The Book of Aphorisms - Introduction

Author: Theun Mares. Link to original: (English).
Tags: Book of Aphorisms, Toltec Teachings Submitted by Warriorskeep 31.01.2017. Public material.

Translations of this material:

into Russian: Книга Афоризмов - Введение. Translated in draft, editing and proof-reading required.
Submitted for translation by Warriorskeep 31.01.2017


(The seven Stages in Learning)

The only true learning there is, is learning about the self, for man is the microcosm of the macrocosm. The true Scholar has known for even that it is insanity to assume that we can understand life, and therefore the world around us, unless we acknowledge that we too are a part of this ineffable mystery we look upon as being life, and which we are waiting to fathom and understand. But, being part of this mystery, our every action, our every through and our every feeling, affects our perception of our experience. And what is knowledge, if it is not that which we perceive as being our experience within life? Therefore, the act of learning, like every action we take within life, must and does have a direct influence upon our perception of the knowledge which arises from having taken that action. It follows that the act of learning directly affects how we perceive the knowledge gained in the process of learning. The profound truth that emerges from this is that, in learning, we create the answers we seek, according to our perception of what is revealed to us during the process of learning. In other words, we create our own reality, whether we are aware of this or not. So the question facing everyone who wishes to learn is; «How do we know that the reality we have created is in fact the truth we are seeking» or, more precisely: «How do we corroborate the subjective reality, when the only reality we can measure it against is our perception of the objective reality to which we bear witness by virtue of being alive, for is it not this very perception we are questioning when we set out to learn?»

This difficulty in learning is a conundrum for which there is no logical solution, other than to start the process of learning from the premise that whatever we experience within life; that is, whatever to be factual, is not necessary the objective reality to which we bear witness, but merely the subjective reality which causes us to look upon our experience as being the factual reality we are dealing with. This, however, does not presuppose that the subjective reality which arises from experience is any less true than the objective reality we are witnessing. Instead it serves to confirm that the subjective reality, being dependent as it is upon our perception, is what we are experiencing, whereas the objective reality, which exists independently of our perception of it, must best be witnessed without judgement, until such time as we have gained the necessary knowledge with which to bridge the gap that exists between our subjective experience and an objective reality that transcends the limitations of perception. It is this gap between our perception and the objective reality being witnessed that instils in us, the Observers, the desire to gain the needed skill with which to fill the gap between the subjective and the objective.

If we, as the Observers, are to fill the gap existing between the subjective and the objective, then it is vital that we bear in mind that the subjective, by definition, implies the purely personal, whereas the objective, also by definition, implies that which is transpersonal, and therefore existing independently of the purely personal nature of perception. It follows that the Observer is not only the point at which perception is being assembled in relation to the experience of the Observer, but that for there to be any experience at all, the Observer must of necessity also be the catalyst that brings into existence the experience he is having of the objective reality to which he bears witness. Consequently, although the Observer starts off by being an impartial witness to life around him, the moment he starts to interact with the world he has the choice of either seeing himself as being the victim of circumstance, or else seeing himself as being the catalyst that causes objective reality to start imposing itself upon the subjective reality he has created according to his perception. The first option is clearly antithetical to learning anything of real value, which means that the true Scholar has no option other than to see himself as being the creator of his reality.

Once we are clear on this much, it becomes perfectly possible to acquire skill in the technique of learning, for all that is required in order to gain this skill, is to remember that the Observer is both the Witness of objective reality, as well the Experimenter directing the process entailed in learning how to relate perception of that objective reality to the reality underlying his subjective experience of it. This is the theory, and if one adheres to the theory it appears that this should be a relatively simple exercise to accomplish, given the required time and the due diligence. However, in practice it is not quite as simple as the theory would have us believe, for although gaining the skill to learn is undoubtedly within the grasp of any man or woman, achieving this skill is nonetheless the task of a lifetime. The reason for this, as Toltecs have discovered in mapping out the process of learning, is that acquiring skill in learning entails conquering seven distinct areas of experience.

Toltecs have given to these seven areas of experience the term «the seven stages in learning, » because although each area does require experience, the experience gained in the first area automatically leads the apprentice into the second area, and the experience gained in the second area again leads the apprentice into the third area, and so on. Therefore, although each of these seven areas of learning demand experience, they are more like stages in learning rather than areas of expertise existing independently of each other. Furthermore, as with anything else in life, there are no real divisions as such within the seven stages of learning, for one stage blends seamlessly into the next. So although, for the sake of clarity, we delineate, demarcate and speak in terms of one area versus another, in reality the seven stages in learning overlap one another in a seamless manner.

The first stage encountered in the process of learning is the concept of learning. Any concept is an idea or, more accurately, a though form which, for the sake of brevity, we can simply term a form that the apprentice is utilizing in the beginning stages of learning. Thus to begin with the apprentice simply has an idea concerning learning; meaning that he holds within his focus everything he knows at his point in time about the concept of learning. This includes everything he believes he will learn, as well as about he believes will be his rewards for what he will be learning.

However, as the apprentice begins to work with the concept of learning, whether he is aware of this or not, he begins to evolve his understanding of what it is to learn, with the result that it is not long before he begins to find that his personal concept of learning also needs to be expanded if it is not to become a limiting factor to his learning. Technically speaking, the apprentice has seen the need to expand his view of the world, and in attempting to do this, the apprentice is beginning to acquire expertise in breaking free from the fixation brought about by the form, by learning how to adapt the form into a more suitable vehicle with which to further explore the act of learning. At this point though, the apprentice is still very much involved in gaining the required expertise in order to mould, shape and modify the purely personal confines of the form constituting his subjective reality. This is to say that, although the apprentice is gaining expertise in being able to recognise the limitations of the form, he nevertheless still needs to work with a form, in order to make sense out of what he is learning.

Once the apprentice gains proficiency in being able to modify and adapt his concept of learning, he begins to see that no matter to what extent he modifies, adapts or re-arranges his concept of learning, he is still firmly caught within the confines of his subjective reality. Having seen this much, the apprentice can now also begin to see the futility of continuing to expand his view of the world—for irrespective of how broad his view of the world becomes, it is this very view that keeps his perception of life intact. Technically speaking, the apprentice now has first-hand experience of what is meant by the madness of the dream, and he begins to wonder what it would be like to have the required knowledge to break free from any constraints upon his perception. It is at this point within the process of learning that the apprentice begins to pay careful attention to everything he things he knows or, more precisely, he begins to works consciously at questioning his concept of what it is to learn.

The only way at this point in which the apprentice can question his concept of learning is to measure everything he things he knows, that is, his subjective reality, against what he perceives to be the transpersonal nature of the objective reality to which he bears witness. Technically speaking, the apprentice has started to apply his subjective knowledge to life around him in the sense of wanting to prove this knowledge right or wrong. In other words, the apprentice has come to the realisation that he can only prove or disprove his subjective knowledge by acting upon it, and thereby learn from the results achieved. The result of this is that the apprentice begins to stand detached from the results of his experiments in applying his subjective knowledge, for this is the only way in which he can view the results achieved in an objective manner.

Once the apprentice to learning has achieved a modicum of proficiency in being able to question his subjective reality, it becomes possible for the apprentice to start taking the approach to learning as delineated in the Toltec Teachings in a purposeful way, for until then the apprentice is still too caught up in the fixation of his perception to allow for that perception to be questioned by anyone other than himself. Having reached this point in his inner search for knowledge, and having gained the necessary expertise within the first stage of learning, the apprentice is now ready to start learning in the true sense of the word. Once the apprentice is ready to commence the true process of learning, the teacher appears. How this comes about is not important here, other than to say this is the law. It matters not who or what the teacher may be, for there is but One Life, and therefore but One Truth. So let it suffice to say that irrespective of what name is given to that form known as the teacher, and irrespective of what name is given to that form as taught by that teacher, if the teachings as taught by such a teacher uphold and conform to the One Life, then such teachings constitute the One Truth, and such a teacher, in the Old Tongue, is termed Toltec; a Man of Knowledge.

It is at this point within the process of learning that the apprentice reaches the second stage — in which he has to gain proficiency in making every effort to truly live the teachings to the best of his ability, in order to put his subjective knowledge to the test. However, through still being forced to work within his concept of learning, the apprentice can only utilise those aspects of the teachings that tend themselves to being conceptualised within the confines of his normal awareness; that is, the teachings for the right side. Nonetheless, and without at this point being aware of it, by putting his subjective knowledge to the test, the apprentice is beginning to move from the purely personal nature of his perception, towards gaining an affinity with the transpersonal nature of the objective reality. The result of this is that the apprentice begins to gain first-hand knowledge concerning the importance of expanding his awareness, as opposed to simply expanding his view of the world.

Through his struggle to gain proficiency in living the teachings for the right-side, whilst at the same time struggling with the impact that the resultant consequences of his actions are having upon his perception, and therefore also upon his view of the world, the apprentice starts to gain proficiency, little by little, in expanding his awareness to include more and more of the transpersonal nature of the objective reality to which he bears witness. As he gains in this proficiency it starts to become clear to the apprentice that the process of expanding his awareness is allowing him to see how his awareness is lacking in first-hand knowledge of the objective reality he is trying to come to grips with, and that what is causing in him this lack of awareness is his concept of learning. Once this realisation has been made, the apprentice starts to make every effort possible to learn how to break free from the limitations imposed upon his awareness by his concept of learning — an action which catapults him firmly into the third stage of learning.

The third stage of learning can best be described as the discovery of one's potential, for it is invariably at this stage within the process of learning that the apprentice has moved far enough away from identifying solely with his subjective reality, that he has begun to see for himself that his perception of himself is also severely lacking in a genuine awareness of self. As a result, the apprentice begins to explore, in whichever way is open to him, everything he does not yet know about himself. By doing so, the apprentice slowly begins to gain a glimmer of his true potential, and with this comes the inevitable realisation that his true self, as revealed by his hidden potential, is very much part of the objective reality which has hitherto appeared to him to be purely transpersonal.

It is at this point in his learning that the apprentice begins to grasp the importance of mating his perception as fluid as possible, if it is not going to continue leading him back into his concept of learning, from which he is trying to break free. In his struggle to make his perception as fluid as he can, the apprentice starts to gain some measure of proficiency in wording in the abstract; meaning that he no longer needs a clear form in order to make sense out of what he is learning. Technically speaking, the apprentice is learning to work with pure feeling, without the need to first interpret it according to his perception, so as to make it fit his subjective reality. For the moment, even though the apprentice is acutely aware that this is an unstable state of affairs, he is nevertheless content to live with the fact that he can temporarily no longer reconcile his inner world with his outer world. The result of this is that the apprentice begins to work with the teachings from the angle of the unknown; meaning that he begins to interpret the teachings anew, but now from the angle of pure feeling. Consequently, those aspects of the teachings that do not lend themselves to conceptualisation; namely, the teachings for the left side, begin to reveal themselves to him through the medium of feeling.

As the apprentice continues to learn how to work with the teachings for the left side, he slowly begins to learn that true understanding is not a matter of trying to intellectualise the unknown, but is rather a state of awareness that grows as a result of a direct encounter with the unknown. Once the apprentice has come to this realisation he is well on his way to gaining proficiency within the fourth stage of learning, and he can now clearly see that his inability to reconcile his inner world with his outer world is but the result of a lack of true understanding — an understanding that he could only acquire when he was willing to forgo, if need be, his subjective reality. However, with this new-found awareness, the apprentice can also see how to marry his subjective reality with his true self, as it continues to be revealed to him in his ongoing journey of discovering his own hidden potential. Having seen this much, the process of learning now lies wide open to the apprentice. This means that there are no more pitfalls along his way in learning how to bring about those changes within both his inner life and his outer life that will enable him to effect a true transformation of all that hinders his progress upon the Path of Knowledge.

Once the apprentice embarks upon the act of transmutation, a chain reaction is set up within him that can no longer be stopped, for the inevitable result of transmutation is transformation, and transformation can only be complete once a true transfiguration has been accomplished. This is a universal law as much as gravity is a universal law. It is just not possible to cast a stone into the air and to arrest the impact of gravity upon it indefinitely.

Transmutation, transformation and transfiguration are respectively the fifth, the sixth and the seventh stages in learning. Transmutation is true change; that change which is required in order to make the shift from being totally identified with the form-side of life, to seeing oneself as part of the One Life that animates, inhabits and utilises the form, in order to evolve its awareness. Transformation is a double-edged sword, for it is the act of becoming at-one with all of life. But in doing this, we inevitably come full circle because, through being at-one with all of life, we inadvertently begin to transform all of that which is within our sphere of influence, by virtue of the fact that we are the creators of our own reality. Once this has been realised, the impact upon the self is devastating — to the extent that there is no way in which to shoulder the responsibility of what one has become, until one has brought about a full transfiguration of all that was perceived as being the self during the process of learning, up until this point of realisation.

It is simply not possible to live with the knowledge that we are the creators of our own reality, without being overcome by the most intense desire to dream true to the purpose of the One Life. Anything else is an unthinkable responsibility that threatens to tear apart the very fabric of one's awareness, let alone existence. It is once one has entered into this state of awareness that the apprentice to learning rightfully earns for himself the title of Toltec — a Man of Knowledge — and embarks upon the journey of all journeys; namely, the definitive journey of the warrior. Having embarked upon this journey, the Toltec becomes a living example of that ineffable something termed the 'Toltec Legacy.

The Toltec aphorisms serve to guide us towards a deeper insight in how to master our awareness. Thus every aphorism has been designed to be both a springboard into the unknown, as weft as a beacon light within the unknown.