Continuing our lectures about the process of death and dying, it is good for us to understand—as we have mentioned—that death is inevitable. To be a serious practitioner of any kind of spirituality, we need to be mindful of death, constantly aware of the inevitability yet uncertainty of the manner and time of our death.
Our ego keeps us distracted from this fact by using a powerful tool: the assumption that we won’t die or that we still have a lot of time left. This is a significant tool that our ego uses in order to deceive us, and this is why we waste so much time doing stupid, foolish things, such as being engaged in activities and behaviors that are really completely pointless from the spiritual point of view. If we had real cognizance of our own approaching death, we would not waste our time or energy.
Cognizance of our approaching death is critical to having a successful spiritual practice while we are alive, and to having a successful death. Continual awareness of our approaching death gives us the opportunity for our death to not become a gateway to more suffering or a continuation of our ignorance, but instead for our death to be a gateway towards a better life. It is the cognizance of death that we cultivate now that will make the difference. Our moment to moment use of time and energy determines our approach to death. If we are cognizant that death is inevitable, it is as if we are aware of a clock ticking down, we are aware of the sands of the hourglass running out, so that when the moment comes when the last grain of sand, the last click of the clock happens, we will be aware of it, not surprised, but watchful and able to transform that moment into something useful. This is what we need.
“…since it is essential that all the advantages that accrue from practicing the teachings should converge at the time of death, it is extremely important to become skilled during one’s lifetime in the process of dying.” – Padmasambhava, from Natural Liberation through Recollection
This is true no matter what our spiritual goals, our spiritual practice or tradition, no matter what level we are working in. An absolute beginner in spiritual work that has cognizance of death will take a better rebirth than a so-called advanced practitioner who passes through death in a state of ignorance. This means that no matter what level we are working in now, no matter how advanced we feel we are, it is our cognizance of death that makes the difference. We need to prepare for death, and for that reason we need to understand life.
To understand how we will die, we need to understand how we are living. At this moment, we do not know how we are living. If we knew how we were living, we would not live the way we are. We are asleep, and do not suspect the truth. Worse, most of us do not want to know the truth.
We Are What We Eat
This human organism—the physical body—is incredibly complicated and has infinite potential. We only use a very small fraction of the potential of the body, and nothing of what it is capable of. I know that we think we are very advanced and super-civilized, and believe that we have conquered the universe, but the reality is that we do not understand even the most basic functions of our physical bodies, and have not even the slightest notion of the potential within the body. The vast majority of people—including most spiritual practitioners—cannot explain the most basic functions of the physical body that they carry around with them everyday. They do not understand the function of the heart, the lungs, the gall bladder, the liver, the adrenal glands, the pituitary gland, the pineal gland. They have barely heard the names, they could not identify them, they could not tell you how they work or what they are for. Obviously, they also have no idea how each is related to our spiritual potential. All of this is to the shame of humanity.
To succeed spiritually, we need to understand the function of the body and how it works. The fact that we do not know is illustrated by how sick we make it, how rapidly we destroy it, and how unhealthy it is. The evidence is everywhere in our lives, in our bodies, in our society. But if we learn about it, if we study it, if we use it well, the physical body can become an incredible tool not only to live life well, but to use life as a springboard for spiritual development. Everything we need is in the body—all of the elements, all of the raw materials are not outside of us, they are inside the body.
The physical body is the very energetic source that can create a Buddha, an angel, a Master; the body that has all of that. Jesus became Jesus because of his physical body. He needed that body. Without it, he could not have accomplished his mission. The Buddha became the Buddha because of his physical body and how he used it. Without those physical bodies, such masters could not have done their work and accomplished what they accomplished. The same is true for us who aspire to follow their examples. We also need our physical bodies to become fit vessels for spiritual work.
The physical body is very important, but unfortunately nowadays we think that it is only a tool for pleasure, thus everyday we fill it with garbage, not only physically but emotionally, mentally, and spirituality. All of us are constantly filling the body with impurity. We really, truly are what we eat, because we take in so much garbage through our senses from television, movies, books, the internet, what we look at in the street, the music we listen to, the air we breathe, the cigarettes we smoke, the alcohol we consume, the drugs, the bad talk, the bad language—all of that is received in the body and becomes your body. If you want to know why your body is weak, sick, or decaying, look at what you have been putting into it through the mouth, eyes, ears, skin, etc. This is cause number one of illness and death.
The Body as a Universe
The body is a very sophisticated, interdependent, interconnected series of systems that is extremely complex; it is a universe in miniature. The physical body supports other life forms not only physically but internally. This why in Tantra the body is understood to be a mandala, a vast and beautifully complicated series of patterns of interconnectivity and interdependence. We have life because of the life we provide to others. It is stated in Tantra that if one kills ones own body, then one kills myriads of entities, organisms, entities, devas which symbolically are called dakas and dakini, and which certain Masters call “atoms.” For us who are poisoning the body, killing the body, using the body just as a source of pleasure, we are committing a crime against all of those cosmic, atomic intelligences that give life to the body, all of the organisms in the body. All of the elemental forces that are working within to give us life are our responsibility. This is why the body in Tantra is treated as a universe, a mandala. It needs to be respect and cared for.
The Kalachakra Mandala, which can represent ourselves
The body as a universe or as a cosmic system is the responsibility of the one who is caring for it, which is us. In that way we can see that we are a kind of god over all the atomic intelligences in the body. If you have developed some clairvoyance or some skill in meditation you can investigate your organs, your cells, your hormones and you will see that the atomic workers, the elemental forces that are working in your organs, will treat you like a god, because to them you are, even though we are just at the animal level. To a mineral intelligence, we are gods, but foolish gods.
The Abuse of the Body
This marvelous organism of the body—as incredibly beautiful and sophisticated as it is—is also very vulnerable, very delicate. With our lifestyles we pound on it very hard; we are very hard on the body, demanding of it much that is our of balance. We force it to try and digest all kinds of horrible chemicals and foreign substances in our food, air and water—including many synthetic substances that should not be consumed, but we consume them. We also over-exert the body in thousands of other ways, subjecting it to incredible bombardments of energy and various poisons, that we totally ignore. We have no idea of the pollutions—chemical, electrical, nuclear, and otherwise—that pervade our cities, towns, homes, waterways, etc. Furthermore, we are daily ingesting chemicals and medicines whose effects are barely perceived or ignored, whose consequences no one suspects. Finally, we have no idea how damaging anger, lust, envy, and other negative motions are to the body. Explosions of lust and anger destroy the body. Stress destroys the body. There are just too many examples of how we are killing ourselves.
If we could see clairvoyantly how much damage our bad behaviors are doing to our physical and internal bodies, we would be astonished. Our clairvoyance would not reveal a beautiful, perfect structure within us organically, chemically, or psychologically; instead we would see rampant disease, not only on the physical level, but on the internal level. We would see whole series of serious illnesses, problems, and decay. We would see organs, cells, and processes that are not functioning as they should, but with great impediments.
Throughout all these systems and cycles within us, there is an incredibly delicate balance, an incredible vulnerability, and yet we persist in putting into the body elements that completely disrupt its normal functioning. A very simple example is alcohol, which we have stated is 100% poison to the body. On the physical level, this is already well documented; alcohol kills the brain and liver. On the physical level, alcohol kills cells, it destroys them. But on psychological levels, on more subtle levels the damage is even more extensive. As much as we damage the liver physically, we damage its vital aspect in the fourth dimension; we damage its fifth dimensional aspect in the astral and mental bodies. Thus, on every level, the organism is harmed. This type of damage is also caused by cigarettes, and any kind of drug; it is true of genetically modified food sources, canned food, “preserved” or altered foods like boxed food or chemically treated food, and so-called “fast food.” All these so-called “foods” have no vital substance or solar energy, and instead are dense with chemicals and dead substances that are factory produced (not made by nature), and are heavily modified elements that look like food but that actually have no sustenance. These elements damage the physical body and the internal bodies. This originates illnesses, weakness, and psychological and spiritual problems.
As dire as this is, this is all secondary to the most important damages that we do to our very vulnerable system. The most important damages, the most damaging impact that we have, is caused by our psychological misuse and abuse of the body. Our mistaken psychological situation is killing us much faster than our food sources, pollution, etc.
Nonetheless, the physical body is an incredible vehicle that is able to withstand all of this abuse, and it continues to serve us faithfully as best it can, because as I mentioned, it is powered by all of those atomic intelligences (the daka and dakini), those intelligences that manage from the atomic level, to the cellular level, to the organ level and manages all the systems of the body; they are doing their best to serve us, to aid us, to give us a chance to grow and advance in our spiritual process.
Unfortunately, this body is extremely delicate, very vulnerable, and easy to kill. We do not have to provide you with all the potential sources of death that exist in the physical realm; they are too numerous and too obvious. We all know about the many ways we can die, but honestly, throughout our entire history, it has never been easier to die, especially in large numbers. The threat of death is greater than it has ever been, not merely from pollution, chemical spills, radiation that is saturating the planet from more than sixty years of atomic explosions (most of which have been done in secret but still pollute the planet) but also from the threat of war that is so prevalent on this planet nowadays. We in the West are very ignorant of what most people on the planet are going through on a daily basis. Even here in the so-called “first world,” we are very vulnerable to massive destruction at any moment. We are vulnerable. Everyone is.
The Blood and the Breath
There are many forces at work around us and inside of us. The threat of death is all around and inside, but nonetheless the body keeps working, striving to serve us, to give us a chance to improve ourselves, but the body has a limit. Every cosmic organism is born, sustains according to the laws that manage it, and then must die, according to the law. This is the cycle for every existing thing, and our body is no exception. In every cosmic organism, in every level, from the smallest to the largest, the structures can appear different, but the laws are the same.
Every organism has a heart. The heart is the source of life in everything. Even a solar system, a galaxy, an infinite, has a heart. It does not look like our physical heart. The physical component works differently, but the law is the same.
Our physical heart is a muscle the size of a fist that is constantly in motion, working in complete interdependence with the lungs, with the breath. Blood and breath intertwined, intermixed, allow us to be here and now. This constant movement, flux and motion, diastole and systole, the beating of the heart and the flow of the breath, is something that we completely ignore, but it is the basis of life. All religions talk about the sacred nature of breath, especially Islam: Allah hu.
The breath is sacred. We talk about the most elevated aspect of God as “the great breath.” We talk about the emergence of a cosmic day as a great exhalation, and the beginning of a great cosmic night as a great inhalation, when God inhales everything, and everything enters into repose. The sacred nature of breath pervades every religion, but breath cannot perform its function without the beating of a heart. It is the motion of heart and lung together that produces life. Thus, it is the stopping of the heart and breath that produces death.
It is very curious and amazing that every heart—whether in an insect or in a human being or in a planet—has the same number of beats, but just on a different time scale. Every heart beats for two billion, four hundred beats (2,400,000,000). That is the maximum number of heartbeats for any organism: two billion four hundred million. This number is symbolic. It is not literal, it is symbolic. If you study the Arcanum Twenty-four, you will understand why.
The Arcanum Twenty-four of the Tarot is the Divine Mother, the Weaver, the Goddess at the loom of God who weaves the soul, who weaves creation, who creates the marvelous tapestry of life. This number is deeply significant.
2,400,000,000 represents the lifespan of every living thing. An insect has a heart that beats two billion four hundred billion times, all in a matter of a few hours. To us, it seems that the insect lives briefly. But from the point of view of the insect, it lives a full life. It has the same point of view of its life that we do, but the insect lives at a different dimensional level, a relative level of existence.
Time does not work the same for all beings. Time is relative; Einstein proved this. Time has scales. Time is a curve, not a fixed, rigid rhythm, quantity, or measure. We experience time according to our perception, relative to our position in space-time.
Furthermore, a planet has a heart that beats the same number of times, but on a much bigger scale. Seen from our relative position, what we call time, the planet appears to live for a long time, but from the point of view of the planet, the lifespan is the same as our experience. A planet experiences its lifespan in the same way we experience ours.
Every organism has a defined potential lifespan, but it is not a fixed number, it is not predetermined and set in stone. It is like everything else in nature: our lifespan is subject to laws, subject to modification. In other words, a superior law will override it. That means that if we abuse the body, we will die before we reach our full potential: this number of heart beats. If we kill the body, obviously it cannot survive and reach that number.
On the other hand if we care for it, if we know the science, the real science to extending life, that number becomes completely irrelevant. A great master can live for millions of years with the same body because they know how. There are many cases of this. In every tradition there are examples of those who live for what we would call “forever.” They are living on another scale.
The Three Brains
The beginning of learning how to extend life is in learning about our psychology, how we use energy, how we use the heart, and that begins in learning about our three brains. That’s right: three brains.
We are not talking about just the physical brain in the cranium. That is one brain, the brain of the intellect. The physical brain in the cranium is a mass of physical matter that acts as a vehicle for the mind. The mind itself is not the brain; the brain is just a tool that the mind uses.
Likewise we have a heart, which is our emotional brain; the vehicle that our emotional brain uses is the heart. The physical heart is just a pump, physically, but it is also in relation with this area in the mid chest where we process emotions, feelings. Our physical heart is the center of our emotional brain.
The third brain has a several components, but it is basically in the spinal column. The motor center, the instinctive center, and the sexual center are in conjunction what we call the third brain, the motor/instinctive/sexual brain or brain of action; it is basically the body itself. The spinal column and the root of the physical brain in the cranium are related with that brain.
These three brains are the primary machines that we use to manage our physical body, and thus through these three brains flows a lot of energy. Thus, the outcome of our life is determined by how we use the three brains. In other words, how do we use thinking? How do we use feeling? How do we use the body? How we use them determines our life and our death.
As we have explained previously in different lectures, we basically use the three brains in the same way that an animal uses its body. We allow whatever thoughts, we allow whatever emotions, and we allow whatever impulses happen to arrive. In other words we do not discriminate. Whatever pleasures appear, we chase it. Whatever indulgences attract us, we indulge in it. Whatever we envy, we pursue. We never calculate how much energy we expend. We are never aware of what this does to our heart rate, to our pulse.
Have you ever observed how you live your life, what you are pursuing and why and what it does to your heart? Have you observed and monitored, really looked closely at how a goal appears before your eye, how you pursue it, how you want it, and what that does to your heart? That position that you long for, the fame, the recognition, the profit, have you noticed what has happened to your heart when that thought comes into your mind of the profit that you could make on that deal, on that business, of what happens when you wear that dress thinking, “those girls are going to be so envious of me,” have you noticed what that does to your heart? When you have that thought, “when I go and tell my friends about this and that thing that I did they are going to be so jealous, so envious,” have you noticed what happens to your heart? Or when you try and get that attention of that girl or boy, when you want them to notice you, to lust after you, to want you, what happens in your heart? None of us know, because we do not pay attention, but I will tell you: all of these desires make your heart rate go up dramatically. Your heart beats faster. You use up your heartbeats. You shorten your lifespan.
What happens when you indulge into lust, when you become an animal filled with frenzied desire, when your three brains are under the complete control of lust, what happens to your heart?
What about when anger takes over your psychological house: in your every thought, in your every feeling, in your every impulse driven by that anger, by frustration, by the desire for revenge, what is your heart doing?
What about when you are afraid of loosing your job? When you are afraid of not having money, that you will be ashamed, that people will look down on you, that your family will reject you, be disappointed, what happens to your heart?
When desire, lust, fear, anger, pride, envy, gluttony, greed, etc afflict us, the heart is not calm, it is not relaxed, it is not beating slowly, measured, and at peace, but it is beating like an animal, with passion, with instinct, with desire, craving and aversion driven by ignorance.
Stress, anxiety and desire all accelerate the heart. The way we live life now is decreasing our life span. I know that everyone has had a lifetime of hearing that science has lengthened our lifespan, that we are supposed to be living longer now, but I am not talking about physical life. I am talking about spiritual life. How long is our spiritual life? How rich is our spiritual life?
We live and die in thirds. We live and die according to our use of the three brains, according to the use of the energy within us. As we have explained in many lectures previously, the current of our mind-heart has been evolving through many bodies: life and death, life and death, again and again and again. We are born, we live awhile, and we die. That is a great cosmic stream of karma: cause and effect. Throughout our many lives, many causes have been put in motion, and there are many effects that have been played out, all of which are energetic. Thus, when we are born into this life, not only do we carry that karmic stream that is our mind, but we carry its relative energy. This means that all of us are born with a quantity of energy available for us to use. It is not one energy, but it is various kinds of energy that give us life.
Take a look at everyone you know: everyone has a different energy, a different amount, a different type, with different qualities. Some people have very little, they are weak; some people have a lot, some have more in the mind, can be very quick in the mind, they might not even be what we call intelligent, but they can be very quick minded. Some have very rich emotional energy, they are very intuitive, they are able to communicate with others on an emotional level, to understand things on an emotional level, they are empathetic. Others have a lot of physical energy; they may not be great athletes, but they have a lot of vitality. In other words, we have energy related to the three brains, energy that is inherited due to our karmic stream.
These energetic values are a karmic inheritance that we have been cultivating for life times. Gurdjieff called these energetic values bobbin kandelnosts. This is a name for energetic values we have in our three brains.
We have a specific quantity of energy in our three brains in this life. The amount in each brain is different for everyone according to the cause and effect (karma) of our previous actions. We change this according to how we live in each moment: how we use our mind, how we use our heart, how we use our body. We change our energy.
The Psychological Limp
If we are a person who is naturally athletic and we also have a lot envy, lust, or desire, it will seek to feed itself through our relationship with our body. We might be the kind of person who uses our physical body as our primary expression in the world. We might be an athlete, a dancer, a construction worker, a yoga person, a runner, or whatever, and our every activity is centered around the body; fitness, health, building things, moving from here to there, being strong, active, but we also pretty much ignore the use of the mind and the use of the heart. A life spent that way will deplete the energy of the motor/instinctive/sexual brain. In fact, they will use their intellect and heart only to divert more energy through the motor/instinctive/sexual brain, thus depleting themselves completely, even everyday. A person like that will be more prone to sickness and death through that brain. This includes someone who is very lustful, such as prostitutes or people who are addicted to pornography, or in general people who deplete all their energy through the abuse of sexuality. They will be prone to illness and death in the third brain.
The same occurs with those who are identified with the intellect or the emotional brain.
Let us understand something. Taking as an exception a sudden death, such as being hit by a bus, hit by lightening, or being shot, we take this out of the equation, if we just look at the karmic approach of a gradual death, we will die according to our three brains, we will die according to our karma. That is just not from one but it is from many. It is an accumulation of cause and effect that we have built and that we in our ignorance perpetuate.
We may be very attracted to acting or music and we may be very talented in acting or in music, but without self-knowledge about the three brains, we can exhaust the emotional brain. We can be a musician who only travels and plays music, who plays in a band, or we may be an actor, on stage every day four five times a week and the rest of the time we are watching movies, watching plays, constantly working the emotional brain, not using the intellect or using the body. The musician is playing music all the time, composing all the time, or listening all the time and that’s it; otherwise they eat or sleep. In modern times we think this is the role of the artist, to live and breathe their work, but this is wrong, because we have lost touch with real psychology.
Likewise with an intellectual; computer programmers, analysts, writers, people who manage data, there are many ways we use the intellect in our work to organize people or things. There are many ways we overuse the intellect. If that is all we do, all day long at work and all night we just read, theorize, analyze, compare, investigate, always using the mind, the intellect all the time, then the body becomes weak, the emotions become completely dead and the person becomes cold like a robot. That person is depleting all of their energy through the intellect.
What happens is each of these three brains functions at a given velocity, and because of that velocity and the way it functions, each brain needs a specific kind of energy. Every day, we only have a certain amount of energy for each brain (and this is different in each of us). Our physical body and vital body charge up over night and in the morning we wake up with a certain amount of energy for all three brains. So we go to work and within an hour or two we have used up all the energy for the intellect, our brain is getting tired so our old bad habit begins and we start to steal energy from the other centers, from the heart, from the body, from sex. In other words, the intellect starts to use the energy from the other brains. Or if we are using our emotional center at work, then we are using all the energy of the intellect and the body through the emotional center. Those energies are not right for that brain, they destroy it.
It is as if in your car if you started pouring motor oil into the gasoline tank or vice versa. It might run, but it is not going to run well, and we are going to have all kinds of problems.
Because of our depletion of the energy of the three brains, we will be tired, cranky, grumpy, depressed. We will try to get energy by consuming a lot of caffeine, or drinking, or drugs, or other stimulants. Some will try exercise, supplements, vitamins, raw food, etc. all to “get energy.” For such people, their sleep is bad, and there are a lot of health problems that will emerge.
We all do this. All of us have psychological tendencies to use one brain rather than the others. We all have it. I call it a psychological limp. We favor one brain because of an old psychological tendency. Perhaps someone in the past praised us, “you are so smart,” then we think “I am very intellectual, I better rely on that.” Or someone says “you are so athletic” and we get praised for being an athlete, so we push our motor brain for our whole life. Our parents push us to be an actor or a doctor or a lawyer, so we abuse our three brains, never realizing how we are destroying ourselves.
This abuse creates an enormous disharmony and it happens in the atmosphere of incredible stress; physical stress, emotional stress, mental stress, thus all the organs suffer, the physical brain suffers, the heart suffers, the nervous system suffers. We are using energies in the wrong places for the wrong things.
Observe yourself; this is the first step to fixing these problems. This is hard; it takes years to figure out how you abuse your three brains. No one can come and tell you that your chief feature is pride and you are using your intellect too much. No one can tell you that, only you can observe it in yourself and find out how you misuse your three brains, how you misuse your energy, what your habits are. We all abuse our three brains in different ways, in very complicated ways, and subtle. The solution is not going to appear like magic. You are going to have to dig inside of yourself to find it, because you do not want to see it, none of us do.
If we can learn about how our three brains are functioning, how we are using energy, we can bring them into balance. By bringing them into balance we can start to change. This is really important, because as we are proceeding now, we are killing ourselves, slowly or quickly according to our actions. All of us are killing ourselves.
The Origins of Illness
Each of the three brains connects to our inner psychology: the protoplasmic bodies.
The motor/instinctive/sexual brain is primarily related with our spinal column and our three nervous systems, and thus is related with the physical body, but it is also related with the vital body, the body of energy / chi. This is why all religions traditionally demanded that all of those who were serious about learning the true doctrine of religion had to restrain their sexual energy and learn to transform it.
The sexual energy is primarily rooted not in the physical body but in the vital body, what we call inKabbalah Yesod, which means “the foundation.” The sexual energy is the foundation of life on every level of the universe. To develop spiritually, the sexual energy has to be restrained and modified. It is the energy of the motor/instinctive/brain, which connects to the vital body, the fourth dimension. It is not easily visible physically. Acupuncturists work with that energy at a certain level. If you learn pranayama, Tai chi, chi gung, or ne gung, you work with that energy according to your capacity. If you learn Tantra, transmutation, you work with that energy at your level.
The person who is depleting the motor instinctive sexual brain is thereby affecting their vital body. This is why we see that those who abuse sex suffer because of the abuse of the vital body. No one has not cured AIDS, cancer, or even the sexual type of herpes, because they are not illness that originate in the physical body. What is seen physically are symptoms of the real disease, which is in the vital body (fourth dimension). For example, the cells of cancer that are out of control in the physical body are out of control because the vital aspect of those cells is diseased. Scientists are completely ignoring the fourth dimensional aspect of the body, even though quantum physics tells them they should look at the vital aspect, the quanta, the energy. Cancer is a disease that emerges because of sexual abuse and disequilibrium in the vital body. AIDS is a disorder in the vital body. Therefore we need to understand how to use the sexual energy, how to use it wisely.
The emotional brain, which is related with our physical heart, connects us with our astral body, which is in the fifth dimension. In Kabbalah we call it Hod. Those who abuse their heart, who abuse their emotion, who are too identified with feelings, create disequilibrium and illness in their astral body. There are many examples of the results of this abuse: heart disease, heart attacks, all kinds of illnesses in this area of the chest, even issues with the lungs, with the circulatory system, with the thymus gland. These can all be issues related with the misuse and abuse of emotion, and thereby the astral body.
A clairvoyant who observes the astral body of any common person will see a lot of disease, illness, sickness. Our internal bodies are not beautiful angels, they are sick; sick with disease because of our psychology.
The intellectual brain, the physical brain, is the third dimensional tool that our mental body uses. The mental body is the body of thought that is in the fifth dimension. It is a body just like the physical one, but it doesn’t look like the physical one; it is a body of matter but fifth dimensional not physical. It has different properties, it is more ductile, more flexible and can fly, it can pass through walls and it can change shape and size. That is why you dream that you have different forms. Sometimes you dream that you are a reindeer; that is your mental body. Sometimes you dream that you are the opposite sex, or you dream that you are your boss and you are killing yourself because you hate yourself because you hate your boss. These dreams, all dreams, are the psychological manifestations of the contents of your mental body and your astral body. The mental body is sick, diseased, ill, very unstable, not well.
This is easy to observe when we just see what this humanity is creating. Everything that we make is a reflection of our mind. What are we creating on this planet? Heaven or hell? What is reflected in our art? Harmony, beauty? Or discord, chaos, and violence?
Every form of art that is popular nowadays is a reflection of violence, even music. The music now is violent, it lacks basic harmony, it lacks beauty. Instead it communicates anger, pride, lust, addiction, domination, competition. It does not celebrate beauty of spiritual virtues or even of nature; instead, it celebrates attachment, desire, and the decay of virtue. All of our art celebrates killing, dominating, betraying, stealing, feeding desire.
In fact if you observe closely, you will see that much of what we call our modern art forms—music, movies, novels, comics, games, and television—are really the antithesis, the opposite, of real art.
A simple example can be seen in religion. In gnosis, we take the ancient point of view that all forms of knowledge are one; that is: art, religion, philosophy, and science are really are one. This means that every religion has an art, it reflects art. In ancient times this was well understood. Nowadays, society wants to keep them separate.
Ancient mantras (sacred words) are a form of music. They should be sung, they should be beautiful, they should inspire the heart and fill the heart with hope, with light, with love. In ancient times, mantras (prayers) were chanted with harmony, beauty, rhythm, to inspire the heart, to inspire the mind, to inspire the soul to look upwards. We all know that and anyone who is interested in spirituality longs for that, a return of that, those ancient symphonies of mantra and vibration that bring the eyes to look upwards, which put the consciousness, the attention towards heaven, by elevating the heart, by inspiring the heart to rise. That is their purpose and function.
Nowadays, we have the antithesis of mantra or spiritual music, which is rhythmic tones chanted in a violent way to bring our attention down, to pull our heart down with anger, with lust and pride, to attachment to money. What is the opposite of mantra? Rap, rock, pop, all modern music. All modern music is a product of the level of consciousness of its creator. Those who are making the music want fame, money, sex, to be envied, admired. They are no celebrating humility, divinity, chastity, sanctity, or any virtue. Thus, what they are creating is the opposite of true spiritual music. If you listen consciously, you can hear how those tones and melodies, all those rhythms that everyone is playing now and are completely hypnotized by, are the opposite of real spiritual music, mantra. The kids go round chanting, chanting and chanting and chanting and chanting and the words are anger, violence, lust and attachment to money, to power, dominating others, to lust. These are the main ingredients; envy, lust, and anger. The music conveys discord, disharmony, hypnotism, identification. Collective mind. Animal desires.
This is just one example of how music / art fill the three brains with energy, and bring us down, and we are all just going along, enjoying the ride, not having any awareness of where it is taking us. We die according to that. We die according to our use of energy.
Abuse of the Three Brains, and Disease
The intellectual who is abusing the intellect and thereby abusing their mental body eventually will sever the connection, the balance of the intellect, the mental body, and thus they can go crazy, they can get Alzheimer’s, dementia, or schizophrenia. They can just be like most us: completely insane, but think they are normal.
The person who is abusing their emotional body through their emotional brain will create a great disequilibrium in their astral body. They can awaken powers, they can become clairvoyant, they can astral travel and get out of the body easily, but they are crazy. They think they are normal, they think they are sane, but they also think they are a master, that they are very spiritually elevated and supreme, and above all the rest of us. The reality is that they are sick; their emotional body is disarranged and diseased. Many such persons are followed by naive, foolish people.
The same happens with the vital body. Through abuse of our vital energy we can create vital disharmony, severing the proper connection to the physical body and have all kinds of problems because of it; all kinds of problems, sicknesses, both physical and energetic.
So, when we talking about psychology, we are not talking about simple behaviors, or traumas with our parents, or things like that, but we are talking about our moment to moment behavior; how we use energy and the consequences of how we use energy. This is really important because it ties into our use of the body.
The Importance of the Spine
This image is from an ancient Tantric medical treatise, and it illustrates the position of the spinal column in the body. The spinal column is the center of our temple, it is what holds us up, it is a conduit of energy, not just physically but spiritually. If you have studied the kundalini then you know the importance of the spinal column.
All of the energies of our three brains depend on our spine. Obviously, our physical brain is the superior aspect of the central nervous system, but the heart and the motor/ instinctive/sexual centers also relate with the nervous systems. They are fed, nourished by and managed by the nervous systems. They can’t be separated. All three of our nervous systems (central, sympathetic, and parasympathetic) are brought together in the spine.
All of our physical vitality and well-being depends on the spine. Likewise, our spiritual vitality and wellbeing depends on the spine. We need to take care of our spine. We need to take very good care of it. Yet, we do not; we abuse it, we take it for granted. When you get serious in this type of spiritual work, then you understand that you need to take very good care of your spine. You shouldn’t go bungee jumping or doing anything that could potentially damage your spine, because you can seriously impede your spiritual work and thus your future lives.
Through the spine flow many forms of energy, including physical and vital, emotional and mental, casual, buddhic, atmic and logoic. The energies that come from the three kayas flow through the spine. Everything about us flows through the spine. If you want to know how God manages his pawn (you) on the chess board of life, he takes your spine and he moves you on the board.
Your spine is your route to nirvana / heaven, it is the Tree of Life. As such, we need to be aware of how energy moves on the spine and how attention is related to it, it is very important. As we are now we have no awareness of our own attention; how we pay attention, and what we pay attention to.
As we are now, our attention just goes everywhere indiscriminately; when we hear a sound, our attention just goes to the sound. When we have a memory float up in our mind, our attention goes to the memory. When someone calls or we hear a name or we hear music, we start humming the music, we start singing the song, we think about work, we think about the bills, we miss that girlfriend from way back, even though we hated her. In short, we do not consciously control our attention. Even now, while reading, we are continually getting distracted and drifting away. It is very difficult for us to retain a continuity of attention. We have not learned how, or why it is important.
Where is Your Attention?
Our attention goes everywhere, randomly. We do not manage it from moment to moment, consciously, with conscious will. Thus, we are not cognizant of how we use our energy from moment to moment. This must change.
What if you were to die right now? Where would your attention go while passing through death? Our minds would go wild. Be honest with yourself. If suddenly you were about to die, what would your state of consciousness be? Calm? Relaxed? Probably not! You would go crazy with distractions, worries, fears, desires, longings, regrets, etc. Your mind would go wild with thoughts like, “I’ve got to phone my mum, I’ve got to phone my girlfriend, I’ve go to feed the cat, what about my money, my secrets, my dreams,” etc. All kinds of surging memories and thoughts would come: worries, attachments. We would be so worried, out of our minds, crazy, not even realizing what we need to do in that moment to die well. In other words, when death comes, we will die distracted, with our consciousness asleep, because throughout our life we did not manage our three brains attentively, and we did not manage our attention. We are totally distracted, asleep, all the time.
Why does this matter? Because our attention and our three brains relate to our Tree of Life. Each one of these spheres of the Tree of Life relates to a heaven, to a hell, and also to the body. The crown of life, the top three sephiroth, relates to the head. These three are Kether, Chokmah, Binah; Father, Son, Holy Spirit; the three kayas Dharmakaya, Sambhogakaya, Nirmanakaya. These three forces are the gateway to a better birth, which is what we explained in the previous lecture.
If we know how to harness the bardos, the three betweens of death, reality and rebirth, then we can connect our consciousness with one of those three or all three, either at death, between birth and death, or at birth, and thereby move on to a better life. This happens according to karma, always. Nonetheless, our state of attention (consciousness) modifies what happens to us.
Think about it: if you do something will full attention, then you are more likely to guide that action and its consequences according to your will. On the other hand, when you do something without awareness, without care, there is no telling what will come if it.
If at the moment of death our attention is hypnotized by attachments and fear, then what will happen as we die? Furthermore, if twenty-four hours a day our attention is always caught up in attachments, envy, pride, and lust, then what will our quality of mind be at the moment of death? What are the odds that while experiencing the trauma of death we will suddenly be super-spiritual? The odds are against it. The odds are that we will continue with our psychological fixations. Our psychological state will be that of an animal.
Fear of Death
I’m going to tell you a story to relate this. Before I learned about Gnosis, I was in an earthquake. I always considered myself a smart kind of person, and on top of that I thought I could handle pretty much anything, but I learned—luckily—that I was completely wrong. I was in an earthquake in California and I was near the worst area. On the global scale it was not a big earthquake; there have been and will be much worse. I have had friends who have been in much worse ones than the one I experienced. Nonetheless, that experience taught me a lot. When that earthquake happened, I heard it coming. It is a sound you cannot explain; only someone who has been in an earthquake knows what it is. I heard it coming. In direct proportion to the arrival of that sound, my humanity left me. Psychologically, I became a mere animal: terrified, driven by instinct to survive. Previously, I thought I was a rational person and if I was to experience an earthquake I would not be afraid but would just have to go outside and there I would be fine. That rational response does not happen. I lost touch with my intellect, it was gone. I could not reason. Instinct to survive took over. Anyone who has been in a great trauma has had that experience, and knows what it is like.
In our spiritual practice, this is what we have to prepare for. Do not think that because you are Mr. or Mrs. “reasonable person” that you can be in charge of your three brains when you are about to die. It takes a lot of training to manage the three brains, especially emotion and instinct. The intellect cannot control them. After that experience I began to learn about Gnosis, and I have had other experiences that have proven to me that this training works. I have been close to death since then, and I did not react the same way. Thus, I know this training works. I am not afraid anymore, and that is not just an assumption or thought in my intellect.
What makes the difference at the moment of death is the state of our attention (consciousness) right then. We cannot expect to prepare by merely imagining what will happen to us, like, “In that moment I need to be ready.” No, you need to be ready now, right now, continually. That comes through constantly cultivating a state of awareness that is prepared for anything.
You see, in the moment when the earthquake arrived, my intellect shut down and my raw psychology was exposed. My false personality was not there. I experienced the raw instinct, the instinctual center in full control. This was the animal mind itself; all it cared about was preserving itself, and that is all. From that experience I understood a lot of things; I understood how people kill to live. In those moments I was capable of anything, and I knew it. This experience helped me to have a lot of compassion for people who have done things that otherwise they would not have done, because elements emerged out of the mind they did not even know were there; elements (egos) that drive us to kill, to hurt, to steal, to lie. We all have a huge collection of such elements within us, but we just ignore them.
When our attachment is very strong to physical objects—possessions, relationships, family, things—then our attention is caught up in Malkuth, the physical world. On the Tree of Life this is the lowest sphere, the lowest, most dense aspect of the ten sephiroth. Malkuth is related to physical life. When most people die, that is where their attention is: their physical life. We do not want to leave our lives, even though our whole life we have been dissatisfied, and complained. When death comes, we do not want to leave our life because we have no idea what is next; we are afraid, we have too much ignorance. Through these types of studies you will gradually get rid of that ignorance, because you will learn what is on the other side of death; then you will not be afraid, and you can face death peacefully.
For the common person, attachment is the main obstacle at death. If we have not done a lot of serious psychological work on ourselves, that will be our obstacle too. You can call yourself a serious spiritual person all you want, but when the reality of death is staring you in the face, your reasoning (intellect) will not be there. All of your good intentions will not be there. What will be there is what is surging in your mind, usually attachment and fear. So work on this now, change that now, and at death this will not be a problem.
This is important because Malkuth—the physical world and the physical body—is the gateway to the higher worlds and to the lower worlds, to hell. If at death your attention is completely caught up in attachment to physical things and fear (an emotion from the lower worlds), then when your consciousness is detached from the body and is vibrating with those qualities, where is it going to go? It will go to the level it vibrates with. Attachment and fear will bring it down.
In Tantra, the great Master Padmasambhava taught an essential practice that all Tibetan Buddhist and all other Tantric practitioners learn and use constantly, everyday. It is a form of consciousness transference. It is a preparation for death. The basic use of this practice is to cultivate a type of attention, to cultivate a type of awareness that is prepared for the moment of death. Quite simply, the practice is to focus ones mind, ones heart, ones soul, on the Ultimate, all the time. It is to have ones attention always longing for God—or whatever you call the Great Reality—instead of what have now, which is a state of consciousness that is always longing for materialistic phenomena, such as a new apartment, a nicer car, a boyfriend, or even less tangible things like acceptance, contentment, security, or whatever it is we are wishing we have. The practice is to abandon the craving for temporary pleasures, and instead focus attention on the Ultimate; what we really need is to unite with our Ultimate, the Buddha, the Dharmakaya, the Reality body. The practice is accomplished through cultivation of constant mindfulness on “God,” which in this tradition we call Self-remembering. In other words, our attention is up, in the head (pineal gland) and above.
“There are, altogether, nine different pathways through which consciousness transference can occur, and these are associated with persons of superior, average, and inferior capacity. The aperture of the crown fontanelle is the pathway through which consciousness departs to the pure realm of the sky-farers. Given this, it is said that one will attain liberation if awareness exits through the crown fontanelle. Since this is the supreme pathway, it is extremely important that one trains in directing one’s mental focus towards this aperture.” – Padmasambhava, from Natural Liberation through Recollection
A moment will come—odds are you will experience something like you will be crossing the street, and all of a sudden you are about to get hit by a bus, and you will be able to see the state of your mind in that moment, and you will see if you remember “My dog!” or will you call out for God?
And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit:” and having said thus, he gave up the ghost. – Luke 23:46
What will your reaction be in such a moment? Will you worry that you didn’t put on clean underwear that day and when you are dead in the hospital the doctors and nurses will say “he hasn’t changed in at least a week.” Where is your attention going to be? You will know that from knowing were your attention is now, from moment to moment. What you value, what you put attention into, what you put energy into, will define your moment of death. This is the basis of our training. Train now, study and understand.
The sephirah Kether, the Father, is the Dharmakaya, the Buddha of the Buddha. It is Amitabus, Amitabha, Amida, it is Brahma. It has many names. It is the body of reality.
If our attention is always on God, the Buddha, Allah, on learning about That which Is, uniting with that, longing, calling out, then we are starting to prepare properly. This is very important, because when the moment of death arrives, our dying thought is definitive. Our dying thought modifies the consciousness that leaves the body and determines its trajectory. This is not something that I am inventing, this is documented in scripture. Samael Aun Weor stated it many times. Padmasambahva stated it many times. If you have any respect for gnosis or for Tantra, you need to respect the statement. Your dying thought defines what happens at death, and afterward. What will your dying thought be?
Padmasambahva taught this technique to be constantly training our attention to be moving upwards, upwards in the head, upwards in the crown of the head, in the crown chakra, sahasrara. The crown fontanel is where the chakra emerges out of the brain and skull. It is rooted in the pineal gland. The soul / consciousness departs the body through the crown of the head when it is going up to the heavens. This is true of astral projection as well. If the consciousness is clean—in other words if we know how to leave the body as an essence, without the ego modifying our consciousness—we leave through the top of head. In other words, the spinal column is like a cannon pointing upwards, and that channel of energy along the spine projects the consciousness out through the top of the head, so we go to heaven, or we have visions, or we talk face to face with our Dharmakaya, Amitaba, Kether. That is why the spine is related to the center of the Tree of Life. The spine projects energy upwards or downwards, based on the state of that energy (consciousness).
The Gateway to Hell
For most of us, our attention most of the time is in attachment, such as envy, anger, lust, etc.
“There are three gates leading to hell — lust, anger and greed. Every sane man should give these up, for they lead to the degradation of the soul.” – Krishna in The Bhagavad Gita 16:21 (Mahabharata)
The physical gateways to hell are in the sexual organs and the rectum. This is explained in the Tantras. That is why those who learn this technique that Padmasambhava taught learns it learn to close the orifices of the body through willpower and mantras, to seal those openings so that when the person dies they have learned how to seal them and they will not exit of the body through those orifices, because if they do, they will go to hell. None of us want that.
“…in one’s heart one should visualize an azure blue syllable HUM, blazing with light, from which a single syllable HUM breaks away and descends to the rectum, precisely blocking the orifice through which the hells are entered. Another syllable HUM breaks away and descends to the orifice of procreation, thereby blocking the entrance to the realm of the anguished spirits. Similarly, another syllable HUM breaks away and blocks the entrance to the world of the animals, which is in the urethra…” – Padmasambhava, from Natural Liberation through Recollection
Unfortunately for us, our attention is usually primarily in Malkuth, the physical world, caught up in envy, anger, and lust, which are related to the lower orifices in the body. Even physically, a great amount of the time our attention is in the sexual organs, the stomach, the digestive or urinary systems, etc. There are spiritual consequences for this psychological habit.
If you want to have a small insight into what will happen in the moment of your death—if you do not have a violent death, if you have a peaceful death, a gradual death—you will die just in the same way you fall asleep now. What is in your mind when you are falling asleep? Most of us do not know. We lie down, and we are thinking about this and that and all of a sudden it is morning and we have just slept for eight or ten hours and we have no consciousness of what has happened. That is what will happen when you die a peaceful death. Such a death is exactly like sleeping, except you are going to wake up in a new born child’s body, and you will not like it, and you will start crying. You will be crying, “Where is my house, my wife, my job, what happened to all my things, my money, my car…” Then you will suffer in that body, not able to move, to get up, to get food, to roll over… and gradually you will forget everything from the past. That is, if you are lucky enough to get another body, many of us will not.
For most of us when we fall asleep at night, our mind is so identified with Malkuth—worrying about our job, wanting to buy that thing we are working so hard to buy, wanting to have sex with someone, or wanting to hurt someone—unfortunately when we fall asleep we are imagining those desire-driven scenes, then we go into the dream world and start projecting those scenes, in limbo, in hell, our own psychological hell. Thus, when we die, we will continue doing the same thing. That is why when we go out of the body at night or at death, we go out of the body through the rectum, or through the sexual organs. We do not realize that because our consciousness is asleep, but it is a fact. The students come to their instructors and say, “I am trying astral projection, but I cannot get out of my body, I cannot have astral experiences, I have never experienced going out of the body.” This is because we are all unconscious, too distracted, too identified with attachment, envy, anger, and lust. Thus, the same will happen when we die. If have a gradual or peaceful death, we will pass through it the same way we pass into sleep: unconscious, dreaming.
Go to the hospital and look at the ones who are dying, and that is what you will see: they are dreaming. Sometimes they will cry out, the same way we cry out when we dream. They will get up and walk around, the same way we walk around when we dream. They will talk to people who are not there, they will cry, they will laugh. They are dreaming already, they are already in limbo, it is just the body is not dead yet.
This is the fate of those who sleep consciously. It is sad, but this is the way life and death works. If we want to die better, to die consciously, to take advantage of death, to enter death consciously, to receive a better birth, we need to learn how to use conscious attention; we need to manage how we use our energy. How do you use your attention now? What are you aware of? What do you perceive?
We need to expand our consciousness. Most of us are just aware of the physical world, so in our training we start there. Learn about your physical body, learn to take care of it, learn to manage it properly, learn to watch your heart rate, your pulse, learn how to not be stressed out all the time, learn why you are stressed out all the time. I will give you a hint. One hundred percent of the time, stress is caused by attachment, always, with no exception. If you are stressed, you are attached. So, observer yourself, and find the attachment that is causing the stress.
Usually, it is just a concept that you are attached to, not the material object itself. Usually when you want that “thing” what it is—it might be a diploma, a salary, a computer, a new lawnmower, a new cell phone, a new life—it is not the “thing” that you are attached to, but your idea of what it will make you feel. The attachment is to the mental image, and the sensations related to that image. It is the image of it that you have built in your mind that you are attached to; it is the psychological relationship that causes the problem.
The same is true of sex. We are very attached to the sensations of sex, but usually it is the concepts of sex that create the problems. Suffering occurs because of the psychological relationship between the consciousness and the psychological projections about sex. Suffering is caused by being wanted, by the desire to give someone pleasure, or the desire to take pleasure. That is usually where the attachment is deepest; it is the psychological aspect of sex, not the physical one. In other words, if you did not have a psychological attachment to your concepts of sex, the act itself would not be a cause of suffering. But since you do have those attachments and those concepts, sex is a source of suffering, not because of the act itself, but because of how the act relates to your concepts / desires. Your attachment to your concepts causes you to seek sexual acts—physically of imaginatively—that stimulate you psychologically. If the psychological stimulus is not present, neither will the physical be present. Thus, the psychological stimulus is where we are attached. The psychological component is the root, not only in relation to sex, but in all things.
Study your psychological relationships with all things, both inside and outside. Free your mind and heart from attachment. Attachment produces suffering. Attachment is not love. Real love is free of attachment. Real love is complete freedom without limitations or chains or bonds. Real love does not demand anything, it does not take anything; it gives, and only gives. If you want something, if you feel you deserve something, if you are trying to get something, that is attachment, and it will produce suffering.
So this is the other component of this training.
First is to have our attention directed upwards. It is to not have attention in the sexual organs all the time, but to have our attention going up towards God, to have our attention in the pineal gland, remembering ourselves, remembering ourselves, being here and now and remembering ourselves, aware of the presence of God, of the Buddha, of divinity, so we stop committing crimes physically or psychologically. That is the first aspect.
The Importance of Generosity
The second aspect is generosity. Give it all away.
Traditionally, those who were receiving the training for the preparation for death or the transference of consciousness were always watching for signs of death. There is a huge teaching about the signs of death that we do not have time to get into. There are hundreds of signs that death is arriving, and by learning them you can even time the arrival of death. Certain signs will tell you that death will come in three months, six months, a year, three years; there are hundreds of such signs. Once those signs have started to become visible and the rituals and practices that are used to avoid death are no longer working, and death is imminent, the first thing the practitioner will do is give away everything; yes, everything.
…when it is ascertained that one is dying, an invitation should be sent to one’s root spiritual teacher if he or she lives nearby, and all of one’s possessions should be offered to the teacher, without even a single instant of attachment. If one remains even slightly attached to worldly goods, one may be cast into inferior existences… […] If an individual is unable to make such offerings in actuality, these should be offered mentally, and thereby a complete state of renunciation should be achieved. In particular, one should not leave any object at all close to the dying person which could give rise to attachment or aversion.” – Padmasambhava, from Natural Liberation through Recollection
They keep nothing, not even their own clothing. This is to prepare the consciousness to be completely unattached, to not be attached to anything in life, not even fabric, not even a shirt or your favorite socks, nothing. How many of us can do that today? How many of us have a truck load of attachments, just physical things, not to mention all the psychological attachments?
That generosity of giving away everything is accompanied by giving in any other way possible: to serve, to give. If one has wealth, one uses that wealth to spread the teachings, or to support others, to feed them, to cloth them, to nourish them, to perform rituals on their behalf, whatever can be done to help others. Naturally, the best way to do that is to help the teachings to help others. Most people would give all of their belongings and wealth to their spiritual teacher, the temple, or church, so that the teachings would be empowered to help others. All of this also serves the dying person, by making the last acts of the dying person acts of generosity. This modifies the mind, the heart, the energy that is in motion. Do you see the importance of that?
This is why serious practitioners use generosity in this way in daily practice as well, to be in a state of constant giving, constant giving, with no attachment, giving away everything, and thereby creating a flow of energy through the three brains that is focused through the three brains in a balanced way (intelligent, loving, and active) and helping others, with non-attachment; this frees the consciousness, and energizes it with love. Thus when death comes, you are ready, and not attached to anything. You can see how much work this could take, how much discipline. This kind of generosity creates a certain point of view, so that when the ray of death strikes, we are ready.
The Ray of Death
The ray of death is an energetic force that we have all met before and that we will all meet again.
Samael Aun Weor stated that the ray of death functions in a manner similar to when we take a ton of flowers and we reduce it down to a drop of essential oil. That is what the ray of death does to us. It condenses us to our most refined essence—the sum of what we are—and takes out everything extra. The body, the personality, and all of our so called ideas about ourselves are discarded, gone. What is left is just the essence of the person: good and bad.
When the ray of death strikes, it is inescapable, unavoidable, and nothing can oppose it. You cannot negotiate with it. That process is facilitated by angelic forces, by angelic intelligence. We call them angels of death. They are Masters, Buddhas, whose job is to help the souls move on, to take away the decaying and diseased part (the body and personality), to take the essence out and to project it. It is an act of compassion, but they can only do so much for the dying. If our mind stream is being projected through time-space heavily vibrating with lust, the angel of death cannot do much to help us. Yet if our mind stream exits the body longing for God, and having performed a lot of good deeds, that angel can do a lot to help us. So the process of death is really up to us.
The Tree of Life illustrates all the dimensions of nature condensed into a simple graphic, but nature is not simple. In this image we see symbolic grades or levels of existence. The lowest are the most dense and the highest are the most elevated. At death, we go according to how we vibrate, and that vibration is modified by how we die. You can be a great saint performing lots of acts of charity, doing a lot to help humanity and sacrificing a lot in your life to help others, but if in your moment of death you are arrogant and proud and lustful, you will pay for that, you will answer to that, and it will not be pleasant. So you can see then that how we die is complicated and important.
Questions and Answers
Audience: Where can I read about the signs of death?
Instructor: You can read about the signs of death in the complete edition of “The Great Liberation by Hearing in the Intermediate States” by Padmasambhava. Many call it “The Tibetan Book of the Dead,” but that is not the actual name of the scripture. There is only one complete edition in English. It is not the popular one that everyone has known about for many decades now. The complete edition only came out two or three years ago in English [from Viking / Penguin in the US]; few people have seen it. The popular versions you find in most stores are not the right one. You need to look for the complete unabridged edition; it is not just three chapters from the scripture but it is fourteen chapters. In there you find one of the scriptures about the signs of death, which is called “Natural Liberation through Recognition of the Visual Indications and Signs of Death.” This is but one such scripture, but the rest are not available in English. To fully utilize the scripture about the signs of death, you need to be part of a lineage that teaches it, to be initiated into that lineage. We do not teach that. Those scriptures were written for a time and place that is different from now. They are interesting teachings, but I am not including it as part of the course because I do not see the necessity in this moment to do so.
Audience: You often say that meditation can be used to prepare for death. In relation to that would you say that meditation on death would be better than mediating on egos?
Instructor: In terms of your own practice of meditation, you have to follow your heart. You have to follow the guidance that your Innermost is going to give you through your heart. There are thousands of approaches to meditation, there are thousands of things we need to learn; we are all different. We need to learn what we need to learn now. I have studied and learned many techniques, but I do not use them all everyday. I use them according to how I feel intuitively guided. We need to approach it that way. I do believe there is a value for anyone to learn about the process of death by meditating on death. I likewise believe it is important for everyone to mediate every day on the ego. Nonetheless, everyone has to approach their spiritual practice following their own Innermost, not me.
Audience: I never really got told about the heart mind, instinctual but I guess with some careers can things be done to get away from the intellectual but is there things you can do like drawing mantras. I know, I mean I go to school and I work and I can’t really walk away from all that because always in life there is a way to go around it?
Instructor: We all have lifestyles now that are completely out of balance to how we should be living and using our energy. That is true of anyone. So we have to learn how to steal the fire from the devil. We have to take advantage of our circumstances, and transform our situations and make them spiritually and psychologically useful for us. The way we do that is by gradually learning and applying antidotes, being creative like you suggested: using mantras, using visualization, take breaks, relax.
The most important component is self-awareness. Be mindful and watchful of how you are using energy.
I have heard it from my students, when they complain, “My job is so intellectual, I have to use my intellect all day long,” but I am not sure that is entirely true.
Audience: Yeah, you’re right it’s not entirely true. I know for myself, I think it just builds on it, builds on top of it were you just like to read and you become more intellectual and your like I’m going to read this and it starts to build on top of it?
Instructor: What I will typically tell people is: if that is the case that your job is intellectual by nature, then learn to do your job in a different way. If your job is a very intellectual job, learn to do that job emotionally. If it is like many jobs nowadays, you are sitting at a desk all the time. So try to find ways to minimize how inactive you are physically and emotionally. Make sure you get up and walk around, make sure you move about, change your posture, change your position, make sure you are sitting in a good posture in the first place. There are many details that can make big differences in our use of energy.
Little by little, what we will ultimately find is this: whatever situation you are in, you made it. We have our job because of our psychology. Our psychological tendencies put us in that chair or office. If we want out of that chair, we need to change our psychology. As you change, you will inevitably be moved out. I am not saying you are going to be fired—you might—but you might also be promoted, or you might find another job or another career or another direction. By changing ourselves inside, external change is inevitable. This is essentially underlying what we have learned in the books Revolutionary Psychology and The Great Rebellion.
Our exterior life is a reflection of our interior life. If we want to change our exterior life, change what we are inside.
Through internal change, external change will be inevitable, unavoidable. If you are unhappy in your job or your marriage or your city—or whatever it is—do not try to change the circumstances outside, because in most cases you will not be able to. Most of what you want to change is karmic, and you cannot go right to it and change it, you are just going to get frustrated and angry. So change inside. Change your relationship with your interior, and your exterior will change dramatically and rapidly. You will be amazed.
Audience: I was, a lot of time when we hear about the bobbin kandelnosts we see the advice to use our three brains in balance but it would seem to me just by thinking about this if you are an intellectual worker and your brain is tired and you go and use your motor brain you are not really conserving the energy or adding any energy to the brains but you are basically just saying I was using energy in this brain but now I am going to use the energy in this brain now. How is that better than my intellectual brain is tired I am going to lie around?
Instructor: The answer is how to use energy in the right way at the right time. So for example if you are doing some kind of work that is intellectual and you are having to think and really analyze something you are going to naturally become aware of a limit when you are starting to get tired and you think ah this is too much. So stop, take a break, switch to another brain, listen to music or go for a walk or ride a bike.
Audience: The question is why do that rather than just like shutting down?
Instructor: You can. Take a nap, or meditate. Definitely you can do that. The whole point is to be aware of your three brains and not abuse them, because all of us abuse them. We will sit at work for thirteen or eighteen hours straight and totally exhaust ourselves, stealing energy from the other centers to do it. We all do this, and we have to stop doing it. Sometimes our job demands it, sometimes we have a project due, or we have something we have to do. It happens occassionally, but many of us live this way everyday: demanding too much ourselves in general, but also abusing our three brains in different ways. In general, we have to learn to be smart, that’s all. Taking a nap is a totally acceptable way of doing it, or a walk.
Audience: Well I emphasize constantly, you know like if you work at a computer, to set a timer or whatever it is and go back to the breath, keep going back to that rhythmic breath. If you do not have that rhythmic breath all your stomach gets imbalanced and you get agitated, so when working during the day set a timer at your computer, fifteen, twenty minutes, relax, relax your stomach, breathe?
Instructor: One of the basic practices in Buddhism is annapanna. This is simply observation of breath. It should not be a mechanical observation, but an actual active awareness of breath. Deeper than that, in Gnosis we learn to do this with the heart, to be aware of the beating of the heart. Can you feel just by looking with your attention the beating of the heart? Sometimes you can, sometimes we cant, but generally we should always have the ability to be aware of how the heart is beating, what we are feeling in the heart, what is our pulse doing. This is very important. It is a very accurate gauge of your psychology, of your psychological state, what is going on with your heart. It is a gauge of how we practice and how we live.
I mentioned it in a previous lecture that this is part of the goal of Tantra. Tantra just means “continuum of energy” and in Tantric practices we are modifying the use of energy. All the energies of our body are modified and managed by breath and heart, and by modifying your breath you change your heart. If you slow your breathing, your heart rate will go down. If you accelerate your breathing, your heart rate will go up. We need that, that is part of life, and it is part of living. When you need to do something physical, something active, your heart rate will naturally pump faster in order to distribute energy to the body because your body needs that energy, but that gets abused through indulgences in the mind, heart, and body.
Let me point out something very interesting. If you ever observe a drug addict, a prostitute, or a murderer, they look old. When they are young they look old. So do masturbators; they age rapidly because through their bad habit they elevate the heart rate, they deplete the energy from the body, they poison the mind, they are throwing their lives away for indulgence in sensation.
White Tantra is about slowing the heart, not only in the sexual practices but in the meditation practices. If you learn to meditate properly and learn to enter Samadhi at will, you can stop your heart, you can stop breathing, and you will not die. There are even scientifically documented cases of this, and anyone who learns the science can learn to do it. We even have beginner techniques that consciously show you how to modify the rate of your heart beat. This is a useful technique for different cases, but specifically it is important because with the cessation of breath and the cessation of pulse the bonds on the consciousness are loosened. It becomes easy to go out the body because the bond, the link that ties the consciousness into the body is relaxed; then it is easy to go out, it is easy to meditate.
That is why when we meditate we always emphasize relaxation in the beginning, relaxing very deeply, not elevating and advancing the heart rate. Some people will teach to do very rapid pranayamas with a lot of intensity. That is fine to purge out energy especially if you are stressed or tensed, but not everyday, not all the time. You do not want an elevated heart rate when you sit to meditate, you want a very relaxed heart rate, you want a body that is ready to sleep, very calm and relaxed, and then when you meditate it goes deeper and deeper and deeper.
Audience: Is there a detailed and practical guide to help one remember oneself daily?
Instructor: Yes: a mirror.
Audience: When discovering an imbalance in one of the centers, what are some of the steps to work on it and correct it?
Instructor: The first thing to do in recognizing imbalances in the three brains is to recognize the three brains themselves, to see how we use them in our daily life, to really start analyzing and observing our behavior. Just be aware of yourself, watch what you do and how you do it. Learn about your three brains and how they work. That is the beginning and that takes a good deal of effort, just that. To really start to see the differences between the intellectual brain, the emotional brain and the motor/instinctive/sexual brain.
The easiest one to learn about is the intellect. I know we think it is the best one, but it is the slowest and the stupidest. So it is the easiest one to watch and the easiest one to catch when it is doing dumb things. The heart is very difficult and the motor/instinctive/sexual brain is even harder. The motor part is not that difficult because that is our learned skills like the way we walk, the way we drive a bike or a car, the way we brush our teeth, the way we lock the door and put the keys some place. All of that is the motor brain; physical habits. Those are easy to change and observe. Instinct is very difficult. Sexual center is extremely difficult because it is very fast.
So generally we start with watching thoughts, and learning about all three brains: trying to be a better person and learning how to use our energy in different ways from each experience to the next.
Let me conclude that statement with one last thing about the three brains. There is no book on the planet that can detail all the information about the three brains. I have heard thousands of students come with that question, “I need a book that explains how the three brains work” and this and that. You will find books like that, but they are all one hundred percent intellectual speculation, because they are not about YOUR three brains. Each of us uses these brains in a different way. Each of us uses our intellect and heart in different ways, and that is what we need to learn about ourselves. That is why I said the guide you need to learn about your self and see your three brains is a mirror.
As to correcting an imbalance, this comes through experience. Only you can discover the correct balance for your actions.
Audience: Lack of physical fitness is the cause of a lot of abnormalities or illness, what is the bare minimum we can get away with in North American society?
Instructor: I think nowadays our society has really shifted to a very imbalanced way of living from day to day. It used to be that we had to do a lot of physical activities: washing our clothes, gathering our food, preparing our food, walking, carrying, and much more. Now we want everything easy; we want to sit on the couch and have everything brought to us, readymade. We are becoming extremely lazy, physically.
The general idea is each day use your three brains in balance and learn what that means for you. We have different bodies and different lifestyles. If your lifestyle is very sedentary, meaning that you are sitting at a desk or at the office all day and you do not walk or you do not move around, then you need to incorporate some movement into your life. I recommend that you do not choose something dull and boring like going to a gym. You need to do something enjoyable that you will keep doing simply because you like doing it. I highly recommend getting your physical activity outdoors, in nature. It will help you a lot. Go kayaking, walking, sailing, gardening, play basketball, or do whatever naturally inspires you. Find activities that you enjoy doing, especially if it is engaged with nature, to get you back in touch with nature. Get away from all this plastic, metal and glass. Touch the ground.
The same goes for the heart. Most people nowadays are abusing the intellect especially in North America and Europe. They have a very intellectual society, the so-called “age of information.” They should call it “the age of too much information” because the vast majority of the so called “information” is completely useless. You do not need Facebook. You do not. You might like it, but you do not need it. The same is true of the internet, cel phones, computers, etc. Humanity developed for tens of thousands of years without them. Happiness is not electronic.
So for the emotional side, if you are not getting enough emotional activity, spend time just listening to music—not in the background: being at work and turning on classical but not paying attention to it. I mean you should sit down and really listen, even if it is only for a few minutes, but really pay attention to it. That will nourish you. There are all kinds of good music for that, and not just Western classical, but there are many forms of traditional music that can help you.
Even better than that, play music. All of us have the capacity to express art. Without exception. I will never accept an excuse from anyone that they cannot be an artist or a musician. Creative expression is part of our nature. All of us have that. Find an instrument you like, or a paint brush or a pencil, and express your heart: not for anyone else but God. Go somewhere private (as much as you can) and open your heart to God. Play music, create something, make pottery, grow flowers, make art, you can even build things in your garage if you want, but be creative, be expressive from your heart; dance, sing. Emotionally, we are a dead culture. We are not comfortable reaching out to each other or to God, and that is why we are sick. That needs to change in us to be real initiates. A real initiate is an artist in their own way. Their art might be with words, it might be with paint or color, with sound, it might be in human relations, it might be in politics, but all of us have it. Art is simply how we express the Being. That is all art is; it doesn’t mean you have to paint like Michelangelo. It means that you express the Being creatively. If you are not comfortable with that, do it on your own, secretly, tell no one and show no one. When you start thinking, “Maybe one day I might get money from this,” you need to kill that ego. Art needs to be done for yourself, for God, for your Innermost, for your Divine Mother, as an expression of love. That is how you can work on your emotional center and open your heart in an effective way.
Your heart will open also through worship. Find ways of being devotional. There are many ways to do that. Some people like to go to church or the temple, to the mosque, some people like to sing bhajans or choir music. Having an altar at home and dedicating time to prayer is beneficial.
The most successful way to open the heart and show devotion is to serve others. Doing art at home, making music is beautiful and it will help you a lot, but it is only a beginning step. The best way you will open your heart is through devotional service to others. It doesn’t mean it has to be personal and face to face, that is helpful, but your service can also be anonymous if you want it to be. We all have to serve in our own ways.
I will make you a promise: in this type of training, you cannot progress unless you help others. You can memorize all of the teachings and scriptures, you can do spiritual practice twenty-three hours every day, yet you will get nowhere if you are doing it all for yourself. We have to be actively engaged in serving others, so find your ways of doing that. We all have a way. If you have a very busy lifestyle, a job and kids, etc., then make your job and family care your service to humanity. Transform your job into a chance to sacrifice for others. Turn your duties into spiritual service. Help others by doing your best, treating others as precious and deserving of your best. Do the same through your kids, through your household, in your community. Make everything you do service with devotion, respecting the Being in the other person, respecting the God in the other person, serving them even when they spit at you. This is a great way to open the heart, yet takes a lot of effort, because we have a lot of pride. The chief obstacle to serving others is pride.
Audience: Does ones last thought cancel out ones life?
Instructor: Karma is cause and effect, that is all it is. Whatever causes have been put into motion must act unless they are overridden by a more powerful action. This is the basic law that modifies all matter and energy in every level of existence, from atoms up to universes. Your final thought is one act that channels all of the actions of your lifetime, yet the actions of your lifetime have far more energy than one thought. If you just look at it scientifically it makes sense. It’s like throwing a ball. You can throw it and try to direct it at will, but you can’t change the laws of physics. The ball is going to move according to the motions of the throw, but there are much more powerful influences than just your intention in throwing it, such as your skill, strength, the weight and condition of the ball, etc. yet these factors are minuscule in comparison with the environmental conditions that are around the action. If you are trying to throw the ball when you are surrounded by a wall one inch away you, then you will not be able to throw it very far: only one inch. That wall is your psychological environment, your ego, it is karma, it everything that has been established around the environment of that last thought. So, the previously established causes and conditions dominate, unless you have worked on them in advance.
This why we need to do so much charity and so much psychological work. This is what changes the environment: psychological work (death of ego, and awakening of consciousness) and service to others. These three factors change the psycho-spiritual environment; it gives us the capacity to have more influence over how we throw that “ball,” that final thought.
So to finish the statement I made earlier, the training that students or practitioners of Padmasambhava undergo was to be prepared for that final moment of death so that they could transfer their consciousness into the Trikaya, according to their capacity, and have some experience of reality. That final training in synthesis was that they used mantra and visualization to close all the orifices of the body so that when that instant of death came the consciousness would not be distracted and not exit through the rectum or the sexual organs or through any other orifice—the mouth, the nose, the ears, the eyes—but instead through the crown fontanel at the top of the head. And the would train so their dying thought would be something like,
“Let me be of service to others; please, put me in a position where I can help others to find the science that conquers suffering; let me help.”
That is the training. You see, the training isn’t about, “Please god give me this and that. Please let me be born in a mansion of gold were I can have all my Gnostic books and be rich and wealthy with a beautiful spouse and help others a little bit.” That sounds great and we all want that, I know, but the real psychological point of view, the proper attitude is: “Let me serve. Let me not be trapped in hell where I can’t help anyone. Let me not be trapped in a desire realm, in a realm where I am only going to want power and to feed my desires,” in other words, nirvana. “Let me not go there but at death let me go somewhere where I can make a difference helping others.” That is the dying thought that is definitive.
I stated previously something that might sound contradictory, that our whole lifetime is a stream of energy and the last thought modifies that energy. So which one is stronger? You might think, “Well if everything I did in my life was bad and in my last moment I was longing to help others, it does not do any good.” Actually, it does do a lot of good, a lot, even at the last minute. But if you think, “I am just going to keep doing bad until I die, then I am going to change.” A lot of people think that, they think, “I am going to keep being bad, because God is going to forgive me anyway.” Yes, but forgiveness comes only after you have paid for your crimes. That is the part that everybody leaves out. Everybody thinks that they can just say, “I am sorry, God, forgive me, take me back, I didn’t mean it.” Yes, you did! You meant it every step of the way; you meant it. The law works like that: cause and effect, but the difference is this: sincere repentance makes a difference. Certain karmas can be wiped away by real, true repentance; not all, but certain ones. Likewise, service to others can pay certain karmas, can wipe away the effects of bad actions; not all of them, but some. So use those two for your advantage; repent now, stop behaving badly, and help others. Then when you die, you have got a chance to do something better.