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Spiritual Transition Points

To: alt.magick.tyagi,talk.religion.misc,alt.thelema,alt.magick,alt.recovery.religion,alt.skeptic
From: (nigris (333))
Subject: Spiritual Transition Points (was Losing My Religion)
Date: 24 Jul 1999 01:55:04 -0700

49990316 IIIom Happy Nulatix!

do what you please

a correspondent wrote:
# Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

The word of Sin is Restriction.

the same correspondent wrote previously:
#>#> I've quit my religious disciplines....
#>#> ...I can see no evidence that recent alleged Initiates and 
#>#> Yogis are any saner or more truly, inwardly free than the 
#>#> rest of the population; many cases the reverse is in 
#>#> fact the case....

#> ...what characteristics do you consider to be
#> evidence of "sanity and being truly, inwardly free"?  
# ...if a person is full of lingering spite, lies to protect 
# hir image, and gets worried and depressed over hir future 
# or past (as opposed to momentary anger or sadness over the 
# present which flows thru' the person and is gone), s/he is 
# clearly still the thrall of externality, and so not 
# Enlightened (tm).  

# ...all of these [Adepti of which we have adequate historical
# records] (and everyone I know) is still a slave to their own 
# mental/emotional apparatus.

this is a result of at least two factors of which I am aware:
	a) the Hermetic tradition is rife with fraudulence --
	 novel aspects of it such as that which identifies
	 with 'Thelema' are so recently constructed that any
	 adepts who might gravitate toward its attention-
	 centers are likely to be well-hidden or overlooked.
	b) you may know the wrong people -- it may be valuable
	 to consider varying the culture and associations
	 of the people with whom you are keeping company. you
	 may find it interesting (I have) to occasionally
	 make forays amongst those who are *known* for their
	 resemblance to the standards you are describing. I
	 agree of course that it may be tough-going to verify
	 the state which you seem to be seeking.
oh and
	c) 'Enlightenment' (tm?) may be something other than
	 you are describing -- it may be something which does
	 not clear up all these immaturities but instead comes
	 as an additional something special that makes being
	 around the individual worth negotiating the hazards
	 of their particular hang-ups. many gurus, saints,
	 etc. are described in exalted terms while admitting
	 of a variety of psychological problems. does this mean
	 that they weren't really 'Enlightened'? or does this
	 mean that Enlightenment isn't contra-indicated by the
	 retainment of psychological issues?
the Wizard (VHMaroney) responds: 
#># Many spiritual leaders are excellent examples of your point....
#> but how good is our ability to assess them through the media
#> filter through which we see them?  are we looking at the spin
#> of a crafty (or slipshod) marketeer, or are we really getting
#> a sense of their 'spiritual condition'?
# If AC says he's a perfect Buddha, this is a quite reasonable 
# question...

I would say that Crowley is not the best example of someone who
demonstrates their psychospiritual maturity through his writing.
he demonstrates a wit, an amusing intellect, a variety of immature 
biases, and a penchance for iconoclasm. but as a demonstration of
the ideals of the bodhisattva I think he fails the test (like the
Wizard says, it is possible that this ideal is imaginary rather
than founded in a reflection of anyone real). but I am only
assessing what I have seen of his WRITING (see below).

#># striking contrasts lies in yogic leaders who go on and on about
#># unconditional love for all beings, and then, a few pages later, 
#># descend to insulting, petty diatribes against some rival yogin 
#># whose only crime seems to be a different recipe for how much 
#># salt one should mix with yak butter to make ghee....
#> agreed, I don't think that writing is a very good measuring 
#> device. not only does it have the potential to conceal nasty 
#> hypocrisy, but it can hide sparkling, beautiful people behind
#> a webwork of abstract concepts which are the focus of their
#> expression (some say this is to the advantage of the latter
#> so as to stave off spiritual vampires).
# I'm not clear what you're saying, here.

only that people can present themselves through writing in a way
which conceals a host of psychospiritual maladies. that Crowley
was as frank as he was about his problems indicates to me that at
least he wasn't so hung up on his image that he wanted to keep
all of that crap under wraps for the protection of his status.

many religious leaders never write a THING down, and this might
in part be the case so as to obscure a reasonable historical
record of who they were. that their biographers glorified them
says more, perhaps, about the biographer than about their subject.
on the other hand, the concealing quality of writ can also be
used to hide a gleaming soul of brilliant maturity. postures
and visages could be taken on so as to obscure their Light
and make possible a written transmission without a host of
gluttonous moths clogging the inroads.

#># and I think, "how could I possibly consider this individual
#># to be 'spiritually advanced' in any real sense?"....
#> perhaps those who put these people in their proper place
#> (as peculiar examples of occult and religious study and
#> practice and its results) while carving their own niche and
#> tunnel through the maelstrom modern occultism has become
#> are the only ones who can really benefit from their expression
#> without becoming fucked up by it....
# Can you think of anyone we can reliably say anything about, 
# historically, who does NOT fail any reasonable test for 
# ego-transcendence, etc?

I think this is entirely the wrong symptom for which to search.
the ego itself is not a Problem; the rest of the personality's
relationship WITH it, i.e. the particular combination of
behavioral and structural elements and how these may or may 
not integrate with the ego, is more important to me when I 
consider with whom to spend my time.

and this is what I have found as a valuable route to follow --
not looking for people who have 'transcended their ego', but
instead finding those who have what I would call a HEALTHY ego:
one not dominating themselves and those around them (i.e.
balanced by temperance, humility, etc., rather than self-
debilitation), one which has the capacity to act but does not
need to all the time, and many other subtle characteristics.

having a very stringent standard where this is concerned tends 
to have me interacting with a very select and small set of 
people, but I think a number of such individuals may exist.
#>#> ...they do not, evidently, lead to permanent inward freedom 
#>#> of the sort promised, in which external events are met with 
#>#> Appolonian detachment or ecstatic Dionysiac identification.

#> what sort of study would be necessary to evaluate this across
#> the variety of people who undertake these disciplines? ...

# When every ostensible example fails the test, one tends to 
# suspect that any Secret Order of Buddhas is very well-
# concealed, indeed....

I have given up long ago (and this ties in to the Wizard's mention
of his disbelief in arhats) on finding some cult of buddhas or
christs. instead I have struggled to come to a realization of how
even the most simple object is the very buddha nature from which
I may glean deep wisdom. this includes taking every person whom I
meet as an ostenible instructor in some area of life (often by
interaction, not necessarily as examples).

that is, my role has shifted from "Looking for Perfect Examples
of the Path's End" to "Watching the Wheels", after Lennon.
turning my attention inward and treating myself and my intimates
as the only people worth dedicating my time to has been liberating
in that I am not always watching out for something better. to be
sure, if I meet someone from whose instruction I feel I could
benefit I will undertake to share time with them. but more often
than not I find solitary pursuits and one-on-one interactions to
be more conducive to my self-observation and development. these
days I seek out instruction for the benefit of my HUMILITY (as
I have much to learn as a beginner) and due to my interest in 
the peculiarities of human imagination and behavior more than 
anything else.

# granted the level of detailed evidence of "serious" work at these
# disciplines on these folks' part, and the evident lack of evidence of
# success, it would seem that any statement that they DO work is a pure 
# leap of faith, not merely in the absence of evidence, but in direct 
# opposition to it.

then presume the world is awash in ignorance and that, like many
storybook characters, you have awaken to the First Level of the
Path (the realization that all the paths to realization are
actually failing). your question is 'how do I proceed from here,
when it seems that everywhere I turn lies simply more ignorance?' 

my response is 'what is it that led you to this realization?'
if you perpetuate it, you may walk further down that realization
road and discover something more suitable to modern conditions.
if you keep adequate record of your progress and self-analyze
your procedures, you may leave a trail which implies or contains
an adequate statement of the approach others may find important.

beyond this, if the goals are all fantastic illusions without
basis, then you are free to choose your own alternatives and
attempt to enjoy them. :>

# trying to get the $#%$# goals for over a decade, now.  That 
# is rather my point: I haven't ,and evidently neither has 
# anyone else.

then again I would suggest that the options are that your 
perceptions are fallable and incomplete, the goals are 
misunderstood and being measured against faulty standards,
or you are correct and are like the boy who recognizes that
the Emperor has no clothes.  how you proceed from here is
likely to be based on which of these is correct.

#> FASCINATING. I have always found banishing rites to be nasty,
#> evil smelling things which offended my sensibilities. I have
#> noticed that engaging the study of demonology, taking to
#> certain unusual standards of appearance, and generally
#> heavy involvement in any culture led to the repercussions
#> which you mention here, however (by virtue of the adoption
#> of a specialized, often technical, language, and the focus
#> on very particular subjects of study and authors/gurus).
# What, then (if anything) do you believe WILL work?
that depends entirely on what you seek to accomplish, what you
take 'working' to mean. I have developed over the course of
years a few axioms by which I conduct my education (I have
learned to call these axioms 'Wizardry' and understand it as
a course of instruction I have obtained from my HGA/goddess):

	 anything to which the Wizard sets hir will
	 may be accomplished; all it takes is reflection
	 upon the means and the decision to apply hirself
	 completely; the accomplishment will be achieved
	 on the basis of the WILL moreso than the means.

this takes the emphasis off of process and places it more
heavily upon the effort. the Wizard succeeds, and a variety
of explanations and formulae are promoted as the Means to
Get to the Same Place. more often than not the means must
be hewn out of rough stone, not tread like a well-worn path. 

	 belief is not a necessary element of success,
	 though it may become one; there is no intellectual
	 Truth to be found hiding amongst the philosophic
	 spectrum, but intellectual tack and a firm faith
	 can set the stage for admirable and inspired work.

this takes the emphasis off of Truth and places it more on
intellectual taste. the Wizard settles into an intellectual
seat which befits hir condition and destiny, and this seat
may be quite inflexible or wholly fluid.

	 radical self-honesty is the best policy; self-
	 deception is the worst kind, and no real progress
	 can be made when one works against oneself.

duplicity and hypocrisy are clear contraindicators and
integrity and consistency are the mark of the wise.

	 beginning by expecting little expenditure of
	 energy or effort in return for great compensation,
	 the student of Wizardry is able to isolate and
	 identify real potential and dissuade parasites.

I used to describe this principle as 'Real Magick is FREE',
but now I think that this was a misunderstanding based on
my relative unfamiliarity with the Great Work. there is a
benefit to being lazy, to expecting much from progress-
schemes that present themselves while paying them the 
great compliment of my attention (the monetary standard of 
the future, as Reingold and others have correctly surmised).
to these 4 principles (by which I have operated 
satisfactorily for more than 15 years), I would now add

	 without love as a central theme the path becomes
	 lifeless, devoid of spirit and pleasure.

this is not to say that compassionless periods are in some
way unprofitable, just that they are ultimately unfulfilling.

you asked what I believe will "work". I find that the
principles of Wizardry afford, when placed within the
context of my life, a very good track record which I
feel are corroborated by those who know me well. of
course, I am a beginner.

#># ...since ...I was motivated by an unhappy perception of 
#># myself as unenlightened and as needing to become enlightened, 
#># my practices acted out a drama of low self-esteem and instead
#># of correcting this negative perception of myself, merely 
#># compensated for it.

#> 'fix myself using this magical method' paradigm is very common.
# It is, in fact, universal, except among those seeking occult powers, 
# to want to fix oneself (whether one has low self (ie ego)-esteem or 
# not); otherwise, why bother?  

this seems to me to be the Solution which Satanism and other body-
positive, life-affirming paths like Wicca, neotantra, and sex 
mysticism offer.  hedonism, pleasure, with mindfulness, can be an 
important motive in engaging activity and 'spreading the proverbial 
wealth' (indeed I would argue amongst all species).

# If you're already a damned  Avatar (and know it ;>), you wouldn't 
# be doing the work.

not necessarily true. in Zen Buddhism there is a popular instruction
that zazen (sitting zen) is not just 'practice', it is *itself the
goal* (nirvana, enlightenment, whatever you want to call it). that
is, when you 'get it' or 'wake up' or whatever, you won't necessarily
suddenly stop your 'practice' except in a literal sense (your role
with respect to it will change). 

compare this to martial arts as I have heard them described: the
variety of 'exercises' become a part of the art itself. they are
not really left behind, but instead are integrated into a more
complex activity which is an extension of the instruction and a
deepening of the individual maturity. 

as Sam Webster and I (among others) have advocated, ceremonial 
magick is very much like these exercises which may become a part 
of a greater and more fluid or complex development.  the first 
stages appear to be orientation and empowerment. after this one may
apply this to the accomplishment of WORKS. what Al Billings said
about the necessity of practice for achievement is quite correct, 
and I would only add that ceremonialism is not the only possible 
means within the Hermetic framework (what I would call 'shamanism' 
-- that is, more free-form, intuitively-driven activity -- has 
its place and may or may not integrate ceremonial elements).

#> we are agreed that they are limited in scope. they are not
#> a transformation of the core personality in any real sense.
#> I DO think that meditation has the capacity to change this,
#> but only within the context of specific lives, from very
#> particular motivations, and with the guidance of someone
#> capable of turning the discipline toward this result. I also
#> think that magical experimentation has the capacity to
#> become transformative, but I wonder whether the activities
#> themselves are the catalysts. I suspect that philosophy of
#> the spirit (what I call 'mendo') are what sets the stage for
#> real maturation, but this is only my speculation.
# Hmm.  Then why does it not seem to really "do it" for anyone?
# (Interesting speculation in any case, BTW).

my experience does not confirm your supposition that nobody is
achieving success. I question whether it is valuable to presume 
some all-or-nothing experience implied by 'do it' in your 
question, and I have perceived a graduated level of success in
the various mystical cultures which I have briefly explored.
perhaps you have merely set your standards too high?  compare
the 'Sudden Awakening' to the 'Gradual Awakening' Zen schools.
#> magical progress, the basics. like beefing up one's physique
#> in preparation for a marathon, but never beginning the run.
# And what is the run?

attempting to utilize one's magical 'muscles' in the world.
it is here that I think that LaVey had one over on Aquino in the
Satanist culture (one which I have been studying of late): he
centered his attention (or at least pretended to) on achievements
beyond social ladder-climbing and intellectual one-upsmanship.
his linkage of the priesthood of the Church of Satan with 'real
world accomplishment' was inspired, by my lights, and consonant
with how magick ought to be seen by modern magicians, however
successfully he may have followed through on this notion.

#># Certain interpretations of Buddhism treat "non-enlightenment" 
#># and "the belief that one is not enlightened" as synonymous....
#> well said. some might rephrase this as 'enlightenment is a matter
#> of attitude'.
# If so, then how do you get the attitude?  

given the premises above (with which I do not agree), one can get
the attitude by engaging the process: in the case of Mahayana
Buddhism, taking the vows and acting based on these; in the
case of Wicca, becoming initiated (ceremonially or 'by the gods')
and acting according to the Rede;  in the case of Thelema, by
encountering the Holy Guardian Angel (by one's own lights) and 
then proceding through the instruction which Knowledge and
Conversation makes possible in preparation for one's role in 
the Great Work (whatever that may be). it seems to me that this
is the 'fake it until you make it' school of enlightenment, and
while I dislike it, I can understand its value and think it may 
prove beneficial.

# This sort of stuff really goes nowhere.  The problem can be 
# reframed a thousand ways; the issue is, WHAT CAN BE DONE TO SOLVE IT?

is there really a problem to be solved?  where is it?  what is it?
does acting according to the prescribed Dharma or Rede 'go nowhere'?
or does it minimize the destructive impact of ignorance until we
are really able to achieve wisdom and compassion, agape to feed into
our gnosis (if we are)?
#>#> but I now SEE NO WAY TO GET THERE, except by a spontaneous 
#>#> event outside of my control....

# ...if it's up to god, preparing myself doesn't make a damned 
# bit of difference.  No?

unless the ONLY way to get there is by being ready and waiting.
cf. Hesse's _Siddhartha_, whose talents included this latter.
#> have we met anyone who we can attest 'had it'?  if so, what
#> were they like?  to what tests did we put them?  how much time
#> did we spend in their presence?  what were they really like?
# ... and this is my problem.  Lots of folks talk about it; a 
# smaller number even hand out ostensible roadmaps; no one seems 
# to be there.  

but you didn't answer my questions about these people you are 
covering by the words "no one".

# So is it all a sham?  Or have I just been using the wrong map?

maybe the 'map analogy' is insufficiently complex to allow for
your particular situation. this is why I prefer to think in
terms of "combinations" ('unlocking awareness') rather than maps,
though 'maps of consciousness' (as Metzger's title illustrates)
is quite a beautiful analogy for psycho-spiritual models and
objects of contemplation.

# Knowing you, Nigris, your first response will be "throw out 
# the maps, and forge your own path."  

I hope that you now see that this is not at all what I am saying.
if this is what suits you, please proceed immediately. instead,
I am saying that there is no One Correct Solution, and that what
we may think of as the Solution may in fact be overblown. 

thinking in terms of combination locks, and understanding that
you may simply not be attuned, fundamentally, to those around
you, then it may be time for a different adjustment to your
mechanism before you can move closer to that unlocking (for
which some outside entity may be or hold the ultimate Key).

repetition does not work for everyone past a certain point.
I liked the book _Master of Five Magics_ (fiction) as an
illustration of this principle, and feel that I am akin
to this in many ways. it is this eclectic, syncretic and
unique style which I think gives Hermetic culture its real
charm (especially when it cops to its sources and does not
attempt to deceive in order to obtain its goals).

# But even supposing such a complete divorce from
# extant traditons were possible, why even TRY to forge 
# a path to a city that evidently NO ONE EVER FINDS?

having presumed that the Emerald City does not exist,
there is no reason to attempt to get there. abandon it
as a destination and find something more attractive and
reasonable. or sit and listen to the wind through the
trees until something motivates you from INSIDE.

#> a very bodily-oriented, heart-centered root-wisdom that does
#> not make its home in ascetic endeavor any more than it resides
#> in a life of complete indulgence.  'wisdom of the heart' is
#> what I have enjoyed when described, and I think that this is
#> the beauty behind the presumed gematric identity between the
#> words 'agape' and 'thelema'. the Middle Way lies between them,
#> where both of them may be found.
# So, where is it, and how do you tread it?  

the buddha Gotama is reputed to have described its particular
elements (as have many other sages identified as bearers of
'the Logos' by Crowley and others). he is reputed to have
called it the 8-fold Path to Nirvana. many specific Buddhist
traditions have solutions that they plug into the formula
that is laid out. I interpret the prescription of the Awakened
One as an indicator or flag in the areas of prime importance,
upon which one ought place one's attentions so as to continue
to make progress in the direction one finds enjoyable long-term.

traditionally these are described as: understanding, thought,
speech, action, livelihood, effort, mindfulness, and concentration.
finding the correct combination of influences or configuration of
lifestyle is the Art of Waking Up as I understand it.  this is
'how to tread it', a kind of experiment in living-to-waking.

# ...What, in real space-time, can one DO to be free-- or can 
# one reallly get free for more thatn a few moments at a time 
# before falling back into the Black Iron Prison?  

you're funny. you ask a question in metaphorical form and want
a literal response. what "Black Iron Prison"?  I think I do
understand what you mean, and I hope that I have provided a
response which you can use to DISCOVER THE PARTICULARS.  I
could not suggest them as I don't know you well enough. I can
only suggest formulae that have worked for me to discover my
OWN particular activities by which I feel I have benefitted.

# If the latter, well, I don't think I'll bother:  I'll just 
# try to work to make the prisoners (myself included) more 
# comfortable.  An eternal round of failed prison breaks is 
# no way to lead yourl ife.

if you elaborated on what it is you mean by 'prison' here,
I might be able to address it. I do think that quiet, one-
pointed focus and intentional relaxation during routine 
periods has been helpful to me in leaving trapped feelings
and rigid mentation behind.
#> these I have also found quite valuable.  I feel that changing
#> one's life-circumstances, prolonging challenges so as to remain
#> 'on the edge', and not just 'giving in' to the urge to abandon
#> disciplines while also being compassionate with myself enables
#> me to strike a growth-inducing balance. I have taken my cues
#> from the writings of zen and sufi masters and their students,
#> especially those which demonstrate an understanding of both
#> wisdom AND compassion. the latter often include descriptions of
#> the sheikh or guide providing a fluctuating lifestyle variation
#> through which the murid or student grows by virtue of having
#> had the experience.
# THIS is more of what I'm asking about.  But do you really think 
# it will do the job?  

I think that it can make one more flexible, broad-minded, and
deepened of character. sometimes (depending on the student) I
would guess this translates into the maturity I would call
'gnosis' (but you might not).

# If you don't believe in the destination, there's little sense
# treading the path.  ("The goal is the road," I say without 
# trying to be nasty, is bollocks).

there's your prison for you. I say that in a certain sense and
to a great extent the goal IS the road, the journey IS the
destination, because it is ONLY the journey which exists. all
other factors are ultimately illusory.

#> :> but you feel you have attempted and achieved some success
#> in the areas of the basics. descriptions by Crowley and others
#> of magick as a means of achievment utilizing the tools to hand
#> to change the cosmos (my paraphrase) seems to apply here. you
#> have taken what you have learned in the symbolic and ritual
#> realm and applied it within the context of your life.  this is
#> what LaVey was pointing out about 'Real Magic' when he described
#> the value of work in the world as an indicator of mastery.
# Perhaps, in one sense; but I am not looking for that kind 
# of mastery.

why not? perhaps this is your blindness?  why not seek the 
example of RESULTS rather than a show of convincing words?
what is it about "that kind of mastery" which inspires you
to avoid looking for it?  is it possible that those who may
have dissuaded you from seeking that kind of mastery have
actually debilitated you and fed off you to their advantage?

love is the law

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