Peace and Where to Find It
If we were to walk through any office building or place of work, we would find that many of the workers look at computer screens with a background image of some peaceful beach or nature scene. The workers gaze at those images, wishing to not be where they are, and dream about being on that beach or in those mountains, at peace, with no stress or worries of any kind.
No one wants to be where they are, so everyone dreams about being somewhere else.
Many people work very hard to save money so they can go to those places for a vacation for a few days. Perhaps for those few days they have some excitement or some distraction, and maybe a bit of peace.
Then they go back to their routine lives, back to the same problems and sufferings, and they dream about one day escaping it again.
The truth is that peace does not come from our external circumstances. No matter how much effort we make to change our external circumstances, peace does not come from there. Peace comes from inside.
Even if you are very wealthy and famous, and have everything that humanity dreams of having, if someone says just the right words to you, you will explode with anger, even violence, and can even kill someone... so, the fame and money brings no peace of mind.
People who live on those famous beaches and resorts still commit suicide and other crimes. They have no peace.
As much as we may admire those beautiful, serene-looking places, those supposedly perfectly relaxing circumstances, even if we retire there or live there, we would not have peace because the causes of discontentment are not outside of us, in our circumstances.
Our suffering and our pain exist not because of where we live, but because of the quality of our mind.
The causes of suffering and pain are within us.
The cause of peace is also within us.
To find peace, you do not need to seek outside of yourself, but inside.
So, instead of looking for that relaxing beach outside of us somewhere in the world, we need to find it inside.
But, when we look inside, what do we see? Not that beach, but this one: a beach packed with people. A crowded place, with no room to walk or sit or swim, and filled with clamoring voices, each one demanding its desires, demanding attention, insisting on being the only one who should be on that beach.
This accurately reflects our inner state. Each one of those people is a longing, fear, resentment, some desire, some frustration, envy, pride, and all of them are constantly talking competing with each other, trying to stand out, and to be the one who's special.
Our mind never shuts up. It is never at peace. It is constantly chattering about what it wants, what it lacks, what it fears.
Truthfully, our longing for peace is the longing to escape the noise in our head, heart, and body.
When you observe some people, you see that they constantly have music or a tv playing, or are always scrolling on their devices; they need constant noise, constant impressions. This is because they want to avoid the noise in their mind: the music, the tv, or the scrolling is like a hypnotic bandage that numbs them. If you turn it off, they feel the pain of their inner condition.
The feelings of discontentment, stress, anxiety, and fear are all rooted in the constant chatter of our mind.
Unfortunately, in modern times, we have not been educated about our mind and how to deal with it.
We learn by example and by inheritance; when we're growing up and we adopt the habits that we observe. We're never given guidance or training in how to deal with thoughts, emotions and impulses and so they control us. They control our consciousness. That's why we are in a constant state of contradiction and inner conflict.
We have contradictory thoughts, feelings, and impulses. As a young person, for example, when it's time for us to become defined in our life, we feel that urgency to develop a career and become self reliant, successful and that is normal and natural. But unfortunately, our pride interferes. We want to stand out, to rise above the rest, and be seen as better than our peers. Then our laziness says, That's too much work, its too hard. Maybe I could just hang out at my parents house, watch TV and maybe get money from the government, or find a husband or wife to pay for everything. Then our envy says, But I want with these people on and Instagram have, I want to be like these other people: famous and rich. Then fear says what if I fail, what if I end up alone, what if I become sick...
We are always creating mental stories, dramas, tragedies, imagining events that never happen... we live most of our lives in a self-created fantasy that has no basis in reality. The result is that we are afflicted with constant worry, stress, and anxiety, all based on illusions.
These surging contradictory, unpredictable thoughts, feelings and impulses are symbolized in this crowded beach.
The Purpose of Meditation
Maybe we've had enough of it, and we want to learn meditation.
Whatever the reason, people are attracted to meditation because they want an escape from pain, they want relief from suffering. So most people would say that the purpose of meditation is to escape from pain, to get away from suffering. They might mention some terms like self-realization, liberation or enlightenment, but not really be able to define what those words mean.
Meditation is related to those experiences; you can experience paradises, and reach self-realzation, etc, but it is not in the way that people think: that yoiu meditate in a cave for six years and you go to paradise. That is absurd!
What is paradise? It is a place without conflict, without suffering. Therefore, in such a place, there can be no pride, anger, lust, or envy. So, the solution is simple: if you want to live in paradise, whether on Earth or beyond it, then you must not have any of those qualities in yourself.
This is the actual purpose of meditation: to end suffering.
The only way to end suffering is to understand what causes it.
Since the causes of suffering are not visible with our senses physically, and those causes are not perceptible by our mind, we need to learn meditation so that we can harness the power of the consciousness, in order to perceive the causes of suffering and fix them.
The purpose of meditation is to acquire information about suffering and its causes, so we can become free of them.
From this you understand that pretty much everything popular culture is saying about meditation is kindergarten, very basic, and very shallow.
Meditation is a vast, extensive science. Through meditation, you can perceive the causes of existence. This is not imaginary or a process of thinking: it is a lived experience, more real than what you are perceiving through your physical senses.
The Buddha talked about atomic structures. He described atoms. He saw them in meditation. There is nothing special about that. It is an innate capability that all of us have. We just need to learn to use it.
Meditation is a function of the consciousness.
Meditation is not intellectual, emotional, or physical.
Meditation is a state of perception that does not use the physical senses.
To learn how to meditate, we first learn how to use the consciousness throughout the day.
The process of learning meditation does not begin when you sit on your chair or on your cushion.
To learn how to meditate, you have to practice constantly at all times and in all places. In everything that you do, be profoundly aware and present.
Become aware of yourself in ways that you have never been aware of before.
Awareness must become expansive, all-embracing, and ever-present.
I'm not talking about thinking about yourself.
Or feeling a certain way about yourself.
Or repressing your impulses.
I am talking about observation: to observe oneself, to be fully aware of everything about yourself.
Everyone thinks that they are already aware of themselves, but we're not. It doesn't take long to prove it.
In this moment, your awareness is very limited and inconsistent. You are only aware because I am addressing it, but even then, it is limited. It flickers in and out, on and off, and is fleeting, unreliable.
If your awareness was truly established and active, you would be fully aware of and constantly watching everything about your body, thoughts, emotions, impulses, inner images, and all sensory information: all at the same time.
In that sort of intense awareness, you have no time to think, daydream, or be distracted, because phenomena are constantly changing: to be aware is to constantly notice the changes.
Instead of being aware, we are distracted.
We think about something, which leads to another thing, which leads to a memory, then a desire, then a longing, then another thought... meanwhile, we are barely aware that we are driving the car, or cooking a meal... we are distracted, asleep, barely aware of anything at all.
The next time you can't find your keys, remember what I'm telling you right now.
The next time you can't remember where you put that check or that bill or important paper, remember what I'm telling you right now.
Realize that you are distracted, and become aware.
It is very rare for you to be aware of yourself and what you are doing. You have seen someone who is at the point of tears trying to find their keys, running around desperate because they are late to get somewhere, and they're looking everywhere and getting angry and upset, yet the whole time the keys are in their hand.
What about the person who is driving to work and suddenly becomes terrified that they left the keys at home! They are so asleep that they forget that the keys are in the car and are the reason it is running.
That is a fundamental lack of awareness. The consciousness is asleep, totally dormant.
When we talk about observation, we are talking about using an aspect of our selves that we don't use normally and it's called consciousness we've all heard that we are conscious beings, that we are sentient beings. Loosely speaking, we can say that's true because we're alive. We do have consciousness, but consciousness, like any force in nature, has many qualities and many states. In us, it is inactive; you can say asleep, very passive.
It is not in a very active state controlled by our willpower.
We have the capability to be aware in a way that we are not now. What I'm describing to you is to willfully engage that; to find the causes of suffering in yourself requires that type of awareness. And that type of awareness is to observe and be aware of everything that's happening within us.
We're normally not. Most of the time we are just somewhat like a marionette or a puppet pushed one way and another by physical impulses, emotional impulses, mental impulses. We get an idea, we start going this direction and another idea or another impulse pops up. We change directions and go another way. We're not aware of why.
We're not aware of what's provoking us. It just happens and subsequently, we're constantly reacting to circumstances, meaning we're not willfully guiding the course of our life. We are not in charge of ourselves.
For instance, you are at home, you're very peaceful. You're very relaxed on the couch, watching something you enjoy watching. You feel very serene. Suddenly the door bursts open, and in comes a family member who's enraged, stressed out, and comes in and starts barking at you. Why is the house such a mess? Why is this over here? Why is this like that?
And what do you do? You become enraged as well. You leap from the couch. You get into a fight. Who knows where that goes? Somewhere bad, a lot of pain and yelling.
So let me ask you a question. Who's in charge of you in that moment? It's the other person because they're able to come in and instantly infect you with their emotional state. You were unable to control yourself. Your conscious will was not there. Instead, that person brought out your anger, your pride, and who knows what else, and you did nothing to stop it.
What would happen with someone who knew how to truly self observe?
They see the person come in enraged. That impression passes right through them; they do not react with anger. Sure, perhaps their anger is touched, stimulated, but being aware, conscious, they can choose not to act on it. They can transform that impression in that instant, and be in control of themselves, and instead of reacting with anger, they can see a better way to respond: with sweetness, with love. The person relaxing on the couch would remain relaxed, but would get up out of compassion with serenity would help that person who was upset, calm them down, speak sweetly, be kind to them, give them something nice to drink and eat so they'll calm down. The result? No fighting, no pain, no anger, no stress, no tension.
Simple self-awareness gives self-control, the ability to manage these parts of ourselves. It does not get rid of them, but it gives us choice.
Most of the time, we're not in charge of our thoughts, emotions, impulses. Most of the time, they're just doing whatever they want to do all the time.
You can prove this right now. If I were to ask you, please, everyone, close your eyes. Don't think: have no thoughts.
Even though I just asked you not to have any thoughts, some of you immediately have a thought: that it is impossible to not have thoughts!
Well, it is possible. Moreover, it is normal.
Try it: For just one minute, control yourself fully: don't have any thoughts, impulses or emotions. Just be still. Let everything be quiet.
So: did you experience silence of thoughts, emotions, mood, sensations, etc?
Probably not. You need training. You can learn.
It is very difficult for all of us to have inner peace, total silence within, because our mind, heart and body are very agitated. Thoughts keep bubbling up, emotions keep bubbling up, and impulses in the body keep bubbling up. And we believe it cannot be stopped, but we are wrong about that: the mind can become silent, but you need training to reach that experience.
When we try to learn meditation, we're very fidgety, we're very anxious, and our body constantly wants attention. We can't get it settled, it wants to move around. It itches, and we're trying to scratch this in that we have pains and aches.
And the mind is racing and thinking and thinking and thinking. We can't get it to stop.
Emotions are coming and going: fear and worry and pain and regret.
That's why we have no peace.
Our lack of peace is because of our lack of self-knowledge.
Let's start to change that.
First, you need to study your three brains.
Your Three Brains
Yes, you have three brains:
- Thoughts in the intellectual brain in the head
- Emotions in the emotional brain in our heart
- Impulses in the body
Each of these parts of ourselves are important and we need them. We call them the three brains or the five centers. Really, these are just machines. They process information. We need them to do their job. But unfortunately in us, they do it without our awareness, without control of our conscious will. Instead, they're just running all the time.
Even when we want them to stop, we cannot stop them, because we do not understand how to use them properly.
When you lie down at night to sleep, your thoughts do not stop, your emotions do not stop, not even your body does even if it is sleeping, it remains filled with stress, tension and discomforts. They are running all night and all day.
They do not stop when you are trying to relax, you're trying to meditate, or you're trying to sit on that beautiful beach that you paid thousands of dollars to go to?
Does your mind ever stop? Is your mind ever quiet?
We never learned how to train our mind and be in control of it, to be in charge of it.
This is part of the puzzle of our suffering. Yet, it can be fixed.
I remember la teacher who said when out walking he would have no thoughts for 30 minutes. Most people today would think that's impossible. It isn't. Really, that's normal. Our quality of mind is what is abnormal. The racing mind is abnormal. The constant state of stress is abnormal.
Let us discuss how to start changing.
Think on an example for a moment. Imagine that when you learn to drive a car, you are given a car, and told this is the only car you will have for life. You're not going to get another one. This is it. This is your one car. When it's done, you're done. If we were given a single car to use for our lifetime, we would be sure to take really good care of it. When we got home at the end of the day using our car to do our job, we brought it home, would we leave it running in the driveway all night? Would we let it constantly run out of fuel completely and run out of oil completely and run out of water completely every day? Would we constantly be revving the engine to its full capacity everywhere we go, always with the pedal all the way to the floor? Driving at top speed everywhere we go? Slamming the brakes, speeding around constantly... never putting gas or doing any maintenance, never turning off the engine but always leaving it running... what would be the result if we were to constantly, constantly max out the capabilities of that car? We would destroy it. It wouldn't last long; we would burn it up. It would not last a lifetime.
Well, you see, we have this situation we just don't realize it. Our body is our vehicle and within it are the vehicles of thought and emotion. We never turn them off. We never let them rest. We are constantly running them to their maximum capacity. We do not maintain them, take care of them. We do not give them the right fuel. We use them for tasks they are not suited for, etc.
Instead, the mind is constantly running, emotions are constantly surging, the impulses of the body are constantly fighting to direct us to go do one thing or another thing.
We are destroying our "vehicle" because we're ignorant. We weren't properly educated how to use it when we need it, how to turn it off and we don't use it.
"In truth, I only use my intellect when I am talking to you, when I have to address humanity, the world; in my private life I don't use it, in my private life there is only feeling, love, consciousness, music, beauty; and that's it. But I must use my intellect in these moments, for us to be able to understand each other; because as I said at the beginning: “you have come here to listen to me and I have come here to talk to you, and between you and me there must be mutual comprehension”; That's why I've been forced to use my intellect tonight..." - Samael Aun Weor
He doesn't need to think and think and think and think. No need for that. Thinking has its purpose. And its place, and it is a useful tool. But if you're a builder or a repair person, you don't use one tool over and over and over all the time for every single job. You use the right tool for the right job. The intellect is a tool for analysis or comparison. That's it. You don't need it for anything else. With us, we love to use it all the time, and never stop. We love to worry.
In my estimation, this is one of the chief poisonous addictions of our modern era: the addiction to worry. We worry constantly and we cannot stop. We're always worrying, but we never thought to ask ourselves "when once did my worrying actually improve a situation? Can I name one time when worrying about something actually helped actually solve the pr oblem?" I think you will find the answer is no. Worrying is just a habit. Worrying is how we are revving our engine, wasting energy, burning it up. You know how people lose their mind, how people go crazy, as we call it, how they break? This is how. The whole of our culture in modern times is on the brink of mass insanity. We already see evidence of that. People have lost their minds in every corner of society. So entitled, so arrogant, so impatient, so cruel. No one is kind anymore. No one is patient. Everybody wants everything right now for free.
Let us not blame others: instead, let us find our inner defects and mistakes, and fix them. For that, we need to become intensely aware of ourselves.
We cannot change other people. We can change ourselves. And the way we do that is we start becoming aware; we need to start observing reality; we need to see the truth.
You cannot have peace as long as you have anger, envy, pride, lust. Many say those are normal, natural, but that is a lie. A normal human being has no pride or anger. Such a person is content, happy, and knows divinity from personal, daily experience. Of course, you no longer find such people on this planet. But that is our normal state, and is documented in all of our myths and religions. We lost that state of being, and we can recover it.
So, let us be honest with ourselves.
When you try to meditate, you close your eyes, you don't see anything, but you do feel chaos. Stress, tension, thoughts that won't stop, emotions that won't stop, memories and desires that keep coming up...
In such a state, we cannot get reliable answers from within. When the mind is agitated, when we have no peace within, we cannot solve any problems, or gain insight into anything.
So, the first step is to recognize the reality of our inner state. Be honest. Be sincere. Look squarely at it. Don't avoid the truth. See the way you really are. It's only with honest observation of yourself that you can start to change. If you keep avoiding the truth of your psychological qualities, you will never change them. Then you will be condemned to repeating the same problems over and over and over.
By serenely observing ourselves, both inside and outside of meditation, the mind starts to calm down on it own. Eventually, it will stop charging around.
Our consciousness has the capability to see atomic structures, to see the reality of anything, to see the causes of existence. The great meditators of every tradition have described how universes are created, how gods are born, and they've used symbolic language in order to convey it to us. But they weren't just making up stuff. They were seeing things in meditation, not with their physical eyes, but the eyes of the consciousness. Seeing reality.
Nature is full of many beautiful phenomena. When water is serene, it reflects the universe. Our own psychological state has the same capability If we learn to calm ourselves in all three brains, then when we look within, we can see the universe reflected. This is why the oracle at Delphi said, "Know yourself and you will know the universe." The Oracles at Delphi were great meditators, and everything they prophesied was as a result of meditation. So if we want to know the truth about God, Divinity, why we're alive, or why is the world the way that it is, We find the answers to those questions by looking inside of ourselves. But as we are now, we can't see the answer. If our mind is a stormy ocean, a stormy sea that reflects nothing, it's just a black chaos.
To arrive at the experience of serenity requires that we first stop agitating ourselves. We need to learn to be aware and to transform impressions.
If we were to take any kind of object and throw it in a calm lake, it would make waves and the whole image reflected there would be disturbed.
Our mind is exactly like that.
You may be very serenely sitting there listening to me, but if I changed my tone and started speaking harsh words, you would get upset. Your heart would race and your face would turn red and your mind would say, "How dare he say that to me?" I could easily do that just with a couple of words, stir up everyone's three brains and get everybody upset. We have this vulnerability We need to change that. We need to become so serene that nothing disturbs us. Nothing upsets us. That doesn't happen by avoidance or repression. It happens through awareness, cognizance so in a person who is truly serene, we throw something into the lake of their mind. There are no ripples. The object passes through and makes no trail.
I saw a policeman arresting a man. The man in handcuffs was red with anger, cursing the policeman, trying to bite him, spit on him, calling him every bad word that he could say. The policeman was totally undisturbed by all of it; he even had a little smile, as he gently took the man to jail. What composure that policeman had! It was truly admirable.
I have also observed a room full of spiritual aspirants, presuming themselves to be at the vanguard of humanity, believing themselves so holy and wise and full of love and peace, as they argued and accused each other, gossiping and competing over recognitions or status. Sometimes it seems that the so-called spiritual people are worse than those who know nothing about religion. They had no peace. It was just another ambitious corporation under a religious name.
To have peace, we need our mind, heart, and body to become perfectly still.
How to Enter the Silence of the Mind
That is why when we teach meditation, we always start with relaxing. We say to relax your body, relax your heart and relax your mind. This means: do not move them. Do not use them. Put them down and turn them off.
Many of the instructions for meditation also begin with "Empty your mind." Sadly, most students skip that.
To empty the mind means to have no thoughts or emotions or impulses, but to be totally silent internally. This is a prerequisite for the rest of the instructions, so you cannot skip it. And it doesn't happen by repressing thoughts, trying to force silence in the mind, to force thoughts away or force emotions or impulses away.
So, for instance, if you were to begin to meditate now and you try to relax and your body is fidgety and you feel fear or stress, and your thoughts are running... and you hear the instruction "Empty your mind," your reaction is going to be to try to suppress thoughts and emotions, to suppress the tension in the body or the pain, to avoid it or to move and start moving the body around or try to suppress the thoughts. It doesn't work.
Many years ago, I attended a school where the instructor was very zealous about training all of us students to meditate with perfect serenity. He was very focused on this, so he decided to adopt a method that he learned from some traditions I won't name (because I don't want to give them a bad rap). He had all of us sit for meditation on our benches, backs straight, sitting properly like monks. We were on a retreat, so had to do this all day long. He told everyone there, "When you sit to meditate, you must be perfectly still. I am going to watch you. If I see anyone flinch or move at all, I'm going to hit you across the back with this stick."
So naturally, instead of helping us to relax, all the students became terrified. He made us more tense and unable to relax, and certainly unable to meditate. It is hard enough as a beginner to meditate even in good conditions, but impossible when you are under constant threat. So, as you would expect, when you are afraid, it is hard to sit still. Moreover, people became terrified. No one wants to be the one who gets called out, who gets embarrassed, who gets hit and is "the failure." Then mentally, everyone became very stressed because the intellect is trying to control everything, thinking constantly, "I need to relax. I need to be still. Am I moving? Is he watching me?"
So he achieved the opposite of what he was aiming for.
I learned something really valuable from that. I'm very grateful for the experience. The experience taught me that is not the way.
When we sit to meditate, it is essential that we develop relaxation, and it is equally essential that we develop stillness. Stillness of the body, stillness of the emotions and stillness of thought. But none of that can be arrived at through force. It is impossible.
You cannot force relaxation. You cannot force your mind to be quiet. You cannot force your emotions to stop. And you cannot force your body to be still. However, all of them will become perfectly still if you simply leave them alone.
Imagine a perfectly still lake. How did this lake get like that? There's no wind. Symbolically speaking, the wind is thoughts, emotions, movement, activity.
When you sit to meditate, learn to be perfectly still, relaxed, and just observe yourself. You observe your body. And if you see pain or you see stress, tension, discomfort, observe it, notice it. Do not react or move, just observe. Relax deeper. (If the pain is going to kill you, then change your position or get up, don't die. But I think most of the time you are not going to die. Most of the time, that pain is just your mind complaining.) And if you see an emotion that's disturbing, don't avoid it. Also, don't indulge in it. Observe it. And watch it. And you'll note those feelings, just like thoughts, are just like clouds that pass through the sky. They appear briefly for a moment. Suddenly they're gone.
Everything passes, everything except the consciousness.
Consciousness is the only thing that lasts. It is the only thing that is reliable. Your body is not reliable. Emotions are not reliable. Thoughts are not reliable. Your consciousness is, if you develop it. That's what we're trying to learn with meditation.
The essence of the method is to become totally conscious of oneself.
One useful way to do that is a method of conscious observation that continually expands awareness by leave things as they are. Become aware of each thing, observe it, don't change it. So what do I mean by that?
When you are sitting to meditate and you are wanting silence of the mind, you're wanting peace, you want serenity. That desire alone is causing the disturbance.
When you're sitting to meditate and you want an experience of God, or you want to see the angels or you want to go out of your body, that desire is a disturbance, and obscures your inner sight.
When you feel pain, anxiety, resentment, instead of indulging in those qualities and thinking about things and thinking about them and feeling the emotions and the impulses in the body, and likewise, instead of repressing them and trying to avoid them all, see them as they are.
When you observe yourself during the day and when you meditate, remember this:
As it is.
That is: leave it as it is.
Observe it as it is.
Leave everything as it is. You put the body in its posture, you relax completely physically emotionally, mentally, and then you just observe impulses come and go. Emotions come and go. Thoughts come and go. Everything that comes and goes. Our conscious attitude should be as it is. Leave it be. Don't touch it. Just watch.
When you do this all day and all night, whether in meditation or while at work, and you are patient, you stop stirring up the waters of your mind. Everything will settle down on its own.
We will start to experience peace. Real peace. A quiet mind. A quiet heart. A quiet body.
You can even do this throughout the day: every chance you get, close your eyes, and relax everything. Just observe. Withdraw from thoughts, emotions, sensations. Withdraw into simple awareness. Be still.
Invite the silence.
We will feel contentment.
We will feel that natural joy of simply being.
This is in us already, because it is the natural state of our consciousness. All we have to do is rest the mind and body: turn the engine off, let it be still. And the more practice we have of doing that, the calmer the mind and body become.
Then we start to discover real contentment and joy, happiness, peace.
This requires, however, a great deal of diligence, a great deal of awareness. In other words, we don't get there by spacing out or daydreaming: quite the opposite. We get there through constant, diligent awareness.
I'm not saying space out and be disconnected from reality. I'm talking about having your awareness so present and so sharp that you don't miss anything, but you don't change it. You don't modify it.
I am not not saying that you simply let the mind run and you go along with it. Also, quite the opposite. I am saying that you withdraw into your awareness, and leave the mind alone. If it thinks, observe it but dont get pulled into thinking. If it daysdreams, observe it, but dont get pulled into it; in other words, do not lose awareness of observing.
The type of awareness I'm talking about is something that you see in people that are very finely trained in a particular skill. As an example, observe someone playing soccer, football: the goalie, the keeper. That player's job is really simple: don't let the ball get past you. To do that, they can never lose sight of the ball. That's it. We need the same type of focus and awareness that this player has.
That player cannot think about what she is doing. Thinking is really slow. Do you ever play a sport? You know that if you start thinking about what you're doing, you lose because you have to be able to react much faster than thought. Like when you're driving your car, if you are almost in an accident, you don't have time to think about what to do to avoid being killed. You have to respond immediately with the skills of your motor brain. Your body needs to turn the car to avoid the accident. If you think about it, you'll have an accident.
Consciousness is faster than all of our five centers or three brains.
That focus that degree of attentiveness without thinking is something we need all day.
It's an awareness of everything that's coming in to us and everything that's inside of us.
Let's do a little brief experiment. I want you to simply be fully aware of all the sensations on your body, all at the same time. Everything that your body can feel both inside and outside. This includes heat and pressure, pain and pleasure, discomfort, stress, tension, relaxation, anything that your body can sense. Hunger, anything. Just feel it. Just be aware of it.
Notice that to be aware, you cannot think. Thoughts are not awareness.
To sense the body does not require thoughts. In facts, thoughts interfere with that awareness.
Now, note, the sensations you can feel with your body are happening in many places at once, and they are going to constantly change. Be aware of all of them at the same time. Do not focus on one or another: be aware of them all, and their constant change.
What happens when you start thinking about it? You're not observing anymore. Notice that. Try again. Be aware of your body.
Sense it. Feel it. You don't use your eyes or your ears. You're using your sense of the body to feel everything the body can feel.
But notice, if you think about it, you can't observe anymore.
Now, do the same with your thoughts: observe your thoughts.
Observe how you experience thoughts. Do thoughts seem to stop when you try to observe them? Does the process of thinking change? This is something to observe.
Do the same with emotions. It's a little bit harder because right now the emotional center is probably quite serene, probably not feeling anything strong enough to notice .
From this little experiment, you can see that observation, awareness, is not thoughts, emotions, or sensations. It also does not require the physical senses. Awareness is its own sense.
Observation can happen before you can think. Observation, awareness, is faster than thoughts.
Observation can happen before you can feel an emotion. Observation, awareness, is faster than emotions.
Observation can happen before you can feel a sensation or impulse. Observation, awareness, is faster than sensation or impulse.
So, someone who is actively observing, aware, is present and active before any thought, emotion or impulse can arise.
That observation is the goalie, the keeper, who is watching for the ball.
Observation is an action of consciousness, and it's faster than everything else, but it only works when you actively engage it.
This is a key you must grasp. Your conscious awareness only works if you're conscious of it. It has no autopilot. It doesn't work unless you're actively observing.
For instance, how many of you are actively aware of the chair you're sitting on? Well, now that I pointed out your attention goes to it and you become aware of it. Someone who was truly fully aware would be aware of everything inside and outside, all the time.
The first stage of learning to meditate is to develop self-awareness, self observation. It takes years to learn to be aware of the three brains.
Let me say that again, so I'm sure that you've heard it.
It will take you years to learn to self observe.
You're not going to know how to do this today. You may think you are a special, spiritually gifted person and that you're going to master it from today. You may think you have been self-observing since birth. It is time to stop lying to yourself.
If you do not recognize that you are asleep, you cannot awaken.
You have to learn self-observation from zero, and even if you work on it every day, it will take you years to learn it.
We're not trained. We need training.
Train yourself to be aware from moment to moment.
Train yourself to be the goalie, the keeper, who is always ready for every incoming impression.
Then, we are ready to deal with the mind, and truly establish peace in our life.
Training the Mind
We are then ready to train our animal mind.
Yes, our mind is animal: it is wild, instinctive, and strong. To train it, we need to be very smart. Fortunately, we can rely on the knowledge acquired by many others. We can learn how to do it.
Observe a cowboy training a horse, or an elephant trainer working with his elephant.
Most of the time, our animal mind is riding us, making us go here and there and do this and that. All of our impulses, fears, stress, lust and envy run here and there like a wild animal. We have to change that. We as a consciousness need to learn to train our animal mind and when it becomes trained, it becomes a very powerful tool. But as it is now, it's a danger to everyone, especially to ourselves.
When you see a cowboy breaking in this see it takes a lot of courage, skill, patience, and a lot of love. This cowboy loves doing this, and the cowboy loves the horse. To train our mind requires this type of courage, discipline and tenacity, and the mind will absolutely hate it. Your mind will revolt, it will fight, it will complain, so will your body. So will your emotions. And every day you've got to go out to the barn, you got to put the bridle on it, take it out and ride it and teach it who's in charge, and you cannot take a break or break the rules. If you've ever trained an animal, you know that if you break the rules, it will expect that from then on; if you're training a dog and you don't want the dog to eat from the table, but if you give the dog food from the table one time it will beg for it for the rest of its life. Animals are like that. Our mind is like that. We need to train it well.
So when you are in meditation and you are feeling the bucking bronco of your mind fighting you, remember what the cowboy does: holds on and relaxes, and just waits. You don't see the cowboy beating the animal or giving up and walking away. He just holds on. And he waits and he keeps his balance because after a few minutes, that animal is going to get tired right? It's going to get tired and then it's going to stop. And your mind's just like that.
Your mind is going to complain. You're going to have a lot of thoughts. You can have a lot of emotions. The body is going to be unhappy. It's going to be uncomfortable as it is. Leave it. Just wait. Just observe, be aware, be patient.
Little by little, your aim is to become like a mountain: Unwavering, unmoving.
Swami Sivananda said when you sit to meditate and you take your posture, you need to tell yourself, I am a mountain. I do not move. This is not to become tense. It is to settle in, settle in, sit and be still.
Don't move an atom for anything and let the storms come and they will: the storms will come. Your mind will rage against you. Your thoughts will rage against you. The winds will blow. The rain will pelt the mountain. The mountain doesn't move. Little by little, the storm will wear itself out and peace always follows the storm with practice, with consistency, with dedication.
You can arrive at that experience directly. But if you waver, if you practice a little bit today and then maybe next week, I'll do a little more. You will never, ever, ever get there.
You see, mastery is a result of practice. The more you practice, the easier it becomes. If you do not practice constantly, you will never learn.
I'm always astonished when I look at our modern culture and I see how hard people work, especially when you realize that what they get back from it is not very impressive. People work very hard for very little in return. Everybody wants to be fit and look like a supermodel or an athlete. And it's impressive how much time and energy they put into improving their physical body. But I feel sad about it at the same time, because I know from my own experience that those people who are working out at the gym every day and really trying to manage what they eat every day, they're putting so much effort into this cultivation of their physical appearance but in a few years they're going to lose all of that because the body ages, the body dies. For all of those hours and hours of time and energy invested into that will be for nothing.
What those who work so hard to make money, then they spend it all on useless things? Or they stuff it in a bank only to die a little later? Why? It makes no sense.
What about people who invest so much of their lives into video games or social media? That is all illusions; it only exists in their minds. It is vapor: like clouds in the sky.
What about those who invest their time and energy into social life? In the end, the feeling of "knowing people" or having some kind of social life is really an illusion, a false comfort intended to mask our insecurities or lack of inner confidence.
There are millions of ways we foolishly spend our time and energy...
I think to myself, what if they had taken all that time and energy into developing their consciousness? If they did, we would have a completely different world. There would be no wars. The reason that we have wars and killing and crime and all of the sufferings we have in this world right now is because people cannot control their pride and their anger and their fear. If we were to reduce or eliminate our fear and our pride and our anger, we wouldn't have conflicts with anyone. Instead of pride and anger and fear, we would have humility and love and confidence; we wouldn't feel threatened by anyone, we would love everyone. Instead of being entitled and impatient, we'd be understanding, kind.
There would be peace.
So, let us find where we are foolishly investing time and energy, and redirect it into something better.
We all have time to practice developing our awareness and our meditation skills. What we lack is dedication to it.
This is because we have not really comprehended how short and unpredictable life is.
Every day, contemplate the inevitable approach of death. You will soon begin to practice seriously.
Mastery is a Result of Practice
All of us admire the masters. All of us are impressed by Jesus, the saints and apostles, etc. Yet, all of them got that way by hard work.
We also admire the great artists, the great creators of music and literature... All of them became so by constant practice: experience.
Let's take an example of someone who can play the piano very well. We admire that and we would love to be able to play the piano, but honestly, we're not willing to work for it. We're just too lazy. To develop skill in anything requires patience, tenacity, persistence, but also to be practicing in the right way. You see, if you wanted to be a concert pianist, the best in the world, you're not going to get there by playing the same song over and over every day; you may learn to play that one song really well, but you won't learn to read music or to play a piano sonata by Beethoven or anything else by any other composer in history, much less write your own music. You wouldn't have the skill, the understanding, the technique, to do anything else. To develop mastery of an instrument takes an investment of time and energy; to master a sport or a skill takes training, time and energy.
If we were to ask a four-year old child to play a piano sonata by Beethoven, they couldn't do it (unless they were a child prodigy who learned it in their previous existence). They would be able to bang on the keys and make some noise, but they couldn't read the music. They couldn't play anything. But if that child practices on that piano the way a concert pianist trains, which is eight to ten hours every day then in their teens and twenties, they would be very skillful, able to play anything beautifully, because they practiced.
So, don't think that you're going to learn meditation by doing it once a week for 10 minutes.
You will not learn self-observation by reading here and there or hearing a lecture or two.
You need to practice constantly.
If you want to learn meditation, you have to practice every single day, and you need to be working with your consciousness all day long, every single day. I'm not saying you have to sit on your couch or on your cushion in a formal meditation posture for eight to 10 hours a day. If you can do that, you will learn, if you're practicing in the right way. Most of us can't. We have jobs. We have families. We have lives. We have responsibilities. So practice where you are, doing what you are doing.
In everything you do, be aware and observant.
You are expanding your awareness so you can make better choices. Make them truly better.
Use your three brains when they are needed. When they are not needed, let them rest.
Observe yourself constantly.
Even when you believe you are observing, check to see if you can observe more broadly. You can. Consciousness can expand more and more.
Every day, as often as possible, close all your senses and observe your mind.
As it is.
When you have a job, do that job with a great deal of concentration and awareness.
Always be relaxed.
Practice being fully aware in each thing that you do. Do it with great awareness, studying yourself and doing each task to the best of your ability.
Abandon the habit of always thinking, always worrying.
Abandon the habit of daydreaming.
Abandon the habit of imagining scenarios.
Exchange these bad habits for mental silence.
When your mind is disturbed, chaotic, and you feel overwhelmed, go take a walk in nature: turn away from the inner chaos, and instead look intensely at everything you are experiencing through your senses. Expand your perception towards every horizon: see everything all at once, and do not look inwards at thoughts. Just be there, alive, observing nature. After some time, you will see that the mind has become quiet.
Instead of always being self-obsessed with your thoughts and feelings, look at each person you encounter as though you had never seen such a person before: imagine if you were them. Put yourself in their shoes. Treat them how you would wish to be treated.
Can you imagine how different the world would be if everyone did this?
So let's start with ourselves. Let's change our own behaviors.
Our attitudes and behaviors are infectious.
If you go to work angry, you will spread your anger to everyone else. If you come into your home with your family and you're angry and you start barking at people, everybody else is going to get upset. The whole house will be infected with that anger. The opposite is true as well. If you come in with a smile genuinely concerned for others, asking, How are you? And really meaning it? The whole house will change, your whole job will change, your whole environment, will change. This is simple, but so profound. All you have to do is remember to be aware.
These are good and useful actions, but still do not get at the roots of suffering. In these steps, we are just establishing a foundation for work, but we need to go deeper.
Liberation from suffering is only possible if we master meditation.
There's no other way to achieve it. Only meditation has the ability to get at the roots of suffering that are hidden deep in our mind. Only meditation gives us a way to expose them to the consciousness so that we can understand them and change them. You can't change your pride or your anger unless you know why you have it. Suppressing it doesn't work. Repressing it, avoiding it doesn't work. Indulging in it doesn't work. You need to see where the pride and the anger came from, how you yourself created it, when and why.
Imagine a life without anger without envy without pride, without fear. You say it's impossible. I say it is not. There are many human beings who've achieved it. You know some of their names. You have heard of Jesus. Jesus did not become Jesus by accident. Neither did the Buddha. Neither did any other truly beautiful human being. They became that way because of work, mastery, self knowledge. The compassion of those types of people is because they understand the pain, because they experienced it. They understood the cause of the pain, they removed the cause, they came free of it. And then they went to help others like us. We need to follow their example.
Spiritual mastery is the result of constant attentiveness to the causes of suffering in oneself.
In the silence of the mind, we can perceive the causes of suffering.
If the mind is not silent, we cannot see reality.
Therefore, first, we must establish silence.
Then, when the mind is silent, new information arises spontaneously. When the mind is silent and the consciousness is awakened, we can investigate any problem to find its solution.
A Meditation Technique
There is a very powerful technique to do this. It is not my opinion. This technique of meditation is taught worldwide; you will find it in many traditions all over the world. It is extraordinarily powerful.
It is very simple.
Every night, shut off all your senses, close your eyes, don't listen to your environment. That means don't play any music. If you can be somewhere quiet, good. Shut the senses off completely; withdraw in yourself. Be very still; withdraw within, into awareness itself.
Become simple awareness.
Do not identify with thinking, emotions, sensations.
Be awareness. Very concentrated, very present in the moment and stay there.
Anything that appears to you, any sensations in the body through any of the senses, any emotions that arise, any thoughts that emerge, any memories, any longings, just observe.
Let everything flow by. Change nothing, react to nothing, simply observe everything, and be fully aware of it.
This means that when you feel a thought coming, you will see the thought and it starts to form itself as a thought. And then it will fade and dissipate like mist. When you feel a sensation in the body, it will do the same thing. If you hear a noise in the room, it will do the same thing. It will gradually emerge will gradually take shape and then it will disperse like mist.
What you're left with is silence. That silence that is in between the thoughts and in between the emotions and in between the sensations. Rest in the silence, and wait, with awareness and without any expectations.
Repeat: have no expectations or desires. Just observe.
If you see desires, expectations, thoughts, then observe them, recognize them as illusions, and let them go.
Note: this is not thinking. This is observing.
If you are truly patient and you are truly observant, one day, without expecting it, you will suddenly realize that you are seeing something new, but not with your physical eyes. You are seeing with your internal eyes something unexpected, something new, In other words, when you can enter the silence of the mind you have become liberated from the conditioning of the body and the emotions and thoughts. In that state you can see the reality, the truth. Were you to pose a question or visualize a problem, you would see it solution instantly.
If the solution doesn't appear, then the mind is not truly silent, and you have to relax deeper and deeper and find what it is that is below your awareness that is disturbing your mind.
This is how you enter the silence of the mind: stillness, observation, acceptance, and patience.
This is a natural capability of the consciousness of every living thing.
Now, let me clarify. This is not thinking; it is not fantasy. If there are thoughts, then that is not the silence of the mind. If there are emotions, daydreams, discomforts, desires... that is not the silence of the mind.
The silence of the mind is that serene lake reflecting the stars: one sees the stars there, because the lake is absolutely still.
When you mind and body are absolutely still, they can reflect the universe.
If there is no reflection, then stillness has not arrived. One must relax deeper, extend awareness furper...
So you see, as it is. We adopt this during the day, and during meditation: to observe things as they are, and they do whatever they do, while we as a conscious simply observe them.
When you're observing your thoughts, you're seeing the thought and the thought process and it goes away. You don't change it. You're not trying to make it a good thought. You're not trying to suppress it. You're just leaving it alone.
So when the mind is fully silent and you have this attitude of "as it is," new things emerge and you adopt the same attitude. You don't change them. You simply observe them.
When you have visions or experiences, you remain serene, observant, undisturbed.
What you experience there can vary dramatically. A beginner, a new person, may see lights or hear sounds. They may hear voices. They may see brief scenes that are somewhat like seeing dream imagery. Little by little, with skillfulness, with mastery, you develop the ability to fully enter into that perceptive state in order to solve problems, in order to understand things, that is real meditation.
That is where real meditation begins.
In real meditation, in the silence of the mind, you can recover the memories of when you created your anger, and why you created it, what was the pain and the trauma and the suffering that produced that anger. When you can see that and know the truth of it, you can change it. But until then, it's hidden inside of you and causing pain.
In real meditation, in the silence of the mind, you can recover the memories of how you created your envy.
You can understand the causes of your self-destructive habits.
Armed with that knowledge, you can then change your behaviors.
An Example Experience
Let me illustrate all of this with an example. I went to meditate. I relaxed and observed my mind. Eventually, the external world faded. I began to see images. I observed them, and did not interfere with them at all, but just remained receptive to whatever emerged. After awhile, the images were related to scenes of temptation and lust. I observed them. They did not disturb me. I observed women behaving poorly. After some time, this scene changed. I then saw some strange creatures, somewhat like those sea cucumbers or creatures on the coral reefs. They were undulating in very deep waters. They had bright colors that shifted and changed dramatically, hypnotically, and were absorbing the light in the waters to sustain themselves. I observed this for awhile. Then, the scene began to fade as the meditation concluded, and I became aware again of the external world. I felt totally at peace and relaxed, and reflected on what I saw.
It is important to note that throughout the meditation and afterwards, I was perfectly still in every level. My body, thoughts, and emotions were totally motionless.
My intellect was not involved in any of this. Throughout this experience, I was simply observing. I had no particular feelings or analysis of it. I did not know what it meant, and my intellect made no attempt to explain it.
Once the meditation was concluded, I began reflect on what I saw, in order to bring the memories firmly into my mind. I began to analyze it, but also without intellect (thinking, comparing): instead, I observed the images and "listened" for any meanings to emerge intuitively. This was not thinking, but observing, receiving. It was immediately clear to me that everything I saw was related to psychological elements that were in my mind even when I was an infant. What caught my attention were those strange creatures... and then I understood they are elements of lust deep within my mind, fed by lust; in other words, they are like parasites, feeding on the psychological energies. Those creatures, hungry, were "behind" those lustful scenes in my mind; they wanted to be fed, and were trying to tempt me, to feed them through lustful habits. If I were unaware of that, I would make mistakes. So, in synthesis what I saw were layers of how lust steals energy and creates suffering. Even though I was not acting on that lust physically, some of my consciousness is trapped in those elements. I need to eliminate them to free that consciousness. Now, having seen them, I have more knowledge about them. So, I need to continue to meditate until they can be eliminated completely.
During the meditation I did not interfere at all. I only observed. So, while we say "As it is" and observe things without interfering with them, it is only so that we can acquire enough reliable information to finally change them permanently.
Also, this "as it is" does not mean that we go along with whatever the mind, heart and body want. No. "As it is" means that we observe the facts: then we can act correctly, based on accurate knowledge.
That is the goal: total and complete change, a total transformation of the mind, heart, body, and consciousness.
This is how we find true peace: through the elimination of all of our pride, envy, lust, etc.
If we have conflicts with ourselves or with others, then we have defects we need to eliminate.
When we do not have pride, we do not care who is better or worse than us; we are content with ourselves as we are, and have peace.
When we do not have anger, we are not offended by the words or actions of others; instead, we understand them and love them, and have peace no matter what they do. This does not mean we go along with their crimes or mistaken actions, or that we accept wrongdoing; to the contrary: it means we can act correctly without being blinded by anger or hate.
When we do not have envy, we no longer seek what is not rightfully ours. We are happy with what we have or what our own actions will earn in the future. We no longer compare ourselves with others, or gossip or bicker, or feel less than others. We have peace and contentment.
In short, when our defects are removed, we have peace.
When they are removed, our consciousness is totally liberated, awakened, contented, happy, and very wise.
Who would not want that?
The instructors who teach the lectures and courses are volunteers from a wide variety of backgrounds. Each has years of experience teaching and working with the practices and exercises that awaken the consciousness. Since the goal of dharma, yoga, or gnosis is to follow our inner Being, and to focus on divinity not terrestrial personalities, the lecturers remain anonymous, and do not broadcast their names, faces, or personal information. They do not have spiritual titles or names, do not accept followers, and live their lives anonymously like any other person in society.