This is a transcription of the audio lecture Meditation without Exertion 02 Renunciation originally given live on Gnostic Radio, which you can download for free.
In our previous lecture, we discussed the principles that we need to understand in order to develop a practical meditation technique so we can fully take advantage of our efforts to meditate and receive the benefits. Meditation is a state of consciousness that we have to gain experience with, and in order for us to reach that experience, we need to have a strong understanding of the factors that lead to it.
Study Proven Knowledge
The first step that we should undergo in order to develop that understanding is to study the teachings on meditation. We need to rely on sources that are proven, that can be tested and experienced, so we can have confidence that what we are relying on as a source of information can actually take us where we want to go. As an example, when we are born into this life, the only way that we can acquire the skill in order to survive is to learn from others. We need teachers who know how to teach us what we need to know—we cannot rely on people who lack experiential knowledge. In order for us to thrive and do well in life, we need a mother who loves us and who puts her heart into providing to us the knowledge and techniques that we need.
This is especially true when we look at spirituality in this way. We have to be very clear about this. Yet, it is an irony—a very sad irony—that we usually spend a great deal of time and energy researching and investigating a purchase that we have to make, such as if we are going to buy a car, house, or a computer. We will spend months and months very carefully analyzing the available items, and talking to people who have bought the product we are considering in order to find out about their experience and recommendations, and we will do that with even insignificant purchases, but we do not do this with regard to our spiritual or psychological investments. With spirituality, we leap immediately into whatever we find, without any thought or prudence, without really investigating the teaching that we are taking into our mind. This is why so many people and groups are suffering. This is why so many people spend years and years being misled. This is a grave problem.
“To read books of occultism, or to skillfully theorize about it, can be done by anyone; yet, in order for our consciousness to acquire cognizance of the occult wisdom is something else, to do this one needs to study the true occult wisdom within the internal worlds.
“Again, whosoever does not know how to consciously project himself in the Astral Body, does not know occultism.” - Samael Aun Weor, The Major Mysteries
To investigate a teaching, teacher, book, or a technique is not something you can do from books or the internet. You have to acquire your own experience. You must have the ability to investigate something deeply, consciously, for yourself. This is a “catch twenty-two” because we are asleep and do not have the skills and techniques that we need. To investigate a spiritual teaching, you need to be capable of investigating it spiritually—that is, out of your body. Until we have that ability, we must exercise a lot of caution. Until we have the ability to investigate spiritually, it is recommended that we not rely on “fly by night” teachers, books, pop culture, the latest bestseller, but to go to the original sources, to study the scriptures.
Gnosis is all about the study of the most ancient and proven techniques and philosophies in human history. We are not interested in studying the latest trends or fads. Gnosis is not a trend or a fad. The wisdom that we talk about in these lectures and that we study in the books is the most ancient wisdom on the planet. It is so long lasting because it works, because it is real and effective.
I gave you this little preface because I want to continue in the theme of the lecture about meditation without exertion, and I want you to understand that what we are studying here is proven knowledge. It is not something invented by modern people who want to make money or become famous.
In the first lecture we talked about principles, about a point of view. But, for us to reach that point of view we need to clarify a lot of things in our own mind. The reason that we cannot meditate properly—and have conscious experiences investigating whatever we need to know—is because of our mind. The obstacles to spiritual experience are not because of anything outside of us. The obstacle we face is ourselves. That is what we have to clarify, and the genuine teachings can help us with that clarification. So in order to aid us, I have selected a scripture that is very short, but is a miracle, in its content, in its structure.
“The Three Principle Paths” is a short scripture of only fourteen stanzas written in the 14th century by Tsong Khapa, who was born in Tibet in the 1350's. He took his first Buddhist vow at the age of one, and was quickly swept up into being educated in all of the open and secret teachings of Buddhism. He received all the highest degrees and empowerments of that tradition. He went on to become the single greatest philosopher, intellectual, and organizer of Buddhism that has ever existed. He wrote more than ten thousand pages of commentaries about Buddhism. He started the Gelugpa tradition of the Dalai Lamas. He revolutionized Tibet in many ways. He single handedly brought Tibet out of a very dark time into what we would call in the west “a period of enlightenment,” of great cultural advances. He built monasteries and temples.
Yet, even with all of that, the primary gift that he bestowed upon the world was to clarify the teaching of the Buddha, which had become very fractured, and people had become very confused about how to practice. So, he took all of the teachings—the Sutras, Tantras, and commentaries—and showed how they worked together, how they are organized, and thus how to understand the teaching practically. He showed that the teachings are organized as a series of practical steps. When you have studied and understood what Tsong Khapa taught, you can go to any scrap heap and find a page out of any scripture or religion, and you can understand how that page fits into spiritual practice.
This is remarkable because it is a precedent to what Samael Aun Weor did. Yet, Samael Aun Weor did it not just with Buddhism, but with all the scriptures in the world. When you study Samael Aun Weor, you gain the same thing that a Buddhist student gains from studying Tsong Khapa: the ability to understand the path comprehensively. People who have studied Samael Aun Weor for a long time tend to forget this fact: that comprehensive view is one of the most beautiful gifts you receive from him. After studying Samael Aun Weor deeply, you can go to any spiritual book, any spiritual teaching, any spiritual school, and see how it fits in to the big picture. This is a beautiful gift, and is very powerful.
"The Three Principle Paths" by Tsong Khapa condenses all of Buddhism into fourteen lines. There are hundreds and hundreds of scriptures in Buddhism, but the basic meaning from the beginning to the end is in this short scripture.
The three principle paths that he explains in this scripture are basic Buddhism; of course, Gnosis is the union or the expression of all religions, but most especially Buddhism and Christianity. As Gnostic students we need to know Buddhism and Christianity both in depth.
Tsong Khapa took all the teachings and said here is how you organize them, how you practice them, this is the step by step progression, the three fundamentals. That organization as a graded path is called Lam Rim.
The Three Principle Paths
The Buddha gave teachings according to the levels of the listener. In Buddhism—even though it degenerated soon after he left—there are many different levels of teaching, just in all traditions. So, these three fundamentals as an concept or way of understanding religion comes from Buddhism, but as a point of view applies to every religion.
The concept of the three principle paths is: to reach the highest spiritual goal safely, you need to work through three stages. This is not like something in mundane life where you go to kindergarten for a year, and then you go to grade school for a few years, and then you go to another school for a few years—this is not like that. Do not think of the three paths as something you “graduate” from one to the next; it does not work like that. Some people think that way, but that is not the case. A better way of thinking of the three principle paths is as a stepped pyramid, a pyramid that has three levels, or three steps. In fact, you will see these three steps in all religions. There are three steps up, but notice something: if you are going to stand on the top step—which, of course, is where we all want to be—you first have to step on the steps leading up to it, and even once you are standing on the top, the only reason you can stand there is because the other two steps are supporting you. This is really, really important to remember.
The three principle paths or steps are:
- Christ Wisdom
The three principle paths or “steps” relate closely to three levels of instruction in any spiritual tradition. In Tantric Buddhism, they are also called Yanas (vehicles).
- Foundational level
- Greater level
- Secret or expedient level
We have talked often about how these are described in Buddhism. The first level is Shravakayana (which commonly is called Hinayana, but that is not a good term, it is derogatory. Theravada, Sutrayana, or Shravakayana are proper terms). This is the foundational path, the entryway to religion. Every religion has a Shravakayana or public level. Shravaka means “hearer” or “listener,” while Yana means “vehicle” or “vessel.” We all enter religion through that level. In the Shravakayana level of teaching, we “hear” the basics, the foundation, the fundamentals. You know what a fundament or a foundation means? It is the strength upon which the temple depends—that is, without that foundation, the temple cannot stand. Why is this important? Because the second level is what we call “Mahayana,” the greater vehicle, and this is when the teachings get deeper and go further. And on top of that is “Tantrayana,” which is also called “Mantrayana,” “Vajrayana,” and many other names.
Every religion in the world in its original inception had these three degrees. In Masonry they are called
- Craftsman or Journeyman
These levels or steps come from Egypt. These three levels correspond to degrees of teaching.
Of course, in the West we think we are all so elevated and spiritually advanced that we believe we can leap right in to the highest level (Tantrayana) and be recognized as Masters, and forget about the introductory levels—this is what people think. This is why we find thousands of people leaping into “Tantric” schools, or so-called “esoteric” schools, or so-called “advanced” schools, and when they come out of those places, they are spiritually traumatized, deranged, damaged, ruined.
This happens in the Gnostic tradition also; many Gnostic groups believe themselves to be very advanced, spiritually elevated, and they ignore the principles of the foundational level and the Mahayana level. That why so many Gnostic groups are creating so much suffering.
I will give you an example. In the first level (Shravakayana level) of teachings, one is taught to take certain vows, such as to cease harmful activities and to adopt beneficial ones. Simple examples include do not drink, do not smoke, do not do drugs, do not sleep around, do not steal, do not kill. These are the different types of vows or practices in every religion: the Ten Commandments, the Vinaya, Yama and Niyama, etc—all religions have this. But once a practitioner is introduced to the secret heart teachings, the highest yoga tantra, then they start working with the forces of desire and temptation. So, many of them start to drink, smoke, and sleep around, while saying they can do these things because, "I am a tantric practitioner," when in fact all they are just fools who have succumbed to their desires. This is happening in many traditions, including Gnosis and Tibetan Buddhism. There are very well respected monasteries, retreat centers, and lamas who are leading their students to drink, do drugs, and have sex with each other. They will meditate for an hour and then all go to the bar and get drunk, then go back to the monastery and sleep with each other. That is not White Tantra. That is Black Tantra. White Tantra retains the foundation: the sutrayana level of teachings, which include the basic vows. White Tantra is defined by practices of purity, chastity, and charity, built upon the foundation of the Shravakayana. You cannot separate them. If you do, then you are off the white path, and are degenerating yourself. The ego is that strong; it convinces many well-meaning people. This is really critical to grasp. The ego is extremely clever and loves to play with these concepts in order to feed itself.
The reason that we address this is because no matter how so-called "advanced" we are, we always need cognizance of a strong foundation. Samael Aun Weor is an excellent example of this; he is, in my mind, the perfect renunciate. He perfected renunciation in himself. Renunciation is the perfect expression of Shravakayana, the foundational level teaching. Many Gnostics like to proclaim Samael Aun Weor as the greatest Master of Tantra, and this is true, he is a great Master of tantra. But he could not be a Master of Tantra without being a Master of Mahayana and Shravakayana, the two levels that support Tantra—it would be impossible. You cannot become a Master of Tantra if you ignore the foundations upon which it depends. Tantra (3) depends upon Compassion (2) and Renunciation (1).
In synthesis, these three levels relate closely with the three fundamentals or three principles of the path.
Tsong Khapa explains in this scripture that the first principle of the path is renunciation. When we study spirituality, we hear this word “renunciation” and we think it means we have to stop drinking or smoking; some people say to be a real renunciate you have to go live in the woods or a cave, or be a monk. This is not the real meaning of the word. Your physical circumstances have nothing to do with real renunciation. Real renunciation is a psychological state; it is a state of consciousness, not a state of physicality. You can prove it to yourself by visiting any monastery and trying to find a real renunciate. You can go and ask the abbot in charge of that monastery, "Do you have any real renunciates here?" If that abbot is honest, he will say "No." A real renunciate is one who has completely eliminated the ego. Such a person is a Buddha. Until we reach that stage, we cannot abandon the teachings of renunciation.
The second fundamental is Bodhichitta. This is a Sanskrit word whose meaning is very deep, but for the purposes of today's lecture we'll synthesize it as saying that Bodhichitta relates to the wish to aid others to reach enlightenment.
3. Christ Wisdom
The third fundamental of the path fundamental of the path in Sanskrit is called "Prajna.” Loosely translated Prajna means wisdom, but wisdom specifically related with the Absolute, the Void, the Emptiness, Shunyata.
These are the three principles: renunciation, Bodhichitta, Prajna (renunciation, compassion, wisdom). Wisdom is built upon compassion; you cannot have Prajna if you do not have compassion. And true compassion, true love for humanity, cannot be had unless you have renunciation.
These are not just dogmatic statements; these are practical facts of this teaching, and they can be demonstrated in your own life and when you observe and learn from others.
For us to proceed, we need to understand something really important about this teaching in relation with meditation. In the previous lecture we discussed how to truly meditate, to truly experience the truth, which is Prajna, you cannot make any exertion. In other words, the mind has to be in a perfect state of equanimity, silence. But how do you reach that state? Especially when you look the state that we have now where the mind is completely out of control, wild. When we sit to try to reflect on something or meditate we cannot, the mind goes everywhere, we fall asleep, we get frustrated, we get distracted, we get despondent, we give up. How do we get there? How do we reach a point in which the mind is silent, we have peace, we have serenity and then that explosion happens, that door opens and we experience the truth? How do we reach that from where we are? By making effort, not exertion, and this is the difference that we explained in the previous lecture. The effort that we need is a moment activity of consciousness, to be in a constant state of inner watchfulness, to be watching our mind. Mere observance does not transform the mind; it initiates the transformation, but it does not complete it. The continual observance of oneself directs your energy inward, your consciousness, upon your own psychological state. But what really empowers change is comprehension, understanding. So, for us to get there we need a technique called "Analytical Meditation."
Many Techniques of Meditation
In the teachings that we study from Samael Aun Weor, the Buddha, Raja Yoga, or from any tradition, there are many techniques of meditation, styles, and approaches, and all of them have effectiveness and usefulness if you can understand how they fit into the big picture, if you can understand when they should be applied. This is part of the confusion that we find in some schools, where you enter into the school and everybody in the whole school is subjected to the same practice. This would be like going to the doctor and, no matter what your ailment, they always give you the same medicine. That would not make any sense, right? Each of us has our need, each of us has our illness, and we need medicine specific to that, but to receive that medicine, you first need to diagnose the illness. If you do not know how you are sick and what you are suffering from, then how can you apply an antidote? Thus, the first thing we need is Analytical Meditation.
First, this is how you apply it. To analyze something in meditation is quite simple: you relax, isolate yourself from all external phenomena, close your eyes, turn your attention inwards, and you bring that object into your imagination. If you need to understand a dream, a scripture, a pain, a doubt, this is what you imagine. Bring it to the screen of your imagination, relax, and analyze. For all of us who are beginners, this means that we are thinking about it, and this is okay, we are at the level where we are. So, if you have a situation in your life that troubles you, then sit and analyze that, contemplate that. If you cannot stop thinking, then think about it, but not thinking about it in the way you commonly do, not just letting the mind run and building more worry. Rather, think about it consciously, think about it in the presence of the remembrance of your Innermost—this is the distinct difference, you need to remember yourself. This is why when we perform a practice like this, it is always best to start with a prayer, to remember your Divine Mother, to remember your Inner Being, to pray, to chant a mantra, to do some pranayamas, to center yourself, to relax. Then you can begin to analyze the dream, the experience, the scripture, the lecture, the book, the situation, and take it apart. This approach is very effective and very helpful because it helps us to start to grasp and understand things, but again it has to be done consciously, attentive, with attention inside.
Anything that emerges in the mind, we have to become cognizant of. Samael Aun Weor states many times in his books and lectures, “Anything that appears in the screen of the mind has to be analyzed.” This is what we are talking about: a kind of analysis. I am giving you this explanation because in order to understand the first level, you need this technique.
Commonly we associate the preliminary levels of spirituality, what we call Shravakayana or foundational teachings, with techniques such as mantra repetition, yantra or yogic exorcises, runic practices in the Gnostic tradition, preliminary concentration exercises which are present in every religion, Japa or prayer repetition, like saying the Hail Mary again and again, or saying Om Namah Shivaya again and again, whatever the practice happens to be. These are all typical Shravakayana level techniques. What is their purpose? The vast majority of spiritual people think those techniques take you to God and that is the only technique you need. They think that way because they have only been educated in that level. They do not know what those techniques are actually for, they do not know where they actually lead to, because they have not been educated further, and because in most cases they still have no authentic spiritual experience. In fact, we find this in the Gnostic tradition as well, where instructors or students insist upon certain techniques over others, and the curious thing is a lot of these people in different traditions really believe themselves to be experts and sincerely want to help others, and yet they have no experience of the results of the practice they are promoting—conscious experience, internal development, spiritual awakening. This is why we can go to Kundalini Yoga schools, Tantric schools, Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, etc, and find people who are very sincere and very enthusiastic, maybe sometimes aggressive in pushing their technique or their approach, and yet if you questioned them, if you ask them, “Have you experienced God? Have you talked to your Innermost? Have you spoken with an angel? Have you eliminated an ego?” Most will think you are crazy to ask because they have never had such an experience and even believe it is not possible. Yet, if they are honest, they will tell you they have not had such experiences. Why? This is important! How can we put our trust and faith into a group, teaching, or school who promotes religion but whose followers have not even experienced the first level of religion?
All of the techniques of the Shravakayana level exist in order to prepare oneself for the next level, which is Mahayana. The distinguishing characteristic of any Mahayana level teaching is compassion for others. But how does that compassion emerge? Genuine, true compassion for another person, or for all of humanity, is not just to say, “May all beings be happy,” or as we always say at Christmas time, “Peace and goodwill to all mankind.” Every foundational level religion teaches compassion for others, but that compassion is not Mahayana level Bodhichitta. We all respect the virtue of compassion for others, but when have we felt a flame in our heart, a flame of love for others that so strong we could die? Who among us has felt that? That living fire in the heart is Bodhichitta. Bodhichitta is not a concept. It is not an intention or affirmation. Cognizant love, compassion, is not conceptual, it is a conscious emotion, a superior emotion. It is one of the most powerful emotions you will ever experience, but it does not come from reading books or taking vows or attending temples. It comes through comprehension. The reason that we learn to practice techniques such as the mantra repetition, runic practices, pranayamas, concentration exercises, is to begin to prepare our mind, to begin to clarify our state of consciousness so that we can apply analytical meditation. The analytical meditation where we sit at the end of the day and observe ourselves and look at our experience of the day and we say, "Wow I had a lot of anger today, I need to analyze that." We do all those practices to prepare us for that moment, and then when you are really serious about analyzing life, the ego, suffering, how much pain we create for ourselves and how much pain we create for others, when you really comprehend that and understand that, you start to really feel what suffering is and what causes it.
In the previous lecture, I explained a little bit about the Four Noble Truths, and that all suffering comes from desire. Intellectually, this is an interesting concept to analyze, but when you comprehend it in your heart, it is deeply painful. This heartfelt type of understanding is what leads to real renunciation. So let me read a little bit from this scripture to put this in perspective.
There have been hundreds of books written about this one short page. Each line, each word, has been commented upon by hundreds, maybe thousands of Lamas in the Tibetan tradition—that is how important this scripture is. They analyze in depth each phrase because of how much potency is in it. Do not take the words at face value. There is great value hidden here.
"I bow to all the high and holy Lamas."
This first line is important. In this line, Tsong Khapa is indicating all of those who have accomplished what the scripture will explain, that this is something alive, it is not theoretical, it is real. The first stanza says
These first two stanzas describe for us the conditions within which we need to establish ourselves, the point of view, the mindset that we need.
As far as I am able I will explain
The essence of all high teachings of the Victors,
The path that their holy sons commend,
The entry point for the fortunate seeking freedom.
Listen with a pure mind, fortunate ones
Who have no craving for the pleasures of life,
And who to make leisure and fortune meaningful strive
To turn their minds to the path which pleases the Victors.
This line says, "Listen with a pure mind fortunate ones." I do not necessarily know who among us would consider ourselves fortunate; I think it depends on our point of view. It is probable that if someone had asked us before the lecture if we considered ourselves fortunate, our mind would have immediately analyzed our financial situation. Right? That would be the first thing, "How much money do I have?", "Am I wealthy?", "Am I doing well?", "Am I eating well?", "Do I have a lot of clothes?", "Do people love me?", "Do people respect me?", "Do they talk about me?” These are the things that would have emerged in our mind at that moment. Now that we are in the lecture, our answer might be a little different, we might think, "Oh yeah, yeah I am studying these teachings, I am fortunate." That is good, it is true; that is the intended meaning here, but we are fortunate for another reason, not merely to receive the dharma, which is a great blessing, but what this other line says, "And who to make leisure and fortune meaningful." What does that mean? Again, before the lecture if we had been asked, "Do you have leisure and fortune?" None of us would say yes, we would all say, "No, no, I am poor, I am broke, I do not have any money and I am so stressed out, I do not have any leisure.” That is all a lie. These are lies we tell ourselves. The truth is that we are extremely fortunate and we have a lot of leisure, especially in the West, especially in North America, we are spoiled rotten. We have no concept of the true fortune that we have, yet if anyone of us were to be teleported immediately into the streets of Tibet, or the Middle East, or Africa, we would get a big awakening, a big awakening. And yet, that is the most superficial level of the meaning in this passage. What is meant by “to have leisure and fortune” is really the unique characteristic of any humanoid, any person that has a humanoid body, what we in Gnosis call intellectual animals. Why? Because it is at this level of evolution in which we first have freedom, relatively speaking, individual will: we can do what we want to do. We are given that right because we need to develop it in order to advance and become Buddhas, Angels, yet we squander it. What do we do with our individual freedom? Our ability to choose our action? We feed desire. We behave like animals; our only concerns are food, sex, and money. What is the result? The situation on this planet: billions of people suffering for lack of money, food, and because of the abuse of sex.
To enter into a humanoid body is to be given the opportunity to study the dharma, to learn Gnosis, to become a Master of oneself, and then later to become a Master above, to start to take responsibilities in the cosmic hierarchy. That is the fortune and leisure that we have, and how fleeting it is, how brief. Thus the line says, "Listen with a pure mind fortunate ones who have no craving for the pleasures of life and who to make leisure and fortune meaningful strive to turn their minds to the path."
The Foundation of the Path
The next stanza says,
Without pure renunciation, there is no way to end
This striving for pleasant results in the ocean of life.
It is because of their hankering life as well that beings
Are fettered, so seek renunciation first.
This is a very powerful line, and it underlines the entire range of the introductory levels of every religion in the world. So let me read it again. Think on this deeply, "Without pure renunciation there is no way to end this striving for pleasant results." The mind hears this and says, "What? What’s wrong with striving for pleasant results? Aren't we who are on the path striving for pleasant results?" We are, but there is a difference between the mind striving for that and the soul striving for it. The mind striving for pleasant results is striving for desire, to satisfy the ego. The consciousness who has the pure mind, who is striving to turn the mind towards the path that pleases the victors, is seeking Bodhichitta, not pleasure for one's self.
The next part of that stanza says, “It is because of their hankering life as well that beings are fettered, so seek renunciation first." This stanza describes in a nutshell, in a brief synthesis, the entire Shravakayana teaching, which is simply those four noble truths that we talked about in the previous lecture. So long as you are pursuing craving, you are creating pain, and as long as you are avoiding unpleasant things, you are sustaining them. This is the great pendulum of nature; it is a law of infallibility, called invariance in physics. If you observe water and if you drop something heavy on the water on one side the whole body of water adjusts itself to accommodate the change. But then what happens? It moves back the other way and keeps moving again and again in a wave like pattern in a pendulum swing until everything eventually calms. The same thing happens with every action in your heart, in your mind, and with your body. This is a profound law of nature, which is the whole purpose of the first level in religion, to analyze that, to study our daily lives, and to see how our actions produce results. What are the results we are experiencing? Why are we experiencing them? Because the causes are within us, so we analyze the result and the cause, the cause and the result, in order to understand how to behave properly.
The next stanza says,
Leisure and fortune are hard to find, life is not long;
Think it constantly, stop desire for this life.
Think over and over how deeds and their fruits never fail,
And the cycle’s suffering: stop desire for the future.
"Leisure and fortune are hard to find, life is not long." This leisure and fortune does not refer to just having a trust fund, it does not refer to having a couple million dollars in the stock market. It is talking about having the leisure and fortune of having a physical body, simply that. On the cosmic scale, that is an incredible fortune; it is also a great leisure, because we can use it or abuse it as we will, and we do.
The second part says, "Life is not long." None of us have cognizance of that; none of us truly comprehend that we are going to die, not one of us. And thus, how can we claim to be great Tantric practitioners or Mahayana Buddhists when we do not even understand the most fundamental teaching of every religion, which is you will die, death is unavoidable. Every single teaching in the world emphasizes this, and yet every spiritual aspirant in the world ignores it. In the teachings of the Buddha in the introductory level, Shravakayana, these are the basic things that every student needs to learn:
- to meditate on karma, action and consequence
- to meditate on impermanence
- to meditate on death
Let us not have the arrogance that presumes that we already understand those things and we can skip on to the next level. None of us comprehend these facts. None of us really comprehend impermanence. If we did, we would be free of suffering.
Comprehension of Death
If we really understood that we were going to die, we would not be wasting our time in so many stupid pointless activities, and yet we all do. What is the spiritual fruit of watching television? What is the spiritual fruit of wandering around in the shopping mall? What is the spiritual fruit of browsing around on the internet? If you were to do a detailed analysis of how you spent your time, even just for the last week, and you were strictly sincere with yourself, and you made two columns, two lists, one list that shows each moment of your day that will benefit you spiritually and the other list with everything else you did, which list will be longer and have more energy invested into it? It is a simple question, but it must be answered, especially when you comprehend that you will die.
Who here knows when they will die? Anybody in the back? I strongly recommend to you that you meditate on your death. It is one of the most potent, powerful, inspirational meditation practices that exists, and yet we are all terrified to do it, even though it is one of the most basic practices in Buddhism. In most Western schools, including the Gnostic tradition, there are many people going around thinking they are experts of Tantra, yet they have not ever done the first practice of the basic level, which is to comprehend the inevitability of their death. It is absurd to see so many self-proclaimed experts who lack any real knowledge. We need comprehension of our approaching death, and this is why Samael Aun Weor focused on it so much, in so many books, so many stories, so many examples about death. What he wrote wasn't accidental, and it wasn't just for fun; he wrote those books because we need to understand death. When we understand that we will die at any moment, true renunciation emerges naturally, because we cannot bear to waste a moment.
Leisure and fortune are hard to find, life is not long;
Think it constantly, stop desire for this life.
For me, at my level, that is all I need from this scripture, and we are only in the fourth stanza of fourteen. I have still a lot of desire for this life, I still want comfort, I want security, I have pride, I have anger, I have all these defects related to this life. So I have not accomplished this line, "Stop desire for this life." If I am not done with that line, how can I ever proceed to the rest of the scripture? I am not there yet, but I will read it for you.
Comprehension of Karma: Action and Consequence
The next line says, "Think over and over how deeds and their fruits never fail." Action and consequence never fail. This is a Shravakayana, foundational level teaching. In the Bible it says,
"Ye will reap what you sow."
That is karma, simple and pure, but none of us grasp it, because we continue to perform actions that produce suffering.
Now, once we become "spiritual," we hide our harmful acts even from ourselves; we try to act like we know better. We do not want to show people what we really are inside, so we act spiritual. That is normal. But inside, in the mind, we are angry, vengeful, proud, stuck-up, full of ourselves, judging other people, condemning everyone, envying everyone, coveting what they have, full of fear, consumed by anxiety—none of that is “spiritual.” A truly spiritual person is in equanimity, peace, and radiates love even to their enemies. None of us have that; none of us have the right to act like we are that when we are not.
Think over and over how deeds and their fruits never fail,
And the cycle’s suffering: stop desire for the future.
Let us think about that for a moment: action and consequence, Karma. We "spiritual people" take this idea for granted; we think we grasp it, because we have studied the word karma, we may have read a couple of books about it, we have heard Samael Aun Weor talk about karma a lot and we think, "Oh yeah, I get karma, I know what karma is." Sorry! Wrong! You do not! None of us do. Comprehension is proven through your actions. Shall I repeat that? Comprehension is proven through your actions, not through your intellect, not through the mind, not through your words, not through your pantomime of spirituality, but through your actions in your heart, in your mind. Samael Aun Weor said, "What matters most is not how people treat each other visibly, but how people treat each other invisibly.” That is very profound; certainly, I cannot measure up to it.
Every single motion of matter and energy produces a consequence. That is karma: action and consequence.
The Four Certainties of Karma
There are four basic rules that we need to grasp about karma.
1. Actions produce related consequences.
When you perform an action there will always be a consequence that is related to that action. That is basic karmic law. We need to look at that in our lives; this is where we can apply this analytical meditation that I was describing. Analyze the consequences you are experiencing in your life. How are you suffering? In the evening at home, in the morning before you leave for your day, analyze yourself. “How am I suffering? What are the consequences that I am bearing?” Look at that, analyze that, and then look to see what actions could produce that because nothing is accidental. This is the first rule for a Gnostic: nothing is an accident, nothing is coincidence. We know there is a law of accident, but it is rare. What is most common is the law of karma. So we have to analyze ourselves, our mind, our suffering, our problems, our pains, and look what action could produce what we experience
2. Consequences are greater than the action.
I know the mind hates this one, the mind says, "No way, it cannot be like that, I do not accept that at all." Sorry, but this is a law. In fact, consequences are greater than the actions. Think about that.
I explained the law of invariance, and I gave you the example: if we drop something into water, the water makes waves; the wave is water moving up as the water where the impact occurred goes down; it is a kind of pendulum swing. Think about that: when the object strikes the water, there is a certain amount of water displaced. Correct? But it goes out in a ring: far more water is affected than the impact point. Do you grasp that? When the stone hits the water, we think in our mind that the only thing affected is the water that the stone touches, but that is not true. All of the water in the whole area is affected. The whole body of water moves.
Now, this is just an intellectual example. In the real world, the energies in motion are far greater than our mind can imagine. Moreover, this law applies to all energy, even psychological energy. That is, the same is true with your anger, with your pride, with your lust, with your envy: the same law applies. When you feel an explosion of covetousness inside, that is like the stone touching the water in your heart, but those ripples flow through your three brains, and they flow to your spouse, to your children, to your coworkers, to your family, to every person that comes in contact with you. They affect your household, they affect your workplace, they even affect your clothing, your bedroom—they affect everything. The consequence of that anger, covetousness, pride, lust, irradiates out in waves upon waves, especially if you keep feeding it. The energy of our mind is flowing and flowing and flowing saturating every atom in your body and saturating every person that you pass near, and then you wonder why when we walk around our cities there is so much pain and so much suffering. Because we produce it! We do not realize that “consequences are greater than the action,” but let me explain something to you: the inverse is also true.
If you perform a good deed, the consequences are greater than the action. This is the secret of religion. This is why sacrifice is the greatest aspect of the three factors. Yes we need death psychologically, yes we need birth spiritually, but most of all we need to sacrifice for others, because that action produces consequences far greater than the original action. That is how we can transform the world, by understanding karma, the first level, Shravakayana, basic. And remember, I am only on number two of the four aspects.
3. You cannot receive the consequence without committing its corresponding action.
You cannot be nourished unless you eat. You cannot be clean unless you bathe. You cannot go to jail unless you committed a crime. You cannot receive your payment unless you performed the work. What does this mean? If you want to be rich, you need to earn your money. This is a very superficial and foolish idea or example, and yet we all suffer from ignoring it. We all think there is a trick, a way to get rich overnight. Americans are the stupidest ones of all in regards to this, because all the Americans are obsessed with concepts, ideas, tricks, regarding “How to get money right away.” That is what all those commercials are about, “If you sign up for my seminar, my program, or get my book, you will get rich really fast” doing real estate, doing investing, whatever the concept or idea, the hook is, yet it is all lies. You know why? Because the only one getting rich is the one selling it. We have this psychological weakness because we do not understand karma. This affects us in many, many ways.
We also think we can trick our way into heaven. We think, “If I believe in Jesus, I have nothing more to do, I am going to heaven.” If that were true, he would have said it, but he did not. For two thousand years people have been altering the scriptures to try to support that concept so they can stay in power, but the concept is still false. Millions of people believe that belief takes them to heaven, yet nothing in the entirety of God's creation supports that idea. God does not make exceptions to the law; the law is the law. Spirituality functions in accordance with laws. You cannot get something that you did not earn, but you will get what you deserve.
The Bible says whatever you sow, whatever seeds you put in the earth, determines what you are going to get back. But think about it, the seed is tiny, you put that little seed in there but what comes out? A big plant, a big tree: the consequences are greater than the action.
This is only number three, and we are still only in the fourth stanza of the scripture. You can see how much work we have to do.
4. Once an action is performed the consequence cannot be erased.
We love to try to get away with feeding our desires. We think we can cheat everybody, be sneaky, and let our mind dwell on those lustful images, let our mind dwell on our resentment towards our mother or father, or our boss, or our wife or husband. We love to indulge in our grievances and our pleasures. We always forget that they have a consequence, too.
This statement has to be understood in context with the other three. Once an action is performed the consequence cannot be erased; this is a fact. Everything you do is permanently a part of nature. You cannot erase it from the memory of nature. However, a superior law can transcend that law. In other words, if you perform an action whose consequence will be painful, you can then perform a superior action whose consequence will be superior to that pain, thereby you transcend the inferior consequences.
If you feel anger towards someone and you say something angry, that person is going to get upset, but if you realize it and you apologize, sincerely, then the suffering is averted or healed. Right? If the person accepts it, if they feel and accept your sincerity and truly accept the apology they do not need to have revenge on you, it is solved. The same is true spiritually. This is why we have to perform good deeds in order to conquer all of the karmas that we can, to pay our karma, to pay our debts, to be free of pain. Not every action can be erased in that way, but many can, many can be absolved you might say, or cleared. The record is there but it does not mean that you have to suffer the consequences for every action; you do not if you perform good deeds, if you work with the law.
These painful things that I been talking about are all related to the first level, to really see how our emotions, our thoughts, and our actions not only make us suffer, but make other suffer. When we grasp that, it is painful, it hurts.
There was a great lama in Tibet who lived in isolation and was quite old. Occasionally other lamas would come visit him. He asked them, "Have you heard anything about so and so lama? How is he doing?"
The visitor said, "Oh, he is doing so well, he is building temples, stupas, he is printing dharma books, he is spreading the teachings everywhere."
The great lama said, "Oh, wonderful, wonderful, but isn't it great to practice genuine dharma?"
Later another visitor came, another lama and this old lama said, "Have you heard about this other lama? How is he doing?"
The visitor said, "Ah, he is teaching, he has many students, he is doing well."
The old man said, "Oh, good, good, but isn't it great to practice genuine dharma?”
Then later another lama came, and the old man would say, "Ah, have you heard about such and such lama? How is he?"
The visitor said, "He is doing very well, he is in a strict retreat, in the mountains, meditating, doing mantras, for three years."
The old lama said, "Oh, good, good, but isn't it great to practice real dharma?”
Later, another lama came to visit, and the old man said, "How is so and so doing?”
The visitor said, "Ah, that guy, all he does is sit around and pull his robe over his head and cry."
The old man said, "Oh! He is practicing real dharma."
This story explains a lot. Those tears, that crying, was not a cry of self-pity, or remorse, those are tears of compassion. That is the entry into Mahayana, the second level, by really comprehending suffering, the causes of it, why it happens, and how we ourselves are responsible. This comprehension causes quite naturally to emerge in oneself remorse, the urge, the longing to change, this is important and necessary. But by really going deeper, by really meditating on that, the doorway appears to the second level of any religion, which is to comprehend that all people all beings everywhere in existence are suffering, we need to help them. We, who have a tiny glimmer of understanding about our own cause, the way we ourselves have created suffering and have made them suffer, need to help them.
How many of us have truly comprehended the immensity of suffering? None of us, because as soon as the lecture is over, we go out skipping around, dancing, and running from place to place, and eating lots of food, and having a great time. Until we have to go to work and then we are in pain, or we have to go home to our spouse and then we are in pain. But we do not really grasp suffering.
The immensity of suffering is not a concept, it is a reality, now. We are all comfortably listening to this lecture—we have great fortune and leisure to sit around and listen to me talk—that is extraordinary. Do you know what a small fraction of the beings of this planet have that? How few people can afford to listen to this lecture? Very, very few, because bound by karma—that’s why this line says—“Beings are fettered.” What are they fettered by? Desire that produces consequences that bind us because of the law of action and consequence.
“Desire” as a term does not encompass what we need it to encompass, so let’s talk about the psychological factors that bind us to suffering. In Buddhism they’re presented as eight worldly concerns.
The Eight Worldly Concerns
A great Buddhist master named Nagarjuna explained the eight worldly concerns beautifully in a scripture. He said,
By the eight worldly concerns we mean:
The worldly thoughts [from receiving]:
Gifts or no gifts, comfort or discomfort,
Fame or notoriety, praise or criticism.
Keep a level head.
These are not subjects for your thoughts [if you want liberation]. - Nagarjuna
Concerns one and two refer to “gifts or no gifts,” to acquire what we want: fulfillment of desires for things, sensations.
Concerns three and four are “comfort and discomfort,” which refer to feeling good, feeling bad; in other words, the desire for security, comfort, etc.
Concerns five and six, “fame or notoriety,” refer to being well known whether by a good or bad reputation.
Concerns seven and eight, “praise or criticism,” refer to being respected or criticized by others.
Those are the eight worldly concerns. They sound simple, but they are not. They operate very deeply in the core of our minds. These concerns even afflict the Gods.
Many people—maybe some of us—think when they read the "Eight worldly concerns" that it does not apply to them because they believe they are renunciates—they have renounced the world, thus they are not concerned with the world, so they do not have these eight worldly concerns. What a lie, what a deception to put on oneself. Worldly concerns relate to the mind. These are concerns in the mind. It does not matter if you are a monk, abbot, lama, or yogi. How do we know that is true? Look at all those monks, yogis, lamas, and spiritual practitioners who do a lot of practices, build a lot of monasteries, and attract a lot of students: in the back of their mind the reason they are doing it is to be famous, respected, admired, talked about. They are afflicted by these worldly concerns, but garbed in robes. Yet, such concerns are pointless, because when they die, nothing will change: they will continue to cycle in the wheel of samsara. So the point is, it makes no difference for you to spend your entire lifetime in meditation, in a cave chanting mantras, bringing thousands of students to religion, if in the end your mind is poisoned by any one of these eight desires, because that one desire keeps you tied to the wheel of samsara and you will come back. That is how severe the law is. The mind has to become completely free from desire—one hundred percent— only then can you step off the wheel. This is why we see many spiritual teachers, carted around as a spiritual incarnation, or because of karma are put into the forefront of big movements or groups, because in the past they did some spiritual work. Do they still have the ego? Do they still have pride? Do they still have desire for comfort? Then they too are condemned to suffer until they change that. All of us have that, so let us not worry about the authenticity or value of those teachers, lamas, and yogis. Let us focus on changing ourselves.
Any of us can do this analytical meditation and see in ourselves that we have a desire for comfort, we have a desire for fame, we have a desire to get things that we want to get, and we suffer when we do not get them.
There is another story coming in my mind about a lama—sorry for so many lama stories; they are coming in my mind because I am studying this scripture.
There was a lama who saw a monk devotedly doing his practices. The lama said, "You know, uncle, I am so glad to see you doing your circles around the temple and doing your prostrations, but that is not real dharma." The lama said this often to the monk about all his practices, so the monk was starting to get frustrated. Every time he would see the lama, the lama would say, "I am really glad to see you meditating, but it is not real dharma." Finally the monk said, "I give up! I am doing my mantras, I am doing my meditation, I am doing all my practices. What do you mean I am not performing the dharma? What do I have to do?" The lama looked at him and said three times, "Give up on this life. Give up on this life. Give up on this life."
He was not talking about committing suicide. He was talking about dealing with those desires in your mind for this life, for pleasure, for comfort, for things, for name, for fame. All those desires that make impure all of your spiritual exercises, that is the key: renunciation. That is why renunciation is the foundational level. So the scripture says,
Think over and over how deeds and their fruits never fail,
And the cycle’s suffering: stop desire for the future.
The previous stanza said “Stop desire for this life.” This one says, “Stop desire for the future.” Then it continues,
When you have meditated thus and feel not even
A moment’s wish for the good things of cyclic life,
And when you begin to think both night and day
Of achieving freedom, you have found renunciation.
That is the entry way to real meditation, to real spirituality: real renunciation. So, what is this saying here, “When you have meditated thus”? Okay, we need to stop right there, because most of us would read this scripture and think, "Oh, yeah, blah blah blah, renunciation, ok, I get it, cool." And we toss it aside and we forget it. Right? How many thousands of pages of scripture have we read, how many thousands of books, hundreds of books, have we read? How many have you comprehended? I do not mean intellectually—remember what I said, comprehension is proven in actions. How many of those scriptures do you live? Not just pantomiming them in your day to day life and when you are in front of other spiritual people. Do you live them from your heart, even when you are alone? That is what proves comprehension; you can only reach that through meditation. The only way is to meditate, to comprehend, to understand it, so that it is in your atoms, in your bones. Comprehension is there when you cannot conceive of acting another way, because you know how to act, how to be, how to live. That is comprehension, You see, when we say “you need to comprehend your ego, you need to comprehend your pride, your lust,” it means you cannot even conceive of letting that demon into your mind-stream for even the space of the width of a needle, you cannot even conceive of it, it is inconceivable, you would never allow it—that is comprehension.
None of us are like that; we hear that demon of lust, or that demon of alcohol, or that demon of drugs, or that demon of smoking, or that demon of greed, or envy knocking on our back and we say, "Oh, yeah I remember you. What are you saying? Hmmm interesting, let me think about that, let me meditate on that. Hmm, maybe I should have a drink, I am a gnostic, I can transform it. Maybe I should look at that pornography, I am a gnostic, I need to comprehend this lust.” Everyone does this, allowing demons to run around in our mind stream and pollute our practice. This happens because we do not comprehend them, we do not understand them, and that is why I said Samael Aun Weor is a perfect renunciate, and is very severe. We all think he was severe in his writing, in his way of talking—no, I'm sorry, what you see there is the love of his Being, but really in his writings you see nothing of his severity, nothing.
The severity of Samael is devastating, incomprehensible. Samael is the angel of Geburah, which is severity, justice. The severity of Samael is the severity of the law of karma; it is the most severe force in existence. Samael carries a sword of severity. There is no greater severity, and yet he is our teacher.
Who among us lives by the example of Samael, embodying that severity towards our own mind, that severity focused unwaveringly on conquering the ego? None of us! We cannot find good followers of the example of Samael. What we do find are all of the Gnostics indulging in pride, seeking for fame, competing with each other, spreading the noxious pollution of politics, corrupting schools and instructors with politics, with psuedo-spirituality and intellectual garbage. All of the so-called Gnostics are destroying the work of Samael, not enlivening it, and not just with politics, pride, and laziness, but with poisonous doctrines that they mix up and confuse because of a lack of study.
We need a solid, severe foundation in renunciation. We need to comprehend the teachings inside, and to embody them, even when we are alone. This is how you become a master of meditation, and thereby a real Gnostic. A real Gnostic is free of the eight worldly concerns. One does not reach that freedom merely by sitting in front of a group and having people admire you. It isn't by pontificating, it isn't by writing books, it isn't by building temples or schools, or getting a lot of students, or building a big movement—no, it is by dying psychologically, it is by the ego dying every day. We need this foundation in our practice, we need the first fundamental, renunciation: mystical death—nothing else can happen without that.
You will know you have renunciation—as it says in this scripture—when you feel not even a moment's wish for the good things of cyclic life. In my experience, I have only met very small handful of people who have that, and I am not one of them. Those people are like Samael Aun Weor; he is one. In him, there is not a spec of desire for cyclic life, a spec of desire for comfort, fame, pleasure, cappuccinos, hotdogs, chocolate, cornbread, beer, a big house, a nice car, a big group, a big spiritual movement, etc. Do you see how many desires we have?
You will know you have found renunciation—it says here—when you begin to think both night and day of achieving freedom—spontaneously, in your blood, not because you just read something, or heard a lecture and get fired up, but because in your blood, in your heart, in your bones, you comprehend suffering. This is the quality of mind, a quality of consciousness that is required to enter the Bodhisattva path. If you do not have this quality, you will never grasp the next level, which is Bodhichitta, it's impossible. You might get the concept, you might get it in your intellect, but you will not experience it. To acquire real Bodhichitta, your renunciation has to be extremely solid, pervasive, an extensive and robust foundation. It has to become your main characteristic. This is why Samael Aun Weor said, “we have to become like a lemon.” Have you ever tasted a raw lemon just by itself, taken a lemon and put in your mouth? Nothing can stand against that taste. Right? Nothing. When you put that lemon in your mouth it wipes out everything else, everything, you cannot override it. That is renunciation, that is what he is talking about. He is not saying you have to be bitter to each other, which is how some people interpret it, "You have to bitter like the lemon and cruel," No, Samael is not cruel. Severe, yes, but remember Samael is the Logos of Mars, and the virtue of Mars is love. The antithesis of love is war, hate, violence, which is the force of Mars used by the ego. The virtue of Mars is a diligent, cognizant love; Mars is severe because of love for humanity.
Renunciation is not something you can fake. We all try; we go out with our friends and maybe there is a Gnostic around or another spiritual person, and there is beer or pot and we act like a renunciate, “No, I do not do that.” But in our mind the desire is there, isn't it? We may be thinking about that for a while later on, that desire keeps coming in the mind, “Maybe I can have a little, remember how good that used to be, remember how much I used to love doing that?” We all indulge in that way of thinking, especially when it comes to sex. There are many people walking around like big shots—Gnostics and other spiritual people—who act like they spiritually elevated, observing chastity, but in their mind, what are they thinking? They are remembering when they used to have the orgasm and how much they enjoyed it, and they replay their experiences in their mind, and replay them, indulging in those experiences in their mind, thinking there is no consequence. By that behavior they demonstrate that they have no comprehension of karma, no comprehension of all the most fundamental aspects of tantra, thus they are not real Tantrikas, but are merely imitating it. Of course, all of us are guilty of that, so let us not claim to be something we are not.
Renunciation proves itself through actions, not just physically, but in the mind. Someone who has truly comprehended fornication will not even approach it in their mind—that is how you know if you comprehend it in all the levels of the mind—and not just fornication, but greed, envy, covetousness, fear, pride.
Pride is a noxious poison, but we all like it. Where there is pride, there is no renunciation. Where there is vanity, where there is envy, where there is covetousness, where there is fear, where there is anxiety, where there is stress, there is no renunciation.
There is no excuse that will free us from the consequences of our actions. If we seriously want to achieve the goal of our spiritual path, we need to become severe like a lemon—not severe with each other, but severe with ourselves. We need to renounce the mind, to conquer it, and this does not come through mere rejection. Samael Aun Weor said very beautifully in the book "Fundamentals of Gnostic Education" that if you simply reject something, later it will come back even stronger. You know why he said that? Because he understood the law of karma and the steps that I explained: the consequence is greater than the action. Repression is an action, avoidance is an action, and thus when you see in your mind pride, lust, or fear, and you avoid it, you repress that desire, you only strengthen it, and it will come back later even stronger.
We have observed many people who come into the Gnostic teachings full of fiery enthusiasm and who make dramatic sweeping changes in their personal lives, abandoning alcohol, drugs, and sleeping around, all those types of different behaviors that produce suffering for them. Then a year goes by, maybe two, and all the sudden they disappear, and we always wonder what happened to them; later we find out they are back in the same old routine but worse, because they did not comprehend anything, they just repressed it, and it all became stronger. I cannot tell you how many times I have seen that happen, Even though I am new in this tradition, I have seen it more times than I can count. It is because those people fail to comprehend the most basic level of the teaching; they thought they were big shot tantric practitioners because they heard of Gnosis, they read a few books, maybe they started teaching, but they did not comprehend anything. If they comprehended, it would live in their actions. But what are their actions? They left the teaching, they started drinking again, sleeping around again, doing drugs, some of them are dead. We do not acquire this teaching for free. You cannot just walk in and out. Your Being had to go through an enormous amount of effort to put you in this teaching, to expose you to it, and when you walk away—to be honest, I prefer not to talk about that, it is too painful.
“...we warn those who like to snoop around that Gnosticism is not like the other schools that they have been to. Many become Theosophists and then they leave; they then move into the “Rosicrucian Order” and also withdraw without anything significant happening to them. Thus, this is how they like to go around like butterflies from school to school, in conformity with all of those Spiritualist, Theosophist, Rosicrucian and pseudo-Aquarian, decadent doctrines etc., and nothing happens to them when they switch schools.
However, if they think that they can do the same with Gnosis, we warn them that they cannot, since whosoever enters into Gnosis is internally subjected to the remarkable test of the Guardian of the Threshold. If one succeeds in the test, one then enters into the straight, narrow, and difficult path which leads us to Nirvana.
Then, the degrees, initiations, and other tests, etc., come afterwards. Thus, the higher the disciple is, the more terrible is the fall. Those who have not seen the Light ignore a great deal and therefore, much is forgiven of them; however, the greater the degree of cognizance, the greater the degree of responsibility.
Therefore, those who saw the Light and then leave become demons. This is how horns have grown on the foreheads of the Astral bodies of many bodhisattvas; this is how these fallen bodhisattvas have become demons. Therefore, from Gnosis one becomes either an Angel or a devil.
After a false step, many continue rolling downward into the abyss and finally the horns grow on them and they become demons. This is the remarkable reality in Gnosis.
“For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increases knowledge increases sorrow.” - Ecclesiastes 1:18
Therefore, stay back, nosey people!
Therefore, stay back, profaners! Gnosis is a two-edged sword, it defends and gives life to the humble and virtuous; yet, it wounds and destroys the curious and impure.” - Samael Aun Weor, The Major Mysteries
Studying Gnosis is a tremendous responsibility. That is why severity is so critical. That is why renunciation is so critical. This is not a game. We have to be serious.
Everyday, analyze what you study and what you do.
Do not just read scriptures, the books of Samael, and the teachings of the Buddha or Tsong Khapa, and just toss it aside. Meditate.
I hear many students saying, “But I do not know how to meditate on something; how do you do it?” I just explained it: sit down, close your eyes, and think about it. Start there; think about it, digest it, analyze it, look at it in context of your life, compare it, take it apart, put it together, you need to digest it. In the mind? Yes, but mostly in the consciousness you need to digest it. Take it into your Being so that it will become part of you.
Why do we encounter so many people from different traditions who are bad examples of their traditions? Because they do not comprehend their own tradition. We recently observed a person who came to visit a Gnostic group but proclaiming that their group was the best, and their proclamation was filled with pride, sarcasm, and bitterness. That is contradictory, isn't it? They embraced their sarcasm, pride, and anger as examples of why their group is “the best.” Strange, isn't it?
How can we accept groups that proclaim that their group is the best, insisting that everyone come and join them because they are the best for this and that reason, and everything is filled with pride and condemnation of others? Or what of groups who utilize fear to make students dependent upon them, saying “If you are not with us, you will go to hell,” and other such idiotic statements?
Remember the story I told you about the lamas building temples, going on retreats? The only one practicing real dharma was the one crying. Who among all of these groups, teachings, and teachers really demonstrates in their actions that they comprehend suffering and compassion? That should be your measure, not who has the big name, who is famous, who has the most students, who has the most schools, or teachings, or teachers, or books, or the most illustrious lineage. Judge them by their actions. Jesus told us,
“You shall know them by their fruit.”
—not by what they say or want you to believe.
We are judged in the same way: by our actions. In the end, when our inevitable death approaches, we will not be judged because of what group we belonged to, just in the same way as we won't be judged by the color of our shirt. We will be judged by what we did, by the consequences of our actions. In the book "Hell, Devil, and Karma" Samael Aun Weor said it is the results of our actions that matter, we are judged for the results of our actions. Our intentions—even if we have the greatest intentions in the world—mean nothing if the results are catastrophic. There are a lot of people with great intentions; we all have good intentions. Who among us has bad intentions? None of us, we all want to do good, we all want to be good, but the results of our actions prove that we are not. We need to analyze that; everyday, analyze your behaviors.
We teach a practice called retrospection. Every Gnostic school in the world should teach this practice. Yet, it is not the property of Samael Aun Weor. He did not invent it. Retrospection is present in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition—even Tsong Khapa taught this practice. It is present in the teachings of the Buddha, and it is present in every religion in its heart and core. I have attended a Zen temple where they teach retrospection.
The practice is very simple: every day, at the end of your day, spend some time reflecting on your day. Review it with your imagination. You can spend as much or as little time as you feel is necessary. It could be a few minutes, it could be a few hours, but if you are serious about wanting to uncover why you suffer and how to reach God, you need to analyze yourself, because the answers to both are within. The answers are not in books. You can't get the answers from your teacher or from your friends, you can only get the answers by observing and analyzing your mind.
You can do some preliminary practices to prepare for retrospection, and I recommend it, especially at the end of the day when you come from work or your daily activities, and you have all that energy buzzing, you need to calm down. You can take a shower or a bath, take a walk, clear your mind, relax, get some exercise, have a light meal—do not eat a heavy meal before you sit to meditate because you are not going to be comfortable and you will fall asleep, your body will distract you. Do some pranayamas, do some mantras, do some chanting, do some exercises, runic, or Tibetan, something to help you center yourself, steady or stabilize your energies and relax. And then once you are really relaxed and calm, sit down and begin to replay the events of the day in your imagination. It is not so much to think about it, but to replay the events, to review them like a movie, and it is very effective to do it backwards, to start with sitting down to meditate and go backwards through all the events. Observe it in your mind like you are an actor who you are watching, look at yourself like you are an actor, and go back and review everything step by step. Slow or fast does not matter, up to you, but follow your intuition. Watch how your mind tries to change what happened, because it will. You'll start to remember that moment when you saw that man who was so attractive and you thought, "Oh if only I could be married with a guy like that." But then when you remember it in your mind, you start thinking something else, your mind changes the memory. Or you start to reflect on an argument that you had with somebody and instead of remembering what they said that was true, you can only remember your resentment. See how your mind starts to change and play with your memories, it’s a very important thing, because it will inevitably.
That is the basic practice. From there, there is a lot you can do, a lot you can learn, but you need to practice it first, you need to learn how to do it. The more you learn, the more you practice, the more we can teach you, the more you can teach yourself, but make no mistake: this practice is real and it works if you use it. It will lead you to a great deal of understanding about yourself, about life, and the result of it is love.
When you start to really see your own behaviors and your own actions and how you affect people, you will start changing because you want to, and you do not want to be that person anymore, you do not want to be that person, you want to be better. This isn't fake, it's not something that you are doing just to show off, it is doing something sincere. So, when you master that, then we'll go to the next level, and we'll talk about Bodhichitta, but you can't grasp Bodhichitta until you really know what it means to renounce, to feel that remorse, and to stop acting in stupid ways.
Questions and Answers
Audience: You were breaking down the scripture, particularly the part where it says, you know, “We have leisure and fortune” (unintelligible) have a physical body, but what of the people who have deformed physical bodies, and are deformed mentally also? Will they at least have another chance to work on themselves, maybe not in this life time but in a future life time?
Instructor: Well, firstly we have to comprehend that every single particle of our existence is due to past actions. Everything about your body, about your circumstances, about your life, is so because how you yourself acted previously. To this, there are no exceptions. When you understand that, then you can really start to meditate on your life, on your body, on your mind, on your heart, and see the causes. For people who are born with disfigurements, it is due to karmic causes, causes that they themselves produced in the past and that resulted in those consequences. Why does that happen? Firstly, it happens because it's a law of nature. Nature has to do that to balance energy, that is the basis of this law "Invariance" in physics and that's why water makes those motions, it takes the energy that hit it and moves itself in order to balance all those forces and become back into a state of equanimity. This is true in every level of nature—it happens in gases, solids, liquids, and in the ether. When you push against the force, that force pushes back but there is more consequences all around it, it isn't equilateral. So, those people who are suffering disfigurement or ailments are paying their karma—not out of vengeance, but because it is the law of nature. If they ignore it, once the karma is paid they will be back where they started. For example, if you get a ticket or you get convicted of a crime, you go to jail, or you pay your fine, but after that you are back where you started, you do not get anything else, you just pay your debt and then you are free of the debt but back to zero. It is the same in the law of karma, the same in nature, yet if the person who has an ailment, mental or physical, were to comprehend the karma, to really understand it, then things would be different, they would get something, they would get comprehension, wisdom, knowledge, and there are cases like that. I've met several people with physical and mental disabilities or problems, who understand it, comprehend it, they can't necessarily explain it with the intellect, but emotionally and consciously they get it. One man in particular that I know, who I have enormous respect for, intellectually is disabled; intellectually, he does not have the power of retention or attention to study things and remember them, but in his actions he shows great comprehension, he is very kind. Personally, I would rather hang around him than a know-it-all spiritual person who is cruel—and there a lot of them. Right? A kind person, a good person, is better to be with. Simply, his kindness shows that he has more comprehension. I respect that.
Question: Is not desiring to know desire itself a desire?
Instructor: Yes, if it’s in the intellect. We have to make a difference between what we mean by desire as a cause of suffering and desire as a cause for happiness. We generally use the word desire to connote causes of suffering because that is 97% of what we are, desires that are selfish and rooted at grasping at an ego. We have a small percentage, we say an average of 3%, of consciousness that is not trapped in those types of aggregates, it is what we call the essence, Buddhadatu, or Tathagatagarbha in Tibetan terms. This is the Buddha Nature, a kind of “free” or unrestricted consciousness. That also has what we might call a desire or a longing, and those are multifaceted. If you look at for example the person I was talking about, that person has a sincere desire to help other people; this is beautiful, and is a cognizant part of him, conscious. You can call it desire if you want, but what will the consequences of that be? Will he suffer from that? Will the law punish him because he wants to help others and be kind to others? No, because the consequences always relate to the action. Remember the four steps I explained. Thus, we need to apply that law karma to understanding what desires are and what they are not, and what is beneficial and what is not. In every case, no matter what our intellect says or the terms we use, what matters is our actions. How we act, how we behave, what we think, and what we feel, that's what matters. We can call it desire or not; that is irrelevant. How you act creates a result; that is karma. So, if you want to say that your longing for God is a desire for God, feel free, but act on it, and reap the benefits of that action.
Student: One of the great comprehensions of Raja Yoga was concrete fact. Now, is this a form of repression when the mind creates scenarios, when the mind gossips about the others, when I tell the mind "Okay show me some concrete fact that it's true." Right? I do not know if this person is making these things about me. Right? Now, is this a form of repression when I question the mind, “Show me a concrete fact”?
Instructor: That is not repression, that is analysis. When you are questioning the mind in that way, you are forcing the mind to state the facts. Right? That is necessary, everyone should be doing that. To repress it would be to say “No, no, no, no, I do not want to deal with that." Repression is avoidance. When you go into it to analyze it, that’s what we need to do, and based on facts, absolutely right, no question about it. In fact, that is a great measuring tool we should use in our meditation practice and in our dream interpretation. Everything we see internally in meditation and in dreams needs to be compared with facts, and if there are no facts to support it we should set it aside and wait.
Question: When the mind, during retrospection, tries to change our memories should we simply observe it and how it is changing things? Or should we try and stabilize?
Instructor: That is a good question. This depends upon the point of view you have in your meditation. The question implies that there is an instability in the consciousness. If your attention is not continuous—in other words if you are in danger of losing the continuity of your awareness—that needs to be the first thing you pay attention to; you need to stabilize your meditation. So if the event that you are observing is causing you to lose awareness and you are starting to slip into a dream, fantasy, or a memory, or get distracted by your thoughts, the very first thing you need to do is center yourself, and remember yourself, and remember you are meditating, being mindful. Do not forget you are meditating. This is super critical, because if you lose your mindfulness of meditating, you will just start dreaming, and you will fall asleep, and you will waste your time. Always retain that mindfulness.
If the mindfulness is there and you have a relative degree of concentration but the mind is trying to alter the event, then yes, observe that, but furthermore, apply the analysis. As Samael Aun Weor stated and explained in his books, “We need to coldly analyze everything that passes on the screen of the mind.”
There are many techniques we can use regarding this. An example just cited is to use facts. So when we see the mind starting to change that event, we need to consciously remember what are the facts of this event. “What do I know is factually true?” So as an example, you said "Do I really know this person is saying these things about me? Did I hear them saying it? Or did somebody tell me that they are saying it? Or did I just think that they are saying it?” So these are all different, but we respond to them as they are the same. A lot of the imagery and contents of our mind that we think is real is really just self-projected. What people think of us, what they say about us, whether we are successful or not, a lot of that is just projections of the ego, a lot of it is just stuff we heard from other people, very little of it is based from facts, so bringing in the facts is important.
The other thing you can do is bring in the opposites. Remember I explained to you these eight worldly desires; really it is four sets of two: positive, negative; craving, aversion. We want that object, so we suffer because we want it. We do not have that object, so we suffer because we do not have it. But even when we get it we suffer because we might lose it. Right? What's the answer? It is to renounce, to be the same whether you have it or do not, to be in equanimity, and the same is true with name and fame, and what people say of us, and what they do not say of us, everything, to be in equanimity. That equanimity doesn’t come through repression or indulgence, it comes through comprehension, through understanding.
Question: How much detail should we go into retrospection to get the most out of the practice?
Instructor: There is no rule in this practice, you have to listen to your heart. This practice is not mechanical. No one should tell you sit and spend 30 seconds on the first hour and 30 seconds on the next hour, or spend an hour on the first hour; if you are doing that you are going to be there all day. You need to listen to your heart. What is your heart telling you that you need to meditate on? What caused pain for you or someone else? How much time you spend on it depends on how much you want to deal with that pain. If it is something that is not significant to you, you are not going to want to spend any time on it, so if I tell you to spend an hour you won't. You need to spend the time on it that you are naturally inclined to spend, and the same with the amount of detail you grasp. Look for the details that are relative and important.
Understand something here: the purpose of this practice is not to recall an event and try to remember whether the person's shoes had laces or were pull on, or whether they were wearing black pants or dark brown. No, no, no, no, these are not the reasons to do this practice. You are not trying to test your memory, rather you are trying to determine the facts of what happened in all three brains and in relation to states and events, and why suffering is occurring. It does not matter if you can remember every infinitesimal little detail about how their hair was styled, or how the light was playing on the window in the background. None of that stuff makes any difference—great if you can remember it, then you have a good memory and your imagination is working, that's great, but it does not matter. What matters is: can you understand the egos at play, the desires at work, how the personality is functioning, how the karma is functioning? That is what you need to look for. You need to remember the facts of what you felt, what you thought, what you saw, what you did, and in your environment. And then you reflect on those facts and analyze what is causing suffering, and what will the results be of how I behaved.
Question: My question is referred to the retrospection, how do you handle when your analytical meditation when it blends in with inspired meditation. Like I was meditation like I was meditating, retrospecting and one of the Hebrew letters popped in my imagination, it's the Ayin. And then I started dissecting everything that was in the lecture because that’s all I knew about the letter, so...
Instructor: Perfect, that’s exactly right; you are doing it, the right way. When we are doing this analytical meditation, the first purpose is to comprehend the event, to get information about it, and what we want to be watching for is what you saw, something new, something unexpected, some new information, and it will happen, it will come. Every student who works with this technique will experience it. Where you are concentrated on an event and then something totally unexpected and without your will comes into your mind, a Hebrew letter for example, that is perfect, beautiful. Now you have a choice, but your heart needs to answer it, not your mind. “Do I meditate on the symbol that came? Or do I keep meditating on the event? Or do I meditate on both?” The answer needs to be determined by your own evaluation of how stable your meditation practice is and how clear and penetrating your imagination is. That is something only you can know. You will know more if you studied the techniques. In your case, you followed the letter and began to analyze the letter; great. There is a relationship between what you were meditating on and that letter, so you need to determine what is the relationship. Why did that letter appear? Your intellect will never be able to answer it, because the answer is not intellectual; you are getting information from your Being and you cannot comprehend that with the intellect, you have to comprehend it with the heart, so keep meditating.
Question: I am still not quite sure what it meant as far as the event, I just started recalling everything I heard from memory…
Instructor: At that point, you may want to explore a slightly different angle on the practice, which is to visualize the new information but let go of the analysis and start to move into more imagination. Let the imagination open up more, and that takes some skill because you have to be able to do that consciously; it is the same as going into the astral plane. Let the body relax more, let the mind relax more, and visualize that letter so that it starts to reveal more information to you. Often times the analysis can get in the way. So, it's a tricky spot, but if you can manage it you can get more information and start to understand that, and that's why the Master explained the three levels—imagination, inspiration, and intuition. It takes time. I have had images that I saw in meditation 10, 20 years ago and I still do not comprehend them. You know? And I still from time to time will remember, "Oh yeah I still do not understand that." Maybe one day I will, I hope, but practice is like that; some things we understand immediately, some things we understand slowly; we just have to keep working with what’s most immediate.
Question: I know I've done pretty much the same thing, and it's, I know sometimes your mind will go into a direction where things pop up. And at one point you almost consider is this really being distracted or I saw something like, or is these things that do pop in my head… (Unintelligible) Because I know you can spend hours, you can spend at least two hours without even knowing, little things that pop up and just reviewing only few minutes of the day.
Instructor: The key there is the difference, learning how to taste the difference between something that comes from conscious imagination and mechanical imagination. As you said there are many things that can come in the mind and the ego uses a lot of that to distract us, especially when we are working on eliminating something, so many things will start to come. But with some experience in practice you start to learn the difference in taste between the distractions that are occurring in the mind as a matter of course and something that is coming from the Being. There is a distinct difference, and I cannot put it in words because it's not intellectual. It's something you have to taste with your consciousness that you will know it when it happens. And when it happens then you need to determine is this worth, which direction do I go in my meditation? Most of the time especially in the beginning most of what emerges is just mechanical, it's just the mind.
Question: To truly comprehend a book or a scripture should we only study one book at a time, without trying to study many at one time?
Instructor: In my personal experience, yes. We have the tendency to read scripture the same way we read comic books, or the same way we read a cereal box, and this is a big mistake. A scripture is a locked treasure; you can see the outside of that box and admire it, but if you want to get what's inside of it you have to meditate, you have to comprehend. These short few lines that I read you today, the intellect especially if you studied spirituality for a while, they do not seem like a big deal, because they really just condense the Buddha's teachings into a few short little lines. So, a lot of students and people who study religion can read it and say, "Oh yeah, okay, I know what’s in there, I get it." Big mistake!!! This text is special, and the scripture I picked is special because of the experience that you can draw out of it, what is contained inside of it. Only your consciousness can retrieve that. This is also true of all of the books given by Samael Aun Weor. Those books are extremely special, and let me give you a hint about that. There are many people, who with very good intentions take out a dictionary and try to translate the writings of Samael into another language, and this is fine, with good intentions, I respect that. But if they do not comprehend the treasure hidden inside those lines, then they can never translate it, it is impossible, and thus the translation will be dead, lifeless. The same is true when we try to study a scripture and teach from that scripture, or use that scripture in our daily lives, and all of us have the evidence, every one of us has proven it already, because every one of us has read probably hundreds of sacred books, of spiritual books. And yet how many of us have comprehended it, have lived what those scriptures have taught? Very few, and thus how can we claim to understand them? So, it's a mistake in my opinion to read a bunch of spiritual books all at the same time or to read them rapidly. Samael Aun Weor gave a number of examples about that, he said about "Great Rebellion" for example, he spent one year writing that book and yet people sit and read it in a few minutes. It is outrageous but we all do it. So let us stop.
Student: I thought it was "Revolutionary Psychology?"
Instructor: One of those. Anyhow, it does not matter; the point of it is the point of the story, which is that we need to comprehend it, we need to learn to live by it.
The books of Samael Aun Weor are a new level of teaching that is distinct from every other scripture that is on this planet. They are something very special, very sacred, and it is sad to see people treat them like newspapers, as if they can read it quickly and toss it aside and think they understood it; no way. I read some of those books 20, 30 times, meditating on those books, and I still find things in there I did not know were there. I am truly, humbly, profoundly amazed by what is in those books.
If you read them fast, you will not get anything lasting from them. You have to read them very slowly and digest them, practice them, contemplate them, analyze them. In the same way you do your retrospection practice, you need to analyze scripture, especially when a scripture affects you, when it hits you and your struck by it, there is a reason for that, you need that. Do not just toss it aside and think, "Wow that was great." It is not like drinking a coffee or eating a donut. Your heart, your soul needs that scripture, so meditate on it, digest it, take it into your spirit. The consequences of that are beautiful.
Question: I was thinking about this, that I might be okay at helping people and that you know I might be able to do a few things for people but from the help I've gotten from my Being he is a lot better at it.
Instructor: Hehe, hehe, no doubt about it. Hehe.
Student: So, actually I should have him to go help people.
Instructor: No doubt about that.
Student: Now how exactly, and I am thinking about the monk in the story who had his hood in his robe over his… crying. How does he go about this push that he has to help people, letting his Being help, he is in tears, how does he go into meditate so he can actually have his Being present so he can help them.
Instructor: It's a beautiful question. Well the answer is actually quite simple, in my experience; the first thing you have to do is reach the stage of being like that monk: to really truly and deeply have that sense of renunciation and compassion for others, truly sincere, not to do it because you feel like you have to. Right? But, you should help others because you truly from the depths of your heart have to do it, you have no choice, you have to, that’s how you do it. Until that stage arrives for you, the best thing for you to do is to transform every action that you do into service to others.
When we perform the factor of sacrifice, we always talk how important it is to make donations, or to teach, or to spread the doctrine, and there is no question those are important. But not all of us are teachers and not all of us have money to share, right? But what we do have is a job, a daily life, a family, and friends, and people we associate with. Let us transform our job into a spiritual practice. So, instead of going to work with that dread of, "Oh God, I have to go to work today." Instead, look at what your job is. Most people have a job that serves others in some way. So look at your job as service. Do your job consciously, with kindness towards others. Think, “I am actually going to work today to help someone.” That is beautiful. “I am going to work to help someone.” It may be with communication, money, their life situation, in any number of things. You can do so much good for humanity if you take your job as service for others.
What about your marriage? What a huge opportunity that is to serve, to serve your spouse! How many people really take marriage as service? How many people take their relationship as an opportunity to serve? Not many, most think, “what am I getting out of this? Did he or she cook for me? Did he or she do my laundry? Did he or she clean?” Let's turn this around.
If you are serious about wanting to enter the Tantrayana teachings, let me tell you the prerequisite. Right? To enter Tantrayana you have to have mastered Bodhichitta. And what is that? That every action you perform is not for you. Where are we in our level? Every action we perform is for ourselves. We are not ready for Mahayana or Tantrayana. We need renunciation: we need to renounce our selfish desires, and instead seek to serve. That point of view of serving is what opens the doors of Mahayana to you, which is only the middle level. But when you start to live by that through comprehension, through your actions, then the real beauty of tantra emerges. Do not have the mistaken notion that tantra is sex, it is not, sex is only a part of tantra. Real tantra is the knowledge and method to transform energy. Tantra is based upon a strong foundation of renunciation and cognizant love. That is how tantra becomes truly empowered and creates a Bodhisattva. There is no other way.
Take each action that you do and learn to do it for others. In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna says beautify, "Do every action for me." That is a Shravakayana level of teaching, that is foundation, to do everything for God, to seek nothing for one self. Everything you do you do for Him, your Divine Mother, your Divine Father. But see that is the basic level, and when you get that, when you start living that way, then you are introduced to the next level, which is realize that God is in everyone else, so do for them as you do for God. That is Bodhichitta, and that is in every tradition, every religion. As we are now, we do not do that, so we need to learn.