The following transcription is from an audio lecture on Sufi Principles of Meditation, a course originally delivered live at the Gnostic Academy of Chicago.
The most important principle of meditation, of genuine religion, is precisely the present moment. Studying Kabbalah, the Tree of Life, astrology, Kundalini, tantra, alchemy, the eternal tarot, the scriptures, all this will amount to nothing if we do not comprehend the moment we are in.
The teachings are vastly complex. The terms we use, the knowledge we reference, is highly technical, sophisticated, profound. Yet, despite this complexity, this vastness, all this knowledge can be synthesized into a very simple point, which is awareness of the present.
True knowledge is experienced. It is experiential. It is found here and now, not in some distant future or by reflecting only upon the past. It is found in the moment.
All traditions, all meditative disciplines teach the doctrine of the moment, since this is the key for realization, knowledge of divinity, experience of the truth. Samael Aun Weor, in The Elimination of Satan's Tail wrote the following:
“To achieve the stillness and silence of the mind, it is necessary to know how to live from instant to instant, to know how to take advantage of each moment, to not live the moment in doses.” ―Samael Aun Weor, The Elimination of Satan’s Tail
All traditions of meditation teach that the origin of suffering is a lack of awareness of who we are, how we behave, what we are doing now. We have to be reflective. In Gnosticism, in the writings of Samael Aun Weor, we learn that we must know who we are, where we come from, where we are at.
Let us examine ourselves. How conscious are we throughout the day? This is not a matter of possessing vitality in the morning when we wake up, in order to be physically active. Wakefulness, vigilance, attention, awakening, is a direct state of perception of this instant, the moment we find ourselves in. So, how aware are we throughout the day? Are we awake from moment to moment? Are we attentive to what we are doing here and now?
Are we examining ourselves in whatever stage or action we are involved in? Or do we think of other things? Do we daydream? Do we fantasize? Do we worry?
Whenever we think of other things: planning, expecting, day dreaming, remembering, instead of focusing our attention on where we are at, what we are doing, it means our consciousness is asleep. We are not awake. We are dreaming.
Imagine that you are washing dishes. If we are cleaning dishes in our kitchen, but thinking of our loved ones, our friends, our family, we ignore what we are doing. We forget what we are doing. And in this way, we cut ourselves. Perhaps with a knife because we are not attentive to what we are doing in the kitchen. This is a very simple example of a profound truth: that when we lack attention in moments of critical engagement with life, we hurt ourselves.
What happens with people when they drive their car and they don't pay attention to the road? People have ended up in accidents or have killed themselves, injured others, because they are not awake. They were on their cell phone, daydreaming, thinking of other things, not focused on what they were doing.
So, there are serious consequences when we don't pay attention, and this is our chronic state. We have no cognizance of where we are or what we do, and because we act unconsciously upon negative thoughts, negative feelings, negative impulses, we produce suffering. We harm ourselves and others spiritually. It is this lack of comprehension of our internal states that produces all the sorrow of humanity.
The origin of pain is the "I." It is our sense of self that acts mechanically, that always thinks and behaves in accordance to hypotheses, theories, opinions, beliefs. The mind does not know the truth, because it is the past. This sense of self, the ego, the "I," is memory, according to Samael Aun Weor.
The Sufis refer to the self, the ego, as nafs, nafas, which can mean “breath,” a type of energy which works upon the mind. It is the expression of our words when they are filled with hatred, with envy, with pride. Someone who is awake and aware does not rely on the ego, does not speak the utterances of desire. In that way we avoid pain.
This is the beginning and the end of religion. It is found in this moment. Because when we pay attention to the present, when we observe our thoughts, our feelings, our impulses, we can access states of being that truly are inaccessible or comprehensible for people who know nothing of the soul, who are identified with pride, with lust, with hatred, with vanity, etc.
We speak in these studies of self-observation and self-remembering. The Sufis referred to self-observation as inner accounting, muhasabah: to make an account of our defects so that by discovering our defects, they may become dead defects. We have to learn to see ourselves in the moment, not to think we are a certain way or to assume, but to perceive. This is how we study the book of our life.
We look, we introspect the examined. We observe our mind, our heart, and our impulses, our behaviors. This is the beginning of religion, and you can only find it here in this instant.
But self-observation is not enough. This must be combined with presence of God, remembrance of divinity. This is a profound state of awareness known as hudur in Arabic: the presence of God, the presence of divinity. This is accessed through muhadarah, awareness of the present.
Many Gnostic students write to us and ask us, how do I remember my divinity? How do I know that I am observing myself correctly? The question unveils the answer. Self-observation and remembrance are not intellectual exercises. They are found when we stop thinking, when we learn to look―to look from a space between thought, when we were not identified with an idea, with a concept. Remembrance of God is a quality, a crystal, pristine fountain of divine states. We know this state and we experience it, especially in a moment when we are in a crisis, when all the elements of the psyche are mixed, churning; when we are boiling with ordeals, because anyone on this path must face crises so that the ego comes to the surface. This is why the Quran states:
“And We shall test you until We know those among you who strive and those who are patient, and We shall test your proclamations.” ―Muhammad (47:31)
“And We will surely test you with something of fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient…” ―Al-Baqarah, “The Cow” (2:155).
“Every soul will taste death. And We test you with evil and with good as trial; and to Us you will be returned.” ―Al-Anbiya “The Prophets” (21:35)
We face hardships so that the ego emerges, but the question remains, what desire or what will do we act upon? In a moment when we are criticized, lied to, spat upon, hated. What behavior do we enact?
This is not an intellectual exercise. It is a quality of mind. It is a decision we make in the moment. Do we respond with anger, with self-esteem, with resentment, with pride? Or do we choose a better way of behaving? Conscious love, compassion, forgiveness, serenity and wisdom is the way.
We achieve serenity and wisdom when we don't act on the mind. When in that crisis of being criticized or insulted, we remain calm. We don't allow our external behavior to manifest with anger, but on a deeper level, we learn to introspect and not act upon anger in the mind.
This is why meditation is essential. This is why the present moment is fundamental. We have to be aware of where we are at; who we are; what we are doing. Because, the gospel of the moment, the doctrine of the moment, is precisely defined and written in the book of our deeds.
When we choose virtuous action, especially in those moments when, really, our desires and our ego want to retaliate, we gain wisdom when we act ethically―when we comprehend that our pride, that our hatred, is wrong. And in that way, we remember God. We contemplate God. We realize that to act with anger is to be unethical. Is to be a demon; to be a failure. But to allow virtue to spontaneously flourish, to let intuitive action emerge from the presence of our heart, we find happiness and we avoid problems.
This is why Samael Aun Weor in The Elimination of Satan's Tail:
“Take everything from each moment, because each moment is a child of Gnosis, each moment is absolute, alive and significant. Momentariness is a special characteristic of the Gnostics. We love the philosophy of momentariness.” ―Samael Aun Weor, The Elimination of Satan’s Tail
So when people ask this question: how do I self-observe? How do I self-remember? It shows that we are not being spontaneous. These principles are understood by looking in ourselves here and now. It is spontaneity. It is alive: the doctrine of Gnosis, knowledge. You only gain understanding by looking at yourself.
When we look to the intellect for answers, we vacillate, we hesitate, we make mistakes. In a moment, we may think in a crisis that a certain action will be best, and yet our heart tells us otherwise. And because we don't act upon the intuitions of our heart, we go along with the intellect and justify ourselves. Meanwhile, we feel remorse and realize later that we acted wrongly.
So instead of hesitating about what to do in those moments, we have to learn to follow our heart. It is a quality of the heart. Remembrance of God is in the heart, within the soul. This is what it means to live intuitively, to live with intelligence, because the intellect cannot solve problems. It can store information. It can theorize. It can conceptualize, but it cannot know an answer.
So we have to remember this presence, to learn what this presence is. It is the wisdom of our own conscience: our heart that tells us this is right, and this is wrong. The more we feed that conscience, the stronger it gets. The more we deny that conscience in the moment, the more we suffer.
This is why the Sufis taught, especially through the writings of Rumi, "My friend, the Sufi is the son of the present moment. To say ‘tomorrow’ is not our way."
Defining the Moment
Let us define what the present moment is.
In our tradition, we spend a lot of time talking about self-observation and self-remembering. We do so through analyzing the lines of life and being.
The line of life is time. It is birth, life, and death. It is mechanical. It is the events of our existence that repeat mechanically through recurrence. It is our daily experience from morning to evening. It is a repetition. It is a cycle which the Buddhists call samsara: cycling. And in this way, we travel through life from our birth to our death, but usually without any understanding.
The line of being is very different. These are the qualities of the soul, the qualities of consciousness. These are the superior states of being, which are elevated and known by the Tree of Life of the Kabbalah. This is a map of our soul, of our Being, of our identity. These are the superior qualities that the Sufis state in their doctrine, in manuals such as Kashf al-Mahjub, Revelation of the Mystery by Al-Hujwiri and also the states and stations the path mentioned by many masters such as Al-Qushayri and Abdullah Ansari of Herat, of whom I will be quoting today.
These are the states and stations in the path. Each sphere or sephiroth is a quality of being, which is many elements, many principles. And so, the states and stations of the path are mapped by the Hebraic Kabbalah in a very intuitive way.
Now, we will be exploring how those principles relate to this diagram extensively, but in synthesis we state, the superior states of being are the sephiroth, the Tree of Life, and the inferior states of being are the Tree of Zaqqum mentioned in the Qur’an. This is the tree of death: the inverted spheres, the Klipoth, the hell realms.
Heaven and hell are states of being, and yet there are also places in nature that we access when we are sleeping in the dreaming state.
The law of attraction determines our life. What we are psychologically attracts where we go in nature. We always follow the trajectory of our mental stream, our mind, our behaviors. Virtuous people associate with virtuous people. Demonic people with demonic people. Everybody likes to talk about in these times of the law of attraction, about getting what you want, fulfilling desire. And yet people fail to realize that while this is true―we associate with people at our level of being―it doesn't mean that we should follow just desire, egotism.
Instead in our studies, we seek to change our level of being, our psychology in this instant, of where we are at. If we wish to access the Tree of Life, the heavenly dimensions, we do so by being in the moment―being present―which is why Al-Qushayri states the following in his book Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism:
“I heard Abu Ali al-Daqqaq say that the “now”―waqt―is that in which you are. If you are in the world, your “now” is this world. If you are in the next world (the higher dimensions of the Tree of Life), your “now” is the next world. If you are in joy, your “now” is joy. If you are in sorrow, your “now” is sorrow. He means by this that the present moment is that which has dominance over a person.” ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
Many people wanted to experience the higher dimensions, the Tree of Life, astral projections, jinn experiences, awakened knowledge, but often what they fail to do is practice in their daily life: vigilance, to be aware of the present, because one who is awakening physically in their daily state―that is no longer acting mechanically―that introspection and vigilance occurs within the internal planes until the present moment dominates.
Usually the moment defines us, and not the other way around. We suffer mechanically through circumstances, never knowing how to change our reactions to life. It is only when we learn to be aware of this instant that we can transform our state and ascend to higher levels of being.
Samael Aun Weor mentions that the ability to originate new circumstances, to no longer be a slave to the line of life, following, repeatedly, mechanically, the process of birth, life, and death, and then on repeat, to return―the law of return, transmigration―we can escape the mechanism of life by following epigenesis, which is “the ability to originate new circumstances."
Because we usually repeat things moment-by-moment, primarily because we are not aware of the “now.” Situations, events, people, dramas, tragedies, comedies: these incessantly repeat. If we want to transform the situation, we have to be aware of this instant, our internal states. We have to be aware of the instant, our states in relation to external events, because this is the requirement for the moment.
Requirements for the Moment
The Sufis use the technical term 'waqt' to define the present. They explain that superior or inferior action always depends upon the present. Our state of mind and what we decide in the moment determines our trajectory. We have to be aware of the impressions of life and what we experience, but also our internal state.
Al-Qushayri states in his Principles of Sufism the following,
“Waqt (the present moment) may refer specifically to the time in which one is. Some people say that the present moment is between the two times, that is, the past and the future.” ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
So these constitute the line of life. We must decide to enact the qualities of the being or animal desires.
“And they say that the Sufi is the “son of his moment.” This means that he occupies himself immediately with whatever sort of devotion should come first in a given moment. He bases himself upon what is required of him at the time. It is said, “The dervish cares for neither the past nor the future of his moment: he cares for the moment in which he is.” And regarding this, “To be preoccupied with what escaped you in a moment that has passed is to waste a second moment.” ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
Real devotion is remembrance of divinity in the present instant. It is only here and now. Now we can fulfill divine action, but if we are distracted, asleep, unconscious, we cannot respond ethically to the moment. So this is what Shari’ah is, the law, the instruction. The code of ethical conduct. We have to learn to be in the instant, to respond with ethics, with compassion, with wisdom. If we feel shame for having acted unethically, even if only in our mind, then we are distracted with the past. We must be present with our being and not be preoccupied with the past, to be conscious here and now. This is the essence of worship.
So people think that worship is something external. We always do so according to many mainstream religions, by attending a mosque, a church, synagogue, a temple. In reality, we have to learn to worship divinity in our actions. We do so by becoming aware of God.
The Governance of the Present
“The best act of worship is watchfulness of the moments. That is, that the servant not look beyond his limit, not contemplate anything other than his Lord, and not associate with anything other than his present moment.” ―Al-Wasiti, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri
To not look beyond our limit means to follow our intuition: to not speculate “how I must act,” but know it in our heart.
Everybody struggles with the mind. The mind says one thing, the heart another. This is why Samael Aun Weor stated, "We must learn to think with the heart and feel with the head.” Intuition is an act of consciousness and plenitude, where the ego is not present.
Contemplation of God exists as we observe ourselves and no longer act upon the ego. We learn to speak and behave ethically, from a state of serenity, altruism, compassion, generosity. When we associate with anything other than the present, it means that we are unconscious. We are dreaming. We are thinking. We are associating other things with the present, meaning: we are driving our car, but we are associating in our mind with our job, thinking of our previous work day, or anticipating the future, or thinking of what a solution could be for a problem. These are beliefs, ideas, concepts, justifications. These elements cloud our perception of what we are doing in the moment.
The Muslims speak abundantly of not associating with anything other than God. The Qur’an speaks, many times, of “Far be He from that which they associate with Him!" Or: “Glory to Allah! He is free from the things they ascribe to Him!” (37:159).
So we included the calligraphy of Allah in Arabic in this slide to talk about the governance of the present, primarily because we have to learn to allow the Being to act through us. Of course, for some people this may seem like a very difficult endeavor, or better said, an impossible one. Many students ask us, how do I remember God? And we always answer very simply: Did your behavior produce suffering or happiness? What are the results in our midstream? The qualities of our mind?
Self-observation, inner-accounting, muhasabah, is when we take account of our defects, but remembrance of the presence of God, Hudur, is something qualitative; something psychological, spiritual. You learn to taste it by striving towards it again and again, by learning to overcome and not act upon the ego, as was mentioned by that quote from Al-Wasati.
“The best act of worship is watchfulness of the moment.” Don't look beyond your limit. Don't try to contemplate anything else than the present. If you are in this instant, don't think about some miraculous samadhi in the clouds when we can't even pay attention to tying our shoes. You learn to access those higher states by being aware of the most mundane things, which is not really so mundane if we are attentive. It is a quality of the new, alert novelty: when we see life in a new way.
The reality is that no one can teach you how to remember God. You do so through deep reflection on your internal states―by discriminating and analyzing in meditation the suffering of wrong action and the happiness of liberated action. When we learn to act without egotism, we are following our intuition, the voice of conscience, the heart doctrine. This is when we follow al-Haqq, the Truth, the Being.
The following quote is from the Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri.
“The Sufis also may use waqt to mean the power and direction of the Truth when it comes over them regardless of their own will. They say, “So-and-so is under the rule of the now,” (bi hukm il-waqt)―that is, he has surrendered himself without preference to whatever appears to him from the unknown.” ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
What is the unknown? The Being, the Truth. As Samael Aun Weor mentions, it is the unknowable from moment to moment. God is infinite and his states are a perfect multiple unity. Divinity as a unity is perfect, is integral, but the qualities of divinity are infinite―described by qualities such as altruism, patience, diligence, compassion, love.
Real Islam is when we submit to the qualities of God in the moment, and knowing how to act rightly in a crisis, in the instant, which is intuitive action. It doesn't mean that we follow a reason in the intellect, necessarily, but following an ethical conduct: the voice of our conscience in our heart.
When Muslims pray to the East towards Mecca, towards the stone, the Kaaba of the alchemists―the stone of la baca: the sacred cow, or the stone of the masons, Yesod―they do so by bowing their head to the earth. This is a beautiful symbol of allowing the Being to control the mind.
We have to submit our head to the East, towards the divine, a symbol of learning to be present in the moment. So in terms of salat, ritual prayer, Muslims bow their head to the East. It signifies how we have to obey the commands of our intuition, even when it is painful for our ego. This is Islam [submission], and this is what leads to salam, peace. When we act upon our conscience and our heart, we find true peace and serenity. We resolve problems. We find solutions, but knowing how to find that answer is very difficult, especially in the moment, which is why we have to meditate.
We have to reflect upon our day and to understand how we behaved internally, externally. This is how we learn to govern the present moment more effectively, when those situations and events repeat, so that we can comprehend more. We have to learn to submit to the inner voice of our divine Being, whom only we can recognize. We have to follow our intuition, even if it makes our mind scream with pain. This is the path of crucifixion mentioned by Jesus. We have to accept our internal states and also question what we see so that we can act rightly.
“So-and-so is under the rule of the now,” (bi hukm il-waqt)―that is, he has surrendered himself without preference to whatever appears to him from the unknown.” ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
This means that the mind is receptive. The heart is receptive. We are awake. We are vigilant. The mind is serene, so that in the waters of our psyche, the pure images of heaven can reflect. Therefore, we have no preference to what God gives us. We obey God. We become a vehicle of the divine. That is what it means to be governed in the present, by a profound state of samadhi, ecstasy, wujud, here and now.
To reach these states, we have to be practical meditators. We have to really sift through the mud of the mind, so that we gain more clarity day by day, year by year. This is a very important aspect of Sufism and meditation. To access intuitive states in the daily moment of our life, but also in our meditations, especially. You cannot have one without the other.
“This can apply only to circumstances where God Most High has given no order, and where there is no model in the Divine Ordinance that one is obliged to follow.” ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
What this quote references is that some situations in life are more mundane. There is no crisis there. We are dealing with our daily obligations, our chores. It is not necessary that we receive a divine ordinance or command that we must follow in a particular ordeal.
Sometimes the Being, as we are in the process of self-realization, enters into us, but also retracts. It comes into my mind a story of the Master Samael Aun Weor, who even towards the end of his life, his last incarnation, before the advent of resurrection, he had no ego, but he went to go give a lecture in a large auditorium in South America where his Being entered him, according to one missionary. He was speaking with a lot of force, commanding and speaking to the audience and providing his teaching from the Logos Samael, the Martian Christ. And yet later, this missionary who told me the story went up to the Master Samael after the lecture, and saw that Samael Aun Weor was very calm and even childlike. He didn't have that Martian, powerful, commanding force that he exemplified in the lecture.
And this missionary explained, it is because during the lecture, the Being had to give a teaching, entering into him in the present moment and provided the knowledge that was so necessary for us. Then the Being retracts. This is known as absence and presence in Sufism, Ghaybah and Hudur, respectively.
Sometimes even at the very heights, the Being enters through us, but also retracts. But if we are serious about the work, eventually the Being will be fully present, always. That is achieved at the end of the Second Mountain as taught within our courses of initiation.
So we have to learn to follow the commands of God when it is given to us through our heart through our emotional center, especially―our superior emotions, our intuition.
“For to neglect that to which you have been ordered, to make an order an object of surmise, and to be indifferent to your falling short of your duty, is to depart from the religion.” ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
So how often in our experience have we received an intuition that we speculated about? We knew the right thing, but we didn't do it, and only realized later with remorse that we failed do the do the right thing. This is what it means to speculate: to make an order from God a surmise―to let the intellect think and rationalize―every excuse to not do that thing, to not act intuitively, to not follow our heart. This is how we betray God.
This is emphasized in the story of Pilate who justified the execution of Jesus. He washed his hands clean. That is our intellect, a symbol of our mind. We speculate about an intuition we receive, and we don't do the right thing. And also “to be indifferent to falling short in our duty,” to not feel remorse, is to depart from religion.
So this is the path of demons. People who feel no remorse in this instant are disconnected. They are al-kafirin, “the unbelievers” mentioned in the Qur’an.
The Moment is a Sword
The moment is a sword. It depends upon our behaviors how we use that weapon. It defends the righteous and harms the wicked.
As I have been saying, our actions determine our life. In a moment, we could defend our virtue, our soul, our life, with a virtuous action, even in the worst circumstances―or we suffer spiritual death. We fall upon our own sword by acting with anger, perversity, wrath.
“One of the sayings of the Sufis is, “The moment is a sword.” That is, in just the way that a sword severs, the present moment shows forth the influence of God’s action, ending things and bringing them to be.” ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
As we explained previously, states emerge, they sustain, they pass. Events also emerge, they sustain, and pass. Our divinity is the one who arranges, for the initiates, the path of the moment: the beginning and the end. Our decisions are either to follow God or our desires. They determine where we go. What happens to us.
“It is said, ‘The touch of the flat of a sword is temperate, but its blade cuts’―the one who treats it gently is safe and the one who treats it rudely is destroyed. Thus with the “now”: Whoever submits himself to its authority is saved and whoever resists it deteriorates and declines. They have recited about this:
“Like a sword, if you polish it, its touch is soothing
But its edge, if you are harsh to it, is harsh.”
―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
This is a beautiful teaching. If you polish your consciousness, with dhikr, remembrance of God, with meditation, with comprehension of the ego, the moment is soothing like a sword. It's touch is temperate, cool, but it's edge, if we are harsh in the moment by acting upon the moment, it is harsh. We cut ourselves. We feel pain.
“If the moment makes someone happy,
it is just a moment to him.
If it makes him miserable, it becomes something hateful.”
―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
So this is very beautiful. Very simple. The one who treats it gently is safe and the one who treats it really is destroyed. “Thus with the now, whoever submits himself to its authority is saved and whoever resists it deteriorates and declines.”
Self-remembrance is not complicated. If it sounds complicated or we think it is difficult, it is because we are approaching it with our intellect. Happiness is a state of the soul. It is not an intellectual concept, although we have many terms and stories and anecdotes to relate these principles. A moment that makes us happy is one, really, in which we stop thinking, stop daydreaming, stop reminiscing about the past or thinking of the future, but learning to act here and now.
The Sword of the Seekers
"Remembering God with the heart is called the sword of the seekers. With it the seeker slays his enemies [egos, defects, nafs] and drives off [karmic] troubles that are headed for him." ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
It is by remembering God here and now, that we slay our enemies, which are the egos, the defects, or the nafs in Arabic―and, “drive off karmic troubles that are headed for us.” Meditation, astral projection, sacred rites of rejuvenation, runes, pranayama, alchemy: all these exercises are predicated on what we are doing here and now―how present we are when we practice.
Remembrance of God is a sword. Our states determine our life, and if we do not remember God, we act upon states of egotism. Again, God is not outside, but is inside. As the Quran teaches, "Truly We are closer to you than your jugular vein” (50:16).
By remembering that presence in us, we learn through practical life how to slay our enemies, our negative states, our defects as we are meditating, and drive off troubles that are headed for us, because if circumstances repeat, as karma and troubles emerge in our life that we have to resolve, if we respond or react with negativity, we exacerbate our pain. We complicate our issues. But if we act from serenity, we defend ourselves.
“Even if difficulty should overshadow the servant, his fleeing to God Most High in his heart immediately turns away from him the thing he hates.” ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
Here we have an image of Saint Michael conquering the dragon, a symbol of how our soul can conquer our lower self. And notice that as he is wielding of this sword of justice, he is in a perfect state of equanimity. Remembrance of God is calm, is serene, is balanced. It is only through clear perception and serenity, awareness in the present, that we know how to act in the spontaneity of the moment.
Psychological States and External Events
Samael Aun Weor mentions in Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology, how the best method for overcoming suffering is an appropriate psychological state:
“The best weapon that a human being can use in life is a correct psychological state.
“One can disarm beasts and unmask traitors by means of appropriate internal states.” ―Samael Aun Weor, Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology
So perhaps at our job, with our friends, with our family, with our spouse, somebody approaches us with hatred, with anger, with violence. If we learn to act with an appropriate psychological state, we can disarm the situation, dismantle aggression, because serenity is a much more crushing force than anger. We can unveil the truth by acting with states of sincerity, with altruism, with integrity
"Wrong internal states convert us into defenseless victims of human perversity." ―Samael Aun Weor, Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology
So if we face a crisis and yet we act with ego, at our job, in our career, we become defenseless. We become weak. People and their ego overwhelm us. We become victims of life, unable to act and orient the ship of our existence. We become slaves of suffering.
"You must learn to face the most unpleasant events of practical life with an appropriate internal uprightness.
“You must not become identified with any event. Remember that everything passes away.
“You must learn to look at life like a movie; thus you shall receive the benefits.
“You must not forget that if you do not eliminate mistaken internal states from your psyche, then events of no value could bring you disgrace." ―Samael Aun Weor, Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology
This means we are practicing retrospection meditation. We have to learn to comprehend the ego in the moment, observe ourselves instant by instant, moment by moment, acting upon Shari’ah, ethics. We must not identify with any event, because that wastes energy. We must not identify with external circumstances or our egotistical reactions, but to observe it like a movie so that we acquire data, information. And then later in the evening, or later in our day, we meditate upon what we saw and ask for comprehension and elimination of mistaken states from divinity.
"Unquestionably, each external event needs its appropriate fare, that is, its precise psychological state." ―Samael Aun Weor, Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology
Internal states must match external events.This is a very difficult concept to understand with the intellect, but it is something where we access and gain confidence in through meditation, reflection.
Every event needs its appropriate response. Impressions of life always enter us and we are always obligated to respond. We have to examine what states in us produce conflict, which are wrong, which are negative, but also to reflect on the virtues of the soul, to understand that which benefits oneself and others in a conscious way―in a spiritual way.
The Metaphysical Moment
This is the definition of the metaphysical moment as taught by Abdullah Ansari of Herat, who was a master from the Persian tradition of Sufism. He wrote in his Stations of the Sufi Path, a beautiful teaching about different levels of the moment as understood by levels of meditators, initiates.
God, the Most High, says, “Then did you come hither as ordained, O Moses!” (20:40). ―Abdullah Ansari of Herat, Stations of the Sufi Path
Moses was a prophet, but he also symbolizes the principle of liberated will: a consciousness that knows how to act here and now. And in the path of initiation, Moses is associated with the causal body: the body of will power within the sixth dimension, nirvana, the sphere of Tiphereth on the Tree of Life.
It is that type of will which is liberated that knows how to perform miracles, feats of magic, which is in the positive sense, the control of elements of nature, in accordance with the will of God. So while Muslims reject anything resembling magic or magical ceremony, the truth is that the prophets were all magicians. They represented for us the magic of the Being, the magic of a purified will.
So "Then did you come hither as ordained, O Moses!" (20:40).
Meaning, “You obeyed My command,” said the Being, because at that level of a master, one can receive direct knowledge and know what to do. In our level we tend to be very confused. We have an intuition in our heart, but because we don't listen to it. We tend to commit many errors and suffer the consequences.
Let us examine the different levels of the metaphysical moment, waqt:
“The metaphysical moment or time constitutes an instant in which nothing but God can be contained.” ―Abdullah Ansari of Herat, Stations of the Sufi Path
This has to do with being absorbed in divine states, in which we don't identify with anything but that state of bliss of divinity, whether in meditation or even in daily life, which we cultivate little by little.
“The people of the metaphysical moment are three groups. For one, the metaphysical moment is like a flash of lightning, for another, it is lasting, while for another, it is overwhelming.” ―Abdullah Ansari of Herat, Stations of the Sufi Path
These are degrees as indicated by the levels of Sufism, of instruction, of understanding.
There are introductory levels known as Shari’ah, the exoteric, the law of ethics, discipline, restraint of mind.
There is an intermediate path known as Tariqa, the mesoteric level. Tariqa can also refer to a Sufi school, and there are different Tariqas that provide the knowledge of Sufism.
Then there is an advanced knowledge or wisdom, Haqiqah / Marifah.
So for one, the metaphysical moment is like a flash of lightning for those in the introductory level. In the beginning of our path, we get insight, little by little, like a flash of lightning. We have moments of intuition and understanding, which are spontaneous. They emerge and they vanish quickly. However, we become inspired because we realize that we are perceiving God at our level, in a very basic way. This is the very beginnings of practice, which we cultivate through ethics, Shari'ah and meditation.
For the middle group, it is lasting, because for those who are really working seriously in Tariqa, a path or discipline, the mesoteric level, are making their intuitions and experiences much more consistent. Therefore the light lasts longer for them, because they are generating more light.
But for the advanced initiates, the Prophets, the Gods, the metaphysical moment is overwhelming, because that state is constant for them. This is the level of Beings like Prophet Muhammad, Moses, Jesus, Samael Aun Weor.
So obviously most of us will be in the introductory level. We gain insights here and there. We do so by learning to follow our intuition and our ethics as best we can, so that we can get more wisdom and light.
But the intermediate levels and the advanced levels are for those who are really practicing daily, seriously, for an extensive period of time.
The Three Degrees of the Moment
Abdullah Ansari of Herat also elaborates on these three stages and what they entail―from the introductory, the intermediate, and advanced levels.
For the introductory level, practitioners, “The moment that is like a flash of lightning is purifying, washing away defects.” ―Abdullah Ansari of Herat, Stations of the Sufi Path
In the beginning, we have to learn to wash away defects. We have to observe ourselves in the day and at night, or when we practice retrospection meditation: getting comprehension like a flash of lightning and purifying our psyche. For after comprehension comes annihilation, when working with the Divine Mother, Al-Baqarah, the sacred cow mentioned in the second surah of the Qur’an.
“The moment that is lasting is awe-inspiring and keeps one occupied.” ―Abdullah Ansari of Herat, Stations of the Sufi Path
So as we are working with the death of the ego, with Tariqa, our metaphysical moments are ecstasies. They become lasting, awe inspiring and keep us occupied. What does it mean to be occupied? It means that, whether physically or the internal planes, we are awake. We are busy. I have known missionaries in Gnosis, in our tradition, who have had many beautiful samadhis, many experiences, and personally when I have been in such states, I have been very occupied in what I have been experiencing in the astral plane, the mental plane, etc. This fills us with awe.
People who are unconscious and asleep are lazy. They are not occupied. They are unconscious. They go to bed for eight hours and wake up in the morning without awareness of what happened. This is the level of profound sleep, the path of ignorance. When we have those experiences we become filled with awe, but that light only emerges and sustains based on purification, Shari'ah, ethics.
"The moment that is overwhelming destroys and annihilates." ―Abdullah Ansari of Herat, Stations of the Sufi Path
So the moment of annihilation and destruction is of the self. This is the path of Haqiqah / Marifah, in which all sense of self is lost in the Being. This is the experience of the Truth in the highest degrees of the Tree of Life, the highest sephiroth of that diagram.
Let us examine the other requisites and degrees in the moment.
"The moment like a flash of lightning arises from contemplative reflection (fikrat)." ―Abdullah Ansari of Herat, Stations of the Sufi Path
For the beginner level, that flash of intuition and lightning comes about through self-observation in meditation, contemplative reflection, or serene reflection mentioned in the writings of Samael Aun Weor. We have to contemplate ourselves and reflect daily.
"The moment that is lasting arises from delight in divine remembrance and invocation." ―Abdullah Ansari of Herat, Stations of the Sufi Path
So what does it mean to feel delight in divine remembrance and invocation? It means that we have our true joy through the work, when we are consistent, when we are defined.
That wisdom lasts in us as we take delight in the Gnostic work, when we love the Gnostic esoteric work above all things, when we invoke God every instant of our life, asking for understanding―praying for wisdom, moment-by-moment, instant-by-instant.
"The moment that is overwhelming arises from the audition of spiritual vision." ―Abdullah Ansari of Herat, Stations of the Sufi Path
This is the level of Marifah / Haqiqah: Knowledge and Truth.
The moment that is overwhelming emerges from the audition of spiritual vision, from hearing and seeing the superior worlds, not only just from the lower sephiroth of the Tree of Life, but the top trinity and beyond. If you look at the Kabbalah, you remember that we have ten spheres―three trinities and then the lower sphere Malkuth, which is the physical body.
The levels of Sufism relate to the Tree of Life in these trinities.
The lower triangle, Yesod, Hod, and Netzach relate to our ethics (Shari’ah) because it is in those spheres where the ego manifests. They learn to control Netzach, our mind; Hod, our emotions; Yesod, our sexual energy. That is working with Shari'ah, the law, when we work with those elements consciously.
Tariqa, “the wisdom that lasts,” relates to the middle trinity: Chesed, Geburah, Tiphereth.
Chesed, the Being, the Spirit, the Innermost, Mercy; Geburah, divine consciousness; and Tiphereth, the human soul. This is the path of Tariqa, the heart, when we really remember God at that level.
And lastly, spiritual vision, which is the height: Haqiqah, the Truth and Marifah, Knowledge, relates to the top trinity of the Tree of Life. Al-Haqq can relate to Kether, Chokmah, Binah: supreme wisdom, intelligence, and the glory of divinity. But also Marifah, which is knowledge, relates with the sphere of Da’ath, alchemy, Allah-Khemia: to fuse with Allah.
If you are interested in learning more about how Sufism speaks about alchemy, you could study our lecture, Divine Love on chicagognosis.org, especially the course: The Sufi Path of Self Knowledge, from which is listed.
"The moment that is overwhelming arises from the audition of spiritual vision." ―Abdullah Ansari of Herat, Stations of the Sufi Path
Audition refers to hearing, and usually the Sufis speak about spiritual dance and listening to beautiful music with recitations of the Qur’an and other Sufi poetry.
This verse also has something much more profound related to it. What is spiritual audition? It has to do with, again recitation, the verb, with music: all that relates to the sphere of Da’ath on the Tree of Life, the hidden sephirah, which is the origin of spiritual vision: the science and mysteries of the perfect matrimony.
To reach those supreme heights of the spiritual moment, to know how to work with the highest degrees in the moment, obviously one has to be married. So that one becomes annihilated by the presence of God through alchemy, which we will explain progressively in this course, but also we have explained in other courses too on chicagognosis.org.
"That which is like a flash of lightning makes one oblivious to the world and illuminates one's recollection of the hereafter." ―Abdullah Ansari of Herat, Stations of the Sufi Path
So when we have intuitions and understandings, here and now, we reflect more on the course of our life. It illuminates our hopes and our understandings of where we would like to be―where we aspire to on the Tree of Life, which is the hereafter, the superior worlds. We become oblivious to the negativities and the ignorance of the world, and therefore, contemplate a higher truth: a higher reality from experience. That is the, again, Shari'ah, the path of the beginner, which leads us through the secret path, Tariqa, towards the heights, Haqiqah.
"The moment that is lasting will keep one engaged in itself rather than preoccupied with the hereafter, until the Truth becomes evident." ―Abdullah Ansari of Herat, Stations of the Sufi Path
What is interesting is for the beginners, we all want to go to heaven. We all want to go to the top of the Tree of Life, and we don't want to be down here. We don't want to be in the hell realms, so to speak. However, those who are really working with meditation, Tariqa, who are in “the moment that lasts,” when they are really awakening consciousness here and now, they'd rather be engaged in their work than preoccupied with the hereafter, because they understand from experience that to get to that point, they have to really work seriously―to be concerned with our daily life.
For as Samael Aun Weor mentioned, "Initiation is our own life, lived intensely, with rectitude and with love." These initiates who are really serious would rather be preoccupied with the death of the ego, engaged in the work itself, and not be preoccupied with salvation in some other world. They know that they have to get there by work, “until the Truth becomes evident.”
"The moment that is overwhelming eliminates the conditioned habits of the human state, so that the transcendent Truth alone abides." ―Abdullah Ansari of Herat, Stations of the Sufi Path
This is the path of Haqiqah / Marifah: those moments in which all the self is lost, annihilated, and only the Being is present in the soul.
These are the states of Prophets, the moments of our Prophet, which are very elevated. Of course, we can taste those levels if we are meditating, if we learn, first of all, to contemplate ourselves, here and now. Of course, the moment is always divided in different ways, according to the path of initiation, and according to a level of being. In order to explore this topic further, I invite you to ask questions.
Questions and Answers
Question: My question is, I would like to know what will be the best attitude for someone who is trying to stay alert. But, you know, its is going back and forth, back and forth, you know, so sometimes you know the feeling of discouragement wants to take it away. So what will be the best attitude for someone who is in that situation and would like to keep on going?
Instructor: That is a good question. Prayer is fundamental. Prayer is essential. When we feel weak and discouraged, we have to remember our experiences, when we acted virtuously, when we acted consciously for the benefit of others. We have to really reflect on our victories, things we have done well with, our virtues. It is not enough just to meditate on the death of the ego, but the contemplate right action. Because the more we see that we are capable of acting uprightly, the more we realize that we are capable of doing this work, that it can be done.
It is very easy in this knowledge to become pessimistic. Many people see the ego and become terrified at how vast and big it is―and get discouraged. But that is not an accurate depiction of our capacities for change. To really see how much work we have to do, it is important that we recognize that we do need a lot of work, but at the same time that shouldn't mean we become morbid, pessimistic, doubtful of our abilities.
The reality is, as we are having experiences internally, we gain flashes of lightning, inspirations, understandings, which keep pushing us to change. Of course, in the beginning those moments are like flashes of inspiration. They are not lasting yet. But in order to progress from the stage of Shari'ah to Tariqa, instead of going back and forth in our practice, we have to develop consistency, to really work regardless of whether or not we think we see results. Because the results will emerge spontaneously in our day to day, instant by instant life. Moment by moment. Little by little. And not to get discouraged, because of course, it is not easy to change, given the magnitude of our faults. But we also should not be one-sided and think with shame, "Oh I am such a negative bad person." But to realize we have the virtues of God inside. As small as that may be, remember that even David killed Goliath. The Essence, the soul, killed the giant.
I recommend meditating and praying and reflecting upon the virtues of your soul―taking the time to imagine and reflect on those moments in your life in which you acted virtuously, even when it was difficult to do so, because that gives us hope. Hope is important, to have hope in ourselves and divinity, in our abilities.
So it's necessary to be balanced in meditations, but also pray a lot for that help, because you gain help in the moment, when we pray, in those moments in which we are tested. When I have been in my current job, receiving a lot of difficulties, and I can feel my ego wanting to surge and act and affect the people I work with, I pray for a lot of help, for serenity. And I have been able to find through my meditations and my self-observations, not only the ego that I must work on, but also the virtuous qualities that I need to enact in those moments.
Meditation and self-observation, in the moment, go hand-in-hand. We deepen our understanding through prayer. To pray sincerely. Ask for your Divinity to help you. You don't need a formula in order to receive help or to ask for it, but simply with whatever longings you feel. You can ask, and I recommend take your question and your prayers to meditation, and then in that way, fall asleep, and examine your dreams for the answers. In that way, we gain experiences, more of those lightning flashes, so to speak, so that we continue to develop light.
It is not enough just to reflect on the bad. We have to reflect on the good in ourselves too, because that wouldn't be realistic.
Question: I was wondering if you would say more on what you were saying about. If you are enjoying a moment, then you are enjoying. If you're sorrowful then you are in sorrow. Can you speak about the difference between questioning where you are in and examining where you are? Sometimes I feel like in examining where I am, I am sort of questioning it. But it masks as examination, but sometimes there's almost a doubt within, that examination.
Instructor: It is stated by the Sufis how the “now” is the instant. We can be occupied with states of happiness or sorrow, because even the soul, can also experience states of remorse, of regrets for wrong action, which is the different kind of pain than just the ego not being satisfied.
So examination in the strict sense has to do with looking with the consciousness here and now. One thing is the intellect labeling and doubting what we see. But unfortunately, because our intellect tends to be much more developed in us than our conscience, we have that center of gravity in the mind.
Examination is nothing to do with the intellect. As Samael Aun Weor mentions, the intellect can give itself the luxury of labeling a defect and passing it to other levels of the subconsciousness, or the unconsciousness, or infraconsciousness. Real examination has to do with seeing the mind for what it is through conscious perception [muhasabah: inner accounting]. But we can only do that by being alert to what is going on―really examining and seeing without judgment, without labeling, without repressing what the contents of our psychology are. Examination has nothing to do with saying “This is an ego, pride,” or “This is an ego, vanity,” etc., but really seeing its qualities.
Judgment―we have to reserve for later in meditation and judgment can only occur once we have fully seen an ego in action and have comprehended it in meditation, because in the moment we can see egos in our daily state, defects. However, meditation is needed to go deeper.
So, examination is twofold. Self-observation, first, is what gives us the food and the fuel for meditation. And then judgment is the comprehension we get as we are meditating―when we really understand why a certain defect behaves or acts a certain way. Where did it come from? What is its conditioning? This is the knowing “the how and the why of the mind” according to Samael Aun Weor.
This is examination. comprehension, understanding. But of course, in the beginning, it is difficult because self-observation is a faculty in us that is atrophied. We gain strength with it more and more as we discipline ourselves to pay attention, instant by instant, moment by moment.
The Gnostic Academy of Chicago
Free public lectures, meditation classes, courses, articles, and lecture transcriptions.