The illusion of this world is deep, thorough, penetrating and “real.” Most everyone believes in life after death, but no seems to consider that if there is life after death, there must be life before birth. It is amusing to watch the puzzling look that melts into contemplative thought whenever I ask someone the question, “Have you ever thought about where you were before you were conceived?” No one has ever answered, “Yes, I have!” According to Gnostic texts, each soul that enters into life is given the “draught of forgetfulness” so no one remembers who they really are or from where they came; it is important that we believe this life is real. We need the illusions, challenges, and disappointments of the world to struggle against, so we can develop our mental acuity, character, integrity, creativity, insight and love for one another and for the presence of God. The lessons we gain in this world are what makes us who we are. However, we are not supposed to remain trapped in this “dreamy sleep of worldly illusion.” Like the butterfly, we are destined to awaken and struggle out of our cocoon and “fly away” from this illusion; we must awaken to our true Self within and experience the higher states of Consciousness (Intelligent Light) from which we came.
The greatest challenge man presently faces in this modern world is awakening from the glamour and illusion of the sensual, material world so he can recognize his true nature within. This is a difficult step for many people because they are not interested in foregoing their physical pleasures to embrace discipline, to exercise their minds, and to dispel darkness and ignorance from their lives. As stated in earlier chapters, modern society has conditioned people, especially in the Western industrial world, to focus on the pursuit of physical comfort, entertainment, and sensual pleasure. There have been many examples given that indicate the difficulty of awakening and getting free from the sensual world. The Bible says, “Many are called, but few are chosen.” This phrase means that many people are presented, at one time or another, with an opportunity to receive a “quickening” or inspirational awakening by the Light, but they fail to properly respond or to be ignited.
The personal preparation one needs to enthusiastically embrace conscious development is a spiritual inclination derived from the heart and mind, a deep urge to make “the journey” to higher consciousness, and a deep commitment. Commitment and determination are necessary so the individual will “stay the course” until his or her roots have taken hold. The parable of the sower of seeds is the most accurate in depicting the challenges of awakening. The story goes that a man on his way to sow his field drops some seed on the roadway and the birds come along and devour them. These seeds represent people that have no affinity with the light. Some of his seeds fall into a rocky area, and they sprout quickly because they have no depth of earth; but when the sun shines on them, they wither away. These seeds represent people that show enthusiasm for the path, but quit making an effort at the first sign of difficulty because they have no internal substance, such as persistence or courage. Other seeds fall among the thorns, and when they spring up, they get choked out. These are people that receive light, but because of their attachments to the things and events of the world, their light gets extinguished. The remainder of the seed falls into good ground and produces a multitude of fruit. These are the people who receive the light and understand its meaning, and bring forth the fullness of their inner potential.
These people receive the light because they have created within themselves “fertile ground” i.e. a spiritual state of: love for the light of Christ, and a willingness to receive the inspirational florescence of light, life and love within – which comes via the Holy Spirit. If a person hangs in there long enough to get a glimpse of the light and to feel the inner peace, he or she will commit to the journey. However, if we listen to the body-mind/ego-persona whine and complain that the work of conscious development it is too hard and no fun, then we are not awake or prepared enough to receive the light.
Those who believe they are nothing more than a physical body, suffer physically, emotionally, and mentally as a result from this perception. As an example, people, who believe they are the body, also believe they are the ego-persona, which, in reality is the mask or persona people present to the world. The persona is nothing more than the “illusory self-image;” in other words, it is a contrived, imaginary image of who the person “thinks he or she is.” In our mutable world, a person’s self-image changes frequently as new experiences, both good and bad, occur; these changes affect the self-esteem which affects the self-image accordingly. To add “insult to injury,” aside from the persona people use in public, in today’s world of social media, people are also creating an “online image” which they present to the virtual world. Psychologists have found that people are unconsciously learning how to lie about who they are online; and the problem is compounded when the person believes the lie. These people edit out things that are unfavorable to their online profile or delete unflattering pictures. As a result, some individuals are exhibiting “compulsive behaviors” about having a perfect image; likewise, they are traumatized if they are disparaged online or infringed upon in their illusional “safe-space.”
The irony of what this means is the ego-persona, which is a false notion of who a person really is, is attempting to create an online image of itself and it gets upset if “its false image” isn’t perfect. This dilemma and confusion of a double veil of illusion really skews a person’s ability to perceive reality; it is making it extremely difficult to awaken from the illusions of the world, as individuals must first awaken from the illusion of the virtual world. Awakening requires great strength of will, but it is the only way to find lasting peace and happiness, and to realize one’s true Self within.
Living a harmonious, happy and peaceful life in this world is an “elusive reality” to maintain. The majority of humans never awaken spiritually while in this life and the few who do, it doesn’t happen until we are adults. Most people, in the Western world, are satisfied living in the illusion. They have plenty of the necessities of life as well as many of the luxuries, but these don’t always bring happiness and fulfillment, especially when one accumulates material goods beyond one’s needs. For those who are not yet awakened, there will always be the presence of feeling that “something” is missing in life; as time goes by, the feeling of loneliness becomes an ever-present reality, not because one is alone, but because one has remained separated from the warm comfort of the divine Light within.
This can change in the “twinkling of an eye” if a person will awaken to the fact that within each of us there is divine light and a living soul connected to God, meaning that God is nearer to us than our hands or feet. Jesus Christ brought to this Earth a universal teaching of love and light; the same message that can be found in every religion in the world today. It is a simple message to love God and to love our neighbor; to be humble and receptive to the subtle energies of our body, feelings, mind and soul; to focus the mind on the positive aspects of life and allow for our energies to ascend upwards into a clearer perception of reality. Awaken from the illusion of only being a body; recognize and love God and the Light; and awaken to the reality that the body is encased in a living breathing soul… this awakening is what is meant by “being born again,” a spiritual awakening.
Here is the reality about the self-image – the soul of each one of us is THE MATRIX that defines the health and configuration of the physical body; the clarity, talents, and abilities of the mind; the quality and integrity of our heart and character; and the wit and pleasantness of the personality. The soul is the emanation into this world of who and what we are; it is not the higher Self, but the “invisible sheath” the inner Light wears. It is only because of the soul that the ego can contrive and fabricate a “counterfeit” image that it presents to the world. Our true Self is always in the background as the Observer guiding the soul. If anyone really desires to have a “perfect self-image,” then follow the teachings and guidelines presented here because it is only by one’s thinking, speaking and behavior that the soul is illuminated or diminished – made perfect or engulfed in darkness and ignorance. The focus of this book is to present the basic steps of what a person must learn and practice in preparation to enter the Way of Life as demonstrated by Jesus Christ.
The Observer & the Soul
Who is the Observer and what does it perceive? When it is finally recognized that there is more to our being than just a sensual body of flesh and a self-centered ego-persona, the individual awakens, acknowledges, and embraces the Observer as our “real-eyes” of perception. This awakening severs the tie to the ego-persona, making it take a “backseat” in the decision-making process of our lives; it still functions, but it is no longer “egotistically” dominating our self-identity, thinking and actions. When this shift of consciousness occurs, a subtle and interesting transformation happens within the soul. The soul becomes “divided” as a part of it (the Radiant Soul) unites with the Observer becoming the seer and the remainder of the soul becomes the object of perception. However, the soul is always one whole; even though it integrates with the four states of our being.
In reality, the soul does not really divide, but when it finally disengages from its unconscious habit of identifying with the ego-persona, it awakens to the Observer. Awakening to the Observer means becoming conscious of our “point of attention.” Our point of attention is where our consciousness is focused at any given moment – like on these words. Most of the time, one’s attention unconsciously flits around hopping from one thing to the next, and as it does, it attaches itself to the thing observed and “becomes” that thing; and the chattering-mind yaks constantly about the thing. Because we unconsciously attach our attention to the things of the external world, our soul and mind are imprinted with the “feelings and impressions” emanating from the image, object, person, or thing; thus, we momentarily become that which we are focused on. The sum total of this experience means our attention is trapped daily in the illusion of the material world. Even worse, is when our attention is trapped for hours and hours flitting around in the virtual world; each day our soul and mind are imprinted with “nothing of substance” but vague, lifeless, superficial impressions or bits of data.
Our point of attention is like a beam of living light which is our single focal-point for being conscious in this life; it is the most precious gift we have been given by our Creator (“Let thine eye be single…” Matt 6:22). Aside from being a point of conscious attention aimed at this life, it is endowed with an even higher quality of being – self-consciousness. This means we are able to be conscious that we are conscious; self-consciousness is the most unappreciated, “taken for granted” gift of all. Our ego-persona is the prime culprit in keeping our attention distracted and trapped in the world through the many desires, enticements, and needs it constantly puts into our minds. In order to keep us enslaved to “its external pursuit of happiness and fulfillment,” it chatters in our minds non-stop about all the things it wants or wants to do. This is the life most people live!
For a person to awaken to the Observer, he or she must have a sufficient desire to awaken. This motivation usually comes from being unhappy or dissatisfied in life. This desire to change must be accompanied with a sufficiently strong willingness to do “what it takes” to make some improvements in one’s life experience. The first thing to understand is the “why” of the situation in which one is trapped. When the attention of a person is unconscious and allowed to roam freely, it often does so as a means of escaping or preventing boredom (the burden of time). The main problem here is that we are “giving” our attention to the ego-persona and the body-mind (See: Chapter2) in hopes it will keep us from being bored, but by doing so, we momentarily become those things of the world that entertain us; this is what it means to be attached to the world.
This is important – our attention is a vital part of our true Self. We do not recognize our attention as a part of our true Self because our attention has become like the Prodigal Son who left his Father’s house (being centered within the Present Moment) and lived in the enticements of the dark sensual world, until his life was lost, exhausted and depressed; only then did he recognize the light and peace he had left behind and returned home. Our unconscious attention is lost in the world of superficial desires, distractions, and impressions in the same way, which means our conscious awareness is, literally extended into the world; it is not present within our conscious being. In order to awaken to the Observer within, we must become aware of how the worldly ego and body/body-mind grips and holds our attention captive through the chattering-mind of the ego.
The only way to manage the chattering-mind is through focused breathing meditation as explained in Just Breathe or Stage 1 Meditation. To be in the present moment with the emotions and mind quiet, is to be one with the Observer; in this stillness of being, we can feel/perceive our true Self. Staying centered in the Observer means our attention is not in the world, and we can now begin the journey of getting to know our true Self within. Initially, spiritual practice begins by learning to manage the chattering-mind through breathing and learning how to exercise discernment regarding what is and what is not important in our lives.
The Disciplines of Awakening
Inevitably, when a person sincerely embraces spiritual development, there will be a natural series of unfolding experiences which alter the person’s perspective of life and self. This new perspective brings the initiate to the threshold of the first discipline – self-evaluation. Before entering the path of spiritual development everyone must do a thorough self-examination to determine if they have the conviction to follow the path Jesus Christ showed to us; that is, is the initiate willing to “die (to the personal ego self) and to be reborn (into Christ consciousness)?” Everyone who enters the path must not only be willing to make this sacrifice, but also be determined to make this sacrifice. This sacrifice means (symbolically) having complete acceptance that the personal self and ego will be (spiritually) crucified and resurrected. Like Jesus, pray to the Father that He will help guide you to this spiritual transcendence.
The first thing to know about following the Way of Life is that each new disciple, upon entering the path, is fully responsible for his or her own life and actions from this point forward; this also means being responsible to stay firmly upon the path; self-responsibility is the second discipline. At this point, it is no longer appropriate to blame anyone, anything, or any circumstance if one falters upon the path. However, be advised that we all have moments of doubt or weakness, we all occasionally backslide, and there are times when we lose our enthusiasm or interest. These are the tests everyone encounters to determine the resolve of each disciple; remember, many are called, but few are chosen. Also, in the beginning of seeking the light, the process is always two steps forward and one step back; so don’t get discouraged, this is for the purpose of building a strong foundation to carry the “burden of light.” (Matthew 11:30)
What emerges following the personal evaluation is the realization that there is a “lot of baggage” in the unexamined life; so the next stage of awakening is discernment. Discernment isthe capacity to distinguish between what is desirable in one’s life and what is not; what is to be embraced and what is to be discarded; what is helpful and what is a distraction. This faculty will dispel the ignorance which hinders us from distinguishing between what is desirable and what is not; it will illuminate the path to make it apparent what things we need to leave behind and what things we carry forward. Discernment is now our ever-present vigilance while we are on the path and it brings us to the fourth discipline of awakening – renunciation.
With discernment we learn what is beneficial to spiritual growth and what is not, and through renunciation, we learn to give up those things which hinder our spiritual progress, even though we would rather not. Renunciation is not a “one-time” action; discernment and renunciation work together to prevent anything from obstructing our way forward. In order to avoid obstacles on the path, we enter the fifth stage of awakening – self-discipline. Discernment and renunciation are only possible when we exercise self-discipline to renounce and remove: bad habits, laziness, selfishness, anger, self-indulgence as well as not taking responsibility for our actions. The practice of self-discipline is also an exercise aimed at making us immune to the desires for the objects of the world by renouncing them.
In order to understand self-discipline, we have to rise above the mechanical processes of life in the body/body-mind and the ego-persona, to the knowing self, the Observer. Only in the higher states of consciousness can we understand the causes of our worldly, external, ego-oriented actions. When we have transcended the instinctual, sensual, self-absorbed life of the body and the reactionary ego, we arrive at the state in which we can understand the importance of self-discipline. In the higher consciousness, we can perceive the ideals of the Radiant Soul which has bonded with the Observer; it is these ideals which motivate and encourage us to follow a higher path, a better way of life. True self-discipline is the awareness of these inner promptings and the willingness to bring the body and ego into accord with these higher states. Without the awareness of this exalted inspiration, it is difficult to consistently exercise restraint and discipline.
Self-discipline cannot be imposed from the outside; the true motivation and inspiration lies within us. Although we have made an intellectual decision to be self-disciplined in our pursuit of enlightenment, our habitual, instinctual animal body is on its own track, and has no desire to give up anything. Our intellectual decision is equivalent to a rider sitting atop an elephant trying to meditate while the elephant charges through the forest. Individually, we have one agenda while the body has another; trying to will our body to do something it does not want to do is futile. The influence, attraction and pull of external desires and forces begin to subside when we become consciously connected to the soul’s ideals and the motivation from the Observer. External influences will continue until we have opened ourselves to this higher internal state. Cravings, restlessness, and the inclination to attract old habits and desires will persist until this higher state of Self is embraced; in time, nothing will be able rekindle past attachments or addictions.
With the help of God, the first step in self-discipline is to clearly define the goal to be achieved; make it simple and clear. There is a saying about exercising self-discipline, “If you are giving up, tell people about it; if you are going up, keep it to yourself.” Consciously connect this goal to the higher perception and knowledge of the Observer within until one clearly visualizes\experiences what success feels like. Let this feeling penetrate the brain-centers connected with the particular tendencies and impulses the body experiences. The tissues connected with knowledge are very delicate, and susceptible to mild coercion which can help establish favorable conditions for attaining the goal. Also, we have to manage the primal instincts and bodily impulses which are particularly strong in the solar plexus (the center of the personal self).
The real purpose of self-discipline is to create a new life experience. In physics, the law of conservation of energy means energy cannot be created or destroyed; but energy can be transformed or transferred. Through self-discipline, we are visualizing a new life experience free from worldly attachments and bad habits. As stated above, where we focus our attention is where our light of life is directed. If we focus on our “new life experience” we give it life, and bring it into manifestation; and as we withdraw our attention away from our old bad habits, we draw the life out of it until it disappears.
Gradually, the old energies are transferred into the new vision of life and we become the new life experience. In conjunction with the discipline of creating a new life, while in one’s daily activities, have the discipline to experience the senses of the body free from all: preferences, indulgences, attachments, or aversions. Just have a simple and pure perception free from likes and dislikes. This formula for success with self-discipline depends upon embedding the feeling, inspiration, and motivation of the clearly defined goal deeply into one’s heart and mind.
Although there are spiritual struggles on the path of awakening, these challenges are preparing the individual to receive the light. The structured progression of growth has been established on the Way of Life so each individual walking the path has similar experiences. The Light awaits the true seeker because Jesus Christ established the path, but it is a straight and narrow way. In these spiritual practices of awakening, the initiate has to consistently practice discernment, renunciation, and self-discipline until he or she feels stable and steadfast within. With the success on these three stages of awakening, the initiate enters another stage of awakening – self-restraint.
When one has a stable, awakened, and poised spiritual awareness from practicing focused-breathing meditation, and the first five disciplines, self-restraint, in regard to worldly activities, begins to eradicate the adverse effects of our present and past actions. We become aware of the adverse effects of our current habits, conditioning, and patterns of behavior, and of the deeds we had done in the past. Memories of past deeds or awareness of recent actions will come before the “mind’s eye” and we will clearly perceive any inappropriate or incorrect behaviors or actions, and understand what we should have done differently.
With this “clearing” perception, we are putting our deeds into the light, and from our heightened state of consciousness, we are “vaporizing” and neutralizing any past karma or sins until we are “transparent” or selfless. This is the process of establishing our moral foundation and conduct, which means becoming clear, pure and selfless within. For some this can be accomplished in months, for others it will take years; it depends on the time and effort one is putting into these spiritual practices and on the amount of past errors. In truth, it does not really matter how long it takes because the disciple who is truly following the Way of Life has committed his or her life to Christ.
Transformation of the Personality
The following six disciplines: self-evaluation, self-responsibility, discernment, renunciation, self-discipline, and self-restraint are preparing the disciple for the journey ahead. These internal perspectives of self awaken to reveal what a person is truly made of; and that is an important thing for one to know. Conscious development is the ultimate challenge of life – it requires everything of the individual – a complete awakening and acknowledgement of what one is, and a commitment to become the highest ideal of what one can perceive is possible. These six disciplines are the guiding framework which will direct the individual toward Self-realization. All worthwhile adventures require great personal fortitude, courage, commitment, strength of will, humility, enthusiasm, etc. This brings us the next discipline – self-exertion.
The first six disciplines guide us in this quest, changing our personality and our priorities, but self-exertion is what fuels this developmental process. All of the energies generated from this development process are focused on the transformation of our being and soul. What this means is personal transformation is about recognizing and utilizing the vital energies of life and the vital light to incrementally awaken and change our personal perspective about our self and about life. We have to free ourselves from our misconceptions, misperceptions, likes and dislikes, etc. so we can be “clear” enough to see the way ahead for our self. As stated above, all people have to take personal responsibility for themselves while on this journey, and must maintain the path. Internally, each person must maintain the 7 disciplines throughout this journey because these are “the rudder of this ship.”
The persistent focus of self-exertion in the transformation process is upon the ego-persona and the body/body-mind; this is where change takes place. How to bring about the needed changes for personal transformation and Self-realization requires both changes in our being and our attitudes, like: deflating the ego and learning humility; learn what the shadow is and how to manage emotions, urges, anger, apathy, depression, etc.; learn about the instinctual drives and impulses of the body and how to manage these forces; and most especially, work on connecting to the Christ Light within our Heart of Hearts.
Transformation is about preparing oneself to receive the Light of Christ and this transformational process cannot be done without practicing the aforementioned 7 Disciples and meditation. These 7 disciplines are the spiritual remedies for the ignorance, darkness, incorrect and inappropriate behaviors, and the “stinking thinking” of the chattering mind of the ego-persona and the body/body-mind. The ego/body/body-mind identity is who most of the people on the planet think they are; they are stuck in this persona or ego-identity. Thus, many people are uncomfortable or afraid to think about the possible transformation of their personality – they like themselves as they are. For the most part, we all are addicted to our lives; and we don’t want anything turned upside down.
However, it is important to understand that transformation is not about radically changing our lives or our behaviors. What it is about is a process of quiet, internal refinement, allowing for our good qualities to gradually come into manifestation in our life. It is a two-pronged initiative of learning to control and manage the drives, forces, urges and impulses of the body; and to purify our thinking, emotions, and intentions so as to establish a strong internal moral foundation for ourselves. This moral and hopefully, virtuous foundation is actually a shield or field of purified psychic energy (See: Stage 2 Meditation) which surrounds each disciple who has embraced the Light – it is the Armor of Christ which shields the “reborn” disciple from the darkness and evil of the world. It is important for each disciple who has reached this level of understanding, to know how important it is to quietly “let your Light shine” so those of the Light are “standing up and pushing back” on the darkness in this world.
“If you bring forth what is within you, what you
bring forth will save you. If you do not bring
forth what is within you, what you do not
bring forth will destroy you.”
The Sun Said…
Tree look at me, though I will hurt you, even as I give you life;
For when you turn to me, I will open you, and you will reflect my light.
Then, you will suffer to give me your moments, one by one by one,
And everyone will know you are the most beautiful child of the sun;
For my fragrance will surround you, ethereal and simply divine,
And as you give your heart for love, the world will know you are mine.
Then, many will turn to you and surrender to the myrrh of the sun,
And you will touch them with your spirit, one by one by one.