Final Part of “Know Thyself X, XI, XII”


Alex Grey

Alex Grey


If you have been following this series, you might not yet understand why our personality should be associated with such a negative manifestation as vice.  Of course none of us is overtly “envious”, “greedy” or “lustful”.  We are far too well behaved and socially adapted for that. 

I have exaggerated the characteristics of behavior to focus on the mental habits that use key energy attributes. The purpose of my study is to understand clearly how, for example, anger contains leadership potential and envy the ability to sense configurations at a distance and measure them, because they develop and employ basically neutral faculties.  Does everyone who exerts leadership or gauges phenomena abstractly need to be angry or envious? No. 

If we are to acquire mastery over our selves, we need to be aware how thought-forms respond within and around us.  Most of all, we need to learn how to alter their possibility as the forces arise, without losing the precious momentum they produce.  Censorship and vigorous repression do not work favorably for human evolution.  

The combination of elements – water, fire, air and earth – serves to activate a dominant tendency in the physical, emotional and mental attributes of a person in different proportions and ways. Mind-body-feelings respond automatically, producing spontaneous personal and cultural styles.It must be understood that all learning passes through the densification process.  This is what defines the third-dimension: experience in matter where, through detail, elements are apprehended, shaped and handled by human consciousness.  The personality is the key instrument and the prime motivator.  Each of us must learn to manage our physical, emotional and mental energies.  Each of us does this in a different way conforming certain patterns.  I have chosen to expose this subject through the model of the seven vices as foundational mixtures of elemental force.

The nugget of each combination is neutral.  Whether it becomes vice or virtue will depend on the experience and consciousness of the subject.  Originally it is a soul impulse towards virtue but as it undergoes physical human experience it acquires all the fixed properties of matter.  Its redemption process is the same as for the individual, sublimation or spiritual alchemy.  This focuses on experience within matter.  Conscious awareness is the light that transmutes vice into virtue.  Transmutation can never be accomplished “in absentia”.  No amount of violet flame, angelic intervention or chakra activation alone may produce it.  Our experience is what alters the proportion of light within matter and this begins with our own body and personality.  This is what I have been teaching for decades as “Inner Alchemy”.  It is not about the effect, however fascinating the vices may be.  It is always about energy management.


Now let’s proceed to the last three types.


At the uppermost range of intensities lies lust that can vary from mild sexual yearnings to devouring drive.  But lust is not just sexual; its voracious appetite is that of the all-consuming libido.

The libido feeds on furious urgency and violence.  Its aggressiveness is similar to anger, but in this case it bestows boundless license to experience the pleasures of its body and senses, believing strongly that the end justifies the means.  It feels that life owes him or her and that they are entitled to whatever they wish.  As in pride, the person equates him or herself with God, resolutely justifying the violation of natural law.

Lust projects a sustained beam of personal will, which it uses over all aspects of life, not just the physical body.  Lust transforms a human being into an instrument of bestial expression and survival, without consideration for the needs of others or for its own soul.

The body of the individual taken by lust becomes coated with low-grade density that is not always visible.  It craves heavier and stronger stimuli in order to feel alive.  The intensity of violence numbs the nervous system and the mind, and leads it to ravaging him or her and raping life for the sheer “pleasure” of destruction.

The victim of lust never gets over its addiction to intensity; instead it channels it towards greater purposes.  It knows all about will power and as such is capacitated to get things done and mobilize the environment to achieve laudable results.

Used to living outside of the law in most cases, most remarkable in this type is its ability to sense human justice and non-duality.  An excellent leader where force is necessary, it excels in tolerance and management of great intensities of resistance and survival, its reach deep and firm.


One would think that this compulsion affects only the individual. Gluttony cultivates self-pleasure to the very limits of endurance, blocking out all other form of human intercourse.  It overtaxes each of the three bodies (physical, emotional and mental), draining vitality and life-flow.  In order to maintain its addiction to pleasure, together with the sensation and the feeling of excitement and fullness that the chosen activity produces, this person develops the ability to remain fixed on its objective.

The genuine gluttons are not your typical obese person (who often fit the characteristics of the next type).  In order to satisfy its appetite repeatedly, a glutton continuously ignites the state of hunger as excitement and variety.  Simultaneously, it evokes a form of sustained on-going satiation. It develops a kind of muscle that allows it to prolong hunger as well as satiety, and transfer this to any situation.  Sadists and masochist often possess this kind of energetic configuration.  Gluttony is not just for food but rather for excitement.  Gluttons are entertainers and social attractions.   Sensitivity and perception is kept at a peak. Its aura is often sullen and dull while its exterior flourishes with all kind of artistic accomplishments and refined tastes.

It is worth noting how far a person who has been subjected to the appetites of gluttony can come to respond to people and things, with enthusiasm and appreciation.  This type knows how to provoke celebration and is capable of great playfulness, creativity, and versatility.

When evolved, the former glutton excels in generating and multiplying energies, creating abundance and luxury in the environment it comes to cherish, deeply conscious of selectivity and quality.  It is especially suited in circumstances where tact and variety are called for, such as in diplomacy and art.


When a person is under the illusion woven by the thought-form of sloth it fails to see, care or think about anything other than the cessation of all of life.  Everything slows down.  In extreme cases, all faculties and powers are shut off, as is the voice of conscience. The lowest level of density, as inertia, is sought, blanketing its introverted violence and rage until stupidity is reached.  In can resemble the deepest stages of alcoholism.

Vitality is gradually repressed, resulting in various states of immobility and non-responsiveness.  The sloth conserves its energies for imagined future situations where it “might” need them.  Through non-involvement, the emotional impulse towards expansion and expressiveness is cancelled; mental faculties are allowed to atrophy.

The slothful person is full of contradictions.  He or she appears lazy and even slow, but in reality is in perpetual motion with a great variety of activities that appear to cancel one another out.  This person never appears to finish a project and yet completes several of them simultaneously.  It is never wildly exuberant as its proud, lusty, irate brethren are, but it is almost always distinguished.

Sometimes its behavior borders on morbidity and brutishness, appearing to disrespect everyone and everything, and yet the person knows how to keep silent, hold fast to truth and never really gives up.  Some slothful persons do not do their share of the work, creating an imbalance similar to the person caught in greed; they indirectly force others to do their part. Apparently.  When we look closely, it is precisely this person, with its ability to be invisible and sustain great charges of energy, who does everyone’s work in the end.

This type does not reject things and persons as do others; its rejection is of a different variety.  Rather than warding life off, the slothful person passively absorbs it within itself, where it snuffs it out.  Its control over bodily functions, as well as emotional and mental stimuli is great, persisting through the Gandhian formula of non-resistance.  This characteristic is never lost.  When the slothful person becomes illumined, the entire world meets within him or her.

This type knows how to contain, sustain and embrace most situations anyone else would find impossible.   It knows how to merge with another person and to wait.  It knows how to diffuse and blend when necessary, and can easily see globally, beyond duality and dichotomies.  It is invaluable in its objectivity and its grace in calming people and situations, with impartiality, elegance and serenity.


Everything in creation obeys a hierarchical scale on the ladder of return to Love, through a first-hand experience in the management of energy and force.  At the very summit of experiences is that needed in making peace, that mastery that exhibits the skill of bringing forces together without losing the identity of any of its component parts.  Peace requires tremendous force and sustaining power.

Evil is in the mind of the creator and does not exist outside the energy field of human beings. In every case of recalibration of dark to light, the purpose is to learn to use the light of intelligence together with the management of elemental force without condoning negativity.  Condemnation and repression only serve to delay the process of learning and self-mastery that allows a person to benefit from their “gift”.  The potential involved in energetic expression must be identified and its elements reconstructed according to its highest nature. A Master knows this and works with the rhythms involved in the basic elements rather than meanings.

Making peace is hard enough for the persons who have trained, for example through sloth, in holding in and carrying on.  Holding the peace is exceptionally hard for impulsive intense types.  It is almost impossible to remain true to oneself when we have come to define ourselves by permanent activity and other likes and dislikes.

And yet, each one of our types arrives, at one point or another, to a space where it contributes actively to peace, to humanity, to virtue as such.  It arrives at this state by having known all that virtue IS NOT and by having extricated the very iridescent essence of sand and stone, as in the pearl, through direct ad conscious EXPERIENCE of their inherent human frailties and faculties.  The persons who claim themselves and rescue the power that had been immersed in collective unconsciousness are truly heroic beings.  They are the true teachers, initiators, portals of the future and peacemakers for all time.

Originally published 19 August 2013. 

This entry concludes the four part series “Know Thyself X-XIII” that has dealt with the thought-forms that compose the ordinary personality, its dark and light sides and the endless activity of life in matter.  The teaching that inspired this series, as well as my book, “Quintessentiation”, originated with the Cypriot mystic teacher of Esoteric Christianity, Daskalos, with whom I studied for several years.  In one of my last meetings with him, he blessed this interpretation of the work saying it would help many people.  I hope so. 


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