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_Siddhartha_ and Magick

To: alt.magick.tyagi
Summary: A restatement from a recent posting and a continuation of a previous
	 discussion topic between my friend Mark Kampe and I (though all are
 	 invited to join us in our cogitations).
Keywords: HHesse, Siddhartha, Magick, Dedication, Complacency, Despondency
From: tyagI@houseofkaos.Abyss.coM (tyagi mordred nagasiva)
Subject: _Siddhartha_ and Magick
Date: Kali Yuga 49941114

This was posted to alt.magick recently and I've added it to the KFAQ:

# When you Throw a stone in to the water, it finds the quickest
# way to the bottom of the water. It is the same when Siddhartha
# has an aim, a goal. Siddhartha does nothing;he Waits, he Thinks 
# he Fasts, but he goes though the affairs of the world like the 
# stone though the water, without doing anything, without 
# bestirring himself; he is drawn and lets himself fall. He is 
# drawn by his goal, for he does not allow anything to enter his 
# mind which opposes his goal. That is what Siddhartha learned 
# from the sammans. It what fools call magic and what they think is
# caused by demons. Nothing is caused by demons; there are no 
# demons. Everyone can perform magic, everyone can reach there 
# goals, if they can THINK WAIT and FAST. 
(Hermann Hesse from _Siddhartha_)

I found this book to be incredibly inspirational to me as it addresses
very wonderfully some of the aspects of the magical path for me and,
apparently, for others.  Recently, when hosting my friend, Mark Kampe,
at the House of Kaos, we ended an evening's discussion on the notion 
of 'complacency' and how it could possibly lead to anything but 
'spiritual death'.  I said that I thought I could make a case
for the opposite while citing _Siddhartha_, and yet we got no further
in our discussions that evening due to interruption.  Mark asked me to
retain the thread, so to speak, and I've sat on it long enough (as I
may again see him soon! :>) that I'd like to at least respond to what
he has sent me since.  I lost my original file in which I was compiling
excerpts from the tome and I may recompile someday but right now I'd
like to merely begin this thread.


Here's Mark's email subsequent to our meeting (he gave me permission 
to quote it :>), along with my response:

Quoting: |markk@sagredo.West.Sun.COM (Mark Kampe)
Orig-Subject: Siddartha and striving

[some interpersonals omitted]

|...I had just asserted something to the general effect of a 
|personal belief that complacency is spiritual death and that 
|strength and vitality come from the striving towards some purpose.
|You asserted that Siddartha would seem to argue for exactly the
|opposite conclusion.

Yes, that's the discussion.  Now I remember. :>

|It seems to me that it contains support for both positions, and in
|exploring the differences we can see where the real lines might lie.

Agreed, as with many parts of that wonderful book it is not so heavy
on the assertive, and may therefore be viewed as support for very many 
perspectives/assertions.  I will of course focus upon the aspects of
it which support my contention. 

|Siddartha's training and dedication made him strong, active and
|capable.  In particular, this training enabled him to be very
|successful as a merchant's assistant and then as a merchant in
|his own right.  Over the years, however, his life came to be 
|dominated by the role he was filling and he lost his purpose.
|Finally the deterioration his spiritual being became inescapably
|obvious and he fled in a desparate effort to save his soul.

I think that your characterization of the story indicates your bias
and I will attempt to restate it within my own biased terms. :>

Siddhartha's training and dedication made him strong, active, and
disciplined.  In particular, this training enabled him to not only
succeed in learning the artful wiles of Samala, the concubine, but
also enabled him to enter into the business world wherein he applied
the principles he'd learned as a wandering beggar-monk (samana) to
a worldly profession as a merchant's assistant and then as a merchant
in his own right.  

Over the years he fell into a complacency, becoming disoriented within
the world through a release of his discipline.  This taught him some-
thing very important.  It taught him about what Sri Ramakrishna called
'women and gold', and while he was very proficient at remaining
unattached to both, he did not sustain an inner clarity through dedicated
and ambitious discipline.  Instead he indulged to excess, fell into the
traps of the debauch, and generally explored all the world could offer
him in terms of its social rewards.

Note that you say he 'lost his purpose', and yet I'm not sure he did.
I do think that he chose other purposes (largely short-term) which had
nothing like the yield of his former, meager, samana-ways.  He tested
these out, losing himself in their glamour, abandoning himself to the
perfection of excess.  This might be compared to the early Gautama
Buddha, who indulged every sensual desire to its extreme prior to
his encounter with the initiations of illness, old age, death and

I do see your point that Gautama did not have a *spiritual* purpose
as yet, and that Hesse's Siddhartha did indeed lose his *spiritual*
purpose, yet I think it is facile and overly-limiting to divide up the
world into 'spiritual' and 'material' or 'mundane' and 'divine' or
whathaveyou.  I contend that the path which Siddhartha travelled was the
epitome of *tantra*, and that radical indulgence is a perfect practice 
as compared to radical discipline (something which Siddhartha experienced
*first* before indulgence and thereafter reconciled to great extent during
his later, 'taoist period', with the Ferryman).

Gautama Buddha is said to have reconciled these also, and it is quite
appropriate, I think, that Tantric Buddhism (Tibetan) features greatly
the 'esoteric and hidden' teachings of Nagarjuna, who is said to have
revealed to them a deeper level of truth than those Four Noble Truths
taught in the woods after Gautama's Bo-Tree Revelation.

You continue thusly:

|This aspect of the story exemplifies the point I was trying to
|make.  While he was a sadhu, he was strong, and when he ceased
|to live and strive as a sadhu does he became weak.  His spiritual
|strength derived from his pursuit.

I think that your concepts of 'strong' and 'weak' here are extremely
limited in use and quite biased toward the ascetic.  You appear to
equate 'spirituality' with 'asceticism', and I say that this is
contrary to what both Hesse's _Siddhartha_ and Buddhism at its core
say to me.

Being 'hard' and 'detached' and 'single-of-purpose' has its merits,
yet the Way of the Buddha is the Middle Path, and the esoteric
teaching of Nagarjuna is well represented by the Prajna-paramita
Sutra, which is prominently featured even today within the more
austere Zen monasteries:

"Emptiness is not different than form.
"Form is not different than emptiness."

In this sense you are equating 'emptiness' with 'spirituality' and,
like very many in the West (and likely the East), also with asceticism.
I say that the path of the Thus-Gone (the Magus, if you like) is not
possible to locate in behavioral terms since it is a peculiar combination
of psycho-social contextuals that bring about awakening to the truth of
the identity of above and below, of emptiness and form, self and other,
of every duality, and yet simultaneously brings with it a reification of
what is called 'the buddha-nature', which is a counter-indicator of

Look to China and to Lao Tzu for better characterization of the strong
and the weak, the latter pre-eminently represented by the symbol of
water, which overcomes the strong through its perserverance and fluidity. 

You describe further the storyline and characterize it thusly:

|However, as we both know, the story does not end at this point.
|From the Ferryman (and ultimately from the River) he learns to
|find the fulfillment that had eluded him, both as a sadhu and
|as a merchant.  Indeed, his striving as a sadhu had given him
|strength, but it had not given him fulfillment.

I think that again your characterization is not to my taste, and
I would at least add the following:

>From the Ferryman he learns the *value* of listening to the River
(the symbol of the life-path, as well as of time and silence).
And from the *world* he is again given a lesson, in the form of his
son, by Kamala, from whom he learns the intense pain of personal
attachment (losing his discipline once again in the relationship which
transgresses his ability to ignore).  Here he cannot remain aloof from
the merchant-friends and lovers and such.  Here he is not 'Siddhartha
the Untouchable'.  He learns the deep pain of the parent and emerges
from this catharsis into Another Realm (signified by his reuniting
with his former Samana-mate that chose the traditional, social route).

|This aspect of the story exemplifies your point ... and it is not
|unreasonable to infer that his lack of internal peace, and his 
|need to strive were perhaps the greatest obstacles he needed to
|overcome in order to achive the fulfillment he sought.

I disagree that he ever found 'fulfillment'.  I disagree that there
was portrayed within that story or even within the story of the Buddha
Gautama some mystical 'fulfillment' which one may 'achieve'.  I think
that such a thing is fantasy, and that the real crown (so to speak) of
the story is his Samana-mate's revelation as he comes into contact once
more with the transformed Siddhartha.

This aspect of the story exemplifies my point, but in that it portrays
the resolution of asceticism and of enjoyment, of discipline and 
indulgence, of rigor and debauch, of the worldly and the monastic, of 
the personal and the impersonal, and *this* is how I think my claim
that complacency does not lead to 'spiritual death' is supported.

|Are these two aspects of the story actually in conflict, or
|do they merely complement one-another?

Again, I disagree that these are the two aspects of the story.  I think
that what you are contrasting in the latter part of the story is a
measure of of Siddhartha's fusion of discipline and indulgence.  He does
not work very hard.  He sits by the river and listens to its teachings,
almost dropping out of the world except for his one task of Ferrying and
feeding himself (until later also needing to feed his son).

|When Siddartha was in the city, he lost his purpose and his
|dedication ... and this was the onset of his spiritual decay.

In that 'spiritual decay' amounts to a lack of ascetic rigor, I agree.

|After many years he rediscovered his purpose and redidicated
|himself to it.  He did not carry the same energy and urgency
|into his second pilgrimage ... but this it seems to me that
|this is more a matter of style than goal.

'Second pilgrimmage'?  I do not understand the reference.  Perhaps
you see the Ferryman's tutelage as a 'second spirituality', where
I see it as a divergence from between the extremes where he compares 
and fuses the two experiences (samana/woman-gold) previously encountered.

|When he joined the ferryman, he was properly prepared to receive
|his lessons ... and it is most unlikely that he would have been
|able to receive them in his younger days.  Therefore, it is clear
|that he did learn something useful as a merchant.  During his time
|in the city (and his flight) he became cured of his mental agitation.

I'm not sure of what 'mental agitation' he was cured.  He seems to 
have similar insecurities until he is given the gift of hearing the river.
I don't think that Siddhartha really became a MONK (as I mean the term
now -- one who hooks their will to their intuition and follows it to
its end) until he took up his 'study' with the Ferryman.  

At first he hooked his will to his ideas about 'spirituality', of the
Path of the Perfect.  This was the traditional.  He realized that the
nature of the teachings were contrary to other important parts of him
and he decided to be his own guide of a sort.  He hooked his will to
his lust for woman and gold and followed them out to see where these

When he came to the Ferryman his will was attached to his intuition,
since the Ferryman didn't have any *obvious* teachings to impart.  By
all the conventional standards of the world and the Buddhists and
Samanas the Ferryman was just a simple man in a world of complexity.
In many ways this is why I link the Ferryman with taoism as I know it.
He does not strive.  He is not attempting to 'achieve something', he
even laughs at Siddhartha's initial struggles in this regard, while
Siddhartha's mind wriggles within the path his intuition lays before 

|I claim that this is the crucial difference.  He was a dedicated
|Sat Sadhu both before and after the city, and his pursuit was a
|source of strength.  His life as a merchant drained him of both his
|disturbance and his purpose.  He was then able to regain his purpose
|and find fulfillment.

See above.

|As you suggest, Siddartha warns us against the error of "strife"
|and "striving", but it seems to give us a very strong message
|about the importance of having and being dedicated to a purpose.

I think when you say 'being dedicated to a purpose' I would use the
terms 'familiar and skilled with discipline'.  I do really think that
as Siddhartha's will was carrying him in response to varies aspects
of his being (first intellect, then body, then intuition in which
he also encountered emotional attachment and action), so also did
his 'purpose(s)' change.  

There is no overal 'endpoint' to which the tantric, at least, strives.
Striving is the entire problem.  One must sometimes (as Siddhartha
plainly demonstrates) strive within all of the various dimensions of
life in order to learn not to strive at all, and this is the central
teaching of Zen and Tao, of Suf and Xrist as I know them.  

Perhaps where we may agree is that Siddhartha never really 'gives up'.
He never appears to 'lose hope' and fall into DESPONDENCY.  In this
I would agree that despondency is the death of the spirit, though I'm
neither sure that such a death need be final nor that it ought be
excluded as part of one's path.  

Neat.  When I looked up 'despondency' in my Bible it relates the word 
to 'lacking in spirits', while its root is 'to give up'.  Honestly,
I didn't plan that. :>

You write quite a bit more here, to all of which I do not respond point-

|There are lots of ways of breaking down people into archetypal
|elements.  One of the breakdowns (for men) I have studied is
|	warrior
|	poet
|	prophet
|	priest
|	king
|The relevent archetype (for the image I was seeking) is the
|warrior.  There are two key elements to a warrior:
|	complete dedication to the perfection of a skill-set
|	selfless application of those skills in service to a cause

These are what I would call 'elementary' keys to the warrior's path.
The path of the swordsman in a story within _Zen Inklings_ points
out the advanced stages fo the Warrior's path rather well.  Perhaps
I ought reproduce it in whole, since I have cited it so very often
in personal conversation (with Abyss, usually).  If you wish, ask of
me that reproduction and I shall provide it here or in person.  It 
is somewhat longish.

There is a point at which the purpose and service must dissolve
in order to be infused within a 'deeper order of the self-nature'.
It is at this point that one may begin to truly master the path.
Of course along these roles there is a point at which their ideals
all converge in the Priest-King-Scholar-Warrior-Poet, who is what 
Lugh/Llew is to the Celtic mythos - Master of All Arts and Sciences.

In this those 'two key elements' of which you speak are dissolved
and dismembered so as to be applied only when necessary.  For as
every tool, they carry their own limitations, and these are seldom
pointed out within the ascetic, warrior-worshipping traditions. ;>

|These are powerful centering forces that embue the warrior
|with a very stable and strong spiritual core.  As long as
|the warrior remains true to these values, he will be spiritually
|strong and his life will unfold simply.  These two keys are
|the channels through which the warrior is connected to the
|nourishing sap of spiritual life.

I disagree but only from the perspective of the Warrior who has
learned everything which hir Master-at-arms could teach.  Eventually 
even the *role* of Warrior must be abandoned, and with it those two keys.

|If the warrior allows either of these channels to become obstructed,
|the flow of life is diminished and the warrior begins to rot from
|the inside.  A man may shift archetypes, and rebuild himself around
|different principles, but if he remains a warrior, he cannot long
|survive without dedication to the skills and to service.

I agree that skills and service are very important.  I also think that
laziness and selfishness are of primary importance to the development of
the individual.  Without these polar forces within the life of the
Warrior she will devolve into a mere tyrant without value of personal
enjoyment or of egotism.

|As a young sadhu, Siddartha was manifesting the warrior archetype

Agreed completely.

|In the city, he ceased his excercises and his pursuit of truth, and
|the spiritual rot began.  

For one you forgot Kamala (as everyone would like to).  She was his
Scarlet Woman who taught him the ways of the flesh.  She is the most
important element in the story, as I see it, for she is the Earth
Mother, the Serpentine Seductress and Mistress of the Buddha, 
revealing to Siddhartha the Seventy-Three Thousand Delights of the
Nadi-Buddhas, sending him to the lowest rung upon his Tree of Life,
and, at *her end*, serving him a connection so strong (his own
mortality and emotional bond) that he could not draw away from it.

That she died at the Ferryman's hut is very important, for she came
to sanctify and initiate what could be said (among the imaginative)
to be the 'culmination' of Siddhartha's Quest: his entry into true

The city was the ultimate in other-sensation.  Woman, to (notably
hetero) man, represents pleasure and procreation, when stripped of
all her personality and reduced to her most mundane.  In the animal
mind she is self-delight at its most tempting, the city other-delight,
rewarded by *temporary* ego-dissolution and (unless resisted) permanent
self-delusion.  Bearings lost, Siddhartha cascaded along a route which
would ultimately lead to his ruin, though his will was too strong to
be captured and destroyed by these ends.

|Fortunately, he recognized what was happening
|to him before the rot became terminal, and he was able to return to
|his warrior skills (sitting, fasting and thinking) and his warrior
|cause (spiritual truth).  Thus, he was saved.

One might just as easily stand upon the side of the sensualist (as
compared to the ascetic, as you have done) and say in mirror, that
Siddhartha was deluded at first, thinking that he could find his
Goal within some sense-denying, death-worshipping cult, rotting from
the outside in from a perverted application of 'liberation' when in 
actuality he was headed merely for pain and death.

His instruction from the whore, Kamala, proved to be his first and
most important initiation, for not only did she help him to break all
his pent-up lust that would only have been denied and never released
within the Samana or Buddhist camps, but she gave to him something
which no other could give, love between equals and the product of
their union.  He needed more, and survived her.

He was able to engage the world with a new-found insight into the
nature of desire and its release, though he had not yet discovered
to what that desire led if he followed it when it clamored after the 
joys of the world.  Siddhartha was thus 'saved' from the evils of 
the ascetic path, even after having learned valuable things from it 
(as he did with all his various journies -- and this may in fact be 
a key point).

|This image is a vivid one for me because 
|  (a) it was a source of considerable regret in my fathers life
|  (b) I feel myself to be at great perril

I hear you say that your father felt himself undisciplined and that you 
are afraid that you court danger if you follow in his footsteps.  Perhaps
I misunderstand you here.

And yet when last you visited you lent me one of your father's manuscripts,
his 'Corpus Magica', it appears.  My review of it indicates to me that
your father did indeed lack discipline, not only in letter but in content,
being knowledgeable in certain aspects of various disciplines and yet not
philosophically experienced of the breadth in those he attempted to expound
in that work.  I may be wholly mistaken, though this is my feeling presently.

That you feel yourself to be at peril indicates to me that either you feel
you need more discipline than you have or that you are concerned that the
discipline you have may not be sufficient to fend off what you consider to
be your own 'complacency'.  

You did not ask me to say these things, and yet I cannot otherwise under-
stand your motive in bringing these points to me in parallel while linking
you and your father's paths unless you wished to hear my reflections.

I do agree with you in some great measure, as I said above.  I think that
it takes a very dedicated individual to walk the Sword Bridge, to glimpse
beyond the Veil of Knowledge and touch the Infinite, to attain to what we
have been told is the Summum Bonum, True Wisdom and Perfect Happiness.

And the fear laid out by this Great Work is of the faltering and dwindling
of that dedication, which I have named 'despondency'.  What I argue above
and I will continue to argue, largely because I make tantra my path as I
come to know it, is that complacency is a form of education, that self-
indulgence is a form of self-instruction, that egotism is a form of play,
and that hedonism is immature until it is combined with Science (in its
religious and/or gnostic sense -- again see _Liber Scire_).

Therefore any complacency you may feel I urge you to look upon carefully.
Any desire you feel unfulfilled and yearning, I urge you to consider
attempting to fulfill to its limits and watch what occurs as result.
*Giving* to oneself is not 'giving in' or 'giving up', I say.  Enjoyment
is one of the Pillars of the Tree of Life, with Discipline its more
directed and resolute counterpart.  If we don't know the Way of Life, we
can never know what lies beyond the Way of Death, exploring the Middle
Pillar and coming to know the unity of Kether/Father/Heaven and 


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