This is a transcription of an audio lecture from Beginning Self-Transformation, originally given live at the Gnostic Academy of Chicago:
We have been discussing the nature of consciousness. What does it mean to perceive, to understand, to know?—the mysteries of life and death, in a very direct, cognizant manner based on facts, based on direct experiential wisdom born from precise methods.
We spoke abundantly in our last lecture about different states of consciousness, different qualities, and how, in our daily experience, we witness and suffer in many egotistical qualities, many defects which have been categorized in religion as sin or as demonic qualities. So those mythical figures in red with horns and a pitchfork and a long tail are symbols of psychological states, like anger, like resentment, like fear.
But also, just as we have negative states, we also have positive states, divine qualities born from the consciousness, known as serenity, compassion, peace.
We denominated those divine, unconditioned qualities as the essence, as the pure soul which needs to work in order to overcome the conditions of the mind, which make us suffer. And if anyone approaches any type of spirituality, it is because they feel in their heart the need and the longing to know divinity. But also, more importantly, to cease suffering, to cease being in pain.
It is an illusion of the senses to want to blame the external world, our politics, our governments, our schools, our institutions. And it is ironic that we like to fluctuate from job to job, from career to career, marriage to marriage, expecting that we will find some type of happiness by accumulating materialism, goods, bank accounts. But sadly, we fail to acknowledge how we ourselves are carrying the psychological disease of suffering with us wherever we go. And so, while we like to change things externally, it is rare for someone to want to introspect and examine our own negative states to see where is the source of suffering within our mind, within our heart, within our body.
The Sufi poet Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī taught that “It is not your duty to seek love but merely to find the obstacles we place in the way in front of it.” That love, that pure divinity, is our own inner Being, which religion has called God, but we use the term Being to be more specific, as a psychological state, a quality of consciousness. That divinity is inside within our heart, if we know how to access through meditation, through awareness. But unfortunately, due to the hypnosis of the senses, we tend to go through life in a very unconscious manner, not knowing what that divinity is.
Again we like to externalize, and religious institutions have indoctrinated millions to believe that by following a system, by believing in some external God, one will find a way out of suffering. But the facts have arrived to acknowledge that this is not the case. We carry suffering within us, and if we wish to know those divine qualities, we have to learn to see what in us makes us suffer, to examine our psychological states with consciousness, with perception.
That consciousness, that essence, that soul, is the most noble, charitable qualities we carry within, which is a reflection of divinity, but in us that quality tends to be weak. It is not strengthened enough; it is not developed. And so this path of transformation is about learning to understand and to see our own defects, our faults. So by confronting them in a very direct manner, we learn to liberate the soul and develop our full potential, because as I stated in our last lecture, our consciousness is trapped in each defect that we carry within—within anger, within fear, within pride, within arrogance, within blasphemy. Qualities that we like to ignore in ourselves, but which we learn to see as we are practicing the science of meditation.
We begin to see when we sit to practice that the mind is thinking of other things. We may be surging with anxieties, emotions, passions. Our body may be agitated. We are filled with conflict and with complexity. We rarely have a sense of simplicity and beauty, but the more we learn to practice this type of science, we develop the soul. Or as Jesus of Nazareth taught, “With patience possess ye your souls.” So it comes about by work, by transforming our own states of suffering into divine qualities.
This has been known as alchemy, to transform the impure lead of the soul into the gold of the spirit. It is not a literal teaching of medieval alchemists trying to transform physical lead into gold, but it is something psychological and divine. How we transform, in meditation, anger into love, fear into security, doubt into direct knowledge, and faith, because real faith is when we see the truth for ourselves. We don’t rationalize. We don’t speculate. We don’t fear, we don’t doubt, but we know what divinity is and that light learns to guide us in our most difficult circumstances of life when we are faced with problems, with conflicts, with ordeals. So divinity helps those who help themselves. And the method of learning to develop that potential is learning to observe oneself.
Essence, Ego, and Personality
So we talked about the essence, the soul, the consciousness. We talked about the ego, which is our defects, that multiplicity of errors and conflicting elements that surge within any moment of our experience—resentment, pride, hatred, fear, gluttony, laziness, lust. Then we also talked about the personality: how we interact in our society; our language, our name, our race, our culture, our habits. So as I stated previously, the personality is like a mask, from the Latin persona meaning “mask,” how we relate to humanity as an interface, through which we experience all the comedies, dramas, and tragedies of life, because our defects tend to pull us in many directions.
As I stated also, that we tend to be complex people with many contradictions, many errors, but there is a way to transform all that, to transform suffering, to transform wrong psychological states which produce conflict and discord. In order to achieve this transformation, to gain self-knowledge, to know how to experience the divine is a matter of learning to awaken our full potential: our consciousness, the soul, because there is the illusion that somehow we are awake.
It is true that we have a state of consciousness in which we are perceiving life, but the question remains: how do we perceive life in its full totality within our experience? It is easy to understand that there are different states of consciousness, and when that boxer is knocked unconscious in a ring, he loses consciousness. So that is a very basic level of perception. But there are different qualities of perception, different states, different levels of being, some divine and some very diabolic; love, virtue, happiness, philanthropy, and patience. And then the inversion, which is selfishness, criminality, and desire.
If we want to learn to ascend to a higher level of being, it is important to learn what in ourselves is producing all the conflicts we experience. Of course, this introspection is very difficult because there is a lot of resistance in the mind to not want to see one’s faults. And this is why the great mythologies always depicted the great heroes like Perseus fighting Medusa, fighting a monster, and that monster is not outside, but inside, because when we are arguing with our loved ones and filled with rage, we are like Medusa with a head of serpents. And each serpent represents a different error, a different fault, and all its conglomeration of errors. And to look directly into the eyes of Medusa is to be turned to stone—not a literal meaning, but a symbol of how when we identify with anger, fear, and resentment, we become shelled; we become stone; we become that quality. And then when we cease to learn how to change, we become habitual.
We go through life mechanically on the same tracks, repeating the same mistakes, and seemingly never learning from our errors. But there is a way to break that, like Perseus; he used a shield and the reflection within in order to perceive the image of Medusa from behind him—a symbol of how we learn how to use consciousness in meditation. We observe ourselves looking through the mirror of perception in order to see our own errors. And then with the sword of insight, of meditation, of comprehension, we decapitate the animal, the beast. And then, in that way, Perseus acquires great honors; he is honored by the Gods, because he has conquered himself.
So that path of self-reflection is the path of awakening consciousness, of learning to perceive in a new way. And humanity, as it is as we are now, is asleep. We don’t know our full potential yet.
We may have had glimpses, such as in dreams and certain life experiences and in certain traumas or tragedies, in which we gained a certain insight that shaped who we are and has silently guided us through this maze of existence. The consciousness needs to be awakened. Psyche in the Greek myth was awakened by Eros, divine love, the Being. And the Bible speaks abundantly that we must awake, we must be perceptive. We must be cognizant of ourselves. We must know ourselves.
As it says in the Book of Judges (5:12), “Awake, awake, Deborah! Arise, O Barak and take thy captivity captive, O son of Abinoam.” Awake, awake! Deborah is a symbol of the soul that awakens our inner judgment. How we judge ourselves, how we change ourselves, our qualities, and escape suffering. And likewise, we learn to take captivity captive. We cease being mechanical people, by living life with more cognizance, with happiness even in the most difficult ordeals and situations.
Instead of identifying with life, we use life as a gymnasium, a training ground to gain knowledge and to know divinity. For as the Sufis teach, “He who knows himself or herself knows his Lord.” So we do not know ourselves yet in a full fundamental sense, specifically because if we knew ourselves fully, we would be present with divinity inside of us. We would be a Buddha. The word Buddha in Sanskrit means “awakened one,” to know oneself completely. And in that way, one is no longer suffering, but is in ecstasy of that pure Being which is inside—in which we gain insight little by little. But of course, in order to reach that point, we must learn to confront our inner psychological obstacles so that we can develop consciousness.
Definitions of Consciousness
So there are some very basic definitions of consciousness that serve as a platform for this lecture, for this discussion. People typically define consciousness as “the state of being aware; knowledge of one’s own existence, condition, sensations, mental operations, acts, etc.”
The question is, are we really conscious? Are we really aware of how our own negative qualities condition our states? Or do we really know the purpose of our existence in this life, the reason for being? The reason why we get up in the morning, to do what we do? Is it because we are driven by necessity, or is it because we are driven from a state of compassion for humanity, by engaging with our job, our career, for the benefit of others, with selflessness, with altruism, or are we filled with affliction going through the motions of life and hoping that we can reject or not experience pain?
That tends to be the more conditioning element in our life. We are conditioned by many things, conditioned by states of consciousness, conditioned by these negative qualities, by ego. And so the ego, the self in Latin meaning “I,” is that identity we tend to cling to which, as we stated previously, conditions the full consciousness within ourselves, our true potential.
So we may believe in a religion that we have some type of purpose in life, because Catholicism or Judaism or Buddhism or even Gnosticism says so. The reality is we find meaning in our existence by learning to connect with the Being, with divine, with the true self, who is happiness, who knows how to resolve problems without thinking, without rationalizing, without conceptualizing, but acting from a state of pure attention that is unconditioned, that is unfiltered, in which is the full presence and manifestation of divinity, the pure expression of God, the Being, the Self, or whatever name we want to give to that.
The labels do not really matter. What matters is our level of being, our qualities, who we are and how we relate to others, especially when we are faced with challenges, when we are criticized, we are gossiped about, we are lied to.
Do we retaliate? Do we seek retribution? Do we seek justice? But the question is, what is that sense of justice that we want? Who in us wants that outcome, that wants revenge, that wants payback? Most people never question this sense of self; “what I am; what I desire; what I want; what my language is, my name, my culture, my race, my customs, the food that I eat,” because we like to think that identification with these qualities makes us conscious beings.
But the reality is if we are conscious of what we are, in our fundamental depth of divinity, then we don’t make mistakes when we are awake. We are vigilant. We are attentive. We know how to respond to any conflict with equanimity, with patience, with love.
When Jesus was crucified, he only said, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do.” He didn’t want revenge. He didn’t curse or slander or gossip or complain. He was an example of a very high being who taught us a lot about the nature of psychology. That when we are confronted with great ordeals, to learn how to respond with serenity and love.
That is the state of being conscious, because our true nature, our consciousness, is selfless is love, does not want retribution, revenge, but only wants the happiness of others, the peace of others, even onto one’s worse enemies.
So being conscious is being aware and having knowledge of one’s own existence, one’s conditions, one’s sensations, one’s mental operations. But the question remains, are we really aware of what conditions us, what limits us, what makes us weak? And in that way we learn to remove the obstacles, to change what we are, to become something divine.
So in another level, we may know that we are in a bad mood, but does that mean that we really comprehend the root of that mood, the root of that state? We may know that we are angry. We may be saturated with pain on an emotional and mental scale. But it doesn’t mean that we really understand the root of that.
If we comprehend those qualities, we no longer become the victim of those qualities. We learn to see them and separate as a consciousness, and to study the intimate process, the faults, the feelings, the volitions of each defect, each ego, each “I.” Which, as a multiplicity, traps us and conditions us.
Knowing is not the same as comprehending. We may know that alcohol and drugs will harm us. And an alcoholic or drug addict may know that their habit is wrong, and yet they continue to engage in that addiction. They suffer in that vice, they make themselves suffer, and they make others suffer. But they don’t really comprehend how that habit is destroying them.
Now that is a very extreme example. But that analogy applies to us very well. We have many habits, many states of consciousness, which are negative, and yet we are addicted to those states, to those fears, to those worries, to those angers. And so in that way, we are conditioned, we are trapped.
But comprehension is much more dynamic. Comprehension is when we know something is wrong, and we do not do it. And in that way, we develop our soul, our full potential.
It is also “the immediate knowledge or perception of the presence of any object, state, or sensation.” And the truth is, are we really aware of our surroundings, where we are, where we go? If we are driving our car and thinking of our friend, our fiancé, our job, it means that we are not attentive. We are not aware of what we are doing. It means that we are asleep as a consciousness. This is why people get into accidents. It is because they are thinking of one thing while they are driving. They are not paying attention to where they are at or what they are doing.
If we are honest, we can see that we are constantly daydreaming. We may be at work speaking with someone or listening to a lecture, and yet we are thinking of other things or comparing our ideas with what we hear and rationalizing, and debating and criticizing or something. So if we are thinking of other things but not aware of what is going on, it means that we are asleep. We are distracted.
So this is a very different definition of consciousness that is commonly believed in in these times. But if you are washing your dishes and not paying attention to what you are doing or cutting food, we can slice our finger open because we are distracted. We are not paying attention.
Likewise, “consciousness is an alert, cognizant state in which you are aware of yourself and your situation.”
How often do we go throughout our day, not even aware of our body, our breath, our physical state, not mindful of tension that we carry within? And if we sit to practice meditation, we may suddenly see that we carry all sorts of friction in ourselves, in our bodies. Which is, of course, mediated and helped by learning to relax throughout the day, breathing deep, profoundly letting go of tension, observing oneself, observing the mind, observing our heart, observing our body.
The consciousness must learn to observe, as I said in our practice, like a director of a film seeing the actor of the mind, the actor of the heart, the actor of our body, separating from those demonic qualities we were talking about, those defects, in order to develop the beauty of the soul. So this path of consciousness, of observation, is one in which we look, but without judging, without debating, where we listen to someone speak or listen to our neighbor, our friend, without wanting to say the next thing or wanting to compare or to insert our comments into the conversation, by learning to be receptive as a mind, as a consciousness.
That is an alert cognizant state symbolized in Buddhism by the Buddha meditating with a bowl facing up in order to receive impressions of life, to receive insight of new things, to not go through one’s day mechanically, repeating and daydreaming and being stuck in memories, by learning to see the new even in the most mundane circumstance, so that we receive impressions. We learn to see ourselves as we are, not as we assume to be. So this is an alert cognizant state.
The question is, are we always aware of our surroundings? This is one of the values of martial arts such as Aikido and other practices where they teach the Buddhist concept of attention and awareness, vigilance, so that if we are in danger, we can escape it, but if we are asleep thinking of other things or our friend, we could walk into an alley or be accosted, or go to a bad neighborhood. We are not paying attention to where we are, getting off on the wrong train stop, making mistakes.
People who do not pay attention, as I said, can end up dead on the road. The same principle applies spiritually, knowing what spiritual states are beneficial and those that are not, so that we can choose the right action from moment to moment.
The Powers of Consciousness
There are different powers of consciousness, of attention. Some people confuse mindfulness with attention and other dynamics of the soul. When people talk about awareness, they talk about being aware of one’s surroundings. This is a broad spatial perception in which consciousness expands. We see our surroundings. We are attentive of the color of the streets, the bricks, the moving cars, the wind, the colors of our environment. We see things with clarity, with crispness, with depth. Our consciousness is heightened and expanded. It is a light that is diffused, that fills the atmosphere, that sees all things surrounding oneself.
Attention is a little different. With awareness, when you have consciousness that is spatialized, attention is more concentrated, focused on one thing. So compare the light of a light bulb that expands out and fills the room to a flashlight. When you direct your attention to one thing, you are working with that power of consciousness, such as with concentration exercises.
Mindfulness is being attentive, being aware of oneself moment by moment, and day by day. It is the continuity of perception. So as we are learning to observe ourselves, observe our surroundings, mindfulness is when you are attentive of each state, in each moment, progressively, instant by instant, moment by moment, so that we learn to gather data about ourselves, our own faults, our own conditions of mind.
If someone is practicing this science and is driving the car, they may be attentive on the road, mindful since they got up in the morning and got in the car to go to work, and yet in a moment start thinking of another thing, thinking of a friend, and lose one’s mindfulness of what one is doing, being engaged in that thought, that daydream, that fantasy. That is what it means to lose one’s mindfulness, to lose the continuity of attention of awareness.
Visualization is a much more different quality of consciousness. It’s the ability to perceive images that are not physical. So if I tell you to imagine an apple, you can see it, you can visualize it. That’s a type of consciousness that is, in most people, undeveloped. But we do have the capacity to imagine, to perceive images that are not physical, but are psychic. That is a term used by certain French authors, called clairvoyance.
Clairvoyance is simply “clear vision.” It’s a fancy term people invented to make people confused, to feel that one does not possess a quality that one already has. Because we all have the capacity to imagine, to see images mentally, and we have exercises in this tradition where you can take a candle or a religious object, observe it, focus your concentration on it, your attention, and then in that way you close your eyes, and then you try to imagine all the details. That develops the depth and clarity of the consciousness, so that when we practice meditation, we can see what we are doing, seeing into the depths of the mind like Perseus using the shield of his imagination in order to see the image of Medusa and to confront it.
These are different qualities of consciousness, which the practitioner of meditation develops in order to gain self-knowledge.
The Technique of Self-observation
The term observation, as you see in this image, relates to “the action or process of observing something or someone carefully to gain information.” So we see a woman staring at a mirror and seeing a hidden figure that should be visible to us in the background, but is only seen in the image in the mirror. That is a symbol of the work of self-observation, because we cannot see the self with physical senses.
Many people do like to think that they are the body. They are the brain, they are the physicality, and yet it is more true that our thoughts and our feelings have greater reality than physical objects. We invest more of our attention in ourselves in who we think we are, what we feel, what we think. So thoughts and feelings and will have a type of dimensionality that is very profound, which acts through the physical body, which we study in our courses about kabbalah, the tree of life, and the interrelationship of all the different aspects of the soul and of divinity.
But we learn to gather data about ourselves, by learning to observe ourselves, by having the courage to examine what we are, not to assume that we are a certain way, not to believe anything, but to learn to look, to simply see, not to judge.
It is the ego that says, “I am compassionate. I am merciful. I am a good person,” but have we ever really questioned what that self is, what that “I” is, that sense of “me, what I want, what I crave”? It is by learning to question that self that we get to the bottom of why we suffer.
Such as in certain conflicts at work. Someone says something negative to us, and then we feel hurt. Our heart is in pain. So if we are examining ourselves in that moment, we can learn to see that that sense of self that is hurt really has no value, has no importance. This relates to the Buddhist concept of emptiness, of selflessness. That selflessness of the consciousness is divine. It is peace; it is love. It is empty of desire, of condition. But we must learn to see that state and to taste what that state is, where we are looking at ourselves when someone says something negative, and we want to react with slander or negative words, defending our sense of self, our sense of honor that is hurt.
We should learn to see and to examine. Why should we feel victim of what other people say? Why be a victim of life? People can think and feel whatever they want. Each world is a world of its own, a mind of its own. Why do we want to change other people so much? It is better if we change our own negative states, our own faults, so that we are not victims of life.
So no matter how negative people can be, we do not necessarily have to invest our energy into that identification, by learning to examine, to scrutinize, to see, to gain information about why do we suffer in relation to those events.
What in us is in conflict? This is a path of self-observation, observing the self, observing the mind, the heart, the body. It is a path of monitoring oneself, "watching, scrutiny, examination, inspection; to "survey, surveillance, consideration, study, or review."
All religions teach that we must awaken. We must examine ourselves and to not judge, either way, assuming that we are good people, because while we have good qualities, we also have many faults, imperfections. But the path of love, of experiencing the divine, is precisely as Rumi said, “Seeing in oneself all that which conditions.” That is an obstacle, and by learning to see that in ourselves is very uncomfortable, a very painful process to realize that the self is not singular, but multiple, as we talked about on our lecture on Essence, Ego, and Personality (Discover Your True Self).
We are very conflicted. In one moment we may want to wash the dishes or in the next moment ride a bike. We change our mind, or our mind changes and says no, we want to go eat something; no, we want to go read. We want to do something else. We are constantly moving in multiple directions. We are changing course every moment, but we do not really examine why that is.
Why is it that we are always gravitating towards different things, that there is no continuity of purpose? This is why people begin projects and end them. They do not finish; they do not have continuity of soul. For as Jesus taught, “With patience possess ye your soul.” The soul has to be developed. It has to become singular, with one purpose, to remember the divine, so to end that multiplicity of defects, of “I’s,” of selves, which is so uncomfortable to see, is only achievable by looking into the mirror of ourselves, to see and to look, to study and to ask the question, “what is my state of being? What is my level of being? What is conditioning me right now? Why do I suffer? Why am I in pain?” But of course, there is a resistance that occurs, and it is always a very difficult topic because the mind resists, does not want to cease its errors, its faults.
The Observer and the Observed
And in this path, we learn to develop a separation of consciousness. In this image, we have Saint Michael slaying the dragon, which is a religious allegory of this dynamic. Saint Michael is from the Hebrew מיכאל, which translated means “He who is like God,” that is the soul when it is united with Christ, the divine, Allah, Buddha, whatever name you want to give to your divinity.
So he’s a great warrior, a great angel whom you can meet in the internal worlds, by awakening from dreams, to speak face to face in that state when your consciousness, your awareness is expanded, and you are remembering your self. You can invoke or call upon those divinities and speak face to face with the Buddhas with the angels, the Gods. That is a science known as dream yoga.
But my purpose in showing this image is not to talk about that specifically, but to point out that Michael represents our soul that is a great warrior, that knows how to fight for what is just, in an objective, spiritual sense, to combat anger, hatred, doubt. In this image, he is conquering the devil, the demon, the adversary, which is not a person outside, but inside of all our defects. And so this image is very inspiring, as many forms of religious art show that the consciousness has the potential to wage a very difficult war, and to succeed.
The consciousness must learn to observe, and the question is: to observe what? Saint Michael is the consciousness that is observing the lower qualities of the soul and is stepping in its mouth, to show that the soul is dominating the ego. The soul must learn to separate as an observer, to look at the observed, to look at the self, to look at the “I”—“what I am, what I think, what I feel, what I desire,” moment by moment.
The consciousness that is unconditioned is the essence, as we were saying. It is the observer. It is the director of a film that is watching an actor, that is watching the self, watching the mind. And the actor is the conditioned consciousness, which is fragmented, shelled within many elements, which we call ego, selves, desires defects.
So in the myth of Jesus exorcising a possessed man is a symbol of how the soul, the divine, learns to heal the consciousness, to liberate it, to free it from its state of suffering. And when Jesus asks the possessed man, “What is your name?” He said, “We are legion, because we are many.” That is the uncomfortable truth of the mind, the belief that we are one self.
Again, our contradictions show the facts. We are always conflicted, sent in different directions by one’s selves, one’s desires. So the question is, are we aware of ourselves aware, of our full potential? Are we observing? Are we watchful? Are we looking to see what is in us, without expectation, without anticipation, but just questioning those states, those qualities of suffering?
I would like to read for you an excerpt from a book called Revolutionary Psychology by the writer Samael Aun Weor, who is the founder of the modern Gnostic tradition, where he explains some concepts relating to this dynamic where the soul has to observe the ego, so that by comprehending the ego, the ego can be eliminated. Fear can be eradicated. Suffering can be ceased.
“Internal Self-observation is a practical means to achieve a radical transformation.
“To know and to observe are different. Many confuse the observation of oneself with knowing. For example, even though we know that we are seated in a living room, this, however, does not signify that we are observing the chair.
“We know that at a given moment we are in a negative state, perhaps with a problem, worried about this or that matter, or in a state of distress or uncertainty, etc. This, however, does not mean that we are observing the negative state.
“Do you feel antipathy towards someone? Do you dislike a certain person? Why? You may say that you know that person... Please observe that person; to know is not the same as to observe! Do not confuse knowing with observing...
“The observation of oneself, which is one hundred percent active, is a way to change oneself. However, knowing, which is passive, is not a way to change oneself.
“Indeed, knowing is not an act of attention. Yet, the attention directed into oneself, towards what is happening in our interior, is something positive, active...
“For instance, we may feel antipathy towards a person, just because we feel like it and many times for no particular reason. If we observe ourselves in such a moment we will notice the multitude of thoughts that accumulate in our mind. We will also notice the group of voices that speak and scream in a disorderly manner and that say many things within our mind, as well as the unpleasant emotions that surge in our interior and the unpleasant taste that all this leaves in our psyche, etc.
“Obviously, in such a state we also realize that internally we are badly mistreating the person towards whom we feel antipathy.
“But, unquestionably, in order to see all of this, we need attention intentionally directed towards the interior of our own selves. This is not a passive attention.
“Indeed, dynamic attention proceeds from the side of the observer, while thoughts and emotions belong to the side which is observed.
“All of this causes us to comprehend that “knowing” is something completely passive and mechanical, in evident contrast with the observation of the self, which is a conscious act.
“Nevertheless, we are not affirming that mechanical Self-observation does not exist; it does, but such a kind of observation has nothing to do with the psychological Self-observation to which we are referring.
“To think and to observe are also very different. Any person can give himself the luxury of thinking about himself all he wants, yet this does not signify that he is truly observing himself.
“We need to see the different ‘I’s’ in action, to discover them in our psyche, to comprehend that a percentage of our own Consciousness exists within each one of them, to repent of having created them, etc.
“Then we shall exclaim, ‘But what is this ‘I’ doing?’ ‘What is it saying?’ ‘What does it want?’ ‘Why does it torment me with its lust, with its anger?’ etc.
“Then we will see within ourselves the entire train of thoughts, emotions, desires, passions, private comedies, personal dramas, elaborated lies, discourses, excuses, morbidities, beds of pleasure, scenes of lasciviousness, etc.
“Many times before falling asleep, at the precise instant of transition between vigil and sleep, we feel within our own mind different voices that talk to each other. Those are the different ‘I’s’ that must in such moments break all connection with the different centers of our organic machine, so as to then submerge themselves in the molecular world, within the ‘Fifth Dimension.’” —Samael Aun Weor, Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology
Which is commonly known as the astral plane in certain writings. So some people may have that experience of falling asleep, being attentive and seeing dream images and hearing sounds and voices of all types while one is transitioning into the internal worlds, as a consciousness, as one is projecting into that world.
The Two Worlds
But of course, to develop that quality, we develop what is known as knowledge of the two worlds. So we included an image here of a man hidden by a mirror or reflecting a mirror opposite to him, which is our position looking within. We must learn to become aware of the internal world, but also in relation to the external.
This is symbolized in The Odyssey, of Odysseus, the poem by Homer, in which the great hero Odysseus kills his enemies who are trying to marry his wife Penelope, after he was exiled from Troy after a voyage of 20 years, to return home to Ithaca, in which he finds his home has been ransacked by certain people who want to marry his wife and take his property. So he is disguised as a beggar until Athena takes him into the throne room in order to kill the suitors.
It is a beautiful symbol of the path of the soul, how we as Odysseus must go into our mind and to confront all the selves: lust, anger, fear, pride, resentment, etc. And so he kills all the suitors in the poem. He does it with a bow and an arrow. He extends his attention outward towards his enemies, but also pulls the string so that he can release each arrow as he is destroying his enemies, which is a symbol of the battle of the soul against the mind. And so the one who helps him is Athena, a symbol of the divine feminine, the Divine Mother in Christianity, the Divine Mother Tara in Buddhism, the Divine Goddess Kali amongst the Hindus.
So we have to observe our psychological state, but always in relation to the external event, understanding the relationship, because we never exist in a bubble where things happen outside, where there is no relationship between our mental states and what happens outside. There is the illusion that somehow we can think and feel and do whatever we want mentally in relation to the other person, and they will not know. But if we are observant, you see that even thoughts influence people.
This is the capacity of clairvoyance and telepathy, to see one’s thoughts and how they relate to people and the exchange of energies, of thinking, of emotion. Nothing fantastic about it. It is a simple state of being, which we can compare to an example of walking down the street, where we may suddenly feel that we are being looked at. We turn, and we see someone across the street looking at us. It is a psychological sense that is atrophied in most people, but which you can develop with meditation.
So our internal world relates to the external world. There’s an interconnection. The self is not isolated but always is contingent upon the impressions of life that enter in our mind, our heart, our mental states, constantly and continuously. And this is where we get the Buddhist doctrine of dependent origination, that there is no intrinsically existing self or ego. There are always situations that provoke anger, pride, resentment, etc. And so we are to examine what impressions enter our mind, what is happening in life that makes us react and usually in a mechanical way. Samael Aun Weor explains the difference in his chapter in Revolutionary Psychology.
“To observe and to Self-observe oneself are two completely different things; however, both demand attention.
“When we observe through the windows of the senses, our attention then is directed outwardly towards the external world.
“Yet, in Self-observation, the senses of external perception are worthless, because attention is directed inward. Consequently, this is the factual reason why the Self-observation of inner psychological processes is difficult for the neophyte.
“The point of departure of official science in its practical side is the observable. The point of departure for the work on oneself is Self-observation, the Self-observable.
“Unquestionably, these two points of departure take us in two completely different directions.
“Someone could grow old engrossed within the intransigent dogmas of official science, studying external phenomena, observing cells, atoms, molecules, suns, stars, comets, etc., without experiencing any radical change within himself.
“The type of knowledge that transforms someone internally can never be achieved through external observation.
“The true knowledge that can really originate a fundamental, internal change in us has as its basis direct Self-observation of oneself.
“…We find ourselves then before two worlds, the external and the internal.
“The first, the external, is perceived by the senses of external perception. The second, the internal, can only be perceived through the sense of internal Self-observation.
“Thoughts, ideas, emotions, longings, hopes, disappointments, etc., are internal, invisible to the ordinary, common and current senses. Yet, they are more real to us than the dining table or the living room couch.
“Indeed, we live in our internal world more than in our external world. This is irrefutable, indisputable.
“In our internal worlds, in our secret world, we love, desire, suspect, bless, curse, yearn, suffer, enjoy, we are disappointed, rewarded, etc.
“Unquestionably, the two worlds, internal and external, are experimentally verifiable. The external world is the observable. The internal world is in itself and inside oneself the self-observable, here and now.” —Samael Aun Weor, Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology
So it is like a mirror. We have to learn to work with both, but typically our senses and our mind is more gravitated to the external, but if we want to acquire psychological insight, balance, understanding, we have to learn to observe the external, but also direct our attention inward, so that with the bow of the mind, our attention, we learn to see all things, develop our meditation practice.
The Flavor of Life and the Spiritual Work
All of us know what the flavor of life is. We are distracted on our cell phones, driving our car, listening to music, listening to the radio, thinking about other things. We tend to be, as I said, fragmented, distracted by multiple engagements at once. We like to think in America that we are a culture of multitasking, but this type of behavior tends to distract oneself more and more.
We like to emphasize that there are three states that constitute the flavor of life, which this path is working against, the path of meditation. Identification has to do with thinking that one is thinking, feeling that one is feeling, and doing that one is doing, but without awareness directed attention inward. When we say that we are identified, it means that our identity is enmeshed in that moment, in relation to a sense of self. It could be anything we mentioned previously.
And like in the myth of Medusa, if we are filled with anger and we identify with that anger, we invest it with our energy. We become trapped in stone, habituated. This is why so many relationships fail, because people are conditioned and they are feeding their anger, their lust, their pride. They become trapped in stone. They are identified, and they are worshiping idols.
So people think that in old religious cultures, they were worshiping idols, worshiping statues. It is a symbol of worshiping negative states or qualities. People in these times worship anger. They think it is a good thing. Or pride in our music, our entertainment, our industries, our movies, our books. We even have a show, American Idol, people worshiping vanity, selfishness, competition.
So when we are identified, it means that we are thinking that we are thinking and feeling that we are feeling. We are not really observing that self, like being in a helicopter very high up or on a mountain looking down, where you can see very beautifully everything in a conscious sense, seeing the full potential the soul.
Identification means to invest ourselves into what we are doing, or to be distracted. When we are fascinated, it means that we are experiencing the pleasant or unpleasant sensations of desire, the ego, enjoying what we are enjoying, but unconsciously not really aware, not really looking at what we are experiencing.
And sleep is to be fully inattentive. We like to think that sleep is only when we go to bed for eight hours, and we wake up in the morning. But as I said, we are asleep when we are driving our car and thinking of other things, consciously speaking. We are not attentive of where we are at or what we are doing. So we may be on a road driving, and we are thinking of a problem at work and then suddenly we realize we missed our turn, because we are so identified with that memory, fascinated by our own fantasies of what we were thinking and feeling and what we wanted to do in response, that we are asleep. We don’t know where we are at. We get lost. We lose direction.
That is a very basic understanding of this dynamic. But of course, this applies to every moment of life in which we are not observing. There is a very different flavor of life which we can experience in moments of great serenity, of insight, of peace.
So we included an image of the mountains and a lake reflecting the beautiful landscape. Again another symbol of imagination. We’re reflecting the mountain of initiation, of the Being, of the spiritual path that leads from the valley of suffering up to the heights, which many authors have allegorized in their writings, like Fredrick Nietzsche climbing the mountain in his book Thus Spoke Zarathustra. He is a philosopher who knew this teaching at one point. So the flavor of the work is a different psychological state that we develop as we are practicing meditation. We may experience intensified awareness, greater spatial perception of our surroundings, where we see things in a new way, in a bright way, with great lucidity.
We also may have clarified attention where we begin to see how certain habits in life make us conditioned. We see where fear comes from and why, why it exists, and then we are no longer influenced by that quality. We are transformed. We have strength, because when you learn to separate from the ego, you gain strength.
So it is not like some people think, that one is vulnerable. But of course, in the beginning, it is challenging to separate from that self and to observe and experience divine qualities like contentment, serenity, patience. And so that is developed as we practice the science of meditation. We clarify our attention. We see things with greater clarity.
We also have a heightened perception of ourselves. We see ourselves in a way that is totally new. And anyone who approaches these type of studies has obviously had that experience. They see things that in such a heightened way, they question their life, their existence, why they are where they are at. When we were children, we tasted this quality more commonly before we were more habituated in our culture or conditioned by society as were growing up.
Self-observation is understanding of the cognizance of facts of where our problems originate and why they sustain. How do we make things more complicated and create suffering for ourselves?
Self-observation develops like going to the gym and exercising one’s muscles. It gets stronger with practice. And one sign that one is learning Self-observation is when maybe in a moment at work, we are having a conversation with someone, and they say something negative, and we feel the reaction of wanting to retaliate, as I have been saying, to be sarcastic even, even in a level that is joking. But which, if you examine deep down, you may see that there is some anger there, an edge, a bite. But you learn to separate and to see that self, and you say to yourself consciously, “I do not need to identify with that quality, because to identify with it is to perpetuate suffering, conflict.” And then, comprehension or insight, the understanding of the causes of suffering, is deepened and heightened, where we begin to separate more and more from negative states, to experience higher states of being, higher levels of consciousness.
Of course, the difference between the two is distinct, but we gain more knowledge the more we practice Self-observation, and in that way, we become more awakened, more enlightened, day by day, moment by moment, as we are learning to transform ourselves.
Questions and Answers
Audience: Why do you say that desire is something negative?
Instructor: Because in strict etymology, the word desire is the craving, or saying, “I want. I need. I must have.” While many poets like Rumi use that word desire to refer to something spiritual, he is using it more in an elevated sense. Semantically speaking, we could say that the desire to know God, the divine, is good. And we could say, to be more precise in our language, that this is longing, the yearning to know divinity, and that aspiration, that desire, is holy, is sacred.
But also we have desires that are negative, lower, animalistic, which we are all familiar with and which shape our states of being and make us suffer.
In strict language, we could say to use precision of language, according to Socrates, desire is ego, because the ego says “I must have. I must fulfill. That person insulted me. I need to get revenge. They slighted me. They hurt me. They betrayed me.” That is a desire.
Desire always says, “I want, I need,” and projects itself into the external world and wants to get those impressions of praise or acceptance. But also you have desire in a poetic sense, like the Sufis talk abundantly about. We have a course on our website called The Sufi Path of Self-knowledge, in which we talk a lot about that nature, of that language, about how the Sufis desired God, the Being. They longed for divinity in a way that is so profound, that it is erotic, in relation to the science of tantra, alchemy, as we explained in those courses.
We could say longing, but in most cases, in our mind-stream, desire is mostly egotistical, because we are so conditioned by our states. We talked about this in the previous lecture how we possess, statistically, according to Samael Aun Weor, ninety-seven percent ego and three percent consciousness. That is a very daunting statistic, but easy to see in our life if we are learning to observe.
We tend to be more egotistical. And very rarely do moments of spontaneity and longing of desire for God manifest unless we are practicing to develop that more, instant by instant, moment by moment.
But of course, that is desire in a spiritual sense. Spiritual desire is different. But then there is a muddling, too, where we may be in a spiritual teaching, and yet we are filled with ambition as well. We want to be great saints. We want people to worship us, that we are holy, that we are great masters of spirituality, and that type of desire infects many groups. It infects anyone who is trying to teach other people, because we have ego, and the more one works on that ego, the more subtle it becomes until finally it is eliminated. But of course, it is a lot of work.
The Sufis use that word desire to refer to longing for divinity. But in us, we are typically very conditioned, which is why, in most cases, when we talk about self-improvement or desire, is ego. And in relation to that topic of the three percent consciousness, the consciousness is like a child. In the story of David and Goliath, David was a boy when he fought this great warrior, symbol of our soul, that three percent, that can—with a lot of faith, desire for God, longing—with a stone and a sling , kill his enemy, by being helped by divinity.
It is a symbol in the Old Testament of how one is working in Self-observation in order to eliminate desire, the ego, in a more strict sense. That child became king of Israel. Beautiful symbol. It is a symbol of our potential. We can become kings and queens of spirituality if we conquer ourselves, but of course, it is a very difficult battle, but very achievable. If we don’t have any more questions, we will conclude with a practice.
Audience: From the moment I’m aware of an ego, what would be the most effective way of eliminating that ego?
Instructor: Sure. So it’s a wonderful question, because a lot of people, when they begin to see the ego, they want to run away, because it is very painful to see that we are filled with all sorts of abnormality, desire and defects.
The best thing you can do in those moments, if you feel that you are being tempted by a certain condition or being influenced by anger, you feel like you are about to blow up, so to speak, by being so impassioned, some solutions could be just to step back from a situation. I know when I have had conflicts at work, I would just excuse myself, “Excuse me. I need to take five minutes.” I would go to my office and do a breathing exercise, but in the moment, you need to have the restraint that says, “I am not going to act on this element.” But of course, as the Pater Noster teaches us, “Lead us not into temptation.” Because that condition is very heavy, obviously, it is very easy to give in to the ego.
The best way to begin to annihilating it is do not give it what it wants; do not feed it. And this is what the Muslims call holy war, the word jihad does not mean holy war in a certain sense, but it has become an application in the western culture. It simply means “to strive, to fight against”; it does not mean fighting against someone who is not Muslim or one not in one’s tradition. It means to fight against the ego.
And so you strive against yourself, you do not give your mind, your heart, your negative qualities, what it wants. So the first wonderful step of that battle is do not feed it, and of course, it takes a lot of refinement to know how, to go deeper and deeper and deeper, to restrain oneself in those critical moments. And that’s why in life, when we are doing this kind of work, a lot of problems arise, because those situations will help provoke the worst in us, make us see the most ugly qualities in our psyche, but you gain strength more and more as you are facing those problems and don’t identify with them. You do not invest your energy into them.
Personally, again, when I am having issues or struggles like that in a moment of great crisis, I pray to my Inner Being. I say, “My God help me to not give in to my anger.” It does not have to even be in words; you don’t need a formula for that. It is something dynamic and intuitive. You do not think about it. You just feel it in your heart. “Please do not let me make this mistake and help me to reflect your divine qualities like compassion.” And then the more you separate from the ego, you do not give it what it wants, the more comprehension you develop, because if you are giving that ego what it wants, you are stuck in the flavor of life.
The flavor of life, is again, identification with the ego, fascination; its fantasies and beliefs, and then the sleep of our soul, and we are suffering all the while. So to escape suffering, you have to learn to work with the shield of Perseus, the armor of the great heroes, which is your solar qualities, your spiritual qualities.
Look at it, but do not look directly at it, meaning: do not identify with Medusa. You have to look at it, but not identify with it, and that is the very great struggle we all face, whether we have been meditating for a year or twenty years. It is because it is a very difficult work, but we gain more inspiration. The more we resist the mind, or better said, comprehend the mind—we do not want to resist the mind, “Oh, I do not like what I am seeing; this is very ugly.” And so we like to repress and push that away.
Observation is just looking at it. Do not justify the anger. Do not push it away. And the reason being is, if you push it away from yourself, you are not going to gain an understanding, and in fact, that anger gets stronger when you repress it, which is why psychologists say you should not repress your anger. But they make the mistake of saying that you should just feed it, whatever is going on inside. It’s the other extreme, which is negative. So they are both negative: do not feed it; do not push it away. Just look. Look at it from a state of dispassion, of equanimity, because when you do so in that way, you do not identify, you just look at it.
And it is like Michael putting his foot into the mouth of the dragon. You see how effortless in the image he is doing it? It does not take any effort on his will. He is a very powerful being—a symbol of how, in a state of great equanimity, you have greater strength. If you give in to anger or frustration in a certain ordeal or circumstance, we make things worse. We make our job difficult. We make our clients resist us, whatever it is that we do or people we interact with.
So look at it. Just see it and do not judge it right away. Just do not label it. See it for what it is and follow your intuition, your heart about what is the right action to perform in that moment. That is part of self-observation too.
We learn to observe and see in ourselves what is going on, but in an even more profound level, in our future lectures, we will talk about this is, that we learn to transform the moment, transform the impression. So we have the impression of someone insulting us. We are observing ourselves. We see the reaction emerge and then immediately we say, “Okay, I see my reaction here; it is negative.” I know in a moment, we understand that if we give into that reaction, that mechanical behavior, we are going to create more conflict. So in that moment, we can pray, “My Being, help me!” You so not need formula, or you can use formulas too, like the Our Father, the Hail Mary, or any Hindu prayer. There are many prayers in different religions that all invoke divinity; whatever you have an affinity for that inspires you, and then you pray, “Please help me so I do not give in to that demon, so that I can see it and transform it.”
And then when you do not feed it what it wants, of course, the ego fights back. This is why this is a holy war. The mind resists. So you stop feeding the lion, it gets hungry, which is why many people in the beginning of practicing meditation, they struggle with certain conditions and habits, repeating the same mistakes because, they find that when they are distancing themselves from that anger, in that moment, that desire still wants to feed itself, to be nourished by the impressions of life, by the energies of life. So you learn to start killing the ego by first, observe it. Separate: observer / observed. And then when you go home to meditation, you can reflect and review your day.
Imagine what you experienced. Do not change the facts of what was said, of how you felt, of what you saw, but simply imagine as it was the instant. And then you can go deeper, so that when you are meditating on whatever ego emerged, you can comprehend them. Then that’s the next step is praying for elimination from your Divine Mother, which we will be talking about in our future classes, the process and the depth of it. We have a course on Gnostic Meditation on our website chicagognosis.org. You can look at the lecture at the very end. We culminate it with Retrospection Meditation, which is that process.
Review your day. Examine what you saw. Do not change the facts, because the mind will like to argue and say, “Well, I should have said this, or this is what I really meant.” The mind is always a liar; the ego is a liar. Just as Jesus says to the fanatic Pharisees, “You are the children of the father of lies.” It is a symbol of the ego, worshiping the mind. It does not mean that the Jewish people are evil; it just means he was condemning those spiritual people who think they are holy, but they have a lot of defects. But we talk about that process in that course you can study. We will be revisiting that again and again here.
This is a transcription of an audio lecture from Beginning Self-Transformation, originally given live at the Gnostic Academy of Chicago:
Humanity is in a very profound state of suffering. It is enough to look at the news to witness firsthand the affliction that our humanity is overwhelmed with, whether it be through violence, school shootings, police officers being murdered, terrorism, war. Our humanity, which boasts so much of its superiority, of its advancements, of its intelligence, has demonstrated through facts, that really compared to the barbarians of the middle ages, we have not changed.
To look at the world and its great chaos should really provoke a very profound question about ourselves. We usually like to externalize and state that the sufferings of humanity, the bloodshed, the destruction, the perversity, is somehow external from me, outside. But those who learn to meditate, to observe oneself, begins to understand from personal experience that those same qualities that we condemn in others, we carry in abundance.
Observation of the facts produces comprehension, understanding, but human beings or humanity does not understand the causes of suffering and what perpetuates such chaos on our planet. The internal is really a reflection of the external, and vise versa. External humanity is a reflection of ourselves, if we are honest; it takes a lot of courage to take responsibility for one’s own mind. To understand that psychologically, because of our negative states of anger, of fear, of pride, resentment, deception, we can not blame the world for what it is.
We should not place so much emphasizes on other people, but look within ourselves to understand, “How do I suffer? Why do I, as a consciousness, have so many problems or pains?”
Immanuel Kant, the great German philosopher, had stated that the exterior is the reflection of the interior. It is enough to observe our daily state, moment by moment, when we go to work, when we are with family or friends, or especially people we do not like. We find that, psychologically, we possess many elements, states which, even on a very conventional level, we could say is harmful and that we understand is negative. We may know this intellectually, but to comprehend the psychological causes of suffering is a very distinct matter.
An alcoholic knows that to consume that substance is to perpetuate suffering, and yet he or she may continue to indulge in those habits, those desires, those qualities.
So we possess in our mind-stream the elements of hatred, resentment, anger, frustration, anxiety, uncertainty, disillusionment, but it is rare for someone to really question this sense of “I,” this questioning of “who I am, where I am going. Who am I as a person and why do I suffer? Who is this sense of self, in the internal experience that we denominate “I”? Because who we are psychologically shapes our existence. What we are mentally and emotionally psychologically determines the fate of our interactions with all other sentient beings.
And as I said, we like to externalize. We do not like to look inside at what psychological states cause friction, anxiety, conflict. It is easy to see in our own experience that we have many problems, difficulties, problems that we face day by day that do not get any better. They do not get resolved. And the struggle of someone who enters meditation is to precisely not accuse the external world itself, or our boss, our friends, our neighbors, the government, humanity, murderers, etc., but to take ownership of our own states.
How do we become impatient? How do we become proud? How do we belittle another person, whether it be through sarcasm, even through a jest?
Our psychological state determines our life. What we are mentally will determine what we become, how we will act, how we will respond to life. And someone who meditates understands and sees that in daily experience.
We all have qualities that we condemn so much in others. It takes a lot of courage to recognize this fact, to be responsible and not to blame so and so, that this planet is a mess. Because how do we contribute to the sufferings of humanity, at our job, with our friends, with our families? How do we produce suffering? That is the question we have to resolve, in which meditation helps to unlock, in order to show us the doorway, the path that leads out of suffering and into the awakening of our full divine potential.
As we see in this image of the stars, the heavens, because the human being, human beings themselves, if they are capable of great evil, are capable of all the glories of the cosmos, the beauty of the heavens, which are states of being, ways of acting, ways of understanding, exemplified by all the great messengers that come to humanity to teach the way that leads out of suffering into the unification of divinity—a state of contentment, a state of being. So we will talk about what the Being is in this lecture.
The Beginning of Self-Knowledge
What is divinity? Who are we, who is our inner divine presence, that we can access in a state of alert attention, and more specifically, by leaving the darkness of our own psychological ignorance, our suffering, in order to enter higher ways of being, of knowing, of contentment?
Samael Aun Weor, the founder of the modern Gnostic tradition of which we study, wrote in Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology some very profound questions in the opening of this text, which are worthy to study and to apply to ourselves.
“Who are we? Where do we come from? Where are we going? What are we living for? Why are we living?” —Samael Aun Weor, Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology
Who are we? We like to think that we feel, and we know ourselves, but if we reflect on our experience, we may find that in certain instances in life, during great crises, we are presented with a problem that is seemingly insurmountable. We do not know what to do, and yet our true character, our psychology emerges, such as anger that speaks harmful words, that causes conflict, whether it be in a matrimony, or with friends, or whomever, and yet after the moment of fire, of hatred, has passed, we retrospect and think to ourselves, “How did I possibly act in that way? How could I have thought or said that?” And then we go to that person and apologize. So we see there is a disconnect in this relationship.
We think we know who we are, our language, our customs, our culture, our name, our job, our diplomas. We think these are constitutive of who we are, what our real identity is. And yet we find that in moments of great trial, our true character is presented, emerges, in which we find that we have to define ourselves for good or for ill. And that we make mistakes, and we feel remorse and sense. “How did I possibly act in this way?” We say, “I feel true remorse for that action,” but if we really knew ourselves in a full consciousness sense, we would know how to act with compassion, with serenity, with insight, in any circumstance.
We would know the psychological causes of suffering, which, if we have studied Buddhism or any religion, state that suffering originates from within oneself. And there are many names and idioms and terminologies people can use, that become very complicated and very fancy, but specifically, a very simple way to look at it is just ego, self, “I,” “what I want, what I crave, what I desire.” We like to feed these desires, whether it be for a cup of coffee in a very superficial sense, or even habits that are destructive.
In the case of an alcoholic, they have a desire to consume that element, even though it will destroy them, and yet that desire is so overpowering, so heavy, so strong, that person simply invests their energy, goes with the flow, with that habit. And so we have to ask ourselves, “Who are we, really, psychologically?”
There are many beautiful sayings within different traditions, such as the Sufis. If you are familiar with the poetry of Rumi, Middle Eastern literature, they talk about that “He who knows himself knows his Lord.” And who is that Lord? Not some old man in the clouds with a beard, who sits on a throne of tyranny dispensing lightning bolts to this anthill of a humanity.
Divinity is not a person, but is a force, a way of being, a state of consciousness, a way of acting that is so selfless and so pure, that it sacrifices itself for the well-being of others without regard for itself, and yet it does not lose anything, because from that giving is an abundance that is divine, that is immortal, that comes from the very heights, metaphorically speaking, of the truth. And we all have that inside.
We have the Being, our own Inner God, to use Western terminology, but in these studies, we like to say Being, because the word God has a lot of baggage. People have a lot of traumas psychologically associated with religion, because they have been taught wrong and have been abused.
And that brings us to the question of “Where do we come from?” Religion and science like to fight and argue about our origins and have many intellectual concepts about having evolved from apes or having been created in seven days—many ideas that really are just contradictory and conflicting amongst themselves. And people follow one belief over another: religion, science. And they are battling each other. But neither of these ideas, these concepts, these beliefs, have resolved any of the problems we face on a day to day basis.
Therefore from the perspective of meditation, those type of arguments are useless. They do not benefit anyone. They do not teach us how to change, how to transform our agony, whether it be at work, we have a job we do not like, and yet we need the money to pay the bills, dealing with people who are negative, and yet believing in evolution or in science, in the Big Bang, does not change the problem of how I am going to react today in relation to my daily interactions with people. Instead, if I am attached to this concept, filled with a lot of arrogance, people in that type of mindset like to violate the minds of others, by arguing, by fighting.
So, where do we come from? These are questions that we answer from experience, from understanding, from spiritual comprehension, from perception. So whether one believes in reincarnation or one has one life in this existence, really, those types of theories are useless in comparison to where do we come from psychologically.
Where did our sense of desire or egotism originate? Where does pain come from? And how do we emerge from that? How do we saturate ourselves in suffering? And how do we continue to indulge in behaviors that produce conflict? That is really what should concern us.
And where are we going? Look at humanity. Where are people going? And also we ask ourselves, where are we going with a life of perhaps materialism, bank accounts marriage papers, drugs, alcohol, anger, violence, resentment? With all these desires that we possess that are contradictory in nature, that conflict, what is our course?
You may believe in, because of religion, some sense of heaven or hell, or some type of afterlife. Even if we want to have that conviction in our mind, it does not mean that we really know where are we going. Instead, knowing where one will go in life is precisely discovered in this moment, introspecting and observing: what is my psychological state? Is it positive, or is it negative?
And if you want to study religion, we study in this tradition many aspects of different teachings. And we understand that in nature there are places where the soul gravitates, but many people think that simply by believing in some doctrine that they are going to go to this higher state of consciousness, ascend to some higher way of being, but beliefs do not change anybody. Action does. So what we are psychologically determines where we go in life, in nature, in the cosmos.
So what are we living for? Do we live for a religion, for a doctrine to believe in, to be firmly convinced in some political party or another, some philosophy or another? What do those beliefs actually produce in us? That is something we have to introspect and ask.
How do my ways of thinking, my ways of feeling, my ideas, shape who I am? Do they really change our behavior?
In some cases that is the case. But someone may adopt a religion, a faith, and may simply go through the motions, not understanding the genuine principles behind that religion, because they simply adopt mannerisms, language, culture, which is related to personality. It is not eternal. It is just habits, which people engage in mechanically and do not really understand. And that type of mechanical, habitual behavior does not lead anyone out of suffering.
Instead, it is questioning what we are living for that does not come from an intellectual concept, but from observation of facts—observing what in me makes me gravitate to, say, these type of words, these type of behaviors, these type of actions to people. How do I interact with others, humanity?
And you find that when one learns to act from a state of consciousness devoid of desire, one does not act for one’s own well-being, but for others, for humanity, out of a state of compassion. But most people, what are they living for is usually money, materialism, fashion, drugs, sensations, because they feel that by accumulating all these things, in the end, one will simply go to the grave.
But that is ignoring the fundamental law of nature: “For every effect there is a cause. Every cause has an effect.”
Your mind is energy. Your heart, your actions, your ways of being, is a form of energy, and when that energy ceases to act in the physical body, it still continues. And this is where the concepts of reincarnation and other theories become very challenging for people, because they do not have consciousness of these things. Instead, it is just an idea, something to either believe in or not believe in. But if you awaken your perception, you will know for yourself that every action produces a consequence. Energy moves, fluctuates, and depending on our level of being, our ways of acting, our virtues, our defects, that determines where we go.
But instead of thinking of the afterlife or some other existence, one should think about or contemplate this present moment, who we are, and that determines what we live for, whether it be for desire, craving for more money or a better job, a better spouse, or whatnot, but instead, resolving this question will aid one in developing the true qualities of consciousness, which is virtue, happiness, contentment, cognizance.
So why are we living is another big question. This is a personal thing we need to ask ourselves. Why are we really living? Is it simply because we have energy, we are born in this life, and we just go with the flow? We want to go along with family, what they believe, what they think, prejudices, biases, whether we agree with or not. The question is, why are we living?
Religion will teach you that you are here because of this, this, and this, or some philosophy will teach you we are living in this world for these reasons. And people have a lot of ideas about why we are living—concepts, but those are just concepts. We have to understand why we are living based on our actions. What produces happiness, not just for ourselves, but for others? For humanity? For from our Being emerges spontaneous harmony with others, with other sentient beings.
So that question is very important to ask ourselves, and usually people who have really hit rock bottom, who have suffered a lot because of certain ordeals or traumas in life, from childhood, from adulthood, they ask this question, because they experience a great state of pain, an abyss in which they do not know how they will get out. Usually, people who reach that state, who hit rock bottom, ask this question and say “Why am I here? Why am I suffering so much?” Because when you resolve to yourself to not suffer anymore, you will desire to look for the answer, to not be in suffering.
The Nature of the True Human Being
And that questioning leads us into discussing the nature of what it means to be a human being. So we use the term human being and humanity for others out of respect, but it is evident by the news and the many trials and afflictions of humanity that people are experiencing the fruits of desire, of anger, of pride, of resentment. A human, Hum-Man being, in Sanskrit, is represented by this mantra: Om Masi Padme Hum, or in the traditional sense, Om Mani Padme Hum. They have the same meaning, but different levels of application and practice according with the different traditions of Buddhism: one secretive, one public. But a human being made into the image of the divine is something very special, something so profound, that we only have a handful of examples in humanity, like Jesus, Buddha Krishna, Moses, the prophets.
They were true men and women. We have Joan of Arc, a great human being, a great master. There are many people who exemplified the highest ideals that are taught in religion and tradition. And religion would like to have people think that we are already human, and out of respect, we use that term, but if we look at our daily life, and we look at the facts and understand, what does it mean to be human, we can resolve this question.
Hum relates to spirit, unity, integration. Om is the sacred mantra of God, of the Being. Om is the presence of our own true potential. It is interesting that the word Hum means spirit, and in these times, people often conflate spirit with self or spirit with soul. We have a fraction or portion of soul that can be developed, but a spirit is the divine, is the Being. So a Hum-Man is a person who has really incarnated and manifested Hum, the spirit, also represented by Om or Aum.
The word Mani, where we get the word man, designates both man and woman, of both sexes. But Man or Mani in Sanskrit means mind, a mind who has fully expressed Hum, the spirit. Mani also means “stone” or “jewel.” So we could say that a human being is like a precious jewel; it reflects the light of the divine.
And so we have examples in our history of beings like Jesus, Moses, Buddha, Krishna, many prophets, angels, masters, whatever names you want to give them, who exemplified and fully manifested the qualities of the spirit inside of them. And so they irradiate virtues like joy, altruism, philanthropy, patience, naturally and spontaneously, without conflict, without artifice. They simply give out of their full conscious potential because they have actualized the very light of their consciousness. And therefore, they have no defect; they do not desire. They do not crave. They do not hate. They do not fear. They simply know the divine within them, and therefore, they are fearless. They are patient in all circumstances, just as in the case with Jesus. He was being crucified, beaten, mocked, humiliated, and he only said, “Father forgive them they know not what they do.”
Buddha likewise faced persecution, poison. Socrates was also given hemlock to drink, another great initiate, a great master, a great prophet.
Humanity does not like these human beings. People like to follow a religion based off these people, but they do not like their teachings, which is why those religions have been castrated, have been sterilized, have been emasculated. Their real teaching has been adulterated. So people now follow religions that really do not emphasize or teach the heart of what these human beings taught.
But it is important to recognize that a real Hum-Man is like a lotus, signified by the word Padme, meaning “flower, wisdom.” And what is a lotus flower? A perfect allegory of us, of our potential. A flower emerges from the mud of a swamp, the impurities of the mind, in order to blossom with perfection, with beauty, with harmony.
That is our potential. We can become like that. We are, right now, like a candle, like a flame, a spark of potentiality, of energy, which can become a great sun—radiant, overpowering, full of virtue, and omniscient to the point that one can make the very stars move around oneself, not out of selfishness, but out of a divine understanding of all things.
So different traditions explain that the human being has to be created, has to be formed. Jesus of Nazareth never said that we have soul, but that we have potential to develop it. “With patience possess ye your souls,” He said.
And we have other stories that allegorize this great struggle in the person to become a genuine Hum-Man, like Pinocchio. Pinocchio was a wooden boy who wanted to become a boy of flesh and blood. And he had many helpers and many ordeals and trials that he experiences. But in the beginning, he is a puppet. He is played with by external forces and internal forces. He is not really human; he is more animal because an animal desires. It wants something it seeks to get it. It fights for its cravings, it’s aversions.
And so without seeking to insult, we state with facts that we are intellectual animals. What is an animal? It comes from the Latin anima, meaning soul, “to animate, to act.” And we have intellect. We have intellect, and we have desire. So we are beings that are impure, like the symbol of the flower that can emerge from the mud of the swamp, which is our own anger, our own resentments, our desires, our hatreds, our fears. Those impurities of the soul have to be removed so that the flower of our genuine consciousness can emerge. And that is how we develop unity, Hum. Spirit is unity.
There are many religions from the Middle East that teach that divinity is one, whether it be Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, even some aspects of Christianity, which teach that divinity is an integrity, a unification of the soul with the spirit to create a new being, a radiant one, a prophet. But we have to ask ourselves: do we possess unity in our life?
If we are honest, we tend to find that we have a lot of conflict, a lot of struggle. We think one way in the morning and then we act another way in the evening. We have a lot of contradictions, and many people point this out to us, which we do not like. We tend to fight for this sense of self whom we identify with, but a human being a spirit, a spiritual one only respects others and is unitary. And so that unity is expressed within many beings which have been known in religion as angels, masters, prophets, buddhas, enlightened ones.
In this image we have a Christian symbol of those illuminated ones ascending towards the height, represented by Christ, by Jesus, and it is important to recognize that divinity has the name Christ. It is not a person, but is an energy, a force which is within all of the cosmos, and Jesus came to represent that highest aspect of divinity within oneself, within the mind, within the heart, within the soul. And so that prophet physically lived a drama with his flesh and bones to teach something that is psychological, of which we will be explaining in these courses.
But this is a perfect beautiful description of states of being, higher ways of being. And we see these great illuminated ones ascending higher and higher and higher towards, really, the infinitude of the divine. There was a Sufi master by the name of Abdul Karim al-Jili, I think. He stated that “The journey to God is short. The journey in God is infinite,” which corroborates with a statement given by the 14th Dalai Lama that we have to “develop the conviction that consciousness has the potential to increase to an infinite degree.”
So a lot of people become concerned that when they work on their negativity, their desires, their faults, they feel that “If I eliminate these things , who will I be? Who am I? What will be left?” And the truth is that when you eliminate, comprehend and remove the impurities of the soul, the conditions of the consciousness, you become the natural, radiant, pristine light of cognizance of the universe, of the divine. And so those levels of being ascend higher and higher and higher to the infinitude. By understanding that the consciousness can develop more and more, we then seek to comprehend the obstacles in this present moment, who we are, what conditions us, why do we suffer.
I am pretty sure many of us can consider and think in our own experience of a moment in life in which we sensed or experienced a greater state of perception. Perhaps we did not think about it. It could be something simple like washing dishes, in which we realized that, as we are fully present in the moment, we become serene, at peace, with a state of alert attention that is supranormal, expansive, profound. Our childhood tends to have many of these moments, which become lost as we condition ourselves, whether it be through the education system or our parents, our friends.
These type of expanded states of consciousness have also been referenced to by the world of dreams. Dreams for most people tend to be very subjective, but there are rare cases in which individuals become awake in the dream state, in which they are aware that they are not in their physical body, but they are in a totally different dimension. And this is represented here. We see that the heavens in the top two-thirds of this graphic represent again those levels of consciousness which are accessed, such as through death. Notice that we have a grave here with flowers, representing the resurrection of Christ, which is also a very beautiful symbol, something also very esoteric and profound: how the soul resurrects when it is dead to desire. And also, in life, we can experience heightened states of perception that are not physical, but in the world of dreams, which we will be teaching in our courses on dream yoga.
But it is important to recognize that consciousness can expand, and as Mr. Leadbeater from an esoteric school from the past stated, “It is the gravest of mistakes to believe that the limit of our perception is the limit of all that there is to perceive.”
The Tree of Life
Which is why we reference the following graphic. This image has been known in Judaism and Christianity, as well as Islam, as the tree of life. It is a symbol. It is not a literal tree that existed in Mesopotamia, in which Adam and Eve and some, better said allegorical, garden could enjoy the fruits thereof. This is a map of consciousness, a map of being, which we will be explaining didactically throughout this course and other courses as well that we have given on our website: chicagognosis.org.
In synthesis, this is a map of who we are, a map of our perception, our levels of being, our ways of being. It may seem very complicated, but in synthesis, it is very simple, and it is something that we explore many times again and again in greater detail as we learn to become meditators, because any experience in meditation can be mapped to this glyph.
This is a map of being and a map of our human consciousness. In synthesis, we can state that, above, we have the highest potential of consciousness. Some traditions call this the trinity, such as in Christianity: Father, Son, Holy Spirit, which are not people, but energies. In Hebrew, we call them Kether, Chokmah, Binah: Crown, Wisdom, Intelligence.
Beneath that, we have Hum, the spirit, our inner God, our Being, better said. This is known as Chesed meaning “Mercy.” So when the Qur’an speaks about “In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful,” it is talking about this sphere, this aspect of divinity.
We also have Geburah, meaning “Justice.” This is the divine consciousness, which greatly interests us in these studies.
Below that, we have Tiphereth, meaning “Beauty,” our will, which can fully express the qualities of the divine above or follow the whims of egotistical desire below. So this is really the essence of who we are, Tiphereth, soul that is related to will, action.
Netzach is “Victory” in Hebrew, meaning the mind, the intellect.
We have Hod, meaning “Splendor,” the emotions.
Yesod means “Foundation,” as our vital energies, which give us life to our physical body.
Malkuth means “Kingdom.”
These are not spheres that exist vertically in space, but are qualities of being in ourselves, here and now. This is the nature of the Being, the divine.
So a Hum-Man being is one whose will has controlled the mind, the emotions, the energies and the physical body, to serve the spirit, these higher spheres above and also towards the beyond. And you can see that these three circles above represent the light of the divine, which is where all those angels ascend in that previous image.
So “The Being is the Being,” says Samael Aun Weor in The Revolution of the Dialectic. And the question is: “What is the Being?” Most people do not know, but by working with exercises like that mantra, we worked with “Aum Masi Padme Hum,” that mantra activates the energies of the heart relating to Tiphereth, our will, and develops the beauty of the soul. It can manifest the energies that come from above in this graphic, so that we learn to be, to be present, to be aware, because the divine, divinity, exists in this present moment, here and now. All we need is to learn to become attentive, to comprehend and to access that state.
And what is the reason for the Being to be? Is to be the Being itself. So divinity only longs for one purpose. And going back to our question of why are we here—why do we live? It is because we have an inner divinity within us who wants the soul to reunite and return with understanding, but saying this is only theoretical until you experience it and understand it through your own work, for your own path. So the Being is very significant.
We can speak to the divine in the world of dreams. And I will relate to you an experience I had years ago when I first started these studies, to help provide a concrete example of what this image represents.
So this tree of life is used to explain different traditions, whether Judeo-Christian, but also Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim. And I remember many years ago while practicing meditation, I fell asleep. I let my body relax to the point that I forgot it, let it go, and I went inside my mind into the state known as Hod, the world of emotions. This is the dream world where we experience dreams. And in that state, I was shown an image or a series of images from my Being, my Inner God, to teach me about this image. At the time, I had never studied Kabbalah, which is what this graphic is. Kabbalah, in Hebrew, means “to receive,” kabbel. It is experiences that we receive directly from our inner divinity, our inner Being. And I remember seeing a series of ten images, ten faces, ten portraits, and my own was at the very bottom, the very end. And I remember being very startled. I woke up.
I knew it was from my iner spirit, and I wondered what the meaning was until someone introduced to me what is known as the Kabbalah, with ten spheres—ten faces; ten aspects of the divine, because we are part of divinity. And my face was at the bottom because I am in this physical body. I am at the bottom who wants to go up and experience all the different aspects of the Being.
So this is a very beautiful map that we study and teach, practice and understand didactically, but this is just the synthesis, an introduction.
Life, Transformation, and the Level of Being
So when we ask what is Being, we also discuss what are levels of Being.
In these studies, we like to be practical. We study psychology, the nature of the mind from the practical perspective that we seek to understand the causes of suffering, as I have mentioned.
We see in this image a riot. I do not remember where this image was taken, but these are becoming more common. It is evident by the ways of being of humanity, of individuals, people who are filled with resentment and anger. They obviously gravitate towards other people who possess the same psychological qualities. So what our mind is determines our life. As Buddha taught, “Mind precedes phenomena. We become what we think.”
And likewise, what we are psychologically determines whom we interact with. We like to be with people who are at our level of being, a way of perceiving, a way of knowing. Drunkards are with other drunkards, drug users with other drug users, etc., businessmen with businessmen. People live in society based on their attractions within their psyche, their ways of thinking, feeling, and acting.
And so we have to comprehend and understand: what is our level of being? With what type of people do we associate, and why? Because that determines and explains for us what we have inside. Because if we ignore who we are and the type of people we interact with, we miss out on very profound knowledge about how to ascend to a higher way of a being, to associate with more spiritual people. And when I say this, I do not just mean physically. I mean that when you learn to meditate and ascend up that graphic of the tree of life that we looked at, you learn to naturally speak face to face in those experiences with beings who are more elevated than you are, who are angelic, represented by initiation. In certain traditions like in Egypt, certain masters who are very developed can teach you things and help you go higher and give you more knowledge.
Samael Aun Weor in Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology taught that:
“Nobody can deny the fact that there are different social levels. There are church going people, people in brothels, farmers, businessmen, etc. In a like manner, there are different levels of Being. Whatever we are internally, munificent or mean, generous or miserly, violent or peaceful, chaste or lustful, attracts the various circumstances of life. The lustful person will always attract scenes, dramas, and even lascivious tragedies in which he will become involved. A drunkard will always attract drunkards and will always be seen in bars or taverns; this is obvious…” —Samael Aun Weor, Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology
So if we suffer because of certain circumstances in life, it is because we have something inside that we have to face and comprehend, because certain people in our work or job or in life, we meet as a result of our level of being. So by learning to comprehend where we are at, we can learn to ascend towards a higher level.
“So what is our moral level? Or better said, what is our level of Being?” —Samael Aun Weor, Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology
The word morality also has a lot of baggage. People think morality has to do with codes of conduct, thinking that such and such is a way to live, a concept, a means, a belief system, but really who we are relates to our level of Being, our ways of acting, our ways of thinking, our ways of feeling.
So as we have initiated this lecture, what is our moral level, what is our level of Being? Because:
“The repetition of all our miseries, scenes, misfortunes, and mishaps will last as long as the level of our being does not radically change. All things all circumstances that occur outside ourselves on the stage of this world are exclusively the reflection of what we carry within. With good reason, then we can solemnly declare that the exterior is the reflection of the interior. When someone changes internally, and if that change is radical, then circumstances, life, and the external will also change.” —Samael Aun Weor, Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology
The Line of Life and the Line of Being
When we study the level of Being, we look at this graphic. We study this glyph many times in our studies and teachings. We have two lines, one vertical, one horizontal.
The horizontal line is the line of life. This is the path that everybody follows: birth, childhood, adolescence, adulthood, old age, decrepitude, death, beginning to end, involving all the scenes and tragedies and comedies that we experience usually in a very mechanical way. We tend to just go with the flow. Life occurs to us, and we simply are pushed around like a puppet, like Pinocchio, by the different circumstances of life.
Someone says something negative to us; we think or respond with anger or resentment. We lose our job; we become filled with fear. Our spouse argues with us. We feel humiliated and angry. Therefore, where is the autonomy of the human person that we like to claim that we have? We tend to just be reactionary towards life, towards circumstances, but this is where the vertical path becomes very essential, important for these studies.
When someone begins to question themselves in this present moment, in this point where the present meets with the line of Being, we can learn to access higher ways of Being. So neither in the future or in the past do we discover ourselves, our psychological conditions, but here and now.
The line of Being is a vertical path; it is a path traversed by revolutionaries, but not physical revolutionaries—spiritual ones, psychological, in which we learn to go against all the negativity and reactions we carry within.
“What is our Level of Being? Have we ever reflected upon this?” —Samael Aun Weor, Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology
Because here and now is where we discover ourselves, as I said. By learning to become mindful of where we are at and what we are doing, what we are saying, what we are thinking, what we are feeling, and learn to act for the benefit of others, out of compassion, we are learning to ascend to higher states, higher ways of knowing.
“It would be impossible to pass into another level if we ignore the level in which we presently are.” ―Samael Aun Weor, Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology
And we will explain in these lectures, in this course, that process. If you are interested in learning more about this topic, you can study two books by Samael Aun Weor, including Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology and The Great Rebellion.
This is a transcription of an audio lecture from Beginning Self-Transformation, originally given live at the Gnostic Academy of Chicago:
History is filled with oppression, violence, and revolutions. More so, humanity is obsessed with the ideologies that perpetuate conflict, dissonance, and political enmity. It is enough to raise a flag in the name of freedom to incite the blood of millions of individuals to march to war.
People have many justifications for rebellion: the government is negligent, the taxes too high, the laws too strict, the politicians too incompetent. Sadly, our humanity is exclusively concerned with external changes, with rebellion against ideas, culture, politics, religion, or the state. However, people ignore the internal, psychological causes of affliction and social conflict, and therefore do not know how to rebel against themselves.
Our society celebrates rebels, because they set trends and go against the flow, risking their lives often without seeking popularity. Their strong will and rugged individualism set them apart from the rabble. While such qualities are not condemnatory, the masses tend to admire such persons for the wrong reasons. People like Che Guevara, James Dean, rebels without a cause, William Wallace in the film Braveheart, musicians, and poets—individuals who incite violence and political rebellion—they capture the imagination of the populace due to their strong conviction and beliefs in freedom. While humanity admires the good intentions of these philosophers, warriors, and thinkers, the results of their ideologies have produced all the sufferings and bloodshed of the great wars, which have plunged this planet into complete ignorance and darkness.
Ideology, whether from east or west, propounds freedom. People sing it in the churches, on the tops of minarets, before the altar of the synagogues, and in the meeting halls of Congress and the Senate. Yet it is this very concept of freedom that religion and governments have used to provoke all the wars of history, to defend their missions, agendas, and conquests. The concept of freedom fascinates, captivates, and hypnotizes. It obstructs the discernment of the consciousness and its ability to act for the benefit of all people, regardless of race, culture, religion, sex, or tradition.
People want freedom. Many are even willing to kill or be killed for it. But rather than take such ideals at face value, we, in these studies, like to question things profoundly, to understand the significance of such terms at their roots. Therefore, we sincerely ask: what is freedom?
In North America and in many countries, people have the freedom to chose what to eat, where to travel, where to work, what to believe, and whom to marry. And yet everybody continues to suffer. We work at jobs we hate, fearing our boss, envying our co-workers, being constantly consumed by feelings of dissatisfaction, criticism, backbiting, emptiness, and despair.
Yet despite all our tragedies, people like to externalize. They want to blame the exterior world for all their problems. We want to change everything outside of us to conform with our habits, dispositions, and prejudices. While people constantly fight to better their external situations, we prefer, in these psychological studies, to analyze the source of our discontents, desires, and sufferings, which is within ourselves, within the mind.
Humanity always wants to defend its desires, even at the expense of other people’s lives. But what if we were to do something that has not been done before, at least by most? What if, rather than go against the government, political establishment, or popular culture, we were to question our own wants, desires, and cravings? What if we were to rebel against ourselves and our own psychological conditions that we have put in the way of our own personal and spiritual development?
Bloodshed and violence will always recur so long as people do not look within themselves to comprehend the psychological impetus, the impulse, the will, that pushes them to act in mistaken ways. Therefore, rather than rebel against the external world, we ask: “What if we were to rebel against our own desires?”
This question, of course, dissatisfies the majority, because humanity is fascinated and enslaved to desire, yet for the few who want to comprehend and develop their full conscious potential, such an inquiry becomes the foundation and focal point of initiation into a higher state of consciousness, a superior Level of Being.
Radical Change Goes Against Time
To enter, experience, and develop our full potential, the individual must make a very defined and concerted effort within him or herself. Such an effort goes against the concept of time, evolution, and progress. Such an effort requires that we examine our own psychological states of suffering in the present moment, to discover where our pain originates, how it sustains, and how it may be pacified.
People believe that with time, situations will improve. Yet no great luminary, prophet, buddha, angel, etc., ever taught that things improve with time. What the great messengers of humanity emphasized is that true psychological and spiritual development is the outcome of tremendous internal revolutions.
“…the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. —Matthew 11:12
Wars will continue to exist on our planet because people expect external circumstances must change, not their interior life. Rioting, violence, despair, and destruction will perpetuate and condemn humanity to a vicious circle so long as people have delusions about “tomorrow,” that eventually, if we wait long enough, “things will get better.”
This is why Samael Aun Weor, the founder of the modern Gnostic tradition, stated in his book Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology:
“The mechanical hope of people serves no purpose. They think that with time things will get better. Our grandfather and great grandfathers thought that way; however, facts have arrived to precisely demonstrate the opposite of this.” —Samael Aun Weor, Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology
Waiting around does not produce changes. People always look for political revolutions to transform the state of suffering they are in, ignoring that through regime change or usurpations, one oppressive form of government is replaced by another.
It would be better to rebel against our own states of mind than the external world. Such a spiritual revolution occurs when we go against our own habits, wants, desires, conditions. As we are now, we tend to be slaves of circumstances.
How is this the case? When we are insulted by an aggressor, we return with insults. We are betrayed, then we want to get revenge. When we are patted on the back, we smile.
People have the power to influence us as they wish, and in fact it takes very little effort to make us follow along with someone else’s program. Therefore, the question is: “Are we truly free?” And if not, “How do we become free?”
Examine your daily life. Do people influence you? Are you free from the desire for retaliation? When someone treats you with disrespect, are you able to respond with genuine kindness and concern, with selflessness, compassion? Do you act of your own volition, free of the prejudices, hatreds, and negativity of others? Or are you impelled by your own states of suffering: anger, resentment, anguish, fear, and pride, whenever someone rubs you the wrong way?
Our psychological states repeat in relation to the circumstances that provoke them. Trying to manipulate external circumstances will not produce radical change so long as our mind is egotistical, filled with conditions and suffering. If we truly want the external world to change, we must enact a transformation in our own psyche. Life will continue to roll on beyond our control if we do not know how to consciously manage our own psychological states, replacing the afflictions of mind and heart with the virtues of the soul.
Be sincere. Analyze the facts of your life. People who wait for change never experience it, because the world will continue as it is so long as we do not contribute to it in meaningful and conscious ways.
Spiritual and Psychological Revolutions
The path of the spiritual revolutionary, of the psychologist, is one of internalization: to look within the consciousness to discover the conditions that shape one’s existence. Therefore, rather than rebel against the government, which could be replaced by another far worse, it would be better to rebel against our own negative states of mind.
To be clear, when we use the term psychology, we do not refer to recent studies of the intellect, the brain, and its nervous systems. Instead, our studies focus on psyche, the soul, the consciousness, and its relationship to logos, the divine; psyche-logos, psycho-logy.
A true psychologist understands and manifests his own inner Being, her inner divinity, and because of this, experiences true freedom, bliss, free of external circumstances, afflictions, or conditions.
A spiritual rebel is someone like Jesus, Buddha, Moses, Krishna, Beethoven: individuals who fully manifested their spirit, true human beings in the most complete sense of the word. These masters unlocked their creative power and were able to influence millions, since by awakening the full potential of their consciousness, they rose to a higher level of Being so as to express that divinity to humanity.
Another example of such a revolutionary is William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. His own kingdom goes against him, yet he thinks for himself, feigning madness in order to gather information about his enemies. Who are those enemies? His own negativities, defects, desires. His uncle, mother, and old acquaintances, friends, try to provoke him to discover the source of his act, yet he always knows how to handle his foes with intelligence. This is a perfect allegory for how to live in life: observant, watchful, and wise, never reacting with suffering to circumstances, but knowing how to respond with equanimity and understanding.
Hamlet uses the analogy of the individual as a musical instrument, which people can play upon to produce any melody they wish. When people do not train themselves in meditation, they are like a flute that any stranger can manipulate for the desired song, the longed-for effect, the anticipated reaction, frustration, hatred, etc. Yet Hamlet demonstrates, in this remarkable play, how one can rebel against “the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,” and by “taking arms against a sea of troubles” through meditating on the causes of suffering, can “oppose and end them.” This refers to no longer letting the external world dictate one’s response to life. As Hamlet berates his former friend Guildenstern:
Why, look you now, how unworthy a thing you make of me! You would play upon me. You would seem to know my stops. You would pluck out the heart of my mystery. You would sound me from my lowest note to the top of my compass. And there is much music, excellent voice, in this little organ, yet cannot you make it speak? 'Sblood, do you think I am easier to be played on than a pipe? Call me what instrument you will, though you can fret me, yet you cannot play upon me. —Hamlet, Act III.ii
When we no longer react mechanically to life, when we chose how to respond with wisdom to difficult situations, to emotional crises, we can truly rebel against that which perpetuates affliction, chaos, and sorrow.
The Marvelous Ladder
Therefore, true change is demonstrated through psychological rebellion, through going against our own mechanical reactions to life, and not by trying to force the external world to conform with our ideas.
When we comprehend our own states of being, our own ways of thinking, feeling, and acting, and when we no longer go along with whatever negative response emerges within our interior, we are in truth enacting psychological rebellion.
The liberated consciousness knows how to respond to any situation with equanimity, serenity, and insight. When we act upon our genuine spiritual nature, and no longer follow the imperfections of our own character, we are in truth waging a spiritual war, here and now.
This is the war of the spirit against internal afflictions, against conditions of mind. This type of war has nothing to do with the fanaticism of certain religions or cultures that think that by forcing people to believe in a specific tradition, that one is performing good works, that one is a martyr, an apostle.
This spiritual war is type of conscious work enacted for the redemption of the soul, for its liberation and unification with divinity. Psychological rebellion exists when we rise towards a superior level of being.
Remember that we stated how consciousness can expand to infinite degrees. Divinity, the innermost Being, resides within the most profound regions of our own consciousness. We can learn to experience the Being and rise to higher levels of consciousness when we rebel against our own conditioned selves in this present moment.
…it is not irrelevant if we imagine the numerous rungs of a ladder which extends itself upwards, vertically.
Unquestionably, we find ourselves on any one of these rungs. On the lower rungs will be people worse than us, and on the higher rungs persons better than us will be found.
On this extraordinary Vertical, on this “Marvelous Ladder,” it is clear that we can find all the Levels of Being.
Each person is different; this is something that no one can dispute.
Undoubtedly, we are not talking about pretty or ugly faces, nor is it a question of age. There are young and old people, old persons about to die as well as newborns.
The subject matter of time and of years, that matter of being born, of maturing, developing, marrying, reproducing and aging is exclusively of the Horizontal.
On the “Marvelous Ladder,” on the Vertical, the concept of time does not fit in. On the rungs of such a scale we can only find Levels of Being. —Samael Aun Weor, Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology
The horizontal path relates to time and everything related to the world, with temporality, personality, birth, life, and death. On the horizontal line of life, we are born to this world, grow up, mature, become old, and pass out of physical existence.
It is easy to see that this horizontal path is traveled by everyone. People who live and never question their existence, who suffer all the outrages of life without ever really knowing why, adhere to the horizontal path of life in the most unconscious and severe manner. These people, the public, the masses, simply go with the flow of existence without looking into their own minds to discover the secret causes of affliction.
But what about the vertical path?
The vertical path relates to how one reacts or responds to life based on one’s quality of mind. The horizontal path will always exist, since it refers to the progression of events and experiences along the trajectory of physical life that emerge and repeat mechanically. Yet the vertical path has to do with whether we, as a consciousness, will learn to respond to life with rectitude and love, or react with animosity against the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.”
To live in the Being, to remember the presence of divinity in oneself, to be psychologically alert, is to be aware only of the present moment in which we are. The vertical path is constituted by levels of being, ascending towards superior states or descend towards inferior states, based on how we use our consciousness here and now.
What we are psychologically determines how we will respond to the horizontal line, to the facts of life.
When a person simply reacts to external circumstances with anger, frustration, negativity, suffering, and affliction, it is a sure indication that one is attached to the horizontal path. Yet by responding to situations with wisdom, understanding, and conscious love, we are in truth going against the flow of our own habits, dispositions, and desires, indicating that we are ascending to higher levels of being.
The Bible allegorizes the vertical path through Jacob’s ladder:
"And [Jacob] dreamed, and behold a ladder [of the Vertical Path] set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it." —Genesis 28:12
Heavenly states of being exist in the superior part of the vertical path. Diabolic states of consciousness exist in the inferior part of the vertical path, beneath the horizontal.
Heaven and hell are places in the multidimensionality of nature, yet more importantly refer to states of consciousness, as we explained in the previous lecture on “The Level of Being.”
Our level of being is determined by how we use our consciousness in the present moment, whether for good or for ill. We either ascend upon the vertical path based on spiritual works or descend through identifying with all the sorrows of life.
The Present Moment
To ascend to a higher level of being, we must awaken as a consciousness, here and now. We usually do not pay attention to the present moment but think only of the future or the past. Most people never contemplate the present instance in which they are, in its totality, richness, and novelty. This fundamental ignorance of what exists inside and outside of us, here and now, indicates that our consciousness is very asleep, that it is dreaming.
Since we have energy, some level of awareness that we are in our physical body, we tend to believe that we are awake. The reality, however, is different.
Humanity believes that dreams only relate to the sleep of the physical body. Yet people ignore that their consciousness is asleep even while the physical body is active. People who are unconscious in the dream state are also unconscious in their physical bodies. People whose consciousness is trained and awake through meditation in the physical body are also awake as a consciousness during the normal hours of physical sleep. They experience what are known as heavens in religion, different dimensions related to the Tree of Life that we spoke about previously. They leave behind the body and enter the dream world with full consciousness; they are no longer dreaming. They experience the realities of those internal worlds beyond the physical body with full awareness through what are known as out of body experiences and astral projections.
So besides this, how do we truly know humanity is not conscious?
People tend to live their entire lives in complete distraction. By this I do not just mean watching television or reality shows, by using Facebook or the iPhone, by going to Six Flags: Great America and roller coasters, by not being responsible members of society. While these are obvious examples of distraction, there exists a deeper application to this principle.
Why do people get into car accidents? Why do accidents happen? It’s because people are not paying attention. They are dreaming.
If it’s true that people get killed in accidents because they don’t pay attention, the same principle applies to spiritual life. Our spirituality is dead if our mind is constantly wandering with thoughts and anxieties, if we are always distracted in life and never paying attention to where we are at or where we are going.
You cannot experience divinity if you are thinking of your friends when washing the dishes, or when driving your car remembering your fiancée. You cannot know the Being if you are constantly distracted by memories, daydreams, preoccupations, and fantasies, instead of being attentive with whatever task engages you in the present moment.
To access higher states of consciousness, we must be present. We must be alert and vigilant as a consciousness. All religions and mystical traditions, in their original forms, taught that watchfulness of the present moment is the beginning of union with divinity. This means that if we are doing something, we don’t think or worry about other things, but only engage our attention and concentration to the task at hand.
While listening to this lecture, how often have you become distracted and lost the thread of my meaning? You might have been listening, but started thinking about other things, until your minds have wandered off completely. Suddenly, you remember, “I’m supposed to be listening!” This type of distracted thinking needs to be controlled by the consciousness. We must always learn to be watchful in all events and situations.
Experience of the truth occurs here and now, within our own perception, when a profound state of attention and remembrance has been established within our interior through conscious works. Yet this can only occur when we no longer allow ourselves to be distracted.
This is why certain traditions practiced vigils, whereby the practitioners would perform rituals without physically going to sleep. The essential meaning is that we, as a consciousness, must never lose our guard, must never cease paying attention to what is going on around and within us in this instant.
It is alert vigilance, watchfulness, that opens the doorway to seeing and understanding why we suffer. When you perceive in yourself your own negative psychological states and no longer invest them with your conscious energy, it is a sure indication that you are ascending to higher levels of being. This is the vertical path that leads towards different experiences of divinity, in gradual steps.
Our level of being, therefore, can only change when we are aware of this moment.
"It is not irrelevant to remind our readers that a mathematical point exists within us. Unquestionably, such a point is never found either in the past or in the future. Whosoever wants to discover that mysterious point must look for it here and now within oneself at this exact moment, not a second earlier, not a second later. The two horizontal and vertical lines of the Holy Cross intersect at this point. Thus, we find ourselves from moment to moment before two paths: the Horizontal and the Vertical. —Samael Aun Weor, Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology
To be is different from existing mechanically in life. As Hamlet stated, “To be or not to be, that is the question.” To remember the presence of the Being by ascending the vertical path, or to be unconscious of the truth by following the horizontal line of life: that is the essential question of Shakespeare’s play. To live mechanically is to live identified with personality, materialism, mechanical thoughts, desires, habits, addictions, preoccupations, anxieties, monetary needs, work problems, struggles in relationships. To think that one is thinking, to be lost in the mind and its conditions, is to be asleep, dreaming.
As we mentioned, when people do no pay attention on the road, they end up crashing their car and killing themselves and others. This is a very common occurrence.
When we allow ourselves to be distracted by our own mind and the difficulties of life, we are traveling the horizontal path. But when we consciously rebel against negative qualities of mind through perceiving the present moment in its fullness, we are in truth ascending the vertical path of being.
The Being is Not of Time
Therefore, eternity is the present moment. People like to think of eternity as some utopia in the clouds, that one will reach after living a pious life of belief and servility to some tradition. These types of illusions, however, constitute the mechanical hopes of people, since beliefs and traditions belong to the horizontal line of life, to time. Such thoughts, beliefs, religions, and ways of thinking are born in time and die in time. It is enough to look at the birth, life, and decay of certain past civilizations to see this dynamic in action.
The Being, however, is eternal. The consciousness, with its multiple levels, exists in different rungs, higher and higher, in the present instance, not in the future, nor the past. Truth is the unknown, discovered within ourselves from moment to moment. We can experience the spiritual flavor of the Being and of the psychological qualities of the consciousness by learning to direct attention and keep it active in all events of life.
The Being is beyond thought, feeling, and will. Our consciousness emanated from the Being, and has nothing to do with thinking, desires, or conditions.
Consciousness is simply the capacity to perceive without thought, feeling, or impulse. To think that we are thinking, to feel that we are feeling, to act without internal self-reflection, indicates that the consciousness is not active, but identified with thought, feeling, and desire. It is mechanical, dreaming.
Therefore, how can we experience and unite with the Being if we are caught up in thinking and reacting to the mechanical circumstances of life, by not paying attention to what is going on?
Whenever we are caught in thinking or daydreaming of other things, we become lost in the horizontal line of life, with temporality, which is a subjective form of experience.
As Samael Aun Weor indicated, everyone has their own ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving. Everyone has diverse levels of being, different dispositions and character. Such dispositions and habits are subjective, not objective. Our own beliefs, ways of thinking, and behaving are unique to us. Yet the Being is different, objective, truthful, beyond the temporal personality.
Most of humanity has no idea what the Being is, because they do not look within themselves for divinity. To experience the Being, we must learn to awaken consciousness, since our soul, our perception, is the only thing that can help us to understand what the truth is, beyond time, thought, feeling, habit, and desire.
As Einstein wisely postulated, “Time is relative.” Only the Being is eternal, is never subjected to time, beliefs, dreams, ideas, or concepts.
People have a lot of theories about God, religion, science, philosophy. But none of it is grounded in actual experience. All these theories and beliefs are relative to the minds and conceptions of people whose consciousness is asleep, is dreaming. All of this has to do with traditions, which belong to time, the horizontal line of life.
Someone who awakens consciousness can experience the Being, the reality. Therefore, such a person possesses true objective knowledge. Such a person knows the truth because he or she has ascended to higher levels of Being upon the vertical path.
Only by rebelling against ourselves, here and now, by fighting against daydreams, fantasies, and wishful thinking, by learning to pay attention, can we experience the Being within us. This rebellion is enacted when we work as a consciousness to overcome the distractions of the mind.
Whenever we are thinking of other things than what we are doing, we are asleep, dreaming. We dream whenever we identify with temporal things, whenever we give all our energy to material existence, to the things that relate to our personality.
Sadly, most people believe that their name, language, culture, customs, religion, and beliefs, constitutes their true nature. These things, however, are born in time and die in time. They have nothing to do with the consciousness, the Being, the eternal.
"The personality develops and unfolds on the Horizontal Line of Life. The personality is born and dies with its linear time; it is mortal. A “tomorrow” does not exist for the personality of the dead person. The personality is not the Being.
“The Levels of Being are not of time. Since the Being himself is not of time, He has nothing to do with the Horizontal Line. He is found within our own selves, now, on the Vertical.” —Samael Aun Weor, Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology
Everyone loves their heritage, their inheritance, their self-concepts, personalities, and beliefs. Yet humanity ignores how these types of materialistic and even so-called “spiritual” things were born in time and die in time. They have nothing to do with conscious experience or objective fact.
People dream about who they are; their name, culture, customs, and education will not continue with them past the grave. Therefore, “To be or not to be!” That is our dilemma.
Therefore, psychological rebellion refers to our internal disassociation with the illusions we carry within ourselves, to experience the true nature of the Being, which is happiness, peace, divine love, patience, altruism, and direct knowledge.
Psychological rebellion is about transforming the mind, to become conscious of that which we typically ignore. We learn to gather information and data about our genuine spiritual nature the more we reflect on the present instance in which we find ourselves.
Internal Revolution and the Vertical Path
Most people follow life mechanically and never question their identity, their language, customs, beliefs, habits, and desires. However, people who are tired of suffering question themselves and inquire into the source of their most intimate problems, which are psychological. Transforming our sufferings in the present moment through superior action indicates progress in the vertical path or levels of Being.
“It is apparent that the Horizontal path is too base; it is traveled by my buddy and everybody, by those who are juvenile and those who are senile. It is evident that the Vertical is different; it is the path of intelligent rebels, of revolutionaries.
"When one remembers oneself and works upon oneself, when one does not become identified with all the problems and sorrows of life, it is a fact that one is traveling along the Vertical path." —Samael Aun Weor, Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology
Therefore, spiritual revolutions occur within the soul when it learns to pay attention and constantly maintain mindfulness. By observing ourselves and not assuming we know anything, to simply look at the facts of our existence, we begin to see and live within the consciousness.
To be identified is to invest our energy, our consciousness, into circumstances, with conditions of mind, with thoughts, feelings, or impulses.
Non-identification occurs when we observe the facts of life without becoming worried, depleted. We do what we need to do with heightened attention and watchfulness, with compassion and equanimity, so that we do not lose energy in negative thinking, negative emotions, and negative actions.
Non-identification and self-reflection is how we can learn to live life with greater serenity, insight, and compassion, to discover and uproot the psychological causes of suffering in a permanent manner. We don’t react mechanically and habitually to external events, but respond with comprehension, intuition, and pure action, devoid of the need to think. Traveling the vertical path, therefore, is making conscious choices, rather than lashing out towards the injustices and circumstances of life.
Psychological Change and Genuine Freedom
True freedom, then, occurs through psychological revolutions, which help us to go against the causes of suffering in ourselves. By discovering our true, divine nature, we enter and follow the ascending, vertical path for profound, radical, and genuine transformation.
This type of work is profound. It is about taking the path of greatest resistance, the resistance of years of habits and conditions in the mind. However, such a path must be distinguished from superficial changes, like adopting or changing one’s habits in a conventional sense.
Renouncing alcohol or smoking—although wonderful—is superficial in the larger scale. People tend to give up habits while engaging in new ones, failing to comprehend and eliminate the desires or conditions of mind that exist in the subconsciousness of a person. While it is an achievement for an alcoholic or drug addict to renounce their destructive habits, the unconscious elements or desires for alcohol and drugs will continue to exist until the consciousness learns to eliminate such conditions through the work of the vertical path.
The more we free ourselves of psychological conditions, the greater our insight into the Being will be.
"It would be absurd, obviously, to look for our own Being outside of ourselves. Therefore, it is not irrelevant to establish the following as a corollary: titles, ranks, promotions, etc. in the external physical world cannot in any way originate authentic exaltation, re-evaluation of the Being, or a move to a higher rung in the Levels of Being.” —Samael Aun Weor, Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology
Discovering the Being has nothing to do with diplomas, with a college education or intellectualism, with becoming a scholar and paragon of knowledge. The exaltation and re-evaluation of the Being occurs within someone who rebels against their own psychological conditions and the sufferings such states produce in the consciousness.
We must learn to ascend the ladder of being towards the light of our true divine nature. The way that a person ascends such a vertical path is through self-reflection, meditation, and humility. Sincerity opens the doorway to real change. When we truly want to cease suffering, we must examine our own selves and not try to run away through vain dreams, speculations, assumptions, and theories. We should ask the question: “What in me provokes all the calamities and afflictions of my existence?” By taking responsibility for our own actions, we in truth can develop our greatest potential, securing our own happiness as well as the happiness of others.
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