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Ego, Illusions, Dissolution, and Mysticism

To: alt.magick.tyagi,alt.magick.tantra,alt.magick,alt.consciousness.mysticism,alt.pagan.magick,
Subject: Ego, Illusions, Dissolution, and Mysticism
From: xiwangmu 
Date: Sun, 04 Jan 2004 09:30:41 GMT


# One Satori - and I thought that I'd just have to live 
# with having an ego as long as I was alive.  

I'll interpret this as a transcendental peak ala Maslow.

# It's a communication tool I thought. When I eventually 
# get round to dying etc then I'll deal with it eventually:)
# ...maybe it would be possible to get rid of the ego.
# After all - mind knows how to operate and communicate now.  
# Emotions function - why do I need ego?

as far as I can tell, I *is* ego. giving it away would be
like extending your hand to your husband. my impression
is that you don't really want him to remove and keep it. :>

he said to you: 
# ..."Do you know there are 84 different ways to give up 
# your ego in the abadamarta?"  And according to him I 
# may have gotten rid of my old ego but have regrown a 
# new one. *sigh*

implying that ego is a temporarily dispensable construct.
# I feel different - but maybe I am quickly growing an ego 
# along the lines of the old one as we speak.  Old habits 
# die hard.  Mind trundles along old habits - emotions do 
# the same.

as far as I can tell, in order for you to express yourself
in this conversation you will need some kind of self-concept,
a notion of a central being having experiences which may or
may not include personal interface objects some identify as
'masks', 'egos' or 'personae'. the confusion between essential
monadic identity substance (e.g. egos, souls, atmans, whatever) 
and dispensable, erodable, perhaps completely eradicable objects
of personal interface (for communication, as you say) introduces
some remarkable hurdles into the conversation amongst mystics
and the psychologically-inclined. terms sometimes cross and one
person asserts that what someone else interprets as an essential
is valuably escaped, evaded, or entirely destroyed.

# If it is possible then I would like to give up this 
# ego thing permanently and in this life - never to 
# regrow another.

some mystics say they've done this. characteristics attributed
to such individuals vary, but typically it takes the form 
of there being no observed identifying, personal object, 
no 'self' that might become guarded, protected, or whose 
desires and values are pursued in everyday affairs.
# For all that I know that this ego is illusion, like all 
# else - this is much harder than attaining Satori.

the equation of "illusion" with things is confusing. there
appear to me to be levels of concreteness, contrariwise:
materialization in duration and through repeated principles
(enduring objects of perception and natural laws respectively) 
seem to make up one part of a spectrum of endurableness, 
whilst essential dimensions or entities (e.g. Spirit, nondual 
continua) make up another. comparatively, the strictly
figmentary or imaginary elements of subjective consciousness
are often described as 'mirages', 'illusions' or 'delusions'
might compare with the roiling, bubbling Cauldron of change
surrounding massive concentrations of energy (such as may be
found near to stars, especially as they become more unwieldy
and explode and then contract into Black Holes).

where does 'ego' lie in all that? personally, I find that
the 'everything is illusory' radical Nihilism of pseudo-
philosophers is unconvincing and not helpful to my work.
where it may inform some truth of epistemology (and the
impossibility of coming to be certain of anything), it is
not ultimately doing more than denying my apprehension.

'84 ways to give up your ego' strikes me as more aligned
with theory and mysticism identifying 'ego' as something
from which one might distance oneself, becoming only
loosely-affiliated, subjectively, with self-images, and
possibly generating numerous such vehicles as correlates
of 'programs' or 'characters' to achieve different aims.

where ego gets in the way is the real issue, and some kind
of description of how this occurs and why dispensing with
any ego (/persona) will be of value to the individual ought
form the basis of any mysticism which espouses its value.

# If anyone has any ideas I would sincerely appreciate 
# them....

a study of psychological models may be valuable here. some
of them identify ego as especially important not only to
the development of personality and expansion toward real
mystical success, but would find the concept of 'destroying
the ego' to be exactly *contrary* to any rational aims, even
where these psychological approaches admit of a mysticism.

on the other hand, there are theses which describe practical
means to *efface and control or strongly influence the
redevelopment of* the ego, primarily through means that are
at times sociologically controversial: sex, drugs, music,
and the like. an example here is the writing by one Robert
K. Moffett, whose "Tantric Sex" includes a wide variety of
considerations about what he calls 'ego-dissolution'. his
expressions are applicable not only to a variety of mystico-
religious perspectives, but touch on a subject that modern 
Hermetics of the Thelemic variety have found rather compelling 
-- neo-tantric and hedonistic ego-dissolution. to wit:

	The wood of the Cross had barely weathered
	before the prophets of Christian ego-dissolution-
	through-sex were at work spreading their
	perniciously attractive doctrine. Little more
	than sixty years after Christ's birth, Paul was
	writing in alarm to one of the new congregations,

		See to it that no one makes prey of
		you by philosophy and empty deceit,
		according to human tradition, according
		to the elemental spirits of the
		universe, and not according to Christ....
		Let no one disqualify you ... taking his
		stand on visions, puffed up by his
		sensuous mind.... Put to death therefore
		what is earthly in you: immorality,
		impurity, passion, evil desire....

	An intriguing set of clues and it isn't difficult,
	even so far removed in time, to figure out what
	the culprits were preaching: the heresy of
	gnosticism. *Gnosis* means, literally "knowledge"
	and the Gnostics emphasized personal, experiential
	revelation as the route to salvation; 
	ego-dissolution, in other words.

	Gnosticism, both Christian and pagan, drew on a
	variety of sources, including Greek philosophy,
	which accords with Paul's charges. Among the other
	influences were Jewish cabalism, heavy with
	mysticism and surprisingly partial to Woman; the
	orgiastic Hellenistic mystery cults; Iranian
	Manichaeanism, with its dualist cosmic struggle
	between forces of Good and Evil ("elemental spirits
	of the universe"); and Babylonian and Egyptian
	mythology. With so many fruitful possibilities to
	choose from, gnosticism came to loosely embrace an
	incredible variety of often quite contradictory
	dogmas. The majority stressed asceticism, rigidly
	rejecting all concerns of the flesh.


	Everything indicates that [Paul's] wayward children
	were playing with one of the several Gnostic sects
	that interpreted Christ's message in its most
	literal, ego-dissolving sense. Their confusion
	centered around the Christian Agape, the love feast
	best remembered as the Last Supper. There's no
	reason to think they were anything but perfectly
	sincere in their interpretation of its meaning. The
	resemblances between the Agape and the matriarchal
	cults' rites were too unmistakable not to have
	been noticed.


	...Clement of Alexandria, the Church's resident
	agent, was particularly incensed that their love
	feasts included both sexes. He knew what *that*
	was bound to lead to -- and he was quite right.

	A best description of a Gnostic variant on the
	Christian Agape comes from another Church father,
	describing the rites of a sect called the

		They serve up lavish helpings of meat
		and wine, even if they are poor. Then,
		when they have had their drinking-party
		and so to speak filled their veins to
		satiety, they give themselves over to
		passion.... The husband withdraws from
		his wife, and says {to her}: 'Rise up,
		make love with the brother.' When they
		have had intercourse out of the passion
		of fornication, then, holding up their
		own blasphemy before heaven, the woman
		and the man take the man's emission in
		their own hands, and stand there
		looking up toward heaven. And while
		they have uncleanliness in their hands
		they pray ... offering the natural
		Father of the Universe that which is
		in their hands, and saying 'We offer
		thee this gift, the body of Christ.'
		And so they eat it, partaking of their
		own shame and saying, 'This is the body
		of Christ, and this is the Passover;
		hence our bodies are given over to
		passion and compelled to confess the
		passion of Christ.' Similarly with the
		woman's emission at her period, they
		collect the menstrual blood which is
		unclean, take it and eat it together,
		and say, 'This is the blood of Christ.'
		...And while they have intercourse with
		each other they forbid the bearing of
		children. For this shameful conduct is
		pursued by them not for the bearing of
		children but for the sake of pleasure....

	Fifteen hundred years before Abbe Dubois! And
	Christians, not benighted Eastern heathens. There
	were, quite obviously, those who saw in Christ's
	words meanings startlingly different from what
	has been passed down to us. This vein in
	Christianity by no means ends here.
	"Tantric Sex", Robert K. Moffett, 
	 Berkeley Medallion Books, 1974; 62-64.

Moffett goes on to give many other incidences of similar
practices and cosmological underpinnings surrounding what
he feels is identifiable in parallel with what in tantric
practice is called the 'Ritual of Five Ms' (these "Ms" being
psychoactive and/or taboo (inverso-)sacraments which can,
when integrated in a controlled and intentional manner,
inspire the experience of ego-dissolution. of these taboos
is sex, and particularly sex outside the bounds of society.

he's not talking about the destruction of ego here, but
he *is* talking about its dissolution in the pursuit of at 
least temporary ecstasy and mystical states. it may be that 
ego DESTRUCTION as is sometimes recommended in occult circles
is merely the extreme impulse toward this eventual result, 
one which is by the actual pracitioners carried forth via 
*hedonistic* trajectories. 

that is, where it is very true that asceticism directly 
contradicts egoistic impulses, these tend to SIMULTANEOUSLY 
DEBILITATE PHYSICALITY. the ascetic yogis need a substratum
of society to feed and tend to them while they supposedly
attain to unusual states of consciousness by their 
endeavours. the neo-tantric pursuit of ego-dissolution, 
by contrast, might be said to temporarily suspend or
dissolve the interface boundary or barrier with the world 
(the 'persona' if you will) which intervenes through 
physical sensation and perceptual interpretation of 
that bodily sense data in communication with others. 

this sensomystical objective is one that I've noticed many
sex magicians pursue, and what they sometimes call gnostic 
masses may be conducive to ecstatic states where operating 
without an *observable ego* might be practiced during 
ceremonials, ideally carried into the rest of one's life.

it seems important to me to avoid the possibly mistaken
conclusion that because an observer can perceive no evidence
of ego that this is somehow proof that it has been destroyed.
occultists may grow adept at *concealing* egotistic expression,
for example, or even hide ego from anyone's observation. what
may really happen is that the ego transforms into something
altogether unrecognizable in a complex with the rest of one's
internal elements, however this might be seen by psychologists.


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