This is a transcription of the audio lecture Path of the Bodhisattva 15 Prajna, the Wisdom of Emptiness originally given live on Gnostic Radio, which you can download for free.
Prajna is the sixth paramita. The term Prajna is from the Sanskrit and is composed of two Sanskrit terms: "Pra" which refers to "that which is before," and "jna" which refers to knowledge. The compound of these terms then means "before knowledge," "root knowledge," "profound knowledge." It is often translated as "perfect knowledge, intuitive wisdom, understanding, intelligence, discrimination or judgment." When we compare this with the Initiatic Kabbalah, we see that Prajna refers to both Binah, which is Hebrew for "intelligence," and Chokmah, which is Hebrew for "wisdom." Prajna is the intelligence of the Logos, a kind of knowledge or understanding that is beyond the mind, beyond the intellect.
One of the ancient schools of Buddhism had a teacher named Chandrakirti who was a great explainer of the doctrine of the Buddha, and he wrote a text that is called the Madhyamakavatara. In this text he wrote this line:
A single man, endowed with eyes,
Can lead unseeing multitudes with to where they wish to go.
And so it is with wisdom, here;
It takes the sightless virtues, guiding them to Victory (buddhahood). - Madhyamakavatara, Chandrakirti
Stated another way, Prajna is the sixth paramita of insight, of discriminative awareness. When we say wisdom or profound knowledge or perfect knowledge, this is not a passive or latent intelligence, this is a penetrating intelligence, and what Chandrakirti is saying in the quote that I read you, is that it is this paramita that provides vision, guidance, to all the other paramitas. In other words, as much as you may practice generosity, discipline, zeal, diligence, and meditation, without insight, you will be blind. Without Prajna, you cannot know the truth.
In Tibetan Buddhism, Prajna is symbolized by a great Buddha named Manjushri. Manjushri is depicted seated in meditation, typically, with a sword in one hand and a scripture in the other. The sword symbolizes Prajna. The scripture symbolizes mastery of all knowledge. Manjushri symbolizes that aspect of our own inner psyche, our own inner Buddha, who brings us the guidance (Telesis), the Prajna, which cuts through delusion, and that is the symbol of the sword. That sword cuts all ties to existence, it severs all delusion, all karma.
If you have studied the graphic that depicts the nine stages of meditative concentration, you may recall at the superior portion of that graphic there are three monks. The leftmost monk is seated in meditation, and next to him is a reposed elephant which symbolizes his stable mind. The center monk is riding the elephant up the rainbow bridge, which symbolizes deeper levels of concentration in the form realm, beyond the desire realm. And the third monk is riding the elephant, but facing the other direction, which symbolizes that he has the capacity to traverse any realm of nature by the power of his concentration, and in his hand he wields the sword, which is the sword of Manjushri, and that sword symbolizes his comprehension of Prajna.
By Prajna we do not mean the simple insight or simple wisdom that our intellect generally conceives, or attributes to that term "wisdom." We think of wisdom as something that an old person gathers or has, a wise old person, having gained wisdom through experience. This is not the kind of wisdom that we are describing as Prajna. The kind of wisdom of Prajna has nothing to do with age, it has nothing to do with time. It cannot be acquired; it cannot be developed or built or bought or sold, because it exists already.
We are starting to enter into something very profound. In order to understand Prajna, we have to move beyond the realm of the intellect.
Prajna is the sixth paramita, coming after the first five, and as you recall, the fifth is called Dhyana, which refers to meditative stability (mental quietude, Shamatha, Pratyahara, Dhyana, Zen, Chan, Jhana). All of these describe the same essential state of a mind that is at peace, is still, and can perceive without obscurity. Only from that state can Prajna be accessed.
The intellect can never grasp Prajna. It cannot. As much as you try to intellectually understand today's lecture, you will never understand it with the intellect, because the intellect can only create concepts. The intellect can only compare; it can only reason in its subjective way.
The sphere of the intellect, the world of the intellect, is what we call conventional truth, or conventional reality, and this is the inferior truth. But there is a superior truth, which is called the Absolute. The superior truth is the true nature of existence, this is Prajna, but the intellect cannot enter there; it is impossible. To try to comprehend Prajna with the intellect is equivalent to trying to go and visit the moon with a bicycle. You cannot; it is impossible. The intellect is simply incapable.
Prajna, or real wisdom, real intelligence, can only be comprehended through meditation, and this is why the paramitas are given in the order that they are given. They are given in a definitive order. So if your intellect struggles to grasp the nature of the topic today; meditate. Meditate. Learn how to access Dhyana, the stability of the mind. Learn how to master that state; it is from there that Prajna can arise.
In the Zen tradition, there is a little story that illustrates this. The sixth patriarch, who was the inheritor of the Zen tradition, asked Bodhidharma, the teacher of Zen, "How is it possible to reach Tao?"
Bodhidharma said, "Externally, all activity ceases. Internally, the mind stops its agitation. When the mind has become a wall, then Tao comes."
The mind must be clear, free. It must be a temple without dusty stables, where only the flame of Prajna, so to speak, the flame of the Being, blazes. - Samael Aun Weor, Mental Representations
In other words, if the mind is active, if the mind is agitated, if the mind is moving, the Tao cannot be perceived. The ultimate truth, the absolute truth, cannot be seen by the agitated mind. This means we need to meditate, we need to learn how to cultivate a state of being within which the mind is in repose. When the mind returns once again its natural state, which is a state of serenity and peace, the mind becomes a perfect mirror which can reflect the ultimate truth. Without that, Prajna will remain merely a confusing theory.
The paramita of Prajna or ultimate knowledge basically relates to emptiness or the void. This is also called Shunyata or the Absolute. If you have studied Buddhism, you have studies emptiness. If you have studied Hinduism, you have studied Prakriti; if you have studied Christianity, you have studied the void from which all things were created, in the book of Genesis. If you have studied Gnosis, you have studied the Illuminating Void, the Absolute Abstract Space. In all of these traditions we have the same essential root: Prajna, the supreme wisdom or knowledge of dependent origination, interdependence, the emptiness of inherent existence which states: nothing exists in and of itself. We do not exist, in the ultimate level.
In the book The Mystery of the Golden Blossom, Samael Aun Weor explained this in a very simple way. He said:
Emptiness is simply a clear and precise Buddhist term which denotes the insubstantial and impersonal nature of beings and an indication of the state of absolute detachment and freedom outside of time and beyond the mind.
The doctrine of emptiness is the teaching, the root teaching, the core teaching of every religion. Without understanding of the doctrine of emptiness, there only comes fanaticism, because our mind becomes attached. We become attached to false concepts, to deluded perceptions which have no basis in truth.
Truth has two aspects: ultimate and conventional. Our intellect, the mind that we access now, cannot access ultimate truth. We only see conventional truth, and that conventional truth is a projection, it is what our mind produces. This cannot be grasped so long as we remain inside of that. The projection of our mind appears to be real until we step outside of it and can see it for what it is. The purpose of learning to meditate is to learn how to perceive the projector, to see the mind for what it is: a projector of images that have no true reality. And then, meditation gives us the capacity to penetrate beyond the mind, to experience Prajna, to go beyond and see the truth.
We do not see the truth, so we suffer from ignorance. Ignorance is the root of suffering. To be ignorant means "to lack knowledge, to be without knowledge." In Pali or Sanskrit, this is Avidya. "A" means without, "vidya" is knowledge, wisdom. We see here in this word "i", "gno"; ignore, the "i" also indicates without. "Gno" comes from jna, from gnosis, which means "knowledge." To ignore is to be without knowledge, and that is our state; we lack knowledge of true existence.
In the center of the Wheel of Samsara, we see three animals which signify three interlocking elements of the root of all suffering; ignorance is the main one. The other two are craving and aversion, which represent (1) grasping, the tendency to grasp at illusions as if they were real, and (2) aversion, the tendency to try to avoid illusions that we think are real.
The fundamental root of this ignorance is the grasping at self. Suffering results from the mistaken belief that we are a self which exists independently. But the nature of emptiness, the doctrine of emptiness, teaches that this self does not exist, and it is upon this point that many students of religion become very confused. Many students of religion hear this doctrine that the self does not exist and they immediately react in one of two polarized ways. They either immediately reject this concept and state, "It must be false because I am here, and I am a self," and so they adhere to the doctrine of eternalism. Or they react with, "I'm not real, I don't exist, so nothing matters." This is the doctrine of nihilism. These are the two extreme views, and both are forms of ignorance. Buddhism, Gnosis, is the doctrine of the Middle, the Middle Way. The Middle Way is not a path of material life (although it can represent that), but the true Middle Way is the way between extreme views, the way in the middle which does not fall into either extreme.
Right View, right vision, can perceive directly that the two truths, conventional and ultimate, co-exist. In other words, the self that we feel is real does not exist, but yet we exist, and we can perceive that; from the view of conventional truth, we do exist, and all of us can confirm that, we can agree. Conventional reality is here and we can perceive that, but when we learn to meditate, to go deeper, we can perceive the ultimate truth, which is that the self that we believe in is not actually real and is in fact the cause of suffering. Therefore, we seek to resolve that conflict.
In other words, the doctrine of emptiness does not refute conventional reality, it seeks to transform our relationship to it.
Do not fall into these extreme views, such as hearing the doctrine of emptiness and rejecting it immediately because you do not understand. Remember, your intellect cannot grasp it. You can build a concept, which is important, but to truly comprehend it, you have to experience it.
In the sutras, which are the recorded teachings of the Buddha, we find this line:
Thus, not being able to realize that which is known as emptiness, peaceful and unproduced, sentient beings have been helplessly wandering in different states of cyclic existence. Seeing this, enlightened ones have revealed or established emptiness through hundred-fold reasoning.
The hundred-fold reasoning is the vast system of philosophy which has evolved out of the teachings of the Buddha, and whose essential content is also visible in the teachings of Gnosis. If you have read the books Revolutionary Psychology, Revolution of the Dialectic, The Great Rebellion, The Pistis Sophia Unveiled , all of these books are books of Prajna which teach the doctrine of emptiness. Every one of them is rooted in the comprehension of the Emptiness (the Absolute). You may not have seen that term "emptiness" while reading, and you may not have recognized that Mahayana teaching in the writings of Samael Aun Weor, but I will give you some examples.
Firstly, we have to grasp that this doctrine is the essential root of all religions. The purpose of religion is not merely to believe in something; the purpose of religion is to change, to conquer suffering, to eliminate suffering. Not only for ourselves, but for others. In order to do that, we have to understand the root of suffering, the cause of suffering, but we cannot understand that root cause unless we understand the nature of reality. This is why the doctrine of the Illuminating Void is so important and so emphasized in the teachings of Gnosis. Let us not make the mistake of studying these teachings and disregarding the teachings of the void, which unfortunately some Gnostic students do. Because the intellect does not grasp it, some students and teachers do not study or teach it. This is a fatal mistake, the consequences of which you will see shortly.
Continuing in the book The Mystery of the Golden Blossom , the Master Samael Aun Weor stated:
The Illuminating Void is impossible to describe in human words. It is indefinable, indescribable. As was said by the Zen teacher Huai Jang, "Whatever is said misses the main point."
For us, we need to start where we are. In order to grasp the nature of the emptiness of self, we have to study the self. We begin this with meditation. It is only when our mind is still, when we have that quality of Dhyana, meditative concentration, when the consciousness escapes the cage of the ego, that we can then perceive the truth.
When the mind is still within and without, when the mind is in silence within and without, when the mind has freed itself from dualism, then the new comes to us.
It is necessary to empty the mind of all types of thoughts, desires, passions, appetites, fears, etc. in order for the experience of Reality to come to us.
The eruption of the Void, the experience in the Illuminating Void, is only possible when the Essence, the Soul, the Buddhata, liberates itself from the intellectual bottle. The Essence is bottled up within the tremendous battle of the opposites: heat and cold, like and dislike, yes and no, good and evil, pleasant and unpleasant.
When the mind is still, when the mind is in silence, then the Essence remains free and the experience of that which is the Reality within the Illuminating Void comes. Pray, therefore, good disciple, and then with the mind very still and in silence, empty of all kinds of thoughts, await the reply from the Father...
So long as our mode of perception is enveloped in a false view, ignorance, then whatever we see will be false. True? If you wear glasses that have a tint of blue, everything you see will be blue. The ego is a lens. The mind is diluted, confused, mistaken. Meditation is the bread of wisdom. The root of the soul. It is from meditation that we can grasp these essential points.
When we learn to self-observe, to watch this so-called "self" from moment to moment, we will inevitably recognize something. If we sincerely watch ourselves, we will come to see that we are full of contradictions, we have no continuity. Someone who recognizes this point is at the precipice of starting to comprehend the nature of the doctrine of no-self. To comprehend the doctrine of no-self, we first have to perceive directly the doctrine of many selves. Those many selves are the legion mentioned in the gospels.
When Jesus saw the possessed man and asked him, "What is your name?" the man says, "My name is legion." That legion consists of all the multiple desires, cravings, aversions, fears, proud elements, lustful elements, jealous elements that we have in our own psyche. This multiplicity is constructed of innumerable conflicting mistaken perceptions, mistaken perceptions about ourselves and about life.
The first one is that we believe that this self that we have exists, that it is real, and when we learn to observe ourselves truly and we start to see the contradictions that we have, we start to see that that perception is not exactly right. The multiplicity of the self reveals that the mind we have is fractured, it is discontinuous, it is chaotic. So when you observe yourself and you see one desire arising, and then a few moments later a contradictory desire arising, or a totally unrelated desire, you are starting to perceive that inherent inconsistency, the lack of consistent truth. This is very important.
To comprehend the nature of our suffering, we have to comprehend the nature of ourselves. What is suffering? What in us actually suffers? When we are criticized, what in us actually suffers? When we feel pain because of criticism or harsh words, what feels pain? This is not a philosophical exercise, this is not theoretical. We have to practice this. In the moments when we feel pleasure or pain, we need to observe; what in us feels that? Is it real? To determine if something is real, we need to look at what qualifies something as being real. To understand the emptiness of the self we have to first see that self.
This is actually the very beginning of this chapter in the Bodhicharyavatara about this paramita, and Shantideva writes exactly this:
Without coming into contact with the inherent thing, one can not comprehend the emptiness of that thing.
For you to comprehend the emptiness of self-nature as taught in every religion, you have to first see your own self-nature, what you believe is your "self." This is why we start with all the other paramitas: we start with self-observation, we start with the intention to change, the intention to do good, discipline on ourselves, learning to act in helpful ways and renounce harmful action. And all of this is given in order to help us start to perceive who it is we think we are, who it is we believe we are, and start to see how our karma functions. From that point of view, through meditation, we can then start to comprehend the emptiness of that concept, that self. In Buddhism, this is called "the object of negation." In order to comprehend the emptiness of something, we have to first identify that something, to recognize it.
We cannot presume to debate about the existence or non-existence of reality, the existence or non-existence of the planet, until we can do that with our own self. We have to start where we are, with our own perceptions from moment to moment, looking with discriminative awareness into each perception that we have in order to establish its fundamental truth or lack of it.
This is the purpose of these teachings, it is not to philosophize, it is not to debate: it is to overcome suffering. Suffering is rooted in our mind, within. Suffering is not outside, it is inside. Thus we look within to discover the roots, the causes of suffering.
In order to determine if something actually exists, we have two conditions that the object or phenomena must satisfy. The first is: it must exist independently. In other words, in the moment when you have the recognition in yourself that you are believing in a "self," is the moment in which you have to look closely at that perception. So we begin with self-observation. If you have a conflict in your life, in the moment that you are experiencing that conflict, let's put it a simple example like an argument. You are having a heated discussion or argument with someone, you feel impassioned, inflamed. There is a lot of energy, there is a drive. Look inside of that and analyze that: "Is there a conception of self here? In this argument, am I trying to assert that self, or defend that self?" Does that concept of self, that belief, which is raging in your blood, in your heart, in your mind, does that exist independently? Does it exist on its own? In other words, if we remove the circumstances, if we remove our body, if we remove from that situation the other person or the words that they have spoken, will that self that we feel still exist? Will it still be there? I am not asking you to theorize about it, you have to perceive it, you have to look.
What you will notice is, in a given period of time after that impassioned quality has faded somewhat, you may look again and find that that concept, that feeling, that sense of self is no longer visible. In other words, it only arose because of the causes and conditions of that moment. And yet it impassioned you to act and behave in a particular way. That means it does not satisfy the second requirement either, which is: It must not rely on causes and conditions.
In each situation that we pass through, with each desire that we have, with each intention, we analyze based on these two fundamental conditions. But this analysis cannot be limited to intellectual speculation, this must be processed through meditation, and I do not mean concentration. When we say meditation, we mean Dhyana, a state in which the mind is perfectly at ease, perfectly calm, serene, no thoughts. In that state of meditative equipoise, we visualize the event within which we felt this sense of self, we then analyze that event. Look to see: were those thoughts and feelings and impulses to act real? Do they exist in and of themselves? Do they exist beyond causes and conditions?
Obviously, what I am pointing at is that the ego, the "I," never satisfies these conditions. Every ego, every desire, every craving, every fear, every particle of anger, or pride, does not exist independently, and always relies on causes and conditions. In this sense, we state that the "I," the ego, is empty of inherent reality; it can only arise due to causes and conditions. It does not exist in and of itself.
Any ego, any suffering, exists because of karma. Any karma, any suffering, exists because of causes and conditions. This is why we state that the doctrine of emptiness is identical to the doctrine of dependent origination, that is, everything exists within everything else, nothing exists independently.
Again, let me repeat, this is not mere philosophy. Your mind will want to philosophize and theorize, "What does that mean? Why is it important?" This is the heart of the doctrine. We suffer because we fail to realize that the ego is not real. We go from event to event in life grasping at illusions. We believe that we can acquire happiness in the terrestrial world by accumulating whatever it is our mind happens to be interested in at the moment. It might be wealth, it might be sex, it might be power. It might be to feel religious, to see oneself as a spiritual person, or to be seen as spiritual. These are all delusions, they are projections of the mind which we in turn become entranced by, hypnotized by, and thereafter we perceive illusory projections, fantasies, dreams which do not exist. And as such, we are stumbling blindly, and behaving ignorantly, and creating suffering, not only for ourselves but others. Therefore this is essential. Without a clear understanding of emptiness, there can be no liberation, there can be no freedom.
When we extend this understanding that the self does not exist in the way we perceive it, the mind becomes astonished. We can hardly conceive of it, but it is the fundamental truth. Regarding this, Samael Aun Weor explained his experience which I will read to you now in order to present you with something to remind yourself of. He writes this:
Many years ago, during meditation, I experienced this truth. Unfortunately, in that epoch I had not yet dissolved the pluralized "I." Therefore, terror damaged my experience. I definitively felt myself being lost within the void of the Buddhist annihilation, the infinite ocean of incomprehensible light, beyond the body, the affections and the mind. This was a radical oblivion from myself. Thus the consciousness, freed from its egoic condition, was lost as a drop within the sea. That void seemed to become more powerful, a frightful abyss. I ceased to exist. I felt myself becoming worlds, flowers, birds, fish, radiant suns, a humble plant, a gigantic tree, an insignificant insect which only endures for a summer afternoon, and a rebel eagle. That ocean of my being continued to extend itself even more. The non-personification seemed to become more and more profound. Not even the memory of my human form remained. I was the whole thing and nothingness at the same time. One more step and what would become of me? Oh, what a terror! Thus that ocean of my being continued to frightfully extend itself. So then, what about my beloved individuality? It is obvious that it was also condemned to death. Suddenly, feeling terror, horror, panic, fear, I felt myself withdrawing within myself and I lost the ecstasy, I returned as Aladdin's genie back into the bottle. I entered into time, I remained bottled up into the ego. Wretched Mephistopheles, the unfortunate one, was cowardly trembling. Thus, this is how Satan is. It is obvious that the disgraceful one had made me lose my Buddhist satori, the Samadhi. Alaya, even being eternal and immutable in its essence, reflects itself within every object of the universe, just as the moon does in the clear and tranquil water. - Cosmic Teachings of a Lama
There is existence, but it is not the existence that we perceive. But if we allow this point to remain just as a theory, we will remain in suffering. This doctrine, this teaching, is not just here for our philosophical amusement; it is a very practical tool, but one that you can only really understand by using it. We begin by identifying that which needs to be negated, which is our "self." The teachings tell us that the concept of self that we have is mistaken, so we begin by analyzing that self. Regarding this the Master Samael said:
In order to experience in a complete way the illuminating aspect of the consciousness, we must first of all, and by all means, become conscious of our own selves.
The second step is to reflect on this "I" to see if it really exists. To see if this "I," this self, exists independent of the body. Does it exist independent of the mind? Does it exist independent of causes and conditions? Again, do not theorize. You have to perceive this. Theories will get you nowhere when you are trying to develop Prajna. We have to base our work on practical experience.
So, clinging to "mine" or to "my" is more than enough in order to prevent recognition of our nothingness and interior misery.
One is astonished in front of the spectacle of a fire or a shipwreck. At such a moment desperate people often seize many things that are ludicrous, things of no importance.
Wretched people! They feel themselves in those objects; they lean on silly objects; they become attached to objects which do not have the least bit of importance.
To feel that one exists through external things, and to lay our foundations upon those things is equivalent to being in a state of total unconsciousness.
The sentiment of the "Seity" (the real Being) is only possible by dissolving all those "I's" which we carry within our interior. Before this annihilation, such a sentiment becomes more than impossible.
Unfortunately, the adorers of the "I" do not accept this. They believe themselves to be Gods. They believe that they already possess those "glorious bodies" that Paul of Tarsus spoke about. They assume that the "I" is divine. Nobody can erase those absurdities from their minds.
One does not know what to do with such people. The Doctrine is explained to them, yet they do not understand it. They always hold fast to the sands upon which they built their house. They are always engrossed within their dogmas, within their whims, within their foolishness.
If those people were to observe themselves seriously, they would then verify by themselves the Doctrine of the Many. They would discover within themselves all the multiplicity of persons or "I's" which live within our interior.
How can the real feeling of our true Being be experienced within ourselves, when instead, those "I's" are feeling for us and thinking for us?
The most critical part of all this tragedy is that we think that we are thinking, that we feel that we are feeling, when, indeed it is someone else who in a given moment thinks through our tormented mind and feels through our afflicted heart. - Revolutionary Psychology
When we begin to recognize that the multiple "I's" that surge within us from moment to moment actually lack true existence, we actually begin to reduce their power over us. In those moments when we feel fear and we remember and look to perceive the inherent lack of truth of that fear, it loses power over us. In other words, that fear is temporary; it is stimulated by causes and conditions. It will pass; it does not exist truly. That fear lacks the power that it once had when we fully believed in it. It is like when you were a child and you were terrified of the monster in the closet or the monster under the bed. Your mind fully believes in the truth of that perception, and that is what we call conventional truth. One day you may have had the courage to look under the bed, and your mind was astonished when there was nothing there but dust. That is similar to the effect of comprehending Prajna. When you see the true nature of that deluded perception, you see that it is an illusion, and every ego is like that.
But unfortunately for us, that true nature cannot be seen with the physical senses. The true nature of the ego cannot be seen with the intellect. It can only be seen by our true self, our real self, but that self has nothing to do with the ego. So in Gnosis we teach the doctrine of no-self, but at the same time we teach that there is a real self. So do not expect that we are trying to simply refute existence, because that is not the truth.
When we look closely at the "I," we start to see that it is just deluded perception, and we reduce its power. This is an important step, but it is not everything. Merely comprehending the lack of the existence, the true inherent non-existence of the "I," is not enough. This is the same as, for example, if we hear this teaching and it makes sense to us, and we say, "Yeah, I can comprehend that the self does not exist," and then we think we are done. But this does not mean that you are done, it does not mean that you have finished the work simply by accepting the idea, because that false self, the ego, is still there. And even when you perceive, directly, in meditation, that that particular ego that you are studying does not have inherent existence, this does not mean that you are done with it. It only means that you have started to perceive its true nature, which is empty of inherent existence. Yet, it still exists conventionally.
Remember the two truths. This self, the conception of self, this idea of self, the belief of self, does not exist in the ultimate level, in the absolute level, but it does exist conventionally. That is why we suffer, that is why we have pain, that is why we are trapped in delusion.
So there are stages to this: first we have to recognize the object to be refuted, the ego, then we have to destroy it. Some people study these teachings and arrive at the mistaken conclusion that all they have to do is recognize the inherent emptiness of everything and then they are finished. This is not true, that is not the teaching.
The purpose of the teaching is not simply to understand the nature of emptiness, it is to realize it. To realize means "to make it real." This means to make the absolute truth penetrate the conventional. And that can only happen if that absolute truth, that light of non-being, which is Christ, can penetrate into conventional reality. This, behold, is the Bodhisattva. The only one who can do that is a Bodhisattva. No one else. The only one who can create the vessel that can transmit that light is a Bodhisattva. Such a being is the one in whom the "I", the false "I", is completely dead, and all that remains is the light of Christ.
It is necessary for our Gnostic disciples to comprehend that the resplendent Dragon of Wisdom (the Inner Christ) of every human being that comes into the world, has no individuality. The latter is the outcome of the "I," and the Christ is not any type of "I." Thus, it is absurd to talk about the "I" Christ, when indeed the Internal Christ does not have any type of "I." The resplendent Dragon of Wisdom transcends beyond any type of "I" and beyond any individuality. The adorable one is absolutely infinite and impersonal. - Esoteric Course of Alchemical Kabbalah
In an ancient scripture, it says that Prajna is the light that glows within the vase of Buddhi. Buddhi as you recall is related to the sephirah Geburah; Buddhi is the divine consciousness, part of our own soul which we do not have complete access to yet. The Bodhisattva is on the path to incarnate that, to become a perfect vase of Buddhi within which the light of Prajna shines. Prajna is the Being, Prajna is Atman (Chesed) holding within itself the light of Binah and Chokmah and Kether (The trikaya or bodies of the Buddha), that light of absolute truth which radiates through Buddhi, the spiritual soul, which then manifests its compassion through the actions of that Bodhisattva on behalf of others, on behalf of ourselves.
In us, the vessel that we have is the mistaken "I." That is why we are called "empty shells," Klipoth, the Abyss, Hell. We have vessels, but they are empty of truth, they are empty of light, they have nothing but lies and deception. Those bottles exist in conventional truth in our own subconsciousness, but they do not exist in the absolute truth, in Christ. That is the nature of the doctrine of no-self. We have no true identity until we are born again with Christ inside. Then we have true identity, then we have real existence, but until then we do not have a real existence. We are tossed about in confusion, in desire and fear. Regarding this, the Master Samael wrote:
It would not be possible to submerge ourselves within the current of sound, within the Illuminating Void, without previously turning asunder the bonds that in one way or another bind us to the consciousness. We transform the subconsciousness into consciousness with the annihilation of the ego, however, afterwards, we must destroy the shackles which connect us to the consciousness.
So you can see that this work has stages. For us, trapped in suffering, trapped by our karma, by our mistaken perceptions, we begin by analyzing the self that we perceive now, analyzing its true nature and working to destroy the psychic cages which embottle us in suffering. That process is only possible with Dhyana and Prajna, the fifth and sixth paramitas. It is impossible to destroy the ego without meditation, because without meditation you cannot access Prajna, the true perception of reality. Once we destroy the ego and we become conscious beings, we become awakened, we then have to work in higher levels to go beyond the consciousness, to enter into the Being, which is beyond the consciousness, but that is another level.Mantra is as follows: Proceed, Proceed, Proceed Beyond, Thoroughly Proceed Beyond, be founded in enlightenment )
This is the Prajnaparamita mantra, this is the mantra of the Prajnaparamita, and it comes from a sutra called the Prajnaparamita sutra. That profound teaching is the teaching of the insight into true reality, and this mantra is a sacred sound which utilizes and draws the assistance of Christ to flood the mind, to flood our consciousness with forces that can assist us. This is one of the two most used mantras in Buddhism, and the other one I taught you last week. They are most used because they are powerful, they draw results, they work.
The Master Samael taught this mantra, and he said this about it:
First of all, relax the body absolutely.
Now, let me stop there. Students can easily make the mistake of reading these directions very quickly and then very quickly trying to do these practices without paying careful attention to each step of the process, and because they rush in their urgency and their desire to have an experience, they fail to satisfy each step of the process and thus end in disappointment. Let us not make that mistake. The first step is to relax. We have to relax the body completely. But this body is more than just flesh, what is this body really? You also have to relax your mind, you have to relax your heart. We need to be fully relaxed, without any tension, then we go to the next step.
Step two, empty the mind of all thought.
Again, I cannot even tell you how many times students come to instructors and say, "I just can't get this meditation, I'm doing the mantra, doing the mantra, but my mind is too active." The second step is very important, this is Dhyana, meditative stability, the fifth paramita. If your mind is unstable, if your mind is too chaotic, do the practices in order to establish concentration and mental quietude. There are many such practices.
When your mind is in a stable place (relatively), then begin the third step. This is to chant the mantra, to sing the mantra, to vocalize. This is also an important step; the vocalization stimulates energy and matter. This mantra stimulates your organism, not only psychologically; but physically, spiritually. And all of this prepares your vessel. So he says, continuing:
With a silent verb we stop chanting, we become silent. Empty mind and relaxed body, and so we continue to practice repeatedly, daily, for as long as it takes, until one day, in the absence of the "I", the Illuminating Void which is the truth can be experienced. The one who can experience truth becomes strengthened to work on himself. Why do the brothers and sisters of Gnosis not have force to work on themselves, what happens to them? They lack the experience of truth. It is one thing to be told about the path to reach the truth, and it is another thing when one has experienced it. The one who wants to experience it has to relax the body, empty the mind and use the mantra of the paramitas. Then one day he will achieve the experience of that which does not belong to time, that which is the truth. The one who experiences it will work truly with zeal on himself. I experienced it when I was hardly a boy, eighteen years old. I achieved it, and I have never forgotten it.
So you can see his emphasis on experiencing the void is quite emphatic, and there is a reason for that. The ones who do not comprehend the nature of the void, the true nature of the self, fall into mistakes, like us. We are already suffering the results of our mistakes, because we do not see the truth and we suffer for that. As I mentioned, this path of the Bodhisattva is the path of the razor's edge. A razor is extremely thin, narrow, straight and sharp, and if you try to walk on a razor's edge it will hurt, but what hurts? What is it that suffers? It is the "I", it is the ego that suffers. This is why many who encounter these teachings turn and run away, because the ego does not like it. The ego is directly confronted with this type of teaching, and the ego must die. Christ will not accept the ego. To incarnate Christ, to know Christ, the ego has to die. We do not like that, we want to go into Heaven and keep the ego, but this is impossible. No one in Heaven, in Nirvana, has pride, has anger, has lust. These things must be discarded.
So this type of knowledge, the doctrine of emptiness, is the direct insight or Prajna which leads us along this razor's path. That is the guide, Prajna. Remember, Prajna is synonymous with Christ, synonymous with that which truly exists. But unfortunately, we have those who either do not know this doctrine or those who misunderstand it. And they fall into two groups, two extreme views. On one side we have those who follow the doctrine of Eternalism. This is one group of extreme views, the other is nihilism.
Those who follow the doctrine or have the mistaken belief of Eternalism are those who believe that when they die they will either go to Heaven or Hell forever, but this is a mistaken view, there is no evidence, there is no support for this idea. These are people who believe in an eternal "I," an "I" which exists independently forever, whether that "I" is superior or inferior. But there is no evidence to support this, neither in true scripture nor in cold hard facts. There is no observable phenomena that is eternal, whether observable by the physical senses or the internal senses. The only thing that is eternal and forever is the Absolute, but that is without condition and it is without cause. It is beyond conventional reality.
Those who follow the doctrine of Eternalism believe in many different varieties of theories, they may believe that there is an eternal creator God, a great father figure who sits in Heaven, and picks and chooses and punishes this sad spectacle of humanity from time to time. They may believe in many varieties of religious concepts or beliefs of Heaven and Hell. Some of them believe in an eternal self, like Atman or the Being, as if the being is some eternal "I" who is beyond the laws of nature. This is a thorny point. Unfortunately, there are Gnostics who develop the mistaken perception that Gnosis is a religion just like Christianity or Buddhism or Islam, in which there is an eternal heavenly God, there is eternal Heaven and there is eternal Hell, but none of these beliefs are true. There is a Being, but the Being is impersonal. There is Christ, but the Christ has no individuality. There is God, but God is not personal, neither is God an identity the way we think of identity. God is a force, an intelligence, which is beyond the intellect.
Eternalists often fall into the mistaken conception of themselves as a god, and this is what we call mythomania. Those who say, "My inner Being is a great Master", or "I am a great master", or "my inner Being is such and such god, or cosmocreator," or "I am the incarnation of so-and-so," or "I am the prophet such-and-such." These are all mistaken views, they are all products of mythomania, which are products of Eternalism.
The true Bodhisattva recognizes their own nothingness, recognizes that the only true existence is the Being, who is not us. The Bodhisattva is merely a vessel who displays the light of Prajna. A real Bodhisattva has no self and is only there as a light bulb, to transmit light, and therefore makes no claims for themselves at all.
On the other side of the pendulum, we have the other group that does not understand the doctrine of emptiness and who instead follow the doctrine of nihilism. Now, these two groups have probably never heard these terms, but this is how they are presented in Buddhism. Someone who follows nihilism may have heard of this doctrine in some form and says, "Oh, well all things are empty, that means there is no existence, there is no reality. Therefore, I can do whatever I want." There are many of this type of person in this time. Have you ever heard the phrase, "Live well, for tomorrow we die"? This is nihilism. Those people who in these times believe only in fulfilling their desires and constantly saturating themselves with lust, with abuse of drugs and alcohol and power and money are all followers of Nihilism. These are nihilists; these are people who do not recognize that there is karma, that there are consequences for our actions. This type of theory argues that the world is without purpose, without meaning, without value, without truth. This theory, this idea is extremely common. Normally, in these times, when someone calls themselves an atheist, really they are just a nihilist, which means they only believe in their desires, nothing else. In other words, they are animals who only want to consume, destroy, and eventually die. These types of people reject all concept of ethics and morality and only seek to follow after their desires. But again, there is no evidence to support the ideas of Nihilism, when it is analyzed in its depth it is seen to be a false, wrong view. And this is not the true doctrine of emptiness.
The true understanding of Prajna or emptiness does not refute karma, in fact it states that karma and emptiness are synonymous, but our intellect can not grasp that. The intellect says, "Well if all things are empty of self-nature, then who is it that produces a wrong action, and who in turn is is that receives the consequences of that action?" Do you see the philosophical loop? This is how the intellect gets us confused. When we intellectualize these philosophical ideas we confuse ourselves and we confuse others, and thus we remain trapped in delusion. The intellect cannot conceive of this teaching. We need to grasp it to a certain degree with the intellect, and then we need to meditate. True Prajna perceives the simultaneous existence of conventional and ultimate reality. In other words, can see the inherent lack of existence and also karma, dependent origination. These are the same, but our intellect does not see it.
In this camp of nihilists, there are also many varieties. A very key example is the demon Moloch. Moloch and his friends teach and practice the idea that one can realize truth within the ego. In other words, by making the ego very fat, by committing a lot of harmful action, they believe they can penetrate out of the other side of Klipoth and thus gain wisdom. This may not make sense to you now, but when you analyze the Kabbalah and you see how the current of sound functions, you see that at the very top of existence is the Absolute, that primordial sea of absolute nature. And when the ray of creation descends and all of manifestation appears, at the very bottom of the Klipoth, the most dense level of existence which is the most dense level of hell, right on the other side of that is the Absolute once again. This is how the notes, the octave of creation unfolds. So these demons believe that by projecting themselves down with as much force as possible they can precipitate themselves past the Klipoth and into the Absolute, and they convince the whole world that it is true. They have convinced the world that by fulfilling desires, by learning more skillful ways of destruction, of violence, that you can reach happiness. This is why our society is so rapidly degenerating, because Moloch and his friends are spreading throughout our media, throughout churches, throughout synagogues, throughout monasteries, this concept: "realize yourself within your ego, there is no need to destroy it," so they say. This is a wrong view: they forget karma. They are intentionally taking karma out of the equation, as if karma does not exist, as if they can do whatever they want without facing the consequences. So it is wrong, mistaken view.
Related to this group is a group of practitioners of Mahamudra. You remember from the last lecture I introduced you to Mahamudra and Dzogchen, which are teachings of Tibetan Buddhism related to meditation and entrance into Prajna. There are practitioners of Mahamudra and Dzogchen who, through learning this doctrine of Prajna, learn about the philosophy which states that the self does not inherently exist and within everything is the Absolute. So then they arrive at the mistaken conclusion that "if the Absolute, the fundamental reality, is indeed within everything, then let us realize that Absolute within the ego, let us realize and become enlightened from within the context of our own delusional mind." This is a wrong concept. Unfortunately, they have misunderstood the profound doctrine of Mahamudra and developed it into an excuse to satisfy the ego, to perpetuate it. And unfortunately they disseminate this very subtle, very seductive idea, that "you can be as you are and still enlighten yourself."
There are also Kabbalists who teach this, teachers of Kabbalah and Judaism who teach that "you can realize yourself, you can approach God through desire." This is black tantra, this is black magic. It is the teaching of demons, so do not be mistaken.
The true doctrine of emptiness is just a deeper understanding of the law of karma.
When voidness of phenomena is understood,
The wondrous law of karmic cause and fruit
Shines forth a yet more wonderful,
And though amazing is yet more astonishing. - Bodhichittavivarana
Where there is desire, there is suffering. About this, there is no contest. You will hear a lot of philosophies and a lot of theories, and this is why you need to base it in your own experience. Learn to meditate and penetrate the truth for yourself.
All of this is precisely why the Buddha taught the doctrine of emptiness last. This is why Prajna is presented as the sixth paramita. The Buddha taught all of the other paramitas about Bodhichitta, about suffering, about the need for compassion, about karma, first; because he knew, and knows, that if we heard this doctrine of emptiness without having a solid understanding of karma, we could easily be misled. Easily. And this is also why this teaching in its most profound aspects has always been withheld from humanity.
When you combine the true entrance into Prajna with the transmutation of sexual energy, you have in your hands forces that can completely change an entire world - this wisdom is an extraordinary power - and if you do not understand karma, you can hurt a lot of people, including yourself.
Right View is critical - in fact, you can say Prajna, in itself, is Right View. Right View is one of the steps of the Eightfold Path. Right View is defined as having understanding of the emptiness, understanding of dependent origination.
Right View is defined by four seals or four hallmarks, which I will explain to you. The first seal is that all conditioned existence is impermanent. To have Right View means that spontaneously you recognize whatever arises is impermanent and thus you do not grasp after it, nor do you have aversion towards it. You remain indifferent. We do not have that, because whatever arises now we either grasp it or try to avoid it. We might be indifferent because of a lack of understanding or a lack of desire, but that is not the same as comprehension.
The second seal is that all deluded experiences are suffering. Suffering is not merely unpleasant sensations, it is also pleasant sensations. We become attached to pleasant experiences, to feeling good about ourselves. This is suffering, because those sensations are impermanent. When someone is loving us and praising us, we may have a son or a daughter who is a great son or daughter, they love us, they respect us, but then they become a teenager and they turn into a little devil. Well then, you will know something about this kind of craving, to be respected and appreciated as a parent. And then that goes away, then you will know. There is no inherent existence in that craving, it is a delusion, and it is suffering.
The third seal is that all things are empty and lack self-identity.
The fourth is that nirvana, liberation, cessation, is true peace. This refers to the cessation of deluded perception.
Now let me explain, as a little side note, a very important point here. Liberation is one thing, but absolute liberation or final liberation is something else. Our consciousness passes through many existences to give us the opportunity to reach final liberation or ultimate liberation. If we do not take on this work and do it, we just cycle through existence, over and over, repeatedly. And at the end of the great cosmic day, all of those sparks of consciousness which are existing in physical bodies will be absorbed back into their source. This is called "liberation," because it is liberation from the wheel, but it is liberation without attainment, without Prajna, without wisdom, and at the beginning of the next cycle, the next cosmic day, all those sparks will begin again that cycle where they left off, with nothing, with zero.
Final liberation or ultimate liberation is acquired only by Bodhisattvas, and these are those beings, those creatures, who have developed Prajna, who have accessed fundamental insight into existence, and have become different.
There are actually four paths through existence. The first one, the most superior one, is the path of the Bodhisattva, the Direct Path.
The second one, an inferior work, is the Nirvanic Spiral Path, this is the path of the gods, this is the path of the Buddhas who acquire a certain amount of understanding but who remain in a lower level.
Let me explain something clearly to you: the Nirvanic gods still belong to the wheel of suffering. When you look at the worlds that are displayed in the Wheel of Samsara, these upper worlds are the regions of the gods. In other words, the gods still suffer from deluded perception, they still believe in an "I," the ego, but it is a little different from our ego. In our case, we are afflicted with very coarse afflictions, sufferings. In the case of the gods, they are attached to power, they are attached to bliss, attached to pleasure, attached to ecstasy, attached to an "I", as in "I am this or that god, I am this or that Master." Thus they fall into the camp of the Eternalists, and they remain in suffering at that level. The ego in those levels is more subtle.
The third path are those who do a little work on themselves but never actually develop any capacity or any portion of the soul, and thus they continue to fall back, they do not actually enter the Nirvanic path. They may become a saint of some degree, but they do not actually have the vehicles, the solar bodies.
The fourth and most commonly used path is the lunar path, the path of the failures, which all of us are on, because all of us are in darkness, all of us do not know anything.
Regarding this path of the Bodhisattva, and to close this lecture, I will read you a little excerpt from the book The Pistis Sophia Unveiled, and I invite you to stabilize yourself, to relax, to close your eyes, and to allow these words to illuminate your understanding, because in these words is a form of wisdom that can only be received if you are open to it.
The Initiates of the Darkness, as well as the Initiates of the Light, fall to the Left and to the Right.
The Path of the Middle (the Eightfold Path of the Bodhisattvas with compassionate hearts) leads us to the port of liberation.
Unfortunately, rare are those who are capable of marching on the Path of the Middle towards the Final Liberation. Those who do not fall on the tenebrous path of the Left, fall on the path of the Right.
The tenebrous ones descend through the path of the Left within the abode of Pluto.
The Saints ascend through the path of the Right, towards the marvellous Kingdom of the Light.
The tenebrous ones as well as the saints rotate within the Wheel of Samsara.
The tenebrous ones pass through the Buddhist Annihilation within the heart of the world.
Posteriorly they enter into the elemental paradises of Nature, after having suffered a great deal.
The journey through the subterranean world is millions of times more bitter than bile.
The Saints return to the Valley of Samsara. They reincorporate themselves into a new human organism when the reward is finished.
Neither the human beings with goat skins, nor the human beings with sheep skins achieve the Final Liberation.
The authentic Final Liberation is only for the rebels, for those who march on the Path of the Middle.
Difficult is the Eightfold Path of the Bodhisattvas with compassionate hearts.
The limit of good is evil. The limit of evil is good.
The Eightfold Path of the Bodhisattvas with compassionate hearts has nothing to do with good or evil.
All which is good for those who march on the path of the Right is evil for those who descend through the tenebrous Left.
All which is good for the tenebrous of the Averno is evil for the walkers who ascend through the path of the Right.
Demons and Saints look with horror and terror at the revolutionary Adepts of the Path of the Middle.
No one understands these rebels of the Path of the Middle.
The Revolutionary Walker of the Eightfold Path (even when surrounded by many people) walks terribly alone.
Hitler, who was terrorized in the presence of an Adept from the Path of the Middle exclaimed: "I know the Super-Man. I have seen him. He is terribly cruel. I, myself, have felt fear."
The path is sexual. We advance by annihilating the ego and sacrificing ourselves for humanity.
The Pratyeka Buddhas (even after having built the existential superior bodies of the Being) are not Bodhisattvas.
Obviously, the Pratyeka Buddhas fell in the path of the Right.
There are also a great deal of Masters who fell on the path of the Left by means of Black Tantrism.
The Bodhisattvas with compassionate hearts sacrifice themselves for planetary humanities through successive Mahamanvantaras, and finally, they achieve the incarnation of Christ.
Only the Bodhisattvas of the Path of the Middle achieve the incarnation of Christ within themselves.
The Intimate Christ comes time and time again, continuously, each time when it is necessary.
The Cosmic Christ is a force, as electricity is a force, or as gravity is a force, etc..
The Cosmic Christ is beyond the personality, individuality, and the "I."
Christ expresses himself through any human being who is perfectly prepared.
Nevertheless, all the Christic events are accompanied by great earthquakes and confusions.
Christic events are terrifically revolutionary.
Do you have any questions?
Audience: You were talking about desire, reaching God through desire, what did you mean by that?
Speaker: Well, we have to distinguish between the longing to know God and the teaching that states that through desire or through pleasure we can reach God. Because there are many who teach that by cultivating our desires, by gathering pleasures, by inebriating ourselves with the intoxicants of sensation, that we can then know God, and this is false. There are many who teach that.
Audience: I still don't understand what you are saying, I'm not comprehending what you are saying. You mean that if you desire to reach God, it's not...
Speaker: No no no, the desire to know God is different. So when I am talking about desire I am talking about the craving of the ego. The desire or the longing to know God is natural, we need that. That is a natural quality of the soul to know itself. But we add on to that. We want to take our desires with us; our sexual desires, our lust for power, our cravings for comfort, security. Those are the kind of desires that I am talking about. Does that make sense?
Audience: Well, what I thought you meant was that your desire, your personal desire to reach or, communicate or reach God or reach that which I perceive to be God, because I think everybody have different ideas of what God is. I thought that was what you meant, that your desire to reach God is not, you are not supposed to have that desire?
Speaker: In the beginning we have that, that desire to know God, and this is good. But there is a stage of work at which we begin to discover that some of that desire is also egotistical, so that is the point.
Audience: You being here, teaching this, I don't know exactly what your teaching is or where you are coming from, and this is all that I got last weekend, part of last weekend. Now, my point is that, just you being here, isn't that kind of egotistical itself?
Speaker: It can appear that way.
Audience: Because, well, you know, it depends, a lot of people that do something and from somebody else's eye it might appear to be egotistical...
Speaker: It may appear, but this is the whole nature of the teaching, it is to question appearances.
Audience: My question is all from the same thing, isn't the idea of you reaching God or whatever, isn't that kind of also egotistical...
Speaker: It might be.
Audience: Well that's my point, that I have a lot of trouble with that, my desire to... I feel like a lot of this stuff around like Earth, like everything, the universe or whatever, my idea was that God is everything that there is, that is what God is, that is my idea of God.
Speaker: This is why meditation is so important. Because that questioning, the way your mind is a little bit stirred up by the questioning, by the interest or by the conflicts that appear to you, because the mind has that state it cannot resolve it. So the only way to resolve that question is to first have the mind at stable peace, and this is why meditation is so important. Because when the mind is in conflict, or when it is in a battle between yes and no or A and B, the conflict cannot be resolved.
Audience: But life itself is nothing but conflicts...
Speaker: Exactly, that is exactly right.
Audience: ...that is what you are talking about, all the different religions, and in a way it is saying not, all these religions they were all false.
Speaker: Well, our ideas about them are.
Audience: Well, I have a basic understanding of different religions and once I get into it I just get all confused. I say forget about that because I don't even want to go into it because a lot of the religions to me are not true, I feel like they are not coming from God or what I consider to be God, because to me God is all loving, to me there is no, God is not going to harm me.
Speaker: You are at exactly the point that I have been emphasizing, because when you can see the conflicts of life, the conflicts of perception, you have no choice but to learn to meditate, because the more you continue to explore the religions, to theorize, the examine the doctrines, to discuss, to debate, the questions only become bigger, the conflict only becomes more elaborate, the problems only become more sophisticated.
Audience: But there is no answer.
Speaker: There is absolutely and definitely an answer, but the answer cannot be found with the intellect or with the five senses. The answer can only be found when you put the mind in a state of peace, and in that realm, then you can learn to perceive something with other tools than the intellect: you can learn with the consciousness. In that case, you can start to penetrate the Prajna which is the insight into true nature, then the answer will come, but you have to only be patient. Put the mind in equipoise, relax and meditate, and your answers will come, little by little. The more you seek to fill the mind and to examine the doctrines and theories, the more confused you will become, so you have to complement your study with the practice and do them both; little by little you will reach it.
Audience: Is it true, is it possible to penetrate through the bottommost level of hell?
Speaker: No. It is not. The theories that the demons are advancing have their roots in the times of Lemuria. In the times of Lemuria, this idea was spread that there was a way to reach realization faster, and some Masters and students at that time were seduced by this very subtle doctrine and entered into the wrong path, believing that they could advance through the Klipoth and into the Absolute, and this is a wrong teaching, it is not true.
Audience: You said before that the ego exists because of karma, can you elaborate more on that?
Speaker: The ego exists because it is karma, the ego itself is a karmic consequence of wrong action. The moment we entered into wrong activity we produced consequences, and that consequence in that initial instant was the first ego, and that was born from the original sin. Subsequent wrong actions further elaborated additional egos until now we are left with the legion that we have within.
Audience: Does Atman exist in the absolute truth?
Speaker: Atman is only a vessel, like every other level of the Being. Each aspect of the Being exists in conventional truth. In the same way that we have a physical body, which exists here physically, and through our physical senses we can confirm that the physical body has conventional reality, but it does not have ultimate reality. Likewise we proceed in the same way throughout the Tree of Life, including Atman. Atman exists because of causes and conditions, Atman is an unfoldment of Daath, of the Elohim, and so Atman is not something that independently exists of everything else. Does that make sense? Atman also is subject to dependent origination, therefore, in its essence, is empty. Even the Absolute is emptiness itself. If the Absolute is emptiness itself, how could anything else escape that law? Nothing can. Everything is lacking "I", the Christ has no "I", and the Christ is that perfect elaboration of existence; if there is no "I" there, how can there be a real "I" somewhere else?
Comment: So Atman is like a bulb and his own reality is the electricity.
Speaker: Right, so in the same way that the Bodhisattva is a bulb that transmits light, Atman is a bulb which transmits light. That light in his case is that energy of Christ which he needs us to incarnate. Any other questions?
Audience: You talk about karma and the reason why we are in the condition that we are, but the question is, how can you be doing something wrong if you do not know that what you are doing is wrong, and if you do not know that something is wrong, how can anything or anybody tell you or pursue you as if you are? Because if you do not know that you are wrong, and you are doing wrong, how can you tell somebody, "You are not doing right" or "You are not doing wrong", sometimes you are not intentionally doing wrong.
Speaker: Sure, let me explain what karma actually means. Karma does not say what is right and wrong. Karma is not a law of judgment or ethics, or morality. Karma is simply like the law of gravity. The law of gravity simply exists, in this physical world, so if we pick up something and drop it, it has a consequence. Karma is exactly the same; karma is just the law that manages energy in nature. For every action, there is a consequence; that is all karma is. Karma does not create anything, and karma does not say, "You should do this and not do that." We are free to do whatever we want, but this is the problem; because we ignore the way nature functions, the way existence really is, we persist in performing actions whose consequences we do not perceive. So for example, we have a desire, and because we do not perceive that the desire could be harmful for us or someone else, we persist in exploring it or fulfilling it. And then we have the consequences of it, and because we do not recognize the cause, we suffer. We do not recognize the problem.
Audience: But isn't that a way of learning? Whatever you want to learn you have to know what you want to learn and take a path to...
Speaker: That is why we have these teachings, but unfortunately most people would rather fulfill their desires than study the law. You know in Hebrew, Torah means "law" right? And Torah is the body of teachings in that tradition which expresses, "If you do this, this will happen," "If you do that, this will happen." The word Dharma also means law, and if we study the Dharma or the teaching, the law, then we understand; if we perform this action, this will be the result. We are free to do it, we can go ahead and do that action if we want to, but we will have the consequences for it. The problem nowadays is that people are not interested.
Audience: Okay, so the question is now, how do we know what is true? How do we know what truth is?
Speaker: This is exactly it, because of the two truths, the only way to know that truth is through meditation.
Audience: But let me explain what I am talking about or what I mean. At one time we thought that the world was flat and if you went around it you would fall through. At that point, truth was that the world was flat. So what religions, and everything this is saying, truth is what you perceive as true until something happens that you change your mind or whatever it is to make you ... Well no, this is not truth because something happened that changed my perception of what truth is.
Speaker: So why does an alcoholic continue to drink when they know it is wrong?
Speaker: Exactly, that is the problem. We are all addicted to sensation: intellectual sensations, emotional sensations, and physical ones. Even though on some level we may know something is wrong, we continue to do it because of the addiction; it is too strong. We do not want to change it, so we suffer until we change it.
Audience: So how do you know what to follow?
Speaker: By observing yourself; observing yourself, and learning to meditate. It is only when you separate from that addiction that you can see it for what it is. If the alcoholic is in the bar and drinking, they are there and absorbed in it, they cannot recognize the problem. It is only when they step outside that they can then see "that is bad, that is hurting me." Right? We need to do the same thing with our own mind. We are creating our own suffering.
Audience: That is the hard thing to do.
Speaker: It is very hard.
Audience: Because here you are on a globe spinning around and it looks [...] and individual bodies. Now how does an individual grasp the idea of everything that is and still be in this body and... How do you grasp it?
Speaker: It is difficult.
Audience: Your mind can't grasp...
Speaker: That is why you have to go beyond the mind. Meditation is the answer again.
Speaker: I know, there are a lot of buts. (laughter)
Audience: But we are born in this physical world, and the idea is, why are we here? What are we here to learn?
Speaker: We are here to learn who we truly are.
Audience: I know we do not condemn or praise ourselves the work in observation, but is condemning a form of observation?
Speaker: No, condemning is a form of judgment.
Speaker: Whatever you condemn you are judging. You have to separate the processes, self-observation is mere observation. Judgment should only occur after you have meditated. You cannot really judge something until you know it, right? Judgment itself is Prajna, but you cannot have judgment until you know it. This is why in the lecture I read from the scripture that says, you can not know something, you cannot refute something's existence until you know that thing. The same is true of an ego; you cannot refute that ego, you cannot destroy that ego, until you know that ego, and you can only know that ego by meditating on it and comprehending it in its depth. Then the Prajna comes, which is the wisdom, the insight, the judgment, then you can execute it.
Audience: Yeah, but just to say that somebody pokes you with anger, right? And you say that [...] I have not walked in his shoes so I do not know if the anger might be because of me. Just the observation of that, does that [...], the observation of that?
Speaker: The mistake can arise that when you are observing something that you are trying to analyze it or judge it in those moments; you shouldn't, you should simply observe. When you switch into analysis or judgment in those moments, that means you are stopping your observation, right? You might miss something. When you are working, when you are going to your daily life, you should be observing first, continually. There might be moments of analysis, but that analysis should be able to occur within the context of continual observation, and most of us do not have that skill. Most of us, our consciousness is so weak we can only do one little thing at a time, and not even for very long. So my recommendation is, in the beginning, do not judge, do not analyze; observe. Observe, observe, observe, continually. And then at the end of the day, when you can separate yourself from every distraction, meditate, then analyze, then after analysis you can approach judgment.
Audience: So you are not supposed to judge egos while they are happening, for example; if I am doing something self-destructive I need to observe it or stop it, right? If I stop the action I have nothing left to observe plus the egos are different when they know I am watching.
Speaker: The question is that, is observing and judging different? If we observe something harmful and we stop, we cannot observe it anymore, so it is said in the question. There is a distinct difference between observing something and reacting to it. You might be doing a wrong action, and if you sense it, if you feel in yourself that it is wrong, then you should stop. It is foolhardy to persist in a wrong action just because you think you need to learn about it or to know about it, that is suicidal. If something is wrong, stop. If you know it, if you sense it, if you feel it, that it is wrong, do not continue. You will only deepen your suffering. When you perform an action knowing it is wrong, the karma is heavier. Even if it is supposedly so you can learn; this is self-deception. If you know an action is wrong, stop. Then later, meditate on that entire transaction, even the temptation to persist in the wrong action, because that is all that is. If you feel something is wrong and you feel tempted to do it, do not use the teachings as the excuse for you to persist in performing that action, because this is wrong. The instant you know something is wrong, stop. The instant you know something is right, do it. That is all. The judgment comes later, the analysis comes in meditation. Remember, the intellect is a very clumsy tool. Do not rely on the intellect for your insight. All your intellect can do is compare, it cannot bring Prajna.