In this course, we have been talking about some of the preliminary steps that are required for any meditator. These steps start out first and foremost and foundational with the development of powerful attention. We have to learn concentration: to control our attention, how we pay attention. In Gnosis we call this Self-observation and Self-remembering.
Any individual who is trying to learn how to meditate but is not learning how to Self-observe at all times of the day and night will spend years being frustrated. Meditation is only deeper Self-observation. That is really all it is. It is deeper, it is more profound, it is more focused.
Live from instant to instant, from moment to moment, without the painful weight of the past, without worrying about the future. Relax the mind. Empty it of all thoughts, desires, passions, etc. Surrender to your profound interior God; completely forget all worldliness. - Samael Aun Weor
In Nature we have many polarities. We have the different spectra of light; all the way from the very low, very slow vibrations like the infrared, to the very high, very rapid vibrations. And we only perceive a very limited range of that light, a very small percentage; most of the light that surrounds us we do not see. It is exactly the same thing with the consciousness.
Thus we use the diagram of the Line of Being as a way to visualize the range of the consciousness.
The consciousness is light. But it is light that we do not necessarily perceive physically. We perceive it with another sense, and in Gnosis that sense is called Self-observation. It is literally a sense, a way of perception. But it is a form of perception that is before, or behind, sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch. It is before, or behind, imagery, imagination, fantasy, daydream, visualization. The consciousness is the root of perception. This must be perfectly understood.
So in any initiatic path, in any school of awakening or enlightenment, everyone must work with the consciousness. Without that, it is only theory and concept and thus it is meaningless and it has no effect on us except to change things in the mind, to change certain mental structures. We can go to a lot of schools and read a lot of books and go to a lot of teachers and absorb a lot of ideas but it will mean nothing to us in terms of the development of the soul, unless we apply that understanding to our own consciousness inside of us.
Let that be clear for everyone. Studying Gnosis is meaningless unless one applies the principles to one's root of perception. You have to apply the teaching practically within oneself; otherwise it is a waste of time. The same is true of reading the Bible, the same is true of reading the Koran, the same is true of reading any Sutra or Tantra. The principles expressed in all scripture deliver methods to work with the consciousness, to access the fundamental nature of consciousness, to make it work within us; those teachings that are positive encourage the consciousness to grow in the light of purity and chastity; those teachings that are negative encourage us to grow the consciousness trapped in desire and attachment.
The growth of the consciousness is the root of Taoism, the root of Hinduism, and all major religions. They are all about working with attention (concentration). All those systems begin with ethics, morality. Remember that this serves a twofold purpose; it teaches us how to pay attention, and second, it teaches us to stop creating karma. And again, any school or path or method to awaken that skips either of these steps will lead us into damnation, will lead us into suffering, will lead us into pain.
There are many schools, many religions, many teachers, many priests, many monks who teach techniques to work with attention, to work with consciousness, but they neglect to explain how to conquer desire. And because of that, many people find themselves in a very bad situation down the line, because they begin to awaken; but they begin to awaken in a negative manner.
Everything is a polarity in nature. The consciousness itself is also a polarity, just like acid and alkaline, positive and negative. We have positively awakened consciousness and negatively awakened consciousness. This is the difference between an angel and a demon, or a saint and a witch. Both know how to concentrate.
The difference is illustrated on the Tree of Life, the Kabbalah. Positively awakened consciousness is ascending, becoming lighter, naturally arising to higher realms, to higher forms of perception (this refers to the realms above Malkuth). Negatively awakened consciousness is heavier, more burdened with attachment, more burdened with weight, with karma (this refers to the realms below Malkuth. Malkuth is "the Kingdom" because it contains a mixture of all the other worlds; in the physical world one finds everything).
So if we are learning to practice techniques to work with the energies of the body, the three brains, to work with the consciousness, but we are not applying moralities, learning to change, to adjust our behaviors, to stop affecting others in a bad way, to stop affecting ourselves in a bad way, we wind up creating more weight in the consciousness and we begin to awaken negatively. This is very common.
In the Book of Daniel, in the Bible, it says:
And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. - Daniel 12:2
Most people do not see the true nature of the consciousness and are confused by desire. All the ethics and moralities of the true religions tell us to kill desire. This is the basis of true renunciation. This is the basis of all true sacrifice. This is the true meaning behind the stories of all the saints and yogis. This is the esoteric side of those stories we hear about yogis who renounce everything, and they live in the woods wearing burlap, and they eat roots. The meaning is not that we should do that and go live in the woods. The meaning is that we must renounce our psychological comforts, our psychological attachments, our ideas, our memories, our histories, our pains, all the things that we grasp onto as being real. The illusions that keep us suffering must be renounced.
This renunciation becomes easy when we truly understand the nature of the Four Noble Truths. The very foundation of the teaching of the Buddha Shakyamuni is that desire creates suffering. Obviously, this is in direct contrast to the programming we receive daily from our modern culture, through advertising, movies, television, books, magazines, music, etc. The Buddha taught that we must conquer all forms of desire in ourselves; this is the underlying direction in all forms of Buddhism.
A famous initiate said:
The personality and the things of the senses have to be sacrificed in order that the higher self may manifest.
Who do you think said that? It sounds Buddhist. But it was Dion Fortune. She was an English occultist.
We must sacrifice those things that we consider to be dear or important to us, like ourselves, our very name, our very idea of who we are. It is that idea that we suffer within, it is a cage that we, ourselves, have created, this concept of "who I think I am" or "who I want to be perceived as." That cage keeps us trapped. We cannot escape from suffering unless we remove the cage. The cage is our own mind. That mind has to be changed, and only we can do it. No one can do that for you.
The only way to change in a fundamental way is to kill desire. This may sound pretty extreme, but it is in fact the root of Christianity. Jesus of Nazareth said:
If any man would come after me he must first deny himself.
This is the first requirement of real Christianity: to deny oneself; the false self; desire. The Buddhists say the same thing, so did Krishna, so did Mohammed. Desire must die because desire is not compatible with God. Not at all. Desire belongs to the lower realms of Nature. It is an aberration, an aggregate, a block in the natural function of creation. It is what keeps us from experiencing what is real. So it must be removed.
This is really why we meditate. We meditate to understand the mind. Meditation is not a technique to have mystical experiences. You may have them, and if you persist then you definitely will. But it is not the point. Meditation is not about spacing out, it is about the opposite of that. It is about becoming extraordinarily perceptive. It is not about fantasizing; it is the opposite. It is not about getting high, or having ecstatic experiences. That may happen; but it is not the point. And meditation can become another part of the cage of our mind if we stimulate our desire for experiences. Many become stuck there.
The real purpose of meditation is to gather information about ourselves, to comprehend why we suffer and how we can change that. This is why we meditate. It has nothing to do with what most people call "religion," it has nothing to do with culture, with being with one sect or another group, or another club, or having a name or having a certain outfit that you wear. It has to do very simply with becoming a good human being. That is it. We meditate to become a good person. That is the real reason, the real motivation. Any other motivation is desire, is a false concept and will become a trap. (Some say, isn't the urge to know God a desire? Or the "desire" to be a good person? Gnosis tells us NO: because one thing is the desire of the mind and another thing is the natural needs of the consciousness. We will discuss this more later.)
Once these things are somewhat understood and we begin to work with the consciousness, to learn how to change, to stop acting mechanically, to change our anger, to change our habits, to begin to sacrifice things that are really irrelevant in our lives, from that place we can really learn what meditation is. We can begin to see the truth about the consciousness. But, as we have said, this requires a lot of sincerity, tremendous courage, and honesty. It does not mean you have to go and expose all your problems to everyone. It means you have to be brave enough to face your self-created illusions, the way you delude yourself, the way you keep yourself in ignorance, to be ignorant; ignoring the truth about yourself, your mind, how you are, how you behave, what you do, what you wish for. You can no longer avoid things if you want to understand what meditation is.
Meditation is about change. It is about changing ourselves to become better people. And if you do not have that intention then you are wasting your time here. There are millions of other schools that can help you get a lot of money if that is what you really want, or get a lot of power, or be popular, or be good looking or attractive. If you want those things, obviously there are places that can help you, but at a price. Everything costs something. Nothing escapes that law. Everything costs, nothing is free. You can have power, you can have money, you can have sexual attraction; but at what price? In the Gospels it says:
For what does a man profiteth if he gained the whole world but loses his soul?
Everyday in life we are making exchanges, all the time. And those exchanges mean you are exchanging what you have to get what you want. But what in you is making the deal? Can we really say that everything we do, we do fully consciously? Can we really say that? Can we really say in that everything we do we have full and attentive will behind it?
In Gnosis, we understand that we do not. At the most we have about three percent awareness of ourselves, because the human being at this stage of life has three percent free consciousness. Ninety-seven percent of our consciousness is trapped in the mind. That trapped energy - we all experience it. It is what we call ego, it is what we call desire, it is what we call anger, pride, lust, envy, fear, gluttony, all those characteristics that we all have, our karma. They are all desire, and they all have trapped consciousness inside of them. By beginning to apply our awareness we begin to observe how this functions in ourselves. We feel our anger rise up and we feel the will to (1) act from anger, (2) the thoughts of anger, (3) the emotion of anger. We want to hurt somebody, or make them suffer, to make them pay. That is desire. That is ego. That is a problem. Most of us go right along with those behaviors and think it is okay. "If nobody saw me, it must be all right." We are not realizing the karma it is producing, or the way it is destroying us, spiritually, psychologically and physically.
The illnesses that people suffer today have their root in psychological problems. Everything is psychological. Nothing escapes that. People have ulcers because they have anger. People have aids because they have lust. People have cancer because they have lust. People have heart disease because they have emotional problems. The list is endless. All the diseases that humanity suffers from have their root in psychological problems. But if we have the courage to begin to change then we can start to change that karma, to change our selves, to change the course of our mechanical life and make it conscious.
That 97% is what we call hell (the Klipoth), and for the most part we are not aware of it. There are many levels to the mind; it is quite deep. The goal of meditation, the goal of the path, is to make the unconscious conscious, to make the subconscious conscious and to make the infraconscious into consciousness. We must become fully conscious of all these aspects of ourselves and thus make that 3% into 100%.
The person who succeeds in freeing 100% of their consciousness is a Buddha, a Jesus, a Krishna, a Mohammed, a Saint Francis, all these great teachers who obviously have tremendous purity of heart. It is very clear that they had tremendous purity. The anger was gone. No lust, no pride. Just love. Pure love without attachments.
It is inconceivable to us that a human being can manifest such beauty. But every human being can. However, it does not come free, it comes with a price, and the price is your own life, every moment of life. You must dedicate everything in yourself to becoming free of your anger, of your pride, your envy, your fear; to observe it, to understand it, to remove it.
That is the meaning of Alchemy: To turn lead into gold. The real root of that teaching is to turn the psychological lead, the impurities of the mind and heart, and convert that by removing all the heaviness, the lead. Lead is a very heavy metal. If you remove the heavy metal, the natural purity rises out. That is the consciousness, the gold, the pure gold.
The way we accomplish such a profound thing is very exact and very demanding and unfortunately you will not be able to get the whole thing in a short course like this. The real teaching, the real practice, takes a lifetime to master. It is enormous. It encompasses everything. Nothing escapes the real science of awakening the consciousness. Everything in life can be understood when you understand that science.
Understanding arises as we take control of our attention. Right now our attention wanders, driven by desires, fears, worries, cravings, curiosities, hate. We are motivated by hidden agendas, submerged desires, and unconscious resentments.
To establish concentration is to control our attention through willpower, and in turn control our actions, to consciously and willfully control our behavior in all three brains.
Concentration is the conscious control and focus of willpower.
But who among us can consciously control our thoughts?
Who can consciously control feelings?
Can you decide how to feel when someone curses at you, ridicules you, hates you? Can you choose to feel serene at that moment? Probably not - like most of us, you mechanically react with pain, with hate, with some form of suffering. Whether you react externally or not - there is a reaction in your mind.
In Gnosis we understand that it is feelings and thoughts that drive all physical action: so if we cannot control our thoughts and feelings, then we cannot guarantee the control of our actions.
To change this requires willpower, concentration, sincerity, courage and sacrifice.
Meditation itself is exactly the same as growing a plant. To grow a plant you need certain causes and conditions. Meditation is the same. As long as we have the right causes and conditions then the result that we want will arise naturally, very easily, exactly like planting a seed. You clear the weeds, you make sure you have sun, air and light, sunlight. You plant the seeds and you make sure it stays clear of invaders like bugs or birds. You give it a little water and you wait. Meditation is exactly the same.
So first we must define the causes and conditions, what is it that we need and what is it that we do not need. It is really unfortunate that so many meditators and even meditation teachers will meditate for years and years and be missing one ingredient, usually something simple. And it will keep them from really understanding meditation and going further. You can encounter this sad truth in many places you go to study. The different instructors and schools may have a lot, but if they are missing one thing, some little thing, it is enough to keep the plant from growing. One thing. You can plant a seed but if it will not get any sun it will not grow. Or you can plant a seed but if there are a lot of weeds there the seed is going to be choked. It is not going to survive. It is the same with meditation.
So Self-observation, ethics, these are causes and conditions that are required to know how to concentrate and later to meditate. They are inescapable and unavoidable. They must be applied.
Learning to be mindful (concentrated) 24 hours a day is not easy and one cannot do it halfway. Everything you have must to be focused on that. It has to become your constant effort, the main thing that you are aware of, that you focus on: "How do I pay attention? How do I not pay attention? Where do I lose my attention? When do I start thinking again, start dreaming again, start fantasizing, worrying? What makes me do that? How do I change it?"
This may sound kind of boring; but without this condition, without concentration from moment to moment, there can be no awakening.
What is it to awaken? It is to see what one did not see before. Can such a thing happen automatically? Absolutely not! Nothing happens without causes and conditions, thus we can understand why so few people are positively awakened: because they have not produced the causes in themselves. However, there are many, many people who are awakening negatively, because they have become completely absorbed by their own ego.
The universe exists because the causes and conditions came together in order to create it.
Likewise, our physical body exists because of causes and conditions.
Thus, we must awaken in the same way; it is not a matter of belief or faith: it a result of working to establish the proper combination of factors.
The awakened consciousness is an experiential state of perception that does not arise randomly or merely by wishing for it.
How many people have had a lucid dream? Or astral experiences where you know there is a world beyond the physical world? You have seen it, you have been there, you have been awake and in that. If you are there you are awake, you know you are dreaming, you are not in your physical body. You are awake. But then you start thinking about something and this takes you right out of the experience. Some fantasy crosses the mind and you start living the fantasy and thus you lose the awakened experience.
To awaken in the higher realms, first you must awaken here. Everyday. As boring as your day might be, as mundane and repetitive, you must be attentive. Develop attention. From that, naturally, that plant will grow.
Take everything from each moment, because each moment is a child of Gnosis, each moment is absolute, alive, and significant. - Samael Aun Weor
The Tibetan Masters say:
First pay great heed to getting the proper causes and conditions together. Next, engage in the practice without agitation and without anxiety. Then, with the mind at ease, carry on to the end.
That is all it takes. It is simple. But it is remarkable how few people have the courage and fortitude to do it.
Once you begin to assemble the proper elements, inevitably one begins to face obstacles. From step one we must learn to comprehend what we are not seeing, even though the obstacles are right in front of our face. We usually cannot see the obstacle because it is ourselves, and you cannot see yourself unless you have a mirror.
One of the main teachings that is used in Dzogchen, a Tibetan school, is a mirror. You will see Dzogchen masters who are wearing a mirror around the necks, and carry them around. Sometimes they go to students to hold up the mirror. The point is not to be funny, even though sometimes it is. The point is that the mirror is the foundation of the school and the mirror is Self-observation. It is how we observe ourselves. Without it there can be no awakening. There can only be ideas and there can only be suffering. It is essential that we understand how to observe ourselves.
So we have talked so far about two aspects of meditation: Posture and concentration. These are two conditions, two causes that will produce results if we work with them in the right way. The posture is really simple. It does not matter so much which posture you choose. The only thing that matters is that you relax 100% and can remain attentive.
If you observe yourself now you will probably find tension all over your body. Most of the muscles of the body are tense most of the time. Tension is produced by activity of the mind. We are tense because of thinking, because of worry, because of anxiety, because of fear or pride, because of elements in the mind that are agitated and that produce tension in thought. The mind and the body are uniquely connected. They are not separate. They relate to each other in a very deep way. So to develop a good posture for meditation really means to learn how to relax all the time.
This is a very good secret for Self-observation. Relax. Any time you notice that you are tense it is because you are not paying attention to something. If you ever suddenly notice that you have tension it is because something in your mind has been processing without your awareness, subconsciously, unconsciously, infraconsciously. Something is producing agitation. That is your tension. Tension blocks meditation. It is ironic actually. To meditate all you have to do is relax. That is it. If you can relax well and maintain awareness then you can meditate very well. The problem is most of us do not know how to pay attention and most of us do not know how to relax.
So here is how we do it: Look at your life through Self-observation, find how you create tension in yourself. How do you create it? Because of your fear, because of your pride, because of shame, because of anger, because of envy.
Envy is a huge element to produce tension. We compare ourselves with our friends and neighbors and family members. "Oh, we are not doing as well as they are. I do not have that car. I do not have that much money. I am not that good looking." All this produces enormous tension.
What is tension? It is a vibration. That vibration is energy. That means that tension is wasting energy. And if we are tense all day long we are wasting energy all day long, enormous amounts.
So we start out with the intellect: thinking.
We have the heart: feeling.
We have the action of the motor instinctive.
All of these are wasting energy. For example, we perceive our friend who is better looking than us, and we feel envy. So we think about it, "I am no good," which produces tension, resistance, suffering. We are wasting energy all over the place.
Self-observation is simply learning to perceive this in ourselves, learning how to concentrate, pay attention, to notice it.
Then we must change it, and tell ourselves: "I do not care if he looks better than me we are both going to end up in the grave. The desires of the mind are truly irrelevant! They are really meaningless! They are concepts. Who cares! If I was blind I would not care!"
The same is true of having a wife or husband, or a girlfriend or boyfriend. We have our spouse and then we see someone else who is more attractive and it stimulates our lust and we become conflicted. "What do I do! I am married! But that person likes me!" If you were blind you would not care. It is an illusion. What we really want is love, which is emotional. It depends on nothing visual at all. It only wants emotional security. It does not care about what the person looks like. Anybody can give or receive love, real love. So lust is deceptive, as is envy, as is pride, as is fear. All those elements trap the consciousness. That is what we need to become aware of and change.
So first step: Relax, realize there is nothing to be tense about.
The second one is concentration. What is concentration really? When we sit to meditate we focus our attention. As we are now, we sit to meditate and we have a really difficult time keeping our attention focused on the mantra, or the candle, or the breath, whatever the object is. We fight and we get frustrated and we can hold it for two seconds and then the mind takes us away... We struggle to learn how to concentrate. But the truth is we already know how to concentrate quite well, just not in the right way.
The strong will is really the single-pointed will, as we see all too clearly in the drunkard who is too weak-willed to stick at any work, but shows an amazing tenacity in obtaining alcohol. The secret of a strong will, therefore, is to concentrate it upon a single object; this can only be achieved by eliminating all competing objects which divide the attention of the will and so fritter away its energies. This is one reason that sacrifice is said to be the first step in the Mysteries, for it is only by sacrificing ruthlessly all irrelevant interests that the single-pointed and potent will is obtained. - Dion Fortune, The Training and Work of an Initiate, Ch. 13
If you really want something you will not stop until you get it. Is not it true? In most cases? When it comes to an addiction or an obsession we can become extremely focused. We all have the capacity.
We may not have the will to do what is right, but we have enormous will (concentration) to do what is wrong.
Our willpower is absorbed by the ego, which means 97% of our own willpower is focused (concentration) on the fulfillment of desire, which in turn creates suffering. No wonder humanity suffers so much!
We have a great deal of capacity to pursue desire. If we are angry with someone we can remain so focused and attentive on that anger and on that situation that it will stay with us for days and we will never forget it, not for an instant, because it will be so persistently poking at us from inside. Does everyone know this quality? That is concentration, but negative. Why then can we not Remember Ourselves? Why then can we not be Conscious of Ourselves? Why is it so difficult to separate from anger? Because the consciousness is absorbed by the ego and we think we are the ego.
So this work to learn how to meditate requires great willpower (concentration) in order to change this percentage. So really we can say concentration is defined by willpower.
We all have willpower. But we have will to do wrong. We have will to feed desire. We have will to feed our pride, to feed our lust, to feed our fears. We have very little will to change. That is why very few people become angels. That is why very few people become saints. They cannot renounce their own evil will. They do not want to. Most people are so comfortable suffering they are not willing to renounce that, to change that. That is why humanity is in such darkness, simply because of desire. If we can change that, we can change everything.
Therefore, our effort needs to be super-human, because all we have to work with is the three percent of free consciousness. It must become very strong, very disciplined.
Now we need to comprehend how to apply Relaxation and Concentration. In the beginning, we learn preliminary concentration practices. These are not meditation. We learn to focus on a candle, to focus on our heart, to focus on the breath, to watch an object, to stare at an image or a statue, to meditate on a mantra. Or gradually we may work doing visualizations as a concentration practice. These come in stages relative to how concentrated we become. All of these things are preliminary, none of them are meditation; they are just concentration practices. So the essence of what we are working on in the beginning is only that: to learn how to concentrate.
To enter into real meditation you already must have a stable mind to some degree, because without it if you utilize other practices you will go nowhere. It is like going out in the midst of a tornado. You need lead shoes, otherwise it is going to carry you away. It is the same thing with the mind. As in the example of the ship on the ocean, you have to have a strong foundation, something to hold on to, otherwise the waves will drown you. So in the beginning we focus on our object.
Begin by concentrating on an external object. In this course, we suggest using the candle flame, because it is a living entity that is constantly changing. Truthfully, you can concentrate on a piece of wood, a rock, a candle, a statue, it does not matter. Later, once the mind has settled, you then begin to visualize that object. Later, with even more stability, you may concentrate on something without form. This is a simple summary of the stages of developing concentration.
So in the beginning, meditate on objects that are outside of you. Once you develop some capacity to concentrate, bring that object inside by visualizing it. Once you have that you move to something without form, like a mantra, like a name of God. Then you may move to sounds or songs or longer forms, things that are a little more abstract, until at some point the meditator has the capacity to meditate on things that do not have form, like the Absolute or the mind itself. That obviously requires skill. So these increase in levels of skill, in the required concentration.
Now in this course we are only going to study the preliminary nature of this type of concentration: how to meditate on something in order to develop stability of mind. We are not going to get into going into detail in the other forms, and the reason is they are not necessary. We do not have much time, thus we need to work very efficiently. We need to focus on the most practical, most penetrating techniques.
In reality, the wide variety of techniques you can find are the preliminary stages, the kindergarten of meditation, that prepare students so that they can eventually work on themselves psychologically in a very deep way. But in most cases all of the traditions from around the world belong to the past Age: they are appropriate for the humanities of previous times. To use those techniques now is too slow and too labor intensive and provides too little reward. This is why so many people try meditation a little and then give up. They do not get the fruit, because they are not using techniques appropriate to the current needs of humanity.
There are skills, techniques of meditation, that will allow you to move very rapidly in psychological work on yourself. In this course we are going to take you there very rapidly. Then, truthfully, it is up to you to measure your own speed, your own pace. In this course we will present the techniques, how they work, how to do them, how to apply them. It is up to you to use them. Like the Buddha said: No one can Self-realize you; you have to do it yourself. You have to walk on your own and you have to determine your own speed. You can go fast, you can go slow, it is up to you. Just do not stop. Keep making steps. Keep applying the principles.
Part of being relaxed is being drowsy. I know of somebody who can drink four espressos and sit to meditate perfectly well. I cannot do that. If I had a coffee yesterday I will not be relaxed today. So you need to be sure that what you do before your meditation actually supports your practice. It is a bad idea for most people to eat a porterhouse steak and mashed potatoes and cake and then try to meditate because they will fall asleep. Learn to be prudent, to manage your energy properly.
The best time to meditate is when you feel a little drowsy, like you want to take a nap or you just want to sit down - a perfect moment to meditate, because the body is naturally relaxing on its own and you just take advantage of that. Some of us get that feeling at around 4 or 5 in the afternoon some of us get that at 9 pm at night. Do not wait until midnight because you probably will be too tired. The best time of day to meditate is about 4 or 5 in the morning, around dawn, because the energies in the atmosphere are very positive for meditation. Most of us get up at that time and we fall right back to sleep. So again, it is a matter of prudence, learning how to manage your own energies to be disciplined. You need drowsiness and relaxation but you do not want to just fall asleep.
In the beginning you have to develop focus of attention, willpower, the ability to remain focused in spite of any distraction and sleep is a huge distraction. We all have a threshold beyond which we cannot carry consciousness. Most of us lose that as soon as we go to bed. As soon as we go to bed we are gone, 8-10 hours later we wake up. No memory at all of what happened. That must change. And as you develop the meditation that will change. You will start to remember more and you will start to become conscious when the physical body is asleep.
Once you have a relaxed posture it is very helpful to set a very strong determination that this will be the best meditation you have ever done. And I put it to you in that way because it is very easy and very fast for us to become lazy, to sit and start thinking "Oooh, again. So frustrating, so tired of this, why I am even bothering. My mind is like a donkey." With that attitude you have already ruined your meditation. You might as well not even bother because you have just set a precedence.
We all know very well that if you approach something with a positive attitude it is 90% likely it will be a positive experience. True? Yet, the reverse is also true: if we approach something negatively, it is more likely that the experience will be negative. We have the habit of approaching things negatively. We have to change that. Some people say that when you sit to meditate - smile! I think it is a little silly! But for some people it helps. Apply it, if it helps you - do it.
When you begin, take a moment to motivate yourself, to realize you are doing something to benefit yourself and to benefit humanity. You should take that with joy and with a lot of encouragement. Cultivate a sense of urgency, of importance and seriousness.
Having adopted a good attitude, it becomes much easier to relax.
Thought, feeling, and willpower must be totally liberated from the physical body. -Samael Aun Weor, The Aquarian Message
We must relax all three brains.
To relax the body, use your attention. Begin at the top of your head, and slowly and methodically become aware of every muscle and joint and tendon; move your attention over your body as if you are looking for something very small and subtle, and the only way you can find it is by relaxing. Each area that you examine needs to relax. You may find tension everywhere, even in places you would never expect to find it. Let it go.
It can be helpful to visualize the tension evaporating off of you like a black smoke.
Relax all of your muscles so that they become soft like a baby.
Next, relax your emotional center. Become aware of your mood. Notice any anxiety, fear, excitement, discouragement, resentment, anger, loneliness, irritation, self-loathing, self-love, etc. Become aware of them, and let them dissolve just as you let the tension go in the muscles.
Finally, become aware of the tension in your intellect. The chaotic flow of thoughts is actually a result of tension. Become aware of the variety of thoughts that are arising, and separate yourself from them. You are the observer, not the thoughts. The meditator must establish a permanent separation between the observer (the consciousness, the attention) and the observed (any phenomena: thoughts, feelings, sensations.)
In summary, true relaxation is in all three brains. We must release the tension in all three brains, and separate from all the sensations that arise in them. Only then can we as a consciousness, as an essence, enter into real meditation.
Once we are properly relaxed, we can begin to concentrate on our object. But inevitably, we must overcome the many obstacles that arise in us.
Now, generally speaking, every form of obstacle that we will encounter when we try to meditate will fall into one of these categories. It may not be obvious at first but with some practice we will start to see it.
The most prevalent and powerful obstacle to meditation is laziness. Laziness is really a lack of energy, a lack of motivation, a lack of interest; it is, at its base, distraction. There are three broad classifications of laziness.
Laziness: as Activity
The first type of laziness we call "activity." Why would you say activity is laziness? When we sit to meditate we are supposed to be concentrating on our object. But what happens? The mind does not want us to do that. The mind wants us to pay the bills, to bake a cake, to go for a drive, to walk the dog, to get a burger, to go for a ride, it wants us to do a lot of things, to worry about work, to worry about money, to worry about the kids, to worry about our friend, our mom. It wants us to think. It wants us to go and do things. It wants us to worry about things. It wants us to be tense, to make plans. That is "activity"; the activity of the subjective mind. It is the laziness of the consciousness. In this state, the consciousness is not actively working; it is passive, absorbed by false hopes, false ideas, false dreams, false impressions. The attention is not being consciously focused. Instead, our attention is being pulled around by the raging sea of thoughts, ideas and sensations. The mind is distracting us with all kinds of worldly activity and it is a huge obstacle. This is the primary obstacle that stops meditators because people do not understand how to get past it. That is why it is the first one on the list. It is the most important to understand. In synthesis you could say this is attachment to worldly activity.
If you sit with the intention to meditate but all you do is get wrapped up in the worldly activity in your mind, you are wasting your time. You have to develop your capacity through willpower to step above it, and nobody can do it but you. Naturally, there is an antidote for laziness which we will discuss shortly.
Laziness: as Procrastination
The second type is procrastination. Generally, this type of laziness comes up before we meditate. It is that thought that comes up that says, "Oh, I can meditate later. I have plenty of time. Let me vacuum the house first, and mop, and clean the fridge, and I have to throw out that old food that is in there. And I have to do something about those papers. And I have to call my mom. And I have to go through the old mail." Endless. Endless! And I will tell you something I have discovered. You can make a list of all those things and try to get them all done and you will find the list grows. Because as you do everything you need to do, you find more things to do. That seems to be a law of nature. The list can never die by doing it. It can only die by burning it! So we need to develop the discipline to change that habit.
Who is procrastinating and why? Question your own mind. What is it you are avoiding by procrastinating? Why avoid meditation? Who wants to avoid that? It is very interesting. It is not your spouse, it is not your cat. It is your own mind and why would your mind want to avoid meditation? Because real meditation takes the energy away from the subjective mind. The mind is threatened. You are trying to kill the negative elements of the mind and those elements do not want to die. So there is tremendous resistance.
Laziness: as Despondency
The third is despondency or self-denigration. "Oh why bother! I cannot meditate! Why should I? What is the point? My mind is a bucking bronco. It does not listen. It is never quiet. I have never had Samadhi, why should I even try now."
Again, a favorite technique of the mind to keep us from trying. It is just one of the many lies the mind uses to keep us from doing the work. It uses this lie because it is threatened; the mind knows very well that we have the capacity to meditate. But it also knows very well that we have doubt. And so it uses that to keep us from working.
The nature of all these forms of laziness is to be attached to something in the mind, some kind of desire, some kind of attachment. Generally speaking, it is an attachment to some form of suffering. We may be attached to feeling bad about ourselves; many of us have that. Or we are attached to feeling really good about ourselves, and if we meditate we might see it that we are fundamentally mistaken. So we avoid meditation. Or we are attached to getting all the things in life that we really feel we deserve and we just do not have time to meditate. "I deserve a bigger house, I deserve to be famous, I deserve that money, why should I meditate? I do not need to change. I better spend my time making plans." It is all an illusion; we just happen to believe it is real. Laziness manifests in millions of varieties, but the antidotes remain the same.
The first antidote is called pliancy. And this term is really just saying "experience." Pliancy is really just a term that means flexibility, versatility, and really the meaning of it is "the experience of the consciousness." In reality, pliancy is just the experience of being free of the mind. It is the experience of true happiness, real joy, bliss. Some people call it Samadhi, some people call it satori, some people call it ecstasy. The old Eleusian mysteries called it "manteia." And it just means "ecstasy, bliss, joy." It is the natural happiness of the consciousness. Everyone has experienced it. But it becomes much more difficult the older we become. When we were children, when we were babies, we experienced it all the time. But as we developed the personality and as our mind incorporated into us we lost the taste of the freedom of the consciousness.
Once we know the experience of the consciousness, then we know how screwed up the mind is. Once we have tasted the freedom of being out of the mind, we know how mistaken we have been. A good example is a strong astral or lucid experience. You can experience so much freedom, so much joy without the influence of desire.
We can experience this taste in the eyes of a baby. That is why we are attracted to them, because they have the pure consciousness and we see it and we remember, on a very subtle level, what it was like before we had all these problems.
We taste pliancy when we start to develop Self-observation, Self-remembering and Meditation. This taste is without question the most powerful antidote for laziness. Once you have tasted the freedom of the consciousness, the mind cannot trick you with laziness, with procrastination or with self-doubt. It will try and it will use many tools but it becomes more and more difficult because the consciousness knows. If we feel that we have not experienced this taste, how do we develop it? That is the next antidote.
Recognize the harm that a wandering mind creates. Contemplate the nature of the teachings. Recognize that we ourselves have the potential to become something greater. From these we develop great enthusiasm, joy to do the work. So naturally, if we have enthusiasm to meditate, then we will have the experience of meditation. Thus we will have pliancy, thus we can combat laziness.
How do we generate enthusiasm? We think of the advantages of concentration, of strong attention, of self-observation. We recognize that if we really understand how to pay attention, we will be less likely to make mistakes. We will be less likely to hurt ourselves. We will be less likely to hurt other people.
We should be very enthusiastic about developing these skills because we can make life in our little corner of the world a little better. We should think and realize that this teaching will take us to see the truths of life. We know already that there is more to life than cars, money and sex, otherwise we would not be studying this knowledge. We all know that there is more to life than what we perceive.
There was a Theosophist by the name of Leadbeater who said:
It is the commonest of mistakes to believe that the limit of our perception is also the limit of all there is to perceive.
We all suffer from that illusion, and it is false. The range of our perception is extraordinarily narrow, limited to right here in the physical world, because we are asleep. Sometimes we are fortunate and we may perceive something from some other realm. Having that experience gives us enthusiasm. Enthusiasm leads us to practice, which gives us the experience of the consciousness, which combats laziness. To develop more enthusiasm we really just need aspiration and that is the next antidote.
An aspiration is simply a longing to achieve something dear. It is to have a longing in the heart to know what real love is; not conditional love, not sensual love, but conscious love, which is beyond the mind, beyond the physical body, beyond Republican or Democrat, American or Chinese or Indian. It is unconditional, and it is the natural right of every human being, and we can achieve it through conscious work and voluntary suffering. But it comes with a price. We have to renounce ourselves. That aspiration is to aspire to be free from suffering. Someone who really comprehends the nature of suffering has tremendous aspiration and enthusiasm, which naturally and quickly takes them to the experience of the consciousness, to Samadhi.
If we really consider the nature of suffering, we will generate tremendous enthusiasm. However, we typically ignore suffering and believe we can escape it, and yet we suffer everyday. Because we are separated from our own inner Spirit, we are separated from all the realities of God, and this is suffering.
When we begin to see that everything we once thought was important actually means nothing, we are close to developing this quality. At that moment, we are at a crossroads, through which we can either enter into despair and self-destruction, or into tremendous enthusiasm for self-change.
To develop aspiration there is only one requirement and that is faith.
What is faith? It is not belief. Belief is a concept; Faith is knowing. We have faith when we know something is true because we have experienced it. We have faith when we know in ourselves, even if the mind does not believe it. The consciousness knows, the heart knows. We need faith to have aspiration. Through faith we aspire to become Self-realized. We have faith in knowing there is something more to life. Somehow we all have that faith because we are all here today. By some means we all have that, to some degree. We have all had experiences that have given us the faith that this teaching is offering something fundamentally real and important.
What gives us more faith? Experience, which is pliancy, the first antidote.
So here is a nice little cycle for you. To have faith you have to have experience. But to have the experience of the consciousness you have to have the enthusiasm to do the work to get it. But to have the enthusiasm to get that experience you have to have the aspiration to achieve it. And to have that aspiration you have to have faith. It feeds itself.
These things grow as you work, as you use your willpower, as you observe yourself, as you understand yourself. You cultivate faith, you cultivate aspiration, you cultivate enthusiasm and naturally you arrive at the experience. You cannot force it. The plant grows according to the laws of Nature. All you can do is provide the causes and conditions.
These are the required causes and conditions: Consciousness, willpower, relaxation. From these three, which are really one, you apply the antidotes in accordance to how the mind interferes.
In short, it really comes down to inspiring ourselves to start anew everyday. If your meditation practice is getting frustrating, take a walk. Shorten your practice time. Do not be so hard on yourself. Get some fresh air, wash your face, get a drink of water. Your practice should be refreshing, not a burden. And if it is a burden it is because you are doing something wrong. Simple. Watch for that in yourself. If your practice is a burden you are doing something wrong. There is no one to blame but yourself. The teachings cannot be blamed because they have helped millions of people. Every Buddha who became a Buddha used the same tools that we are teaching here. If they worked for those Buddhas and those Saints, then they will certainly work for us. So we cannot blame the knowledge. We cannot blame our teacher or our spouse or the dog, or the neighbor, because they cannot do it for us. And if we just blame ourselves ad nauseam that is just another form of laziness. If we are the only ones who can do it, then we must find out what is preventing us from doing it. If it is an element in our psyche, we must work to remove it. If it is something in the knowledge that we do not understand, then we must seek to comprehend the knowledge on a deeper level. These are the only solutions that will produce the result we need.
We have to do the work, cultivate the inspiration, practice, and be patient, and that seed will sprout and grow naturally.
The second fault and another huge obstacle for many people is called forgetfulness. When we sit to meditate, let's say we follow all the steps, we have great enthusiasm, we get in our chair, we have the nice music and incense, and the shades are down and the candles are there and we are ready to go and we start meditating... and before we know it, a half hour has gone by and - "Hey! I was supposed to be meditating! I was thinking about the dog and that funny TV show." You forgot what you are suppose to be doing. Forgetfulness is when we lose awareness of the object of meditation.
Forgetfulness is marked by periods of time within which we have no awareness that we originally intended to be meditating, and instead we are dreaming, thinking, remembering, wondering...
In the beginning we constantly lose awareness. It seems like we lose the awareness more than we can hold it steady. In the beginning, the mind seems to be getting worse. The mind seems more active; there are more thoughts, more intensity, more activity, more agitation, more pain. But it is not that there is more activity than before, it is that you are looking at your own reality for the first time.
Your mind is going to make you think, "This practice is hurting me, it is wrong, we should not do this meditation because it is messing me up." It is not that. You are already like that. You just have not noticed it before. Be patient. Keep watching.
The antidote for forgetfulness is simple. It is the opposite of forgetfulness. It is mindfulness.
Mindfulness is an exact, scientific term: it means that we must maintain a continuity of awareness. If you sit to concentrate on a candle and you can hold your awareness on it for 30 seconds and then you forget and 5 minutes go by and then you remember what you set out to do: right there you are seeing how you live your life. You are living your life forgetting yourself. You are in self-forgetting, not Self-remembering. All you have to do is cultivate Self-remembering, mindfulness; be more attentive during the day. Pay attention.
This is why monks and nuns use rosaries and beads. It is called "Japa" in Sanskrit. It is a technique to develop mindfulness, to be present. You see pictures of monks in Tibet and yogis in India and they have beads which they constantly work between their fingers. The Catholic monks and nuns do this too. The Catholics and the Tibetans are supposed to be doing the same practice: being mindful, being present, being attentive, remaining focused on an object without distraction. They are developing continuity of awareness, or in other words, continuity of Self-observation.
So it is simple: if in your meditation you keep forgetting the object of meditation, cultivate mindfulness in your daily life. Then when you meditate you will have more mindfulness and you will not forget. The obstacle is that the mind is a big, big machine that wants to distract you. Mindfulness has to be cultivated all day long in every experience, without exception.
Excitement and Stupor
Excitement and stupor are two sides of the same coin. If we meditate and we find that the mind is cloudy and dull, it is murky, then we have stupor; there is no clarity, we cannot perceive anything in the mind clearly, there is a fog or a haze on the mind. This is caused by agitation. It is the same thing as if you stir up a lake; all the mud rises and it becomes dirty and hard to see through. Excitement is the same thing. It is a form of agitation. And they each have different levels. You may have a certain degree of concentration or clarity, but alongside a subtle stupor, like there is a boundary or barrier in the mind. It may like a fog that you cannot quite penetrate.
The antidotes varies for this. Often times taking a quick walk helps to clear the mind, or washing your face, or stretching. If you have a stupor in the mind, like that cloudy dullness, make the room light and airy. Stretch for a minute. Bring in some air. Clear it out. That often will help to evacuate it right there.
You can visualize a beautiful flower in your heart and the quality of that image can help dispel that murkiness. If you have that kind of dull stupor where it is really hard to focus and stay concentrated, you can visualize a bright sun in your mind, in your head, and that can also evaporate the dullness.
There are many techniques that help. For an agitated mind, if the mind is active, active, active, and it just will not calm down, a good technique is to open your eyes, sit quietly and to observe all impressions with profound attention. Observe everything that is coming into you in that moment, all the visual information, the sounds, the feelings, taste, smell, everything, so you become your ability to perceive, and are no longer thinking. It takes willpower. But it has the capacity to break an agitated mind rapidly.
All of these techniques work, however, there are much more powerful techniques to remove excitement and stupor and the other obstacles. They include mantras and visualizations and pranayamas. We are going to learn about all those practices in later chapters.
A final fault that we should note in particular is Impatience. Impatience is really some ego of pride that wants to do well. The consciousness simply IS; it does not need to prove itself or show itself to anyone. When we feel agitated because we want others to think we know how to meditate, then we need to take control of our pride.
The craving for experiences generates enormous impatience, because the one who craves experiences of Samadhi or Astral Travel is the ego.
We should also let go of the desire for a calm mind. This is a big obstacle for many people. Ironically, many people try to learn how to meditate but when they see how agitated their own mind is, they become irritated and filled with desire for a still mind; this, of course, only creates more agitation, and naturally such a person abandons the practice because that desire is never satisfied.
If we are persistent and sincere, and it we constantly revise our method of practice through study and comprehension, the mind will settle on its own.
The stillness of the ocean of the mind is not a result, it is its natural state. The swollen waves of thoughts are merely an accident produced by the monster of the "I"... - Samael Aun Weor
If you really want to understand where this course is going, you should be meditating everyday, at least 10 - 15 minutes everyday. Short sessions are great because you can be very focused and not lose your sense of direction. Longer sessions are harder to maintain, especially in the beginning. So I hope you will be serious and disciplined about that because if you do not develop some stability of mind, the practices we are going to study later will be inaccessible to you. You will not be able to use them. You must have some degree of concentration.
Traditionally you would only learn these skills as part of a very long retreat. We would need a long period of meditating every day, all day long, for you to understand the techniques we will study at the end of the course. That would be purely concentrating the attention for 8-10 hours a day, just meditating on the candle or your breath or something like that. So it requires discipline and it requires commitment. I encourage you to develop that. Ten to fifteen minutes a day is not much. Of course, it means more if you are trying to Self-observe. Then, you are actually trying to develop concentration all day long.
To enter contemplation for the time
It takes for an ant to walk
From one end of ones nose to the other
Will bring more progress towards realization
Than a whole lifetime spent in the
Accumulation of good actions.
- The Buddha Shakyamuni
Continue the previous practice of relaxing, vocalizing the vowel O and then concentrating on the candle flame. After about ten minutes of observing the candle with your eyes open, close your eyes and visualize the candle flame. If you lose your attention into thinking, simply return to the visualization. Apply the techniques from this lecture. Do not become tense. If you find that you are unable to maintain your mindfulness when you close your eyes, then simply continue to concentrate on the candle with your eyes open. Try again another day to close your eyes and visualize. Little by little we develop these skills. Regardless, do this practice every day!
It is also useful to begin the following practice as given by Samael Aun Weor.
Practice to Develop the Imagination
First: The syllables Ma Ma, Pa Pa, Ba Ba are the first syllables which we articulate in childhood. You can start the Initiation with these syllables. You must sing these syllables while assuming an innocent and infantile attitude. You can learn the intonation of these sacred syllables when listening to The Magic Flute of Mozart.
Mozart placed these syllables in his marvellous opera. The disciple must fall asleep assuming an infantile attitude while remembering the first years of his childhood and then mentally singing the sacred syllables.
The word Pa Pa should be vocalized intoning the first syllable Pa in a high voice, then the second syllable Pa will be uttered in a lower voice. These two syllables should be pronounced many times. You must do the same thing with the syllable Ma.
Fall asleep while meditating on your childhood. Review with your imagination your whole childhood and mentally articulate the sacred syllables.