Trump World Grab-Bag--A Collection

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Time and Experience

From time to time, regular commenter Formerly Amherst and I go a little off-topic from my usual politics commentary due to our shared interests in religion and folklore. Sometimes these conversations get pretty deep in the esoteric, but I admit, for my part, I think there's educational value for anyone, spiritualist or not. In an earlier post, the subject of time and evil came up. The topic of evil as such isn't out of place on a blog that occasionally deals with human miseries like war, murder, torture, and rape. The relationship of the moral concept of evil is entirely necessary in some ways to making sense of history. I think that different cultures have had different perspectives on the externality of the existence of evil versus the "devil within", but a common strand is causality: people beget actions that beget consequences that produce suffering.

This is a linear way of looking at the experience of time. Wrongs accumulate. Historically, we sit astride a mount of blame and are headed for a wall of guilt.

There's another way of looking at it, though. Satayana said those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it; Faulkner said that "the past is never dead--it's not even past." In some ways, the perception of linear time, both as an individual, and as to the accretions of history, aren't really valid. Humans seem to make the same mistakes over and over because our perceptions are very limited. And our perception of linear time itself? 


There is reason to dispute the existence of linear time. Relativity, I think, put the bung in that one, for the science-minded. If the measure of time is relative to the position of the observer, then consider the astronomer viewing a star collapsing light years away that must have occurred centuries before, but he or she could only experience now? The concept of "now" becomes a bit fluid, then. Instead of viewing time like Zeno's arrow, with its points of flight all in a row, it might be more appropriate to see all activity as more like plots on a grid (or like Indra's net of jewels) with each point referencing forwards, backwards, and laterally in time/space.

This concept is new-ish as physics concepts go, but in the mythology of antiquity, the connection between yesterday, today, and tomorrow as being all one thing doesn't seem to have been novel, at all. The Greek goddess Hekate, who dealt with magic and paths and doorways and new beginnings, was sometimes depicted as a maid, a mother, and a crone--occupying different life stages at once. The Roman god Janus had one face to the past, and one face to the future. The Akeru lions of Egypt also faced to the future and the past, and in the Book of the Dead, it is written: I am Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow, I have the Power to be Reborn..."

The eastern concept is less linear, still. The Wheel of Dharma is depicted as a cycle. The stillest part of a wheel is the axle. In meditation, sometimes I imagine being the axle--the fixed point within the wheel, able to view reality along each spoke. That fixed point is where one might be at any point (whether it be in a selva oscura or day 39 in the wilderness or a convenient three day weekend--you know, in media res) where you just look around and get perspective on all the things. Sometimes one can get outside of oneself that way.

With that thought, then, I think I have a good intro for Formerly Amherst to pick up.

12 comments:

Formerly Amherst said...

Hi Vixen, my goodness -- I never expected a billboard announcing my presence like an advertising agency advertising an Otto Preminger movie. I'm humbled by your post and also gratified at how wise your counsel is in regard to the subject we will be writing about.

Harkening back to phase 1, I want to say that Bob would very much approve of your comments and would completely agree that the Aeons are very similar, if not identical, to the concept of yugas. And of course you know how much Bob appreciated Uncle Aleister and the 93rd current.

I also appreciate the way the procession of the yugas as a definition of movement through time struck you as satisfactory. I believe this is because it is a deep note that resonated with something personally intuitive.

And your appreciation of the cycles of yugas fits in very much with your discussion in this post:
"The eastern concept is less linear, still. The Wheel of Dharma is depicted as a cycle. The stillest part of a wheel is the axle. In meditation, sometimes I imagine being the axle--the fixed point within the wheel, able to view reality along each spoke. That fixed point is where one might be at any point (whether it be in a selva oscura or day 39 in the wilderness or a convenient three day weekend--you know, in media res) where you just look around and get perspective on all the things. Sometimes one can get outside of oneself that way."

The center of the wheel in comparative religions is called the Axis Mundi, the "center of the world." The center of the world connects heaven to earth, the earth called Ompalis, the "world navel." This is symbolized all over the world in different forms and fashions, by the center pole in Native American tepees, by various poles in ancient temples, and various legends like Jacob's ladder. In the Traditional religions there was an attempt to carry out in architectural design and in legends and tales a mirror of cosmology. An attempt to mirror on earth that which is in eternity. And so the Axis Mundi was a physical symbol or representative of their highest Sacred understanding.

You can see that Vixen points this out to us and brings the concept into the idea of personal experience when one becomes, himself or herself, the center of the world in eternity and therefore outside of the procession of time.

Jean Shinoda Bolen, M.D., points out the connection that Vixen brings to us in terms that Jung discovered in analytic psychology:
"I think of Jung's circumambulation of the Self paralleling the Eastern mind's effort to be in relationship to the Tao. Think of consciousness circling around a center never being the same as the center, but being touched by the energy or divinity of it, as a planet circles the sun, warmed and illuminated by it -- and the image once more, is of the dance around the still point. 'At the still point of the turning world -- where our consciousness or the worldliness of the ego circles, turns, circumambulates -- or dances around the eternal, infinite, inexpressible, indescribable, centering, meaning-giving principle.' This center point in the center of the dance, is the Tao of the East and the Self of Jung's psychology. The Self is usually felt as an inner perception of a numinous center while the Tao -- by giving us of a awareness of an underlying oneness through which we are connected to everything in the universe – often seems to be outside of us.”

Formerly Amherst said...

So as you can see and as Vixen points out, who we ultimately are, the "Self,” is both psychologically within us and physically portrayed in various Traditional artifacts and symbols as well as conceptually in stories, legends, and philosophy.

Now this is meaningful because normally in the West we either think of time as something defined by science that leads us to a model where we started as human creatures 5 or 6 thousand years ago, and that is the beginning, or we think the biblical account of the fall takes place in what is called "in illo tempore" (in those days or once upon a time); and this is virtually the only part of our biblical message that comes from "in illo tempore."

The idea of the yugas or Aeons gives us a third way of thinking about the operation of time and our relationship to it that comes from dozens of different traditional cultures embodying their greatest wisdom and discoveries. And the more we find out about them, the smarter they seem, and the more sophisticated grasp they often display.

If you look back at my topic sentence in phase 1, you'll find I quoted Teilhard de Chardin: "Evil is inevitable in the course of a creation which develops within time." And I said that we did not have time to learn much, because our little flesh capsules last less than a hundred years.

However, in Traditional cultures as well as with near-death and out-of-body experiences the physical body is not the only vehicle of consciousness.

In fact we have various vehicles of consciousness on other levels, most entirely outside what we like to call the space-time continuum. And because they exist outside of time, the ability to shift our awareness from the physical body to one of these vehicles of consciousness outside of time frees us from being smack dab in the middle of vicissitudes with our noses stuck in it -- at least periodically.

Now I'm about to make a startling remark. When you observe things from the point of view of subtler vehicles of consciousness, we are not physical creatures now. For convenience, I will slide into the common vernacular when describing these vehicles in order to be better understood.

As Westerners we primarily live in the astral-mental body. This is the complex that involves thinking, feelings, emotions, cognition, and as you will observe, unless we are playing a sport or some other physical activity, our lives are lived in the vehicle of awareness committed to thinking and emotions.

Primitive cultures who till the fields all day or hunt animals live a lot closer to the physical world than even we do and their consciousness is more anchored in the physical world.

For us, we are spending most of our conscious life in various levels of awareness of the world around us, emotions, and conceptualization, and these are functions in the astral-mental region. Paradoxically, these functions are not physical functions. They in fact are already existing in a non-physical reference even while we are alive.

Furthermore, the Traditional understanding is that the entire way that this astral-mental complex has a relationship to the physical world is necessarily through the Nephesh or the pranamaya-koia (or the etheric double).

Formerly Amherst said...

The etheric double is that part of yourself that you feel when an elevator goes down and you feel your're rising up. It is the vehicle of vitality -- all the energy from food goes into this vehicle and all the energy coming down from higher levels also goes into this body. (The answer to what vampires really are and how they work lies here, but that's a different subject.)

The etheric is a semi-physical vehicle, and all of the perceptions drawn from the earth have to transition through this membrane in order to reach the astral-mental complex. Any directions, thought, or feeling from the astral-mental complex have to go through the Nephesh to be registered in the body's brain.

Certain drugs expel the etheric double to a certain extent and we lose consciousness. If the etheric double suddenly ceased to exist we would no longer have any connection to the physical world. There are some explanations for Alzheimer's disease that center on misbehavior by the etheric vehicle.

So this inadequate presentation is worth chewing on because to the extent one can discover the realities of these statements is the extent to which one realizes they are immortal and beyond time and space now. You don't have to wait to physically drop dead before you become immortal. You are immortal and the vehicle that you primarily live in is not directly connected to the physical world. I hope you can see the relevance of this.

Now the question will inevitably arise, if we are connected to this higher life, why doesn't anyone know it?? (You realize I'm not trying to prove anything here. That would be impossible, but if you have already gotten onto some of this knowledge then my statements may help you move forward into a deeper level of understanding which incidentally is the virtue of Binah... a spiritual quality).

Well, there is another dramatic glitch that our psycho-anatomy is designed around that makes it impossible for most of us to realize our higher awareness. In the East there is a kosa called the Manomaya-kosa, and it is substantially equivalent to the Qaballistic idea of the Ruach. In English we might refer to it as the mental body, even though it is really not a duplicate, as it is virtually without form, but where our consciousness feels the presence of being us without the untidy necessity of a conceptual vehicle.

Now this vehicle of consciousness actually lives in a higher, timeless realm. However, and here's the trick, it is entirely focused, tuned in, and turned around to be incessantly concerned with the doings of the annamaya-kosa, or what in the Qaballah is called the Guf, the physical body, even though it dwells in the levels of the angels. Its nose is stuck in the world of politics, fast cars, fast women, easier ways to kill each other. You know, all those important things.

Joseph Campbell puts it this way: "But the manamaya-kosa, the mental sheath, is attached to the sufferings and pleasures of the food sheath. And so it thinks, 'Is life worth living?' Or as Joyce asks (in Finnegan's Wake), 'Was liffe worth leaving?'

Just think: the grass grows. Out of the bliss sheath (anandamaya-kosa) comes the wisdom sheath and the grass grows. Then every two weeks someone comes along with a lawn mower and cuts the grass down. Suppose the grass were just to think, ah shucks, what's all this fuss about? I quit?

That's mental sheath stuff. You know, that impulse: life is painful; how could a good god create a world with all of this in it? That is thinking in terms of good and evil, light and dark -- pairs of opposites. The wisdom sheath doesn't know about pairs of opposites. The bliss sheath doesn't know aobut pairs of opposites. The bliss sheath contains all opposites. The wisdom sheath is just coming right up out of it, and it turns into pairs of opposites later on."

Formerly Amherst said...

Now when we come to the Western tradition, Denning and Phillips in their 4th volume of the Magical Philosphy series (both were chiefs in the Order of the Sacred Words, also called Ordo Aurum Solis, founded in 1897) state:
"Neither can the Ruach-consciousness be aware, while in its primal state, of the world of Briah, even though that world is properly its own habitation. This is the fundamental paradox of human nature. The Ruach's awareness of the astral world is gained by its contacts with the Nephesh substance: its awareness of the material world is gained by its contact with the physical body through the link of the Nephesh: but at the Briatic level the Nephesh neither is present nor can normally avail. Until the attainment of Briatic consciousness, which is one consequence of the descent of the Intuitive Mind, the Ruach remains 'turned inward' at the Briatic level, although it is 'turned outward' through the Nephesh as regards the Yetziratic and Assiatic worlds. (The Intuitive Mind can occasionally communicate through the Nephesh, as in the case of rare premonitions, and also in the case of dreams of archetypal images: but these occurrences cannot be considered as the norm.)

For the discerning and educated reader, there is quite a lot here to chew on and to consider to what extent this can offer itself as an extension into deeper knowledge.

For the more casual reader, the two big bullet points are first, because of the way the psycho-anatomy is arranged, we are already wandering around as living vehicles of consciousness that transcend time and space. We just don't know it.

And the other bullet point is that at a certain stage in the hierarchy of psycho-anatomy, the vehicle of consciousness that we operate in is unaware of its own level like a fish being unaware of water and it's consumed with physical life. If it would just become aware of the world in which it lived, it would see that it is beyond physical life already.

I hope that this will serve as some sort of assistance to thinking about these matters, and of course I am always open to questions should anyone have them.

Vixen Strangely said...

Majisterial, sir. I wanted to give your post a place and not lose the previous posts, so I decided collecting them together was the best way to curate them so a reader wouldn't lose the context of the bigger conversation.

The unification of pairs of opposites seems to redound in wisdom schools of antiquity. The familiar Seal of Solomon represents the alchemical idea that fire and water are one. The Baphomet of Eliphas Levy is dually sexed. The "first shall be last and the last first" is a kind of statement of the same flavor.

When examining world religions, we sometimes come across the actual practice of yogis and shamans who transgress existing taboos because they find power within the act--they sleep in the charnel house, handle dung, eat meat within a vegetarian culture.

The Lakota people have a tradition of Heyokha, who is a sacred clown whose job is to express oppositions--the clown or jester or trickster spirit is a common theme of many traditions where satire is used to teach people to overcome their fears. These yogis, shamans and jesters are often associated with thunder.

Thunder is the rumble heard after (en)lightning. One of the finest expressions of thunder mind comes from the Nag Hammadi scrolls--"Thunder, perfect mind", which is full of paradoxes from the perspective of "Sophia" or Wisdom.

One of the aspects of the fixed point or Axis Mundi that has interested me is that it is sometimes associated with the Hieros Gamos or fixing of the spike. The Djed pillar of Osiris is a veiled reference to a different anatomical specimen. The point of the Maypole is easily understood, and the dislike of the patriarchal religions for Asherah trees probably speaks for itself.

But the Carnivale aspect of transgression, or performing acts beyond good and evil--are not 101 level courses in spirituality. The Fool in the tarot has a dog (a familiar of Hekate, as it happens) nipping at his heels as he starts on his journey with his staff (yes, or his lance, and isn't some of this a little sexist?) and the Fool reversed is pretty much embarking on a dumbass trip down a ravine.

Transgression beyond good and evil is for a practitioner who has already crossed the Abyss and reconciled the opposites. The iconoclast is the Hierophant reversed. S/he knows hirSelf and understands why and what s/he is about.

(I think my perspective might come across as a little bit LHP--but that, too, is a new-ish concept in western esoterica--and another kind of opposite to reconsider.)

Formerly Amherst said...

Hi Vixen, thank you for the compliment. However, I don't expect to be a Majister Templi anytime soon!

Well, opposites and the dynamics between them and their reconciliation is all a huge subject. Of course the most obvious opposites on the tree of life are the Pillar of Mercy and the Pillar of Severity. The Ruach Elohim (the breath of God, i.e., Prana) enters the system and flows down through one sephirah after another through the emanation of the Lightening Flash. This, the Ruach Elohim , is energy much in the way that Jung would define libido. More like the energy in physics than the Freudian libido.

This energy then creates a dynamic tension of opposites between the sephiroth on the two pillars. For exmple, between Mercy and Severity. However, this dynamic energy is reconciled (in a perfect world) by the Axis Mundi, the Middle Pillar, and the definiing point of this operation is in Tipareth, the mid-balance of the Tree where reconciliation of the opposites is turned into the experience of "beautiful harmony," the virtue of Tipareth.

The Tree is so full of opposites that it would be a huge post to try to list them. I will mention that Kether and Malkuth can be seen as opposites. It is said that Kether is too ephemeral to think about, and Malkuth being a receptacle of every universal force has too many forces to think about, so any good thinking is done in the middle of the Tree. I have to restrain myself from getting too incomprehensible.

In C.G. Jung's Lexicon, a Primer of Terms and Concepts, Daryl Sharp writes:
"Whatever attitude exists in the conscious mind, and whichever psychological function is dominant, the opposite is in the unconscious. This situation seldom precipitates a crisis in the first half of life. But for older people who reach an impasse, characterized by a one-sided conscious attitude and the blocked energy, it is necessary to bring to light psychic contents that have been repressed."

Sharp goes on to quote Jung: "The repressed content must be made conscious so as to produce a tension of opposites, without which no forward movement is possible. A conscious mind is on top, the shadow underneath, and just as high always longs for low and hot for cold, so all consciousness, perhaps without being aware of it, seeks its unconscious opposite, lacking which it is doomed to stagnation, congestion, and ossification. Life is borne only on the spark of opposites."

Energy from the Ruach Elohim flows into the system of opposites from above. And then it flows up with the serpent Nechushtan which is the flow of kundalini energy, and you will notice that the fire snake crosses every path. (Incidentally, Nechushtan is Ningishzida and in addition to reconciling opposites around the caduceus is the serpent who showed up in the garden of Eden and had been a consort of the goddess and thousand or so years before that.) So like Jung, the force of universal energy is total energy. By crossing every path every opposite must be reconciled and balanced into total harmony so the energy is not blocked or stalled. all of the stages of this energy are also discussed and pictured at length in Alchemy.

Yes, I realize that specifically in Tantra there is a practice of trying to like the stuff you don't like and eating the different forbidden fruits... today in our country it is hard to figure out what would be forbidden. I tell people that if you really want to fly in the face of convention today, you need to become a Republican and a Baptist and join the NRA. When the movies that are produced in the San Fernando Valley are legal and available on your computer for free, it gets difficult to figure precisely what is forbidden. (And I'm not a vegetarian anyway.)

Formerly Amherst said...

If a person manages to spend some time with consciousness shifted into a vehicle not bound by the limitations of time and space, that does not mean they are enlightened. It simply means they have found a way to avoid some vicissitudes by hanging around the higher stories of the building.

They are still generating karma and are still subject to that karma.

In the Western tradition you must be an Adeptus Exemptus to end the cycle of incarnations. (Reincarnation is what the exemptus is exempt from.) So at least the way we look at it someone who has crossed the abyss is an enormously rare and inconceivable holy person. (You know, when Christ said if you destroy this temple I will rebuild it in three days, he is regarded as specking form the level of MT.) The grades that exist in the supernal triad are almost always beyond having any physical presence in this world. The Neshamah can speak to the Ruach, and this is part of the descent of the Intuitive Mind. But the Ruach cannot from its own efforts achieve the level of the Neshamah.

Outside of all that, sociopathic personalities are strange creatures (i.e., those who have no feelings of morality and feel themselves to be above any demands from the rest of humanity). It is as if they do not have an astral body. It is as if they are actually incarnations of a lifestream that does not have a human precedent. Very peculiar.

Vixen Strangely said...

I have a sense that the "transgressive" yogic traditions probably skip a few steps, and use experiences as if to fake it until they make it to impress disciples. (I'm skeptical about the "dope and tail" end of New Age practice, even if it appealed to a younger me. You can rearrange your awareness of your physical vehicle's function on a particularly rocky roller coaster or extreme sport like climbing without subjecting your reputation and persona to the temptation of seriously bad ideas). (Photos of mountain-climbing Crowley vs dope Crowley are not so dramatically different because of age, even if they aren't necessarily captures of what his astral self was up to. Long story short--I don't recommend drugs. Not when booze is so plentiful, anyway.)

In Buddhist tradition, reaching nirvana is just a thing, but then, some people cross the abyss only to decide to reincarnate anyway for the liberation of all beings. I love this idea, only because I sometimes wonder if we aren't all boddhisatvas just being here for each other. Then I run into a personality fitting the sociopathic prototype, and am pretty sure the fallen are still are over the place.

The experience of rising kundalini interests me because in the West, we don't have a common idea of ch'i. I started meditation as an insomniac and hyper-curious teen and came to the conclusion part of our lack of connectedness and spirituality among modern folks in the west is body denial. You have to get aware of your own breath in your present vehicle, to understand the spirit of your long-term anima. You need to admit you're hungry, or thirsty, or have whatever impulses, and just deal with them. Both hedonism and asceticism miss the point --we have basic needs, but don't need to be basic. And we also don't need peaks even if they kind of feel great.

But our physical human experience is pretty awesome (in the old, not "Valley Girl" sense). We can experience out of body happiness and transcendent experiences intermittently once we become receptive to them. (I get that even suffering can be re-programmed but that is, yet again, not a 101 course in hedonic engineering.) Sometimes, the idea of exempting myself from an all-access pass to this vale of tears is unthinkable.

Being human is kind of neat. I've been doing it awhile, and don't mind it a lot.

Formerly Amherst said...

Hi Vixen, I appreciate your response and your good ideas.

You probably realize that the vow of the boddhisatva arrives from the point of view of Mahayana Buddhism. This strain of Buddhism is found in Japan and Tibet and parts of India.

Another strain of Buddhism, Theravada, completely insists that there is no boddhisatva or a vow of the boddhisatva. They are found in Cambodia, Vietnam, Burma, etc. They believe that the theological proposition that one decides not to enter nirvana until all sentient beings have is incorrect.

Theravadas believe that once the candle is blown out, that's it. There is not anything else of any sort. Once has necessarily completely terminated any personal aspect.

The theological argument exists with some reference to scriptures called the Big Basket and the Little Basket. And apparently it's possible to find examples of both.

From the Vedas, which is more my territory, is the concept of the Atman (and this is truer to my own experiences). And that is that once you discover what your individual nature truly is, you discover that it was none other than the universal nature all along.

This is very interesting. You lose every attribute, but you still feel that it is you.

Let's say a person is practicing candle concentration. They concentrate on this candle and they then can close their eyes and see the candle with great vividness, and they practice this for 10 or 20 years, and one day the candle goes away along with everything else.. everything disappears. And then they say yeah, but who's minding the store? It's all gone, but here I am. And that's the realization of the Atman.

If we are speaking of the Qaballah, it is the realization of Adam Kadmon. The Adam before the fall.

In the Qaballah is a vary practical system. You not only have to be aware of your presence in Malkuth (as you point out, body and breath and so on) but it extends to your economic life as well.

The Qaballah regards the attainment of sufficient material of goods to be a giver as a divine quality. You are able to mimic divinity since divinity is the ultimate bestower of everything that exists. And now here you are having become successful enough to do a little giving yourself. Well, the QBL says that you should protect this status at all costs. You should never give so much that you challenge your capacity to act as a giver. If you do, you are tossing away a quality that gave you the ability to act a little as a divine bestower yourself.

Back in the 60s I had a friend who was the business manager of Cessna. He was the only executive I knew who dropped out. He got into Buddhism and was trying to give away all of his belongings. I remember one night in a coffee shop him trying to decide who to give his Rolex to. I hope I helped cure him of that. (Have you ever met a Jewish girl who didn't want to marry a doctor?) He eventually started a business doing research on vitamins, minerals, and herbs and selling the same.

By the way, I do agree that on rare occasions an incarnation from the Supernal Triad can occur for avatars and great spirits doing missionary work.

About the tarot. In the old days, the Golden Dawn had an esoteric tarot which was secret. Naturally anything secret became a point of curiosity, and lots of esoteric types wanted to know the secret. So Waite, Case and a few others developed their own tarots using imagery that suggested the imagery of the Golden Dawn. Then an explosion of people doing creativity occurred, and everyone and their uncle decided to be artistic and do a taro
However now the original GD tarot has been published by several authors, so people no longer have to go to a substitute to discover what the real deal was all about.

Vixen Strangely said...

The Theravedic idea:

Theravadas believe that once the candle is blown out, that's it. There is not anything else of any sort. Once has necessarily completely terminated any personal aspect.

Is pretty much the atheist view. You are, then you aren't. Most people don't find it easy to grasp "not-being" or anatman. When people express, for instance, a preference for, say, burial or cremation, they still are supposing a connection with their material body in the way of ownership of it.

The idea of the differentiation of my consciousness from the Eternal Powers that might be always seems like a fact to me, in more or less the way linear time seems to me be narrischkeit. Having existed during some instance of time, my not-existing during some other bit of time seems unnatural. I don't know if this is just some weird flexing of my ego but I always kind of feel like my existence here, now, and then is not inseparable from things happening even outside of my lifespan.

Figuring out where my Will and the universe's intersect seems like it will always be rough-going for me. I never lose myself for very long. Where ever I go, there I am. I try to do more or less right things. In my spare time I argue with the government and think about justice. But my attention is idiosyncratic.

(Something, something, Perdurabo-- I seem to even lack original mottoes. But I have to think I have free will--what other choice is there? I also accept that serving my time on earth is yoked to trying to figure out why I'm here--which is why I fall back on social justice. Being a person, I'm either for people doing alright or I'm an ass. Smack my ass and call me Lucius, but I might as well keep being me. It's the actual least I can do. It's also probably the most.

Formerly Amherst said...

Hi Vixen, you always bring up such provocative points.

Let me just say a brief word about myself. In the esoteric world I am the rough equivalent of a graduate professor. My job is to be in relationship with some people who have made intellectual progress and esoteric accomplishment and are trying to figure out how to move to deeper levels of understanding and experience. So it is my natural predisposition to act in this role. I am told that working with me is rewarding and frustrating. Fun and disillusioning. I guess that in the end studies at Hogwarts are not entirely different than studies in an ordinary university where you both learn stuff and have old ideas challenges and occasionally discarded.

All of these theological systems, even Theravada ultimately are demonstrating that we are all immortal. Our presence is never lost, and our sense of self never disappears.

There are levels of consciousness that are beyond the possibility of a physical presence. The highest I know of the person's consciousness is like a wave in the ocean of divine bliss. Part of the time one is completely in the rapture of divine bliss, and then like the wave one is in periods of manifestation with the presence that can be interacted with others. And one eternally waxes and wanes back and and forth between the manifest and the unmanifest.

In refer to time, both The East and the West agree that human beings who have yet to realize the cosmic consciousness state have qualified free will.

The QBL instructs us that our personal free will is like someone in a canoe going down a river encountering a pile of rocks. Individually, we have free will in the way we get around the rocks. We can drag the canoe over them, we can drag the canoe around them, all of which is free will. However, the river and its direction are destined. This is why systems like astrology can be accurate to a point. The stars have set out the course of our river. Of course “the stars incline; they do not necessitate.”

Should a person through tremendous will power burst out of their own river, they actually can injure some of the subtler sheaths or inner bodies. Actually the esoteric view argues against some of these folks who claim that you can completely and inextricably change your life. Yes, you can change your life, but you also have a personal destiny.

Here is another Qaballah metaphor for time. It is said that life is like playing chess with a grand master. He can checkmate you any time he wishes, but sometimes he gives you a few moves.

I like social justice too, but of course in the larger sense our karma and our destiny are sort of determining our situation. Here's one of the ideas that disturb my students. The quickest way to be incarnated into a group or class is to hate them. If you hate Democrats, you will probably come back as a Democrat. There is a good possibility that many people whose destiny this time is the Black experience died in the 30s or 40s detesting Black people. So now they're receiving their karmic justice. Trying to have an impartial love for all people is practical as well as moral, but of course you still have to retain the ability to act if Geburah necessitates.

Formerly Amherst said...

Your post about Bill Cosby on your other blog urges me to say something else. Some Zen roshis have come to the US and gotten in trouble because of sexual abuse. Swami Rama, who started the Himalayan Institute, and who literally stopped his heart under test conditions at Menninger Clinic, was accused of multiple sexual offenses back when Yoga Journal broke the story.

How can this be? Well, the thing that many Westerners don't get is that back home the Zen roshi was just a seminarian going through his training, someone who probably can't get a date. Getting to be an abbot in a monastery is a pretty plush assignment.

Then the roshi comes to the US and suddenly beautiful women who would never have looked at him twice are looking at him as God incarnate when back home he would just be regarded as another preacher.

Swami Rama may be able to stop his heart, put himself into suspended animation, and demonstrate very real accomplishments in yoga, but apparently it did not prepare him for the onslaught of hot chicks who wanted to get next to him any way they could.

Alexander Pope said a little learning is a dangerous thing. And you don't have to see these theological debates among Eastern religions as entirely different from theological debates in the West. The Catholic church has a lot of good ideas and crazy ideas, but you still have saints like St. Teresa of Avila and Father Pio. So there is no necessity to roll over and stick all 4 paws in the air because something is theologically asserted from the East.

In the Qaballah you will recall, the first virtue in the path is discrimination. Not love, not compassion, not universal generosity to all, but the ability to correctly parse, to discern the truth.