This is a transcription of the audio lecture Self knowledge 02 The Knowledge of This Moment originally given live on Gnostic Radio, which you can download for free. There is also an accompanying PDF: Self knowledge 02 The Knowledge of This Moment PDF
In the previous lecture we were describing the importance of this moment, and in that lecture we introduced some important subjects related to consciousness. In general, when we talk about any kind of spiritual teaching, any type of psychological teaching, we need to understand this core term, which in English is "consciousness."
In every religion or psychological tradition, we study we find different words that are used to describe something about experience, about perception. In this tradition of Gnosis, we use many words, including from other languages, precisely because the English language is very limited in its ability to convey true conscious knowledge. The English language does not have the terminology to accurately expresses knowledge of consciousness. So we use terms from other languages in order to understand it. If the terminology seems overwhelming, just remember when you were in kindergarten or first grade and all the terminology seemed overwhelming, but now you do not even think about that anymore. The same is true about the terms we use in this tradition. Once you grasp what the terms point to, you no longer worry about the terms, but instead penetrate the meaning.
So in the previous lecture we explained some terms; in particular we talked about two terms that are very important in any religious or psychological pursuit, and those terms are self-observation and self-remembering. As you can see, these terms quite obviously begin with the word "self."
If you have any familiarity with the history of philosophy, undoubtedly you will have encountered the teaching of the Oracle of Delphi, who said,
"Man know thy self and thou shalt know the universe and its gods."
Who is that self? Those without an education in the deeper meanings of any genuine religion or mystical pursuit assume that self is "me, myself, my body, my thoughts." We assume that also in self-observation and self-remembering. Everybody believes That the self that we seek to "self-realize" is this terrestrial identity that has our name, our memories, our likes and dislikes. Actually, we are wrong.
The reality is that the terrestrial self that we experience as the "me, myself," what we call "I" is not fundamentally real; it is not the real self. It is an illusion that we perpetuate because of our ignorance.
Ignorance has the word ignore inside of it. As we look at the etymology, it begins with the letter "I" and then "gno". That "gno" comes from ancient roots and has relatives in many ancient languages. In particular we look at Greek. That "gno" has to do with knowledge. Sometimes that "g" could be a "k" in the same way that we say "to know." That "kno" is the same as the "gno", to know. "Diagnosis" is to examine to acquire knowledge. That "gno" in diagnosis is the same root component. That "gno" in English is the equivalent of "jna" in Sanskrit. That "jna" means to know. It doesn't mean to know with the intellect. It means to know through perception. The Greek "gno" also means to know through perception, to know from experience.
knowledge: from Old English cnawlece "acknowledgment of a superior, honor, worship;"
which is from cnawan “to perceive”
related to Sanskrit jna
When we say "to ignore," that "I" in the beginning means "to lack, to not have." So really, the word ignore means "to lack perception."
We use the word ignore incorrectly in many cases. We say someone is ignorant to imply that they lack an education, but really we use the word improperly in that case. We use it correctly when we say, "I am ignoring him." That is a correct use for the word, because we are avoiding the perception of him.
So when we talk about ignorance, we are talking about a lack of perception.
If you have studied Buddhism or Hinduism, then really you would know that these ancient teachings state that the cause of suffering is ignorance: not a lack of study, a lack of education, but a lack of perception. The perception of what? What the real self is. Both Buddhism and Hinduism state that our suffering is caused by a deluded sense of self. We suffer the illusion of self, and do not see the real self. Therefore, in psychology, when we talk about self-observation or what other people call mindfulness or watchfulness, really what we are talking about is the effort to perceive our true self, not merely to be aware of the movements of our body and our hands, not to merely be aware of thought and emotion, but to see for ourselves what is the reality. That is only possible if we open our eyes: not the physical eyes, the eyes of consciousness.
The consciousness is not dependant on physical senses, it is beyond them. Real consciousness-which all of us have to some degree-is not even the self. Consciousness is mere perception. It can perceive the self, but it is not the self. This philosophical conundrum can only be understood through experience.
When we talk about self-observation and self-remembering, what we are really talking about is a state of conscious perception without assumptions, without projection, but is instead purely receptive; it sees without filters.
The Two Lines of Life
In the previous lecture we were explaining how that type of perception works, and we explained a simple diagram that we call the two lines. There is a horizontal line, an imaginary line, that we visualize and imagine that represents the line of time that goes behind us through the past and ahead of us to the future. That line of time represents life, the progression of change, and most of us only experience that change as what we call time.
We explained in that lecture that there is also another line that bisects this line, but moves vertically, and we call this line the line of being. This line measures consciousness.
In the infinte heights, we discover those realms that are traditionally called "heavens" and can also be called "nirvana." In those heights we find consciousness that is unfiltered, that sees the truth. The higher you ascend in those levels of being, the more pure your vision, your perception, and the less clouded.
At the very heights of those levels of being on this line of being, on this line of consciousness, we find the most rarified, pure levels of existence. We call those levels Ain Soph, the Absolute, sunyata, Adhi-buddha, Samantrabadha, Brahma. Depending on your religion, there is a name for that level. That level of existence some call a state of non-existence, and this would be true. It is a primordial unmanifested level of existence, which is in the heart of all things. In every atom we find the Absolute, what can also be called Uncreated light.
At the polar opposite of this energy of the line of being we find the hell realms, what we could call samsara. These are levels of increasing density in which the consciousness becomes more and more conditioned.
On this line of being, we see every creature that exists on every level of existence. At the highest levels we find the most profound gods, and below them the Demi-gods, the angels, the Devas, and below them the elementals, and below them, demons. You see, on these levels of the line of being, we find every kind of being, and they are at those levels relative to the conditioning of their consciousness.
A Buddha, a master, an angel, has freed their consciousness from all conditions, is not bound by anything, is completely free, thus experiences absolute happiness. Their experience of life is unconditioned, with absolute freedom, pure joy, peace, with a profound brilliant intelligence and wisdom.
At the other end, we find those beings that are deeply conditioned, subject to ever-increasing numbers of laws, who are kept in those realms due to the consequences of their own actions. Beings in the lower levels are those who have acted in ignorance of the laws of nature, and have thus created consequences that they must bear. Every action has a consequence; this is called karma: cause and effect.
In all those levels of the line of being, there is perception, but perception is different depending on the level in which you exist.
Knowledge is the key factor to change our position in the line of being: knowledge, comprehension, understanding.
Those beings that are conditioned, who are trapped in the effects of their previous actions, are conditioned by those actions. For example, when you cause pain, you are pained. When you hurt others, you receive hurt in return. Everything we do bears a consequence for ourselves. When we steal, things are taken from us. When we lie, we are lied to. When we express anger, we receive anger. This is a very simple mechanism in nature, but unfortunately, we lack knowledge of it. All of our suffering is due to this lack of knowledge or perception.
So all those beings that live in those realms like our own and below us, suffer because of causes they have produced. If any being including ourselves becomes cognizant of the cause of their suffering, they will stop producing that suffering, and therefore they will become free from it. It is quite simple.
A drunkard may have been told, may be able to say and express the concept that alcohol is bad and harmful and causes suffering, but nonetheless the drunkard continues to drink because that drunkard lacks cognizance, conscious knowledge of the effects of the alcohol. Likewise a Gnostic student, a religious student who has taken vows in Tantra, for example, may know from the scripture, from the teaching that lust is harmful, but they continue to indulge in lust. Thus, they do not have cognizance of the effect of that action, and thus they continue to produce suffering.
A glutton may know very well in his intellect, in his heart, that to eat too much or to eat harmful food, impure food, is bad and creates suffering, but continues to eat too much or to eat the wrong things and thus is not cognizant, does not have conscious knowledge, does not have comprehension of that action.
We say, "I know that I shouldn't smoke that cigarette" but we do it anyway. We do not know, we have no gnosis of that, just a concept of it. What we have is ignorance; we ignore willingly, lacking perception of the truth. We willingly lack conscious knowledge of that.
All of us suffer from this problem and that is why suffer.
As we explained in the previous lecture, to resolve it we need to understand how perception functions. The way we get out of this problem, the way that we transform our experience of existence and acquire real knowledge, is to learn how to perceive, to learn how to become cognizant and conscious.
That potential does not exist in the past or the future on the line of life. The potential for change, real change, is right here and now in the present moment. It is where these two lines intersect- the line of life and the line of being - and that is right now.
From the point of view of consciousness, there is no past, there is no future, there is only right now. It is to be present, to be, to be here and now, to perceive, to see what is. Not to project, not to imagine, but to see the facts as they are, without filters, without changing them, to open the eyes of consciousness, to be awake.
None of us arrive at this state automatically. It is not a form of autopilot. It takes willpower. It takes the effort to remember it, to actively perceive. Unfortunately, we do not do this. We lack the training, we lack examples in our lives, we lack knowledge, but if we can learn to train ourselves not only to perform the action of conscious of perception but to become cognizant of its effects, then we can open up the door to real change. We can transform our experience of life. We can change our level of being.
Raising our Level of Being
Our level of being is completely dependent on a single factor: our perception. Our level of being is determined by how and what we see. If we are not capable of being here and now, then our level of being is in decline. If we are capable of being here and now, then our level of being can rise.
In other words, the more capable we become of perceiving the reality we are facing, without filters on our perception, the more our level of being can rise. The problem is this: we do not want to see reality. We claim that we want to see the truth, but really we only want to see what we believe and desire.
We all act and present ourselves that we are good people, we tell ourselves that we are good people, we try to maintain the image of being a good person but sincerely, honestly, we are not, and we are unwilling to see the truth of the situation that we have created for ourselves.
None of us are willing to see ourselves as we truly are, we do not want to see how we lie to ourselves and others. We do not want to see our greed, our laziness. We especially do not want to see our lust. We do not want to see our envy, our fear, we do not want to face it, we want to ignore it. We want to not see it. That is what this word ignore really means: to not see, to ignore.
This is a very difficult habit to break. When we come to religion, mysticism, spirituality, what we really want, if we are honest with ourselves, is someone to make us feel better, we want promises of a better future, we want assurances that we will come out of suffering. We want an insurance policy that says "if you agree with this and this and this you will go to heaven. If you pay a certain amount of money or if you join a certain group and make certain vows and commitments then you will go to nirvana." Those are lies; they are not honest. No genuine teaching or religion presents such offers. That is because complete religions teach that there is only one way for liberation from suffering, and that is to remove the causes of suffering form with ourselves. The causes of suffering are in our minds. The causes of suffering are psychological, even the causes of our physical and emotional suffering are psychological; they are inside of us. Death does not change them. We carry those causes from lifetime to lifetime. Beliefs and theories do not change our suffering.
To fundamentally change our suffering, we need to change the nature of our psyche. That begins with seeing the truth. Let us begin right now, with Self-observation and self-remembering. The action of being present, here at the crossing of these two lines, is here and now.
So be awake. Open your consciousness to perceive what you can perceive right now. What can you perceive? Are you relaxed? Are you feeling all of the sensations that are happening in your body? Consciously perceiving them—uncomfortable feelings, comfortable feelings, or indifferent ones. Are you aware of everything that is happening in your physical body from moment to moment? Are you consciously controlling your physical body? Many of us fidget, itch, scratch, move around without any consciousness of doing it.
Are you cognizant merely of the physical body? Be aware here and now in your physical body, and notice that when you make the effort to be here and now, it feels different. You feel different. We need that.
Wherever you pay attention, you send energy. When you pay attention to yourself, you keep that energy; that energy can help you, it can nourish you, it can heal you. Most of the time, we are not aware of where our attention is going, therefore we do not know where our energy is going, and that is why most of us are so tired all of the time. We always need coffee and those "special drinks" people are trying to sell to us, because we waste all of our energy all the time.
If you can be aware of your physical body and everything that is happening in your physical body, also be aware of what is happening with your emotions, and what is happening with your thoughts. Be watchful, not on autopilot, experiencing what is happening and not paying much attention to it; instead, actively observe it.
Now let's ask a question. In this state of perception, being present here and now, not being distracted by past or future but being here and now, ask yourself this question, "What can I affirm is true? What is true? What is real?" If you can keep this kind of questioning with yourself in all of your experiences in life, a lot of your suffering will stop, because a lot of our suffering is just projections of the mind, misinterpretations of what we have heard, of what we have been told, what we would like to be believe or what we are afraid is true.
If we try to manage our attention with this question, "What can I affirm through my perception as truth?" A lot of that ephemeral nonsense in our heads is cut away.
For example, we know being here and now in the body we could state that we are alive, we could state that we have a body, that we have perception, that we have thought and emotion, that we experience sensations. In other words, through our perception we can confirm the existence of our three brains. These three brains being the physical brain which is the body, the emotional brain in the heart, and the intellectual brain that is inside of our head. We could say with some degree of certainty that these things are true, but if we are serious in maintaining this present perception and we make constant, continual effort to be here and now, to be present and watchful and to be checking to see if the things around us are actually real and true, that behavior will extend into the time when our physical body is sleeping, and when we are out of our physical body in the dream state we will also be asking these questions. "Is what I am seeing true? Is it real? Can I confirm it? Can I validate it?" Then we will discover that things are not as we thought. We may even discover that we are in the dream world. We may even discover that we are dead and did not realize it.
The only way to acquire this types of knowledge is to perceive in this way, and not assume that what we see is real and true, but to question it. Maintain a distinction internally between the observer and the observed. That distinction is simply this: knowing that the perceiver is not the perceived. Knowing that perception is its own energy and it is distinct. Through that we can start to acquire real knowledge.
When we look at the root of the word knowledge in English, we find that it is from an ancient old English word that means "to perceive." In other words, can we say that what we have read or what we have been told is true? Can we sincerely stand before the presence of reality, the truth, God, Buddha and state what we have been told is true? That what we have read in a book or read on the internet or seen on TV is true? What can we say is true, honestly? We may have read a book about how wonderful things are in France, and we may believe it, and we may be very enthusiastic about everything about France, and tell everybody about how great France is, but if we have never been there, we are a liar.
The same is true of our opinion about God. If we have never met God, our Innermost, our inner Buddha, if we have never perceived with our consciousness the reality of the divine, and yet we talk about it and affirm it and explain it and recommend everybody to get involved with it, we are a liar.
We do not know until we have seen it, experienced it. Until then, we do not have real knowledge.
There are many who teach psychology, religion, spirituality, mysticism, kundalini yoga, astral travel, about the chakras, about the tarot, about the Kabbalah. They may be wealthy from teaching, they may have millions of followers, and they may be great liars who have never experienced what they teach.
Are we a liar when we argue about politics or about a politician that we have never met, who we do not know personally, intimately? We all make many statements—filled with conviction—about people we have never met. We are liars because we have not perceived it for ourselves. In reality, those people may not even exist! We may have seen images of them on TV, but nothing on TV is real. We may have read it in a book or a magazine, but those are just opinions of other people who probably do not know anything either.
Most grave of all of this most so-called "knowledge" about religion and spirituality that we have read and been told and believe in, but really, we do not know if it is true. We may have argued about it, fought about it, supported it for years and years, and dedicated a lot of time in our lives supporting teachings and concepts and schools that were really all just lies. Whose fault is that? We would like to blame to leaders of those religions, the writers of those books. We would like to blame the politicians for our problems. We would like to blame those in charge of the media, the government. The one who is at fault is ourselves, because we have affirmed what we do not know. We have believed what we have not confirmed.
Real knowledge, genuine knowledge, can only be acquired through our own perception, through our own experience, especially when it comes to religion. We need to see for ourselves.
The Sanskrit word "jna" means "to know through perception of reality," and this is were we get the word gnosis. The Greek and Sanskrit here are in complete agreement on this term, and even though the so-called experts might disagree, all the knowledge of the Greek and all the knowledge of the Hindus came from the same place. It came from the consciousness itself, which is far older than any of these civilizations or traditions.
There is knowledge that you can acquire on the line of being that is older than any atom on this planet. There is knowledge that you can acquire through your perception that is older than this universe. You cannot find it in any book, or from any teacher, or from any library or temple. You find it through awakening, through perceiving the truth. Anyone can acquire that, if you awaken. Moreover, anyone can acquire the experience of God, divinity.
This word jna or gnosis is used in a religious sense. Jnana yoga is a type of yoga related to knowledge in Hinduism, knowledge of god. Yoga comes from yug which means "to unite, to bind" and that is the same as the root in English of the word religion which is the Latin religare, which means "to reunite, to return, to bind again what was broken." Many foolish people (because of their own spiritual traumas and lack of experience with the divine) interpret religare to mean that the word religion is bondage; this misinterpretation is only because they have a spiritual trauma, because they have been lied to for centuries. It is understandable that they are angry. They have been lied to by those who also lack knowledge—perception of the divine—but have presented themselves as spiritual authorities.
The real root of the word religion means "restore, to reunite what was separated." We have been separated from the divine, not by the divine, but by our own actions. We have become entranced by illusions, and have walked away from the truth, and we continue to do it everyday.
People say, "Why can't I see God? If god is real, why can't I see God? God should come stand here before me and prove that he exists." The very statement reveals why it won't happen. The divine will never bow to pride, to anger. The divine exists in realms that are unconditioned and unbound. That is which is bound and conditioned cannot perceive what is unconditioned.
When you are angry, you can only see through your anger. Reflect on a moment when you became angry with someone that you love. Everything that person does irritates you, because you are angry, even when that person tries to be sweet and patient, it only makes you more angry. Your consciousness is filtered by that anger, thus your consciousness can only see what the anger sees. In the exactly same way, you cannot see the divine as long as your consciousness is filtered by that which opposes the divine. That means any ego, any defect—pride, envy, gluttony, greed, fanaticism, fear. A fearful person cannot see god, an arrogant person cannot. A lustful person cannot. An envious person cannot, because the consciousness is filtered, conditioned by those defects.
Perceiving Harmful Action
That is why I suggested to you: be present here and now, see what is, not what you want, not what you crave, not what you avoid, but see what is. Learn to see without filters. Without the interference of your anger, pride, craving, fear, lust, gluttony, greed. Learn to see without desire. With that type of perception, you can start to see what is.
If you are having a fight with your loved one and you are feeling angry, it is very difficult to let go of the anger and see things as they are, because the anger has a lot of power. When you are enflamed with lust, it is very difficult to see without the influence of the lust. When you are infected with envy, it is very difficult to see without the envy, but we have to learn. Learn by first seeing the condition itself.
When you become angry, when you become lustful or envious, perceive it, become aware of it, do not avoid the perception of it. See it for what it is. Not only that, but observe its effects. Consciously become aware of how those perceptions affect your experience of life and the experience of others. When you become lustful, proud, arrogant, or afraid, when these emotions cloud your heart and influence your thought and stimulate sensations in your body and the impulses to act, become aware of it.
When you observe yourself and you catch yourself being sarcastic, saying something cruel, do not just avoid your perception of that. Do not just say, "I didn't mean it, I'm sorry" and walk away from that perception. Observe, watch what your words do. Look into the face of the one who heard what you said, and see the pain, recognize it, because if you do not, you will repeat the mistake in the future.
When you experience the emotion, the sensation, and the thought of lust, and you have heard these teachings and you say to yourself, "No, no, I can't allow lust" and you avoid it, you are also avoiding the acquisition of the knowledge of lust and its consequences. Thus, when those desires arise in you, learn to observe them, and moreover, observe their effects. Observe how those experiences of lust in your psyche exhaust your energy, color your perceptions, filter your perceptions, drain you of vitality, cause a great deal of negativity to arise in your heart and mind—a lack of respect for others, a lack of love, the arrival of animality, cruelty, selfishness.
Observe the consequences of your psychological states and you will start to acquire knowledge of them.
The reason humanity is in the suffering it is in now is because we lack knowledge of the consequences of our actions, and we lack knowledge of the divine. We lack knowledge of the divine because we cannot see the divine if we are conditioned by psychological defects. To see the divine, free yourself from psychological conditioning. When you are free of psychological conditioning, you naturally perceive reality.
There is a scripture that illuminates some of this. This scripture is called Atma Bodha. It was written by a master named Shankaracharya. He is also called Adi Shankara or just Shankara.
The very first line of this scripture states:
"I am composing the ATMA-BODHA, this treatise of the Knowledge of the Self, for those who have purified themselves by austerities and are peaceful in heart and calm, who are free from cravings and are desirous of liberation."
This scripture was written almost two thousand years ago. The author only lived a little over thirty years but he changed the history of Asia, the whole continent, because he knew how to see. He was awake. Shankara is a great master.
He translates the title Atma Bodha in this first passage as meaning "self knowledge." As I was explaining in the beginning, we talk a lot about self—self-realization, self-observation, self-remembering. As I expressed to you, that self is not really this terrestrial self. It is Atma.
Atma is a Sanskrit word literally that translated means "self" but it is not our terrestrial self. This title Atma Bodha or "self knowledge" means "direct perception of the Being, of the Innermost, of Chesed (in Hebrew). It is the direct perception to know our inner Buddha or Self. We all lack that knowledge until we have experienced it for ourselves. So, let us be sincere, let us be honest; if we really want to change, we need to begin with that: with being honest. Have we experienced our true Self, our real Being? Do we have knowledge acquired from that perception, or do we just have a lot of beliefs, a lot of longings?
The Practice of Austerities
This first sentence says that he composed this scripture for those "who have been purified by the practice of austerities." So we can all see that we are all not qualified to read this scripture, because we have not been purified. The practice of austerity means that one has renounced desire. That renunciation is to not merely take a vow, and stop wearing blue jeans and to wear robes, and it doesn't mean that one shaves ones heads and carries around some beads, or joins a certain group or goes into the mountains for meditation. The real practice of austerities is a psychological practice in which we manage our attention and do not allow it to indulge in impurity. We do not allow our psyche to persist with its pride, resentment, envy, fear, lust, anger, gluttony, laziness.
The practice of austerities genuinely truly brings about purification of the psyche. Such a person—no matter what religion they may claim to belong to what continent they come from—naturally begins to raise their level of being, because they are no longer creating karma that is producing suffering. This type of austerity is psychological.
When you stop engaging in harmful thought, harmful emotion, harmful action, you stop producing harm and you rise. It is quite simple; it is cause and effect.
Being sincere and looking with conscious perception at ourselves, we can see that we are not accomplishing this. The way we live our lives from day to day is the opposite. We continually, from moment to moment, indulge in our pride, affirm our pride. We are always telling ourselves that we are right and that others are wrong. We always indulge in our resentment, we always believe that others have wronged us, have stolen from us, but we do not see our own crimes.
We always indulge in our envy. We feel that we deserve what others have and we are not grateful for what we do have. We see that someone else has something that we want, it could be material thing, it could be a position in society, it could be a spiritual title or a throne and we want that. We feel we deserve that. We may feel that they took it from us or that we should take it from them. That is envy. That is impure.
We indulge in our anger; we believe our anger is justified. We believe that life has been unjust, that our parents have mistreated us and done us wrong, that our co-workers and our employers do us wrong, that our government does us wrong, that our friends do us wrong and our anger is acceptable. These are all lies. Anger is impure. No Buddha, no Angel, no Master has anger.
Peaceful In Heart
We need to be purified through the practice of psychological austerities. The natural consequence of this is that we become what he states next: those "who are peaceful in heart."
Our hearts are not at peace. Our hearts are tumultuous: tumultuous with desires—lustful desires, arrogant desires, fearful desires. We want security, physically, financially, spiritually. We have a lot of fear—spiritual fear, political fear, economic fear. Our hearts are not at peace. We do not accept what we have, we are not grateful for what we have. We want something different. We are always caught in that pendulum from craving to aversion. Our heart swings wildly from one side to the other constantly. Our thoughts racing, our heart surging, our body filled with tension.
If our heart was truly at peace, our body would be relaxed. We would not have any tension anywhere. We would not have a mind that is in tension or chaos either. We would be relaxed, serene, we would smile, we would not look like death. If you observe the face of people nowadays, it is very rare to see serenity, very rare, especially on television, especially in big cities. What we see on the faces of people is rampant desire, the desire to be accepted, to be praised, to be worshipped. This is what we see. We see it in the mirror also, if we are sincere.
All of us want to be loved by society, praised by society, envied by others. We do not comprehend that all those things are illusions. As high as your station in the physical world may be, you will not take any of it with you when you die,. When you die, all you will take is the level of being you reached, whether it is high or low. That is all you take with you.
Liberation from Suffering
Those who have been purified through the practice of austerities become peaceful in heart. They become free from cravings, and their only craving, their only desire, we could say, is for liberation, liberation from suffering. Liberation from suffering cannot be acquired from any master, book, school, teacher; no one can liberate you but yourself, and you cannot do it in the future.
Many say, "Once I acquire a certain amount of money in the bank then I will get serious about my spiritual life." Or, "Once I have read a certain number of books...," or "Once I have gotten my degree...," or "Once I have gotten my education...," or "Once I have gotten married..." We have a lot of excuses, a lot of reasons, a lot of justifications.
Liberation does not exist in the future. Liberation begins now, with how you use perception. Liberation is only acquired through your ability to perceive reality and to free yourself from conditioning.
The one who in this doorway of this present moment frees themselves from conditioning begins to rise. This is a law of nature. It does not happen in the future. It happens here and now. It happens in a matter of how you perceive. You have to fee your consciousness from its bondage. That bondage is psychological, it is self-imposed. Our bondage was made by ourselves.
In other words, your physical circumstances—rich or poor, educated or not, married or single—are irrelevant in relation with awakening. We need to awaken in every moment, in every circumstance. There is no circumstance in existence that excuses us from awakening here and now.
So this scripture Atma Bodha in this first line is explaining that, and this is only the first line. This scripture is very deep. Like any scripture, if you analyze it deeply it can reveal a lot to you, but it can only reveal in proportion to how awake you are. If you read it the way you read a newspaper or a magazine, you will gain nothing. If you read it and put it into practice through your perception, you will gain a lot.
Knowledge and Liberation
The second line states:
"As fire is the direct cause of cooking so knowledge and not any other form of discipline is the direct cause of liberation. For liberation cannot be attained without knowledge."
Over the centuries, some people have read this and have interpreted it to mean that unless you have read scripture or have been taught rituals or religious practices, you cannot acquire liberation. That is false. We do need some intellectual knowledge and study, but that is not the knowledge that liberates.
What this passage is explaining is very simple but it contradicts our intellect. It contradicts our beliefs. This line is only explaining the line of being, very clearly. When we understand that the line of being is the line of energy, of consciousness. Your position on that line in nature is relative to the conditioning of your consciousness. If you are suffering, your consciousness is conditioned. Only those who have a free consciousness do not suffer, and those are great masters. The only way to be liberated is through knowledge, but knowledge of what? That is what we have been explaining. Knowledge of what caused the suffering, and knowledge of what is free of suffering, two parts of one thing. Both are knowledge of consciousness.
Firstly, we need knowledge of what is suffering. How do you suffer? In how many ways? What do we want liberation from? Stress, pain, uncertainty, anxiety, poverty, loneliness, a lack of fulfilment, a lack of belonging, feeling inferior, feeling abandoned, feeling oppressed, etc. The only way to acquire liberation from suffering is to first know what that is. That knowledge is not intellectual, it is not a belief, it has to be perceived. Thus, observe your suffering, do not avoid it, do not indulge in it, see it for what it is. When you experience it, look at it, really experience it, but we want to avoid it. We do not want to see our pain, we want to avoid it, we want to ignore.
When we feel pain, we look for our tranquilizers. Some of us find our tranquilizers in going out with our friends because they make us feel better. We run to our pets because they love us unconditionally (we think). Some of us run to shopping, to the internet, to play games, to watch television, to go to the movies. We may run to our hobbies. We may run to fantasizing about going on a vacation. We avoid. We do not want to look in the face of what makes us suffer. We do not want to look into the face of what causes us pain. We want to avoid it.
When a family member says something hurtful to us, we want to avoid them. When a loved one, a spouse, a boyfriend or girlfriend does something hurtful, we want to avoid it, we break up, we walk away, we leave, we may attack but we want to avoid what hurts us.
So long as we do not face our suffering, we will never understand it, we will never escape it, we will never overcome it, because we are willfully avoiding it.
"As fire is the direct cause of cooking, so knowledge and not any other form of discipline is the direct cause of liberation."
Knowledge is perception of the truth—conscious knowledge, cognizant perception, to see it for what it is. When someone spreads gossip about us, we generally want to reply in kind, we want to attack them back. We want to say, Oh yeah, I know this and that about them. They may have said things about me but I know worse things about them," and we want to spread all that gossip and hurt them back. We do not want to look at the pain in us and what is hurt, and analyze that, and dissect it. What is hurt is our pride. Our pride is the cause of suffering, not the gossip, not the other person: the cause is our pride. The gossip only caused it to be activated.
When we get passed over for a promotion, when we do not get hired for a job, when we do not win a competition, we become angry, hurt, we blame others, we blame conditions, we blame this and that. We do not want to look at the cause of our suffering, which is our pride (embarrassment). We do not want to analyze that our pride is the problem. That is why we suffer. If we want to be liberated from that suffering, we need knowledge of it.
That is the first part; to look at what suffers and to get to know it, to not avoid it. This naturally requires meditation. This observation cannot be successfully done while you are doing other things. You cannot comprehend and understand your suffering while you are doing other things. You need to sit, close all of your senses, and analyze consciously the cause of the suffering, and see it for what it is. This is why we learn a practice called retrospection.
Everyday we learn to sit everyday at the end of the day and review our experiences of the day, and to pick out those moments that we need to understand better: something we did, something that happened to us, something we thought or felt. Somewhere where suffering was caused.
We just sit and we reflect on it. This is very difficult, because the mind wants to change the memory. We play the scene in our mind and our imagination and the mind wants to change it, to justify ourselves and to make the other people seem even worse. This is why we suffer! We cannot trust our own mind. We cannot trust our own perception, because it is filtered, and even when trying to review the event, we are still trying to filter it. Our perception is conditioned. It takes enormous awareness to maintain purity of perception. It does not happen automatically. It is very difficult to see things as they are, especially in the beginning. Nonetheless, to be free from suffering, we need knowledge of the cause of suffering, thus we have to train ourselves to see reality.
The second part of that knowledge is to see that which does not suffer. You cannot understand that anger is suffering, that lust is suffering, that envy is suffering, until you understand what it is to not have them.
That Which Does not Suffer
All of us think that the life we have now is normal, and that is just the way it is, and we just have to make the best of it and just get as many materialistic things as we can and have as much fun as we can until we die. This is a deep form of ignorance. Life now is not the way it should be. This is not the way life should be. It is possible to have life without suffering, but unfortunately, we have never experienced that, so we lack knowledge of it. Through this training, you can experience that which does not suffer, and that knowledge teaches you more than any book, more than any school, more than any religion can ever teach you.
That part of us that does not suffer is the Being, the Innermost. Everyone has this within. It is what we call Self, Atma. In Kabbalah, it is called Chesed or Gedulah. In Buddhism, it is called the Buddha, the "awakened."
When you have the perception, knowledge, experience of that which does not suffer, then you can understand how to truly be free from suffering.
What I am explaining to you is not something that will happen in the future. It is not something you can buy or wait for. It is not something that you should be sitting there thinking, "Please God give me that experience, where can I find it?" Then you think, "Maybe I should go to India, or Mexico, or Egypt, maybe I can find it there." Or we want to go to different temples or religions. Let me be clear: it is not in any other place. It is not in the future or the past. It is here and now, inside of you.
You can experience that which does not suffer, here and now, if you merely open your perception to see things as they truly are. God is not anywhere else. God is right here, right now. You simply do not have the eyes to see or the ears to hear, because you are asleep. Awaken, right now, and keep awakening, and you will see.
When you have fully become trained in that ability of perception without filters, without conditioning, awake, cognizant, something that formerly would have hurt you terribly does not hurt you at all. It passes through you like a wind. For example, you lose your job or are ridiculed. When fully awake and present, remembering the divine within you, those criticisms or terrestrial "tragedies" are experienced for what they truly are: illusions, like passing clouds.
When you experience that, your experience of life will change dramatically, because you will understand that all suffering and happiness are dependent solely on our perception. This is the essence of what Padmasambhava taught in the Tantras. He stated quite simply that the only difference between samsara and nirvana is perception. It is in the moment, how we see. All of us are in samsara, conditioned by our psyche, to suffer. Nirvana just means "cessation." You can experience nirvana here and now, in your body, in any circumstances, in any place, whether you are rich or poor, whether you are sick or healthy, whether you are a man or a woman, old or young. Those are all just circumstances that are completely irrelevant. What is relevant is your perception. Are you awake, are you free of psychological conditioning? That is what produces liberation.
Knowledge Alone Destroys Ignorance
That is why we find in the third line of this scripture;
"Action cannot destroy ignorance for it is not in conflict with ignorance. Knowledge alone destroys ignorance as light destroys dense darkness."
This has been a very controversial passage of this scripture and deeply misunderstood by many religions for centuries. This is because people read it literally and do not awaken their consciousness and do not understand that genuine spirituality, yoga, religion, is about awakening consciousness, not about wearing robes and going to temples. Real yoga is about awakening, whether you are a pauper, a rich person, a nun, a laborer, or a lay person, it is all irrelevant. What is relevant is awakening.
"Action cannot destroy ignorance."
Now we have all heard for centuries in our respective religions that we must do A, B and C to be liberated. That there are given actions that we must perform or else we cannot be liberated. This passage does not contradict that. Action is the basis of everything that exists. Even when there is no manifested existence, there is still action. In the level of the Absolute, there is still cause and effect. In the highest levels, manifestation emerges because of causes. Those causes originate from the unmanifested, thus action is everywhere and in everything, but it is not action like we have action here. It is different.
There are actions that we must perform and there actions that we must avoid, but no matter what our actions are, whether they are harmful or beneficial, action alone cannot destroy ignorance. In a simple way, in a visual way, we can understand this passage when we look again at these two lines and we understand that the line of life that moves horizontally is the line of action. As we move through time we act, but the line of being is not subject to time. The line of being is perception. What this means is, we can be living our life on this line of time and we can be doing all of the actions that our religion says we must do. We can be at church or temple on time, and wear all the right clothes and do all the right prayers and do all the right mediations, go to all the rituals, have read all the books and scriptures, and have tried to maintain a pure life, but yet not destroy an atom of ignorance. In fact, we may have acquired more. Why? Because in all those actions we were never cognizant, awake, aware. We acted and acted and acted, but never to acquire genuine knowledge of the truth. This planet is filled with people like that.
What may appear as a contradiction is that we may have been a great criminal and done a lot of harmful action, not a single religious ritual, not a single mantra. We may have hurt a lot of people, but from different experiences have had cognizance of the effects of those actions, and in the end, realized it. In the end, such a person can actually develop a higher level of being than the person who followed all the religious precepts perfectly. How is that?
On the basis of action alone, these two a very different; one is a criminal and the other is a religious person. The criminal though becomes cognizant of the harm of their actions and thus raises their level of being. Such a person will naturally renounce those crimes and will start to do good, will start to help others. There are many examples of this. The one in my mind now is Milarepa. The Tibetan Milarepa killed people. He used black magic for revenge against people who hurt his family, and he killed them. There were many people in his community that were good religious people, who followed every precept, but he was the one who become the greatest awakened master of his age, because he understood his mistaken actions. He became conscious of it. That is how he acquired liberation. That is what this passage is stating. Liberation is not determined by our actions, but by our knowledge.
Remember, knowledge is not from books, but from perception of the truth. This knowledge is not the knowledge of scripture or of ritual or mantra. It is the knowledge of suffering, and what does not suffer. It is the knowledge of consciousness in oneself. Ultimately, it is the knowledge of the being.
"Knowledge alone destroys ignorance as light destroys dense darkness."
Nowadays, when people are caught committing crimes, they never admit it. We also never admit it. We always justify ourselves. We say, "I was abused when I was a kid, I did not have anything, people beat me, I was poor," and all of this is supposed to justify our crimes. Or, we say, "I didn't mean to hurt anybody," when in fact we did. The habit of justifying ourselves is what continues our suffering.
To really be free from ignorance, we need knowledge. Knowledge of what makes us suffer and knowledge of what is free from suffering. So we start here and now learning about ourselves; self knowledge, self observation, self remembering. I already explained that self is not the terrestrial self. Our real self, our real Being is not our terrestrial me, but the only way we can get to know our real self is to first know the self that is here and now. To know that which does not suffer we need to start by knowing that which suffers.
We suffer, so we start here and now, by looking in the face of our suffering and seeing it for what it is. I will give you a hint: most of our suffering is needless and self-produced. Most of our suffering is just a bad habit. We suffer because we have too much self-esteem, too much self -love, too much selfishness. We just have a lot of bad psychological habits. When you can learn this form of perception, a lot of that gets cleared away and you can start getting at the roots of your suffering.
The Three Brains
We study the three brains.
We have the motor/instinctive/sexual brain which is related to the body, habits of movement, sensations to act physically.
We have the emotional brain related to the heart, related to feelings, urges and impulses that are emotional.
We have an intellect where we experience thought.
None of these are our self. We think they are, but we are mistaken, and we need to understand that with our cognizance.
We think that the body is our identity. We think that what we feel is our identity. We think that what we think is our identity. We think that we are the music we like, they music we do not like, the clothes we wear. We think that we are the education we have, the city we live in, the language we speak, the memories, the conditioning that we have through our whole life but that is all just false. We think the body is our self. It is not.
You cannot know that until you begin to observe these three things. Until you begin to acquire conscious knowledge of them will you understand that you are not your thoughts. If you are your thoughts, then stop thinking, completely. If you are that, then you should be able to stop. Do not have any thoughts. The fact is, you cannot control it. You cannot control the sensations in your body. If those are you, then shouldn't you be able to control them? If those are yourself then shouldn't you be in charge? Are you in charge? Who is in charge of your psychological house? Of your physical house? Who is in charge? Shouldn't it be your self?
If you were really in charge of your thoughts, you should be able to stop your thoughts and you should be able to think on what you want to think. Instead, the truth is that when you are sincere and you observe yourself, thoughts come of their own volition. Thoughts have their own will, their own desires, their own intentions, and as much as you fight them, you cannot stop them. Why? Because those thoughts are psychological factors that arise from deep levels of our psyche. Karma. Those thoughts are the voices of trapped consciousness.
Next time you lie down to sleep, listen to those thoughts, listen to the voices that emerge in your head, and try and see if they really are who you are. You will hear voices that have voices of men, of woman, different accents, different cravings, different desires, things that do not make any sense. Who are they? Who are all those thoughts, where are they coming from? What about all those feelings, what about all those sensations? Who is the self in all of that?
Moreover, to really understand who you really are, you have to learn to meditate. You do not have to call it meditation, it can have other names. What I mean by meditation is a state of consciousness in which you have serenity, bright inner perception, clarity of vision inside, and a lack of conflict, no tension, no tension in the body, no tension in the heart, no tension in the mind, but perceptive awareness, awake, receptive. In that state you can access and experience who you really are.
In that state you can experience that you are not thought. Thought happens. Thought also can stop happening.
You are not emotion. Emotions arise and they pass away yet you are still there perceiving.
In the body, sensations arise and pass away. You can even abandon they body and still perceive that you are not the body.
That experience can only be had through meditation. Through that experience you learn. "I am not the body. I am not emotion. I am not thought. I am perception." That is cognizant knowledge. When that can be established and maintained, you can acquire liberation.
So to establish that, you have to study yourself here and now; learn to see the distinction between perceiver and perceived. In learning to see, to experience, to know that you can perceive without the body. You can perceive without emotion. You can perceive without thought, thus you are beyond all three. You are not the three brains, you are something else. That begins to open real knowledge. That requires that you are here and now. That is mapped in this diagram if this tree of life of Kabbalah.
The Self on the Tree of Life
Malkuth is the bottom sephirah of the tree of life, and represents the physical body, the motor/instinctive/sexual brain. We think we are the body. When you become cognizant, perceptive you can see that you are not the body.
Yesod, the ninth sphere, represents vital energy, the vital body, or the ethereal body. It is a body of energy or chi. Through this exercise, through this perception, you can learn that you are not vital energy.
Likewise successively up the tree of life, you can learn to perceive that you are not Hod, the astral body, emotion. You are not Netzach, the mental body, the intellect; you are not Tiphereth, the casual body, the essence, the Buddhata. You are not even Geburah, consciousness, or Chesed,spirit.
The more you awaken, the more you open your perception, the closer you get to the truth. The truth is that all of these sephiroth are all like layers of an onion. They are layers that go all the way back the Absolute.
The word "self" is relative; it is not fixed and permanent. It is relative. We can say "my self" when we talk about our body, but it is not really ourselves. The body only exists and is functional because of all these other forces that exist and act through it. If you kill the body, you do not kill your existence, you just kill the physical part. We will all die—that is, the physical body will die, but our consciousness doesn't die, it just moves on according to its karma.
Similarly, we are not the astral body, the body of desires or Kama Rupa. When we are in the astral body, we can say "this is my self," but that is relative, it isn't really true.
The same is true of the mental body, the body of thought. In the fifth dimension, you can have an awakened experience using your mental body, travelling through different realms of nature, and say "this is my self," but it isn't true, it is relative, as what makes that mental body active are all these other levels that are flowing through it.
Likewise, you can abandon that level and ascend into the sixth dimension related to Tiphereth in the tree of life, what we call Buddhata or Tathagatagarbha, the soul. We can have an experience there, awake in the sixth dimension, in heaven, and say "this is my self," but that is only relative, because that self is only there and existing because of the forces that flow through it from above. Tiphereth is not the ultimate level of "self."
Likewise, successively, this is true all the way up the tree. Who is the real self? Even Chesed, Atman, that many religions state is the "real self" is really the Spirit, what we call our personal inner Father, our Buddha. We can say that that is "our Self," that our inner Buddha is our Self, but even that strictly speaking is not fully true, because that Buddha has his own inner Buddha, has his own Self, which is above him. Therefore, not even Chesed / Aman is our ultimate Self. He is part of our self, but he only exists because of the Self in him, the light in him, which is the trimurti above, the trikaya: Dharmakaya, Nirmanakaya, Sambogokaya. ANd those only exist because of Adhi-buddha, Brahama, the Absolute.
So who is the real self? What of self have you perceived? Have you perceived and experienced any of that we just described? Or have you only experienced your physical body with a few random flickers from time to time of emotion and thought? If that is the case, you are quite low in the level of being.
A lot of us have what we call "knowledge" but we do not have real knowledge. Real knowledge is knowledge of the truth, knowledge of reality. Here, we call it gnosis. It is the knowledge of god, not intellectual but experiential, to have seen it, to have experienced it. That is jnana, that is gnosis. That is only possible by freeing the consciousness from its conditioning. We do not have that; we do not have any real knowledge at all. We barely know that we are alive. If we really knew that we were alive, we would also know that we are going to die, and we would use our life well. Instead, we waste our life, we waste our energy on frivolous things, on stupid things; thus we have no knowledge of life.
What we have is vijnana. This Sanskrit word vijnana has "jna" but it also has this "vi" at the beginning. "Vi" in Sanskrit is a diminutive. It reduces the term that follows it. So vinjnana means "little knowledge, inferior knowledge, small knowledge." Vinjnana refers to the knowledge we get in books, the knowledge we get from our traditions, beliefs, families and friends, country, education. In other words, it is all the knowledge that we get in the line of life.
We have been alive, we have had many bodies, and we have had many existences for countless ages. If we had real knowledge, we would remember it. Jnana, real knowledge, is in the consciousness, and you do not forget that. Vijnana is little knowledge, not important; it is forgotten.
Liberation comes through acquiring Jnana, gnosis, real knowledge, conscious knowledge. When you experience the divine, that experience becomes part of you. When you experience something consciously in life, it becomes part of you, it becomes part of your soul, part of your identity. It is something that no one can ever take from you.
So the knowledge of this moment is up to you. If you want to know they divine, if you want to know the truth, it is up to you to awaken and see it. Open your consciousness and see.
The Four States of Consciousness
For that reason, we study four states of consciousness.
Sanskrit / Greek
4. Turiya / Nous
3. Jagrata / Dianoia
2. Svapna / Pistis
1. Susupti / Eikasia
For us here and now, the most important of those four states is a state in Greek that is called dianoia and in Sanskrit is called jagrata. That term means literally "awake."
The acquisition of real knowledge, of Jnana, can only be acquired, can only enter into us, if we are here and now, present, watchful, awake. If you want to see God, if you want to experience the truth, be present, analyze everything, do not assume anything is true until you have perceived it for yourself. That is one of the hallmarks of the state dianoia. It can be defined as "a revision of beliefs, a revision of concepts." That revision is that we do not assume or accept anything, neither do we reject it until we know it is true for ourselves— anything, but especially spiritual knowledge.
You may have heard for your entire life that a certain person is a great master, a great spiritual leader, but until you have met the person, talked to the person, seen the person in action, you will never know if it is true. You will never have actual knowledge. To state what you have never experienced is a lie.
In the same way, we have to revise all of our thoughts and concepts and beliefs about ourselves, about others, about life, about this planet. Not accepting or rejecting anything, but seeking to confirm it. This is pure science. What is science? Its purest form is to only accept what is proven. Science nowadays does not do that. Modern science believes a lot of things that are not proven, and rejects many things that are true. Worse, modern science fights and fights to affirm what is says is a fact, then suddenly has to say it is false, but never admits of the mistake. How many products are released as completely useful and safe, only to poison and kill the naive? How many medicines, chemicals, inventions, has "science" unleashed onto us because of their unwillingness to verify the truth? The same is true of all their theories and doctrines they hold as sacred. The vast majority of so-called "modern science" is mere beliefs and theories that no one has the ability or willingness to verify through their own experience. Worse, most of their efforts only feed the war machine and the greed of corporations.
The Gnostic path is a path of pure science: not accepting, not rejecting, but proving through ones own experience. Until one knows, one does not say yay or nay, but suspends judgement.
Questions and Answers
Audience: How can the experience of nirvana be permanent?
Instructor: Firstly, we need to understand what nirvana is. Translated literally, the word nirvana means "cessation." There is a place called nirvana, we can call it "heaven," and there are many heavens, just as there are many hells; there are many levels. Those places are not permanent, they are all impermanent. Our residence in them is also impermanent. Our life is impermanent. We have life briefly, and then it is taken, and if we are lucky we may get another one. Nothing is permanent except the divine, karma, and space. Everything else changes.
We can experience nirvana and we can sustain that experience, but it is dependent on laws. We experience this level of life—whatever our level happens to be—because of the conditioning that we are in; it is self produced. We experience our life according to what we deserve. If we are suffering, we have produced the causes of that suffering, thus if we want to escape suffering and experience nirvana, we have to produce the causes for that. Those are actions, but the liberation to those levels is not caused by action, it is caused by knowledge. Performing the action is not enough; we have to understand the action and its effects. The understanding is the knowledge that brings liberation.
In other words, the action we need to engage in is to stop causing harm and to cause benefit. We summarize that in three ways.
Firstly, there is death. Everything that causes harm must die in us; we call that the ego.
Secondly, we need birth. What causes benefit must be born.
In these two, we see that our selfish behaviors, wrong perceptions, have to be cleansed and purify, and there must emerge real perception and purity, perception of the truth, and behaviors and qualities that are in harmony with nirvana, with those levels of existence.
The third factor is sacrifice for others, to help others. You cannot stay in those levels if you are selfish and only concerned for yourself. You can rise a little bit, but you cannot sustain it and you cannot rise very high.
So we have these three factors: birth, death, and sacrifice. Learn to apply those three now in your moment to moment perception of all things: look at things to see what is impure in yourself and do not empower it any longer so that it can die. Likewise, empower what is pure in yourself. Then, seek always what is best for others. In other words, exchange your anger for love, and in that you are dying, being born, and sacrificing for others. Exchanging your lust for chastity and in that you are helping others, serving others. Exchange arrogance for humility and in that you serve others, not yourself. The truly humble person is not serving themselves. If they were serving themselves they would be arrogant. The humble one does not think of themselves at all. They think of others.
So we see those three factors unified in a way of perception, how we see not only ourselves but others. In that way, from moment to moment, not only are we producing different actions, beneficial actions, but we are acquiring knowledge of those actions, and thus we naturally raise our level of being. This is natural. In the end, little by little, depending on the effort we make, we rise and we can sustain being in nirvana.
Audience: Is any experience of nirvana in our hands or a gift from God?
Instructor: Truly it is both, because you can experience nirvana only if you yourself have done actions to earn it, to deserve it. So in this way we can say action is related, but at the same time if God or your karma does not allow it you will not have it. This is why I was explaining that we need to be acceptant for what we do have and be grateful for what we do have and when we get something, be grateful.
Sometimes God makes exceptions for , and manages our karma so that we can get things that really we do not deserve. Getting access to these teachings is often that case. A large percentage of humanity truly does not deserve access to this knowledge, because they have never produced the causes to enter. Most of humanity only wants sex and money; they do not want liberation from suffering, but by the grace of God, humanity is being exposed to the real knowledge, which is good.
So it is both. God can give you experiences in nirvana to encourage you, to inspire you even when you do not deserve it. It can happen.
Audience: I would like to know if this stuff here has been experienced by the teachers?
Instructor: It would be very disingenuous and duplicitous for me to tell you these things if I had not experienced them. It would make me a liar. I cannot say that I have experienced everything in the teaching, because I have not, but I have experienced enough of it to know that it is true, and I have experienced enough of it to know that there is more that I need to know. I have also experienced enough of it to know the causes of my suffering, and that is why I am explaining it you, so you can also examine the causes in yourself.
I cannot speak for any other instructor. I do not know if other instructors from other schools and traditions have experienced gnosis; only they know. I know from my experience that some instructors that I have seen and know are liars, because some affirm things that are not true, and some affirm things they have not experienced, but that is ok, they are just liars like all of us. They are trying to help people, which is good, but they need to be aware of what they are saying and why, and they need to acquire experience for themselves of what is true and what is not, so that they will no longer be liars.
Audience: How does chastity help others?
Instructor: How does chastity help others? We could write books and books about that. The simple answer is that lust is a cause of suffering in the universe and you can only experience that when you have experienced the benefits of chastity also.
Lust is a psychological habit that consumes and devolves enormous amounts of energy. It converts what was and what should be a pure energy in nature into something impure.
A simple example is to observe the incredible beauty of a flower—not just to think of a flower or to look casually at a flower, but to sit and meditate and to contemplate the incredible beauty of a flower, its fragrance, everything about it is so pure and beautiful and that is an example of chastity but only at the level of a plant. A far greater degree of purity is possible in a human being. We call them angels or masters. A real angel or master is incredibly beautiful because of their chastity, because all that energy is pure, it is not infected with desire, craving, animalism. It is pure, a reflection of the creative powers of God, and you cannot understand that unless you've seen it, experienced it.
You can experience that with your own experiments with this science. Firstly, through working towards achieving chastity, transforming your sexual energy and cleaning it. You will experience the benefits of that on every level of yourself; physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, consciously.
Then when you have an experience face to face in person with a master who is pure, who does not have lust, you will be so ashamed of yourself and humanity whilst you are also in awe of the incredible beauty that is possible in a human being that you will realize what chastity truly is. People now on this planet think that chastity is a form of bondage, that to be chaste is to suffer. It is not, chastity is to be free.
To be in chastity is to be free of lust, the bondage of lust, the suffering of lust, to be free of it. To be a perfect expression of the divine. Chastity does not mean repression. It means pure sexuality. A chaste being is a sexual being, but free of lust. A chaste being is a being that has sexuality but no animalism, actually a human being. Such a human being is incredibly beautiful, and you cannot put it into words. No painting, no art on this planet has ever captured the beauty of chastity, ever. It cannot be transmitted through any kind of art; it has to be experienced and seen, and when you see it, you will never forget it.
Audience: The innermost Chesed is created by the trinity, this is a two part question, so it's a duality is that correct?
Instructor: What do you mean by duality?
Audience: It uses the physical time and experience to gain so it is kind of in duality or is that because it is a tool of Ain which is all possibilities at the same time emptiness so is it that Ain is uses the duality of Chesed?
Instructor: Sure, your question is, is Atman, Chesed dual? I will answer you with this. Is the light from a fire dualistic? It is the same thing. Atman, Chesed, is the light of the fire. Atman is not dual. There is no duality there; it is just the light of the fire.
Everything else that emerges on the tree of life are like lenses that focus that light until we get down to the hell realms were those lenses are very twisted and clouded. What we see is still transmitted by light but is extremely twisted. In the lower realms, we do not see reality. To see reality we have to remove all the lenses, all of them, even going beyond Atman, to see the ultimate truth. That is why the Buddha Shakyamuni taught the doctrine of Anatman, "no self." He did not disagree that Atman exists. What he disagreed with was that theory that Atman was permanent and the ultimate level of Self.
Atman is an expression of the Absolute. It comes through the trinity. There is no duality in those levels. They are just greater extensions of the same energy.
Audience: At any of the levels at any point in the tree?
Instructor: Ultimately yes.
Audience: It's an appearance of duality?
Instructor: Exactly. This is were you can get into a lot of philosophical difficulties because the intellect simply cannot understand. This is the great problem that has emerged in all the followers of Shankaracharya, the teacher that I was mentioning.
Shankara demonstrated that Buddhism and Hinduism are the same thing. That is what his scriptures did. He accomplished that in less than thirty years. He was thirty three years old when he left. He managed to show in that time to the entire Asian continent that Buddhism and Hinduism are the same. An amazing accomplishment, that everyone has forgotten since then.
His primary teaching was simply that: there is no duality. Ultimate existence is non-dual, but you cannot understand it with the intellect. Unfortunately, his followers do not awaken consciousness, and if you get engaged in conversation with them, they will trap you in a hundred different logical tricks that they have learned, none of which reveal anything, and only complicate the mind about duality and non-duality. "If this exists and that must exist. That means its dual and it doesn't exist." Its garbage, the lot of it, because it is just an intellectual game.
What those people need to learn is to meditate and experience reality. They will understand what is expressed in the Prajnaparamita Sutra.
"Form is emptiness and emptiness is form."
There are two truths: the relative and the conventional. You can only say is true what you have experienced is true. So for us, we experience duality, and until we can see the non dual, we are wasting our breath talking.
Audience: Is consciousness a thought form?
Instructor: Consciousness is beyond thought. You can experience consciousness without thinking. The entry levels to that are Dharana or Pratyahara or Dhyana. These are levels of serene mind in which consciousness perceives without the interference of thought. The more established that becomes, the closer you get to entering into samadhi. Samadhi is an experience of consciousness free of any filters. It is consciousness liberated temporarily. That is not thought. It is beyond thought.
Audience: Where is the self on the tree of life?
Instructor: On the tree of life, where is the self? The entire tree is the self, but it is all relative. The tree of life is a map of our psyche, of our soul. Every level is related to our consciousness. Right now, we are here in the physical body, that is related with our self. It is the bottom of that tree.
There are also levels below the physical level. We call it subconsciousness, unconsciousness; hell. That is all of the submerged parts of our mind. That is all part of our quote "self" but trapped in suffering
The whole tree represents our self, but where is the ultimate, true nature of self? The Absolute.
Audience: Can one be disconnected by nature and be broken away?
Instructor: They are disconnected by nature because of karma. Our situation is like that. We do not experience those higher levels because of our own actions, because of karma. We do not experience the sixth, seventh dimensions consciously because we do not have access to it because of our conditioning
Audience: Is each sphere like a person?
Instructor: No, it's just a glyph that represents symbolically levels and dimensions in nature.
Audience: Where is the location?
Instructor: It is here. It is here and now. All you can confirm is true is here and now. What the map shows, what the Kabbalah shows, is how to understand different experiences of here and now. For example, can you confirm without any question that you are not already dead? If you have an experience out of your body while you are alive, you can find dead people who do not know they are dead. They think they are still alive.
This is the difficulty we have now, and incredible importance of this map. When you have studied it and understood it and how it relates to the consciousness, you can start to change your fundamental relation to living. This means that as you start to acquire conscious experience of different states of being, you can understand them in relation to each other—that is what the tree of life is for. You can understand experiences in the hell realms, experiences in the physical realm, and in the fifth dimension, sixth dimension, seventh dimension. They are all mapped here. They have all been described by all the saints and prophets throughout history.
The value of the teaching of the Kabbalah is that it helps you organize it conceptually so that when you experience them you won't be confused. It acts as a guide and it underscores every religion in the world. It can be organized in different ways because it is not a fixed model. It is relative. It is beautiful. It is very deep. It is as deep as creation. So if you can image how hard it is to understand all of life, that is how hard it is to understand Kabbalah, because it is life.
Audience: I had trouble discussing this with people. When I am trying to talk about the orgasm they say that is natural and so if we are these intellectual animals and part of us is animalistic and that is natural then are we asked to do something that is not natural? So in this case is natural not good?
Instructor: What is natural for an animal is natural for an animal. What we have to understand is our position in the flow of the development of the consciousness. In every level of existence there are different laws that apply. Anyone is free of their own will and their own choices to use their energy in anyway they see fit. This is part of how nature functions. If you want to gain access into higher levels of existence beyond the animal state, you have to use your energies in a different way, not an animal way but a human way. You can only know the truth of that through experience.
It cannot be explained it can only be experienced and known. What I try to advise people is to ask them, "If you have not experienced what Gnosis affirms, then how do you know it is false?"
Some people simply do not have the inclination, the path to follow that instruction and apply it, and that is their right. Some people just want to live for pleasure, and they have the right to do that, and nature allows them to do it, and God allows them to do it, and they are free to do so.
Gnosis is for the ones who have experienced the unpleasant consequences of indulging in pleasure, and the ones that have the spiritual inquietude that feels something isn't right about desire. There is something more to life, to sex. Those are the ones who are prepared to receive the instruction, and that is not a lot of people. Most of humanity is really not interested. So we need to understand that. We need to give the teachings to those who want it and need it and use it. And, the ones who do not want it, we need to respect them. That is fine, it is their choice. It is hard and painful, especially when we are dealing with people we love.
Audience: How do you convince them?
Instructor: You cannot. We have to respect the will of everyone. Ultimately, we can barely change ourselves.
Audience: Should you give up on someone then? If you were speaking with someone and they got into an agreement with Tantra and Alchemy and there like pushing for the orgasm and you are transmuting. I do not know if I have heard a lecture of yours or his were its ok to be with someone who is not transmuting as long as you're doing it.
Instructor: What we have to learn is to love everyone, to not change anyone's will but to just love them. To love everyone no matter what.
Audience: But if they are giving you a hard time about it saying "oh your making it harder for me to experience pleasure because you are not...."
Instructor: Yes, that is a painful situation. That happens a lot. Ultimately, you need to acquire your own sense in your heart to handle that situation with that person, to walk that fine balance, to love but to also hold true to your principles. That is not easy. There is no easy answer. Ultimately, we need to be behave with respect with everyone, but without compromising our relationship with our inner Being. That is not easy. So I cannot tell you what to do—that is something you need to find on your own. All I can tell you is that there are many couples suffering and struggling with that problem, and that is part of our karma. There are many things in this work that are painful and difficult to deal with. That is part of why I gave the lecture. We need to be able to look into the face of our difficulties and understand them. To understand the other people, to understand ourselves and find the way.
Something that Samael Aun Weor taught that has helped me a lot in all these types of difficulties is that:
"A mind that is in conflict can never resolve a problem."
When we have a problem that is causing intellectual or emotional conflict, the only way we will solve it is to first find some serenity. Generally in my experience that means I have to meditate. It means I have to observe myself. I have to relax, but I also have to stop trying to change something I cannot change. Sometimes it is another person, sometimes it is a situation and I have to accept it.
Audience: To fall from experience is it a part of the journey or is it due to wrong action?
Instructor: What do you mean by fall from experience?
Audience: To stop having spiritual experiences.
Instructor: There are many reasons why we could stop having spiritual experiences. Sometimes it is because we are not making effort in the right way. Sometimes it is because the experiences we were getting were a gift from God, and God gave us enough, and he wants us to work now. Sometimes it is karma. We have to analyze ourselves.
We pass through spiritual days and nights. There are times in which we acquire lots of insight and experiences spiritually, and there are other times in which we get nothing, and that is part of the path. Life is like that. Ultimately, no mater what life brings us, we need to be the same person: centered, awake, aware, serene. Whether we are having difficulties or ease, praise or blame, wealth or poverty, acceptance or rejection. We have to learn how to be the same person in all situations, remembering God, being here and now. What inspired me to give this lecture and the one before was precisely that.
Spiritual experiences are not a measure of spiritual advancement. Experiences come and go. What measures our spiritual advancement is the quality of our consciousness. If we are impatient, demanding experiences, disappointed, frustrated, angry, irritated, then right there are many qualities we need to meditate upon.
I mentioned in the previous lecture that we will experience a lot of difficulties, that life not only as individuals is going to be hard but as a world, and the only way we can get through it is if we have this ability to be the same one, to be serene, to not let ourselves be so manipulated and impacted by external events but to always be able to manage our psychological house, to be here and now. Things always change, nothing is permanent except the Being.
If you really want security, safety, happiness, serenity, remember God. No matter what is happening in your life, you will still have access to that serenity. When you have that ability to be here and now, and be perceptive inside, you can comprehend a lot about yourself, about the world, and you can make a big difference in the lives of others.