Thursday, July 29, 2010

Collecting Spuds

*(I try to post to my blog every four days. Sometimes I have a backlog of material just waiting to be shared with my readers. Such is the present state of affairs. The post below was not scheduled to be published until August 2. In light of RO’s post on the necessity of seeking the source of one’s problems I thought it very apropos to move this post up in time, as it carries much the same message. Two voices singing in harmony are more potent that one (especially in my case, since I can’t sing at all)).

Introductory Comments

Every now and then I get to peruse that huge file on my computer that contains all of the e-books, articles and other tidbits on magic(k) and mysticism I have collected from cyberspace over the years. The file is appropriately named “Magick.” During a recent tromp through Magic(k)land I came upon the short piece below and thought I would share it with my readers. Where it came from and who authored it are unknown to me. However, its birth predates August 14, 2006, as this is the date on which I saved the text to my Magick file. It is a conversation between a sage and his/her disciple. Since the term “tao” is used in the conversation I will assume that it is a conversation between a Taoist sage and some unidentified neophyte. However, the teaching presented by the sage is very much in accord with Buddhist teachings and may reflect the wisdom of a Chinese Buddhist master ( the term “tao” simply means “way” or “path” and may be applied to any spiritual pursuit). While the piece may certainly be a modern creation, its teaching would be, without a doubt, at home among the ancient teachings of Buddhism and Taoism alike. The sage’s teaching is clear: personal issues (problems, obstacles, personal demons, etc.) will never be resolved until one identifies and eradicates the apparatus that permits such issues to manifest in one’s life.

   A Sage and Disciple Discuss the Significance of Potato Collecting

Does your collection look like this?

One day, the sage gave the disciple an empty sack and a basket of potatoes. "Think of all the people who have done or said something against you in the recent past, especially those you cannot forgive. For each of them, inscribe the name on a potato and put it in the sack."

The disciple came up quite a few names, and soon his sack was heavy with potatoes.

"Carry the sack with you wherever you go for a week," said the sage. "We'll talk after that."

At first, the disciple thought nothing of it. Carrying the sack was not particularly difficult. But after a while, it became more of a burden. It sometimes got in the way, and it seemed to require more effort to carry as time went on, even though its weight remained the same.

After a few days, the sack began to smell. The carved potatoes gave off a ripe odor. Not only were they increasingly inconvenient to carry around, they were also becoming rather unpleasant.

Finally, the week was over. The sage summoned the disciple. "Any thoughts about all this?"

"Yes, Master," the disciple replied. "When we are unable to forgive others, we carry negative feelings with us everywhere, much like these potatoes. That negativity becomes a burden to us and, after a while, it festers."

"Yes, that is exactly what happens when one holds a grudge. So, how can we lighten the load?"

"We must strive to forgive."

"Forgiving someone is the equivalent of removing the corresponding potato from the sack. How many of your transgressors are you able to forgive?"

"I've thought about it quite a bit, Master," the disciple said. "It required much effort, but I have decided to forgive all of them."

"Very well, we can remove all the potatoes. Were there any more people who transgressed against you this last week?"

The disciple thought for a while and admitted there were. Then he felt panic when he realized his empty sack was about to get filled up again.

"Master," he asked, "if we continue like this, wouldn't there always be potatoes in the sack week after week?"

"Yes, as long as people speak or act against you in some way, you will always have potatoes."

"But Master, we can never control what others do. So what good is the Tao in this case?"

"We're not at the realm of the Tao yet. Everything we have talked about so far is the conventional approach to forgiveness. It is the same thing that many philosophies and most religions preach – we must constantly strive to forgive, for it is an important virtue. This is not the Tao because there is no striving in the Tao."

"Then what is the Tao, Master?"

"You can figure it out. If the potatoes are negative feelings, then what is the sack?"

"The sack is... that which allows me to hold on to the negativity. It is something within us that makes us dwell on feeling offended.... Ah, it is my inflated sense of self-importance."

"And what will happen if you let go of it?"

"Then... the things that people do or say against me no longer seem like such a major issue."

"In that case, you won't have any names to inscribe on potatoes. That means no more weight to carry around, and no more bad smells. The Tao of forgiveness is the conscious decision to not just to remove some potatoes... but to relinquish the entire sack."

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Banishing the Demon Retalitonis

Recently I have come to recognize the workings of a “demon” in my life. Where this “demon” came from and how it got its talons securely fastened to my astral and mental bodies are a mystery. But the whys and hows are really not important. Its presence in my life is not wanted and I WILL to be rid of it. While my awareness of its presence has diminished its power over me to a large degree, I still hear it whisper in my ear now and then. So, I plan to wage war with the damn thing and excise it from my life through a proper banishing (or series of banishings).

Below is a brief portrayal of the “demon.” It is undertaken in the hopes that it might be recognized should one be unfortunate enough to find it lurking within the shadows of one’s own life.

DEMON’S NAME: Retalitonis


DEMON’S SPHERE OF INFLUENCE: (Within the host) Retalitonis has power over the astral and mental bodies. (Targets external to the host) Retalitonis attacks its victim’s astral and mental bodies alike. Retalitonis is particularly strong within family dynamics.

DEMON’S ABILITIES: Retalitonis causes its host to strike back at an individual due to some perceived wrong. Typically this is made presentable to the host by dressing up the attack under the guise of “teaching the perpetrator a lesson.” The attack is further made palatable on account that the desire “to teach” is not initially seen as vindictive by the host. The host is tricked into believing that he/she is “waking the perpetrator up” and “showing the perpetrator the truth of the matter.” An argument that demonstrates the perpetrator’s folly in regards to the host is a vehicle especially favored by Retalitonis. Retalitonis takes secret delight in the thought that it just might be causing some mental anguish in the perpetrator due to such an argument. Perhaps the most insidious aspect of Retalitonis is its ability to cause emotional withdrawl between the host and the perpetrator alike.


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

My Holy Guardian Angel - The Comedian

In a recent impromptu session with my HGA (see my introductory comments about my HGA here), I asked if there was some sigil that I may be given to work with in order to facilitate our coming together. A very complex sigil started to manifest within my mind’s eye and I realized that I would never be able to commit it to memory. I asked my HGA if there might not be a simplified version of the sigil that I could work with. Immediately after my request the sigil started to morph into the shape you see below.

 The long thin cylindrical pipe-like object that protrudes from its base moved in and out as if it were spring loaded. I was quite puzzled by this. What was I being shown? And then I laughed out loud. It was an astral doorbell. My HGA suggested that I use it to announce my desire to make contact. She said this would make things quite easy for me. I never would have guessed that angels have a sense of humor, but there you have it.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Holy Guardian Angel or Angel of Deceit? -- My Conversation with Kalvin.

Without ritual or pomp and circumstance (I was reading Crowley’s Magick in Theory and Practice) I began an inner dialogue with a contender to the position of my Holy Guardian Angel (HGA). This “entity” identified itself by its “outer” name Kalvin. I had met this “entity” some time previously and assumed its name was Calvin (with a C). I was corrected. I also thought that Kalvin was more of a male “entity”, but I was corrected again. Kalvin informed me that it was beyond gender but preferred to be perceived as female. She told me my errors in regarding her were due my misguided initial assumptions. All I have to do is ASK HER! She informed me that she had indeed visited me in my dreams (one very special dream where she appeared as my double) and that she would reveal her "inner" name to me at a later date. She also let me know that she has been knocking on my door since the first time I called upon her some thirty years ago, but that I have been unable to “hear” her on account of my expectations for some type of physical manifestation.

Feeling it time to end my conversation, I tried to shut it down by engaging in shamata (concentration meditation). This proved difficult. Kalvin informed me that she was always available to me. The reason for our continued conversation was the result of my openness to her. She explained that this was one difference between herself and any “Helpful Deity” (HD) I might contact at a later date. A “Helpful Deity” could withdraw from me, whereas she could/would not. In other words, a conversation with her was a one way street. All I had to do to speak with her was to make sure my path to her was clear of obstructions.

LESSON LEARNED – Pay attention to my inner dialogues.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

True Will Revisited

True Will -

The concept postulates that each individual has a unique and incommensurable inherent nature (which is identical to their "destiny") that determines their proper course in life, that is the mode of action that unites their purest personal will with the postulated course that preexists for them in the universe.   -Thelemapedia

In this post I thought I would take a brief look at Crowley’s notion of True Will in light of my pursuit of becoming a college professor. If anything in my life could have been called my True Will, it would have been to be a college professor. I knew from an early age that this was what I was destined to be. I dreamed and breathed it. I thought about it, visualized it, planned for it and acted in ways to actualize it. Just as my goal was in reach, however, the fickle finger of fate pointed my life in another direction. While I believe that I managed to appear to handle this detour adequately outwardly, I clearly was suffering an existential crisis inwardly. Who was I? I had become no one. I had identified myself with being a professor (really more as a professor in-the-making) for so long that with the premature ending of my academic career I lost my identity and direction in life ( Is this what is supposed to happen when one is unable, for whatever reason, to actualize his/her True Will? What becomes of those whose True Will are denied them? Is such a thing even possible?).

Many years would pass before the devastating effects of this crisis began to recede within my psyche thereby permitting me to gain some much needed perspective on the situation (I am still working it through even today). One of the realizations that I have acquired of late is that I am and always have been MORE than a college professor. This got me thinking about my True Will. Does the fact that I recognize (in retrospect) that I am more than who I thought I was or who I thought I was to become discount my will to be a college professor as my True Will? This may very well be. Crowley warns about the self-deception that leads one to mistake a false “true will” for the real deal. If this is the case, how is one to distinguish between the false “true will” from the true “True Will” in cases where one is so sure of him or herself? (Maybe True Will or its false twin can only be determined retrospectively.)

While I am still dealing with many issues related to the fragmentation of my personality, one thing is becoming clear; namely, that if most of my life has been a pursuit of a false “true will” I still have time to find my real “True Will.”

(Disclaimer: I am not a Thelemite nor am I a Crowley expert. In fact, I find much of what Crowley has to say rather perplexing and convoluted. I might simply be misunderstanding the whole concept of True Will from the get-go.)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Gods and Devils: A Gift from an Ancient Buddhist Text.

Many moons ago God existed in my life. He was a fact, as true and real as one’s own hand held in front of the face (God has always been “male” for me. While at times He has appeared as an “it,” He never was able to become "the Mother" for me).

At some point later in my life, I came to believe in God. Furthermore, I came to realize that my belief was only one among many differing beliefs. At this juncture, a point in time now lost in the mist of forgotten youth, my search for God began. God was no longer a fact, but a belief that needed verification. While I still had belief or faith in God, I had no knowledge of God that would substantiate my belief.

When and where I lost my belief in God remains a mystery. One catalyst for my loss in belief was undoubtedly my liberal arts education. Through my studies of psychology, sociology, anthropology, philosophy and religious studies (et al), I came to view God more as a concept of human creation than as an actual separate entity that exists among the starry heavens. God became a relative concept. Mind you, I never became an atheist. I never denied God’s existence… belief was simply replaced with doubt. I doubted God’s existence, but I hoped that He did and continued my search as an agnostic.

Now, my doubt was never really a balanced doubt. It was a doubt towards the negative. It was what is known in Buddhist psychological literature as a “doubt not tending to the object” (don mi ‘gyur gyi the tshom). In other words, while I doubted Gods existence, I tended to lean towards the notion that He probably did not. It was certainly not a “doubt tending towards the object” (don ‘gyur gyi the tshom) where I doubted the existence of God yet fostered the notion that He probably did nor was it a balanced doubt (cha mnyam pa’i the tshom), a mediating doubt that had no additional perspective attached. I would continue my search as a negatively doubting agnostic.*

I continued for many years as a negatively doubting agnostic until one day I happened to be translating a Buddhist text in which Brahma(?) is rebuked for his ignorant assumption that he was the creator of all existence. The narrator of the text informs Brahma that he is merely one Brahma out of an endless line of Brahmas (this text takes the position that the gods are more like eternal archetypes that living beings participate in through reincarnation). It is pointed out that even though Brahma has the eyes of a god, there are some things that he does not see (like all the Brahmas before him) and thus comes to have a partial or incorrect view of reality. Now at first, this text simply demonstrated to me the relative nature of reality. It all depends upon perspective and perception. But later, the text gave me a gift that other disciplines failed to deliver. Brahma, even with his eyes, was incapable of seeing certain things. These things simply existed beyond what his eyes where capable of seeing. While he could not see them, they existed nonetheless. Like Brahma, my eyes are limited. They see only certain colors and shapes. They only perceive a spectrum of reality to which they are attuned. I came to see that, I may not have experienced God in the past simply because my senses were limited in their scope of operation. In fact, a whole host of gods and devils (NPEs) might exist just beyond the range of my senses. I had come to the conclusion that God may indeed exist after all. My negative doubt in God had been whisked away by this Buddhist text and replaced with a doubt that is more balanced in nature. Thanks to an ancient Buddhist text, God had become a real possibility again.

•(Those interested parties will find Lati Rinbochay and Elizabeth Napper’s Mind in Tibetan Buddhism a readable introduction to Buddhist psychological models of the mind.)

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Let's Do Some Blog Magic (Attention: this entry has uncharged encrypted content)

I have been rather intrigued by the notion of Internet magic so I thought I would give it a try. The experiment below is rather infantile compared to some of the stuff floating around in cyberspace, but a beginner must begin, well, at the beginning. Do not worry, the sigil below is extremely innocuous. I am simply asking to receive something of minor significance within the month of July, 2010. I have encrypted a date within the sigil below to prevent its activation at a later date by future readers (if there are any).

I ask your help in firing this sigil off. You can fire it with any method you prefer, but I would like you to consider trying a method I have devised and labeled "The Volumitus Method." The term Volumitus was formed by the combination of the Latin terms volucris (bird) and fremitus (humming). It is a crude attempt to mimic the English hummingbird. Why? Because when I was practicing the technique, the image of a hummingbird came to mind.

The Technique of The Volumitus Method:

Place your index fingers in your ears to plug them up. Breathe in deeply and begin to hum as you look at the sigil. The hum should be of a deep tone produced near the back of the throat, similar to the sound of Buddhist monks chanting the "m" sound at the end of "OM." Your humming should be a continuous sound. As you gaze at the sigil, just concentrate on the sound of the hum as it vibrates within your head. Keep producing this continuous hum for as long as you comfortably can. When you run out of breath and your hum stops, the sigil is fired. Turn your browser away from my blog and do whatever you like. Oh yeah, unplug your ears now.

I could explain the theory behind this technique, but my doing so might prevent some of you who do not buy into it from participating. Just do it! The technique does what it is intended to do.

After July has ended I will divulge my sigilized intention and comment on the effectiveness of this working.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Magic at Work

I am a very heady person and have been so for as long as I have been on this material plane. I tend to live in a world of thoughts/ideas as opposed to a world of feelings or physicality. Such is the plight of a Gemini, I guess. It is no surprise then that my chosen life’s work was within academia. During my many years of study within those hallowed halls of learning, I came to acquire a vast knowledge about traditions belonging to “the other.” On account of my intellectual curiosity and love for these traditions, I eventually fostered a sympathetic understanding that lead me to feel as though I was somewhat of an insider (i.e., a practitioner or "doer of"). I mean, heck, I knew more about most of those traditions than the millions who belonged to their ranks. Yet, despite my feeling of belonging to these traditions, my relationship with them was strictly cerebral. I learned and thought about them.

Recently, the line between the “thinker of” and the “doer of” was made very explicit to me at work thanks to my practice of a form of mental magic that I shall call “mental compartmentalization” (a form of mental magic outlined in Franz Bardon’s Initiation into Hermetics, though labeled differently.) This form of mental gymnastics involves the flushing out of one’s mind any thought unrelated to the work at hand. I soon discovered that I could not (perhaps “would not” would be better) follow this practice to the letter if I did not want to be an asshat to the many coworkers who enjoy my company and wish to pass the unbearable time at work with such important topics of discourse as “who is banging who?” and “how drunk did you get last night?”, not to mention the fact that for several hours every night I engage in no work at all being that my share of responsibilities has been completed. Kind of hard to keep your mind on the job when you’re not doing anything work related (I fill this time by reading books. I sure hope my boss does not read this blog!). The practice would have to be modified. I would apply “mental compartmentalization” when I am working (rather than at work) and not engaged in trivial discourse with my work mates.

What I discovered very quickly with this form of mental magic was that my mind was slipping into thoughts about magic. These thoughts would have to be expunged from my mind. But wait… I gasped. How would I make any progress in magic if I stopped thinking about it for the amount of time I am at work? This was simply unacceptable. But then it hit me! I could either think about magic or do magic by removing magic from my mind. I chose to do magic.