By degrees this object shaped itself to his sight. It was as that of a human head, covered with a dark veil, through which glared, with livid and demoniac fire, eyes that froze the marrow of his bones. Nothing else of the face was distinguishable—nothing but those intolerable eyes; but his terror, that even at the first seemed beyond nature to endure, was increased a thousandfold, when, after a pause, the Phantom glided slowly into the chamber. The cloud retreated from it as it advanced; the bright lamps grew wan, and flickered restlessly as at the breadth of its presence. Its form was veiled as the face, but the outline was that of a female; yet it moved not as move even the ghosts that simulate the living. It seemed rather to crawl as some vast misshapen reptile; and pausing at length it cowered beside the table which held the mystic volume, and again fixed its eyes through the filmy veil on the rash invoker. ―Zanoni, Edward Bulwer-Lytton
That passage is from a famous book called Zanoni by Edward Bulwer-Lytton, and this passage which describes the Guardian of the Threshold has inspired many spiritual seekers and mystics who themselves wish to enter into the most sacred secret teachings of all world religions, of the occult brotherhoods and the schools of mystery.
Each student knows, as they begin to work towards initiation, that there is a threshold in which they pass from their outer ordinary course of life into the inner worlds: the world of the soul. Sometimes this can be experienced in our dreams, or in astral projection, out-of-body experiences, near-death experiences, but we come at a certain point in our path, in our journey, where we realize that there is more than just the physical reality.
Now in order to cross that threshold as an individual of one's own will is very different from having this happen accidentally, or by chance. What we seek to do, as we develop our own soul, as we awaken internally and spiritually in order to bring that spiritual light into our physical life, is to invoke the Guardian of the Threshold.
The Guardian of the Threshold: A Reflection of the Ego
This terrifying being that was described in the book Zanoni is actually a part of our own self.
We see here in this first quote from Samuel Aun Weor, the founder of the modern Gnostic tradition, that:
The first ordeal that the candidate has to face is the trial of the Guardian of the Threshold. This Guardian is the reflection of the "I," the intimate depths of the "I." —Samael Aun Weor, The Perfect Matrimony
In many eastern religions, we learn that the self, the ego, is our biggest barrier to spiritual development, that if we become enmeshed in a deep sense of egotism, it becomes very hard to connect with other people, to connect with the truth and the realities of nature and existence.
What we see summarized here in this quote is that the Guardian, as terrifying as this beast may appear to be, is actually our own self. The prison of the self encloses our mind in a cage and conditions our vision of life, to be either angry, or sad, or happy, dependent on the way that we are wired mentally, psychologically.
If someone insults us, we have an instant reaction and that reaction is different from person to person. Some of your friends might laugh when other people make a joke about them. Whereas, maybe you have a friend who is more sensitive, who gets very angry and fired up if someone insults him. So we see that it is not necessarily the external shape of life, but rather our own conditioning that shapes the way that we respond to life. If we respond to life in a positive way, that is uplifting for us and for others, we will have a totally different quality of life than the person who is stuck in those negative ways of thinking and being and behaving.
Now for most of us, it is a mixture, where sometimes we can do really great things. We can be very happy, and at other times, seemingly beyond our control, we become trapped in a behavior or a feeling or a mood that we wish we could get out of, but we are stuck.
Working with one's own mind, seeing that conditioning, seeing one's own behavior for what it is, is facing one's Guardian of the Threshold. When we learn to really look at ourselves without seeing ourselves from our own subjective point of view, but seeing ourselves as an outsider might, from a higher point of view, we begin to separate from that identity that we have created. We begin to have some freedom of will and emotion and thought to act in new ways, to initiate a spiritual growth within us.
Rudolf Steiner also went on to describe about the Guardian of the Threshold:
However horrible the form assumed by the Guardian, it is only the effect of the student's own past life, his own character risen out of him into independent existence. —Rudolf Steiner, Knowledge of the Higher Worlds
So if we are awakening internally in dreams or in astral projections, we can actually see this figure, this terrifying beast. We must be able to face the Guardian of the Threshold without fear―to understand that its true nature is an illusion―an illusion created by us.
As Dion Fortune said:
The "Facing of the Dweller on the Threshold" is the confrontation with the entire past (of the individual) and calls for the full acceptance of that past and of all that has gone to make the individual what he now is. —Dion Fortune, Applied Magic
In the Gnostic tradition, we learn about the law of recurrence―that we have multiple past lives in which we have oftentimes repeated the same mistakes and strengthened the same patterns of behavior, of thinking, and feeling. When we come to face the Guardian, it can project both the positive and the negative of all of our past deeds. It is in fact looking in a psychological mirror in the astral plane and seeing what in us we may be terrified to see. We may be afraid to see those moments in which we did actions that now we feel guilty about, or painful experiences, of loss and grief in past lives, that have now embodied themselves and take a form internally within us.
We have not just a physical body, but also an energetic vital body, an emotional body called the astral body, a mental body of all our thoughts, and a causal body of our will, and even higher bodies beyond that. But it is important to know these internal bodies' existence because within them is where we carry the defects, the forms, the structures of the mind, of the emotions, of behavior that come out instantaneously in us in the moment of action.
Go back to the example I gave of the person insulting someone. Let's say this person insults you and it is an insult that for some reason hurts you. It provokes an immediate response. Now maybe this response is to become cold and withdrawn. Maybe this response is to yell or to argue or to defend yourself. For each one of us, it might be different. Only we can know what our own response is, but we see from the moment, the experience when that insult struck us, that our mind transformed it in a certain way with an instant reaction to it―a response of feeling bad, of feeling angry, of feeling ashamed―whatever that feeling might be. What we are looking to do when we confront ourselves with the Guardian of the Threshold is to separate from the conditioned reactions―the conditioned way of being―the false self that we have created.
Facing the Guardian in the Internal Worlds
Now, it is said that when one encounters the Guardian of the Threshold in the astral plane in their first encounter, that he or she must be able to defeat the Guardian of the Threshold. This is not to destroy and eliminate in one moment. That is a long, long work to eliminate the Guardian of the Threshold. But the one who is not able to face his or her fear in order to defeat this Guardian of the Threshold, will then become enslaved to the Guardian of the Threshold. He or she will become a servant and a worshipper of this entity and they will then be enslaved to a false sense of egotism―they will lose control over every action, every thought, every emotion. They will all be determined by what that false egotistical self dictates.
If we want to work with the Guardian of the Threshold, we have to understand that this takes three different forms. In fact, Samael Aun Weor wrote in his books that the Guardian of the Threshold exists on the astral plane, on the mental plane, and also on the causal plane, and that at different points in our spiritual work in our initiation, we will have to confront each one of these.
The Three Traitors
We relate the Guardian of the Threshold to the three traitors. These three traitors are known in a variety of traditions.
In Buddhism, they can be the three daughters of Mara that came to tempt the Buddha Shakyamuni as he was meditating.
In Christianity we know them as Judas, Pilate, and Caiaphas―the three traitors that betrayed Christ.
There are three traitors in the masonic tradition that killed Hiram Abiff.
When we look at the first level the astral plane, we identify the demon of desire. The Guardian of the Threshold that we encounter on the astral plane will be related with our own desires, our own emotions. This is an emotional encounter. So the things in us that struggle, that want many varieties of experiences or sensations, that want pleasure but want to avoid pain, that is exactly what we need to encounter and be prepared to face with serenity, with stability—to recognize that all of those desires that are pulling at us from moment to moment are illusory. They are illusions.
This calls to mind a story that I was reading in a psychological journal about a patient who came to a therapist and complained that many times in her relationship with her husband, she felt pulled by opposite wills. There were some days where she felt like the good wife, and she loved her husband and wanted to do kind things for him and was happy to see him. Then there were other days where she felt like what she described as an evil witch, and when the witch came out, she hated her husband. She wanted to scream at him, to hurt him, and she couldn't understand why these two sides of her kept coming up. So she went to the therapist in order to discover what she could do to resolve this conflict of having opposing wills. How could she loved her husband and yet at the same time hate him?
You know, how do we make sense of this? And yet many of us have experienced this type of situation where we may like someone. They are our friend, or we love our family, but then in the right moment, in the right circumstances, we feel anger towards them or hatred or resentment. We want to hurt them. Maybe we are envious of them and we recognize that tension, that conflict. There is something here that is not compatible. How can I care for this person and value the virtues of friendship, and at the same time want to betray them―sometimes even act or say things that betray them?
This is the conflict of the demon of desire, that there is a part of us that we don't control but that comes alive in certain circumstances and controls us by making us want to do evil things. This demon of desire is not somewhere outside of us, but lives within our own heart.
In the story of the woman going to the therapist, in order to resolve conflict, it was not just to push down the evil witch and repress it and ignore it and try to pretend that it had no power. Rather what she needed to do was to, in a space of reflection and contemplation, recognize the true nature behind that evil will, that evil desire to hurt her husband.
She had to comprehend her pain and also comprehend her love. What is it about her that makes her the good wife? To resolve the conflict between these two, she had to come to face herself and to understand that both of these are a part of her. When she can comprehend on the deepest level the truth of herself, it will eliminate the problem.
Those unconscious drives to act and to behave in an angry way can be satiated. They can be calmed and negated so that she can interact with her husband in harmony from her own free will, and not from a conditioned emotional response.
This example also touches on the other two levels of the demon of the mind and the demon of evil will. When we have an angry feeling towards someone or an envious feeling, we also have those thoughts associated with it, and it can be a mind that plans evil actions.
We can have the demon of the evil will because there is a part of us that wants to act―that has the will to crush others, to take power from others, to steal what someone else has that "I want."
Each of us in different degrees have our own psychological makeup. We have virtues in a certain amount, and we have defects and vices in a certain amount. As I mentioned in the example, the important part―as we come to recognize these three levels of evil will, evil desire, and evil thoughts within us―is not to repress them or to ignore them or to label them as bad, and then try to only do the other things, the good things―but rather, to meditate on them, to contemplate, to understand where these arose from.
Perhaps we will have a memory come up from childhood, and at first we do not realize how this is related to the situation we are currently in. We sit, we meditate on it a little longer. Maybe the next day we are going for a walk and suddenly we have that inspiration to see the connection there: “I felt this way as a child and now this person is making me relive that painful experience.”
As we become more developed as meditators, better able to leave the body, the physical body, we can even investigate in our past lives the traumas and the crimes that we have committed which have now shaped our karma in this life. Our physical body, our emotions, our mental state, even our environment, even our physical situation, is all shaped by the causes that we put into motion in past lives, which have now manifested into this existence.
So to face oneself, to understand oneself, and to no longer fear having to look at what is unpleasant and what is difficult in oneself, is how we truly come to defeat the Guardian of the Threshold and to then enter into the initiation of the soul.
It is important because the initiation of the soul can only happen if a person is able to separate themselves from the false ego. If one is still submerged and fully stuck within the ego, when they are meditating or when they are developing willpower, or spiritual powers, they will turn into a black magician. This is the term that we use: a person who is totally controlled by selfishness and the selfishness which is of a false ego.
So, we want to liberate ourselves from this to enter into the white initiation, in which we awaken the soul free of any ego―little by little, disintegrating the ego so that we can have the enlightenment of the flame of the spirit in our own heart.
Meditative Serenity and Discipline of Mind
Samael Aun Weor writes at length about facing the Guardian of the Mind in his book Igneous Rose. I'd like to highlight a few passages here because no matter what tradition we come from, we can learn to work on our own mind by using these passages. This is what our meditation after the lecture will be based on, this exact practice.
The mind lives reacting against the impacts that come from the exterior world. —Samael Aun Weor, Igneous Rose
This simple sentence is a very powerful truth, that many of us who live mechanically on autopilot for much of our lives, have never really deeply contemplated.
If we are walking down the street and we see a dog. How do we respond to that? For some of us who grew up with dogs as pets, we might be happy. We might want to go and play with the dog. For other people who have been scared or traumatized or bit by a dog, they might want to run away from that dog. So the mind that we inhabit reacts against impacts that come from the exterior world.
Let's use this example, the dog is in the exterior world. The impression of the dog, the image of the dog, strikes our mind―then our mind reacts to that impression with thoughts, with feelings, with will, with actions. This is the entire process of our life and we go through this like a machine without transforming that consciously. Something happens, we see a certain person, and we don't really like that person. We feel a certain way. We try to get away from them. We see another person. We like them. We go up and we try to impress them. These are all coming images, coming in from the exterior world into our mind, which perceives them.
Now mind is not just the intellect here. It is in the Buddhist sense, the Being, the perception in which we are experiencing life. The body, our psychological body, carries us, and really, even if we were to close our eyes and go into a sensory deprivation tank, which are becoming popular nowadays, we would still have images. We would still have memories. We would still have thoughts emerging in the mind that we would react to. So, whether from within or from without, our entire experience of life is determined by how our mind responds to stimuli, whether internal or external.
So in the case of the dog, we have the external phenomenon of seeing that dog, and then we have our fear come up. Then maybe in response to our fear, which is an internal impression, we might feel embarrassed. "Oh I shouldn't be afraid! I'm an adult now. I shouldn't be afraid of dogs!" and that is a response to an internal impression.
To enter into meditation is to be able to calm down your perception: to become serene, bright and awake, concentrated, and to be able to perceive all of these processes as they happen without needing to control them―without needing to interrupt them―merely seeking to see them happen. It's great if during the day we are awake enough and we are meditative enough in our experience of life to do this, to digest the impressions of life in the moment that they come to us, but this can be challenging and that is why we do a retrospection meditation at the end of the day. We reflect on experiences that were particularly impactful for us, and we digest what was going on inside of us. We don't try to blame the situation or blame the other person. We don't even try to blame ourselves for feeling what we felt. We merely seek to see, to observe, and to understand.
Samael Aun Weor goes on:
One must control these reactions of the mind by means of willpower. —Samael Aun Weor, Igneous Rose
As we are progressing in our spiritual work, we will have moments in which we feel anger, we feel envy, we feel lust, and in those situations we have to apply a superior will to control ourselves, to control our mind.
If the mind is fantasizing and dreaming of an evil scheme, let's say, to get a promotion over your co-workers, something that involves lying or cheating and stealing, and our mind is beginning to play that fantasy, we have to apply our willpower and say “No! That is not the person I want to be. That is not the character I want to develop.” We need to be able to rein in and control the reaction of the mind and then, rather than going outward into that fantasy, we can turn our perception inward into the source of that fantasy. “What is it in me that wants this so badly? That is so attached to the sensation of getting a promotion, that I would be willing to compromise my character or to harm others? To do something unethical in order to achieve that sensation, that experience of life?”
If one throws a rock into a lake, then one will see crystalline waves extending from the center to the periphery. The waves become the reaction of the water against the rock. If someone insults us, then we feel anger. This anger is a reaction to the words of the insulter. —Samael Aun Weor, Igneous Rose
Most of us live believing that we are the victim of circumstances. Other people should treat us better, should talk to us better. Life should be easier. We should have more things. When one wants to enter initiation, wants to face the Guardian of the Threshold, it is because one is finally taking responsibility for one's self.
One must understand that our entire experience of life is dictated by how our mind behaves. If we cannot control and rein in our mind with our willpower, we are likely to have a miserable life that is chaotic, that has a lot of negativity, in which we are constantly feeling that everything that we experience is beyond our control. However, the one who is able to take a loss or a defeat, and still finds serenity and peace and happiness within him or herself, that person is truly developing a level of freedom―a level of liberation of the consciousness―because he or she is free from that conditioned response to the stimulus.
He or she is able to control and to determine, "I am feeling anger right now. Let me go into a space of serenity." This is not to repress the anger under false happiness. This is to understand that the anger itself is a choice. It may have arisen spontaneously inside of us, but the choice to feed that anger and to continue is up to us.
Samael Aun Weor describes this process in more detail:
We must subdue the senses and command the mind with the mighty whip of willpower. Our mind lives reacting against the impacts of the exterior world. The incessant reactions of the mind deliver pleasure and pain to us. Likes and dislikes are nothing more than the result of the reactions of the subjective mind. —Samael Aun Weor, Igneous Rose
Pleasure and pain are determined by the quality of our mind.
We know that there are some people who love chocolate cake and other people who hate chocolate cake, so it is our subjective perception of mind, from our egotistical point of view, that determines how we are going to respond.
As Samael Aun Weor says:
It is necessary to control these reactions of the subjective mind in order to pass beyond pleasure and pain. We must become serene and indifferent before praise and slander and before triumph and failure. —Samael Aun Weor, Igneous Rose
This principle is taught in many religions: that in order to have true peace, true enlightenment and serenity, we have to go beyond these opposites of pleasure, pain, loss, gain, pride, and shame. We have to, in a sense, be indifferent to the different manifestations of life and of other people. We must feel peace regardless of what comes up before us.
However, this indifference is not a sort of apathy or death. It is rather an awakened bright experience of life. Without the conditioning of dislike and like, we are able to see things in the crystalline beauty that they possess, free of that cloudy filter of our own mind, and that experience of life, while it is beyond pleasure and pain, is in itself blissful. It is the ecstasy of samadhi that is talked about.
It is what we want to enter into and we can only do this by no longer fearing pleasure and pain, like and dislike. By being willing to apply our own willpower against our mind, even if our mind doesn't like it.
So maybe our mind wants to go eat ten tubs of ice cream. And then we say, “Well, I'm on this path of initiation and I don't want to feed that desire anymore.” So even though the mind argues and fights against us and wants that ice cream, we have the willpower. We developed the strength of will to tell the mind “No,” and to redirect it into a more positive activity.
This is a silly example with the ice cream, but in many experiences of life, we really don't control ourselves. We really let ourselves run amok. When we really study the cause and effect of our own life, the karma of our own lifetime, and we look at how certain behaviors created certain effects in our life, then we see that we no longer want to just allow our mind to run wild. We want to consciously and intelligently direct our response to life, our reaction to life. We need a lot of willpower to do that and in the beginning, we are weak, but, little by little on this path, we develop that.
He goes on:
All the tempests of our existence are nothing more than the result of the reactions of the subjective mind before the impacts that come from the exterior world. A clairvoyant examination permits us to comprehend that the reactions of the mind come from a nuclear center. This nuclear center of the subjective mind is the Guardian of the Threshold of the mind. —Samael Aun Weor, Igneous Rose
I mentioned a few moments ago that we might see our mind going off on a fantasy or on the negative circle of worry or anxiety, negative thinking, and we want to redirect our attention. Instead of going outward into that negative thinking, we want to turn our attention around and go inward into this nuclear center. That is where the Guardian of the Threshold of the mind is. So when we turn our perception within and we look within ourselves, we see the seeds of evil will that actually cause us to respond to life with unhappiness, with anger, with negativity.
The Guardian of the Threshold of the mind is similar to the smoke of the flame. The Guardian of the Threshold of the mind is a terrible demonic creature. It lives by reacting against the exterior world with waves of pleasure and pain, with waves of likes and dislikes, and with waves of hatred, envy, greed, slander, selfishness, etc. We have created this guardian on our own, with all the evil of our subjective mind. There is the need to carefully separate the smoke from the flames. —Samael Aun Weor, Igneous Rose
What we want to awaken within us is the flame of our consciousness, our soul, our inner spirit. We want that bright lucidity, that bliss and that peace that is perceptive of everything. When we awaken that inner perception, we see the smoke of our mind for what it is. All of these waves, all of these reactions, these emotions, these thoughts, even our behaviors become smoke from our inner center. If we are able to calm ourselves, to rest in the center, we can respond to life intelligently, acting in positive ways—in ways that we have consciously decided to respond to life, rather than responding to life unconsciously, according to our behavior, our trained behavior.
As he says, we have created this Guardian on our own. Now we may not remember when we created that. Many of us don't remember what we ate for breakfast last week, you know, or where we were two weeks ago at this time. Many of us, many more of us, don't remember anything of our past lives. That is why it's very important to go deep within our own Being, to the part of ourselves that is eternal―to understand where these seeds, whether positive or negative, arise. That is facing the Guardian of the Threshold.
It is to take responsibility for “Who I am―my positive qualities and my negative qualities―to take responsibility for the way that I think, the way that I feel, and the way that I behaved. If I am behaving in a way that I don't agree with, I can use superior will, the will of my inner spirit, to overcome that negativity―not to repress it with the mind or with another quality that is embarrassed or ashamed of it, or doesn't like to see that I am bad, but to recognize that this is what it is―not good or bad―just the way that it is. By seeing it, by being the flame within the smoke, I have the choice of whether or not I would like to change that.”
This is deep state of meditation, to really get to the roots of these things, and I want to end with an excerpt from a Buddhist texts called the Treatise on the Six Yogas of Niguma, who is often related as either the sister or the consort of Naropa, if you are familiar with that teacher.
The scripture states:
If we do not know how to meditate
As I mentioned, many of us don't remember what we did in the past. Perhaps there is a person where, from the moment you met them, you dislike them, but you don't remember why. You don't remember if maybe in a past life you knew them, and they betrayed you or they hurt you. The things that make us upset in this moment―in this present life; the things that make us unhappy or angry―are illusory.
Our reaction to them is entirely a fantasy of our own mind. It exists only in the mind, as I have described in these examples. Some people perceive one situation with happiness when other people perceive it with fear or anger. So if we are able to see that the mind is our experience of life, the way that we experience life is fully rooted in the mind, and the way that the mind is responding to external phenomena, then we have that power to control our experience of life.
Everything in our mind is an illusion. It is just a reflection of the external world that has been manipulated by the conditioning of our mind, of our emotions, of our will, and so when we perceive that “the way that I see this person that I dislike is actually just an Illusion in my mind that I have created―I am not even really seeing the person anymore―I am seeing a mental representation of them that I, myself, am projecting and that I myself hate or dislike”—then we have the power to get rid of the illusion itself. Maybe for the first time we meet that person and interact with them as they are, an entirely new being that we have never experienced before: to see them with the lucidity and the peace and the serenity of the soul; to see them as they truly are; not to have that mental image of them as an enemy that filters every interaction that we have with them.
That is what Niguma is pointing to here. When we recognize the illusory nature of our negativity, that it is something self-produced and can be self-erased, liberation from suffering arises of itself. So we must first know how to meditate on the negative experiences of life that we are having, to turn our perception in meditation away from blaming or analyzing the external phenomenon, and inward, into analyzing what is happening within us in our reaction to those phenomenon. Finally we see that our reaction truly is an illusion. Truly it is something that we create, and we have control over. We can begin to enter degree by degree into the liberation of our consciousness from the false self of ego.
Questions and Answers
Question: It’s kind of a question, kind of a comment. So, one thing I noticed about myself is, well, trying to take that attitude of right action, and living more selflessly and trying to help people when possible. But you know, it's not really the first reaction. I’ve noticed the right thing to do, but maybe I’m still missing that. I am selfish for whatever reasons. And because I want to take this attitude of right action, I will force myself with the will, I guess, to do it. It’s kind of the attitude I am taking about it, is: “Fake it till you make it.” I am wondering if this is the right approach.
Instructor: That is a great question, because many of us do this and that actually sounds like what is described here, that if we have a negative reaction, we should try to almost override it with a more positive reaction, whether that is what we feel or not now.
In meditation, if we analyze this type of situation, we will see that there are two wills to analyze. So, we can't determine that one is bad right away. If we are feeling selfish and lazy that day, that's the first will that in meditation we will analyze. What was going on there? Why was I feeling that way? What happened that made me feel that way?
Then we have another will which says, “Well, actually I'm trying to be kind to people,” and that might be the one that actually expressed itself in the situation, but again, there is another will.
We are doing that because truly, all of us, all people, have a connection to divinity within them that wants to do what is good―that wants to help people. If that is what is expressing and dominating the lower will, then great, but sometimes if it's just pride or a sense of self—selfishness that is now expressing by wanting to help others—then that's okay. We just need to see it for what it is.
So in any situation in life, whether we have the will power to restrain negative behavior and try to do something that we feel is a little better, or whether we express that negativity right away, or whether we're doing something positive right from the get-go, there is always a lesson to learn when we take it into meditation. Even if we are behaving positively, we may go into meditation and see some beautiful virtue or truth of our own divine nature, or we might go into meditation and see that what seemed positive was really self-serving. Who knows? It's really up to us and in each situation. It can be different. That's a good question. Something that I know I have experienced, and I am sure many others do.
Question: Does comprehension liberate the soul?
Instructor: When one sees that their enemy is actually an illusion in their own mind, what is there to fight against anymore? For some of us, our enemy is existence itself. Our complaints against existence: “Why am I not smarter, or richer, or better looking or whatever? Why is my life not easier? Why are people not kinder to me?” All of that we comprehend at its roots is some illusion. We can see that there is nothing to struggle against anymore and we can find peace and what it is to be a conscious being. To experience life with lucidity and happiness. But as long as we are filtering our genuine perception of life through selfish desires, likes and dislikes, pleasure and pain, we are disrupting the quality of our life.
Question: If I feel anything negative, that is because I have a secret will or entity that I’m not aware of?
Instructor: That is pretty close. If we experience something negative, yes, in this teaching we are saying if we experience something negative, it is because there is something within us that is negative. Now it's not that I want it to be negative or that I want this experience to go badly. But we have an entity inside of us that perhaps...
Let's use envy as an example. So, envy doesn't want to have a negative experience. Envy wants to get something good for oneself that another person has. So if this person has the job position that I want, I have a secret will inside of me that wants to get this person in trouble so I can have that job. I think this will bring me happiness, right? I think when I have that job, then I'm going to feel happy, but truly in meditation, if I go and I analyze that will, and I really come to understand that other person's situation and my situation, I will see that that will does not produce happiness.
All of us are seeking happiness, right? We are seeking pleasure or the things that we like, but we often do not realize that in its root, it is it is a will that produces unhappiness, ultimately. Maybe in the short term, we tell a lie, and we get some praise and people like us, but in the long term people realize “We can't trust her! She is a liar,” and we lose the good things that we had.
So meditation and going deep is what is most important. Not to see the mind and judge it and say, “Oh that's bad… that's bad!" Just to see the mind and go deeper into the mind and deeper, because when we comprehend it, we don't need to intellectually judge it. When we comprehend it, we see it fully from its roots. It can dissolve.
If you see a coiled rope in the closet and it's dark, at first you think it's a snake. Maybe you jump, you are afraid, but when you turn on the light and you go deeper into the closet, you see that it's a rope. Your fear is gone, right? But when it was dark, when it was unexamined, when it was too sudden, you thought it was a snake, and you responded. Your reality of your mind is that this is a snake. So really just to go deeper and deeper is what we need, that illumination.
Question: You talked extensively about the three traitors, especially the demon of desire, and how we are conflicted between like and dislike, pleasure and pain. What about the demon of the mind and will? And how the mind justifies itself? So in the example you gave about envy, how I want the job that this co-worker has and the excuses that we tell ourselves to get what we want. Also, how is that process experienced in us and how does evil will fit into that as well?
Instructor: Okay, there's a lot of in that question so I am going to do my best. So, if we look at the three traitors again, the demon of desire in Christianity is represented as Judas. Our desire loves Christ, love spirituality, loves all the positive things about virtues and helping humanity, but at the end of the day, when that moment comes, Judas sells Jesus for thirty silver coins. These silver coins represent material wealth, sensational experiences, so physical pleasure. Even though we say with our heart, “I love the good things. I love divinity,” with our actions in certain moments, we can sell, we can betray our own inner divinity. So that is the demon of desire.
The demon of the mind in Christianity is represented by Pontius Pilate. He sentences Jesus to death, and he washes his hands and says, “It wasn't my fault. Don't blame me. I wasn't the one who set him up!” So the mind decides, “Okay, I am going to do this behavior. I am going to try to steal this other person's job,” but it will come up with excuses so that mentally we feel okay about it. For example, “Really, I am doing my company a favor because she is not good at that job and I will be better at that job.” The mind can create its own fantasy to justify why what it is doing is a good deed, but it is all just a trick of the mind.
The demon of our mind, which hypnotizes us and puts us into an illusion so that we believe we are doing what is right, when all along what is really behind it is the demon of evil will, which in Christianity is Caiaphas, the high priest who is plotting behind the scenes to kill Jesus. So while we see that Judas is the one that sold him, that Pontius Pilate is the one who passed the sentence, really the most powerful of all is the one that is our will, that behind-the-scenes is arranging things, is moving the mind into position, is moving the emotions into position, in order to enact its will.
It is this will that is ultimately evil. Good and evil are terms we don't want to get too caught up in, because it's not a dichotomy of good and evil, but we say that it is a selfish will. An egotistical will. A will that is based on an identity that doesn't actually have a natural reality. It is a psychological identity that we as a consciousness have produced, but is false. Our true self is our inner divinity and our inner Spirit. So when we sacrifice evil will and evil mind, evil desire, the flame of our inner spirit is able to express, and when we are one with our inner divinity, we feel true bliss. We experience life with peace and with joy, but we have to renounce these three traitors that exist within ourselves in order to experience that more and more.
Another Instructor: Also, in The Perfect Matrimony, Samael Aun Weor mentions how this Guardian is really three, whom we must face within the astral plane, the mental plane, the causal plane. So, we have to face this guardian in the astral plane in the beginning. Especially towards the beginning of our studies, where we are tested in our resolve to see whether or not we will continue in this path. And if we conquer that demon, the Guardian of the astral plane, we can then enter higher stages of initiation, which are symbolized, allegorized by the science of Kabbalah, which we talked about previously in the recent lecture: What is Initiation?
So we have to face a Guardian in the mental plane next, which is another figure, as our lecturer described, that reflects all the mind that we have. We also have to conquer ourselves in the mental plane, because we have our emotional desires or own interior Judas whom we have to conquer, and by conquering in this struggle of the self internally, we enter into higher degrees.
So first, Guardian of the Threshold in astral plane, relating to our emotions followed by the Guardian of the Threshold in the mental plane, our mind. Then we may have the experience of facing a Guardian in the sixth dimension, relating to will. In Kabbalah, we call that Tiphereth, which is really where we face the extremity of our egotistical will, which is represented by Caiaphas.
And so we can correlate Judas, Pilate, Caiaphas to those elements.
Instructor: A Western esotericist did mention the variety of the Guardians of the mind. Guardians at different levels. Steiner called it the Lesser Guardian, the first one that we encounter, but as I was going on with this longer discourse, that would be what Steiner would call the Greater Guardian: the Guardian of the Mind that we encounter that is at a further stage of development. That is why it requires so much willpower and stability in meditation to be able to conquer.
Are there any other questions?
Another Instructor: I know some people also think that, especially from reading The Perfect Matrimony from Samael Aun Weor, where he describes these three guardians, followed by the four ordeals of the elements, that one has to face the guardian first before entering into the elements, which I know is an interpretation of some schools, but could you talk about the relationship of the ordeals of the elements and the Guardians themselves?
Instructor: So as I said, the Guardian of the Threshold, ultimately whether it is our emotions or our mind or our will, is about facing ourselves, and seeing ourselves from a distinct point of view, from a point of view that is not enmeshed in our subjective perspective.
There are four elements and many times when we are facing the Guardian of the Threshold, these different ordeals of the elements, come to us whether in physical life or internally. They can come in any variety, any order.
But the first that I'll mention is that the ordeal of the air. This often has to do with the loss of stability, the loss of something that we love. The ordeal of air tests our ability to have non-attachment―that even when we experience tremendous loss or defeat or our situation in life becomes too unstable, that we don't go crazy―that we don't let our mind react and scream. Instead, we keep our serenity. We recognize that everything passes away. Everything is transient. So, what brings us stability today will eventually pass, and yet something new will come to give us new stability. If one can hold one's peace through this type of ordeal, then one is able to change the shape of his or her psychology to make it more balanced: a stronger identity that doesn't respond out of conditioning, but has a degree of willpower and self-control.
The same goes for the other three ordeals. The ordeal of water has to do with tremendous emotional upheaval. So if this is being overwhelmed emotionally by, you know, a new social situation. Are we able to adapt, to be flexible, to develop that part of ourselves, or do we merely react to that situation and feel overwhelmed and give up? The ones who give up fail this ordeal.
There is the ordeal of earth which tests our perseverance. Our ability to keep going in spite of difficult obstacles. To keep pushing through, developing our will power even when the tremendous pressure is resisting us.
Finally, the ordeal fire in which we are criticized or slandered, or certain emotional qualities within us inflamed us and we need to learn how to respond to different situations with the correct temperature. If we are insulted, how do we respond to the slanderer with sweetness, with patience, with the correct temperature of our heart?
So all of these four ordeals are part of our mind, our will, and our emotions, and therefore they are related to the three guardians: the Guardian of the astral plane, of the mental plane, and of the causal plane.
[Editor’s Note: The instructor, during the post-lecture meditation, read the following chapter from Igneous Rose to students as a guided meditation. One can take these verses, or any teachings from Samael Aun Weor, the masters of the White Lodge, etc., in order to reflect upon their content in meditation so as to arrive at deeper comprehension. This chapter, especially, holds tremendous wisdom for those who seek to understand and overcome the Guardian of the Threshold]:
The Guardian of the Mind
1. The mind lives reacting against the impacts that come from the exterior world. One must control these reactions of the mind by means of willpower.
The Gnostic Academy of Chicago
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