This is a transcription of the audio lecture Meditation without Exertion 04 How to Conquer Afflictions originally given live on Gnostic Radio, which you can download for free.
The training of real meditation is very long and requires a great deal of study and practical experience. In order to understand what meditation truly is, it is not something that you can acquire by attending a meditation class once a week. By only reading a few books, websites, or watching videos, you will never, ever understand meditation. The experience of real meditation is something that emerges in your consciousness once the proper conditions have been established inside of you. That is a result of action. So in these recent lectures we have been discussing what those conditions are, and how to establish them.
You may have attended other meditation lectures, retreats, and classes, and encountered the common approach to meditation, perhaps regarding technical aspects such as a proper posture, preliminary concentration practices, and the use of mantra. All of these are important, but really they are a step that comes after a first step that most people skip. Traditionally, if you were a student of a lineage such as Zen, Raja Yoga, or Tibetan Buddhism, for example, you would not be introduced to the technical details until you had extensive preliminary training—the very first training—which can extend for quite a long time, and that is training in ethics. Of course, nowadays—especially North Americans and Europeans who are very intellectual by nature—people think that they understand ethics already, believing that ethics is easy, and that they can skip to the next "more interesting" step. This is one of the main causes for why North Americans and Europeans fail to learn how to meditate.
Schools of meditation have been active in Western countries for some decades now. Meditation was known and practiced amongst the Native Americans, but that tradition was destroyed. Meditation was not brought with the Europeans when they came, so after they destroyed the native traditions, the practice of meditation was lost in the western hemisphere for a long time. With the arrival with the Asian wisdom—which started arriving more or less a hundred years ago—meditation began to re-emerge as a topic of interest amongst Westerners, particularly among those who lost faith in their traditional religions.
Unfortunately, the real science and practice of meditation has not gained a strong foothold in Western culture. It is not that people are unaware of it—most people have heard of the term meditation—but what is difficult to find is someone who has sincere realization of meditation—that is, real awakening and experience with other states of consciousness. This is very difficult to find among Westerners. You can easily find teachers in schools, and many who present themselves as experts, but to find someone who has practical knowledge that emerged out of meditation practice is very rare. It is easy to find scholars and people who are well versed in the terminology or scriptures, who have studied comparative religions, and may have translated many different texts, but none of that is real knowledge, none of that is conscious knowledge that stays with the consciousness when the body dies and the consciousness moves into a new body.
It can be easy to approach meditation intellectually, and to just assume that we already know some of this because we have heard some of the terms. You should measure your understanding of meditation by your experience in meditation, not just intellectual information, not just an understanding of how the words and terms work, but actual experience, consciously.
In the first lecture of this series on meditation we talked about wisdom. We talked about the Prajnaparamita sutra, one of the most important scriptures in any Asian tradition, certainly Buddhism. That scripture describes something deeply profound: Prajna, which means "wisdom." Paramita means "perfection," but we prefer to translate it as "cognizant attitude." The Prajnaparamita sutra might be the most commented upon scripture in Buddhism, since there are more commentaries and references to that short passage than any other scripture. And yet, to truly understand it is something that is truly difficult to achieve. Fortunately, the founder of our tradition, Samael Aun Weor, had a lot of practical experience with the subject of that Sutra; he experienced it as young as the age of 18, and entered into the experience of prajna, of knowing what that means.
Prajna, wisdom, is not the ability to recite platitudes. In the West we tend to think of "wisdom" as clever phrases stated by a person with grey hair, or seated upon a throne or a mountain top, but that is not wisdom. In the context of gnosis, real wisdom is represented by the sephirah Chokmah. This is a Hebrew term that refers to the second sephirah of the Tree of Life. In Sanskrit, equivalent terms include prajna and bodhi, which refer to a kind of intelligence that is one of the faces of God: it is far beyond the intellect. Prajna or bodhi is the very essence or force that emerges in the heart and mind of a true Bodhisattva [Sanskrit for "essence of wisdom"], someone like Jesus, Buddha, or Krishna. The light that comes through their eyes, words, and action is prajna. This is a kind of intelligence that is revolutionary. It is far beyond the recitation of commandments, the remembrance of vows, or the restrictions of morality.
Prajna is a penetrating wisdom that cuts through appearances to the truth itself. All of us only see appearances. We do not see the truth of any given thing. We see our body and we assume, "This is my body" and we take it for granted. We do not see the body itself. We are not cognizant, conscious, of what is happening in the body at any level, of all the billions of atoms that are active and working, the systems and marvelous processes that are unfolding. We do not even see that, and yet it is the most superficial level. The body is mostly empty space, it is mostly nothing at all. Every atom of our body is mostly empty space, yet we, deluded by appearances, assume the body is real and lasting, when the reality is the opposite: it is highly unstable, unreliable, and subject to a myriad of vulnerabilities, any one of which can kill it easily. The body is not reliable or lasting. It is temporary. It is also constantly changing in thousands of ways, but also do not see that. To actually perceive the truth of the body (not merely think about the concept, but see it), to be aware of that, takes a certain insight perception: prajna. This is the type of wisdom that Chokmah imparts, it is a kind of insight, consciousness. Not the just the thought of something or remembrance of something, but the direct perception of it.
Prajna is a perception and understanding that cuts through appearances to see the truth, not just of the body, but of the heart, the mind, of how to behave and how to act, on how to love. This is the greatest gift that wisdom can give us: how to love. That is the doctrine of the Bodhisattva, the way of life of a Bodhisattva. Every single motion that a Bodhisattva makes is for the love of others, for the benefit of others. Prajna, wisdom, gives that.
In our tradition, the Gnostic tradition, what we want is that wisdom. We do not care about memorizing texts or conforming to a rigid structure of moral behaviors. These have nothing to do with religion, nothing to do with the truth. The truth is something that lives, that comes alive inside one's heart and mind. This is why we meditate.
Traditional Buddhism posits three trainings to prepare for the emergence of the wisdom in us, and that wisdom is the third training:
- Renunciation (Ethics)
- Compassion (Concentration)
- Christ Wisdom (Prajna)
In order to create the psychological and spiritual environment within which that wisdom can emerge in our consciousness, we need concentration. This is not a superficial concentration, but is having a mind that is undisturbed. You see, when your mind is in perfect equanimity—stable, not distracted—than that wisdom-light can emerge and we can see it, we can perceive it and we can use it. But if the mind is chaotic, full of doubts, concerns, fears, pride, that light cannot work, we cannot see it, we cannot sense it, so therefore we need concentration. We need a mind that is stable, in equanimity.
- In Chinese: Mo Chao
- In Sanskrit: shamata
- In Tibetan: shin-e (calm abiding)
- In Zen: one pointed mind
This is a kind of mind that is in perfect peace, not mechanical, not reactive, but receptive, open, empty, at peace, serene. None of us have a mind like that, so to rediscover that state of mental stability, we need ethics, the first training. Yet, we tend to skip the stage of training in ethics.
We human beings think, "I know ethics are not kill and steal, so I am going to go on to the next step, concentration." It is fine to practice concentration, we need that, but the foundation of spirituality is not in concentration, it is in ethics. In fact, there is a tantra that says this. It is called "The Tantra Requested by Subahu":
"Just as every harvest grows without fault and dependance upon the Earth, so too the highest virtues depend on ethical discipline, and grow by being moistened by the waters of compassion."
It is very common for us to find people—probably some of us here—who think that the heights of spirituality can be reached by adopting practices and behaviors such as mantra repetition, sexual transmutation, meditation, rituals, etc. We all have this concept that, "If I do this practice hard enough and for a long time, I will have experiences with God"—or—"I will incarnate my Being, Christ, I will become a saint or a Buddha." This is a wrong view. This is a wrong way of thinking. It is a delusion. This is because the practice does not bring God into your mind. Repeating a mantra, performing a posture or spiritual exercise, or engaging in a meditation practice does not bring God. What brings God, Christ, the Buddhadhatu realized, is a pure mind: ethics.
Discipline in psychology is what brings that Presence into us. This can be easily proven. You may have had your own experience of working very hard in a given practice, for days, weeks, months, years, and afterwards you may have looked back and thought, "What did I gain from that?" This is a cause for many people to abandon spirituality altogether; they may have entered into a certain school that says "If you do this practice for a certain period of time you will awaken your kundalini, activate your chakras, you will see God face to face, etc." Schools and teachers make many promises. Some even say that, "If you do this practice for six months, you will create your astral body." We have heard every kind of promise that you can imagine. The people, students, listen to these promises and apply them, work very hard, and yet gain nothing. In the end, they receive a spiritual trauma. They receive damage in their soul. They lose faith and develop doubt. Many abandon any further effort in spirituality. Thus, a great crime has been committed. Those who make such promises are killing souls.
Spiritual practices are useful and important—we need them—but what creates the fundamental change in our consciousness is not spiritual practices, it is the ethical discipline that accompanies it and provides the foundation for it.
Spiritual practices only work if our consciousness is ethical.
Imagine that you want to climb a mountain that is quite steep. It is quite difficult to ascend a steep incline, especially when the environment is harsh, like our psychological environment, which is very harsh and opposed to spirituality. Our society does not encourage us to cultivate our spiritual life, so we have a harsh environment. It is very difficult to go up a step or two. Maybe we are making some kind of effort, but then after our meditation practice, or the whole day before, we spend the whole day trapped in our pride, feeding our anger, drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes, putting many poisons into our body and mind. We go through our daily life filled with resentment towards others, with aggression and hostility, maybe depression. Consider the whole range of psychological states that we experience from day to day. Engagement with these negative states is akin to turning around on that mountain and leaping downwards. If you think about it, it is quite easy to leap down a steep slope and you can go a long way very fast, yet it is very hard to turn around and climb back up. Psychologically, this is what we do everyday. We may have great discipline to meditate every day; we may spend ten minutes or an hour meditating, but what about the other twenty-three hours and fifty minutes of that day? What are we doing with our energy? What is the nature of our mind? What are we experiencing in our heart? What are we cultivating? What are we creating? This kind of inquiry is the basis of gnostic psychology. This is the entrance into the work.
Real spirituality is aided by practice, transmutation, meditation, and mantra, but it is actualized through psychology. In my short time in these teachings, I have observed hundreds of people coming in and going out. Some have great discipline and do a lot of practice, but outside of the time of practice they persist in their old behaviors, thus they do not change, and eventually leave. But I have also observed many who may not practice quite as much, or as diligently or regularly, but who sincerely want to change their mind and their heart, who sincerely want to stop suffering from anger, anxiety, pride, etc. Those ones DO change for the better.
Ethical discipline is the basis that we need if we want to change suffering. It is the foundation of the teachings. The foundation of all spiritual effort, spiritual accomplishment, spiritual achievement, is in ethics. The reason for it is quite simple and logical: When you observe a conscious and cognizant ethic in your life, you stop creating karma. It is that simple. In other words, you stop creating harmful results or consequences that disturb your mind. The basic result of applying ethics from moment to moment in your life is that your mind starts to become focused, and you are less distracted. Ethics create a psychological environment within which you are more mindful, more aware of yourself, because you realize that if you do not watch your mind, then pride, lust, envy, anxiety will take over.
This effort to watch the mind, to stop wrong thinking, wrong feeling, wrong action, creates an environment in which concentration becomes easy. Yet, if you do not practice ethics, then our psychological environment only gets worse. If you are persisting in your bad behaviors—psychologically primarily, but also physically—than your environment will never be conducive to concentration, and therefore never to wisdom, and so meditation will always remain elusive to you. This is why we always start with ethical discipline: to struggle against those elements in the mind that produce a distracted mind, an uneasy mind, a mind that suffers. It is through ethics that we accomplish this.
"Right now, only this internal struggle with the afflictions is important. If you do not struggle with the afflictions, you will not achieve a pure ethical discipline, in which case, you will not attain the concentration and wisdom that, respectively, suppress and uproot the afflictions. Hence, as the Buddha said, you will have to wander continually through cyclic existence. Therefore, as I explained before, once you have identified the afflictions, reflected on their faults and on the benefits of separating from them, and planted the spies of mindfulness and vigilance, you must repeatedly fend off whatever affliction raises its head. Further, you must see any affliction as an enemy and attack it as soon as it arises in your mind. Otherwise, if you acquiesce when it first appears, and then nurture it with improper thoughts, you will have no way to defeat it, and it will conquer you in the end." - Neu-sur-ba
The basis of this work is a profound vigilance over our own mind: a continual mindfulness of what we are doing, feeling, and thinking, to ensure that how we act, how we think, how we feel is congruent with our goal. This is very important.
As an instructor, in my experience—even though it is quite limited—this is what I try to encourage in students. My emphasis is not so much to begin learning about a lot of practices, but to learn to watch your mind, because from this kind of vigilance everything spiritual will come naturally. In the beginning, do not worry too much about all the technical details; before anything else, learn to watch your mind. Establish this foundation. With that foundation, the rest will come, yet without that foundation, no spiritual development will ever come.
- training in ethical discipline makes a distracted mind undistracted.
- training in concentration balances an unbalanced mind.
- training in wisdom liberates an unliberated mind.
In this tradition, we emphasize three factors:
Typically we talk about death as the death of the ego, the death of those afflictions. We talk about birth as the birth of the soul, creation. Sacrifice is to give of ourselves to help other people. Yet these three factors are not just beautiful ideals, and they are not simple concepts; rather, they are conscious action that we have to perform in ourselves, and all three factors are incorporated in all three trainings. Every aspect of religion—true religion—requires these three factors.
As beginners, we are trying to receive the training on ethics, the first training, thus the factor of death means to stop harmful action.
As beginners, we cannot yet understand how to eliminate an ego. We all have this question "How do we really eliminate an ego, and how do we know we have eliminated an ego?" If you go around and ask students, you might have a hard time finding someone who can confirm they have eliminated an ego and can tell you how it happened; do you know why? Because it is hard to do, and because most people skip learning real ethics, so we rarely find a person who can tell you in detail how they eliminated an ego from step one to the end. It is also because, as beginners, we are all still deeply asleep.
In this stage, we are working with what Samael Aun Weor called the stage of discovery.
Just like with meditation, students tend to jump to the end, "Ok, the steps are discovery, comprehension and elimination; so, exactly how do I eliminate an ego right now?" They do not ask how to discover the ego, they do not ask how to comprehend the ego, but only how to eliminate it. We want to skip to the end. But, the reality is that you cannot skip steps. Death arrives naturally when the values of a given object are exhausted. Thus an ego will die naturally when it has no fuel. If you stop feeding the tiger, it will die. If you want to know how to kill your lust, stop feeding it. In order to know how to do that, you need to know how you feed it. You will never know that by reading a book or asking advice from others. You will only see your pride when you see yourself, when you study your mind and when you study your behavior. The first training is ethics.
We do practice meditation in this stage of ethics; this is what we have been talking about in recent weeks: analytical meditation, retrospection. Whenever you have a few minutes, lay down, reflect on your day, review the events that you have seen in yourself, both outside and inside. Analyze your behavior, your thoughts and feelings. This is extremely important. I know it is not full of technical details that your intellect can really indulge in, because this technique not technical, it is simple. Simply review the events in your daily life.
"If we review the experiences of the day just past and analyze its happenings, we discover a minute amount of wisdom gained, and from that experience we should learn what not to do tomorrow. This should make us more alert to avoid the same mistakes in the future, and it is this process of observation which will build up a stronger foundation for our character, and a finer expression will result. We must get out of the herd and become ourselves, and learn not to be destructive to our fellows.
"What a wonderful change comes over the student when he begins to analyze the happenings of each day, seeking truth and right conduct towards his fellows! It is said that when this happens the lords of nature stoop down and lift one up and, in time the Yogi discovers that wherever he is placed there is a lesson to be learned and an experience to be gained." —M, Lord God of Truth Within
When we apply the factor of death, we are stopping harmful action. Why? Because we are starting to understand something about karma: cause and effect. "This anger that I have in my mind only produces suffering; let me stop that." This is a fundamental training that we have to give ourselves. We have to train our mind.
When we read the "three trainings," it would be easy to think that these are three training that I will give to you, but that is not the case: they are three trainings that you have to give yourself. In the first training of ethics, you train your mind. In the second training, concentration, you train your mind to concentrate. In the the third, you train yourself in wisdom. No one else can give you this. No group, book or teacher can give you spiritual development.
In the process of training in ethics, we start here with death; you first have to see in yourself what is suffering. Once you see it, you have to transform it into something that produces happiness. This is why I was emphasizing in other lectures that in order to go into the higher levels of the teachings (Mahayana and Tantrayana), we need the foundational level of Shravakayana / Sutrayana, which teaches us that we need to comprehend death and karma. We need to see that this envy in my mind produces suffering for myself, but for others as well, and then when you feel the suffering and you see it and you comprehend that, the sincere wish arises, "Let me exchange this envy for altruism, for happiness for others. Instead of suffering with envy and making others suffer because of how my envy wants me to behave, let me be happy for others, and content with what I have." Instead of feeling that the wish to have what she has, or that clothing, that better life, or another country to live in, when we see envy we say "No, that is envy, a cause of suffering, a wrong view." We take hold of our mind and say, "What would be the right approach, how do I apply the factor of birth? What would be the virtue here that my consciousness, that my Being would really want to express?" By denying the desire of the ego, we activate death. By opening the heart to virtue, we activate birth. When envy is transmuted into happiness for others, we are truly happy for that other person, for what she has. If a friend won the lottery, instead of wishing we won, we say "Wow, I'm so glad they won. They need that!" It is a wonderful feeling when a genuine virtue blooms in the heart, and perfumes our mind and actions. All of this is a sacrifice: we sacrifice our selfish interest in order to love others. So you see, all three factors are at work there.
We have to be very strict with ourselves. Apply the factor of death to kill, to cancel, to eliminate the causes of suffering that emerge in us from moment to moment, and exchange them, transform them into birth, the causes of happiness. Instead of being proud of ourselves, be humble. Instead of indulging the lust in our mind, adopt chastity. None of these become possible as long as we ignore the causes of suffering.
The third factor is charity: not to do these things only for ourselves, but to benefit other people. If you are a parent, start there. As a parent you have a natural strong love for your children, and this can be a strong impulse or motivation to apply these factors in relation with your child. If you have a spouse or you are caring for a parent, someone that you love, apply this and start learning it there. Then, little by little, you can extend it to include other people that you may not feel as strongly about.
When you apply this to someone you really love, it can teach you a lot, to really start to think not only from your own point of view, but to also think from another person's point of view. What do they need? What do they see? How do they suffer and how do I make them suffer?
The entire basic of ethics—let it be very clearly understood—is not just to do what instructors say, it is not just to do what God says: it is to do what is right for others, it is to act from love. What is the most compassionate, loving, beautiful thing you can do from moment to moment? It is never going to be for yourself. We are always thinking for ourselves: "It would be so compassionate and loving if I bought myself this new laptop." No, it would be for more compassionate and loving for you to utilize that thousand or two thousand dollars for something more fruitful to other people, for something that can benefit others, instead of thinking about ourselves all the time.
In the previous lecture we explained to you the ten non-virtuous actions that are explained in Buddhism:
- sexual misconduct
- divisive speech
- offensive speech
- senseless speech
- harmful intent
- wrong views
These are actions through which we create karma. All of these actions that the Buddha described are not egos, they are ways of behavior. So offensive speech, malice, or hostility is not an ego in itself, it is an action produced by a psychological element. We need to see the action in order to discover the element that produces that action.
This is a place where a lot of students get confused, because we give lectures repeatedly talking about envy, pride, and lust, but then the students go out in their daily now thinking, "I am watching for ego, for anger." We have all these expressions of hostility, not realizing that these are expressions of anger. We do not see the behaviors in our physical lives or our dream lives, and thus we cannot see the ego that is producing them. We have to study ourselves more deeply.
In this tradition we talk a lot about egos or aggregates, and every religion has different ways of presenting these psychological elements. In Christianity, we hear about the seven deadly sins. In Buddhism, we hear about the six afflictions. What is important for us to understand is that each religion is describing the same thing from a slightly different point of view. All of them are valid. If you, in your heart, have a natural affinity to Christianity, then use that perspective to help you. If you have a natural affinity to Buddhism, then use that to help you; use that as your guide. They are equally valid. The same is true of Islam, Zoroastrianism, Taoism—in their own ways, they all describe psychological elements that create suffering. It is as if a group of saints or prophets from different religions were all in a room, in a circle around an elephant, and each one describes the elephant according to their point of view and in their own language; all of them would be slightly different, but describe the same creature. The same is true of our mind. What matters is not to memorize the list, or debate about which list is better, it is to go to the elephant, and get to know it. The elephant is your mind. All of the models work; all of the outlines of ego work. The same is true of the practices of meditation: there are different ways to analyze the practice of meditation, and they all work, if you apply them, if you use them.
Buddhism describes six afflictions. The first three are ignorance, craving and aversion, which appear in many forms in us. The first one, the most important, is ignorance.
Ignorance is symbolized in the very center of the wheel of Samsara (Bhavachakra). There are three animals depicted there: a pig, a rooster (or bird), and a snake. They represent ignorance, craving and aversion, which are also translated as ignorance, hatred / anger, and gluttony / lust.
Ignorance is the first of these six afflictions. This word ignorance does not mean in the way that a lot of Westerners use it now, which means to be stupid. The real meaning of ignorance is "to ignore," even willingly. You see, in that word ignorance is GNO from Gnosis, knowledge. When we ignore, we lack knowledge. Ignorance is a lack of knowing.
Gnostic instructors are trying to teach Gnosis, but the Gnosis that we are trying to teach is something we cannot teach. Gnosis can never be imparted in a discourse, or in a book, because real knowledge is something you experience in your consciousness. Likewise, real ignorance is ignorance in your consciousness.
In Buddhism, the affliction of ignorance is a state of not knowing the truth about oneself. It is to fundamentally ignore the true nature of your consciousness, to lack knowledge of That, to not know your Being, to not know who you truly are, and why you are alive. That is ignorance. It has nothing to do with book study, or learning your alphabet, or learning languages, or getting a phd. That is not the type of ignorance that is being described here. It is the ignorance of the fundamental facts of existence. All of us suffer from this ignorance, because all of us are here, and suffer. That is the meaning of ignorance: a lack of self-knowledge.
The antidote to ignorance is to learn the truth. We start by studying intellectually, learning through our mind, through our intellect, about the concepts of religion, how nature functions, what the consciousness is, and what it means. But you won't get knowledge of reality until you experience it. Memorizing, studying books, is only study of the map. You have to follow the steps of the map, and experience reality, in order to dispel ignorance.
The second affliction described in Buddhism is hostility (anger, aversion). In the first affliction, we suffer from ignorance, and perhaps the most significant sign of that ignorance is the way we fundamentally, wrongly grasp at a sense of "I." Hostility is the anger that emerges when that "I" is contradicted.
The fundamental sign of ignorance is a lack of knowledge of oneself, and because we lack knowledge, we grasp onto a sense of self that is false. The first part that we grasp on to is our personality, which we acquired only in this lifetime. The personality that we have now is impermanent, it only is from this life. In our previous existences we had different personalities. We lived in different cultures, different religions, different times.
So, we have this fundamental wrong view, that grasps at this sense of self, and when that sense of self is contradicted, we experience hostility. For example, if someone calls you a name, says you are a fool, especially if it is someone that you hold dear, or someone that you respect, the pain that you feel is immense. What generally emerges out of that pain is hostility. It may not go outwards, we may not express it, but we may feel angry, upset; that is hostility. Hostility is rooted in the fundamental ignorance of our true nature. This is why Samael Aun Weor emphasized repeatedly that if you give no value to the words of the accuser, then the words cannot hurt you. As an example, when you are a parent and your child says, "I hate you, daddy!" or, "You're a jerk", you laugh—it's a child, right? (Ok, not all the time; some parents get mad.) But, as an example. Or if a very sick person, or a very afflicted person, like a crazy person on the street starts yelling obscenities at you, generally, you can just brush it off and not be affected by it, because you know the person is suffering. If you are a nurse or a doctor, you deal with this a lot; people vent their anger and hostility at you, but you know they are just sick and they do not really mean it. That same capacity to respond patiently—but at a far greater level—emerges when you know more about your true nature. This is how the great saints and prophets were able to take so much abuse from humanity, and not react. Even on the cross, when they were abusing Jesus, he said, "Father, forgive them, they do not know what they are doing." He was not angry, he had no hostility; he knew himself, and he knew them.
So, hostility is, generally speaking, anger, malice that emerges from this fundamental wrong view. It also relates to attachments. We become angry and hostile when we cannot get what we want or when something is taken from us that we want. This is due to grasping, craving. We also get angry when things happen that we do not want to have happen, or trying to avoid something and it happens.
In all of these examples, you see these three creatures in the center of the wheel of Samsara: ignorance, craving, and aversion. We are always craving something that is illusion, we are always trying to avoid something that is illusion, and in the middle of that, we are ignoring the true nature of how things function.
If we had real knowledge of how laws function in the universe, we would not grasp at things out of desire, nor would we avoid things that are unavoidable. We would have acceptance, we would have peace. If we are trying to work on this defect and apply the factor of death to our anger or hostility, the antidote is to cultivate patience. So, when things happen in life that make us angry or upset, instead of getting more angry and frustrated, we have to cultivate patience.
"Father, give us courage to change what must be altered, serenity to accept what cannot be helped, and the insight to know the one from the other."
You see, that comes from remembering God. In the book, The Major Mysteries, Samael Aun Weor says,
"The initiate places all his longings into the hands of his Innermost."
For me, that statement has changed my life, those few little words. Because, now, when I feel disappointment or frustration, or a craving for something and I feel that frustration of trying to change a situation in my life, for example, when I am sick or having trouble with a person or economics, my traditional habit was to get more and more frustrated and upset, which creates stress, anxiety, and anger, and I become short-tempered with people, and make everyone around me miserable, because of my own misery. But now, I remember that line that Samael Aun Weor wrote, and then I pray to my Being, "You know what I need, and I accept what you give me." From that, there is great serenity, great acceptance. It helps me a lot to deal with my pride and hostility. So, cultivating patience is the antidote.
The third affliction in Buddhism is attachment (craving, lust). Attachment can be towards anything. Truly this is a place where we can see how very creative our ego can be, because it can get attached to the most profound and the most ridiculous things. We become attached to our image, to how people see us, to how they talk about us. We become attached to objects, to people, to places, to ideas, to politics. We become attached to everything we see, everything we think, everything we feel, because we do not comprehend them.
Attachment is rooted in ignorance. We do not realize the true nature of a given thing, we forget karma, we forget our Being, we forget impermanence, we become attached and thus we suffer. We crave so much to get something—a situation, a spouse—we get it, and then we suffer. Then we crave to keep it—a spouse or a child is a profound example. First we were craving to have it, and then when we get it, we are craving to keep it, but the child grows up. The spouse ages, gets sick, dies. Everything is impermanent, but we ignore that.
Craving / attachment produces enormous suffering. If we had knowledge, if we did not have ignorance, then our knowledge would remind us: this is all impermanent anyway.
In the case of relationships with those we love, knowledge gives us power over attachment. With real knowledge (gnosis), you know from experience that relationships with child and spouse are not merely of this life, they go far beyond. When you have real knowledge, then you have knowledge of death, and then you have no fear of death. You have no craving or attachment to this body, to this life. You know the body will die. There is freedom in that knowledge, there is serenity. You also know your spouse will die; there is freedom in that knowledge. Because, you know you will always love them, you will always have them, you will always see them, whether in this body or out of this body. The fears we have, the anxieties we have, the attachments we have are rooted in fundamental ignorance. We ignore the truth, we are terrified of death, because we do not know what happens with death, or afterward. We have a lot of ignorance.
Let me tell you: there is no need to be afraid of death, you have already died millions of times. Millions of times. Why be afraid of that? It is like being afraid of going to sleep and waking up, it is the same thing. When you die, it is like going to sleep. There is only a little difference, the cord that connects the consciousness to the body is cut, and you move on to take another body. What you have to fear is suffering, and the odd thing is, we are creating suffering everyday and we do not fear that. We do not fear the consequences of the anger, the hostility, the craving that we are cultivating and indulging in everyday, from moment to moment; that is a fundamental ignorance. We are creating suffering that we will inevitably will deal with later. Do not fear death; rather, fear the results of your action, not just physical action, but action in your mind. Fear the consequences of what you do, and do what is right. That way, you do not need to have fear.
This attachment, craving, is one of these three creatures in the center of the wheel of Samsara, because it is attachment that spins the wheel. Ignorance provides the foundation or ground upon which that wheel can spin, because we ignore our true nature, we forget karma, we forget impermanence, we ignore dependent origination and these fundamental laws of matter and energy. The conditions are created so that wheel of suffering can spin.
The wheel of suffering basically means cause and effect that repeats. It is a cycle. We experience it every day. We wake up in the morning, we begin to go through our day, and we repeat ourselves. The vast majority of things we think and feel, we have thought and felt before. The only difference is, those things tend to get a little heavier, a little more dense. If you are an older person, you know the truth of this. As you get older, the mind gets more rigid, more stuck in its ways, stubborn. When you are young, the mind is very elastic, flexible. But, as you get older, it gets more and more stuck. That wheel spins on that basis of ignorance, ignoring the nature of the wheel itself, and our true nature. But, also because craving, running after things that are illusions, make it spin. Our attachment towards social status, because we ignore that we will die and that we cannot take anything with us, we work so very hard, everyday to save money, to get money, to get status, to get fame, for what? At any given moment, on any given day, death will come, and all of that will have been wasted. And often is. The lawyers take it, the government takes it, ungrateful children take it. What is the point? You see how hard we work, for what? To scratch out a living, and then die. What is all our time spent on, and why? It is this attachment that spins the wheel. Attached to having a family, always chasing that. And in the end, are they really grateful, do they really benefit? Are they free of suffering? How many parents get to later age and their children forget them, abandon them? Put them in homes where they do not have to be dealt with. Move them out of the house because they are irritating. Hundreds of thousands of old people are dealing with that right now. They spent their whole lives working so hard for their families, only to be stuck in a home and abandoned. It is very common. This is not an isolated incident, it is a social institution. We cause that, and it is because of attachment and ignorance.
We have to find these factors in ourselves, what are we attached to? What are we chasing after? What are we spending all our time and energy on? These are profound questions.
We have a given amount of time and energy during the week, what do we spend it on? What will be the results of that expenditure? Look at your life as a series of values, numbers. You start with 100 percent. Divide that percentage by how you spend your time. Take out 50% because you spend that sleeping, in bed. So, half your life is gone with sleep. Then divide the rest of it; each person is a little different, but a huge percentage is spent dealing with work to get money to take care of ourselves and our family. Another huge percentage is spent cooking, getting food, and eating. Then, what about the rest? Most of it is driving, being sick in bed, worrying about money, family, taking care of our house, taking care of our responsibilities, and watching television or surfing the internet. Then, we might have a little leftover percentage, we may have half a percent (0.5%) to study a little spirituality, maybe do a little spiritual practice every once in a while.
Now take all of those percentages and convert them into factors for multiplication, and determine which will have the greatest result. Where will the strongest consequences be? If everything in your life was reduced to numbers, a mathematical equation, and you just boiled it down to get the sum, what actions will give the highest result, the most force to impel your future? Clearly, wherever you invested the most energy will determine your future. If you spent 30% of your life driven by fear or attachment, then that will produce a powerful consequence. Only you can answer that equation, and only you can change it. Since we are asleep, the result of the equation is determined by our afflictions. To change it for the better, we have to awaken and change our behavior through ethics.
The antidote to attachment is acceptance. It is to realize the nature of the truth, which is impermanence, karma. It is to transform the way you see the object of attachment. To meditate, to analyze, the impermanence of it, the cause and effect of it, and to remember God, remember your Being. In these ways, you can transform that attachment, so it does not afflict you like it did before.
The fourth affliction is pride.
Tsong Khapa said,
"Pride is the chief obstacle to spiritual development."
Quickly defined, pride is to have an inflated or false view of yourself. We usually think of pride as somebody with a puffed out chest who is always at the front of the group trying to get attention, thinking they are a big shot, better than others. Yes, this is pride, but it is not the only form of pride. The person who rejects the group, who thinks they are better than them, also suffers from pride. The person who says, "You see how humble I am?" That is pride. Or, "I am worse than all of you"—that is pride. Shame is the opposite polarity of the one who struts around like a rooster, yet both are pride. The one who slinks into the corners is also suffering from pride.
Every psychological element is a polarity. In relation to the seven deadly sins, we tend to think of greed as people who hoard money. But, properly stated, greed is really a kind of wastefulness. So, the ones who waste money suffer the same defect, but in it's opposite face. They waste resources. Instead of being a miser and hoarding it, they are a spendthrift, they are wasteful. They spend money without thinking about the consequences. Greed applies to any resource, not just money. All of us have this defect in different ways; in some areas, we hoard resources, and in others, we waste them.
Laziness is one of the seven deadly sins. We always think laziness relates only to someone lying on a couch watching tv all day long, who does not work or do anything. Yes, that is laziness physically, but really, the defect of laziness relates to laziness of the consciousness: someone who pays no attention to themselves, consciously. That refers all of us: we are asleep. A person could be extremely active physically, always running from event to event, thinking, "I am so busy, I have got to go here and there, I have got a schedule and I cannot talk to you now," and we think, "Wow, they are really diligent, not lazy at all." No! They are completely lazy, 100% asleep, because their consciousness is asleep. This is the most popular way to live life now, do you see that? It is not the one we put billboards up about—that is, going to the beach, and just being retired and living on a boat, or in a hammock. No, now the one that everybody celebrates and admires nowadays is the one that is so super busy that they have no time for you, no time for anything. We admire that; we think, "Wow, they are really on top of it. They are doing a lot, they are really going somewhere." No, they are asleep. You know the person that has got two phone calls going at the same time, and they are writing an email and they have got people coming in waiting for a meeting, that type of situation? This is everywhere. It is not diligence, it is laziness. They have no awareness at all of what they are doing. No consciousness. That is laziness. Multitasking is laziness of consciousness. It is hyperactivity of the ego. Laziness is a polarity. On one side is the person who does nothing, and on the other is the person who is hyperactive. Both have their consciousness asleep.
We were talking about the affliction of pride. There is an antidote to pride. When you observe pride in yourself, when you discover pride in yourself, remember death. Remember, even if you are a great spiritual aspirant and you are having all kinds of experiences in heaven, and you are zooming like a rocket to God in your Path, remember: even Jesus died. Even Buddha died. Even Krishna died. Even Moses died. You will die. What have you to be so proud of? Remember illness, remember aging, remember death. These are a great antidote to pride. And, remember your Being. The reality is, we are just specks of dust on the mirror of the universe.
For instance: when a person feels proud because of his social position, or his money, such pride, which exists within him, has as its basis ignorance. If, however, this person realizes that his social status is made up of mere mental matter (a series of impressions which have reached his mind) and he then analyzes the value of this mental matter, he comes to realize that such a position exists only in his mind in the form of impressions. Those impressions, which money and social status produce, are nothing but the external impressions of the mind. Thus, by simply comprehending that they are only impressions of the mind, a transformation of the same impressions occurs. Then, pride, by itself, declines, collapses, and humility is born within us in a natural way. - Samael Aun Weor, The Revolution of the Dialectic
The fifth affliction is doubt. Doubt is very subtle. This applies to having doubt about our Being, about God. We all may have enough of a spiritual longing to try to answer the riddle in ourselves, who or what is God? Who or what is That? But, surrounding that impulse, that urgency, is an enormous cloud of doubt. Doubt is a chief affliction. I think Westerners are usually surprised to hear that doubt, in Buddhism, is put up there the way we put up pride and lust and greed. This is because doubt can take you out of the path, very easily. Doubt does not just mean an intellectual doubt, or the thought of doubt. Doubt is in our actions. We may proclaim to have great faith in God, or great faith in the teachings, we may say, "There is no doubt that cause and effect is real, and that the Dharma is real, and that Gnosis is the real deal and I have my Being, and there is no doubt about Samael Aun Weor," etc. We can proclaim that, and we can even be a big shot instructor, but the proof that doubt as an affliction exists within us, is in our very actions, because we persist in behaving poorly: we still have anger, we still have pride, and when we have those elements in our mind and we allow them a sliver of room to exist in our mindstream—for example, we feel a little resentment for someone, and we allow ourselves to feel that resentment. Or, we feel a little envy for someone, and we allow that to be there. This proves unquestionably that the affliction of doubt is alive in us, because in our actions, we still do not realize cause and effect. We still do not realize that anger is going to produce suffering, and it binds us to the wheel of Samsara, to suffering. So, doubt is not simple.
Doubt is not dispelled by proclaiming faith, by raising our hands to God and saying, "I believe, and now I am saved." This does not dispel doubt. Doubt is dispelled when our every action is in accordance with the Law. That shows that doubt is gone.
The sixth is wrong views. This includes a wide variety of concepts, theories, and behaviors related with religion. Primarily, wrong views are related with the eightfold path, and the first step of that path, which is right view. Right view is a form of cognizant perception that sees the nature of the truth. In other words, it is a way of being conscious of oneself, spontaneously, intuitively, without thought, that sees the truth, that sees reality. That is right view. True right view is the full embodiment of wisdom, pranja. Until we get there, we have a lot of wrong views.
Wrong views include the other afflictions. We have wrong views of ignorance, of hostility, of attachment, of pride, of doubt—these are all wrong views. But, other wrong views are wrong views we have about religion, about life, about ways of behaving.
A very strong and difficult wrong view is the belief that, "If I just adopt this new religion, or this way of behaving, I will be liberated." Everyone in the world suffers from this. They hear about the Catholic religion and say, "If I believe in Jesus and I become a Catholic, then I am going to go to Heaven, I am saved." That is wrong view; no one is saved by belief, they are saved by action. We are proved by our works, by the quality of mind that we have. The same is true in Buddhism. People say, "If I believe in this and I become a student of this Rinpoche, and begin to follow this teacher, or become a disciple of this school, then I am on my to liberation, I will become an Arhat." This is a wrong view. The Gnostics suffer this also, thinking, "If I belong to this group, then I am on the express train to God. If I belong to this group or follow this teacher, and if I do this or that practice, then I will be saved." This is wrong view.
Spiritual practice does not save us from suffering and hell. Your quality of mind does. The quality of your soul, your ethics. There are groups out there that teach, "If you do this certain mediation practice, or these mantras 100,000 times, or a million times, or 3 or 4 hours a day, there is no doubt that you will reach liberation." This is all wrong view. It is fundamentally wrong. It has total incongruence with karma: cause and effect. The repetition of a mantra can open a door to experience Nirvana; yes, you can see Nirvana. Different practices can help you to experience a type of awakening; you may see God. But no spiritual practice can liberate you. This is a mistake that many yogis have fallen into. Many great teachers have fallen into this error, and teach how to repeat what they experienced, so you can experience the same thing they did. I am talking about people that you all know about, but I do not want to name any names. There are a lot of them that state, "If you do this practice, everyday, seriously, for such time, you will experience God." Yes, it is true, you can, but you will not be liberated from suffering, because suffering will continue as long as all these faults exist in your mind.
If instead of working on your ethics and changing your psychology, you spend all your time trying to experience something spiritual, what do you think the end result will be? Well, you might have an experience or two, but you will still be bound to suffering, and might have made your situation worse, because you converted your spiritual pursuit into another source of craving (selfish desire); do you realize that? Craving produces suffering. It is very important that you properly manage your spiritual inquietude and your longing to know God: do not let it become a self-centered desire. Do not let it become a craving. Do not let spiritual experiences become your focus, and do not let the lack of them become doubt.
You see, these afflictions are extremely powerful. We suffer because we have them. And, we stop suffering when we end them. So, we need to apply the antidotes, from moment to moment, from day to day, from event to event. We have to learn how to transform our actions.
Tantrayana is Transformation
In these lectures up until now, we have been talking about the foundational level of the path—Shravakayana or Sutrayana teachings—to remind you they are concerned with ethics, karma, impermanence, death. Working at this level, we apply those teachings to our experience from moment to moment. So, when we are back in our daily life, after this lecture, when you do not have to act like a good Gnostic, and you are back in your normal life and you are trying to act like everybody else in life, you have to learn to apply these techniques. When you observe fear in your mind, when you feel in your heart a feeling of superiority to someone else, do not wait, fight that immediately, transform it. Remember your Being, and look at that element in yourself and say, "Do I really want this?" When you catch yourself experiencing lust, either as a imagination or through your eyes, or through any sense, remember yourself, look at that element, and analyze it, "What will this element produce?" Be very scientific. "If I let this element use my energy, what will be the effect? What will be the consequence"? Analyse it, do not just avoid it, do not just run away from it. Analyze it in that instant. "If I let this lust process in me and use it's energy in me, what will be the result of it? What will be the consequence? What will happen? Furthermore, how can I transform it? If I do not want those consequences, then how do I get those consequences that I do want? How do I transform that?"
- Mercurian Laziness into Diligence
- Lunar Avarice into Altruism
- Venusian Lust into Chastity
- Solar Pride into Faith, Humbleness
- Martian Anger into Love
- Jupiterian Envy into Philanthropy, Happiness for Others
- Saturnian Gluttony into Temperance
So, let us take an example of avarice or altruism. We work really hard in our lives, we all do. Maybe not physically, but intellectually and emotionally, we expend a great deal of energy, heading towards some goal that we have, whatever that goal happens to be. We need to analyze that goal, and determine if our actions are really congruent with the result we want to achieve. Moreover, we have to do it in the moment. Let us say, for example, we have worked hard at our job, 40, 50, 60, 70 hours a week, for years, trying to gather some savings and we want to do good with it. So, we are walking down the street, and we see a homeless person, and we feel compassion for them, and want to help them. This is a beautiful longing. Most of us would, without really thinking about it much, give them a little money. But, we haven't analyzed the consequences of that action. You see, we would think, "I'm being compassionate, I'm doing good work, I'm doing a good deed." But, are you really? You have to measure it, and be sincere. What if that person is an alcoholic? What if that homeless person is a drug dealer, or a drug addict? What are they going to use the money for? It would be better for you in that instance, if they are asking for money for food, to say "I will not give you money, but I will buy you a meal. Let's go to this place over here and I'll buy you a meal, I'll feed you, or I'll take you to the soup kitchen, they'll feed you." But, you know what they will all say? I know because I've done this; they say, "No no no, I need the money for the bus." "Okay, I'll buy you a bus ticket." So they say, "No no no, I have to get it myself, I can't get it until tomorrow..." And they will give you all kinds of excuses, because they are lying. They are like us, really good liars, because we all are; we are all experts at lying. You have to be very cautious, even when you think you are doing good. Are you really doing good?
Let me give you another example. Let us say you were going to give that person $10, what would they do with it? They might go buy alcohol or drugs, something. Something to hurt themselves, or to hurt someone else. What if you gave that $10 dollars to a charity? Think about the consequences of that action. What if you gave that $10 to a student who really needed it for a book? What if you gave it to someone who was sick and needed medicine? What if you gave it to someone who really needed Gnosis, or the Dharma? Compare the results of all these actions, and look at the karma. If I perform this action, this is likely to happen. If I perform action B, this is likely to happen, and then you choose. What is the most effective way for me to reach my goal? Some think this is a selfish way of thinking, and at a certain level it is, but is necessary: all action is reciprocal. Whatever we do affects others and ourselves. We need to benefit both.
In the Shravakayana level which we are talking about, the beginning, the concern is generally first with ourselves. We have to change our mind, change ourselves. And so, most schools at this level are not really too concerned with other people. They may talk about compassion and love, but the focus is generally first, on changing ourselves, and helping ourselves to become better. To stabilize the mind. This is important, good, and necessary. But, there is a higher way. There is a superior way, and it is called Mahayana (Greater Path).
In the Mahayana example, we would apply this example story, and in that instant of saying, "Am I going to give him my $10?" A person training at the Sutrayana level would think, "How is that going to affect me? If he uses the money to do harm I will gain karma." And this is important: we need to think that way. But, the person training in the second stage, Mahayana, has to think, "How is this action going to affect him?" Now, we think we're doing good, but are we really? And if we question it, we will say, "Really this will probably be bad for him, because he will persist in his habit, his addiction." This is where we start to think about the effects of our actions on other people. This is the entrance into Mahayana.
The Gnostic teaching goes way beyond Mahayana. It is founded on Sutrayana, enlivened by Mahayana, but fulfilled as Tantrayana, the third level. At this level, to fully transform the event, you have to take yourself out of it. Most of us have not trained ourselves enough to work in that way. As the example, a Tantrayana level student would immediately see, "This is going to hurt me if I give this addict the $10, it is going to hurt him if I give him that $10, but if I take that $10 and I give it to my Master, to my teacher. Or, if I give it to a great Lama, or somebody who's really doing a lot to help humanity, the impact is magnified beyond calculation." Far beyond calculation. That is a very Mahayana, or even Tantrayana way of thinking. A Sutrayana person who was watching this might think that the Tantrayana level person lacks compassion, because he gave nothing to the person!
We have to apply a rigorous analysis to everything we do. How we think, how we act, what we do. Not only how it affects us, and the person we are dealing with, but everybody else in society. Tantrayana is about taking our Sutrayana training (ethics and karma) to serve others (Mahayana) by transforming the energy of every situation through superior knowledge (prajna: Christ Wisdom: bodhichitta).
We have a job in life, we fulfill a role in society. 100% or 99.997% of the time, we only think about our job in relation with ourselves: how much we suffer, how much we hate it, how much we drag our feet, how much we are abused, how much we are in pain. It is all about me, it is all about "I": pride, ignorance. The first step would be, if you really want to transform that 40-80 hours a week you spend of your energy at work, instead of thinking about yourself all the time, think about your coworkers, or the client that you are serving. Transform that job! Think, "How am I serving others? Am I really doing a good job? Not just from what my boss says, so that I get recognition, but from what the person I am serving says. Am I really serving them? Is my job a spiritual practice?" That is a Mahayana approach, and it is hard, because we have too much pride, attachment, etc. Let me promise you that, because it is hard. Our ignorance, our craving, our pride, our doubt, our wrongs views, and our hostility are all very strong, especially at work, because we expend an enormous amount of energy at our jobs.
So, then we need to look at this. "Why do I have the job I have? To benefit whom?" If you are picking between two jobs, how do you pick? Let us says you have two offers, you are one of those rare people nowadays who has two offers for a job [laughter]. How do you pick? Well, most of us would say, "Oh, the one that has the most money, of course. Easy." No! If you are practicing Sutrayana, you are going to look at how the karma will affect you. If you are practicing Mahayana, you are going to look at how that job affects other people. "Is that a good company? Is the job good, does it really contribute to other people? Not to me, because I'm going to work hard either way, to others? Does it contribute to society? Does it provide something of benefit?"
Now, I am not telling all of you to go out and change your jobs. I am not saying that; what I am suggesting is to learn to transform your way of thinking. You see, the Sutrayana level teachings are very good and helpful, but limited—that is, you develop ethics and the beginning of understanding about karma and how it affects you. The real power of spirituality, when it as founded in an ethical discipline (Sutrayana), only emerges when your way of thinking is concern about the wellbeing of other people (Mahayana). And, when you start to think that way, your religious life will be 100% transformed. Think about it. It is logical.
If you are a parent, and you have two kids, and the one child is always just doing for themselves—they do not help in the house, they do not help anybody, they are only worried about getting for themselves. They are always coming to you saying, "Mom, I want this, I want that." But, the other child is always helping, always cleaning, always helping the others. Which one are you going to reward? Which one is going to be more valued? Which one is going to be more loved? Which one will have a better life? The answer is obvious. Yet, none of us live that way. We live like the spoiled child, because we always go to God saying, "God, I want this, I want that!" We do not do anything to clean our psychological house. We do not do anything to help others. We are always just trying to feed and help ourselves, to help our attachment, to feed our pride, to express our hostility. We have a parent, but that parent, our Innermost, is not like a terrestrial parent. The Innermost is far beyond terrestrial psychology. Our Innermost respects the Law, works with cause and effect. If we do, too, we will receive the effects that we deserve. If we want spiritual experiences in meditation, if we want wisdom, if we want spiritual development, we need to establish a profound practice of ethical discipline. From that, everything else comes.
Questions and Answers
Audience: You're going about your day, recognizing thoughts in yourself and identifying what that is, and finding your way of combating that. What techniques do you use?
Instructor: The way that we learn to learn to fight or battle against the afflictions is a very intuitive process, because it is a cognizant or conscious process. It is not intellectual. I have seen and read many different intellectual descriptions, and outlines and structures that people try to memorize. The reality is, you just need to establish the first step: mindfulness. You need to be aware of what you are doing at all times. That is just to be mindful from moment to moment of what you are doing. This is the basis for meditation, and the basis for any spiritual experience. Ethics is summarized in mindfulness. You can also call it vigilance. It is to be like a soldier who is watching for the enemy to arrive. We have to that degree of attentiveness over our psychology, because we do have an enemy, but the enemy is inside. The enemy is our own mind. From that attentiveness, the rest unfolds naturally, because once you become aware of an element or defect in yourself, then intuitively you learn how to battle them. How to combat them. There is no simple answer to this, and that is because the afflictions, the egos in us, are so radically diverse. There is no one antidote that will work in every case.
Samael Aun Weor described it as a process of psychological judo. He explained that what we know of as Judo in the physical world is simply the shadow of technique that was originally taught to monks in order to work on their mind. We all admire Judo, because it is a beautiful art, but really, it comes from the psychological art. And, the basis of that technique is that you use your opponents energy against him. So, we do the same thing psychologically. You see, in physical Judo, you learn, when someone attacks you, you take the energy that is directed at you and you redirect it back at your opponent. In that sense, even a very weak person, or a child, or an older person who does not have much energy, can fight a much stronger opponent. This is definitely the case with us and our mind. We are David and we are fighting Goliath, a huge giant.
First, we become aware of the element. Whatever that is, whether is lust, or pride or envy. We have to see that. That awareness alone begins to redirect that energy, provided we sustain the awareness. Do not make the mistake of," Okay, I see that pride now" and then we go off and get distracted again, or we start intellectualizing about that element. Those are mistakes. You have to remain continually vigilant. Those elements arise, they might sustain themselves for a while, but they will pass. You have to remain cognizant, watchful of yourself throughout the process, and then later, could be immediately after, or later when you have time to reflect, you replay that event in your imagination, and analyze it with these tools: karma, impermanence, remembering the Being, looking at the cause and effect. These are the basic tools in the beginning. You can also use the Law of Opposites.
This is a cause for some confusion, I think, with some students, but the Master Samael taught what is called the Jewels of the Yellow Dragon, and these are related techniques to the psychological judo, where you take the opposites and you work with them. So, if you feel lust for a person, then the way you can apply the antidote is to imagine, "Well, this person that is so beautiful now, is really just a walking corpse, in reality. I would not feel lust for them if they were dead. They are going to die, so why should I feel lust for them? Moreover, this person that I feel lust for is carrying around inside of that little, thin layer of skin, all kinds of things that I would never feel lust for: blood, mucus, phlegm and all kinds of filthy things, so why would I feel lust for them?" Or, "why would I feel lust for this person, when really, they are just like my sister, or my mother, or my brother or my father, who I would not feel lust for, so why should I feel lust for this person?" So you see, you use these polarities to teach the mind, to discipline your mind, to say, "No mind, I am not going to let you use my energy that way, I am going to be conscious of my energy." So, there are many techniques that you can apply, but all of them are rooted in cognizance, watchfulness.
Instructor: There are many examples you can study about the polarities the ego, but they are going to be individual in each person, so what I would recommend is that you start to look at yourself.
Do not just label these elements in your mind. When you see something in yourself, you can feel if it is wrong. If you are really paying attention and sincere, you can feel it, you will know, because you have a conscience. You see, you have to listen to the conscience, it is that element of your consciousness that can tell the difference between it's right and wrong. That is what matters. It doesn't matter if you say, "Oh okay, I see this thing inside myself, what is that? Is that anger, or is that pride? I'm not sure, maybe I'll call my instructor? Maybe he'll know." No no no, this is not the right way to do it. The way to approach it is to say, "Why is this wrong? Why?" If you just put a label on it, you will end up lazy, and I will tell you frankly, that I have watched this with hundreds of people. Hundreds. People will see an element of lust in themselves and think, "Oh yeah, that is lust, I see it." And that is all they do, they just put a label on it, but the lust is still processing in themselves and they do not comprehend why that is harmful to them or other people. They do not analyze. Do not just put a label, analyze. And let me give you an example of why.
Let us say, for example, that you feel angry. It would be easy to say, "Okay, that is my ego of anger, so now I'm going to meditate on my ego of anger." But, what is that going to really get you? What is is better is to do this: "Why am I angry? Why? Was it because my spouse said I was an idiot for making that decision, and my pride was hurt?" Okay, so now we are not talking about just anger, we are talking about pride. But, if I just leave the labels, I won't go into the depths of that either. So, "why was my pride hurt? Because I want to be a big shot? Because I want everyone to admire and respect me? Because I want my spouse to treat me a certain way? Why, because I have self-esteem? Is it that I have fear that she will leave me to go with someone else?"
You see, all of these elements are interconnected. No psychological element works alone. When you have identified an element in yourself, let me give you a word of warning: they never act alone. Never. No ego is by itself. They always have their buddies, always. Egos work in groups. So, when you see anger, that anger is being fed by something else—pride, attachment, lust, envy, craving, aversion—and that in turn is being fed by something else. So, you might put name tags on your egos, but labels will not help you understand what they are doing, or why they are wrong. You have to analyze them, and get at the roots. Who is feeding who? How are these functioning in your mind? How are these different elements manipulating your behaviors?
It is very sophisticated; your mind is extremely complex. That is why the intellect cannot resolve it. We study with the intellect in the beginning to learn about these teachings, to learn the structures of our soul and the structures of the universe and something in general about the mind, but to really get in there and change the mind, you cannot do it with the mind. You cannot do it with intellect or labels. The only way to change it is with the consciousness, which is intuitive. The consciousness does not need to memorize that pride has a, b, c, d, e, etc examples of how pride can act. The consciousness just says, "Oh yeah, that is pride. I can taste, I sense it, I can feel it." That is cognizant, intuitive. And then it can say, "I feel that this pride is somehow related to that lust." Or "I can feel that this pride is somehow related to that aversion." So, only your heart, your intuition, can navigate those complex paths and reveal them to you—only intuitively.
The only one who can outsmart your ego is your Innermost. Think on that. If you have been in suffering in the cycle of existence for however many uncountable numbers of lifetimes, do you really think that you can unravel it? You are the one who made all the problems, right? We created our own suffering. We are in this mistake, in this problem, in this life, because of our own actions, and we have to initiate the process of changing it, but the only one who can lead us out, is the one who is not trapped in it! Remember Ariadne's thread? When Theseus is going to descend into the labyrinth (the mind) to kill the minotaur (the ego), the only way he can navigate it, and make sure he gets in and out, is because his Divine Mother gives him a thread of gold that he uses to keep his path, so that he wont get confused. That thread of gold is the consciousness in continuity: continual self-awareness, observance, mindfulness. That is the thread. That gold is your energy, transmuted, purified, used consciously. You can use that to navigate to get through the labyrinth of your mind, in order to get to the heart and kill the beast.
Audience: In the scriptures of the Bible, a term "revealing of the mind" is written... [Inaudible]
Instructor: About the Mental Body, does the Mental Body have an impact on ethics? Absolutely, there is no question about that. To create a Solar Mental Body initiates a profound change in the psychology of an initiate. Firstly, because in order to reach the level of creating a Solar Mental Body, you must have first created a Solar Astral Body. As Samael Aun Weor in his book, "The Seven Words", the only way you can create a Solar Astral Body is if you have broken all of your commitments to the Black Lodge. You see, our ego exists, it has power and energy, because of cause and effect. Because we have, in our mind, impurities, defects, errors, vices, and those all belong in the realm of Klipoth, Hell, what we call the Black Lodge. It is our sub-consciousnes, un-consciousness, infra-consciousness. To create the Solar Astral body requires that we break contracts with the Black Lodge, cause and effect, karma. We have to break ties, we have to make a commitment, a very serious commitment, to our Innermost. Only in that way, can we then go on, later, to create the Solar Mental Body. So, in other words, what I am saying is, before you can have Mental Body, you need an Astral Body, and to have an Astral Body, you need strong ethics. Once you have those strong ethics established, then your Astral Body can be made, completed, and then you can go on to create the Mental Body. These two in combination give an incredible facility in going deeper into the ego. They are a great aid, because they are vessels that belong to God. They are superior vehicles, or superior aspects of mind. The definitive characteristic that they provide is a profound intuition. They are related with the Abstract Mind, with the kind of understanding that you can acquire, because those bodies act as mirrors that reflect the contents of any given phenomena. So, someone who meditates on their ego, who doesn't have those bodies, cannot see as much. Someone who has those bodies, can see more.
The other part of that question was what?
Instructor: The scripture James talks about the "renewal", and also in other places in the Gospels, but renewing the mind is a concept that is not unique to Christianity, it's also present in Buddhism and Hinduism. And from my understanding, the basis of that concept is that, the term "mind" there, is not the same way in which I am using it. Mind, in this context, would be more akin to consciousness. So, for example, in Buddhism, when they're talking about mind, they're normally talking about consciousness. So, if you read a Buddhist scripture, or a Hindu scripture, you have to be careful about the translation and how they're using the terms. When we say, renewing the mind, yes, we need to renew the mind. Well, the mind relates to many Sephirah, Buddhi, Binah, Tiphereth, Netzach, Hod, all of them have relations with the mind, and how the mind functions. Renewing that means, cleansing it through ethics.
Instructor: The question is about the polarizations of the ego; so you're aware of the virtue, and learning to practice that virtue. Yes, I agree there is some value in that, in the same way a child learns to write the alphabet by studying the letters, and writing them over and over. You gain a certain facility for what those letters are, and how they work. So, I agree, and that is why we read scripture. We read scriptures and stories of Masters and Saints in order to see how virtue functions, and what real virtue is. But, it is not enough. If you want to speak the language of the Spirit, you have to be cognizant of it, not merely repeat it. So, it is good to study the scriptures, to study how the different religions present defects or afflictions and upright action. We need to know those things. But, you cannot "practice" them, you have to live them, you have to be them. When you say "practice" them, it is as if you are implying that you will superimpose over yourself a model or template, as if to say, "I shouldn't wear this red shirt of anger, I should put on a white shirt of patience." Well, this is a fine intention, but it does not change what is inside the shirt. It sounds subtle, maybe, but the difference is in what is in your heart, what you are doing from your heart and mind. Not merely trying to imitate another behavior, but trying to sincerely do what you know and feel in your heart is right. You see the difference? You cannot learn virtues through imitation, you learn them through action.
Instructor: Yes, this is a good example. There are many groups that try to help addicts for example, and they teach addicts to adopt new behaviors through imitation. So, they say "do not go to bars, do not go here and there, do not go with these friends and avoid these types of environments." This is good advice, and it is important; we need that. As a Gnostic you especially need to not to put yourself in an environment where these harmful influences will cause you to return to those behaviors. However, the behavior emerges from inside of you, not outside. If you only modify your external behavior, you have not dealt with the source of suffering, which is inside of you. That is why those elements will resurge again later, stronger, because they have been processing in the submerged aspects of the mind. This is why we see Gnostics, monks, nuns, priests, all over the world who go into a religion, adopt that religion, believe everything, and begin to act like everyone in that religion, but they suppress, they bury and avoid all of those elements in themselves, they do not deal with their minds, and later they break, they snap, and those elements come out even stronger; they drink secretly, they have secret sexual pursuits, etc. It is very sad, we cannot afford to make that mistake.
The Buddha said something very interesting, and I'll end with this:
Someone came to the Buddha asking questions about infractions. He asked about how one makes an infraction of an affliction, such as we are not supposed to act on pride, we are not supposed to act on fear, etc, etc, but isn't death worse? The Buddha said, "If you die, it is wonderful, because you will just be born again; there is no problem with death. But, if you perform a wrong action, it is horrible, because it affects you not only in this life, but in your future lives."
So, wrong action is worse that death. Death is natural, normal, all of us will die.
This is why Joan of Arc said something that I admire very much:
"I would sooner die than do anything that I know is wrong."
Strong words. She lived by it. We should do the same.