“It is completely impossible to experience the Being—the Innermost, the Reality—without becoming true technical and scientific masters of that mysterious science called meditation. It is completely impossible to experience the Being — the Innermost, the Reality — without having reached a true mastery of the quietude and silence of the mind. Nevertheless, we must not deceive ourselves and be ready to buy a “pig in a poke,” since the “I” also lusts for and covets those silences, and it even fabricates them artificially.” - Samael Aun Weor, Spiritual Power of Sound
This is a transcription of a lecture originally given live and unscripted on Gnostic Radio. You can download the audio lecture for free: Fuel for Spiritual Experience 05 Concentration .
In the first few lectures of this course about the Fuel for Spiritual Experience, we have been describing factors that provide a foundation for which spiritual experience becomes a reality, something that can actually happen. This is important. This is the whole reason why we study Gnosis: to actually have experience, not to just have theories or beliefs, but to see, taste, touch, and feel the reality that is beyond the physical senses, the realities of the spirit. Those realities exist.
There is much more to life than just the physical body. There is far more to life than beliefs and theories. In order to see and taste, to experience reality, we need to know exactly how. That exact knowledge is not theoretical, and it is not a belief. It is something that we do. It is something that must be done and actualized.
All genuine religions are built on this foundation of spiritual experience. What happens over the course of centuries after the founding of any religion is that adherents or followers of that religion — because of the nature of the corrupted mind that we have — gradually lose touch with the ability to have direct personal experience of the divine. As they lose touch they develop theories and beliefs of what was once possible, and is no longer possible for them because of the state of their minds. That is why people gradually over time, over centuries, have lost the true heart and soul of religions.
Gnosis is a Greek word that means knowledge from experience. If anyone calls themselves a Gnostic, they should be very aware of the meaning of the word. To call oneself a Gnostic is a bold thing to do. It is very significant. To say that one is a Gnostic is to say that one has experience. We need to be careful when we use that word.
We need to be careful when we study the science. Spiritual experience is not belief. Just because someone believes in God does not mean that they have experienced God. Or because someone believes in the astral plane or astral projection does not mean that they have experience. This difference between belief and experience is extremely critical.
When we cross the threshold of stating what we have not experienced as being true, we cross the threshold into being a liar. Spiritually speaking, to lie is a crime. To be a liar is to offend God, who is truth. When we speak of spiritual things, or talk about religion, about God, we should speak what we know from experience. For must of us, it will be next to nothing. There would be very little of what we can say about religion from personal knowledge.
This discipline, this type of honesty to only say what one knows from ones experiences, is very important. As soon as you cross the boundary of lying to others and telling them things about religion that you have not experienced and you are telling them those things are true, you also cross that boundary in yourself. When you lying to someone else about religion, spirit, or God, you are also lying to yourself. What that begins in your mind is mystical pride, a tendency that is extremely widespread nowadays, in which people affirm what they do not know. If you need an example, go to any bookstore or any church, and you will find many enthusiastic and sincere people who will lie to your face, aAffirming that God is this and that (according to their particular dogma), and religion is this and that, the soul is this or that, yet the truth is that they have experienced nothing of reality. They only have beliefs and theories. In synthesis, they mean well, but they are liars. All of us are guilty of this.
The problem that results from this is twofold.
The first issue when we engage in this behavior of lying and affirming things we have not experienced is that we interrupt the potential for other souls to acquire knowledge. We impede their possibility for development, because we say things that are not true. We say things that are incoherent, that are not conscious. The soul and spirit grows through conscious knowledge, not through theories.
The second problem is that we impede our own progress. Our mind begins to think “I really do know these things. I really do know because I read it in this book and that book, and I believe and I know.” Yet that is a lie. This lie is eagerly gobbled up by the ego, because it gives the ego great power over the consciousness. It gives the ego the ability to keep the consciousness asleep. When the ego thinks, “I already have religion. I belong to the chosen people. I have this -ism that I follow. I have the right clothes, and I have the right books on my shelf, and the right items on my altar. I know the right words to say and the right songs to sing and thus I am saved.” This is what the ego says, and the consciousness sleeps through it all. This is a crime against the soul.
To affirm what we do not know — whether outwardly or inwardly — is a type of murder, a type of killing in which we kill the soul. We kill the potential for the soul to have that urgency and longing to really experience and know God. The mind kills it. This is Cain (Kayin) killing Abel. That is what is represented in that story.
Our Cain (mind) kills our Abel (soul) when we read a spiritual book and we gobble it up quickly and believe everything without making sure to confirm it through experience. We love it, we believe in it, and we tell everybody, “This is the truth, I found it!” The truth is not in a book.
We find a church, a school, or a group and we say, “This is the real group. These guys have the real teaching. They have such and such master; they have such and such knowledge. This is the truth.” That is a lie. The truth is not outside of us. The truth is not in a group. It is not in a teacher. It is not in a book, a church, or a temple.
It is not in another country. Some people think they have to go to India, Tibet, China or Mexico in order to find spirituality. This is a lie.
People think they need to go and buy crystals and certain items for the altar, or a certain type of necklace or bracelet, a certain book that is “sacred,” and they think the truth is in those things, that God will save them through that crystal, plant, herb, medicine or artifact. This is all lies.
We all ignore the chief vessel for God, which is in your heart. The chief place for God to express is in your heart. It is not in a rock, not in a plant, not in a temple or a church; it is in your heart, and in the hearts of your brothers and sisters. We are always looking for God in the wrong places, because of the mind, because of the ego.
I present this point of view in order to clarify today’s topic. We have talked in the previous lectures firstly about sexual energy. Sexual energy is the most powerful force that we have access to. It has the power to create life, and we will never grasp a greater power. Wisely used, it is the power to grow the soul. It is the power to know what God knows: creation.
Secondly, we talked about Bodhichitta, which is a very deep and profound word that means cognizant love with knowledge of emptiness. That is the second factor that we need. It is a type of wisdom, a type of knowledge that is far beyond the capacity of our intellect. It is a type of loving compassion that has knowledge on how nature functions on the deepest level, which is the Absolute. The reason we need to understand Bodhichitta is that it provides the essential foundation for the entire path. It is a term that can easily get classified in the intellect, but in order for us to understand spirituality we need to actualize the term in our daily life. Bodhichitta, wisdom mind, the mind of Christ, is not the mind we have now. It is a different kind of mind. Bodhichitta must be our constant companion.
The third factor that we explained is faith. If we do not have faith, then nothing of spirituality is possible. It is true for all of these first three factors. Without sexual energy, we will have no fuel, energy to empower our endeavor. Without Bodhichitta, we will not have the right point of view, the right perspective, that should be love for others. We need a mind that sees how Christ sees: with wisdom, love. Thirdly, if we do not have faith, not only in God, but also in ourselves, we cannot do it because the path is very difficult. It is not easy.
Having established these three foundations, we come to the key that actualizes them. The key that will engage them and put them to work. That is concentration.
What is concentration? It is the ability to pay attention and not be distracted. Concentration is the ability to focus the attention without exception and without anything interfering.
Concentration is the vehicle through which the soul is refined.
In every religious tradition, concentration is spoken of as one of the stages of the path of meditation. Many students of mysticism, particularly in Asian traditions, spend a lot of time focusing on developing concentration.
If you have studied any religion for any period of time, then you are aware of hundreds of different kinds of concentration exercises. They include: Japa (mantra recitation), visualization practices, annappana, (observation the breath). There are hundreds of varieties of these types of exercises. Some involve visualization and some do not, but these are all preliminary. They are just exercises to develop the skill of concentration.
When we talk about concentration here, we are not talking about exercises. When we talk about concentration being a prerequisite that refines the soul, we are not talking about spending a few minutes a day focusing on the breath. Concentration is how we use attention from moment to moment. It is the ability to maintain control over our attention and not be distracted.
Right now, everyone in this room is getting challenged with their concentration. There is a miniature Lucifer running around and tempting everyone to be distracted. Some of us do not have the ability to maintain our attention on the lecture, and we get distracted easily. We get distracted by impressions, thoughts, feelings, sensations. That is what we need to see and change in ourselves.
To be so easily distracted is a huge obstacle in spiritual work. There is evidence of our weak concentration in every area in our lives, especially nowadays. We are being bombarded with the antithesis of concentration. It has been going on for decades, ever since radio. When radio was first developed as a broadcast medium for advertising, the programmers realized that in order to hold peoples attention they had to keep things dynamic, changing, surprising, and short. The advertising — which paid for the so-called entertainment — was given in short little bits of information, then it would change to something else. It would change to something else; the idea was to always try to hook the attention. Then television did the same thing with images. Short, little subjects, constantly changing. Now we have the Internet, which is even worse. Over the decades, we see that humanity has had their abilities to concentrate completely destroyed. Now humanity is 100 percent distracted. The mind is always running here and there, back and forth, never still. We are never able to keep our attention on one thing for more then a few seconds, and we indulge in it.
While at work, supposedly doing our job, we also have the radio playing, the internet on screen, the phone at hand, email open, and a lot of things going on the computer and on papers. We are trying to do everything at one time. We call this “multitasking,” and are very proud of how many things we “do at once,” but that is not a skill. That is psychological sleep. That is unconsciousness. It is a symptom of a very distracted mind. Some people think by learning to multi-task and do a lot of things at one time makes them more effective, even though modern science says that it is a lie and it is ineffective, because we are unable to focus on a single task and carry it through to completion. We are too distracted. We want to have so many things going on all at once. We drive the car, we listen to the radio and we talk on the phone at the same time. When we are walking, we have to have music and maybe even reading a book at the same time — while walking! This is a deep state of distraction, not concentration. We think it is the ability to concentrate and direct attention, but it is a state of sleep.
If we imagine consciousness to be a light — which it is, energetically it is light — our current state of consciousness is like a dim bulb that casts its light in every direction. It has no focus. In those moments when we really need to focus and concentrate, we cannot, or if we can, not for long. We try to focus that bulb, but any little sound and any little sensation is enough for us to lose focus and become distracted. This is why we forget what we are doing. All of the time. At any moment, we think, “What was I doing? I do not remember what I was saying? What was I doing? Where did I leave the keys? Where did I leave the wallet? What were we talking about just now? I forgot.” We all do this, and we do not think this is anything important, but it is extremely important.
The basis of developing the soul is awakening consciousness: consciousness of what we are doing from moment to moment. It is the ability to pay attention and be consistent, not be distracted. Then, once we have that, we need to meditate. Meditation is built on this foundation: to direct attention by will, without being distracted, to be able to direct attention for an extended period without being distracted. If we are not doing that during the day, all day long, we will never be able to do it when we sit to meditate. It will be impossible, completely impossible.
The ability to concentrate is developed according to how you use attention during the day. All of us have some power of concentration, but it is small. Generally, we only use it according to our psychological conditioning. Currently, we are deeply conditioned by desire, ego, pride, gluttony, envy, anger, laziness — all of these qualities. When something attracts the attention to one of those conditioned aspects our mind, we are able to concentrate very well.
Observe yourself, look into your life, and see something in you that you really love. It might be harmful or not. For example, your favorite TV shows; when “your show” comes on, nothing can distract you. When “your game” or “your show” is on, the house can burn down and you will not care, because you have to find out what happens in your show. “Does she live, does she die, does she get the guy, do they get divorced, and who will win the game?” We do not care about anything else going on around us; it can be chaos, we can be with the urgent need to go to the bathroom, or eat or drink, but we do not care, because we are so concentrated on what we are watching. That is concentration, but it is negative, because it is without cognizance. It is without awareness of oneself. It is what we can call an “exclusive” type of concentration, a type of concentration in which everything else is excluded. We focus intently and we exclude everything else. That capacity is what we have to harness spiritually. That ability to concentrate deeply. When we learn preliminary concentration practices, that is what we are learning: how to focus on one thing for an extended period. Again, that is just an exercise. It is just the beginning.
If all of this seems to technical, too “intellectual,” I would like to share with you a quote from Samael Aun Weor:
“It is completely impossible to experience the Being, the Innermost, the Reality, without becoming true technical and scientific masters of that mysterious science called meditation.” - Samael Aun Weor, Spiritual Power of Sound
Many people enter into religion — whether it is Gnostic, Buddhist or Christian — and they just want to believe. They just want to take that tradition, put it on like a robe, and walk around in it. They say “I belong to this group and now I am saved.” Reality does not work like that. If you want Gnosis, and you want to give birth to the soul, you have to become a master of meditation. There is no way around it. You can call it other things. You can call it prayer. If you want to call it prayer, that is great, because meditation is the same thing. You do not have to use the word “meditation.” Some people do not like that word. That is okay.
What meditation means is quietude and silence of the mind, and awakened inner perception. What is that? When do we have quietude and silence of the mind? When the ego is not present. If our ego is present, it is distracted. It is always getting its attention called by different elements and it is unable to retain focus. It is the ego that produces conflict. It is the ego that produces the chaos of our mind. If you want to know your own state, your own quietude of the mind, stop for a moment, look into your mind, and do not think. Can you stop thought? Can you rest in silence without thought? You can if you learn how. That is why Samael Aun Weor also said,
“Without wise concentration of thought, the experience of the truth is impossible.”
When we talk about concentration some of us might have the impression that it is something very rigid, that it is something that is very painful. It is not. Real concentration is perfectly relaxed and at perfect ease, and yet it is not lazy. It does not “lounge” or “space out.” A beautiful image of perfect concentration is a cat getting ready to pounce. If you know cats, when they are about to strike, they are perfectly relaxed because their target can go any direction. If they get tense like if their target is going to go one way and their target goes another way they have to be very flexible. They are extremely attentive. No matter what is going on in the environment, they are aware of it. That is concentration. That is a beautiful illustration of it. You find that in many examples in nature.
Willpower and Imagination
Real concentration is flexible, but it is projective. In Gnosticism we talk about to aspects that produce the fruit of meditation: willpower and imagination. Throughout the books we study we read that we need to “unite willpower and imagination.” When I am talking about concentration, I am talking about willpower.
Again, real concentration is not stiff or tense. You might notice that when you are trying to do a practice of concentration you become very tense. That is an obstacle. You have to relax. Real concentration is perfectly relaxed, but attentive. Firm on its object, but flexible. It does not let go of what it is observing, but neither is it tense or stiff.
This is symbolized in the first Arcanum of the Tarot, the Magician. The Magician represents willpower. It is the willpower of consciousness.
In the image, the Magician is depicted standing with his left arm up. In his left arm is a rod of power. That rod of power is the power of the Magician. The magician is our Spirit, our Innermost, our Being.
Remember the quote says,
“It is completely impossible to experience the Being, the Innermost, the Reality, without becoming true technical and scientific masters of that mysterious science called meditation.” - Samael Aun Weor, Spiritual Power of Sound
This image represents that. In this image we see the Being who stands perfectly straight, and next to him is a table. That table is us. It is square, it is the four bodies: physical / vital, mental and astral, causal. (The vital and physical are considered one). This table represents the soul. On that table there are elements, we do not have time to go into all of the symbolism, but what the card represents is the willpower of Spirit, the willpower of the Being, which should be exercised over “the table,” which is us. When we learn to meditate, God helps us. God will help our soul learn meditation. He is our guru. He is our teacher. If you want to learn how to meditate, pray and ask your Innermost to teach you. He will teach you, but you have to listen to what he teaches you.
What is interesting to me in this image is that he holds up in his left hand a rod of power. Symbolically the left hand is generally feminine and passive, but he is holding upright a phallic emblem. So we see here a feminine and masculine united, in a relaxed way. This relates to willpower and imagination. It relates to the feminine and masculine currents in our physiology: Ida and Pingala, Adam and Eve, Lalana and Rasana,which we talked about in previous lectures: currents of energy that flow through our physiology. We need to be in balance and equilibrium. This is why we do mantras and Pranayamas before we meditate, to relax and balance our energy and stabilize the mind so that we can raise that rod and experience God.
The rod has many levels of meaning. It represents mastery, it represents the goal, and what is very interesting about it is that this image is almost identical to the other image we looked at in this course, of the Naga, who holds in her hand the Norbu, the Mani Stone.
The Naga is in the waters and raises up in her left hand the wish-fulfilling gem, the chintamani. That gem represents the full power of the soul, a fully developed human being. It is enflamed with the fires of the Kundalini. You see many similarities in these two images. The Magician has a serpent on his head; which represents his mastery. The Naga has five serpents representing the five initiations. Both are upon the waters. The Naga is rising from the waters and the Magician stands on top of them. There is an interesting similitude. One is from the Egyptians and the other is from the Tibetans.
In all religions, concentration is emphasized even if it is not clarified specifically in some traditions. Concentration is the essential component that takes the soul to experience God. Concentration is talked about in depth in the ancient Christian tradition in the scriptures of Philokalia. Concentration is explored in depth in the Hindu Yoga traditions and the tantric traditions. It is explored in depth in Buddhism, in all of the schools in Buddhism, whether is Sutrayana, Mahayana, or Tantrayana. If you are going to be serious about your religion. Whatever that religion is and you are ignoring concentration, you will not get anywhere. You will only have beliefs. In the end you will die and have accomplished nothing.
If you want to accomplish something in your religion, you need to understand this: Concentration has two forms, and you need to know them both.
"There are two types of concentration: the first is the exclusive type of concentration. The second is the total, complete type; it is non-exclusive." - Samael Aun Weor, Spiritual Power of Sound
1. Exclusive Concentration
Beginners in every religion are taught exclusive forms of concentration. An exclusive form of concentration is a type of concentration that excludes everything except the object of concentration. That is, one concentrates on one thing, and “excludes” everything else from attention. In this way, one gathers all of ones powers of concentration to focus on only one thing.
As an example, in Sutrayana or foundational level of Buddhism, students are taught anapana, which is an exercise to observe the breath. In Hindu tantra and Hindu yoga, students will use a stone, a rock, a statue, an image, a mantra, anything. They will learn to concentrate on an object, and forget everything else. It is also true in Zen. These are all exclusive forms of concentration.
All of these types of concentration practices are only preliminary exercises. They are tools to develop capacity for concentration. They do not create enlightenment. They do not liberate the soul. Many schools teach that these exercises lead to liberation. Yet, this is true only in the same way that learning your ABC’s in school leads to a doctorate degree. Do you understand that? When you are in kindergarten and you are learning your ABC’s, you need that so that fifteen or twenty years later you can get your PhD. These concentration exercises are the same. They are ABC’s. They are basics. They themselves do not directly liberate the soul. You might have experiences from them. It can happen. If you are a serious student you will have experiences, but those experiences are not liberation. Liberation comes exclusively in one way: by destroying the causes of suffering, which are desires, the ego. You can only destroy the ego when you understand it, when you comprehend it. You are not going to stop a bad habit until you realize —consciously, deeply— that it is a bad habit and it creates suffering. That is the only way to eliminate the ego and liberate the soul. We need to comprehend our bad habits and stop them. For that, we need strong concentration.
Every religion teaches these exclusive types of concentration to the beginners. They may not say that the students are beginners because many of them have a lot of pride and believe that their techniques will take them to liberation. They will emphatically and emphatically repeat that their techniques will liberate you. Do not be misled. If you study all the religions comprehensively the way we do in Gnosis, you will understand that you cannot liberate the soul unless you eliminate the cause of suffering: the ego. Elimination of the ego only comes from understanding of it. Not through some technique, but through conscious comprehension.
2. Non-exclusive Concentration
In some traditions, including all the ones I have mentioned, some students also learn non-exclusive types of meditation. These are a little more rare because they are perceived as being more difficult. Some examples would include certain Zen practices, certain yogic practices in jnana yoga and other traditions like that, Raja yoga also. Particularly in Mahayana and Tantrayana schools. Mahayana traditions in China and Japan may have this, but probably the most famous example of non-exclusive types of meditation are Mahamudra and Dzogchen, which are the highest yoga in Tibetan Buddhism. When I say it is the highest, it means that it is the most difficult to understand and practice.
A non-exclusive type of meditation or concentration practice is one in which nothing is excluded. In other words, in an exclusive type one concentrates on one thing and excludes everything else. In a non-exclusive type one meditates on everything that is perceptible simultaneously.
Now, if you think about that for a second and you look at yourself and you consider how difficult it is for you to concentrate on one thing and maintain concentration, then think how hard it is going to be to meditate on everything and maintain concentration. That is not easy. Not easy. But let me tell you a secret: it is far more powerful. That is why in Tibetan Buddhism in particular, non-exclusive meditation is the highest form of that tradition. The highest. It is the most potent. It is difficult. In fact, it is so difficult that it has been kept secret. It is only in the last decade, maybe two decades, that the scriptures of that tradition have been translated into modern languages. The lineage holders have begun teaching it openly. It is a very difficult technique. What is even more amazing is that Samael Aun Weor was teaching that technique all along, fifty, sixty years ago. No one realized it, yet this is just another example of his excellent development. He had knowledge one could not get in books.
Application of Concentration
This image shows a yogi in meditation.
The yogi is seated in meditation. We see the three channels of energy on his spine. We see a mantra emerging from his mouth and the flames rising from his head and a mantra on top of the flames. This image has deep significance. It relates specifically to the yogas of Niguma and Naropa. In synthesis, it illustrates the same thing we study in Gnosis through Pranayama. This image represents preliminary exercise to harness energy and focus attention through pranayama. Those mantras are the mantras for pranayama: Ham-Sah. What is of interest in this lecture today is to see how these symbols fit together. We see a yogi seated very relaxed in meditation. We see him repeating the mantras. We see his energies in motion on his spine and the flames rising from his head. We see the mantra at the top. The mantra is big. This image is showing us exclusive concentration. The yogi is focusing exclusively in the mantra, in the visualization, and in the practice.
Now, I do not know about you, but when most of us do pranayama, our concentration is very poor. My experience in myself and when dealing with students is that when people do pranayama they tend to do it mechanically, and they let the mind think about other things, letting the mind wander around. It is a mistake.
Mantra recitation, pranayamas, runic practices, Tibetan exercises are all beautiful examples of exclusive forms of concentration practice. They should be done in that way, not just done mechanically. Not just done because we want to have an experience and so thus we are doing the practice filled with desire. Instead, we should be doing the practice with concentration, with prayer, with a longing towards God. That is what this image represents. You see that because his attention is focused on this mantra. Something emerges out of it. Those lines represent the ethers (Lung in Tibetan). It leads to and it is hard to see the image on the screen but in the circle is a temple in nirvana. Anyone here want to go visit a temple in the astral plane and talk to a master? Everybody does, right? You can if you concentrate, if you relax, discipline your attention. Do not be distracted. This image shows us that it is possible to do it. We need to practice in the right way. We need to concentrate.
Relaxation and Concentration
Let me explain something very important about this. As I mentioned, our mind is very conditioned by a lot of desire. When we sit to meditate, the recommended step at the very beginning of every session is to relax. That relaxation is of course for the physical body. We need to relax all of the muscles so that we are perfectly relaxed in a very good posture so we can sit in for a while without having any pain. Yet, relaxation is also needed in the heart: to relax emotionally. That includes any surging anxiety, any resentment, any defeatism like “I do not know why am I bothering with this meditation, I can never meditate.” That psychological element will prevent you from meditating. If you are telling yourself that you cannot meditate, you will not. That is why we need faith.
If you sit with this longing, “This time I am going to have Samadhi. I am not going to get up until I have Samadhi.” That is a mistake. That will quickly turn to anger. That desire is an ego who craves a sensation or an accomplishment. It is gluttony, it is lust. It is desire for sensation. It is thinking that Samadhi and the experience with the Gods can be had by the ego.
When you sit and meditate, the stage of relaxation is the most important stage. Everybody thinks that end of the meditation is the most important, when we are supposed to have some experience. It is not. It is the beginning. It is how you start that matters the most. If you start badly, your efforts will go nowhere. Start on the right foundation. Pray, relax, concentrate. We will come to visualization later. Pray, concentrate, and relax. Really observe your mind. Really observe your mood. Really observe your intention.
Now you know why I put Bodhichitta before this in the course. Your intention should really be to help others, to find out how you are creating suffering for yourself and for others. We meditate in order to learn about that. The real foundation for meditation is not to have experiences. It is not to go to a temple so that masters of the temples can say, “Oh finally you returned, master such and such.” All the students want that experience, but that is an ego of pride. That is not the soul who wants that. That is the ego. We all want to have these experiences going into the internal worlds and being told we are such great masters etc. You need to work on that desire; that is pride.
Start with the right foundation in your practice. If you do, when you actually become relaxed and you begin to pray and you begin to meditate, then it will be much easier because you will not have that conditioning on your practice.
Another popular form of conditioning is the gluttony who wants to indulge in sensations it dreams of as Samadhi, astral travel, nirvana.
If you truly learn to relax and observe yourself, you will not be conditioned by that pride or shame that says “I cannot meditate.” You will not be conditioned by any other psychological factor that is creating an obstacle for you. You need to be aware of those elements, relax, and step around them.
Tension — whether physical, emotional, or mental — is due to conflict. When your three brains are in conflict, you cannot relax, thus you also cannot concentrate, and without concentration, you cannot meditate. So, start by relaxing your three brains, at all times, in all places.
"True concentration is not the outcome of options, with all of its fights; nor is it the outcome of the choosing of these or those thoughts: “that which I think,” that this thought is good and that one is bad, and vice versa; “that which I must not think” about this and that; “it is better to think about that,” etc. In fact, this forms conflicts between attention and distraction. Quietude and silence of the mind cannot exist where there are conflicts." - Samael Aun Weor, Spiritual Power of Sound
The Gnostic tradition is very clearly taught by Samael Aun Weor, throughout his books and lectures. I do not know if we instructors are doing a good job conveying that teaching. What I do know from my study is that Samael Aun Weor was extremely clear about something that many of his students ignore. That is why I put it in the beginning of my lectures in other classes. He stated repeatedly and clearly that you cannot be a Gnostic if you cannot meditate. To be a Gnostic means you are a master of meditation. Simply stated, but not simple to achieve. If you have that longing to understand Gnosis, and to know what gnosis is and be a Gnostic, you must master meditation. Not just have a vague idea of it, but to master it.
In this culture nowadays we have this unfortunate quality that is spreading worldwide to want instant gratification. Now, the students will read a book, one of the books by Samael Aun Weor, they will read about all of his experiences and these different practices, and they put the book down and say, “Now I am going to go to the astral plane, too.” They do the practice once or twice, and when they do not achieve it, then they say “ah, this does not work.” Who is the fool? We are, for thinking we are at the level of the author of the book. Truthfully, we have done nothing and earned nothing for it. To achieve what Samael achieved, we have to practice the way he practiced, and work the way he worked. He did not achieve his knowledge by reading a book. He achieved it through practice, effort, every day. There are many Gnostics who read a lot of books and listen to a lot of lectures or they practice one thing or one other thing and nothing else. These people are fooling themselves. Let us not make the same mistake. If we want to achieve that level of knowledge, that level of understanding, that our Being is pushing, we need to master meditation.
Mastery of meditation begins with concentration. There is no avoiding it, and there is no other way. You may have found one hundred different instructors teaching meditation a hundred different ways, and that is fine. There are many approaches and many techniques, because we all have an idiosyncrasy; we all have a different mind and need different tools at different times. What is important is for us to find a comprehensive understanding of how they work together. We can only find that through practice, not through books or through any other person, but through practice.
A student asked Samael Aun Weor, “Master Samael, someone told us that we should be meditating for ten or fifteen minutes per day. What do you think about that?”
Samael Aun Weor said, “A serious gnostic should be meditating five to six hours a day.”
Ten or 15 minutes is not going to get you significant results. Even at five or six hours a day, you are still a beginner, so long as the ego is alive. It may sound harsh, but these are the facts. So, even though someone totally new may start with ten or fifteen minutes of meditation, if they are serious they will quickly see the need for more and more meditation. They will naturally want to increase the time, and be seeking for more chances to meditate. Those who avoid meditation do not comprehend gnosis at all. Nevertheless, there are many who simply are too lazy or unwilling to change that insist on meditating for just a few minutes a day.
Our conditioning is pervasive. We are deeply entrenched in karma, in pride and in lust. It as if saying you are going to go to this mountain, this huge mountain, and under it is trapped your true love! Yet, for ten minutes a day you are going to take a spoon and dig a little bit. You are not going to get anywhere. You need energy and enthusiasm as strong as dynamite. You need to blow the mountain to pieces. That dynamite is real meditation. You cannot ignite it little by little.
Meditation requires a lot of persistence and effort.
Unfortunately, in the Gnostic movement there is too much pride. There are too many Gnostics saying, “We are the Gnostics, we are with the avatar of Aquarius, we are the chosen people.” What a bunch of garbage! That is simply pride. With that attitude, they do not work hard. They like to give the impression of being serious, but “the tree is known by its fruit.” What is their fruit? Gossip, infighting, competition to see who is "the most spiritual, the most serious," who has the largest group, who has the most respect, who has the most schools, who is “sacrificing the most,” etc. Truly, it is a very sad situation.
Let us look at other traditions, and see how sincerely and dedicatedly they practice. I have visited sikh, zen, buddhist, hindu, christian, jewish, muslim, and many more groups, and have seen so much devotion to practice; it is not hard to find students who meditate and pray many hours every day. Many spend their entire weekends at the temple praying and serving. Are we practicing at that level, or beyond? This is not a question to answer in public, but a question to ask of oneself.
Observe those who work so hard, every day, on totally useless efforts. As an example, observe those who play sports. They practice many hours, and work really hard. What if they converted that type of devotion and seriousness to their spiritual life?
What about those who dedicate so much time and energy to playing video games? They invest hundreds of hours, and thousands of dollars, into staring at a screen. They will get nothing back from that but distraction. In the end, they gain nothing else. Instead, they throw away their time and energy. But if they realized that, and converted that time and energy to effective spiritual work, they would rapidly develop.
What about those who dedicate so much time and energy to making themselves look “sexy” and “fit”? Sure, they might look attractive for awhile, but sooner or later they will die, and in the end their consciousness — their soul — was ignored, even degenerated more, because it becomes deeper trapped in vanity, lust, and “self-esteem.” What instead of being worried about what is in the physical mirror they become concerned about the contents of their minds and hearts? What if they studied the internal mirror that reflects their won behaviors, adn worked hard to improve their consciousness? That work stays with us, even after death.
What about those who dedicate so much time and energy to making money or acquiring possessions? They invent clever ways to get rich fast, and invest incredible effort, yet in the end, whatever they gain is taken by the government, or stolen by a “parter,” or they get sick and die. In the end, all that effort is wasted. What if they instead worked to help others, to modify the causes of suffering? That investment pays off for lifetimes; it is not lost at death.
If we invest even a portion of our time and energy into meditation, we will receive benefits that cannot even be measured, because they affect our very soul, our future lives, and the lives of those we help later on. Time invested in meditation has fruits that can change planets, humanities, galaxies. Look at the impact serious meditators have had on humanity! Any one of us could be the seed for such a soul, or any one of our students. Yet, to nourish that seed, it has to know how to meditate. It has to learn the teachings and apply them.
If we so convinced that this knowledge is so valuable and precious, we have to ask ourselves: are we putting it to work? Or are we just keeping it on the bookshelf gathering dust? This is the question we have to ask ourselves. If we have been entrusted with the most sacred knowledge in the galaxy, what are we doing with it? Are we just boasting of ourselves and strutting around like peacocks? Or are we cloistered in meditation most of the time, working on our many, many defects? That is where we should be. That is how we actualize this knowledge. That is how we respect it: by using it.
Students in other traditions meditate — depending on the tradition — anywhere from 3-10 hours everyday. Yet, they do not have the deeply effective knowledge that the Gnostics have. They do not have a complete teaching. They only have a percentage of a teaching. They are only given a spoonful to work with, and yet even with only that they work hard and gain much. What about the Gnostics? Monks like these enter into a monastery and their entire life is wrapped up in spiritual practice. They are only taught a spoonful of knowledge. Samael Aun Weor gave us a truck loaded full of knowledge, even more, and we sit on it likes apes picking flies out of each others backs. If we seriously applied the teachings, there is no doubt we can liberate ourselves completely from suffering, and in turn help many many others do the same. But first, we have to liberate ourselves from our pride, lust, anger, envy, etc.
This image is of Samael Aun Weor in meditation. Samael Aun Weor did not spend most of his time reading books, watching television, on the Internet, shopping for clothing, hanging our with “friends,” or wandering around the city, or going to a job. He wrote, he taught, and he meditated. Mostly, he meditated. That is it. What do we do with our time? What do we do with our energy? What are we doing with our lives?
Meditation is the core practice of the Gnostics. We hear about a lot of techniques, a lot of mantras, a lot of astral projection, healing with elementals, occult medicine, many techniques and hundreds of practices, but all of them are secondary. The single most important practice of the Gnostics is meditation. Nothing goes beyond that, even sexual magic.
Transmutation is important. It is what provides the base energy that fuels our efforts. Yet, many of us will pass through times in our lives where we cannot practice sexual magic, but there is never an excuse to avoid meditation. There is never anything in life that can prevent us from meditating. Even if you have a horrible accident and lose your arms and legs, you can still meditate. In fact, you will probably be able to meditate better because your arms will not get sore and your legs will not get sore. You could just lie there and meditate. Awesome! [laughter]
The amazing thing is not only is meditation the most important practice in the Gnostic tradition, it is also the most fruitful. It is strange that it is the practice that most students avoid. It is true. Students always come around asking about wanting to get out of the body, wanting to have astral experiences, wanting to go into the Jinn state, wanting to heal others, but practical questions about meditation are rare. It is paradoxical, because meditation is the most important thing we should be doing everyday. What it illustrates is that the ego is so strong in us that it knows meditation is what will end it.
Let me tell you something else: meditation is the simplest practice of the Gnostics, also. It is the easiest. This is so, because it merely lets the consciousness do what it naturally does: perceive, and comprehend. The only difficulty is getting the ego out of the way so that the consciousness can do that. Why do we say meditation is hard? Because we are lazy, and we do not want to get the ego out of the way. But meditation itself, the actual practice, requires no effort.
Meditation is a practice that you can get benefits from immediately. To do so, you have to be serious, and you actually have to do it, and know how.
We have talked about meditation at length in many lectures and many courses. The synthesis is quite simple. Here it is:
Relax, concentrate, pray, and visualize.
Those are the basic steps. Use these consciously, at all times, in everything you do. This converts every activity into spiritual cultivation. But specifically, be sure to use them when you do your spiritual practices.
We have taught many different techniques that are all based on this simple principle that is universal in all religions.
If you want to grow quickly, then learn to concentrate all day long. With everything you do, without exception, be present in the moment, with full awareness of what you are doing. This takes a lot of energy, and it rapidly strengthens concentration.
Secondly, in everything you do, relax. At all times, in all places, be aware of yourself, and relax completely: body, heart, and mind must be relaxed.
The beginner first has to learn how to relax and concentrate. In the beginning, we always work with those two aspects. Relaxing and concentrating.
In order to relax, we work with mantras and different exercises to cultivate pliability of the body and relaxation of the body. We may do runic exercises, rejuvenation exercises, and a lot of mantras. This is what we do on retreats: Mantra practice, Runic practice, Pranayamas. This all helps us relax and cultivate a state of balance.
Then, we work with preliminary concentration practices. It might include visualization, sometimes it is watching the breath. Sometimes it is listening to music. Whichever exercise we use, we are to concentrate exclusively on the object of the practice, and not be distracted by anything else. Again, all of this is preliminary.
Then, we learn a practice that is a bit more challenging, a core practice called retrospection. In this exercise, generally at the end of the day, students will sit, relax, pray, concentrate, and visualize the events of the day, like a movie in their minds eye.
This is a beautiful technique; not only does it cultivate and starts to develop our powers of concentration, but it also starts to give us the powers of visualization, and that is what we need in order to enter real meditation.
Retrospection practice shows us how we have been behaving. When we practice it daily, we start learning about our behaviors, how we have been acting externally and internally.
This is all beautiful and necessary, but again it is preliminary. All of these techniques, hundreds, are like the base of a mountain. It is sloping upwards to those that are more difficult, but reach greater heights.
Non-exclusive Concentration Practice
In one of his Christmas messages from 1966, Samael Aun Weor taught in a single paragraph the most beautiful technique in meditation that he ever wrote down. It is the technique that he himself practiced, that I myself have practiced, because I learned it from him. Other instructors practice this as well, but we rarely teach it, because it is hard for beginners. It is a non-exclusive form. In order to practice this technique, you need to know the fundamentals first: how to relax, concentrate, visualize, and pray. You need training and experience. Once you have some, some ability, you can work effectively with this technique, and it is extremely powerful. It is very potent, but not easy. The technique is very simple. He taught it in a couple places, but the one I like the best is from the Christmas message that I mentioned. He also taught it in The Revolution of the Dialectic, it is just that it seems that very few people have understood what he has taught. Here is the instruction. This is the entire technique.
“We must learn to wisely meditate, and as each thought, memory, image, idea, concept etc. arises within the mind we must watch it, study it, and extract what is of value of each though, memory, image, etc.
“When the parade of thoughts is exhausted, the mind remains quiet and in a profound silence. Then the essence of the mind escapes and the experience of that which is the truth comes to us.”
If we have read the books of Samael Aun Weor, then we have read that paragraph or similar ones. We have read it many times. Yet, has anyone practiced that technique and actually used it? I have spoken with students that tried, and most of them come away saying “I do not get it. It is too hard, I do not get it.” That is because it takes a certain amount of concentration and relaxation to use that technique properly.
"Our system of concentration excludes nothing; it is total, integral, complete. Our system of concentration includes everything and does not exclude anything. Our system of concentration is the way that leads us to the experience of the Truth." - Samael Aun Weor, Spiritual Power of Sound
It is a non-exclusive form of concentration. The essence of the technique is this: You sit in meditation. You have the preliminaries — you are relaxed and concentrated. Then, you do not do anything, you just watch. That is it. Whatever emerges and whatever arises, you just watch it. This is very different from the way most of us pay attention. The problem that we have is that we are too easily distracted. As soon as a thought comes up, it captures our attention and takes us away. We lose cognizance of what we are doing. We become distracted, and we start dreaming, because all day long we are dreaming. In order for you to use this technique effectively, you have to have already established in your life very strong self-remembering. This means you must have a certain degree of mindfulness. Mindfulness means you do not forget what you are doing. It means to be in remembrance of your self from moment to moment. That is, you do not forget you are meditating. When different impressions arise, different distractions, when different events come up, you do not forget yourself. You do not lose the continuity of consciousness; when you have that degree of presence, that is when this technique can be used. That is why we use the nine stages of Shamatha taught by Maitreya Buddha, the nine stages of concentration, so you can learn what state of concentration you are able to reach. Then you will know when you can switch to a technique like this. In general, you need to be in the fourth or fifth stage of shamatha to successfully use this technique.
The amazing thing about this technique, and the fact that Samael Aun Weor taught it, was that this technique is 100 percent pure Dzogchen, Mahamudra, the highest forms of Tibetan Buddhism that was never taught publicly until the last few years. He was teaching it in the 1950’s. None of the scriptures, none of those writings were in any other language then Tibetan and Sanskrit. They were not written anywhere in Mexico. Samael Aun Weor did not get it from a book. He got it from his Innermost. He got it because he is a Lama. If you want to have confidence in what he taught, that should give you some confidence. That is remarkable. That shows he is a genuine master. To support that, the Dalai Lama explains that technique in many of his books about this type of practice.
In general, the practice works like this: Let the mind flow in its own accord without conceptions. Let the mind rest in its natural state and observe it. In the beginning, if you are not used to this practice, it is quite difficult, but in time the mind appears like clear water. I encourage you to try this technique. Work with it. It is not easy, but it is very powerful. In order for you to experience what it can do, you have to work with a lot of discipline and a lot of patience.
It seems to me if you are the type of person that is very serious about studying Gnosis and putting it into practice in your daily life, that you can understand this practice quickly. You will understand it if you are transmuting, if you are applying the three factors, and if you are sincere. If you are flighty person, distracted all of the time, not able to focus and concentrate or relax, do some preliminary exercises first. Get yourself stable, otherwise this technique can be very frustrating.
To end the lecture today, the basic message that I am hoping to convey to you is to get serious about meditating. Do not waste time. None of us know how long we are going to live. Our society is teetering on the edge of a great problem. Every day that we get to practice is very precious, so take advantage of it. Do not waste time doing stupid things. Become serious about your work and it will bear fruit.
"The Being—the Innermost, the Reality—is totally different from that which the pseudo-occultists and pseudo-esotericists call Superior “I” or Divine “I.” The experience of Reality is completely different, distinct from everything the mind has ever experienced. The experience of Reality cannot be communicated to anybody because it does not look like anything that the mind has experienced before. When one has experienced Reality, one then comprehends very deeply the disastrous state in which one is abiding, and then one only aspires to know oneself without wanting to become more than one is. At the present time, the wretched intellectual animal falsely called “human being” only has inside one useful element. This element is the Buddhata, the Essence of the mind, with which we can experience the Being, the Innermost, the Reality. This precious element is trapped in the bottle of the animal intellect. During profound inner meditation, when the mind is totally quiet and in an absolute silence — within and without, not only in the superficial level, but also in all the different corridors, subconscious extracts, zones and lands — then the Essence, the precious element, escapes from within the bottle and fuses with the Being, the Innermost, in order to experience Reality." - Samael Aun Weor, Spiritual Power of Sound
Questions and Answers
Audience: About the technique that you mentioned that most students do not get, I do not get it. It might be from the way I am practicing it. I think you said thoughts coming and I try to extract what is useful from that thought. When I am trying to extract something from that thought, then another one comes in so as I am trying to take from that original thought am I supposed to jump onto or do not get anything from that thought when more thoughts keep on coming and coming.
Instructor: As I said, this technique is difficult; it takes a lot of practice to learn it. The main obstacle is the intellect, not only in how we understand the technique with our intellect, but how the intellect interferes during the practice of it.
You will comprehend the technique in the practice while doing it. That is when you will make sense of it.
In a matter of analogy, it is similar to if we were playing a football game, and you were out in the field, and someone kicks the ball to you. If you stood there and tried to handle that intellectually, you would think, “The ball is coming. I need to first put my foot there, and then put it there, and then I have to reach out and kick the ball.” The ball would be gone already, right? The intellect is too slow to respond. This technique works in the same way, yet even faster. The intellect is too slow to figure out how this technique works. The only way you are going to figure out how it works is in doing it with the consciousness, not the intellect. Just like in playing football, you have to be in the field and figure it out; reading books or thinking about it does not teach you how to play. In the case of football, your body does it, when you let your body learn; obviously you need to think and feel and observe too, but mostly, it is a matter for the body. In the case of meditation, your consciousness does it.
If you practice this technique, just like learning a new sport, you are going to get knocked around. You are going to get laughed at and ridiculed by your mind, but you have to get up and keep trying. This technique is exactly like that.
I have been dealing with students for a long time now, and I have heard all of the questions, and all of the explanations, and they are all wrong. This technique is the same thing as playing in a sport: you cannot explain it. You cannot write down on a chart to “put your foot here and there and there, and go this way, then you have to reach your arm out but only this far.” You will just confuse yourself into not doing it, because it does not make sense. This practice is exactly the same thing. The only way to learn it is to do it.
There are some things that you can read that will help, if you read them consciously and not intellectually they will help you a lot with this technique: The Revolution of the Dialectic. That whole book is about this technique. Anyone try to read that book? It is difficult. It is very difficult for the intellect. Do not read it with the intellect, read it with your heart. If you read how he is explaining about psychological judo, he is explaining about the battle of the opposites, he is explaining how if a mind brings you a thought that says tall you have to respond with short in order to reach the synthesis. We all think that is with the intellect. So when the mind is bringing us thoughts we are there with the intellect thinking, what is the opposite? What do I do with the opposite? That is the intellect; that is wrong. That is not how you do it.
Remember the example with the cat watching? It is the same as example I have used one hundred times with the goalie in sports. If you are the goalie, you cannot intellectualize what you are going to do when the other team is coming with the ball. You cannot think with your intellect, “I think he is going to go over there, so I will go here. Or maybe he will go there…” You will be too slow. The other players are going to trick you easily. You cannot think, you have to observe, and not miss a thing. This technique is exactly like that. In sports, the ball has to be your point of attention, but not just the ball, because you have to watch all of the players. It is the same thing with the mind in meditation. You have to be observant of everything; the ego is very tricky. It does not just have the five or six or nine players from the other team, it has thousands, and they are all trying to get you to lose attention. They are all trying to get you to lose attention. It is not easy. It takes a lot of practice.
In the beginning when you attempt this technique, it is very hard and frustrating. In the beginning, the main thing that you have to do is retain cognizance of what you are doing. That is the first stage. That is why we first work with preliminary concentration practices in order to develop that ability, to reach the middle level of the nine stages of Shamatha in which during your practices you do not forget you are meditating. You might struggle, but you never forget. You are always aware that you are meditating. That is the prerequisite to attempt this technique. Once you have that, then if you want to try this technique you can switch to it.
You asked how to extract the best from each thought. I cannot tell you. You have to learn it. It is intuitive. It is not intellectual. It is not an intellectual analysis where you say, “Okay, this thought is like this” — no, you already lost it. As soon as you are thinking that way, you lost it. It does not work like that. It is not the intellect. Master Samael explained this beautifully, but it is hard to follow because it is conscious knowledge, not intellectual.
Going deeper, he told us to not divide ourselves between observer and observed. Do not divide yourself between thought and thinker. Do not divide yourself between my thoughts and I. Do not divide yourself between self and other self, like me and my Being.
"Whosoever truly wants a legitimate silence and not a false silence, a true quietude and not a false quietude, must be integral—that is, to not commit the error of dividing himself between subject and object, thinker and thought, “I” and not “I,” controller and controlled, Superior “I” and Inferior “I,” me and my thoughts, etc. To know how to meditate is to be on the path of inner illumination. If we want to learn how to meditate, we must comprehend that between me and my thoughts—in other words, between thinker and thought—there is no difference whatsoever." - Samael Aun Weor, Spiritual Power of Sound
Any form of division like this is duality and stops the progress of the practice.
“Many students of psychology (when trying to achieve the silence and quietude of the mind), analyze their subconsciousness and commit the mistake of dividing themselves between analyzer and analyzed, intellect and subconsciousness, subject and object, perceiver and perceived.” - Samuel Aun Weor
This is the obstacle that prevents us from having an experience of the truth: any form of division.
"Only when the mind is really quiet, only when the mind is in a true silence can we then experience that which is the Reality, that which is the authentic Being, the Innermost. It is totally impossible to become integral while the mind is bottled within dualism." - Samael Aun Weor, Spiritual Power of Sound
All of these students that have been memorizing Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology are now saying, “What? That is the opposite of what he taught in this book!” There he wrote,
“Thus, if one truly and very sincerely begins to observe oneself internally, one ends up dividing himself in two: the Observer and the Observed. If such a division is not produced, it is then evident that we would never take a step forward in the marvelous pathway of Self-knowledge. How can we observe ourselves if we commit the error of not wanting to divide ourselves into Observer and the Observed? If such a division is not produced, it is obvious that we will never take a step forward upon the path of Self-knowledge.”
These sound to the intellect like contradictory statements, but they are not.
Here is how we explained this in the glossary:
“Since the mind is the den of the subconsciousness and since the mind always struggles between the opposites, when we try to achieve the silence and quietude of the mind we have to analyze the subconsciousness with- out committing the mistake of dividing ourselves between the opposites: analyzer and analyzed, intellect and subconsciousness, subject and object, perceiver and perceived. The Truth, the Satori, Samadhi, is attained in the silence and quietude of the mind by acquiring the INTEGRATION of our consciousness in one whole. If a division exists within ourselves, then the whole (the Tality or Totality), the Satori, is impossible.
“However, if we are analyzing the ego in order to annihilate it, we have to divide ourselves into Observer and Observed (we have to divide the light from the darkness) in order to not fascinate ourselves with our different psychological aggregates, that is, in order not to fall into the fascination of that particular aggregate of lust, anger, etc., and not to fall into our ego’s temptation. One divides the ATTENTION: being aware that what one sees (through visualization) is part of the one who is seeing (the consciousness). Therefore, one must divide one’s attention in order to separate from temptation, but maintain awareness of the duality of that phenomena.”
You will understand all of this when you practice this technique of non-exclusive concentration. In the same way that you see a beautiful flower and you cannot explain the flower, you cannot explain the technique with the intellect. That is why it is the highest level of Tibetan practice. You cannot intellectualize it. That is why it was always protected and preserved from beginners, because they cannot understand it until they have developed enough concentration to experience it. We talk about it here because we are in a new era. We need fast, rapid technique, and this practice is like psychological dynamite. It can explode in your consciousness.
Has anyone here heard of a phrase in Zen or Ch’an Buddhism called sudden enlightenment or immediate enlightenment? It is one of the translations for the Japanese word Satori. It is a sudden insight. It attempts to convey an experience in which in a given moment, even when nothing appears outwardly to be happening, it is like the veil has been ripped apart and one can see the truth, reality. That is what this practice can do.
In Tibetan Buddhism, there are hundreds of different teachers in history from different regions and traditions who describe this technique, and all state essentially the same thing. Practiced in the right way, this practice can produce immediate insight into the true nature of reality. We all want that. We will not reach it unless we practice and work. The technique is not easy, and it is not easy to learn, and it is not easy to master. If you work with it, really is very powerful, it is inexpressible.
If you study any of the scriptures related to this type of practice, the scriptures do not make sense. The practitioners sometimes seem crazy, the way they behave and the way they talk, because they are talking like Zen koans. We do not understand Zen Koans, right? “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” Because that Koan relates to this type of penetrating experience. That is what those Zen techniques are about. It is about reaching that type of comprehension. This technique points at the same thing. Do not intellectualize much, practice it a lot. Study a little bit, but practice it a lot. If you want to feel the right direction, your heart will take you to it.
Audience: To me the extraction alone will represent a separation. When you are watching your thoughts.
Instructor: You are exactly right when you say the extraction produces a duality. That is why you are not suppose to see a difference between thought and thinker in this technique. It is hard to convey, and we are trying to talk about it with the intellect, which always sees with a dualistic view: me and you, myself and a thought. The intellect just works like that. The intellect cannot conceive of a oneness or a unity. In the consciousness, there is unity. The truth, the experience of reality, and the experience of the Being is had when vision is cognizance of unity. That is why I am saying you cannot intellectualize this technique. Even when the Master says, “take from each thought, memory, idea, the best. Take each value from it.” It sounds like a duality there, but from the experience of it, there is not. Again it is something you have to taste.
Audience: In The Revolution of the Dialectic, Samael talks about the state of Pratyahara, as I understand it watching the mind like watching birds in the sky. How are you compare and contrast that. Pratyahara is considered a preliminary stage.
Instructor: Pratyahara is a preliminary stage to this type of technique. Pratyahara is a form of concentration in which there is quietude and silence of the mind, but that quietude is not to the depths; it is more superficial. Pratyahara is like the smooth surface of a river: it looks calm, but the river is still flowing with a lot of energy.
This brings up an important point. When this non-exclusive concentration technique is applied properly, you can arrive at a state of quietude rapidly. But it is easy to get fooled into thinking that it is a deep quietude. In fact, in any concentration practice, once we are concentrating for a little, while we can reach a point where we feel like, “Now this is silence.” That thought proves that it is not real silence of the mind. Also, the excitement you feel, “I am reaching Samadhi, I am almost there.” No, you are not. That is an ego talking, that has desire for samadhi, or desire for “silence of the mind.”
Pratyahara properly stated is concentration that is best related to the middle levels of Shamatha. Pratyahara is not complete, full concentration. If you compare the Hindu yogic model (especially Patanjali’s Ashtanga Yoga) with the Tibetan model (the nine stages of Shamatha), you see that the Hindu stages Pratyahara and dhyana are equivalent to around stages three and four and to seven and eight of Shamatha. Dhyana has different stages or different aspects in the Hindu model. That would correspond to levels eight and some of the formless joys that come above that on the Shamatha model. In other words, these two traditions explain the same thing; they sit side by side.
The technique I am describing about can cut through all the stages, immediately; that is why it can be called a “sudden” or “instant” approach (these words are translated in many ways, nowadays). The approaches of Ashtanga and Shamatha are more gradual. They can be called a “graded” path. That is why the stages of Shamatha are illustrated as a looping path going back and forth. Generally, in traditional settings (like monks, nuns, yogis) the practitioner will work gradually from stage to stage. Maybe in one session you might start with a middle stage of concentration, and then get more concentrated during the same meditation session; little by little, day to day, one strengthens. That is an effective if somewhat slow methodology. The non-exclusive concentration technique on the other hand is rapid, and cuts through everything. Nevertheless, both lead to full concentration, from which one can then use the state of consciousness to do the real work, which is to comprehend and eliminate the ego (desires).
There is something I would like to point out about the way Samael Aun Weor has taught meditation. I have a little bit, a tiny bit of experience studying other traditions, a small amount, but enough to know the taste and flavor of different traditions. I had that before I studied Samael Aun Weor. Now that I have had some time studying Samael Aun Weor, it is expressly clear to me that he is a Dzogchen Master, meaning a Lama skilled in the highest teachings of Tibetan Buddhism. This is evident in the way he teaches, both in his writings and personally. He cuts through all the lower levels. He provides beautiful teachings, but he never gives it intellectually, like, “First you have to do this, and then you have to do this, and then you have to do this.” His students have tried to add that to the tradition, because naturally they are not at his level. Students want a graded series of steps that everyone should follow along. But Samael Aun Weor, a great master, knows that every student is in a different place and his goal — according to my understanding — is to get them to the point that they can work with this type of technique. He is constantly talking about this technique. When you study the books and you start practicing this technique and you start looking around at all of his writings, he is always writing about this. He never puts a name on it, and says explicitly “now I am going to talk about this.” He does not write that way; he writes intuitively. When you read his writings intuitively, you realize all of this writings are about this technique, but the student has to reach that point where they can practice it to get the fruit. Be aware of that when you are studying the writings of Samael. He is not an easy writer, he is not an easy teacher to follow, because he writes and presents the teaching in a very intuitive way, and I think intentionally: it is denying the intellect. All of us want things in a very intellectual: “A and then B and then C and then D.” He never gives the teachings to us like that. It is the students who want to do that. “Let us organize all of the teachings in order.” What order? According to who? We need to understand that about these teachings.
The intellect is the problem. We cannot indulge it. We need to learn how to study, to read, and to practice with the heart. Practice more and read less. Practice more and memorize less. Practice more and believe less. We need to experience, and it comes from practice.
Audience: If Samael is trying to get everyone to work with this technique my question is, what is this technique for? We do analytical, and retrospection so why do we do it?
Instructor: It is for comprehension. The other practices that we work with — all of them: transmutation, mantras, vocalizing, runic practices, rejuvenation practices, magical practices, everything — has one purpose: to strengthen the consciousness so that we can understand ourselves. Right? We understand that. That is the goal. Our goal is comprehension. Understanding, insight, a way to penetrate into what is real and experience it and know it and to comprehend our karma and change our karma. Every technique is for that. This practice harnesses all of that and synthesizes it in one inexpressibly beautiful sophisticated tool.
The way it works is synthesis is this. The way the master explained it, when you sit and work with this practice, you observe everything that comes to the mind. Everything that emerges, we watch. This is not an intellectual practice. This is not the intellect saying through thoughts, “Okay, now I see a thought coming about my car. I am thinking about my car.” No, that is not the practice. When you are cognizant, attentive, aware, there is no need for thought. When you are consciously watching, you are not thinking, but intuition is active. Intuitively, you can see the nature the reality of everything that emerges in you. As beginners, it is going to be weak. We may not understand what we sense, but we can sense it. We can sense the thoughts, the feelings, we can sense the sensations. We can start to strengthen and solidify our ability to maintain our cognizance, once that cognizance becomes stable, meaning that we are able to maintain this type of exercise.
It is so hard to put into words what it can do. It is literally like dynamite blowing apart a mountain. The consciousness has the innate ability to penetrate into things and to understand them. This is why he explained the word wisdom, from vis-dom, which means the ability to penetrate into something. Vishnu is related to that. The ability to penetrate. To enter into something. To open it up and see what it is. It is not intellectual, it is conscious.
When we are always talking about we need comprehension, this is it. When a given element arises in the mind, and you are poised in this attentive concentrated state at a given moment, maybe not today, but at some point in this practice you will soon be seeing and understanding things about that surging element. You will have comprehension. It may come as a vision, it might come as a voice, a sound or an image, it may be that you go out of your body into another dimension. It may come as a memory. It is very difficult to put in words how it will emerge, but it will come as intuitive knowledge. That is the point. That is how we grasp and understand things about ourselves. Not on the intellectual level, but with the heart.
Audience: You say the result or the outcome potentially… I find that whether I am doing this or not. I am in conversation and it happens in split seconds, right? You will know that this next thing you are going to say is going to have a chain reaction. Where is it going to go? You know that in that split second how everything will be found? If you do say this thing, to me that is what it sounds like in comprehension.
Instructor: Even the ego can do that, because the ego has the powers of the consciousness within it. The ego has the ability to be precognitive. “If I do this, then this and this and this will happen.” The ego can do that, too. That is not what I am talking about. The ego has the powers of consciousness, but conditioned. That is why our ego has the powers of telepathy, prophecy, clairvoyance, clairaudience… You know when all of a sudden images are coming into your mind, and you will see them literally happening after that? Some people call it “deja vu.” That is the ego. We all think it is the Being, but usually it is recurrence, or connections with the egos of others. No, this practice is not quite like that.
The basic point of this practice is to comprehend. Comprehension is conscious, it is not intellectual, and it is not belief.
Let me repeat once more the important detail about this practice that is so essential that you have to constantly, constantly work with it, because our ego is so strong. This practice does not work if you have a sense of self. It does not work. When you sit to meditate, you have to be very cognizant of your own presence. If you feel a sense of self, of “me,” that is ego. That can have many multiples of different forms. That is why the Master is very clear about his instruction. Any sense of duality, myself, and my thoughts, me and my Being, any kind of distinction, any kind of duality will cause the practice to go nowhere.
The best way to work with this practice is to be constantly refreshing your awareness. Constantly refreshing pure cognizance. No thought, no feeling, no emotion, no attachment, no desire. Just being, just watching. Pure watchfulness. You watch what you are watching. This is the purest, simplest, inexpressible technique. In some traditions, they call it “the methodless method.” There is no method. You just sit and watch the natural state of the mind. If you ever studied Padmasambhava, this is the main technique he emphasizes. In all of his scriptures, this is what he taught. “Do not do anything.” Some of them even say “there is no meditation.” How is that going to be received by a beginner like us, if the Master says there is nothing to meditate on? Then we would say, “Okay, I am going to go and have a sandwich now. I am going to go eat because there is nothing to meditate on.” This is how easily we misunderstand. They are talking about while using that technique, that practice, there is nothing to meditate on; one just observes, and expands observation.
The Master Samael said that as long as we see a difference between thought and thinker, we cannot experience the truth. We think, “Here I am, and here come these thoughts.” Our point of view is wrong. This is very hard for the intellect to grasp. The intellect will never get it. Do not try to get it intellectually. Practice it. Work with it. I will try to help you, I do not have a lot of experience, but I will try to help you.
Audience: I thought all of my life until now to have this separation, knowing that when I work on ego that I know that ego is suffering, but to finally get that who is really suffering right now I am letting go of all this separation. I thought and emphasized separation all of the time.
Instructor: Let’s make something clear here. Samael Aun Weor points this out repeatedly throughout his writings that when we are here, terrestrially, physically, when we are beginners like we are, we really need to understand these distinctions. One thing is the Being and the other thing is the ego. We need to understand that. This is why we study the teaching. We need to understand that “I” am not the Being. “I” do not have the Being. “I” am here with ego: pride, lust, envy, and all of that stuff, but the Being is not that. Clearly, we are making a separation. We need to understand that; it is important. The problem becomes when that sense of separation becomes our point of view. That is why the Master said many times, “We should never separate inferior I from the superior I.” Remember that? He says it all of the time. Who are those two I’s? Here I am that inferior I, and here is that superior I, my Being. Right? There are some groups who say the superior I is me, my Being, who is my real me, my real Self, and that inferior I is what I am tying to get rid of. Intellectually, that sounds right. The problem is the ego takes that and uses it as a tool to keep the consciousness asleep. This is a form of duality that is a lie; it is not true. This is why it is so difficult to put this in words and explain it, because it is not intellectual. What we are describing here is something we have to experience. From the top level of the teaching, there is no distinction between myself and my Being. There is no distinction between thinker and thought, from that perspective, but we do not have that perspective. In the beginning, we work to try to understand that “I am not the ego, my Being is not the ego, what am I going to do? I have to figure these things out.” When you enter the meditation practice you are trying to fuse yourself with the truth. Right? To understand the truth, to experience the truth, and from that point of view there is no distinction. Hard to follow, right? It is hard to follow. That is why I am emphasizing again, again: practice, practice, practice. It is through a lot of meditation practice that these things become very clear. It is no longer muddy and confusing and contradictory. The teachings become very clear, but the intellect cannot do reach it. It is something we have to grasp with the consciousness.