This is a transcription of the audio lecture Twenty two Arcana of Tarot and Kabbalah 03 Arcanum 3 The Empress originally given live on Gnostic Radio, which you can download for free.
The Law of Three is the law which creates. In the books of the Master Samael Aun Weor, he calls this the Triamazicamno, which is an ancient esoteric term referring to this Law of Three.
The first Arcanum, related to the projective masculine force, unity, projects, but it is balanced and equilibrated by the second factor, or the second Arcanum, which is duality. So then we have these two forces in a dual relationship, but for creation to actually occur, for the world of Daath to actually blossom and manifest existence, manifest creation, there has to be a third factor.
This Law of Three is that profound and deep equilibrium between forces. We have this symbolized in many of the structures of the Tree of Life. We have three columns upon which hang three triangles, and each triangle is made of three spheres. The Law of Three is the very structure of our Tree of Life, both within us and outside of us.
The Law of Three becomes something very foundational for our understanding of the Kabbalah, as it does provide the very foundation of the Tree itself. More than that, the Law of Three provides a vital foundation for the work that we have to perform in order to self-realize all the Sephiroth. The self-realization of the Sephiroth means perfect comprehension of all the laws that manage the Sephiroth. So when we look at this Law of Three, we are actually looking at something that we have to embody. We have to learn how to work with the three forces of creation.
In the symbolism of many religions, we have at the root of creation certain forces or factors. Water is a very common, universal symbol related to creation. We also find air, or Spirit; we also find fire. These three root elements are also symbolized in the Zohar and in the Sepher Yetzirah, which is an ancient book of Kabbalah. And these three forces, which underlie all of manifested creation, are called the Three Mother Letters. They are Aleph, Mem, and Shin.
Aleph, of course, as we talked about in the first lectures, is related to the first Arcanum. This character of Aleph symbolizes air. Mem is coming up in a future lecture. It is closely related to water. And Shin, with its three points as the embodiment of those three factors, represents fire. So air, water, and fire are these three root factors, or principles, which when combined in a certain balance, produce creation.
Synthesized, the explosion of those three forces brought together is light. It is the light which illuminates. We know very well that if we bring together fuel, air, and ignition, a spark is produced; fire erupts. And those three factors are the forces that are present in all of creation at different levels.
These three are one. These three are two. But these three factors have to be managed under will. Creation is a process of the expression of will. This is the key factor. In the creation of our own internal, personal Tree of Life, the structure of our very psyche, there was a will which caused us to come into being. And now that we are here and in manifestation, we have to learn to exercise will in order to create. But the distinction comes when we understand that there are different forms of will, different kinds of will. So what is the will in us which is producing creation in us? This is, in fact, the root question of this entire wisdom-the definition of our alliance of will, what kind of will we are aligned with inside.
The Light that creates is really the Divine Mother itself. That Light is also the Christ itself, in synthesis, but particularized. When we look in the details, the Light of creation is specifically related to the Third Logos, because the form and force of creation, the actual action, is an act of the Law of Three, which of course is related with Binah on the Tree of Life, the third sphere. And that sphere of Binah, that factor of creation, the Law of Three, is represented in this Arcanum, the Empress.
Binah, of course, is the Third Logos, or the third aspect of the Word. Binah is in Sanskrit, or in Hinduism, called Shiva. And Shiva in Sanskrit has many attributes, but he is often called the Creator and the Destroyer. This is a very important quality of Shiva to understand. In fact, when we look into the Bible we see that the Holy Spirit, which is also Binah, also has the powers of creation and destruction. The creative and destructive power of God resides in Binah as its pure expression.
In this third Arcanum, in the graphic, we see a woman seated on a cubic stone, and over her head are twelve stars. In Kabbalah, everything is reduced to numbers and all the numbers contain significance, so twelve is related to the Apostle, to the Law of Sacrifice, which we will talk about in the lecture Arcanum Twelve. But the number twelve can be reduced kabbalistically by adding the one and the two, which becomes three. So there is a deep relationship between the Divine Mother as depicted in the Third Arcanum and the number twelve, which is sacrifice, which is, of course, related to the Christ. These twelve stars also relate to the Zodiac, which is in the macrocosm, the universe itself, and within us, in the microcosm. The Law of Twelve is another law which modifies that solar light in order to engender influences on our psyche.
This woman depicted in the third Arcanum is called the Empress. She is the ultimate authority over an empire. And what is that empire? This image symbolizes our own, individual, particular Divine Mother. The Divine Mother as a force has many attributes, has many aspects. In Gnosis we talk about five primary manifestations, or faces, of the Divine Mother, which, of course, we will talk about in Arcanum Five. But in this particular Arcanum Three, we are seeing our own individual Divine Mother.
The empire is that which we have to become the ruler of. We ourselves have to become the Emperor, which is Arcanum Four. But we do that, we achieve that goal of becoming fully self-realized by having perfect dominion over our own empire, our own kingdom.
Kingdom in Hebrew is Malkuth. Malkuth is the lowest sphere, the tenth sphere, on the Tree of Life, which represents us. To become an emperor, to sit at the side of the empress, means that we have to have perfect dominion over our own psychological country. We arrive at that dominion by learning what is in our country, how does everything work, and by putting everything into order, by keeping order.
Within us, we have many aspects, many factors. We have our physical body, and we have many other vehicles through which we act. In this kingdom of Malkuth, if we start where we are today, we look at ourselves; we see that we have the capacity to think, which is related to our intellect; we have our emotions; and we have the impulse to action. These are our three brains.
We say three brains because each of these aspects of our own psychology is a machine. Each one has its own functions; each one has its own duties; each one has its own capacities. Each one is a brain that is a center, or a machine, within which certain processes are performed. These three brains are a reflection of this Law of Three. These three brains are vehicles, or machines, through which action is performed.
In Gnosis we understand that action is not limited to the movement of physical matter. This is one aspect of action, of course. When we walk, when we talk, when we speak, when we move something from one place to another, we are performing action physically. And this kind of action is related to this third brain, the motor-instinctive-sexual brain, which involves the use and function of the physical body.
But that brain has other functions. We have action which occurs in us due to our motor abilities, to move around; action that we perform in relation to our instinct, instinctive forces which drive us, which much of the time we have no conscious awareness of; and then we have a third part of that brain, which is sexual, and there are impulses that drive us from that sexual center and whose activities we often have no knowledge of, because that force, that influence, is deep within our psyche.
In our emotions, we also perform action. The feelings that we have, we act upon. We nurse them. We have feelings about past events or desires for the future. When we nourish those feelings, when we think about them, when we indulge in them, when we are feeling them and stirring them and stimulating them, that is an action, which produces consequences. And further, in the intellect, when we think, the thoughts we think are a performance of action.
In each level, there is a function of action and consequence, one of those dual laws of nature. There can be no action that occurs without a consequence. This is a law. We know this law is reflected very well in Newtonian physics, that in three-dimensional physics related to material, physical matter, we see that if we perform an action, there is a response. If we perform an action, there is a reaction, or a consequence.
What we do not realize is that the same essential duality of action and response is occurring on other levels. That occurs emotionally, and it occurs in the mind. When we feel, when we stimulate feeling, we are producing actions related to the emotional plane, related to the emotional body, the Astral body; likewise with the mind, with thought. Thoughts are real in the sense that they are a form of matter, but not physical matter.
Understanding this makes us realize we have a great responsibility. One of the fundamental problems that humanity suffers from is this great illusion of the mind that we are independent. We believe in a subtle level within our own mind that we are separate; that I, myself, and me, that I am separate from everyone else, and I have my own little world within which I do whatever I want. This is an illusion. It is not the Truth.
When we analyze and understand the nature of our three brains in combination with this Arcanum, number three, we have to begin to grasp that our thoughts are creative, our emotions are creative, our impulses to act are creative. Through each of these three brains flows energy. Those energies are directed by will, but what will are they directed by, and what are those energies creating? This is something that we have to grasp and understand-very practical, very immediate.
Three Types of Soul
When we refer back to the Kabbalistic mysteries, we understand that in the ancient Kabbalistic scriptures, there are three types of soul that are attributed to us. These three aspects of our own psyche, when we look at them and understand them, we can gain a little more insight into how our own psyche functions.
When God wants to extend Himself, rather, needs to, in order to manifest into the world, He does this through a vehicle, and that is, of course, us. But the process of doing that is symbolized in the scriptures. And the symbol is that God breathes into the man and gives him life. That breath is the Hebrew word Neshamah.
Neshamah, in one of the Kabbalistic examples that are traditionally given, is the breath that we take into the mouth as we begin to blow. So when we fill the mouth with air, this is Neshamah; this is the breath that is prepared. When the breath is sent and delivered, this is Ruach, which is the second aspect of our soul. And when that breath arrives, it is called Nephesh.
These three components symbolize different functions, different aspects, of our psychology. When we look at ourselves, we have to understand there are many levels, many aspects, of our own soul that we don't know. The process of self-realization is to know those parts directly, not just with the intellect. And to arrive at that knowledge is a process of action in our three brains. So the descriptions that we study, these symbols, these ancient traditions, are given not just to play with in the mind. They are given to us so that we can better understand ourselves.
Neshamah, or this breath, is also called the Spiritual Soul. Ruach is called the Thinking Emotional Soul. And Nephesh is called the Animal Soul. All of the animals have Nephesh. We have Nephesh. This is the level of consciousness within which we have animal desire, animal instinct, animal intelligence. And this Nephesh develops as the soul, the essence, processes through all the lower kingdoms of nature. From its very entry into manifestation in the mineral kingdom, and as that essence evolves and ascends up through the mineral kingdom into the plant and animal kingdoms, it is all along elaborating the Nephesh. When that soul, the essence, graduates from the animal kingdom, it enters into the human kingdom and receives the intellect, receives the capacity to reason. This is related to Ruach.
Ruach and Nephesh, in us, are inserted into the lunar bodies, the lunar mental and lunar astral. They are within those bodies. The initiate who is studying himself in order to realize himself is given tests and ordeals. The tests and ordeals are given to Nephesh and Ruach, which are trapped inside of the egos.
The central factor for us to grasp is that we receive Ruach in order to control Nephesh, but humanity does not do this. Humanity uses their Thinking Emotional Soul, Ruach, to feed Nephesh, to feed the Animal Soul, and this is our problem. This is where the work of Gnosis, the work of any real spiritual tradition, begins. The aspirant to the Path who seeks to escape suffering, who seeks to transcend Karma, the law of cause and effect, does so by learning how to control Nephesh. This is the basis of any real work.
Nephesh, the animal soul, is the instinct of the animal within our mind, within our psyche. When we observe an animal in nature that goes into heat, this is Nephesh which is vibrating with the instinctive, lunar forces being applied to it by nature. The Nephesh belongs to that; it is the force and power of the animal instinct. It is lust. It is desire, passion. It is a level of intelligence, but very inferior, because it belongs to the instinctive, mechanical functions of nature.
When the soul enters the human kingdom, the soul is given the rule, "You shall no longer be as you were when you were an animal. You are now an intellectual animal, and in order to stop being an intellectual animal, you have to stop being an animal." Only by conquering the animal instinct do we become human. As long as the Nephesh rules our psychological country, we remain as animals, driven by instinct and desire.
Three Causes of Suffering
When we examine this famous painting, which was made many, many centuries ago in India and given to a king, a painting that is called the ‘Wheel of Samsara,' the ‘Wheel of Life,' in the very center of this wheel we find the axle. And the axle of this wheel has three animals which are biting each others' tails, forming a chain of causality.
The Wheel of Life is related to the Arcanum Ten, which we will talk about in another lecture, but the Wheel of Life, or the Wheel of Samsara, depicts the cyclic recurrence of nature, the cycle of suffering, the cycle of Karma. The axle upon which the wheel of suffering turns is symbolized by three animals, which are related to Nephesh.
The first animal is a rooster. When we analyze the qualities and characteristics of a rooster, we see an animal that is proud, vain, and driven by instinct. The rooster is the one who dominates the chickens. And why does he do that? For sexual reasons. The rooster symbolizes craving, desire, passion. The rooster represents an aspect of our own Nephesh, which is the animal instinct, the craving, the desire to reproduce, to experience the sensations of sexuality as an animal. So this is something vital for us to grasp: that at the very basis, the very center, of suffering, the whole wheel of life and death upon which all creatures are trapped and suffer due to karma, the very root of that, can be found in lust, in this rooster that we have within, proud and vain.
The second animal is a snake. The snake symbolizes aversion, hate, fear. So now we have craving and aversion, the great pendulum of our own egotistical mind. And the point from which these two swing back and forth between craving and aversion is symbolized by a third animal, which is a pig.
The pig symbolizes ignorance. Ignorance, in this context, is the ignorance of our true nature, the ignorance of God, the ignorance of the Absolute, emptiness. When we do not have the direct, experiential knowledge of Sunyata, the Absolute Abstract Space which underlies all manifested things, then we persist with this illusion that we are real, that we are "I", "Myself," and that "I" am separate and have my own little universe, and "I" can do whatever I want. This is ignorance, this is avidya, ignorance. The pig ignores, and wallows in the mud of life as an animal.
These three factors-craving, aversion, and ignorance-perform the Law of Three. Because of these three forces within our own psyche, we create destruction, we create suffering. This is how the Law of Three processes in us, according to the laws set up by God. But, because we remain enslaved to our animal desire, to our own Nephesh, when we use our own capacity to reason, to think, to analyze, we use that in service of our animal instinct to feed our lustful desires, our proud and prideful desires, our vanity, our fear. We remain enslaved to the Wheel of Life, we remain in suffering, we remain in Samsara.
The work begins when we learn how to use Ruach to listen to Neshamah. Neshamah is the Spiritual Soul. Our own essence, our own consciousness, is an aspect of Neshamah. The essence that we have, the free consciousness that we have within, is very small; it is just a spark. It is symbolized in that famous children's story of Pinocchio as the cricket. The cricket is very small and it is hard to hear him. And we, of course, are Pinocchio. We want to be a real man, right? We want to become a real person. But we do not listen to our guide, we do not listen to our own Neshamah, our own consciousness. Thus, we remain as Ruach enslaved by Nephesh, animals.
Neshamah is the channel through which our own Innermost can deliver His wisdom, can deliver His knowledge, His guidance, to Ruach. It is only when we learn to listen to the voice of our own Inner Being that we can receive the guidance necessary to control Nephesh and to become real human beings.
This work to control Nephesh is also based in laws and in a practical science. Nephesh contains forces that have to be directed by will. When we look at the Tree of Life, we see that the center of the Tree is Tiphereth. Tiphereth is the human soul; it is will. It is what we must become. Tiphereth is will under the Being, will guided by Neshamah, the Divine Consciousness, who is the soul of the Innermost.
Tiphereth, in this case, represents to us the pathway to Kether, the pathway to full knowledge of our own Being. Tiphereth, being in the center of the Tree of Life, is that direct path, is the equilibrium of the Tree. But the fuel, the force with which Tiphereth rises, is the Foundation upon which Tiphereth rests, which is directly below in Yesod.
Yesod, of course, is related to our vital body, to the etheric, or energetic, aspect of our physical body. Yesod is the foundation, and of course, it is related to the sexual forces, the Ninth Sphere.
Nephesh is the animating principle of the body, the animating principle that gives force and vitality to our physical and etheric bodies. It is that force, those factors, that Tiphereth has to control under the guidance of Neshamah. This is symbolized in alchemy by three elements: I, A, and O.
‘I' is related to fire: Igneous. ‘A' is related to water: Agua. And ‘O' is related to the spirit, to the air: Origo. Fire, water, and air-three elements. These three symbolic elements are the foundation of the four elements of nature. So you start to see some correspondences from the one, to the two, to the three, to the four. There is a progression that occurs.
But these three letters, IAO, encompass and embody a vibration. They are a sacred mantra: I-A-O. And in this combination of sounds is the science of alchemy. So the alchemist, when working in the laboratory-the laboratory of the Ninth Sphere-which of course is related to the sexual matter, chants this sacred mantra, these three sounds, in order to dominate, by will, the forces of the Nephesh. These three vowels form a vehicle through which divine will can be exercised. And these three vowels are, of course, related to those three elements: fire, water, and air, or spirit.
By means of these three factors, these three forces, the alchemist learns to dominate himself or herself. The entrance into the human kingdom is a work of will. Entrance into the Kingdom of God is not acquired by being nice. It is not acquired by adopting different moral codes or certain superficial kinds of behavior. The entrance into the Kingdom of God requires that we are born into that Kingdom. Birth is creation.
To be born again is to have a physical body and yet be born once more, but inside-internally, spiritually. Birth is one aspect of the process of being on the path to self-realization. And of course, birth in itself requires the Law of Three. For us to be born physically, we needed a man and a woman and sex. Our mother, our father, and the sexual act, when brought together, produced a spark. And that spark, of course, was our birth, our conception. That is the first factor of the three factors for the revolution of the consciousness: birth, but birth inside, as a soul.
The forces of Nephesh, those sexual forces that vitalize our very existence, are placed within our physical body by God. The physical body itself is a gift. Within it circulate forces and factors which have tremendous power. When we learn to listen to our Neshamah to receive the guidance of our Inner Being, and we are led to this sacred science of Gnosis, we are given the key to transform the forces of the Nephesh and to make ourselves into something better, to be born again as a soul, to be born of the spirit.
But we also have to learn how to die. The second factor in the three factors for the revolution of the consciousness is death. We have to die as an ego. Everything that is imperfect in us has to die. This is symbolized in all the great religions by the symbolic death of the various initiates: the beheading of John, the martyrdom of the various saints.
Death also is a process of three factors. In the same way that the combination of the man and the woman and the Holy Spirit, or the sexual forces, produces birth, that Holy Spirit, which is the creator in the process of birth, is the destroyer in the process of death: Shiva. Death, then, requires the same combination of elements: three factors, three forces, three principles in equilibrium.
The key to understanding these first two factors is that when you combine the three elements to create something, you are working within an enclosed space. When the man and the woman join sexually, they are producing a vibration, gathering energy, because this dual nature, projective and receptive, push against each other, which elevates the overall vibration and accumulation of forces. And those two are equilibrated in the sexual act itself.
However, the equilibrium has to be managed under the guidance of Neshamah. If Nephesh interferes, it wants to act as an animal to satisfy its desire. Therefore, that conjunction of forces in the Ninth Sphere, in sex, becomes animal. It becomes the axle of the Wheel of Life, the axle of the Wheel of Samsara. The ignorance of our true nature in combination with the craving for sexual sensation becomes destructive.
Yet, if Neshamah, the guidance of our Being, is present, we learn how to contain the forces of that union to direct it by conscious will by the use of mantra: I-A-O. And those sexual forces are not released. Those forces are built, gathered, accumulated, and redirected, harnessed, stored. This is the door to return to Eden: by controlling Nephesh and learning to gather the forces of sex and use them under divine will.
Those forces still are creative and destructive, but on an ascending arch, an evolving arch. When we perform the sexual act as animals, those forces are creative and destructive as well, but on a descending arch.
The animals who perform the sexual act create new physical bodies. The intellectual animals, meaning us, dominated by Nephesh, perform the sexual act under the desires of Nephesh, and that act is creative and destructive. It creates more lust. It creates physical bodies. It creates more attachment. Desire, when fed, produces more desire. Desire is like a flame: the more fuel you give it, the bigger it gets.
The fire of sex is creative and destructive. Nephesh, which circulates in our blood, as passion, creates the ego, creates karma, creates suffering. Those forces, those fires, circulating in the blood, in the sexual act, under the control of Nephesh, destroy the essence, because with each new packet of desire that we create, we trap consciousness. That is why humanity is now so dark, lacking light, so blind, so ignorant. Humanity is overwhelmed with karma. Humanity is overwhelmed by Nephesh.
In the Ninth Sphere, under the guidance of Neshamah, the divine will, the guidance of the Being, the forces of sex create and destroy. But when those forces are controlled, guided, by the Divine Mother, by the Arcanum Three, our own particular, individual, interior Mother, then those forces create consciousness, illumination, light, the soul. And those forces destroy attachment, desire, fear, loneliness, emptiness, doubt.
The third factor in the revolution of the consciousness is sacrifice. Sacrifice also embodies the three forces in our three brains. In order for us to walk the path of self-realization in equilibrium, in psychological balance, we have to balance the three forces in every level. We have to balance the three forces of our three brains by enforcing conscious will over our thoughts, over our feelings, and over our impulses to act. We have to work with three forces in the management of our sexual energies, whether we are single or in a couple. And we have to manage consciously the three factors: birth, death, and sacrifice. In synthesis, the work with the Third Arcanum is a work of service to the Divine Mother.
The achievement of psychological balance is a work that is accomplished by the guidance of our own particular, individual, Divine Mother. Every step of the Path is achieved because of Her mercy, because of Her love. She is the Path itself, in us. She is the perfect embodiment of love, and everything that we could ever hope for, She has; everything that we could ever need, She is. We fall into ignorance and craving and aversion because we forget our own Divine Mother. We forget Her.
At the base of matter, at the base of nature, we study these aspects of the Divine Mother. When we look inside of an atom, we see that atom is mostly empty space. And that empty space correlates to the emptiness, to Sunyata, which is the essential impermanence of all matter.
When we become identified with ourselves, with "me," with "myself," my thoughts, and my desires, and my needs, and my fears, we are forgetting that the self is impermanent. The self is interdependent, and we have forgotten our Being.
Creation and destruction, birth and death, are happening right now. The ancient sages said the instant we are born, we begin to walk towards death. Each moment of life is a step towards death. The very process of thought is a process of birth and death, that duality.
The self that we so firmly grasp in our ignorance is not fundamentally real. The desires that push us through our instinct, through our emotions, through our thoughts, are illusions.
To comprehend the science of numbers requires that we see how the numbers relate to one another. We understand the Law of Three by understanding how it relates to the number two, to the number one. And we understand our own selves in the same way. We have to analyze the process of thought and learn to discriminate between the processes of the intellectual brain and the processes of the emotional brain, because they are different. We confuse them. We have to learn to compare and understand the differences between the impulses that drive our motor-instinctive-sexual brain and the impulses that drive our emotions. And we have to grasp and understand that all of those psychological processes that are ongoing in us are impermanent. They rise and fall.
When we become agitated, anxious, angry, nervous, afraid, happy, the base of those instinctive feelings, the base of those sensations that stimulate our three brains, is the Nephesh, animal sensations which are arising and stimulating us energetically. We have to separate from those experiences and analyze them with the Thinking Emotional Soul, Ruach, to recognize that sensation is impermanent. To be a slave of sensation is to be a slave of sin. Sensation has to be dominated, and controlled, and understood. We approach knowledge of our own God as we separate from identification with sensation.
Sensations that process in us, when we analyze them in their depth, we see that there is nothing there. It is a vibration. The sensation, or pleasure, of the sexual act is a vibration which arises and then passes away. The sensations that we receive from eating a particular food arise for a brief moment and then pass away.
Our ignorance is demonstrated in our attachment to the sensation. We see that sensation, we want it, and we want it to continue. This is ignorance. Nothing continues. Nothing lasts. Everything is impermanent. But because we have this belief in ourselves as an existing entity, and we have this belief in sensation as something that can persist, we suffer. We think, "If I can just make more money, I will be happy. If I can just learn a little bit more about this or that, I will be happy. If I can just move to a new place, I will be happy." There is a failure to recognize that these desires are founded in the belief that they will be permanent.
The whole conception of our own self is false. All the desires that push Nephesh, that our Ruach is enslaved by, are false. The sensations of sex which drive us to perform the sexual act as an animal, those sensations are impermanent. They cannot be sustained, but we want to repeat them, and repeat them, and repeat them, and sustain them. And so people become addicted. And because the sensations do not persist and cannot persist, they become habituated, addicted, to keep trying to repeat the sensations.
And the problem is the sensation becomes less interesting the more it is repeated, because that is the nature of the Nephesh-desire. So as the sensation is repeated and becomes less interesting, the person who is enslaved by those desires has to make them more extreme. The person has to add new elements in order to continue to stimulate the Nephesh. This is why people enter into sexual degeneration, entering into activities and behaviors which become gradually more extreme and more harmful.
The same is true of everything else in life: food, careers, education. Some people believe that they will only be happy once they get married, and have a family, and have a house, and have a boat and a car. Then they get all that stuff; they are still not happy, so they start looking for something else. They start to commit adultery. They start to try drugs. They may become addicted to making money. They may become addicted to evangelizing. All of these things, in their root, are sensations which stimulate Nephesh, the Animal Soul.
Comprehension occurs when we analyze very wisely, in meditation, the nature of phenomena-when we comprehend that sensations are impermanent, that matter is impermanent. This is where real self-observation begins. We have to comprehend and understand that self-observation has in its essence the recognition of impermanence.
If you really comprehend impermanence, then you will really understand the need for self-observation. But when you fall into the illusion that "I" am "me," and "I" am just this way, then you will not self-observe in the right way, because the "I" is impermanent, and everything that arises in us is rising and passing. We are not in a continual state. There are always things changing and moving in us. This is why we need to be mindful of what we are doing. We need to be watchful of our mind. And we need to guard our heart.
All things, outside and inside, are impermanent, are subject to change. True self-realization, in the depth, is the discovery of that which is real, that which is beyond impermanence. But we cannot find that in the intellect. We cannot find that in the emotion, in any sentiment, in any theory. We have to find that in practical facts in our own psyche. Therefore, we learn how to meditate, to analyze phenomena, in order to see what is real and what is not, what is impermanent, what is illusion.
To observe oneself is a process of these three factors as well. When we observe ourselves with the consciousness, we are opening a channel, a connection, in ourselves, to perceive without illusion. But that perception is a force of will. It cannot happen if we are passive. It cannot happen if we have a mechanical routine.
Many people think self-observation is a mechanical routine, a repetition of particular steps that they keep repeating. It is not. Self-observation is an active, highly dynamic, highly flexible, spontaneous, intuitive process that constantly changes. This is because we ourselves are constantly changing, and if we form a routine, a mechanical process of observing ourselves, then we become mechanical, and the consciousness is not mechanical.
In self-observation we have birth, we have death, and we have sacrifice, but to really open up comprehension we have to also have self-remembering. To remember the Self is to remember our own Inner God from moment to moment; to remember our Divine Mother from instant to instant; to always be aware that in the heart of all of our atoms, all of our molecules, all of our cells, all of our organs, is an animating fire, our Divine Mother, our Inner Being. The remembrance of God opens us to receive the guidance of God, which comes through Neshamah.
If we do not remember ourselves, if we do not remember our God, then who is influencing us? If we do not remember our Inner Being, what will is pushing us?
We have to learn to self-observe-this is clear in Gnosis-to learn to observe the self, to observe the mind, to observe our actions. But who is guiding the observation of ourselves if we don't remember our true selves: our own inner Being?
Gnostic students who learn to self-observe need to learn to combine self-observation with self-remembering, and this is an ongoing act of will from moment to moment. Self-remembering and self-observation have in their heart the recognition of impermanence of oneself, the recognition that all of this that I think that I am is constantly changing, and I as I am cannot change for the better without God, without the influence of my own, inner, Divine Mother.
We enter into arrogance when we try to change without the help of God. We enter into pride when we try to change on our own. We have to appeal to our own, inner, Divine Mother, the root of every life form, the root of every force and power which sanctifies the soul.
The Third Arcanum is a very profound, very deep, penetrating law which applies to every aspect of real esoteric knowledge. But it is easy to become lost and confused in the intellect when we over-analyze and over-theorize about these laws. The Third Arcanum, for us, can be very practical when we rely upon it in this way: knowing it is our Divine Mother, who is that third factor, that third force.
The teacher Gurdjieff said, "Humanity is third-force blind." It is true. We love duality, good versus evil, positive versus negative. But we always forget the third factor. This also applies in our endeavors. When we endeavor to enter into some new activity, this is the first force, projective, the Arcanum One. But as soon as we desire that, as soon as we intend to act, the second force appears, which is the resistance. These are the first two notes of the scale, Do and Re.
Most of the time (we will use, for an example, studying this kind of teaching) we become inspired and interested, that is the note Do, the first force. So we become very enthusiastic. We begin to study, to read, to go to class, to do all the things that our religion invites us to do. But then we immediately are confronted by the resistance, which the first force conjures. It is natural; it is a law of nature; it is unavoidable. If you begin an activity, an opposing force will appear-that is the way nature works. So for most people, not being aware of the third force, they stop. "It is too hard. I cannot do it. It is too much." Many students approach Gnosis and have this experience. They begin to study and try to practice, but the resistance appears. The resistance is their own ego. The resistance is the egos of other people. We have to utilize the third force, the third factor, the Arcanum Three.
To overcome the resistance is an act of will, willpower. But who provides the will? That is the key question. We have to be sincere in ourselves on a psychological level. Is that will coming from our ego, and does not want to quit and look like a quitter? Is that will coming from our fear, which is afraid of what will happen if we quit, so we stay? Or is that will coming from our consciousness, who knows that this knowledge is real, and we have to change, we have to do this work. Spiritually, energetically, the will to overcome resistance is either provided by the ego or by the Being.
The character in Hebrew related to the third Arcanum is Gimel. Gimel is the third letter of the Hebrew alphabet. And in this character we see quite clearly the Vau, the Vav, which we talked about previously, which is related to the human soul and to the spinal column. But this Vav has a Iod, the masculine principle, projecting from its base. And of course, the Iod is related to the phallus.
The Being provides us the will, the source of will, necessary in order for us to overcome the second factor, the resistance. And that force of will is the sexual energy itself. The Iod is the channel. The sexual energy is the means by which the Human Soul, the Vav, conquers and enters into equilibrium.
In some traditions they describe Gimel- there is a little story that talks about Gimel, that it represents a rich man chasing a poor man. This is symbolic and grossly misinterpreted in most cases. The rich man in this example is the Innermost, our Inner Being, God, who is chasing the poor man, who is us. These two men are described by Paul as the Terrestrial Man, who is us-the poor man-and the Heavenly Man, who is the Innermost.
The rich man chases the poor man, our Being is chasing us, otherwise we would not be here, studying Gnosis. But the Being, the Innermost, needs to deposit within us His riches, His wealth. He does that through Neshamah in terms of spiritual guidance and understanding. But he also does it through Nephesh, through sex.
When the Human Soul, through force of will, as Tiphereth, as the Vav, as will, dominates the Nephesh, he extracts from the Nephesh all of the riches that the Holy Spirit has deposited there, and uses those forces in order to receive the riches of Neshamah, the wisdom of the Being.
Questions and Answers
Audience: When you talk about remembering your Divine Mother, or even your Divine Father, to me it seems a little bit unnatural. I mean, I might think in terms of remembering God, but then thinking in terms of a mother, or even a father, I can't relate to that.
The question is about: Remembering the Divine Mother or Father can feel unnatural, and it is hard to relate to.
There is an aspect of our own idiosyncrasy which comes into play in self-remembering. Self-remembering, in itself, is an act of awareness. It does not necessarily mean that we have an image in the mind of a celestial mother, like a form, or a celestial father, as a form. What self-remembering means is to be aware beyond our own little space of the self, of "I." It is to open up our conscious attention, to be aware that there are other forces at work, divine forces at work. In truth, we know the Divine Mother has no form, neither does the Being. But both take form in order to communicate with us.
In different traditions in the east and west, there are practices of meditation which rely on the visualization of form. Typically, these practices are bridges to lead us towards meditation without form. In fact, the experience of Sunyata, or the emptiness, is an experience absent of form.
So the self-remembrance of the Being, to remember one's Being, or God, is simply an act of conscious awareness that extends outside of our own, ignorant sphere, and to be aware that who we are and what we are is one small piece of something divine. It is like we open a door in ourselves to receive something more.
Some students do imagine the presence of a person, and there is nothing wrong with that. It can be very effective to actually imagine that with you, wherever you go, is your own Divine Goddess, your own Divine Mother, who is a splendor of divinity. And with the activation of that imagination, we stimulate superior aspects of our own physiology related to the vital body and related to our consciousness. And this can open us up to the perception of that which is real.
Some students are not comfortable with the imagination of the Divine Mother as a form, and that is fine. The key is to activate the consciousness to be receptive, to perceive something beyond what we perceive in our normal mode of being.
Audience: When you say the foundation is true action first...
The foundation in what sense?
Audience: You know, the sexual will, even. Your actions have to be upright actions that would say... say someone is just beginning, you need to go through the spiritual aspect of it?...
The question is: Is the foundation first in action?
You can enter into Gnosis, your own direct experience, without performing any visible external action. You see what I am saying? The action to enter Gnosis is an action of consciousness. It has nothing, really, to do with physical behavior. Our physical behaviors could look terrible to other people, and often they do. The core of real Gnosis is learning how to act with the consciousness, and the consciousness then guiding all of our other actions: in the mind, in the heart, and physically. The point there is you cannot use your physical action or another person's physical action as a measure for their understanding of Gnosis, because physical things are illusory; appearances are illusory.
The real measure of comprehension in Gnosis is in actions of the consciousness, which, incidentally, can only be perceived by the consciousness. This is a very subtle thing for us to remember. We, as asleep intellectual animals, judge others by their appearances, by how they behave. We judge them without really knowing what is inside of that action. We may be judging someone who is doing conscious action, who is doing what they should do. The only way for us to know that is to be conscious of it, to be awake. This is part of the reason why it is so important for us to not judge-because we don't know. However, someone who is awake will know whether an action is a proper action or a wrong action.
Audience: You said the five senses have nothing to...
The five senses are illusory. The senses, in fact, are vitalized by Nephesh. Nephesh is the animal mind. The very interaction with sensual data and sensual information is facilitated by Nephesh. So when you are looking at and examining sensual information, related to the senses, the Nephesh is the transmitter and receiver of that data.
In Gnosis, we also call this, ‘Sensual Mind.' That level of mind is the lowest, and crudest, aspect of the mind, and it can only know what it sees with the five senses. It does not know anything about the spirit, about God, about consciousness. To really know something you have to look at the root of it, which is beyond the physical world.
Audience: You say everything is impermanent? Isn't there some part of us, though, even if it is just the ultimate observer, which is more or less permanent?
The question is: Is there any part of us that is permanent?
In the teachings of Samael Aun Weor, he says that there are three things which are permanent: space, Karma, and Nirvana. By that understanding, we see that the manifestation of matter occurs in cycles, ages, in great processes. And the same is true of our own microcosm. We arise into manifestation and we fall out of manifestation. We have cycles of birth and death. We also have the same type of cycle on the level of the spirit, where the spirit enters into manifestation and then is retracted.
Immortality, in that sense, is no longer absolute. When all of nature is withdrawn with the great in-breath of God, it all enters into a passive state of existence, or nonexistence. And yet, Nirvana is sustained. So there is a portion of consciousness which is withdrawn into that space while the universe is in repose.
What is interesting is this: the work to self-realize is the work to realize all of the Sephiroth within oneself. When the spirit is extracted from nature and condensed back into the Cosmic Night, all of the creations of the soul, all the bodies, are reduced to an atomic essence, very subtle. So there is a kind of existence there, but it has nothing to do with what we think of as we are now.
Audience: When you talk about self-observing, who is the observer?
That is exactly the question. The question is: When you talk about self-observation, who is the observer? Precisely. You have nailed it. "Who is the observer" is the question we have to answer. That is the necessity for the practice. Who is the observer?
We have to learn, and teach ourselves, to observe, because we do not. We are trapped in subjective points of view, the subject in this sense being "I," who wants something.
Audience 2: So the observer should be Neshamah.
Exactly. The observer, truly, is Neshamah, is the Divine Consciousness. But we have to learn to open that capacity in us. It is dormant. The essence that we have, that spark of consciousness, is an extension of Neshamah, the Divine Soul that we have, but it is asleep. We have to awaken it. We have to awaken ourselves to learn to self-observe, to learn to pay attention. That is something energetic and palpable. It is not theoretical. It is something you can taste, something you can feel. It produces a change when that spark is active, and it is present and working. You can only find it in yourself, and the root of it is in the consciousness, being conscious, being aware. How do you pay attention? Learning to discriminate in yourself.
When a desire is pushing, there is consciousness there, but trapped in desire. When you are angry, your consciousness is there, but trapped in anger. The real self-observation occurs when there is no desire modifying it, and that is the difficulty.
That is why we have to learn how to meditate. Meditation is the science that teaches us how to know the difference between the taste of free consciousness and the taste of conditioned consciousness. Meditation is what teaches that. It is the path to comprehend self-observation and self-remembering-meditation.
The reason is: when we are walking around and we are in our normal life, we are being buffeted by impressions, a constant stream of sensory data which is coming from the outside. Then, we also have a constant stream of data being produced by the mind itself. So we have states and events; we have a vast chaos of information that is buffeting the consciousness all the time. In that chaos it is extremely difficult to maintain self-observation and self-remembering unless you have been trained. And no one outside can train you. You have to train yourself.
The way you train in self-observation and self-remembering is by removing some of that information that is always coming in, by meditation. You isolate the consciousness. You sit, you relax, you close your eyes, you relax your physical body, you relax your emotions, you relax your mind. In each level of that process of relaxation, you are extracting consciousness from another world of data. So you are no longer overwhelmed by physical sensory information; then you are no longer overwhelmed by emotional storms, or emotional desires; then you are no longer overwhelmed by intellectual processes, so that in the end, just the consciousness is there, present. Then you can learn what it tastes like, what it feels like, how it works.
From that, then you take it outside. That bit of understanding that you gather in meditation, you begin to apply during the day, and there is a cycle that begins with effort, with will, with gathered energies transmuted through the sexual processes of alchemy. Transmutation accelerates the whole process; the consciousness is fed and developed rapidly when we transmute the sexual energy. And little by little, self-observation, self-remembering, and transmutation become natural. But that is something that has to be learned.
Audience: Remember how you said that sometimes we think, "Well if I had more money then I would be happy"? What if we think something like, "If I just could learn how to meditate I would be happy; if I just could learn how to self observe, it would cure all my problems"?
Well, learn to meditate anyway.
Eventually you start to grasp the ego is rooted in desire, and desire can manifest in different forms. There are many who enter into spiritual study guided by desire, and influenced by desire, and they never grasp that. So they remain in suffering.
In some sense, what I would recommend to you is to learn to not think about it. When the desire arises, "If I could only learn to meditate," let it go. You will learn as you practice. The desire can become an obstacle.
I will give you an example. When you desire something, when you have a craving, there is an energy, a vibration, that is manifesting in that instant. So the desire for the experience of meditation is a desire of the Nephesh, is a craving of ignorance, a craving related to the ego, that wants something, to experience something; it is a craving for sensation. You see that? You want to experience the sensations of meditation, or you want to experience the sensations of having knowledge about something in particular.
So long as you persist in that desire, it will create a problem for you. The reason is, meditation, real meditation, arises when no desire is present. The entrance into Samadhi occurs when the consciousness is fully extracted from the ego. So if you are meditating with the desire to meditate, you will not achieve it. If you are meditating with the craving for Samadhi, you will never achieve it.
We have to perceive in ourselves the nature of desire, to separate from that, to have no desire. Now this does not mean that we ignore the longing to know God. That is important. That longing is from Neshamah. That is the longing of the soul. But that is not a desire, in terms of sensation. And to distinguish between the taste of those two requires experience. But if you persist, you will see it.
Audience: You said we have to transform Nephesh into a human being.
Yeah, the point is made that we have to transform Nephesh into a human being, and that is the point, that is the work.
Audience: I was just thinking, aren't desire and willpower very similar?
The question is: Are desire and willpower similar things, are they the same?
They are in us, because our will is trapped in desire.
The consciousness is a vessel, a vehicle. It is an energy. The root of consciousness itself, we find within the Monad, related to Tiphereth and the Divine Soul, Buddhi and Manas. This is will and consciousness, and that is what is in us as the essence. But when our consciousness becomes trapped in the ego, the will is trapped in the desire for sensation. So the work becomes extracting the consciousness out of the ego in order to have pure will, which is guided by the spirit. That is what it means to become a hu-man: mind, Manas, will, under the guidance of the spirit, rather than being dominated by Nephesh.
Audience: You talked about everything being reduced to atomic structure. I don't quite understand that, how you relate, what we think of at least, our physical atoms to spiritual essence.
The question is about how we reduce spiritual things to atomic, or scientific, matter.
Who created the atom? God. All the laws that function in nature and in the universe are spiritual. The structure of the atom itself is a structure of the spirit.
Part of the difficulty that scientists are having in these times is that they are not able to bridge the gap between the two realms of science that have emerged in the last couple hundred years.
A couple hundred years ago, everyone become very satisfied with the elaboration of Newtonian physics. So we had the understanding of how matter behaves in the physical world, and all the scientists were very relaxed and very content with the way science was describing things. And so they were very opposed to religion and spirituality. And then Einstein came along, and Einstein pointed out his two famous theories. And what came out of that revolution in the world of materialistic science was the realization that we perceive matter in a certain way, and matter behaves in a certain way, but when you investigate into the depth of matter, it is totally different. This is the difference between Newtonian physics and quantum mechanics.
Now, because the scientists in the mainstream are no longer able to understand what they perceive, they are appealing to religion. They are going and studying Buddhism, and studying the doctrines of the Madhyamaka schools, or the doctrines of the middle way, the Mahayana. They are trying to understand emptiness, because in quantum mechanics, they are seeing the scientific basis of emptiness. In quantum mechanics, they are seeing what the Buddha taught 2500 years ago. And those scientists are confused. So it is curious that you see now in this field of endeavor that scientists are having to recognize the plain and obvious fact that you cannot divorce the study of nature and the study of the soul.
Sure, you can study physical matter and forget about the world of the spirit, but if you really want to understand what is at the base of physical matter, you have to understand the laws that God has put into place. There is no other way. That is why when we talk about atomic science, it has relevance. It has relevance because we believe that this body that we have will persist. We believe that this self, this I, that we have will persist. But when we look at atomic science we see this body is not at all what we think it is.
On the level of conventional truth, the physical body has its functions and processes. But when we only see that side, we remain in illusion. To awaken is to learn to see and comprehend the absolute truth, the truth that underlies the conventional truth, and part of that is mirrored in atomic science-the atom itself is not just physical matter. It is a combination of three elements: matter, energy, and consciousness-the Law of Three in the base of any atom.
The scientists of this day and age are reluctantly having to recognize that truth, because they are observing phenomena that they do not comprehend. I will give you an example. They are performing tests-this is a common test among quantum mechanic physicists-they are performing tests now with particles that make decisions, particles that choose, that demonstrate consciousness. And the scientists do not get it. They do not understand. What they are also noticing and finding in their experiments is that the observation of things at the subatomic level cannot occur without the influence of the observer. So they are seeing the Law of Interdependence at the subatomic level, that they as a scientific observer are not separate from the phenomena that they observe.
This has been a huge wave of upset in the scientific communities, because the idea has always been, "We, as scientists, are distinct and separate from nature." And we have this idea in society nowadays, that somehow we as human people, whatever we are, are different from nature, we are above nature, we are separate from nature. We like to think that. That is wrong. We are slaves of nature, and intimately involved with the processes of nature, and we have to step out of that through a work of conscious will.
The scientists who are performing these experiments are really agitated, and it has created all kinds of ethical and scientific debate in their communities. Gnostics have to do the same thing. People in religion, people in spiritual studies, need to recognize that spirit is at the base of nature. We ourselves exist because of laws that God has put into place, and to ignore those laws is to ignore the truth of ourselves. That is why in Gnosis we study things from a scientific point of view. We could call it scientific mysticism, and that would be pretty accurate.