This is the fourth lecture in our series of lectures about death. As such, we are building on the concepts that we have established previously. It is important that you have heard those lectures and contemplated their contents in order to understand today’s talk.
Today, we are getting into the difficult part, the real depth of this information. To quickly summarize what we have been talking about, life and death are an integrated whole. They cannot be separated from one another. The ability to be alive depends upon and relies upon the existence of death. Life and death are two sides of one phenomena. And because of that, because we are in living bodies, we must die. This is unavoidable. In fact, it is normal. It is natural.
As we have been explaining in previous lectures, death is nothing to be feared but should be instead embraced, harnessed, utilized as a gateway to a better life. This is the ultimate point of spirituality: how to harness life and death in order to elevate life and death, in order to project our mindstream to a higher level of living and a higher level of dying, in order to ascend into greater knowledge.
Obviously, this philosophy is directly opposed to the current of our culture, which seeks instead to deepen our fear, attachments, and therefore, our suffering. So, for us to comprehend life and death from the context of real spirituality, it takes a great revolution in our way of thinking, in our way of feeling, but mostly in our way of perception. We have to change how we see in order to comprehend what life and death really mean.
In that context, we need to understand that, as life and death are one integrated whole, and spirituality is about the transformation of life and death in order for us to ascend into a higher level, we need to know how to do it. Merely believing in spirituality or thinking about spirituality does not make it so. What makes it happen is action—conscious action that is informed by knowledge, conscious action that knows how to produce the effects that we want.
Everything is managed by cause and effect. If we are seeking a particular goal, we need to know how to achieve that goal, and it is not through beliefs or theories. That is why we need to understand why we must die. We need to understand why death is a requirement in nature, why death is unavoidable, and in fact, must be harnessed.
Where We Are Going
We study this map called the Tree of Life or Kabbalah, and there are many variations on this image or graphic. It is just a symbol that represents the interplay of matter and energy in different densities in nature. It represents that Nature is outside of us and inside of us. This Tree of Life maps not only the exterior world but also our interior world. As such, it illustrates a way of understanding life and death, a way of understanding how we have come to be, and where we are going.
All of these spheres represent worlds, both inner worlds that are inside of us, and outer worlds outside of us. There is a correspondence between what is inside of us and what is outside. They are directly related.
Our experience of the world is determined by what we are inside, psychologically. The alcoholic experiences life through the lens of alcohol. The sex addict experiences life through the lens of addiction to lust. The fanatic—whether political, spiritual, or of any type—experiences life through the lens of fanaticism. We all experience life through a lens. That lens is our mind. Our mind is represented on this graphic of the Tree of Life. But the level of mind that we have is very low because it is corrupted by ignorance, by craving, by aversion. This is what we explained in the previous lecture.
Ignorance, craving, and aversion are the three poisons at the root of suffering, and from the three poisons come all the rest of the causes of suffering, whether we call them the five poisons, the seven sins, the ten unwholesome deeds, etc. There are many different ways that you can categorize or conceptualize the immense complexity of desire, ego, defects, etc.
Here on this graphic, all of that is represented by the world of Klipoth, which is generally called Hell. That exterior world of hell, which is an actual place, is directly related to the interior world of hell, which is our subconsciousness, unconsciousness, and infraconsciousness, the submerged depths of our minds, within which we have all of the consequences of our previous actions related with desire: anger, lust, pride, envy, greed, gluttony, etc—all of those discursive psychological aggregates that are at the root of suffering. Thus, we are bound to repeat the contents of our mind. This is what is called samsara, cyclic existence; we are trapped in it, bound to it, because of our actions, because of our behavior.
“Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.” – John 8:34
We repeat and repeat and suffer continually because of our ignorance about the consequences of our actions. Nonetheless, it does not have to be that way. There is another path, another way to live life and to experience death. Suffering is not the only option. That is why we have spirituality, religion, dharma, all the different teachings which in their essence express the same content: radically transform your mind and you will radically transform living and dying.
That transformation of mind is inside not outside. It is a change of perspective, a change of how we see, a change of attitude, and mostly a change of behavior: external behavior and internal behavior. Why is this all important? Because everything is in motion.
This glyph or map that we look at is not static or still. It is highly dynamic. All the parts of this image are moving at all times, inside of us, as a constant motion set into activity by our activity psychologically. How we act, how we behave, how we think, how we feel, puts this in motion and determines its trajectory through space. This is basic karma: cause and effect. In other words, what we will be tomorrow is determined by how we act today. That action is not merely physical, it is psychological. It is how we use the mind, how we use the heart, how we use sex, how we use the body, how we use every particle of energy that passes through us.
In every moment we are transforming energy. We are part of a great cycle. Visualize this: that there is a great wheel in motion. Nature works in cycles, continual cycles, but that cycle in motion does not spin in one position. It spins in motion through space. It makes a spiral, and that spiral does not move in one direction through space. It has infinite capacity to move in any direction. This is our mindstream. This is the thread or current of our energy through time and space. All of our past actions have built a spiral motion through time and space. All of our actions today project and modify that trajectory through time and space. Moreover, this cycle is the cycle of today, from when we wake to when we sleep. It is the cycle of this life, from being born to dying. It is the cycle from death to the next birth. It is the cycle from existence to existence, from body to body. It is a huge, complex, intertwined thread of actions and consequences of which we are completely ignorant. This is critical to comprehend. To comprehend this complex intertwined series of actions and consequences is the very basis of self-realization, of self-knowledge. The Buddha Shakyamuni characterized it as twelve interlocking sets of actions and consequences. Each interlocking piece is both an action and consequence. In Pali, it is called the Twelve Nidanas, the chain of causality or dependent origination. In Sanskrit pratitya-samutpada. It is a very complex yet equally beautiful teaching about the nature of existence.
The Twelve Nidanas form the outer ring of the Bhavachakra, the Wheel of Becoming.
That cycle of action and consequence encompasses the entire Tree of Life on every level, all the way up to the Absolute, which is the Emptiness, the Reality from which everything emerges.
What I am trying to put into an image for you is how beautifully complex your existence is. It is not just about bills and rent and a job and sex and money. We have a reason to be alive. We also have a reason to die. And we need to understand those things so that we can take full advantage of life and death and realize their purpose.
We are on a great wheel. The wheel is related with our psychology and the movement of our mind through time and space. We are part of another great wheel, the wheel of evolution or the wheel of nature. So, just as we have an internal wheel, which is the recurrent cycles of energy that move through our psychology, we are part of the great wheel in nature, and we have been for eternities.
The wheel of becoming is how mechanical nature exists. It is the process of evolution and devolution. It is how energy first comes out of the Absolute (the Nothingness, Shunyata, the Ain Soph). Sparks of energy enter into mechanical evolution, first elaborating the simplest particles, gradually becoming over aeons more complex as minerals. Those minerals gradually evolve to plants. The plants over millions of years gradually evolve to animals. And so we see the vast incredible beauty of nature, which is a great cycle of life and death. Everything in nature is born and dies.
We need to become aware of two interconnected, interdependent currents: a current of matter and a current of energy that intertwine around each other like the threads of a rope. In physical world, there are physical minerals, there are physical plants, there are physical animals. And in the physical world, those physical bodies are evolving over countless aeons through great cosmic rounds of life and death. There are processes of evolution where these bodies, physical bodies gradually develop and change according to all the laws of nature. But those bodies are not the souls. Souls enter into and exit those bodies as they experience birth and death. The bodies are born, they sustain for a while, and they die. Consciousness enters a body lives in it till that body dies. The consciousness leaves and goes to its next body, according to its Karma.
So we see two intertwined threads: the physical bodies and the consciousness. They are not the same, they are different. Why does this matter? We were once animals. We were once plants. We were once minerals. Our consciousness, over millions of years, evolved through those bodies. Little by little, we were born and died, over and over, until our consciousness graduated to the next level. So we have moved through millions of bodies, millions of births and deaths, in the mineral kingdom, in the plant kingdom, in the animal kingdom, gradually entering more and more sophisticated bodies so that our consciousness could gather more and more sophisticated knowledge. This is the point. Over millions of years, our spark of consciousness gradually evolved, acquiring experience, acquiring knowledge, at the level of elementals, which all these creatures are, minerals, plants and animals. They are elementals of nature.
After this long process of evolution, we enter into humanoid bodies. A humanoid is merely an animal that has acquired an intellect. It is merely an animal that can reason, compare, that begins to have the possibility of developing individual will.
All of us are animals with intellect. The majority of our mind is animal, instinctive, only concerned about security, money, lust, and power. Those of us who take life seriously, as a platform to ascend to another level beyond this level, understand that the animal capacities are what degenerate us, and that to elevate our soul to a higher level, we have to conquer the animal nature and cultivate and grow human nature, which is reflected in all the virtues that our religions have been teaching us: altruism, conscious selfless love, compassion, patience, acceptance, tolerance—qualities that we as intellectual animals struggle to develop. It is easy for us to be angry. It is not easy for us to be harmonious and serene, because the human in us is tiny. It is an embryo. It is not developed.
Occasionally, in our history, we have met real human beings: Jesus, Krishna, Buddha, Quetzalcoatl, Moses, Padmasambhava, Milarepa, Joan of Arc. These are examples of real human beings who radiated true human qualities. Those human qualities are not developed automatically in the mechanical wheel of evolution and devolution. Those qualities, those virtues are not developed in the course of day-to-day existence. They are developed by conscious application of willpower to dominate, control, and eliminate the animal nature. That is why in the humanoid kingdom is the only possibility to enter into conscious evolution, to become an angel, a buddha, a master, a bodhisattva, a deva whatever name you want to use for a real human being. Only humanoids can enter that conscious evolution.
So we see two streams of evolution: the mechanical one of nature, and the conscious one of the heavens.
What I am trying to illustrate for you is that life and death is a process through which we develop ourselves. As we have ascended through this lower kingdoms, we have taken bodies, and then abandoned them for better ones. With the mind that we have now, to be in a body of a mineral would be horrible suffering. And if we return back down this wheel through the process of hell, we will experience that. For the mind that we have now to be in a body of a plant or in a body of an animal would be a horrible suffering. And if we don’t step off the wheel of mechanical evolution, we will experience that suffering. That is what hell is. It is degrading, a devolution, a return back, a regression, a decay.
In life, now, we are at the top of the wheel of mechanical evolution. Mechanically, automatically, we can not go any further up. Nature can not take us any further. Nature is done with what it can give us. Nature has given us these physical bodies which are right at the peak of this era’s possible mechanical evolution. Nature has given us protoplasmic bodies, which are the psychological bodies of our heart and mind: the lunar astral body and the lunar mental body, which are really animal bodies, they are animal mind given to us by nature. They belong to nature and nature will take them back, the same way that nature will take back our physical body. Nature will take back our mind, that is what hell is. It is nature taking back its elements the way it takes back a physical body and decomposes it. It will also do that with our mind. But if we exercise conscious will and learn the science to harness that will and step off this wheel of mechanical nature, we can enter into another level, the level of a human being. And there, none of it is mechanical, no development just happens automatically.
To enter conscious evolution is a process of conscious steps of advancement. It does not happen by itself just because you have joined a church, temple or a group; you will not reach the heights just because you belong to a group. Everyone who ascends those levels has to become “a child of their own deeds,” what we call an Adept or Master, a master of oneself.
Life and death are the process by which these elements of our psychology provide us the opportunity to change.
We explained previously the difference between essence, ego and personality. Essence is pure unmodified consciousness, and has no animal desires. Ego is modified consciousness. Our consciousness is trapped in psychological habits and tendencies that are harmful even if they appear good on the surface. Personality is the mask through which they both work. We need to remember these factors.
- 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.
As we explained in the previous lecture, when we die, we abandon the physical body and the vital body. Then our mindstream, modified by its conditioning, is projected into its next possible evolutionary stage, which is determined by our state of mind. Meaning that, our mind-heart, our psychological state when projected through the betweens, that which lies between death and a new birth, experiences a range of states, and those states provide for an opportunity for change.
Now we come to the point of this lecture.
Kaya: The Bodies of the Buddha
I will quote now the first lines of a very famous book. Most people know it as “the Tibetan Book of the Dead.” That is not the actual name. The actual name is “The Great Liberation by Hearing in the Intermediate States.” The first lines of this very important scripture says, as a prayer:
“I bow down to the spiritual teachers, embodiment of the three buddha bodies: to the dharmakaya, the buddha body of Reality, infinite light, Amitabha; to the sambhogakaya, buddha body of perfect resource, the peaceful and wrathful lotus deities; and to Nirmanakaya, the buddha body of emanation, Padmakara, protector of all beings.”
Many people think that they can read these scriptures and comprehend them without understanding the exact meaning of all these terms. That is impossible. We need to understand what the words mean and how they relate to us, to our psychology, and what they mean in nature.
The Tree of Life is a glyph or map of our inner constitution. This glyph or map appears in every religion, but in different forms. You find it represented in different ways in Taoism, Buddhism, and in Hinduism.
We are here in the physical body, with our mind. On the Tree of Life, the physical body is represented as the sephirah Malkuth. The physical body is not our only body. I also told you about the protoplasmic bodies that we received from nature that serve as vehicles of mind. We experience them as feelings and thoughts. We experience the protoplasmic bodies when we dream. The body you use when dreaming is your protoplasmic matter, your mental-astral body. It is not physical, it is a body that lives and abides in the fifth dimension, the world of dreams. It is ductile, flexible, it can pass through walls. It can fly. It can teleport. It has many abilities that the physical body lacks. But it is only an animal body. It is an elemental body. It is essentially the same as the mind-heart of a dog or a cat. It is only slightly more evolved through nature, and the difference is very marginal.
We think we are very elevated and great. We are not. If you look at the state of our planet, we can see how great we are. Our greatest accomplishment is the massive production of war and destruction, institutionalized corruption, greed, lust. We do not see the artists of this humanity celebrating our potential virtues by giving us art, music, and stories about virtues, about conscious love, about the potentials for spirit to the infinite degree of purity. What our artists make for us is garbage that focuses on how to kill, how to indulge in all of our animal passions, that stimulate our envy and make us desire more. This is our level of being as a humanity: animal, instinctive, ruled by cravings and fears.
These protoplasmic bodies, our astral body and mental body, are animal bodies. They are not human. A Master, an Angel, who observes our inner bodies—in other words our internal psychological state—sees them as animals with the faces corresponding to our own psychological idiosyncrasy. Inside this, inhabiting these bodies, is the spark of essence that we have, the consciousness. In sanskrit, it is called Tathagatagarbha, which means the “embryo of the buddha” or buddha nature. It is this seed that has been evolving through all the cycles of nature for millions of years to acquire knowledge, to finally acquire this precious resource of a human body and to have the potential to realize its true nature, which is not animal. Our true nature is not animal. Our true nature is not instinct for survival, sex, or procreation. That is not our true nature. That is the nature of animal, which is only one phase of the evolution through which we pass.
Our true nature relates to where that spark originally came from before it entered into evolution millions of years ago. That spark of essence, that buddha nature, emanated from the Absolute, from the emptiness, from the divine. That is what is deep inside every particle of our Being. However, that light has become obscured by desire, anger, pride, fear, fanaticism, dogma, culture, philosophy, and personality. Yet if we acquire the capacity to harness our consciousness now, in the moment, continually making the effort to be present and watchful, separating the consciousness from the cage that binds it, which is the sense of “I,” that separation gives us the capacity to start to realize the true nature of the buddha nature, what some traditions call “soul”. By soul here we do not just mean the vehicles that the consciousness uses. Sometimes we use soul in that way. By soul here I mean what most people mean by soul, which is our true self.
What is our true nature? Is it the country we come from, the language we speak? Is it being a man or being a woman? Is it being a Hindu or Buddhist or Christian? Being an American, European, Australian, Indian? None of this has anything to do with reality. All of this is temporary. Every one of us has been many races. We have all been men and women. We have all been humanoids. We have been animals. We have been plants. We have been minerals. That is why the Zen master says: ” Show me your original face.” None of us know that face. That is why we suffer. Our original face; where is our original face through all of the millions of years of evolution we passed through? In each body, we have become identified with that body and we think it is our true self. In the same way that now, we put on a new set of clothes and we say: “This is the real me.” Forgetting that in a few days, a few months, we will throw those clothes away for another set of clothes and think: “Oh these new clothes are really the real me.” We suffer from this fundamental state of ignorance, a mistaken notion of identity. We think we are the car we drive, the clothes we wear, the language we speak, the name we have, our memories, our tastes, and all of that is a collection of lies.
Our true nature is not our history. It is not our body (Malkuth). It is not the vital body (Yesod) which is the energy in that body. Our true nature is not our emotions (Hod), which is the astral body. Our true nature is not our thoughts; that is the mental body (Netzach). Our true nature is not even the consciousness (Tiphereth and Geburah), because that consciousness is an emanation or a spark from something else. Many say our true nature is Atman, which is here related with the sephirah Chesed, the Innermost. Now we are starting to get somewhere. Christianity calls this entity our Father. But ultimately, not even He is our true nature. That is why the Buddha taught the doctrine of Anatman: the Doctrine of No Self. Yes Atman, Chesed, our Innermost, is real and this is a root of our consciousness, but not the ultimate one, because even He depends on what He came from. Our Innermost, our Spirit, our inner father or inner Buddha came from his Buddha, his Father. Our inner Father has a Father. Our spirit has a source. So the real nature of our self is far beyond all of these things that we have been taught in our common religions. These deeper teachings have been withheld, and given only in the highest level of teaching, the esoteric level.
Above Chesed, the Innermost, we see three spheres that represents the trinity in every religion. The Christians call it Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Hindus call it Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva. In Buddhism, it is called Dharmakaya, Sambhogakaya, Nirmanakaya, the trikaya. Buddhism has four or five different ways of representing this aspect, just the same way every other religion does. In Kabbalah, Judaism, these three are Kether, Chokmah, Binah. Gurdjieff called them the holy affirming, the holy denying and the holy concilliating. The gnostics call this the Logos, the Word.
These three-in-one are the gateway to our real self. Our real self, our ultimate nature, is the Emptiness, the Absolute, the Ain Soph, Shunyata, which is the ultimate nature of everything. It is the fundamental ground of all existence. It is a state of pure potentiality, a state of pure happiness, absolutely unconditioned. At that level there are no laws except itself. It is Brahma in the fullest sense of that word. It is the ultimate state of reality, the true reality about which we have no clue. And that level, it is pure happiness, pure joy, pure being. It is life unconditioned by any restriction. It is the purest bliss, the purest interconnectedness of all things. It is a state so elevated and beautiful and sublime, it is incommunicable. It can never be described, or explained. It has to be experienced to be understood. It is that which we have always been longing for throughout all of our millions of lives. It is where we left, where we long to go back. It is our real life, our true nature.
The spark of light that left that state entered into evolution to gain knowledge of itself, to comprehend itself. It projected itself into existence, and this whole enormously complex series of worlds and universes and infinites exist for that reason. Every single particle in existence has within it a particle of that non-existence, the absolute. And at the end of a cosmic day, all of those particles will be reabsorbed back. So there is life and death at that level. Existence itself is born, lives, and dies. All the gods return back. Everything does. They all return back through the trikaya. The question is, when we go back, will we be conscious of it? Will we be cognizant, aware? And you can know the answer to that question right now. What happens when you go to sleep? All of us pretty much lose consciousness completely, because we are asleep physically. If you want to retain cognizance of what happens after death, and likewise at the end of your cosmic evolution, have cognizance of returning back to the absolute, you need to develop that power of consciousness, to be awake, to have cognizance of these levels.
When your own personal Tree of Life, which is you, is inhaled back into the nostrils of your inner god, at the end of your cosmic manifestation, will you be cognizant of that? It is not a question of what will the future be like; it is a question of how you are right now. We can make no predictions about the future. I know we all like to believe “one day I am going to be very spiritual and awake.” That is a deception. There is no future, there is no time, there is only now. If you intend to awaken, and be awake at the return to your Innermost, at the return to your trikaya, at the return to the Absolute, you must be awake now, because you do not know when that moment will be. And this is why Jesus said:
“Awaken, for you know not at what hour the Master will come.”
We need to be continually awake, watchful and ready.
These three kayas are very difficult to comprehend because they are very subtle and abstract. There are many ways to understand them and explain them, all equally true.
If you think about how complicated and sophisticated our physical body is, and that it is way down here at the bottom of the Tree of Life, and we have physical access to it with our senses—we can poke and prod it and measure it and analyze it all we want—but we still do not understand the physical body. We barely understand the body we are using everyday. Most of us have no idea what all the organs are in our body and how they work. This is proven by the garbage we keep eating and drinking, poisoning our body.
Then we hear about the vital body, the astral body, and the mental body. FOr most of us, these are just theories that very few of us have actually experienced. How many of us have worked with them consciously? How many have analyzed them and investigated them deeply to understand how they work? And even further, how many of us have experienced and analyzed the causal body, buddhic body, or atmic body? Very rare.
So, be prepared to take a while to comprehend the kayas. Their understanding does not come easily. But, I will give you a basic introduction to them.
Let me first explain “kaya” because all of these share the suffix kaya, which is Sanskrit. Kaya means body, but not merely in the material sense. It can imply a collection or essential aspect of something, much as we say “the body of knowledge.”
The most elevated, the first body on the Tree of Life, is the Dharmakaya. This word “dharma” is Sanskrit and has many meanings. We talk about gnosis or the spiritual teaching as dharma. Dharma means truth. It means law. It means reality. So dharmakaya is the reality body. And you can see its position on the Tree of Life, it is the gateway to the Absolute. It is the first manifestation, the first Logos, the Father, Kether (“crown”), the Crown of Life mentioned in the book of revelation.
Dharmakaya is the most subtle, elusive, beautiful aspect of our being. It is the first part that comes out of the Absolute. It is the first manifestation of the light that comes out of the Ain Soph. It is Kether. It is the reality body. It is the body that can return back into the Absolute, the unmanifested. It is omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent. If you ever think about the most elevated, beautiful angel or buddha that has ever existed, that is Dharmakaya. It is a type of beauty that is absolutely inexpressible, that is stunning and that will bring to your knees. The types of being that has a fully develop dharmakaya are like Jesus for the type of beauty and love that overwhelms universes with so much love. That is how powerful those bodies are.
The second kaya is the Sambhogakaya. Sambhoga is a Sanskrit term with very deep meanings. This kaya is called “the perfect resource body.” This is one definition or interpretation of Sambhoga. But Sambhoga is very deep in its implications, because the term “Sambhoga” in sanskrit can mean “enjoyment, pleasure, bliss”—exactly the same way we use the Hebrew word Eden. Most importantly, this word Sambhoga means “sexual enjoyment.” Anyone who has studied tantra will see the immediate relevance of that name Sambhogakaya, especially if you have studied the Tree of Life.
Sambhogakaya relates to the sephirah Chokmah, which in Christianity is called the Son. Chokmah is the world of Christ, compassion, Bodhichitta. Chokmah translated means “wisdom,” which in sanskrit is bodhi. This is the emergence of bodhichitta, which is the heart essence of a bodhisattva. A bodhisattva is a vehicle of Christ. Sambhogakaya represents all of the luminous qualities of Christ, all of those particles of light, of love, that Christ emanates.
Sambhogakaya is incredibly complex and beautiful. It is the highest form of wisdom that exists. It is the very wisdom mind of all buddhas, of all angels. If you were to visualize and imagine all of the angels and buddhas in existence, and imagine their minds, which are all love and knowledge, a knowledge that creates universes, that is Sambhogakaya. “Perfect resource” as translated into English. That perfect resource is the creative power, the knowledge that empowers creation for the benefit of others.
The third kaya, Nirmanakaya, means “creation body.” It is also called “manifestation body” because Nirmana can be translated as “construction, creation, manifestation.” This corresponds exactly to Kabbalah. Nirmanakaya relates with the sephirah Binah, which in Hebrew means “intelligence.” In Christianity, Binah is called the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the creative power of God, the Father-Mother, Abba-Ima, or Yab-Yum who brings life, who gives life.
In Kabbalah, we study four worlds. The trikaya relate with the world Atziluth, the first world, the world of archetypes. So these three kaya represent the archetypes in all things. We have inside of us our internal spiritual archetype, a blueprint of the buddha that we should become, the angel, the god, the master that we should be. But we are not. That blueprint is the three kaya in us. When we take seriously, daily, the science to realize our true nature, which is that blueprint, we begin to create that true god, that master who is in us. We are putting into motion the creative power of the three kaya in us, through us. That power is sexual and psychological. In other words, the reality body (Dharmakaya), using the knowledge of Sambhogakaya (perfect sexual enjoyment) creates through the Nirmanakaya (the manifestation or creation body) and thus the three kaya become Father-Mother, Yab-Yum. They create through, what is called in Hebrew, Daath, the Tree of Knowledge, Tantra. There is nothing animal there, no lust; instead, it is divine, pure sexuality. Krishna and his spouse represents this pure love of god and goddess, what in Hebrew are called Elohim: God-Goddess united to create universes, worlds, a soul, us, as a master.
“I am sex not contrary to dharma.” – Krishna, from the Bhagavad-gita 7.11
That means that the archetypes of the world of Atziluth has passed through that divine sexual act to create, which is the second world in Kabbalah called Briah, which means “creation.”
This is where we start to see the emergence firstly of Chesed, the son of the divine parents, which is Ganesha in Hinduism. This is why we see Shiva and Shakti with their son Ganesh. This is Isis and Osiris with their son Horus. So you see now this beautiful interplay of trinities and dualities of energies put in motion. The three kaya are what empower and facilitate all of that, but only if one knows how to walk the path: by harnessing our energies and working in harmony with the divine within us. We cannot behave as we have been: pursuing animal desire. We have to be pursuing the will of God, which is in us.
Now we have set the stage for you to understand what the three kaya really mean. As I have explained, the Dharmakaya is the reality body. It is that first emanation from the absolute, the Being of the Being, the vehicle through which we can experience and realize our true nature, which is the Absolute, the emptiness. The second, the Sambhogakaya, perfect resource body, is the knowledge, the wisdom of our innermost, our true nature. Finally, the Nirmanakaya is the emanation of those kaya, how they operate and create.
This matters, because as I said when I quoted the first three lines of the Tibetan Book of the Dead, the three kayas are at the base of everything. They are not just theories. They are not just fancy words. They are states of being that in us are undeveloped. But we can experience them and learn what benefits can be acquired through those experiences. This is why we learn meditation and dream yoga and how to be attentive from moment to moment in our daily lives, so that we can take advantage of the “betweens” or bardos.
As we explained in the previous lecture, if we know something of this science we can experience these first three betweens or states of being during our common lives. If we are ignorant of real spirituality—if we do not practice—we will not experience them.
Let me state that one more time. Tantric Buddhism presents six betweens—states of consciousness—that can be experienced by someone who is awakening consciousness. If we are not making the conscious effort everyday to awaken consciousness, we will not experience them consciously. We will experience them the way we all experience everything: asleep, mechanically tossed around by karma, in complete ignorance.
If we awaken everyday, we can start to consciously experience these states and use them as a tool that can help us reach another level.
The first three bardos are:
- the vigil state
- the dream state
- the meditation state
The vigil state is a state of vigilance, cognizant watchfulness from moment to moment. It means that one is constantly watching one’s mind, not just what is going on outside, not just counting the tiles on the floor, or counting the hairs at the end of your nose; but watching one’s mind, being cognizant of one’s self, of what we do, of what we think, of what we feel, and most importantly, how we deal with others. It is useless to be conscious of one’s self yet continue to be cruel and lustful. It is useless and harmful to be conscious of one’s self yet to continue to be angry and arrogant. Cognizance of one’s self should be accompanied by strong ethics—not morals, ethics: doing what is right, being humble, being kind, being generous, being diligent. That is the real vigil state that can transform us.
Likewise in the dream state, we must learn to be cognizant, not sleeping like an animal. We have to learn to be awake, consciously in control of our dreaming. In the same way that we are consciously in control of our physical bodies when we are up around in the vigil state, we should be consciously in control of our dream bodies, cognizantly directing the course of dreaming. This is called dream yoga. We need the skill in order to transform death.
Finally, the meditation state: to be cognizant in the meditation state, out of the body or in the body, perceiving reality. Real meditation is not spacing out. It is not a trance. It is not to be distracted, daydream, or fantasize. It is a state of consciousness that is bright, clear, watchful, deeply centered, and all perceiving—not with the eyes; not with the ears, not with the physical body, but with the consciousness, active and awake, whether in the body or out of the body. The real state of meditation perceives the facts as they are, and it is not limited by the physical senses, but it can go out, investigate anything in nature inside or outside. That is real meditation. It is not mantras or chanting, it is not daydreaming and fantasizing. It is conscious, pure perception of reality, not fantasy. This is real meditation.
These are the first three bardos (betweens) that we can work on now. This is why this science is so serious. It is not a game. It is difficult. It requires daily effort and a lot of relaxation and a lot of patience. Nonetheless, if we start learning to transform these three bardos, then we are preparing ourselves to take advantage of the three bardos that happen from death to a new birth. This is why it is so significant.
Why the Tibetan Book of the Dead Was Given to Humanity
“This introduction [to the means of awakening at the time of death] is made on behalf of those individuals who have good understanding [of consciousness], but do not yet have recognition [of the Absolute—the illuminating Void—in all appearances], as well as those who have gained recognition but have little familiarity [continuity of that recognition], and all ordinary persons who have received little experiential guidance. By means of [this introduction], such beings will, upon recognizing the inner radiance of the ground [of consciousness] attain the uncreated Buddha-body of Reality [dharmakaya], in an ascending and core-penetrating manner…” – Padmasambhava
In the same way that we go to sleep every night, we leave the body and we go into the world of dreams. That world is the same world as the world of the dead. Every time we go to sleep at night, we go into the world of fifth dimension, with our lunar astral-mental body. If we are unconscious of that, then we enter limbo, the world of the dead, seeing the projections of our own mind, not even seeing limbo; we are not even awake enough to see where we are. We are only seeing the projections of our mind, all of our fear, our lust, our anger. When we die, we experience the same thing. The only difference is that at death the connection to the physical body has been severed and we are waiting for the karma to propel us into a new body.
But if we have trained our consciousness very well everyday, and death comes, and we die physically, then we leave the body consciously. We experience the first between, the death phase, consciously. If we are cognizant, awake, when we die, we can have immediate access to our inner dharmakaya, the reality body. That is why the Tibetan Book of the Dead was written.
This is what people do not understand. Some people think the Tibetan Book of the Dead is just “cool.” Or you just read it to your grandma who died and maybe it will help her. It might. But the book is really written for people who have had some training—not the highest level of training, because for them there are other scriptures. The book that explains natural liberation through hearing, this so-called “Tibetan Book of the Dead,” is written for those who have only had beginning training, like us. Beginning training means they at least know how to be awake, to not be distracted. All of us should know that if we have been studying this teaching for any period of time, how to be awake.
When a trained person dies and they leave the body, if they are awake and they hear or remember the instruction of how to be cognizant, they can proceed to the clear light, dharmakaya, their true nature, the gateway to the Absolute. This is why Padmasambhava gave this teaching: to guide the souls who had some training but were not yet prepared fully. This means it was given for all of us. We have had a little bit of training, some more on others, some less.
Now you know why it is titled “Liberation by Hearing in the Intermediate States.”
Chances are, when we die, we will not be ready for death. So, if you remember anything from your spiritual instruction, let it be this: be awake, pay attention. Do not be distracted. Be awake, cognizant of yourself and what you see. Do not be distracted by any attachment, fear, desire, emotions, thoughts. Do not let your mind confused you. Be present.
Padmasambhava explained that someone who is consciously awake when they die can at that moment access their Dharmakaya (at their level of development; do not confuse this with the full awakening of the Dharmakaya).
“…the dying person should facilitate this [recognition of Dharmakaya] of his or her own accord by projecting a formerly cultivated [spiritual practice into the intermediate state].” – Padmasambhava
Someone who is unable to do this on their own can be reminded to do so by reading to them as they die:
“O, Child of Buddha Nature, [their name], listen! Pure inner radiance, reality itself, is now arising before you. Recognize it! O, Child of Buddha Nature, this radiant essence that is now your conscious awareness is a brilliant emptiness. It is beyond substance, beyond characeristics and beyond color, completely empty of inherent existence in any respect whatsoever. This is the female Buddha Samantabhadri, the essential nature of reality. The essence of your own conscious awareness is emptiness. Yet, this is not a vacuous or nihilistic emptiness; this, your very own conscious awareness, is unimpededly radiant, brilliant, and vibrant. This is the male Buddha Samatabhadra. The utterly indivisible presence of these two: the essence of your own awareness, which is empty, without inherent existence with respect to any substance whatsoever, and your own conscious awareness, which is vibrant and radiantly present, is the Buddha-body of Reality [Dharmakaya]. This intrinsic awareness, manifest in a great mass of light, in which radiance and emptiness are indivisible, is the buddha [nature] of unchanging light, beyond birth or death. Just to recognize this is enough [to awaken and take advantage of this moment]!”
However, if someone does not make it through the death phase cognizantly, meaning that they become distracted by the wailing of their relatives or by their own attachment to their children or their spouse, and they pass through the phase of death asleep, fascinated, afraid, and they enter the next phase, the reality phase, if they awaken then, if they become cognizant in that phase, they can access Sambhogakaya, which is another gateway. It is part of the being that can provide an entrance to a higher level of understanding.
This phase is difficult. It is during this phase that one is confronted with all of one’s karma. There are many, many images and illusions that appear, and all types of forms. Imagine all the different kinds of dreams and nightmares you have ever had: that is what appears. If you are fascinated by your dreams now, and unconscious in your dreams now, so will you be in this phase, if you do not prepare now. The images will completely hypnotize you, as they do now in your dreaming. So, learn to not be hypnotized by dreaming.
If someone does not manage to awaken consciousness in the reality phase, and they pass through that phase fascinated—meaning that they do not have any awareness of themselves, they are just fascinated or hypnotized by what they see, they are afraid, they are running away, they are lustful and attached and chasing after images—then they pass to the next phase, which is rebirth.
This is where all that karma that is in motion in the reality phase comes together, and that person is drawn into a womb by magnetism, by karma. If the person realizes and becomes awake, they can get in touch with their inner Nirmanakaya, the creation body, because in that moment a new womb is being opened for them and a new life. Creation is about to happen. So their own inner Nirmanakaya (creation body or manifestation body) is in motion, projected through the karma, in order to establish a new evolutionary stage. If we are cognizant and awake in that phase, we can have an influence over the body that we take—we cannot necessarily chose a birth, but we can influence it. We can enter it consciously.
“O, Child of Buddha Nature, however terrifying the appearances of the intermediate state of reality might be, do not forget the following words. Go forward remembering their meanings. The crucial point is that through them recognition may be attained.
“Alas, now, as the intermediate state of reality rises before me, Renouncing the merest thought of awe, terror, or fear, I will recognize all that arises to be awareness, manifesting naturally of itself. Knowing such [sounds, lights, and rays] to be visionary phenomena of the intermediate state. At this moment, having reached this critical point, I must not fear the assembly of Peacful and Wrathful Deities, which manifest naturally!”
If we do not awaken in that phase, then we are born just the way we were born this time: asleep, taken by karma directly to where we deserve to be.
These are “the betweens.”
Now you understand why preparation is so important: to prepare for death.
These intermediary phases—death, reality and rebirth—proceed according to circumstances and karma. Some people have so much karma that these three phases pass by very rapidly, almost instantaneously. That is probably true for many of us. As soon as we died in our previous existence, our karma was so strong we were propelled right into a new body, with no cognizance of the change, no choice, driven by karmic forces at work.
If we are one of those few who had some training, we might have the ability to influence that transition. Maybe we accrued some good results from our previous actions. Maybe we did some charity. Maybe we helped people spiritually. Maybe we really did some strong actions in our previous life that altered the progression of these three phases. That will be evident in the context of our contemporary existence if we are given the chance to continue that type of work. Most of us are not. The facts are what speak. We have to look at the facts of our lives, not fantasies, not imagining we were great masters from the past, but looking at the facts of who we are now, created by who we were before. If we are common ordinary everyday people suffering now, then we were then, too. We have to throw away all those fantasies about being great initiates, when we are not.
Our goal now in these studies is to take advantage of these first three between states: vigil, dreams, and meditation. We need a rigorous daily training, constant effort to be awake. We need to receive all impressions consciously, not mechanically, and to comprehend them: not avoiding, not repressing, not craving not avoiding, not indulging in things and not avoiding things, but in the middle, cognizant, aware, discriminating. Learning about our own mind, learning about ourselves, acquiring knowledge.
In this type of effort, if you become serious, you will come to realize that it makes really very little difference what your job is, what city you live in, who your friends are, what clothes you wear, what car you drive, how much is in your bank. You realize how quickly people becomes seduced by those illusions, because that is all they are. You start to realize and experience that you have been in many bodies before: you have been poor, you have been rich, you have been black, you have been brown, you have been white, and you start to realize that you are sick of it, tired of suffering, tired of repeating the same problems and mistakes again and again. You want out. Your three kayas are the way out.
If you learn be awake and aware in the vigil, dream, and meditation states, you become a real gnostic. You will start to experience the three kayas. This will not be a theory to you anymore, especially through the dream and meditation states.
If you are not a master of meditation, you are not a gnostic. A master of meditation enters into their three kayas. They experience reality.
Levels of Spiritual Work
Now, as we explained before, not all of us have the willpower to reach the heights of spiritual development. We have to be sincere with ourselves and work on the level in which we are.
Stated bluntly, we are all elementals: animal souls that have an intellect. We are not human beings until we have created the solar astral body, the solar mental body, and the causal body. These three bodies are symbolized in all the mythologies and religions in different ways. They are what we can call “soul.” They are vessel or vehicles. They are the chariot that Krishna drives for Arjuna. They are the chariot of Ezekiel. They are the Merkaba of the Kabbalists and the Sahu of the Egyptians.
The solar bodies are like our mind-heart. They are vessels in the fifth dimension. But they are not created by nature. They are created by our inner divinity through tantra, through transmutation. They are what Jesus calls the second birth. To be born again is to give birth to the solar bodies. This is a work of water and spirit, as he explained in the Gospel. That water is Mayim in Hebrew and Shamayim in Hebrew. The two waters. Those two waters are Yesod, the vital body, Daath, creation. The spirit that creates those bodies is the Nirmanakaya with the power of Sambhogakaya. Sambhogakaya is the wisdom of Christ. The light that illuminates the emanation body or creation body through Daath to create the solar bodies. When we have created those solar bodies, we become a Buddha, properly speaking. Not an animal. A Buddha, an Angel, a real Human being.
So let us make a difference between levels of spiritual work. The first level is our level. We are all elementals, aspiring to be human beings. You can do a lot of work in this level, purifying the mind, eliminating ego and desire. The primary path that these types of souls take is the introductory path, which in Sanskrit is called Sutrayana, Shravakayana, or Hinanaya. It is the foundational path in every religion, but I am using Sanskrit words.
The foundational level teaches you how to become an elemental Buddha—that is, a purified soul or an innocent angel, not a full Buddha. That is, we can become “a saint.” We can become a great yogi, a master in the elemental level, but who does not have a solar bodies. The vast majority of those who entered the spiritual path worked in this level. They become elementals of some degree of purity. Yogananda is a great example. Many if not most lamas and yogis are examples of this level of attainment. Many Chinese Buddhist masters, Hindu masters, and Christian saints are “elemental Buddhas.” In other words, they are animal souls or Nephesh who purified the mind of many discursive elements, many desires, and became clean elementals. Therefore, they are not 100% awake, but awake to some degree, and are able to reflect the light of divinity at their level. But: they are not initiates. They are only in the first level of work. They are more pure than we are, and have more wisdom, but are only a few steps along the path.
The second level is of those who have acquired solar bodies, one or all. These are initiates. These are Buddhas of a higher degree who have acquired a solar body or more than one solar body. As such, they reflect more light from above. These are masters of even greater esteem, greater power, but they are not the highest.
There is another level, of those we call Bodhisattvas.
The first two levels, the beginners, can also be called shravakas or “hearers.” Those elementals who are pursuing the elemental path can achieve beginning levels of attainment and wisdom, but they never incarnate Christ. They can teach about Christ, talk about Christ, but they do not have the solar bodies that Christ or the three Kayas can inhabit. Only the initiates who have created the solar bodies then have the potential to be an embodiment of the light of Christ.
Remember I told you Sambhogakaya is related to the sephirah Chokmah, which is Hebrew for wisdom. In Sanskrit, Bodhi means wisdom. That is what incarnates in a Bodhisattva. Bodhisattva means “incarnation of wisdom.”
Those initiates who have created the solar bodies and who want to go further and incarnate Christ become Bodhisattvas. This can only be done once they have created a causal body, through the initiation of Tiphereth.
The causal body is a body of supreme beauty and strength, and it is necessary in order to harness and transmit the light of Christ because the light or intelligence of the three Logoi (kayas) is far too intense to embody in any other creature. It is far too powerful. One must have the solar bodies in order to reflect that light.
Very few take that path, because it is very, very difficult. Most elemental Buddhas or initiate level buddhas who have solar bodies take what is called the spiral path. They become Pratyeka Buddhas, Nirvanis, demigods, devas, great angels, great beings, but without incarnating Christ. There are many masters like that. Not as many as there are in the levels below them, but many. It is very rare for one of those Buddhas to incarnate Christ and enter the Bodhisattva path. Those enter into another level of work called the Second Mountain, in which they purify the entire ego in one life, maybe two.
All the previous paths that I have explained, first and second levels, work on the ego slowly from body to body. In other words, they continue in the cycle of Samsara taking births according to karma to work on themselves. Gradually, little by little, if they have very strong willpower, they can gradually get better bodies, better situations to work on themselves. Sometimes they are born just in the heavenly realms and work there briefly. Generally, they are pulled back to this level because of karma. Many of them fall because the karma is too strong and they fall back into temptation and they have to start again.
The initiates and the elementals continue cycling in nature, being born and dying, being born and dying, again and again and again. We always hear about Master such and such who is a great Lama who died and has to be born in another body and keep working because that is the level they are working in. Jesus on the other hand is working on another level. Jesus incarnated Christ. He has the solar bodies. He incarnated Christ in himself and transmitted that light. He walked the Second Mountain, meaning he purified the entirety ego from his mind and reached the level of the sephirah Binah.
By the way, I am compressing volumes and volumes of teachings into a few minutes. So if this is new to you, you will need to study.
Each of these spheres in the Tree of Life represents initiations that souls pass through if they are on the initiate path or the Bodhisattva path. Every one of these spheres is an initiation. Tiphereth is the fifth. Binah is the final initiation for a Bodhisattva. Only Bodhisattvas experience that. Binah is when resurrection happens. It is the initiation that happens when the bodhisattva who has incarnated Christ has paid all of the karma from all of their previous lives in completion, suffered all the consequences, and paid every debt, and dies, and is reborn, and thereby has conquered mechanical evolution completely in themselves. Their Nirmanakaya is born as a resurrected master.
It is very rare for this to occur, because it is very difficult. The greatest masters on this planet are examples of this level of mastery: Jesus, Buddha, Padmasambhava, Moses, Krishna, Rama. Such beings are very rare. There are others who have reached that level and are unknown to humanity, anonymous. The reason is that humanity hates them. We hate resurrected masters, because we love our desires, habits, beliefs, and the resurrected masters are so radical, they contradict everything we believe, love, attach to, etc. We persecute resurrected masters. We kill them, we torture them, we burn them at the stake, we crucify them. So, they generally work in anonymity. Nonetheless, after resurrection those masters have more work to do, in what is called the Third Mountain. Those levels are related to Sambhogakaya and Dharmakaya. We do not have time to talk about that today.
“A Bodhisattva is formed by the Holy Spirit [Nirmanakaya] of a Master dressed with the four lower bodies. This is the greatest mystery of the human personality. This is the mystery of the double human personality. This is one of the greatest mysteries of occultism.
“The internal Master can send his Holy Spirit [Nirmanakaya] to the earth clothed with a Mental, Astral, Vital and physical body in order to perform an important mission. Christ, the divine redeemer of the World, after his earthly death, sent his human Bodhisattva. But the human beings knew him not.” – Samael Aun Weor, Igneous Rose
The Three Kayas as depicted by Christianity
Levels of Meaning of the Kayas
Let me explain one last factor that is very important. A Bodhisattva who has incarnated Christ, reached the end of the Second Mountain, and resurrected, earns the title Nirmanakaya. They have created that body. They are a very high Buddha. They are not like the other Buddhas that exist in all the other levels of heaven or nirvana below them. Nirmanakayas are very high. Nonetheless, elemental Buddhas in certain levels of work can also acquire a degree of development called Nirmanakaya. It is not the same as having the body of Nirmanakaya. Rather, it is like a reflection or different octave. It is like saying a child who has completed kindergarten is a “graduate.” They have graduated kindergarten, but they are not at the same level as someone who graduated middle school, or high school, or college, or with an advanced degree. Just so, some spiritual titles are like that: they apply a certain kind of meaning, but in levels. Samael Aun Weor explained this in a lecture entitled A Talk on the Mysteries of Life and Death:
“…what the Adept does through realization of the self is transform himself in a Cosmocreator, into a Dhyani-Choan, a Son of the Flame, a Kumara. It has to be done by the devout yogi, on a smaller scale, transforming himself into an elemental Buddha and passing through the four stages in an incipient form.”
Similarly, the experiences of the bardos are like that.
We are all elementals. At the moment of death, if we are cognizant and very well trained in using our consciousness, we can access and experience our Dharmakaya, which is the highest level of our Being. At the moment of death we can have a realization of that, experience that. It does not mean that we have acquired the body of Dharmakaya. It does not mean that we have become a Buddha. But we can have an experience, what is called “a realization.” That experience could last an instant, but if we are well trained, we can sustain it. Does this make sense to you? Do you understand what I am saying? How important this is?
Likewise, in the reality phase or the birth phase, we can access Sambhogakaya or Nirmanakaya. If we are trained enough to be cognizant, we can experience those things in an instant and have some comprehension or realization of it. If we are very well trained and do not become distracted at all, we can sustain that phase and acquire a lot of knowledge, and make a big impact on the trajectory of our mind stream.
This is how important death is. This is why we must die.
We must die. On the first level, because these bodies belong to nature and nature takes them back. On the second level, because if we are evolving ourselves consciously, death gives us a chance to jump to a better body, to have better circumstances, to acquire more knowledge. And if we are working even more seriously, death offers us the opportunity to jump to a new kingdom, a whole other level of existence, from mineral to plant, plant to animal, animal to humanoid, and humanoid to levels beyond.
It is possible, if you have the karma and the training, when you die to leave this world. But it will not happen because you wish it, or because you meant well. It will happen if you know how to do it and do it by will. We get what we deserve, what we have earned.
That is why Padmasambhava gave the book “Natural Liberation through Hearing,” what we call “The Tibetan Book of the Dead.” It is to give all of us the chance to take advantage of the state after death and to acquire a better opportunity to deepen our work, to jump in evolution, to leap ahead.
Questions and Answers
Audience: Sometimes I hear about Lamas that will meditate as they die and keep their body… state where they are not decomposing…
Instructor: There are examples in every tradition of what in the west are called the “incorruptibles.” In Asian traditions, there are many examples of yogis, monks, nuns, lamas who have died and left the body in a state in which it does not decompose. That state may last a few days, and it can even last years. Recently, a monk was found in Russia that had been dead, as I recall, for a hundred years, and he had not decomposed at all. Now as soon as they opened up his reliquary chamber, he began to decompose, to change, because too much pollution got into that sealed environment. Nonetheless, before that, his body was preserved.
This phenomena is related to this topic, but know that the resilience of the physical body is not necessarily a reflection of the level of attainment of the practitioner. It could be, but it does not mean that that person was a resurrected master, an elemental Buddha, or a Bodhisattva. It may only mean that they were practicing with a certain type of technique—particularly related with Great Perfection and traditions like that—in which they are learning to work with energies of the three Kayas. Through such techniques, those energies saturate the body. Also, the mind has become clean. So, they do not have all the same putrefaction that we have. The quality of mind is reflected in the body. All of us are quite filthy psychologically. In a yogi or monk who has cleaned his or her mind, their physical body will not be as polluted, and will not after death. As I mentioned before, we all stink. We have to wear a lot of deodorant and perfume and use soap everyday because otherwise we smell. We need to brush our teeth constantly because we stink. That stink is in our bodies because of our minds. If we had pure minds, our bodies would not stink. Our bodies would be fragrant. When you come into the presence of a genuine master, you will experience that, whether physically or internally. They do not stink.
Incorruptibles result from practitioners from all the different levels we explained. The physical body of a pure elemental soul would not decompose like ours would. As to an initiate or a Bodhisattva, it depends.
There are also many cases where incorruptibles are fake. So you have to be aware of that, too.
Audience: You said that if we are aware or we have consciousness during the rebirth state, we can exercise some influence over the body that we enter into but you said we did not chose the body, so what is the nature of that influence?
Instructor: It is similar to the example I gave previously: if you are running and you are approaching a crevice, that last footstep before you leap is the one that determines your trajectory.
Audience: But I am going down into the crevice anyway?
Instructor: So, you can either land in your feet or land on your head.
Instructor: It depends on the degree of consciousness you have and it depends on your karma. If you are cognizant, you can have an influence. How much influence depends on your karma. There are too many possibilities there. The bottom line is, if you are aware, you can influence it. You may not be able to change that birth, but you might be able to influence the circumstances. It really depends.
Instructor: The theory about choosing our parents we explained in the previous lecture; that is a myth. It is a myth that sounds nice, and it sounds really comforting, but there is no scriptural evidence for it anywhere in the world. No master told us that is what happens.
What the masters and scriptures have told us is that the only one who from the state between physical lives can consciously choose their birth, the time, the place, the parent, the family, the era, the city, the country is a master. That person is awake through all these bardos, and negotiates their karma consciously.
Instructor: We are drawn to our parents by our karma. We have a relationship with those people that we established in previous existences. During the death phase, reality phase, and birth phase, we were in a circumstantial position in which the psychological environment of those parents drew us in. Often the connection is lust. We have a psychological affinity with that family; that is, our defects are similar. Most of the time, the connection is a karmic thread that has been going on for a long time. Many of us have the same family, for many lifetimes. That is why our conflicts are so deep.
Instructor: Great question. How do we awaken the consciousness?
Awakening the consciousness begins with simply paying attention. The function of the consciousness is to perceive. So the beginning of the awakening is to be right here and now, perceiving with awareness, watching everything that comes into you and everything that is coming out of you. As it says in the Bhagavad Gita, we have to be a watcher at the gateway of the senses. To be there actively engaged in everything that comes in or out. But with us, we do not do that. We have maybe a little little fraction of attention on our senses, and the rest of our attention is in our mind, running around with our worries: “Oh, I am hungry, I am thirsty, I need to go pay the bills, I need to go here I need to go there, I wish I could watch TV.” All the thoughts, memories, fantasies, that are surging in our mind. That is where our attention is. And even then, it is completely dispersed. It is not integrated. So our attention is in sixty five different things at any one time. That is what has got to change.
We need to have our attention one hundred percent here and now. Not distracted. Completely aware.
This has two fundamental functions. Awareness is general. Awareness is sort of like the light in the room. It is on or it is off. With us, it is usually off. We are not usually aware of anything. The second part is attention, which is focus, like a flashlight. We need both simultaneous. To maintain both continually takes training. We are not trained yet. That was the first thing we should have learned when we were kids. We did not.
We need a general awareness of ourselves, of our mind, of our environment. We also need directed attention with which we consciously pick what we are paying attention to. Not only what is outside but what is inside.
There are many exercises we work with to train ourselves. We call them Self-observation and Self-remembering. Some call this watchfulness. There is a technique called SOL which means subject, object, location. That is a technique to train yourself to pay attention all the time. It takes a lot of effort. In the beginning, it is exhausting because we are not use to it and our attention is very weak. So it feels like, “I cannot do this anymore.” We will do it for a couple of minutes and we get tired and we forget. And then we remember, and try to be here and now, and then we get tired, then we forget. Many people just give up. Success takes training and training and training until eventually awareness will become established in us and then it becomes normal, the way it should be. So do not expect you will get it in a week or two weeks or two years. It takes a lot of training.
Instructor: No, we have to be watchful of the senses.
Instructor: Sure, I understand. They are more or less on the same level. When we look at the whole scale of the potential of consciousness, all of us on this planet right now are on the same level, whether we have had spiritual experiences or not, because we are all in the same wave. Humanity develops in waves. We are in one wave right now. We are in the same boat. Unless we have done a lot of very serious spiritual work on ourselves and really awaken consciousness and had a lot of experiences and acquire a lot of knowledge, then we might start to approach being something different.
Instructor: It is karmic. That is because of work that they have done in previous existences. Remember I stated that we are a karmic mind stream that is moving from body to body. In our previous existence, if we were working on spirituality, we could have developed some capacities like astral projection or clairvoyance, and sometimes those powers can continue into the new body. It depends on what we did, how we did it, and how we incorporated that into our essence. Yet be aware that this can also happen if we were working with black magic. If someone was working in black tantra, black magic, or some kind of negative practices in their previous existences, they can also carry those abilities into a new body. They can be born with clairvoyance, astral projection, and all kinds of powers. And people will think they are great saints. But they are not. They are like any one of us, but they happen to have powers awake. They still have the ego. And that is the problem. Someone with powers and ego will only get worse. Why would they feel they should change? Their powers make them feel divine. They will only fatten their ego and accrue more karma on themselves.
The real measure of spiritual advancement is not powers. It is virtue. It is whether somebody is at heart a truly good person and able to act on that. That is the real measure. A lot of groups confuse humanity about this because they affirm that powers are the real measure of spiritual development, but they are not. Even a demon can do “miracles.” We see “miracles” and assume that person must be a saint. We are wrong.
Audience: How would we know if we have created the solar bodies?
Instructor: How would we know if we have created the solar bodies? Ah, it is the sixty-four million dollar question, isn’t it?
Instructor: If you created the astral body, you will know it because you will be able to use it, and travel awakened in the astral world—unless your karma is so bad that your Being took it away from you. And so, only you can know that. The same applies to the mental body and causal body. What I am trying to tell you is, only you can know by finding out for yourself. There are many students in this tradition who go to their instructor and ask, “Did I make my astral body? Can you investigate for me and find out?” This is really foolish, and I have seen many instructors take advantage of that to manipulate students. Do not fall into it. If you have developed a body or two, good for you. So what? You still have ego. You still have pride. You still have lust. Focus on that. If you do not have a solar body, no problem. When the time comes for you to make it, your Being will give you what you need to do it. On that though, let me explain two things.
The astral body, the mental body, and the causal body are very important, firstly because they give us the capacity to reach the fifth initiation and incarnate Christ if we choose that path. Secondly, they are important because they represent the first degree of separation from the wheel of samsara. Let me explain what that means.
We already have lunar bodies that belong to nature and that will be returned to nature. You could be a great saint in the elemental level without solar bodies, but when you have exhausted your human bodies, you have used them all up, nature will take your bodies back and you will be recycled by nature. The only way to get off the wheel is to create the solar bodies. And the only way to get off the wheel completely is to resurrect.
The first step of the wheel is to create the solar astral body. This is the first coming of Christ represented in the Gospels. The coming of Christ is representative or symbolic of when we create the solar astral body. Why is that important? That body belongs to Christ, not to nature. The solar astral body is not subject to devolution. That body does not enter hell unless we commit very terrible crimes. This means that the solar astral body represents the first step of immortality, in a relative sense. One who has the solar astral body is no longer subject to the mechanical devolution that all the other elementals are subject to. So, this is a big deal. It gives you a foothold into nirvana. Likewise, the mental body and the causal body are greater degrees of freedom from the wheel. This is important.
Let me explain one more thing about them. There is only one way to make solar bodies, and that is through sex. There is no exception. That is why Jesus stated:
“That which is born of flesh is flesh; that which is born of Spirit is spirit.”
The solar bodies are born of spirit, not flesh. We utilize the flesh to focus the spirit. We work in the physical world with a spouse in sexual transmutation, which we call Tantra or Alchemy, which is a process of restraining and harnessing the pure light of Sambhogakaya and Nirmanakaya, which is in Rupa. The word “rupa is Sanskrit. It means “form.” In some Mahayana Buddhist schools, Nirmanakaya and Sambhogakaya are considered one body called Rupakaya. The synthesis of that is in sexual energy. In the same school, when you enter in another level of instruction, where they have been teaching you that Bodhichitta and what Bodhichitta means, they will finally tell you that Bodhichitta which is the essence of Sambhogakaya working through Nirmanakaya, the essence of Christ is sexual energy. It is in sex. That is how the solar bodies are made. There is no way around it. The Angel, the Buddha, the Master is born the same way everything in life is ever born: through sex, but you cannot make an Angel through lust. You cannot make a Buddha or Master through lust. Only through chastity, pure sexuality, angelic divine sexuality, which is the sexuality of the three Kayas, brought here. That is why it is so sacred, so secret, and so protected, because it is so precious.
Instructor: The Egyptian Book of the Dead is definitely a direct parallel, but with a different perspective. The Egyptian Book of the Dead is more of a narrative and very symbolic, whereas the Tibetan Book of the Dead is an instruction manual. The Book of Natural Liberation through Hearing, which is what I was quoting from, is actually intended to be read to the person who died. Whereas the Egyptian Book of the Dead is carried into the world of the dead by the dead person and is used by them as a guide. So they are little bit different, but they do correspond well with each other. Both are symbolic.
Instructor: The question is the images that flood the mind during the clear light phase of the reality phase between birth and death or death and birth, does that relate to the memories of only the previous existence or all of them and does meditation during life help one with this phase?
The elements that appear to the dead person during the three phases relate to the contents of that person’s mind, just as the same as now, when we dream we see the contents of our mind. We dream all kinds of things that make no sense, crazy, illogical, insane, and when we die, that is what we see in the death phase, and the reality phase, and the rebirth phase. We see the contents of our mind. That can be from anyone of our existences. It can also be from psychological projections or effigies that may not have manifested from any existence. They can be so hugely complicated and obscure that it cannot be put into words.
Meditation definitely makes a difference in preparing oneself for these phases. To be a very serious meditator here and now means that one is daily diving into the contents of one’s mind and learning how to deal with it. How to be cognizant no matter what emerges. How to be attentive and awake and aware and never distracted, never fascinated. This is the training that we need so that when death comes, we are ready. So that when we fall asleep at night, we are ready.
Meditation is the most important preparation for the entire work. That is why it is the central practice of the gnostics. Some schools teach that sex is the central practice. It is not. It is the foundation. But it is not the central practice. The central most important practice in gnosis is meditation. This means you can be single or in a couple, you can be divorced or married, it does not matter. What matters is learn to meditate. This is the best opportunity to learn to handle the phases of death, reality and rebirth: Meditation.
Instructor: Samael Aun Weor taught us that the path is walked based on the fundamental axiom of three forces or three factors: Birth, Death and Sacrifice.
Birth is some of what I have been explaining today that we have to create the soul. We have to learn about virtue and learn about how to be virtuous. That requires training. We are not inherently masters. We have to learn. That takes knowledge. That is birth.
Death is to work on the ego and to eliminate the causes of suffering. This is a huge work. The death of the ego is something that takes a long time to complete because we have been creating karma for many, many, many aeons of lifetimes, and our karmic burden is extremely heavy. This is not an overnight work, and you cannot pay somebody a thousand dollars to do it for you. You can only do it yourself or let nature do it for you. And if nature does it, in the end you will not get anything. You will be back where you started.
The third factor is sacrifice which we sometimes called conscious suffering. And this is where we give of ourselves to aid others. Sacrifice is idiosyncratic to each of us. We will each have our own way. Personally, I am very poor. But I have been fortunate enough to be put in a position where I can try to help by teaching. I am a bad teacher, but I am trying to get better. That is why I am trying to help others. Maybe I am making more suffering than good, but I am trying to help. Others help by making donations. Some help at schools. Some help on the internet. Some help in their communities.
The greatest sacrifice you can make to others is to help them find the path and learn about the path. Spiritual sacrifice is the best. It is good to help people eat, drink, have safety and security and education. These are all important, but nothing beats giving dharma, because it is the very soul at stake, not just one body or one life but a continuity of existences that you affect.
So when Samael Aun Weor was talking about working on the ego and conscious suffering, these really are the synthesis: to daily work on the ego and to daily suffer on behalf of others. In other words, sacrifice, help others.
Instructor: It depends on your karmic stream and it depends on the motivation and the impulse for that question and the person who has died. If you even have the ability to long for something after you were dead, like to say “I want to be born in a better body.” That at least shows some degree of cognizance of that state. It would imply that. So if someone who is dead said: “I hope in my next body I can have a better intellect.” That at least shows that they are cognizant of being dead. That is good. It is rare. Most dead people have no idea that they are dead. That is the first problem. In the same way that we are not aware when we are sleeping at night, we are in dreams and we think it is real. So the giant purple octopus is chasing us and we are running away because we do not realize that it is a dream. That is what happens when we are dead. So generally what surges in the mind after death is desire of all kinds. Desire for revenge, desire for money, desire for sex, desire for power. Sometimes that power is intellectual power or spiritual power. It is still rooted in desire. If that desire for a better position or place in life is intended to help others and not serve one’s self, that could be good. But whether it would be satisfied depends on our karma, whether we deserve it.
Instructor: The question is about absorption, meditation and states of consciousness related to meditation. The term absorption can be interpreted in different ways, it depends on which school of meditation is being referred to. In Tibetan Buddhism, absorption has many types of meanings, again depending specifically on which form of Tibetan Buddhism we are talking about. In terms of Gnosis, when we talk about absorption, we are really talking about samadhi. And what we mean by samadhi is a state of consciousness in which the essence or consciousness is extracted from the ego, and there is no desire present. For us, samadhi means pure cognizance, pure awareness, pure attention, with no obscuration, no discursive thought or emotion. It is a type of perception that does not have any selfishness. That type of meditation is absolutely critical to waking the positive aspect of the consciousness, to acquiring real knowledge. Without that, everything will be vague and unclear. We absolutely must learn how to access that state of consciousness. We call it absorption in the same way that we call Eden, Eden. Eden means “bliss.” Samadhi can mean ecstasy or bliss. It is a full state of concentration or attention in a state of equanimity and happiness.
Audience: In what meditation state can we begin to kill ego?
Instructor: Right here and now, attentive in the vigil state. That is not strictly speaking a meditation state, but it is a state of consciousness in which we utilize attention. If you are awake in your physical body, vigilant the way you should be, you can begin to disempower your ego, because the ego will surge in your mind and say: “That really makes me mad. You better say something, you better do something.” But our consciousness says: “No, I am not going to act on my anger,” or “I am not going to act on my lust.” Instead, we watch and observe that anger or that lust. Thus we not only stop it from acting in our mind and through our body, we learn about it, how it manipulates us, tricks us. We stop feeding it. We stop letting it control us. That starts to starve it. It starts to take its power away. It does not kill it completely, but it begins the process.
The same happens in meditation. We can be a complete beginner and only be capable of sitting down for ten minutes and barely able to get through ten minutes alive, but that effort is an effort of willpower to focus attention and consciousness which will have an impact on our work on the ego, even if it does not feel direct. Indirectly, it affects our work on the ego because that same effort of will to be attentive will use it after meditation, that night, the next day and so on.
The direct execution of an ego, related to states of consciousness, depends on the depth of that ego. Some egos are very superficial and can be eliminated and executed in very shallow degrees of meditation, while some are very deep and thus require more power and penetration. So, we have to start where we are and do our best.