Tag Archives: illusion

Metaphysical People are somewhat Crazy

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Most metaphysical students I’ve met are somewhat crazy. The more materially oriented are also crazy, but their craziness is less complex, less sticky, less profound. The average man’s craziness does not blaze like a full moon. Perhaps I’m crazy to think thus, but if so there’s a bit more evidence for my case.

Most human crazy-making activity arises from negative emotions and lack of illuminated thought that would make better spiritual alignment possible. We learn to think, and if we are clear, focused, and orderly about it, we may begin to find our way out of the thought-maze, and learn to reject much that then shows itself to us as childish and impossible.

Clear thinking operates under the sunshine from our higher or spiritual nature. Then, our mind would not simply be intellect in the conventional sense, but a “mind of light.”

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Cults

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Definition of a Cult

Originally, the word “cult” suggested worship and was not pejorative.  In modern usage the word took on negative connotations.  The critical meaning of cult is, I believe, in part the result of the mental development of humanity, where the mind begins to see devotion in its glamorous or illusory expression.  Humanity turns toward the external, complicating the problem.   We humans, in this devotional cycle, become hero worshipers and sadly, often in the sense of idol worship. 

The pure devotion of the soul descends into the personality, becoming superficially ritualistic, superstitious, exaggerated, and exclusive–in other words, we become false and cultish.  Even the word “cult” itself is used in a cultish way, e.g. a cult is what we call the religious brainwashing down the street from where we receive our own religious brainwashing.  “Wash” is the apt term, because water is the symbol of emotionalism. 

Group-think is strong.  Reflecting on the list of attributes of cults, one might ask, “Are not most religions and new age movements cults?”  Have we not all struggled through life under the binding spell of one cult or another?”   We can look at this question in the light of useful concept:  degrees.  Applying it, we see there are not two categories:  “cult” and “not a cult.”  Rather we find that a great deal of human activity, particularly in the religious, metaphysical, and political fields, is cultish to some degree.  And the presence, to some degree, of one or a few cult-like attributes–and especially the less crucial ones–would not be justification for the strong label of “cult.”  As an exercise in critical thought, we could rate a given movement, assessing the prominence of each cultish tendency, on a ten-point scale.  

The Size and Age of Cults

Some definitions of “cult” relate the word to small groups, but it is not the smallness of the group that is determinative, but smallness of mind.  There is tendency to think of cults as relatively small groups or minor swirls of activity within human society but sometimes small groups can be closer to the truth than large ones.  So size is not always relevant to cult status–there are large and small cults, and very new and very ancient ones.   Society may perceive a cult as something always outside normal or established human society, but large and long established cults also exist as an accepted part of society, even while not recognized as such by most people.  Actually, numerous large cults are imbedded in the fabric of accepted society.  Some of these have benevolent and attractive aspects, but careful thought shows how the dark threads of cult consciousness are woven in with the brighter threads of high ideals and humanitarian endeavor. 

Assessing Gold and Fool’s Gold

There are individuals beyond us in the scale of development and insight.  There are always those to whom we can look for inspiration and those to whom we can offer our help, however large or small that gift may be.  But we should not try to shift responsibility for the course of our lives to a group or a leader.  We should not—to put it in psychological terms–expect a leader or group to take the place of the ideal parent or family that we never knew, while we assume the role of a dependent child.  There is nothing inherently wrong with the fact that we are at a relatively undeveloped state compared to some ahead of us on the path of life.  The problem arises when psychological immaturity, left over from an unfortunate early life, leads us to surrender ourselves to an individual or group, instead of using relationships as the catalysis for the evolution of thought, love, and divinity within us. 

A pseudo-teacher engages in a conscious or unconscious game of power, and is dependent on the weakness and worshipful attitude of followers.  That which is often most attractive to members of a group, a charismatic leader, tends often to encourage unhealthy dependency and hero-worship.  The development differential between a teacher and ourselves is an opportunity for an apprentice/master relation, and not an occasion for uncritical submission to authority.  Moreover, the Teacher and the Teaching are always as much within as outside us.  And it follows that without the inner teaching, the external is rendered a meaningless illusion.  It follows also that a good teacher is one who encourages competence and independence in us, so reducing the distance between pupil and teacher.  Such a relationship is the antithesis of cultism. 

Love, Desire, and Broken Hearts

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We do not want to confuse superficial emotions or sentiments with love and wisdom. Based on various emotions and sentiments we can act foolishly, but actual love is never foolish. Love can powerfully affect the emo­tions, but it is not an emotion—it is the transcendent light and power behind our best decisions. What I mean here by “love” is love-wisdom, a spiritual energy at the heart of everything. This heart is not sentimental, but fiery and wise.

It may satisfy our sentiments to always act sweetly, in ways that make our loved ones and us comfortable, or in ways that accede to someone’s desires. But this may or may not correspond to love and wisdom. A decision based on senti­ment, or imagined love, may just as likely bring eventual harm as help. For instance, although pseudo-love or sentiment may move us to give everything asked for, re­gardless of long-term effects, wisdom knows better. And wisdom knows when to be disagreeable, and when to use a “yes” or “no.” In love and wisdom we find a far-seeing vision that senses the right type and measure of giving.

If we look carefully we may discover that what we sometimes call “love” is not love at all. Instead, we have a desire for love and a desire to love. And we are willing to do all kinds of things to get others to see us as desirable and attractive. We love the im­age and the ideal of love, even when we are not quite sure what it all means. But this psychology is human rather than transcendental and is based on desire and sentiment rooted in self-interest. If we are honest with ourselves, we may discover that much of what we called “love” is really our self-inter­ested desires in disguise.

We see a good example of how emotion can work if we consider the semantics of a “broken heart.” What breaks is not love or the heart, but our persistent and intense desire. We want what we cannot have and cling to desire in the face of frustration until it ruins our emotional life. But such pain is at a self-centered emotional level and not the level of the soul or love. Our so-called broken heart is caused by our desire. Love is the cure and not the cause of a broken heart, and when we really love, and love more truly and broadly, our broken heart is healed.

The Deep Significance of Definitions as Arrows

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Often people imagine that a definition relates words to the world. But actually, a definition only relates words to other words—it is we who must, based on our experience, relate the words to the world. Definition is the substitution of words for other words, but it is experience that lets us to link words to the world. This is why experiences in common are the basis of communication, and why expanded consciousness is so vital to harmony and understanding.

A definition is only helpful when the words used link to our personal knowledge and experience. If we have an experience that relates to a word, then that word becomes like an arrow pointing to the experience. Where we have only the word, and lack a corresponding experience, that word remains like an arrow pointing to a question mark. We can, of course, also have in our minds a word-arrow that points to the wrong part of the world. What makes it “wrong?” It’s wrong because we are alone in our definition, so the mistaken word-arrow is useless and misleading as a means of communicating with others.

The practical value of reflecting on this is that it helps us understand something of what happens when we try and fail to communicate. And it also helps us think more clearly, because in so far as we use words when thinking, we can better understand what it is we are doing.

 

“A SONG of the rolling earth, and of words according,
Were you thinking that those were the words, those upright lines? Those curves, angles, dots?
No, those are not the words, the substantial words are in the ground and sea, They are in the air, they are in you.”

Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman

 

Some illumination exists in understanding when we have got hold of the words, but not that which the words point to. Our psychological condition in this respect is not always as clear and obvious as one might at first think. If it were, mutual understanding would be a far more widespread than it currently is.

The key is to be free of imprisonment in our own vocabularies.  

“Each man wrappeth his thought within his own egotism and calleth the brat a new name.”

The Case of Patience Worth, Prince, Walter Franklin

Double Maya

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Do the senses distort reality? It is more than that.  In a way, we live in double maya, and we could say our senses distort unreality rather than reality. On the surface of it, our senses put us in touch with maya—the external world. On to this maya, we project additional interpretative illusion. So, for instance, it might be said that we do not see things as they are—even physical things—but we project another layer of unreality upon them from our habit self. So we have unreality compounded by the dullness of our own perceptual habits-limitations.

There is book on the philosophy of drawing and painting titled, How to Draw what you See. The gist of this book is that people generally do not draw or paint well because they do not see what is in front of their eyes. Instead, they see a kind of stick-figure creation in their own minds and draw that. From this point of view, the ability to actually see more clearly what is right before our eyes would be a step toward the real—a kind of yoga of maya. I think though, that in truth, this yoga of maya moves toward real art, that is, it would shade over into subtler yogas because spirit and matter are an essential unity.

Someone says, ”Ancient wisdom states in different ways that we live in a world of maya, that our senses distort reality.” Yet we know spirit and matter are a unity, so we could also say the opposite that: “Ancient wisdom states in different ways that we live in a world of reality, and that our hyper-dimensional senses progressively reveal this reality.” This is a way of saying that the senses have multidimensional levels. It is only seeing or hearing or sensing in the most superficial way that is maya mirroring maya. To really see is to move inward or upward in graded steps, in other words, to be initiated into new revelations of what is present in consciousness and in the universe. We learn to see what has always been before our eyes, and also through that to deeper realms beyond.

“What was any art but a mold in which to imprison for a moment the shining, elusive element which is life itself.”

— Willa Cather

A Dead Person Musings

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I am a dead person; well, a relatively dead one. I know because there have been times when I was alive–the contrast between the two states is clear to me. Of course dead and alive are not really so binary. The world is full of the walking and talking dead. We all make our contributions to the litanies of the dead. What then is the rhetoric of the dead? It is the rhetoric of symbols larger than meaning where, like gray clouds, dense symbols obscure most of the light behind. All systems, religions, philosophies, all science, all are dead rhetoric if lacking spirit and a good motive. And while we are dead, all the good voices of past and future are likewise dead for us. But when we awaken to life, the best of past and future live in us.

Be wary of the words of dead people, be wary of me, and in this you affirm the primacy of spirit everywhere. In concert with my muses, I may occasionally flicker to life, the rest of the time you can ignore me without loss of much benefit.

Behind the Mirrors of Illusion

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My image in the mirror is illusion, another not-me. Light bounces from body to mirror to eye and mysteriously paints another not-me in the brain. I look down on this image and name it. The name is an unsatisfying apparition, and when I pass the name to you it remains a curious ghost. Yet behind the mirror, behind the image, behind the word, behind these into the vast heart of light, I see the foundation that makes all illusions visible.