“Again Lamaas asked, Of understanding what have you to say? And Jesus said, It is the rock on which man builds himself; it is the gnosis of the aught and of the naught, of falsehood and of truth. It is the knowledge of the lower self; the sensing of the powers of man himself” (Aquarian Gospel 22:19-21).
The meaning of Understanding
Our English word “understanding” has a simple meaning, but in the Bible it has many facets that we should consider, even though Dowling is clothing his impressions of Jesus’ Aramaic speech directly into English.
Sunesis is the Greek term translated “understanding.” It does not mean a simple understanding, but intelligence and its exercise in the sense of putting the factors together to come to an insight into something. It includes intellect, perception, thought, knowledge, and understanding. Interestingly, it comes from the root word suniemi, which means to draw wise consideration from thought, but also means to act accordingly. Theoretical understanding is not sufficient; there must be a corresponding course of action. The basic root of sunesis is sun, which means union or alignment with an object. Understanding, then, comes about through entering into the being of an object, to be fully synchronized with it. It is not without significance that in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali it is stated that to know something we must become one with it. Sun also means to have a complete comprehension of something. So full knowledge comes about through oneness.
When we realize that all is ONE, that there is nothing that is not a manifestation of Consciousness, then we understand how it is really possible to become one with anything–that there are no “objects” that are not extensions of the Eternal Subject: Spirit. Understanding, then, is intuition that illumines the intellect. It is a direct effect of meditation; is impossible without meditation.
It is the rock on which man builds himself
“Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house” (I Peter 2:5). Religion is continually being presented as a matter of “believing” or “feeling” in some sort of “spiritual” way, but Jesus tells us otherwise. Without illumination of intellect proceeding from the intuition opened by meditation, we are without a foundation on which to build ourselves–and we must build ourselves; no one can do it for us. Here again we see the fact that spiritual life is based on intelligence and is in no way the vague, dreamy pseudo-spirituality of popular religion. Spiritual life is impossible without both a well-functioning intellect and a well-functioning intuition.
It is the gnosis of the aught and of the naught, of falsehood and of truth
I have given a definition of understanding from the perspective of the Greek text of the New Testament that is useful, but here Jesus defines understanding in its practical manifestation. “It is the gnosis of the aught and of the naught, of falsehood and of truth.” In the essay What is Truth? we have already considered the meaning of “aught” and “naught.” Aught means both One and something that has substance–that really exists. Naught is nothing, is basically nonexistent.
Understanding is the comprehension of what is real or unreal, true or false. This has deep metaphysical roots and means much more than the simple meanings which we attribute to these words which have both superficial and profound meanings and applications. But that, too, we have already discussed, so I will not repeat it here.
Understanding is Gnosis–direct experience resulting in direct knowledge.
It is the knowledge of the lower self
In The Two Selfs we considered Jesus’ definition of the lower and higher selves, so that, too, I will not repeat. What is noteworthy here is that Jesus does not say that understanding is knowledge of the higher self, but rather it is knowledge of the lower self. How is this? Because the lower self can only be known through the higher self. So if we really know the lower self it is evidence that we also know the higher self. This is no small point. Also, the higher self is on our side, whereas the lower self has become corrupted into opposing us, and is usually now our enemy. What a terrible schizophrenia this is. But it is nonetheless true and must be faced and dealt with. We have to know the enemy; it is just that simple. In this case, though, when we know the enemy we will discover that the lower self needs healing rather than defeat or elimination. In time the inimical lower self can be restored to friendship. This is a major insight.
[It is] the sensing of the powers of man himself
Saint Paul wrote that “we are more than conquerors” (Romans 8:37). We have the innate power to order our lives and ascend to divine consciousness. Yet if we look at the Bible for confirmation of Saint Paul’s statement we will find none. Instead we will be told that just about everything but we ourselves has the power to overcome evil. We are made to believe in our fundamental helplessness. When the saintly Pope Pelagius dared to speak the truth about our power to elevate our own selves above our present status he was denounced as a heretic and the “Pelagian heresy” label was born to foster the soul-killing dependency that is the bedrock of most of this world’s religions. We are always being told that someone else has to do the needful for us, that at the best we can triumph through the agency of something–or someone–else. This is, as I say, deadly to the soul.
Jesus came to awaken humanity to its potential and self-sufficiency, but Churchianity does just the opposite, telling us we are weak and miserable sinners who can do nothing for ourselves but beg for mercy. Invaders of a country often engage in this type of propaganda, pounding away at the conquered people with statements that they are incompetent and weak–and thus unable to throw off their oppression. The religious enemies of our souls do the same. India was effectively subjected to this evil brainwashing for generations in order to paralyze their wills and prevent their rising up to free themselves from domination and exploitation. I personally knew Indians who really believed that India and its people were hopelessly backward and ineffectual. They seemed blind to the incredible progress India had made after gaining its independence. In 1968 a friend of mine was told by an Indian student in Illinois: “In my country the people are so incompetent they can’t even make a pin!” Yet at that time India was one of only five countries in the world that could manufacture jet engines. And India was more self-sufficient economically than just about any country in the world except for the United States. Indeed there were problems and frustrations, but India had leapt from virtual feudalism and the domination of several centuries into a leading world power–yes: power. But the evil conditioning hung on in the minds and hearts of so many people. Now that darkness is lifting, but it has taken two generations to do so.
Evil religion does the same thing to people, making them believe in their unworthiness, their sinfulness, their weakness, and their futility. “Without us you can do nothing” they trumpet into the ears of their adherents, turning them into spiritual slaves, degrading them for their own exaltation. Jesus had fought against this “spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12) when He challenged the religionists who objected to His saying that He was a Son of God, reminding them that David had quoted God as saying to human beings: “I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High” (Psalms 82:6. See John 10:30-36.).
Jesus tells us that understanding–not error or arrogance–includes “the sensing of the powers of man himself.” We must know our divine potential, and furthermore we must realize that it is the potential of everyone around us, that we are all gods in the making however well we may be hiding it. We need to have confidence in ourselves and our fellow humans, otherwise we are not having confidence in God. As one woman said some time ago about herself: “My God does not make junk!” The Prodigal Son’s conduct was not very wise or worthy, but it could not change the fact of his sonship; never. He may have wasted his inheritance, but he could not dissipate his sonship. Moreover, he had the good sense–and the ability–to arise and go to his father. Which he did. He did not send a letter asking for the money to get home, nor did he find someone who would take him home. He stood up on his feet and went. There is no other way. It is all in our power. It is all in our hands. That is how God set things up for our benefit and we neither can nor should evade it.
“I rejoice therefore that I have confidence in you in all things” (II Corinthians 7:16). “Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward” (Hebrews 10:35).
Read the next section in the Aquarian Gospel for Yogis: Wisdom