This is a transcription of an audio lecture from Introduction to Gnostic Studies, originally given live at the Gnostic Academy of Chicago.
The reason why many people approach spirituality often comes from the results of organized religion. We often find in popular institutions teachings that, while they resonate with our heart, they are lacking something critical, something profound, and something fulfilling. It might seem unusual that the very thing missing in organized religion is an understanding of sexuality.
People often, on the news and on television, show the results of monastic life, such as in the Catholic Church, which profoundly ignores how sexuality can be used for a divine purpose. In organized religion, they do not know how to utilize the natural expression of the human being, because sexuality is a part of life, and despite what people think, sexuality is also a part of religion, in a genuine sense, not from an institutional dogma.
The reason why there are cases of abuse, violence, is because priests do not understand how sexuality should be used and understood, and not repressed.
People look at sexuality as something filthy, something perverse, or something to gratify the pleasures of a couple.
There are extremes in our culture. In religion, we are taught to reject sex, which has its problems, because as you have seen with institutionalization and the rejection of sexuality, that quality of the human being has to be controlled or understood or worked with, and when people try to repress sexuality, it ends up in forms of perversion, such as molestation of children, deviant sexuality, abuse and degeneration.
But we have this other extreme in our culture, where in America, or all throughout the world, people feel that we should indulge in sex. We should acquire as many sensations as we can, pleasant experiences, relationships, and yet, we look at the results in humanity: divorce, suffering, marital conflicts, pain.
So it is very clear that when we look at the society, people and religion do not understand what the role of sexuality is, from a spiritual perspective, from a divine perspective.
Some people think that sexuality is simply a means to procreate, to create children. That is a very noble aspiration, to be a father or a mother, to have a family, but, we do state that that is not the entire gamut of what sexuality is. To procreate the species, that is one part. People don't really understand that sexual expression, as the natural birth right of the human being, can be something divine, heavenly, sacred: not from the Christian perspective, that we are going to use this act as something to create a child, to create a family, but there is another purpose that has been taught in all the ancient schools of religion and mysteries that, unfortunately, have been gutted out, removed―primarily because people face a difficult problem when addressing this issue of sexuality.
Sexuality in itself, the creative energy itself, has marvelous potential. It can empower our most divine attributes. It can ennoble the soul, our most divine qualities, because the sexual energy is the ability to create. It always acts. It always has to move, to flow, to work. But the question is how? In what way do we use this energy which resides in our glands, whether male, female?
Unfortunately because people have not been educated. We think that sexuality is simply indulging in desire, pornography, prostitution, adultery, and our society worships these qualities and believes that you can indulge in all these actions and think that there are no consequences. But you see the result of what happens to people, the life of prostitutes or adultery.
Sexual action is the most profound action a human being can perform. If we push it away, it churns in the subconsciousness and becomes desire that is never satiated, and then it becomes a monster, which is why priests who don't understand how to consciously work with this energy in a divine way―with practices, with exercises, to transform that energy into something creative, into something expressive―that energy then ferments. It rots. It becomes putrid. This is why you see priests committing such horrible crimes against young people. It is really disastrous.
So we have to look beyond just the beliefs about what our culture wants us to think. It is better if we can analyze and investigate what this energy is, and the purpose of this lecture is to talk about how the creative energy, in itself, has the potential to develop our spirituality, our true nature, which is the soul.
Consciousness and Desire
You might have listened in to previous lectures. We talked a lot about the soul, consciousness, our true nature. Sometimes people think of Buddha nature in Buddhism. It is the pure element of consciousness that can reflect divinity, who is inside, in our hearts and our very qualities of being, qualities like compassion, happiness, serenity, faith, understanding, patience, love.
These are qualities that we have deep down, but unfortunately we have mixed it with impurities: anger, hatred, lust, envy, greed, which religion calls the seven deadly sins. Every tradition has its names for what we call ego, defects, desires. And all that, according to a real meditative tradition, has to be removed. All those negative qualities have to be eliminated. But first we have to comprehend them, understand how our own anger makes us suffer and makes other people suffer, how our own pride injures our neighbor and ourselves at the same time.
We don't really understand how our own egotism creates problems for ourselves, and because people do not understand how to work with the mind in an effective way, they take the most powerful energy available to them―the sexual energy―and they channel it through anger, through violence, through perversity. This is how you have all the monsters of today that are very abundant.
Divine Eroticism and Awakening
So this is a very serious topic and we'll talk about how the soul, known as Psyche in the Greek myth, can be awakened to her true nature through Eros. Eros is the god of love, Cupid, in the Greek myth, which is a symbol. It teaches how our own divine spiritual nature, how through divine love, a divine marriage, the force of Eros, eroticism, awakens our full potential, which is pure, divine.
Different traditions symbolize that work in many ways, but of course, in this lecture we will be very explicit about what these traditions are. You may have heard of alchemy in the Middle East or medieval Europe, Middle Ages. They talk a lot about how we must transform lead into gold. But of course, that is symbolic. It teaches something spiritual, and even psychological.
Our egotism, our defects are like lead. They weigh us down. But if we learn to work with energy, the creative sexual energy and learn to direct it with our consciousness, our soul, that energy is going to empower us radically, and with that force we can transmute, transform, elevate, make our egotistical consciousness become a divine consciousness―lead into gold.
In this image, we have Padmasambhava with his consort, his wife. They are in sexual union, but there are many misunderstandings about what this tradition teaches called Tantric Buddhism. A couple, man and woman, who embody masculine and feminine principles, can combine their energies to work in a very transformative way, and these ancient traditions teach us, whether from the East or the West, how a man and a woman, using the energy that is available to them, and the power and ability to procreate, can take that energy that they awaken within sexual union and transform it, use it to empower and create the soul.
As Jesus taught in the gospel, “that which is born of flesh is flesh” through the common sexual act. But the same sexual act or the sexual act transformed can be utilized for the Spirit, since “that which is born of the Spirit is Spirit.”
So many Christians ignore what this teaching is about. They have no clue, because people haven't been educated. The physical sexual act can create a physical child. Anybody knows this. But with certain procedures, if the couple retains the sexual energy in their union and uses that energy with the soul, it can transform their marriage and make it a sacrament, a holy union. This is the meaning of religion, from the Latin religare, “to reunite.” This is the highest yoga, from the Sanskrit yug, “to reunite.” It is also known as tantra, which is where this image comes from.
The medieval alchemists, whom people denigrate today, knew this secret science. It was never taught publicly because it has tremendous power. The sexual energy can create anything, a child. It perpetuates the species. Sexual drive motivates every aspect of society, every aspect of life. Even chemicals, compounds, molecules, electrons, atoms, are driven by sexual propulsion, energy―attraction, rejection, repulsion, combinations of energies, a form of marriage.
That energy is everywhere, and in the human being, that most profound force, the ability to create, is in our sexual glands. This energy is so powerful that it can develop a human being to their highest potential.
So for many centuries, this knowledge was kept secret, because unfortunately many people would abuse it. But we are living in a very different age now, where this type of knowledge and spirituality, information, is given openly. The doors have been opened by divinity for people to understand this kind of knowledge, so that people who want to transform themselves and have a method to help them attain that goal, can.
The Symbolism of Alchemy
But of course, the alchemical science was taught in symbols in medieval Europe to prevent persecution, such as with the Inquisition in the Catholic Church, which had completely extirpated the sexual teachings of esoteric Christianity.
Alchemy comes from Allah in Arabic, meaning the God, the name of divinity in Islam. And khemia, the Greek word for chemistry. It is the chemistry of God. It is how a couple, man and woman, using their sexualized polarities, can take their energy, combine them, and restraining the sexual energy, circulate that force, learning to control their egotistical desires, and unite out of love, to dominate their subconscious passions. Those individuals, those couples, can unite with God or divinity, whatever name we wish to give to that impersonal energy or force.
In Greek, the word khemia can also mean “to fuse or cast a metal.” There are many symbols in the Bible that retained this knowledge. Moses lifted up a brazen serpent on a staff to heal the Israelites wounded by divinity for having disobeyed Him. If you study alchemy, the science of metals, bronze is an amalgamation of copper and tin. Copper in alchemical science relates to femininity, woman, love, Venus. Tin relates to Jupiter, masculinity, man. When husband and wife unite their energies, they can awaken the brazen serpent known as kundalini amongst the Gnostics and the Yogis of the East. That serpent can be raised upon a staff, the spinal column, so as to heal our soul from the afflictions of our daily life.
In the Bible, Moses represents willpower, the power and the will to dominate temptation and desire. It doesn't mean to run away from sex, but to approach the sexual act with respect and veneration, with love, to remove passion and desire and connect out of divine love.
So this couple, Padmasambhava and his consort, are not united out of lust, to fulfill their animal desires. Unfortunately, people look at these kinds of images and only think with animality, with satisfying and having pleasant sensations. Pleasure is natural to the sexual act, but it should not be the only basis for which a couple unites. It should be for the couple to really develop their love, their consciousness, to take that energy and, through certain exercises, controlling the breath, even performing sacred sounds like mantras, we learn to circulate the energy. Instead of making go from in to out, to expel it, one makes the energy to go out to in, to circulate it, to control it, to elevate it.
This is the mysteries of Jesus being baptized in the river Jordan. The word ירדן Jordan in Hebrew means “descender.” That energy that is deposited in our sexual glands is divine. It can create life. It is the power of life. The Jews say לחיים L’Chaim, to life, and the Christians call it the Holy Spirit, even if they don't understand what that energy is.
So that power of life can create spiritual life. The couple needs to learn to take that energy, which usually descends down into us and we expel it through a moment of pleasure or a few seconds of pleasure, which are fleeting―that energy instead of descending, we can learn to make it reascend, to make the river turn its course, which instead of going out, it goes in. It circulates as energy.
You have the actual matter or entity of semen, which is physical in either men or women. Sexual fluid, those waters which are symbolized in the Bible as the waters of Genesis, the waters of generation, we can learn to be baptized with that energy, transform it, the substance into divine power through very specific procedures. This is very well documented in every religious scripture in the world, but in allegory.
Jesus performed his first miracle at a wedding, the marriage of Cana. He turned water into wine. People think it is a literal story of Jesus getting people drunk, and they can believe that. But more profoundly, he is teaching a couple who knew this science, to transform the water or entity of semen, into energy, into the wine or ecstasy of the spirit, circulating it. And that is how you are baptized with water. He turned water into wine.
The mystics of Islam, the Sufis speak very beautifully about this too. Very abundantly, they talk about love of God. “Muhammad was in love with God,” and they make it an erotic teaching, which scandalizes many people because people like to separate religion from sex, and don't understand that you show true religion by loving your wife if you are a man, and as a woman, loving your husband.
This is a science from Egypt, from Al-Khem. This is a very ancient science that was studied in all the primeval cultures of the world before they degenerated, before people, instead of respecting these types of teachings or laws in themselves, decided to indulge in desire, because sexuality can be for animal pleasure or lust. Or it can be for the soul. It depends, and you have the judge in yourself how that is. This is why we study meditation too.
So this is a very deep topic. We are introducing some of the basics, because to really practice like Padmasambhava without lust, united sexually with his wife, takes a lot of work. Because of course, in the beginning we are full of animality, desire. But with training, we can ride upon desire, like a donkey, as Jesus rode up on a donkey into Jerusalem, the heavenly city. Symbols, but not explained for many years.
The Sufis also mention that, I believe the poet Rumi, who is the most popular poet in the West today, said that when you look at a cup full of water and you have your own desires, you only see your own face in it. But if you are looking as a result of love of God, you will see God in those waters.
He is talking about this. If you are married or husband and wife, male-female, in a relationship that is sexually active, we show our love for divinity in the sexual act. But of course, with training. One has to be educated how to do that. It takes time, but it can be done.
Or if one is filled with desire, we look at the sexual act and see just the gratification of pleasure. That is one extreme.
So this teaching is known as tantra in the East. In Sanskrit, it is a word for “continuum” or “unbroken stream.” It comes from the Sanskrit “tantrum, literally loom, warp.” Hence, it is a “groundwork, a system, a doctrine.”
What is this continuum? When the sexual energy is retained and transformed, it circulates in our body. We have certain energetic channels in our spine, in our body, that can take that energy and circulate it. And we will talk about what that particular aspect of our physiology relates to. But the energy has to be controlled. It has to be contained. That is the only way for energy to circulate. If the energy is released through the orgasm, there is a short circuit. That continuum is broken. So we are very explicit about how tantra works, because there are people who think that tantrism is just about sexually uniting with one's partner, enjoying pleasure, and then reaching the orgasm. There are many people who teach that kind of doctrine, but unfortunately, that type of action feeds desire.
In these studies, we are working to remove our imperfections like lust or desire itself. We want to empower the soul but in order for Psyche to waken, we have to work with Eros and retain that power. Even the 14th Dalai Lama explained that in tantra, the seminal force is never let out. We can contain it, conserve it, and make it circulate through mantras or prayer, through breath work. That is how it becomes an unbroken stream. That is how we perform the loom of God. A loom is where we create clothes. When we work with the energy, we create something. If that energy is conserved and worked with for many years, internally we create vehicles of expressing divinity in us. We talk a lot about this in the studies of alchemy as the vehicles of God, the wedding garment of the soul.
In the Gospels, it is stated that one cannot attend the marriage of divinity without the wedding garment. So that is the loom. We have to create a type of vehicle in which our soul can act. It is not physical, but it is internal, vehicles that relate to different aspects of our psyche within different dimensions. We will be explaining about what these vehicles are in-depth, but I just want to introduce to you that the energy has to create something. It can create a physical child, or it can create the vehicles of the soul, the soul itself, which is like a wedding garment.
Isn't there a saying that you are what you wear? Or “the apparel oft’ proclaims the man,” states Polonius in the play Hamlet. So we weave the soul through this energy. It is a groundwork. It is a system. It is a doctrine, from the word tan, “to stretch or extend.” Of course, this has a sexual significance, as represented by the erection of the male phallus. Tantra refers to “that continuum of vital energy that sustains all things.” So I stated, the creative energy is within our sexual glands, but we find it within everything, from down to the atom, to the galaxy. It is also “the class of knowledge and practices that help us harness that vital energy which can transform us radically, thereby transforming the practitioner.”
Some people also call this transmutation. You may hear this term a lot within the books of Samael Aun Weor and throughout different lectures on this topic. Tantra, alchemy, and transmutation are the same thing. So transmutation is broken down from trans, which is a prefix we find in words like transcend or transfix. It means to take something “across, beyond or through; to change something thoroughly; to move.”
The word mutate we find relates to “causing something to change in form or nature.” So what is transmutation or sexual transmutation? It means, through practice, to take the actual entity of the semen retained within our body, our receptacle, and with certain prayers, mantras, exercises of breath, we can take that actual matter and transform it into energy, mutate it. I know we are probably familiar with X-Men, mutants, people with power, but people don't want to recognize that Jesus, Buddha, Krishna, Moses, and many prophets were mutants. They took that energy of sex and created, or recreated themselves spiritually.
They became such great beings because they were married. They had that energy available to them, and through love, they changed themselves. So all those qualities that we admire and beings like the prophets, Jesus, their selflessness, their compassion, they did that because they became mutants. They mutated that matter and became an energy. They carried over that force within themselves, raising it from the sexual glands to the brain, and then to the heart.
If you are familiar with the shepherd's staff so popular with in Biblical allegory, it refers to that image, the serpent of Kundalini rising from the coccyx to the head and then down to the heart. That is how one leads flocks, spiritually speaking, because they have that energy manifest, at least true teachers, with true prophets or gurus. Therefore, transmutation is “the act of changing, or the state of being changed into another form.”
It is logical that that energy which can create a child can create something inside of us. It has tremendous force. It is power of divinity. Divinity creates through the sexual act, through the sexual energy, but it depends on the quality of our mind.
What are we doing with that energy? Are we expelling it out? You can more radically take that force, conserve it, transmute it, make it into something more powerful, because as it is now, it is in a very rudimentary state, but that energy can really grant us access to many things.
Animal Desire and Divine Sex
So as I said, Krishna was a great mutant. He changed his spiritual form, and he had many powers that are documented in the Bhagavad-Gita, which of course, there was a master in the Hindu Pantheon who actually came many thousands of years ago to represent this principle known as Krishna. He is what is known as the Hindu Christ.
As I said Christ, divinity, is not a person, but an energy. It is impersonal. It is universal. And that energy is synonymous with sex. The power of life, the power of Christ, the power of the Holy Spirit, the power of divinity, is here. Krishna, who is a beautiful symbol of that force, had power to act precisely because the soul or the person was working with that energy very beautifully, very profoundly.
As I mentioned, divinity is the sexual energy. It is a sacred force, which is why even in the Qur’an, the doctrine of the Muslims, some of the sacred names of divinity is Al-Khaliq, “the Creator,” and Al-Wadud, meaning: “the Loving.” And that scripture mentions how, “Did we not create you from a sperm-drop…” which of course can be a literal thing. We are created from the sperm and the ovum, but more profoundly, if you know the science of alchemy, Allah-Khemia, divinity creates in us by taking that very same matter and transforming it, transmuting it, creating the soul, creating life. "And truly it is easy for us if you are but believers." Meaning: people who are not fanatic or dogmatic, but who learn to be through the power of love. Be-lieve. That was the original meaning of the term. Now belief is something just to accept a doctrine with the intellect or to feel something is true, but to not know.
So there are a lot of parallels in different scriptures, but I would like to quote from the Bhagavad-Gita, which is a very powerful statement of how Krishna, Christ, is that creative energy.
"I am the strength of the strong, devoid of काम kama and राग raga. I am धमम kama which is not contrary to धमम Dharma.” ―Bhagavad-Gita 7:11
There are a lot of words from the Sanskrit that have a lot of different meanings depending on the context of the phrase. So the same word काम kama in some context can mean, “sex life.” It can mean “lust.” It could be “desire,” or just “pleasure.” On the contrary, it can be “chastity.”
Chastity is an interesting term. People have been miseducated to think that chastity means abstention from sex. It is logical that people came up with this definition, because when people think of sexuality, they think of animal gratification.
So what does it mean to be chaste? It means not to engage in the sexual act with the orgasm. Chasity simply means “purity, immaculateness.” And it refers to a couple learning to use their energies. They can be sexually connected, but chaste. No confusion there.
People get hung up on the idea of immaculate conception. Was Jesus really born from Mary when she did not have sex with anyone? Obviously, that is a very ludicrous interpretation, because the only way to create is through the sexual act. But the question is: what is the definition of chastity? Obviously, Jesus was born from his parents, and through an immaculate conception, which means through a union that did not involve orgasm. It is not necessary to expel millions of spermatozoon to create a one child, because only one sperm is going to fertilize an egg. It is not necessary. If the couple is working seriously and is working with divinity, if they want to have a child and they are praying to divinity to give them a son or a daughter or a girl, they can concentrate on their divinity and pray and work with the creative energy. If it is accordance with the law of divinity, they can take one sperm out from the man and it can fertilize the egg. That is an immaculate conception.
Obviously, it is very magical, you could say, because the sperm that is utilized in that instance is going to be very superior than one ejaculated out of lust. Obviously, there is a psychological quality embedded in the energy, depending on how we use it. If we are chaste and are pure in our minds and hearts, really loving our spouse and being divine or loving divinity, that energy becomes superior, elevated, for concentration and prayer.
So “I am the strength of the strong, devoid of काम kama and राग raga.” Devoid of lust, and the word for raga is “attachment, grasping; to clutch and to pull; to hold.” Pretty sure we can look at our own lives to see how much of our sexual activity was based on attachment, clinging, holding, grasping. We want those experiences. We chase after them. We change our appearance. We model our behaviors so that we can find a partner. We are grasping at sexual pleasure and sensations and being in a relationship and satisfying those desires. That is raga.
Love is something very different, something divine, which is born in the soul when the time is ripe and the appropriate partner is met. But raga is sexual attachment: wanting to indulge in animal pleasure, the sensations of sex, and grasping at those experiences at the expense of our soul. Desire is one thing, but the soul is another. The soul knows how to love, to respect the partner. Desire only wants to satisfy itself. That is the distinction between an angel and a demon. An angel has love, Eros towards Psyche, but desire only wants to fulfill itself at any cost. So:
"I am the strength of the strong devoid of lust and attachment." ―Bhagavad-Gita 7:11
But then he uses something very interesting here.
“I am काम kama which is not contrary to धमम dharma.” ―Bhagavad-Gita 7:11
So many people get confused about this statement. How is it that he says I am not kama and yet he says I am kama? Because the word kama is dual. It's dualistic. It can mean lust. It can mean love. It can mean desire. It can mean chastity. So he is sexual drive that is not contrary to Dharma, and Dharma means “religious principles, law, truth, reality, virtue.”
So contrary to popular belief, there is a type of sexuality that is divine. It doesn't have to be animal. And in fact, Krishna is saying that “I am a sexual union of husband and wife, male-female, that is not contrary to the divine law.” It is respected by the gods, because the buddhas or angels or masters or prophets became what they were because of certain causes and conditions, spiritual laws. Like, if you wish to create a physical child, there is a procedure through the common way, through lust. But there is also a divine law that says if you want to create the soul, to be born of the spirit, one can use certain procedures or the science of alchemy.
So “I am sex that is not contrary to spirituality.” When we think of laws, we tend to think of laws given by society, by governments. When I mentioned husband and wife, I don't mean marriage papers. People are not married because of a paper or a ritual. Real marriage occurs between a couple when they sexually unite, and that is all that divinity really cares about, because when a couple unites, they are sharing all their mind, their energies, their emotions, their forces. It's a marriage. It is a type of union, but unfortunately, many of us have engaged in relationships or entered the sexual act with many partners without knowing about the Dharma, which is, you know, our situation. But of course, that can be changed and rectified. This is why we give classes on this type of knowledge.
So what I mean by law, Dharma, truth, reality, has to do with the causes and conditions that produce our happiness in the soul, our spiritual development, to help us become like Jesus or Buddha or Moses or the prophets.
Liberation from Desire
So again, I show Padmasambhava with his consort. He stated very interestingly that:
“Lustful people do not enter the path of liberation.”
Marriage, sexual union, the sexual act, can produce one's greatest happiness and one's greatest damnation, suffering. Look at humanity today, as I mentioned―people engaging in sexual behaviors that produce pain. Of course, people being hypnotized by kama and raga, desire and attachment, always go towards those experiences, grasping at pleasant experiences, and don't recognize that that very same act of lust and desire produces pain. Because once lust is fed, sex has culminated with animal pleasure, it can result in disillusionment pain, suffering.
The sexual act itself, tantra, alchemy, is the narrow way mentioned by Jesus in the Gospels.
"Straight is the gate and narrow is the way that leadeth unto life and few there be that find it." ―Matthew 7:14
Of course, people think of this path of liberation as something devoid of a sexual flavor, but literally, the narrow way is when husband and wife unite, male-female. This is the symbol of the cross. Vertical phallus. Horizontal uterus. They unite so that those energies accumulate, and when directed by the couple, it can crucify our defects. It is a symbol of Jesus going on His Passion. He lived it literally, physically, but he was showing something symbolic and allegorical and sexual.
That energy which can create life can also destroy impurity. That is the nature of the Kundalini. It is the nature of Shiva-Shakti amongst the Hindus, the creator and destroyer. Shiva is the power of the Holy Spirit or the sexual energy, which in tantra. That energy can be directed at any defect, any fault that we have, that we have understood profoundly through meditation, and to remove it so that the soul is liberated and the soul is united with divinity. That is the path of liberation, the secret path that Jesus taught that few find.
It is obvious that humanity does not know the path, because you look at the state that it is in. Lustful people do not enter that path, meaning: they may be married and they may know this teaching and may know about conserving sexual energy and working on the mind, but if they don't actually work on themselves, they don't enter the path from experience.
On our websites we talk a lot about Gnosis, from the Greek, meaning “knowledge,” to have experience born from spiritual practice. We cannot have genuine spiritual knowledge, experience of divinity, if our soul is asleep, if Psyche is dormant, but we can awaken the soul by learning to use this energy. Of course, married couples have much more power to work with, but individual practitioners can learn through pranayama, spiritual exercises, how to work with that energy as an individual until, with work and patience, that person may find their partner in accordance with divinity. They may be helped. They may find their marriage.
This was originally the meaning of monastic life, which of course lost its true purpose. Monks and nuns would practice individually at their monasteries for many years, learning to circulate and work with that energy individually. When the time came, they would be brought their partner and they would learn to practice alchemy. Unfortunately, the Catholic Church and many groups didn't like the sexual flavor of this type of teaching, because, of course, it scandalizes many people, unfortunately. This is the stone of Peter: the rock of offense upon which we should build our church. “Is it not marvelous?” it says in the gospels (1 Peter 2:7-8). Many teachings hidden there.
The Caduceus of Mercury
Lastly, we will talk about how that energy can circulate. The Bible calls the circuitry of tantra, those energetic channels that rise from our coccyx to our brain and then to our heart, the two witnesses in the Book of Revelation. It is known as Ida and Pingala in Sanskrit amongst the Hindu yogis. These are the two serpents that entwine a staff on the symbol of medicine, because we heal our soul like the bronze serpent healed the Israelites in the wilderness by working with these two energetic channels in us.
These two serpents are two forms of energy: masculine-feminine, solar-lunar, copper-tin. So whether we are male or female, we have those two energy circuits in our spine. But of course, men will tend to polarize more of the masculine energy and woman the feminine energy in their physicality, which is why it is important that if one is going to work with this energy in a marriage, you need both polarities to create. Physical man, physical woman. Together, just as they can create a child, they can create something more. But we also have those circuits in our spine.
As you notice, Adam-Eve in the Bible, male-female, Ida-Pingala, Solar and lunar. We can do certain exercises like in books called Kundalini Yoga, The Yellow Book, even some practices in The Perfect Matrimony by Samael Aun Weor, to work with mantras and prayer and breath work. If we are single, we can take that energy on our own and circulate it, and train ourselves so that we can use that energy to empower meditation. That is the primary purpose of working with that energy, to empower our soul.
But if one is married, of course, it is more energy, more fire, but more difficulty, because the difficulty that couples face is that they are trying not to eat the forbidden fruit. In the Bible, Adam and Eve ate from the forbidden fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. It is a symbol of how they didn't respect the law of divinity, of conserving the energies of God in themselves. They expelled it, or better said: they expelled themselves from Eden, which is a symbol of the state of bliss in spirituality that our humanity once knew before it indulged in desire. This is eating the forbidden fruit, the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, of positive and negative, Ida-Pingala: the two witnesses.
That forbidden fruit is, of course, the orgasm. Divinity said, “You shall not eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Do not take that energy and expel it out of yourselves because the day that you do, you will surely die, spiritually speaking.” This is the foundation of the Judeo-Christian Bible. Of course, the one that tempted them was a serpent, because that serpent above is Kundalini. But if we are filled with egotism and desire, it is the tail of the demons, the tail of temptation
We have many practices that can teach you how to work with energy. To really understand how all the different symbols and traditions teach this science takes many years. It is very extensive studying the Bible or the Qur’an or the Bhagavad-Gita and many scriptures. I just wanted to introduce some of these elements for you to see that is very vast. It is a very profound teaching, which you can verify not only through reading books by Samael Aun Weor or other authors, but really examining the original root scriptures of tantra, of alchemy. It takes a lot of time to learn and understand how this science was taught and also more importantly, how we practice it in ourselves.
Do you have any questions?
Questions and Answers
Question: You were talking about how we can use this energy, how we can eliminate imperfections. Is that only for married couples or is that for single people?
Instructor: Good question. For both. Obviously, a single practitioner is going to have energy to a degree. They can learn to direct that energy through pranayama, mantras, prayer, so that they can eliminate certain defects that they have to a very minor extent. When a person is married, they have available to them the fire of a sun. More power. So when they are sexually united as a couple, they can have more force by which to eliminate defects.
So compare a single person to the light of a candle. Compare a married couple to the light of the sun. You can't compare the magnitude of that force. It is truly tremendous. So obviously, individuals can eliminate ego, defect, desires, but married couples can eliminate much more. They can do the totality of the work. So eventually people who are single, if they really want to pursue this type of path, they have to eventually get married. But of course, that is a delicate thing, a long process, and depends on the unique situations of the individual.
Question: What is the Buddhist root tantric script? I studied online, and I guess many teach adultery and black tantra in the scriptures. Are there any tantra scriptures that are still in tact that the Dalai Lama uses or any in other tradition?
Instructor: Sure. Just to be clear, as I mentioned, there are different forms of tantra. There is positive tantra. There is negative tantra. We call them white and black.
White tantra refers to purity in sex, meaning: never expelling the sexual energy in any form or way, whether physically, mentally, emotionally, to orgasm, or through desire.
You have black tantra, which is exclusively focused on expelling the energies and even taking that energy and directing it into desire, which of course is not what we teach here. That is something different.
That's called black tantra because it is impure. It is the science of demons. People who really feed their lust and desire direct that energy into anger and pride and fear, laziness, to fortify those elements. So obviously in the end, that produces a lot of suffering for individuals and other people.
There is also gray tantra, which sometimes a couple unites periodically. Sometimes they conserve the energy. Sometimes they expel it. Gray is in the middle, but eventually gray tantra degenerates into black tantra, because obviously these desires accumulated from indulging in lust. It becomes comes bigger.
The Dalai Lama talks a lot about Padmasambhava. He wrote a book called The Tibetan Book of the Dead: Bardo Thodol. A lot is about consciousness and dreams, but is one of the most seminal tantric texts available, which you can read about. It talks a lot about states of consciousness and dream yoga, dream science, which you can learn to take the energies of tantra, transmutation, prayer, pranayama, so that your consciousness can awaken from dreams, which is partially one of the symbols of Psyche and Eros. She awakens from her sleep, meaning internally, even when being in the dream state. She awakens our consciousness so that she can investigate those regions, those realms called heavens, different dimensions, which is where we gravitate to when our physical body sleeps. We go out in the dream state usually hypnotized by our own projections of mind, dreams, but we can awaken from dreams by using that energy.
So that is a key text that the Dalai Lama introduces, and I believe one of the most recent publications of that book, The Tibetan Book of the Dead and the works of Padmasambhava especially are powerful. Tsong Khapa too. It has more Mahayana Buddhism, but you know, he teaches the foundations by which to understand tantra, especially. And of course the study of tantra is very deep. [See also Tsong Khapa’s The Great Exposition of Secret Mantra in three volumes, also a key tantric text].
I just want to just give you a bit of the gamut of what that tradition is like, because people were never introduced to tantra right off the bat. This is a very different lecture than what has been done traditionally for thousands of years, because they would make the student study under a guru or sheikh or teacher or prophet, or whatever, for 10, 20, 30, 40 years, before they taught them, “Now that you know how to work with your energy as an individual, now, I am going to teach you the science of how to practice in a marriage.” So there are tantric texts out there and I can give you some references too to write them down.
Question: A lot of tantra from the Dalai Lama, they speak about visualization a lot. To visualize yourself as an enlightened being and visualize a mandala... How does Gnosis combine that visualization?
Instructor: You can read The Mystery of the Golden Flower as one book that we have available, where Samael Aun Weor explains how when a couple is united and after they have meditated profoundly, they can work together, and when they are sexually united, they can imagine an event and their day in which a certain defect that they observed in themselves popped up. Imagine that defect. If it's the husband's defect, he explains to his wife, “This is the defect I saw in myself earlier in this day at this moment. This is what I have comprehended. I noticed I saw lust in myself,” as an example. The partner, the wife imagines with him. They both develop their imagination and visualize that defect that they want to eliminate together. They pray. They do mantras, and they work to eliminate that defect through concentrating upon what we call the Divine Mother.
The Divine Mother Kundalini is Her name. She can eliminate defects when the couple is working together. Of course, that is a very powerful practice. It just takes a lot of communication and work and support, you know. You can read about that in The Mystery of the Golden Flower specifically. The whole book just talks about how to do that. You imagine the defect you want to eliminate, and because the couple is united, they are like God. They can create. Male-female. Adam-Eve. Or in the Hebrew name: יהוה Jehovah, Iod-Havah. י Iod is masculine, Adam. A הוה Havah is Eve, because the word for Eve in the Bible is חַוָה Chavah. Iod-Havah is our divinity.
So the couple has to work together, unite their polarities, and they can visualize together what they want to eliminate in the husband. And then, after the husband and eliminates that defect, together they eliminate that fault because they are sharing that power to create and destroy. They take turns and the wife can present a defect she observed in herself, understood, and meditated upon. They work on that defect together. That is the procedure. Of course, it takes a lot of time to learn that. Actually, you can read about it, but when you are practicing, it is another thing.
Question: Can single people do the visualization?
Instructor: Yeah, they can visualize whatever defect they have understood in themselves and ask for annihilation through certain mantras like Krim, is one mantra.
The vowel S is another.
We have explained this process of meditation in our course Gnostic Meditation on chicagognosis.org if you want to know how to practice that type of meditation. You can study the last lecture in that course that is called Retrospection Meditation.
Any final comments or questions?
So I invite you to study, because I know we talked about a lot of different things, but the main purpose is to present the breadth of this science. It is very deep and extensive. It takes a lot of study and practice and understanding. So if you are interested, you can see some of the books we have available that talk about these things. But also, if you want to read these books and scriptures online, you can go to gnosticteachings.org, which has everything available electronically too.
This is a transcription of an audio lecture from Introduction to Gnostic Studies, originally given live at the Gnostic Academy of Chicago.
Today we are going to be talking about karma. Karma has a Sanskrit root. It comes from the Sanskrit word karman, which means “to act.” Now, commonly many of us, especially in new spiritual circles toss this word around frequently, meaning karma is that people get what they are going to deserve, right? If you say something bad, it is going to be bad karma. Maybe you have seen the little tip jars that say, “If you leave money for your barista, you are going to get good karma.”
We hear the term karma quite a bit, but I think that karma should be taken very, very seriously for those of us who want to have mystical experiences and want to radically transform our life, want to achieve that self-knowledge and that mastery of self, which allows us to transform our experiences and our external situation by transforming our internal situation.
If you're looking for a road map to do just that, you need to comprehend karma. Karma, in its true comprehended state, is the key to helping us to get out of ignorance. Ignorance is known as one of the three poisons of Buddhism along with craving and aversion. It is said that if you can eliminate one of those three poisons, you can escape the wheel of suffering, the wheel of samsara: cyclic birth and death, the wheel of existence and escape to Nirvana, right? The heavenly realms, cessation of this cycle that we are stuck in.
But for that we need Gnosis. Gnosis is the opposite of ignorance. We see the same root there “gno.” Now, through true Gnosis and comprehension of karma, we can transform our own psychology quite a bit, and by transforming ourselves, we will see a consequence and transformation of our lives.
So it is very, very critical, and it is also very accessible, because if you are really waking up, if you have really been applying the practices that we have been teaching thus far in this course, like self-observation, retrospection meditation, observing the three brains, observing your internal states and your external states, then you should be able to see karma. You should be able to see very directly how when you say a certain word, it affects the people around you. It affects your own psychology. You should be able to see how one action you do may be a kind action for someone else. It leaves you feeling happy. Maybe you go home at the end of the day and you feel good. Whereas another action, maybe a cruel word, leaves you feeling unhappy, unsettled, frustrated, or angry. That is karma. That is seeing how a cause that you put into motion produces an effect.
The Perplexity and Reality of Karma
So we'll dive a little bit more into karma, but I wanted to start with a story from the Jewish tradition. This is a story about Moses after he died. He went to heaven and God gave Moses the opportunity to look down over the Earth at all of the events and situations and people, everything that was going on and to see it all from God's perspective. Moses was very pleased with this, and he saw that it was good. Its creation was good.
But there was one situation that Moses saw that really bewildered him. It perplexed Moses. He saw a soldier riding his horse along a hot dusty road. The soldier saw a shady tree next to a stream and he pulled over his horse, climbed down and got a drink out of the stream. He took a break. Now as he was climbing back on his horse, he didn't notice that he dropped his purse, a little bag of gold coins and he rode away. Not long after Moses saw that a young boy came walking down the road and next to the tree, he saw the purse full of gold coins. He opened it up and he was astonished to discover this. So he took the purse and he ran home in excitement.
Only a short while later, a very tired merchant came walking down the road and saw the shady tree next to the stream and decided to have a drink and rest for a while, under the tree, and he fell asleep. He awoke when the soldier had come back having realized that he had lost his purse. The soldier shook the merchant by the shoulders and yelled at him, asking where his money was. The merchant swore to the soldier that he had not stolen the coins, but the soldier did not believe him. So he took out his sword and slew the merchant down.
When Moses saw the situation, it really upset him. He went to God and he said, “I look at all of this creation that you show me and I see how all of it is orderly and good. But what is happening here in this situation with this merchant and the soldier? How could this merchant undergo such a tragic misfortune as to be killed by the soldier when he didn't steal the money?”
God showed Moses a scene from previously. The same merchant was in a busy marketplace when he saw a man walking with a bag full of gold coins looking at different items to buy, and this man had at his side his young son. Now the merchant was looking to get enough money to buy something that he needed, and so he went up and he struggled with a man to get the gold coins. But when the man wouldn't give up the coins, he killed the man and ran off with the money, leaving the young boy orphaned. God showed Moses how that same merchant was the one who was killed by the soldier who lost his purse, and how that young boy, whose father had been killed and who lost his inheritance that day, came to grab the purse of the gold coins that should have rightfully been his.
Now that is a nice story. But I think that this story is very relevant for what we are going to talk about today, because we often don't have that bird's eye view. More frequently, we find that we are in the situation of being down on the ground and being very frustrated with what we see, all kinds of horrible acts and all kinds of terrible tragedies that are happening in our world every day. And we wonder: how can it be that there is a just law, a conscious divinity organizing this world, this creation, when these types of terrible things happen? We might become frustrated. So as much as we liked the theory of karma as a belief system that things will turn out the way that they should, people get what they deserve, at the same time, we may have those moments of frustration in which we are not sure that we are able to make sense of them.
The Force and Energy of Action
Now up to this point, we have been talking a lot about energy, and the way that we use our energy is very directly related with karma, which is the law of cause and effect. So I am going to share a quote here from another Gnostic instructor that I think summarizes two very essential points. And the first he says this:
“In each moment of your life, you are creating. The human organism is a transformer of forces, and according to your will and your action, those forces are transformed, and those forces produce consequences, results. This is called karma in Sanskrit, from the word karman, which means “to act.” Karma is simply the Law of Cause and Effect.” —Gnostic Instructor
So we can imagine a crowded marketplace where you are standing in a long line, and it's hot and somebody shoves you. That is a cause, right? And you might turn and respond to them and shove them back, and that creates another cause. What kinds of effects arise from the initial cause and the responding cause? We can see in that very simple scenario a chain begin, a chain of cause and effect.
In this teaching we talk about recurrence, the law of return. That is, all of us as Essences return lifetime after lifetime, pulled by the very energy that we have put into motion. We create an imbalance in nature, a disharmony, and that disharmony will be equilibrated by this law of cause and effect. Every cause will produce an effect, and so this will follow us from lifetime to lifetime until all of those energies have been balanced again. That is why we can understand from previous studies about our human machine, our three brains, sexual transmutation, how energy becomes very important, especially very powerful energy like our sexual energy, because that is the energy with which we create.
In this present moment, we are creating consequences. Your thoughts are creating consequences. Your emotions are creating consequences. Your physical actions create consequences, your words. Everything is creating a consequence. But are we aware of it? Are we perceiving the effects of our actions? Are we perceiving the energies that come into us in each moment as we are stimulated by life, by all these difficult situations or happy situations, the varied experiences of life? Those energies strike us in a given way, strike our psychology, and produce an energetic reaction, a response from us.
We want that response to be conscious. We want it to be a virtuous response. We want it to be a very serene, peaceful, loving response from a place of wisdom, but many times, as you know, being where we are at, we react mechanically and we produce consequences that perhaps increase our suffering rather than diminish it.
Interdependence and Internal Responsibility
So when we look at these situations on life, which are very frustrating, it seems so removed from the small actions that we are taking day-to-day, but we really have to be aware of our small actions, because our society is a reflection of the individuals who live within it. We like to place the blame somewhere else. To say, “Oh, it's them, not us! It was this person's fault, not me.” We have to look very critically first at what is in our control.
What is our response to life? What are the things in our life that we can change?—because they are caused by us, the problems and the suffering caused by us. How can we change and address those problems first and then worry about larger problems that may seem unrelated to us? Although, of course, we know that everything is interdependent and related.
So I'll continue with the rest of this quote from the Gnostic instructor that I mentioned.
“We are not here on this planet to do whatever we want, to just do whatever we please, even though this is the philosophy that our media loves to promote. Our culture loves to tell us that life is just about enjoying all of the pleasures we can, as much as we can, until we die. This is a very convenient lie for those who are benefiting from us behaving in that way, but we do not benefit from this behavior, neither does God, neither does humanity. The evidence is all around us. Because of our behaviors we have created this society. Because of how each of us behaves individually on a day-to-day basis, we have created this world, not God. We have created starvation, poverty, rape, war, nuclear weapons, chemical weapons. We are the ones who created all kinds of cunning ways to cheat one another. We have made all of that because of desire. To change this planet, we have to change ourselves.” —Gnostic Instructor
Now I am not advocating for extremism by sharing this quote. Of course, you know, we might know that there are many pieces of technology, like your smartphone, that have negative effects on the other side of the planet, and yet to be able to function in society, it would be very hard not to support certain industries. We want to do the best that we can, but we also have to realize that the real problem that we need to be addressing is not, perhaps the material problems of life, but rather the problem of desire.
If we can't first understand that in ourselves and address that in ourselves, the root problem, the moral problem, and the spiritual problem which causes our own suffering, then we won't be able to truly address it in the most efficient ways in our world. We might be able to work on some of the symptoms, treat the symptoms, suppress the symptoms, but can we truly get to the root of the disease that is creating a society that is totally out of balance? That is disharmonious within itself and with nature.
So as many things as we as we look at in this world that seem very unjust and unfair, until we truly understand within ourselves how we create those types of imbalances, we can't seek a greater comprehension and understanding of all of the greater things that are happening in this world. Our own divinity can teach us all of the reasons for the different situations that are happening on this planet right now, whether good or negative. But before all of that, our inner divinity is going to ask us whether or not we have been sincere with ourselves: whether or not we have addressed the problems that we have the power to change in our current situation.
Now what is wonderful for us as Gnostics is that when we take this kind of radical personal responsibility for the state of our life and for the state of the world, we are able to use karma for our own self-transformation. We are able to use karma to our benefit, not as a law which mercilessly punishes us for our ignorance and for our mistakes, but as a law that we can use consciously to understand how we can take better actions and achieve a better, higher state of life, a higher state of consciousness, a state of life with less worries.
Now, less worries doesn't necessarily mean that we're going to be rich. We might be, we might not be. It doesn't mean necessarily that we will have our dream job. We might, we might not. But it means that with harmonious actions we can create a harmonious state of being within ourselves and that means that whatever situation we find ourselves in, we are in a better position to experience that from a positive point of view and to respond to that situation from a positive point of view, rather than reacting negatively, unconsciously, and mechanically to situations in life and making problems even worse. We have a higher state of consciousness from which to comprehend our situation and respond to it.
The Four Certainties of Karma
I recommend a book that is sold through the Gnostic Store online. It is called Karma is Negotiable. These four rules or the four certainties of karma are extracted from that book, and you can definitely read a lot more about them in the book.
But to cover them simply, this is the road map that I was telling you about. This is what we need to investigate to see if it is true, if we are really experiencing this in our lives and if we find and validate these laws to work with them to our benefit, rather than being unconscious victims of the law of karma, to work with the law of karma—to become, in a sense, a magi, a magician who uses this law to his advantage to very quickly and expediently transform his or her life.
1. Actions produce related consequences
So the first certainty of karma or rule of action and consequence is that actions produce related consequences. Simply put, if you plant the seed of a pine tree, you are not going to grow an orange tree. So whatever you hope to be the consequences, you have to examine if you are taking the actions that are really going to produce those consequences.
Let's say that you really want to have a consequence of great relationship with one of your family members. But in your actions, if you really sit and meditate on your actions, you see that the seeds you are planting are seeds of discord. Maybe you are criticizing them, or you know, doing different actions that create disharmony in that relationship. So you have to analyze your actions and ask yourself: “Are these actions that I am taking in my family life, in my work life, in my relationships and in my personal life, going to produce the consequences that I really want? Are they going to create a higher level of being, a more harmonious lifestyle? Or are they going to create more problems, more complications, more suffering?” Because our actions will produce related consequences.
2. Consequences are greater than their cause
The second is that the consequences of our actions are greater than the actions themselves. So if we think about throwing a pebble into some water, we know that the water will be displaced. But what about all of the creatures that are living in that water? What about the plants in the water? Yes, we might see the superficial ripples of that water, but what about all the ripples that move down through the deeper parts of the water as that stone travels downward?
We know that a few words on Twitter can have enormous consequences, right? A few words spoken at the right time and the right place can move a nation to war, to rebellion, maybe even inspire them to peace.
At the same time, silence in just the right moment can have dramatic consequences. So when we do a small action, like maybe telling a white lie and we think it will have very small effects, we should really pay attention. We should really observe what those consequences are, not just physically, not just in our relationships with the people we have lied to, but also in our own heart, in our own mind, in our spiritual life. What are the consequences of that?
3. You cannot receive a consequence without committing its corresponding action
The third rule is that you cannot receive the consequence without committing its corresponding action. So if we hope to achieve a very high level of spiritual development and spiritual awakening, we have to commit their corresponding actions. You need to take the actions and invest the energy in order to receive receive that result.
If we are investing 99.9% of our time into a bunch of things that, in, perhaps, the spiritual view of things, are irrelevant, and only 0.01% percent of our time into our spiritual life, well, that is how much consequence we are going to get out of it. I am not saying that we should disregard our responsibilities. We absolutely need to live in a harmonious way in society. We need to take care of our family. We need to do our job. We need to be able to have the things to provide for ourselves to be able to live and have a good life and take care of ourselves, but at the same time, if we are over investing in certain areas of our life and yet expecting, you know, tremendous results in our spiritual growth, when we are not investing in that particular area, then we are kidding ourselves.
4. Once an action is performed, the consequence cannot be erased
The fourth law or fourth rule of the law of karma is that once an action is performed, the consequence cannot be erased. Once you pull the trigger, you cannot take the bullet back into the gun. Once you say that cruel word, you can never remove that from the other person's memory. The consequence and the effects of what we do are guaranteed.
So if we are performing good actions, we can have great joy in that because we know that those actions, those virtuous actions, selfless actions, that are not motivated by our own egotism, will produce positive results. But, if on the other hand, we are doing harmful actions, we will have to pay for that.
It said in the Bible, "Be not deceived. God is not mocked. For whatsoever a man sows, that he shall reap” (Galatians 6:7). We see it in all traditions, that law of cause and effect.
So we should take these, and we should examine our actions and look at the consequences they produce. Try doing something kind for someone and observe, self-observe yourself. What are the consequences within yourself, within your heart, your mind, your body? What are the observations you have of the other person in that situation? And conversely, maybe you catch yourself doing something else, something that you have come to regret. Well, observe the consequences of that and consider these four certainties of karma, and investigate them for yourself. Don't take our word for it, but truly investigate them in your own life.
Now many of us might feel that it can be a heavy weight to think that we have had many previous lifetimes where we might have done bad things, good things, and we are not sure and now we can't erase the consequences of those actions. Well, the important thing is that we have this present moment and we have each moment after this to use it to our advantage.
This is where that line at the bottom of the screen becomes very important.
5. A superior law always overcomes an inferior one.
The law of karma is an infallible law. Actions produce consequences. We see that in physics. We all know that. But a superior law, a spiritual and divine law of mercy, perhaps, or the law of sacrifice, can be used by us consciously in order to overcome our karma. There is some karmas that we can't totally erase, certain karmas related with our sexual energy. Karmas related to adultery and fornication are crimes against the Holy Spirit, which, we have been taught especially in the Christian tradition, cannot be forgiven. But many of our actions that might have produced negative consequences for us or will produce negative consequences for us, can be overcome by working with superior laws like the law of sacrifice for others.
If we have done something wrong to hurt someone, if we said a cruel word, we can apologize. We can go and try to make it up to them. Now we can't erase the consequence of the previous action, the previous wrong that we have done, but if we are sincere in our action to make up for that or our apology, we may be able to overcome some of that damage. That would be working with a superior law in that case.
Personal Accountability and Causality
So let's talk about superior laws that we want to work with. Well, actually before we get to that, that's actually a few slides ahead, I want to talk first about how we usually respond to any situation. So this is a quote from Samael Aun Weor. He is talking about how many times we experience injustices or what we what we believe to be injustices, and it is very difficult for us to transform them. We, many times, feel like we are the victims of others’ cruelty. The victims of others’ criticisms. That it is other people's fault that we are suffering the way that we are and if other people, you know, would just understand us or respect us or do their share of the work better, then we wouldn't have these problems.
We very rarely want to look at ourselves. We very rarely want to assume that radical personal responsibility that I talked about earlier, where we accept that if something bad is happening to me, I have caused it in one way or another. I have contributed to causing this result.
That also means I have the power to change it. If I had the power to create this, I have the power to change it in a fundamental way. Perhaps not entirely, but I have some power in the situation.
We see here that many of the times, more in these situations where we are very upset, we feel overwhelmed by negative emotions and we complain. Rather than taking that type of responsibility for our lives, we rebel against our circumstances. We get mad at God. We get mad at karma. I think that this is a really powerful quote from Samael Aun Weor, so I'll share it with you.
“We ask for love when we have been merciless and cruel. We demand comprehension when we have never known how to comprehend anyone, when we have never learned to see the other person’s point of view. We long for immense good fortune when we have always been the origin of many misfortunes.We protest against persons who insult us when we have always insulted everyone who surrounds us. Slander annoys us terribly when we were always slanderers and filled the world with pain. Gossip upsets us, we do not want anyone to gossip about us, however we were always involved in gossip and backbiting, talking badly about our fellowmen, mortifying the lives of others. That is, we always demand what we have not given; we were evil and we deserve the worst, but we suppose that we should be given the best.” —Samael Aun Weor
So we should examine ourselves in the way that we respond to situations. When something bad happens to us, do we immediately criticize and gossip about the other people involved? When we are mad that somebody is not understanding our point of view and how much they are causing us to suffer, have we taken the time to meditate on their point of view and how they may be suffering? We want a ton of fortune for ourselves, but how much have we contributed to the well-being and good fortune of others? We make some very profound statement here, and I think it's worth meditating on and reflecting more.
When we respond to life in that way, we are not using our energy in a way that will produce positive results for us. We are actually making our situation worse. We're in a bad situation and we go and we say bad things about the other person, we are going to create more problems for ourselves. If we are in a bad situation and people are saying bad things about us and we learn to control ourselves, to recognize that what other people are saying. If it's not true, then it will pass away, and if it's true, then they are speaking the truth and why should we protest against that? If we learn to be calm and not react mechanically to life, soon enough people will be on talking about something else and we will have freed ourselves from the cycle of creating more and more problems in that situation. We will pay the karma and that situation will dissolve, eventually. Some situations take longer to resolve themselves than others.
But Samael Aun Weor taught us that the best way to get rid of a problem is to stop thinking about the problem. Many times we obsess about our problems and we put a lot of mental energy into that, and then the next time we see that person, we start screaming at them without them even saying anything, because we worked ourselves up over it. That might be an exaggerated example, but if we would merely let the problem be and move on to the other duties that we have to take care of, many times things resolve themselves. And when they can't resolve themselves, we should meditate on it, ask for guidance within.
Ethics: The Foundation of Spirituality
So the best way for us to work positively in any situation we are in life and to start cultivating a foundation for our own spiritual developments, the right environment for us to awaken, to be able to observe more, to be able to comprehend more, to have mystical experiences, is to work with ethics.
Here is another quote from gnosticteachings.org I am going to share:
“Ethics are not just mechanical laws that some external authority is trying to impose upon us. These rules, commandments, or vows have a very specific function, which must be clearly grasped, and that is this: If you perform actions that are harmful, you create disharmony not only in your environment but in your mind. Yet if you follow these ‘observances,’ or positive practices, you create positive energy, not only into your environment, but in your mind. So the purpose of Yama and Niyama or the Commandments of Moses is to stabilize our psychology so that we are no longer vibrating with so much negative emotion.” —Gnostic Instructor
How do we cultivate an energetic environment in which we can have a connection with divinity? Well, if we are going around all day lying, cheating, stealing, gossiping, talking about nonsense, what is the quality of our mind? Our mind is filled with energetic garbage, so to speak. So we need a way, we need a method, in which we can harness positive energies and we can restrain negative energies. Working with energy is a form of magic, right? All of us wish that we could snap our fingers and have a better situation in life where we were happier, right? Well if you truly master ethics, if you truly learn how to work with the energy of your own psychology and to respond consciously and positively to the energies in your environment, you become a magician in that sense. This is the basis for magic, is to be conscious and to be controlling energies.
Now we talked in our last lecture about harnessing our sexual energy. That is an extremely tremendous force. And if we don't harness that energy alongside a tremendous effort of ethics and self-discipline, we will create a lot of problems for ourselves, because we will be working with a large, powerful force of energy and we will be pouring it into all of the directions that create more and more disharmony, more suffering for ourselves and for others. We need the Ten Commandments of Moses or Twelve Commandments Moses. We need teachings like Yama and Niyama to be our map, so that we can understand how to work with our own energy within us and the energy that we want to give into our environment. Because when we know how to master ourselves and become masters of the energy within ourselves and within our own psychology, then we have the foundation for becoming masters and kings and queens of nature.
The Eightfold Path of Yoga
I have taken the first two steps from Patanjali's Yoga Sutras of his Eightfold Path: Yama and Niyama. Yama means “restraint” and Niyama means “precepts.” So with Yama, we will be talking about what types of actions we want to restrain and with Niyama, we will be talking about what types of actions we want to put forward. We want to follow those precepts. We want to take those actions in order to produce the type of psychological and spiritual environment in which we can awaken and have a more harmonious lifestyle.
All of us know, if our life is very chaotic, if we have a lot of problems, it is very hard to calm down your heart, to calm down your mind, to calm down your body and to sit for meditation and try to communicate with God. It is very difficult if you have a very disharmonious environment or a very chaotic life with lots of problems. By following these steps little by little, getting control over our own actions, we will gradually be able to transform ourselves and transform our environment as a result. “As within, so without.” This is a very common Gnostic adage.
In Yama, restraint, the first principal is ahimsa, non-violence. Each one of these builds off of the previous one, so that means that before we can even go on to the next steps, we need to look at what mastering non-violence is within ourselves, to the best of our ability. Okay? So first we should have a good grasp on what non-violence means, and how we can restrain violence within ourselves and within our actions in order to then build on to the next one.
I want to point out that violence is not just physical violence, going and punching somebody or hurting someone physically. There are other levels of violence. We can have violence against ourselves. How do we talk to ourselves? Are we constantly saying negative things about ourselves? Because if we know that in our Essence we have divinity within, we shouldn't be performing those types of violent emotional actions against ourselves. In the same way, we shouldn't be criticizing others, whether we are saying those words out loud or whether we are thinking them mentally or emotionally, just having evil will towards others. Those are forms of violence. You can kill someone with a word, with a look, to a degree. You can emotionally wound people with your silence. Sarcasm is a tremendous example of violence on the mental plane. There are many times where people will use sarcasm as a way to criticize and mock others in a very cruel and demeaning way, but then to brush it aside and say that they were joking when all along, mentally, they meant it. And you can sense that. You can feel that disconnect in between somebody's words and what you feel is their intention behind them.
But before we look at it in others, we need to look at it in ourselves. So just becoming aware of what we are doing is the first step, and if we observe something in ourselves that we think is creating violence mentally, emotionally, physically, against someone else or against ourselves and our own inner divinity, then we should try to restrain that as best we can, because it's going to produce negative consequences. It is going to imbalance our mind, our heart, and our physical life, and our relationship with others.
So after that we have satya, which is truthfulness. Now this doesn't mean to go around just all honesty all the time in everyone's face, because sometimes that would be a form of violence. If we know that being bluntly honest would really hurt someone, then perhaps it is best to keep silence.
What we want to restrain is our inclination to deceive people. Maybe we are a secretive person and we take a lot of actions that are very deceptive. Are we living in a genuine, sincere way in our interactions with other people? Or are we being deceptive? Are we lying? Are we presenting ourselves as one sort of person so that we can win somebody's favors, so we can impress the people on the interview committee for a new job, so we can attract a partner that we want? Are we presenting ourselves in a false way or are we being genuine and humble and showing ourselves for who we truly are? Because it may be the case that you get that spouse or that job based on a false presentation of yourself, and sooner or later that will crumble, because you aren't actually meant to be in those situations. It is based on a lie.
So truthfulness goes beyond just what we say. It goes into the very way that we express ourselves in life, and it starts with honesty with ourselves, sincerity with ourselves. As long as we are pointing our fingers at everybody else and blaming them for our situation, and we refuse to take any personal responsibility for our situation, we are not being fully honest. Yes, there are systemic problems that exist in this world, but there are also many problems that we ourselves create in our lives, and we have to address those before we can address anything else.
After we have mastered, or I guess gotten the basics of non-violence and truthfulness, we move to asteya, non-stealing. So again, this isn't just stealing people's money and stealing other people's possessions, although of course, it includes those. How do we steal other people's time? How do we steal other people's attention or goodwill? Do we steal the credit for something when we weren't actually the person who put in the hard work and the effort to do it? Do we, through a false presentation of ourselves, steal a relationship from someone because we attracted them based on a lie, when they should have been perhaps with another partner?
Stealing hits on many levels, and again, all of these are working with energies. You know if we are violent against other people, that violence will come back and will strike us mentally, emotionally, physically. If we are deceiving others, how will we ever see the truth of God, the truth of reality, the truth of divinity, if within ourselves we are producing deception and lies? And if we were stealing from others, then that energy will again be stolen from us.
We say that people who practice black magic, because they don't get their energy from their own inner divinity, they steal energy from other people. They hypnotize other people through those people's desires, whether lust or greed or so on, and they feed their energy from those people.
So in this, we want to practice harmonious action, trusting that, you know, by performing good deeds, by doing our daily responsibilities, we will have what we need.
The next is brahmacharya, chastity. So in our previous lecture, we spoke about this at length. It is essential that we keep our energies pure, that we transform our energies and transmute them. If we are wasting those energies, if we are pouring those energies into harmful desires, into lust, which only seeks personal satisfaction at the expense of others, then how will we ever have peace and harmony within ourselves?
This is our root force, our creative power. Our sexual energy is directly related with our consciousness, our mind, our soul. If we don't have good control over that force, then our mind is going to be all over the place. Our conscious attention is going to be all over the place. Now if we can harness that force through purity, we will have sexuality, but a pure type of sexuality. We will transform that energy according to its divine archetype, rather than in a way that is against the laws of divinity.
We see this in a tree or a rose, which perfectly takes the energies of nature, its own sexual energies, and transforms those energies and follows its own archetype. It becomes something beautiful and harmonious. It does not have to steal from nature, because it's in balance with nature. That is what chastity is.
Many times people equate chastity with celibacy and they think, “Well, if I am not lustful, then I just won't have any sexual desire. Well, then I am just going to have nothing, right? I just won't feel anything.” Chastity is a form of sexuality. There is sexual impulse there, but it is pure. It is loving. It is about divinity. It is about what is best for others and not about selfish desire.
Now, building upon those foundations, we come to aparigraha, which is non-avariciousness, non-greediness: not trying to take more than what we need. This is restraining the part of the animal instinct that always wants to hoard and hoard and get more and get more. You know, it is accepting having enough, to be comfortable, to live a secure life, but not having to always be chasing more and more material things, or more and more emotional sensations.
Maybe we are somebody who is addicted to praise, and so we are always trying to put ourselves in situations where more and more people will praise us and think highly of us, dressing a certain way or making certain jokes or talking a certain way to get more attention. Well, are we stealing in that case? Shouldn't we be happy with enough? Why are we always seeking more? Why are we addicted to those sensations? So again, all of these go beyond just physicality. How are we emotionally using our energy, our sexual energy? How are we mentally using those energies?
Now once we have restrained these negative energies, we have tried to restrain our actions physically, emotionally, and mentally to a certain degree, we need to take actions that are positive physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually. So these are Niyama, precepts. These are the positive actions which will produce positive results. The ones we talked about before will produce negative consequences for us. These will produce positive consequences for us and for others.
The first saucha is purity from desire. So again, purity is not just the absence of impurities. Purity is not just having nothing in it that makes it dirty, the way that many times we think of it. Purity itself is virtue. It is beauty. It is harmony. It is divinity in a pure form. Divinity has an energy, has a presence, a very powerful presence, but it is not seeking something. It exists. It has will, but it is not motivated by egotistical desires. Having purity from egotism is what this principle is all about. It is about being in harmony with the energy and the will of our inner divinity, cultivating that connection, and when other things come up to pollute that energy, we choose to hold true to our conscience rather than following egotism.
Next we have santosha, contentment with what one has. So this is pretty much the opposite of aparigraha, non-avariciousness. In non-avariciousness, it is non-attachment. It is non-grasping. It is about not seeking more. Santosha is about the quality of just being genuinely happy with what you have.
Unfortunately, this is becoming rarer and rarer. You see people on the street. Often they don't look very happy. Many people are often looking stressed or worried, but if we were at peace, if we were like a child connected with our inner divinity and fully conscious of everything that is happening in life, we would have this contentment, this peace and serenity with what we have. We would feel joy to be alive, to be in a beautiful world like this, to have the relationships we have with people. So it is quality in itself, but of course, as I mentioned before, we can't often reach these states and so we have at least a basic grasp on Yama, on restraint.
Tapas are austerities, spiritual practices. So we have many practices in Gnosis, which work with energy, and produce very positive and harmonious results for us—to cultivate a lot of energy, a lot of will power, a lot of joy in connection to divinity, and gives us the energy that we need for mystical experiences.
These are things that many times beginning practitioners complain about, having to sit to meditate or do runes or different yogic exercises. We will actually talk about them in a forthcoming lecture, but when you have worked with these and you truly see energetic results that come from them, you understand the value. These practices awaken consciousness, awaken the compassion of the heart, the wisdom of the mind, strength and vitality in the body. So we work with those practices daily in order to produce positive effects for ourselves and for others.
Svadhyaya: Scriptural Study
Next is svadhyaya, the study of scriptures. No matter which tradition you have a relationship with, studying the root scriptures from the highest teachers in those traditions is important, not the modern commentaries that are watered down, but actually going to those roots scriptures, reading a verse, sitting and reflecting on it, meditating on it, praying to divinity, “God, help me understand what is meant by this verse.” Maybe you read a passage and one line sticks out to you. Taking that one line and sitting down praying, praying for guidance and then meditating on it for 15 or 20 minutes, writing down the results that you got from your meditation—that is a great way to study the scriptures, not just on an intellectual level, but emotionally and spiritually engage with them.
Ishvarapranidhana: Remembrance of Divinity
And finally, Ishvarapranidhana, continual remembrance of God. This is our shield. If we are in remembrance of God, deeply and profoundly feeling the presence of our own inner divinity, how can we steal from others? How can we lie, or be violent, or be greedy, or be lustful? If we feel God within us, if we feel this contentment with what we have, if we feel energized by our spiritual practice, inspired by the wisdom of scriptures, and we feel pure in our heart like a child, innocent like a child, well then, why would we want to harm others? Why would we want to do these egotistical actions, which we know from our own study of our life and of karma, produce harmful effects for us and for others.
Working with these steps is the foundation for being able to manage your own energy, and as a result, transform your life, to create a lifestyle that is harmonious for spiritual practice. This might mean giving up, temporarily or for a time, distancing yourself from certain people or certain environments: not going out to bars or places where you know there are many lustful people, places where there is violence, but staying in environments and with people who you know cultivate positive energetic responses in you.
Especially at the beginning, this is really critical, because we kind of have a bandwidth, energetically, of how much we can transform before we become overwhelmed and hypnotized and fall asleep and just get sucked in again—like turning on a really really powerful engaging TV show and just becoming immediately hypnotized.
Now, maybe a master could do that and have no problems staying awake and maintaining themselves, but for many of us, we might get sucked in. So maybe we need to take a break from those types of TV shows and just focus on calming down our mind, calming down our heart. Stop taking in tons of impressions and energy that is disharmonious and actually let our mind set a little bit so that we can see: “Why am I suffering? What is hurting in me?” rather than running away and distracting ourselves, really looking at our suffering, looking it in the face because it's there. Whether we choose to see it or ignore it, it's there. By looking at our suffering, we will be able perhaps to see what has caused it and then perhaps to understand what actions we can take, such as these positive ethical actions, to resolve it. So we work with that energy daily.
Now finally, I want to conclude with sacrifice, because sacrifice is the ultimate tool that we use to negotiate our karma. Previously, the instructor mentions that we have three factors in Gnosis that are very commonly talked about. The first being death, psychological death, which we gave a lecture on. The second being spiritual birth, which was the previous lecture. And the third is sacrifice for humanity, conscious, willing sacrifice for humanity.
If you have ever done something and then you felt remorse for it, genuine remorse, you wish that there was a way you could take back that deed. You wish that there was a way you could go and make it up to that person. That is the type of longing that the sincere spiritual aspirant has.
When we look at ourselves, when we look at the problems that we have created for ourselves and the pain that we have caused others, we have a longing to do something positive to resolve that. Not just so that we won't have to have those negative consequences, but because we genuinely, deeply comprehend the harm that we have produced and no longer being ignorant of that. Now having the knowledge of how much good we could have done instead, we wish to take actions to produce that amount of good, to achieve our potential as a spiritual being.
We follow the guidance of our inner divinity and we find the best way that we can sacrifice for others. Sometimes that means going to the soup kitchen or donating money, or donating clothes. Those are good acts, but many times sacrifice goes beyond mere service for others. It is a sacrifice to practice the ethics that we just talked about. For many of us, that is a tremendous sacrifice to change our lifestyle, our way of thinking, our way of talking and acting and feeling, to try to transform our lives down to a more ethical lifestyle. But the results of doing that for the people in our lives and for everyone we may meet in the future, the results of that for ourselves, are extremely positive. So whether or not we have money to donate or time to go volunteer, or perhaps opportunities to teach spiritual teachings to others, we can all make a tremendous sacrifice by working on ourselves to become better people.
People who follow their own inner divinity, who live a harmonious lifestyle, feel sincere compassion and act on that compassion in intelligent and wise ways for the benefit of others. If we can't create that environment for ourselves, it becomes very hard to truly create it for others many times. We think we are helping someone, and really we are just adding more trouble to the situation.
Many times we want to help someone else so that we don't have to look at our own problems and deal with our own problems. So in the beginning, let's not get confused with over-sacrificing ourselves and giving up everything to take care of others, so that then we have no energy left to take care of ourselves. We need to be able to take care of our own responsibilities, to manage our own energy, to be living a harmonious life ourselves. By doing that, we are producing a tremendously good effect for others, everybody around us and for humanity as a whole. And then from that state, we might be able to know what is intelligent action, to be able to help others whether spiritually, physically, emotionally, mentally, whatever ways we have a unique vocation or calling to do so.
But we should not be sacrificing for others to the extent that we ourselves are getting burnt out, and then have no energy left to work on ourselves spiritually. That would be counter-productive.
Sacrifice builds upon birth and death. We need the death of our own egotism. We need that work on our own psychology and our own defects related with Yama, restraint. And we need the birth of our soul related with Niyama, those spiritual precepts that we can follow, those positive actions that we can take. But in addition to that, we need to also have a mindset which values the benefit of others as well, which hopes for the good benefit of those around us, of our family members, our friends, of all of humanity and all beings.
As our teacher Samael Aun Weor stated:
"Those who only preoccupy themselves with their own spiritual progress and do not work for others achieve absolutely nothing. Whosoever wants to progress must sacrifice the self for others." —Samael Aun a Weor, Tarot and Kabbalah
We know, as we talked about at length, that to sacrifice the self is to sacrifice our egotism. That doesn't mean that we run ourselves dry trying to run here and there and do favors for everybody. We sacrifice our self-interest, our selfish desires, our desire for more attention, for more pleasant sensations, for more praise—whatever these desires are that are beyond what we actually need to survive and to be able to take care of ourselves and our duties. We sacrifice those egotistical desires and instead spend some time reflecting on how we can be a source of benefit to the people around us.
We all have jobs. Many of these jobs are focused on service, customer service. How can we transform our job and make it a place where we don't just drag our feet and try to get the next paycheck, but really try to do a good job so that our customers or our clients or our co-workers benefit from from having us in that environment, from speaking with us from the work that we do? That is a great place to start, working with this factor sacrifice.
But in addition to that, we need to be conserving our energies, putting them into positive actions, positive spiritual actions, and we need to be restraining our own egotism, our own negative habits, our own negativity, and trying to replace that negativity through meditation with positive insight and comprehension from our inner divinity. If we have a negative thought, it's not just repress it and push it down, but to truly investigate, “Why am I so angry?” To go, to pray, to sit and to meditate on your anger and look at it. Maybe meditate on the other person's point of view whom you are angry with and see how they are suffering, and to truly work at it until you gain some comprehension that helps you to feel a positive state, a virtuous state, a compassionate state. Then you have achieved Gnosis. You have achieved a bit of Gnosis about yourself in that situation, and when we know ourselves, we come to understand others much, much better. When we understand others, then we know what we can truly do to help them.
This is a transcription of an audio lecture from Introduction to Gnostic Studies, originally given live at the Gnostic Academy of Chicago.
Maybe some of you may have heard of this concept before, of letting yourself die to attachment or desire. But what does it mean in practice? It can be a very lofty ideal, but sometimes it is hard to figure out exactly what is meant by that. We are going to go through some of the different teachings around this topic of psychological death, break it down a bit, and then we will finish up with a practical aspects of how we might hope to achieve this little by little in our daily lives.
I want to begin with a quote from Samael Aun Weor. He states in his book Tarot and Kabbalah:
“Intimate self-realization costs has a price, life itself.” ―Samael Aun a Weor, Tarot and Kabbalah
The intimate self-realization, which is related to the work of our soul and our spiritual development, costs life itself. What does that mean? Well, I am going to keep you waiting and I am not going to explain right now what it means, but we will come back to it a little later on, and should it keep it in mind as we talk about death, because of course, death is something that all of us should be very aware off.
All of us will die one day physically. Although this is unavoidable part of life, many times we try to avoid it, even if the news or in a media, we often see that images of death can be covered up: funerals, closed caskets. We have a society that tries to shield us from death and keep us focused on goals we want to attain from life: wealth or status, worldly success. Many times we are glad to avoid the topic of death, because we fear death, although we know it is inevitable. We have a strong fear of dying. Part of that has to do with a loss of all of those things that we cling to and hold.
Another part of it is fear of the unknown. What comes after death? We might have many beliefs about this or many ideas about this, but who truly remembers dying? Who truly knows and has experience what will happen to them after death?
We sometimes hear stories of saints or prophets or masters, who were crucified or burned alive or tortured and killed―many gruesome deaths―and yet we hear that throughout all of that they had a type of serenity and love, even for the ones who were harming them. So, why were they not afraid of death or even the pain associated with it? What was the difference between us, as common people, and those who have achieved the higher degree of self-development, spiritual development? What comes after death?
Well, in this teaching we understand the law of karma, the law of cause and effect, and we know that whatever actions we sow in this lifetime, we will reap the effects of those actions, whether in this life or after this life. So what comes after death is entirely determined by what we do today, maybe what we have done yesterday―what we will do tomorrow and for the remaining days of our life. And yet, many times we find that it is hard to live by that principle. Although we know that we should be treating others well, perhaps it can be difficult.
So, I want to begin our talk today with this quote from the Bible from the Book of James:
"What does it profit, my brothers, though a man say he has faith, and have not works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say to them, Depart in peace, be you warmed and filled; notwithstanding you give them not those things which are needful to the body; what does it profit? Even so faith, if it has not works, is dead, being alone.” ―James 2:14-17
I am going to begin this discussion today by thinking about: what do we put our faith in? We may say: "I have faith in God" or "I have faith in,” perhaps, something like “reincarnation or heaven or hell.” We may say we have faith in karma, and that we know if we do these good deeds today, that we will reap the benefit for them after this life comes to an end.
But does that faith produce works? Do we truly see that our actions reflect the things we claim to have faith in? Or is that faith merely a belief? And when push comes to shove, do we act in a way that we feel will get us the one up now?
Maybe we have to lie to get what we want in a certain situation, and even though we say we have faith and the truth, and we know that lying is bad and will cause us pain later on. Does our action reflect that we truly know that? Or is it merely a belief, because we see that faith, if its merely a belief, and does not reflect itself in our actions and in our works, is dead. It is dead faith.
We want living faith, because when we speak of faith in this tradition, we try to emphasize that it is different from mere belief, that faith is something that we know from direct experience, that we know so deeply, that no matter what anyone says, we will not be shaken. We would not have to react or argue with them. We will not doubt ourselves, because we would know that this is true, because we have lived it. We have experienced it directly.
I will give you an example of something that most of us, if not all, have living faith in. Perhaps you burned yourself―whether it is on a hot tap or a fire. And maybe when you were a little kid, there was something hot around, and you accidentally burned yourself. Now, if you know nowadays that something is hot or you see a fire, no matter how many people tell you: "Oh, no no! Go ahead! Touch the hot stove!" or "stick your hand in the fire! Go ahead, and step into the fire!"―you will not do it. Maybe if your house is burning down and there is something very, very precious, you might risk it, but must of the time, if there is not a very good reason―no matter what anyone said to try to convince us―we would not touch that fire, because we know we would be burned. We know that from experience, and it is just not worth it to take someone's word for something. We already know it is true.
In the same way we do not have to argue with people about whether or not grass is green, or the sky is blue, because we know these things. And even if somebody comes up to you and tells you: "No, the sky is neon green!"―you will just perhaps think "that's a little strange,” but you wouldn't have to waste your time in an argument or doubt yourself, because you can see that that is true.
So, when we hear that prophets and saints, that Jesus and Buddha, Krishna, all these great masters have given us some message that divinity, that angels, that demons, hell and heaven, that these types of places and beings are real, it can be hard for us to have faith in that if we don't have an experience or remembrance, or we have not seen that directly. So it might feel that we have to just believe and take that person's word for it, that we have to trust that the saints and prophets, who preach these type of messages―they experienced it―and so we should take their word for it.
But the reason that Gnostic path is such a difficult one, is because we take nothing on mere belief. We truly have to test and investigate these teachings, the teachings from beautiful masters, beautiful spiritual teachers, and we have to test them and evaluate them in our own experience and in our own practice. And that takes more than just normal efforts. It takes super efforts. And, so, in this tradition we work very hard to do that.
The Reality of Death
I start with this sentiment about faith, because all of us know for a fact that we will die. We know that intellectually. Perhaps we’ve seen our loved ones die and that hit us with a lot of grief and, perhaps, made us think about our own mortality. But do we truly deeply comprehend the reality of death? Do we know it so deeply that we live our life truly knowing that this day could be our last? So that co-worker or friend, or family member, who you have a grudge against, and you know that: "OK, yeah, sure I should let that grudge go,” but still it eats away at you. Do you truly stop and think: "If I die tomorrow, would this grudge really matter to me? Would getting my revenge on this person really be that important? If I would have die tomorrow, wouldn't I wish instead that I felt love for them? That I have forgiven them?"
So, we have to question whether or not we deeply comprehend the reality of our inevitable death. Because if we did, perhaps we would be living quite differently. So, one practice is that at the end of each day is to contemplate your daily activities, to do that retrospection, meditation of everything that have said and done, thought and fell that day from the perspective if you were to die that night―and to think if you would have done something differently, because, hopefully, God willing, the next day will have another chance to try to do it differently.
Death in the Tarot
There is Arcanum in the Tarot that is very commonly associated with death. The Arcanum of death is Arcanum 13. But as you noticed here in the Tarot card from the Gnostic, Eternal Tarot deck, Arcanum 13 is immortality.
So, there is a relationship there. Immortality has in its center the root "mort,” which relates to death. But "immortality" is to be able to overcome death, to be able to resist death. So even in this card, we see the rebirth―reaping the wheat, representing death. And we see young wheat that is growing in the period of, perhaps, youth and we see up above the flowers, representing birth and rebirth.
As we think about this hierarch of the law, reaping the grains of wheat, Samael Aun Weor explains in his teaching that these grains of wheat―each little grain and the long grains and the short grains―represent vital energies, vital qualities that we have, vital values.
We learned previously about the three brains. We have an intellectual brain, our intellectual center, which processes intellectual energy. We have an emotional brain, which processes emotional energy, and we have a motor-instinctive-sexual brain, which processes energy in those levels. And those three brains are mechanical. They are machines. And each of those brains run on a certain type of fuel, which we can think of as vital values. We can compare each one to, perhaps, an engine. And just like the engine in your car requires gasoline to run, each of these three brains requires vital values to be able to run.
Now we have a kind of funny word to talk about―Bobbin-Kandelnosts, but whether or not you remember the word, it is important to know that at the beginning of our life, each of us are given a different number of vital values in each of our three brains, and that after the quantity of vital values has been used up, that that brain will no longer function properly.
If we use up all of our intellectual values, perhaps, we will have it illnesses of the mind, mental illnesses. If we do so with our emotional values, we might have disorders of the emotional center: depression, anxiety. And if we do so with our motor-instinctive-sexual center, we may have very difficult physical illnesses as well.
What is important to recognize is that conserving energy is very important. And when we have some states of Being, like pride, or envy, or anger, or lust, we use up a lot of those vital values. Whereas, where we have a calm disposition, when we are able to respond to life with genuine compassion and serenity, we do not use hardly as much energy, and we prolong our life by preserving those vital values.
So, the qualities that waste the most energy are egotistical. You might think that you have a problem at work and so you need to deal with that problem at work. But let's say that you are home from work, and there is nothing you can do to work on that problem right now, but you are spending all night or maybe your whole weekend worrying and thinking about, and trying to figure it out, and going back and forth, thinking the same thoughts over and over, and really getting anxious about it. This can waste a tremendous amount of energy. At the end of the day, you just to have to go to work and take and action. You just have to do what you can to solve the problem.
But we tend to think that we can use our intellectual brain to solve the problem. This is might be helpful for certain types of problems, but for many problems it is actually the wrong center be using to try to fix them. For example, in that case, perhaps, we need to use our motor center to act, to do something, to take care of it. We have to judge each situation on case by case basis. But we also need to be observing how we are responding to the different situations in our life and evaluating how much energy we are expending, and what are we truly gaining from that energy. We know that: "Yes, it takes energy" to be able to sit for half an hour or an hour to meditate. But what do we gain from an hour of meditation?
I think that there is no one, who would truly say that they regret meditating. But perhaps we spend an hour yelling at the person that we are angry at and we might come to regret that later on.
So, thinking of these types of perspectives, when you review your daily activities, what are you truly getting out of it? Are you preserving your life force, your vital values? Or are you squandering it on things that, when the moment of death comes, will not have as much significance as you might feel they do in this moment?
Opposing the Ego
For that reason, we seek in the study to radically oppose our ego, our own sense of self. The things that we have planned for this life, that we want for this life, that are entirely egotistical, that are about our prestige, our success, our material wealth, all of these things. Yes, we need to be concerned with worldly affairs to certain degree, in order to live and to survive in this society, and to do our job, but when do we go overboard? When are being wasteful of those energies, and when are we actually using those energies in an appropriate amount to complete the daily tasks that we have to perform?
So that is why we seek annihilate our ego entirely. This work takes a very long time, but this is a work of this arcanum, because Arcanum 13 is related with Gospel of Judas Iscariot. And most of us will be familiar with the story of Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Christ. He sold Christ to the authorities for 30 coins of silver. Those 30 coins of silver can have many levels of meaning, but simply put, they might represent worldly desires: desires for wealth, desires for sensual pleasures, desires for power and fame, sensation.
So, do we sell our Intimate Christ for the worldly sensations, for the desires of our personality or our ego? Do we sell our spiritual life for worldly life? And when the moment of death comes, when everything that we have accumulated in this world, when life has taken away from us, what would we truly have left? What would we have invested into our soul, into the part of ourselves that will go on after death?
So, let's look at what Samael Aun Weor has told us about this arcanum. He says that this Arcanum relates to our true identity:
“Common and ordinary people do not have a true identity, because only those phantoms of the pluralized “I” are expressed through them. Thus, after death each human is a legion.” ―Samael Aun Weor, Alchemy and Kabbalah in the Tarot
We talked before about ego in contrast with consciousness and personality. The ego we sometimes refer to as one, like we need to annihilate the entire ego, because it is an aggregate, but it is an aggregate of many different egos, many different desires. We might experience in any given moment that we desire multiple things. Maybe we want to go out and get some exercise today, but we are also really tired, and we just want to sit on the couch. In that moment we are pulled by two desires.
Or, perhaps, we want to scream at the person that has just criticized us, but at the same time another part of us troubles to have a kind reaction, to express compassion instead of anger.
Many times we feel this conflict. That is why Samael Aun Weor is pointing out here that common, ordinary people like us do not have a true identity. We have a plural life identity. We have all these little "I's" that in each moment are fighting for control of our machine, our human machine, fighting to drive the intellectual center in one direction, and the emotional center in another direction, and a physical center in another direction. So, we need to be aware of that, that many times we say: "Oh, yes, this is truly what I want, this is me. This is what is important to me and what I value. I value honesty!" But a little while later, just in a right situation pressure, we betray the things that we have said we value. We lie when we say that honesty is our policy, or any number of things.
So, as much as we believe we may be good people, who would never do certain immoral actions or unethical steps, at the same time we have to realize that we don't truly know ourselves, that there are depths of our identity, in our subconsciousness, that would terrify us. We don't know what we are capable of in a given situation, when pressures are just right. We don't know what might emerge out of us, when we are truly frightened or when we are tempted by something more than what we can resist.
We have to recognize the part of ourselves that we are aware of, but also always are thriving to know our deeper self―things about ourselves that might emerge in our dreams or in our fantasies, and we are examining: "Who am I really?" Because everything that emerges in your mind has a relationship with you. It is a part of you. So, we might think some angry, hateful thought or a violent thought, and then we say: "Oh, but I am not a violent person. I would never do that!" But if it is a part of our mind, it is a part of us.
We are more than just our actions. We are more than just our thoughts, more than just our emotions, more than just our instincts. These people are complex.
Consciousness: Our True Identity
So, what is soul? Soul, which should be our true identity? Samael Aun Weor states:
"Whosoever incarnates their soul acquires true identity and thus already IS. Present humans are not self-realized beings.” ―Samael Aun Weor, Alchemy and Kabbalah in the Tarot
This points out to us that we have more to accomplish, that we are not in our most developed state. We try to state that people nowadays are the most evolved civilization that there has ever been on this planet, but when we look at the state of our world, when we read the newspapers and hear about all the violent acts that go on, we know that it cannot be true, that people cannot be living at their highest potential of spiritual development, compassion and wisdom, and virtue, and all those qualities that we see represented in saints and Christ-like figures.
So those figures are divine because they are representations of their own inner divinity, of their own inner spirit. On that level our Being, our spirit, is perfect, and is perfect knowledge. It does not have to think, because it knows, because it is truth and beauty, and perfection, wisdom, love and virtue. It already is. But how do we reach a state in which that spirit is what is emanating from us? Physically, emotionally, mentally―in our words, in our deeds.
Willpower and Desire
The next section here on willpower gives a very important clue onto a big obstacle that we might encounter:
"Present humans confuse the force of desire with willpower. We need to engender Christ-Will.” ―Samael Aun Weor, Alchemy and Kabbalah in the Tarot
Many times we had a desire that is so powerful that we felt we would do anything to pursue it. Maybe this was a desire for job or a new car, or certain partner. Any number of things, maybe even a desire for certain type of food. We take all kinds of actions and maybe we have violated our own ethics in order to be able to get what we wanted. All the time we thought we were fighting for "what I want,” that is "my will,” but truly from a spiritual perspective, in those moments, we were controlled by desire. We were not in control of that situation. The desire was driving us, that egotistical desire was driving our human machine. Perhaps, a desire was to get revenge on someone who has betrayed us and truly hurt us, and all the time we felt: "This is my will. My will is to get revenge and make this person feel the pain that they would make me feel.” All along we think we are doing our will, but afterwards, when the deed is done, and we see the suffering, and that we have a look in the mirror and know we have truly hurt someone that we once cared about, then we might question: "Was that really my will? Or was I being driven by a demonic force within myself? An egotistical force that now I wish I had never had that desire in the first place?”
So, we need to be analyzing our day every day, because we can catch things. We can see things. We can recognize a desire, and we can comprehend it before it drives us to take actions that are harmful for ourselves or for others. When we do that, when we meditate, when we pray, when we ask God to illuminate our mind, to help us to comprehend the truth, and what is the right action in those situations, we can begin to gain true willpower. Because our will should be united with the will of our inner divinity.
Our inner Spirit is the best part of each one of us. If every person could reflect their Spirit and perform the will of their Spirit, they would perform truly miraculous deeds. They would be a beacon of love and wisdom. So, we want to engender that―that Christ-will, the will of divinity within us, our own unique representation of divinity.
Many people might claim that they feel they are channeling the divine, and maybe in a moment they have a mystical experience that is truly beautiful and is divine. But can we sustain that state on a regular basis? Or is our willpower constantly overrun by different desires that are driving the car?
The Relationship Between Life and Death
We need to ask ourselves: "Who do we live for? Do we live our lives for God? For the will our inner Spirit, to truly become the best that we are able to become under the guidance of our inner Father? Or do we live our life for an ego? For the worst parts of ourselves? The demonic parts of us, the vices that we carry within?”
Samael Aun Weor goes on to say that:
"Life and death are two phenomena of the same thing.” ―Samael Aun Weor, Alchemy and Kabbalah in the Tarot
In every moment that we are living in a certain way, there is another rout of possibilities that is dying. Every time we come to a fork in a road and we choose to go right, we are not going left. Right, simply put. When you make a decision, you are putting into motion a new chain of events, a new chain of a facts. And, so, when we act on a harmful quality, we are giving life to that harmful quality. We are feeding it our energy. We are letting it live and express itself through our body, through our heart, through our mind, through our words and actions. We are giving it more strength and vitality. But what dies as a consequence of that?
If I spent 75% of my day thinking about me, doing actions for me, pushing others aside, so that I can get at the front of the line, well―what is dying in the 75% of my day? What is dying, is the will of Being, the life of my own soul, the possibilities that my Spirit might have performed through me had I truly been awake, had I truly been mindful and at one, and in a state in which I could hear the will of my inner divinity, could feel that will, could be that will and perform it.
Every time we make a decision or we say something, we are sowing the consequences. We are sowing the causes that we will reap different consequences. So, we need to be aware of that, when we go and we evaluate our life.
We see here a butterfly, coming out of cocoon. What has to die for the butterfly to live? Well, we know. If we know a little bit about biology, we know that for the butterfly, the caterpillar has to die. A lot of us like to think that we are already butterflies and we are flying around and maybe we know so much about what there is to know, and we are really living life for a full potential. Some people like to think that. But the reality is we are actually closer to that of the caterpillar. We are very limited in our thoughts, in our emotions, in our physical abilities, in our spiritual abilities. We are not merely invisible. We truly cannot fly into the higher realms of existence, and experience and see the truth of reality in nature for ourselves. We have a very narrow ability to perceive.
What happens of the caterpillar? Does it know what it takes to become a butterfly? What if the caterpillar refuses to die, refuses to build the cocoon, fights to death to preserve its existence as a caterpillar? Feels that being caterpillar is the height of all there is to be and it chooses instead to focus on getting fat, eating a lot of leaves, reaming the earth and never wants to fly? It will never know what potential it had.
This is the analogy here with the fool. We say that we have an Essence. We have a seed of the soul and we believe that that there is an ego and our personality in our physical body, that that is "who I am,” and that is all that we know of ourselves. So, to give up things that “I egotistically want, that maybe I spent many years wanting and worked for, a certain number of my bank accounts, a certain promotion at work, a certain type of spouse, to give that up―seems like giving up myself. What else would there be for me if I didn't have that?” Because we do not know what it would be like to truly experience possibilities of our soul and of our Spirit.
If we knew that, if we knew what it was to be the butterfly, which actually is used in many symbols to represent the soul, the psyche, if we knew what that was, we would be so glad to let that caterpillar go, because we have already experienced what the caterpillar is like. Now we want to know what it is to be a fully self-realized being.
But in order for our soul to live―the ego has to die. That is why life and death are part of the same thing. In every moment, in order for you to live, something has to die. Even if we are vegetarian, we have to kill plants in order for us to live. And in order for anything to live, for anything to be born, there must be death as well.
Jesus said the same thing in the Bible. In the Book of John he said:
"Truly I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a seed. But if it dies, it bares much fruit." ―John 12:24
So, we want to know what fruit we could bare if we are performing the will of our Being. Perhaps you had an experience where you have done a good deed, a truly selfless deed, and maybe something just came over to you in that moment and you put aside whatever else you were doing or worrying about to truly help someone who needed help. The consequences of that action were far greater than the act itself. Some of us are fortunate to have had that person come back to us at some point and share with us what a difference we made in their lives, but sometimes we never find out. Maybe, that kind word or that kind deed, was the only thing helping that person to keep going or the break that that person finally needed to get to the next stage of their life. Or maybe it was the example of kindness that gave that person faith in humanity, that gave that person faith in their own goodness.
There are many jaded people in the world today, unfortunately, very cynical, who believe that it is naive to believe in goodness or in these virtues of the spirit. Those people were have been hurt enough times to know that trusting people can sometimes cause pain. But trust is actually a quality of strength, because after that period of naivety, after that period of cynicism, we come to realize that regardless of getting hurt, what we do is a reflection of who we are. If we truly want to reflect on our life and on ourselves with self-respect, with dignity, with the piece and serenity, they come saying: "Hey, maybe I didn't always did a great job, but I truly know that I strived every day of my life to do the best that I could, to do the will of my inner divinity, to do what my conscience called upon me to do.” That brings the type of serenity that no matter what anybody else says about us, no matter how we are judged or persecuted by the world, or whatever criticism our loved ones might say, we know that we are truly striving for the best that we believe we are capable of―truly trying to follow the guidance of our inner divinity, to manifest greatness of self.
We have to realize that all these saints and prophets, and great beings, like Jesus, Krishna, Muhammad, Moses, Buddha, all of them were once people just like us, whether in that lifetime or previous lifetimes. All of them had to fight. Of course, yes, it was partially the grace of divine will that all of us have access to the mercy of divine will, but also it was a result of their own super-efforts, their tremendous discipline to work on themselves and to strive for the best of what they knew they were capable of in their heart, in their conscience.
Samael Aun Weor also says that: "When one dies to the cosmos, one is born for the Absolute."
The cosmos is representation of this material world, the realm of Samsara in Buddhism, the realm of cause and effect, in which we are chained to the wheel of suffering. The Absolute represents the unmanifested reality, the perfect divinity, nirvana in Buddhism, the part of us that is deeply within us right now that we can realize, that even in this body we can have access to the Absolute, to nirvana, to the state that is free from suffering, because it is, because it knows, because it is perfection and love, and wisdom. But we have to die to this world to be born into that world.
And that is why Jesus also stated in the Book of Mathew:
"For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, and whoever will lose his life for my sake will find it." ―Matthew 16:25
Jesus is speaking there as a representation of the Christ, that is older divinity, that is universal. That is an energy and an intelligence that is beyond anyone person, but can manifest within us―you and me, if we work, if we eliminate our ego, if we die to what we feel right now is “my life and the things I want, the things that my personality and my culture, and my family says, I should do.” We give up those temporary pleasures, those temporary desires of this life, and we work to give up our life and dedicate our life and our daily actions and our words for the sake of our inner divinity.
We lose our life for the sake of God, our inner Spirit. Then we truly find our life, we find our soul, the potentials of reality that we can scarcely imagine in this moment. We begin to see another side of life, another side of ourselves that is much greater and what we currently experience. But if we desire merely to save our life, our property, our bank account, our prestige, our status, our success, then at the end of our life, when death comes, we will lose that and we will lose the opportunity we had to develop our soul as well.
That is why we have to work hard. This brings us back to that quote that I mentioned at the beginning: "Intimate self-realization costs. It has a price, life itself.” We have to work extremely hard on our mind. Each day we have to get better and better. Yes, we start where we are. We start with little actions, little changes, whatever we are capable of today. Then tomorrow we will be capable of a little more, but we have to be truly giving all that we can give in each moment, in each day―those moments when we are awake and catching ourselves, when we are tempted to choose, to not to give into temptation, but instead to pray in our heart: "God, guide me in this moment to do your will, to do the will of the best part of myself, my soul, my Spirit.” That is how we live, that is how we find our life. We give up our life in order to find eternal life, the life of our soul, our self-realization.
The Psychological Work
We see in this image Perseus holding the head of Medusa. Medusa, if you are nor familiar with the myth, was the Gorgon, a mythical beast, and anyone who looked at her and saw her eyes, would turn into stone, would die. They would be immobilized, unable to act ever again. Perseus is the hero who finally conquered Medusa. This is related with the problem we have been talking about, about giving up the ego. How do we overcome our ego? Well, we can use the example of Perseus here. Perseus, in order to kill Medusa, had two tools in particular. He had others, but in particular, there are two tools that he had in the myth.
One was the sword, the sword with which he was able to cut off her head. That sword is related with willpower. The sword is the symbol of our will, divine will, the power of the will of divinity. For if God wills something, it will be done. Nothing can stop our inner divinity. If we incarnate that will, we will be capable of much more than we are capable in our present egotistical form, because of that power of divinity. So, Perseus was demonstrating to us that it takes tremendous willpower, not tremendous desire. Desire is an obstacle we all face. We are replacing that desire with true willpower.
He also had a shield that was very reflective. He was able to use this shield like a mirror to see around the corner, to see Medusa without looking directly into her eyes. And thus, he was able to avoid being killed by her, being turned to stone, and he was able to use her reflection to see what she was, to observe her and to kill her with the sword of his willpower.
So, we know that we need willpower and we also know that we need reflection. That is the self-observation, self-reflection that we do. It is also meditation. We might be angry during the day. In that moment we see something in ourselves coming out. Or we might feel envy, and we feel that envy and we see somebody getting something good without us, and we feel really envious, and we say: "Oh, yeah. I see that. I wish I didn't feel envious, but I do.” So, we go home, and we use that shield, that meditative state, in which we are able to separate from our ego, to separate from ourselves and to reflect on it in a state of peace and serenity. We are able to observe that envy as though it were a separate person, as though its desires were not our desires, but were separate from us. In that state we can learn a lot about it. We can see for what it is. We can separate from it, and we can avoid being killed by it. We can avoid being turned to stone. That is how we can cut off its head with our own willpower.
Perhaps that sounds a little bit too abstract for some of us, but I promise at the end here―we are moving into the last section―I will give a practical example. But I want to wrap up with renunciation, because renunciation is truly the method that we use to die psychologically. Renunciation is truly the way that we kill our ego.
What does it mean to renounce something? It means to give something up. Sometimes this is something precious to us, and when we renounce it and we give it up, it can be painful. But sometimes, if we have meditated on something, like our envy, or our pride, or our lust, or our anger, our greed―we meditated on it and we have seen how ugly it is, how much it really causes us suffering―every time I act on it, it causes me to suffer, and causes others to suffer. Then we go to renounce it on the altar of our inner divinity. We are happy to be rid of it!
That is a state of comprehension, that is when you truly know from your own deep comprehension, from your own meditation, your own direct experience that that action, that that state, that quality of mind and emotion, brings harm, brings pain, brings suffering. And, so, you want to renounce it. You invoke your Divine Mother and you pray to Her to help you to destroy that part of yourself, that ego―to free your soul, your Essence, your consciousness from that egotistical desire, and to destroy the desire and regain that energy, that willpower into your soul.
Renunciation is the first of the Three Principle Paths in Buddhism, as taught by Tsong Khapa, the great Buddhist teacher. So, I am going to read you a little passage from the Three Principle Paths, which is a short scripture that Tsong Khapa wrote.
"Without pure renunciation, there is no way to end
This striving for pleasant results in the ocean of life.
It is because of their hankering life as well that beings
Are fettered, so seek renunciation first." ―Tsong Khapa, Three Principal Paths
So, what does it mean "the striving for pleasant results in the ocean of life"?
Life has many experiences and many possibilities. We are striving for many pleasant results. None of us wants to experience suffering. None of us wants to experience old age or illness, or death. We want to experience happiness, and pleasure, and joy, and feeling looked up to and respected. We want those pleasant results, and so each day we devote a large portion of our life to pursuing those pleasant results, to pursue more money. Maybe we work at the job that we really do not feel good about. Maybe we do not even like our job, but we work there because we want more money. That is a pleasant result we are seeking, the feeling of security we get from having a lot of money or the feeling pride from having a lot of money. So, we devote how much of our time and our energy and our efforts to pursuing that, to striving for that.
Without renouncing that desire or any number of that desires that we have, there is no way that we can end that striving for pleasant results. As long as we hold on to that desire and we say: "Yeah, yeah, yeah, I want my Spirit to develop. I want to be self-realized, but also I want to be wealthy and I want to have a yard, and a big house, and a lot of people respecting me, and I want to be famous."
Whatever it is for us, maybe it is not such materialistic things. Maybe there are other desires we have that we want to achieve in our life. As long as we hold on to those, we are killing the potential of our soul, at least to the degree that we are holding on to these desires. That is why he stated: "It is because of their hankering life”―hankering after all the things that we want in life―that beings are fettered, that we are being chained up, that we are bound here. We are not able to achieve our full potential, that we are not able to experience those higher possibilities of the soul and the Spirit, to see the rest of life. It is because of our striving after pleasant results that we are the caterpillar instead of the butterfly.
So, first we must seek renunciation. Without renouncing egotism, as it manifests in in our daily deeds, then we cannot begin on the path. We cannot achieve freedom and liberation from suffering. Tsong Khapa goes on to say:
"Leisure and fortune are hard to find, life is not long;
Think it constantly; stop desire for this life.
Think over and over how deeds and their fruits never fail,
And the cycle’s suffering: stop desire for the future.” ―Tsong Khapa, Three Principal Paths
So, he is talking exactly about we have been talking about. Death is inevitable, and we need to think about that constantly. In fact, in Buddhism there is a practice of meditating on one's death. Truly sitting and meditating on what it would be like if in this moment your body began to die, life began to fade from your organs, from your body, from your tissues and you began to be able to lose your last breath, and think about, perhaps, your funeral and the grieving relatives and all the things that you would leave behind. You realize that this is inevitable, that this actually will happen―maybe not in a way you have visualized in your meditation, but it will happen. How you are living your life reflects how you hope to feel at that moment of death―or other things before that moment change, because we do not know when it will come.
So, we have to think about how all the things that we invest our time into might be reaping fruit later on that we will only lose, because they are temporary. So that is how deeds and our fruits never fail. It is the teaching of karma. Whatever actions we take today, will have an effect even if we see in this lifetime. If we perform good deeds, we will see the fruits of those deeds someday.
He goes on to say:
“When you have meditated thus and feel not even
A moment’s wish for the good things of cyclic life,
(that is the cycle of Samsara, the cycle of suffering that keeps us bound here in this world)
And when you begin to think both night and day
Of achieving freedom, you have found renunciation.” ―Tsong Khapa, Three Principal Paths
So, we have to begin where we are at of course. We need to renounce what we can today and those things that we cannot renounce, we just need to observe them and study them more, until we learn about them and understand the true effects of what those are attaining for us.
I had some rare moments when I thought something was bad and then by observing it and meditating for a while, I actually found that it was producing good effects for others and for me, but I have been beating myself up about it, because of some beliefs that I had. At the same time there were things that I believed were good deeds that I was doing to help others and later came to find were not actually the case.
A Practical Example of Renunciation
So, here is where I deliver on my promise of giving you a practical example. Here at our level, how can we experience renunciation? How can we die psychologically? So, several years ago I was practicing self-observation during the day and retrospecting the entire day each night in meditation. I was assigned to a project to work on with two colleagues of mine. It was a group project and I was very excited about the topic that we working on, because it was a project that I actually had much previous experience in. So, I would see, I could feel that excitement in myself and that energy. I wanted to get work on this project. And when I sat down for the first meeting with my two colleagues and we talked about the topic of our project, I discovered that they were not so enthusiastic about it. They wished that they got assigned to different project and they didn't have the experience that I had in it. So, I thought: "Oh, well, if you guys aren't excited about it, I could really take on a lot of the work here. I have a lot of ideas about this. I have got a lot of experience in it. I am really excited about it. So, you can kick back and relax, and do not worry about it too much.” So here in this case I thought I was doing a good thing.
Now, time went on and we continued to have meetings and I felt something was off. I could intuitively feel in those meetings that there was some distance between me and the other two. And there was one meeting that I remember, where we sat together, and I was pitching some ideas to them and they were shooting down my ideas. Then they began to talk about their ideas, and I realized from their discussion that they have been meeting together separately from me and discussing their own ideas. I felt this pain in my heart in that moment and I felt hurt, and I felt that they didn't appreciate me and the good things that I was trying to do. I went home that night and I was meditating on my day and I took some extra time to focus on that experience and to think: "Why was I so hurt in that moment?" And to observe it: "What did I feel? What was the look from their faces? How were they feeling?" Just to replay it as best as I could.
Suddenly I had an experience, where I saw the situation in the other person. I was not trying to do it. It just happened. In a meditative state, I was seeing it as if though from another person's perspective, and I was replaying and seeing all the things that I was saying. And I realized that from the very beginning, I have come into this project, although I thought I was doing something good, there was actually a desire for my own ideas, my own pride in my ideas and my experience, and what I had to contribute and the success I wanted to see for myself in this project. I had not seen that, because of course I was inside of that desire. But when I saw this in meditation from the perspective of third person point of view, I actually saw that I was being quite arrogant and that I wasn't giving them the same appreciation of their ideas, that I have kind of written them off at the beginning, and gone off on what I wanted to do. So, was it any surprise to me that they have felt that they had to meet on their own and come up with their ideas on their own, and push back against me, when I had out of arrogance not even listened or valued their perspectives?
So, I felt very humble when I saw this. Although initially I felt hurt and angry at my two colleagues, after comprehending this in meditation, I actually felt embarrassed. I felt shame for the pride that I had shown and I had just honestly not seen it. But now that I saw it, I knew that I had to renounce it.
It was actually difficult for me despite having seen this and comprehended to a degree in meditation. It was difficult for me, but at the next meeting with them, I started off the meeting by apologizing, by admitting that I felt I hadn't really valued their opinions from the beginning, and that because I was so excited about the project, invested in my own ideas, I hadn't really listened to them enough. I apologized for that and said that I would like to work in a more collaborative fashion from now on. And for the rest of the project, what they will experience will be completely different.
I had to die in my pride. It was painful to renounce my pride. I was embarrassed of how I was, how I have been acting. I was also in those moments, when I had to apologize, still kind of feeling like: "Uh, I should not have to apologize to these people. They still did something wrong too!" So I had to renounce. I had to be humble. I had to give that up and die. I felt pain emotionally as I was dying.
But after I did that act, I reaped the benefits of what it was truly like to collaborate with others, what it was truly to like learn from them and share valuable ideas that I had, and to appreciate them and to see the way then. They came to the way to appreciate me as well. I had no regrets about having renounced my pride. So, as I was fortunate in that situation to see something in myself that I had not seen before, to see my life from the perspective of others―my actions from the perspective of others, and to let my pride in that moment die, to take the action that I felt the guidance of my conscience leading me to take, which was to apologize and to humble myself.
Additionally, I will add that not long after that I was hired for a new job and I went in to that job with a lot more humility. I listened to my colleagues and I valued their ideas and I supported their ideas, and I didn't just go into every meeting boasting about how great my ideas were and trying to get everybody to listen to me about how great I was, because from that experience I had truly learned something that had changed me on a deep enough level, that I would never go back and want to act the way that I had behaved before.
So that is a very practical example. I picked a very little example, but as small as that example is, and as insignificant as may seem, it had effects in my life. There have been bigger effects, bigger examples in my life that are a bit too personal to share, but each of us in our own way (whether big or small) can be analyzing our life like this, can be praying to our divinity to overcome our defects and sometimes, to lay the desire that we cling so tightly to on the altar of divinity, and to sacrifice that for our inner Spirit, can be painful. But the gifts are bestowed upon us―the potentials, the capabilities, the wisdom, the virtue, and the love that is bestowed upon us in degrees as a result of that action, are much much more valuable than anything we have lost in the process of sacrificing and renouncing.
So, I conclude the lecture with one more quote, which I feel truly summarizes everything that we have talked about today in a very practical way. This quote comes from Dion Fortune:
“The personality and the things of the senses have to be sacrificed in order that the Higher Self may manifest; there can be no dispute on this point. All the Initiates have declared it to be so." ―Dion Fortune, The Training and Work of an Initiate
She is talking about all the great spiritual teachers, the initiates, have taught―that when you sacrifice the things of our physical senses, our personality, our egotism, in order that our higher self, our Spirit, our highest potential, can manifest.
She goes on to state:
“We are inclined to think that, having sacrificed the personality, we shall be bereft of all things. This is because the mind of the West still clings to its habit of believing that the death of the body ends existence. So we believe sub-consciously that the death of personality ends enjoyment of the fullness of life." ―Dion Fortune, The Training and Work of an Initiate
Here she is talking about how whether or not believe that there is life after death, we actually live as though we feel that survival in this world is all there is. Our actions demonstrate where faith truly lies.
We might state that: "Oh, yeah, it is good to be generous and to donate money,” but at the same time, another part of us truly takes actions to gather more money, because our faith is in the security of the world, the security of money, the security of material possession and status as well. So we believe that the death of our personality would end our enjoyment of the fullness of life, but we do not realize that our ego actually restricts our experience of the rest of existence―all of those states of consciousness that are beyond our current state of consciousness. As long as we remain trapped in ego, trapped in that cocoon, we will never achieve those higher states, the greater potentials that we are capable of. We never will become a butterfly, who can fly into the realms of the heavens and truly meet divinity face to face.
And finally, she concludes:
"We forget that the merchant who sold all he had was able to purchase the Great Pearl. True, he had realized all his assets, but they were re-invested in something of far greater value. The Gospel story implies that he bore off the Pearl in triumph. So it is with us if we make the sacrifice of the things of the senses that permits of the incarnation of the Higher Self in the physical body." ―Dion Fortune, The Training and Work of an Initiate
So we sacrifice the things of this lifetime that we want and we desire egotistically "Just for me, just because I want it,” in order for our divinity to manifest in our physical body and to perform good deeds and great teachings for the benefit of humanity. Just in case you are not familiar with the parable of the Great Pearl that she references here, it is in the Gospel of Mathew that Jesus taught:
“Kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, who when he found one of great value, went away and sold everything he had, and bought it." ―Matthew 13:45-46
The Pearl of great value that Jesus is referring to here is our soul, is our spiritual life. It is of such great value that it is worth selling everything that we own. And that is why Dion Fortune mentions that "the merchant bore off the Pearl in triumph.” He did not sit around crying about all the things that he had to give up and renounce for the spiritual work. He went off so happy, because he truly knew and experienced the benefits for spiritual life, for his soul, the benefits that we was able to perform good works for others, for those he cared about, for the world, which is experiencing so much suffering.
This is a transcription of an audio lecture from Introduction to Gnostic Studies, originally given live at the Gnostic Academy of Chicago.
So welcome everybody to our introductory course on the studies of spirituality within all traditions.
In this type of study we emphasize that the human being, as he or she is now, has the potential to become something more, something greater, and profound. Contrary to conventional belief, that the human being as we are now is the epitome or the peak of potential, we state that this is a false assumption.
Every tradition in the world has taught or been delivered by all the messengers of divinity, no matter what the tradition. We study in this school all of the teachings of these different faiths, primarily because we want to look at the heart, the essence of spirituality, because it is universal. It is one intelligence; one type of understanding that expresses in accordance with the needs, the language, the culture, the qualities of the students, the time and place in which those teachings were given.
But if you really look at the heart of what yoga teaches, Buddhism teaches, Judeo-Christianity or whatever faith, we find that at the heart, there is a science by which one can achieve what people call religion. The word religion in Latin means “reunion,” religare. In the East, it is yoga, from the Sanskrit yug, “to reunite.” And all these traditions have taught that the human being is a seed, has potential to become something truly divine and magnanimous, beautiful.
Different religions called this seed consciousness. The Buddhists call it Buddhadhatu, the seed of a Buddha, an awakened one, a master.
The Christians and Muslims and Jews have called it soul, and there are many names for that quality of being in those faiths. In this study, we call it the Essence. It is the pure potential to reflect divinity, and this is something that we can experience for ourselves when we know the science of meditation and when we practice it.
We can develop that potential in ourselves and have the experience of what different traditions have called divinity. That knowledge amongst the Greeks was called gnosis, but not intellectual knowledge. A lot of people in the West, especially in academies, like to think that gnosis was isolated to the first Christians, but that experiential wisdom of knowing divinity has nothing to do with theory, with believing, with a concept. It is what we know by experiencing the awakening of our Essence.
They are very vivid experiences which have been allegorized in all the scriptures. You have Moses on Mount Sinai, you have Krishna, like in this image, manifesting all of his qualities to the meditator, known as Arjuna in the Bhagavad-Gita. You have many faiths, many stories. The Greek mysteries, the Buddhist teachings, they are all symbols of internal truths. It is not literally that Moses went on a physical mountain and saw God, that it was a physical experience. It is a spiritual and psychological experience, something we witness in meditation, inside.
We can verify these things for ourselves through experimentation, through practice and therefore we don't need to believe in anything, to follow an institution, a religion, a dogma, a belief system. We like to be very practical in this type of studies.
But of course, it is a very difficult thing to do. It is not easy to experience divinity, to conquer in ourselves the causes of suffering, to understand that which in our own life really conditions and makes us suffer, because there is a reason why we may not know God now or divinity or Brahma, Christ amongst the original Christians, which is not a person. It is a type of consciousness that is universal, which different traditions call by different names and have been symbolized by all the beautiful paintings of any tradition.
These are not literal people. These are qualities of being, and in this image we see the Lord Krishna who is the Hindu Christ, that divine consciousness that is not personal to just one individual, but is universal to all beings. We see that he is a child seated with one hand facing up, the other down, and he is surrounded by millions of figures. This is a beautiful painting about the experience of the meditator Arjuna who asked Krishna, “I want to see You in Your true form. Show me in my consciousness, in my meditations, what You are.” And then Krishna, or divinity, manifested in a form of images―not physical images, but images we can see in meditation or in dreams.
This is very beautiful experience that was depicted in this scripture. And you see that all these multitudes of figures represent all the universal qualities of divinity, which are inside: compassion, divine love, selflessness, patience, compassion. But to really develop these qualities in us is not easy. If it were easy, then all of humanity will be a very different state of being. This planet would be a very different place.
So this indicates to us that these qualities are not developed in a permanent sense, are not realized in our own daily life, and so in these studies we like to be very practical. We like to analyze certain methods of meditation that teach us how to have that experience, and how to develop and maintain that state. I am sure any one of us who studies any type of meditation or is attracted to religion or any type of faith, they really deep down want to have that experience. They want to escape suffering.
This difficult path of meditation has been discussed in all religions. It is not easy to confront in oneself negative states like anger, resentment, pride, fear, laziness, lust, desire. All traditions teach that it is these negative qualities of mind that trap us. They enclose our potential in a static state. It is not active because in us, that potential is not active or developed. It has to be freed. It has to be worked upon very intentionally.
So in the beginning some people practice meditation and they may have an experience seemingly by accident, but the reality is that there are certain causes and conditions that brought about that state. One may not be aware of how and why. Some people call this spiritual awakening, insight. It happens. But if we want to be permanently established in that state, it is important to put forth the causes and the conditions that produce that reality in a permanent way.
So this is called self-realization amongst the Hindus, the realization of our true identity, which is divine. It is the awakening of consciousness. But of course, developing that is challenging, primarily because of the difficulty of our own conditions of mind, which is why in the Bhagavad-Gita, chapter 7, verse 3 state:
"Among thousands of men (or women, practitioners) one perchance strives for perfection (to realize that perfect divinity inside. As Jesus of Nazareth stated, "Be perfect as your Father who is in heaven is perfect.") Even among those successful strivers (those who are really working to experience that truth) only one perchance knows me in essence."
So again, these are levels of consciousness. I believe even the 14th Dalai Lama stated that consciousness has the potential to expand to an infinite degree―so other levels of knowledge, levels of understanding.
This tradition or this statement has been paralleled in the Christian Gospel by Jesus, who was an incarnation of Christ. He manifested that divinity in himself, and with his life was allegorizing certain steps and stages about the spiritual path.
He also said, "Enter by the narrow gate." Enter into the meditative path that awakens your full potential, your seed, your Essence of soul. "For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter it by are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to spiritual life, and those who find it are few." ―Matthew 7:13
Think of an analogy of a tree. A pine tree has thousands and thousands of seeds. How many of them actually become a full tree when they land on the Earth? You may have a handful, or one or two. A few. So spiritual development is no different than nature. Things happen progressively in steps, when the causes and conditions are ripe. In order for a seed to develop into a pine tree, it needs water. It needs appropriate soil. It needs sunlight. It needs the conditions that give birth to that full development of a tree.
But of course, many seeds are lost, and this is the sad reality. Our true potential is not a guarantee, that it will develop into something fully perfect and divine.
And this is very evident by the state of humanity today. We can look at the news and simply see the state of crisis in which people are afflicted: wars, violence, acts of destruction, which are truly horrendous. It is evident by the state of our culture and this planet that people are not developing the seed of their spirituality. It is a difficult fact to realize. It is very unpleasant. If that seed were fully manifested and developed, there would be no wars, because divinity is compassion. It is love. So it's evident that this seed of humanity is not generating into a tree. It is degenerating. It is not being developed. And so any person who looks at the news and feels that horror of what this planet is in, evidently feels inspired to want to know the reason why, and as well to escape that type of destruction, which is very prevalent.
And so how do we develop that seed? There are beautiful stories and many scriptures that can teach us about that development. The Bible is one of them, which is a very misunderstood text, read very literally, dogmatically. People don't understand that scriptures like the Bible are telling parables through stories. They represent principles and truths which are psychological, spiritual. We have a very famous statement in the Book of Matthew, chapter 13, verses 31 to 32 about the development of that perfect seed, how the seed of the human being can become a god, an angel, a buddha, a deva, a jinn―whatever name we want to give to that fully self-realized and perfected individual.
“Another parable put he forth unto them saying, the kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field: Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge and the branches thereof." ―Matthew 13:31-32
Individuals like Jesus or Krishna, Moses, were once like us, a seed. But because of certain discipline of mind and training, they became the individuals that we emulate, in which millions of people follow, who are inspired. We like to think in this culture or even for thousands of years that those were just exceptional people. It had nothing to do with people like us, that somehow they receive the grace of God and were able to have those experiences, which is true to a degree. But the reality is that they worked to become them.
They were once like us, people afflicted by fear and distress and anxiety and suffering. But because of their tremendous compassion and their work ethic, they were able to become enlightened beings. And like a tree, they can house through their teachings and their instructions, all of the birds of heaven, all the saints, all the students of meditation who really want to become like that.
You have many myths and stories throughout the world that teach and allegorize, whether in art or religious scriptures, stories that all teach the same thing: that we are a seed. We could become like divinity into a fully developed Christmas tree. If you are familiar with the Christmas tradition or the Christian tradition, people like to decorate a pine tree with many stars and globes and luminous objects and a star the very top. It s a very ancient symbol of this concept. The soul became a fully developed master of meditation and has lights illuminating that tree. It is a symbol of what we can become, as performed on the Nativity of Christ, the birth of Jesus, who symbolizes the birth of divinity in our hearts through practice and specific methods.
There is a very ancient teaching in the Aztec and Mayan religions that also point towards this concept. Samael Aun Weor who is the founder of the modern Gnostic tradition of which we study, wrote in a book called The Great Rebellion:
“One codex of Anahuac states that, ‘The Gods created humans of wood, and after having created them, fused them with divinity.’ But later adds, ‘Not all humans achieve integration with divinity.’” ―Samael Aun Weor, The Great Rebellion
So what does it mean that the gods made people made of wood? A very interesting concept which anthropologists like to laugh at and read literally, thinking these are very superficial people or ignorant people who believe that, literally, people were made of wood by the gods.
Unfortunately, that materialistic view point misses the point. There is something symbolic here.
Even in art, amongst the Greco-Roman tradition, Renaissance art, European art, they reflected these concepts in their images. But people who are very materialistic like the thing that God is a person, physical. They don't understand that it is a representation of something spiritual and conscious, psychological. This is the creation of Adam in the Sistine Chapel: a beautiful symbol of the development of or creation of the soul.
Some of you may be familiar with a story called Pinocchio, which also hides this truth. It was written by Carlo Collodi, who was an Italian author, and wrote about the story of a wooden boy that wanted to become a human being. It is a symbol. His writing was intentionally veiled in the form of a children's tale so as to avoid persecution. He was writing for a very select group of people who are studying this type of knowledge that was at the time forbidden to unveil or convey, primarily because people would not understand it and would create problems, because this type of thinking goes against the grain of institutionalized dogma. We can only think of the inquisition as an example.
So “Pinocchio, Pinoccoli or Pinocchio is the Tuscan Florentine word for pine nut or pine seed.” It is a symbol of us. We are a seed in a potential state that may want or feel inspired to become a fully developed human being, a person of flesh and bone, a fully developed being, a spiritually enlightened one.
The Three Esoteric Sciences
There is a lot of teachings in that story which are very beautiful and profound, symbolic. And if we read it from the knowledge of three types of science, we can gain a lot of understanding.
Those three sciences are known in different cultures and traditions, which we study in synthesis here. The word esoteric means “secret, hidden,” that which has not been taught publicly. These esoteric sciences, while some aspects of these traditions have been conveyed to the public, they were never fully explained until very recently, through the effort of many authors throughout different traditions, such as the Western Esoteric Tradition: the Golden Dawn, Rosicrucianism, Theosophy of Blavatsky, Rudolf Steiner's writings, from Anthroposophy, and many other teachings.
We study these three sciences called Kabbalah, alchemy and psychology, in order to develop our full potential. Kabbalah, alchemy, in the Book of Genesis, in the Old Testament, are called the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. These are symbols, practical methods and ways of study that can awaken the seed and develop it. These are not literal trees in the Middle East, that people think a single man and a single woman existed in a garden in Mesopotamia many millennia ago. That is a very literal teaching or interpretation.
What people don't recognize is that these sciences permeate all of the language of the Bible, but because people have not been instructed about the symbolic nature of those types of teachings, they of course read it like a newspaper. They don't really see the real value and depth of that instruction.
קַבָּלָה Kabbalah is the Tree of Life. These Hebrew letters read from right to left. The word קבל kabel in Hebrew means “to receive.” You may have heard many Jews study Kabbalah in this time. Real Kabbalah, in its spiritual sense, is knowledge that we receive from divinity, from direct experience. We can study Kabbalah intellectually and read books, but it doesn't equate with the actual personal verification of meditation for ourselves.
Kabbalah is a beautiful teaching that is symbolic and helps us understand all the parables and stories of the Bible, because the Hebrew letters themselves represent numbers, which are spiritual. They represent things, qualities of consciousness, and these letters also represent qualities of soul, which we study very didactically in our courses of Kabbalah, which we have on our website chicagognosis.org, or you can study also on gnosticteachings.org.
We also have the science of alchemy, or the Arabic الكيمياء: Allah-Khemia. The word Al or El in Hebrew is God. Khemia is a Greek term meaning chemistry: to fuse or cast a metal. Many people have heard of alchemy as being a medieval superstition of people literally trying to transform lead into gold, out of greed, and there are people who were like that, who misinterpreted this tradition to think that they could actually accomplish this feat. But the real depth and knowledge, the spiritual symbol of alchemy, is transforming the lead of the personality, our own negative states of mind into the gold of the Spirit. It is also the work with energy, working with all the energies we have in our body, in our heart, in our mind, so that we can fuse like a metal with divinity.
And then lastly we have psychology. This is the Greek (ψυχολογία psychologia) read from left to right. Psychology in these times is divorced from spirituality. People think psychology is simply the study of the mind, the brain. If you look at the original etymology, psychology is actually something very dynamic.
It comes from psyche, logos. Psyche is soul. It is consciousness. It is the essence of a person. It is not just the intellect, because truly in our depth, we are more than just a mind. We have a heart. We have a body. The consciousness is not just thinking. It is the ability to perceive, even beyond thought. So psyche and logos or logos, in its original term, means “word.” You may be familiar with the Book of John: "In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God, and the Word was God." The Greek word is logos. “In the beginning was the Logos, the Logos was with God, and the Logos was God.” These are symbols or qualities of being.
So what is genuine psychology and it's real root? It is how the soul, psyche, through meditation, unites with logos. Very simple. It also has to do with studying the obstacles in our own mind that create conflict for us.
We develop the seed of our potential through these sciences, and we will explain about these three in synthesis today.
The Sexual Seed: The Synthesis of Spiritual Creation
So the word seed has a very interesting connotation. A seed is the sexual synthesis of any being, whether from plants, from animals, from human beings. That seed of a person, of a soul, can be developed, very intentionally, when we learn how to work with all the energies that we carry within―not just our heart or mind, but even our creative potential.
That seed, which is sexual, our creative sexual potential, can give birth to a human being. We know this. The seed of a man and a seed of woman can unite to create a child, but people do not know that that very same seed, that energy or power that can create a human being, can create the soul, can fully empower it, because it is the power of life.
It is the most powerful creative power a human being possesses. It is how all societies are run. People are born through the seed. They have life. And just as physically we can have life with this body, the generation of our physical temple, we can also learn to transform the sexual seed through specific practices, transform that seed into energy, because creative sexuality is a tremendous power and a powerful responsibility. It is a tremendous responsibility to give birth to a child. It is very serious. But even more so, to give birth to a child within us, our full spiritual development, is even a greater responsibility. It has more power.
We can do that by learning to work with our energies. Some people may be familiar with Buddhism, of tantra, spiritual union, sexual union of husband and wife, working to connect from a state of purity of mind in order to transform everything that they have into developing their spirituality. This is why all traditions and all religions have really fought and explain that marital union, the love between husband and wife―not in a legal sense or in terms of paperwork, but from a conscious standpoint―has tremendous power, tremendous responsibility. The Bible relates some of these teachings in a very symbolic way, which people have interpreted, again, literally, but we'll explain some of the alchemical significance of these lines.
"Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made..." ―Galatians 3:16
If you are familiar with the Old Testament, Abraham is one of the patriarchs of Judaism, the founding fathers. His people, the Jews, were promised by divinity that they would receive help. This is the fundamental, literal meaning. But if you look at this in a symbolic way, there is something more interesting.
"He saith not, And to seeds, as of many." ― Galatians 3:16
Meaning: individual people, because every person is a seed. When they are child, they grow and become a human being.
"But as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ." ―Galatians 3:16
So what is that seed that is mentioned in the Book of Galatians? We could look at this image of a elderly man with a sun emanating from his genitalia, a book in his hand, a staff of power in his left. This is from the medieval tradition of alchemy. So many alchemists, who knew the science of uniting with divinity, taught their truths through art. They didn't explain this explicitly, because they would face many problems and persecutions, many scandals.
So they taught through art, and this is a very beautiful image representing an elderly man who is a symbol of our own inner divinity, the figure Jehovah amongst the Jews. He holds a book in his hand, referring to study, the need to study oneself, one's life. He also has a staff in his hand, representing a weapon, a type of will that is needed in order to achieve genuine religion. We have a sun emanating from his sexual organs because, just as the ancient people knew that the sun gives life to all things, they made the connection and knew that our own sexual seed is the power of generation.
The sun generates all life in every level. We could not exist on this planet without light, and so the ancients knew that this seed is a type of solar force. It is a solar energy. It is a power that can give life. And even Plato and many Greek masters knew that the ultimate divinity is the sun, the Platonic Logos. Or like Jesus, and the great paintings has a halo of light around his head, because he has used his own seed to transform that, and to develop the light of the saints. He is a Christmas tree with light, with spirituality.
There is a statement by Samael Aun Weor in the book The Great Rebellion. He states that:
“The Sun has deposited the seeds within the sexual glands of the intellectual animal in order to germinate a Human Being.” ―Samael Aun Weor, The Great Rebellion
Some people get offended when they hear this term. But if you look at the story of Pinocchio, he was a wooden boy. He wanted to become a real, fully developed human being made into the image of divinity. And what is an animal? It comes from the Latin anima; to animate, to have life. If we look at humanity, we find that all the violence and wars and bloodshed and poverty and affliction is not the result of our own humanity, but that which is animal in us: anger, violence, prostitution, hatred, lust, envy. These are qualities that are animalistic, instinctive, and we all possess those elements.
But unfortunately, it is a very difficult thing to see how our own states of mind are the cause of our suffering. These are animal qualities. And because we have the intellect, we can rationalize. We are anima, souls, with intellect. But an intellectual animal is any one of us who has the seed and who can develop into a perfectly enlightened being, like in this image.
And what is a real human being? You can look at the Sanskrit: hum-man. Hum means “spirit.” Man or manas means “mind.” It is a mind that is united with hum, the spirit. And what is that Spirit? Like in the previous image, we saw Jehovah pointing his finger towards Adam, creating the soul, a symbol of creating the perfect being, not a literal history. That represents how the spiritual force of divinity is fully perfected in manifested in us. That is a real human being, hum-man, like Jesus, Buddha, Krishna. They fully manifested all the qualities of the Spirit in a perfect way. That is a real human being.
But when we are criticized and we respond with anger and say very negative things, it indicates to us that we have much from the animal kingdom inside. Science and popular culture likes to defend that which is animal. You see it in our television, in our movies, in our cinemas, in our sports, in our fighting for power, in our politics, in our religions. These are animal qualities: competition, fighting, debating, arguing, inflicting harm.
But a human being is beyond that. Has transformed the seed into something perfected and we can do that by working with our energies through the science of alchemy.
“Obviously, such seeds can develop or be ultimately lost.” ―Samael Aun Weor, The Great Rebellion
Going back to the quote of Jesus and the Book of Matthew or the gospel of Krishna.
“If we want those seeds to develop, it is essential to cooperate with the efforts that the Sun is making in order to create Humans.” ―Samael Aun Weor, The Great Rebellion
We have other images in this graphic, a lion beneath the genitalia of this elderly figure. You may be familiar with the Christian tradition of the Lion of Judah. It is a symbol of the strength and power divinity. You have also figures below who are fighting, grappling each other with swords and weapons, doing acrobatic acts, playing games. That represents all of humanity, people who don't really take spirituality seriously, their conscious life seriously, because they choose to engage in frivolities and wars.
So what is the way to escape the circus of humanity, the chaos? It is by studying ourselves like in this open book, and using our staff, which is a symbol of willpower, of daily effort.
The Seed of the Second Birth
Since we are explaining about the seed of generation, we find a very beautiful teaching in the story of Jesus talking to Nicodemus. It is very common knowledge amongst Christians, or the belief that one is born again through belief. This is from the old scriptures of the Gospels, a very famous teaching that is not very well understood.
“Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” ―John 3:5
People commonly interpret this as baptism, a ceremony or ritual in the church that one has received the water of spirituality and is blessed and then is saved.
Unfortunately, this type of thinking does not really address the practical problems of our sufferings. We may believe in divinity, in an institution or a church. We may be inspired by our groups. This is all necessary and beautiful, but belief does not change suffering. We continue to suffer whether we think something is true or not. The way that one overcomes suffering is through action, through work. But in a more deeper level, this scripture hides something very interesting that relates to alchemy, spiritual birth, the birth of the soul.
That which is born of the flesh is flesh. Obviously people do not need to be taught how to generate a physical child. But that which is born of the Spirit is Spirit. Through the matrimony or union of man and woman, one can give birth to a physical child, but that which is born of the Spirit through the same union, can give birth to the Spirit.
But of course, there are very specific procedures involved. When the couple works in their marriage or their union―and when I mean marriage, I don't mean papers, but a real marital union is the union of two souls that love one another perfectly, that are selfless and working on themselves, fully investing all their energy and love and potential, not only for their own benefit, but for the benefit of others. So that which is born of the Spirit is Spirit.
Birth is a sexual problem. In order to give birth physically we need male-female. But Jesus was indicating symbolically how through the same connection, but done with purity and with specific methods, one can give birth to the soul, the Spirit. And this is symbolized in some of the Kabbalistic meaning, the language of this scripture, which if you see these letters:
“Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born (ה) of water (מ) and of the Spirit (ש), he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” ―John 3:5
This is Hebrew. We can look at the meaning of these individual letters, transpose over certain aspects of his explanation. This letter is called ה Hei. It is related to birth. It is even shaped like a womb. The letter ה Hei refers to birth, genesis, the divine feminine. The next letter is water relating to מ Mem, and מ Mem has two forms. There is an open Mem (מ) and there is a closed Mem (ם). Sometimes in Hebrew, when a letter is at the end of a word or name, it takes on a different configuration, but it is the same letter, the same meaning. Now water is מ Mem. You have very famous references in the Bible to water: the water of life, the fountain of youth, the waters of Genesis, how the world was made and life came from the waters.
Again, the book of Genesis is not literal, a literal history, but refers to the birth of the soul. Those waters are our own sexual fluids, the creative waters of life, which, when they are conserved and transformed, can generate a lot of power, to give strength to our spirituality and make us truly warriors, those who really work out of compassion for others and generate all the beautiful qualities of the soul.
So “except a man” or person “be born of water and Spirit,” and the word Spirit relates to this letter called ש Shin. ש Shin has three prongs and refers to fire, but not a literal fire. It's a spiritual force, a power. Remember that Moses saw the burning bush, that Tree of Life, the Being, the divine, our true nature, inflamed with fire and light. Or Krishna with all those figures and light emanating from him. It's fire. It is a type of energy. It is not a literal fire in the kitchen. It is a fire that gives birth and light and understanding to our life.
That fire is contained within our own waters, because obviously, when a couple engages sexually, they are inflamed. The organs are inflamed. There is energy circulating, and the Buddhists call this tantra. Tantra is Sanskrit for circuitry. This is the circuitry of God. That fire can be conserved and circulated throughout the body and the mind to give youth. That energy which can create a child can rejuvenate the body and the soul, create harmony in every level. So if one is not born of water and the Spirit, one cannot enter the kingdom of God. This is the meaning of “to be born again.” It is a pure marriage or union. And again, marriage has nothing to do with paperwork. It has to do with love.
So you look at these Hebrew letters and the science of Kabbalah teaches this very beautifully. These letters can be reorganized in different ways in order to spell different meanings. You use these three letters to spell השם Hashem, which in Judaism they say ברוך השם אדוני Baruch Hashem Adonai meaning: “Blessed be the Name of the Lord.” השם Hashem is a reference to the highest identity amongst the Kabbalists. You also take those letters and switch them around you spell משה Moshe, Moses.
Moses is a figure in the Bible or was a real person, but can represent something psychological, spiritual. He frees the Jews from this bondage in Egypt, which are psychological parables that teach about freeing the soul from the bondage of suffering and returning all of the parts of our soul to the Promised Land.
So all this is very interconnected and very interesting, and there are many connections we can draw between this tradition and many others. I am just providing a very general example that highlights that this is a very intricate and beautiful teaching. Very dynamic, but very simple in synthesis.
Spiritual Birth is Not a Theory or Belief
And as I stated, birth is a sexual problem. It is born from the Genesis of two human beings, male-female. And Samael Aun Weor wrote in The Perfect Matrimony:
“A seed never germinates because of what a person believes or stops believing. An insect is never born because of what a human being thinks or stops thinking. A man is never born from the parchment of theory. This subject matter is sexual and in this, the angel is no exception.” ―Samael Aun Weor, The Perfect Matrimony
“Unless be you be born again of water and Spirit, you cannot enter the kingdom of God."
So this is the highest level teaching given in Buddhism, in Christianity, in Sufism. The mystics of Islam talk a lot about the love of the soul with divinity, but unfortunately people like to extrapolate, and they don't see the connection that we show the highest love of divinity in one's relationship, which is sexual. We show our love not only just with words, but with connection, because that is how the circuitry of God exists, how the energy flow between male-female.
Liberation within Sex
So this is an image of Padmasambhava from the Buddhist tradition, who is showing the highest teachings of yoga tantra, where literally yoga is “union, reunion.” There is no greater power or reunion with divinity than in the sexual act, because men and women can create a child. They can create life.
This is Padmasambhava with his consort, his wife, and he explained that in order to enter the highest teaching, individuals must be prepared through a lot of work in meditation on themselves, because the obvious difficulty of sexual connection is having that energy buildup and losing it. So the foundation of all traditions of meditation always taught chastity. Of course, this is a very misunderstood science today. People think of chastity simply meaning abstention from sex. But chastity has to do with purity. It means immaculate purity. So by conserving that power, one can transform it, raise it through the body, the different centers of energy in ourselves, in our mind, our psyche. And this is how spiritual birth occurs, by working with that energy.
“Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remains in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” ―1 John 3:9
So the essential component is that the seed remains inside. That energy is never let out, whether it is to procreate a child or for simple animal pleasure. So it is a very specific procedure. That seed is never lost. Instead, it is transformed into energy through certain exercises and prayers. It is done with a tremendous sense of respect and love and purity and honor.
Mind and Perception
Lastly we will talk a little bit about psychology. So we mentioned a little bit about Kabbalah, the Hebrew letters. We also talked about the science of alchemy: fusing oneself with divinity, working with our most vital principles.
In these times, there is a predisposition to believe that we are the intellect. We are the mind. Because we think, we rationalize, we conceptualize. But we emphasized that the mind is not our genuine identity. It is not really the full essence of what we are, because we have perception even before thought. But in these times, people tend to identify very much with intellect, with thinking, with concepts and rationalization, because in the West, especially, that is the foundation of our culture. We are very intellectual people.
We do use the intellect for our spiritual studies and we need it. We need it to exist in this society, but it is not the sum total of what an individual is. Consciousness is very different from mind. Consciousness is the ability to perceive, to know, to understand. And we can understand things without having to think.
This is very evident by certain experiences of businessmen who go to meetings, as an example, and they think and they think, they think, trying to argue out a problem, to solve a solution. But many of them become tired and they can't figure out what they need to do for a certain proposal. They take a break for five minutes and don't think of anything, and suddenly, they may get an understanding. People come back to the meeting rejuvenated, energized. This is a concrete example that can reflect something in our spiritual life.
Understanding doesn't have to be intellectual, a concept, a way of thinking. The mind is not the sum total of what we are. If we put our hand on a hot stove, we burn our hand. We retract in pain, and only later do we have the thought, “That really hurt!” Instead, we had consciousness of the experience and we reacted. We understood the problem where we got injured. And then we thought later about, “Well, I shouldn't do that again.” This actually shows us that the intellect is the slowest aspect of a person. It's not the quickest. It is actually not the most divine either. It is actually not divine at all. It is just a machine. An intellect can have understanding of concepts. It stores information and then it gives back. We can learn to use the mind in a spiritual way, in a conscious way, in an intuitive way. But the intellect has also been used to feed qualities like anger and resentment. Anger has its own logic fear, its own logic, ways of thinking.
And so these qualities of mind, again, are animalistic, which is allegorized in the story of Jesus riding on a donkey into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. He is representing, or what it is representing in that act, how our own inner divinity must conquer the mind and this is what we attempt and practice in our meditations. Don't think so much. Don't worry so much. Don't daydream. Don't fantasize, but just simply be aware and attentive.
As we begin our practices of meditation today, we were just doing relaxation: a very basic practice in which we just become aware of our body, because most times we go through our day unaware of even our breathing, or circulation. You may have found that when you are starting to concentrate on certain parts of the body, you may start to daydream or think about other things. It means that the mind is not in control, that the mind is riding us instead of we, ourselves, riding the donkey, because the mind is like a donkey. It is an animal. It can be tamed or it can be wild.
Anyone who begins to practice meditation realizes that the mind is very chaotic. It could be a very disconcerting realization to make, but it is not a means or a reason to stop practicing. It is just that we are learning about what our state of mind is. We are just not cognizant of that fact on a daily basis because we tend to be very unconscious, in a spiritual sense. We don't really are aware of the full totality of our life.
So there is a concept of, “I think therefore I am.” This is from the famous French philosopher Descartes. So anyone of us who study philosophy at universities really takes a lot of time to emphasize that “I think therefore I am,” that the intellect is somehow our true identity. But according to Samael Aun Weor in his book Igneous Rose, he mentions that:
“The concept of Descartes,“I think, therefore I am,” is completely false, because the true Man is the Innermost, and the Innermost does not think, because He knows.” ―Samael Aun Weor, Igneous Rose
Our divinity sees and observes and understands all things. It is a state of consciousness.
“The mind thinks, not the Innermost (our innermost true self).
“In its current state of evolution, the human mind is the animal that we carry within.” ―Samael Aun Weor, Igneous Rose
So we can look at our own lives to see examples of this where the mind is animalistic. We can even look on the news. Again, people committing acts of violence which are really cruel, inhumane, we say, demonic.
“The Innermost does not need to think because He is omniscient.” ―Samael Aun Weor, Igneous Rose
He sees and understands all things.
We also have a quote from the Book of John:
“I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” ―John 14:6
Of course, people think that one has to believe in Jesus and that one is saved, because he is the way, the truth, and the life, but symbolically, Christ, divinity, was speaking through him, saying that only through your own inner divinity can you reach your inner true development, your potential. “No man cometh unto the Father,” which is a symbol of our own inner divinity, the Innermost, we can say, “but by me.”
Christ is an energy. Christ is the seed, a force, which can birth to our soul. So as we are talking about alchemy, we give birth to the soul through that energy when we learn to work with it.
The Story of Pinocchio
And lastly will conclude with a teaching from the story of Pinocchio, to kind of circle back. There is a very famous part of the story in which Pinocchio is going to school and the Blue Fairy, a symbol of the divine feminine, is teaching him, telling him go to school and learn. It is a symbol of how we go to a certain school or group or meditative school and learn this type of knowledge: how to transform ourselves.
That Blue Fairy, the divine feminine, has been called many names in different traditions, symbolized by Mother Mary, Athena amongst the Greeks, Kali, Durga amongst the Hindus, a symbol of our own creative forces that is feminine, inside, and which can help any meditator achieve genuine religion.
Pinocchio is going to school, and then he is confronted by a friend who says “Why go to school? Join me come to the Land of Play where we can play all day and never work.” And Pinocchio is tempted. He goes and eventually goes to this place, where eventually he is transformed into a donkey.
Of course, later, I believe, even in the film by Disney, which does a very good job of depicting this, in the book he gets out of that state eventually. He has to do a lot of work to reverse that, but it is a symbol of how in life, we come to any kind of school of meditation that teaches us how to change, and yet we then get distracted. Our friends say, “Come out to the bar and drink with me!” or “Come see this movie!” or “Let's go to the Land of Play” in a figurative sense: television or whatever distracts us from attempting the practice of meditation, so that we can be more introspective and spiritual, profound.
This is a type of work, because there are a lot of temptations in this society. Our Western society is a land of distraction: sports, media, television, news. We tend to saturate our whole life with all these things, which pull our attention away and makes us very distracted. And so he becomes a donkey, but eventually he gets out with the help of the blue fairy, his Divine Mother we can say. The Divine Mother in Hinduism is a symbol of our own Being, an aspect of our divinity.
Divinity is not just male. It is represented as a masculine projective force, but also is receptive and feminine. There is that duality there and we will talk more about that in our studies of Kabbalah (See The Divine Mother from Beginning Self-Transformation).
And so we have a teaching from the book Igneous Rose:
“The Innermost must flagellate the mind with the terrific whip of willpower.” ―Samael Aun Weor, Igneous Rose
Flagellation, again, is not literal here, but it is a recrimination. Meaning, we start to act in a mental state of anger in a certain situation or crisis, we want to react in a certain way. But in that moment, we use our will and our awareness, our attention, not to act on that type of behavior, so that we don't cause harm for ourselves or for others. It is a type of willpower. Again, if you look back at the image of the old man with a book in his hand and a staff, he has a staff in his hand and the sun in his genitalia. That staff is a symbol of will, which is why all the shepherds in the Bible had staffs, a symbol of willpower, spiritual willpower.
“The one who identifies with the mind falls into the abyss.” ―Samael Aun Weor, Igneous Rose
One who enters into greater states of suffering, not only just in some dystopian reality or hell realm, according to religion, official religion, but in our own existence. So there are different levels here. We can find that if we act on negative states of mind, we suffer. As the Buddha taught in the Dhammapada:
“Mind proceeds phenomena. We become what we think.” ―Buddha, Dhammapada
If we think wrong and harm and evil, then the result will be harm for ourselves and others. But if we enact the virtuous qualities of mind, positive qualities of mind, we reap the benefits, and other people obviously benefit too.
“The mind is a donkey upon which we must ride in order to enter into the heavenly Jerusalem.” ―Samael Aun Weor, Igneous Rose
And the quote from Carlos Collodi from the book Pinocchio:
“Boys who do nothing but play end up turning into donkeys.” ―Carlos Collodi, Pinocchio
So what is a donkey? It is a stubborn animal. And you may find that in meditation that the body is stubborn. The mind is stubborn. We sit to adopt a posture or an asana and to relax, and yet we start thinking of other things. We start day dreaming of other things. The body wants to shift and move. We want to adjust ourselves. We feel tension or pain, but if we are always moving in our posture, we are not actually meditating. This is why a great Swami from the Hindu tradition of yoga, Swami Sivananda said, “Your asana, your posture, should be like a mountain, firm,” but relaxed. We don't move. And if you resolve in yourself in the beginning: “Don't move,” you'll find that your mind starts thinking over things or your body wants to move. You have an itch. You have a pain in your neck. You want to adjust yourself. That shows us that the body is like a donkey. It is an animal. You have to train it. The mind likewise. And sometimes even our emotions too. Negativity is animalistic.
So we hope to conclude with the fact that the soul can develop through these three sciences: alchemy, Kabbalah, and psychology, because that seed can become a tree of life when it is intentionally nourished and developed.
Do you have any questions?
Questions and Answers
Question: Where would you put astrology in all this?
Instructor: Sure. For those who are not familiar with astrology, it is the ancient science of the stars: astros-logos: astros, meaning heavens or stars, Logos meaning divinity. We can say that astrology permeates all three sciences―in the original sense or in the interpretations of astrology that there are 12 zodiacal signs that one is born in. According to Hindu tradition, one is born in a different zodiacal sign in each life, if you studied reincarnation and what those concepts entail.
But the zodiac has to do with certain influences in the mind, the heart, the personality, our spirituality too. There are different levels of influences from nature and the cosmos that influence a person. Of course, astrology today is a caricature. It is very divorced from a lot of the ancient roots and sciences that these astrologers actually knew. Astrology in its real sense is astros-logos: how the soul unites with the divinity of the stars. Every star and every planet has its own intelligence, its own divinities. Real astrology is when, in a state of meditation, we can let the body go to sleep, and the consciousness can awaken in what is called the internal dimensions. Some people call it dreams, astral projection, dream yoga, out-of-body experiences. This is something that you can experience for yourself and provoke at will if you seriously practice this.
In that way, in those dimensions known as the Tree of Life, again, the Tree of Life is a symbol of different levels of dimensions of nature that are psychological, spiritual, internal. And you can have those experiences in which your body is abandoned and you as a soul, in those planes, some people call it the astral plane, world of dreams―and then in that state, with profound clarity and awareness, you can call upon divinity. This is symbolized by Moses talking to God on Mount Sinai.
What is a mountain? It is a symbol of climbing that Tree of Life in meditation. A very difficult path, but you can reach the peak, those higher levels of consciousness in those states, and then you can call upon for help in those vivid, conscious, illuminated dreams, lucid dreams, people call it. In that way, you can get help from all the divinities of the stars.
If I am telling you this is because this is what I do regularly in my own practices. We receive help. And anyone can do this, because we all have a seed that can develop into that potential. Astrology relates with Kabbalah because when we receive that wisdom from any divinity, help for our physical life, we are performing Kabbalah, kabel, “to receive.” But also we can learn to have those experiences more regularly by working in alchemy, which is the science of The Perfect Matrimony, a book written by Samael Aun Weor, who is one of the founders of this tradition that we study along with many of the books that we have.
Astrology is not just the study of charts or memorizing complicated glyphs and numbers, which can have very interesting correlations to our life or not, but more profoundly, real astrology is when we develop our seed through these methods, these three sciences, so that we can receive help from the stars, literally, from heaven. Heaven is not a physical place, but a state of consciousness. You can awaken in the dream state, no longer projecting your dreams, your mind into that dimension, but you can see things as they are. It is not a vague or an amorphous dimension, but it is a material world just manifested by different levels or laws of nature. It's not physical or material like this physical plane. It's something different.
But that's real astrology. You can talk with the divinity of the stars. We have a book available called Practical Astrology with the different practices that you can use for each of the zodiacal signs during certain times of the month, where you can experience these things for yourself, receive help from those different influences.
Any other questions?
So if you are interested, I invite you to see our websites chicagognosis.org. You also can visit gnosticteachings.org. You'll find a lot of resources that teach this science in a very profound way. We have many courses available. The books that we have for sale here are also available online. You can also read every book, every chapter online. But if you want a hard copy, you can always purchase from here too.
Everything that we teach here is practical. You don't have to believe in any of it. We don't recommend that you believe in any of it, but in a state of neutrality, experiment and practice and see the results. And as you see results in yourself, that develops what we call genuine faith. People in these times confuse faith and belief. Faith is real knowledge born from experience. When you know from conscious experience that putting your hand on a hot stove burns you, you have faith that if you put your hand on a hot stove, you are going to get burned. It's a concrete experience. But even with those mystical experiences that all the saints of the different traditions taught, you can have that faith too, and you'll know from a state of lucidity and consciousness what those realities are, and then you don't the believe in anything. Belief doesn't change anyone. So again, you are also free to take some flyers and pamphlets if you are interested. We have the books available too, but I thank you all for coming.
This is a transcription of an audio lecture from Introduction to Gnostic Studies, originally given live at the Gnostic Academy of Chicago.
The title of this lecture is “The Multiplicity of Self,” and truly today we are going to be talking about courage, because to seek true and profound self-knowledge, to face the complicated and frightening multiplicity within our own psyche, requires tremendous courage.
In this image we see the Greek hero Perseus holding the severed head of the Medusa, the Gorgon, the monster. And on the Medusa's head, her hair was turned into hundreds of little serpents, representing, psychologically speaking, the multiplicity within our own psyche. Terrifying, Medusa had the power to turn anyone who looked at her to stone, to petrify them, to make them unable to change or to grow, to kill them.
It could be frightening to see things within ourselves that terrify us, things that we would prefer to ignore, to pretend are not within ourselves. But as we seek on the Gnostic path, to reach our highest potential, we must become Heroes like Perseus, not necessarily heroes in the outside world braving all kinds of terrors or tremendous difficulties, but first, heroes within ourselves: to plunge into the depths of ourselves, to not be frightened of facing the reality of our situation, psychologically speaking.
Our Psychological Situation
When we think about our spiritual situation, we can imagine a scenario like this. Imagine that you are in a dark jungle, so black that you cannot see anything, and perhaps you hear frightening noises around you. But because you cannot see, because you do not know where you are, because you have amnesia and have forgotten who you are or how you arrived in this state, you begin to dream. Feeling helpless and feeling terrified, you begin to fantasize. Perhaps imagine that you are somewhere safe. Imagine an identity for yourself, one that is strong or glorious. Imagine a life that is very happy. And although, all the while while you are dreaming this dream, in reality you are sitting in the dark jungle with any terror that could come up and devour you in any moment. You cling to your dreams and your fantasies as the reality, because it would be too terrifying to look at the truth of your situation: to feel helpless, to have no idea how to get out of the jungle, to have no idea who you truly are or how you arrived in this state.
So this is a metaphor for our spiritual situation. Spiritually speaking, we know very little of our true self. We know very little of how we arrived in this current situation that we are in or where we are going, and perhaps, spiritually speaking, we are not going anywhere. If we are blind, if we have lost our connection to our inner divinity, how do we find our way out? That is why we need the courage to open our eyes, to pray, to seek answers. To be guided by our inner divinity out of our current situation, we must first see our reality, our spiritual reality.
Dreams vs. Reality
There is a quote by Gurdjieff I am going to read for you. He says:
“Man's possibilities are very great. You cannot even conceive a shadow of what man is capable of attaining. But nothing can be attained in sleep. In the consciousness of a sleeping man, his Illusions, his 'dreams' are mixed with reality. He lives in a subjective world and he can never escape from it. And this is the reason why he can never make use of all the powers he possesses and why he lives in only a small part of himself." ―G.I. Gurdjieff
We are asleep. We go about our days in a subjective world, subjective, meaning it does not have an objective truth, but rather is a production of our own perspective. And as we talked about in the previous lectures of this course, our perspective can be very flawed at times.
Let's say, for example, that you are at a work meeting, and your boss seems grumpy and makes a comment to you. You feel very certain that your boss is angry at you. So you spend the rest of your day avoiding your boss, hiding from him, or if you have to talk to him, trying to be very careful to make him like you, to make him think that you are doing a great job, and let's say that the next day you hear from a co-worker that, truly, your boss was angry because some other misfortune happened. He recently lost a relative. Someone he cared about died. And so you had spent the entire day in a fantasy, in a dream, terrified or stressed out doing all these actions to avoid your boss, to avoid that anger that you believed was there, when all the while it was a fantasy in your own head, a misperception of reality.
In this example, we can see many times, in many ways in our lives, sometimes our dreams are mixed with our reality because of our subjective state of perception. They can also have a more positive slant to them. Perhaps you are trying to be friends with a new group of people, and every time you are around them, you think that they like you. You are making all these great jokes and you are in your own mind really impressing these people. And then later on, you find out from one of them that the whole time they were very annoyed with you, that they were making fun of you behind your back. What kind of pain does that cause for us when we have dreamed and believed that reality is a certain way but when the facts are actually otherwise?
And that is why, as painful as it may be, to break through the defense mechanism of our fantasy and to see our blind and helpless spiritual state, it is essential. It is crucial that we begin to work towards that, because when we awaken, as Gurdjieff says, our possibilities are very great. If we saw reality as it truly was and if we knew ourselves as we truly are, if we became aware of the wealth that is sleeping inside of us, inside of our consciousness, and we activated that, we would not even be able to conceive, currently, a shadow of what we would be capable of attaining. As as Gurdjieff says, because we are asleep, we can never make use of all the power we truly possess in our soul. We live only in a small part of ourselves.
Mechanicity and True Action
So we have to ask ourselves, if we are so asleep all the time, and we are going about our day according to fantasies or misperceptions of reality that we believe to be true, but that really have very little to do with our actual situation, what kind of willpower do we have?
This is a great philosophical debate. Do we have free will or is everything predetermined? Is everything destined to happen a certain way, or do we have a choice in things?
Gurdjieff often talked of man as a machine, saying that the sleeping man, the man who is like all of us in our sleeping conscious state, is like a machine―that someone pushes the right button and you react without any freedom, without any control to change your reaction. Perhaps a sibling or an enemy taunts you in a certain way, criticizes a defect that you are very sensitive about, and you react instantaneously with anger or with embarrassment, and you have no conscious control over that. But even greater is our situation that many larger external forces, economic pressures, politics, our jobs or education, all kinds of external situations become the larger mechanism within which we are trapped without the freedom to do anything more than react to our external circumstances.
And so Gurdjieff describes this state talking about our lack of will, true free will. He says:
“Will is a sign of a being of a very high order of existence as compared with the being of an ordinary man. Only men who are in possession of such a being can do.” ―Gurdjieff, Views from the Real World
And by do, Gurdjieff means have a true independent action, an action that is of our own will and not merely reactionary to other forces and pressures. Gurdjieff continues:
“All other men are merely automata, put into action by external forces like machines or clockwork toys, acting as much and as long as the wound-up spring within them acts, and not capable of adding anything to its force.” ―Gurdjieff, Views from the Real World
So as I mentioned, these external forces can be pressures in our world, can be the people in our lives, can be our worldly situation. But further than that, we also have many forces that move us from within our own psyche, over which we have no control.
We can think of our psychological state as a multiplicity. A very basic and perhaps silly example is how many of us wish that we could be healthier, that we could be in shape. And we think that we will have a healthier diet and so we begin to maybe starve ourselves. We are only going to eat celery sticks, just a celery stick fast, and a couple hours later, or maybe if we have a lot of willpower, a few days later, we suddenly become starving. We see a chocolate cake or some really delicious food that is our favorite food, and we begin to gorge ourselves on that. And so while in one moment, we had the will, the desire, the sense of self that wanted to be skinnier or healthier. In the next moment we are possessed by a sense of self that is gluttonous, that desires the sensations of those tastes, those foods.
So which one is really us? Are we the self that wants to be healthy, or are we the self that wants to enjoy life and eat delicious foods? Are we the self that wants to go work out at the gym and become stronger? Or are we the self that likes to relax on the couch and watch TV all day?
If we see both of those desires within ourselves pulling us―one moment is one, the next moment is the opposite, the next moment it is some other drive―how do we know who is our true self from moment to moment?
As we slumber and shift ever between these states, between these different urges, we have the illusion of continuity. We have the illusion that there is one self always present there, when in reality, one moment we are so hungry and we are trying to get up so that we can go to the kitchen and prepare ourselves some food. But then in the next moment we are too tired. We just want to continue to lay in bed and not do anything.
So which one is the true self? How do we know what is our true will?
The founder of the Gnostic movement, Samael Aun Weor, wrote about this state of our existence. He said:
“Many thousands of different individuals, different persons, “I’s,” or people who quarrel amongst themselves, who fight amongst themselves for supremacy and who do not have order or concordance whatsoever, exist within each one of us.” ―Samael Aun Weor, Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology
So that is like the examples that I was just giving. There is “I” who is hungry. There is an “I” who wants to go on a diet. There is “I” who is tired. There is “I” who wants to exercise. There are all these different identities within ourselves, but they don't have an order. They don't have a structure or a concordance with one another. They are chaotic. They are constantly battling for control of our human machine, our mind, our heart, our body.
So it becomes very hard for us to move in a defined direction, to have a true individual, continuous will, because we are constantly being divided by many, many, many wills within ourselves.
Samael Aun Weor continued:
“If we were conscious, if we were to awaken from so many dreams and fantasies, how different life would be...” ―Samael Aun Weor, Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology
So as Gurdjieff was talking about how our dreams are mixed with reality, and because our consciousness is asleep, we believe that we are perceiving reality. Let's say that you have a dream. You are asleep at night and you are dreaming that you are being pursued by a huge ferocious tiger. And in this dream you are seeking to escape. You are running. You are looking for a tree that you can climb to get away from this tiger. But in the next instant, you wake up, and you realize you are safe in your bed and the entire time it was a dream.
Well, what about that example from earlier about your boss being mad at you and you are running, and you are running away from your boss, but then the next day when you find out the truth, that your boss isn't mad at you? You wake up in your bed and you realize the whole thing was a dream. You were so frightened. You were so worried. But here you are just fine. There is no threat.
If we were conscious, if we perceived what in us is a dream, our life would be very different, because in reality there are true threats to our spiritual development, true threats that can cause us to become petrified, turned to stone, and unable to grow and develop spiritually. We cannot perceive them as long as we are living in a fantasy.
“Nonetheless, as if our misfortune was not enough, negative emotions, self-love and self-esteem fascinate us, hypnotize us, never allowing us to remember ourselves, to see ourselves exactly the way we are...” ―Samael Aun Weor, Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology
We have a skewed perception. We talked about it in previous lectures that we become very egotistical, very egocentric―possessed by our self esteem, our self love, our sense of anger, our sense of pride, our lust, our greed, our vanity―and because of that we are pulled all the time as if by our own psychological strings.
We do not have control over ourselves. We may swear in one moment that we love someone. We love our spouse, and in the next moment our spouse does something to make us angry and we hate them. We become cold towards them. We begin to push them away or to treat them cruelly. We have no power there to continue to love our spouse. Which one is the true self, the love or the anger?
That is why we have a tragic situation. We cannot remember ourselves. We cannot see ourselves as we truly are, because in each moment, we are possessed by negative emotions that separate us from the true and innate happiness of the consciousness.
We need an individual will. We need the will of our inner divinity, our true will. Not the will of these temporary and transient egotistical desires. But so long as we believe that we already have an individual will, we cannot access and become aware of the will of our inner divinity.
The will that speaks and expresses itself to us through our conscience, which many of us have silenced through years of ignorance. Samael Aun Weor also talks about this situation. He says:
“We believe that we have one will, when in reality we possess many different wills. Each “I” has its own will. The tragic comedy of all this interior multiplicity is dreadful. The different internal wills clash against each other, they live in continuous conflict, and they act in different directions. If we had true individuality, if we were a unity instead of a multiplicity, then we would also have continuity of purpose, awakened consciousness, a particular, individual will.” ―Samael Aun Weor, Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology
We know of situations where perhaps we or someone else has worked for years to attain a certain job. They spent lots of money. They spent years studying, getting education, getting training. They worked very hard to fit the role of this job that they sought, and finally, perhaps they are successful and they get this career. And then a few months or a few years later, they are unhappy. They realize this isn't what they want to be doing. They want to be doing something else, and that is an example of this tragic comedy that is ridiculous and absurd: how we are pulled so strongly in one direction only to realize that that was a false self, a false desire.
We thought having this certain job would make us happy, only to realize, tragically, that we are still unhappy, that that was not actually the happiness that we were seeking. We think that when we have a nicer car than our neighbor, whom we envy, that then we will be happy. We get the car and then our other neighbor gets a nicer car than us and we are miserable. Our pride is wounded. Our envy is inflamed.
So we see that in all these dreams and fantasies that we chase in the external world, we never truly find contentment that we are seeking, and in fact, often only cause ourselves more suffering. But if we awoke our consciousness, our inner connection to divinity, and we followed the will of our inner divinity, then we would have true purpose, true volition, and true happiness that cannot be taken away, no matter what our external situation maybe.
We are going to do an exercise because it's very important that we become aware of this within ourselves. I have been giving many different examples of that multiplicity, and perhaps some of them might resonate, but to truly psychologically observe this within ourselves is very important, because we need to first of all have the courage to face ourselves and to face our psychological situation. Furthermore, use that courage and use that sincerity with ourselves as a weapon to gain more and more self-knowledge.
As Gurdjieff says in the following quote:
“Try to understand that what you usually call “I” is not I; there are many “I’s” and each “I” has a different wish. Try to verify this. You wish to change, but which part of you has this wish? Many parts of you want many things, but only one part is real. It will be very useful for you to try to be sincere with yourself. Sincerity is the key which will open the door through which you will see your separate parts, and you will see something quite new. You must go on trying to be sincere. Each day you put on a mask, and you must take it off little by little.” ―Gurdjieff, Views from the Real World
What we want is to see directly in our own experience of life what is new, to comprehend things in ourselves that we had previously been blind to. We have many fantasies about ourselves: fantasies about our life, fantasies about other people in the world that we cling to, that we repeat. We think the same thoughts. We feel the same emotions. We have the same habits day after day after day. But when we awaken consciousness, we begin to perceive ourselves and reality in a new way, and that requires a lot of courage and a lot of sincerity.
So in this exercise, we are going to use a technique of meditative self-observation that we learned about in previous lectures. It's going to be a little bit challenging and uncomfortable. But using our willpower, we are going to set this task for ourselves to be truly sincere and to see within ourselves something new.
So go ahead and close your eyes. And for a few minutes, we will enter into a meditative state. First, we will become aware of our physical center, the sexual-motor-instinctive brain, becoming aware of our physical body, relaxing and breathing deeply, noticing any physical sensations in our body, becoming aware of that, becoming conscious―concentrating, awake, alert, but relaxed.
Next, we will become aware of our emotional state, becoming aware of how we feel in this moment, whether it is positive, negative, or neutral―not judging it, just becoming aware.
And then moving into our intellectual center, becoming aware of our thoughts, becoming aware of any thoughts that are passing through our mind―not trying to change them, but just noticing them―breathing deeply, relaxing with each inhalation, and letting out any stress with each exhalation―beginning to enter into a relaxed and concentrated state, maintaining the alertness and the concentration of our consciousness.
Now we set a wish for ourselves, using our willpower, to recall one of the most painful moments of our lives, and as this memory comes into our concentration. We become aware of our heart, our emotions. We become aware of our body, our physical reactions. Become aware of our mind and our thoughts.
You may notice as you try to focus on something that is uncomfortable and painful, try to look at a painful corner of yourself, but there are many other wills that arise that resists it, that dislike it, that try to pull your concentration away, because we do not like to look at ourselves, to face our suffering. But this is necessary, if we can begin take a deep breath, to relax again, to let the memory go and to come back to this moment.
So hopefully in that exercise you observe something within yourself, a division of wills: that when you set an intention to truly look at yourself, other wills arose that did not want to look, that were afraid, that were angry, that were hurt, that wanted to distract themselves or avoid facing reality. But as Gurdjieff says:
“Sincerity is the key which will open the door through which you will see your separate parts, and you will see something quite new.” ―Gurdjieff, Views from the Real World
We cannot be afraid of ourselves, even the most painful things that we carry within us. We must be sincere each day. As our sincerity, our willpower, our courage, is the key to overcoming the multiplicity within ourselves.
Christianity and the Multiplicity of Self
I am going to talk in the second part of this lecture now about different scriptural examples that encode this psychological teaching for us.
But we can see that his esoteric teaching has been present in traditions around the world for many hundreds of years, or thousands of years. In the Bible, there is a story of a madman who wandered around the tombs. And if we look at this as a metaphor for our own situation with all of our fantasies, with all of our ideas about ourselves and our delusions about our lives, we are the madman who is wandering around the tombs, because spiritually we are dead. Spiritually, we do not have life.
In the Bible, in the Book of Mark, we see here that Jesus went to this madman who is possessed by many demons and the madman said to Jesus, "What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God?"
When our conscience speaks to us, when our inner divinity comes to us, to show us the reality of our situation, to guide us, to show us what is, what is wrong, what we must do to awaken to overcome ourselves, do we accept that guidance? Or do we turn back to our delusions and say to God, “What have I to do with thee? What have I to do with my own inner Spirit?” If all of my time is invested in my worldly fantasies, in my idea of myself, my pride, my selfishness, my gluttony, my lust, my greed, my envy―what have I to do with God or with the Christ if that is my choice? To live in a fantasy and to avoid my spiritual reality? But Jesus, representing here the Cosmic Christ, the force of universal compassion and wisdom, says to the man before he heals him:
Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?”
And he replied, “My name is Legion: for we are many.” ―Mark 5:9
The many that exist within this man, this madman who lives among the tombs, who represents us, is a multiplicity of false wills, sometimes demonic wills, animal wills, selfish, egotistical wills that have in their intention to harm others for our own benefit. They are false wills. They are a sense of self that we believe in a given moment is true―“Is who I am” in this moment, because “I feel angry. This is my true will and I will hurt the ones I love to avenge my anger”―when a little while later, we feel remorse. We realize that we were controlled in those moments by the demon of our anger, and that it was not truly the will of our soul. But now having hurt the ones we love we, must live with the consequences of having been possessed by a false “I,” a false self.
But as we see in this chapter of the Bible, Jesus has the power to heal this man of his demons, and he cast them out and cast them into pigs, which run into the waters and then drown. This is a deep esoteric symbol. We can simply say that when we turn to our own inner divinity, or own connection with a force of universal love and compassion, the Christ, and we asked to be healed, that we can overcome the multiplicity of ourselves.
But that takes the sincerity of realizing that, as we currently are, we are possessed by many demonic wills. We lack true individuality
Gurdjieff has another quote that has to do with breaking through this mechanicity, this defense mechanism, this multiplicity. He writes:
“All religions speak about death during this life on earth. Death must come before rebirth. But what must die? False confidence in one’s own knowledge, self-love and egoism. Our egoism must be broken.” ―Gurdjieff, Views from the Real World
That egoism that I was just describing, a sense of self that has nothing to do with divinity, that has nothing to do with our Spirit or our soul, that is false. That is multiple. That is divided. That believes that our anger is real, that our lust is real, that our envy is real, that our pride is real, and will even fight to the death to defend a sense of self that has no permanence, that has no continuity, that is here one moment and gone the next. This egoism must be broken, and can be broken by our sincerity, and by working with the force of Christ.
“We must realize that we are very complicated machines, and so this process of breaking is bound to be a long and difficult task. Before real growth becomes possible, our personality must die.” ―Gurdjieff, Views from the Real World
If we want the growth of the soul, we have to invest energy into our soul. And if all of our energy is poured into a thousand different directions that have nothing to do with the growth of our soul, we will remain stagnant. We will remain fueling a false identity, a false personality.
In order for our soul to be born again, for us to be reborn, our false self must die. This is something we have touched on in the previous lectures, which ties into this topic today as well.
War in the Bhagavad-Gita
It is another example from the Hindu tradition, in the scripture of the Bhagavad-Gita, Krishna, who is a representation of Christ, the Hindu Christ, comes to the battlefield to help the hero of the story, Arjuna. Arjuna is a representation of our own human soul, the true willpower of our soul.
In this battle, Arjuna ask Krishna to pull his chariot in between the two armies, the army with whom he fights and the army whom he fights against. He looks on both sides of the battlefield and he sees, on both sides, people who were once or currently are his friends, his relatives, his children, his grandparents, his brother-in-laws. He sees his beloved friends and relatives, and he loses heart. He loses courage. He loses his strength, and he says to Krishna, "I cannot fight. It would be better for me to die than to kill these people whom I love. How can you ask me to fight this war?"
Now this is a psychological symbol for our situation. As we look on our spiritual battle field, at the army against whom we fight, the legion within our psychology, we see many beloved friends and relatives, psychologically speaking, that we are very attached to: our pride, that we are very attached to our gluttony or greed or envy or lust, our desires for the future, our desires for fame or for wealth or for a certain partner, certain security. We are so attached to them that we say, “I don't want to fight this spiritual battle. I want to continue on with the flow, even if it costs me the death of my soul. I don't have the strength to fight.”
But what does our inner Christ say in this beautiful scripture? Krishna gives Arjuna the teaching of Atman, the true Spirit, the inner-self that is not attached to fame or to disgrace, to gain or to loss. It is not attached to heat or cold, to happiness or sadness. The Spirit has eternal wisdom and love and a contentment that is beyond temporary pleasures of the world. Through this teaching, Arjuna gains direct knowledge of non-attachment and gains the strength and the courage to go to battle against his enemies, which as I stated earlier, psychologically speaking, are elements within ourselves that we are too attached to―that we believe are our cherished darlings, our family, our loved ones, but that ultimately come to steal from us the kingdom, the kingdom of our soul, our spiritual inheritance. They come to take away our lifetime, to take away our energy and our willpower so that we cannot fight for our soul, for our spiritual development, and fight according to the will of our inner God.
Perseus and Medusa: The Essence Battles the Ego
Finally, we will return to the Greek mysteries, the myth that we began, the myth of Perseus and Medusa. So the Medusa, a Gorgon, was once a very beautiful woman, so beautiful that she became very vain and proud and egotistical, and as a result, incurred the wrath of the goddess and was turned into a hideous monster with hair full of serpents.
These many serpents represent the same symbol as the poisonous serpents in the desert that bit the Israelites, the many different desires within ourselves that bite us, that poison us, that causes us, spiritually, to become weak and to die, because they divide us from our true self, from our true inner divinity.
In order to protect the virtue of his mother from a lustful king, Perseus goes and fights to bring back the head of the Medusa. Medusa with her stare petrifies anyone who looks upon her. Many warriors have gone to fight her, and in looking upon her horrible, terrifying face, have been turned to stone and have perished.
Spiritually speaking, when we look at ourselves, we must not get identified. We must not get attached. We must look at ourselves with serenity with courage, look at ourselves from the perspective of our inner divinity who is not attached to any outcome, but can see reality as it truly is. So in order for Perseus to defeat Medusa, he is given by Athena a polished shield, a shield which allows him to see the reflection of Medusa and to kill her without looking directly upon her.
Symbolically, this represents our need to enter into a meditative state in which we are not identified, but can reflect on ourselves from a higher perspective. We can destroy our enemy, because when we sit to meditate, we can separate from egotistical desires and enter into communion with our inner divinity, which gives us strength to see reality. But as stated in the earlier example, when we are fused with a given desire, when in that moment we become so identified with our anger that we do horrible things, say horrible things to the ones that we love, then we are defeated. We are spiritually killed by our inner enemy, and that is why we need that separation: the polished shields of our own self-reflection.
As he cut off the head of the Gorgon, Perseus was given an adamantine sword by Zeus. Zeus was his father, because Perseus, like us, is half God, half mortal. Within us we have our soul, our Essence, the seed of a soul which is given to us by the Spirit, our spiritual identity, our inner divinity. But also within us, we have many mortal elements given to us by Mother Nature, our physical body and internal bodies and vehicles that were given to us by nature. And so we must work with the sword of willpower, which represents the willpower given to us by our inner Spirit, of our spiritual nature, to cut off the head of the beast, our psychological enemies.
Now after Perseus kills Medusa, he must put on the helm of Hades. Hades is the king, the lord of the underworld, and this helm of darkness allows Perseus to hide from the other enemies that come, the other Gorgons that come to destroy him when they find out that he has killed their sister. This represents the facing of ourselves and cutting off the head of Medusa is just the beginning of our battle, but what we have to use to protect ourselves for the further battles after that is the helm of darkness. Because when we have faced the darkness within ourselves, we received the gift of Hades, the gift of the lord of the underworld, that we can use to protect ourselves, because we know when we face the worst in ourselves, we have the courage and the ability to fight and conquer other forms of evil.
So to summarize everything that we talked about here, we can look at what these symbols represent. When we are first courageous enough to admit that we have a multiplicity of wills and that we do not know our true individual will, the will of our inner God, when we become serious about our spiritual work in developing our soul, rather than chasing after many false fantasies and false desires that change moment by moment, that at the end of our life have brought us nothing, we instead face ourselves and we become serious about wanting to develop our soul.
We can use a method for self-transformation, that just as Perseus used the shield, we must have non-identified self-observation. This comes from self-observing ourselves throughout the day, as we talked about in the previous lectures, but also through meditation. Through developing our connection with our inner divinity, that can strengthen us to see what is our true self. Because when we know our true self, we are not so easily fooled by the multiplicity of false selves within our psyche.
At the end of each day, we retrospect. We perform a meditation in which we observe which elements were active throughout our day, so we can begin at the beginning of our day and replay it in our mind with non-identification, or we can start at the end of our day just before we sit to meditate, and replay the day backwards. But either way, observing how many multiple wills pulled us in different directions, how from one moment to the next our will was not continuous, and analyzing from an unidentified position, we question: what is the truth of those desires? If I pursue this anger, if I go and I take my vengeance and act on this anger, what will the outcome be? Will it bring me happiness? Will it bring me peace? In the long run, will it develop my soul? Or is it just an illusion? Is it a false desire? A false self that I must separate from.
The same is true with pride, with envy, and lust, gluttony, laziness. If we act on these defects, what will the outcome be? Will the outcome be spiritual growth? Will it be self-knowledge and wisdom? Universal compassion? Will the outcome be that true happiness of the soul?
Or will those only bring us temporary pleasures, that when we reach the end of life, will be lost?
For that type of meditation, we need sincerity. We need to be very sincere with ourselves and not allow our self-deception to fool us into wasting much time and energy chasing after fantasies, delusions that won't get us anywhere. And all of this work takes tremendous willpower. For that willpower, we need to conserve our energy, to be living ethically, to be honest with ourselves, to be honest with others, to be living in an upright way, to be acting according to what we know in our conscience to be right. Through those ethics we can conserve enough energy to have the willpower to observe ourselves day after day, to meditate and to truly seek the awakening of our consciousness.
And finally, it's very important that we use prayer, because this self-transformation is a tremendous feat. It is very difficult. It is symbolized by the heroes of the Greek myths and the heroes of the scriptures, because it requires a tremendous amount of willpower, a heroism that we must find in our own soul and develop. But always these heroes have the help and the guidance of the gods and of divinity. And that is why through prayer, we can gain that inner help, that inner guidance to show us, what is the truth? What is the reality of our situation?
And what is the will of our inner God?
Do you have any questions?
Questions and Answers
Question: When Gurdjieff says what is man capable of, what is he capable of, if we are going to do this work of eliminating ego? What happens for us?
Instructor: Many people wonder “Who would I be if I didn't have all these desires? What would I do? Would I just be nothing?” But when we look at great spiritual masters like Jesus, like Buddha, like Krishna, these are truly great solar identities, solar beings, profound, powerful. If we took an ordinary person and put them in a situation where they were all by themselves, this person would be helpless, would not have the ability in that jungle, like our earlier example, to find their way out or to survive. But if we took a master like Jesus who has power over nature, power over himself, truly channels the power of divinity, his potential is limitless on earth and in the higher dimensions of nature. So that is the ultimate goal that we seek. Whatever level we might reach, we seek to develop our spiritual potential to have power over ourselves first and over nature, and even spiritual power.
Question: So Gurdjieff talks a lot about genuine will. What would be an example of genuine willpower according to divinity?
Instructor: We can think about the example of Jesus of Nazareth in the garden of Gethsemane. What does he say as he prays to God? This is before his crucifixion and he knows he is going to die and he prays to God, "Father, if it be thy will, take this cup of bitterness away from me, but not my will but thine be done." It is an example willpower. It is submission to divine will, that where our Spirit guides us, that we have the will of our inner God to do whatever is necessary, and that we are not controlled by fear or by any egotistical desire, but rather, we have true strength, continuity of purpose. We are awakened. We know what we must do and we have the will and the power to do it.
Question: So what does it mean to be conscious? Because this is a very difficult thing for students and for ourselves, is learning to understand what it means to be awake. So when we are awake, how do we really know? So I know it sounds like a kind of a catch-22, but what are the signs of being conscious in this work?
Instructor: Well in that example or in that exercise where we were meditating, were you aware of your feelings? Were you aware of your physical body sitting in the chair? Were you aware of your thoughts? That simple awareness of physical sensations or emotional sensations or mental sensations is an example, is a taste of becoming conscious. Actually, throughout the day as we are walking around, we are often not even aware of our physical body. We are not aware of breath coming in and out of our body. And so on the most basic level, to be aware of your physical processes, becomes the first level of being conscious, and then as we become aware of our more profound psychological depths―our thoughts or emotions that were previously unconscious to us as we work more and more in meditation―then we are awakening more and more. We might even perceive things that are extrasensory, you know, develop spiritual senses like telepathy, clairvoyance, clairaudience, to be awakened when we are asleep at night, to be awakened in the astral plane. These are examples of awakening, but it happens degree by degree.
Question: So what does it mean to be asleep and hypnotized? Because I know we talked a lot about different identities and wills. How is it that our sense of self makes us dream or makes us unaware of ourselves or unaware of things?
Instructor: Well, I think I gave an example too of being, you know, having a misperception of a situation with our boss, right? Where we believe that our boss is angry, and so we go about our day acting according to that belief. Now the reality is that our boss is angry at us, was having a bad day, because of some other situation that we didn't know, but in this state, this subjective reality, the subjective world of our own psychological perspective, we believe it to be true. And so we are going about acting as though that is the reality when the reality is otherwise. And that is because we are sleep, because we think we are perceiving reality, but truly we are filtering reality through our own egotism, our own fear that our boss would be angry at us, for example.
It’s just like the dream with the tiger chasing us, that when we are asleep and we are having a dream, that a big tiger is after us, we believe it's true and we are running like mad and we are trying to find a tree. We are trying to escape, and then we wake up and we realized that was not reality, right? So that's an example of what it is to be asleep. And you know, there are many desires that we are chasing we believe are very real, that desire for that new car, that desire for that new partner, that desire for that new job. And as we chase them, we believe they are real, but perhaps a few months later, some other job comes up and you get that job instead, and so all that time that you invested thinking that, “Oh, in a year from now, I am going to have this job,” was wasted, because the reality ended up being different. The truth is, that life never goes according to our plans.
Question: When I see that certain egos come up in situations, such as insecurity or fear or uncertainty or doubt, despair, and becoming hypnotized by those thoughts is what keeps us asleep. So why do we have a multiplicity in us? Why is it that we have ended up the way we are?
Instructor: So because we―in past actions, both in this lifetime and in previous lifetimes―invested our energy into desires that had nothing to do with our inner divinity. We created a flow of energy that goes into multiple different directions. So let's say that, you know, in the past, in a past life when we had a stronger connection with our inner divinity, we were guided to perform one action. But because of some egotistical desire or fantasy, because of our pride, for example, we didn't want to do this action that would have humiliated us. So we chose to act in a prideful way.
Well, in that case, psychologically speaking, we strengthened our sense of pride. We strengthened that false self, and we did this many times, many different actions, many different directions, created a multiplicity of wills with our own energy, our own consciousness, our own conscious energy. And so in this lifetime, we carry the psychological consequences, the psychological bodies from those previous existence―existences that have a multiplicity of wills.
But because we have become so hypnotized, so asleep, like I said, spiritually speaking, we have amnesia. We have no idea how we got here. We don't even remember what we did yesterday or two weeks ago, let alone what we did in past lives. And so our situation is very confused and very asleep. But as we work with meditation and as we perform this profound psychological self-transformation and awaken ourselves and begin to perceive the depths of our psyche, we can become aware and awakened and remember our past lives and see for ourselves, directly, through our own experiences, our mystical experiences, the reality of our past lives and how we ended up in this situation now.
Question: So when we get rid of the ego, we develop the soul. How is it that by eliminating the ego, we develop our consciousness? How is our consciousness trapped in the ego, right? Can you tell us more about what that process is like?
Instructor: I am going to go back to this quote here by Gurdjieff, when he says the death must come before rebirth. And so we know that our egoism must be broken. The ego is all of those different “I’s.” So we can say actually that we have a legion of egos. Ego means “I” in Latin. Now, because we have our own psychology divided into these false senses of self, our energy and our attention and our awareness is divided in many different directions, so that we can't progress through life with a continuous direction and a sense of will. We can't work towards one aim, because one minute we want to go on the diet and become skinnier, and the next minute we are turned in another direction and we are eating that chocolate cake, right? But this is actually a much bigger problem for us when we perform meditation everyday and we see the reality of different egos that pull at us.
As we meditate and we begin to take our energy back, we begin to extract our consciousness from these false delusional selves, these delusional desires, and we bring our consciousness back into a center of gravity and we center ourselves, again―in our Spirit, in our soul, in our conscience and our connection to divine will within ourselves, our true individual will―then we can begin to die to the delusion and to be born to the reality of the soul, and see the spiritual realities that are much more profound than the false realities that we perceive now and that we believe to be true.
But so long as we believe the lie, well, then we cannot perceive the truth. So we must first perceive that the egos or the different “I’s” that manipulate us moment-to-moment are false and then die to them. Let them go―as Arjuna killed these beloved attachments that we have, because they are temporary, because they are false. Then all of that energy, that consciousness, that awareness, returns to our Spirit, to our soul, and so we can be born as a soul.
Question: Can an ego observe another ego? How does that work? I believe Samael Aun Weor talked a lot about that process.
Instructor: Well, some people develop an egotistical sense of self that is doing this work. You know, it may be a Gnostic “I’s” that sits and judges and condemns the other “I’s” and says, “This one is bad and this one is not good.” But eventually that person has to become aware that that Gnostic “I” is also a false self.
When we are sitting in a state of conscious meditation, free from conditioning, we see and perceive the reality directly. We gain comprehension that is not intellectual. When one is sitting, at the beginning perhaps, our analysis is a little bit intellectual because we start where we are at, and so we have to maybe begin just by intellectually pondering: “Well, was that desire to yell at my friend good or bad?” Or “Where is that going to take me if I continue to act on that desire?”
Perhaps in the beginning it is intellectual, but as we strengthen our connection with divinity and as we strengthen our consciousness through this work and awaken, then we have comprehension of ourselves. We perceive reality directly. We know the truth. And so we do not have to analyze in this egotistical way or this intellectual way, but merely sit to meditate, observe what we see, and we will know through direct spontaneous insight. Perhaps not in that moment of meditation, perhaps later, but as well as long as we are doing this work and we are making efforts, our inner divinity will guide us and will show us the truth. It is very inspiring and doesn't require exertion. It comes naturally as a result of the effort to observe ourselves and to meditate.
This is a transcription of an audio lecture from Introduction to Gnostic Studies, originally given live at the Gnostic Academy of Chicago.
So every time we meet here together, we talk about gnosis. What is gnosis? It is experiential knowledge, knowledge of divinity, but knowledge of divinity that begins with ourselves.
Consciousness, ego and personality are three elements of ourselves that we can understand. And if we start with the basis of understanding this, then we gradually work into an understanding of which part of ourselves is the most divine, and how we can strengthen that part.
Now, because this is a path of self-knowledge, we have been working with the practice of self-observation. Before we seek to understand beings that we cannot see, other dimensions, those types of mystical experiences, we seek to just understand our reality. So with self-observation, we have begun by looking at our three brains. We talked before last time about how the three brains are three energetic centers.
The body is like a machine that can receive all types of information. We can receive motor, instinctive, and sexual impulses in our body, and that is controlled by the motor-instinctive-sexual brain.
We can receive emotional sensations, things that we process usually in the middle region of our body. We can feel anger in our gut, or love, warmth in our chest. And that can be divided into superior or inferior emotions. All of us have emotional states that are very pleasant and happy, serenity, but most of the time, unfortunately, we are stuck in emotional states that are states of suffering, anger, depression, misery. So we can use the emotional center in two different ways, in a superior way or inferior way, depending on what we are resonating with.
In the same way, the third center we talked about, the intellectual brain, which corresponds with the physical brain, up here in our head, can be divided into superior thoughts or inferior thoughts. Superior thoughts might be inspired works of genius, inventive types of creative thoughts, totally free from repetition and conditioning, while inferior thoughts might be of a more egotistical nature, selfish and repetitive.
If you have been working with self-observation, and observing not only external events but also your internal states of being, you might have noticed that the majority of our life is spent repeating thoughts that we have already thought, emotions that we have already felt before, actions and habits that we have already done, that life becomes a bit like a routine. And we don’t know how to escape this. Even if we are stuck in habits and emotions and thoughts that do not necessarily bring us any joy, we don’t know how we are supposed to step out of that.
We talked about how gnosis, self-knowledge, is the fourth path, the path of equilibrium, the path of awakening consciousness. Consciousness is separate from thoughts, separate from emotions, and separate from our instincts, impulses and body. Although consciousness gives us the chance to perceive all of those different types of sensations that we experience, that are a part of our life, we can awaken our consciousness separate from those sensations when we are in psychological equilibrium.
So we talked last time about looking at our lives, looking at if we are living in an imbalanced way, if there are times when we become too intellectual, getting carried away in theories and ideas. Times when we become too emotional, getting attached to sensations and emotional stimuli, dramas on TV, those kind of things, and not really thinking things through, not really putting things into practice. Or finally, we might be imbalanced in that we are a person that is always on the go or has a lot of instinctual habits, really identified with our physical body, but we’re not really thinking things through. We don’t have a lot of emotional depth.
By identifying that and working to correct our own imbalances, we can begin to activate a state of conscious awareness. We can begin to self-observe ourselves in a new way.
Perception of Reality
So if you’ve been working with that practice over the last few weeks, then this question might be something that you are looking at in a new way. Do we perceive reality?
So most of us are going to assume, “Well, yeah, I’m not hallucinating. I see the room around me, and that’s reality, right?” But we want to go a little bit deeper than a superficial understanding of this question.
When working with practices to understand not just the external world and our habits and life the way that we usually understand it, but to perceive life in a more profound way, in a spiritual way, then we need to question reality, because is it reality, or is it our perception of reality?
To give you an example of this, pretty common, that most of us have had a first impression of somebody that was really great, and we thought that they were an amazing person, and then later on we found out that maybe they weren’t such a nice person after all. Or conversely, maybe somebody rubs you the wrong way, maybe the first time you meet, you think this guy is going to be a jerk, but then not so long later, you realize they are a pretty good person. Maybe they become one of your best friends.
So what is it there that tricks us? Why is it that we think we are perceiving the reality of someone or situation, but later on time proves that we actually haven’t seen it as it was?
A really poignant example of this is a betrayal. So all of us at one point in our life have been lied to, or betrayed by someone we trusted, and that can be a very traumatic experience for the soul. Because in an instant, you realize that someone you thought you trusted, you thought you knew, you thought you had a good understanding of their character, has said or done something that contradicts everything that you believe. You might go deeper into a state of doubt, questioning not only your relationship with that person but questioning yourself and what you did wrong, what you didn’t see to get yourself in that position. Questioning: is it just this one person that I didn’t understand, or is it all types of people that I don’t understand? Do I even have a grasp of life?
The doubt can be very distressing, but it is very important, because it shows the fundamental truth of our situation, which is that we are not really very cognizant of reality. We are actually in a state where we should feel a little bit of distress, because we need to figure out: “What is it that I am not seeing? And how do I move into that place where I can begin to see things as they are? So I don’t continue to follow an unconscious assumption about life and about people and about myself that puts me into a state of greater suffering.”
But most of the time after something like this happens, the pain is too great. So we run away from that doubt. We run away from ourselves. We push it down. We blame the other person or we get distracted with something else. Sometimes we run directly into the same situation with someone new and we end up repeating and continuing our suffering rather than learning from it.
Now with practices like self-observation and meditation, we are able to begin breaking that cycle. We are able to begin to understand what it was that we missed, that we didn’t perceive, to understand ourselves in a new way, and to step beyond our wrong assumption of reality into a better understanding of reality.
So the first of the three elements of ourselves we are going to look at today, that will help us to be comprehend reality, is consciousness. Now consciousness as commonly defined is “the quality or state of being aware and having mental faculties not dulled by sleep, faintness or stupor.” So that is, if you’re the boxer in the ring and you get knocked unconscious, then you wake back up and you are conscious again. You know, very simple, superficial understanding of what consciousness is, but we are seeking again to go deeper.
That consciousness is not just being physically awake or physically asleep. But most of the time, in an esoteric understanding of consciousness, we are asleep. We are not perceiving things as they are, but rather we are going through the motions of things only half aware of what’s happening, repeating our habits, repeating our routines, but not really being awake, not really perceiving the situation as it is.
So in Gnosticism, we define consciousness as the root of our perception of all phenomena. So as I mentioned earlier, consciousness is beyond our mind, beyond our thoughts, beyond our heart, beyond our emotions, beyond our body. It is through consciousness that we can perceive physical sensations and emotional sensations and intellectual thoughts, but consciousness is distinct from them.
When we really begin to work with consciousness, in an awakened way, we begin to strengthen that inner energy within ourselves. Consciousness is also understood as the Essence of the human soul. So an Essence is a synthesis, a seed of something. And in our tradition, we talk about how by working with consciousness by activating and awakening consciousness, we begin to develop the soul, to develop what is within us in a new way.
So one way to test our consciousness right now is: are you aware of your thumb on your right hand? Now you are, but you weren’t just a few minutes ago, maybe? Yeah! Right, well, and that is a good point. A lot of time our attention is focused on everything else that is going on. We are perceiving a very narrow bit of whatever is happening in the room. Right, so if we want to work with consciousness, to become more conscious, then we need to be always working to become more aware, to expand our consciousness in every moment.
Just like a muscle, the more that you use it, the more that you are able to perceive. However, if we are never working with consciousness, we are only perceiving a sliver of reality. In fact, we estimate that only about 3% of our consciousness is actually active. Whereas, if you looked at someone like a Buddha, who is totally awake and enlightened, you know they can perceive everything around them, everything within them, multiple dimensions of reality. That’s the ultimate goal we are striving for in our spiritual work, is to become awake, to be able to perceive things as they truly are, not just to perceive a narrow or a filtered view of reality.
From moment to moment, we can begin with a practice of just being aware of our body. It’s a great way to ground yourself. You know all the time we are walking around in our body, we are doing all kinds of things, but we are never aware of breathing or the way our eyes move around to look at things, right? Until suddenly we trip over something or we have this terrible pain in our back, then we are aware of our physical body. That is a good place to start, but, of course, with Gnosticism, we are seeking to go a little bit deeper even with that. We are seeking to become aware of the inner parts of our self, seeking to become aware of consciousness itself, our inner psychology, so we gain that self-knowledge.
But there is one barrier to becoming conscious, and that barrier is what we call ego. A common definition for ego is the self. In fact, the word is Latin for “I,” as in “me.” And another common definition we have for ego is an exaggerated sense of self-importance. So we can think of this with celebrities, right? They might walk into a room and demand certain things that other people wouldn’t ask for, that they might have a sense of themselves, that they are larger than life, even if physically we realize they have a physical body just like us. There might not actually be a physical difference in that person.
If you put them alone in the desert all by themselves, you know that sense of self isn’t going to save them, right? And yet we see that they have that exaggerated sense of self-importance. It might irritate us, in fact, that they move through life in that kind of way.
Now the trick is that all of us have that, not just celebrities, but we don’t catch it in ourselves as much because we haven’t trained ourselves to look for it. One of the fundamental practices of the gnostic is to train yourself to catch when your ego is getting carried away.
So in Gnosticism, the ego is a false self which filters our perception. It can also refer to a compilation of all kinds of egotistical desires that give us a sense of self.
We might, for example, be somebody that really loves hamburgers, and so that is a sense of “my identity.” “I love hamburgers and I might drive two hours just to be able to get the best kind of hamburger that I want.” So I am feeding a false self. The truth is that if I never saw a hamburger again, I would not die. I would be able to survive just fine. But because I have developed this sense of identity attached with that sensation of eating a hamburger, then it seems really real to me and I will do all kinds of crazy things just to get what I want.
This is a silly example―right?―hamburgers, but we can think about it with ourselves. How much do we do, how much do we sacrifice, to have a job that we believe other people will respect? Or to drive a car or have clothes that show a certain sense of self? How much do we do to feed our own addictions, and I don’t just mean drugs and alcohol, but addictions to different kinds of sensations, like our emotional addictions to drama. How many hours might we spend watching dramatic television shows?
Yet all of that is kind of a construction in our own mind. It does not have much to do with reality. It’s a sense of self that we feed and we make real, a psychological sense of our self-image that we believe very much is real. We will argue with people to the death, sometimes, to defend our sense of pride, but physically does not actually have a reality, does not have much to do with just the regular physical sensations of our bodies. It is exaggerated.
Now there’s actually a study that is going on at Ohio State University’s medical center where they talk about mind-wandering. So if we think about the consciousness, pure and free from any egotistical self-interference, that is what they would call in their study, it is a neuroscientific study, they would call it “on-task thinking.” So they are able to see in the brain that the brain exhibits different activity when we are in on-task thinking. That is when you are perceiving something just as it is, without any thoughts. You are just totally awake and you are there.
In addition to that, there are two levels of mind-wandering. So when you are perceiving something, let us say you are sitting in a class and you are perceiving something. The professor is going to talk about some problems that are going to be on the next test, and then you start to have your own commentary about it. That is the first level of mind-wandering. That is a performance based mind-wandering. You might be thinking, “Oh no, he just said that and I missed what he said, and am I going get that wrong on the next test?” You are still half aware of what is going on, but there is this other level of being concerned about your own performance. So it can be when you are listening to somebody talk and in your mind, you are disagreeing with everything they say. Then that can be the first level of mind-wandering.
And then a deeper level of mind-wandering is when we are just totally somewhere else. You know we are sitting there in that class and we are thinking about how we need to get to the grocery store to pick up the ingredients for enchiladas, so when we get home we are going to cook dinner. We are totally not there at all.
One of the studies that actually came out of Harvard about mind-wandering found that over 50% of our lives we are mind-wandering. Now you can measure that in the brain, a different activity pattern in the brain. But that people who engage in mind-wandering less are actually happier than people who engage in more mind-wandering. I bring up this example because a lot of the time we are thinking about the things that we want. We are fantasizing about that hamburger, right? We are not just perceiving the situation as it is. We are not just perceiving the painting of the flowers for what it is, but we are perceiving with our own filter of, “Well, I don’t really like the colors that they chose here.” Or, “Ooh, I really like the paint choice of that.” We are always bringing ourselves into situations rather than perceiving them with that pure consciousness, bright and awake. So before we say that is good or bad, it is just something to be aware of in ourselves, something that we want to observe.
The other element that we want to be able to observe and distinguish from ego and from consciousness is our personality.
We talked last time about how most of us believe who we are, is our identity in the world. You know, “My name, my age, my race, my culture, my job, my family,” that we believe all of those things are “who I am,” and we live our lives investing a lot of time into those things.
Commonly defined, the personality is “the totality of an individual’s behavioral and emotional characteristics.” And in psychology, we study personality as something that is relatively stable over time, that someone has a certain characteristic and that is just who they are and they are not going to change very much. So you will hear people who will maybe do something that really irritates other people. They will always defend it and say, “Well, that is just who I am. You need to accept me for who I am!” And sometimes the personality can become egotistical in that way. We can use different traits of our identity in the world to strengthen a sense of self, to make ourselves feel more real.
When we look at personality in an esoteric way, we look at the root of personality, which is persona, in Latin meaning “mask.” And in Gnosticism, we consider the personality as just a mask, that it is not the truth of our identity, but rather one superficial part of our identity.
Personality is neither good nor bad, but it is the way in which we can interact in the world. So we can look at is as an interface with the external world, which allows us to communicate and function in a particular time period and location. So if you had the personality of someone from ancient China, you would never fit in here. You would not eat the same things. You would not wear the same clothing. You would not speak the same language. You would not have the same customs. It would be very hard for you to fit in the world.
So we need a personality. We need these characteristics we inherit from our family, we inherit from our culture, from society and education, in order to be able to survive in the world. But, are we able to also look a little bit deeper into what is going on behind the personality? What is driving the personality?
When we are moving through the world, it is not just the interface that is acting, but it is our own conscious energy, our own psychology, that is expressing through that. When you are feeling very kind towards someone and acting towards them in a very loving way, you might be using the same language, the same mannerisms, to be able to communicate with that person. But it is a very different experience than when a few days later, you are furious with that person and you are shouting at them. You see there that distinction? The personality is the same. It allows us to connect with other people. But who do we have driving the car? That is the question.
I would like to quote from Gurdjieff, something he said about personality and about our own inner self, the deeper psychological self that we are seeking to study here with esoteric knowledge. Gurdjieff says:
“We have nothing of our own; everything that we put in our pocket is not our own―and on the inside, we have nothing.” ―Gurdjieff, Views from the Real World
So we do not want to find ourselves in that situation, where we have lots of material possessions. Everything that we put in our pocket, or even psychologically, we have a sense of self that has been given to us, a name that has been given to us, an identity prescribed to us by the world, but internally we have nothing of ourselves. We have nothing of our soul, nothing that carries on, as we mentioned last time, that carries on after death.
We want to develop our soul, that Essence, that seed, into something that is strong and vibrant, shining with a lot of conscious awareness. So that when we come to the end of our life and we have to give up our status, we have to give up our reputation, our wealth, our possessions, even our physical body, there is something that survives, right?
So this is our situation as we are. We can look at ourselves. This is just a conceptualization, a framework by which we can look at ourselves and examine ourselves. But where did it come from? Have we always had a consciousness? Have we always had an ego? And have we always had a personality?
If we think back to childhood, the early years of childhood, there was something different there. Unfortunately, this is starting to change now a days. Children are much less happy, but for most of us we can recall those first years of our life were very happy, were characterized by a state of bliss. We were free from the types of worries that we have now. I have a four year old niece and the way that she goes and interacts with toys and games, she is totally bright and present. There’s a lot of pure consciousness there. But unfortunately as we start to get older, as we enter school, and then later on as we enter into puberty and different psychological stages of development, in which we become very self-conscious and very aware of ourselves, all of that begins to change.
The sense of self that we have becomes more developed, becomes stronger, and we are no longer able to just perceive life the way that a child does. Now, it is true that children do not have the intellectual understanding of life that adults have, but they do have a very awakened perception of life that is something we lose sight of.
Many times we become distracted. We have all those wrong ideas of life, all those perceptions of life, that we mentioned earlier, that end up actually not being a perception of reality. And so we have lost something that the child has that we can reclaim by working on our own psychology.
The founder of the Gnostic movement is Samael Aun Weor, and he gave us this quote in his book about the Fundamentals of Gnostic Education. He wrote:
"The revolutionary psychology of the Gnostic movements, in a clear and precise manner, makes an in-depth distinction between the ego and the Essence [consciousness]. Only the beauty of the Essence manifests through the child during the first three or four years of life. Then, the child is tender, sweet, and beautiful in all his psychological aspects. However, when the ego begins to control the tender personality of the child, then all the beauty of the Essence begins to disappear and the characteristic psychological defects of every human being bloom in its place.” ―Samael Aun Weor, Fundamentals of Gnostic Education
So we see that at a certain age, children start to throw temper tantrums. And what are those tantrums about? They want their way. They didn’t get what they wanted. “Billy is playing with a toy and I want the toy. And so I am going to scream and have a fit and become miserable about the toy.” As adults we might smile at this, “Oh, that’s so silly that he is so upset about this toy when we know that twenty minutes from now he is going to be completely thinking about something else and will have completely forgotten about the toy. So why is he investing all this energy, crying and screaming and getting so upset about, it when it is not a big deal?”
But, we do the same thing when it comes to our money, when it comes to our car. We get into a car accident. When it comes to losing something that has value to us, we will freak out. We will be in misery if a check gets lost in the mail. We lose it. We do not perceive ourselves in that same way. Perhaps this is something that, yeah, is going to be inconvenient for us, it is going to be causing a little bit of time or effort or energy for us. But in the long run of things, is it really worth becoming so upset? Becoming so frustrated about it?
The Four Noble Truths
In part of Buddhism, they talk about the Four Noble Truths. Has anybody heard of those before?
The first is that life is suffering.
The second is that suffering is caused by desire, selfish desire, the false sense of self that we are talking about here. That “I want,” “I want reality to be a certain way that I want it to be, and if it is not that way then I am going to suffer and be miserable about it. And I will make everyone else miserable too.”
But the third is that there is a way to cease suffering.
And then the fourth is that the way to cease suffering is the eightfold path.
We talk a lot about Buddhism in the Gnostic studies, not in this particular topic that we are talking about today, but Gnosticism is on that same foundation. We invest a lot of energy in a false sense of self that is actually creating our misery. We think, “When I get that promotion then I’m going to be happy.” We desire that promotion and we work really hard. And maybe sometimes we are lucky and we get the promotion. But then we are not happy because we want something else. We want the next promotion, or “I am not getting the same credit the guy next to me is getting, so I’m not happy.”
We do not see that it is our own sense of self-importance that has crated our unhappiness. The important thing is not to change our physical life. It is not to renounce promotions or cars or clothing, you know. It is not the point. The point is our psychological relationship to life, that with this exaggerated sense of self, we are walking around expecting life to conform to the way we think it should be. We are actually not allowing ourselves to see life as it is. We are not allowing ourselves to be content with whatever is the experience of life: to be in tune with the experience of life, whether its happy or sad, whether it is raining outside or sunny―to just accept life as it is and continue to be, to be present, as an Essence, as a consciousness, as a soul, that gets to experience all the variety of life in its many manifestations.
Samael Aun Weor said something else about personality and Essence, to distinguish that for us. He wrote that we should:
"Understand: the human being is born with an Essence but not with a personality; thus, it is necessary to create the personality. Nevertheless, the personality and the Essence must be developed in a harmonious and balanced manner. [...] In the Essence, we have everything that we own; in the personality, we have everything that we borrowed. That is, in the Essence we have our innate qualities (our spiritual qualities, our soul), and in the personality we have the example of our elders, what we have learned at home, in school, and in the streets." ―Samael Aun Weor, Fundamentals of Gnostic Education
So we need both of these things. We need our personality. The personality gives us the chance to experience life and connect with others, to develop our soul through different types of experiences and learning. And we need the Essence, which allows us the conscious perception of those things.
We need the Essence to become active, because when the Essence is asleep we get into repetitive behaviors. We are just going around like a machine repeating everything by habit. When the Essence is awake, we are able to perceive life in a totally new way.
Is the Ego Really Necessary?
We need a personality and Essence that are developed in balance, but do we need an ego? Do we need a big sense of self?
I have a comparison here for you. You can think of somebody with a big ego like a talk show host or a radio host―or a sports celebrity or sports talk person. Those people who make a living off of having a big ego, exaggerate their personality. They become, maybe, extremely politically-opinionated or they are very aware of pop culture and everything that is going on with current events. They are able to use their personality in a way that is creating a strong persona, so that more people will listen to them. They find that entertaining. They love the types of jokes that that person always makes.
And so we look at a talk show host that has a lot of egotism and a big sense of self feeding that personality. But is there another side to the coin where we can have a different type of self behind the personality?
Solar or Divine Personalities
When we talk about great masters, when we talk about people like the Dalai Lama, or Leonardo de Vinci, or Buddha, or Jesus, we think of those people with what we term in Gnosticism as a solar personality, a personality that comes from the spirit within. So they are able to use the customs, the language, a physical cultural experience of life, but not to express a big sense of themselves, not to convince everybody that they are the smartest person and they know exactly what they are talking about and everybody should listen to them and follow them. They are able to just express divinity in a very bright, intelligent and pure way.
We can compare someone like that to a light bulb, in that the energy, the light of divinity, or the spirit within them, is very bright, and when they clean off all the grime on the glass, when they make their personality just that glass, that is pure of any egotistical filtering, then that light can shine more brightly.
You see a lot of power in those types of people. But it is not a power that tyrannizes others. It is not a power that oppresses or makes others feel less than. It is a power that people are drawn to because it is a natural power from God.
Balancing Essence and Personality
We mention that we need a balanced development, and I am going to read one more quote from Samael Aun Weor about that.
“In practicality we have been able to verify when the personality has developed in an exaggerated manner at the expense of the Essence the outcome is a swindler, so that’s a cheat or a charlatan. The observation and experience of many years have allowed us to comprehend that when the Essence is somehow developed without attending in the least to the harmonious cultivation of the personality, then the outcome is a mystic without intellect, without personality, of noble heart but inadaptable and incapable.”
"In practicality, we have been able to verify that when the personality is developed in an exaggerated manner at the expense of the Essence, the outcome is a swindler. The observation and experience of many years have allowed us to comprehend that when the Essence is somehow developed without attending in the least to the harmonious cultivation of the personality, then the outcome is a mystic without intellect, without personality―of noble heart, but inadaptable and incapable.” ―Samael Aun Weor, Fundamentals of Gnostic Education
So we talked last time about Fakirs, and I think Fakirs are a nice example here of the mystic without the personality developed. They might go off into the desert or into the woods and do all kinds of incredible feats of will power and renunciation, but are they able to come back into society and help others? Are they able to communicate? Do they have the skills necessary to be adaptable to different situations in life? They are developing a lot of Essence, their own Being, and that’s beautiful, but, unfortunately, it is a little bit out of balance.
In that first example, he is talking about a swindler, and we can think of con men, people that have that big personality, very charismatic, have a big sense of self, but do not have developed an ethical type of character. They do not have much consideration for their soul, for who they are inside, or for whom they hurt, so they do not have the ethics, the conscience of their actions.
We want a balance of both of these. We do not want to be too much a mystic without any ability to go and connect with others and to learn from life. But we do not want to be too much of someone invested in life and getting the most that we can squeeze out of it, hurting other people, without any development of the part of ourselves that is, hopefully, going to be immortal and survive after this life ends.
So Samael Aun Weor finished by saying:
“The harmonious development of personality and Essence brings as an outcome brilliant men and women." ―Samael Aun Weor, Fundamentals of Gnostic Education
So when we think of people like Mozart, Beethoven or Leonardo Da Vinci , Michelangelo, we can see that those were people that had a craft in the world, that really developed that to the highest pitch, but were also able to bring some aspect from their own creative consciousness, within their own spiritual soul, into the world through it, and gave us great works of art. And that is what we are striving for.
There is another quote from Gurdjieff that I want to share. Gurdjieff talks about the Essence and he talks about the personality, but he calls them knowledge and being. So the Essence would be the Being, that is that child who is just there, totally present to what is going on, bright and attentive. That sense of just being, being aware. And the personality would be the knowledge that we gain from external life, what other people teach us, our education in school.
Gurdjieff says that:
“People understand what ‘knowledge’ means. And they understand the possibility of different levels of knowledge. They understand that knowledge may be lesser or greater, that is to say, of one quality or of another quality. But they do not understand this in relation to ‘being.’ ‘Being,’ for them, means simply ‘existence’ to which is opposed just ‘non-existence.’ They do not understand that being or existence may be of very different levels and categories.” ―Gurdjieff cited by P.D. Ouspensky, In Search of the Miraculous
So just in the way that we can go to school and we can develop our knowledge, our personality, we can learn a lot of things about the external world. We can develop the Being. We can develop our Essence, our soul. And that is what our spiritual practice is geared towards. He says that being or existence may be of different levels, but some people exist in a state of misery, that their being is very low and they are suffering a lot. It is hard to get out of that state.
There are other people who exist on a high level of being. We talked about very extreme examples of people like saints, or buddhas, that have a lot of being, that emanate love and happiness even when they are burned alive at the stake, or persecuted. Those people have a very elevated level of being to still express compassion. So how do we develop that?
It begins by working with first seeing ourselves through practices like self-observation and meditation, and little by little coming out of our state of suffering. If we cannot be happy in spite of our difficulties, then what is the use of our spiritual practice? We are coming to these studies because we want to change. We want to understand ourselves so that we know how to change. How do we receive the guidance of divinity within ourselves? Not from anybody outside of ourselves, but from within our own direct experience. So we do not have to rely on ideas or theories about the way that life is, what we have been taught in school, but that we know from our own heart, from our own soul, what life is, and how we can come out of our suffering, how we can change in those types of ways.
So how do we ascend to those higher levels of being? How do we develop ourselves consciously, spiritually?
The Purpose of Essence, Ego, and Personality
I am going to finish this lecture with a section about the purpose of these three elements. Now that we have come to look at consciousness, ego and personality, and distinguish them a bit, how do we make them useful for our own development?
Gnosis is the path to self-knowledge. Just in that way that during our last talk we began to gain some self-knowledge about our habits, our predisposition, are we an overly intellectual person? Are we an overly emotional type of person? An overly physical instinctive type of person? In the same way, we should gain self-knowledge. We should train ourselves to be able to observe these elements of our own psyche.
So we talked about the Essence, that is the seed of the human soul, and how it can be developed through conscious works and upright efforts. If we are not becoming aware of ourselves from moment to moment, if we are not strengthening that muscle of the consciousness, then we are never going to develop it. We are not going to become aware of anything more than the little sliver which we are habitually always perceiving of life.
We need to be sure to awaken ourselves in an upright way. So the more that we work with our conscious willpower, the greater the effects of our actions are going to be. We talked last time how if we are working with consciousness in an imbalanced way, strengthening our egotistical sense of self, or working with consciousness so that we can control other people and get them to do what we want them to do, then we are going to develop in an inharmonious way and we are actually going to increase our suffering.
When we are working in an ethical way, when we are seeking to bring ourselves out of suffering, to not cause suffering for others, to awaken in that way, through upright efforts, then we are strengthening the soul free of any ego. The ego is the false self, can be considered as an inner adversary, because it is trapping us in the conditioning of believing “I want this. I need to get this.” And then when we spend years of our lives trying to get the certain job that we wanted so badly, and we are there and we are not happy anymore, then we are stuck with this exaggerated sense of self and in a state of misery.
But how do we become conscious? We do what we need to do to survive. We go to work, we take care of our families, do those things, but without a big egotistical attachment to it.
We also talk in this tradition about how the ego actually is a result of past error from past lives. So this is a tradition that believes in reincarnation and teaches reincarnation, and that is a lot of our predispositions, that we think “That is just naturally who I am,” can actually be a result of past errors in past lives.
We will talk more about it in another talk, but the way that we learn from ourselves is by accepting the ordeals that life brings us. Life brings us a variety of situations, and in those situations, which can be painful ordeals, we are able to begin to see ourselves as we are. We have a friend that is always talking down to us, really irritating us, activating our pride. That friend is actually giving us a chance to see an element of self. Now I am not saying, “Be friends with people who are abusive and really mean to you.” That is not the point. So do not go to extremes. But that in different situations in life, if we are humiliated or angered, or we are really wanting something very badly that we cannot have, we are able to see that self in a new way, especially if we are self-observing. And then if we are able to perceive that self in a deeper way, when we are meditating about what we have observed, we might be able to become free of it and be able to change.
Now I will use an example from my own life here in a moment, but I want to finish here about the personality being the mask to the external world. So we need the personality. It is not a bad thing. We need the personality to go through life and encounter those ordeals, so that we can learn about ourselves internally, and so we can learn about how to help other people. It is important. In an example to make this all a little more concrete for you, how do you actually work with self-observation and meditation to understand these types of things? I will give an example from a couple of years ago when I was first working with these types of practices.
I was in school and I had been assigned to a group project with two other people, two other students. We were randomly assigned a topic for our project. So we did not get to choose it. But I was glad about the topic because, you know, with my personality speaking here, it was something that I had many years of experience with and I really liked. The other two students in my group had no experience with it and did not really care for the topic. So I thought in this moment that I was going to be really helpful and volunteer to do the majority of the work. So I said, “You guys don’t worry about it too much, I’m going to do most of this. I know all about it, so you guys can just take it easy.” But as time went on and we were trying to work together, I realized that they were pretty irritated with me and they were shutting me out, doing parts of the project without doing that in a collaborative way.
So I began to be frustrated. My pride got hurt. I was like, “Why are these people being so hostile to me? I’m just trying to be helpful here!” Since I had been self-observing, after one of the meetings in which I felt they were treating me very coldly, I was meditating on it, because I choose to meditate especially on the things that are causing me suffering, trying to understand “Why am I suffering, and how do I make a change here?”
I had a strange experience in meditation. It was the first time it happened to me, where as I was just replaying the scene as it had happened, you know, as I observed it in a balanced way, with my three brains in equilibrium, suddenly I saw it from a completely different perspective, as though it was in third person, the way that those persons would have seen me. Now originally, in my egotistical perspective, I thought I was great. I was being helpful. I was just trying to do the right things for these people. But when I saw it from the perspective of another, in this experience of meditation, I saw a lot of pride, that I was being a know it all. I was not having any appreciation for the fact that even if they did not have years of experience with this topic, they might want to engage with the project. They might have opinions or insight or things that are valuable. I was not able to see that because of the egotistical filter at the time.
When I saw it in meditation, my experience of that situation totally changed. Rather than being angry at them and resentful that they were not treating me with respect, I was humbled. I felt terrible that I had not been appreciating what they were going to contribute to the project, and so from that point on, I changed. I gave them way more opportunities to share. I talked less about me and all the things I know. The project ended up going much better from that point. It went very well.
This might seem like a silly example, but it is just one small example of many things that we are doing throughout our life―many things that we have no awareness of how other people are seeing us. We walk into a room and we think everybody is seeing us in a certain way. We might walk in and think, “Oh, I am gonna sound so smart and everybody is gonna think I look so great!” Maybe, conversely, we walk into a room and think, “Everybody here is gonna hate me! Everybody’s looking down on me. Nobody here values me!” And none of that is reality. It is this false sense of who we are. It is an image of what we carry around within ourselves, of what we think other people think about us.
But authentic self-observation with the consciousness allows us to begin to perceive ourselves in a real way, especially when we are coupling that with meditation and what we have observed. We are able to go a lot deeper. And you know, because of this little change, this little story where I saw my pride, I was able to walk away from that. Then after I finished school and I got a new job, I was much more of a team player. I didn’t walk into every staff meeting talking and gloating about all the things that I knew and how I was the best person. I was able to appreciate what my colleagues have and to learn a lot from other people. If I had held on to that sense of pride I would not be able to learn.
And you know it is interesting that we see this a lot in other people. We all have that friend who is the one upper. “You went to NY last weekend? Well, I went to Paris, and I met with the Dalai Lama.” We know that person. We see that in other people and we know it is really irritating and we do not like it. We kind of roll our eyes, “Yeah, OK,” but why don’t we see that in ourselves? When we are in the lime light, when everyone is finally listening to us, we want to brag and get everybody to like us and think that we are great, maybe not in these exaggerated examples that I am giving, but in small ways, little ways.
We are not perceiving it most of the time, and we can see it in other people, because it shields us from seeing it in ourselves. We get frustrated and angry with other people. We project onto them and criticize their negative qualities because it is painful for us to see our own state. We need a really radical sense of sincerity and humility if we really want to be serious about achieving this type of self-knowledge in our own spiritual work.
Dolos, Prometheus, and Veritas (Truth)
So we can use myths in order to understand archetypes in ourselves. The Greek mysteries are very deep, and they give us a chance to understand psychological teachings. Sometimes people think that Greek myths are all about these gods in the past and pagan worship, and that they are literal figures. But if we use myths in a way to understand our own spiritual development and our own psychological processes, they can be very useful for us, here and now. Not in some ancient time, but here and now in our own psychological work.
“The myth of Dolos, spirit of deception. In Greek mythology, Dolos is the spirit of trickery and guile. He is also a master at cunning, deception, craftiness and treachery. He was the son of Gaia and Ether. The name Dolos is translated as “deception.” Dolos was also an apprentice of the Titan Prometheus. Dolos became known for his skill when he attempted to make a fraudulent happy statue of Veritas, in order to trick people into thinking they were seeing the real statue. He ran out of the clay he was using to create the statue and had to leave the feet unfinished as he quaked in fear as his master Prometheus looked over at his attempt of deceitfulness. To his surprise, Prometheus was rather amazed at the similarity between the statues, so Dolos then became a master at his crafty and tricky ways.” ―Excerpts from Wikipedia
The following account comes from Aesop’s Fables:
“Prometheus, that potter who gave shape to our new generation, decided one day to sculpt the form of Veritas [Aletheia, Truth], using all his skill so that she would be able to regulate people’s behaviour. As he was working, an unexpected summons from mighty Jupiter [Zeus] called him away. Prometheus left cunning Dolos (Trickery) in charge of his workshop, Dolos had recently become one of the god’s apprentices. Fired by ambition, Dolos (Trickery) used the time at his disposal to fashion with his sly fingers a figure of the same size and appearance as Veritas [Aletheia, Truth] with identical features. When he had almost completed the piece, which was truly remarkable, he ran out of clay to use for her feet. The master returned, so Dolos (Trickery) quickly sat down in his seat, quaking with fear. Prometheus was amazed at the similarity of the two statues and wanted it to seem as if all the credit were due to his own skill. Therefore, he put both statues in the kiln and when they had been thoroughly baked, he infused them both with life: sacred Veritas (Truth) walked with measured steps, while her unfinished twin stood stuck in her tracks. That forgery, that product of subterfuge, thus acquired the name of Mendacium [Pseudologos, Falsehood], and I readily agree with people who say that she has no feet: every once in a while something that is false can start off successfully, but with time Veritas (Truth) is sure to prevail.” ―Aesop, Fables 530 (from Phaedrus Appendix 5)
I want to talk more about this myth in our discussion so I’m going to break it down a little bit and then we will rap up and move into discussion.
So let us talk about some of the symbols in this myth. Hopefully you caught them. One of the main characters of the myth is Prometheus, who is actually teaching Dolos. Prometheus is a Greek word that means “forethought.” Prometheus is known for being a Titan that was very wise, who had the forethought of future things. He is credited with creating man from clay, like all of humankind he created. And he stole fire, the creative power of the gods, to give to mankind, so that mankind would be able to develop beyond the animals, so that mankind would be able to progress and create all kinds of feats and inventions and new ways.
The next character is Dolos. Dolos is the spirit of deception. Dolos actually means “deception.” And in the story he crafts a statue that is so well constructed that he almost fools his master, Prometheus. He is a trickster known in many other stories for being able to fool even the gods and get the gods to make mistakes. And when we look at these two statues, they are also very important. So, one statue is Veritas, the Truth. Veritas means “truth” actually.
Prometheus is this great archetype related with our consciousness, but actually, a much more elevated aspect of our own spirit and Being then we are going to get into today. When he creates Truth, he does it in order to create a form which can regulate human behavior. So we can think of Truth as an archetype for the soul that is something given to us spiritually, but that we have to develop. We have to give it life in order for it to guide us in living in a true way, perceiving reality in a true way, performing those upright actions.
The other statue, which is created by deception, his apprentice, is Pseudologos, which means “lie.” And that would be what we have been talking about, the false self. Our own self-deception fuels our own creative power into creating a false self that does not have any feet, spiritually speaking, does not get us anywhere. And in the end, when we have given our life to both statues, we will be able to see, like Prometheus does, which one can walk and which one doesn’t get anywhere.
When we continue to fuel the false self, we are stuck in our tracks. In the beginning, it looks really great. It might look the same even. That is the way it is with a lie. It starts off well, but then over time, the truth prevails. The truth comes out. We want to study our lives in a way where we can begin to discern between these two elements.
Now a little back story about Prometheus is that he had a brother. The brother’s name was Epimetheus, which means “hindsight.” Prometheus is an archetype of foresight and Epimetheus an archetype of hindsight, someone who learns from the past, is not able to predict what is going to happen next, is not able to act wisely and intelligently to take steps in a way that are positive. He is someone who makes lots of mistakes and has to learn from, unfortunately, the suffering from those mistakes. You can see a correlation there. In this myth of Prometheus, it says:
"After the gods have moulded men and other living creatures with a mixture of clay and fire, the two brothers Epimetheus and Prometheus are called to complete the task and distribute among the newly born creatures all sorts of natural qualities. Epimetheus sets to work but, being unwise, distributes all the gifts of nature among the animals, leaving men naked and unprotected, unable to defend themselves and to survive in a hostile world. Prometheus then steals the fire of creative power from the workshop of Athena and Hephaistos and gives it to mankind." ―Olga Raggio, The Myth of Prometheus
So Epimetheus is a symbol here of our own lower qualities, our lower state of being. He is giving all of the best forces that we have, our life, our energy, to those qualities of anger, of pride, of envy, of greed. He is giving it to the animal nature that we have within. And because of that the human part of us, the highest archetypes, as what we see as an ideal for humanity, human virtue, goodwill for others, love and wisdom and reason, there is no energy left for that. They are left naked and unprotected and unable to defend themselves in a hostile world.
Prometheus is the other side of this. Prometheus steals that creative power from the gods, the consciousness, and gives it to mankind to develop, to progress, to make them higher than the animals. In our spiritual work, that is what we are seeking to do. We are seeking to move from that level of being that is characterized by suffering, by repetition, animal types of desires. We are seeking to move into a human state that emanates love and reason and wisdom, that sees reality from a higher perspective.
So I kind of already talked about this but we can see that these archetypes and the great myths relate to ourselves. Prometheus is being a creator of our life. In the myth he breathes life into both statues and puts them into the kiln. And in the same way we are taking our consciousness and we are breathing it into a false part of ourselves, with the false identity that we are clinging to and feeding with a lot of our time and energy. And we are also breathing that life into pure parts of ourselves, our love, our creativity, all the things we have to offer the world. And by doing that we are able to, if we are aware, if we are self-observing and meditating, to perceive which one is reality, which one is helping us to rise out of suffering and which one is causing us to remain trapped in greater states of suffering.
Two examples of the ego: we have Epimetheus, afterthought, hindsight, and we can have Dolos, which is our own self-deception, that intentionally or unintentionally we are deceiving ourselves a lot of the time to believing we are somebody that we are not. Sometimes it can be a good thing. We are believing ourselves to be somebody better than we are. We like to think that we have got it all figured out, we are the guy that is reliable and nobody else is as good as us. Or sometimes we can have a self-deception that “I’m incompetent. I’ve got nothing to offer and nobody is going to listen to me,” and any variety in between there.
But we are not perceiving ourselves as we really are, so we need to train ourselves to awaken consciousness to be able to do so.
As I mentioned earlier, the two statues are representing aspects of our personality, that personality being driven by a false self-image. Is it something that we are feeding and we are developing our personality a lot for our own egotistical gain, for our own sense of self and getting what we want, feeding our desires? Or is it a personality that embodies the truth, the divine archetype of our soul, that does not need any egotism, but can shine with a lot of radiance and power, to be able to live in a wise and compassionate way?
So I am going to finish here with two quotes from Samael Aun Weor.
The first he talks about two consciousnesses, referring to these two statues that we just learned about. He says:
“…we must get to know, to be able to comprehend, that the human being is divided into two consciousnesses: the true and the false.
“When one comes to this world, one brings within the essence all the data (which is deposited by nature) that one needs for the inner Self-realization of the Being. But, what happens? One is put into schools where one receives a false education and much advice and precepts that are futile. In the end, one creates a false consciousness. The true consciousness within, with the deposited data that one needs to follow the footsteps, to follow the path, to arrive at the liberation of the Being, remains at the bottom, sadly categorized with the name of subconsciousness.” ―Samael Aun Weor, The Revolution of the Dialectic
He goes on to say:
“Therefore, we have to throw away all that constitutes our false consciousness in order to cause our true consciousness to emerge to the surface so that we can work with it. This shows us that in order to work psychologically, that is, in order to put the true wisdom into play, one needs to become a child, to become an infant, a baby, stripped of all theories.” ―Samael Aun a Weor, The Revolution of the Dialectic
So as a child we are talking about that state of cognizant awareness of life, perceiving things as they are, perceiving reality as it is, not as we wish it would be. Not a child in a naïve sense, but a child with the purity of the spirit and with the wisdom of experience.
So that means that we need to begin to strip ourselves of some of the theories. Sometimes we cling to our idea about life or the way that other people are, “what I need to do to get ahead,” all these theories might not actually have a basis in reality. They might be things we have been told by other people, things that sound good. It is only by working with our own consciousness, our own self-observation, our own meditation and guidance from within, becoming a child of divinity, that we are able to grow psychologically and spiritually to increase our true self. But we need to be able to abandon our self-deception in order to do that. As long as we are clinging to our idea and believing that the way that “I am perceiving life right now is how it is and I’ve got it figured out,” we are never going to see it in a new way. We are just going to keep repeating and living off of that.
So a question for us to finish with is, “What is false in us?” Hopefully, as we have been talking and giving some examples, you have been able to think about yourself a little bit. What we are going to close on with our discussion is considering, with a radical sincerity, with total honesty with ourselves, what it is that we have been investing our lives into, spiritually speaking, that does not have any spiritual significance? It is not to discard our duties to our family, to our jobs, to our society. It is not to run away from our responsibilities, but to use those as places in which we can self-observe, in which we can meditate on our life and use life as a school for our own spiritual development, to develop the truth of ourselves, to become those brilliant men and women that were mentioned earlier.
It is only first by seeing the lie that we are going to be able to renounce it. As long as you do not see the lie, or you believe that it is the truth, you will never be able to see beyond it. So we need to start by looking at ourselves, not at other people, not at anything else going on in the world. Until we can see ourselves, then we are not able to see anything else. We start with self-knowledge and then we grow in knowledge of other aspects of reality, the universe and divinity.
Do you have any questions?
Comment: I do have a comment on the last slide that you showed us, you must become a child… Jesus quote… to enter the kingdom of heaven you must become a little child…
Instructor: Yes, he says, “Verily I tell you, unless you change and become as children you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” It is in the Book of Mathew. It is the same sentiment exactly, that when we are hoping to reach a higher level of being, we have to first become pure like a child.
This is a transcription of an audio lecture from Introduction to Gnostic Studies, originally given live at the Gnostic Academy of Chicago.
So that term γνῶσις gnosis, in Greek, means “knowledge.” But it does not mean knowledge of a scholarly type, something that we learn by going to university or from reading a book. It is knowledge that we gain from our experience of life, and consciousness. It is personal to each person.
And so every religion, every meditative tradition, teaches gnosis in its depth―a type of experiential wisdom which is beyond labels, and terms―although many different teachers have used different terms to refer to the same thing.
If you have studied meditation from Buddhism or Judaism, even the early Church Fathers of the Christian tradition too, practice meditation. You find that they all refer to the same thing, the same principles. And so at this school we like to go at the heart of what these traditions teach, primarily because some of the techniques from these traditions are very useful, very helpful for answering a particular type of problem that everyone is experiencing on this planet now, and has for many ages― and that is the problem of suffering.
It is very easy to look at the news to see how afflicted humanity is, whether from the East or the West. Despite the great accomplishments of some of our greatest teachers, or philosophers, the efforts of any type of authority figure to resolve this issue of suffering, have always ended badly.
We see that people’s efforts to try to resolve social problems, political problems, religious problems, traumas, psychological issues, we find that many people always like to go to the external world. “If I just fix this situation, if I change my job, if I associate with these people, if I do these things externally, I am going to be very happy.”
But the reality is that, we change situations and tend to carry that type of problem with us, wherever we go. And it is very easy to want to blame politicians and the external world for all of the chaos that is going on, and of course, those people are liable for their own actions, but blaming those people does not necessarily help us to resolve our own issues.
Such as at work. I know in my position at my current job, I work with clients who can be very difficult, very challenging, people who have suffered a lot of trauma, and rather than getting angry at them when they have been disrespectful to me, I have learned to transform my own mind, my own state, because I cannot blame them for what they have been through, and I cannot judge them that they are really to blame for what is going on. But the truth is, by changing who we are psychologically, we can be more serene in difficult situations.
And so, every tradition teaches that suffering comes originally from inside, our own state of mind. I believe the Dalai Lama was interviewing some Buddhist monks who had escaped the Chinese. They were exiled from Tibet, and the Chinese soldiers had done horrible things, crimes against humanity. And I remember that one of these monks spoke to the Dalai Lama, or the Dalai Lama asked him, “While you were imprisoned amongst the Chinese, what was the greatest danger that you faced?” And the monk said very serenely, “losing my compassion for my enemies [the Chinese].”
So I know it is a natural sentiment to want to feel angry at these people who harmed us, who caused us pain, but at the same time, if we hold on to anger, that makes us vibrate at a very low level of being. It is important that, yes, we feel a sense of indignation for the wrongs that are committed, but we can find that being angry and worried all the time does not make us any happier. Why hold on to these emotions that are so painful? It does not mean that we ignore what the Chinese are doing, or what so-and-so is doing, because one can act from a state of consciousness that is free of anger, but is severe, but not angry, not violent, not resentful.
And those are qualities of consciousness that are very elevated, in which we find in teachers like Jesus, or the Buddha, or Moses, or Krishna. These are people who were once like us, but who through the science of meditation, learned to transform their own imperfections and become great people, very wise beings, who knew how to handle situations with a state of equanimity, of calm.
So the question that we are going to ask in this lecture is, where does suffering come from? Where does it originate, and more importantly, how do we overcome it? I know the case of the Dalai Lama speaking with the Buddhist monk is a very extreme case, but some of that is very illuminating. Part of Buddhist practice is that one has compassion even for one’s worst enemies―primarily because, those people who are so violent and angry and terrible, do not want to suffer either. The problem is that they are confused. They do not understand that their actions produce the harm of others, the suffering of others.
And it is a natural feeling to want to demonize those people: “They really are, truly, inhumane,” “They did this and this,” “They are not even human beings,” we could say. But in reality, even the worst people have consciousness. But unfortunately, they have conditioned themselves so much, that they do not understand that what they do is harmful―which is why even Jesus on the cross said, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).
Very powerful statement of profound compassion for one’s tormentors. Freedom or happiness is internal, and yes, while the external world can be more terrible and we can continue to feel so overwhelmed and anguished, and resentful and fearful about what is going on, those emotions do not help us to resolve the problems that are outside of us.
If we learn to be more at peace with ourselves and do not identify with the negativity of others, from a state of equanimity, we can handle any situation, and therefore produce our own happiness. But also, even more importantly the happiness of others: to bring communities together, to bring people to resolutions, at peace.
So in this image we have a human figure with a lock over his head, primarily because I wanted to make the point that the mind in itself, our human potential, is so vast, but we comprehend so little of it, what is possible for us. We have to learn to see that―if we do not know our full potential, you could say, in a manner of speaking, that we do not necessarily know all of that which is possible for us, or who we could be, what we can become. But we do have people, figures like Jesus or Buddha, or Krishna, what ever great luminary from any tradition who exemplified such beauty.
That is possible for us, to have such happiness or selflessness, compassion, altruism, humility, faith, strength in the worst circumstances. Those are qualities that are natural to consciousness, but which we have to learn to find more and more as we go through the trials of our life, but we can develop through the science of meditation.
The Purpose of Meditation
We like to emphasize that meditation is not simply just to relax, but that is the beginning. If you cannot relax your body, cannot relax your mind, you cannot go deep. You cannot examine that which needs to be examined. And so by examining ourselves, we have the key, and meditation is the key by which we can unlock our real potential, our real possibilities.
As I said, the word Gnosis in Greek means knowledge, and you find it in every tradition. It is the wisdom of consciousness. It means to awaken parts of our consciousness that are dormant, things that we do not know of. I believe medical science says that we only use about 3% of our human brain, and that there are many aspects even of our physicality, our mind, that we do not know about. And so, it is possible to awaken more and more and develop more and more beauty in our life, more compassion, more serenity, more strength.
The Four Noble Truths
The way that we can develop that knowledge is by examining this particular model which is from Buddhism, which as I said, we study all traditions. But the Buddhist model of the Four Noble Truths has something very interesting that we can examine.
It says that “in life there is suffering,” and the Pali term is “Dukkha.” The word suffering or Dukkha can also mean “dissatisfaction, displeasure,” sometimes even “disgust.” It means to have a dissatisfaction with the way things are, which is why any one of us comes to any type of tradition to study meditation or religion, or any type of world faith. It is because people are tired of suffering. They do not know what to do.
And he also said that “suffering has causes,” (Samudaya) so there are causes of suffering. And this is the distinction, the step that most people tend to get caught up on―too much externalizing, saying “the external world is to blame.” But we should ask the question about ourselves, and things that we do in our life that may make us more happy or more sad, more afflicted or more at peace. I am sure we all can identify certain actions in our life that really made a difference for others, or even for ourselves.
And so there are causes to suffering, which do not originate from the external world, but, if we are more aware, we can see that. Really in our own selves, we have all the keys to produce the happiness of the world or the pain of the world, and those causes are psychological.
As the Buddha taught, our state of mind produces our life. It is a very revolutionary type of thinking. Who we are mentally and emotionally is what interacts with the world. If our states of being are negative, if we are angry or violent, or resentful, and that radiates out to others, we in turn experience negativity.
Obviously when we are resentful or angry towards our loved ones, our spouse, they react the same way, and then that tension and that pain escalates, becomes more elevated and extreme, to the point that families break, communities fall apart, religions degenerate, politics become scenes of animalistic behavior, instinctual behavior and violence, not just physically, but verbally. So, we see that those causes of suffering are inside: we produced the state of the world that we are in.
So “the causes of suffering also can cease,” and this is the next step, which is very beautiful―that there is a way to remove those causes of pain, which are within us―things that we can control, not the external world. But things that we do in our life that can make us suffer or be in pain, are the things that we can change.
So the causes of suffering can be eliminated, and the term in Sanskrit is Nirvana. Nirvana simply means “cessation,” to cease suffering, to end suffering. It is a state of mind. And I am pretty sure we all can verify that truth for ourselves, that suffering can cease.
I know in my position, where I work, I have had some very difficult people come to me and criticize, and in those moments of being confronted and feeling that tension, and the fear and the thoughts of “Oh, I am being put on the spot here,” that anxiety. From a state of meditation―because meditation is not just sitting to reflect, but also in our daily life, how we are opening ourselves up to the new―I had the intuition and realized that, I have to listen to this person and not be reactive, to not react to that problem, but to learn to be patient. By learning to respond with love and kindness to that situation, those causes of suffering had ceased. I deescalated a situation that could have been bad.
I am sure we all could think of examples of this in our own life. That is a very introductory level of what that truth is, but in a deeper sense, by learning to meditate, we can understand where anger comes from, where fear comes from, where insecurity, fear, resentment, pride, all these qualities of mind which are sources of affliction for us in the long run.
We could find that those causes can cease, and that “there is a path” that leads to that end [cessation of suffering]. That path is called meditation. And so, meditation, as I was saying, is not just about sitting to relax the body. As I said, that is the first step. We want to relax the body to the point that we want to feel that we are about to fall asleep, that we are so calm that the body is ready to enter, we are about to enter into physical sleep.
And it is from that state of calm that we can learn to calm the mind next. We have a calm body, we have a calm mind. And in that way, we can learn to be more attentive and aware of ourselves, either in daily life or when we sit to practice. So that, by learning to go inside, we can comprehend the sources of our own emotional states, our own psychological states.
So a lot of people talk about freedom, and this ties very much deeply into this study of meditation, because meditation is about becoming free. I know a lot of countries and politics and revolutions are very fascinated with this term freedom, and ironically, people even kill in the name of it.
To be free physically is one thing. Especially in North America, we have certain freedoms which are envied by the world. Freedom to eat what we want, believe what we want, marry whom we want, travel wherever. We tend to have a lot of freedoms which are envied by other countries, but this all in itself is not necessarily a real sense of freedom, because all of those things can change, as we are seeing even in our politics, border control, immigration policies, things that are going on that are constricting the life of people in this country, but also in other places too.
So those things can change. Those are temporary, but real freedom is a state of being: to be free from suffering, from anxiety, from fear, from pain, from traumas. And as the founder of the modern Gnostic tradition, his name is Samael Aun Weor, he wrote a book called The Great Rebellion, which is a book about rebelling against one’s own negativities, and acquiring genuine happiness.
Freedom is something that can only be achieved within ourselves. No one can achieve it outside of themselves. “Riding through the air,” is a very Eastern phrase which allegorizes the sense of genuine freedom. No one can really experience freedom while their consciousness remains bottled up inside of the me, myself, the “I.” ―Samael Aun Weor, The Great Rebellion
So this is a very powerful statement.
Consciousness can experience freedom, but only when it is not bottled up inside of this sense of “me, myself, I.” The desire of “what I want,” “what I crave,” “what I need.”
I know a lot of people like to think that, “I think therefore I am. I think this way. I believe in this tradition, or, I am from this race. I am from this culture. I am from this religion. Me, me, me, me, me!”
Even in pop psychology we talk a lot about ego. Someone with a big ego we think of someone as, like, maybe, in politics, or in a position of authority in our world, “Oh, they have a very big ego. They only think about themselves, do what they want.” And we have many examples of this. But even in a more fundamental level, we all have ego, and the word ego in Latin simply means “I.”
Anytime we say: “I want, I crave, I need, I want to do this. I want to ride my bike. I want to get a new job. I want this, I want that”―this sense of self is called ego, “I.” As I was explaining about the Four Noble Truths, we say that there are causes of suffering, and those causes are internal. So, on a fundamental level, the sense of “I,” “what I am,” “what I want,” “what I crave,” we could say, in Buddhist terms, is the cause of suffering.
But we have something else besides ego. We have that which is called consciousness. And consciousness is simple the capacity to perceive. It is the ability to understand, to know, to experience. For example, you are in your kitchen and there is a hot stove, and you accidentally put your hand on it and you get burned. You pull your hand back, and you become conscious of that experience that you burned yourself and got injured, and so you are now more aware of being in the kitchen and aware of one’s surroundings.
So that is a form of Gnosis, in a very basic level―knowledge. So, this sense of self, “me, myself, I,” does not come first. We can actually say that, the ability to experience as a consciousness is different from ego. We could say that ego is a type of condition, is a shell. It is a type of negative quality of mind. Such as anger, which is a sense of self which is very violent, even not physically, mentally or verbally. It is a sense of self that desires and says, “He hurt me.” “She did this.” “I deserve better!”
What we do not realize is that, in those moments in which we are investing ourselves in that emotion, that we are draining a lot of energy. We feel depleted. We do not necessarily resolve our problems, and that sense of self is a trap.
At least this is what all traditions of meditation teach, that according to Buddhism, desire is a cause of suffering. And desire is anger. It is fear. The logic of fear says, “I need to do better at my job or I am going to get fired, and I am not going to be able to support myself.” That fear has its own thoughts and logic, and the reasons we tell ourselves we have to do “this, this and this,” and we are caught in this wheel of tension and anxiety and pain and fear and uncertainty.
So regardless of the fear, we may be doing excellent at our job, and yet, there is that emotional state that does not want to believe that we are capable or good enough. I am sure many people have that experience.
So where is our freedom? If we are caught in that sense of self that says “I want,” “I need,” “I need to get a better job,” “I am not being treated here well,” “I am not getting paid enough,” “I am not getting what I need when I want,” we are enslaved. So that type of thinking is very exhaustive. I am sure, if we are honest, we can say that we get very drained by this type of thinking. It wastes energy physically. It wastes energy mentally, and it is a state of pain.
So what Samael Aun Weor is saying in this quote, is that our consciousness―that part of us which religions call soul, that which is really divine, that is our connection with the divine itself―is trapped. Our consciousness is trapped in anger, fear, pride, and states of being which are causes of suffering for us.
And this is a very difficult thing to discriminate and to see in oneself because, we like to say, “I know myself,” “I know who I am, where I am from, what I believe in; my gender, my race,” whatever. And yet, despite the fact that we say we know ourselves, we continue to repeat problems.
Or problems repeat that we cannot seem to get or understand: “I do not understand where this is coming from, or how to resolve this,” but what if we ask the question that few people really ask is, “How am I contributing to the problem? What if the problem is not outside but something inside of me?”
I was giving the example of being at work and we could be doing a really great job. People really respect us, really admire us, and yet we have that fear that says “I am not good enough.” This is a kind of common emotion you find in many places that really fuel this machinery of industry―people feeling like they are not good enough. They always have to prove something: “I have to prove myself in this situation, in this circumstance.”
But we do not realize we are wasting energy. We are actually investing our consciousness in these states which, we can say, put us in a state of sleep. We are not really aware of what is going on in the situation. Such as at work, you may feel like “Hey, I am not doing well,” but then people say “No, this is excellent!”
You are being observed, or people comment and make the compliment that they really respect you as an individual, so it is like “Oh! That is shocking.” You know, that is one minor example. So our consciousness should be free, expansive, liberated, serene, peaceful, happy, loving, compassionate, pure states of consciousness that are very divine. Those should be more developed in us, but unfortunately, our tendency in our daily life is to invest ourselves in negativity and reactions and problems.
So that sense of “me” or “myself” or “I” we call ego. And this sense of self, according to Buddhism or any tradition, they say that, this sense of self we tend to grasp onto, is the cause of suffering. So, the question is, how do we resolve that? How do we confront this sense of self we have, and learn to comprehend it better? Maybe even eliminate it, because consciousness, our true potential, is trapped in those states. If we extract them, we can develop more consciousness, and that is what meditation is for―expanding consciousness, working on our imperfections so that we can become truly happy, great beings.
Understanding the myself, “my persona, what I am,” is imperative if we sincerely wish to attain freedom. There is no way we can destroy the fetters of our enslavement without previously and totally comprehending this question of “mine” and all that concerns the me, myself, the “I.” What constitutes slavery? What is it that keeps us enslaved? ―Samael Aun Weor, The Great Rebellion
Now of course this is very strong language, but if we are honest, we can see that, are we not enslaved to a certain quality of mind that repeats all the time? Family problems, conflicts with our neighbors, or whomever, or spouse? We tend to be enslaved to suffering. And this is the great dilemma that, I believe even Shakespeare wrote in his play Hamlet, “To be or not to be, that is the question,” in a kind of allegorical sense.
So it is good to question ourselves: what constitutes slavery? “What are my habits and problems and ways of being that I keep repeating, that other people are pointing at me?” Because sometimes other people see us better than we see ourselves. You know, we tend to think that we are a certain way but, sometimes a lot of people may not agree.
“...What constitutes slavery? What is it that keeps us enslaved? What are the obstacles? We must discover all of this.” ―Samael Aun Weor, The Great Rebellion
What is the Mind?
Which brings us to the next question: who are we? We have been talking a little bit about what ego is, what the self is. So what is the mind? Even our best scientists and doctors and philosophers have been struggling with this question for centuries, to figure out, what are we, fundamentally? What is the mind? What is thought? What is emotion?
So we have included an image of a man pondering this thought, with a bunch of gears and machinery images of wheels above it. I picked this image because sometimes our ways of thinking can get very mechanical. We tend to go through our day with certain routines: getting up for work, getting up for or going to our job, interacting in certain ways with people, and the thing that we can question is, what are our mechanical ways of behaving?
When certain situations arise, how do we respond? What is our typical attitude? This is something that we can question in ourselves and ask: “Well, why do I react towards this person who is very irritating? Why am I irritated by what this person or what this client says?”
Unfortunately, we do not tend to ask that question. We just feel irritated and we want that person to go away, or to not be associated with them, but it is an interesting question to ask.
“Why am I thinking this way or behaving this way to this person?”
This is what meditation is for, asking that question, “Well, why am I behaving negatively to that person, or feeling like I am justified?” Maybe that person―and this is a Buddhist question that we can ask ourselves―what if that person has some type of concern about us, that we are not treating them well? And the psychology that we kind of go through, the kind of gears, the machinery that we go through, is that we tend to want to blame others, and not look at ourselves.
Whether or not that person is wrong, it would be interesting to ask that question, “Well, why am I reacting to that person? Why am I thinking that? Why do I feel agitated? Why do I want to one-up this person? Why do I want to prove them wrong?” Because usually what we do not see is that, in that moment in which we are criticizing the other person, even just mentally and not verbally, we are suffering. We are stuck in the wheel of life, the wheel of mechanicity.
The mind, we can say, according to Buddhist concept, is where we have thought, experience thinking, even our emotional states. The western psychological tradition calls it ego, “I,” but we also could say it is desire. Again as I was saying, “what I want, what I crave, what I need,” and we always tend to be stuck in this type of thinking that says, “I want to fulfill my desires until the day I die, and whatever happens next, I do not know.”
But, honestly, if we ask ourselves, is that a kind of life worth living? I believe we mentioned that Socrates mentioned: “the unexamined life is not worth living”? Not asking those deep questions about, why are we the way we are? Why are we so convinced that we are right, and other people are wrong? But it is interesting even, in meditation, to ask this question “What am I? Who am I?”―and to constantly examine ourselves.
This is the basic beginnings of what meditation is, so that by learning to develop consciousness, we can go beyond thought, go beyond feeling, go beyond the body. And this is the major distinction that religions or, the original heart of those traditions taught, is that, the consciousness is not anger or thought or even feeling. It is something more dynamic, more beautiful, more profound―something free and liberated. It is spontaneous action that does not need to think.
It is the love of a mother that saves her child when in danger. It is a state of fearlessness, and there is a whole range of emotion and qualities that are not what we like to typically say we experience, but something even more beautiful―love, selflessness, strength. But of course in order to develop those qualities in us, we can learn how to, in moments of great crisis, examine who we are in those moments.
I am pretty sure we had cases in our life where, something terrible happened and we reacted badly or poorly, to the point that we came back and apologized to the person and said, “I am sorry I did not realize what I had done was wrong. I was so overcome at that moment.” And that is a type of hindsight, right? It is better than no sight, but there is a way to have foresight in the moment: we do not react and cause problems and pain for our family or loved ones, or anyone, and learn to transform the situation.
In that way, and by going home to meditate, we can learn to understand why we acted how we did. If you are familiar with the myth of, in the Middle East, I think it is The Thousand and One Arabian Nights, there is the story of the genie and Aladdin's lamp. I mentioned that quote from Samael Aun Weor; he said that “So long as the consciousness is bottled up within the ‘me,’ ‘myself,’ the ‘I,’ we will continue to suffer.”
So in that Arabian myth, that piece of literature, the story is that by rubbing the lamp, a genie can come out and can grant any wish. It is a symbol of our consciousness. It can grant anything we wish and need for ourselves, a state of beauty or, any type of contentment we seek. Of course, the bottle is what traps the genie. You break the bottle, you free the genie. It is a symbol, which we can accomplish in meditation, but first we have to learn to examine the difference between the mind and the consciousness.
I also use the term divinity. I did not use the term God, primarily because the word God has a lot of baggage. There are a lot of traumas associated with that term. When people think of some type of figure like God or a deity, they think of some anthropomorphic old man in the clouds with a beard who dispenses lightning to a poor anthill of a humanity. So that type of God, according to Friedrich Nietzsche, does not exist, which is why he said “God is dead”―at least the idea of some kind of person outside of us, that is organizing everything.
We do not refer to divinity as God, or at least try not to, because where someone had a certain religious upbringing and certain traumas, that can cause a lot of pain for people. Instead we like to use the term Being, and I think this term more accurately represents what divinity is. It is a state of mind, of Being, or a state of consciousness. So Being means to be, to be here and now, to be alert, to be attentive. The Being is not outside, but inside our heart, our consciousness.
Divinity is a quality like love, selflessness, compassion, but is very far beyond our concepts of what love and compassion is. It is a state that we can taste, and that we probably have tasted in our lives at some point, but they were temporary. They went away. That is why certain people, or a lot of people come to any type of tradition, is because they had that experience and they think “Well how do I repeat that?”―and they do not know how.
A state of love and selflessness or compassion, or faith, of understanding, or certain situations working out for one’s benefit. So we want to ask ourselves: how can we earn that and repeat that? That is why we have meditation.
The Being and the Mind
We make a difference between, a distinction between, this Being, our Being, our divinity, and the mind. We could say Being has no form, although all the religious traditions have used forms to represent divinity, whether it be Mother Mary, Jesus, certain scripts or languages, representing, like in Islam, they do not represent God; they just use certain letters to represent Divinity. Or amongst the Aztec and the Maya, they use certain sculptures and images to represent qualities of the Being, which is an infinite spectrum.
This does not mean that there are many gods, separate gods, or that there is just one God. In fact, consciousness is, or the Being can be universal. It is one thing, but can manifest and express in different ways, which is why whether polytheistic traditions or even the monotheistic traditions share the same roots. The problem is that the people of those traditions have adulterated their understandings, thinking that there is only one or the other. But the truth is that, divinity is one light, but can express in many ways.
Those are qualities of Being. We make a distinction between the mind and the Being. The mind is the intellect where we think, and I am sure we can see in ourselves that, if we overthink certain problems, we do not get anything done.
I believe it is a common experience amongst business practitioners where, they will be at a meeting for hours, and try to think out a problem, and they do not resolve anything. Then they say, “Okay let’s take a break, get some coffee for five minutes.” They walk away, and when they are not thinking of anything, suddenly [snaps fingers] the insight comes and they are like “Ah-ha!” That is how divinity works. They come back to the meeting all energized and excited, and many people have that experience and they say, “I know what to do now.”
Overthinking and thinking and thinking does not resolve anything. Of course, we need the intellect to be able to exist in this society, because the intellect or the mind is a machine. It can store information that we need to interact with people, like that previous image we looked at with the gears turning. The mind is useful, but it has to be under the service of our consciousness.
Of course, distinguishing between consciousness and thought in the beginning is very difficult, but something we can develop more and more through meditation.
Samael Aun Weor in the book, The Spiritual Power of Sound, wrote something very interesting about this distinction:
“The mind only serves as a hindrance to the Being (the Innermost).” ―Samael Aun Weor, The Spiritual Power of Sound
The term we use for the Being is the Innermost, and that term comes from the Western Esoteric tradition. Innermost means, that which is our inner true identity, within us. So as I was saying, thought is a hindrance. We think too much about a problem, we do not resolve anything, whereas intuition or the Being [snaps fingers] knows. We know how to solve a situation without having to think. That is a quality of the being.
“The mind does not know anything about Reality. If thought knew Reality― the Innermost, the Being―then all people would already be comprehensive...” ―Samael Aun Weor, The Spiritual Power of Sound
Meaning if the intellect was the way, this world would be a better place, but the question is, well if humanity is not getting any better right now, if there is only more wars and conflict and violence on this planet, we have to question our method. What are we doing wrong? That fundamental basis is trying to resolve things with the intellect, the mind, and not more with the heart, with understanding.
“It is completely impossible to experience the Being―the Innermost, the Reality―without becoming true technical and scientific masters of that mysterious science called meditation. It is completely impossible to experience the Being―the Innermost, the Reality―without having reached a true mastery of the quietude and silence of the mind.” ―Samael Aun Weor, The Spiritual Power of Sound
We will conclude with a quote that emphasizes this point. It is from a Buddhist master by the name of Nagarjuna. He wrote in The Precious Garland something very interesting:
“Scratching an itch brings pleasure, but more pleasurable than that is not having an itch. Likewise, satisfying worldly desires is pleasurable, but more pleasurable than that is not having desire.” ―Nagarjuna in The Precious Garland
So again, this is something very profound. The desire or thought, or sentiment, the feeling, the sense of self that says, “I need to resolve this problem”―certainly, that type of thinking can be pleasurable, but in the more higher senses of meditative practice, not having that type of “self” is even more powerful, and more pleasurable.
I know a lot of people get fearful when they say, “Well if I get rid of this sense of ‘I,’ ‘myself,’ ‘me,’ the ego, what I think I am, what will I be?” People get afraid of this sense of, and think of this as a nihilistic thing, but the truth is, when we eliminate anger, we free consciousness that is trapped in anger. We experience love.
I am sure that if we have studied even the Christian tradition, they talk about the seven deadly sins, but they also talk about the seven virtues. Such as, if we eliminate anger, we develop serenity, sweetness and love. We eliminate pride, we develop humility and compassion. Eliminate certain faults, and then we develop consciousness that is more beautiful and pure, unconditioned.
Now I know this is a very rudimentary introduction to some of the principles of meditation but, one thing we would like to emphasize is that, through meditative science, there is a higher way of Being, and that we can use these techniques to transform our daily life, and in that way we have less problems, and resolve things with more understanding.
Questions and Answers
Do you have any questions?
Question: Yeah, I suffer from anxiety and depression…
Question: But I am also suffering from longings…
Question: And it is not going away…
Question: And the mind takes over, and I have these visions, I am going to end up killing myself down the road because I cannot cope.
Instructor: Yes, so I have actually worked with people, I am very close to people in this tradition who have suffered depression. And unfortunately, a lot of people, regardless of being on any type of anti-depressants, it is very difficult to deal with.
One thing we can say about that particular condition is that, it is a state of mind that is inverted. A lot of times we can say the opposite of depression is pride, such as feeling good about oneself, having pride, “I am this way. I am successful. I am this, I am that.” But depression is that type of sentiment inverted: we call it shame. It is a sense of self that says, “I am not good enough,” “I do not deserve this. “People hate me,” or “no one wants to be with me. I do not know how to resolve my problems. I am not lovable.”
The way to resolve that type of sentiment is by relaxing our body, observing ourselves, becoming conscious, becoming aware of our thinking, our feeling, our emotions. We can actually go into the mind to understand the traumatic roots of that sense of self, where it originates from. Because the opposite of shame is dignity. That is a conscious quality. It is a quality of the soul, which is eternal. Our true nature is divine, has a sense of dignity and love, and self-respect and compassion, not only towards others, but for oneself.
The problem is that, when we suffer those type of conditions, which also can not only be neurological, but also something even more profound, coming from psychological roots or traumas in one’s life, which combine to produce the experience of depression―but there are ways to heal that, radically.
I have worked with people in this teaching who have suffered mental illness: schizophrenia, depression, and by using a lot of the techniques that we are studying, in combination with some of the efforts of doctors, they have been able to achieve homeostasis, balance, and get through life with happiness.
I mean I personally know people who have suffered depression, and because of working with these techniques, they have been able to change themselves. But depression is a sense of self or desire that is very inverted. It says it wants to harm itself. But we have to realize that, that sense of self is not our true identity. It is not who we really are.
Question: Right because you suffer “from” it, you do not “have” it? It is not in you… you suffer “from” it?
Instructor: Yes, it is a condition of mind. It is the lamp that traps the genie. If you break the lamp, if you look in yourself and analyze the cage, when you meditate on, “what are these thoughts that I am experiencing? What are these fears? Where do they come from?” It is not an intellectual process, but it is a conscious inquisition. It is a quality of inquiry that we go and we ask ourselves, “Well, where is this feeling coming from?” And then look at it, and it can be very painful and very scary to look at those kind of emotions.
You know, it is a very difficult thing to do, and whether or not someone suffers from depression or any mental illness has that fear too. But of course in those conditions, it can be more difficult, but it can be changed. We have a lot of techniques that we use in this tradition.
There is one exercise in some of the books we have available. We even have a video online on gnosticteachings.org, of a remedy to cure depression. It does not require medication. It does not require anything. It does not have side effects. It is called the magic of the roses.
And in this tradition we use a lot of practices, not only just meditation or relaxation, but we also practice working with some of the magical traditions, which are not just hocus pocus or making things appear, like a rabbit appear out of a hat, but when we develop consciousness we can learn to work, not only with our own consciousness, but the soul that is within plants, or in animals and other Beings, in order to achieve a type of balance and harmony.
You can look online. There is a whole video about the magic of the roses. And personally, when I have suffered any trauma emotionally, real strong situations that were very painful, I have worked with that exercise and that radically healed it. But of course, every situation is going to be different. You may find that in those cases, some people with mental illness, of course, they should get professional advice and seek a doctor and see what medication can work, to help acquire that balance, plus meditation.
So hand in hand those things can help. But I would recommend looking on gnosticteachings.org look up the Magic of the Roses. [See also our course on Spiritual and Mental Health]
Question: What was the first thing you said?
Instructor: It is gnosticteachings.org
Any other questions?
Question: In meditation, you are supposed to not do anything or think, so when you meditate on these questions, I get confused.
Instructor: Sure. No, it is definitely, a real difficult distinction to make. What does it mean to be conscious, and what does it mean to be thinking?
Now I know in the beginning we really want to use the intellect to resolve problems, because that tends to be our state of mind since the beginning, before we begin to train. But as you are learning to meditate, you will find that, as you are relaxing your body and just observing yourself, you find that, you will start to see more and more and separate from thought, from memory, from these things.
It is a kind of separation that is needed. It does not mean a dislocation or a type of apathy, or a dull state, or a nihilistic state. I am pretty sure you might have had the experience where, if you are falling asleep sometimes, maybe dream images start to appear. Things just start to happen, like when the body is asleep you start to see places, or people, or things, or sounds. Those are qualities of our subconsciousness. Usually we are not aware of those states, but as you are relaxing more profoundly, you will start to see those things. As you are observing yourself, they will start to appear.
So I know in the beginning it is very difficult but, with training, we start to develop more and more, we start to separate more and more from the mind. And the initial step is relax, and after your body is fully relaxed, try this exercise.
Just observe and become aware of your mood and your thoughts. Even during a lecture we can pay attention to a degree, and then suddenly we are thinking about other things, or make associations or memories about a certain concept that we hear. Then sometimes our train of thinking goes off. We start thinking and thinking and thinking and thinking, and then we realize [snaps fingers], “Wait a minute… I am supposed to be listening. I am supposed to be in this lecture!” And we all have that experience, and then suddenly we try to backtrack for a minute or two saying, “Well, what did I miss?”
You know, it is a very common experience. That shows us that our mind tends to be very distracted. But meditation first begins by learning to concentrate. So that realization, “I am not paying attention,” is the very beginning. That is the type of “ah-ha” moment, the comprehension that we realize in ourselves, “Ah, I lost my focus! I am not really aware of what is going on.” We can also say, “I am not really awake.”
But when you bring your attention back to that type of recollection, you find that it gets easier. It gets easier the more you work at it. And some basic practices we use in this tradition, you could take a candle―if you find that you get distracted too easily―take a candle and light it, sit in a relaxed posture, relax your mind and your body, and just observe the candle. Just look at the flame. You will find that as you are doing that, you will start to think of other things, and then you will realize how, we tend to be thinking too much, or we are usually caught up in that cycle, that machine.
That exercise, you just look at a candle, and if you start daydreaming or thinking of other things, just bring your attention back, gently. Some people think concentration is like going to the gym and being really fierce and strong, but real concentration is strong, but it is relaxed. It is calm.
So you see, “Oh I lost my attention,” pay attention back to the candle. But in the beginning, it is okay to, if you are trying to resolve a problem or an issue, to think about it and try to come up with an understanding of what is going on. You will find that the more and more you practice, the more you leave the mind behind, and the more that you can access a state of consciousness that is intuitive. It simply knows. It understands, without having to think, and that is like [snaps fingers] an “ah-ha” moment, “I understand, now I comprehend what I need to do.”
Any final questions?
Question: If we are feeling lonely all the time and then we meditate, will that help the loneliness?
Instructor: Yes, because loneliness is a desire for company. It says, “I need to be with people,” “I need to be social.” And of course, having a social life in important, but feeling lonely does not have to be an affliction. Meditation can help us to resolve that sentiment.
Understand you know, where loneliness comes from. What is it? What does it want? What are we feeling? Why do we feel that way? And asking that question and questioning that. But you also find that as you are, not only practicing meditation, but changing those qualities of being, we learn to associate in the external world with different types of people, you know...
Question: I isolate myself an awful lot so, that is why I am on my own, that is why I am lonely, I have created it…
Instructor: Sure, yeah, and certainly that was my case many years ago, until I found this type of teaching and started practicing. And then I found that I was much more outgoing and more, I guess, charismatic or, just interrelating with people. Because I used to be very solitary and isolated, you know, was struggling with that in myself, and then I learned to change that, to the point where I can get jobs and careers, and fulfill a very, you know, pretty happy career with what I am doing now, with working with a lot of different people.
So that transformation is easy to achieve. It just takes a type of work ethic, you know? But also, being willing to try new things and meet new people, because obviously, you know, as you start to change yourself, you will interact with different people.
It is the law of attraction. If we are developing more virtuous qualities of mind, we naturally radiate and gravitate to those situations where, those people are practicing the same things. And then you feel a sense of a community and strength and affirmation from others that really make you feel that you belong, and that you are respected and are fulfilled.
But the first step is confronting that, of course this is the major thing that, many people do not like to do―to confront themselves. But if we do, we can attain great changes, not only for ourselves, but for the benefit of others.
This is a transcription of an audio lecture from Introduction to Gnostic Studies, originally given live at the Gnostic Academy of Chicago.
We start with the quote from the Oracle of Delphi:
“Man, know thyself and you shalt know the universe and its Gods!”
For most of us, we do not have a deep understanding of ourselves. We have a superficial understanding of ourselves―our name, our race, our job―maybe what we like and dislike. When it comes to a deeper understanding, we ask: what does it mean to be a human being? Does it mean we have a soul?
We might have ideas about it, and we might have beliefs, but how does one come to know themselves? How does one know themselves so profoundly that they then experience, directly, the universe, the gods, our own inner divinity, our connection with all the rest of life?
It’s important to ask ourselves where we seek knowledge. For seeking knowledge externally, in classes, in documentaries, scientific studies, or books, that knowledge might help us to survive in the world, and man’s struggle has often been a struggle for survival.
But once we have those basic needs met, and we find ourselves feeling purposeless or aimless, we have to ask ourselves a deeper question, which is: why do we exist?―not just the search for survival, but the search for meaning.
To really understand that, we have to start by knowing ourselves.
So, we have to ask ourselves what we want from life. And if we want from life just a bunch of money in a bank, a nice car, a good job, well, then we’d probably never be here in a group like this. We want something more. We want to really understand directly the truth, something that is beyond pleasure, entertainment, or comfort.
We want to know: what is the meaning of all of this? Why is everything like this? Why do I exist? What am I supposed to be doing with my life? What is the purpose of it all?
Then we have to evaluate how we have been using our time and our energy. If all of our time and our energy is caught up in the struggle for material success, beyond just covering our material needs, but to really investing our whole life into entertainment, pursuits of pleasure, money, and comfort, and investing no time in our spiritual search, our own spiritual development, then we will never come to cultivate the self-knowledge that we are looking for―the knowledge that can go so deep that it can show us the root of our own existence.
We talked a lot about consciousness, and that is what we are seeking to understand: where does our consciousness come from?
Some very materialistic scientists will tell us that consciousness is just an epiphenomenon of the brain. We are all just walking chemical reactions. But in these teachings, we believe that consciousness is actually the root of our experience of all life. It’s only through consciousness that we can experience thoughts, or emotions, or physical sensations. So, that is what we are going to work with.
The Purpose of Studying Gnosis
So, we need to know why we are here. Of course, in a deeper sense of why we exist. But also why we are here studying spiritual teachings. And so the founder of the modern Gnostic movement, Samael Aun Weor has a quote about this. It is very meaningful to me, and it says very directly:
Obviously, we need to know our purpose in gathering ourselves here, in these studies, and for what. If curiosity is the simple motive that moves you, listen: there are many things to be curious about, i.e. in city entertainment centers, in cinemas, the bulls in the arena, etc. Yet, to enter in these studies is something very serious [...] Indeed, to emancipate the Essence (which we’ve talked about before is our own consciousness), to disassemble the mind and will (from our conditioning), is not an easy task. ―Samael Aun Weor, Cosmic Ships
The Gnostic work, to really get that deep into the Gnostic work, to really experience our true nature, is difficult. When we’ve talked in the past few months about different barriers that we have, we’ve talked before about how we need to struggle to awaken our own consciousness. Most of time our consciousness is asleep, and we are going around in our mechanical habits: same thoughts that we thought many times before; feeling the same emotions that we cannot seem stop feeling, even if they are negative, even if it is sadness or anger. We cannot seem to get out of it―our same habits, our same routines. If we really want to wake up, and experience life in a new way, experience life in a more profound way, we have to overcome certain barriers.
Balancing the Three Brains
So, one of the first things we talked about was the three brains: that we have an intellectual center, an emotional center, and a motor-instinctive-sexual center―that we need to work with our physical energies, our emotional energies, and our intellectual energies in a balanced way. By balancing, and achieving that equilibrium in ourselves, in this moment, but also in our daily lives, then we can begin to awaken consciousness.
When we awaken consciousness and work with self-observation, and we are truly observing not only our external life but also our internal states, our states of mind, our emotional states, then we begin to see what is false in us.
We distinguish between consciousness as pure perception in each moment, and then the egotistical filter that prevents us from seeing situations as they are―seeing situations with equanimity and serenity. Instead, we become very upset, angry, or unhappy, or displeased with many situations in life because our own egotism.
Once we finally established a basis of equilibrium to an extent (we have to begin where we are) and we’ve begun to absorb what is false in us―how do we move beyond that and begin to have those higher experiences of the truth? Today, we are going to talk about this: the experiences of our consciousness free from any delusional, egotistical ideas we may have about ourselves.
But to truly understand our own nature, we are going to talk about how we can form our foundation to those types of higher experiences today.
So, do we spend most time observing reality? I gave some examples last time about how, maybe you meet somebody, and the first time you meet them, you think they are a really nice person. Then later on, you find out that was not the case. Or vice versa: you think somebody is a jerk and then later on, you may find out they are a great person and one of your best friends.
But if we extend this little problem, we see that filtered perception extends to our whole life. How much of the time do we spend actually directly perceiving the situation as it is?
So, I already have been talking for a few minutes and probably most people's minds have drifted, begun thinking about other things. We can do that at many points in our life: when we are sitting there in a meeting, or at work, or we are sitting with our family, having a conversation, doing some task. How rarely are we actually focused on that task? Are we actually present and engaged with it, attentive to that conversation without some kind of mental filter, without many other distractions of what we should be doing or what we wish was happening instead, or what we have to do later, but to just be present and enjoy our lives?
If we spend most of our time in that state that I had mentioned, of mind wandering, then how much are we really living? How are we going to understand the true nature of the reality and ourselves if we are never there, consciously speaking? We are asleep. If we are hypnotized by our own ideas about life, our own perceptions that are not true, then how do we begin to see reality?
So, take an average day, today. How long do you think you spent worrying about things, or fantasizing about things, daydreaming? I see this in myself a lot when I am driving. I am not really focused on driving. I’m thinking about all the other stuff that I have going on.
It is not to condemn mind-wandering, but to say that if we are really seeking to wake up, consciously, to begin to perceive life in a profound way, in a new way, in an alert way, then we can’t be always seeing life according to our habits.
Many of us have somebody in our life―I think this happens a lot with family members―where we already know how they are going to act, and what buttons they are going to push. You might go to see somebody. For example: you might go to see your brother and you already have this idea: "Oh, my brother always gets on my nerves in these particular ways.” So, even when you are walking in the room, in the first few minutes of talking to him, you already have in your mind “This is going to be an unpleasant encounter.” It is going to go the same way it always goes.
Comment: You’ve already analyzed it and tried to come to a solution.
Instructor: Right. So you are not giving each situation a new chance, and what happens, interestingly enough, we see this in psychology as well, is that when we have our own preconceptions about somebody, we end up treating them in a way that causes them to continue responding to us in the same way.
These types of cycles can happen in our relationships. They can happen in our jobs. “Oh! I am already dreading going to work today and it is going to be a terrible day!” And then you show up having that kind of attitude and it ends up being a terrible day.
So there can be some feedback loop there. It is very important to check ourselves up a little bit, psychologically―to perceive each day, and each moment, and each person in a new way―to really see the reality of that. To do that we need to be awakening our consciousness.
The Key of Sol and Self-Observation
And so, one way we can awaken consciousness is self-observation. We talked about that before, that there is a specific technique that we use in Gnosticism called the Key of SOL. As taught by Samael Aun Weor:
Gnostic students must learn to divide attention into three parts: subject (which is us), object (which is whatever we are focusing on, in this moment, in the external world), and location (which is where we are right now). ―Samael Aun Weor, Esoteric Treatise of Hermetic Astrology
So we can go ahead and do this right now:
Subject: to not fall into the forgetting of oneself before any representation. ―Samael Aun Weor, Esoteric Treatise of Hermetic Astrology
Whoever has watched a movie or a TV show, and you get so sucked into it that somebody can be talking to you in another room and walking behind you, and you do not even hear them, because you have completely lost focus.
So, we forget about our physical bodies. We forget about our emotional states, and our intellectual states. We just go along with things and the next thing you know, you’ve gotten so caught up in your anger, that you are shouting at somebody before you have even been able to catch yourself and realize: "I am getting angry!"
It can happen. We are not aware of ourselves. So, right now, if we become aware of ourselves, we can use the tree brains as a point of reference that we talked about before.
So, physically, “How am I feeling?” In my physical body. This is not an intellectual process, but just to consciously observe it, to feel your body.
Emotionally: "How am I feeling?" So, even if you do not have a label for your emotional state, become aware of it.
"What am I thinking?" Become aware of your thoughts, and that creates a space of separation from ourselves, from which we can observe ourselves in a more balanced way. So, after we become aware of ourselves, we need to also be aware of the object of our attention. So, Samael Aun Weor says:
Object: To observe every representation, every fact, every event, no matter how insignificant the latter may seem, in detail, without forgetting oneself. ―Samael Aun Weor, Esoteric Treatise of Hermetic Astrology
So maintaining awareness of ourselves is to be aware of the person we are talking to, or the thing we are listening to, or the task we are engaged in, no matter how meaningless it seems. Maybe we have a job in a factory where all you do is to push a button all day. So, no matter how meaningless it seems to be awake to that moment, to be alert to it, to be perceiving this as new, and not allowing your mind to drift off into autopilot―but to wake yourself up. The more we work with them, the muscle of self-awareness, the muscle of consciousness, the more we begin to perceive even more of reality.
And then also being aware of our location:
Location: The rigorous observation of the place where we may be, and to ask ourselves: "What place is this? Why am I here?" ―Samael Aun Weor, Esoteric Treatise of Hermetic Astrology
So, for most of us we walked into this room. We have not looked at it. We found a chair. Since then we have forgotten about the room we are in. So, what we want is not the tunnel vision of consciousness where we are only perceive a speck of our experience. We want to expand that consciousness out. The way to do that is to work with consciousness―to wake yourself up.
Throughout the day I try to catch myself. If I am at the computer, working away, and then suddenly I am: "Oh, I am not self-observing!”―to catch myself, to work with a practice like the key of SOL, to make myself aware of myself, aware of what I am doing, where I am―and gradually your consciousness begins to expand so that you can be aware.
I have a walk to work where I walk across a really beautiful green space. Usually I am there in my tunnel vision and I am really focused: “Ok, I have got to get to work. These are the things I am going to do,” but I will wake myself up like this and I use to practice like this. Suddenly my experience of life becomes much fresher, much more profound. I notice the people walking by. I can hear the birds. I can smell the freshly cut grass, or whatever might be.
So, if we really want to have a really dynamic and living experience of life and not sleeping like robots, then we can work with this type of practice. It’s a spiritual practice, a spiritual exercise working with our own consciousness, our own perception.
That is distinct from an intellectual understanding. It is not: "Oh, I hear the birds. I smell the grass." It is not in the mind. It is just being aware of it. Just being alive to it.
Samael Aun Weor also wrote about that:
“Whosoever wants to awaken consciousness must work here and now. We have the consciousness incarnated and that is why we must work with it here and now (in our body, in our daily lives, not to be off fantasizing about other things, but to be working right here, in this moment, in every moment of our lives, with our own consciousness). Whosoever awakens consciousness here in this physical world awakens in all the suprasensible worlds.
“The one who awakens consciousness in this three-dimensional world awakens in the fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh dimensions.
“The one who wants to live consciously in the superior worlds must awaken here and now.” ―Samael Aun Weor, Esoteric Treatise of Hermetic Astrology
The Tree of Life: A Map of the Superior Worlds
We are going to talk a little bit about what the superior worlds are, but I want to point out: what is the foundation for having higher experiences, for experiencing the truth, our true nature, the root of our existence, our inner divinity?
The basis for this is: pointing out, to begin working with our consciousness here and now. If we want to sit in meditation and to really awaken in higher states of being, we have to begin by awakening in our daily life, all the time, moment to moment.
We can use this diagram of the Tree of Life―which is also in your handouts, if it is easy to see at there―to perceive what we are. We talked about the bottom part of this before, the bottom sphere of this diagram, Malkuth, our physical body. So, if we are aware, conscious of our physical body, we can know that part of our consciousness is here, acting in the physical body.
We have also to talk about having an energetic body, the vital body. And that is the energy that moves and circulates blood and air and keeps us alive allows us to move around. Without the energetic body, we would not be able to exist, physically. So, we have an aspect of our consciousness that we may not be conscious of from moment to moment, but we do have an aspect of our consciousness that is animating our body, keeping us alive.
We also have what is called an astral body, related here with the sphere of Hod. The astral body is all the emotional energies that move through us and keep us functioning in the emotional plane.
And then, we have a mental body here in Netzach that transforms all of our thoughts.
Finally, the human soul, or for us, the essence of the human soul, which is related with the sphere of Tiphereth.
There are higher spheres on the Tree of Life as well related with our divine soul and Geburah, and our Innermost Spirit as Chesed.
And so, those are the things that we want to start experiencing.
We may have a sense of our physical body, a sense of the energy moving in our body. We may be familiar with our emotional states and our mental states. We may even feel a little bit conscious of our own willpower. How do we become conscious of our divine soul? Of our Inner Spirit? Or even higher in this Tree of Life?
We have these three top sephiroth that are related with the tree primary forces that in Christianity we call them the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. In order to be aware of those, we have to awaken here and now.
Also, I want to point out that there are lower dimensions. So, if this is the Tree of Life, so we can consider these spheres at the bottom are an inverted Tree of Life, the shadow of the Tree of Life. Last time we talked about the ego, that we have many delusional states that we get caught in. Perhaps walking to a room and we are very afraid of everybody is going to hate us in that room. Even if that has nothing to do with reality, even if you are walking in the room, people do not even notice you are there, you can have your own psychological state about it―that would be experiencing a lower state of consciousness, a state of consciousness that is not free, that is not experiencing reality, but is conditioned by our own psychological habits.
In order to ascend to higher states, we need to become aware of these lower states.
In talking little bit about the Tree of Life, there is a quote from the gnosticteachings.org website:
“The primary symbol of the Tree of Life is a structure of ten spheres called sephiroth in Hebrew. These spheres have many levels of meaning. Macrocosmically, they represent dimensions or worlds. Psychologically, they represent aspects of our consciousness [...] The ten spheres are but a simplification of a much more sophisticated and complex rendering of the many dimensions found in existence and non-existence.” ―A Gnostic Instructor, Glorian Publishing
Just this can represent psychological states or aspects of our consciousness, they can also represent higher, superior levels of nature, in which nature becomes more rarified, more divine, more pure and sacred. If we want to experience higher dimensions, what might be called heavens in some religions or Nirvana―in order to do that, we have to awaken―we have to liberate ourselves from lower states of being.
You can think of the consciousness as a seed that has been planted in physical matter. We actually have a teaching about the ray of the creation in Gnosticism. But up here, we have the Ain which is the Nothingness. And from the Ain emerges the Ain Soph, which is the Limitless.
Another Instructor: Ain is the Nothingness, while the Ain Soph means “No limit” because Ain means “No” or negation and Soph means “end.”
Instructor: From Ain Soph emerges the Ain Soph Aur, which is the “limitless light,” the light of the Christ. As that is the light that descends through these different dimensions, these different levels of nature, it is gradually is going to be planted here in our physical body.
Whatever we choose to do here and now with our consciousness, with that little seed, will determine if we are going to grow as a Tree of Life or going to descend into lower states or being.
It is very important to learn about our consciousness, to work with it, to understand it, to meditate, to self-observe. And as we work with that energy, to be able to begin understanding higher dimensions as well.
If we have already got all the elements that we need, how can we experience those higher states of consciousness? Just, in that analogy of planting a seed, a seed needs certain conditions in order to be able to grow, right? A seed needs water, light, air. So, we already have the seed planted in the earth. But do we have the light? Do we have the teachings and the doctrine that help us, the scriptures, the Word of God, whether it is the Bible, the Bhagavad Gita, the Buddhist scriptures as well?
Do we have that type of nourishment coming into our life? Or are we feeding our hearts and minds with lots of garbage, other junk food that is not nourishing the soul?
And do we have the water, the water of the life, the energies that we need? Because in order to self-observe, all day and all night, to be awake in the dream state, as well, you need a lot energy.
Awakening and the Conservation of Energy
We have to talk about the conservation of energy. And it begins by just observing yourself and see how you are using your energy.
If observe yourself through the day:
How do you use your physical energy?
How do you use your vital energy, emotional, or mental energy?
Volitional energy is the energy of the willpower.
The energy of your consciousness, your spiritual energy. How do you use all of that in a given day?
Do you use it wisely?
Do you over-exert the mind, the heart, or the physical body out of balance with the other centers?
Much of this is building off what we have already talked about.
But in order to conserve it, we have to first see how we are using it and where we are wasting it. So, if I am spending ten hours a week, out in bars, drinking a bunch, and laughing with my friends and doing that stuff all the time―is that ten hours of energy that I am conserving for my spiritual practice or is that ten hours of energy that I just kind of binged on and it is gone? It is never coming back.
Comment: It got spent elsewhere.
Instructor: Right! If we want to use this life wisely, we really want to ask ourselves: “What do we want from life?” And if what we want from life is something more than just entertainment, something more than pleasure and money in our bank accounts, but we really want to know divinity, we have to start being serious about looking how we use our life.
If we are using our life in ways that do not achieve that type of outcome, then we can’t be surprised. Everything in nature works on the basis of cause and effect. If every cause that we are putting into motion is creating effects that are wasting our energy, well, then we are going to get to the end of our life and we should not be surprised that point that we have not cultivated our soul, because we have not put the causes into effect that would have created the awakening of consciousness.
We have a really valuable opportunity that we have teachings like this. Now we have access to all the world scriptures, access to a variety of teachings, especially here in the United States. Many of us have more time to study religion than has ever existed in the past, but how are we using that time and how are using this precious lifetime? We have a chance now to really know ourselves, and to know divinity directly. If we do not take that seriously, no one will be to blame but us.
An important piece of conserving energy is ethics. A lot of time people talk about morality, and morality can change depending where you are, what country you are live in, the time period.
For example: I was living in South Korea and many of the morals of Korea are different from the morals that we have here in America. Who is to say which moral is better or worse?
But when it comes to ethics, this is really something personal. Yes, in the Ten Commandments or in the ethical foundations of Buddhism, or in yoga: Yama and Niyama, that we are going to talk about―in all of those teachings we are getting a sense of ethics, but truly we have to go deeper than just doing something because “Somebody told me to do it. Because my priest says so, or my teachers, or whoever told me to do it.”
We have to find the ethics in our own heart, in our own conscience. So, we know when we are doing something that is wasting our time. We know when we are doing something that is harming others or harming ourselves. And if we choose to ignore that and waste our energy, like I said, we are the ones who will have to deal with the consequences.
Ethics is not about following some strict dogma that has been imposed upon us, but ethics is about really working with the energies of nature, and the energies of our own consciousness, and the energies of our soul. It is the reason that we have a conscience that knows wrong from right. It is because we are longing to awaken to something more. But if we do not set the right foundation, if we do not have the causes that help us to awaken in higher dimensions, then we will not be able to do it.
So, another quote from the Gnostic Teachings website is:
“Ethics are not just mechanical laws that some external authority is trying to impose upon us. These rules, commandments, or vows have a very specific function, which must be clearly grasped, and that is this: If you perform actions that are harmful, you create disharmony not only in your environment but in your mind. Yet if you follow these (ethical) "observances," or positive practices, you create positive energy, not only into your environment, but in your mind. So the purpose of Yama and Niyama or the Commandments of Moses is to stabilize our psychology so that we are no longer vibrating with so much negative emotion.” ―Gnostic Instructor: Meditation without Exertion: Ethics
In every religion, if someone is going to become a practitioner, like a monk or a nun, they have to take certain vows, ethical vows, renouncing harmful behaviors, and this is not just because somebody wrote a rule book and said that you have to do it.
This is because when we work with spiritual energies, we need to be aware that disharmony will create an inability to see the truth.
If you go and are lying to people all the time, eventually, you yourself become unable to perceive the truth yourself. Many people justify…
Comment: Because you told so many lies that you don’t know it anymore!
Instructor: In your own mind you become confused. People justify that. I have heard many people say: "Well, everybody lies. It is no big deal!" But if you really make an effort to be honest, you begin to see things in a very different way.
When we lie, we actually come to hate ourselves. We come to feel that we have no integrity as a person. We become confused in our own mind about who we are, because we said so many different things to so many different people that we do not even know anymore, “Who am I?” And lying is just one little example of ethics, right? There are much more profound types of unethical behaviors that we can give in to.
It is serious in this work. If we want to experience directly divinity, and higher states of consciousness, then we cannot just skip this step. People want to jump right into the highest levels of Tantric Buddhism, and all of those high aspects without establishing their own ethics.
So, people get very confused. They start working with energetic practices and they create more harm for themselves and for others.
What we need to do is to cultivate stability of mind, in which then divinity can express to us very directly, because the mind becomes like a serene lake. But each time that we are doing things that in our conscience we do not feel right about, we come to disintegrate ourselves so that we do not have even a good sense of our character.
Well then, how can we go and sit in mediation and prayer and bare our souls to God and expect that God’s going to show up? We do not have that sincerity with ourselves in those cases.
Ethics in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras
To highlight just one example of ethics from Patanjali's Yoga Sutras: the first two steps of Yoga in the Yoga Sutras are Yama and Niyama, which are “to-do” and “not to-do.”
So, certain behaviors that we should be doing that are harmonious with other people, harmonious with ourselves, harmonious with divinity and our environment and that generate a good energy, a positive energy that can help us to awaken.
Then there are actions to avoid, because when you do those types of actions, it is like throwing big rocks in a lake, and so of course, you have to wait for those effects to dissipate.
Under Yama we see:
I am going to point out that these are not just physical actions. It is really good to avoid physically being violent, to physically say the truth, not to steal, to be chaste: to conserve our sexual and vital energy as well, and not to be greedy, or jealous. But in our mind, we can also do that, in our heart.
So, I may be angry at my friend and I say: "Ok, well, I am catching myself. I can see this anger. I should not be violent. So, I am not going to punch my friend.” But in my mind, I am sitting there, criticizing my friend, and in my heart, am I hating my friend, this person who I should love, who I should feel compassion for?
It is not just to get caught in the physical actions. That is where we need to begin, checking out, “What I am doing with my physical actions, with my daily life?” But then, as we are working with self-observation and we are going into those deeper states and truly seeing ourselves, we will discover many states in ourselves that are unpleasant, that we do not like to see, that we do have hatred in our hearts even for our family members, or the people that we are supposed to love. There are moments when we truly hate them, when maybe we think we want to kill them. It is terrible, but we have those thoughts. We have those feelings, and we need to observe them. We need to become aware of them, meditate on them so that we can change, so, we can pray and get the help of divinity to become better people.
Because every time we are acting on it, we are fueling our envy: "Oh, I just hate that guy. I really hope he loses his job!” Every time we are feeding our energy into those types of thinking, in that type of emotion, we are creating more disharmony in ourselves, and more unhappiness. We cannot be calm, and we cannot be able to experience higher states, higher emotional states of compassion and truth, love, and serenity. We cannot feel that as long as we pour our energy into those negative states.
Here in the other column we have Niyama:
Saucha: freedom from egotistical desire, desire of I want and I do not care who has to suffer for me to get what I want.
Comment: Or wanting to be on top!
Instructor: Yes, entitlement as well. So we need to let that go, to not be so consumed with "I wish that reality was a different way! I wish that my life was a different way! I wish these people treated me differently than how they are treating me!" Because that is making us very unhappy. We need to learn to accept reality, and to let go of our own egotistical wishes to change everything because that is a cause of our misery.
We talked about Noble Truths of Buddhism and that suffering is caused by desire. So, if we want to stop suffering, we have to let that go. We need to have contentment with what one has.
Also, work with austerities or spiritual practices, so we can begin with prayer and meditation. Or as I mentioned, self-observation. We have many other spiritual practices, in this tradition that we can work with as well.
Study of scriptures and continual remembrance of God. There is that light that we need. To nourish our soul, to awaken.
By continually remembering God, we can avoid actions that we do not feel are truly ethical. Because if we really remember in each moment, divinity is here in my heart, in this temple, then, how can you continue to be cruel to your neighbor, and to hate the people around you? To be filled with all kinds of defects. You want to change. You feel remorse.
You can test this. I have had many times in my life where, rather than trying to change an unpleasant situation, I just start tried to change myself. So, I will be honest with you, guys: I have had a bad attitude about many jobs that I had in the past. Realizing like, as I said, that there is a cycle there. I am going to work with this attitude: "Oh, these coworkers are going to annoy me, and my boss is going to be a jerk! I am going to have these problems with customers!” And so, rather than trying to always run from one job to the next job, to the next job, and finding ourselves again in an unhappy situation, in our new job…
Comment: It follows you everywhere you go!
Instructor: Your problems follow you exactly.
Because the problem, most of time, is with you, not with your external circumstances!―even if the external circumstances are very bad. I mean, some people have very difficult lives, very challenging external circumstances. Sometimes the only thing that we have control over and power to change is ourselves.
I work with this, and I try really hard: "Oh, I am catching myself. I am not going to lie, even though right now my boss may be mad at me if I tell the truth. I am going to catch myself,” and forcing myself to do it. It is difficult. It is a challenging work. But if you put it into motion and test it out, you will see the results and you are going to see in your meditation and your practices as well, then you will have that faith from your own experience that putting ethics in motion really work, and really helps you to awaken and decreases your suffering. It puts you in harmony with the people around you and harmony with yourself. Then, you do not need anybody warding over you or telling you what to do.
You want to do what is right because you know that it brings is your happiness. You see the link there between cause and effect. But, because most of time we are totally, psychologically asleep, and we are not aware about what we are doing, or what effects are coming from what we are doing, then we go around with an attitude of entitlement. "Oh, why are not things the way I want them to be?" And we do not accept responsibility. And we do not see that we are putting the very causes into motion.
Comment: Yes, doing things my way instead of your way.
Instructor: Yes. We do not see that our own thinking is flawed. That we think that reality should succumb to our will, our wishes. And our ideas about reality, rather than being conscious of: "OK, reality functions on a basis of cause and effect, and it is found by working putting the right causes in motion, then there is no way I am going to have positive effects.”
You go around and you hate people, and you are mean to people, and you lie, steal, murder, cheat, and all of those things, you are going to have an unhappy life.
But, sometimes we do one good thing, and then we feel: “Well, how come I did one good thing, and I am not getting all these results?” We ignore that the other ninety-nine percent of the time we are doing a lot of harmful things.
We need to be really sincere with ourselves―a radical kind of sincerity with ourselves. Moment to moment, what kind of causes am I putting into effect? Slowly, tip the scale back, so, that you are putting more positive actions into place: turning the other cheek. I mean, do not endure abuse. Have common sense, but if somebody insults you, not getting into a huge fight with them, forgiving them, having compassion. Maybe they are having a really bad day. Whatever the situation may be, putting positive causes into motion every moment, and we then gradually start to see the effects.
And so, another quote from Galatians, in the Bible:
“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” ―Galatians 6:7
Instructor: Yes. It is karma. Cause and effect. Karma means action and consequence, cause and effect.
So, sometimes we think we can trick God into having mercy on us: “I’ll just wait and I am on my deathbed and then I’ll beg for forgiveness and I will just be fine!”
Comment: The problem is, you never know when you are going to die! You can get killed in a second in a car accident…
Instructor: Exactly! And we do not know how much time we have. That each moment in life is valuable. And God is always watching you, even if you forget God, he does not forget you.
Divinity is very alive, very intelligent. That the law of action and consequence is an intelligent law. It is not mechanical. Laws of nature might be mechanical, but the superior laws, the laws of divinity, are laws that have a balance of severity and mercy.
If you are acting in ways that you know in your consciousness that are wrong, that law is going to be severe on you for your own good, so that you see that you need to listen to your heart, your inner divinity, to do what is right. But if you express sincere remorse, if you want to change, if you want to become a better person for your own benefit and also for the benefit of everyone around you, then the law of mercy can help you, can elevate you into those higher states that we saw in the Tree of Life.
We do not want to be like the Pharisee, going around and telling everybody: "Look how great I am! I am such a poor person! I am so noble. I do all of these great things"―and then in our own mind be full of impurity, be full hatred, be full of envy, and greed and lust.
We want to really be sincere with ourselves and humble to see ourselves as we are.
There is another quote from the Bible, one of my favorites, from the first book of Samuel that says:
For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart. ―1 Samuel 16:7
When we look in ourselves, we take such good care of our appearance how I am going to look? How are people going to perceive us? What kind of job do I have? What kind of car do I drive? These types of outward things. When we are really working spiritually, we want to develop our own spiritual growth, our own soul, we need to look on our heart, the way that God does, to weigh our heart in a scale and to see, “I really used today wisely,” that “I really used today in a way that I feel good about," that “I feel that I was trying to become a better person.”
In the beginning, it is not to strive for perfection, that is unrealistic, but to just to be sincere, “Did I take the next step that I was able to take?” Sometimes we see things that we didn’t, that we missed opportunities. That is OK, as long as we are learning from them and we are trying to change, asking for help from our inner divinity to be able to change.
That is gradually working with self-observation, working with meditation, seeing these things in ourselves, and being sincere, that we can begin to ascend into higher states of consciousness and come out of those states of suffering, and even have experiences directly with divinity.
The Four Principles of Karma
When we work with action and consequence, with this law of karma, there are four rules that we should remember and keep in mind [as taught by Tsong Khapa in Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment].
The first is that:
1. Action produces related consequences.
So, it means that whatever you are doing is going to have a consequence. There is no action that is not going to produce a consequence. To not think as some people do, to not fool ourselves as: "Oh, I can cheat and get my way through this! And nobody will find out. None of this will have a consequence."
Even if you are lucky and you get away with whatever it was that you did, physically, internally you did not get away with that―and internally, in your own conscience, know, you are going to think less of yourself as a person for having done that.
But the thing is not only physical consequences, but they also have emotional consequences, energetic consequences. Consequences in our mind.
I gave the example of lying. Lying does not just have the consequence of hurting the people that you lie to. It also imbalances your mind. It creates disharmony and confusion in your own mind.
If you really work to tell the truth from moment to moment, you begin to see how much clearer your mind becomes.
The second rule is that:
2. The consequences are greater than the actions.
You might say one word, just one word, even if it is a hateful word. It is cruel word. It is a loving word. The effects of that word can be much greater. We see them in people that have written a book. Or somebody tweets a wrong thing. Twitter is pretty popular right now. So, somebody just tweets the wrong thing and the consequences can be enormous, that they can lose their job. They can lose their entire reputation, in an instant, right?
Being aware that the consequences are greater than the actions is important. It is not to delude ourselves: "Oh, this is just a little thing!” But you know that little things are going to produce much greater consequences.
This can work in our favor. When we work with positive actions, when we work with ethical actions, sacrifice for others, compassion, good behaviors, virtuous deeds, then the consequences as well are great. We will be rewarded in our work, in our life. People will like you more if you are kind to them. (I don’t know guys if you have figured that out). Usually, if you are jerk to people, they are not going to be nice to you. They are not going to want to work with you. If you are kind to people, then you can get along better with people.
Comment: Then they can get cooperation from you.
Instructor: Right, and people will want to cooperate with you because you are a nice person. Even on a superficial level, we can see that, that the actions have effects. But when we are talking in a more profound level, on the spiritual effects of our life, then this becomes even more important to us.
How am I using my emotions, my mind?
Am I using them in a way that is in accordance with what God wants from me?―you know, with this loving neighbor, loving God―or am I using them to hurt people? This stuff that we should not be doing.
The third rule is that:
3. You cannot receive the consequence without committing its correspondent action.
If you want to experience higher dimensions, or heavenly dimensions, talking with divinity or angels, you can expect that if you have committed the actions that allow that to happen, since nothing is given for free.
You sacrifice and you help others, you perform virtuous deeds, you do in your daily life what your own conscience your inner divinity is guiding you to do, then you will be able to have those higher mystical experiences. But you cannot just expect to go with the flow and continue on in bad behaviors and then suddenly your life changes in an instant. We may have a fantasy about that, but that cannot happen, unless we begin to work.
4. Once an action is performed, the consequences cannot be erased.
After you said some really cruel thing to someone that you love, you cannot ever take it away. That is an example of this.
However [There is a fifth principle of karma that has not been taught until the writings of Samael Aun Weor]:
5. A superior law always overcomes an inferior one.
So, if are sincerely remorseful, you may be able to go and apologize to that person and they may forgive you.
Comment: And then maybe the law of mercy will want to take over instead.
Instructor: In that merciful exchange, you might be able to repair the damage from the bad behavior, but you can’t erase the consequences of actions that have put in motion. However, we work with superior laws here. We work with the law of sacrifice, of doing kind things for others without expecting anything in return. That is what Jesus has modeled for us. He gave everything with his life―a beautiful, a perfect example of love as sacrifice.
If in our own little way, in our own interactions with others, our daily life, our work, whatever our situation may be, if we are working to turn that into a service, to do good for others―not because we want everybody to like us, and to praise us and think we are great, but just genuinely out of love for others―we can overcome our defects. We can overcome the consequences of the mistakes we have made, because we sometimes, being very much asleep, just say stupid things, which can be discouraging to see in ourselves, but as long as you are conscious, you are trying to use that to do good things.
The effects can be more powerful. We have talked before when we do things consciously, whether positive or negative, the effects of those actions are going to be more powerful. So, we want to make sure that we are awakening consciousness, conserving our energy, putting positive, virtuous, harmonious actions into motion so that we have positive effects.
The Training and Work of Initiation
Finally, we are going to finish with a long quote from Dion Fortune. In many esoteric schools, they talk about initiates and imitates are people who enter into the mysteries of divinity, the secret teachings.
Now, in this tradition, many secret teachings are openly taught, so we do not have to wait other person to come and to initiate us. But we ourselves are the initiators. We ourselves have to take these teachings in our own daily lives, in our own spiritual practice and work with them. So then we are able to enter into higher aspects of consciousness, in our own meditation, in our own experience.
We have to initiate something new, create new circumstances for ourselves by working with our own consciousness. When the consciousness is free, when the mind is free of conditioning, when the will is free of conditioning, then we have freedom in our life to see things in a totally new way, to make choices. As long as we are caught in that, the cycle repetition, sleeping mechanical consciousness, then we do not have any power to change.
As we start to wake up, we have to master equanimity and equilibrium in our circumstances, because life is going to bring hard, challenging circumstances in your way. Many of us are experiencing this right now. We are here in these type of studies is because we are suffering, and because we are trying to find a way that transcends the suffering. In order to do that, first we have to begin by accepting suffering, not in a way that is passive or complicit with evil, but in a way of the integrity of the soul.
In this quote Dion Fortune says:
“The initiate may accept his lot with a calmness which amazes men whose impulse it is to curse or pray according to their nature, but his acceptance does not necessarily imply passivity. To accept one's fate without murmuring does not pledge one to make no effort to better it. Knowing the power of concentrated thought, the initiate makes use of it in all the problems of life (that concentrated thought is our conscious awareness). His method, however, is not that of direct attack in which he "wills" the change of the unpleasant condition, but is directed to bring about certain changes in his own consciousness, for he knows that it is his own temperament which is the real instrument of karma. It is only through those factors in his own nature which react that karma can affect him. He knows that certain conditions come to him in order that they may provoke certain reactions in his own nature, and according to his handling of these reactions will be his karma, even in the present life. When he has harmonised these reactions, he has worked out his karma.” ―Dion Fortune, The Training and Work of an Initiate
If we break that down a little bit, it is everything that we have been talking about. It is about establishing a really deep sincerity, a deep ethic in yourself then no matter what everybody does you, you are going to be a good person. You are going to be a person that can feel dignity with yourself, integrity, because you know you try to do what is right, by your own conscience.
No matter what circumstances throws at you, your reactions to the circumstances is going to determine what happens next. So, if you respond positively, with virtuous actions, sacrificing and helping others, then your life can slowly, gradually ascend into better circumstances. If you respond to life with negativity and make things worse, getting into arguments with people, hurt people, then little by little you are going to increase your problems, and descend to lower states of being.
So, she goes on talking about the initiate:
“He knows, therefore that although he cannot determine the conditions under which his life must be lived, he can determine his reaction to those conditions. It is this fact which he bears constantly in mind in all his dealings. It is this realisation which enables him to raise his head above a sea of troubles and view them from the standpoint of cosmic law and spiritual principles. Although he cannot command the conditions to which he awakens from the sleep of birth, he is nevertheless the master of his fate, for he can manipulate those conditions in such a way that they shall bear him whithersoever he will, just as a ship can tack against a head-wind; and the worse the conditions and the stronger the wind, the swifter his progress.” ―Dion Fortune, The Training and Work of an Initiate
In this teaching we are trying to transform our life by using it in a superior way, by using life as a school for our spiritual development. That is very different from a common mindset: "Oh, well, I can’t control anything in life! Life just happens to me,” and so. “No, if life is terrible, there is nothing that I can do about that. I do not have any power to make it better!"
We accept responsibility for our life, and we work with higher principles, with spiritual principles, not with the laws, the worldly, common sense of average people. When we are working with the spiritual laws and with that by working with our own consciousness, we realize that the worse the conditions of life, the better for us. Because we are able to define ourselves, to develop ourselves, to see new things about ourselves, to become stronger in our own soul.
The soul is like a warrior, and as a soul, without any battles, cannot train, cannot develop itself. Then look at the ultimate example of this: Jesus Christ, right? Or we can look at saints or buddhas. People who endured terrible persecution, and Jesus was crucified.
If that is our ultimate goal, if someday we would like to gradually ascend towards becoming better people, with equanimity, truly spiritual types of people that can endure suffering and still love others, still have great compassion and serenity with our circumstances, then we have to begin by looking at our own life and in our ability to tolerate the little unpleasant things in our life.
If Jesus could handle being crucified, can I take an insult from our neighbor and respond with love? And that is where we have to begin. Little things that right now in our life are training us so that we come to handle bigger things.
So, there is one more quote I am going to end with by Dion Fortune:
“The discipline of the path cannot be learned from books. It is experience alone which brings realization. Let us therefore accept our karma as the first initiation. Let us strive for a mastery of ourselves in our circumstances which shall give us serenity under all conditions. What cannot be cured must be endured. This is the first lesson which karma teaches us. The adept is a man of unruffled serenity. For he is a man of perfect self-control. Let us strive for mastery of the inner astral kingdom of the emotions (having serenity of the emotions); once we have acquired this, we have the key of the astral plane in our hands ready for the time when the initiator shall bring us to the door.” ―Dion Fortune, The Training and Work of the Initiate
So, if we seek those higher experiences, we need to establish the causes here in our own emotional states of being, our mind, our heart, our body. So that we’re ready, that when the moment comes, we’re given key to enter into higher states of being, we have the necessary preparation.
The Gnostic Academy of Chicago
Free public lectures, meditation classes, courses, articles, and lecture transcriptions.