This is a transcription of the audio lecture Self knowledge 04 The Perception of This Moment originally given live on Gnostic Radio, which you can download for free.
In order to help us make our practice more effective, it seemed to me that it would be useful for us to put together an explanation or a structure of the factors that are involved in reaching comprehension. That is really our goal. It is to understand for ourselves what is really going on with us and how what is going on with us creates consequences.
Gnosis is a very practical science, and it is also very scientific, and of course it has a lot of terminology and concepts that can seem confusing, and at times, even contradictory. So I want to review the psychological structure that we work with, map that out, and then talk, discuss it, clarify anything that is not clear, to make sure that during this time that you are on retreat you have the chance to improve your practice, your way of seeing yourself, and your way of understanding others. Really, everything depends on that. Taking advantage of your life, improving your life, really depends on understanding yourself and understanding others. That is psychological; we have to understand our own psychology and the psychology of others, and that is a long process.
The word psychology is Greek and is comprised of two fundamental components. The first is Psyche. Psyche is a symbol in Greek mythology that represents the soul. In Hebrew terms we could say Nephesh. This is the embryo of soul or the Essence. This is that portion of soul that we experience here as consciousness, and that gives us the urgency of spirituality. Unfortunately, Psyche also falls into mistakes, and this is why in the Greek myths Psyche falls asleep, Psyche becomes confused, and has problems.
The other part is Logos, which is a Greek term that is usually translated to mean “word” but really logos means “the Essence of a word,” the impetus of a word. Logos is like the expression of a thought. It is not the letters but the meaning. We use the word Logos to refer to the first expression of the Divine, which is symbolized in Kabbalah by the first trinity of sephiroth (Kether, Chokmah, Binah), in Christianity as the trinity (Father, Son, Holy Spirit), in Hinduism as Brahma, Visnu, Shiva, and in Buddhism as the trikaya (Dharmakaya, Sambogakaya, Nirmanakaya). So, psyche-logos combined is about the relationship between the soul and the creative divine, which we call Logos, the Word. John says in the bible:
“In the beginning was the Logos, and the Logos was with Theos [God], and the Logos was Theos.” - John 1:1
That Word is not something written. It is a creative intelligence. It is the Christ. It is a force in the universe. So real psychology is about the relationship between That and ourselves.
Ego, Essence and Personality
In Gnostic terminology, we talk about three fundamental factors that are related with our psychology, three fundamental concepts that define aspects or functions in our psychological experience.
To understand those three and experience them is the basis from which we can really begin to transform our lives.
The first one, I already mentioned. We talked about Essence. We could also say that it is psyche. We could also say consciousness. We could also say Buddhadatu or Tathagatagarbha. There are a lot of terms in different traditions that talk about this element.
The Essence is the seed of the soul, the embryo, it is the undeveloped germ. Here we mean the ancient use of the term germ, not something that is going to make you sick. Germ means “seed.” It is the place were all the archetypes are hidden. If we look into the seed of the human being, into the sperm and the ovum, we call this a germ, because in that we have all of the archetypes for a human being both physically and spiritually. The Essence is that seed, spiritually. It has all the archetypes, the blueprints in other words, of an angel, master, Buddha, god, and we all have that. Unfortunately, our Essence is asleep, just like Psyche in the myth, like Persephone, “sleeping beauty.” All these myths convey the same essential meaning: that our consciousness has been hypnotized by materialism.
In the Greek myth of Persephone, she smells a flower (or fruit) and becomes intoxicated with materialism. That is our state of consciousness now: intoxicated with materialism and sensation. So we sleep, unaware of reality.
The other factor or element that we discuss is ego, which is a Latin word that means “I, me.” We do not use the word ego in the Freudian sense. We use it in the more ancient sense that is used in all the esoteric psychology systems of the world. Ego is a psychological construct. It is a sense of me or myself that bottles Essence. An ego is a construct, within which is Essence. There are many egos. We say “ego” in the singular sense to talk about the whole sum of them, but practically speaking, we have many.
The third element that we talk about is personality. Personality is derived from an ancient word persona, which means “mask.” The personality is our outward appearance, our language, culture, tastes, personal history, etc., all of which relate to this lifetime, but which are completely superficial and impermanent.
These three psychological elements exist in every being, every human being, every humanoid. To study and understand ourselves, improve ourselves, we need to understand these three practically speaking: how they function, how they relate, how to recognize them.
It is good if we study the concepts, understand the terms, but what we need to do is find them practically in our own experience: what they actually are, how to recognize them, how to sense them, how to know their taste, their flavor. The best way to begin that is with oneself: to study our own mind.
The Three Brains
We always talk about the three brains. The three brains are three psychological machines. They are structures that process information and that perform tasks. They are literally machines. They have no inherent intelligence on their own. They are fed energy, they process energy, and they release energy. That is all they do. If energy is taken from them, they die.
The three brains are:
The intellect we feel in our brain in our physical brain. This is where we experience thinking.
The heart or the emotional center is where we experience feelings, senses of like and dislike.
Then in the third brain we experience instinct, the ability to perform all types of physical actions, motor skills, and also the sexual drive.
These three brains are only able to function because of the other three elements that we have already described: ego, Essence, and personality. If the ego and the Essence are separated from the three brains, the three brains die. That is what happens at death. When the body dies, the three brains and the personality also die.
The personality is created in each lifetime. The Essence (the pure consciousness) is trapped in the ego (which is our state now). When we are dead and have to take a new body, the Essence trapped in the ego (which is its karma) enters into the dimensions of matter, and in that process receives vessels; specifically I am describing the vital body and the physical body. Those vessels are where the three brains process information, by means of our three nervous systems.
When the Essence trapped in ego enters into a body at birth and begins to activate the three brains, it begins to develop a new personality alongside the growth and development of the new physical body.
In this way, we can see that the physical body is intimately connected with our personality, because they are created at the same time.
Moreover, when the Essence trapped in the ego enters into the sheaths of the bodies, it does so at a specific moment in physical time, a certain date, a certain hour, a certain year, a certain place. All of that influences the birth and development of the body and of the personality.
The moment of birth is influenced by the position of the planets and stars, represented in signs of the zodiac. We are born on a certain day, and that day falls on a given month, and that month is under the influence of the stellar environment. Those radiations influence the implantation of the Essence and ego into the body, and therefore influence the beginning of the development of the personality. Therefore, astrology tells us about tendencies in our personality.
Furthermore, we are influenced not only by the day of birth, but also the year. Imagine two great rings through which the Essence trapped in the ego enters into matter. Years move in a cycle of twelve just as the months do, and these years are symbolized in Asian astrological systems. Thus, our personalities have astrological influences related with the year in which we were born. If you investigate Chinese or Tibetan astrology, you will discover that there are parts of your personality related to the year in which you were born. In synthesis, our personality has tendencies it acquired due to the year and month in which we were born.
When we are born, the Essence is planted in the body, and then the personality begins to grow and develop. We develop it very intensely in the first seven years of our physical life. During this time, the ego also emerges. Therefore, the body and the personality are intimately related with each other, not only literally, but also symbolically. And due to the strength of the ego in this era, the development of the body and the personality are strongly influenced by the presence of the ego, not only our own, but the egos of those around us.
False Perception of Self
It is very interesting that when we interact with each other, we mistake the body for our true self. When we look at each other, we make innumerable judgments about each other based on our physical appearances. As soon as we see a person, without even thinking about it, we have already made a whole serious of calculations about the person. It is not a conscious process, it happens subconsciously. Those judgments and evaluations are one hundred percent mechanical. They are one hundred percent subjective interpretations made by our personality of another personality.
We look at person and we see their skin tone, how they carry themselves, how they talk, how they look, dress, etc., and we make a judgment. We evaluate them. We determine if we like them or not, if we are interested in them or want to avoid them. How do we do that? On what basis?
It is very interesting to observe this in ourselves, because that phenomenon reveals something very important about us psychologically. When we look at other people, we only see the shallowest surface. We are judging by the skin, by the hair. We do not even conceive in realizing that the person near us that we are evaluating has blood, muscle, bone, organs, phlegm, mucous, cartilage, and all the other elements that make up a body. We judge merely by that thin, thin surface of skin, by a few colors and shapes, and from that we evaluate the worth of a person. That is really quite foolish. Moreover, we do that with ourselves. We evaluate ourselves based on the most superficial appearances.
What this reveals about us psychologically is that we do the same thing in almost every case. We fail to recognize the deepest parts of a person not only physically, but psychologically, and especially spiritually.
In the same manner that we judge each other by the physical skin, we evaluate each other by our psychological skin, which is the personality. It is the most superficial and meaningless part of a human being, and yet it becomes the basis of our friendships and antipathies, our enemies, our lovers, our families, all based on the most superficial and impermanent part of a human being: personality.
Each time that we are born, we make a new personality. Each time we die, we throw the personality away and get ready to make another one. Personality dies with the body. Personality is really meaningless.
When we are looking to understand ourselves and each other, we need to understand this. We are not the personality. We are not our “skin,” psychologically speaking.
Physically, we have a given appearance, we have characteristics—how we talk, how we speak, how we behave, our interests, our tastes—and we normally use those things to determine our course in life and who our friends are. It is sad, because it is so superficial. Likewise, its benefits are superficial. When we judge each other and make friends based on factors of personality, we make choices based on the most superficial and meaningless aspects of life.
To really proceed in Gnostic psychology and acquire actual comprehension of our true nature, we have to cut through the appearance of personality. We have to see the actual depth, and of course, that begins in ourselves.
We have to see in ourselves that our true psychology is not rooted in our astrological sign; many of us make the mistake and think that it is. We think that because we are Libra or Virgo or Aries, that defines us. We make a great study of our “chart” and we memorize all of the rules and statements of astrology, and we use it to embolden our personality. It is a mistake, because in a short time—months, weeks, years—the body will die and the personality will go with it, and you will no longer be a Gemini or Leo. All of what you thought was so important will be gone. Your astrological sign has some bearing, because it is an influence in the mask that you use to exchange information with the world—both what you take and what you put out—but it is limited to that point. Your astrological sign is merely filter. It is not the energy itself, it is not the consciousness. Your consciousness does not have a twelve month or twelve year astrological sign. It changes its sign every time it is born.
For that reason, in this tradition we do not put a heavy emphasis on astrology, in the terrestrial, personality-driven sense. It has importance, but it is limited to its place.
In that way, we really need to understand the role that personality plays in our moment to moment lives, and we need to start seeing personality for what it is.
Personality is everything about our lives that we acquired during our development from birth to now. Our personality develops throughout our life. We are constantly modifying it. Whatever age you may be when you enter into a different type of situation—let us say you start a new job—you modify your personality in order to fit in: you have to learn the lingo, you have to dress appropriately according to the community that you enter. You may start to change you eating habits, your speaking habits, you might learn new terms, new ways of inflecting your voice, you ways of using your hands, even start listening to different music. There are all kinds of things that change about our personalities. Your humor could even change. This is all personality: superficial. It has nothing to do with our real identity, our true self.
So let us not make that mistake of being stuck in the superficial aspects of what we can see in our psyche. Real comprehension begins when we cut through the mask, to see what is behind the mask. This is what is important.
Who is Using the Mask?
The mask has your name. The mask uses your body. It has your appearance. It has your history, your taste, your language, your interests. It includes everything: clothes, food, music, people, religion. Everything that people think nowadays as “me,” as “myself,” is actually just personality, and is very shallow. It is very rare for someone to be aware of who is using the mask.
That mask sits on top of the three brains. When we interact with others, we take in information and we put out information—data such as body movements, speech, eye movements, the way we dress, the way we walk and talk. Everything we do is conveying information, and we are also taking in information, and it is all passing through the filter of the personality. But who is inside receiving it, and who is inside transmitting it? This is the question we need to answer.
When we are acting mechanically (which is pretty much all the time)—that is, before we have had any training in using the consciousness —the one who is using the three brains and using the personality is one or another ego. Usually they work in succession, fighting with each other to gain control of the machine. Our three brains and our personality are controlled by egos, which we can call pride, envy, fear, gluttony, greed, etc.
Every religion presents a different way of studying these submerged elements, and every mystical tradition has different terms and structures that they use in order to teach us about that. For example, in Hinduism you may hear the term samskaras. In the Buddhist tradition you might hear about the five poisons or the ten unwholesome deeds. These descriptions all correspond to what the western traditions call the seven capital sins. Here, we call them egos or defects, I’s.
We talk about seven main defects: avarice, laziness, lust, pride, anger, envy, and gluttony. But really, these seven are symbolic, because we have many more then seven egos, and any given ego has its own will, and that ego cannot always be defined by a single term. Some lust is very proud, while other egos of lust are gluttonous or vain. Some envy is very angry. Some fear is very lustful. Some laziness is very gluttonous. We talk about these seven defects in order to give us a reference so that we know what to look for, but in our analysis of ourselves we should not be limited by these terms and think that an ego is defined strictly by one word, because in reality, an ego is defined by its behavior not by a word.
When the consciousness (the Essence) is asleep in us—inactive, mechanical, which is most of the time—it means that our ego is using our personality to interact with the outside world, and in our psyche, in our mind, it is the ego that is churning. That stream of thinking that we always hear inside, and that stream of feelings that we always feel, is pretty much always the ego, unless we know how to be awake as a consciousness, unless we know how to utilize the consciousness and recognize it for what it is. Even then, if we are not careful, or if we are trained badly, we may be observing ourselves with an ego. We may be trying to awaken using the ego. This is more common than you might think. Unless you know the difference between the free consciousness and the conditioned consciousness, you cannot be assured of who you are awakening. That is how critical it is that you understand the difference between free consciousness and conditioned consciousness. That is why we are talking about this.
The conditioned consciousness can be defined by a particular characteristic. It can be recognized by a particular term. Nobody likes to hear it, but that term is: desire. By desire, we do not mean just the gross, obvious desires we generally associate with the word.
The Buddha explained it in his first teaching:
“This is the noble truth of dukkha [dissatisfaction, suffering]: birth is dukkha, aging is dukkha, illness is dukkha, death is dukkha; sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief and despair are dukkha; union with what is displeasing is dukkha; separation from what is pleasing is dukkha; not to get what one wants is dukkha; in brief, the five aggregates subject to clinging are dukkha.
“This is the noble truth of the origin of dukkha [dissatisfaction, suffering]: it is this tanha [craving, desire] which leads to renewed existence, accompanied by delight and lust, seeking delight here and there, that is, craving for sensual pleasures [kama-tanha], craving for existence [bhava-tanha], craving for extermination [vibhava-tanha].” - Buddha, from Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta
The free consciousness—unconditioned, the actual Essence, free of ego—does not have desire, attachment, it does not crave any sensation. The free consciousness is content, happy. The free consciousness—the Essence that is not trapped in craving—is directly connected with God, with the Being. It is pure. It does not crave sensation. It does not crave money or security. It is spontaneously happy, bright, clear, calm, relaxed. It is Buddha nature: radiant, joyful. Knowing that, if you reflect on your experience, you can see how rare it is that we experience that state of free consciousness. It is very rare for consciousness to just be awake, active, and cannot be without knowing how to do it. Consciousness does not awaken automatically or because of anything anyone else ever does. Consciousness awakens by awakening it ourselves, inside.
Unfortunately, because of the long period of time we have been engaged in bad habits, we have trapped the majority of our consciousness in ego, in desire, and only a tiny fraction of consciousness remains free: about 3%.
Our future depends on that fraction. Everything depends on us identifying recognizing and empowering that fraction of consciousness. If we do not, we will fail. There is no way around it. Without that fraction of free consciousness activated and empowered, we will fail.
Recognizing Free Unconditioned Consciousness
The beginning of recognizing free unconditioned consciousness is learning how to pay attention and learning how to discriminate what we perceive. That is why we make so much emphasis on learning to be present here and now, observing our three brains. It is so that we can start to taste the difference between these elements in ourselves. What is consciousness; is it free or conditioned? What is personality? What is sensation? What is desire? What is attachment? What is craving? What is aversion? We need to know the answers to these questions, not through books but through experience.
Meditation—which is an extension of that exercise of directed attention—is a process from which we extract the consciousness from all conditions. The body is a conditioning factor. That is why in the Hindu tradition it is called kosha or upadi. The word upadi means “conditioning factor.”
The physical body is a conditioning factor. It conditions the consciousness. We know that because when we are in this body, we mistake this body for ourselves. We lose awareness that the consciousness is separate from the body. When we are in the body, we become so hypnotized we think that this body is “me” but it is not. We need to see that for ourselves. We need to experience that realization, and remain aware of it. Furthermore, this is true of all of the upadis. There are five:
- The physical body; the sephirah Malkuth
- The vital body; the sephirah Yesod
- The astral body; the sephirah Hod
- The mental body; the sephirah Netzach
- The causal body; the sephirah Tiphereth
These bodies are conditioning factors. The Essence is a particle or extension of Tiphereth. So even in that level (the sixth dimension) there is a conditioning that happens to the consciousness that has to be overcome. To actually do that, you would have to be quite awake. We are not there yet. So, we work here, now, physically, working towards liberation, freeing ourselves from conditions.
The five upadis or conditioning factors relate to advanced stages of liberation that we will get to later on in our process (I hope). But for now, here and now, we have conditioning factors that affect us from moment to moment, and the first one is the physical body.
The physical body, the vital body, and the personality are all intimately related. They are a conditioning factor, a filter that obscures our perception of reality. When our Essence is asleep and we are not cognizant of the consciousness—we are not self-aware, we are just being mechanical, being our personality, being this so-called “self”—then it is the ego, the submerged mind, that is utilizing our intellect, our heart, and our body, and taking in information and sending out information through the personality.
The Three Demons
This is why in the Gnostic tradition, in esoteric Christianity, in the Egyptian tradition, in the Masonic tradition, and in many other ancient mystical traditions, we find the symbol of the three traitors.
- The demon of the mind (Pilate)
- The demon of desire (Judas)
- The demon of ill will (Caiaphas)
Those three demons represent how our ego utilizes our three brains and the upadis (koshas, inner bodies, protoplasmic bodies) in order to feed themselves, in order to advance their own agenda.
The demon of the mind (which is represented in the Christian tradition by Pilate) is very logical, reasonable, and smart, and he always seeks to get what he wants in a very reasonable, logical way. His reasoning seems perfectly acceptable, and we rarely doubt it, because it seems so “right.” We fail to recognize that the demon of the mind is always trying to fulfill a desire, a craving, or seeking to avoid something that it does not want to deal with.
The demon of desire (which was represented in the Christian tradition by Judas) is quite crafty and seems like our best friend. He seems like the one that we can always rely on, always gives us exactly what we want, but in fact, utilizes lust in many ways to fool us, not just physically, but emotionally, mentally. If you study lust in yourself in detail, you will discover that lust does not have its roots in the physical experience of the sensation. Lust is primarily emotional and mental. Really, when craving through lust what we want is attention, security, appreciation, recognition, approval, superiority, domination. These are psychological factors, not physical. Lust is psychological. The demon of desire uses that in many ways to feed its cravings.
Finally, the demon of ill will (which is represented the gospels by Caiaphas, the high priest) is quite devoted, quite sincere it would appear, and always seems to have our best interests at heart, always seems to be quite devoted to God, to religion, and always wants to uphold tradition and do what is right. In our depths, that aspect always betrays Christ, and always feeds desire, always seeks to rise above others and be recognized and praised. This is the demon of ill will, seeking to put oneself before others, always.
Seven Capital Sins
These three demons are symbolic of functions in our psyche, functions that are studied in more detail in the seven egos.
We talk about the ego as one, as “ego” in general. We talk about it as three, as these three demons. We talk about it as seven, as these seven defects. But really, this is all symbolic. It is all symbolic of intimate processes that we need to be aware of that happen in us all the time. They are happening all the time because we are not vigilant, we are not really aware of what is happening in our mind, heart, or body. We need to become so.
By studying these in detail, we can start to recognize elements in our psyche that previously we have not been aware of.
What is avarice? Can anyone define avarice? It’s hard to define but we should know what it is. What is it?
Instructor: How does greed work?
Audience: Coveting what others have got.
Instructor: Well, that would be more like envy, I think, covetousness and envy.
Avarice is a kind of selfish attachment. We tend to think of avarice as a miser, someone who hoards money; this is true, but unfortunately this is only the most superficial understanding of avarice. What is avarice, really? Avarice is attachment to anything. It is grasping, craving. It is that aspect of our psychology that wants to keep for ourselves, that wants to take, that does not want to give. It is selfishness in every form. Avarice has a million faces, it shows up in all of our little actions, all the time.
When you want to be first in line, there is some pride there, and there is some avarice there, too. When you do not want others to have the last doughnut, you want it for yourself, that is avarice—it is a silly example, but it is significant, because that little action reveals a big tendency. When you want to hold something for yourself and not give it to others, that is avarice, greed. This applies to anything, from superficial things to very important things.
As an example, we can look at the story that happened with Jesus. The religious powers of that time were very greedy with the knowledge; they did not want to give it to others. They had a lot of excuses and reasons. They did not want to share the teachings with anyone. That is avarice. It is greed.
What is laziness? We tend to think laziness is just lying on the couch all the time and not doing anything. But here, laziness refers to the laziness of the consciousness, laziness of the Essence, laziness of the soul.
We may be very busy with our bodies, our minds, in our lives, but that is actually a sign of incredible laziness as a soul. Physical activity does not override the laziness of the consciousness. To have the consciousness active, vigilant, is to transform laziness into diligence.
Laziness has innumerable forms as well. There are many people have has access to many beautiful teachings, very profound knowledge, but they do not use it: they are very lazy. For example, all of us we have been entrusted with the most sacred teachings on the planet, the heart doctrine of every religion has been revealed to us. I can state without an atom of doubt that I have abused that privilege, that I am a very lazy person. I have not fully taken advantage of that knowledge. I am not fully capable. I am very lazy. I should do better.
In that way, we should see that laziness is a very significant psychological element, because it is at play in our lives all the time, because we are asleep. We might remember ourselves from time to time—maybe that once a week or twice a week when we meet with our spiritual friends. We might all of a sudden realize, “I am going to remember myself today if I am going to meditation. I am going to see my Gnostic friends, I better be observing myself.” But what about all the other time that we do not? That is laziness. It is very significant and very important; we need to study that.
We tend to think of lust in only a very crude and superficial way, as if lust is only the act of the orgasm, or that it is only looking at pornography, or looking longingly at someone we find attractive. Lust is far more subtle and clever than that. Lust infects us constantly from moment to moment. It is always present, it is always active, and seeking, and we are always unaware of it. This is why Samael Aun Weor told us that every single day—no matter what happens—meditate on your lust, even if you did not see it that day, meditate. It is that important, it is that pervasive, it is that tricky. We are that fooled. It is that important.
Lust infects us and influences us in more ways than we can possibly imagine, not only in our moment to moment experience of interacting with other people, but in the subconscious, unconscious, and infraconscious processes that are happening in our mind all the time. Lust is active; lust is using our energy.
Moreover, we abuse the sexual energy all the time, which is a by product of lust. When we over indulge in certain activities and start to steal energy from the sexual center in order to continue our indulgence, this is related with lust; it is a way of misappropriating those energies in ourselves, which only happens because lust exists in us.
We tend to think that pride is only those moments when we boast of ourselves or make outrageous claims about ourselves, but really, pride is with us all the time from moment to moment. That instant when we evaluate another person and we determine we are better than them, that is pride. When we look over their personality, how they dress, how they talk, what they say, and we feel better than them, that is pride.
When we see someone who we feel is better than us, maybe they have more money, more education, more status, that is pride. It is pride as shame.
Pride is an filter on our perception all of the time, but we do not see it.
Pride is caused by forgetting God. If we remembered who we are, if we really remembered our Being, pride would not afflict us; we would feel content with who we are, we would fee connected with the divine. We would not feel better than anyone else, we would not feel worse than anyone else; we would feel exactly what we are. But because we forget God, because we compare ourselves, we indulge in pride.
Pride manifests in millions of ways in our lives, too. In everything that we do, from the smallest things to the biggest things, pride is active in us. When we pick our clothes to get dressed, we compare our choices with our pride. Vanity is a sister of pride. When we cultivate a given appearance to present ourselves to others, we do so based on our pride, how others will see us, and how that will make us feel; that is pride.
The job we have chosen, the role we have taken in society, is heavily influences by pride. Even the person who intentionally wears the cheaper clothes or the older clothes, is doing it out of pride, so that others will see “how humble we are.”
Pride is very mischievous and sneaky. Pride wants to feel better than others. As shame, pride wants to feel worse than others, and in that shame (self-deprecation), it feels better than them.
We tend to think of anger as something superficial that only comes up when somebody does something against us, such as they criticize us and we get mad. Anger is far more subtle than that.
Some of us pick our job in life due to resentment against our parents. Some of us choose our path through life due to resentment and anger against society. Some of us reject religion due to our anger against religion. Some of us gossip due to our anger against others. Some of us sabotage our own lives intentionally—make mistakes, get fired, rejected, divorced, poor—because we are angry at ourselves. Some of us reject getting an education and fulfilling our role in society because of our anger against ourselves.
Hate is anger. Resentment is anger. Frustration is anger.
Our behaviors are very complicated, full of all kinds of hidden motives. Anger is a major player in the choices we make, in the actions we engage in.
Envy is covetousness. Envy is to want what others have because we feel we deserve it. So you see, envy is proud. Envy wants what others have, and will do anything to get it. Envy is very subtle. It is the gears of society on this planet. Our entire society is mechanized by envy.
“Those individuals who want to base all the actions of their life on ideals, theories, and all that various recollections accumulated in the warehouses of their memory, always go around from comparison to comparison, and where comparison exists, envy also exists. They compare themselves with their neighbors; they compare their children and relatives with the children and relatives of their neighbors. They compare their house, furniture, clothes, and all their possessions with the possessions of their neighbors. They compare their ideas, the intelligence of their children with the ideas and intelligence of other people, and so on and so forth; thus, this is how envy appears, which then is transformed into the hidden, twisted source of action.
“For the disgrace of this world, the whole mechanism of society is based on envy and the spirit of acquisition. Everyone envies everyone else. We envy ideas, things, people, and we want to acquire more and more money, new theories, new ideas that we accumulate in our memory, new things in order to dazzle our neighbors, etc.” - Samael Aun Weor, Fundamentals of Gnostic Education
When you watch TV, when you read magazines, every image is designed to stimulate your envy and encourage it, and get you to buy things, because you see an image of that happy person in that advertisement and you want to be like them. So you want that house and that car, you want to be happy like that person in that commercial. You want to be cool, you want to be wanted like that sex symbol, like that hero. Envy wants what it sees elsewhere.
Envy is a very insidious form of desire. It infects every relationship we have, both with ourselves and with others.
Envy wants what it does not deserve. In the Bible it is stated:
“But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk.” - 1 Corinthians 7:17
“...godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into [this] world, [and it is] certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and [into] many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.” - 1 Timothy 6
Envy hates that.
We envy spiritual teachers. We envy the one who has a position in society. We envy the CEO, the actor, the musician, the Dalai Lama, Jesus—we envy everyone who has something that causes what we perceive to be “happiness,” and we want that happiness. It is a mistake, because happiness does not come from things, situations, money. Happiness comes from inside, from the consciousness free of conditions.
We think of gluttony in a superficial way as well, that it is simply eating too much. Most people in the Western world suffer from gluttony. We eat too much; we really do. People in the West assume that we should have meat with every single meal, and eat very rich food with every meal, and expect that is the way things should be. This is a form of gluttony.
Gluttony extends far beyond the table. Gluttony is the tendency to over indulge in anything, to be addicted to anything. Many of us are gluttonous with attention; we want attention from others. Lust also wants attention. So, some of our lust could be very gluttonous. Our pride also wants attention, so some of our pride could also be very gluttonous.
Gluttony is any craving that does not stop, craving for all kinds of things. Some of us have gluttonous habits with our intellect. We just stuff our intellect constantly, we just always want to feed the intellect, with new ideas, with new theories, with new books, with new teachers, always seeking and seeking.
Some of us are very gluttonous with our emotional center, always seeking certain types of sensations to feel in the heart. Maybe we watch too many soap operas or we are into certain kinds of music or we want to be with our friends all the time and we want to feel a certain kind of acceptance and appreciation and we indulge in that and we crave thatl it is gluttony.
Some of us are gluttonous with physical sensations, not just on the tongue. We are gluttonous with exercise, with the “rush” of winning, scoring, running, adding a mile to our belt. Some are gluttonous with shopping, with fashion, with acquiring a profit.
The Nature of Defects
In each of these cases, we can see the ego has polarities, and it is different in all of us. Just as pride can manifest as shame, laziness can manifest itself as hyperactivity.
In addition, along with polarities, there is a pendulum in our reaction to the defects: sometimes we indulge, while sometimes we repress.
So we see that all the egos have great diversity and power in us, and you can see now that it is all quite complicated, quite subtle, quite dangerous.
These seven defects relate to planets, to forces in nature. They relate to psychological habits, engrained energies that are trapped, and in every case, they want to repeat themselves again and again.
They can never, ever, be satisfied; ever. As much money as you may acquire, you will never have enough. As much admiration as you can get from others, it will never be enough. As much lust as you can indulge in, it will never be enough. Desire is insatiable. Do not make the mistake that you can feed it and it will go away, because it will not. No one ever conquer a desire by feeding it.
“93. Through the attachment of his organs (to sensual pleasure) a man doubtlessly will incur guilt; but if he keep them under complete control, he will obtain success (in gaining all his aims).
“94. Desire is never extinguished by the enjoyment of desired objects; it only grows stronger like a fire (fed) with clarified butter.
“95. If one man should obtain all those (sensual enjoyments) and another should renounce them all, the renunciation of all pleasure is far better than the attainment of them.
“96. Those (organs) which are strongly attached to sensual pleasures, cannot so effectually be restrained by abstinence (from enjoyments) as by a constant (pursuit of true) knowledge.
“97. Neither (the study of) the Vedas, nor liberality, nor sacrifices, nor any (self-imposed) restraint, nor austerities, ever procure the attainment (of rewards) to a man whose heart is contaminated (by sensuality).” - Laws of Manu, c. 1500 BCE
Desire in all forms is animal, bestial, mechanical. It is built from elements from nature that depend on nourishment and that grow on nourishment. Every time we feed a desire, we strengthen it. Every single time that we feed our pride, that we allow our lust to continue, we strengthen it. In other words, we strengthen the cage that traps us.
To Break the Cage
To become free from bondage, to become liberated, requires that we break the cage. The cage is our own mind. The cage is very complicated, and the only one who can see the cage for what it is, is you. No one outside of you can tell you about the construction of your cage; no one. A great master can give you hintsm and can give you help in the internal worlds. That is why we need to have experiences. That is why we need to awaken consciousness, to get that help. No person in the physical world can do that for you. People in the physical world can show you the door, but you have to walk through it, and walk you path. No one can do that for you.
“By self alone is evil done, by self alone does one suffer. By self alone is evil left undone, by self alone does one obtain Salvation. Salvation and Perdition depend upon self; no man can save another.” - Buddha Shakyamuni, from Dhammapada 165
The only way that the cage can be seen clearly is by an element that is not trapped inside it. In other words, you cannot see the lock from inside the cage. You cannot use the key from inside the cage. You need to get out of the cage.
That is why we emphasize these essential skills: awakening the consciousness from moment to moment, being present, being here and now, being very engaged with observation of all phenomena. Constantly being as vigilant as a soldier who knows that the enemy is right on the other side of those trees and is about to attack and we do not know when and we do not know where and we do not know how but it is going to happen. That is how vigilant we have to be. The enemy is the ego. The enemy is these three demons, these seven demons, these ten thousand demons. The enemy is inside of us, not outside.
So, we need to clearly define through our experience the difference between the Essence, the personality, and the ego. Practically speaking, we need to know what they are—not to guess, but to know.
We need to know the taste, the sense, the feeling of being awake. We need to know how to evoke it; to be awake, to have our senses active—not just our physical senses, but our internal senses. In this way, we start to engage in the process of freeing ourselves from the cage. When the consciousness awakens, we can start to see where we are, why we suffer, and how to change it.
The way to change it is to free ourselves from these elements. That process is an ongoing and very long process that happens from moment to moment. In each moment, we need to make better choices.
Awakening the consciousness is not something that will happen tomorrow. It will not happen next year. It can only happen right now. It happens by your will: to be present, discriminating the contents of your mind, the movements of your body, making better choices.
It happens by being able to recognize that when you are in a conversation with a person and you feel that urgency to be better than that person, and you reject it. That is a triumph. It might seem insignificant in the scale of things, but it is a step, a beautiful step. We need to be making those steps all of the time.
In that moment when our senses detect a person that we are very attracted to, we need to make the decision to overcome lust, to not indulge it, to see that person as an incarnation of a divine being, not a play thing for our animal desire. If we can do that, it is a triumph. Energy is transformed. We make a smart decision. We understand something new. This is something that we have to do all the time.
Then, everyday, at the end of the day, we should set aside some time to reflect on what we did that day; to review the day. We can put as much time into that review as we want, as is needed. We call this retrospection. It is a process in which we sit or lie down, and we extract our attention from the bodies. We let the physical body rest; we stop paying attention to it. Thus, the vital body also rests, and we do not have to pay attention to that. We let our heart come to rest, we let our mind come to rest, and we activate the consciousness itself so we pure attention, and we begin to replay the events of the day as they actually occurred.
In that review of the day, we sense with our intuition, “Did I do right or wrong? Was I hurt? Did I hurt someone? What can I do better? Did I make a mistake? Did I do the right thing?” At the place that we do not know and need to understand, we pause and we spend time with that, studying that event as it actually happened, listening to what we feel in our heart, observing the impact of our actions on others and the actions of others on us, and learning how to change. This in a nutshell is the core and heart of Gnostic practice.
Everything we do is for that. All of the mantras, practices, prayers, rituals, runes, meditation techniques, retreat, books, etc. are about this. This is the essence of the teaching; this is the heart teaching: learning how to change. It is a very simple thing, but it requires a very clear understanding of all the pieces, and it requires a lot of energy: a lot of energy.
The problem is that for many centuries we have mistakenly dedicated the vast majority of our energy into creating the cage that we are now trapped in. Lifetime after lifetime, from personality to personality, body to body, we have made a lot of mistakes. We have invested a lot of energy in a lot of bad choices. Fortunately, we made some good choices, too, and because of that, we now have access to the teaching that can free us. If we had been purely evil, we would not be here right now. But, we were not purely good, either. So we need to come up with enough energy to overcome centuries of poor choices. We need a lot of energy.
One of the side benefits of learning to be vigilant and to self-observe, to be present here and now, if we make better choices, we transform energy, we stop wasting energy. We start renouncing harmful behaviors. We develop real ethics. We start to realize, “Yes, it was fun to hang out with my friends and listen to bands and go to clubs and drink and all that stuff, but I wasted a lot of energy on that, and what did I get from it? Nothing. A lot of suffering, a lot of wasted time.” By analyzing our behavior in that way, we start to make better choices, and use our moment to moment existence in better ways, to transform energy in better ways. So, we start to acquire and accumulate energy.
Moreover, if we are very serious about this teaching, we conserve our sexual energy, which is a powerhouse. It has the energy to create new bodies—not just physical bodies, but spiritual bodies, internal bodies. That is what creates the soul, what creates our path. That is the energy that can be used to annihilate the cage, but we have to know how to use it. First, we have to acquire it, not waste it, then we have to use it in a very smart way
On retreats like this, we acquire a great deal of energy, not only from the energy that our body is continuously generating from the air we breathe, from the water we drink, from the food we eat, but also from the energy that we are taking from nature and the energy that we are asking for from Christ; as we engage in all of our exercises, we are charging up the body. What are we doing with it?
Energy does not sit still, especially this type of energy; it is quite volatile. If we are continuing to allow our mind to be mechanical and habitual, then we are using that energy to feed those habits. But if we are making the effort to be present and awake, then the energy is supporting that effort.
Moreover, I will give you a little preview of what will come, that when the retreat ends, you will feel so energized and happy, many students make the mistake of rushing right out and wasting all their energy in explosions of conversation, in socializing, in doing all kinds of fun things, indulging in all kinds of interests, and all of a sudden they find in a day or two they are right back where they were before the retreat started. Be prepared to hold onto that energy. I will remind you again on the last day. So, while we are on retreat, let us use that energy well.
Freedom from the cage begins right now; it is up to you. You made the cage, so you can break the cage. To break the cage, you have to see it.
Learn to recognize these elements in yourself. Learn to recognize and experience what is consciousness. When you feel and start to recognize consciousness, ask yourself, “Is it conditioned or unconditioned? Is my consciousness conditioned by my emotions, by my thought, by sensations in the body, by subtle desires, subtle impulses?” Only you can answer that, only you can know.
During the day, when we are observing ourselves and trying to understand all the processes that are happening in ourselves, really what we are trying to is keep the consciousness unconditioned and free, unmodified, flowing through the three brains and the personality. When the consciousness is free and unconditioned, it provides a direct connection to our own inner Divine, our Being. That connection is intuition. That is the sense and feeling of what is right and wrong, it is conscience, it is in your heart. It is a feeling of what is true, not a thought; it can come as thoughts occasionally, but its root is in the heart—not as logic; it may be logical, it may be illogical. Real intuition is a nudge, a sense, a subtle thing (in the beginning) in the heart. Intuition senses what is right, what is wrong. It is quiet. It is subtle, precisely because our consciousness is weak.
The more that you can keep your consciousness, free from the cages of sensation in the body, of impulses in the emotional center, of impulses in the intellect, the more you can keep your vigilance free of all of that, the more attentive you can be to intuition in your heart. Furthermore, when you sit to meditate, it will be easy, because throughout the day you were refusing to be identified with your body—you were seeing the body for what it is, just a vessel, a vehicle, filled with sensations that arise and pass away—it is not self. Throughout the day you were recognizing emotions for what they are, sensations in the heart—like and dislike, attraction and repulsion, comfort and discomfort, emotionally speaking, but not being identified or conditioned by them. You see emotions and thoughts for what they are: concepts and ideas that pass in and pass out. So when you sit to meditate, it is quite easy to extract attention from all of those upadis, or conditioning factors, and be pure attention, unconditioned, not desiring. This is the critical factor, this is the defining factor. Not craving, not avoiding, just being: being.
That is the Dao. It is the middle path. To be. That is the pure nature of the consciousness, unconditioned. It simply is. Nothing is lacking. It simply is. We all have that. Through learning these elements in yourself you will access that, and then you will find the source of real happiness, of real contentment, and real peace. You will be able to access it anywhere and at anytime, even in the midst of great difficulty. We need that, not only to deal with our lives right now, but to deal with the difficulties that will come. We need to ability to access and sustain inner serenity, a connection to the divine that can guide us intuitively to what to do at the right moment.
So, let us study our cage, let us study our behavior.
We present this structure to you. It is somewhat complicated with all the terms, but the more you make the effort to study yourself, the more simple this becomes. The more you meditate, the more natural it becomes, until eventually you do not need the terms, because then you know the taste of each element, so you can proceed without thought, without labels, without concepts.
So, if you have any questions, we can talk.
Questions and Answers
Audience: Sacrifice, how do we do that, what is that, is that like doing charity?
Instructor: In all genuine traditions, there are three fundamental factors that are described in different ways. In this tradition we talk about them as birth, death, and sacrifice. To really awaken consciousness, these three need to be balanced with each other continuously, every day, and in every moment.
We talk about birth in a large scale as the birth of the soul. The birth of the soul takes many, many years. We talk about death as the death of the ego. The death of the ego takes many, many years. Third, we talk about sacrifice for humanity. The sacrifice that humanity needs is enormous. So it is something that is a very big work. When we look at those three factors in an achievable way today, and we compare them with what we are capable of today, then we look at how we make choices from moment to moment, from situation to situation.
To have these three factors engaged and active is firstly to make choices based on strong conscious ethics. It is the ethics of divinity, not the ethics of a book or of religion. Real ethics come from your Innermost, through your heart. That means that in each action, you are choosing to give birth to the will of God through you. To act from conscience, to do what is right. It may seem like it is small actions in the beginning—not cutting in line, not lying, not gossiping. These types of things that seem inconsequential, but actually have huge consequences. Make choices to reject negative behavior and to adopt positive behavior. That is a combination of birth and death. You are choosing to kill the harmful action and give birth to the beneficial action. That is birth and death, but it is also sacrifice: a sacrifice of selfishness.
Each time that you go against your mechanical habit to feed your pride, to satisfy your sense of vengeance or to feed your envy, you are making a sacrifice. You are sacrificing that desire. You are saying, “If I indulge in expressing my anger, I am going harm that person. If I say those angry things, I will hurt them, that will be wrong. I should restrain that.” You give birth to a new action, you stop the harmful action, and you make a sacrifice on behalf of that other person. That is very beautiful. You have the intention to do good, to be ethical, to act from conscience. So that is the beginning of sacrifice.
Sacrifice begins by learning in our every action to do what is right for others, not our self. That is how you study your behavior in preparation to enter into the path of the bodhisattva. Someone who chooses to enter into that path is someone who has already been trained to do for others, not themselves.
Entrance into that path is not when you begin that training; you only enter into that path when you have already been trained. To become a bodhisattva begins now in the way I just explained, which develops bodhichitta.
Properly speaking, the initiation into the path of the bodhisattva is with the initiation of Tiphereth after the creation of the causal body. That is when someone actually enters into the path of the boddhisattva (the straight path), but to do that, they would need to have been properly trained all the way from the very beginning of their entrance into the work.
That training is precisely this: in every action, in every decision, you do what is good for others; you give up your own desires. You give up your own envy, you give up your pride, you give up your own anger, you give up your lust, you give up your gluttony, you renounce your avarice, because all those things harm other people. They create suffering. By recognizing that, you refuse to empower them. That begins here, in each moment, in every conversation, in every turn of the car, in every step down the street, always watching for how your actions, your thoughts, your feelings, impact the people around you, and choosing to act for their benefit and not your own. That is an immense sacrifice. That is the entry way to making the types of sacrifices that humanity really needs. So, that is the very basis in succeeding in awakening the consciousness.
Sometimes we talk about sacrifice for humanity in other ways. Teaching is a good sacrifice. However, not everybody is born to be a teacher. There are many needed roles, necessary roles. If we were all teachers, who would we teach? Some of us need to be the students, too. I know for all of you, it is a sacrifice to listen to me all the time. I really feel compassion for you. I cannot stand to hear myself talk!
So, we each have our own role to fill. Some sacrifice for humanity by facilitating, by organizing, some facilitate by donating, sometimes money, sometimes effort, sometimes proof reading, or suggesting. There are many ways to sacrifice, and we each have our own. We each have our own vocation, we each have a role to fill, we each have a place where we are needed, and only we can define. We define it by listening to our intuition, and little by little by the actions that we make.
Let me tell you something: I never wanted to be in this chair teachings others. I still do not want to be in front like this. I am by nature a very private, shy person; I do not like attention. Being in front of others is not my choice. It is my choice to follow what I am asked to do by my Innermost. That is a sacrifice I make. It is not easy for me, but I do it because it is requested of me, and it is my role to fill. As much as I do not like it, I will do it. So, for me, teaching is a sacrifice. It is painful for me, and I suffer much by doing it, but since my Innermost is directing me to do it, I continue. In other words, my personality and my ego do not like being a teacher. I have to sacrifice them in order to serve others.
So in all likelihood, your sacrifice for humanity will be like that for you, too: your ego, your personality, will not like it. You may have a certain ability that your Innermost wants to use that will force you to confront things about yourself that are uncomfortable, and it may involve things that you are really good at, and that you like doing, but also things that make you uncomfortable; that is sacrifice. It is a sacrifice of our own desire; it is a sacrifice of our energy and time. So, we have to find our own way.
Audience: Do you think that lust has to do with depression?
Instructor: Yes. Depression is a repression of energy. Usually it is repressed anger, but depression can be quite complicated. So, what is anger? Usually, anger emerges because of some desire that is not fulfilled; it could be pride, it could be lust, it could be envy. When our envy is not fulfilled, when our lust is not fulfilled, we get angry, and when we do not deal with our anger, and we repress our anger, it becomes “depressed.” That is, the energy is inverted, suppressed, buried in the mind. Those are layers of submerged psychological conflicts that need to be resolved, otherwise they will transform into illness and kill us. It is quite significant. We all have that in our own ways. Any ego can be engaged in that way, and be transformed in that way.
Audience: Can you talk about the subject of what is known as mystical pride?
Instructor: Mystical pride is a special form of pride related to spirituality. Mystical pride is that part of the psyche that becomes fat based on its perception of itself in relation to spiritual things. So for example, someone who has memorized the bible becomes very proud of that, and struts around quoting scripture all the time to show off. That is mystical pride. It harms them and it harms others.
The problem with pride is that when you allow pride to proliferate in your psyche and in your environment, you are a liar, first of all. We have no cause to be proud, especially spiritually. We are not significant and important. What has spiritual value is our Being.
Secondly, pride is harmful because it generates resentment in the people around us. Someone who has mystical pride causes others to be resentful and to be shamed in fact, so it is really harmful. Mystical pride of a teacher drives students away from spirituality. This is a very serious crime.
Mystical pride has other manifestations as well. It becomes especially dangerous when we start to have spiritual experiences, especially when we misinterpret them. Every religion in the world has suffered from this. There are many people who have some kind of samadhi or spiritual experience, and then they think that they are a great master, so they go out posing as humble but are really quite arrogant, and telling people to worship and follow them, and that they are master “so and so” and that every word they speak is important. That is what we call mystical pride. Another word for that is mythomania. It is prevalent in every religion in the world.
Every student of religion needs to mindful of this, because mystical pride can emerge in different ways. We all have mystical pride when we think that our spirituality is superior to others. Unfortunately, in the Gnostic movement this is very widespread. There are many Gnostic schools that teach that “we Gnostics are superior to all other religions in the world” and “if you are in a Gnostic school you are better than other people because you have Gnosis.” That is an outrageous lie. All it does is feed fear and pride, and create separations between people. It is harmful, it is infectious, it is a negative emotion, and it should be stopped. It is poisoning humanity.
You find that in every religion. The Christians think that they will be saved, that they are all going to heaven and no one else is. That is mystical pride. It is harmful to them and it is harmful to others. The Jews think that of themselves, too. So do many Tibetans, many Hindus, many Muslims. So, mystical pride has many forms.
Audience: So the ego travels from life to life and gets stronger, but what about our good qualities then? If the personality dies, then what can we take?
Instructor: That is a great question, and I am really glad you asked that. I meant to elaborate that, but my brain is not capable of bringing all the pieces together.
Audience: Not the color of the hair, how we look that, we are not personality but there are certain things that are more spiritual?
The consciousness is a part of the Being; the consciousness is a part of God that is manifested here in order to engage in this level of existence. As such, in the consciousness we find all of the virtues and qualities that should be grown in us until we become a great master, a great Buddha, a great angel. The consciousness is something inherent in all of us.
Those divine qualities are the inverse of the seven. So, naturally inherent in the very nature of who we are we find philanthropy, generosity, not avarice. It is spontaneous and natural in us—when the consciousness is unconditioned—for us to be generous, to give, and we see that especially in children that have not been fully incorporated into their own karmic inheritance (ego). Children have moments of beautiful generosity, and a parent or a teacher sees that from time to time. Yet only rarely does it appear in adults, because we have become so conditioned in our karmic inheritance.
All of our avarice is conditioned consciousness that should be generosity. That is why when we meditate, for example, this morning we actually did this practice in which we view a given scene to see the harmful aspect, and then we work to imagine what we should have done. So in that we should be looking for that essential duality. If we acted in a proud arrogant way, we really should have been humble.
That is true of all seven.
Laziness should be diligence of consciousness, that willfully wants to work on behalf of others, to do good. That is our true nature.
If you see your pure Essence itself, pure, naturally, unconditioned, in the internal worlds, in its natural state, it is so beautiful. In us, because it is undeveloped, it is like a small baby, but it radiates so much beauty. It radiates these qualities: generosity, diligence, chastity, like a flower but more beautiful than any flower that you have seen in the physical world.
Pride is humility.
Anger is love.
Envy is happiness for others.
Gluttony is temperance, restraint.
We all have those virtues, naturally, spontaneously, inherently in our true nature, but they have become obscured, conditioned, covered. If you can penetrate the covering and see what is hidden there, you can see the undefiled consciousness.
In Buddhist philosophy, especially in the more advanced forms of Buddhist philosophy, it is stated that the natural state of mind (rigpa) can never be defiled. It is always pure, it is always free and unconditioned. It is in itself, in its Essence, the Absolute, the Emptiness, the purity inherent in all things. In its heart, it cannot be defiled. The example is given of a glass of muddy water. The water is mixed with mud. You would not want to drink that, it would be bitter. But if you let the glass sit and you wait and let it settle, the water appears, pure and clean. Our consciousness is like that. When we learn to meditate, we are doing the same thing: letting the impurities separate from the original purity.
When your mind becomes very still and calm, and your vigilance is very focused and present, that clarity emerges spontaneously. Moreover, you access your true nature, which is the undefiled aspects of the psyche, which are humility, chastity, purity, happiness for others, etc. Those are natural in us. Anyone of us can access them at anytime. You can make that access more persistent, more consistent and more normal, every time you eliminate an ego. Every time that you choose for that ego to die, to renounce harmful action, you start to extract that free consciousness.
So, from life to life, the Essence trapped in ego moves on, and the ego gets fatter and fatter. Unfortunately, because it is unused, the Essence does not develop. It remains like a seed. Like a seed in the earth that does not grow, that is filled with and surrounded by impurities. If we receive the training, we can start to grow that seed, the consciousness, through right action, through serving others. If we have grown those elements in previous existences, they are still there, hidden, until we awaken again. So anyone of us who may have done work in the past, restored virtues, established certain qualities in the consciousness, those are still there, but they may be latent, because we have forgotten how to use them. If you awaken, you recover it.
Audience: The ability to concentrate can you take that from life to life?
Instructor: The ability to concentrate is the ability to control the flow of your attention. If you developed the consciousness in previous existences—in other words, if you awakened a certain percentage of consciousness—then the degree of concentration could be stronger, but if in the next existence you fall completely asleep, you lose that. As you eliminate ego and awaken you recover it. That is why certain people can enter into a teaching and move very quickly, because they are recovering what they had lost before, but at the same time, those people can go quite quickly and hit a wall, because that is far as they got before, and then they might feel disappointed, they might feel frustrated. They have to realize that about themselves. So yes, concentration is about learning how to pay attention, and it is something that can be recovered, certainly, and also the skill to meditate, as well as learning to get out the body, clairvoyance, and other types of skills.
However, these skills can also be residual in the psyche of the person. There are people who did work in previous existences—sometimes in witchcraft or black magic—who developed those types of skills, but in those existences could be totally asleep but could be able to get the body or have clairvoyant visions easily. They may have worked in white magic or black magic but they are asleep and happen to have the residue of those previous activities. Unfortunately, if they stay asleep, those abilities will harm them, because they will act in harmful ways. That happens too.
Audience: In relation to sacrificing our desires, I find sometimes over a period of time they accumulate and I feel resentment because all my desires haven’t been fulfilled and I feel quite angry and all this energy. For example my husband is quite willing to help and all that and when he sees me doing something he will come and give me help without even blinking. For example even though he needs to study then after a few days if I ask him to do something there will be this burst of anger. Is there another way that we can sacrifice? It just shows me that. Is there another way we can sacrifice? I find it difficult. I mean we have our needs but we have these desires that come up as well?
Instructor: Yes, I totally understand, because I go through that all the time, too. Well, it seems to me the way to overcome that situation and transform that situation is in the moment of making the sacrifices and performing these actions, really be cognizant of your limits, to not compromise too much of your own responsibilities. What I mean by that is that we need to do good and help others, but we need to do it consciously, and with our whole heart. So, for example, when your spouse asks us to do something for them, we should do it without expecting anything in return. We should do it out of love and duty, and do it because we should and it is needed and necessary, and it is our way of helping. Then if we find that we have resentment, we need to correct ourselves. We need to meditate on that resentment and transform it. So it is a process. It is a process that begins when you make those decisions and you offer to do those things—do it consciously so that you take responsibility for it, and then if you have unpleasant consequences from that, like the resentment, you have to meditate. That is a great opportunity to transform and grow in your capacity to give.
This brings up an important point about sacrifice. We all have a duty to our spouse and to our families, and we have a duty to society, also. Sacrifice is something more than duty. The term sacrifice implies something that is more than just duty. To go to an extreme example, we can look at what Jesus did. Jesus came with a duty to teach and to fulfill a mission, but he did way more than his duty; he really performed an incredible sacrifice, giving up so much in order to help other people. So in that way, we can look at our lives and see the same scenario. For example, if we are part of a Gnostic school, and we are receiving teachings from that school, it is our duty to pay back in kind, in turn. Sacrifice is another thing. Sacrifice is beyond that duty. Sacrifice is something above and beyond. Real sacrifice is often painful and not easy. So I think it is important to make that distinction. I think to really be making sacrifices, we really need to go beyond mere duty, and basic responsibilities. I think sacrifice is more.
Audience: What are the seven plants in relation to the forces in nature?
Instructor: I meant to say planets. Sorry; it is probably my accent. Those seven planets are related to plants as well, if you look in the book Esoteric Medicine by Samael Aun Weor. He talks about plants related to those planets. In this context, I was talking about seven planets. This is the order of the seven planets:
- Avarice, which should be generosity: Moon
- Laziness, which should be diligence: Mercury
- Lust, which should be chastity: Venus
- Pride, which should be humility: Sun
- Anger, which should be love: Mars
- Envy, which should be happiness for others: Jupiter
- Gluttony, which should be temperance: Saturn
That is explained in quite a few of the books by Samael Aun Weor if you want to study more about that.
Audience: Can the zodiac sign have an influence as well?
Instructor: There can be an influence from your zodiac sign because your zodiac sign is a planetary influence as well as a stellar influence. It can energize certain tendencies we have. For example, someone who is a Gemini or an Aquarius is an air sign, and both of them are influenced by Mercury. So this type of person has qualities of laziness or hyperactivity. They are always zooming around. That tendency can be quite mechanical.
All the signs have a planetary influence, and that influence extends to the ego.
The reason I presented the lecture the way I did was so that we will not get caught in thinking that because we are a given sign related to a given planet that it defines the nature of our ego. It does not. Our zodiacal and planetary influence is an impact that stimulates our personality.
In this given existence, the personality has certain tendencies and flavors; that means that we might see certain egos more often, but that does not mean that those egos are our chief feature or are the worst egos we have. They are just the ones that are more visible. Yet, below the surface, are many more that we do not see. There are egos we made in other lives, while under the influence of different zodiacal signs.
I know it is complicated, but study it. Study your astrological sign, study the planets that are related with it, study how they influence your behavior, but do not make the mistake that this defines your deepest behavior. It is only the most superficial level.
When you find you have a planetary influence—such as Mars—that influences anger, it brings up anger a lot, so you have to deal with a lot of anger, but it also means that you have a great capacity to love. But remember: that is in the personality not the consciousness, not the Essence, not the ego. That planetary influence is in the personality, not the ego, so make that distinction. What that means is that just because you are an air sign, or just because you have a planetary relationship with Venus, does not mean that lust is your chief feature. It does not mean that at all, because in your other existences, Venus was not your chief influence, which means that lust is not your chief feature.
Audience: In the retrospective meditation when we find that we did something wrong in the review of the day. When you say meditate on it what exactly…I mean we can recognize what we did?
Instructor: Do you remember this morning when I suggested to imagine a person that you love and an image comes up? And then I said look at your heart and how do you feel and you feel something? When you imagine that person, naturally the feelings emerge. That is it. That is to meditate on something. It is very simple; it is not complicated. The problem is that we are so intellectual nowadays, and we think things are so complicated, because our mind is so complicated. Everybody says “I do not know how to meditate on the scripture, I do not know how to meditate on what I read. How do you meditate on a dream?” It is so simple. Visualize it, and see how you feel. Sometimes thoughts come, sometimes the intellect want to chew on it—fine, let it; and if it does not, then it does not. The main thing is the concentration and the visualization and that self-awareness that is looking for how that image is reflecting against our heart. Comprehension comes from the heart, not the intellect. Comprehension is here in the heart; it is intuitive.
You can apply that technique to anything, and you should, especially when you study for example. I do not do as much studying as I should, but as a student, when I listen to lectures, I really prefer to meditate during the lecture and after the lecture; that way I isolate myself from any distractions, and I am fully focused and concentrated on hearing the lecture, and letting my imagination show me what is being explained. So I get a lot more than what is said physically. It is something that was taught to me by my teachers, and it has proved to be very valuable.
The same is true of scripture. When we are studying scripture and we are trying to understand something that is written in the books or in any scripture, we do the same process. We study, we look at the concept, we look at the message and the teaching, and then we meditate and we imagine that, and we observe the reflection of that in our heart. What do we feel, what do we sense? Sometimes the answer comes through thoughts, through feelings, sometimes through images, sometimes, “Oh yes, I remember when I read this other thing...” It is simple, it is not complicated.
Audience: When we die where do the Essence and ego go, and when we return what determines when we are going to come back?
Quite simply, when we die, the ego and the Essence are bound by all of the effects of our previous actions. Ego and Essence are intertwined with each other and bound in that karma. When the body is dead and the personality and the body are severed from the consciousness, the ego and the consciousness are projected out. Their trajectory is determined by the actions that we performed previously, as well as being influenced by that instant of death. Everything that was happening at that moment has an influence on the trajectory of that soul. What happens after that depends on all the consequences of those previous actions.
I would suggest that you look at those books and study that course. It is a very deep topic, and there is a lot involved.
Audience: I would just like to know if an ego is taking control of your three brains, if you are able to sense it or anything, is there anything that you are able to do in that moment just to sort of break that taking control. Is there mantras or anything like that. I know we can go back later and revisit it and everything but in that instant?
Instructor: The most important thing to do is become aware of yourself. Become aware of what is happening to you and really observe it and do not avoid it.
Audience: To allow it to flow through say it is an assault or something like that, coming through?
Instructor: It depends, and this is something for which you have to listen to your intuition. Let us look at a couple of examples. Let us say, for example, that you have an argument with your spouse. I know you haven’t [laughter] but if someday it does happen that you have an argument with someone and all of a sudden you realize that you are angry, the first thing to do is really observe yourself, because there is an invader in your psychological house.
Unfortunately, we generally make the mistake of believing we are justified of being angry or we repress it. We say “No, no I do not want to be angry” and we try to avoid it. Both of these are mistaken. The best thing to do is be very aware of it. Sense it. Observe it. Do not push it away, and do not indulge in it. Really become aware of what it is doing to you and what it wants you to do.
The second part is to be very careful about what you do next, because that energy will try to express itself in some way. Often what you need to do is walk away from the situation you are involved in, especially in regards to anger and lust. You need to walk away; do something else, at least until you fully regain control of yourself. If you have a strong desire that emerges—anger or lust or pride, something like that—try to walk away, calm down, relax. Sometimes you cannot; you have to deal with it. But generally, that is the antidote: analyze yourself, be aware, be sensitive to what is going on in your three brains. Remember your Being. If you do not, it is going to come back, and you might not catch yourself next time. That is the simple answer.
Ultimately, the real solution is to on meditate on the experience, to recollect it, and get more information through meditation. You will only be able to succeed if you go beyond what you can perceive with your five senses. You need to see more than what you could see with your eyes and ears and only meditation can give you that. That is a work of a lot of patience.