Archive for January, 2009

Verbal grapplage

Posted in academia, Buddhism, Christianity, Cults, death, martial arts, Mysticism, Philosophy, Reality Bites, Religion, society, Ultimate Reality with tags , , , , , , on January 29, 2009 by wizardsmoke

Although there might not be any ultimate goal or super high pinnacle, I do think there is a “great death” that one can undergo. How you get there beats the hell out of me, but I suspect it has to do with meditation. That’s my hunch. But then you could meditate on anything you want and not get there, so there must be some kind of specific instructions. Problem is, you’d need to make sure the person teaching you had already been “destroyed” by their awareness and experience, and it’s impossible to prove that empirically. Surprise!

I’ve known a few people who really loathe Christianity and all other religions. Their argument being that religions are the cause of mankind’s greatest evils (Crusades, Holocaust, etc). Any teenager will be glad to share their theory on this. And the logical response could simply be: (A) the evils committed under the influence of religion or religious differences were by people who did not follow the actual religious code (too literal, too loose), and therefore were not actually properly religious and (B) all organizations of all kinds are capable of, and have committed, some sinister practices. Religion is one of many such schemes, of which modern capitalism and consumer culture is quite similar.

Throwing away the idea of salvation, God, and everything else, it seems religion is just another way of socially separating groups and creating demographics; creating differences amongst people. People are separated from each other by their identifications, their labels, their distinctions. And you could attack any demographic of any type of linked assumed identities: sex, social strata, skin color, intelligence, religious association, athletic ability, the healthy, the technological saavy, those born with aggression and natural competitiveness, etc.

The first argument, that religious violence does not represent religion, is also very similar to the belief that systems of practice or belief, as well as tools, are neutral and devoid of moral principles in themselves — that it is the individual who decides the moral make-up of their systems and actions. I.e. the morality of guns, martial arts, religion, science and experimentation, is all explained by the individual approach and not the practice of the thing itself — that people do things for different reasons.

But if we say that the systems and tools of our civilization are neutral, but we set the moral grade, doesn’t that dismiss every practice? That means all large groups supposedly do not speak for the whole group should they behave in a socially unwholesome manner. And so it all comes back down to the politically correct mentality that we cannot make generalizations.

But everything is a generalization. Almost anything out of my mouth is a generalization. Or at the very least, an unscientifically provable assumption. The worst is when we describe a person. How can we do that without generalizing everything? We send off the thought processes of other people in wild directions because we cannot actually hone in a person’s “true” attributes and thusly convey them. The only true statement a person can make is a silent presence.

I do think that people make true statements all the time — statements true to their character. That is, the things we actually say, are not true. But anyway, my point was that social sciences are actually, at the end of the day, chopping stuff up in a very similar way as the actual physical sciences. No point — just more data to combine with lines of reasoning.

Don’t Tell Me!

Posted in Happiness, health, love, Magick, Mysticism, Philosophy, Reality Bites, Ultimate Reality, World of Emotions with tags , , , , , , , on January 23, 2009 by wizardsmoke

If love isn’t a choice, it isn’t love. Love is only special because it is directly in opposition to our best survival-based interests. And I don’t mean love as in sexual desire, because that’s the impulse to procreate. Love is compassion for other people who are actually a threat to our survival.

Thus spake the ‘Smoke on a dorky post to one of his goofy Google groups. Not that anyone paid any attention, but nor should they. People need to follow their hearts! Ha! but you didn’t hear it from me…

Anyway, one confusing issue is that there are no actual correct or right answers to anything. There is only more of the same in any given direction. In the famous scene from The Matrix (already looking so dated!), when Morpheus says that he can only show the door, but not open it for Neo, he’s implying the idea that only you can decide what you want to do. There are no universally correct answers, because you have to live with yourself and your decisions. It’s all relative. It’s like dating someone who alternately wants you to be their slave and boss. As long as we have someone telling us what to do or doing things for us, we won’t be satisfied.

But what is satisfaction anyway? It’s just the absence of craving in the mind. That’s why camping in the wilderness (if you can find it these days!) or periods of extended vacation or retreat are so nice. The environmental humming — the distractions — that the mind feeds on in our daily routine, it all fades away and the mind no longer has any garbage or junk food to cling to. Even if you aren’t actively seeking out some kind of deep meditative experience, you’ll begin to relax and rediscover forgotten memories.

In the entertaining book, North Toward Night, the writer/international sailor Alvah Simon spends a year by himself, living in his small sailboat, in the frozen Arctic passage between Canada and Greenland. During the winter, he finds himself in nearly 24-hour darkness for months. Sitting there in the dark with nothing to do except read a few books and eat, he describes how his memory and imagination grew incredibly strong and potent. And there is no mention of religious practices or meditation or other stuff so many people will often attribute to these psychological events (not to mention, the author’s interpretations of other events as magical or willed by God is pretty charmingly naive). He simply spent so much time on his own, without any other individuals (“social distortion”) to feed upon or supply his mind with choices or actions to mimic.

Actually, what’s so crazy is that our actions reflect our environments and surroundings and social spheres even if we consciously make an effort to resist being affected by them. But there’s no escape — it’s like advertising, you don’t consciously buy into the ads — they infiltrate your subconscious. But you can certainly chill out, see what’s going on around you, and choose what path to follow in best accordance with your desires.

Humanus Vampyrus

Posted in health, Magick, Mysticism, New Age Baloney, Occult, Reality Bites, society, World of Emotions with tags , , , , , , on January 20, 2009 by wizardsmoke

I remember I asked one gongfu teacher if he found that, after becoming accomplished at Taijiquan, he still was preyed upon by socially manipulative people, energy vampires, and so forth. His answer was, “less and less”. This, keep in mind, was the same dude with the weird energy powers I described before. Not like he could heal illnesses, but hey — I’ve always found bodily tension comes right before the onset of viral illness or a weakening immune system.

But what the hell is up with “energy vampires”? Who are these people? What is their problem? Oprah throws this term around a lot — “energy vampires”. So it’s pop-culture; play along even if you deem it baloney, empiricists. The truth is, most people (especially genuine schizo-crazy people) don’t realize that they are totally draining and “malicious” presences. I’ve had friends (even still do) who are completely draining on every possible level — total black holes of emotion — who manipulate you completely if you don’t have “space” from which to recognize, dodge, or deal with their maneuvers.

Being draining is not the same thing as simply being angry, either. For instance, I’ve found a lot of manipulative people actually get there through seriously deep depressions — like almost catatonic-level mental obsession. People who are obsessed with the weird, disgusting, reactionary aspects of existence. Depression is not really the right word for it, but an overwhelming obsession, or psychosis, with experiencing the macabre, the diseased and destructive. Not that there’s anything specifically “bad” about it.

I was talking to a friend the other day, discussing the development of serial killers, sociopaths and psychopaths. He was positing that so many disturbed individuals are led to their sadistic actions because they cannot intimately relate to anyone else. They feel isolated environmentally, but also have great difficulty relating to other human beings, let alone animals and other creatures or beings.

Many of us feel this way at certain periods in our lives — for instance, during serious bouts of depression, or after certain events have taken place — usually tragedies, major life changes or serious disasters. But these mental periods can be reflected upon and later be useful learning experiences. Someone who undergoes mental illness can often do so because they have been stuck in these mindsets for extremely lengthy periods, until such lines of thinking become the default way such individuals relate to the world at large. The inability to feel for others or to relate to them or care for them seems like a very hellish existence.

I actually found in my younger days (as if I were so old!), before I had lots of magical mental energy to spare (as if I had any now!), I was almost more sensitive at perceiving the emotional or energetic nature of most people I was around. But, because I was drained and depressed by default, I was pretty quickly influenced by or privy to the presence of other people. Nowadays, I understand what my teacher was saying, because as one develops space and energy in the mind over a long period of time, one is aware of the influence of others without being manipulated by it or attaching to such activity.

Wizard’s Blues

Posted in Future World, Political Science, Reality Bites, Relationships, sex, sex and violence, society, Stayin' Alive, The Arts with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 18, 2009 by wizardsmoke

Mammalian birth is a very strange act. As you become more aware of your body and organs, you realize that you were actually nurtured and born from a womb. All these organs were once physically attached to a mammalian mother. And those were attached to a mother as well, and so forth back into the earth itself.

Then when we’re born, we naturally attach to the attitudes and habits thrust upon us within our first environment. So, naturally, a child thinks everything a parent does is wise or worth following. But then you age and realize your parents are just people too. And then people you know start having kids and you realize that it doesn’t take any special qualifications to be a parent. The worst authority figures in the world, the most irresponsible people ever, will often become parents and have children who thusly admire them.

I guess that’s why child abuse is so disturbing, because children have such one-pointed needs to look up to someone. Strangely, there are different strands of child abuse. I sometimes think giving birth is an abusive act in general, especially considering the overpopulation issue these days, but hey — what can you do? Be a despot? Nah — too much competition in that field!

What shocks me is when people who have no curiosity about the world or anything at all. They grow up, get married young, never read many books, never pursue any personal interest, watch shitty movies, have kids and live off of their parents’ money or stay within some religious cult or group. For all purposes, they are completely isolated — like medieval villagers in the cyber-age. It doesn’t really matter to my life, so you’re probably wondering why I care about anyone else’s prerogatives, so long as they don’t directly effect me.

The truth is that eventually, when it all falls apart, will I have to step on other people? Will I have to be nice and let people walk all over me? It’s all fine when the economy is okay and there’s not that big of a problem when the economy is good. In fact, you could say economic output represents a nation’s self-esteem, well-being, directly tied to their “spiritual” concerns. I mean, who is generally into taking Yoga and martial arts super seriously? Upper-middle class people, for the most part (a generalization, and generalizations are bullshit, but hey). But when the money goes away, who really cares about lofty spiritual ideas and democracy?

There’s no need to worry about me, though. I don’t plan on being an evil jerk. And you know why: it’s because I’d rather die than live in a sick world, where there aren’t any tigers or bears but it’s overpopulated by people who use crappy computer stalking applications like Facebook.

I remember as a teenager, believing that stupid nonsense about ignorance being bliss, about intelligence alienating people, and so on. But now I think a lot of mental suffering is a choice (as opposed to physical/environmental suffering). I wouldn’t say people necessarily like suffering, because that implies that all of our behaviors are based on positive or negative choices in the psyche. Not true. People simply become obsessed with ideas to greater and lesser degrees (or not at all). That’s why when your friend is continually obsessed with the statistics and stories of serial killers, it’s a little creepy. It’s not like serial killers just decided to do bad things — they generally became obsessed with desires or exploring dangerous ideas that eventually possessed them to act it out.

So more and more I think that morals are naturally arising internal laws of group survival, whereas all obsessions are pretty equal of being just those: obsessions which lead to more of the same. In any case, I am worried because “democratic art” (capitalist media + culture) often ends up betraying a “weak spirit” — and what is art but the most direct reflection of cultural health?

No kool-aid for me, thanks

Posted in Christianity, Cults, Happiness, love, Reality Bites, Religion, society, Ultimate Reality, World of Emotions with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 12, 2009 by wizardsmoke

For some strange (albeit predictable) reason, religious nutballs are never content to keep to themselves. I mean, they do sometimes; but then they do crazy stuff that goes against national laws, like polygamy, or they infiltrate the government from their affluent, influential-yet-isolated temples. All the rest of us non-religious people supposedly envy their blind faith, which makes everything easy and happy for them. Except if that were the case (them being happy), why are they so dead-set on converting every last one of us non-believers?

It’s not like I could give two smokes about Atheism/Brights/materialists/empiricists and whosits either. I think those guys are possibly just as nuts. But the religious people — their logic just doesn’t add up (ha, big surprise!). They rarely come off as happy, just as pleasantly stoned or something. Which seems to be the marketing trend in convincing people you’re enlightened — act blissed out and stoned and smile with big groups of the kool-aid drinkers.

Crazy thing is how slick some of the religious evangelical-conversion types are at what they do. Some guy in a tie comes up and asks if he can help you move the table out of your apartment complex and the next thing you know you’re sitting in a Mormon Death Star, wondering whether you can get the magic underpants without paying the joiner’s fee (you can’t, and the Mormons are amusingly the closest to happy people I have had try to convert me).

The truth is, religious nutballs are just conspiracy theorists. And conspiracy theorists generally operate under the same set of principles, which are that they have the goods and nobody else does, especially not other conspiracy theorists. But here’s where it gets interesting: rather than shut up about this fact, or reside quietly and self-satisfied, they can’t shut up about it. They have to talk you and everyone else’s ear off about how they figured out this amazing truth that is so incredible, and they want to share it with you. They’re absolutely terrible at keeping a secret.

Aren’t they all like that? The Yogis/Yoginis, religious people, Illuminati conspiracy nuts, New Agers and 2012 people, Alcoholics Anonymous, political nerds, metaphysicists, Athiests, philosophers, psychedelic drug users, teenagers, people-who-read-the-news, and so forth. They cannot shut up. It is amazing, really.

It’s a lot like desperate romantic love. It’s this exciting thing that is cooked up in the mind and becomes this meaning for existence because it has been cooked up in the mind for so long, but in reality it (the person being fantasized about, or in this case, the religious delusion) is just another boring human being or boring fantasy.

The other thing is, religious/conspiracy people will absolutely not be satisfied by everyone chiming in with their story or tune. That’s not the romance of the whole shebang; the romance is found in the valiant, tragic, martyrdom of the lone wingnut preaching to a world that won’t hear of it. But they wouldn’t admit that for a second. Because they’re addicted to the chaos.

If you’re thinking I hate religions from all of this, you’re wrong. I think religious are just fine (or bad) like anything else. But one thing that interests me is what Thanissaro Bhikkhu said: when he went to teach English in Thailand after college and met his future Theravada Buddhist teacher (Ajahn Fuang?), unlike everyone else he had met in life, this guy seemed genuinely happy.

And that’s the clincher, the results of the adopted practice should genuinely be happiness. Not sudden explosive, placebo, faith-healing happiness, but genuine happiness that accumulates momentum over time. If the practice or religion does not produce this, if it is not reflected in the students of the practice/religion, why should I take any interest in it? Even if you smile or laugh or post pictures of yourself smiling and hugging everyone on your website, if you’re desperate to convert people to your way of thinking, you are not happy. And ironically (but not remotely surprisingly), the happiest people I have met were not peddling anything spiritual, nor were they trying to show everyone how happy they were.


Posted in Doom and Evil, Fighting, Happiness, love, Reality Bites, Relationships, sex and violence, society, Stayin' Alive, World of Emotions with tags , , , , , , , , on January 10, 2009 by wizardsmoke

The times in my adult life that I’ve actually cried were not from periods of grief, calamity, extended depression or “sadness”. No, I’ve often found that tears come in times of last-minute catharsis. Sure, you could say an excess of joy weeps, but I think it’s more like, reassurance in the face of impending despair. That is, the happy or joyous things that make me cry do so because I realize suddenly that they almost didn’t happen. Considering how much of life is rough around the edges, cold, lonely, prickly, and so forth — when something really nice happens it’s such a spiked contrast. Really horrible things, they simply rob a person of emotional output — they’re catatonic experiences.

Watching a film like Barefoot Gen makes me want to cry. Ah, I’m no stranger to sad or depressing movies; but Barefoot Gen is like if you combined the two Ghibli films, Grave of the Fireflies and My Neighbor Totoro — both totally heart-rending films — into one horrific account of the Hiroshima bomb blast.

Anyway, truly nice things and people are pretty rare. It takes a lot of strength to do things selflessly, being able to do good things without freezing up or letting oneself become drained or emotional. I admire people who can do that, even if I have trouble expressing it. But I wonder where this all contrasts with the necessities of the world today. Israel/Palestine, Russia/Georgia, US/Iraq, African genocides, indigenous peoples, etc. How nice can you be when you’re forced to choose loyalties between military powers or states or religious conflicts? People talk all big about principles and ethics and morals, but I think everyone fundamentally chooses their family and friends before ideologies.

I guess really nice people have no loyalties to anyone in particular, just a particular set of moral qualities. But that is directly threatening or at odds with nation-state laws. And that’s why some things are so tear-jerking — because they’re so rare. After all, to reign people in, to keep order and live in organized societies, we need brutal laws which punish people inappropriately to their actions.

Gematria: Spiritual Rubik’s Cube

Posted in Magick, Mysticism, Occult, Religion, Ultimate Reality with tags , , , , , , , , on January 8, 2009 by wizardsmoke

I’ve always admired the study of mathematics. It’s something I’ve never been very good at, but I understand the concepts behind it and I can see from experience how someone would be very good at it. Really skilled mathematicians can wield numbers in an almost intuitive fashion — they don’t need to rigorously think out equations and formulas. And as one delves deeper into math, various patterns appear, just as they do when one becomes deeply practiced in any thing.

This is pretty cool, no doubt. Math can be considered the most pure academic form of learning, but also one of the most useless, haha! No, really, I have a couple of friends who are math “experts”; studied the stuff in school. I love when they explain mathematical theory and physics to me, because the concepts alone are really cool to me, even if I can’t practice them myself.

On a related note — Kabbalistic Gematria practice is pretty crazy. Traditional Judaic Kabbalah initiation generally would take place for an individual in their middle ages, after years and years of Talmudic study. In other words, it was like an enlightening awareness to see the connection between the various branches of life experiences on the world tree and how they are interconnected systematically via numerical-alphabetic parallels and alignments.

The modern (magickal) notion that anyone can learn Kabbalah (“Qabbalah”) and gematria just for fun is pretty insane. I mean, sure, by all means people can study gematria if they want. I don’t mean to judge. I’ve looked into it myself. So let me say, man alive! That stuff will make your mind complicated like a rubik’s cube. Everytime I start reading through Crowley’s 777 it just makes me want to wash my hands; gotta wash my hands, wash ’em, wash ’em until they’re clean, wash ’em, wash ’em, gotta wash those hands!!! (it makes me OCD)

Uh, yeah. Though there are some less confusing books on the subject matter. I just don’t like to tackle such huge subjects when I’m already doing other crazy stuff on the side. So I am hesitant to say I will master kabbalic knowledge in this lifetime (oh, what? that doesn’t make ol’ smoke a traditional wizard?? yeah, right, pal!). I am pretty interested though, to see how someone who has deep meditation insights would also see connections in undergoing rigorous mathematical study. Would they be at all similar to the connections understood by adepts at studying the Kabbalah and gematria?

Though not a math genius by any stretch of the imagination, I did have a job in college where I managed books and prices in a book collector’s vast library. In just doing simple jobs like adding up prices and totaling values and appraising stuff, I started to see a bunch of neat patterns in how numbers add up. You know, the typical pseudo-mystical exponentially expanding insights into how everything repeats, “as above, so below” the old hermetic dictum.

I found it pretty cool, but it never made me really pursue any kind of gematria study or anything, even though magick has always been an interest of mine. The truth is, I don’t think I really want to do anything with those patterns. Sure, patterns are nice and make you feel special because you see them. But it doesn’t matter. I’d rather learn to move my energy through swords. Yeah!

Anyhow, no real point here. Numbers have cool patterns like anything else and you can learn to see them but ultimately don’t do anything with them. However, there are people who can. Just pick up some Franz Bardon some time, haha! I’m sure I’ll recant my horribly naive opinion at some point in the not-too-distant future, so watch for that.