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Everything we experience is rooted in our state of consciousness. So it’s essential that we understand the current state of our consciousness and how to work to change it for the better.

Usually, our daily experience is a continuous flow of reactions to our diverse circumstances. All the impressions of life bring about a response that we experience as thoughts, emotions, or instincts. The problem is that such reactions appear without our prior endorsement – they just appear seemingly on their own and out of nowhere.

This is such a common and pervasive experience that, normally, we believe it to be our true, fundamental nature.

The reality of our true nature is much different. It turns out, we are exceptionally confused about this, and this sustains a lot of problems and discontentment in our life.

If we want to know, directly, our true nature, we need to learn meditation. This is extremely important because the person who recognizes the nature of their consciousness has the vantage point for immense psychological transformation.

Instead of recognizing the consciousness itself, we are constantly identified or enmeshed within what the consciousness perceives. This is like confusing light for the objects it illuminates.

What can we perceive right now? We can break it down into a few categories:

  1. Our physical body and its sensations,
  2. instincts,
  3. emotions,
  4. and thoughts.

Amongst this of course is consciousness itself, which is that which perceives it all.

It’s important for us to develop a practice of meditation because nothing can replicate what you can get out of meditation. When the state of meditation occurs, consciousness is unconditioned, awake, free, in its natural state. In such a state, we have legitimate peace.

Meditation is more than learning how to relax and focus. To think that meditation is about relaxation and focusing, is like believing marathon running is about tying up shoe laces. It has something to do with the basis of the practice, but anyone who holds this view is simply confused.

Let's say you like to garden, and it makes you feel much better afterwards. You like to ride your bike or go for a walk. It may calm you; it feels pleasant. It's a very healthy thing. However, when people say, “Riding my bike is my meditation,” it also shows a lack of understanding.

Meditation is specifically putting to rest everything that isn't consciousness. It is a skill you develop with repeated practice. It is scientific in the sense there are causes and effects which you learn to work with, and by doing so your consciousness develops. If you learn to ride a bike, you experience the cause and effect of how you maneuver, how you pedal, how you steer. You learn what works and what causes you to fall. In the same way, you learn meditation by practicing a lot. You need some instruction, but more than anything, it is practice.

So then, why devote so much time to practicing meditation? Imagine a chief who wants to cook great meals for others, but never sharpens her knives. How do you expect to cut through your problems with a dull mind? If you want to be sharp, if you want to penetrate into the problems of your life and change a person, then learn to meditate.

Our consciousness has two fundamental capacities. First, the ability to perceive, to see something. Second, the ability to understand what has been perceived.

We are perceiving all the time. When we're physically present, we're perceiving the external world through the five senses. We also have our inner experience that we perceive. When we go to sleep, assuming we even recall our dreams, we perceive those as well.

When we try to meditate, we first try to put the body to rest, and then we perceive different things going on inside of us. That is the consciousness perceiving our internal states. We get easily wrapped up in what's going on inside. We often sense an automatic flow of thoughts and feelings. It’s common to struggle and lose focus because of that. When we lose our focus, the term we use is that we get identified with those things.

Identification occurs constantly, to different degrees. We see it especially when we have racing thoughts, when we're anxious. When we're worried about something that might happen, or thinking about something that did happen, and, we are (as consciousness) pulled into that. If we attempting to meditate, we may be first perceiving it perhaps somewhat distantly, but then we are compelled, almost instantly, to jump on that train of thoughts.

When we sit to meditate, the common experience is that some random thoughts are just there already. Because we are disengaging from the exterior world, the presence of these thoughts seem to intensify. Suddenly we are thinking about that situation with more intensity, and along with it, some feelings emerge, and it's like going on a ride of which we have little control.  Our fears and attachments drive this train along all the different options and scenarios, playing them all out. After exhausting the myriad options, we come back to the station again, to the starting point. It is extremely interesting to contemplate what happens next: Usually that same train takes off again, and we start thinking the same thoughts, having the same feelings once again, in a loop.

Even though we think about it, again and again, we continue to feel the same way. We remain identified with it. In this situation, we are perceiving something, but we're not in control of what's going on. The procession – the train – of thoughts and feelings are not solving the underlying mechanism of discontent that has taken hold of us.

The more we work with meditation, the more we can recognize that process and break the loop. This is because we begin to recognize (perceive) the pattern of mental and emotional states occurring within us.

Without working with awakening our consciousness, we don't have a clear cognizance of the play that's going on inside of us. We are just getting pulled from place to place, like a weary battlefield soldier in the fog of war.

Physically, we have a single body. We are just standing or sitting in this one place, but internally, the situation is different. We vaguely wander from idea to idea, forgetting about ourselves and eventually we fall into dreams. The consciousness is there, but asleep, identified with the content of the dream.

We forget ourselves. We forget that our actual root nature is not any of that stuff – not thoughts, emotions, or instincts. All those things are mere expressions, exponents, vehicles of our root nature. We get identified with those things that are projected out of us - as if we are that.

So then, what are we? We are the consciousness, that which perceives and understands. If we make efforts in practicing meditation, and we make effort in observing life as it occurs in our waking day, it is like keeping the lights on in our house. We then begin to understand what's going on inside of our house.

Our mind is like a knotted ball of string. It is bizarrely complicated. And we don't know how it really functions, we're just caught up inside of it. When you meditate, all of that is presented immediately to your awareness, and becomes an obstacle to remain in your practice of meditation. The only way to remain on the path to meditation is to not get ensnared in all this craziness. The effort you must engage in is to understand how it's all operating, why you're getting pulled into these things. Why do we jump onto a train ride of thoughts and feelings we don’t enjoy and gets us nowhere?

Our inner state is impoverished. We have a poverty of understanding about our own nature. We unfortunately believe that all the craziness we see, all the dullness, the incoherence, that is our true nature! Of course, this is wrong.

If we begin to meditate, we will begin to develop our inner sense. We will begin to see that our crazy mind is our condition, but not our root nature. At the root we are consciousness, and we can develop perception and understanding at deeper and deeper levels. As our consciousness develops, we achieve higher and higher states of consciousness. Our ability to perceive things deepens, it becomes more subtle, and our understanding develops. We can understand new things about ourselves, we can have intuitions about the way the world is. This is why it is so important to meditate.

Tree of Life 2.0 plain

At the bottom of the Tree of Life is Malkuth, which is the physical body. Related to the physical body is our vital energy and our sexual impulse (Yesod), our emotions (Hod), and our mind (Netzach). We can directly experience all of that, right now, when we sit to meditate.

If we go beyond that, a little bit above to Tiphereth – that is when we start talking about consciousness itself.

When you sit to meditate, your intention must be to sit still. Just like a snow globe, where all the pieces of snow are gently falling to the bottom, extreme clarity begins to develop. That clarity allows us to penetrate deeper into our consciousness.

That's what we intend to do, but what usually happens though? Perhaps, we don't have a lot of clarity, it's difficult, we get distracted. We don't want to think, but we are thinking. We don’t want to be trapped in emotions, but we can’t help being pushed and pulled around by them.

We don't want to forget to meditate, but we lose ourselves, and fall asleep.

In short: we are beguiled by our own inner state.

Where is our willpower to stay in meditation? We lose the ability to activate it. That is because our will is actually captured by a million little pieces inside of us, which in sum is called the ego. Your ego is really egos. Imagine having 10,000 bottles and placing a little bit of consciousness in each one of those bottles and capping them. We are trapped in 10,000 little cages. Each of them is a little “self”, and they have their own little programming, an algorithm, a way of feeling and thinking, which plays out constantly.

So, we try to meditate. We want to sit still, but all the parts of our consciousness are trapped in their various types of conditionings. Each conditioning is a different bottle that part of us is trapped within. Thus, we think even though we don’t want to. We feel, even though we would rather not.

We don't have direct control because we have a dispersed mind, a diffusion of contradictory willpower. Through meditation, if you've become successful, you begin to integrate into a single volition, and that becomes your basis of concentration. You can actually get out of your emotions and your mind, and you can sit with pure consciousness. When it is in that state, if you don't want to think, you don't think. Thought is only brought about intentionally, consciously.

This is different than trying to suppress thoughts. This is not trying to not-think, but rather the natural state of equipoise where no thoughts are occurring.

Such a state is true mental peace. Through that experience you realize it is the natural state consciousness.

So, what we have is an unnatural state. Even though what we have right now is the common state, it is not the natural one. What we have is a state that has been conditioned.

We have a conditioned and mechanized mind. When someone slanders you, what happens? Do you feel hurt? Exactly how did the hurt travel from the lips of the one speaking into your heart and mind? Or, is that such hurt feelings were something generated within you? Indeed, that is the cause. Our own conditioning generates the hurt feelings, not the other person. We are programmed to feel a certain way when someone else says something we deem “hurtful”.

When you see someone who might have the thing we want, the prestige or the job, or the attention of others, etc., in such case you are not intending to feel jealous, but you might notice that you feel like, “oh, I want what that person has.” The jealousy is just there, and we  naively believe that such a thing is our natural state. We believe that jealousy, or that lust, that pride, that anger which erupts, are natural and acceptable aspects of our mind.

They are not though, these are conditionings of the natural state.

Through our practice of meditation we can begin to approach the natural state of true and simple peace. This is what everyone in the world is looking for, all in mistaken ways usually. Such peace is wonderful, but really this level, which we can call tranquility or equipoise, is just the basis of our goal, not the endpoint. From here we begin to access intuition and direct perception of the truth.

Far beyond that, are states of a cosmic or universal characteristic, and beyond that, is what we call the Absolute, where all creation emerges from.

This whole scenario of life, this whole unfoldment of the Tree of Life, it may seem confusing, or it may seem beautiful. Whatever it may seem to you, it is not here by accident, it is here for a reason. All of these unfoldments on the Tree of Life are here so that we can realize our potential as consciousness.

Let us now talk about two Sanskrit words: Paramartha and Paranishpanna.

The whole point of our existence, the whole reason the Absolute manifests, into all the dimensions of the universe which unfold, is to allow us to achieve our full potential. To understand absolute truth. To achieve absolute happiness.

Consciousness has that ability. Nothing else does. Our physical body, our vital energies, our emotions, our mind, can never experience that. This doesn't mean that they're useless, they're useful in their own orbit, in their own level, and they're very necessary to scaffold up into the state we have currently possess. But when we stay in our current state, we get trapped by them, the scaffolding now becomes a cage, and we become identified as if our emotions and our thoughts are the higher truth.

All of us emerge from what we call the uncreated light. When you research any religion, light is always related to spirit and consciousness. Just like light emerging in a dark room, it illuminates, and then you can perceive. Remember John 1:5: And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

All of us are like a drop in the great ocean of the Absolute. When we are deposited into this world it is like a ray of light emerging out of that absolute. That ray of light descends down the Tree of Life until finally we have physical existence. So, we are here physically, and we have little bit of free will to make choices in life. We only have a tiny bit understanding – we are mostly confused. We are very naive. So, what happens to all of us is we make mistakes. And those mistakes have repercussions, and those repercussions are in our soul, your psyche, or psychology. Those repercussions are the conditionings, the bottles, we spoke of before, which disperse our will, thought, and emotions.

Because of all this we fall into very low states of consciousness. Now, it's our duty to find the way out.

Now let’s explain these various levels of consciousness in more detail. Plato of course talked about four states of consciousness in his allegory of The Cave.

The lowest level is Eikasia. Eikasia, in Greek literally relates to images and imagination. We must understand this type of imagination is extremely subjective and negative. Eikasia is related to infraconscious, unconscious and subconscious dreams. It relates to delusions, projected illusions that we identify with.

The reality of this level of consciousness is shocking. This type of behavior emerges often when a mob mentality takes over. Sometimes in riots, when people get charged with powerful forces that are going on in the group dynamic, people end up doing terrible things they would never imagined they were capable of doing.

In these cases, impulses emerge from the depths of Eikasia. We can find examples of this behavior everywhere in society, but we fail to understand that those factors exist within all of us. When that level of consciousness takes hold in a person, horrific crimes are the outcome. Sometimes we see that type of behavior in our nightmares. Those nightmares are happening, of course, in a different type of dimension, and we are perceiving them.

How interesting it is too, a lot of people don't really remember their dreams, but when you have a nightmare, you can often remember it easily. You perceive it vividly, right?

Something very active is going on there. We might be running away from the monster, or whatever that nightmare is about. Now, of course that monster is us, that is our own psychology, that's our own conditioning coming after us, engaging us, tormenting us. It's brutal.

Above Eikasia is Pistis. Pistis is related to beliefs. Its primary characteristic is irrational beliefs. Pistis is the common state that we are all in. It is subconscious and unconscious.

If you're not maintaining conscious awareness, this is where you are at normally. Now of course, it's a little bit more complicated because we are conscious enough (usually) to respond when someone calls our name.

We are conscious enough to get up and do our daily activities, there is some amount of awareness, but it is a very thin veneer. Right below that veneer are the stream of unconscious thoughts occurring all day, all the things that we are wondering about, going on in “autopilot.” All of that is a type of activity, which is a type of wasted energy.

We are very mechanical. We are very mechanized, like a machine. People say, “Such and such really knows how to push my buttons.” Ok, but why do you have those buttons? Are those buttons your true self? No, but it is our condition, it is our mechanism.

What is rarely understood is that we can analyze and change our condition. All of the machinery inside of us, all of that conditioning, can be undone with understanding.

The common state of being today is one of distraction, dreaming: the state of Pistis. Yet, understanding that one is in the state of Pistis is extremely elusive. At first glance we always believe we're above this state. We always believe we are conscious and awake.

This is because we have a major blind spot in our own psychology. It's extremely easy to go about believing that we are in a certain way without ever actually investigating. If we have never taken the time to look inside of ourselves, then we have just built up a little story about who we are, what we're capable of, what we're going to do in the future, etc. Then we just reinforce that story.

It's extremely easy, especially as we get older, to fall into our routine. We don't need to experience new types of things, we kind of know our story, we know who we are, we know how to act, we just sit in that orbit and it's completely mechanical. We are stuffed to the gills with many beliefs that we have not challenged.

The third state of consciousness is called Dianoia. To achieve this state is really the effort that we need to be making. Dianoia is related to our self-awareness. It begins with the capacity to see ourselves psychologically. To be aware of our psychological dialectic. This word can be broken down: dia- is though or across two sides, and lectic has to do with words or discussion. In simple terms, dialectic to investigate and understand the two opposite sides of something.

We need to see our polarities. We need to see our contradictions. We need to understand that there is a reason why we have the current thread of thoughts running in our mind right now. Our state of mind didn't just happen for no reason. There's a psychology behind it, and we behave in accordance with our conditioning.

We must become reflective and see the way that our mind processes. We should become aware of the pendulums that are swinging inside of us. Thoughts and emotions thrash back and forth. One day we love the person we are with, and the next day we hate them. One day we are content with our job, the next day we want to leave. One day we think we are the best, the following day we are the worst.

Such expressions are very binary states, very superficial ways of seeing the world.

Instead of this, we need to pull apart the dialectic, which means instead of going back and forth, we see both sides of it. We need see both sides of an argument within ourselves. Just because we have a run of thoughts, or just because we have a powerful emotion doesn't mean we get caught up in that and run with it. That's just one side. Instead, you have to observe it, where it is coming from, and also see it's opposite within as well.

Instead of being identified with the content of your mind, observe the process, the cause and effect.

To do that takes a psychological balance. Normally our instinct is to become identified with the first thing that appears (a thought, emotion, etc.), and we just want to run with that. To have balance is to see the impulse, but instead of acting mechanically we act with consciousness. This action may or may not have anything to do with the initial impulse. Later, in meditation, we have to comprehend the impulse.

Let us take an example. You walk into a room with several other people already in conversation, and they stop talking for a moment and glance in your direction, and you feel a certain impulse. Perhaps you feel like someone's judging you. Very quickly a flood of thoughts and emotions occur in relation to the impression you have in that moment. Without effort you have a reaction, perhaps only privately. Suddenly you have a stream of thoughts to defend ourselves against them, to judge them back, etc. Meanwhile, you don’t even know what any of them were actually thinking…

The dialectic begins with a thesis. We have that immediately; we have an impulse in this case to be defensive. Our mechanical nature is pushing us to be that way. The antithesis (the opposite) is to observe the impulse consciously. But, to observe it, you must be awake, you have to be in Dianoia, in self-cognizance, to see all of the mechanicity.

All those algorithmic ways that we behave in, they are not doing us any good. They are just ways that we have been programmed to behave based on the ignorance of past experiences.

If you are in Dianoia, you are observing the back and forth of your own mind throughout the day. You are being self-observant.

We can think of the dialectic as thesis, antithesis, and synthesis.

  1. Thesis: the mechanical impulses of thinking, feeling, doing.
  2. Antithesis: observation of one’s inner state by the consciousness.
  3. Synthesis: behavior based upon conscious comprehension.

Dianoia is a balanced and mindful existence, observing our thoughts, observing our emotions, and observing our impulses, our instincts and our physical behavior, to be present, in what we call the three brains: intellectual, emotional and or motor-instinctual-sexual brain, in any moment.

If you observe yourself, you'll see those three centers could be acting in different ways: thinking something, feeling something, and with different motor/instinctual/sexual impulses too. As we observe the world the impressions of life strike upon us. We are like a gymnast on a balance beam, and the impressions of life strike us, and activate our three brains, which causes us to lose our balance.

We must develop balance if we want to overcome our problems. The balance comes from our consciousness. The consciousness can perceive it all. If we are centered in the consciousness, we can see the rising and falling of these different types of energy. We can recognize when those impulses are very subjective, irrational, diluted. You can see that in yourself. Consciousness has the capacity to dissolve an impulse and transform it into a conscious type of choice in life.

When we do this, we are not being run by our lower instincts and impulses. By doing this we are beginning to live in what we would consider human consciousness.

We can say that the lower levels (Eikasia and Pistis) are better classified as sub-human or animalistic. Yet recall, Eikasia and Pistis is where essentially everyone lives their entire life.

With Dianoia, we are starting to get a glimpse of the natural state of consciousness.

There is a great struggle to achieve and maintain self-cognizance because our inner state is fractured. It is broken up and pushed around constantly, just like when you have a magnet. Things get pushed and pulled into the magnet. All the impressions that we have push and pull at the five centers. Our mind gets pushed and pulled. Our emotions are getting pushed and pulled. The motor, instinctive, and sexual centers are getting pushed and pulled. Normally we just accept those things as immutable blunt facts, and so we just go along for the ride of our psychology.

However, when we begin to awaken, we can see these activities for what they are and remember what we are: consciousness. The vast majority of that activity (all the reactions to the impressions) are wasteful, useless, unnecessary. Life becomes a lot simpler when we have recognized our true state. That true state is not missing anything. It doesn't need anything psychological from the world. It doesn't need approvals, doesn't need to praised by others and it is not impacted if someone has a negative view of us. It doesn’t need all of these things we think we need.

Why do we strive for all the things we have in life? Truly, we are in a desperate search for security, ultimate safety, and love. But where do we find such things?

Where we find it is in our consciousness. When we awaken, we become a source of love to the world, instead of searching for it out there. We find it within.

Dianoia is the state we must be striving for every day. If you don't remember anything else about this lecture, remember that.

Where we commonly are is Pistis, but where spiritual work begins is in Dianoia. If you're not achieving self-cognizance, self-awareness, self-observation, you could be doing all sorts of things that look spiritual, but you are not getting closer to the spirit.

In the Greek system, the Fourth State of consciousness is called Nous. Nous can be translated as intellect, but this is not a good translation for modern day. Nous is not the intellect, however you might call it our intelligence. That is something different than the intellect. Intellect is rationality or thinking about things. Intelligence is our capacity to truly know something. The intellect can only compare relative differences about things, but it never actually can get to the truth. Without possessing the truth, we only have beliefs and ideas.

Some of the most intellectually refined people are stuck in Pistis because they have intellectually fortified their beliefs, and it is very difficult to get out of that.

Consciousness is different than the intellect. Consciousness is experiential, it is our experience. When we sit to meditate, if we actually get to the state of meditation, we get out of Dianoia and we enter into Nous. In that moment we enter into the true state of meditation.

The true state of meditation is not simply sitting down and relaxing. It is not listening to a guided relaxation. That is not meditation. Of course, it is good to relax. In fact, it is necessary to reach relaxation before meditation.

Actual meditation is getting out of your physical senses, out of your thinking, and out of your emoitions. To reside within consciousness: that's meditation. When you are in that place you are at the lower levels of Nous.

When you meditate you begin to develop true cognizance. You begin to see the truth in different ways, and you begin to access authentic intuition.

We are all familiar with the depiction of a lightbulb turning on within someone’s mind. Something clicks, something turns on, which represents some type of insight. Remember, only consciousness has the capacity to actually understand something. Nothing else has that. One thing is to know about something conceptually, intellectually, but it is something else to know it consciously.

What is really happening when the lightbulb turns on? You may have had this occur to you: you have been told about some fact for a long time. Something about yourself or something about someone else, but then one day, at some point, something clicks and suddenly you have a great insight into what that fact truly is. It now "clicks." That which you thought you already knew, you now understand much much more deeply as a living thing. Some calls this an breakthrough. After having this type of expereince, whether in meditation or in normal life, you can now describe what you now know using the same exact words, yet your understanding is something quite deeper. That is understanding. Now the the consciousness has understanding of it, whereas prior, the intellect was just playing around with it. If you reflect on this you will see the difference between intellectually understanding something and actually understanding it.

If you meditate, that type of experience becomes a lot more regular. During meditation, information is coming into you, you are receiving some aspect of truth. This is how you gain deep understanding about yourself, about your condition, in order to continue do this work.

It could be a very simple thing, perhaps you have a relationship with a family member that's been extremely frustrating and difficult. Suddenly, one day you understand what is happening in that relationship at a deeper level. It doesn't change that person, but you suddenly can understand the dynamic and you have more peace in relationship to that. Such understanding gives you greater peace. Likewise, you are no longer identified with that situation.

The problem is that's just one bottle, and there's 10,000 other ones, but little by little we develop. More and more of that peace, happiness, and the ability to access higher states of consciousness occurs.

infinite states of consciousness 50pct

Nous in the Greek system is extremely broad and encompasses the vast range of awakened consciousness.

As we stated before, if we begin to establish the state of meditation, we are entering into the lower levels of Nous. That develops into more deep and mystical types of experiences. Beyond a certan threshold, you cross over what we can call human consciousness, to something much more broad and related to our inner divinity. Beyond our human consciousness we have what we call our divine consciousness. This is related to the sephiroth aboth Tiphereth, Geburah and Chesed. All of the information we recieve in meditation is from those superior sephiroth, but as the state of meditaiton becomes more integrated and stable, the level of intution and understanding deepens greatly.  The consciousness, when it's active, when it is not caught up in all of our lower aspects, can easily perceive and receive that type of information from our inner spirit.

As we develop and go into deeper levels of meditation our experience goes deeper and deeper into that level of consciousness, of Nous. It is in the same way as when Moses found the burning bush. It is a symbol of being face to face with your divine intelligence. Most religions symbolize God as either light or fire or both. That inner fire that we get closer and closer to, as we become more and more awake, brings about what's called a samadhi. And we call it an objective mystical experience because it is something related to the truth.

That's what we mean by objective mystical experience. This is what every spiritual aspirant secretly desires and wants. A very vivid experience, seeing something, either about yourself, or about some aspect of reality.

It is good to have that yearning because we all deserve that type of experience. We have that right to have that type of experience, and we all have that ability. We all have that potential. But to get there we must eliminate our mystical pride and desires to be something, be someone, to be something more than what we already are.

The divine consciousness is related to our inner spirit, our individual inner spirit, Being, at that level. This is a type of divine experience: knowing that we're not just consciousness, but that we are emanating from a spirit, experiencing that directly.

Our individual spirit, however, is related to something even more abstract. This can be called cosmic or universal consciousness. What we mean by this is the capacity to perceive in any particular spirit. Since our spirit is a drop within the universal spirit of life, if we become aware within cosmic consciousness we can perceive in the perspective of any other particular spirit. You can understand the reality of a different spirit. It's a very abstract universal level of Being. There is no differentiation between any particular point of light. Everything has merged into one. This is a very abstract experience, very far away from our individual sense of self, but, it is something possible in meditation.

This is not the end though. Beyond that is the Absolute. This is the source. From the Absolute, the Ain Soph, emerges a ray of light. Each of us has an Ain Soph, and a “ray” of light which connects us to our source. The Absolute is an ocean of abstract space which is symbolized or illustrated by the mantra OM. It is possible in meditation to go to that place temporarily. You need to have the right conditions, of course. But it should be known and understood that it is possible for us.

It is good to know the very elevated, cosmic, abstract states of Being, but we also need to keep our feet on the ground and be practical. We need to work with Eikasia, Pistis, and Dianoia.

We need to establish ourselves in Dianoia, because, this is the beginning of spiritual work.

When we are established in Dianoia, we have the basis of meditation already present. Meditation is easy and natural. Since we are mostly or entirely in Eikasia and Pistis it is difficult to sit down and meditate. However, we can overcome those obstacles with the right effort.

Our whole daily life is distracted and chaotic. Nevertheless, you can still start to learn how to relax and meditate. Really, before meditation, we must learn how to sit down and not move and actually learn how to relax the body. This is something that seems easy but in reality it is non-trivial and critically important.

From there, we need to learn how to concentrate. Concentration is a difficult word to understand correctly. We have the wrong understanding of concentration. Concentration is mental equipoise, tranquility, keeping attention upon one thing. It is not a state of exertion. 

When concentration deepens, it leads to meditation, which is the reception of information. The information received is conscious. It is not intellectual or emotional information.

The lower the level of consciousness that we normally inhabit, the more challenging it is to get to the state of meditation. During our daily life, if we make the effort, which means to be self-aware, to be mindful, to self-observe then this will help our meditation. It's good to be mindful, for example, while you're eating, and mindful while you're doing the dishes or any other mundane task…

What is more though important is to be mindful of our inner states.

We carry around little bits of all the little things that happened to us, little bits of anxiety, little bits of irritation, of resentment. LIttle bits of self importance. All those little things are accumulating within us. We must become observant of all that. Through that observation, we begin to establish ourselves in Dianoia.

We are using the word established meaning: you're beginning to live at this level. It's one thing to visit, and another thing to be established in it.

The first level is to become a balanced person. All of us, before we are a balanced human being, we tend to be either a more intellectual person, a more instinctual person, or a more emotional person. We tend to want to approach and solve all the problems in life from one of those spheres. If you are intellectual, you are more comfortable staying in the intellect and discounting emotions. Other people are the opposite. They feel strong emotions, and even if it doesn't make sense, they follow them. They're not thinking about it, and later on, they realize it was a mistake and regret what they have done.

We are all unbalanced until we do the work. Each of us are unbalanced in different ways. You only know that when you begin to become self-cognizant and work on your psychology.

When you are established in Dianoia you can actually start walking forward on the path. That is when you start to have the minimum amount of balance, willpower, and capacity to actually walk on the spiritual path. Before that, you are trying to stand up, but you're falling over just like a toddler. Once they learn how to balance upright, they can start to walk.

When we are in dianoia, we are having a balanced life. Life becomes a little bit simpler in some ways. Some of the chaos can recede and we can continue to move forward. Of course, within Dianoia are many levels.

Beyond Dianoia is Nous. To establish ourselves in Nous, that is a tremendous amount of spiritual work. Frankly, it is incomprehensbile to most people what this actually means. We may have some idea of what Nous is, but honesntly, it is impossible without a lot of meditation on the nature of consciousness, to even have a proper concept of that level, let alone to be established in it.

Full establishment in Nous, we can say, is to really to complete the whole spiritual work.

Instead of being fascinated with Nous, we should focus on Dianoia. People think they are already in Dianoia simply because they are interested in spiritual things. This is a huge mistake.

When we begin to be balanced, we start to establish ourselves in Dianoia. When we meditate, we will begin to experience Nous in glimmers. Again, to experience Nous and to be established in Nous are very different. You must do a tremendous amount of work to be established in Nous.

This whole path culminates with the complete truth and complete happiness. Paramartha is complete or absolute truth, and parinishpanna is complete happiness.  The one who completes the path returns all the way back to the source from where the ray of light emerged, which, in Kabbalah is called the Ain Soph. The Ain Soph is at the top of the Kabbalistic Tree of Life.

In the beginning, when we emerge from the Ain Soph, from the uncreated light, we do not have objective knowledge. We do not have perception of the truth, and we don't have authentic happiness.

People say that ignorance is bliss, but in truth, ignorance always leads to suffering. You may not be paying for it today, but you will in the future. Any happiness one is in, due to ignorance, is always temporary. Eventually you are not ignorant about things, because the price of the behavior which stems from ignorance, is pain. Ignorant action sows the seeds of suffering.

Through the whole process of our journey though the cosmos, we inevitably make mistakes. When we learn from them, we develop our consciousness, and we develop our perception of reality. That perception of reality brings us to the perfection of our happiness. The two, perfection and happiness, unite into one thing: Paranishpanna. One returns to the Ain Soph with Paranishpanna. Those who complete the spiritual work return to that place, with all of the factors, all of the understandings, and the wisdom. The whole Tree of Life goes back into the itself and we call that the Ain Soph Paranishpanna.

In this lecture we talked about the whole universe and whole path, but for us the first step is to establish ourselves in Dianoia. Meditation is the most critical and most powerful practice to achieve higher states of consciousness. However, there are two sides of the equation: one is our daily life when we're not meditating, and then actual meditation time when we formally sit for practice. Those two things are directly connected.

We need to be present during the day, which we call self-observation and self-remembering. We also need to meditate whenever convenient (early morning or evening, or any other time). These balance each other out. If you can be present during the day, your meditation practice will be deeper. If you have consistent meditation practice, your self-observation and self-remembering will be stronger.

Of course, we must struggle a lot. Our mental habits are very strong. Our ego is very big. The key is that when we make a mistake, we apply the remedies offered by the teachings. We reflect, analyze, meditate on them.

For example, say you catch yourself having very negative thoughts about another person. If someone cheats you out of a spot in line, for example, do you have to work at it to feel resentful or irritation towards that person? Or, does do those feelings appear without effort? More likely it is the latter.

We take that type of response as the status quo of being human, but it really has nothing to do with our humanity, instead it has to do with our ego, with is animal. If we had no ego, our human nature would shine continuously. Instead of effortless resentments, we would have effortless compassion.

We, of course, have to struggle and fight a lot against all of the negativity we have inside. Not just fight it blindly, not to ignore it or repress it, but to fight with intelligence and comprehension.

If we want to change, if we want to eliminate our ego, we must be practical. We have to work with facts. By this, we are talking about psychological facts. We have to acquire the facts first, and this done by observing our mind, and our overall state of affairs. We have to observe the state of our mind, and the different desires that we constantly follow.

What did you observe when you found yourself offended by another person? What state of mind, what emotion did you experience in that moment? Just the facts, not ideas. What did actually you feel, think, and do?

With that collection of information, you can enter into meditation. You review your psychological facts. Meditation is not for spacing out. We are not meditating get the heck out of here, or to “bliss out.” We need to actually meditate on the facts of our daily life. Most importantly, our psychological facts.

To reach the state of meditation, you need to know how to relax and reach a basic stability, which we mentioned previously, called concentration or equipoise. We have many lectures on how to acheive those states.

In that state, you bring a fact into your meditation. You sit with it but don’t think about it. Simply visualize that fact (some moment in life) and sit with it in meditation. Some are confused by this practice, because it is so utterly simple.

Have you ever been in front of a classical painting or a beautiful sculpture, and truly observed it consciously? You just sit and look at it. You don't think about anything. You just experience what that work of art is. You open up to it. You become attentive, and eventually you will receive something about it. It moves you. You receive something.

That's the way you should observe art. Well, we need to look at these facts of life, and we need to do within the state of meditation, because it is incredibly powerful. Unfortunately these facts are not so beautiful, so there is resistance. We don't really want to see these things, and at first experience we may be overloaded with the impressions of those facts, which leads to our becoming identified with them, and falling out of meditation. But this is why we have to keep working and practicing.

Eventually you will develop more balance and you will be able to recieve something while in the state of meditation. Such a reception is coming from your Inner Spirit. It may not be something you consider hugely revelatory, it may just be a tiny spark of intuition, but those little things add up.

Often, in regard to these facts, we may understand it intellectually. We say, “oh, I shouldn't have done that. I guess I'm a really jealous person.” When we stop there, we are just working with the intellect. We have a superficial, intellectual, understanding. We have no conscious understanding of it. We know how to put the words together, we know rationally such a statement makes sense, but consciously we are impoverished: we don't consciously understand what is going on.  So because of that, we don't change. We stay the same.

Intellectual understanding is superficial. It is like a box with a bunch of stuff in it that we label with some idea or concept. We put “resentful” (as an example) on the box and then kick it the side and try to get on with life. Of course, later we trip over the box again because we have not done anything to comprehend the content of those facts. This is why we need to meditate.

We have to be simple and humble, and not expect big results from a single meditation. Instead, we should have the perspective of planting a seed. A little tiny seed, if you take care of it, eventually something grows out of it in a very natural way. Little by little, eventually from the darkness emerges comprehension. Sometimes it crystalizes very slowly, but it can also can appear very quickly at times like a flash of lightning.

When you have a daily meditation practice is it likely that you will have small peices of intution. Those combine into gigantic rocks of knowledge, which become the foundation for your psychological change. This is much more substantial than mere intellectual ideas, it is what we call comprehension.

In the final step we ask our inner spirit to assist us, to eliminate the aspect of “myself” that you have understood deeply. We ask for the elimination of our ego, the part which we have previously comprehended within meditation.

We must understand that establishment in Dianoia is not simply to become mindful. For example (again) perhaps you enjoy gardening because it centers you and brings you some peace. This is excellent, but do not assume this is Dianoia. Dianoia is related to greater peace, more happiness, but it is a type of peace that is based upon conscious knowledge. In particular, conscious knowledge of oneself.

Of course, continue to do the things that bring you peace, but work on yourself. Observe your inner states and see the dialectic between your unhappiness and happiness, between your pleasures and irritations, between your what is your ideal and what is your real. See how your inner states of mind and emotion swing back and forth based upon external circumstances. Comprehend how your ego works. That is how you establish yourself in Dianoia.

Some dreams are pleasant, but they are not real. Dianoia is based upon intelligence and a correct view of life.

Most of us spend all day thinking, and when we have problems, we think about them more. We must place thought in its place. Some trivial problems can be solved by thinking them out. However, the big problems in life, the ones that persist, cannot be solved by the intellect. So, we have to resist the temptation to think endlessly about our problems. Instead, meditate in silence. Place the problem in your consciousness, rest in awareness and be ready to see something new.