This is a transcription of a live, unscripted lecture originally given on Gnostic Radio, which you can download for free: Beginning Here and Now: Gnostic Psychoanalysis, Part 1 AUDIO . There is also an accompanying pdf: Beginning Here and Now: Gnostic Psychoanalysis, Part 1 PDF .
Today our lecture will be on Gnostic Psychoanalysis. This topic of psychoanalysis is very broad. Classically it is related to Sigmund Freud, the theories and the type of therapy that he developed. It is a very intricate and elaborate system of thought. In this Gnostic tradition we are encouraged to always explore other types of doctrines with the understanding that we should take what is useful and not necessarily take everything, if there are certain things which aren't in alignment. In particular with psychoanalysis we see in the books and writings and lectures of Samael Aun Weor, that he mentions people like Freud and Jung and Adler who are all related to this psycho-analytic school. He uses some of the same concepts and same words that are a part of the, in a broader sense, the Western psychological system of thought, or, Western Psychotherapy.
Freud himself, what I think is interesting, he was really the first person in a modern western context to analyze dreams. He wrote a book on dream interpretation and he said, I think the quote is along the lines of “Dreams are the royal road into the unconsciousness.” With that statement obviously he is showing a lot of intuition, a lot of correct thought there. He also brought this understanding of the unconsciousness to the modern world, to the public at large. Obviously in our Gnostic studies we know very well that these modern concepts were veiled or symbolized in different ways throughout all of the ancient traditions, however Freud and many other psychiatrists and psychologists of that time gave us some more modern representation and more analytic type of understanding.
What is also interesting that while he really gave a lot of weight towards the unconsciousness, he was at the same time a staunch atheist and materialist. Freud believed that everything that we are as a person is based on our impressions or our experiences from the moment we're born.
In order to better understand what psychoanalysis is, and then maybe going further having a better understanding about what is important about that doctrine from a Gnostic standpoint, we should really start at a philosophical basis and try to understand where Freud was coming from. We do this in order to understand where in his doctrine or where in his system of thought aligns with the goals and the efforts and purpose of our Gnostic teaching. Simply put, psychoanalysis is a two part word. The first part relating to the soul, or psyche, and analysis means to break something into elements, to dissolve something. So for psychoanalysis Freud was attempting to, in the first sense conceptualizing the mind as something that has parts, something that has pieces, and that this mind is interacting with itself. Different parts of itself interacting with itself, and at the same time interacting with the world. This may seem a more or less obvious concept to maybe some of us, but at the time that was quite revolutionary in a certain sense. Freud wasn't the first person to think about the mind in terms of unconsciousness and that things were happening below the level of consciousness, but he was the person to really make it popular. He also was not the first person to attempt to give someone therapy by pulling things out of the unconsciousness. Some other therapies were available then but he was the major developer of this “talking cure:” if you can talk freely about what's going on in your mind, you can unveil what is going on underneath, what he would call the preconsciousness.
Freud viewed the mind very much like a machine. He used mechanical symbols or allegories to represent the mind. This idea for example we often say, in modern culture, “I need to blow some steam off,” or “if I don't do something I'm going to explode” because you need to let the steam out. If you think about that type machinery, of the way a train would work, or a similar type of mechanical operation. Science in that era was seen in a more mechanical context. We still think of it that way but this was before the nuclear age, it was before the atomic age, it was prior to an electronic age, it was really a type of mechanical understanding. It even was like that in physics, they thought everything was strictly mechanical.
Newton’s laws of motion for example revolutionized the world when he was able to see that the world could be understood through a mathematical construct and we could predict very accurately what the world would do if we put certain forces in motion. We could take a baseball and hit it with a bat. If we knew all the forces involved we could form an equation and we'd know pretty much exactly where that ball would have landed. Newton himself was very religious actually, he was quite a mystic, but he brought into the world this mechanical understanding of how things worked in the physical world. From this, there was an understanding that we don't really need to bring in God to understand the world. And this is where the beginning of materialistic and atheistic types of personalities developed from in the modern era.
There are also things that Freud was influenced by the philosopher Kant: he began to introduce the idea that there is a difference between what we perceive the world to be and what the world actually is. And there is this huge difference, this huge almost “gap” that we cannot actually get to the truth (in such theory) because it has to go through our psychological apparatus, in the same way that if you put on a pair of sunglasses, it changes the way that the world is viewed and distorts it. But we always have some sort of goggles on, those goggles are how we see space, how we experience time, how a cause occurs. Like when I knock on the wood it makes a sound, and we have this understanding that these things are connected. Through our psychological apparatus we put all information into the experience of our world. So it is the difference between what is going on in the psyche and what is actually happening, and our experience is the interaction of those two things.
Freud is also very much influenced by Nietzsche and his “will to Power” in the sense that Nietzsche believed that you should drive yourself, or you have a drive to do something. So by combining all of these things together, it was not only Freud, but others at time as well, were asking questions such as “do we have free will?” This was because if the world is just a bunch of mechanical interactions then even our brain could be (according to this theory) considered just a bunch of mechanical interactions; therefore we wouldn't have any free will. It would just appear that we would, but someone who would take that point of view and say, “Well you just think that you have free will but in reality everything is animated by elements which are beyond your control. You're consciousness is just an output, it doesn't do anything, it doesn't go back into the system, it doesn't change anything.” This is of course an extremely empirical and fanatical type of thinking.
Again we talk about materialism, and this word here, the tabula rasa is this idea of a blank slate: that you're born into the world and you're a blank slate. You're completely null and void as a person and you begin experiencing everything and that starts to bring in all of the input, all of the information that forms who you are as a person. Freud very much believed in the tabula rasa in the sense that he needed to conceive a way that we come up with all of these – he would call – neuroses and psychoses, based on just who we are and that short period of time that we've lived.
So, if you're thirty years old and you have some type of psychological conflict, then according to this idea it's based on your childhood, it has to be because that is where you've gotten everything from, because there is no other place where you could get it from. So you may see where I am going with this, you can see from a Gnostic standpoint that there is some bit of truth there, that obviously we have all of these experiences, but we do not from a Gnostic standpoint come to this world as a blank slate. We come in with a tremendous amount of values, what we would call egos, or parts of our psyche that are already related to previous existences. Our soul does not come into this world pure, and the soul or mind is not created by our physical body.
So knowing where Freud is coming from, we can look at his doctrine and be able to see what parts are useful for us from a Gnostic standpoint, what parts we can leave behind. For example, Freud's complicated “psychosexual development.” It is quite intricate and with many concepts related to sex that appear somewhat contrived. He developed all these complicated theories to try and explain everything about humanity. He was missing the fact that if we are coming into this life with many previous experiences, then we wouldn't need to explain how every conflict developed in those first years.
Obviously from a Gnostic standpoint our goal is self-knowledge: we say Gnosis, a word that means “knowledge,” but an inner knowledge. Psychoanalysis, from a classical standpoint, is looking for that too in a certain sense. It is looking to reduce conflict, it is saying that the reason why there are problems because we have these drives: the drive for sex, the drive for greed or power, the drive to kill others, to get what we want. But, we have other parts of ourselves that know that’s inappropriate, so these parts have to repress those desires and present in a way that is socially appropriate, because if we were just to behave according to these basic instinctual desires, we couldn't have a society. So in Freud's conception we have to repress those in order to have a society for a better life. But on the side of that coin, Freud essentially believes this means that basically society is always going to be full of individuals who are repressing their desires, and that is the only way that we can have a society. He wrote a book on what he called Civilization and its Discontents and he basically states that. It is a really materialistic, sort of morbid type of understanding of what the world is all about.
Interestingly, or I find it interesting, Freud himself was raised in his Hassidic culture, he grew up in a Jewish family, but like I said he rejected all religion as an adult. He was very familiar with various Kabbalistic texts when he was growing up, I found that interesting in combination with how he formulated a lot of these ‘drives’. He always related a lot of them to Greek and Roman and Goddesses, the Eros and Thanatos, the sex drive, the death drive, all sorts of other things that I won't get into but he always related to all of these mythological characters. Which from a Gnostic tradition we look at those characters as well and we find the truth in them. So he is directly denying God but then formulating theories based on these other truths. He really wrote very much against this anthropomorphic type of God that is throwing thunderbolts at a miserable humanity, he really rejected that. Of course as Gnostics we reject that version of God as well. For Freud everything that had to do with religion was pathological, meaning it had to be with an illness, the only thing that religion did was make people sick. It had no purpose. Interestingly, he formulated a therapy in which a person comes in and basically confesses their sins to an old man with a beard. Jung actually writes this in one of his treatises, that Freud rejects the idea that a sinner going to ask for forgiveness to the old man in the sky, but instead has to go to the old man on the couch.
Freud and Jung used to be very close but they separated principally because Jung really at the heart was a mystic. He was always having these inner experiences. He had an inner experience related to the first world war, and he was having these really vivid inner experiences that he actually thought that he was going insane. He developed what he called “active fantasy” or “active imagination” where he would sit down and close his eyes and consciously enter into his imagination. He wrote a tremendous amount in a journal about all of these experiences. If you're familiar with the Gnostic type of meditation, you would know that it's very similar, if not exactly what we're trying to teach here, which is to consciously go into your imagination, because your imagination is really is a gateway into your unconsciousness. If you were to open up your attention on to the canvas of your subconsciousness or unconsciousness, something is going to go into there, unconscious drives or unconscious symbols are going to emerge. These are what we call dreams, but if we're able to go into them with attention and hold a relationship there, what you're seeing is a deeper part of yourself. That deeper part of yourself is your subconsciousness, but it is also related to your innermost, your spirit, it's also related to God.
I also listed Adler here because Samael Aun Weor mentions Alder, Jung and Freud in numerous places in his books and lectures. Here, in Fundamental Notions of Criminology and Endocrinology: “Adler and Freud have given unto psychology the A B C's of scientific criminology.” So we can see here that there is something valuable in the western psychological tradition, but at the same time the goal is a bit different. In the beginning, actually, psychoanalysis was seen as way to completely transform yourself as a human being, they had this really lofty goal. Certainly if someone undergoes a good analysis with a good psychoanalyst working with them they can definitely develop and work through a lot of things, but they cannot achieve the total transformation of the human being because it's really missing a lot of pieces. So what we're going to do is to look at what pieces are actually important and how can we apply that to our Gnostic work. The Gnostic work is the awakening of our consciousness and the development of all of our capacities.
What is the Ego?
I think that the first question that I want to ask is “what is the ego or self?” From a Freudian aspect there is this topology of the id, ego and superego. I mention this because many people sometimes come into this tradition and we start talking about the ego, and a lot of concepts, a lot of baggage is brought over just from a popular understanding of what the ego is. Some of it is sort of what Freud says, some it is from other traditions. I think it's very important to get a better grasp of what we're talking about.
In the Freudian sense, Freud believes that the id is our basic instinctual desires, the ego is more about a sense of ego and our self, we're somewhat conscious of the ego. Then the superego is really our morals, our characteristics that are supposed to be appropriate for society, so you can see how the id or the ego have these certain desires that the superego says you can't do that, that you have to be a good person. So there is this conflict, there is a intrapsychic dynamic process going on. There are different ways for these different parts to interact in the so-called healthy individual, but really Freud believes that they is always going to be inner conflict no matter what. From a Gnostic sense we have this term of a psychological annihilation or psychological death, or the death of the ego. We talk in a much more radical sense.
We can also relate the ego from a religious standpoint, from different religions: people are possessed by demons, when there are these evil enemies against divinity, the infidels, the warriors, the army against Arjuna, the possession by the legion that Jesus casts out. We can begin to understand all of this from a psychological standpoint. Unfortunately, most religions use this just as some kind of story like a newspaper, like “this event happened literally and by believing in it you're helping out the greatness of God, by believing in this story.” From a Gnostic standpoint we understand that the scriptures are giving us instructions of how to better understand ourselves, how to integrate our psyche and how to form that connection with our inner spirit. So the possession of legion and the casting out by Jesus, we could say, is an analogy to be working psychologically and spiritually to remove elements which are against God, that are within ourselves. From an eastern standpoint, there is a lot of different Sanskrit and Pali words: skandas, samskaras, kleshas. These words have different types of translations in English depending on what book you're reading, who is the translator, but we can use the words aggregates and mental formations and afflictions.
The western aspect or conception of the ego, from a Freudian sense, they don't really see the ego as a thing, they see that it's just a symbol for what is going on in the brain. Freud himself was a neurologist, but he abandoned neurology because really he couldn't figure out what was wrong with people – obviously neurology at that point was quite crude and I think even today it is still considered crude to compared with what it really needs to be because the brain is so complicated – but he realized he couldn't really get at anything there so he developed this system as an analogy for what he believed was going on.
Now in a western religious standpoint we see the possession by the devil, demons, Satan: we see it as this demonic thing, and it's against God, and people are working against it, or trying to strike the devil down or something like that. Again we have that classical standpoint that it's just this physical entity, but even if you appear from a psychological standpoint, you can have a sense of “there is this part of myself which is trapping who I am as a person. My ego is trapping my true self, so I need to liberate that.” From an eastern standpoint they don't see the ego as being something so concrete, they see it as aggregates, we've talked about this before: aggregate means a collection or heap of elements. So a pile of stones, a pile of gravel which you could hold in your hand. A bunch of tiny things that form into one thing. A mental formation or affliction, so instead of talking about it as this thing, they almost talk about it as a culmination of how energy is forced to flow through certain patterns, that such energy is being forced to rigidly follow certain patterns within our psyche, which therefore forces us to act in a certain way. So from those traditions you don't see so much of "OK I have this egotistical element", that I have this pride and that I need to eliminate it as a thing. Instead it is closer to “have this tendency or I have this aggregation of energy, this blockage of energy and I need to change that about myself.”
The question on this slide asks: is the ego real or illusory? We ask this because it is something that also causes difficulty. Because we talk about the ego being a real thing that we have to work on, versus somebody who might say, “Well, I was acting very egotistical, but then I realized it was all an illusion, and I shifted my perspective, and now I feel better about myself.” You might say to that person, “Don't you have an aspect of yourself which was in that ego and you need to work on that and you need to change yourself?” Such a person might respond with, “No, just being ego or not being ego, it was all about my perspective at the moment. If I had a bad perspective I had ego, otherwise it was not.” This is a tempting argument, because it implies that you don't actually have to look at all of your past behaviors: if your past behavior was bad, if you made a mistake, well that happened because you were in the wrong perspective at the time, but as long as you have full consciousness and perspective now, you don't have to worry about the past. Right, so it's essentially a way to not work on your ego (this is a mistaken idea).
So the ego is really something that we must work with to eliminate. But in the other sense we say that the ego is not real, it's not the real substance, it's not the real truth. So, is the ego this concrete thing in our psyche? Or if our psyche is this kind of psychological material and the ego are these condensations which entrap it, something like the genie in the bottle: the bottle is the ego, inside the bottle is our true self, and we have to break all of those bottles so that we can integrate ourselves as a real person. Or is the ego just this aggregation of different energy that is patterned, and putting ourselves into patterned, rigid behaviors? The reality is that it is just depends on your perspective. It just depends on how you want to work with it. The question “is the ego real or illusionary” is what we could call a false dichotomy. I ask that question because any individual who wants to do this psychological work needs to continually refine their understanding of what is myself, what is the ego? Because a very simplistic sense of self is not enough. Maybe by saying “oh I have pride” is somewhere to start. That is good that you admit it, to see that in yourself. But how do you work on pride? Because that's actually a very vague and superficial label. It's hard for you to sit down and say “I'm going to work on pride.” You might be able to get something out of it, but such an approach is going to limit you, because you're just working with a label. You're only working with what you can see that makes sense in that label of pride; you're actually limiting yourself.
In reality, the better way to work is acknowledge when you felt something was wrong, when you felt guilt… To come into contact with your emotions, and to know when you've done something wrong, and then analyze that for what it is without putting a label on it. Because it may be pride, it might have nothing to do with pride, it may be a lot deeper. So what you're actually working with is your psyche interacting with the external world, forming this moment of time, that you felt some pain there, you felt some suffering, you felt something not good. Whether or not you label that as some sort of pride (or anger, or jealousy) is irrelevant. What is important is that you understood how the exterior world and your interior world interacted to form this moment, and how that may have caused you to behave in a certain way that was not conscious. A moment that was not what you want to be as a person, that rendered yourself egotistical because of the way the world presented itself in front of you. That is a more in depth way to work, and we'll talk a little bit more about how all of this fits together at the end.
Mythology as Psychology
In terms of the ego and the different myths: Perseus and Medusa, Perseus has to behead Medusa. Medusa’s hair is formed out of serpents, which represent different aspects of ego. Perseus can't look directly at Medusa or he'll turn to stone. Medusa represents the egotistical part of ourselves, so when we try to look directly into ourselves, we fall asleep, we dream. There is this huge resistance to look into ourselves. We have to use a special type of reflection, and Perseus had to use his shield and reflect it in a certain way so he could see what he was doing, what this is really point towards is the skill of inner psychoanalysis. It's a skill of looking into yourself, having that insight, but if you're too direct you will fall asleep into your ego. That is why when we close our eyes and we fall asleep, because we don't have the attention or ability to separate from our ego, and we just dream and wander. Our will, all of those drives that we were talking about, just do whatever they want without our consciousness there.
Let us remember Theseus and the Minotaur. Theseus has to go through this huge labyrinth, to find a huge beast at the center. Sometimes it is the catacomb where there are dead bodies there; it's a place like a dark dungeon with all of these different twists and turns. It is really pointing towards the labyrinth of your mind and what lies within. The bones of the dead represent our past actions, our mistakes. Remember Paul, who stated, “the sting of death is sin [mistakes]” (1 Cor. 15).
We can also relate this to Odysseus, who comes back from the Trojan War and there are 108 suitors of Penelope. He has to shoot an arrow and hit every single one of them. We can understand that from a psychological standpoint.
There is also Horus and the Red Demons of Seth. There is a battle which occurs in order to see who was going reclaim the throne of Osiris. Osiris is Christ, and the throne of Christ is the spinal medulla, and the war takes place in our mind, our nervous system, and our libido.
Introspective analysis is really what we're attempting to do as the starting point of gnostic psychoanalysis. We know that Samael Aun Weor writes that the esoteric discipline of a Gnostic is meditation. Nothing is more important than learning how to meditate. A person who is meditating, even if they don't think they're good, but they are reserving that time to sit down and learn how to relax, learn how to observe, and learn how to (at whatever level they are at) go into their mind. Doing that on a daily basis is the absolute number one thing to do to transform yourself. Meditation is not just to relax and to feel better afterwards. Our goal is really to go into ourselves and transform ourselves, and we do that by really going in and learning how to analyze.
Samael Aun Weor writes in The Revolution of the Dialectic on the section called psychoanalysis,
“We can investigate ourselves, we can introvert ourselves, but when we attempt to, the difficulty of counter-transference emerges. The solution to this difficulty lies in knowing how to transfer our attention inward, with the purpose of exploring ourselves in order to know ourselves and to eliminate the negative values that harm us psychologically, socially, economically, politically, and even spiritually. …how can the force of counter-transference be overcome? This can only be possible by means of transactional analysis and structural analysis.”
Meditation is an esoteric discipline which we should be undergoing. This is a big work because to learn how to meditate is ultimately not a simple thing. You learn by practicing. There is only so much you can read before you have to actually sit down and learn how to be attentive. When we go into ourselves, when we attempt to introvert ourselves, and to point our attention inwardly and see what is there, the counter-transference occurs. He is using a word here that is very technical; it is a word in the psychotherapeutic jargon. Freud actually came up with the words transference and countertransference as what actually occurs between the therapist and patient when they are in therapy.
So psychoanalysis happens between the analyst and the patient. With Gnostic psychoanalysis, or inner psychoanalysis, it happens between the conscious attention and the ego within meditation itself. So what we're trying to do is understand this valuable concept of transference and countertransference when we're applying it to ourselves when we're in meditation. There is a reason why it is difficult to pay attention to your own mind. We traditionally think of this as fascination. It's an interesting concept to think about: “why do we dream?” If you were to ask scientists who were trying to investigate dream states, and they put someone in a bed and put electrodes on them to observe the different waves forms and stages of sleep, such as REM sleep, to observe alpha and beta and theta waves going on. Even with all these different things we can measure and study, it's still really difficult to find the exact reason why we have to sleep. It's really quite complicated, and what do all these types of sleep mean? When does sleep really start? We think this would be an easy question, but it's actually quite difficult, very hazy.
What's being confused here is this sleepiness of the physical body versus the sleepiness of the consciousness. Those are two different things. Because your body can be asleep, but your consciousness can be awake. Or your body can be awake but your consciousness can be asleep. Once you understand that a little bit then you can better understand what it means to really dream, what it really means to be fascinated.
When you walk down the street and you become distracted by something, you see something very beautiful in a shop window… and you start thinking about that thing… you start being able to see what that would look like if you had that… that watch, or that bag, those pairs of shoes. You see it because your mind has become fascinated by it. Your ability to see internally is being used in combination with the desire to own something, with a desire to look a certain way, to have a presentation. You can keep going deeper, “why do I have a desire to have that presentation?” Perhaps because it feels good to dress nicely, because it feels good to have that. Is that pride, or, just respecting your body and not just being a vagabond, because if you go to the other extreme and never shower, and just wear rags all day. There was a philosopher named Aristippus who just wore a bunch of rags with holes, but was told by Socrates, “we can see your vanity through the holes in your vesture.” So you can have vanity in terms of how terrible your clothing is as well because you're so proud. You can have vanity in how good you eat. For example if you're 100% vegan or eat all organic and everything, and to just be so proud that you're such an amazing eater. But it's all pride. It doesn't mean you shouldn't eat that way, that's not the point, and I'm not saying that you shouldn't dress one way or another, but what is it doing for you? Is it about the health of your body or is your pride also being felt? Are you judging other people because they look differently? Are you judging other people because they eat differently? Then such a response is actually about you, not the other person. Right?
For example, take the inability to not judge someone when you see them walking down the street – because the first thing we do, you immediately size them up and judge them – that's all about us. That's about all the fascinations we have about ourselves. Being proud of our self, we see someone else present a different image, our egotistical judgment arrives to protecting itself. The ego acts as if to say, “Obviously that is not the right way to be, I'm the right way to be, I'm going to protect that, I'm going to defend myself by criticizing the other person.” In other words, having a strong reaction to someone’s appearance is a defense mechanism to hide from our own insecurities.
So the way you get to analyze ourselves is to look at specific events. We can't just say “I have some pride about the way I dress.” Overall, yes that's good to know, great. But for you to really get into it, you have to see it as a specific event. This means firstly that you're observing yourself. That's a side of things that we really haven't talked about in this lecture: to pay attention in life, to pay attention to what you're thinking, feeling, what your body is doing. That in and of itself is a whole discipline, of being aware of yourself, being conscious. This word mindfulness, which is becoming fairly prominent and popular, is not well understood. It's a good thing to become mindful, we should all be striving for mindfulness, to be paying attention, but what do you do with that though? You can be mindful and be totally engorged in your ego all day. In that sense you're just being mindful of the fact that you're in your ego, you know? What there really should be is a being mindful of what is going on inside: to see that there is this huge ocean inside of me… all of these different waters flowing in different waves… all these different drives going on inside of me. When you begin to pay attention to it, we use that data towards achieving our goal. In our Gnostic studies we have a goal, to eliminate all of these unnecessary parts of ourselves, so that we have more happiness. These parts are what are actually causing our problems. So we want to actually eliminate them, we don't just want to become mindful of them.
Yes mindfulness is good, but being mindful of when we’re actually behaving in a way that is causing suffering for ourselves, causing suffering for someone else. Then we can see it, then we can say, “Ok, I definitely was very egotistical in that moment, I was really harshly judging someone, I was really gossiping, I was really terrible at that point, they did not deserve that.” If you're aware of yourself, then you recognize that such an event happened, and then you can bring that moment into meditation. So instead of saying “I'm going to work on my pride today”, you say “I’m going to look at what happened in that moment.” Whether or not you think you are working on your ego, or if you're just not sure if what happened during that moment: “was it ok, did I buy this pair of shoes, was it a good thing or not? Did I just have too much vanity?” You just go into it and observe it, and ask, “What are the different things going on inside of myself?” For example, “Where did I get this huge entitlement to think that I should always be able to take something first…”, or whatever that moment is, you go into it to investigate it. You don't go into it to see that you already know what it is. If you go into a moment, and label it as pride, what are you doing? You have already labeled it, you are already done, you have already locked it into a little box and filed it away. If you go into it thinking that it is pride then you're actually limiting yourself, you are closing your mind to anything new about that moment.
You want to go into it looking through eyes wide open, psychological eyes wide open (you want to close your eyes for meditation). Looking, feeling, being present in that memory. Being present and marinating in it, marinating in the emotion you're having, marinating in the thoughts that you've had at that moment, but not becoming identified with it. Because we want to transfer our attention into that moment, but the counter-transference wants to become one with that memory and begin dreaming. So we try to transfer attention inward, but the countertransference is working for attention to become lost into the ego.
Structural and Transactional Analysis
Samael Aun Weor writes that the way to overcome this kind of transference is through transactional and structural analysis. These are two different words which aren't quite defined very well in The Revolution of the Dialectic. So those two words were used in a very popular form of therapy in the 1970's and 80's called Transactional Analysis by a psychiatrist named Eric Berne. He talks about structural analysis in terms of these three major ego states, and this is also mentioned in The Revolution of the Dialectic.
The three major ego states:
- Exteropsychic: These are the identifying states that are intimately related with the exterior perceptions. These are received through the five senses and are connected with the world of impressions.
- Neopsychic: These are the data processing states, in other words, states that properly interpret or misinterpret all the multiple situations that the intellectual animal lives. Our personality works like a bad secretary in these neopsychic states.
- Archeopsychic: These are the regressive states (memory of the ego) that are found in the 49 levels of the subconsciousness. They are the memories of the past that are filed in a photographic and phonographic manner.
So these are quite technical type terms which may be a little confusing.
Archeopsychic is related to those really deep desires and childish ways of behavior. We talked in the beginning of the lecture about the tabula rasa, and how that's not really the case. We actually bring with us a lot of egos from past lives, and those are developing, those are being integrated into our personality as we're growing up. The way that they're integrated is related to our much larger process of our evolution of the soul. The way that those egos are being integrated into our new personality are going to reflect the way that they are in our psyche. So certain egos become more manifested the older we get. Related to our childhood, there will be more ancient egos. When the child is born into the world and they instantly have tendencies to behave in certain ways, anyone who has children or been around children, one is like this, the other is like that, completely different before there has been any parental influence, they have just “always been like that.” We could say that from a scientific standpoint, the genes (DNA) are different. But from a Gnostic perspective the genes are the values related to your past egos, there is a reason why you have those genes. The molecular structures in your cells (DNA) are related with the molecular subtle bodies (what we call lunar bodies), which are meshed with our ego. So archeopsychic is related to infantile or childlike states but also the basic most instinctual desires as well.
Neopsychic is related to new information, neo meaning new. Neopsychic is the best of the three ego states, related to what is going on right now, hopefully, properly interpreting what is going on. So this is the most rational type of state. We might call this, sometimes we talk about bad egos and good egos, and the good ego which seems to do mundane tasks correctly, but it is still asleep, it is still not awake. That is related to the neopsychic state.
Exteropsychic is related to exterior perceptions and how we believe that the world should be. Sometimes it's called the parental state: “I think that the world should be like this, I am going to infantilize you, and I am going to be the parent and tell you all what you need to be like.”
In classical structural analysis, that Dr. Berne developed, he related exteropsychic to this parent state. He related archeopsychic to child, neopsychic to a rational adult, and exteropsychic to this parent state. So what that means is that when you go into structural analysis, if you're looking to work on an event of life, and you're trying to meditate on it and you're trying to go into it, but you are unable to because you're feeling the counter transference… it’s written that to overcome that you should use structural and transactional analysis. The structural analysis would be understanding what state is this ego in, what state am I in, what is this… was I acting like a child? Is that a child like thing… or is that me trying to be a parent and tell people what to do? I'll give you a simple example.
Let's say you're living at home with someone like your roommate or spouse, or a significant other, and you find yourself very aggravated that you're always the one to take the trash out. You're always doing this one type of chore over and over again, right? And because you're finally being aware of yourself, you discover a lot of resentment about this, and maybe there have been arguments about how chores should be dispensed. So, you sit down and meditate, you may first think “I'm completely righteous, I am taking out the trash every single time, I've told the other person multiple times and they say agree and yet they've never done it…” and all these things are running around. That's all counter-transference because you're still feeling the pain, if you are right or wrong or whatever it is, you're not happy right now, and you weren't happy at that moment. You are holding that resentment.
I know this is a simple problem that we're dealing with here but this simple problem is just as important as any other big life problem because this is how we begin to know ourselves. You're not going to start at this humungous problem of what is the meaning of my life or what was I put on the earth for or something. By dealing with these really basic problems that throw us off kilter, that unbalance us, is what is important, is what is here and now. So if you feel that, don't resist it, don't say “that is not spiritual, I don't need to work on that…”, instead thinking you have to work on your relationship with God or becoming more spiritual or something like that… Really, when you work on your own resentment, you are becoming more spiritual. So don't discount that.
So you are sitting in meditation because number one you notice that you have a resentment, you may have been holding that resentments for weeks and you're completely unconscious to it. So you finally you have a moment of mindfulness and you notice it, so you say “Ok, I need to work on this then.” You go into analyze and you may begin to feel that sense of, “I'm looking at this objectively, I'm taking out the trash every week and it is only me and they're just being lazy.” So from this perspective if you were just to go into structural analysis, as is explained here, you would probably see that you're trying to be the parent: “I need the world to be like this, this is what I was taught when I was growing up, that you do your chores.” So you're really having this relationship, that is not a parent-child relationship, it is two adults, but you want to tell the other person what to do, or they're not agreeing to it, the relationship is not set up the way you want it to be. So really when you start to think about it in that perspective, “it may be true that I'm always the one doing it, but really what is causing me the suffering is that the world is not the way that I want it to be.”
At that point you have the choice, relaxing and either accepting the world as it is, or not. That doesn't mean you completely understand that event, it doesn't mean that you completely comprehended that event but it might help you overcome that countertransference. What is written there is not that structural and transactional analysis will completely comprehend your ego, this is a way to help overcome some of this countertransference. It is by what is looking at what is going on and seeing what state your ego is in. This is really quite simple if you were to think about: “was I acting like a child, or very instinctually, was I parentifying myself onto other people, or am I just misinterpreting data." Again that is not going to be enough to completely comprehend your ego but it is a way to at least set yourself up with a structure.
Now from a more general standpoint, forgetting about this, what's the structure of my ego? We talk about in this tradition our personality, our ego, and our essence, and we have this whole tree of life that helps us organize our emotions, our thoughts, our instincts. That's another way to structure. What is the structure of that moment, simply put: “What was I thinking, what was I feeling, what was I doing?” That is another way, just to look at it, so see “Can I break this down? Can I analyze this moment into pieces so I can at least get a grasp at all of this tension and emotion that I am having… that is making it difficult for me to go inward and have peace about this?” Using this perspective, you know your personality is about just the way things have always been, you've been born and grow up in your personality, your personality forms just by what your home life was like, what your nationality is, what your culture is, how you speak, how you dress, just based on the stuff you learned from the outside world, and it is just the way you are, it is just your personality. It is really just a superficial sense of ourselves. Our ego, in terms of our three brains: what am I thinking, what am I feeling, what are my instincts… Again, you can ask yourself these questions as almost like talking to yourself, you can do that just to start, to break it up, it doesn't mean that that is the end point, and in fact if you just left it as an intellectual dialog you wouldn't get far enough. We often talk about meditation and we need to, you know, silence the mind or have the mind go into silence and go deeper. But if you're having such a terrible time that a few structural questions will help you, then do it. That will help you.
So the other half mentioned above is transactional analysis. This is exemplified in some of the scenarios mentioned before, when you were walking by and you saw the nice item in a store, and you instantly think about buying it, or what it would like if you had that: you can analyze the transactions. The basic transaction is “what is going on in the outside world" vs. "what is going on in the inside world". The basic transaction is: I saw something, the impression came in, and something about myself was attracted towards it. That is a very simple transaction right there. Or when you really think about transaction, when a transaction happens economically or in business, each person gets something out of it. So what do I get out of fantasizing or imagining what it would be like to own that nice beautiful thing. What do I get out of it? Because there is a reason why my ego was on one moment about something else, this impression came about this thing in the store and I immediately shifted all of my attention and all of my inner vision and all of my imagination, and it went right into it, without me even doing it consciously. So what did I get out of it, why am I attracted to that? There is something about moment which my ego was attracted to, and something my ego gets out of it. That is what we mean by transactional analysis, that the shift in attention is serving some purpose. So if I am attracted to that object in the window, it is related to owning things… and maybe you would go deeper and you would see that “I enjoy owning that,” because that is something that gives me a sensation. That sensation is so addictive to me or so fascinating or so pleasurable to me because of something else about me. Because there are lots of other people who maybe aren't so influenced by this, whatever this object was, some people are really into technology and need the latest iPhone, some people love shoes, some people have a collection of books, they just have racks and racks of books and they just love their collections of books. What is it about me, which causes this transaction to occur?
You might say that it really comes down to a sensation, really, because the exterior world doesn't actually go into you, the exterior world brings about something out of you that gives you an experience. It is those experiences that we are actually fascinated with. Of course, the most intense types of experiences are related to sex, and those are the ones that can most quickly pull outside of ourselves that type of craving. So all of the advertising, all of the movies and popular culture that is using sex as a way to pull those drives out of us and animate very, very powerful and instinctual aspects of ourselves.
We can see them most clearly with that, but really it is with any impression. It can be any conversation that we are having. In any conversation there is always a dynamic process going on. You may not be aware of it at the moment, but by going to a transactional analysis gives us the basic understanding that – I said at the beginning of the lecture – that we have these different parts of ourselves, and they are interacting within ourselves. This relates to the word “intrapsychic,” meaning, between one structure of my mind and another structure of my mind.
Let us take an example. Often through interacting with others, there are sensations so tempting to experience which cause us to behave in rigid ways. This is usually because it helps be ignore the basic fact of not feeling good about one’s self: “I need to get good compliments because those compliments really help me get through the day. I feel good when lots of people compliment me.” Ok so, if you don't get the compliments you feel bad? That’s a form of slavery. You must ask why you are carrying around this sadness with you. In a certain sense you are getting something out of behaving in such a way, you are carrying around this sadness but you are overcoming it in a certain way by acquiring compliments. This is an example of intrapsychic activity because one part our self (which is sad) is causing another part of our self (which desires happiness) to respond in a more or less mechanical way. But that is of course a very superficial way of living life, there is something much deeper that can be corrected and fixed and that is what we are looking for.
So of course there is the interpsychic, between my mind and another mind. Analyzing how we relate to people is very, very, beneficial. Our relationships, whether it is in our family, a loved one, friends, strangers, a business relationship, they will tell us so much about ourselves, if we are able to remain conscious and be attentive of how such interactions bring out certain elements of ourselves. This is why, for example, we want to be with some people, we really don't want to be with other people who bring out different things within ourself.
We must learn how to take such moments into meditation. To see, “where was I at before I had the interaction,” is a type of structural analysis. To ask, “What was going on in between us, we had this interaction… and then the impression of that interaction came into me, which caused an additional cascade of interactions within myself as well.” It gets difficult to provide more and more concrete examples because what is going on in our mind is so complicated. The basic premise is that something is going on, that there is a dynamic going on within our mind.
In a classical sense transference is when a client transfers values unto a therapist. If the therapist is sitting in a room and the client starts acting like the therapist is their mom or dad or something like that, because obviously this person is telling you about their life and the therapist is hopefully giving some helpful advice, there is usually often a powerful transference going on. Freud saw this and felt that, actually what is going on here is something we can leverage for therapeutic change, because something about their unconsciousness is being exposed, that is presenting itself through this process. So a good therapist is able to analyze how and why that transference is occurring. The patient doesn't realize that they are doing that, they don't realize that they are acting like that.
This occurs daily in ordinary life. If really just don’t like someone the first time you meet someone, that might not have anything to do with them, it has to do with your transference onto them, because your unconsciousness is saying “they remind me of someone else.” Countertransference is the opposite, it is when the therapist is unable to do their job, because they have an emotional reaction they are unconsciously putting onto the patient. So in classical psychoanalysis it is countertransference that really limits the ability of a therapist to do their job.
Therefore with inner-psychoanalysis, if we use the analogy, we must speak of introspective transference and countertransference. Countertransference is when the therapist, or we could say the consciousness, becomes identified with the subject of analysis (which is their self). You're going into meditation instead of actually being able to keep your attention inward into it, because of fascination, instead of meditating we just fall asleep.
Gnostic Method of Psychoanalysis
Let us know talk about a Gnostic method of psychoanalysis: we are the subject of analysis but we are also the analyzer, and when we are sitting there in meditation we are both aspects of ourselves, active at the same time. So we are both the object and the subject observing it. But we need to be very careful, it is a very delicate balance between – on the one hand – sitting in meditation and falling asleep, because we couldn't keep any attention separate from our ego. Then there is the opposite, where a person sits down and they don't have any connection to their ongoing mental activity; they almost divide themselves. We talk about the subject and the object and we need to observe the ego, so there is this observer (the object) observing the subject, but really that's just all of us, right there, in the same mind.
So really it's a division of attention, not a division of ego, it's learning how to place attention without becoming lost in it. You may be able to conceptualize that as subject and object, but sometimes there is a danger of splitting ourselves into two halves, the “bad I” and the “good I.” The “bad self” and the “good self.” When you do that, you're evading yourself; you are evading what you really need to work on. Sometimes we have an (erroneous) idea that the material, animal, I or self, versus a divine self that we have, that the divine self is what we need to become. That is a dangerous concept because what that divinity is, or what that numinous presence is, is nothing to do with our experience of self, it is nothing to do with our experience of ego. It transcends all of that, so if we become too comfortable in thinking of the object and the subject, we may start to believe that we have this transcendent version of self, we become full of a subtle mystical pride.
So we talk about a methodology with three parts to it: discovery, judgment and execution. We have talked about discovery: you notice, you become mindful, and you start to notice when you’re behaving in a way that is not good. How do you know that you are not behaving in a good way? Well number one you have the morals and values that you are raised with, that the culture has, sometimes that is a way to understand that, like I shouldn't have lied, I shouldn’t have stolen... all of these very basic things. But really it comes down to looking into yourself and becoming in contact with your emotion, with your of inner judgment, which tells you “that was a bad thing that I did.” Even if everyone outside of us thinks that it was a good thing. Or “that it was a good thing that I did,” even if everyone outside thought it was a bad thing. That takes effort and skill to develop your inner judgment, but when you begin to observe yourself you begin to see the bigger consequence of how you behave. You begin to see how your activities, your behaviors, cause suffering, not just for yourself but for the other people in life, and the people that we cause to suffer the most are the people who we love the most.
So we discover something, soon as we discover it, now we can work with it. Judgment or comprehension: that is the sitting down, that is the analyzing of it. There are different levels of that, like I said, the structural and the transactional analysis is one level. You can develop a quite a bit staying at that level but it's really not enough. You need to learn how to, if necessary use that, but abandon it at some point as well, because at some point you need to develop that attention to go more deeply into that void of yourself, that subconsciousness, and it begins to reveal itself to you, because you have attention on it, you are able to transfer your attention inwardly.
Sometimes those who are struggling will say “I'm not good at meditating.” Anyone who hasn't meditated before, well that may be true, but anyone who is learning how to meditate went through a process of learning. It's not that some people are born and all of the sudden they learned how to meditate. Everyone has to go through that process. When you're learning how to meditate, having that discipline, you begin to notice as you're attempting to become attentive, or to become conscious or mindful, there are elements within yourself, mental formations, these samskaras, these kleshas, these aggregates that we are talking about, that are pulling your attention away which are causing you to start thinking about stuff. What you must do is place your attention back inwardly again. And then something is going to pull you away, and you place your attention back inwardly again, every time you are doing this, you are gathering a little more attention. It doesn't happen one time. When you're training a donkey, when you are training a dog or something, you have to repeat the motion, again and again, and it's not a coincidence that in the east they talk about the crazy monkey mind, or they relate the mind to the stubborn mule, or elephant, and they have to pull with this gentle, consistent force, to get that animal to do what it needs to do. That is the same symbol of Jesus running into Palm Sunday with a horse or a colt that he was able to tame that aspect, and we do this with gentle consistent discipline, because if you use a force you are actually causing disruption in your mind; if you are using too much disruption, if you're trying to yell at your mind to be quiet, or to force your mind to be quiet, what you are really doing is separating yourself and locking yourself in superficial quietness. So use a gentle discipline to bring your attention back, to bring your attention back, to bring your attention back, every time you do that you are accumulating that attention. But then there is also an ability to shift, because when you have cultivated a certain level of mental equipoise, when you've cultivated a certain level of attention, it's like focusing that flashlight so it's more intense, and you are able to see deeper into the darkness.
When you become somewhat competent in meditation, you are able to notice when you have more mental equipoise, and now you can make a shift, and you can place something as your object of meditation. So one thing is just open expansive awareness and bringing your attention back, bringing your attention back and practicing pratyahara. However, when you go deeper because you have accumulated that attention, you can intentionally bring something into your meditation practice, that event for example that you want to meditate on… or it could be anything, it could be that next thought that comes, because that thought really surprised you, and now you can go into that thought with a force, an energy that you simply didn't have before, because you cultivated your state of mind.
Whether you are good at this cultivation, or you're a beginner, you work at the level you are at, because even if you practice and all you do is bring your attention back one hundred times, that is a good practice. It's not a good practice if you fall asleep in five minutes and then forty minutes later you wake up. That's not really a good practice, but if you for forty minutes bring your attention back, and bring it back, and bring it back… that's a good practice. That is a very good practice.
You cultivate mental equipoise in order to be able to go into your ego, and this is the difference between some other schools that they have a very good practice of vipassana (insight) or mental equipoise, but they do not necessarily teach how to go into the ego. They don't teach a practical way to look at your practical daily life problems and go into it. They might even say “well we are looking to develop the comprehension of the ultimate reality of mind, the ultimate reality of space.” And of course you may get some of that, but they're missing this practical daily life aspect, because in a lot of these traditions are related to an age when you wanted to learn how to meditate you shaved your head, you put on robes and you lived in a monastery or a cave. That was it, that was the way when you went into these traditions, and this world is different than living in a monastery. And if we want to develop best, and as quickly as possible – not with pride but, quickly because we're suffering – then we need to work on practical things. We can also meditate on the absolute, and that is also good, we do that as well, but, we need to work on very practical things. Many times, when you work on these very practical problems, because you develop that mental equipoise, and you are able to go into it, and suddenly you see something, you have a flash, you have an insight that takes you to the ultimate reality of that moment. In that moment you see the ultimate reality.
So you get a comprehension or you find judgment at the level that you've reached, because the comprehension can go deeper and deeper. But if you've reached a certain level of comprehension then you have this third aspect we call execution or elimination. This is where we diverge very radically from any western psychological or psychotherapeutic concept. In any type of psychotherapy, the goal is not to eliminate the ego. Instead the goal is just to have less conflict in life, to just organize your ego so that you do not have so many problems.
That is certainly beneficial, but it is not the same goal that we have. We're looking to comprehend those aspects of our psyche which were formed through improper actions, improper behaviors. That is what we call the ego, the aggregates. Those aggregates form through improper behavior and it is only through comprehension that we can eliminate them. But the elimination or execution of them can't happen with just our self in this mind. It requires the divine mother Kundalini, which is the divine mother, she is that aspect is related to our sexual energy. You can see here on the psychological mythology slide, Perseus has the head of Medusa, but there's a woman with a long spear as well: it is Athena. Athena is the Divine Mother in this mythology, and it was only because the divine mother gave the weapons to Perseus, gave the shield and armor, that he was able to do that job. So you will find the divine mother, the divine Goddess, with many different names throughout any authentic religion or tradition, and this divine mother gives birth, it is the divine mother that causes death as well. She is connected there, in that aspect.
So it is by appealing to our divine mother after we have achieved comprehension that we can achieve true fundamental change. We have many different practices related to sexual super dynamics (that is just another way of talking about sexual transmutation), such as we have pranayama, different mantras, that work with our sex drive or libido in a positive way. This is another aspect of Freud’s theory that we should mention. Freud said that everything is basically based on sex, and in a certain way he is right. The way that he specifically formulates it all is not necessarily what we agree with. Sex is indeed the fundamental drive of the human being; the difference is that Freud only saw sex as an animalistic behavior, because Freud only saw us as material animals. From a mystical standpoint, sex is the route of our spirituality; it is through sexuality, through the transformation of that energy, that we develop spiritual connection. That is to say that sexual energy and spiritual energy, they're the same thing in essence. Raw sexual drive is transmuted into spiritual experience.
So we teach ways to work with that. The sexual energy is a drive that anybody can relate to. It's always there, there is a sexual drive, and it can overcome any emotion that you have, any thoughts that you have, of who you want to be or what you want to do. Sexual urges just arrive into our psyche and fascinate us, and drives us to do things that we might not otherwise have done. It is also the most powerful type of energy that we have, and it is also really the root of creativity. The Creator, if you want to view it in that sense, from a western sense, the Creator created the whole world, with what? The creative energy. We mimic that creative potential through sex. In other words, let us synthesize this: sex is the power the soul.
Meditation is our discipline but we have to also learn how to leverage that sexual drive. We can't ignore sex. In a modern sense, we have a lot of popular, so called spiritual movements, ways of thinking about the world that are thought to be more spiritual, but often a very clear line exists between wanting to be spiritual, and wanting to appease our sexual appetite. There is a very clear line (or message) in such groups, that yes we want to be spiritual, but don’t touch anything about my sexual desires. And that is foolhardy, that is not going to work, because the route, the power, the driving force of who we are as a person is there, and it is very seductive to believe that you don't have to do anything with that part of your life, but in reality sex is where everything originates from. Therefore it is imperative that we transmute our sexual energy to empower our practice of gnostic psychoanalysis.