This is a transcription of the audio lecture
As we have been studying in recent lectures, you will recall that the Three Jewels are the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha. These Three Jewels have levels of application in relation to our study of Dharma, or that wisdom which leads us to the realization of Dharma itself.
We explained previously that the word Dharma has these two implications or two meanings.
- The first is that state of existence or Consciousness within which suffering has ceased, and this is a state of cessation; a state within which the primordial nature of the mind is manifest and clear.
- The second application or meaning of Dharma is the path that leads to cessation or that experiential state.
These Three Jewels are of the utmost importance to any being who seeks to escape from suffering, to transcend suffering, to remove themselves from all manner of suffering. In Buddhism, reliance upon the Three Jewels is called taking refuge. This comes from the notion that when we are in the midst of suffering or pain, we need protection, we need help, we need some medicine or defender to protect us from that pain, from that suffering. So, any person who enters into the stream of Buddhism, the very first thing that they do, whether a layperson or a monk, is take refuge, and in most practices they will take refuge. For the Buddhists this is simply to state a prayer, "I take refuge in the Buddha, I take refuge in the Dharma, I take refuge in the Sangha." This prayer is universal to all forms of Buddhism. But to take refuge in reality, in actuality, in truth, requires something experiential, not merely an affirmation, or a belief, or a prayer. The prayer, the aspiration, to receive the protection of the Three Jewels, or to take refuge in those jewels, to have those jewels be our protection and defense, requires that we take steps, consciously, experientially, to arrive at that, experientially, practically. So it is not a matter of belief; it is not a matter of just wearing robes, or looking Buddhist, or having a name that may be a Buddhist name, or coming from that culture. To take refuge in the Three Jewels is something internal; it is something psychological.
The outer meaning of these Three Jewels we have discussed previously, but what we are concerned with in Gnosis, of course, is experiential knowledge, which is the meaning of the word Gnosis: knowledge that we arrive at through our own experience, consciously. From that point of view, we can see that these Three Jewels must then be something that we can experience Gnostically, or, in other words, through our own experience.
This is not something external to us, something that can be depended upon in relation to external phenomena. This is because we know, in this teaching, that any real change, any fundamental alteration of the course of our life, has to be emerging from within us. Any change of circumstances, any change of physical appearances, is temporary, and is mere illusion. Real change comes from within; real change is psychological, conscious. So these Three Jewels, where we find real refuge, and real protection, are inside; they are within.
For us to arrive at that experience, the knowledge of that, requires that we take a big step; we have to make a very supreme effort. It is not easy. We, as westerners especially, are always looking for the easiest way, the quickest way, the least painful way. Real Gnosis of the truth, of the Dharma, is not acquired easily. And again the obstacle to this is not outside of us; the obstacle to Dharma is our own mind. The only obstacle that we face in our aspiration to truly take refuge in the Buddha, or in the Dharma, or in the Sangha, is our own mind. This is because we already are taking refuge, but not where we should.
Our Refuge in the Mind
When we hear about a teaching like this and we are taught about a teacher or a teaching or we experience a spiritual community to which we feel some attraction, or feel that we would like to belong to that Sangha, we have to realize first that in order to truly take refuge in an authentic Sangha, in an authentic Dharma, or an authentic Buddha, we have to first abandon the refuge that we are relying on now; this is the difficulty.
Right now, we already take refuge in our "I," in the ego. As we are, in this moment, we are taking refuge in a false sense of self, a sense of identity which is based upon wrong transformations of impressions, of phenomena, of thoughts, of feelings, of sensations. We ourselves, with our own will, have crafted a cage within which we hide and take refuge. This cage is called the ego; sometimes we call it the mind. Sometimes we call it aggregates, or psychological defects; in Christianity they call them the seven capital sins.
This false "I" is very complex. It has many parts. It includes our personality, which we have created in this life, and this is our name, our culture, our heritage, our experiences with our parents and teachers and friends and family; our language, the place we live, the place we grew up, our politics. All of these things constitute this personality, which we take refuge in.
By taking refuge I mean, when we are confronted with the painful experiences of life, where do we seek solace, where do we seek protection; where do we seek defense from the uncertainties and the anxieties of life and death? We seek protection in our pride, in our anger, in our envy, in our lust, and to our great misfortune, all of our friends and family and teachers and leaders are doing the same thing, so we believe this is life. But this is a mistaken point of view. We take refuge in our job, in having a title, in having wealth, in a degree, in a position. We take refuge in the idea of who we think we are. And we take refuge in these mental concepts because we know, deep down, that consciously speaking, psychologically speaking, we are naked, we are vulnerable, we are weak. It does not take much to break us, since we are just an intellectual animal.
Any one of us, as a mind, as a psyche, can be broken easily by a simple shift in the circumstances of our life. And you can witness this for yourself, when you see for example, a traffic jam, and you see how crazy people become, simply because of a minor inconvenience; they will even risk their lives, or risk the lives of others, without care, because their only thought is for their own selfish intentions. We can see how easily a mind can break just because of money. All of humanity witnessed the weak-minded people who committed suicide when the stock market crashed. This is really sad that someone would kill themselves because of this illusion that we call money. There are innumerable examples that illustrate the weakness that we have in our current state.
But, unfortunately, rather than dealing with that weakness directly and finding a true source of strength upon which we can rely completely, we fabricate a sense of self which we piece together based on little cultural elements that we are attracted to because we believe that they will give us security. The main one, in these times, is money. We have this mistaken notion that money gives us security against the uncertainties of life. And this is an extremely pervasive and very powerful illusion. We believe that if we have a certain quantity of money, that somehow it will shield us from problems, from stress, from anxiety, from worry. We the Gnostics do not deny that money is a tool that can be utilized to solve certain types of problems; but, in itself, it is simply a tool. The question is not whether we have money or not; the question is our psychological relationship to it. The psychological dependence upon money is a form of slavery. It is a psychological slavery that we welcome because we believe that the feeling we get from having money is a genuine sense of security, but it is just an illusion.
We take refuge in this sense of self, the personality behind which hides many conflicting desires, because we have not yet understood what we really are and what we really have within. We have been misled; we have been mistaken.
To really take refuge in the Three Jewels, we have to go beyond the literal external meanings of these words; we have to realize that these Three Jewels are within us. And as we discussed in a previous lecture, to do that we first study the Dharma; we study the teaching itself; the teaching which leads to that cessation of pain, cessation of doubt and fear, vulnerability and anxiety; the cessation of all forms of suffering. We study that state of Consciousness by actualizing the path which leads to it. As we activate and utilize that Dharma within us, we start to understand what the Sangha really means; and that is those initiates who have experienced and are experiencing and are actualizing the Dharma in themselves. Awakened Initiates in other words: Angels, Devas, Buddhas, bodhisattvas; by whatever name, these are beings who are awakening Consciousness, eliminating ego, becoming pure. Once we understand that practically, experientially, through our own experience of it, we can then start to see or grasp something of what a Buddha is. So in our path towards the state of freedom, we start with the Dharma; however, in truly taking refuge, things work a little bit differently.
Taking True Refuge
When we are ready to take practical refuge in ourselves, to find the Three Jewels within, then we are looking for a deeper level of meaning of the Three Jewels, and in this context we cannot start with the Dharma. From this point of view, we cannot look to Dharma as the first place to look for refuge in ourselves, because we do not have Dharma or the truth yet; we do not know the truth yet. We are trapped in the ego; we are trapped in misperception, mistaken views, the delusion that somehow this "I" exists. Thus by means of this clouded vision, the Dharma that we learn becomes clouded by our very mind. The Dharma that we acquire as we seek to comprehend what Dharma is, when we internalize that Dharma, it is unreliable because of our own mind. This is why so many people who study Dharma or Gnosis, study knowledge, study teachings, and become confused, and become misled by their own concepts of Dharma or truth, and in turn mislead others. So when we look at it in this deeper way, when we want to take practical refuge in ourselves, we cannot rely on the Dharma in our mind. It is better for us to maintain an open mind, accompanied by the awareness of our own delusion and potential to misinterpret or misunderstand the teachings. We need to be ready at any time to revise our concepts and stand corrected. Of course, we prefer to be experts, and cannot stand to be corrected. This is because of pride, which in the context of Dharma, becomes mystical pride.
Likewise, when we are looking for a reliable haven of practical refuge, ultimately we cannot rely on the Sangha. Any member of a Sangha can fall; any member of a Sangha can be mistaken, because likewise, they are not Buddhas yet; they also have mistaken view, wrong perception, and believe in their mistaken views, and can mistakenly lead others.
So when we are looking for a reliable Jewel to take refuge in, we have to go directly to our own Inner Buddha. Pracitcally speaking, it is our own Inner Buddha where we have to take refuge. But again, this is not on the basis of belief, this is not just a prayer that we repeat mechanically. This is something we have to experience; this is something that we have to actualize from moment to moment, to make real; not just to think about this, not just to put together a theoretical or conceptual picture of what Dharma, Buddha, and Sangha are, but instead to actually take refuge in practical terms, from moment to moment. This is very important for us to understand clearly. Without understanding this, all of these studies are meaningless. All the studies of Kabbalah and Dream Yoga and Alchemy and Tantra are meaningless if you do not understand what it means to take refuge in the Buddha here and now, inside of yourself. To do that, we have to know what that Buddha is, and how to access it, not just theoretically, but practically, experientially, to be able to do this.
So what is that inner Buddha? In the Mahayana Uttaratantrashastra, which is one of five Tantric teachings given by the Buddha Maitreya, these Three Jewels are taught very clearly by the Buddha Maitreya, specifically about the nature of the Buddha, and how we reach and access direct knowledge of our inner Buddha. To understand something about the Buddha, I will read you a short passage from this scripture:
The Buddha is without beginning, middle, or end.
He is peace itself, fully self-awakened, and self-expanded in Buddhahood.
Having reached this state, he shows the indestructible permanent path so that those who have no realization may realize.
Wielding the supreme sword and vajra of knowledge and compassionate love, he cuts the seedling of suffering and destroys the wall of doubts along with its surrounding thicket of various views.
I bow down to this Buddha, being uncreated and spontaneously present, not a realization due to extraneous conditions.
Wielding knowledge, compassionate love, and ability;
its nature is without beginning, middle, or end.
This is within us. This state of Consciousness is related to the Dharmadhatu, the Absolute, Shunyata, the Void, the Emptiness. This is a vibrant reality that is inside, not outside. When we study Emptiness, the Absolute, the Buddha, our mind will tend to think of that as something outside of us, as something unreachable, impossible, inconceivable. It is inconceivable because it is beyond the intellect, but it is not impossible. We can experience the state of our own Inner Buddha, in his ultimate depth, and the clue is given in that scripture: spontaneous awareness, uncontrived, uncreated.
In this instant, empty your mind of everything. Become a pure perceiver, only perceiving, not thinking, not remembering, not looking forward or back, just looking. Become fully and engagingly aware of all of your senses, simultaneously, your entire body, and draw in all of that sensation: visual, auditory, tactile, everything. Become pure perception, without thought, and you begin to feel something, something new, something different. It might feel a little weird, a little unusual. But this state of active, spontaneous, uncontrived, perception is the doorway. This is the doorway where you can take experiential refuge in your own Buddha, who is within you. And this is because our own Inner Buddha has planted within us his nature: the Buddha Nature (the Buddhadhatu, Tatha-gatagarba, the Essence, the Consciousness).
The Free Consciousness, the Essence, is completely pure. The Free Consciousness that we have has no fear, it has no anger, it has no pride. It is beyond suffering; it is the primordial natural state of the mind. It is perfect peace, serenity, compassion, love, wisdom. All of those virtues are naturally radiant within the Consciousness.
Unfortunately, our Consciousness has become trapped in that mistaken sense of self; our false self, which has our name, our memories, our experiences, our doubts, our fears, all of our animal desires. Our Consciousness has become trapped; yet, even being trapped, it remains pure. This is extremely important to grasp: even when the Consciousness is trapped in the ego, the Consciousness itself is pure, undefiled, and everyone of us has that within. This is the place to take refuge.
Open up your imagination, and in the field of your mind's eye. Imagine an immense city with lots of different neighborhoods, lots of different types of areas; some pretty, some scary, some poor, some rich, and this city is populated by tens of thousands of individual entities who go about their business. This city is your own mind. In the midst of this busy, busy place with all the rushing around and activity, and all the different types of desires and memories, and remembrances and worries, and hopes for the future that inhabit this city, in the middle, in an alley, in the trash, is a baby, crying, alone. And that baby is you; it is your own Consciousness, the Essence, which has been abandoned, forgotten. This is why we suffer. That baby is the Buddhata, the Buddha Nature; that baby represents our own inner development as a soul. We are in the very beginning stages of developing ourselves and we are very weak and terrified, naked and afraid, hungry. It is our job, our duty, our responsibility, to care for that child who is inside of us. That child is our own awareness, our own Consciousness, the embryo of our soul, the embryo of a Buddha. When we use the Consciousness, when we begin to take care of it, to pay attention, to not be a victim of this chaotic psychological city, to not just be caught up in all the conflicting desires and dramas that happen in this psychological city of ours, but when instead we strengthen that child through awareness, through attention, through transmutation, through Meditation, the child becomes strong, and quickly that child can grow very fast provided we take the time and make the effort. The child of our Consciousness can develop rapidly and we can very quickly begin to experience the true refuge that the Consciousness can provide to us. This is something that we talked about in the last lecture: the inner space of serenity, a psychological environment within which we can experience great peace, even when our circumstances are not peaceful. This does not arise mechanically, by evolution, or by chance. It will only arise by will, by the causes that we ourselves set up.
This is the first requirement to take refuge; and this is: to begin awakening our Consciousness.
Awaken the Consciousness
The awakening of our Consciousness does not occur in a future time; it is not going to happen tomorrow. It happens now, as we activate and utilize the Consciousness that we have; and this is, in simple terms, to exercise right will, to take psychological control, to take control of our mind, to not allow our mind to control our Consciousness, but to take control of it, to take control of ourselves.
This first needs to be done here and now, physically, in our physical body, in all our activities, whether they are exciting or dull--to direct the course of our own Consciousness by will. This is done, in synthesis, by learning how to be in conscious control of our three brains: to establish a permanent centre of gravity in the Consciousness. In other words:
- We no longer allow ourselves to be taken off into thoughts, by the thinking mind, by the intellect.
- We also never allow ourselves to be swept away by emotions in the emotional brain.
- Thirdly, we do not allow ourselves to be swept away by instinctive, motor, or sexual impulses related to the third brain.
In any given moment, in any given time or place, no matter what the intellect says, no matter what our heart is saying, no matter what our instincts or motor or mechanical behaviors or sexual desires are saying, we take conscious control and do what we know is right. It is that simple. We listen to the conscience.
The conscience is part of the Consciousness. Consciousness is our ability to perceive, pure perception. Conscience is our ability to perceive what is right and wrong, and this is related to intuition. When we learn this, we call it psychological equilibrium.
Psychological equilibrium is a state of psychological balance, and in this state of balance, we, as a Consciousness can very well manage all of the impulses that arise in our three brains, consciously-even with a powerful impact, we do not lose control of our mind. This is the challenge. Even when you are stuck in traffic, or somebody cuts you off on the road, or somebody is rude, or if somebody does something treacherous to you, or you have a great defeat in business or life, or you have a great success; in any case, you maintain your psychological equilibrium, you maintain conscious observation and control over your three brains. This is the definition of a fourth type of person, an equilibrated person; a person who has achieved psychological balance.
Without this, we cannot go further, it is not possible. You cannot go beyond and go into levels of initiation, levels of awakening in the internal worlds, until you can command your mind here and now in the physical world.
When you can maintain your self-observation and self-remembering from moment to moment, and exercise conscious control over your three brains, you have taken a huge step towards your own inner Buddha, because you have opened the doorway between you: the Consciousness. This is the first stage of practical refuge because we are relying on the Consciousness as our guide, protection, and support, instead of the ego. This does not mean the ego is dead yet, only that we are learning how to see it for what it is.
We have to take conscious control of ourselves. Once we are establishing that, making it consistent, not perfect - the perfection of it is not there until we are completely done, completely awakened and the ego completely removed - but once we have made some progress in establishing psychological equilibrium, we have made this equilibrium consistent, we can go further into deeper and more profound levels of taking refuge.
Initiation and Refuge
The entrance into practical, inner refuge occurs in levels that have requirements that are fundamental in the functioning of nature. These requirements are related to Tantra.
The first requirement is the development of psychological equilibrium. Without this, nothing more can be achieved. Until we acquire some degree of psychological stability, we will remain outside the door of real wisdom.
The path to acquire psychological equilibrium is called the Initiations of Minor Mysteries. These are probationary ordeals given to us by our own inner Buddha, to test us and prepare us for the greater works. We are tested in dreams and in life, to see how well we manage our three brains and our Consciousness.
Anyone who begins to practice these teachings seriously will receive these ordeals. A single, unmarried person can do this work on their own Consciousness, can establish themselves in psychological equilibrium, can meditate deeply and transform themselves, eliminating many of those defects that inhabit the mind. They can awaken their Consciousness and achieve a great deal of realization, comprehension of Dharma.
The Major Mysteries
To go beyond the Initiations of Minor Mysteries requires the Tantric mysteries of sexual cooperation. The Major Mysteries are the process of being born again, and birth is always a result of sex. The Major Mysteries are the process of creating something new, a new kind of vessel, a new kind of vehicle: the solar bodies, symbolized in myth and religion as a chariot, ark, boat, etc. The solar bodies are a vessel for the Consciousness. This vessel must be created in the same way anything is created in nature: through sex. In this lecture we do not have time to investigate the depths of this mystery, but there are many books and lectures you can study about it.
The Major Mysteries harness the sexual energy that exists within us to be transformed and utilized in the Dharmic way, in the Tantric way, to conquer desire, to conquer the animal that is within.
To summarize that process, we say that there are a series of initiations that the Consciousness has to go through. It is the Consciousness who faces the ordeals, the difficulties, the challenges, the tests, and who has to overcome the ordeals, and challenges, and tests, in order for the Inner Being, the Inner Buddha, to receive the initiations, to receive the advancement, to receive the gifts. These initiations are related to the Tree of Life, and to describe them in detail would require many, many, many, many lectures. But in simple terms, these initiations begin with the physical world, with the physical body, and gradually, step by step, the initiate marches consciously inwards, from body to body, from level to level, from dimension to dimension. All the while he must face himself, face the truth of the false sense of self, and overcome it.
Once we consciously dominate ourselves physically, and we are making consistent our psychological control in this physical world, we extend that into the astral world; we begin to establish this Consciousness in our dreams, when the physical body is resting.
You cannot awaken, sustain, and manage your psychological equilibrium in the astral world if you cannot do it in the physical world. You must start here and now, physically. You work physically. It is hard, but it can be done.
Once you have begun working in the astral world, the requirement is that you learn how to consciously control your astral presence, your astral Consciousness. We do not say your Astral body because you have to create that first through the Major Mysteries. Even an unmarried person can work to dominate their astral experience; but they cannot create an Astral body. In Tibetan Buddhism the Astral body is called the body of illusion, the illusory body; there is one that has to be destroyed, and one that has to be created.
From working consciously to establish psychological equilibrium in the level of the astral world, we go deeper to the Mental body, the body of thought, and the same process ensues: to develop conscious psychological equilibrium in the mental world. From there we go beyond that, into the causal plane, to develop conscious domination over our causal experience.
These levels of existence may sound very far away from you, but they are not. When you are in your physical body, your other bodies are present; all of these aspects of our physiology interpenetrate. When you are in your physical body and you experience the sensation of thought, you are seeing the reflection of your mental world, your Mental body. In our case it is lunar, mechanical, protoplasmic. The emotions that we feel and sense are related to the lunar Astral body, the kama rupa, the "body of desire." These are real vehicles, vessels, that we experience physically through our thoughts and feelings. We begin dominating them here, physically, by learning to be conscious of ourselves, physically, and to manage our psychological centers, physically. Later we go deeper into those worlds to dominate those parts of our psyche more directly.
In synthesis, it is necessary for us to create solar vessels, solar bodies. These are vehicles of a superior nature, created through the process of Tantra, which is transmutation of the sexual energy in accordance with the will of the Buddha. This symbolized by the seven serpents that we see over the head of the Buddha when he is threatened by the flood, when Mucalinda comes to help him. This is the Naga king, the Kundalini serpent, the Divine Mother, who protects him from the flood waters and the rain. The Buddha was taking refuge in his solar bodies, in his Divine Mother. This is the symbol from the life of the Buddha.
This is how we develop the capacity to take refuge in ourselves. These seven serpents are related with these first seven spheres on the Tree of Life. When we develop psychological equilibrium, and we begin to create those solar bodies, they are armor. That is why they are called To soma heliakon (Greek): "the body of gold of the solar man." They are armor for the Consciousness. They are symbolized in the opera "Carmen" by Bizet by the toreador who wears his splendorous suit of gold. The toreador is the one who fights the bull: the ego. But the toreador is always dressed very well, and has a sword, and he symbolizes the human soul (Tiphereth), the Consciousness, dressed in its vesture (the wedding garment of the Gospels, the solar bodies, the armor of the warrior). That armor provides protection, refuge, but only if we use it consciously.
Having the solar bodies is not a guarantee of protection or success. They are a tool we can use well or use poorly: it is up to how we use our Consciousness from moment to moment.
The Three Mountains
To create the solar bodies is actually easy. At this stage, the difficulties have not even begun yet. To create those solar vessels is only the very, very beginning of the work. It is only the first portion of the First Mountain, and there are Three Mountains that we must cross to reach the Absolute, or the complete development of the human being.
The First Mountain is the Mountain of Initiation, which consists of:
- seven serpents of fire (the Major Mysteries where the solar bodies are created)
- the serpents of light (the Venustic Initiations where the solar bodies are perfected)
These are two great processes. In the first, the solar bodies are created, through Tantrism. In the second, the solar bodies are purified and prepared to enter into the Second Mountain. But in order to go to that point, there is a great decision that has to be made and this is related to the sphere of Tiphereth, the human soul itself, the Consciousness itself, the Buddha Nature.
The Two Paths
When we have developed the solar astral, solar mental, and solar causal bodies, we face a choice: to continue onwards by taking the spiral path or the direct path. In other words, to continue on as a Pratyeka buddha or to continue on as a bodhisattva, and these are very different.
The Pratyeka buddhas become Nirvanis, Arhats, or Initiates, who have awakened Consciousness to a certain percentage, who created the solar bodies (in the seven serpents of fire), and who have acquired a certain degree of refuge in nirvana; and they stay there, working slowly and gradually little by little, to free themselves more. And this is a good path; it is a path of love, it is a path of relative compassion. But, there is a greater path.
The direct path takes the initiate through the serpents of light and then on to the Second and Third Mountains. Only the bodhisattvas can do these great works. This path is very difficult and very painful, and presents a requirement upon the initiate which is nearly unbearable; and that is simply: to pay the entirety on one's karma now--karma that we have acquired throughout all of our previous lives, to be paid immediately.
The decision that is made at this juncture of the development of the Consciousness is a decision that must be made by our Inner Buddha, by the one who is within. And it depends upon his Dharma, his truth; that Inner Buddha and his own idiosyncrasy.
Over the course of this humanity there have been many, many initiates who have entered into the spiral path, who have become awakened initiates, who have become Buddhas of Nirvana. An uncountable number have entered into that good work, and have acquired some experience of the cessation of suffering. But there have been very few who have had the strength, the endurance, to take the straight path, and thus there are not very many bodhisattvas, in the full meaning of the word.
Levels of Sangha
Here we differentiate between the two primary meanings of this word. There are many who aspire towards the bodhisattva path, who take the "bodhisattva vows" of Buddhism, and who teach and speak of the bodhisattva work, and this is all good and useful; yet, many Nirvanis speak of the bodhisattva path, many Pratyeka buddhas and walkers of the Sravakayana path speak of the bodhisattva path. But there are very few who actually become a bodhisattva in the full meaning of the word. Very few. We can only name some: Krishna, Moses, Jesus, some of the Dalai Lamas (probably all of the Dalai Lamas), Milarepa, Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava), the Buddha, Moses. All the great ones, really. The greatest leaders, the greatest messengers were walkers of the straight path, the direct path. That is how they acquired those great realizations, great insights into nature. The bodhisattva are always revolutionary.
Here we have to go a little further into our understanding of the Sangha, because the Sangha has two broad levels.
There is the Sangha of the Nirvanis of the spiral path, of those awakened initiates who have acquired some experience of nirvana and some awakening but do not experientially know the path of the Boddhisatva, therefore they cannot teach it. They may speak of it, they may refer to it, they may talk about it, but they cannot teach it experientially because they do not walk on it.
The second group of Sangha is constituted by the bodhisattvas themselves who are always revolutionary, who are always controversial, who are always betrayed; this is the nature of that path. The walkers of the bodhisattva path face all the greatest difficulties, all the greatest ordeals, all the greatest sufferings, but they also receive the greatest triumphs.
The initiates of the bodhisattva path are the only ones who can fully awaken the Buddha within, to its highest degree. The walker of the bodhisattva path is the only one who can become a Nirmanakaya, a Sambogakaya, or a Dharmakaya. These three kayas are related to the three highest degrees of development, the three top spheres on the Tree of Life. These three degrees are reached after Resurrection. In other words, the initiate mirrors the drama of the Christ. The initiate passes through all the suffering and terrible ordeals that Jesus passed through, and all the other great initiates passed through. Then he dies. When he dies, the body of liberation is born. This is the rainbow body. This is the beginning of the trikayas, and this is where the initiate enters into the Third Mountain. Previous to reaching this level, the initiate - from the moment of choosing the direct path, to the moment of completing the Second Mountain - has to eliminate the entirety of the false sense of self. The entire ego, all karma, must be conquered. This is very difficult. It is symbolized by the twelve labors of Hercules, the many superhuman works that have to be performed.
These three kayas - Nirmanakaya, Sambogakaya, Dharmakaya - are the ultimate Sangha. This is the Sangha of the Resurrected Masters; the highest Initiates in the cosmos, the true Rosicrucians: Maitreya, Guru Rinpoche, Moses, Krishna, Samael. Jesus is the highest one, but all are incarnations of Christ, also known as Chenresig, Avalokitesvara, Quetzalcoatl, Kuan Yin, and many other names.
The Dharmakaya is the ultimate expression or ultimate vehicle of this level of Sangha. The Dharmakaya is the truth body; but it is invisible to us, because we do not know the truth. Therefore, in their compassionate service to all beings, these great bodhisattvas - for again, only bodhisattvas can reach these levels - use their lower bodies which, in their conjunction, are called the Rupakaya: the bodies of form. They use these manifestation bodies to assist us because this is the very purpose of the bodhisattva: to serve, to sacrifice, to help.
These three kayas, the seeds of them, the potential for them, is inside of your own Buddha nature. Any person, any being, can develop and elaborate and realize the nature of their own Dharmakaya, their own formless body, truth body. Anyone who has sufficient will can do it. But this is not just an idea, it is not just a theory; we have to reach it through our experience.
The Dharmakaya is the body that the Buddha uses in the Absolute, in the Emptiness, in the No-thing. Our own Inner Buddha, in its nature, in its essence, is the Dharmakaya. The Dharmakaya is nothing that can be conceived. It cannot be explained, it cannot be seen; it has no beginning, it has no end. It is perfect serenity, perfect peace, the ground of existence, and yet non-existence. Inside of our own Buddha nature is the doorway to our own Dharmakaya.
In the innermost level of meaning of the Three Jewels:
- The Buddha is the Dharmakaya
- The Dharma is the Sambogakaya
- The Sangha is the Nirmanakaya
These three kayas or forces are within us. These are all the parts of our Being, made perfect. They are the very tip of the arrowhead of Dharma; the very point and the very meaning at which we aim.
Gnosis itself, this teaching, is the Dharma taught by the Buddha Samael. That Dharma is maintained and expressed by the Sangha of Gnosis, who are all those initiates who are actualizing the teaching in themselves - not ones who believe in it, or who follow it, or who lay claim to it, but the ones who are doing it.
In other words, the Gnostic Dharma is a teaching of the direct path; it is not a teaching of the spiral path.
Gnostic Dharma is not a teaching to be toyed with or to be taken lightly; it is very serious. In one of his books, Samael warned, "Stay back profaners, Gnosis is a two edged sword." The meaning of that is: if we do not use it in the right way, it can actually harm. This teaching is very profound and has to be understood in the right way.
These three aspects that we discussed to reach the full knowledge of our own Buddha, to take refuge in our own Inner Buddha, are:
- first, to awaken our Consciousness, to learn how to use it (Minor Mysteries)
- second, to enter into and pass through all the required initiations (First and Second Mountains)
- third, to reach resurrection, and go beyond it (Third Mountain)
These three synthesize a lifetime of work, they collect together volumes upon volumes of knowledge that you have to acquire for yourself, through your own experience. The only obstacle you face is yourself.
Learn to see the illusion of your "I" for what it is.
Learn to take refuge in your Buddha nature, which is empty. This cannot be emphasized enough: the true nature of your mind is empty, clear, open; it is silent.
Another term for the Dharmakaya or for the Absolute is Clear Light. Clear Light is not a literal term. It is a descriptive term of an experience of reality. Samael Aun Weor called this the Illuminating Void, the Absolute. This is the ultimate nature of our mind, which is the Dharmakaya.
Your thoughts are not who you are, your name is not who you are, your memories, your desires are not real.
The only limitations you have are self-created.
Your Buddhata is limitless in its essence, in its nature. It is a vast expanse of emptiness and clarity and love.
When you do battle against your own mind, this knowledge can be a great refuge, but it has to become Dharma, your own Gnostic Dharma: experienced truth.
I had an experience recently in the mental plane, fighting against a very powerful warrior, who was terrifying in his appearance, very strong. I noticed in this experience that when I believed he was real, I could not cut him with my weapon. But when I consciously recalled that this entity I was fighting was empty of inherent existence, was an illusion of my own mind, I could cut him; I could defeat him; and I did. But it was only by that knowledge, consciously, remembering, looking at him, in that level of existence, and remembering, "He is not real."
This knowledge can work to help you transform your mind, but it requires that you become fully conscious of it. When you do so, you can take full conscious refuge in these Three Jewels in yourself.
Q: When a person is working on himself or herself goes through certain ordeals and passes them, can they go through that same ordeal again but only on a different level?
A: Absolutely. Our ordeals and problems often move in octaves, but you have to be very careful about this. If we face a challenge, an ordeal, a difficulty that is given to us to help us change, if we pass that and we really truly change sincerely, then we may face a similar challenge afterward, but it will be slightly different. This is good; we should not take it as though we failed the first one. We should take the ordeal and keep working. The problem comes when we think we failed or when we think we succeeded. It is necessary for us to not evaluate our progress with the ego. It might be that we did actually fail and the ordeal is simply repeating again. That can happen too. Either way, it does not really matter if we passed it or failed it; the fact is, we are facing the ordeal again. We have no choice but to face it again, and do better. The speculation about, "am I passing or am I failing?" is simply a speculation of pride and we have to reject that.
Q: Master Samael Aun Weor states, in Dream Yoga, that the mind is a receptive instrument ..(inaudible).. that statement alone is so powerful, that if you just remember yourself with that statement alone...and you receive impressions, one thought comes in one goes out, now, after all these years of Meditation and working on myself, I sort of got a taste of quieting the mind, and what happens is, it seems the ego even lets go sometimes and says, "o.k., here, you want a taste of this?"... and it is a fear of getting a taste of this Consciousness; it is like you do not know what to do with that kind of leisure, almost. So is that really a taste of Consciousness? Or is it really still the ego saying, "o.k. here"? Is this fear still, even letting go of this..(?)
A: The ego has many levels. You can meditate and access experiences in Meditation and still have the ego there, even in that experience. There are levels of the mind, and while we may acquire silence in one level of the mind, in other levels of the mind there will be activity, just more subtle. So we have to not identify; this is the difficulty. To learn how to do that is purely experiential. The basis of it is to withdraw your Consciousness from the element that is identified. And there are a lot of anecdotes and techniques that you can apply to that, which the Master Samael taught in books like the Revolution of the Dialectic. Fear is the difficult one, because the vibration of fear is so strong and deep. So when you access a state of Meditation, or want to, and fear is an obstacle, I propose to you that you simply turn and meditate on that fear. No longer seek the experience of silence. Do not look for it. Instead, meditate on the fear. In that way, eventually, you will remove that fear and it will not be an issue any more.
In reality, the entire process of taking refuge in the three jewels is a process of Meditation. When I talk about needing to dominate the physical body and the three brains, and to develop psychological equilibrium, it is impossible to do that if you do not meditate. It is impossible.
Meditation is the entire basis of Gnosis. If you do not meditate, if you do not understand Meditation, teach yourself how to do it. And this is the ultimate revelation about Meditation. No one can teach you to meditate; no one. Any genuine teacher of Meditation knows that; any true master of Meditation knows they cannot teach you how to do it; you have to teach yourself. It is internal, it is psychological, it is a work with the Consciousness which cannot be made theoretical and it cannot be made conceptual. As soon as you make it conceptual, you have lost it. Meditation has nothing to do with thought. As soon as you have thought, "I am meditating," you are not.
Q: Can Meditation be guided from outside?
A: No. Meditation is an internal process, which is related to the Consciousness. To access the true state of Meditation, we have to abandon the physical body one hundred percent. If you are still listening through your ears for guidance, you will remain in your physical body, therefore you will not access Samadhi.
The Master Samael wrote in a very beautiful way about the experience of Meditation, and about the experience of reality, which is the Emptiness, in many of his books, especially, Cosmic Teachings of a Lama, and also the book Fundamentals of Gnostic Education. The experience of Shunyata is possible for any student at any level. The obstacle is your own mind; and that is all. If you have sufficient courage to abandon thinking, to abandon norms, to abandon concepts and opinions, to become pure perception, introverted, and abandon even the physical world, but remain perfectly cognizant of the empty space between your thoughts, you can penetrate directly into that empty space and experience your own Dharmakaya, your own Buddhadhatu, your primordial original state, which is happiness. This does not require any fancy technique. It does not take years and years of Meditation; it does not take a book or a teacher. You can arrive at it in an instant, but you have to know how to cultivate the proper conditions for that experience to arise, and that is all inside of you.
Q: There are people who say, "I have to work on myself tomorrow, because today is the sixteenth, or today is the new moon, or today is" the whatever day it is, connected with some type of ‘bad number', so it does not matter what day it is, it does not matter the state of the moon, or what have you, the bottom line is...(inaudible) the teachings...you just have to work on yourself..(?)
A: Yes, we have a lot of mistaken ideas about when we should or should not work on ourselves. In reality, they are all excuses, evasions; the mind always seeks evasions; ways to avoid our seeing the truth. And there are innumerable examples of that, be they astrological, or theoretical, or religious.
Real Gnosis arrives when we awaken our Consciousness, now; no matter what is happening, no matter what day it is, whether it is day or night, whether we are sick or healthy, young or old. The inheritance that we have in our Consciousness is there, waiting, and if we stop ourselves from retrieving it, we have only ourselves to blame.
Q: Would you say that many students are preoccupied with the idea of finding a spouse when their priority should be working on their mind?
A: I would agree with that one hundred percent. There is no question about it. It is true that in Tantra, the importance of a spouse is paid particular attention, and this is because that relationship brings elements that are very necessary for our development, but there is an important thing to remember: we are here to take refuge in our own Inner Buddha, not a marriage, not anything temporal or physical. This physical body will come and go; it will die. Any marriage will come and go. Any situation in life will come and go. Our own Inner Buddha is always there and, in fact, he is the one who directs the course of how we pay our karma. If, in our particular work, we happen to be single, it is because that is what we need. We should simply accept that. It does not mean that you should sit still and not socialize or not be open to the possibility of a relationship. You have to always have an open mind, but you have to always remember, who are you taking refuge in, your desires, or the direction of your Innermost?