This is a transcription of an audio lecture from Introduction to Gnostic Studies, originally given live at the Gnostic Academy of Chicago.
So that term γνῶσις gnosis, in Greek, means “knowledge.” But it does not mean knowledge of a scholarly type, something that we learn by going to university or from reading a book. It is knowledge that we gain from our experience of life, and consciousness. It is personal to each person.
And so every religion, every meditative tradition, teaches gnosis in its depth―a type of experiential wisdom which is beyond labels, and terms―although many different teachers have used different terms to refer to the same thing.
If you have studied meditation from Buddhism or Judaism, even the early Church Fathers of the Christian tradition too, practice meditation. You find that they all refer to the same thing, the same principles. And so at this school we like to go at the heart of what these traditions teach, primarily because some of the techniques from these traditions are very useful, very helpful for answering a particular type of problem that everyone is experiencing on this planet now, and has for many ages― and that is the problem of suffering.
It is very easy to look at the news to see how afflicted humanity is, whether from the East or the West. Despite the great accomplishments of some of our greatest teachers, or philosophers, the efforts of any type of authority figure to resolve this issue of suffering, have always ended badly.
We see that people’s efforts to try to resolve social problems, political problems, religious problems, traumas, psychological issues, we find that many people always like to go to the external world. “If I just fix this situation, if I change my job, if I associate with these people, if I do these things externally, I am going to be very happy.”
But the reality is that, we change situations and tend to carry that type of problem with us, wherever we go. And it is very easy to want to blame politicians and the external world for all of the chaos that is going on, and of course, those people are liable for their own actions, but blaming those people does not necessarily help us to resolve our own issues.
Such as at work. I know in my position at my current job, I work with clients who can be very difficult, very challenging, people who have suffered a lot of trauma, and rather than getting angry at them when they have been disrespectful to me, I have learned to transform my own mind, my own state, because I cannot blame them for what they have been through, and I cannot judge them that they are really to blame for what is going on. But the truth is, by changing who we are psychologically, we can be more serene in difficult situations.
And so, every tradition teaches that suffering comes originally from inside, our own state of mind. I believe the Dalai Lama was interviewing some Buddhist monks who had escaped the Chinese. They were exiled from Tibet, and the Chinese soldiers had done horrible things, crimes against humanity. And I remember that one of these monks spoke to the Dalai Lama, or the Dalai Lama asked him, “While you were imprisoned amongst the Chinese, what was the greatest danger that you faced?” And the monk said very serenely, “losing my compassion for my enemies [the Chinese].”
So I know it is a natural sentiment to want to feel angry at these people who harmed us, who caused us pain, but at the same time, if we hold on to anger, that makes us vibrate at a very low level of being. It is important that, yes, we feel a sense of indignation for the wrongs that are committed, but we can find that being angry and worried all the time does not make us any happier. Why hold on to these emotions that are so painful? It does not mean that we ignore what the Chinese are doing, or what so-and-so is doing, because one can act from a state of consciousness that is free of anger, but is severe, but not angry, not violent, not resentful.
And those are qualities of consciousness that are very elevated, in which we find in teachers like Jesus, or the Buddha, or Moses, or Krishna. These are people who were once like us, but who through the science of meditation, learned to transform their own imperfections and become great people, very wise beings, who knew how to handle situations with a state of equanimity, of calm.
So the question that we are going to ask in this lecture is, where does suffering come from? Where does it originate, and more importantly, how do we overcome it? I know the case of the Dalai Lama speaking with the Buddhist monk is a very extreme case, but some of that is very illuminating. Part of Buddhist practice is that one has compassion even for one’s worst enemies―primarily because, those people who are so violent and angry and terrible, do not want to suffer either. The problem is that they are confused. They do not understand that their actions produce the harm of others, the suffering of others.
And it is a natural feeling to want to demonize those people: “They really are, truly, inhumane,” “They did this and this,” “They are not even human beings,” we could say. But in reality, even the worst people have consciousness. But unfortunately, they have conditioned themselves so much, that they do not understand that what they do is harmful―which is why even Jesus on the cross said, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).
Very powerful statement of profound compassion for one’s tormentors. Freedom or happiness is internal, and yes, while the external world can be more terrible and we can continue to feel so overwhelmed and anguished, and resentful and fearful about what is going on, those emotions do not help us to resolve the problems that are outside of us.
If we learn to be more at peace with ourselves and do not identify with the negativity of others, from a state of equanimity, we can handle any situation, and therefore produce our own happiness. But also, even more importantly the happiness of others: to bring communities together, to bring people to resolutions, at peace.
So in this image we have a human figure with a lock over his head, primarily because I wanted to make the point that the mind in itself, our human potential, is so vast, but we comprehend so little of it, what is possible for us. We have to learn to see that―if we do not know our full potential, you could say, in a manner of speaking, that we do not necessarily know all of that which is possible for us, or who we could be, what we can become. But we do have people, figures like Jesus or Buddha, or Krishna, what ever great luminary from any tradition who exemplified such beauty.
That is possible for us, to have such happiness or selflessness, compassion, altruism, humility, faith, strength in the worst circumstances. Those are qualities that are natural to consciousness, but which we have to learn to find more and more as we go through the trials of our life, but we can develop through the science of meditation.
The Purpose of Meditation
We like to emphasize that meditation is not simply just to relax, but that is the beginning. If you cannot relax your body, cannot relax your mind, you cannot go deep. You cannot examine that which needs to be examined. And so by examining ourselves, we have the key, and meditation is the key by which we can unlock our real potential, our real possibilities.
As I said, the word Gnosis in Greek means knowledge, and you find it in every tradition. It is the wisdom of consciousness. It means to awaken parts of our consciousness that are dormant, things that we do not know of. I believe medical science says that we only use about 3% of our human brain, and that there are many aspects even of our physicality, our mind, that we do not know about. And so, it is possible to awaken more and more and develop more and more beauty in our life, more compassion, more serenity, more strength.
The Four Noble Truths
The way that we can develop that knowledge is by examining this particular model which is from Buddhism, which as I said, we study all traditions. But the Buddhist model of the Four Noble Truths has something very interesting that we can examine.
It says that “in life there is suffering,” and the Pali term is “Dukkha.” The word suffering or Dukkha can also mean “dissatisfaction, displeasure,” sometimes even “disgust.” It means to have a dissatisfaction with the way things are, which is why any one of us comes to any type of tradition to study meditation or religion, or any type of world faith. It is because people are tired of suffering. They do not know what to do.
And he also said that “suffering has causes,” (Samudaya) so there are causes of suffering. And this is the distinction, the step that most people tend to get caught up on―too much externalizing, saying “the external world is to blame.” But we should ask the question about ourselves, and things that we do in our life that may make us more happy or more sad, more afflicted or more at peace. I am sure we all can identify certain actions in our life that really made a difference for others, or even for ourselves.
And so there are causes to suffering, which do not originate from the external world, but, if we are more aware, we can see that. Really in our own selves, we have all the keys to produce the happiness of the world or the pain of the world, and those causes are psychological.
As the Buddha taught, our state of mind produces our life. It is a very revolutionary type of thinking. Who we are mentally and emotionally is what interacts with the world. If our states of being are negative, if we are angry or violent, or resentful, and that radiates out to others, we in turn experience negativity.
Obviously when we are resentful or angry towards our loved ones, our spouse, they react the same way, and then that tension and that pain escalates, becomes more elevated and extreme, to the point that families break, communities fall apart, religions degenerate, politics become scenes of animalistic behavior, instinctual behavior and violence, not just physically, but verbally. So, we see that those causes of suffering are inside: we produced the state of the world that we are in.
So “the causes of suffering also can cease,” and this is the next step, which is very beautiful―that there is a way to remove those causes of pain, which are within us―things that we can control, not the external world. But things that we do in our life that can make us suffer or be in pain, are the things that we can change.
So the causes of suffering can be eliminated, and the term in Sanskrit is Nirvana. Nirvana simply means “cessation,” to cease suffering, to end suffering. It is a state of mind. And I am pretty sure we all can verify that truth for ourselves, that suffering can cease.
I know in my position, where I work, I have had some very difficult people come to me and criticize, and in those moments of being confronted and feeling that tension, and the fear and the thoughts of “Oh, I am being put on the spot here,” that anxiety. From a state of meditation―because meditation is not just sitting to reflect, but also in our daily life, how we are opening ourselves up to the new―I had the intuition and realized that, I have to listen to this person and not be reactive, to not react to that problem, but to learn to be patient. By learning to respond with love and kindness to that situation, those causes of suffering had ceased. I deescalated a situation that could have been bad.
I am sure we all could think of examples of this in our own life. That is a very introductory level of what that truth is, but in a deeper sense, by learning to meditate, we can understand where anger comes from, where fear comes from, where insecurity, fear, resentment, pride, all these qualities of mind which are sources of affliction for us in the long run.
We could find that those causes can cease, and that “there is a path” that leads to that end [cessation of suffering]. That path is called meditation. And so, meditation, as I was saying, is not just about sitting to relax the body. As I said, that is the first step. We want to relax the body to the point that we want to feel that we are about to fall asleep, that we are so calm that the body is ready to enter, we are about to enter into physical sleep.
And it is from that state of calm that we can learn to calm the mind next. We have a calm body, we have a calm mind. And in that way, we can learn to be more attentive and aware of ourselves, either in daily life or when we sit to practice. So that, by learning to go inside, we can comprehend the sources of our own emotional states, our own psychological states.
So a lot of people talk about freedom, and this ties very much deeply into this study of meditation, because meditation is about becoming free. I know a lot of countries and politics and revolutions are very fascinated with this term freedom, and ironically, people even kill in the name of it.
To be free physically is one thing. Especially in North America, we have certain freedoms which are envied by the world. Freedom to eat what we want, believe what we want, marry whom we want, travel wherever. We tend to have a lot of freedoms which are envied by other countries, but this all in itself is not necessarily a real sense of freedom, because all of those things can change, as we are seeing even in our politics, border control, immigration policies, things that are going on that are constricting the life of people in this country, but also in other places too.
So those things can change. Those are temporary, but real freedom is a state of being: to be free from suffering, from anxiety, from fear, from pain, from traumas. And as the founder of the modern Gnostic tradition, his name is Samael Aun Weor, he wrote a book called The Great Rebellion, which is a book about rebelling against one’s own negativities, and acquiring genuine happiness.
Freedom is something that can only be achieved within ourselves. No one can achieve it outside of themselves. “Riding through the air,” is a very Eastern phrase which allegorizes the sense of genuine freedom. No one can really experience freedom while their consciousness remains bottled up inside of the me, myself, the “I.” ―Samael Aun Weor, The Great Rebellion
So this is a very powerful statement.
Consciousness can experience freedom, but only when it is not bottled up inside of this sense of “me, myself, I.” The desire of “what I want,” “what I crave,” “what I need.”
I know a lot of people like to think that, “I think therefore I am. I think this way. I believe in this tradition, or, I am from this race. I am from this culture. I am from this religion. Me, me, me, me, me!”
Even in pop psychology we talk a lot about ego. Someone with a big ego we think of someone as, like, maybe, in politics, or in a position of authority in our world, “Oh, they have a very big ego. They only think about themselves, do what they want.” And we have many examples of this. But even in a more fundamental level, we all have ego, and the word ego in Latin simply means “I.”
Anytime we say: “I want, I crave, I need, I want to do this. I want to ride my bike. I want to get a new job. I want this, I want that”―this sense of self is called ego, “I.” As I was explaining about the Four Noble Truths, we say that there are causes of suffering, and those causes are internal. So, on a fundamental level, the sense of “I,” “what I am,” “what I want,” “what I crave,” we could say, in Buddhist terms, is the cause of suffering.
But we have something else besides ego. We have that which is called consciousness. And consciousness is simple the capacity to perceive. It is the ability to understand, to know, to experience. For example, you are in your kitchen and there is a hot stove, and you accidentally put your hand on it and you get burned. You pull your hand back, and you become conscious of that experience that you burned yourself and got injured, and so you are now more aware of being in the kitchen and aware of one’s surroundings.
So that is a form of Gnosis, in a very basic level―knowledge. So, this sense of self, “me, myself, I,” does not come first. We can actually say that, the ability to experience as a consciousness is different from ego. We could say that ego is a type of condition, is a shell. It is a type of negative quality of mind. Such as anger, which is a sense of self which is very violent, even not physically, mentally or verbally. It is a sense of self that desires and says, “He hurt me.” “She did this.” “I deserve better!”
What we do not realize is that, in those moments in which we are investing ourselves in that emotion, that we are draining a lot of energy. We feel depleted. We do not necessarily resolve our problems, and that sense of self is a trap.
At least this is what all traditions of meditation teach, that according to Buddhism, desire is a cause of suffering. And desire is anger. It is fear. The logic of fear says, “I need to do better at my job or I am going to get fired, and I am not going to be able to support myself.” That fear has its own thoughts and logic, and the reasons we tell ourselves we have to do “this, this and this,” and we are caught in this wheel of tension and anxiety and pain and fear and uncertainty.
So regardless of the fear, we may be doing excellent at our job, and yet, there is that emotional state that does not want to believe that we are capable or good enough. I am sure many people have that experience.
So where is our freedom? If we are caught in that sense of self that says “I want,” “I need,” “I need to get a better job,” “I am not being treated here well,” “I am not getting paid enough,” “I am not getting what I need when I want,” we are enslaved. So that type of thinking is very exhaustive. I am sure, if we are honest, we can say that we get very drained by this type of thinking. It wastes energy physically. It wastes energy mentally, and it is a state of pain.
So what Samael Aun Weor is saying in this quote, is that our consciousness―that part of us which religions call soul, that which is really divine, that is our connection with the divine itself―is trapped. Our consciousness is trapped in anger, fear, pride, and states of being which are causes of suffering for us.
And this is a very difficult thing to discriminate and to see in oneself because, we like to say, “I know myself,” “I know who I am, where I am from, what I believe in; my gender, my race,” whatever. And yet, despite the fact that we say we know ourselves, we continue to repeat problems.
Or problems repeat that we cannot seem to get or understand: “I do not understand where this is coming from, or how to resolve this,” but what if we ask the question that few people really ask is, “How am I contributing to the problem? What if the problem is not outside but something inside of me?”
I was giving the example of being at work and we could be doing a really great job. People really respect us, really admire us, and yet we have that fear that says “I am not good enough.” This is a kind of common emotion you find in many places that really fuel this machinery of industry―people feeling like they are not good enough. They always have to prove something: “I have to prove myself in this situation, in this circumstance.”
But we do not realize we are wasting energy. We are actually investing our consciousness in these states which, we can say, put us in a state of sleep. We are not really aware of what is going on in the situation. Such as at work, you may feel like “Hey, I am not doing well,” but then people say “No, this is excellent!”
You are being observed, or people comment and make the compliment that they really respect you as an individual, so it is like “Oh! That is shocking.” You know, that is one minor example. So our consciousness should be free, expansive, liberated, serene, peaceful, happy, loving, compassionate, pure states of consciousness that are very divine. Those should be more developed in us, but unfortunately, our tendency in our daily life is to invest ourselves in negativity and reactions and problems.
So that sense of “me” or “myself” or “I” we call ego. And this sense of self, according to Buddhism or any tradition, they say that, this sense of self we tend to grasp onto, is the cause of suffering. So, the question is, how do we resolve that? How do we confront this sense of self we have, and learn to comprehend it better? Maybe even eliminate it, because consciousness, our true potential, is trapped in those states. If we extract them, we can develop more consciousness, and that is what meditation is for―expanding consciousness, working on our imperfections so that we can become truly happy, great beings.
Understanding the myself, “my persona, what I am,” is imperative if we sincerely wish to attain freedom. There is no way we can destroy the fetters of our enslavement without previously and totally comprehending this question of “mine” and all that concerns the me, myself, the “I.” What constitutes slavery? What is it that keeps us enslaved? ―Samael Aun Weor, The Great Rebellion
Now of course this is very strong language, but if we are honest, we can see that, are we not enslaved to a certain quality of mind that repeats all the time? Family problems, conflicts with our neighbors, or whomever, or spouse? We tend to be enslaved to suffering. And this is the great dilemma that, I believe even Shakespeare wrote in his play Hamlet, “To be or not to be, that is the question,” in a kind of allegorical sense.
So it is good to question ourselves: what constitutes slavery? “What are my habits and problems and ways of being that I keep repeating, that other people are pointing at me?” Because sometimes other people see us better than we see ourselves. You know, we tend to think that we are a certain way but, sometimes a lot of people may not agree.
“...What constitutes slavery? What is it that keeps us enslaved? What are the obstacles? We must discover all of this.” ―Samael Aun Weor, The Great Rebellion
What is the Mind?
Which brings us to the next question: who are we? We have been talking a little bit about what ego is, what the self is. So what is the mind? Even our best scientists and doctors and philosophers have been struggling with this question for centuries, to figure out, what are we, fundamentally? What is the mind? What is thought? What is emotion?
So we have included an image of a man pondering this thought, with a bunch of gears and machinery images of wheels above it. I picked this image because sometimes our ways of thinking can get very mechanical. We tend to go through our day with certain routines: getting up for work, getting up for or going to our job, interacting in certain ways with people, and the thing that we can question is, what are our mechanical ways of behaving?
When certain situations arise, how do we respond? What is our typical attitude? This is something that we can question in ourselves and ask: “Well, why do I react towards this person who is very irritating? Why am I irritated by what this person or what this client says?”
Unfortunately, we do not tend to ask that question. We just feel irritated and we want that person to go away, or to not be associated with them, but it is an interesting question to ask.
“Why am I thinking this way or behaving this way to this person?”
This is what meditation is for, asking that question, “Well, why am I behaving negatively to that person, or feeling like I am justified?” Maybe that person―and this is a Buddhist question that we can ask ourselves―what if that person has some type of concern about us, that we are not treating them well? And the psychology that we kind of go through, the kind of gears, the machinery that we go through, is that we tend to want to blame others, and not look at ourselves.
Whether or not that person is wrong, it would be interesting to ask that question, “Well, why am I reacting to that person? Why am I thinking that? Why do I feel agitated? Why do I want to one-up this person? Why do I want to prove them wrong?” Because usually what we do not see is that, in that moment in which we are criticizing the other person, even just mentally and not verbally, we are suffering. We are stuck in the wheel of life, the wheel of mechanicity.
The mind, we can say, according to Buddhist concept, is where we have thought, experience thinking, even our emotional states. The western psychological tradition calls it ego, “I,” but we also could say it is desire. Again as I was saying, “what I want, what I crave, what I need,” and we always tend to be stuck in this type of thinking that says, “I want to fulfill my desires until the day I die, and whatever happens next, I do not know.”
But, honestly, if we ask ourselves, is that a kind of life worth living? I believe we mentioned that Socrates mentioned: “the unexamined life is not worth living”? Not asking those deep questions about, why are we the way we are? Why are we so convinced that we are right, and other people are wrong? But it is interesting even, in meditation, to ask this question “What am I? Who am I?”―and to constantly examine ourselves.
This is the basic beginnings of what meditation is, so that by learning to develop consciousness, we can go beyond thought, go beyond feeling, go beyond the body. And this is the major distinction that religions or, the original heart of those traditions taught, is that, the consciousness is not anger or thought or even feeling. It is something more dynamic, more beautiful, more profound―something free and liberated. It is spontaneous action that does not need to think.
It is the love of a mother that saves her child when in danger. It is a state of fearlessness, and there is a whole range of emotion and qualities that are not what we like to typically say we experience, but something even more beautiful―love, selflessness, strength. But of course in order to develop those qualities in us, we can learn how to, in moments of great crisis, examine who we are in those moments.
I am pretty sure we had cases in our life where, something terrible happened and we reacted badly or poorly, to the point that we came back and apologized to the person and said, “I am sorry I did not realize what I had done was wrong. I was so overcome at that moment.” And that is a type of hindsight, right? It is better than no sight, but there is a way to have foresight in the moment: we do not react and cause problems and pain for our family or loved ones, or anyone, and learn to transform the situation.
In that way, and by going home to meditate, we can learn to understand why we acted how we did. If you are familiar with the myth of, in the Middle East, I think it is The Thousand and One Arabian Nights, there is the story of the genie and Aladdin's lamp. I mentioned that quote from Samael Aun Weor; he said that “So long as the consciousness is bottled up within the ‘me,’ ‘myself,’ the ‘I,’ we will continue to suffer.”
So in that Arabian myth, that piece of literature, the story is that by rubbing the lamp, a genie can come out and can grant any wish. It is a symbol of our consciousness. It can grant anything we wish and need for ourselves, a state of beauty or, any type of contentment we seek. Of course, the bottle is what traps the genie. You break the bottle, you free the genie. It is a symbol, which we can accomplish in meditation, but first we have to learn to examine the difference between the mind and the consciousness.
I also use the term divinity. I did not use the term God, primarily because the word God has a lot of baggage. There are a lot of traumas associated with that term. When people think of some type of figure like God or a deity, they think of some anthropomorphic old man in the clouds with a beard who dispenses lightning to a poor anthill of a humanity. So that type of God, according to Friedrich Nietzsche, does not exist, which is why he said “God is dead”―at least the idea of some kind of person outside of us, that is organizing everything.
We do not refer to divinity as God, or at least try not to, because where someone had a certain religious upbringing and certain traumas, that can cause a lot of pain for people. Instead we like to use the term Being, and I think this term more accurately represents what divinity is. It is a state of mind, of Being, or a state of consciousness. So Being means to be, to be here and now, to be alert, to be attentive. The Being is not outside, but inside our heart, our consciousness.
Divinity is a quality like love, selflessness, compassion, but is very far beyond our concepts of what love and compassion is. It is a state that we can taste, and that we probably have tasted in our lives at some point, but they were temporary. They went away. That is why certain people, or a lot of people come to any type of tradition, is because they had that experience and they think “Well how do I repeat that?”―and they do not know how.
A state of love and selflessness or compassion, or faith, of understanding, or certain situations working out for one’s benefit. So we want to ask ourselves: how can we earn that and repeat that? That is why we have meditation.
The Being and the Mind
We make a difference between, a distinction between, this Being, our Being, our divinity, and the mind. We could say Being has no form, although all the religious traditions have used forms to represent divinity, whether it be Mother Mary, Jesus, certain scripts or languages, representing, like in Islam, they do not represent God; they just use certain letters to represent Divinity. Or amongst the Aztec and the Maya, they use certain sculptures and images to represent qualities of the Being, which is an infinite spectrum.
This does not mean that there are many gods, separate gods, or that there is just one God. In fact, consciousness is, or the Being can be universal. It is one thing, but can manifest and express in different ways, which is why whether polytheistic traditions or even the monotheistic traditions share the same roots. The problem is that the people of those traditions have adulterated their understandings, thinking that there is only one or the other. But the truth is that, divinity is one light, but can express in many ways.
Those are qualities of Being. We make a distinction between the mind and the Being. The mind is the intellect where we think, and I am sure we can see in ourselves that, if we overthink certain problems, we do not get anything done.
I believe it is a common experience amongst business practitioners where, they will be at a meeting for hours, and try to think out a problem, and they do not resolve anything. Then they say, “Okay let’s take a break, get some coffee for five minutes.” They walk away, and when they are not thinking of anything, suddenly [snaps fingers] the insight comes and they are like “Ah-ha!” That is how divinity works. They come back to the meeting all energized and excited, and many people have that experience and they say, “I know what to do now.”
Overthinking and thinking and thinking does not resolve anything. Of course, we need the intellect to be able to exist in this society, because the intellect or the mind is a machine. It can store information that we need to interact with people, like that previous image we looked at with the gears turning. The mind is useful, but it has to be under the service of our consciousness.
Of course, distinguishing between consciousness and thought in the beginning is very difficult, but something we can develop more and more through meditation.
Samael Aun Weor in the book, The Spiritual Power of Sound, wrote something very interesting about this distinction:
“The mind only serves as a hindrance to the Being (the Innermost).” ―Samael Aun Weor, The Spiritual Power of Sound
The term we use for the Being is the Innermost, and that term comes from the Western Esoteric tradition. Innermost means, that which is our inner true identity, within us. So as I was saying, thought is a hindrance. We think too much about a problem, we do not resolve anything, whereas intuition or the Being [snaps fingers] knows. We know how to solve a situation without having to think. That is a quality of the being.
“The mind does not know anything about Reality. If thought knew Reality― the Innermost, the Being―then all people would already be comprehensive...” ―Samael Aun Weor, The Spiritual Power of Sound
Meaning if the intellect was the way, this world would be a better place, but the question is, well if humanity is not getting any better right now, if there is only more wars and conflict and violence on this planet, we have to question our method. What are we doing wrong? That fundamental basis is trying to resolve things with the intellect, the mind, and not more with the heart, with understanding.
“It is completely impossible to experience the Being―the Innermost, the Reality―without becoming true technical and scientific masters of that mysterious science called meditation. It is completely impossible to experience the Being―the Innermost, the Reality―without having reached a true mastery of the quietude and silence of the mind.” ―Samael Aun Weor, The Spiritual Power of Sound
We will conclude with a quote that emphasizes this point. It is from a Buddhist master by the name of Nagarjuna. He wrote in The Precious Garland something very interesting:
“Scratching an itch brings pleasure, but more pleasurable than that is not having an itch. Likewise, satisfying worldly desires is pleasurable, but more pleasurable than that is not having desire.” ―Nagarjuna in The Precious Garland
So again, this is something very profound. The desire or thought, or sentiment, the feeling, the sense of self that says, “I need to resolve this problem”―certainly, that type of thinking can be pleasurable, but in the more higher senses of meditative practice, not having that type of “self” is even more powerful, and more pleasurable.
I know a lot of people get fearful when they say, “Well if I get rid of this sense of ‘I,’ ‘myself,’ ‘me,’ the ego, what I think I am, what will I be?” People get afraid of this sense of, and think of this as a nihilistic thing, but the truth is, when we eliminate anger, we free consciousness that is trapped in anger. We experience love.
I am sure that if we have studied even the Christian tradition, they talk about the seven deadly sins, but they also talk about the seven virtues. Such as, if we eliminate anger, we develop serenity, sweetness and love. We eliminate pride, we develop humility and compassion. Eliminate certain faults, and then we develop consciousness that is more beautiful and pure, unconditioned.
Now I know this is a very rudimentary introduction to some of the principles of meditation but, one thing we would like to emphasize is that, through meditative science, there is a higher way of Being, and that we can use these techniques to transform our daily life, and in that way we have less problems, and resolve things with more understanding.
Questions and Answers
Do you have any questions?
Question: Yeah, I suffer from anxiety and depression…
Question: But I am also suffering from longings…
Question: And it is not going away…
Question: And the mind takes over, and I have these visions, I am going to end up killing myself down the road because I cannot cope.
Instructor: Yes, so I have actually worked with people, I am very close to people in this tradition who have suffered depression. And unfortunately, a lot of people, regardless of being on any type of anti-depressants, it is very difficult to deal with.
One thing we can say about that particular condition is that, it is a state of mind that is inverted. A lot of times we can say the opposite of depression is pride, such as feeling good about oneself, having pride, “I am this way. I am successful. I am this, I am that.” But depression is that type of sentiment inverted: we call it shame. It is a sense of self that says, “I am not good enough,” “I do not deserve this. “People hate me,” or “no one wants to be with me. I do not know how to resolve my problems. I am not lovable.”
The way to resolve that type of sentiment is by relaxing our body, observing ourselves, becoming conscious, becoming aware of our thinking, our feeling, our emotions. We can actually go into the mind to understand the traumatic roots of that sense of self, where it originates from. Because the opposite of shame is dignity. That is a conscious quality. It is a quality of the soul, which is eternal. Our true nature is divine, has a sense of dignity and love, and self-respect and compassion, not only towards others, but for oneself.
The problem is that, when we suffer those type of conditions, which also can not only be neurological, but also something even more profound, coming from psychological roots or traumas in one’s life, which combine to produce the experience of depression―but there are ways to heal that, radically.
I have worked with people in this teaching who have suffered mental illness: schizophrenia, depression, and by using a lot of the techniques that we are studying, in combination with some of the efforts of doctors, they have been able to achieve homeostasis, balance, and get through life with happiness.
I mean I personally know people who have suffered depression, and because of working with these techniques, they have been able to change themselves. But depression is a sense of self or desire that is very inverted. It says it wants to harm itself. But we have to realize that, that sense of self is not our true identity. It is not who we really are.
Question: Right because you suffer “from” it, you do not “have” it? It is not in you… you suffer “from” it?
Instructor: Yes, it is a condition of mind. It is the lamp that traps the genie. If you break the lamp, if you look in yourself and analyze the cage, when you meditate on, “what are these thoughts that I am experiencing? What are these fears? Where do they come from?” It is not an intellectual process, but it is a conscious inquisition. It is a quality of inquiry that we go and we ask ourselves, “Well, where is this feeling coming from?” And then look at it, and it can be very painful and very scary to look at those kind of emotions.
You know, it is a very difficult thing to do, and whether or not someone suffers from depression or any mental illness has that fear too. But of course in those conditions, it can be more difficult, but it can be changed. We have a lot of techniques that we use in this tradition.
There is one exercise in some of the books we have available. We even have a video online on gnosticteachings.org, of a remedy to cure depression. It does not require medication. It does not require anything. It does not have side effects. It is called the magic of the roses.
And in this tradition we use a lot of practices, not only just meditation or relaxation, but we also practice working with some of the magical traditions, which are not just hocus pocus or making things appear, like a rabbit appear out of a hat, but when we develop consciousness we can learn to work, not only with our own consciousness, but the soul that is within plants, or in animals and other Beings, in order to achieve a type of balance and harmony.
You can look online. There is a whole video about the magic of the roses. And personally, when I have suffered any trauma emotionally, real strong situations that were very painful, I have worked with that exercise and that radically healed it. But of course, every situation is going to be different. You may find that in those cases, some people with mental illness, of course, they should get professional advice and seek a doctor and see what medication can work, to help acquire that balance, plus meditation.
So hand in hand those things can help. But I would recommend looking on gnosticteachings.org look up the Magic of the Roses. [See also our course on Spiritual and Mental Health]
Question: What was the first thing you said?
Instructor: It is gnosticteachings.org
Any other questions?
Question: In meditation, you are supposed to not do anything or think, so when you meditate on these questions, I get confused.
Instructor: Sure. No, it is definitely, a real difficult distinction to make. What does it mean to be conscious, and what does it mean to be thinking?
Now I know in the beginning we really want to use the intellect to resolve problems, because that tends to be our state of mind since the beginning, before we begin to train. But as you are learning to meditate, you will find that, as you are relaxing your body and just observing yourself, you find that, you will start to see more and more and separate from thought, from memory, from these things.
It is a kind of separation that is needed. It does not mean a dislocation or a type of apathy, or a dull state, or a nihilistic state. I am pretty sure you might have had the experience where, if you are falling asleep sometimes, maybe dream images start to appear. Things just start to happen, like when the body is asleep you start to see places, or people, or things, or sounds. Those are qualities of our subconsciousness. Usually we are not aware of those states, but as you are relaxing more profoundly, you will start to see those things. As you are observing yourself, they will start to appear.
So I know in the beginning it is very difficult but, with training, we start to develop more and more, we start to separate more and more from the mind. And the initial step is relax, and after your body is fully relaxed, try this exercise.
Just observe and become aware of your mood and your thoughts. Even during a lecture we can pay attention to a degree, and then suddenly we are thinking about other things, or make associations or memories about a certain concept that we hear. Then sometimes our train of thinking goes off. We start thinking and thinking and thinking and thinking, and then we realize [snaps fingers], “Wait a minute… I am supposed to be listening. I am supposed to be in this lecture!” And we all have that experience, and then suddenly we try to backtrack for a minute or two saying, “Well, what did I miss?”
You know, it is a very common experience. That shows us that our mind tends to be very distracted. But meditation first begins by learning to concentrate. So that realization, “I am not paying attention,” is the very beginning. That is the type of “ah-ha” moment, the comprehension that we realize in ourselves, “Ah, I lost my focus! I am not really aware of what is going on.” We can also say, “I am not really awake.”
But when you bring your attention back to that type of recollection, you find that it gets easier. It gets easier the more you work at it. And some basic practices we use in this tradition, you could take a candle―if you find that you get distracted too easily―take a candle and light it, sit in a relaxed posture, relax your mind and your body, and just observe the candle. Just look at the flame. You will find that as you are doing that, you will start to think of other things, and then you will realize how, we tend to be thinking too much, or we are usually caught up in that cycle, that machine.
That exercise, you just look at a candle, and if you start daydreaming or thinking of other things, just bring your attention back, gently. Some people think concentration is like going to the gym and being really fierce and strong, but real concentration is strong, but it is relaxed. It is calm.
So you see, “Oh I lost my attention,” pay attention back to the candle. But in the beginning, it is okay to, if you are trying to resolve a problem or an issue, to think about it and try to come up with an understanding of what is going on. You will find that the more and more you practice, the more you leave the mind behind, and the more that you can access a state of consciousness that is intuitive. It simply knows. It understands, without having to think, and that is like [snaps fingers] an “ah-ha” moment, “I understand, now I comprehend what I need to do.”
Any final questions?
Question: If we are feeling lonely all the time and then we meditate, will that help the loneliness?
Instructor: Yes, because loneliness is a desire for company. It says, “I need to be with people,” “I need to be social.” And of course, having a social life in important, but feeling lonely does not have to be an affliction. Meditation can help us to resolve that sentiment.
Understand you know, where loneliness comes from. What is it? What does it want? What are we feeling? Why do we feel that way? And asking that question and questioning that. But you also find that as you are, not only practicing meditation, but changing those qualities of being, we learn to associate in the external world with different types of people, you know...
Question: I isolate myself an awful lot so, that is why I am on my own, that is why I am lonely, I have created it…
Instructor: Sure, yeah, and certainly that was my case many years ago, until I found this type of teaching and started practicing. And then I found that I was much more outgoing and more, I guess, charismatic or, just interrelating with people. Because I used to be very solitary and isolated, you know, was struggling with that in myself, and then I learned to change that, to the point where I can get jobs and careers, and fulfill a very, you know, pretty happy career with what I am doing now, with working with a lot of different people.
So that transformation is easy to achieve. It just takes a type of work ethic, you know? But also, being willing to try new things and meet new people, because obviously, you know, as you start to change yourself, you will interact with different people.
It is the law of attraction. If we are developing more virtuous qualities of mind, we naturally radiate and gravitate to those situations where, those people are practicing the same things. And then you feel a sense of a community and strength and affirmation from others that really make you feel that you belong, and that you are respected and are fulfilled.
But the first step is confronting that, of course this is the major thing that, many people do not like to do―to confront themselves. But if we do, we can attain great changes, not only for ourselves, but for the benefit of others.
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