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Understanding

Hoffman's portrait of ChristPart 28 of the Aquarian Gospel for Awakening

“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

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The Aquarian Gospel—Commentary and Text

The Aquarian Gospel for Awakening—A Commentary on the Aquarian Gospel
by Abbot George Burke (Swami Nirmalananda Giri)

  1. The Mother of Jesus
  2. Prophecies of the Births of Saint John the Baptist and Jesus
  3. The Birth of Jesus
  4. Revelations in the Temple
  5. Coming of the Wise Men
  6. Herod’s Reaction
  7. Revelations in Egypt
  8. The Two Selfs
  9. Deliverance From Gods and Demons
  10. About God the Tao
  11. From India to Chaldea
  12. The Wisdom of Buddha
  13. God and Prayer
  14. The Mission of Jesus and John the Baptist
  15. Sin and the Forgiveness of Sin
  16. The Universal Law of Man’s Free Will and the Divine Will For Man
  17. Understanding Death
  18. The True Teacher
  19. The Value of Ritual
  20. The Law Behind All Laws
  21. Opening To The Truth
  22. In the Temple at the Age of Ten
  23. Revelation to the Teachers and People in the Temple
  24. Jerusalem to Nazareth
  25. Nazareth to India
  26. What is Truth?
  27. What Is Man?
  28. What is Power?
  29. Understanding
  30. Wisdom
  31. Faith
  32. Healing and Healers
  33. Conflict Over Caste
  34. The Destiny of All Men
  35. God and Man
  36. The Voice in the Heart
  37. Seeing the Unseeable
  38. To God Through Man
  39. Who Is Jesus?
  40. The Real Versus The Apparent
  41. The Brotherhood of Life
  42. God…and Man
  43. Relating To God
  44. The Worthy Host
  45. Come to the Light
  46. The Kingdom Revealed
  47. The King Revealed
  48. Perspective On Death
  49. Fire and Sword
  50. Evolution: The Path of Glory
  51. The Real Heaven
  52. Getting to the Essence
  53. New Perspective on Religion
  54. In Tibet and Ladakh
  55. Words to the Worthy
  56. The Thirty-Eighth Chapter
  57. The Origin of Evil
  58. The Silence
  59. The Source of Healing
  60. The Fivefold Gospel
  61. Homecoming
  62. In Athens
  63. The Oracle of Delphi
  64. The Real God
  65. Return to Egypt
  66. First Steps to Wisdom
  67. Strong in Will and Intent
  68. Here Comes the Ego
  69. Blessed are the Merciful
  70. Claiming Our Freedom
  71. The Great Test
  72. Comprehending Death
  73. The Christ!
  74. The Asembly of the Masters
  75. The Seven Pillars of the Aquarian Age – I
  76. The Seven Pillars of the Aquarian Age – II
  77. The Declaration of Jesus
  78. John the Baptist – I
  79. John the Baptist – II
  80. John the Baptist – III
  81. Baptism – Jesus and John
  82. Self-Examination and Temptation
  83. The First Disciples Follow Jesus
  84. Jesus’ First Sermon
  85. The King and the Kingdom
  86. Dealing With Challengers
  87. The First Miracle of Jesus
  88. Kings and Kingdoms
  89. The Temple of God
  90. What Is A Messiah?
  91. The Laws of Healing
  92. Nicodemus Finds The Kingdom
  93. The Prince of Peace
  94. Dealing With Spiritual Opposition
  95. The Opened Gate
  96. John the Baptist Speaks of the Christ
  97. John Speaks Further About Jesus
  98. The Woman at the Well
  99. The Disciples and Samaritans at the Well
  100. Jesus in Sychar
  101. More Wisdom In Samaria
  102. The Imprisonment of John the Baptist
  103. In Jerusalem
  104. The Insights of Jesus
  105. Sabbath Wisdom
  106. Prayer and Good Deeds
  107. Divine Laws and Principles for Seekers of the Divine
  108. A New Understanding of the Ten Commandments
  109. Aspects of the Higher Law – 1
  110. Aspects of the Higher Law – 2
  111. Aspects of the Higher Law – 3
  112. Aspects of the Higher Law – 4
  113. Chapter One Hundred One
  114. Chapter One Hundred Two
  115. Chapter One Hundred Three
  116. Chapter One Hundred Four
  117. Chapter One Hundred Five
  118. Chapter One Hundred Six
  119. Chapter One Hundred Seven
  120. Chapter One Hundred Eight
  121. Chapter One Hundred Nine
  122. Chapter One Hundred Ten
  123. Chapter One Hundred Eleven
  124. Chapter One Hundred Twelve
  125. Chapter One Hundred Thirteen
  126. Chapter One Hundred Fourteen
  127. Chapter One Hundred Fifteen
  128. Chapter One Hundred Sixteen
  129. Chapter One Hundred Seventeen
  130. Chapter One Hundred Eighteen
  131. Chapter One Hundred Nineteen
  132. Chapter One Hundred Twenty
  133. Chapter One Hundred Twenty One
  134. Chapter One Hundred Twenty Two
  135. Chapter One Hundred Twenty Three
  136. Chapter One Hundred Twenty Four
  137. Chapter One Hundred Twenty Five
  138. Chapter One Hundred Twenty Six
  139. Chapter One Hundred Twenty Seven
  140. Chapter One Hundred Twenty Eight
  141. Chapter One Hundred Twenty Nine
  142. Chapter One Hundred Thirty
  143. Chapter One Hundred Thirty One
  144. Chapter One Hundred Thirty Two
  145. Chapter One Hundred Thirty Three
  146. Chapter One Hundred Thirty Four
  147. Chapter One Hundred Thirty Five
  148. Chapter One Hundred Thirty Six
  149. Chapter One Hundred Thirty Seven
  150. Chapter One Hundred Thirty Eight
  151. Chapter One Hundred Thirty Nine
  152. Chapter One Hundred Forty
  153. Chapter One Hundred Forty One
  154. Chapter One Hundred Forty Two
  155. Chapter One Hundred Forty Three
  156. Chapter One Hundred Forty Four
  157. Chapter One Hundred Forty Five
  158. Chapter One Hundred Forty Six
  159. Chapter One Hundred Forty Seven
  160. Chapter One Hundred Forty Eight
  161. Chapter One Hundred Forty Nine
  162. Chapter One Hundred Fifty
  163. Chapter One Hundred Fifty-One
  164. Chapter One Hundred Fifty-Two
  165. Chapter One Hundred Fifty-Three
  166. Chapter One Hundred Fifty-Four
  167. Chapter One Hundred Fifty-Five
  168. Chapter One Hundred Fifty-Six
  169. Chapter One Hundred Fifty-Seven
  170. Chapter One Hundred Fifty-Eight
  171. Chapter One Hundred Fifty-Nine
  172. Chapter One Hundred Sixty
  173. Chapter One Hundred Sixty One
  174. Chapter One Hundred Sixty Two
  175. Chapter One Hundred Sixty Three
  176. Chapter One Hundred Sixty Four
  177. Chapter One Hundred Sixty Five
  178. Chapter One Hundred Sixty Six
  179. Chapter One Hundred Sixty Seven
  180. Chapter One Hundred Sixty Eight
  181. Chapter One Hundred Sixty Nine
  182. Chapter One Hundred Seventy
  183. Chapter One Hundred Seventy One
  184. Chapter One Hundred Seventy Two
  185. Chapter One Hundred Seventy Three
  186. Chapter One Hundred Seventy Four
  187. Chapter One Hundred Seventy Five
  188. Chapter One Hundred Seventy Six
  189. Chapter One Hundred Seventy Seven
  190. Chapter One Hundred Seventy Eight
  191. Chapter One Hundred Seventy Nine
  192. Chapter One Hundred Eighty
  193. Chapter One Hundred Eighty One
  194. Chapter One Hundred Eighty Two

The Text of the Aquarian Gospel—by Levi Dowling

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