Gnostic Psychology – Part 1A (Introduction)
Modern Science and the Gnostic View
In 2012, a book came out called “The Science Delusion” by Rupert Sheldrake where he emphasized that there were a number of ‘dogmas’ that the modern scientific community held which make them less than objective, which has been called ‘the scientific creed’. What is interesting about these dogmas is that they are in some way an expression of our culture and the general attitude of people in relation to Nature and the Universe. Summarizing these dogmas, we can say that modern science considers Nature and the Universe to be purposeless and, to a certain extend, unconscious. For the Gnostic, this is an aspect of modern science that we would like to address. In order to understand the Gnostic conception of the Universe, we must take into account that all things are interrelated and mutually interdependent, and the same is true for consciousness.
There is an esoteric saying that “the divine balance rules and necessitates eternal mathematics”. This phrase emphasizes that the interrelation of different aspects of the Universe is governed by mathematics (which is why the study of number and the Kabalah become important as we continue these classes on Esoteric subjects). Gnosis takes the position that there is a balance that must always occur in the Universe and that if something is out of balance, it is quickly placed back into balance by certain forces. Very often, in the physical world, these forces are seen as mechanical, but this ‘observation’ does not prove whether or not they are actually guided by a higher intelligence or a kind of consciousness.
For the Gnostic, the concept of consciousness is very particular. To consider Nature and the Universe as purposeless and unconscious is to miss something very important. This is because of what has been called the ‘microcosm-macrocosm’ relationship that exists between the human being, Nature and the Universe. The ‘microcosm-macrocosm’ relationship emphasizes that the human being is a Universe in miniature and that by studying Nature, the Universe and ourselves, we can learn some profound and transcendental truths.
So to consider Nature to be purposeless or unconscious implies the same about ourselves. But Gnosis takes another view: that the human being’s life can have purpose and meaning. Purpose & meaning are realized through understanding the Universe and our place in it, our role or position. Life can be mechanical and purposeless or it can be brilliant and awe-inspiring. The choice is ours. The more we understand about the Universe and the Nature, the more we will understand about ourselves. Certainly there are mechanical laws that govern our existence, but there is also a consciousness that connects everything together. Modern science typically does not focus on consciousness nor its effects on nature and the universe, but for the Gnostic, this is a very critical piece.
In 1999 Masaru Emoto (江本 勝) published a book called “Messages from Water” where he documented experiments about the effect of human consciousness upon the crystallization of water. For example when he put words on water vessels, this changed the structure of the water crystals when frozen. Mr. Emoto also tested different music and its effects on the water crystals as well as blessings or prayers by various religious officials. Many modern scientists disagree that Mr. Emoto’s findings are scientific, but what his work implies is that words, idea or concepts and essentially states of consciousness affect the shape of the water crystals in different ways.
And this brings us to Psychology: the way we think and feel affects the way we act and this shapes the world around us. So our thinking, feeling and acting have an affect on the crystallization of the outside world.
Gnosis, the Universe and the New Science
Gnosis claims that each person should have a vast and lucid spirit and that spirit should try to establish a new rational scientific order in the general customs of living, which will be inspired by the immutable laws of Nature. For the Gnostic, the Universe is understood as a series of interrelated and interpenetrating worlds which work together to form a cohesive whole. This can be represented with a diagram of different musical notes from the Positive Absolute (or Everything) to the Negative Absolute (or Nothing) [see Figure] which is called the ‘Cosmic Octave’.
We begin with the Universe-as-a-whole.
- Then from the Universe are derived the Galaxies (including our Milky Way),
- within these in turn are the Suns and Solar Systems
- From suns & solar systems: Planets are derived,
- from planets we go into their interior where we find
- Organic Life as well as the Human Being and then as we go further,
- the Interior of the Earth, Atoms, and the sub-atomic worlds, etc.
The world above affects the world below (and to a lesser extent the reverse is also true) and understanding the interrelationship between worlds allows us to grasp a great mystery. Each of these countless Cosmic Rays is considered not only as a path of energy transformation but also as a line of growth.
In ‘Gnostic Chemistry & Cosmology’ (or ‘Introduction to Gnostic Kabalah’), we study these things in more detail, but for now, we just want to go over the basic idea because it will help us to grasp the concept of the interrelationship between notes in the Cosmic Octave.
Just as the structure of the ice crystals was affected by words or ideas in Mr. Emoto’s experiments, so too is our world affected by us and do affect our world. Therefore, in understanding all of this, it becomes very important to study our inner world (or internal states) and how they are affecting out external world (or external events). And Gnosis gives us wonderful methods to do this, but first we must understand some things…
What is Gnosis? (Self-Knowledge)
“Gnosis is a cosmic teaching that aims or seeks to restore within each one of us the capacity to live consciously and intelligently. The word ‘Gnosis’ means knowledge, wisdom and is usually interpreted as an absolute and liberating knowledge.
Gnosis is a true scientific school of initiation into life, that pursues a transformation of the human being, and claims that each person must change their basic principles and customs in order to become a true human being.
Gnosis has a mystical philosophy as its lifestyle, and is based upon a rational and scientific conception of the universe.
In ancient times it was said, “Man, know yourself and you will know the universe”, and this is the synthesis of all transcendental wisdom. The transcendental science of Gnosis has this ancient motto as its fundamental cornerstone: “Know yourself”.”
-paraphrase from Ch.1 of The Awakening of Man
“This principle demands that a person who wants to know themselves:
1. should understand what this ‘knowledge of self’ means,
2. with what it is connected,
3. and what it necessarily depends upon.
The human being in his present state is very far from self-knowledge. And therefore our first aim cannot be defined as self-knowledge, instead it should be self-study.
It is very significant when the human being understands that he must study himself. It must be the human being’s aim to begin to study himself, to know himself, in the right way. Self-study is the work or the way which leads to self-knowledge.
But in order to study oneself one must first learn:
1. how to study,
2. where to begin, and
3. what methods to use.
This is because it is only with this self-knowledge that the human being can transform himself.
This knowledge of self is acquired through what we call Gnostic Psychology.”
-paraphrase from Ch.6 of In Search of the Miraculous
What is Psychology?
The word Psychology comes from 2 Greek words:
1. Psyche (ψυχή, psukhē, meaning “breath”, “spirit”, or “soul”)
2. and Logia (-λέγω, legō, translated as “study of” or “research”).
So Psychology literally means, “the study of the soul”.
“In the Ancient Mysteries, Psychology was that part of philosophy which dealt with:
1. the faculties of the soul
2. and its operations.
Therefore, we could also say that it is the science of soul. The study or science of the soul is the first step of that immense ladder which we must necessarily climb in order to comprehend truth. And in order to arrive at the truth it is necessary (from the beginning) for the human being to be free from scientific and religious prejudices.
-paraphrase from Ch.5 of Esoteric Studies in Masonry – Vol. 1
Science and Religion?
Science and Religion are two fields of study which often appear to be opposed, but in reality they are intimately related. In 1861, Eliphas Levi said:
“Now more than ever do science and religion, as well as authority and liberty, seem to deliver themselves over to a bitter war and swear an irreconcilable hatred for each other.
Nonetheless, don’t believe in this war: they are on the verge of uniting themselves and of embracing each other for ever. The discovery of the great secrets of religion and of the science of the Magi, will annihilate fanaticism
• by giving the reason for miracles, and
• by revealing the unity of the universal doctrine.
The truth is higher than all opinions and all parties. The truth is like the sun; blind is he who doesn’t see it.”
-paraphrase from the First Section of The Reconciliation of Science and Religion
Both Science and religion are seeking the same thing: Truth. Science seeks for the truth in the material realm and Religion seeks for the truth in the spiritual realm.
The Origin and Purpose of Psychology
“Psychology is sometimes called a new science, but this is not true: psychology is, perhaps, the oldest science there is and has its origins in the ancient Schools of Mysteries. Unfortunately, so-called modern psychology has lost contact with its true origin and because of this, it is almost impossible to accurately define the term “Psychology”, or to know its fundamental subjects. In order to understand how psychology can be defined, it is necessary to realize that psychology has never existed under its own name except in modern times. For thousands of years psychology existed throughout the world under the name of philosophy.
Parallel with its existence under the name of philosophy, psychology existed even longer connected with one or another religion. There is no doubt that every known legitimate religion developed one or another kind of psychological teaching often connected with a certain practice, so that the study of religion included (in itself) the study of psychology. This can be found if we do a comparative study of religions. If we analyze orthodox religious writings (from different countries and time periods), then we will find in them pure psychological science.
Psychology has also existed in the form of Art: Poetry, Drama, Sculpture, Dancing, even Architecture, were means for transmitting psychological knowledge. For instance, the Gothic cathedrals were in their chief meaning: works on psychology. In the ancient times Psychology existed in the form of Mysteries. In the ancient Mystery Schools of Greece, Egypt, Rome, India, Persia, China, Mexico, Peru, Assyria, Chaldea, etc., Psychology has always been related to Philosophy, to real objective Art, to Science, and to Religion.
In those times, Psychology was intelligently hidden behind
• the graceful forms of Sacred Dancers,
• or behind the enigma of strange Hieroglyphs,
• or beautiful sculptures, poetry, drama,
• and even behind the wonderful music of temples.
Before Science, Philosophy, Art and Religion parted to live independent lives, Psychology reigned supreme in all ancient Schools of Mysteries. Later, after the disappearance of the Mysteries, Psychology existed in the form of Symbolical Teachings which were sometimes connected with the religion of the period and other times not, but manifested in other forms, such as Astrology, Alchemy, Magic, and the more modern forms like Masonry, Occultism, and Theosophy.
Here it is necessary to note that all psychological systems and doctrines, those that exist or existed openly and those that were hidden or disguised, can be divided into two chief categories.
1. First: systems which study human beings as they find them, or as they suppose or imagine human beings to be. So-called Modern psychology belongs to this category.
2. Second: systems which study human beings not from the point of view of what they are, or what they seem to be, but from the point of view of what they may become; that is, from the point of view of the human being’s possible development.
These second systems are in reality the original ones, the most ancient, and only they can explain the forgotten origin and the meaning of Psychology.
When we understand the importance of the study of the human being from the point of view of his possible development, we will understand that Psychology is the study of the principles, laws and facts intimately related to the radical and definitive transformation of the individual.
Gnostic Psychology – Part 1B (Understanding Gnostic Psychology)
Understanding Gnostic Psychology: The Two Worlds
Gnostic Psychology is based on the fact that we can only guarantee one thing: that we can affect ourselves. We may or may not be able to affect others, but we certainly are in a position to greatly affect ourselves and therefore our own personal world. The human being’s world must be understood because as we see ourselves normally, we forget one very important aspect of our lives: our Internal World.
“We find ourselves then before two worlds, the external and the internal. The external is perceived by the senses of external perception. The internal can only be perceived through the sense of internal self-observation.
Thoughts, ideas, emotions, longings, hopes, disappointments, etc., are internal, invisible to the ordinary; common and current senses. Yet, they are more real to us than the dining table or the living room couch. Indeed, we live in our internal world more than in our external world; this is very obvious.
In our Internal Worlds, in our secret world, we love, desire, suspect, bless, curse, yearn, suffer, enjoy, we are disappointed, rewarded, etc. Unquestionably the two worlds, internal and external, are experimentally verifiable. The external world is the observable. The internal world is the self-observable in itself and within itself, here and now.
Whosoever truly wants to know the “Inner Workings” of the planet Earth, or of the Solar System, or of the Galaxy in which we live, must previously know his own intimate world, his individual, internal life, his own “Internal Worlds”.
The more we explore this internal world called “myself”, the more we will comprehend that we simultaneously live in two worlds, in two realities, in two confines: the external and the internal.”
-paraphrase from Ch. 20 of Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology
Therefore, we can say that Gnostic Psychology and the Knowledge of Self is the study of the “Interior World” of each and every one of us.
Understanding Gnostic Psychology: The Four States of Consciousness
The reason we are explaining all of this is so that we can understand:
1. the purpose of Gnostic Psychology
2. and the present state in which humanity finds itself.
Due to our present State of Consciousness, we are not aware of very much.
As we said in the “Dream Yoga and the Astral World” course, quoting from Ch. 37 of Fundamental Education:
“CONSCIOUSNESS is … a very particular kind of APPREHENSION OF INTERIOR KNOWLEDGE which is totally independent of all mental activity. The faculty of CONSCIOUSNESS allows us to know OURSELVES.”
But before explaining this in more detail, let’s talk about the different States of Consciousness.
“In all there are four states of consciousness possible for the human being.
The first and lowest state is sleep, in other words a passive state in which the human being spends a third and very often a half of his life.
And the second is the state in which the human being spends the other part of their lives, when they walk the streets, write books, talk on lofty subjects, take part in politics, and even kill one another. This state is regarded as active and often called ‘clear consciousness’ or the ‘waking state of consciousness’. The term ‘clear consciousness’ or ‘waking state of consciousness’ seems to have been given in jest, especially when you realize the state in which the human being lives and acts.
The third state of consciousness is ‘self-remembering’ or ‘self-consciousness’ or ‘consciousness of one’s being’. It is normal or usual to consider that we already have this state of consciousness or that we can have it if we want it. The third state of consciousness is the natural right of the human being, and if the human being does not possess it, it is only because of the wrong conditions of his life.
The fourth state of consciousness is called the ‘objective state of consciousness’. In this state a human being can see things as they are.
It can be said (without any exaggeration) that at the present time the third state of consciousness occurs only in the form of very rare flashes and that it can be made more or less permanent in us only by means of special training. For most people (even for educated and thinking people) the chief obstacle to acquiring self-consciousness consists in the fact that they think they already possess it, that is, that they possess self-consciousness and everything connected with it…
The fourth state of consciousness in the human being means an altogether different state of being; it is the result of inner growth and of long and difficult work on oneself.“
It is only by understanding these Four States of Consciousness that we can start to understand the purpose of Gnostic Psychology. Unfortunately, the present Humanity spends the majority of their time in the first 2 States and this clearly affects us both when we are physically asleep and when we are supposedly “awake”.
Gnosis and our “Interior World”
“The Human Being is a trio of Body, Soul and Spirit. The soul is a mediator between the spirit and the body.
The Spirit is the Inner-Self, the Inner Being, the Intimate One, it is the Most High in us. Between the terrestrial human being and the Inner-Self is the soul. The soul has a supra-sensible and material body with which it travels through space which is called the Astral body. Therefore, the Astral body has something human and something divine.
The Astral body has its supra-physiology and supra-pathology that are intimately related with the grand sympathetic nervous system and with our glands of internal secretion. The Astral body is endowed with marvelous senses with which we can investigate the great mysteries of life and death.”
These are called “Superior Faculties” or “Higher Senses”, therefore:
“We are souls that have bodies. The body is nothing but the garment of the soul. The body does not think, nor love: what thinks and loves is the soul. The body is only the vestment or garment of the soul. During the hours of sleep, the soul comes out of the body and visits all those places that are familiar to it.
During the hours of sleep, the soul wanders about the sacred mount, which we are told of by the saints of the gospels. [see Luke 9:28-37] This mountain that the Gospels speak of is space. During the hours of sleep, all souls wander about [on] the mount and visit different places, they go wherever their heart takes them. In dreams our souls speak with distant beings, they speak with other souls, and can converse with the angels.
When it is said that Christ, Peter, John, and James climbed the mountain to pray, and that Christ was transfigured in their presence, we have to understand that their bodies of flesh and bone slept while their souls were praying outside of the body, on the mount. Every human being can visit the mount at will. The important thing is to comprehend that we are souls who have bodies, and that we are able to enter and leave the body at will.”
The word “Astral” means: ‘pertaining to or proceeding from the stars; stellar; star-shaped’. The Astral World (that our Astral Body belongs to) corresponds to our Solar System. With this Body we can investigate many things and learn about the Universe. But our problem is that when we go to sleep, we dream. We do not realize where we are or the opportunity that we have…
The Clue of Discernment or Awareness
“It is not dangerous to come out in the astral body because the entire world comes out in the astral body during sleep. The one who wants to awaken consciousness during sleep, should know the clue of discernment.
During sleep, every human being wanders in the internal worlds with the consciousness asleep. The soul enveloped in its astral body abandons the physical body during sleep. This is how the Etheric or Vital body can repair the dense physical body. When the soul enters the body, then we wake up from natural sleep.
In the internal worlds, the souls occupy themselves in the same daily chores. They then buy and sell as in the physical world. The souls of the living and the dead live together during sleep. In the internal worlds, we see everything as in the physical world. The same sun, the same clouds, the same houses of the city; everything is the same. Our Gnostic disciples will now understand why the dead do not accept that they are dead.
By coming out in the astral body we can get to know the mysteries of life and death. Every human being comes out in the astral body during sleep. By awakening consciousness during normal sleep, we can know the great mysteries of life and death. In order to awaken consciousness during sleep, there is a clue. The clue to awaken consciousness is that of Discernment.
Let’s see: If you are going down a street and you meet a friend, or you see objects that attract your attention, pull your finger or take a small jump with the intention of floating; it is logical that if you float it is because you are outside the physical body. However, if you do not float, it is because you are in the physical body.
In the internal worlds we act in the same manner as in flesh and blood, and if to that we add that there we see everything in the same manner as here in the physical world, we will then comprehend that it is only if we succeed at flying that we will awaken consciousness for us to realize that we are in the astral body. This exercise is practiced at every instant during the vigil state before the presence of anything unusual. What is done in the vigil state is repeated during dreaming.
If we do this exercise during sleep, the result will be that we will remain floating in the astral body when we jump. Our consciousness will then awaken and full of happiness we shall say, “I am in the astral body.” In this manner, we will be able to travel in the astral body throughout the infinite.
We do not need to destroy the mind with so many books and theories. In the internal worlds we can receive the teaching of the Masters. Upon awakening from natural sleep, disciples should make the effort to remember everything that they saw and heard during sleep.
It is necessary for our disciples to learn how to interpret their inner experiences. By studying the Book of Daniel in the Bible, they will be able to learn how to interpret their inner experiences. “Sleep and Memory” are powers which permit us to know the great mysteries of life and death. Dreams are “Astral Experiences”. Dreams are real.”
-paraphrase from Ch. 12 of The Major Mysteries
Understanding Gnostic Psychology: During the Hours of Sleep
“As we have said: when the body sleeps, the soul wanders about what the Gospels called the ‘sacred mount’, space or what we refer to as the ‘Astral World’. During the hours of sleep the soul occupies itself with the same activities, professions and occupations of the day. While outside of the body merchants buy and sell in their shops, without realizing that they are outside of the body. During the hours of sleep we see the souls of dressmakers, mechanics, shopkeepers, peddlers, etc., dedicated to the same work and daily jobs.”
“Thus, during his sleep we see the carpenter in his carpentry shop, the policeman guarding the streets, the barber in his barbershop, the blacksmith at his forge, the drunkard in the tavern or bar, the prostitute in the house of pleasures absorbed in lust, etc., etc.”
“Those souls function asleep, convinced and certain that they are in their bodies of flesh and bone. When someone tells them that they are outside of the body, they do not believe it and they mock the person who tells them. If those souls were to realize that they are outside of the body, then they would be able to transport themselves to any corner of the world in a few instants.”
“All these people live in the internal worlds as if they were in the physical world. During sleep it does not occur to any living being to ask whether they are in the physical or astral world. Those who have asked such a question during sleep have awoken in the internal worlds. Then, with amazement, they have been able to study all the marvels of the Superior Worlds.
Only by becoming accustomed to asking ourselves this question from moment to moment (during the so called vigil state) can we manage to ask such a question of ourselves in the superior worlds during the hours given over to sleep. Clearly, while we are asleep, we repeat everything that we do during the day. If during the day we accustom ourselves to asking this question, then this, during nocturnal sleep, while outside the body we will repeat the same question to ourselves. The result will be the awakening of Consciousness.”
Understanding Gnostic Psychology: The Sleeping Consciousness
When we are in the 2nd State of Consciousness, although we are not physically dreaming, very often we are dreaming psychologically. This ‘psychological dreaming’ we call “Fascination” and corresponds to the Sleeping Consciousness…
“The profound sleep, in which humanity lives, is caused by fascination. People are fascinated by everything in life. People forget themselves because they are fascinated. The drunkard in the bar is fascinated by alcohol, the place, the pleasures, their friends and those that they find sexually attractive. The vain person in front of a mirror is fascinated by their appearance. The rich greedy person is fascinated by money and possessions. The honest worker in the factory is fascinated by hard work. The father of the family is fascinated by his children.
All human beings are fascinated and sleep profoundly. Poor people… walking asleep… like sleepwalkers. They walk sleeping, endangering their own lives. Any clairvoyant can see their dreams. People dream about everything that keeps them fascinated.”
“It is necessary to know that humanity lives with its Consciousness asleep. People work sleeping. People walk through the streets sleeping. People live and die sleeping. When we come to the conclusion that the entire world lives sleeping, then we will comprehend the need to awaken.”
Understanding Gnostic Psychology: Awakening the Consciousness
“Remembering Oneself. The human being who is fascinated does not remember Himself. We must self-remember ourselves from instant to instant. We need to self-remember in the presence of every representation that could fascinate us. Let us pause before every representation and ask ourselves: *Where am I? Am I in the physical plane? Or am I in the astral plane? Then give a little jump with the intention of floating in the surrounding atmosphere. It is logical that if you float it is because you are outside the physical body. The result will be the awakening of the Consciousness.
The object of asking this question in each moment is so that it becomes engraved in the subconscious, so that it may manifest later during the hours given to sleep, hours when we are outside the physical body. Remember that in astral things appear just as here in the physical plane. During sleep, and after death, people see everything there in a form so similar to the physical world, that because of this they do not even suspect that they are outside the physical body. No dead person ever believes himself to have died; he is fascinated and profoundly asleep. If, during life, the dead person had made a practice of remembering themselves from moment to moment, if they had struggled against the fascination of the things of the world, the result would have been the awakening of Consciousness. They would not dream. They would walk in the internal worlds with awakened Consciousness.
Whoever awakens Consciousness can study during the hours of sleep all the marvels of the superior worlds. Living in the superior worlds as a totally awakened citizen of the Cosmos. Whoever awakens Consciousness can no longer dream here in this physical plane, nor in the internal worlds. They stop dreaming. Whoever awakens Consciousness be comes a competent investigator of the superior worlds. In the superior worlds the Masters give to each one of us that which we need for our internal development.”
• This week, try to Remember Yourself and ask yourself: “Am I in the Astral or the Physical world?”
• Self-Knowledge Questions: In order to discover what fascinates us.