This is a transcription of the audio lecture Self knowledge 03 The Illusion of This Moment originally given live on Gnostic Radio, which you can download for free. There is also an accompanying PDF: Self knowledge 03 The Illusion of This Moment PDF
We are going to continue talking about the scripture by Shankaracharya called Atma Bodha. In the previous two lectures (The Importance of This Moment and The Knowledge of This Moment) we were explaining how this scripture from Hinduism presents the philosophy of Vedanta, which is one of the most important philosophies of Hinduism.
The important thing to remember about Vedanta is that it is not a philosophy like a Western philosophy: something designed to be played with in the intellect. Real Vedanta or any philosophy from the genuine Asian traditions is the root knowledge or theory that should accompany practice. It is not something to just sit and think about or debate. So when we study this scripture Atma Bodha, remember it is written for those who are putting into practice the principles that it describes.
The Two Truths
In order to understand Atma Bodha, we need to understand that there are two truths in life. This is the core foundation for all Asian philosophy, to understand that there are two truths, not one.
Some philosophies tend to approach their exposition seeking a single truth. Even in the Gnostic tradition, we say there is one truth and one reality, but in its practical manifestation, it reveals itself as being dual, having two fundamental truths. This seems to contradict the message of Vedanta, which says that there is no duality, there is only unity. This apparent contradiction is not a contradiction at all. It is an appearance that clouds our perspective. It is an appearance that happens because of our mind. The reality is that these two truths are one.
The first truth is the ultimate reality, the ultimate nature of all things, what we call "the absolute," it is the ultimate truth. It is the ultimate nature of all things. It is visible to the consciousness; it is visible to someone who is awake. But to us, it is invisible, unknowable.
"The Absolute is beyond conditioned life. It is beyond that which is relative. It is the Real Being; It is the Non-Being because It does not keep any concordance with our concepts, but the Absolute is the "Real Being." This is why we do not intellectually comprehend It, because for us the Absolute is like Non-Being; nonetheless, It is the Real Being of the Being. [...] The Absolute is not a God, neither a divine nor human individual. It would be absurd to give form to That which has no form; it would be nonsense to try to anthropomorphize space. Indeed, the Absolute is the Unconditional and Eternal Abstract Space, far beyond Gods and human beings. The Absolute is the Uncreated Light which does not project a shadow in any place during the profound night of the Great Pralaya. The Absolute is beyond Time, Number, Measurement, and Weight; beyond Causality, Form, Fire, Light and Darkness. Nonetheless, the Absolute is the Fire and the Uncreated Light." - Samael Aun Weor, Tarot and Kabbalah
That is the first truth: the Absolute, the ultimate nature of all things. In Hinduism, in Vedanta, this is called Brahma, or Sat-chit, "absolute existence."
The second truth, that appears to contradict the first, is what we call "reality." This is conventional truth, or what we seem to perceive as true.
These two truths appear to contradict each other: the absolute reality and conventional reality. They appear to conflict with each other.
Through our vision, through our hearing, through our sense of taste and touch and smell, we can perceive only a limited range of what is perceivable, and yet we call that perception "truth," not understanding that we are not perceiving everything that exists. We are only seeing a small fraction. Even in visible light. Visible light is only a fraction of the energy that is perceivable, and even using all of our most advanced tools, we still only perceive a fraction of what is there.
Someone with an awakened consciousness, with a sufficient degree of awakening, can perceive both truths at the same time: the absolute nature of a thing, and the conventional nature of a thing. There is no contradiction, they see both sides, they see all of it.
The reason this is important is that when we study philosophy, especially Vedanta or Tantric Philosophy that is very similar to Vedanta, the presentation of truth is given in a very specific way. If we do not understand the two truths and the nature of our own perception, we will not understand the philosophy, and we will make mistakes.
The Perception of Atman
Understanding that, we look at the third or fourth line of Atma Bodha, which states that:
"Atman appears to be finite because of ignorance. When ignorance is destroyed, Atman, which does not admit of any multiplicity, truly reveals itself by itself, like the sun when the clouds pass away."
Atman is a Sanskrit word that means "self." The bulk of Hinduism is about coming to know the true self, the real self. We do not see that self, because or vision is clouded by our so-called perception of reality. That perception is our assumption that conventional reality, what we perceive through the senses, is what is real. We do not understand that when it comes to our perception, we are in a state of ignorance. We do not see the truth; we do not see the actual reality.
Perception of the absolute reality is only possible when our perception is clean, when there are no filters clouding our ability to see. This perception is not just physical perception. It is perception beyond the five senses.
So what Atma Bodha is saying here as written by Shankaracharya is that Atman appears to be finite because of ignorance. We think God exists according to our ideas. Everybody has there own ideas about divinity and "self." The atheists think that self is their way of thinking and their way of believing. The Christians think that the self or god is an old man up in the clouds, and that we are a soul that is required to bow and sing praises to this old man up in the clouds. The Buddhists think that there is no self, but there is a Buddha that is a god somewhere in the universe. The Muslims think the way they think, and the Daoist's think the way they think, and all of us are mistaken, because Atman cannot be perceived through our clouded perception. Our mind creates that finite appearance, in other words, our perception is created by our state of ignorance.
As we have explained previously, ignorance is a lack of knowledge, a lack of knowing, a lack of seeing, and we have explained the word knowledge comes from the root that means "to perceive, to see for oneself." Because we do not see our Innermost for what it is, we are in a state of ignorance, and we think the Innermost exists according to our ideas.
Many spiritual people nowadays think that the Innermost is themselves. We think that the Innermost is a superior I, that our true self is "master so-and-so" or that it is a Goddess or that it is an angel clothed in a white robe. Whatever our particular religious fancy happens to be, we project that idea and put god in that box and think that our true self is in that box, and we are wrong. The fact is we have not perceived Atman in ourselves, and thus we do not know what Atman is.
Knowledge of Atman comes through perception. To perceive Atman, we have to remove the ignorance that impedes that perception. That ignorance is in us, it is in our psyche. We have to change how we see in order to see the truth.
Atman is Not multiple
The second part here says,
"When ignorance is destroyed, Atman, which does not admit of any multiplicity, truly reveals itself by itself."
Atman is not multiple. Yet, we are a great multiplicity.
As I have been recommending through these lectures, when we are sincere and watching our own mind, watching what we can perceive constantly, it is inevitable that we will arrive at the conclusion that we are filled with contradictions. We are a complete multiplicity. From one moment to the next, we contradict ourselves. We are filled with competing desires. Atman does not have that. Atman does not contradict itself. Atman is pure, eternal, consciousness, bliss, wisdom, knowledge, serenity, love.
In Hebrew, the names that we use to describe Atman are Chesed and Gedulah, and these mean love and mercy. Atman is one. Atman is a light that comes out of the trinity. Atman is an expression of god, of the divine.
So when certain philosophers study Vedanta, Buddhism, or Hinduism, they repeat what the scriptures say, which is "I am."
Tat Tvam Asi (तत् त्वम् असि): "Thou art that." - Chandogya Upanishad 6.8.7
"That in whom reside all beings and who resides in all beings, who is the giver of grace to all, the Supreme Soul of the universe, the limitless being—I am that." -Amritbindu Upanishad
"That which permeates all, which nothing transcends and which, like the universal space around us, fills everything completely from within and without, that Supreme non-dual Brahman—that thou art." - Sankaracharya
Vedanta states that we are Atman. Followers of Vedanta and similar philosophies firmly believe this, and affirm it constantly. These people are mistaken. We are not That so long as we are trapped in multiplicity. Atman does not have multiplicity. If we find multiplicity in ourselves, we are not that. That is our true nature, but we are out of touch with It.
When ignorance is destroyed, Atman is revealed. This is a very critical phrase in this scripture. This phrase explains the basis of liberation and it explains why the followers have been mistaken for so long. Many of the followers of Shankaracharya and other philosophies that are similar mistakenly believe that merely by having the concept of the philosophy of Vedanta in their heads that they can be liberated. They mistakenly believe that because they have studied the scripture and they know the concepts of it, and they can debate it, that is leading them to liberation; they are wrong.
Only one thing leads to liberation: the destruction of ignorance. How is ignorance destroyed? It is destroyed through perception of Atman. That is the only way. Knowledge of Atman destroys ignorance, knowledge of reality, and that reality begins here and now in ourselves, knowledge of the truth. Not what we want to be, not what we would like to be, not what we have been told we will be, but what is. To see what is. That begins here and now in ourselves. To look at ourselves and see ourselves as we are: impure, suffering, and trapped in ignorance.
Only by seeing that for what it is and our own role in perpetuating it, can we eliminate ignorance. In that process, Atman becomes revealed naturally, in the same way the sun is exposed when the clouds move away.
The clouds are substances, constructions in our own psyche, inside of us. The only thing that prevents us from seeing the truth of the divine is our own mind, nothing else. The only obstacle we have is our own mind.
In the next passage it is written:
"Cyclic existence which is full of attachments, aversions is like a dream. It appears to be real as long as one is ignorant but becomes unreal when one is awake."
This phrase "cyclic existence" in Sanskrit is samsara. Samsara is a state of suffering. It is the state of consciousness of any being that has ego. Even a small fraction of ego creates that small fraction of samsara, cyclic existence, thus even the gods suffer in samsara at their level. This is why when we study the bhavachakra or what is called "the wheel of samsara" we see six realms. One of those six realms is the realm of the gods, the heavens, in which there are beings that are much purer than we are, but they still suffer, because they still have attachment.
The axis of the wheel of samsara is ignorance, attachments, and aversions. Attachments are those psychological phenomena that we chase, that we want. Aversions are psychological phenomena that we want to avoid. This dynamic between craving and aversion is what puts the wheel of samsara in motion. That wheel of samsara is our own psyche. It is not outside of us, it is inside, it is psychological. It is the repetition of psychological habits. Chasing after our cravings and attachments and trying to avoid the things we do not want. That is what creates suffering or samsara. It is a state of ignorance. As it states here, it is like a dream.
To Question Perception
We think we are awake. We think that what we are experiencing is fundamentally real and true. This scripture is telling us that it is not. This is one level of our ignorance. We do not question what we perceive. We assume that what we experience is true and real. Due to the fact that we are in a state of a lack of knowledge, a lack of perception of truth, we believe that what we see is true. We do not question it. We are not there at the gateway of our senses doubting what we see, analyzing what we perceive, questioning it, investigating it. We assume that what we perceive is real and true.
In fact, this condition has become so pervasive and strong that now we can stare at a tiny little screen and believe that the images we see on that screen are true, and become completely hypnotized by it. We can watch a movie or a video, a game, and we believe so much in what we are seeing that our body is reacting, chemicals are being produced in the body. If we are watching a violent movie, we react with fear. If we are watching something lustful, we react with lust or desire. If we are watching something that we want for ourselves, we react with envy, and the body produces chemicals and reactions. When someone is threatened in the movie, we get chills, get scared and jump, we cry out. When we see something sad, we shed tears. All we are looking at are images, images that are fake, images made by actors who are lying to us, who are saying something and acting like something that is not true, but we believe it is true. Even if our mind says, "I know they are actors, I know it is just a movie, I know it is not real, it just a game, I am only playing." Our consciousness does not think that. We become hypnotized, and the proof is in the reaction that we experience in our three brains.
So if we cannot question our perception of what is on the computer screen or on the video monitor or on our cell phone or iPod or whatever device we use, then how are we questioning the reality around us that we perceive from moment to moment? We are not even questioning things that we tell ourselves we know are fake. Then how are we even questioning the reality happening with our family and friends and our co-workers? We do not, and this is our problem, this is why we suffer.
Everything that we perceive truly is like a dream, because we are asleep, and we have this dreaming state throughout our daily life, thus we have it when our physical body sleeps too.
When we awaken here and now, we start to see the unreality of all of these things, and this is the training that we undergo: to begin to question what we perceive, to be awake, to see it for what it is. You can watch TV, but when you watch, look at how it is all fake, it is all lies, it is all designed to sell you something: an idea, a product, a belief. It is not real.
The same goes in your daily life. What of what you see is actually real? We have to learn to question that, and start to awaken.
The Four States of Consciousness
In studying that, we look at some terms. It is interesting to discover that these states of consciousness that we are describing are structured the same way in two of our most important traditions: in the Hindu tradition and in the Greek. Now naturally, we know that the ancient Indians and the ancient Greeks had a lot of exchange of ideas and commerce, but this philosophy of consciousness is far older than both the Greeks and the Hindus.
The state of consciousness that we are describing here is called Susupti in Sanskrit. It is a state of very deep hypnotism, a complete lack of self-awareness. It is the lowest possible state of consciousness. It is the state of consciousness that all of us are in most of the time.
In Greek, its equivalent is Eikasia, a state of consciousness defined by animal instinct. Honestly, sincerely, when we watch ourselves and we observe the behavior of people, we see that most of our behavior is purely guided by instinct and desire, impulse, with very little cognizance. It is a state in which there is absolutely no self-awareness and not even any interest in consciousness. It is a complete state of ignorance that is lacking all awareness of God, of the being, of the Buddha, whatever name you want to put to Atman.
A little bit better than that is the second state of consciousness. This state in Hinduism or Sanskrit is called Svapna, and its equivalent in Greek is Pistis. This word Pistis has different functions and different uses. We are talking about it now in the context of state of consciousness. This degree of consciousness or the second degree is characterized by dreaming. In fact, Svapna in Sanskrit means "dream." This is a state of consciousness in which it is not purely instinctive and animalistic, it is a little better. There could be little flashes of conscience, a little bit of awareness of "if I do this, somebody might not like it" or "I might get into trouble" or "it may not be good for me to do it, maybe there is a cost to it." Still, this is a state of psychological sleep, a state of ignorance, only slightly better. This is a state in which you might remember what you did, maybe.
In the first state Susupti or Eikasia, we generally do not remember these times at all, since we are completely asleep. If you think back over the last seven days, can you remember every moment of what you were doing, for moment to moment, for seven full days? I do not just mean during the day light. I mean when your body is asleep, too. None of us can, because we are asleep. Those periods of time when we have absolutely no memory correspond to Susupti or Eikasia: a complete lack of consciousness, zero consciousness; we are completely mechanical, doing whatever we do, whether it is good, bad, or indifferent.
In the second stage, Svapna, we are dreaming, we are in a dream state. Our physical body can be active, doing whatever we do everyday, but we are dreaming. We are not aware of ourselves, we are not aware of God, we are not aware of anything other than the projections of our mind. This is a dream state, and we keep this state during the night and during the day. This is the state in Greek that is called Pistis.
Yes, we are dreaming all day, too. We are distracted. Our consciousness is floating in a vague, sleepy state, marked by fantasies, daydreams, hazy perceptions.
The Third State of Consciousness
Those that have received a bit of training learn about a third state. You cannot experience this state mechanically, accidentally. You cannot experience this state by chance, although everybody thinks that they are in this state all the time.
The third state of consciousness in Sanskrit is called Jagrata, and in Greek, Dianoia. This is a state of awakened consciousness. Jagrata means "awake." In this state of consciousness, one is aware of oneself, conscious of ones actions, thoughts, and feelings. Conscious of what one sees and does.
diánoia: understanding, discrimination; from diá, "thoroughly, from side-to-side," which intensifies noiéō, "to use the mind," noús, "mind"
"Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy ψυχή psychē, and with all thy διάνοια dianoia." - Matthew 22:37
"And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us διάνοια dianoia [understanding], that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, [even] in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life." - 1 John 5:20
It is possible that at stages in life, like when you are a child, you may have flashes of dianoia at this time. When you are a baby, you exist in this state that is Jagrata. Babies are awake, but as the ego incorporates into the personality, as we grow older and we develop a lot of habits,we lose it, and after that, it is very rare to experience it, because of our layers and layers of bad habits, and because of our deep state of hypnosis or ignorance. It may be possible in near death experiences, in very shocking experiences to have glimpses of being awake, but it is not possible to sustain it unless one is trained, unless we know how to do it, and do it by will.
Jagrata means "awake" and this state of consciousness is characterized not only by the perception of what is outside of us, but by the simultaneous perception of what is inside of us. In other words, our attention is not unidirectional. In the state of Jagrata, one perceives in all directions. It takes energy in the consciousness to do that, and it takes training to know how to do that. Dianoia comes from diá, "thoroughly, from side-to-side."
To experience this state, we either need training or to have eliminated enough ego that that state is already ones natural state. On this planet, such a person is extremely rare, and to be at that state, they would have had training in a previous life. To have that ability to be continuously conscious depends upon a certain percentage of consciousness being freed of obscuration. In other words, a certain amount of knowledge already had to be acquired. Remember, knowledge is not intellectual knowledge. It is perception of truth. It is perception that is not clouded by ignorance.
So this is the third state of consciousness. In all of these lectures that we give, in all of the books that we study, this is the state of consciousness we are attempting to perfect. A state of consciousness being awake.
You can sustain an awakened state even if the ego is very strong in you. It can be done, it just takes willpower. Many people say it is too difficult, "I am just a beginner, I cannot do it." These are excuses. These are mechanisms that the ego uses in order to enforce its control.
A state of awakened perception can be sustained by anyone, but it is not easy, especially in the beginning, it takes al lot of willpower, a lot of energy, a lot of effort.
The fourth state in Sanskrit is called Turiya. That word literally means "the fourth." Its equivalent in Greek is nous.
There are many people who believe that once they have studied some philosophy and they have learned a few practices, that they can establish the state of Turiya in themselves easily, and even adopt that as a name, calling themselves "Turiyas." They are liars to themselves and to others.
People who establish this level of consciousness are quite rare on this planet. Turiya is a state of absolutely pure consciousness: that means that the ego has been completely removed—no ego, none. Such a being is a perfect being. They have no lust, no anger, no envy, no fear.
Some Turiyas you can look to for examples are Jesus, Buddha, Krishna, Moses. These are Turiyas. That is the level of consciousness of the fourth state. That is the level of consciousness of the fourth state. It is very high.
A Turiya sees all things without any contradiction in their perception. They see the two truths simultaneously. They perceive the conventional reality that we all see, and they see ultimate reality at the same time. They see it with no contradiction, with no filters, with no obscuration, and no ignorance.
Many think that when studying these levels of consciousness that to reach the level of Turiya or nous must be really boring and must be a kind of torture. This is because they study the scriptures that say we need to renounce desire and we have to overcome pleasure and we have to renounce all the enjoyable things in life. People think, "Why would I want to be like that, having nothing, renouncing everything?"
What we do not grasp is that the levels of consciousness of the third or fourth state are levels of consciousness that are coming closer and closer to the root of being itself, the root of life, the root of existence. They are actually getting further and further away from suffering, not deeper into suffering. The third and fourth states are states of freedom, blissfulness, knowledge, understanding, insight, happiness.
This idea "to renounce is painful" is an idea of the ego that doesn't want to give up attachment. This idea that we should "give up the orgasm and give up our wealth and renounce worldly things and materialism" sounds painful to the ego, and because we do not have perception of the absence of attachment, we assume that it must be horrible. We are attached and we love our attachment and we are ignorant of the suffering that attachment produces.
We do not realize that even in that state of Jagrata or Dianoia, when you are awake, you are free, relative to your degree of awakening. The more awake you become, the freer you become. Someone who reaches the level of Turiya or Nous is completely free from all kinds of bondage. In other words, they are experiencing perfect happiness, contentment, joy, love.
You can translate these terms Turiya and Nous as "ecstasy" or in other words the state of Eden, which in Hebrew means "bliss." This is the bliss of the consciousness.
So these levels of consciousness are inside of us, but we do not understand what they mean, because we have not experienced them for what they are. That is why when we begin these types of studies, we emphasize repeatedly: study yourself, watch yourself, look at what you experience, analyze it, try to put it in perspective. We need to see through the illusions that we ourselves sustain.
Anyone who has studied Hinduism has heard this term Maya. We are not talking about the South American Maya. We are talking about the Sanskrit word Maya. Most people say Maya means "illusion," and it does. Yet, the meaning of Maya is far deeper, very compelling, and very important. It is one of the most important concepts in Hinduism.
Maya comes from the root in Sanskrit "ma." This root term "ma" means "to measure." It also means "mother." In most languages in the world when you say "ma" or "amma" you are saying mother. Mom in English.
Additionally, that root "ma" also means "not." When you look at this word "ma" in the context of Maya, literally translated, Maya means "not that." So if you study Hindu philosophy or any tradition that is based on Hindu philosophy, like Buddhism, like Theosophy, you need to understand that Maya means "not that."
So throughout the Bhagavad-Gita for example, or the Shri Devi Bhagavatam, or the Upanishads or Mahabharata, it is also talked about: "do not become a victim of Maya. We have to free ourselves from Maya. We have to see through the veil of Maya." Illusion: where does it come from, what is it? What is Maya?
Just as "ma" can mean "not," it can mean "mother." So if "ya" is "that," it can mean "mother, that." Maya is the mother, the great mother, and translated directly, Maya can mean "enchantment, illusion or appearance." Maya is also the name of the Divine Mother. Lakshmi is called Mahamaya, and that is also the name of the mother of Buddha Shakyamuni. Furthermore, Maya is the name of a demon, a goddess called Mayasura.
So all together, this term Maya has become an excuse of some philosophies to reject woman, claiming that woman are Maya, that woman are "demon goddesses that weave webs of illusion." This is a misunderstanding of what the teaching is stating.
The teachings about Maya are very deep and profound, and very difficult for the intellect to understand.
The mother creates all things. Everything that exists comes from the womb of a mother. Physically, we know this true of our physical body. It is also true of a universe and all the worlds. Everything that exists comes from the womb of Prakriti, "matter or mother."
Everything that exists has two aspects: conventional and ultimate.
Our body is Maya, illusion. Our physical body has its conventional reality, but because of our lack of knowledge, we ignorantly assume that this body is ourselves. We ignorantly assume that this body is all we will ever be, and we live in this continual state of Maya, illusion. We believe that the appearance of the body is real and important. So we dress the body up. We adorn it with fashion, with makeup, with postures, with language, with hair styles. We do this all to create an appearance, Maya, an appearance to fool ourselves and to fool others. It is all lies.
Our body is Maya, "mother, that." It is a mother, physically, whether we are male or female, we create "children"—the results of our actions. Our body is a womb. Out of our body will come whatever we create in this life. We are the child of our own deeds.
Our body is Maya: "not that." Our body is not Atman. Our body is not the Absolute. Our body is not our self. It is "not that."
This term Maya has very great significance. We do not perceive reality, we only perceive illusion, Maya, and we need to see through that, see it for what it is.
The Two Lines
To do that is as we explained: to be here and now, awake, looking.
We study these two lines: the line of being and the line of life. Perception of truth cannot happen in the future and it cannot happen in the past. It happens here and now, being present, being cognizant of what one sees, not only with the eyes, but with all of our senses, especially the sense of self-observation, the sense of self-awareness.
So be here and now, be here in the body, and observe the body, and look at it as it is, Maya, "not that." When you are in your body remembering yourself, you are not the body. The body is not Atman. The body is not perception. The body is not consciousness, it is just the body. It is just a vessel that we utilize, but it is "not that," it is "Maya."
That perception, although it is inside of the body, although it is inside of what we would call "ourselves," is still projected outwards from where consciousness emerges. Consciousness or perception emerges out of our pineal gland, in relation with the pituitary gland. This is what allows us to perceive, not only through our five physical senses, but through other senses that we are scarcely aware of. Nonetheless, as deep inside of this body that that perception can be felt, it still projects outwards, it is still perceiving outwards. So even if are in your body, being aware of your body, and you are feeling your heart beat, and you are feeling your digestion, and you are feeling your breath, the flow of your attention is still moving from your pineal gland out. You can see that for yourself, you can feel that, you can experience that.
Everything that you perceive in that way is Maya, everything from the pineal gland out, as far across the universe. That means your pineal gland, your brain, your head, your neck, your chest, your arms, your legs, your body, your neighbors, your house, your room, your bed, everything that you can perceive is "not that."
No matter if you look to the past or the future, everything that you can perceive is Maya and has to be seen as such: "not that," not Atman.
If you want to see God, you have to look the other way, towards were consciousness is coming from. So, feel that: invert your perception. Not the perception of eyes and ears, tongue and sensation in the body. Perception itself. Look back into where perception comes from. That is were you can begin to sense Atman.
Consciousness comes from Atman. That can only be found at the intersection of these lines, exactly here and now, in this moment, looking at all things as Maya, "not that" and looking for that in all things.
So we do this by analyzing and being aware of our three brains, looking at the body—the motor/instinctive/sexual impulses—and remaining aware of what they are, and seeing them for what they really are. Experiencing them for what they really are. Not being hypnotized by them, nor being attached to sensations, or avoiding sensations that are happening, but experiencing them for what they are: Maya, "not that."
When we have discomfort, when we have hunger, when we have pleasure, these are natural, normal, they happen. Our problem is we believe they are real. We become attached to them, or we try and avoid them, thus we become hypnotized by them and we forget ourselves. We believe that what we see is the reality, and we do not question it. We are asleep.
To be in Jagrata, Dianoia, means to analyze what we see, and to see it for what it is, and to be cognizant of that. That means when we experience discomfort or hunger or thirst or pleasure, we just experience it, we deal with it practically, realistically. If the body needs to eat, we feed it; if the body needs water, we give it water. If we experience a pleasant sensation, we experience it. We do not indulge in it, or avoid it. If we are in discomfort or pain, we deal with it, but we do not make a big deal out of it, not let it take over our life and let us fall asleep.
I had a friend recently who told me just after eating a meal, "My stomach is full, but I am still hungry." My friend had no awareness of the fundamental importance of that statement. "I am full but I am still hungry." The body was already fed. It was the mind that was hungry. We are that way in all things!
Oftentimes, it is not the body that wants sex, it is the mind that wants it, and we do not realize it. We say, "I need this, I need that." It is not that. It is an ego that wants, that craves, but we have no cognizant perception of all these impulses that arise in our three brains. They arise, and we immediately begin to try to satisfy them.
The state of Jagrata, Dianoia, is a state of revision, in which one revises and analyses everything that emerges in the psyche: theories, beliefs, impulses, cravings, attachments, urges, whether those urges are physical or emotional or mental.
The state of Jagrata is a state of awakened consciousness that sees ourselves for what we are, and seeks to be responsible, to no longer be a victim of circumstance or driven by impulse. It is not easy to do, but it can be done.
The Tree of Life
So for this, we study the tree of life in relation with our three brains.
Our three brains—intellect, emotion and body—are perceivable if we look. We are not going to see a brain in our heart. When we look for that brain of emotion, we look for how emotion processes in us. How do feelings and emotional impulses process? That is to observe the emotional brain. The same applies for with the mental processes and the physical processes.
On the tree of life, we map this all out in increasing degrees of subtlety. We begin here in the body analyzing our body. What is Maya? What is real? What is true? We look at our physical presence. We look at the sephirah Malkuth, which means "kingdom." This is our kingdom, and we seek to be aware of that. To become aware of the physical body is a good step and to sustain awareness of the physical body is a good step. We scarcely do that.
Furthermore, to go deeper, we have to start becoming aware of our vital energy. This is the energy of the vital body or ethereal body, which corresponds with the sephirah Yesod. How do we experience that energy? How do we perceive that energy? By looking, by looking by questioning, by analyzing what we see and what we experience and understanding what the vital body is.
In the previous lecture by the other instructor, we heard about the four ethers of the vital body. We need to know these ethers and be able to examine them and study them, because they affect us every moment. Those four ethers are really important; it is not just a theory to post in your notebook. They are something that you can see and experience for yourself. Not with your physical senses, but with your consciousness, in observation of yourself. You need to be able to see the four ethers and understand how they function, what they do. In synthesis, they are an intermediary between the physical body and the other bodies. The ethers conduct energy, not only chemical energy, vital energy and energy that illuminates and activates the physical body, but energy of consciousness.
Everything you see through your physical body was reflected though your vital body through the luminous and reflecting ethers. Everything you perceive while you are in your physical body passed though your vital body. The quality of those perceptions is determined by the quality of your vital body. This is why people who fornicate and abuse their energy cannot see anything clearly, because the ethers of their vital body are depleted, they are impure, very dirty.
Someone who transmutes their energy begins to cleanse, restore, and nourish the ethers of the vital body, which in turn brighten our perception. It is much like polishing a mirror. And, when someone has risen the kundalini of the vital body, that cleansing and that transmission of energy is even greater. This is very important.
If you want to see the truth, you need your vital body to be very clean, and for that energy to move very easily as it transmits energy from inside to outside and outside to inside.
Yesod (the vital body) acts as a boundary between the physical realm and the internal realms. Your memory from dreams depends on your vital body. Your memories from meditation, from astral projection, depend on your vital body.
Going deeper, we analyze from moment to moment the content of emotional impulses that move us, and these are a reflection of the sephirah Hod, the astral body.
Furthermore, we analyze from moment to moment the content of our mental impulses, thoughts, which are related with the sephirah Netzach, the mental body.
And then further, we look at willpower, our human consciousness, related with Tiphereth.
All these psychic aspects can be seen and experienced while we are in our physical body. They can be analyzed, measured, experienced.
We do not have to take as mere belief these studies of Kabbalah. We can experience them. We can see how the all relate when we start to observe ourselves. We start to experience the energy and how they function. All of this becomes easy.
"Avidya indescribable and beginingless is the cause which is an upadhi superimposed on atman. Know for certain that the Atman is other than these three conditioning bodies. In its identification with the five sheaths the immaculate Atman appears to have borrowed there qualities upon its self as in the case of a crystals that appears to have gather onto itself the colors of its vicinity."
Here Shankaracharya reveals that he knows Kabbalah. He does not call it that, but it is the same teaching. This passage starts:
"Avidya indescribable and beginingless is the cause which is an upadhi superimposed on atman."
So let us understand that sentence, because without that the rest will make no sense.
Avidya is ignorance. A-Vidya—"a" means "without or lacking." Vidya is knowledge. Vidya is a deep term that has a lot of implications, but avidya is essentially translated as "ignorance, a lack of perception, a lack of understanding."
"Avidya indescribable and beginingless is the cause."
The cause of what? Suffering. It is the cause of us not seeing Atman. Then he says, "which is an upadhi superimposed on Atman."
Upadhi means "conditioning object, obstacle, filter." When you put something in a sack, the sack is upadhi. We are in our upadhis. The physical body is an upadhi. It is a limitation, it is a container, it is a filter that is neither good nor bad. It is what it is.
The problem is that we do not see the upadhi for what it is. It is superimposed on Atman like a crystal. When we look at a crystal or a diamond, we see the light, we look at the colors, we do not see the thing itself. We put onto the object the attribute that are superimposed on it. We put on our perceptions superimpositions. We see the conventional reality, not the truth. For example, all of us are seeing, but none of us are aware of our eyes. Yet, our eyes filter what we see. They make it possible, but they also do not show us everything.
So what he is describing here is that we should know that the Atman is other than these three conditioning bodies, the three conditioning upadhis. So let us go back and see what he is talking about here, the three conditioning bodies that condition our perception of Atman.
As we explained previously, Atman is related to Chesed on the tree of life. Chesed is a light, an intelligence that emerges from the trinity above. Chesed is our spirit, our Innermost, our inner Buddha, our Atman, our self. That light descends and fills the vessels, giving life, what we experience as being alive. Those vessels are our bodies: the physical, vital, astral, mental, causal bodies, and even the Buddhic.
When Shankaracharya says "the three conditioning upadhis," this is a standard element in Vedantic philosophy. Those three conditioning upadhis are:
- the physical body
- what is called in Sanskrit the subtle body, which is the mental, astral and vital bodies considered as one
- the causal body
These three upadhis or conditioning factors are like a crystal that reflects light. The light is Atman.
Unfortunately, ignorant people study the philosophies, and think "I am Atman. My physical body is a reflection of Atman. My vital body, my astral body, my mental body, my causal body are reflections of Atman. So I am that." This is wrong; we are not that. Atman is Atman. The rest is Maya, "not that."
Whatever experiences you have in your physical body is Maya, because we are asleep. Only when one is awake, Jagrata or Turiya, does one see that: Atman. When one is asleep, it is all Maya, "not that."
The Five Sheaths
In the next passage, he explains the five sheaths.
"In its identification with the five sheaths, the immaculate Atman appears to have borrowed its qualities upon itself."
We look inside and we think what we see is a reflection of God. This is especially a danger for people who study spirituality and learn how to meditate and get out of their bodies and experience their astral and mental bodies and travel in their vital body or causal body. They begin to think in the same way we do with our physical bodies. We think here and now in our physical bodies "I am me. I am what I see I am that, it is real." This is wrong. Then we become spiritual, we learn to meditate and go in the astral plane or the mental plane, we have an experience in our astral body, and we think, "this is me, this is my self." That is wrong, that is a lie. The same goes all the way upwards until we experience the causal body in the sixth dimension. Those experiences also need to be questioned, because they are also Maya, "not that." All these bodies are real in the conventional sense, but in the Absolute sense, they are Maya.
We study these five sheaths in detail to understand how to perceive what is fundamentally true.
We begin here physically with Annamaya Kosha, the name of the physical body in Vedantic philosophy. Kosha means "body, sheath, vessel, container, treasure, collection," and is interchangeable with another Sanskrit word, sharira, which literally translated means "that which is dissolved."
Our physical body is not fundamentally real. Conventionally, it exists for a brief period of time—how many years we are able to survive in this body—but ultimately, from the perspective of Atman, the physical body is very temporary very impermanent, and Atman can see through it, does not abide in it, does not depend on it, and is not it. Our physical body is Maya. So you see the name Anna-maya Kosha.
In Sanskrit, anna means "food." So literally translated Annamaya Kosha means, "food-body, not That." Also, annama can mean "that which is measured out by food." The physical body is sustained only because we eat. What we eat creates the body. If we eat poorly, the body is weak, sick. If we eat well, the body is healthy. This is very basic, but we do not comprehend it, because we like to eat bad things. We like to put in the body things that it should not have.
Nonetheless, we can all analyze, observe and experience this Annamaya Kosha, the sheath of the physical body, which is Maya, "not that." It is not Atman. It is not self. It is temporary. We can all verify through our experience that we can experience and perceive without this body. If you have had a dream, then you know it. You have experienced that. You have experienced a sense of self outside of the physical body, thus you know the physical body is Maya, "not that." Not the self.
The next sheath is Pranamaya Kosha. Prana means "life force," vital energy. Even the vital body is Maya, it is Kosha, sharira, "that which is dissolved." Kosha can be translated as sheath or body, but really it means something that is not fundamentally real, something that is impermanent. It will exist briefly and then die. If we seek immortality, then we must first begin to recognize what is not immortal, and begin to realize what is immortal.
If we have attachment and dependency on the physical body, we will suffer when the physical body is taken. We know this is true when anyone we love dies. We built attachment to the body, and we suffer because that body is taken and we have the ignorance of thinking, of believing that that person is taken from us forever, and that is wrong. We do not see reality. We have just too much attachment.
The next Kosha is Manomaya Kosha. This Kosha means or this term means that which discriminates. Manomaya is a derivative of the same root of Maya, ma. Mano comes from manas which means "mind or discriminative factor, cognizant factor." It comes from ma or man, "to think," from ma, "to measure."
Manomaya Kosha refers to the astral body, related with hod. It is that part of us that discriminates, measures, based on like and dislike. It is emotion, feeling. It is not intellectual, but discriminates.
If you read traditional interpretations of scripture, most Hindu philosophers call this "the mental body." They talk about mental traveling and mental projection, and really it is the same thing we talk about now when we talk about the astral body or astral projection. It is just a different word, but we are talking about the same thing. Remember, in most Asian philosophy, mind and heart and considered one thing. Only in the West has the difference been emphasized.
The intellectual body or mental body is Vijnanamaya Kosha, which is related with Netzach on the tree of life. This is what we call the mental body.
So do not be confused if you study vedantic philosophy and how they talk about mental body and intellectual body. It is just a different use of terms.
Vijnanamaya Kosha refers to Netzach. Vijnana means "small knowledge, little knowledge." You could also translate it as "information." The mental body is the intellectual aspect of our psyche.
Then we have the fifth sheath related with Tiphereth, which is called Anandamaya Kosha. Ananda means "bliss." So we can translate this directly as "the body of bliss." Of course everybody thinks this is wonderful. If you analyze this in comparison to Kabbalah and you understand how this works in relation to the human soul and the causal body, then it all makes sense.
Anandamaya Kosha, the causal body, is derived from the sixth dimension. In the sixth dimension, there is none of what we would call ego. The ego is limited to the fifth dimension and below. That is why Anandamaya Kosha is called the body of bliss or ecstasy. Experiences of the causal body are experiences of samadhi. It is a state of consciousness in which the ego is no longer clouding perception. It is the bliss of free, clear perception. That bliss is not the orgasm, or chocolate. It is not that kind of bliss that people assume. There are a lot of people studying yoga now that think that they only want to get to Anandamaya Kosha so they can have a lot of bliss, but they do not know what that means. Ananda is the bliss of consciousness.
What is very interesting to observe here briefly is that as I mentioned in the beginning that Maya is the name of the mother of the Shakyamuni Buddha. The divine mother Maya Devi gives birth to the Buddha Shakyamuni, who is Chesed, Atman. The chief disciple of Atman, Chesed, the Buddha is Ananda. So you see, the story of the Buddha is symbolic and is kabbalistic. Buddha is Chesed. Tiphereth is Ananda, the chief disciple of Chesed. Tiphereth, Ananda, is our human soul, the consciousness that should be the disciple of our inner guru, our inner Buddha, Atman.
The Nature of the Five Sheaths
Shankaracharya was pointing out that these five sheaths reflect the light of Atman, but are not Atman. We think they are. What do we think? We think the physical body is our self and everything we do in our physical body we think is our own self, because we are hypnotized. We do not question our perceptions or analyze the physical body as being Maya, illusion that will be dissolved.
Further, we think that the impulses and energies related with our vital body are real, and are our self. Sexual impulses, memories, images that we project in the mind, desires and other types of phenomena that we perceive whether physically or in our imagination are all related with Pranamaya Kosha. They are illusionary energies that will be dissolved.
Furthermore, with the astral body, Manomaya Kosha. We think that our feelings, that our discriminatory perceptions between like and dislike, are real. Moreover when we are out of the physical body when we are dreaming, traveling in Manomaya Kosha and Vijnanamaya Kosha, we think what we see is real. That is why when we dream and we see all the images of our dreams we do not realize we are dreaming. We think it is real. We do not question what we see. We assume what we see is true but we are wrong. We are hypnotized. Even people who think they are awake in the internal worlds are just fascinated by the experience, therefore, they are still asleep, entranced by Maya.
Furthermore, in Anandamaya Kosha. Even someone who is awakening consciousness, eliminating ego having experiences with the Being, with Atman, begins to believe they are that, and becomes hypnotized through their perceptions, thinking that what they see and experience is real, and is their self, and they are wrong. It is Maya, illusion, "not that" and they fall into mythomania, and they fall into pride and attachment.
This is why he writes:
"Through discriminative self analysis and logical thinking one should separate the pure Atman from within the sheaths as one separates the rice from the husk and bran etc that are covering it."
"The Atman does not shine in everything although he is all pervading. He is manifest only in the inner equipment, Buddhi just as the reflection in a clean mirror."
Buddhi directly translated means "intellect" but it does not mean our intellectual brain. Buddhi is a discriminative perception and ability in the consciousness to define what is perceived. Buddhi on the tree of life is related with Geburah, which is right next to Chesed and Tiphereth. Buddhi is an aspect of spirit, an aspect of Atman. It is like the container that transmits the light. It is like as Blavatsky said when she was quoting scripture:
"It is like the lamp that the light comes from"
It is the glass or crystal that projects it. Buddhi is an aspect of our consciousness. It is not separate from us, but it is very subtle, from our perspective of being asleep. It is hard for us to sense it or see it or understand what it means.
Buddhi is the ability of the pure light of Atman to be reflected. What this means is that here in our physical body, being confused by everything that we see, and taking everything that we see as real, we do not see anything for what it is. We do not look inside to question our perception, or to see where our perception is coming from, thus everything we see is related with these kosha's, flowing through our three brains, and we do not question it. We do not realize where it is coming from or what it means.
Through meditation, we can learn. Through awakening consciousness, we can learn. As he explains, by discriminative analysis, we can learn. That discrimination has to begin here and now. Studying ourselves here and now, what we see and how we see, not just with our eyes, but with our imagination. What are we seeing in our head? What are we seeing in our hearts? Questioning that and learning how to discriminate. That is Dianoia or Jagrata. It is to be awake and to question what we perceive.
This is the basis of the exercise SOL. Whatever we see: Subject, Object or Location, we question it. We step back and look at it like we have never seen it before, and we continually look at things as though we have never seen them before, and we study them. We not only study what is outside, but what is inside, and not only seeing what is outside and what is inside, but seeing the relationship between them. Also not only seeing that relationship, but how we see it. You cannot do that automatically. You cannot do that unless you are aware that you are doing it.
The Tree of Life
So we study this tree of life.
We are here in this third dimension. Everything that we see here is third dimensional, but we are seeing the reflections of other dimensions. We can experience the impact of other dimensions here, and you can acquire experience in those dimensions if you awaken.
Here in the third dimension, in the physical body in Annamaya Kosha, we can see our thoughts and feelings. We can see impulses that are emerging in our body. Those do not come from the physical world. Impulses that are in the physical body, thoughts and feelings in the mind and heart, are reflected into us through the vital body, which is in the fourth dimension. We can eventually directly perceive that vital body, but at the moment we can infer its existence when we analyze perspective, our perception.
Memories: where are they? From your own perspective, actually looking, not theorizing, but watching memories when they come up. Forget what you were taught in school, or what you teachers told you: look at your own experience.
Where are memories? Were do they come from? How do they get there? Where are they? They are in the fifth dimension. They are in the mental-astral aspect of our psyche. How do we see them? Not with our physical senses. We see them with our vital body, which reflects their contents into the brain, and the brain distributes that information, and our body even reacts. When we have disturbing memory our body can react. Some people can remember a trauma and throw up. Some people can remember a sexual experience and get aroused. How does that happen? It is because we are perceiving things and not questioning them, we are not analyzing them, we believe they are real, we do not see that they are Maya, and we do not see that they get reflected into us. We think all of this is our self and it is not. It is all an illusion but we believe it is real.
Liberation from suffering begins by seeing the truth. Seeing what is real and abandoning illusion. We do not want to do that. We want to hold onto the illusions. We get confused by all of our memories, desires, wants, longings, memories, cravings, aversions, attachments, our envy, our pride, our lust. All of the images we project in our mind and try to project outside are all lies, it is all Maya, it will all be dissolved because its all modifications of koshas, upadhis.
By analyzing the contents of our psyche from moment to moment, and trying to see the reality in them, we also need to be seeing how we see it. Due to the fact that we are unaware of how we perceive, we fall asleep. We lose self-awareness, self-cognizance. As such, we are not capable at this stage of seeing what Buddhi is and what Atman is. To see Atman and the light of Atman that reflects through Buddhi, you have to be awake, but that does not only happen in the sixth dimension. It can happen physically, not only in a waking state during your daily activities by being very self-aware and cognizant, but through meditation. In meditation, we seek to shut down the koshas so that those perceptions of the koshas no longer filter our perception.
A proper session of meditation is one in which the physical body is put in a complete state of relaxation and no longer interferes. We are no longer concerned with the Maya of sensation emerging in the body. Likewise, we relax the vital body. When the physical body relaxes, the vital body relaxes. When then relax our emotions and our mind, so that all of this, all of these koshas, become very calm, serene, relaxed, and we are no longer identified with those perceptions.
In the end, a proper meditation state is where we become pure perception, and in that purity of perception, we extract that perception from all of these sheaths until we are using just the human consciousness, what is properly called manas in Sanskrit, Anandamaya Kosha, the body of bliss. This is a state of samadhi. Even then, in a state of samadhi, without any ego, we have to see that experience as Maya, "not that." From that perspective, one can then experience what Buddhi and the Atmic body are. The reality of them, the truth. As I stated, that experience can be had in the physical body while you are active if your consciousness is trained, if you know how to access it. It is what we would call a state of samadhi. It is an experience of the perception of reality at the same time you perceive conventional truth.
Atman is Always like the King
This is how we start to see the truth, what is real, and this is why Shankaracharya wrote:
"One should understand that the Atman is always like the King, distinct from the body, mind, senses and intellect. All of which constitute the matter and is the witness of here functions."
This phrase is what has confused people for centuries. Many people who have studied Vedanta have read this and thought, "So whatever I see is Atman. My perspective of seeing is Atman. I am the witness, I am Atman and whatever I see is Atman." They are wrong; that is not what is stated there. What is stated here is that that perception emerges from Atman, and in that state of perception, we can see what Atman is, and we can experience what Atman is, but until we are completely purified of all ignorance, we are "not that," we are Maya.
The Eye of Wisdom
There is a great chasm in this philosophy that you have to be cautious with. He states further,
"Although Atman is pure consciousness and present everywhere yet is perceived by the eye of wisdom alone. The one whose vision is obscured by ignorance he does not see it as the blind do not see the resplendent sun."
The eye of wisdom is awakened consciousness that is not obscured by desire any desire but is awake. This quote explains our case right now. The light of Atman is shining inside of you, but you do not see it because of ignorance, your own ignorance. So when we study this kind of scripture, we have to look at it in that way. We are blind. Our vision is obscured by our own ignorance. It is not anyone else's fault. We do not need to go out into the street and try to convince everybody about this philosophy and say this philosophy is beautiful and it will help us, no: we need to clean our own ignorance, not proselytize, not convert, not debate. We need to clean our perceptions. We need to see the truth, inside and outside.
Questions and Answers
Audience: So Maya is illusion but is not it the illusion like you are seeing it from the second truth, so those that see it from being a Turiya see it from the first truth, the ultimate truth. So the body as when seeing it from the sidewalk is the ultimate reality but when seeing it from the second truth it is conventional?
Instructor: The perception of Turiyas or people who see the two truths simultaneously is very difficult for us to understand, but they see the two at the same time simultaneously and there is no contradiction. This is what is written in Prajnaparamita sutra:
"Form is emptiness and emptiness is form."
It is that. So in a way that we can understand that is similar to if you are a person who has had a very difficult and very powerful experience. Say for example you went to war and you experienced war. You will have a way of looking at things that other people will not share unless they have had that experience. Everything will look different to you. The way you see is different. The way you understand is different. So to a much greater degree, Turiyas are like that. They see what we see, but it means something completely different that the rest of us do not get.
Now on that point, let me point out something really critical that I set up in the beginning but have not brought into this yet.
There is another misinterpretation that is made in this type of study, and generally it is a misinterpretation made those studying in the sutrayana (introductory) levels. They believe that through the application of these types of philosophies, once you have gained the vision or perspective of someone at the level of Turiya, then you abandon all beings because you see the fundamental unreality of all things. So in their philosophy, they state at that level, since you see the ultimate truth of all things, you see that suffering is an illusion, and you are awake, and that is it. They are wrong. That is a misunderstanding of people who have not studied the entire range of teachings. A real Turiya sees the conventional and ultimate reality simultaneously. They see reality like we do, but they also see the cause of suffering—not only that, they realize that they need to act in order to help us see that we produce our own suffering. So a real Turiya does not abandon the world and become a god in some distant place and forget about us. They do not. They become even more concerned about us.
Audience: You talked about how we can perceive the four ethers of the vital body. Can you elaborate; am I just supposed to look at it?
Instructor: To experience for yourself the ethers of your vital body really you have to get out of your physical body, but in your physical body you can experience their effects so you can infer their existence. That is first by studying what they are intellectually.
Study the four ethers: there is the ether of chemical nature, the ether of life, the reflecting ether and the luminous ether. Study those four ethers; understand their functions, and as you analyze and observe yourself, you can start to see how they affect you, and how they play a role in your ability to live, and be, and perceive. That is where you start.
To actually directly experience that vital ethers, you have to go in consciously to the fourth dimension or you have to awaken the ability to see it from here, which is a type of clairvoyance.
Audience: So you talked about the story of the Buddha and his mother being called Maya; so in other words the Buddha is born in the illusion of the distinction of those two realities?
Instructor: Yes, that is right, that is one of the mysteries. Buddha is born because of Maya, but has to see Maya for what it is in order to become the Buddha.
Audience: So it's essential?
Audience: Like you said it's by having nothing you have everything?
Instructor: That's right. It sounds contradictory but that's how it works.
Audience: Maya is the mother of Buddha so the Buddha nature is in every kind of mind so everybody has the inclination?
Instructor: Yes everything has Buddha nature.
Audience: Everything is Maya so is there a relation?
Instructor: It is a cycle: Maya and Buddha.
Audience: How can we develop compassion now so that if we do happen to awake so that we will not be seduced by staying in nirvana?
Instructor: The way you do this is by approaching the path in the way we do in the Gnostic tradition: we study all three paths simultaneously. That is, we study Sutrayana, Mahayana, and Tantrayana together.
In the Sutrayana level we study impermanence and death: that we will die, that all things are impermanent; and we study karma, cause and effect, and that everything we do has an impact.
Then we apply that in the Mahayana level, and we study how everything we do affects others. We should be very careful about what we do because it affects other people.
Furthermore, we should seek methods that harness the powers of our actions. That is the Tantrayana level where we learn to harness energy, all forms of energy for the benefit of others.
We have to do this in our own way, at our own level, according to our own understanding, and seek to improve upon that. It is a constant revision of our ignorance. In synthesis, what this means is that means you apply the technique of self-observation and self-remembering, and you are constantly working to be cognizant of yourself, you have to always do that, not only remembering Atman, but also remembering others. To not let your teaching and your path and your understanding be selfish.
Ultimately, the ones who become the selfish gods and become seduced by the nirvani's are those who have not eliminated self-obsession, self-esteem, self-love. Begin by working on having awareness of others and your impact on others, and you can sustain that all the way to the top; it is not easy but it can be done. So that is why we study those paths united.
Audience: Impure thoughts and feelings come from below in klipoth or is it kind of jus out there. Does the consciousness that is descended kind of reach up...?
Instructor: Where do impure thoughts and feelings come from? Let me answer that by looking again at this chart of the tree of life that shows all the dimensions, and let me explain that this chart that everyone studies in Kabbalah and that has everything arranged in a very structured and kind of linear way is not accurate. It is just a map. A map is not accurate of the place itself. In the same way, this is not accurate of the experience itself, it is jut a guide.
The reality is all of these sephiroth are here and now united, and they have distinct qualities, and that is why we have them mapped out like this, but in our experience here and now, these are all interpenetrating each other. It is a question of what do we have the capacity to see and experience and recognize?
Where do impure thoughts come from? They do not come from this map, they come from inside of us, from our mind but where? We do not know, because we do not observe ourselves. If you search in yourself and analyze yourself, you can answer that question.
Where do they come from, how do they get there? I can give you a long explanation but it will just get stored in your intellect. It is better for you to start to analyze in your own experience how your thoughts and feelings emerge and sensations. What triggers it? Does anything trigger it? Does it happen randomly or are there causes are there conditions? I will tell you all of it is true. Sometimes it is random, sometimes it is triggered. It is only through analyzing the contents of the psyche can we understand the causes of our suffering and thereby deal with ignorance and ultimately liberation.
The reason I am presenting it to you in that way is because unless you see for yourself you will not be liberated. It is impossible. You can memorize all of these teachings but unless you experience it and perceive it in yourself nothing will change.
The doorway to liberation is right here, right now, in yourself, to be watching, analyzing, discriminating, starting to try to figure out, "what do I see, is it real? Why do I have to listen to these impulses? Where is Atman?"
You can see Atman; you can experience Atman anytime, if you look. The problem is we never look. Even vedantic philosophers and practitioners do not look. We get caught up in philosophy and beliefs and debates and believing things and telling ourselves things and trying to project images, and we do not look at the projector.
Audience: Does the Divine Mother help us in this work? How can we call upon her now so that she can show us what needs to be done?
Instructor: Yes, the Divine Mother does help us in this work, and the simplest way to call your Divine Mother for help is to remember her. Remember her presence and speak with your heart.
There are a lot of prayers and mantras, and those are fine, and she likes those, but ultimately she is like any mother: she just wants our well being, our happiness, and she sees that we are producing our own suffering. So when we remember her and act in remembrance with her, we connect with her immediately.
The same is true of Atman, as a matter of fact. The remembrance of divinity establishes a connection. Unfortunately, we do not remember, and that is why we are in ignorance, and that is why we suffer.
Audience: When you are quieting your vital body in meditation, should it be empty or radiant?
Instructor: You should let it be what it is. In the case of any sensation that we experience in meditation, we should not be identified. If the physical body is in discomfort, let it be. If your vital body is agitated, if your energy is agitated, if your heart is serene, agitated, or uplifted, your mind is calm, sweet, or angry—whatever it is—we have to learn to let it be what it is. Consciousness is separate from all of these, and we do not realize it, and that is why we cannot meditate.
When you learn, as it is stated in the scripture here, to separate the consciousness from the husks that surround it, the action, quality, or characteristic of the husk no longer matters. This is really beautifully told in several of the books in Samael Aun Weor where talks about the meditation practices of different Chinese masters. Coming into my memory now is the Chinese master of Cha'an Buddhism working with his mantra; even though he had dysentery, he did not get up. I do not know if know what dysentery is, but it is a very afflictive illness. It involves very powerful diarrhea and discomfort in the body, and it can kill you. He did not get up from meditation in spite of that. He sat with serenity and continued to meditate, undisturbed. This shows us how weak we are. We get a little pin prick of pain in the knee or we feel a little bit anxious in our heart and we stop practicing meditation with that as our excuse. It is really because we do not want to meditate, and we use those excuses. This is understandable, because we have yet to acquire genuine experience in meditation, genuine knowledge. When you actually have genuine experience in meditation, an experience of Atman, an experience of samadhi or reality, it gives you great energy to meditate, and enthusiasm. Until you have that experience, it is hard to be consistent and have enthusiasm, but it is necessary. We need willpower, we need consistency, we need seriousness, but most of all, we need to be not identified. So if a difficult experience comes in any of the sheaths, we have to learn to not be identified with them.