This is a transcription of the audio lecture Meditation without Exertion 01 originally given live on Gnostic Radio, which you can download for free.
Meditation is the esoteric practice of the Gnostics. - Samael Aun Weor
The science and practice of meditation is the essential element that leads the consciousness towards understanding. To become "a Gnostic" means to become a master of meditation. These two are synonymous. You cannot be a Gnostic if you cannot meditate. This is because the word Gnosis means "conscious experience of the truth." Gnosis refers to a kind of experiential understanding or comprehension of the way existence works. Merely having theories, beliefs, or ideas is not Gnosis.
Conscious knowledge of reality cannot be acquired through the five senses. If you want to have conscious knowledge of the laws that manage all existence, you cannot acquire that through your five senses. It is impossible. This is because the realm of the five senses is the lowest, most dense aspect of existence. It is only a fraction of what exists. In fact, it is the sum, or the end; it is the bottom, the mixture, the result. What we see and experience physically is the result of causes that are not physical. The causes are the laws of nature. With our physical senses, we cannot see the laws of nature, only their results. With physical perceptions, we can make inferences or theories about those laws, but with the physical senses we cannot see the laws themselves.
This is important because we live under the jurisdiction of laws that we ignore. Humanity is suffering because of ignorance: a lack of knowledge. In order to solve our most pressing problems, we need to see directly and without any doubt what is causing our problems. That is, we need to see and understand the laws so that we are no longer out of balance with them.
To solve any problem, you have to go to the cause of the problem and modify it. Stated another way and by means of analogy: if you are sick and dying, you cannot cure your illness by treating the symptoms (which is, anyway, what Western medicine often does). When we get a cold, we take a cough suppressant or something to suppress our runny nose. If we feel any pain, such as a headache, we take a pill to suppress the pain; we do not deal with the cause of the pain. Instead, we avoid it. We do not deal with the cause of the illness. We ignore the cause, and want to avoid the cause. This happens when we are sick physically, but it is true also psychologically. We avoid seeing the causes of our psychological illnesses.
To know the causes of any problem, we have to go to where the causes exist. The causes of suffering are not physical. To understand this, we need to understand what we mean by suffering. The Buddha Shakyamuni taught about three fundamental types of suffering.
1. Suffering of suffering: mental and physical pain which is suffered by all beings.
2. Suffering of change: impermanence.
3. Suffering of conditioning: psychophysical aggregates / contaminated actions and delusions.
We usually think of suffering as physical pain, but that is only a fraction of our suffering. Our mental, emotional, and spiritual suffering are far more immense than the physical suffering we endure, and their causes are not physical. Moreover, our physical suffering is rooted in cause and effect that is not strictly physical; they are also, for example, energetic, and the energies of our physical body cannot be seen directly with the physical senses, but can be seen with other senses. These energies are in the fourth dimension (Yesod, the vital plane, related to our chi or vital energy).
The causes of our suffering - whether spiritual, emotional, mental, or physical - cannot be found with our physical senses. They have to be found with psychological senses, with spiritual senses, because that is where those causes exist: in the psyche, in the soul. The way to access the superior senses is through meditation: the esoteric science of the Gnostics. Meditation is the heart science, the heart practice of the one who experiences consciously the truths taught in religions.
Many people believe when they study the works of Samael Aun Weor and the many teachings about Gnosis, that sexual alchemy or transmutation is the heart practice of the Gnostics, yet this is not true. It is the foundational practice, yes, but merely practicing transmutation does not create a Gnostic. Practicing transmutation does create, but it can create either evil or good because transmutation is the science of Gnosis, knowledge, which in Hebrew is Daath, the Tree of Knowledge of Tob (goodness) or Ra (usually translated as "evil" but actually means pollution or impurity). Transmutation creates depending upon how our creative energy is polarized.
Right now, our energy is conditioned by desire, ego. By a vast majority, our consciousness, our psyche, is trapped in desire. We are trapped in grasping at a "self" that is false. Because of that, our energy is polarized negatively (Ra, "evil"). So even if we learn the science of Gnosis (Daath) and transmute our sexual energy, it does not mean that we will become an angel, a Buddha, a master: a Gnostic. It merely means that we are transforming energy according to our current conditioning.
What makes one a Gnostic, a Buddha, a master, is conscious knowledge (Gnosis) of the truth. That is only acquired through awakening consciousness outside of desire (ego), and that is accomplished through meditation. There is no other way to acquire it. You cannot get Gnosis through a book, and you cannot get it through hearing someone talk. You can only get it through yourself, inside. That is why we study this path: so we can practice it ourselves.
Therefore, upon that basis, it is essential for us to become masters of meditation. This is the only way that we can guarantee ourselves the ability to transform and overcome suffering. This is why Samael Aun Weor relentlessly demanded that his students meditate rigorously. He did not say that one should meditate occasionally, or off and on, or just a little bit. He demanded rigorous, consistent, persistent meditation. He emphasized super-efforts. Those super-efforts are not with terrestrial activities, making money, becoming famous, or studying books. They are not with memorization, or modifying our personality so that we look like a Gnostic. The required super-efforts are super-efforts of consciousness: to be attentive, awake, to see oneself as one truly is. Curiously, he also said to not exert oneself:
To experience the Truth is fundamental. It is not by means of exertion that we can experience the Truth. The Truth is not the result; the Truth is not the product of exertion. The Truth comes to us by means of profound comprehension.
We need to exert ourselves in order to work in the Great Work and to transmute our creative energies. We need to exert ourselves to live, to struggle and to tread the path of Integral Revolution, but we do not need to exert ourselves in order to comprehend the Truth. - The Revolution of the Dialectic
This has been a cause for some confusion. On the one hand, he said we have to make super-efforts, and yet at the same time he said one cannot know the truth through exertion. So what does that mean? How do we resolve this apparent contradiction? In reality, there is no contradiction in these two statements. It is a matter of understanding what they mean.
Four Noble Truths
The very first teaching of Buddha Shakyamuni is called "the first turning of the wheel of the Dharma." In that teaching he gave to humanity a tremendous truth, which is the Four Noble Truths. These Four Noble Truths truths underscore and explain everything about the path. By comprehending the nature of the Four Noble Truths -- consciously, not just with the intellect but with your heart -- you can keep yourself on the path. This is essential because our mind wants to take us out. What are those Four Noble Truths?
The first is the truth of suffering. It says in one sutra:
This is the noble truth of suffering: birth is suffering, aging is suffering, illness is suffering, death is suffering; sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief and despair are suffering; union with what is displeasing is suffering; separation from what is pleasing is suffering; not to get what one wants is suffering; in brief, the five aggregates subject to clinging are suffering.
None of us comprehend this truth. This is clearly the case, because we persist in the illusion that we can satisfy our desires. We think, we believe, that we will be happy if we can satisfy our desires. We have desires related with money, sex, food, status, security, and much more. On the superficial level, these desires are related to our personality, and are celebrated by society because of our personality. Remember that our personality is rooted in time and is related to where and how we are raised. For example, we may have grown up in a well-educated family, so to our personality success means to be well-educated, have a good job, a house and a family, to raise children, et cetera. To our personality, that is "success" and "happiness." Yet, on a deeper level, it is the ego that is driving that personality for feed those desires. These mental images of success or happiness are rooted in desires (egos) of pride: those desires want everyone admire us. Those desires want admiration or praise. Those desires are also rooted in envy, because we want what others have. They are also rooted in jealousy, because we want to control our spouse, our children. They are also rooted in fear because we want social, circumstantial, and economic security. In our mind, we have illusions that we pursue in this way: desires (egos) that manipulate our personality based on the delusion of acquiring happiness and avoiding suffering. Because of this delusion, we ignore the truth, thus, suffering is pervasive.
All of the desires that modify our personality push us to live in a way that is not realistic and that is founded in illusion. All of this is swirling around a "self" that does not exist, and that in itself inherently is empty; the self we believe in is a lie. Thus, our life is conditioned by suffering because we live in ignorance of our true nature. We ignore who our Being is. We do not have conscious knowledge of our Innermost. Instead, we are trapped in this self-created illusion of "self," of "I." Thus, the first noble truth is the truth of suffering.
The second noble truth says that suffering is caused by desire. The desire that causes suffering is not merely the desire to eat, to fornicate, to gather wealth, to get revenge, to dominate, etc. The root desire that causes suffering is a desire for self. It is a desire to be in accordance to ones idea. It is a grasping at a self that does not exist. That self is personality (which we see in our surface level characteristics) and it is ego (all of the psychological characteristics behind the personality, such as pride, envy, lust, fear, etc).
That whole mass of aggregates, that conjunction of competing wills, is inherently empty of existence; it is not real. We want our "sense of self" to be real. We desire to feel 'I', 'me', 'myself'. That is the root desire that causes suffering and we ignore this fact. We ignore that the self we grasp at is false. We ignore that the real self is the Being. Thus, our life is full of suffering, and our suffering is caused by desire.
The third noble truth states that there is an antidote to suffering. Once again, we ignore this truth. In our day-to-day life, in our moment-to-moment life, we ignore that there is an antidote to our suffering. Even those who long for spirituality, who long for religion, to unite once again with God, do it through an "I." They create a Gnostic "I," a Buddhist "I," a Christian "I," etc. Everyone creates a self that loves to feel spiritual, that loves to feel a part of a group, that loves to feel saved, special. This "I" is also false. This "I" loves to feel itself as spiritual and good, but it is a lie. It does not see the true nature of the path: that the antidote to suffering is the absence of the "I."
The fourth noble truth explains the path to liberation from suffering. The fourth noble truth explains what the third noble truth posits. While the third noble truth says there is a path out of suffering, a path to liberation, the fourth truth explains it. The fourth truth is the Eightfold Path. It is called eightfold because in Buddhism, that path is described as having eight fundamental characteristics. Those characteristics are:
- harmonious view
- harmonious intention
- harmonious communication
- harmonious action
- harmonious vocation
- harmonious effort
- harmonious attention
- harmonious presence
Usually these are translated as "right view, right intention," etc. The English word "right" is not a very good translation. What it should imply is harmonious, not right or left, not something dualistic as in right or wrong, but something beyond duality, something beyond good and bad; something that truly exists in the full sense of the word.
These eight aspects of the path are not separate actions or steps. They are not steps on a ladder. They are eight facets of one thing, which is the fourth truth, the path to liberation.
In Buddhism, the path to liberation is defined as "the cessation of suffering." In other words, the path leads to the eradication or conquering of the first truth. The path leads to the cessation of suffering.
The eightfold path posits simply this: in order to arrive at the cessation of suffering, you must remove the cause of suffering, which is desire. Desire exists because of the false "I." Therefore, if you remove that false "I," then desire ceases to be, and suffering ceases to be, and the entire wheel is broken.
You can see now how beautiful the first teaching of the Buddha is, and how powerful. And yet, we do not understand it. We may have heard this teaching many times. We may have read books, we may have heard lectures, we may have been meditating for twenty years, we may have been a Buddhist who has taken vows. But we do not comprehend it (that is, we do not have Gnosis of it) because we are still here as we have always been: suffering in ignorance of our true nature. We are still afflicted with many problems.
One who has comprehended the four noble truths completely is out of the wheel of suffering completely. That one has grasped the truth within in those four noble truths, which is called in Sanskrit: Pratityasamutpada. This can be translated in many ways, but the most common is "dependent origination." This word means that all manifested things are empty of inherent existence and depend upon other things. They are all interdependent and impermanent. All forms are empty, and all emptiness is form. That teaching is synthesized in the heart of all of the Sutras and Tantras, which is the Prajnaparamita Sutra, "the heart of wisdom sutra," which has been chanted daily for two thousand years by the Buddhists, and which Samael Aun Weor studied very deeply in meditation. He acquired the ability to understand it through his personal experience of it, and he wrote about and explained it.
These eight steps of the path are one action, conscious, in order to acquire the conscious experience of the emptiness, the true nature of existence, the true nature of what is in us. The intellect struggles to grasp what this means because the concepts are completely contrary to what we feel is "ourselves." The only way to really grasp it is to practice. Thus, we need to learn to meditate.
When we study these eight steps, they have many levels of meaning and imply many things. But you can look at them on a superficial level and see how the first seven are concerned with how we conduct ourselves from moment to moment.
The first aspect of the path is harmonious view. This word "view" is the basis for the rest of the steps. In the context of any Mahayana tradition, "view" points towards the Prajnaparamita.
If you have studied the Paramitas ("perfections"), by the way, Prajna is the most elevated one, and is directly related with this topic.
In Sanskrit, Prajna means wisdom, intelligence, or comprehension. It is related with the sephirah Binah. It is intelligence, but the intelligence of God. It is this intelligence that resides between two abysses or chaoses. The first abyss separates the upper triangle from the lower tree, and the second is the Absolute. Binah is the aspect of the trinity that comprehends the relationship between emptiness and form. Binah is Prajna. In the Prajnaparamita Sutra, the heart of wisdom, Avalokiteshvara, the Bodhisattva explains:
Form is emptiness, emptiness is form, emptiness is not other than form, form too is not other than emptiness. Likewise, feelings, perceptions, mental formations and consciousness are all empty. Therefore, Shariputra, all phenomena are empty. They are without defining characteristics. They are not born, they do not cease, they are not defiled, they are not undefiled, they are not deficient and they are not complete.
To comprehend how existence and non-existence are one thing is only possible in the realm of Binah, which is Prajna. That is why one of the names this scripture in Sanskrit is Bhagavati. The full Sanskrit name is Bhagavati Pranyaparamita Hridaya. Bhagavati is feminine and implies a Divine Mother. The Divine Mother is the one who gives birth to any Buddha. Bhagavati is Binah in the Tree of Life. Binah is related to the Divine Mother (Aima or Eloha). The Divine Mother is intelligence, wisdom, Prajna, comprehension.
It is in the realm of Prajna / Binah that we can grasp the two truths simultaneously:
- conventional existence
- ultimate existence
The vision of prajnaparamita, ultimate right view, is the ability to see the two truths at the same time, simultaneously, as one cognitive event. This is only possible for someone who has reached that level of Binah, who has their consciousness vibrating at the level of Prajna. We have to meditate to learn that. This is not an unreachable goal. Anyone can experience it, but to reach it, one has to learn how to place the consciousness in perfect equanimity, perfect serenity. That is why we have been given the teachings of the eightfold path.
Harmonious view is the perception of emptiness, the void, the Absolute. Notice that I said "perception," not the idea or the theory. Harmonious view, upright view, is a form of perception. Harmonious view is to actually see the emptiness in the form and the form in the emptiness. This is not to think it or superimpose it over our view, or to contemplate or imagine it. When you see, you do not have to think or imagine, you simply look. Harmonious view is like that, but it sees more than the physical world, and even beyond the fourth, fifth, and sixth dimensions. It sees all the dimensions simultaneously. We are not there yet. We are caught in wrong view, an idea of "self," an "I" that we worship. This is wrong view, because it grasps at something that does not exist.
To cultivate harmonious view, we have to awaken our consciousness. Not tomorrow, now.
Harmonious view begins by analyzing this "self." The analysis we need is not done merely with the intellect or beliefs, but with cognitive perception. It is to look at oneself looking for what is real, questioning, not sitting back in this identity, this cage, just going with the flow of life.
We cannot just go along with our Karma, with our situations and desires, but we must be questioning them through a cognitive perception. It is from moment to moment to look in oneself with the conscious analysis of:
Where is my self?
Who am I?
Who is this desire?
Who is it in me that wants money, attention, acceptance, approval?
Is what I am seeing in myself right now from my Being, my inner Buddha, or is it a deluded desire?
Who is it in me that wants to be admired, that wants to feel secure, that wants a title or success or comfort?
Who is this that is in my mind now?
Who is this in my heart now?
Who is this voice chattering in my mind about its desires, resentments, cravings, fears?
Again: these are not intellectual questions, they must be inquiries of a perceptive cognizance. It is a way of observing oneself, watching oneself, creating an inner separation. This requires effort, enormous effort, super-efforts. Yet, it has to happen within a space of non-exertion. That is, our consciousness, our inner watchfulness needs to be serene and natural.
You see, "to be" is effortless. It is when we want to be something that we are not that we exert ourselves.
When we want to project an image that is not true, we exert ourselves.
When we want something that does not belong to us, we exert ourselves.
When we want security, when we want to look like we know something and be respected, when we want to dominate, when we want to express our anger, when we want revenge, when we want to satisfy our lust, when we want others to envy us, we exert our mind. We project an image, we talk a certain way, we dress a certain way, we walk a certain way, we act a certain way.
All of those desires, those cravings, manipulate our personality to project that "self" so that others will give us what we want, or so that our desires will get what they want.
All of that is a kind of exertion psychologically that is founded in desire and the illusion of "I." It creates suffering. Harmonious view is to see that for what it is.
Harmonious view begins with the effort to see our projections, cravings, aversions, or desires, our egos, for what they are. That takes effort to be conscious, but to be in the space within which one can do it, one must not exert the mind or personality. In other words, you must not project your "I." Just be, and that is all. Just be. Yet, to be, one must be present and watchful. If you are not paying close attention, you are not being present.
Autopilot consciousness is not watchful attention.
For example, if you face a great crisis, a big problem, then inside you feel an urgency to act, to do something, to exert yourself. If you are out of work, and money is a real problem, then you may feel mental or emotional pain and an urgency to do something: to show an image of yourself to someone else so you will get hired or get a job. You feel the need to project an image of yourself to an interviewer or to a client so that you will get a job and thus get money, which, you think, will reduce your suffering. A situation like this is common, but the way we deal with it usually just produces suffering. This is because in order to get money or a job, we project an image of ourselves that is not really who we are. We "dress up" the image we project in order to fit into some mold or model, none of which has anything to do with who or what we really are. This is just an example of something we do all the time. We do the same thing to attract a mate, or friends, or attention in any sphere of life. We lie: we project a false image. Worst of all, we even do this to ourselves. We project a false image to ourselves, based on images that we admire or envy.
All of this is psychological exertion, based on false views: ignorance. That is to say, your psychological relationship with the situation and yourself is false. If you make the effort to be, to see yourself as you truly are, and you relax and let go of those desires and remember your Being (not just thinking about your Being, but feeling your Being, and not just for an instant, but continually), suddenly, that exertion goes away, and you experience a different point of view. In the gospels Jesus said:
Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth. And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, [and] be merry. But God said unto him, [Thou] fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So [is] he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.
And he said unto his disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on. The life is more than meat, and the body [is more] than raiment. Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls? And which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit? If ye then be not able to do that thing which is least, why take ye thought for the rest? Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more [will he clothe] you, O ye of little faith?
And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind. For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you. Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
Let your phallus be girded about [in chastity], and [your] lights burning [awaken!]; and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately. Blessed [are] those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching [consciously]: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them. And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find [them] so, blessed are those servants. And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through. Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not. - Luke 12
We forget the truth of this important scripture, because we grasp at a false self and forget our real Being. But if we remember ourselves, if we put our trust in That which is within us, then we exert nothing from "ourselves" and place ourselves in the hands of our Innermost: suddenly the answers we need come naturally, spontaneously, without exertion.
You may have experienced something similar when, without thinking of a problem, without analyzing a problem, while in a totally separate psychological state, perhaps doing something relaxing like taking a nap or a shower, suddenly the answer to the problem pops into your head, and you say to yourself, "Ah! It is so easy, this is what I have to do!" I am sure everyone has had an experience like that. That illustrates this point. The truth comes when we least expect it. The truth comes without exertion; it comes naturally. Yet, we ignore this, and grasp at false views. If we relax and open our mind and heart with cognitive perception, the truth emerges naturally.
What I am trying to convey to you is this: spiritual truths arrive in the same way. Insight into reality arrives in the same way.
In practical life, each time a new problem torments us, we make many useless exertions. We appeal to exertions to solve it; we struggle and suffer, but then, the only thing that we obtain is to commit inanities and to complicate our existence even more.
The disillusioned, the disenchanted ones, those who no longer even want to think, those who were not able to solve a vital problem, find the solution to it when their mind is serene and tranquil, when they have had no hope whatsoever.
No truth can be comprehended by means of exertion. The truth comes like a thief in the night, when one least expects it.
Extrasensory perceptions during meditation, illumination, the solution to a problem, are only possible when no kind of conscious or subconscious exertion exists, when the mind does not exert itself to be more than it is. - Samael Aun Weor, The Revolution of the Dialectic
This is how meditation works. If you are making enormous psychological exertion in meditation, you are going the wrong direction. Meditation, true meditation, is effortless, easy, because it is natural, spontaneous; it is part of our true nature.
To experience the nature of your Innermost requires no exertion at all. What it requires is that you are being, that your mind is in a state of serenity, and your consciousness is active and awake. In that state, experiences emerge spontaneously, naturally, because that is the function and purpose of the consciousness. Therefore, we need to comprehend the upright path of eightfold steps.
Right view is to learn to see the self for what it is, to not merely assume that our supposed identity is real, but to question it.
When we feel the urge of anger, or we feel the emotion of pride, we have to become cognizant of that and look into it and see: what in that experience is real? Does what we see or experience fundamentally exist, eternally, and without limitation?
A simple example would be to look at sensations, because all desire works through sensations: form. When you feel hungry, your body is telling you to eat, but desire gets in the way. Desire takes control of the need, and the desire (ego) says, "I want chocolate," or "I want a hamburger." We feel the craving for the sensations (taste, smell, sight, etc) of the hamburger. Some of us can even act crazy trying to satisfy that desire. We can become angry, resentful, we can manipulate people, we can rant and rave. We all have different ways of satisfying our urges, our desires. Some of our desire-driven behaviors are very passive and not noticeable, and some are very dominant. Nonetheless, at the root of those behaviors is that craving for a sensation. You see, this is an example that is based on a genuine need (to eat). Yet, most of our desires have nothing to do with our true needs. Most of our desires are just illusions, based in nothing but greed, gluttony, pride, lust, etc.
We ignore the true nature of the sensations we experience, because we do not have harmonious view. We do not see that sensations are truly empty and impermanent: they arise, sustain briefly, then pass away. We ignore this, because we are slaves to our desires. If we really understood the impermanent and illusory nature of sensations, we would not spend our lives chasing some and avoiding others. We would focus our energy and times on those aspects of life that are eternal and lasting.
We make enormous effort to satisfy our cravings. This is a rather dumb example, just to eat something that we desire, right? But we can make great sacrifices and go a long way and make a lot of effort to get a hamburger, or to eat something that we want to eat, or to buy something that we want to buy like a new phone, or a new car. We can spend months and months researching, craving, saving money, all with this urge to buy something. But all along we do not question the urge. We do not see the emptiness of the desire. We do not see the "I" behind it.
When we get the thing we want, we indulge in the sensation and the pendulum of sensation swings towards "pleasure." We enjoy the pleasure for a brief instant, but then that pleasure starts to fade inevitably. After several bites of the hamburger, it does not taste that great anymore. Maybe we finish it and then we are stuffed, so we do not feel comfortable. We may even feel, "Ugh, no more hamburgers, I'm sick of it." We do not see the pendulum of all desire: pleasure is always followed by pain. Enjoyment is always followed by discouragement or disappointment.
We do not see that a sensation arises, is sustained briefly, and then decays and goes away. We make incredible efforts to get something that only satisfies for a few moments. Then, we are chasing after something else.
We fail to see the impermanence of sensations, and so we end up being slaves of that one inch of our body. Do you realize that? The tongue is that "one inch" that enslaves us. What about the rest? What about all the other senses that we are enslaved by? Our sight, our hearing, our smell, our touch; we are enslaved by desires through the senses. This one of the causes of why we suffer.
If we can apply harmonious view and begin to analyze those sensations, to see them for what they are, we can start to transform our lives. We can have conscious control over ourselves and not be a victim of suffering.
This is true not just for a silly example like food, but for more serious examples like lust, pride, or envy. Envy might by the worst. We know from our studies and lectures that lust is the root of the ego. But the one that creates the most suffering in our lives, in our society, is envy. You see, lust creates suffering for yourself, but envy creates suffering for everyone. When you lust after someone, something, or a sensation, and you want to satisfy that lust, it affects you and you suffer. But when you envy another or when someone envies you, there are two people involved, maybe more. The suffering is worse, it is multiplied. But what is envy? I'll read you a quote from Samael Aun Weor:
...envy is one of the most powerful triggers of social machinery. Why do so many people want to progress? Why do so many people want to have beautiful residences and very elegant cars? The entire world envies what belongs to others. Envy is regret for others' well-being.
Elegant women are envied by other less elegant women and this serves to intensify their struggle and pain. Those who do not have, want to have, and will choose to not eat in order to buy all types of clothes and adornments. They do this with the sole objective of not being less than anyone else.
Every paladin of a great cause is mortally hated by the envious. The envy of the impotent, of the vanquished, of the mean person, is disguised with the judge's toga, or with the robe of sanctity and of mastery, or with the sophism of applause, or with the beauty of humility.
If we integrally comprehend that we are envious, it is logical that envy will then end and in its place will appear the star that rejoices and shines for others' well-being. - Samael Aun Weor, The Revolution of the Dialectic
How rare is it for us to feel genuinely happy for someone else's success or someone else's happiness? We might "say" we are happy, but we usually feel envious because we want what they have. That want is an "I," which is not real, but which we created and sustain because of ignorance.
In order for harmonious view to deepen, for us to see the emptiness of this false self, we have to work with the rest of the eightfold path.
Steps of the Eightfold Path
Harmonious intention is the second aspect. What is harmonious intention? In Sanskrit, it is called Bodhichitta. Bodhichitta is the wisdom mind, the awakening mind.
Harmonious intention or motivation is the ultimate aspect of the Bodhisattva path, which is to work on behalf of others. Gnosis is a Mahayana teaching. This tradition has its central goal: to help others escape suffering. The true Gnostic does not act for themselves. Stated in Mahayana terms, a Bodhisattva does every single action on behalf of others. Every action. That is harmonious intention, harmonious motivation. That harmonious intention is based in comprehension of the Emptiness (the Absolute), based in the harmonious view of Prajnaparamita, the comprehension of inherent emptiness. Compassion and emptiness combined is full Bodhichitta.
The third aspect is harmonious speech: to respect the word, to use your tongue for the benefit of others. We use our tongue to benefit ourselves and we use our tongue to destroy others. We love to criticize, tell jokes, belittle people, make fun of people, gossip. Rarely do we see anyone speak well of another. Rarely do we speak well of others, without envy, without pride. Rarely do we see love on the tongues of human beings.
The fourth aspect is harmonious action or conduct. That is to use all your spiritual vehicles (bodies) in the right way, based in (1) harmonious view of your true nature (which is empty) and (2) based in Bodhichitta: to serve others.
The fifth aspect is harmonious vocation: to work in harmony with the law of Karma. This is to transform our day-to-day existence, our every activity, to be in harmony with karma, for the benefit of others.
The sixth aspect is harmonious effort. What is harmonious effort? It is joyful diligence. It is a virtue related with the planet Mercury. Joyful diligence is to have your consciousness awake. It is to not be lazy as a consciousness. It does not mean being very busy in your physical day-to-day life. What it means is that you should be making the effort to be cognizant continually, to self-remember, to self-observe. That is, to sustain all the aspects of the path consciously.
The seventh aspect is harmonious attention or harmonious mindfulness, and that is to not forget to be cognizant. To be mindful is to remain continual in one's effort to be conscious. You see, beginners in Gnosis learn to be conscious of themselves (harmonious effort), and can do that, briefly; that is self-observation. Thus the seventh aspect of the path is to be mindful of continuing the sixth aspect, self-observation, making it continuous. Mindfulness is to not forget. It is to be mindful of what you do. So you need to be mindful of being conscious.
All of this leads to the eighth aspect, which is harmonious presence.
It could sound like aspects six, seven, and eight are the same thing. In fact, if you divide up these eight into a trinity, they are. Another way in Buddhism to look at the way to walk the path is in three aspects: view, meditation and action. These three at the end are related to meditation. Meditation is built on these three. They sound similar because they are related.
Harmonious presence is Prajna, wisdom, meditation. Sometimes you'll see this eighth step as concentration, but it does not mean preliminary concentration. It means concentration in context of Samadhi.
The word Samadhi is Sanskrit and can be translated as "To hold without change, to be fixed permanently." When you are truly concentrated, you have fixed attention. Concentration means to fix the attention on one thing. But Samadhi is beyond mere concentration, in English terms. Samadhi is a state of ecstasy.
Our goal as aspiring Gnostics is to learn how to unify these eight aspects into one state of consciousness. This is not a state of consciousness that you only access every once in a while, but it is a state of consciousness that is eternal, natural, spontaneous, and immortal. In Dzogchen and Mahamudra, it is called Rigpa, and is the natural state of the mind. It is your Buddha nature: your natural, awakened consciousness. When it is fully developed, it becomes "Buddha," which means "awakened one."
The word Buddha is not a name, it is a title. There are many levels of Buddhas, because each one is at a different level of comprehension and understanding. At the top, at the peak, beyond Binah on the Tree of Life, we find three Kayas: Sambogakaya, Nirmanakaya, Dharmakaya. These are levels of Buddhas that are preparing to enter the Absolute (emptiness). In other words, they are going to have full and complete Prajnaparamita, the ability to simultaneously see the emptiness of all things and the form of all things; to see not as a theory but through vision. In other words, they have accomplished the full path.
For where we are, we start with studying the doctrine, trying to understand the concepts so that we can put them into practice. We begin where we are now, not just debating about emptiness, not just playing with the intellect, with concepts, but trying to experience it in our daily lives. Real Gnosis is acquired through experience, so we begin here: what is this 'I' that we experience from moment to moment? Who is this 'I'? So throughout the day, from when we first arise, we train ourselves to begin with this introspective analysis: "Who is this?" And with any element that emerges in our mind, we have to analyze it, cognizantly, to look at what comes in our mind and to question it.
As we are now, we do not analyze or question anything in our minds. We go along with whatever arises. As soon as desires arise in the mind, we start acting on them. We wake up, and we want coffee, we want to eat, we want to turn on the T.V., we want to go right to the internet, to check our email, or we start getting ready for our day, making ourselves look attractive, thinking "Maybe today I'll meet the one, I better put on cologne." We do not realize that these urges are rooted in a false self. They are not authentic, they are false; they are lies that we tell ourselves. We need to train ourselves to begin everyday, in our daily lives, questioning ourselves, such as:
"Where are these impulses coming from? Was I dreaming this all night long, too? Why? Why do I need to do these things? Why do I automatically follow these urges that arise in my mind? Is this persistent thought really what my Being wants? Is this action I am considering really in harmony with the divine law?"
In this way, we can start to penetrate that cage, to break it, to start to experience some freedom from the cage of suffering that we have made. In this way, we start to free ourselves from the many forms of bondage that we have attached to ourselves: bondage to society, to family, to our mind.
This self-analysis does not require that one retreats from the world and abandons the world. What it leads toward is a new way of being: rather than always feeding your own false self, you start to think seriously about the good of others.
As an example: if you are going out to look for a job and you present yourself to look like something that you are not, and then you get that job, you are going to suffer, because you really do not belong in that job or workplace. You were not being who you really are. How many people are suffering their daily lives because of this type of mistake!
Sadly, many people do the same thing when seeking a spouse: they dress a certain way, act a certain way, and talk a certain way in order to project an image that they think will catch a particular type of person, but then when they get involved with a new mate, they suffer terribly because they can never relax and be themselves. They were not being honest. None of that behavior was really sincere. So, as a result everyone suffers and the relationship inevitably ends in tears.
Let us not make those types of mistakes in life. Be honest, be authentic. But to truly be authentic, you have to know your authentic self, and that is not the 'I', the ego; it is the Being.
The difficulty here, firstly, is learning to know oneself. This requires enormous effort. It only takes one instant of inattention and we fall asleep again, hypnotized by the ego, by the personality. One instant, one distraction. Can you maintain perfect cognizance of all the desires in your mind for a few seconds? For a few minutes? You might be able to in certain circumstances, but then what if you go into your favorite store or restaurant? What if you meet up with all your friends? What if you go to a shop that has everything you dream of owning? All of that "self-remembering stuff" goes right out the window, because all around you are all these beautiful things that you really want. Why does this happen to you? Do you know? Have you observed this type of event in yourself?
Do you not realize that everything around us in this society is designed to manipulate us through sensation? Every single advertisement is designed to manipulate you through sensation, to make you feel a certain way so that you will give them your money. They say, "If you buy this product, you will feel beautiful" - through sensation. With their images, sounds, and situations, they are saying, "If you buy this product, you will feel powerful, you will feel like a man." "If you drink alcohol, you will feel tough, mature, grown-up, a rebel." "If you wear this brand, everyone will desire you or envy you." We want to feel those sensations, so we succumb to the advertising.
Do you see your own addiction to sensation? Who has the ability to conquer that? Who has the ability to conquer sensation? Do not think it is impossible: it can be done if you have the knowledge of the path.
Furthermore, do you see that the attraction of sensation is based on an illusion: the presumption that sensation can bring happiness? That illusion is also based in a fundamental ignorance of our true nature, because in fact, real happiness or contentment is not dependent on sensations of any kind. Real happiness is a state of consciousness that is not dependent on sensual conditions. In other words, when you experience your true nature, you experience happiness and contentment.
Practically speaking, this means that we have to train ourselves to see the impermanence and illusory nature of every experience we have, so that we can acquire true insight (knowledge) of that experience. In this way, our consciousness becomes accustomed to recognizing delusions (egos) for what they are: illusion, ignorance, deception.
So, you may think you "know your self," but let us be honest here. What is that self? How can you define it? What evidence do you have to support your notion of "self"?
If you say the self is the body, then it is not much of a self, because the body is very impermanent, dependent upon all kinds of conditions outside of our control, and it constantly changes in ways that we cannot control. Moreover, there are all kinds of experiences that we can have that are clearly beyond the limitations of the physical body. So, we can reject this notion of the self being the body.
Many say the self is inside of the body but is not the body itself. In that case, where is it when the body is not here? Have you had any experience of your self without your body? Can you isolate a self that exists beyond the physical body or senses? We talk a lot about consciousness, so when you begin to question and analyze yourself, "Where is myself? Where is my real self? Where am I? Who am I that is asking this? Who am I that is looking out through these eyeballs and hearing through these ears? Who is that?," can you really answer these questions? Can you find something that exists independently of the physical aspects, such eyes, ears, taste, touch? Can you find that "self"? Physically, you cannot. If you did not have your eyes, ears, taste, touch, how would you experience anything? Have you had any experience without senses like these, whether physical or not? If you had, who were you then?
We can probably agree that there is a self beyond the body, but what it is or how it exists is subject to a huge mass of contradictory and confusing theories. Some say it is soul, but cannot define what soul is or what it is made of.
People tend to assume or believe certain theories from two broad groups:
- that the self is eternal, immutable, and ours (eternalism)
- there is no self, thus nothing matters (nihilism)
When the cognizant analysis we propose is fully utilized in daily life and in meditation, one discovers that both of these views are wrong.
More importantly, our very notion of self is based upon a lack of knowing (gnosis) - that is, we lack knowledge (gnosis) of the reality within ourselves: we suffer from ignorance. We need to experience the reality of the Self in order to remove suffering from our lives. This is the importance of understanding this teaching: by comprehending the emptiness, we can be free of ignorance, and thereby experience the true nature of our Being, which is happiness, compassion, and total freedom.
Our goal in Gnosis is to know from experience, so let us start with what we have experienced of our "self." Truly, the "idea" of self that we have is based on an illusion. We think our self is a certain way, but their is no evidence for our belief. Instead, our much-loved "self" contradicts itself continually, is impermanent and elusive, dependent upon all kinds of conditions and restrictions, and in general is so vague and abstract that no one on this planet can agree on what it is supposed to be.
In recent lectures, we have been studying about the symbols Cain and Abel from the Bible, and we have understood that Cain represents the mind - the ego, in other words. Abel represents the consciousness, the soul. But let us understand something about that symbol. In Hebrew, the word הבל habel, Abel, means "futility, vapor, breath or smoke." Why is that? How can the symbol of the consciousness mean "futility, vapor, breath or smoke"? If we read the scriptures literally, we could become confused, and think "It must be a mistake." It is no mistake. It is actually beautiful. But to understand it, you need to understand Pratityasamutpada: dependent origination, also known as the Chain of Causality.
Profound Ananda, this is Pratityasamutpada and profound does it appear. It is through not understanding, not penetrating this law, that this world resembles a tangled ball of thread... and that a man does not escape... suffering from the round of rebirth. - Buddha Shakyamuni
The Sanskrit word Pratityasamutpada is extremely profound and difficult to understand, but it explains the very basis of liberation from suffering, so we need to know what it is and how to understand it. In synthesis, it states that everything that exists is dependent upon causes and conditions, and thus everything that exists is empty of inherent existence: that is, it cannot exist on its own, by itself. This has very deep implications for our spiritual work.
In Kabbalah, Habel or Abel represents Nephesh, the soul that enters into manifestation in order to fulfill its duty, which is to serve God, to serve the Innermost. Habel represents the soul, but the soul is not the self. Habel is "vapor, breath, smoke, futility." That is, Habel is merely a vessel through which God can work. Habel, the offspring of Adam and Eve, cannot exist without Adam and Eve. That is, our soul is dependent on its inner roots. The soul cannot exist on its own. It exists only in relation with the Innermost. Thus, at the fundamental level, our consciousness is "empty of existence." It is dependent upon causes and conditions.
This type of introspection can lead you very deep. If you get out of your physical body and you find yourself in the astral plane, you can ask yourself, "Who am I? Who is this? Where am I?" This is the purpose of the exercise called the key of S.O.L. (subject, object, location). The purpose is to question one's environment, one's self: "What is this? Where am I? Is this real? What dimension am I in?"
When you work with this kind of analysis of self, you can find no self. There is no self independent of the aggregates (skandhas). So then we are left with a real problem: who is this that is asking, that is seeing, that is experiencing? Spiritually, you have to answer that question, but you cannot answer it with the intellect, Cain. Cain does not know the answer. Cain (our intellect in its current condition) is a murderer and a thief. When restored to his proper place, Cain has his function, which is to serve the spirit.
Abel also does not know the answer. Abel serves God, but is killed by Cain. And Abel means "futility, vapor, breath, smoke." What reality is there in that? There is none, because for Cain and Abel to exist, there must have been Adam and Eve, and who are Adam and Eve, but a symbol of our Innermost.
You see, in each level of our constitution psychologically and spiritually, we can find no independently existing self. When you inquire into this physically, "Who is my self? Is this physical body, immortal, independent, eternal?" No, this physical body will die, so we know that the physical body is not the self.
So then we develop the ability to get out of the body and we analyze the vital body in the fourth dimension. We perform the same analysis on the body of energy (chi), but this body also does not exist in and of itself, forever. It is temporal: it is born, it sustains briefly, then it dies. Just like a sensation, it is not permanent. Why should we trust its appearance? Why should we rely on it? Why should we believe that it is a self when it will end?
Then we go to our astral body, our emotional body. Conscious, awake in the astral plane, we analyze ourselves, "Is this me? Is this my self?" Well, this astral body, if it is lunar, clearly is not eternal or the real self, because this body will be dissolved by nature. It will die. If we have created solar bodies, then we might pause on this question. "Are these my self?" Still, the answer is no, because without God, solar bodies cannot exist. Without the Innermost, they cannot act. Without the spirit, they are dead. So, therefore Abel, Habel, the soul, is not the self. It is empty. Habel, Abel, the soul is "vapor, breath, smoke" because for it to act, the spirit must be there.
Then we go further, to the body of will (Tiphereth). We go further to the body of consciousness, (Geburah). We go further into the Atmic body (Chesed). In each case, we continue with this introspection, "Is this myself? Is this me?" This might sound familiar to you because Samael Aun Weor gave this very practice, but one has to be able to do it consciously. Most of us cannot get out of the physical body consciously, much less go consciously at will to the fourth, fifth, and sixth dimensions, in order, by will. We can learn to do it, but it takes effort.
In the end, even our Innermost, even Chesed, is not our "real, eternal self." In these studies we do say Chesed is our self, our spirit, but in the context of the highest philosophies in Gnosis, even Chesed is dependent upon the sephiroth above it, and relative to that level, they only exist briefly. The only eternal, everlasting element that we have within is related to the Absolute. Therefore, the highest truth, the highest level of self, is the Ain Soph. It is Emptiness, the limitless. This is the ultimate conclusion that one will arrive upon if you consciously investigate this question.
So, how do we make this practical? How do we practice meditation without exertion? Most of us struggle to meditate, we fight. This is necessary, but who are you fighting? You have to be fighting against the right elements in order to succeed, to become a master of meditation. Are you fighting the false self or are you fighting against the truth?
Most of us, when we begin to meditate, begin with a craving of some kind. For some people, it is a desire to have spiritual powers. For some, it is to be a master, to be admired, a big shot, a know-it-all, to be sought after, to be worshiped. Some of us are not that grandiose. Some of us start to meditate because we have the desire to experience Samadhi, to know God, to talk to an angel, to talk to Jesus, to talk to Buddha. These longings are good, and we need them - our consciousness, our soul needs those experiences. But unfortunately, our ego tends to make them into desires, the same way we desire chocolate cake or hot dogs.
This is where the difference is clarified between effort and exertion. Experiences in meditation are easy if there is no desire present. Therefore, when you meditate, observe yourself: are you craving for silence? Do you desire some spiritual experience? Are you craving to get out of the body? Then you will not have it, or if you do, it will be a projection of that desire.
Experience in meditation comes when the mind is in equanimity. What is equanimity? Equanimity is a form of equilibrium. The state of equanimity neither craves or avoids. It is not for or against; it simply is. We rarely experience this. We rarely experience a state of equanimity because we are so enslaved by desires - cravings and aversions - that we are always swinging from one side to the other. We crave pleasurable experiences in meditation and try to avoid painful ones. When we sit to meditate, our knees hurt, our back hurts, our neck hurts, and we exert ourselves to avoid those pains while we are craving experiences; thus, we are going nowhere.
Another beautiful word for equanimity is acceptance. Let what is be. When you sit to meditate and you begin to observe your mind, let it be whatever it is. If your mind is active, then just watch your active mind; just observe that. Whatever arises in your mind, you say, "Yes, I see these thoughts, I am aware of these thoughts, I am aware of these desires, I am aware of this pain." And if the mind is quiet, you say, "Yes, ok, the mind is quiet." Not "Yippee!" because that yippee is a desire, and not "Darn it, my mind won't get quiet," because that is a desire, too.
Equanimity is the basis for meditation, but you cannot establish equanimity only in meditation. You have to be establishing equanimity all of the time, from moment to moment, every instant of your waking and sleeping life.
Consciously observe all phenomenon, and see them as they are. Stop projecting yourself and trying to change the whole world in your mind. Accept what is; be in equanimity, neither for or against.
What this means is that instead of reacting to phenomena automatically, driven by impulses we do not see or understand, we learn how to react consciously, with control over our thoughts, emotions, and body, and thereby we gain conscious control over the direction of our life. In this way, we create fewer problems for ourselves and others, and little by little we develop more insight into the nature of reality. Ultimately, this training takes us to being able to act spontaneously in accordance with the will of our Innermost.
Therefore, in any situation in life, learn how to be a watchful interceptor in conscious control of your mind, heart, and body. Then, if someone praises you, you do not think or say, "Yes, yes, tell me more." You also do not say "Oh, yeah, shut up." Instead, whatever you hear, you see it for what it truly is, and let it go, without attachment or aversion. Every sensation arises, sustains, and passes away. Do not react automatically to anything. Do not try to control everything outside of yourself. Instead, control your attention. Don't try to change what people say. Accept what you perceive, and comprehend it. When you comprehend praise or criticism, you realize it is empty. Who are they praising? A false self, an ego, a personality, a physical body that will die! What is the point? What good is any praise of something impermanent that only creates suffering? Likewise, what good is any criticism? Reflect to yourself, "Are they criticizing my body, my personality, my desire, or are they criticizing my Being? In any case, it does not matter, my Being is God, while I am just an ant, an ant who will die. So they criticize the ant. Does that make them tough? Does that make them good? Does that make them better than me or worse than me? No, all of that is irrelevant, it is empty. If they praise or criticize my Being, so what? He is still my Being. The criticism is irrelevant."
We tend to get very identified with problems. Our mind is always filled with, "What do I do? What do I do?" We go to everybody we know trying to get advice and opinions and trying to solve these problems with a lot of exertion. We do not just accept the problems as they are. Instead, we try to avoid them, we resist them, and we do everything we can to avoid the obvious solution. If we accepted problems, the solution would be self-evident, immediate. It is quite simple: if you have a problem, and there is a solution, you will solve it. If you have a problem and there is no solution, you will not solve it. So why do you get upset? Because of the "I." (I did not make up this advice. It is from Shantideva. Beautiful and true, is it not?)
So in every case in our day-to-day life, we have to cultivate this point of view: to see the empty nature of phenomena, to develop conscious equanimity in all experiences, to be the same person, strong, consistent, not easily swayed by the waves of life, a person who loves others, who cherishes others above themselves. This is the ethic of Gnosis, the ethic of the Mahayana dharma.
This is real Dharma: to cherish others above ourselves, and to have equanimity in all situations. Yet, equanimity does not mean lethargy, inactivity, or complacency with crime. If someone says something mean to us, we accept it but do not respond with violence. It does not mean we should let somebody perform violence against us; no, we have to act in order to protect one another. But emotionally, spiritually, we should not react with any judgment, blame, or anger: we should love them. People who are angry are suffering. Do you ever reflect on that? When somebody is angry with you, criticizing you, and attacking you, why do you get angry in return? Because of pride. Does anger solve anything? It does not; it makes things worse. If we responded with love, understanding, compassion, the anger would be diffused, right? Love can solve it, anger cannot.
In this way, in every situation, we cultivate this equanimity: to be in the middle. Neither praising or blaming, neither craving or avoiding; accepting, seeing things as they are. This conscious point of view sets the stage for meditation to become effortless, because then, when we sit to meditate, the only difference is we close our eyes. We close our eyes and we begin to reflect on what is in our mind. "What is emerging? What is my mood? Am I tense?"
Usually, the first thing we do is we observe our three brains. We take a comfortable position and we close our eyes and we pass our consciousness around our physical body; we look to see, "Where am I tense and why?" We relax. If we are sick or if we have a physical pain of some kind, or if we are suffering in some way, we accept it; we relax. We let the body just rest. Then we do the same with our emotional state, "What is my psychological mood? Am I anxious? Am I excited? Do I feel lazy? Do I feel resentful? Do I feel confused, conflicted?" Whatever we find, we observe it, we relax, and let it be what it is: neither resisting nor craving. You see, physically we resist and crave, emotionally we resist and crave, and also in the mind, we resist and crave. So, likewise, the antidote is to become conscious of everything that is arising through each of the thee brains: body, heart, mind - and relax.
This alone could easily take several years to learn, because the mind is so chaotic and we are so ignorant of what is happening in us physically and psychologically. But please do it, even if it takes you ten years, because once you learn this, then meditation is easy.
The reality is that meditation is not complicated, neither is it hard. It is natural, easy, spontaneous, normal. The reason we cannot do it is because we ignore the truth of our situation, and we are caught up in craving some things and avoiding other things.
Start with your three brains.
Each day, take some time to sit quietly with your eyes closed, and observe your body, observe your heart, and then observe your mind.
Do not look at the clock. This is another big mistake. Do not say, "I am going to meditate for ten minutes!" and sit and watch the clock for ten minutes, twenty minutes, or an hour. Forget the clock. This means that it is likely to be ineffective to sit to meditate before you go to work, or whenever when you must leave the house soon, or when you are cooking or waiting for someone to arrive, because you are just going to be agitated, and you are going to waste your time and end up being frustrated by meditation practice. At those times, do something else to relax yourself, like take a walk, or just chant some mantras. Then later, when you are ready to meditate, do not have anything planned afterwards.
When you sit to meditate, you have to forget everything else.
When the body is relaxed, when the heart is relaxed, when the mind is relaxed, here comes the most important step - this only happens after you have relaxed: abandon your physical senses. Yes, you have to leave your body completely alone. Let it rest. Do not pay attention to it anymore. It is possible you will retain some awareness of it, but that is different from paying attention to it.
The importance of forgetting the physical body is why, in my opinion, guided meditation is harmful. I do not teach or recommend guided meditation because when you are receiving guided meditation, you remain attached to your sense of hearing. Therefore, you remain in your body. Therefore, you cannot get out of your body to have a strong Samadhi. Therefore, guided meditation builds a habit that is very harmful.
To truly meditate, you have to completely abandon the five senses. You have to abandon the physical body, and once you do that, then you go even further: you abandon the vital body, the astral body, the mental body, the causal body. This is how you go through successive levels of Samadhi. But you cannot reach any of them if you are sitting in your physical body attached to a sensation, like hearing, or like a pain in your body, or like a taste in your mouth, or a smell or a sight. You cannot enter Samadhi when you are fascinated by, hypnotized by, or attached to any sensation. That is why I also do not recommend playing music for meditation practice. It is ok to set a mood, but most of the time when someone plays music during their meditation practice, they end up just listening to the music or being distracted by it. It is ok to meditate on the music, or listen to it to help you relax, but if you are still listening to anything through your ears, you will not reach Samadhi (ecstasy), where real comprehension flowers. Even if you are attempting to comprehend the music in meditation, you have to get out of the physical body, abandoning your physical ears, in order to really comprehend that music. You can do this with the works of Beethoven, Mozart, Bach - all the great masters - and they will teach you beautiful things, but not while you are still in your physical body. You can use the music as a vessel to get out of your body, but not if you are attached to your ears. You have to leave the ears behind. This cannot be emphasized enough.
To really meditate, to really master this skill, to really experience what Samadhi is, you have to abandon the body.
Most of the time, we cannot abandon the body because of fear. Many of us have a lot of fear about meditation. Maybe we were raised Christian and we were told again and again that "meditation is of the devil." This is a tragic crime because meditation is the natural state of the consciousness. Through the practice of meditation, you access the natural state of your consciousness. All the prophets and saints learned and mastered meditation. Jesus is a great master of meditation - the best one, because he achieved full Prajna (wisdom), and he can teach that to you.
When you sit to meditate, you may have this obstacle of fear. You may be sitting and realize, "Wow, I'm feeling a subtle fear, my heart is quaking about meditation. I am afraid to meditate." It is excellent that you can see that. Now, accept it; rest in that, relax in that, look to see what is inside of those feelings. Discover what is in it. What is the element that is manipulating you? Are you remembering your Being? Are you remembering yourself? Maybe it is a desire, maybe it is an aversion. Find those elements. They can be in any of the three brains. If you do this every day, without expectations, but doing it because it is helping you to know yourself better, eventually, without expecting it, without desiring it, suddenly you will realize that you are having a beautiful experience out of your body, with your Being, with an angel, or yourself.
Such experiences happen naturally. You cannot force them to happen. You cannot force the mind to be silent. You cannot force the body to relax. You cannot force the heart to be calm. You can only stop making them that way. Learn that. If your body is tense, it is because you made it tense. For it to relax, stop making it tense. Let go, accept it, relax. You cannot force it to be relaxed. You cannot force yourself to calm down, you only make it worse. That is exertion, and that is wrong. You cannot force your heart to be serene, to be happy, because happiness emerges spontaneously on its own. But you can stop making yourself feel anxious, sad, depressed, angry. Do that by acceptance, by patience, by equanimity. When that is sincere, the heart naturally becomes a serene, happy, beautiful place.
The same is true of the mind. You cannot force your mind to be quiet. There are many who try. Many schools of meditation try to force your body, heart, and mind to be silent and still. They may go around the room with a stick ready to strike anyone who moves, or have a guard and if you flinch or move or twitch your eye, they will punish you. They may kick you out if you move. Some of you may be surprised by thus, but I am not making it up. I have been to those schools. I practiced in those schools. I know that technique. It does not work. It is completely antithetical to real meditation. It pushes everyone in the opposite direction from meditation. Those who practice and teach such techniques are traumatizing each other, and ruining any chance for the soul to learn about its true nature. You cannot awaken positively through violence or threats.
To really meditate, you cannot force yourself. Do not approach your meditation practice with a sense of obligation such as, "I have to make myself meditate every day." You need to analyze that, because that is wrong view. It is harmful; it is poison. That attitude will take you right out of the path. With an attitude like that, you will not last on the path. You cannot. If you see meditation as something impossible, difficult, painful, unpleasant, bad, hard, then you are on the wrong foundation.
This is why when we teach meditation, we encourage you to develop a meditation practice that you find useful and beneficial, and that helps you to develop a sense of peace and serenity. But most of all, we encourage you to develop a meditation practice that promotes self understanding.
Do not harm yourself with thoughts like, "I have to meditate six hours a day because Samael Aun Weor said so." Do not harm yourself with thoughts like, "If I do not meditate every day, my instructor is going to kick me out of the school." Some of you may think that is funny, but I know people who think that way. There are a lot of them. It is sad.
We should develop our practice of meditation because we want to, and because it helps us. Work in that way, then your meditation will be easy. It will feed you, it will nourish you, it will grow your soul. And you will love it, and you will find that nothing in life will give you as much. I speak this from experience. At this point in my life, I am prepared to give up anything, but not my meditation practice. Everything of value that I have has come from meditation, and it is a very simple practice. Observe yourself, and relax. From this comes all the wisdom in heaven.
Questions and Answers
Audience: Tools, there have to be tools for meditation. Even the master said, he talks about cricket sounds that we should listen to cricket sounds to take us deeper into our consciousness, right? Same thing with bowls, Tibetan bowls, right? Zen Buddhism practices listening as a form of meditation, right? So there's a Mantra that we vocalize to sedate the nervous system, right? These are all helpful tools. That's what we've got to emphasize because we can't just say "Ok, we're just going to do it this way," right? We need those tools. Very few people are just going to jump into and work the way you're trying to explain it, right?
Instructor: Meditation is, alongside alchemy and astrology, the oldest science on this planet. So in this very ancient science, there are hundreds of thousands of techniques. At the right time, for the right person, any one of them can be effective. I am not trying to discourage anyone from practicing any technique that they want.
This is why in this school we do not have a rigid structure of meditation, where you have to do one practice for a week and then you do another practice for a week or a month. We do not have a structure like that because we know that every student is at a different level and has a different need. This is obvious.
Therefore, what I'm expressing in this lecture are principles of meditation. The essential principle is simply this: whatever technique you use, if you are paying attention to your body, you will remain in your body. If you are repeating a mantra and you remain in your body doing the mantra, you can do that mantra for a thousand years, and that is all you will get: doing the mantra in your body. If you want to comprehend the mantra, then you have to leave your body behind. What you can understand from the five senses in the physical body is only related to that level of existence. A mantra does not come from the physical level of existence. A mantra is a crystallized sound that has emerged from the Absolute, and to comprehend that, you have to go there. But you cannot go there with your physical body, your vital body, your astral body, or your mental body; not even your causal body. You have to go there without any vehicles of any kind. This is a very high principle. I am not suggesting that any of us could even do this today, but it is important to understand the concept so that we do not remain limited by the senses and the body.
In this tradition, we teach hundreds of techniques: mantras, pranayamas, vocalizations, different types of concentration practices, both formless and form based. We teach exclusive and non-exclusive forms of concentration. We teach Shamatha and Vipashyana. We teach Zen. We teach practices that are related with Mahamudra and Dzogchen, and these are related with the highest form of Yoga Tantra. These are extremely high techniques, yet we rarely teach them. Why? Because students do not prepare themselves for them. People do not learn to truly meditate. They may learn to repeat a mantra, they may learn to sit in a certain posture, they may even be able to talk about meditation like an expert, but when they meditate they do not abandon their physical bodies. Very few people can enter Samadhi at will, and this is the requirement. In order to learn the higher techniques, you have to be able to enter Samadhi at will. Anyone can learn to do it, and it simply requires that you prepare yourself for it. It is not that it is hard, it just takes discipline.
So on that note, let me encourage you: whatever practice you undertake, do it with all of your heart, but also do it with cognizance of what you are doing. Study. You have to study meditation deeply, and I recommend you study all traditions. Study what Samael Aun Weor wrote; study the Zen classics; study the Buddhist classics, and the Hindu classics. All of them are different tools that point to the exact same thing. Once you get that, you can experience it. On the other hand, you do not need to read any books to learn how to meditate. You can be completely illiterate. If you learn to listen to your intuition, to the guidance you get from your Being, you can master meditation, and there are many who have done so. There are masters, Buddhas, who are completely illiterate (physically).
To succeed in your meditation practice, you do not need to know all these terms and concepts that I have learned. What you have to know is how to use your consciousness. So use the tools; each one has a place. We learn mantras, we learn pranayamas, and we learn other techniques because they all have a value. But their value is defined in the principle of this lecture, which is: in meditation, do not make exertion. Learn to accept, to be serene. Real meditation comes from this psychological point of view.
Audience: During meditation, the energy centers begin to vibrate noticeably. Is this sensation to be overcome, or is it useful to be conscious of the energy? It is more awareness than attachment it seems, though I am unsure. Is this awareness something to be overcome, just as not dwelling on thoughts is to be overcome during meditation?
Instructor: The very profound and illuminated master, Milarepa, gave a lot of advice in relation with this type of question. Many students came to him and said: "I am having these visions in meditation, what do I do?" or "I am having this experience in meditation, what do I do? I saw this, I saw that." His answer was always the same: "Do not become identified. See it for what it is. It is neither good or bad, it is just an illusion. Do not be hypnotized by the illusion." This is the synthesis of this lecture. Whatever arises, be conscious, be serene, be the same, do not react, for or against. Accept it, observe it, and if you have to act, act consciously. But if you cannot act consciously, wait, keep observing, keep watching. That is the simple answer.
When you meditate, nothing might happen, so you need to analyze your practice and wait, keep practicing. Or when you meditate you might have all kinds of visions, whether good or bad. You could have disturbing visions, or visions that make you feel like you are a God. In both cases, the antidote is the same: do not become hypnotized. They are just images, they are empty, they are not real. See through them, see them for what they are. Do not fall into partiality.
Audience: A student says: Yeah, I don't 'want' to meditate. The instructor just said that if we think meditation is hard, or we don't want to, it's wrong view. What do I do?
Instructor: If you do not want to meditate, it is because of one of two things.
One: you still do not really understand what meditation is, therefore when you practice, you are not practicing in the right way.
Two: some ego or some element in you really does not want you to meditate and it is creating a lot of resistance.
In both cases, the antidote is the same: study the teaching. Listen to masters of meditation. Study what they have written and said. If meditation appears to you to be just painful and difficult and impossible, it is because you have not really understood what it is, so study.
Audience: How can life be suffering if there is a cessation of suffering in life?
Instructor: The first noble truth states what suffering is, and it happens to include most of the definitive experiences of our lives: birth, illness, aging, death, grasping at illusions, etc. Thus, for us who are asleep, who are not yet awakened, life is suffering. Yet, if we awaken consciousness, life changes. Then we can experience life without suffering. Yet, to truly remove all suffering, we have to remove the causes, which are the delusions (egos). For this, we have to enter the mysteries of the Second Mountain, a path that only Bodhisattvas can enter. In the Second Mountain, the entire ego is eliminated, so that only the radiance of the perfect Being shines within us. Then, when the ego is eliminated, life is not suffering anymore. Life is what it should be: an experience of the Being knowing itself and expressing its light, fulfilling its true place in the universe.
Audience: What if we have really noisy neighbors that always jump around, should we just accept that? And also it was said that if you have a certain physical tension, we observe it and we accept it, it was said that we need to relax the physical body and to eventually forget about it. How can we relax and forget the body if we have a very intense pain, whether it's on our leg or back?
Instructor: Right now I have neighbors like that. They only bother you if you let them. A beautiful example of this is any parent. Have you ever observed a parent who looks perfectly serene and happy and loving their child even though the child is a screaming brat? Yes, this is the attitude we have to cultivate for meditation. That is equanimity; that is love, the way that parent shows so much love for that child even though that child is spoiled rotten. That is compassion, love. We need the same attitude. If your neighbors are making noises and disturbing you, meditate on what in you is disturbed. What is it in you that is bothered? Intolerance, pride, laziness? Are you craving a sensation of silent spirituality? Look at yourself, analyze those qualities that come up. It is a perfect chance to meditate and learn about yourself. The expectation or desire for the sensation of serenity will never be satisfied. You are getting a great, beautiful opportunity to comprehend a desire: the desire for silence or the desire for others to bend to your will. It as a great chance to develop equanimity. Beautiful.
The second question was about pain. If the irritating element - whether it is somebody outside or something inside - really poses the potential to create lasting harm, for example if you are meditating and sitting on a sharp tack, then get up and remove it. It is common sense. Or if you are meditating in a room full of feathers and they are blowing around and irritating you, making you sneeze, then go to another room. There are some very obvious things you should just deal with. For example, if your neighbors are shooting guns from time to time, then you should move away. If possible, do not live there; go somewhere else. There are basic factors that we need to satisfy in order to practice, such as having a safe place. But in most cases, the things that irritate us are simply irritating. They are really not going to hurt us, they just bother us. They provide a great chance to develop equanimity, to learn to accept it.
I traveled in India. While I was there, many times I saw people sleeping in streets while cars raced by. I saw people sleeping on piles of gravel. I could not even sit there for a moment because it would be so uncomfortable, yet they were sleeping there very comfortably. So, it is possible to adapt to your circumstances. I am not saying that you should spend your time trying to learn to do that, but it expresses a principle of psychology, which is that much of what we think we need we really do not. It is psychological. Many people think they can only meditate on a particular cushion in a certain room at a certain time of day with a certain music playing and a certain incense and everything has to be exactly right, and then they can meditate. This is wrong. A real master of meditation can meditate anywhere, anytime, even while the physical body is awake, active, and talking. Samael Aun Weor is such a master, and there are others who can be talking to you, dealing with you, looking like a normal person, but psychologically, inside, they are in Samadhi. This is not something unique to that person or that there is something inherently special about them. They have simply reached that level, and any of us can do it. That is part of the natural beauty of the consciousness.
So, learn to accept the unpleasant manifestations of your fellow men with gratitude. If your neighbors are noisy, if your legs are hurting, your back is hurting, oftentimes you will find that if you just ignore it, being aware of it but you not really put a lot of attention into it, after a few minutes the pain is gone (and you thought you were going to die). I have had that experience many times. While meditating, I have felt a huge pain in my back or my neck and I have become very uncomfortable, but I just kept relaxing, relaxing, and a little while later I realize, "Where did that go? I thought I was going to have to go to the hospital, and now there is nothing there." It was my mind, Cain, trying to get me to stop meditating.
Instructor: What I would say is, the fact is that we are nothing. Our goal is to realize it. We think we are something; we really think we are special. We think a lot of things about ourselves that have no truth. When we realize our true nature, we realize that really we are nothing. To our ego this sounds horrible, like, "That is a terrible thing to say, how can you say that? We're all children of God, we are all beauty, this and that." But the truth is, this body is mostly empty space, and so are all the other bodies, and this self we have is temporal and illusory. The real self is empty of self-nature, but it is beautiful. That true self is pure love. Our "I" cannot comprehend this. When we experience that emptiness of self, then we can understand it, and then we have had Gnosis. When we have experienced what the real self is, a selfless self, then we know something of Gnosis, and then we have a great power to help us overcome the ego and the self-delusion we have made.
The goal is, yes, to become empty. A fully developed Bodhisattva is empty. In a fully developed Bodhisattva, there is no "I", there is only love (Christ, Avalokitesvara). A fully developed Bodhisattva does nothing for themselves and only for others. There is no "I" there, but there is God. Not that imaginary creator God on a throne, but Kether, the Dharmakaya, the Buddha, fully developed. That level does not have an "I", and as we have explained in a previous lecture about the types of personality, the Being has a solar personality, but it does not have "I". It is a kind of love or a kind of supra-individuality that is beyond any concept that we could have about self. It is real, it is alive, but it is not individuality in the way we think of it; it is beyond individuality. It is individuality, perfected.
Yes, that is our goal: to become a vessel for that. You see, we think we are something, but really we are nothing. When we eliminate that ignorance and comprehend that we are nothing, we become truly empty, and then God can fill us with light. We become nothing in context of ego, but we become something for the first time. Because while we are the way we are now, we are nothing. We think we have a big self and a big "I", but it is nothing. It belongs to the abyss; it will decay and be destroyed. In the end of that, we have nothing real. But when we become nothing, psychologically, spiritually, then we really become something. The intellect doesn't like this, but it is the truth.
Audience: I don't know if I heard you correctly, did you say that you have to leave your body in order to enter Samadhi?
Instructor: I stated, yes, that you have to leave your body to enter Samadhi fully, yes.
Audience: Ok, then I understand why you need to leave your body to understand the ego at every level, but since form is emptiness and emptiness is form, why would Samadhi depend upon excluding the physical sensations?
Instructor: The consciousness can be in the body and experience Samadhi, but not while it is attached to the body. The consciousness has to be free of that attachment, and that is when I say it has to be "out," it means out from attachment; free of the attachment. You can experience Samadhi in your physical body, even while you are physically active; this is possible if you have the skill to do it, but that skill depends on not having attachment to the body.
Audience: What is the importance of working on the heart chakra with the 'O' vowel and concentration practice in relation to meditation?
Instructor: In order for us to develop the skill of meditation, there are many tools that we use. Mantras are a very significant set of tools. Another significant tool is Pranayama. Both of these activities harness and deliver energy. As we are now in our physical bodies, our Abel, or our soul, is here in the body, but asleep and trapped. We use these energies and forces in order to provide energy to the consciousness. Pranayama and transmutation provide enormous fuel if we give it to the consciousness. Mantras provide an enormous fuel also, and depending on the mantra, it has different effects. The vowel 'O' stimulates the heart, and the heart is intimately related with intuition and comprehension. But we also have many other mantras and vowels that we use to stimulate the chakras or energetic centers, and also the different bodies or the blood or the mind or the brain. In synthesis, all of them have one purpose: to give us energy to be awake. The quicker you learn that, the quicker you can go beyond them. Meaning, many people learn mantras and sit and do repetitions of mantras. In foundational level or Shravakayana schools, such as Kriya Yoga and many of the other introductory Yogas, they learn mantra repetition (Japa) in order to stimulate and create energies, but they do not learn how to use them. We find that in the Gnostic tradition also, people who do regular mantra repetition, but do not know how to use that energy. They do not awaken their consciousness with meditation or self-observation. They just do a lot of mantra repetition. Mantra repetition is good, but unless you know how to harness the energy that is being generated, it could actually hurt you, because you could be giving that energy to your ego. For example, there are people who learn to transmute or vocalize mantras, and then they take all that energy and go out of their school or home and act like idiots, wasting all that energy or feeding their desires. This is very common. So those practices are important, but have to be used wisely. In other words, when you learn to do a mantra, do it consciously, with awareness of what you are doing. While you are vocalizing or meditating on a mantra, do not think about your dog or your homework or that girl you saw or that dress you want to buy, because you are wasting your time. When you are doing your vocalization, pranayamas, runes, Tibetan exercises, or any spiritual practice, you need to be fully aware of yourself, remembering yourself, so that energy will feed your consciousness. If you are distracted, all that energy is going to waste. At best, you are just dispersing it into the atmosphere, and at worst, you are feeding your ego. So be careful: use them well, they are very powerful tools, and they can help you a lot, but use them consciously. Do not be mechanical.
Audience: What do you say about the blue time therapeutics that the master talks about in The Revolution of the Dialectic?
Instructor: Yes, the chapter Blue Time or Rest Therapeutics is exactly what I'm talking about in the whole lecture today. It is exactly that. If you study that chapter you will get what I'm trying to explain. I am not as good at explaining it as he is. Samael Aun Weor is a master. I am just a fool. That chapter is beautiful. Also read the chapters Revolution of Meditation and The Dominion of the Mind in The Revolution of the Dialectic. The whole book explains what I am talking about today. But that book is intimidating, it as very deep.
Audience: Is Samadhi the same as receiving information in meditation?
Instructor: Well, yes and no. Receiving information in meditation begins the instant you pay attention to yourself. That is where it starts. Comprehension starts as soon as you become aware of yourself. In that instant, you realize that you are not paying attention and you need to pay attention: that is comprehension. Then, as you observe your tension, anger or fear, you learn about it. That is information; that is why we meditate. Do not think that "information" is just being taken out of your body into the Himalayan mountains and being shown ancient texts or having ancient secrets revealed to you - yes, such experiences are great, but they are not going to fundamentally change your suffering. What is going to change your suffering is learning about your ego, learning about your personality, your tendencies, your habits. Comprehension begins there.
Samadhi is a state of consciousness where your ego no longer traps you. When the consciousness is completely out of the ego, that is Samadhi. When the consciousness is awake and has no obscuration, that is Samadhi. That is why I am saying it can happen in your physical body. It is dependent only on the consciousness being free of the ego. So you can have Samadhi in your physical body, your vital body, your astral body, mental body, causal body, Buddhic body, Atmic body, and beyond. But one speck of dust of desire prevents it.
Audience: What is a good way to utilize our transmuted energies consciously?
Instructor: A good way to use your transmuted energies consciously is to remember yourself. Be in a constant state of inner watchfulness. That is the one hundred percent best thing to do. Beyond that, do what you want. Do your will. Live how you must live. You have to follow the guidance of your Being. No one is here to tell you what to do. No school, no teacher, no anyone can tell you "You have to behave like this and that, and imitate this person and be like..." No. Be yourself, be who you are, but be cognizant of that, and that will use those energies effectively and give you great serenity.
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