Comprehension in Meditation
To continue our discussion of meditation, first we remind you that the purpose of meditation is to comprehend, to understand, to receive wisdom. In other words, we meditate in order to acquire information. This concept or understanding may be new to you because many traditions that discuss or teach meditation in the west do not necessarily present the science of meditation in this way. They may say that meditation is to reach enlightenment, or to acquire powers, but in the Gnostic tradition we go directly to the point, the purpose or reason for meditation, and we call it Comprehension.
This word Comprehension is really significant, and in order for us to understand our meditation practice, we need to understand what comprehension means. We tend to mistakenly think that comprehension is related to the mind, to an idea, to a concept. We use the word in this way in our everyday language, and we say, 'I understand' or 'I comprehend.' Usually what we are talking about is a concept, or an idea, for example, we say 'one plus one is two,' and the teacher says, 'Do you understand that?' We all say, 'Tes, one plus one is two.' We may understand the idea of it, but in Gnosis, the word comprehension does not mean that. Comprehension is related with the heart. To have an understanding in your mind or in your intellect about an idea or a concept is an intellectual understanding, or a theoretical or conceptual understanding, but it is not comprehension.
Comprehension is intuitive, natural, spontaneous, and it is related with your conscience, with your consciousness; with knowing something without having a reason, or even logic, but you have experience that proves it.
A simple example: as you grow up and learn about your physical body, how it works, you encounter many sensations. When you experience those sensations, you acquire comprehension of them at the physical level. You begin to understand that if you fall down, it may hurt you; if you cut yourself, you will bleed, it hurts, it is pain – that is a kind of comprehension. You do not need the idea of it, or understand intellectually why pain happens, but you comprehend, you know it will happen. Moreover, when you get a little older and you start to experience what happens when you say a harsh word, or when you yell at someone, and it hurts them, and you feel regret, and you feel pain: that is comprehension. It is that feeling, that sense, 'I should not have done that, it was wrong.' That is a form of comprehension.
The same is true when you do something really good for someone else. When really help someone, truly, and they show you that gratitude and they feel and display, the benefit of the action you did for them, and then you understand that was a good act. And you feel it and know it, but you couldn't explain it, but you feel it. That is comprehension.
This is why we learn to meditate; to have deeper comprehension of our day-to-day, moment-to-moment life. Meditation is a means to acquire comprehension, but will also provide you with experiences, powers, visions, clairaudience, and many types of perceptions that are beyond physical perception. Those are not the reasons why we meditate. Those perceptions are natural to the consciousness, and are necessary in order for us to comprehend, to understand. In order for us to penetrate the real meaning of our minds, of our hearts, of our lives, we need to see more than our physical senses can perceive, and upon that basis, we as students of Gnosis develop a meditation practice.
Everyone is at their own level. Every student has their own karma, their own psychological scenario, their own psychological cage, and to extract yourself from that cage is only possible when you have an in depth knowledge of that cage. In other words, there is not just one key that will open all the cages of all the minds of all the beings in the world. Every key has a slightly different shape, because the lock is different, the cage is different. Nonetheless, there is a key. The key is individual, formed in accordance with our karma and psychological idiosyncrasy, but the key itself is comprehension, it is understanding of the lock.
The way you unlock the key of the mind, that tight knot of your karma, is through understanding it. This is why the Buddha said:
"If you want to untie a knot, you have to first understand how it was tied."
If you know how the knot was tied, then it is easy to unravel. That understanding is comprehension.
Comprehension is the key to unlock the cage of suffering. But how we acquire comprehension is up to us, and only we can do it. No one can come to you and say, 'Your mind is shaped like this, so you must do A, B and C.' It does not work that way. In order for you to undo the causes of your suffering, you need to see your mind yourself. You have to see the nature of your own suffering. So, the key to that is comprehension, but to reach comprehension, you need to be able to see the cage for what it is. As we are now, we do not. This is why we suffer. We suffer because we are in ignorance of our true nature. We suffer in a cage of a false self. We call it ego, we can call it aggregates, we can call it Samskaras. There are many names and languages for this structure we have built.
Steps to Comprehension
For us to see the cage, we need to have a tool that gives us that vision, and the tool is consciousness. Consciousness is the basis of perception, whether that is physical perception or internal spiritual perception, therefore, we need to learn how to use the consciousness, and as it is, we scarcely even know what the consciousness is, much less how to use it. Even if we know how to use it, we do not use it consistently, because we are always contradicting ourselves, getting distracted, getting caught up in desires, fears, and emotions. Therefore, we need concentration.
We need a stable consciousness, that has the capacity to remain cognizant of itself, to be stable, to be serene, and in that serenity is reflected the true nature of that mind. That is why in the previous lectures we have been discussing how to experience having a serene mind. The way to reach it is to stop disturbing it.
Our mind is dispersed, distracted, chaotic because of the influences that are pressing upon it. Those influences are external and internal. They are the intensity of our daily lives, where we are always running around, consuming all types of impressions that are harmful to us. We go look at the internet, we look at movies, T.V, and we deal with people at work and at home. All of this intense information is hitting our minds, which makes the mind very agitated. Moreover, those impressions stimulate impressions in our mind, in our heart, that stimulate desires, anxieties; a wish for money, a longing for comfort, a craving for security; the resistance to exposure to shame or pride, great motivations of envy and jealousy. All of these internal circumstances, stimuli, also make the mind chaotic.
If we were to put an analogy to this, our mind is like a boisterous ocean that is totally chaotic, in which there is no form or shape to the waves, they just leap about constantly and are very difficult to understand. This is why when we meditate, even if we have some serenity of consciousness, some stability of mind, or attention, what we see is confusing. When we look in to our mind, it is dark and unsettled.
When by chance we do happen to see or sense anything, it makes no sense, because the mind is so disturbed by internal and external impressions.
Therefore, in order to arrive at mental stability, we need to transform the impressions as they arrive, and the best mechanism and the best tool we can use for that is ethical discipline. This is why in the last few lectures we have been discussing ethical discipline and what that means.
So, you can see that what we've just done is a quick review of these quick trainings. In order for us to have wisdom and comprehension, we need meditation, but for us to have meditation, we must have ethics.
The Three Trainings
- Ethical discipline
- Wisdom, Comprehension
When we are living from moment to moment making the effort to not be dominated by fear, anxiety, lust, stress, pride, envy, jealousy, gluttony and laziness and all those things that are in our mind, when we are making the effort to curb them, to control them and to only express what is good in us, which is the Essence, then the impressions from inside and outside of us change. We stop reacting mechanically to everything, we start to behave in a cognizant way, in a way that will benefit ourselves and others. And as such, naturally, without any exertion over the mind at all, it begins to calm down.
You see, you cannot force the mind to rest, you cannot force the mind to be silent, you cannot make exertion in order to force the mind to be serene – it has to arrive at that state naturally.
In the same way, if you approach the ocean of our analogy, how would you force the ocean to become calm? You cannot. Yet you can stop throwing stones into it, and watch and wait for it to settle on its own. It is quite simple. It is nature. It is cause and effect. Meditation functions in the same way.
Your mind is an entity; it is matter and energy that is subject to the law of cause and effect. There is no force in existence anywhere that can force your mind to be calm. But sadly, many traditions, teachers, and students of certain kinds of meditation try to force the mind to be silent, and all they end up doing is creating a great imbalance in their psyche. You see, if they understood that if they refocused that effort, instead of trying to make the mind silent, if they took that effort and worked on their ethics, if they worked observing themselves consistently from day-to-day, from moment-to-moment, and made the effort instead to curb their desires, to restrict those desires from expressing themselves, then they would realize that the mind settles naturally on its own, and it does not take a long time. This is why in one great Buddhist scripture, it says this:
"Tranquillity maybe realized rapidly provided one does not concern oneself with gain and similar desires, abides perfectly by the moral law, is capable of joyfully enduring suffering and the like, and makes serious effort."
That is what we have been describing in the previous lectures:
- adopting an ethical discipline
- understanding and abandoning attachment and desire for fame and gain and security and comfort and all those things that our ego wants
- making effort to observe ourselves, to pay attention, to relax, to remember the Being.
From that combination of efforts, we place our consciousness in a place where we do not have to exert it. There is an inner balance or inner stability that we acquire naturally, and then when we look into the mind, wisdom emerges spontaneously.
You see, comprehension cannot be forced. No one can force understanding to arrive. It comes naturally, spontaneously, through merely paying attention.
Therefore, ethics relates specifically with self-observation and self-remembering. This is to be cognizant: to be conscious of oneself continually, to never stop. This takes a lot of effort.
Effort in Meditation
Let us be clear about where we apply effort and where we rest, because there is a lot of confusion about this when it comes to meditation.
Where we have to make the effort is in concentration throughout the day, which is to sustain our self-observation, to remember the Being, to observe ourselves, to be aware of all internal and external events – what we call states and events.
Internal phenomena are called states—psychological states. The external phenomena are called events. By maintaining awareness of both, we will naturally transform impressions.
If we maintain this effort throughout the day, then at the end of the day when we are ready to take a break and reflect on what we observed, we sit to relax, we straighten our back, and turn our self-observation completely inward. That effort, that struggle to maintain cognizance, forgets the external world and then looks exclusively inside. In other words, we forget our environment, we forget our body, and just look at the mind. It is the same directed attention that we have been using all day, but instead of including the external phenomena, we only look at the internal phenomena. This is how we enter the second training. Sometimes we call it concentration, but more accurately we say meditation.
We make the effort everyday to be observant of our internal states. This has to be in the context of isolating ourselves from external perceptions. It does not matter if there are phenomena happening externally; we should be capable of not being distracted by them.
When we are performing this effort to observe internal phenomena (retrospection, or imagination) what emerges—on its own, without exertion—is comprehension. Comprehension cannot be forced. Understanding, wisdom, cannot be forced, it cannot be imitated, it cannot be tricked. It comes on its own, like any inspiration in life, it comes on its own.
Even though understanding cannot be forced, there are ways to make effort to put ourselves in the right position so that understanding can emerge, and this is what we have to grasp.
Comprehension is Easy
You see, this process is not hard. To comprehend is not hard, it is natural, it is normal. We make it difficult because of the mind, because we are lazy, because we have a lot of wrong ideas, wrong views, wrong thinking, because we have desire, because we have fear. These elements stop us from succeeding in comprehension. Many people fail even to learn to self-observe, and even the ones that learn to self-observe may not remember themselves. Even the ones that learn to self-observe and self-remember may not learn to meditate. At every stage there are different causes, different reasons, different excuses, but if we study this seriously and study ourselves seriously, it is very easy to reach comprehension, it is not hard.
What stops most people is the first step: ethics. By far, the main reason why most people cannot meditate is that they fail to renounce some desire; they remain attached to some desire. It could be lust, it could be pride, it could be fear. Some people are afraid to meditate; they remain attached to their fear. Some are attached to a concept of meditation, to a belief or a theory, which is false, and thus their minds remains trapped to some concept and they cannot go past it. Some remain attached to the physical body, so attached to being in the body and experiencing the sensations of the body, hoping that Samadhi is some great sensation in the body, that they never leave it, and thus they never leave that attachment to physicality and they never have comprehension.
There are many obstacles, and it is different for everyone. We have to find our own. Some of us are just too lazy. Some of us are just too excited, too wound up, to relax. We have to observe ourselves and find our obstacles. Some of us have too much doubt – it may be doubt in the teaching; it may just be doubt in ourselves. And to some degree or another all of us have all these obstacles.
So, this is where we start: identifying the obstacles and applying antidotes.
When we find that we have too much fear, we have to analyze that fear: what are we afraid of? What are we avoiding? If we have fear of meditation, then it is quite illogical, because we are afraid of seeing what is inside of us. Really we should be afraid of not knowing what is inside of us. We should want to know.
Moreover, some of us are just lazy; we have to contemplate that laziness. What will result from laziness? What will happen? It is inevitable: if you Do not make the effort, you will get no benefits. In fact, you will become worse. It is very simple to see, if we look.
In this way, we approach each potential obstacle, and we analyze it.
If we have doubt, let us contemplate that doubt; what is the antidote to doubt? It is faith. How do we cultivate faith? Look at those who have accomplished it, and remember that those great beings were just once like you; full of mistakes, fear, doubt, pride. If they did it, so can we. We have to cultivate optimism; we have to cultivate strength, energy, and understanding.
So, these three trainings summarize a structure of how to understand the ego, the mind. It is not a complicated structure, but it has specific details and information that can be very, very helpful to us, specifically when we reach this second aspect: meditation.
What Are We?
Unfortunately, we have a strong tendency to create fantasies about ourselves that we believe are real. We adopt ideas and beliefs, assuming they define who we are. For example, we think, 'I heard about this political theory, so now I am that. I like this political theory and now I am one of them. I am that!' We think that way with everything. We hear about a religion and we think that religion sounds so nice, thus, 'I am that. I am [insert religion-of-the-day]!' Yet, these assumptions are not true. There have been people who heard so much about America and loved the idea of America, but lived elsewhere, such as in Africa or in Asia, but nonetheless, even though they had never been to America, they called themselves Americans. They loved the idea of Americans so much, that they decided to be that. You might think this is ridiculous, but we all do it in our own ways. We all think we are what we are not. We all have longings, attractions to ideas or beliefs, or ways of being that we want to be, and think we are, but are really just lies we tell ourselves.
This is most critical in our spiritual life, because when we think we have something but Do not, we will not make the effort to acquire it. If we think we are already wise, we will not seek wisdom. Similarly, many people think they know how to meditate, but they Do not, and worse, they will not seek to learn.
The same phenomena happens when we learn about spiritual masters, and we all think, "Maybe I am one of them." This is a delusion. We have to look at what we actually are.
This important because when we learn about self-observation, meditation, or comprehension, we may think we already know how to do it. Knowing the theory is not the same as doing it.
Furthermore, when we learn about Gnosis, we tend to start calling ourselves a 'Gnostic' or a 'meditator.' But the reality is that Gnostics are Buddha, Jesus, Krishna, Moses; they are Gnostics. The rest of us are just students of Gnosis. We are not Gnostics. To be a Gnostic is to be the teaching. It is your way of Being. Not your way of thinking, fantasizing, or day dreaming, or theorizing, but your way of living.
Previously we talked about three levels of teachings.
- Called Sutrayana, Shravakayana
- Called Mahayana
- Called Tantrayana, Vajrayana, Mantrayana
'Yana' means vehicle, way, or path. These are three schools, ways, or paths – three levels of teachings. Samael Aun Weor told us that Gnosis includes all three. Gnosis is Tantrayana, Mahayana, and Sutrayana.
So, there are people who study these teachings who consider themselves Gnostic, and also consider themselves as Tantrists, or Mahayanists, or Sutrayanists. But let me tell you, this is wrong.
Let me start with myself: I am none of these yet, but one day I will be. I can say this without any hesitation, because I understand what these three terms mean. Let me explain by starting with the highest level of teaching, because many people call themselves 'Tantrics,' and there are many who claim to be masters or teachers of Tantra. Well, let us look at this, because to grasp this puts a very strong foundation in our meditation practice – this is very important.
Tantrayana is the highest aspect of any religion, the secret aspect. It is secret because it is powerful. It has traditionally been kept very protected because of its tremendous potential. But that potential can be polarized, according to the nature of our mind, not according to our intentions, and this is the critical thing. It polarizes according to the nature of our mind.
Now, let us look at ourselves, what is the quality of our mind? If we sincerely observe ourselves, we will see that our mind is filthy. Our mind is completely wrapped up in selfishness - attachment to self. All of our thoughts, feelings, and our actions are about "me." Thus, if we were to acquire the teachings of Tantra in its full implication, that power would empower that desire, that "me." We would become demons, even worse than we already are. So, based on this, I can tell you that I am not a tantric, because I still have a lot of ego, thus I have not reached the level of being qualified to be trained and empowered as a fully accomplished Tantrist.
So, what about Mahayana, the middle level? 'Maha' means greater vehicle, and this is the teaching specifically related with Bodhichitta, the "awakened mind." Bodhichitta is (1) cognizant love for others accompanied with (2) comprehension of the emptiness. This is a very subtle philosophical point of view, which is very empowering, which is why it is called 'Maha' or 'Great,' but its entire focus is on benefiting others. Every action of a real Mahayanist is performed exclusively to benefit others. Their every thought, their every act, their every emotion, is concerned with and aware of other people. The central practices that define Mahayana are practices within which the Mahayanist takes all of the suffering of the world on themselves, and gives away all of their powers, benefits, virtues and useful resources, in order to aid others.
By altering the mind to tranquil equipoise, one will reach its intrinsic purity. Through perfect perception of the inherent purity of reality, a Bodhisattva practices in great compassion for all beings. - Dharmasamgiti-sutra
Now, what happens if you give such teachings and powers to an ego? If you empower a mind like ours with that kind of skill – it will become a great, big fat demon, who thinks it is the saviour of mankind, who thinks that it loves everyone, but only really loves itself and wants to be admired. Therefore, we have to be sincere. Let us observe ourselves – do we have a Mahayana mind? When we look into our own mind stream, even if we do have a thought about someone else, or a longing to help someone else, it is accompanied by 'I will look good, they think I am really generous... they will think that I am really practicing Mahayana and that I have a lot of Bodhichitta.' That is not Mahayana, that is pride. That is envy, that is jealousy. A real Mahayanist does not even think about themselves. Therefore, I am not a Mahayanist, because I see that my mind is not like that.
Finally, the most basic level of teachings is for a Sutrayana practitioner. This aspect is defined by learning the preliminary aspects of any religion, such as Cause and Effect: i.e., if you act poorly, you will receive suffering. If you act properly, you will receive happiness. They also work to realize the inevitability of death and the impermanency of all things, so that they can dispel attachment. Stated simply, a real Sutrayana practitioner is defined by a natural, spontaneous, completely pervasive way of living that is based in renunciation. A real Sutrayana person has no interest in materialism – none. Someone who has fulfilled the basic entry level of the teaching has renounced attachment; they have realized that this physical life is an illusion, and they care nothing for pride, fame, wealth, security, sensation, gluttony, good food, nice clothes, a fancy house and cars, etc. They naturally and spontaneously renounce materialism, because they know that all those things lead to suffering. All of those things are illusion. All of those things are meaningless and what matters is the quality of the heart. That is how you can recognize a genuine Sutrayana-level practitioner. I have not reached that level of attainment.
Therefore, in synthesis, I am a beginner, and hope one day to be accomplished in these three levels of teaching.
To clarify, someone who enters into real Mahayana training is already fully qualified in Sutrayana, meaning that they naturally and easily have no interest in materialism, and understand the impermanence of all things, and know that cause and effect are the basis of everything, thus they need to learn what Mahayana can give them.
Subsequently, someone who enters into real Tantra is already fully qualified in Mahayana, meaning that they naturally and easily have no interest in themselves, only in the welfare of others.
So, we have to be sincere with ourselves, and see how much work we need to do.
Why is this important? Because if we go around with ideas that we are great practitioners, we are going to build even more pride, which will hurt ourselves and everyone who contacts us, because negative emotions are extremely contagious, they are infectious. Negative emotions are far more infectious that any virus or bacteria. You know why? Because negative emotions Do not depend on physical matter. They Do not answer to the laws of physical matter. Negative emotions are very powerful. Observe how easily you can be infected by the resentment of someone else. When you hear their story, 'This guy did this and that, I cannot believe it!' Then you start to feel resentment, even though the story had nothing to do with you! You start to feel that same feeling, 'Yeah, he is no good. I heard this and that about him. Oh, can you believe what he did or what she said!' It has nothing to do with us, but we start to feel pride that we are better than them, and resentment that they did something wrong. In reality, that situation had nothing to do with us, but we are now infected with negative emotions. Worse, we will infect others. Similarly, if we call ourselves "Gnostics" or Tantrists" but are really just the same as we have always been, not only are we liars, but we will give a very bad impression of the sacred teachings to others, and we will turn them away from the knowledge. This is a very serious crime.
Let us not call ourselves Gnostics, Mahayanists, or Tantrics until we have actually achieved the level of having a mind stream defined by those levels of teachings. Any of us can do it, but we have to start at the beginning.
We have to start with reforming our mind through an ethical discipline, and as we have explained this is related to being cognizant, being observant of ourselves. Learning to listen to our conscience. Learn to do what is right and we learn more about that by studying the teachings, by studying the scriptures, by studying the lives of the great masters, so we can start to discriminate between these qualities that emerge in us. When reach that time of day when we are going to reflect on our day and analyze those events from the day that stand out, as needing understanding, things we need to understand more about; then we meditate. But let us talk specifically how to do it.
Meditation is not vague. Meditation is not a process of spacing out. Meditation is not a time to escape; it is a time to reach understanding.
The basic pre-requisites for meditation begin with conscious attention – this is the main thing, and this is why we work with self-observation all the time. That is a practice of concentration. When you are really learning to observe yourself, you are really developing your powers of concentration, but in your consciousness.
We call the second step concentration, but it is developed in the first step. We develop concentration by watching our mind. We can also use preliminary practices, like working with a mantra or observing the breath, visualizing a given item or element – there are many practices to develop concentration, all useful, and I recommend them. If you are having a hard time concentrating, use these techniques, they are good, but understand the principle.
Firstly, we already have concentration; the problem is, it is dispersed. Reflect on yourself – look at examples in your life, when you can concentrate very well. For example, when something really grabs your attention, naturally, you can concentrate on that and not be distracted by anything. All of us can do it, but we tend to do it without awareness, for example, when you watch a T.V show or a movie that you really like, you concentrate very well, so much so that you forget your body. You think that you are the actor or actress, or you are in the movie. That is concentration, but it is negative, because you are not aware of it. Become aware of that same capacity and use that to observe your mind, and you will have discovered concentration in yourself. It is that simple. Become aware of paying attention in that way. Likewise, when we listen to music, when we see a beautiful sunset, when we see someone we have not seen in a very long time and we become very attentive to them – that is concentration. If you are an artist or a musician and you arrive at something inspiring in your work, you become very concentrated on that music or art to the exclusion of everything else, and time stops existing for you. Or, when you are working really hard on something that captures your attention that you are really are focused on and you forget time, you forget your body – that is concentration. We all have it, so become aware of that capacity. Learn to use that in your meditation practice, learn to use that in your self-observation, and all of this will become very easy for you.
The problem is that most of our ability of concentration is trapped in actions that are harmful, trapped in desires. Some of us are so addicted, attached to the sensations of the tongue, that we spend a great deal of concentration and energy preparing a meal or going to get a meal, cooking or buying something and then eating it, and a lot of concentration in indulging in that attachment. Or we use all of our concentration in lust, whether looking at pornography or indulging in a sexual act; with a lot of concentration and attentions, but polarized by desire. Or, we have our attention and energy caught up in envy, or in appearances. All these different psychological aspects trap our consciousness, trap our ability to concentrate. So, if in your meditation practice you are having a hard time concentrating, look to see where you can concentrate and change that behavior. You see, when you can change that behavior, those powers of concentration become restored to you, become freed. This is how we gradually recover the powers of the soul: by recovering it from the desires within which they are trapped.
So, the first aspect is this development of concentration. There are many words for this in different languages. If you have studied Ashtanga or Raja yoga, then you know Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi. These terms relate to gradual stages of meditative absorption or concentration. If you have studied Tibetan Buddhism, then you know the terms shine in Tibetan, or in Sanskrit, Shamatha, and this basically means calm abiding, tranquillity, and it refers to a type of serenity in the mind, an ability to concentrate without distraction. Another Sanskrit word is Pratyahara. All of these words refer to similar states of varying degrees of concentration or meditative stability.
These abilities are part of you. They are not outside of you. This is not something you can go and get. It is not something that you can force. The ability to have a tranquil mind is natural in your consciousness, if you stop disturbing your consciousness. If you abandon bad behaviors and adopt good behaviors, your mind will naturally stabilize.
There are couple factors that will accelerate that process. The most important one is transmutation. Sexual energy is the most powerful energy available to us, without question. It is the very energy at the basis of existence, and the sexual force is the very power to create, not only a physical person, but anything. Our ability to be creative in our work, or in our hobbies and passions—the things that we love to do—is directly related to the quality of our sexual energy, and this why in the history of humanity, if you observe the greatest works of art that have ever been produced, they were always produced by people who observed sexual purity, who were chaste; not in sexual abstention necessarily, but chastity, sexual purity. This is directly related with meditation, and this is why all of the ancient religions always established in the ethics: sexual purity, chastity.
Usually in the beginning the students were required to observe a period of sexual abstinence in order to give them a chance to work on their mind; to lower the extreme disturbing nature of those energies, to begin transforming them and let the mind settle, because if they continued engaging in sexuality with the mind so activated, they would never have a chance to let it rest. And plus this is all related to former Piscean age in the way that humanity needed to be guided at the time. Now we are in a new age, the Aquarian era. There is a new energy, a new current. Humanity has changed, the mind has changed. Now, we need to harness that energy, immediately, without hesitation. When we learn how to take advantage of our sexual forces, to not waste them, those energies are transformed inside the body, inside the spirit, inside the soul. Those energies rise into the mind, the brain, into the heart, into every aspect of our physiology and psychology. They nourish us. They restore what has been damaged. They give fuel and energy to the consciousness.
This is why if you were to observe a meditation schools where chastity is not taught, you will see that the students are, generally, very disturbed – emotionally, in life, mentally, spiritually; unable to have spiritual experience, unable to advance, with a lot of fear, doubt, a lot of problems – almost no practical experience of meditation.
If you go to another school where they teach chastity and sexual transmutation, you will see a totally different atmosphere. For instance, where monks or nuns learn to transmute their energy a lot, typically (not all the time), those types of people have better ethics. They tend to be better people, they also tend to have experience of meditation, and this is because of this fundamental reason.
By transforming the sexual energy, by learning how to harness it and purify it, those forces saturate the brain physically, saturate the mind psychologically, the heart psychologically, and the aid in its stability. In other words, if you really are serious about learning to meditate, transmute your sexual force. Do not hesitate, Do not go backwards. If you take up that practice, take it up and never look back. That is not merely a physical practice, it is a psychological one. You may restraining the energy in your physical body, but you also have to restrain it in your heart and mind. It is the heart and mind that you seek to stabilize and understand, and if you persist in behaviors such as lust, prostitution, adultery, pornography, you are going nowhere. In fact, you might be making your situation worse. This is one area where you have to be extremely well defined, and when you find areas where you are not defined – fix it. The quicker you are able to firm up your physical and psychological awareness of chastity, the quicker your mind will stabilize. It is very simple: they are in direct relation with each other. In my own experience, I have observed even Gnostic instructors who have not been able to manage the psychological aspect, and because of that they have difficulty controlling the physical aspect, and because of that they cannot meditate. It is sad, but it is entirely due to a lack of willpower. Their desires are still too strong. In other words, they have not established ethics. Without ethics there is no concentration, and without concentration there is no comprehension, and this is why this same person tends to run around and around in the same circle, over and over, repeating the same problems again and again, always confused and always confusing others, because they have no understanding. Do not make that mistake. Make your ethics very strong, then your concentration and meditation will come easily.
So, at the end of the day, when you begin to observe the mind, do some practice of transmutation. This could be meditating or vocalizing on a mantra. It can be a Pranic exercise, it can be a Runic exercise. In fact, if you have to meditate when you come back from work and you are still agitated from your day, go for a walk, get some exercise. This will help you to stabilize yourself and let go of all the busyness of the day and focus inward. It will help.
Secondly, you can do other preliminary practices like mantras, you can light candles, burn incense – do whatever you can to make your environment conducive to relaxing. Then we get to the meat of it, the actual concentration. Now, while all these preliminary exercises are useful, they are not true spiritual exercises. I know most people think that when they become spiritual, they start doing mantras and start meditating, and start doing this and that, they consider this to be spirituality – no, it is only the antechamber. Real spirituality is to have comprehension of the spirit. To have experience of your true nature is real spirituality and you cannot reach that through all the preliminary practices, at least not directly. Those experiences can emerge occasionally, but those practices are not designed to take you to those experiences. All the preliminary exercises are designed to stabilize your mind, that is all. The mantras work with charkas and energy in order to help everything become stable, active, awake, aware. Concentration practices help you focus and bring into some degree of stability, but that is it.
Concentration and Imagination
To reach comprehension, understanding, insight, you need a different technique. In the Gnostic tradition we teach a variety of techniques to have comprehension. The most important one that we practice everyday is called Retrospection. Retrospection means to review, to recover, to analyze, to look over, and to investigate. This is a form of analytical meditation. It is not the only kind of meditation that we teach or practice, but it is the most important one. In a practice of retrospection, after you have set up all the preliminaries we have described, you simply begin to review those events that feel significant to you. You sit to relax, you forget everything outside, you take your attention inside and you concentrate, but moreover, you visualize. This is why this second step of meditation or concentration really shouldn't be limited merely to concentration. That term "concentration" can be misleading. What are you concentrating on and how? This is why the Tibetan model is so useful. The Tibetan model breaks this down into two aspects of the same thing: Shamatha and Vipashyana. Shamatha is calm abiding, what we could call concentration or meditative stability, or tranquillity. Vipashyana means special insight, and relates to the ability to perceive and see something new, to see into something, to analyse something.
So, if in a Shamatha type of practice you would just be simply concentrating in order to acquire a stability of mind, there are also Vipashyana exercises in which you seek insight into to something. But understand, it is very simple: you cannot have insight without concentration. If you cannot concentrate your mind, you will not be able to visualize and sustain it, much less penetrate into it to see what is contained there.
In the Tibetan traditions there are many practices related to Shamatha and Vipashyana. What I am talking about are the principles behind these terms. Samael called them concentration and imagination. You see, he taught the same thing as the Tibetans.
Shamatha (tranquility) is one-pointed concentration.
Vipashyana (insight) is analytical comprehension. - Ratnamegha
Concentration is the ability to observe (visualize) something without distraction, to be focused on something without forgetting that you are focusing on it. This is generally the first hurdle, once we have set up the preliminaries for our practice and we start to meditate. Most of the time we get a few minutes into the meditation and we forget we are meditating; we get distracted and we dream. A few minutes or an hour goes by and then you realize, 'I am supposed to be meditating.' This is the first thing that has to be worked on: to not forget yourself, to remain concentrated, but also mindful of concentrating. This is specifically defined in the nine stages of Shamata. On the Gnostic Teachings website, there are several lectures that explain these nine stages, a very simple concept taught by Maitreya that can really help you when you are trying to develop meditation, at least to the degree where you Do not forget that you are meditating – that is the most fundamental thing. If in your own practice you are meditating and you forget that you are meditating after a few minutes, utilize that tool to help you, so that you can establish more consistent mindfulness of your practice and not forget you are meditating.
This is important, because if you forget that you are meditating, you are wasting your time. If you persist in meditating that way, eventually you will give up, because you will not get the fruit or benefit of meditation. You will get frustrated and you will abandon your practice, and there are many people who have suffered this problem. The solution is quite simple: learn about concentration. Learn about these degrees of meditative stability, because at each degree there are antidotes to obstacles, steps you can apply that are quite simple, and they just take patience and some effort.
Nonetheless, once you have reached the level of having mindfulness of your practice—not forgetting that you are meditating—then you reach a stage where Vipashyana becomes really useful.
In terms of Samael Aun Weor, this when we really start to unify concentration and imagination. You see, what I am doing is setting up levels of importance, gateways that you have to reach. You cannot skip them. Do not think you can immediately jump to the Tantrayana aspect of meditation – you cannot. It is impossible. The teachings are established in a very specific way, and if you follow the steps it is not hard and it does not take a long time, but if you do not, you will not get anywhere and eventually you will abandon your practice, because you will get frustrated. So it is very important to understand these steps clearly.
When you have reached this level of having enough concentration, to not forget you are meditating, then your visualization practice will become very effective. It will become much more achievable, but before that point, it is very difficult. So, you may have experienced trying a retrospection practice, or trying a visualization practice and you get a minute or two in and then you start fantasizing, dreaming, and forget that you are meditating, and all of sudden you realize that a half hour or hour has gone by and you wake up and you cannot remember anything. I am sure most people have had an experience like that. Well, all you have to do then is work on your concentration powers, and the best way to do that is to improve your self-observation. If we forget that we are meditating, it is because we are not mindful of meditating. If we are not mindful in those few moments of meditation, then we are not mindful the rest of the day. If you are forgetting you are meditating, it is because you are forgetting yourself during the day, so learn to remember yourself during the day. Make the effort to be consistent in your self-observation and self-remembering.
Imagination is merely the other half, the other aspect of concentration. In reality, you cannot separate concentration from imagination. This is another mistake that some teachers, schools, and students make, where they try to enforce upon the student to concentrate and to reject or avoid the perception of images, to not imagine. This is similar to demanding that you stop breathing. It is not possible. The consciousness perceives naturally, it is normal, it is the way the consciousness functions.
We all have the ability to concentrate, and we also have the ability to imagine. But, these abilities are trapped in desire. If I asked you to imagine a desire that is important to you, like something lustful or something gluttonous, you would very easily be able to have images arrive into your mind, even with your eyes open. If I asked you to remember a particular event from your life that you really enjoyed or indulged in, like a lustful event or something related to food, or something related to where your pride was puffed up, you could easily remember that. All the images related to that would easily emerge in your mind's eye. Everybody has this ability naturally, and that is because the consciousness—which is the ability to imagine and see internally—is trapped in those desires.
On the other hand, if I asked you to imagine God, if I asked you to imagine your Being, most people say, 'What?' They struggle and nothing appears in their mind. Or, if something appears, they are confused and it does not make sense. Or, if I asked you to imagine an event from your life when you experienced chastity, or when you really felt real cognizant happiness for someone else, you have to struggle to remember anything. You would have to work at it to remember something related with a virtue, but related with a defect, it is easy.
So, here is our goal, in the same way we need to extract our powers of concentration from our defects, we have to extract our powers of imagination, and we do them both at the same time. This is the value of retrospection meditation; this is the importance of retrospection. In retrospection practice, you are utilizing your consciousness to analyze the events of a given day that disturbed you, and when you are analyze them, you are inverting the power upon that element. That element that disturbed you has your consciousness in it, and when you become aware of it, you become cognizant of it, you are taking power from it.
Just in the same way, if you find out in your daily life that someone you trusted was stealing from you, if you become aware it, a great deal of their ability to take anything away from you is taken away, because you are aware of what they are doing. The more you learn about how they do it, the less power they have. When they discover that you know, they have lost. The same thing happens with every ego, with every defect. You have to observe those egos. You have to observe those qualities of yourself that make mistakes, that perform wrong actions, and the more you observe them during the day, the more power you take from them. The more you investigate them in your meditation, the more power you take from them, until eventually the ego is left as it should be – empty, with no energy. Then it can be destroyed. This is the point of comprehension, the essence of it. It is self-investigation, and with every defect and quality of mind that we investigate, that we analyze, we extract its power and we restore it to its rightful place in our psyche.
Thus, a combination of all these factors puts a great deal of energy into our consciousness, which helps to stabilize our mind and give us comprehension, and more and more it feeds itself, until becomes naturally sustaining. In the beginning it takes a lot of effort – it is very hard, it is painful, and we complain, 'When I meditate, I keep forgetting myself.' Well, if you realize you are forgetting yourself, you are doing well. If you do not realize you are forgetting yourself, you need to work harder. The Buddha said that if you catch yourself a thousand times being distracted, it is a very successful meditation. If you do not catch yourself at all, you need to work harder.
So, do not be deflated or defeated and feel like you cannot do it. If you are aware of the problems, if you are aware that you are not able to do it, you are doing well, you are on your way. Deepen that, keep looking. Do not give up.
These combined powers of concentration and imagination are the gateway to comprehension. When these two become very strong, and become one thing, it opens a doorway in your consciousness. In Sanskrit, we call it Samadhi. That word in this context means ecstasy. But not ecstasy in the form of a sensation in your body. Many mistake it that way, but that is it not the case. You might experience such sensations, but that is not what Samadhi means.
Samadhi means, in its strict definition, an experience of the consciousness free of the ego. That is truly ecstasy; to feel your Self, your true identity, your soul, your consciousness, your Being, without any karma, without any pain, without any desire, free. That is a true Samadhi. Anyone can have that experience, if the conditions are established. It is not that some people are capable and others are not, no. Every being that exists has the capability. Every being who has consciousness can have Samadhi, because Samadhi is simply consciousness free of ego, simply that – anyone can experience that.
The obstacles that prevent Samadhi are attachment, desire, laziness, and karma. Sometimes, as hard as you work, you will not access Samadhi; it maybe your karma, something you have to pay, it does not mean you should stop. It means you should work harder. The faster you work, the faster you will pay off the karma, and then reach those experiences that you are longing for.
The capacity of imagination is something that is natural to us, but we have to learn to manage cognizantly, and when we do that, images emerge. This is normal and natural. Do not become identified with seeing images. It is a sign of progress, when in your meditation practice you are trying to work on your retrospection and a new image comes; it can be sound, it can be a voice, there are different types of phenomena that can occur, these are normal. Do not be afraid, but also, do not be attached. Whatever emerges in your mind, observe it, analyze it, but do not react emotionally. In this way, you start to comprehend those things.
We have reached another juncture here that is very difficult for people to understand, and that is, they have established the preliminaries, they have learned some concentration, and they are starting to work with imagination, and then they start to see things that do not make sense. It is confusing. At this point, what is needed is more practice, more effort, more relaxation. When the images we see are confusing, it means that you are starting to see the contents of your mind; the mind does not make sense. The mind we have is full of contradictions, and full of all kinds of information, an unbelievable amount of information. This is quite logical actually. In your mind is everything you have seen or experienced, ever. Not just this lifetime, but all of your existences – that is a lot of images and a lot of impressions – it is all in there, like a big mass of circulating chaos. So, you look in your mind and you start to things that are all mixed up and do not make sense. You may remember dreams like that. Those dreams are your mind. It is what is in your mind.
The basic idea I want to communicate in this lecture is, establish these preliminaries and begin to work with this practice and be disciplined with it. It bears a great deal of fruit. The fruit that it gives you is precisely comprehension, understanding.
The greatest benefit of comprehension is serenity. The ability to love – the virtues that we have become natural, when we really start to understand and comprehend ourselves, we start to gain some foothold into letting our Being work through us. That's the value of comprehension.
We always wonder, how did the Buddha do it? How did Jesus do it? But really, for them it is effortless; they do not have to exert themselves to be what they are. They are what they are. They just are that. We are not, and to become that we have to make effort. We have to exert ourselves, but let us make the distinction; that effort is not to calm the mind. That exertion is not to force the mind. That exertion is to reach the stage where we do not exert. So, philosophically it sounds contradictory, but it is not, and it becomes clear as you practice. As you make the effort in the right places, and non-exertion in the right places, then it becomes very clear. Let me read you a quote from Samael that explains that. He said:
'Comprehension replaces exertion when one tries to comprehend the truth intimately hidden in the secret depths of each problem. We do not need any exertion to comprehend each and every defect that we carry hidden in the different levels of the mind.'
You cannot force understanding. It emerges on its own, so he explains this:
'In practical life, each time a new problem torments us, we make many useless exertions. We appeal to exertions to solve it. We struggle and suffer, but then, the only thing we obtain is to commit inanities that complicate our existence even more. The disillusioned ones, the disenchanted ones, those who even no longer want to think, those who were not able to solve a vital problem, find the solution to it, when their mind is serene and tranquil, when they had no hope whatsoever. No truth can be comprehended by means of exertion. The truth comes like a thief in the night, when one least expects it. Extrasensory perceptions during meditation, illumination to the solution to a problem, are only possible when no kind of subconscious or conscious exertion exists, when the mind does not exert itself to be more that it is.'
We need to exert ourselves to make effort in our daily lives in our efforts to be cognizant, to pay attention to ourselves, to observe ourselves. When we sit to meditate, we make effort to concentrate, to be present, but that is all. Then we let what is, arise. And what arises, we observe, and what passes, we observe and that is all. Understanding comes on its own.
Questions and Answers
Audience: Do you think exertion and meditation is discrimination, because some say do not expect anything in meditation, because it is only the mind interrupting... Others say, expect the first meditation to be the best meditation. So, is this a separation of consciousness and mind really?
Speaker: It does not require exertion to see the difference between an illusion and reality, but it does require perception and knowledge. When you see an image, if you are conscious of seeing, the image is digested automatically. Recognition of what it is depends upon our knowledge. For example, if I show you a sentence written in English, if you already know how to read, you will not have to exert yourself to understand it. The understanding will emerge on its own. However, if I show you a sentence written in Sanskrit, if you do not know how to read it, it will not matter how much you exert yourself, you will not understand it. Similarly, through knowledge we understand what we see internally. This is why we study Kabbalah and ourselves.
Audience: What is the difference between imagination and fantasy?
Speaker: The difference between imagination and fantasy is a matter of polarity. Both are functions of consciousness. Imagination can be either mechanical, driven by attachment, ego, desire, etc. Or, it is conscious, driven by the cognizance or the conscious will. In mechanical imagination, which is what most us experience, this is that ability we all have that I mentioned; is quite easy for us to imagine our desires and to revive our memories and to review events where we were wronged, or where we indulged in some kind of sensation; this relates with fantasy where we imagine some spectacular future for ourselves, or imagine ourselves as Buddha's, or imagine ourselves as very wealthy. It is daydreaming. It is 11 o'clock in the morning and we are hungry for lunch, and we already start dreaming what we are going to have for lunch, fantasizing and daydreaming about it – that is mechanical imagination. That is using those powers in a way that creates suffering.
Cognizant imagination is when you utilize those powers of imagination for benefit, with virtue, with right action. An example would be to sincerely pray for the end of suffering and to visualize all beings freeing themselves from suffering. How many of us pray that? How many of us visualize that? Most of us probably visualize eating food or having sex, or getting popular, or getting a lot of money and things like that. But very few of us imagine an end to hunger, an end to poverty, an end to our pride.
This raises a very interesting point. In retrospection practice, it is essential that it not become a damaging form of self-recrimination. It is necessary for us to recriminate ourselves, we need to be critical of our defects, but likewise it is essential for us to love God, and love humanity. If our practice consists entirely of criticism against ourselves and beating on ourselves and always attacking ourselves, gradually we will become depleted, we will become bitter, sour, and this can be harmful. It is recommended then that you also meditate on virtues, that you also meditate on your Divine Mother, that you meditate on the suffering of humanity, that you pray, that you develop devotion, that you cultivate chastity, humility, and these types of virtues in your heart.
So, my advice to you is, when you are analyzing an event from the day that bothers you, that you should not have done, or some feeling that you had that you feel regret about; do that, recriminate yourself, you need to feel remorse. But then, meditate on what you should have done, visualize what should have been the right action and pray to your God what that should have been, so that you see both sides. A very effective way to do that is to put yourself in the shoes of the other person. If you are having a conflict with someone, meditate on your part, but visualize how they see you – you will learn something. I promise you that. You will start to see that you are not the saint that you think you are, and the way people see you is quite different from how you see yourself. Furthermore, when you put yourself in the shoes of others, you can start to understand their suffering. This is how we start to understand the Mahayanic ethic. We start to cultivate Bodhichitta – that sincere wish to aid others to escape suffering. So, we need to analyze things from a more well-rounded perspective.
Audience: When we begin to do our retrospection, should we focus on the events that stand out during the day, or should we review everything, or seek to reach that goal of reviewing everything?
Speaker: My own experience of this practice is that you have to learn to follow your intuition. In the beginning, it seems to me you will focus on events that stand out to you, that you feel regret for, or feel some interest in discovering what is behind it. Gradually, naturally your ability to review more events will begin to grow.
This means in the beginning, if you are meditating for 10 or 15 minutes, and getting something from that, and benefiting from that, that time is begin to grow – you will not be able to review everything in 10 or 15 minutes. You will start to find too much information, and you will start to extend your meditation practice on your own, because you want to. That is the way it should work.
As to should you be mechanical and automatically review and retrospect every single instant of everyday – no. If you have the time, great – you will learn things from that, but my recommendation to you would be to focus on those events that your conscience is leading you to. Your Being speaks to you through your conscience. It is your Being who will say in your heart, 'you shouldn't have done that.' Or, 'you missed a chance here to do something good,' or, 'you need to understand something about this or that situation.' You have to follow that guidance.
Audience: Should the mind make sense to us? Because often we work at our meditation and often we go into it looking for comprehension and then we see the chaos and we are analyzing these egos and it does not make sense. Like as much as we dissect it, it still does not make sense, it does not add up.
Speaker: That is normal. When the images begin to emerge in your meditation practice and you are starting to see things, in the beginning it will come almost like koans, like Zen koans that are completely illogical. The famous one is, what is the sound of a single hand clapping? Your mind says, 'what?' And the images that emerge in meditation are like that, in the beginning –you start see things that do not make sense. This is normal - do not stop.
There are three levels in this practice. First is imagination, second is inspiration, and third is intuition.
In the phase of imagination in a given practice of meditation, we are starting to imagine. So, we are doing a retrospection practice, as an example, we are imagining an event from the day, this is the first stage, imagination.
The second stage is when something new emerges, something that does not make sense, you are seeing aspects of your mind, you are seeing images or you are hearing sounds, and it just does not seem to connect. This is the second phase, inspiration. This is when we are starting to gather new data. It may not appear to be related to the intellect, but there is a relationship, but your intellect cannot find it. In other words, the mind cannot see the problem, because the mind is the problem. You have to keep meditating. In fact, you can start to meditate on that new information, the new image, the new scenario that you see visualized or that appears to you. You have to be patient because you are waiting for the real comprehension to come, and this the part you cannot force. You cannot force the new images to arise and you also cannot force the comprehension. All you can do is observe the scene that you want to understand. Just keep watching it. Gradually, on its own, spontaneously, understanding will come. You will not know where it comes from. You will all of a sudden get it. It is like all of a sudden a light bulb comes on, 'oh, now I get it!' Some connection gets made. This is the third aspect, intuition.
Imagination, inspiration, intuition – these are the three parts. Some people think that these are like stages of initiation. They think that at first you work for years at imagination, and then you get to inspiration, and then you work for years at inspiration, and then you get to intuition, and then you work for years at intuition. No, it does not work like that. These three can happen in one practice, repeatedly. Imagination is your act of visualizing, inspiration is the new information that arises, and intuition is the understanding of that. Just keep practicing, especially when you first start to visualize and you first start seeing images, it is confusing. Little by little understanding emerges.
This explanation applies to dreams as well. The same process unfolds in dreaming, because dreaming is merely the mechanical reflection of the same practice. When you dream at night, you are doing the same thing. You are doing what you should be doing in meditation; you are seeing the contents of your mind, but we dream without awareness. Become aware of dreaming, cognizant of dreaming and therefore you will know how to meditate. This is why we practice Dream Yoga, Astral Projection – it is the same science. The difference is, one is inside the body and one is outside the body. Both lead to comprehension. Both lead to seeing new images – inspiration, and understanding them – intuition. This is why, the more you meditate, the easier Dream Yoga becomes, and the more you practice Dream Yoga, the easier meditation becomes. It Is the same thing.
Audience: Would you say comprehension is Daath?
Speaker: In a sense it is, but that's a little tricky, the way the question is phrased, and the reason is this. Daath is specifically the tree of knowledge of purity and impurity, which is at the level of our throat. It is the abyss between the spirit and soul, the lower seven sephiroth, and the Being which is the upper three sephiroth. Daath is that gateway. Psychologically, spiritually, Daath is a door. So, more specifically then, Daath would be related with Samadhi. It Is a doorway; it is a vehicle or a way of entry. Comprehension though, itself, as a substance, is Chokmah, Binah, Kether.
Binah is intelligence, Chokmah is wisdom and the union of those with Kether, is Christ. So, that upper Trinity in union with Daath represents the highest aspects of the soul, the Kayas, and that is real Prajna or comprehension.
Audience: You mentioned earlier in these lecture series that we should leave our bodies to experience the most in meditation. Now, when we are entering those states where we are leaving our body, how can we tell what state we've entered into versus the confusion of the mind we might have and we might experience a sensation that we have never experienced before, and it might not be at a certain level of the Tree of Life; it might just be a sensation that we do not know. And we also do not know what levels there are to reach as well, so how to fix the confusion of that?
Speaker: Experiences in meditation have to be understood in a psychological aspect, not a materialistic aspect. What that means is, instead of trying to measure an experience, or the result of meditation by the sensations it produces, you have to analyze it in terms of the psychological aspect.
Samadhi is simply a state in which the consciousness is free of ego. You can have Samadhi in your physical body. Great masters are in a continual state of Samadhi, because they have no ego. Those great masters, generally, have to make great effort to stay in the body. Not like us, we have to make effort to get out. So, understanding that is important, because Samadhi is not related to one plane or another, although you can have Samadhi in different planes, this is determined by the psychological state, so it would be incorrect to say that Samadhi is only related with Tiphereth. It is related, but Samadhi can be anywhere. You can have Samadhi physically, or in the abyss, because you can go into klipoth, into hell with just consciousness, if you have that ability, and that would be a Samadhi, but in the abyss, and that could be very fruitful. Likewise, with any other sphere on the Tree of Life that type of experience is possible. So, you cannot really say that the Tree of Life relates to levels of Samadhi. It does not really relate that way. The Tree of Life relates to levels of physicality and psychology. Samadhi can be anywhere.
Audience: One of the problems with my question is that I am looking at the Tree of Life and thinking well here's this point, here's this point, and here's this point and it does not work like that, so I am trying to see when I do leave my body, how do I see where I am at?
Speaker: That is a different question. Part of what you need to remember that the Tree of Life is multi-dimensional. We look at this tree of ten spheres, but each sphere is multi-dimensional. The bottom is Malkuth, we always talk about the physical body, but your physical body is multi-dimensional. Right now we see the physical body at this particular scale, so we see a body that appears to be unified. But, you can zoom into that body and see the organs, or go even further and see the organisms that make up the organs, like the molecules, the cells. Then, you go even further into the atoms, and then you go even further into what makes the atoms. So, these are levels of dimensionality even within this dimension. Does that a make sense?
The reason that is important, is because every sphere is like that. When you have an experience in meditation it becomes tricky to identify where you are on the Tree of Life when you have these types of experiences. That is why it is best to relate to it psychologically. And that is why I said not to look at it in terms of matter, but look at it in terms of psychology, because the psychological component will reveal the nature of the place you are in. It may sound like an elusive answer, but when you have experiences in meditation it will make sense to you.
As an example, if you have some kind of an experience and you see an event, instead of analyzing the appearance (matter) of the event to determine where you are, analyze its content, its emotional content, it psychological content and then you will know. The reason it is important is because we are easily fooled, very easily fooled, even physically we are easily fooled. Physically we think we have good understanding of these things, that we are Gnostics and someone comes along talks very well about these teachings and says, 'yes, I am also a master,' we believe them. And see that everybody else thinks they are master, so we think they must be a master, because everybody says that, they sure act like one, whatever that means. Well, the same happens in the internal worlds, especially with our own experiences. We start to see, people coming to us and asking us for advice in the astral plane, and we think, 'oh, I must be a great master', not realizing that is something trying to test our pride. We could actually be in limbo, we could be in hell being tested. But, if we do not discriminate and analyze the psychological content of that experience, we will not know. This is how many people get fooled. They get fooled by their experiences, because they take them at face value. They base them on materiality, on appearances, instead of analyzing the psychological content.
In the previous lecture, the speaker mentioned having an experience of seeing himself as Moses. If he didn't understand what I am explaining to you, he would have thought that he was Moses, he would have come back and said, 'I had an experience, I am Moses! Everybody come bow at my feet.' No, it is not like that, he knew enough to discriminate its experience and understand its psychological content and its symbolism. That's what is important, and that's how you reach comprehension and analysis. So, whatever experiences you have, analyze them, do not take them at face value.
Audience: Now that you mention, when we see the structure of a whole dream, for example, so when we have a dream we see them as pictures, do we analyze each piece separately? Do analyze the contents of a dream should we analyze and meditate on each piece of the dream?
Speaker: This is a really important question, and also relates to meditating on the contents of a lecture, on the contents of a book. I am glad you asked and it is something I forgot to mention.
What I was talking about in this process of first concentrating and then visualizing something, there's a very important boundary is what all these lectures have been about up to now; is knowing where the boundary is, and that's the difference between exertion and non-exertion, there is a specific limit that you have to place for yourself. That limit is precisely here when we want to understand something.
When you want to understand a dream or a scripture or a lecture, or investigate anything, the process is simply: concentrate on it, visualize it, and that is all. You do not have to go any further than that. Now, your mind, your intellect might start to analyze it, and that's fine – ignore it. If the mind is analyzing it, if the intellect is picking at it, do not get involved. Put your attention and your centre of gravity into observing, cognizance. It sounds elusive, but this is a really important point, because what people will tend to do is get caught up in the intellectual analysis and hammering on that phenomena, to try to break it, to try to get some information out of it and that's the wrong approach. That's what the masters explain in their books: you cannot comprehend through exertion.
You cannot comprehend by putting that image in your mind and hitting it with the intellect, thinking, 'what does this mean? And what about the other side, what did this person do, and what did that person do? How do I figure this out? What about those other images, what about this other part, and what about the numbers?' We get confused, we make a mess. We all experience that, because we all have a dream and it is a big giant green man with the number 165,000 on his chest and we start thinking what does that mean, and we start calling our friends and we start adding up the numbers and comparing them to the Tarot cards. That's all fine, but you will not understand it until you stop doing that. Until you just relax, look at it and let it be what it is, and without expecting it, without any exertion, at a certain moment the answer will just emerge, on its own. I know it sounds frustrating, because we want the answer now. Yet, it does not work like that.
The answers that we need, the comprehension that we need, will come out naturally, not by force. So, when you are meditating on a scripture, on a lecture, on a dream, on an experience that you had, just put the image on the screen of your intellect, the screen of your mind, and leave it alone. Just watch, and when you are patient and you do that, new things will emerge, new images, new sounds, new memories, something you didn't expect will come out – that is inspiration. At first, you will not understand it. Let me tell you again, you will not understand it, it is normal. Do not expect you are going to understand immediately, because usually you will not. The second stage after imagination is inspiration – that's when those images come, we do not understand it yet – relax, do not start forcing it again, because people get excited when that first image comes and they start hammering with the old habit – using the mind. You cannot do that. The new image comes – relax. Just bring that image into your visualization and hold it there and keep watching. Little by little another image will come, until a certain point it becomes effortless and this is the beauty of it. When you learn to be serene, tranquil on your inner observation, your inner visualization, the images emerge spontaneously.
When established, this practice is just like going over to the door and opening it and looking out into the city. You just go over to the door and you can see whatever you want. Meditation works like that, but you have to have that ability to not force it, to not demand it. When that happens, you can just stand there and watch everything that is going by, and you wait until the understanding emerges naturally. This is how meditation becomes something that requires no exertion. No exertion, just observation. Does that make sense? Okay, I am glad it made sense, because when you try to do it, it will not make sense anymore! You are going to go back to meditation and say, 'What? No, I want the answer now!' Forcing the mind. It takes patience to train the mind. It takes patience to train the consciousness, for it to return to its natural abilities.
Let me say one thing and we will get to another question. The entirety of these six lectures in Tibetan is called Lojong – mind training. I didn't make any of this up. Everything that I have been teaching you is established on thousands of years of meditators using them. You can have confidence in it. I can also tell you from my own experience, it works. All of this works. I am nobody special. I do not have any powers, or any special abilities, but I have been lucky enough to learn this, so that is why I am sharing it with you, because it works. It is not hard. Another question?
Audience: Master Samael in Dream Yoga training suggests on waking up in the morning and writing everything down you dreamed of. I understand that is to improve our memory?
Speaker: Absolutely. This technique master Samael talked about, keeping a notebook for your Dream Yoga practice, and when you wake up you write down everything that you remember, without moving too much, because you will disturb the ability for the memories to come into your brain. You can use that for meditation also, and I recommend it. When you sit to meditate, keep a note book there and a pencil ready, because you are going to get very stable and very serene and you will start to see things, and if immediately jump up and start vacuuming the house, or cleaning up – you are going to forget everything. It will not stay with you, so write it down. Do not show it to anybody. It is for you. But, it does help develop memory; the ability to retain those experiences, so, use it for Dream Yoga and use for your meditation. Very effective, I am glad you mentioned that.
Audience: You mentioned that the times have changed and that our humanity has changed in this era and the Aquarian era which started not too long ago. Most of us, or all of us grew up on or were raised on a Piscean doctrine, so what are the major changes, if you could recap them of what we need to do with the Aquarian state of mind versus the Piscean one that we grew up on?
Speaker: The fundamental difference between the Piscean era of teachings and the Aquarian era of teaching is that the Piscean era required and emphasized secrecy of the higher aspects of the doctrine. All of the intiatic schools were closed during that era and the higher aspects—which include the Mahayana and the Tantrayana aspects—were closed and only given to initiates in very specific, limited cases. That meant there was withholding or a period of repose for the esoteric knowledge. That also meant groups had to be isolated in order to protect that knowledge. So, we had groups isolated in the Himalayan Mountains, groups isolated in India, Egypt, South America, and Central America; many places around the world where that knowledge had been protected and isolated away.
Now, we are in the Aquarian Era. It is marked by the bringing of knowledge, the arrival of knowledge, symbolized by that deity pouring water out the vessel; that represents waters of the Divine Mother – the knowledge that we need. That knowledge is now given freely and openly, without restriction, the entire teaching – given openly, freely to anyone who wants it. Moreover, it means the elimination of the isolated groups.
The Aquarian Era is characterized by fraternity, cooperation, and social engagement, whereas the Piscean Era was characterized by a withdrawal from society, by the need to go and hide in caves and monasteries. The Aquarian is the opposite. In the Aquarian Era the teaching has to be given to everybody openly and freely, and everyone has to cooperate as equals and friends. So, those are the differences and we need to adopt that way of thinking. We need to allow that to emerge in our minds.
Most of us, especially those of us who have karma with spiritual groups, still have the karma of the Piscean concept, and that is why you still see a lot of spiritual groups who restrict and restrain their knowledged and do not let people have itd and have all kinds of reasons, but they do not give it out freely. Even some Gnostic groups say we should not give out the sexual teachings to the public, and some say we should not give out Kabbalah to the public, but what is disingenuous or inconsistent about that is that their founder gave everything freely to the public. All of his books are free to the public, except one, which is restricted for advanced levels, and anyone who enters those levels can get them. You have to be in a position where you can take advantage of it. It is not that it is restricted because none can use it, or that we do not deserve it, it is just we do not need it yet. When we need it, we get it. In that way we see that Samael Aun Weor gave the entire teaching freely to anyone, without restriction, and all Gnostic groups should follow his example – that is Aquarian.
Moreover, he did not set himself up as a patriarch that everyone had to bow to. He stated repeatedly, "I am less than anyone, no one should follow me, we are all brothers here." That is the Aquarian ethic.
So, our job as students and instructors of the tradition is to understand the Piscean Era, but go beyond it. That is why in these lectures I have been bringing these traditional concepts to help explain that the teachings of Samael contain all those concepts, but go beyond them and show their Aquarian value.
Audience: Master Samael talked about went to some place where he saw his Divine Mother where he was in rags and very poorly dressed, and all that. That means as his own situation spiritually, right? So, is it something we can relate in our dreams with someone?
Speaker: With another person. I am not sure I understand your question.
Audience: Like if we see someone that we love so much and we think it is out Divine Mother and is dressed poorly, in rags, can we relate that as our psychological state?
Speaker: I understand. Absolutely, this is the whole thing about experiences in meditations and in dreams. If you have an experience or a dream, it relates to you. Any dream or experience you have is yours. Even if you some other person, it is because somehow that person represents something to you or in you, or is somehow related to something in you. So, any dream you have, you always have to interpret it psychologically in relation to yourself. Do not take them at face value. Sometimes we will have dreams of a friend or a family member and we will see them doing something bad, and then we come back to our body and think, 'I didn't know they were doing something bad. That's really terrible. They are really a bad person.' I am sorry, but that interpretation is wrong. That person, more likely, represents a characteristic in you. So, then you have to meditate what is the chief characteristic of that person. How do they behave? You might discover that you behave that way and that symbol was showing you your own behavior is like that. Do not think the people you see in dreams are literally those people. Most of the time they are representing something in you, that you need to see about yourself.
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.