Up until now we have talked about Meditation technique, Meditation terminology, Meditation foundations, the outline and structure of Meditation specifically how it is illustrated in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition by this painting of the nine Stages of Shamatha or Meditation Stability.
Those stages of meditative stability or serenity are experiential observations of the quality of heart, mind and body that are necessary to successively pass through in order to reach what is called “pliancy” which is what is illustrated at the top of this image. Pliancy is a quality of psychological and physical experience where your body and your mind become obedient, willing helpers in your spiritual life instead of being obstacles or impediments. Most people when they try to learn to meditate find that the body and the mind will not sit still. It is too agitated, too full of desires, discomforts, always seeking distraction with an itch and a scratch and a pain and discomfort, and hungry and thirsty and all of the different things that the body calls for and then the mind as well with its thoughts and feelings, its memories and worries and projections. All of that psychological and physical chaos that afflicts us and prevents us from learning what Meditation really is.
The first ten lectures of this course have been about what you need to understand to take yourself from being in the state of chaos that everyone is in now in this era, to a state of serenity physically and psychologically. No one can give you that. You cannot buy it. You cannot find it in any other country or any other city. You cannot find it anywhere except inside of yourself and it is something that is cultivated by the choices that you make from moment-to-moment. How you choose to use your body and your mind create the state of the experience that you are having now. If you are stressed, agitated, conflicted, clouded with thoughts, emotions and physical discomfort, it is because of how you are using your body and mind from moment to moment that you have that experience. That is cause and effect. You have produced the causes that have resulted in the effects that you are experiencing now.
Meditation is exactly the same fundamental basis of cause and effect. If you produce the causes using your body and mind wisely you create the effect of serenity. It is not dependent upon time, money, status, when or where you live. It is entirely dependent upon how you completely use your energy. It is dependent upon nothing else.
Let us understand why this state of serenity is so important. Why is it necessary? Firstly it is important because our current state is a state of suffering and everybody can agree with that. If we talk about what suffering it is not merely to be in physical, emotional or mental pain, but we suffer from a profound state of not knowing. Not knowing who we are or why we are here. We suffer the uncertainty of our future and the uncertainty of our purpose. We do not know when or how we will die. In fact, we are scarcely aware of the fact that we will die. We are not prepared because of that fundamental ignorance that we do not want to deal with the inevitability of death. We prefer to avoid that and distract ourselves instead of preparing for it. This state of profound ignorance is really the significant basis of every world religion, the state of suffering of humanity, how to deal with it and how to change it.
Bhavachakra: The Wheel of Becoming
In Buddhism this is illustrated most famously in an image called Bhavachakra. Most people call it the Wheel of Samsara or the Wheel of Life, but that is not the name. The actual name is Bhavachakra; which means “Wheel of Becoming” and that is a very significant term. We have given a course about this already if you are interested in learning more about it [See Bhavachakra Course]. What this Wheel illustrates is not simply the external world; which is how most people study it. They study it in a literal way at a kindergarten level.
This great Wheel of existence is in the grip of Yama the Lord of Death and on it are depicted the six realms through which all existing beings transmigrate. It has that meaning, but the more significant esoteric meaning is that this whole Wheel depicts your mind and how your mind functions. As well as how you experience life. The contents of your psyche are reflected here. This Wheel upon which all existing things move, they rise and fall, is constantly happening in us all the time and when we observe our mind as explained throughout the process of this course, we discover that we have a huge range of contradictory wills in us, different types of entities in us. In a given situation, we can feel very arrogant, very proud. We can appear to have the best of everything and probably most of us would deny this. However, if anyone in this community were to go to India, to Syria, to certain parts of Africa, you would be looked upon as a God because you do have access to anything you want in terms of food, safety, any kind of goods, and any kind of resources. You are in the context of the bulk of humanity; those who live in the West are really like the Gods because most people do not have what westerners have. That is this realm at the top, the level of the Gods. Usually when we look at this we think of the Gods from mythologies, but we have the psychological aspects in us of pride and arrogance and wealth and attachment to our things. Those are godly defects we could say and they are very materialistic types of defects.
We also have animal aspects or parts of us that are very instinctive. So for example we are always afraid for our security. We are always terrified about our position or about our finances. That is an instinctive animal type quality, type of psychological aspects. We, of course, have the devils and demons in the lower realms like hate, violence, theft, and cruelty. None of us admit that, but we have all of them. If you doubt me, observe how your mind talks to others. If someone cuts you off on the highway, hear the language in your mind, the curse words, the violence that you wish upon that person. That is not a human quality. That is a demonic quality and we all have it.
So you see this great Wheel depicts all of the contradictory and conflicting elements that are surging in our psychological atmosphere all the time. It is not a map of what is outside of us. It is a map of what is inside of us. The most significant thing about this great Wheel is its axis. You see the Wheel is a powerful thing. It depends entirely upon the point it rotates around. If that central point is broken, the entire Wheel will stop functioning. So the Bhavachakra, which is the Wheel of our psyche, has a central axis and if we can comprehend that axis, we can change it. We can change the Wheel. That means the Wheel of Becoming through which we are usually circling and repeating, which by the way, the word “circling” in Sanskrit is Samsara. That is where that word Samsara comes into play with this Wheel. We are always circling.
Most people think when they study this type of material that liberation or freedom from suffering has to come as a boon from the Gods, that we have to perform some great task on behalf of a God such as repeating a Mantra or claiming that we believe in such and such things and we become a devoted follower of the religion that we inherited from our parents, etc. If we follow the rules and precepts of our religion that one day we will become liberated from all of this. But nowhere in nature do we find that the law stops working because of what someone believes. That does not happen anywhere. In fact, there are no scripture agrees with that. Even Jesus said I have not come to break the law but to fulfill it. To become liberated is not a matter of belief or tradition. Instead it is a matter of purging that, which causes suffering. We suffer because we have anger, we have lust, we have pride, we have envy and fear and avarice, and laziness. These qualities that push us towards “crime”, harmful thought, harmful action are the cause of suffering for ourselves and others. This is why every scripture in the world agrees that no idolater, no murderer, no killer, no adulterer, no fornicator, no thief can go into the heavenly realms because the qualities that create those actions trap us in those levels. And that is what this Wheel depicts. Even the Gods are trapped here. They are trapped by their attachment to power and to possessions, to status. Every level is a cage and the only way to really liberate oneself from this Wheel is to see it for what it is. To comprehend the fundamental reality and break the illusion. You see the Gods suffer in illusion just as much as the devils. Every scripture in the world describes this all in their own ways.
Liberation happens when we see the truth. Not only to see it, but to understand it. That is what Nagarjuna, the great Buddhist teacher said:
“You are liberated when your delusions and your contaminated karmic actions are exhausted.”
Delusions are the stories we tell ourselves psychologically. It is our misperception of reality. Contaminated karmic actions are all the things we have done whilst under the influence of delusion.
Now the center part of that Wheel symbolically shows three creatures. These are symbols. The most important symbol is represented by a dog or a pig and it represents simply “ignorance”. This is not the ignorance of being uneducated. It is not the ignorance of someone who has never learned to read or write. It is a fundamental lack of knowing. It is to not know what is real and therefore, all of us are in a state of ignorance. Everyone believes in God or does not believe in God, but how many know what God is from their own experience? Most people who would claim to know such a thing we would call them crazy. Even though we are spiritual people and we love religion and we love mysticism, if we see someone who says “oh! I have had an experience with God and I have talked to God” we look at them like “wow! They are nuts!” It is a great contradiction. Religious people who study God should, therefore, also expect that it is possible to know from one’s own experience exactly what God is, what reality is.
This fundamental ignorance is a lack of knowing what reality is because we suffer that we have a great emptiness in us. A huge ball of doubt or anxiety within us that is overwhelming and it is so powerful that the very instant in our lifetime that we ever brush up against it, we flee terrified and immerse ourselves in anything that can obscure that feeling of terror. For example, when we are growing up and we go through all those questions of who am I, what is my purpose and what am I going to become and we fail to answer that, we then turn to what our friends are distracting themselves with – drugs, sex, rock and roll, career, money, possessions, a marriage, having kids – and all of the other things that society says will fulfill us. We pursue them all, but they never fulfill us. We get the money, the family, the spouse, the kids; we have the drugs, the rock and roll and the sex and all the other things that we are supposed to get and enjoy and find fulfillment in, but they never fulfill us. They are simply obscuring that fundamental question, that unknowingness that we are so uncomfortable with, and so rather than deal with that ignorance we become victims of desire. We become attached. We begin to pursue all of our cravings in an attempt to avoid that fundamental unknowingness and gradually the desires, the attachments and the cravings overpower us. So the bird here represents that huge diversity of cravings and attachments.
It is represented as a bird in Asian culture because there are certain types of birds that remain attached to a mate or a spouse you could say and their behavior becomes somewhat extreme to that attachment. So they use the bird to represent that. It simply represents a psychological quality, a basic and very fundamental quality of our psyche, which is: we are always seeking for something we do not have. Even when we get it we are not satisfied. We can spend decades in pursuit of a goal and having completed the goal we may be satisfied for five minutes, but then that profound dissatisfaction recovers, emerges, it is still there and we are left still seeking to find something else to fill that sense of emptiness, that feeling of not having what we need. We are always seeking outside of us for something to fill that inherent craving, that longing that drives us physically, emotionally and mentally.
At the same time we want to avoid anything that contradicts our sense of self, our sense of purpose, and the things that we value. We want to avoid pain. We want to avoid anyone who makes us feel inferior or who contradicts our sense of self. So we have these three qualities:
- Ignorance (Dog/pig)
- Craving (Bird)
- Aversion (Snake)
They form the basic dynamic of our entire experience from this lifetime and every other previous lifetime. In this moment these three forces are active in every single one of us, but none of us are aware of it. They are at the base of our every thought. They are at the base of our every emotion, and at the base of our every sensation. For example, we see a commercial and we are not really paying attention and the commercial is just flowing into us. Then at some moment we realize we have this craving to have the thing that the commercial was showing us, but we do not know why? We just start thinking about it, “Oh! That would be nice. Maybe I should get that thing” without realizing that the imagery of that commercial was showing us smiling happy people that looked content and what we really want is the emotional quality that those people had in that commercial, but we think it is “the thing” that will give us that. We want that because we want to avoid the pain that we feel right now. You see that dynamic? We are craving for something external to avoid the pain we are feeling and that dynamic exists because of a fundamental ignorance about reality on many levels. That object will not give us happiness. We will not be like the people in that commercial. Instead we will spend days and days at our job slaving away to earn the money to buy that thing. We buy it, we take it home, we are happy for five minutes then we are discontented again and we start seeking some other thing. That is how life is working in the modern age and it has been that way for centuries in all types of variances but with the same essential dynamic. Never content, always craving, always ignorant and the result is we suffer. It is this upon which the whole Wheel rotates. It is as true for those who are poverty stricken as it is for those who are fabulously wealthy. The external circumstances may have great diversity, but the psychological experience is exactly the same. No one is truly happy. Everyone is suffering intensely!
When we want to learn to meditate this is the reason. It is so that we can discover how these three forces are destroying us. They do it from moment to moment. We as an existing person in a physical body have our emotions, our thoughts and the ability to act.
We synthesize those and call them the three brains:
- Body (Motor, Instinct, Sex)
The body can be disarranged further as motor, instinct and sex. Those three: motor, instinct and sex are functions of physicality. We use those forces through the body so we can synthesize them as one thing. We have here three brains, three centers of our primary activity that are independent of each other and usually in great disharmony with each other. We have certain types of thoughts going on, different types of feelings and the body is doing something else entirely. Rarely are all of them integrated and acting in harmony with each other.
In the meantime, we are constantly getting assaulted by impressions. Impressions are the perceptions we receive through our mind, sight, sound, touch, taste and smell. In other words, through our six senses. Yes, six, not just five senses. The five physical senses are the windows through which we perceive physicality, but we have another sense which is the ability to sense psychological phenomena like thoughts and emotions. This sense is actually very powerful. We need to recognize it in concert with these other senses. So in this given moment, right now, all of us are receiving sensory data through these six senses. We are receiving through the senses of touch, taste, smell, hearing, sight and psychological information and all of that data is constantly assaulting us and being transformed through our three brains. In other words, we are reacting to what we perceive, but we are not aware of it. Most of all we are not in control of it. Instead things happen and we react automatically. If someone cuts us off on the road we feel a flare of anger and we have these angry thoughts that come into our mind, the body becomes very tense and we have the urge to go and get revenge, to go in front of them and cut them off too. Right? So there is a very quick interaction that is happening between the perceptions and the mind. The body is just an additional reflection of that reaction.
The one who wants to learn how to meditate has to become capable of perceiving this constantly. Not only perceiving it, but being in charge of it consciously. To be capable of receiving all the thoughts and emotions that are flickering in the mind, everything we see, hear, touch, taste and smell and to choose the appropriate reaction, the appropriate response. Not just to simply have it happen, but to choose it. So when we are in the store and we are dealing with a very angry person, instead of feeling anger in turn which would be our normal reaction or to feel fear and want to run away, we would be able to observe that person and understand them. You see normally we would get engaged in a fight or an argument or we would run away scared with our heart pounding and trying to get away from that situation. You see here the ignorance, craving and aversion that would normally cause a reaction. Someone who is cognizant, someone who is conscious would perceive that angry person and understand that that angry person is in a state of ignorance, craving and aversion and is suffering and that their angry outburst is only an expression of their pain. Why would we respond and add to that pain? Why would we be angry in turn with someone who is sick and suffering? That would be cruel, that would be useless and would probably cause more pain, more suffering. You see this is a simple example.
Cognizance of this relationship between impressions and the psyche are what produce the effect that we experience psychologically. If our mind is agitated, if we are having emotions, doubts, fears, anxieties, uncertainties, all types of pain, all types of conflicts psychologically, it is because these processes are happening without us being in control of it, without us comprehending it or taking conscious control of ourselves and directing our lives appropriately. In other words, we think that what we see and feel and think is exactly the way we see it and that is our problem. Our spouse, our loved comes to us upset and yelling and we yell back, we get angry too because we only see that perception and we think it is real. We respond to it as though it is the way we perceive it. We are not seeing the reality. We are seeing the delusions.
A given person sees a police officer. Each one of us will respond to that moment differently. Someone who has had bad experiences with the police in the past will feel anger and fear. Someone who has a family member who is a police officer will feel warmth, a sense of connection, a sense of familiarity and brotherhood. Someone who has lived in a place where the police are the oppressors, the rapists, the murders will feel terror. It is the same situation, it is the same imagery of a police officer standing there but the reaction of the individual who is perceiving it is completely different and not one of them is real. None of them are reality. Every one of them is simply how those impressions are being translated psychologically. None of them are seeing the truth. Not one! None of them are seeing that police officer for who she is. They do not see her psyche, her experiences, her pain, her suffering, and her background. They do not see anything of that. They only see their impressions of her and how their mind is interpreting those impressions. Are you guys following what I am pointing out? In other words, everything that we are perceiving is like a hazy mirror and all it is reflecting is the contents of our own psyche. We do not see reality ever! We are only seeing the reflections that are happening in us psychologically.
When we walk out of here and we walk out into the parking lot we will not actually see the parking lot itself because our mind will already be thinking about where we are going next or what we are going to do now. We do not see where we are. We are not aware of where we are in the moment because our mind is already somewhere else. When we are at our job doing our work, our physical body might be doing the work, but our mind is back when we were ten years old having a good time with our friends in the summer… We are totally distracted. Now everybody is thinking about that right? No one is actually listening to what I am saying. You are starting to go back to your own memories to recall when you were ten years old. You see how that works? This disconnection between what is actually happening and what the mind is reflecting through the transformed impressions.
You see Meditation is not just about those few minutes that you sit on your chair or your cushion. Meditation is about how you see at all times. It is about how you perceive. As long as you perceive lazily and only see the hazy reflections of your psyche transforming impressions, you will never see the truth, the reality.
The efforts of the meditator is to expand Consciousness dramatically. It is to break the delusion of the lazy psyche and to expand out in order to see what is real, to discriminate the illusion from the real.
This Tree is the density of relative states. The lowest states are extremely heavy and completely illusory. It all appears real, but it is all a lie. The higher you ascend up this map, the closer you get to what is fundamentally real. It is lighter, it is more expansive, and it is less conditioned. There are laws, at the top they are simple and then all the way down they are very complex. That is the essence of this structure.
Our ability to exist and have life is because within us there is a spark of living energy; which universally has different names. In the West it is called Christ. It is a Light, a Fire, an Energy, an Intelligence, a Force. In the East it has many names. The most interesting and what we are going to talk about today for the rest of the lecture is a type of energy, a type of primordial presence that allows every living thing to be. It is a Ray that darts down this Tree of Life giving rise to all things. That Ray, that Light, that Intelligence, that Energy is here and now. It is in our ability to perceive. It is that fundamental function. If we learn to center ourselves in that state of awareness, simple perception, separating from everything perceived, we can get in touch with that fundamental force and experience it and know it, and in that find serenity, knowledge, insight, wisdom, compassion, and great diligence. All of the virtues that we observe in all of the prophets and saints are expressions of that Light. It is that Light that emerges from the Emptiness, the Absolute. To understand that, we have to understand a little bit more about this Tree.
There is a word in Sanskrit called “Kaya” which usually is translated to mean “body”. But just like our physical body is a unity of many things so is the term “Kaya”. If you observe your physical body, it is not one thing. The physical body is an assemblage of many things that function together to give us life. The term “Kaya” implies the same thing, but it is a very specific term used in Asian philosophy that refers to this upper trinity on the Tree of Life. Now every religion has a trinity and there is a reason for that. In the West we know about the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The correspondence to that in Hinduism is: Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. The exact same function and in Buddhism it is the Trikaya or three Kayas: Dharmakaya, Sambhogakaya and the Nirmanakaya. It is the Trinity, a symbolic structure that represents a basic structure in nature. This Tree is a cycle or a series of trinities – an upper trinity, a middle trinity, a lower trinity and one that hangs off the bottom, a fallen world, our physical world.
The upper trinity is the inner trinity; which is inside of every living thing: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. In Hebrew : Kether, Chokmah, Binah. Kether means “Crown”. Anywhere in the Bible where you read the word “Crown” in English, it is Kether in Hebrew and it has significance. It is not just a physical crown. It is talking about this part of yourself spiritually.
Chokmah means “Wisdom” in Hebrew and again it is not just the wisdom that we would read in a book. This is a type of penetrating insight into the fundamental nature of reality. Moreover, Chokmah is a universal expression. If you can imagine every enlightened being, every buddha, every angel, every God, in all of the universes and all of their love, that is Chokmah. It is the unity of all enlightened things as an expression of pure compassion. That is Chokmah. It is utterly simple, utterly pure, utterly radiant love. That is Chokmah. Binah is Hebrew for “Intelligence”.
The fundamental beingness, the point Kether, the dot that emerges from nothing is the first thing that comes into existence out of non-existence. It is the Father, that first radiant Divinity that is incomprehensible. It radiates as that great compassion who then acts through intelligence. That is how that Trinity works throughout all of nature. It is very subtle, it is very high, but it is in you. It is in everyone. Then that light radiates into the densities of nature it becomes Spirit, it becomes abstract Consciousness, abstract thought, concrete thought, emotion, energy, physicality … and here we are! Entranced by illusions, totally ignorant of where this spark of beingness has come from. If we can turn away from the illusions, see them for what they are; we can restore our connection back to that fundamental ground and experience reality. That reality is inside of us.
That Trikaya: Dharmakaya, Sambhogakaya and Nirmanakaya – in Buddhism are talked about as bodies to help us understand what they are. Dharmakaya is the body of truth or body of reality. Sambhogakaya is body of enjoyment or perfect resource. Nirmanakaya is the body of transformation. These are not bodies like our physical body. These are abstract qualities of being. They are very difficult to comprehend intellectually. However, what is significant for us to understand at our level is that these are degrees, or lights, types of intelligence that we have inside of us that are the very root nature of our beingness and if we have the capability, the training, to back away from all the delusions and center ourselves more and more deeply, we can touch those and experience them and that experience radically transforms the person.
That experience can be had in our waking life, it can be had in the process of falling asleep which a process called Dream Yoga , and it can be had at the moment of death. There are very significant opportunities in the course of our existences where we can grab hold of this, recognize it for what it is, experience it and thereby experience our true nature, our fundamental reality, and in that we understand that all of the things that we thought were so important were really illusions, completely meaningless, and the fundamental truth, the fundamental reality is a comprehension of reality that is accompanied by great compassion and great intelligence.
When we study the lives of great masters, buddhas, saints and prophets, we always see these particular qualities. They always understand reality. They always have great compassion and they always have this tremendous intelligence that is able to cut through the most vexing problems in ways that bewilder us. Study the lives of Jesus, Krishna and Moses and you will see that. A type of psychology that is not like ours but that is always accompanied by tremendous compassion and intelligence. That is how this Trikaya works.
Classically, in Buddhism, that is represented by a mirror in order to remind us that what we are seeking spiritually is not outside of us. It is in the mirror. The mind is a mirror. Everything we are seeing is reflected, but we forget that. What happens to you when you watch TV, when you watch a movie, when you play a video game or you read a book? Do you not become what you are seeing? Do you forget your body? You do not think you do? Watch and you will discover that when you are watching that TV show you become what you are seeing. You forget yourself completely. You forget the room you are in and you forget your body. You become the actor. You become the experience. Your heart surges with emotions. Your body leaps in reaction to things you are seeing on the screen because you have forgotten yourself. In other words, you have become hypnotized by the illusion. None of us like to admit that, but that is exactly what happens when we play video games or watch TV, watch movies or the internet. We forget ourselves and we become totally immersed in a psychological experience, which is 100%, an illusion. It is not real! We think it is real, the body thinks it is real, our heart thinks it is real, our mind thinks it is real, but it is not. Even logically we tell ourselves, “oh! I know it is a show and it is just actors, or it is just computer graphics and I know none of it is real”. But psychologically speaking you do not know that because psychologically and physically you are responding to those scenes and events as though they were really happening. That is why when the hero is in great danger you get nervous, you get chills and you are tense because your body and your heart and your mind feel that it is real because you are not aware of yourself and you are not aware of what you are doing. In other words, you are asleep, dreaming, in the illusion on the screen.
We do the same thing all night long while the body is resting. We do it all day long because all day long we are engaged in the exact same type of hypnosis with the contents of our mind. Thinking, thinking, thinking! Imagining conversations, imagining events and scenes that do not exist. We see an attractive person and we start imagining what our life would be like with them or we are driving in a car thinking about those scenes, “I wonder what they would be like? Maybe our life would be like this or like that? Oh! I miss my friend from high school!” and we are wandering around psychologically entranced by illusions. We know we have to have a confrontation with someone and we start imagining that scene, imagining the conversation, what we are going to say, what they are going to say, and we are reacting to it physically, emotionally – the body is reacting, the mind is reacting – none of it is real! We are not seeing the reality in the moment of where we are or what we are doing. We are entranced by our own mind, asleep. We are not seeing reality. This is our life! We spend our whole lives this way, completely entranced by illusions, driven by craving and aversion. Imagining these conversations with people. Craving affection, approval, and attention. Trying to avoid getting fired or getting rejected. All while fundamentally ignoring the truth, the reality of where we are, our feet on the ground, our eyes seeing what is actually happening. This is why humanity suffers. No one is here! Every person that you encounter is not there. There physical body might be there, but their psyche is somewhere else. None of us actually meet, eyeball-to-eyeball, face-to-face, Consciousness to Consciousness and engage with each other. Maybe a flicker, a moment, every once in a while, but most of the time it is delusions talking to delusions. We do not really see each other. We do not really see ourselves. That is why this mirror is so important. To see ourselves and to understand that if we can cut through all of that delusion, we can come to see the reality.
We need to recognize that the Dharmakaya is not outside of us, it is in us!
Dharmakaya represents Kether, the very peak of the Tree of Life. It is an extremely profound, abstract level of nature, but it is here and now. We just lack the capability to be aware of it, but a Master is aware of it. It may not sound important from our level, but it is the most important thing that could ever be is to be aware of that, to know that. It is the Being of beingness. The fundamental expression of being is in that and it is here and now but we simply are not interested in it. We love our illusions too much.
Moreover, the Samboghakaya is here and now; Chokmah, that fundamental wisdom/compassion is here and now. What the Christians call Christ. That beingness, that intelligence that is in every living thing – a flame, a fire, in us right now – and any one of us can experience that because it is part of us. You cannot experience it if you are entranced by illusion.
Furthermore, the Nirmanakaya is also here and now. The intelligent action rooted in compassion and truth.
Everything that exists fundamentally emerged out of the Absolute and emerged as an expression of three forces - The Law of Three. That is why there are trinities in every religion.
The Law of Three in its simple form can be understood as:
- Positive (the active principle)
- Negative (the receptive principle)
- Neutral (the conciliating principle), that which brings them together.
Anything that we want to perform, anything that happens, it is always a combination of three factors. If you want to succeed in some endeavor, you must become aware of how these three forces work. If you want to have children you cannot escape the Law of Three. The Law of Three rules life even at this most basic level. Where is the Law of Three in the procreation of children? Man is the active principle, the force that provides, that projects. Woman, the receptive principle, who receives the force of the man. What is it that brings them together? Sex, love, that is the Law of Three. There is no other way to create a human being anywhere in the Universe. Male, female, sex – and that is what is expressed in those three forces.
If we want to raise our level of being, to improve our lives, we need to harness that same type of force, but that requires knowledge. Dharmakaya is knowledge or truth. It is to know reality. If we act without knowing the reality, we act wrongly. We think we are helping someone and often we are just hurting them because we do not really know the truth. Often we are trying to help ourselves, but we are really hurting ourselves because we really do not know the truth. To really help, to really change something, you need to know the truth of it, the fundamental reality of it. If you do not, you are making things worse. Once you know the Truth of it and you have compassion and wisdom, you can act intelligently. You see these three must work together. If any one of them is missing there will be failure.
The problem is that in most of the things that we do physically, emotionally, intellectually, we are not working with the three superior forces, we are working with their polar opposites. Most of time we do not know what is really going on, we do not know the reality; we are usually acting out of some desire or aversion. We all want to develop our spiritual lives. We want to know something about truth, about God, about Divinity, about what is the fundamental reality, so we seek out spiritual practices, spiritual groups, spiritual movements, spiritual teachings, but because we have craving and attachment and desire, and we do not want to face what is actually happening. Instead we want that spiritual reality to agree with our cravings, to encourage our desires. We want to avoid pain, discomfort, we want to feed our desires, and so we prefer to not know the real problem. We prefer to ignore that we are the cause of our suffering. We prefer to just sign some insurance policy that we get from religion like, “okay, if you believe in this and this and this … and if you give us this much money each month then you will go to heaven”. We really love that because it means we do not have to deal with reality at all. We do not have to face the fact that within us there are a lot of harmful things and a lot of suffering and pain that we cause because of that. We do not want to deal with that. We want to ignore it. We want to hold on and be attached to our sufferings and keep things the way they are. We just want to get the insurance policy so we can go to heaven. However, it does not work like that. Unfortunately, life is not like that. Nature is not like that. Divinity is not like that.
This map of the Tree of Life shows densities through multi-dimensionality and it all obeys the laws of physics. Not just the way those physics apply physically, but through multi-dimensional relativity. But there is a fundamental truth that applies to all the levels of existence and that is “each thing belongs where it belongs”. For example, anger, lust, envy, those are qualities of demons, not qualities of buddhas, angels and masters. If someone has anger or pride, gluttony or greed, they remain where those qualities abide and those qualities abide in the hell realms; which are in the lowest regions, the places of suffering. They are bound there by those qualities. If that person wants to be liberated from that experience of suffering, they have to liberate themselves from what binds them there. That means, kill the anger, destroy the pride, eradicate the lust, and then that which is trapped within it becomes free. That which is trapped within it rises back to its natural place. It is that simple!
That is why we need to make a choice for ourselves from moment to moment. Are we going to willingly remain entranced with illusions and bound to our suffering or are we willing to have the courage to face the reality of our psychological state and change it? We can! The only way that we can become liberated from the conditions that bind us is to understand them. However, you cannot understand something that you cannot perceive. If you want to understand something you have to be able to see it. Not just think about it. You need to see it. Perceive it directly, not just physically, but internally with your other senses.
Here is our physicality – Malkuth. When we sit to meditate, we learn to relax the body so we can become free of that conditioning, its energy, its emotions, and its thoughts. The more relaxed we let them become, the more still and serene we let them become, and then the less they condition us as a perceiver. That is what we have been teaching throughout the entire course- how to put them all in a state of absolute stillness so that the Consciousness that is in them can rise out. In doing so, we gain the capability to start seeing all of these things for what they are.
When the Consciousness becomes stable and we develop that pliancy where the body and mind become subservient to the Consciousness, we are then able to look at those things and not be bound by them, but to see them for what they are. The Consciousness liberated can see the body as just the body, no longer feeling that it is our identity. It sees energy as simply that, just energy and not something to be fascinated with or identified with or to play games with. It is something to be cherished and used wisely. It sees emotion for what it is, vibrations on the Astral body, psychological contents that reflect the transformed impressions good or bad. More importantly, we can start to investigate the real causes of our pain. We can start to investigate that feeling of pride, that feeling of anger, that quality of lust, not as something abstract or something philosophical, but to actually see in the internal worlds how they work, how they think, how they feel, how they bind us, their desires, their aversions and their fundamental ignorance. In a sense you can say that someone who knows how to meditate properly will sit, liberate themselves from all of these conditioning factors, focus on the cause of suffering and go there and investigate it and see it in person, face-to-face … in the internal worlds. Not as something fantastical, but as something real and experienced. Something comprehended. This is how we gain knowledge, we gain insight, and we gain understanding. This is the purpose of Meditation, to see the reality, firstly in ourselves. When you begin to see that the lust that you have created throughout the course of all your existences is actually a great cause of pain and suffering, it is very liberating. Moreover, it gives you great compassion for others who still suffer in the delusion of lust. You begin to understand that pride is a cage. You begin to comprehend the suffering of others who are trying to rely on pride as a source of happiness because it never will be. You learn those things not through philosophy, not through logic, but through lived experiences - in Meditation, in dreams, in visions, in the experiences of the Consciousness being awakened perceiving the truth.
Firstly, we have to awaken here physically. Become aware of ourselves in the physical body from moment to moment, to always be aware here and now, conscious. When we learn that, that skill starts to expand in all the places that we are. When the physical body goes to bed and we begin to dream, because we were becoming awake in our physical body during our physical lifetime daily, then when we are in the dream world we also become awake and aware. No longer asleep in the world of dreams, but awake. No longer dreaming like an animal of our desires, but instead being awake. That ability to be awake expands throughout these other regions, little by little. As one liberates the Consciousness from the conditions it is trapped within, it gains strength, it expands more and more, and we start to see more and more of reality. It is not what we think it is here. Reality is something much, much bigger. To experience that, to understand that for yourself, we have the exercises that continue from the previous lectures.
- Every day, as part of your self-observation from moment to moment, question the validity of what you perceive.
- Every day, practice meditative retrospection. Recall what you perceived externally and internally from the entire day. Question the validity of what you perceived.
- Write the facts of your day in your spiritual diary.
However, now with your self-observation from moment-to-moment not only should you be observing yourself and your experience, but you should be questioning the validity of what you observe? You see self-observation is a skill, a sense of being present here and now, observing one’s self without being identified with the distinction between the observer (who is the Consciousness) and the observed (which is the three brains and the perceptions received by the three brains). In that distinction that we are making now, we have to start questioning, “is this really real? Am I seeing the reality?” and you can take this a step further and start to test it, start to really wonder if you are seeing the truth or if you are dreaming? As many times as you can remember to do this become very aware of yourself, questioning what you are seeing and test it, “is this real or am I dreaming?” and then take your finger and attempt to stretch it out. But really, really questioning because I know that if I am dreaming my finger will stretch. You have to really, consciously, with a lot of awareness make the attempt to stretch it. If you do this practice very seriously, self-observing and being aware of yourself from moment to moment, one moment will come where all of a sudden your finger stretches and you will realize that you are dreaming and you are not in your physical body. You are dreaming, your body is asleep but you are in the astral plane and now you are awake in the astral world. So anyone who does that exercise and saves energy through the day will have that experience and you will start to see something more than you saw before.
The second part is to of course continue meditating every day. We were practicing retrospection and in the same way we want to question the validity of what we perceive in Meditation. To no longer accept what we see as real immediately, but to have that sense of doubt. Is it real or is it fake? Is it real or is it illusion? To separate the perceiver from the perceived and to back away and to become aware of the transformation of those impressions.
Finally, of course, to continue with your spiritual diary.