This is a transcription of the audio lecture Gnosis of Buddha Dharma 02 The Method of Gnostic Dharma originally given live on Gnostic Radio, which you can download for free.

The methodology of the Gnostic Dharma is based in practical science. To understand what the Gnostic Dharma is we have to understand the meaning of the words.

Dharma धर्म is from Sanskrit and carries many meanings. It can be interpreted as law or truth. The word Dharma can be used to describe the way something works in its fundamental basis. Dharma is an essential truth, the essential nature of how phenomena occurs. This is the root meaning that we are most interested in. It is the use of the word Dharma in relationship with truth, or how reality actually comes to be, is sustained, and is understood.

Of course, we also use the word Dharma to talk about the nature of the teachings. So you will often hear about "the Dharma" in reference to any teaching that is grounded in the practical use of the Consciousness. That leads us to arrive at our own personal experience, our own direct conscious knowledge of the way reality truly is. And this is where we arrive to this word "Gnostic."

"Gnostic" comes from a Greek word, and the basis of this word is "knowledge." This is where we get the word knowledge from: Gnosis. But knowledge in this case is not just intellectual knowledge or emotional knowledge (something we might believe in). It is instead the kind of knowledge that we acquire consciously, through our own experience.

A simple example of a form of Gnostic knowledge that all of us have is our knowledge about the law of gravity. All of us have experience with the law of gravity. When we are growing up as children we learn how to manipulate and control our physical body in relationship with the law of gravity. We don't understand gravity intellectually until a little bit later in life. But consciously, experientially, we learn how to negotiate and work with the law of gravity when we learn how to walk, when we learn how to run, to jump, to play. Those experiences are Gnostic in the sense that it is from our own experience that we learn how the law of gravity functions. It is not necessary for us to learn about gravity intellectually, although later when we do so it helps us.

So when we talk about Gnostic Dharma, we are talking about the acquisition of personal experience, but in relation with our own psychology, in relation with how the planet functions, how life is, the truth of all the mysteries of life and death, and the practical facts of how life and death move and flow.

The Gnostic Dharma is a science of practical knowledge that must be experienced to be understood. In order for us to really understand what Dharma is, and what Gnosis is, we have to practice. That is why we talk about practical teachings, practical methods that we ourselves can use.  The Gnostic Dharma does not exist just for us to think about it or to theorize about it, or to believe in it, but to use it: to experiment. And that experimentation is something that we have to do inside, in our own mind, in our own heart, in our own Consciousness.

When you look at the Dharma or the teachings from this point of view, you can understand that if a sincere person is really applying the variety of Gnostic techniques in him or herself, practically, really working with them, then it does not matter what they believe. It does not matter where they are from or who they are. Anyone can experiment with Gnosis, with Dharma, and arrive at similar conclusions, because the truth is universal.

Just the same way, on whatever part of the planet a child is born, when they start to grow they will universally experience the law of gravity. Every child who is born and begins to grow has to learn to work with that law, to learn to control their physical body in relationship with that law, and this is universal.

But there are additional laws, other phenomena in nature, that are also universal, that any person, anywhere, any time, can learn how to work with, consciously, in order to navigate their life in a better way. So, this is the point. Gnostic Dharma rests upon this basis.

The Law

Life is very challenging; life is very difficult. In Buddhism, the first truth taught by the Buddha is "There is suffering."

"Friends, there are four truths: the existence of suffering, the cause of suffering, the cessation of suffering, and the path which leads to the cessation of suffering. I call these the Four Noble Truths. The first is the existence of suffering. Birth, old age, sickness, and death are suffering. Sadness, anger, jealousy, worry, anxiety, fear, and despair are suffering. Separation from loved ones is suffering. Association with those you hate is suffering. Desire, attachment, and clinging to the five aggregates are suffering." - Buddha Shakyamuni, Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta (The Discourse That Sets Turning the Wheel of Truth)

At first glance, this can sound very bleak, very morbid, or very depressing. But, when you look deeper into that noble truth, what the Buddha taught, you can see that actually there is a great deal of beauty and hope in those noble truths.  What he taught was, "There is suffering so long as we do not work on ourselves." Yes, there is suffering, but there is a way out of suffering. That way is called Dharma.

When we learn how to actually acquire our own Gnosis, our own direct experience of the laws that govern existence, then we can begin to transcend suffering; then, happiness becomes our way of being. You can see this in any highly realized individual. They naturally radiate happiness, peacefulness, serenity, joy. For them, life has changed, and it is not because they changed something outside of themselves, it is because they changed themselves. They changed their attitude to life. This is the nature of any real Dharma, any real Gnosis. It leads the sincere practitioner towards true peace of mind.

Unfortunately, because of the mind that we have, we misunderstand this. We tend to hear about religion, or about mysticism, or about Dharma, and we take it in as a belief or as a theory.

As an illustration of that tendency, there is a story from Buddhism that relates the true nature of Dharma, or Gnosis.

The story goes that the Buddha Shakyamuni arrived at in particular area of India to give his teachings and by this time his reputation was widespread of his being a great, holy person, someone that may even have powers. So among the local people a person died and the relatives were very distressed and upset about the death of their beloved. So this family came to see the Buddha.

With their hearts filled with pain, they came to entreat him, to beg him, to intercede on their behalf, and asked Buddha to pray for their dead relative and ensure that his soul would enter heaven.

The Buddha saw their suffering and their pain and said, "I will help you. Go and get a big jar, and put within it some rocks and ghee." If you don't know already, "ghee" is clarified butter.

So with great happiness they followed the Buddha's instructions and put the rocks and the ghee in the jar. Then the Buddha told them, "Seal it with wax. Now bring the sealed jar to this pond and put it deep into the water."

So they did as they were told, full of the fervent belief that this great holy person, this saint, was going to intercede for them and guide their dead relative to heaven, so that his spirit, his soul, his Consciousness, would ascend to the heavenly realms, and not have to descend into the unpleasant worlds, or hell. So they put the vase in the pond.

Then the Buddha said, "Now one of you take a long, strong stick and, with the stick, break the submerged jar."

So they do this. After a moment, a few bubbles come to the surface, and then a little bit of the butter rises up to float upon the water.

Buddha looks at the family and says, "This is the way life is. That which is heavy must sink. That which is light will rise. Everything is a result of causes and consequences for action. I cannot intercede for you or for your dead relative; he is guided by his past deeds. His spirit, his soul, his Consciousness, will go according the Law."

This is not to say that we should not pray, because our prayers, our intentions, our emotions, our love, do have a benefit. They do help.

But ultimately, what determines our course through life and then through death are our own actions, which are determined by the contents of our mind.

In this story, the jar is us. That jar contains what we are. The jar is our mind. What we put into that jar is what we create psychologically in ourselves from day to day, from moment to moment.

Whether we realize it or not, in every moment, the way we pay attention, the way we interact with everything inside and outside of us, is creative.

Our whole way of existing is a function of creativity; everything we do is creative.

As impressions from life enter into us, with our own hands, psychologically speaking, we take those impressions and transform them according to our own understanding. And the result of that transformation is within us.

The mind shapes our life. We become what we think. - Buddha

You cannot create a symphony unless the knowledge to do so is within your mind. A symphony cannot be created by accident.

You cannot murder, rape, or steal unless the knowledge to do so is in your mind. Though you might contest this, there are societies within which such crimes have never been heard of, and are thus never committed. The crimes do not exist in the minds of the individuals, thus they do not commit them. The excuse of "human nature" is a justification for crime. We do not know what human nature is, because our mind is not yet human. Our mind is more animal than human.

The mind is the basis of our present and future. What makes the difference is how we use it.

We may have heard a statement about us, somebody talking about us. We receive those words with our senses, but our mind transforms, translates, that information and ascribes meaning to it. If we have pride, then when we hear someone talking about us in a bad way, in a critical way, it hurts that pride. That pain is in us. That pain is a result of our own transformation of that impression. That pain can only happen if pride is there. If there is no pride, there is no pain. This is why some insults hurt us and others do not. It depends upon what within our mind will react.

The reaction results in a karmic effect, a karmic consequence. But this is the key: each action or reaction creates consequences. Energy that is transformed has an effect. That hurt pride generates anger or shame. That psychological element is symbolized as a stone, a rock, that sits inside of our own psychological jar. This is the root of suffering.

The root of suffering in all existence is our own creation. It is created by how we individually, from instant to instant, receive and transform the impressions of life. The responsibility for our happiness or pain lies within ourselves. It is not outside.

In any religion or mystical tradition that you study, you will discover that the same thing is taught. We become what our mind makes us into. Our life, our external circumstances, are merely a reflection of our own psychology.

Our life is what it is because of who we are inside.

From this point of view, you can understand why religions and mystical traditions have taught that self-change is the beginning of any real change. The real esoteric psychology of any religion is to change ones own mind. In that way you can change your external world, your external circumstances.

Of course, changing ourselves is very difficult to do. But the basis of it is inside of ourselves. We have the capacity to change, and what gives us that capacity is the Consciousness.

Consciousness

Our own Consciousness is that energy that gives us life, that gives us the ability to perceive, to see, to hear, to taste, to touch, to experience. But the Consciousness itself is not in the physical body, it does not come from the physical body. It comes from far beyond the physical body. It is independent of physical matter. This is how you can understand dreaming, or out of body experiences, or after death experiences, and many other types of phenomena that modern scientists know nothing about. They have scarcely begun to understand what the Consciousness is and how it works. In the esoteric studies of any religion, the study of the Consciousness is the very root, the very spine, of those studies.

In Gnosis we call our free Consciousness the "essence."

When you see a baby, a newborn, and you see their beauty, you see how they radiate happiness and beauty. That is the essence, the Consciousness. You can sense when that free Consciousness is there and there is no ego. This is what is so magnetic about babies: they radiate pure Consciousness.

You can see the same quality in highly realized masters; what is there is pure Consciousness, pure love, pure peace.

For us though, when we grow up, when we reach two, three, four, five years old, little by little our karma is arriving into our psyche and beginning to stifle the Consciousness. And little by little that karma, which is our own ego, fully incorporates into our psyche, and then we are a very different person from that radiant child. By seven or eight we are jealous, angry, fearful, anxious, afraid. So you see, we have competing elements in our mind. We have our essence, our free Consciousness, and we also have ego.

So in the story about the Buddha, the butter, the ghee, is symbolic of the free Consciousness, the purity that we have within. The essence is that percentage of Consciousness that is not trapped in desire. The pure Consciousness naturally belongs to very elevated regions of existence, because it is pure.

The ego, The I

On the other hand, the ego is very heavy and so it sinks like a rock; it belongs to very low levels of nature. By ego we refer to a huge collection of psychological elements that we have inside: pride, anger, lustfulness, fear, gluttony, envy, jealousy. All of these things are egotistical; they are "I's," in other words.

Each ego is a negatively transformed packet of energy; that energy is karmic: an effect of a cause, and a cause that produces effects. Buried within each ego is the Consciousness, which became trapped by that bad transformation. The Consciousness by its nature is pure and undefiled. Yet, once trapped within an ego or desire, that Consciousness becomes filtered, misused, trapped.

Each ego or I has its own desire, its own selfish intentions, its own selfish goals.

Each one of them arises in our mind according to circumstances. This is why we see such a diversity of intentions and wills and feelings and impulses within ourselves, from scenario to scenario, from event to event, from day to day. We see things that come up in us one day and pass away the next. Or for a few days we feel very strongly about something, and then that feeling goes away.

This inconsistency is the hallmark of the doctrine of the many "I's."

We believe we are conscious because we feel that the Consciousness as active. What we do not realize is that the Consciousness is being utilized by subjective "I's" or desires that we created previously, that filter impressions, that delude the Consciousness and wrongly present the impressions of what we perceive. In other words, the truth is that the Consciousness is hypnotized, asleep. The ego, by using desire, has hypnotized our Consciousness.

All of these different egos come into our mind and our heart and our body in order to feed themselves with our creative energy. They take advantage of the energies that naturally flow through us, in order to feed themselves and make themselves fat. This is how the ego survives from existence to existence. It is always whispering in our mind what it wants, and trying to manipulate us to fulfill those wants.

The diversity of desires in the ego is really astonishing. Many times those desires appear to beneficial, appear to be useful, but in their base can be very egotistical.

From the ultimate point of view, from the point of view of the Gnostic Dharma, the ego itself, in its entirety has to be removed. And this is why the teachings always emphasize that we need to conquer desire.

In the four noble truths, this is what the Buddha taught: the cause of suffering is desire. Suffering is caused by desire.

Desire is in us, not in other people. It is in our own mind, in our own heart. And it is very subtle.

We are always being manipulated by one desire or another. The challenge then, is to become aware of that, to learn how to keep an eye on the "I." We need to learn to always be watching our own mind, to understand our own mind. With that kind of self-knowledge, we can change.

This is the methodology of Gnosis in general, in synthesis: to learn about ourselves so that we can change the course of our life.

We have this mistaken notion that we can change our external circumstances and acquire happiness.

For example, we believe that if we acquire the respect of other people, the admiration of other people, that we will become happy. But this is essentially untrue. In one moment, people are happy with us, and in the next, they are not. People are fickle. Our opinions and points of view change like the wind. So we cannot rely upon the opinions of others; they will always change.

Some of us believe that we can acquire happiness through acquiring material things. That might be a car, it might be money, it might be a house. It might be a job, it might be an award. It might be a degree, it might be some kind of status. But it is something outside that we want in order to acquire happiness. But unfortunately the same phenomena applies here.

All external circumstances are impermanent and unreliable.

We may acquire one of these new things, but we will discover that it is unreliable; it will decay and fall apart, it may break, it may become worthless. Or, it may bring so many other problems into our lives that we suffer even more.

Material things are unreliable, impermanent; we cannot rely on them, we cannot trust them.

The real success that we can find is to learn to find happiness in ourselves. To find our own happiness because of who we are, because of what we are, as a Consciousness. To not be dependant on external things. This is why renunciation has always been taught in religions: but that renunciation has to be in the mind. The fundamental difference is not found in ownership or non-ownership, in wealth or in poverty: the difference is in our mental attitude.

In relationship to this there was a great teacher from India, many centuries ago, who wrote a wonderful scripture called "The Precious Garland." His name was Nagarjuna, and he wrote this:

Scratching an itch brings pleasure, but more pleasurable than that, is not having an itch. Likewise, satisfying worldly desires is pleasurable, but more pleasurable than that, is not having desire.

This is the basis of real Gnosis.

Happiness

True happiness is found when we free ourselves from dependency, attachment to desires, to acquiring circumstances or praise, or to acquiring something outside of ourselves.  Happiness is a psychological state, and thus must be found psychologically.

When our mind is serene, content in and of itself, without reference to any external condition, then we have found true happiness.

This happiness we see in the child is related to this: in the child we see the happiness to just be alive. Happiness to just be. But that is just the embryo or germ of real happiness, for the Consciousness of the child is but the embryo of the soul. When the soul is fully developed, happiness is also fully developed.

In that context, religions teach that we can be happy in most any circumstance. No matter what is happening outside of us, whether it is good or bad, or indifferent, we can still find happiness or serenity inside.

So the purpose of the Gnostic Dharma is to help us train our mind, to teach our mind.

This is not accomplished through imitation. We cannot learn this by imitating other people. Our own psyche, our own karma, is ours. We can only learn to balance our mind, to have balance psychologically, by learning about our own mind. The karma of some other person is different. Their mind is different; their ego's are different. Their psychological idiosyncrasy is different. So by imitation, we can only imitate like a monkey. We cannot really learn and know something.

Realization comes not by imitation, but by revelation: by the revelation of our own Consciousness. This can only arise through practical effort: our own effort.

We can begin now. In this instant, just pay attention. Just learn to pay attention. Learn to consciously direct your attention. Learn to not let your mind take you into worrying about something, or planning something for later. Or dreaming about a desire that you have, or recalling a regret or memory. Be here and now.

This form of concentrated, directed attention has two important aspects: self-observation and self-remembering.

The first we call self-remembering. The state of self remembering is a state of Consciousness. It begins by remembering that we are in our physical bodies. By being aware of it, constantly. Not just remembering that every once in a while, but actually being aware that we are in this body. That active awareness creates a chemical change in our body. It creates an enormous difference in our feeling of life. We begin to actually experience life as it is when we become aware of ourselves physically.

This is very difficult to maintain, because the mind is still there, pulling, pulling on the leash, pulling on our chain, trying to get us to be distracted, to think about something else, to be somewhere else. But the very basis, the very foundation of awakening Consciousness, of overcoming suffering, is to be here. To be in life.

It is very sad when we reflect on recent days, recent weeks, and we cannot remember what happened. There are big gaps in our memory. That is very significant. It reveals to us that in those times that we do not remember what happened, we were not there. Our body was there, but our mind was somewhere else. Our Consciousness was somewhere else. This is a grave problem. A very serious problem.

Sleep and Death

When we go to sleep at night, our physical body rests. However, our Consciousness continues to function, in the same way it was functioning during the day. If during the day we are always daydreaming, fantasizing, and following the urges of our mind to go here and there, we will do the same at night. This is why our dreams tend to be sporadic, chaotic, and most of the time a repetition of our daily life. In our dreams we go to work, we go home, we cook, we clean. We have problems with our boss, we have problems with our relatives, problems with our spouse. We are repeating, recycling, all the same material. All the things we were thinking about during the day, we think about during the night. The mind continues on its stale track.

The reason this is a real problem for us is because there is only a very slender difference between sleep at night and death. There is only one change: when we die, the Consciousness is permanently separated from the physical body. But, the process of falling asleep and the process of dying are otherwise identical. This is why in the Greek mysteries, sleep and death are symbolized as twin brothers: Thanatos and Hypnos.

 

thanatos-hypnos
Guided by Hermes, Thanatos and Hypnos carry the dead

 

 

Sleep and death are twin brothers; they look exactly the same. This is not just a "myth," some fancy story somebody made up that everybody is supposed believe in; it is a psychological teaching, it is a spiritual teaching. It contains a truth. That truth is simply: sleep and death are twins, with only a very slight difference between them. That difference is the severance that occurs between the physical body and the Consciousness.

So, if you want to know what will happen to you when you die, all you have to do is look at what happens to you when you go to sleep. You will experience the same thing. If now, in this point of your life, you do not remember your dreams, or the ones you do remember are very vague and obscure, and you have a very difficult time recalling them, you will have the same experience when you die.

You might die today. There is no guarantee. There is no insurance. There is no belief that you can adopt that will guarantee you a long life. Every one of us will die. We just do not know when. So we need to look seriously at ourselves and say: "Am I ready?" "Am I really ready to face death, consciously?"

We may believe that when we die we will suddenly become conscious and be able to choose our next birth, choose where we will go, what we will experience. We may believe we will go to heaven. But, as the Buddha taught very clearly in the example of the vase, it is not a question of beliefs, it is a question of laws. What laws will guide our Consciousness?

We may have thousands of people who love us and pray for us. But our ego cannot go to heaven. Our pride and lust cannot float on the water and rise up into blissful places. The ego will sink, because that is where it belongs: in the depths, which are called by many names: hell, avitchi, averno, inferno, klipoth, hades.

Unfortunately for us, most of our Consciousness is trapped in the ego. Thus, when the ego sinks, our trapped Consciousness goes with it.

We created our ego. When we look at lustful images and pictures, we are taking those images inside and investing our own energy into them. That image, that lustfulness, becomes something in our mind. And that is especially powerful, because the sexual energy is the most powerful energy we have. Those transformations that occur in our psyche produce the karma. And that karma is called lust.

The more we indulge in that type of imagery, which is everywhere now, the more we create the psychological burden of lust within ourselves. This only produces suffering.

The only result for that is suffering.

As much as you feed any desire, it will never be satisfied. This is written in the laws of Manu, which is the oldest written document in humanity. It says exactly that. "The more you feed a desire, the stronger it becomes."

So it is important for us to become sincere, to look carefully at ourselves with the purpose of finding out how we need to change. And to change, we need to learn how to train the mind. In Tibetan, this is called Lojong, which is usually translated as "mind training." The tradition of Lojong includes many important teachers and scriptures, and provides great guidance in our psychological work. But it should be clear that "mind" in this case is not limited to the animal mind. In Tibetan Buddhism, they use the word mind to refer also to the free Consciousness. In Gnosis, we try to differentiate between the mind as Consciousness (essence or Buddha nature) and mind as aggregate (skandhas) in order to prepare a clear understanding for students.

A better way to think of this word Lojong would be "attitude-training," because really it is about putting our Consciousness into the right position to work with courage, seriousness, and clarity, rather then being seduced by the doubts, fears, or vanities of the subjective mind.

From this point of view, Gnosis emphasizes that we need to rely on a force that is beyond the mind. The mind cannot change the mind. The problem cannot solve itself. We need to instead work with the free Consciousness, and with an attitude that assists us, that gives us the ability to transform our mind; then we can change our lives.

What is really important is for us to sincere.

Self-image

When we talk about the ego, especially when we are just entering into these kinds of studies, it can be difficult for us to see the ego in ourselves, to really understand what that means. This is because we have cultivated and developed a self-image, an idea about who we are as a person; but, we have to step back from that a little bit, and realize that we made that image for our own convenience. In other words, our own ego made our own self-image. So, our own self-image is there to protect our ego. To be sincere means we need to be able to see this false self-image for what it is.

Often times those qualities that we say are our greatest virtues can be our worst mistakes. Many of us believe we are very humble, and we are proud of it.  Some of us believe we are very spiritual, very religious, like great renunciates, but we horde material things and crave money and comfort.

We are filled with inner contradictions.

To be sincere about ourselves means to look at ourselves honestly, to not evade the truth of who we are as people. This takes a great deal of courage and strength.

But if you have your intention set on the greatest good, especially for those who you love, and those who you care for, you will begin to see that you yourself create suffering for those you love. When you see that, and feel that, and realize that, then you can develop a strong motivation to change, for the benefit of those you love, to help them, to protect them from your own ego.

There is a story, also from Buddhism, that illustrates this concept that we have about our own self-image.

Once there was a housewife who had a reputation for gentleness, modesty, and courtesy. She was well known in the village as being a very mild mannered person, very sweet.

She had a housemaid named Kali who was efficient, industrious, and did her work very well. Thus the house ran smoothly, everyone was happy, and all the neighbors were impressed with the how the housewife managed her home.

One day the housemaid thought to herself, "My mistress has a very good reputation for being kind and sweet and very mild, but I wonder if it is true. I wonder if she is really like that, or that everybody just thinks that she is like that. Maybe I will test her."

The next day, the housemaid woke up late. She did not prepare anything to eat for the household, and did not get the things ready to begin the activities of the day. So of course, the housewife became angry and yelled at Kali, and stormed away.

The housemaid thought, "It's true, she really does have some anger. She really does have a different quality then what her reputation says, but maybe it is just something inside that she hides well. So maybe I'll test her a little more."

The next day she woke up even later, slept in, so the house was really getting out of control now. Of course, the housewife yelled at her even more, cursed her, became very angry, and stormed away. Naturally, no one outside the house knew anything of this.

Now the housemaid thought: "She really is an angry person. She doesn't deserve her reputation. But I wonder if she will actually show that anger to others; I wonder if she'll really show it outward, instead of just yelling at me privately."

The next day she did it again; she slept even later, did not get up to do anything. By this point, the housewife was pushed past her limit. She came in, yelled at the housemaid, took a door bolt (used to latch the door) and hit Kali on the head. So the housemaid started to bleed, and she ran out of the house, and all the neighbors came and saw the housemaid bleeding. The housemaid said: "Do you see? This woman who everyone believes is so mild, and so courteous, and so sweet, she did this to me."

This destroyed the woman's reputation.

This story illustrates something about all of us. We can appear to be one way when the circumstances that support it, but as soon as our circumstances change, entirely new qualities come out, entirely new faces appear in us. This is a very deep thing for us to grasp about ourselves.

Our self-image has been crafted by our own mind, in order to make us believe that we are a good person, and to give us the idea that everybody else sees us the same way.

The truth is that nobody sees us the way we see ourselves.

We need to learn to see ourselves truthfully.

In the Christian bible, in the Gospels, Jesus repeatedly corrects the Pharisees, who were the high priests. He corrects them repeatedly saying, that "they clean the outside of the cup, but leave the inside filthy." What he was describing is what we do with ourselves.

We make sure that our exterior appearance looks very clean, looks very nice. But inside of us, we are filthy, disgusting. We do not even want to see it, we do not even want to look. We keep that part of ourselves closed, because it is painful, it is embarrassing.

This is why many people do not really practice Dharma. They do not really practice Gnosis. They just want a belief that makes them feel better. They want to have people pray for them, or to say prayers for others. But they do not really want to see the truth of their own mind.

It is very difficult to find any person in the world who can become their own critic. This is very difficult to find. But becoming our own clear-sighted critic is the doorway to realization, it is the doorway to freedom from suffering.

So the Gnostic Dharma is a science to helps us purify our mind of the ego. To take the rocks out of the jar, and to do that everyday. In this way, everyday, we prepare for death. We awaken our own Consciousness and we free it from pride, from fear, from anger, and we become happy. Little by little. Sincerely, truly, happy. It is the kind of happiness that is not based in circumstances, but based in conscious awakening.

The name Buddha actually means "one who is awake." We are not awake, we are asleep. In the same way that our physical body sleeps at night and our Consciousness wanders around in our own psychological country, even when our physical body is awake, our Consciousness is wandering around in our psychological country. From thought to thought, from desire to desire. Daydreaming, never here. This is the state of sleep, the sleep of the Consciousness.

A Buddha is awake. A Buddha does not dream. Think about that. Someone who is awake never dreams: they are awake. Conscious, aware. With the kind of Consciousness that is penetrating, that is perceptive, happy. No dreaming; they are very much alive.

For us to arrive at that place, we need to remove what obscures our vision and what perpetuates our dreamworld.

As we are now, we are merely being handed back and forth between those two twin brothers from Greek mythology, Thanatos and Hypnos, sleep and death.

Unfortunately, we sleep our whole life away. We are rarely present, never in our body, never really living, and then we die. And we pass through the same experience in death, asleep. No awareness, no Consciousness. Driven by karma. And then we are born again, asleep. And we pass from circumstance to circumstance, always chasing different desires. And then we die again. And we repeat this cycle again and again.

The way to change it is to take the rocks out of the vase. To train our mind. To become aware of ourselves, to become conscious of ourselves.

There are many results that come out of this. In the first place, we start to live our lives. We actually become conscious of life. This simple thing can totally change your life, because then you begin to make decisions consciously. To make decisions with full awareness of what you are deciding to do. To perform actions with full Consciousness, full awareness, full attention. This alone can change your life.

At the same time you start receive the impressions of life with gladness, with happiness, even if they are difficult. This in turn creates serenity and happiness.

We also begin to become more aware of the process of sleep. We learn what Dream Yoga means. Dream Yoga is one of the four Yoga 's of Naropa, in Tibetan Buddhism. The same science has been taught among the Sufi's, among the Aztecs, among the Egyptians. And this is a process whereby we learn to be awake as a Consciousness while the physical body sleeps. In other words, we stop dreaming. The physical body sleeps, but our Consciousness gets out of the body and goes consciously into the dream world, awake. And in that way we do not lose all that time that our physical body is asleep. We can utilize it to improve our life, and to improve the lives of others. This is called Dream Yoga .

Dream Yoga practice prepares you for death. The same conscious separation that you learn to develop with Dream Yoga , where you consciously separate from your physical body and enter into the astral world, is what happens when you die. Then you would be conscious passing through the process of death, aware of yourself, controlling your mind, conscious. And in this way, you can consciously be involved with the process after death. The process of taking a new birth.

Wouldn't this be better? To pass through those experiences with full awareness of it? Full Consciousness? No longer randomly.

This is a moment to moment endeavor, something that we have to do because we want to change. And this process of training our mind, training our new attitude, has three essential parts.

1. Discovery

The first one is discovery, observation. We have to be aware of ourselves first, to learn how to watch our mind, in any activity, and to look deeply, sincerely at our mind. When thoughts arise we have to look at where those thoughts are coming from, and ask yourself, "Did I call them, did I want these thoughts, do I really believe these thoughts?"

And when feelings come up, we have to separate from those feelings, question those feelings, "Why am I feeling this? Why is this feeling arising in my heart? Do I want this? Is it really beneficial? Is it really good?"

And do the same with impulses in the body, when we are driven to behave in one way or another. We have to control that, to become conscious of it.

This process of discovery is what I was describing earlier, in relation with self-remembering and self-observation. This is where we learn, not only to remember that we are here in the body, but to observe it. To consciously watch.

In this way, there is a kind of separation that happens inside of us. The Consciousness begins to see that it is not the mind. The Consciousness begins to see directly that it is not emotion. Our own Consciousness can begin to see it is not sensation in the body.

It is not the body, it is not the heart, it is not thought. It is beyond them.

When you can taste that, and experience that, you have touched an essential "jumping off point" in your own Gnosis. It is that state of active, aware, penetrating Consciousness that gives you the ability to start to see the cage of your own mind without obscurity.

Right now, as we are, we are trapped in that cage, and we cannot even see it.

We are so accustomed to being in our mind, we are so used to it, that it feels normal. But it is not normal; it is very abnormal. And this why there is so much suffering in the world.

If a prisoner has been imprisoned for a long time, they become attached to their prison. It feels like home to them, even in the case of someone who has been tortured. There are many cases of this. Someone who has been tortured over a long period of time begins to become attached to the torture. It begins to feel as if the person who is punishing them loves them, and is torturing them as a sign of love. The person who is suffering that way can begin to become attached to it. This also happens with domestic abuse, alcoholism, drug abuse, and many other conditions.

This is the sickness of the mind that we have. It becomes so habituated to wrong actions that it wants to perpetuate them. This is how we can understand the addictions to alcohol, the addictions to drugs, and the addictions to sex. All three of these factors can destroy us. And yet we love them. We love them in the wrong way. People love to take drugs, to take alcohol, and to explore and misuse sexuality. But in doing so they destroy their own minds. They destroy their lives. All of us have that same basis in our own psyche. All of us. That is why we are here; that is why we are suffering.

"To train our mind" means we have to first begin to recognize the cage that we are in. This is discovery, the first part. This process of discovery takes your whole life. It may take more than one life. It might take many existences before you really get to the very bottom of the mind. The point is to start, to do it. Postponing it means you are just deepening your suffering. All of those psychological generators that are in your mind are busy, every moment, taking energy from you and building themselves. To change that, to invert that, requires a lot of energy, a lot of effort, but it can be done.

Once we begin to discover the mind, to really see the truth of our own ego's, we can begin to judge them, to comprehend them.

2. Judgment

Sometimes we use the word judgment, but we need to understand that word in proper context. Judgment is related to the sphere of Geburah on the Tree of Life. In Sanskrit this is called Buddhi, which means intellect or intelligence. This is a form of judgement that is conscious. It is not "judgmental," the way our ego is. Judgment is a form of conscious discrimination. We call it comprehension as well. You can call it understanding.

A very simple example would be: when you are a child and you are first exploring your environment and you find a hot stove, you have no comprehension of that hot stove until you get close to it. Then you feel the heat, and you have a little comprehension that it is hot. But you may not really comprehend it until you get burned, and then you know to not go near the stove.

The same basic function of comprehension needs to occur with our own ego. We may know to some degree that we have lust, that we have anger, or that we have pride, or envy. But we need to comprehend how it creates suffering. Unfortunately, we usually do not learn out lesson about the ego until we get burned by life.

This is why we usually do not make serious introspective effort until we have made a serious mistake. Our goal in Gnosis is to not wait until a crises or tragedy occurs. We want to investigate ourselves now, and understand how in our mind, in our own experience, our mistaken views result in problems.

By whatever means, when comprehension of our mistakes begins to arrive, then we naturally, spontaneously know, "I cannot behave that way! I cannot let myself think that way! I cannot accommodate those behaviors!"

This is not simply training the mind to say "good" and "bad." We are not interested in moral codes or ethical rules. Instead, we want to change our attitude, and understand what produces karma, suffering.

This is the second phase, which we call comprehension, or judgment.

This also can take a lifetime, or many lifetimes. This is not something that is easy to do. It takes a great deal of effort.

Furthermore, we cannot do it just with our physical senses. Our physical senses can only perceive this third dimensional world, this world that is around us now. But your thoughts are not here, physically. You sense them, but not with your physical senses. And the same is true of your feelings: they are not here physically. You can sense them, but not with your physical senses. So to really understand where these feelings and thoughts come from, where desires they emerge from, we have to learn how to meditate.

Through Meditation we learn how to penetrate consciously into our subconsciousness, to that part of the mind that we do not see with the physical sight, but that part that we can only see with conscious sight. And this is the purpose of Meditation: to look into our mind.

So when we learn, during the day, to remember ourselves, to observe ourselves, we are actually preparing for Meditation, to go into our mind with awareness, with Consciousness.

We learn to do that in Dream Yoga , when we step outside of the physical body, to travel in that psychological country, and understand our own mind. This is why we need to meditate.

When our understanding of a given behavior is complete, when we have really understood the depth of a behavior, its roots in our own submerged Consciousness, we can precede to the third stage, and this is execution, death.

3. Execution

Execution is made possible by taking the powerful energy sexual that previously we used to create an ego, and we destroy it. The same energy that created them can be used to destroy them. This is why we see images from Tantra like Mahakala: great wrathful beings with a lot of fire. Those images are symbolic of our own sexual energy, which we can use to destroy our own ego.

When that sexual energy is harnessed by will, we can direct those forces against harmful, discursive elements in our own mind and begin to pulverize the "rocks," freeing the Consciousness. Freeing ourselves from pain.

That is the essence, the basis, the synthesis of Dharma. The basis, the point and the function rolled into one thing, which is to train our mind, to free ourselves from the ego.

A way to think about these three phases of discovery, comprehension, and execution, is to remember what happens to a spy in a time of war. If you are in a time of war, and you discover a spy, the first thing you have to do is watch him. If you take him out immediately, you won't know who he is working with, or how he is doing it. If you kill him immediately, and you do not know which vulnerabilities he is utilizing against you, then after he is gone another will surely take his place. Therefore, you need to know everything you can about that spy. So you watch him. Of course, the spy of our example is your own ego.

Your own ego is a liar and a cheat who always tries to look like your best friend. Your own ego always tries to look like your own virtues, tries to look like God, or a Buddha, or an angel. Many people have experiences of seeing what they believe is their own inner Buddha, their own inner Being, but it is really their ego. This requires discrimination, judgment.

When we observe that spy, we learn about all his activities; this is the process of discovery.

When we have fully understood and seen everything that the spy does, then we put him on the bench to judge them. This is the process of comprehension. But, we cannot judge an ego with an ego. You have to judge the ego with the Consciousness, with conscious judgment.

Once that judgment is passed, the comprehension is complete, the evidence is presented, and the guilt of the spy is undeniable, then the spy is shot, executed.

This is the essential process that any sincere practitioner of Dharma depends upon.

Along the way, we complement this process by cultivating happiness, by cultivating joyfulness, by learning about the virtues, and all the qualities of the Consciousness: peace, happiness for others, conscious love, Chastity, diligence, tolerance, patience.

You may encounter students or teachers of Gnosis or Dharma who are very focused on the death of the ego, and this is wonderful. But, there is a danger of becoming very morbid, very dark, having no sense of humor (or a very inappropriate one). Unfortunately, this is a mistaken way of practicing Dharma.

The Consciousness itself is happiness. It is serenity, it is a form of ecstasy, it is peace, it is love. All of the virtues that any angel or Buddha has are virtues that abide naturally within our own Consciousness, and that we can fully develop to an infinite degree. So, we need to balance our psychological work, to place beside the death of the ego the birth of good qualities. This is why Samael Aun Weor wrote in Aztec Christic Magic:

"Do not worry; cultivate the habit of being happy."

This is essential. The work on the ego is very difficult, it can be discouraging, it can be embarrassing. It can be extremely painful. We need to balance that. The pain is inevitable, but if we face suffering, difficulties, and pain with a hopeful attitude, with a positive, bright, clear, and active Consciousness, then we can easily transcend that pain.

However, if we are approaching the study of our own mind with morbidity, with depression, with self-hatred, with discouragement, without hope, then we will fail; without question, we will we fail.

Questions and Answers

Audience: Talking about the story about vase and the sinking, and {that} everything happens according to laws. How do we understand [??] [{that in relation with the concept of a saviour?}]

Instructor: It is a good question. The story of the vase being placed in the lake does not seem to fit in with that concept of a saviour who can come and redeem souls. But yet, if you think about it, if you really analyze that story, it reveals something very potent. Jesus himself said that no idolater, no adulterer, no murderer, no liar, no thief, can enter heaven.

"For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

"Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." - Matthew 5

He said it flatly and plainly, throughout the Gospels. What He was describing are the rocks. None of those harmful, discursive, egotistical elements that exist within us can go to heaven. So he was stating the same thing that the Buddha was saying.

Yet he also said:

"Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." - John 14:6

That phrase "I am" is very revealing. In this process of self-discovery, of removing the ego, we cannot do it alone, it is impossible. We need a teacher, we need a guide, we need help, we need assistance, we need a savior. But that savior is not outside of us. It is inside. That savior is within our Consciousness, within our own selves.

When we work to discover ourselves (step one), we are helped. We receive a lot of help, because we have to face our karma. So the help comes through difficulties, through people that harm us, that try to harm us, that criticize us; this is all a form of help, if we take it the right way.

When we have problems in life, it reveals the truth of our mind; in that way, we can change.

When the process of comprehension is under way, we are meditating and trying to analyze and discover the full root of that ego, we also receive help. This help comes with our practice of Meditation. It comes through help that we receive inside, from those who have already done the work: Buddha's, Masters, and our own Being, the One who is inside of us.

And there is also help that comes to us in the process of execution: that very energy that we use to destroy the ego symbolized in all the traditions by great wrathful beings, like Lucifer, Prometheus, the Divine Mother Durga, or Mahakala. Those are all forms of help that come from our own inner God.

But there is a stage at which, to go further, to go beyond, to really destroy the ego in its entirety, we need another kind of help.

In the story of the Buddha and the vase, that help is not illustrated, because it is not given to that level of instruction. But that additional help is the form that we see in the bodhisattva's. It is the pure wisdom, the bodhichitta that they incarnate. That pure light, which is intelligence. In Christianity, it is called Christ. That help is not visible in that story, because to receive that help, you first have to be coming out of the water.

Another instructor: The Consciousness represents the butter that floats.  The Consciousness that is trapped {[and what needs to be saved]}.

Instructor: The statement is made that the three percent of Consciousness is the butter that floats to the top. Yes, that is true.

Audience: One same thing of the current question, [???] the butter cannot float [??]

Instructor: Our prayers and good intentions are well meaning intentions. They have some impact, because they are all a form of energy. When we pray for someone else we are basically sending energy to them, directing energy to them. But that help will directly correspond to the amount of energy that we can send. If we do not have any energy, if we do not have the capacity to manage a lot of energy, then there is not much help we can give. It is helpful, but it may not be enough.

As an example: You may know how to put a small bandage on a cut, but if someone has cut off their entire arm, a little bandage will be very limited in what it can do.

There are different degrees of help that we need to be able to apply. And that is completely relative to the amount of energy that we can control and manipulate consciously. Nonetheless, prayer is good, prayer is helpful, to pray for others.

It maybe said that the primary reason to do it in the beginning is for us to cultivate a better attitude, to not be so self-obsessed. Little by little as we develop the ability to manage energy, then we can start to really use that energy effectively to help other people. But in the beginning, without much skill or energy, it is difficult.

Audience: Can you elaborate on how to meditate on the virtues along side the death of the ego?

Instructor: When we meditate on the nature of our mind, the primary thing we look for in the beginning is to comprehend why a certain action is wrong or harmful. But this is only one side of the phenomena. If we had an argument with someone and we became very irritated, and started to say things that were incorrect or harsh, then later when we reflect on this event, we can see that we did not say the right things, or we said it with anger, or we said it with to much emotion, or maybe we misjudged things. To meditate on the virtue there, means that then we should meditate to see how we should have behaved. What would have been the right thing to do?

We have talked about these three phases, but how do you actually do it?

Outline of the Practical Work Upon Oneself

The first thing is:

Everyday, all day, make the effort to be aware of yourself. Make the effort to be in your body. Be present. Be physically aware of yourself. And in that presence, physically, consciously direct your attention.

When you are paying attention to something, be doing it consciously, not just instinctively or automatically. But doing it by will.

Through the course of the day you will encounter things about yourself that you do not understand, that might be painful, that might be difficult. At the end of the day, take some time to meditate. Reflect. Review, consciously, in your imagination, those events that passed during the day.

You might discover that in the morning, you felt and encountered in yourself a strong surge of pride.

And then in the afternoon, you were tempted by a strong surge of lust.

And then a little after that you had a strong situation of anger.

So when you get home that night, and you are ready to take your moments to reflect upon yourself, then you have to review those events in your mind. Look carefully at them, sincerely, but and most importantly: consciously.

Do not theorize, justify, condemn, but analyze objectively. Just review it.

This is the basic procedure.

The more you develop your ability to meditate, the more profound your understanding will become. But anyone can begin this process now.

Do not think that you have to wait until you have time to go to a monastery, or time to go find a Zen master or a Meditation master to teach you this and that. This is postponement; this is self-evasion.

You can start today. You have the ability to use your imagination, to relax, and to concentrate. What happens is, we just need to develop those abilities more. But use what you have.

You have your Consciousness, you have the teaching, do it. Every time you make the effort, you develop a little more skill, a little more determination.

What you might find is that your ego then tries to distract you.

You might find that you have bad habits. For instance, when you come home at the end of a hard day, you just want to watch TV, because, you say, that is relaxing to you. But if you are really sincere with yourself, you might find that those hours you spend watching TV could have been better spent.

There are many ways that we deceive ourselves with habitual behaviors. Some of us spend hours and hours on the internet, and for what purpose? How does it develop our Consciousness?

This is the kind of questioning we have to apply to ourselves.

What is the result of the behaviors that we pursue?

What result will come from those behaviors we are attracted towards?

We have to be honest.

Our desires do not want us to do this kind of self-analysis.

Our mind will do everything it can to persist in its habits.

We become attached to certain things that we like to read, certain things we like to watch, certain things we like to do. Maybe it is shopping, maybe it is watching movies, maybe it is reading certain books or magazines. Maybe it is hanging out with friends, gossiping, going here and there.

Be honest with yourself. Look back on the past few months or years. What would have been the result if, instead of following those behaviors that you have, you would have dedicated some time everyday to meditate? By now, you would have acquired some skill. You might have learned some important things that could have changed the course of your life.

And so, seeing that, then you should begin today. When those temptations arise to go to your favorite website or some other website or watch this or that movie or TV-show, ask at yourself honestly: is this TV show or website really going to benefit me consciously? What if I die tonight?

You might.

Audience: Do you think this is a form of mental laziness? [.] In society people seem to go from activity, and keep themselves constantly[..] It could be good, going to museums or whatever it is, but to constantly think by doing things and keeping themselves busy, that they somehow are happy. Now is this (...interruption)

Instructor: Physical busyness, always running from here to there and doing this and that, is a form of extreme laziness. It is especially prevalent now, because we have so many things we want to do, and so many things that we take on, and that we are responsible for. But definitely it is laziness. It is laziness of the Consciousness. It is a way that our ego keeps us distracted, so we won't see it, so we will just keep perpetuating building the ego.

This laziness can be extreme even though our activities might appear to be beneficial on the surface. Some people are extremely busy with so-called "spiritual" activities: going to groups, going to meetings, going to lectures, going to speeches, retreats, events, here and there. And they say, "I am doing all this for the good of humanity," or "to awaken my Consciousness." But truthfully, it is all distraction, and you know why? Because their attitude is wrong. Really, they do all that just to avoid the truth about themselves. They want to "feel" spiritual and "look" spiritual. People like this cannot bear to sit still and look into their own mind. Even if they appear to meditate, usually they are mentally traveling all over the place. There are many examples like this.

We need to really analyze our attitude and our impulse, what is the real result the comes from what we do.

For example, the seventh Dalai Lama said in some of his writings that he felt very badly about himself. He could see that even in performing the rituals and guiding people and writing books and doing all the activities that he was responsible for as a Dalai Lama, in the back of his mind he still could always see that he wanted his own comfort. And he felt bad. He said: "I see in myself that I am just a materialist, because I am doing all these things, yet ultimately I am expecting to benefit." Imagine that: a Dalai Lama. And what about us?

Even Milarepa, after he spent many years meditating in isolation, said that he would go and look for a new cave to meditate, and would be looking for something to comfort him. And he said: "Still...! The poison of worldly desire blows through my mind."

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