This is a transcription of an audio lecture from The Sufi Path of Self-knowledge, originally given live at the Gnostic Academy of Chicago:
The title of this lecture is “Self Knowledge: The Door to Liberation from Suffering.” Now in the Gnostic tradition, we address many religions and faiths in order to arrive at a synthetic teaching. The core knowledge at the heart of every religion provides us understanding of our innate and divine potential, as well as how to overcome the afflictions of our mind, the negative emotions of our heart, and many illnesses of our body. In these studies we are concerned with our personal connection with divinity, and it is our goal to unite with our internal divine Intelligence, which different religions have given different names (whether Allah in Islam, Christ in Christianity, Buddha in Buddhism, Ahura-Mazda amongst the Zoroastrians, etc). We seek to cultivate this knowledge of our Internal Divinity, our Inner Self day to day, moment by moment.
Today, in the spirit of synthetically teaching different religions and traditions, we are going to explain this path of self-knowledge in relation to the Gnostic doctrine, as well as in relation to the Sufi initiates, the mystics or Gnostics of Islam. Even the Muslim doctrine, in its heart, contains a profound esotericism which is valuable to study. We study Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, Judaism, etc., in synthesis to arrive at the core knowledge that is going to change us. So we are going to explain many teachings that were given by the Middle-Eastern initiates, the Masters of Islam.
The word Islam is Arabic for “submission to God’s will.” This is precisely what we seek to cultivate in this tradition, to submit ourselves to the will of our Inner Divinity, our Inner Being known as Spirit, Innermost, Atman, our flame of Oreb that Moses saw on the mountain. The Sufis denominate our Inner Being or Spirit as Ruh, or simply the word Hu within the sacred name of God: Allahu. Hu reminds us of the Sanksrit Hum, which precisely means spirit.
We have to understand what is this Self that we seek to understand in ourselves and in our psychology, because many people affirm that they know themselves, that they know who they really are in their depth. If we generally examine this concept of self-knowledge, we will arrive at an understanding that it is a very elevated statement to make that one knows one self. We each have our own Inner Divinity who is our True Self. Therefore when someone says, “I know myself—I know who I am” and we ask them, “Well… do you know Christ, your Inner Flame, your Inner Logos? Have you awakened to your inner Buddha-nature, the light of Amitabha? Have you seen Allah and spoken to your Inner God just as we are here receiving a lecture, face to face with the Lord, like Moses on Mount Sinai?”—what will typically happen is that the person will respond, “No. I don’t know anything like that. But I do know myself. This is my language. This is my name. This is the culture to which I was raised; this is my family,” etc.
We genuinely assume that these aspects and qualities of our culture, heritage, name, and language, are who we are, ignoring that God is not isolated to one particular person or place, but is internal in each one of us. God is not our language. God is not our culture, our religion, our beliefs. Our Internal Divinity is beyond terrestrial customs, beliefs, and social mores. What happens is that God has expressed Himself through many prophets from different races, cultures, and languages, in order to give a universal teaching. Bearing this in mind, when someone says, “I know myself,” really that is saying, “I know who God is. I know my Inner God within me. I have gone beyond the public teachings of religion and have experienced my Being, my inner divinity.” Also, it would be saying “I have fully manifested my divinity within my psyche.” Such a statement has been given by many elevated initiates—not by common individuals who know nothing about genuine esoteric, spiritual discipline.
There was a Sufi Master by the name of Mansur Al Hallaj who was put in prison, tortured, and mutilated because he said amongst the orthodox Muslims of his time, “An al-Haqq!” or “I am the Truth!” Haqiqah, the most elevated doctrine within Sufi thought, refers to the Truth and the Truth is one of the names of Allah, a name given to divinity. Now, of course God was expressing through Hallaj who said, “I am the Truth.” It was not Mansur al-Hallaj, the terrestrial personality, who said it. It was his Inner Divinity that spoke it. For before his execution, the Master Al-Hallaj was interrogated:
Abu Bakr asked, “What is mysticism?”
Al Hallaj answered, “Behold, his minor degree before thee.”
Abu Bakr asked again, “And where is his supreme degree?”
Al Hallaj answered, “Thou cannot have access unto it; nonetheless, tomorrow thou shall see what shall come. I testify it in the Divine Mystery within which it exists, albeit it is hidden for thee.” ―Samael Aun Weor, The Narrow Way: "The Passion of Al-Hallaj"
The minor degree or expression of divinity is the terrestrial person or human soul. The supreme degree is God Himself, Allah, the true self that can express within any person who has prepared him or herself to express God.
However, many fanatics of public-level religion and tradition did not understand these things—so they killed Al-Hallaj; they tortured him and mutilated his body because they considered his words blasphemy, even though all the great masters before him have also been tortured, crucified, or poisoned for delivering wisdom…
So this is what we seek to be able to express in ourselves—the Truth—our Inner God. We have to understand that our Being is really the most pure and divine treasure that we possess within our interior that must be actively sought, and not just believed in. As it is stated in the Muslim oral tradition, the Hadith Qudsi:
Allah said, “I was a hidden treasure, and I was wished to be known, so I created creation (mankind), and made myself known to them, and they recognized me.”
There is a very famous Sufi proverb that states, “He who knows himself, knows his Lord.” If we are familiar with the Greek teachings of oracle of Delphi, we find the familiar maxim written on its immortal walls: “Man know thyself, and you shall know the universe and its gods.”
Therefore, if we really know ourselves, it means that we know God, but if we do not know God, it means that we do not know ourselves in depth, because we are just an emanation or spark that emerged from divinity. For the most part, we do not genuinely, in our constitution, know who we are. Who is our Being? There are few who can say that they know their Being, their Spirit, their Inner God. So we have to acknowledge this fact that we generally do not know divinity, if we truly wish to unite with divinity. If we think we know it all already, then what effort will we make to strive to know God?
In this image we have the Prophet Muhammad with his disciples. These are initiates crowned with fire on their heads. There are so many saints in different paintings of sacred and religious art depicted with halos of flames, whether in Buddhism, Judaism, Islam or Christianity, that it is impossible to ignore or deny their ubiquitous nature and meaning. Such halos are in every tradition and signify the energy known as Christ, that fire or intelligence within our body that has been raised up the spinal column to the brain. We call that force kundalini; we call that force the Divine Mother Goddess who is within us. So the path that Jesus took as carrying the cross, by working in a matrimony (since the cross is a symbol of matrimony) he took that energy up the spinal medulla, up the Via Crucis, the path of suffering, to the brain—or you could say Golgotha which means “the place of the skulls.” And so we have in every tradition this teaching: the elevation of our inner flame, our inner fire, our sacred intelligence known as our Divine Mother Kundalini, elevating up the spinal medulla very slowly and laboriously to Golgotha.
This path of initiation, this path of crucifixion, is precisely the path taught by Jesus and many other Masters. Here we see the Sufi initiates illuminated by fire, meaning that they're working with the cross, which is not only a Christian symbol, but Muslim as well. The symbol of Islam is the crescent moon and the star of Venus, which have the same meaning as the cross that we’re explaining here. The crescent moon is the power of Yesod in Kabbalah, the sexual forces that must be dominated by the Divine Mother Kundalini, Venus or Aphrodite. A cross is the sexual communion of man and woman, just as a married couple must together work with the crescent moon under the guidance of the Divine Mother, Venus.
Those Muslims who consider Allah to be merely masculine are wrong, since the Divine Mother is an integral part of divinity and is represented in Hinduism as the sacred cow, Al-Baqara within the second Surah of the Holy Qur'an.
It is also interesting to note is that three of those initiates in this image have the fire, the halo, but one of them does not. It is indicating that there are levels and hierarchies amongst the disciples, or how much self-knowledge these individuals possess. What’s most important is in this image of the Prophet Muhammad, for he’s wearing the veil. In many sacred images of Islam we find that the Prophet is never depicted with a face. We always see a veil because God cannot be seen face to face, and since Prophet Muhammad, was the minor degree of his innermost Being, he became a full expression of his supreme degree, Allah.
If we wish to know divinity, we have to be humble like these initiates that we see in this image. This refers to the veil of Isis in the Egyptian Mysteries and freemasonry. So the veil, the hijab or burka that the Muslim women would wear, was traditionally only worn amongst the wives of the Prophet Muhammad, those that were close to his family. Now that veil really represents, for us, our own ignorance. We do not see God because we are asleep as a soul, as a consciousness, as Psyche in the Greek Myth. We do not know God, because we do not have consciousness of our divinity, meaning we are not in communication with our inner being. We lack genuine self-knowledge. This veil also is a symbol of sexual modesty, that the wives of the Prophet, who represented in their physical life different parts of the Being, must be pure of all lust and defilement within the mind.
We are going to explain how we communicate with our God in synthesis. We have this veil, burka or hijab before our spiritual eyes. When perceiving God directly there is only force and fire. To look at God directly, at that Intelligence, upon one’s Inner God, is to die completely—not just physically—but psychologically—dying to one’s impurities in the mind. So the path that Jesus taught with the cross, the illumination of the fire up the spinal medulla to the brain, represents for us the crucifixion of the mind, the death of one’s psychological impurities and the full purification of the soul in order to return to God. Remember that when Prophet Moses asked the Lord to show Himself in His fully majesty, Jehovah (or Allah), said, "If you look upon Me directly you will die." This was demonstrated with the last words of Jesus, “It is finished” and “God unto thy hands I commend my Spirit.” In order to fully unite with divinity, we must die to all evilness of a psychological type. This relates deeply with the teachings of the Kabbalah, the mystical science of Judaism.
So these initiates are bowing before this Intelligence, the flame that Muhammad is expressing in his body, in his mind and heart. We need to have this type of reverence and respect which is the hallmark of genuine communication and communion with our Inner God. The only way to accomplish this is to purify one’s mind of all defilement. To strive against one’s own impurities is a spiritual war, the path of jihad, followed by any prophet or master who sought to fully comprehend and extirpate their defects.
Sadly the exoteric religion of Islam has degenerated. Just as Christianity and Buddhism has degenerated. Here we’re speaking about the esoteric truths of the Muslim tradition, specifically regarding the teachings of jihad or “striving.” Genuine jihad is about killing one’s own infidels in the mind. To kill an infidel is to kill one’s anger pride, vanity, lust, laziness, etc., for as the Prophet taught, “The strongest among you is he who controls his anger.” He never said to take out one’s anger on another person! Lastly, a group of his Companions were returning from a battle with the Prophet who were defending themselves against a group of Arabs that sought to kill them and destroy their group. Prophet Muhammad explained, “We leave the lesser holy war to go to the greater holy war.” “And what, O Prophet,” is the lesser and greater holy wars?” asked his Companions. He replied, “The lesser holy war is war against others. The great holy war is war against your desires.”
So here were not teaching the public doctrine given to many Muslims, about physically defending one’s faith from oppression. We study the esoteric teachings of Islam, which are very sacred. We have to understand that the all religions are sacred and that Islam has its place within humanity, but sadly as an exotic tradition or faith, it has terribly degenerated, because people don’t study and they only read things literally. Here we are explaining, really the heart, the core, the blood of the teachings of Muhammad, which is very sacred.
Mindfulness, Awareness, and Sufi Psychology
So he states in the oral tradition, within the Hadith Qudsi, verse 19:
“Be mindful of Allah and you will find Him in front of you.”
Or we could say, be mindful of Buddha and he will be with you. Be mindful of Jehovah and he will be with you. Be mindful of Durga, the Divine Goddess, Devi Kundalini, and She will be with you.
“Recognize and acknowledge Allah, in times of ease and prosperity, and He will remember you in times of adversity.”
So what does it mean to be mindful? It is to pay attention. In Arabic we call mindfulness or awareness as muhadarah. Muhadarah comes from the root word Hudur, which means Presence. This refers to being aware of the inner presence of our divinity, inside our psyche, in all moments. In that practice that we performed in the beginning of our meeting, we were examining our mind, understanding that we are not our thoughts, that we are not the emotions that constantly surge within our psyche as pain and pleasure, like and dislike, states which constantly fluctuate in our consciousness. Neither are we sensations in our body, mind, or instincts.
These transient thoughts, feelings and sensations are known as nafs in Sufism, egos, selves, "I's" or defects. These have nothing to do with God. The elements of pride, anger, vanity, lust, greed, laziness, gluttony, etc., are aberrations or conditionings of our psyche. While these elements tend to constitute our daily experience (since we genuinely do not question these thoughts, feelings, and sensations at all in the moment), the truth is that deep down we are something much more distinct. We are the soul, the consciousness, known as Essence in Gnostic psychology, that has the capacity to perceive and separate from the nafs, the conditioned elements of our psyche. Part of our soul, which is not conditioned by nafs, still has the capacity to transcend the suffering of these conditioned elements of mind or soul in order to know divinity, since only the consciousness or soul can know God directly.
A conditioned mind cannot know divinity. Only a liberated, conscious perception free of nafs, egos, can know the Truth. But for this, the consciousness that is not yet conditioned by the mind, egos, or nafs, needs to be exercised through learning to pay attention, to become aware of the presence (hudur) of God, to not identify with the nafs, our ego.
It takes tremendous work to be able to cultivate this state moment to moment, here and now. So to be mindful of God means to remember your Inner Divinity, here and now. Observe yourself. Be present and pay attention. The truth is we do not know how to be mindful. If we knew how to be mindful we would be aware of God within us here and now. But the sad reality is that whenever any thought, feeling, or sensation appears in our experience, we identify and think, "This is who I am!" Yet this sense of self is transitory and depends on external causes and conditions that are not stable, permanent, or eternal. Only God, Allah, the Innermost Being, is eternal. Instead, what we commonly identify with are impermanent, subjective, conditioned elements in our psyche that distort our perception of reality, the nafs or elements of desire denominated as Satan, "the adversary of God," within the traditions of Abraham.
So what does it mean to recognize and acknowledge Allah in times of ease and prosperity and He will remember you in times of adversity? It means that when things are easy, we take our free time and we use it to cultivate the path of self-knowledge. But what self-knowledge are we talking about? We really mean knowledge of our divine self, Atman, the Buddha within, our Spirit or Ruh. We come to know God within by knowing our defects, nafs or egos that obstruct us from connecting with divinity.
Yet to really cultivate genuine self-knowledge, we must use our freedom and our luxury to practice meditation, since meditation is the foundational practice of this tradition and is the only way for us to know our Being.
So if we have free time and we don’t meditate, God will not remember us when we need Him. On the other hand, if we take our free time and we use it for spiritual development, spiritual practices, then even in the most challenging circumstances God will always be with you; Allah (may He be praised and exalted) will always be with you. Your Being will always be with you to provide help, but it requires sacrifice on our part not to indulge in fruitless activities like playing video games, or drinking alcohol to excess. Therefore, it is by knowing ourselves and by developing self-knowledge in meditation that we are going to connect with God.
Knowledge and Comprehension
In this next graphic, we have an image of a mosque, a house of prayer, and we have a quote from the Venerable Master Samael Aun Weor, who is the founder of the modern Gnostic tradition. He states,
“Knowledge and Comprehension are different. Knowledge is of the mind. Comprehension is of the heart.”
When talk about self-knowledge, knowing ourselves, it doesn't mean reading books. It doesn't mean reading scripture. Knowing ourselves does not entail picking up any books, teachings or listening to a lecture. Genuine spiritual knowledge is cognizance of one’s own divine nature of one’s own intelligence, knowing our internal psychological states as distinct entities in ourselves. It is discovering states such as pride, anger, vanity, laziness, etc. These are what we call defects, egos, nafs—it is being able to differentiate here and now between our mind and our consciousness, from desire (nafs) and soul (Essence or consciousness). The mind is the den of desire. Desire is ego, hatred, vanity, craving, etc.
The knowledge we seek is that of our internal states, but according to this teaching, using strict esoteric language, knowledge alone remains within the domain of the intellect, book knowledge, sacred writing, scriptures, etc. However, comprehension is something completely different. Comprehension is something that we seek to develop in this science. We need to comprehend ourselves. The truth is we do not truly comprehend ourselves. For when anger arises, the ego or naf of hatred, we speak hurtful words and do not comprehend the damage that those words will cause. Instead, we usually receive the after effects such as when we have a conflict with a family member or with a friend or a spouse. Problems subsequently emerge—overwhelming frustration, great enmity, poisonous resentment. This shows that we do not comprehend ourselves, for if we comprehended how damaging anger is, how cruel pride is, how sarcastic pride can be, then we would never act in harmful ways—ever. We don’t really comprehend how damaging the effects can be on the mind, on other human beings.
I’ll reiterate a point made by the Prophet Muhammad. He said, “The strongest man is the one who can control his anger.” It’s true. We all have that defect of anger within and even justify its existence by saying “It’s normal. I know I have anger, but in some situations it is OK.” We have knowledge in our mind that we are a certain way, but no comprehension. Comprehension of a defect will aid one not to let it take over our mind and heart, our body, but mere intellectual knowledge doesn’t modify psychological states.
The different between knowledge and comprehension are demonstrated in drug addicts or alcoholics. These persons know that drugs or alcohol are destructive, but many of them continue to indulge in intoxicants, simply because they have not psychologically comprehended the damage of these substances. Comprehension is definitive, whereby when we really comprehend the destructive nature of drugs, alcohol, intoxicants, and anger, we will never allow ourselves to partake in such behaviors.
There are many elements in our psychology that influence us that we are not even remotely aware of. And if we examine ourselves, we do not really comprehend who we are, although we think we know. We have a lot of knowledge about who we are. It’s true. We know our name, our age, our birthplace, our culture, and our family. This is all intellectual, of the mind. Comprehension is what we seek to cultivate in the heart, the soul, the consciousness, the Essence. Comprehension of our True Self, of our Inner Divine Flame, is happiness, insight clarity and direct perception. Prophet Muhammad said in the Hadith, in the oral tradition, “An hour of contemplation is better than a year of prayer.”
We are going to explain what contemplation is, what meditation is, which in Arabic is mushahadah, in the course of this lecture.
Even better than standing and performing salaat (ritual prayer) five times a day, it’s better if we sit down and close our eyes to meditate, to really reflect on our inner psyche. What really causes us suffering? What are the causes of our problems, psychologically speaking? What in us creates such havoc or conflict with other human beings? What in us creates confusion and pain? So we look at Buddhism we find the Four Noble Truths:
1. That in life there is suffering.
2. Suffering has causes
3. The cessation of suffering
4. There is path to the cessation of suffering
This is the path which we are explaining. To comprehend ourselves is to work on our defects, egos or nafs so that we do not create suffering for ourselves and for others. The way that we cultivate this path is by developing being and knowledge.
When we talk about self-knowledge, of cultivating comprehension of our Inner Divinity (who is peace, joy, genuine love, compassion for others, spiritual strength, faith and the elimination of doubt), somehow we think that by annihilating our pride and anger we are going to be soulless people, for sadly, we believe that without egotistical elements we will be nothing. On the contrary, by eliminating our defects in meditation (muraqabah in Arabic, vigilant introspection) we develop soul; we develop consciousness and therefore we develop the genuine qualities of God, which are virtues. This pertains to being, to be here and now, to be present, and to not think about other things, to not compare what we are hearing to other things or to be debating in our mind any phenomena that we come across. It means that we have an open, spontaneous and intuitive perception of life as it is without artifice, without thinking about things, without feeling about other things, without being distracted. This is what it means to be and it is the state of being which unites us to our Divine Being, Allah because our Being is with us here and now in this state, in this room, in our hearts. Allah is a treasure that wishes to be known, to be perceived by our Essence, but the problem is we don’t know Him. We don’t remember Him. We don’t concentrate on Him in our hearts and we typically don’t fight against the distractions in our minds.
Question: How does one self-observe? I try it for some time and get very confused; things are very difficult to see within myself and to understand. How do I know that I am doing this right?
Instructor: That’s a good concern. In the beginning it’s like that, because self-observation, vigilant introspection (muraqabah) or self-awareness (muhadarah) is an entirely new way of perceiving things, to self-observe oneself like we did in the practice. We were observing our heart, our mind, our body as if they were a separate entity. We’re looking at our mind and thoughts as something different from us. We are perceiving the mind, but we are not the mind. We are perceiving the heart, but we are not the heart.
Consciousness, soul or Essence is the ability to perceive things as they are in our psyche, in our internal states. Now in the beginning, it is exceptionally challenging to be able to discern between what is mind, what is heart, what is the body, what are sensations, what are instincts, movements, what are thoughts. The way that we develop the capacity to perceive and to discriminate the internal phenomenon in our psyche is self-observation, to persist in that practice, not to forget or stop what we’re doing because it’s a continuous path, here and now. We must only be aware of this moment (waqt amongst the Sufis). We are constantly initiating the practice of remembering ourselves in our psyche.
We need to be aware of our internal psychology on a moment to moment basis, to always be present and never forget. This is very difficult and constitutes the meaning of jihad. It doesn't fighting against someone who doesn't follow Islam. It means fighting against your anger, pride, and all these defects, all these things that keep us distracted from God.
Thoughts, Intuition, Knowledge and Being
Question: When I try to self-observe I have difficulty know what I am seeing or who is observing. I see thoughts but can't tell where they come from. I find that I am not able to do anything!
Instructor: The thing is self-observation does not mean you’re not able to do things. In the beginning it’s hard because it’s disorienting—it’s an entirely new skill we need to develop here and now. It’s very challenging to learn, but when you ride your bicycle, you learn to balance. In the same way, you learn to fulfill your obligations without forgetting your Being (wujud in Arabic).
We say a thought comes from an ego and an ego manifests in the mind, the heart, and the body. Now there’s thoughts that come from our ego, our own desires, nafs, but there is also thoughts that come from God, like an intuition or concept that emerges from our mind like a spark. We immediately comprehend something because were paying attention; we’re not thinking about other things. The Sufis call that khatir haqq: true thoughts or intuition from God.
Thoughts (khawatir) are declarations that arrive in one’s awareness. This may result from the dictation of an angel or from the dictation of a devil, or from the operations of the ego or may come from the Truth, glory to Him. If thoughts come from an angel, they are called inspired suggestions, ilham. If they are from one’s ego, they are called notions, hawajis. If they are from satan, they are called imaginations and anxieties, waswas. If they are from the Truth, glory to Him, and His dictation to the heart, they are called true thought, khatir haqq. And all of these are a kind of talking. ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
So there are thoughts that can come from divinity, but typically ninety-seven percent of the thoughts that we have are subjective and clouding our perception of our Inner Being. We have to remember that we are 97% conditioned perception or nafs. Only 3% of our consciousness is not conditioned or trapped within defects.
Now in terms of knowledge, we always balance being (wujud) and knowing (intellectual concepts). It’s not enough just to be. We have to do our job, pay our bills, do our work, take care of our family, etc., and if its hard in the beginning to be aware while living daily life, it gets easier as we practice. Don’t feel discouraged that this something that you can’t do, because anyone can do this. It just takes a certain disciple and faith in your Inner Being.
We say that being and knowledge need to be balanced. Knowledge, language, culture, customs, job skills, etc., constitute things we need to do to survive. We constantly need to balance that with our internal states, our being, remembering our Innermost Spirit (Ruh) as a presence through an alert state and novel perception of our internal psychology.
Samael Aun Weor states in The Great Rebellion the following:
"Being and knowledge must be balanced to establish a sudden blaze of comprehension within our psyche. When knowledge is greater than being it creates all kind of intellectual confusion. If being is greater than knowing it can create cases as serious as that of the stupid saint."
Now if we simply read about spiritually, about astral projection, about jinn states, jinn travel, about alchemy, reading about the ten Sephiroth of the tree of life, the different states of consciousness of the Being, etc., but don’t actually experience these things, then they just remain as knowledge in our mind, in our intellect. However, if we develop our being, but we don’t know how to pay our bills, take care of our rent, study certain skills for our profession, to live in this physical world, one can develop a case as serious as that of the stupid saint.
There’s a Russian initiate by the name of Fyodor Dostoyevsky who wrote many famous novels which people don’t suspect being esoteric. He wrote a book called The Idiot, which talks about precisely this kind of case, the stupid saint, someone who has a lot of being (wujud) and a lot of virtue but doesn't have the skills necessary to navigate the Russian nineteenth century social world in which he lives. He gets in trouble. I recommend, if you’re interested, to look into that. We’re not going to go so much in depth into that book right now, however.
When we begin to self-observe ourselves, to observe our internal states, naturally we are confused; we struggle. It’s not easy to constantly observe ourselves and remember how our mind, how our heart function. It’s like riding a bike. In the internal planes, in the superior worlds, if you ask a master, (such as in the dream state if you awaken in that realm) to show you “Am I remembering myself well?” they may come to you riding a bicycle. They’re symbolically showing you that you're learning to ride your bike. If you see them falling off then it means you still need to learn how to maintain what we denominate psychological equilibrium.
What is psychological equilibrium? It means to have consistency in one's mindfulness, awareness, throughout every day, having consistency in not identifying with thoughts, feelings, or impulses from the ego, from our nafs.
The way that we develop access to that state is by precisely learning in this physical plane self-observation, remembering divinity here and now. In this graphic, we teach this diagram often and its something that we need to analyze. Its the cross. We talk about the cross in these teachings as the representation of the work in a matrimony and we have that teaching available in The Perfect Matrimony and The Mystery of the Golden Blossom by Samael Aun Weor.
In this diagram we have two lines: the horizontal path of life and the vertical path of the being. So knowledge precisely pertains to life; we need certain skills and knowledge to be able to subsist in this jungle of concrete and iron. We need to study, go to college, or go to school to learn certain skills so that we know how to live in this world. It’s essential. Many people, most of humanity, simply develop on the horizontal line. They think that they are going to perfect themselves by going to a university, by getting a masters degree, by studying extensively and developing a profound profession, but they ignore that in this instant, here and now (waqt), we have the vertical path of the being (wujud), which is perception of God. Life and being intersects in this instant.
It is here and now in which we have our Being. It is not in future; it is not in the past. This is something that seems very simple and even like kindergarten, but the truth is, this is something very profound that we typically ignore. To be ignorant does not mean to lack intellectual knowledge, but to lack gnosis or cognizance of our psychology as it is. This is essential to grasp whether for beginning students and for advanced students. We always have to remember where we are. What is going on in our mind? What is going on in our heart? What is going on in our body? These things teach us precisely what is our level of knowledge of ourselves, what is our self-knowledge of God, what is our level of Being.
On the left of the line of life, we have our birth; to the right, through the progression of time, we have family, school, marriage, friends, old age, and death. None of that has anything to do with God because God is here on the vertical path. God does not look to the future or does not concern Himself so much with things that have not yet happened. Although there are such things such as prophecy: to foretell future events, what God is most concerned with is how we connect with Him in this moment.
Who are we in this instant? We need to observe ourselves, not by projecting thoughts into the future or thinking about the past. We have to be aware of who we are here and now. This is the work of self-observation, observing ourselves. Remembering (muhadarah) the presence (hudur) of our Inner Being is precisely the path of striving, the path of war, jihad, against our mind.
So fighting desire is really what jihad is about. However, in the times of the Prophet, life was very different, where the Companions and followers of Islam were in danger. The spreading of esotericism in the middle east was in peril, so they needed to defend themselves from attackers, physically speaking. In these times, especially in the West, we do not need to defend ourselves against oppressors in a life or death situation. Therefore we don't condone the bloodshed waged supposedly in the name of "holy wars." It’s unacceptable, since the real path of jihad is striving against ones desires.
Fighting against our own anger and defects is how we benefit ourselves and humanity. We don't teach violence against others. The lesser holy war is really the expression of teaching the truth by defending against wrongdoing, not killing other individuals in the name of Islam or Christianity or any other holy war. To wage war against others is to teach by being a good example, being a good citizen, a good person. This is the lesser holy war for us, but the greater holy war is precisely the striving that we make moment to moment, here and now, to remember Allah.
As Al-Wasati states in what is probably the greatest Sufi treatise, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism:
"The best act of worship is watchfulness of the moments. That is, the Sufi does not look beyond his limits, nor contemplate anything other than his Lord and not associate anything other than the present moment."
It means that whatever were doing: don’t fantasize, don’t analyze, don’t daydream, don't think other thing than what you're doing. If you're driving a car, drive. If your receiving a lecture, listen. Don’t think. Just observe and listen. When you're cooking food, just cook—don’t think about other things. If we really look at ourselves, we see that this is what we do all day. We drive our car and think about our family. We’re listening to the radio doing all these things at once and not doing anything with attention.
The way that we develop attention is by not thinking about other things. Attention is developed by doing what we're doing, here and now, without concern for the future or the past. Just being mindful of our state here and now. This is what it means not to contemplate anything other than our Lord. The way to remember the presence of the Being is to remember ourselves and cultivate this sense of humility and love to our Inner Divinity.
Self-Remembering and Serene Reflection
So many people ask us, “What is self remembering?” We talk about self-observing, to observe ourselves. but many people don't understand what self-remembering is. We talk about the need of understanding ourselves, analyzing our thoughts, our emotions, our instincts in our body, without deliberating with the intellect. But to remember God is to feel the presence of our Inner Divinity within us. To feel that we are children of our Inner Being, that our Being is with us here and now, to be aware (muhadarah) of the Presence (hudur). No one can teach us that. That is something we have to develop on our own. The way that we develop this remembrance is through working throughout the day, analyzing our internal states without the intellect, observing ourselves and by learning to meditate. We should remember that if we have a lot of ease and prosperity in our life, we should use it to develop the practice of meditation to develop our spirit (ruh) within us.
The Sufi Master Dhu'l-Nun al-Misri stated the following:
"The key to the success in worship lies in meditative reflection (fikrat) whoever persists in such reflection in the heart will behold an invisible realm in the spirit."
So many people want to have out of body experiences, astral travels, jinn experiences. Any individual who wants to experience the truth of life, the higher dimensions, to speak with a master, to be awake in the dream state, in the internal realms, must learn how to meditate and develop meditative reflection.
Now it’s stated in Buddhist terms that we need to develop stability of mind and special insight: Shamata and Vipassana. Shamata, stability of mind, is a state of being which is concentrated, in which we do not get easily distracted by our thoughts, emotions or impulse. There are levels of concentration that we can access by paying attention, moment by moment, throughout the day.
When we develop that concentration and attention we are able to perceive things in a new way. We That’s where Vipassana comes in—special insight, perception of the truth. When the mind is serene and stable, we can receive new insight, such as internal images in meditation or dream experiences. This is what meditative reflection (fikrat) means.
The Sufis synthesized the Buddhist teachings of stability of mind and perception of the truth thorough fikrat. If the waters of your mind are unstable, if they are constantly chaotic, you cannot reflect any image on the surface. But if the lake of the mind is peaceful and calm, then the stars of Urania, the Divine Mother, can reflect within you. That’s what meditative reflection means.
The way that we get there is this:
"Whoever contemplates God by keeping watch over the thoughts that pass through the heart will be exalted by God and all of His outward deeds." ―Dhu'l-Nun al-Misri, Attar Tadhkirat 154-155
If we practice inner-accounting (muhasabah of our psychological inventory: our defects or virtues, taking account of our habits, our customs, things we do constantly, and then analyze this in conjunction with the remembrance of the presence of God, we will become exalted by God in our actions. When we are connected with God then he can bless us, but if we are distracted in our mind, if we choose not to follow the impetus of our Being, then we in turn suffer.
Question: You speak a lot about self-observation. What does it mean to meditate?
Instructor: Meditation is vigilant introspection (muraqabah), when you analyze what happened in the day; we call that retrospection practice. In the moment we simply observe, but when we meditate later we go back through our memory what happened in our day. We have to observe the facts.
Internal Silence and Spiritual Insight
Being forthcoming and honest with ourselves involves a variety of factors. In one sense we need to have stability of concentration in which the mind is settled and serene, so we can observe clearly. If we find that we are not able to perceive clearly what's going on in our psyche, we need to develop the faculty of self-observation deeper, to not identify with the chaos of the intellect, the disturbances of the heart, or the impulses of our body and instincts. We call the faculty of perception or reflection, in these studies, by the term imagination. This is the ability to perceive images, especially of a psychic nature. We’re going to explain this further. The way that we develop our insight, imagination, perception is precisely by developing our serenity of mind, silence of mind.
We have in this image a Sufi initiate praying and meditating.
"It is said silence for the common people is with their tongues, silence for the gnostics is with their hearts, and silence for lovers is with restraining the stray thoughts that come to their innermost beings." ―Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri
So in the beginning we learn not to speak unnecessarily, not to engage in conversations which are just fruitless gossip. We need to learn to restrain our tongue from engaging in speech that is frivolous and frivolous speech, as a defect or vice in our mind, is one of the ten sins of Buddhism. To speak without thinking about what were saying and what were doing greatly disturbs our mind and prevents us from seeing with our Essence, with clarity, with serenity of mind. Swami Sivananda stated that many disciples suffer the disease of the diarrhea of the tongue in which they constantly speak without understanding what they're saying or what they're doing. They just speak because they want to talk. Khalil Gibran, the Sufi Christian Mystic, author of The Prophet gave a very beautiful teaching on that.
And then a scholar said, "Speak of Talking."
And he answered, saying:
You talk when you cease to be at peace with your thoughts;
And when you can no longer dwell in the solitude of your heart (samt) you live in your lips, and sound is a diversion and a pastime.
And in much of your talking, thinking (true thought, Khatir al-Haqq) is half murdered.
For thought (Khatir al-Haqq, true consciousness) is a bird of space (the Divine Mother Space or Absolute Nature, Allah), that in a cage of words many indeed unfold its wings but cannot fly.
There are those among you who seek the talkative through fear of being alone.
The silence of aloneness reveals to their (inner) eyes their naked selves (nafs, defects, errors) and they would escape.
And there are those who talk, and without knowledge or forethought reveal a truth which they themselves do not understand.
And there are those who have the truth within them, but they tell it not in words (for the Master speaks in silence of the heart).
In the bosom of such as these the spirit dwells in rhythmic silence (serene reflection, fikrat).
When you meet your friend on the roadside or in the market place, let the spirit in you move your lips and direct your tongue.
Let the voice within your voice speak to the ear of his ear;
For his soul will keep the truth of your heart as the taste of the wine is remembered
When the colour is forgotten and the vessel is no more. ―Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet: On Talking
For as Prophet Muhammad taught about the Being in the Hadith Qudsi:
...so with Me he hears and with Me he sees.
The silence of the gnostics with their hearts indicates a person who is developing serenity of heart, who is not even engaged in negative emotions of the heart. Most of us are not at that degree, but we can experience states here and now if we're working in self-observation from moment to moment.
Silence for the lovers is by restraining the thoughts that come to our mind, our innermost being. Someone who really loves God will not even allow a single thought to enter the mind and let it control them, but that takes tremendous skill. This is the level of a Master, a prophet. The way that we get there is by cultivating serenity and reflection: self-observation.
Self-observation is taught in many different ways within Islam. In this next image we have a Muslim in a minaret making a call to prayer (adhan). Muslims are known to pray five times a day, which can be a profound discipline if it is done correctly. If we really know how to pray five times a day, consciously, with remembrance, then we can receive tremendous benefit. However, Muslims now a days just pray mechanically: “God please give a good car, family, spouse” and they think that’s it. They do it in a mechanical manner, but to be conscious in one's heart while praying to God is something very distinct. The initiates of the Middle East were instructed by Muhammad to pray constantly, to develop the heart.
Basically in terms of self observation, praying five times a day, was means of cultivating self-remembrance, and we know that Muslims pray in the morning, the afternoon, mid-afternoon, early evening, and evening. Five represents the pentagram, the human being made into the image of God. Praying in this manner was in order to cultivate self-remembrance. It wasn’t just to go to a Mosque and pray mechanically without knowledge of what one is saying.
Shakespeare stated through his murderous character Claudius, who tried to repent after killing his brother, the former King of Denmark:
My words fly up to heaven, my thoughts remain below.
Words without thoughts never to heaven go. (Hamlet, 3.3.100-103)
If you're not concentrated in your prayers, you can say as many words as you want: they will not be answered by God. But if you're humble, sincere, and concentrated, that is how you connect with your Being.
The Shahadah: Declaration of Faith and Contemplation in Meditation
Vigilance, to be awake as a consciousness through remembrance of God, is the best form of prayer, as stated in Al-Risalah, one of the most important treatises of Sufism. The following is one of the most important quotes, in my opinion, of this text:
"Al-Juyayri said that, “Whosoever does not establish awe of duty (consistency of spiritual practice and discipline) and vigilance (muraqabah) in his relations to God will not arrive at the disclosure of unseen (mukashafah) or contemplation of the divine (mushahidah)."
What does it mean to establish “awe of duty?" It is to really respect the fact that we need to self-observe constantly, to feel the awe of God in every moment. We can't forget our Being in any instant. We have to remember our Being in this moment, always. To have awe of duty is to really comprehend the necessity of daily spiritual discipline, to not neglect one's practices of meditation. Also, if we don’t know how to control our mind in critical moments, we can end up in great suffering. We can get into a conversation with a friend but end in tremendous conflict, or a fight with our co-workers or spouse. We need to establish awe of duty, to really respect the fact and understand that if we don't observe ourselves, we could fall off the cliff into the abyss of suffering. Even physically, people who don't pay attention driving their car can get killed.
This is even more so in a spiritual sense, a reality that we profoundly ignore. If we don't remember our God but identify with our mind, then we create problems. Samael Aun Weor explained that the one who identifies with the mind falls into the abyss, into the infradimensions, submerged states of conditioned consciousness known as hell in different religions.
Now we to always be aware of that Presence (hudur) so as to arrive at disclosure (mukashafah), meaning the entrance into spiritual experience, to open the doors of our imagination (reflection). This can occur through internal imagery in meditation or a profound insight in the moment of a specific defect, ego, or naf. Disclosure can also be termed "unveiling," since if you remember our reference to the hijab or burka, we are beginning to remove the veils of our illusory perception in order to enter into genuine spiritual insight (firasa), conscious imagination.
Contemplation of the divine (mushahdah) is the ultimate step. The word contemplation relates to the shahadah, the Muslim declaration of faith, which is one of the five pillars of Islam, which textually states the following:
lā ʾilāha ʾillā-llāh, muḥammadun rasūlu-llāh
There is no god but God, Muhammad is the messenger of God.
Millions of Muslims recite this, yet the question is whether they have really experienced Allah in meditation. The sad reality is that most Muslims don't contemplate God in practice. They just say this confession mechanically and believe they are true Muslims, initiates, Masters. A real Muslim, like Prophet Muhammad or Jesus submitted to the Being through conquering animal desires.
Yet do many Muslims today really submit to God? How can we submit to God when our mind stream is polluted with anger, lust, greed and violence? Look at the middle east today. The Muslim community does not uphold submission to God.
Those of us who are studying these things have to comprehend that in order to really give testimony of Allah, we need to meditate. In order to say the shahadah, we need to practice mushahadah, contemplation or meditation. It is only in meditation that we can bear witness of God, to perceive the Being in all His majesty and glory. If we don't know God for ourselves, if we lack spiritual experience of our inner divinity, then we can’t say that God is God and Muhammad is the Messenger of God.
In Kabbalah, Allah is known as Ain Soph, our supra-atomic star within the depths of the Absolute Abstract Space. Our real synthesis or Being is an atom from the cosmic space, a pure eternal light mentioned in Surat Al-Nur:
"Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The parable of His Light is a niche wherein is a lamp —the lamp is in a glass, the glass as it were a glittering star— lit from a blessed olive tree, neither eastern nor western, whose oil almost lights up, though fire should not touch it. Light upon light. Allah guides to His Light whomever He wishes. Allah draws parables for mankind, and Allah has knowledge of all things." ―Qur'an 24:35
God, Ain Soph (the Limitless Joy) is light, beyond good and evil, that has always existed and always will exist. God is infinite happiness, pure being (wujud), and yet most of these stars lack cognizance of their own happiness. This is why the Ain Soph emanates Its light into the world, so as to be known.
"Allah (Ain Soph) said, 'I was a hidden treasure, and I was wished to be known, so I created creation (mankind), and made myself known to them, and they recognized me.'” ―Hadith
Therefore, a true Muslim is a consciousness that submits to the will of the Ain Soph and has witnessed the Ain Soph within. God can only comprehend Himself through His soul, if that soul cooperates, so that the soul unites with its supra-atomic star. The soul is a mirror, as explained by Ibn al-Arabi, the great Sufi master, that can reflect divinity, so that divinity (Ain Soph) can know Itself. This is mushahadah (witnessing, contemplation). Only a person who has experienced and united with the Ain Soph can be called someone who has truly witnessed God.
The Four States of Consciousness
We have here in the next graphic an explanation of the different states of consciousness. We’re speaking in synthesis about being objectively perceptive or being hypnotized and identified with our mind. In this teaching we talk about four states of consciousness. Self-remembrance and self-observation relates with the third state of consciousness known as Dianoia.
We use Greek terms to refer to these states of our perception. Eikasia is the first state of consciousness and it pertains to a profound state of psychological sleep. It pertains to being identified with our mind, with anger, with pride, with vanity, with ego, with our defects—having no inclination towards or awareness of God at all.
What’s interesting about the Greek word Eikasia is that it comes from the Greek word eikonon, which means images. Eikasia means imagination. Now we just mentioned that the faculty of self-observation is imagination, but we have to understand that perception is dual. It can be objective, in harmony with God, or it can be subjective, filtered by our own mind, our defects.
Now it's true that we here in this physical body see images, eikonon. On the most basic level, we have a type of imagination as to perceive physically. We have a certain level of perception, but this doesn't mean that we are cognizant, aware, or clear about what we are perceiving. Many times we see things but don't comprehend what we see. This is our fundamental problem. We receive the impressions of life, which enter our mind, and our mind filters impressions and labels them with concepts. For example, we say we know what we are doing in a given day, but if we sit to reflect and remember our internal states within a given moment of our morning, afternoon, or evening, we often will find that there are tremendous gaps in our memory. What did we do? What were we thinking? What did we say to a certain person at a job interview this morning? If we lack cognizance of the details, it means that our consciousness is in a profound state of sleep, even though one can be physically very active. The state of Eikasia is complete unconsciousness. We may see imagery and impressions, but if we do not comprehend what these impressions are in the external world in relation to our inner world, then we lack genuine awareness of ourselves.
The next state of consciousness we call Pistis, which means belief. It translates also as faith, but we state that the latter is an erroneous translation. Beliefs are of the mind, whereas faith is direct cognizance of the truth, to really know something directly. So many people who talk about faith don’t understand that what they really have are a lot of beliefs, ideas or concepts in the mind or heart that do not coincide with reality. They have never verified what those scriptures taught. They never traveled out of the body, experienced a supra-conscious state of samadhi in meditation, or had a mystical or ecstatic experience whereby they witnessed or contemplated God (mushahadah).
Pistis comes from pistieo: "to trust, to have confidence, faithfulness, to be reliable to be sure." Pistis is the second state of consciousness and pertains to beliefs, concepts, or ideas in the intellect. It is anything we have read that we have not verified through experience. Therefore, all of the thousands of philosophical schools, all the people who follow a religion or teaching but have never verified from experience the teachings of that given school or religion possess the second state of consciousness: Pistis.
Humanity constantly fluctuates between Eikasia and Pistis. Eikasia is barbarism, war, bloodshed, violence, anger, sarcasm, and all the degeneration of subconsciousness, infraconsciousness, and unconsciousness within humanity. Pistis refers to all the beliefs and schools that pertain to the different concepts that people have about God, religion, and ourselves.
What concerns us most is the transcendent, third state of consciousness known as Dianoia. Dianoia, we say is the revision of belief. It also directly means "imagination." So notice that we have Eikasia, which means imagination, but then we also have Dianoia that means the same thing. There’s a dual way of perceiving life; we can perceive it with our mind, our ego, our nafs, or we can perceive it objectively with our Being (wujud). Dianoia also means "thought, mind, perception." The word "dia" means "thoroughly from side to side, which intensifies noia, meaning mind or nous." So Dianoia means to change your mind, to revise your mind in its common and current state.
Dianoia is revision of beliefs, cultural spiritual and intellectual synthesis, profound study of scripture with direct experience of what the scriptures entail. It refers to profound meditative analysis, cognizance of the truth, and direct perception of one’s internal states. Notice we've been talking about awareness (muhadarah), self-observation or inner accounting (muhasabah) and vigilant introspection (muraqaba). All of this is perception unfiltered by ego, nafs, defects, and constitutes the revision of our ordinary mind or psyche.
All of us, without exception, possess Pistis: we have certain concepts about who we are, and when we begin to self-observe ourselves we find that we are not who we thought we were. We change our concepts about ourselves; we change our beliefs. We revise them and we develop a new type of concept and understanding, which is awakened perception, Dianioa, cognizance of the truth. However, Dianioa is not the end. We have Nous, which means "mind, intellect, intelligence." Now these Greek terms were used by Plato and you can study The Republic, specifically "The Allegory of the Cave,” which explains in synthesis these four states of consciousness. We have explained in different lectures the meaning of this, but Nous pertains to consciousness that is united with Christ, with Allah, our Inner Divinity. It means that we've escaped the bottle of the mind in mediation and as a consciousness we’ve united with our Being, so as to bear witness of Him (mushahadah).
In this type of perception there is no possibility for delusion, because one has the consciousness of divinity through divinity, for as the Sufis teach: "I know my Lord by my Lord." God then contemplates Himself through the mirror of the soul. There is no misperception within our internal psyche. Nous pertains to having fully united with our Being. This is known as samadhi in the east or ecstasy or exstatuo in Latin. Ecstasy means to stand outside one’s self. Ex means to be outside; stabit or statuo means to stand. It means that we escape the subjective imprisonment of our mind in order to subsist as God, or to unite with God. Of course this is very elevated. To fully develop this is to walk the path completely, but in meditation we can activate those states in a temporary fashion if we are persistent.
In this next graphic, we show the image of the Tree of Life, the Hebraic Kabbalah, which is the mystical science of Judaism. As a graphic, we use it to demonstrate the different states of consciousness, matter, energy, and being. The highest levels are the most elevated states of consciousness, while the lower levels are the most dense. We use this diagram to study any religion: whether Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, or Christianity, because it teaches us the structure of the human being, the soul, as well as the Universe.
There is a saying by the Sufi initiate Abu Sa'id in Ibn Manuwwar: Asrar At-tawid:
Wherever the delusion of your selfhood appears there’s hell. Wherever you aren’t, that’s heaven.
This is very clear. If we are here, if we are identified with our mind, we can not experience the Tree of Life, the complete expression and majesty, the unity of God, because heaven is the Tree of Life, this diagram. If we do not remember God, we cannot escape or stand outside ourselves, our egotistical mentality. Now wherever the ego isn’t, that's heaven: meaning we’re revising our mind through Dianoia, standing outside of ourselves, analyzing who we are and escaping form the limitations of our mind. This is how we can in turn can unite with our Internal Divinity. So that’s heaven. Heaven is where we aren’t. If we say we know ourselves, but we don't know God, it means that we don't really know ourselves, that we ignore a lot. In order to be able to ascend the Tree of Life, we need to know this science of meditation and what we call the “three factors of the revolution of the consciousness."
Here we have an image of Muhammad riding a mystical creature. This is known as the al-Miraj, the ascension of the Prophet Muhammad up the seven heavens. In Islam, they talk about the seven heavens or seven dimensions, synthesized by the Tree of Life, which can also be organized or described as nine heavens in Kabbalah. So they may seem different, but they're really expressing the same thing.
In the Muslim myth (and I use the term myth not in the sense of a made up story, but as an allegorical and scientific teaching), we see that Muhammad was meditating on the mosque of Mecca. Some traditions even state that his head was on the stone of Mecca, like in Jacob's ladder. Now the Ka'aba is the cubic stone of the Freemasons and the Ka'aba is a black stone pertaining to the vital energies of our bodies. It’s where the serpent, the Divine Mother Kundalini sleeps, for as Pre-Muslim Arabian mythology taught, a serpant was said to be guarding a treasure inside the Ka'aba, reminding us that the treasure is Allah that we must conquer through the serpent. We call this serpent the sexual energy, and so this stone that the Master was sleeping by is where he had a profound experience.
He was taken by al-Buraq, which in Arabic translates as "lightning." This creature is said to be the size of a mule with the face of a women, the tale of a peacock, and wings like Pegasus. Al-Buraq, "the lightning," refers to the creative power of the Divine Mother Kundalini, because lightening in Nordic is the Rune Sig and the sacred mantra of the Divine Mother, in the Nordic tradition, is “Sulu Sigi Sig." She is that power of lightning in our body, the serpent sleeping in our stone or sexual energy, which can awaken if we know how to harness and work with Her through alchemy (Allah-Khemia, to fuse oneself with God in sexual magic) and meditation (mushahadah). We can ascend up the seven heavens like Muhammad.
He was taken on this creature from the mosque of Mecca (Masjid al-Haram) to the temple of Jerusalem (Masjid-al-Aqsa) and it was there in which he ascended up the seven heavens and received many sacred teachings pertinent to Islam, but also to Gnosticism. This energy, this creative power of God, is portrayed here; we can see he’s surrounded by flames, the fire of the Divine Mother, the sexual creative power of God. And that has illuminated his psyche. So in conjunction with meditation and self-observation, we cultivate a serene state and work with the energies of our body.
Now in order to ascend up these heavens we have to be completely absent from our common egotistical sense of self. We're saying this in a very Zen way. It doesn't mean that we forget ourselves and do not pay attention. It means that we abandon our common and current psychology by learning to pay attention, to observe the mind. Do not identify with any impressions outside you or inside your mind, in your heart.
"In general it is to the measure of one’s alienation from one’s own ego that one attains direct knowledge of one’s own Lord." ―Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
Knowledge again in Greek is Gnosis, and in Arabic is Marifah. The Kabbalists call this Da’ath. I didn’t mention this in the beginning, but these are just different words for the same teachings.
"I heard Abu Ali al-Daqqaq say, 'One of the tokens of the Gnosis of God is the achievement of deep awe and reverence for God. If someone’s realization increases, his awe increases.'" ―Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
So the more that we remember God, the more respect, terror and love we have for the Being, for that overwhelming, overpowering force, if we know how to obey the will of our God.
"And I heard him say, 'Gnosis requires stillness of heart just as learning requires outward quiet. If someone’s gnosis increases, his tranquility increases.'" ―Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
The deeper we understand our Being, the deeper we go into our meditation, the more gnosis we develop in ourselves, the more peace we have, the more serenity we have in our consciousness and in our Being.
This path is the path of peace. So we talked about jihad, striving. The way that we attain to peace is by fighting against our desires and practicing mushahadah, which is contemplation in meditation. There's a saying by Ibn Karbala'i in his Rawdat al-janan:
"When the seeker realizes the station of contemplation (mushahadah), which is witnessing God’s essence comprehending and encompassing all phenomenon…"
This means we are understanding that God is within everything, all impressions, internal and external within this moment, and we’re actually perceiving this fact. We’re not projecting with our mind; we're not distracted by other things, but aware of how God is present with us.
"Does not your Lord suffice, since He is witness over all things" (Surah 41:53)―he continually witnesses lights through the mundis invisibilis, the invisible world." ―Ibn Karbala'i
What are these lights? In meditation it can be imagery; it can be symbols. It can be spiritual experiences. More directly we could say it pertains to insight about our psyche and our intelligence, who we are in this instant. To continuously witness lights is to perceive insight from your Being, which you can only perceive in this moment by learning to pay attention.
"From such a mystic perspective, this world and the hereafter are one and the same. This can only be realized by a vision that is all heart and spirit, not of view bound by mere mud and mire." ―Ibn Karbala'i
So again we’re talking about two types of vision—Dianoia and Nous, which is objective imagination and perception of the truth, cognizance of God. This is in contrast with the subjective nature of Eikasia and Pistis, meaning of the mud and mire of our mind, the filtrations to our perception via our ego. So again, we emphasize that the testimony of faith amongst the Muslims, the shahadah, is only validated through contemplation of divinity (mushahadah). So in order to really give testimony of God, we have to have that experience in our own psyche, in our own consciousness.
We have here the image of the Tree of Life and the human being. So the human being is the Tree of Life. In the previous slide, we have this statement: “From this mystic perspective this world and the hereafter are one in the same." This means that this Tree of Life is not just some abstract concept to argue or debate about. It’s something entirely practical and directly relatable to us here and now. This world is our physical body, which is the image on the right and the hereafter is the Tree of Life. So they are really one in the same.
The Tree of Life is the map of the human psyche, the different levels of the consciousness and Being, or our humanity and our divinity in other words. On the right we have the image of the human being with what we call the five centers of our psychology. On the right we see this image of five centers of five cylinders of the human machine. We say that the body is a machine that transforms matter and energy. Likewise, our psyche is a machine that is typically not controlled and governed by God, simply because we don't remember our Being; we have the make an effort with what free will we have in order to work with God. Usually what controls these different centers in our organism are our defects. The five centers are where our nafs, desires, egos manifest.
In the head we have the intellectual center. We can call it the intellectual brain. A brain we say in Gnosticism pertains to a center of action in which energy and matter can be processed either physically, such as through bio-chemistry, or psychologically through mental energies. We have the emotional center or emotional brain related to the processes of emotion like, dislike; pleasure, pain; love hate; etc. At the top of the spine we have the motor center which is how we process movement. If we're really paying attention, we can see that a lot of our impetus to move comes from the top of the spine. This explains why individuals who are injured in the spine are paralyzed because the motor center cannot function.
There’s a vertebrae that connects the bottom of the medulla oblongata with the rest of the spine near the nape of the neck. It’s a critical juncture, a critical spot. It’s where we have our motor center. It’s a very sensitive spot. We also have our center of instinct which is at the base of the spine, the sacral bone or sacral center. Individuals who are engaged in activities such as boxing overuse this center, where they constantly react. The instinctive center relates with animal reactions, such as when we burn our hand on a stove and immediately retract our hand before we even think of how it hurts or being emotionally upset, because the instinctive center operates faster than the intellect or the heart.
We also have the sexual center related with our sexual organs, which is the fastest operating component of our psyche. Sexual energy is the basis of all physical life as well as all spiritual life, as we explained in other lectures and about the power of divinity, al-Buraq, the lightening of Christ, the Divine Mother Kundalini. This sacred fire is precisely in the sexual center, within the base of our spine too. When we know how to work with that force through mantra, through pranayama, through alchemy, we learn to develop that force within us.
So we observe ourselves precisely through these centers. Every defect, every ego, every naf has its own ways of thinking, its own ways of feelings, its own ways of acting. They all have different types of movement. They may be very instinctual egos, maybe spontaneous and abrupt, such as if you put your hand on a stove and you react. There's an ego involved, but also if we learn to become conscious we won’t put our hand in the fire in the first place. The thing is, the ego uses the different centers all at once. Some egos may have a predominance towards the intellect. Some may be more emotional. Some may be more instinctual; some may be sexual. However, every ego uses each of the three brains in any instant. Yet there tends to be a predominance in the different centers.
We could say that typically we react with ego, but if we become conscious, we can learn to respond to situations. Some people ask, "What will happen if I don't have instinct? Won't I be unable to react to a dangerous situation such as burning my hand?" If we comprehend and destroy our instincts, then we will become conscious citizens of the universe, whereby we won't even allow ourselves to get involved in situations where we might burn our hand! Therefore, we don't need instincts: these are subjective and mechanical, having nothing to do with Allah (may He be praised and exalted). So don’t think that by eliminating instinct that one doesn't have the ability to react; we develop the capacity to respond to any situation without any subjective interference from our mind. So different egos, nafs manifest in different centers with greater predominance of one towards a particular center over the other.
At the top of the Tree of Life we have the three spheres known as Kether, Chokmah, and Binah; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. So in Islam, this is Allah, because the Trinity is a single light. Now many Muslims of the orthodox tradition emphasize that there is no Trinity and that Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) never taught the Trinity. He did not teach in accordance with the degeneration of the Christian Church or the degeneration of the Christian scriptures. Many people in that time (and even today) think that the Trinity was actually a physical Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—physical individuals, not spiritual principles.
We have to understand that diversity is unity. God expresses in many ways, yet is one light. There is no contradiction between religions, as demonstrated by Kabbalah. When Muslims reject the Trinity, they do so from the perspective that God is a not three anthropormorphic persons. Instead, the initiates knew that God is One, and that Unity has many levels of expression, represented by the Kabbalistic Tree of a Life. Now Allah is Father, Son, Holy Spirit; Kether, Chokmah, and Binah. These are three forces in one. Beneath the supernal triangle on the lower right, we have Chesed, which is our Spirit (ruh), which is God, our own individual Father. Our Spirit is also apart of Allah, the Christ. You see Allah is also Chesed as well. This is why when Sufis pronounce the mantra "Allahu," they are referring to Father, Son and Holy Spirit, as well as Hu, or Hum, the spirit. So Allah can be seen as Father, Son, Holy Spirit, and the Spirit, Chesed, the Innermost, the Inner Buddha. Divinity is one, but expresses as many.
The Being even has His Being too, which is the Ain Soph above the Tree of Life, our supra-atomic star, as we explained previously, the light of Surat al-Nur. In Gnostic terms we say the Inner Child is our Essence, our Soul. We call it the soul that is in development, a baby that can become a true human being as shown in the Tree of Life. Christ (Chokmah) also is a child when manifesting in the initiate for the first time. That child grows and develops in accordance with initiation (see The Perfect Matrimony by Samael Aun Weor). The Inner Child we say pertaining to Gnostic psychology is the Essence but it also refers to the Christ child.
Chesed is the Spirit, which is in Hebrew, El similar to Allah. The same Semitic roots are there. We represent the complete expression of divinity and our humanity as ten spheres, which seem to be distinct, but when fully developed in the human being, become integrated. Jalaluddin Muhammad Rumi, the great Sufi master and poet, stated:
If ten lamps are present in one place,
each differs in form from another;
yet you can’t distinguish whose radiance is whose
when you focus on the light.
This is the case with the fully illuminated Masters who have developed the light of Christ within, the light of Buddha within, the light of Allah. This is the esoteric meaning of the Christmas tree: a fully illuminated Tree of Life, a perfected Being that knows Itself completely.
Now to the left we have Geburah, which is the consciousness, the Divine Soul. In the middle we have Tiphereth, which is the Human Soul or willpower, and then beneath that we have what we call the “lower quaternary,” which is a representation of Netzach our mind, Hod our emotions, Yesod our sexuality or vital energy, and Malkuth, our physical body.
In comparison to the human being, the intellectual center relates with Netzach, the mind. We say Hod the astral body relates with heart, the emotional center, our emotion brain. We have Yesod relating to our vital body, our vital energies. We also have the sphere that pertains to our physical body, Malkuth.
In synthesis, the Tree of Life explains to us who we are as a human being, as a consciousness, as a psyche. We also study ourselves in terms of our three brains and analyzing our makeup, how we function. The work now comes into play when we observe the intellectual, emotional, motor, instructive and sexual centers all at once. By understanding these centers and how the ego, nafs operate is how we know ourselves. Then in meditation (mushahadah), we beg our Divine Mother and Inner Father to help us comprehend ourselves in depth. It begins by learning to observe ourselves in this moment, in this instant.
The path of self knowledge is one in which we develop God within. We do that precisely by working on our defects through retrospective meditation and how we comprehend our defects all depends on how we pay attention, here and now, in this instant.
Questions and Answers
Question: Is Rudolph Steiner’s “Much wiser man inside” the same reference as the Inner Being of Samael Aun Weor?
Instructor: Yes, Paul of Tarsus in the Gospel refers to the two inner men: the heavenly man and the terrestrial man. The terrestrial man is precisely Tiphereth, willpower; Netzach, the mind; Hod, the astral body; Yesod, vital energy and our physicality. The heavenly man is God above, which is our consciousness our Spirit, (Ruh) and Christ.
Nous is a type of mind that is united with God, the Christ force. Nous has levels according to the Tree of Life. Dianoia can refer to Malkuth up to Tiphereth. It’s a type of consciousness in which we are beginning to awaken. Fully illuminated spiritual perception relates to the five higher Sephiroth or spheres of the Tree of Life, whereby divinity manifests. Nous pertains to the Divine Soul (Geburah the divine consciousness) which is part of God the Spirit to the right (Chesed), and Kether, Chokmah, Binah: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Now, we have to remember that God does not enter into impurity. God is not impure—only the human soul our willpower can either obey God or fall down and obey our ego. Our ego is what is impure, so we as a consciousness or soul are really apart of Tiphereth within different bodies. You could say these are different spheres of being and of consciousness. Now our will can follow our own self-will, our nafs or we can follow the will of God, which is our Innermost, our Divine Soul and the Lord above. Nous pertains to illuminated perception which is either Geburah or states in Chesed, Christ above or even beyond the Tree of Life, which is the Absolute. Ain Soph pertains to Nous as well. For more information about this topic, study Tarot and Kabbalah by Samael Aun Weor.
Question: Samael Aun Weor and Sivananda talks about mantralizing through out the day. Is this not doing something else besides doing what we are supposed to be doing in the moment?
Instructor: Yes, that's a good question. Performing a mantra in your mind while doing activities is to help us concentrate and perform our activities better. Now typically when we work with mantra (the word mantra in Sanskrit means mind protection) it’s a way to control our mind. If it’s being out of control or if we have a certain event in our life that was catastrophic, we can use a certain mantra in order to calm down, concentrate and remember our Being. So we use mantras to help us stay focused. Now a mantra should help, when done consciously, to stay extremely focused. Typically our problem is that when we work with a mantra, we do it mechanically. You’ll find this to be the case if you genuinely observe yourself. Your ego may be saying the mantra incorrectly. For example: the mantra “Klim Krishnaya Govindaya Gopijana Vallabaya Swaha." If your mind is doing it incorrectly, you need to correct your mind and do it properly, consciously. So there are many mantras that we use in this tradition and we don’t want to use them mechanically, on autopilot. If you do it with concentration and remembrance of God, it will help you focus on states in the present. For as the Sufis teach:
"Remembrance is a powerful support on the path to God (Glorious and Majestic). Indeed, it is the very foundation of this Sufi path. No one reaches God save by continual remembrance of Him. There are two kinds of remembrance: that of the tongue and that of the heart. The servant attains perpetual remembrance of the heart by making vocal remembrance. It is remembrance of the heart, however, that yields true effect. When a person makes remembrance with his tongue and his heart simultaneously, he attains perfection in his wayfaring." ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
Question: Does Gnosis teach that we should have one mantra for our entire lives?
Instructor: I like Swami Sivananda's thought about this because when you do a mantra for life, it means that your going to be completely dedicated to the practice. I agree with that and I believe what he is saying is you should stick with a mantra to the point that you are fully emerged and concentrated in it without being distracted by other things. Instead of just doing one mantra one day and another the next day, we should practice for extended periods of time, consistently, with one mantra.
The thing is we have hundreds of mantras in this tradition. We should use the mantra until we receive the benefits, but if you feel that you have another need that is emerging, its good to switch if you need to. Now Sivananda is a Resurrected Master, a fully illuminated Being. He was teaching more in accordance with the Piscean teachings, which is the astrological sign associated with the time of Jesus up to the early 1960’s. Now the Age of Aquarius is very different; we have different needs. This is a different astrological sign that pertains to a different kind of spiritual revolution. I recommend that if you work with a mantra, stick with it to the point where you are getting a lot benefit and a lot of results. But if you feel you have different needs emerge, switch it up if you like. Don't feel like you have to stay with one, but Sivananda is correct that when we do a mantra, we should dedicate everything to it and not get distracted with other things.
Question: In a lot of Samael’s books he mentions that we should vocalize an hour a day. Does this mean we have to use mantras to activate all the chakras?
Instructor: You can. You can work with all of the chakras or you can work with a few. Now different mantras have different benefits and different effects. For example, if you want to develop your clairvoyance you can work with the mantra “INRI," since the vowel “I” (pronounced "Ee") is related to Christ. Its in the book The Perfect Matrimony. "ENRE" (Eh-n-reh) works for the throat. You have the heart chakra with the mantra ONRO. You have the solar plexus chakra relating to UNRU, and for the lungs, ANRA.
You can also work with many chakras or just one, depending on your needs. For example, if you want to work on the heart, we have OM MASI PADME HUM. Remember that Hum or Hu is Arabic it the Spirit of God. The mantras are all throughout the literature of Samael Aun Weor .
The thing is if you vocalize for an hour, you can do it with all the chakras or you can do it with just a few. It depends on your needs. You need to intuitively discern what it is your Being wants you to work on at that time.
Question: Should I get into a meditative state and then vocalize?
Instructor: Yes. I would say relax until you are semi-drowsy. You get to the point where you feel like you're going to fall asleep—so when you feel that you're at that point, work with a mantra and that will stimulate a lot of psychic energy in your body and your mind.
Question: I worked with FA RA ON and my body started shaking and it felt like I had a blockage that was stopping me from astral projecting and I could feel my astral body was above and my body was stuck on my bed. And it felt like there was some kind of blockage.
Instructor: I’ve experienced that many times. Usually its a teaching from your Being to tell you that you’re identified with something. You're identified with your body. Personally I've had myself come out of my body, but my head was stuck to my physical body. In my case divinity was telling me that I’m being too intellectual. So I've had to learn to cultivate my heart so I could get out more in the astral plane, the world of Hod or emotions.
Your experience might not necessarily be a blockage. Divinity could just be teaching you that you have attachments that you need to overcome. The greatest obstacle is your own ego, your own nafs, your own mind, so when you overcome your mind by developing meditative reflection (fikrat), as we mentioned, then you will be able to behold the invisible realm of the spirit, as the Sufi masters taught. So control you're mind throughout the day and then astral projection becomes easy.
A mantra helps you to control your mind. It also activates psychic energy, which helps you to defend yourself or help you have spiritual experience. There are many functions for mantras. Typically we say it helps to control your mind. Many mantras are also for protection, such as Fons Alpha. There's many in this tradition. You can conjure by the name of Iod He Vau He, Jehovah, Christ, or Allah.
Question: Why are there so many different versions of the mantras?
Instructor: In the books Samael Aun Weor explains what the different consonants do within the mantras. the different ways of mantralizing, whether CHIS CHAS CHOS or INRI ENRE ONRO, etc. These are different ways of working with sound, vibration and energy so as to fuel our conscious perception. Now you may have an affinity with one mantra or the other.
I would say study the books and they will explain to you the purposes for what the mantras are for. He gave many varieties because humanity has many needs. One person may work well with OM MASI PADME HUM. Another person may work well with I.A.O. Another person may work well with RAM IO. There are different mantras for different purposes and different needs. However, all mantras help supply energies and forces in our to awaken our awareness (muhadarah) and to become aware of the Presence of divinity (hudur).
Question: How does the Tree of Life correspond to the image of the five centers of the human machine in the last graphic?
Instructor: I’ll give you a very simply explanation, but you can relate the spheres in different ways. So Netzach is the mind. It relates to the intellectual center. We have the emotional body, Hod, relating to the emotional center, and then we have Yesod relating to we could say is our motor-instinctual-sexual centers. The latter we could say is one brain or one center with three different aspects. Malkuth is our body, which condenses how we manifest our mind, our emotions, and sexuality.
If you feel overwhelmed by this knowledge, I would suggest that you study the books and take your time. The thing is when we study we have to balance being and knowledge. Read a little, but meditate a lot. So take a book and study it profoundly. I would recommend, in relation to this lecture onf Self-knowledge, to study Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology. It explains these three centers and the path of self-observation in depth.
Now when you read a book, you should study it line by line or even chapter by chapter, meditating and reflecting upon what you read so that you can go deeper into this. I would say take your time with the books. Don't rush, because if you eat too fast, you can get indigestion. As I said in the beginning, too much knowledge creates intellectual confusion. The way we balance our reading is comprehension through meditation. We can read many books and not have any experiences. But if we read the books in moderation, in balance with our practice, then we will begin to have experiences of the things that we are discussing. We will begin to bear witness of the mysteries of divinity (shahadah). It is the unification of knowledge and being that establishes comprehension. Comprehension is genuine faith, when you really know something from your heart. It ceases to be something abstract or vague. It becomes something really concrete and practical.
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