Today we will continue describing the fundamental importance of one of the most important symbols of Asian mysticism, which is called the bhavachakra.
The bhavachakra is symbolized as a great wheel that has six regions. Most people call it “the wheel of samsara” or “the wheel of suffering.” But as we explained in these recent classes, the name bhavachakra actually means “the wheel of becoming,” and that difference is really significant. It represents how forces work in nature, specifically in relationship with our consciousness—that is, the very essence of our being, how we experience existence.
Our experience of existence is determined by ourselves, by our own actions, how we behave not only physically, but especially psychologically. That behavior as a consciousness, as a being, is what determines our experience of existence. What this reveals to us is very profound. It reveals that the way most people understand the wheel of life is wrong, because most people assume that karma is a fixed destiny and that suffering is the rule and is inescapable, and this is wrong. People assume that life is just happenstance, random, painful, and that the only way to find happiness is to accumulate as many pleasant sensations as possible, as quickly as possible, before we die. This way of thinking and behaving is also wrong.
What the bhavachakra reveals to us is that our experience of existence can be changed. It can be changed simply by modifying how we behave now, physically and psychologically. Those changes in our behavior determine our next experiences, and this is very easy for us to confirm. So today we are going to explain how specifically we can acquire the changes that we want.
We start this type of lecture with a certain assumption, and I will state it explicitly just to make it clear, so that we are all in the same page. The assumption is that you are listening to this type of information and studying this type of material because you want to escape suffering. You are tired of suffering. You want to know something about reality, about the truth, about heaven, about god, about divinity, whatever terms you want to use. The root attraction or draw of spirituality and religion is that longing, the urgency in ones heart to be happy, genuinely happy, and to know something about reality and the meaning of life. So I state that explicitly because, even though most listeners and students of this tradition have that longing, we all have it in different degrees, and that distinction needs to be clear in our own mind for ourselves: how strong that longing is, especially in relationship with our other longings, because the contradiction between them is the origin of much of our suffering. We have different competing longings and desires, and the conflict between them is the origin of a lot of our pain. So, studying this type of material hopefully begins to reveal to us the distinction, and then it is up to us to empower one side or the other, but to do it consciously.
In this tradition we point out three factors. These three factors exist in every religion and every philosophy that emerged out of the divine, and I explain it that way because there are many so-called religions and philosophies that did not come from the divine. We need to understand that, too. These three factors are universal in all genuine mystical traditions, in all genuine mystical philosophies that can actually lead us to experience reality.
The three factors are characterized as death, birth, and sacrifice. We have many lectures and books about these three factors. The three factors are very deep, very comprehensive. These three simple terms explain everything about religion, and for us to make our own spiritual practice effective, we need to make sure that in our daily observation and effort to know ourselves we confirm that these three are in activity, that we are actually implementing them, that we are living by them:
We talk about death in the sense of the death of our defects, the death of our impurities, the death of the causes of suffering – all of those parts of ourselves that need to be eliminated. So, for that to happen we need to know about them, we need to see them, we need to observe them, and study them, get to know them.
The second factor is birth, and that is the emergence of new life in us. The birth of the soul, the birth of wisdom, the birth of the Bodhisattva or a Buddha or a master or a pure elemental, whatever level we will reach is that birth of the newness of our life.
The third is sacrifice. We explain sacrifice generally to mean charity, to serve others, to help humanity, to give up our own interests and desires and longings in order to serve and aid others, to put others before ourselves, to emulate the great masters who did not seek to feed themselves, their desires, their name, their reputation, but only to serve others. So, that is a simple, quick explanation of what those three factors are. They are present in every genuine teaching. Jesus taught them in Matthew 16:24 in a very simple way that is very easy to misunderstand and take for granted. He stated,
“If any will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.”
Now, of course, most people who study Christianity or the teachings of Jesus read that and take it very superficially, and think it means that they have to just say some words and study the Bible, and that is more or less all they have to do, but that is not what Jesus said at all. In fact, that statement contains all three factors:
“Let him deny himself” is death. To deny oneself is to deny the false self. To deny ones lust, pride, anger, envy, gluttony, greed, laziness, etc. All of the many defects that we have that are characterized in the Christian tradition as Satan – our own ego, in other words.
“To take up his cross” is birth. The cross represents how forces in nature engage to create life. The cross represents masculine crossed with feminine to create life. It is a symbol of alchemy or tantra. So, that “take up his cross” does not mean to make a cross in your garage and carry it, or to hang a cross on your wall, etc. It is something psychological, spiritual, and energetic in ourselves.
Sacrifice is “and follow me”, to emulate the example that Jesus provided in his life, which is to serve others with humility but, primarily and most importantly, with love. This is the greatest teaching that Jesus gave: his example.
These three factors are taught in all Gnostic schools, they are taught in all the genuine religions in different ways. In Buddhism, we find it hidden in a variety of ways. The synthesis of Buddhism is often repeated in many traditions as:
“Commit not a single unwholesome action, cultivate a wealth of virtue, tame this mind of ours; this is the teaching of all the buddhas.”
So the three factors are hidden there in a Buddhist presentation.
More specifically, we find them in the three grounds that lead to liberation from suffering. In Buddhism these are:
Bhavana means “cultivation of mind.” Now I put this word “mind” in quotes because Asians know that this word “mind” does not mean intellect, but the Westerners do not realize that. So, Westerners read “cultivation of mind” and they assume it means the cultivation of that “me, myself” that is always talking in your head. It does not mean that. That “me, myself” that is always talking in our head is the ego, because that “me, myself” is all of our desires and longings and fears; it is also our personality. It is all of our subjective elements. It is not the Being. It is not divinity. So, instead of “mind”, we should say consciousness, because really in the Buddhist tradition, there are different words used for mind, but they all point towards mind-heart, which in English is more accurately “consciousness.” It is not referring to the mind-heart we have here. It is referring to something much more abstract: the ground consciousness or the fundamental root of what we call Being.
Bhavana or cultivation relates specifically to knowing how to pay attention, to be here and now, to be present, to meditate, to have insight into reality, to awaken. To arrive at that awakening is only possible when the elements that produce sleep and discord are removed. So, in synthesis, bhavana is death, the factor of death. The cultivation of awareness of consciousness of mind arises spontaneously when we remove the causes of suffering of our sleep, when we remove the defects. In Tibetan Buddhism, that cultivation of mind is called Lojong, which means “mind training.” It is primarily about removing afflictions from the mindstream.
The second of the three grounds is called dana, and that simply means “generosity,” giving, service, or sacrifice, in other words.
The final is sila: a virtue, morality, purity, and that is obviously birth, the birth of the new way of being.
So, the three factors are hidden in the Buddhist tradition behind Sanskrit and Pali words, but they are the same three factors. What is interesting when you study these different religions, when you apply these different religions, you find that everybody interprets them differently, and that everybody applies them according to their own level and their own understanding. The problem is that because our mind is not tame and because we have such a strong conflict in us between all the different longings, we generally lose sight of these fundamentals, and we generally modify our understanding in order to give ourselves room to continue being the way we have always been. In other words, people apply these techniques only up to a certain limit. They apply them within their comfort zone, but not beyond that. This is natural and normal, but unfortunately is the cause of a lot of problems in spiritual movements. So, in other words, we find spiritual movements where these teachings are presented and everyone talks in a beautiful way about the three factors, about the death of desire, or death of ego, about the birth of virtue, or the natural mind, about service for humanity and sacrifice for others. But at the same time we find that these people are ruled by their pride, are motivated by envy, are enslaved by their lust. This proves without any doubt that those teachings, those factors, are not being applied. Maybe in a little, small shallow way to some insignificant things, but not to the primary causes of the problems. You see, if there are problems in the temple, in a group, in a movement, in a school, it is because the members are not living by these factors. It is simple: the causes of discord are inside of us, not outside. If we find discord outside of us—conflicts, fighting, gossip, scandalous situations—it is because the causes are inside of us, and they are not being changed. It is important for us to be very sincere about our analysis of these factors because in order for us to advance, they need to be put into play in a balanced way.
Death obviously refers to working on ones egos, to analyzing our defects, to trying to change. Birth comes naturally from that if one is applying the teachings in the right way: transmuting energy, saving energy not wasting energy, working with the practices in a healthy upright way. So, regarding birth and death, people can generally grasp some degree of their meaning.
It is interesting to instructors that most students who learn about the three factors rarely ask questions about birth and death. It is interesting. Most people do not ask much about death. Maybe it is because most people do not want to die, psychologically speaking. And also, most do not ask much about birth. The real questions that always come up are: What about service? What about sacrifice? How do I help others? This is the part that people get stuck on. So, that is today’s lecture, is going to be about that. What is it to serve, to sacrifice? But in order to understand that, you need to first have in mind the first two factors: death and birth.
To explain sacrifice, first I want to talk about some of these terms so that we can be clear on the meaning and the roots of the words.
Service in English is rooted in French and some older terms that are previous to that, including Latin.
SERVICE: c.1100, “celebration of public worship,” from Old French servise, from Latin servitium “slavery, servitude,” from servus “slave”
Sanskrit: सेवा Seva, used in Karma Yoga. “service, devotion, worship, reverence, sexual intercourse”
Service actually means “a celebration of a public worship.” The original usage in English comes from that. So that is why we could go to a religious service, like Mass, or a group prayer. But the root of that in Latin comes from servitude or slavery, which is a very strange relationship. In Sanskrit, we find another interesting correlation. The word for service in Sanskrit is seva, which to my mind, looks very much like service, very similar. In fact, a lot of the English, French, and Latin terms can be traced back to Sanskrit, so there may be a relationship that the etymologists do not know about these days. The word seva, which is used in Karma Yoga, means service and devotion, it means worship and reverence, but it can also mean sexual relations. It is a very interesting fact that very few people know even though it is in the dictionary.
If you study Hinduism or any form of traditional yoga, not the modern exercises that people call yoga, but actual yoga, the words seva is very important. If you attend any Hindu temple or Hindu tradition, all students, all devotees are expected to perform seva. So, if you stay at a temple or you visit a temple or you go visit a teacher, it is a normal process for you to contribute seva according to your abilities. It may be to sweep, to wash dishes, to cook food, to help the elderly, to help clean the place; to perform service as a servant, with humility. To put yourself to work in order to keep that temple functional. This is a normal part of Hinduism and Buddhism. In the West, we do not have that. Westerners expect other people to do all that stuff. Westerners just want to come in, take whatever they can take, and get out before the offering bowl comes around. But in the East, it is not like that. In the East, it is well understood that when you are receiving a teaching, you need to give something back, you need to do your part: it is reciprocal. This is the most basic, foundational, kindergarten level of service, of sacrifice. It is to contribute to the source of your spiritual nourishment. Whoever is nourishing you spiritually, you should return the favor. That is the most basic level of sacrifice: to help your church, to contribute to your temple, to your teacher, whatever that place happens to be: a church, a temple, a synagogue, a mosque. That basic practice is considered as fundamental for beginners, and in the East it is assumed that everyone will do it. No one says anything, no one asks you, you just show up, and you do it. If you see something that need to be done, you do it, you do not have to ask. In the West, it is different. They have to make lists and charts, and constantly remind people, sending emails, making phone calls, begging for support. If you did not do your service today they get after you about it because people in the West have a different mentality.
Many people think of the factor of sacrifice as being some form of service. First, let us compare the definitions of service and sacrifice.
SACRIFICE: From Old French sacrifise (12c.), from Latin sacrificium, from sacrificus “performing priestly functions of sacrifices,” from sacra “sacred rites” (properly neuter plural of sacer “sacred”) + root of facere “to do, perform”
Hebrew: zabach nm. “sacrifice, offering; feast; slaughter.” v. “to sacrifice, slaughter; slay, kill”
Sacrifice is different from service. Again, we looked the English word, which comes from French and Latin, and it again relates to religious functions. Service relates to religious services, but sacrifice comes from priestly functions. So where service is related to activities of the congregation, sacrifice is more in relation to the priests. It is a different level. The word really comes from “sacred rites,” which you can see here in the etymology I have given you. If you compare that with the Hebrew, you find that this word sacrifice is even more compelling, because it can mean not only religious functions, but it can also means slaughter. It can mean to kill.
Now, if you back away from these terms a little bit and you remember the factors, it all makes sense. Birth, death, and sacrifice are three factors. You cannot separate them and effect anything beneficial. To really put these three factors in motion in your life, you need to learn to see them as one thing – three sides of one thing, which is simply to be consciously active. Birth, death and sacrifice are just three faces of one action. When you really study birth, death, and sacrifice in your own efforts to awaken and change, you will discover that it is true. You cannot have a birth without a death, and you cannot have a death without a sacrifice. It is self-evident, and that is the meaning of the scriptures, and we find that throughout the scriptures. In the Bible, for example, we find many examples of sacrifices. These sacrifices are symbolic. Some of them are actually black magic, because the Bible has been modified. But the genuine sacrifices, such as, for example, when the angel commands Isaac to be sacrificed – that is a symbol, it represents something in relation with our soul. That sacrifice represents how we must sacrifice ourselves, and in that sacrifice of ourselves, we have to die. How can you have a sacrifice without death? The emergence after that death will be a birth of something new. So you see those three factors are one, not separate. You cannot teach them separately, you cannot practice them separately. You cannot only talk about death. What would be the point of only talking about death if you do not talk about what is born anew as a result of that? Death, itself, is a sacrifice that leads to a new birth, so you always have to talk about all three.
Traditionally, we find sacrifice very mystically presented in religion, but because our minds have degenerated so much, we have completely misinterpreted it. Nowadays, we look back at our ancients and think that they were terrible, awful. We condemn them and think we are much better than the ancient ones. We think this way because we misread our own traditions. We misunderstand our own scriptures; we do not realize that our mythologies are mythology. Stories that teach something true, but that are not literal.
For example, in the Bible we have the story of Cain and Abel, the sons and Adam and Eve. Everybody nowadays thinks that they were actual people, that there was a Cain and there was an Abel, and that Cain killed Abel, and somehow all of humanity came after that. But they are not literal people, they are symbols of the soul and the mind in us. What is interesting in the story of Cain and Abel is that both of them are making sacrifices to divinity. Cain who is called a hunter has his sacrifice. He sacrifices what he gathers from nature. But Abel sacrifices his most precious lamb that he raised, that he loved, that he cared for, and that is what he gave and God appreciated that more. That is why Cain became jealous and killed Abel: envy because of Abel’s sacrifice, but people read that and think that it is literal and that Abel actually killed a lamb. Why does God need us to kill a lamb? God is God, and if God needs a lamb, he can kill it himself. He does not need a person to kill a lamb, what does killing a lamb prove? It does not prove anything. We kill to eat, anyway. How is killing to eat and killing to give to God any different? Why does God need someone to kill an animal? It makes no sense, unless you think about it as a myth, and you think about it as symbolic, and then it makes sense. A lamb represents Christ, the lamb of God. Christ is the son of God, the light that emerges out of the Absolute. It is the fire that gives life to all things. Abel is the soul who is giving his very life for others. He is emulating Christ, sacrificing himself, but Abel doing that does not make sense to Cain, who is the mind, the ego, who sees that and becomes jealous, envious, angry, proud. That is what the story means; that is easy to see. That is the conflict that is in us.
So, when we take that understanding and look at the other traditions we find the same thing. We see how all these other traditions lost sight of the meanings of sacrifice. The very ancient Americans in the beginning sacrificed properly, but as their traditions degenerated they began to sacrifice living things, including people. That is a grave crime: to kill, for what? Likewise, amongst other traditions, such as amongst the Greeks, we find symbolized many traditions of killing animals to give to the gods. People nowadays do not understand that it is symbolic, that the animals represent animalistic elements in our mind: it is our animal lust, our animal anger, our animal envy that we have to sacrifice, that we have to put into the fire, the Christic fire, to burn up, to return those elements back to God. That is the most beautiful sacrifice, but the Greeks gradually forgot those things and were misguided, misled, and led into committing black magic. That is why in the Bible we find some examples of black magic – sacrificing animals, sacrificing things that will do not mean anything to us, but we are doing it to get power or to get favors. That is the nature of black magic. So, we need to be clear about this. Sacrifice exists in white, pure traditions, and also in the black ones.
To understand this better, let us read this quote from Bodhisattvacharyavatara, which is also called “the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life” by Shantideva. It is the most important scripture of Mahayana Buddhism. This is one of my favorites quotes, that says:
“All whosoever who are happy in the world
Are (so) through the wish for the happiness of others;
While all whosoever who are miserable in the world
Are (so) through the wish for the happiness of themselves.
But what need is there to elaborate more?
Just look at the difference between the two:
An infantile person acting for his own self-aims
And the Sage (Buddha) acting for the aims of others.”
This short passage illustrates the distinction that needs to be clear when we observe our own behaviors. When we want to understand sacrifice and what it means, this quote elaborates what it means.
Let me talk briefly about that first part of the quote because I know the way it is translated here is a little hard to grasp. What it is basically saying is, all the happiness in the world came about from serving others, from doing for others, and all the misery and unhappiness in the world came about from serving oneself. If you really observe your own experience of life, you can see the truth of it. Those people who are concerned about themselves, focused on themselves, do not produce happiness for anyone else, and they certainly do not produce any happiness for themselves, because as much as they tried to feed their desire, the desire only grows. It is never satisfied. Yet, those who are truly made happy are made happy when someone helps them. Is it not true? So, that quote is illustrating something significant about the nature of generosity or giving, the nature of sacrifice.
To understand that better, we can look at the Tree of Life. The Tree of Life, which is a symbol that most people associate with Kabbalah, is actually present in all religions, and illustrates for us the structure of existence. We see in this graphic what at first glance can appear quite complicated, but if you study it you will find that it is actually quite simple and very intuitive.
This structure illustrates how nature functions in a process of laws, from the most rarefied, pure regions of existence down to the most dense. There is a stratification of many levels. So at the top of this graphic we see the Absolute. It is the uncreated, the unmanifested pure potentiality without any differentiation. No measure, no weight, no space, no time. Something, but that is not yet.
When the Absolute manifests into existence, it manifests as a light. Every tradition has symbols of that light, we call it Christ, which is from Greek Christos, which esoterically means “fire, light.” But that fire is not physical fire or literal fire, it means the fire that is burning in every atom, the fire of existence, a living thing, it is something alive. That first emergence is characterized in different religions as a Trinity, as a three in one. So Christianity represents it as the Trinity: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. In Hinduism it is represented as Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. In Buddhism, it is the Trikaya: Dharmakaya, Nirmanakaya, and Sambhogakaya. That three in one simply represents how that one light first manifests and contains in itself the archetypes of everything – the archetypes, the blueprints, the potential. So let us understand that. In synthesis, this is a light fire, an intelligence, that is one thing, but is three things. We call it also the three forces. So Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva are the first logos, second logos, and third logos. These are the forces that create, three forces to create anything.
That is reflected here physically. To create here physically always takes three forces. So what is our greatest creative power? To create life, and to create life you need three factors, three forces: a man, a woman, and sex. Those are the three forces.
What is curious about that is that we find this structure of three repeated down this Tree of Life. We have an upper Trinity, we have a middle Trinity, we have a lower Trinity, and then we have a single sphere by itself. Then, the whole thing is reflected inverted at the bottom. Three Trinities, and then one by itself. So, there we have ten spheres.
The tenth one is our physicality, it is the physical world, it is our physical body. It is where we are here and now. This realm, which can be called the Kingdom, is the condensation, the accumulation of the stratified levels above it on this graphic. So everything that descended from above is made concrete here, meaning that this world is a reflection of all those laws above us. We can find them here and work with them here if we are smart, if we are intelligent, if we know how.
The law of three is an example of that. We can create life, but there is only one way to do it. All the scientists think they are going find another way, but they cannot. As close as they get, all they are doing is playing with matter when they are trying to create a living thing in a laboratory, they cannot do it. The only way you can create a living thing is by a sexual combination: masculine, feminine, and the sexual force that unites them.
Three forces create. Three forces also destroy. So, when all those forces and energies which descend down this ray of creation, they create all the worlds above us, all the heavens, finally condensing here physically. They are flowing through us, through our three brains, through our three nervous systems, right now, all the time.
Every energy, every quanta of energy we use contains the atomic power of those three forces, and you know what happens when you split an atom – there is a lot of energy there. That energy is moving through us now, through our intellect, through our heart, through our body. How do we use it? Not only individually, but collectively? The state of our planet reveals how we are using it. We are not using those three forces in ourselves to create life, we are using them to destroy life. Sure, lots of people are having sex and having babies, but those babies are growing up to create atomic weapons, chemical weapons, pornography, crime, subterfuge. Where do we see true creativity that reflects the spirit, the Being, Christ? We do not. Behind every so-called “good creation” made by this humanity is pride, lust, envy, greed...
So, in synthesis, we can say that the three forces (+ - =) create through the three factors.
The three forces create life through:
Energy is flowing through us every day, every moment; how we are using it? We convert that energy through our actions (mentally, emotionally, physically: three forces). The problem is that we do not analyze how we do it. We do not have any wisdom to use it well. We do not have the skill to use it well. We do not have the training, we do not have the understanding to see how our actions affect everyone else. We have a myopic conscious blindness. We think that we exist in a little bubble, and that our thoughts and our feelings are our own, and that whenever we think and feel and do only affects us, and that we are isolated and alone. We are wrong on all counts, dead wrong. We are not isolated in any fashion, not at all – not physically, not emotionally, not intellectually, not spiritually. There is absolutely zero isolation among us. The sensation of isolation is an illusion that is self-propagated. It is a lie, an illusion produced by the ego. Because we think and feel that we are in our own little shell and can do our own little thing, we indulge in crime, psychologically, spiritually, even physically, and think it will not affect anyone. Everything we think, feel and do, has a tremendous impact not only on us, but on everything else.
The Commandment says “Thou shall not kill”, and we think it means physically. It does not. It means emotionally, it means spiritually, it means psychologically. When you speak badly against a person, when you criticize a person, you kill their image. When you tell your friend, “You know what that guy did, he did this and that, can you believe it?” And the other person is in a shock and says “I can't believe it! I thought he was so nice, he was terrible.” In that person's mind, their image of them has been killed. They will never trust that person again, their heart is closed. That is murder, psychologically, and what if it is happening on a greater scale? What if what we are saying is a lie? What if it is not true? It is worse. What if we say untrue things about something who is totally undeserving? What if we in such an action interfere with a good work that person is doing for humanity? What if we spread lies about a spiritual teacher or guide, thereby interfering with their mission to aid others? The karma for us is truly heavy.
So if this is true, all the sins and defects, envy, fear, pride, lust, gluttony, greed, all of them, are constantly in motion in our psychological mind stream. We are converting those forces and energies that are flowing into us, those forces and energies are dying, sacrificed through our action in giving birth to pain, to defects, to suffering. So everybody says where does suffering come from? Why did God create suffering? God did not make it. We did. God gave us free will. The universe is simply there. It is a set of forces and laws and energies that we can use according to our will. What is our will? Clearly it is evil. It is impure, it is polluted, and we use our energy to create pain. So, we can change that. If we are sincere, we can change it. Let us see what the scripture say. There is scripture that says:
“Action does indeed bind the Self
except when done as sacrifice;
So action must be consecrated,
offered to Deity high above.
“When beings came from Creator
He ordained all to sacrifice;
By sacrifice are worlds sustained
And by it everyone does live.”
Let us talk about what this means. “Action does indeed bind the Self except when done as sacrifice.” Anyone here know how to say action in Sanskrit? Karma. The word karma literally just means “an act.” But we interpret and understand it to mean “action and consequence.” Now, in the West, karma is completely misunderstood, and people think karma just means punishment, but it does not mean that. It means action and consequence, whether good or bad. What this passage is stating is that action binds the self, except when it is done as a sacrifice. So if we want to be free from bondage, we need to know what is a sacrifice.
Remember the word sacrifice can mean a priestly function, and it can also mean an act of killing. So it says “So that action must be consecrated, offered to Deity high above.” So, the answer is there. If we perform our actions in remembrance of God, in remembrance of the divine, and in remembrance of that Being, that is, cognizant, aware, performing the action with wisdom, then the consequences of the action do not bind one to the wheel of becoming.
You see, all the beings in existence are bound to existence because of their actions, because their actions were not done as sacrifice. Their actions were done for self. If we learn to perform our actions not just physically, but emotionally, mentally, consciously, always cognizant of others, then we can unbind ourselves. This is the meaning.
When we learn to turn our action—physical, emotional, mental, conscious—away from self-love, self-obsession, and instead we love others, we love our neighbor as ourself, instead of loving ourselves first, then we turn the wheel of becoming towards the favor of everyone.
The second part says, “When beings came from Creator he ordained all to sacrifice. By sacrifice are worlds sustained and by it everyone does live.” This is also a very powerful statement that is completely misunderstood in modern times. “By sacrifice are worlds sustained and by it everyone does live.” This does not mean that if we start sacrificing animals to the gods that we will sustain life; it does not mean that, but some have interpreted it that way. Or if we do sacrifices of butter or lamps, or sacrifices in the temple or doing rituals that that will sustain life. It does not mean that.
“By sacrifice our worlds sustained” refers to how that light emerges out of the Absolute, because that emergence is a sacrifice. That light is called Christ. When that light emerges and begins to create, it creates through its own sacrifice. It gives itself so that others may live. In each birth, something dies. In each death, something is born. In each birth, in each death, there is a sacrifice of life. That life is the root force, it is Christ itself.
When you eat something, you kill something, and the death of that thing gives you life. It is sacrificed so that you live. Every time you breathe, you kill the chemicals and gases that you breathe in. Those elements of nature, which have life in their level, die. They are sacrificed on the cross of existence so that you may live. All the clothes that you are wearing were made through the sacrifice of someone’s time and energy who may have suffered terribly to make them, but we are completely ignorant of it. We have no idea of the sacrifices made for us so that we can enjoy this very moment! We do not grow our own food, we do not raise our own food, we do not kill our own meat. Somebody does it for us, and we take it all for granted, and we keep living without any cognizance that every step of the way there is sacrifice for there to be birth, there is death for there to be birth. That is what this means, and it is especially true spiritually.
Studying all this would be very interesting if it were just taken that materialistically, but that is not why we are here. We want to change. We want to experience the reality. We want to overcome suffering.
This image of Christ crucified represents the three factors perfected, completely perfected. It is unfortunate now that this image of the Christ crucified carries so much psychological baggage, so much spiritual baggage that we can no longer see the image for what it actually represents. Now we look at it and we think of the atrocities that were committed by the churches, and we think of the fanatics who blindly follow dogmatic interpretations of the teachings of Jesus without any comprehension of their meaning. So we see this image and it conjures up negative emotions in many people, and that is really unfortunate, because the image of Christ on the cross is a beautiful representation of the function of nature of the highest levels. It is a beautiful representation of what we must perform if we wish to reach those levels spiritually.
This image shows Yeshua the savior giving his last breath, his last drop of blood so that others may live. That is the nature of a bodhisattva. The bodhisattva, which we explained in the previous two lectures, never seeks to serve him or herself, but lives and dies for everyone else. We have many beautiful examples of that type of psychology, in Jesus (Aberamentho), Moshe (Moses), Milerepa, Buddha, Joan of Arc. Many examples, beautiful teachers who lived that.
So in this particular image we see above the cross that cryptic mantra INRI, which superficially is translated to mean “Yeshua, the king of Jews.” But really, those three letters hide many things. Specific to this lecture, it hides four Latin words:
Ignis naturae renevatur integra
that means “the fire renews nature incessantly.” But how does it do it?
Well, let us look at nature. Become a scientist and imagine nature, the whole planet. Imagine the planet is in your laboratory. You are a scientist in a spaceship and you have the whole planet there in your hologram deck or whatever those things are called, and you are able to turn and look at it and see all the living things on this planet. Look at it scientifically and see how life is sustained on this world. It is very simple, and very profound. It is sustained through death, through birth, and through sacrifice. This truth is inescapable, and yet all of the foolish intellectual animals, which is us, think that we do not need to listen to that, that we can circumvent death, we can avoid death, we do not have to deal with death, we can extend our lives indefinitely, we can put our brains into machines. People are literally trying to do that. You would be surprised how much money is being spent right now to try to prolong the existence of our putrid minds. We think that we can overcome nature's process of birth and create life in a laboratory. We think that sacrifice is just a theory. We foolishly think about life in a completely wrong way.
Spiritually speaking, in order to reach the highest levels, we have to come into balance with nature. We have to learn about nature and work in harmony with nature. We cannot change the laws of nature, but we can ascend beyond them. In this level, birth, death, and sacrifice are the law. So, we have to learn to work with that, and learn to work in harmony, especially spiritually.
So, the fire renews nature incessantly. What is the fire? We are not talking about physical fire. We are talking about the Christ, the light, the Ain Soph, that Ain Soph Aur that emerges out of the Absolute and produces that first Trinity – that is the fire. And that fire descends through all the stratifications of nature all the way down to this level where we are, even though we think we are in the greatest place in the universe, it actually very low, very dense. But this world is a reflection of that ray, and everything that has existence has that fire inside of it, it is a Christic fire, it is the force of life, force of Being. That is the fire that constantly renews nature, and how does it do it? Through those three forces.
Everything dies, there is no exception. I apologize if you did not realize it, but it is true. We will die, that is unavoidable, but what is modifiable is what that death will create. Death is not an end of something, it is a beginning of something. When we die something will be born, but that depends on the type of death (study our course on Death). So physically that is true but especially spiritually that is true. Will our death emulate this example of Jesus and be a sacrifice?
What about today? In each moment we are dying, and in each moment we are being born. You need to eat and drink and sleep because your body is dying and being born at the same time. So on the cross of your body, you are sacrificing energy constantly in order to be born anew each day. You are creating new cells, rejuvenating organs, growing, just physically.
What about psychologically? What about spiritually? The fire flows into us. It is sacrificed on the cross of our three brains. It dies in order for the sparks of cognizance to flow through us. That is what we call awareness, perception, feelings, thoughts, sensations. Those do not just happen. They are the firing, the explosions of energy being sacrificed in creating those sensations, those thoughts, those feelings. Birth, death, and sacrifice. Every thought is the death of energy and the creation of energy, a sacrifice. Every emotion. When you feel that anger blossom in your heart, you get really mad, there is sacrifice. Something dies, something is born. There is a sacrifice there. There is an action. Then you have to ask yourself: In this INRI, in this fire that is renewing my nature, what am I creating? What am I destroying? Am I helping myself or helping others? Am I following the example of the great teachers or am following the example of Satan who serves only himself?
That scripture continues,
“Things exist through all other things,
all things are knit with all others,
so that the being of a thing
is contribution by others.
“No one exists independently
as all are, also all others,
thus existence of anything
is sacrifice by other things.”
This is worthy of meditation, a lot of meditation. Even though this is not a Buddhist scripture, this illustrates the core principle of Buddhism, which is interdependence. It is the core principle of the bhavachakra. It is what is represented in the twelve nidanas around the bhavachakra. It is dependent origination. It is pratitiyasamutpada, interdependence.
“Things exist through all other things, all things are knit with all others, so that the being of a thing is contribution by others.” We all have this illusion that we are isolated and exist in a bubble. It is a lie. Absolutely every particle that you experience as yourself you got from somebody else. Can you deny it? You got your body from your parents. You got your personality from your parents, siblings, friends, schoolmates, teachers, culture, religion, city, state, country. You did not invent any of that, and yet you clutch onto it as if it was “your self.” But all of it was given to you by someone else. None of it is genuine, not of it is real, none of it is lasting. It is all impermanent, it will all die.
“No one exists independently as all are, also all others, thus existence of anything is sacrifice by other things.” Physically speaking, we are all here because our parents gave birth to us, and our parents were here because their parents gave birth to them, and that is the process of birth, death, and sacrifice from generation to generation. It is undeniable. But it is deeper than that. Merely on the physical level, the literal level, we do not understand this at all, because we persist in the illusion that we are in an isolated bubble, and that we are alone and that everything we do is just about us, and we do not affect anyone and no one affects us. It is all an illusion. None of our thoughts are original, none of our feelings are original, unique. That feeling of a sense of self, of me, is no different than the pride of any other person. Your anger, your resentment, is no different than anyone else’s. It is not special.
Moreover, everything that you have and everything that you experience as yourself at this level depends entirely on everything else. It is not independent. Nothing about us is independent. Nothing about us exists independently. We exist in this level because of a very delicate balance of very subtle things. If we modified our atmosphere by the smallest fraction, there would be no life on this planet. If we modify the position of the planet in space by a fraction, there would be no life here. Everything is so delicate, just balanced, just so. But we take it for granted.
What about our own life, just physically? A little tiny microbe can kill us. One little microbe. What kind of power do we have then? What kind of independent existence do we have when all around us are the constant threats to end that existence as we know it? One distracted moment is enough for us to be killed. To step in front of a car, to touch a live wire and be shocked, to drink poison, to do something foolish and die, especially when you are driving a car. One flash of not paying attention and you are dead. There are many cases like that. So where is our independent existence? We are very dependent on many things. I mentioned our food and water. If there were not many people elsewhere growing food and raising food, we would not be able to survive.
We are dependent on so many things, but most importantly is to analyze this spiritually. Spiritually speaking, this is especially true. This bubble that we believe we exist in is a complete illusion, and it is easy to see past it if we simply make the attempt. Have you not noticed that you can, for example, step into an elevator and there are other people, but you can sense when somebody behind you is really angry or upset? You do not even have to see them, but you can feel it. Or if you go into any place, you can sense someone's emotion when it’s strong? Is it not true? Or, for example, you can be walking along and you suddenly turn to look and someone's looking at you. You sensed it, you did not see it, but you felt it. How is that? How is that we sense one another's feelings and thoughts even though we are not paying attention to it? It is because they affect us. We do affect each other, we are just not aware of it. The surprising truth is, when you actually begin to awaken consciousness and to pay attention, you realize this humanity is a collective mind.
Everyone thinks that they are an individual, but there are no individuals here. We are all part of one cloth trapped in the illusion that we are separate, but we are not. We are like particles of water in a wave in the ocean, each drop thinking, “I am just a drop and I am just flowing along here”, not realizing that we are just part of the wave swept along with no control, no awareness. To become an individual is something unique. It requires cognizance. It requires the death of the impurity and the birth of the soul. That is only acquired through sacrifice. The sacrifice of the old, the sacrifice of the impure, the sacrifice of the illusion. That is the nature of the work. This passage is pointing out how the Christ flows through nature, and it summarizes in saying,
“All is, then, sacrifice alone,
As Yajna known, the holy deed
One does belongs wholly
To everyone and everything.”
This passage summarizes the previous ones that I have read to you, and just to give you a synthesis, because I know everyone had already forgot what I read, what this is stating is, if you perform your actions for the benefit of others, in remembrance of divinity, and with cognizance and love, any action becomes sacrifice. It becomes consecrated, it becomes holy, it becomes a pure act. In other words, it becomes a reflection of Christ in the world. It is Christified, consecrated. Therefore, it deserves the term Yajna.
Yajna यज्ञ is Sanskrit and means “sacrifice.” Nowadays, the term is interpreted to literally mean priestly functions in the temple where ordained priests offer elements to a fire, and they chant mantras and they put in butter and other substances into a fire. That is what people understand now as Yajna. It is just like in every religion where it has been reduced down to the most literal, physical interpretation, but that is not why this is written. Those traditions are beautiful and we respect them, but the meaning of the term applies to our action in every moment. It refers to how every action that we perform is conditioned, that is actions of body, of heart, of mind.
So the scripture is stating all existing things were put into existence for sacrifice in order to produce existence. The one who comprehends that and acts in remembrance of that performs a holy action. In other words, stated simply: do goodness. Be kind. Comprehend your effects on others, and act as though everything that you interact with is Christ. That is how you consecrate your behavior.
These quotes are from the Bhagavad-gita, which means “the song of Lord”, and it is an excerpt from a much larger epic poem in Sanskrit called the Mahabharata, which means “the great warrior”.
The word yajna is really important. Translated literally it means “sacrifice,” but it could also mean “fire, worship, offering, praise, prayer, devotion.” In the Vedic traditions, there is an entire science of sacrifice, of rituals. It is now all literal and physical, that is not what we are referring to in these lectures. What we need in these moments is a profound psychological spiritual sacrifice in ourselves.
The term यज्ञ yajna is composed of very interesting parts. The first syllable य ya means “light, wind, carriage, mover, or joiner.” Everyone knows the terms Mahayana, Tantrayana, Sutrayana. That ya means “vehicle, that which brings together.” It is the thing that carries us from one place to another. Now compare that with Hebrew. We all studied Hebrew, we all know what ya (Jah, Ia, Yah) means. Ya is a name for divinity. Io, Io-Peter, Jupiter, ya, or ja, Hallelujah. That Iod Hei, that ya, is the same. It is the light of Christ. It is that first emergence. Ya. It is the fire. Is that not beautiful? Hidden in the word “sacrifice” is the light, the fire of divinity.
So, the second part ज्ञ jna means “consciousness, knowledge, understanding, knowing, wise, having a soul.” It literally means the “thinking soul”. It means the planet Mars. It can also mean the planet Mercury. I find this fascinating that these specific elements are all implied by that letter.
Now, this word यज्ञ yajna is written with two letters: य ya and ज्ञ jna. All of those meanings are hidden in that short phrase. It is very beautiful.
So let us synthesize what this means. If we learn to harness our jna, our consciousness, here and now, if we learn to be awake, and if we learn to act learning from our masters, our teachers, to love others, to have more concern for others than for ourselves, to measure our every thought and feeling and action against that, to say, “Am I really doing best for myself or for others? Am I serving my pride or am I serving what is better for the group? What is better for the community? Am I chasing my lust or am I killing my desires in order to be a better representation of the light?” We need to always have that process in play in us, that is to make our jna active. That becomes a sacrifice. Does it not? Is it not a sacrifice to deny oneself as Jesus taught? To deny oneself, to say to one's own desire, “no, because to serve my own desire creates suffering for me and everyone else.” When we do that, when we perform that sacrifice, we bring the presence of that divinity. We become more aware of others. That is an act of love, and when there is an act of love, how does that happen? It is not in a bubble, it is not in isolation, it is the very fire of Christ that is emerging in that moment, in all the related atoms, in all of the particles, in everything. When you sincerely do a kind act for someone, when you give up yourself, and you sacrifice for someone, you feel different. And the other person will feel it, and the environment can become charged. That is not an illusion. That is not invented. It is not made up. That is the fire of Christ in that environment that charges all the particles in that environment. When you go to a place where that type of action has been performed consistently, that environment is different. It is charged. That is why in certain places you can feel the presence of something different, you can sense it with your heart. That is a literal actual thing that happens. It is because the jna, the consciousness, has been activated for sacrifice of the ya, the light, the wind, joins. It creates. There is birth of beauty, of love.
So, what is really profound about this for me is that it relates to another important word, प्रज्ञ prajna. If you studied Buddhism or Hinduism, this word will be familiar to you, especially in Buddhism. Prajna means wisdom. It is also the highest of the six paramitas. It means intelligence, wisdom, or awareness, and of its components, the ज्ञ jna is the same as yajna, but that first letter प्र pra means “before.” So, prajna, wisdom, is referring to that which is “before consciousness,” that which is “before knowledge,” that which is “before the soul.” What is before knowledge? It is Christ, itself.
So what we need to see, then, is how the paramitas work. I told you in the beginning that one of the three grounds is dana, generosity. It is also the first of the paramitas taught in Buddhism. Paramita literally translated means a “perfection,” like a jewel or a gem, but the meaning is an attribute of consciousness.
Many people read this and think that they need to work on each one of these individually and try to develop these characteristics. That is not how you approach this. The paramitas are simple to understand, but very profound to actually experience. The paramitas are attributes of conscious action. They are not something that you can acquire and put in your pocket. They are not medals or awards or achievements. They are qualities of a soul. They are qualities of action.
The way it works is quite simple. The very first paramita is one of the three grounds of Buddhism, it is one of the most important things that Buddhists learn, it is dana, generosity. It begins with service, helping in the temple, helping the monks and nuns, donating to the temple, supporting its activities, going and helping the poor, needy, etc., those types of actions. That is a type of generosity; that is a kind of service. It is not sacrifice; it is service. It is good. It is needed, but it is not sacrifice yet. By doing service (dana), by learning to act on behalf of others, if you do it in a cognizant way, you start to learn about ethics (sila, the second paramita). Because then you learn, “Wow, if I do this good thing, if I really help this person, it makes us both happy… not only that, when I really help someone else, I put them in a position so they can help others too.” So it becomes exponential. The more we help others, the more they can help others, and it spreads. That is the basis of ethics where you start to learn if I do something selfish for myself, I am taking from others, I am restricting others, I am making other suffer so that I suffer, in turn. So generosity and ethics are totally intertwined.
When you start acting with ethics (2), serving others, you realize that to do that effectively you need a lot of patience (3) because to serve others is not easy. People are not gracious, they do not have gratitude, and to perform service for others, to serve especially when it is not wanted or not recognized and you do not get praise and you do not get recognized for that, it is difficult. Oftentimes, real sacrifice is rejected by humanity, criticized, attacked. To keep sacrificing in such conditions requires patience. To continue doing it takes patience, it takes serenity. To serve without expectation. To do it because it is right, and thus by doing that you are developing diligence (4, virya), right? To keep doing what you know is right even though you are not necessary seeing the fruits. You are being patient about it, you are doing it because it is right to serve others. So you are developing diligence, the energy to keep doing it. Naturally, because you are making that effort (4), you are developing concentration (5, dhyana), the ability to keep focused on that one thing, to keep moving and keep moving. That, in and of itself, starts to open up how all this works together and that gives you prajna (6), insight, wisdom, understanding, compassion. That brings it back around to the beginning (1, generosity), that is how these paramitas work. They are all one thing, just like the three factors. This is just a more deep and more specific way of expressing the same teaching.
Now, what I was pointing out to you about yanja and prajna is that if you are able to perform every action in this way, when you go to your job and you have to deal with your co-workers, your customers, the people you work for, the people you work with, the public, your boss, and you go home and you have to deal with your family, and you go on the bus or the train and you have to deal with the public, if you can perform all those actions in a heightened state of the welfare of others, you are performing sacrifice. In a very beginning way, particularly if you are doing it with love, not just because I told you so or because you feel bad and you feel like you need to do something good or else you will get in trouble. That is not why. You do it because you sincerely see that people are suffering, and you want to help them. That is what empowers it: love. It is when that type of love that you feel when you see someone who is sick or suffering in pain, you forget yourself, do you not? When you see someone sick or suffering in pain, you are not thinking, “Oh, I really have to go the grocery store, and here is this person bleeding all over the floor. What am I going to do now?” You do not think that. You forget the grocery store and you leap to help. Is it not true? If you see someone in danger, someone suffering in pain that you can actually do something for, you do it. This is a natural spontaneous reflection of our true nature: altruism, love. We all have it, but we have lost touch with it.
That simple quality, if we pay attention to it, if we remain aware of it, it can grow. That is the seed of the bodhisattva. That is what the bodhisattva emerges out of. That selfless love for others. To be of that type of service, not just physically, but spiritually.
Now, in order to do that, in order to enter into the bodhisattva path, properly speaking as we explained previously, you have to reach a certain level. We are all beginners, so we are aspiring to that. To really help people spiritually, you need to have something to offer. It is very beautiful to provide the teaching and help people and guide people. In fact, that is the highest form of generosity, yet one has to earn that level.
There are three types of generosity: the first is to give the teachings, to provide the dharma to humanity. I think that many students when they read that, or a study that and hear about sacrifice, many get immediately intimidated and think, “Oh no, I have to go teach and be in front of a crowd!” No, it does not mean that. We are not all destined to be teachers. We each have our own vocation. We each have our inner being who has a skill, a mission, a gift that can reflect through us to help others. We each have our own. You will not find it by imitating anyone else. You will find it by being true to your Being, and allowing your Being to guide you. Thus, you can perform this type of generosity. Each of us can give the teachings that liberate the consciousness, but give them in accordance with the idiosyncrasy of your Being, your own skill, the skill of your Being. It might be teaching, it might be something else, it might be to support your tradition, or to be a cook, or a gardener, or a secretary. Humanity needs all of our skills. If we use the skill of our Being, we can render great service to others.
An example comes in my mind of several people from the tradition of a Buddhist group, and this group of people decided one day that they were at an age in their lives, a time in their lives when they had already raised their families, and they had already developed a place in the world, had a steady lifestyle, and they wanted to really do something good for humanity. So, this group of people said, “Okay, let us all collectively get together, live in one place, keep our full-time jobs, and turn all of our income over to the dharma.” This is a handful of people, three or four, but they all had jobs that they took their entirety of their incomes and gave it to the teaching. This service made an incredible impact in their whole region, because they were able to open a big temple and host all kinds of events and bring teachers from all over. They made a big impact in that region because they had the ability and were also willing to make the sacrifice. That is an example. They were not destined to be teachers, but they were in a position where they could help their teachers.
In other examples, to give the teachings, you may put out fliers. You may be in a position where you can write something, you can make art, you can make music, you can talk to your friends, you can give books away, you can just be an example. There are many ways to fulfill this type of generosity to give the teachings, to help the teachings. Everyone has to find their relationship with that, but that is the highest form of generosity, or dana: to give the teachings to others.
The next form of generosity is to give fearlessness or protection. That is in every possible way. So, for example, if someone is in danger of being killed but you remove them from that danger, you perform a great act of generosity. You have preserved their life, but that is also true spiritually, it is also true emotionally. To give someone protection or a sense of safety or security is a big act of generosity. Parents do this for their kids, or they should. They should provide an environment for their children in which the children have no fear, in which they are able to grow and fully flower. Some parents do not do that, and some parents created an atmosphere of threat where the children feel constantly threatened. It is also true in schools. For example, in many spiritual groups, the entire environment is filled with fear, that if you do not do this and that, “you are going to go to hell.” So, that group, even though they think they are spiritual, are not, because they are not providing a sense of protection and fearlessness to their students, much less giving the teaching. They are controlling or manipulating students through fear. Schools who say, “We are the only true school” are creating a fear-based environment, because the students are afraid that the light of the dharma is not available anywhere else (which is absurd, by the way; Christ is far more loving than that. The light of Christ is not restricted to one group). Instructors should always provide students with a sense of fearlessness. Students need a safe, loving environment in which to grow. So, the second type of generosity is to provide fearlessness, to provide a sense of being protected and safety.
The third and lowest type of generosity is to give material things. Unfortunately, this is all most people think about in regards to generosity.
These are three types of service, not sacrifice. Let us make that clear. They are types of generosity, ways to help people. They are not sacrifice. Yet, they can become sacrifice.
So, just because you teach Buddhism, Christianity, or Gnosis, that does not mean you are sacrificing for humanity, especially if your pride is being fed or if you are infecting all of your students with all your negativity, like fear, pride, lust, your envy, your fear. If you are infecting your students with that, you are not performing a sacrifice, simple as that. For that to become a sacrifice, for any these to become a sacrifice, you have to give up your own self. That means that death and birth have to be in play in you. For that to be a sacrifice all three factors have to be a play. If in your giving of the teachings, you are dying, that is your ego, your pride, your envy, is dying, then yes, that can become a sacrifice, and the birth from that is the birth of the students, the growth of the students. Those three factors have to be at play. So then, that becomes a yajna, a sacrifice, and that is true for any these. If in giving material things, in giving fearlessness, we are dying psychologically, that becomes a ritual sacrifice of ourselves on behalf of others. That is what carries us up to the paramitas, so that that yajna becomes prajna. When our consciousness, the jna, is carried by the ya, the light, the wind, the vehicle, through all the paramitas in our actions, to wisdom, prajna. The prajna is Christ, itself. That is why the Bhavagad-gita says:
“The world is bound by actions other than those performed for the sake of sacrifice; do thou, therefore, O son of Kunti, perform action for the sake (for sacrifice) alone, free from attachment!”
In other words, the Gita, itself, in its entirety, is saying simply this: act on behalf of divinity, do not expect anything in return, and then you will be performing the sacrifice and be carried up to the divine.
We see that expressed in the teaching of Jesus.
Jesus in this painting is the lowest. He has lowered himself to washing the dirty feet of his disciples. They did not wear sneakers. They were barefoot in the dirty streets with manure and all that in the roads. So, he is washing the filthiness from them, their psychological filthiness, and humbling himself to do it, and not asking for anything, not asking for attention, for thanks, for money. Nothing. He is only giving what they need. Just giving and giving and giving. That is the example that one has to emulate in order for your yajna, your sacrifice, to become prajna, which is wisdom.
Audience: Some of the ancient people, if they were in a highly spiritual state, they would give themselves physically to be sacrificed by a priest and then that kind of got corrupted, was that, in and of itself, black magic? In other words, if you are in agreement with giving your body to allow the blood to run in a temple, is that also black magic?
Instructor: There are cases in different traditions in which initiates willingly died to preserve life for others. Jesus is an example of that – willingly died. There are others. The Buddha gave several examples of previous existences is in which he died to preserve life. He is not the only initiate to do so. So, there are cases, and yes that has been misinterpreted by certain groups and propagated a lot of misunderstandings and black magic, black practices, black rituals.
Audience: Also you can see the whole thing is like an outcome of the process where the cosmic Christ sacrifices itself, and in our manure is where the work takes place. So it is like a reflection, and you have to do what Christ does in order to sacrifice yourself the way he sacrificed to create this physical [unintelligible].
Instructor: That isexactly right. We have to sacrifice our will and desire, following the example of Christ, and the guidance of Christ which comes inside of us, not from outside. The only way you can access that is by awakening. So, that points for me something that I neglected to say. That is simply this: many students have this concept that in order for us to effectively sacrifice, we have to abide by certain sorts of restrictions or rules. The only rule that you have to follow is the guidance of your Innermost. So, for example, many people think that in order for them to be able to teach spirituality they have to have the approval of someone else. This is not true. The only approval you need is from your Innermost, but then that begs the question: do you have the ability to get it? Do you have the capacity to get permission or guidance from your Innermost, and if you do not, then you certainly have no place to be teaching yet. That answers your question, right? So those who have that longing to teach or that urgency to teach, good. Work towards it, earn it. Listen to your heart, to the guidance that you get through your dreams, visions, practices, and if that is your path, your Being will put you in it, it will be unavoidable. That is my case. For example, I do not like being in front of a crowd, but I have to do it. For me, it is a sacrifice. I do not enjoy it. I do not like attention, but I do it because that is what I am supposed to do. I have to. If it were up to me, I would be not here. I would be alone somewhere else. So, part of what I am pointing out there is that for each person to find their sacrifice, their way of helping, it will be a very odd mixture for you. According to my experience, it will be a sacrifice for you. It will not be easy. It will cost you, but it will prove fruitful for others. That is one way you measure if it is genuine. Are others benefiting from your action? Truly benefiting? Getting the teaching, growing as a soul as a consciousness, becoming better people – that is a good measure of it. The other measure is: Are you dying? Is your ego dying? So that is why you have to always have those three factors in your awareness.
Audience: Does sacrifice have to be painful in order to be sacrifice?
Instructor: The greatest ones are painful. Sacrifice is a mixture of pleasure and pain. The reason I say it that way is this way: In any genuine sacrifice, the ego dies. That is painful, but in a genuine sacrifice, the consciousness is being born and that is beautiful. So it is a mixture.
Audience: I am thinking of sacrifice from a vocational perspective. There is a lot anyone of us can do in order to inspire others to be fearless – to protect them in a third world country, or we could work for a non-profit organization. These are very basic examples of the ways in which we can spend our time on the behalf of others. But, on the other hand, there are things that we all love to do, things that inspire us and, in which, the largest percentage of what we feel is our Being is engaged and involved. There are many of us who feel that we are called to be artists, but we could be doing other things which is more sacrificial, more dedicated to humanity.
Instructor: That is the conflict between the different parts of our psyche. We have many parts in our psyche, and we are in a great disarrangement. If you are really dedicated to achieving liberation from suffering in helping others to achieve that, then along that process you will find you the vocation of your Being. That is the mission, the work that your Being can do through you, and that will be something very beautiful, very enjoyable, but also painful because in order for to do it, all the other parts of you that are opposed to that have to die. So, it may be to do writing or music or teaching or developing any other avenue of life according to your idiosyncrasy, but that is according to your Being, not your personality, not your ego necessarily. So your vocation may be something you have no idea about. It could also be something that your already know how to do. That is a conflict or an equation that each person has to solve for themselves. The only way to achieve it is to put these factors in motion today. Work on achieving the three factors, putting them in motion. The egos that you can recognize, the defects you can recognize, work on killing them. The virtues, work on giving birth to them, and work on learning what it means to sacrifice for others – to put the importance, the health, the benefit, the protection, the safety and security of others before yourself. All of this implies something really significant. It implies taking advantage of what you have and putting it to work. For example, you stated a great example that many people say, “Well, if I sacrificed for humanity, maybe I should move to Africa and go live with the natives.” It does not mean that. Your Being did not put you in Africa, he put you where you live now. That means you need the work there. Work where you are with what you have, and transform it for the greater good. If you already have an education and a job, use it. Take advantage of it. If you are in a relationship or a marriage, take advantage of it. Transform it into something beneficial for others. Do not seek something different. We are put in this situation by karma, by our own actions. The only way to change it is not to move somewhere else because if you go somewhere else you are going to take all of that same baggage with you, it will just change faces. It will be the same problems. If you really want a change, change where you are with what you have. Work with what you have. Take advantage of it. Use it.
Audience: How can we encourage students to sacrifice?
Instructor: I suppose you can do that by being a good example. And I suppose you can do that by pointing out where there are needs. It seems to me that most people, even though we all suffer with the ego, most of us really want to do good. We really sincerely want to make the world a better place even if we have wrong ideas about how to do it, and I think for instructors and guides of any level, the way to help students is to help them to see the truth using the teaching and pointing out the places where there are suffering, and thereby we can offer each other inspiration. That would be my suggestion.
Audience: I died a little during this lecture. How can we keep that going?
Instructor: This is precisely the problem in the beginning is that we do not have continuity. It is very difficult for the beginning student to develop continuity. It takes a lot of willpower, a lot of effort, and discipline. So, it is simply that: Be aware of what you feel and be aware of its value to you, and then later when you forget it, remember it and go back to studying again. This is simply the process. It is a process of remembering and forgetting until little by little you do not forget anymore. It is not easy, but it is the only way. There is no artificial way to achieve that. It has to be natural, intuitive. So, study and practice.
Audience: How did Jesus encourage us to sacrifice?
Instructor: It seems to me he did it primarily through his example. If you study the Gospels, you will see the symbolic interpretation of his life there, and everything he did was for someone else. If you study the scripture, you will find that in all of those books there is not a single thing he did for himself. Does that not say something? How many of us can say that about our own lives? It seems to me that all of us were created from the same basic elements that Jesus was made from, and therefore we have the same potential. For us to realize that potential is a matter of us wanting to do it. So, if we can take what we have, analyze it thoroughly, throw out what is useless and harmful, and encourage and empower what is beneficial, we can render great change, not only for ourselves, but the people around us. One person can change the course of life on a planet. It has been done before and it will be done again. Anyone of us can do that. It is simply a question of having the will to sacrifice enough to achieve it. That is the only limitation. We are the only limitation: ourselves.
Audience: How can I be helpful to humanity?
Instructor: Kill your ego. Learn about when in you causes suffering and stop letting it cause suffering. For all the beginners, that is the way we begin. I know that we all have these beautiful ideals about becoming great masters and leading the population into the Absolute. That is a beautiful movie or story. But the reality is that nothing of that can be achieved as long as we have the ego. So, we start with our sacrifice here and now, today, by sacrificing our ego, and giving birth to virtue in our hearts and minds.
Audience: Talking about fear, Shantideva said, “When a swordsman drops a sword, his first fright is to pick up the sword again. When a meditator forgets himself, the first fright is to remember the spheres of hell and to be mindful of the self again.”
Instructor: Absolutely. So, fear in spirituality has to be looked at very carefully. So, you are pointing out the example of how Shantideva talks about fear as a way of putting yourself back into the proper perspective of remembering the nature of the path. This is important, but we have to understand the difference between that fear when you suddenly realize that you are on the edge of a cliff and you can fall over the edge. That is one kind of fear, and another kind of fear is when you are down safe in the valley and you are thinking about being on the edge of the cliff and you feel terrified. That is different, is it not? That is the difference. So, that natural aversion to falling off a cliff when you are actually there, that is healthy. That is natural, that is the natural inclination of your preservation of life, and we need that and we need it consciously. We need that conscious impulse to preserve consciousness awake and active and aware, present here and now. Without that, we will fall, without a doubt. What we do not need is that animal fear that is constantly afraid of everything, that is different. We all have that.
Audience: I have an anger problem. What form of sacrifice will help me replace my anger with good qualities?
Instructor: Firstly, when any discursive quality is emerging in us, whether it is anger or pride or envy, the most important thing is to be fully aware of it. To not avoid it, to not repress it, but neither to indulge it and let it express through us. We have to really observe this, and this requires a great deal of skill to learn to do this so that when that anger emerges and you feel that impulse to yell and shout, do not yell and shout. You have to restrain those impulses, but not repress them. You want to see in its fullness everything about that anger that you can see – what it wants, what it thinks, what it feels, and at the same time, see how it is affecting others around you. That perception, if you are successfully able to do this even one time, will change your life. It will change your life when you really see that anger fully blossomed in you, and you see its impact on your environment and on the people around you and you see the suffering in yourself and others, when you become cognizant of that, you will recognize what a threat anger is. That is the first part. Become cognizant of it, then and there. Then secondly, meditate. When you have some peace and quiet, when you have some time, sit and remember that event, contemplate it, analyze it, play it in your mind, play it in your imagination, and sink into sleepiness and allow your imagination to flow and allow your Being to show you more. So, pray. That process allows you to stop intellectualizing, to stop reacting, but instead to open up your mind and heart to allow your inner divinity to show you more about it, and then you approach the same way whatever you see, you do not react, you do not indulge or runaway, you observe. That is in simple terms how to do that, and what you will find is where that anger is coming from, what it wants, how it acts, how it manipulates you, what it thinks, what it feels, and that the totality of that information will give you a lot of clues into how you can change your behavior for the better. What you will discover is that that anger has been fooling you for a long time, and has a lot of subtle tricks that it uses to manipulate you and take your energy. So, then it is up to you to change it. Anger is difficult to work on, so is envy, so is lust, so is pride, but we have a great corner man, his name is Jesus. You can call him Yeshua, Buddha, or Christ. You have someone right behind you who will help you, who will help you to overcome Goliath. You see, we are David, the consciousness: small, weak, no skill, no muscles, and we are looking at Goliath, a giant, and the only thing we have is faith. So, if you have that faith and you work sincerely in this way, you can conquer the giant of anger and the giant of lust, but you can do it because you got someone behind you, which is Christ.
Audience: Why did Jesus wash Peter’s feet first?
Instructor: Peter is representation of the sexual energy and sexual teachings. The first place we need to be cleaned and washed is in our sexuality. Peter also relates to our pineal gland, which is in the center of the brain, and this is the place where the forces of divinity guide us and help us. So, for us to be able to perceive the instruction and guidance we need from above, we need to clean and purify and energize our pineal gland.