This is a transcription of the audio lecture Meditation without Exertion 05 Analysis originally given live on Gnostic Radio, which you can download for free.
As we have outlined for you in the previous lectures, meditation is an exact science that is founded on a very strict logic. In other words, to learn how to meditate requires that you understand the science, the steps, and the practical aspects. Meditation is not a process of beliefs or assumptions. It is something very exact. To learn how to meditate you have to study and you have to practice. Most of all, you need to develop the ability and the capacity to question yourself, question your process, and analyze your procedures. This is the most effective way to make quick progress in your practice of meditation.
The most important concept that has to become a practical reality in yourself in order to meditate successfully is to understand what your consciousness is, to know, recognize, and work with your own consciousness. If this escapes you, and you are not clear about this practically in yourself, meditation will always be elusive. It will be something you do not understand. Meditation itself is a function of consciousness. It is to work with consciousness.
We all use this word “consciousness,” we discuss it, we debate about it, but the theory or the intellectual idea is meaningless if we do not have a practical grasp in our daily, moment to moment life of what our consciousness is and how it functions.
In Gnosis, we call the consciousness “essence.” This is because it is the elixir or the synthesis of being. It is the suchness of a being. It is the capacity of being sentient, of having perception: to perceive or apprehend. By this we do not mean merely with physical senses or sense organs, since consciousness is not limited by physical matter. The consciousness is a function that is beyond matter. That is why when we dream we can have consciousness outside of the body. When we die we can have consciousness outside of the body. That consciousness is what we work with in meditation. This is why in the lectures leading up until today we have rigorously analyzed practical techniques to work with consciousness: to recognize it, to work with it, and to use it. This is what sets up the fundamental basis in which meditation can blossom.
In Buddhism, the essence has a number of different names; a common one is Buddhadhatu. In Tibetan Buddhism, particularly in the scriptures from Maitreya, you may also encounter the term Tathagatagarbha. These terms are synonymous with each other. They mean “Buddha nature” or “the embryo of a Buddha.” This is an important concept to grasp. What it explains to us that we have within us the seed of a Buddha. Thus, we need to know what a Buddha is.
The word Buddha is a Sanskrit term. It is most commonly translated in English to “an awakened one.” Then we understand that there is not one Buddha, although in the common language we tend to think that way. We tend to think of one Buddha in reference to the man named Shakyamuni. The reality is that any truly awakened being is a Buddha. Jesus is a great Buddha. Moses, Krishna, Quetzalcoatl, even Mohammed and many other great masters and great prophets became Buddhas, because they awakened their consciousness. Within us, we have that same capacity. We have Buddhadhatu, the seed or the embryo of the Buddha. In order to create that, for that Buddha to emerge, for that awakened being to emerge within us, we need to work with this Essence, this Buddha nature, and that is the consciousness itself.
When we talk about awakening, we are talking about awakening new levels of perception. Consciousness is that perception. The awakening is of new forms of seeing, insight, understanding, wisdom, and knowledge. Some traditions call it omniscience, omnipotence. Truly, a Buddha has that. That is why we have so many stories of religious prophets and avatars that have great powers, great wisdom, and great insight. That comes from the awakened consciousness, Buddhadhatu, that has become Buddha. We begin in any religion by working with consciousness, trying to discriminate and understand what is that.
That beginning, that recognition, begins with conscience, that part of us that senses right from wrong, that natural ethic which is intuitive and felt in the heart. The conscience in us is quite weak. It is quite small, hard to hear and distinguish, because the mind is so loud and so strong. Therefore, we discuss, analyze, study the very first of the three trainings: ethics, ethical discipline, renunciation.
The Three Trainings
- Renunciation / Ethics. Facilitates arising of meditation.
- Meditation / Calm Abiding. Facilitates emergence of wisdom.
- Wisdom / Insight / Comprehension. Totally eliminates delusions.
Ethical Discipline and Renunciation
In the introductory level in any religion, we are taught how to behave. We learn how to sense what is right to do, and avoid and stop doing what is wrong. The purpose of learning that is not to imitate the behaviors of someone else, it is instead to sense and know in our heart what is right, to know it not from imitation or memorization of some code, but to know it in our heart because we know it is true. That is conscience; that is real ethical discipline, and that is renunciation.
Real renunciation is spontaneous natural truth in the heart. We tend to think of renunciation as something painful, like it must be painful to renounce material goods and live as a monk or nun, or renounce sex and be a priest. Or renounce our family and live in a monastery or cave. This is not what we are talking about. Real renunciation is to renounce wrong action, not just physically, but psychologically. It is to renounce doing what you know is wrong. When you truly adopt that attitude, consciously, it is liberating. When truly in your heart you stop doing things that you should not do, this is not bondage on you, this is liberation. You free yourself from wrong action and its consequences, which are suffering. You free yourself from creating harmful actions. You liberate yourself from the burden of desire, fear, pride, that was driving you. This is a basis of liberation. We all talk about liberation, enlightenment, yoga, and union with God this is where it begins. It begins now, with our ethics. It begins now, with the moment-to-moment awareness that is processing in our heart and in our mind, and discriminating between conscious ethic and ego. No one can tell you the difference. No one can give you a big complicated structure of our ego and say “you should not do these things” and then give you a complicated structure to do, “you should do these things.” Those actions and behaviors may not correspond directly to your own psychology. Only you can resolve what is right and what is wrong. That is because each one of us has our own karma, our own psychology, our own weaknesses, and our own strengths. We have to resolve this problem for ourselves.
In this level of teaching that we have been describing, which is the introductory level, the whole purpose is to come to recognize the consciousness in oneself and to work with karma: cause and effect. It is also to recognize the inevitability of death and the pervasiveness of impermanence. These are the fundamental characteristics of this level of instruction. They are presented in this structural form in Buddhism to understand religions and how to go ahead in our own spiritual work. These factors and this way of looking at a spiritual path is at the level of Sutrayana or Shravakayana teachings. These are introductory or fundamental level instruction. Some people call it Hinayana, but we do not like to use that word (it is derogatory).
This beginning level of instruction is absolutely essential. In fact, despite of our inflated estimations of ourselves, most of us are not ready to graduate from it and move on to higher teachings. This is proven not by our intellectual understanding of the teaching, not by being able to recite scriptures or discuss these structures at great length. What defines our ability and our readiness to move on is our comprehension of them in our actions from moment to moment. If we are truly, spontaneously, living a life of ethical discipline, truly controlling our mind, truly developing a natural intuitive comprehension of the effects of our actions, and truly have the longing to be a better person and stop behaving in harmful ways, then we have established a basis of renunciation. We start to experience it. Another hallmark of this readiness of transition is a natural spontaneous longing to stop the cycle of suffering, even if it is only for ourselves. Rarely do we see this, even amongst people who study religion and who are very devoted to a spiritual life. Rarely do we see a natural, intuitive, spontaneous longing to stop the cycle of suffering. Many spiritual people love to feel spiritual, and love to be involved in their groups, and following their teacher, or going to retreats and temples, but continue with their same behaviors, not really changing, but just imitating new behaviors. In their heart and in their mind, they continue to be the same person. They continue with their same pride, with their same lust, their same envy.
When we really comprehend karma, and we see it working in lives — as an example, when we see that our anger makes us suffer and we feel remorse for that, and moreover we see our anger makes other people suffer and we feel remorse for that, and we sincerely want to stop anger, that is a good sign. That is a sign of renunciation: we naturally want to stop harmful action. No one is telling us to do that. On our own we have the longing to renounce that anger, to stop that action and to change that, not merely to cover it up and hide from it, which is usually what we do. We usually justify ourselves and say “that guy did that to me, did you see what he did, and he did this and this and this. He is really bad.” This is not renunciation. This is justifying, blaming, and criticizing. None of that will change anything. It will only make things worse.
Real ethical renunciation has a hallmark, which is self-criticism. It is sincerity: to honestly see our own errors, instead of blaming others, attacking, always justifying oneself. Real renunciation is marked by this statement: “This is happening because this is my karma.” This point of view is very different than blaming everyone else.
When you have real ethical discipline — real renunciation — emerging in yourself, you no longer complain. You no longer blame others or justify yourself. You no longer excuse yourself. You no longer seek someone to pin it on, like your spouse, boss, friends, or the people in the other car, or the people on the other side of the street, or your neighbors. You do not blame them anymore. You then begin to see that “this is happening because of my karma. This situation has arisen because I have latent tendencies and predispositions in my mind stream that are allowing it to happen. It is happening because I deserve it. It is happening because I have pride, anger, and fear, and I need to change.” This is a sign of real renunciation, and this is very rare.
Furthermore, this level of ethical discipline leads one naturally to something new. It is the recognition that, “If I continue the way I am, I will never escape suffering.” How many of us comprehend that? It is a great truth.
If we really want liberation from suffering, we have the opportunity right now. We are all hearing the teaching, and we are all receiving the instructions. We all have the opportunity. We have a physical body. We have a mind that is relatively stable (at least stable enough to understand something of the knowledge, of the teaching.) This is our moment. Are we taking advantage of it? Truly? Today, everyday, harnessing that opportunity to use it? If we are, it is because we comprehend impermanence and death to some degree. We know that if we do not do it now, it will not happen. In real renunciation, there is an urgency that is present.
The synthesis of all that I am explaining is that we need to grasp something essential: we are suffering because of our mind, because of delusions inside of us, not because of anything outside. We suffer because of ourselves. The only way to change that is if we do it. No one can do it for us.
The way to change it is to eliminate the delusions. Those delusions have many names: anger, pride, envy, gluttony, avarice, and laziness. All those different qualities, whichever way we look at them: the ten non-virtuous actions, seven deadly sins, the egos, the aggregates. There are many ways to approach looking at the delusions, but the most fundamental delusion, the one that supports all of them is ignorance.
Ignorance is not a lack of knowledge; it is a lack of attention. To ignore is to not pay attention. If I say “I am going to ignore you,” that means, “I am not going to pay attention to you.” This is what we mean by ignorance. This ignorance is of truth. All of us are willingly ignoring the truth about ourselves, because we grasp at a “self,” at a concept that is not real. Our personality, name, background, history, memories, desires, longings, resentment, anger, remorse, lust, envy, and jealousy. All of these are a sense of self that we grasp at, and are a form of ignorance, because none of them are the self; they are illusions. We willingly ignore that truth, because our self-created illusory self entices our desires. Because we ignore that truth, we also ignore that grasping for illusions creates karma: cause and effect. The effect of that is our suffering. We are suffering as we are because of the cycle of illusions and desires that we created psychologically. The synthesis then is that to eliminate suffering, we have to eliminate the delusion. That delusion is only eliminated through knowledge, wisdom, and through understanding.
This is why we study the three trainings. We need a profound wisdom, which is the third training. In Sanskrit, it is called Prajna. It is also called Bodhi. We have all heard that the Buddha awakened his consciousness at the foot of the Bodhi tree. The word Bodhi and Buddha come from the same root. It means “awake.” A Buddha awakens his consciousness through wisdom. Bodhi is also translated as “wisdom.” To acquire that wisdom requires that we have a stable mind capable of seeing past illusions, appearances, to see the reality. If our mind, consciousness, is not stable or serene, we cannot perceive the truth. To reach wisdom, we need to have a stable mind. This is why we need concentration, equanimity, mental stability, Pratyahara, dhyana — many names for this state of consciousness.
Meditation balances an unbalanced mind. Our mind is very unbalanced. From one moment to the next, we change directions completely. We can completely contradict ourselves from one minute to the next, inexplicably, because we do not have control over what emerges in our mind. None of us yet have the ability to stop thinking, but we should. A real human being can stop thought. The Buddha demonstrated that. Jesus demonstrated that. Any master can do that. It is natural, normal, but we lost that capacity because our mind is out of balance.
We need concentration to solve that. As we are now, concentration cannot emerge because the mind is so out of balance, and because our ethics are muddied. By performing wrong actions, the mind is filled with negative energy. We are so filled with desire, fear, longing, lust, anger, pride, and anxiety that the mind is chaotic like an ocean in a storm. Such a mind cannot settle or be a smooth mirror to reflect the universe as long as we keep filling it with negative energy.
These three trainings help us.
- Renunciation / Ethics.
- Meditation / Calm Abiding.
- Wisdom / Insight / Comprehension.
With ethics, we stabilize our behaviors and stop performing wrong actions. We produce right actions, resulting in positive effects that give us peace, confidence, calm. Our psychological and spiritual energies then become in harmony with nature.
When that happens we can then concentrate, and our mind starts to settle. When the mind begins to settle, it is a natural mirror in its natural state, which is rigpa. That mind can reflect the truth: Prajna. Then we see, and we know, and then we start to awaken. It is very simple to explain, but it takes a lot of effort to happen.
This process is universal in all religions, even if it is not broken down in these steps. Most religions have lost it now. Nevertheless, this process is the basic structure for any path to liberation from suffering. In every religion, we have always had ethics, prayer, and meditation, and the access to the knowledge of God. What is different among them is when we start to look at the upper levels of the path, and understand that there are real differences in how these factors are applied, depending on the quality of our mind stream.
I apologize, but things are going to get a little more complicated now. Yet, it is important.
These three trainings are taught in synthesis in all religions; the words might be different, but the steps are there. Nevertheless, there are higher levels to these three trainings. The way they are taught and understood is different among the different levels of teaching. These three trainings also outline three levels of instruction.
In Buddhism, the three levels of instruction are called:
In primeval masonry, these were called:
- Fellows / Workers
Now, listen: in each level, the practitioners work with the three trainings at their own level. An apprentice in the first level works with the three trainings at his level. Her work with Ethics, Meditation, and Wisdom correspond to her level. A Master will obviously be working at another level, yet with the same three trainings. Let us look deeper, as well: in each level of instruction, you find the three levels. In the Sutrayana level, there are apprentices, workers, and masters. Yet, a master of the Sutrayana level is far below a master of the Manayana, which is far below a master of the Tantrayana level. Here, we are describing the attainments of the Innermost Master, not terrestrial people. We explain this in order to point out that these structures are multifaceted.
Let us return to the point of this lecture. The first step of the three trainings is renunciation (comprehending karma and death and working with the consciousness). In Buddhist terms, we would call this Sutrayana or Shravakayana level teachings; this is the foundational level instruction, even if it is in a Christian or Islamic tradition. The essential concept remains the same.
The effort to apply ethics and awaken consciousness is primarily concerned with oneself. It is primarily concerned with liberating oneself from ones own suffering. Many spiritual aspirants achieve it. We call them saints, prophets, holy people, angels, Buddhas, Nirvanis, Pratyaka Buddha’s, or Shravakas. You see, to acquire liberation for oneself is not that difficult of a task. This is proven when you awaken consciousness and visit heaven or in any realm of heaven. You will find many beings there, yogis, monks, who learned how to apply ethics and how to concentrate and pray and free themselves from some degree of ego, awakened their consciousness to some degree, and thereby earned a period of repose or rest in heaven. They enter that state and enjoy the bliss of Nirvana. Nirvana means “cessation.” The cessation of suffering. To enter that state is not exceedingly difficult. This is why we hear all the time of sages, yogis, monks or different religious leaders who enter Samadhi and have states of ecstasy, and come back from that state and say “I have reached liberation, you can worship me now.” Many do, but this is not real liberation. The difficulty is when we follow a teaching like that, any yoga or religion that leads to an experiencing of different states, we can also believe that this is liberation, or becoming a Arhat, or a “stream enterer” or whatever term is used. we can believe that is the end of the work, but it is not. This can be proven easily. When we observe those saints, Buddhas, devas, and they become attached to those experiences, they have pride, envy and jealousy of the others at that level. They become attached to the sensations of Nirvana. At death, their essence escapes and rises naturally to the level that they attained in their development, and they remain there for a period of time, according to karma. They sincerely believe that they acquired liberation, because they are experiencing blissful states. This is depending on the precise level or degree of liberation they have acquired. Unfortunately, it is also impermanent. It only sustains itself as long as the karma allows it. Because their mind stream is still afflicted in its depths, in the subconscious, unconscious, and infraconscious levels, that period of repose will end, and that soul will once more have to take birth in some lower realm, and once again try to reach liberation. The reason this happens is simply because of karma. An experience of Nirvana, an experience of Samadhi, is not liberation. In fact, it can be a form of attachment, and a form of suffering.
Similarly, we tend to think at our level, at the humanoid level in this plane, that the greatest ecstasy that we can experience is sexual. It is not. It is not even a fraction of what the consciousness can experience in Nirvana. Let us think about that for a moment. We see humanity is incredibly attached to lust. Humanity fights tooth and nail to defend their lust and to indulge in it. Yet, that experience of sexuality, the orgasm, is extremely brief, and can not be sustained, and moreover, it damages the organism and the brain. That brief experience, as intense is it may be, or as pleasurable as it may be, is not even a fraction of what you can experience in Nirvana. Not even a fraction. Could you imagine how much attachment you could have to an experience in Nirvana? If we already have attachment to sensations physically, what about sensations in the consciousness? The attachment must be incredible. The seduction of it and the temptation of it. When we consider it that way, it makes sense why so many people in working on their path to liberation, stop. They might be able to renounce actions that create pain, but can they renounce actions that produce pleasure? That is not easy, and most do not. The vast majority of souls that enter the path of liberation become diverted at this stage. They enter the spiral path, the path of the pratyeka Buddhas (“solitary awakeners”) and Shravakas (“listeners,” followers). They become attached to pleasurable sensations. They become attached to bliss, Nirvana.
Let me state it to you clearly now: we do not teach that path here. Gnosis is not the path of pratyeka Buddhas or Shravakas. This is not a Nirvanic path. You can reach nirvana through what we teach, but we do not recommend stopping there. What we teach can take you far beyond Nirvana.
What we teach in this tradition is the straight path. It is the middle path. It is the path that renounces pain and pleasure. We teach how to enter the path that goes beyond them, to reach wisdom, prajna, which in Greek is called Christ.
This path is very different. It is not new; it is ancient, and is the oldest path in the universe. It is called the path of the Bodhisattva. Bodhi means wisdom, but it relates with mind and awakening. It is from that root Buddha. It is combined with the Sanskrit term sattva. Sattva is a very deep and rich word. It has many applications, and is very deep and subtle. In this context it means “the essence of.” So a bodhisattva is “the essence of wisdom” or “an essence of awakening.”
A Bodhisattva is a person — a mind stream — who goes beyond pleasure, pain, and self-interest. A Bodhisattva is someone who has comprehended karma at such a degree that they want to help others escape suffering. A Buddha Pratakaya or a Shravaka are types of beings who reach nirvana for themselves. They may have love for others, they may speak of love for others, but their actions reveal their identity. Their actions reveal self-interest, self-protection, self-liberation. This is fine, but this is not the whole path. It is only the antechamber. A Bodhisattva goes beyond that. A great example is Jesus. Every action and every word of his is for concern of others, never himself. Another good example is Padmasambhava, the great Buddha of Tibetan Buddhism. Another is Milarepa. Another is Joan of Arc. These are great Bodhisattvas who act on behalf of others, and give up anything for themselves in order to help others.
The reason that this concept of the bodhisattva is important is because the Sutrayana level of discipline cannot take us all the way to the heights of liberation. It can take us to Nirvana, but that is all. To go beyond that level, you need to comprehend what is beyond that level. What is beyond Nirvana? Christ, Avalokiteshvara, Quetzalcoatl, Quan Yin, There are many names for that light. The light of Bodhi. The light of wisdom, Chokmah. It is compassion, cognizant love. It is a type of virtue and mind stream that is far beyond even a mind of a Buddha. It is a type of mind that is different. In Sanskrit we call that type of mind Bodhichitta.
Now we have talked about a few words that use this term Bodhi. A Bodhisattva is a being, a person. What distinguishes them is their Bodhichitta. Chitta, which is also Sanskrit, means mind. Bodhichitta means “awakening mind, wisdom mind,” but this is not a “thing.” It is not an item. It is not just matter. It is not even just an energy. Bodhichitta is a descriptive term, a quality. We talk about it like it is a thing, it is your mind itself, but different. We all have a mind stream; we call it essence, Buddhadatu, Tathagatagarbha, etc. What is our mind stream characterized by? By ignorance and grasping at a false self. It is also characterized by the conditioning of anger, pride, lust and envy, jealousy, fear, anxiety, many negative states. Even in our best moment, the moments that define our life, the capacity for selfless action is still very limited.
What is a Human Being?
Look seriously at your life. What stage of your life are you in? How much more of life do you have to go? We do not know, right? If you look back at your few decades of your life, what moments would you call out as your defining, best moments, when you did the best you could possibly do with your existence? What characterizes it, what can define such a moment? What qualities are there? Can you even find such a moment? Many people cannot. Many people are just here, not knowing why, not knowing what for, not knowing what to do. We just exist halfway, not even fully alive. A few of us might find a moment or two when we really did something good for a person, but the majority of cases it would be for someone that is a spouse, family, or child, someone we should have done something good for anyway (that is nothing unusual). How often have we done something truly good for someone else, someone we do not know, or even an enemy?
What makes us human? We have to ask ourselves that. We believe we are the best creatures on this planet. Why? Because we make technology, gadgets? Is this what it means to be human? Has that really improved our situation? Has the Internet really improved our situation, or cars or weapons (which is mostly what we make)? Has our addiction to robbing the Earth of its resources improved life? Is there less starvation, poverty, loneliness, and suffering on this planet because of our technology? No. Most measurements say that all of those situations are worse. There is less clean water on this planet then there ever has been. There is more starvation on this planet then there ever has been. There is more slavery on this planet then there ever has been. I am not making these facts up. These are statistically proven. These are facts.
What makes us human? What makes us so great? It is the capacity to do good.
We have the capacity, but do we do it? Having the capacity to do something is not the same thing as doing it. If you have the ability to act but do not, you commit a crime. We are judged by the results of our actions, not by our intentions. Karma does not measure your intentions. It measures what you do, and what you do not do.
What makes us human? It is an important question. Can we really answer it? Is it because we have this type of body? Two arms and two legs. Does that make a human being? Even the apes have those. It cannot be that. Is it having our brain? Even the apes have those, and even a monkey has a brain like ours. Well, let us look at our behavior, does that makes us human? When we look at our life and we see what scientists see, scientists believe that humans are characterized by violence and instinct. Scientists state that our natural predisposition is for violence and competition. Why do they think that? Because that is all they can see. That is not what defines a human, yet it does define an intellectual animal (which is what we actually are). Yet, it is not true to say that the human being is defined by violence and instinct. It is a misconception that scientists have because of the ego.
There is some science now showing that those assumptions are mistaken. Scientists are starting to look at what happens to children: babies naturally have altruism, compassion, and a natural longing to help others, but as they get older it is squashed by the ego, culture, and our personality. So really, we are born altruistic, but we lose touch with it.
What is it that makes us human? Consciousness. The essence is what makes us human. If we look at our behaviors, and look at our society, we do not really see much difference between us and animals, because we behave like animals, addicted to violence, lust, and competition. In fact, in many cases, animals behave better then we do. Animals do not destroy their own habitat. Animals do not destroy their own food and water supply. Animals naturally help each other to survive. We do not. Even an animal can show gratitude. If you feed or care for an animal, even the animal will show you gratitude. When we are fed and clothed, we respond with bitterness and viciousness. Rarely do we have sincere gratitude. An animal can show generosity and altruism. We rarely show them. An animal can protect another animal, even from another species. How often do we do that? We do not even protect each other. We claim to be in love with our spouse, we get married, and we make big vows to protect each other, yet within a short period of time we are at each other’s throats. We claim to love our parents and our children, but our mind is filled with resentment towards them. We hear children, even little kids saying, “I hate my brother, I hate my mother.” Why? Is this human? These are facts of our existence, that we must analyze and understand.
The suffering on this planet is because of the quality of our minds. Thus, mere renunciation is not enough.
Humanity now has had thousands of years of religions teaching ethical discipline, thousands of years of people “renouncing,” and yet we continue to get worse. We think that we are better nowadays, but there is no evidence of that anywhere on this planet. We are the same barbarians that we have always been. Moreover, we are getting worse and worse, because we are justifying ourselves, lying to ourselves, and hiding our crimes beneath a veneer of sanctity. We have a society that is we think is very advanced, but it is just a shell covering a heart of corruption, lies, and greed, at which we can barely look, because we know it is true. We cannot bear the thought of what is really going on with the world.
Mere renunciation is not enough to change this world, or ourselves. Mere ethics is not enough. Thousands of years of learning the Ten Commandments and the many different vows in every religion have not improved our situation, neither as individuals nor as a race. We need something more. We need the next level of instruction. We need to go beyond Sutrayana / Shravakayana instruction. We need a greater vehicle. In Sanskrit it is called the Mahayana level.
Maha means “great.” Yana means “vehicle.” What distinguishes this greater level? One thing: Bodhichitta. No matter what religion you practice, no matter what culture you come from, whether you are a male or a female, a child, or an old person, if you want to go beyond the current state of suffering on this planet, you cannot do it through ethics alone. You need Bodhichitta. This means “awakening mind.” It does not mean simply to “awaken,” because even at the Sutrayana level, the introduction level, you awaken consciousness. Bodhichitta is a different kind of mind stream. It is a completely different from the foundation level. It is not a thing or a noun. It is a state, a quality. Bodhichitta not only means awakening mind, but also can be defined as “cognizant compassion.” Conscious love. It is something beyond the mind that we have now. It is the kind of mind that gives without thought of self. To explain this, let us read from Tsong Khapa. He wrote this scripture called Three Fundamental Paths.
Renunciation though can never bring
The total bliss of matchless Buddhahood
Unless it is bound by the purest wish [bodhichitta]; and so,
The wise seek the high wish [bodhichitta] for enlightenment.
Those swept along four fierce river currents,
Chained up tight in past deeds, hard to undo,
Stuffed in a steel cage of grasping “self,”
Smothered in the patch-black ignorance.
In a limitless round they are born, and in their births
Are tortured by the three sufferings without a break;
Think how your mothers feel, think of what is happening
To them; try to develop this highest wish [bodhichitta]. - Three Principal Paths, Tsong Khapa
This line at the end of the verse that says “Think about how your mothers feel,” is based on a central Mahayana concept, which is that when we comprehend that life is an eternal round of recurrences and repeated existences, and all of us are migrating lifetime after lifetime, and this has been going on for countless ages, at some point every being has been your mother, and every being has been your child, and every being has been your sibling. When you contemplate that, and you consider how much love there is between mother and child (well, should have; maybe in this age it is not this common), truly a mother’s love for a child is unique and distinct, and the child feels that love in a distinct and a unique way; contemplate that, and you realize that all beings have shown you that love, so selfless, only for you, then how can you allow them to suffer? It would be the same as you watching your own mother now suffering in inexplicable pain, and yet you do nothing. This is a profound contemplation that you should not let float in and out of your intellect. Take it in your heart and contemplate it. If you have a troubled relationship with your own mother, then put in that place someone who has given you so much selfless love that you have so much gratitude; think on that person. Reflect on that person. Then consider how many other beings have shown you that same love and compassion. Not only in this lifetime, but in other lifetimes. What have you done to return the gesture? The situation you have now, the life you have now, was made possible by that generosity, by the love that person showed you, whether a parent, a friend, a teacher, a sibling, a spouse; you have this moment, this life, because of that person. Do you not owe it to them to return the gesture?
Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
This is the first and great commandment.
And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. - Matthew 22:36-40
This is pure Mahayana Buddhism, yet in Christianity. This is a teaching of pure Bodhichitta, yet in Christianity. When you examine it, but it is given from a slightly different angle.
The first commandment is to love your Innermost, your inner Buddha, your inner divinity, the star that you came from, which we lost touch with. We do not even have an idea about that. Most of us have not experienced it. When you experience that reality inside of you, that inner Buddha — which is completely different from that self that you think that you are — you learn something emotionally, spiritually, that can never be conveyed. You become a child in the presence of your inner parent. You feel a kind of love that is far beyond terrestrial love, even beyond the love of a parent to a child. The love that exists between your soul and your spirit is eternal. The love of a parent for a child is beautiful and deep, but it is only from one existence over one life. If that love was sustained over many thousand of years, over millions of years, imagine the depth and richness and profundity of that love. That is the love that is between your Essence (Buddhadatu), your soul, and your spirit, your inner Buddha.
When you taste that love and you experience it — and you can and you will if you persist in your efforts to meditate — you will understand why Jesus said that is the first commandment. When we forget that commandment is when we fall into mistakes, and our ethical discipline: when we forget God, when we forget our Innermost. You see, if you remember the presence of your Innermost and of your Divine Mother and Divine Father, and you know that they are here and now with you, how can you allow lust to come into your mind? You cannot even conceive it. How can you allow pride to take hold of your mind when you remember the presence of your Innermost? You cannot. It is inconceivable. That is real renunciation.
Moreover, the teaching that Jesus gave of Bodhichitta is right here. That same love that we feel spiritually, emotionally, inside towards our own Innermost should be felt towards all beings, because all beings have that their Innermost inside of them.
We should reflect on this great teaching from Jesus. When we feel resentment towards another person, who are we resenting? Inside that other person is also a Buddha, an Innermost, something divine. Remember that. When you feel lust for another person, how can you show that in front of the Divine Mother of another person, much less in the presence of your own Divine Mother?
Self-observation and Self-remembering
This is not an intellectual game. This is not just a theory. This is something you have to do with deep awareness of yourself. Consistent, persistent, watchfulness of the mind. We call it self-observation. To observe continually the three brains: intellect, heart, and body. Moreover, that self-observation has to be accompanied with self-remembering. Remembering the real self, your Innermost, your Buddha, that divine spark that gave you life. That divine spark that is perfectly pure, eternal and so unbelievably sacred. Remembering that presence gives you great power. Should I say that again? To remember that presence gives you great power. Not power in the ego, but power in your consciousness.
When you remember your Being, when you put yourself consciously in the state of feeling the presence of God, you stimulate other senses, not just the physical ones. Self-observation and self-remembering are senses. They are not an attitude. They are not platitudes, thoughts, or affirmations that we make. They are senses, a way of perception.
Self-observation is not something you can learn by imitating. You learn it by doing it. When you do it, it awakens senses in you that were latent and asleep. This is what it means “to awaken.” We do not seek to awaken the mind, we do not seek to awaken beliefs. We awaken senses, perception, and consciousness. This is different. That awakening cannot happen by imitating, it cannot happen by any trick or by any force, or by paying anyone, or relying on anyone outside. It happens naturally like anything in nature that it is fed and nourished. It happens gradually.
What is cultivated here is that awakening of consciousness. When we apply the two commandments that Jesus gave, we awaken in a different way. Jesus was a teacher of Mahayana, the greater vehicle. What defines it is this quality of Bodhichitta. He did not just say “remember God.” If he had only said “remember your Being,” that would have been a teaching of Sutrayana: foundation, basic. He said you should love your neighbor as yourself. That is Bodhichitta. That is compassion and love.
Bodhichitta is a very deep topic and complex. It is complex for us, because our mind has a hard time grasping it. Bodhichitta is not simply compassion, and is not simply love. Bodhichitta is far beyond that. It is characterized by two fundamental aspects, which in reality are the same thing. To make it easier for our intellect, we talk about it in two faces.
The first one is compassion, cognizant love, conscious love. This is relatively easy to understand conceptually hard to do practically.
The second aspect is wisdom, Prajna. It is not just what we think of wisdom, such as being able to quote scripture. That is not wisdom. Bodhichitta is a mind that perceives. Prajna, wisdom, the second aspect of Bodhichitta, is the ability to perceive the Absolute, the Reality.
In other words, Bodhichitta is compassion and ultimate perception in one, which is the full and authentic antidote to suffering; it is absolute, divine knowledge, which results in the elimination of ignorance.
Of course, we are talking about fully developed Bodhichitta here, which is possessed only by beings like Jesus. Along the path towards that goal, we develop it little by little. So, we start by developing relative Bodhichitta.
Bodhichitta in its synthesis — whether it is relative Bodhichitta or ultimate Bodhichitta — is conscious love that sees the true nature of phenomena. It does not suffer from the delusion of grasping at the self, but rather it sees simultaneously in one cognitive moment without any artificial structure, conscious love and the emptiness of all things (the void, the Absolute). For our intellect, it is very hard to grasp what that means, but at this point let us just say that it is a way of seeing that is far beyond the way we can see now. It is a type of mind that sees — and understands — things that we do not. We aspire to that insight, so we aspire to see develop relative Bodhichitta. This is Bodhichitta at our level. We are aspiring not only to understand our karma, impermanence, and the inevitability of death, but we are also trying to learn how to be of service to others.
Bodhichitta is defined not as a mental attitude, but as a way of life and a way of action. The Buddhas who accomplished the introductory path enter into Nirvana, enjoy themselves, become enmeshed in that pleasure and do not leave it. In fact, for them, they do not comprehend our suffering anymore, because they do not experience it. In the same way, we cannot comprehend the pleasure they experience, they cannot comprehend our pain. Even those Bodhisattvas that go to the heavenly realms that try to convince those Buddhas to abandon Nirvana and enter the straight path to help other beings, those Buddhas say: “Why? They should just come here and be here with us. You Bodhisattvas are crazy. Come and be here in Nirvana with us.”
Have you ever heard of the tempting gods? Have you ever heard of the wars among the gods, the devas? These wars are described in the Hindu stories, the Greek mysteries, and the myths of many traditions. Wars and conflicts, battles and temptations among the gods exist. The gods, devas, or beings that live in the heavenly realms cannot bear to leave because they are attached. Many people on the planet Earth pray to them daily, thinking that those gods will come down and help them. Thousands of years have gone by and they have not come down. The ones that do come down are bodhisattvas. They are the ones who have renounced Nirvana. They have renounced pain and pleasure to walk the middle path directly to the Absolute, the ultimate level of existence and non-existence. That level can only be reached through that middle path: through compassion and through wisdom. Those are the heights of Buddhahood. They cannot be reached through Nirvana; they can be reached only through renouncing Nirvana.
The state of perfect equanimity exists at the very pinnacle of the Tree of Life. It is that space the gap between the highest Sephiroth and the Absolute. There is a doorway there. No Nirvani Buddha can reach it. It is impossible for them, because they are too saturated with pleasure and bliss. To reach that level is only possible if one has the scales in exact balance. That is: that soul owes nothing and is owed nothing, and has perfect equanimity on every level psychologically. You cannot reach that if you are attached to lust, anger, envy, pride, or even bliss. This path is not easy, and very few enter it, because it is very demanding. In order to help us accomplish it, we have a lot of tools.
Most of the meditation tools that we have all learned in various religions and teachings belong to the foundational level, the Shravakayana level. These would be tools like chanting mantras, prayer, meditation, runic exercises, Yantra yoga, yogic type practices, all types of Bhakti and devotional type yogas, Jnana Yoga, Karma Yoga — all of these forms of spiritual practices belong to the foundational level.
To enter into the Mahayana level, there are specific practices that one encounters. Generally speaking, they are kept secret in traditional religions; they were not taught openly. This is simply because to enter into those levels, you have to be prepared. You have to have that spontaneous renunciation, and that spontaneous recognition that you want to help others, and thus you need more tools to do it. This is when Mahayana is introduced to you, in whatever religion. In the Christian tradition, those tools have been known by figures like Saint Francis or Thomas de Kempis. They both explained and expressed their understanding, also Theresa and St. John, and of course all of the gospels teach the Mahayana persepective. In Buddhism and Hinduism, Mahayana type practices are widespread, especially nowadays you can encounter them fairly easily.
- from the Master Atisha: the seven-point method
- from the Master Shantideva: exchanging self and other
In their synthesis, they are what Samael Aun Weor taught in his synthetic approach to teaching. They are what is taught in the Bhagavad Gita, and what Saint Francis expressed in his prayer.
Let us study some examples:
Seven Branch Prayer
May I be a guard for those who are protectorless
A guide for those who journey on the road;
For those who wish to go across the water,
May I be a boat, a raft, a bridge.
May I be an isle for those who yearn for landfall,
And a lamp for those who long for light;
For those who need a resting place, a bed;
For all who need a servant, may I be a slave.
May I be the wishing jewel, the vase of plenty,
A word of power, and the supreme remedy.
May I be the trees of miracles,
And for every being, the abundant cow.
Like the great earth and the other elements,
Enduring as the sky itself endures,
For the boundless multitude of living beings,
May I be the ground and vessel of their life.
Thus, for every single thing that lives,
In number like the boundless reaches of the sky,
May I be their sustenance and nourishment
Until they pass beyond the bounds of suffering.
- Bodhicharyavatara ("A Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life") by Shantideva
Prayer of Saint Francis
Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.
There are many places where you find this teaching. The essence of it is this: put your self in the place of other people. Not just from time to time, but consciously and continually. In each situation, consciously aware of this: how does the other person feel? You see, we have the habit that we only think of ourselves all of the time. This churning thought stream in our mind is all “I, me, myself.” All of it. This is why Samael Aun Weor said this:
“97% of all human thoughts are harmful and negative.” - The Revolution of the Dialectic
Some of us might be shocked by that. Observe your mind; you will see it is true. Very rarely do we sincerely think of what will benefit another person. Very rare. Most of the time it is all “me, me, me,” singing our psychological song all about “me.” In our mind, we are the central character in a cosmic opera. It is always a great tragedy, and we are always suffering in the hands of others. We feel wronged and betrayed, and no one around us understands us, and we never get what we deserve. This is our song. I am sorry if I am revealing what is secret in your mind, but everyone else around you thinks the same way.
Nobody sees you the way you see yourself, because the way you see yourself is a lie. To really enter the higher path, that has to be stopped. That has to be inverted.
What characterizes a mind stream that has Bodhichitta is this quality: concern for others first. Not for oneself.
I will tell you something even more amazing. When I was talking about what makes us human, when we reflect on our life, we can find very few examples of really doing something truly good for another person without being asked or wanting praise, without wanting feedback or recognition. A bodhisattva lives continually doing good for others. It is not that they do something every once in a while for someone else; their every thought is about how to help, how to solve suffering, how to aid, and how to sacrifice. Do you see disparity between the two types of mind streams? Our mindstream is characterized by “me, myself, and the I.” The Bodhisattva’s mindstream is all about you.
Even when tortured and killed, Jesus only thought, "Forgive them, they know not what they do." He loved even his persecutors. That is the power of Bodhichitta. His hardship and suffering only increased his love for humanity: he transformed everything into love for others. That is why he is the greatest master.
This is why all the great masters of all the great traditions came to this planet: for you. Krishna came to restore the law for you. Jesus came to set a new precedent with the law for you. Samael Aun Weor came for you to give you something so essential and important that he was willing to give his very blood, and he did.
Do you see the difference between their minds and our mind? That is the great challenge that we face. To turn our mind stream into that. It can be done, even in one life, if you start now and work constantly and consistently at turning that mind stream away from the grasping at oneself, and towards the truth that all beings are suffering because of our actions, and life is impermanent, that real love exists and there is a way to reach liberation from suffering through that real love. That is Bodhichitta.
What is amazing about it is that anyone can do it. Anyone. We just have to have the will to do it.
This word Chitta is related to will, to volition. Do we have the will to do it? Right now, our will is trapped in attachment to material things, attachment to sensations, attachment to false sense of self. Our soul is trapped in the ego. Our soul is Bodhi. That soul is a portion of the Sephirah Tiphereth. Tiphereth represents willpower, conscious will. Our conscious will is trapped in the ego: laziness, indifference, apathy, doubt, cynicism. When we cultivate Bodhichitta, we cultivate optimism, hopefulness, conscious love, the virtue of sacrifice, generosity, diligence, and heroic action. We call these Paramitas: conscious attitudes. These are the distinguishing characteristics of Bodhichitta. This is the quality of mind stream that is related with Tiphereth, with our Essence.
If you studied this teaching for a while you have heard about the bodies of the soul: the astral body, mental body, and causal body. In Tibetan Buddhism they have other names. In Christianity they have other names. In Kabbalah they are called different names. These bodies of the soul are important. They are the vessels and vehicles through which light can be directed. They are not Bodhichitta. To create the mental body has nothing to do with the Bodhichitta. Bodhichitta is a mind stream. Neither is the causal body related to Bodhichitta. In fact, you can cultivate Bodhichitta without creating the solar bodies. That means if you are single person working with transmutation, you can create Bodhichitta. Often, the single people who study these teachings get discouraged because they hear about the creation of the bodies and they feel this is important to create the bodies. Yes, it is important, but more important than that is the creation of Bodhichitta. Why? Because the only way anyone can become the Bodhisattva, the Essence of Christ, the incarnation of Christ, is if they have Bodhichitta first. A single person can develop Bodhichitta. Even if you already have your solar bodies, you can start developing it. Yet, you can never become a bodhisattva without Bodhichitta.
Bodhichitta is the environment in which the bodhisattva is formed. It is within that environment of conscious love and comprehension of the Absolute that the Bodhisattva is created. Moreover, even if a bodhisattva has the solar bodies, falls into devolution and into the abyss, and is recycled by nature, and their solar bodies over countless aeons are destroyed, the Bodhichitta is never destroyed. That is astonishing. The Bodhichitta is the very quality of their mind. It is different. That is how important this is.
Bodhichitta becomes a permanent part of the mind stream that pervades every aspect of our psychology and our spirituality. It is that important. That is why every religion emphasizes love: not terrestrial love, but conscious love, supernal love, something beyond the mind. This in its synthesis is the Mahayana ethic. In the lectures up until now we were talking about Sutrayana level, now we are talking about Mahayana ethics.
Here is the point of this lecture: when you work in the manner described, analyzing your mind continually, in all experiences, and exchange your habitual selfish view for the view of compassion and insight (Bodhichitta), meditation becomes truly empowered, effortless, because the consciousness awakens rapidly, easily, filled with its true expression: love for all beings.
To help us in that development, I would like to recommend a practice to you. Most people have a natural affinity towards some particular religion or some particular master. It could be Jesus, Krishna, Buddha, Padmasambhava, Gayatri, Athena, Durga — any god or goddess from any religion that you feel a natural affinity towards. Get a picture that inspires you. It does not have to be big, it does not have to be fancy. You can find thousands of them on the internet. Get one and put it on your altar and everyday look at that picture, and contemplate this concept of Bodhichitta, and pray for that deity to help you to understand it. Close your eyes and visualize that picture, that image, and make it real in your mind. Imagine that deity coming into your heart and mind, becoming you; you become that, so that deity can help you to act with love and compassion in a way a Buddha would, a way a god would. This is how you can start to teach your mind stream, by the intervention of these deities. They will help you. I am talking about truly elevated deities. Do not pick a picture of a saint or someone physical. Pick a founder of a great religion, a very high being, that you know and strongly feel is related with the Christic path, the direct path: Buddha, Krishna, Jesus, Quetzalcoatl, Mary, Avalokiteshvara — all of these deities convey to us this type of teaching if we ask for it and call upon them to help us, particularly if you do this practice, to pray and close your eyes and to visualize this deity helping you.
You can go a step further; if you are having a real problem with something, especially with another person, and you are really struggling with another person, pray and visualize that situation, that problem you are having, and ask for this deity to help you see what is the right way for you to behave. Open your mind to that. Open your consciousness to receive that kind of guidance, and you will. To do that, you have to open your mind; that is not always easy. Especially if you are feeling resentment, or really angry with someone, it is not easy.
Questions and Answers
Audience: Can you say more about Avalokiteshvara?
Instructor: Avalokiteshvara is a Sanskrit name for Christ. Avalokiteshvara is an entity or a depiction of energy. The most common form is a standing deity who has a thousand arms reaching out, and many heads. This is a very deep symbol of the ray of creation, Christ, Christos, compassionate love. Those thousand arms are there because that compassion from God is so strong that he reaches out in accountable number of ways to others. In the Hindu tradition and the Buddhist tradition, this is the same symbol of Christ, whereas in Christianity we talk about Jesus Christ; yet, it is the same symbol. Avalokiteshvara sacrifices to aid beings.
When Avalokiteshvara looked down on humanity and saw how much suffering there was, he felt so much love that a tear sprang out of his eye; that tear became Tara, the Divine Mother. In Tibetan Buddhism, Tara means “star.” She represents that pure compassion that has taken a form, a body that comes down to Earth to help us. Tara is the female aspect of Avalokiteshvara. It is the same entity, the same force. It is Bodhichitta in its perfection: male and female, Tara and Avalokiteshvara.
Tara is very popular in Tibetan Buddhism, which focuses very much on the cultivation of Bodhichitta. It has a deep Mahayana tradition.
Tara relates well with many other symbols in other religions such as Virgin Mary, Sarasvati, Lakshmi, Durga or Athena. These virgin goddesses always represent the love of a mother. They have that symbolism because most people can comprehend how selfless the love of a mother can really be to some degree. Especially someone who has been a parent can understand that. That is what these gods and goddesses represent. That quality in us. It goes beyond the terrestrial love between parent and child. It becomes a kind of love that can embrace all existing beings.
When we think about this, look at the capacity of your own heart. How much love do you have? Most of us rarely experience the full flowering of love in our heart. When we do feel something, it is usually only for one person, or maybe two, and usually it is conflicted and colored with resentment, fears, and anxieties. Generally, it is not very strong or pure, and does not last. It does not sustain itself. It comes and it goes.
The love of a Bodhisattva is represented in Tara and Avalokiteshvara. It is the heart that has the capacity to embrace all living beings with so much love, it is unimaginable. The very purpose of us being alive is to become that. If you really contemplate this, it can turn your whole life around. Instead of life being painful, discouraging, and filled with anxiety and doubt, uncertainty and pain, it can become something purposeful. When you take on the Mahayana teaching, you take on the suffering of others with hope and optimism, knowing in yourself it can be done. If it were not possible, we would not have this teaching. It would have been already over. No bodhisattva would have come and given us this teaching if it were impossible. But it is possible if we do it, and we take it seriously and transform our daily lives.
Audience: When talking about Self-remembrance, do we remember the self with a capital S or the self with the small s?
Instructor: To be in self-remembering means to remember God with a capital S on the Self. It means to generate an awareness to sense the presence of God. It is very hard to put in words because it is not intellectual. The intellect cannot get it. It is something you have to do with the pressure in your consciousness, in your awareness. You have to reach out in your awareness, and feel and sense that. There is something more than this mind. There is something more than this body. There is something more than these surging emotions. What is that something more? Keep that receptive sense active and reach out and sense God. In the beginning, it is not easy, because we lost touch with it. As we sustain that effort, and as you experience more, and meditate more, and work on your ego, it becomes natural. It is actually the normal state of being. Our current state is abnormal. In ancient times, we always felt the presence of God. We did not have to try. It is symbolized in the book of Genesis: Adam and Eve walked and talked with God. They knew God, they saw God, and they talked with God. It was not something abnormal. We should be like that. We are not, because of our mind. When we make the effort to separate consciousness from ego, we make that ego it passive and the consciousness active. In turn that sense recovers and restores itself.
Audience: If you have ethics and a clear mind, one must not have ego, but to not have ego we have to meditate, but to meditate one must have ethics and a clear mind… this seems like a catch twenty-two or an unending loop. Where should one begin? I am assuming that we must attach the problem on all fronts beginning practice with meditation, ethics, concentration and clear mind and ego observation all at the same time. What is truly the best way for a beginner with the mess of the mind problem? Also what is the difference between joking and senseless speech?
Instructor: The synthesis of the question is that it is a bit of a “catch twenty-two” to do these three trainings, because to have wisdom, you need concentration, but to have concentration, you need to have ethics, but to have ethics, you need to have concentration and wisdom. It is true you need all three of them. What this question reveals is that this path is not intellectual. It is not something you can just read a book and read one chapter and you are done. This is something dynamic and alive. These three trainings are reciprocal. These three trainings nourish each other.
We start where we are. The most important aspect that we need to develop first is ethics, renunciation. And yes, your understanding of ethics and renunciation will only go as far as your comprehension of it, which is reached through meditation. Right there are your three trainings.
We cannot postpone comprehending and having wisdom. We cannot postpone meditation. We cannot postpone developing ethics. You have to develop them all at the same time. Yet, they work with a specific way with each other. That is, if you are a beginner, if you are struggling, work on being conscious of yourself. Learn to be cognizant of your mind from moment to moment. Keep working on your awareness. That naturally develops concentration, because it takes concentration to do it. Not only that, it naturally develops wisdom. As you watch yourself, you become aware of how stupid you are, how many mistakes you are making, how many assumptions you are making, how many things you are ignoring in your life and in your mind. That effort to self-observe naturally initiates all three aspects of your three trainings. Start there, but also meditate. Practice concentration in your meditation practice. Also practice developing wisdom. Do the retrospection practice that we have been talking about.
Of course, these three trainings will go nowhere if you are wasting energy: if you are fornicating, sleeping around, drinking alcohol, smoking, destroying your body though all kinds of bad habits, these three trainings will have no result for you because you are filling your mind with all these discursive energies that will destabilize it. For this to succeed, you need to establish the proper conditions, a stable mind, and a persistent effort.
Audience: You mentioned something about the Buddhas or yogis that reach Nirvana do not understand suffering. Is it because they forget or is it because once they reach a certain level they just forget about suffering?
Instructor: The tradition relates that when yogis reach Nirvana and become established there, they do not suffer in the way that they used to, or the way that we do. So, they do not understand that, they forget. It is like in the same way when you change from one life situation to another one, you tend to forget the old way of thinking, or the way you were back then. You do not understand people in that situation, like when you were there. It is like adults and kids. There is always this inability to comprehend each other. It is somewhat similar to that. The difference is that for a Buddha or yogi that has reached that level, they have not reached liberation, and they become deluded by the pleasure and bliss, and that acts as a veil to their own suffering, because even there suffering still persists. It is a different kind; a suffering of being attached to a different kind of self, like being attached to being a Buddha that ultimately does not exist and will ultimately end. All things are impermanent. That state of Buddhahood will end, and they will undergo terrible suffering, and they will descend again and lose that and have to start over. It is a subtle thing for us to grasp, but very dangerous. It is better for us in the beginning to start cultivating a path that goes beyond that. Instead of remaining at the introductory level, go ahead and shoot for the complete path. Otherwise, we waste time.
Instructor: Can you explain the importance of not identifying with finding a spouse and just working with the fundamental basics of the path?
Audience: How not to identify with finding a spouse is a challenge for a single person especially knowing that the path itself requires at certain levels to have a spouse.
No matter what our situation, no matter what our problems, if you really work to comprehend the Sutrayana level, you will come to a single conclusion, which is your situation is determined by you. We are what we are because of our mind. This is the very first line of the Dhammapada. We are what we are because of our mind. Our external circumstances exist because of our internal condition.
This is a hard concept to sink into us, because we have a long habit of thinking otherwise. It takes a long process of contemplation to comprehend this. We are what we are, we experience what we experience, we have what we have, because of what we are, because of how we behaved and actions we performed. Therefore, if we want to change our situation, we have to change our behavior.
Jesus gave a great teaching on this. I mentioned it recently in that chapter on the famous sermon that he gave, when he said: “Why do you worry about what you will eat, what you will wear. Don’t you see that God provides to the flowers and to the birds everything they need? Aren’t you as a human being more precious to God then a flower? Won’t he also provide you with everything you need?” It is undeniable. It is the truth.
If we are single, we are getting what we need. If we are in a couple, we are getting what we need. However, this does not mean that everything we have came from God. Most of what we have came from our wrong actions, our past behaviors, good or bad. Nowadays, most of what we have is from actions that were not right or proper. That is why we suffer.
In the Epistles later on in the New Testament, Paul said “let every man accept what God has given him.” That means if you are single, accept that and take advantage of it. Every situation in life is Karmic, meaning that if we are receiving it, it is to pay what we owe. If you want to change your situation, pay your debt. Do not resist it. Do not run away from it. If you avoid paying your debt, you only accrue more interest. If you get a parking ticket from the city and you avoid it, you only deepen your problems. It is the same with the karmic laws. When you get your karma coming at you and you start complaining and blaming everyone else and avoiding your responsibilities, you only make it worse.
We have to cultivate acceptance. We have to accept our responsibility, and we have to change. This is why we receive our karma. We receive it for our own good.
Do you know who gives you your karma? Do you know who is the one who makes you take it? Your Being. We always think it is our boss, or spouse, the devil. No. It is the devil, but it is Lucifer, who is the shadow of your Innermost; Lucifer does what God rehires (read the book of Job). He is part of that. He is the one who gives you those problems for your own good. This is to tempt you and teach you. That is why we call Lucifer our “psychological trainer.” We need him. He knows our mind all the way to its very bottom. He knows what we can handle, and believe me, he will push you right to your limit. If you learn to accept that and take it like Jesus taking his cross, taking it not just for himself, but for others, you can transform everything. This is the great beauty of this teaching.
The chief quality of the Mahayana teaching is generosity. Not generosity like “let me give you all the money in my wallet” or “let me give you these old things I do not need anymore.” That is usually what we think is generosity. We go clean our garage out and we give it to some charity and we think we are so generous. To give away things we do not need. This is not generosity. That is just a cunning way of getting rid of your garbage.
Real generosity is when you give from your heart what the other person truly needs, no matter the cost to yourself. Real generosity is when a mother gives to the child that last bit of food and does not eat herself. Real generosity is when you spontaneously give to someone else without being asked, without receiving praise, without receiving thanks — in fact you may even be laughed or spit upon. That is generosity. That is Mahayana; that is Bodhichitta. This is the attitude that we have to cultivate.
When we cultivate that attitude, no matter what our problems, no matter what our suffering, we take that and transform it for the good of everyone. When we start having problems at work, and we start having problems with our spouse, instead of blaming them and attacking them we turn it around and we say “I deserve it. This is my karma,” and we show gratitude, even to the executioner. If you read the books of Samael Aun Weor you will remember: “We have to kiss the whip of the one who whips us. We have to kiss the hand of the executioner who comes to kill us. We have to show gratitude for all the unpleasant manifestations of our fellowman.” Who has this capacity? I do not but I am trying. When I have been able to taste it, it is extremely transformative.
When you are able to bring that quality, Bodhichitta, concern for others and not for oneself, it totally transforms the entire situation. If someone is angry with you, attacking you and calling you names, instead of feeling hurt, you realize, “wow they are really suffering. Whether I did something wrong or not it does not matter because they are really suffering.” There is no thought of “me”; it is the thought of the other person. That transforms everything. That transforms the situation, and you are not responding with anger, not responding with criticism, blame, and gossip, but with love and patience, acceptance, and understanding. Could you imagine if some of our politicians had this capacity, how different our world would be? Could you imagine how different our world would be if some of our corporate CEOs had this ability instead of seeking to fatten their own pockets with huge checks? What if they were concerned more about other people and the impact of their company on humanity? Can you imagine? Can you imagine what would happen if our religious leaders truly had Bodhichitta, and thought more about the well being of the people in their parish instead of the public image of their church? Could you imagine what a different world it would be?
We can make that, but you have to do it in yourself first.
Audience: Can you explain how beings who reach liberation and free themselves with not being owed anything, how would someone go beyond karma, is it because they are beyond the causal world, or is karma beyond the causal world as well?
Instructor: The question is about how one goes beyond karma and develops perfect equilibrium. The question is a little bit misformed, because Karma is eternal. You can never go beyond karma. Karma is everywhere and it exists at all levels. Karma is simply cause and effect. There is no such thing as a place without cause and effect. Even the Absolute, that which in itself is beyond concept, beyond form, beyond spirit, nonetheless is the form of cause and effect, but beyond this level. To reach that, you do not go beyond karma, rather you master it. That level is beyond good and bad, yes. It is beyond that duality, but what exists at that level is something that is called the three gunas or trigunas. The gunas are three qualities of existence. It is very subtle and difficult concept to grasp. In synthesis we can say is to go beyond existence one has to be perfectly in balance with the characteristics of existence, these three gunas. When that happens you go through the door through the Absolute. It is exceedingly rare. Jesus did it. Not only did he do it, but also he came back. This is even more rare. In different religions, you hear about the Paramarthasattyas, beings that have the capacity to go that far. These are beings that are Dharmakayas and beyond, who have incarnated Kether and beyond. These are all resurrected Masters, very high. Rarely do you ever hear of a being coming back. Jesus did that. For one reason: for you. To help all beings to reach that same level.