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Foundation Practices

Kabbalistic Cross

Any time one wishes to invoke the Light-Presence or affirm one’s innate unity with God there is a very simple way. It is called the Kabbalistic Cross. My beloved Tzaddik always said of this practice that “it is swift as a lightning bolt but far more powerful.” The Practice Breathe and envision a Sphere of Fiery-Light above your head, as though all the stars of the universe are gathered there. Raise your hand to that Center of Light and draw it down; touching your forehead, intone Atoh. Envision the Light descending as you move your hand down the very center of your body and, pointing to your feet and the Good Earth beneath them, intone Malkut. Bring your hand back up the center of your body to your heart and envision the extension of Light over to your right shoulder, and touching your right shoulder intone Ve-Gevurah Bring your hand across from your right to your left shoulder, and touching your left shoulder intone Ve-Gedulah. Join both of your hands over your heart, as though to pray, and intone Le-Olam and Amen. In doing this you have invoked the Light of the Cross and the Cross of Light appears in your Subtle Body. This is the Kabbalistic Cross. It’s that simple! This is a spiritual practice in and of itself, but it also appears at the beginning and end of many other spiritual practices in Christian Gnosticism. It is founded upon the simple truth that the inmost part of us is the Christos or Light-Presence and that remembering the Light in us we naturally let it shine through us. The words we intone are the conclusion of the Lord’s Prayer: “You are the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory, forever, amen.” Intoning this we align our soul with the Divine Will and Kingdom, and make ourselves a Holy Vessel of the Shekinah – the Divine Presence and Power.

Atoh is pronounced: Ah-Toe

Malkut is pronounced: Mal-Koot

Ve-Gevurah is pronounced: Vey-Ge-Vur-Ah

Ve-Gedulah is pronounced: Vey-Ge-Dew-La

Le Olam is pronounced: Lay-Oh-Lam (as in lama)

(When practiced in the Assembly Io Adonai is intoned at the throat.)

Primordial Meditation

There are many different states of meditation, all reflecting different levels of kavvanah-concentration and devekut-cleaving, but on a fundamental level meditation is a state of mindfulness and alertness in which one is completely aware of what is transpiring in one’s consciousness and one’s environment. Essentially, meditation is a state in which one is fully alert, yet also fully relaxed and experiencing a peaceful spaciousness. In the Sophian Way the practice of mindfulness is not limited to formal sessions of meditation practice in which one is seated, but is integrated into one’s daily activities. As much as spiritual practice through formal sessions one would typically associate with prayer, meditation and sacred ritual, the Sophian Gnostic seeks to cultivate mindfulness throughout the day, ultimately seeking a seamless union of spiritual practice and daily living. It is this that leads to the development of higher states of consciousness and actual Self-realization. Any activity can be a practice of mindfulness, and coupled with Primordial Meditation the Goodness within oneself will naturally shine forth. In our ordinary condition our consciousness tends to be fragmented and the mind becomes scattered. Likewise, our desire-energy is unfocused and, consequently, our manifesting power is sorely limited. The practice of mindfulness naturally gathers up the fragments of consciousness into an integral whole and brings about a state of focused awareness that allows us to consciously direct our desire-energy. This brings about an experience of greater peace and joy, makes us more effective in whatever we might be doing, brings a state of clarity, and empowers us to consciously direct our desire-energy as a manifesting power – hence it supports our prosperity, success, health and happiness. Generally speaking we tend to identify ourselves with the various moods and mental states that arise in our consciousness. We grasp at one fragment of consciousness after another thinking, “this is me” or “this is who I am.” Through the practice of mindfulness and Primordial Meditation, however, we learn to cultivate a more spacious and panoramic view, and letting go of the pieces we are able to become aware of the whole; hence become aware of the light and the darkness in us, and realize our transcendence of the light or darkness in the Sacred Unity of our True Being. Essentially, we become an authentic individual and experience the tikkune-healing of our Soul-Being. If you consider times when you have acted badly and caused harm to others, you will find that you were not acting as yourself, but rather that you were compelled by negativity, an inclination to violence and turbulent emotions. Basically, in such moments, you have identified yourself with the mood and mental state of your surface consciousness, and lost touch with the deeper part of yourself – your Innate Goodness. Through the practice of mindfulness and Primordial Meditation we learn to diffuse the negativity, aggression and tumultuous emotions, and instead of identifying ourselves with them and repressing them or indulging them, we learn to bring them into the Light of Awareness, with acceptance, generosity and kindness, thus liberating the energy bound up in them. This naturally uplifts our consciousness and gives us more energy for living – essentially we wake up and come to life. Gradually, as one becomes more open and sensitive to the Spirit, and engages in Primordial Meditation, one will experience a greater freedom from negativity and inner conflict, and one will experience wholeness and well-being. As a Lakota Sioux friend once said to me: “You will become comfortable in your own skin.” This practice is called Primordial Meditation because it unveils and reveals your Bornless Being and Innate Goodness; hence your Primordial Nature, which is the very essence of Enlightenment. In Kabbalah the highest Name of God is Eheieh, which means “I Am” or “I Shall Be,” and alludes to Pure or Primordial Being. When Lord Yeshua spoke 'I am' statements, he was speaking from the inmost part of the Soul and Self, which is Pure or Primordial Being in us. The nature of this Divine Being is Pure Radiant Awareness, and it is this that Gnostic Christians speak of as the “Christos” – our Enlightened Nature. In this Light-Presence there is knowledge, understanding and wisdom, for it is a state of Gnostic Being (Knowing Being). And there is love and compassion, and life and freedom, and all good things. It is the source of all power and all blessing in us, and it is the True and Holy Grail of the Sacred Quest. It is the Pearl of Great Price, which Yeshua said a wise merchant would sell everything to acquire, and it is this Master Yeshua was speaking about when he said, “I am the Way, Truth and Life.” Through prayer, meditation and sacred ritual we recognize and realize this Light-Presence and experience conscious unification with the Divine, and through spiritual living we embody the Light-Presence in the world. Primary in this process of Self-realization is meditation, specifically Primordial Meditation – the simplicity of Just Being. In the Sefer Yetzirah (the Book of Formation) it is written: Ten Sefirot (Emanations) of No-Thingness (Ain) Bridle your mouth from speaking and your heart from thinking, And if your heart runs, return to the place. It is therefore written, “The Hayyot running and returning.” (Ezekiel 1:24) Regarding this a covenant was made. Sefer Yetzirah 1:8 The key phrase in this saying is: “And if your heart runs, return to the place.” This “place” is the Presence of Awareness – Just Being, neither grasping at thoughts, emotions and images that arise in the mind, nor reacting to them and pushing them away, but rather abiding in the Presence of Awareness. In other words, abiding in Pure Being. If you become distracted, restore yourself to Pure Being. This Pure Being is the essence of Primordial Meditation. Based upon this verse from the Sefer Yetzirah, speaking of Primordial Meditation my beloved Tzaddik said, “Primordial Meditation is this: Return your heart to its place, let go and let be, and relax. This is enough.” If one is able to naturally and spontaneously do this one needs no method, but for most of us this is too simple and sublime, and we are too bound up in self-grasping, thought and thinking, and all of the constant movement on the surface of consciousness. Therefore, some method of Primordial Meditation is necessary for us to restore ourselves to the Great Natural Perfection or Bornless Being. Of this state the Holy Apostle wrote: “Without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God, he remains a priest forever” (Hebrew 7:3). This is Melchizedek which, according to the masters of the Tradition, represents Bornless Being or Primordial Enlightenment – one who reintegrates him or herself into the state of Pure Being (the Light-Continuum). This is the present Truth of our Inmost Being and Primordial Meditation is the most essential Way to this Self-realization of our Bornless Nature – hence Eternal Life. In conjunction with any method of Primordial Meditation we might practice we can join the affirmation Master Yeshua has given to us: “I am, the Way, Truth and Life.”

Methods of Primordial Meditation:
Primordial Meditation with Breath:

This method is most ancient and is found in many esoteric schools. Essentially, you allow your body to find its own natural rhythm of breath and rest your attention gently on the breath, using breathing as the vehicle of the Presence of Awareness. According to Genesis, once God formed the Human One, God breathed a Living Soul into the First Human Being, who was both male and female. All words for the parts of the Soul in Kabbalah mean “air,” “wind” or “breath,” with the exception of Yechidah, which means “Divine Spark.” Thus, there is an intimate connection between the breath and the power of our Holy Soul. In advanced practices initiates discover a Radiant Holy Breath within and behind the ordinary breath, and a number of Energy or Light-Breaths that sustain the subtle Body of Consciousness. Ruach, which is a word for a principle aspect of the Soul in our experience and also a word for the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, literally means “breath.” In connection with these ideas you may recall the Light-Transmission imparted by the Risen Christ to the disciples, of which it is written: “When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained’” (Gospel of St. John 20:22-23). There is power in our breath and in our breath we are connected to all that lives and to the Spirit of God. In many Christian Gnostic practices the breath becomes the vehicle of the Light-Presence and the direct expression of the power of our Supernal Soul. Thus, Primordial Meditation using the breath as our focus can facilitate the Enlightenment Experience as well as activate the powers of the Soul of Light in us – hence activate psychic and spiritual gifts. When you meditate using this method, breathe naturally, with even inhalations and exhalations, just as you ordinarily do. Focus your awareness very gently on the out-breath, and when you exhale just flow out with the breath. Every time you breathe in, let go and let be, and imagine that at the end of the out-breath your breath dissolves into the infinite spaciousness of Truth. At the end of every exhalation, before the next inhalation, you will find there is a gap – let go and enter into the gap. In the gap is the “place” of Pure and Primordial Being. This is called Perfect Repose. Whatever thoughts or emotions might arise, neither grasp at them nor push them away. Just let them be, and let them naturally arise and pass away, without doing anything with them or entertaining any judgment. If you find that you have become distracted or identified with thoughts and emotions arising, or find yourself daydreaming, merely restore your focus to your breath and continue. If mind enters into the gap and the Natural State dawns, let go of the practice and just calmly abide. If the mind or heart moves, return to the practice. It is that simple. Do not focus too tightly upon breath, but focus upon it lightly. Basically, you want to place about ¼ of your awareness on breath and leave the other ¾ free, abiding in a quiet and spacious state of relaxed awareness. In this state one is essentially aware of oneself and what is happening in one’s consciousness, and aware of what is happening in one’s environment. Instead of watching the breath, as though separate from breath, progressively allow yourself to identify with your breath, as though you are becoming your breath. Breathe and let the breath and the one who is breathing gradually merge in a natural way without unnecessary force. In this practice you will find that as the Presence of Awareness grows you will experience the mind becoming more and more silent and the vital-emotional being becoming more and more quiet. It is as though one is shedding the Serpent’s skin and putting on a Body of Clear or Transparent Light. In this way one is set free!

Primordial Meditation with an Object:

This method is also very ancient and very simple. Instead of focusing one’s awareness upon the breath, one gently rests one’s mind on an object. You can use any object that has a natural beauty and that uplifts and inspires you – a flower, a crystal, a flame, or other similar things. More powerful than this kind of object are sacred objects – Divine Images such as images of the Holy Mother, Lord Yeshua, Lady Mary, John the Baptist, St. Lazarus and other Holy Ones, or images of the Archangels of the Tradition, such as Raphael, Gabriel, Michael and Uriel, among others. One’s Living Tzaddik is the most powerful image of all, because of one’s direct and personal connection to the Elder or Tau who serves as one’s Tzaddik. Merely seeing her or his face invokes the remembrance of the Soul of Light within you and thus generates confidence in the Bornless Nature of your True Being. In this method, merely rest your mind upon the chosen object, and let yourself merge with it – it is the same as with breath, but uses an object for focus instead. If you become distracted, restore yourself to the practice. If the Natural State dawns let go of the practice and abide in it. It is that simple. (Beginning practice of Primordial Meditation with an object requires an external object of focus. However, in advanced practice an internal object or visualization may be used to further develop kavvanah-concentration and to generate a more subtle and sublime Presence of Awareness.)

Primordial Meditation with Sound or Chant:

Another ancient and universal method of meditation is with chant and sound. Essentially, taking up a chant, you merge your mind with the sound of your voice. In the prologue to the Gospel of John it is written: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being.” The Word-Logos is Sound-Vibration, and in advanced practice initiates discover that all things are Sound-Vibration and Light. In the Kabbalah there is an art of vibrating Divine Names and Words of Power through which initiates learn to facilitate shifts in consciousness and are able to cause corresponding changes in externally appearing phenomena; hence work wonders. Primordial Meditation using sound and chant is part of this sacred art, and like the practice with breath, can lead to the Enlightenment Experience as well as the activation of the innate powers of the Soul of Light. The simple sound Ah could be used. Any of the Divine Names could also be used, or the chants of the Archangels given in Gnosis of the Cosmic Christ, by Tau Malachi. The chant of the Blessed Name Yeshua is very powerful, or the chant, 'Adonai Yeshua, Yeshua Messiah'. The chant of the Holy Bride, Kallah Messiah, is very good, as is the chant of the Mother of Light – 'Ha Isha Ha Elyona, Aima Israel'. Any chant to which one is inclined can be used. Simply take up the chant and gradually merge the mind with the chant. If the Natural State dawns let go and abide in the silence of Pure Being. This is enough. Any time one finds oneself distressed, chant can serve as a relief and it automatically tends to guard the mind against falling into negativity. So, aside from Primordial Meditation, chant is a useful practice which is common to all Sophian initiates. (Beginning practice of Primordial Meditation with chant or sound requires an actual pronunciation of the chant. However, in advanced practice initiates may hold the chant in the mind with no externalization, in the same way they may use a visualized object in place of an external one. The reasons for this are basically the same.) As a standard practice Sophians learn to practice both with eyes closed and eyes opened – the latter being necessary to certain advanced practices and to an integration of practice into daily living. In the beginning, however, it is fine to get started with the eyes closed if it is helpful, though obviously this cannot be done with an external object as one’s focus. These are the basic methods of Primordial Meditation. You might wish to try each of these methods and find which one works best for you, or you may wish to consult a Sophian Elder or Tau to receive guidance and further teachings on the practice. Primordial Meditation is the foundation of all other practices in the Tradition, and coupled with the Silent Witness it proves an effective method for generating the Presence of Awareness in life. Many have experienced Enlightenment and Liberation purely through this practice. It is All-Good. May the eyes of all beings open to see the kingdom of heaven spread out upon the earth, and the World of Supernal Light within and all around them! Amen.

Giving & Receiving

The foundation of authentic spirituality and Self-realization is the generation of love and compassion. It is love and compassion that opens our eyes to the Sacred Unity underlying all creation and reveals our dynamic interdependence and interconnection with everyone and everything in our environment. In Sophian teachings Christos is called the Pattern-That-Connects and, thus, the nature of the Christos is love and compassion. St. Paul addresses this eloquently when he writes: “If I speak in the tongues of mortals and angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” He concludes: “Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we only know in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we shall see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:1-13) Just as many people in modern spirituality and the new age movement seek after psychic and spiritual gifts, likewise some claim higher levels of consciousness, such as Cosmic Consciousness, or even Supernal Consciousness or Enlightenment, yet have not generated the Sacred Heart of Love and Compassion. While, indeed, such individuals may have glimpsed something of a higher consciousness, apart from love and compassion the higher state of consciousness glimpsed is not embodied or realized – for the Sacred Heart of Love and Compassion is the very nature of the Light-Presence and it is the essence of Enlightenment and Liberation. According to Gnostic Christianity, love and compassion are innate to the Soul of Light that is in us and in generating love and compassion we cultivate our true humanity. The first step in the Sophian Way is the development of the Presence of Awareness, which is accomplished through such practices as Silent Witness and Primordial Meditation. Once the Light of Awareness is present, the second step is the generation of the Sacred Heart of Compassion. All intermediate and advanced spiritual practices in the Sophian Way are evolved from this foundation and are essentially seeking to refine the Light of Awareness and Sacred Heart in us. What sets Gnostic Christianity apart from orthodox and fundamental forms of Christianity is the view that we do not merely believe in Yeshua Messiah, but that we are able to directly experience the Living Yeshua – specifically the Risen Christ. Likewise, Gnosticism teaches not only that Yeshua embodied the Christos, but that we are also meant to consciously work on ourselves and evolve to embody the Light-Presence; hence that it is our destiny to attain Christhood, just as Lord Yeshua did. Thus, Christian Gnosticism gives us powerful teachings and practices through which we are able to entertain a conscious evolution towards Christ Consciousness and acquire Gnosis of the Risen Christ in our own experience. Giving & Receiving Practice is the central method through which Sophian Gnostics generate the Sacred Heart of Love and Compassion. It reflects Gnostic teachings on the Mystery of the Crucifixion, the essence of which is incorporated into Giving & Receiving Meditation. According to the Kabbalah, we must receive something in order to give it, and in order to fully receive something we must share it with others. Thus, first we must receive the love and compassion of the Light-Presence within us, and in giving it to others we fully receive the blessing of the Sacred Heart. For this reason the practice of Giving & Receiving must begin with oneself and extend from oneself to others. The primary intention of Giving & Receiving Meditation is the generation of the Sacred Heart of the Christos – Spiritual Love and Compassion - yet it is also a way of healing and a way of receiving and imparting blessings. Essentially, Giving & Receiving Meditation is designed to dispel any form of negativity or obstructing karma and to generate positive energy and beneficial karma in place of it. This naturally opens the way for healing, whether physical, psychic or spiritual, and for the reception of all manner of blessings both material and spiritual. The basic skills developed in the practice of Silent Witness, Primordial Meditation and Giving & Receiving appear in every other form of spiritual practice taught in the Tradition, from practices of Union with Partzufim and Palace of Light Meditations to Transference of Consciousness Meditations. All begin with the Silent Witness or Primordial Meditation and all use the image of the Spiritual Sun and Radiant Holy Breath found in Giving & Receiving. Thus, knowledge and skill with these three practices provide the initiate with keys to all other spiritual practices in the Tradition. Giving & Receiving is thus among the Six Foundation Practices known to every Sophian Gnostic. (The other three are the Middle Pillar Meditation, which is often incorporated into Giving and Receiving Meditation, and two Sacred Rituals, one that establishes Sacred Space and the other that facilitates the Gnostic Eucharist.) Before we can actually engage in Giving & Receiving, we must first be able to invoke love and compassion in ourselves to some degree, which means we must be able to open our heart. In practice this can prove to be much more difficult than we might think, as typically speaking our source of love and compassion is hidden from us, and because we are unfamiliar with it, it can be hard to access. Fortunately, there are many special ways to access the heart taught in Gnostic Christianity that can help us invoke our capacity for love and compassion. Here we will consider a few that are most direct.

Remembrance of Being Loved:

Consider a time when you have felt loved and the person who loved you. Recreate and envision that situation in your mind in as detailed a way as possible – a love someone showed you that truly moved you. For many people this might be their mother or their father, a grandmother or grandfather, or anyone who showed us love and kindness. Sometimes, even an animal friend can be used. Other times some of us might be able to connect with Lord Yeshua or Lady Mary whose love brought us the Light-Transmission, or perhaps our Root Tzaddik (Spiritual Teacher.) Anyone who has brought forth love from within us, and with whom we experienced being loved, can be used. Envisioning this and letting it fill your mind completely, allow the feeling of love to arise in your heart again and pervade you with thanksgiving and gratitude. When you do this your love will naturally flow to whomever or whatever evoked it. Your heart will open, and though you may not always feel that you have enough love or may have forgotten your capacity for compassion, you will remember your love and compassion, for it will be present with you. You will remember that you have been loved and are worthy of love, and that in your heart you are a loving person. Let your heart open fully, and let your love flow out to all living spirits and souls. First, to those who are close to you, then to friends and acquaintances and neighbors, and then to strangers. If you are able, let your love flow even to those who you might think of as enemies…let the whole world rest in your heart, as though in a womb of Light and Love. Abide with this holy awareness as long as you can.

Others the Same as Oneself:

The truth is that we all desire the same fundamental thing – we all want to be happy and to be free from suffering. We want to be prosperous, successful, healthy and happy, however we might express it. This is true of all living spirits and souls. Essentially, if we can remember our basic sameness as human beings – living beings – we can open our heart to others. Bringing this to mind, see your own desire for prosperity, success, health and happiness, and see the desire of others the same as your own. Let your heart open and genuinely wish for the prosperity, success, health and happiness of yourself and others all together. This will naturally help you open up in your relationship with others and become more aware of both your own and others’ needs and desires. Just image a world in which people considered one another in this way – happiness would be on the rise and suffering diminished!

Exchanging Places:

If you know of someone who is suffering but have no clue how you might help that person, put yourself without reservation in that person’s place. Imagine yourself as that person – having that person’s experience – as fully and vividly as you can. Look and see how you would feel, and all of the fears and grief and suffering that would arise. Be that person in your mind and open your heart completely to his or her experience. Any time we exchange places with someone we are naturally shifting away from our habitual self-grasping, and opening our heart to the experience and needs of others. If we make a habit of such a practice we will find that more and more a powerful empathy and affinity with others will arise, and that our heart will naturally open to others in our daily lives. Quite frankly, we will find that we are healthier and happier in just doing this, and when we can engage in active compassion – rendering whatever help or support we can – we will discover a certain radiance of the Sacred Heart spontaneously coming from us.

Envisioning a Friend:

Sometimes we find we can’t so easily put ourselves in the place of someone who is suffering that we are not all that close to. When this is the case all we need to do is imagine someone we love, a friend or loved one, in that situation. The natural result of this is that one’s heart will swiftly open and one will experience an outpouring of love and compassion. Some may fear that doing this with a friend might cause their friend harm, as though a psychic assault. However, nothing could be further from the truth. In doing this the love and compassion one generates goes out to one’s friend or loved one, as well as to the actual person who is suffering and in need, and it generates positive energy and karma for one’s friend. Essentially, one is drawing one’s friend into the Light-Continuum and invoking a blessing upon him or her, for he or she has facilitated the Light-Transmission by way of his or her love.