All religions teach the need for cultivating virtue and conquering vice. However, as we perform a holistic study of various meditative and contemplative traditions, we find that different explanations, different teachings, different principles, were taught in accordance with idiosyncrasy, the skills, the language of their practitioners and messengers, while the outward forms might seem different, particularized to a specific geography or moment in history.
In reality, when we examine the heart of meditation within all religions, we find that they are universal. There is a common thread. There is a synthesis regarding how to establish within oneself an alert, serene, clarified, cognitive state, that has the capacity to perceive the inner depths of a thing. All these traditions emphasize the need to develop the capacities of the consciousness, the virtues of the soul, by comprehending and removing the different psychological contaminants that afflict our daily state.
In our tradition, we spend a lot of time and emphasize how to practice meditation. We have received a very beautiful gift from our teacher Samael Aun Weor, whose books and writings offer a profound, practical basis by which to understand and interpret the variety of religious forms that we have been graced with. What is unique about his writings is that they specifically target the core teaching of meditation, the principles, the archetypes, the practices and blueprints by which we generate a new way of being, a virtuous state, a compassionate heart. Likewise, what is interesting is that his writings are very clear. They are very refined because they synthesize thousands of years of teaching about meditation, and so there is a lot of knowledge and wisdom contained in his books.
Unfortunately, for many people his writings are difficult precisely because they are given in a language that is directed to the consciousness, not the intellect. We make a very clear distinction between the mind, intellectualism, rationality, and a state of understanding, comprehension, real insight into the problems of life, which if we are honest with ourselves, we can find that our mind creates problems for us. The intellect cannot know anything beyond its domain, which is the acquisition of data: to compare and contrast information, to label concepts upon phenomena. The mind is a useful instrument when it is placed within its orbit, when it is cultivated with a real deep understanding of the virtues of the heart.
What is interesting about Samael Aun Weor’s writings is that they are very potent, very refined, very synthetic, as I said. He is often referred to as the Master of the Synthesis. Much in the same way that you can take 10,000 roses to produce a 5 ml bottle of rose oil―which is the size of your thumb―likewise Samael Aun Weor gave us a wonderful gift in which he extracted the essence of diverse religious forms to arrive at a very pure understanding of religion, of yoga, of spirituality, of meditation. Unfortunately, for some people it is too much. His writings are too strong. His teachings are very potent.
His name in Hebrew, interestingly enough, means “the perfume of God,” the aroma of divinity: סמאל Samael. It is also the “poison of God” because it is very strong, very direct, and very profound. His message goes to the core of what we are and points out the obstacles of the mind. It is poison to the ego. It is a knowledge that very expediently, directly, and powerfully approaches the fundamental issue of why we meditate, which is to cultivate virtue and to conquer our vices.
For some people, when approaching his writings, it is good to understand the context in which he had written and provided this knowledge. What is very useful is to study his books on meditation like The Revolution of the Dialectic, Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology, and The Great Rebellion in conjunction with proven traditions and ancient methods, so that we understand and have clarity that this is not the teaching of one man. It is universal.
So in this lecture we are going to synthesize many points that he made in relation to meditation, practical techniques, the science of knowing oneself. But also, complementing his wisdom are the traditions in which he also studied, extracted, synthesized, and refined that knowledge. You will find many explanations in this lecture regarding Buddhist meditation especially from Tibet, the Mahayana and Tantrayana traditions. In explaining this synthesis, we will touch upon these traditions and how they all connect, so that we can radically achieve a profound state of serenity and deep insight into our daily problems.
The Purpose of Meditation
We will explore the purpose of meditation, why we meditate, why we reflect, and why we approach spirituality.
Meditation is a science in which we explore our inner reality, our states, our psychological nature, our qualities of mind, so that by separating from the world, the senses, the distractions of life, from the hustle and bustle of modern living, we can begin to gain a clarity and understating of how we produce our own suffering.
There are certain things in life that we cannot control. There are certain events in our politics, our society, our culture, that appear to be beyond our scope of influence, things that we cannot change. While there are many problems in life that afflict humanity, and while we may feel overwhelmed by the chaos that has been afflicting many people, we can learn to understand our own agency in this, to comprehend what we can do in this mess, what we can do to change our own daily problems, our confusion, our suffering, our fears, our morbidity, our disillusionment.
We practice meditation in this tradition because we really want to understand why we are in pain, but more importantly how to cease suffering. If you have studied Buddhism, you are familiar with the Four Noble Truths, and that 1) in life there is suffering, 2) that suffering has causes and 3) the causes of suffering can cease, but likewise, 4) there is a path known as meditation that leads towards the complete nullification of our conditioned, suffering, and psychological states. Meditation is the process by which we gain information about who we are, about our own psychological contaminants, defects, errors.
One has to be very confused to think that one is perfect in life and that we do not possess some type of fault or chip on our shoulder. Most people do recognize that they have errors but do not really know the process by which to actively look at them, confront them, comprehend them, and eliminate them. Meditation will provide us the groundwork by which we can do this, in which we can see within ourselves without confusion, assumption, belief, or preconception about what is really going on.
Most people are in a state of perplexity, confusion, disorder, and ignorance, not because we lack some intellectual knowledge, but because we do not understand how our behaviors produce the consequences of our life. It is a law of nature. We follow the trajectory of our actions, our behaviors, of our choices. If we are in a very negative situation and, while we like to blame our neighbor, our community, our spouse, whomever it may be, we have to be honest with our mind. We have to be very direct with ourselves and to really look where we do not want to: at the causes of our present circumstance, of how we ended up, and where we are at. If we are not happy with our situation, then we have to go within. We have to look at our choices and not to defend our sentiments with such vehement emotion, with animal instinct, with terrible fear. We have to look honestly, to observe in ourselves what we have in abundance and what we lack.
For some people, meditation is a means of acquiring spiritual experience, and this is very valid and useful. The truth is that even having some blissful state―in which you escape for some moments the conditions and limitations of your own mind―the only purpose of that is to inspire you to look at yourself further, to examine what keeps you encaged. What are the obstacles in our life? What are our repeated, observable, cyclical behaviors? In what way do we keep repeating the same actions, in the same circumstances, and why we should expect a different result? But the common tendency is to ignore our own culpability, our responsibility, our own agency.
So, meditation will provide us the means by which we can really reflect on our quality of life, our state of being, our purpose for living. If we are suffering a lot, if we are confused, if we are distracted, but we feel in our heart a deep inquietude, a deep yearning, or uneasiness in our very being, we have to listen to that. That is what guides our meditation. That is what guides our introspection. That is what drives us to understand what spirituality is and what to do.
The Natural Laws of Meditation
There are three trainings in diverse traditions. You find this dynamic especially within Tibetan Buddhism. You find it in traditions like the mystical doctrine of the Sufis, the mystics of Islam―three degrees or stages. You find it in Freemasonry. You find it all throughout the world, which proves and emphasizes that there are steps to meditation. It is a scientific approach. These are based on laws of nature. If you wish to enter and develop, to realize a real state of equanimity, of internal divine perception, you have to fulfill the causes and requisites of their fruition.
Believing or not believing, thinking or not thinking, assuming or rejecting with our mind or heart, does not indicate any real change, because psychological transformation is based on the actions that produce them. Just as nature has its laws, likewise, our spiritual life has laws. Divinity has laws. In the East this is known as karma: cause and effect, action and reaction. For every effect there is a cause, and in every cause there is an effect. It is inescapable in the same way that gravity is inescapable. You can believe that gravity will not affect you and therefore leap off a cliff. We can believe whatever we want, but nature does not adhere to our preferences, our assumptions, our ideologies, our concepts. Nature is nature.
So in this approach to meditation, we are very factual. While we may have lots of literature, and many concepts that we study intellectually, the real blossoming of the soul is based on enacting superior causes and conditions, superior ways of being, a higher level of being, because if you follow superior actions, you will produce superior results. It is a basic law. In science, they call it invariance, in which if you produce an action, you then must face the consequences of it. Maybe in this lifetime, maybe not in a few days, but eventually you will. So, by enacting superior, ethical behaviors like compassion, kindness, generosity, moral and psychological purity, we produce a conduit or a psychological matrix in which we are generating and activating a real potential.
The truth is that we need to create a space within our psychology that is conducive for realizing the spirit, our inner divinity, our inner God. When we lack serenity in our daily states, we cannot see clearly within. This is why ethics is the foundation within all meditative traditions. If you fulfill a horrible action, if you lie, if you steal, if you kill, not only are there physical consequences, societal repercussions, confrontations with the law, we really in turn disturb the waters of the mind. We become agitated. Just like a lake that cannot reflect clearly the heavens upon its surface when it is churned, in the same manner our mind cannot reflect anything positive within its surface. If we are engaging in negative, harmful behaviors, instead what we will have is a whirlpool, a storm, a hurricane, which most people define as our life.
But there are ways to train. The beginning is to train in ethics (Sanskrit शील sila). Refrain from harmful behaviors. Enact positive, conscious behaviors. We call this self-observation in our tradition. We observe ourselves. We examine, moment by moment, our thoughts, actions, our feelings, our impulses, our instincts, in the same way that a director of a film observes an actor in a scene. The actor is your own mind. It is your own negative emotions. It is your own instinctual, animalistic habits and behaviors. The consciousness, the soul, or what we call the Essence, is the director. We are looking within. We are examining our mind. We are examining our heart, and examining our impulses to be.
In this way, we are learning to distinguish and discriminate what to do in life in the moment. We call that conscience: following the inner judgement of our heart. That is the voice that emanates from divinity. The mind can rationalize and debate, “This behavior is good. I should do this,” and have many justifications, and yet we taste the flavor, the aftermath, the consequences of this―bitterness, remorse, sorrow. It is better to have foresight rather than hindsight. But so long as we are making changes in our daily life, we can in turn progress. We progress based on ethics. Again, acquiring information by observing yourself and by learning to fulfill the intuitions of your heart, the voice of conscience, we learn to navigate the boisterous seas of our life. Things begin to calm. The waters settle.
In that way we start to acquire states of समाधी samadhi. This is the word in Sanskrit meaning “bliss,” ecstasy of the soul. We start to experience blissful states of consciousness as we are working with concentration. We are beginning to integrate our mind, which is usually very dispersed, diffused, and distracted amongst multiple activities and obligations. The mind tends to be all over the place. But as you being to learn to observe yourself, remember yourself, and remember what you are doing at any given moment, you begin to integrate your consciousness. You start to strengthen it so that you gain continuity in your alert, novel, perceptive states, so that you can begin to understand something more profoundly in you. As you access that you feel bliss, you feel a sense of joy. You feel inspired. You feel elevated as you begin to recognize you are not anger. You are not pride. You are not fear. You are not resentment. You are not lust. You are not desire. You are something much more than that.
Some people have written to us online with a lot of distress, a lot of unhappiness, saying they have tried these techniques and methods and yet they continue to suffer a lot. They have many negative thoughts, many fears they say they can see in themselves. They recognize they have defects, but they are not changing and just feel very dark and sour. This proves that one does not have ethics. One is not awake. If we are not paying attention and seeing the mind for what it is, then we are identified with it. We are feeding it our energy. We invest ourselves in that self, in that anger, that pride, that morbidity, that resentment, instead of separating it and not feeding it, because when you recognize yourself, you feel joy. You feel happiness. You feel bliss. You feel samadhi to a degree.
Some people like to refer samadhi as some elevated mystical experiences within different dimensions, but the truth is that samadhi or bliss has to do with our perception and quality of being here and now. You will recognize a selfless state when it happens, as you are cultivating superior behavior in your mind, in your heart, in your body. Samadhi, the bliss of the awakened consciousness, a concentrated perception, is such that when you are not invested within the different modifications of the different defects you carry within, you begin to subsist within your own true nature, which is the soul, the Essence, the consciousness.
Prajna: Profound Wisdom
In this way, as you are established in that state, you then enter profound wisdom, which in Sanskrit is known as प्रज्ञ prajna. Prajna is the capacity for insight, when you really go into the depth of a phenomenon and even within noumena, the truth, the thing in itself, the essence of a given thing. Profound wisdom is the capacity to have profound perceptive understanding and analysis of very obscure things, qualities and states that are not accessible to the physical senses.
They are apprehended by, first, developing concentration, and when that is very strong, we begin to see things, have visions within our meditations. We can even physically leave our body and enter the superior dimensions in nature, which in kabbalah it is known as the Tree of Life.
The Integration of the Three Trainings
We need to cultivate all these qualities in ourselves. They are predicated and grounded within one another. As you begin to develop ethics, you begin to establish a state of concentration to a degree, happiness and joy in recognition of your work, your successes, and also your failures, by learning to move ahead so that with enough practice, we develop profound wisdom, by having insight of different experiences of life. But also, within meditation, we begin to feed our ethics even further. These work together. They complement each other. They funnel and feed within each other. These dynamics are deep and are interrelated. You cannot separate one from the other. If you want success in meditation, you have to consider these in their totality.
Types of Meditation
There are different types of meditation. We can talk about two specifically. There are meditations that focus on stabilizing the consciousness and there are meditations that help us to analyze, to develop perceptive, critical understanding of whatever we are focusing on in our practice.
When we are stabilizing the consciousness, we are learning to concentrate. In the beginning, right now, our mind is all over the place. Concentration is the capacity to focus our attention on one thing without being distracted. If you sit, close your eyes, introspect, and simply look at your quality of mind, in the beginning of our discipline, we find we are thinking many associative thoughts. There is a chain of compare and contrast, thesis and antithesis, good and bad, memories relating to other situations that relate to something else, and the mind wanders. If we forget that we sat down to meditate, to look within, we can recognize that we lack concentration. We do not remember what we are doing. We are not focused on one thing and being distracted by others.
This quality, concentration, is very important. In the beginning, it is necessary to learn to concentrate. Learn to focus your perception, your consciousness, so that you can focus on one thing and not get lost. If you examine your day, if you take public transportation, you start thinking of other things or daydreaming. Maybe you are listening to your music player thinking about something that happened earlier in the day, not paying attention to your surroundings, not being aware, and then we forget our stop. It means that we are not awake. We are asleep. We are daydreaming. We are not conscious. That has to change.
You learn primarily to develop concentration when you are learning to be aware of yourself, your surroundings, and your internal states at all times. If you are learning to self-observe yourself throughout the day, your meditations are going to be very strong because meditation, as a state of being, is based on the capacity to focus throughout the day. This is genuine willpower.
Now in the West we like to think of willpower as something aggressive, violent, abrasive perhaps. But willpower is really the effort of the consciousness to place attention to one thing with serenity. Genuine willpower is very gentle. It is not mental exertion: the mind investing in a lot of thinking, or the heart in feeling, or the body in acting. The consciousness is beyond that. Conscious will, it is the capacity to perceive without having to think or to rely on negative emotions or instincts. It is a serene perception and introspection within oneself. It is a state of equipoise. It is quiescence, in which with your willpower, you are learning to observe yourself and not get distracted by anything, to be alert and attentive.
As you are doing that, much in the same manner as you are riding a boat that rocks with the waves when you are moving, when you sit still and maintain your focus by holding on to the mast of the ship and do not move, eventually, the waters will calm. Then you can start to see things clearly. The storm passes. It is the same thing with our mind. With willpower, we learn to sit still from a state of perception. In meditation, we learn to calm the body, calm the mind, calm the heart, and in that way, you are gaining an understanding of how chaotic your mind was. You do not get identified with it.
This state is known as calm abiding in Sanskrit: शमथ shamatha, or in Tibetan: shyine. It is very important to develop this. You do this with concentration exercises, but also learning to self-observe your self and remember yourself through out the day, to not be inattentive, asleep.
We also have analytical forms of meditation which relate to the capacity to perceive with clarity. There are visualization exercises in which you perceive non-physical imagery. If I tell you think of an apple, you can see it. It is not a physical thing, but it is in your mind. That is visualization. It is the capacity to perceive non-physical images, which is important when we learn how to perceive and understand ourselves.
In the beginning, our capacities to visualize tend to be very weak, very dispersed, very clouded, very obscure. But with analytical forms of meditation, like visualization practices, we strengthen the capacity of the soul, the consciousness, to see within. We do this through exercises like retrospection meditation, in which we learn to visualize our day: what we thought, what we felt, what we did. You can review your day from the morning to evening, or evening to the morning. You visualize what you saw in yourself. You rely on facts. In this way you begin to comprehend the different defects that manifest in you from moment to moment. This is how you gain inner vision: internal understanding. You start to see yourself in a new way when you look at the observable facts of your existence, so that you can gain deep, lasting knowledge about what actions are wrong and what you can do to change them.
Some people call this faculty clairvoyance. Unfortunately, it is a French term meaning “clear vision” that was created by a group of French initiates who wanted to establish a technical language and flavor to their art, so that the uninitiated would not basically disturb them in their practices. Unfortunately, this term has harmed many people, in the sense that many believe clairvoyance, this visualization capacity, this dynamic, is something only for the exceptional and the few, when in reality, it is merely the faculty of imagination: to see within.
That imagination can be subjective, meaning, conditioned by our own internal states, our defects, our defects, or it can be purified and clear meaning conscious, undisturbed, objective. This is known as insight (in Sanskrit: विपश्यना vipassana).
Qualities of Concentration
Let us talk about some qualities of concentration. I already mentioned a few.
Real concentration in the end is effortless. I know that in the beginning if we sit to focus, perhaps on a candle, observing the flame, as one practice you can do, or in the exercise of self-observation, in the beginning, it takes a lot of effort. It is very intense to stay alert, because you find, as you are trying to observe yourself, that you forget. You get lost within the mind. You forgot what you were doing. It takes a lot of energy within the consciousness to be present. But as you really cultivate concentration within yourself, it does not take any effort, because when you establish a momentum and that quality or way of being in life, it is natural. It is serene. It is calm.
We make a very clear distinction between mental exertion of the mind and the willpower of the consciousness. The consciousness is serene. It is calm. It happens spontaneously even as you are training yourself, so that you can respond to any situation in life with understanding, with wisdom, with compassion. In the higher stages of concentration, there is no effort involved, when it is perfect. In that way, it is unafflicted by desire, by defects.
As I said, concentration relates and can relate to the state of bliss, in which as you are observing yourself, you are not tossed about by the mind. You are not hurt by your own anger, because you have created a space, in the sense of separation, enough that you can look at yourself without getting caught up, being swallowed by the animal. Instead, you confront it. You look at it with equanimity, with calm, and in that way, you are inspired. You have bliss.
The greatest joy of the Gnostic is the discovery of one of his or her defects, because a discovered defect will be a dead defect. ―Samael Aun Weor
So, there is joy in that work. It is a continuous process. When concentration is really maintained throughout the day in a continuous, persistent, disciplined manner, gently bringing ourselves back to the present moment, we develop what is known as mindfulness: continuity of attention. Self-observation is the capacity to observe yourself in moment, but maintaining that throughout the day, that continuity, is known as mindfulness: to remember yourself all the time. With practice you gain clarity of yourself. You see and understand your daily states without labels, without conceptualizing what is going on, saying perhaps, “This is pride,” “this is anger,” or “this is fear.” Instead, you just look at yourself. You see yourself.
While it is important in our studies to understand the different qualities of our defects, it is important not to get caught up in terms. Sometimes we refer to the seven deadly sins or the legion of defects to help us have some type of groundwork to approach the complexities of our mind. When we talk about self-observation, you learn how to see how each defect works together, but also individually. Defects are not easy to categorize, if we are really honest and look at ourselves, because anger can be proud. Lust can be gluttonous. Fear can be angry. Vanity can be greedy. Each ego has its unique flavor that we have to comprehend and not to box up in some category in the intellect. This type of perception and concentration we are talking about is not strictly limited to a set of ideas. It is something really deep.
As you are observing yourself, you get a more vivid, intense, and stable consciousness. The consciousness becomes more robust as you exercise it, in the same manner that by going to the gym, you get stronger. It is also one-pointed in the sense like if you are really investing your whole heart and concentration within your consciousness, you are able to direct it at one thing at will, and to sustain it at will, for however long you want. This is what it means to be undistracted, and it is that foundation that allows us not to be obscured within ourselves.
When you are able to look at something with your consciousness without obscurations, without distraction, you start to understand the inherent nature of that thing. It is selfless. Self-observation, when the consciousness is looking within, does not have a self. It is clear and unconditioned. To be specific, the ego in Latin is a term for “I,” “myself,” “me,” “my desire,” etc. That is the self we need to understand and know so that by comprehending them, we can eventually remove them. But the consciousness does not have a conditioned sense of self there. Consciousness is perception. It is knowing. It is understanding. It is liberated, but it is not based upon a sense of “I.” This is something that you can only understand through experience and through the practices that we are going to elaborate.
The Basis of Concentration
So the basis of concentration involves some teachings from the Lam-rim Chen-mo [The Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment], Tsongkhapa especially, a great Buddhist master who explained in his writings some ethical foundations and some stipulations that can help us to develop basic concentration.
One of them we already mentioned is an ethical lifestyle. If we are killing, stealing, lying, performing sexual misconduct, indulging in alcohol or intoxicants, negative behaviors, extortion, crime, etc., then we do not have basis in which to concentrate, because our mind will be a complete storm. Ethical livelihood, a compassionate lifestyle, is our best defense against negative circumstances in life. As Samael Aun Weor wrote:
The best weapon in life is a correct psychological state. ―Samael Aun Weor, Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology
Ethics has to do with living appropriately in the given moment. Cultivate your mind and cultivate a better way of being.
We also need to cultivate an environment that is going to help us rather than hinder us. A conducive environment has to do with establishing a space in our home or a place to go to meditate. For some people, their home is not an option. Maybe we have roommates, or other people nearby, neighbors, whatever it may be. We need to learn how to cultivate a space or have somewhere to go to practice. It is ideal to have a room in your home that you can dedicate to meditation. Have a well kept space and altar because that devotion to that particular space and environment for practice can charge us with a lot of enthusiasm, and a lot of joy to really continue and aspire in these studies.
For some people, a room is not an option, but instead one has a corner in their apartment or home, a park, or temple they go to. Whatever it is, we need a conducive environment that is going to facilitate our capacity to concentrate within.
In that way, we have to learn to reduce the desire for more. For some people, we have attachments to future expectations or longings for a better situation, better environment, better circumstances. Maybe some people (and it is common in the Gnostic movement) want a Gnostic spouse, feeling and thinking that they cannot meditate and enter the path if they are not married. This is an illusion. Whatever our desires for more or for different situations, we have to reduce our attachments.
We have to learn to become like renunciates, as seen in this image of Buddha Gautama Shakyamuni shaving his hair off before he became an ascetic. He eventually entered the wilderness in order to fully dedicate himself to meditation. Now, we are not advocating that kind of extreme practice, fakirism, or living in the wild to just meditate all day and only eating a grain of rice, which is extreme. Instead, what we are learning to do is be content with our situation. We need to learn to renounce our attachments and our desires for a different situation. We need to learn to accept what we have. We are where we are at in accordance with our actions, our karma. Our situation is a direct reflection of our mental states:
The internal is the reflection of the external. ―Immanuel Kant
If you want a better situation in your life, we need to learn to be content with what we have and the blessings that we already received, to accept our karma like the hammer and the anvil. It can be painful, yet we have to learn to get comfortable with adverse and difficult situations. If you are changing your mind, transforming your mind, having gratitude for the gift of life, and the fact that we still have a consciousness that can work despite a physical, emotional, or mental illness, we can really learn to transform ourselves. I have known people in these studies who have suffered really terrible illnesses, physically, emotionally, and mentally. I know one person who is suffering from schizophrenia, and by learning to comprehend his own inadequacies and faults, by learning to get treated and helped, has achieved great progress. There are some people who have a physical ailment, or are paraplegic, who cannot walk, who are sick. There is one example of a meditator who was dying of dysentery. If you are not familiar with that, it is very painful, and yet he still developed his meditation practice. So, reduce your desires and accept your situation.
Renouncing Useless Activities
It is not easy, but if you do and learn to renounce useless activities and distractions, we really can radically change.
So, some useless activities that we are probably already familiar with: fsome people, it is television, browsing the internet, doing useless things that really do not produce anything spiritual for us. Yet we tend to gravitate towards these things because our mind is agitated and wants to do something.
By reducing and renouncing useless activities, we learn to spend more time in useful activities like meditating and developing concentration.
Supportive Posture and Relaxation
We have to have a supportive posture, supporting our spine in a way, relaxing deeply, so that we can calm the body and also forget about it. The important basis of concentration is that our posture has to be adequate enough, in which we can relax it completely and no longer be identified with its itches, scratches, or discomforts. Calm your body. Spend a lot of time relaxing it, and learn a position that is useful for you. It can be full lotus or half lotus. Particularly for Easterners, this tends to be very common. For Westerners, you can sit on a chair or lay on our back. Although I do recommend that, if you are learning concentration for the first time, to do so sitting up on a chair, because sometimes laying on our back can be so relaxing that you forget the practice and you fall asleep. Learn to relax to the point that your body can suspend its activities, your senses calm, and you can look within completely, but without forgetting what you are doing.
For this we have to learn to work with energy. The consciousness needs energy to work. It cannot be active if we are not working with our vital forces, our mental forces, and our emotional forces. Every action requires energy in life, without exception. If we are wasting energy mentally, emotionally, or sexually―as we explain in our tradition as the most important energy we need to work―then consciousness will be depleted. It will not be able to awaken in a positive, pure, and clear way. We need energy to awaken the soul. If you are interested in learning how to work with creative energy especially, you can study Samael Aun Weor’s The Perfect Matrimony, or books like Kundalini Yoga and The Yellow Book.
Introspection and Withdrawal of the Senses
As you are working with energy, you are withdrawing your senses. You are working with exercises like pranayama, which is the practice of controlling the breath. You circulate the vital forces of your body, and in that way, you are withdrawing your attention from the external world. You are introspecting and entering your own psychology. You are calming. You are entering quiescence, equanimity, dispassion.
Mindfulness and Abandoning Distraction
As you are going within, you are developing mindfulness. You are not forgetting what you are doing. Mindfulness is important when you are developing concentration, as I said. You need to learn to self-observe throughout the entire day, not just for one moment, but for our entire, daily states, our entire life. We already mentioned that it is important to abandon distractions, things that are really pointless, as I said.
Also, abandoning distractions is not only physically renouncing activities, but it is learning to avoid the distractions of our mind. If we are sitting to concentrate upon something and your mind is thinking of something else and wants to go over some minute detail of your day, it can be good to look at it for a moment, but then abandon that distraction and return to the point of your practice. If you are sitting to practice with a specific purpose, I recommend that you fulfill that and stick to your guns, so to speak. Do not do something else than what you intended at the beginning of your practice, so that you have consistency and continuity, because the mind will look for excuses and opportunity to do what it wants, which is to wander in the mind.
Vigilance, Awareness, and Self-Observation
Vigilance helps us to establish concentration because, as I said before, with mindfulness, we learn to be awake at all times. To be in vigil means “to not sleep. “ Vigilance also has to do with the clarity and quality of our perception, to really see oneself in greater depth, greater vividness, intensity and purity. Awareness has to do with remembering oneself, being aware of one’s environment, and observing oneself moment by moment.
All of these principles help to establish concentration. If you practice these principles very heartily, you will radically progress.
Some basic concentration practices include focusing on external sensory objects. That is very good for beginners especially.
Upon External Sensory Objects: Breath
We have concentration upon the breath, Anapanasati, in which you only focus on the inhalations, the retention and the exhalations of breath. If the mind starts to think of something else, just focus on the breath. This is a very useful exercise when you are beginning to develop concentration, because grounding yourself in a natural function of your body can help you to gain awareness of yourself and some continuity in your attention. You can inhale for eight seconds, retain the breath for eight seconds, and exhale for eight seconds―however long you need, whatever is natural for your lung’s capacity.
Upon External Sensory Objects: Mantra
We have mantras and sacred sounds, which are vocalized sacred words. Mantra literally means “mind protection.” It is a vibration of sound in which it reverberates within our body, our internal physiology, and within our consciousness. Sacred sounds are a great way to charge your body with energy, and they help you to focus as well. It is good in the beginning to mantralize out loud. It is good to vocalize these sounds because there is a physical benefit to them.
There are practices in our tradition like the runes, which you can study on Glorian.org, in which you adapt postures in your body and vocalize sacred sounds in accompaniment with prayer, so that these energies and vibrations activate different centers of your psychology and physiology. It is also good to pronounce sacred mantras by whispering them throughout the day if you want to maintain your attention and concentration while you are at work. You can also do it mentally if you do not want people to notice.
We work with all three aspects: the physical vocalized component, there is a whispered component, and there is a silent recitation in the mind. Swami Sivananda wrote that silent Japa, mental recitation, is the most powerful because it requires the most attention and skill. I recommend that you work with all aspects of this. Spend some time vocalizing out loud during the day, whisper them as well, but also mentally pronounce these mantras when you are engaged in your daily life. This will help you maintain profound concentration and mindfulness.
Upon External Sensory Objects: Relaxation, Pulsation, Circulation
You can also concentrate upon the pulsation and circulation of your heart. This helps you to relax. Focusing on your heartbeat is very beautiful. It really grounds you in your own body. It helps you to realize that your heart, your physiology, your body, is a beautiful living thing with intelligence, with life. We often ignore our own body throughout the day. We are tense. We are uptight. We are agitated. By learning to relax your body, by learning to focus on the beat of the heart, you become more aware of yourself. You become more in tune. You relax. Relaxation is key. You want to relax yourself and your body to the point that you can forget about it. With this exercise, if you are really concentrated, your body can fall asleep, and you can have an astral projection through the chakra of your heart. It is very beautiful and very effective.
Upon Internal, Visualized, and Conceptual Objects: Candle or Stone
You can also concentrate upon internal, visualized, and conceptual objects like a candle or a stone. Light a candle. You observe it. You look at its features. You examine it and close your eyes. Then gently you construct the image your mind. Let it appear and show itself within your imagination. You learn to observe that quality in your consciousness, your imagination. You are visualizing the object. If the mind starts to play with the image―which it will―simply open your eyes again. Become observant again. Observe the candle. Look at it. Then close your eyes and visualize again. With practice you will learn to sustain an image with real intensity and vividness, with clarity and longer periods of time. You can also take a stone and simply observe it and visualize it as well in the same way.
The point is not to think of other things or let the mind do what it wants. But on this point, it is also important not to force the mind to do your practice. You do not want to exert tension in your mind. Imagination does not take effort in the sense that you are trying to build something in your intellect. You want to look at the image, close your eyes, gently bring it upon the screen of your attention, your visualization. If you are tense, relax. Open your eyes and look at the object again. This is not a violent repression of the mind. Do not beat it up. Do not beat yourself up. It is very calm and very peaceful.
Upon Internal, Visualized, and Conceptual Objects: Sacred Art, Sculptures, Mandalas
If you gain some skill, you can learn to concentrate on sculptures or mandalas, which are sacred art forms. They represent qualities and principles of divinity, which can inspire our practice. It takes more skill to visualize, obviously, more complex images, and we will talk about this in brief in the next few slides.
You can also focus on a plant which is the body of an elemental soul of nature, in which you learn to observe the plants features and visualize its qualities. If you are really deep in your meditation, you are concentrated and fully focused on what you are doing, you can relax to the point of falling asleep, then learn to enter the superior worlds to speak and communicate with the soul, the elemental of that plant. It is a very beautiful experience.
Upon One’s Own Mind without Discernment or Distraction
Lastly, you can explore and concentrate upon your own mind without discernment or distraction. This practice is not accompanied with a deeper visualization. What it is, is that you are looking at your internal states, not trying to discern or look at the depths of these defects, but you are learning to just look at the flowing thoughts and distractions of your mind without getting carried away by it. It is like looking at a blue sky in which clouds emerge, they sustain, and they pass. Concentration can be developed in that way. It can be very difficult for beginners, but work with whichever exercises help you most.
Deepening Concentration: Mindfulness
There are ways to deepen concentration once it is initiated. Mindfulness, as I said, is the capacity to remember what you are doing moment by moment throughout your entire day. Concentration is much more robust and strong as you consistently return yourself back to the origin of your discipline
Deepening Concentration: Remembrance
Remember your practice. For some people they like to have alarms on their clocks, watches, or phones set throughout different times of the day, so they can remember to engage their practice in case they forget what they have done or what they have been doing. Their alarm can bring them back. For some people, that can be very useful.
Deepening Concentration: Vigilance
Vigilance, as I said, is the capacity to not sleep, to be aware at all times, to remember yourself. Once you learn to identify distractions in the moment―this takes a lot of discernment and skill)―if you have established some degree of concentration, not forgetting what you are doing, there are other forms of distractions that emerge from the subconsciousness, infraconsciousness, and unconsciousness that ripple upon the surface of our awareness. As the waters are stilling, you can learn to look within with more profundity to learn and see the origins of distractions before they even really manifest upon the surface.
Deepening Concentration: Remedy Excitement and Laxity
Sometimes we can feel excitement or laxity in our meditation practice. You can feel overexcited or agitated, like you want results, or you can feel lax like you are really dull, heavy. You want to fall asleep. You simply enter oblivion, eight hours of unconsciousness where one does not even dream.
The remedy for excitement is to learn to reflect upon your mortality. Reflect on the fact that at one point we will die. Our life will end. Therefore, why be agitated? We have to face the reality of our circumstances, of our life.
For overexcitement, some desire for something, we have to curb that by understanding and reflecting that our desires are transient. They are futile. They are impermanent. Reflect on impermanence. Nothing lasts forever in this universe. Therefore, why be attached?
If you are lax or dull, you can practice a visualization exercise. You can imagine a bright sun in your consciousness, your mind, in your heart, as you see in this image of a buddha meditating towards the sun. Imagine a bright, brilliant, golden sun within your consciousness, so that light can give you strength and inspiration. You can also visualize any image that gives you joy and encouragement from the diverse religious traditions, so that you are inspired to embody those qualities.
Deepening Concentration: Notice an Object’s Qualities as They Are
The important thing is that we need to notice an object’s qualities as they are. We cannot project our assumptions and ideas of what we are seeing. You just have to look at what is there. Do not let the mind label what you are seeing. In that way, you abandon expectations, assumptions, or thinking that your meditation will end up a certain way. Some people enter a meditation expecting a samadhi, an astral projection, a mystical experience, and they ignore that that very desire is what obscures their practice. We have to abandon all expectations. Let the mind settle. Simply be, and if the experiences come, they will do so by their own accord when you are receptive.
Deepening Concentration: Increase Relaxation
You can also learn to increase your relaxation in order to really deepen concentration, because if you are agitated by excitement or feeling dull, you want to relax the body. But again, if you are too tense, you want to let go so much on the strain, so to speak. You do not want to be too tight psychologically.
Deepening Concentration: Unwavering and Effortless Focus
We need unwavering and effortless focus. This is something that happens in the higher degrees of concentration in which you no longer waver from thing to thing. You are no longer distracted. But then as you are becoming more acquainted with that state, it does not take any effort. It is effortless. You simply will it and it is. It is very gentle, spontaneous, intuitive, and a wonderful, blissful state.
Deepening Concentration: Don’t Exert Thought and Energy
Now, if you are forgetting yourself, gently refocus upon the object. I cannot emphasize this enough. Do not exert the mind. Recall your attention. Reflect upon the object, and be gentle. Do not exert yourself with thought and energy. That can be a major obstacle towards the end of your concentration practices, especially as you are advancing towards higher stages. If you exert yourself to any degree, you will lose that state. For some people, they can be meditating or even having an astral projection, in which they are awake in that state, then they become fearful or engage in a thought for the moment or they exert their mind, and then they lose the samadhi, the ecstasy, the experience. Do not exert yourself at that point. Let your mind settle.
Deepening Concentration: Momentary Retrospection
If you forget what you are doing at some point in your meditation, it is good to utilize a momentary retrospection when you lose that mindfulness. So, if you are meditating and you remember your object, but then for a minute you forget what you are doing, it is good to reflect in that moment about what thought led you down that chain of associative thinking, that led you towards distraction.
Qualities of Insight
Some qualities of insight that are really important to reflect upon, as I said, are insight, which is imagination: the ability to perceive internal imagery. In the same way that you dream, you perceive images that are not physical. Likewise, imagination is that capacity. It is direct perception of internal reality.
Dreams occur in a material dimension that is not physical. There is a different form of matter and energy there. There is a reality there that is very concrete, but it is not as concrete as our physical dimension. Likewise, our internal experiences emerge within our consciousness in the form of non-physical images, sounds, visions. This is clairvoyance.
But unfortunately in us, our perception tends to be very clouded. It is very conditioned. Most of our time throughout the day, we engage in fantasy. As I said, when we are distracted, we are thinking of our co-worker, perhaps, and an event we had in the day. Perhaps we were angered by their actions, and so we are ruminating about revenge. This is negative clairvoyance, fantasy. It is mechanical. It just happens within the mind, and we simply go with it if we are not questioning ourselves, examining ourselves. That is a negative psychological state in which we are wasting profound reservoirs of energy within our body, heart, and mind.
Real clairvoyance, real vision, conscious imagination, pure seeing, is when we are looking at the contents of our experience without any ego there to filter. In the beginning, it is going to be mixed, because we are training ourselves for the first time. We are learning to see ourselves, who we are.
But of course in the beginning, we are going to be mixed, as I said. Often times in the beginning, we struggle to visualize. We struggle to see the qualities and colors of an image, and to sustain that within our consciousness.
It is important to reflect that there are different forms of visualization or imagination, we can say. I mentioned that there is a negative component, which is fantasy, egotistical, the projections of the ego, mind, or desire. But then there is conscious imagination, which is the soul.
Now the consciousness can learn to develop its perceptive qualities by projecting an image. We learn to take a candle, as I said, you imagine it. You visualize it. You are projecting that image within yourself so that you can develop that capacity in you that can see it as it is with your imagination.
With practice we also learn how to receive images as well. As you are entering a silent and serene state of mind, your body is fully relaxed. You are fully withdrawn in your consciousness. You are imagining that projected imagine within your awareness, the screen of your imagination. Suddenly without thinking about it or expecting it, you receive something new. Perhaps a situation, a dream, a vision emerges. Often times it occurs in a form of some type of drama in which you are an actor and a participant. You are witnessing yourself doing things, seeing people, seeing landscapes, seeing cities. There is really the infinitude of possibilities here, of different experiences that you can have with your imagination. But the important thing to remember is that when you learn to project images and remain consistent and sustain those visualizations the best we can, we learn to receive images of a new type. This is really meditation: to receive information that you have not known before, to receive something in a new way. This is an unconditioned, conscious, and clarified state.
When you receive these visions or experiences, we can start to sense and discriminate that there is a different quality to these images and these perceptions from our daily, egotistical states. For most people, those visions occur very quickly and then they end, suddenly, we are back in our body, in our chair where we are meditating, once again. So, this shows us that our imagination, our perceptive qualities, are not necessarily sustained as of yet, fully developed. We can gain sparks of insight here and there. Those types of perceptions give us a lot of inspiration and joy to continue working. These experiences become more sustained and detailed the more we work with them, to the point that we learn to develop and access supraconscious states.
There are many possibilities within imagination. In the beginning, we have small visions or experiences, but with dedication for many years, we can learn to access perceptions, not only of individual consciousness, but of a universal state, of a divine perception. This has to do with our studies of different dimensions of nature, the multidimensionality of our Being called the Tree of Life. You can study many courses in our website, but also Glorian.org, if you want to find out more information about that: the different structures, principles, and spheres of being that exists within and without.
Those experiences are very spontaneous, as I said. They come when we do not seek them, but when we establish the requisites and the steps, the foundations for their actualization. These experiences are very factual. They relate not only to our psychological states, but to different events in our life. This is how we can confirm the reality of our perceptions, their validity, their veracity, their truthfulness, when we look at the physical facts and how they relate to what you perceive. Otherwise, we can be clouded by our own subconscious memories, our habits, our own frustrated desires, even our deep infraconscious states, which are deep traumas, desires, or terrors within the deeper qualities of our psychological abysses.
We have to be cautious of our own perceptions. Do not take them at face value, but learn to discriminate with the heart.
Also, study the different teachings, the symbols throughout various traditions, so that we can learn to interpret with clarity. We have given many courses before about this subject. You can study the Sufi Principles of Meditation on our website. One lecture we talked extensively about how to interpret what we perceive [Awareness, Unveiling, and Witnessing]. You can also study our course Gnostic Meditation where we talk about those same principles: Imagination, Inspiration, and Intuition.
Insight Practices: Visualizing, Pondering, or Discerning an Object
Some practices for insight include visualizing, pondering, or discerning an object―when you take an object to perceive in your consciousness, your visualization, and try to discern, intuit, or comprehend what it is in a deeper level. As you are learning to sustain that visualization and simply imagining it with an open mind, new insights can emerge regarding it, as I said. You start to have experiences. They enfold magically within your perception.
Insight Practices: Visualization and Retrospection of Memories and Dreams
We also have visualization and retrospection of memories and dreams. This is probably one of the most important within our tradition. It really is the bread and butter of our meditations, because retrospection helps us to understand how and why we are thinking a certain way, or dreaming throughout the day, and in our nightly life when we are physically asleep. We review our states so that we can understand interrelations, the connections, and the subjectivities of our own egotistical states, so that we can comprehend the ego and eventually remove them.
Insight Practices: Visualizing and Comprehending a Deity
There is a practice within Tantrayana, Tantric Buddhism especially, in which we visualize and comprehend a deity. This practice involves imagining one’s self as a divine being, not from a sense of megalomania, pride, or vanity of a mystical type. Instead it is about learning to embody the qualities of compassion that we find present in sacred beings, in sacred masters, in sacred entities, the divine.
Insight Practices: Comprehension of Conscious Qualities
Also, we can perform insight practices of comprehension of conscious qualities: comprehending our virtues. I know some people get caught up in the ego and are very distressed by their own mind. We always recommend to meditate on their virtues. Meditate on compassion. Meditate on what it means to love, to sacrifice for others, to be patient, to be diligent. When you recognize those qualities in yourself, you will not be easy to be fooled. You will not give up because you recognize what is real and what is false.
In retrospection dynamics or meditation, you need to have some relative state of concentration. We say that typically you want to have enough concentration and continuity in your discipline that you do not forget what you are doing, because you need to remember all the different events of your day. You recall your memories, and you visualize them. Take a part of your day, those that you remember most. You can also start from your earliest moment to the last, or from the last moment of your day when you sat to meditate and reflect on the morning.
Probably in the beginning, at some points you will recognize that there are times in your day in which you do not remember anything. This means that we are very asleep. You can pray to your inner divinity to help you remember what happened. We have a mantra that we use with retrospection, and it is:
You pronounce it like this:
You pronounce that mantra mentally. You can do it out loud as well, but I recommend doing it mentally, and look to extract the moments, the events that you had forgotten, or that are difficult to ascertain. Those mantras, as Samael Aun Weor states, are like dynamite. You are blowing a hole within your subconscious caves, your mind, so that you can go into the depths to see and shed light there.
It is also important that when you are retrospecting that you observe when your thoughts and emotions arise in connection with visualization. So for example, you are retrospecting your day and suddenly as you are thinking about an argument you had at work or a conflict. You start to feel that anger again. You have thoughts of revenge, animosity, or rage. You have to observe that reaction in you when it is happening, in response or in reaction to your visualization. The important thing is that you look at your reactions because that is in relation to your visualization. So, you can pause a moment in your retrospection and look at that defect that is so adverse in you, to examine it, to discern, to intuit, to understand, to comprehend your mental processes. You look at your reactions.
For some people, they can retrospect the entire day, or you can retrospect your week. I recommend you work daily, but you perform retrospection meditation upon events that occurred even in your childhood, or even when you were born.
The consciousness can remember if you train it. So, it is important that when you are performing retrospection meditation that you remember that your consciousness is distinct from mental processes. Your consciousness is not the mind. When you are remembering your day, you are not doing it with the intellect. It is a different skill. You need to learn it through practice. Visualization and perception of the events, recollection, recall, attention, is very different from thought. You have to learn to distinguish the two. If you want to distinguish the two, I recommend learn more about self-observation. Practice it n your daily life. Study Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology by Samael Aun Weor. That will teach you the distinction very clearly.
Visualization of a Deity
When you visualize a deity, you want to achieve some relative level of mental equipoise. We have Padmasambhava here, a great Buddhist master from the Tibetan tradition, a great initiate. You can take an image of a great master, a deity, and imagine yourself as that quality. You want to embody certain aspects of comprehension, compassion, joy, love, of certain divine figures, like Jesus or Virgin Mary. You can visualize those entities or beings and that your consciousness resonates with that, that you are that quality in your most profound depths and recesses of your heart.
Pick an image or figure that really inspires you, an image of a deity, a god, an inner being. You combine this with prayer and deep spiritual longing. You need to feel in your heart, that tremendous love for that being, for that master, for your inner God even. You can take an image of your inner Being―if you have had that experience where you have seen your inner divinity as a figure―because divinity can take any form to teach us. You can visualize that. Visualize your Innermost. That is obviously a much more difficult practice if you have not had that experience. If you do, then in your meditations and internal visions you can reflect on your true nature. Combine it with prayer with longing with joy. We yearn with our heart and beg that we may realize those qualities in ourselves.
Discerning Mental Processes
When we discern mental processes, we need to comprehend the how and the why of the mind. Serenely perceive the mind’s changing states in the moment. We need to look at ourselves.
How is our intellect? How are our emotions? How is our body changing moment by moment? How is it functioning? Why do we react a certain way? Why do we think certain thoughts? Why do we behave in certain circumstances a certain way?
You need to look at this when you are discerning your mental processes in meditation. You are looking within at how your different thoughts are moving about and what they are doing. You are learning to extract and understand what is there. This is a very profound meditation that you can perform in which you are just discriminating the thoughts and emotions from your consciousness.
Again, your consciousness is very distinct from thought and emotion. They are separate when you look at their different qualities, their taste. They are as different as water from wine. You learn to acclimate yourself gradually to what is real from what is false. But of course, in that process, you have to learn to not identify with those thoughts, emotions, and fluctuating states. You do it gradually and question yourself on what you think, see, understand, and know, because we need to be very cautious with our own mind. We must not assume that we know what we know, not out of a sense of morbid skepticism, but from a conscious analysis, an inquiry into wanting to understand the reality of our own inner states.
When you expand your consciousness, your mental processes will become more subtle, in which thought will seek to evade our radar, so to speak. But in this practice, you are discerning your mental states―just looking at what is there. Do not label with your thoughts or emotions, but learn to see within what each ego, thought, feeling, or memory is doing. Apprehend the phenomenon and the phenomena without conceptualizing your mind, without boxing it up in a category and assuming that we know. Simply look.
Integrating Concentration and Insight
When you are working with concentration and insight, you are integrating these qualities in a deeper sense. Some principles that relate to this involve the fact that when you have greater concentration, your insight is much more profound. If you are able to focus your attention on one thing without distraction, your capacity to understand it is going to be much more deep than if your mind is fragmentary and dispersed.
As I said, imagination is the perception of non-physical imagery. That quality develops in us as we are working with concentration and stabilizing our perception. We gain greater color, vividness, intensity, sustainability, understanding, and the overall quality and clarity of our vision increases the more we work with it and the more we remove our negative psychological defects.
It is important that our consciousness can only understand through perception. It must first perceive before it can understand. You cannot comprehend what you do not see. This is why meditation is fundamental for real change. You may intellectually conceptualize that you have a defect that you want to remove, but unless you see it, you cannot do anything about it.
Now, visualization in this process strengthens our insight, our ability to understand something, because when you are learning to visualize, you are granting your consciousness more strength by which to first see more, but also develop and inspire deeper concentration in order for you to practice more, to understand more. It is also important to know that perfect concentration, shamatha, is not necessary to gain initial wisdom. You just need enough concentration so that you do not forget what you are doing, if you really want to develop insight further.
Shamatha, or calm abiding, the ability of concentration, without insight, can produce a very temporary state of liberation or bliss. We can feel joy, as I said, in recognizing a state of consciousness that is not identified or limited by distractive thoughts. Obviously, if you are perfecting shamatha and learning to introspect within, you can learn to access even deeper states of bliss. This state of shamatha in which you are absorbed within concentration is not a final state of liberation. It is not the end. There are many degrees of imaginative knowledge, inspirational knowledge, intuitive knowledge that is accessible only when we really abandon all distractions of mind. Having some stability of concentration is not the end, as some schools like to think. We do state that perfect serenity and insight are needed if you do want complete liberation. In the analogies I mentioned to you before, the lake cannot reflect perfect images if there is any ripple there. Both are needed in their fullest forms in order to go really deep.
Advice for Developing Concentration
Here is some advice for developing concentration.
We recommend that you overcome procrastination, meaning, try to meditate as much as you can, but do not postpone it. Do not delay the practice of meditation. Learn to cultivate some time and period of your day to actually practice, so that you do not enter self-defeatism, when you feel like you are beating yourself up and then you are not getting anywhere because you are morbid, sad, or overwhelmed by the magnitude of this work. Start small. Begin with what you can, and gradually build from there.
Also, give up useless activities, because the more time we give up doing senseless things, the more time we have to practice.
Also, we should not forget the practice’s instructions, but learn to follow them, meaning, if you are sitting to concentrate but your mind wants to do something else, remember the practice. Do not forget the objective you have established and set down for yourself. Do not follow the whims of your mind, but learn to follow the instructions.
Do not forget to practice. When you are doing it, do not forget that you are doing it. Remain conscious throughout. We recommend that you start with two to three short sessions, such as five to fifteen minutes each. Start small but frequently. That is how you are going to go deeper in your exercises.
If you are unable to accomplish these or clarify what this all means, we recommend that you really study. Study the resources we have available and reflect on what you really want. Reflect on what you long for by approaching meditation, because when we clarify what we want, we have a greater understanding about how to achieve it.
Advice for Developing Insight
We also have some advice for developing insight. I recommend that in the beginning, visualize less complicated objects. Do not start with something really intricate that you cannot handle. Start with something small. If you are struggling to visualize with greater clarity, start smaller and simpler. If you have a larger object, you can visualize parts of it to gain clarity or vividness, sustainability, and intensity. If you want to take a mandala, just focus on one aspect of it, whether it be the head of the figure or the bottom. Whatever it is, just focus on that one part. When you master that, move on. Expand your degree of visualization.
Also, practice short but frequent sessions. You want to gradually increase the time. It is important not to strain or exert your mind. Learn to relax. This is not a strenuous thing where you are trying to scrunch your eye and brow together to visualize something and make it happen. This practice does not require any strain. Likewise with concentration. If you find that you are tense, relax your body, and return to the visualization. Then allow the imagery to sustain itself and hold.
Learn to first project that image in your consciousness. Imagine it. Learn to sustain it, and eventually you will start to receive new perceptions and insights without you asking for them, or expecting them, more importantly.
We have some reading sources available. You can study our course on Gnostic Meditation but also Glorian.org has a wonderful course called Meditation Essentials. We highly recommend it, and also, we finished a course called the Sufi Principles of Meditation where we go into more depth about each individual aspect of this science. We highly recommend that you study them.
At this point in time, I would like to open up the floor to questions.
Questions and Answers
Question: One of the things I find happens automatically, if I have been away with my mind somewhere for a fair time, is when I come back to where I am and I become present again, which is a shock. An adrenaline hits, like I have been smacked back into awareness. Any thoughts to this or how to keep it from occurring, as it upsets any calm in the body that was there? Sometimes it is like a smack. Other times I hear a loud sound that hasn’t happened in reality, whether a bell or like a firework bang, or something to that effect.
Instructor: The question is about when coming back to the present moment, it is like having a shock, an adrenaline hit, and that happens when arriving back to awareness in the present moment, that one feels an upset state, no longer calm in the body or in the mind, because one recognizes that one forgot oneself.
It is important to distinguish between the capacity of the consciousness to remember itself, to remember divinity, that you remember the moment, but without a sense of self-flagellation or abrasiveness, so to speak.
If I understand your question correctly, when coming back to the present moment, it can be a shock. Yes, we can forget what we have done in a moment, perhaps because we were distracted. Personally, in my experience when I had such moments, I felt great joy in remembering “Oh, I am supposed to be remembering what I am doing!” ― to be awake. But not out of a sense of shame or a sense of agitation or negativity. It is very different. The ego is always negative, a conditioned state which can produce a state of agitation in our body, mind, and nervous systems, particularly if we are more sensitive emotionally. In psychology, they refer to it as neuroticism, to be neurotic, more susceptible to negative emotions, and if we have that predisposition, sometimes having a shock of awareness in a moment can really startle us.
I recommend if you are struggling to being present in the moment and those shocks tend to disturb you, work with your heart. Learn to shock your consciousness with good energy, with positive superior emotions. You can develop the mantra O, especially, if you want to develop that capacity for yourself, so that your intuition and your conscience guides you, and reminds you, “Hey, you forgot yourself!” Now, you bring yourself to the moment without having to self-flagellate, so to speak, or to feel upset.
Question: Can you speak on memory? What is it? What is there in relationship to the Tree of Life or spontaneity of thought?
Instructor: Memory is ego, typically. Our mind, our defects, are constantly immersed in the past or projecting ideas into the future. Our psychological conditions are memories. We get lost in thought that associate one event with another, and with another event. That is how the mind projects its images, its contents within the screen of our imagination. It is typically negative, where the mind is projecting its own ideas or fantasies or remembrances about what happened.
In relation to the Tree of Life, the ego operates within the lower sephiroth or the four bodies of sin. We have Netzach, which is the mind, Hod, which is the emotions, Yesod, which is our vitality, and Malkuth, which is our physicality. Our mind operates those four sephiroth or spheres, and the ego operates within those bodies, those vehicles.
We tend to get caught up in memories within the mind, the intellect, Netzach, and often times have emotional responses to them, our Hod, which wastes and expends creative vital energy, which is Yesod, often times without our body [Malkuth]being aware of it or being agitated by those memories.
So, the ego is memories, the past. It is illusion. If you are in the present moment, you can learn to introspect within your own states, to those defects in meditation.
There is another type of memory which is much more distinct from our common sense of it. We call it work memory, in which the consciousness can remember what happened factually. Do our memories tend to be more or less accurate? Typically not. They are half-truths, fragments of what happened or what someone said. They are not accurate. Whereas work memory is the memory of the consciousness, to understand intuitively and profoundly what our daily states were, how we behaved, what we said, what we did, what we thought, how we acted. It is work memory because you have to work to get it. You work the consciousness. You exercise it in order to remember and understand in that way, whereas the ego does not work for anything. It just simply is. It is a heavy, conditioned, lethargic, destructive state. It is caught up in the past or is always projecting its anticipations and fears into the future.
Our ego operates moment by moment. We have to examine the different trends in our psychological states, to examine what is going on there. What are the interrelationships between our thoughts, our feelings, and our actions?
Comprehension is spontaneous. This is something more deeper than thought. Comprehension happens in the moment in which you are brilliantly aware, awake, comprehending any given phenomenon. It can happen without you thinking about it. Thought is much slower. Thought is a machine, but the consciousness is what has to operate the human machine. So, there is a very distinct difference there. If you want to learn more about those differences, you can study our course Beginning Self-Transformation. It goes into great depth about this.
Question: How can we transform negative mental vibrations when starring at a candle or plant or person?
Instructor: I recommend that if you are overcome by negative mental states, energies, or influences, that rather than focusing on a candle or a plant, you learn to work with prayer and conjurations. We have different exercises that help to protect our mind, such as sacred sounds or mantras from negative influences.
We have given a course and are continuing to add to it on our website, which is called Spiritual Self-Defense. You can study those lectures which emphasize different practices in order to defend oneself from negative influences corroding our spirituality, or from influencing us in a negative way.
Question: How do we distinguish obsessive thoughts from insights from our higher self, soul, inner Being, especially when those thoughts go against our ethics―sexuality or lust?
Instructor: The answer is in your question. Your ego does not do anything in accordance with the law, spiritually speaking. Our ego always goes against our ethics. So, if our thoughts and our desires, our mind contradicts the ethical stipulations of any tradition, it means that we are being driven about our own inner Satan, שטן Shaitan in Hebrew, our adversary, our ego, the devil.
So, you learn to distinguish real insight when you are not caught up in your desires. You can only distinguish between them when you establish yourself a space within your interior, a calm, serene, ethical state. You cannot distinguish anything if you are giving into your desires. This is the basis of any religion. If you want to learn to have insights from your inner divinity, you need to not act on your ego, your desires, your lustful thoughts. That is the beginning for anyone. It is very difficult because we have so many conditioned states and a lot of desire, but it is possible. Learn to reflect on the qualities of the prophets, the masters, the divine beings, because they can give us inspiration to want to fulfill their ethical codes of conduct.
The second part of this question is:
Question: Namely do we simply accept our truth, or do we also change it to make ourself better?
Instructor: Unfortunately, most of us do not know what the truth is because we have a lot of desires. Most people want to accept their desires at the expense of religion. This is why you find religions today have degenerated. People are basically giving into their preferences and not really looking at the reality of their actions or what the different religious scriptures actually teach. They are adulterating what they taught.
So, we cannot just accept our psychological state, because our mind is not reality. It does not see reality. It does not see the truth. We have a lot of desires, preoccupations, preconceptions, and attachments. If what we want is to enter a state of meditation, we need to learn to confront all of that, to accept the fact that we are at fault. By recognizing our own defects, we learn to change them. We do not necessarily make our own egos better by cultivating more intellectualism, sentimentality, or certain ritual observances without comprehension, but instead, it has to do with removing the obstacles that prevent the realization of our own inner Being within us. That is how we purify ourselves.
Question: Can you speak about the importance of having a sense of awe and wonder while observing ourselves throughout the day, and the importance of this sense of the consciousness? I notice that when my consciousness is in a more active state, this sense of awe and wonder is present within me.
Instructor: Yes, that is a very beautiful statement and question, because when you are really observing yourself, you are seeing life in a new way. You are seeing like a child. You ever watch a child looking at things, being absorbed within the novelty of the moment, within reality, within the joy of being present? That is a psychological state that we need to cultivate whenever we are observing ourselves, when we have consistent and continuous awe, respect for our own inner divinity, because we are seeing life in a new way. We are not caught up in our own mind, clouded and obscured by thought.
When you are actively perceiving and remembering yourself, you are cultivating a real inspiration within you, and that is how you know that you are really doing it. You feel joy in the process.
Some people, for some reason, they get very upset, overwhelmed, and angry when they are observing themselves and they see such and such defects: “I am so negative,” “I am so evil,” and feel very morbid and repressive. This is wrong. When you are seeing with your consciousness, you feel inspiration and joy―a very different state. Even though you may be afflicted by defects, you still feel that happiness and alert novelty in the moment by following that intuitive state.
Question: Do you have any tips for interpreting dreams or visions?
Instructor: Yes. We touched up on some points in the Sufi Principles of Meditation, especially in the lecture called Awareness, Unveiling, and Witnessing. We go into some detail about how to interpret dreams and visions. But also, we are going to be giving a course very soon in person and also broadcast the lectures on Dream Yoga and Astral Travel. We are going to go into a lot of depth and many aspects of that science.
Question: When sleeping, I would have some vivid or lucid dreams. I would then sometimes have an intense vibration in my ears, extremely tense with an oscillating vibration. I would try to work through that sensation, but it would ultimately just wake me up. I was also afraid every time this occurred. The vibrations were compounding with increasing intensity. Can you provide any insight?
Instructor: When you experience any type of psychic perception, psychic sound, or vision, you also must learn not to identify with it. The important thing is that whatever happens in your meditations, or your dream yoga exercises, practices, that whatever occurs, you do not identify with it. Personally, I have experienced many such sounds like you have mentioned: oscillations, and vibrations in the brain. In the beginning I remember being scared of it, obviously. It is unfamiliar. It is unusual. It is strange. It is uncomfortable because we are just not acclimated to that type of transition, in a conscious sense, from the physical world into the internal worlds.
When you become more familiar with them and you let them happen without fighting against them or trying to accelerate their process, you let the astral projection and the experiences unfold magically on their own. Eventually, with practice you will get to a point when that happens to you, you get really excited. You realize, “I about to astral project!” and so, you let it happen and you go about your business in the internal worlds.
Just be patient. Do not get fearful. Learn to accept what happens. Look at the psychic impressions that emerge, but do not get filled with fear. Instead, comprehend and meditate on your fears that you do not like in those experiences, because the reality is that those type of vibrations are happening all the time when we go to sleep. The reality is that we do not have any awareness of them. When we go to bed, we experience them every night, but we do not really do so with attention or awareness. Let them happen and be patient.
Question: So, what is meant to go beyond duality and become one or whole if we keep having this fight against our animal instincts?
Instructor: That is a really good question. I like that a lot, because it helps us to understand or to comprehend the different nuances of diverse spiritual philosophies, but also the practical application of those methods. Now when you are observing yourself, there is a type of separation there. When you as a consciousness are looking within your internal psychology and your thoughts, feelings, and body, you need to have a sense of separation as a consciousness. You are learning to look at the different multiplicity of defects that are in you. You can only do that if you are looking within and examining your relationship of your three brains to your environment.
Now the reality as religions teach―like in Islam or even in Hinduism that God is one, but expresses as many―the reality is that our consciousness has the potential to be unified and whole, integral. Yet for now, it is dispersed and fractured amongst multiple defects like anger, pride, vanity, fear, lust, laziness, etc. Our consciousness is trapped within those defects.
In the process and path of meditation, we are learning to integrate ourselves more and more, just as you integrate your concentration by learning to focus on one thing and not get distracted. In this path, we learn to integrate the soul, so that it can unify with divinity. Therefore, we become a unity, a perfect being.
So, the problem with many people who approach these ideas of duality and wholeness really do so from an intellectual standpoint. They are not comprehending that in order to be unified, you need to have an integral consciousness in a practical sense, in the practical dimensions of life.
Fighting one’s animal instincts can be a problem for people because in that sense, when you are exerting mental effort to repress your own mind, you are harming yourself. That is a harmful activity. We are not talking about that. When you meditate, you are not repressing your mind. Some people like to think of meditation like that, where you are just fighting your desires with your intellect, your heart. But that is not the real meaning of real spiritual work, spiritual war. It is the consciousness that has to act. The consciousness has to look at each defect and not give in to them or identify with them. But you do not do so by exerting effort, by fighting or repressing your mind. Seeing something that is negative and then feeling shame―that is just the mind battling the mind. That is duality there. That is the dualism that keeps us hypnotized within unconscious, suffering states.
If you want to be integral, you really have to be your unity, which is your consciousness, because we still have some consciousness that is available to us. Traditionally, we have 97% ego according to Samael Aun Weor and 3% consciousness. The problem is that 3% tends to stay asleep and inactive. What happens for most people is that giving into one’s desires, that 3% becomes swallowed within the rest of the ego. That is a big problem.
Even though we have 3% consciousness, we can still achieve a lot because that is still what remnant we have left of any integrity or unity within us. It is that unity of our soul that has to work and free the rest of the consciousness that is trapped. This process does not involve a dualistic notion of fighting oneself, in the sense that your ego is fighting the ego. That does not work. The consciousness has to understand all the different aspects of our psychology, so that it can integrate everything. It can integrate the shadow, so to speak according to Jungian psychology. Do not create a duality within yourself in the sense that your mind is trying to fight your mind. You can only recognize what is objective and subjective by learning to see with a serene state of mind. Serenity does not require any type of conflict of intellectual concepts. It is a very subtle thing. It is not very easy to apprehend.
I recommend to study Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology and Light from Darkness and Spiritual Power of Sound by Samael Aun Weor. He talks a little bit about how the mind cannot fight the mind. Instead, the consciousness must understand and work upon itself.
Question: Do we get tested more often as we work more and more, bettering ourselves?
Instructor: Yes. You will get challenged by divinity. Divinity is very demanding. You say you want to enter the path of initiation and spirituality. Divinity says, “Prove it.”
So if you want to show that you are a very ethical person, you get tests so that those hidden defects will come out of you, so that you can see what you need to work on. We have talked about this extensively in our course The Secret Path of Initiation, which you can study.
Question: So we as a physical being have a role in teaching our own soul and not simply manifesting our soul’s desires?
Instructor: I would like to provide some clarity regarding the distinction between the soul and desire. We say that our desire is ego. The ego wants. It craves. It needs. It seeks. It strives. It wants to be fed: “my thoughts,” “my pride,” “my anger,” “my fear,” “my gluttony,” “my lust…” That is desire.
The soul is not desire, in strict language. I know some people get caught up in semantics, but the soul does not crave anything. It only longs for divinity. It is a different, conscious quality. It aspires to the heights, not out of ambition or pride, but from humility and love.
As physical beings and as consciousness within such bodies, we need to basically train ourselves in meditation so that we can work. The one who teaches the soul is the Being, the Innermost, the divine. In the process of meditation, we need to train our body, heart, and mind to work effectively, consciously. The one who teaches you, that is your inner Being, your divine spirit who manifests his intuitions, hunches, and inquietudes within the heart, within our conscience. So, the conscience, intuition, guide us. Our inner judgment guides us in this process, teaches within our heart what we must apply, in terms of these practices, so that we can effectively change.
We need to learn to hear that voice, but also act on it. That is what we need to teach ourselves, how to do, because the divinity within us needs us to respond. We have a choice. We can follow our desires, egos, or follow the intuitions of our heart, which is ethical consciousness of Being.
Question: Should we be aware of our three brains during the day?
Instructor: Absolutely. That is the beginning of self-observation. You learn to examine the contents of your thoughts, your feelings, and your impulses.
The Three Brains:
We need to understand how these brains function, how they operate, what their food is, how they process life within these respective machines, so that we can operate and manage our negotiations with the world. You have to learn to observe how your thinking works, how your feelings and your impulses manifest.
The important thing is not only just to be aware of your three brains, in a moment that you have anger boiling inside with these negative emotions, thoughts, and desires that harm verbally, or not. The important thing is to be aware of it first, but also to learn how to act consciously within your three brains. Transform the impression that you received.
So, the beginning is awareness. A lot of people are already familiar with this within spiritual circles and movements. It is the kindergarten of spirituality. Be aware of where you are at and your states of mind. It is important not to just get stuck there. Being aware does not guarantee that you are going to act ethically. You can be fully aware of yourself while you are committing murder. You can be fully aware as you are stealing something from someone. Having awareness is not enough. Yes, it is the beginning, but if you are investing your awareness within negative psychological states, it means that we are awakening negatively. We are acting in a destructive way.
If you really want to curtail that, first be aware, but then learn to act ethically within intuition, with conscience. The more awareness you invest within transforming negative psychological states and responding to life with the highest ethical caliber, you learn to transform the situation and produce happiness for others. That means when you understand how negative thoughts work, you also understand how superior intellectual understanding emerges. You understand and learn how to work with intuitive mind: knowing an answer without having to elaborate with the intellect, with the slow and laborious process of intellectualism, with theories, with ideas. Instead, your mind can receive an insight, intuition, and then you can act with a superior emotion, with love, with compassion. In that way, you are also training your motor-instinctive-sexual brain, not only to be aware, but to know how to respond to the higher centers of your being, because your sexuality and your motor-instinctive qualities, belonging to your spine, operate vertically in relation to the lower parts of your body. So, they are inferior in a sense, but they are also a foundation of how the other centers work.
Be aware of these processes, but you also want to integrate the three brains in your actions, because most people, we can become aware that our thoughts are in one direction, our heart is feeling something else, and our body wants to act in another way. That means that we are split in three. We are not integrated. First become aware of that, but then you learn to integrate your self by learning to act consciously, by transforming impressions, by becoming aware of that process, and also making conscious choices of how you drive your human machine.
Question: My question is, how to distinguish the voice of the consciousness and that of the mind, emotions, and call to action by the ego? What does it feel like in the body when the consciousness is communicating with one?
Instructor: The only one that can really guide you in that is your own meditation. I can relate to you qualities of my own experiences, which could help inspire you and give you some sense of direction, but knowing the voice of divinity is a very difficult thing, especially because we are so hypnotized by many conditions of mind, many problems, many egos. You will know it in your heart by examining yourself and by reflecting on how your behaviors and your tendencies whether lean toward it or against the ethical law of divinity, which is compassion, ahimsa, non-violence, truthfulness, patience, humility, conscious love, chastity.
If your inclinations push you to act against those ethics, you can be sure that you are being driven by your own ego. The problem is our defects become very subtle as we are entering this work, because as we study gnosis and meditation, our own defects acquire a mystical flavor, which is very dangerous. The ego adapts to our studies because it does not want to die. Therefore, the ego wears a mystical robe, adorning fornication with a type of spirituality, where the mind tries to justify committing adultery or looking at the opposite sex with lust. One’s mystical logic, so to speak, can be, “I am a spiritual person. I need to appreciate the beauty in other people.” That is some of the logic that people tell themselves. But really, they are just being demons. It is very subtle. It is a good question, because it is not easy to discriminate what is real and what is false. If we had it down perfectly, it would mean that we have no ego. We would be done. But in the process of changing ourselves, we need to learn to be patient.
You learn to discriminate the voice of the silence in you gradually, and often after periods of great disillusionment and despair, such as we feel like we are not communicating with our inner God. We feel lost. We feel disoriented. We feel in pain. But suddenly we can get an insight in the moment, an inspiration, a realization that we can do something about our situation. The more that we acclimate ourselves towards that hunch, those inquietudes, those longings, the greater and strong that voice becomes, but the problem is that we tend to just give into our mind. We do not discriminate what is there.
The way that you do it is by meditating. That is the only way. Abandon your senses. Suspend them. Relax. Work with energy. Practice pranayama or alchemy. Work with your vital force. Circulate it. Pray to your inner Being, “Show me what I need to understand.” Empty your mind. Observe it and look.
The more you look at yourself and take the time to really meditate, the greater the distinction you will find between your conscience and the ego. You will know it like night and day. Right now, because we are so clouded by our own negative behaviors and our distractions, activities in life, we tend to get very lost. The water is churned, and the sediment is spread out everywhere. This is why we need to learn serenity. Sit still. Calm your mind. Act ethically in the day to the best of your ability. You are not going to be perfect, but you will gradually learn it.
As you start to acquire serenity in yourself, the sediment of the jar starts to stratify, becoming layers, and then you can see and start to discriminate what is actually going on there. That is the way.
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