This is a transcription of an audio lecture from Beginning Self-Transformation, originally given live at the Gnostic Academy of Chicago:
In this course, we have been discussing self-transformation. But it is important to understand clearly, concisely, and specifically, what the self is.
What is this sense of “me, myself, I?” And what is it that religion, philosophy, mysticism have denominated God? In these studies, we prefer not to use this term, primarily because the word “God” has a lot of baggage. More specifically, we like to use the term Being, because the Being is divinity, who is within us, our own inner presence, our own form of cognizance. This has been documented by the great prophets, with those qualities like virtue, altruism, compassion, as well as equanimity and strength in times of great crises. They are true human beings who developed, through their character, a profound state of union, reunion with divinity.
And so that divinity is within us, which is why the Greeks stated, “Man, know thyself, and you will know the universe and the gods.” So, what is this self? Who is this sense of “me,” “I,” that we carry within our interior, and which most people never question, never seek to examine, to look at, to see.
Most people are content with saying that, “I am this amount of years old. I have this language. I am from this culture. I have this name. I believe in Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed,” or whomever―a political party. Most people are content to stick with this sense of a label or a badge as if “This is who I am.” And yet, despite the fact that we feel we know ourselves intimately, the reality is that we continue to suffer. We continue to experience pain, and the question is: why?
Why do we suffer so much if we feel that we know this sense of self? That we have this identity, this language, this culture, these customs? And yet with all this sense of identification, we tend to suffer. We are afflicted with problems: anger, fear, resentment, pride, vanity. And it is important to note that even though we feel that we have some type of security in this sense of self, we continue to roam about existence, and experience pain.
So in this course we have been explaining and examining, and questioning, why we suffer. And in this lecture, we are going to examine what we can do, profoundly. This is why every religion, every tradition, has taught some type of means and method by which to overcome that type of psychological conflict―whether through meditation, through certain practices, prayer, etc.
We have many golden maxims which we like to follow. I believe there is one by Shakespeare, which is very profound, “This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.” People love these types of maxims, these golden sayings, but do they really comprehend its meaning, profoundly?
What does it mean to be true to ourselves? Is it our desires, our fears, our worries? Or is it the Self that religion refers to? Which really is the Being, the presence, the divine, who is free of conditions, free of affliction. That is a type of consciousness that we can access in ourselves when we learn the precise methods, by learning how to meditate―to have a mind that is serene and calm so that we can experience that Truth for ourselves.
So all religions, especially Hinduism and Buddhism, explore this notion of self. What is the self? What is the sense of “I?” Who are we? Where do we come from? And why are we here? These are some questions that we will be answering together in this lecture.
These are some questions that are asked by the writer named Samael Aun Weor in his book Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology. His book is an explanation of these concepts we are exploring. So, this course is primarily founded on some of the explanations that he gave, which can serve as a platform for discussing the nature of the self.
So, who are we? If we truly knew ourselves, we would not suffer. Because who is the Self? It is divinity, the Being, the divine, the presence, who within us can only be witnessed and experienced when we learn to not identify with the lower negative qualities of the soul, which are known as anger, resentment, hatred, pride, laziness, gluttony.
These are known in religion as demonic qualities. Christianity refers to them as demons, because anger is demonic, is violent, is negative. It produces harm. It produces suffering―not only for oneself, but more importantly for other people―and yet in a moment of great crisis we tend to go with the flow. We feel slighted, hurt, slandered, lied to, gossiped about, and that sense of self, that anger, the thoughts of revenge emerge.
Usually we tend to just invest our energy in that sense of self, that identity, that sense of anger, that passion. And yet the consequences are usually disastrous, because anger produces conflicts, whether in families, in communities, in politics, in schools, in religions, in movements. Pride is also another element that is destructive, and yet we tend to identify with profoundly. Self-esteem, or the sense of self that says, “I am better than this person because of my religion, my political party, my faith, my race, my culture.” Likewise, lust, desire that is never satiated, in which a person indulges in sexual behaviors that end up in many problems, divorce, conflicts, children and families that are broken because of desire.
All religions profoundly teach us that, in truth, the origin of suffering is the self, the self that we tend to identify with most deeply, which is egotism. All religions teach that we have what is known as “ego,” “I,” because an ego in Latin means “I,” self.
But religion also teaches in its most ancient roots that we have a true Self, which is the Being, which is compassion, which is equanimity, serenity, and profundity, awareness, and intelligence―a form of understanding that keeps all of the cosmos in order. Every star, every planet, all those divine principles that we find in the universe are in our heart, if we know how to access that. But typically, we like to go along with ego, which is synonymous with the term desire.
We desire something, we crave something, we want something, and therefore we take measures and actions to get it. But when we feed desire, that desire is never annihilated. It does not end. In fact, what happens is that that desire wants more, which is why the teachings of the Laws of Manu, which is one of the oldest scriptures recorded in our planet, teaches that “Desire is never satiated by feeding it. Like throwing clarified butter into a fire, it only gets stronger,” more intense.
When that desire is not fulfilled, it suffers. We suffer, because our consciousness, our true spiritual nature is trapped in anger, in fear, in pride, in laziness, and all these conglomerations of defects, which constitute our existence.
So who are we? In these studies, we seek to understand who we are, to confront this question of “why do I suffer so much?” But more importantly, “what can I do to change?” And where do we come from? The Being, the divine, the presence, the Truth. What in Hinduism is known as Atman; in Buddhism as Sunyata, the emptiness of egotism, of self-hood.
That type of presence and cognizance is universal. It is in everything, within the atom, and more importantly, within our consciousness. And our soul, or what religions call soul―we can call consciousness―emanates from that principle. So, we are truly linked to our divine potential in us, which in us is a germ, is a seed. It is the potential to become fully developed through specific works.
As we are now, we tend to be in a germinal state, with potential to become something great, something illuminated, something divine. Like you find in the story of Pinocchio, which is an allegory of how our seed, our potential state, can become something more manifest and real. Remember that Pinocchio was a wooden boy. He was a puppet. He was controlled by strings, and that has to do in our case with all of our problems, our distractions, our vanities, our egotism, and also how the exterior influences of the world tend to manipulate us, make us react to life and to deepen our suffering. But we remember from the myth, in the folklore written by Carlos Collodi, that Pinocchio wanted to become a real boy, who wanted to become a human being of flesh and blood. That means that Pinocchio is in a germinal state, that could become something divine and real, perfected.
What does it mean to be a real human being? We explained a little about this in our first lecture on the level of being, which you can access on our website. A true human being is a Jesus, is a Buddha, is a Krishna, is a Moses―beings that fully manifested the light of their inner divinity in a full and perfect way, so that in moments of great trial, they were only able to express the highest ideals of humanity without any falter, without any flaw.
So, we are like Pinocchio. The word Pinocchio in Tuscan means “pine seed.” It is a seed that can become a tree of life, a fully perfected and developed master of meditation.
So where are we going? We explained in our previous lecture that due, to our habits, our conditions, our sufferings, we tend to enter into conflict with other people, with humanity. Whether it be at work, with friends, with family, with our spouse, with our community members, with whomever. Because of our egotism, we tend to create conflict that we are typically ignorant of. We usually ignore the causes of why we make other people suffer.
We tend to be very hypnotized by the notion that, somehow, we are saintly, and that the other person is wrong. Even though a person may be guilty, someone may have harmed us, the tendency of wanting to blame others is a distraction from our real work, which is taking ownership of our own mental states, and why we inflict harm unconsciously, without knowing it.
We may say something in the wrong place or the wrong time to the wrong person, and that has effects. There are consequences. This is simply a law of nature, of cause and effect. For every action there is a response, but in the states of psychological matters, we usually ignore how our own mind and mental actions create conflict―our words, our speech, our habits.
Conflict, suffering, is related to religion as hell. People think hell is a literal place underneath the ground where people burn in sulfur and fire, but those are symbols of psychological states, more importantly for us. When we are engulfed in anger, we are burning in hell, literally. We are inflamed with passion, with fear, with uncertainty. However, if we learn to extract that which is true and divine within us from those negative states, we can develop heaven inside.
Heaven is a state of being, a way of being, a level of consciousness which is free of conditions, which the Buddhists call Nirvana. In Sanskrit, Nirvana means cessation, to cease suffering, to cease being in pain, and so our actions determine where in life we will gravitate, as a law of causality, cause and effect.
If we indulge in negative behaviors, we will suffer, and other people will suffer, and therefore we deepen our internal conflicts and we spiral down into negative and more negative states of being. However if we learn to renounce anger, fear, hatred, desire, we can ascend towards higher states of consciousness which is liberated, unconditioned, free of fault, compassion that is unbounded, but also a type of responsibility that knows how to set one’s foot down even when circumstances are difficult, to know how to set boundaries with people.
Some people think compassion has to do with being a doormat, with letting people walk upon oneself. But compassion can be like that of a warrior who knows how to defend what is just in any circumstance. So, what we are psychologically determines where in nature we will move, where we will go. And there is a saying by Sufi mystics, who are the mystics of Islam, they have a very beautiful saying which relates to the topic of this lecture. They state that, “Wherever the delusion of yourself is, that is hell. Wherever you are not, that is heaven.”
Does that mean that we can experience the Truth? Not with our egotism, with our baggage, with all the luggage that we carry on our back, of all our memories and yesterdays, which impede us from accessing and experiencing the present moment, here and now.
The Being is presence, is light, is equanimity, is understanding, is found in us in this present moment, if we learn to pay attention.
So, what are we living for? Is it to feed desire? To indulge in pleasure? Or is our purpose to develop a type of work, to renounce negativity, to renounce suffering, to renounce pain, to be in service to others in a way that is founded upon our own idiosyncrasy, our own skills? Because all of us have certain skills that are needed in this society, which emanate from the divine, the Being.
What are we living for? Is it for egotism, for desire, or is it to help humanity? To provide means of alleviating the suffering of all beings? And why are we living? Is it for our next paycheck? Is it to feed desire? Or is it to be a means and a vehicle for divinity to express, who is our own true nature, our divine potential?
The Human Machine
So the human being, as I stated, or was implying, is a type of machine. Pinocchio was a puppet. He was influenced by internal and external forces, seemingly beyond his control. Likewise, our body, our mind, our heart, is a machine that can process different energies, different forces in nature, which, mostly in our case, tend to be unconscious. We are not typically aware of how certain elements in nature influence us.
It is obvious to see that on full moons though, there tend to be more incidences of crime. Likewise, women are influenced by the forces of the moon, of nature, through menstruation, through cycles, through reproduction. There is evidence for us that we tend to be influenced by nature without being aware of it. It is enough to wake up on a morning with a lot of rain to feel exhausted and tired, to have one’s mood altered, to feel morbid or negative.
So we are machines. However, we are machines that can learn to be driven, controlled, and utilized for spiritual purposes. This machine, psychologically speaking, is broken down into three categories of which we are going to explain today.
The Essence, the Ego, and the Personality
We have what is known as the essence. We have the ego, which we have been explaining already, and we have the personality.
So what is this essence? It is our true spiritual nature, our consciousness, which emanated from the Being, and which must return to the Being, to the divine.
Our ego, which in Latin means “I,” is constituted by all our defects, our faults, our errors, and sadly, the ego is a shell. It traps energy. It conditions consciousness. So, in a state of resentment, or pride, or fear, we are vibrating with a type of energy that is low, very negative, and which produces pain and sorrow and suffering.
What we do not understand from experience, typically, is that part of our soul is trapped in those elements, in those desires. Really our consciousness, our essence, which is the most pure and virtuous element we possess, in us tends to be very conditioned. The ego shells, traps, encages the consciousness.
And how did the ego come to be? We had consciousness in a very ancient epoch, in an ancient past, which is symbolized in some religions as the Garden of Eden, which was not literal, a literal history, but a symbol of how we disobeyed the commandments of our inner Being and entered into suffering. So, our essence is trapped. The energy of our soul is imprisoned, encaged, within all those negative states.
If we want to fully develop the soul, our true potential, we must learn to confront all that is low and negative in us, so that by confronting it and transforming it, we can change. When you extract the soul from the ego, when you break the shells of the states of anger and pride and of fear, etc., we can release the genie from Aladdin's lamp.
That is a myth as well. It is psychological. The genie is our soul which can perform miracles, divine things, can see and understand and experience the great mysteries of life and death, of our own inner truth. But usually, in most people, we may experience in meditation a moment in which we extract the genie from the lamp. We have a type of insight, a spark, an understanding, an intuition. But then a few moments later we lose the experience. The genie goes back into the lamp. Therefore, if we want full and perfect enlightenment, understanding, we have to break those shells. The ego must be eliminated.
We will also talk today about the personality. Personality is related to language, to customs, to culture, things that are very terrestrial. Personality is temporary. It is not eternal. When we are born into this life, we adopt a new personality, usually between the ages of one and seven, which we will be talking about how that develops in depth today.
The Essence, Soul, or Buddha Nature
First let us explain more about the essence. The essence is light. The consciousness is divine. It is like a mirror that can reflect the purity of divine truth within us. That essence emanated from our inner Being, which relates to all the forces of nature, as we have been explaining.
All the forces of the galaxies, the stars, the heavens, with all their profound intelligence and wisdom, is a reflection of the divine truth, our divine presence. The Bible speaks about the nature of consciousness in the form of light. In Genesis 1:3, “And God said, ‘Let there be light, and there was light’” וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹהִים יְהִי אֹור וַֽיְהִי־אֹֽור׃ (Va-yomer Elohim yehi aur va-yehi aur) in Hebrew. The word for “light” in Hebrew is אֹֽור Aur, meaning understanding or intuition.
People think that the Bible is a history, a literal narrative about how the universe and the planets came to be, but more importantly for someone who enters meditation, we understand that this is symbolic. What does it mean, “Let there be light”? It means that through certain practices, whether they be through prayer or working with sacred sounds, like mantras, we generate energy and light so that we have understanding. That light is our own consciousness, which is developed gradually, and that comes from the heavens, from the stars.
That essence, having emanated from the profundities of the great cosmic nature, enters into us in order to give us life, but in an undeveloped state.
“The Essence that each one of us carries within his interior,” says Samael Aun Weor in his book Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology, “comes from above, from heaven, from the stars… Unquestionably, the marvelous Essence emanates from the note La…”
This relates to the musical scale: Do, Re, Mi, Fa, So, La, Si, which has interesting correlations to the way that the universe is ordered and structured in relation with mathematics, which is known as kabbalah. So, the soul emanates from the note La which relates to:
“…(the Milky Way, the galaxy we live in). The precious Essence passes through the note Sol (the Sun) and then passes through the note Fa (the Planetary Zone) then enters this world and penetrates within our own interior.” ―Samael Aun Weor, Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology
And so what is this essence when it first enters a human life? We find that children naturally emanate a profound beauty, and perfection that people adulate. When holding a child, one senses and perceives their profound innocence, their light, their purity. So the essence, our consciousness, when it enters a new life, in the first seven years or so, is untainted, is pure, which is why when we look at an infant we only see happiness purity, love, innocence.
That soul in a child gradually becomes conditioned through experience, through life, in what is developed or known as the personality, or is influenced by the nature of the personality, which we will be talking about.
But the essence is a fraction of what in Hebrew is known as תִּפְאֶרֶת Tiphereth, which is simply a Hebrew term, a mystical term, used to denominate soul, human consciousness, human will. And Tiphereth literally means “beauty, splendor, radiance.” If you look at the Hebrew letters, you find that this word תִּפְאֶרֶת Tiphereth is very similar etymologically with the word אֹֽור Aur, which means “light” (תִּפְ-אֶרֶ-ת Tiph-Aur-et, spelled deficiently without a ו Vav).
The light of pure being is within a child. It has not been conditioned yet, has not been influenced yet. And that soul which we have been stating is only in a germinal state. It needs to be developed, because typically when a child gets older, they lose their innocence. That essence becomes conditioned, whether through life experiences, through education, through family life, through age, and through past influences that enter the soul.
Children have always been depicted as a cherub, or Cherubim amongst Christians, as angels. There is a form of angels known as Cherubim, and an angel is simply a perfect human being, a being that has no defect, no ego, no “I,” but only the full expression and light of the Being, the presence. Those angels are beings we can experience and meet directly, whether in meditation or when the physical body goes to sleep, and the soul enters the world of dreams. That world of dreams is again known as heavens, but we typically enter those internal states without any awareness, without any consciousness. But if we awaken the essence, the light within us through meditation and certain disciplines, we can communicate face to face with those divine beings who often appear in the form of children.
Personally I have had that experience many times where I have been speaking with, in my dream visions, astral experiences, astral projections, whatever you want to call it, and talking with certain beings and getting help with my work. And so, anyone has that potential, that capacity, if the essence is trained, if the consciousness is fully perfected. Amongst children it is germinal as I said, not fully developed. But a master, a prophet, has that state fully perfected.
If you look at the light of a child, in their eyes, their purity, it is like a candle. But amongst the great angels it is like a sun, which is why in the Gospel of Thomas, Jesus of Nazareth emphasized that in order to enter the kingdom of heaven, one must become like a child, innocent, pure. He was referring to the need to develop the essence, the soul. In the Gospel of Thomas, he states:
“A person old in days will not hesitate to ask a little child seven days old about the place of life, and the person will live.” ―Gospel of Thomas
So who is a person old in days? If we take that literally, it means someone who is elderly, decrepit, but psychologically, all of us are old. We are old with memories, with experiences, with suffering, and yet if we learn to meditate and speak face to face with the Elohim, the angels, the gods, we truly can ask them, those children of the ineffable light, about what guidance we need in life, and therefore the person will live, will have spiritual life, insight, understanding.
“For many of the first will be last and become a single one (unity).” ―Gospel of Thomas
So who are those first? Those people who have authority, and think they have understanding, when they do not. They do not have any knowledge of themselves or religion. We find many people in this day and times who have a lot of authorities, beliefs and dogmatism, ideas that really don’t help anyone. In these studies, we like to be independent, individual. We like to experience firsthand the great truths and mysteries of the divine. And therefore, many of the first will be last, meaning: people who are accustomed to theories and debates and argumentation, and yet who may find a type of understanding from experience, beginning to train themselves in this type of work.
The Multiplicity of the Ego
That way they become a single one, a unity, because as we are now, psychologically speaking, we are not unified.
This is an ancient painting by a Dutch painter by the name of Hieronymus Bosch, which is showing a landscape. Many of his art forms illustrate the nature of the psyche, the consciousness, our internal world. Notice in this image we have Anthony, or St. Anthony praying in the very center, and we find that he is surrounded, as he prays, by many deformed and animalistic figures. He is praying in the center of a temple towards the crucified Christ, who is very hidden, secretive, unseen.
Hieronymus Bosch was a great initiate, a great master who painted some divine truth in his art, which relates to this topic.
Those figures that surround St. Anthony are his own defects, his own desires, his own conditioned states of mind. Obviously, this is a very provocative and disturbing image, but it perfectly reflects our psychological state―if we are honest―and if we have the courage to examine who we are.
As I have been explaining, the ego is “I,” in Latin means “I, me, myself.” But that sense of “I,” that sense of self, in truth, is not singular. In fact it is multiple. Resentment, fear, pride, laziness, gluttony, what are known as the seven deadly sins, are really a conglomeration of different defects, different shells, different conditions, which have trapped our soul, trapped our consciousness. And so all those figures that are deformed, that are animalistic, represent all of the multiplicity of selves, of egos, of “I’s.”
We use the term ego to refer to the plurality of self. It is enough to sit and reflect on our own daily experience to see that we tend to be multifaceted. We are not simple. We tend to have a lot of conflict, a lot of contradictions. And of course, acknowledging this and seeing this is very unpleasant, especially when we see in meditation that all the different thoughts, and worries, anxieties, and fears, and sentiments, that typically characterize who we are, are constantly changing and fluctuating. There is no permanence there. It is a churning and a chaos which is represented in this image.
We find this nightmarish landscape of fires and villages burning, of strange figures flying in the air, representing all the defects that we carry inside, relating to our thoughts, our mind which is aerial in nature, represented by some of the figures on the top right. But also, we have monsters, monstrosities, which really characterize our desires, because anger is a monster, fear is a beast, desire is hell.
But notice that St. Anthony is not distraught, because the way that he became a saint was by purifying his consciousness. Here he is kneeling in prayer towards the figure in the center of this temple, which on the outside is dilapidated on destroyed, but in the center is a house of prayer. That symbol of Jesus being crucified is a symbol of the Being, our inner truth.
We do not say that Jesus was the only Christ. We use the term Christ in our studies to refer to a type of energy or consciousness, which is universal, which becomes manifest in any being who has developed themselves.
So, the Being is Christ, is an energy, is a force, and in the temple of St. Anthony here, is being crucified, because it is a painful experience to witness in oneself all of these different “I’s,” selves, defects. In one moment of life, we may have that desire to consume alcohol or to eat something, and yet that impulse changes, and we want to go exercise, and then we change our minds, “No, we want to go read a book.” In a moment we love someone. The next moment we hate them.
We are multifaceted, as I said. We are not unitary. We are not singular. We are usually very complex and very confused, because we have all these elements that are fighting amongst themselves for supremacy, of which we typically do not have any awareness. Of course, it is very unpleasant to realize we are a puppet in most cases. That is why Pinocchio was depicted in the story as a wooden boy pulled by invisible strings. In any moment, in our mind and heart, we may be thinking and feeling one thing and then in the next moment that changes.
We do not usually have awareness of this, because we do not usually observe. We are not mindful. We are not paying attention. So indeed, as Samael Aun Weor in his Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology states:
“Indeed, the humanoid does not have a permanent ‘I,’ but instead he has a multitude of different infra-human and absurd ‘I’s.’ The wretched intellectual animal mistakenly called a human being is similar to a house in disorder where instead of one lord, many servants exist who always want to command and to perform their own whims…” ―Samael Aun Weor, Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology
We explained this term intellectual animal, which obviously is very unpleasant, but the word animal in Latin means anima, soul. We have many desires that are animalistic, like lust, passion, sexual craving, hatred, violence. These are animalistic qualities, and because we have an intellect, we can reason, we can conceptualize, that means that we are animal souls with the capacity to reason.
But a true human being, as I stated, is someone who is perfected. There is no ego in a perfected human being. This landscape within the mind of an angel, is heavenly, but in us, because of our mistakes, we have shelled, and trapped, and caged ourselves in these states of suffering.
“No person is the same in a continuous manner. Indeed, one does not have to be a sage in order to fully realize the innumerable changes and contradictions of each individual...” ―Samael Aun Weor, Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology
All religions refer to devils and demons as these figures that are in red with a long tail and horns on their heads. These are symbols. Those are not literal stories that many people believe in, but represent psychological truths. So Hieronymus Bosch represented these truths in his art.
Christ, Legion, and Psychological Possession
We have an image here of Jesus, or better said, the Being, Christ, manifested within this person, in order to reject a legion of demons. In the Bible, there’s a story of how two men came to Jesus of Nazareth, who were possessed, and obviously some people in these times like to think about something silly and superstitious, and we agree to an extent, in the terms and ways that the Catholic Church has appropriated these symbols.
The truth is that all of us have a type of possession. When we are accused of something we did not do, we feel rage, anger; we become possessed in that moment by that desire. When we look at our bills and find that we might not make our rent, or we have some type of economic problem, we feel the uncertainty and fear arise within us, consume us. That element takes possession of us. We become petrified―trapped. Possession simply refers to a state of psychological identification with the ego, with desire.
So what is the solution? We find a beautiful teaching in this Christian myth, which does not refer to a type of fantasy, but to a folklore or story that is symbolic or allegorical. So, in the myth, Christ rejected these many legions of defects from these two men. It does not refer to a literal history. It refers to how our own inner divinity can reject all that conglomeration of defects that we carry inside to help us to free us from suffering.
This story is related by the following verses from the Book of Matthew:
“And when [Jesus] was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils (egos), coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way.” ―Matthew 8:28
And really, any one of us is like that. If we are filled with anger or resentment, we are demonic. We are not angels. We are not saintly. So, coming out of the tombs means: referring to a state of spiritual death in which we lack insight or understanding.
“And, behold, they cried out, saying, ‘What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time?’” ―Matthew 8:29
Because the ego has nothing to do with divinity, the Being. There is a type of conflict and war that goes on in the soul between the powers of light and powers of darkness, which is depicted in every religion, culture, and tradition, every myth amongst the Greeks, the Romans, etc.
“‘What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time?’ And there was a good way off from them an herd of many swine feeding. So the devils (egos) besought him, saying, ‘If thou cast us out, suffer us to go away into the herd of swine.’ And he said unto them, ‘Go…’” ―Matthew 8:30-32
…because the presence of our inner being can reject those negative, degenerative influences. What happens is that these devils go into a herd of swine and:
“…behold, the whole herd of swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the waters.” ―Matthew 8:28-32
So this is a symbol too of how in this type of spiritual work, our own inner Being, our own Inner Christ helps us to confront many defects, desires, and takes those elements and takes them out of one’s self, so that they can be destroyed (those cages, those shells) within what is known as the hell realms, which is a state of unconsciousness, of negativity.
It is a symbol of how when those defects are removed. They enter down into negative states until they are disintegrated. They are eliminated. Again, this is symbolic of how the soul must be free from the legions of egos, of defects, of desires.
Of course this is a very beautiful teaching, and what religion has called salvation or redemption is not something about beliefs, ideas, concepts, by thinking that by raising one’s hands and saying, “I believe in Christ or Jesus” and that “I am saved.” It is a matter of psychological work, of training in meditation. And of course, as we learn to have a serene mind, develop serenity of thought, our Inner Being helps us and gives us strength.
So what is the personality? We cannot express the ego in this physical world if it were not for our personality. The word persona means “mask.” It is developed in the first seven years of life according to three factors.
It is like a mask, as we have included images here from the Greek traditions. It is our language, our heredity, our race, our religion, our habits. These are things that help us to interact with other people in this physical world, in which we develop and need to exist. However, the problem is that this personality tends to be utilized by our ego, our desires.
This personality is developed in accordance with three factors:
Genotype has to do with our genes, our inheritance from our past actions, which also relates to the Sanskrit term karma, “cause and effect.” We are born into certain families due to causes from our previous experiences, which are not known to us except by awakening consciousness. Some traditions have called this transmigration of souls, past lives, etc. Those are things that we do not believe in, but we learn to experience and to know where we came from.
Our personality is developed by genetics, by cause and effect, by our past actions, because in life or nature, we gravitate in accordance with our deeds, our mental states.
Phenotype has to do with education from our family, from our friends, teachers. Our personality is shaped by the people we interact with growing up. Sometimes people who have very traumatic experiences with family or friends or schools damage their personality. Some people who are very sick, mentally and emotionally, did not develop their personality well. Sometimes there are people who don't know how to interact in this world. The personality is simply a mask we wear in order to interact with humanity, with existence.
Likewise, personality is also developed by any circumstance of life (Paratype), so if something traumatic happens, it can change the course of our existence. Some people breakdown, because the amount of energy invested in that type of trauma was so impactful that they, as I said, may not know how to relate to others, their family, their friends, etc.
Ghosts: Deceased Personalities
To kind of get some context on what the personality is, we can refer to what some cultures and superstitions believe to be ghosts. The personality is a form of energy. It is not the soul, neither is it the ego. The personality is simply a vesture we wear from life to life, existence to existence.
“The personality is time. The personality lives in its own time. It does not reincarnate. After death the personality also goes to the grave. For the personality there is no tomorrow. The personality lives in the cemetery, wanders about the cemetery, or goes down to its grave. It is neither the astral body (which is the dream body, which is a vehicle we use in the world of dreams, in sleep), nor the ethereal double (our vital energies, which give us life here and now). It is not the soul (the essence). It is time. It is energetic and disintegrates very slowly. The personality can never reincarnate. It does not ever reincarnate. There is no tomorrow for the human personality.” ―Samael Aun Weor, The Perfect Matrimony
Some people who claim to be very psychic or sensitive have often seen images of specters or figures in cemeteries. That isn’t the soul, however. It refers to the personality of the individual. Some people have a very strong personality, and in our culture, in these times, we tend to adulate and admire people with very strong personalities, like we see in television shows or movies or popular media. Those personalities that are very strong, that have been invested with a lot of energy, tend to last longer than the souls that have left the body. That is why people in some graveyards have seen some images of specters and figures moving about. It refers not to the soul, as we said, but to the personality.
Image, Values, and Identity: The Necessity of Self-Transformation
In conclusion, we will emphasize the following statement by Samael Aun Weor in his Revolution of the Dialectic about the possibilities of this type of spiritual meditation and work. He emphasizes that there must be a type of revolution in the soul, in the consciousness, in the mind, and the heart, as we explained previously in our lecture “Psychological Rebellion.”
Our self-image, our values and our identity, our sense of self, our sense of “I” has to change, has to be transformed, but that type of work does not initiate on its own, but when we see a necessity for it, when we see that we suffer a lot in life and we want to cease suffering; also, because we feel that perhaps our own image of ourselves can be very low, negative, and we want to transform it to become better.
But we need to identify what image, what values, and what self we must acknowledge―we must develop―because presently, in ourselves, we are mostly dominated by ego, if we are honest. Psychologically speaking, I believe a statistic that Samael Aun Weor gave in his book was that 97% of our consciousness tends to be trapped within the ego, and that we possess 3% consciousness that is free, that can be developed, that can be awakened.
By learning to meditate we learn to awaken our full potential. And this number may seem very daunting, very intimidating, very fearful, but the truth is that if you look at stories like David and Goliath, you find a beautiful teaching there. King David was a child when he killed Goliath. That is a symbol of how the essence, a child, the soul, can conquer the bestiality of the mind, can overcome it, annihilate it, and therefore he becomes king, he becomes king of Israel.
“Image, values and identity must be changed radically. This is Integral Revolution. We need the identity of the Being, the values of the Being, and the image of the Being.” ―Samael Aun Weor, The Revolution of the Dialectic
So we have been discussing what is the identity of the Being, the true Self, and also the values of the Being, which are all the virtues of philanthropy, compassion, love, etc. That image of the Being can be developed by us by learning to confront ourselves.
“If we discover the reserves of intelligence contained in the mind, we can liberate it. The reserves of intelligence are the different parts of the Being that orient us in the work related with the disintegration of the ego and with the liberation of the mind." ―Samael Aun Weor, The Revolution of the Dialectic
So what religions call yoga, coming from the Sanskrit yug, means reunion with the Truth. Likewise, religion comes from the Latin religare. That reunion is accomplished by us by learning to work on our own imperfections, not only for our own benefit, but for the benefit of others.
Questions and Answers
Question: How can we start to work against the ego, to get rid of it?
Instructor: Certainly. The first step is be mindful, observe. Our next lecture (Self-Observation) will be focused on this dynamic specifically. So, we have our essence which is germinal, as I said, 3% free, which can be awakened, developed, utilized.
Most of us we tend to be very unconscious in life, if we are honest. We could be driving our car thinking about other things, multitasking. I know we like to think we are in a culture of modernity, of multitasking, etc., but that type of behavior tends to keep us very unconscious, hypnotized, where we are doing one thing, thinking of another thing. It means that we are not attentive, we are not mindful.
If we are not mindful, if we are not learning to observe ourselves, we are not able to get data about these defects that we do not know about, which we may sense, but we don't really have full awareness of.
The way to develop this type of work is to first observe. This type of observation is a matter of consciousness. To learn to observe means to be mindful, to be aware that we are here and now, aware of our thoughts, our feelings, and our impulses. Mindfulness is learning to take that observation of self and make it continuous. So, it is not enough to just observe in one moment of the day, but to be mindful at all times.
The way that we do that is by engaging in certain concentration exercises as well. One thing that can help the beginning student is to learn to concentrate on a candle, for example. We have this candle that you can use, you situate in front of you on the table. Observe it. In this concentration exercise, your goal is to simply observe the flame. If you find that you are thinking and conceptualizing what you’re doing, simply return your attention back to the candle. Simply look at it.
There is another variation of that exercise, which is more profound, relating to the Mahayana school of Buddhism, in which you learn to take an image and you visualize it. That’s more profound, but in the beginning it is good to just take a candle, observe it, and if you find that you are thinking about other things than what you are doing, it means that we are distracted. So, the solution is bring your attention back.
The more you do that not only with the candle exercise, but the more you do it in daily life, you find that that sense gets much stronger, is more developed, is more powerful.
Self-observation is being aware of what are we thinking, what are we feeling, what are we doing. It is like a director in a film who is watching an actor, and in this case, we are both the director, and we are the actor. Understanding this dynamic in experience is very difficult, especially in the beginning, but the solution is to keep applying that principle.
You may find that in a moment you are becoming very anxious. The solution is to sit down for a minute, close your eyes, like if you are at work and you have a break do a breathing exercise. Inhale profoundly, breathe deeply, and observe your state. Take a snapshot of what you are going through right now. Question: “What am I thinking? What am I feeling? What am I doing?” That is the doorway to mindfulness.
As we began this lecture with an exercise on relaxation, relaxation is essential in order to know ourselves, because if we are not relaxed, if we are tense, it means that we are churning in the mud, so to speak, or we are fighting against quicksand. The more you fight against it, the more you dive deeper into it. Negative emotions are like that. The way that you can see that in yourself is by applying some of these techniques.
Personally, when I am at my job, if I find that I’m beginning identified with a negative state, I simply sit down. I do a breathing exercise, ten minutes, something simple, and therefore, I have a little bit more attention and awareness in what I’m doing. And if you do that daily, periodically, frequently, but in short exercises, you develop stamina.
So, little by little that essence becomes more charged, more powerful. If you remember in the myth of David and Goliath, he used a sling and a stone in order to slay the monster, and that is a symbol of something very profound too relating to the mysteries of freemasonry, the cubic stone of the masons, which is a symbol of using energy applied to action. When you use all your energy for your divinity, you can begin to fight against, with your concentration, your awareness, any problem, and therefore it gets resolved.
Question: Another question. I have been going to this other group and the first step is to get guidance from the Being, from God, and one of these people were asking like how can we know what God wants us to do?
Instructor: Certainly. So the technique for that is to first develop serenity of mind, you have a mind that is calm, where you are not thinking of anything, when your mind is calm from a type of daily discipline, when you don’t feed ego, pride, lust, vanity, etc. The mind begins to settle like a lake. If we identify with problems in life, it is like we are throwing garbage and stones in the lake, and the waters ripple. The rippling affects the center to the periphery, and it becomes agitated. When the waters are churning with passion, with negativity, you can’t necessarily see anything clearly in the reflection.
The beginning step is to first calm the mind, because when the mind becomes calm like a lake, when the waters are still, then those waters can start to reflect images which comes from the stars, which is a symbol of meditation. Meditation begins with serenity, but the next step in order to know messages from divinity is to develop what we call insight.
Serenity is the calm lake. The image reflected in the lake is insight. In Buddhism we refer to that as Shamatha, serenity, and Vipassana or insight. In these studies, we use the term concentration and imagination. And we know what concentration means, but people typically the term imagination means coming up with fantasies, make believe. But it simply refers to the ability to visualize or see images in the mind.
If I tell you to imagine an elephant, we can see it we can picture it. That is imagination, but what happens is we tend to be distracted, and can’t really see with more clarity, with more depth that image. There are certain exercises that we use in this tradition that develop the capacity to develop that perception more clearly. Like to take a candle, observe the image for a few moments, close your eyes and try to picture it in as much detail as you can in your mind, and that sense is fully developed and sharpened when your body is relaxed, when your mind is relaxed, when everything is calm.
When you’re meditating, suddenly you can get an experience like a flash of insight, a dream, a vision, in which you are witnessing things in your own internal world, your own inner experiences. I’m sure all of us have had dreams where we saw things with more clarity and depth than maybe can even relate to in the physical world, because those are certain senses that we may have access to, but are not fully perfected.
When you develop the capacity to calm the mind and to visualize things, you can start to receive understanding, because divinity speaks in the language of parables, in symbols. There are many books in this day and time which talk about dream symbology. Personally, I prefer to use, studying different religious traditions and their symbols, we refer to, in these studies, Kabbalah and Alchemy, Jewish mysticism, which is a symbolic way of understanding and interpreting the messages one can receive from divinity.
First we have to have the capacity to perceive in the first place, but then when you have the experience, you need to develop intuition, which is a quality of the heart, in which you immediately know the meaning of an experience. By reflecting on it and visualizing what you experience in your dreams, you connect it to your daily life, connect it to your physical existence, because your inner Being will give you knowledge and insight relating to your daily experience, what to do, how to live life more profoundly. Those teachings come in the forms of situations in the dream state, parables, symbols.
The way that you can develop your intuition is through exercises like the mantra O or AUM which develops the powers of the heart. So, sitting to pronounce a sacred sound. Mantra simply means mind protection, to guard your mind. You pronounce it prolonged:
Feel the vibration in your heart, your emotional center, let yourself relax, and fall asleep. That energy, provided by that vocalization, can aid you in awakening consciousness, that 3% of the essence that is asleep, and in that way you can learn to generate more insight. When you have those experiences you can interpret based on intuition and understanding symbols, generally what they mean.
So I thank you for coming!
The Gnostic Academy of Chicago
Free online courses, lectures, podcasts, and transcriptions.