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THE MEANING OF LIFE
To gather experience over countless lifetimes.

We Realize who and what we really are, and come to behave like That.

Ignorance of That and associated bad habits result in mistakes and consequential suffering.

The accumulation of experience eventually brings us to realize that we are not separate from others, which forms habitual devotion to the ultimate welfare of all.
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Part IV: The Sacred Pentagram

Summary of What We Are Doing:

Let’s  summarize what it is we are doing, when performing this ritual:

  • Part of realizing who and what we really are involves learning to behave  like That.
  • We can use powerful techniques developed by those who already have the habit of Remembering and acting like That, to shift our attention away from identifying with being a limited human, toward identifying with who and what we really are.
  • We can use repetition (one meaning of “ritual”) of these techniques to build a habit (the most powerful force in the universe) of always Remembering and behaving like That.
  • This particular ritual, called the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram, is one such ritual designed by those who already have the sacred habits.  These beings designed it to help us do the same.
  • While there are other interpretations and levels of meaning, we have been exploring the ritual from a perspective that you can relate to from your own personal experience.  Enough practice along these lines will give you the ability to assume that perspective on your own, without the use of ritual.  From there, with enough practice, other levels of meaning will become evident.

So far, we have seen the re-arising of the universe and your place in it as Pure Consciousness.  In the previous phase of this ritual (the Ankh of Light) we established (focused our attention on) the inseparability of Awareness from That which Awareness is aware of.  In this, we placed an emphasis on the Awareness side of that imaginary duality.  As part of that Ankh of Light, we have addressed the first glimmerings of differentiation or classification of Awareness as God in His Glory (Gedulah) and as God Almighty (Geburah).

We have seen in the Standard Preliminaries to ritual, as Pure Consciousness, you exercise your power to create and act as Author of the Universe through the casting forth of your Awareness as attention (the Divine Light).  Attention being the power of Pure Consciousness, and nourishing all existence, is what causes the entire Universe to arise before your Awareness.

How does this One Pure Consciousness emanate an entire universe?  It’s all about focus, or directing attention.  Think of that One Pure Consciousness as wearing a miner’s helmet with a lamp on it.  In the darkened depths of a coal mine, or the midst of the Primordial Void, the surroundings are not empty, something is there.  In the dark void, there is no telling exactly what is there, except to say the One Pure Consciousness is not in any particular place, so it pervades infinity.  At any point in space and time, an infinity of the One Pure Consciousness surrounds itself in all directions, in all possible universes.  But when Consciousness focuses on anything around it, shining forth the Divine Light of attention reveals things out of the darkness like the lamp on a miner’s hat.  Exactly what this reveals depends on re-cognition or association with things seen in the past.  This means that everything we might see is an illusion based on habit (karma).  In the space between thoughts, out of the infinite possible illusions we can call out of the emptiness, out of the infinite quantum possibilities available for our attention, we cast our attention (the nourishment of all existence) upon those possibilities that are familiar, that make sense based on our history, or conform to what we expect.  By focusing attention, and by expectation, something seems to arise out of the darkness.  But we all (every conscious point in space and time) see something different, based on our own past experience, so there is no empirical absolute experience.  What we experience is all an illusion based on past illusory experiences.  This relationship between the past and what arises is extremely important and we will explore this in more detail in the next part of this series.

The miner analogy is profound because, as points of that One Pure Consciousness in an infinite ocean of that same Pure Consciousness, we are the eyes of god: what we see is reality.  By seeing things out of the soup of infinite possibilities, the Author of the Universe creates or defines itself through our “eyes,” based on our experiences.

At this point in our ritual, we have accomplished half of our goal: experiencing who and what we really are.  We are Authors of the Universe, Gods in our own right, and the constant Creators of reality. 

Now we are going to watch exactly how we unconsciously create our realities out of an infinite universe of possibilities.  Then we can start to do so consciously, knowingly and deliberately, behaving like who and what we really are.

Normally, we behave as though we have little power over our environment, our lives, and our destiny, and little power to help ourselves and others who might need help.  Yet in reality we do have ultimate power over those things.  Humanity’s natural attitude to the Earth and the environment shows that we have a hint of this fact, but only a hint.  Our reckless assumption that the Earth and our environment are here for us take advantage of, to capitalize on, and change as we please demonstrates this hint.  But even as individuals, we are all omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent magicians, constantly creating our own limits.  The goal is to always Remember that we are Authors of the Universe and to start behaving like we have this power over our destiny, and power to help ourselves and others.  This change in behavior is a change some of us would like to make habitual, and even automatic.  Then, knowing that a Sacred Universe of our own device surrounds us, if even for an instant, we will be free to do, experience, or be anything we want.  The more times we practice this, becoming habitually aware of our role as Creator, that One Consciousness, the easier it will be for us to always be aware that we are behaving like That.  With this habit, we will be able to make our choices according to that Perspective, instead of making our choices as limited creatures absurdly struggling and fighting for survival, comfort, and amusement.

The Meaning of the Pentagram

At this point our ritual directs us to cast 4 pentagrams.  If you don’t have a copy of the script for the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram, you can download a PDF copy of the ritual here(TIP: this PDF was formatted to fit on half-sheets of standard paper, so you might want to do these two things when printing:  1) When the Adobe Reader Print dialog appears, turn off “Rotate and Center”, and 2) beside your printer choice on this dialog, click the “properties” button to set the printer on “landscape mode” and not “portrait mode”.  Doing these things will force the document to print on the left half of each sheet of paper.)

Let’s consider why we are going to cast 4 pentagrams. 

We have seen Pure Consciousness reflected throughout the universe as an infinite number of points of light.  Among the types of embodiments of these points, the types of creatures throughout the universe, human beings are members of a unique status.  There are two ways that could describe that unique status.  First, humans are those that, whether they are paying attention to the fact or not, live in, and have bodies on all planes of existence.  Each body is simultaneously present right here, right now.  You have bodies that are physical, astral, symbolic, and abstract.  Unlike other beings, as a human you can work in any worlds and with the beings that inhabit them using these bodies.  This gives you a tiny glimpse of your the potential of whom and what you really are, if you should only pay attention to your true self.  Second: humans have the ability to become self-aware, aware of whom and what they really are as Pure Consciousness, the Authors of the Universe, the “eyes of God” watching itself in every experience.  http://www.ted.com/talks/henry_markram_supercomputing_the_brain_s_secrets.html

Humans actually have the ability to begin in complete ignorance of all this, and through trial and error or through study and practice, transform their behavior before the eyes of all the Mighty Ones.  Humans can transform their behavior, from being members of a pitifully helpless, selfish, self-centered, angry, manipulative and destructive race, into beautiful, compassionate, creative, and loving gods in their own right.  It is for this reason that the host of spirits, angels, archangels, gods and enlightened masters are all in awe of the incredible potential in humanity.  It is why they eagerly await and aid the moment when any individual inches toward that transformation.  They celebrating with overwhelming joy each time someone achieves that incredibly rare transformation, which for us, is a mere shift of behavior born of a mere shift of attention.

What do these two unique qualities in humans have to do with casting 4 pentagrams?  We are going to categorize all the possible quantum universes in which we simultaneously exist for the sake of watching how it all happens.  We are going to surround ourselves with 4 pentagrams, surrounding ourselves with an awareness of all those planes and universes.  As unconscious Authors of the Universe, capable of a godlike transformation by paying attention to what we are always doing, we are going to pay attention to the act of Creation by making a habit of casting these 4 pentagrams. 

To have a look at how experience arises (we create the universe) we are going to classify the characteristics of experience into 4 categories.  We could easily classify them into any other number, but 4 happens to be convenient for our current purposes.  (Later in this article it will become clear why the Ancient Masters, in designing this ritual, chose 4 categories, by which to show us who and what we are, and how to behave like That.)  Just as we have seen in this ritual already, the arising of experience as a function of Consciousness Itself, we are now going see how that experience arises in its characteristics, step by step.

But, why pentagrams?  Why not other figures such as points, lines, triangles, rectangles or hexagrams?  Why did the Ancient Masters choose this particular shape of 5 points to show us who and what we are, and how to behave like That?

Remember, this whole ritual is an exercise in recognizing, exploring, and expressing who and what you really are, out of your personal experience, right here, right now.  So we should be able to look into our own immediate experience for an understanding of the Pentagram.

We have established that this next step in the ritual is an examination and celebration of how we create an illusion of Reality.  In consideration of the questions about why pentagrams, that symbol must have something integral to do with experience itself, so casting pentagrams before us is like casting experience before us.

Now, what is experience?  How do we experience?  Through what mechanism do we experience?  These questions must be related to the meaning of the pentagram itself.  There is a hint of the answer in the Sacred Pentagram’s five points.  What is it about the number five that brings to mind the mechanism of experience?  It is said that we have five senses.  Because we think of ourselves and normally identify with being human, as humans, we experience everything through the mechanism of five senses.  We experience all external phenomena through our senses and we experience all internal phenomena through internal versions of them.  Normally, we have no other way to experience things.  Everything that happens in our minds is experienced as either a sight in our mind’s eye or a sound in our thoughts etc.  We describe all feelings in terms of senses.

But wait.  Which exactly are the five senses?  Are taste and smell basically the same, since the total experience of tasting something inextricably also involves smelling it too (through the back of our nasal cavity)?  And since both tasting and smell are really an act of touching molecular structures, does that mean that taste and smell are all really actually the sense of touch?  Furthermore, when we hear things, we are actually touching disturbances in the air with our ear drums.  And when we see, we are actually touching photons or wavicles of electromagnetic energy. 

Since taste, sight, hearing and smell are all types of “touching,” then is it possible to see the structure of a piece of music, or smell a color?  There are people who are not bound to seeing things as limited humans who can do both of these things and more.  Some people also speak of an intangible (not involved in any form of touching) sixth sense, where information comes to them directly, without the use of any kind of touching whether specialized or not, internal or external.

So why do people generally say that we have five senses?  I believe it is a tradition that originates with an ancient association with the pentagram.

Regardless of how many senses there are, how can we classify them in order to understand what we mean by “senses,” sixth sense included?  Remember, this is crucial to our goal, because we are trying to understand the nature of all experience, to follow that back to constructing all experience.

As was the habit of the ancients with the tangible world, we can divide the tangible senses (whether internal or external) into four categories.  The ancients loosely labeled this categorization by four with the names of the elements (Earth, Air, Water and Fire).  We continue this same categorization by assigning the sixth intangible sense as belonging to a fifth category called Spirit.  We have five categories of ways we experience all experiences.  So from the perspective of this point in the ritual, with its five points the Pentagram represents the mechanisms by which Awareness can experience anything, tangible or not.  Since an universe of experience surrounds Awareness, with this meaning, we can say that pentagrams constantly surround Awareness.  This perspective is extremely important because with it, the ritual helps us understand how our minds and the universe around us actually works.

The next step in our ritual directs us (the One Pure Consciousness) to surround ourselves with pentagrams, connected by a circle that runs around us (meaning, a continuum of pentagrams totally surrounding us). 

Casting pentagrams is a ritualistic recognition, expression, or celebration of exactly how we create the illusion of reality.  In this ritual, we do now draw these pentagrams in just whatever random, hap-hazard motion that happens to pop into our minds.  We deliberately draw them in one specific way.  Examining a pentagram, we see that besides having five points, there are two lines intersecting or defining each of these five points.  This means that from any of the five points, you could start drawing in either of two directions, making ten possible directions to start your drawing. 

In the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram, we always start from the lower-left point and move toward the top.  Pentagram Arrow2What does this tell us about creating experience and creating the universe?  What should this specific choice and act bring to mind?  Since all acts of ritual are acts of shifting attention, what should we be shifting attention away from, and what should we be shifting attention toward?  It would seem the first two points we use in drawing define a definite starting point that we shift away from, and a definite choice of what state of awareness we move toward.

So, what do the points mean then?  What does it mean to shift attention away from the lower-left point, and move our attention toward the uppermost point?  To understand this, we need to know the meanings and attributions of the points of the pentagram.

As mentioned, the Ancients had a habit of categorizing the tangible universe into four, with another category left to what we cannot describe by reference to the senses.

The key to understanding the meanings of the five points rests in this fifth category, with the nontangible experience.  That which is not part of the tangible universe, and cannot fit into categories for the experienced universe is of course That which itself experiences (Consciousness).  So if we have to pick one of the five points for this exception, that stands separate or outside, or beyond, or removed from and “above” all others, we would naturally pick the topmost point.  Looking at the pentagram, we see that some points are on the right, and some are on the left, while only one point is in the center, between the right or left extremes. Pyramid Pentagram Again, since experiences surround that which experiences, it makes sense to assign that which experiences to the center of the extremes, neither to the left, nor to the right.  So again the topmost point would be our natural choice.  Attributing this uppermost point is significant because in the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram, this is the point toward which we are shifting our attention.  This represents a shift of attention toward the One Pure Consciousness itself. 

Attributing Pure Consciousness to that top point in turn dictates the meanings and attributions of all the other points.  That top point radiates two lines downward toward the lowest two points on the pentagram.  One is on our left, and one is on our right.  It’s like these two lower points have a direct line with That which experiences.

On one hand (the right side), everything you experience is itself aware, and shares that same One Consciousness as you do.  That which experiences seems to be present in, and at the center of the experience itself, feeling like you do:  that you are a center around which everything is happening, because you truly are the eyes of the entire Universe.  Everything feels like that because everything you can experience is itself also Aware, and shares the very same Consciousness as you do.  We are all the “I”s of God.  This is the very presence of God in the entire tangible universe.  Everything feels like it’s at the center of it all, and that everything is happening to it, around it, and for it.  This is how God feels, through you and everything else, when She’s venturing out into the Universe that She has created.  This core experience that everything shares is the Divine Spark, the Divine Light and the Eternal Boundless Fire in everyone and everything that exists.

On the other hand (the left side), since everything is Aware and shares that same One Consciousness, when you see anything (and smell, hear, taste or touch anything) you are seeing what that One Consciousness actually looks like.  Your own Awareness (the One Awareness), seems reflected in the experience itself, mirrored in the experience itself, as though anything is what Awareness itself looks like (and smells, sounds, tastes, or feels like).  There can be no Awareness without something to be aware of.  The two arise simultaneously as functions of each other.  As a function of Consciousness itself, Awareness radiates something to be aware of and in doing so, creates an entire universe of experience as an expression of itself, of what Consciousness is.  Where the point on the right side emphasizes Awareness in the center of all Creation, this left point emphasizes all of Creation itself.  It represents what the eyes of the universe sees when it is looking at itself.  While the right point is the same everywhere in everything (that same One Pure Consciousness), the left point presents infinite variety, an entire universe of experiences.  This is the entirety of Creation that emanates from God, the very Earth on which we live, the bountiful infinity of creatures and lands and universes, the Splendor of God and Her Creation.  All of this emanates directly from the One Pure Consciousness as an inevitable expression of what That is, or as the expressions of Awareness Itself: the objects of awareness.

These two lower points on the pentagram, the lower right and the lower left, have direct lines to the topmost point because they are directly related to Awareness itself.  They are how It feels (on the right, Fire), and what It looks like or is looking at (on the left, Earth).  These two points are the lowest points on the pentagram because they are the basis and foundation of the entire tangible universe.  They are also the basis and foundation by which we have knowledge that we Exist, and can say “I Am,” so they are also the basis and foundation of the fact of Awareness Itself (the topmost point).

So casting pentagrams is casting experience itself.  We have seen what three of the five points of the pentagram mean.  We have seen how Awareness Itself (the topmost point) feels (the lower-right), and we have seen what It looks like (lower-left).

While casting a pentagram is the ritual of casting of a Reminder of experience before us, there are 10 ways to start drawing that pentagram.  So we need to understand why this ritual starts at the lower-left, and moves toward the top.  We need to recognize what kind of Reminder of experience it is we’re casting before us, and surrounding ourselves with, because this Reminder seems to be the whole point of the Pentagram Ritual.

So let’s cast our attention on the point of the pentagram from which we start, and what point of the pentagram we shift our attention to, when we cast this Living Reminder.

Awareness is inseparable from, and cannot exist without objects of awareness.  Now think of this for a long moment.  Objects of awareness (the lower two points – self as a thing among things on the right, and our universe of objects on the left) are a necessary aspect of awareness itself (the topmost point).  If the universe is an experience projected by Consciousness itself, an integral aspect of what Consciousness is, then there is no objective reality.  If the objects of experience do not exist outside a reference from Awareness, having no objective reality, then there is nothing that is truly objective, and everything is an illusion created by the act of being aware.  Since the existence of Awareness itself depends on the presence of objects of awareness, which are all illusions having no objective reality, then Awareness itself is also an illusion and has no objective or referential existence either.  This is why, even though its presence is indisputable you can never find a thing called awareness within yourself no matter how much you meditate, no matter how deeply you withdraw your attention to the source of experience, to Awareness Itself.  (There is no top to the pyramid with the all-seeing eye.)  The One Pure Consciousness isn’t really there at all as a thing.  Something is definitely there, and something is definitely happening, but we can never know it or describe it.  It is absolutely unknowable as an objective reality.  As far as objective reality goes, even the One Pure Consciousness, does not really exist.

By starting a pentagram from the lower-left point, shifting our awareness toward the topmost point, we are withdrawing our attention away from objects of awareness, away from our world of experience.  We are shifting toward That which Itself experiences, toward Awareness Itself.  Casting the pentagram (casting all the ways that we can experience) in this particular way is using the senses, all of them, and anything you might experience, as a powerful Reminder of Awareness itself.  This is a reminder of whom and what you really are.   By shifting away from anything that you experience, toward something you cannot experience, something that is unknowable and indescribable, this pentagram is a Reminder that everything you experience is an illusion, ultimately unknowable and indescribable.  In this way, we use the pentagram to perform the ultimate banishing.  We banish everything.  (Hence, the name of this ritual: the Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram.)  Everything is gone, even if it still appears before your very eyes.  In the presence of the pentagram drawn in this particular way, everything you experience becomes a Reminder of your own true nature as empty of objective reality, ultimately indescribable, illusory.

It’s like saying, “Wherever I may look, I may see only Thee.”  In the presence of this Reminder, this pentagram, you should experience everything as a living, aware, responsive mirror of whom and what you really are: Pure unknowable and indescribable Consciousness, the Author of the entire illusion we call the Universe.  Using the presence of this pentagram, using every experience to turn attention away from That which we experience back upon the Experiencer itself, we are banishing all phenomena by paying attention to its illusory nature.  We leave in our focused attention only Pure Consciousness Itself, without ever leaving phenomenal experience.  Because of the presence of the Sacred Pentagram every experience is our Reminder and our confirmation of whom and what we really are.  Go ahead.  Touch something or someone.  The Pentagram reminds you to ask, “Who’s feeling this?”  That’s proof of who you are.  That’s what the pentagrams are constantly saying to you.  Like the owl who constantly asks, “Who?” the Pentagram can make every experience a tangible Reminder and tangible proof of Awareness Itself.

Think of making this reminder an automatic habit.  Imagine as long as you are aware of anything, no matter what, you will always know you are the Author of it all.  No matter what happens.  No matter what.  No matter.  Naught.

This is one reason so many Wisdom Traditions throughout history have revered the Sacred Pentagram.

In the next article in this series, we will examine the technique of giving the Sacred Pentagram the power to take part in our daily lives.  Always present in our daily lives, it will even have the power to speak to us, helping us Remember and build the habit of behaving like who we really are.

Mer-Amun MerAmun

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