This is a transcription of the audio lecture Twenty two Arcana of Tarot and Kabbalah 11 Arcanum 11 Persuasion originally given live on Gnostic Radio, which you can download for free.
Today's lecture is about Arcanum 11 of the Kabbalistic Tarot, which is known by varying names such as strength, persuasion.
The image for this Arcanum shows us a woman who stands with great serenity before a lion. The lion has its mouth open. She reaches forward and closes its mouth with her bare hands.
The Arcanum 11 at first glance appears to contain a rather straightforward symbolism. But for the Gnostic student, who investigates mythology or the religious symbolism contained in all the world's religions, we find that this Arcanum refers to a vast, extensive, and deeply interconnected symbolism.
The lion is an ancient and ubiquitous religious symbol. We find the symbol of the lion in all the ancient mythologies and religions. It may be nearly as omnipresent as the serpent. In all the American traditions, the Mayas, the Aztecs, the lion or the great cat plays a central role. Also in the ancient mysteries of Egypt we find the lion as one of the oldest symbols. The ancient god of Amun-Ra, the solar father of the Egyptian mysteries is often displayed as a lion. Amun-Ra, the solar father in the Egyptian mysteries, is the progenitor of the family of gods. The Gnostic student does not make the mistake of attributing to these symbolic figures the kind of literal and superficial meanings that are often ascribed to these gods by archaeologists and school children. The Gods of ancient Egypt are symbols of Kabbalah. That is: they represent a profound scientific and mathematical mystery.
Amun-Ra as the ancient solar divinity, the father of the gods, is the Sun God, or in other words, the Cosmic Christ. From himself he emanates or manifests a pair of twin gods. These twins gods are Shu and Tefnut.
Shu is a masculine solar divinity. The word Shu from the ancient Egyptian refers to "dryness, emptiness, space." Shu is often represented as a lion, in the same manner as his father. We see in this a close similarity to the Greek mysteries, which we discussed in previous lectures. Shu bears a striking similarity to Apollo, who is also a twin God.
Shu's sister and consort is named Tefnut. Tefnut in the ancient Egyptian refers to "moisture." So we see in Shu and Tefnut twin lion gods, because Tefnut is also represented as a lion, a lioness. And in many of her images, she has the body of a human and the head of a lion. Tefnut is related to the moon. Shu is related to the sun. These twin lion gods, the children of Amun-Ra represent an essential duality, whichin Kabbalah we find represented in the hidden sphere of Daath, known in India as Shiva-Shakti.
Interestingly, if you go deeper into the Egyptian symbolism, you discover that Shu and Tefnut, brother and sister, husband and wife, also have children. Their children are Geb, the God of the Earth, and Nut, the Goddess of the sky. So we see an unfolding of pairs, which is very deep in its kabbalistic symbolism related to the worlds of Atziluth and Briah. But that's another lecture.
The point here is, when we examine Shu and Tefnut, we see a duality. We see two columns. Male and female. Man and woman. This is the Arcanum 11, which is constituted by two ones, side by side. These two are the two columns of the temple. This is the mysterious basis for the Sephirah Daath, which is the Tree of Knowledge. The columns stand some space apart, which gives them the strength to uphold the edifice of the temple. These two columns are Jachin and Boaz, positive and negative, projective and receptive, black and white, Yin and Yang, male and female, Sun and Moon.
When we look deeper into the symbols of these two Egyptian, Kabbalistic mysteries, we find that Shu, as the masculine solar divinity, has a very strong relationship with the serpents. Shu is attributed power over serpents, and Shu is also known to guide the dead to the ladder of heaven. In previous lectures we've discussed the ladder: the ladder is the spinal column upon which our consciousness can ascend or descend; to ascend into the heavenly realms by becoming more pure, or to descend into the abyss by becoming more identified with animal desires.
Shu as the lion God embodies in himself this essential duality of the serpent and the lion. In Gnostic symbolism and in all the symbolism of the world religions, the serpent always has a dual aspect. There is the healing serpent, and the destructive serpent. There is the positive upward driving serpent of the Devi Kundalini, and there is the descending destructive serpent of Kali Ma, or Kundabuffer. Shu has the power of the serpents, and according to how we work with our own serpent power, we walk upon the ladder of our own spinal column.
All of this is under the regency of Shu as a solar divinity, as an aspect of our own inner consciousness. That is the lion power within us: the power of the solar force which descends into our psyche. It is the power of the kings. That power is polarized according to our will. If our will is to be a slave of that lion power, or the animal instinct, then we drive that serpent downwards. Yet if we conquer that lion in the manner of the woman on the card, then we rise upon the ladder.
Tefnut, the sister and consort of Shu, has as her attributes gentle rain and the soft wind. What is interesting about Tefnut is that she is also said to give the power of the breath of the deceased. In previous lectures we discussed Neshamah, the "breath of God," which in Kabbalistic symbolism is our divine soul, the sephirah Geburah. From that breath we receive the information, wisdom, intuition, inspiration, from our own Being. So Tefnut, the sister of Shu, is that breath, that divine feminine consciousness, which delivers that gentle wind and rain.
This is Persuasion. This is the power of the consciousness to conquer the animal nature. Tefnut, the Egyptian Goddess, symbolizes the way in which we receive the inspiration, the force, the energy of the gods, of our own Being (our own Inner Self, our own Spirit), and transform those forces through the inspiration that we receive through our own Neshamah, the breath. Tefnut gives that breath to the dead. This does not mean simply when we have died physically. The Egyptian Book of the Dead and all the mysterious, religious, funerary texts refer not to the physically dead although they became known as that. They refer to the psychologically dead, in other words those who pass through the decapitation of John the Baptist, those who have died as an ego. So, in this card we are reminded of Tefnut when we observe this woman who with great gentleness closes the mouth of the lion. She symbolizes that Olympic serenity; Olympic refers to Olympus, the domain of the gods. Olympic serenity means the kind of serenity that comes from the power of the gods. There is a kind of confidence, strength, which is the meaning of this card: persuasion, strength.
Interestingly, the number 11 is related to the Hebrew character Kaph. Kaph is in the form or is represented by a hand in the attitude of grasping. Some Kabbalists say that Kaph has the attribute or has the characteristic of "force."
What kind of force does Kaph embody? Obviously, Arcana 11 is strength, persuasion. This force is the force of love. It is the force of intuition, inspiration which comes through Neshamah, through that breath, the influence of the divine consciousness. This is the force of persuasive strength with which the woman on the card closes the mouth of the lion: the animal desire.
Naturally, through the mouth the lion feeds itself. To close the mouth of the lion represents the need, the necessity, for the initiate, the one who wants to ascend up the ladder to heaven, to close the mouth of the lion, the hand in the attitude of grasping. Kaph. Force. The force of persuasion, not violence.
Here we see another interesting duality: there are many energies in the universe, many ways to manifest our will. The animal instinct is a very forceful energy. When we analyze the symbol of the lion, we see an extensive and very deep and rich history. But if we look simply at astrological significance, when we study Leo, we see that Leo is that stellar influence which rules over our heart and our spine. This is profoundly significant. In the Egyptian mysteries, the heart was considered the brain. The heart was considered the place from which we think, decide and choose. This of course is because the ancient Egyptians understood that the Nous atom is there; it is the influence of the Christ that resides within the heart. The Tibetans often describe the necessity to invert the positions of our heart and brain, to learn to think with the heart and feel with the mind. This is how we establish a balance in our psyche. Leo, this lion-like or forceful influence, rules the heart and the spine.
In Kabbalistic Gnostic psychology, we understand that the spine is related to our third brain: the motor-instinctive-sexual brain. This brain has three parts: the motor center at the top of the spine, the instinctive center at the base of the spine, and the sexual center also at the lower portion of the spine. But these three aspects we consider as one brain, which is very instinctive, very powerful. Leo influences us here: the force of the lion works here. In other words, our own animal nature works in a very strong way through our motor-instinctive-sexual brain. This is self-evident: when you observe yourself, you analyze yourself, you see many behaviors that arise before you can even think about it, before you can even feel something: behaviors that rise without your conscious ability to control it or influence it. This is the force of the lion in us, the animal nature, the lion as a negative or inverted influence. This is animal passion without restraint. An easy example of this is to see how our own animal nature seeking to feed itself through its mouth manipulates us through our spinal column, through our motor-instinctive-sexual brain, to look with lust at other people, instantaneously. In fact, we know, we sense, when there is a lustful image, even when we have not seen it with our eyes. You'll observe it in yourself when all of a sudden you find yourself turning to look at another person that you did not even know was there with your physical eyes, but your lustful instinct knew it. And you look to them with lust. This is the lion out of control. This is the lion controlling us. This is our own consciousness enslaved by animal nature. This is an example of what has to change.
Leo also influences the heart. We see that the animal passions, our own inner lion, works very much in our blood, works very much in the negative emotions, the desires in our heart. Many times we feel that we are in love. We feel strong emotions, strong connections, strong attachments in the heart, but do not realize that it is actually lust masquerading itself in the heart, animal passion masquerading itself in the heart. This is very difficult to distinguish, very difficult to resolve, because it feels like strong emotion, and we think that is love. This is why we need the influence of the positive forces of Leo, the positive forces of our own inner lion, which is the solar divinities, our own Being, Neshamah. This is influence is acquired through meditation and through transmutation: to take and harness the power of the serpent.
Tefnut, the twin lion god, is also represented with a serpent on her forehead: that is one of her forms. If you see any Egyptian image of a pharaoh, of a god or a goddess with a serpent on their forehead, that is Tefnut. That is how she is represented. In her human form, she is also represented with a solar disk and horns because she is a solar divinity. Those horns also have profound significance. Of course the crown of the pharaohs, the crown that Tefnut wears with the horns, is really what Kaph means. Kaph, the Hebrew character, represents "the crown." It is also the first letter of the word Kether, which means "crown." The Arcanum 11 encodes in itself the force that we need in order to conquer our animal nature. When we accomplish that, we receive the crown of gold: that is Kether.
If you recall, Kether has a relationship with all the first ten arcana. Kether is mentioned throughout, but has specific importance in relation with Arcanum 10, which is the character Iod, and with the Arcanum 1, which is the character Aleph. The one, of course, if you take two of those, you have Arcanum 11, which is what we are studying now. Each of those is a 1; each of those is a man and a woman: two Kethers. It is in this relationship, the harmony of the man and the woman, that the Arcanum 11 is elaborated and perfected.
In this Arcanum we see a profound mystery of alchemy. In the relationship between man and woman is the power to conquer our animal nature. This is the power to balance the forms of duality, the forms of dualism. It is a power that is acquired through the heart, through the spine, through Leo.
All the ancient kings, throughout the world, sit upon thrones of gold. Much of the time the thrones themselves have the bodies of animals, usually lions. You can find archaeological evidence from Sumeria, from Egypt, from the East, from the West: thrones of gold build upon the forms of lions. This is no accident. This is not circumstance or coincidence. This represents that the king, the one who has conquered, the one who has overcome, does so by standing upon the gold, by sitting upon the gold of a lion.
At the base of this card, we see a perfect square, which is the cubic stone. And this stone rests in the waters, which is of course relates to Daath, the sexual waters. That cubic stone has to be formed, has to be molded, has to be perfected through the works of Alchemy. As you know, Alchemy is the tradition, the science, to transform lead or base metal which is very impure and heavy, into gold, which is perfect. That symbolizes the need to transform our own sexual waters which are full of impurities into pure waters, into golden waters. This is accomplished by man and woman working in harmony with sexual cooperation.
Within the cubic stone, we see a falcon standing upon the back of a serpent. This is Heru, from the Egyptian symbolism. Heru is an ancient name of Horus, the son of Isis and Osiris. What is represented here is that our own individualized, personal cosmic Christ has to inhabit our cubic stone. God, or the Christ, can only save those who have perfected themselves with his help. This is why Jesus in the Gospels said:
Be thee perfect as your father in heaven is perfect.
No one can enter the kingdom of heaven except through Christ-Osiris. The Christ -which is not a person, but a cosmic, wisdom energy - does not accept adulterers, fornicators, murderers, liars, which all of us are. It becomes necessary for us to examine the lead of our personality, to purify it, to be born again. To be born again is not a theory or a belief. To be born requires sexual cooperation. All of us have been born because of the cooperation of our parents. In the same manner the soul is born.
If we consider life as a series of octaves, we see this physical realm. We have a certain range of perception. It is like a note on a piano. What we see is one note. What we hear is one note. What about all the other notes? We have certain tools that can measure some of them. The process of awakening the consciousness is the process of extracting the pure consciousness from our psychological impurity. When our consciousness is freed, it has the capacity to see the other notes on the keyboard. This is not theoretical. The evidence for it is right before our eyes, in all of the symbols of all the world religions who in their essence all agree: the way to acquire the perception of heaven is through purity of heart, purity of thought, purity of action. So long as impurity corrupts our soul, we remain in that level, trapped in that level of impurity, and that is why our perception is clouded.
To move our rate of vibration, to move up the notes of that ladder, requires that we extract ourselves from the lower levels of our own mind. To change our level of being, we have to abandon all of the activities of the lower level of being. This is not an abandonment in the sense making a vow of saying, "I will stop doing this bad thing." This is fine as a start, but we need a force, the power, the strength of persuasion, in order to completely remove the source of the impurity. We need that Olympic serenity, the power to accomplish something without even the process of thought. We need the ability to behave spontaneously in the right way, not merely because we intend.
This is a subtle distinction: we may intend to do well, but if the ego still resides in our heart, it still corrupts our action. We may intend to be loving, but if the ego of anger resides in our heart, our hate will still be there and still creating an influence. The real form of persuasion is a spontaneous and perfect love without artifice, meaning without any kind of falseness, without false appearance, without trying to be that way: it just is.
That force which is this positive force of the Arcanum 11 only arises because of causes and conditions. It does not arise because of intention. In other words, if the ego is there, existing, it does modify our actions, it does modify our thoughts and feelings even if we do not see it. In the same way, there are many influences that affect what we do even if we do not see them, even if we are not aware of them.
Through the process of alchemy, through - little by little - closing the mouth of the lion, we extract the pure consciousness. Every spark of that consciousness that is extracted gives us more spontaneous powers of love, more ability to close the mouth of the lion further. This is a work of patience. This is not something that is accomplished with violence.
Violence has to be understood. Animal nature is violent. By violent we mean forceful. When we look at the lion, we see it has tremendous power and we admire that. This is part of the reason the lion has played such a central role in religion and mythology. But this lion force can be either positive or negative as we see in the symbol of the lion. In the negative form, the force of the lion can become fanatical, can become skeptical. Many interpret a very forceful, very adamant attitude as good, but it is not. The mind that we have, that animal power, can become fanatic, which is a form of violence. To be fanatic is to be enslaved by one's own fear and pride related to a certain belief or theory. To be a skeptic is to be enslaved by one's fear and pride of the opposite polarity of the fanatic, but still a form of violence in the mental plane. To embody the form of persuasion, the positive force, is to have self-reliance, to have faith, faith born of experience. This is real faith and this form of faith does not need to convince anyone. It also respects the beliefs of everyone. This is real persuasion, this is real love.
Persuasion or this force embodied by Kaph is neither a skeptic nor fanatic. It is a form of serenity. Serenity can only be born through comprehension.
So you see the emphasis in this Arcanum? It is a combination. It is deeply psychological. Through transmutation of our forces, through comprehension of our forces, we conquer and control that animal, forceful nature which can become forceful in the mind, in the heart, and in action.
The Buddha has long been called "the Lion of the Shakya." Shakya is the clan he came from. If you investigate Buddhist symbolism, you will see that most of the time the throne of the Buddha is made of a lion, sometimes eight lions.
We also see that the Hindu God Shiva is closely related to the lion.
We also see the lion in the Tibetan goddess Palden Lhamo. Palden Lhamo is a Tibetan form of an Indian goddess. Palden Lhamo is represented in a very wrathful aspect, ferocious, some would say demonic. But she is not demonic: Palden Lhamo is the protector of the Dharma; she is especially responsible for protecting the Dalai Lama. She appears wrathful because she embodies the force of the lion in order to conquer the ego, to conquer deception, but she is a form of compassion.
Also in Tibetan Buddhism is the lion-faced Sinhavaktra: the feminine, fierce dakini who overcomes obstacles.
You see the same aspects in the symbol of Durga from the Hindu pantheon. Durga is also a wrathful goddess. Durga rides a lion. She has in her hand a serpent. She battles against the demon. The demon transforms itself into a lion. So here we see a lion in its many aspects, Durga as that feminine, wrathful force of Maha Kundalini, Devi Kundalini with the serpent. She is empowered in us through the process of alchemy, through the process of transmutation. She is fed by our own sexual forces. It is only in this way with that energy that we transmute, that we transform, that we purify with her help.
She has the force of Kaph, persuasion, which is the force of the Divine Mother to conquer the ego, opposing Her is the demon who transforms himself into a lion in order to inflame our blood, in order to manipulate us through the motor-instinctual-sexual center, through the heart, through the mind.
There is a battle, a battle of forces, a battle of wills inside of us, in our own psyche. Battles are not fun. Battles are not easy. Battles are also not predictable.
To be a warrior, you have to go through a lot of training. You have to learn basic exercises. You have to train your body, your mind, and your heart. In the work to self-realize, you also pass through periods of training.
Studying this type of information is how you train yourself in the beginning. You are gathering the data, the knowledge of the structures. You also have to train yourself in practical terms. You have to perform the exercises. To be content with reading books, studying the theory, will leave one helpless on the battlefield if you have not performed the training exercises themselves. Those training exercises are learning how to control the consciousness, learning how to direct attention, learning how to pay attention, learning how to work with the mind.
The battlefield is your own mind. It is your own heart, it is your own life. It is not outside of you. The battlefield is inside. The enemy is your own self, but the false self. Your allies are your own self, but the real self. To know and to tell the difference requires a lot of practice.
In order to receive the forces of Kaph, through Neshamah, we have to learn how to meditate. This is the most important skill the warrior has to acquire. By meditation I am not referring to mere concentration. Concentration practice is like a basic exercise that a warrior will do, such as drilling with a weapon, swinging the sword over and over in certain positions, certain postures, using the spear in a certain way, over and over and over in order to learn how it feels in the hand, how to manage the weight of it, the balance of it. This is concentration practice. It is necessary. It is not meditation. It is not the battlefield itself.
Throughout all the exercises, the warrior has to be vigilant. Without vigilance, the battle is already lost. The vigilance of the warrior is the ability to control the attention from moment to moment, the ability to remain in a state of observation of oneself. This is a profoundly difficult thing to learn. The intellect says: "Oh yeah! I get that! Awareness, sure, I have heard that before. Mindfulness, right. Yeah, I know what that is: I can do that." That is not it. The force of mindfulness is the force of attention with the force of persuasion, with the force of the Arcanum 11. To be in a state of self-observation is to be that goddess who is gently closing the jaws of that lion with great attention and great serenity.
That is why the Buddha is the lion of the Shaka clan. The Buddha represents our own inner Buddha, our own Atman, our own inner self. The term Buddha means "Awakened One." To be awake means to be attentive, to pay attention, to be aware, to observe. This is not a thought, neither is it an attitude. It is a way of perceiving and it is an activity that has to be constantly managed.
In the beginning, the student who is training to become a warrior hears about mindfulness, about attention, about self-observation, and they learn certain exercises in order to control and direct attention. They feel and assume it is like an object and setting it down: "Here is my attention. Now, I know it is there," and then they forget about it. It is not that simple. When you place your attention, this is good: to consciously place attention, to consciously observe is the very beginning; but observation has to be continual. To be done once, to be placed, is only the beginning. We have to continually and constantly manage the presence of the consciousness. What you will notice is that if you accomplish that, you feel something. Something feels different. When you really become aware and pay attention, something feels different. In the beginning this can feel really uncomfortable, really different, strange. In fact it can start to feel very uncomfortable, and we want to go back to our dreaming life and abandon the observation. This is generally what we do. We maintain the observation for brief periods and then we forget. We return to our process of dreaming and thinking and fantasizing, and imagining and being lost.
Self-observation is the most important training the warrior undergoes. It is the basis of being effective in the battle. You can only meditate if you know how to self-observe. If you do not know how to observe yourself, you cannot meditate. Meditation is an extension of self-observation. It is the very same act, just deeper. Self-observation is the foundation of all work with the mind.
Durga (our inner, fierce Divine Mother Kundalini) uses a snake, a serpent, to battle the demon, who in turn forms himself into a lion. How does she kill him? How does she conquer him? She can only conquer our inner demon-lion when we see him, when we see him for what he is. Durga is riding a lion, battling a lion: if we do not see the distinction in ourselves between the positive forces and the negative forces within our own psyche, then how can we eliminate that which is impure? How can we change our behavior for the better if cannot tell the difference between what is good and what is bad?
This is particularly interesting when we realize in our own lives that we can hardly make a decision about where to go from one day to the next, about what to do from one day to the next, because we cannot tell what is right and what is wrong. If we lack that discrimination in such superficial things, how will we have the discrimination to tell the difference between very deep aspects of our psyche?
We need to develop discrimination. We develop it through self-observation, through meditation. When the consciousness is harnessed in this way, when we make the effort to be present, to observe, we feel something different. It can feel uncomfortable. We can feel awkward, exposed, like we do not feel like ourselves. This is good. This is important. We have to maintain our conscious attention, continue the effort, until we understand what the discomfort really is.
That pressure, that energy, we feel it inside. There is something that you feel in yourself that feels different. What is that? The pressure of the consciousness is the force of persuasion. Learning how to direct attention while remembering the Being, while remembering God, properly activates and utilizes that force. To observe oneself is critical; it is the basis. But if one does not remember the Being, he can fall into mistakes.
You see: in black magic, they also learn to observe. In black magic, you also learn to meditate, you learn to concentrate. You learn things about your mind and work on your psyche. How do you know the difference between black and white? Between working on yourself in the right way and working on yourself in the wrong way? Who can provide that? Obviously, your own Being is the only one. But your Being can only do that if you remember your Being from moment to moment. Self-observation is incomplete if we forget that we are a child of God. We have to be humble, and remember our Being.
This is what allows the force of our own inner divinity, our own inner Buddha, the lion, to influence us, to provide us with guidance, conscience, feelings, a sense about it. Even if we do not have a reason, we know. This is the force of Kaph which comes through the pineal gland, comes through the pituitary gland, comes through the Nous atom, comes through the spinal column, through the heart.
The deeper our self-observation becomes, the more profound our self-remembering becomes, the more influence the Being has to give us guidance.
The more we forget our Being, the more we are distracted, the more we fantasize and daydream, the less our Being can help us.
When we as a warrior train to learn self-observation, to learn self-remembering, to learn meditation, we are training the consciousness. We are training our own Essence in order to perceive properly, to perceive all phenomena, all impressions, inside and outside.
The Power of Persuasion
This is a great battle. In the process of doing so, the only way to gather more attention, more awareness is to steal it from the cages it is trapped within, which are the egos themselves. But conquering an ego is not done with violence. It is not done with being very forceful. For example, you may observe in yourself the tendency to become irritated with a certain person. If you forcibly suppress that, you only hide it from yourself: that's all! In the same way, if you notice an ego of lust that arises, and you pray and pray to be free of it, but you do not look deeply at that ego, you are only avoiding it.
The force of persuasion is the ability to look directly into the eyes of the hungry lion with absolute serenity and with the force of your own will, to close its mouth so it cannot feed on you anymore: because that is what is happening now. The ego is consuming our very soul. The ego - desire, lust, pride, anger, fear - has already consumed 97% of our Essence. That is why we are in such darkness; that is why humanity is suffering so much; that is why there is so much pain. But we cannot conquer the ego with ego. You cannot conquer violence with violence. The violence of the ego cannot be conquered with more violence. It is conquered with force, yes, but the force of Kaph, the force of persuasion, which is the force of serenity, the force of comprehension, of understanding. As Master Samael Aun Weor states beautifully:
Kindness is a more crushing force than anger.
It is absolutely true. We do not know that, because we do not know how to do it. When someone is angry with us, we respond with anger. When someone is violent with us, we respond with violence. We only know "an eye for an eye; a tooth for a tooth," and with this behavior, everyone is blinded, and maimed and wounded.
The master Jesus embodied the force of persuasion. He confronted violence with kindness, with love. The Buddha conquered violence with the force of persuasion. Krishna led battles but with a smile of sweetness.
This has to be understood in the context of our own psychological work. The ego is not conquered by suppression. When we see an ego of anger, of lust, of fear, we do not conquer it by being violent with it, by rejecting it, by being forceful, by suppressing. It may be necessary sometimes to be very strong with it, to restraint the mind, in order to keep it from doing too much damage to us, but to fully conquer the ego is done by comprehending it, by looking at it, by seeing all its details. You cannot do that if your heart is agitated, if your mind is agitated. This is a process of meditation and requires a lot of patience, a lot of persistence. It is not overnight. Comprehension comes gradually. The same way your grow a tree, comprehension is born in us.
Some students of varying mystical traditions wholeheartedly embrace the intention of walking the path and become very inspired, meditate a lot, teach, preach and write in a very strong and forceful manner. If we are not careful, we can take that influence but become fanatic. We can become very harmful to ourselves and to others because we are 97% trapped in the ego. We take those forces and invert them, making them harmful. That lion, which is the lion of Judah, the lion of the initiate, can get out of control and can build pride and vanity, which can of course in the end stifle what originally were good intentions.
To discriminate, we have to know how, to always question ourselves, to observe ourselves. We have to know how, to rely on the guidance of the Being, not on the guidance of our mind.
In the Egyptian mysteries there is a story. Mankind at one time was out of control, and was producing a great offence to the solar father Amun-Ra. So, Amun-Ra called together the primary gods, including Shu and Tefnut, and said: "Something has to be done. Humanity is out of control with their blasphemy." Shu and Tefnut recommend sending their daughter Hathor, because Hathor, well known as a cow goddess, is also a lion goddess, and is also represented with a circle with horns, and has a wrathful aspect known as "the eye of Ra." So they turned her loose on humanity, and she became like Durga, or Kali, and went on a rampage, killing all of mankind. After some time of this violence, punishment, Ra said it is time to end this.
In this story, we see how forces can be positive, negative, creative, destructive. Persuasion in different forms. What is important for us to realize is that we ourselves have an influence on how that energy is channeled by dint of our will. We have to comprehend that the forces which we receive and utilize carry with them a great responsibility. This story illustrates the subtleties of working with these forces, the dangers that exist in our own psyche.
How do we do it? There is another story which beautifully illustrates this. We know that the Buddha is called "the lion of the Shaka," but the teachings themselves, the Dharma, is known as "the lion's roar." But to study and understand the teaching of this lion, the roar of the lion, is only one part of the puzzle. We have to understand that, we have to learn and to hear the roar of the lion, which is our Innermost who is giving us the doctrine, the teaching through self-observation, self-remembering, and meditation. But there are subtleties, there are difficulties, in learning how to perceive what is within us.
One student of the initiate Milarepa came to him and said: "When I meditate on the ocean, my mind is very comfortable. When I meditate on the waves, my mind is troubled. Tell me how to meditate on the waves." We first have to understand what this means. When we meditate, when we are into real meditation, we understand that the mind itself is an ocean. The natural state of the mind is to be a perfect, reflective surface. The natural state of the mind is a state of perfect equanimity and serenity within which the universe is reflected. This is what is normal. But when impressions of life enter into us and we react with that animal nature (with pride, with fear, with envy), the waters are disturbed, the waters of our own mind become agitated. We experience this now because our mind is like a sea, very chaotic, very uncomfortable and we are sea-sick most of the time, disoriented, nauseous, confused. It takes practice and work to reach a state of being in balance, of being serene. Those waves of the ocean are produced by the ego, by the I. So the student was saying: "When I meditate on the absolute nature of mind, I have serenity," meaning the student could enter a state of Shamatha, or a state a Pratyahara, to have a serene mind. Yet, when the student tried to meditate on the impressions that come from the ego, the rolling mind itself, the reactions, the student is confused. The student is asking this question: "How do I meditate on the reactions that are produced in my heart, in my mind?"
Milarepa gave a beautiful answer. He said:
The waves are the movement of the ocean. Leave them to subside by themselves in its vastness. Thoughts are the play of pure awareness. They arise within it and dissolve back into it. To recognize pure awareness is where your thoughts come from, is to recognize that your thoughts have never come into existence, remained, or ceased. At that point, thoughts can no longer trouble your mind. When you ran after your thoughts, you were like a dog chasing a stick. Everytime a stick is thrown, you run after it. But if instead your look at where your thoughts are coming from, you will see that each thought arises and dissolves within the space of that awareness, without engendering other thoughts. Be like a lion, who - rather than chasing after the stick - turns to face the thrower. You can only throw a stick at a lion once.
Beautiful. This is the force of persuasion: to be like a lion, a lion of the Dharma. We become that lion of the Dharma when we close the jaws of our animal nature. When we do that, in actual fact, when we stop the ego in us from feeding itself, we receive a crown, the crown of Kaph, the crown of Kether, the crown of cosmic Christ, the crown of gold.
In the book of Revelation, it says:
To he who overcometh, I will give a crown of life.
Meaning: we have to overcome ourselves, we have to conquer the ego, we have to conquer our own subjective psyche. Again this is not done with mere intention, with taking a vow or with meaning well. It has to be done in facts. You have to test yourself. You have to observe yourself.
How do you know when an ego is dead? When the reactions it once produced no longer arise. That is how you know. If you still see in yourself pride, anger, lust, fear, self-esteem, self-hate, you still have ego. If you see in yourself anxiety, worry, distress, you still have ego. The force of persuasion is accompanied with serenity, with joy in the heart, which is spontaneous. It arises on its own. It is not artificial.
Q: You emphasize that forcing the mind will be no good and be harmful (...). To force your mind to be silent, say in your workplace, wherever you are, you can't meditate, why not say to it: mind be silent! I want to tell that to my mind right now.
A: The question is: can you tell the mind to be silent in a forceful way? Yes, you can. In fact we have those instruction in our tradition, to command the mind. This is good, and sometimes it is necessary, but it has to be understood in its right context. To forcefully command the mind is necessary from time to time. In the same way, when a child misbehaves, sometimes you have to be forceful, but to raise the child properly, you have to treat it with love. Right? You have to have the authority of a parent, but also the love of a parent. This is something that the consciousness is capable of. To be forceful in proper balance, in proper measure. Unfortunately though, some schools and some students adopt the approach of being forceful continually. This is tyranny. And that kind of tyranny can be applied against our own mind, but to do so is harmful. As an example, we state certain schools of meditation teach only that: to dominate, dominate, dominate the mind; forceful, forceful, forceful. This is harmful. It actually produces harm. To reach the state of serenity or mental equilibrium requires to let go, to relax, to rest, to be in a state of repose. Being forceful like that all the time is antithetical. Do you understand what I am saying?
Any other questions?
Q: [Can you get back to] the continuity of being silent. I work [at being silent] for a second, then it continues for 2 more minutes, then it continues for 5 minutes...
A: The question is about achieving silence. Continual silence. Again, we have to look at our point of view, our intention. Yes, we seek to achieve the silence of the mind, but understand: the silence of the mind is its natural state. If you leave the mind alone, it will settle. If you force the mind, meaning you are constantly pushing pressure against it, you disturb it. Do you grasp what I am saying? If you are constantly being forceful, then you are pushing against that and creating a reaction which is not going to allow the mind to settle at all.
Proper force is applied by maintaining continual attention.
Milarepa gave a beautiful explanation of how that works. Normally, we are looking at the thoughts and chasing them, and being forceful: "Hey, thought, you need to settle down! Another thought! You need to settle down!" - and so we are running around in our meditation: this is wrong. This is the wrong approach. The right approach is to stay in one place and turn and see where the thoughts came from, just observing, just watching. In that way there is force, but it is the force of controlling attention. It is not a force to stop something from happening. That is the proper approach to meditation.
In fact, it applies to self-observation, too. Through the day, during the day, at all times, we observe. Do not become forceful with your mind. Do not demand it. Demand instead of yourself to maintain awareness and to watch the thoughts that arise, and watch the feelings that arise, and watch the sensations that arise. That continual watchfulness is what allows the state of calm of the mind to be restored. The state of silence cannot be forced. It is impossible. The state of calm is already natural to your mind. It is restored when those forces of the egos and impressions stop hitting the mind in a violent way. But if you are violent in your approach, the violence in the mind will be sustained and chaos will always be there. Instead, use the force of persuasion to direct attention: be continually mindful and observant, remembering your Being. This is what pulls those solar forces into the psyche which provide a great deal of food and energy for the consciousness to keep doing it.
Q: When the lustful images [are] in our presence, instead of avoiding the image, once you've looked in the eyes of the lion and observe and remember ourselves and see what happens, what is or is not felt and thought?
A: I am not sure I understand the question. What is or is not felt...?
Q: Yes, if you confront it face to face, that lustful impression.
A: When you observe an impression you observe it. That simply it...
Q: ... the feelings, what is felt, ...
A: You observe your feelings and thoughts. That is the end of it. I am not sure I see where that question is going.
A: In all cases, in the face of any impression, you just observe it. That is all. You observe. You watch.
Now, if there is a strong impression, we have to be careful. Particularly if we notice that the mind in becoming identified. This is when we have to learn to control impressions. For example, it is not wise for beginning students to watch pornography, to look at very harmful imagery like violence, because the mind will become identified. You will create problems for yourself. This is like sending a child into the midst of a great battle. The child will be killed. Only a seasoned warrior can deal with a certain kind of impressions. You should not seek out harmful impressions: merely deal with what is before you. Let your Being bring you what you need, because He will. This is the job of our own trainer, part of our psyche which is already in us to give us what we need to work on. Do not seek it out. Let it come. Let life bring you what you need to work on, and you will get what you need.
I state it this way because there are certain traditions which seek out intense impressions and they do damage to themselves. It is very sad. They seek out intense impressions, purposefully. And unfortunately, they have the pride and arrogance to believe that they can transform those things, but what is actually happening is that they are doing harm to themselves. We should not follow that example. We should follow the example of the great masters: receive the impressions that are coming to you already. Transform those. Learn how to manage impressions. For example, if you find yourself facing an impression which is too intense, turn away. Do not go to places where you know you will have bad impressions. For example, if you have friends who engage in activities which are harmful to you or others, do not go. This is not suppression, this is intelligence. We have to be smart. Do not put yourself in a place where you will get hurt. It is simple.
Q: What if it is unavoidable, if it is not that simple...
A: If it unavoidable, then there is nothing you can do, right? You have to deal with it. But in most cases, it is avoidable. What we state it is unavoidable, is usually pride in interfering. Like for example, let us say you have to go to a family event. So your mind is saying, "You have to go! It's family!" No, you do not! Your pride says you have to, and your fear of your family rejecting you or criticizing you says you have to. That is ego. The only thing that should determine what you do and do not do is your consciousness, your Being, your intuition.
Q: You know my family...
A: Well, I do not know your family, but let me tell you: it is true. It many cases we have to stand up to these types of things and define ourselves and say no.
Q: I was wondering. It just popped in my head when you were talking about the lion posture. Is that related [...]. Why is that called the lion posture [...]?
A: Right, the lion posture is an ancient posture related to dream yoga and meditation. Yes, it is related to the dharma, to receiving those forces, related to Leo, related to the Buddha. That is simply it.
I should explain a little bit about the relationship between the letters Kaph and Beth. As you see they look very similar. Kaph has the form of a hand grasping, and if you just extend the base a little bit, we have the letter Beth. Of course, Beth is related to the Arcanum 2 which is "the house." Beth is related to the Divine Mother. In Beth, you will remember we were discussing duality, discussing the mother, and discussing the house, in other words the soul, the house of God, the soul we have to build. So Beth has those correspondences. Kaph is the force of the Divine Mother. Kaph is the force channelled through that house. This is the relationship. Kaph is the force of persuasion or the force of the Divine Mother, that divine feminine, which can be used to conquer the ego.
Q: Perhaps you can you explain the symbolism of the serpent or the snake which is shown with legs...
A: The serpent at the bottom of the card which appears in the cube, is an ancient Egyptian symbol. I have seen some different names for that serpent. In one case it was called Sito. I am not sure of the exact name. That ancient symbol in the Egyptian mysteries the serpent which encircles the world which we talked about in previous lectures.
Q: I was thinking like in terms of Genesis, the curse...
A: All right, the serpent at the beginning was said to have legs, right?, legs and arms, in Genesis? Yes, it is true. It means the same thing, the same symbol. It is that ancient serpent in the beginning related to the formation of things, which in its turn becomes negative, becomes tempting.
Q: What is the significance of legs or the absence of them?
A: I do not want to speculate about that. There are some contradictory symbols there I am not entirely sure about. The point of it is that in this graphic we see Horus standing on the back of the serpent. This is the symbol of the Christ conquering that serpent and controlling it, directing that serpent through will. That is what we have to do in order to perfect the stone which is the cube around it. The falcon is also carrying a flail. A flail is a tool that you use to harvest wheat. It is a long stick with some pieces that come up at the end. You use it to swing it to harvest wheat. Of course wheat is a symbol of the sexual seed, like rice and corn in other traditions. So the Christ uses the flail to harvest the seeds in the same way that Jesus talked about the sower, sowing seeds and harvesting... which is related to the thirteenth Arcanum which we will come to very soon. You see in the thirteenth Arcanum, the man harvesting the wheat, so it is related to that.
On the head of the woman on the card we see the symbol of the infinity, we see a serpent and we see a vulture or a bird. All of these indicate mastery and the incarnation of Kether, because you know the symbol of the infinite is on the first Arcanum, card number 1. So this card number 11 is obviously closely related to number 1 and 2.
Q: You said that it is very important to remember, when you are meditating it is very important to remember yourself. I do not know what that means in a practical way. Does it mean something in my memory back or does it mean to remember something that [...]
A: OK, very good. The question is about what does self-remembering mean in practical terms, especially in meditation. Self-remembering is simply the remembrance of yourself, your Being, to be aware that you are a child of your own Being. To remember that, to just remember that. To have that in your awareness in this moment. To realize what you are in terms of what is pure in you, what is genuine in you, comes from Him, comes from God, your Being, your source, your spark.
Q: When you say remember, does that mean that I knew it but I forgot it ... and I am looking for something that's... I do not know how to do that.
A: It simply means to be aware of it. It is sort of like an enquiry or a prayer. You are just opening yourself and trying to remain aware of that divinity. Right now we do not directly perceive it because we are in darkness, but with that application, being observant of oneself first, but also being aware that we are not alone, to reach out with one's heart, with one's awareness to try to perceive one's Being. That is simply all it is. To be in a state of self-remembering is to reach out with the heart in a continual prayer. To always be trying to feel the presence of God, in everything all around oneself and within oneself.
In a sense you can say that self-observation and self-remembering are a kind a dance that you do with your awareness. You are always observing external phenomena. You are always observing internal phenomena. In other words: states, inside; events, outside. But at the same time, wrapped around that, is the awareness that we come from God, that, I in myself, I have my own Inner Father, and in myself I have my own Inner Mother. And I do not feel them all the time, because I walked away from them, because I have entered into mistakes. But that continual observation, internal, external, and reaching out with one's heart to feel the presence of God, you do start to feel it.
Q: So you do not remember with your mind, you remember with ...
A: Right! The remembrance is not so much with the mind, although you can use the mind as a tool. The intellect that we have is a tool. The heart, the emotional center is also a tool, just the same way the body is. You can generate remembrance of God by using those three brains. But the actual remembrance is conscious.
I can give you an example. Japa is a Sanskrit word which refers to the practice of using Mala beads. In catholicism you have the same tradition, in Buddhism you have the same tradition. Practitioners take a string of beads like this one and hold it in their hands; there are different ways of holding it. You use the physical body, the motor-instinct-sexual brain, to hold the beads and you say a mantra with your heart and mind. And the mantra is to pray and remember God. You say the mantra and your turn one bead. You say the mantra and you turn a bead; you say the mantra... Of course now you watch practitioners of this doing it very fast, trying to as many mantras as they can as quickly as they can. This is not the way to practice this. The way to practice this is to develop profound attention and remembrance of God, or awareness of God. This is how you integrate the three brains. This is an exercise. It is a practice to develop continuity of awareness and that's it. In some people, at their own stage of work, this is their religion, to do this type of practice, Japa, to just be doing the mantra in all things and all times, walking with their beads doing the mantra; and it is fine; it is good for them. But it has to be abandoned. This is like the exercises you do in kindergarten when you are practicing your letters. Eventually you have to start writing words, writing sentences, writing books. You do not with Japa. You do that with continual self-observation and self-remembering, which is done in all things, in all times, without the artifice of the beads. It is done as continuous effort in oneself.Does that make sense?
Q: Yes. Can you [...] what you just explained, isolate (???) the will, I always get that confused as is that a decision I make, is that an action (???), what is the will within that
A: What is will within that?
Q: within the self-observation and remembering...
A: In this sense Will is how you direct your energy. It is simply that. Will means choosing the direction for one's action.
Q: So it is a decision.
A: It is a decision, yes, but it is not limited to the intellect. We tend to think of a decision as a thought process, where we say: "There is this, and there is that, and then I'll do that!" It is not as simple as that. Will is pure action, or the direction of action. You do things by Will without thought. For example, someone makes you really angry and you hit them without thinking. There is will there, will to hurt, a will to violence.
So, will is how the consciousness is directed. That is why it is so important. Will, in us, is 97% trapped in ego, which means the majority of our energies have the inclination to behave in the wrong way, have been focused in that way already. We have 3% left; more or less 3%. So, that is David and Goliath. David is that small force, that 3%. But, if David in us, our consciousness, our essence, remembers God, he has a big advantage. He then has the capacity to overcome Goliath, if he remembers God. But if he does not, ego will consume him. So that is the battle we face in ourselves. We have to train David.
A: Great question. How do we make that will not a function of the ego, to free it from the ego? By discrimination. This is a process that we have to pass through, learning about ourselves. From moment to moment we are processing energy. That is we are a transformer of forces, the forces of Kaph. As those energies are processing through us, we have our psyche which receives it; we have our nervous systems which transform it; we have our chakras; we have our bodies; we have the three brains: all of this is related with how those forces are used. Normally, or abnormally we would say, all those forces are being utilized by the ego, directing those energies to feed our pride, to support our pride, to feed our anger, to support our anger, to feed our lust... That is the lion itself. The lion is that will of the animal nature. When we meditate, when we observe ourselves, we have to separate from that. It is extremely important to understand what that means. To observe properly, to remember oneself in the right way, we have to distinguish between the will or desire of the ego, and the will or intention of the consciousness. Will, in its pure form, is consciousness itself. But when it is entered into us, in our psyche, and it is trapped in the ego, it is desire. And that desire is always related to sensation, sensation physically, emotionally, and in the mind. So when we meditate, we observe all phenomena and the basis of the observation is to learn how is will functioning in me right now. And you will see: "Well, I have this desire to get up because my legs hurt!" or "I have this desire to watch TV because my show is coming on!" That is will, trapped in ego, trapped in desire. Does that make sense?
Q: Yes, but it is confusing when the ego says "I want to be a better person" but [...] that can be will and that is when it gets harder.
A: Sure. It gets very difficult to distinguish between the different forms of will.
Q: The TV part is easy when it says "I want to meditate" but it is not, I mean it is not void of ego.
A: The answer to this question is only resolved when you have completed the work of self-realization. That work to self-realize is to unify all of the aspects of the Being into one, in various stages. In the beginning, you have a lot of consciousness trapped in the ego. So we have many discursive wills. We have wills of pride which are opposed to other wills of pride, that are opposed to the will of the Being. Many different contradictory wills or desires in other words. So the first stage: kill egos. Extract all the consciousness from all those egos. That is only the first part, because then you become free of the ego but you still have a being of many parts which have to be integrated into one will. So the work with will, the work with consciousness is a long road. That is why we say: "Thelema", willpower, the power of the will. But it is the power of the Being to conquer. And that is the magician, Arcanum 1.