The following transcription is from an audio lecture on Principles of Meditation, a course originally delivered live at the Gnostic Academy of Chicago.
We mentioned that meditation is a state of consciousness. It is not a technique. Although in this tradition, we study many practices, many dynamics, many exercises that lead to this state within our daily life.
Meditative states, experiences, cognizance can always be understood through the balance of two things: study and practice. This is known as method and wisdom within Buddhism and as Samael Aun Weor, the founder of our tradition stated: “Knowledge and being must be balanced within harmoniously in order to produce comprehension.”
So, we must have knowledge of the method, what different religions teach in their very heart, how to achieve the experience, the perception of the divine. This is why we, in this tradition, study many aspects of religion, because they all teach something very valuable about how to meditate.
In the spirit of this course, we are exploring the science of meditation as taught within Sufism, although we do reference and study Buddhism, Judaism, all religions. We must always study Gnosis wherever it may be found, because the principles of Gnosis are universal, and we know from our studies that Gnosis is direct knowledge. It is cognizant experience. It is the state of meditation, of understanding. And because mediation is universal, we can always drink the wine of Gnosis from a Sufi, Buddhist or Christian cup. The religious forms are different, but the complete knowledge is the same.
The Universality of Gnosis within Religious Traditions
It’s important that we learn to drink this wine, this divine teaching, within every tradition—without exception. But we also must never pollute the purity of that knowledge with extemporaneous things, with novelties, innovations. We must not adulterate the wine of Gnosis through a bad cup, through a filthy chalice.
This is the symbol of how meditation in different traditions throughout time originally taught this teaching, this profound science. But with time and the degeneration of humanity, those religious forms have been corrupted. So, in the times of Jesus, the gospels speak about the pharisees, which can really symbolize any person from any tradition who thinks they know Gnosis, the wisdom of direct experience, but they have merely corrupted the original teaching through belief. And we have mentioned many times in our lectures and courses that belief is not real knowledge, real faith.
When we believe in something, we think it is true or we feel it is true, but we do not know. Faith is Gnosis. It is what we have experienced. It is what we have verified, and this very pure fountain of wisdom which we always must drink from, which we always must validate through our own practice, through our own experiences.
And when we have that experience, we are able to look at any religion, any teaching, and find the principles of that doctrine, to recognize it, to know it, because we have seen it for ourselves. We know it for ourselves. But the pharisee, a type of psychology that thinks it knows, but does not, is prevalent in any tradition. As Jesus of Nazareth stated, the pharisees wash the outside of the cup, but not the inside, which is a symbol of the soul. It also can refer to a religion’s tradition, meditative traditions, where the principles of this doctrine have been lost, because people, thinking that they know and understand the scriptures from experience, they mix that wisdom with impurity.
Also, this is why Jesus stated, we must pour new wine in new wine-skins. It means to have a psychological attitude that is investigative, to open one’s mind to the new. And to simply experiment.
We have to look at these practices and really test them from our own experience, to really have genuine faith, to really know. This is a conundrum or a catch 22 for students who approach any tradition. They are inspired to want to know themselves, to study themselves, to experience divinity. But because we are so corrupt with ego, we often do not know where to look for that wisdom, and so in the beginning we are blind. This is why there is a great danger in the beginning for students: to simply attach themselves to any teaching without verifying or testing it, to accept and believe in it with their minds and hearts, but without awakening the consciousness.
We study all religions. We drink gnosis, direct experience, not only from the writings of Samael Aun Weor but from the Sufis, from the Buddhist masters, from the great Kabbalists of Israel. This indicates that we have to know how to read, to understand. We have to learn how to verify. We have to experiment. This is why we study all religions, unanimously. We look at their essential principles, to know what they all teach in their essence, so that we do not become confused or intoxicated by the wine of theories, of belief systems, of merely accepting or rejecting the doctrine in our mind and heart without really comprehending the value of it.
So, Gnosis again, is real faith. It is witnessing real divinity, which the Muslims call Shahada, the declaration of faith. There is no God but God and Muhammad is His Prophet. We explain the meaning of that term, Shahada, which relates to mushahada in Arabic, signifying mediation.
So, we are going to further explore the principles of meditation according to Sufism, in order to fill a very severe need in our studies. Many people are not familiar with how mediation is taught in the Sufi teaching, how Gnosis is within Sufism.
As we were talking about the allegory of the cup, we also have to be very careful when we study. Gnosis is often the mixed, the principles of meditation are often mixed with corruption.
Every tradition in time degenerates. It is a law of nature. It has happened with Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Islam and even today in the Gnostic tradition.
It is because the root knowledge is often overlooked, untaught or forgotten. To have real wisdom is based on experiencing the truth for ourselves, and in this way, we do not get lost. We do not get confused when we see or hear things that are not in coherence, do not correlate with what we have verified, and this is the importance of studying the divine law and the way, in harmony.
The divine law is that we serve divinity through our practices. The way is that we experience the truth. And in this way, in our process of developing both knowledge and being, studying the tradition and meditation, no matter where it is found―we also test and experiment, we verify. We always look at the principles of a teaching, to see what is pure, what is true, and then we disregard that which is superfluous, corrupted, unnecessary.
The Definition of Principles
I would like to define for you what the word principle means as we are opening this discussion. In the online dictionary, a principle “is a fundamental truth, a proposition that serves as the foundation of a system of belief or behavior or for a change of reasoning.”
A principle is a fundamental law or truth. It is what we can verify, what we can experience. This becomes a foundation for a system, which in this definition refers to “belief.” Or in this definition refers to belief, which is inaccurate.
While principles always make up any religion, in our studies we do not believe in these things. Some people may and they can teach what they like, they can get many followers because they really believe that they know. But we have to go beyond the surface and really get at the heart of what a teaching, a school, a method entails.
Principles can also refer to a code of behavior, which we spoke about very abundantly in the previous lecture on the nature of the divine law, and ethics.
It also can support a chain of reasoning, of understanding, of comprehension.
So, in the beginning of our studies we read, we reflect, we comprehend the knowledge with the mind. We learn the terminology, the explanations, but more importantly we have to apply what we read. This is the balance of knowledge and being. This is the balance that leads us and conducts us towards integrity, to comprehension.
A principle also is “a general scientific theorem or law that has numerous special applications across a wide field.” It can be a law, principles like gravity. These are tangible experiences. These are truths that are not merely just a concept. It is a factual element of life.
While the principles of meditation pertain to our mystical states, they refer to how we live our life daily. What we know, what we see, what we verify. We know that if we act with anger, we will suffer. This is a principle of law of human behavior, of ethics. Which is why ethics is always the foundation of any tradition in order to really enter meditation.
As we stated, we find Gnosis in all religions, without exception. Just because Gnosis was the heart of those traditions, not everything that was taught in those faiths has been sustained, has lived, has not been corrupted. It’s sad to say, there are many people who take the principles of meditation, the principles of Gnosis, the teachings of Samael Aun Weor, or Sufism or Judaism or Buddhism, and they adulterate them with drugs, with politics, sectarianism, fanaticism. Many even attribute these qualities to the original heart of the founders of the religions themselves. This is very sad. It creates a lot of confusion, a lot of conflict.
People project their concepts onto the knowledge, and that is how one adulterates the knowledge. Because of a lack of genuine ethics, of following the divine law, many so called spiritual people have driven people away from the actualization or study of themselves. We find this in every faith, especially Islam, which is a tradition that has been greatly abused.
Hopefully, after this course, you will find that the principles of Gnosis are very alive within the original writings, which we always have to examine in light of our own experience and through teachings by Samael Aun Weor, who gives a very cohesive and comprehensive perspective, a practical wisdom that can aid us in understanding these things for ourselves.
As Samael Aun Weor wrote in The Revolution of Beelzebub:
“It is absurd to adulterate Gnosis with different teachings because the Christian Gospels prohibit adultery. It is absurd to conceive of Gnosis without the Maithuna, sexual magic.” ―Samael Aun Weor, The Revolution of Beelzebub
We will make some references to that teaching, tantrism, sacred alchemy, with our discussion of essential principles today.
“We can drink the wine of Gnosis (divine wisdom) within a Greek, Buddhist, Sufi, Aztec, Egyptian, etc., cup, yet we must not adulterate this delicious wine with strange doctrines.” ―Samael Aun Weor wrote in The Revolution of Beelzebub:
This means that, we look at what the Sufis wrote, what the Gnostics wrote, and we verify. We look at those traditions with the eye of discrimination and selectivity. We have to look at the essential principles of these traditions and to understand them from experience. There is no other way.
The way must be validated through the divine law and the divine law must be validated through the way.
So, in this way, Bayazid Bastami, a Sufi initiate, stated “The thing we tell of can never be found by seeking, yet only seekers find it.”
So, we can never seek for genuine knowledge, just through mere intellectual pursuit. We have to understand these things through practice. So genuine seeking is through daily meditation, daily experience.
The Fundamentals of Meditation: Study and Practice
So how should we approach meditation? To emphasize my previous point, we have to look at the original scriptures. We have to look at the original writings, before commentators or commentary derived from those root sources. Whether we study Buddhism or Sufism or any teaching, we have to look at the founding documents, the original verb, the fundamentals of religion. To really look at it with a clear mindset, an attitude of investigation.
The following is from a Sufi book called Al-Risalah, known as Principles of Sufism, written by a master by the name of Al-Qushayri. His writings were often used by the Sufi master Rumi, amongst the Mevlevi Sufis, his disciples. It is a very rich book that you can study if you wish to understand the principles of Sufism, the principles of Gnosis. We quote from this book extensively because it is a very pure document. If I give testimony of this, it is because it is a text that I have investigated many times and have had experiences internally about, in the astral plane, in the mental plane, beyond.
We have to learn to investigate the written word and to reflect deeply on what we read to balance study and practice, method and wisdom. This is what it means when Al-Jurayri was quoted in this book:
“A clear vision of the fundamentals of religion comes about through the application of their derivative principles, and the derivatives are corrected by comparing them against the original sources. There is no way to the station of contemplation (meditation, mushahada) of states except by esteeming as great the means and principles that God has esteemed to be great.” ―Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri
So, the fundamentals of religion refer to the Latin religare, reunion, unification with divinity. We must study and apply, more importantly, derivative principles. What are these principles? Serenity, concentration, faith, ethical behavior, codes of conduct, divine love. These are qualities of mind, of consciousness, qualities of the soul that we can develop intentionally, so as to achieve re-unification with our inner God. We have to study and apply these principles in our daily life through our ethical behavior. The derivatives refer to qualities of consciousness that originate from those laws.
So, a principle is a law, a law of nature, whether in the physical plane or in the internal planes.
What principles do we enact in our life in order to obtain religion? What do we do on a daily basis to guarantee we will experience and know the state of our inner Being, our inner God? What about our life derives from these principles?
By fulfilling ethical conduct, what is the derivative, what is the result in our factual daily life? We have to investigate this. But to know these principles, we can study. This is the beauty of Sufism. It teaches us the level of Being, what we are psychologically, what are the virtues of the soul. So, when we comprehend and eliminate certain defects, we enact ethical behavior and really comprehend our faults. We develop the virtues of the Being in us. We derive genuine contentment, happiness, liberation by following these laws of the soul.
Sufism is very beautiful for that understanding. It teaches us about the virtues of the Being. We can experience these things if we are working seriously. So, “these derivatives are corrected by comparing them against the original sources.”
Another meaning is, we can study the writings of many teachers whether from Buddhism, Sufism, Judaism, Gnosticism. But whenever we really study a tradition, we have to really look at the founder of those faiths. We have to look at the original sources to analyse them, to really understand them, intellectually at first, and then through our experience. So, what I mean by the original sources is the writings of the Buddha, the sutras, the tantras. The writings of Padmasambhava. In Islam, the Qur’an. In the Gnostic tradition, the writings of Samael Aun Weor. We have to look at the original writings of the prophets, beings who really demonstrated a high level of integrity and understanding, the writings of Jesus or the scriptures about Christ. We have to look at these original sources, compare them to everything else that came after, because the writings or teachings of the prophets have precedence. They have the most light or knowledge.
We have to study where the light is most pure and learn to compare what came afterwards with the sense of integrity and discrimination, because impurity comes later. The light initiates, but the shadow emerges afterwards.
It is good to really be studious. It doesn’t me we just become bookworms. It means we develop our understanding with a lot of patience and practice, because “there is no way to the stage of contemplation, the witnessing of divine states except by esteeming as great the means and principles that God has esteemed to be great” in the teaching of the prophets. They gave methods and means, principles of divinity, laws of the cosmos that are really divine.
We have to really understand what these laws are for ourselves because there is a system. There is a way. There is a path. It is specific. It is based on laws. It is not a belief or a concept to adopt, a behavior to imitate superficially. It is a code of conduct, a way of acting consciously. It is the fulfillment of law, the law of causality. Because the soul cannot be created, the consciousness cannot be developed, if we do not apply the principles or laws that ensure its fulfillment in us. Just as there is a law of gravity, there is a law for developing the soul.
If we wish to return to God, we have to learn to adopt and practice and understand how those laws of divinity operate based on facts. And in this way, when we see how this teaching works, how ethics works, how compassion is really the essence of religion, of harmonizing communities, of bringing real peace and love in our own life and the lives of others―we realize with awe that it is a beautiful knowledge. It is a great thing, that is so wonderful that it is incomprehensible to the mind.
When we experience those states of beatitude, of compassion, of serenity, it truly transforms us. This is how we empower our practice, when we have those experiences. But first we have to study and apply the knowledge. We have to know the principles of God, the principles of meditation, and to work very diligently to experience them. But not out of craving, the desire that wants to have some kind of Samadhi or mystical experience, but simply changing our daily life, working on behaviors that make us suffer, so that we can obtain a state of knowledge, the certainty that certain ways of behaving are wrong, create problems and certain ways of behaving also produce harmony, happiness. This is how we inspire ourselves and this is how we develop certainty, real faith that this knowledge works.
Certainty in Meditation
This is why we are going to examine some writings from the Qur’an that talk a lot about this nature of certainly, of real faith. So, everybody in this knowledge, this teaching of Samael Aun Weor, wants to develop certainty. Every practitioner who is really applying meditation wants to have that verification of the truth, wants to have a foundation, an experience―to really know that we know and that we have experienced God, that we know divinity, in whatever level, because there are degrees of knowledge, but also there are degrees of certainty.
There are some very beautiful teachings within this Muslim scripture. I will preface this discussion by saying the Qur’an is a very closed book. It is a book for initiates, people who are really walking the path of meditation, of the science of alchemy (from the Arabic Allah and the Greek khēmeia), to fuse oneself with divinity in the perfect matrimony, and also the study of Kabbalah.
We know that Kabbalah is the Jewish mysticism, and we will talk about the Tree of Life near the end of this lecture, how the Hebrew kabbel means “to receive” knowledge that we are certain of from experience, relating to our physical life and internal life. Just as there is Kabbalah within the Jewish tradition, we also have Kabbalah in the Arabic tradition, because Arabic and Hebrew, the Semitic languages, share the same roots. They are very ancient.
We always must study the science of meditation, the science of alchemy, if we are married. If we are a single person, we can practice many exercises that work with energy so as to awaken consciousness. This is the science of transmutation, of mutating the creative force of our body into understanding, into light.
The Three Forms of Certainty
There are three forms of certainty within the Qur’an which can help us to understand the whole map of meditation and our own experiences. I have included the Qur’anic verses where you find these terms mentioned and I will read for you excerpts from the Qur’an that talk about these principles. There is the knowledge of certainty ilm al-yaqin. There is the seeing of certainty, ayn al-yaqin, and there is the truth of certainty ḥaqq al-yaqin.
So, what is the knowledge of certainty? It refers to what we know with the intellect. It can study a religion, a system, a principle, a faith. We can have a certain level of certainty in our mind, intellectually that we know. We learn the theory, the concepts, the languages, the terms. We see how the system works, at least in the mind. We have concepts that are organised, a type of rationalization which is necessary in the beginning. This is why when we talked about the definition of principles, it is also “a fundamental truth for supporting a chain of reasoning.” This knowledge is very logical. It is very dynamic, concrete.
Knowledge of certainty refers to things making sense in our readings and our studies, because we have to have that knowledge in the intellect first.
However, we can’t just leave that there. We have to really see with certainty what those principles entail. This is the second level of certainty, ayn al-yaqin.
Al-yaqin means "certainty." Ilm means "knowledge" and ayn, if you studied Kabbalah, refers to sight, the eyes of perception.
To see with certainty means we have experienced what that knowledge entails. We can be reading about astral projection, dream yoga, meditation, samadhi and have that knowledge of certainty in our intellect, of what that teaching entails. This is good, but the next step is to really practice and to experience and see that truth for ourselves. So not just hearing about an astral projection or reading about it, but actually experiencing it for yourself. That is ayn al-yaqin, the seeing of certainty. It is what we have verified.
But there is an even deeper level to that knowledge. Ḥaqq al-yaqin, the truth of certainty. This is a very profound level of knowledge and we mentioned in our previous lecture that Haqiqah is the truth, the highest teaching of yoga, of religion, of meditation. It is the profound knowledge Maʿrifa of the truth Al-Ḥaqq, which is one of the names of Allah in the Qur’an.
To have the truth of certainty means not only just having an astral projection, which is very beautiful, very powerful, very profound. It means to have a tremendous samadhi in which the soul is lost within the Being, in which we become the Being. The Being manifests in us, a state of happiness and liberation that is truly undefinable, profound, beyond words.
It means to be completely free of the ego. There is no ego there. No “I.” No “me” nor “myself.” There is only Al-Ḥaqq, the Truth, which is why the Sufi master, Mansur al-Hallaj stated before the orthodox Muslims, “Ana 'l-Ḥaqq.” He said, “I Am the Truth!” which of course scandalized those people who were very fanatic and religious, institutionalized, dogmatic, because Ḥaqq is one of the names of God, and basically, he said “I am God.”
However, people did not understand that it wasn’t Mansur Al-Hallaj who said that. It was the truth within him saying that. Just as Jesus said, “before Abraham was, I Am.” Only divinity can say that, and that’s a very high level of attainment, the level of a master who is reaching perfection.
It is very profound, and don’t think that you cannot have that experience to a degree in the beginning, because your Being can give you that knowledge, that certainty, if He wants. You just have to be diligent about your work, but don’t get confused after those experiences thinking that we are God, because we are not. We know from experience what divinity is. We have the truth of certainty. We know it. But we return back to our body, from our experiences from dream yoga or whatever, and then we learn to walk our daily life, to continue working, because the experience of the truth does not mean the complete realization of that truth.
Mythomania and the Death of the Ego
In order to self-realize we need to annihilate the ego. This is the problem with certain people in our tradition who have an experience of the truth, the truth of certainty. They unite with God and then they come back saying “I am the Master So-and-so… Follow me!” This has led to many problems in the movement, because experience of the truth is temporary. Self-realization is something else. This is not to denigrate those experiences, because we need those experiences. We need to have truth of certainty in meditation.
We need to know these things for ourselves, but it doesn’t mean that we become mythomaniacs. It’s a term we use in this knowledge, to make a myth of manas, myth of mind. The mind thinking it is God. It is not [Editor’s Note: the term mania is well known as a delirious state of grandeur within psychotherapy and studies on mental illness. See the Spiritual and Mental Health Course for more information on this topic].
So, the consciousness can experience the truth, can see the truth. The mind can have knowledge of certainty knowledge of the truth and the intellect, but the actual experience is something else. The consciousness is not the mind. The consciousness can see with more or less clarity, but to know the truth of certainty we have to be free of ego, even if just for a temporary moment in our meditations.
States of the Truth
The Sufi Master Ibn 'Arabi stated that, “knowledge of certainty is like hearing about a fire.” He said that the “seeing of certainty is like seeing a fire, and the truth of certainty is being burnt by fire.” Degrees of knowledge, degrees of experience. But don’t think these types of states are inaccessible to you. Many people hear about these truths and they become overwhelmed, feeling like it is impossible for them to know this truth, to know these experiences for themselves.
This is why in the Qur’an, chapter 50, verses 15 through 16, states:
“Did We fail in the first creation? But they are in confusion over a new creation. And We have already created man and know what his soul whispers to him, and We are closer to him than his jugular vein.” ―Al-Qaf 15-16
There is a lot of interesting teachings in this verse. “Did We fail in the first creation?” says divinity. This first creation is the birth of our body, our physical conception. When speaking about people who don’t really practice mediation, they are in confusion over a new creation. This new creation is the soul, the soul that we develop. The body is one thing. The soul is another. We have to create the consciousness, build consciousness, develop consciousness. In this way we form the true man, the true Hum-man. Hum means spirit in Sanskrit. Man or manas means mind [Hu is also a mantra amongst Sufi schools, representing the breath of God]. A mind that is fully united with divinity, the spirit, that is a true Hum-man.
Divinity in the Qur’an states, “And We have already created man and know what his soul whispers to him.” This is a very high level to attain, to be a real man or a true human being, a woman. “And We are closer to him than his jugular vein.”
People think divinity is far away, but God is with us in every moment. This is why is Ihsan (beautiful action) is to act as if we see God even if we do not, because surely He sees us.
Divinity, the Being, has been given many names in the Qur’an. He is:
We work with meditation, we work with exercises of energy known as transmutation, and we work to serve humanity, to help humanity. We learn these states of being, through applying the principles of meditation. This is what leads us to the three forms of certainty.
We have to learn how to first study what these qualities are, but then we have to see them from experience, and if we are really serious, our Being will enter us and help us, will manifest in our deeds, will manifest and express in our daily life as these qualities: Al-Murid, "The Willing"; Al-Raḥman, "The Compassionate"; Al-Raḥim, "The Merciful"; Al-Alim, "The All-Knowing"; Al-Wadud, "The Loving"; Al-Khaliq, "The Creator"―principles, laws of the soul, laws of divinity, which are very high.
Qur’anic Verses on the Three Certainties
We can taste these in meditation and in our daily life if we are working seriously, working daily. So, it is a means to have knowledge and seeing of certainty. I will read for you some excerpts from the Qur’an where we find these verses, these terms. The knowledge and seeing of certainty are found in Surah 102, known as Al-Takathur: “Rivalry in Worldly Increase.”
This scripture refers to how people, when they approach meditation, or they approach religion, are often afflicted by desire for pursuing worldly things. To have real knowledge of certainty and seeing of certainty is to contemplate the inevitability of death, because if we don’t live our life seriously with this type of knowledge, we don’t know where we are going to go when we die. But if we awaken our perception, we develop the seeing of certainty, we can know everything, then we can generally access the truth.
“Competition in [worldly] increase diverts you
Until you visit the graveyards.
No! You are going to know.
Then no! You are going to know.
No! If you only knew with knowledge of certainty...
You will surely see the Hellfire
(states of suffering, the future that awaits those that do not eliminate the ego).
Then you will surely see it with the eye of certainty.
Then you will surely be asked that Day about pleasure”
(meaning vain worldly pleasures). ―Al-Takathur
So, if we are serious about meditation, and many times and in many traditions, students are asked to meditate about the certainty of their own death, the death of the body. This is in order to develop commitment to the path. If we are serious about our spirituality, we realise that we cannot waste our time on superfluous things, because eventually we will go to the grave and enter into the internal worlds.
If we are asleep in this physical world, we won’t have certainty of that state of consciousness when we die. This is a very scary thing to think about, because when we physically go to sleep, we black out for eight hours, typically, and we do not remember anything. This indicates that we are asleep consciously in the physical world. However, if we want to have real experiences, real certainty of the afterlife, we have to awaken here and now.
The truth of certainty is given in Surah 56 Al-Waqi’ah (The Inevitable) of which we will read a few excerpts.
“Indeed, it is a noble Qur’an in a register well protected. None touch it except for the purified.” ―Al-Waqi’ah 77-79
So, the Qur’an in Arabic means recitation. It is recorded as a scripture in the internal planes according to the Sufis, guarded by the Elohim or Buddhas, the angels, the masters. It is only accessible to those who are purifying themselves, for those who have the truth of certainty.
What does it mean to be purified? It means to work on our own mind, our own egotism, our defects. If we do not comprehend our own errors and work to eliminate them, we cannot develop our spiritual sight. We cannot awaken within the internal dimensions. The reason why we may not have experiences in the beginning is because of our own psychological obscurations, our defects. If you wish to see the internal worlds, wish to see within meditation what we are, we must remove the veil of our understanding, of the mind.
So, like any scripture, we can only interpret when we are pure, when we have awakened our consciousness. We move beyond the knowledge of certainty. We see it for ourselves and by the grace of divinity we can have that truth unveiled in its totality.
“It is a revelation from the Lord of the worlds. Then is it to this statement that you are indifferent and make the thanks for your provision that you deny the Provider?” ―Al-Waqi’ah 80-82
Many people are indifferent, even in Gnosis. What does it mean to be indifferent to any religious or spiritual teaching? It means to be asleep. To not feel the urgency to want to change. If we do not feel that longing in our heart to want to know and to give thanks to our inner divinity, it means that we are very hypnotized by our own mind. We are indifferent. We are cold, lukewarm according to the Bible. But anyone of us who is studying this type of knowledge feels a spiritual inquietude, the impetus of the Being that is pushing us to work, to develop the genuine truth of certainty in ourselves. The way we can develop this further is to meditate on our own death. Which is why the Qur’an states:
“Then why, when the soul at death reaches the throat and you are at that time looking on, and our angels are nearer to him than you, but you do not see. Then why do you not, if you are not be recompensed, bring it back if you should be truthful? And if the deceased was of those brought near to Allah, then for him is rest and bounty and a garden of pleasure.” ―Al-Waqi’ah 83-89
So many people lead their life mechanically and then they die, not knowing where they will go or where thy came from, and this is very sad. Anyone of us who is studying meditation is pushed by our own inner God. We have the longings to want to really see the mysteries of life and death, to be inspired. It is this inspiration that pushes us to experiment, to know, because we fear and we have that anxiety that we do not know where we are going and that if we do not work on our own conduct, we may end up in states of suffering worse than our present life, because the divine law is cause and effect. We will reap what we sow.
And if we think that we will not be recompensed for our wrong action, then simply look at our life. If we are honest, “bring your proof if you are truthful!” We cannot deny the law of causality. It is in every aspect of nature and the universe. There is this law of Shariah, the divine law.
But if we are brought near to our inner Being, Allah, through meditation, through practice, “then for him or her is rest and bounty in a garden of pleasure.”
“And if he was of the companions of the right (those people who are following this path), then the angels will say, ‘Peace for you, you are from companions of the right.’ But if he was one of the deniers who went astray (the people who feed their ego, who do not work on their mind), then for him is the accommodation of scaling water and burning in hell fire.” ―Al-Waqi’ah 90-94
What is this left-hand path and right-hand path? We will not go into too much detail here, but the right-hand path refers to people who are working to incarnate the Being, who are eliminating the ego. The left-hand path is often referred to as the path of the sorcerers, of black magicians, people who fortify desire and who enter states of suffering which are very intense.
So “Indeed, this is the true certainty. So exalt the name of your Lord, the Most Great.” That is the end of that Surah.
This is true certainty, and many people often get very afraid when they read the Qur’an. They see the language as very strong, mentioning damnation and hell fire and states of suffering, and become very afraid and very averse to this tradition. But if we waken our consciousness in the internal planes, we find that we are recompensed for what we do. It is the law of nature. If we are good people, we develop our conduct and develop certainty, we know that we will go to better states when physically the body dies. But if we are passionate, filled with hatred, with violence, with adultery, with sarcasm, with Phariseeism, fanaticism, egotism, we will naturally follow the trajectory of our own actions. This is the truth and certainty. The law, the truth, Al-Ḥaqq. It is the way to see how to get out of that, and meditation aids us in that process.
Psychological Work and the Signs of God
Everybody in Gnosis wants to have experiences, as I have been stating. Many people start to practice meditation and do not have experiences. They become very frustrated and discouraged. This happens often and it is a normal process, because it is not easy to first work on our mind, and that’s the priority in this tradition. We do not seek to have experiences, though they are very beautiful and necessary, but the priority is working on our own defects.
This is why it says in the Qur’an Surah 2 as Al-Baqara, verse 118:
“Those who have no knowledge (ilm or marifah in Arabic) say why does not Allah speak to us or come to us a sign?” ―Al-Baqarah 118
Meaning through some kind of meditative experience.
“So said those who were before them, words similar to what they say. Alike are their hearts.” ―Al-Baqarah 118
What does it mean that their hearts are alike? If they want to have experiences, they’re attached to the concept of having Samadhi or mystical vision. For their hearts are lukewarm, their hearts have not been purified.
Remember that we stated in the Qur’an that the Qur’an is only read by those who are purified, and can only be understood in that way. Prophet Muhammad taught in the Hadith, the oral tradition of Islam, “There is an organ in the body which, when it is pure, affects the whole health of the organism. When it is impure it pollutes everything. This organ is the heart, and the polish of the heart is Dhikr, remembrance of God.”
It is like a mirror. If you polish your heart through ethical conduct, your heart can reflect the heavens. Then experience comes naturally, easily. This is why the Qur’an states:
“We have certainly made the signs clear for the people who have certainty.” ―Al-Baqarah 118
We have verified it. But of course, certainty of the truth only comes about by working on the ego, which is why Al-Qushayri in his book Principles of Sufism stated:
“Uncertainty, knowledge does not come about except by the prior fulfillment of its conditions. That is, one must examine things in a pertinent and relevant way.” ―Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri
So, this is the beginning, as we were stating. Study the doctrine, memorize it, develop certainty of knowledge. Be pertinent and relevant. Look at those things in your daily life that you want to change the most and look at the aspects of the doctrine that are most relevant to that.
Some people study Kabbalah first, some people psychology, meditation, alchemy. We have to study all these things together in their relationship, but how our study unfolds is natural to us, our own idiosyncrasy. We have to examine things in a very relevant way. Study meditation, how to practice it and apply it to your life. This is what is most important, pertinent.
When we are studying these things and applying these things:
“The when the hints of the divine become continuous and clear demonstrative evidence has been obtained, the perceiver (the meditator), through the succession of lights and his deep reflection upon them, becomes seemingly independent of the consideration of proof.“ ―Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri
As we are practicing, we may experience many things. We develop evidence from our own experience. It is demonstrative. It is factual. Some people when they are meditating may see lights, images, scenes pulling out or playing out within their consciousness. Some people have visions, astral experiences, jinn experiences. When deeply reflecting on these qualities, through time, experience and practice, we become seemingly independent of the consideration of proof. Meaning we are no longer filled with the desire to want to prove these things egotistically.
The desire or the mind says, “I want to know,” but this frustration is the obstacle. We can deeply reflect on these truths, but we do not necessarily crave the understanding or experience. It will appear in our consciousness when we stop thinking about it.
When we silence our mind, relax our mind and withdraw our senses from the physical world, from our body, when the mind is serene and calm, our heart is purified. The deep reflection, the lights of divinity can reflect in us. “This is the state of certainty.” That is when we know we have experiences.
But first polish the mirror. As Rumi stated, “Your goal is not to seek after love, but to merely remove the causes and conditions that have prevented you from knowing it.” Meaning, remove the ego, and in that way we grow spiritually.
The Tree of Life: A Map of Consciousness
When we study the principles of meditation, we are going to study the Tree of Life in its synthesis. The Tree of Life on the left is the map of Kabbalah, is the levels of consciousness, levels of being, which the Sufis speak abundantly about without using the Hebrew language.
We won’t explain all the dynamics of this Tree of Life, but merely introduce it in the context of our discussion, because this map helps us to understand where we are, where we are in our meditation. We have to learn this Tree of Life very deeply, its levels of consciousness, levels of being, so that when we study any scriptures, such as the Qur’an, we can interpret with clarity, with understanding. In this way we apply these principles to our life, so that we can really deepen our meditative practice.
For example, we have the lower seven sephiroth, which means spheres [emanations] in Hebrew. It is a map of the multi-dimensionality of our universe, of the different dimensions of the cosmos, but also of our own psyche.
We have Malkuth, the physical body.
We have Yesod, the energetic, ethereal or vital forces which permeates our physicality and gives it life.
We have Hod, our emotional vehicle or body of dreams. We operate in this vehicle when we enter the dream world, which we navigate in those planes of experience when the physical body is asleep.
Likewise we have Netzach, which is our mind, our thoughts.
We have Tiphereth, our willpower or human soul. It is the beauty of the soul, which the Muslims have referred to with the name Hassan. Hassan reminds us of Ihsan, meaning: beautiful action. It is through our own will that we can act beautifully through divinity, which is our consciousness.
Geburah, meaning justice in Hebrew, is the consciousness, our sense of right and wrong.
Our intuition which tells us what to do, how to act. Sometimes our will in daily life may act egotistically, may follow our own mind or emotions, may misuse our vital energies and the physical body.
Or other times we learn to use our will, to follow our hunches, our spiritual inquietudes, our conscience, which is Geburah, the divine soul.
In this way we learn to practice ethics, so that we can experience the spirit, Al-Ḥaqq, the Truth, Chesed.
On the right we see an image of a Tree of Life within Islam, because the Muslims didn’t explicitly teach about this Tree of Life, although in their writings you can understand those principles, if we are informed, which is part of the purpose of this course, so we can look at these principles and apply them to our studies.
Meditation is experience for when we learn to work with the Tree of Life in us. Calm the body, rest our vital energies, such as through mantras, sacred sounds, alchemy, runes, pranayama, sacred rights of rejuvenation.
We calm our heart through prayer, through humility, through polishing our emotional center, our emotional qualities.
We silence and calm our mind. Withdraw our senses from the physical body, our energies, our emotions, our thoughts.
We concentrate our willpower in order to reflect within, to follow our intuition, our consciousness.
In that way we can have experiences of the spirit.
That’s a very synthetic way of talking about this dynamic. We will come back to this again and again, but I merely wanted to introduce this Tree of Life in the context of our course, because we will go very deep into these principles.
Silence and Insight
So, what are these essential principles of meditation that we have been discussing? In the Gnostic tradition, we have concentration and imagination, produces the state of meditation.
Concentration is the ability to focus on one thing, without thinking of anything else.
Imagination is our capacity to perceive images of a nonphysical type. So, if I was to ask you to imagine an apple, you can see it in your mind. It is not physical, but we perceive images that are not physical. That’s a very simple example of this quality. It is the capacity to perceive internal imagery, such as through dreams.
If we wish to have that type of perception very developed, we have to work with many exercises to develop our imagination, which we will be explaining in this course.
Concentration is when we are able to focus on one thing with our willpower, our attention, without being distracted.
We develop our concentration through ethics. If our mind is wild, we can’t concentrate or focus on one thing when we sit to practice, if we are engaging in unethical behavior all day.
We feed our anger, our mind becomes agitated. We feel lust, we pollute our mind stream with conditions of mind, desire, which are contrary to the state of imagination. We can’t see clearly if the mind is chaos.
This is the meaning of polishing the heart. The heart is developed through our ethics. When the heart is polished, we can reflect the images of God, and this is the state of meditation. So, this is the Gnostic conception of this dynamic.
Concentration, imagination equals meditation, the state of comprehension.
The Buddhists refer to this as Shamatha and Vipassana, which relates and completes Samadhi, mystical experience.
The Sufis refer to this dynamic as silence and insight, which refers to witnessing the truth.
They all teach the same thing. While you may be familiar with the Buddhist conception or the gnostic teaching of this dynamic, we are going to explore these principles according to Sufism.
So, by obtaining silence of mind, serenity of mind, we develop understanding or insight. We can see things clearly in us. And of course, there are many practices to develop serenity, concentration, and there are also practices to develop imagination.
The Key to Successful Worship
To conclude, in order to develop certainty in us, to develop real worship of divinity, we have to combine silence and insight, according to the Sufis. Serenity and visualization, concentration, imagination. Dhul-Nun al-Misri was a Sufi initiate who wrote the following:
“The key to success and worship lies in meditative reflection, fikrat. Whoever persists in such reflection in the heart will behold the invisible realm in the spirit.” ―Dhul-Nun al-Misri
So, this means: polish your mind, polish your heart, act ethically, develop compassion for others, especially when you are tempted to behave in negative ways. Work on anger. Look in yourself at anger. See it for what it is. Comprehend it. reflect upon it. See it. Develop serenity in you so that when you are working on your mind in mediation, you can go deep.
Reflect on yourself, be deep, be profound. In this way we awaken our consciousness to behold the invisible realm, the Tree of Life, in the spirit.
“Whosoever contemplates God through keeping watch over their thoughts which pass through his heart will be exalted by God and in all his outward deeds.” ―Dhul-Nun al-Misri
This is the meaning of “Truly We are closer to you then your jugular vein.” Whomsoever acts by working on their own mind, their own thoughts, by what they can perceive, here and now, will learn to purify themselves. It is only by purifying our mind, by acting ethically that we develop genuine serenity, silence, and eventually insight and understanding.
So, we will be examining these principles very deeply, in the coming months. I would like to invite you to ask questions.
Questions and Answers
Question: I have a question in regard to an indifferent approach. My question is that in a lot of Samael’s teachings, he talks about how we should also have an attitude of indifference towards the studies, not necessarily what you meant as how I understood it, which was to approach it with a state of equanimity (as of that indifference). Not like the attitude of what you said, like laziness, not having the fuel to go after those experiences. Could you please expand a little on that?
Instructor: Absolutely. Very good comment. What Samael Aun Weor mentions about practicing with indifference, has to do with, as you said, being neutral. Having a state of equanimity, not being driven by passion or craving to have experiences, but neither wanting to reject what we see, but to verify and to test.
So, there are two forms of indifference, as you mentioned, and that we were talking about. One is to be in a state of equanimity and to be scientific―test and verify. Look at what the teachings provide. Practice them, but do not expect an immediate reward. Neither fear what the outcome may be, but simply work with them and try them with an open mind.
This is the meaning of pouring new wine in new wine skins, or a new cup, a fresh cup. We learn to drink that experience and those practices by trying them, and seeing what works from experience. But the other term of indifference is (in terms of the Qur’anic language) not really caring about or having an inspiration to want to practice at all.
So, it’s a very different thing as you know. One thing is to practice with the neutral, equanimitous state of mind, but one thing is to be so lazy and intellectual to not want to try anything at all. The latter state is very common in the Gnostic movement, or any tradition really. People may like to study intellectually and are very fascinated by theory and they have the knowledge of certainty of things, but they are really lukewarm when it comes to dedication. Dedication is fulfilled when we practice this science
Question: Would it be accurate to say that serving humanity, showing compassion to others, helping in a soup kitchen for e.g. is wonderful and great thing to do, but to really serve humanity is to act ethically, to not act of negative emotions, not act out of the “I’s,” try not to dominate moments or always be right or point out how others are wrong? Is it accurate to say serving humanity is ethics?
Instructor: Absolutely, because any type of service becomes corrupt if we do it with our desires. If we are working on our anger, our pride, our fear and our negative internal states, that’s going to be the greatest form of worship. It is what Dhul-Nun al-Misri teaches too, and many other Sufis.
While we do not negate the need to want to help other people, we perfect that art when we are being patient with ourselves and other people. In terms of serving humanity, we have our jobs, we have our careers. We have certain services that we are doing to genuinely help others, but that quality of that service is contingent upon our own mental states.
So, they go both hand in hand, but more importantly if we are going to serve well, we have to work on our ego. That is really the greatest form of sacrifice and service, because we can work at job that we really hate, that is very difficult and yet it is where our Being needs us to be.
Personally, I have a job that is very difficult. I work with very difficult clients who test me all the time, who are very negative, and many times I have wanted to quit my job. I have wanted to leave because its been a very painful process. But I found that my Being has put me there, and I have verified this through experiences many times, in order to work on my patience, work on my ethics and work on my mind. When I have been able to change my own negative internal states, my own frustration and anger, I have really been able to serve humanity better at that job.
Our greatest form of prayer for divinity is when we comprehend and annihilate anger, which is why Prophet Muhammad taught “The strongest amongst you is he who controls his anger.” We can’t really help other people if we are afflicted by our own desires.
So they relate to each other: service and death of the ego. They are two aspects of the same thing, including the other factor, which is birth. Birth, death and sacrifice―the three factors of Gnosis. Of course, it’s a form of prayer in which we no longer react to life, we contemplate God in our thoughts, our deeds and our hearts. When we do not act on our ego, but act virtuously, God exalts us and helps us with certain meditative states and experiences. Hope that answers your question.
Question: Yes, definitely thank you. So, the sacrifice and the serving of humanity, that can come through voluntary suffering, whereas the suffering is when you are in an ordeal and you want to argue back and prove that you right, show that you are the victim in the situation but instead you do not act on your anger, your pride and that’s voluntary. Its hard because you want to point out that you are being wronged but instead you take the higher road, and that’s voluntary suffering, correct?
Instructor: Absolutely, and that is really the foundation of developing certainty. People want to experience God, but they do not want to work on the veil that covers them. When we are angry, we do not see God. We see anger. We want to hurt, but if you are changing your mental states, you are tearing the veil of Isis according to the Freemasons. In that way we can really serve the other person, especially when they are crucifying us, metaphorically speaking.
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