This is a transcription of an audio lecture from Cultivating Virtue, Conquering Vice, originally given live at the Gnostic Academy of Chicago:
The word religion comes from the root religare, which means “to reunite, to bind together.” And real religion is about our own personal journey to reunite with our inner divinity.
The point of this course is to help us to work with our heart when we approach spirituality. So many times, we study a lot of texts and we get caught in the mind and we spent a lot of time accumulating knowledge, but then in our practical life, we are suffering a lot. We are confused. We are having struggles in our relationships or not sure which way we are supposed to go, what direction to take.
When we have a connection in our heart to our inner divinity, we can activate a power of conscience, which can guide us. A lot of students, especially in the West, struggle with that, because here, especially in American culture, we are taught that knowledge is approached with the mind. All of us have been in school where we have been forced to memorize a lot of different facts and figures and learn different strategies and formulas, and all of that is in the mind.
How often is it that something we have learned really touches us in our heart and really changes the core of who we are?
When we talk about cultivating virtue or conquering vice, these are tasks in our spiritual development that we approach with our heart, not just with the mind. In this tradition, we teach that there are three important factors that we use on a daily basis to approach spiritual awakening:
The first is death. We say death of the ego. Ego in this sense is one's own self-importance. One's selfish desires that get in the way of our ability to see the truth. So a lot of students in this tradition know the importance of killing one's ego, letting oneself die so that we can be born into who we would like to be, because unless we let go of who we are, we can never become something better, something new.
Of course the second factor that we talk about is birth, the birth of the soul. Now, this has levels of meaning on the surface, of course. The birth is what comes after death. When we let go of our ego, what happens next? We don't just become a void. We actually embody virtues. Our soul begins to grow, to breathe, to shine through us, because now it has the space and the energy in our life to be able to develop itself―to not be suffocated by pain and suffering.
On a deeper level, which we will discuss a little later in this lecture, birth has to do with sexual regeneration, harnessing one's own creative potential in order to activate their spiritual life. Our creative force is the power of divinity within us, just as divinity has the power to create worlds, you know, all of nature around us. We have the power to create life in our sexual potential, and when we learn to harness that in a divine way, we will be able to awaken our soul―to give birth to the soul within.
The third factor is sacrifice for others. Until we do something good for other people, we don't deserve to have anything given back to us. So on this path, we are constantly trying to develop virtues that have the benefit of others in mind. Of course, a common law that people talk about is karma. If you don't have the merits to receive spiritual blessings, then there is nothing that can be given to you to overcome that. If all you do is you go out and hurt people, you are cultivating an energy around yourself that is attracting negative experiences to you.
So all of us, we come into spiritual teachings in order approach to truth. We are on the path to truth, right? And we need to cultivate the energy around us that will propel us towards truth and not the energy around us that will propel us into more confusion, more falsehood, and more suffering. In order to do that, we have to sacrifice for others and do the right thing, take ethical action. And yes, you know all world religions teach us a path of ethics: a basic code that we could follow. That is a great starting point, but at the end of the day, we have to truly listen to our heart to be able to know what is the right step to move forward.
What is the right thing to do? There are a lot of situations in life that are so particular that we can't just go to the Bible, or go to the Bhagavad-Gita, or go to any scripture and find our exact situation written out there and exactly what we should do. And we feel a lot of pain in those situations, moral pain, because we are not sure what is the right thing to do.
Maybe no matter what action we take, somebody gets hurt. Or whatever action we take, we feel like we are not going to be happy with that. Many times, we turn to friends or teachers or different people that we respect and rely upon to find those answers, but our goal in the Gnostic movement is that each person can cultivate within themselves the substance of sincerity: such profound honesty and wisdom within themselves that the confusion passes and that, when they go and they sit down and they enter deep into meditation, to connect with their inner divinity, they know exactly what is the right action to take. Even if it is a difficult action, they feel in their conscience that they know what to do, and that confusion, which is a form of tremendous suffering for us, can lift.
Sincerity is so important that it is taught as a practice in the Buddhist tradition that can liberate one from the wheel of suffering. In Buddhism is a concept of recurring rebirths into different realms of suffering. This is taught as the wheel of samsara [or Bhavachakra: The Wheel of Becoming]. Even if one lives a life and suffers terribly after they die, they will be reborn again into another body and have to suffer again. In Buddhism, the ultimate goal is to escape the realms of suffering, to become enlightened, awakened, and free from being caught in this wheel.
In a Buddhist scripture called The Questions of the Naga Kings of the Ocean (Sagara-naga-raja-pariprccha), we can find the following passage:
Lord of Nagas, a single practice of the Bodhisattvas correctly stops rebirth in the lower realms. What is this single practice? It is the discernment of what is virtuous. You must think, "Am I being true? How am I spending the day and the night?" ―The Questions of the Naga Kings of the Ocean
A bodhisattva is a person just like us who is on the path to truth―who is seeking to become awakened and enlightened―to not just know the truth and the intellect, but to feel the truth in one's heart, to be one with truth. So, it is a very important question to ask ourselves, “Am I being true?” If we are being true, if we have profound honesty with ourselves, then we have the discernment of what is virtuous. We can know, even in a difficult situation, even in a morally gray situation, what is the virtuous action to take. Then we have the freedom to choose if we want to take that action or not.
That is to be truly free, to be free from the confusion which causes us suffering. In a state of confusion, we continue to take actions that lead us into deeper and deeper suffering, more and more problems. But in a state of awakening, a state of profound wisdom, we know which actions will take us out of suffering, and also help others to come out of suffering as well.
At the end of the night when one reviews one's day, when one thinks about one’s situation in life, we should ask, “Am I being true? How am I spending the day and the night?” If we say that we want to be spiritual people, we want to be a good person, but all throughout the day we observe in our actions that we are really just looking out for “me, myself, and I,” and we are not trying to be the light that we want to see in the world―that is our starting point. And for most of us, that is where we are at. We begin in a state of realizing that a lot of the times we do things that we regret or that we are not proud of, because we are put in a situation where we are not sure what else we can do.
So to be able to be honest with ourselves, that single practice can take us all the way to enlightenment, according to this Buddhist scripture. That single practice of every single day, being continuously honest with ourselves, can help us to find our way out of suffering. But there are two big obstacles in the beginning for people who are really trying to apply the Gnostic methods of birth, death, and sacrifice.
The first is a fear of truly seeing ourselves for what we are.
Observing Our Many Contradictions
An esoteric philosopher was giving these teachings in Russia and his name was Gurdjieff. This was in the early 1900s, and he taught that if a man was to truly see himself for what he is in a given moment, without all the buffers that prevent him from really looking at himself, he would go insane, because of all the contradictions that we carry within. And maybe we realize that in one moment we say we want to do something, and not so long later, another contradicting desire comes out. So how do we know which one is really me? How do we know what is the part of me that I should really follow?
Gurdjieff gives this teaching about being able to observe oneself and also being able to observe reality. He says:
“Many things are necessary for observing. The first is sincerity with oneself. And this is very difficult. It is much easier to be sincere with a friend. Man is afraid to see something bad, and if, by accident, looking deep down, he sees his own bad, he sees his nothingness. We have the habit of driving away thoughts about ourselves because we fear the gnawings of conscience.” ―G.I. Gurdjieff
Many times we are in a situation that is really difficult and we want to focus on the problems with our situation that are blocking us, that are causing us difficulty, that are making us unhappy. We want to focus on the other people that we can blame for our , and it is true that there are many problems with our legal systems, our government, our world, our relationships, and yes, probably everyone has a share in the guilt for the difficulties that we encounter. But at the end of the day, the person that we really have power to change is ourselves, and many times that is the hardest place to look, to place the blame.
It is much easier to say, “Well, I never got anywhere in life because this and this and this,” or “I am unhappy because these people keep doing this to me.” How hard is it to look at ourselves, and see the ways that we are preventing ourselves from having the happiness that we would like, that our own bad actions are producing negative energy in our life, that is affecting everyone around us!
So the first barrier is being able to look at ourselves without fear of what we might see there, and to really rest in the knowledge of who we are.
“Sincerity may be the key which will open the door through which one part can see another part. With sincerity man may look and see something. Sincerity with oneself is very difficult, for a thick crust has grown over essence (which is our soul). Each year a man puts on new clothes, a new mask, again and again. All this should be gradually removed ― one should free oneself, uncover oneself. Until man uncovers himself he cannot see. You must go on trying to be sincere. Each day you put on a mask, and you must take it off little by little.” ―G.I. Gurdjieff
So over the years we have developed a self-concept of who we are and “I am this type of person; I like these types of things; I have this type of temperament; these are my characteristics; these are my interests.” And that is the crust that Gurdjieff is talking about. That is such a thin layer of who we are as a living being, and yet, that is the part that we think is who we really are. Sometimes it takes journeying into a new place to see yourself beyond the idea that you have about yourself. It takes going into a new environment to see how you act when all the comfortable things that you are used to are no longer around you. And that is one way to remove our masks.
The other is through meditation. When we watch ourselves throughout the day and we see things that we do and we are like, “I wonder why I did that?” at the end of the day. We teach that you can use a retrospection meditation. Sit down, calm your body, calm your heart, calm your mind. and observe on the screen of your mind with your imagination, the scenes of your day exactly as you experienced them. And as you observe them, you will begin to, without effort, understand something new.
I once had an experience where I felt very justified in myself that I was doing the right thing in trying to help other people and other people were angry at me. I felt this was really unfair, because obviously I was trying to help them, so I felt that my actions didn't deserve to be repaid with cruelty. And yet when I sat down in meditation and really calmed myself, and then recalled the images of my day, I saw it from their perspective―and it changed me on such a profound level that I had to stop doing the behaviors I was doing, which I was justifying by saying, “Well, I am right!” And instead, I had to realize that I was doing things that were creating suffering for other people.
That is the level of sincerity that we are seeking in our spiritual work. It is not enough for us to just put on a mask and say, “Oh, I am a really nice person!” but then behind the mask we are thinking negative thoughts all the time, having a lot of anger and resentment, a lot of envy―but we are trying our best to be a good friend. We want to really be that genuinely good person―to be so since are in a world which is radically insincere. We want to be the light that can wake people up from a negative state of mind, but it is very hard, and the first step is being able to be sincere. So that is why today we are talking about the barriers to being sincere.
Prayer and the Divine Mother
The first is, many times when we encounter something painful in ourselves, we don't want to look at it. We say, “Okay, well you know, that's enough meditation. I have got to go off and do something else,” and distract ourselves from it. But if we really want to change our state of suffering, we have to look exactly in the place that our heart is telling us is causing our suffering.
One technique that we use in Gnosis is practiced with our Divine Mother, the divine feminine, which is the embodiment of love and virtue. She has a lot of power, a lot of insight. So, many times in prayer, I have gone and have offered myself and my situation to my Divine Mother and said, “I am lost! I don't know what is going on here. I am suffering so much, and I need the clarity to be able to get out of the situation.”
Prayer can be really powerful and have very powerful effects, but we have to approach prayer with sincerity, and remember that our prayer in our spiritual life is not about what other people think about us. It is about our genuine experience, our genuine openness with divinity. In many areas of life, we have to put on a performance, or at least we feel that way. We have to be a certain person. When we go before God in our own heart, whatever that divinity looks like to us, that is where that performance can be put aside, and we can finally be our true selves.
Maybe see a part of our self that we don't let ourselves see when we are out in the world, when we are busy, when other people are watching. And that is the power of honesty with oneself and sincerity. That is why it is so essential that, if we don't have that as our basis, spiritually speaking, we might learn a lot of things, we might learn to act a certain way, but in our heart we are not going to fundamentally change. We are not going to have those results that we really, desperately want.
Revelations and Self-Transformation through Ordeals
The second obstacle to sincerity is not wanting to hear and listen when other people and situations show us who we really are.
In our daily experiences, just as I have described, we have many situations where we blame the situation, we blame other people, and we don't turn our introspection back on ourselves and say, “What is it? What is going on with me in this situation? What have I not ever seen about myself before that this situation can show me?”
People might criticize us. They might really see something about ourselves, but because of our own ego, we want to defend ourselves. We want to say “That person doesn't know anything! Look what they are doing wrong!” and we don't change, because we are not taking a different perspective on situations and on feedback that will actually help us to develop ourselves.
If somebody criticizes you and they are right, they have given you such a great gift because now you have the power to see something that you didn't understand about yourself before, and to change.
Gurdjieff goes on to say:
“People do not understand that sincerity must be learned. They imagine that to be sincere or not to be sincere depends upon their desire or decision. But how can a man be sincere with himself when in actual fact he sincerely does not see what he ought to see in himself? Someone has to show it to him. And his attitude towards the person who shows him must be a right one, that is, such as will help him to see what is shown him and not, as often happens, hinder him if he begins to think that he already knows better.” ―G.I. Gurdjieff
In both of these quotations, Gurdjieff is pointing out to us that the biggest obstacle is that we already think we know who we are. We already think “I have got myself figured out.” And so if other people try to give us feedback that is contrary to our idea about ourselves, we get offended, we get upset, and we want to run away from that revelation.
If situations seem to turn out in such a way that seems unfair to us, we don't want to look at if the situation is actually what we deserve to be experiencing. We don't want to examine it in that way. We have to have a different attitude towards life, to be sincere. We have to have an approach to life that lets us take feedback, take situations that are difficult, and transform them.
In the East, the lotus is the symbol of such self-transformation. The lotus is a beautiful flower that grows from the mud, from muck. For a lot of us, our situation in life feels pretty murky. It feels like we are dealing with a lot of painful, ugly things that are going on, different situations. We see it on the news all the time. So how do we take the muck of our situation and use it to nourish the seat of our soul so that we can grow? We can become something beautiful like this lotus, rather than just letting ourselves die in the midst of that.
The Substance, Energy, and Force of Sincerity
Samael Aun Weor is the founder of the Gnostic tradition, and he taught that:
“We must cultivate sincerity, because the most beautiful flowers of the Spirit germinate within the substance of sincerity." ―Samael Aun Weor, Igneous Rose
Sincerity is a substance. It is a living thing. It is something we have to cultivate―by creating that space that I just described, where you actually take off the mask and you go before divinity, and you bare your whole heart. You look at yourself and your life situations as they really are, with all of your courage, without running away. That is how you begin to give your soul the space it needs to really grow―to see itself―to experience new perspectives.
A lot of times we go through our days thinking the same things, feeling the same things, doing the same things―on repeat. We never get a chance to think anything new, experience something new, to see ourselves from a different perspective. So we have to create an environment in our lives, whether that is through our meditation practice, or through sincere relationships with friends or family, or the people closest to us, in which we have the space to grow and see things in new ways. Because it is from that substance that radical honesty, that beautiful virtues of our soul can grow, that our spirit can really shine, and will see potential in ourselves that we never thought possible.
We can talk about prophets or masters, you know, like Buddha, Muhammad, Moses, Jesus―all those people were people just like you and me, physically speaking, but they worked so hard―whether in their current lifetimes or in previous lifetimes, to develop a closeness with divine truth, with a penetrating love and wisdom of the universe―that they were radically changed. They were able to achieve feats that most of us deem miraculous.
All of us have that divine potential within us. In Buddhism it is called the “seed of Buddha-nature” that we can develop, but we have to create a space with which we can do it.
If a person says that they are after enlightenment and after truth, but they spend their days lying to people, deceiving people, keeping a lot of secrets out of a sense of defending oneself, one's own idea of oneself, how can they become one with truth? If we spend our time saying lies to people, we create a disequilibrium in own mind at heart and body that affects the people around us and that affects us. It prevents us from being in harmony with the true nature of reality.
Sexual Energy: The Power of Truth
Now, another esoteric truth, as I mentioned, is the factor of birth. When we really want to get into the deepest mysteries of truth, we have to be working with the practice of sexual transmutation.
In Gnosis, we know that this practice involves taking one's sexual and creative energy, and using it with purity, whether individually or in marriage with one's spouse, to be able to harness that energy without losing it, and transmute it up to the brain. And when we do that, that energy can awaken all of the centers of our body. It can regenerate us and can help us to really perceive something mysterious within ourselves and within the universe.
An old, ancient gospel from the Gnostic tradition is the Gnostic Gospel of Philip, and the author of this gospel wrote something that seems perhaps a little enigmatic on the surface, but I am going to break it apart from the esoteric perspective. It is written in this gospel that:
“The Word says, ‘If you know the truth, the truth will make you free.’” ―Gospel of Phillip
We have heard this in the Bible. Jesus was the one who said that the truth will make us free. Jesus is an incarnation of Christ, a universal force of wisdom, truth, and compassion. And he is saying that if we know the truth, and not just know it on an intellectual level, but really become one with that truth, we are free.
All those situations of confusion and suffering that I talked about: feeling stuck, and “Like we don't really have the power to change our situation and to get out of it,” if we knew the truth, the truth as a principle, a metaphysical principle beyond any one person, then we would know what is the right path to take.
What is important to point out there is that the truth is not something that we can know in one moment and hold in our intellect and then continue to talk about again and again and again. The truth is dynamic. It is deep. It changes in each moment. It changes in each one of us. So, we have to have the openness in the sincerity to say, “Even though I understand this aspect about the truth, there is a lot more that I don't understand. There is a lot more that might be related to this aspect of the truth that I can’t understand”―to keep approaching ourselves, our life, our experience, and divinity with that openness, so that we can truly understand more and more, and not foreclose ourselves early.
The verse from the Gospel of Phillip goes on:
“Ignorance is a slave, knowledge is freedom. If we know the truth, we shall find the fruit of truth within us. If we join with it, it will bring us fulfillment.” ―Gospel of Phillip
When we talk about truth as a substance, the substance of sincerity, this is deeply related with our sexual force, our creative energy. Our creative energy is where we define ourselves.
We all know that in an act of sex, we can create a new life. We can radically change our life forever. And in many other ways, sexual actions have tremendous repercussions, whether they can be traumatic, or whether they can be great. So, we have to use this force with sincerity. We have to use this force to our advantage and not become enslaved by it―because, when we are joining with the purity of our own sexual force, we can find a fulfillment that is beyond anything physical.
The Gospel of Philip goes on:
“At present we encounter the visible things of creation, and we say that they are mighty and worthy and the hidden things are weak and insignificant. It is not so with the visible things of truth. They are weak and insignificant, but the hidden things are mighty and worthy.” ―Gospel of Phillip
We spend a lot of time working on our physical identity, our physical life. We don't spend quite as much time working on our soul, even though this is the part of us that we believe to be eternal, that we believe to go on after death.
So, many times there are students that really work with these practices. They finally reach the point where they say, “My spiritual life is something that I want to take seriously. I want to become one with truth. I want to apply these practices.” A barrier that they encounter is that they become caught up in the physical changes that take place. When we are working with sexual transmutation, for example, whether as a single person using pranayamas, or as a married person practicing sexual alchemy, we are going to experience changes on all levels.
But the physical changes, the energetic feelings that we might have, are the very bottom portion of who we are. The really powerful changes are what are happening on the higher levels of the consciousness and the psyche. Those are what are described here as the hidden things which are mighty and worthy.
A lot of times we'll have students ask us, “What do these feelings mean if I am feeling a sensation in my spine or my third eye? Does this mean that I am awakened?” Physical sensations come and go in this work, and we shouldn't let them become obstacles for us. We shouldn't get scared of them. We should accept them. Let them be and understand that with time, we will see the changes in our lives and in the people around us that are really going to be the mighty fruits of the truth that we will find within us.
Sexual Alchemy: The Path to Truth
Finally, the Gospel of Philip goes on to say, that those of us who are really working with this practice will discover a very powerful force for radical change within ourselves. If we have been working, under the premise that we have been doing sexual transmutation, meditation, sacrificing for others, trying to become more awakened, the Gospel of Philip says:
“Perfect things have opened to us, and hidden things of truth. The Holy of Holies was revealed, and the bedchamber invited us in.” ―Gospel of Phillip
The Holy of Holies being our sexual alchemy, our sexual work, through which we become purified, we become new, we become born again through sexual transmutation, which is talked about in depth in The Perfect Matrimony by Samael Aun Weor. The bedchamber is the way that we can enter into that, not just know about it as a concept, but truly transform ourselves in our deepest substance, through our creative force―to become something new―to transform.
Now, this next part of the Gospel of Philip, which is what I am going to finish with, is talking about many levels of truth. So yes, it has some relevance to our experience on this planet and in relation to other people, but the deepest significance of it that I want to talk about here today, has to do with our psychological change.
We have been talking about ego, being sincere, countering all these things within ourselves. So when we truly see something in ourselves, we finally get that space of sincerity. Maybe we are crying in meditation because we really touched on the point that is hurting us, that is causing our suffering. How do we change it? How do we become something new? How do we kill what is false in us? What is creating pain for us? What is a lie that we have based our life off of and how do we give birth to something new―something that genuinely springs from our center, from the core of who we are, our essence?
He talks about the seed of the Holy Spirit. The seed of the Holy Spirit relates to that creative potential, our seed. And he says that,
“As long as the seed of the Holy Spirit is hidden, wickedness is ineffective, though it is not yet removed from the midst of the seed, and they are still enslaved to evil.” ―Gospel of Phillip
Within ourselves, if the sexual potential is utilized [by the Essence], our wickedness will be ineffective, meaning that there is not a lot of power to drive it.
In fact, we can think about times when our sexual energy, our sexual impulse was triggered by ego, by desire, and the lengths that we went through to try to get what we desired. Sexual energy has a tremendous power, and if we do not unlock this power, then in one sense, we become ineffective. We become unable to produce the changes that we would like to see, whether for good or for evil―whether we would like to see people hurt, or whether we ourselves would like to see the benefit of others, and the benefit of ourselves.
We have to tap into the sexual energy. In this school, we teach only white tantra, which is working in a way that benefits others. We don't teach black tantra, which is working with sexual energy for one's selfish aims at the expense of others, and ultimately causes the suffering even for the one who is using it.
That is why this Gospel of Philip, which was for initiates back in early, early times, they―who knew the secret, who knew about the bedchamber, inviting them into the mysteries of divinity―they would work with this power to change themselves. They would elevate what is good in themselves, and destroy what is false in one's self. That is why the Gospel of Philip goes on to say,
“But when the seed is revealed, then perfect light will shine on everyone, and all who are in the light will receive the chrism.” ―Gospel of Phillip
This means the anointing with the blessed oil, or for our purposes in esoteric significance: the chrism is the sexual energy, the semen, or the sexual fluids of a woman, the chrism, with which we raise to the brain, to the mind, to anoint the head.
The Gospel of Philip says:
“Then slaves will be freed and captives ransomed. ‘Every plant that my father in heaven has not planted will be pulled out.’ What is separated will be united, what is empty will be filled.” ―Gospel of Phillip
As I mentioned, yes, this has some significance to people in the world, but most importantly for our purposes, it has significance for us. Within us, there is a multiplicity of identities. Some of them want what is good for others, other parts of us want to hurt other people, want to make other people suffer, because we are suffering.
When we transmute our sexual energy, when we reveal that light through a revelation in our spiritual practice, practically doing it, not thinking about it, but really doing the practices, then this light emerges in our soul, which shines on all the different parts of ourselves, and we become anointed. We become blessed with the light of the Holy Spirit.
Many religions, especially I think Pentecostalism, is a popular one nowadays, talk about being blessed with the gifts of the Holy Spirit: being able to speak in tongues or heal the sick or perform miracles. But the practical significance for us as beginners in this spiritual work, is that we can heal what is sick in us.
There are parts of our heart, parts of our mind, that are sick, that are diseased, that are dying and suffering terribly, and using the sexual energy can regenerate us. It can awaken us. It can give us access to the light of divinity, the knowledge of divinity, and truly, the power of divinity.
So, what is a slave in us will be freed. What is captive in us will be ransomed. Sometimes we feel compelled by a desire to do something that we know is harmful, that we know hurts others, and as much as we try to overcome our addictions, we don't feel like we have the power, but this power gives us the chance to do that. And that is why whatever is planted in us that is not planted by our inner Father, our inner divinity, can be pulled out, can be taken out of us and we can be purified and born again.
We are separated from our inner divinity. As I said at the beginning of this lecture, that religion is to reunite with the part of ourselves that we are searching for, that we are longing to know the truth, as a principle that exists within us. Through sexual transmutation, through ethics, through purity, through working on our mind, through awakening our heart, we can be reunited to God within ourselves, and we can be filled with the light of our divinity and no longer feel that emptiness.
Questions and Answers
Question: We talk about students who in this type of studies are really struggling with a problem. It could be an addiction or desire, a behavior that they want to seriously change. On the surface, we have this examination of our life, but we feel we don't want to do certain things that are causing suffering, not only for ourselves but for other people. We may find that we know intellectually that doing this and this is wrong, and yet we continue to do it. Okay. So the question is, especially for online students to is, how do you help, with the tools that we teach here, the student to reconcile that conflict?
Instructor: Yeah, because this is a hard path, and especially with the sexual aspect of these teachings, a lot of students say, “Well, I feel that my sexual energy is precious and valuable and I want to use that, I want to conserve that, and I want to work with it through transmutation, but I am struggling because everything in society is telling me other different messages―and how do I overcome that?”
So, it takes a really profound sincerity in oneself. Like I mentioned before, the first step is going into meditation, bearing your heart―whether it is to a divine feminine, divine masculine―it doesn't matter. It can be just a gender-less feeling in your heart of, “this intelligence that loves me and wants what is best for me, that I can put my trust in, that I can give my heart to” and say, “I am suffering. This is really what I want. But I have a lot of other pieces in me, whether it is fear, whether it is desire, whether it is envy that are working against me achieving my goal of becoming free” from whatever this addiction might be.
In that case, with that sincerity, we start at the beginning. Without the sexual energy, without that transmutation, it is going to be very hard to actually make a lasting change, because if we are being honest in our heart, we are being honest in our words and our deeds, and we are trying our best to be sincere about our spiritual work, but then with our creative energy, we are working completely against that. We are dividing ourselves in that way. We are not being integrally whole with all parts of who we are.
Question: Talk too about, even the term virtue etymologically refers to “virile, virility.” How does that virility, that energy, give a practitioner in meditation strength?
Instructor: When we harness our energy, it is the substance of our virtue. Our sexual energy as you mentioned, virtue, has the same etymological root as virile, virgin. “Vir” has to do with sexuality, so by harnessing that, we can begin to give birth to those beautiful flowers of the spirit, the virtues of our soul. And that comes from being honest with ourselves and in our actions and in our deeds sexually, physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually.
Question: I had thought that while you are going through the path of righteousness and truth, of course you might say it's easier if you have a partner, a friend, friends, and a community. Because then you can sit down and identify and talk about the particular struggles you are having, and for a lack of a better way of saying it, you can plan a strategy of how you want to deal with it and support one another. If you are going through it alone, it is very conflicting. Sometimes you may make a bad decision just out of anxiety, so I have thought of that and never really had that but I always thought that if I had a partner or some friends who understood and who also were truth seekers or community, that we could say, ok we know this exists: How are we going to plan to go through this and survive and have the warmth and light out of life? I think that is missing a lot of times.
Instructor: In some cases that can be helpful, definitely. Especially in our physical life, to have people around us who support us in the lifestyle we want to live. If we are trying to, for example, be sober, giving up drinking in a culture where drinking abounds, but then we have a group of people that is like us, trying to be sober, that is going to create an environment that is much more conducive. But, that can also be a barrier, because if I can just go to, you know, my elder and ask him for all the advice, and I myself don't have to develop within a reliance on my own inner divinity, that can become an obstacle. In fact, are you familiar with Tarot at all? Tarot, like tarot readings? [Editor’s Note: see The Eternal Tarot]
Comment: Oh yes.
Instructor: So, they are, esoterically speaking, can represent different principles of reality and the Arcanum Nine of the Tarot is the Hermit, is initiation. It is representing for us, in a symbolic way, that ultimately our spiritual work is done alone, even if we are in an environment with a lot of friends who are into spirituality, and where we can put on the show around our friends. But when it comes down to our heart, we have to do that work inside, and nobody knows and nobody sees that but God, you know?
Why do we as instructors keep our identities private? It is because our true path to truth is lived privately. It is within each one of us. It is not about anybody else, anybody else's opinion. Sometimes people are in spiritual groups, they are saying, “Well, everybody is doing this and saying this is good, so I have to do it” and they themselves, by just going along with the flow, aren't really evaluating, “Is this a good thing?' Put them in a different group and they might do the exact opposite.
Another Instructor: In Buddhism, they talk a lot about the three jewels. The Buddha or the teacher, the Dharma or the teaching, and the Sangha, or the school, community. Community is important. It is good to meet with people and to talk about, especially in our organization, we have retreats and activities that involve people to talk about these kinds of things, which are very contrary to the current of our culture and humanity. So, it is good to meet with people who are sincere. When people are practicing by themselves , and developing themselves with the methods we are providing here, that aura of sincerity, that of sincerity becomes strengthened. But of course, as we were discussing, if a group is based off of fanaticism and fear and cultural norm or group norms, when the practitioners are not being sincere in themselves, that is where you have dogma, institutionalization, problems.
Question: And one thing we could also ask is when we are cultivating this serenity or this sincerity, how does one know that their prayers or their efforts are going to be answered? Because sometimes you feel that we are being very sincere with our efforts of practice, and we pray and meditate, but we don't get the answer immediately, and that often can create a friction in us where, “This is not working. Because I am trying this this and this. I am following formulas in meditation: ‘process a, b, and c.’ I am trying these practices that we are doing as a group or individually, and I am not getting the results that I want.” So this is something that students often ask us is, well, how does one know whether we are really being effective or not? And how do we tie that into sincerity, being honest with where we are at?
Instructor: You know by the fruits. If you notice a change in yourself and a change in your life that is really lasting, and you know that you are approaching it in the right way. If you just feel like you're stuck and you are encountering the same problem again, and again, and as much as you are trying to change yourself and nothing is changing, then you need to go back to the beginning and work on understanding that situation―really putting your all into understanding: why does the situation keep repeating in different ways of my life? What is it that I am doing that is reproducing this situation? You can do that through retrospective meditation and, like I said, you know, working with sincere prayer and meditation to see something new in yourself.
Question: Can we get to talk a little bit about the actual process by which, and the procedure by which, we develop sincerity, because the beginning of meditation we know is, our posture, relaxing our body, relaxing our mind―letting go of the residue of the day: tensions and anxieties―and developing a state of equanimity. But in order to be really sincere, maybe you can comment on this, is, once we have that serenity developed and are no longer pushed around by lying, how does one go into the mind to work on a specific defect so that through comprehension, you can eliminate it?
Instructor: The first obstacle is actually getting relaxed enough physically, emotionally, and mentally, that your mind calms down, that you can focus your attention on one point without becoming distracted. If we have achieved that, then the next point is to be able to go into the place that hurts.
So in the quote that we talked about, people are afraid to look at themselves. If you have achieved that stability of mind and you can actually look at the area of your life that is causing you pain, you have to be able to hold your attention there, and really look at it, and not just one day, but working on it day after day. Sometimes the insight will come not in meditation, but it will come in a dream. It will come later on when you are cooking, and you are not even thinking about it.
So, the approach, if you find a place that really touches in your heart, then you know, this is what I have got to be looking at. It is not something in the mind, “Oh, is this what is important or is that what is important?” and not only weighing it on an intellectual level, but really feeling with our heart. What is it that is hurting me here? What is it that is hurting me most? Why am I suffering and going in that direction?
Question: When meditating, I have seen some people laying on the ground, does it matter which position you take? I like to meditate laying down.
Instructor: Me too. The important thing with meditation postures―we can try all different kinds of asanas or postures―but what is really important is you have a position where one: you are comfortable enough that you can actually relax, and two: you are not so comfortable that you fall asleep. If you have a position, if you are the type of person who can lay down and you can still stay awake and keep your mind concentrated, but that is what helps you to relax, then go for it. Yeah, you don't need to sit up or sit in a chair or lotus posture or anything like that.
Another Instructor: More importantly what is essential for medical practices is having a posture that we can relax fully but without losing the thread or practice, and this is where sincerity becomes so essential, primarily because if we are meditating and for 30 minutes we are daydreaming, remembering what happened in the day, following a chain of associative thinking, memories, being overwhelmed by emotions, and then suddenly you remember, “I was supposed to be meditating!' or we fall asleep and we lose our attention―that means that we weren't meditating for those 30 minutes. This is why it is important to be sincere about practice because, we talk with a lot of students, where people are going through certain problems and are trying to resolve conflicts in their life through meditation, but the way that they approach it is an issue. We focus on an event in the day and try to really visualize and to understand what defects or behaviors we engaged in, in that moment. When students concentrate, when you are meditating in that way, you visualize an event in the day, you recall the thoughts and the feelings and the impulses to act in that specific moment.
Question: How does one work against the mind and comprehend that particular situation, and also be seen in the context of being sincere, not trying to change what happened? They say “Oh well, I think this is what happened…” but instead to really look at the facts. So how does one go about that process of that practice of retrospection?
Instructor: Well that has to do with our stability of mind. Our stability of mind is dependent upon what we are doing throughout the day. So, if somebody is changing things, egotistically going through, then they don't have enough control over their attention.
That is something that we have to be really relaxed, emotionally relaxed. So taking a deep breath if we are feeling overwhelmed, or if our mind is getting distracted with other thoughts, going back to the beginning, working on that again and again, and every meditation is going to help us over time to achieve the technique that we need. But what is really important―a lot of schools might focus on asana, your postures, different mudras, different mantras―those can be great and those can help, but really the focus that we have is much deeper than that.
We are looking to achieve a change on a spiritual level that is within the body, but it is also beyond the body. If we have a posture in which we can sit comfortably, we have a state of mind in which we can concentrate to a fair degree, then we have enough to begin doing a deeper work. As we do that deeper work and we change on a deeper level, we might realize, “Okay, I need to adjust my posture” or we might have better control with our mind, but ultimately if we have just enough to get started on the deeper work, then we shouldn't get fixated on physically, “How am I sitting? What different energies am I feeling in my body?”
Those can be great. Sometimes they are pleasant. Sometimes they are not. Just experience them as they are. Let them be, but the intention at least with the Gnostic path is to become one with truth, and you don't become one with truth by sitting in a certain posture. I mean, we have had people sitting in those postures for thousands of years and yet, our planet is still the way that it is today.
So, what is really important is going deep within yourself. If people are on a path and they want to learn about awakening different energies, there are a lot of techniques you can do. The techniques in our tradition also awaken energies, but it is not for the sole sake of awakening those energies. It is for a deeper purpose.
Question: Talk about comprehension, because once we have that foundation and serenity where we can actually focus on a problem of the day, or a defect we saw in our self-observation that we want to work on: how does one go about comprehending those elements and removing them? Because some people, they go into retrospection and they will reflect on what they saw in the day, but we get caught up in being angry again, or being resentful, being proud, being fearful and not being able to separate from that. So again, we talked about the serenity for being able to see that, but not how we could identify with it. Being serene is one thing. It is the beginning. But the real work is being able to perceive those particular defects or egos, and how do we go about comprehending them?
Instructor: You are saying for someone who already has stability of mind and is able to observe something in themselves without becoming identified with it how do they develop comprehension?
Audience: Yes, on a deeper level. We get that question where they say, “I am seeing that I have anger, that I have lust, that I have fear, that I have all these things; and I know I have these faults, but I am not changing fundamentally.” One thing is to know it intellectually, “I have this” or they will say “I have anger and I shouldn't have done that.”
Instructor: So do we really feel it in the heart? Samael Aun Weor writes, comprehension comes through the heart. When we are observing something, have we meditated on it from the other person's point of view? Maybe we see it more like “Yeah, I shouldn't have done that wrong.” But have we really contemplated how we might have affected or hurt the other person?
Many times, taking the perspective of others, being empathetic, can really trigger our own remorse. Remorse can be a virtue. Guilt is not a virtue. Guilt can just create, you know, more baggage for us. We don't want to be beating ourselves up necessarily, but feeling genuine remorse of “I want to change in our heart” is the beginning of comprehension. Sometimes we don't comprehend it right there in our meditation session. But if we are really, sincerely working, an opportunity, another experience will come that can teach us another deeper level about that defect that we want to work on.
We have to just keep at it with persistence. Consistency is really the key. Tenacity and consistency: to be able to continually work on a defect in different levels. We might understand it on a superficial level, intellectually, “Yeah, that is wrong, that hurt somebody,” but to go deeper into it with our heart, to awaken our heart is really the key to changing, because when somebody really feels it in their heart like, “Oh man, I messed up. I wish I hadn't done that!” That is when we can really change.
We have practices and mantras like the mantra, 'O' that works specifically with awakening the heart, and if we feel like our heart is cold and we are stuck in our mind all the time, we can work with that. If we feel like our heart is suffering too much and we are overwhelmed by emotional pain, we have the practice with the Magic of the Roses to help us heal our emotional pain.
If we are feeling way too overwhelmed by a topic, then maybe we need to take a break from it. You know, there are extremes. We got to be in balance. You don't want to go so much into something where you are overwhelmed and then you can't function in the rest of your life. This balance depends on you knowing yourself well enough to know, “Am I too intellectual? In which case I need to be working more with my heart,” or “Am I too emotional? In which case I really need to work with calming down―you know, getting serene, being able to back off emotionally so that my heart calms down enough that I am not in confusion.”
Sometimes the best thing to do is to be patient and to wait, because as long as we are funneling more energy into the situation, we are probably creating more problems. If we stop funneling our energy into the situation, we relax. We just let it be what it is. People are saying bad things about me, whatever. Whatever the problem is, just let it be what it is. Sometimes people get distracted and they start talking about somebody else instead and it just disappears. But if you keep funneling energy into it, it is going to get worse and so with patience, with stepping back, we can calm down enough that maybe the correct action that we should be taking will emerge for us. But, if we are just throwing more energy into the problem, we are creating disequilibrium in our mind and heart and in our situation.
Question: What about meditating on virtue? As oftentimes, in this work, we can see a lot of things we don't like. Oftentimes, many students and even instructors will face certain conflicts in their daily life that provoke very subconscious tendencies that are very ugly. And what does it mean to meditate on the virtues and how can it help anyone practicing meditation to not become morbid.
Instructor: That is actually going to be another part of this course, is not being overcome by despair.
Question: (paraphrasing) I recently started to realize... getting certain dimensions and being out of the third dimension and into the fifth dimension and being in higher dimensions, but the more that you see into that dimension, the more sad it can get because you see, you start to see people for who they are... You start to feed off people's energy and it can affect you if you are not careful, but you are also stuck like… What do I do or, when you are around your environment and stuff?
Instructor: It is a very real challenge that as you begin to wake up, you are realizing all these beautiful truths and virtues and also look at the reality of, you know, what is inside of people― what is inside of me―which is ugly. What is inside of other people which can be pretty ugly too. Yeah. Absolutely! So I will answer both of these.
So the first question, it can be very beneficial if we see something in ourselves, that is really negative, to meditate on what is the antidote to this, because just as we carry a lot of ugly things within ourselves, we also carry beautiful things within ourselves. The proportion at which we express them might be different, but we can just as easily be generous as we can be greedy. And so, for those of us who think we’re saints, we have got to be aware that we have a dark side that is just as easily activated. And for those who become overwhelmed and become morbid about their negative attributes, they should sit and meditate on what would be the right thing to do in this situation.
To go and do that is liberating in itself―to see that you have the power to do something virtuous that you think is the opposite. So we are trying to work with duality to create a unity. It doesn't have to be either good or bad. In fact, those terms aren't really useful for the purposes of your direct lived experience. Your experience is what it is. So if you see something that you find repulsive, go and apply something that you think is beautiful to it, and create a unity there, create something that is balanced.
In terms of what you are talking about, that as we awaken and we become more aware of what is around us, we see how those energies can affect us, especially if we have a more open kind of psychological state of being. We have a lot of practices to protect ourselves [see The Divine Science by Samael Aun Weor]. These aren't practices that hurt other people. They are just strictly to create a space around myself that is protected, to cultivate a space within which my energy can radiate outwards and help other people, but I don't become drained by them.
So one important thing is, if there is somebody really toxic, as much as you might want to help them, you might need to help them from a distance, because becoming ingrained in a “like best friendship,” with somebody who is really toxic, you are mingling your energy with them on a regular basis, and you know, we take on the color of the people that we are around, and it can really drain us. You might lift them up a little bit, but at what cost to the other people in your life who need you? I mean loving people from a distance.
There are some books too. We can give you a book for free so that you can learn about protecting yourself in those situations and to not be discouraged by the state of the world. It can be really difficult. But we also see really beautiful things in ourselves. We see beautiful things that people are capable of, like you were describing, other places, other parts of the world where there are beautiful things. It doesn't mean any place is free of problems, but every place and every person has some good in them, and we have to be encouraged that if we are doing our part with creating beauty in ourselves, creating that light, that you know, other people are capable of the same. If they choose to do that, they are capable of it.
We have to hold on to the hope that, you know, other people are doing the best that they can to try to live happy lives, and if people are really creating problems for themselves and struggling, you know, that is their free will and we have to respect that. We have to do what we need to do to protect ourselves, but you know, at any point in life, people can change and I know that because, I went in a certain direction in life, and at a certain point, I had had enough with what I was doing, and was able to change. So I have hope for other people because of what I have lived through, and then, when I become overwhelmed with some of the things that I see, people close to me really suffering, I just have hope that if they want to, that opportunity will come for them.
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