This is a transcription of an audio lecture from Introduction to Gnostic Studies, originally given live at the Gnostic Academy of Chicago.
The title of this lecture is “The Multiplicity of Self,” and truly today we are going to be talking about courage, because to seek true and profound self-knowledge, to face the complicated and frightening multiplicity within our own psyche, requires tremendous courage.
In this image we see the Greek hero Perseus holding the severed head of the Medusa, the Gorgon, the monster. And on the Medusa's head, her hair was turned into hundreds of little serpents, representing, psychologically speaking, the multiplicity within our own psyche. Terrifying, Medusa had the power to turn anyone who looked at her to stone, to petrify them, to make them unable to change or to grow, to kill them.
It could be frightening to see things within ourselves that terrify us, things that we would prefer to ignore, to pretend are not within ourselves. But as we seek on the Gnostic path, to reach our highest potential, we must become Heroes like Perseus, not necessarily heroes in the outside world braving all kinds of terrors or tremendous difficulties, but first, heroes within ourselves: to plunge into the depths of ourselves, to not be frightened of facing the reality of our situation, psychologically speaking.
Our Psychological Situation
When we think about our spiritual situation, we can imagine a scenario like this. Imagine that you are in a dark jungle, so black that you cannot see anything, and perhaps you hear frightening noises around you. But because you cannot see, because you do not know where you are, because you have amnesia and have forgotten who you are or how you arrived in this state, you begin to dream. Feeling helpless and feeling terrified, you begin to fantasize. Perhaps imagine that you are somewhere safe. Imagine an identity for yourself, one that is strong or glorious. Imagine a life that is very happy. And although, all the while while you are dreaming this dream, in reality you are sitting in the dark jungle with any terror that could come up and devour you in any moment. You cling to your dreams and your fantasies as the reality, because it would be too terrifying to look at the truth of your situation: to feel helpless, to have no idea how to get out of the jungle, to have no idea who you truly are or how you arrived in this state.
So this is a metaphor for our spiritual situation. Spiritually speaking, we know very little of our true self. We know very little of how we arrived in this current situation that we are in or where we are going, and perhaps, spiritually speaking, we are not going anywhere. If we are blind, if we have lost our connection to our inner divinity, how do we find our way out? That is why we need the courage to open our eyes, to pray, to seek answers. To be guided by our inner divinity out of our current situation, we must first see our reality, our spiritual reality.
Dreams vs. Reality
There is a quote by Gurdjieff I am going to read for you. He says:
“Man's possibilities are very great. You cannot even conceive a shadow of what man is capable of attaining. But nothing can be attained in sleep. In the consciousness of a sleeping man, his Illusions, his 'dreams' are mixed with reality. He lives in a subjective world and he can never escape from it. And this is the reason why he can never make use of all the powers he possesses and why he lives in only a small part of himself." ―G.I. Gurdjieff
We are asleep. We go about our days in a subjective world, subjective, meaning it does not have an objective truth, but rather is a production of our own perspective. And as we talked about in the previous lectures of this course, our perspective can be very flawed at times.
Let's say, for example, that you are at a work meeting, and your boss seems grumpy and makes a comment to you. You feel very certain that your boss is angry at you. So you spend the rest of your day avoiding your boss, hiding from him, or if you have to talk to him, trying to be very careful to make him like you, to make him think that you are doing a great job, and let's say that the next day you hear from a co-worker that, truly, your boss was angry because some other misfortune happened. He recently lost a relative. Someone he cared about died. And so you had spent the entire day in a fantasy, in a dream, terrified or stressed out doing all these actions to avoid your boss, to avoid that anger that you believed was there, when all the while it was a fantasy in your own head, a misperception of reality.
In this example, we can see many times, in many ways in our lives, sometimes our dreams are mixed with our reality because of our subjective state of perception. They can also have a more positive slant to them. Perhaps you are trying to be friends with a new group of people, and every time you are around them, you think that they like you. You are making all these great jokes and you are in your own mind really impressing these people. And then later on, you find out from one of them that the whole time they were very annoyed with you, that they were making fun of you behind your back. What kind of pain does that cause for us when we have dreamed and believed that reality is a certain way but when the facts are actually otherwise?
And that is why, as painful as it may be, to break through the defense mechanism of our fantasy and to see our blind and helpless spiritual state, it is essential. It is crucial that we begin to work towards that, because when we awaken, as Gurdjieff says, our possibilities are very great. If we saw reality as it truly was and if we knew ourselves as we truly are, if we became aware of the wealth that is sleeping inside of us, inside of our consciousness, and we activated that, we would not even be able to conceive, currently, a shadow of what we would be capable of attaining. As as Gurdjieff says, because we are asleep, we can never make use of all the power we truly possess in our soul. We live only in a small part of ourselves.
Mechanicity and True Action
So we have to ask ourselves, if we are so asleep all the time, and we are going about our day according to fantasies or misperceptions of reality that we believe to be true, but that really have very little to do with our actual situation, what kind of willpower do we have?
This is a great philosophical debate. Do we have free will or is everything predetermined? Is everything destined to happen a certain way, or do we have a choice in things?
Gurdjieff often talked of man as a machine, saying that the sleeping man, the man who is like all of us in our sleeping conscious state, is like a machine―that someone pushes the right button and you react without any freedom, without any control to change your reaction. Perhaps a sibling or an enemy taunts you in a certain way, criticizes a defect that you are very sensitive about, and you react instantaneously with anger or with embarrassment, and you have no conscious control over that. But even greater is our situation that many larger external forces, economic pressures, politics, our jobs or education, all kinds of external situations become the larger mechanism within which we are trapped without the freedom to do anything more than react to our external circumstances.
And so Gurdjieff describes this state talking about our lack of will, true free will. He says:
“Will is a sign of a being of a very high order of existence as compared with the being of an ordinary man. Only men who are in possession of such a being can do.” ―Gurdjieff, Views from the Real World
And by do, Gurdjieff means have a true independent action, an action that is of our own will and not merely reactionary to other forces and pressures. Gurdjieff continues:
“All other men are merely automata, put into action by external forces like machines or clockwork toys, acting as much and as long as the wound-up spring within them acts, and not capable of adding anything to its force.” ―Gurdjieff, Views from the Real World
So as I mentioned, these external forces can be pressures in our world, can be the people in our lives, can be our worldly situation. But further than that, we also have many forces that move us from within our own psyche, over which we have no control.
We can think of our psychological state as a multiplicity. A very basic and perhaps silly example is how many of us wish that we could be healthier, that we could be in shape. And we think that we will have a healthier diet and so we begin to maybe starve ourselves. We are only going to eat celery sticks, just a celery stick fast, and a couple hours later, or maybe if we have a lot of willpower, a few days later, we suddenly become starving. We see a chocolate cake or some really delicious food that is our favorite food, and we begin to gorge ourselves on that. And so while in one moment, we had the will, the desire, the sense of self that wanted to be skinnier or healthier. In the next moment we are possessed by a sense of self that is gluttonous, that desires the sensations of those tastes, those foods.
So which one is really us? Are we the self that wants to be healthy, or are we the self that wants to enjoy life and eat delicious foods? Are we the self that wants to go work out at the gym and become stronger? Or are we the self that likes to relax on the couch and watch TV all day?
If we see both of those desires within ourselves pulling us―one moment is one, the next moment is the opposite, the next moment it is some other drive―how do we know who is our true self from moment to moment?
As we slumber and shift ever between these states, between these different urges, we have the illusion of continuity. We have the illusion that there is one self always present there, when in reality, one moment we are so hungry and we are trying to get up so that we can go to the kitchen and prepare ourselves some food. But then in the next moment we are too tired. We just want to continue to lay in bed and not do anything.
So which one is the true self? How do we know what is our true will?
The founder of the Gnostic movement, Samael Aun Weor, wrote about this state of our existence. He said:
“Many thousands of different individuals, different persons, “I’s,” or people who quarrel amongst themselves, who fight amongst themselves for supremacy and who do not have order or concordance whatsoever, exist within each one of us.” ―Samael Aun Weor, Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology
So that is like the examples that I was just giving. There is “I” who is hungry. There is an “I” who wants to go on a diet. There is “I” who is tired. There is “I” who wants to exercise. There are all these different identities within ourselves, but they don't have an order. They don't have a structure or a concordance with one another. They are chaotic. They are constantly battling for control of our human machine, our mind, our heart, our body.
So it becomes very hard for us to move in a defined direction, to have a true individual, continuous will, because we are constantly being divided by many, many, many wills within ourselves.
Samael Aun Weor continued:
“If we were conscious, if we were to awaken from so many dreams and fantasies, how different life would be...” ―Samael Aun Weor, Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology
So as Gurdjieff was talking about how our dreams are mixed with reality, and because our consciousness is asleep, we believe that we are perceiving reality. Let's say that you have a dream. You are asleep at night and you are dreaming that you are being pursued by a huge ferocious tiger. And in this dream you are seeking to escape. You are running. You are looking for a tree that you can climb to get away from this tiger. But in the next instant, you wake up, and you realize you are safe in your bed and the entire time it was a dream.
Well, what about that example from earlier about your boss being mad at you and you are running, and you are running away from your boss, but then the next day when you find out the truth, that your boss isn't mad at you? You wake up in your bed and you realize the whole thing was a dream. You were so frightened. You were so worried. But here you are just fine. There is no threat.
If we were conscious, if we perceived what in us is a dream, our life would be very different, because in reality there are true threats to our spiritual development, true threats that can cause us to become petrified, turned to stone, and unable to grow and develop spiritually. We cannot perceive them as long as we are living in a fantasy.
“Nonetheless, as if our misfortune was not enough, negative emotions, self-love and self-esteem fascinate us, hypnotize us, never allowing us to remember ourselves, to see ourselves exactly the way we are...” ―Samael Aun Weor, Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology
We have a skewed perception. We talked about it in previous lectures that we become very egotistical, very egocentric―possessed by our self esteem, our self love, our sense of anger, our sense of pride, our lust, our greed, our vanity―and because of that we are pulled all the time as if by our own psychological strings.
We do not have control over ourselves. We may swear in one moment that we love someone. We love our spouse, and in the next moment our spouse does something to make us angry and we hate them. We become cold towards them. We begin to push them away or to treat them cruelly. We have no power there to continue to love our spouse. Which one is the true self, the love or the anger?
That is why we have a tragic situation. We cannot remember ourselves. We cannot see ourselves as we truly are, because in each moment, we are possessed by negative emotions that separate us from the true and innate happiness of the consciousness.
We need an individual will. We need the will of our inner divinity, our true will. Not the will of these temporary and transient egotistical desires. But so long as we believe that we already have an individual will, we cannot access and become aware of the will of our inner divinity.
The will that speaks and expresses itself to us through our conscience, which many of us have silenced through years of ignorance. Samael Aun Weor also talks about this situation. He says:
“We believe that we have one will, when in reality we possess many different wills. Each “I” has its own will. The tragic comedy of all this interior multiplicity is dreadful. The different internal wills clash against each other, they live in continuous conflict, and they act in different directions. If we had true individuality, if we were a unity instead of a multiplicity, then we would also have continuity of purpose, awakened consciousness, a particular, individual will.” ―Samael Aun Weor, Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology
We know of situations where perhaps we or someone else has worked for years to attain a certain job. They spent lots of money. They spent years studying, getting education, getting training. They worked very hard to fit the role of this job that they sought, and finally, perhaps they are successful and they get this career. And then a few months or a few years later, they are unhappy. They realize this isn't what they want to be doing. They want to be doing something else, and that is an example of this tragic comedy that is ridiculous and absurd: how we are pulled so strongly in one direction only to realize that that was a false self, a false desire.
We thought having this certain job would make us happy, only to realize, tragically, that we are still unhappy, that that was not actually the happiness that we were seeking. We think that when we have a nicer car than our neighbor, whom we envy, that then we will be happy. We get the car and then our other neighbor gets a nicer car than us and we are miserable. Our pride is wounded. Our envy is inflamed.
So we see that in all these dreams and fantasies that we chase in the external world, we never truly find contentment that we are seeking, and in fact, often only cause ourselves more suffering. But if we awoke our consciousness, our inner connection to divinity, and we followed the will of our inner divinity, then we would have true purpose, true volition, and true happiness that cannot be taken away, no matter what our external situation maybe.
We are going to do an exercise because it's very important that we become aware of this within ourselves. I have been giving many different examples of that multiplicity, and perhaps some of them might resonate, but to truly psychologically observe this within ourselves is very important, because we need to first of all have the courage to face ourselves and to face our psychological situation. Furthermore, use that courage and use that sincerity with ourselves as a weapon to gain more and more self-knowledge.
As Gurdjieff says in the following quote:
“Try to understand that what you usually call “I” is not I; there are many “I’s” and each “I” has a different wish. Try to verify this. You wish to change, but which part of you has this wish? Many parts of you want many things, but only one part is real. It will be very useful for you to try to be sincere with yourself. Sincerity is the key which will open the door through which you will see your separate parts, and you will see something quite new. You must go on trying to be sincere. Each day you put on a mask, and you must take it off little by little.” ―Gurdjieff, Views from the Real World
What we want is to see directly in our own experience of life what is new, to comprehend things in ourselves that we had previously been blind to. We have many fantasies about ourselves: fantasies about our life, fantasies about other people in the world that we cling to, that we repeat. We think the same thoughts. We feel the same emotions. We have the same habits day after day after day. But when we awaken consciousness, we begin to perceive ourselves and reality in a new way, and that requires a lot of courage and a lot of sincerity.
So in this exercise, we are going to use a technique of meditative self-observation that we learned about in previous lectures. It's going to be a little bit challenging and uncomfortable. But using our willpower, we are going to set this task for ourselves to be truly sincere and to see within ourselves something new.
So go ahead and close your eyes. And for a few minutes, we will enter into a meditative state. First, we will become aware of our physical center, the sexual-motor-instinctive brain, becoming aware of our physical body, relaxing and breathing deeply, noticing any physical sensations in our body, becoming aware of that, becoming conscious―concentrating, awake, alert, but relaxed.
Next, we will become aware of our emotional state, becoming aware of how we feel in this moment, whether it is positive, negative, or neutral―not judging it, just becoming aware.
And then moving into our intellectual center, becoming aware of our thoughts, becoming aware of any thoughts that are passing through our mind―not trying to change them, but just noticing them―breathing deeply, relaxing with each inhalation, and letting out any stress with each exhalation―beginning to enter into a relaxed and concentrated state, maintaining the alertness and the concentration of our consciousness.
Now we set a wish for ourselves, using our willpower, to recall one of the most painful moments of our lives, and as this memory comes into our concentration. We become aware of our heart, our emotions. We become aware of our body, our physical reactions. Become aware of our mind and our thoughts.
You may notice as you try to focus on something that is uncomfortable and painful, try to look at a painful corner of yourself, but there are many other wills that arise that resists it, that dislike it, that try to pull your concentration away, because we do not like to look at ourselves, to face our suffering. But this is necessary, if we can begin take a deep breath, to relax again, to let the memory go and to come back to this moment.
So hopefully in that exercise you observe something within yourself, a division of wills: that when you set an intention to truly look at yourself, other wills arose that did not want to look, that were afraid, that were angry, that were hurt, that wanted to distract themselves or avoid facing reality. But as Gurdjieff says:
“Sincerity is the key which will open the door through which you will see your separate parts, and you will see something quite new.” ―Gurdjieff, Views from the Real World
We cannot be afraid of ourselves, even the most painful things that we carry within us. We must be sincere each day. As our sincerity, our willpower, our courage, is the key to overcoming the multiplicity within ourselves.
Christianity and the Multiplicity of Self
I am going to talk in the second part of this lecture now about different scriptural examples that encode this psychological teaching for us.
But we can see that his esoteric teaching has been present in traditions around the world for many hundreds of years, or thousands of years. In the Bible, there is a story of a madman who wandered around the tombs. And if we look at this as a metaphor for our own situation with all of our fantasies, with all of our ideas about ourselves and our delusions about our lives, we are the madman who is wandering around the tombs, because spiritually we are dead. Spiritually, we do not have life.
In the Bible, in the Book of Mark, we see here that Jesus went to this madman who is possessed by many demons and the madman said to Jesus, "What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God?"
When our conscience speaks to us, when our inner divinity comes to us, to show us the reality of our situation, to guide us, to show us what is, what is wrong, what we must do to awaken to overcome ourselves, do we accept that guidance? Or do we turn back to our delusions and say to God, “What have I to do with thee? What have I to do with my own inner Spirit?” If all of my time is invested in my worldly fantasies, in my idea of myself, my pride, my selfishness, my gluttony, my lust, my greed, my envy―what have I to do with God or with the Christ if that is my choice? To live in a fantasy and to avoid my spiritual reality? But Jesus, representing here the Cosmic Christ, the force of universal compassion and wisdom, says to the man before he heals him:
Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?”
And he replied, “My name is Legion: for we are many.” ―Mark 5:9
The many that exist within this man, this madman who lives among the tombs, who represents us, is a multiplicity of false wills, sometimes demonic wills, animal wills, selfish, egotistical wills that have in their intention to harm others for our own benefit. They are false wills. They are a sense of self that we believe in a given moment is true―“Is who I am” in this moment, because “I feel angry. This is my true will and I will hurt the ones I love to avenge my anger”―when a little while later, we feel remorse. We realize that we were controlled in those moments by the demon of our anger, and that it was not truly the will of our soul. But now having hurt the ones we love we, must live with the consequences of having been possessed by a false “I,” a false self.
But as we see in this chapter of the Bible, Jesus has the power to heal this man of his demons, and he cast them out and cast them into pigs, which run into the waters and then drown. This is a deep esoteric symbol. We can simply say that when we turn to our own inner divinity, or own connection with a force of universal love and compassion, the Christ, and we asked to be healed, that we can overcome the multiplicity of ourselves.
But that takes the sincerity of realizing that, as we currently are, we are possessed by many demonic wills. We lack true individuality
Gurdjieff has another quote that has to do with breaking through this mechanicity, this defense mechanism, this multiplicity. He writes:
“All religions speak about death during this life on earth. Death must come before rebirth. But what must die? False confidence in one’s own knowledge, self-love and egoism. Our egoism must be broken.” ―Gurdjieff, Views from the Real World
That egoism that I was just describing, a sense of self that has nothing to do with divinity, that has nothing to do with our Spirit or our soul, that is false. That is multiple. That is divided. That believes that our anger is real, that our lust is real, that our envy is real, that our pride is real, and will even fight to the death to defend a sense of self that has no permanence, that has no continuity, that is here one moment and gone the next. This egoism must be broken, and can be broken by our sincerity, and by working with the force of Christ.
“We must realize that we are very complicated machines, and so this process of breaking is bound to be a long and difficult task. Before real growth becomes possible, our personality must die.” ―Gurdjieff, Views from the Real World
If we want the growth of the soul, we have to invest energy into our soul. And if all of our energy is poured into a thousand different directions that have nothing to do with the growth of our soul, we will remain stagnant. We will remain fueling a false identity, a false personality.
In order for our soul to be born again, for us to be reborn, our false self must die. This is something we have touched on in the previous lectures, which ties into this topic today as well.
War in the Bhagavad-Gita
It is another example from the Hindu tradition, in the scripture of the Bhagavad-Gita, Krishna, who is a representation of Christ, the Hindu Christ, comes to the battlefield to help the hero of the story, Arjuna. Arjuna is a representation of our own human soul, the true willpower of our soul.
In this battle, Arjuna ask Krishna to pull his chariot in between the two armies, the army with whom he fights and the army whom he fights against. He looks on both sides of the battlefield and he sees, on both sides, people who were once or currently are his friends, his relatives, his children, his grandparents, his brother-in-laws. He sees his beloved friends and relatives, and he loses heart. He loses courage. He loses his strength, and he says to Krishna, "I cannot fight. It would be better for me to die than to kill these people whom I love. How can you ask me to fight this war?"
Now this is a psychological symbol for our situation. As we look on our spiritual battle field, at the army against whom we fight, the legion within our psychology, we see many beloved friends and relatives, psychologically speaking, that we are very attached to: our pride, that we are very attached to our gluttony or greed or envy or lust, our desires for the future, our desires for fame or for wealth or for a certain partner, certain security. We are so attached to them that we say, “I don't want to fight this spiritual battle. I want to continue on with the flow, even if it costs me the death of my soul. I don't have the strength to fight.”
But what does our inner Christ say in this beautiful scripture? Krishna gives Arjuna the teaching of Atman, the true Spirit, the inner-self that is not attached to fame or to disgrace, to gain or to loss. It is not attached to heat or cold, to happiness or sadness. The Spirit has eternal wisdom and love and a contentment that is beyond temporary pleasures of the world. Through this teaching, Arjuna gains direct knowledge of non-attachment and gains the strength and the courage to go to battle against his enemies, which as I stated earlier, psychologically speaking, are elements within ourselves that we are too attached to―that we believe are our cherished darlings, our family, our loved ones, but that ultimately come to steal from us the kingdom, the kingdom of our soul, our spiritual inheritance. They come to take away our lifetime, to take away our energy and our willpower so that we cannot fight for our soul, for our spiritual development, and fight according to the will of our inner God.
Perseus and Medusa: The Essence Battles the Ego
Finally, we will return to the Greek mysteries, the myth that we began, the myth of Perseus and Medusa. So the Medusa, a Gorgon, was once a very beautiful woman, so beautiful that she became very vain and proud and egotistical, and as a result, incurred the wrath of the goddess and was turned into a hideous monster with hair full of serpents.
These many serpents represent the same symbol as the poisonous serpents in the desert that bit the Israelites, the many different desires within ourselves that bite us, that poison us, that causes us, spiritually, to become weak and to die, because they divide us from our true self, from our true inner divinity.
In order to protect the virtue of his mother from a lustful king, Perseus goes and fights to bring back the head of the Medusa. Medusa with her stare petrifies anyone who looks upon her. Many warriors have gone to fight her, and in looking upon her horrible, terrifying face, have been turned to stone and have perished.
Spiritually speaking, when we look at ourselves, we must not get identified. We must not get attached. We must look at ourselves with serenity with courage, look at ourselves from the perspective of our inner divinity who is not attached to any outcome, but can see reality as it truly is. So in order for Perseus to defeat Medusa, he is given by Athena a polished shield, a shield which allows him to see the reflection of Medusa and to kill her without looking directly upon her.
Symbolically, this represents our need to enter into a meditative state in which we are not identified, but can reflect on ourselves from a higher perspective. We can destroy our enemy, because when we sit to meditate, we can separate from egotistical desires and enter into communion with our inner divinity, which gives us strength to see reality. But as stated in the earlier example, when we are fused with a given desire, when in that moment we become so identified with our anger that we do horrible things, say horrible things to the ones that we love, then we are defeated. We are spiritually killed by our inner enemy, and that is why we need that separation: the polished shields of our own self-reflection.
As he cut off the head of the Gorgon, Perseus was given an adamantine sword by Zeus. Zeus was his father, because Perseus, like us, is half God, half mortal. Within us we have our soul, our Essence, the seed of a soul which is given to us by the Spirit, our spiritual identity, our inner divinity. But also within us, we have many mortal elements given to us by Mother Nature, our physical body and internal bodies and vehicles that were given to us by nature. And so we must work with the sword of willpower, which represents the willpower given to us by our inner Spirit, of our spiritual nature, to cut off the head of the beast, our psychological enemies.
Now after Perseus kills Medusa, he must put on the helm of Hades. Hades is the king, the lord of the underworld, and this helm of darkness allows Perseus to hide from the other enemies that come, the other Gorgons that come to destroy him when they find out that he has killed their sister. This represents the facing of ourselves and cutting off the head of Medusa is just the beginning of our battle, but what we have to use to protect ourselves for the further battles after that is the helm of darkness. Because when we have faced the darkness within ourselves, we received the gift of Hades, the gift of the lord of the underworld, that we can use to protect ourselves, because we know when we face the worst in ourselves, we have the courage and the ability to fight and conquer other forms of evil.
So to summarize everything that we talked about here, we can look at what these symbols represent. When we are first courageous enough to admit that we have a multiplicity of wills and that we do not know our true individual will, the will of our inner God, when we become serious about our spiritual work in developing our soul, rather than chasing after many false fantasies and false desires that change moment by moment, that at the end of our life have brought us nothing, we instead face ourselves and we become serious about wanting to develop our soul.
We can use a method for self-transformation, that just as Perseus used the shield, we must have non-identified self-observation. This comes from self-observing ourselves throughout the day, as we talked about in the previous lectures, but also through meditation. Through developing our connection with our inner divinity, that can strengthen us to see what is our true self. Because when we know our true self, we are not so easily fooled by the multiplicity of false selves within our psyche.
At the end of each day, we retrospect. We perform a meditation in which we observe which elements were active throughout our day, so we can begin at the beginning of our day and replay it in our mind with non-identification, or we can start at the end of our day just before we sit to meditate, and replay the day backwards. But either way, observing how many multiple wills pulled us in different directions, how from one moment to the next our will was not continuous, and analyzing from an unidentified position, we question: what is the truth of those desires? If I pursue this anger, if I go and I take my vengeance and act on this anger, what will the outcome be? Will it bring me happiness? Will it bring me peace? In the long run, will it develop my soul? Or is it just an illusion? Is it a false desire? A false self that I must separate from.
The same is true with pride, with envy, and lust, gluttony, laziness. If we act on these defects, what will the outcome be? Will the outcome be spiritual growth? Will it be self-knowledge and wisdom? Universal compassion? Will the outcome be that true happiness of the soul?
Or will those only bring us temporary pleasures, that when we reach the end of life, will be lost?
For that type of meditation, we need sincerity. We need to be very sincere with ourselves and not allow our self-deception to fool us into wasting much time and energy chasing after fantasies, delusions that won't get us anywhere. And all of this work takes tremendous willpower. For that willpower, we need to conserve our energy, to be living ethically, to be honest with ourselves, to be honest with others, to be living in an upright way, to be acting according to what we know in our conscience to be right. Through those ethics we can conserve enough energy to have the willpower to observe ourselves day after day, to meditate and to truly seek the awakening of our consciousness.
And finally, it's very important that we use prayer, because this self-transformation is a tremendous feat. It is very difficult. It is symbolized by the heroes of the Greek myths and the heroes of the scriptures, because it requires a tremendous amount of willpower, a heroism that we must find in our own soul and develop. But always these heroes have the help and the guidance of the gods and of divinity. And that is why through prayer, we can gain that inner help, that inner guidance to show us, what is the truth? What is the reality of our situation?
And what is the will of our inner God?
Do you have any questions?
Questions and Answers
Question: When Gurdjieff says what is man capable of, what is he capable of, if we are going to do this work of eliminating ego? What happens for us?
Instructor: Many people wonder “Who would I be if I didn't have all these desires? What would I do? Would I just be nothing?” But when we look at great spiritual masters like Jesus, like Buddha, like Krishna, these are truly great solar identities, solar beings, profound, powerful. If we took an ordinary person and put them in a situation where they were all by themselves, this person would be helpless, would not have the ability in that jungle, like our earlier example, to find their way out or to survive. But if we took a master like Jesus who has power over nature, power over himself, truly channels the power of divinity, his potential is limitless on earth and in the higher dimensions of nature. So that is the ultimate goal that we seek. Whatever level we might reach, we seek to develop our spiritual potential to have power over ourselves first and over nature, and even spiritual power.
Question: So Gurdjieff talks a lot about genuine will. What would be an example of genuine willpower according to divinity?
Instructor: We can think about the example of Jesus of Nazareth in the garden of Gethsemane. What does he say as he prays to God? This is before his crucifixion and he knows he is going to die and he prays to God, "Father, if it be thy will, take this cup of bitterness away from me, but not my will but thine be done." It is an example willpower. It is submission to divine will, that where our Spirit guides us, that we have the will of our inner God to do whatever is necessary, and that we are not controlled by fear or by any egotistical desire, but rather, we have true strength, continuity of purpose. We are awakened. We know what we must do and we have the will and the power to do it.
Question: So what does it mean to be conscious? Because this is a very difficult thing for students and for ourselves, is learning to understand what it means to be awake. So when we are awake, how do we really know? So I know it sounds like a kind of a catch-22, but what are the signs of being conscious in this work?
Instructor: Well in that example or in that exercise where we were meditating, were you aware of your feelings? Were you aware of your physical body sitting in the chair? Were you aware of your thoughts? That simple awareness of physical sensations or emotional sensations or mental sensations is an example, is a taste of becoming conscious. Actually, throughout the day as we are walking around, we are often not even aware of our physical body. We are not aware of breath coming in and out of our body. And so on the most basic level, to be aware of your physical processes, becomes the first level of being conscious, and then as we become aware of our more profound psychological depths―our thoughts or emotions that were previously unconscious to us as we work more and more in meditation―then we are awakening more and more. We might even perceive things that are extrasensory, you know, develop spiritual senses like telepathy, clairvoyance, clairaudience, to be awakened when we are asleep at night, to be awakened in the astral plane. These are examples of awakening, but it happens degree by degree.
Question: So what does it mean to be asleep and hypnotized? Because I know we talked a lot about different identities and wills. How is it that our sense of self makes us dream or makes us unaware of ourselves or unaware of things?
Instructor: Well, I think I gave an example too of being, you know, having a misperception of a situation with our boss, right? Where we believe that our boss is angry, and so we go about our day acting according to that belief. Now the reality is that our boss is angry at us, was having a bad day, because of some other situation that we didn't know, but in this state, this subjective reality, the subjective world of our own psychological perspective, we believe it to be true. And so we are going about acting as though that is the reality when the reality is otherwise. And that is because we are sleep, because we think we are perceiving reality, but truly we are filtering reality through our own egotism, our own fear that our boss would be angry at us, for example.
It’s just like the dream with the tiger chasing us, that when we are asleep and we are having a dream, that a big tiger is after us, we believe it's true and we are running like mad and we are trying to find a tree. We are trying to escape, and then we wake up and we realized that was not reality, right? So that's an example of what it is to be asleep. And you know, there are many desires that we are chasing we believe are very real, that desire for that new car, that desire for that new partner, that desire for that new job. And as we chase them, we believe they are real, but perhaps a few months later, some other job comes up and you get that job instead, and so all that time that you invested thinking that, “Oh, in a year from now, I am going to have this job,” was wasted, because the reality ended up being different. The truth is, that life never goes according to our plans.
Question: When I see that certain egos come up in situations, such as insecurity or fear or uncertainty or doubt, despair, and becoming hypnotized by those thoughts is what keeps us asleep. So why do we have a multiplicity in us? Why is it that we have ended up the way we are?
Instructor: So because we―in past actions, both in this lifetime and in previous lifetimes―invested our energy into desires that had nothing to do with our inner divinity. We created a flow of energy that goes into multiple different directions. So let's say that, you know, in the past, in a past life when we had a stronger connection with our inner divinity, we were guided to perform one action. But because of some egotistical desire or fantasy, because of our pride, for example, we didn't want to do this action that would have humiliated us. So we chose to act in a prideful way.
Well, in that case, psychologically speaking, we strengthened our sense of pride. We strengthened that false self, and we did this many times, many different actions, many different directions, created a multiplicity of wills with our own energy, our own consciousness, our own conscious energy. And so in this lifetime, we carry the psychological consequences, the psychological bodies from those previous existence―existences that have a multiplicity of wills.
But because we have become so hypnotized, so asleep, like I said, spiritually speaking, we have amnesia. We have no idea how we got here. We don't even remember what we did yesterday or two weeks ago, let alone what we did in past lives. And so our situation is very confused and very asleep. But as we work with meditation and as we perform this profound psychological self-transformation and awaken ourselves and begin to perceive the depths of our psyche, we can become aware and awakened and remember our past lives and see for ourselves, directly, through our own experiences, our mystical experiences, the reality of our past lives and how we ended up in this situation now.
Question: So when we get rid of the ego, we develop the soul. How is it that by eliminating the ego, we develop our consciousness? How is our consciousness trapped in the ego, right? Can you tell us more about what that process is like?
Instructor: I am going to go back to this quote here by Gurdjieff, when he says the death must come before rebirth. And so we know that our egoism must be broken. The ego is all of those different “I’s.” So we can say actually that we have a legion of egos. Ego means “I” in Latin. Now, because we have our own psychology divided into these false senses of self, our energy and our attention and our awareness is divided in many different directions, so that we can't progress through life with a continuous direction and a sense of will. We can't work towards one aim, because one minute we want to go on the diet and become skinnier, and the next minute we are turned in another direction and we are eating that chocolate cake, right? But this is actually a much bigger problem for us when we perform meditation everyday and we see the reality of different egos that pull at us.
As we meditate and we begin to take our energy back, we begin to extract our consciousness from these false delusional selves, these delusional desires, and we bring our consciousness back into a center of gravity and we center ourselves, again―in our Spirit, in our soul, in our conscience and our connection to divine will within ourselves, our true individual will―then we can begin to die to the delusion and to be born to the reality of the soul, and see the spiritual realities that are much more profound than the false realities that we perceive now and that we believe to be true.
But so long as we believe the lie, well, then we cannot perceive the truth. So we must first perceive that the egos or the different “I’s” that manipulate us moment-to-moment are false and then die to them. Let them go―as Arjuna killed these beloved attachments that we have, because they are temporary, because they are false. Then all of that energy, that consciousness, that awareness, returns to our Spirit, to our soul, and so we can be born as a soul.
Question: Can an ego observe another ego? How does that work? I believe Samael Aun Weor talked a lot about that process.
Instructor: Well, some people develop an egotistical sense of self that is doing this work. You know, it may be a Gnostic “I’s” that sits and judges and condemns the other “I’s” and says, “This one is bad and this one is not good.” But eventually that person has to become aware that that Gnostic “I” is also a false self.
When we are sitting in a state of conscious meditation, free from conditioning, we see and perceive the reality directly. We gain comprehension that is not intellectual. When one is sitting, at the beginning perhaps, our analysis is a little bit intellectual because we start where we are at, and so we have to maybe begin just by intellectually pondering: “Well, was that desire to yell at my friend good or bad?” Or “Where is that going to take me if I continue to act on that desire?”
Perhaps in the beginning it is intellectual, but as we strengthen our connection with divinity and as we strengthen our consciousness through this work and awaken, then we have comprehension of ourselves. We perceive reality directly. We know the truth. And so we do not have to analyze in this egotistical way or this intellectual way, but merely sit to meditate, observe what we see, and we will know through direct spontaneous insight. Perhaps not in that moment of meditation, perhaps later, but as well as long as we are doing this work and we are making efforts, our inner divinity will guide us and will show us the truth. It is very inspiring and doesn't require exertion. It comes naturally as a result of the effort to observe ourselves and to meditate.
This is a transcription of an audio lecture from Introduction to Gnostic Studies, originally given live at the Gnostic Academy of Chicago.
So every time we meet here together, we talk about gnosis. What is gnosis? It is experiential knowledge, knowledge of divinity, but knowledge of divinity that begins with ourselves.
Consciousness, ego and personality are three elements of ourselves that we can understand. And if we start with the basis of understanding this, then we gradually work into an understanding of which part of ourselves is the most divine, and how we can strengthen that part.
Now, because this is a path of self-knowledge, we have been working with the practice of self-observation. Before we seek to understand beings that we cannot see, other dimensions, those types of mystical experiences, we seek to just understand our reality. So with self-observation, we have begun by looking at our three brains. We talked before last time about how the three brains are three energetic centers.
The body is like a machine that can receive all types of information. We can receive motor, instinctive, and sexual impulses in our body, and that is controlled by the motor-instinctive-sexual brain.
We can receive emotional sensations, things that we process usually in the middle region of our body. We can feel anger in our gut, or love, warmth in our chest. And that can be divided into superior or inferior emotions. All of us have emotional states that are very pleasant and happy, serenity, but most of the time, unfortunately, we are stuck in emotional states that are states of suffering, anger, depression, misery. So we can use the emotional center in two different ways, in a superior way or inferior way, depending on what we are resonating with.
In the same way, the third center we talked about, the intellectual brain, which corresponds with the physical brain, up here in our head, can be divided into superior thoughts or inferior thoughts. Superior thoughts might be inspired works of genius, inventive types of creative thoughts, totally free from repetition and conditioning, while inferior thoughts might be of a more egotistical nature, selfish and repetitive.
If you have been working with self-observation, and observing not only external events but also your internal states of being, you might have noticed that the majority of our life is spent repeating thoughts that we have already thought, emotions that we have already felt before, actions and habits that we have already done, that life becomes a bit like a routine. And we don’t know how to escape this. Even if we are stuck in habits and emotions and thoughts that do not necessarily bring us any joy, we don’t know how we are supposed to step out of that.
We talked about how gnosis, self-knowledge, is the fourth path, the path of equilibrium, the path of awakening consciousness. Consciousness is separate from thoughts, separate from emotions, and separate from our instincts, impulses and body. Although consciousness gives us the chance to perceive all of those different types of sensations that we experience, that are a part of our life, we can awaken our consciousness separate from those sensations when we are in psychological equilibrium.
So we talked last time about looking at our lives, looking at if we are living in an imbalanced way, if there are times when we become too intellectual, getting carried away in theories and ideas. Times when we become too emotional, getting attached to sensations and emotional stimuli, dramas on TV, those kind of things, and not really thinking things through, not really putting things into practice. Or finally, we might be imbalanced in that we are a person that is always on the go or has a lot of instinctual habits, really identified with our physical body, but we’re not really thinking things through. We don’t have a lot of emotional depth.
By identifying that and working to correct our own imbalances, we can begin to activate a state of conscious awareness. We can begin to self-observe ourselves in a new way.
Perception of Reality
So if you’ve been working with that practice over the last few weeks, then this question might be something that you are looking at in a new way. Do we perceive reality?
So most of us are going to assume, “Well, yeah, I’m not hallucinating. I see the room around me, and that’s reality, right?” But we want to go a little bit deeper than a superficial understanding of this question.
When working with practices to understand not just the external world and our habits and life the way that we usually understand it, but to perceive life in a more profound way, in a spiritual way, then we need to question reality, because is it reality, or is it our perception of reality?
To give you an example of this, pretty common, that most of us have had a first impression of somebody that was really great, and we thought that they were an amazing person, and then later on we found out that maybe they weren’t such a nice person after all. Or conversely, maybe somebody rubs you the wrong way, maybe the first time you meet, you think this guy is going to be a jerk, but then not so long later, you realize they are a pretty good person. Maybe they become one of your best friends.
So what is it there that tricks us? Why is it that we think we are perceiving the reality of someone or situation, but later on time proves that we actually haven’t seen it as it was?
A really poignant example of this is a betrayal. So all of us at one point in our life have been lied to, or betrayed by someone we trusted, and that can be a very traumatic experience for the soul. Because in an instant, you realize that someone you thought you trusted, you thought you knew, you thought you had a good understanding of their character, has said or done something that contradicts everything that you believe. You might go deeper into a state of doubt, questioning not only your relationship with that person but questioning yourself and what you did wrong, what you didn’t see to get yourself in that position. Questioning: is it just this one person that I didn’t understand, or is it all types of people that I don’t understand? Do I even have a grasp of life?
The doubt can be very distressing, but it is very important, because it shows the fundamental truth of our situation, which is that we are not really very cognizant of reality. We are actually in a state where we should feel a little bit of distress, because we need to figure out: “What is it that I am not seeing? And how do I move into that place where I can begin to see things as they are? So I don’t continue to follow an unconscious assumption about life and about people and about myself that puts me into a state of greater suffering.”
But most of the time after something like this happens, the pain is too great. So we run away from that doubt. We run away from ourselves. We push it down. We blame the other person or we get distracted with something else. Sometimes we run directly into the same situation with someone new and we end up repeating and continuing our suffering rather than learning from it.
Now with practices like self-observation and meditation, we are able to begin breaking that cycle. We are able to begin to understand what it was that we missed, that we didn’t perceive, to understand ourselves in a new way, and to step beyond our wrong assumption of reality into a better understanding of reality.
So the first of the three elements of ourselves we are going to look at today, that will help us to be comprehend reality, is consciousness. Now consciousness as commonly defined is “the quality or state of being aware and having mental faculties not dulled by sleep, faintness or stupor.” So that is, if you’re the boxer in the ring and you get knocked unconscious, then you wake back up and you are conscious again. You know, very simple, superficial understanding of what consciousness is, but we are seeking again to go deeper.
That consciousness is not just being physically awake or physically asleep. But most of the time, in an esoteric understanding of consciousness, we are asleep. We are not perceiving things as they are, but rather we are going through the motions of things only half aware of what’s happening, repeating our habits, repeating our routines, but not really being awake, not really perceiving the situation as it is.
So in Gnosticism, we define consciousness as the root of our perception of all phenomena. So as I mentioned earlier, consciousness is beyond our mind, beyond our thoughts, beyond our heart, beyond our emotions, beyond our body. It is through consciousness that we can perceive physical sensations and emotional sensations and intellectual thoughts, but consciousness is distinct from them.
When we really begin to work with consciousness, in an awakened way, we begin to strengthen that inner energy within ourselves. Consciousness is also understood as the Essence of the human soul. So an Essence is a synthesis, a seed of something. And in our tradition, we talk about how by working with consciousness by activating and awakening consciousness, we begin to develop the soul, to develop what is within us in a new way.
So one way to test our consciousness right now is: are you aware of your thumb on your right hand? Now you are, but you weren’t just a few minutes ago, maybe? Yeah! Right, well, and that is a good point. A lot of time our attention is focused on everything else that is going on. We are perceiving a very narrow bit of whatever is happening in the room. Right, so if we want to work with consciousness, to become more conscious, then we need to be always working to become more aware, to expand our consciousness in every moment.
Just like a muscle, the more that you use it, the more that you are able to perceive. However, if we are never working with consciousness, we are only perceiving a sliver of reality. In fact, we estimate that only about 3% of our consciousness is actually active. Whereas, if you looked at someone like a Buddha, who is totally awake and enlightened, you know they can perceive everything around them, everything within them, multiple dimensions of reality. That’s the ultimate goal we are striving for in our spiritual work, is to become awake, to be able to perceive things as they truly are, not just to perceive a narrow or a filtered view of reality.
From moment to moment, we can begin with a practice of just being aware of our body. It’s a great way to ground yourself. You know all the time we are walking around in our body, we are doing all kinds of things, but we are never aware of breathing or the way our eyes move around to look at things, right? Until suddenly we trip over something or we have this terrible pain in our back, then we are aware of our physical body. That is a good place to start, but, of course, with Gnosticism, we are seeking to go a little bit deeper even with that. We are seeking to become aware of the inner parts of our self, seeking to become aware of consciousness itself, our inner psychology, so we gain that self-knowledge.
But there is one barrier to becoming conscious, and that barrier is what we call ego. A common definition for ego is the self. In fact, the word is Latin for “I,” as in “me.” And another common definition we have for ego is an exaggerated sense of self-importance. So we can think of this with celebrities, right? They might walk into a room and demand certain things that other people wouldn’t ask for, that they might have a sense of themselves, that they are larger than life, even if physically we realize they have a physical body just like us. There might not actually be a physical difference in that person.
If you put them alone in the desert all by themselves, you know that sense of self isn’t going to save them, right? And yet we see that they have that exaggerated sense of self-importance. It might irritate us, in fact, that they move through life in that kind of way.
Now the trick is that all of us have that, not just celebrities, but we don’t catch it in ourselves as much because we haven’t trained ourselves to look for it. One of the fundamental practices of the gnostic is to train yourself to catch when your ego is getting carried away.
So in Gnosticism, the ego is a false self which filters our perception. It can also refer to a compilation of all kinds of egotistical desires that give us a sense of self.
We might, for example, be somebody that really loves hamburgers, and so that is a sense of “my identity.” “I love hamburgers and I might drive two hours just to be able to get the best kind of hamburger that I want.” So I am feeding a false self. The truth is that if I never saw a hamburger again, I would not die. I would be able to survive just fine. But because I have developed this sense of identity attached with that sensation of eating a hamburger, then it seems really real to me and I will do all kinds of crazy things just to get what I want.
This is a silly example―right?―hamburgers, but we can think about it with ourselves. How much do we do, how much do we sacrifice, to have a job that we believe other people will respect? Or to drive a car or have clothes that show a certain sense of self? How much do we do to feed our own addictions, and I don’t just mean drugs and alcohol, but addictions to different kinds of sensations, like our emotional addictions to drama. How many hours might we spend watching dramatic television shows?
Yet all of that is kind of a construction in our own mind. It does not have much to do with reality. It’s a sense of self that we feed and we make real, a psychological sense of our self-image that we believe very much is real. We will argue with people to the death, sometimes, to defend our sense of pride, but physically does not actually have a reality, does not have much to do with just the regular physical sensations of our bodies. It is exaggerated.
Now there’s actually a study that is going on at Ohio State University’s medical center where they talk about mind-wandering. So if we think about the consciousness, pure and free from any egotistical self-interference, that is what they would call in their study, it is a neuroscientific study, they would call it “on-task thinking.” So they are able to see in the brain that the brain exhibits different activity when we are in on-task thinking. That is when you are perceiving something just as it is, without any thoughts. You are just totally awake and you are there.
In addition to that, there are two levels of mind-wandering. So when you are perceiving something, let us say you are sitting in a class and you are perceiving something. The professor is going to talk about some problems that are going to be on the next test, and then you start to have your own commentary about it. That is the first level of mind-wandering. That is a performance based mind-wandering. You might be thinking, “Oh no, he just said that and I missed what he said, and am I going get that wrong on the next test?” You are still half aware of what is going on, but there is this other level of being concerned about your own performance. So it can be when you are listening to somebody talk and in your mind, you are disagreeing with everything they say. Then that can be the first level of mind-wandering.
And then a deeper level of mind-wandering is when we are just totally somewhere else. You know we are sitting there in that class and we are thinking about how we need to get to the grocery store to pick up the ingredients for enchiladas, so when we get home we are going to cook dinner. We are totally not there at all.
One of the studies that actually came out of Harvard about mind-wandering found that over 50% of our lives we are mind-wandering. Now you can measure that in the brain, a different activity pattern in the brain. But that people who engage in mind-wandering less are actually happier than people who engage in more mind-wandering. I bring up this example because a lot of the time we are thinking about the things that we want. We are fantasizing about that hamburger, right? We are not just perceiving the situation as it is. We are not just perceiving the painting of the flowers for what it is, but we are perceiving with our own filter of, “Well, I don’t really like the colors that they chose here.” Or, “Ooh, I really like the paint choice of that.” We are always bringing ourselves into situations rather than perceiving them with that pure consciousness, bright and awake. So before we say that is good or bad, it is just something to be aware of in ourselves, something that we want to observe.
The other element that we want to be able to observe and distinguish from ego and from consciousness is our personality.
We talked last time about how most of us believe who we are, is our identity in the world. You know, “My name, my age, my race, my culture, my job, my family,” that we believe all of those things are “who I am,” and we live our lives investing a lot of time into those things.
Commonly defined, the personality is “the totality of an individual’s behavioral and emotional characteristics.” And in psychology, we study personality as something that is relatively stable over time, that someone has a certain characteristic and that is just who they are and they are not going to change very much. So you will hear people who will maybe do something that really irritates other people. They will always defend it and say, “Well, that is just who I am. You need to accept me for who I am!” And sometimes the personality can become egotistical in that way. We can use different traits of our identity in the world to strengthen a sense of self, to make ourselves feel more real.
When we look at personality in an esoteric way, we look at the root of personality, which is persona, in Latin meaning “mask.” And in Gnosticism, we consider the personality as just a mask, that it is not the truth of our identity, but rather one superficial part of our identity.
Personality is neither good nor bad, but it is the way in which we can interact in the world. So we can look at is as an interface with the external world, which allows us to communicate and function in a particular time period and location. So if you had the personality of someone from ancient China, you would never fit in here. You would not eat the same things. You would not wear the same clothing. You would not speak the same language. You would not have the same customs. It would be very hard for you to fit in the world.
So we need a personality. We need these characteristics we inherit from our family, we inherit from our culture, from society and education, in order to be able to survive in the world. But, are we able to also look a little bit deeper into what is going on behind the personality? What is driving the personality?
When we are moving through the world, it is not just the interface that is acting, but it is our own conscious energy, our own psychology, that is expressing through that. When you are feeling very kind towards someone and acting towards them in a very loving way, you might be using the same language, the same mannerisms, to be able to communicate with that person. But it is a very different experience than when a few days later, you are furious with that person and you are shouting at them. You see there that distinction? The personality is the same. It allows us to connect with other people. But who do we have driving the car? That is the question.
I would like to quote from Gurdjieff, something he said about personality and about our own inner self, the deeper psychological self that we are seeking to study here with esoteric knowledge. Gurdjieff says:
“We have nothing of our own; everything that we put in our pocket is not our own―and on the inside, we have nothing.” ―Gurdjieff, Views from the Real World
So we do not want to find ourselves in that situation, where we have lots of material possessions. Everything that we put in our pocket, or even psychologically, we have a sense of self that has been given to us, a name that has been given to us, an identity prescribed to us by the world, but internally we have nothing of ourselves. We have nothing of our soul, nothing that carries on, as we mentioned last time, that carries on after death.
We want to develop our soul, that Essence, that seed, into something that is strong and vibrant, shining with a lot of conscious awareness. So that when we come to the end of our life and we have to give up our status, we have to give up our reputation, our wealth, our possessions, even our physical body, there is something that survives, right?
So this is our situation as we are. We can look at ourselves. This is just a conceptualization, a framework by which we can look at ourselves and examine ourselves. But where did it come from? Have we always had a consciousness? Have we always had an ego? And have we always had a personality?
If we think back to childhood, the early years of childhood, there was something different there. Unfortunately, this is starting to change now a days. Children are much less happy, but for most of us we can recall those first years of our life were very happy, were characterized by a state of bliss. We were free from the types of worries that we have now. I have a four year old niece and the way that she goes and interacts with toys and games, she is totally bright and present. There’s a lot of pure consciousness there. But unfortunately as we start to get older, as we enter school, and then later on as we enter into puberty and different psychological stages of development, in which we become very self-conscious and very aware of ourselves, all of that begins to change.
The sense of self that we have becomes more developed, becomes stronger, and we are no longer able to just perceive life the way that a child does. Now, it is true that children do not have the intellectual understanding of life that adults have, but they do have a very awakened perception of life that is something we lose sight of.
Many times we become distracted. We have all those wrong ideas of life, all those perceptions of life, that we mentioned earlier, that end up actually not being a perception of reality. And so we have lost something that the child has that we can reclaim by working on our own psychology.
The founder of the Gnostic movement is Samael Aun Weor, and he gave us this quote in his book about the Fundamentals of Gnostic Education. He wrote:
"The revolutionary psychology of the Gnostic movements, in a clear and precise manner, makes an in-depth distinction between the ego and the Essence [consciousness]. Only the beauty of the Essence manifests through the child during the first three or four years of life. Then, the child is tender, sweet, and beautiful in all his psychological aspects. However, when the ego begins to control the tender personality of the child, then all the beauty of the Essence begins to disappear and the characteristic psychological defects of every human being bloom in its place.” ―Samael Aun Weor, Fundamentals of Gnostic Education
So we see that at a certain age, children start to throw temper tantrums. And what are those tantrums about? They want their way. They didn’t get what they wanted. “Billy is playing with a toy and I want the toy. And so I am going to scream and have a fit and become miserable about the toy.” As adults we might smile at this, “Oh, that’s so silly that he is so upset about this toy when we know that twenty minutes from now he is going to be completely thinking about something else and will have completely forgotten about the toy. So why is he investing all this energy, crying and screaming and getting so upset about, it when it is not a big deal?”
But, we do the same thing when it comes to our money, when it comes to our car. We get into a car accident. When it comes to losing something that has value to us, we will freak out. We will be in misery if a check gets lost in the mail. We lose it. We do not perceive ourselves in that same way. Perhaps this is something that, yeah, is going to be inconvenient for us, it is going to be causing a little bit of time or effort or energy for us. But in the long run of things, is it really worth becoming so upset? Becoming so frustrated about it?
The Four Noble Truths
In part of Buddhism, they talk about the Four Noble Truths. Has anybody heard of those before?
The first is that life is suffering.
The second is that suffering is caused by desire, selfish desire, the false sense of self that we are talking about here. That “I want,” “I want reality to be a certain way that I want it to be, and if it is not that way then I am going to suffer and be miserable about it. And I will make everyone else miserable too.”
But the third is that there is a way to cease suffering.
And then the fourth is that the way to cease suffering is the eightfold path.
We talk a lot about Buddhism in the Gnostic studies, not in this particular topic that we are talking about today, but Gnosticism is on that same foundation. We invest a lot of energy in a false sense of self that is actually creating our misery. We think, “When I get that promotion then I’m going to be happy.” We desire that promotion and we work really hard. And maybe sometimes we are lucky and we get the promotion. But then we are not happy because we want something else. We want the next promotion, or “I am not getting the same credit the guy next to me is getting, so I’m not happy.”
We do not see that it is our own sense of self-importance that has crated our unhappiness. The important thing is not to change our physical life. It is not to renounce promotions or cars or clothing, you know. It is not the point. The point is our psychological relationship to life, that with this exaggerated sense of self, we are walking around expecting life to conform to the way we think it should be. We are actually not allowing ourselves to see life as it is. We are not allowing ourselves to be content with whatever is the experience of life: to be in tune with the experience of life, whether its happy or sad, whether it is raining outside or sunny―to just accept life as it is and continue to be, to be present, as an Essence, as a consciousness, as a soul, that gets to experience all the variety of life in its many manifestations.
Samael Aun Weor said something else about personality and Essence, to distinguish that for us. He wrote that we should:
"Understand: the human being is born with an Essence but not with a personality; thus, it is necessary to create the personality. Nevertheless, the personality and the Essence must be developed in a harmonious and balanced manner. [...] In the Essence, we have everything that we own; in the personality, we have everything that we borrowed. That is, in the Essence we have our innate qualities (our spiritual qualities, our soul), and in the personality we have the example of our elders, what we have learned at home, in school, and in the streets." ―Samael Aun Weor, Fundamentals of Gnostic Education
So we need both of these things. We need our personality. The personality gives us the chance to experience life and connect with others, to develop our soul through different types of experiences and learning. And we need the Essence, which allows us the conscious perception of those things.
We need the Essence to become active, because when the Essence is asleep we get into repetitive behaviors. We are just going around like a machine repeating everything by habit. When the Essence is awake, we are able to perceive life in a totally new way.
Is the Ego Really Necessary?
We need a personality and Essence that are developed in balance, but do we need an ego? Do we need a big sense of self?
I have a comparison here for you. You can think of somebody with a big ego like a talk show host or a radio host―or a sports celebrity or sports talk person. Those people who make a living off of having a big ego, exaggerate their personality. They become, maybe, extremely politically-opinionated or they are very aware of pop culture and everything that is going on with current events. They are able to use their personality in a way that is creating a strong persona, so that more people will listen to them. They find that entertaining. They love the types of jokes that that person always makes.
And so we look at a talk show host that has a lot of egotism and a big sense of self feeding that personality. But is there another side to the coin where we can have a different type of self behind the personality?
Solar or Divine Personalities
When we talk about great masters, when we talk about people like the Dalai Lama, or Leonardo de Vinci, or Buddha, or Jesus, we think of those people with what we term in Gnosticism as a solar personality, a personality that comes from the spirit within. So they are able to use the customs, the language, a physical cultural experience of life, but not to express a big sense of themselves, not to convince everybody that they are the smartest person and they know exactly what they are talking about and everybody should listen to them and follow them. They are able to just express divinity in a very bright, intelligent and pure way.
We can compare someone like that to a light bulb, in that the energy, the light of divinity, or the spirit within them, is very bright, and when they clean off all the grime on the glass, when they make their personality just that glass, that is pure of any egotistical filtering, then that light can shine more brightly.
You see a lot of power in those types of people. But it is not a power that tyrannizes others. It is not a power that oppresses or makes others feel less than. It is a power that people are drawn to because it is a natural power from God.
Balancing Essence and Personality
We mention that we need a balanced development, and I am going to read one more quote from Samael Aun Weor about that.
“In practicality we have been able to verify when the personality has developed in an exaggerated manner at the expense of the Essence the outcome is a swindler, so that’s a cheat or a charlatan. The observation and experience of many years have allowed us to comprehend that when the Essence is somehow developed without attending in the least to the harmonious cultivation of the personality, then the outcome is a mystic without intellect, without personality, of noble heart but inadaptable and incapable.”
"In practicality, we have been able to verify that when the personality is developed in an exaggerated manner at the expense of the Essence, the outcome is a swindler. The observation and experience of many years have allowed us to comprehend that when the Essence is somehow developed without attending in the least to the harmonious cultivation of the personality, then the outcome is a mystic without intellect, without personality―of noble heart, but inadaptable and incapable.” ―Samael Aun Weor, Fundamentals of Gnostic Education
So we talked last time about Fakirs, and I think Fakirs are a nice example here of the mystic without the personality developed. They might go off into the desert or into the woods and do all kinds of incredible feats of will power and renunciation, but are they able to come back into society and help others? Are they able to communicate? Do they have the skills necessary to be adaptable to different situations in life? They are developing a lot of Essence, their own Being, and that’s beautiful, but, unfortunately, it is a little bit out of balance.
In that first example, he is talking about a swindler, and we can think of con men, people that have that big personality, very charismatic, have a big sense of self, but do not have developed an ethical type of character. They do not have much consideration for their soul, for who they are inside, or for whom they hurt, so they do not have the ethics, the conscience of their actions.
We want a balance of both of these. We do not want to be too much a mystic without any ability to go and connect with others and to learn from life. But we do not want to be too much of someone invested in life and getting the most that we can squeeze out of it, hurting other people, without any development of the part of ourselves that is, hopefully, going to be immortal and survive after this life ends.
So Samael Aun Weor finished by saying:
“The harmonious development of personality and Essence brings as an outcome brilliant men and women." ―Samael Aun Weor, Fundamentals of Gnostic Education
So when we think of people like Mozart, Beethoven or Leonardo Da Vinci , Michelangelo, we can see that those were people that had a craft in the world, that really developed that to the highest pitch, but were also able to bring some aspect from their own creative consciousness, within their own spiritual soul, into the world through it, and gave us great works of art. And that is what we are striving for.
There is another quote from Gurdjieff that I want to share. Gurdjieff talks about the Essence and he talks about the personality, but he calls them knowledge and being. So the Essence would be the Being, that is that child who is just there, totally present to what is going on, bright and attentive. That sense of just being, being aware. And the personality would be the knowledge that we gain from external life, what other people teach us, our education in school.
Gurdjieff says that:
“People understand what ‘knowledge’ means. And they understand the possibility of different levels of knowledge. They understand that knowledge may be lesser or greater, that is to say, of one quality or of another quality. But they do not understand this in relation to ‘being.’ ‘Being,’ for them, means simply ‘existence’ to which is opposed just ‘non-existence.’ They do not understand that being or existence may be of very different levels and categories.” ―Gurdjieff cited by P.D. Ouspensky, In Search of the Miraculous
So just in the way that we can go to school and we can develop our knowledge, our personality, we can learn a lot of things about the external world. We can develop the Being. We can develop our Essence, our soul. And that is what our spiritual practice is geared towards. He says that being or existence may be of different levels, but some people exist in a state of misery, that their being is very low and they are suffering a lot. It is hard to get out of that state.
There are other people who exist on a high level of being. We talked about very extreme examples of people like saints, or buddhas, that have a lot of being, that emanate love and happiness even when they are burned alive at the stake, or persecuted. Those people have a very elevated level of being to still express compassion. So how do we develop that?
It begins by working with first seeing ourselves through practices like self-observation and meditation, and little by little coming out of our state of suffering. If we cannot be happy in spite of our difficulties, then what is the use of our spiritual practice? We are coming to these studies because we want to change. We want to understand ourselves so that we know how to change. How do we receive the guidance of divinity within ourselves? Not from anybody outside of ourselves, but from within our own direct experience. So we do not have to rely on ideas or theories about the way that life is, what we have been taught in school, but that we know from our own heart, from our own soul, what life is, and how we can come out of our suffering, how we can change in those types of ways.
So how do we ascend to those higher levels of being? How do we develop ourselves consciously, spiritually?
The Purpose of Essence, Ego, and Personality
I am going to finish this lecture with a section about the purpose of these three elements. Now that we have come to look at consciousness, ego and personality, and distinguish them a bit, how do we make them useful for our own development?
Gnosis is the path to self-knowledge. Just in that way that during our last talk we began to gain some self-knowledge about our habits, our predisposition, are we an overly intellectual person? Are we an overly emotional type of person? An overly physical instinctive type of person? In the same way, we should gain self-knowledge. We should train ourselves to be able to observe these elements of our own psyche.
So we talked about the Essence, that is the seed of the human soul, and how it can be developed through conscious works and upright efforts. If we are not becoming aware of ourselves from moment to moment, if we are not strengthening that muscle of the consciousness, then we are never going to develop it. We are not going to become aware of anything more than the little sliver which we are habitually always perceiving of life.
We need to be sure to awaken ourselves in an upright way. So the more that we work with our conscious willpower, the greater the effects of our actions are going to be. We talked last time how if we are working with consciousness in an imbalanced way, strengthening our egotistical sense of self, or working with consciousness so that we can control other people and get them to do what we want them to do, then we are going to develop in an inharmonious way and we are actually going to increase our suffering.
When we are working in an ethical way, when we are seeking to bring ourselves out of suffering, to not cause suffering for others, to awaken in that way, through upright efforts, then we are strengthening the soul free of any ego. The ego is the false self, can be considered as an inner adversary, because it is trapping us in the conditioning of believing “I want this. I need to get this.” And then when we spend years of our lives trying to get the certain job that we wanted so badly, and we are there and we are not happy anymore, then we are stuck with this exaggerated sense of self and in a state of misery.
But how do we become conscious? We do what we need to do to survive. We go to work, we take care of our families, do those things, but without a big egotistical attachment to it.
We also talk in this tradition about how the ego actually is a result of past error from past lives. So this is a tradition that believes in reincarnation and teaches reincarnation, and that is a lot of our predispositions, that we think “That is just naturally who I am,” can actually be a result of past errors in past lives.
We will talk more about it in another talk, but the way that we learn from ourselves is by accepting the ordeals that life brings us. Life brings us a variety of situations, and in those situations, which can be painful ordeals, we are able to begin to see ourselves as we are. We have a friend that is always talking down to us, really irritating us, activating our pride. That friend is actually giving us a chance to see an element of self. Now I am not saying, “Be friends with people who are abusive and really mean to you.” That is not the point. So do not go to extremes. But that in different situations in life, if we are humiliated or angered, or we are really wanting something very badly that we cannot have, we are able to see that self in a new way, especially if we are self-observing. And then if we are able to perceive that self in a deeper way, when we are meditating about what we have observed, we might be able to become free of it and be able to change.
Now I will use an example from my own life here in a moment, but I want to finish here about the personality being the mask to the external world. So we need the personality. It is not a bad thing. We need the personality to go through life and encounter those ordeals, so that we can learn about ourselves internally, and so we can learn about how to help other people. It is important. In an example to make this all a little more concrete for you, how do you actually work with self-observation and meditation to understand these types of things? I will give an example from a couple of years ago when I was first working with these types of practices.
I was in school and I had been assigned to a group project with two other people, two other students. We were randomly assigned a topic for our project. So we did not get to choose it. But I was glad about the topic because, you know, with my personality speaking here, it was something that I had many years of experience with and I really liked. The other two students in my group had no experience with it and did not really care for the topic. So I thought in this moment that I was going to be really helpful and volunteer to do the majority of the work. So I said, “You guys don’t worry about it too much, I’m going to do most of this. I know all about it, so you guys can just take it easy.” But as time went on and we were trying to work together, I realized that they were pretty irritated with me and they were shutting me out, doing parts of the project without doing that in a collaborative way.
So I began to be frustrated. My pride got hurt. I was like, “Why are these people being so hostile to me? I’m just trying to be helpful here!” Since I had been self-observing, after one of the meetings in which I felt they were treating me very coldly, I was meditating on it, because I choose to meditate especially on the things that are causing me suffering, trying to understand “Why am I suffering, and how do I make a change here?”
I had a strange experience in meditation. It was the first time it happened to me, where as I was just replaying the scene as it had happened, you know, as I observed it in a balanced way, with my three brains in equilibrium, suddenly I saw it from a completely different perspective, as though it was in third person, the way that those persons would have seen me. Now originally, in my egotistical perspective, I thought I was great. I was being helpful. I was just trying to do the right things for these people. But when I saw it from the perspective of another, in this experience of meditation, I saw a lot of pride, that I was being a know it all. I was not having any appreciation for the fact that even if they did not have years of experience with this topic, they might want to engage with the project. They might have opinions or insight or things that are valuable. I was not able to see that because of the egotistical filter at the time.
When I saw it in meditation, my experience of that situation totally changed. Rather than being angry at them and resentful that they were not treating me with respect, I was humbled. I felt terrible that I had not been appreciating what they were going to contribute to the project, and so from that point on, I changed. I gave them way more opportunities to share. I talked less about me and all the things I know. The project ended up going much better from that point. It went very well.
This might seem like a silly example, but it is just one small example of many things that we are doing throughout our life―many things that we have no awareness of how other people are seeing us. We walk into a room and we think everybody is seeing us in a certain way. We might walk in and think, “Oh, I am gonna sound so smart and everybody is gonna think I look so great!” Maybe, conversely, we walk into a room and think, “Everybody here is gonna hate me! Everybody’s looking down on me. Nobody here values me!” And none of that is reality. It is this false sense of who we are. It is an image of what we carry around within ourselves, of what we think other people think about us.
But authentic self-observation with the consciousness allows us to begin to perceive ourselves in a real way, especially when we are coupling that with meditation and what we have observed. We are able to go a lot deeper. And you know, because of this little change, this little story where I saw my pride, I was able to walk away from that. Then after I finished school and I got a new job, I was much more of a team player. I didn’t walk into every staff meeting talking and gloating about all the things that I knew and how I was the best person. I was able to appreciate what my colleagues have and to learn a lot from other people. If I had held on to that sense of pride I would not be able to learn.
And you know it is interesting that we see this a lot in other people. We all have that friend who is the one upper. “You went to NY last weekend? Well, I went to Paris, and I met with the Dalai Lama.” We know that person. We see that in other people and we know it is really irritating and we do not like it. We kind of roll our eyes, “Yeah, OK,” but why don’t we see that in ourselves? When we are in the lime light, when everyone is finally listening to us, we want to brag and get everybody to like us and think that we are great, maybe not in these exaggerated examples that I am giving, but in small ways, little ways.
We are not perceiving it most of the time, and we can see it in other people, because it shields us from seeing it in ourselves. We get frustrated and angry with other people. We project onto them and criticize their negative qualities because it is painful for us to see our own state. We need a really radical sense of sincerity and humility if we really want to be serious about achieving this type of self-knowledge in our own spiritual work.
Dolos, Prometheus, and Veritas (Truth)
So we can use myths in order to understand archetypes in ourselves. The Greek mysteries are very deep, and they give us a chance to understand psychological teachings. Sometimes people think that Greek myths are all about these gods in the past and pagan worship, and that they are literal figures. But if we use myths in a way to understand our own spiritual development and our own psychological processes, they can be very useful for us, here and now. Not in some ancient time, but here and now in our own psychological work.
“The myth of Dolos, spirit of deception. In Greek mythology, Dolos is the spirit of trickery and guile. He is also a master at cunning, deception, craftiness and treachery. He was the son of Gaia and Ether. The name Dolos is translated as “deception.” Dolos was also an apprentice of the Titan Prometheus. Dolos became known for his skill when he attempted to make a fraudulent happy statue of Veritas, in order to trick people into thinking they were seeing the real statue. He ran out of the clay he was using to create the statue and had to leave the feet unfinished as he quaked in fear as his master Prometheus looked over at his attempt of deceitfulness. To his surprise, Prometheus was rather amazed at the similarity between the statues, so Dolos then became a master at his crafty and tricky ways.” ―Excerpts from Wikipedia
The following account comes from Aesop’s Fables:
“Prometheus, that potter who gave shape to our new generation, decided one day to sculpt the form of Veritas [Aletheia, Truth], using all his skill so that she would be able to regulate people’s behaviour. As he was working, an unexpected summons from mighty Jupiter [Zeus] called him away. Prometheus left cunning Dolos (Trickery) in charge of his workshop, Dolos had recently become one of the god’s apprentices. Fired by ambition, Dolos (Trickery) used the time at his disposal to fashion with his sly fingers a figure of the same size and appearance as Veritas [Aletheia, Truth] with identical features. When he had almost completed the piece, which was truly remarkable, he ran out of clay to use for her feet. The master returned, so Dolos (Trickery) quickly sat down in his seat, quaking with fear. Prometheus was amazed at the similarity of the two statues and wanted it to seem as if all the credit were due to his own skill. Therefore, he put both statues in the kiln and when they had been thoroughly baked, he infused them both with life: sacred Veritas (Truth) walked with measured steps, while her unfinished twin stood stuck in her tracks. That forgery, that product of subterfuge, thus acquired the name of Mendacium [Pseudologos, Falsehood], and I readily agree with people who say that she has no feet: every once in a while something that is false can start off successfully, but with time Veritas (Truth) is sure to prevail.” ―Aesop, Fables 530 (from Phaedrus Appendix 5)
I want to talk more about this myth in our discussion so I’m going to break it down a little bit and then we will rap up and move into discussion.
So let us talk about some of the symbols in this myth. Hopefully you caught them. One of the main characters of the myth is Prometheus, who is actually teaching Dolos. Prometheus is a Greek word that means “forethought.” Prometheus is known for being a Titan that was very wise, who had the forethought of future things. He is credited with creating man from clay, like all of humankind he created. And he stole fire, the creative power of the gods, to give to mankind, so that mankind would be able to develop beyond the animals, so that mankind would be able to progress and create all kinds of feats and inventions and new ways.
The next character is Dolos. Dolos is the spirit of deception. Dolos actually means “deception.” And in the story he crafts a statue that is so well constructed that he almost fools his master, Prometheus. He is a trickster known in many other stories for being able to fool even the gods and get the gods to make mistakes. And when we look at these two statues, they are also very important. So, one statue is Veritas, the Truth. Veritas means “truth” actually.
Prometheus is this great archetype related with our consciousness, but actually, a much more elevated aspect of our own spirit and Being then we are going to get into today. When he creates Truth, he does it in order to create a form which can regulate human behavior. So we can think of Truth as an archetype for the soul that is something given to us spiritually, but that we have to develop. We have to give it life in order for it to guide us in living in a true way, perceiving reality in a true way, performing those upright actions.
The other statue, which is created by deception, his apprentice, is Pseudologos, which means “lie.” And that would be what we have been talking about, the false self. Our own self-deception fuels our own creative power into creating a false self that does not have any feet, spiritually speaking, does not get us anywhere. And in the end, when we have given our life to both statues, we will be able to see, like Prometheus does, which one can walk and which one doesn’t get anywhere.
When we continue to fuel the false self, we are stuck in our tracks. In the beginning, it looks really great. It might look the same even. That is the way it is with a lie. It starts off well, but then over time, the truth prevails. The truth comes out. We want to study our lives in a way where we can begin to discern between these two elements.
Now a little back story about Prometheus is that he had a brother. The brother’s name was Epimetheus, which means “hindsight.” Prometheus is an archetype of foresight and Epimetheus an archetype of hindsight, someone who learns from the past, is not able to predict what is going to happen next, is not able to act wisely and intelligently to take steps in a way that are positive. He is someone who makes lots of mistakes and has to learn from, unfortunately, the suffering from those mistakes. You can see a correlation there. In this myth of Prometheus, it says:
"After the gods have moulded men and other living creatures with a mixture of clay and fire, the two brothers Epimetheus and Prometheus are called to complete the task and distribute among the newly born creatures all sorts of natural qualities. Epimetheus sets to work but, being unwise, distributes all the gifts of nature among the animals, leaving men naked and unprotected, unable to defend themselves and to survive in a hostile world. Prometheus then steals the fire of creative power from the workshop of Athena and Hephaistos and gives it to mankind." ―Olga Raggio, The Myth of Prometheus
So Epimetheus is a symbol here of our own lower qualities, our lower state of being. He is giving all of the best forces that we have, our life, our energy, to those qualities of anger, of pride, of envy, of greed. He is giving it to the animal nature that we have within. And because of that the human part of us, the highest archetypes, as what we see as an ideal for humanity, human virtue, goodwill for others, love and wisdom and reason, there is no energy left for that. They are left naked and unprotected and unable to defend themselves in a hostile world.
Prometheus is the other side of this. Prometheus steals that creative power from the gods, the consciousness, and gives it to mankind to develop, to progress, to make them higher than the animals. In our spiritual work, that is what we are seeking to do. We are seeking to move from that level of being that is characterized by suffering, by repetition, animal types of desires. We are seeking to move into a human state that emanates love and reason and wisdom, that sees reality from a higher perspective.
So I kind of already talked about this but we can see that these archetypes and the great myths relate to ourselves. Prometheus is being a creator of our life. In the myth he breathes life into both statues and puts them into the kiln. And in the same way we are taking our consciousness and we are breathing it into a false part of ourselves, with the false identity that we are clinging to and feeding with a lot of our time and energy. And we are also breathing that life into pure parts of ourselves, our love, our creativity, all the things we have to offer the world. And by doing that we are able to, if we are aware, if we are self-observing and meditating, to perceive which one is reality, which one is helping us to rise out of suffering and which one is causing us to remain trapped in greater states of suffering.
Two examples of the ego: we have Epimetheus, afterthought, hindsight, and we can have Dolos, which is our own self-deception, that intentionally or unintentionally we are deceiving ourselves a lot of the time to believing we are somebody that we are not. Sometimes it can be a good thing. We are believing ourselves to be somebody better than we are. We like to think that we have got it all figured out, we are the guy that is reliable and nobody else is as good as us. Or sometimes we can have a self-deception that “I’m incompetent. I’ve got nothing to offer and nobody is going to listen to me,” and any variety in between there.
But we are not perceiving ourselves as we really are, so we need to train ourselves to awaken consciousness to be able to do so.
As I mentioned earlier, the two statues are representing aspects of our personality, that personality being driven by a false self-image. Is it something that we are feeding and we are developing our personality a lot for our own egotistical gain, for our own sense of self and getting what we want, feeding our desires? Or is it a personality that embodies the truth, the divine archetype of our soul, that does not need any egotism, but can shine with a lot of radiance and power, to be able to live in a wise and compassionate way?
So I am going to finish here with two quotes from Samael Aun Weor.
The first he talks about two consciousnesses, referring to these two statues that we just learned about. He says:
“…we must get to know, to be able to comprehend, that the human being is divided into two consciousnesses: the true and the false.
“When one comes to this world, one brings within the essence all the data (which is deposited by nature) that one needs for the inner Self-realization of the Being. But, what happens? One is put into schools where one receives a false education and much advice and precepts that are futile. In the end, one creates a false consciousness. The true consciousness within, with the deposited data that one needs to follow the footsteps, to follow the path, to arrive at the liberation of the Being, remains at the bottom, sadly categorized with the name of subconsciousness.” ―Samael Aun Weor, The Revolution of the Dialectic
He goes on to say:
“Therefore, we have to throw away all that constitutes our false consciousness in order to cause our true consciousness to emerge to the surface so that we can work with it. This shows us that in order to work psychologically, that is, in order to put the true wisdom into play, one needs to become a child, to become an infant, a baby, stripped of all theories.” ―Samael Aun a Weor, The Revolution of the Dialectic
So as a child we are talking about that state of cognizant awareness of life, perceiving things as they are, perceiving reality as it is, not as we wish it would be. Not a child in a naïve sense, but a child with the purity of the spirit and with the wisdom of experience.
So that means that we need to begin to strip ourselves of some of the theories. Sometimes we cling to our idea about life or the way that other people are, “what I need to do to get ahead,” all these theories might not actually have a basis in reality. They might be things we have been told by other people, things that sound good. It is only by working with our own consciousness, our own self-observation, our own meditation and guidance from within, becoming a child of divinity, that we are able to grow psychologically and spiritually to increase our true self. But we need to be able to abandon our self-deception in order to do that. As long as we are clinging to our idea and believing that the way that “I am perceiving life right now is how it is and I’ve got it figured out,” we are never going to see it in a new way. We are just going to keep repeating and living off of that.
So a question for us to finish with is, “What is false in us?” Hopefully, as we have been talking and giving some examples, you have been able to think about yourself a little bit. What we are going to close on with our discussion is considering, with a radical sincerity, with total honesty with ourselves, what it is that we have been investing our lives into, spiritually speaking, that does not have any spiritual significance? It is not to discard our duties to our family, to our jobs, to our society. It is not to run away from our responsibilities, but to use those as places in which we can self-observe, in which we can meditate on our life and use life as a school for our own spiritual development, to develop the truth of ourselves, to become those brilliant men and women that were mentioned earlier.
It is only first by seeing the lie that we are going to be able to renounce it. As long as you do not see the lie, or you believe that it is the truth, you will never be able to see beyond it. So we need to start by looking at ourselves, not at other people, not at anything else going on in the world. Until we can see ourselves, then we are not able to see anything else. We start with self-knowledge and then we grow in knowledge of other aspects of reality, the universe and divinity.
Do you have any questions?
Comment: I do have a comment on the last slide that you showed us, you must become a child… Jesus quote… to enter the kingdom of heaven you must become a little child…
Instructor: Yes, he says, “Verily I tell you, unless you change and become as children you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” It is in the Book of Mathew. It is the same sentiment exactly, that when we are hoping to reach a higher level of being, we have to first become pure like a child.
This is a transcription of an audio lecture from Beginning Self-Transformation, originally given live at the Gnostic Academy of Chicago:
Humanity is unaware of the complete potential of the human being. This is evident when we study religion, mystical traditions, meditation, primarily because we have beings and figures who manifested the greatest ideals of humanity: compassion, selflessness, wisdom, inner strength, patience, and faith. This is a type of knowledge and experience grounded in reality, not merely in belief or a theory, but from actually knowing through experience. This is the essence of Gnosticism, the Greek word γνῶσις gnosis: knowledge from experience, from one's first-hand account and direct perception of the truth.
So there are beings who fully manifested that truth. We call them avatars, prophets, masters, enlightened ones, buddhas, angels, gods. These are all different names, different terms, that point towards one reality―that we have the potential to become like that: perfect, awake, aware of reality, and primarily, the origins of suffering, the origins of pain―why we go through life on repeat, mechanically, identified with all of “the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,” to quote Hamlet.
For this course, we have been explaining and discussing, precisely, the means and the methods to overcome suffering, which of course relates to what we call mechanicity, the mechanics of nature. We spoke previously about the human machine: how our body is a transformer of energy, a transformer of food, air, water, but also vitamins, chemistry, principles, forces. Our human machine, when it is well, when it is balanced, knows how to maintain a state of homeostasis, of equilibrium, of health. When we get sick, when there is a break in the mechanics of that machine, we get ill and we suffer.
While this is a very specific example of our human organism, we also state that our thoughts, our feelings, and our will to act, are also mechanical―in most people. It is a machine. We tend to go through our day, repeating the same thoughts, repeating the same emotions, repeating the same actions without really comprehending how our own mind, our own thinking, our own ways of behaving, produce conflict.
The origin of suffering is psychological. It is internal. But sadly, many people do not ever question what the origin of suffering is. In most cases, we like to externalize: that yes, perhaps a system, a type of politics or machinery is imposing on us, and that can be true to a degree. But the manner by which we respond to life has greater force, greater impact, than anything.
When our human machine, our body, is in balance, we have health. But likewise, the mind and the heart, when they are imbalanced, when they are afflicted with negative emotions, with anger, with resentment, with anxiety, pain, fear, pride, lust, hatred, we become imbalanced beings. We are afflicted, and we go through life indulging in these negative habits, these qualities of mind, these conditions, which make us repetitive, mechanical, machines.
But there is a way out of suffering. This is what every religion teaches: how to cease being a machine, a mechanical being, so that those energies which come to us from nature, from our food, from the water we drink, the air we breathe, the impressions we take into our mind, those become transformed with consciousness, with attention, with awareness.
In that transformation, we have understanding of life. We don't go through life suffering, repeating the same mistakes, and not knowing the origin of pain. For example, perhaps at work a person insults us. The impression of that comment enters our mind and then there is a transformation that occurs in the moment. Suddenly, we have a surge of emotion, a surge of thought, that “This person insulted me.” It could be pride, but it also can be anger.
This is an egotistical reaction. It is a condition of mind that we typically do not question. We do not look at the origin of that process, of that mechanicity, of that machinery, so that, to that person, we respond, or better said, we react unconsciously, with anger or resentment, or criticism. And then suffering continues. This is the concept of samsara in Buddhism: cyclical existence, cycling, repetition, being on repeat, like a broken record.
But there is a way out of those types of situations and sufferings, to cease being mechanical. In the moment that person says a negative word, insults us, says something painful, but if we were awake, aware as a soul, as a consciousness, we can see and understand that the person who insults us is in suffering. They are afflicted with the disease which is ego, egotism, and a sense of self that is the origin of pain. By learning to understand the other person and the source of their pain―perhaps they have a tragedy in their life, a suffering, a conflict in their home―much of our own personal investment in that comment ceases, dissipates, is calmed.
In that way, we have peace. We have understanding. We have serenity, because if we are not aware of how our own mind reacts, and if we don't question our own reaction, we give in to that element. We call that ego, egotism, desire, negativity, conditions of mind. But in order to achieve that type of transformation, it requires a lot of intelligence, a lot of effort, a lot of will.
Precisely, it requires methods of transformation. There are techniques by which we can achieve that state moment by moment, day by day. But if we are content with our state, obviously we don't question where does our pain come from. This is why many people never approach a type of spirituality, or meditation or studying. But people who do, feel an inquietude, a longing to change, and that quality originates from our divine nature, which is Being, divinity, presence, which is not outside, but in the heart.
So the purpose of this lecture is to examine how to connect with divinity with precise methods, with intelligence, with wisdom, so that when we face specific conflicts in life, we transform them. We do so with understanding, with intelligence. We reduce our own negative reactions and transform them into comprehension, into peace.
The Three Brains and Nervous Systems
The way that we examine this process is by examining what we call three brains.
As we began our meditation today, we talked about the human machine, the human body as a temple. Our body is a temple with three floors, and in some Buddhist artwork, you can see traditionally, especially in the map of the nine stages of meditative concentration, a Buddhist monk ascending up a winding path, leaving a pagoda with three floors. In those traditional paintings, this is a representation of the human machine. Three floors: thought, feeling, and action―thought relating with our head, emotions with our heart, and will with our spinal column. We call these three brains.
A brain traditionally is associated only with the intellect, the cranial vault, the cerebral matter, but in profound esoteric studies, a brain is defined by a type of machine. It is a processor of force, of action, of intelligence, of will. A brain processes, physically, nutrients, chemicals, molecules, processes, vitamins, foods, etc. A brain has its material component within different aspects of our body, but on a deeper level, a brain in esotericism refers to how we process thought, emotions, and will.
“The first brain is enclosed within the cranial vault (our head, our spinal column. (This is known as the cerebral spinal nervous system.). The second brain concretely corresponds to the central medulla, the dorsal spine with all of its nervous branches (This relates with the grand sympathetic nervous system, the heart, our emotional qualities, the nerves). The third brain is not located at some specific place nor is it related to a specific organ; indeed, the third brain is constituted by the sympathetic nervous plexuses and, in general, by all the specific nervous centers of the physical organism (This is known as the parasympathetic nervous system).” ―Samael Aun Weor, Fundamentals of Gnostic Education
So the nervous systems in our body is a type of fluidic, material component that helps the body to transmit information. But in us, this tends to be very mechanical, unconscious. We are not aware of the process, usually of thought. This is evident in our daily life.
In most cases we tend to think mechanically. We are washing dishes and we are thinking of something else. We are on the “L,” we are riding the train, we are thinking of other things, and then if we were to snap to attention, in the moment, we forget what we were even thinking about. The mind was wandering. Our thoughts were elsewhere. Likewise, with emotion, the emotional brain, the heart. We are processing emotions and feelings, and sometimes we may not be even aware of why we are sad, or upset, or angry, or anxious, but that we are compelled by this mood in the emotional center without knowing why. That means that we are profoundly asleep.
We don't know why we think what we do, why we feel what we do, and also in relation to the third brain: the motor-instinctive-sexual brain, which is the spine, the sexual organs and the base of our head, or base of our neck―we usually don't understand why we act in certain ways, and this could be evident by extreme cases such as in a crisis.
In a moment, we have to act, respond to a very serious situation, but perhaps we mistakenly behave in the wrong way. We make an error and later we reflect, “Why did I do that? Why did I act mistakenly in that instant?” We may feel remorse, pain.
So these three brains, these three machines: the intellectual brain, the emotional brain, the motor-instinctive-sexual brain, these are mechanical instruments that can process negative qualities of mind, or if these centers are pure, can reflect divinity. And this is the essence of why we study the three brains, why we study the nervous systems, because it tells us our level and quality of being.
Equanimity within the Three Brains
I have been giving you examples of how our own egotism, our own negativities, our conditions of mind, misuse our thinking, our emotions and ways of acting. But we have to understand too that these three brains, these machines, are receptive when they are calm, through states and practices such as meditation.
In most people, our thoughts tend to be very chaotic, sometimes our life. Our emotions can be up and down depending on the situations of life, and our behaviors can be conditioned or negative depending on the degree of the person. If you examine yourself in meditation, you sit down and relax. You observe your mind. Observe your heart. Observe your body. What we usually find is a lot of chaos: thoughts all over the place, wandering. Emotions surging with pain. The body tense, sick, agitated, wanting to move. There is no stillness. This means that our three brains are imbalanced. They are not operating in an optimal way, and the way that you figure that out is by observing.
In our meditation, we were relaxing, looking. That means that our consciousness, our soul, our Essence, our buddha-nature, is actively looking inside at the origin of thought, the origin of feeling, the origin of will or impulse―not trying to repress the mind, the heart, the body; not trying to justify what we see either: to defeat it, to strengthen it, but looking. This is the key of awareness, which many teachers like Eckhart Tolle, many Buddhist philosophers, many Muslim, Christian, Jewish mystics all point towards. They all teach that we need to observe our human machine.
Observe the origin of our qualities of being, so that by looking at them, we can see. Is this thought correct? Is this emotion correct? Is this action correct? And so when you work to look inside, we start to awaken perception. This is the meaning of religion, to awaken consciousness, to awaken the soul, so that by first acquiring serenity of mind, heart, and body, we learn to access types of experiences, which are not normal, not accessible to the average lay person. These are mystical experiences. These are connections with the divine, because in the meditation, we are looking to calm the mind.
The mind, when it is clear like a lake, when there is no rippling of thought or agitation, likewise with the heart and the body, and when you physically fall asleep, let your body rest, but your consciousness is awake, you can experience states of being in the dream state, but not dreaming, not unconscious, but to be awake in that world, so that you want to communicate with what religions called divinity, whatever the name. That way, we acquire knowledge and intelligence, understanding, experience.
But to do that, we have to take care of our human machine, our nervous systems. Eat well. Drink good water. Take care of our body. Exercise. Meditate. Relax the body. Relax the mind. Relax the heart. Learn to observe and be aware throughout the day at what reactions emerge in us in a relation to certain situations. In that way, we transform our state. Also, learn to take in good impressions of life: exercise, sports, soothing music, activities that help to balance these centers so that they are calm; they are serene.
Energy, Tantrism, and the Infinite
So this trinity is very important within many religions. We have an intellectual brain, we have an emotional brain, and we have a sexual brain, sometimes referred to as the brain of action, movement, instinct, which is synthesized in the base of our sexual organs, but also the spine.
In Buddhism they spend a lot of time talking about tantra, which simply means continuum, and as you see here in this image of a man and woman, you find the symbol of the holy eight, the infinite, in which all the forces of these centers or parts of our machine are circulating energy properly. The energies rise from the sexual glands, go to the heart, to the brain, likewise circulating back again to the heart, then the sexual glands.
In Buddhism, there is a plethora of scriptures and teachings relating to how we use energy. It is one of the most important aspects of that tradition, especially, one of the highest levels of teaching, because how we use our energy determines our health mentally, emotionally, physically. How we take care of these three brains determines everything, determines a state of mind that is conducive for meditation, but also awakening within internal states, which we call the dream state, the dream world.
The Dalai Lama spoke a lot about the importance of energy, how we use our energy, because if we invest our energy in negative thoughts, negative emotions, negative will, we deepen suffering. But likewise, if we learn to understand how these energies work through awakening, through meditation, we learn to process those forces in a conscious way.
“In the view of Tantra, the body's vital energies are the vehicles of the mind. When the vital energies are pure and subtle, one's state of mind will be accordingly affected. By transforming these bodily energies we transform the state of consciousness. (We awaken. We attain states of experience which are very profound). It is vital to understand and develop the conviction that consciousness has the potential to increase to an infinite degree.” ―The 14th Dalai Lama
This is paralleled in the teachings of the Christian Gospels, especially by a very famous verse in the Book of Mark, chapter 12 verses 28 to 34, in which a lawyer, I believe, asked Jesus of Nazareth, who is a great master of meditation, about what is the highest commandment. What is the highest teaching that one can follow to really obtain the meaning of religion? Which is from the Latin religare, “to reunite,” reunion with divinity.
“Regarding the First Commandment, Jesus answered, ‘The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: Jehovah Elohim our God, Jehovah Elohim is one.’” ―Mark 12:29
So that term Jehovah Elohim is Hebrew. It refers to the teachings of Jewish mysticism called Kabbalah, which we study in this school and also in our courses. You may be familiar with what is called the Tree of Life, which is a map of the soul from the lowest levels of materiality to the highest. So that map is a means of understanding experiences in meditation.
As I said, you can awaken and dreams and you enter those dimensions when the physical body is asleep, so that you can converse in those worlds with your own divinity, which the mystics of Kabbalah call Jehovah Elohim: a beautiful name.
"And you shall love Jehovah Elohim your God with all of your heart, and with all of your soul, and with all your mind, and with all of your strength." ―Mark 12:30
So notice here, this excerpt is talking about the three brains. To love one's God with one's thoughts, one's emotions, ones will, one's energy. These are the three brains.
What does it mean to love God in that way? It means that when we are at work, and we are criticized and we feel anger boiling inside, wanting to react, to say something hurtful, negative, instead, we love divinity by being aware of that element and not acting on it, but having compassion, by acting ethically for the benefit of others. This is the sacrifice of one's negativity, and is the beginning of religion. We do not act on negative qualities because it harms others, but also in a basic way, it harms ourselves. We create problems. And by loving God―or loving, better said, our Being, our presence, that quality of mind that is compassion, selflessness, understanding―we deepen that and cultivate that quality.
“The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these.” ―Mark 12:31
So this is the essence of the Christian Gospel, “love thy neighbor as thyself.” If we feed anger, we don't love our neighbor, we instead love pain. And in that way we produce and contribute to all the sorrows of humanity.
The Path of Balance and Vital Currencies
So it's important that we understand that the three brains, in ancient cultures, were always cultivated, were always developed in a balanced way. For those of us here who have perhaps worked in education, might know that in the modern era there is a profound emphasis on the intellect at the exclusion of everything else. And this is a great problem with academic knowledge today. It does not take into consideration the need to balance everything: the emotions and our body in harmony. Usually there is too much emphasis placed on memorization, rote knowledge, intellect, but of course, the ancient societies and cultures knew that in order to really develop a balanced person, a happy person, all three brains must be cultivated, balanced, developed.
This is because each brain has its fuel, has its energy, and if you have studied teachings like that of Gurdjieff, the Fourth Way schools, they talk a lot about what is interestingly called Bobbin-Kandelnosts. This is a language from the internal worlds. It's a term that refers to vital currency, vital money―not material, but energy.
The intellectual brain has its currency, its energy, its fuel. Likewise the heart, the emotional brain. Likewise the spine, the body, our movement, our sexuality has a type of energy and fuel that it needs to operate effectively. When those values are abused or spent, then the car doesn't drive, doesn't operate well.
If the intellectual brain is abused, meaning, too much energy is being spent in the mind through too much intellectual activity, that produces mental imbalances, sicknesses, diseases such as schizophrenia, delusional disorders, qualities of mind that are very common in this humanity.
Likewise with the heart. If the emotions are churning with negative qualities, with anger, with resentment, people develop emotional sicknesses: depression, anxiety, fear, of which the medical profession is very aware of.
And likewise, the abuse of the motor brain, too much movement, too much exercise, that is out of balance―people become physically ill, paraplegic, incapacitated, in a wheelchair.
The ancient societies, whether of Greece, Rome, Chaldea, Babylon, these cultures knew in their heart, in their origins, that the three brains must be balanced, must be harmonized. Because if we waste our money, esoterically speaking, we spend too much money or vital values from our intellect, we become sick in the mind. Likewise, the heart and the body.
“The great law has wisely deposited within each of the three brains of the intellectual animal a definite capital of vital values (Bobbin-Kandelnosts).” ―Samael Aun Weor, Fundamentals of Gnostic Education
So we explained previously in this course how we are intellectual animals. The word animal comes from anima, meaning “soul,” to “animate,” to have life. And we know from the animal kingdom that they have behaviors such as competition, pride, resentment, anger, etc. Those belong to the animal kingdom. Because we have an intellect, we rationalize, we think, we are intellectual animals with the potential becoming truly human, a perfected being like Jesus, like Buddha, Moses, Krishna.
“Saving such capital prolongs life, whereas squandering such capital produces death.
“Even if this seems incredible, the truth is that―within each person―death is processed in thirds. It has already been demonstrated completely that every illness has its basis in one of the three brains.” ―Samael Aun Weor, Fundamentals of Gnostic Education
So we explain this how abusing the mind relates to mental illness, emotional illness, physical illness.
“The basis of a fundamental education lies in the intelligent cultivation of the three brains. In the ancient mysteries of Babylon, Greece, India, Persia, Egypt, etc., students received direct, integral information for their three brains by means of precepts, dances, music, etc., intelligently combined.” ―Samael Aun Weor, Fundamentals of Gnostic Education
So it's not enough just to have a hodgepodge of activities, but better said, to be used with balance and harmony. This is the origin of ancient theater, Greek theater, even British theater. Or exercise, sports, competition, music, art, painting, sculpture, etc.
“The theaters of ancient times were part of education. Drama, comedy, and tragedy in combination with special mimicry, music, oral teaching, etc., served to place information within the three brains of each individual.” ―Samael Aun Weor, Fundamentals of Gnostic Education
This type of teaching used to be spiritual. The ancient schools of mysteries, of Gnosticism, from whatever continent, always taught a spiritual wisdom of how to awaken the soul from its state of slumber, from its ignorance. It did that in the form of art, music, sculpture, painting, poetry, etc.
Unfortunately in these times, much of our art, theater, dance, etc., has forgotten this, but the origins and reason why these media existed was to communicate something profound. And if you are interested in learning more of how these spiritual teachings were present in different traditions, you can look at chicagognosis.org. We have a whole course dedicated to Opera, called The Secret Teachings of Opera, in which we explain the symbolism of certain artwork to communicate these ideals, these principles.
“At that time, students did not abuse the thinking brain, since they knew how to intelligently use their three brains in a balanced way.” ―Samael Aun Weor, Fundamentals of Gnostic Education
So again, the human machine is made of thought, feeling, and will, impulse, instinct. We spoke previously about ego, egotism, desire, the mind. The word ego in Latin means “I.”
Of course in modern pop psychology, we like to think that someone who has a big ego is somebody who is very proud or likes to put themselves before others. But in esotericism, the word ego is more profound and in fact relates to everybody. The sense of self that says “me, myself, I: my feelings, my culture, my race, my identity, my sexuality, my beliefs, my theories, my politics―me, myself, I.” That is ego, the sense of self we have now―egotism, ego, the sense of identity we have―is conditioned, unfortunately, but there is a way to transform that mechanicity, those negative qualities into something creative, something intelligent, that is for the benefit of oneself and others.
The “I” operates through our three brains. Sometimes we refer to this as five centers as we explained in the previous lecture: the intellectual center, the emotional center, and then through the spinal column: the motor-instinctive-sexual centers.
Movement relates to our spine at the top, because if someone is injured at the top of the spine, they can't move. They can't act. They have no ability to operate well.
You have instinct at the base of the spine, which is related to our animal inheritance, our animal past. Animal qualities like pride, resentment, etc., survival instinct.
And then sexuality relating to our glands.
The Ego and the Five Inferior Centers
So our ego, our “‘I’ exercises control over the five inferior centers of the human machine.” ―Samael Aun Weor, The Perfect Matrimony
So as we stated, our own negativity, our conditions, our egotism, uses our thoughts, feelings, and will to operate. Of course, in those examples I provided you, when we react to life in a negative way, in a conditioned way, it is because of ego.
The ego is operating through our heart, through resentment, but also has thoughts. “This person wronged me,” and then the will to act, the will to behave, to respond with criticism. So notice that ego, each desire, each fault, has its own thinking, its own feeling, its own will, its own ways of behaving.
We also explained that the ego is not one. It is not an individual self, but it is multiple. Every defect: pride, resentment, anger, fear, lust, desire, is a multiplicity. It is a fracturing. This is very easy to see in ourselves if we are honest. In one moment, we may love somebody, in the next moment, we hate them. We like to attribute that quality to an individual identity. This is the failure of Western philosophy: to think that the self is unitary. This is a big mistake, which the Eastern religions and traditions understand is at fault, because in Buddhism, they always talk about some samskaras, kleshas, veils, conditions of mind, aggregates, defects.
Pride is a different ego. Fear is a different ego, hatred, etc. These are senses of self that don't have any order, and if you observe your mind, you pay attention, you can see that process in yourself. It is not pleasant to recognize that we are a multiplicity, but it explains many of our own contradictions. But of course, there is a way out, to acquire what we define as genuine individuality, which is sacred.
Real individuality is like that of a prophet, a self, a being that has no errors, no faults, no anger, no anger, no pride. They disintegrated the ego. And this is the meaning of the great religious battles within Christianity, Judaism, Islam―between God above and the devil below. This is not just about something external, but something psychological, because anger is a demon. Pride is a demon. Fear, resentment, the seven capital sins, whatever we want to refer to that as, is demonic. Therefore, we have to learn to eliminate those faults, comprehend them, so that we no longer go along with the mechanicity of life, suffering in those states. Because when you eliminate egotism, you extract the soul. You free the genie from Aladdin's lamp, in order to perform miracles in your state of mind.
Because when anger is eliminated, we develop sweetness and serenity. When lust is eliminated, we develop purity of body and mind. When pride is eliminated, we develop humility. When we annihilate anger too, we also develop compassion. So when the ego dies the soul is born.
This is the Christian allegory of resurrection. When the impurities die, the soul is reborn. It is revitalized. It is new. So to get to that point, we study our three brains. We observe our thoughts, our feelings, and our will, to understand how they function.
“Whosoever wants to dissolve the ‘I’ must study its functionalism within the five inferior centers. We must not condemn the defects; we must not justify them either. What is important is to comprehend them.” ―Samael Aun Weor, The Perfect Matrimony
So this is a type of spiritual work, or as different traditions state, a type of warfare, in which one confronts oneself. This is the meaning of jihad in Islam, the esoteric meaning. It does not mean to kill someone who is not of your faith, but psychologically, we confront the causes of our own suffering.
We must not repress what we see, neither justify them. One must comprehend these elements. It is not enough just to label something and push it away, to not look at that state. And of course, it is very difficult to do. It's very unpleasant, because the mind doesn't like to acknowledge its faults. This is well known within the counseling profession, psychology, in terms of repression, where clients do not like to look at the origin of their traumas, their pain, their suffering. This is the type of resistance in the mind not to see that.
Neither must we justify our faults.To say, “Well that person deserved my comments, my resentment, because they wronged me.” This is also a wrong state of mind. We have to comprehend how those elements function in us. This is comprehension. This is understanding, because when you comprehend an error, you can work towards its elimination, and then we have peace, understanding. This is a the method for awakening, direct perception, awareness.
“It is urgent to comprehend the actions and reactions of the human machine. Each one of these five inferior centers has a whole set of extremely complicated actions and reactions.” ―Samael Aun Weor, The Perfect Matrimony
This is very easy to see if you observe. For example, if you put your hand on a hot stove, you feel pain. You react. You pull your hand away instinctively. You move. And then you feel the emotions and the pain of that experience, where you feel anger, perhaps, followed by the thoughts that hurt: “I shouldn't do that.”
There are all sorts of complicated processes in this one moment in which our body moves. We feel. We think, but typically we don't observe that process. So the work of transformation is precisely beginning with awareness, self-observation: observing one's mind, emotions, etc., from a state of equanimity, of dispassion. Neither looking to judge, nor to label, nor to repress what we see, but simply gather data about our states of mind. And in that way we comprehend the origins of suffering.
“The ‘I’ works with each one of these five inferior centers. Therefore, by deeply comprehending the whole mechanism of each one of these centers, we are on our way to dissolving the ‘I.’” ―Samael Aun Weor, The Perfect Matrimony
Or to use Christian terms, dissolving satan, the lower soul.
The Different Paths of the Three Brains
In the process of developing the three brains, we also talk a lot about different types of paths that existed. There have been paths in the world that had become firm traditions.
Fakirism: The Path of Physicality
There are people who simply want to develop their body, the ability to overcome pain, pleasure, sensations, impulse, instinct. We call that fakirism, and you find a lot of these cults exist today, where people are only dedicated to the body, overcoming pain, such as walking on hot coals, simply because they want to prove that they can dominate the physical body.
But of course, the problem with this path is that it is extreme. It is unnecessary. It develops will, but it does not develop understanding. The ability to overcome pain is not the not the primary focus of real spirituality. So in fakirism, people lie in a bed of nails. There are people who, literally fakirs raising their hand for 15 years until they lost all nerves and feeling in their arm, so that they couldn't move it.
The point and the question is, why do that? What's the point? Because they felt that by controlling the motor-instinctive-sexual brain, the body, that somehow they were going to reach God, divinity. Of course, this is a mistake.
Fakirism is very limited, unnecessary. Spirituality is not predicated on overcoming pain, physically. It is not the whole gamut of self-transformation.
Monasticism: The Path of Emotionality
Likewise, there is the path of emotionality, of monks, monasticism, emotion. There are people who feel that religion is only about developing the heart: praying, going to church, performing rituals. They feel that this is the only way to God, divinity, but also this is mistaken, because the emotional brain by itself is not enough.
We have to cultivate the body. We have to cultivate the mind. And so, these traditions, which originally were very sacred and developed all three brains at once, were balanced, but unfortunately, with time and traditions, things become habitualized, mechanical.
In most churches or synagogues or monasteries, they only develop the heart through prayer, which is good. It is beautiful to develop that and necessary, but to only do that one thing is not enough.
Yoga: The Path of Intellectuality
And lastly we have the path of intellectuality, of yoga, when we talk about the three brains. This is the path of scriptural study, the intellect, because when you study meditation, you have to read about it. You have to learn from somebody what the steps are, what the principles are, what the path is. Many people feel that simply by reading books and studying with the intellect is enough. But unfortunately, this is also mistaken, because people who tend to read a lot at the exclusion of the heart and the body become imbalanced.
Becoming a giant library or walking library still can't resolve the problems of suffering, because having a lot of intellectual knowledge doesn't make one wise. Instead, knowledge that is applied to practice is wisdom, is essential.
These three paths related to the three brains. These are the lower paths that relate to spiritual traditions.
Energy and the Tree of Life
On the image here we have the Tree of Life, which is the Jewish mysticism, the Kabbalah. This is a map of different levels and gradations of energy, of materiality, of perception, and we use this glyph in this course and in these studies because they teach us about ourselves. It is a map of the soul of where we are and what we wish to achieve.
This image can be used to interpret any tradition, any religious cosmogony. It is associated typically with the science of numbers. So you notice that there are ten spheres here: three trinities and one sphere below at the bottom. If you are familiar with Christianity, we know that they are very identified with the Trinity itself, which we call Father, Son, Holy Spirit. Or to use Egyptian terms: Osiris, Horus, Isis. Amongst the Nordics: Wotan, Baldur, Thor.These are principles, not people. These are forces. These are energies that exists inside of us, which we can learn to cultivate if we know how.
Below that trinity we have seven spheres which are very important for our practical development. At the bottom, we have our physical body, physical energy.
We also have vital energy, creative energy, sexual energy.
We have emotional energy.
We have mental energy.
We have energy related to volition or will.
Then we have energy relating to consciousness, conscious perception.
And then we have the spirit, spiritual force.
The term spirit in strict esoteric language is Being, is divinity. It is the divine in us, the highest, or one of the highest forms of force, which we seek to practice and develop through our exercises that we have in this tradition.
It is important to remember that while we want to balance our three brains, while we want to use the energy as well, simply holding onto energy is not enough. Saving energy is not enough.
We talked a lot about in alchemical traditions, European traditions, how one must become hermetically sealed, according to hermetic philosophy. It is a very old tradition, which is depicted through symbols. Hermeticism means to not let out any energy at all, neither to waste energies of the mind, the body, or the heart.
What is important is that while we save energy, by not acting on ego, by performing spiritual action, compassionate action, we also learn to direct that energy with will, with perception, with understanding. That is the key.
Comprehend how the energies of thought work. Comprehend how the energies of emotion work. Comprehend how the energies of instinct, movement, and sexuality work. That is how we become a Tree of Life, a Christmas tree that is illuminated with perfection, because without energy there is no light, no force.
We can say that our intellectual brain relates to mental energy, the sphere below, the fourth of the bottom. And of course, in strict Hebrew terms, these are called sephiroth, which means emanations, spheres. Sephirah is singular. So this sephirah, relating with the mind, is the fourth in the bottom. It is our intellectual brain.
We also have the emotional brain, relating to the left, the third sephirah from the bottom.
And likewise, we have movement related to our physical body.
We have instincts relating to our will, our impulses, our ability to act in life.
And we also have creative-sexual-energy. These constitute the motor-instinctive-sexual brain.
It is important to remember that yes, we must save energy, but we have to know how to use the three brains, which is why Samael Aun Weor, the founder of the modern Gnostic tradition states the following in The Great Rebellion:
“No matter how much we might increase our strictly mechanical energy, we will never awaken consciousness." ―Samael Aun Weor, The Great Rebellion
So that means by controlling the body through fakirism, overcoming sensation, the body, movement, one does not awaken.
“No matter how much we might increase the vital forces within our own organism, we will never awaken consciousness." ―Samael Aun Weor, The Great Rebellion
That relates to vital breath and yoga. If you are familiar with yoga, they talk a lot about pranayama: interchangeable nostril breathing, in which you circulate vital force, prana, in Sanskrit meaning life: the life energy throughout your body, your mind, your heart. It is not enough just to work with that energy, to circulate it. It is important, but it is not the entirety of what one must do to obtain yoga.
“Many psychological processes take place within us without any intervention from the consciousness." ―Samael Aun Weor, The Great Rebellion
This relates to emotion, the heart. So notice that consciousness is not the body. It is not physicality. People like to think superficially, in American culture and also abroad, that we are the body, that our appearance determines who we are, and sadly this is what many people believe. But the reality is that we are not the body, because we operate in the body. People often look at others and say, “I wish I could look as beautiful as that person.” It means that we are not the body, because we're thinking outside of that.
Neither are we the vital energies that we have within in us. We need vital energy to operate, to be awake physically. Sometimes in the morning, we have more energy, or in the evening we feel tired. That relates to our vital forces.
And likewise our emotions, our emotional energy. We tend to invest a lot of our identity into it. We tend to feel that we are really our emotions, whether it be anger, pride, resentment, etc. However, in strict spiritual terms, our emotions are not the consciousness, the soul. The soul is even deeper than those qualities.
So “Many psychological processes take place within us without any intervention from the consciousness.” This is something we have to discover for ourselves by observing our mind, our heart.
“However great the disciplines of the mind might be, mental energy can never achieve the awakening of the diverse functions of the consciousness.” ―Samael Aun Weor, The Great Rebellion
Meaning: reading a lot, studying a lot―having a lot of theory and knowledge in the mind. It is good. It is important, but it is not the totality of what we need to awaken the soul.
“Even if our willpower is multiplied infinitely, it can never bring about the awakening of the consciousness.” ―Samael Aun Weor, The Great Rebellion
So it is admirable that one has a lot of will in life, to survive and to thrive, but having will is not enough. Will has to be directed by our inner Spirit. As Jesus said, "Father if it is possible, take this cup of bitterness from me, but not my will, but Thine be done." So we have the will to go up towards higher states of being, or to go down. It depends on our actions. But even if we have a lot of willpower in life, it is not exclusive of the other spheres. Willpower is important, but even that must be directed and balanced, because notice that willpower, volitional energy, is at the very center.
It is very important, because if you take this image of the tree, you put it in a human being, you find that the top trinity relates with the head, the middle trinity relate to the heart, the lower trinity relates with our thighs and our sexual glands. The lower sphere (Malkuth) relates to our feet.
Our willpower can also relate to our heart, our emotions, especially in a higher sense. And so volition determines where we go. How we behave and how we act with will determines everything. That is why it is a much more subtle and refined element and very difficult to pinpoint, but something we can experience. Our will can either follow our divinity, or negativity and egotism. So willpower is not enough. It has to be directed.
“All these types of energy are graded into different levels and dimensions, which have nothing to do with the consciousness.” ―Samael Aun Weor, The Great Rebellion
Which is the sixth sphere from the bottom to the top in the left pillar.
“Consciousness can only be awakened through conscious work and upright efforts.” ―Samael Aun Weor, The Great Rebellion
So in our tradition we have a lot of practices that we use to develop the intellect, the emotions, and our body. We have yoga practices. We have sacred sounds or prayers, mantras. We have yogic positions. We have teachings of tantra, sexuality, marriage, matrimony, working with creative force, pranayama. We have exercises called the runes, which relate to the Nordic alphabet, in which we put our body into certain positions in accordance with the letters of the runic letters, in order to assimilate energy and force, to awaken the soul. We have meditative practices too, many. We use all these exercises in balance because they all take these forces and cultivate them in a conscious way.
Having a lot of energy is not enough in life. We can have a lot of vitality, will to act, a lot of energy in the mind, the heart, but we have to learn how to use that potential in a very intelligent way, which is the meaning of this quote. It doesn't mean that we have to disregard these forces below the consciousness. It means that we know how to use them. Because remember the soul is like a person driving a car. These spheres, these energies relate to how our car operates, our body operates. A person can have a lot of fuel in their car, but they can be reckless with their attention and they can get into an accident. So if we know how to drive our car well, take care of the car, feed it good fuel, that is what we drive to our destination.
The Three Factors
All this is synthesized in the Passion of Jesus who came to represent, with his physical life, these principles. So one thing is the man of Jesus of Nazareth who existed, who taught humanity a very vital teaching, and one thing is what he symbolized. He represents a type of willpower, of conscious work, that is: the ability to overcome all suffering, as we saw in the Passion, of his Crucifixion. He was ridiculed, spat upon, mocked, humiliated, beaten, tortured, killed. And yet throughout that entire time, he only said “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.” So he was very conscious, had no pride, no anger. And he was showing a type of work that overcomes adversity.
Perhaps in life we have our own passion to go through, our own crucifixion, which is very painful, where we face ordeals and circumstances that are very difficult. But by learning to develop compassion, eliminate mistaken states of mind, we balance our three brains.
In the Book of Matthew chapter 16 verse 24 you find the principles of the three brains represented.
“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, ‘If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow me.’” ―Matthew 16:24
We call these three factors of spiritual awakening.
Birth, which means give birth to the soul. Learn to conserve your energy, especially the creative sexual energy, and then learn to direct it with will. We do that through exercise of yoga, the perfect matrimony, pranayama, many exercises, to take that energy, and instead of expelling it, we learn to conserve it, transform it. It gives birth to the soul. It awakens the soul.
But also one must deny oneself, meaning: negate all the impure qualities of the heart, as we have been explaining extensively.
And also to follow him, or divinity. So it is important to remember that we are not predicating or pushing for the worship of the physical personality of Jesus. Instead, he represents what in Gnostic terms is called Christ, which is an energy. And if you look back at the Tree of Life, we refer to Christ as the top trinity, or more specifically the second sphere. Because above is the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit. Jesus of Nazareth came to embody that force in his life to teach us something practical. So the top trinity can be called Christ, Krestos, which means “fire” in Greek. It is the fire of life in our body, in our three brains, that gives us life and spirituality. If we use it for divinity, it transforms us.
“Any man will come after me, he must deny himself,” negate his negative emotions or her negative emotions, “take up the cross and follow” him or divinity, our inner divinity, our inner Spirit.
The cross is a very beautiful symbol, which of course is not understood at all today. While it is a symbol of sacrifice, it is also a symbol of sexual teachings, teachings of tantrism in Buddhism, teachings of genuine yoga, the highest spiritual teachings. Because the phallus is the vertical beam, the uterus is a horizontal beam. Together, when a husband and wife unite, or a couple unites, by training their mind, cultivating the energies of love, they awaken the full potential of the being.
This is very well known within Buddhism, the highest teachings. Or amongst the Sufis in Islam, Marifah. Amongst the Gnostics, it is Gnosis. Or amongst the Jews, Daath, the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil―symbols―that teach these truths.
To follow divinity is to affirm God, affirm our Being, which means to work for the benefit of humanity, not for our own selfish desires, but for others, with compassion.
These are important principles. We are going to talk about these three factors in more depth later in this course.
And so the Gnostic path is the balance of those three, the three brains, the three paths: fakirism, monasticism, yoga. The Gnostic path is the union and balancing of all three. It is the harmony, the synthesis, which you find represented in this image of the Rosicrucian Cross. And the Rosicrucians were a very ancient Gnostic order that once had a lot of value in life and teaching, which we study.
Notice that in this image, you have a lot of symbols which are very abstract. You have astrology, relating to the planets. You have the Hebrew letters circulating around a rose of spirituality. You have pentagrams, and all these intricate symbols which simply point, in their synthesis, in their representation, towards forces in the heart and the mind and the body.
A pentagram is really a human being standing upright―hands out, feet out, head towards the heavens. It is a symbol of the perfect human being. Meaning: the head is following divinity. It is positive, but some people have misappropriated that symbol by turning it upside down, which is an inverted image. It means that one's reason is going down into negative states called hell realms. This is the black pentagram or the pentagram of the black sabbath, which is a different path, a very negative one, in which one develops one’s conditions of mind intentionally.
All the letters of Hebrew which are symbols of principles from Aleph, the first letter of Hebrew to Tav, the final letter. These are symbols. These are representations of forces, which we all find synthesized in the harmonization of what we call the cross, a symbol of a matrimony, because when husband and wife cross themselves physically, they awaken spiritual energy, especially. If they know how to cultivate that energy well, conserve it and keep it sacred, in truth, they become a perfect human being. This is the secret teachings of all ages, which is now being made public since the 1960's in the writings of Samael Aun Weor.
This is the path of Taoism, balance, harmony.
“The Tao Path includes three paths, and Tao itself is the fourth. Much has been said about the four paths. We Gnostics travel along the fourth path in full consciousness. During the sexual act, we transmute the brutal instincts of our physical body into willpower…” ―Samael Aun Weor, The Perfect Matrimony
So this is a term that is very interesting: transmutation, transformation. This is known as alchemy: taking the brute lead of our negativity and transforming it into the gold of the spirit. It is a symbol. It does not mean that people were actually in Europe trying to turn lead into gold. There were some people who did think it could happen, but it is a symbol. You transform your lust, your desires, into purity, perfection. And you can also transform the seminal matter, and by conserving it, we can transform it into spiritual force that gives birth to divinity in us. The brutal instincts or passions of the body become will, a strong will, a profound will. Also:
“…the passionate emotions of the Astral Body into love…” ―Samael Aun Weor, The Perfect Matrimony
And the astral body relates to the vehicle we operate with in dreams. So people often talk about lucid dreams, out-of-body experiences, awakening in dreams. That is a truth relating to, again, higher dimensions, which we access when we physically go to sleep. So the physical body rests and the soul travels mostly unconsciously in that realm, dreaming or projecting dreams, not being aware of what is around. So the emotions of this astral body become transformed into love:
“…and the mental impulses into comprehension.” ―Samael Aun Weor, The Perfect Matrimony
So these are the three lower paths synthesized. We don't have to become fakirs, lying on a bed of nails, to develop will. Instead we have other practices which are much more expedient and useful.
“As Spirit, we perform the Great Work (which is religion, religare, reunion). This is how we travel along the four paths in practice. We do not need to become fakirs for the first path, neither monks for the second, nor scholars for the third. The path of the Perfect Matrimony permits us to travel the four paths during the sexual act itself.” ―Samael Aun Weor, The Perfect Matrimony
Of course, this is a very high teaching, the highest ideals, because love is the greatest religion. A couple can learn to use all the energies they have, to “love thy God with all thy mind, all thy heart, all thy soul and all thy strength” (Matthew 22:37-39). Really, we get most of our strength from the sexual energy. It is what gives us life, and people who deplete their sexual energy excessively, they become weak.
The word virya in Sanskrit means “strength.” It is where where we get the word virility, virtue. The virtues of the soul blossom like a rose upon the cross of a marriage. So husband and wife can learn to use these forces to transform themselves and balance all three brains. But of course, we have many techniques and explanations about how to do that, which we will be talking about successively in our courses. But in synthesis, we want to state that by balancing our three brains and understanding the different traditions that have existed in the past in our humanity, we acquire understanding and harmony.
Questions and Answers
Question: I do a lot of academic work and sometimes I do feel that kind of intellectual depletion, but then I am able to keep going through that. How does esotericism explain that second wind?
Instructor: Yes, so the second winds symptom relates to, basically, when you use too much energy in one brain, unfortunately that brain, because it is depleted, it has to get energy from somewhere. So what it does is that it steals energy from the other centers, and that gives one a second wind, which you feel revitalized, re-energized, you are able to get back into work to do whatever one is focused on.
But that type of high is, in reality, negative, because we were tired an hour ago, but then suddenly we have more energy and we become hyper-manic sometimes, where you feel like you have more energy, you have to keep working. That is because the mind, the intellect, is depleted, and it starts stealing fuel from the sexual center. The sexual energy is the most powerful. Literally, it is the ability to create a human being, to create life, but it is like rocket fuel. It belongs in its center, in its form of modality and operation. If you put rocket fuel into a car, the car will be destroyed, and so gradually people who abuse the intellect keep losing their energy, they start stealing energy from the sexual center until it finally, over time and successfully throughout their life or even other lifetimes, destroys the mind.
Question: Does that work in another direction like, you know, if I deplete my sexual energy and steal energy from other centers in that way. Is that harmful too?
Instructor: Yes, that is the reality too. If we lose the sexual energy and don't conserve it, that throws everything out of balance. And of course, this is the original sin mentioned the Bible―eating from the Tree of knowledge of Good and Evil―which has a lot of profound symbolism and hidden meanings, which we can explain. But in synthesis, if we deplete the energy that gives us life, it means that one is going to be weaker, spiritually speaking. And so that center will steal energy from the other centers.
But you have to think of the sexual energy like the foundation of everything that we are, because we come into existence through the sexual act, that force.
Now, you know the vital energy, we place a lot of emphasis on that part of in this teaching, because virya is the source of virility, virtue. That energy is literally the force that animates, and in this teaching, we talk a lot about how by conserving that energy, which can normally create a physical child. You take that same potential, and by circulating it through the vehicle of tantra―the continuum working throughout the different brains, like the image you saw with the man and woman with a symbol of the infinite―that revitalizes the mind, the heart, the body.
There is a lot more science coming out now. People have been studying the role of continence or chastity, which doesn't necessarily mean abstention from sex. It simply means using the sexual act in a significant, meaningful, loving relationship, with purity. Immaculate conception, sometimes people refer to in terms of the birth of Jesus. Again, another symbol. While the birth of Jesus was something physical, he represented something profound for us. We can give birth to the golden child of Christ through that very same energy. But of course, in order to do that, Mother Mary must be virgin. But the reality is that to be virgin does not mean to not have sex. It means to be pure in sex. So there is a very profound distinction there.
You know, Mother Mary is the matter, the mater, the matter of God, which is your body. Your body is a temple, which, when it is purified through practices, when it is made virgin and pure, it becomes holy, and then you can take that energy to create something else. That is what one wants by conserving it, transforming it.
We have a lot of material relating to this topic, especially. It's not my intention to talk about all the profound symbols of that path, but that is the essence of Taoism, the Tao, the path of balance. By working with that energy that can create life, you balance all three brains. You perform a continuum of energy. Continuum is tantra, and if you study Buddhism, they talk a lot about tantric marriage, literally seeing deities in sexual union, but not with lust. With love. A very profound difference.
Any other questions?
Question: So it seems like, from what you’ve said, sexuality can be useful on the spiritual path rather than outright repression of it. That is what I get from many spiritual traditions, it seems.
Instructor: They avoid the sexual aspect of religion and unfortunately, that was castrated from Christianity. But Jesus said, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh. That which is born of the Spirit is Spirit” (John 3:6). You can create a child physically through the act that everybody knows, but through alchemy, to fuse oneself with God, one can in a marriage, cultivate that energy in a sacred way.
It is sad people reject that part of their teaching, which is in Judaism, Christianity, Islam, every tradition. So I invite you, if you are interested in learning more about the symbolism of those traditions, we have different texts available. You can read them here or purchase them here, but also you can go on gnosticteachings.org, which has a lot. All the books we have here, especially The Perfect Matrimony, you can go online and read. It talks about all that. You know, we like to be very specific. That's the one part of religion that has been missing, is how to use that energy.
It has never been taught publicly because it wasn't allowed. It's such a volatile and powerful thing to use that energy, that it has been kept secret for millennia. But now we live in a very different era, in which this information is allowed to be given openly in accordance with divinity since the 60s, especially. The sexual revolution, interestingly enough. So I invite you to study that if you are interested.
Question: (paraphrasing) That seems like that went from, when you were talking about the sexual revolution, like we are free from the repression, and it seems like you burned yourself out. I noticed that in myself. I grew up in a very conservative, church type of family... But then I was in the military and I had more choice than at home, and I discovered that there is this other side to it… Burned myself out as well.
Instructor: Exactly, and the thing is, that according to every tradition, sexuality is a door to liberation, but also the door to hell, because it is the most powerful element we carry. We can create life with it. It is the power of divinity to create, and so there are two ways to use that for us, which sadly, monasticism, it avoids. That tradition originally knew the sexual teachings and they practiced in secret with the nuns. A monk would train individually, doing energy exercises to learn to train themselves before they got married, and they were brought together with a nun. Monk and nun working together, but in secret, because it is such a scandalous thing for people to think about.
It is a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense according to Peter, the stone of the Gnostic Church; Patar in Latin. So that is the teaching that has been cut out, but now we teach openly because it is the essence of religion. Literally, man and woman uniting together is a form of union, religare. If they love each other and learn to conserve that power, they can turn water into wine, and that is the first miracle of Jesus at a wedding. Husband and wife, the waters of the creative energy, could become the wine of God in your spine, rising up. Some traditions call it Kundalini. Some people call it the fire of Pentecost. Beautiful symbols.
Another Instructor: So when you said that there are three ways, one is to not have sex at all, to repress it, one is an overindulgence where it is abused or lustful way, and then this middle path. You know of the Tao, which you are talking about with sexual alchemy, where the sexual act is engaged in, but in a way working with that energy consciously and in purity, and transforming that energy. So there is not just two ways, but there is a middle path.
Instructor: Yes. Thanks for correcting me, because in that image I had of Jesus with the “deny yourself, pick up your cross, and follow me” quote, relates to this teaching. There are people who like to justify all the types of animal behavior that exist in relation to sex through pornography, sadomasochism, behaviors that are really degenerate and causes a lot of suffering for humanity. But then there are people who like to repress sex saying, “Oh, that's filthy. It's all disgusting. I want nothing to do with it.” Two extremes. Neither are right. Neither of them are the path of balance. To balance the three brains, one has to know how to use that energy in a sacred way, neither by justifying lust or repressing lust, but looking at it directly.
Audience: Transforming lust into love.
Instructor: Transforming lust into chastity as well. Chasity mean purity. It doesn't mean abstention from sex. This is a confusion created by people who hate sexuality, because they, usually from lifetime to lifetime, they go to extremes: indulging in lust, repressing, indulging, repressing. This is the pendulum that keeps people hypnotized, but in reality, religion, the middle path, the path of genuine Tantric Buddhism, is by learning to take the sexual act and make it something sacred. It doesn't have to do with going to a church or synagogue or mosque, or believing in a tradition, or being repressive. It means enjoying the delights of love in a pure way. And that is something that is very difficult to do, but is gradually developed.
In Buddhism, this is emphasized in his life story, the story of Buddha, how he became an ascetic. He used to be a prince in a palace with many women. He had everything provided for him. He was lustful, indulging in desire, but then he realized the reality of suffering, that he will die one day. People are afflicted by old age, sickness, and death. Therefore, he decided to embark on the spiritual path. He became an ascetic, a fakir, going to the wilderness, meditating all day, living off only off a grain of rice, until he became emaciated and nearly dying. And he was in a lot of suffering, because he thought that this would take him to divinity, to his inner Buddha nature.
But then what happened was that he, I believe he was near a river, in which he heard someone playing a lyre, and then he realized: you can't make the strings too tight nor too loose in order to play music. You can't go to extremes: rejecting sex, indulging in sex. Instead, he realized that one has to use that sexual act in a different way, in a harmonious way. That is when a woman came up to him with a bowl of rice milk, and offered to rejuvenate him. When he drank that, he immediately became enlivened again. He no longer was emaciated. He became whole.
That is a symbol of a marriage: a woman offering him a bowl of milk made of rice. That grain is the sexual seed. It is the energy that is transformed and enlivening the soul. So he knew at that point, symbolically, as a teaching, that you can't repress sex. You can't justify it. You have to look at it in a balanced way, in a spiritual way: the path of balancing the three brains, because the rice milk―milk is a symbol of semen, of energy, how you take that energy, transform it, raise it up your spine to your mind, to your heart. That is how you balance your three centers or three brains.
So in Buddhism, there is that teaching. Very beautifully hidden. You find that in the life of Jesus, even Muhammad in Islam, many teachings relating to different prophets who represented this alchemical path.
We like to be balanced. It's not healthy to indulge in desire. You can look at humanity today. Prostitution rings, all sorts of, you know, filthy practices, which are really harmful. But it's not enough just to run away from it, and it's what people do in religion. They think religion has nothing to do with sex, that they can go to church, pray in the form of the cross and then they go home to the bedroom and act like demons. That is not religion. Religion is all three brains, and the original form of the cross, one points toward the head, the heart and to the sexual organs, and then raising it up to your left arm, to your right. Most Catholics, they do the head, the heart, left shoulder, right shoulder. They ignore the sexual glands.
Real religion is Father, Son, Holy Spirit. The Father, the energies of divinity, the Father in the head. The energies of the Christ, the Son are in the heart, the emotional brain. And the energies of the Holy Spirit is sex. So take the energy of sex, we do the head, the heart. When you gesticulate, then from sex you raise that energy up to your left shoulder over your heart and to your right shoulder. That is how the Gnostics perform the cross. This is what we do, because it symbolizes: take that energy, it descends from the Father, the Son, to the sexual glands, and then you consciously elevate it, bring it up for your will, relating to your left arm, in accordance with the Kabbalistic teachings, the lustful mind, bringing it to your heart and then your right arm which relates to your Spirit. So some symbology there that is very interesting.
Religion, yoga, is purely sexual. But of course, this topic offends many people because they either look at it with lust or as something to be repressed. But really, a marriage is one of the Holy Sacraments of the Gnostic Church and the Catholic Church too, but obviously, we try to go in more depth.
Question: It always seems like a contradiction how in one point like you said, the church has castrated the teachings of Jesus: teaching that he was not married when a lot of the texts reference his relationship with Mary Magdalene, and how marriage can be elevated into such as high sacrament when they are preaching celibacy and these types of repressive teachings, and what seemed more power exertion to control people rather than the actual teachings that were originally presented.
Instructor: Yes, and you find that in the Catholic Church, because the priests that do not work with the energy, they conserve it but they don't circulate it, they become very imbalanced, which is why you find, in any tradition really, people who practice celibacy, there are a lot of cases of homosexuality and molestation of children in the Catholic Church. There are documentaries, even on Netflix I believe, there is a few going―one going around, where these priests, because they don't know how to work with that energy, to cultivate it in a conscious way, that fire needs to act, but if it is not being directed spiritually or used to awaken the soul, it feeds desire.
Repressing doesn't resolve the problem. Pushing it away doesn't resolve the issues of lust or impurity. Instead, confronting it, take the energy, bear up the cross, deny yourself, deny your desires. That is the whole path. Monasticism only works with the heart, yoga with the intellect, and fakirism only with the physical body. But to be balanced, work with everything. Work with the creative energy. We have exercises to develop will and the heart through prayer. So balance is best, and unfortunately people don't know how to really approach sexuality in a balanced way. But obviously that is something that can be learned.
Question: That’s interesting because I mean, I read lot of things and have investigated orthodoxy for a period of time as well because of the greater depth of spirituality in orthodoxy. You will get a lot where they talk about the monk, the highest order of being: this is the one closest to Christ.
Instructor: Yeah, and it is in every tradition. Every tradition likes to say we have the knowledge and we have the way. We don't claim that we are special. We give teachings that are practical and are helpful, but people decide that on their own and can determine that on their own.
Another Instructor: That is very Piscean. We talk in this tradition about the Aquarian Era, which began around the 60's and that now, teachings which used to be secret in the Piscean Age have become the era of open knowledge. The water of knowledge flowing. And so it used to be that people would go into these secret kind of schools, these mystery schools, and learn these types of teachings, as the instructor was pointing out here, about working individually as a monk or a nun, and then in secret, performing this sexual union. In ancient times that wasn't shown publicly, because it would have been scandalous, but in the Aquarian Era this knowledge became open, so no longer do we have to run off to the woods or the secret esoteric temple in the pyramids to learn this stuff. But you know many traditions cling to the way that it always used to be without the actual essence of that knowledge, the secret, the esoteric part of it still being alive in those traditions. Now, we have the shell and the forms and the empty kind of rituals, which seem beautiful and attractive to us, but always seem to be missing that fire which is, you know, Christ and the Holy Spirit―the living energy of religion which seems to have kind of disappeared from many traditions.
Comment: I mean I can sense it in the Mass that there is something to it in an energetic level. But then it's what do you after you leave and stuff....
Instructor: Exactly. Dion Fortune, who wrote a lot of esoteric books, stated that the reason why the Catholic Church has existed for so long is because it performs Mass in Latin, and those prayers in that language are very powerful, because Oatin is a sacred mantric language, one of languages of God amongst the many: Hebrew, the Nordic Runes, Sanskrit, Arabic, Chinese. Many languages have a powerful element that can invoke energy. So that serves like a conduit for those masses and prayers, in which divinity comes down from the superior worlds and is present there. But the problem becomes what to do with that energy, as you said, because those priests can attract and invoke God, but because their three brains are not circulating energy well, God can't enter into them, because if they don't work with the creative energy, they can't awaken.
If you remember that quote using the Tree of Life, “No matter how much we increase our strictly vital energy, it will never produce the awakening of the consciousness,” because saving energy and being celibate is not enough. You can save that energy, but if you don't direct it, it goes nowhere. And in fact that energy will be misused. It will be fortified or used to fortify desire.
Your three brains are a conduit. That is how you form tantra, the holy eight ∞ in your spine. And we talked a lot about the Caduceus of Mercury in medicine, but also a symbol of how from the sexual glands, there are energetic channels that rise up from the base of our spine and our sexual glands and crisscross up to the head in order to form the wings of the spirit.
So if you are familiar with, amongst veterinarians or doctors, they have that symbol as a symbol of medicine of healing, usually with the symbol of the Rune Hagal amongst the Nordics, a vertical beam with a cross like a six pointed star. It is a symbol of the cross, how the energies of sexuality circulate in the true master. And then, the spine with the wings of the spirit, the wings of the angels open. So when your three brains are fully harmonized and the energy of the Holy Spirit or the Kundalini rises up in a marriage, it awakens our spiritual faculties. That becomes the wings of the angel. And that also balances the three brains.
You have to be balanced in order to work with that energy. But when the priests are praying, they are saying, “God come into us.” Divinity is present. People, even who have a very asleep consciousness can feel that, which is why people flock to religion. They feel God there. But then the question is, “Well, what next?” The question is, you can approach the temple but your body must become a temple. Your mind, your heart, your sexuality, must become pure, so that God can enter into you, and in that way, the inner priest, the inner magician, the inner God, officiates inside of you. It gives you happiness. It is a gradual process though.
This is a transcription of an audio lecture from Spiritual Self-Defense, originally given live at the Gnostic Academy of Chicago:
Today's lecture is about spiritual self-defense, and it is the first in a course that will be ongoing, about how do we defend ourselves from the various challenges, obstacles, and attacks that we might face as we engage more seriously in our spiritual work.
The most important question I want to begin with is, what is black magic? For many of us who are new to this path, we hear it mentioned, and it might evoke some fear or uncertainty. So I want to clarify upfront a simple basic understanding of what we mean when we talk about black magic.
Yes, black magic does include demons and individuals who are in physical bodies out there, performing rituals and cultivating energy, whether through sexual practices or other rituals― that we don't teach in our school, specifically―in order to be able to gain more power over other people and in the internal worlds. However, to clarify, the power that those people are gaining is fortifying their ego, which means that they will have power in the internal dimensions of the inverted Tree of Life, what we call the hell realms, the infernal dimensions.
Our goal on the white path of initiation is to enter into the higher levels of consciousness, to enter into the divine and heavenly realms, and it is important to know that black magicians, as much power as they may have in the lower realms, do not have power in the higher realms in which the divine law reigns. Some say that in the hell realms, whatever is the divine law is inverted, meaning that what is against the law in the divine realms becomes “the law,” the mandatory law in the hell realms. So if fornication and adultery is against divine law, in the hell realms, it is mandatory that everyone must fornicate. Everyone must commit adultery. This is a basic example to give us an understanding.
Additionally, we have to realize that all of us on this path are trapped between the two realms. We have a bit of our consciousness which is free, which is longing for the divine, which is virtuous, with many beautiful spiritual qualities, and we also have a large percentage of our consciousness that is trapped in infernal psychological states. It is that part of our consciousness through which black magicians can manipulate and control us.
And so, whenever someone is trying to control the will of others, to steal energy from them, by getting them to lust after them, to envy them, to worship them, whenever a person is trying to dominate others, confuse others, manipulate others, or hurt others, this is black magic. As you can tell with that general explanation, many of us in many points in our lives have used black magic. We have used our mind and our cleverness in order to try to manipulate or harm others, but at the same time we have also tried to get others to lust after us or to be envious of us, to make others feel that we are better than them. These are all forms of black magic.
And so while yes, we are looking out for black initiates, individuals out there who have actually been initiated into black paths and are working with black tantra, magical forms of energy manipulation and control of the elements, in order to gain power and steal power from others, our biggest weakness, when it comes to self-defense, is that we ourselves are very egotistical and we are very easily controlled.
The Buddha Gautama said that “It is a man's own mind, not his enemy or foe, that lures him into evil ways.” About a year ago, I was watching the opera Parsifal, which many of us know from the books of Samael Aun Weor, specifically the book Parsifal Unveiled, and in the particular rendition that I was watching, there was a powerful scene when Parsifal, who represents the pure but foolish young initiate on a quest to save his Lord, has to enter into the kingdom of Klingsor, representing our egotistical foe. And Parsifal, once entering this kingdom, has to pass through a garden filled with beautiful and seductive women. Because of his purity of heart he is not seduced by these women and is able to enter into the chamber, in which he meets the temptress Kundry, and what happens from there, you'll have to watch the opera to learn the rest.
But as I watched the scene, it struck me that Parsifal did not need any weapons to defend himself from these beautiful and seductive women, because he in his mind was strong. If we have a fantasy in our own mind of a attractive man or woman, and then that person comes into our physical life and begins to try to seduce us, manipulate us, get our energy, or get us to lust after them, make us fall off the path, so to speak, we are very easily manipulated and able to fall in that case. But if in our mind we have already seen the truth of this person, we have no temptation towards lust for them, and then they come and approach us with the same lustful behaviors in an attempt to seduce us, we have nothing to fear, because it will be much more difficult in that case for them to be able to control us. Our best self-defense is cultivating the purity of mind, heart, and body that makes it impossible for any black magician to be able to manipulate us.
I think that this quote from Samael Aun Weor in his book Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology sums this example up perfectly. He wrote:
"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. Wrong internal states convert us into defenseless victims of human perversity. 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
We need to know that in order to defend ourselves, our best weapon is to be conscious, to be awake in every moment, to be self-observing what is happening inside of us, and to be self-remembering our inner divinity, so that we behave with internal uprightness.
We behave according to our own conscience. This is not worrying about morality or what others will think of us, but knowing in our own heart we are doing what is right in God's eyes. And this is based on our own inner relationship with our own inner divinity that we cultivate through daily meditation and prayer. If you are meditating, you will have a better sense of what is a correct psychological state, because in certain moments in one's meditation practice, one can access this. What is my psychological state when I am, for a few moments, free of ego? And then when I sink back into an egotistical state, when I become identified with some defect, like pride or anger lust or envy, what is the change that I witnessed there? Because if I am self-observing, then I know if my consciousness is truly free and being guided by divinity, or if my consciousness is conditioned by a certain egotistical element in myself that I still need to further comprehend and eliminate.
If we break down this passage, which is filled with very deep wisdom, we see that it is possible for us to disarm beasts and unmask traitors by means of appropriate internal states. This means that if we are awakened, if we are self-observing, have our consciousness active and free of ego, we can see exactly how another person might be trying to manipulate or harm us. And rather than reacting with anger or with fear towards this person, we can become conscious internally of what is the correct response in order to protect ourselves, to guard ourselves in this situation.
When we have wrong internal states, we become defenseless victims of human perversity. If we have truly meditated in this tradition for quite some time, we are aware of the depths of perversity within our own mind. How often we wish to harm or control or dominate other people? And so we must have compassion for the human perversity that exists in others and be aware of it.
The best way to protect ourselves is not to let our own lust or anger or pride seduce us into wrong behaviors. As I mentioned in the example before, if we see an attractive man or woman and we are cultivating a fantasy, a lustful fantasy of the day that they will come and talk to us or ask us out and we are really putting a lot of energy, conscious energy into that fantasy, it is our own mind which has already set the trap for us. And when that person shows up in our physical life and begins to talk to us, it does not take much effort on their part in order to have a profound level of control over us.
Many times in our lives, perhaps we have had our heart broken or we felt betrayed, and the other person may not even have willingly done so to us, but it was our own mental state which set us up for that scenario. We have to recognize that as a consequence of karma, we have many ties to other people and each of these will play themselves out, and we must accept that because we have done wrong in this lifetime and in previous lifetimes, we will suffer. But, if we suffer consciously, and if we take those situations of pain and we transform them into an opportunity to learn about our own inner defects, to cleanse ourselves internally, to respond with more love and strength of heart towards the difficulties of life and towards our problems with other people, we will truly become an initiate, a warrior on this path, which is what we need.
It's a very difficult work. It's a work of a lifetime and not something easily achieved and not easy to follow through with. That is why these temptations come along in order for us to go to battle, to prove whether we are going to be defined for the will of God or whether we are going to fall fulminated at the feet of our own inner egos and defects.
Temptations are a chance for us to purify ourselves. However, most of the time we become identified with an event. We look at other people at our life situation as very real and as something that demands for us to react to it with a lot of self-esteem. When other people come along and insult us, or when life is not going the way that we had desired, we get identified. We have a lot of pride that comes out and says, “I don't deserve this. These people shouldn't be talking about me like that. They are so much worse.” Or “this situation shouldn't be happening to me. I am great and I have done all this hard work,” etc., etc. This is becoming identified with an event, and we will suffer much more through that identification.
It is much better to take a step back, to calm down, go for a walk or do something that calms us down, and then enter into meditation. Separate from our identification with the event and reflect on it serenely, allowing God to show us not what is wrong with the other person or what is wrong with the situation, or how can I change other people and situations to make them more the way that I want them to be, but rather, “what is it in me that is incorrectly responding to this circumstance?”
By understanding ourselves, which is truly the only thing that we can change, we will be able to find more peace. We will be able to radically change inside, and as we change inside, we know that the outside world will begin to reflect more and more our inner level of being. This is a process of alchemy, of transmutation, radical transformation of oneself from darkness, unconsciousness, and egotism, into light, selflessness and consciousness, unity with divinity. That is what we are doing. We are taking a heavy base metal like lead and transforming it into the purified gold of the spirit. This is a long work.
Events of no value, such as an argument with someone, which in the moment feels very serious and very real and causes a lot of anger in us, can bring us a lot of disgrace if we respond with that anger. However, if we transform that state, we feel peace with the situation. We accept it. We express kindness or compassion for the other person involved, then that event passes away. Everything passes away, is what Samael Aun Weor is writing here. If we keep that in mind, no matter how much we burn in the moment, we can find a rope to hold onto, a continuity of consciousness so that we do not lose our integrity over an event of no value.
Chastity: God’s Covenant
Most importantly, in maintaining the purity of our state of mind and of our soul, is chastity. For anyone who has been in this doctrine for some time, you know that we speak repeatedly about chastity as the renunciation of orgasm and the practice of sexual magic with one spouse, or the practice of pranayama: to transmute one’s sexual energy in a pure way for single people.
Chastity is our covenant with God, and when we break that covenant, we lose the divine protection which that covenant grants us. It is a very serious covenant to make, and I recommend that when you make that choice to commit to chastity as part of your spiritual practice, as part of your life, that you don't go back on it―that you fight with all of your being to preserve that chastity, because when one falls, depending on the severity of the fall, the consequences are very severe.
So we have to be very serious about chastity, when we take that step, because it offers us a lot of protection. What chastity does is it strengthens our inner connection with our inner Father, what we call the Innermost, related with Chesed on the Tree of Life, in Kabbalah, and with our Divine Mother, both of whom want us very much to succeed. This doesn't mean that difficulties will never happen to us because, of course, we have karma, and because we need to face our karma in order to develop our soul and to become strong souls to purify ourselves. But it does mean that we will have the comfort of the Holy Spirit with us in those moments, because our sexual energy is our direct connection with the Holy Spirit. And when we are transmuting and raising that energy up the spine, and conserving it in our body without ever letting that energy out, we are creating a hermetic seal in which our connection with God becomes stronger and stronger, and is never broken.
Years ago when I first took this step, I was seeing in a vision, in meditation practice, God's covenant with Abraham, and I realized that this symbol is about our sexual chastity. If you are familiar with the story from the Bible, God makes a covenant with Abraham that his seed will be as numerous as the stars. And this covenant is made because Abraham, at the time named Abram, was lamenting that he was childless.
This is our situation. We want to give birth to the soul. We do not want to be just an Essence, just the seed of a soul. We want to give birth to that child, that Christ child within our own soul. And so we go to God and we pray, “Give us a chance to achieve this work,” which is very sacred, and God says to Abraham that he must perform a sacrifice, an animal sacrifice.
Abraham does so, cutting the animals in two. Sometimes this is known as the covenant of the pieces. For us, it is important to realize that the sacrifice of the animal is the sacrifice of our own ego, all of those drives that cause us to become identified with situations in life: lust, anger, hatred, pride, gluttony, greed―all of these animal defects in us which are constantly controlling us and causing us to perform wrong actions that create more and more problems for us and for others. This is what we must sever, and of course the greatest example of the animal instinct is lust.
When we commit to chastity and we are renouncing orgasm, we are severing our ties with that animal. We are taking the animal instinct and we are taming it through sexual magic, or through pranayama if you are a single person. And we are transforming that animal into knowledge, into the power of God, the willpower of God. And this work takes time.
Also, the covenant that God made with Abraham required that all of his children and Abraham himself becomes circumcised. Obviously, this is a symbol of chastity: the circumcision while, yes, it is performed literally and physically, is truly about circumcising our own mind, our own animal instinct, and becoming pure in the way that we approach sex and sexuality. This takes time, and I recognize that preserving chastity is a challenge for many people, but it is the most important front in which we begin to define ourselves.
That is why I have listed here that we must master self-control. If you are tempted in a moment to look at pornography or to engage in some lustful fantasy of a person, to engage in behaviors that you know are directly counterproductive to your spiritual work that you are attempting here, you have to develop ways to control yourself, most importantly to control the mind. We often describe the mind as a donkey which must be whipped and controlled. This does not mean to repress and to beat oneself up, but merely in the beginning, find a way to redirect your mind.
If you are at home and you have access to things that will feed your lust, get rid of them, or go for a walk or read a spiritual scripture. Find a way to control yourself, and later on when you have calmed down, enter into meditation, and without becoming identified with what you are meditating on, pray for your inner divinity to help you, to keep your covenant. If you cannot control your own mind, then of course you are at great risk for black magicians or demons to control you.
When we engage in orgasm, we are opening up the doorway into the infernal worlds, and we are allowing lots of negative atoms into our inner bodies. So energetically, emotionally, mentally, we are filling ourselves with toxins and weakening our ability to be strong in our chastity. That is why we have to be very serious on this point, and why I put it so early on in this lecture. This is really the foundation of our work, and this is the way that people are so commonly swayed into the black path.
In many of the schools of black magic, they preach virtue and godliness and purity, and many of the same things that we teach in this school, but the defining difference between a white path and a black path is the orgasm. Samael Aun Weor says that if you are ever awakened internally in the astral plane and you believe that the person, the master who is talking to you may be a black magician, to ask them what they think of chastity, what they think of renouncing the orgasm. And without fail, if the person says to you that orgasm is good or orgasm is okay, then you know that this is someone of the black path and you need to protect yourself.
We will get into ways of how you can protect yourself in an encounter like that in a few moments. But the seriousness of preserving chastity just cannot be overlooked. Temptations come along to force us to define ourselves. If you fail when you are facing a temptation, learn from it. All of us fail when facing temptations, but this is not an excuse to give up or to just continue in bad behaviors. If we fail, we should feel genuine remorse, and we should meditate seriously on that circumstance or that failure, praying to God with our whole heart, day after day, for comprehension, and really creating the circumstances in which that comprehension can come to us, by meditating and separating ourselves from bad influences.
Additionally, even when we can physically preserve our chastity and maintain that in our physical lives, sometimes we are attacked internally and we may be seduced, whether by men or women, in the internal planes. And this can cause us to lose our energy, what we refer to as wet dreams or nocturnal pollutions. This can happen for both men or women.
So if you wake up and you know that you have experienced an orgasm or a wet dream, there is a remedy that you can make, the melon drink remedy. And I have a link to it in the resources that I mentioned earlier, also at the end of this presentation. So that link has a beautiful video which illustrates exactly how to make that melon drink, and to continue to make it until you are able to recover from that.
So if this happens and you lose your energy, continue to transmute, continue to practice pranayama everyday. Do runes every day if you feel that you have a very fiery sexual temperament. You may need to perform runes in addition to pranayama.
There is no limit on how much pranayama you can do. You can perform as much of it in a day as you need to. So if you are feeling particularly tempted, go outside. Go for a walk. Take a break. Come back and perform pranayama for as long as you need until you have calmed down.
Okay, so this bit about knowing the conjurations is really your homework. If I were to give you an assignment on how to protect yourself, it would be to begin today memorizing these conjurations.
Choose one. Pray it every night before you go to sleep, and whether you have written it down or you are reading it, the more that you pray it, the more familiar you will become with it. And just as you had to memorize things in school, some of these conjurations will be a little bit difficult to memorize at first, but it is possible. And truly, of all the ways to defend yourself, memorizing these conjurations is one of the easiest and most valuable to do.
Now the first one that I have listed here is not exactly a conjuration, but more a mantra for protection. Klim Krishnaya Govindaya Gopijana Vallabhaya Swaha. There are videos related to all of these mantras and conjurations at the end in the resources section.
So as I mentioned before, I am not going to go in depth into every resource, but give you an overview of where you should be looking, and then you will be able to refer to the videos and the articles on these very powerful prayers, in order to understand the true depth and meaning of each one of them.
Mantras of the Flaming Star
Now, Klim Krishnaya Govindaya Gopijana Vallabhaya Swaha will project a pentagram, a flaming star, in the astral plane.
This is also a mantra that you can repeat in your head internally, mentally, whenever you are feeling threatened in the physical world. Sometimes during the day, I do not feel threatened by other individuals, but I feel that my own mind is becoming sleepy or perhaps angered by a situation, and so in order to conjure my own mind, I will use this mantra mentally. No one else knows that I am doing it, but it truly helps me to focus. I notice more brightness of consciousness coming in as I use this mantra. It is very helpful.
So while it may sound a little complicated to memorize at first, it's one of the easier mantras that can really be helpful in many, many moments.
Additionally, with all of these mantras, which are often in other languages such as Hebrew or Latin, it is okay if you are mispronouncing them. Yes, the videos give us an opportunity to know how they should be pronounced, and there are some audio clips as well of one of the other instructors pronouncing them, but what is most important is the sincerity of your heart and prayer, your inner connection with divinity, your purity. So do not get caught up over whether or not you are mispronouncing it. There are some conjurations, which I realized I was slightly mispronouncing a word for some time and then I corrected it, but even before correcting that mispronunciation, they still brought a lot of force and power. So do not let the mispronunciation piece become a barrier for you.
The Conjuration of the Four
Next is the Conjugation of the Four. This refers to the four elements, and this conjuration is used to reject all of the legions of demons, which can manipulate the elementals in order to attack us. And so this is usually the first conjuration that one would say before going to sleep at night.
The Conjuration of the Seven
Additionally after completing the Conjuration of the Four, one would then say the Conjuration of the Seven. This conjuration invokes the seven archangels in order to reject the seven archdemons. And so, for demons which are more powerful and not able to be rejected with Conjuration of the Four, we can use the Conjugation of the Seven.
The Invocation of Solomon
And finally, the third prayer that one would use before going to sleep would be the Invocation of Solomon. So with these three, we can protect ourselves before we go to sleep and enter the astral plane. The Invocation of Solomon actually works with the entire Tree of Life to be able to draw the forces of God to protect us.
Fons Alpha et Omega
In addition to these, one of my favorites is the Fons Alpha et Omega. This is actually a variety of mantras combined into one conjuration, and it is very powerful for rejecting negative forces. It also can help us to penetrate the meaning of a dream or a vision, so you can say it when you are sitting to meditate and asking for greater clarity on an experience that you have had. This conjuration can be used to mirror back the attack that someone has directed at you.
So we have heard it said that one who lives by the sword falls and dies by the sword. If an individual is directing harm towards you and you use the Fons Alpha et Omega, this actually will redirect that energy back at the creator of that conjuration.
So in that sense, we must be very careful that we are not trying to use these prayers to harm anyone, but are keeping compassion for the ones who might be attacking us in our hearts whenever we are using them.
Finally there is a song that we can use before bed, which many like, which can invoke the Angel Aroch. So Belilin is a song which we must sing as we are falling asleep, and the Angel Aroch will come to protect us and be with us.
All of these prayers that I mentioned in the slide are in a Gnostic Prayer Book, which is sold in the Gnostic Store on gnosticteachings.org. As well, I have linked the Gnostic Store and the Gnostic Prayer Book in the resources section of this lecture, so that if you want to find copies of these prayers and have them all in one place to be able to memorize them, you can do so through that book.
So we will use these conjurations a lot in protecting our home and our body, and that is why I felt it was important to assign it to all of you as homework, that you really need to be memorizing them one at a time. And if you only have one memorized, go ahead and start using it all the time when you are praying. If you are walking around through the day and you are trying to strengthen your self-awareness, you can repeat that conjuration in your own head to give you strength of consciousness and to reject your own ego, your own defects within.
Additionally, in our home we want to include pentagrams. So a pentagram can be drawn with a charcoal pencil, which is something that does not leave a permanent, lasting mark on the floor, if you are worried about that. We also have some wonderful pentagrams which are very affordably priced on the Gnostic Store as well. So I have linked the Gnostic Store in the resources section for those who would like to buy them.
A pentagram should be placed on one's altar, and I will talk a little bit more about the altar. In addition to the altar, we should have a pentagram above our bed where we sleep at night and we should also have a pentagram at the doorway of our bedroom. When you place a pentagram in a doorway, you want to put the two feet facing out of the door so that if you were to stand that pentagram up on its two feet, it would be standing in the doorway. If we mistakenly reverse that, then we would be summoning negative forces into the bedroom. So it's very important that when you place it on the floor, you have the two feet facing out of the bedroom and the top point facing into the bedroom to reject the negative forces.
In addition to this, we have clear pentagrams, which you can place in windows. Some people as well like to place a pentagram in front of the doorway to their home. So again, with the two feet facing out of the doorway and the top point facing into the home. You can cover it with a rug if you are not wanting any visitors to see it. Clearer pentagram stickers can also be great for your car if you want a little bit of extra protection there.
A lot of those are optional, but the three main ones that we stress that Samael Aun Weor indicated are to have a pentagram on your altar, in the doorway of your bedroom, and above your bed.
Personal Space and Altar
Now I recognize that not everyone has their own personal space in which they can be displaying pentagrams. In which case I advise you to do what you can with all of the practices and techniques and strategies that I am giving in this lecture, and if it is something that is not possible for you because of your relationship with your roommates or significant other, then choose other ways to protect yourself. You don't need to do all of these. I advise all of them as best practice for those who are able, but of course, I recognize that not everyone will have the opportunity to do so, and that's okay.
If you do choose to draw the pentagram with charcoal, again, it's important that in the doorway, you have the two feet facing out of the door.
In addition to the pentagram we would like to create an altar. An altar is a space where we can pray and meditate, do our conjurations at night and this is where we can cultivate a lot of spiritual force. We can do runes there and practices, whatever we feel is our sacred practice in order to strengthen our connection with divinity.
It is great to have an altar. This can be a plain table. It doesn't have to be something elaborate, but it is a wonderful thing to do if you have the opportunity. So to give you a little more context on this altar, we are going to read directly from one of the resources that I linked.
Here are the Basic Elements for a Gnostic Altar:
“A Gnostic altar should be a table or stand of some kind covered with a fine cloth, usually white. Some even cover this with glass. While you can make the altar from anything humble and inexpensive, the best altar will be made from scented would such as cyprus, cedar, sandal, etc.” On the altar you should also include “a copy of the Gnostic Bible: The Pistis Sophia Unveiled” by Samael Aun Weor, and “representations of the four elements.”
So this could be “a continual light to represent the fire that always illuminates. Traditionally, this would be a candle or oil lamp, but in modern times (due to safety) you can use a small lamp or night light. However, during prayers, rituals, or meditations, candles can be safely and effectively used.” So this represents the element of fire.
For the element of water you can have “a bowl or a glass of water.” Keep this water clean. So you may need to refresh it over time.
To represent the air you can have “a feather,” and to represent the Earth, you can have flowers, a stone or something else of significance for you. Some people like to have a dish of soil.
In addition, on one's altar, we would include “a pentagram” as was already mentioned, and we would use “perfumes, incenses, or scented oils.”
I highly recommend that you use incense regularly. This draws a lot of positive forces into your home and it rejects negative forces.
So while we can of course use incense, if you are worried about the scent or you have a partner who does not enjoy the smell of incense, you can use essential oils. You can find a diffuser in which you can mix a few drops of essential oil with water and diffuse that scent through the home. Or you can of course put the essential oil directly on your skin in a small amount.
With essential oils, we recommend therapeutic grade. A lot of essential oils that are cheaper on the market have been diluted and are not pure qualities. So therapeutic grade is really the best that you can get when it comes to essential oils.
Beautiful Images and Sacred Environments
In addition, when we are trying to cultivate a spiritual atmosphere in our home, we want to have images, sacred images, like images of the Buddha, Christ, or any type of religious or spiritual master that really inspires you. This can be really powerful, and these of course can go on one's altar. You can put other sacred scriptures like the Qur’an, the Bible, the Sutras.
You can put sacred symbols like the cross or the menorah, and sometimes people like to include a symbolic blade, sword, or knife to represent the psychological work: to cut through the illusions of our own ego.
In addition, Samael Aun Weor wrote this about the home of Gnostic initiates:
“The home of Gnostic initiates must be full of beauty. The flowers that perfume the air with their aroma, beautiful sculptures, perfect order and cleanliness, make of each home a true Gnostic sanctuary.” ―Samael Aun Weor, The Perfect Matrimony
This is from the Perfect Matrimony and in The Yellow Book, he again emphasized that:
“Flowers, perfumes, symbolic pictures, and beautiful music contribute to creating an environment filled with wisdom and love.” ―Samael Aun Weor, The Yellow Book
When we talk about beautiful music, we are talking primarily about classical music that elevates the soul, not popular music of nowadays.
Prayer to the Aloe
In addition to be able to protect one's home, there is a prayer that one can do with the aloe plant. Again, this prayer is written down in the Gnostic Prayer Book. I believe it is also in Igneous Rose.
So the prayer to the elemental fairy of the aloe vera plant is beneficial in order to protect against negative forces. Every Gnostic home should have an aloe plant. Use this prayer to invoke its assistance.
“Cross, thou art holy and divine. Sorcerers and witches withdraw from this home. Such persons who intend to arrive here, let it be known that I am with God. Sovereign God, set me free from treason and from ruination. Blessed be the most Holy Mary and the consecrated host.”
After you say the prayer, bless the aloe plant with the sign of the cross.
Elemental Magic of the Maguey
Similarly, there is a ritual for a maguey plant (Agave Americana) that is very powerful to cut one's ties with the Black Lodge and to be able to conjure or reject any forces from a direct attack, if you suspect that a person is attacking you internally, and that prayer can be found in the book The Divine Science: “White Magic and Black Magic” if you are interested in learning about that.
Black Mustard Seeds
Mustard seeds can be used to protect us from psychic attacks. So you can purchase online small tiny jars with a cork to put in the top, and then mustard seeds are available again from the Gnostic Store. You fill four little jars with mustard seeds and you place them in the four corners of your home where they will be able to create a sort of force field in order to protect you from psychic attacks. This can be helpful if you feel that when you are sitting down to practice or as you are falling asleep, you are being attacked psychically.
The Circle of Protection
And finally, the circle of protection is very powerful for protecting one's home and can be done every night before going to bed. If you are living in a home with other people, you can also perform the circle of protection directly around the room in which you sleep. If you get up in the middle of the night and you leave the circle for example to use the restroom, then come back in and draw the circle again before you go back to sleep.
So the circle of protection can be drawn by circling the room three times with a sword, which again is an item that some keep on their altar, a sword or a blade or with the sword of one's own imagination. So when I do this mantra, I will chant the mantra “Helion Melion Tetragrammaton” three times as I am imagining the fiery light circling around my room.
This mantra along with that entire practice can also be found in the Gnostic Prayer Book which is linked at the end.
Now to protect one's body, you can wear a pentagram. Pentagrams I have seen available in ring form and also in a form of a pendant, which you can wear around your neck. Those pentagrams have to be consecrated through a ritual that have linked again at the end in the resources, so you can find more information about that.
If you are interested in buying one of these metal pentagrams, we have some contact info for someone who makes them in seals of metals in the back of a gold pentagram, and you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in that.
However, if you are not able to buy one of these nicer pentagrams, then you can go and buy a simple silver or gold pentagram, and that should be helpful as well.
In addition to wearing a pentagram, you can put sulfur in your shoes. If you are going to a place, for example a bar or restaurant for a work event or a family event that you feel you need to be present, then you can put sulfur in your shoes, and this will help to keep astral larvae off of you and negative influences so that you will be able to stay cleaner, psychically-speaking, throughout that day. And of course each day, you might want to put sulfur in your shoes, especially if you live in a big city.
Spiritual Strength through Blessed Food and Drink
The Eucharist is a very powerful ritual which can be performed using bread and grape juice, as symbolic wine, every day after you finish transmuting your energy. So if you are a couple, you can perform this ritual after sexual magic, and if you are a single person, you can also perform this ritual after you are transmuting with pranayama. This is extremely powerful in awakening your consciousness. This ritual is actually invoking atoms of Christ to come into your system and to protect you not only from forces outside of you, but also within you. I cannot recommend it highly enough, and so that as well as linked in the resources section of this.
The Microcosmic Star
We have an excellent video which demonstrates how you can form the pentagram, also known as the microcosmic star, with your body to invoke the Holy Spirit, to reject negative forces. And this can help you to protect your physical body.
And finally, juniper berries are a way that we can protect ourselves from contagion. I think that in a time like this, this is particularly relevant. So one can chew on juniper berries after blessing the berries and praying that that they will protect one from any contagion. And so if you bless the berries each day, that's sufficient.
Another great way to purify your home and your body is with a spiritual cleanse. The most common is a sage smudge. You can see it pictured here on the background of the slide. The sage smudge can be bought on the Gnostic Store, in any metaphysical book shop, and even Whole Foods sells sage. So it is pretty common and it's a good way to come home at the end of the night, after being out and about in the city or at work, and to be able to pray the Conjuration of the Four and the Conjuration of the Seven while you bathe yourself in the smoke of the sage. So you can light it, begin to pray and bathe yourself in that smoke by moving the sage smudge around your body. You can put out the sage smudge in a small bowl of sand and then you can use it again the next day.
Camphor is also an easy way to purify your environment. You can buy camphor incense sticks and you can burn them. This is a great purifying incense if you burn them around your home, whenever you feel that the energy is becoming a little bit too dense.
Rue, Sage, and Mugwort
A more powerful cleanse can be done with rue, sage, and mugwort. So these three herbs you can buy online or in a metaphysical bookshop. You would probably need to use a mortar and pestle to be able to grind them up into a powder. And from that point, you would use a charcoal censer, which is, usually in most cases, a small iron pot into which you can place a small hot burning charcoal. After a few minutes when the charcoal is heated up, you can place a little bit of the powder of the rue, sage, and mugwort mixture onto the charcoal. You can go around your home using the Conjugation of the Four and the Conjuration of the Seven, trying to move the smoke into the shape of a cross, in order to purify and bless your home.
I have heard it recommended that when you move into a new home, you can perform this cleanse for 14 days after moving in and then again every 14 days or every month, in order to keep the impurities out of your new home.
You can also burn sulfur if you are leaving for a few days. This is one of the most powerful cleanses. However, it is very dangerous to breathe sulfur in. So if you do burn sulfur in your home, make sure that you are going to be away for at least the rest of the day, if not for a weekend, and to keep a window open so that some of that smoke can get out of the home. If you breathe sulfur in directly, it is toxic and can harm your lungs. So be very careful with that.
If you would like to use sulfur in another way, you can take a little bit of sulfur powder, mix it into your warm bath, and bathe your body into that sulfur bath and be able to purify your body in that way.
The Egg Cleanse
Additionally, there is an egg cleanse. What you can do is you can begin with one egg and you can use two or three if you feel that you have a lot of impurities to remove. You want to rub the egg around your body in circular motion. All the parts of your body: your head, your arms, or legs, etc. And as you are using this egg, you are praying to your elemental advocate to work with the element of the egg in order to suck all of the toxins and impurities out of your internal body, your astral body, your mental body, your vital body. And then that egg, which is very gelatinous, will actually suck up the toxins from those inner bodies, and you should throw the egg onto a fire to destroy those toxins and expel them.
Some Gnostics like to say that the louder that your egg explodes, the more toxins that you had within you, so that can be an interesting twist on that cleanse as well.
So as you might have noticed with many of these cleanses, you are going to be using the Conjuration of the Four and the Conjuration of the Seven. If you don't have those memorized you can try to use another conjuration as well.
Relationships and Environments
In addition to all of these practical steps that we can take to protect ourselves, we should also be very aware of our relationships and our environments, and what types of elements we are inviting into our environments and into our relationships.
So, natural and religious sites can have a pure psychic atmosphere. This is what I find when I visit very old churches or temples. For those who were at the retreat in the Buddhist temple, I am sure you're aware of the very elevated conscious atmosphere of that place. Nature as well. Some say that God's temple is nature, so that can be a way to purify your mind, to purify your heart, to get away from the city for a little bit if you live in a crowded place, and to be able to invite some of those higher vibrations into your life. Being aware that those environments are positive and healing and can be good places to visit on a regular basis.
Conversely, places like bars, clubs, cinemas, cemeteries, etc., attract astral larvae. So astral larvae, we say, are like little bugs that will latch onto you and suck away your energy. They are attracted to a lot of Gnostic students because we are conserving so much energy through our transmutation practice. You can say that on the astral plane, we are glowing like candles with the amount of energy that we are conserving, and that is why the more serious you are in your chastity and in your practice, you may attract certain attacks. If you go to places like this because you are unable to avoid them for some reason or other, put sulfur in your shoes and cleanse yourself with sage or another form of a cleanse soon as you get home, if possible. This is the best way to try to keep your inner bodies clean if you are exposed to those types of places. But if possible, just try to avoid them altogether.
Additionally, we do not recommend seeing spiritualists, such as mediums, people who communicate with the dead, hypnotists, fortune-tellers, and people of that ilk. These types of people, even if they have good intentions, are many times letting in negative forces. Channelers as well come to mind. So while these people may think that they are communicating with positive entities and beings, talking a lot about Jesus or positive energies and things like that, much of the time, they unfortunately are being manipulated by other entities that are not so kind―entities that actually want us to fortify our desire rather than to become free from desire and to guide ourselves internally with the guidance of our own inner divinity.
You don't want to put your own mind and consciousness under the influence of another person. So if you go to a hypnotist, that is exactly what you are doing. Hypnosis means sleep. So we don't want to go and give someone else control over our mind. We want to develop the strength of our own soul and consciousness so that we can go and investigate any questions that we have internally. With the help of our inner divinity, we can pray and beg to our Being to take us to find the answers that we need.
I do not recommend going to places like that because interacting with individuals like this may expose you to negative entities, which can come internally and attack you.
More commonly, you should use conjurations mentally if you feel attacked. So I mentioned before using the mantra Klim Krishnaya Govindaya Gopijana Vallabhaya Swaha, whenever I feel a little bit uneasy with my own ego manipulating me. But also, if you feel that someone else is trying to manipulate you, or confuse you, or dominate you, you can try to center yourself in your Being, and you can be able to use that conjuration to protect yourself.
It is really, really important that you are not using conjurations out of fear or anger. We should be trying to use these conjurations out of compassion for the ones who are attacking us.
People who are trying to control others many times think that they are doing what is right, that they are benefiting other people, and so we have to have compassion for their level of being and for the harm that they are causing. This individual who is attacking someone is cultivating a lot of bad karmic consequences, things that will come back to hurt them in the future. And so we have to really have compassion for them, and by protecting ourselves, we are actually preventing them from cultivating more negative consequences for themselves.
In addition, we should try to develop relationships with morally sound people. So these don't have to be necessarily spiritual people. I know many people often complain that they don't have enough spiritual friends who are into this. What is really important is that you have people in your life who are living with integrity, who are honest, hard-working, exemplifying virtues that you can learn from. This is excellent.
Sometimes people involved in spiritual movements can be some of the least virtuous people, so do not depend strictly on someone's point of view on spirituality to determine whether or not they are going to be a good influence on you. The best way to find out if someone is a good influence in your life is to meditate on the experiences that you have with them, and to see if they are someone who is really helping you to cultivate your own character and your own integrity, or if they are someone that is constantly dragging you into problems and negative states of being.
There is a careful distinction there. If somebody makes you angry, that does not necessarily mean they are a bad person. It could mean that you just need to see your anger and that person is really helping you to see your anger, which could be a good thing. So meditation will reveal the truth.
But especially, I cannot stress enough, that your intimate relationships with people, your romantic relationships, should be with people that you consider morally sound, ethical people, people who are living an ethical life style.
The choice to have a sexual relationship with someone, which is considered by the law and by nature as a marriage, whether or not we call it a marriage, is a powerful connection to that person, which will have ramifications for future lifetimes. So the quality of the person that you have a relationship with is really essential to determining the future lifetimes that you will have. So if you are serious about overcoming suffering and elevating your level of being and your consciousness, you may have to make some hard choices about who you choose not to have in your life. Sometimes this means that you have to love people from a distance. We may have friends whom we care for but whom we know are not particularly good influences on us. So if we have friends who are, perhaps, always inviting us to bars and clubs, we could invite them to do something like go for a hike in nature or do something that is less negative. Or we may just have to distance ourselves from them. This doesn't mean to lose compassion towards them, but rather just to create an environment that is more conducive for our spiritual work.
Obviously, this is a very personal decision and none of us can tell you how to cultivate your own relationships. This should be something that you are continually reflecting upon, meditating on, and asking for guidance from your inner divinity. Because it can be very difficult to lose relationships, but in the long run, if we have relationships that are really draining us energetically and bringing us into bad behaviors and we really don't want to live that way anymore, by changing our own level of being, by changing our behaviors, we can attract relationships that will guide us into the direction that we have consciously chosen to go.
So just be conscious of your environments that you are traveling into and be conscious of your relationships that you have with other people. It's important when you are thinking about protecting yourself.
Our Greatest Enemy
Finally circling back to that original quote, our greatest enemy, our greatest danger to ourselves, is our own mind, is our own ego.
We need to create a lifestyle of spiritual protection. The conjurations, the incenses, and the mantras: these are great tools for us to use, but what is most important in determining the circumstances of our lives is our karma.
Karma is cause and effect. Whatever we do today, we will reap tomorrow. If you are practicing black magic, if you are going around trying to manipulate and confuse other people, trying to exert your own will on other people to get them to behave how you want them to, trying to dominate others to gain their respect, or force others to think the way that you think, even if it is about Gnosis or about spiritual topics, and you think that you are benefiting the other person, this is harmful. This is black magic.
We must respect the free will of all people. If we are abusing others, this is the number one sign that we ourselves will attract that type of manipulation from other nefarious entities.
So be careful about the way that you are living your life. Are you living ethically with remembrance of divinity? At the end of your day, ask yourself that question. “How did I live today? Did I remember my Divine Mother? Did I remember my Being? Did I live in a way with consciousness of what I was doing? Am I learning from my mistakes? Am I truly seeking to be virtuous and to sacrifice for others?”
This is the best protection we can ever have. When someone is angry at you, when they are insulting you, and when you take in those impressions and you transform those impressions into understanding of the pain and suffering of the other person, and you respond with sweetness, with kindness, and with love, you have protected yourself from that anger. And who knows, you may have radically transformed that situation into a very positive relationship with the other person.
So the best tool that we have is to be conscious, to be aware, to transform our situations. How do you respond to life's events? If life's events come at you and you have a lot of negativity about them, you have a lot of negativity about other people, then meditate on that.
Of course, we all need to start where we are at, and it is not good to just repress your negativity and pretend to be kind to everyone. You should act kindly to everyone, and then if you are feeling like being unkind, meditate on what is causing that. Is it anger? Is it jealousy? Is it lust? What is driving your response to life's events?
We should be less concerned and identified with what is going on outside of us and more concerned with what is happening inside of our psychological world. How are you feeling, thinking, and behaving towards other people?
To conclude, I will say that we have a duty to protect ourselves. If we are really working on this path, it is because we believe that there is a way to really serve God and help humanity in the process. And so when other entities try to seduce us, to manipulate us, to attack us, we have a right to protect ourselves and we have a duty to protect ourselves, because the work that we are doing at this time is very important.
Many many people are suffering and the work that we are doing to become better human beings, to connect with divinity, to follow the will of God, the guidance that we are receiving internally, is very important, because as we see every day on the news, this planet is going through an intensifying period of suffering. So the more that we are doing to preserve our covenant with God and to work with the three factors to strengthen our consciousness, to live ethically, to follow the guidance of our own inner divinity, the better it will be for us, for everyone around us, and for humanity as a whole.
So take spiritual protection seriously, and do what you can, but most importantly, know that by purifying your own mind through daily meditation and following God's guidance and comprehension, that is the best protection that you can have.
At this point I will open it up for questions.
Questions and Answers
Question: Thank you for the lesson. My question is with the sulfur. When you take a bath and or when you put it in your shoes, can you use it in your shoes every day?
Instructor: Yes. So what I what I usually do is, I put the sulfur directly in my shoe, and then I put a sock on. However, my husband puts it directly into the sock. I will say, though, if you wash your laundry, try to wash the sulfuric socks separate so that all your clothes don't end up smelling like sulfur.
Question: Then, how much?
Instructor: I just use a pinch in my socks. When you take a sulfur bath, again, you can use again just a pinch. If you feel like you are quite dirty, then you might want to add a little bit more, but it doesn't take a lot.
Question: Can you do that with your hands? You can just pinch it with your hands?
Instructor: Yes. To touch it with your skin is fine. You just don't want to burn it and breathe the smoke. That is when it's toxic. That's a great question.
Question: So the first question is what is your advice or experience with salons, such as massages or waxing salons?
Instructor: Personally, I do find that it's challenging to find a place where you feel that it's a good person cutting your hair or touching your body, especially with massage. People can definitely steal energy through massage, through touching you. In general, if you feel that someone around you may be trying to steal energy from you, don't let them touch you. Especially don't let them touch your back, your spine. That can be a way that people, black magicians, can steal energy. So yes, you have to be cautious with this.
I have been able to kind of feel out different places and find places where I think the individual is, you know, at least a decent person, but if you go to a place and you feel very uncomfortable, then yes, you should probably not go back. I know my husband in particular doesn't advise massages. But let's say that you have an injury and massage therapy is going to be helpful for you, just look around to find someone that you don't get a bad feel from, is my advice. I know that's still a little vague, but really, the longer you have been practicing, you might have a better sense of people's energy.
Question: Would having a pentagram at my door prevent demonic or possessed persons from gaining entrance? There's an unusual smell that comes about once or twice a week now for a month. It comes with headaches and pain elsewhere, but it goes away when I do the conjurations. Could this be a spiritual attack?
Instructor: Yes, it could be a spiritual attack, especially if it's going away when you're doing conjurations. That can be a sign that there's some kind of entity or attack going on there. So, again, protecting your home in the ways that we talked about can be really important if this smell, this entity is coming into your home. Physically, a person may still be able to come into your home if they are a possessed person and you have a pentagram at the door. But energetically, it's going to prevent those demonic and possessed people from gaining entrance.
Question: The sword. When you said to go in a circle. Does it matter the direction of the circle, you know in your room?
Instructor: Yes, I would visualize the circle around the floor. You would want to go clockwise. So if you are visualizing that circle being drawn around the floor of your room, then you would mentally visualize that circle being drawn clockwise, or you would spin clockwise around the room. So turning towards your right around the room in that way.
Question: If you are using our imagination, do you point if you don't have a sword, or just your imagination is fine? Just envisioning a circle, is that what you do?
Instructor: You can point. In fact, if you'd like to use the pentagram with your hand, what you can do is you raise your hand, you raise your thumb, index, and middle finger up, representing the three upward points of the star, and you would put your ring finger and your pinky finger facing downwards.
Using this pentagram, you can reach out and draw the circle as you would with a sword or a blade. However, if you are in a position where you can't physically draw that because maybe other people are in the room, then absolutely, you can imagine a point of light with your imagination, moving around the room and creating a flaming circle or a circle of light, circle of protection around the room. You don't need to physically point in that case.
Question: For egg cleanses, does it matter the source of the egg, for example a natural egg or a GMO egg?
Instructor: I would say with most things, we try to go with a more natural, organic egg. But in this case, whatever egg you are able to get a hold of should be okay.
Question: Is there a video on how to properly consecrate a pentagram?
Instructor: No, there is not. So you simply have to read the article. The article here in Answers Regarding Home and Altar, that is going to list I think five or six different articles. For example, one about the Eucharist, one of them will be about pentagrams and how to consecrate a pentagram (See Chapter One of The Gnostic Bible: The Pistis Sophia Unveiled). We have also had that question on the forum, and so you can log into the forum and read about that question as well. And you know if there is a certain point about that that you are not sure, then you can also log on to the forum and check.
Question: If I am being attacked and I asked an elemental if it is an alignment with divine will to heal the attacker, is that considered black magic?
Instructor: No. We can do healing rituals. As long as we have a center of compassion, then any conjuration in a sense is a healing ritual. If we are considering someone who is attacking us and we are really trying to reject the negative forces in them, we are really conjuring their ego, not their soul, so to speak. So we are really trying to help them, but this again shouldn't be done in a way that has a lot of hate.
Question: I do not feel I have any enemies or anyone out to harm me that I am aware of. Should I still take all of these precautions? Also related, are there groups of black magicians who are attacking the general populace? If so, how common are these groups?
Instructor: Okay, with the first question, I would say yes, and be conscious of if you notice a difference. If you take these precautions and you do notice that you feel a little bit more energized or more conscious of yourself, less susceptible to your own vices, then that could be a sign that there might have been some energy being drained away from you that you just weren't aware of.
In addition, the cleanses are good for everyone. I would say, try doing a sage cleanse at least, once a week, or some form of cleanse once a week if you can, because in our world, anywhere we go, we are probably picking up astral larvae. So it's good to do that to protect ourselves.
Are the groups of black magicians who are attacking the general populace? Yes. In fact, you know a common example of black magic is advertising, right? We are trying to get others to agree with our will. We want someone to buy our product, not because it will help them, but because we want their money. We see black magic all the time in cinema and on television and many places, when we see sexual degeneration or pornography, things like that. That is all tapping into the entire population's energy.
And so I think we can see that it's pretty abundant in our society. Right now the Black Lodge has a lot of power in the physical world. This isn't a need for us to suddenly be afraid and paranoid all the time, but to just be aware that the work that we do to keep ourselves pure―and to not try to manipulate and control others, and also to think for ourselves, to follow our own inner conscience, our own connection to divinity―is very important, because there are not many people in the world you can trust. Even Samael Aun Weor said, “Do not follow me. I am just a signpost.” What we are trying to teach in this tradition is really to be reliant on our own inner divinity. But in order to connect with one's inner divinity, we have to strengthen that connection through the practices and the steps that we have outlined in many courses.
Question: So are we not our own best pentagram?
Instructor: So yes, the human body is the shape of the pentagram, and when we do the microcosmic star, which is linked spiritual protection with the microcosmic star right there, that video, you can see exactly how to make a pentagram with your own body.
Question: So now mentioning cemeteries?…
Instructor: This is an interesting question. So, sometimes cemeteries, because of the corpses and the decaying bodies, can attract a lot of astral larvae and negative influences. Certain groups do practices of black magic in cemeteries. They can just be not good places to hang out. However, of course, if we have a loved one in a cemetery and we would like to go see them and leave some flowers, you know, that is a very personal decision. I just mean maybe not hanging around in them, and using the sulfur in your shoes and purifying yourself afterwards, that can be a good practice.
Comment: I have had my job and been at work like usual, and things were changing, and I know people are suffering, and things kept escalating, and I kind of had this little emotional meltdown at work, because I started feeling like they are going to come and get me and try to force me to take a vaccine, you know, like I started really freaking out about it, and my sister's really into all the conspiracy theories. It is not that I don't believe it, but I generally don't let it get to me. But some people were laid off and then I was thinking, “Oh my God, this is really going!” I mean, this is really serious, you know. Not that I didn't think it was serious, but...
Instructor: It's hitting close to home now.
Question: It's hitting close to home. Yes, that's true. And that's the one thing that sends me over the edge. I am just wondering, out of all the things that you mentioned, when you start spiraling out of control, like nothing does it for me better than the thought of like... can you imagine having a world where your vehicle or body to go back to divinity is, you know, ruined, because they are forcing you to take things that are toxic, that have mercury or aluminum, that can ruin your neurological functions? You know?
Instructor: Samael Aun Weor said certain vaccines destroy the internal bodies. So this is a popular question. We have been getting this on the forum lately. Our best advice on the vaccines question is, sometimes you have to accept a lesser evil over a greater evil. Ideally, none of us would want to take the vaccines that have been contaminated, but in many cases, it would be impossible for you to get a job, or you know, if there is a public health requirement for us to protect the community, we have to accept vaccines.
Regardless of our personal beliefs, we have to make a difficult choice there. Are we going to be able to support our livelihood depending on our profession? Are you able to avoid vaccines because your profession allows that or not? Because sometimes through our job, we do a lot of good for humanity, and it would be worse for us to kind of selfishly avoid the vaccine and then lose our opportunity to serve. But that doesn't mean that if we do choose to avoid vaccines that there aren't other ways that we can serve. It is a very personal choice, but that's our best advice we have given so far.
Comment: To me, this is like a frontal black magic attack if I have ever seen one.
Instructor: It is a good point that you are bringing up here, because I think as as we see more and more of this, we see that sentiment going around in society. Many people are confused. “What am I supposed to believe, and especially with politics and things like that?” This goes back to the earlier question about, are there groups of black magicians really out there trying to attack the populace?
We can see that many of the structures in our society are centered around money, power, sex―all of these ways that people are continually manipulated, and in response to your question, I do not think that any situation or any crisis on this planet is unaffected by ego. The egos of people in power, the egos of people oppressed, the egos of everyone caught in the middle. So we have to be really conscious of ourselves, because while we go out there and we try to do the right thing, if we become consumed with negativity about what the people in power are doing, or all of these other horrible things that are going on, we become unable to help anyone. I, myself, am a pretty sensitive person, and there are many times when I weep at the state of humanity and how much pain and suffering is going on. And all of that we know has its root in ego. Until we can address the root of ego within ourselves, we will not be able to overcome ego as it manifests in our societies and in our civilization.
First we have to conquer ourselves, and that can be very difficult. Sometimes it's easier to point the finger and to get upset with the way that others are behaving, but it's most important and most useful to start changing ourselves. And then we will cultivate more power and more consciousness to be able to make a change in society.
I am by no means trying to blame anyone for getting upset with the way that things are in this planet. It is the worst on this planet that it has ever been, even in past root races like in Atlantis and Lemuria. It was never as bad as it is now. We have become extremely materialistic, turned against the true divinity so that even many religious institutions merely use divinity as a pawn for power, and they will be able to really take Christ and betray Christ in that way.
More than ever, it is important that we find a way to protect ourselves from our own negativity, from the negativity of the world, and each day be conscious of what good we can do, in what good we can bring to others. With any type of controversy where we feel divided, who draws the line and who is right?
God is right and God draws the line, and many times nature draws the line.
For us, like I said, it is most important that we focus on understanding in us what is causing our reaction to those situations, but it is best not to seek a physical person to tell you what is wrong and what is right. When it comes to making your everyday decisions, yes, we try to make our best educated guess, but in terms of misleading information in the world, no matter which side of that debate that you fall on, there is a lot of misinformation.
Even with the best intentions and the greatest intellectual knowledge, many people can really do a lot of harm, because they are rooted in a very materialistic view of the world and the way that things work. Science unfortunately has become dogmatic and quite separated from the spiritual aspect. And when we look just at the materialistic effects, the physical effects of certain things, we sometimes do not become aware of the internal, energetic, emotional, mental, and spiritual effects of those processes.
So I advise you whenever you have to make a personal decision based on a controversy, rather than watching hours of youtube videos or reading lots of news pages, or checking what your friends are writing on social media, the best thing to do is to meditate and ask your inner divinity to send you a dream or to send you a vision in meditation over the next few days to guide you on that.
Question: You answered my question a bit earlier, but you do have all this information going on like a circus, and all those things, but when you say you should go meditate on it and go to your inner divinity, then that is extremely difficult though, because you have like all these aggregates. You know, you are trying to kill that part of yourself. I find it is easier to write first and then go into meditation and try to make it a bit easier for myself, because when you do meditation, you are kind of just jumping right off a cliff. My issue right now would be like the mask issue. I believe my side of the view is right. So is it better like to sacrifice your point and just go with other people on it? Or how would you differentiate that?
Instructor: That's a great question. I am so glad that you asked, and of course, it is very difficult in the beginning. So you are talking about being able to write out your ideas, and I often do that. I have a spiritual journal where I write down what I am struggling with, and it helps me to kind of clear my mind and calm myself down, and see on paper the different elements in me that are getting frustrated or upset, and then entering meditation and reflecting on that. So that is a great idea.
Sometimes the noble thing to do is to sacrifice one's pride and to do what everyone else is doing. And sometimes the noble thing to do is to do what you know to be right in your heart and not go with the crowd. So, of course, my advice to you is that only you can know what to do, and none of us can give you advice whether about wearing a mask or any other issue. I feel that it is most important for us, the ethical integrity of our action, regardless of what we do. What is most important is the quality of our heart.
If we are doing something out of fear or out of pride, thinking we are smarter than others on either side, because everybody on one side says, “We are smarter than the people not wearing masks,” and then the people who are not wearing masks say, “We are smarter than the people who are wearing masks.” Regardless of which side we fall on, we have to recognize what is driving us. And that is something that we really only can find in meditation.
So again, neither me nor any other physical person, whether in the news or youtube or anywhere can tell you what is the right action for you. But I will say that sacrifice, when we talk about sacrifice in this tradition, sacrificing of one's own ego, is often painful. When Abraham went to the altar to sacrifice his son Isaac: can you imagine the tremendous psychological and emotional struggle that he was going through to do that? But he knew that that was what his inner God had commanded to him and he knew it to be right. Now, of course at the last moment, he was spared from making that sacrifice. When we sacrifice our own ego, in my experience, many times leading up to that action can be very stressful and painful and hard, but after the ego has been sacrificed, feeling joy and relief, and not understanding why that was so difficult.
To give a basic example, let's say you are really mad at someone, and you know from your meditation and in your heart that the right thing to do is to go and apologize to them for how you acted. But you are mad. And it would mean: sacrifice your anger and your pride and what you think the other person should do for you. If you went and apologized, all the way leading up to that apology, you might really be struggling with pushing yourself. That self-control that I mentioned early on in the lecture is to do what is right, to overcome the temptation to be angry and to be cruel to this other person, and to do what is right, to humble yourself and apologize. But after you have apologized and your friend smiles and hugs you and is happy, you see how that situation was really of no value, as Samael Aun Weor says in his quote, and that overcoming your anger is such a greater gift than any action could ever be.
Regardless of what physical actions we are taking, we need to be concerned with psychological integrity. For what motive are you doing that action? I am less concerned with what you do versus why you do it. If you are being driven by an ego, by a sense of self, which is a delusion and which is false, then that is probably a harmful action. But if you are being driven by your conscience, by your inner divinity, by doing what you know is right and beneficial for you and for others, then that is a positive action.
Question: What is astral larvae?
Instructor: Astral larvae, I kind of described it as a little energetic bug. And in fact, you can see them in the astral plane. They look like grubs and bugs, and they can basically attach to you, your astral body and suck energy out of you to feed themselves. So if you are in places that are filled with a lot of negativity, a lot of lust, a lot of greed, a lot of violence, these places would have a lot of these bugs sucking up the energy, because that is what they get drawn to. And in places like that, which we call filthy, energetically-filthy places, it is just a breeding ground for astral larvae.
Question: Since Gnostics strive to see objectively, can Gnostics be on different sides of an issue, like needing a vaccine, but also may be needing a vaccine for our livelihood? Who draws that line and who's right?
Instructor: Of course we can be on different sides of an issue, because as we are, we are striving to see objectively, but at this point we are caught between our own ego and our own confusion. It is said that when the gods want to punish humanity, they confuse them, and that is exactly what we see. We ourselves feel very confused. Our entire humanity is confused and arguing and fighting over many things, some things which don't really matter, some things which seem much more consequential.
But again, I want to refer back to this quote towards the beginning of the lecture. Remember that everything passes away. That's the heart of it, even as painful as the suffering and the level of suffering on this planet right now, it will pass away. What we want to do is make sure that as we are living our lives and moving through it, we are taking this opportunity to take what's beneficial from a human existence, and that, we can obtain by comprehending ourselves first. As we come to know ourselves, we will be able to then see more and more objectively the outside world. But as long as we are not aware of our own internal states, which can confuse and manipulate us―the illusions of our ego―then how can we cut through the illusions of the external world?
On any issue that you feel divided on, you can meditate. See what in you is trying to control you. Are you being controlled by fear that does not want the vaccine? By pride that says, “I am smarter and I am not going to fall for this trap”? Or conversely, are you being manipulated by fear that says, “I have to take this vaccine for my livelihood to be able to keep my job.” Much of the time it is fear. And so at the end of the day, what is going to be more important than whether we receive a vaccine or whether we don't receive a vaccine is going to be what have we done with the reaction that was created in us in response to that stimulus. So if the case is a vaccine or a certain take on what is going on with the coronavirus in our world right now, use that circumstance not to try to make judgments about what is the truth in the outside world, but use it as a circumstance to see “What is the truth of myself?” and “Can I use this as fuel for my own transmutation?”―to become a wiser and better individual.
As II mentioned before, as horrible things as the Black Lodge can do and is doing in our society and to us as individuals, what is much worse is our own state of slumber and delusion. And if we don't clean up our own mind, wake ourselves up, and get rid of the illusions that are keeping us hypnotized and asleep, then we are sheep on the way to the slaughter, so to speak, in terms of any attacks from the Black Lodge.
Question: I have two quick questions. The first is while you were talking, I felt inspired and I drew two pentagrams for myself for the bedroom and altar, and I was just wondering, because you specified how to have the pentagram at the at the bedroom door, is there a certain way to use it on the altar? How it should be positioned or to use it?
Instructor: Yeah, that's a great question. I can't believe I missed that. Thank you so much. Of course, when we position the pentagram above our bed or on the altar, we might pin it to the wall against or upright above the altar for example, or prop it up on the altar. You want to make sure, again, that those two feet are facing down to the floor and that the top point is facing up to the ceiling. Okay?
Question: Okay. The other question was in the Gnostic Prayer Book, I sometimes look at the healing prayers and there is the exorcism of salt that is performed. Two things on that one, because you mentioned how with the sword you use your imagination and use the fiery sword in your room. I often use my imagination for the exorcism of salt and seems like that's okay. Do I need to go put salt in a tray and get the alcohol and do it physically?
Instructor: It's best if you can do it physically. Of course, you know fire indoors can be challenging for some people. I myself bought a small bronze pan that was relatively inexpensive, where I can put a little bit of alcohol so that when I light the salt on fire that it doesn't get out of control. But of course, as I mentioned before, I recognize that not all of these things are possible for everyone, and when we do it with sincerity in our heart and our imagination, that's better than not doing the ritual at all, if you understand what I mean.
Question: Is there a certain type of alcohol?
Instructor: I use rubbing alcohol.
Audience: Okay, cool. Thank you.
Instructor: Actually, this reminded me of another point. You know, with my first altar, I wanted to put up some pictures of sacred images, sacred masters that inspired me, and at the time being a very poor student, I actually went to the school library where I was able to print and print off those images and just tape them up to the wall. So if there are ways like that, that you can find a way to make your home personalized and inspiring for you, and really bringing divinity's presence into your home, that can be great. It doesn't have to be going all out and spending hundreds of dollars on these different steps that are mentioned. Just do what you can and bring your own soul into it, because the soul has a beauty and an art to it that the mind could never have.
Question: Is there a link to nicer pentagram necklaces?
Instructor: No, unfortunately, but I will send you the email here: email@example.com. Just email us and we will get that information to you if you are interested in the pentagram.
Resources and References
The Gnostic Academy of Chicago
Free public lectures, meditation classes, courses, articles, and lecture transcriptions.