This is a talk by Belsebuub given at Nicosia University, in Cyprus 2006
Having continuity of self-awareness throughout daily life is very difficult, and yet continuity is important for the ability to understand oneself.
Chattering and daydreaming takes thought in its own direction, and subconscious states fill the mind and the psyche with various emotions and feelings.
Productive time may be spent planning or thinking about something, but daydreaming can easily let in ego states. Compulsive thoughts don’t allow constructive thought. Compulsive thoughts arise because of subconscious ego states and the influence of the kundabuffer, the descending energy from the coccyx, which throws up energies from inferior regions that influence the mind, causing it to compulsively churn around thoughts and emotions, like a wheel turning round and round.
Subconscious states need to be seen for self-discovery to occur. Seeing them is called self-observation.
Self-observation and awareness are all part of the “seeing” of consciousness.
Coming out of a daydream is waking from psychological sleep. But that daydream is not in itself as harmful as ego-driven subconscious states, which give thoughts of negativity, worries, fears, pleasures, stress, etc. The daydream state without ego-driven subconscious states is simply the representations or images of the mind.
Understanding how the mind is related to action is important. That understanding is gained through self-observation.
How one approaches spirituality is determined by what one thinks and feels about it. An interest in it is required. That in turn depends upon how one lives one’s life and the priorities one has.
If the interest in the spiritual is simply passing, then the activity in it will be so too.
It’s possible to confuse thinking about awareness with actual awareness, yet they are not the same thing. Thought can lead to awareness providing a remembrance for it to begin. Yet awareness is “felt”; to see the difference between thinking and feeling, between true awareness and thought, takes some practice. If it’s just done mentally, it’s not going to work.
Events in life give rise to inner states; by observing these states the events of life become valuable for learning about yourself. Everyone has to respond to life and to the various situations that are faced daily, and if someone can’t observe themselves, they’re going miss their opportunities for learning.
Inner faculties are difficult to explain with words very clearly. Everyone who wants self-knowledge has to find out for themselves how to actually do it.
How to Avoid Being Swallowed Up by a Mundane Life
To remember yourself throughout your life you have to dedicate your life to reaching enlightenment and helping others to do so. Otherwise mundane living will swallow you up.
If someone lives a mundane life with enlightenment as an added on interest, they’ll find that they have such little spiritual strength, that they can only observe themselves occasionally, such as when something acts as a reminder for that observation, or when with a group of like-minded people, or when talking about the esoteric work, or when something external reminds them to observe.
There’s nothing essentially in mundane daily life that brings about the reminder of self-awareness, so it’s easily forgotten. And then, time just goes by.
If you learn to be in self-remembrance and self-observation then you can learn from events and die to your egos. To awaken you need three things: inner death, birth (alchemy), and sacrifice for others. So you must become good at those three things, without falling into the traps of a contented belief system: not becoming an individual content in a religion, lost within its structure, existing in a fantasy world, and trapped in the past. You have to be committed and an inner revolutionary, able to practice and self-observe in whatever you’re doing, at any time and in any place.
If you can’t observe yourself, you’ve got no chance of dying to yourself. But to discover how to observe yourself you must investigate and explore it.
It is not easy; the theoretical information on how to do it is given to you, but the experience of it will cost you a lot in effort.
Explore and discover how you can remember to observe and search to find how it works. Many of the problems encountered in observing are due to not actually remembering to observe.
If there’s no will to observe, it must mean that there’s something within that doesn’t wish to observe at that time. If you can train yourself to observe, it becomes part of your way of being and part of your way of life, which is why it’s so important to get it right.
It’s something “felt,” and is to be discovered for oneself. It can’t be taught intellectually. It’s possible to get information about it from either the astral world or dreams if you work enough. The information you find there can help you to know what to do.
When I was starting off in the esoteric path, I knew that I had to get awareness working correctly; I knew that it was a very important part of the work. Although I was trying to be aware in a certain way, I couldn’t quite get it to work properly. But I kept trying, and through sheer effort in my dreams I was shown mistakes that I was making, ways that I could approach it, and things that I could do to correct it. Then I applied that and learned to do it properly. But the actual information that I got from my dreams was a result of a lot of effort.
It is such an important thing to learn how to observe correctly, and its lack of understanding is a factor in people’s failure to awaken.
To get information from dreams you must make efforts. You might just have an interest in awakening, but not make many efforts to do it. Then you won’t get the information in dreams which will allow you to explore deeply.
Q: What governs remembrance? I often wonder about it and it concerns me, because if I don’t remember, I cannot get rid of my defects.
Belsebuub: Yes, it is a concerning issue, because although wishing to do the work, it’s difficult to remember to do it. You need to reflect to find understanding. One point to realize is that you are studying in daily life, that this is a school where you are studying. This is something that it is not taken into account very well. It may seem that it is not the case, but it is because of that, that everyone is here—to study and learn.
You may sometimes have dreams where you are studying in a classroom. That is an experience that is not just for that night: the fact is that everyone who is trying to change (more so those on the path) is taken as a student in the internal worlds, and is assessed there too. Then, if you want to remember to do the work, you need to immerse yourself in it and take yourself as a student who is going to study in a day and be marked at the end of that day. Then your main focus will be to study that day to be marked at the end of it. In this way you will remember to do the work more and more.
I also often tried and reflected upon what you said previously, that we have to record in our mind and think about the inner death. But how exactly do you record it in your mind?
Thoughts are a driving mechanism. If you have something as a priority, you will be thinking about it. Likewise, you need to make the inner work a priority—surround yourself with the things of the work externally and also internally. Watch the activities you do during the day and study yourself. It helps to have the frame of work in the activities you do throughout the day, or at least some of it, to help you to remember internal things. The ancient Egyptians for example had esoteric symbols on their walls, temples, etc.—they were in that environment.
You don’t just do the inner work here and there and then carry on with mundane life, but your whole frame of mind is set upon doing the work by watching the activities you do during the day and studying yourself internally.
Thought compels and directs everyone; it usually drives the psyche and actions. To combat this, there has to be a longing for the spiritual and an inner dedication that puts your mind upon what you are doing at the time and makes the awareness active. Then you can use whatever situation you’re in for self-discovery and the destruction of negative states. If you only remember to do it occasionally, you won’t get very far.
How can the consciousness help us to understand something?
Consciousness goes through the mind, it is at the center of it. So for example, you could see a situation and instantly understand it. This is used all the time; it’s a major factor in actually surviving as people. You get an instant understanding which is from consciousness—it’s not a thought, a sensation, or an instinct. It’s not part of what you have learned either—you have an instant comprehension of the situation, and that’s consciousness in action – it’s the intelligence of consciousness.
That’s not to say that you can’t use your mind to solve problems and act; you have to use the mind otherwise you become immobilized.
Just be on whatever it is you’re doing at the time, keeping clear of daydreams and subconscious states. This allows you to think more clearly about what you’re doing.
Some say that not every thought is an ego.
If every thought was an ego and you tried to get rid of every one, you’d become incapable of functioning. Imagine now you got rid of all the information about computers and you earned your living from them, what would you do?
Sometimes we make a mistake and we consult our mind and say that what we see has to be an ego. But it’s not always.
No, that’s right. The intellectual center is a center—it’s a useful thing, but it’s used by the egos.
The egos take it over. So for example, instead of studying something about computers, you just start thinking about what you did in the morning, then other subconscious states come in and you may start to feel that you don’t really want to study computers anymore.
What about the conscience?
What is called the conscience can be a moral sense, but in its true spiritual sense it’s when the consciousness/essence has the effect of making someone feel that they’ve done something wrong – it hits inside, and brings remorse and regret.
It may not necessarily be the conscience that is hammering. It can also be an ego or a moral sense, and it’s only through observation and experience that you begin to distinguish between them.
How can you tell the difference between being aware and not being aware?
The only way to tell the difference is to actually be aware, because it’s not a thought. If you’re so used to thinking, then you can easily just think about awareness, so what you have to do is to practice being aware.
Try doing something where you just concentrate upon being aware, for example, go for a walk and just practice and feel what it is to be aware, and to feel through your five senses. It really is a matter of practice, because the mind can’t give the answer—it’s something different to the mind.
It’s a matter of playing with it…
In a way, but investigate it, and when you do, try to feel it.
What I wanted to add on this is that we go through many tasks in our life and we bypass them without paying attention to them enough anyway. Maybe that is what we are talking about by being aware and not being aware? This is what I understand about being aware, because if I go by, past a human being having a problem and I don’t pay attention to it, I’m not being aware of something happening…
Being aware shouldn’t stop you from being aware of what’s happening around you. If it does, you’re not practicing it properly.
Awareness is internal and external; investigate how it works. If a person progresses enough in the esoteric work, then their consciousness gets much stronger and it merges with the spiritual. And this spiritual can dominate the egos, so you can rest in spiritual peace.
Being aware is not a thought—if you make it thought, it won’t work, because you’ll always find something else to think about and there will always be demands which life makes, which take your attention.
You’ve got to feel it; that’s the first step. If you can, then you can do it in whatever you’re doing. Learning about it requires an investigation in which you experiment in order to find out how it works. It’s like a scientist at work: a research project takes time and work, often with experimentation.
Everyone is used to ways of living that don’t allow the development of consciousness. If you want to develop consciousness you have to learn how to, and for that you need to practice and experiment. Once you get it, you have the ability to repeat it.
It’s simple, and you can even get it the first attempt, but the mind makes it very complicated, and that’s a great obstruction to it.
So to give an example, when you say that to be aware that we feel angry, is it like when I feel angry I feel my blood come up to my head and so on, because to me I find that blood is moving to the head, or that my stomach is being rattled—this is what you mean?
Look for the sensations and the feelings of it. If you’re thinking that blood is moving to your head you can actually miss observing anger itself. But if you perceive things happening, then you’re observing them and when you see, you understand. There is a latent understanding within that arises from consciousness and it gives wisdom and common sense. This is how to really get around in life; a lot of it is common sense. When you see something within yourself, you can understand it. If you don’t understand it, you’ll just try to work it out and never really know what’s going on.
When I try to think about being aware, that awareness disappears.
The thought of awareness is not awareness. It’s normal that when you think about being aware, actual awareness disappears if the thought doesn’t lead to the action of being aware. If you’re not used to being aware, you won’t know how to act with awareness.
It’s a pleasant feeling though.
Yes, but if it’s so pleasant, then why don’t you do it all the time?
Because of the mind and the emotions.
Yes, so to really change, you have to strengthen the essence, the consciousness. And that requires a change in the very structure of your inner nature. If your inner nature changes enough and the essence is stronger, it has more power to manifest and overcome the egos.
In trying to realize really what awareness is, being aware. What I have come to understand is that if by passing a cat which was hit by a car and struggling with pain, I see, I visualize, I experience the fact happening in front of me just looking at it, but if I don’t allow myself to feel the pain or the sorrow for what’s happening, then I’m not aware, I’m not close to awareness, I’m not functioning awareness. Have I said it correctly?
Are you saying that if you don’t allow yourself to feel pain for that animal, you are not really being aware?
Yes, or I’m not being aware if I trick my mind to something else like, “Ok, I’m looking at the cat and it’s struggling,” that’s it, and bypass it. If I don’t allow myself to feel that this is not proper, that it shouldn’t happen, then I’m not aware.
You’re thinking about it too much, you’re caught in an endless circle of thought. You’re feeling something for the suffering of the cat, and at the same time thinking about how you should act with awareness.
I’m trying to distinguish between the two, not to mix the mind with awareness.
But you’re trying to distinguish intellectually; this is the problem. You’ve got to start right from the basics by knowing how awareness feels, which you know by being aware. Then you will be able to distinguish between genuine compassion (which comes from the essence) and the various emotions. But you’ve got to start with the very basics first, because if you don’t understand them, you’ll just be applying ideas and they won’t clearly show you what awareness is, nor will they show you the faculties of consciousness, which do exist, but which are smothered by the intellect and by various lower emotions.
You need to practice with the willingness to keep trying.
Are you saying that the cat isn’t the problem, it’s within us—is this what you’re trying to say?
The fact is, the cat is suffering and there’s nothing that can be done about it, so then how does a person react to the cat? Do they go into shock and trauma? Are they so locked in thought that they are just like robots that have no care for anything? It’s neither of these things. There is within a natural and spontaneous way of acting.
You can see this most obviously in children, because children have a natural, free spontaneity, but they have it as a kind of innocence, without real knowledge of things. Although they have an innate knowledge in their essence, it becomes less and less with time. As a person grows the egos increase and strengthen, the intellect also develops, and is controlled basically by the egos. Then the spontaneity of childhood becomes lost. A child is not an unfeeling robot; there are natural qualities of consciousness, which include care and love for others.
In the esoteric work consciousness is freed and so increased, and the spiritual part is freed. The egos are the various emotions. They are not spiritual—they are animal. They exist in animals in a very simple form: a lion gets angry in the same way that a person gets angry. Dogs fight for food. If there was a machine outside a bank which was throwing out money, you could see people fighting in a similar way. The basic egos that are in animals, are also within people through the process of evolution.
Now as a human being, you can continue to live and act in this animalistic way, being driven by these various sensations, moving toward pleasure and away from pain, with all of the complicated things that exists in life. You could stay like this, and most people do, but you have the opportunity to change and to awaken the spiritual within you, and this is a better way to be.
You know how popular violent movies are. What kind of emotions drive people to watch films where others are involved in crime? And why is it that horror films are so popular? It’s because there’s an enjoyment in lower emotions. There are far more movies like this than there are spiritual movies, and that tells you something about the state of humanity.
And then we see the results throughout the world: wars, famine, greed, destruction of the environment, etc., and all of this is because of what’s within each person. You can’t expect people to behave perfectly if inside all this negativity is going on. You need to study and see the negativity and then gradually get rid of it, so that the consciousness, the essence, the spiritual part within can increase in its strength and wisdom.
I have been feeling anger and jealousy a lot recently; can you say something about them?
Given the appropriate circumstances, anger and jealousy like any ego will repeat themselves. Every time you are in them, those inner states get psychic food, which makes them stronger. The more you feed them, the stronger they get. In this way, through repetition and strengthening of egos, people develop jealous or angry personalities. Given a similar set of circumstances in the future, you would see those egos again—and they will increase in their strength the more you feed them.
What you need to do is to learn to observe them. So when you see a similar circumstance—maybe that person again—look inside to see that jealousy, to see how it feels inside, how it makes you act, etc. You also then do the same with anger. But to do that you have to be observing yourself. You can look back over it sometime later, but if you just remember afterwards without having observed it as it was happening, you will miss very important information.
You mean to say being aware?
To be aware is to perceive both of the outside world and the inside world at the same time, as one. So you’re aware of the environment you are in, and aware of what alters the perception of it. As an example, you may be aware that you’re not clean inside, that you’re not in pure awareness, but are feeling an emotion of jealousy. So try coming back to the present moment, try being aware. If you know how to die to yourself, you can deal with the ego in the moment that it arises.
Another important thing you can do is to carry out an exercise of analysis and meditation on the ego sometime after the event, probably later in the day. Very simply, look back over the event, see how that ego state has manifested in it, and how it has made you act, then see how it has manifested through your life and analyze and meditate upon it to get understanding about it.
It’s one thing to see an ego, but another to remove it. And it’s better not only to be able to see it, but to remove it too.
Be able to see an ego and learn not to feed it. If you don’t want to feed it, don’t stay in it. If for example you realize you’re feeling angry, watch it, be aware of it, try to be aware of the present moment. That slowly makes you stop giving psychic energy to that emotion and so it gets weaker.
Emotions don’t stay all the time, one appears then another replaces it. Anger is eventually replaced by a different ego such as laziness for example, which could be replaced by greed, and so on—these states are not permanent. The permanent part within is consciousness; this is the immortal part, and it is what needs to be strengthened. Everything else is temporary, it just comes and goes.
I believe that in relation to the question of what we do when we find something within us, the answer is prayer. It was given to humanity years ago and upon creation in order to study and develop ourselves.
As Jesus said, watch and pray. The two go together. To watch is to do things awake, observing within and outside.
To understand esoteric things you have to start with the practical things of daily life, with what you can see and do, because you’ve got to have your feet on the ground. If you want to study very spiritual things you have to first begin to understand yourself. If you don’t, you’ll simply have a belief.
If I try to deal with anger in this way, won’t I just be suppressing it?
It’s not a matter of suppressing anger, but of seeing it and understanding it. Suppression means that the inner state is raging, but you try not to express it. Instead, observe the emotion and be as aware as you can. Later, try to get more understanding of the ego by analyzing it.
If you look at the results of anger, you’ll see people fighting, hitting each other, being full of hatred, etc. There is a way to act without anger and it’s a better way. Acting with understanding is a much better way of acting than shouting at someone or hitting them.
Some think that if they don’t have these egos, that they won’t be able to act, but it’s not true. One way of acting is replaced by a superior way, so the lower, animal states and ways of acting are replaced by others of a superior kind, with understanding, wisdom, love, compassion, knowledge, etc. And that doesn’t make anyone a “stupid saint,” nor does it make them unable to act in life; on the contrary, they are able to act with intelligence, because real intelligence comes from the essence.
Intelligence is not simply an intellectual matter of remembering things and then weighing up options. With real intelligence, comprehension is direct and immediate and gives superior knowledge. This is a much better way of acting.
I sometimes can reach a point where I kind of—and I used to mistake this for awareness—where I reach kind of a more of a stoic or numb state, where it’s like a false contentment almost. And I’ve also noticed that in doing practices, like afterwards I’ll just feel like, “Oh, that went well,” but not really exploring it. And I just wondered if you could comment on that a little bit?
That numb state is being in a daze. When you reach spirituality, it has an impact upon you, and it makes you want to have more. In the same way, at the same time, it guides you as to what to do.
When you just act mundanely in a state of psychological sleep and then think about your actions, analyzing and judging them, you haven’t reached to the core consciousness. Reaching to the core is vital, because then it becomes your guide, and it leads you in action. So learn to reach to that core, to the inner guide.
When you reach the guide you know what it feels like. If you can get to that, it will help you to act.
Sometimes I work toward being more aware and it seems like as soon as I get a bit of understanding, I want to hold onto that understanding and it makes me nervous about moving forward, like I fear that something’s going to take it away. I just wondered if you could expand on that a little?
This is something that your thought process is bringing up. If you are trying to be aware and feel any kind of emotion or worry because of it, you’re not properly aware. Keep your mind concentrated on what you’re doing at any moment and fight even the traps of your mind that will take you away from your purpose and what you need to do.
Just get on with it and then fight your way through. As you do that, you learn about the various traps of the mind, and that’s how you start to get yourself free from them.
If you do things in the usual mechanical, half-asleep way, your actions will be just actions, the same as those done every day by anyone living a mundane life. But if you do them while self-aware, their personal significance is substantially altered.
More in the series of lectures at the university of Nicosia, Cyprus June 2006: