This is a transcription of an audio lecture from Beginning Self-Transformation, originally given live at the Gnostic Academy of Chicago:
The faculty of imagination is truly a compelling force within nature, within art, within humanity. Despite the grandeur and beauty of modern architecture, ancient sculptures, the greatest poetry in literature humanity has ever received, people tend to consider the faculty of imagination as something made up, superficial, vain.
We have examples like J.R.R. Tolkien, who is considered highly imaginative for creating an entire world in his books [The Lord of the Rings]. There are many examples of people with a tremendous imagination. We can think of business-people, poets, writers, artists; and while western society looks upon imagination as if it is a play thing for children, we tend to value, paradoxically, and worship people who have a tremendous capacity for imagination.
All the great works of humanity were developed by seers, visionaries, prophets. The geniuses of our modern society who have invented airplanes, the cell phone, iPhone, etc., possessed a small portion of the full potential of imagination.
So while these inventions and gifts to humanity have revolutionized everything, people don't like to look in themselves for the source of that very same potentiality.
Things exist first in the world of the mind. We imagine things first and then later, we create, we manifest, we embody, we perform, we do.
Imagination is the natural function of an awakened consciousness. In a superficial sense, we use imagination all the time. We forgot where we put our keys. We suddenly remember or recall with an image in the mind where in our home we left them. We forgot where we parked; we visualize the streets we were at, the places we visited. Or in travel, we imagine where we are headed, our destination, our goals.
So imagination is the capacity to see images in the mind. It is the ability to receive internal imagery, and while people like to think of imagination as the originator of fantasies, illusions, dreams, the truth is that imagination is a profound faculty of consciousness. It allows us to exist, to interact, to have life. If we could not imagine, we could not do, because it is the capacity to see imagery, which is more than just physical sensations, perceptions to the eyes, our vision.
There is an entire world open to the meditator if we learn to access through that same faculty called imagination, but in an intentional, controlled, intentional way.
Imagination and Serenity: The Keys to Meditation
Imagination along with concentration are the keys to meditation. Serenity must be combined with imagination to visualize, to see. This opens the doorway to wisdom, experience, self-knowledge. It is “clear seeing” [French: clairvoyance] within the mind, within the consciousness. This is how we access our inner God, which in our studies we did nominate “Being,” a quality of consciousness, a defined state, a presence embodying qualities like compassion, serenity, wisdom, understanding.
So in this course, we have been using an image of a man walking into a head filled with stars, with the heavens, with the divine, the cosmos, the universal soul, which the Gnostics denominate Christ, the Christic consciousness: a superlative awakened state of omniscience, of knowing the universe, and the divine—the gods, the angels, the buddhas, whatever name we like to give to those perfected human beings.
It is precisely through visualization within ourselves that we enter the mysteries, that we verify the truth contained within any religious, mystical, contemplative, or meditative tradition. But unfortunately, the faculty of imagination is atrophied, especially in the West.
We do not use our consciousness well—in fact, very little, or nothing at all. This is the result of ignorance of methods that can train and develop that perception with clarity, with depth. Modern science is only beginning to understand and explore the possibilities of imagination. For example, as recently as the past two decades, scientists believe, materialistic science believes that the highest capacity for retaining a mental image, a visualized image in the brain, in the minimum, is about 20 to 25 seconds. However, with studies of advanced Buddhism, meditation, visualization, and yoga, in the spiritual sense, are validating what the great masters of meditation have verified for millennia.
So to emphasize that we can develop our imagination, I like to relate to you an excerpt from a book called Supernormal by Dean Radin. He is a doctor of the Institute of Noetic Studies. He performs and relates research on the paranormal, on faculties like clairvoyance, clear vision, which is another term for imagination of which we will elaborate. The following is from Chapter Two, pages 30-31. This is in relation to the Buddhist teaching of deity yoga, of which he explains:
"Certain meditative practices of Buddhist monks involve creating and maintaining sequences of exceptionally detailed visual imagery. Advanced meditators report that these vivid images can be held from minutes to hours, and indeed the practice requires this because the images are so complex. Neuroscientist regarded such a claim to be absurd. Their understanding of the brain convinced them that it was virtually impossible to hold mental imagery from more than a few seconds.
“It took the Dalai Lama to go to the neuroscientists into conducting a test to see who was right—the meditators or the scientists. Maria Kozhevnikov of George Mason University and her colleagues took up the challenge by testing experienced monks at Sechen Monastery in Kathmandu. She used two standard tests of visual memory, one involving rotation of mental images and the other holding complex images in memory.
“The monks used two types of meditation. Deity yoga involves generating and holding a three-dimensional color image of a deity surrounded by his or her divine entourage. The other type of meditation is called Open Presence, in which attention is broadly distributed without focusing on any experiences, images, or thoughts that may arise. The claim tested about Deity Yoga was the assertion that highly complex images could be mentally maintained for minutes to hours. Kozhevnikov also tested non-meditators and meditators who did not engage in their practice prior to the test.
“The results showed that all the groups performed at the same level before meditation, but after meditation the Deity Yoga practitioners, according to Kozhevnikov, ‘demonstrated a dramatic increase in performance on imagery task compared with the other groups. Therefore, [Deity Yoga] specifically trains one's capacity to access heightened visuospatial memory resources via meditation, rather than generally improving long-lasting imagery abilities’ (pg. 645).
“That sounds like an unassuming success until we read the rest of the article in which Kozhevnikov reports that ‘we are not certain how long this state of access to heightened visual spatial resources might last... During the informal interviews, some of the practitioners reported that the powerful state of identification with the deity can be sustained for several hours or more. Whereas others reported that the effect lasted for only approximately 20 to 25 [minutes]’ (p. 645).
"To emphasize, she reported minutes to hours, as compared to seconds, which is what neuroscientists had previously believed was the limit. In addition, the description of a ‘dramatic increase’ in visual memory does not adequately highlight just how much the monks imagery ability shifted from before to after meditation. For the Open Presence and control participants, there is no statistical difference to the ability to hold imagery, but for the Deity Yoga participants, the difference was associated with odds against chance ranging from a million to a billion to one." —Dean Radin, Supernormal, Chapter Two, pgs. 30-31
So the odds are very rare that the results in this study would not be directly correlated, to not result from this type of Buddhist meditation. As the Dalai Lama taught, “Consciousness has the capacity to” expand to an infinite, “to increase to an infinite degree.” This is important to remember because we work in our studies of Gnosis with imagination, so that we can fully perfect the consciousness. So that what was found impossible by modern science, is a fact for the Gnostics. It is what we verify through our own experience.
Imagining is Seeing
As Samael Aun Weor wrote:
“For the wise, to imagine is to see." —Samael Aun Weor, Sexology: The Basis of Endocrinology and Criminology
Imagination is perception. It is witnessing. It is perceiving imagery of a material or energetic or even psychic type. It is important to reflect: How do we see? How do we perceive?
Our psychology tends to be very active, or better said, hyperactive. Our mind, as we study in meditation, must become passive, serene. Receptivity is the natural state of the mind. Our mind is usually overwhelmed, churning with activity. The mind is a lake. If it is disturbed with negative egotistical states, then the images of heaven cannot reflect on its surface. When the mind is serene, the stars of the night can shine with clarity, with translucence, and resplendence upon the surface of the waters.
Therefore, how do we see? Is the water of our mind disturbed? Is it a whirlpool of negative emotion, of anger, of fear, of pride, of lust? Because, if our mind is agitated, identified with affliction, then we cannot see anything inside. We become conditioned by the ego, by the self, by the “I.” But if the lake is calm, if our mind is still, if we have obtained serenity within our consciousness, within our mental states, as we sit to meditate, as we introspect, we can begin to perceive images of a superior type, of a very distinct and different quality than the mind's projections of fear, anger, resentment, pride, etc.
There is positive imagination and there is negative imagination. Positive imagination is clear. It is liberated perception. It is when the mind is perfectly still, so that the images of heaven, our own inner divinity, can reflect inside in our meditations and through our exercises of astral projection, dream yoga. Yet when it is agitated by negative states, our perception is negative.
Our imagination is conditioned. It is illusory. We don't see what is real. A person who is angry cannot reason, cannot see the truth. Whether he or she has suffered some type of setback in life: the desperate, the morbid, the pessimistic, the violent only see according to the logic of their ego. Therefore, their waters are churning with great tides, a tsunami in a storm.
Real imagination is when we have perfect stillness, silence, and purity, which is why Jesus of Nazareth stated in the Book of Matthew, Chapter 6, verses 22 to 23.
"The eye is the illumination of the σῶμά soma." —Matthew 6:22
So we are going to relate some Greek terms regarding these verses. Soma means “body.” That is a traditional translation. But even deeper, Soma can mean soul, or self. “The eye is the illumination of the self, the soul.”
"If thine eye be singular thy whole self (σῶμά soma) will be full of light." —Matthew 6:22
This verse is often confusing for people who don't study the esoteric meaning of the language, the original languages of the Bible. In Greek, the word for single or singular is ἁπλοῦς aplous. It means “clear, simple, uncomplicated, pure.”
"If thine eye be singular (if it is clear, if your vision is simple, uncomplicated, pristine) thy whole self will be full of light." —Matthew 6:22
Your imagination, your perception, will reflect the Being, its perfection, His majesty.
"It if thine eye be impure (πονηρός ponerros), thy whole self shall be full of darkness. Therefore, if the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!” —Matthew 6:23
If our imagination is polluted with negative emotion, with ego, we are living in the dark. We see but we do not see. And this is the meaning of the Christian parable, "Seeing they shall not see and hearing they shall not hear," because they are blind by their own defects.
Also, relating to the last lecture—if that light in thee is darkness how great is that darkness?—this is εἰκασία eikasia. In relation to the four states of consciousness that we explained, eikasia means “imagination.” It is a type of perception that ignores itself—profound states of barbarism, ignorance, violence, animal behavior, degeneration.
Because in those states, people are active in their bodies, such as in crowds or a lynching, a riot. That mob mentality, that perverse energy, pushes unconscious people to commit crimes. Eikasia is a form of seeing, but in the dark, just like in the Allegory of the Cave of Plato. The people in the cave were in the darkness or seeing the shadows of the images behind them as we explained in the former lecture.
So in our studies we wish to go beyond that. To awaken to διάνοια dianoia, which also means “imagination,” but it is positive, conscious, objective, to see the reality of our inner and outer universe with clarity.
So eikasia and πίστης pistis, especially, relate to the illusions, fantasies, or dreams of the mind. Pistis means “belief,” but also refers to the dreams and projections of our own ego. These are conditioned states of being. These are illusions, fantasies, dreams.
Most of humanity is already aware and familiar with negative imagination, which is conditioned perception, fantasy, desire. “I desire something, I see the image in my mind, I want it, I crave it, and I do whatever I can to get it, even at the cost of another person's life.” This is the logic of the ego, of desire.
So the ego is the source of activity in the mind. It churns the waters of the mind and it is craving its desires for impressions, sensations, experiences. And a simple example, we are hungry. We crave a burger. We are under quarantine. We see the object of our desire in our mind. We fortify that craving with fantasy. We visualize how we are going to get that item, where we are going to buy it from, the phone call for takeout or delivery, the drive and the route we will take, if necessary.
Likewise, we fantasize and use imagination in the wrong way with anger. Somebody insults us and we stew in a swamp of resentment, negative emotion. We imagine how we will get our revenge.
All these fantasies and desires, their conditions, they trap consciousness. They filter our ability to perceive clearly. Desire wastes energy. It depletes us of vitality, of power. The mind projects its desires onto the physical world. This is a form of dreams. People think that dreams only exist when the physical body goes to sleep. We rest for eight hours and perhaps right before we wake, we have some quaint visions, dreams or remnants of memory, of some type of internal experience, and then we awake.
As we clarified in our last lecture, waking consciousness is a state of self-observation and self-remembrance in which we are active within the consciousness. We are perceiving our three brains, our five centers, with a sense of separation and investigation.
Dreams are the desires of the ego that are projected, even in the physical world. The only difference between sleeping life and waking life for most people, is the fact that when we are physically asleep, we can do whatever we want in our dreams. We fulfill our unconscious desires. Whereas in the physical world, there are greater consequences to one's projections, one's actions, which is why dreams are dangerous.
So, why do we talk about dreams in relation to imagination? It is because the faculty of seeing, whether condition or the liberated, is represented in the direct quality of our sleeping life. When the body is asleep, what do we perceive? Do eight hours go by and we see nothing? Or do we see some fragments of memories, of dreams? Or are we awake in the dream state? Are we conscious in that dimension? That is the question. That is a barometer of how awake we are and of the quality of our perceptions, even in daily life.
The Dreams and Illusions of the Ego
So while the examples I gave before might be a little silly, this principle explains the chronic condition of our daily life and how we see ourselves. If we wish to awaken in dreams, in the dream state, we first awaken in the physical plane, because we are not awake. We are asleep. And unfortunately, we also dream, even while physically active.
We believe we are such and such a person, with the qualities of kindness, compassion, intelligence, respect, serenity, diligence: whatever virtues we like to enthrone upon the altar of our self-worship. We like to think the best of ourselves. Yet when a crisis appears, like what is going on now, with the coronavirus, we are forced into unpleasant or difficult circumstances where our true character emerges.
So different egos appear in relation to the impressions of life. So perhaps during the lockdown, we go to the grocery store, we look for the last roll of toilet paper and a person is also reaching for the same item. This person, an aggressor, feels justified and even slanders us to our face, saying vulgar, hurtful words. If we are vigilant and awake, self-observing ourselves, we can see an entire series of reactions inside in relation to our three brains, and how the impressions of the insulter affect our mind.
We have to understand that relationship moment by moment. Because, our reactions show us the quality of our mind. That is really who we are. We like to think the best of ourselves, but the reality is that we have not perceived the entirety of what we are, because much of us is subconscious, unconscious, and even infra-conscious, belonging to very degenerated and low aspects of the psyche.
Different egos in that incident will emerge. They all have their own thoughts, feelings, and impulses. Perhaps when that person insults us at the grocery store, we see hurt self-esteem with its logic: “I am always getting picked on in every situation.” Or followed by pride: “I didn't do anything wrong. This person is crazy!” And lastly the anger: “I really don't deserve this treatment. Why are people obsessing over stupid things?”
So, if we are observing ourselves, we can see three egos in action. We have to observe the process. We have to see it. We have to be separate from the mind looking into the three brains.
As we see in this graphic, as we have on this slide, we have to perceive the delusions that our mind projects. So all those thoughts, desires, impulses, feelings, and that incident, are illusory. They are fantasies. They are dreams. Those projections tried to go out from us to interact to the aggressor: to respond, to retaliate.
But those types of seeing, thinking, feeling, and behaving are negative. They are conditions. They are based off the words of the insulter, which we take with such severity and magnitude. But really, where is that self? Where does it come from? What does it depend on? How does the mind feed on those impressions? How does that pride, that self-esteem, and that anger work?
This is not a hypothetical evaluation. It is what we perceive, because real seeing and imagination, is self-observation. We are looking into the mind: to not judge, to not run away, to not push a way, to not label, but simply to look. This is clear vision. This is what concerns us most when we study meditation, because we have to discover how these egos function, so that we can eliminate them and free the consciousness trapped in those desires so that we no longer dream.
When that light is free, we naturally have spontaneous, intuitive astral projections, jinn experiences, etc. But if we don't observe this reaction in ourselves, we are going to mistake each thought, feeling, and emotion, each action, each reaction, as being attributed to a single self. But as we have explained, we are not a single self. We are multiplicity. We have to see this. Not as in a theory, but in action.
Structural and Transactional Analysis
Samael Aun Weor mentions this process in The Revolution of the Dialectic, of seeing our inner contradictions and all the exchanges and transactions in the mind. He calls it transactional and structural analysis.
So, he talks about banking. Banks make transactions and exchanges, different types of businesses. And structures have to do with how businesses are formed or how the banking system works. He uses this analogy to talk about the ego.
There are many transactions that occur in a single moment. First, in that example, self-esteem, followed by pride, followed by anger—these egos are connected. They relate to each other. It is rare to find an ego that works “solo.” And structural analysis has to do with the structures of how those egos manifest, how they function. What are their thoughts, feelings, and impulses? And how do they relate to each other? How do they trans-act or react to each other, and to the moment?
So, we like to believe we are saints, but observe yourself. This is the most profound doorway and entrance to real perception in meditation. It is imagination. It is clear seeing. We observe ourselves. We look into our thoughts, feelings, and will with the consciousness. If we don't watch ourselves in those critical moments, to see those psychological interactions, we are identified. Our identity is in that self. We invest those egos with our energy and therefore we strengthen the cage that traps us, and so we suffer.
Fantasy and Self-Deception
We believe we are holy. The person who is demanding we hand over the last roll of toilet paper thinks they are very saintly, but of course from external views and eyes, it is stupid. This allegory applies not only to absurd people like that, but to ourselves. We live in a fantasy world. We live thinking we are a certain way, but we are not. So our desires project their ideas onto the external world. We interpret everything relating to the mind: “What I want, what I crave, what I desire.” We don't see reality. We live in absurdity. We project our fear onto the world.
Look at the global pandemic, the kind of things people do because they are afraid. People who are more rational obviously see the stupidity in those behaviors, but fear is a compelling force. It is an illusion. It manipulates humanity and keeps humanity asleep.
So, while people are living in a lot of suffering now, the reality is that we should not judge anyone. We project our ideas unto people but also on to ourselves. We have a self-image that we like to uphold of who we are, and when people contradict that, we get angry. But when we do that to other people, they become angry too.
Therefore, this is why Jesus said, "Judge not that you be not judged," because as a very illuminated clairvoyant, as a visionary, as a prophet, he understood this law very simply and profoundly. People who are very awake don't judge others. They see the causes of suffering in others and they respect their freedom.
But given our level of being, we tend to be very identified with pride, projecting our ideologies and beliefs about who we are unto others. We only see through the lens of our political party, our religion, our group. And this is the problem of humanity. This is why people suffer.
People follow the Illusions and fantasies of fear that “If I don't go to the store to get all these items from the cleaning aisle or whatever, I am going to be in a lot of suffering.” And fear is completely hypnotizing humanity in this instance, which is why Samael Aun Weor wrote in Treaties of Revolutionary Psychology:
“Fantasy, besides placing us in ridiculous situations, stops all possibility of internal development... Fantasy is a real force which acts universally upon mankind. It keeps the intellectual humanoid in a state of sleep (hypnotic state), causing him to believe that he is already a Human Being, that he possesses true individuality, a will, awakened consciousness and a mind of his own, etc.” —Samael Aun Weor, Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology
As we have mentioned many times, we are not human beings. Human beings have integration. They have a singularity of purpose and will. We on the other hand are fractured.
So imagine a mirror that is whole. It reflects images perfectly from floor to ceiling. When that mirror is shattered through violence, its fragments reflect millions of different images, which is a perfect allegory of our psychological state. A perfected mirror is a perfect human being. It sees and reflects imagery internally and externally, with perfection. But in us, because we are fragmented with different egos and selves, we have multiple images in the mind, because the ego takes on forms in the astral and mental planes.
This is why in the term εἰκασία eikasia, in Greek, meaning “imagination,” comes from εικόνων eikonon: “images,” which is where you get false images, idols—the origin of idolatry—not to worship statues and different religions, but to really worship our ego and its multiplicity. Therefore, we need to study deeply both positive and negative imagination.
Differences Between Liberated and Conditioned Imagination
So the main distinction is that positive imagination is received. It is imagery that we understand with wisdom. It arrives within the calm, serene consciousness, a mind that is in perfect equanimity.
Negative imagination is a projection of the ego, the mind.
Positive imagination is voluntary. We will it. We control it. But negative imagination is mechanical. It happens to us against our conscious will.
So we have already explained what insight is in other lectures: it means to understand what we see, to comprehend the truth. And in order to comprehend the truth, we have to see it first. This is the primary distinction of the Gnostic tradition against other religions and traditions. It is that we seek to know the truth through experience, through verifying, with facts.
Definitions of Positive and Negative Imagination
So fantasy we explained. it is a projected desire. We have a lot of different terms and definitions, or qualities associated with both positive and negative imagination, which we are going to relate.
Positive imagination in Buddhism is known as the Vipashyana, “special insight.” It means to visualize the object of meditation. So, we voluntarily concentrate on one object, we see it with clarity, with color, with depth.
The opposite of this can be spacing out, daydreaming. Daydreaming is when we have a multiplicity of projected desires or images, memories. We wander through these thoughts through mechanical associations in the mind.
So Vipashyana is also clairvoyance. Clairvoyance is a French term, created by a group of esotericists who wanted to protect their studies. Therefore, they created a technical term for a faculty that everybody already has, but in an undeveloped state. Clairvoyance, Vipashyana means to see clearly with the imagination. It is the opposite of spacing out, daydreaming.
When the consciousness and imagination is liberated, it is the same capacity to experience dreams, but in a conscious way—to see within the astral plane with depth, with penetration, with amplitude, with greater frequency, with greater focus and expansiveness. It means to see in that world, the people, the cities, the environment, oneself, but without subjectivity, without interacting with our own unconscious dreams, which, most of humanity is already aware of.
People know about dreams. They may have fragmentary remembrances of talking to a purple monkey on the side of the street, about whatever. This type of dreaming has nothing to do with awakened perception. It is the state of the ego, of absurdity, of delusion.
So even while we are physically awake, we continue to dream. We project our dreams onto the external world, but within the astral dimension, we no longer have the body to veil us. So therefore, we are more directly connected and related to our dreams. We can see them with greater clarity if we work on ourselves, so that we can transform them.
So visions: they are conscious experiences. These are the astral projections and awakened states that everybody longs for in our studies, to talk with divinity, the Being, with masters, to receive help.
The opposite is hallucinations, like those produced from drugs, which are conditions of mind. Marijuana, LSD, psychedelics, ayahuasca, mushrooms, and many other forms of substances condition the mind. They filter our perception so that we see, but this is not objective. This is within hell, the hell realms as we are going to explain.
Nightmares also fall into this category. So, these are psychic experiences within our own inner hell realms, which if we are chased by monsters, or are being chased by a murderer with an axe, those are usually projections of our own infra-conscious nature, our own egos, which have reality and existence within the most profound depths of our consciousness, within the ego.
Translucence is the clarity of seeing without conditions, to not be obscured, to not be obstructed. There is no “I,” ego, present if we are really developing our imagination. There is no ego or “I” to intervene, or interpret what we see.
So hypnosis is like the opposite of translucence. Hypnosis is a sleepy state. Hypnosis has become very popular today. Some people even use hypnosis as a type of therapy. But sadly, it is the sleep of the consciousness [from the Greek Ὕπνος Hypnos, the god of sleep]. Those methods put the patient or the practitioner under the control of the doctor, which is mind control. Controlling the minds of others is negative 100 percent. We don't advocate that in our teachings. Hypnosis is the opposite of gnosis, to experience, to awaken, because we don't want to sleep. We want to know and verify and investigate the source of our own egos, defects, traumas. Therefore, one does not need hypnosis to enter those states if one is a practical meditator.
The Basis of Insight: Kabbalah, Perception, and Ethics
So while we might experience internal imagery, inner perceptions, the danger becomes if we interpret through our ego, which is why we study the Tree of Life, the Kabbalah.
Meditation and intuition are necessary. When we want to interpret what we see, it is not enough to develop imagination. We have to become cultured, studious, ethical disciples. Samael Aun Weor mentions, we need ethical, intellectual, spiritual culture. But why is that?
He wrote a book about this principle in Sexology: The Basis of Endocrinology and Criminology.
He relates how the sources of crime are due to negative clairvoyance, negative imagination. All crimes are the result of infernal, unconscious, subconscious, infra-conscious perceptions. And the danger of the esoteric student, the meditator, is that when developing imagination, they don't question what they see.
They might see things that horrify their conscience. Perhaps they see an image of their wife or husband committing adultery, and therefore, that person goes out of their way to slander their spouse based off a vision that they misinterpreted. There are many cases like this in the Gnostic movement, in many spiritual groups, and it is very sad. This is why we emphasize the study of the Tree of Life, the study of Kabbalah, the study of ethical conduct, the scriptures, the lives of the prophets, because they knew that seeing is not enough. One has to be able to interpret what one perceives.
The Tree of Life is a map of our consciousness, from positive states to negative—from the heavens, to our body, to the hells. Heavens are liberated perception and hells are negative conditioned perceptions.
Every experience could be mapped by the Tree of Life. And so we have to investigate what we see. It is not enough to have a vision. We have to meditate on what we perceive and to really discriminate and question, “Where is it coming from?” Is it from heaven, or perhaps we are mistaken? Perhaps it is from our own hell realms?
And so people, and like in the case I mentioned, are seeing diabolic projections of their mind, or perhaps they are seeing the ego of their partner from a past life. But because they don't recognize that their partner is never capable of acting on that fault, because they are working on themselves, one can make a mistake, a judgment.
"Judge not that ye be not judged. For what measure ye meet, you shall be measured” [Matthew 7:1-2] by that same quality, that same measurement.
Ethical conduct teaches us how to behave in life, regardless of what negative perceptions we perceive in ourselves or others. The important thing is to know where our experiences come from, to discriminate with meditation. So, if you have an experience, I highly suggest that you take a lot of time to meditate on what you receive. Don't jump to conclusions that you are necessarily receiving a vision from God. It could be, but if those experiences are contrary to your own judgement, your own moral compass, your own ethics of doing compassionate deeds, then you have to consider or reconsider what you saw.
This is why Samael Aun Weor repeatedly stated, "That for every step you take in the acquisition of powers (of clairvoyance), you must take a thousand steps in sanctity."
So if you have inner experiences that are related to other people, but are negative, I recommend maintaining silence. Wait. Wait to see, and watch if what you experience really reflects the facts of daily life—if it's real—and be patient. Understanding unfolds through successive meditations.
So, in order to not be confused by our inner perceptions and to really have a sense of discrimination, we study the five types of clairvoyance.
First, we are going to examine the negative types. The subconsciousness is related with our memories, with our past experiences, with mental formations within the personality, which we have explained.
The subconsciousness is like a cave. It is beneath the surface of our perception and our understanding. Often in life, we behave mechanically without understanding the origin of our actions. Perhaps in the past we were bit by a dog. And therefore, any time we come across a dog, we become afraid. We have the memory, the past experience, the mental formation of fear in our personality. We see that dog and then we instantaneously react. We see through fear, the logic that claims, “This animal is going to hurt me. I am in danger!” This is all subconscious.
Subconsciousness is deeply related with racism. People's past experience or memories, not only from this life but from past lives, can relate to a lot of conflict on a social level—people’s assumed thoughts and projections of what people of different races or cultures are like. This is all very subconscious. People usually don't even question if that is an element that is truly ingrained in the personality.
These are not the only examples. There are many, but usually when it is subconscious, it is beneath the surface. We don't usually see unless we really introspect and question ourselves.
Unconsciousness is formed by unsatisfied frustrated desires. Unconscious perception, Samael Aun Weor states, is the origin of murder. It is the origin of crime. There are desires within our hidden depths that long for violence.
So, the anger we may feel at a boss for a particular action they took against us, or response to our own performance, can provoke deeper unconscious, frustrated desires. Perhaps we desired a promotion, but because it was not fulfilled, we are frustrated. We are angry. In a very deep unconscious layer of our psyche, that anger could be a form of murder. In the internal planes, that element can be committing violence against one's boss. So physically we may feel that anger. But then at night, when we physically go to sleep, we dream about killing that person.
This is unconscious imagination, unconscious clairvoyance. We don't even assume that it exists, but it does. It is totally beneath and even deeper than subconsciousness. So whenever our desires that are not fulfilled ferment and spillover, we can point towards the unconsciousness.
Deep desires are very difficult to see unless we meditate and go into the astral plane to investigate, because all of us, without exception, have these egos. We just haven't perceived them directly yet. It is rare to find a person without these types of desires for violence, for murder, for crime. This is why it is unconscious. We don't know it. We like to assume that we are holy. But any dream like the example I related to you is an example of that, proves that.
Lastly, we have infraconsciousness. These are the most hidden animal desires, our most perverse identities ourselves, traumas: the negative qualities of the lowest psyche. So as I said, nightmares are a form of infraconsciousness. This is perception within the most dense regions of our own psyche—within the lowest spheres of the astral plane, the hell realms, where we see beasts and creatures, monsters, gigantic creatures, deformed beings, and demons, attack us.
In most cases, these are not actual sorcerers or black magicians, as we state in this tradition, beings outside of us. These tend to be more of our own inner qualities, of yet we are to discover until the moments we have nightmares. We are in the hell realms. We are being chased. We are being murdered. We are being torn apart, tortured, killed. All sorts of horrible experiences within dreams: these are infraconscious. They are nightmares. They are diabolic and they have existence.
When people wake up from sleep, they like to think that, “Oh, it was just a dream!” But the reality is that dreams have a type of reality. They are projections of ourselves. They are extensions of who we are, and therefore, they exist in other dimensions inside. In a sense, they are not real, but they have a type of existence in us.
What do we mean that the ego is not real? It is because that type of identification of self doesn't know or reflect the real potential of consciousness. It doesn't reflect the heavenly realms.
We need to study consciousness. The positive form of consciousness or conscious imagination is precisely this. We learn to see things as they are in whatever dimension, not necessarily the heavenly realms, but even in hell. Consciousness or conscious imagination is the ability to perceive reality and whatever particular sphere of existence we are on the Tree of Life.
Conscious imagination means that even if we go into the hell realms, we are in a state of serenity, of watchfulness, of observation, of remembrance of the presence of our inner Being, so that we can investigate and gain knowledge. This is like the mirror that is first polished. So the broken mirror is a subconsciousness, the unconsciousness, and the infraconsciousness. But a conscious soul or perceptive being, is one who is polishing the mirror, who is bringing the pieces together, those fragments together, to reform that perfected image. So that it is singular [ἁπλοῦς aplous], so that [“If thine eye be singular, uncomplicated, pure”] it has greater depth, clarity, penetration, amplitude, perception.
Samael Aun Weor mentions:
"Only those who have achieved awakening in the superior worlds possess conscious clairvoyance." —Samael Aun Weor, Sexology: The Basis of Endocrinology and Criminology
So we have to awaken in the dream state, to see the reality of our emotions and our mind. This is when we know we are really developing our consciousness. In meditation, we reach the drowsy state, allow our body to rest, but consciously, we are very active. The mind becomes receptive. We calm the mind. We become active as a soul, as a consciousness—concentrating on an object of visualization or imagination, so that we can extract information from it, of which we are going to explain.
This type of meditative practice is well known in Buddhism, Tantric Buddhism, especially from Tibet, and within the Gnostic tradition. But conscious clairvoyance or imagination is not the end. There is supraconsciousness.
This is the perception of reality, its causes, and its relations within multiple dimensions. So the consciousness can awaken within the astral plane, the mental plane, or even in the hell realms, in order to investigate and gain knowledge of itself. But supraconsciousness is when we perceive multiple dimensions or the highest aspect of the Tree of Life related to Kether, Chokmah, and Binah: Crown, Wisdom, Intelligence—the three forces of Christianity: Father, Son, Holy Spirit, which are intelligences, energies, principles—not people, but archetypes, qualities of Being, of divinity, which are very high.
This is supraconsciousness. Even entering the Absolute, which is above the Tree of Life, is a supraconscious state. Supraconsciousness sees from the eyes of God, from the Being, not from oneself, but from the universal consciousness of Christ.
We also experience supraconscious states within Chesed, the Spirit and Geburah, the divine soul. The top five spheres of the Tree of Life are supraconscious. They are divine. Below that, we have the possibility to see through the filters of our ego. We can say that Tiphereth, the human soul, the world of Nirvana, is an objective state, but the potential for mistakes originates from our will, which can follow Netzach (the mind), Hod (the emotions), Yesod (our energies), Malkuth (our physical body), and the inverted tree, the hell realms.
Our will must follow divinity. Our inner Tiphereth, the beauty of our soul, is a serene, concentrated state. In order to really reflect the higher five sephiroth, the spheres, the emanations of God, Tiphereth, the human soul must be serene.
Willpower, concentration, is a serene state. It is a calm state. We like to think of willpower in our modern society as if going to the gym to do a lot of exercise, to exert a lot of force and tension, but real serenity is true power. It is a state of perfect concentration, as mentioned within the nine stages of meditative concentration within Tibetan Buddhism, which you can explore on the course Meditation Essentials [from gnosticteachings.org] but also the lecture Calm Abiding: The Stages of Serenity [within chicagognosis.org under the Gnostic Meditation Course].
We need a serene mind to reflect heaven within. To get there on the Tree of Life, to reach a supraconscious state, we first calm Malkuth, the body, our physicality.
We work with energy, Yesod, the vital forces. We circulate them throughout our body, throughout our internal vehicles, through pranayama, runes, meditation, mantras, alchemy, sacred rites of rejuvenation, many exercises for energy in our tradition.
We then calm the heart, our emotions, Hod, the astral body, the astral vehicle, which we operate within the dream state, but unconsciously.
We also calm the mind, the intellect, with its thoughts and surging concepts, memories, daydreams, etc.
When we really perfect that state, we reach Tiphereth in ourselves, in our meditation. It is serene concentration, because when you are really focused and attentive on the object of your meditation, if it is really perfected, we don't think of anything. We don't wander, but it also takes no effort.
In the beginning it takes a lot of will to control the body so that it stops moving in our meditation, to work to control energy consciously.
Likewise, to control our emotions and negative states are not easy, but necessary, if we wish to reach supraconsciousness.
And then silencing the mind, withdrawing the mind from the senses and introspecting within, it takes less effort the more you ascend within yourself.
When Tiphereth, the soul, our will, is fully balanced, it is a state of equanimity. Real will takes no effort, paradoxically speaking. It takes familiarity and experience, to use Zen language.
Intuition and Awakening
“When the door of fantasy are closed, the organ of intuition awakens.” —Samael Aun Weor, The Revolution of the Dialectic
So we must no longer project our dreams. We must awaken to receive internal imagery. And not must we perceive internal perceptions, but we must understand them. This is the faculty of intuition—to understand, to comprehend the significance of what perception enters us, whether physically or internally.
So, imagination practice is founded upon some degree of serenity, which we have explained. Without serenity, we cannot concentrate and focus on our particular imagination or visualization exercise. So we state that once you have developed a serene mind through your work of self-observation, it is good to work with imagination exercises.
And Jesus stated that our eye of imagination must be singular. Meaning concentrated. To focus on one thing so that it becomes pure. "If thine eye be singular (ἁπλοῦς aplous clear, simple, uncomplicated, pure) thy whole self will be full of light." —Matthew 6:22
Difficulties with Developing Imagination
So some people really struggle to imagine anything, whether it be a stone, a candle, a picture, a statue. This type of exercise is important, as we stated at the beginning, in order to expand our ability to perceive beyond to the unknown.
Many people lack clarity in their imagination, or the image keeps changing. We have to discriminate in our meditative practice to see whether it is the ego that interferes and warps our perception, or is that experience unfolding into something new.
So we can take an example of imagining a cross. It can change or become something deformed or different, etc., and that can be the result of our ego. We have to discriminate and test the quality and the taste of that experience.
Part of the work of imagination is knowing the difference between positive and negative, both polarities, both poles. We do that through experience, through following our heart, our intuition, our conscience. Our heart will tell us that there is something more here, or that what we have just experienced is something negative.
We can imagine as I said, like a cross. If it changes, becomes malformed, distorted, that could be our own ego trying to infect our practice. But there is also something we have to remember too: it is that real imagination is receptive. We receive the new. So suddenly if we are really in a drowsy state and concentrated in ourselves, the image of the cross can change. Maybe it starts spinning, showing a profound symbolism of energy, tantra, movement. It is a symbol. We see new states, visuals, sounds, scenarios, even smells. We become a witness and a participant in our internal worlds.
So we have to really evaluate through our practice, successively, daily: “Is the ego changing my visualization? Is it projecting on to what I want to see? Or am I receiving something new? Is this something novel, receptive, illuminated?”
Receptivity does not mean passivity. The consciousness becomes highly active when the mind becomes pacified, silent. To receive superior messages from our Being, we need serenity first, and then we allow the experiences to unfold when we are drowsy. Drowsiness opens the doorway to the dream world, the internal worlds. And as we have stated previously in other lectures and meetings, that it is important to meditate when we are drowsy, because otherwise we can damage our brain. Meditation really unfolds as we enter a relaxed state, not when we are in tension.
So we conclude with this image from Alice from Wonderland. Remember that she goes down the rabbit hole into the subconsciousness, the unconsciousness, the infraconsciousness. And later, she rises up the stairs of being, to awaken to the light of reality.
Well will now open up the floor to questions.
Questions and Answers
Question: Two things. One, can you just fill in the blanks for me? Malkuth, body, physical? Yesod, what was Yesod?
Instructor: It is our energy, our vital force.
Question: Then Hod, astral, emotional. And then what went with mental?
Instructor: Netzach, the mind. Malkuth means “kingdom.” It is our inner, but also physical kingdom, because our body is a great city in which many people live. It is a great land. It is material, earthly, but also contains within it all of the potentiality of our soul.
It has all of our energies, Yesod, which means “Foundation.” It is the foundation of our spiritual life, the secret of סודי Sodi in Hebrew, because סודי Sodi means “secret,” and יסוד Yesod is the sphere related to the secret signs of Da'ath, which is the work of alchemy, of a marriage.
Hod means “Glory.” It is the glory of the heart temple that is perfected with meditation, and by working with the vital forces Yesod, but also Christ above, Chokmah.
And lastly, we have Netzach, the mind which means “Victory,” and if we conquer our mind, our distracted mind, we become victorious ones: buddhas. This is how we work with our willpower, Tiphereth, the human soul.
Question: And these four are the four bodies of sin. Is that correct?
Instructor: Yes, within Kabbalah. These are the bodies, or the vehicles by which our ego manifests. It is how we sin, how we make mistakes, whether through our mind, our emotions, our sexual behavior, and our physical body. This is how our desires manifest or they express.
Above that, Tiphereth can either go up or down, depending. "Father if it be possible,” said Jesus, “Take this cup of bitterness from me, but not my will but Thine be done" (Luke 22:42). So our will can follow and empower our ego, because we have freedom to choose how we want to live, or, we can follow the inner inclinations and guidance of our Spirit (Chesed), and our divine soul (Geburah). Chesed means “Mercy,” the mercy of God, and Geburah means “Justice,” the balance of the law, the divine soul.
So our consciousness is the law. How we judge ourselves, our intuitions, come from the divine soul. What we know is right and what we know is wrong is deep in our heart—that is Geburah. So we have to follow those inclinations in our meditations if we want to be successful.
Question: Then the other thing had to do with Tiphereth and will. And I am going to say just a couple things, but they are all one question really. Will you speak on willpower more and the relationship between imagination and willpower as with types of imagination? Are there more than one type of willpower? Is Thelema a specific type? I think you were just speaking on that a little bit.
Instructor: Great question. There are primarily two types of will: conditioned or unconditioned; liberated or imprisoned; conscious or unconscious will, egotistical will. So there is free consciousness, which is the essence, which we explained in this course in relation to “Discover Your True Self”—the essence, the ego, and the personality.
The essence is the essence of who we are. The consciousness that has the potential to become fully perfected. But in order to do that, we have to conquer the conditioned, egotistical wills, in our psyche.
Each ego has its own will, but in synthesis we say there are really two forms of will. Free and liberated, or imprisoned and encaged. So we have to learn to distinguish the difference, which we do through self-observation, self-remembering, transformation of impressions—learning to transform what we perceive.
The relationship between concentration and imagination is that it is impossible to imagine anything with objectivity if our mind is distracted by a multiplicity of wills. So the problem when a person begins meditation is that their mind is all over the place. We have a multitude of competing wills, desires that want to do this or that: to ride a bicycle, to scratch an itch, to eat something, to get some water—anything but the meditation.
The beginning of meditation is first controlling the body with our will. Not to move, so that as we still our body, the waters of our mind can become calm too. We have to suspend our senses, calm our energies, relax through pranayama, mantras, circulate force with our concentration, our will, so that that energy helps our body to be still, helps our emotions to calm, helps our mind to be silent.
When you have used your concentration well, with serenity, you start to clarify your perception with greater depth, because a mind that is agitated cannot reflect anything. The beginning of meditation within Buddhism, they teach you how to be serene of mind: nine stages of meditative concentration.
Learn to understand where you are on the path of concentration. Are you forgetting what you are doing in your practice? Or do you remember every moment? This is an important distinction to make. And as you are ascending that glyph, which is a man or monk chasing after an elephant, the elephant eventually becomes really calm and docile, where the monk is leading the elephant instead of the elephant leading the monk. That is a symbol of how the meditator controls the mind with the hook of vigilance and the rope of mindfulness, so that the mind is perfectly still.
If you are familiar with Tibetan Buddhist murals, eventually the elephant falls asleep after following the monk, and therefore, the monk is flying above in the sky and even rides the elephant over a rainbow bridge. So in that map, which we have talked about in other courses, because he has a obtained serenity of will and concentration, the mind can now reflect with greater clarity and perfection the heavenly realms.
Remember that if your mind is fractured into multiple wills, is distracted like a shattered mirror with multiple fragments and pieces, it is impossible to reflect a single object with clarity. It becomes malformed. But when you unite all those fragments together through concentration exercises, and you fuse them with your work with energy, such as alchemy or pranayama, to a lesser degree, that energy heals the mind, regenerates it, empowers the consciousness to work.
And again, if you look at that type of image, you notice that there is a fire blazing from the bottom of the path and extends upward in different segments of the glyph. It takes a lot of fire and energy and intensity in the beginning to control the mind. This is why pranayama is essential when we begin to meditate. And when that energy calms the mind, it takes less effort. But if you fuse the mirror back together by developing your concentration, you can reflect with greater precision, and that is the faculty of imagination.
Question: I was wondering, you were just talking about the map with the elephant and monkey, and I was wondering, I know it will be kind of hard to pinpoint it. It depends on the individual maybe, but where about do people in general start experiencing more of those, you know, conscious clairvoyance, and do you have to go all the way to the end there in that map before you can actually... It seems like a such a long road!
Instructor: Great question. Now, in the middle stages of concentration, that is really where we can begin working effectively on our own ego. Where we develop enough clarity in our perception that we can start to see things with more objectivity. Obviously the higher you go, the more clear things will be. Your imagination will be much stronger, but it is not fundamental that you have to reach the top of this glyph in order to be able to experience states of imagination in an objective way.
You can reach the fourth and fifth degrees of shamatha, which is meditative calm abiding, serenity, concentration, equanimity, in order to begin to develop your clairvoyance, especially. In the beginning it is very difficult because if you can't concentrate at all, then what you try to imagine will not be withheld within the memory or the consciousness very long. And this is the state of most people, which is why we quoted from the book Supernormal by Dean Radin who explained how scientists literally believe that the most length a person can hold an image in the mind is 25 seconds. You know, they don't understand that there is a greater capacity to create imagery in the mind than what is expected.
So, if you are in the fourth or fifth degrees of shamatha in which you don't forget what you are doing in your meditative practice, you can begin to start working effectively with imagination. Because you have enough stability and your concentration that if a distraction does arise, you know to avoid it.
Because most people get stuck in their concentration practice by forgetting what they are doing. You know, 20 minutes go by and they suddenly realize, “I am supposed to be meditating!” Or they are trying to visualize an object and then they forget what they are doing or the image morphs and changes, and then the person starts daydreaming, and then we think “Where was I?” It is because we didn't have enough serenity or concentration established. But if you are firm in your serenity and concentration, in the middle degrees, fourth or fifth, you don't forget what you are doing. That becomes a strong platform by which to start to clarify your imagination, especially, if that makes sense.
Question: And where is the fourth, fifth degree?
Instructor: It is in the middle parts of the glyph. If you go on to chicagognosis.org, we have a transcription for Calm Abiding: The Stages of Serenity: the fourth and fifth stages apply to when the monk is in front of the fire and a pair of cymbals I believe. There is a rabbit that appears on top of the elephant. That is the fourth degree. The fifth degree is just above that. So, if you look at the transcription in our gnostic meditation course, you can see how the fourth and fifth degrees are related to the left side of the curve of that path.
Question: So on your website, you have a description of what that means? The rabbit on top of the elephant? You have descriptions of what that means.
Instructor: Yes, so for those of you who are looking online, you can see the image here of the monk who is controlling, with the rope of mindfulness, the elephant itself, and is starting to control the mind, where you see half of the elephant is starting to be illuminated by a white color. That refers to the clarity of perception. We are seeing the mind, the elephant, that powerful animal, with clarity. Half of it is white, half of it is gray, because our perception is becoming a little bit more clarified. And the further we take that elephant up the path, our perception and imagination is becoming perfected as well. We start to see with greater depth, as I said.
So the third degree of calm abiding is patched placement. It refers to how the monk finally gets a hold of the elephant. It is starting to turn the head of the animal towards him and refers to how, in the same manner that you patch up a cloth to fix holes, you are starting to patch your awareness, your concentration. So we tend to forget the object of our concentration more than we remember it, but we are at least on the way to ascending further, so that we no longer forget what we are doing. In the fourth degree, close placement or good fixation, we don't forget what we are doing in our practice. However, at this stage we have the danger of becoming lazy, represented by the symbol of the rabbit, since while we have some success in concentration, we fail to refine it further. So it is important to reach the fourth and even fifth degrees of concentration so that we are able to see with greater depth, as represented by the mirror levitating above the path of the monk. This mirror reflects how our imagination becomes more sharp at this level.
So I invite you to study that lecture. I will send a link out to people regarding that. We go into more depth about it in that lecture, but even better is the Meditation Essentials course, which has a whole series of lectures just on that diagram alone. So in total, to really comprehend that with practical depth, I invite you to study those resources.
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