Consciousness


Last week’s post on “giving a gift to consciousness” brings us back to the foundation of this teaching. The “Be” pyramid aims at change of consciousness. We only alter functions in as much as they affect consciousness. For this, we must establish the difference between consciousness and functions, which is the aim of this week’s tutorial. It outlines the three parameters by which consciousness is measured: frequency, duration and depth. And it sets an aim to increase the frequency of our consciousness by using the ring-tone of our phone as an alarm clock to remind us to “Be.”

The Many “I”s


In the previous tutorial, we set an aim to increase the frequency of our consciousness by changing the ring-tones of our phones and using them as reminders to “Be.” But why do we need external reminders? Why can we not remember to “Be” simply because we want to “Be”? The reason lies in our multiplicity, in our Many “I”s. In this tutorial, we will examine our psychological landscape as a multiplicity. We will superimpose it onto a painting of Jesus preaching to the multitudes, by Jan Bruegel. And we will explore how to keep aim despite our lack of unity.

Self-Observation


How does the appearance of light manifest in the Micro-cosmos man? In this tutorial, we will take the dramatic image of the rising sun internally. We will look at it as self-observation, in the sense of directing a ray of light within. We will draw from the Genesis Creation of Light, using a depiction of that episode in the San Marco mosaics in Venice. We will see why our effort to Be must include an element of self-observation. And we will set a weekly exercise to introduce self-observation to our moment-to-moment efforts.

Small Aims


In the tutorial on “Consciousness,” we listed the three parameters by which consciousness can be measured: frequency, duration, and depth. In the tutorial on “The Many “I”s,” we studied our multiplicity, and created external shocks to remind us to Be, in effect increasing frequency. In the tutorial on “Self-Observation,” we added the element of observing ourselves to each moment we remembered to “Be,” in effect adding depth. In this tutorial, we will add duration. We will attempt to prolong consciousness by focusing on a small unit of time and increasing the frequency in it so much that the many sparks unite into a single flame. We will draw from the Hindu myth of the Churning of the Milky Ocean as a description of how duration can be attained by pulling against habit. And we will set specific aims to pull against the habits we observed last week.

Knowledge and Being


During the labor of February, we experimented with using our deeper habits as fuel for self-observation. This required intelligent, rather than forceful, efforts. As our understanding of ourselves deepens, so does our ability to make such intelligent efforts.

Understanding is the resultant of a simultaneous growth of knowledge and being. Prince Siddhartha's explorations outside his palace walls portray this process, wherein the prince first witnesses new things (being) and is then explained their meaning by his charioteer (knowledge). In this tutorial, we apply this principle to work with negativity.

Payment and Effort


In the Fourth Way, knowledge goes hand in hand with verification. Knowledge can be given, but verification is only earned through payment. In this tutorial, we will go deeper into the principle of payment; we will weave it into the non-expression of negative emotions; and view the effort of non-expression of negative emotions as a form of payment. We will draw from the Biblical story of the hospitality of Abraham, a symbolic expression of the need of sacrifice to receive the present on its own terms. And we will see that resisting the expression of negative emotions is a fundamental payment in this work.

Positive Attitude


There is a paradox in this work: When I am in a higher state of consciousness I know exactly what I must do in order to "Be," but I don't need that knowledge because I already "Am." When I am in a lower state of consciousness I forget what I must do in order to "Be," precisely when that knowledge would be most beneficial to me. In this tutorial, we will explore the role of attitudes in bridging between these two extremes, a way of retaining some of the traces of my higher understandings even when my consciousness has declined. We will draw from the Biblical story of Moses descending from Mount Sinai with tablets, as an allegory of retaining something with us when we descend from a higher state. And we will set an aim to apply these methods throughout the week, pulling against the wrong attitudes of negative emotions by applying positive attitudes.

Negative Emotions


What is the transformation that this teaching points to? What actually happens when I reach the top of the pyramid? In the tutorial on "Knowledge and Being" we examined how learning proceeds step by step, one step of knowledge followed by a step of verification, and we applied this principle to observing negative emotions. In the tutorial on "Payment and Effort" we examined the wrong attitudes behind negative emotions, and experimented with sacrificing them. In the tutorial on "Positive Attitude" we examined how our higher moments of consciousness may form new attitudes, attitudes that then remain even when our consciousness declines. Self-study; sacrificing wrong attitudes; creating new attitudes; these are fundamental aspects of working with negativity. But what is the ultimate aim behind the non-expression of negative emotions? In this tutorial, we will explore that aim. We will draw from the Hindu myth of the "Churning of the Milky Ocean" specifically the base of the churning, where Vishnu incarnates in the form of a turtle to support Mount Mandara. And we will use this myth to convey the transformative potential behind the non-expression of negative emotions.

Four Lower Centers (Part 1)


Just as photosynthesis increases the production of energy in a plant, self-remembering increases the production of energy in the micro-cosmos. This means that after a series of successful efforts we have more energy at our disposal. This energy is volatile and will seek to leak out. "If we do not stop these leaks," advises Peter Ouspensky, "increased production will only increase the leaks." Therefore, in the context of the April Labor of focusing on successful efforts, let us dedicate this coming week to observing and stopping leaks.

Which habitual leaks can you observe in yourself?

Micro-Cosmos


What is a cosmos? Why may a human being be considered a cosmos? And what are the implications of this special status? In this tutorial we see that one of the important implications of this status is that we can learn by seeing ourselves reflected in other cosmoses. This echoes the ancient saying of “As above so below” and “As within so without.” We draw from the Biblical creation of man as depicted in the mosaics of San Marco in Venice, and highlight a particular nuance in the creation that is often overlooked. And we set an aim to learn more about ourselves through studying the behavior of others.

Heart and Mind


Each moment is a lock that has a key. First, I must remember my aim to "Be." This, in itself, is difficult, because I am not unified, I forget. But even then, when I do remember, there remain two more elements that determine whether I can unlock the moment: Can I find the right effort for this moment? And can I find the strength to make that effort? In this tutorial, we will explore these two elements. We will draw from a depiction of God creating Man in his own image by Lucas Cranach and see how these two elements are portrayed in this Biblical episode. And we will set a weekly aim that will help us observe these two elements in our moment-to-moment efforts to "Be," an aim that will make us more intimately familiar with our hearts and our minds.

Identification


If I cannot see the thoughts, sensations and emotions of this moment as a small part of me, as something separate from the rest of myself, then they become all of me, I fall into what in this teaching is called, a state of identification. In this tutorial we will examine this state. We will draw from the Genesis story of the fall from Paradise, as a symbolic representation of how, through negligence, the heart and the mind cease reflecting God, and fall into identification. We will use Cranach's depiction of this scene, and focus on an unique interpretation he adds to the Biblical story. And we will set an aim throughout the week, to observe, as best as we can, and resist falling into the state of identification.

Self-Observation

We become responsible for what we see. The moment I witness a manifestation of my sleep, my conscience cannot remain clear without my attempting to work on that manifestation. Therefore, aims rooted in self-observation are accompanied by the desire to change, an indispensable fuel for effort. This tutorial explores self-observation as directing a ray of light within, a light that can then spread backwards to show me how I looked a moment before I awakened.

Separation and Naming


We bite on the temptation of the moment. Our minds, our bodies and our hearts get carried away and cast our Micro-cosmos into chaos. We call this state identification, because it is characterized by a misplaced sense of identity, by mistakenly calling the impulse of the moment "I." But the ways down and up are the same, and the same three brains help us restore order in the Micro-cosmos. In this tutorial we will experiment with reversing the fall into identification. We will return to the Basilica of San Marco in Venice and examine a lesser-known episode from the Genesis creation that is instrumental in this process, that of Adam naming the animals. And we will set an exercise to name the temptation of the moment, throughout as many moments of our day as possible, separating our Mind from identification, through naming.

Master


Where does this work lead to? What would happen if we succeeded in prolonging our efforts to “Be” so that our consciousness became a constant flame? If we became more consistently conscious, then we would access two new functions called “higher emotional” and “higher intellectual” centers. These are not ordinary functions like the emotional, intellectual or moving functions. They are aspects of the Master. In this tutorial we will examine these two functions. We will draw from the Gospel scene of Mary meeting Jesus in the garden, to see how the Genesis temptation is reversed, and Paradise regained. And we will use this understanding to place our daily efforts in a bigger context. Our moment-to-moment efforts to resist haste, resist expressing negativity, resist indulging in imagination, ultimately aim to connect with the Master.

Four Lower Centers (Part 1)


This teaching divides our thoughts, emotions, movements and sensations into four sharply defined groups, each of which is controlled by a separate mind or “center.” In this tutorial, we will explore these four centers, their location in the Micro-cosmos, their peculiarities and their speed of action. We will superimpose these centers onto an image of the Last Judgement as portrayed in a Russian icon, to see their relation to our aim to “Be,” and understand how the Physical Body relates to the Astral Body. And we will use our new knowledge of our Micro-cosmos to observe the many “I” more intelligently, separating them from real “I” by assigning them to each of the Four Lower Centers.

Four Lower Centers (Part II – Parts of Centers & Attention)


In the first tutorial on the four lower centers, we presented the Micro-cosmos has having four brains that controlled all of its ordinary functions. In this tutorial we will go deeper into each center and examine its parts based on the level of attention with which they work. As a visual aid, we will use the common deck of cards and assign one of the four suits to each of the four lower centers. Within each suit, the Jacks, Queens and Kings will designate each part of that center. We will see how, to function properly, the parts of a center must collaborate. And we will end by setting an aim to observe in ourselves the different parts of our four lower centers.

Higher and Lower Self


As we verify the functions of our Micro-cosmos, we begin examining each of them from the point of view of consciousness. Which of our functions can aid our aim to “Be,” which is indifferent to it, and which opposes it? In this tutorial we will explore this question. We will draw from the San Marco creation of man out of dust and spirit, dust representing his earthbound part and spirit his higher part. And we will see that the struggle to “Be” is a struggle between man’s Higher and Lower Self.

Deviation


Mara tempts Siddhartha, just as the Genesis serpent tempts Adam and Eve. Like the serpent, Mara uses subtlety. He lists the earthly riches that Siddhartha is about to foolishly renounce. The lesson of this episode is in its timing: Mara appears only when Siddhartha renounces earthly riches. The serpent appears only when God commands to avoid the forbidden fruit. This subtle deceiving element appears only when our higher part formulates an aim, teaching us that the efforts of the Higher Self evoke resistance from the lower self; aims attract deviation.

Difficult Groups of “I”s


The avenues through which we are accustomed to expel sex energy form our "habits." These are "I"s fueled by a particularly strong energy, which means they come with a stronger sense of identity, a stronger sense of "I." In other words, from the point of view of our aim to avoid Identification, to "Be," they are particularly difficult groups of "I"s.

Transformation


True identity is neither in Buddha’s discipline nor in Mara’s army; neither in the gods nor the demons; neither in affirmation nor in negation. True identity resides in the part that witnesses the struggle. We are what observes, not what we observe. Once you verify that the struggle with the many “I”s doesn’t last indefinitely, that your persistence brings you to a point of combustion, you have verified the principle of Transformation.

Habits in the Instinctive Center


How do we find the middle way of satisfying the body’s needs without becoming its slave? Finding this “middle way” will have to do with working on the brain in charge of the well-being of the body, the instinctive center. Moreover, since our bodily needs are recurrent, satisfying those needs is habitual. To maintain consciousness while attending to our bodily needs, we will have to develop disciplines around Habits in our Instinctive Center.