Week One Topic: Self-Knowledge Course Outline
In this topic, Belsebuub provides an introduction to the course and to the study of self-knowledge. This course, he says, gives the information to start an inner search, a process that can lead to a profound inner transformation.
Belsebuub also explains how the course is one of a series of courses studying the esoteric, with the goal of leading towards the path to liberation:
Esoteric refers to things that are hidden within, such as the answers to the big questions of life: Why are we here? What’s our true purpose in life? And where do we come from? Discovering the answers to questions like this is essentially done through self-knowledge and the work along the esoteric path. This course is a starting point for a vast exploration and transformation; in it we will explore the world of thoughts, emotions, feelings, and consciousness—the fundamental aspects that make up each person and how to begin to change.
The Method of Study
Belsebuub explains that the method of study for the course is to learn through doing, by practicing the various exercises provided. These exercises give the capability to explore within and to see what is happening psychologically, which is what allows for in-depth understanding and insight to develop.
Belsebuub contrasts this approach with that of modern conventional psychology, which studies the symptoms and effects caused by inner states but which cannot give a deep insight into their nature. To really understand emotions such as anger, Belsebuub explains, they have to be seen and experienced directly, and this is what an inner study achieves.
The Three Ways of Being
There are various ways of responding to the situations of life, Belsebuub explains, and these different ways of being can lead to different outcomes.
He states that the lowest and most animalistic way of being is to respond emotionally or instinctually to the situations of life. He contrasts this emotional way of being to responding to life with reason and the intellect. He explains that this can lead to better outcomes but can also still create grave problems, as the intellect can easily be influenced by self-interested calculations and prejudices.
Belsebuub states that the highest way of being is to act with awareness, which unlocks the intelligence of consciousness, the spiritual part within.
Most people lack real peace, Belsebuub explains, despite wealth or prestige, and it is often mistaken for absorption with an activity or a pleasureable feeling. However, real peace he states is a quality of the spiritual within, and is developed as part of a spiritual work. The consciousness within provides a basic level of spiritual peace and a starting point for spiritual development:
There is enough spiritual matter within an ordinary person to feel some spiritual peace; this serves as the basis for the individual’s spiritual development and is as a guiding light along the way that is surrounded by darkness. If this were not the case there would simply not be the inclination or direction to advance spiritually. This basic spiritual matter is the consciousness or essence.
The consequences of the lack of peace within and of people living mainly in the first two ways of being is evident in the state of the world, Belsebuub explains. The widespread war, poverty, immense human suffering, destruction of the environment, and massive wealth inequality we see in the world are all symptoms of the inner condition of humanity and could be resolved through inner change. Belsebuub emphasizes that this inner change needs to come from each person, so the collective change within society can only come about if individuals decide to change and become an example and help for others to do the same.
Belsebuub states that the cause of this suffering in life is the subconscious which operates based on a search for pleasure and the avoidance of pain. This pleasure-pain cycle becomes continual and inevitable, Belsebuub states, thereby trapping a person in misery.
The cause of all this misery and suffering is the animal nature within people, the egos, which comprise the subconscious. The drives and impulses of the egos override the feelings of caring or consideration of others, as people selfishly go out to get whatever they can from the situations of life.
These subconscious states are essentially the result of evolution from the animal kingdom, Belsebuub explains, as many animals can have the same basic reactions and instincts as humans, but in humans these states can grow more complex due to the intellect. Most people act primarily through subconscious ways of being, Belsebuub states, and do not develop the consciousness, but he also clarifies that life does not need to be this way.
Change is possible if we become aware of what we wish to change and observe it thoroughly and precisely, Belsebuub says, and this is why self-knowledge is so important. By seeing what is within and changing it, people can transform their way of being and their lives.
The life of each person is controlled by what is within; actions occur because of what is within. If what is within is a confusion, a bundle of inner states that appear out of nowhere, a mix-up of pleasure, pain, compulsive desires, negativity, etc., then the actions will be the result of all that. Just because this is the normal way of being for almost all people doesn’t mean that it has to be that way.
Week One Exercise: Remembering Dreams
The exercise for the first week of the course is remembering dreams, which Belsebuub states can be useful for self-knowledge as they provide valuable insights into the subconscious and can also contain spiritual events or teachings.
Belsebuub explains the importance of lying very still upon waking up in the morning and retrospecting over dreams. He also gives a mantra, Raom Gaom, which he says can help increase the capability of remembering dreams and suggests recording dreams in a dream diary that can be reviewed over time.