Gnosis is a Greek term that we use as the name of our tradition. The word "gnosis" means knowledge but it does not mean book knowledge, intellectual knowledge, or belief. Gnosis refers to a kind of knowledge that you acquire through experience, something that you have done, experienced, lived. That is Gnosis.
So, in this series of lectures about spiritual experience, we are going to be talking about Gnostic experience, and in that context Gnostic does not refer to a particular tradition, teacher, book, or one school; rather, it refers to the type of experience that anybody can have no matter where they are from, who they are, or what they believe or think. That is because real experience is scientific. Real experience is not rooted in belief, theories, doctrines, or dogmas. Real experience is something that, if you know how to reach it, you will have it, whether you believe it or not, whether you accept it in your mind or not.
An example we often use is: you may not accept your government, you may not believe in your government, you may not like your government, but if you are in the territory ruled by that government, you have to abide by its laws or you will suffer the consequences.
All of nature is like that. Nature is ruled by laws. Our bodies are ruled by laws. Our consciousness is ruled by laws. We study those laws by means of theories, by means of intellect, in order to understand how to have experience of what those laws point out to us, of what those laws allow. So, in that context, Gnosis, although it uses theory, and you might say belief, is really about acquiring experience of the truth. That needs to be very clear.
When we study this type of teaching, our mind will get stuck in theories and beliefs because that is all the mind can do. Understand something clearly here: Gnosis is not acquired by the intellect. Gnosis can never be acquired by the intellect. By intellect I mean that part that we see in ourselves that thinks, the flowing of thought. That flowing of thought is not the consciousness, it is not the self, it is not the soul. The flow of thought can never experience Gnosis. It can contemplate it, it can play with it, it can toss it around as a theory or as a belief, or as something we accept or reject, but it can never experience Gnosis.
What experiences Gnosis is consciousness. This is what we have been trying to point out in this series so that any person who wants real spiritual experience, to have an actual experience of religion, to know what it is, not just to believe in it or think about it but to know it, the main, first, most important thing you need to know is what your consciousness is—not your mind, not your personality, not beliefs and theories, but consciousness.
In Gnosis, we call the consciousness the "essence," and that is because the word "essence" points towards something deep, something that is in everything. When we talk about the essence of a thing we mean its fundamental truth: that which is most profound within something. Our essence is our consciousness, but that consciousness is not what we think it is; it is not our name, it is not our personality, it is not our experiences in this life, it is not this body, it is not what we believe, it is not what we wear, how we talk, how we think, it is not our language, our country, it is nothing to do with our parentage, our lineage, our history, our country, our religion. Essence is eternal.
Essence is immortal in the sense that it is energy that does not die. Einstein pointed this out: energy can never be destroyed; it can be changed, it can be modified but it cannot be destroyed. Strangely, so-called spiritual people, since the time of Einstein, have not grasped what that scientific statement means in terms of religion. Einstein pointed out the truth, the reality of religion, because he was deeply religious. He experienced Gnosis at his level, and that is how he was able to make the breakthroughs he made. He knew how to meditate, he knew how to use consciousness and learn through his intuition.
Consciousness does not die.
Now, when I use the term consciousness, here, I am talking about it in a very broad sense, not as merely that spark of essence that is in us, here and now, physically. That spark, that essence in us now, is very small with not much energy, and is weak, and that is why all of us have little to no spiritual experience because that essence has not grown. We do not use it consistently and daily; we use the intellect, we use the heart, we use the body. We ignore the soul, the consciousness, we do not use it, we have never learned how. This is the whole purpose of religion and spiritual studies, should be to teach us how to use consciousness, how to awaken.
Awakening is not of the mind, the heart, the body; it has nothing to do with sensations. Awakening is in the consciousness, in the soul. So, when I say consciousness, again in this context I am talking about something much broader than the human soul. That immortal consciousness comes from beyond the soul, it is what gives birth to the soul, it is what gives the possibility of soul and if that seems abstract, it is. The true nature of our being is abstract. About that, the Buddha Shakyamuni said something very profound. He said,
"Transcendent wisdom is inexpressible and inconceivable.
Unborn and unceasing,
it has the nature of space;
It is realized through an individual's discernment
and is the object of pristine awareness.
It is the mother of all Buddhas
throughout the three periods of time."
This statement from the Buddha is 100% Kabbalah. What he is teaching here is the nature of the Absolute, the Ain Soph, which is, of course, our fundamental root; the Being of our Being, the ultimate essence of every existing thing. When we study the Tree of Life, which is the symbol of the Kabbalah, the ten Sephiroth emerge from the Absolute. The Absolute is the void.
In English, to describe the Absolute we sometimes use the word "emptiness," but the word "emptiness" implies "a lack of something" and the Absolute, the emptiness, is not that; it is something, but it is not anything that we can conceive of. It is, in Kabbalistic terms, uncreated light, pure potentiality beyond any form of measurement; it is unceasing, it is unborn. We call it "the limitless light" in Hebrew: Ain Soph Aur. That limitless light or limitless space, which is the Ain Soph, is the ultimate essence of anything.
In Tibetan Buddhism, it is called "the clear light." In Hinduism it is called Prakriti, the Divine Mother space, and it is called the Divine Mother space because from it everything is born, and that is why the Buddha says it is "the mother of all Buddhas."
The term "Buddha" means "Awakened One." To be a Buddha, one has to be awake as a consciousness, and to be a Buddha, properly defined, means that one is awake to the truth and is able to perceive the Ain Soph; to actually see it—not in the future, but right now. A Buddha can see the emptiness in all things. To see that all manifested elements-- bodies, cities, countries, worlds, planets, suns, universes-- are, in their essence, empty, void. They have in their heart Ain Soph.
Our intellect cannot grasp that, and our physical eyes cannot see it. To see that, one needs different eyes, eyes of consciousness, eyes of spirit but that have to be awakened, they have to be opened through a precise science which we call Gnosis, which in the East is called Dharma.
Dharma means law, teaching, truth, something that is true, something fundamental. Dharma does not mean belief or a series of behaviors that one should imitate; that is not Dharma. Nowadays, people think that if they study Dharma they just have to imitate their teachers and follow certain steps. That is not Dharma, that is imitation. The same happens in every religion and group, even Gnosis. People think, "I am a Gnostic now so I have to act certain ways, do certain things and go to certain places, and do certain practices and that makes me a Gnostic." No it does not, it makes you an imitator.
What makes one a Gnostic is to have Gnosis: knowledge from experience.
The Buddha said, "Transcendent wisdom is inexpressible and inconceivable." This means that there can be no concept of it in the intellect. This means that it cannot be expressed through words. That is because real knowledge cannot be expressed.
Can you express to someone the taste of honey? Can you express to someone the experience of giving birth to a child? You cannot. These are experiences that one must have, and having had the experience you have an understanding that you share with others that have had the same experience. That is Gnosis on the sensual level. The experience of the Ain Soph of the superior levels is the same; it cannot be expressed. You cannot conceive of it. You cannot even imagine it because the experience of it is what transmits the knowledge, the Gnosis.
The Buddha said, "Unborn and unceasing, it has the nature of space." The Absolute is the fundamental ground of everything, anywhere, anytime. In Sanskrit we study Cosmic Days and Cosmic Nights—Manvantaras and Pralayas—or Great Cosmic Days and Great Cosmic Nights (Mahamanvantaras and Mahapralayas). These are huge cosmic ages of billions of years, and in those cosmic ages, the universes, the infinites, expand out of the Prakriti like the breath of God, as it says in Kabbalah. God exhales and everything comes into existence. God inhales and withdraws it all back into that womb of nature, which is the Absolute, the nothingness, the uncreated light.
That is what is symbolized on the top of the Tree of Life, that state of potential existence. When existence unfolds, all the dimensions of nature come into being because of Karma—cause and effect—and when the Karmas are satisfied, and the age is drawing to a close, it is all withdrawn back into the Absolute.
These are cycles at the levels of Gods, life and death of universes. All of what exists, that can be known, withdraws back into the unknowable. It is unborn, it is unceasing, it is without attributes.
When we apply that concept to ourselves, then we have to look within and realize that this whole Tree of Life that maps the outer world also maps our inner world.
In ages past, we also entered into manifestation. Here we are as a physical body, Malkuth, the tenth Sephiroth. This physical body exists because of other forms of energy and matter that give it the possibility to be alive. We call these the internal bodies --vital body, astral body, mental body, causal body-- which are these superior Sephiroth on the Tree of Life. Here we have our Spirit, the Monad, our Inner Father, our Inner Buddha, but that Inner Buddha exists because of the Trimurti above, the Trinity: the Father, Son and Holy Spirit; Kether, Chokmah, Binah; the Being of the Being, the Father of the Father; but this Trinity, which we could also call the Cosmic Christ, the Solar Logos, only exists because it manifests out of the Absolute.
So here we see this beautiful structure of the divinity within every existing soul, every creature, every living thing. This is why I was saying the consciousness, in its root, is emptiness—in its root is space. Every living creature, in its ultimate essence, is Ain Soph; it is empty, it is void.
Look inside your own mind. How much of that can you perceive? Nothing. When we look in our mind we only see the stale thoughts that we keep repeating every day—the tired worries, the surging desires, dissatisfaction, discontentment, curiosity, craving, fear, aversion, pride, anger, resentment, gluttony, laziness, lust. That is what we see in our thoughts, in our feelings, in our dreams. This is why we suffer.
We suffer because of the consequences of our previous actions. We suffer because the light that flows in our three brains—in our intellect, in our heart, and through our bodies—is misused to feed desire, to chase pleasure, to avoid pain, to nourish and sustain a false sense of self. We grasp at an identity that does not exist. We construct a psychological house to live in that is false, a psychological house that has our name, our tastes, our interests, our traumas, and we think it is real but it is not. It is self-deception, and every human being on the planet is making it worse day by day because we do not know how to use the consciousness to break the cage.
That cage, that psychological trap, was made by us, not by God. That psychological cage that we live in, that traps our consciousness in cravings, in fears, in anxieties, in worries, in Christianity is called Satan, the Devil. In Gnosis, we call it the ego. In Buddhism, they call it skandhas, aggregates. In Hinduism, they call it samskaras and a variety of other names.
Whatever name we apply to it, the meaning is simply this: because we have been entranced by desire, by sensation, we have taken the energies that flow through us and fed desire and made desire stronger, and every time we feed a desire it gets stronger, and the consequence is Karma, cause and effect. The desire is stronger, it traps energy, it traps consciousness. That is why we suffer.
The Bible says, "Ye shall reap what ye sow."
We suffer because we have forgotten God. Not a God outside, not a God in the clouds, but in the depths of ourselves. From moment to moment we forget that God is inside the heart, God is inside our atoms, God is inside our breath, God is inside sex, God is inside every motion and movement of matter and energy everywhere. But our ego, our desire, our Satan, makes us feel and think and believe that God is not here. "I do not see God. I cannot hear God. I do not experience God. It is just me here and I am hungry, and I am lustful, and I am angry." So we think that those are the only realities and that is why we suffer, and we suffer more and more.
We become attracted to religion because we want freedom from that. This is what liberation means. Liberation means freedom from the false self, freedom from suffering, freedom from pain, freedom from anxiety, from sadness, from anger, from lust. Liberation means to have a mind that is serene and joyful, to have a heart that is peaceful and loving, to have a body that is relaxed and content. Those can be our reality if we produce the causes that bring those effects.
In other words, liberation is Karmic. No one can become liberated by belief, by wearing a robe or taking a vow. No one becomes liberated by evolution. There are many spiritual groups who proclaim that humanity is on an evolving path and eventually all human beings will become free from suffering and become great enlightened angels. This is a lie. There is no evidence for that anywhere, not in any scripture and not in nature.
Everything in nature answers to laws. Evolution is a process of complication of energy. Evolution is a mechanical law but it has a sister or a polar opposite which is devolution. Just as something is born and grows, it evolves and becomes fully expressed, also everything that reaches that stage devolves; it decays and dies.
This is what we see in humanity: a process of devolution. Humanity is not getting better. Humanity is getting worse. We do not like to see it or think about it or hear it, but all of us know in our hearts that things are getting worse from year to year, from generation to generation. If we look back a few generations, our parents may have had it tough in some ways but things were not nearly as complicated as they are now, not nearly as dangerous, not nearly as polluted, not as close to the brink of absolute disaster as we are now. Never in the history of this planet have we been in so much danger as today. So there is no evidence that humanity is evolving and becoming better.
What we see is that the ego is getting stronger. Pornography is spreading like wildfire worldwide, and rotting and destroying the hearts and minds of children all over the world. Through pornography, violent imagery, and violent behaviors, the sensitivities of the heart are destroyed. The children of today have lost the innocence and beauty of the children of yesterday, and the parents and adults of today are insensitive to that, have lost sight of it, because they also have been corrupted by lust and anger. And the politicians and the wealthy do not care, they just want more money and power.
For us, as individuals who want to know and experience religion, we have to isolate ourselves from all those negative influences and begin to work on the contents of our mind. Satan, or the Antichrist, is not outside of us. It is not the politician, it is not a terrorist, it is our mind. Our own mind is the anti-Christ.
This light that emerges out of the Absolute, in order to create existence, is a ray of light, the Ain Soph Aur. The first expression of that ray is the Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. That Trinity or Trimurti—Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva—in its unity is a 3-in-1 (tri-unity) that we can call Christ, Christos: fire, light, intelligence, wisdom. It is "the crown of life" mentioned in Revelation. It is not a thing, it is not a person, it is an energy. It is the pure, perfect expression of the most perfect, existing level of life. Its defining characteristic is sacrifice, love, cognizance, and these are all one thing.
In Sanskrit terms, we can call that perfect, pure light Dharmakaya, which means body of the law, body of the truth, or Reality Body. Dharma is truth; kaya is a vehicle or vessel, a means of expression.
We do not experience that in ourselves, down here in our physical bodies, in the third dimension; we experience the ego. The ego is anti-Christ. Our ego does not care about sacrifice for others unless we are going to get something out of it. If we are going to get praise or recognition then, sure, we will sacrifice a little bit; we will give, we will donate to charity, we will go serve in a hostel or at the food bank if we are going to get a little good feeling about it, if people are going to be nice to us and praise us, we will do it, for pride; we will do it for guilt because we feel guilty. But how rarely do we do something for others because we love them, because they need it, and we do not care about ourselves and what we get from it or how much it costs us, we do it because we must, because it is right? That is Christic, that kind of sacrifice, to give because it must be done. So our mind is anti-Christ.
This is why Samael Aun Weor said,
"The Satan that we carry within is composed of atoms of the Secret Enemy. Satan had a beginning; Satan has an end. We need to dissolve Satan in order to return to the Inner Star that has always smiled upon us. This is the true Final Liberation. Only by dissolving the "I" can we attain Absolute Liberation."
This short passage defines this entire teaching we study. If you want to know what Gnosis is about, that is it: absolute liberation, not temporary liberation, not a few moments of pleasure in Samadhi, not a few moments of pleasure in the Astral plane, Mental plane, or Causal plane, not a few moments of ecstasy out of the body, not a few moments of ecstasy in the body. We want absolute liberation.
Do you notice that term? Absolute Liberation is in the inner star that has always guided us, that is the Ain Soph. That is where we find liberation; in the Absolute, the Ain Soph, in the emptiness, in the void. Because of that, we need to study. We need to study the teachings and we need to study ourselves.
The Tree of Life is a symbol that we study in order to understand something about nature and about our own constitution, spiritually and psychologically, but it is easy to start to take that Tree of Life literally and to start to believe that this map is literal. The third dimension, where we are right now, is symbolized as the Sephirah Malkuth, and since the fourth dimension, the Sephirah Yesod, is depicted on the map above Malkuth, people start to believe that Yesod is literally above our heads. This is partly because we grew up in Sunday school thinking heaven is up above in the clouds. That is a very literal, foolish belief. Heaven is not above us. Hell is not below our feet. Both Heaven and Hell—Nirvana and Samsara—are inside of us. When we lie down to sleep and we have dreams, where are those dreams? What do they correspond to? They correspond to what is in us. When we dream, do we go to Heaven or do we go to Hell? You have to answer that for yourself. If you are in a place where you are only experiencing the contents of your own mind, you work all day and then at night you dream at work, you are in Hell; a place that constantly repeats. If you have nightmares, you are in Hell.
These Sephiroth on the Tree of Life are inside of us. This graphic represents many levels and levels inside of us.
The fourth dimension, which corresponds to the Sephirah Yesod, is our vital energy. If you study acupuncture, Tai Chi, Qigong, Neigong, Tummo, any of these types of practices, you are working with the energy of the fourth dimension—that is inside of you.
If you have had a dream out of your body, an experience out of your body, that is the fifth dimension, the Sephiroth Hod and Netzach, the Astral and Mental planes. That is inside of you.
If you have been so fortunate to experience the sixth dimension, that is the Sephiroth Tiphereth, Geburah, and Chesed, that is inside, not outside. It is not somewhere over there, it is not above us, it is not down the street, it is not in some other place that we can barely imagine; it is inside. How do you experience that? By knowing the laws, by knowing how to use consciousness, by knowing how to meditate.
So this next image is the same Tree of Life but organized to show this is all inside of us.
The Sephiroth represent all the different dimensions of nature. In some places you hear it described as a fountain, and the water flows out of the smallest, into the next, into the lowest, and below, and below and below and creates everything. It is a good example.
This graphic, which was created by Manly P. Hall in the early twentieth century, represents the four worlds of the Kabbalah organized as concentric spheres, and in the case of this graphic it is demonstrating levels of density. The densest is the centre of this particular graphic, which is us, the world of Assiah. In the Bible, it is mistakenly translated as "Asia." So in the book of Revelation it says "the Seven Churches in Asia" but it should be "the Seven Churches of Assiah," which means the physical world, the body, the physical body.
This graphic was originally drawn to illustrate the relative density of the worlds, with the heaviest or most dense in the center. To understand the worlds inside of us, invert what this graphic is showing, and to consider the outer sphere as your body: third dimensional matter and energy. Everything else is within you. That is, imagine it shows that the deeper you go inside, the more subtle.
If you learn to meditate in the right way, consciously awake, and you inquire within and are persistent and very relaxed and know how to harness energy, you can go deeper and deeper—what you might say is higher and higher, but really it is deeper, into your depths; past the Vital energy, Qi; past emotion, the Astral body; past thought, the Mental body; past consciousness, the Causal body; past Divine consciousness, the Divine Soul, Geburah; past Spirit, Chesed; past the Holy Spirit, Binah; past the Son, Chokmah; past Kether, the Father of the Father until you reach Ain Soph, our Inner Star, the void, the emptiness. Anyone here can do that, because you have it inside.
We all have this inside, but we do not know how to use our consciousness. So as soon as we sit to meditate and start looking within, we get distracted by desire—desires for more comfort, desires for experiences, desires to be done with this already, desires to not have to work hard and just get it. "Please God give me an experience! Please God I want to experience the Astral plane, or I want to see you, or I want to go to Tibet or I want to go to Mars!" We want to have all these types of spiritual experiences without having earned them and without knowing how to have them at will. We are lazy, we do not practice seriously. A serious meditator does not give up. A serious meditator meditates every day. I am talking about proper sitting meditation, not moving. Not moving at all, anywhere, whether inside or outside.
Swami Sivananda points this out beautifully, and I meant to mention it in a previous lecture. He describes in one of his books, how our asana or posture should be. He said it should be like a mountain: it does not move.
"When you sit on the posture, think: "I am as firm as a rock". Give this suggestion to the mind half a dozen times. Then the Asana will become steady soon. You must become as a living statue when you sit for Dhyana. Then only there will be real steadiness in your Asana. In one year by regular practice you will have success and will be able to sit for three hours at a stretch. Start with half an hour and gradually increase the period. When you sit in the Asana, keep your head, neck and trunk in one straight line. Stick to one Asana and make it quite steady and perfect by repeated attempts. Never change the Asana. Adhere to one tenaciously. Realise the full benefits of one Asana. Asana gives Dridhata (strength). Mudra gives Sthirata (steadiness). Pratyahara gives Dhairya (boldness). Pranayama gives Laghima (lightness). Dhyana gives Pratyakshatva (perception) of Self and Samadhi gives Kaivalya (isolation) which is verily the freedom or final beatitude." - Swami Sivananda
Swami Sivananda said that we should be able to sit perfectly still for three hours without even a flicker of motion. That degree of stability is what is necessary for the consciousness to penetrate deeply inside. If we are constantly distracted by physical sensations, "Oh my knee hurts!" or "That guy is playing his guitar next door!" or "The incense is getting in my nose and it is bothering me!" or "the kids are yelling upstairs!" Whatever it is, you can never experience the reality within, because you have your attention in the physical world. Experiences in meditation come when you abandon the physical world completely.
He also states, in another book, quite beautifully that a full true Dhyana or Samadhi, an absorption, is marked by the consciousness leaving physicality completely. The physical body remains there and functions but the soul is not there. You cannot have that experience if you are so focused in paying attention to the physical body. If you want genuine spiritual experience, put your body in its posture, relax it deeply and forget about it. Put all of your attention 100% into diving inside, into the darkness like an arrow. That is how you have it.
This is why we study the stages of meditation. Every tradition presents it in different ways but the essence of them all is the same: to break free of the chains that bind us. Those chains are laws.
The Tree of Life represents a series of laws. Malkuth is our physicality. It is ruled by 48 laws. No there is no list of the 48 laws, because those 48 laws are all the Sephiroth above it added together. The Ain Soph, which is that perfect, pure, limitless light, has no laws, only itself. That is why in that space is perfect freedom, perfect liberation, nothing binds the essence. In the Absolute there is no bondage, there is perfect freedom, absolute and complete freedom of movement. No limitations. "Limitless" is its name in Hebrew. Limitless. That means there is no law except itself. That is reality. When that law expresses into manifestation it starts to multiply, it becomes complicated, that is evolution. First it becomes 3 laws, the Trinity, then it becomes 6 laws, the Monad. That Monad is the 3 laws above, multiplied. When it descends further into the realm of 12 laws it is Netzach; it is the other laws added up to this one. Everything is just mathematical complications of matter and energy.
What this means for us is, here in our physical body, when we take our energy, mental energy, emotional energy, physical energy, sexual energy and we feed desire, we feed anger and pride and envy and lust and gluttony and greed and fear and all of the other discursive emotions that make us suffer, we complicate that energy. We create Karma, cause and effect, and the more we do it the more complicated those egos become, and the denser and darker and heavier our mind and heart become.
Have you noticed that the city feels heavy and the country feels light? That is due to those laws. When you are approaching a place where there are a lot of people you start to feel the heaviness of the laws that modify the consciousness of that region, of the people there. You feel it. This is why we long for vacations; we want a break from all the laws. This is why we long to have Astral experiences, out of the body, because those regions are free of all the heavy laws that we have here, but those are not ultimate liberation, they are temporary. When we go on a vacation, we have to come back.
Many people enter religion burdened by the laws and they just want to go become a monk or a nun or a priest to have a simpler life and escape the laws. That is only a temporary, superficial freedom because the bondage is in the mind, it is not in the external circumstances. The bondage that we have, the suffering that we have is inside. From 96 laws to 864.
Dante, in his Inferno, demonstrated this. Dante was a great Gnostic. His Divine Comedy is 100% pure Kabbalah describing his experiences and showing the people what happens to your mind when you engage in treason, lust, pride, envy, gluttony, greed, avarice; this is what happens to your mind. We become those people trapped in Hell, here and now in the body, trapped in Hell. Yes, Hell exists as a place, it does, and Heaven exists as a place, but our relationship with them is defined now, by who we are today.
If you want to know if you are going to go to Heaven, look into the state of your mind. That will tell you. If your mind and heart vibrate at the level of Heaven, then you will go there, and if your mind and heart vibrate at the level of Hell, you are already there. It is quite simple, and terrifying.
Absolute Liberation comes by dissolving the Anti-Christ, the ego. This requires a daily, constant effort. Yes, effort. Effort means an expenditure of energy. Rather than expending our energy trying to avoid things we do not like and chasing things we do like, and continually complicating our existence, it would be better to expend energy contemplating that existence; analyzing "Why do we suffer? How do I get myself in these positions? How is it that I do this to myself and others? What is it in me that causes me to be here suffering and causes others to suffer with me?" This is not just from time to time when a big traumatic event happens, this is a daily effort. It is in that daily effort, expenditure of energy, that wisdom begins to emerge. We start to see the patterns of our lives, to see the tendencies that we have ignored previously. We become our own psychologist.
But something that we have to understand is this: liberation, real liberation, is not in the physical world. To really comprehend yourself, to really see your ego, to really see your mind, you have to learn to get out of the cage. When you are in the cage you cannot see it for what it is because you are used to it, accustomed to it. It has become a habit. To really see the cage you have to get out of the cage, and the best way to do that is through meditation. That is why this course began with the quote:
"It is impossible to experience the reality, the Being, unless we become masters of meditation." - Samael Aun Weor
To be a master of meditation means that one has to be able to practice and perform at will and experience the Being.
Now, if any of you have studied modern theories, they say nowadays that to develop skill with something, to be actually good at it, you need to spend at least 10,000 hours. Has anyone here meditated for 10,000 hours yet? No? But I'll tell you that it takes more than that. That modern study about 10,000 hours is related to playing golf, driving a car, and other activities that are not profound. To become a master of meditation, honestly, takes lifetimes.
The reason we need meditation is because here in the physical body, using our physical senses, we can see the third dimension. We see Malkuth. We see the world ruled by 48 laws, nothing more. The ego is not directly visible there. The effects of the ego are somewhat visible. We see our thoughts and feelings, we see the impulses that drive us, but those impulses come from somewhere deeper that we cannot see. Psychologists call it the "unconsciousness", the "subconsciousness"; regions of the mind that the physical senses and even our ability to perceive thought cannot see because it is too deep. To see that we have to escape this cage: the physical body.
We need to open other senses; that same sense that you have that can be aware of a thought, that can be aware of a feeling, is consciousness. You do not sense thoughts and feelings with taste, touch, hearing, sight but with something inside. That sense, that ability to visualize, is the root of the ability to meditate, but it needs discipline and skill, a lot of practice. When we learn that we learn to escape the third dimension. This is what we call visions, out of body experiences, meditative experiences, some people call it Samadhi, Dhyana, absoprtions. Some people call it enlightenment or liberation. It is not; it is temporary, but it is not full liberation or full enlightenment, it is temporary. We escape the third dimension and from that we may experience the fourth or fifth dimensions. The fourth dimensions are related with energy; that is Eden. We can experience Eden. We can also experience the fifth dimension which is Nirvana. We can also experience the inverted aspect of Nirvana which is Samsara, this is Hell; it is also the fifth dimension. All of that can be had through meditation, but all of that is still subject to the influences of the ego. This is why meditators who have learned to experience these things will suddenly have a vision, or getting out of the body, and they will get super excited or scared and come back to the body, and that is because the ego still modifies those realms; that is fear, pride, anger, lust and desire, all of the different thousands of varieties of ego.
To really be able to comprehend oneself, one has to leave third, fourth and fifth dimensions and enter the sixth dimension. This is why Master Samael Aun Weor stated this:
"Beyond the three known dimension, physical dimension, length, width and height, exists the Fourth dimension; this dimension is Time. Beyond Time we have the Fifth Dimension; this dimension is Eternity. Moreover, we asseverate that beyond Eternity a Sixth Dimension exists; this Sixth Dimension is beyond Eternity and Time. In this sixth fundamental dimension is where total liberation begins. Therefore, only the person who awakens in all the six fundamental dimensions of space is a true clairvoyant, a Turiya, a legitimate enlightened one." - The Perfect Matrimony
Why the sixth dimension? Look at the Tree of Life again. Remember these levels are inside—not above our heads, but inside of us. Our physical body relates to the third dimension; our energy, the fourth; our emotions and thoughts relate to the fifth. Think about that.
When you meditate, what stops you from going deeper? Discursive energy. We are stressed, we are tense, we cannot relax, we want to do things, we want to run around, we are busy. That is energy. That is, our Vital body is disturbed. Or we have been drinking alcohol or smoking cigarettes or we have been getting really agitated or stressed out. All of that disturbs the energies of the Vital body; it cannot relax. Thus, if the Vital body cannot relax, the physical body cannot relax, thus, we cannot meditate. Simple. It is a law.
We have to go beyond the third dimension (physical body); we have to go beyond the fourth dimension (energy in the physical body); and then let us say we get very relaxed, let us say we go on a retreat and we meditate very focused for a few days and we become very relaxed physically and energetically, what is going to stop us next? Emotion in Hod; thoughts in Netzach. What is emotion? We are worried about work, we are worried about the cat, we wish we had a boyfriend, we wish we had somebody who would appreciate us and love us, we cannot believe that our parents are so cruel and mean, and our heart is tied up in a knot because people are so insensitive to our needs. We cannot meditate because the heart, the Astral body, is agitated. We are identified with emotion, always wrapped up in our emotional needs. In other words, a false self. Desire, emotionally.
Let us say we get past that. Even more subtle is thought. Thinking about this, thinking about that, memories from the past, desires and thoughts about the future, daydreaming, fantasies, trying to figure out things. We are curious "I wonder if she really likes him. I wonder if he really likes her. I wonder if he likes me." Thinking, imagining, trying to figure out things, even analyzing a teaching. "I do not get all this Kabbalah stuff. What does this mean about this and that?" Thought. "How am I going to pay the bills? I have got to think about this. How am I going to get a job? I have to think about it." These are all thoughts rooted in false sense of self. The Mental body is agitated, disturbed, it cannot relax, thus, we cannot meditate.
Are you getting the point? What is meditating is not the body, not the Vital body, it is not the Astral body, it is not the Mental body. In reality, we need to go beyond all of that and see what it is in us that is actually trying to meditate. We need to look into that which is looking; look into that space between thoughts, look into the place between feelings, between sensations. What is there? Do not answer with your intellect. Look. What is there? Can you find a self? We all say thoughts and feelings and sensations come from the self. Where is that self? Who is it? When you look into your mind now can you find it? Can you follow a thought back to the self it came from? Can you follow a feeling back to the self that that feeling came from? Or a sensation? A memory, a dream, a worry. Can you find it? You cannot. This is basic Zen practice, basic Dzogchen as well.
That inquiry into one's mind is a looking through the Sephiroth, looking in. Remember that ring of concentric spheres, that is the consciousness looking at the spaces between things; the emptiness.
I do not know if you have realized it, but I am giving you a really big clue for your meditation practice. If you follow this advice seriously you can make rapid progress in your meditation. I did not make this up. I learned this from someone else, from Samael Aun Weor.
That looking, inquiring, never becoming attached, maintaining freedom, not letting anything bind you—no energy, no sensation, no thought, no emotion, no longing, no desire—but the one thing, is to keep looking deeper, looking within, moving aside, in between everything that emerges; a constant inquiry.
This is not easy to acquire or accomplish, it is very challenging, and the reason is because the mind, the ego, will do everything in its power to keep us distracted. Its chief tool is duality, dualism.
You are sitting to meditate and you want to have an experience so the ego comes and says, "You cannot". We have all experienced that. Defeatism. The ego is saying "You cannot. You do not deserve it. You do not have the right book. You do not have a good teacher. You do not have a good school. Your Being, your Innermost, your Buddha does not care about you, has forgotten about you. You have never had an experience of your Divine Mother. How do you know any of that is real?" So you give up.
The ego uses any tool it can get to distract us, to keep us asleep. It uses images, thoughts, feelings, sensations. Everything in the mind that it has access to. It will bring you desires and play them in the screen of your mind in order to make you dream. It will bring you longings, doubts, fears. It will bring you anything it can that can keep you thinking, "I can get something better than I have now." That is the fundamental dualism of the mind. "I do not want what I have, I want something more".
That duality, that conflict, is at the root of suffering. Craving and aversion. "I want to avoid what I have and I want to get what he has or she has". So we read the great masters of meditation and we say "I want what they have". Well, at first, there is a little sincerity in there because the soul needs that and wants that, but then the mind takes it and makes it into envy. The mind takes that and says "I want that for me", and then pride says "I deserve it. I want to feel good about myself. I want others to admire me and respect me, so I want those experiences so then I can get up in front of everybody and start talking about all these great spiritual things". Envy. Pride. That is what keeps us from having experiences. Lust also. Constant desire for sensation, for pleasure, for satisfaction.
It is that dualism that keeps us trapped. It is the battle in the mind that keeps us trapped. The antidote is cognizance, knowledge, Gnosis, experience. There are many people who become enthusiastic about these kinds of studies and they will get very interested in it for a while, and they will practice meditation seriously, and they will read books, and they will go to classes and they will be all fired-up about religion, for a while, and then, the resistance comes, the ego fights back. The ego does not want to die. We love our personalities, we love our suffering, we love to complain about our suffering, we love to be pitied for our suffering, we love sympathy from others, we love to look the best and we love to look the worst, we like to be the bad boy or the bad girl and we like to be the best one; we hate to be in the middle. This is the dualism of the mind.
Cognizance means you do not care. Cognizance means that you know you are what you are no matter what anyone says or thinks. Cognizance knows God is. Cognizance is a kind of wisdom that is based in experience of the fundamental truth. Cognizance is not intellectual knowledge; it is knowing from experience. It is Gnosis.
This is what students need to overcome resistance: cognizance. Everyone who studies this type of teaching will experience enormous resistance in surges and waves from their own mind. It will come in surges. Sometimes the surges are unbelievably strong and can last a long time. It takes a lot of willpower to ride the wave and to not get sucked into the depths of defeatism, despair or, even worse, to go back to one's old life, one's old behaviors. It takes a lot of willpower. What will fuel it is cognizance, conscious memory, work memory. This is why experiences are important.
Spiritual experiences are important; not for the ego but to strengthen the soul, the consciousness. We come to religion, to Gnosis, because we want experiences and we want to know the truth, and in the beginning, sometimes, for some people, experiences come easily even rapidly. And this is a great gift, a donum dei, that the Being gives to his human soul, which is you, not your mind; your consciousness. The Being will give you gifts and say "See, this is real!" and the soul will become inflamed with enthusiasm. But that cannot last because the soul can become attached, can be seduced by the mind and become attached to experiences, and this happens all the time, to everyone. You have an experience out of the body, or a vision, and you become so happy and you feel the sensation, which is the most beautiful pleasure, the most beautiful joy you can ever imagine, which is to feel one's soul free of the cage. To feel that liberation is so liberating that you want to continue it, you do not want to leave that and you want it again and again. But that can become a desire, and when we do not get it we become angry; we become despairing and many people leave the teaching, they abandon their practice, they stop meditating. The antidote is to remember that experience was real, one experienced it and can have it again but one has to pay one's Karma; one has to pay one's debts, one needs to work on the ego. This is the point.
This type of cognizance is superficial. It is a step along the way to deeper cognizance, deeper knowledge, about the ultimate nature of self. Memory of an experience can only last so long and it can only give you so much enthusiasm or faith. What is going to give you real lasting power to sustain a practice until you are finished is true cognizance of your actual inner nature; it is to abandon the idea that your physical body is your real self. To then comprehend that your Astral body is also not your real self. Many people get stuck there and think "I have got to build my Astral body!" thinking that is the real self; it is not. They think that about the Mental body and then they think that about the Causal body, that this is the real self; it is not. They are vessels, they are vehicles.
Do not get attached. We have to break the chains; the chains that attach us to the physical body, the chains that attach us to the ego, the "I", the chains that attach us to all the cravings for all the sensations, whether those sensations are in the third dimension, the fourth or the fifth, even the sixth. Yes, we can become attached to Heaven, to Nirvana. This is how one becomes what is called a Pratyekabuddha, or a God in some traditions; a titan. These are people, human beings, who have reached a certain level of spiritual experience, that become attached to the pleasure of those realms, to the power of those realms. They are Buddhas, they are Gods, but with attachment.
As you learn to meditate and go deeper in your practice you will experience those levels and you will enjoy the pleasure of those levels and you will want to stay there. Do not become attached. It is a huge danger. Very few schools will teach you that because most want you to become attached so they can build a bigger school. If you want Absolute Liberation you have to break all the chains through all these dimensions, even in the sixth.
Remember Samael said liberation begins in the sixth dimension. That is where it begins. This is because this is the level of causes. The causes for everything are found here in the sixth dimension. To investigate the causes of the ego, the causes of the "I", the causes of suffering begins in the sixth dimension. This means that you need to have a very robust skill in meditation to work in that level. Do not assume that you are going to get there today or even this year. It might take a lot of effort to clear a lot of garbage out of the mind until you reach the ability to have that and to work in that level. It does not matter how long it takes, how much effort it takes, but do it. Do not worry about time, do not worry about obstacles, stay true to the course.
What this translates into is how we meditate every day. What is important here, what I am trying to express is whether you have an experience in Nirvana or an experience in this-or-that Heaven or an experience out of the body or a vision, wonderful, so what? Does it free you from suffering? Not temporarily but ultimately? Do those experiences give you something that change your behavior? Because that is what we need. We need cognizance that changes our behavior. When you touch the stove and you are burned you do not want to touch it again. That is cognizance, but we need that psychologically. We need to really become cognizant that anger hurts. Anger is pain, pride is pain, lust is pain. We have no cognizance of these things.
Master Samael gave a beautiful example. He said, "The alcoholic knows that alcohol hurts him. He knows that alcohol is killing his cells and his brain and destroying his liver. He knows but he does not have cognizance of it because he continues drinking." The one who has cognizance will never touch alcohol because they know that it damages them and is making more obstacles to their liberation from suffering. That is cognizance, and we need that with anger and lust and pride and envy and gluttony and greed and everything else that clogs up the mind. That kind of cognizance strengthens the soul, the consciousness; it makes it robust, it gives it energy. If you want to have real spiritual experiences, not just a few minutes in the Astral plane flying around, not just a few minutes in the Mental plane investigating this-or-that, but real experience of the truth in the void, in the Absolute, there is only one way to reach that, and that is to die as an ego; to eliminate pride and fear and lust and envy and gluttony and greed and everything else that traps the consciousness.
You see, the science behind that is simple. Every time that we have committed an error and created an ego we have created a knot in cosmic flow. Every "I" is a Karmic chain link. When you become angry that is what envelopes you, is that link in the chain, and what you feel and sense in your body, in your heart and in your intellect are all the expressions of that anger, that chain. But what empowers it? What is it that gives that anger the ability to know what the other person is thinking or doing? What is it that gives that anger the capacity of seeing and expressing itself? It is the consciousness. That anger is just a lens, a filter, over your consciousness. You empower it. When lust entraps your mind and heart and body, and all you can see and think and feel is lust, what empowers it? You, your self.
That is why the Master Samael said, "Do not say and think and feel that your "I", your ego, is separate from you." It is not. It is you. It is you doing it. That sense of separation between me and my ego is a lie because the one who is feeding and empowering that ego is you. This is something many Gnostics get caught in. They think "I am not my ego, I am my Being!" That is mythomania, that is pride. It is a misconception that keeps them off the path; off the inner path of working on themselves because they think the pride is not themselves. "That lust is not me." Yes, it is. What is trapped in that lust, what expresses through that lust, is you. Free it and you will be free from sufferings.
If you studied any of the higher Yoga Tantras, like Mahamudra or Dzogchen, or for example, the very beautiful and profound teachings of Milarepa, also in the teachings from the Maitreya Buddha, a scripture called the Mahayana Uttaratantrashastra, you know that Buddhist teachings state something that, to a Gnostic, can sound shocking, and that is: the consciousness can never become polluted. To Gnostics, that sounds wrong. We think "Yes it does! It becomes trapped in the ego!" Gnostics think "What about the consciousness trapped in pride or lust? Is not the consciousness polluted?" No! There is pollution, but if you cut away the pollution, the consciousness is as pure as it ever was. If you take a glass of pure water, and imagine that is the consciousness, and you dump a bunch of dirt in it, then the water is "polluted," superficially; you cannot drink it, but if you separate the dirt and remove it, the water is as pure as it ever was. It retains its original purity. Ultimately it cannot be polluted, like space.
Every element can be burned, but not space. That is the Ain Soph. At its ultimate level, that is what we are, but we have no cognizance of that. At our ultimate, deepest level is an innate purity of mind, a purity of consciousness that cannot be polluted, and that is perfect and eternal. That is our genuine, true nature. The problem is we have forgotten it and built all these cages that trap all of its particles and that is why Samael said, "The particles of the Father that are in pain". Those are all of the parts of the ultimate aspect of ourselves trapped in ego that suffer and make us suffer.
There is a beautiful clue that you can find in analyzing and studying that aspect of Buddhist philosophy and it is simply this: any time that an ego is afflicting you, see the duality of it. Meaning, remember that it is not you, it is false. The ego is a craving or aversion, always. The Essence, the Ain Soph, simply is. Now, your intellect cannot do this. If you bring it into your intellect you will think "Uh, I am feeling all this anger and I know it is anger but I cannot...it is anger and I am mad!" It is not enough. To really grasp this you have to meditate. You have to really sink into that depth in yourself and then that anger, all of a sudden, seemingly for no reason, will just go away. Anyone experience that?
By changing how you pay attention, you change what you experience. We make problems worse than they are. This is what this teaching tells us. We are making the anger a problem. What is powering the anger is ourselves. If we stop powering it, it goes away, it no longer can hurt us. This is how we begin to comprehend, develop cognizance; to stop empowering it. So if you are experiencing a very strong affliction, do something else. Take your attention away from it for a while. My recommendation is, in most cases, these afflictions are very much focused on one's self, on me- "I want this, I want that, I do not want this, I do not want that!" so take your attention away from yourself and do something for someone else. Serve, and in that compassion of serving and letting go of yourself you will suddenly realize "What was I so mad about? What was I so worried about or afraid of?" Then meditate. If you do not meditate on that experience it will just happen again and again, and you will fall into the same trap repeatedly. Meditate and comprehend it.
In that comprehension, you will start to grasp that when you were in the experience of being afflicted by that anger, you believed that that anger was yourself, or that lust or that pride, and it really feels like me. "I am mad, I am hungry, I am angry, I want this, I want that." And it feels like self because you are powering it. But when you really comprehend that you realize that was not self, it was a mistake, and this mistaken apprehension of self is what we are continually going through but it is so subtle we do not see it. Everyone here right now is suffering from this misapprehension of self but we do not see it. Only by a deep cognizance and awareness of one's self can you start to see it and start to let go of it and break out of it.
In other words, we have to go beyond what we see to see what we do not see in ourselves. We have to learn to see in a new way. If you are going through your life from day to day always seeing things in the same way you will get nothing new. It makes sense does it not? We all want something new. You cannot have it if you are always seeing things in the same way, so open your eyes. Not the eyes of the body, but the eyes of the consciousness. Start seeing everything as if you have never seen it before, especially yourself. Continually watch and observe yourself as though you do not even know who you are, and watch and observe what is coming up in your body and your heart and your mind (our three brains). Always watching. Never attached. Never getting sucked into "I want this. I do not want this." The duality of Samsara.
This is how we acquire Jna. This is a Sanskrit word that means knowledge.
You have probably heard of Jnana Yoga, which is an introductory level to Yoga in India in which you study and learn the doctrine. It is intellectual. That is not what I am talking about.
Jna is Gnosis, knowledge from experience. That type of knowledge, from experience, that we acquire from observing ourselves in this way is a foundation. You see, with that level of knowledge, you are learning about the ego in the lower realms, primarily, but you also have to learn about the physical aspect, third dimension, and you need knowledge of the fourth dimensional aspect, and the fifth dimensional aspect, and the sixth. That is a lot of knowledge. Right now we do not have any of that. We only know a little, tiny bit about the physical world and that is pretty much it, and even that is very questionable knowledge because it is all stuff that people have told us to believe and most of it there is no evidence for. It is just beliefs. Jna is real knowledge from experience. But real liberation does not begin until the sixth dimension, right? That means we need knowledge from the sixth dimension and beyond, and that has a different name in Sanskrit. It is Prajna.
Pra means "that which is beyond". It is related to Para- if you know "Gate Gate Paragate." So Prajna is "beyond knowledge" or "the knowledge of the beyond." Prajna has a very sophisticated etymology. In Hinduism, in Buddhism, it is used slightly differently. I am using it primarily in the Buddhist context. Prajna is the Superior Paramita, the highest perfection.
If you have studied Buddhism, you know about the Prajnaparamita Sutra. If you know the mantra Gate Gate Paragate Parasamgate Bodhi Svaha, that is the mantra of Prajnaparamitra. Prajnaparamitra means "knowledge of the perfection beyond." Prajnaparamitra is the highest aspect of the soul, and it is this level of knowledge that begins here in Daath.
Daath is a Hebrew word that means knowledge. Daath is the sphere that bridges the great void between the Trinity and the seven Sephiroth that are in manifestation. Daath is Prajna, it is the knowledge that takes one beyond this void. This is where real liberation begins: from the sixth dimension.
What is Prajna? It is the wisdom of Christ. It is the type of knowledge that Christ has. When you look at the Hebrew terms here in the Trinity above, above Prajna, Daath, you see Binah and Chokmah. Binah means intelligence, Chokmah means wisdom. If you unite those two: intelligent wisdom equals cognizance. That is Prajna.
Is it getting too abstract? This is important.
Prajna is the wisdom knowledge of Christ. It is the type of wisdom knowledge that has absolutely nothing to do with the intellect. It is pure cognizance illuminated by love.
Now, I am explaining this to you because at some point I hope that you will be serious enough in your meditation practice to experience it, and I want you to know what it is. I am going to read to you a passage from Milarepa, in which, in a few words, he says everything I took two hours to say. So listen to the very specific terms that are in this quote because step by step it is what I just explained to you. He said,
When your body is rightly posed [asana], and your consciousness absorbed deep in meditation,
You may feel that thought and mind both disappear;
Yet this is but the surface experience of Dhyana [ecstasy / samadhi].
By constant practice and mindfulness thereon,
One feels radiant Self-awareness shining like a brilliant lamp.
It is pure and bright as a flower,
It is like the feeling of staring
Into the vast and empty sky.
The Awareness of Voidness is limpid and transparent, yet vivid.
This Non-thought, this radiant and transparent experience
Is but the feeling of Dhyana [ecstasy / samadhi].
With this good foundation
One should further pray to the Three Precious Ones,
And penetrate to Reality by deep thinking and contemplation.
He thus can tie the Non-ego Wisdom [Prajna]
With the beneficial life-rope of deep Dhyana [ecstasy / samadhi].
With the power of kindness and compassion,
And with the altruistic vow of the Bodhi-Heart [Bodhichitta],
He can see direct and clear
The truth of the Enlightened Path,
Of which nothing can be seen, yet all is clearly visioned.
He sees how wrong were the fears and hopes of his own mind.
Without arrival, he reaches the place of Buddha;
Without seeing, he visions the Dharmakaya;
Without effort, he does all things naturally. [that is, without Exertion]. - Milarepa, The Nature of True Realization
I wish I were that good of a teacher, because that short passage is the whole course I just gave, but you have to know how to read it. He is describing something experiential in meditation. He is describing the whole path of Gnosis and how one lives it in meditation practice. Study this scripture, meditate on it. It can break a lot of chains in your mind. It can empower your practice.
Now, when I was studying this scripture I was also led to the same teaching, but more veiled, in the Bible, but I am not going to read it to you today because it is hard to grasp it. It is Psalm 17, a prayer from David. David is not a physical person from the past; David is symbolic of a Tsadik, a "righteous one," in other words, a Bodhisattva. The last line of Psalm 17 says,
"With righteousness I will see your face; upon awakening I will be satisfied by your image."
That face is the greater faced talked about in Kabbalah. It is the face of Kether, who turns his face and only shows us one side, the manifested side. The hidden side we do not see because it is the Absolute.
The prayer of David in Psalm 17 expresses exactly what Milarepa explained: through ethics, through meditation, one can penetrate and see what cannot be seen with the terrestrial eyes. You see, Milarepa said "he sees without seeing," and that is what David is saying.
In the Judeo-Christian tradition they say you can never see God or you will die. It is true, your ego cannot bear the sight of God, but your essence can, and that is Prajna; it is the vision of Daath that sees the interior. From the point of view of Prajna, one can see and comprehend the Absolute. This is why the true definition of Bodhicitta is "Prajna united with compassion." That is why Bodhicitta is so hard to understand. Real Bodhicitta, or the "awakening mind-heart," which is the Auric embryo from which the ethereal man is born, the resurrected Master of a Bodhisattva, is this ability to perceive the unmanifested and the manifested simultaneously without contradiction. This is why the Prajnaparamita Sutra says "Form is emptiness; emptiness is form." Emptiness and form on the Tree of Life. Emptiness and form.
"When the mind is quiet and in silence (not only in the intellectual level, but in each and every one of the forty-nine subconscious departments) then the Newness emerges. The Essence, the consciousness, comes out of the bottle, and the awakening of the soul, the Ecstasy, the Samadhi, occurs. The daily practice of meditation transforms us radically. People who do not work on the annihilation of the “I” are like butterflies that flutter from one school to another. They have yet to find their center of permanent gravity. Therefore, they die as failures, without ever having achieved the inner Self-realization of their Being. The awakening of the consciousness is only possible by means of liberating ourselves from mental dualism and by emancipating ourselves from the struggle of the antitheses or from intellectual surges. Any subconscious, infra-conscious, or unconscious submerged struggle is converted into an impediment for the liberation of the Essence (soul). Every antithetical battle (as insignificant and unconscious as it might appear) indicates, accuses, and aims to obscure points that are ignored and unknown within the atomic infernos of the human being." - Samael Aun Weor
Questions and Answers
Q: This may be a ...?... the abstract of the abstract but you just gave a whole lecture about emptiness and not once did you mention the Ain, and so I wonder what is the distinction between the Ain and the Ain Soph and why did you discuss only the Ain Soph?
A: The Absolute, which is this level at the very centre of the Tree of Life, Kabbalah talks about it in three aspects: Ain, Ain Soph and Ain Soph Aur. Ain means nothingness, emptiness. Ain soph is limitless. Ain Soph Aur is limitless light. Conceptually it is actually impossible to differentiate between them. They are impossible to convey in concepts.
Milarepa said that light is black, which is the same thing that is said in Kabbalah. The essential meaning that we need to grasp from this is what emptiness actually means. It does not mean a lack of something, it does not mean that there is nothing there; it means there is something there that we do not get, that we do not see and we do not understand. It is something, but not like anything we can conceive of. When we say emptiness we mean it has a type of reality that is different from our reality and we call it void. It doesn't mean there is nothing there.
Q: I practice separation [inaudible]... I know I am 97% ego, right, and I know as I am working on a defect and I am comprehending it I also know that the ego is suffering, right, so there is a separation that I understand.
A: Well, again, the point of these teachings about separation and non-separation is to break the mental concept of separation. The problem there is the concept of the duality. There may be a duality, and then, when we analyze it in a certain way, there is, but from the ultimate point of view there is not.
The problems begin when we make these types of intellectual assumptions that "I am separate from my ego" or that "I am separate from God". Those assumptions are seeds that produce suffering and they block us from having cognizance of what is real. This is what is so difficult to grasp about Prajna and Bodhicitta.
Bodhicitta, fully realized and expressed in a person, is not mere compassion, it is the capacity to see two truths at the same time that, to our intellect, seem contradictory, and those two truths are: there is existence, there is non-existence. To the intellect it makes no sense. How can something exist and not exist? But Buddhist philosophy, very beautifully, shows that these are both true. There is existence, but if you analyze it from another way there is no existence. Prajna sees them both at the same time.
That is completely related to this idea of separation. Am I separate from my ego or not? Well, yes and no. But if you fall on the side of "I am separate from my ego" then you will not be able to fully comprehend that you are the one empowering that ego. You need to see that you are that ego, and that you are not that ego, at the same time.
Q: Just as a comment about what you are talking about. It is like, if you to look into quantum mechanics you see how is an electron a particle or is it a wave function...
A: Exactly the same.
Q: And you find it depends on how it is perceived and the context, who is observing it or what is going on; it is exactly the same things.
A: Yes, quantum mechanics is mapping the precise function, that is why the quantum physicists are so interested in Buddhism because Buddhist philosophy helps them understand the behavior of quanta. And we need to grasp that in our meditation.
It is that deep penetrating insight into how all these laws interact that will help us to break the chains that are binding us. This is not just philosophical stuff that is interesting, it is critical. We are in bondage because we do not see how nature actually works. That is why we are trapped, that is why we suffer. And getting to the level of being a great spiritual master, like a Buddha, and having a lot of followers and everything else does not solve the problem, it can actually make it worse.
That is why Master Samael said that one is often closer to liberation when one is a great sinner as compared to one who is a great saint. The great saint feels like everything is fine. The great sinner is the one who sees there is a problem and they suffer, and they are the ones with a point of view that can perceive more of what is really going on. Where a great saint: they are happy, they are enjoying Nirvana. And that is also in the quote from Milarepa; he talks about that.
Q: Can we be liberated through devolution?
A: There is a type of liberation that results from devolution. The process of devolution is where the soul who is burdened with Karmic residue is processed through nature to be purged. So that soul is placed in a great cycle, that we call Hell or Samsara, where the forces of nature blitz that burdened soul to cleanse it. And it is a huge, long process of suffering. In the end, that soul is "liberated", but only liberated from Hell, only liberated from that cleansing, but is not liberated in terms of cognizance, in terms of knowledge.
In essence, that soul, who comes out of the cycle of Hell, starts back where they were when they entered, having gained nothing but a lot of suffering.
Real liberation comes through Prajna, which is knowledge, and that can never arrive mechanically through the processes of nature. That is something that one has to acquire through effort, through work. That is why few attain it.
It is an interesting contradiction in many spiritual groups that say that all human beings are evolving to become great angels. Most religions do not affirm this. It is more like these modern groups that are trying to get popular and make money. No religion says that, and there is no evidence for that, and if it were true it would have happened before because nature works in cycles, it repeats itself daily. So if that were true, and if all human beings were destined to be angels, then we should have been angels already or be close to it already. There should be evidence of that but there is not.
That is why there are so few very, great masters. Very few because it is not easy to reach that. It is a conscious evolution, not mechanical.
Q: Is it in the sixth dimension where the experience of Samadhi begins?
A: Good question.
I wanted actually to explain a little bit about the term "Samadhi".
In the previous lecture, in many lectures, we have talked about Patanjali's Yoga Sutras, which is also called Raja Yoga, and in his aphorisms he presents an Eight Fold Path of meditation, and we generally simplify it to seven because the first two, Yama and Niyama, relate to ethics; the last one is Samadhi. And that word samadhi means many things depending on how it is used.
- Yama / Niyama: ethics
- Asana: posture / relaxation
- Pranayama: harness energy
- Pratyahara: serenity
- Dharana: concentration
- Dhyana: meditation / absorption
- Samadhi: ecstasy / freedom
If you look in a Sanskrit dictionary I think there are 15 or 20 different meanings for the word samadhi. It can mean a meditative absorption, it can also mean the position of your neck. So in Sanskrit, people say "Oh, your neck is in samadhi". So the term is very loosely used.
Moreover, in Buddhism, the term samadhi is not used in the same way it is used in Hinduism. In the Gnostic tradition, we use the word samadhi to talk about a state of consciousness where the ego is not trapping the consciousness. In other words, we call it an ecstacy; the essence is freed from the ego and has pure perception of the truth. That is what we call samadhi.
In Hinduism, it does not mean that. In Hinduism, samadhi means "one-pointed concentration". It would be equivalent to the Buddhist term Dhyana or the Buddhist term Shamatha or the Buddhist Jhana, Zen, Chan-na, Shi-ney in Tibetan. All those terms refer to one-pointed concentration. That is how you need to understand there is some diversity in the terms there.
But, in terms of Gnosis, there are many types of Samadhis, or experiences where the consciousness escapes from the ego. A Samadhi can happen in any dimension and there are many types.
Hinduism talks about two primary forms, with different varieties of those forms, and they are complicated and a lot of terminology that I am not going to throw at you because I know you are already confused. [Laughter]
But to answer the question, there are many types of Samadhi in any level. You can have a Samadhi in any level of the Tree of Life, in terms of the ego letting go of the consciousness, and the consciousness being able to perceive. That is how we can see all that, is having what we would call a Samadhi.
In Buddhism it would be called Dhyana. So if you read the quote from Milarepa he keeps talking about Dhyana, which in Gnostic terms is Samadhi.
Q: So in one of the lectures you were talking about the Dzogchen technique where you are watching your thoughts and then you also said to periodically refresh your awareness...
Q: so at that point would be a gap where there is no thought?
A: Well what I am talking about in the lecture today is an extension of that.
Q: So I am saying at some point there is going to be no thought.
A: If you are able to follow the instructions of meditation, which is to start releasing or breaking free of all those chains: physical sensations, energy, thought, emotion, etc., the mind will naturally settle. The natural state of the mind is to be perfectly calm, serene, no thought. That is the natural state.
So, yes, if you follow the instruction and do not allow these discursive emotions and thoughts and energies to be active in you through the day, over day and day and day and day, and practicing meditation, the mind will start settling naturally on its own, it does not take effort. That is why we gave the whole course "Meditation Without Exertion"; it is about that. Then that experience of no-thought will arise.
That is what that scripture from Milarepa is explaining. The experience of no-thought is only the beginning of starting to go deeper to actually see and have experience of Prajna. The experience of no-thought or a state of Dhyana is only the first, superficial level of that. So when you experience it, follow his advice.
He says when you experience that do not become attached, do not think that that is it. A lot of people fall into that trap. They practice meditation, they get to a point where they experience no-thought and they experience a kind of ecstacy or pleasure and they think "Wohoo! I am enlightened!" Nope. It is just having serenity. It is good, and there are many levels of serenity. You have to go past that. No attachment. Deeper.
Step by step, patiently, with the attention placed in precisely the right way, veils start to be removed from the consciousness. It takes patience, it takes persistence. It takes a lot of, you could say, actualization. It is a process in which you become very attuned to how these energies work in your consciousness, and to really succeed in it you have to have a lot of willpower because the ego works really hard to keep you from it.
Gradually, as he explained in that scripture, you can reach the stage where you experience Prajna, and that is the ability to perceive the emptiness. It is the same experience that Samael Aun Weor described that he had when he was 18.
I know all of us wish we'd had that experience when we were 18 but if we had been meditating through our teen years instead of running around with our friends, we would have. So we can have that experience now but it takes a lot of practice, a lot.
Q: If, in the moment, one is afflicted by lust and because of experience one decides to not feed it, to not empower it, this is not considered oppression? Is this considered cognizance? Because if it is it does not feel very cognizant.
A: Haha. That is a good question and it is true.
The endeavor to properly transform energy, to transform impressions, requires experience. It requires trying it and trying it and trying it until you start to feel and become sensitive to the energy that is in motion. This is not something you are going to get the first time you try it.
In the beginning, you are going to make the same mistakes that a child makes when learning to ride a bicycle. You are going to get on the bike and you are going to fall to the left or to the right, and you are going to feel hurt, and you will get hurt. In other words, sometimes when you are trying to transform that energy you will repress too much, sometimes you will indulge, but through experience you learn to balance and you start to get to a point where you can sense and feel how that energy is moving in your three brains and how to cognizantly transform it.
This is the secret of Tantra. Tantrayana teaches basically this: the same way that a discursive emotion, like lust, produces suffering and traps soul, that same energy can liberate the soul if the soul knows how to use it, but that use of energy is not through indulgence or repression; it is through an inner equilibrium, and to acquire that you cannot be taught. You have to learn on your own like learning to walk, like learning to ride a bicycle. You have to learn cognizantly by observing and being sensitive to energy in yourself.
When you learn it, here is how you know you did it right. You will already know if you did it wrong; you will know because you are going to suffer, either at that moment or after; you will suffer from repression and you will suffer from indulgence. If you do it right you will get cognizance, peace, you will understand something. That peace is not in the intellect, it is peace in the heart, peace in the body, relaxation, calmness.
As a simple example: if you are working on some sort of anger that you get about your pride when somebody speaks to you in a certain way. Let us say there is a person that always talks rudely to you and you cannot stand it, it is driving you crazy and you have tried everything to deal with this person and it still bothers you, and you are attempting to work with this practice. First, you will try avoiding them. That does not work because they still come around and irritate you. And then, when you see them, you try to say "Okay, I am going to be right here and I am going to let you say whatever you want" and you still get bothered. See, that is the two sides. The answer is to contemplate: the words are just air. It is just words, it only means something if you think it means something, it only hurts you if you empower it to hurt you. And you can think about this: if that person is a coworker and they are always criticizing you, and you are feeling the pain, you can say "What if they were not the age they are now? What if they were only a year or two old and they were saying the same thing, would it hurt me?" No, it would not hurt you because you would know this was a child. What if they were 80 or 90 years old and were saying that? It would not hurt you because you would just think "Oh, they are just old. They are suffering. Why should I let that bother me?"
Another step is, when you see that person, and you realize they are saying that because they are suffering. That person has a lot of anger, a lot of pride, a lot of pain, and they are expressing it through their words. "Why should I get angry with them? I should have compassion for them, I should love them." That is cognizance, and if that becomes deep cognizance, no matter what they say, you will always smile and you will love them and you will treat them with the most kindness and care that you would give any person because you know in them is a Being, a God, who has this human soul that is suffering in pain and they need help.
That is cognizance. The same thing happens with every ego that we have. That is how we transform it: observation, analysis, relaxation, patience, non-reaction, but cognizance. It applies to lust, to anger, to pride, to greed, everything, and it does not come over night; it comes from ordeal after ordeal, event after event. Transforming.
You see the goal? Do you get the goal? It is to become a good person. Not someone who is faking it, not someone who is trying to act like a good person and put on a good show, but someone who actually has real wisdom: Prajna. In other words, that attitude I just explained is how Christ should express through the soul. That wisdom of Christ. Prajna is Christic wisdom. That attitude of loving each other, of not reacting, of not getting angry, that is Christic. You can call yourself a Buddhist or a Gnositc or a Muslim. If you have that attitude in your actions, you are showing the love of Christ.
Christ is not a person, it is an energy. Our goal is to become a soul, a Diamond Soul, that reflects and transmits that light without any obscuration; no ego, no pride, no envy, no gluttony, no lust, none of that to obscure that light, so that everything we do, we feel, we think, we say is Christic. That comes from cognizance: Prajna. That is real spiritual experience.
Q: What is the difference between chatter and thoughts?
A: There is not really any difference, from the point of view of Gnostic, or Buddhist, psychology. The inner thought process, all that is, is a vibration in the mind that is being produced by something. Inner chatter, inner thoughts, memories, all the different things that flow through the mind, is just a vibration of energy.
What makes the difference is what is producing it. If it is cognizant, that is one thing, because God is very smart. Our Inner God, our Inner Buddha, thinks very beautiful thoughts, but does not have to think. There is thought on every level of the Tree of Life, but we have to see in us, are these thoughts Christic? Buddhic? Atmic? Or, are they Klipothic? That is a question only the individual can answer through analysis.
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.