This is a transcription of the audio lecture Gnosis of Buddha Dharma 03 Suffering and Right View originally given live on Gnostic Radio, which you can download for free.
Many students struggle when they begin to study the Gnostic teachings, because the scope of this wisdom is vast and very deep. This is because the presentation of Gnosis, such as is given in the series of lectures that we have been delivering to you, always comes from the point of view of the Absolute. So when we give a lecture here, we begin by discussing the Absolute or that profound Unknowable. We see that symbolized in the Tree of Life, at the very top of the Tree, as the Ain and the Ain Soph and the Ain Soph Aur. That Absolute Abstract Nothingness is at the base of everything - yet it is not any thing that we can understand with the intellect. So when we discuss Gnosis, we always start there. And many students complain; many students have a difficult time understanding why we have to study the Absolute. They ask, "Why do we study something that is unstudy-able, why do we analyze something that is unknowable?" And this is a good question. This demonstrates the willingness of the student to investigate, to not merely accept, but to comprehend, to understand.
Clearly, the Absolute, or what in Buddhism is called Emptiness or Void, is a central aspect of every religion. We find that same phenomena - or that same non-phenomena - in every mystical tradition, symbolized in different ways. So it is a core aspect of any kind of religious or mystical approach to life. In particular, when you study Buddhism, you understand that Emptiness is the very foundation of Buddhism. And it seems that many students of Buddhism do not fully understand that. Many followers of the Buddha make Buddhism into an "ism", or a way of behaving, a way of believing. And that is not what real Buddhism is.
Christianity is treated in the same way when it becomes a mere belief, like any other "ism" - a way of thinking and a way of seeing, which is not based in experience.
The Absolute, the Unmanifested, the primordial root, is the core of both of these traditions, but it is much easier to see when you study Buddhism, because in Christianity it is more heavily veiled. The Buddha Shakyamuni taught his doctrine on many levels according to the levels of the listener. But universally in the varying levels of teachings that he gave, he always taught the inherent Emptiness of everything. That is the root and core of Buddhism itself: Emptiness, the Void. So in the same way, in Gnosis we always discuss the Absolute, and we always have to bear it in mind when we study.
The Four Noble Truths
One of the core elements of Buddhism is the Four Noble Truths. These Four Noble Truths encapsulate the Path itself. And in one of the sutras we read this verse,
"It is through not understanding, not realizing four things, that I, disciples, as well as you, had to wander so long through this round of rebirths. And what are these four things? They are the Noble Truth of Suffering, the Noble Truth of the Origin of Suffering, the Noble Truth of the Extinction of Suffering, and the Noble Truth of the Path that leads to the extinction of suffering."
These Four Noble Truths provide the essential foundation upon which you have to understand Gnosis.
The First Noble Truth tells us that suffering is everywhere: that all manifest creatures suffer, life itself is suffering, life as we know it. And that is a universal truth for all beings, for all creatures. The comprehension of that one truth would cause radical changes in our every moment, in our every behavior, but we do not comprehend that truth, so we have to precede and understand what that truth means and how to change it.
By investigating that, we are looking at the second truth, which is the origin of suffering. We have to investigate what is that origin, how does suffering arise, where does it come from?
Thirdly, if we are seeking the origin, we must in turn be seeking the end, or the extinction, the cessation of suffering.
To find the cessation of suffering there must be a way, and that is the fourth truth, that path.
Types of Suffering
When we look at suffering itself, to investigate what suffering means, we will find that all suffering can be classified according to three types.
There is firstly what in Buddhism they call "the suffering of suffering." And this is just pain: physical, emotional, and mental; the type of pain that is very easy to see, the type of pain that we all know from the having of illness, uncertainty, doubt, lack of food, lack of love. These all produce the suffering of suffering.
We have a second type, which is the suffering of change. This type is a little subtle. The suffering of change is that suffering of impermanence. We feel hungry, so we eat. But soon we will be hungry again, and will suffer. And that is the suffering of change.
In the west, actually all over the world now, this type of suffering is very stimulated by our culture, because we suffer due to not having something that we want. We want to have a nice car, and because we don't have that, instead we have an old car, we suffer. We suffer emotionally, we may suffer physically, maybe the car is uncomfortable, maybe it is painful to ride in, maybe it is costing us a lot of money, and so we suffer having to work to maintain that car, and we suffer because we want a better one. But the nature of the suffering of change is that we may achieve getting a nicer car and we will be happy, for a few minutes, but of course we know that after a short period of time that new car will cause us to suffer in new ways, and we will not be happy anymore.
We may want a new job, the job that we have made us happy for a while, and then new circumstances arise, new causes and new conditions, and causes us to suffer in a different way. So of course that makes us want a different job, and so we run like a hamster in a wheel from suffering to suffering.
Unfortunately, the psyche that we have believes that somehow at that horizon line that we see up ahead, there is this plateau where suffering will cease, where we will get all of the objects and circumstances that we need in order to have happiness. And so we keep running towards that horizon line, which we think is a plateau, and we keep saying to ourselves, "If I can only get a better job, if I can only get a better boss, if I can only get a better apartment, or a better spouse, or a better friend, better clothes, more money, more respect. Once I get that promotion, then I will be happy."
This is what we call a delusion, it is not real. This delusion is produced by what we call the I, the ego, the sense of self.
The suffering of change is experienced by all beings; all creatures suffer from this form of suffering.
We believe that with the application of religion, of beliefs, of theories, of ideas, of material wealth, that we can reduce or eliminate these two forms of suffering. But every time we acquire one of our desires or goals, we find that we are still suffering: that is the suffering of change.
We believe that if we adopt a right lifestyle, the right religion, a right education, the right friends, the right relationships, then by accumulating those things we will transcend the suffering of suffering and the suffering of change. And yet, there is absolutely no evidence that it is achievable.
There is no person who exists or who has ever existed, who has transcended suffering by the accumulation of beliefs or material pleasures. Such a person does not exist.
There is a third type of suffering, which is the suffering of conditioning. This is the cause of the first two forms of suffering. We are conditioned by our own mind. The consciousness that we have is trapped within psychological elements, and as such that consciousness is conditioned by those elements to think and feel according to that conditioning. The consciousness that is trapped inside the egos of envy is conditioned to think and feel that, "If I can get what that other person has, then I will be happy." Likewise with all the other elements in our mind: pride, anger, fear, lust, gluttony, greed, hatred, etc. Each one is a form of conditioning that projects a delusional view of life. In other words, our consciousness is trapped - conditioned - by these elements.
This is the suffering of conditioning. 97% of our consciousness is trapped within the suffering of conditioning. And because we believe in the conditioning of our own consciousness, we accept that conditioning and we listen to it, we in turn suffer the suffering of change and the suffering of suffering.
The Four Noble Truths express the existence of these types of suffering. But those Four Noble Truths also explain that there is a way in order to overcome suffering, to change, to investigate the origin of suffering and to find the way to end suffering, to have the cessation of suffering. And that way is the fourth truth, which is the Path.
That cessation, or end of suffering, is given the label, or term, "Nirvana." This simply means "liberation from suffering," but in specific terms it means the liberation from the conditioning of the subjective psyche. So Nirvana is entered into in levels.
Nirvana is a term that is also used for a place, or a collection of places, but in the context of our psychological state, Nirvana refers to a state of consciousness, within which the consciousness itself is being freed from conditioning. Nirvana in that way does not merely refer to those first two types of suffering. To achieve Nirvana does not mean that we simply achieve the cessation of physical pain and the cessation of the suffering of change, which means that we may have belonged to a religion or a belief or have the idea that by performing certain kinds of practices we will enter Nirvana. This is fundamentally false.
Nirvana is a state of consciousness, and the entrance into Nirvana within oneself requires that one overcomes that third type of suffering, which is conditioning. To change the conditioning of ones own mind is a conscious process that requires conscious understanding of the conditioning itself. That conditioning can only be changed when you know what it is, when you know how you are conditioned and why. Only knowing the how and why can you not repeat a mistake. So in order to not repeat our mistakes, to not suffer the way that we suffer, we have to investigate the cause of suffering within ourselves, to find out what in us produces the suffering that we have.
This requires a very practical, very grounded, very sincere approach. The most basic tool that we need to apply is the understanding that everything that exists is based on causes and conditions. Now again, this seems very logical, seems very simple, so we say to ourselves, "Well I understand that, everything exists because of causes...", and then we forget about it. It is not that simple; this is not something that you can just think for a moment in your intellect. If it were, we would all be liberated from suffering as soon we heard of this idea.
To investigate the cause of suffering is to investigate from moment to moment, consciously, until we reach the end of suffering. To have comprehension or real understanding is beyond the intellect, and it is beyond any thought: it is a real understanding that exists within your very atoms, in the depths of your Being.
Now, understanding that everything depends on causes, if we understand that idea intellectually, then we have to take that a step further and say, "I myself, as I am now, am here because of causes, so what are those causes? What caused me to be who I am?" To answer that question requires sincerity, it requires honesty, and it requires investigation.
All manifested entities, from the tiny atom to the expansive universe, are manifest because of causes and conditions. There is nothing that exists in and of itself. Everything depends on other things. So you may say, "Well, here I am in my body," then we have to investigate that: the body that you have exists because of causes and conditions. Firstly, it exists because you have a mother and a father, and because of causes and conditions which brought them together, and causes and conditions which allowed a birth to occur, and allowed you to be born, and to grow and to develop. We see in that brief examination millions of causes and conditions, which are inconceivable to the intellect.
But even in this moment there are causes and conditions that support your very existence: the stability of matter in the physical world being the first one. If physical matter would not manifest, your physical body would not be here. If you were not able to eat and get food, you would not be here. So there are many causes and conditions, which in their combination give rise to this physical body that you have. This is important, because it demonstrates that the physical body cannot exist on its own; it is impossible: it cannot exist as an isolated entity. And this is true of everything. Nothing can exist without anything else. Because of that, we study the Law of Karma.
Cause and Effect
"Karman" is a Sanskrit term, which means "act." Karma is the Law of Action and Consequence; it is a law that manages energy and matter on every level that exists.
Now, it is interesting to compare this with materialistic science, or physics. Nature works in series of laws, and these laws apply in varying levels of life, and that is why we study the Kabbalah, the Tree of Life.
Mechanical physics has been examining the nature of physical matter, and they have discovered that there is a certain law that manages energy, and they call this a law of Conservation or Invariance. This is an important law in physics, and it reflects a law that exists on every level of life. Invariance is really another word that explains the Law of Karma. And this Law of Conservation, in physics, basically says this:
"In any physical process, the total energy before must equal the total energy after the process is concluded."
What that is saying is that if you have a given quantity of energy, let's say "one hundred units," and then a physical process occurs, at the end of that process nature will equilibrate the energy so that it will be exactly the same at the end. We can see this quite clearly if we look at the action of waves on water: If you take a body of water and you apply a wind, or some kind of energy to that water, waves will be produced, they will rise and sink, but in the end the water will reach the exact level at which it began. This is a physical demonstration of the Law of Karma. What that tells us is that every action that we perform must be balanced, and it will be balanced by the laws of manifestation, by the laws of nature. Here then we find the law of causes. We are who we are, because of causes that we ourselves have produced.
As Blavatsky said, "Karma creates nothing." This is a very important statement:
"Karma creates nothing, nor does it design. Karmic law adjusts the effects; the adjustment is not an act, but a universal harmony tending ever to resume its original position, like a bough, which bent down too forcibly rebounds with corresponding vigor."
"Karma creates nothing."
We are the ones who create: action and consequence.
So then, when we investigate suffering, we have to investigate the causes that we ourselves have produced. And there are two primary types of causes: One of course is our own action, both physical and internal, and in the second is delusion.
It is clear that if we act in an angry way, we will produce causes, and that anger will produce consequences: those actions will produce results. In Buddhism, the Buddha taught very clearly, that when any person acts, either physically or mentally or emotionally, when an action is performed, that person creates an imprint on their own consciousness. It is the energy of consciousness within which provides the fuel or force for that action. When that action is performed, there is an imprint or a residue of that action. And that imprint is the balancing factor in that Law of Invariance, the Law of Karma. So the consciousness itself becomes conditioned. That conditioning is called skandhas, or aggregates, or egos, I's. The consciousness becomes trapped within the conditioning of that action, and then that consciousness must receive the consequences of that action.
We see that in physical matter, when you take action, the effect is generally immediate. But in chemical matter, you combine certain chemicals, the effect may not be immediate, it may be slow in arising. And this is even more true of actions that are performed emotionally and mentally; we are dealing with more subtle forms of energy, and so the consequences of those actions may be slower to arise.
Furthermore, the conditions must exist for those causes to manifest. Causes and conditions are at the root of all manifestation. All the causes may be present, but if the conditions are not ripe, the action or the consequence cannot arise. You may have a match and a matchbox, but if you don't strike them together, a fire can not be produced. In the same way, you can strike them together, but if the match is wet, that is if the conditions are not ripe, fire will not be produced. Karma is the same.
Causes, which are latent within the consciousness, reside there waiting the moment for the consequences to be appropriate for those consequences to manifest, so that the energy can be balanced. Liberation comes when all causes are exhausted.
There was a teacher of Buddhism in India, whose name was Nagarjuna, and he said,
You are liberated when your delusions and contaminated karmic actions are exhausted.
That is the basis of liberation.
Liberation does not come because of what we believe. We can believe whatever we like, but a car does not fly; causes and conditions prevent that. We can believe whatever we like, but liberation comes when karmic causes and delusions are exhausted, meaning they are removed. We can read all the books that we want, we can fill our minds with theories, ideas, but ultimately this alone cannot produce change. Action produces change; ideas are just ideas.
What produces change is the removal of causes and karmic conditions. We have to understand that any situation that we go through is a result of our own creation, our own actions: any situation we face, every moment we experience, has arisen because of our own actions. We are what we are because of what we have done, and what we do now is setting up the causes and conditions for what we will become.
So the student is encouraged to be very sincere and analyze action, every moment, to learn how to act in the right way, how to think in the right way.
The basis upon which we change is by comprehension of our own action. Most of the time, when things go wrong, when we are suffering, we have physical pain or we have emotional pain, we blame someone else. "My boss is terrible, my co-workers are crazy, they make too many demands of me, it is an unhealthy environment, they are plotting against me, they are manipulating me, they are using me, my boss is too proud, he is too angry, she is too manipulative, she takes me for granted." We say all these things of our spouse, of our friends, of our co-workers, all the while we maintain our self image as pure and separate. That is a delusion. And that is one of the causes of suffering.
When we see ourselves as pure and separate, it is because we have pride, and because we are not being sincere. The basis upon which we can change is to become sincere, and to look honestly at how we ourselves have created that situation, and to never blame anyone else. We are the creators of our own destiny. We become what we think, what we feel, and how we act.
Now, all suffering that we experience is arising because of the conditioning of the consciousness. The consciousness itself is trapped within these karmic elements. So the basis upon which we can change our suffering is within the consciousness itself. We have to look at the use and function of the consciousness in us from moment to moment, to learn to use it in the right way, and then we can learn to change suffering. Changes made in the intellect have no impact. Changes made in the emotional center have little impact. Today we may believe very much in Gnosis, but tomorrow we won't, just as last year we didn't.
Where do we see real change? Do we see real change in our suffering because of beliefs, because of ideas, because of theories? Even as our beliefs change throughout life, do we still remain victims of uncertain circumstances, death, illness, doubt, uncertainty, anger?
Ideas and beliefs are very limited in their effectiveness. We have to change instead our way of perception. To change how we perceive is extremely difficult, but that is the nature of the Path itself.
The way we change our suffering begins with how we perceive. The mind that we have is a collection of delusion: it is pride, and anger, and envy, and fear, gluttony, resentment, jealousy, and each one of those elements has consciousness trapped within it, and the consciousness trapped within perceives, but through a distorted lens: and that is delusion. To learn to perceive without the distortion of the ego is the method of liberation.
We have to learn how to liberate the consciousness from the ego, right now, not in the future, not when another Buddha comes, not when another so-called "Savior" comes, not when we have more money, or we have more time. Now. The only thing that exists is this moment: there is no future. Where is it? Can you show it to me? Can you show me the past? They do not exist. The only thing that exists is now. If you do not work to liberate yourself now, you never will. Don't suffer from the disease of tomorrow; learn how to perceive now, to perceive without delusion.
This perception requires that we extract the free consciousness and learn how to use it. Fortunately for us, we still have some free consciousness, we still have a seed, an element inside of us, which can produce the causes for liberation.
The mind cannot produce the causes for liberation, the mind, the ego in other words, can only produce suffering. If you take Gnosis into your mind, into your intellect, and leave it there, you will create more suffering for yourself and for others. If you take the wisdom of the Buddhas and the Angels and the Prophets, and you store it in your mind and leave it there, you will create suffering, because that is all the mind can do.
To create the causes and conditions for liberation, those wisdom teachings must be taken into the consciousness, the free consciousness; what in other words we call the essence, the buddhata, the tathagatagarbha: that is the Buddha-nature, the seed or the embryo of the soul.
Everyone has Buddha-nature, but that does not mean that everyone is a Buddha; it means that everyone has the capacity to become a Buddha, and a Buddha means "an awakened one." Everyone has the capacity to become awakened, not from the mind, but from the essence, from the consciousness.
That which one feels in the deepest part of ones own Being is the only thing that can experience that directly, is the only thing that does not suffer. That which suffers in us is that which is trapped in the Wheel of Samsara. That which does not suffer is on the other side of the river, and that is called the Being; the essence is a part of the Being. To escape and transcend suffering is to step towards the other side of the river and to abandon all concept of "I."
The truth of the path to the cessation of suffering involves the development of a very refined state of consciousness. This state of consciousness is the wisdom of Emptiness, the wisdom of the Absolute. The development of this state of consciousness is approached by the comprehension of the Absolute, and that is why we always talk about it.
The Buddha taught what is called the Middle Way. The main reason or the main definition of the Middle Path or Middle Way has to do with perception. Many people interpret it as having to do with being in the middle of renunciation and great wealth, and it is true it has that application, but only on a superficial level. The ultimate level of the term Middle Way, or Middle Path, refers to how we perceive.
In Tibet there are two primary terms that are used to describe certain practices, which one learns and practices in order to reach that form of perception. And these two terms are: Mahamudra and Dzogchen. Mahamudra means "The Great Seal" in Sanskrit. Mahamudra is a type of meditation, a type of practice, that members of the Kagyu and Gelug sects in Tibetan Buddhism practice in order to understand Emptiness. In the Nyingmapa school they practice Dzogchen, which is the same thing; it means "The Great Perfection" in Tibetan.
Many people hear of these practices just as they hear of Gnosis, and they hear that these teachings are a quick and easy way to reach enlightenment, and that by practicing Gnosis and practicing Dzogchen and Mahamudra, they can realize and become self-liberated in one lifetime. And that is true, but the misconception is that they think it is easy. And they think it can be done without meditation; this is not true.
Neither the Buddha, nor Samael Aun Weor, nor Jesus, nor Krishna came to teach that you can do a couple of rituals and pray a couple of mantras and ring some bells and you will be liberated. None of them taught that. Every one of them taught that the Path is extremely difficult.
Jesus did not come to simply say that we need to believe in him to be free. If that were really the case, then why not just say it and leave it at that? But nowhere in the Gospels did he say that, instead he said we have to be perfect. He said that very clearly, we have to be perfect. And one does not reach perfection through a belief, one reaches perfection through action. He taught instead that we have to work on ourselves and remove all imperfection from within our minds. But unfortunately, many people who claim to follow his teachings ignore that.
Likewise in Gnosis, there are many Gnostics who believe that they can reach Self-realization without studying the Kabbalah, they believe they can reach Self-realization without learning how to meditate, and unfortunately, they are mistaken. The Kabbalah is the language of the teachings themselves. How can you understand the teaching, if you do not speak the language?
The Absolute is the primordial ground from which all creation manifests. How can you understand creation, if you do not understand its basis? How can you understand Gnosis, if you do not understand the Absolute? You cannot.
You have to work to comprehend, to understand, intuitively, what it means, what is Emptiness, what is the Absolute. This understanding is beyond the intellect. The Absolute itself is beyond the mind, it is beyond the self, it is beyond the personality, it is beyond the Being; your intellect can never approach it, so how can you expect to approach Gnosis through your intellect? You cannot.
You can prepare yourself, you can learn, but the true comprehension of life comes through meditation, through comprehension.
In meditation, we learn to activate the consciousness itself, and to use it as a tool, as a means of communication, as a means of understanding, which is beyond the mind. The Buddha said,
"Through mindfulness we experience inter-being, which means everything is in everything else. Therefore one should know that perfect understanding is embodied in a great mantra, the highest mantra, the unequal mantra, the destroyer of all suffering, the incorruptible truth, and this mantra is: Gate Gate Para-Gate Para-Sam-Gate Bodhi Swaha ."
This mantra is from a work commonly called "the heart sutra." It is really the Prajnaparamita sutra. "Gate" means gone, which means gone from suffering, or in other words liberation, gone from forgetfulness or ignorance into wisdom, to understanding. Gone from duality into non-duality. "Para-Gate" means "Gone all the way to the other shore," so this mantra is a magical phrase, which means that we have to go beyond ourselves, beyond the mind, beyond the intellect. "Para-Sam-Gate" means everyone, all beings. "Bodhi" is the light inside, or the wisdom, enlightenment. And "Swaha" is a cry of joy or excitement. So, "Gone, gone, gone all the way over, everyone, gone to the other shore, enlightenment, halleluja!" is the meaning of the mantra.
This is a mantra of profound compassion, but it is a mantra that is used by Buddhists the world over in order to comprehend Emptiness; to comprehend that nothing exists in and of itself and that all existing things are inherently empty. What is in all existing things is the Absolute. This mantra is used in meditation and from moment to moment throughout the day in order to soak the mind, to soak the heart, to envelop the consciousness with the energy of this mantra.
In the sutra, the mantra is spoken by Avalokiteshvara, who is the Cosmic Christ, whose existence is on behalf of all beings, due to compassion. So the use of this mantra, Gate Gate Para-Gate Para-Sam-Gate Bodhi Swaha, is an indication, a calling out to that wisdom energy of the Christ, in order to help us understand Emptiness, to help us understand that suffering has an end, that suffering in itself has no basis and so we should not be identified.
The way to comprehend suffering is the Fourth Noble Truth, that Path, and the Buddha Shakyamuni taught is a road, a path is a way that we walk, and this path is the way out of suffering, it is the way to transcend suffering inside of oneself, to liberate ones own consciousness, to step outside of the cage that we ourselves created. The Fourth Noble Truth is the Eightfold Path. Those eight steps are often simplified into three groups. This is very commonly taught in Buddhism, these three are: view, meditation and action. These three are one. These three are the Path. You can say that these three are a triangle, in the same way that we visualize and imagine the Logos, the Cosmic Christ as a triangle, its three arms or three points, which make one thing.
The Eightfold Path that the Buddha taught begins with the very first step, which is Right View. In one of the sutras of the Buddha, he says this,
"What is Right View? It is the knowledge of suffering, the knowledge of the origin of suffering, the knowledge of the cessation of suffering and the knowledge of the way of practice leading to the cessation of suffering. This is what is called Right View."
But of course, that is just the Four Noble Truths. The sutra is translated from the language Pali, which is an ancient language of India, and Right View is sammaditthi, and that translates as "seeing things as they really are." And it is a singular term, it is not "right views," because that is not correct. There is one way to see things as they are, and that one way is to see all things from the point of view of Emptiness, of the Absolute. There are no different opinions, there are no different ways to look at things, there is one way, and that is Right View. This has nothing to do with the intellect, it has nothing to do with beliefs, it has nothing to do with whatever school we belong to, whatever religion we like to think about or read about, this has to do with how we perceive the objective truth.
Right View is to learn to see all phenomena as they are. Gnostic students have to challenge themselves to learn how to do that; and believe me: it is very difficult. To see oneself as one really is, is maddeningly difficult, because we are so enveloped in delusion. To see external phenomena as they really are is very difficult to achieve, because we are so trapped in delusion.
This view is not intellectual, it is not emotional, in fact it is not even physical, it is intuitive, it is conscious. To have Right View is to see without filters, to see without delusions, to see without desire; this means that when you are suffering, when you are in pain, when you are facing circumstances that bother you, you have to learn to see those circumstances without the desire to change them.
You have to see them as they are, as they exist, without the desire to alter them, to modify them, to change them or to escape them, and let me tell you: that is hard. Because as soon as we feel pain, we want to change it, we want to escape it, we want to blame somebody else, and we want somebody to fix it for us. To accept the suffering and to see it for what it is requires great willpower and it requires great sincerity. What could be more difficult than that? Well there is something: to do the same thing with pleasant circumstances: to experience any manner of pleasant or enjoyable circumstances without desire, without wanting to keep it, without wanting to extend it or deepen it, without wanting to modify it or adjust it in any way, to see it as it is. This is Right View. And this is the first step of the Eightfold Path. This is only number one. We haven't even gone to number two!
For clarity's sake, let us specify that we are primarily referring to psychological suffering. Clearly, if we are suffering physically, we should do what we can to alleviate that suffering. But when an ego is suffering in our mind, we should not alleviate the suffering of the ego: we should kill that ego.
The first step on the Eightfold Path is obviously very difficult, but is something we can begin now, in every moment: to learn to perceive all phenomena without desire. In Gnosis we have a fancy name for that: it is called Self-remembering. Self-observation and Self-remembering are the perception of phenomena without the ego, without desire.
They are the perfection of the transformation of impressions, to receive all the impressions of life, good or bad, pleasant or unpleasant, without filters, without desire, without wanting to change it or adjust it or alter it, just seeing it as it is. This is called the Tao: to be in the Tao.
Now you understand why this Path is called the Middle Way, it is to be in the middle, in between bad and good, pleasant and unpleasant, between the extreme views of any kind.
Another example would be that some people believe that everything that exists is a dream, and other people believe that everything that exists is concretely real. These are two extremes are both wrong. The scriptures tell us: see all phenomena as like a dream. "Like" a dream; the scriptures do not say that everything "is" a dream, it says everything is "like" a dream. And that distinction is really important; you have to understand that subtle emphasis. To see that things are like a dream is true, because everything is dependent on causes and conditions, and everything is impermanent.
When we have a dream, most of the time we wake up and when we remember the dream we say, "Ah, it was just a dream." This is wrong view. A dream in the moment we experience it is real, but it is an experience that is dependent on causes and conditions; obviously we have to be dreaming, we have to be asleep physically, and we have to have a state of consciousness that is receptive to the state of dreaming. But when we are back in our physical body in our day to day life, we don't see any of that, we just say, "It was only a dream." Wrong view!
Life is like that: our life as it is now exists because of causes and conditions. If the causes and conditions were changed, we would not have the life that we have. This is not just an intellectual game: this is critical to understanding Right View. When you can perceive phenomena whether pleasant or unpleasant with the understanding that this phenomena that you are experiencing is firstly impermanent, it will not last, and secondly it is caused by actions that you yourself performed, this means that you yourself can produce new causes which will change that phenomena. That shows you that what you are experiencing is impermanent and can be changed if you know how to act. The understanding and comprehension of that given phenomena, that experience, pleasant or unpleasant, is meditation, it is the analysis with the consciousness of that phenomena. And meditation in that sense is in every moment.
Right View is the way we perceive it. Meditation is how we understand it. Action is how we behave based upon our comprehension. These three are one. They are also eight, because they are the Eightfold Path.
This point of view, this way of seeing, has to be directed primarily at ourselves. We need to use it to understand life as it happens around us, without question, but life as we experience it is unfolding because of who we are. We are here and now because of our past actions, because of Karma. If we want to change that, we have to see who we are, because who we are produced those causes; by seeing who we are, we see the cage that we have trapped ourselves within. That is not enough. We can see the cage, but we have to want to change it; this requires meditation.
Some Gnostic students develop and grow to the point where they can see their ego. And this is a big step, a very important step that many students do not reach; those who reach the direct experience of seeing their own ego have accomplished something very good. But unfortunately, once they see themselves as they really are, many of them walk away from the teachings; they become discouraged, they become overwhelmed, they become identified.
To see the cage is not enough, we have to see the cage and then we have to work to destroy the cage. And again, that relies on application of these three principles of the Path: view, meditation and action. To recognize all phenomena as inherently empty of their own existence is the crucial point of the View, to see that everything that exists is here because of causes and conditions. This is a step towards comprehension and wisdom. The Gnostic student cannot take anything at face value, the Gnostic student has to learn to inquire deeper, to look into causes and conditions.
Hallmarks of Right View
In Buddhism, they say that there are four hallmarks of Correct View.
The first one is that the one who has Correct View sees that all conditioned existence is impermanent. And this is important, because by understanding impermanence we understand that everything changes; this means that the student who sees that their ego is huge, and they are trapped in suffering and they are in trouble, has to remember that this is impermanent, it is possible to change it; walking away and ignoring the teachings and ignoring the truth of ones situation is foolish, and there is no need for that, instead one should realize that this situation can be changed.
The second hallmark of Right View is the understanding that all deluded experiences are suffering. This is also very important; this means that all experiences through the ego are suffering. Now, many things that we experience now we like, we enjoy, and we want more of, but they are deluded experiences, and they will produce suffering. We may really enjoy ice cream, but if we keep eating it and enjoying that experience, it will have negative effects on our health. Likewise, we really enjoy talking to our friends, but misuse of that experience can cause suffering not only for ourselves but for our friends. Every type of experience that we have, has to be analyzed from the point of view of Emptiness, and understood from the point of view of the consciousness.
The third hallmark is the understanding that all phenomena are empty and lack self-identity. This is further and deeper into understanding the nature of causes and conditions. It is the direct knowledge that the ego itself is not real. The psyche that we have is not real: it is lacking real existence. And yet, we protect it, we clutch it, we grasp it, we fight for it; for an illusion, for something that doesn't exist. To develop Correct View is to understand that the ego that we have is not real, the sense of self that we have is not real. To find reality requires that we abandon our sense of self. So long as we clutch and grasp onto who we feel we are, who we think we are, we are clutching and grasping onto a delusion, which causes suffering for us.
The fourth hallmark is the direct knowledge that Nirvana or liberation is true peace. This is a state of consciousness that must be experienced to be understood.
All four of these, if they remain in the intellect, are merely vapor and dust.
Correct View is conscious knowledge, to know that liberation is true peace, is to have experienced it.
To know that the ego is empty of true identity is to have experienced it. To believe it and to think it is fine, but one must work to experience that.
These types of suffering that we have analyzed do not end with death. Yes, all phenomena are impermanent, but the nature of that impermanence is that they will cease to be when their energy is equilibrated. A karmic act will dissolve when its energy is dissolved. A karmic consequence, a karmic debt, is removed when its energy is dissolved. The consciousness that we have, which is trapped within the imprints of previous action, must continue in order to enact and experience the results of those actions.
The death of the physical body is no obstacle for Karma: energy continues, action is energy and it must be fulfilled. Jesus said it, "Not one dot, not one iota will be removed until all of the law is fulfilled."
Consciousness continues even if the body must be replaced. Suffering continues. Suffering continues beyond death, just the same way that day follows night and night follows day. We cannot expect that we will escape the results of our actions; nothing in nature escapes the consequences of action, neither do we.
Death is no obstacle for Karma, but the inverse is also true: liberation and freedom from Karma, freedom from suffering, can be had. The Law says that everyone will receive as he does. What we do produces consequences and we will reap the benefits of that, good or bad. To change our suffering requires right action, conscious action.
So there are two ways to approach suffering, two ways to deal with suffering, and every being that exists chooses one of these two: the first is unconscious. We can deal with our suffering unconsciously, that is: we ignore it, we just wait for death, we take on a belief or an idea, we become a member of a school who promises us a glorious afterlife, if we give them the right kind of money or if we say the right things or believe the right things, then when we die we will be happy for eternity. And this is a very lovely idea, but has no evidence, there is no proof, there are no facts; it is comforting, but it is a lie. We can approach our suffering in this way and just say, "Well, God is in charge, he will handle it." It is true, there is no question that the laws that manage creation will definitely manage creation, and the laws that manage action and consequence will definitely manage them, but what we fail to realize is that the delusion is causing us to deepen our own suffering and to ignore the possibility for true happiness. To suffer unconsciously means to remain within the ego, to sleep psychologically. But if that person continues that way, they deepen their suffering, if they die, they deepen their suffering. Suffering continues as long as the I exists.
The second way to deal with suffering is consciously: by becoming conscious of each moment, and working to become more and more conscious until all conditioning is removed.
I would like to read to you a quote from Samael Aun Weor, which synthesizes this entire lecture.
That which one feels in the deepest part of one's own Being is the only thing that can experience directly that which does not belong to time.
That which suffers on this side of the river, here in the Wheel of Samsara, is what suffers...
That which is on the other side of the river is that which does not belong to time... that is that... and you do not know it.
The Being of the Being is beyond the I, in the Garden of Love, in that which does not belong to time...
The Being of the Being is very far from the body, far from the affections and of the Mind...
What one feels in one's heart, the pain which afflicts one at a given moment, has it's root in time.
That which has nothing to do with time is always on the other side of the river.
Real plenitude, authentic happiness, is found on the other side of the river.
Families arise in time. They are lost in time, they are always subjective, unconscious and suffer much.
Groups of human appear and disappear in time; they are corpses that live.
Those shadows of the past are phantoms, who cry, who project themselves towards the future through the alley of the present.
Many conflicts exist among those shadows of time.
What is behind ourselves in the interior of the interior is the Being...
Only the Being of the Being can experience the Truth directly.
The myself is on this side of the river.
The Being is on the other side of the river.
The myself is what is worth nothing. It is perishable.
The Being is the imperishable, that which is always new.
The myself is complicated, unconscious and painful.
The Being is simple, happy, and conscious.
The myself is a knot that we have to untie.
The Being is perfect plenitude.
The diverse circumstances of life do not exist beyond time.
To feel what one should feel, what nobody understands what is unknown by he who feels what is not worth feeling, is in reality Being awake.
Behind the sentiment that one considers to be so real (which is not real) there is another sentiment that people do not understand.
The authentic happiness of the Being horrifies the Ego...
That which is felt in the Being causes pain to the ego.
The Being and the ego are incompatible. They are like water and oil; they can never mix.
To feel what one should feel is in reality being awake. This is Correct View. To be awake, to have the consciousness active, and present, and analyzing and observing, is to have Correct View, is to see without desire, to see without the will to change phenomena, without the desire to alter phenomena. It sounds like a contradiction, because to change our suffering we have to change our own minds, but to view phenomena without the desire to change them is to view them in the right way. And this is something that can only be understood through action. The intellect will make a mess of your understanding, as long as you leave your teachings in the intellect. The teachings have to be understood intuitively and in action in order for them to make sense.
Questions and Answers
Question: Yes, remember when you said that the consciousness whenever it does something, there is like a recoil with that energy making mental formations .. what happens......
Answer: All action produces consequences, period. All action. The question becomes to act in harmony with nature, to act from the point of view of the action required by the Being. That type of action does not trap the consciousness in suffering. On the other hand, it helps the consciousness to grow.
Question: So the energy that will go into trapping the consciousness goes up and grows instead?
Answer: And that is what happens when we comprehend our own Karma, we comprehend an ego or a defect. That energy, that karmic energy is transformed. And that is why they call Tantra the practice which harnesses the forces of desire, because in reality the method of Tantrism is to comprehend and utilize the energy that is trapped in the ego, to free it and transform it into something good. That is a kind of magic that only the Being can make; only God can do that. But by learning to act according to his will, we become a part of that process of transforming energy in the right way, and that is how we advance in the steps of cosmic evolution. When we act against that will, we act out of self-will or out of delusion, we trap those energies and we create blocks and knots in the flow of existence, and that interrupts not only our own development, but the development of the universe. You get it? It is kind of a big deal, right? You have a question?
Question: Yes, it is about the causes and conditions, so you need certain conditions to arise for that current to play out, but what about telepathic egos that ensure that certain situations are going to occur, is that a Karma itself?
Answer: An ego itself is an imprint, it is a formation in the mind which traps energy, and that energy wants to act, it has to act, because it is energy, it has to move. But that action is adjusted and modified by that conditioning. So what that means is, the energy that is trapped inside of an ego of anger wants to express itself, it can only express as anger, because it is trapped that way, and it will express in accordance with how it was created. So if that anger was a fight that you and I had, and we were both born in new bodies or whatever, the recurrent nature of the structure of that ego will push that energy to act in the same way it was created, more or less the same circumstances in time, so that force and energy will be pushing to create those same conditions in communication with the other elements that were involved with its creation. So it is very sophisticated, and it is all happening without us having any knowledge.
Comment: Right, but we could take that moment and transform it using the same conditions ..
Answer: Exactly, through the application of wisdom, which means, by learning how to have Right View, to meditate on that karmic imprint, we can comprehend how we made that, what is the mistake that we made, and in comprehending that we don't need to repeat it. And in that comprehension comes the right to dissolve that element, which frees that knot in existence and frees us from having to repeat that circumstance, which is a big deal. Unfortunately, we have a lot of those.
Question: When you talk about meditating on Emptiness, I don't understand what that Emptiness is.
Answer: Emptiness is the Absolute in its root, and it is that ground from which everything arises, it is the Nothingness from which something comes. And when we talk about meditating on Emptiness, what we are talking about is how in its root all phenomena are resolved back to that ground, to that Emptiness. And that sounds like, "Oh yeah that is an interesting idea, but what does that mean? How do I make that practical?" It is made practical from looking at things from the point of view of where you are now. And where you are now is you are dealing with suffering, you have a situation or a problem that you need to resolve. If you approach that problem as if it were an isolated thing, you cannot fix it. You have to learn to comprehend that element, that situation, is dependent on causes and conditions, which is like a web. That web itself, each element depends on all the other elements, so in and of themselves none of them really exist, and in meditation that becomes a very important point. The reason we suffer is because we are attached, we have desire, we are attached to our sense of self. We have this I that we believe is real, and when that I is contradicted with painful circumstances, we suffer. When we realize that not only the situation isn't real and it is impermanent, but our own sense of self is not real and is impermanent, then suffering is no longer a problem. The key there is: the consciousness can become separated from that event. When you realize that, you no longer need to be identified with the situation or with your self, and that puts you in a point of view or position from which you can comprehend the true nature of that situation. You see where I am going with this? It is subtle, but it is absolutely critical. That point of view is Right View. Myself does not exist, the situation does not exist; it exists conventionally, we know we are all here, I know that this physical body is here and it is real and it exists, but it only exists because of causes and conditions, so why be attached? What in me is permanent? What in me is unchanging? The consciousness, in its root, is that. So meditating on Emptiness, meditating on impermanence, meditating on death, meditating on Karma all point back towards that same thing, which is the Being. We need to learn to access and experience the Being from moment to moment, all the time, and that is Right View. And from that view we can then properly and in balance interact with manifestation, and not create Karma. Kind of a long answer! Do you understand the point that I am getting at? Emptiness is something that is very difficult to grasp with the intellect, it is something that you have to understand intuitively, and the understanding of that can only come when you meditate. Meditating and meditating and meditating and then you start to grasp, "Ohhh..." It is actually simple. It is that middle view, which is like a .. i don't know how to put words, it is difficult... any other questions?
Question: How do you really access the consciousness to give you that Right View in a certain moment?
Answer: That is something that you have to discover in yourself. The consciousness is the root of your ability to perceive, and that is something that only you can activate and understand.