This is a transcription of a lecture originally given live and unscripted on Gnostic Radio. Download the audio lecture here.
Heaven, hell and liberation are three fundamental terms that are used often in most every religion. In Gnosis, we use these words differently then you might have encountered in the past.
When we begin to study Gnosis, we carry with us the assumptions and definitions that we acquired previously. When we begin to study Gnosis and try to comprehend what Gnosis is, we have to go through a process of conceptual revision. This is related with the third state of consciousness, and is a process through which we review, revise, or renew the concepts in our psyche.
Without this essential review, our understanding of the path can remain mistaken about fundamental aspects. So, to understand what heaven, hell, and liberation really are, we have to review our concepts of them, and test them, to make sure that the way we understand them refers to facts, based in experiential reality, something that we ourselves have tasted or know, not just a belief, not just something that we have as a theory, or an idea, but something we have experienced. This is the starting point of Gnosis. The word Gnosis refers to knowledge that we have derived from our own experience. And so, we need to analyze the concepts we have in our psyche about heaven, hell, and liberation, and test those concepts.
In order to do this sort of conceptual revision, we need to understand two facts.
The first fact we need to know is that we have a consciousness, and consciousness is not intellect or thought, nor is consciousness feeling or sensation. This distinction is very important and to understand this requires practical experience. To merely hear the idea or to study the theory of the consciousness is insufficient. The mere theory cannot show you directly in your experience what the consciousness actually is, in you. So, in Gnosis, we spend a lot of time in the lectures focusing on the consciousness, trying to point out and indicate clues that can help you discover what the consciousness is, in you.
This discovery cannot happen in a passive way or by accident. It can only happen when you actively search for it, and having found your consciousness, you actively work with it.
When you enter into the active work of maintaining the presence and activity of the consciousness from moment to moment, then you are working with the third state of consciousness. It is in the third state of consciousness where genuine, conscious conceptual revision can occur.
The third state of consciousness is called in Greek dianoia. This refers to an active state of self-observation; some people call it mindfulness or watchfulness. There are many names that refer to this state of consciousness.
The second fact that we need to know is where we are: to be present in the body. To be here and now. This is to begin to remember ourselves.
You see, these two facts relate to each other, but oftentimes we fail to work with both at the same time. Sometimes we may be trying to observe ourselves, or work with the consciousness, but forget that we are here in the body, and so we start to drift into distraction, even in this state that we would call “observation.”
This is why we separate self-observation from self-remembering; they are two functions of consciousness that are related, but distinct from each other.
The remembrance of being present in the body roots us and grounds us, to work where we need to work, which is where we are now. Not where we were, or where we want to be, but where we are.
We need to remember that we are here in the physical body. In the Tree of Life, this is symbolized by the sephirah Malkuth, which is a Hebrew word that means kingdom. In other words, we need to be conscious in our kingdom, in conscious control of our kingdom. We need to be the king or queen who rules that kingdom.
When we look to the Tree of Life, we see that Malkuth is the lowest of the ten primary spheres. But, when we also consider the inferior worlds, we see that Malkuth is directly between the superior worlds (heaven) and the inferior ones (hell). This is where we are. This is why in the book of Jeremiah, it says,
Behold, I set before you the way of life, and the way of death. - Jeremiah 21:8
Those doorways are here in this moment, right now. They are not theoretical. They are not just ideas, or something to believe in or contemplate as something abstract. They exist, and we continually work through the door towards life or the door towards death in accordance with how we use our consciousness from moment to moment.
This present moment is the opportunity to choose the door we want: to heaven or to hell. That choice is not made in the mind (intellect), but by how we use our consciousness and energy.
In Gnosis, we do not rely on theory. We are not interested in debate. We do not care for comparisons or dialogue of mere intellectualism or dogma. We have no interest in this at all. Gnosis is a practical science. Meaning, it is something that we want to practice from moment to moment. Gnosis is something that we apply in order to arrive at our own experience of the facts.
It is only by knowing the facts that real change can occur. This is what we want: we want change, real change. Not just a change of ideas, not just a change of beliefs, but a change of our experience of life, from moment to moment.
This sort of change cannot emerge merely by changing our beliefs. It cannot emerge merely by studying a new idea. Anyone of us can demonstrate this fact for ourselves. All of us have had the experience of going through phases of life where we have discovered a new theory or a new belief, maybe a new religion, and become very enthusiastic and adopted that theory or belief and called it our own. And yet, after some time, we found that no real change occurred, and that our fundamental problems remained the same; we continue to suffer, we have uncertainty, we have doubt, we have questions that have not been answered, like, “Why am I here?” Changing beliefs and theories is similar to the clouds changing in the sky. Only the appearances change.
We are not interested in vague, theoretical questions that have no practical bearing on life, such as, “When did life begin?” “Where did God come from?” These things are not important right now. Maybe by the time we are self-realized we will need to know those things. This is why Buddha Shakyamuni refused to answer these types of questions. He was approached many times by philosophers, Brahmins, and yogis, who wanted to ask him these sorts of questions, but he remained silent. This is because the teaching of the Buddha, like the teaching of Samael, is a teaching of practical importance. These great teachers understood that it makes no difference whether we believe God exists or does not exist, or whether the Big Bang is true or false. It makes no difference, either way, because we still suffer in the same way, not knowing who we are, why we are here, or where we are going. These are really important questions to answer, and it is possible to answer them.
We go through a period of life, usually when we are young, where these questions burn us, and we need to know the answers. So, we study religion or philosophy, but as many beliefs and theories as we find (all of which contradict each other), those questions are never answered. Eventually, we may settle into accepting one belief or theory, and yet, hidden inside of us, even though we never admit to our companions in that religion or theory, those questions remain unanswered. In the back of our mind is this doubt and fear, “What if this religion is wrong? What if this teaching is not true?” We are questioning it because we do not have conscious experience of the truth.
In Gnosis, we are not interested in providing you with another theory or belief that you can adopt and accept. The Buddha was not interested in that, nor was Jesus or Krishna. That is why they stated that you have to test this teaching for yourself. You have to do it yourself, otherwise there is no point.
We initiate the possibility of answering these questions by remembering that we are a consciousness, by activating the consciousness, and by being present here and now, continually, in our physical body. That is, the consciousness needs to be active and awake. If the consciousness is not awake, we can never answer these questions. Why is that? It is because the consciousness is our true reality. It is our connection with our root, our source. If we want to know where we came from, or who we are, we have to look into the source.
The root and source of our identity is not our personality. Our source is not in our terrestrial life, our parents, our country, or our language. It is not found in anything we have gathered or gained here in the physical world.
The consciousness is eternal. The consciousness does not die. Within it, is our true patrimony, our inheritance from the divine. Within our consciousness is where we find the real information about who we are.
When we look at the Tree of Life, the Kabbalah, we can see where the consciousness comes from. Our physical body is represented by Malkuth, but the consciousness descends into us from our Monad, which is the second triangle on the Tree of Life, the sephiroth Chesed, Geburah, and Tiphereth.
The consciousness belongs to the Monad, and trickles down through the layers of matter and energy in order to become the active ingredient in the physical world. The consciousness should be the active ingredient, but unfortunately, we have not learned how to use it, and so it remains latent, asleep, passive. What is active in us is our personality, beliefs, theories: a false sense of self. Instead of having our consciousness awake and active, we all have created a sense of self that is illusion, Maya; it is not real. We think it is real, but it is not. We think we are awake, but we are not.
When we activate the consciousness, when we learn to it from moment to moment, we energize our connection to our Monad: our Inner Father, our Inner God, the Spirit. In Hindu terms, we would say Atman. In Buddhist terms, we would say Yidam. This is the Inner Divinity that represents our true nature, and which we should become.
If that conduit is not open and active, then we remain disconnected from our own Inner Divinity. This is why it is so common for us to feel a vacuum in our chest, a black emptiness in our heart that is so painful. It is like a vacuum, something that longs to be filled, but nothing in material life can fill it. We try to fill it with a career, a family, religion, money, sex, drugs, music, but that vacuum in the heart can only be filled by the presence of our Innermost.
When our Innermost fills our heart, then we taste what heaven is.
You see, heaven is a place, but we are not there. To enter heaven, our consciousness has to vibrate with that level of nature, it has to be connected.
Looking again at the Kabbalah, the physical world is Malkuth, the third dimension, and upwards along the tree, we see an ascending scale or octave; every time we move up a note (a sephirah), things become less dense, more subtle, more pure, more beautiful, more real. When we look at the level of our Innermost, this is the sixth dimension, related with Nirvana, heaven.
Above Malkuth, we see nine circles (sephiroth), and these nine circles are grouped in dimensions, according to their relative degree of density. We always hear about nine heavens or dimensions, throughout the world, in indigenous religions and mysticism, in the Nordic traditions, even in Dante’s Divine Comedy. Upwards from Malkuth, we find them: levels of more and more subtle matter and energy. These are real places that exist in matter and in energy. They are places that our prophets and mystics have experienced, and that anyone of us can experience.
Every dimension has a corresponding psychological vibration. The heavens vibrate with elevated psychological qualities like humility, chastity, diligence, temperance, etc. In Eastern traditions, the term nirvana is used in the same context, but it actually means “cessation from suffering.” So “heaven” is really the absence of suffering.
The hells vibrate with the corresponding values of anger, lust, pride, etc. In Eastern terms the word samsara is used; this implies bondage to conditioned experience, or in other words, the chain of causality induced by wrong action, and characterized by a state of ignorance (avidya) of reality.
Heaven is a term that refers to a range of places and states of being – and we may have already experienced it, maybe through a dream, maybe through being completely awake outside of our body. We may have experienced something so ecstatic, so beautiful, that it is indescribable. That is heaven, Nirvana. It is a level of nature that is inaccessible to the physical senses, but it is accessible to the consciousness, if we know how to use it.
If we activate the consciousness here, and work with it, very persistently, to free it from discursive qualities like anger and pride, then the consciousness becomes the conduit through which we remain connected to our Innermost and then can start to experience the conscious qualities that belong to Nirvana. These qualities are humility, love, patience, activity, chastity, etc. These qualities or virtues are very beautiful. They are superior emotions that we can experience if the consciousness is active.
Unfortunately, we are usually not activating the consciousness in this way. Usually, our consciousness is asleep, and we remain without any awareness of its existence. We even forget that we are in our physical body.
In most cases, we stumble along through life, with chatter constantly rolling along in our mind. We are constantly reacting automatically, unconsciously, to the diverse circumstances of life, over which we have no control. This is why we do not know where we are going. This is why we suffer from so much anxiety and uncertainty.
We do not know what will happen to us, and we have a lot of fear about what will happen. We have a lot of fear because we do not feel anything divine within, and a lot of fear because we do not feel really connected to anyone else. We have a lot of fear because we do not know where we came from, or who we are, or what we are supposed to do with life, or what we are supposed to do today or tomorrow. What is the right thing to do? We do not know, so we guess.
All of that uncertainty, anxiety, and fear is stress, pain, and it becomes doubt, skepticism, and fanaticism. Our fear and our need and longing for security becomes so painful that we try to put a bandage on it, a psychological bandage. This is when we adopt some religion or belief, we join a group or a church, who tells us a lot of beautiful things, that if we believe and follow the rules, we will go to heaven. If we just agree with “this and that,” and we give a certain amount of money, or we give a certain amount of time, or we wear the right clothes, or we go and try to evangelize other people to join - whatever the steps may be - those things will guarantee our entrance into heaven. Because our fear is so strong, and our uncertainty and our lack of knowledge is so huge, we grasp onto these religions, ideas and beliefs. Yet, it is all just a way of avoiding the true nature of our situation.
Sadly, this happens in the Gnostic tradition as well. Many people make Gnosis into just another dogma, just another system to shore up their collapsing sense of self. Because really, that is what is happening.
When someone becomes attached to any group - whether it is political, religious, musical, scientific, educational, etc. - or any theory or doctrine, including so-called atheism, that person becomes very fanatical and blind, because they are relying on that attachment to provide a sense of psychological security. They cannot admit that their sense of self is inadequate; their sense of who they are is so weak and fragile that they try to armor themselves with membership, belief, or theory.
Do not think it is other people who do this: we all do it. We all dress ourselves in our minds with psychological clothes, like group membership, ideas, beliefs, beautiful statements, associations with certain people, with country, family, in order to project an image of who we are, because we feel that by projecting that image, we make it real. We believe that if other people see us that way, we will see ourselves that way, and that is really what we want.
In our minds, we are constantly trying to change our perceptions of what is happening, in order to make ourselves feel better. We are also trying to change how others see us, to make them see us the way we want them to see us. All of this is deception.
We want others to confirm what we mistakenly believe about ourselves. We want others to see us as we want to see ourselves. We want to be seen as successful, virtuous, admirable. We want to be seen as well-dressed, well-spoken, well-educated, or with the “inside track” to enlightenment or liberation. We want others to see us as having the secret clue to success in life. We want others to see us as humble, as a Master, as a prophet. Or simply, sometimes, to see us with envy. It is true: we want others to want to be like us; we want others to want what we have, and this is why we show what we think we have. So that other say, “Oh I want that too, I want to be like her, I want to be like him. I wish I was that good looking. I wish I was that on top of it. I wish I was that strong and together.”
We all project such images in our mind and try to project them around us, but it is all a lie. It is not sincere; it is not genuine. It is 100% false personality. It has nothing to do with the facts.
We dress ourselves with lies because we do not see ourselves as we truly are. We want to see ourselves as we are not. We cannot face the facts of who we are, and what we have becomes.
Because of our ancient habit of trying to act like something we are not, the moment we encounter what we have become, we run away. When something happens in life that shows who we truly are inside, we justify ourselves, saying “That is not me,” we hide the facts, we do everything we can to avoid seeing what lurks inside of us.
This is why most people leave Gnosis. Yes, most people abandon this teaching soon after they find it. Gnosis means real knowledge. We run away from the mirror that will show us our face. Our psychological face is grotesque.
Samael Aun Weor repeated many times that if we could see ourselves in a full length mirror as we truly are right now, we would go mad. This is true.
People who become serious about studying themselves and using the keys that Gnosis provides, arrive soon at that vision. That vision is called “the guardian of the threshold.” In that vision we see what we really are, psychologically. It is not the humble, sweet, generous, kind, patient person that we like to imagine that we are. This vision is symbolized in a several books, such as “Frankenstein.” Frankenstein contains glimmers of initiatic knowledge. Frankenstein is created from dead things, illuminated by a diabolical intellect, the mind of a criminal, a liar, a deceiver, Satan. Frankenstein represents is what we are inside, but we do not want to face it. Another book that illustrates this is “The Picture of Dorian Gray” by Oscar Wilde, in which, Dorian Gray has a mirror that helps him to hide his true nature, and helps him to project a false image of himself. This is the false personality.
We can test this for ourselves, to see if it is true. But to do that, we have to remember those two facts I mentioned at the beginning:
- to remember that we have a consciousness, and to activate it from moment to moment by consciously observing everything inside and outside
- to remember that we are here in the body: to be present in the moment, here and now
After some practice with using the consciousness in this way, we put ourselves in the position to be able to observe of what actually happens in our psyche, from moment to moment. In other words, we start to separate the consciousness from the personality.
Rather than have the personality be so actively projecting a false image, we make that personality passive. We make the consciousness active, which is watchful, observant. The consciousness should not be projecting, but receiving. We should not be pushing images out, and trying to manipulate our inner and outer environment to have a given appearance, but to instead, we should be observing WHAT IS, and perceiving our inner and outer environment AS THEY ARE. We have to learn how to see without changing anything of what we see. We have to learn to see all phenomena as they truly are.
When we arrive to that skill of seeing things are they truly are - because it is a skill - then we start to see the facts of who we really are. Until we do this, we cannot see ourselves, because our personality will not let us. It is not in its nature, it is not built for that.
Only the consciousness can show us who we really are. This is a very important point, because our personality will interfere unless we learn to be aware of it. Some of us have a personality built on pride, that likes to project a beautiful image inside and outside; we like to see ourselves as strong, capable, a savior, etc. As an example, soon after reading any book or theory, we truly believe we fully understand it and can teach others. Sometimes, we don’t even have to read the book. We see ourselves as the humblest one, or the hardest worker. We truly believe we are as good as we can be. Yet, all of this is a flimsy image we project in order to prevent ourselves and others from seeing what we really are inside.
Some of us have a personality built upon shame; we tends towards self-deprecation, and our personality likes to beat up on ourselves. In other words, we project to ourselves and to others the image of a martyr. We like to project the image of the suffering one, the one who no one understands, the one who has been betrayed and wronged time and time again. We see ourselves a someone who never had a chance or opportunity, because it was always denied us. Many of us have that kind of personality, and we beat on ourselves, and have a lot of self-pity.
There are billions of varieties of personalities, each constructed from the experiences we have had in life. And, in order to see ourselves as we truly are, our personality has to become passive. In other words, we have to stop thinking that we are such and such a person with a certain name, that we are from a certain place, that we have a certain education, or that we have certain qualities or skills: we have to forget all of that stuff, and learn to see things (inside and outside) without any filter at all.
Until we see exactly what our own personality is, our vision will be filtered, inaccurate, and obscured. It is essential that we learn to perceive without any filter at all, to learn to perceive without glasses, without mirrors, without refraction or reflection, but to see purely. That is: we need to see things as they are, without trying to change them, modify them, explain them, rationalize them, etc.
Only the consciousness can see reality.
Every ego is a filter. Lust sees everything lustfully. Pride sees everything as it wants to see it. Envy only sees what it wants. Fear only sees what it wants. Every ego, every defect, only sees what it wants to see.
The personality is a filter. If we have a personality based in conservative politics, we will interpret everything we see according to conservative politics. If we have a personality based in African culture, we will interpret everything we see according to African culture. Etc, etc.
Every psychological construct is a filter. Belief is a filter. Theory is a filter. Our country, name, history, family, religion, belief, political groups, etc....... These are all filters in our minds that manipulate how we see. We blind ourselves.
When we develop the skill to see ourselves as we really are, to observe our kingdom as it actually exists from moment to moment, this is a disturbing experience. Always. It is not pleasant. I warn you of this now, because seeing ourselves as we truly are is symbolized in many mythologies as the descent into hell. This is what The Divine Comedy is all about. This is what the descent of heroes into hell is all about.
We have to see what we are on the hidden side of things, the side we have never shown ourselves and never shown anyone else.
By observing ourselves here and now, and seeing how we are in our inner relationships with others, we start to see that we do not really have the qualities that we like to tell ourselves we have. We like to believe we are humble or patient, very giving, very concerned about other people, very virtuous in this way or that way. But, when we really start to watch what is really in our psyche, we start to see that it is all a lie that we tell ourselves, and that we like to tell others, and that the reality is, from moment to moment, we are completely self-absorbed, completely self-identified, we are narcissists, fascinated with our own false image.
We are hypnotized. We are asleep. We are dreaming. We are dreaming a dream that does not exist.
Through conscious observation of ourselves, we see for example in a conversation with a loved one, that on the surface we act very patient or very loving, whilst inside, we are actually very irritated. This is insincere. We are lying to ourselves and to our loved one.
Or, on the outside when we are talking with our boss, we act very friendly, humble, subservient, and agreeable, but inside, we are hateful, resentful, angry, and proud.
Or, we go to church or participate in a spiritual group, and on the outside we act very sweet, humble, agreeable, and spiritual, but inside we are lusting after others, or raging with anger, or filled with doubts and skepticism.
The perception of these inner contradictions shocks many people into leaving these teachings. This is the number one reason most people leave this kind of teaching, even if, in many cases, they are unaware of it; usually people look for excuses or justifications for leaving, just as they do in their minds, while the real reason is the avoidance of the truth. They cannot face the facts of who they really are. So, I am preparing you for that. If you start to seriously work on awakening your consciousness according to the methods we teach, and you have not had the experience of being truly shocked by what you see in yourself, you will eventually. Be ready, because it is not easy.
When we start to see contradictions in our behavior and in the contents of our psyche, then we start seeing where we really are in life. When we investigate religion or philosophy, this is what we want, right? We want knowledge, we want to know who we really are, but when it comes down to the facts, we actually do not want to see it. It is up to us to have the courage and persistence to see the facts for what they are. In other words, it is up to us to allow ourselves to see how insincere we are, and how contradictory.
Be honest with yourself. Let yourself see the facts. It is not easy to see when we thought we were humble, but we were actually really arrogant. We thought we were being very loving and sweet, we were being very selfish. There are too many examples to name, and everyone one of us will have our own flavor; this is why we have to find it ourselves. It is impossible to write a detailed guide of, “Look for this ego acting like this.” This is impossible. It would be trying to catalogue every atom that exists; you cannot.
Inside, every one of us has a huge catalog of behaviors that are unique to us. My behaviors function according to how I made them, and will be very different from yours. My pride has characteristics and qualities that only I can recognize and understand, because I made them. Likewise, you have your own. I cannot tell you how your pride will be. You have to discover it.
We each have our own psychological kingdom, but we do not know what is in it. This is what we have to learn: what is in our kingdom? What constitutes our kingdom? Who is in charge of our kingdom? Who sits on the throne? There should be a divine king there: our Innermost, the Magician, the Magi, the king, who should be sitting on that throne, related to the pineal gland, related to the heart, who guides the kingdom according to divine will, divine Law, harmony with the universe, Tao. But, unfortunately, when we sincerely begin to analyze how we behave, we start to see that nobody in the kingdom is listening to the real king. Everybody in the kingdom is listening to a false king, and from circumstances to circumstance, there is a different king on the throne. Sometimes, we follow the commands of King Fear, sometimes, King Envy. Sometimes, we listen to the advice of King Lust, and other times to King Laziness. But since these false kings only want to satisfy themselves, our kingdom is being depleted of wealth, and is becoming more and more in danger of complete failure. We need to restore the rightful king.
To restore the rightful king in our psychological kingdom, we need to know how to recognize him. That is, we need to see clearly who we are dealing with inside. We need to see the face of our psychological state. We can only see that face, if we are strong enough to look in the mirror and clean it. That mirror is the consciousness, which will reflect the contents of our psyche, if we clean it and use it.
For the mirror of consciousness to perfectly reflect reality, it has to be cleaned and polished. Self-observation and self-remembering helps; when we activate our consciousness in this way, we began to “shake the dust off.” But we cannot really clean and polish our psychological mirror through mere self-observation. We polish our inner psychological mirror through meditation.
Meditation is a state of consciousness in which the consciousness is fully awake, bright and alert, perceptive and without filters. Meditation is a natural state of cognizant perception. Meditation is the heart and soul of liberation.
Meditation is the pure unobstructed perception of the consciousness. When the consciousness is fully awake and free of all conditioning and filters, it sees reality. This is the pure form of meditation, without any artifice at all.
Real meditation is pure, unfiltered perception.
Here is a concept that needs to be revised: we have this image that meditation is defined by sitting in lotus posture, with our fingers curled up in a certain way. This is a lie. This is just advertising and marketing, and it is a lie. Meditation has nothing to do with the body. Meditation is a state of consciousness, not a physical posture.
The true meditator is meditating in every instant of life, without stopping, in every activity. Real meditation is an activity of consciousness, not the body. Meditation is not a belief. Meditation is not thought. Meditation is not mantra. Meditation is not breathing. Meditation is not imagining or fantasizing.
This is why we repeat again, again, and again: true meditation is beyond the body, beyond feelings, beyond thoughts. Meditation is an activity of consciousness. Pure perception. To understand this, you have to experience it. When this is understood through our own experience, then we have understood something very, very important, something so precious, it is worth more than any possession you can ever acquire in the physical world. It is worth more than diamonds and gold, because that function of consciousness is the doorway to heaven, to doorway to Nirvana, the doorway to liberation.
When we begin to really perceive our contradictions, and we start to see the submerged tendencies in our mind - tendencies like anger, pride, lust, envy - when we start to see that these qualities are really in us, and that they filter our experience, that they make us suffer, then naturally, we want to change that, and we need to change that.
The first step is that we have to see them. When we observe and remember ourselves, and are active as a consciousness, we then start to see how we suffer. Once we start seeing how we suffer, we start longing for a cure, to want to change that suffering. So the first thing is, we have to see it. If we do not even see our illness, the disease that is killing us, we cannot cure it. We have to see it first. We have to diagnose it.
The disease that makes us suffer is called hell, the ego, the seven capital sins, Samskaras, klipoth, pride, lust, envy, gluttony, jealousy, anger, hatred, greed… There are many names for these cages that trap our consciousness, and keep us in so much pain.
When we really start to observe the facts of our existence, we start to see that we already live in hell. Psychologically, we are in hell. Spiritually, we are in hell.
What is the usual definition of hell? Suffering. In every religion throughout the world, hell is suffering; sometimes it is suffering by fire, sometimes it is suffering by ice. Sometimes it is symbolized by demons persecuting the soul. Who are those demons? They are inside of us. Who persecutes us during the day? Our own anger, our own desire, our own jealousy, our own discontentment. We long to have a nice new car, but we can’t afford it, and we feel pain because of that; we “burn” with desire. We long for more money, but we cannot get it, so we feel pain. We long to be healthy, but cannot be, because we have Karma. We long to be respected, but we are not, and we suffer.
All the sufferings that we experience emerge from inside of us, not outside. When someone says a bad thing to us, a critical thing, a hurtful thing, it is not the person that hurt us, and it is not the words that hurt us, it is our interpretation that hurts us. If your little child says “I hate you,” or “You’re stupid”, you smile. It does not hurt you. But if your friend says the same words, or your spouse says them, you become hurt, injured, furious. Why? The words are the same. The only difference is how you interpret them. The words only have the value you place on them. The hell of that furious anger or pain is self-produced.
Just the same, any discursive emotion, any disturbing feeling, emerges inside, not outside. This means that hell is inside of you, not outside of you.
At the same time, we can probably find moments in our life where we experienced something so beautiful, so subtle, so indescribable, that we remember it and long for it to return. It may be something that cannot even put into words, like a sunset or a memory from childhood where you were just running in a field, and you felt the pure, simple happiness of innocence. Or it may be the moment that you truly gave from your heart to someone else, and they were so grateful, and it was so sincere, that it moved your very soul. You see, that experience, that feeling, came from inside. That feeling is a taste of Nirvana, heaven.
Heaven and hell, Samsara and Nirvana, are psychological. They emerge from inside of us.
Do we want to enter heaven? Do we want out of hell? Of course, we all do. None of us want to suffer. We all want to be happy. We all want to be liberated from pain. The problem is, we have the idea that liberation will only happen after death, or after we have made enough promises to our church or temple, or done enough prayers, or been through enough rituals, or given them enough money, or jumped over enough bars, or been through enough hoops, that the leader says, “Ok, I bless you, you’re going to Heaven now.” That is not the entrance to heaven. How could it be? Heaven is inside of you. How can someone outside of you open a door that is inside of you? Only you can open it.
Heaven is not outside of you, and no one outside of you holds the keys to heaven. No person, Church, religion, book, theory, Master, or teacher can open that door. The door is in yourself, and the door is through your own action. Through your own actions you open the door to heaven or to hell. It is up to you, in each moment.
Then, as you sustain your use of the door and change the contents of your psychological kingdom, you also change the trajectory of your life.
Sustained action projects energy in a given direction. If your actions are continually driven by lust or frustration, those qualities will grow and envelop you more and more, until you are submerged completely within them. After death, you remain on that path: if you are in hell now, you will be in hell later, too, unless you make a radical change.
Similarly, if your actions are continually driven by conscious values like humility, chastity, patience, and loving kindness, then the course of your life will unfold under their influence, bringing their natural results: heaven, nirvana.
What are the strongest influences in your mind and heart? They determine where you are and where you will go.
Abandon harmful action, adopt virtuous action, tame your mind. This is the teaching of the Buddha.
To enter heaven, you do not have to believe anyone, follow anyone, or pay anyone. You only have to change how you behave, and you can only change that when you see how you behave. You cannot change what you cannot see.
Also, if you experience pain, anxiety, or fear, or if you are suffering psychologically in any way, you cannot change that by changing external factors. Remember: our happiness or sadness is inside. It is determined by our state of consciousness.
Unfortunately, all of us try to sooth our suffering by demanding change in our circumstances. When someone irritates us, we avoid them or criticize them. When we feel lonely, we seek someone or something outside to sooth that feeling. When we feel unfulfilled, we try a different job, a different spouse, a different religion, a different city, a different country... We are always trying to change the external things in an effort to fix the internal problems. But real change does not work like that.
If you want to untie a knot, first you have to see how it was tied. - Buddha Shakyamuni
We need to look into the knot in our heart, the knot in our mind, the knot which is our own psyche. Then, when we see ourselves at our job or at home, going through the psychological pain of any situation, we can start to analyze through perception: “Where is this pain coming from and why? Why do I react this way? Why do I justify my behavior?”
Every single action, whether physical, emotional, or mental, is a manipulation of energy. Every manipulation of energy produces a result. This is a law of nature. There is not a single level of nature that is free from this law. Even Einstein showed it; energy and matter are transmutable, they can never be destroyed, they can only be changed from one to the other. In other words, your mental energy produces a consequence, sometimes in matter, sometimes in energy, but that energy has an effect, it has a consequence.
When you feel angry, look at yourself: what are the consequences of that anger? The first one you taste immediately; anger is painful. Anger is a form of suffering.
So is pride. Do you ever wonder why you feel separate from others? It is because of pride. We inflate our sense of self, and we become self-identified, thus we ourselves produce the separation from others, as seeing ourselves as better, or different. That is self-imposed pain.
So is anger. Anger wants others to suffer, because we have suffered. Anger wants revenge, vengeance, recognition, payback – that is all selfish, and it can only result in pain. Anger can never bring happiness. Ever. It cannot. Anger can only produce suffering.
Lust can never bring happiness, real contentment. We have the idea that lust can bring happiness, and it can bring pleasant sensation, but we do not see that those sensations are a pendulum of energy. The more we push to have pleasant sensations, the more that pendulum swings back to painful ones. This is the eternal law of the pendulum. Craving and aversion are the pendular movement of suffering. We set that in motion continally, so long as we listen to desires.
So, in this way, we have to analyze all of our behavior, looking for cause and effect: the facts. “When I did this and that, then this happened.” We have never done this kind of objective analysis of our psychological states. We have never looked at our own actions honestly, consciously. Instead, when we look at our actions, we justify, “Well I did this because I had the right, I was justified… because he did this, and she did that, and I deserved it.” This is self-deceit. We lie to ourselves constantly, and this is the worst form of deception that exists in the world – self-deception. Everyone of us is guilty of lying to ourselves.
When we initiate our own investigation of what is in our own hell, we start to acquire a lot of facts, disturbing facts, painful facts, but we need to know these things. Our consciousness is trapped inside of those elements of pride, greed, jealous, etc.; that is why we suffer from them. When we are suffering from the pain of envy, of longing for what someone else has, and we feel that pain of wishing we had that, we created that envy, by investing our energy into it. That is a consequence of identification, sleep, dreaming, fantasizing.
Day-dreaming creates ego, desire, and when we create those desires, we suffer inside of them. The consciousness is trapped there. In other words, as mythology teaches us, the wife of Orpheus is trapped in hell. Helen is trapped in Troy. The beauty of the soul is asleep (Sleeping Beauty), put to sleep by the apple of desire, created by the witch of evil. Our consciousness (the sephirah Geburah) sleeps in Klipoth and suffers.
This is what we want liberation from. This is not just an idea, this is not just a theory, every one of us is experiencing this. Our consciousness is the only beautiful thing that we have, the only pure element, the greatest beauty in the world, as they described Helen of Troy. Helen is the same as the Beatrice of Dante; Beatrice was the beautiful woman that Dante was longing to be united with. Beatrice is the Divine Soul, part of our consciousness who has become trapped, imprison, captured by the enemy. This is Persephone, hidden in the domain of Pluto, Hades. If you know any mythology, you know this story in some form. This story exists in every single world tradition, and is illustrating a practical reality that is psychological. That is our reality.
There is a way to liberation, and that is through the action of the sephirah Tiphereth. Tiphereth represents the knight, the warrior, the Human Soul. This is our conscious willpower. In mythology, this quality is represented by Orpheus, Perseus, Theseus, Dante, etc., the great heroes who have to be courageous and descend into hell in order to redeem the soul. In other words, the hero cannot go to heaven because the soul is trapped in hell. Orpheus cannot leave his wife in hell; he loves her, he needs to be united with her. So he has to save her, and that is what we have to do: to extract our consciousness from the ego, from Klipoth.
Klipoth is a Hebrew word that means “shells.” It refers to psychological structures that, like bottles or shells, things that we make, that our consciousness is trapped inside. We need to go down there and break all of those shells. We need to “clean the stable,” as Heracles did. We need to be heroic and save the beauty that we have within.
The way that this is accomplished is that, first of all, Tiphereth, which is where our consciousness emerges from, has to get know hell, has to know how to navigate it. Tiphereth (our human soul) needs weapons, armament, protection. Hell is not an relaxing place to go; it is very dangerous. That’s why Gnosis is called the Path of the Razors Edge: it is very dangerous. Gnosis does not present a threat to you physically; the threat is inside of you. The threat is your own mind. The great threat is how you will use this knowledge. Knowledge is power, and to descend into Hell is a risky business, but it is also needed, inescapable, unavoidable.
The Human Soul (Tiphereth) gets its weapons, power, and guidance from the Divine Mother, deep within us, who is called Hera, Athena, Minerva, Coatlicue, Rhea, Sarasvati, Tara, etc. There are many names for the Divine Mother. Remember in the Greek myths, Athena provides Perseus and Theseus with weapons. Athena is the one who guides Odysseus. Athena is the one who guides the Trojan War, for the redemption of Helen. Athena is a symbol of the Divine Mother.
The weapons that the Human Soul needs relate to how we use the consciousness. If we (the consciousness) descend into our psychological hell as we are now - naked, unarmed, innocent, foolish - the demons there (our egos) will consume us. We see this in many cases. People learn powerful knowledge like this, become seduced by their own pride, and start proclaiming themselves to be great Masters or Prophets. We see people who become seduced by their own fear, and who become vigorously opposed to the teaching that they once thought was so beautiful. This is how the Human Soul loses its way in its own abyss, diverted by its own ego – fear, pride, envy, jealousy, anger. Yet, if we rely on our Divine Mother, she can provide us with protection and weapons, but only if we do our part. Those armaments are related with the Solar Bodies, and they are related with virtues, but they are also related to meditation: it is the single greatest skill that one can have: to know how to use the consciousness, without any artifice.
Meditation is the power of the consciousness to actively, consciously and awake, enter into any region of existence and not be distracted, seduced, or misled. We cannot even do that here, in our physical bodies. That is why we start training in the here and now.
If you do not learn here and now to maintain a constant watchfulness capable of deflecting any hypnosis, distraction, or seduction, then you face a tremendous, insurmountable problem – because, when you descend into your own abyss, and start facing the facts of your own existence, psychically, you will start to face elements of pride, fear, anxiety, hate, and lust that right now you have no clue about, because they are so submerged in your own mind. They will easily conquer you.
I’ll give you an example of someone who failed in this regard, and we all know his name: Hitler. When he was young, Adolf Hitler was a student of Gnosis, who was studying with an occult group in Germany, but because he did not develop the proper skills of discrimination, he became misled by his own ego (which was manipulated by power hungry people), and you know the result: he went mad, but had power. He started out as someone with nothing, no power, on the fringes of society, but when he was given the power of knowledge, he did not develop the power of self-discrimination. That is the key. The same potential exists in each one of us to make the same mistake. He always believed he was doing right, and we are no different. We all think we are doing our best, working hard for others (as he though he was). This is the great danger.
Even in this moment, we face dangers that are very, very subtle and difficult to see – but, let me tell you something, you cannot avoid it. The fact is that our consciousness vibrates at the level of hell. We can prove this to ourselves: what is our experience of life? What do we experience from moment to moment and day to day? Pick:
Selfless love, harmony with others, a peaceful heart, a state of fearlessness and contentment, happiness for the blessings that others receive, spontaneous generosity, contentment with what we have and where we are...
Fear, anxiety, constant worry, stress, tension, anger, resentment, jealousy, desire for what others have, shame, unquenchable desires, attachment, emotional tempests, mental conflicts, arguments and disagreements, a lack of basic necessities...
Based on this, where does your consciousness vibrate? Are you experiencing Nirvana, the cessation of suffering, or what we can call heaven, from moment to moment? Are we experiencing bliss continually? Are we in constant Samadhi? Are we perceiving the Angels, the Gods, all the time, physically? No. All we see around us is people suffering in ignorance, despair, and pain. All we see is uncertainty, doubt, and anxiety. When we close our eyes, we see darkness. When we go to sleep, we see nothing. And what we do remember when awaken in the morning, is usually very vague, incoherent, or just disturbing. That is where we exist, in fact – in the darkness of Klipoth.
I stated earlier that some of us may have had some experience of a dream that is memorable, something related with heaven. We probably only remember one, or maybe a few a small memories. But if I asked if have you ever had a nightmare, all of us will say, “Oh, yeah.” Even if we do not like thinking about it, if we start really reflecting on our experiences, we will remember a lot of nightmares. Why? Because nightmares are experiences in hell. A nightmare is a perception of what exists within our own mind, in hell, in us. A nightmare is real; it is not an illusion. When you are in a nightmare, it is not an illusion, it is real. That monster that is chasing you, that devil that is coming after you, that beast, that threat, that danger, the violence – you do not experience that in a nightmare as an illusion, you experience it as real, because in that level, it is. It is only after you return to your body that you think, “It was just an illusion.” A pretty thought, but a lie.
Nightmares are our reality, psychologically, because our consciousness is trapped in hell. This does not change when we die. The physical body is just a garment that we will discard. The consciousness is eternal; it does not die. The consciousness will exist, according to its level of Being, according to its vibration. And, if we observe ourselves from day to day, and from night to night, we will see our level of Being. Right now, we are in hell. You cannot change that with a belief. However beautiful a religion might be, belief in that religion will not save you. You can prove that right now. Start believing in something. You can right now say, “I accept Jesus as my savior, and I believe, so I am going to Heaven.” But your fundamental experience of life will remain the same. You might encounter new people, you might go to a different church, but you will be suffering all the same problems, and maybe more.
To fundamentally change our situation and dramatically alter the course of our life, we need facts, we need tools that lead to experience of the truth, and techniques that empower us to change. Where is that possible? Inside. We cannot change other people. Who among us has ever changed another person? And who has ever changed us? If we have ever changed, it is because we did it, inside.
The possibility to change is inside, not in circumstances, not in our situation, these are superficial. The problem is, if we keep trying to change the outside things and trying to add new beliefs and theories to our personality, we leave our fundamental, factual reality unchanged, which is that the consciousness is trapped – in pride, in lust, in fear, in envy. When we die, we will remain in the same situation, just without a physical body. In other words, when the physical body dies, our consciousness, which belongs in hell, will go to hell. It is a law of nature. We go where we belong. Everything in nature goes into its proper place.
If we want liberation from hell, we cannot wait until later. How long are you going to live? Anyone know? Have you got a date in your calendar? “Well, I’ve got at least another 10 years.” A nice idea, but a lie. Not one of us knows the hour, the moment, the day we will die, but we all should get really familiar with the fact that we will die. This is another fact that we like to put to the side, and not think about. We will die. Face it.
In the Lam rim, which is the graded stages of the path as taught in Tibetan Buddhism, the very first thing that you learn is to meditate on the inevitability of death. Until you have comprehended that, you will be entertaining all kinds of illusions in your life. You will waste your time and your life.
The comprehension – meaning the conscious understanding - of the reality and inevitably of death will clarify so many illusions you have about yourself. If you really meditate on the fact that you will die, you will stop behaving the way you have been. That simple gnosis - conscious understanding - can totally change the way you live your life. A new way of perceiving life will emerge in you; then, when you start doing something dumb, you will realize, “I do not have time for this. This stupid thing that I have been doing and wasting time on, I do not have time for that anymore. I have to get myself out of this situation.”
Conscious realization of the inevitability of death incites a sincere change in our moment to moment existence. No one can comprehend the approach of your own death, but you.
So, if become conscious in this manner from moment to moment, we start changing our actions and behaviors from moment to moment, then we can start creating a new reality. This is why the Buddhist teaching says the first step is to stop harmful action. This is the factor of death: to die psychologically in all those foolish, useless behaviors. All those foolish desires must die, because they are leading us to deeper suffering. Harmful action does not just mean killing others or stealing. It means any action that harms our soul or the consciousness of others. This includes all kinds of activities that we have invested so much time and energy in, that truthfully are a complete misuse of our time and energy. A few areas that you can look at: television, movies, magazines, many social activities, popular music, foolish friends, family habits, video games, politics, shopping, pornography, hours wandering the internet... - the list is truly endless. Many of the activities and interests that we get ourselves wrapped up in are actually a complete distraction from the essential facts of our life. That is usually why we do them! We usually develop our habits and interests because they distract us from our pain. This means we are avoiding the truth. So first we have to truly, consciously, completely renounce harmful actions.
Next we have to adopt virtuous action. A virtuous action is one that is beneficial to our soul and to those around us. Start doing things that are truly important. YOu cannot start out by trying to fix worldwide hunger on your own. Start where you are. Start with what you can do today. As a first step, I recommend that you start learning how to be aware of yourself continually. Comprehend what self-observation and self-remembering really mean. To do that, you have to study. You have to make an effort. It does not come easily or quickly. It may take you years. Nonetheless, once you have started doing that, learn how to meditate. From my personal experience, in my personal opinion, I would tell you there is no more valuable activity on the face of the planet. In fact, the Buddha said,
He said something else like,
To enter into contemplation or meditation for the amount of time it takes for an ant to cross from one end of your nose to the other, will produce more results than a thousand gifts given in charity.
That is how powerful real meditation is. Meditation is an experience that is beyond your personality,your sense of self, your mind, your physical body. It is something that you yourself can taste and experience, that will transform you like a lightning bolt. That does not mean it is a strong physical experience, or that you will have visions of angels or beams of energy - no. Real meditation is comprehension of the truth. It is a state of perception that deepens wisdom, humility, insight, and love for others. After you experience what real meditation is, you will never be the same. But, to acquire that experience is entirely up to you. That experience is part of the protection and weaponry that the Divine Mother provides, in order to successfully make our journey through our own hell.
To adopt virtuous action means that, in those moments of observing ourselves, when we see our inner contradictions, we change our behavior for the better, and behave sincerely and for the benefit of everyone, not just for our self-interest, but manifesting true virtue; there is no “self” in that.
True virtue belongs to the Being, to God, and it is how to be unselfishly loving, unselfishly humble, unselfishly active (one of the virtues is activity, the opposite of laziness). To not be gluttonous, but instead have restraint, to not be greedy, but instead be generous.
This is something that we have to apply in our daily life, from moment to moment. It is not just something we tell ourselves, “Okay, now I am going to try to be a good person. I am going to try to not be angry, and be very loving, very patient.” That is fine, you can tell yourself that, but what you really need to do is do it in the moment you would usually get angry. So, when you are experiencing anger, you have to learn to transform that moment by will, into love. To be loving towards the person that makes you angry is not easy, because we are so attached and accustomed to our anger, we would rather keep our anger. We do not know how to be really loving, to restrain anger. We do not know how to restrain lust, and to be in chastity. Or to restrain envy and to be happy for others.
If our friend, our co-worker gets a raise or gets a big promotion, normally we would feel envious, “I deserve that, not them.” We might tell them, “Congratulations, you deserve it” but in our heart, we are burning with envy. How do you congratulate them sincerely? When you are burning with envy, that is not easy, and the only way you can do it is to consciously comprehend that situation. You cannot fake gnosis. Comprehension is a quality of consciousness: it is understanding. Comprehension is understanding, Binah, the Holy Spirit, the Divine Mother. She can help us find comprehension, if we enter Her domain, which can only done with an awakened consciousness, free of conditioning.
When we practice meditation, we extract our consciousness from everything. We forget the body, thoughts, feelings, sensations, and we withdraw the consciousness back, back, back, into its root, which is pure perception. In that place there is no I, no personality, no self (the way we think of self). And then, we begin to reflect upon the event that we need to comprehend; let us say we want to comprehend how we felt when we heard about the promotion that our friend got. We then start to reflect on that, to visualize the moment we began suffering, to imagine it, and the immediate reaction will be, we will start to feel that ego surge up: that envy, resentment, pride. That is when we have to start to separate the consciousness – to observe, but not become involved. If we do that, the Divine Mother, through the powers of the consciousness, can start to reflect new information to us, new understanding. It can come in an infinitude of forms. It is also helpful to look at that situation and imagine what we should have done, and allow Her to show us that. How we should have behaved, how we should have acted.
If we persist in the effort to comprehend through this type of meditation, we can gain new information. Then, when similar situations occur (and they will!), we can act appropriately; and what is the result? In the first place, we have stopped harmful action, because we have stopped allowing that envy to manipulate our behavior, feelings, and thoughts. We have started virtuous action, by starting to listen to the guidance of God, and to know how to act with happiness for our co-worker, who may really need that promotion – who might have kids, who might have a situation where they really needed it, and we should be happy for them, sincerely. And lastly, we have controlled our mind. This is the most beautiful part, because this gives us a foundation to go further, to make a step ahead. What happens in this combination of factors, is that the vibration of our consciousness has changed. We have changed. It may be that no one else sees it, not even our spouse – but that does not matter. We are not changing to impress others. Our Innermost sees it. The laws of Nature see it. We have produced new consequences, new results. We have changed our Karma.
Step by step, patiently, from situation to situation, by applying this simple key, we can change our future through our own action. Not by relying on any promise, not by relying on any insurance plan from our given religion, but by our own action. In this way, we start to experience what it means to be liberated. In that instance, that example of our co-worker, we will experience something new. Our life will change; it might be a subtle change, and it will definitely be something that only we will feel, but we will feel something new, something different, something nice. That is where the value starts to show, and that feeling is related with Heaven, with Nirvana. We start to bring it here and now. No longer depending on outside things, but bringing Heaven now, from moment to moment, through the transformation of life. Transforming our experience from instant to instant.
Though one were to scan the entire universe searching for the nature of mind, one would not find it. Buddhahood cannot be attained other than through the mind [consciousness]. - Padmasambhava, Introduction to Awareness
If we learn to use our consciousness properly, then we can learn to be in Nirvana, and then go beyond it. That is the goal of Gnosis. We do not simply want to enter Nirvana, or Heaven: we want to go beyond it.
First, we seek to save ourselves from hell, and become free of it. Then, we enter Nirvana. But Nirvana, heaven, has many levels. Those levels are not the ultimate level of spiritual development. There is much more. Many saints or buddhas become attached to Nirvana. They become “the jealous Gods, the tempting Gods.” Gnosis guides us to go beyond Nirvana.
For us, this is incomprehensible, because all we long for is the experience of Nirvana. We just want happiness. We want peace, we want rest, we want a break from pain, we want out of the cage of our life. But let us remind you: getting out of this cage is only part of the problem. Once out of the cage of hell, there are golden cages waiting to trap us in nirvana, that are more subtle, but they are cages nonetheless.
Questions and Answers
Audience: Related with Hell and Nirvana, what can you tell us about Hitler and Mahatma Gandhi [inaudible]?
Instructor: Good question. How can we understand the difference between Hitler and Gandhi politically, in relation with Heaven and Hell? Well, that’s a whole lecture. The simple answer that comes to my mind is that each of those men utilized their energy and created certain results. Both of them had good intentions. It is hard for us to understand that nowadays, because we think that Hitler was just pure evil. But, he actually had good intentions, and in the beginning, he did a lot of good things for the German people. He made some good steps. I am not saying he was a good person, what I am saying is that intentions are irrelevant. Our intentions make no difference in the eyes of the law, in the eyes of how nature manages energy. Listen, you can mean well, but if you shoot somebody and kill them, you have killed them. Even if it was accidental, the person is dead, you cannot change that. There is a consequence for that. So, intentions mean nothing. In relation with these two men, we can see that both were managing a great deal of energy, using their consciousness to manage forces. The only way they could do that is by having knowledge, Gnosis. Each had a certain amount of knowledge; neither one had the whole path. Neither one had the entire teaching. They had enough to make a big impact. But here is the difference, as I see it, between these two: Gandhi relied on the guidance of God, while Hitler did not. Gandhi humbled himself before his own Divinity, and Hitler relied on himself. This is an example that we can learn from.
Going further, the question is specifically about politics. Politics, groups, and movements are necessary for humanity, because through them we are organized and receive guidance and instruction; this is what we need. Groups and movements exist throughout the levels of nature, not just physically. There are groups and movements in hell, and there are groups and movements in heaven - beings who vibrate at those levels of nature, whose consciousness belongs in those realms, and they belong to certain groups. Yet, in the superior levels of nature, no one appoints themselves to be in charge of a certain group. Leadership happens because of natural consequences, because of cause and effect. Gandhi the simple man became Gandhi the national leader not because he wanted it, but because he followed what he was guided to do by his Innermost, through his heart, prayer, meditation, and his sense of what was right and wrong. Hitler, on the other hand, was guided by ambition. It might have been ambition with good intentions for the Germans, but it was ambition nonetheless. You see, Gandhi did not have that ambition. He tried many times to leave the national stage, but he could not escape it.
Instructor: Heaven and hell are places, yes, but the entrance to them is psychological. Dante wrote The Divine Comedy, which describes heaven and hell, because he went there, he experienced it, he saw it. The same is true of initiates from every tradition: the Aztecs wrote about the other worlds, the Greeks, the Tibetans, the Hindu, every tradition in the world has had people who experienced the realities of heaven and hell, but that experience begins here, physically. It begins here and now with who we are, and according to who we are, we can go there in accordance with the very nature of who we are.
I will give you an example. The key is the consciousness, as I explained. The key to go to either direction, heaven or hell, is how we use our consciousness. If we awaken our consciousness and eliminate our ego, then nothing in us belongs to Hell anymore and we belong to Heaven. Thus, we will naturally rise there. It is a law of Nature, cause and effect. On the other hand, if we awaken our consciousness, but do not eliminate our ego, we will go to hell, because the ego is still alive in us, and the ego is in hell, and our consciousness is still trapped within it, but awakened. A person like that is a demon, a devil, a black magician, a necromancer, a seer, or a diviner, as the Bible calls them. These are people who have powers, and they have powers because they have knowledge, but it is knowledge and power in Hell. People like this are as common as weeds; they are everywhere. They are very vigorous in spreading their teaching. So vigorous, that once you learn about Gnosis, you will see their teaching in sitcoms, in movies, televisions shows, in music, in magazines, but veiled. Not explicit, but it is always there: using desire to entice us, to have money, to have power, to have beauty, to have fame, to have recognition. There are many, many millions who follow that path. That is why Jesus said,
Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide [is] the gate, and broad [is] the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: because strait [is] the gate, and narrow [is] the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. - Matthew 7
If a ball is 97% hanging over the edge of a precipice, how easy is it to push over the edge? Now, how easy is it to push it back the other way? It is not. That is our situation right now. This is why we are very, very explicit and very, very detailed in how we express this doctrine.
You must be precise. You cannot allow any misunderstanding or vagueness in your comprehension of how to practice, because any simple thing can lead you the wrong way. Usually, people are taken off of the path by those aspects about which they say, “I already know that.” Or worse, “I already know a better way than that.” Or, “I don’t believe that part.” “I don’t believe that. I don’t accept that.”
Why? Based on what facts? This is the foundation in Gnosis: we discard belief, and instead, we practice. We work on awakening and seeing for ourselves. We are not interested in belief. If you seriously want to liberate your consciousness, you need to stop believing. Don’t believe me. Don’t believe Buddha, don’t believe Krishna, Jesus, don’t believe anyone, even yourself. You have to test the facts again and again and again, and measure based on the facts. That is why we give so many practices, so that anyone can take these tools and put them to use. If you don’t use them, it’s your will, it’s up to you.
Audience: What is the difference between mind and consciousness?
Instructor: We use those terms a little bit interchangeably sometimes. Ultimately, they are the same thing. But sometimes we say “mind” in the way that modern English uses it: to mean intellect or thinking. It can also imply something more. The word mind comes from the Sanskrit word Manas. Manas refers to superior and inferior “intellect” or cognition, which are represented in Kabbalah by the sephiroth Netzach and Tiphereth; these are aspects of psyche. If you get specific, that is what “mind” refers to. But, in actual reality, what is mind?
Though the single [nature of] mind which completely pervades both cyclic existence and nirvana,
has been naturally present from the beginning, you have not recognized it.
Even though its radiance and awareness have never been interrupted,
you have not yet encountered its true face.
Even though it arises unimpededly in every facet [of existence],
you have not as yet recognized [this single nature of mind].
In order that this [single] nature might be recognized by you,
the Conquerors of the three times have taught an inconceivably [vast number of practices],
including the eighty-four thousand aspects of the [sacred] teachings.
Yet, [despite this diversity], not even one of these [teachings] has been given by the Conquerers,
outside the context of an understanding of this nature!
[And even] though there are inestimable volumes of sacred writings, equally vast as the limits of space,
actually, [these teachings] can be succinctly expressed in a few words, which are the Introduction to Awareness. - Padmasambhava, Introduction to Awareness
All things that appear are manifestations of mind. - Padmasambhava, Introduction to Awareness
When you study Hinduism or Buddhism, it is said that everything is condensed mind. In this sense, mind is not intellect, but consciousness.
It is hard to discriminate them as two totally separate things, because they are very related. For example, in Gnosis and in Buddhism, we use a very important term, Bodhichitta. Bodhichitta means, in literal translation from Sanskrit, “awakening mind.” But Chitta does not mean mind as intellect, it means mind as consciousness, and that refers to all these levels on the Tree of Life, which are all psychological, and which we have inside.
So, there are difference ways of applying the terms. The basic place to start in this teaching is: do not confuse intellect with consciousness; they are different. The word mind can have a lot of subtleties.