, judgment, الْدِّين al-Din, “the religion” in Arabic or גבורה Geburah in Kabbalah, the justice of the divine, we will march upon the path of intuition, success, knowing how to navigate the reality of life without confusion, without unnecessary pain.
The Being is a true treasure. Knowledge of divinity from experience is to possess the greatest gift that one could ever possess in life, which is why the Hadith Qudsi states the following:
Allah says, “I was a hidden treasure, and I wished to be known, so I created a creation (mankind), then made Myself known to them, and they recognized Me.” ―Hadith Qudsi
Spiritual poverty in this lecture means to be a beggar of the spirit, to really recognize that we lack the qualities we admire so much in masters like Jesus, Buddha, Krishna, Moses, Muhammad, Samael Aun Weor. We are really destitute, if we are honest. We have a lot of conflict, and pain, and sorrows and afflictions, and this is why we are interested in spirituality, because we want a solution, how to rectify our own errors to cease suffering. This means one has to become like a beggar, really yearning for the truth, aspiring for knowledge with that longing like a fire that burns, even with pain, but it is the fire that gives us light in our daily states, the inquietudes of our own soul that long to return to the Being. Jesus said in the book of Matthew 5:3:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” —Matthew 5:3
This is from the Beatitudes. Now I think some of the translations given in the Bible are very inaccurate, as with many scriptures. “Poor in spirit,” in Greek is πτωχός ptōxós. It means: “to crouch or cower like a beggar.” It is a “descriptive quality of begging, to be bent over, to be deeply destitute in a figurative sense.” Really this verse should say:
“Blessed are the beggars in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.” —Matthew 5:3
We have to recognize that our life really does not have much value if we do not know divinity, and this is a type of sincerity and honesty one has to come to in relation to one’s own experiences, otherwise one is not going to be interested in wanting to change. Jesus in this statement was pointing out a very profound teaching: that we need the psychological attitude of receptivity, of striving, of yearning, to receive from the Being and know from the Being, to receive the Spirit from mystical experiences like astral projections, out of body experiences, awakening in the dream state, as we have come back to many times in this course. This is why Homer taught:
“It is better to be a beggar on Earth than a king in the empire of shadows.” —Homer
We are in this world begging for wisdom. It is better to be a beggar in this spiritual path than to have all of the wealth, materially, physically like many other people in society who really are just demons, people with power, influence, but through egotism. It is better to be a beggar of the spirit, because the real treasure is in the soul, not in the external world.
This is the seminal pearl that the merchant of the biblical parable sought to acquire by selling all of his goods, so that he could really enter heaven. This is not a literal story. It reflects a psychological truth, a fundamental shift in our attitude.
Do we practice meditation sometimes?
Do we spend our time in superfluous activities?
How much of our time and energy our will, our actions, our activities, our behaviors are really invested in spiritual things?
Do we study a little bit, practice a little bit, but the rest of our day indulge in hatred, pride, vanity?
How much are we willing to really give up, to direct towards spiritual practice, to really achieve wisdom, the happiness and freedom of the soul we long for?
These are some questions we will come back to, that we will analyze and reflect upon.
Rumi summed up these principles very deeply:
“When you enter the world of poverty and practice it, God bestows upon you kingdoms and worlds that you never imagined. You become ashamed of what you longed for and desired at first.” —Rumi
Piscean and Aquarian Spirituality: Renouncing Distractions
So some people feel that if they renounce certain behaviors and activities that they will have nothing, but the reality is that the kingdom of the soul is so vast and incomprehensible, the states of the Being in our experience are infinite. The Truth is infinite, is “the unknown from moment to moment,” says Samael Aun Weor. Therefore, if we give up our conditioned cage and have the courage to step out of prison, we can know that liberation for ourselves.
It is often documented how people who have been in prison for a long time are afraid of leaving because they do not know anyone else. The same is true of our psychological state, but renunciation is precisely having the courage and the will to give up mistaken psychological states.
So, what is a worldly life? Typically, people define this as having a job, or a career, going to school, having friends, indulging in entertainment, travelling, watching television shows, going to religious services, etc. It was necessary in the past within the spiritual evolutionary arc of humanity to abandon society, to focus exclusively within. This was known astrologically as the Piscean era.
It was the abandonment of the world for the sake of inner development. This is a conservative influence that sought to conserve the best values for the sake of the individual. So people who wanted to know this knowledge had to find a school of initiation and prove themselves over many years before they would be admitted. That knowledge was only given by teacher to student—very conservative, based off of lineages, hierarchies, and tests.
We are now in the Era of Aquarius, an Aquarian spirituality. This has to do with the immersion of the individual within society for the sake of spiritual development of self and other, specifically through expedient methods. Aquarius is symbolized by the Water Bearer, the water carrier. This has to do with how this mystical knowledge is now public. It is now available to everybody without exception.
It is not necessary today to live in a khanqah or خانقاه khaniqah (Persian), a Sufi retreat lodge or center, to go to a temple, a monastery, a place of refuge, away from the world, because the esoteric knowledge of the transformation of the self is now completely available to everyone, to the public. Most meditative traditions today are still very Piscean, conservative, especially the Sufis. This greatest knowledge is kept secret by a guru, a master, a teacher, a sheikh, until the student has passed even decades of tests to prove their candidacy.
The Era of Aquarius began in the 1960’s and was initiated by the writings of Samael Aun Weor. This is very significant. We use his writings specifically because they are very clear. They provide a practical basis of understanding and applying the principles of meditation and religion. We use this, his teachings, for their pragmatism, their practicality, and their lucidity, as compared to many Piscean writings that are very cryptic. However, as you have noticed, we use a lot of the different scriptures and teachings from the past, the Piscean knowledge, explaining it through the mysticism of the Aquarian Era.
We know both teachings. They are really one science given in two different ways: one conservative and one liberated, free to the public. In the Era of Pisces, renunciation had to do with people abandoning their home, their life, their job, to live in solitude, to practice austerities. And if you are familiar with Sufism, a lot of the great Sufi masters lived that life precisely. They were very renowned for their life of renunciation, giving up many distractions, activities, and things that really did not have any importance.
In the Aquarian Era, renunciation is life in the world, but to not be of it. This is very profound and very distinct. It is much more difficult than leaving one’s country or leaving one’s home city to go live in the mountains of Tibet to meditate. Renunciation in the Aquarian Era is much more profound and radical. It is also completely transformative and expansive, because the wisdom we can acquire from living in society while renouncing the ego will provide much more lasting and penetrative wisdom.
We find the fuel and food for meditation in our daily life. This is very well known in the Fourth Way School of Ouspensky. We do not have to live the life of a monk or a yogi, a fakir sleeping in the wilderness on a bed of nails, but we can learn to develop the best qualities of those paths in balance. This is known as the Fourth Way. This is the Gnostic path. It is much harder to work in this way upon ourselves, but the results are going to be much more solid, stable.
Anybody can abandon the world and gain a lot of abilities: concentration, clarity of mind, focus, perception, imaginative knowledge, inner experiences. They can do so by attending a monastery and dedicating themselves to practice, for a period of time, sometimes months or years in certain traditions. However, the reality is that when these people return to the world after being away from society, its chaos, its energy, its density, they become distracted again. Many people have related how after a meditation retreat, they come back to the cities and they feel like they lost all their development. It is because it is very difficult to develop consistent willpower when we are surrounded by so much distractions, so many impressions of life that really pull us in a lot of directions, keep us very fractured in our attention. This is why many people become confused again. They feel lost especially after having attended a retreat.
Therefore, Aquarian spirituality is definitive. If you can learn to meditate in the big cities, on a train, on a noisy bus, in an apartment where your next door neighbor is blasting music, if you learn to help humanity and annihilate your ego under those pressures, your spirituality is going to be much more robust, very flexible, very firm, strong, like a well-tempered sword.
Sadly, though, despite the fact that we have this knowledge, we have a lot of leisure time, in the West especially, we waste much of our time and energy and our enthusiasm in things that really do not have much value.
We are really in an era of information, as symbolized by the Water Carrier. This knowledge has been catalyzed through the internet, through multimedia, by film, by technology, but sadly, while there is this knowledge, there is also a lot of knowledge that does not produce real fruit. As much as we are in an era of information, we are also in an era of misinformation, and so we can be very attracted to spirituality, but we use our time poorly, whether too much internet, television, entertainment shows, Facebook even, social media. Some people spend hours playing games and which really do not develop any type of comprehension in our soul. They are really distractions.
The reality is that as much as we may want to practice Gnosis, because we invest our energy in activities that waste energy, when it comes time to meditate, we feel too tired, strained, or overwhelmed, or we feel incapable, and it is because we did it to ourselves. Real renunciation is giving up that which diverts us from spirituality in every instant of our life.
We do not have to give up our job, to travel to Nepal, to go to the East to visit a mosque or a masjid or temple and to travel to Jerusalem, the holy city, to find ourselves and find God. The reality is that we have to find divinity in our daily life, amongst the most mundane and difficult circumstances. And so the Qur’an as a scripture of very profound wisdom elaborates some beautiful points in relation to what we have just stated:
“And the worldly life is not but amusement and diversion; but the home of the Hereafter is best for those who fear Allah, so will you not reason?” —Al-An’am 32
“Whoever desires the reward of this world—then with Allah is the reward of this world and the Hereafter. And ever is Allah Hearing and Seeing.” —An-Nisa 134
The reality is that when we live in balance and harmony within our three brains, our intellect, our emotions, and our motor-instinctive-sexual actions, divinity will provide for us. This is scripturally emphasized in the Qur’an such as surah 6 verse 160:
“Whoever brings a good deed will get a tenfold reward for it.” —Al-An'am 160
Or from surah 57 verse 11:
“Who would give Allah a handsome loan so that He may give him a manifold reward?” —Al-Ḥadīd 11
Through living with wisdom, we can create a life of spiritual and material wealth, of bounty. There are really two parts of the spiritual equation:
1. Knowing how to live in this world, fulfill our responsibilities and
2. To do so with conscious ethics.
One without the other does not work. You need both. When we become spiritual and use our wealth for the sake of spirituality, to use our time and energy and abilities in a conscious way, we receive a lot of help from divinity. We become spiritual when we use our wealth for the sake of our spirituality, and it is not the other way around. Nothing wrong with having possessions, yet there is something wrong if we simply are possessed by materialism, when this is all we think about and do.
Renunciation on the Tree of Life
We study the Tree of Life to understand what renunciation is, where we came from, where we are, and where we are going.
So renunciation is predicated on the former station, especially repentance. Repentance relates to the Ninth Sphere, as we have related the ninth surah of the Qur’an, Tawbah, or ٱلتَّوْبَة al-Tawbah, “the Return,” or the repentance relating to יסוד Yesod. In Hebrew this is the foundation. This is the work with the creative sexual energy.
Repentance is the Ninth Sphere. We really show remorse and sincerity in our work when we are working effectively with our creative energies, the force of life, spiritually and physically in us.
Renunciation relates to מלכות Malkuth. מלכות Malkuth means “Kingdom” in Hebrew. It is the physical body, our physicality. The path of striving is a bridge from מלכות Malkuth, our physical body, to יסוד Yesod, our creative, vital, sexual energies, even to תפארת Tiphereth, the sphere of beauty, beautiful action, the human consciousness, willpower, the soul.
Notice how we ascend this Tree of Life, we enter spheres, aspects of reality that are more subtle. They have materiality and energy, consciousness even, but at more subtle levels of experience. From the top to the bottom we have the most rarified, simplified, and pure, relating to divine states. And when that force of divinity descends, down this graphic, it becomes material, dense, and more manifest.
We are in מלכות Malkuth the physical world, the physical body, and יסוד Yesod, we sometimes denominate the vital body, the vital energies, the chi within holistic Eastern medicine, such as Chinese acupuncture and many other sciences that study the vital energies that permeate and saturate our physical body. The fourth dimension is יסוד Yesod. Our energies reside in a different level of nature.
Above that we have הוד Hod and נצח Netzach, meaning “Splendor” and “Victory” in Hebrew. This is the fifth dimension. This is where we go to dream. This is a reality, a dimension, in which we have actual experience. It is a real state and quality of perception. It is a real place outside of the physical body. It is the world of emotions and thought. Even though physically we cannot see thoughts or emotions, we sense them. This is הוד Hod and נצח Netzach at our level, in this physical body, in this physical existence. But when we go to sleep at night, the physical body rests and the Essence, the soul with our thoughts and feelings, our will, enters those dimensions.
The problem is that we are unconscious. We do not have any knowledge or remembrance of those states. We may have some dreams here and there in the beginning, but we do not really remember what we were doing within those states. This is why within the Greek tradition, Hypnos and Thanatos, sleep and death, were brothers. If you want to know how conscious you will be when you die, examine those hours when you go to sleep. This is the meaning of the Greek teaching. And the Qur’an also emphasizes many beautiful teachings about how Allah takes the souls of the disciples at night and returns them to the body at a term appointed, a direct reference to how we enter those states although unconscious (Qur’an 6:59-60; 39:42).
This has to become a conscious experience, to awaken in those dreams, to stop dreaming. We do so by learning to be awake in the physical world, vigilant as a consciousness, working with our energies, יסוד Yesod, and learning to observe our thoughts and feelings and impulses to act without investing our energies into negative thinking, negative feeling, and negative action, the ego.
תפארת Tiphereth is the sphere of willpower, we have mentioned many times. It is the beauty of the soul. It is beautiful action. It is the power of the Essence that is developed. It is concentration. It is the will of God when it obeys the higher five סְפִירוֹת Sephiroth, a Hebrew term for “emanations.” גבורה Geburah is “Justice,” the law, شريعة Shari’ah, the conscience of our soul, the divine soul, الْدِّين al-Din, the religion. It is the law, that which tells us what is right and what is wrong in our heart. And usually with our willpower we either obey it or ignore it. In most people we tend to ignore our deepest inquietudes of a spiritual nature and follow our thoughts our thoughts: נצח Netzach, our feelings: הוד Hod, or our instincts within יסוד Yesod or even the physical body.
In order to overcome suffering, we have to learn to follow our conscience, inner judgment, which knows how to act in life with comprehension and ethics. This really has to do with our consciousness, גבורה Geburah.
Beyond that is חֶסֶד Chesed in Hebrew meaning “Mercy.” The Bible refers to חֶסֶד Chesed, the Spirit, as the רוח אלהים Ruach Elohim, the spirit of God that floated upon the face of the waters of existence in order to create life. This is in the book of Genesis. In Arabic, حيم Rahim, or ٱلرَّحِيمِ al-Rahim, is “the Merciful,” is the spirit of God, compassion, divine love.
Above that we have a trinity representative of three forces that expresses one light: כֶּתֶר Kether, the “Crown,” חָכְמָה Chokmah, “Wisdom,” and בִּינָה Binah, “Intelligence.” These are not three people, but intelligences and forces within our interior. This force is known as Christ amongst the Gnostics, or Father, Son, Holy Spirit. It is the light of Allah, the unity.
The problem and division amongst Muslims and Christians has to do with the misunderstanding of this point. Kabbalah clears away the confusion. The Christians are wrong that the trinity is three people as one God. These are not anthropomorphic figures in the clouds. These are forces, principles, archetypes, blueprints for the creation of any existence. These are very rarified and beautiful divine states. This is why in Islam, in that tradition, God cannot be depicted in any form because divinity is formless. These three forces are formless. They are intelligences, principles.
Above that we have the Absolute from which that light emanates, the Nothing, “the No,” الله Allah in Arabic, the negation of all manifested existence. It is the potentiality of every created thing that rests until activated, until it enters manifestation, which is the Tree of Life.
Why study the Tree of Life in relation to renunciation? Because the whole point of spirituality is to renounce lower states of being in order to achieve higher states as mapped out by this graphic, especially the two wings on the sides of the two pillars of the left and the right. It is the wings of pleroma amongst the Gnostics, the entrance into heavenly states.
The physical body and the etheric, vital, creative body of יסוד Yesod are really two aspects of the same thing. They penetrate each other. Likewise, with the other סְפִירוֹת Sephiroth. These spheres are not in some vertical point in space, but exist in us here and now within our experience.
When you sit to practice meditation, you may find that the body is agitated. Your energies are active, flowing within you. This is יסוד Yesod in מלכות Malkuth.
We could be surging with emotion, which is הוד Hod.
Our mind can be racing, that is נצח Netzach.
And our willpower is weak and unable to concentrate on one thing, and that is תפארת Tiphereth.
The path of striving teaches us how to overcome נצח Netzach, the mind, הוד Hod, the emotions, יסוד Yesod, our instincts, and מלכות Malkuth, the body.
Perfect concentration, striving in the path has to do with reaching תפארת Tiphereth. Our willpower is never distracted by anything, not by thoughts, feelings, desires, at all. And it also does not take any effort when it is perfected. This is תפארת Tiphereth, the beauty of the human soul.
Concentration is important: the ability to focus on an object serenely and clearly—with concentration, without being distracted by anything. This is fundamental. We do this by learning to renounce wrong ways of thinking, wrong ways of feeling, and desires.
So the principles of renunciation integrate with striving and repentance. These are different aspects of the same thing. We are studying these principles, separately, but also together because they can give us a lot of insight into where we are at.
If you sit to practice meditation and you find your mind is all over the place, your emotions are surging, your energies are depleted, you are going to find that it is very difficult to concentrate at all. This is why we renounce lustful actions, especially fornication, or known as the orgasm, because that energy which can be given to the soul is wasted, expelled for a few moments of pleasure or sensations. We explain this in synthesis in the lecture on repentance.
With renunciation, we learn to give up lower states of being to achieve higher ones. As Samael Aun Weor stated throughout his writings, “We must become what we are not.” We have to learn to renounce egotistical consciousness in order to obtain liberated consciousness. The best way to do this is by working with the creative energy יסוד Yesod, the foundation. Notice that it is the center of this glyph. It is the middle pillar, the pillar of equilibrium. You will obtain the greatest solidity and focus in your practices by working with your creative sexual energy, without exception. It is the waters of renunciation. As Samael Aun Weor stated in The Aquarian Message:
“Whosoever wants to die in the Lord must wash their feet in the waters of renunciation.” —Samael Aun Weor, The Aquarian Message
This is very beautiful, very profound. By learning to renounce animal sexuality, we adopt human and divine sexuality, which means that the creative sexual impulse is never expelled. It is the energy of bliss, of עֵדֶן Eden, and we can learn to cultivate that whether we are single or married.
Notice that renunciation does not have to do with becoming celibate, living in a monastery and avoiding any kind of sexual temptations. Most people who enter monasteries and try to control the sexual energy, but return to society, lose their stability, their balance, because those impressions are the most difficult to control, and yet it is the entrance to renunciation. We have to learn to renounce animal passion. The Sufis beautifully explained this many times in their writings, that desire is the origin of suffering and that it is شَيْطَان Shaitan, שָּׂטָן Satan in Hebrew, the adversary or el-Nafsu-l-Ammara, the lower animal soul that inclines to evil.
Evil has to do not with a moral sense of indignation, but impure states of the ego which produce suffering. If you really want to enter the path of meditation, calming the body (מלכות Malkuth), equalizing the heart and its emotions (הוד Hod), stabilizing and calming the mind (נצח Netzach), we need willpower that knows how to use this sexual energy. It is the power of life. You can create a god within you, divinity within you, the truth, when your willpower knows how to direct יסוד Yesod up, especially within the spinal column.
So this Tree of Life maps out the body as well. We have three trinities which relate to our three brains. The top trinity with our head, the middle trinity with our heart, and a lower trinity with our sexuality. And מלכות Malkuth can relate to our feet. Our spine has energetic currents that raise the creative impulse up to our mind and then to our heart to produce the wings of the angels, the masters.
To become a master means to master everything about our psychology, including the sexual impulse. If we do not do that, if we ignore sexuality, if we try to justify it or repress it, that energy will act, but in subversive and destructive ways. It is better to learn how to understand one's impulses and to redirect them with intelligence, with wisdom, with the supremacy of the divine, the will of divinity in us.
An Astral Experience of Renunciation
This quote reminds me of an experience I had many years ago that I hope will be very useful for you.
“Whosoever wants to die in the Lord (to die in one’s ego) must wash their feet in the waters of renunciation.” —Samael Aun Weor, The Aquarian Message
I remember in the astral plane, a long time ago, I awoke and was exploring the backyard at my old home. I was being followed by an entity that I knew was a witch, a practitioner of black magic, a demon: a being that has awakened powers within desire, within ego. This person had disguised herself as a sibling of mine that I have in the physical world, and was spying on me and trying to get close.
When this being got close to me in this astral world known as הוד Hod in the Tree of Life, I decided to defend myself to make this being reveal her true form. We do this through prayers and conjurations, exercises that invoke divinity in order to make whatever entity we confront, to vibrate with the higher dimensions or סְפִירוֹת Sephiroth on the Tree of Life. So I was performing a conjuration, “In the name of Jupiter, Father of all the gods, I conjure you!”—with the mantras “Te Vigos Cosilim!” I covered my solar plexus with my left hand and extended my right hand outward and the form of the pentagram, and I saw a spark of energy emerge and shoot out, which, when it touched this entity, this witch, suddenly I was surrounded by a group of sorcerers.
It was about four of them, mostly female disciples. One of them was a huge witch. She was a giant figure who stood in the circle with me and grabbed me by my solar plexus and lifted me up in the air. And of course, we know that if we don't protect our solar plexus, we can be disabled in the dream state. The solar plexus is where we store our creative energy. It is like a battery, and if you are exposed in that way, you can be disabled or drained. This master of the Black Lodge did not steal my energy, but merely incapacitated me. I remember looking at this group and they were studying me. I felt a lot of sorrow when looking at the eyes of this hierarch of the Black Lodge, a very awakened witch, which if you look at the eyes of these entities in the astral plane, you can see the depths of קְלִיפּוֹת Klipoth, which if you look at this Tree of Life, has to do with the nine inverted סְפִירוֹת Sephiroth beneath מלכות Malkuth, the hell realms. I could see the darkness of her state, a very profound painful, impure quality, but very awake, very alert—alert as a demon. I felt a lot of sorrow for this being before me and for this group for feeling proud that they had incapacitated me.
The only thing I could do was speak to them. I said, firmly, and with strength, “Get thee hence! Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and only Him shalt thou serve!”—from Matthew 4:10. When reprimanding this master of the Black Lodge, I saw, within the depths of her abysmal psyche, a pang of remorse, so lost and smothered within the cage of her ego, to which she hissed at me vehemently like a gigantic and fierce cougar.
I remember, after speaking with them briefly, this witch set me down and let me walk away. And I remember looking back as I was walking across the neighbor's property in the astral plane, seeing this group of witches rejoicing, feeling that they had accomplished some kind of victory. Feeling a lot of sorrow and pain in my heart, I suddenly realized what I needed to do. I looked up to the sky and I invoked, “In the name of Christ, by the power of Christ, for the Majesty of Christ! Venerable Master Samael Aun Weor.” Every time I called out to Christ, a divine bell, beautifully imitated within the cathedrals and churches of the physical world, resounded with its metallic power throughout the infinite. And I remember those witches suddenly disappeared. They were gone. They vanished into the underworld from my sight, and Samael Aun Weor was standing close to where they were previously, this group of witches.
He looked at me with a lot of compassion and gestured for me to walk over to him. He said, “Come quickly!” I approached him flying that short distance to reach his proximity and he showed me on the ground a pool of pristine beautiful water and two children washing their feet in those waters. I soon awoke and after meditating for many years on this experience, I have comprehended again and again this statement from The Aquarian Message:
“Whosoever wants to die in the Lord must wash their feet in the waters of renunciation.” —Samael Aun Weor, The Aquarian Message
Unfortunately, like many of us in the Gnostic movement, I have ties to the Black Lodge that I am working to remove, to comprehend, to overcome. It is a very painful process, to recognize that we have those defects of perdition, of witchcraft or sorcery. It is very rare to find someone in the movement who does not have this. But the symbol is very interesting: two children washing their feet in beautiful waters—to renounce.
We have to learn to renounce the ego, whatever ego is really defined by our most negative qualities. We do so by purifying our consciousness, by becoming like children, innocent—giving up states and qualities that are detrimental to ourselves and others. The way that we do so is through meditating. Conserve your energy. Work with יסוד Yesod, because the waters of יסוד Yesod are precisely the energy that will give you the capacity to change.
When you work with pranayama, with Ham Sah, with alchemy, certain runes, sacred rites of rejuvenation, etc., we learn to purify our psyche. Everything in this Tree of Life gravitates towards יסוד Yesod. There would be no Tree of Life without the sexual energy, without the foundation of our spiritual temple. You cannot balance your heart and emotions, your mental states, or even relax your body well if you are not working with these waters, daily.
So that experience really humbled me. It showed me what I needed to do. Those are the same waters, really, cited in stories like The Wizard of Oz, even, in its symbolic folklore. In such childhood tales of the Wicked Witch of the West being disintegrated by the waters of renunciation, in order to liberate, in that story, in a symbolic way, the Winkies: the winged monkeys that are a symbol of the desires that have trapped our soul in hell. You liberate your consciousness by working with this force. It is the force of purity. It is the force of ablution within Islam.
Muslims, before they perform prayer, wash their hands, their face, parts of their body, in order to be suitable for prayer and remembrance of divinity. Ablution (Arabic الوضوء al-wudu) really has to do with working with the sexual energy in its most esoteric sense. You purify yourself with this force. This energy is what grants you the capacity to ascend. You cannot renounce the lower seven סְפִירוֹת Sephiroth without this foundation.
So no matter how difficult your particular path might be, if you are a person who committed a lot of wrong in this life, perhaps, even you were a black magician in past lives, you can change by working with the waters of renunciation, by working with prayer and purity.
Learn to renounce the lower seven סְפִירוֹת Sephiroth in order to ascend in your meditations.
Let your body, your physicality, rest. Work with energy (יסוד Yesod), your vital forces, whether through mantras, prayers, vocalizations, pranayamas, or even alchemy.
Withdraw yourself from your emotions, those negative emotions which creates so much pain. Renounce them. Do not give them your attention. Do not invest yourself in them. Observe and relax your heart.
Likewise, your thoughts. Let your thoughts calm by observing them.
And when you are perfectly in a state of equanimity, when you are concentrated within, not distracted, but serene and clear, you can begin to experience perceptions related to the top of the Tree of Life; from the consciousness, from גבורה Geburah and even from the Spirit , חֶסֶד Chesed, الرحيم Al-Rahim, the Merciful, and even beyond. This is why Samael Aun Weor stated in The Narrow Way:
“We need to die, to die, and to die within ourselves, and to renounce, renounce, and renounce, and to cease existing within all of the seven cosmos in order to have the right TO BE within the Absolute.” —Samael Aun Weor, The Narrow Way
This is a very famous meditation within the writings of Samael Aun Weor, especially Igneous Rose and other books, in which we abandon the lower vehicles by renouncing them, these lower spheres in order to enter higher states. You can study Igneous Rose, especially the chapter “Esoteric Discipline of Mind,” which relates this, but I also believe in the book Aztec Christic Magic [see the chapter "Meditation"].
I'd like to relate some quotes that emphasize these points, what renunciation is, how we achieve it, how we understand the transience of life for our own benefit.
“Abu Bakr said: ‘Our abode is transitory, our life therein is but a loan, our breaths are numbered, and our indolence is manifest.’ By this he signified that the world is too worthless to engage our thoughts; for whenever you occupy yourself with what is perishable, you are made blind to that which is eternal; the friends of God turn their backs on the world and the flesh which veil them from Him, and they decline to act as if they were owners of a thing that is really the property of another.” —Al-Hujwiri, Revelation of the Mystery
In synthesis, do not be attached to the fruits of your actions. Life is transitory. Even in serious practitioners, we have a lot of laziness. I believe the Dalai Lama even stated that he gets up at 3 or 4 in the morning every day to meditate, and even he says “I have a lot of laziness in me.” So we are indolent. It is manifest when we really look, when we examine ourselves.
Do not engage your thoughts in distractions, but learn to occupy your concentration upon the eternal within states of being.
We learn such practices by developing concentration, when we no longer let ourselves identify with worldly impressions or negative states that veil or obscure our perceptions of the presence of our Being.
Turning our back on the world means to reject the beliefs of humanity. Those beliefs that say, “You will be happy when you do this and have a bank account and a car and a job and a career, a family.” We can have all these things and learn to be renunciants. It just means that we are not attached. We do not identify and waste energy in external things.
To be veiled is to be asleep as a consciousness, to not perceive divinity within our own actions because the consciousness is obscured. It is conditioned. We have to remember the presence of God. The quality of God and our states here and now, for divinity is always with us, even if we do not see Him. As stated in Surah 50 verse 16, or the Surah al-Qaf:
“And We have already created man and know what his soul whispers to him, and We are closer to him than his jugular vein.” —Qur’an 50:16
Divinity knows all of our thoughts, what our ego whispers within our three brains, to act and to be fed. And if we really pay attention to this internal dynamic and interchange of thinking, feeling, and acting / impulses, we can learn to see that we are not thought, feeling, or impulse, instinct. We see that divinity is closer to us than we thought. We perceive qualities of being as we have explained in this course.
The quote continues from Al-Hujwiri's Revelation of the Mystery:
“And he said: ‘O God, give me plenty of the world and make me desirous of renouncing it!’ This saying has a hidden sense, viz.: ‘First bestow on me worldly goods that I may give thanks for them, and then help me to abstain from them for Thy sake, so that I may have the treble merit of thanksgiving and liberality and abstinence, and that my poverty may be voluntary, not compulsory.’” —Al-Hujwiri, Revelation of the Mystery
Lawful and Unlawful Renunciation
Our psychological attitude is what matters. It comes to mind Krishnamurti. He was a great renunciate. He made a lot of money from his lectures. He lived wealthfully, yet, he was not attached to his career, his possessions, his car, his home. So, we can learn to be the same if that's really what divinity wants for us.
There is nothing wrong with having possessions. What matters is that we are not addicted to them. We are not distracted by them. We are not wasting our time with too many activities. We should learn to minimize them.
This relates to Sufi teachings on what is lawful and unlawful within Islam. This is a very common term used to relate to how divinity allows or supports certain material or even spiritual things. You can even think of the حلال halal, the term meaning, food that is pure: to be حلال halal. To be praised. הלל Hilel in Hebrew, or حلال Halal in Arabic, such as not eating impure foods like pork, not drinking alcohol. These are things that are unlawful amongst Muslims and Sufis, and really even among Gnostics, because those elements will condition our consciousness.
“If you want success with these studies, you must neither drink alcohol, nor smoke, nor eat too much red meat. Do not worry; cultivate the habit of being happy.” —Samael Aun Weor, Aztec Christic Magic: “Coatlicue”
And so we avoid eating unlawful food, even. This is the meaning of the term. Lawful is that which will purify the consciousness. Unlawful is that which conditions it, in synthesis.
Having wealth through upright living, in a lawful way, in a beneficial way for oneself and others, is a stipulation of the Aquarian teachings. The Sufis relate some beautiful points about this:
“The Sufis have differing opinions in the matter of renunciation (zuhd). Some of them say that one need only renounce the unlawful, because the lawful has been made permissible by God Most High. When God benefits His servant with lawful property and the servant in turn worships Him with gratitude for it, it is not preferable for him to leave it with his own will rather than keeping it with God’s permission.” –Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
So having wealth for the sake of supporting a spiritual community, for helping humanity, is beautiful, is wonderful, and even necessary. Let us remember three factors for effective spirituality: death, birth, and sacrifice. Meaning: annihilate the ego, die to the ego, and create the soul through virtuous action, to give birth to our spiritual consciousness by giving birth through the sexual creative energy. And lastly, serving humanity selflessly in whatever capacity we have. In Sufism, this is known as فناء fana, annihilation; بقاء baqa, subsistence; and زكاة zakat, charity.
The Sufis emphasize that in order to really be in the Being, to be present, to subsist in God, we have to eliminate the impurities through annihilation (فناء fana) and that way, our actions are much more charitable, profound, impactful. Samael Aun Weor spoke abundantly about the rights of Canchorrita. When we practice the teachings these three factors, we will by law of Karma receive food, clothing and shelter from divinity.
34. We must be content with the rights of "Canchorrita."
35. The rights of "Canchorrita" are bread, clothing, and shelter. —Samael Aun Weor, Christ’s Will: “Probationism”
It is a law of cause and effect. If we renounce behaviors that are animal and destructive, if we renounce unlawful behaviors and activities in accordance with divinity, we will be provided for a space to live, to meditate, to work happily.
Our level of being attracts our life. Do you want better circumstances? Then renounce the ego.
Do not engage in unlawful behaviors, and I am not talking about physical laws in different countries, but in terms of the law of the soul, of the Being.
What is ethical? Behaviors that produce happiness or pain?
Let us choose to follow our conscience. We elevate our level of being by renouncing lower levels of being. This is the key, especially we want to have stability in meditation, consistency in our meditation, focus, concentration, deeper serenity, peace.
The Virtue and Obligation of Renunciation
Renunciation also exists as we learn to be content with what we have, no longer desiring through the disease of “more.”
Desire is fundamentally the cause of suffering. It is a virtue to be content with what we have. People have many beliefs about life and spirituality, and yet they suffer a lot. We can have wealth and yet be the most miserable people on the Earth. There is a statistic that states that if you earn fifty thousand dollars a year or more, you are among the top 5% wealthiest people in the world. Sadly, even though people have abundance, we tend to suffer from internal lack. Therefore, to be attached to worldliness, to perishable things, is absurd.
Renunciation exists when we cease chasing after superfluous things, concentrating seriously on meditation each day, giving ourselves more time to practice, to deepen our awareness, to deepen our states. There is virtue even when we have abundance, but we can learn to even give what we have, to our degree, so that others can benefit. This is how we really refine our spiritual life, to sacrifice for others through compassion.
Let us read some quotes in relation to the writings of Al-Qushayri, The Principles of Sufism, who explains these principles very beautifully about the virtue and obligation of renunciation:
“Other Sufis say that renunciation of the unlawful is an obligation, while renunciation of the lawful is a virtue. From this point of view, as long as the servant is patient with his state of little property, satisfied with what God Most High has apportioned for him, and content with what he has been given, he is more perfect than one who lives richly and comfortably in the world. God Most High has urged people to abstain from the world by His saying, ‘Say: The provision of this world is but small, while the next is better for whoever is God―wary’ (4:77) and in many other verses that may be cited disparaging the world and recommending abstention from it.” —Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
So how is renunciation relevant to the study and practice of meditation?
There are many people who complain that they cannot meditate. Their environment is loud. They have a difficult economic situation. Some people complain that they live in a big city, are surrounded by noisy people, obnoxious neighbors, loud dogs, loud children, a small apartment, a difficult roommate, no physical teacher or school guru, missionary, group involved or nearby; one has a difficult spouse or feels they are having conflict in their marriage, their relationship, not having a separate meditation space.
While having a separate meditation space is good, while it's good to have a clean home, while it is beneficial to have spiritual companions or spouse that one can work with in life, a partner, people fail to recognize that if they want better circumstances, they must fundamentally change their level of being.
There are many people who think that they can only advance in meditation if they are married, if they have a Gnostic spouse—and this is not true. What matters is our quality of being.
We will receive what we need and accordance with the law, which is karma, the divine law شريعة Shari’ah. Now, having a home that is conducive for meditation, some people can do it, some people cannot. It is important that if this is your situation, that you have a space where you can find, whether at a temple or nature, some space where you can practice, is good. It is necessary, because if one's home life is very disorganized and difficult, it can become very challenging to really deepen one's meditative discipline.
So, sometimes one's home life can be challenging because we have neighbors or people who are loud. The reality is that we can renounce our own attachments to a different situation.
I believe Dion Fortune from the Western esoteric tradition stated that a person does not know how to meditate if they cannot meditate on a bus or a noisy train. We really learn to develop profound concentration when there are distractions, and obviously it is good to have a home that is silent and clean and pure in which one could really dedicate to these exercises. But if there are difficulties in relation to one's home environment, make the changes that you can and learn to renounce what you cannot change.
The fact is whether there is 5G or not, whether the neighbors are loud, or one's economic situation is difficult, we can still meditate. It is about renouncing distractions in our psyche, not giving your body that itch or scratch, that pain, adjusting oneself all the time and moving and not really focusing within. Renounce many of the problems that really have no basis. Stop investing your energy into them. Simply be. Relax. It could be difficult, but the more you renounce negative thoughts, feelings, and instincts, we learn to change our quality of life, fundamentally. So learn to renounce discomfort, dissatisfaction, the internal dialogue of the ego that says “I can only do this if I have A, B, and C.” We have to learn to renounce suffering, misery, envy, ego. In that way, by changing our psychology, we learn to receive from divinity. We learn to receive help at our level, at our degree.
Renunciation of the Heart
Renunciation is really of the heart. These are some more verses that explain everything we have been stating so far, how it is a psychological attitude:
“I heard Abu Abd al-Rahman al-Sulami say... that Sufyan al-Thawri said, ‘Renunciation of the world means to give up placing your hope in it, not to eat coarse food or wear the robe of an ascetic.’” —Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
So, stop believing and chasing after dreams that one day we will be spiritual “when I get my own home, find a spiritual group, and marry a Gnostic partner.” We have to stop putting our hopes in external things, because if our psychology does not fundamentally change, then having all these beautiful things will not help. In fact, we will suffer and make a lot of problems for ourselves. What matters is our quality of being, our level of being,
I like to relate some quotes from Samael Aun Weor's book, Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology, in which he really beautifully summarizes how renunciation is internal, psychological. He states the following in his chapter, “The Internal State”:
“…when people review their lives, unfortunately, they only think that their life is exclusively constituted by external events...
“Wretched people! They think that if this or that event had never happened to them, their lives would have been better...
“They think that fortune came to meet them, yet they lost the opportunity to be happy...
“They lament what they lost, they weep regarding what they despised; they moan when remembering their old errors and calamities...
“People do not want to realize that to vegetate is not to live and that the capacity to consciously exist depends exclusively on the quality of the interior states of the Soul...” —Samael Aun Weor, Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology, “The Internal State”
It is important that to really be effective with renunciation, we learn to combine internal states with external events. What this means is that in relation to the appropriate situations, we learn to enact intuitive will. Our conscience may push us to say something compassionately to a co-worker. Perhaps we are at our job and we see that our co-worker is suffering a lot. Part of us may feel shy and may not want to respond in the moment: to keep silent because we are at a work meeting. And yet, our intuition and heart tell us to respond and comfort this person. We learn to renounce or should learn to renounce our own insipid qualities: fear, anticipation, anxiety, in order to do what is helpful for that other person. This is an example of renouncing the ego and learning to enact virtuous qualities of the soul.
So, combine the appropriate state with the external event. Knowing what to do in the moment is the quality of intuition: knowing what to do without having to think about it. We simply comprehend beautiful action, compassionate action. But if we do not renounce our own ineptitudes, our ego, we create suffering in our situation, our circumstances. This is a moment to moment effort.
Let us continue with a quote from Al-Qushayri's Principles of Sufism.
“And I heard him say... Sari al-Saqati said, ‘God strips the world from His Friends, denies it to His purified ones, and removes it from the hearts of those He loves because He is not satisfied with that for them.’” —Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
Beautiful verses that relate different levels of being, as we have been going back to again and again in this course. Who are the friends of divinity, of God? These are the masters, saints, and initiates who renounce the world with the advent of resurrection. Meaning: they fully eliminated the ego and they are preparing to renounce everything below in order to return to the divine through the death of their body. Those who purify their psyches face hardships because of divinity, as a test. We may be denied certain blessings because of difficult situations. They force us to confront our psychology, our stubborn attachments, our own pain. Without challenges, we can't grow.
So, in those cases, we need to learn to renounce our own sorrows, to really develop peace of mind. When divinity really loves His disciples, He removes love of this world from their hearts. This is a very subtle reading. It does not mean that we become very dark, sour, masochistic people immersed in morbidity. Instead, we learn to be in life enjoying and experiencing the diverse situations of life but remembering their contexts.
Remember that when we die physically, our bank accounts, our social security number, our cars, our home, our family, our beloved spouse, our children won't go with us. But, we can learn to love them. Be happy with them and for them, but remember in the context that life is fleeting. It is transient. What matters is our level of being, our internal state, not so much what is outside. We really demonstrate our intelligence when we learn to navigate life utilizing the right psychological state and correct response to the impressions of life.
But for that, we have to renounce reactions, because the mind always wants to react to the impressions of life.
Renunciation has to do with not letting the mind react mechanically, habitually. To do that is to repeat problems. Instead, one has to be conscious. This is why Samael Aun Weor states the following, again, from the same chapter from the Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology.
“Those who know how to consciously combine the external event with the appropriate interior state are very rare.
“It is unfortunate that people do not know how to consciously live; they weep when they should laugh and laugh when they should weep.
“Control is different; the sage can be happy but never filled with an insane frenzy, sad but never desperate and discouraged, calm in the middle of violence, abstinent in the orgy, chaste when amidst lust, etc.
“Melancholic and pessimistic persons think the worst of life and frankly they do not want to live.
“Everyday we see people that are not only unhappy, but moreover, what is even worse, they make other people’s lives miserable.
“Such people will not change, even if they would live daily from party to party, for they carry the psychological disease within them... Such persons possess internal states that are definitely perverse...
“Nevertheless, these people classify themselves as just, saintly, virtuous, noble, helpful, martyrs, etc.
“They are people who esteem themselves to the extreme; people who love themselves too much...
“They are individuals who pity themselves too much and seek a way out to evade their own responsibilities...
“Persons like that are accustomed to inferior emotions and it is obvious that due to such a motive, they daily create infra―human psychic elements.
“Disgraceful events like the setbacks of fortune, misery, debts, problems, etc. are the exclusive property of those persons who do not know how to live...
“Anyone can acquire a rich intellectual culture; yet, few are the persons who have learned how to live in an upright manner...
“When one wants to separate external events from the internal states of consciousness, one demonstrates concretely his incapacity of existing in a dignified manner.
“Those who learn how to consciously combine external events with internal states march on the path of success.” —Samael Aun Weor, Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology
Types of Renunciation
Let's explore different types of renunciation.
“God, the Most High, says, ‘That which is left for you by God is best for you’ (11:86). Renunciation lies in three things: renouncing the world, renouncing people, and renouncing oneself.” —Abdullah Ansari of Herat, Stations of the Sufi Path
The Three Types of Ascetics
Let's examine what each type of renunciation involves because it is very in―depth, if we have been studying the sequence of lectures in this course. Abdullah Ansari of Herat states,
“Whoever does not refuse the wealth of this world to his enemies is an ascetic vis-à-vis the world.” —Abdullah Ansari of Heart, Stations of the Sufi Path
We should give even unto our worst enemies. We do so by acting compassionately. When we give indiscriminately to others, in whatever capacity we have, we become ascetics: people who are disciplined in this path, the Gnostic work. Samael Aun Weor and the Fourth Way schools reject Fakirism, which is commonly associated with asceticism, such as people sleeping on a bed of nails, living out in the weather, the cold, performing acts of physical austerities, etc. We learn in the Gnostic path to develop our willpower and develop our spiritual life by fulfilling our obligations, our responsibilities in society, by doing what is best for others.
If you want your meditations to be profound, work compassionately and ethically for others. An unethical mind is agitated. It is not at peace. It is not serene. So, don't refuse your wealth even unto your enemies, meaning your spiritual wealth as well—not necessarily physical things, but your time, your energy, your conscious love: to learn how to give even to people whom you feel are every difficult, who challenge you, who create struggles and pains and difficulties for you. This is the meaning.
The quote continues:
“Whoever does not allow his shame over what people may think about his piety coax him away [from worshipping God] is an ascetic vis-à-vis people.” —Abdullah Ansari of Heart, Stations of the Sufi Path
Some people get very embarrassed about being in Gnosis or a spiritual group, such as family members or people who criticize or gossip about us, friends who may misinterpret our actions or the teachings. However, to continue to do what we know is best for spiritual life, we become ascetics in relation to people. We are willing to renounce what other people think of us. We learn to practice alchemy, transmutation, chastity, regardless if all the doctors of the world, people who are very materialistic and conditioned, think that it is wrong. We do not feel shame about the teachings, about the practices, about the work.
“Whoever does not behold himself with self-congratulation nor look upon himself with approval, is an ascetic vis-à-vis himself.” —Abdullah Ansari of Heart, Stations of the Sufi Path
This is most important. We have to not have Illusions about who we are, our quality of being in relation to divinity. We have to see ourselves and the practical facts. This is why we perform retrospection meditation.
We visualize the events of our day in which certain egos acted. We learn to go deep into our psychological states, reviewing the day, how we saw the world and what we think of ourselves, to renounce any Illusions about who we are or what we think about ourselves—to simply observe. Observe the facts. Self-observe. Gather data, and then in retrospection meditation, review your day and examine the different defects you saw. This is how we renounce the ego.
This is how we become an ascetic of the Spirit: to not congratulate ourselves or think that we are worth anything, really. The only thing that is worthy of praise is our Being, which is why in Islam we say, ٱلْحَمْدُ لِلَّٰهِ, al-Ḥamdu lillāh: “All praise is to God,” the Being. Our inner God is worthy of all praise, but we are just the servant. Therefore we should not accept any type of adulation for ourselves.
The Signs of Renunciation
In this final slide, we will talk about the signs of renunciation.
“Renouncing the world and remaining an ascetic in the world has three signs: remembering death, being content with one’s sustenance, and seeking the companionship of the dervishes.” —Abdullah Ansari of Herat, Stations of the Sufi Path
In many schools of meditation, we learn in the beginning to contemplate our own death. This does not mean that we are dark people, sick people, or we think it is cool, but because it provides seriousness in our work.
We really do not know when we will die. Therefore, should we waste our time, our lives with meaningless things, or should we develop our consciousness? Again, learn to give up activities that waste time, that do not really feed your spiritual life. If you know that going out to drink with friends is going to make you very pessimistic, very heavy, very sick, mentally, emotionally, then renounce that. Who cares what anyone thinks? In reality, when we renounce a lower level of being, we ascend to a higher one. We learn to associate with more spiritually like―minded people, such as the companions, the dervishes.
This is a symbol of any spiritual group, really, who is practicing poverty, renunciation: giving up psychological attachments. Companionship with other Gnostics can be very helpful, very beneficial, being with people who are like-minded who study the same thing. This is why every spiritual community in the world is necessary. But, it is not definitive.
We will not progress simply because we attend a group. It's good to associate with other initiates, and really the best way to associate with the initiates is in the internal planes, because when you awaken in the Tree of Life, you can learn to communicate with the gods, with the angels. Those really are the dervishes: people who have really mastered this work before, in whom many don't have physical bodies. You can meet them internally by renouncing negative behaviors.
But also, we should learn to be content with our own sustenance, what we have. In the West, we really do not have many excuses to not really practice. If we are in a war zone, that is very different. Obviously, it is going to be very difficult if you have bombs going off in your neighborhood. But typically, in North America, the West, or Western civilized countries, we have a lot of privileges that the world around us envies, and it is really absurd to waste our leisure in stupidities.
Let us continue with the quote:
“Renouncing people has three signs: understanding that the command of God precedes everything else, understanding that providence is firm and established, and seeing that people are helpless and vulnerable.” —Abdullah Ansari of Herat, Stations of the Sufi Path
God's command is right, even if it is against what everybody believes: what people cherish and hold dear. And what is the manner by which we understand God's will?
There are many millions of people who preach that they know God. If you seriously ask them and investigate to see whether they are awakened in the astral plane, the internal worlds, the reality is that they are asleep. They believe in divinity, but they do not know. As the Qur’an teaches, "For truly, they are a people who don't know," who do not experience, since “Are those who know equal to those who know not?" (Qur’an 39:9).
God's commands are found through understanding the principles of ethics, conscious ethics, especially chastity. Humanity does not like chastity, purity, and sex. In fact, humanity fights very diligently to preserve lust and desire at the expense of other people's well-being. If you do not believe me, look at the pornography industry where people are exploited and violated. It is very serious. Desire does not produce a harmonious society. It creates chaos.
Therefore, we should learn to understand divinity's commands, especially like in the example I gave you where Samael Aun Weor was showing me that to be effective in my work I had to work with the waters of renunciation. So this teaching is very practical for me. You can learn to have those experiences by working with the exercises in our tradition, especially, as we have been outlining in this course. Our path is firm and established when we work seriously and ask for help, inside. When we receive experiences, we have genuine faith. We learn to renounce again and again, continuously, different states that create problems. This is faith: knowledge born from experience.
People, despite their best virtues, are not necessarily reliable. Only God is reliable, the Being. So, we are helpless before divinity, vulnerable, weak. It is impossible to change without the help of our own inner Being. Even masters who are preparing for resurrection are helpless before God. They are really striving and working hard to obtain those degrees, which are very elevated. But even they are helpless. Therefore, why should we be so arrogant to think that we can do this on our own? We need help from our inner divinity through experiences and through enacting ethical behavior.
Lastly, the following quote:
“Renouncing the self has three signs: recognizing the deceit of the devil, realizing one’s weakness, and seeing the darkness of being lead on by the lure of passion (istidrāj).” —Abdullah Ansari of Herat, Stations of the Sufi Path
So who is the devil? We can point our finger at witches and sorcerers or sorceresses in the astral plane and even physically, but really the devil is our own ego. As I had stated in the previous lecture, we should not be concerned with other people so much but rather our own interior states.
We are 97% ego. Therefore, we are weak. We gradually train ourselves to strengthen our Essence, but this is only achieved when we are honest.
Temptations must be seen and overcome, seeing the darkness of our own egotistical states and really understanding them; meditating, reflecting at the end of your day, visualizing a certain event in which you perhaps acted wrongly and trying to understand it and ask for wisdom about what would have been the correct behavior, so that you can renounce whatever egos were manifesting in that part of your day.
Temptations are necessary. This is how we define ourselves. Temptation is fire. Triumph over temptation is light. We overcome these problems when we remember the qualities of our own conscience, our heart. In synthesis, these are some principles relating to renunciation that can feed our meditation practice, because without giving up harmful ways of being, we cannot enact superior ways of being.
So at this point in time, I'd like to open up the floor to questions.
Questions and Answers
Question: It seems from your lecture that one way to understand renunciation is in the myth of Heracles and the Hydra, which dwells within the murky waters. It is not enough to implore God and cut off a head, but one must use the fire of transformation to keep the head from growing back. So take alcohol. If one has energy invested towards drinking and decides to renounce it, energy is released. But the reason for the drinking might not be comprehended so the negativity manifests elsewhere.
Instructor: So all the mythologies of the world correlate. The great war of the heroes, such as within the Roman and Greek myths, or any biblical cosmogony, even relates with the مجاهدين mujāhidīn, those who strive in the way of God within the Qur’an. All that teaches psychological truths about how we wage war against our own egos, our defects.
In the myth of Heracles, who is the action of the soul, the beauty of the soul (תפארת Tiphereth), has to fight a many headed beast, the Hydra, which is a representation of our multiple defects. It is not enough to beg God to eliminate, but we have to comprehend with the fire of understanding, with intelligence. We only do that through meditation.
All of our habits and desires, in the beginning, we can learn to renounce what we see in the beginning. Renunciation is based off comprehension. If you just give up a certain way of being without understanding it, then the quality of your ethics is not going to be that deep. Really, if we give up mistaken ways of being, it is because we comprehend from experience how they create problems. So that Hydra, that beast, dwells in the waters of יסוד Yesod, because our own lust, anger, pride, hatred, vanity, lives within those energies, steals the energies of יסוד Yesod for their own purposes. In the beginning, you have to learn to renounce and not give your energy to the ego in the moment.
Perhaps you are with friends and they want to go drinking. You are with them at a bar, but you make the conscious decision not to feed your own egos of drunkenness. So we are not investing our energy into that habit. Instead, we are saving energy that we would have otherwise spent through desire. But that is not enough. What is important and more necessary is to go home, close your eyes, relax. Retrospect that moment in which you were tested, tempted, to behave in a way that you knew was wrong. You have to visualize the scene as it happened: what egos came up, what you said, what you did, what you thought, what you felt, even how you behaved internally without showing anyone.
Ask for comprehension for whatever egos you saw in that moment. Ask to go deeper. Work with the waters of renunciation. Work with your creative energy, through the powers of יסוד Yesod through pranayama, mantra, runes, sacred rites of rejuvenation, alchemy, and with that energy present circulating in you, you can go deep with the fire of your energies, because the fire of creativity is in the waters of sex, the waters of Genesis. It is that water, the fiery waters, that can learn to disintegrate any ego you have comprehended. But first, you need to comprehend what happened. It is only in that way that you really can eliminate at all.
Renouncing behaviors or repressing what we see without comprehending is going to create problems. Instead, be cognizant of yourself. Be aware. It is important to remember that in our daily experience, what wastes energy is ego, whether through the intellect, our emotions, our movements, our instincts, and our sexuality, which has to do with our thoughts, feelings, and will. We have to learn to study the mind: all the different egos that take the energies, the waters of sexuality, and waste them. Desire takes the energies of creativity and abuses them. Without that energy present, you cannot really renounce anything, comprehend anything.
In our exercise in retrospection, we learn to first see the ego in action and then later, comprehend how the energy steals life from our spirituality.
I will give you a concrete example. I remember working at one job in which I was greatly criticized by certain clients of mine. I remember being criticized by a person, in which egos of anger, pride, and resentment emerged. I observed the different thoughts, different feelings, the different impulses to act, but first, rather than give in to that moment, to what my desires wanted, I renounced those mechanical, repetitious, reactionary behaviors, because I understood in the moment that if I did that, I would suffer and make other people suffer. Instead, I learned to transform the situation by being calm, present, and kind.
Later, I went home, meditated on each defect, visualizing each aggregate I perceived, spending perhaps ten to fifteen minutes on each ego, asking my divine Being to show me the depth of each desire.
When I found that I had comprehended my anger, what it wanted; my pride, my resentment, how they functioned, how they interrelated, how they fed themselves, where they came from, how they emerged, how they sustained, how they acted in my mind—I prayed for annihilation, asking for disintegration from the divine feminine, my Divine Mother Kundalini, or البقره Al-Baqarah within Islam, the sacred cow. Or الْبُرَاق Al-Buraq, the lightning of the divine feminine who annihilates any aggregate we have comprehended and removed.
So, this is a synthesis we have kind of come back to again and again, but is an essential practice we need to understand. You can also look at a lecture we gave called Retrospection Meditation on our website and a course called Gnostic Meditation where we explain this in the seventh lecture at the end, in depth.
Question: I have been struggling with learning to let go of personal success, growing a business. Is it bad to own a business?
Instructor: No, not bad at all. Now, do we do our business with egotism or with ethics, with conscience? There are many wealthy people who learn to act ethically and there are many wealthy people who are completely unethical. Nothing wrong with the business. In fact, if we have a business that really helps people, then we could really do a lot of good for humanity. But the problem is that people are very materialistic-minded, and therefore, they let their ego run the show, and that is where suffering and problems exist.
Any other questions?
Question: I have noticed that as I deepen my practices in the three factors, I have experienced more dreams and the infradimensions, the hell realm, so to speak. This makes me feel sad as I am unconscious in them and cannot control my behaviors. These are actions that I would never perform in the physical dimension. Why would this happen to a devoted student?
Instructor: Because there are levels of being, levels of renunciation. We can be very chaste, devout, pure renunciates in the physical world, very dedicated to Gnosis, and yet, if we examine our dreams and our ordeals in the astral plane, we will perceive egos and aggregates that are very deeply lodged within our unconsciousness, our subconsciousness, our infraconsciousness.
There are 49 levels to the mind according to Samael Aun Weor. The physical body is merely one level. Or better said, there are seven levels within each of the lower seven סְפִירוֹת Sephiroth of the Tree of Life. So there are seven in מלכות Malkuth, seven in יסוד Yesod, seven in הוד Hod, seven in נצח Netzach, seven in תפארת Tiphereth, seven in גבורה Geburah, and seven in חֶסֶד Chesed.
We can understand certain egos in the physical world and be very serious in this path, and yet, in the more hidden layers of our own psyche, there are demons that really cause us pain. And this is a very necessary thing that happens to every student who is serious. We discover that we have a lot of iniquity, and it causes a lot of pain, and this is essential. Now, the next step is, once we have perceived this in ourselves, we have to learn to go deeper into our psyche in order to eliminate those hidden defects.
The best way to do it is by, in meditation, renouncing our body, not identifying with the sensations of our physicality. Don't move. Breathe deeply. Relax. Work with energy, your vital depth, your vital forces, so that your heart, through prayer and concentration, can calm and be filled with positive emotion, superior emotion.
Remember the qualities of your Being, retracting, withdrawing your attention from your thoughts, learning to renounce thinking—not thinking so much, not worrying about how bad we are or what a big demon we are. It is the reality, but it doesn't benefit us by stewing in the mud. Instead, it is better to relax and to remember that we have God within. No matter how impure our ego is, we have divinity inside who is pure and beautiful and divine.
We have to reflect on the qualities of our Being. So if you feel very overwhelmed by how bad the mind is, by hidden dreams that are very disturbing, remember what your Divine Mother is like. Renounce your pain. It is very difficult because we feel that great remorse and sorrow for what we really are. And personally, I have had this many times where I've seen egos in myself that fill me with so much pain that I could not stop weeping. But, the reality is that we have to learn to renounce even our deepest pains, and in that way, withdrawing our senses, learning to concentrate within in a silent state of equanimity, we learn to await the answer from our consciousness, our Spirit. By achieving serenity and renouncing the lower סְפִירוֹת Sephiroth, we can learn to receive help, the guidance we need and the comprehension we need to eliminate those really deep egos. This is the method. This is the process so that we can enter the internal planes with clarity.
Question: From our renunciations, do these teachings become more sacred to us? There is so much information, it is easy to treat the teachings like other information.
Instructor: Yes, obviously if you have experienced this knowledge personally, you learn to have faith, which is knowledge from experience. It is what you know. Not what you believe, not what you think, not what you hypothesize, but what you know from facts. And that gives you strength and courage to renounce things and information and activities that are really useless. And obviously, in this era of information, it's very easy to look at this type of knowledge and to disregard it like everything else because there are just so many teachings and instructions and schools and religions out there, that it becomes very confusing to discriminate what is of value.
We invite you to study the practices of our tradition, especially, and learn to experiment. Do not anticipate what you might have, what you might experience, or to reject them completely, but really test them, so that you can learn to verify from your own knowledge and heart what is true. In that way, you gain confidence of what is real, not from adhering to a group or following anyone or any group or teacher, but really knowing from your awakened consciousness, your soul, and that is something that cannot be taken away from you no matter how much the mind fluctuates or vacillates or changes. The Essence of the soul stays the same. That wisdom is never lost. It belongs to the Being, to God.
Question: Master Samael says that if we sacrifice every element of pain that we feel throughout our life, if we made this our work, whenever we experience even the most insignificant pain, we would die with a completely awakened consciousness and no karma. Can you talk about renunciation and separation?
Instructor: Yes, oftentimes in the words of Kahlil Gibran, the great Sufi Christian poet, “much of our pain is self-chosen.” We choose to suffer because we feel that we were wronged. We were offended, slighted, betrayed, lied to, dishonored, singled out. We have many excuses why we should invest all our energy in singing our psychological song, where we are the great martyrs of humanity. We have been honest and truthful and kind and compassionate, and yet, everybody else is wrong and we have received the bad end of the stick.
This is how many people think. We all sing our own internal psychological songs. Some of us, you know, sing the same songs again and again: the same tragedies, comedies, and stories in which we are the center of our own moral universe in which we are the righteous ones. This type of attitude does not benefit us, and moreover, it does not benefit anyone outside.
We have to learn to separate and renounce from this type of thinking. The way that we do so is through self-observation. Learn to separate as a consciousness from your three brains. Learn to see within your three brains. Look at them, at the thoughts, feelings, and impulses that emerge within the moment. This is مراقبة muraqabah (vigilance) in Arabic, or محاسبة muhasabah, in Arabic signifying “inner accounting,” to take account of our defects, to see them for what they are and not give them our energy. If we were to sacrifice our pains in this way, and these psychological songs that waste so much energy and do not produce any benefit, we will radically transform our situation. We would learn to take on very difficult situations with grace and efficacy.
Most people, and even many of us in Gnosis, we have one slight difficulty and then we complain. We choose to be in suffering in many cases. The ego does not get what it wants and therefore we feel a great crisis in ourselves. Now, that type of conflict is necessary, to feel those egos emerge in us so that we can see them and work on them. But you cannot really renounce the ego if you don't see it for what it is.
How can you give up that what you don't know? You have to see the ego in action. Observe it clearly without judging or labeling it right away, but simply look. Gather the data. Gather the facts. And then when you go home at night or you’re meditating on your day, reflect on what you saw, and be sincere. Be honest. You can't renounce negative ways of being if you don't understand what they are and how they are fed, how they are situated, how they cause problems, how you feed into them. You have to see it. And when you see it, you can learn to comprehend it.
Remember that if you learn to overcome the most insignificant pain with awareness and attention, not investing yourself in it, you learn to overcome many situations and problems that would be very difficult to handle. This is what it means to become hermetically sealed within the alchemical western tradition. Do not give your energy to the mind. Be sealed. Do not let your energy out, but conserve it by not acting negatively, but learning to act ethically. This is really how we should proceed if we really want to die with a completely awakened donsciousness and no karma.
Question: When you say renounce the lowest סְפִירוֹת Sephiroth, do you mean מלכות Malkuth?
Instructor: Yes, that's part of it. So in one meditation, you can basically observe the body, become aware of the body, relax deeply, and then renounce the physical body. Go deep into meditation, relaxed, in a state of concentration and clarity, equanimity, and you can learn to abandon your physicality as a consciousness.
Likewise, you can abandon יסוד Yesod, the vital body; הוד Hod, the astral body; נצח Netzach, the mental body; תפארת Tiphereth, the causal body; גבורה Geburah, the divine soul, and reach חֶסֶד Chesed, the Spirit. And even you can abandon חֶסֶד Chesed to renounce the lower סְפִירוֹת Sephiroth in order to enter the higher spheres of the Tree of Life, and even the Absolute.
It is a form of meditation we can perform, very difficult for beginners, but something that one can master through a lot of patience and experience, through practice.
In synthesis, some books and texts that can help you in this process of renunciation include the book Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology, especially the chapter called The Observer and The Observed, as well as Individuality.
Practice with self-observation, learn to observe your quality of mind, thought, feeling, and action from moment to moment by learning to see our own defects in action. By separating from the mind, egotism, desires (nafs), we can gather data about our essential qualities of being, so that we can change and renounce behaviors that are negative, and learn to enact positive virtuous action.
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