What you see, you become.
Countries under the rule of a dictatorship often have pictures of the dictator everywhere—in school textbooks, in the news media, in public squares. That’s because dictatorships are based on worship of the “glorious leader”, who knows that people are influenced by seeing his picture everywhere and will then do exactly what he wants them to do. This principle is based on the fact that the Feminine Mind, which is generally called the subconscious mind, radiates outwardly and picks up whatever is in its surroundings. Your subconscious mind therefore picks up the energy of a picture in your house, and that energy influences you all of the time, even when you are in a different room. So if it’s an unpleasant picture it influences you in an unpleasant way.
Here is an example. A South African family who had immigrated to New Zealand came to see me and told me that their new house had a terrible energy and asked me if I could do something about it. I told them I would first have to look at the place, because terrible energies can be generated by all kinds of negative forces. So I went to the house, which had a long hallway leading from the front door, and the first thing I noticed was that at the end of the hallway there was a carving of an African mask and a shield with two crossed spears on it. It was a souvenir they had brought back from Africa. What immediately hit me was that the mask and shield were full of an intensely negative, violent energy, because they probably had been used for rituals by a witch doctor or magician. I said, “I don’t have to go any further, I know the solution to your problem.” I advised them to take the carving off the wall and burn it. Although they were beautifully carved, the mask and shield had been used for wrong, evil purposes and were saturated with negative energy. The people burned them and their problems disappeared.
What is in your immediate environment is important because it has an influence upon you. In the material dimension, what you see, you become; but let us now take this principle further and apply it to the spiritual dimension.
Seeing the Image of a Deity, you become that Deity.
Practically all religions have holy pictures, sacred statues and images. Christianity has pictures of Saints, Our Lady and the Holy Trinity. Buddhism has pictures of Buddha. Hinduism has many images of Gods and Goddesses, such as Rama, Viṣṇu, Śivā and Kṛṣṇa. The idea behind having these sacred pictures or images is that by looking at them and meditating upon them, you become them.
This is the spiritualizing process of the Ninth Gate, the Way of Visualizing the Real, because when you see the image of a deity, you are seeing the Real. So how does the process work? If you have a particular image of a deity—whether it’s the Christ, the Buddha, Kṛṣṇa, Rama, a saint or any Divine Incarnation—that picture radiates a certain quality, a certain transcendental energy, and even if you just have it in your environment you are bombarded with that energy. If you use the image as the object of a formal meditation, however, then naturally you link up to the energy-field of the image much faster.
We’ll explain this meditation process in more detail because it is the spiritual science behind how to attain Liberation through the Ninth Gate. When you first meditate on the image of your chosen deity, which could also be a picture of your Guru, it transforms your mind and starts working to recreate you internally according to that image. Later there comes a higher stage where you actually become one with that image and come to act like that image. In other words, the imagination of a deity is a two-stage process:
Stage 1: Identification with an Image of the Deity
Stage 2: Experience of the Transcendental, Formless Absolute
There have been many arguments for thousands of years between those who believe that God has a form, that is, a personal God, and those who believe that God is formless, that is, impersonal or transcendental. Actually both arguments are correct.
When you identify yourself with an image of the Deity, you become that particular form, not another form. For example, if you visualize and meditate on the Christ, then you become like the Christ; if you visualize the Buddha, you become like the Buddha; and if you visualize Kṛṣṇa, you become identified with Kṛṣṇa. When the Mystics (of any religion) absorbed themselves into the image of their chosen Deity, identifying with the life, energy and reality of that image, they believed that they had reached their final goal—but they had only half-completed the Path. That’s because God is boundless and absolute, not constricted to any form.
To get to that reality however, you have to go beyond the image of the Deity. The image itself is the true gateway to the transcendental, formless Absolute, so when you go beyond the image you begin to understand the real nature of the Deity, which is omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent, beyond description, beyond any limitations whatsoever. It is necessary, however, for human beings to start off with some form, something they can relate to, because it is not possible to visualize a boundless ocean of reality! Not even an angel, archangel or one of the Elohīm can visualize that which is absolute.
To summarize, the faculty of imagination or visualization is nature-born within everyone and what we visualize is what we become. You can visualize any kind of situation for yourself in material life, or you can choose the spiritual way, the Ninth Gate, Visualizing the Real. The intermediary stage is visualizing the Divine Form, the form of the Christ, the Buddha, Kṛṣṇa, Rama or one of the great Saints or Avatāras. Then, you go beyond that to the original Reality; that is, you go beyond the objectified forms of Reality to the unmanifest, unconditioned form of Reality, the true Reality. That form or image of a deity will take you halfway there, but at a certain point you have to drop it and allow the Infinitude, the Eternal Life, to come on its own. When the image dissolves and the Gate opens by itself, you merge into the Ocean of Absolute Reality.
This is why the Zen Teachers say, “If you see the Buddha, kill him!” They understand this principle and are of course speaking from the spiritual perspective. It doesn’t mean that if you see a Buddha you should shoot him. No, if you see the image of the Buddha inside you (because you have come to that stage where you can identify and locate the Buddha Consciousness within), then destroy it, that is, let it go. Then you can merge into the real Buddha, which is the Transcendental Absolute, the unimaginable splendour of Reality. If you are still seeing the Buddha it limits you to that particular experience.
The Way of Visualizing the Real is a most amazing path, because it uses a natural faculty which everybody has. All of the Nine Ways are very natural, based on the composition of the Cosmos and of the human being. There is nothing external that has to be introduced, nothing artificially created or produced. They just use what a human being is and what the Cosmos is to enable the human being to reach Enlightenment.