This is a transcription of the audio lecture Path of Initiation 04 Art of the Initiate originally given live on Gnostic Radio, which you can download for free.
In ancient times, all of the knowledge that was taught to humanity was presented in an integral way, in an integrated form. It is only in modern times, very recent times, that humanity has developed the tendency or the desire to compartmentalize knowledge, or to separate forms of knowledge. In our ancient past, art, science, philosophy, and religion were taught as one - no element was separated or taught as a separate school. Amongst the Egyptians, the Persians, the Chinese, the Aztecs, all of the ancient civilizations, the great philosophers, the kings, and wise men and women always taught and spoke and wrote and delivered their teachings in a very integrated way. In modern times, we have lost that tradition.
One of the forms in which the synthesis of wisdom and knowledge was taught was through a symbol called "the cross." The cross is ubiquitous to humanity; it appears in every culture. The cross has four hands or limbs that stretch out from a central point. The central point in the context of this lecture is the synthesis, is the combination, the unification of all the elements of wisdom and knowledge. So if we were to examine the breadth and scope of all of human knowledge and wisdom, we would say it is synthesized in the heart of this cross, but its four major parts would be:
If you have been listening to the lectures and studying the books of Gnosis, you have undoubtedly recognized that Gnosis teaches religion, that Gnosis teaches philosophy, and Gnosis teaches science. But what about art? This concept or aspect of the teaching, the art of Gnosis, somehow manages to elude some students and instructors.
When we look at these four pillars, these four primary aspects of the ancient wisdom of humanity, we can see that art is the means to express the other three. Art is the way to communicate, the way to see, the way to experience, the way to touch, to taste, to ingest, to deliver, to reflect the religion, the philosophy and the science. So, art is the method. The other three - the religion, the philosophy and the science - are the wisdom itself while the art is the method. These are the two primary aspects of Buddhism: Method and Wisdom. It is the union of method and wisdom that produces the awakening of the consciousness, the birth of the Buddha inside.
So as students, when we come to study this tradition or something related to it, we study the religion, the philosophy, and the science through books, through lectures; but, we would study the art through practice because that art is internal, it is the art of consciousness, the art of awakening.
Art is the act of creation. Of course, we all know that art is creative. The nature of creativity is to give birth to something new, to create, to bring life, to bring something of great beauty into the world. But that creation - that art - is supported and informed by the religion, the philosophy, and the science. Without those three other pillars, art remains empty, devoid of form, meaning, or effectiveness.
As students of Gnosis, students of knowledge, it is necessary for us to have a good, firm, solid understanding of the religion, the philosophy and the science, and only in that way can we activate the art, can we actually create, to create something inside of ourselves, create as a consciousness, as a soul, as a mind, as a heart.
Each of these pillars contains the others. They cannot be fully separated. We isolate them for matters of explanation in order to explore and understand the way the teaching works. But in reality, they are all one. This is one reason why we study the symbol of the cross.
Creation is a sacred act. To create something, to give birth, is always something very sacred and holy. The force that gives us the capacity to create is our very life. This is the very existence that we have, and that life is sacred. The energy that gives us the capacity to create is sacred. It is the direct connection that we have to God. This energy that descends down the Tree of Life as the Ray of Creation is the force (the life force) which makes creation possible in all the levels of nature, in all the dimensions, and we have that creative potential, that creative power, within us, in our psyche, in our mind, in our heart, but most especially in our sexuality.
In our sexuality, we have the power to create life, to bring life onto the world, and this is a very sacred power. But that same potential to create a new physical body, to give birth to a child, is the same energy that gives us the capacity to create with the mind and heart. It is the same energy that fuels our psyche.
Beauty - The Highest Ideal
In the genuine Gnostic tradition-in ancient Egypt, Greece, Mexico, wherever you find the ancient Gnostic tradition-you always find that the highest ideal is beauty. Beauty in Hebrew is Tiphereth, and is found on the Tree of Life (Kabbalah); beauty is related with the Human Soul. This sphere on the Tree of Life (Tiphereth) corresponds directly to our Human Soul, to our human consciousness, and is that which gives us real value, gives us the capacity to be alive. It is the essence, the very nature of our soul. It is with beauty that the soul is developed - by the influence, by the effect, by the development and cultivation of beauty. So, this is the great art: the Great Work. The greatest art is the cultivation of the beauty of the Human Soul - of Tiphereth.
When we look at creation as a whole, we see that the highest form of cognizant life in our particular level is the humanoid - each one of us. We are the potential from which the highest beauty can emerge, and we know from our traditions and throughout our histories that certain human beings have risen, have manifested that great beauty, and have inspired millions because they fully realized the potential of their own consciousness. We can look to many examples of great human beings who, without concern for anything other than the highest ideal, developed that ideal in themselves.
Beauty in itself is the influence or force that is essential for the unfolding of the human consciousness. This is something that Plotinus described in detail in his philosophy-the importance of beauty for the development of the Soul-and it was recognized by all ancient philosophers that communities or civilizations within which beauty was highly respected and cultivated, in turn developed highly developed individuals. Cultures that have held beauty as their ideal and worked for beauty in all works of architecture, music, painting, philosophy, religion, and other sciences - those are the same civilizations that produced the greatest people in history.
On the contrary, those civilizations that celebrated discord, chaos, lust, pride, anger, or avarice produced the worst of humanity. This is cause for us to reflect deeply upon our own civilization, this modern humanity. What do we celebrate and strive for? What is the ideal of our culture?
We can see that the influence of beauty-whether divine beauty or tenebrous beauty-is deeply profound. This is why in the Gnostic tradition we always emphasize and recommend that the students should listen to beautiful music, should surround themselves with beautiful art, should cultivate the fine arts, develop an understanding of the principles of beauty in art.
All physical forms reflect their origin. Our physical body reflects its own origin. Our physical body contains the marks, the influences of our parents - this is inescapable. Our physical form contains the marks and influences of the environment that we came from. So, in that simple way you can see that the forces that surround us, the forces that give rise to creation, make a lasting impact.
Going forward, we should reflect on this, and realize that the things that we do, the things that we say, the things that we cultivate in our lives, produce something; in each action we perform, we create. We create through our thoughts, through our feelings, and through our actions. But are we creating according to our high ideal of beauty, or are we creating in accordance with the longings of the ego - the longings of our greed or pride?
We, ourselves, are a form of art, but who is creating that art? Who is the artist? Who, in us, are we giving the energy, the power, to create our mind, to create our soul? This is the fundamental question.
The process of creation is unfolding from moment to moment. Our birth in the physical world was just the beginning of a single chapter in our development. The process of creation is ongoing. The energies in us that give the capacity to create are flowing in us constantly, from moment to moment, and we, by our will, utilize that energy. So, who in us is making us what we will be?
As a human being, we have the ability to become the ultimate art, highest art. The purpose of life is to become a perfect human being, to become a perfect form of art, a perfect reflection of our creator.
When you look at any great work of art, what you see there is a reflection of the consciousness of the one who made it. When you observe a Greek sculpture, or you listen to one of the great symphonies, or you see one of the ancient beautiful paintings of the past times, or for example the Pyramids of Egypt, what you see in those dazzling, beautiful creations is the consciousness of the one who created it.
In this way, we can see very clearly the difference between our modern culture and the ones from ancient past -in those ancient civilizations, beauty as the ideal, virtue as the ideal, become embodied in their many forms of art. We see that virtuous beauty is celebrated in ancient art, and we see how much longevity there is in those forms of creation, whether it is architecture, or sculpture, writing, poems, plays.
Throughout the history of art, the human being is always the central topic, not only because the human being is the greatest mystery, but because the heart of that mystery is that we have the potential to become real, complete human beings; all the ancient artists knew that the human being contains the potential to become the highest ideal of creation - to become a Buddha, a Paramarthasatya, a Dharmakaya, to become that perfected mind - the embodiment of love, the embodiment of all highest ideals. This is why art has always in past times reflected that perfection. The source or foundation of that perfection is Tiphereth, the human soul.
In the Bible is an interesting story about the process of creating the perfect human being. It is a story in the book of Kings, and the details that are written in this story in the Bible are sometimes scanty, somewhat un-clarified. But that story of King David and his son King Solomon and the building of the Temple of Solomon was taken and elaborated upon by the Freemasons who have as their core mythology the story of Hiram Abiff.
Solomon and Hiram Abiff
The story goes that when David, the King of Israel, passed his kingdom to his son Solomon, Solomon needed to develop - he needed a house.
1 And Solomon made affinity with Pharaoh king of Egypt, and took Pharaoh's daughter, and brought her into the city of David, until he had made an end of building his own house, and the house of the LORD, and the wall of Jerusalem round about.
2 Only the people sacrificed in high places, because there was no house [temple] built unto the name of the LORD, until those days.
3 And Solomon loved the LORD, walking in the statutes of David his father: only he sacrificed and burnt incense in high places. - 1 Kings 3:1-3
So, Solomon built his house, and this is symbolic of building the first stage of the Soul.
Solomon is a term or a phrase that hides "Solar Man" (sol-o-mon) which is a real human being, a person who has created the solar bodies, the vehicles of the Soul. The solar bodies are depicted in the Tree of Life.
- solar mental body
- solar astral body
- solar causal body or body of will
Solomon represents an initiate; he represents someone who has been initiated into the mysteries and has developed a certain degree of soul. But Solomon himself is actually our Monad, the owner of those bodies, our own Inner Buddha, our own Inner Spirit, Chesed. Chesed is our Spirit. In Hinduism, he is called Atman. In the sacred Tarot, he is The Magician - the First Arcanum.
The Magician is the Magi, the Priest, the Lama, the one who has all the wisdom, all the knowledge, the one who has the power to create. And, of course, if you know anything about Jewish or Christian history, you know that Solomon was a great magician, a great priest, and had great powers and wisdom.
In the process of building his house, it says in the Bible that Solomon loved the Lord and walked in the statutes of David, his father. This means that Solomon, our own Inner Buddha, obeys the laws of creation; he follows the Laws of the Lord, the Elohim, the great divine laws of karma (cause and effect) and other laws that manage creation. Yet he, Solomon in the story, is not fully developed - he has reached Tiphereth (Beauty), which is the development of the Human Soul, and when this process is accomplished, this means that the Human Soul, the human consciousness, does the will of the Inner Spirit, follows the will of God, meaning that the Soul, that person, has learned how to do what is right, to know the difference between the ego and the consciousness, to know the difference between following the impulses of desire and following the impulses of the consciousness, the Spirit, that which knows.
At this point in the story, it says in the Bible:
In Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, "Ask what I shall give thee." - 1 Kings 3:5
And Solomon answered,
"O LORD my God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father: and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in." - 1 Kings 3:7
Solomon, symbolizing the Innermost, the Inner Buddha, recognized that he is but a child, a beginner, even having developed Soul and having developed all that magical power and wisdom - he is a child. Then he said:
"Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?" - 1 Kings 3:5
What he asked for was wisdom. He did not ask for riches, for fame, for glory - he asked for wisdom.
The meaning there is very significant. Wisdom in Hebrew is Chokmah. Chokmah appears at the second Sephirah on the Tree of Life. Chokmah means wisdom, the same as Buddhi in Sanskrit. When he asks for that, this is symbolic of the Innermost (Chesed) asking to become a Bodhisattva, to incarnate Bodhi or Wisdom, to move beyond the stage of Tiphereth and to enter into the Path of the Bodhisattva: the Straight Path, the Direct Path - to become That, to become a mirror or incarnation of light.
The Lord agreed, and then He sends Hiram Abiff to assist Solomon in the building of the temple. So, you see: Solomon built his house first, which is the Soul, but then he has to build the temple, which is the full development of the Soul. The temple of Solomon is symbolic of the full development of our consciousness.
Hiram Abiff is the great architect who organizes the construction of the temple, and when we look at the word Hiram in Hebrew, we get some clues as to the meaning of these symbols.
- The first letter in his name is ח cheth which relates to life: ‘chama' ‘chaim' - this is the life force of the Sun, the solar light, the fire of the Kundalini. It is that fire which must be raised up the spinal column in order to illuminate the temple and give it life.
- The second letter is י iod/yod, which symbolizes the masculine sexual potency.
- The third letter is ר resh, which symbolizes the head, the mount which that fire must reach in the development of the temple.
- The last letter is מ mem, which represents the waters from which the wood is delivered to the temple - the sexual waters, waters of creation.
The name Hiram contains all this hidden symbolism and indicates and points to the Christ.
This whole story is an allegory of how we need to raise the sacred fire of cheth up our spinal column into the head. That process is the process of initiation. That fire, that light is extracted from the water, from mem, and that is done by the means of the great Art of the Initiate - through creation.
The fire of Christ is pulled out of the waters by means of Tantra, by means of transmutation. When we place our human consciousness, our human willpower, as the dominator, the controller of our energy, then we harness the sexual force, all of the energies within, and deliver that energy up the spine in order to awaken the Kundalini of all of the seven bodies - the seven serpents. In that way the energy rises and saturates the head, where the pineal gland is, and the pineal gland when it is awakened is the Eye of the Shiva, the Eye of the Prophet, the Third Eye - the source of clairvoyance. This is how we take from the Soma or the Ambrosia, the Amrita, the Sacred Nectar of the Gods - sexual energy, the power of creation - and we create the Soul, we create the Temple. This is done when we know the science, the philosophy and the religion, and in this way we can perform the art of transmutation - the art of transforming of that which is base and low and inferior into that which is Divine.
Hiram Abiff, in the tradition, is a great master of all the arts and crafts, like Hermes, or Padmsambhava - he is a master of all the sciences, a master of astrology, of construction, of art, of embroidery, of sculpture, of music. All of the ancient sciences were unified as one work, and Hiram Abiff was a master of that. Hiram Abiff comes as the architect of the temple. So in this sense, we see Hiram Abiff symbolizes the Christ - the Christ who is born in the ‘manger of the Soul' of Solomon, who comes to build the temple of the Lord. This is in the same way that when Padmsambhava arrived into Tibet in order to build the great monasteries, the great temples of Tibetan Buddhism; it is the same symbolism.
We can see that the story of the temple in the Bible and in masonry is symbolic when we look in The New Testament where Paul says,
...every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.
For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building.
According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.
For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;
Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is.
If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.
If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.
Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are. - 1 Corinthians 3
Construction of the Temple
The complete story of CHiram Abiff and the construction of the temple is very detailed and contains many initiatic symbols, the depth of which is too extensive for this lecture. You can learn more about it by studying the Appendices of the Glorian edition of Tarot and Kabbalah. In this lecture we will only investigate certain aspects of the story.
We read in the Bible and in the Masonic tradition that the temple is built out of cedar and pine, two precious forms of wood, and adorned with gold and silver and all manner of jewels; all of this is symbolic.
"According to the ancient Rabbins, Solomon was an initiate of the Mystery schools and the temple which he built was actually a house of initiation containing amass of pagan philosophic and phallic emblems. The pomegranates, the palm-headed columns, the Pillars before the door, the Babylonian cherubim, and the arrangement of the chambers and draperies all indicate the temple to have been patterned after the sanctuaries of Egypt and Atlantis." - The Secret Teachings of All Ages (1928), Manly P. Hall
So Hiram sent word to Solomon: "I have received the message you sent me and will do all you want in providing the cedar and pine logs. My men will haul them down from Lebanon to the sea, and I will float them in rafts by sea to the place you specify. - 1 Kings 5:9
The pine and cedar logs Hiram had brought across the waters they were delivered across the waters and delivered to the mount of the temple, which is a great hill. The mount symbolizes our head. This is the mount upon which the temple is constructed. This is where we find the pineal gland, the ruler over our endocrine system, and the source of the living waters that feed the Tree of Life.
All of the parts of the temple - the stones, the wood, the gold - everything was crafted away from the location of the temple itself, because the temple had to be constructed in silence.
In building the temple, only blocks dressed at the quarry were used, and no hammer, chisel or any other iron tool was heard at the temple site while it was being built. - 1 Kings 6:7
All the parts were built elsewhere and brought to the Temple Mount and assembled in absolute silence. This is symbolic, naturally, and we will discuss it shortly.
The inside of the temple was cedar, carved with gourds and open flowers. Everything was cedar; no stone was to be seen.
He prepared the inner sanctuary within the temple to set the ark of the covenant of the LORD there.
The inner sanctuary was twenty cubits long, twenty wide and twenty high.
He overlaid the inside with pure gold, and he also overlaid the altar of cedar. - 1 Kings 6:18-20
It is highly significant that the inner sanctuary that housed the Ark(anum) measured twenty cubits square. For this, we must refer to the Arcanum Twenty: Resurrection. The Hebrew letter Reish (contained in CHiram) is the twentieth letter of the alphabet and symbolizes the head, where we house our pineal gland and need to bring the fire to.
Furthermore, in the center of the temple was the cubic stone, the perfect cube which has nine faces, and that nine-faced cube relates to the Ninth Sphere - Yesod, the ninth sephirah of Kabbalah. If we place the Tree of Life over the body of a human being we see that Yesod sits directly over the sexual organs. So, the holiest of holiest, the most holy part of the Temple of Solomon, relates to sex.
According to tradition the temple stood in place for thirty-three years. This is the same amount of time that David ruled as king, the same number of segments that we have in our spine, the same number of degrees in Masonry, and the same number of years that Jesus lived. The number thirty-three is symbolic and points to our spinal column, which is the central column of the temple. The spinal column is where the temple is built. Upon the top of the spine sits our head, which is the Mount, and that head on the Tree of Life is the Logos, the Lord, the Dharmakaya, the Trikaya.
Cedar and Pine Trees
We see that the types of wood have significance here. The two types of wood mentioned repeatedly in the story are cedar and pine. This is because the energy, the consciousness that is behind those plants, has direct relationships to the processes of initiations.
Cedar is used in the temple construction because of its sacred nature. Cedar is the wood used on all the doors of the temples.
This is because the Angel of the Cedar is related to the door - the chakra Muladhara, which is at the base of the spine - and it is through the doorway that the fire must enter into the channel of the spine, through that door of the cedar tree, the symbol of the chakra Muladhara. That is why all the temples have doors of cedar. We enter into the Temple of God thorough the proper use of sexual energy, through the door of the cedar in ourselves. Samael Aun Weor wrote of this in Igneous Rose:
The inferior orifice of our spinal medulla is the door of our ardent furnace.
The guardian of this door is the Angel who governs all the elementals of the cedars.
All the doors of the temples are made with the wood of the cedar.
“Open thy doors, o Lebanon, that the fire may devour thy cedars.” - Zechariah 11:12
When that fire rises up the spinal column, when we surpass all the difficulties of the construction and that fire enters into the head or the mount, it inflames and invigorates the pineal gland. The word ‘pineal' comes from ‘pine' - the pine-gland. The pine tree has an esoteric relationship with the mind, and this is part of the reason why monasteries and places of meditation are often built in environments with cedar and pine trees - because these trees have an influence on our inner development; the intelligence of these trees, the powers of these trees.
The pineal gland is in the center of the brain, and thus is at the top of the spinal column: this is why the priests and prophets carry staves topped by a pine cone.
When the pineal gland is saturated with light, with this fire of Hiram, of Christ, that eye opens and pineal gland is inflamed - clairvoyance is born. This is why in all the world's traditions we see the saints with halo of light around their heads, and that halo is the transmuted sexual energy which is illuminating the pineal gland and filling them with light, giving them the capacity to see with this third eye - the pineal gland.
That is the great source of all of the world's most spectacular art: the window of the third eye. The great prophets have made their prophecies, the great artists have composed their paintings, the great musicians have composed their symphonies because they saw them first through the use of their imagination: by means of the pineal gland.
The pine tree is also where we get the tradition of the Christmas tree. The Christmas tree is a symbol of the Tree of Life - the Kabbalah; and we always see in the western tradition how the Christmas tree is decorated with lights and usually has a star on top or an angel, and this is symbolic of how that fire rises up the tree and illuminates all its parts, with the little lights or candles that are placed on the tree, till reaching its ultimate expression at the very peak, which is our own inner star, our own inner angel.
If you look into ancient Egyptian scriptures, you will see that the deceased are enter into the Hall of Judgment with a pine cone on their heads - this is because the deceased in The Book of the Dead of the Egyptians are deceased psychologically, have killed the ego and have developed the pine cone, which is the pineal gland. And, actually the shape of the pineal gland is roughly similar to a pine cone.
Organization of the Workers
When Hiram came he organized all the workers to build the temple in three groups according to their capacities. He organized them as:
- the apprentices (beginners)
- the craftsmen or Journeymen (skilled workers)
- the Masters (the highest level; the overseers)
He organized all the workers in the temple in this way so that everyone could fulfill their duties to the best of their ability and no one would fall short. These symbolize the three degrees of initiation into the Gnostic Church.
But, unfortunately, there were three craftsmen who felt they deserved the title of Master, and so they plotted to force Hiram, the architect, to reveal to them the passwords- the secret knowledge of the Masters. So, they confronted, ambushed, and killed Hiram Abiff in the temple.
These three craftsmen symbolize the three traitors within ourselves, the three traitors in us:
- the demon of the mind
- the demon of desire
- the demon of evil will
These are symbolized in Buddhism by the three daughters of Mara. These are the three traitors in our own psyche who plot to kill the Soul, to kill the Christ, to undo the work of the Temple. Why? Because of pride. Because of envy.
Envy is the secret trigger of evil action. Envy is that psychological quality which desires to have what someone else has. When we see someone who is successful and we want that for ourselves, that is envy. And that is ego. Envy causes harm. Envy is the great destroyer of art. Envy destroyed the temple. Envy destroyed Rome, destroyed the Aztecs, destroyed all the great civilizations. Envy and fear and pride and lust: all of these qualities which make up that horrible creature called the ego.
Fear is closely related to envy; we envy what someone else has because of fear. In many cases when we feel that we do not have something that we need, usually it is because we are afraid of something else. For example, we see a rich person and envy the wealth because we are afraid of poverty or we are afraid of illness or we are afraid of any number of different circumstances that we imagine. So, fear and envy, you can see, work very closely together.
It is important for us to be very aware of how these three traitors interfere with the construction of our own temple because they always try to interfere. The way we overcome them is by applying the method that Hiram Abiff used, which is to build the temple in silence: in meditation.
When we work in meditation, when we maintain silence in the temple grounds, then we have the capacity to always be aware and watching when the three traitors approach - we will hear them, we will see them, we will sense them. But if we do not meditate, if we do not keep our mind in a state of serenity, in a state of watchfulness, then it is very easy for the three traitors to overcome us. It is very easy for our envy, for our pride, our lust, our fear and any of those other elements in our own mind, to take over in order to feed themselves.
The creation of the soul, the creation of the temple, takes a lot of courage. We have to be fearless, to do our will, to do the will of God, the will of our Inner Buddha - not the will of the envy, not the will of the pride, not the will of fear, but to do what is right.
We have to always do what is right, even though it is scary, even though it looks impossible, even though it looks like we are crazy.
We have to always reflect on this: we do not know our inner capacities, because we do not know our Being. We do not know what we can or cannot do, because we do not even know ourselves. Instead, we listen to fear which always tells us, "You need to go get a good job and make money," or "You need to find a good husband (or a good wife) to have security," or "You need to be respected," or "You need this material good or circumstance of life..." All of these are excuses, desires, lies. Fear is the great enemy, envy is the great enemy, pride is the great enemy. But the greatest amongst them is lust.
If Samael Aun Weor had listened to his fear, we would not have these teachings. If Gandhi had listened to his fear, India would still be in ruins. If Jesus had listened to his fear, or Buddha, any of these great human beings, Joan of Arc, George Washington - they would not have been able to accomplish their work. So, it is important for us in our own lives to build the temple of our soul by doing that what is right.
High and Low Art
We need to understand that art, like the other aspects of the teaching, is a polarity. Like the consciousness itself, like most things in nature, art has a duality. There is high art and there is low art, and there are many degrees between.
The highest forms of art are forms of creation which bring high ideals into form, into matter, which create and elaborate something higher and bring that into existence. We can see this in the philosophy of Buddha, in the architecture of the Egyptians, in the language of the Chinese. We can see that there are hints and elements that are aspects of these forms of art that are very high, that are very beautiful.
If we look at the symphonies of Beethoven, we can see and taste and experience harmony, structure, and musical laws that are beyond the capacity of our intellect to understand. Within that music there is clearly a structure; there is clearly a principle; there are clearly laws that are very high; and yet, it is so natural, so ecstatic, and sounds so spontaneous. That is what we would call genuine art, real art.
But we also have degenerated, low art, and these are forms of creation that bring what is inferior into manifestation. Low art is very common now. These forms of art celebrate and feed and develop the ego. These are forms of art that celebrate discord, chaos, lack of harmony, lack of beauty, lack of virtue - the celebration of greed, the celebration of avarice, of lust, of gluttony. So, when we look at what we in these times call art, this is what we generally find.
People say now that movies are the great art of these times. But what is celebrated in the movies that are made these days? Lust, violence. Who are the great heroes of our movies? Criminals, gangsters, killers, murderers, people who are sexually depraved, people who are greedy and hateful, people who commit acts that are criminal. The rest are about grotesque crimes, sexual depravity, and hateful sarcasm. And we celebrate that in our movies, television, magazines, music, and books.
Some believe the internet will herald the birth a new art form: but the single most prevalent force driving the internet is pornography. What beauty can come from bestial, animal, filthy lust? The only thing that pornography can create are degenerated, depraved individuals seeking stimulation in ever-more extreme sexual perversion; pornography can only create sexually impotent men, sexually wasted women, dried up old carcasses drained of all strength from too much fornication, who desperately take expensive chemicals to "enhance" their sex life. These - and worse - are the most common creations or works of "art" resulting from the internet.
The forms of art that we observe and ingest through the senses have a profound influence on the construction of our own temple. When we are observing art, when we are taking these elements into our psyche, these are the materials with which we work. We ingest them, we digest them, they become part of us. So when we take in influences that celebrate lust, violence, and greed, what will be the result? Can you build a beautiful temple out of rubbish? Can you build a beautiful soul from trash?
We can see this especially in the relations between a man and a woman. It is there between a man and a woman that the power of creation is most profound. Physically, it is obvious that a man and a woman can create a new physical body, that a man and woman have that singular power to create a new life, but it is also between a man and woman that the soul is created - this is the only way to give birth to anything! But that man and woman create according to the nature of their consciousness, create according to the nature of their mind. So, what would be the result of the creation that they elaborate if in their mind they perpetuate vice? If they allow fear to dominate their mind, or lust, or greed? What would be the result of that creation?
In these times, what we see is that instead of celebrating the ideals of virtue, the ideals of consciousness, men are celebrated as beasts. In our culture and our world traditions now, our movies, television, books, our cultural values celebrate man as an animal: as lustful, as violent. And we like it - we celebrate that: that a man has the right to be a beast, should revel in filth (like pornography or guns and killing), should be covered with dirt and the blood of "the bad guys." We think a real man is an expert at fulfilling his greed, has the right to be lustful, has the right to be violent against anyone who he does not like, should be cunning, greedy. The ideal of a man in these times is that he should be a money-making machine who will step over anyone and crush all those who oppose him. These are very low ideals. These are very far from the masculine virtue or beauty of the ancient cultures.
The ideal of a woman in these times is equally bad. In these times, we do not celebrate the natural beauty of a woman or the virtuous qualities of woman; in these times, we want women to dress, adorn themselves, and paint themselves like prostitutes. Our culture celebrates the idea of a woman being a whore, having no prudence, no chastity. We celebrate the idea of a woman being very foul, with the grotesque list of a harpy, and this is very sad. We see nowadays that very young girls dress like prostitutes, wearing makeup and revealing clothes, having lost even their childhood because of the influence of this very low ideal of a woman.
What we see in our contemporary ideas of a man and woman is that our cultural values are very low. They are the celebration of lust, of greed, of pride. A man wants a woman who will satisfy his lust and a woman wants a man who will satisfy her fear and envy. And this is sad. The result is marriages and homes that are true hells. The truth is that lust is never satisfied, fear is never satisfied, envy is never satisfied. As soon as the spouse fails to satisfy the lust of their partner, that partner will leave and find someone else who will - and sometimes they find someone of the same sex. As soon as one partner is no longer satisfied with their fear, or envy, or greed for money, they will leave and find someone who will satisfy their fear and greed and envy. This is because real love is no longer cultivated and appreciated. What we want is security, to look good to others, material goods, and sexual satisfaction. And that is all!
Children are inheriting all of these unfortunate influences. Our children now are becoming more and more rebellious, more and more lazy, more and more spoiled, and more and more degenerated. If you have stepped into a school in recent times, you will see how different it is from when you were a child, and how shocking it is. Children curse like filthy criminals and taunt each other with sexual innuendos. Children play with sex, drugs, and alcohol instead of dolls and blocks. Children kill children. Children kill adults. All of this is happening because the adults are allowing it to happen, because the adults are producing the causes culturally, psychologically, artistically, and politically.
What is expressed now in our culture is no longer the love of beauty, the aesthetic of grace and harmony, and the aesthetic of the cultivation of high ideals. Instead, in our art, architecture, crafts, and storytelling, we celebrate greed - we want things cheaper and faster, and that is all. Our art in theses times is all about making money, about celebrating our anger, about celebrating our fear.
Cultivating the Arts
In these times, most people do not cultivate an art. In ancient times, everybody cultivated the arts; everyone played music, practiced painting or calligraphy, masonry, or gardening. Nowadays, if you cannot make money doing it, people do not do it. And this is sad, because this has an impact on the development on the consciousness.
All of the great initiates have cultivated the fine arts. Samael Aun Weor stated this in Aztec Christic Magic.
The fine arts are intimately related to the cultivation of the beauty (Tiphereth) of human souls, and that is why Gnosis is emphasizes that we need to live artfully, to live creatively from moment to moment, and this cannot be done by imitation.
We cannot learn about Gnosis, or become the temple that we should become if we are imitating others. Each of us has our own unique consciousness, our own unique Being who has unique gifts, qualities, and powers - that is what we need to embody. Imitation does not lead to that. We cannot realize our own Being by imitating someone else.
When we are seeking to realize the art of Gnosis, it is an art of the individual human soul, but it is based on principles; it is not something you can make up. Remember the four pillars - that art is an expression of the religion, the philosophy, and the science. That is all the wisdom. Art is the method to accomplish what the wisdom inspires.
Beethoven, for example, is a great master who demonstrated his mastery of the principles of art; he mastered all of the scientific principles of music, and he expressed that through his art. He did not abandon the principles, the science, the philosophy, the religion - he mastered them, and in a way that very artfully expressed his own Inner Being.
There is only one Beethoven. There is only one Richard Wagner. There is only one Buddha. There is only one Dalai Lama. There is only one Guru Rinpoche [Padmasambhava]. Each of these beings mastered the science, the philosophy, and the religion, and expressed them through their own unique art.
Every one of us is the same: every one of us is an artist, a creator - we create from moment to moment by our words, by our thoughts, by our feelings, by our actions. This is the art of living well. When we learn to live artfully, consciously, then the works of our every moment become works of art. This is how we find our true vocation, our true mission in life.
For this, we need to learn to be aware of the three traitors in ourselves:
- the demon of the mind which is always reasoning and justifying itself
- the demon of desire which is always seeking sensations and satisfaction
- the demon of evil will which is always seeking to fulfill its pride
If we can learn about them in ourselves and learn to listen to the voice of our Inner Guru, we can become the artist we should be, our own unique individual art.
In this way, we can understand why all the great writers, all the great painters, all the great musicians, studied and mastered the principles of their craft and then become the great artists that they were.
Nowadays we think we should just be able to flip a switch and be a master. Mastery is not like that! It takes study, it takes practice, it takes a lot of effort. Mastery comes little by little according to our works, mastery in anything. And I would challenge you to approach any of these Masters and ask them if they feel satisfied with their own level of development; I am sure that you will find that all of them say ‘No,' and that they are all aspiring to an even higher ideal. We should do the same.
We should learn that life is our canvas; our life is where we create our art. The media that we use is our energy. If you want to be an artist, if you want to learn how to draw, you need first the surface to draw upon, and that is our paper, our canvas. Then, you need media, some kind of medium that can render the image - and that is our energy, that would be the lead of the pencil, or the pigment of paint. But that medium has to be directed, it has to be guided, it has to be put in place, and we do that with our willpower, and that is the tool: the brush, the pen, the pencil - the instrument. Thus you can see that from moment to moment, each of us is creating a piece of art, and that art is us. But what have we made so far? Have we reached illumination? Have we awakened our consciousness? Have we transcended suffering? Have we spoken with the Gods? If not, we have work to do. We need to study the Wisdom: the religion, the science, the philosophy. Then, we can begin to create our work: our soul.
Our life reflects our level of being. The nature of our life is the result of our actions, and it reveals our consciousness. If we want a better life, if we want to have a life that is more beautiful, we have to cultivate that beauty, to develop that beauty, to strengthen it, and that beauty is our Human Soul - Tiphereth. That beauty is strengthened when we extract the fire from the sexual waters and bring it up the spine to saturate our psychophysiology, and to give us the inspiration to create light.
Unfortunately, in these times, we see that people are depleted; they do not have the energy to create. They do not have the energy to live life well; this is because everyone is wasting their energy from moment to moment through all the three brains.
We waste our energy in our mind by excessively thinking.
We waste our energy through our heart by obsessively bouncing between one emotion to the next, by being identified with all of our emotions.
We waste our energy through our physical body, through over activity, overexertion, or through extreme laziness.
And we waste it most especially through sex. Humanity has failed to realize that the key of all the powers, key of all development, the birth place of the Buddha is in the waters of sexuality, so humanity wastes that energy, expels it, indulges in the orgasm, in the sexual pleasure. And when that indulging persists, that energy is being wasted, consumed by the ego repeatedly, over and over. The result is that that energy is being depleted out of the body, out of the heart, out of the mind, out of the soul. What is the case now? We age fast, we need drugs to arouse us, we need energy drinks, we need caffeine, we need stimulants. People take drugs, they take alcohol, they take whatever they can to try to build and recover the energy that they themselves are wasting! The result is: the pineal gland becomes atrophied, becomes destroyed. The endocrine system becomes destroyed, the sexual organs become destroyed, they become weak, they lack power, they lack force. So, men lose their virility, women lose their sexual drive; they lose their mental capacities, they lose their emotional sensitivities, they lose their physical energy, they decline, they age, they become sick and they die.
This is the result of the three traitors ruling in our three brains - by pulling energy and feeding themselves.
The answer is for us to begin to develop this temple for ourselves, to save our energy, to learn about the three traitors in ourselves, to observe the mind, to watch ourselves from moment to moment, to be on guard, and to moment-to-moment activate our consciousness, activate this capacity of the human soul. This is where the consciousness comes from, this is where the beauty arises - it is from the consciousness itself. When our consciousness starts to awaken, we start to perceive life in the new way - to see ourselves as we truly are, to see life as it truly is.
Little by little, this becomes our great art - the art of the consciousness: to awaken, to become a real Human Being, an embodiment of all the Divine Principles: charity, love, compassion, tolerance, endeavor, diligence, happiness for others, temperance, fortitude - all of those beautiful qualities of the Soul, the Beauty of Tiphereth. And these are the great beauties that are born in the Temple of Solomon.
When you study in the Bible, the temple is described as being made of cedar and pine, but covered with solid gold, and all matter of gems and jewels. The gold is the gold of the Alchemist who has taken the lead, the base metals, the filthy metals, and purified them, extracted the most beautiful and pure elements - this is the gold itself. And that Alchemist, that Initiate has also extracted from their own earth all the jewels, the gems of the consciousness, jewels of love, compassion and patience, tolerance, diligence. And those are the jewels and gems that adorn the temple and make it beautiful, make it House of God.
Profound reflection upon this story causes us to realize that this temple is our own mind, and if we want Avalokiteshvara, Chenresig, Christ, to inhabit the temple of our mind, we have to make it clean, we have to make it pure. How can we invite the Buddha to come and sit in room filled with filth, with the stench of fear, with the disgusting vile rotting matter of pride and lust? - and we all have that. Our own temple is vile, our own Inner Temple is impure, made filthy by our own hands.
So, the Art of the Initiate is to build the house of the Lord, to perfect it, to make a holy place in ourselves which can perfectly reflect the Light of Christ, the Light of Chenresig, the light of Tara, Sarasvati, whatever you want to call that Source of Virtue.
We begin this process now! This does not start next week when you decide you are going to take a painting class, or join a choir - these are good things to do - but the cultivation of art is how you artfully utilize your will. That is the Art of Gnosis! To utilize your willpower for the purposes of Beauty - not for money, not for fame, not because somebody told you, not because all your friends do it, or your family, or your religion, but because you know it is right. And you can only know that by awakening your consciousness, by awakening your Human Soul and coming to know your own Inner Spirit - to receive those commands directly.
This is symbolized when Moses approaches the mount and sees the burning bush and humbles himself and receives the instructions of God.
This is symbolized by the Buddha in meditation, with his mind perfectly serene, within which is reflected all the contents of the Universe, and that way he can see the truth.
Questions and Answers
Q: Can you explain to us the way we can differentiate between good and bad art? For instance, Niccolo Paganini wrote very mathematical, precise music, but it seems it was black music, right?
A: To learn about art requires that you learn how to awaken your consciousness. When you come to know yourself, then you can start to know what is outside of you. Unless you awaken your consciousness and know your mind, you will not be able to see anything outside. Your consciousness becomes the mirror that reflects the contents of everything else.
When we remain asleep, without the consciousness awake, we cannot differentiate easily between good and bad art, between good and bad influences, except with things that are very crude or obvious, right? I mean, it is sort of obvious in some cases.
But you cite, for example, Paganini. In order for you to have the capacity to fully know the meaning of a given work of art, you have to have an awakened consciousness that can perceive the conscious source of that art - does that make sense to you?
So, as an example, Samael Aun Weor used to visit museums and sacred sites all over, and was able, because he awakened his consciousness, to observe and reflect upon a given sculpture or piece of art and intuitively comprehend its meaning. And that meaning would not be visible to anyone else, but because he had awakened his consciousness and knew himself, he was able to penetrate and see the objective knowledge hidden in that artwork.
Sometimes we get a sense of it; we may have a feeling about it. If we look at the Mona Lisa, its meaning is not obvious, but its power is undeniable (it is an Initiatic painting that hides a profound message for those who know how to see). If you look at the statues of the Greeks, or the great temples of the Egyptians, or the Aztecs, you see the same - the power of these creations is undeniable, but the meaning eludes us. So, we have to awaken consciousness.
The point is made that ‘it is from the heart that art emerges' and that heart is the method through which, the mirror through which, we can perceive beauty. Of course, the heart is where we find Tiphereth on the Tree of Life. Tiphereth sits on the heart.
So, in general, in synthesis, it is a very powerful and useful tool for us to use in our own development - to cultivate the fine arts. To take up an instrument, or a pen, or a brush, to write, to paint, to do our gardening, to use our creative expression, but to do it because we love doing it. Not because we want to show it to someone, to compete with someone, to impress someone, or to get rich. Cooking is another example. So, I encourage you to cultivate the fine arts in yourself, but if you feel those influences of competition, of money, of fear - then, keep your art to yourself. Keep your art in silence until the time comes when those influences are not burdening you any longer.
All the great masters of art in our history simultaneously developed the physical skills of their art; Richard Wagner studied painting and drawing, studied music, studied symphonic constructions, stagecraft, dramatic writing, poetry, studied how instruments work, studied how the human voice works, studied composition, theory - all of the aspects of art. At the same time, he cultivated the practice of meditation; he cultivated the art of transmutation. And when the time came, when his mind was prepared and sufficiently developed to reflect the light of his Innermost, he was able to do it because he had the physical skills to do it. So, we can proceed likewise.
Where we feel a calling, an impulse, an interest, just because we love it, just because we care for it, in whatever field of life, be it business or painting or music, cultivate those skills, develop those skills. Any skill can be compatible with the development of your soul, but develop them simultaneous to your spiritual practice. And, in that way, you can develop psychological harmony, which is necessary for the complete construction of your own temple.