It is strange that in this era we have a powerful aversion to the notion of death, to the concept or idea of death, and even the presence of death. We avoid it. Not only do we avoid it in our environment but we avoid it in our minds. But the fact is that we depend upon death to be alive. Everything in manifested nature works in cycles. So imagine a great wheel that is always in motion; we depend upon that wheel for birth and death.
Contemplate the last meal that you ate; remember that meal. Whatever it was, without exception, that meal was a result of death. Every single piece of food that you have ever consumed came to you because of death. Even as a vegetarian, you kill to live. Everything that lives, lives on death. Death is the nourishment of life. When we eat a meal, we consume the bodies of elementals or organisms that are in nature. Even when we drink water, this is a process of destruction, of death. When we eat plants, vegetables, salad, we have killed the bodies of those plants in order to eat them, to consume them. When we eat an animal, meat, fish, we have killed to live.
It is odd; we have separated ourselves from that process of death so much that there are many people who cannot imagine killing for food—they want someone else to do it for them—yet any time we eat, we accrue the karma—the cause and effect relationship—of that killing. Those who think that they are avoiding killing, avoiding the process of another creature dying, participate in death every time they eat. It is unavoidable. No matter how you got your food, you have a relationship with the death of what you eat.
Certain groups and spiritual teachings in the world have gone very extreme in their misunderstanding of the nature of life and death, in their endeavor to avoid killing. They do not understand that in order to live they must kill; not in excess, and not in a matter of abuse or for pleasure, but simply to live.
Every meal is an act of killing. We must live, we must eat, thus we must kill, so we have to learn how to deal with death with respect, with balance, so that the karma—the cause and effect—of killing is in harmony.
Every action is Karma: cause and effect. We should not be afraid of Karma or afraid of action. What we should be afraid of is action that is out of balance, that is not harmonious with nature.
To eat and to be eaten is the law of nature. Life and death is how nature works at every level. Death is a part of living, and to live one must have death.
In this era we avoid death to such an extreme that we want to find a way for physical bodies to live forever, to extend our life spans to such a degree that we would never have to die. There are many people who have this goal, and there are many organizations and companies who are spending millions of dollars to find a way to make us “immortals.” It is absurd. It demonstrates this extremity of avoiding the reality of death and a profound ignorance. Their craving for pleasure, comfort, and security is so great so they avoid the reality of death, and the fundamental aspect of this is ignorance.
The Three Forces that Create Suffering
There are three factors in what I have just explained, three elements that are very critical for us to grasp. These three elements are at the basis of all suffering:
In the basis of Hinduism and Buddhism these are the mula klesha, the three roots or the causes upon which the wheel of suffering [wheel of samsara] spins; these are the axle of the wheel.
Another symbol, the Gankyil, is a symbol in Buddhism that represents three forces in motion. It looks like a wheel with three parts, like a Yin-Yang but with three parts. The Gankyil represents how the three forces create. It has many levels of meaning.
There are three forces in every form of creation and every form of destruction. A spark of lectricity is produced by a combination of positive, negative, and neutral forces. A child is produced by man, woman, and sex. The Law of Three creates and destroys. The Law of Three is the fundamental basis of everything that moves whether positive or negative, up or down. Every movement is determined by three factors.
Suffering is also created by three forces. For suffering, pain, delusion, to grow, to expand, the Three Forces act. Psychologically in us are these three: ignorance, craving and aversion. They are the basis of all suffering. When it comes to the topics of death this three are very much active in us.
Ignorance in Sanskrit is Avidya which means “without cognizance.” Vidya is knowledge but not just intellectual knowledge; Vidya means cognizant knowledge, knowledge that is in the consciousness, knowledge that you never forget, not even after you die, knowledge that is part of the soul. Avidya means “without that kind of knowledge”; that is what we have, we have a lot of Avidya, and we demonstrate it constantly in our profound ignorance in dealing with everything, especially in dealing with ourselves.
Because this ignorance [lack of real knowledge] is so pervasive in us, we have a fundamental problem, in which we are grasping at, or craving, clinging to a mistaken notion of self. This craving or grasping in us in the example I am giving is to grasp at life, to grasp at what we call life. That grasping or craving is rooted in a fundamental ignorance which is that what we feel and believe and see is what we are. We think we are our name, our memories, this body; and all of that is wrong, this is all mistaken. We have a very deeply mistaken sense of “I” and because we grasp at that “I”, we avoid everything that contradicts it. You see how this three forces work together?
We avoid anything that contradict our sense of self that has our name, face, language, culture, accent, beliefs, all of that. Death contradicts all of that. The very idea that this “self” can die terrifies that sense of self: that is why we avoid this topic of death. You see, this whole interlocking axiom of three factors is mistaken. It is delusion, and the way one stops its motion, and thereby stops the production of suffering, is through knowledge, through Vidya, which is cognizant knowledge, real knowledge. That type of knowledge can only be acquired in a very specific way. That is why we are here, to learn how to acquire real knowledge. So, to contradict this whole cycle of suffering, we need Vidya, Gnosis, cognizant knowledge. Gnosis is not what we read in books, it is not what we hear in lectures, it is not what we believe. It is knowledge that we derive through our experience in relation with the soul. Gnosis is a cognizant spiritual knowledge, knowledge of the soul, not the personality, name, face, history, what schools we have been through, what books we have read, neither of that has any importance, unless it penetrates into the soul and becomes a permanent part of that soul.
Ignorance, craving, and aversion are really one thing, which is the movement of energy that is constantly at play in our psychological country, in our minds. This becomes important for us because all suffering is rooted in this; every form of suffering that exists emerges out the inner play of this three aspects: ignorance, craving and aversion. These three have been symbolized in many ways and have many names in every religion; they have many characteristics and qualities because they are very deep and profound.
When we look at ignorance or craving or aversion do not think they are superficial concepts; they are not. They are very deep and profound aspects of psychological energy. They cannot be overcome through the intellect. Just because you have heard the terms, or you have studied this before or you have learned them already, does not mean you have overcome it. If you are suffering, if you are stuck here without real knowledge of the soul, it is because these three are still in motion in you. The reality is that we only conquer fully these three sources of suffering once we fully left the Wheel of Samsara, which means one has to became a resurrected Master. That is very rare. Even the Gods suffer from these three, even the Buddhas in Nirvana have craving to remain as Buddhas, to have powers to have the followers, even the Buddhas in Nirvana, the Angels have ignorance because they still do not see the ultimate nature of self, which is the Absolute, the Emptiness. And they still have aversion because they want to avoid that which is unpleasant, and to stay always in pleasure. So do not think that these three are easy to get past, they are not.
This is why we study the Tree of Life. This map illustrates the laws in nature and the relative density of different rounds of nature, and as energy or life flows from the Absolute, the Emptiness, that light passes through ever increasing level of density or complicated laws. These laws, forces, or energies are all psychological; they are matter and energy but they are also psyche, they are mind. Everything in nature is mind condensed, materialized.
When we finally arrive to studying the physical level which is called Malkuth in Hebrew, the tenth Sephirah, we see that it is between two realms: the superior realms related with the heavens and the inferior realms related with the hells. Every great tradition throughout history has tried to symbolize and represent these two fundamental aspects of life and death: heaven and hell.
Unfortunately, because we have lacked knowledge, our ignorance has caused us to misinterpret and misunderstand this teachings about heaven and hell, such that we arrived at the foolish belief that heaven is a place up in the clouds and hell is a place below the surface of the Earth and we will go to one or the other depending on what we believe. This is so illogical and contradictory, it is absurd and, yet, millions of people believe it. It contradicts every law of nature, it contradicts how energy and matter interact with each other and it contradicts all of the scriptures. No scripture states that we go to heaven because we believe in heaven, and no scripture states that we go to hell because we do not believe in heaven. Every scripture, whatever Buddhist, Hindu, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, all state the same thing: we go where we belong. We go according to what is in our mind, we go depending on who we are. Jesus explained it very explicitly throughout the Gospels, he never said, “If you believe in me you will go to Heaven.” He said that the path to go to Heaven is very difficult and very few enter. He said that no idolater, no murderer, no adulterer, no fornicator, no thief can go there. We have all those factors in ourselves.
We have ignorance that craves pleasure and avoids pain. Because of that we commit crimes. We commit them physically, we commit them emotionally, we commit them mentally. Every time we engage in a mistaken use of energy and matter, we encode that mistake, we crystallize it. You see what this Tree of Life illustrates for us is a flow of energy. The Ain Soph Aur, the Ray of Creation, descends down the Tree of Life and creates everything. That Ray, that light is in us, our own particular light that passes through us. It is the energy that lets us be here and now, it is the energy of living. But we modify that energy according to our actions, according to our thoughts, according to our feelings, in other words into this Gankyil, this circle that is spinning with three aspects there is always energy flowing. That circle or Gankyil represents our mind, our heart, our body, three aspects, three brains. That Gankyil shows us our psyche. Some people say body, speech and mind, this is also accurate. In this tradition, in Gnosis, we talk about intellect, emotion and body or motor brain. This diagram shows the three brains divided as five centers because really the body has three separate aspects that we study when we get more detailed, but on this graphic we see yellow, blue and red, this are the three parts of the Gankyil. Energy is flowing into our three brains constantly in every motion; in every moment there is energy, and our use of energy determines who we are, what we will be, what will happens to us, where we are headed. This is why we study this topic of death, as we act, as we think, as we feel, we are determining our future.
If we are using our energy and are unaware of ignorance, craving, and aversion in ourselves, and when that energy flows in our five senses we engage with what we perceive around us and what we perceive within us and the ignorance, craving, and aversion cause us to misinterpret, to mistake, to have wrong views, to see things through the illusion of ignorance, craving, and aversion, then instead of seeing what is actually there we only see what supports our sense of self and what does not support it. In other words we are constantly in this effort in everything that we do to fortify the false sense of self. We have that sense of self that feels with a certain sense of pride, a certain sense of accomplishment. We feel that we are good at our job. We will look in every moment, in every engagement with others, in every situation, for ways to support that, to fortify that, and everything that contradicts it, we avoid. We do our best to not see contradictions, to not deal with anything that disagrees with our illusion, or to repress it, to fight with it. So if we make a mistake, something that maybe we have done wrong, we do our best to hide it not only from others but from ourselves, we do our best to avoid it. But if there is something where we have done something good, something that was beneficial, we indulge in it, we revel in it. In both cases we are using energy driven by ignorance, craving and aversion. The result is that in that scene, in that engagement, there is no penetration to the truth of the matter, there is only pride or shame, attachment to image, and this desire to propagate and support this sense of self that we are carrying around.
If you have ever been out of work, unemployed, if you ever had someone break up a relationship with you, whether a friendship or a romantic relation then you felt the blows of pride and you felt the impulse to find something else to boost your pride. If you ever felt praised, celebrated, envied then you felt the boost to pride and how much we want to indulge in that and engage in that. Most of us think that is nothing wrong in that, we feel it is good, we do not see the danger or the harm. The danger and the harm is precisely in the ignorance. Every time we feed the energy of this type of engagement we deepen the ignorance that causes us to suffer, as we fail in to see the nature of our true identity. For that we need to go a little deeper and understand what this means. Our psychology is not what we think it is and this is the effect of the ignorance that afflicts us. What we think is “ourselves,” what we think is “me,” is fundamentally mistaken.
There are three fundamental components of our psychology that direct the flow of energies through us, and thereby determine our experiience of living and dying.
The Three Forces of Our Psychology
- Essence: unmodified consciousness; buddhata, tathagatagarbha; “Buddha nature”
- Ego: (Latin, “I”) modified consciousness; kleshas, skandhas (aggregates); “animal nature”; desire
- Personality: (Latin, “mask”) persona; instrument; related to time; name, language, culture, country, religion, beliefs, morals, values, tastes, etc.
The first aspect of this that we need to study is what we call in this tradition the Essence. This is unfiltered, unmodified consciousness.
Essence and Ego
Consciousness is what gives us the ability to perceive, it is perception but not through any particular sense. We have perception here in our physical bodies, which flow through our five senses but that perception has a root that is far beyond the physical body. Nevertheless, when we are here in the physical body, we have the ability to perceive, but in us that perception is modified. It is modified by ignorance, craving and aversion, it is modified by pride, by anger, by lust, by gluttony, by fear, by all the psychological elements that surge in our mind stream.
There are other names for the Essence, like the Sanskrit words Buddhata and Tathagatagarbha. These words translate to essentially the same thing: Buddha nature. If you have studied Buddhism you have heard about the Buddha nature. Buddha nature is the capacity to become a Buddha, or to become an angel. It is that part of us that is a seed or an embryo that can be grown, nourished, and developed. In us it is not developed, it is weak.
We need to understand what this is, not intellectually and not by belief, but in the moment, now, in every moment. We need to experience what the Essence is. Without that experience you can never understand Gnosis or any religion, it is impossible. The original purpose of every religion was the development of the Essence. Nowadays most of them have degenerated and have other purposes, such as to sustain themselves, to have power, money, respect, whatever it is that they are after. But the original goal of the founders of all religions was to teach us how to use the Essence, how to grow it. This is the most fundamental thing that you can get from studying Gnosis, how to understand, how to experience and how to use your own Essence. This means consciousness that is unmodified, pure, free, no cages. It perceives accurately. It perceive without filters. It perceives without limitation. This is why we learn many techniques in order to teach ourselves about the Essence.
We start with Self-observation and Self-remembering. We can also call this watchfulness, cognizance, consciousness, self-awareness, etc; there are many names. You may have been heard the term mindfulness, but we use that term in more specific way than general perception.
The free, unmodified Essence is our direct connection with truth. The Essence is our consciousness which is a spark of soul from our Inner Being, from our Inner God that is the truth, the reality. Our Inner Buddha can work in us, can help us, can aid us through that Essence, that spark of free consciousness that is the only pure part remaining in us. Nothing else in us is pure. Everything else in us has been modified, afflicted by ignorance, craving and aversion, pride, fear, gluttony, lust, envy, laziness, many elements. This is why is so important for us to experience what the Essence is. Unfortunately, most of our Essence is trapped, it has become modified in that sense of self, the “I.”
In Latin, “I” is ego. In modern English we use ego in other ways, but in this tradition, in Gnosis, we use “ego” in very specific way. It means “I,” and that sense of I, that sense of “me” that we all experience is a lie, it is false. That feeling of pride, that feeling of self-sufficiency, that feeling of shame, that feeling or doubt, all of those are “I”, ego. The I is modified consciousness. It is consciousness trapped in a false sense of self.
In Christianity and in Western tradition in general the “I” or ego is represented by the seven deadly sins: pride, anger, lust, gluttony, etc. That is symbolic. The seven aspects or seven egos are symbolic. The reality is that we have many, many egos. The egos themselves are much more complex and sophisticated and complicated than just seven and this can be learned very quickly when you really, sincerely observe yourself. You will discover that what some people might call pride is much more complicated than mere “pride” because it is mixed with fear, anger, even lust. The ego is complicated; the mind is complicated. The Essence is simple. This is the difference.
In other traditions the ego is called by different names. In Buddhism and Hinduism, klesha, smaskara, or skandha are psychological elements that trap or modify consciousness. In other words, when you feel anger, when anger takes over you and you are an angry person, that is a cage. It is a modification of consciousness, in other words; the consciousness became trapped in a cage called anger, and that anger only wants pain. Reflect on that. Next time you feel angry or irritated, look at that anger in yourself and question it: is this anger or reflection of God, is this a reflection of divinity or is a reflection of desire? What does it want? Anger wants pain. Anger is pain. When we are angry, we suffer, we make other suffer yet we defend our anger rigorously. When we get angry we do not want to let it go because when we get angry we are also very proud. Anger is arrogant, always, with a very strong sense of “I.” Anger is also afraid of everything that may undermine it, take it away, or contradict it. Anger does not want to see the truth. We can get very angry, but if suddenly it becomes evident that what we are angry about is our fault, anger does not want to see that. The pride of anger is afraid of seeing that truth. You see, is hard to simplify an ego to one name, you cannot. You have to see each ego for what it is, and not put a label.
Most (97%) of our Essence is trapped in egos. Our egos are very complex, and different in all of us because every element in the ego is made by us though our mistaken actions. In other words, if in a given moment that energy is moving through your three brains and you see something that you want, in other words, in your ignorance you forget your real nature, your Innermost and you feel a craving for something, to have something, the energy that is flowing through you is crystallized in that desire and forms an ego, and over time, the more you feed that desire, the stronger it gets. This is true of superficial things and very deep things, even if it is something like craving approval or acceptance, craving security—it does not have to be just craving food or craving sex, although those also have the same result. Each time that energy flows through that desire and become crystallized that is a Karma, cause and effect, and that consciousness becomes trapped in that ego (I desire). That means every time that ego emerges in our mind stream, the consciousness that is inside of it perceives through that filter. When we become angry, we see everything through that anger. When we become enraged with lust, we see everything through that lust. When fear or doubt takes over, we see everything through that doubt or fear. Each ego is modified consciousness, a form of ignorance, and all of this produces and deepens suffering.
So there is a strong difference between these two aspects in ourselves.
The Essence is pure; it is joyful, serene, at peace, it needs nothing. Unmodified consciousness is perfect serenity, harmony, love. If you ever observed a child—not a child when they are suffering for being in a body but a child that is fully relaxed, happy, and will just give love to anyone, will share with anyone—that is Essence, and all of us have that within. But unfortunately, when we are growing up, our psychological baggage from previous existences incorporate into our mindstream and we lose touch with the unmodified consciousness (Essence). This is why Jesus said
Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein. – Luke 18
The Essence is pure, free, it is not bitter, it is not afraid. People nowadays have a lot of sarcasm, a lot of bitterness, a lot of tension and stress. The Essence does not have any of that; that is not our Essence. The Essence in us is undeveloped and immature, like a child, bright, wide open eyes; to it, everything is astonishing, everything is beautiful, everything is amazing. That is how the Essence sees. The Essence is the embryo of a Buddha, Angel, or Master. It is the pure seed from which the most amazing beings are born.
The work of the Gnostic student is to engage and activate this Essence all the time. Death can come at any moment. If you face death with the Essence active, you will not be discouraged, you will not be afraid, you will not be bitter, you will not be grasping at or craving for anything but God, more light. Your pride will not be in your way, neither will your anger, lust, fear; not even pain will be an obstacle, and you will face death with joy, with knowledge.
These two aspects of our psyche have an intermediary that they work through, and we call it the personality. Personality is from Latin persona, which means “mask.” That is what the personality is: a mask.
The personality is developed through time. When we were born we started to make a personality. Throughout our lifetime we use it in order to engage with life. The personality is the interface we use to relate to others, thus it uses language, expressions, clothing, and culture. That is, the personality is rooted in time, trends, and cultural tendencies. It is not our soul. It is a mask.
The personality is our mask, our face; it has our name, history, memories, language, culture, most of what we think is “ourselves.” But let us talk about that for a minute. We tend to think that our personality is our identity, but it is not. We get confused—even many Gnostic students get confused and they call aspects of the personality “ego.”
The personality is temporary. When the physical body dies, the personality goes with it. We do not keep a personality in our next existence. There are many people who think they go to Heaven and they keep the same name and the same face. You do not. In each existence you have a new face, a new body, and a new personality. We explained in the previous lecture that energy does not die, and our consciousness is energy, and that energy has been migrating from body to body for uncountable ages. In each body we have a new personality. Reflect on this. The personality that we have now, in the twenty-first century, would be completely out of place fifty years age, a hundred years ago, five hundred years ago, a thousand years ago. Your personality now that likes to eat hamburgers, wear sweat pants, watch TV, and click around in the Internet would go mad if it were sent to live five hundred years ago. No one from that era would understand a word your personality would say, because the language you use now has nothing to do with the language of five hundred years ago. Even the way people look is different. Look at the visual record of humanity. Our faces have changed, our bodies have changed; we can even tell by looking at a face what decade or era they came from. Over time, the body is changed, the personality is changed.
Personality is temporary. When I was meditating on this, trying to understand it deeper and find ways to explain it, I was given a beautiful example. The personality is just an instrument. Think about that: what is an instrument? It is just a tool. What uses that tool is either the Essence or the ego. Most of the time is the ego, but is you reflect deeper on this it may make more sense and make you understand the difference and start to discriminate in yourself the difference between ego, Essence and personality. If you listen to music you will see the exact same phenomenon that is happening in us psychologically. The instrument is like the personality, the music is using the instrument. You can play the same song on any instrument and it will sound different; some of us like certain instruments better than others, just in the same way we like certain personalities better than others. Our personality is an instrument. Our personality produces a note, a sound. What is the music flowing through our instrument psychologically? What is the sound that we produce? Is it the sound of ego, desire, craving, aversion, ignorance? Or is the sound of the divine playing through us? This is the difference. If you think about personality, ego and Essence in that way, it can become much easier to see it in yourself.
Personality is just a mask through which energy flows. We have become very attached to personality and make it very strong. In the past, it was not this way. Nowadays, we put a lot of energy into “our” country, “our” heritage, “our” race, “our” language and we build a lot of pride around that. We are attached to a certain religion, either because of our family history or because of something we have discovered in this existence, and we have build a lot of spiritual pride. We make our personality a reflection of that religion; so nowadays we see trends or tendencies among groups to have the same types of personalities. If you go to a Christian church you will find that everyone there starts to behave like everyone else. They use the same words, they will even dress the same, they will talk the same, they will eat the same things, they will go to the same places, they listen to the same music, they may even drive the same cars. That is all personality—it is temporary, it is all based in time. The same is true if you go to any Gnostic school. They all start talking the same things, believing the same things, dressing the same way, eating the same foods. That is all personality.
Go from city to city and you will find the same phenomena. In Chicago, there are cultural tendencies. In New York, there are cultural tendencies, just as there are in Delhi, Rio de Janeiro, etc. None of these cultural tendencies and trends are fundamentally real. They are temporary phenomena that unfortunately, we believe are important.
Our language is constantly changing. To be praised or admired by society, you must be using the newest words and terms. That is all personality; it is not real. Yet, we believe our use of words is “ourselves.” This is significant—it sounds silly, but is very significant, because every use of energy has an impact in us.
We have become so addicted to personality that we have lost touch with the ability to have the consciousness active. We have become hypnotized by personality, and by the egos (“I’s”) that drive the personality. What is working through our personality most of the time are just desires, such as to be accepted, to have security (either financially or emotionally), to feed our desires, whatever they may be.
Transformation of Impressions
Why does this matter? Because at the moment of death, your psychological state determines what will happens to you. And none of us know when we going to die. If we are surprised by death, if that comes upon us as a shock—which it will, if we are not prepared—our psychological state will determine how we will pass through that door and thus determine where we go and what becomes of us. This is why is important for us to learn to discriminate between these different psychological elements; this is why is important to study the Tree of Life and all the laws of nature.
The ego belongs in the lower realms of nature. The ego is very complicated. Pride is not simple, lust is not simple, envy is very complicated. All of these factors reside in our subconsciousness, which in Christian terms is hell. It is sub, below. This means that every time we, in every moment, use energy to feed personality, to feed ego, we deepen the ties that bind us to the lower worlds, to the lower aspects of our psyche. This means that when we die, that is where we go. Our mind is already there, so naturally, we will fully incorporate there. So the question is: who dies and what happens when we die?
This graphic shows the interplay of all these energies. On the far left we see the exterior worlds, everything outside that we interact with. In order for us to interact with it we use the personality. The way we dress, the way we walk, the way we talk, the way we present ourselves, that is our personality. All the energy and impressions of life flow through that personality to our three brains and it is processed. Unfortunately, because we are fascinated by life and have our consciousness asleep, we do not know what is happening in our three brains, in our mind, in our heart and in our impulses. We are not cognizant of that. This whole scene is happening in Malkuth, between the Heavens and the Hells, psychologically.
So as the energies are flowing in to us, there is an engagement that happens psychologically inside, between what is outside and what is inside. Our will determines the result. Do you see the three forces that work here? Exterior, interior, and willpower (consciousness).
Most of the time our will is completely rooted in desire: craving, aversion and ignorance. Whatever is flowing into us we just react based on our desires, our sense of self, our pride, envy, desire, lust.
When we see somebody wearing something that we really like, we want that for ourselves. It is not the clothes that we want, it is the admiration. That is envy. Why do we want that? To feed our pride, to make our personality more attractive, to make people like us, to get acceptance, to get admiration or to be envied. We want to be envied the same way we are envying the other person. What is happening there is that energy is flowing into us, feeding and nourishing envy, pride, fear, all in mistaken sense of self and that mistaken sense of self is getting stronger. So if this has been the case with us today, yesterday, last week, last month, and last year, then it is likely that this has been our behavior in our previous existence, also. We have no evidence to show that in any other time we have been different, thus logically, mathematically, it makes sense that the conditioned consciousness is very robust, and the liberated and free consciousness in us is practically nonexistent.
We can find supportive evidence for this notion if we look at society, if we look at our lives. It is very difficult to find evidence of unmodified consciousness anywhere. Evidence of it would include selfless love, true serenity, someone that is truly happy and has no clinging, no attachment, no longing, no desire, that is just serene no matter their circumstances. That is the sign of liberated consciousness.
It is very difficult to find in ourselves real happiness for others, unattached. Usually when we are happy for others we feel resentment also. We think, “I am happy for you but I wish I got that, why can’t I have that, too?” Envy resentment, pride.
It is very rare for us to find chastity—sexual purity. Even those who claim chastity are ravenous beats in their minds, or secretly, behind closed doors.
It is rare to find true altruism, the ability to give without expecting anything in return.
It is very rare to see liberated consciousness, yet everyone thinks that they know what it is. There are tens of thousands of books in the bookstores about “the liberated consciousness” and about the coming “golden age.” How do they know about that, upon what evidence? On what basis do we see a coming golden age for humanity like all of the spiritual groups are claiming? Many groups claim that we are about to become super spiritual. Based on what? The anger that we are growing every day? The war and violence spreading for every day? The greed and dishonesty that is intensifying daily? How are these qualities going to take us to greater heights of spirituality? What about in our own lives? How is lust going to take us to the state of being of an Angel, a Buddha? Angels, Buddhas and Masters do not have lust or anger. They have other issues, but they do not have the animal ego that we have. This is the vital question for a Gnostic.
This relationship between what is outside and what is inside is determined completely by a presence of consciousness. In other words, if you want to have some influence over what happens when you die, start preparing right now by having an influence over the energy that passes through you. Your state of consciousness—modified or unmodified—is what determines what will happen to you when you die.
Learn to have your Essence present and in charge, this means that you are very aware of your three brains, you are aware that thoughts are there or not there, you are aware of what is happening with your psychological mood, your emotions, and you are aware of what is happening with impulses in your body, and yet that awareness is not identified, not attached, it is not craving or avoiding, it observes and then acts according to knowledge not ignorance. This means when impressions come from the exterior world or impressions come from the interior world, the consciousness is present and active, and can respond with harmony, knowledge, not knowledge from the world but knowledge from Gnosis, knowledge from God, intuitive knowledge, to know what is right and to do it. That kind of knowledge is not written in any book, it comes in the moment through intuition, through superior aspects of the three brains.
This means if we see something outside of us as disturbing, something that we want or something that we do not want, if the consciousness is managing the three brains, that impression is transformed; the consciousness says, “I see that and my ego feels agitated and wants it, he wants to take over my three brains to get that, but I, as a consciousness, relax and do not react and just observe, and listen to see the real answer from the heart, intuition, what is the right response.”
For example, imagine you are having an argument and someone you dearly love accuses you of something that penetrates straight into your heart and a terrible pain blossoms there. In most cases you will react immediately, because emotional impressions are extremely difficult to transform. Mechanically, automatically, we would react with the same quality—anger—and try to hurt that person the same way that they hurt us. So we start throwing words to hurt them, to get revenge. That is how we would respond, because we are asleep and not capable of consciously transforming the impression. Yet if you have trained to have your consciousness active in that moment, when the words come you will not be surprised, because to be trained in this way means that the consciousness is constantly watching, like the goalie in sports watching for that ball. In any instant that ball can come, so you have to constantly watch; nothing should ever surprise you. When your consciously transforming, those hurtful words will pass through you like smoke, like air, with no pain, because the consciousness does not have pride or anger. What it has is love. When the consciousness receives that impression and sees the person that you love, angry and throwing those words, you will feel love for them, you will feel concern for them, you will realize “This person I love is suffering, I must have done something to hurt them, or someone did, whether is their own ego hurting them or me hurting them or someone else, what can I do to help them?” Instead of reacting with anger and pride, craving and aversion, you will react with love. Is not that what we want? Is not that the purpose of religion? That is what all of this boils down to.
These diagrams, terms and charts might look complicated, but really they are not. When you put it in action in your life, it is very simple. It comes down to this: pay attention always. Pure attention, pure perception, unmodified, is consciousness. But you have to that gauge in yourself because when we start learning this, it takes time to get a taste of what real consciousness is. Many people learn what they call “self-observation” but it is really a behavior of their personality, or an ego. They do not learn to observe with the unmodified consciousness, but with a modified portion. Many people build an ego of pride or shame that they feel is self-observation. It is not. Real self-observation is selfless, empty, open. There is no sense of I in it.
Real self-observation is not something anyone can teach you. You have to learn it yourself, through practice, to get the taste of it, the feeling of it, the experience of it. You will know it is real through the experience of something like the example like I just gave you, through cause and effect. Do not lie to yourself. Be sincere, be honest. The future of your soul is its stake, that is how important it is: your future. Future of gradual work upwards to have liberated consciousness or future descending in to more and more conditioned consciousness, more suffering. The difference is right here and now, we are determining that trajectory. So learn the difference between ego, Essence and personality. That is what is going to make the difference to determine what happens when you die.
Now let us explain something quickly and then we will end the lecture.
The question is, finally, “Who dies?” We have studied ego, Essence and personality in us, so when we die, who dies? We know that the physical body dies, and I already mentioned that the personality goes with that, it dies also.
What happens with the ego and the Essence? These are energies that are in motion that cannot be destroyed by physical death. So when our physical body dies these two are enmeshed with each other. The Essence is trapped in the ego. The trajectory of that cause and effect energy is what determines where we go. So who dies? The personality dies, the body dies, but the Essence and the ego are projected onwards because of Karma: cause and effect. So the results depend on us. What are the causes that we put into motion? We will receive those effects, without question. If every day we are projecting through our actions a stream of pride, a stream of envy, a stream of lust, that is what we will reap, so the question is for us, “What do we want?”
If we want to be liberated from suffering, we have to start right now liberating ourselves from suffering: from pride, anger, envy, lust, gluttony, greed, laziness.
To be prepared for death has these two fundamental parts: self-cognizance, and work on the ego. It cannot succeed without both of these in motion. There are many groups that teach you how to be self-observant, how to be self-cognizant, how to pay attention and be present in the moment. That is great. If they do not teach you how to work on the ego you not going to get anywhere. You need both. On the other hand if people teach you how to work on the ego but they do not teach you how to be present, you also cannot get far because if you remain asleep and not aware you are creating more ego. So those two aspects must work in harmony with each other.
Questions and Answers
Audience: Why is the ego often related with animality ? The animals have ego?
Instructor: We have humanoid bodies, so our evolutionary progression has passed through the lower kingdoms, including the animal kingdom. The mind that we have was developed there. Humanoids are what we call “intellectual animals.” We are just animals with intellect. So our mind is an animal mind, instinctive, filled with all the qualities of animals. That is why. The ego is animal in us, is the all animal characteristics. We have to eliminate that and become human, which means to conquer the animal part, remove it, and develop the human part. A real human being is a Master. A real human being is an Angel or a Buddha. We are only the potential for that, we are not human beings yet. We are just animals who have a sense of self. If you look at our behavior you can see that, actually in many ways we are worse than animals. Most animals still respect the laws of nature, we do not. Most animals do not pollute their own nest or destroy their own food supply, yet we do.
Audience: … you said that we should self-observe… the ego works through the personality…
Instructor: The Essence also can work through the personality …
Audience: … my prejudice of my personality of culture [and whatever] … how am I look in terms of what am I reflecting, my ego is working through my prejudice, and my personality is Christian, or Muslim [or whatever] the prejudice is taking over the personality so where is the separation really of …
Instructor: When the Essence is engaged and active it uses the personality as its mask, as its instrument to engage with the world. In that case the Essence is using the personality, thus the personality becomes passive, is no longer as active. When the ego is using it, the personality becomes very big and fat and is full of all of the cultural characteristics that the personalty is engaged with. But on the other hand when the Essence is active, that personality becomes very passive.
In the case of self-observation, when the Essence is activated and engaged, it observes the personality and uses the personality, but consciously. So then the language, the culture and all of that serves as a vehicle to express the Being inside, to express divinity; it still uses personality. Eventually that personality has to be destroyed and that is what happens in the final stages of a great Master expressing themselves.
Audience: We have to see what the mistake was through the personality so we do not repeat it, that what the work is …
Instructor: The difference is this. The personality is temporary, related with time. The important work is not on the personality, is on the Ego. Personality is going to die no matter what, so I suggest rather than focusing on working on the personality, work on the ego, which is what drives the personality.
Instructor: Again, personality is related with cultural characteristics, our cultural tastes. The ego is what drives it, so there is a distinction between these two. It may be that in many cases we start by analyzing the personality in order to find the ego that is driving it. That is perfectly valid, and in a lot of cases you will need that. I am not saying to disregard or avoid the personality; you need to be aware of it, but I have observed a certain tendency in some groups or teachers to focus so much on personality they do not work on the underlying causes, and that can be the problem. An example of that is that in certain spiritual groups and there is a lot of effort on modifying the personality in order to create a spiritual appearance; they mistake this for work on the ego. So in those groups you cannot dress a certain way, you cannot eat a certain way, you cannot talk a certain way, so all the students change their personalities. Then they feel, “Oh, I am doing good now, because I am not eating those foods that I am not suppose to eat, and I am wearing white clothes all the time like I am supposed to wear, and I am talking the way I am supposed to, and I am standing and being like a gentlemen or a lady all the time,” and they think that is spiritual progress. And it is not. It is just superficial modifications to personality. That can be very deceptive. It can deceive you into thinking “I am doing good now.” This is only one example. There are many other ways this happens.
Audience: We receive emotional impressions so quickly, when someone insults us we feel it immediately. How do we catch it, because it almost feel like a millisecond that we feel the pain or the hurt, the ego, the pain comes almost immediately.
Instructor: The impressions are transformed through these five centers or three brains very rapidly and the emotion is one of the hardest. To transform emotional impressions takes an extended period of training and also to have the consciousness very strong. I gave an example in other lectures that you might remember, that the consciousness has the capacity to perceive without the interference of time. It sounds contradictory, but when the Essence is fully engaged and active you can perceive the impression before it arrives. It sounds weird but it happens and it can happen if you are trained. It can also happen in very strong experiences, like near death experiences or very traumatic experiences, when time changes its shape, time slows down. The basic point is, if you are unprepared, just do your best. With emotional impressions, it is extremely difficult, very difficult. That is why in the beginning we usually start working with the intellect. We all think that the intellect is really fast, but it is actually the slowest of the three brains, so generally that is why we work with thoughts, working on thought, working on concept, working there to start calming the mind, slowing the mind, developing some serenity because we are going to need that serenity to deal with the more difficult issues of lust and emotion, which are much faster and more powerful than intellect. So just train, be patient, little by little we start to get experience.
Audience: I was wondering about how [in this culture …] live longer physically but the people are losing their mind, like in dementia or Alzheimer’s disease that in one moment you are interacting with the person that you know and sometimes the persons can not remember themselves, who they were, and that is are not the person that you know … I wonder, is the personality starting to die or the ego is starting to leave the vehicle, … that kind of process that is occurring …
Instructor: The process of dementia and Alzheimer’s is very similar to what happens in a schizophrenic and other types of mental disabilities. What happens there is that the personality becomes fractured, it becomes dislocated, and if that psychological trauma deepens, even the mental body itself can become dislocated. What happens then, more specifically in the case of schizophrenia, which is much more pronounced result, is that the person, the physical body is just the vessel through which all the egos start to express, without the personality being there, much at all. So that is why you can be dealing with a person who has either multiple personalities disorder, schizophrenia, dementia, or Alzheimer’s, and they seem to be a different person from event to event, moment to moment, day to day; they seem to change. They have totally different way of expressing, different language, they do not remember things and that is because the Essence is not there. What is there are egos, which are all the different modified parts of Essence. Every Ego has its own will, its own memories, its own desires. The personality, being fractured, cannot contain them; the mask or vessel is broken. It is more pronounced when that psychological trauma has also dislocated the mental body. In that case there is clairvoyance, even the vital body can be dislocated, which is related with the personality. So that person who is experiencing dementia or schizophrenia starts to actually perceive their own infernal worlds (subconsciousness). They are engaging with and talking to projections of their mind—effigies, Egos, mental representations—so they are start talking to people that you do not see. If you ever see a person walking on the street talking to themselves (it may not be on a cell phone) they could be talking to a projection of their own mind, an ego, an effigy, even an elemental force; it is complicated. So the personality is important in that way because it is a mask or a vessel that help contain all of the psychological forces. If that becomes broken is very difficult for a person to do this kind of work, maybe impossible.
Audience: How does the physiology of the brain affect ego and personality? We know that there are chemicals in the brain that can affect movement, things like that, parts of the brain that can be damaged and we are not the same anymore… How is that tied to the energetic things like ego and personality?
Instructor: Brain chemistry is interdependent with our psychological condition. They are interdependent with each other, meaning that they influence each other. If we have a strong ego of a type of psychological trauma like anger, that strong ego, especially if we have been feeding it a lot through our personality, can create in us what doctors call “depression.” Really, depression is repressed anger (in most cases). When that ego is inhabiting the body and controlling the three brains, it changes the brain chemistry and causes the brain to not produces certain substances that are needed in order for the neurons to function in the right way. That starts a cycle that degenerates and can lead to other disorders like bipolar, which can lead to other disorders like schizophrenia. So there is a trajectory here as I have been explaining. It is interdependent. So in some cases, there are medications or spiritual practices that can help alleviate the physiological part, but if you do not work on the psychological part, you will never fix the problem. A lot of the medication that is used nowadays for the psychological problems stupefy the person so that they no longer have the ability to be conscious or cognizant of themselves, and it puts them in a kind of catatonic state. It is sort like psychological band-aid, but does not solve anything. The only solution for these types of psychological problems is to get to the root, which is the anger, the pride, whatever it is that produces that depression or the other characteristics. Brain chemistry is involved with many psychological elements, I just gave depression as one example.
Audience: Is there virtues in the personality that overlap within the Essence that when we die [ …] Essence and is desire Lucifer?
Instructor: Virtues that we develop, if they are real virtues, always belong to the soul. They can express through the personality, and if a person when they are growing up, when they are young has the training or the environment within which those virtues can express, then that personality can form as a vehicle for those virtues. But that depends on the karma, it depends on the person.
If you in the past you have developed the virtue of chastity, let us say that you in the past were part of a religious group and you worked on chastity, and then you are born into this existence, your environment determined by karma would have to allow that chastity to continue. If it does not, your personality will form in a different way and the environment will form in a way that that chastity will be contradicted. But if you are born in a good environment, that chastity can influence the development of the personality and help you. It depends on your karma.
The second question is about desire. Is desire Lucifer? No. Lucifer uses desire. Lucifer is a psychological trainer. Lucifer itself, the name, means “the bearer of light.” Lucifer is energy, an intelligence. To train us, to fix our problems, Lucifer uses desire, through temptation, in order to teach us about suffering. Usually we fail. But Lucifer is not the same thing as desire.
Audience: Is it possible to view your other past incarnations personalities to gain knowledge or is there … knowledge …
Instructor: Yes, you can learn about your past personalities, whether or not there is real knowledge to be gain from that, depends on how you transform the impression. I think in most cases that if any of us were to meditate and find up about our past personalities we will probably build a lot of pride or shame instead of transforming that impression for real knowledge. So it seems to me that many students are helped by their Innermost and given knowledge about past existences but without knowledge about personalities. So we might learn about events, we might learn about psychological tendencies that we developed in past existences, but I think in some cases the Being does not show us our past personalities purposely. It depends on the person. Of course, in the case of Samael Aun Weor he learned about many of his past existences and those personalities because he had to learn about the karma involved in all of them. And any of us who are sincere will reach that stage. The point I am trying to make is do not be fascinated with personalities because they all fade away and die. What matters is the quality of your soul.
Audience: … experiencing emotions like anger unlike you analyze why, is there an trigger or you find out the causes for that and so you try to avoid these causes, avoid those triggers, [during …] certain environments that you know that [… are bad?] avoidance is instead strengthening those egos or should you face those triggers and the environments which really […] ?
Instructor: It is inevitable in every students process of developing these skills that you have to learn to measure the resistance of your experiences. You have to learn to measure what you can handle and take on what you can handle. There is a very fine line to balance here. So, for example, if you have discovered in yourself, like you mentioned, certain triggers that provoke negative states in yourself, it can be useful to avoid those states, avoid the triggers, until the time you are prepared to transform them and handle them. But there is a fine line, because we can start to avoid it simply because we do not want do deal with it. So if you are going to avoid a certain psychological trigger make sure you are meditating on that trigger so you can comprehend it, because then you do not have to avoid it any more. When you really comprehend it, it will not affect you.
The other side is some people will start to indulge in them, to go after those psychological triggers, to provoke themselves and they say “I am a Gnostic, I need this trigger for my ego so I can work on myself.” This is foolish. There, instead of avoiding, they are really just indulging in it. So it is craving and aversion phenomenon happening there. The answer is to measure resistance, and the way to do this is explained in “The Revolution of the Dialectic” by Samael Aun Weor. What he explains in synthesis is when you have a goal, you need to analyze the goal, you need to determine what the resistance to you it is going to be, and you need to find a way to overcome that. Overcoming it is dependent on knowledge, cognizant knowledge, not ignorance. This means that you have to meditate and you have to comprehend. It takes time and effort, especially if it is a strong trigger; that can take time.
The other thing that is important to remember here is that Lucifer, who is the one who is managing the karma, to teach us, to train us, will always give us things that we do not want to deal with, always. That is the nature of the work. So when you are doing this type of work you have to become accustomed to dealing with it. Not avoiding, not indulging, just dealing with it, accepting it, transforming it. Sometimes you will fail, in fact a lot. But do not give up. Do not avoid it, do not indulge in it. Accept things as they are and meditate a lot. Little by little you get a cadence or a kind a rhythm where, yes, things are painful, you are suffering, you are hurting, you are always dealing with a lot of bitterness in your life but you are starting to comprehend things and that matters. So, there is a psychological balance that has to be achieved and it is not easy to get there. Be patient.
Audience: Is part of the the personality inherited ?
Instructor: Yes, absolutely. The personality is determined pretty much by karma so yes, it is inherited in that sense. It is inherited also in the sense that you are acquiring a lot of characteristics from your family, country, culture, language, education. But inheritance comes also from your past existences.
Audience: How do you deal with strong personalities and good personalities for example his thing is to grab his pants and spit so you have all of America copying this guy …
Instructor: Well, I agree that one of the main things that is happening nowadays is the influence of strong personalities through culture. It has become much powerful that ever has been, and we are seeing that in music, movies, TV, all kind of influences that are coming at us. The way you deal with this is you comprehend. You have to see those things for what they are, and that is why we study these elements ego, Essence and personality. When you see behaviors, analyze “Is this behavior related with the Essence, related with God, or not.” Then it comes down to what you want. If you want social acceptance and cultural acceptance, then you can go right along with that personality influence, and you will be accepted in society, but I do not know if the Gods will accept you behaving that way, in the sense that I do not know if you will achieve the goal of spirituality.
Audience: In that sense … using the personality in the right way like a lot of times that kind of personality is coming towards me although ….
Instructor: We will need to make a distinction between avoidance or aversion and discrimination. Discrimination is different. We have the tendency to avoid things that are unpleasant. But as a spiritual practitioner, as someone who is aspiring to spiritual development, we need to develop a lot of discrimination, which means that we need to learn how to choose the influences that are acting on us. Let us say, for example, you have a job where you have to deal with a lot of unpleasant situations and that is just your job. You may have just to deal with that. That may be something that you have to deal with. But, for example, if you have friends who invite you to go out drinking, then you need to discriminate: are these friends going to be a good influence or a bad influence? Or what about choosing a book to read, or music to listen to, or a show to watch? These type of activities need discrimination: is this music beneficial or is this harmful? Let us not confuse aversion with discrimination. That has to be very clear. So I think in the context of your question apply discrimination to that. You do not have to go and do a lot of things that you do. A lot of us do things because we feel socially obligated or obligated to family, and we do not want to look bad, tinking, “My whole family is going to do this thing and I do not want to do it because I know that it is going to be bad for me, but I feel like I have to go.” No, you do not have to go. Or, for example, your whole family is going to eat pork and you know you should not eat pork. You do not have to eat it. They might all get mad, so what? That is discrimination, not avoidance.
Audience: What is the difference between Buddhist psychology and Gnostic psychology and is Sikhism compatible with Gnosis?
Instructor: In their essence all these three traditions are are the same tradition. There is no fundamental difference between Buddhist psychology, Sikhism, and Gnosticism, they are all, in essence, the same. There are some differences in the terminology, and if you look at certain schools of Buddhism or Sikhism, you might find things that appear contradictory, but if you study them with consciousness and put them into practice, you will find that they are exactly the same, there is no difference.
In the previous lecture I recommended that you meditate on death and the process of dying and I would suggest that still is a useful practice to do, to spend a few minutes during the day in meditation, in reflection, not doing anything else, closing your eyes and visualizing your own death. Again, do not visualize a car crash or getting cancer or something like that, but actually visualize the process of dying, how life leaves the body. This is really important. We need to lessen our attachment to this body and this exercise of consciously observing the process of death in yourself can teach you about the Essence, about what your Essence is and what it is not, it is very useful.
Secondly, I recommend that you work very hard trying to discover how your Essence works and what it is. Put a lot of effort and energy into what it is to be conscious, what it is to be observant. There are many lectures and books about this, specificallyRevolutionary Psychology, Revolution of the Dialectic, and The Great Rebellion. These three have all of the tools that you need. And there is a lecture called The Key of S.O.L., which will also help. It is very important that you grasp what is the Essence. Do not to get caught in the terminology, but learn to experience the energy of it in your life and learn how to work with it constantly, not just every Saturday, but in every event. This is the training that you need to understand in the rest the lectures I am going to give. If you are not understanding in your experience what Essence is, the rest of the lectures will not make any sense to you.
Instructor: There are a few more things about death that I want to talk about. Today I want to set up the psychological parameters.
In order to understand death and dying and how to die, you need to understand your Essence, and you need to understand your ego, and you need to understand your personality. If you are confused about those three—not conceptually but energetically in your experience in the moment—then the process of death will be a mystery to you. To really learn how to die cognizantly, you need to kow what the Essence is and how to use it so that in that moment you are Essence not ego and not confused by personality. This is how important it is. All of us are going to die so I am hoping in these lectures to prepare you for that. Look at the people right now who are dealing with death and are not prepared; they are many, not just in events around the world, but in my personal life there are several people right now who are facing death, and that is why this topic came up, it was asked at me to teach this. So it is real.
Audience: How many hours do Gnostics meditate per day?
Instructor: It depends on the person. A beginning student will meditate as much as they are interested in learning. We recommend to start trying for 10 to 15 minutes a day at least—in the evening, meditate and relax. Some students who are more experienced will meditate for an hour or two. A well-trained student will meditate five to six hours a day. A very serious student who is fully committed to it will not sleep, he will meditate. By meditation I am not referring to self-observation, self-remembering, walking meditation, mantra, nor any other kind of practice: I am talking focused observation of phenomena. Eyes not open, the body is not active, the ego is being observed, the personality is not there; this is just consciousness active and observing and learning—real meditation. We do a lot of preparatory exercises, such as Pranayamas, mantras, and Runic practices, many types of things to prepare consciousness and strengthen consciousness, but these are not meditation, they are preliminary. Real meditation is something else. It is a state of Essence, a state of consciousness that is beyond the body, beyond thought, beyond emotion, beyond any kind of sensation in the body. Real meditation is something else.
To understand death you need that experience of meditation. If you can meditate well, death will be easy. By meditating well I mean if you can enter Samadhi at will, then if you train yourself to be prepared for it, you can enter death as a Samadhi. Then, death it is not a big deal.