The following transcription is from an audio lecture on Sufi Principles of Meditation, a course originally delivered live at the Gnostic Academy of Chicago.
The most important principle of meditation, of genuine religion, is precisely the present moment. Studying Kabbalah, the Tree of Life, astrology, Kundalini, tantra, alchemy, the eternal tarot, the scriptures, all this will amount to nothing if we do not comprehend the moment we are in.
The teachings are vastly complex. The terms we use, the knowledge we reference, is highly technical, sophisticated, profound. Yet, despite this complexity, this vastness, all this knowledge can be synthesized into a very simple point, which is awareness of the present.
True knowledge is experienced. It is experiential. It is found here and now, not in some distant future or by reflecting only upon the past. It is found in the moment.
All traditions, all meditative disciplines teach the doctrine of the moment, since this is the key for realization, knowledge of divinity, experience of the truth. Samael Aun Weor, in The Elimination of Satan's Tail wrote the following:
“To achieve the stillness and silence of the mind, it is necessary to know how to live from instant to instant, to know how to take advantage of each moment, to not live the moment in doses.” ―Samael Aun Weor, The Elimination of Satan’s Tail
All traditions of meditation teach that the origin of suffering is a lack of awareness of who we are, how we behave, what we are doing now. We have to be reflective. In Gnosticism, in the writings of Samael Aun Weor, we learn that we must know who we are, where we come from, where we are at.
Let us examine ourselves. How conscious are we throughout the day? This is not a matter of possessing vitality in the morning when we wake up, in order to be physically active. Wakefulness, vigilance, attention, awakening, is a direct state of perception of this instant, the moment we find ourselves in. So, how aware are we throughout the day? Are we awake from moment to moment? Are we attentive to what we are doing here and now?
Are we examining ourselves in whatever stage or action we are involved in? Or do we think of other things? Do we daydream? Do we fantasize? Do we worry?
Whenever we think of other things: planning, expecting, day dreaming, remembering, instead of focusing our attention on where we are at, what we are doing, it means our consciousness is asleep. We are not awake. We are dreaming.
Imagine that you are washing dishes. If we are cleaning dishes in our kitchen, but thinking of our loved ones, our friends, our family, we ignore what we are doing. We forget what we are doing. And in this way, we cut ourselves. Perhaps with a knife because we are not attentive to what we are doing in the kitchen. This is a very simple example of a profound truth: that when we lack attention in moments of critical engagement with life, we hurt ourselves.
What happens with people when they drive their car and they don't pay attention to the road? People have ended up in accidents or have killed themselves, injured others, because they are not awake. They were on their cell phone, daydreaming, thinking of other things, not focused on what they were doing.
So, there are serious consequences when we don't pay attention, and this is our chronic state. We have no cognizance of where we are or what we do, and because we act unconsciously upon negative thoughts, negative feelings, negative impulses, we produce suffering. We harm ourselves and others spiritually. It is this lack of comprehension of our internal states that produces all the sorrow of humanity.
The origin of pain is the "I." It is our sense of self that acts mechanically, that always thinks and behaves in accordance to hypotheses, theories, opinions, beliefs. The mind does not know the truth, because it is the past. This sense of self, the ego, the "I," is memory, according to Samael Aun Weor.
The Sufis refer to the self, the ego, as nafs, nafas, which can mean “breath,” a type of energy which works upon the mind. It is the expression of our words when they are filled with hatred, with envy, with pride. Someone who is awake and aware does not rely on the ego, does not speak the utterances of desire. In that way we avoid pain.
This is the beginning and the end of religion. It is found in this moment. Because when we pay attention to the present, when we observe our thoughts, our feelings, our impulses, we can access states of being that truly are inaccessible or comprehensible for people who know nothing of the soul, who are identified with pride, with lust, with hatred, with vanity, etc.
We speak in these studies of self-observation and self-remembering. The Sufis referred to self-observation as inner accounting, muhasabah: to make an account of our defects so that by discovering our defects, they may become dead defects. We have to learn to see ourselves in the moment, not to think we are a certain way or to assume, but to perceive. This is how we study the book of our life.
We look, we introspect the examined. We observe our mind, our heart, and our impulses, our behaviors. This is the beginning of religion, and you can only find it here in this instant.
But self-observation is not enough. This must be combined with presence of God, remembrance of divinity. This is a profound state of awareness known as hudur in Arabic: the presence of God, the presence of divinity. This is accessed through muhadarah, awareness of the present.
Many Gnostic students write to us and ask us, how do I remember my divinity? How do I know that I am observing myself correctly? The question unveils the answer. Self-observation and remembrance are not intellectual exercises. They are found when we stop thinking, when we learn to look―to look from a space between thought, when we were not identified with an idea, with a concept. Remembrance of God is a quality, a crystal, pristine fountain of divine states. We know this state and we experience it, especially in a moment when we are in a crisis, when all the elements of the psyche are mixed, churning; when we are boiling with ordeals, because anyone on this path must face crises so that the ego comes to the surface. This is why the Quran states:
“And We shall test you until We know those among you who strive and those who are patient, and We shall test your proclamations.” ―Muhammad (47:31)
“And We will surely test you with something of fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient…” ―Al-Baqarah, “The Cow” (2:155).
“Every soul will taste death. And We test you with evil and with good as trial; and to Us you will be returned.” ―Al-Anbiya “The Prophets” (21:35)
We face hardships so that the ego emerges, but the question remains, what desire or what will do we act upon? In a moment when we are criticized, lied to, spat upon, hated. What behavior do we enact?
This is not an intellectual exercise. It is a quality of mind. It is a decision we make in the moment. Do we respond with anger, with self-esteem, with resentment, with pride? Or do we choose a better way of behaving? Conscious love, compassion, forgiveness, serenity and wisdom is the way.
We achieve serenity and wisdom when we don't act on the mind. When in that crisis of being criticized or insulted, we remain calm. We don't allow our external behavior to manifest with anger, but on a deeper level, we learn to introspect and not act upon anger in the mind.
This is why meditation is essential. This is why the present moment is fundamental. We have to be aware of where we are at; who we are; what we are doing. Because, the gospel of the moment, the doctrine of the moment, is precisely defined and written in the book of our deeds.
When we choose virtuous action, especially in those moments when, really, our desires and our ego want to retaliate, we gain wisdom when we act ethically―when we comprehend that our pride, that our hatred, is wrong. And in that way, we remember God. We contemplate God. We realize that to act with anger is to be unethical. Is to be a demon; to be a failure. But to allow virtue to spontaneously flourish, to let intuitive action emerge from the presence of our heart, we find happiness and we avoid problems.
This is why Samael Aun Weor in The Elimination of Satan's Tail:
“Take everything from each moment, because each moment is a child of Gnosis, each moment is absolute, alive and significant. Momentariness is a special characteristic of the Gnostics. We love the philosophy of momentariness.” ―Samael Aun Weor, The Elimination of Satan’s Tail
So when people ask this question: how do I self-observe? How do I self-remember? It shows that we are not being spontaneous. These principles are understood by looking in ourselves here and now. It is spontaneity. It is alive: the doctrine of Gnosis, knowledge. You only gain understanding by looking at yourself.
When we look to the intellect for answers, we vacillate, we hesitate, we make mistakes. In a moment, we may think in a crisis that a certain action will be best, and yet our heart tells us otherwise. And because we don't act upon the intuitions of our heart, we go along with the intellect and justify ourselves. Meanwhile, we feel remorse and realize later that we acted wrongly.
So instead of hesitating about what to do in those moments, we have to learn to follow our heart. It is a quality of the heart. Remembrance of God is in the heart, within the soul. This is what it means to live intuitively, to live with intelligence, because the intellect cannot solve problems. It can store information. It can theorize. It can conceptualize, but it cannot know an answer.
So we have to remember this presence, to learn what this presence is. It is the wisdom of our own conscience: our heart that tells us this is right, and this is wrong. The more we feed that conscience, the stronger it gets. The more we deny that conscience in the moment, the more we suffer.
This is why the Sufis taught, especially through the writings of Rumi, "My friend, the Sufi is the son of the present moment. To say ‘tomorrow’ is not our way."
Defining the Moment
Let us define what the present moment is.
In our tradition, we spend a lot of time talking about self-observation and self-remembering. We do so through analyzing the lines of life and being.
The line of life is time. It is birth, life, and death. It is mechanical. It is the events of our existence that repeat mechanically through recurrence. It is our daily experience from morning to evening. It is a repetition. It is a cycle which the Buddhists call samsara: cycling. And in this way, we travel through life from our birth to our death, but usually without any understanding.
The line of being is very different. These are the qualities of the soul, the qualities of consciousness. These are the superior states of being, which are elevated and known by the Tree of Life of the Kabbalah. This is a map of our soul, of our Being, of our identity. These are the superior qualities that the Sufis state in their doctrine, in manuals such as Kashf al-Mahjub, Revelation of the Mystery by Al-Hujwiri and also the states and stations the path mentioned by many masters such as Al-Qushayri and Abdullah Ansari of Herat, of whom I will be quoting today.
These are the states and stations in the path. Each sphere or sephiroth is a quality of being, which is many elements, many principles. And so, the states and stations of the path are mapped by the Hebraic Kabbalah in a very intuitive way.
Now, we will be exploring how those principles relate to this diagram extensively, but in synthesis we state, the superior states of being are the sephiroth, the Tree of Life, and the inferior states of being are the Tree of Zaqqum mentioned in the Qur’an. This is the tree of death: the inverted spheres, the Klipoth, the hell realms.
Heaven and hell are states of being, and yet there are also places in nature that we access when we are sleeping in the dreaming state.
The law of attraction determines our life. What we are psychologically attracts where we go in nature. We always follow the trajectory of our mental stream, our mind, our behaviors. Virtuous people associate with virtuous people. Demonic people with demonic people. Everybody likes to talk about in these times of the law of attraction, about getting what you want, fulfilling desire. And yet people fail to realize that while this is true―we associate with people at our level of being―it doesn't mean that we should follow just desire, egotism.
Instead in our studies, we seek to change our level of being, our psychology in this instant, of where we are at. If we wish to access the Tree of Life, the heavenly dimensions, we do so by being in the moment―being present―which is why Al-Qushayri states the following in his book Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism:
“I heard Abu Ali al-Daqqaq say that the “now”―waqt―is that in which you are. If you are in the world, your “now” is this world. If you are in the next world (the higher dimensions of the Tree of Life), your “now” is the next world. If you are in joy, your “now” is joy. If you are in sorrow, your “now” is sorrow. He means by this that the present moment is that which has dominance over a person.” ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
Many people wanted to experience the higher dimensions, the Tree of Life, astral projections, jinn experiences, awakened knowledge, but often what they fail to do is practice in their daily life: vigilance, to be aware of the present, because one who is awakening physically in their daily state―that is no longer acting mechanically―that introspection and vigilance occurs within the internal planes until the present moment dominates.
Usually the moment defines us, and not the other way around. We suffer mechanically through circumstances, never knowing how to change our reactions to life. It is only when we learn to be aware of this instant that we can transform our state and ascend to higher levels of being.
Samael Aun Weor mentions that the ability to originate new circumstances, to no longer be a slave to the line of life, following, repeatedly, mechanically, the process of birth, life, and death, and then on repeat, to return―the law of return, transmigration―we can escape the mechanism of life by following epigenesis, which is “the ability to originate new circumstances."
Because we usually repeat things moment-by-moment, primarily because we are not aware of the “now.” Situations, events, people, dramas, tragedies, comedies: these incessantly repeat. If we want to transform the situation, we have to be aware of this instant, our internal states. We have to be aware of the instant, our states in relation to external events, because this is the requirement for the moment.
Requirements for the Moment
The Sufis use the technical term 'waqt' to define the present. They explain that superior or inferior action always depends upon the present. Our state of mind and what we decide in the moment determines our trajectory. We have to be aware of the impressions of life and what we experience, but also our internal state.
Al-Qushayri states in his Principles of Sufism the following,
“Waqt (the present moment) may refer specifically to the time in which one is. Some people say that the present moment is between the two times, that is, the past and the future.” ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
So these constitute the line of life. We must decide to enact the qualities of the being or animal desires.
“And they say that the Sufi is the “son of his moment.” This means that he occupies himself immediately with whatever sort of devotion should come first in a given moment. He bases himself upon what is required of him at the time. It is said, “The dervish cares for neither the past nor the future of his moment: he cares for the moment in which he is.” And regarding this, “To be preoccupied with what escaped you in a moment that has passed is to waste a second moment.” ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
Real devotion is remembrance of divinity in the present instant. It is only here and now. Now we can fulfill divine action, but if we are distracted, asleep, unconscious, we cannot respond ethically to the moment. So this is what Shari’ah is, the law, the instruction. The code of ethical conduct. We have to learn to be in the instant, to respond with ethics, with compassion, with wisdom. If we feel shame for having acted unethically, even if only in our mind, then we are distracted with the past. We must be present with our being and not be preoccupied with the past, to be conscious here and now. This is the essence of worship.
So people think that worship is something external. We always do so according to many mainstream religions, by attending a mosque, a church, synagogue, a temple. In reality, we have to learn to worship divinity in our actions. We do so by becoming aware of God.
The Governance of the Present
“The best act of worship is watchfulness of the moments. That is, that the servant not look beyond his limit, not contemplate anything other than his Lord, and not associate with anything other than his present moment.” ―Al-Wasiti, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri
To not look beyond our limit means to follow our intuition: to not speculate “how I must act,” but know it in our heart.
Everybody struggles with the mind. The mind says one thing, the heart another. This is why Samael Aun Weor stated, "We must learn to think with the heart and feel with the head.” Intuition is an act of consciousness and plenitude, where the ego is not present.
Contemplation of God exists as we observe ourselves and no longer act upon the ego. We learn to speak and behave ethically, from a state of serenity, altruism, compassion, generosity. When we associate with anything other than the present, it means that we are unconscious. We are dreaming. We are thinking. We are associating other things with the present, meaning: we are driving our car, but we are associating in our mind with our job, thinking of our previous work day, or anticipating the future, or thinking of what a solution could be for a problem. These are beliefs, ideas, concepts, justifications. These elements cloud our perception of what we are doing in the moment.
The Muslims speak abundantly of not associating with anything other than God. The Qur’an speaks, many times, of “Far be He from that which they associate with Him!" Or: “Glory to Allah! He is free from the things they ascribe to Him!” (37:159).
So we included the calligraphy of Allah in Arabic in this slide to talk about the governance of the present, primarily because we have to learn to allow the Being to act through us. Of course, for some people this may seem like a very difficult endeavor, or better said, an impossible one. Many students ask us, how do I remember God? And we always answer very simply: Did your behavior produce suffering or happiness? What are the results in our midstream? The qualities of our mind?
Self-observation, inner-accounting, muhasabah, is when we take account of our defects, but remembrance of the presence of God, Hudur, is something qualitative; something psychological, spiritual. You learn to taste it by striving towards it again and again, by learning to overcome and not act upon the ego, as was mentioned by that quote from Al-Wasati.
“The best act of worship is watchfulness of the moment.” Don't look beyond your limit. Don't try to contemplate anything else than the present. If you are in this instant, don't think about some miraculous samadhi in the clouds when we can't even pay attention to tying our shoes. You learn to access those higher states by being aware of the most mundane things, which is not really so mundane if we are attentive. It is a quality of the new, alert novelty: when we see life in a new way.
The reality is that no one can teach you how to remember God. You do so through deep reflection on your internal states―by discriminating and analyzing in meditation the suffering of wrong action and the happiness of liberated action. When we learn to act without egotism, we are following our intuition, the voice of conscience, the heart doctrine. This is when we follow al-Haqq, the Truth, the Being.
The following quote is from the Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri.
“The Sufis also may use waqt to mean the power and direction of the Truth when it comes over them regardless of their own will. They say, “So-and-so is under the rule of the now,” (bi hukm il-waqt)―that is, he has surrendered himself without preference to whatever appears to him from the unknown.” ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
What is the unknown? The Being, the Truth. As Samael Aun Weor mentions, it is the unknowable from moment to moment. God is infinite and his states are a perfect multiple unity. Divinity as a unity is perfect, is integral, but the qualities of divinity are infinite―described by qualities such as altruism, patience, diligence, compassion, love.
Real Islam is when we submit to the qualities of God in the moment, and knowing how to act rightly in a crisis, in the instant, which is intuitive action. It doesn't mean that we follow a reason in the intellect, necessarily, but following an ethical conduct: the voice of our conscience in our heart.
When Muslims pray to the East towards Mecca, towards the stone, the Kaaba of the alchemists―the stone of la baca: the sacred cow, or the stone of the masons, Yesod―they do so by bowing their head to the earth. This is a beautiful symbol of allowing the Being to control the mind.
We have to submit our head to the East, towards the divine, a symbol of learning to be present in the moment. So in terms of salat, ritual prayer, Muslims bow their head to the East. It signifies how we have to obey the commands of our intuition, even when it is painful for our ego. This is Islam [submission], and this is what leads to salam, peace. When we act upon our conscience and our heart, we find true peace and serenity. We resolve problems. We find solutions, but knowing how to find that answer is very difficult, especially in the moment, which is why we have to meditate.
We have to reflect upon our day and to understand how we behaved internally, externally. This is how we learn to govern the present moment more effectively, when those situations and events repeat, so that we can comprehend more. We have to learn to submit to the inner voice of our divine Being, whom only we can recognize. We have to follow our intuition, even if it makes our mind scream with pain. This is the path of crucifixion mentioned by Jesus. We have to accept our internal states and also question what we see so that we can act rightly.
“So-and-so is under the rule of the now,” (bi hukm il-waqt)―that is, he has surrendered himself without preference to whatever appears to him from the unknown.” ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
This means that the mind is receptive. The heart is receptive. We are awake. We are vigilant. The mind is serene, so that in the waters of our psyche, the pure images of heaven can reflect. Therefore, we have no preference to what God gives us. We obey God. We become a vehicle of the divine. That is what it means to be governed in the present, by a profound state of samadhi, ecstasy, wujud, here and now.
To reach these states, we have to be practical meditators. We have to really sift through the mud of the mind, so that we gain more clarity day by day, year by year. This is a very important aspect of Sufism and meditation. To access intuitive states in the daily moment of our life, but also in our meditations, especially. You cannot have one without the other.
“This can apply only to circumstances where God Most High has given no order, and where there is no model in the Divine Ordinance that one is obliged to follow.” ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
What this quote references is that some situations in life are more mundane. There is no crisis there. We are dealing with our daily obligations, our chores. It is not necessary that we receive a divine ordinance or command that we must follow in a particular ordeal.
Sometimes the Being, as we are in the process of self-realization, enters into us, but also retracts. It comes into my mind a story of the Master Samael Aun Weor, who even towards the end of his life, his last incarnation, before the advent of resurrection, he had no ego, but he went to go give a lecture in a large auditorium in South America where his Being entered him, according to one missionary. He was speaking with a lot of force, commanding and speaking to the audience and providing his teaching from the Logos Samael, the Martian Christ. And yet later, this missionary who told me the story went up to the Master Samael after the lecture, and saw that Samael Aun Weor was very calm and even childlike. He didn't have that Martian, powerful, commanding force that he exemplified in the lecture.
And this missionary explained, it is because during the lecture, the Being had to give a teaching, entering into him in the present moment and provided the knowledge that was so necessary for us. Then the Being retracts. This is known as absence and presence in Sufism, Ghaybah and Hudur, respectively.
Sometimes even at the very heights, the Being enters through us, but also retracts. But if we are serious about the work, eventually the Being will be fully present, always. That is achieved at the end of the Second Mountain as taught within our courses of initiation.
So we have to learn to follow the commands of God when it is given to us through our heart through our emotional center, especially―our superior emotions, our intuition.
“For to neglect that to which you have been ordered, to make an order an object of surmise, and to be indifferent to your falling short of your duty, is to depart from the religion.” ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
So how often in our experience have we received an intuition that we speculated about? We knew the right thing, but we didn't do it, and only realized later with remorse that we failed do the do the right thing. This is what it means to speculate: to make an order from God a surmise―to let the intellect think and rationalize―every excuse to not do that thing, to not act intuitively, to not follow our heart. This is how we betray God.
This is emphasized in the story of Pilate who justified the execution of Jesus. He washed his hands clean. That is our intellect, a symbol of our mind. We speculate about an intuition we receive, and we don't do the right thing. And also “to be indifferent to falling short in our duty,” to not feel remorse, is to depart from religion.
So this is the path of demons. People who feel no remorse in this instant are disconnected. They are al-kafirin, “the unbelievers” mentioned in the Qur’an.
The Moment is a Sword
The moment is a sword. It depends upon our behaviors how we use that weapon. It defends the righteous and harms the wicked.
As I have been saying, our actions determine our life. In a moment, we could defend our virtue, our soul, our life, with a virtuous action, even in the worst circumstances―or we suffer spiritual death. We fall upon our own sword by acting with anger, perversity, wrath.
“One of the sayings of the Sufis is, “The moment is a sword.” That is, in just the way that a sword severs, the present moment shows forth the influence of God’s action, ending things and bringing them to be.” ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
As we explained previously, states emerge, they sustain, they pass. Events also emerge, they sustain, and pass. Our divinity is the one who arranges, for the initiates, the path of the moment: the beginning and the end. Our decisions are either to follow God or our desires. They determine where we go. What happens to us.
“It is said, ‘The touch of the flat of a sword is temperate, but its blade cuts’―the one who treats it gently is safe and the one who treats it rudely is destroyed. Thus with the “now”: Whoever submits himself to its authority is saved and whoever resists it deteriorates and declines. They have recited about this:
“Like a sword, if you polish it, its touch is soothing
But its edge, if you are harsh to it, is harsh.”
―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
This is a beautiful teaching. If you polish your consciousness, with dhikr, remembrance of God, with meditation, with comprehension of the ego, the moment is soothing like a sword. It's touch is temperate, cool, but it's edge, if we are harsh in the moment by acting upon the moment, it is harsh. We cut ourselves. We feel pain.
“If the moment makes someone happy,
it is just a moment to him.
If it makes him miserable, it becomes something hateful.”
―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
So this is very beautiful. Very simple. The one who treats it gently is safe and the one who treats it really is destroyed. “Thus with the now, whoever submits himself to its authority is saved and whoever resists it deteriorates and declines.”
Self-remembrance is not complicated. If it sounds complicated or we think it is difficult, it is because we are approaching it with our intellect. Happiness is a state of the soul. It is not an intellectual concept, although we have many terms and stories and anecdotes to relate these principles. A moment that makes us happy is one, really, in which we stop thinking, stop daydreaming, stop reminiscing about the past or thinking of the future, but learning to act here and now.
The Sword of the Seekers
"Remembering God with the heart is called the sword of the seekers. With it the seeker slays his enemies [egos, defects, nafs] and drives off [karmic] troubles that are headed for him." ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
It is by remembering God here and now, that we slay our enemies, which are the egos, the defects, or the nafs in Arabic―and, “drive off karmic troubles that are headed for us.” Meditation, astral projection, sacred rites of rejuvenation, runes, pranayama, alchemy: all these exercises are predicated on what we are doing here and now―how present we are when we practice.
Remembrance of God is a sword. Our states determine our life, and if we do not remember God, we act upon states of egotism. Again, God is not outside, but is inside. As the Quran teaches, "Truly We are closer to you than your jugular vein” (50:16).
By remembering that presence in us, we learn through practical life how to slay our enemies, our negative states, our defects as we are meditating, and drive off troubles that are headed for us, because if circumstances repeat, as karma and troubles emerge in our life that we have to resolve, if we respond or react with negativity, we exacerbate our pain. We complicate our issues. But if we act from serenity, we defend ourselves.
“Even if difficulty should overshadow the servant, his fleeing to God Most High in his heart immediately turns away from him the thing he hates.” ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
Here we have an image of Saint Michael conquering the dragon, a symbol of how our soul can conquer our lower self. And notice that as he is wielding of this sword of justice, he is in a perfect state of equanimity. Remembrance of God is calm, is serene, is balanced. It is only through clear perception and serenity, awareness in the present, that we know how to act in the spontaneity of the moment.
Psychological States and External Events
Samael Aun Weor mentions in Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology, how the best method for overcoming suffering is an appropriate psychological state:
“The best weapon that a human being can use in life is a correct psychological state.
“One can disarm beasts and unmask traitors by means of appropriate internal states.” ―Samael Aun Weor, Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology
So perhaps at our job, with our friends, with our family, with our spouse, somebody approaches us with hatred, with anger, with violence. If we learn to act with an appropriate psychological state, we can disarm the situation, dismantle aggression, because serenity is a much more crushing force than anger. We can unveil the truth by acting with states of sincerity, with altruism, with integrity
"Wrong internal states convert us into defenseless victims of human perversity." ―Samael Aun Weor, Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology
So if we face a crisis and yet we act with ego, at our job, in our career, we become defenseless. We become weak. People and their ego overwhelm us. We become victims of life, unable to act and orient the ship of our existence. We become slaves of suffering.
"You must learn to face the most unpleasant events of practical life with an appropriate internal uprightness.
“You must not become identified with any event. Remember that everything passes away.
“You must learn to look at life like a movie; thus you shall receive the benefits.
“You must not forget that if you do not eliminate mistaken internal states from your psyche, then events of no value could bring you disgrace." ―Samael Aun Weor, Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology
This means we are practicing retrospection meditation. We have to learn to comprehend the ego in the moment, observe ourselves instant by instant, moment by moment, acting upon Shari’ah, ethics. We must not identify with any event, because that wastes energy. We must not identify with external circumstances or our egotistical reactions, but to observe it like a movie so that we acquire data, information. And then later in the evening, or later in our day, we meditate upon what we saw and ask for comprehension and elimination of mistaken states from divinity.
"Unquestionably, each external event needs its appropriate fare, that is, its precise psychological state." ―Samael Aun Weor, Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology
Internal states must match external events. This is a very difficult concept to understand with the intellect, but it is something where we access and gain confidence in through meditation, reflection.
Every event needs its appropriate response. Impressions of life always enter us and we are always obligated to respond. We have to examine what states in us produce conflict, which are wrong, which are negative, but also to reflect on the virtues of the soul, to understand that which benefits oneself and others in a conscious way―in a spiritual way.
The Metaphysical Moment
This is the definition of the metaphysical moment as taught by Abdullah Ansari of Herat, who was a master from the Persian tradition of Sufism. He wrote in his Stations of the Sufi Path, a beautiful teaching about different levels of the moment as understood by levels of meditators, initiates.
God, the Most High, says, “Then did you come hither as ordained, O Moses!” (20:40). ―Abdullah Ansari of Herat, Stations of the Sufi Path
Moses was a prophet, but he also symbolizes the principle of liberated will: a consciousness that knows how to act here and now. And in the path of initiation, Moses is associated with the causal body: the body of will power within the sixth dimension, nirvana, the sphere of Tiphereth on the Tree of Life.
It is that type of will which is liberated that knows how to perform miracles, feats of magic, which is in the positive sense, the control of elements of nature, in accordance with the will of God. So while Muslims reject anything resembling magic or magical ceremony, the truth is that the prophets were all magicians. They represented for us the magic of the Being, the magic of a purified will.
So "Then did you come hither as ordained, O Moses!" (20:40).
Meaning, “You obeyed My command,” said the Being, because at that level of a master, one can receive direct knowledge and know what to do. In our level we tend to be very confused. We have an intuition in our heart, but because we don't listen to it. We tend to commit many errors and suffer the consequences.
Let us examine the different levels of the metaphysical moment, waqt:
“The metaphysical moment or time constitutes an instant in which nothing but God can be contained.” ―Abdullah Ansari of Herat, Stations of the Sufi Path
This has to do with being absorbed in divine states, in which we don't identify with anything but that state of bliss of divinity, whether in meditation or even in daily life, which we cultivate little by little.
“The people of the metaphysical moment are three groups. For one, the metaphysical moment is like a flash of lightning, for another, it is lasting, while for another, it is overwhelming.” ―Abdullah Ansari of Herat, Stations of the Sufi Path
These are degrees as indicated by the levels of Sufism, of instruction, of understanding.
There are introductory levels known as Shari’ah, the exoteric, the law of ethics, discipline, restraint of mind.
There is an intermediate path known as Tariqa, the mesoteric level. Tariqa can also refer to a Sufi school, and there are different Tariqas that provide the knowledge of Sufism.
Then there is an advanced knowledge or wisdom, Haqiqah / Marifah.
So for one, the metaphysical moment is like a flash of lightning for those in the introductory level. In the beginning of our path, we get insight, little by little, like a flash of lightning. We have moments of intuition and understanding, which are spontaneous. They emerge and they vanish quickly. However, we become inspired because we realize that we are perceiving God at our level, in a very basic way. This is the very beginnings of practice, which we cultivate through ethics, Shari'ah and meditation.
For the middle group, it is lasting, because for those who are really working seriously in Tariqa, a path or discipline, the mesoteric level, are making their intuitions and experiences much more consistent. Therefore the light lasts longer for them, because they are generating more light.
But for the advanced initiates, the Prophets, the Gods, the metaphysical moment is overwhelming, because that state is constant for them. This is the level of Beings like Prophet Muhammad, Moses, Jesus, Samael Aun Weor.
So obviously most of us will be in the introductory level. We gain insights here and there. We do so by learning to follow our intuition and our ethics as best we can, so that we can get more wisdom and light.
But the intermediate levels and the advanced levels are for those who are really practicing daily, seriously, for an extensive period of time.
The Three Degrees of the Moment
Abdullah Ansari of Herat also elaborates on these three stages and what they entail―from the introductory, the intermediate, and advanced levels.
For the introductory level, practitioners, “The moment that is like a flash of lightning is purifying, washing away defects.” ―Abdullah Ansari of Herat, Stations of the Sufi Path
In the beginning, we have to learn to wash away defects. We have to observe ourselves in the day and at night, or when we practice retrospection meditation: getting comprehension like a flash of lightning and purifying our psyche. For after comprehension comes annihilation, when working with the Divine Mother, Al-Baqarah, the sacred cow mentioned in the second surah of the Qur’an.
“The moment that is lasting is awe-inspiring and keeps one occupied.” ―Abdullah Ansari of Herat, Stations of the Sufi Path
So as we are working with the death of the ego, with Tariqa, our metaphysical moments are ecstasies. They become lasting, awe inspiring and keep us occupied. What does it mean to be occupied? It means that, whether physically or the internal planes, we are awake. We are busy. I have known missionaries in Gnosis, in our tradition, who have had many beautiful samadhis, many experiences, and personally when I have been in such states, I have been very occupied in what I have been experiencing in the astral plane, the mental plane, etc. This fills us with awe.
People who are unconscious and asleep are lazy. They are not occupied. They are unconscious. They go to bed for eight hours and wake up in the morning without awareness of what happened. This is the level of profound sleep, the path of ignorance. When we have those experiences we become filled with awe, but that light only emerges and sustains based on purification, Shari'ah, ethics.
"The moment that is overwhelming destroys and annihilates." ―Abdullah Ansari of Herat, Stations of the Sufi Path
So the moment of annihilation and destruction is of the self. This is the path of Haqiqah / Marifah, in which all sense of self is lost in the Being. This is the experience of the Truth in the highest degrees of the Tree of Life, the highest sephiroth of that diagram.
Let us examine the other requisites and degrees in the moment.
"The moment like a flash of lightning arises from contemplative reflection (fikrat)." ―Abdullah Ansari of Herat, Stations of the Sufi Path
For the beginner level, that flash of intuition and lightning comes about through self-observation in meditation, contemplative reflection, or serene reflection mentioned in the writings of Samael Aun Weor. We have to contemplate ourselves and reflect daily.
"The moment that is lasting arises from delight in divine remembrance and invocation." ―Abdullah Ansari of Herat, Stations of the Sufi Path
So what does it mean to feel delight in divine remembrance and invocation? It means that we have our true joy through the work, when we are consistent, when we are defined.
That wisdom lasts in us as we take delight in the Gnostic work, when we love the Gnostic esoteric work above all things, when we invoke God every instant of our life, asking for understanding―praying for wisdom, moment-by-moment, instant-by-instant.
"The moment that is overwhelming arises from the audition of spiritual vision." ―Abdullah Ansari of Herat, Stations of the Sufi Path
This is the level of Marifah / Haqiqah: Knowledge and Truth.
The moment that is overwhelming emerges from the audition of spiritual vision, from hearing and seeing the superior worlds, not only just from the lower sephiroth of the Tree of Life, but the top trinity and beyond. If you look at the Kabbalah, you remember that we have ten spheres―three trinities and then the lower sphere Malkuth, which is the physical body.
The levels of Sufism relate to the Tree of Life in these trinities.
The lower triangle, Yesod, Hod, and Netzach relate to our ethics (Shari’ah) because it is in those spheres where the ego manifests. They learn to control Netzach, our mind; Hod, our emotions; Yesod, our sexual energy. That is working with Shari'ah, the law, when we work with those elements consciously.
Tariqa, “the wisdom that lasts,” relates to the middle trinity: Chesed, Geburah, Tiphereth.
Chesed, the Being, the Spirit, the Innermost, Mercy; Geburah, divine consciousness; and Tiphereth, the human soul. This is the path of Tariqa, the heart, when we really remember God at that level.
And lastly, spiritual vision, which is the height: Haqiqah, the Truth and Marifah, Knowledge, relates to the top trinity of the Tree of Life. Al-Haqq can relate to Kether, Chokmah, Binah: supreme wisdom, intelligence, and the glory of divinity. But also Marifah, which is knowledge, relates with the sphere of Da’ath, alchemy, Allah-Khemia: to fuse with Allah.
If you are interested in learning more about how Sufism speaks about alchemy, you could study our lecture, Divine Love on chicagognosis.org, especially the course: The Sufi Path of Self Knowledge, from which is listed.
"The moment that is overwhelming arises from the audition of spiritual vision." ―Abdullah Ansari of Herat, Stations of the Sufi Path
Audition refers to hearing, and usually the Sufis speak about spiritual dance and listening to beautiful music with recitations of the Qur’an and other Sufi poetry.
This verse also has something much more profound related to it. What is spiritual audition? It has to do with, again recitation, the verb, with music: all that relates to the sphere of Da’ath on the Tree of Life, the hidden sephirah, which is the origin of spiritual vision: the science and mysteries of the perfect matrimony.
To reach those supreme heights of the spiritual moment, to know how to work with the highest degrees in the moment, obviously one has to be married. So that one becomes annihilated by the presence of God through alchemy, which we will explain progressively in this course, but also we have explained in other courses too on chicagognosis.org.
"That which is like a flash of lightning makes one oblivious to the world and illuminates one's recollection of the hereafter." ―Abdullah Ansari of Herat, Stations of the Sufi Path
So when we have intuitions and understandings, here and now, we reflect more on the course of our life. It illuminates our hopes and our understandings of where we would like to be―where we aspire to on the Tree of Life, which is the hereafter, the superior worlds. We become oblivious to the negativities and the ignorance of the world, and therefore, contemplate a higher truth: a higher reality from experience. That is the, again, Shari'ah, the path of the beginner, which leads us through the secret path, Tariqa, towards the heights, Haqiqah.
"The moment that is lasting will keep one engaged in itself rather than preoccupied with the hereafter, until the Truth becomes evident." ―Abdullah Ansari of Herat, Stations of the Sufi Path
What is interesting is for the beginners, we all want to go to heaven. We all want to go to the top of the Tree of Life, and we don't want to be down here. We don't want to be in the hell realms, so to speak. However, those who are really working with meditation, Tariqa, who are in “the moment that lasts,” when they are really awakening consciousness here and now, they'd rather be engaged in their work than preoccupied with the hereafter, because they understand from experience that to get to that point, they have to really work seriously―to be concerned with our daily life.
For as Samael Aun Weor mentioned, "Initiation is our own life, lived intensely, with rectitude and with love." These initiates who are really serious would rather be preoccupied with the death of the ego, engaged in the work itself, and not be preoccupied with salvation in some other world. They know that they have to get there by work, “until the Truth becomes evident.”
"The moment that is overwhelming eliminates the conditioned habits of the human state, so that the transcendent Truth alone abides." ―Abdullah Ansari of Herat, Stations of the Sufi Path
This is the path of Haqiqah / Marifah: those moments in which all the self is lost, annihilated, and only the Being is present in the soul.
These are the states of Prophets, the moments of our Prophet, which are very elevated. Of course, we can taste those levels if we are meditating, if we learn, first of all, to contemplate ourselves, here and now. Of course, the moment is always divided in different ways, according to the path of initiation, and according to a level of being. In order to explore this topic further, I invite you to ask questions.
Questions and Answers
Question: My question is, I would like to know what will be the best attitude for someone who is trying to stay alert. But, you know, its is going back and forth, back and forth, you know, so sometimes you know the feeling of discouragement wants to take it away. So what will be the best attitude for someone who is in that situation and would like to keep on going?
Instructor: That is a good question. Prayer is fundamental. Prayer is essential. When we feel weak and discouraged, we have to remember our experiences, when we acted virtuously, when we acted consciously for the benefit of others. We have to really reflect on our victories, things we have done well with, our virtues. It is not enough just to meditate on the death of the ego, but the contemplate right action. Because the more we see that we are capable of acting uprightly, the more we realize that we are capable of doing this work, that it can be done.
It is very easy in this knowledge to become pessimistic. Many people see the ego and become terrified at how vast and big it is―and get discouraged. But that is not an accurate depiction of our capacities for change. To really see how much work we have to do, it is important that we recognize that we do need a lot of work, but at the same time that shouldn't mean we become morbid, pessimistic, doubtful of our abilities.
The reality is, as we are having experiences internally, we gain flashes of lightning, inspirations, understandings, which keep pushing us to change. Of course, in the beginning those moments are like flashes of inspiration. They are not lasting yet. But in order to progress from the stage of Shari'ah to Tariqa, instead of going back and forth in our practice, we have to develop consistency, to really work regardless of whether or not we think we see results. Because the results will emerge spontaneously in our day to day, instant by instant life. Moment by moment. Little by little. And not to get discouraged, because of course, it is not easy to change, given the magnitude of our faults. But we also should not be one-sided and think with shame, "Oh I am such a negative bad person." But to realize we have the virtues of God inside. As small as that may be, remember that even David killed Goliath. The Essence, the soul, killed the giant.
I recommend meditating and praying and reflecting upon the virtues of your soul―taking the time to imagine and reflect on those moments in your life in which you acted virtuously, even when it was difficult to do so, because that gives us hope. Hope is important, to have hope in ourselves and divinity, in our abilities.
So it's necessary to be balanced in meditations, but also pray a lot for that help, because you gain help in the moment, when we pray, in those moments in which we are tested. When I have been in my current job, receiving a lot of difficulties, and I can feel my ego wanting to surge and act and affect the people I work with, I pray for a lot of help, for serenity. And I have been able to find through my meditations and my self-observations, not only the ego that I must work on, but also the virtuous qualities that I need to enact in those moments.
Meditation and self-observation, in the moment, go hand-in-hand. We deepen our understanding through prayer. To pray sincerely. Ask for your Divinity to help you. You don't need a formula in order to receive help or to ask for it, but simply with whatever longings you feel. You can ask, and I recommend take your question and your prayers to meditation, and then in that way, fall asleep, and examine your dreams for the answers. In that way, we gain experiences, more of those lightning flashes, so to speak, so that we continue to develop light.
It is not enough just to reflect on the bad. We have to reflect on the good in ourselves too, because that wouldn't be realistic.
Question: I was wondering if you would say more on what you were saying about. If you are enjoying a moment, then you are enjoying. If you're sorrowful then you are in sorrow. Can you speak about the difference between questioning where you are in and examining where you are? Sometimes I feel like in examining where I am, I am sort of questioning it. But it masks as examination, but sometimes there's almost a doubt within, that examination.
Instructor: It is stated by the Sufis how the “now” is the instant. We can be occupied with states of happiness or sorrow, because even the soul, can also experience states of remorse, of regrets for wrong action, which is the different kind of pain than just the ego not being satisfied.
So examination in the strict sense has to do with looking with the consciousness here and now. One thing is the intellect labeling and doubting what we see. But unfortunately, because our intellect tends to be much more developed in us than our conscience, we have that center of gravity in the mind.
Examination is nothing to do with the intellect. As Samael Aun Weor mentions, the intellect can give itself the luxury of labeling a defect and passing it to other levels of the subconsciousness, or the unconsciousness, or infraconsciousness. Real examination has to do with seeing the mind for what it is through conscious perception [muhasabah: inner accounting]. But we can only do that by being alert to what is going on―really examining and seeing without judgment, without labeling, without repressing what the contents of our psychology are. Examination has nothing to do with saying “This is an ego, pride,” or “This is an ego, vanity,” etc., but really seeing its qualities.
Judgment―we have to reserve for later in meditation and judgment can only occur once we have fully seen an ego in action and have comprehended it in meditation, because in the moment we can see egos in our daily state, defects. However, meditation is needed to go deeper.
So, examination is twofold. Self-observation, first, is what gives us the food and the fuel for meditation. And then judgment is the comprehension we get as we are meditating―when we really understand why a certain defect behaves or acts a certain way. Where did it come from? What is its conditioning? This is the knowing “the how and the why of the mind” according to Samael Aun Weor.
This is examination. comprehension, understanding. But of course, in the beginning, it is difficult because self-observation is a faculty in us that is atrophied. We gain strength with it more and more as we discipline ourselves to pay attention, instant by instant, moment by moment.
This is a transcription of an audio lecture from Spiritual and Mental Health, originally given live at the Gnostic Academy of Chicago.
In the Gnostic teachings, we talk a lot about suffering. In fact, if you are familiar at all with Buddhism, the first of the Four Noble Truths is that life is suffering. That in our existence, in our craving and desiring after different aspects and experiences of life, we are actually suffering intensely, but we are asleep to this. We are not aware of it.
Today, will be talking about trauma, and trauma is unique in that it is an experience that cannot be easily denied and that brings us directly into consciousness of suffering. If you have ever experienced something so traumatic, that the pain stuck with you even after the event had passed, or maybe now that pain has shaped your life in a very impactful way, then you understand that you have some consciousness of what suffering truly is. So you, in your own sense, have awakened some level of gnosis.
Gnosis γνῶσις is a Greek word that means knowledge, but not knowledge from a book. It is knowledge that is experiential. In this tradition, we often talk about striving for gnosis as direct experience of divinity. How do we have awakened experiences internally in the astral plane? How do we see and talk to God face-to-face and receive answers, not just pray but actually have that connection alive and awake within us? So when we talk about cultivating gnosis, it is something that we really deeply know not just intellectually, but with all of our being.
A trauma is interesting, because it is an experience of suffering that often manifests itself in the body. Even rationally we might say, "Well I should be over that, or that shouldn't have impacted me that much, or I don't want to act like this and respond with this much intensity to experiences anymore just because I was traumatized in the past.” Even with that rational resistance to it, we still tense up. We still feel the bodily sensations associated with the pain that we have gone through, and emotionally if you have known anyone who has been traumatized, or if you yourself have experienced trauma, it carries a heavy weight as well.
That is why I say it is a type of knowledge or gnosis that cannot be denied, no matter how much our rational mind tries to deny it and say, “This didn't happen to me! This wasn't a big deal. This shouldn't have affected me this much.” It really is a chance for us to wake up. In many ways, trauma can be a wake-up call: a chance for us to say there is something in life, in my life, that is fundamentally wrong. This suffering needs to be changed and can be a chance for us to explore, to seek more answers, to try to find a way to change.
For many people, they seek more existential roots to solve their problems. They seek to find a spiritual answer for why people have to suffer some horrible things such as rape, sexual assault, child abuse, even things like divorce: things that can be so painful emotionally, physically, etc.
So on the one hand, trauma presents us with an opportunity to radically change our lives, but for many people, it is very difficult to find answers or things that really work to make a change in their life, to really address their suffering. In those cases, trauma often becomes more of a burden, or an obstacle―something that only pushes us deeper into suffering. Perhaps a parent's problems with addiction, when we were a child, now causes us to struggle with addiction, as an example. How do we take the risks associated with trauma and try to transform them through a form of spiritual alchemy, into an opportunity for us to rise above suffering to become stronger, to become more wise, more aware of ourselves and of the mysteries of life?
Medical and Psychological Correlations of Trauma
When we talk about trauma, there are some interesting correlations between a medical or psychological, you know, mainstream definition of trauma, and the more esoteric or spiritual significance of trauma that I am going to discuss today.
Starting with a conventional understanding of trauma, we can look at the causes of trauma. In the field of psychology, it is often referred to as “Big-T” Trauma or “little-t” trauma. We acknowledge that sometimes events that seem not so significant to many people―for example a break up when someone is a teenager and feels very unloved―can often be dismissed as not a big deal by adults who don't really have that same perspective on life at that point. That would probably be considered a “little-t” trauma. It still has an impact on us. It still has an effect and many lasting effects often on the way that we would look for, in this example, at relationships in our future.
But it might not be considered a “Big T” Trauma. “Big T” trauma would be something like going to war and watching your best friend killed beside you, or experiencing a sexual assault, or perhaps being in a terrifying car accident. These types of long-term abuse or very traumatic incidents can be both considered trauma.
Now many times different people can go through the same event and have a different response to it. What this is frequently associated with is the characteristic of resilience. Resilience still remains a bit of a mystery for psychologists, but there is a lot of research pointing to the family structure and the early childhood environment as a major factor in terms of trauma, resilience. So if someone had a very stable and loving family environment, then they might experience traumatic events with more resilience, especially if they had at least one adult figure that was a stable caregiver in their life, versus people who had a lot more instability. Perhaps neglect or abuse in the home can make it much harder for victims to have resilience in a variety of different difficult situations.
Situational and Chronic Trauma
I also want to point out that trauma can be both situational and chronic. Now this impacts the brain in a very different way. Situational trauma is usually when someone is already an adult and they have an experience, that is a situation or maybe a few situations, that produce post-traumatic stress disorder. As given in the example, seeing someone's best friend die right beside them will be an example of situational trauma, and that this actually does damage the brain. It does have a psychological impact on the brain, but it is different from chronic trauma.
Chronic trauma is usually associated with childhood. It happens over a period of years. It could be years of childhood abuse, verbal abuse, sexual abuse, etc. This actually changes the whole structure of the brain and the way that the brain develops, so that that individual's personality now has a new structure, so the way that they even interface with the world will be very heavily impacted by the trauma that they went through over the course of those years.
Much of that has to do with the fight for survival. If you are coming home to an abusive home as a child, there is a feeling of helplessness. There is a feeling of never knowing what to expect, if today is going to be a good day or a bad day. So that puts tremendous stress on the body, on the nervous system. In that case, the brain has to reorient itself to find a way to survive―to find adaptive coping behaviors that, perhaps later on in life, will seem maladaptive to new situations where the threat isn't so real.
Commission versus Omission
Finally, there is trauma that happens via commission or via omission. Often we think of trauma as someone committing an act to me that makes me feel out of control. Being assaulted on the street would be an act of commission that could be traumatic for people. Give people a real sense of helplessness, and “I don't know if I have control over my life. How can I know that it is safe anywhere to go?”
Trauma of omission would be a lack of the needs that a person has. Omission could be childhood neglect or constant blame and that feeling of not being good enough. The absence of what someone needs also gets processed into the brain as a trauma and changes our brain structure.
As I mentioned here on the slide, trauma affects the nervous system and the neural structure. One good thing is that neuroscience now has so much evidence that even past the age of our mid-20s, we are still able to restructure our brain and meditation is a tremendous tool to be able to do so. So even though trauma codes itself and creates neural pathways that are very deeply ingrained through prolonged and continuous work, one is able to redirect and to kind of cut away those negative pathways, and produce new positive pathways that change your whole perception of reality, that also, by changing your outlook on reality, change the way that you respond to it.
Fight, Flight, and Freeze Responses to Reality
So perhaps you will not have one of these fight, flight, or freeze responses to situations. Take for example a woman who was in a domestic abusive partnership, where you know, continually, she had to be on her guard in order to defend herself from potential attacks from her partner. Now later on, she might enter into another relationship where the partner is loving and supportive, but little things may set this woman off to respond in a very aggressive way―that would be the fight response. To become completely withdrawn and cold towards her partner would be the flight response―or to freeze, to just totally dissociate, to become emotionally numb to the situation that she is in. So that is just one clear example of how that might manifest, but depending on the trauma, these responses can look a little bit different as you can imagine.
Given that those types of responses are what are programmed into the lower levels of the brain, the more instinctive levels of the brain, which is what becomes activated, it affects the entire nervous system and produces instinctive reactions without the ability to truly think consciously. To have that higher thinking process where you say “Hmm… maybe I'm overreacting about this situation; I should calm down; I should look at it more objectively”―when the amygdala, or the lower part of the brain gets activated, it is actually very, very difficult to be able to control oneself and to override that response, because it is such a deep primal part of the brain.
However, we do know that through meditation, as I mentioned before, we are able to gradually develop pathways and strengthen pathways that do allow us a bit of separation in those moments, and to repair the damaged parts of our brains so that we can respond in better ways.
For many people, trauma leads to what seemed to other people as irrational reactions. In that person's shoes, perhaps they don't even realize that they are traumatized. Perhaps they feel genuinely in this situation, “It is life or death for me. I need to defend myself. I need to survive,” and so they respond with an extreme reaction to the situation. But for someone else who standing around, who doesn't have that same experience of trauma, they may not understand why this person is freaking out about a certain situation.
The Spiritual Impact of Trauma
Now if we step into a more esoteric understanding drawing upon teachings from the Gnostic tradition―which we have many lectures about as well, if you'd like to learn more about these―we understand trauma and the way that trauma happens in a different way. So yes, it is true all the stuff that I just talked about―the biological impact of trauma―but more importantly for our concerns is the spiritual impact of trauma.
When we experience life as a consciousness, as a soul that is perceiving different aspects in nature, we experience a variety of sensations as impressions. Now you can live for certain amount of time without food, without water, and even without air, but you can't exist without impressions. Even if you go off to one of the sensory deprivation tanks, still in your mind, there are impressions. There is an impression of darkness where there are thoughts.
Impressions both come to us from our environment externally and are impressing upon our consciousness and our perception, but they also come internally. So it may be that we almost step into the road and a bus coming by scares us, and that is an impression that strikes the consciousness, but the result that is produced within us, the fear, the instinctive pull of the body back, you know, the thought of “Oh my gosh, I could have just died right there!”―all of those things are also impressions.
This shows us that the consciousness, that which perceives within us, is separate from the body, separate from the heart, and separate from the mind. It perceives these aspects of ourselves: thoughts, emotions, physical sensations, experiences in our external world, but it is separate from them. This is very important, because when we try to meditate, meditation is not just to sit on a cushion and to zone out, but to activate the consciousness that is beyond thought, feeling, and body.
We have to have that fundamental understanding that we are not our thoughts. We are not our emotions. We are not our bodies. We are perceiving them, but they are impressions, and we do have the conscious ability to take a step back from them and perceive them without being so identified with, “I am angry. This anger is me. I must act on it!” I have no other choice but to separate a little bit and to realize, “I am feeling anger. I am experiencing anger and right now I have the choice if I want to believe that this anger is worth doing these acts and maybe later on I'll regret, or if this anger is something I can let go of and choose a different path―using my free will.”
When we talk about the human machine, we understand that for most people, probably all of us here, we are much more mechanical than we are conscious. Like in the example I gave of the bus driving by―that happens in a split second and you react to it. There is no conscious choice in, “Am I going to jump back from that bus? Am I going to feel afraid? Am I going to think these thoughts afterwards?” It just happens. The impression comes in.
The brain, which we would call the intellectual center or the intellectual brain, is one part of us. We also have emotions, the heart, the emotional brain, emotional center in the body, and the motor-instinctive-sexual center of our body related with the spine. With those instincts in the lower brain, those three centers respond immediately, instantaneously to those reactions.
In most cases, the motor-instinctive-sexual center is the fastest brain, and we know that the nervous system is throughout the entire body and responds instinctively before your brain can even think or send a message. You touch a hot stove. Your hand pulls off before you can even think about it. That is the fastest brain.
The emotional brain is the second fastest. Emotions often come before we have time to process what is really happening to us and think about it rationally, and you know, there is a lot of research on how the heart is actually sending many more messages to the brain, and can actually have a bit of precognition. It can actually respond to something before it even happens.
Then finally, the intellectual center of the brain. So, most of us think, “Well, I am a rational person. I respond to life from logic and I am not going to act irrationally. I am not going to respond emotionally or instinctively, you know. I am an educated person” or whatever the case may be. But the truth is, given a certain experience, you will see that we are designed to survive―that we are designed like machines.
A stimulus comes in and we respond to it without thought. Why this is important is because the part of us, the consciousness, the part of us that is our soul, that is eternal, is the part we want to activate, because with the consciousness we can achieve that separation and we can respond to life with free will, with choice―not just according to our conditioning―not just “this happened to me when I was kid and this is the way I was raised and so I have no other choice but to respond in this pre-programmed way.”
We actually have a choice about “who do I want to be” and “how do I actually do that in the moment.” The consciousness, when it is awakened, is much, much faster than any of these three centers, but awakening the consciousness requires certain conditions that we are going to talk about in a few minutes.
The Transformation of Impressions and Psychological Disequilibrium
Now, when we receive impressions in the consciousness and it is not awake, this produces a disequilibrium in us, and especially over time, since most of us are running on autopilot much of the time. We are not even aware of this deep disequilibrium. We think, “Well, that's just the way that I am. If I perceive somebody to be disrespecting me, I am just going to respond like that because that's my character.”
But truly, it may be that throughout our life, we have received impressions and never transformed them. We have never looked within ourselves to say, “What is happening in me when I perceive that somebody is disrespecting me and what is causing me to respond? Do I have a choice to perhaps sink to their level and respond in kind, or to rise above it and be the type of person that maybe I'd prefer to be?”
That is why I say here, and we teach in our tradition, that untransformed impressions lead to conditioned behavior and thoughts. If we want to live as a free-willed individual, we cannot be living according to the program that has been conditioned into us. If we want to have the choice to pursue a path of enlightenment, just like Buddha or Krishna, Moses, Jesus, any of these great spiritual figures who at one point were just like us, then we need to begin to radically take control over our situation. We need to stop being who we are and open up the pathways of action that allow us to become someone new.
That is why meditation is essential spiritual practice.
Now, if you are not from an eastern religious tradition, meditation may take the form as contemplation or prayer, but regardless, we say that meditation is not about necessarily your posture, although posture, incense, those types of things of course can be helpful. Meditation is really about your state of consciousness. You may be walking about through the world and have the consciousness awake, and this can be meditation. If you have experienced a very intense situation where you suddenly felt extremely awake, that may be spontaneous experience of meditation, but we want to, of course, work with the science of meditation to learn the conditions to be able to produce it regularly.
So here, our problem of trauma is that we have we have impressions coming in all the time that aren't transformed and they are conditioning us to feel certain ways, to think certain thoughts, and to respond and behave in certain ways. If we don't want to spend our lives on repeat, feeling the same emotions day after day, thinking the same thoughts day after day, repeating the same reactions and behaviors day after day; if we really want to create a new life for ourselves, then we need to be able to wake up our consciousness.
The founder of our Gnostic tradition, Samael Aun Weor, makes a very powerful and simple statement about all of this. About receiving impressions in our life.
"To change one's life is really to change one's own reactions towards it." ―Samael Aun Weor, The Revolution of the Dialectic
A lot of us have the mentality that life is just happening to me―and yes, it is true that our environment, our situation, the different systems in our world, do have an impact on our life, absolutely. But, what really determines the quality of our life is our response to it.
So if one impression strikes us in a certain way and produces negativity, then we are having a negative experience of life. If we can take that same impression and experience something more positive, like gratitude or understanding, then we have changed our experience of life. Fundamentally, life is not about what objectively happens to us out in the physical world. It is about the way that we experience it.
We see individuals who have been through intense hardship―war zones, like I said, trauma, childhood abuse―who have been able to transcend that and really have gratitude and experienced a lot of positive emotions in their lives.
Then we have individuals who have been, you know, born into wealth, and you can see that they are really miserable people. They can complain about a lot of things. Now, of course, there is every gray area in between. Not everybody who is rich is miserable. Of course, I am not going to say that, but we see that it really depends on the quality of the person in that experience, more than it depends on the situation. So, we have a habit of thinking, “Well, I am only going to be happy if this and this and this situation happens to me,” which is most of the time, out of our control.
The Gnostic Esoteric Work
In our spiritual work, we are trying very hard to flip that mentality into, “I am going to be happy if I can really come to understand my situation in life and consciously choose how I am going to respond to it.” This is a process. This is not just wishful thinking of, “Oh, okay I have been traumatized and I am just going to be happy about it.” It is not about belief. It is something much deeper.
So, to get into that, we are going to talk about: what is this work? I say it is a work because it requires a lot of effort, especially deep traumas that happened over the course of years. This is not something that is going to be erased overnight. Even, you know, from a materialistic psychological standpoint, to reverse the effects of trauma in the brain as you create new neural pathways takes a long time and a lot of work.
If we have experienced trauma and have a genuine longing to be free, we are willing to do the work. We want to be free from the suffering and we genuinely say, “This is a point in my life where I am turning it around. I am going to radically try to take control of my life and try something new.” Then we can begin to work with these methods.
The methods themselves are quite simple in theory, but to truly put our conscious effort into it is what depends on us. It is not about whether the method will work as much as it is about our willingness to continuously apply it and to give it, you know, give it the time it takes to work.
The Magic of the Roses
In Samael Aun Weor's book, Esoteric Medicine and Practical Magic―as you can see we have copies of the books over there―he teaches one remedy that is called the magic of the roses.
This is what I give as a precursor, because many people who are experiencing trauma, if they even begin to think about that trauma, or if some situation in their life comes and triggers the pain from the past, they are overwhelmed with emotion and pain. From that state, it is very difficult to cultivate the stability needed to be able to truly meditate and try to go deeper into changing ourselves.
So, this remedy is a natural remedy for us to heal spiritual and emotional pain and trauma: you know the loss of a loved one, a painful breakup, or even dealing with the after-effects of abuse, self-hatred, etc.
To work with the magic of the roses, one takes three glasses or water, pure water, of course, being better if you're able to, and then places one rose in each glass.
Position one glass facing the north, one glass facing the east, one glass facing the west.
Ideally if you have an altar or a spiritual place where you like to meditate or pray in your home, you would place these glasses there and you would sit and you would genuinely pray―reaching out to your inner divinity, whatever form that may take for you that is most powerful: Jesus or Buddha or the Divine Mother, Divine Father, whatever that may be, and pray for healing. Pray to bless these roses and to give you the healing.
Then, drink in the morning before breakfast the glass facing the east, and in the afternoon before lunch, the glass facing the north, and before dinner the glass facing the west.
You can refill the glasses and repeat the process for as many days as needed, until you feel like you are feeling better.
Now, what is important to point out here is that this is the magic of the roses. So, if we are seriously trying to work with magic or a mystical practice, an esoteric practice, we need a certain type of energy. This is not just based on belief, but it is based on our own quality of consciousness. For one thing, it matters how much you are really conscious and sincere in your prayer to be healed. For another thing, you also will need to utilize a very powerful force.
Sexual Energy: The Most Powerful Force for Healing
When we think about the most powerful energy within our bodies, it is the sexual energy. What can move people to chase after a desire so passionately, with so much energy over such a prolonged period of time, as much as sexual desire, right?
Sexual energy is the synthesis of everything that we are physically, emotionally, mentally. The things that we have experienced, the things that we have seen and thought, all get coded genetically into the DNA of our sexual cells. This sexual energy is not just the synthesis of who we are in a physical level, but holds a very special spiritual power.
The spiritual power of our sexual energy is the power of God, the power to create life. And yes, we understand this on a basic level, physically. What many people are not aware of is the sexual energy's power to transform and give birth within the psyche to new states of consciousness, the ability to awaken in higher state of consciousness, or if used in a negative way, the sexual energy can be used to awaken in lower realms of consciousness.
That is why I put here in the slide about transmutation that we want to transmute the sexual energy with purity―not with lust, but with love. Sexual attraction for most of us is always associated with lust. "If I feel desire for someone, it's in a very lustful way and that's just the only way I can think about that person." But what we are trying to do is take lust, start where we are at―you know, we all have lust―and to transform it through different practices. These are called pranayama in yogic traditions, breathing practices where you consciously take that energy and raise it up the spine into the brain to awaken our consciousness.
To use that energy helps us to move from being a lustful person to a truly loving person. Lust is “all about me and what I want in this relationship” or in this exchange with another person. Love is about the concern that “I feel for my partner” or this other individual. Love is being willing to sacrifice “what I want in order to support the happiness of both of us.”
Being able to move from that is not an automatic process. It requires a lot of consciousness, and being able to do the work of really changing ourselves into a new type of being is not an automatic process and requires a lot of work. This type of energy gives us the ability to have the equivalent of rocket fuel in our spiritual practice and to awaken in that way.
These practices are talked about at length in the book The Perfect Matrimony by Samael Aun Weor. He talks a lot about sexual alchemy, sexual transmutation, sexual purity, and being able to be with one's partner in a way that is loving instead of a way that is lustful. I don't have time today to really dive into it, but we do have the book, or you can read it for free online at gnosticteachings.org. I'm just going to take one quote from this book. He says:
“Here, we are not dealing with a matter of believing or disbelieving, of considering oneself chosen, or of belonging to such-and-such sect. The question of salvation is very serious. One must work with the grain, with the sexual seed. […] Only from the sexual grain is the Inner Angel born.” ―Samael Aun Weor, The Perfect Matrimony
We look at masters like Jesus, Buddha, Moses, people who had power over nature. This was not an accident. They worked to cultivate it, and from their sexual force was born a tremendous power.
All of us have this capacity within ourselves, and it is not a matter of whether or not we believe it's true. It's a matter of if we do the practice and we really work with it, we see the results. We see the changes in our physicality, in our emotional center, in our mind. We see the changes in our conscious experiences: being awakened in the astral plane or in dreams, etc.
And so, it is not a matter of belonging to any group. You can be in any type of religion that you want, but it is a matter of really working sincerely with this science.
I begin with this practice, transmutation, as the basis, because although much of the work is in the next two practices I am going to talk about when we are trying to resolve our trauma. Without this basis, we can only go so far. Meditation will be helpful, magic of the roses might be helpful, but in order to create a truly permanent change in our consciousness, not just in our mind, or in our mental pathways within our consciousness, in the part of us that will move on to another lifetime, we need something much more powerful. Sexual energy is the root of who we are spiritually and physically.
Meditation as Therapy
The real intense work of trying to overcome trauma is in meditation. It is only through meditation that we can deeply comprehend the causes of our suffering. If we have experienced any impression in life, and it seems to be stuck and we are going around and around and around in circles over it, maybe we are thinking about it or we can't stop feeling or reacting to it. Being in meditation―calming the three brains, the mind, the heart, and the body, sitting in relaxation, and achieving the awakening of that consciousness and separating enough from the experiences that we are having emotionally, mentally, or physically―allows us to see what is truly happening to us in a more objective way, to experience it with more consciousness.
There is a whole book about this as well, The Revolution of the Dialectic by Samael Aun Weor. He points out many different techniques for being able to meditate, because if you have ever tried to look at your mind, it is a very complex place, and for most of us when we begin meditating, it is a very chaotic experience.
It is like, “I can't pay attention for 5 seconds, how am I supposed to go deeply into comprehending the causes of suffering in my mind?” It takes time to develop relaxation, to find a posture, and you know, an ability to create relaxation within yourself in those three centers.
It also takes time to develop concentration, to be able to concentrate on our mind and our experience with such vividness and alertness that we can stay awake even as the body relaxes into sleepiness.
Countertransference: The Resistance of the Mind
But in addition to that, we have other challenges, and when it comes to trauma there are a lot of these challenges. The mind has infinite defense mechanisms to protect itself. If you are trying to work on trauma or something that is very painful for you―a wound that you have carried for a very long time―the mind will try to guard itself so that you can't go there.
There is a reason that many traumatic memories get repressed, or that we don't like to think about the past and the bad things that happened. It is because the mind is trying to protect itself from pain, you know, this instinct in us, to go automatically towards pleasure and to go away from pain.
Unfortunately, just by ignoring something, we don't resolve it. We don't fix it. Meditation, like I said, is really diving in to do the deep work, to create a lasting change in ourselves because our unconscious mind will respond and react to situations before we have time to think about it. So we go deep and we remove those unconscious structures and mechanisms within our consciousness, our psyche. Then we can respond with free will instead of as machines.
Samael Aun Weor writes in The Revolution of the Dialectic:
"The difficulty of profound introspective analysis (of our mind) lies in counter-transference."
Countertransference, when we think about this in a therapeutic setting, a clinical setting, is about reflecting a past trauma on to someone or something outside of us. Let's say that that in that situation of the woman who was in an abusive partnership, in that case she might try to repress that and move on, but when she enters into a new relationship, even if it's a healthy partnership, that will transfer all of that trauma, will transfer onto the new person or transfer onto different traumatic situations and produce the same reactions.
So even though objectively, these are two very different people and these situations may be very different, subjectively, within that person's experience of life, it is the same experience.
They are not conscious of this. They say, "No, no,” that “it's this guy. He's treating me bad, just like my ex-husband,” or whatever, but really, it is within ourselves that is projected onto life. I want to go back again to that earlier statement about “to change one's life is really to change one's own reaction towards it.” That is the flip side. Even if we have been victimized―which many of us in life have been… there are bad people out there right?―it is to take responsibility for our life and how we are going to react to it anyway.
To say, “Even though these terrible things happen to me and these people did this to me, I am not going to sit around and blame other people and persist in my pain. I really want to be free. I really want to say that no matter what happened to me, I want to be free from this and I want to choose how I respond and not be conditioned.” That is why the difficulty is countertransference. Countertransference tries to look everywhere else, but at “me and my experience and how I am responding to this.” It does not want to look at the paint.
Samael Aun Weor goes on to say that:
“This difficulty of countertransference is eliminated through structural and transactional analysis.” ―Samael Aun Weor, The Revolution of the Dialectic
It sounds very technical, but if we are sitting in meditation and we have achieved enough relaxation, concentration and stability to separate consciously from our experience, from our thoughts, to observe our thoughts―this is not to have a completely silent mind, but to have a silence that observes the mind, observes those thoughts, and observes those emotions in the bodily sensations―then we are able to see that the mind has a certain structure. It has its defenses. It has its walls.
In an example, if a man experienced a break up and his partner did something to really hurt him, and then he responded by shutting this person out, trying to put it all in the past, then in that case, one of the structures is, “I don't think about that. That is over. That is in the past. I am over it―all right.” This is one defense. There is a certain structure, and if this person sits in meditation and he tries to look at that and he says, “Well, maybe there still is some pain there; maybe I am not as over it as I thought, because something reminded me today about it and maybe there is some pain there”―the mind will have a transaction.
It will move on to some other defense. It will say, “Uh oh! He's getting through this wall.” So what is this other wall? Anger might come up and say, “Well, really I didn't do anything wrong in this situation. She did everything wrong and she was the bad person.” Again, we see the countertransference and the repression, or the ignorance gets transferred over to anger. We think, “Okay, well, I don't want to be this anger. I don't want to blame the other person. I want to be the better person,” then that transaction can move over to pride: “But really, I am a good person and I was so good to her,” and you know, whatever the case may be for any variety of situations.
We have to sit there and have gnosis of our own experience: to become deeply conscious of our experience of what happened, not by analyzing in the mind, but observing the structure of the mind and observing the transactions and the movements of the mind, until finally the mind has to stop deflecting and has to just let you look at the thing that you, perhaps, for a long time had not looked at.
That is why Samael Aun Weor goes on to say:
“It is important to segregate and to dissolve certain undesirable psychic aggregates that are fixed in our mind in a traumatic matter.” ―Samael Aun Weor, The Revolution of the Dialectic
The aggregates in our mind would be something like that structure of anger, or that structure of repression, or that structure of pride, and they work together like friends. That's the transaction. So we want to set segregate them, to say, “Ah! Okay, well it just deflects it over here, but I am going to go back and I am going to focus on that until I have been able to dissolve it,” to say “I see this for what it is. I recognize and understand why this is here and I can consciously choose to eliminate it; to let it go; to say it's just not true and it has no power over me anymore.”
So as I mentioned before, belief, and just pushing it down and thinking positive thoughts, is not enough. We need comprehension. We need to go deeply in meditation and really see it for what it is in order to achieve lasting change. That is why this is a work of months or years, because continually, in our daily life, trauma resurfaces, and continually we have to make that choice: that our work to change ourselves is a priority, and that we are willing, again and again, to go and eliminate the different unconscious mechanisms within ourselves―things that have been fixed there as part of “who I am” in a traumatic matter. We want to make a change to them.
Self-Observation and Comprehension of Trauma
Going hand-in-hand with meditation is self-observation, because as I just mentioned, traumas resurface in our daily life. It said in the psychological community that trauma forces someone to live, permanently, stuck in the past. So even if they are somewhat present to their daily life, a part of them is trapped in the past and still responding to the past, trying to prevent from happening what has already happened.
If I have already been assaulted, I live constantly trying to prevent getting assaulted rather than being able to go back and look at the pain that is there and heal it, and let the wound heal. Comprehend it for what it is. Truly grieve for “what I have been through” and be able to let it go, rather than living as if it is still a threat currently “happening to me.” And so when we go in meditation, this is based on our self-observation: on the things that we see come up in ourselves every day.
The Traumatic Causes of Karma in Past Lives
In Tarot and Kabbalah, Samael Aun Weor writes:
“We need to make ourselves conscious of our own karma. This is only possible through the state of alert novelty.”
Alert novelty is being conscious and being awake to “what is happening to me,” not just externally, but “what am I feeling? What am I thinking? How is my body responding?” Becoming aware of your body in the chair and how you are feeling emotionally? And what thoughts are popping into your mind? Not just now, but in every moment. That takes tremendous energy, which again, is another reason why sexual transmutation gives us the fuel that we really need to be able to stay awake consciously throughout the day.
Now when he is talking about karma here, karma comes from the root karman, which means: “action and consequence, cause and effect.” So maybe our mainstream idea of karma is just, "Oh, you did something bad to somebody; something bad is going to happen to you!” But a much more scientific understanding of karma, for our terms, is that there is no action that does not produce a consequence.
You can't throw a rock into a pool of water without producing ripples. Now the shape of that consequence may take, or the time it may take for that consequence to fully bloom, that can be variable. But everything you do, everything you think, everything you feel has an effect. If you feel anger and you think angry thoughts, even if you don't act on it, it will change the way that you interact with the person you are angry with. At some point it might even bubble up and express itself fully, may be in a worse way for being repressed. Everything in our life produces some consequence, and that is why it is even more critical to be able to become conscious of our response to life, because we might not be able to change what we have done in this life up to now, or even in past lives, but we can change what we are doing now that will alter the future of this lifetime and future lifetimes.
He goes on to say that:
“Every effect in life, every event, has its cause in a previous life; but we need to become conscious of this.” ―Samael Aun Weor, Tarot and Kabbalah
If you are really working with meditation, and I say this from my own experience, and you meditate on a trauma, and you go deep enough, you will see causes in previous lifetimes. I can give an example of a painful relationship that I was in where, again and again, no matter how much I tried to change this person, this man and I would continually repeat the same types of behaviors towards each other. As much as we might have cared for each other, it continually remained a toxic relationship.
And so, you know, years after the fact when I am trying to go on and live my life, this keeps resurfacing for me. I am studying the Gnostic teachings. I am working with these practices, transmutation, meditations, etc., and I say “Okay, well, here is a perfect example. This is something I definitely want to change” by going deeply in meditation and understanding, on a regular basis, you know, really working on this day to day until I could get deeper and deeper.
First getting through the defense mechanisms, then getting into “Well, how am I really feeling?” Because I have pushed it down and denied it for so long, I haven't even objectively seen my experience, until finally going deeper into what caused this. Why would something like this happen? Why did I have to be stuck in so much pain for so long? And being able to see through astral experiences the exact actions that I had done in multiple previous lives, and that this person had done in multiple previous lives, that caught us in that pattern.
Now this was something that I didn't necessarily believe in or expect to happen. I totally felt like, “Well, this just happened to me, whether or not I believe in past lives. This happened because he was a bad person and I was young” or whatever. But to truly go and have an experience so vividly where I saw, instantaneously, those multiple past lives―with those multiple transgressions in different bodies and different times, but seeing the same energetic cycle―was shocking for me.
It produced a type of comprehension that really was so deep, I was able to fundamentally alter the way that I looked at myself, because I never saw myself really, deeply, as the aggressor. As much as I might have said, “Well, yeah, I did bad things… I really felt victimized,” it hurt. But when I saw “Oh my gosh! I did that in past lives” and I knew from the experience and how vivid it was, how true it was that I was really there, I wept with remorse, because I would have done anything I could to have changed that and to not have hurt this other person that I cared for.
But you know, we have to work from where we are at now.
So when we become deeply conscious through self-observation, through what is coming up in our current life, and also through meditation, through going deeply, day after day, into deeper states of meditation, deeper states of consciousness and comprehension, it can produce a fundamental shift. I say that, and I probably still have more work to do on that particular one, but I have profoundly changed, and in a permanent way, which wouldn't be possible for me to react in some of the ways that I had before.
He goes on in Tarot and Kabbalah, saying:
“The law of action and consequence governs the course of our varied existences, and each life is the result of the previous one.” ―Samael Aun Weor, Tarot and Kabbalah
Now we see repetition on a daily basis. We see that, “Yeah, you know, when I get in these types of situations, I tend to act the same way. Even if I am trying to change.” We see this in our current life, but even more fundamentally, in past lives, we followed very similar trajectories, because the same energy propelled us. The same desires, the same fears, the same vices, and even the same virtues, in some cases, provoked us to repeat the same patterns.
What we want to do is become conscious of what is propelling us in this lifetime, in this moment, and to have a conscious choice over “which direction do I want to go? Do I want to continue to get stuck in deeper and deeper suffering, to keep doing things that hurt others and hurt myself? Or do I want to change the trajectory of that energy so that the rest of my lifetime or future lifetimes is much improved from this one?”
Samael Aun Weor writes:
“Karma is the law of compensation, not of vengeance.” ―Samael Aun Weor, Tarot and Kabbalah
It is cause and effect. It is not some evil old man in the clouds trying to shoot down lightning bolts at you because he is mad at you, because you are a terrible sinner. It is cause and effect. You send an energy into motion to be angry at someone and to hurt someone, and that energy produced effects in that person, produce effects in the environment, and at some point in time, those effects come back. Because when you are angry at somebody and you hurt them, unless they are very awake and they can transform them, that unconscious effect on them produces effects that they want to respond to you with anger, with pain, to make you feel what they feel. This happens in all actions.
“There are some who confuse this cosmic law with detriment and even with fatality, believing that everything that happens to the human being in life is inexorably determined beforehand. It is true that the acts of the human being are determined by inheritance, education, and the environment. Yet, it is also true that the human being has free will and can modify his actions to educate his character, to form superior habits, to fight against weaknesses, to fertilize virtues, etc. Karma is a medicine that is applied unto us for our own good.” ―Samael Aun Weor, Tarot and Kabbalah
Karma is an opportunity that comes with risks. Karma provides us with the opportunity to see ourselves in a new way―to wake up to our suffering and to change. What did I do to produce this? Maybe not in this lifetime, but in previous lifetimes, and what can I do to change it, if I awake consciousness and respond in a new way? But it also comes with the risk of just getting more identified with that intense pain and going deeper and deeper into suffering, continuing the downward spiral.
And he concludes with quite a bit of severity:
Disgracefully, instead of bowing with reverence before the internal living God, people protest, blaspheme, they justify themselves, they stubbornly excuse themselves and wash their hands like Pilate. Karma is not modified with such protests; on the contrary, it becomes harder and more severe.” ―Samael Aun Weor, Tarot and Kabbalah
No matter how much we might resist karma or be mad about our situation or say, “Well, I was a good person and I didn't deserve this,” and “Why is this happening?” and yell at our inner God―it won't change cause and effect. It is not going to change the energies in nature that are coming to manifest for us. We will reap what we sow. If we do good deeds that produce harmony in our environment, that produces happiness and other people, they will respond to us with that happiness.
Now, maybe not immediately, but it is a given that any energy you put into motion has an effect. A lot of times, it takes months or years for the good effects to manifest. So, we have to really stick with it and be tenacious because, we have done, you know, all of us have done bad things in our life; thought bad things about bad things; acted in harmful ways; hurt people. So, you know, unfortunately, I said, we can't undo the past, but we can choose right now to respond to our present life in a new way to change our future.
Selfless Service and Sacrifice: The Transformation of Suffering
Finally, the last force that we work with, to truly transform our trauma, is sacrifice for others, particularly those who suffer similarly to us.
We have talked about how we need transmutation to have the energy and the spiritual power to become someone new, to become conscious in new ways.
We need meditation to go deeply to get rid of the conditioning that makes us the same old person, on repeat, all the time.
And finally, we need the power of sacrifice, because these are the actions that help us to create those new energies in motion, so that we don't encounter those same negative experiences that re-traumatize us, but so that we can get the healing that we want.
As you sow you will also reap. So, if we want to heal from our trauma, we need to begin by healing others.
I want to preface this with a bit of caution, in that if you are in a very traumatized state and you are feeling overwhelmed, be careful what types of situations you put yourself into until you have some healing. If you have healthy and stable relationships in your life, you can begin to really do this work and go deeply in yourself, but if not, it can be unsettling especially early on.
It is very difficult to manage unless we have a real strength of consciousness in our meditation practice. If you don't have anyone you feel is a stable and healthy support in your life, it can be helpful to see a therapist, or to see someone that specializes in trauma, who understands the process and can be there to support you. You have to do the work, and every therapist will agree that you only get out of therapy the amount of effort you are willing to put into it.
But it is really necessary to have some source of stability, because as a consciousness, most of us, are very weak, and there are a lot of Impressions coming in our lives, so we want to keep our ourselves, in the beginning, in situations that are positive impressions: healthy places to go; good people to be around; healthy types of music or activities or yoga, things like that, that bring us stability, rather than, you know, going into bars, or places where you know it is dangerous, if you are able to.
Not all of us have that luxury, I understand, so doing what we can to produce stability before we really deeply dive into working on our trauma, sacrificing for others, it depends on us and our situation and our willingness. What am I willing to really do to serve other people ? If we have the strength and we start to work on ourselves and we get to a good place, what am I really willing to do to not just serve other people, but to sacrifice for other people? To go above and beyond what is expected of me as a good citizen and to really expend something of my heart, or my time, or my talents, in the benefit of other people―this is what is the true power that produces great change.
However, as stated in Tarot and Kabbalah:
“Many people who suffer only remember their bitterness and wish to find a remedy. But, they do not remember the suffering of others; neither do they remotely think of remedying the needs of their neighbors.” ―Samael Aun Weor, Tarot and Kabbalah
When we are in intense pain, that is usually all we can think about: how much I am suffering as a self. Now, if you get into some of the more esoteric teachings of Buddhism and Eastern teachings, you come to understand that there is no such thing as a self, and yet we deeply believe ourselves to be an individual who has such and such experiences, who reacts in such and such a way.
The psyche itself is egotistical. It maintains an illusion of “This is who I am” and “this is how I feel” and “this is what I think.” The consciousness is beyond that, but when the consciousness is asleep, it is fused with the psyche in such a way that it feels very strongly that “This is who I am. That is my existence.” And again, that is why it's important to be able to separate the consciousness a little bit in meditation, to observe the self, not as me, but as a structure or as an entity that can be separated from me. That can be observed as its own individual person with its own feelings and wills, and to be able to do that requires a good deal of stability, concentration, relaxation, and meditation.
So when we are trapped in that egotistical prison, a feeling like, “Oh my gosh, everything bad is happening to me! This happened and then years later this happened, and this keeps happening!”―that pain is so intense it is nearly impossible to think about anybody else and anybody else who is suffering. Yet, we should take the time to really think about how much other people are suffering, not as a way of comparing: “Oh, well, I have got it worse than those people or they are worse than me” and making ourselves feel guilty, but to just truly comprehend it and feel it deeply in ourselves. This is to feel the pain of other people, empathize with that, and wish, “I wish things on this planet were better and not so many people were suffering.” We see that we have the power in our limited free time or with our limited gifts to be able to go and help someone else, to say, “Man, if all of us have to suffer this much, I at least want to produce something good for someone else!” Then we are able to break out of our prison of egotism a little bit, and it actually lessens our sorrow. It actually lessens our experience of being so enmeshed and ingrained in our in our own individual pain.
The Cessation of Karmic Suffering
I will conclude with a final point from the same book Tarot and Kabbalah:
“If those people would think of others, serve their neighbors, feed the hungry, give a drink to the thirsty, dress the naked, teach those who are ignorant, etc., then it would be clear, they are putting good deeds on the plate of the cosmic scale [of karma]. The scale would incline toward their favor. Thus, they would alter their destiny, and good luck would come in their favor. In other words, all of their necessities would be remedied. But people are very selfish; this is the reason for their suffering. No one remembers God nor their fellowmen except when they are in desperation.” ―Samael Aun Weor, Tarot and Kabbalah
Again, I want to emphasize that this is not a matter of belief and believing, “Oh well, if I just superficially do a couple nice things and superficially wish good things for others, then all of a sudden my life is going to be perfect and great things are going to happen.”
It is a matter of action. You don't have to believe in this cosmic law of karma and cause and effect for it to have an impact on you. You don't have to believe that you are going to get wet when it is raining in order for you to step outside and get wet. This is the same way. We have a big obstacle in American society and that is cynicism. People genuinely don't believe that if you do good things, then good things are going to happen to you. They think “Well, the only people it works out for are the ones who get ahead and step on everybody else.”
This is an obstacle. This is a belief that changes the way we perceive reality, that changes the way we respond to reality. If we are deeply a cynic, we respond to reality with that conditioning and with that negativity and we act in negative ways as a response to it: hopelessness―you know―nihilism. So for us to really change that, we need to be open to trying new things, open to genuinely saying, “Okay, for the next month, I'll go volunteer someplace and I'll do something good in my free time that otherwise I wouldn't do.”
We have the free will to choose that, but do we have enough conscious will power to actually do it and stick with it even when it gets ugly, and we are really seeing the suffering, the intense suffering of other people? Are we really willing to stick with it and to see the impact it makes on us? Because that action will not be without consequence. It will change you. It will change your emotional state, your thoughts. You will see the world in a new way if you go into that type of environment, if you do that type of work, if you give of yourself, even when you are tired, or you don't feel like it, etc.
As I mentioned, it is a way that we can change things, but to have true faith in karma doesn't come from belief. That faith in karma comes from being awake: observing our life; observing the effects of our actions; the effects of our thoughts, emotions, etc. And that is how we produce a lasting change. It is by deeply knowing that. If I do this, it will produce this result. Then we won't want to produce negative results for ourselves, not just because we believe and we are scared it is going to produce something negative, but because we have seen it happen multiple times in our lives we have experienced it. We have gnosis of those consequences, and so we are not going to do it. You are not going to stick your hand in the fire if you know that the fire burns.
Questions and Answers
Question: I found it interesting when you were talking about the cycles that we repeat in as far as our defense mechanisms or past lives. So how does that, in this tradition, rectify with attachment theory? The big thing in psychology now is attachment theory: that a lot of your personality, all these defense mechanisms that you are talking about come from age zero to seven, things that have happened to you: how your parents dealt with you, whatever happened. How much of that is what you are dealing with now as an adult, compared to all the past lives and stuff, or is that an aggregation of all that?
Instructor: Attachment theory, for those who are unfamiliar, is that if we have stable attachment, a healthy safe environment in which we grow up, we experience relationships in a different way, and are much more easily able to have healthy relationships later on in life. If we have an unhealthy or unstable, dysfunctional family or environment as a child, it changes the way our brain is wired, and we have much more anxiety and fear and withdrawal and relationships later in life.
Those formative years, not just for attachment, but for all kinds of things in our personality, have a tremendous effect on us, and science has shown us this. How much of those formative years is causing the problems we have now in life versus past lives? And yes, you kind of answered your question. The formative years are the compressed aggregate of many previous lifetimes. So, the formative years is where we see not just lifetimes, you know, like, “Okay, my past ten lifetimes,” but very ancient lifetimes, things that go back to previous civilizations.
Things that happened not just as an individual, but as people, as a collective, are encoded into even the way that a fetus forms. If you have ever looked at a human fetus, you know, it goes through phases of evolution, almost looking like a lizard at certain points, and then becoming more human.
All of our biology, our DNA, our physical existence, is a code based on our spiritual existence. It is the physical manifestation of the internal existence. So, when we see early childhood traumas and pain like that, it is often from an ancient past of being caught in a cycle with that person's family, with those other souls or individuals that are in that family of harming one another. It is very sad.
But you bring up a good point. We shouldn't get too caught up with past lives right off the bat. It is actually more important in the beginning to look at your life and to look at previous experiences in this current lifetime: to just look at what you can observe. You don't want to get caught up in a fantasy of trying to imagine your past lives and then producing more delusion for yourselves. Really, focus in the beginning on just observing this lifetime and what I can remember from this lifetime, and sitting in meditation and allowing those memories to naturally come up spontaneously.
You may be sitting, meditating on something, and some seemingly unrelated memory pops up from when you were six years old in kindergarten, and then you are like, “How is that related? That doesn't make any sense.!” So then you can choose: “Okay, maybe I take a break and I'll meditate on that experience in kindergarten and try to comprehend what that was all about.” Then as you meditate on that, you may have an inspiration of, “Oh, now I see, it's not in the mind. It's in the consciousness!” This understanding. This comprehension is much deeper than an intellectual, “Oh, A plus B equals C.” It is a very deep knowledge, like I gave in my example of knowing, vividly, in the experience of seeing my past lives that they were real and that that had been me.
Even though I was in different bodies, I knew exactly which one was me, and that is something that is not an intellectual, “Oh, that must be me because she looks like such and such.” It is knowing. In the same way when a memory comes up and you sit with it, and you sink into it, you are praying for guidance from your inner divinity, that can come through. It might not happen in the meditation session. It might happen three hours later when you are washing the dishes. It suddenly clicks. This is the way it is. When our mind takes a break, consciousness can bring us results.
Question: You mentioned a tradition that correlates with the Buddhist tradition... What tradition was that?
Instructor: Vajrayana tradition: the most esoteric levels Buddhism. If you go into the essence of those scriptures, you see they are very similar to ours.
Buddhism, in general, has many sects, but in general, it has three levels of traditions. Shravakayana would be the lowest level, the most fundamental based on just the literal teachings of the Buddha. That is a very introductory level for people who are just coming into Buddhism. It is where they usually start.
Mahayana, known as the greater vehicle, has more of these mystical elements into it, and at the heart of Mahayana is the service, the sacrifice for others―trying to strive for a lifetime of becoming an enlightened being in order to help humanity, which is suffering so much. So we builds on that route of: life is suffering, and I want to escape my suffering by transcending that and going into, “I want to transcend my suffering because I want to help other beings transcend their suffering.”
Then Vajrayana, or sometimes called Tantrayana, from Tantra, is the highest level of the teaching, the most esoteric. It has traditionally been the most hidden, although in recent years, a lot of this has come to life because of the internet. It is about expedient methods in which to achieve that enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. So, it builds on the other two, and Tantrayana talks a lot about working with sexual energy and transmitting sexual energy. So that is the direct correlation with our tradition.
Another Instructor: The Dalai Lama, in relation to this topic of trauma, related an experience in which he interviewed a Buddhist monk, who was exiled from Tibet after the Chinese had invaded. He was put into prison for 18 years. He was abused and experienced many of the traumas and difficulties of that particular region. And to tie into this discussion of trauma, there was an interesting comment the man made to the Dalai Lama, who asked him, “What was your greatest danger when being in prison?” And the monk said, “Losing my compassion for the Chinese.” So a question we can reflect upon is: how does the force of compassion help to overcome trauma? (especially tying into this need to serve, to sacrifice for humanity and what that does for the individual psyche). As you said, if we are focusing on trauma, if we are focused on our pain, you don't really think about other people, but how is it that compassion unlocks, unties that Gordian knot of suffering?
Instructor: You remind me of another quote that is quite popular: “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and to realize that the prisoner is you.”
When we let go of our grudges against other people, even if we feel totally justified in them, and even if those people did very evil things, we free ourselves in a very deep way. It can't be expressed in words. It can only be experienced. If you have ever had a time where you were so angry at somebody and you held on to it for so long, and then finally, somehow, you were able to forgive them, the weight was lifted and you were able to perceive life, even that person, without so much pain. Then you have experienced it and you know it's true.
Compassion for others is a way of liberating ourselves from suffering. It works with this principle: sacrifice for others. When we do good things for others, we forgive others, so we can be forgiven. It puts into effect powerful causes that transcend previous causes.
But when we hold on to anger, when we hold onto pain, we are poisoning our ourselves. It is not pleasant to feel anger. As justified as we may be in being angry, it is suffering to feel that anger and it is freedom to feel good will towards other people, no matter what they have done to you, to keep your distance from people if you need to, absolutely.
Keep yourself safe. Don't stay in a situation where you are being abused, but with that prudence, to also be able to not let not let that pain linger with you―to do this type of work and go deep into healing the pain.
It doesn't happen overnight, but through that process we say that the law of karma, of action and consequence, is the second law. It is the law of nature, and there is a first law, a superior law which can transcend karma. So, all these bad actions we may have done, which we may be freaking out of like, “Oh man, I know I did bad things in this lifetime, who can imagine past lifetimes!” There is a much more powerful law that we can work with in order to create effects and causes that are even more powerful than those that can, in many cases, overcome the effects of those laws. They can't erase it, but they can be more powerful than the effects of those other actions. It is the law of sacrifice.
To do good things for others is a law. It is an intelligent law, is that divine law. It is a law that works with superior principles. The laws of nature are mechanical, karma. Karma has an intelligence, or I should say, it is managed intelligently, but it is like physics. It happens. You can believe whatever you want, and it is still going to happen to you, but sacrifice is a very special divine law.
Again, it is something that you can only truly experience the effects if you have done it, if you have given it a try. Like I said, going for a month and really sacrificing, then you experience for yourself, when you sit at the end of that month and you reflect back on it, you know from your experience the effects of that. You don't have to believe in it. Many times, we have in our imagination or in our fantasies, “Well, if I go do that, it's just going to be like this.” And we never actually do something. We just have our projection of the future, a projection of what a situation will be like.
Without having experienced it, we think we already know. We need to question our mind because the mind and the imagination are very powerful and condition us, producing the effects it wants us to do, but an action, actually, is much more powerful.
Question: So trauma, not properly addressed and not transformed, would you say that it would carry over into another life?
Instructor: Absolutely. Yeah, because trauma itself, even if it's something good that happens to us, can carry over to future lives. So good things that happen to us that we become very attached to, like having a loving relationship with a child, you know, even in a future lifetime again, we are going to find that same individual and whatever new relationship and have a strong attachment. So even good things, good attachments, which carry over to lifetime to lifetime, are still unconscious and mechanical.
We want free will, both from the traumas and the pains that have conditioned us to respond to people or certain people or certain situations, and in the same way, we want to separate from that and free ourselves and also from any kind of unconsciousness. It doesn't mean we stop doing good things or loving people or having kind relationships, but it means we have a conscious choice about it.
So trauma, as I mentioned before, is just a really powerful experience of gnosis that prevents us from denying suffering. But other experiences, good experiences, can have that same kind of un-transformed or un-digested impressions, that same effect on our structure of our psyche.
And even though the physical body doesn't carry on from lifetime to lifetime, what we call the astral body, which is made up of our emotions, or the mental body which is made up of, you know, more finer mental substances, they carry on from lifetime to lifetime in the form of the ego. It is a type of matter that is more protoplasmic, that is more malleable than physical matter, and it can exist outside of the physical world. That is why with astral projection, you can go outside of your physical body and you can still have experiences. You can still walk around and talk, but it's not with your physicality.
After death, those different aggregates of ourselves can move on lifetime to lifetime. What is important is that if we wake up, we can become very conscious of that experience, not just when we go to sleep, but also after death. We can have more power and more choice in our future lifetimes.
Also, we can become a different type of being in higher planes of reality, planes that are more ethereal or subtler planes of nature. They are just as real as the physical plane; in fact, in some way, very much more real, but we are not conscious of them because we are so asleep and so hypnotized by our physical nature.
We want to be aware of our physical nature, but also aware of these other aspects of ourselves. So this can be both higher aspects of our emotional and mental nature, but also lower aspects, because we have a lot of unconsciousness, subconsciousness, infraconsciousness trapped in negativity. And that, for us, is hell. If we are trapped in the negative states: anger, pride, greed, lust, etc., we are continually tortured by those desires and pulled in different ways from one minute to the next. It can be completely contradictory desires. This is a state of confusion and suffering.
Until we become conscious of it and liberate the consciousness out of that, then we can't really move fully up. We might have parts of ourselves that are up in higher states of consciousness and parts of ourselves trapped in lower states of consciousness, but generally speaking, for most of us, the majority of us are trapped in negativity and lower states of consciousness.
That is the work of meditation, not just with trauma, but with everything. It is to enter in meditation into the lower states of our mind, to perceive them not as real and “that is who I am,” but to perceive them as structures in our mind that project images, that project emotions, or fantasies, or plans for the future, and to just perceive it without becoming hypnotized and identified with it. We must comprehend it for what it is, to turn and look at what is the source of this fantasy that is playing, or this fear that is playing, and to be able to comprehend that source and eliminate it through the power of transmutation, which can give birth to something new.
Question: Based on the answer it sounds like as far as trauma goes… does the work to transform that energy, that experience prior to death so that you are not going into the next life with that baggage, so to speak. What would be the complete set of things that you need to be looking to do by death so that you are in the best space for the next life?
Instructor: Great work, that is, a truly deep work. We do as much as we can, as much as we have the willpower to do. But, it's these three things:
These are the three factors for the revolution of the consciousness.
So on a daily basis, doing good deeds, performing good actions, meditating on the unconscious parts of ourselves, whether seemingly positive, negative, or neutral, meditating on them and comprehending them―becoming awake and aware of what is controlling us beneath the surface.
Birth is working in transmutation to give birth to new elements in your consciousness and to eliminate those negative structures. Primarily, if we are not working with transmutation, we do not have very much of the substance which can destroy the roots of trauma and of karma. When I act in a certain way, I fuel energy into it, and a lot of times, even if this isn't a lustful situation, even if it's for example, pride or anger, that takes my creative energy, that takes my life force, the essence of who I am, and invests my energy into that.
That is being born in me as a living type of substance, a living entity, almost of itself, and that entity is anger, and that anger has a will of its own―a will to speak a certain way, to think a certain way, to act a certain way. And so, until I take that same force, draw it out of the anger―through comprehension and use my own life force to say, “I am eliminating this”―then nothing can be changed on a permanent level.
We might be able to do some superficial change, but to really achieve a deep and lasting change, we can't do that. And if you read the book, you'll see that that work with the sexual energy is the work with the Divine Mother.
I didn't want to get too much into it today, but we are working with the power of the Divine Mother, or the power of the Holy Spirit. The Third Logos is that power of creation and destruction, of birth and death. And so, that is the power we work with when we utilize that energy. Doing as much as we can before death will radically change us.
It is like an exponential curve. The more that you are able to do, then the more that you will be able to do. “If I do this much, then exponentially I'll be able to do that much more, and from that point, I'll be able to do so much more.” Karma really restricts us, and the more unconscious we are and the more karma we have weighing us down that hasn't been transformed, our actions become very limited by our circumstances, by the types of people around us, by our environment, etc. The more that we work with the little three percent of free will that we have to break that karma, to transform that karma, to work with sacrifice and conscious actions, then we get five percent free will. Then ten percent free will, and you know, exponentially the more free will you have, suddenly you have a lot more control over your situation.
We see people in the world who have way more freedom than many of us. We also see people in this world who have very difficult situations. You know, to have mental illness, for example, is a type of karma. It is a structure that conditions your ability to act and feel, and you know, there are medications and things we can do that can help, but the very conditioning of our psychology is a part of our matter, a part of our experience of life, and is formed by previous actions and karma.
Another Instructor: I would also say that the more we awaken our consciousness, physically and in the internal planes, the more prepared for death we are. In Buddhism, they teach to prepare for death by meditating daily on that inevitability, and by becoming more conscious and working on our traumas, those negative states of anger or pride, the more we will remember and be awake. Because for most people, especially in the West, who have never had any type of training, they don't remember where they came from―their past lives. So, as we were talking about the theory, or what people think is a theory, is not a theory for people who can experience that for themselves. The more we awaken, as we were saying, and the more freedom of perception, and then if we take another body, we will remember where we came from or the level of work we obtained, and in that way we have more opportunities to continue to go deeper and to resolve those traumas that trap us.
Instructor: The capacities of our consciousness are practically infinite, but we are not aware of that because we utilize the consciousness so very little, as compared to our intellect, or our physical body.
Question: There are so many versions of meditation and different physical ways of experiencing meditation or practicing meditation. Would you say that they are all innately trying to achieve the same thing or are they based on different types of practices that you do or trying to awaken a certain level of consciousness or area?
Instructor: That is a good question. Do all different forms and techniques of meditation produce the same results, or strive for the same results? No. I do believe that there are a variety of genuine meditation techniques that can, regardless of which one you work with, if you work with a diligently enough, it can help you along the way to achieve the awakening of consciousness, but much of that is determined upon your own conscious effort.
Even if you use the genuine meditation technique from a given tradition, that has helped lots of people to awaken, to become enlightened, if you are not active in consciousness, it is not going to work for you.
As the internet proliferates all kinds of things, there are some meditation techniques which could be harmful from a psychological perspective. Meditation techniques that say, “Okay, go and fantasize about your ideal life and really invest in that,” is not going to awaken your consciousness, but it is going to further hypnotize your consciousness, and could even inhibit your ability to see reality, or make you more dissatisfied with reality. We should be careful.
Also, different techniques produce different effects. So when I talked about pranayamas as an example, we have a variety of different pranayama techniques from different traditions. Many of which are genuine pranayama techniques, and each of which would achieve this transmutation of sexual energy, but also with slight variations. I believe that meditation is much the same way, you know. When I work with different mantras or different meditation techniques, I can achieve different results, but all of which if they are a good technique, awaken my consciousness. But perhaps one awakens my consciousness so that I am more aware of my heart and activate my heart and feel more compassion, whereas another awakens my consciousness and helps me to astral project. Or, another awakens, you know my ability to try to perceive a past life.
So we have hundreds or thousands of techniques in our tradition that you know, many of which also come from other traditions, religions around the world, all in the books. So, we are happy to refer you to books that have those practices if it's helpful.
Another Instructor: Another point too is that, as we are mentioning, in Buddhism, there are three schools, and every religion has its systems. In Buddhism, Shravakayana, the introductory level; Mahayana, the greater vehicle; and the most expedient Tantrayana.
So meditation, as taught within the introductory levels, are geared with a specific focus. They teach the beginning practitioner how to concentrate, work with ethics, upright action, upright thoughts, and feelings and deeds so that the mind becomes stable. If you think of the mind like a lake, if we keep throwing stones, negative thinking, impressions into the lake, it is going to be churning, unstable.
From that point of view, we can't address any trauma, because in order to see clearly, your mind has to be perfectly still. So in the introductory levels of Buddhism or any tradition, we teach ethics, karma, serenity. To develop a serene mind, the meditative practices of that tradition, or any introductory level, will teach you how to develop stability. As it was explained in the lecture, we have to balance our three brains and a brain in esoterism has to do with any type of machine that processes matter, energy, and consciousness.
Our intellect is not just the only brain, because we have many forms of intelligence in the heart and in sex. In fact our entire physiology is a marvelous machine that can transform energy, but if we don't use or balance those centers through ethics, upright thought, feeling, action, we can't really enter a state of meditation. We need to really go to the heart of our problems.
Once we have that type of serenity developed, then you can start to develop more compassion for others, because you see that other people, who don't have that training, are in tremendous suffering and affliction. That is the Mahayana level, the middle ground, the greater vehicle, and the meditations taught in that tradition are more profound and demand a type of diligence and foundation.
So in all the meditations, they lead towards the highest stages, in which we are meditating not just for ourselves, but for humanity. That is when we can do practices like Tantra, or as we say in this tradition, the perfect matrimony: to utilize energy in the highest way, to transform not only yourself, but others, and that is what we are leaning towards.
It is important that when we approached meditation, we, in our tradition, have many practices. Work with where we are at and, in most case,s we have to start at the very bottom. Because if you sit to reflect on your mind, you can see that it is difficult to concentrate, or we have no serenity in the beginning. So in our school, we teach all three levels of Buddhism at once, because students are at different levels and have different needs. If you look at other traditions, you may find some schools will only focus on the basics. Some very high, but the problem becomes not having a practical foundation in the steps, because they help to build off one another.
Instructor: A great explanation, because everybody wants to jump right to Tantra, and right to the most advanced practices, like “Oh, I want to get out of my body and speak to the Lord of Karma, Anubis or whatever the case may be,” but if we don't have the ability to relax physically, emotionally, and mentally, to separate our consciousness from it, to awaken our consciousness from those three brains, and to have concentration, to maintain our attention and our awareness on the object of our meditation, then we're not able to even work with those more advanced techniques. We are going to try them, and they are not going to work, or if they do work by chance, it could end up being a harmful situation.
So really establishing ourselves in the basics allows us to then gradually work our way up to those more advanced practices. Like the example I gave about going deeper and deeper and deeper in meditation, and finally into, you know, a past life experience―that was built on months and years of really working with meditation and basics, working with concentration and relaxation. If you stay for the optional meditation after this lecture, you will be able to try out a basic technique with us in which we're going to meditate exactly on balancing those three brains and working with relaxation and concentration.
Another Instructor: Maybe to finish on how the magic of the roses work, because I know especially in North America and the West, when we hear of magic, we think of right circus tricks, or all sorts of people who perform illusions. But how do roses or the magic, the soul of the plant, go with the practice?
With that practice, in our tradition, we use a lot of exercises that work with nature. Magic, in its true sense, is how we as a consciousness can communicate with divinity and interact with the soul of nature. All the vegetable kingdom, the mineral kingdom, the animal kingdom, has this type of soul, in different gradations of complexity. So, minerals are obviously very simple. Plants more involved. They process and channel energy in nature. Animals, of course, are more developed. They are collectively developing a type of will, which is different than plants, until finally we have humanoids, or the intellectual animal. The human being, the soul, anima, with intellect.
We work with plants primarily because the souls of those types of creatures have power. We learn to work and communicate to command the souls of plants to help, because every plant and nature has its type of properties, which can heal. It can perform medicine. We know this very extensively from indigenous cultures, which still retain a type of wisdom that our modern orthodoxy and medicine does not support.
The rose is a very elevated plant. It is the queen of flowers. If you know astrology, each plant relates to different planets, because each plant channels the forces of the cosmos. It transmits. So, as you see that the human being is a machine that transmits forces, likewise, minerals, plants, animals. That is why you have such diversity in nature, because each living entity channels force.
It is interesting that the rose is especially powerful for healing the heart. Even conventionally, we may give roses to our loved ones in order to show love, especially, romantic love, because the rose, we know instinctually, has a marvelous presence. Even within the internal planes, the soul of that plant is very elevated. We can command the soul of the rose to work with the divided hierarchies of the angels, related to the planet Venus, the star of love, to invoke that intelligence, bring it to our home and deposit medicine within the glasses.
So you notice that you have a glass facing the East; you drink this before breakfast; the glass towards the North, before lunch; then the glass towards the West, before dinner. That sequence parallels the trajectory of the Sun, and we know that Venus is the star of the dawn. It channels the forces of the divinity we call Christ, which is a force, particularized in any person who is prepared.
So, you pray to your inner Being, “My God, my Divine Mother, command the elemental of the rose to work and deposit healing within these glasses,” by invoking the angels of that force, that bring the particular influence of love, so that we can heal trauma―to at least gain stability to the point that we can meditate further. And you drink in that sequence. Very simple. Healing is very simple. Prayer, relaxation, concentration, faith. Not belief.
We have experiences we know, if you awaken in the dream state, you can personally converse with the elementals of nature. Personally, I have been in the habit over the years to meditate on certain elementals, the plants that I have in my home, in which I have been able to communicate with those entities, those beings who are still in Eden. They are innocent. They haven't entered into all the complex problems that we have in the humanoid kingdom through the process of evolution. So they are very simple. They are like angels, but in a very small degree.
You can pray and with faith, you have the experience. You know that these elements exist and that the rose can heal pain. Personally, I have used the roses when I have had traumas, in certain betrayals and conflicts that I could not reconcile, and by working with the glasses, you drink, over a sequence of a few days. When the roses wither, you can remove them. Then your pain is alleviated, at least at the surface, to the point that we have enough stability where we can meditate and then look at the problem, because in the moment when we are afflicted, we can't think. You can't concentrate.
Those elementals or souls of nature are very powerful. They work and obey divinity. The rose is, of course, held in very high regard in certain traditions, such as the Rosicrucians, the first Gnostics, the Rosicrucian Gnostic Church. The rose is a symbol of the transformation of the soul into the beauty of God. Of course, the rose is very effective for that. You can work with it however much you need.
It’s simple. Pray, relax, and concentrate. You drink it like medicine. The good thing is that there are no side effects. Of course, some people in this day and age have traumas and illnesses in the mind, of the heart, that, because that karma is crystallized in the body, some people need to take a drug to be able to find balance. But the wonderful property of this practice is that there are no side effects. Water. Roses. Magic. Because those substances that divinity places are not physical. They are etheric, astral, mental, spiritual, internal.
In conjunction with whatever people may have to do to find balance, whether it be medication and therapy, the roses are exceptional. Simple, but profound. That ritual is as effective as your prayer. Prayer is something simple. You don't need formulas when you talk to your inner divinity. You say, “My Father, my God, help me!” Use your words and just ask for that healing and experiment. That practice is of course effective when we are working in transmutation. Work with your creative energy, because your prayer will be empowered when you use that force, and that way it opens the doorway into the internal planes.
This is a transcription of an audio lecture from The Secret Path of Initiation, originally given live at the Gnostic Academy of Chicago.
"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
On the illusory nature of whatever appears,
How can we ever apply the opponent forces?
How can we overcome negativities
Merely by trying to avoid them?
By recognizing their illusory nature,
Liberation arises of itself.” ―Treatise on the Six Yogas of Niguma
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.
2. 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.
3. If someone insults us, then we feel anger. This anger is a reaction to the words of the insulter.
4. A pornographic image offends our external senses. The mind then reacts as the lake in the given example, with waves of animal passion that extend from the center to the periphery.
5. We must subdue the senses and command the mind with the mighty whip of willpower.
6. Our mind lives reacting against the impacts of the exterior world.
7. The incessant reactions of the mind deliver pleasure and pain to us.
8. Likes and dislikes are nothing more than the result of the reactions of the subjective mind.
9. It is necessary to control these reactions of the subjective mind in order to pass beyond pleasure and pain.
10. We must become serene and indifferent before praise and slander and before triumph and failure.
11. 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.
12. A clairvoyant examination permits us to comprehend that the reactions of the mind come from a nuclear center.
13. This nuclear center of the subjective mind is the Guardian of the Threshold of the mind.
14. The Guardian of the Threshold of the mind is similar to the smoke of the flame.
15. 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.
16. We have created this guardian on our own, with all the evil of our subjective mind.
17. There is the need to carefully separate the smoke from the flames.
18. It is urgent to deprive ourselves of the Guardian of the Threshold of the mind in order to become liberated from our animal past.
19. After opening his igneous wings, the arhat must now pass the ordeal of the Guardian of the Threshold of the mental world.
20. Have courage, oh warrior, oh fighter. This is a supreme moment.
21. Take your igneous sword from its sheath and thrust yourself intrepidly towards the Guardian of the Threshold of the mind.
22. Now you will be free. Now your mind will be under the complete control of the Innermost.
23. When you were longing to be a Chela, you then passed the first ordeal of the Guardian of the Threshold. Now you face the ordeal of the great worldly Guardian of the Threshold.
24. Now you, as a master, have to encounter the Guardian of the mind. Defeat him, and your mind will be free from the external senses.
25. The external wings are opened within the blazing fire of the mind. The tenebrous ones of the world of the mind attack you within the blazing flames. Defeat them, oh arhat!
26. Control your mind with the whip of willpower.
27. When the mind pursues you with perverse representations of hatred or passion, envy or selfishness, etc., speak to the mind as follows:
28. “Mental body, I do not accept this representation. Take it away from me. I do not accept this from you. You must obey me, because I am your lord.”
29. The Innermost can control the mind, but only by means of willpower. There is no other way.
30. Let us affirm our Being.
31. “I am not the body. I am not desire. I am not the mind. I am not the willpower. I am not the consciousness. I am not the intelligence.
32. “I am the Innermost.
33. “I will break all the chains of the world. I am the living God. I am the Being. I am life. I am the bread of life. I am the wine.”
34. When we affirm the majesty of the Being, the igneous roses of our objective mind glow within the blazing universal fire.
35. When the Guardian of the Threshold of the mind is defeated and flees, the three enigmas of time are broken. Our mind then sparkles with the flames within the great rhythms of the fire. —Samael Aun Weor, Igneous Rose
The Gnostic Academy of Chicago
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