“Watch and Pray” – A Gnostic Meaning Behind Jesus’s Words
“Watch and pray” is something that Jesus said several times in the Gospels, and many people have reflected on the depth of what he meant by it. In itself, this is a profound teaching, because it explains what in the Gnostic system of teaching is known as the “First key to awakening”. Jesus said: “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (from Mark 14:38)
The spirit (our inner Being) is indeed willing to push us, i.e. its soul (essence or consciousness) out of the imprisonment of matter. This prison is both inner and outer. Within, our essence is trapped in a multitude of low inner states, also known as egos, that keep this essence trapped and conditioned in its low energy. Most of our essence is imprisoned inside the egos (subconscious mind), which is why the fight against temptations and low states is not easy. Outer prison is the physical body, as it binds the soul to the physical world and its laws. However, the soul, even though it would enjoy more freedom without the physical vehicle while roaming around the higher realms of existence (depending also on its karma), it is still very limited in what it can do and where it can go. It is explained that the reason for this limitation is the fact that it is still a rough child that is unshaped and incomplete, and that it has to pass through the School of Life in order to learn and gradually reach adulthood which it does once it becomes whole, i.e. when it integrates with its Higher Self.
In order for this to happen, one has to ‘die in themselves’, die to all that is low and heavy so that the essence is liberated from its prison of conditioning and in that way the chains of subconscious mind reduced to ashes. That is an inner meaning behind “Watch and pray”. By “watching” we are observing our psychological centers where egos manifest from moment to moment, and by “praying” we ask for its elimination, so that the essence trapped inside is liberated. This is what the first key to awakening is about – it is the “death in motion” technique that is clarified in the Gnostic teachings, especially by Master Rabolu who continued the work of Samael Aun Weor.
In the Gospels, Jesus also said: “Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.” (Luke 21:36)
The instruction of Jesus here is quite straightforward. We live in this physical dimension in complete ignorance of who we are, why we are here and where we will be going. Many believe that doing good deeds alone or by having positive thoughts will bring them salvation. But Jesus here warns that the human fate is not so promising, unless something is done about it, which is to “watch and pray”. In the Gnostic and esoteric teachings it is explained that the law of evolution and devolution carries all the souls that are bound to this world; that haven’t yet become divine. It is taught that once the soul’s cycle of human lives is over, it needs to go through devolution, which entails passing through the abyss (in religions known as hell) in order to purge it of the egos, so that it can continue fresh its new journey through evolution. However, if this is evaded by “watching and praying” and by doing the spiritual work in general, the soul will be ready to “stand before the Son of Man” – to incarnate the inner Christ, and in that way escape the Wheel of Samsara by graduating in the School of Life.
In book The Flight of the Feathered Serpent, Judas Iscariot said the following:
“Watch and pray” was the heritage left by the Christ for the courageous.
Watch is to do everything awakened; pray is a feeling of ardent yearning to be one with the Being.
However, he who watches, even though they do it in an imperfect way, will receive generous help and he will learn to receive generously as well…
The help is in the Here and it is Now.”
This is a another marvellous teaching, because it gives us a deeper perspective on this mystical death.
To die to oneself; to eliminate the egos in order to free the essence trapped inside it, can only be done by those who are courageous, whose souls have matured enough to shake away the shackles of their animal nature, and that are prepared to thread the Path to awakening.
To be “watchful” is to be on guard; it means to have consciousness active and awake in the here and now so to be able to observe inwardly for manifestations of the egos, to catch them and then to “pray”. The latter is to petition to the feminine part of our inner Being (our divine Mother), in order for her to eliminate them. When we petition to her for the death of this lower aspect of ourselves (but which in reality is not our true self) that we were absorbed in for so many lifetimes, indicates that our longing for the re-union with our divine Being has awakened in us and that we are ready for what comes next – the stepping out of the jungle of ignorance, illusion and suffering; ready to become complete again, and to continue our Journey on the higher octave of Life.
HDP, December 2019.