Archive for the Wizard Quotes Category

Self-help: peons, paradise and panache…

Posted in Daoism, Happiness, health, love, Reality Bites, Relationships, Religion, self-help, tai chi, Ultimate Reality, Wizard Quotes, World of Emotions with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 3, 2009 by wizardsmoke

There are a lot of self-help guides and ideas floating around out there. Ways to become powerful, to become successful, confident, how to seize the day, etc. They’re mostly gibberish because they pitch no real skill. To address real problems of confidence takes practice in an area relating to the problem. How do you cease social anxiety? How do you take down violent criminals or fight off bullies? How do you talk to attractive men or women? How do you stand up to your boss? How do you find a soul-mate, a great teacher, or a great skill? How do you make a lot of money on the stock-market? How do you attain non-craving or non-attachment and ultimate supreme enlightenment?

The same way you do anything: you practice the necessary skill until it becomes normal. You do it until it is no longer an unusual thing, it becomes routine. So much crap in life, so much unnecessary mental suffering is really just people whining — people trying to avoid doing the grunt work. The grunt work is all there is! Civilization is built upon shitty jobs! When you fuck up — do it again! Do it again! Again! Again!!!!!

In fact, in life we should never expect any kind of perfection or success. Life is constant struggle, constant change — diamonds are mined from hard work, and nothing else. Any successful person, who did not have to do any hard work or hard practice to get to their position of influence or affluence, is worthless. They do not know what they are doing. They are the spoiled prince, the media heiress, the run-of-the-mill actor, the corrupt politician, the failed business tycoon; they are the true meaning of charlatan, poseur, parasite and liar. The depth of their ugliness is endless.

And so it is with everything. If you want the bigger returns, you need to put in more effort than other people.
This is why having competition amongst fellow students, friends and family can be a good thing. We are forced to practice and improve ourselves with our free time. Life’s rewards are the personal results of hard work. Too many people just sit on their asses watching mediocre television shows every night, while looking for love in the gutter (bars and clubs) on the weekends.

And not that anyone is ever satisfied by romantic love no matter how much they yearn for it. Every other person I meet who finds out I’m deep into Taiji or music, they immediately fire off some nonsense about how they really want to start learning that stuff. But almost none of them will ever start. Why? What do they want, free lessons? My approval? All a person needs to make life reasonably fulfilling is a couple of things rewarding practices to pass the time, things that you would hate yourself for not doing.

The worst thing I can imagine doing is taking some salaried job in a corporation, so that I can buy a house in a developed community and raise kids in a world I never fully comprehended in the first place. And yet, the irony is that this is the grunt work, the shitty job, of civilization. A lot of people try to fill their existential hole with sex, drugs, money, kids, status, power, religion, and a million other things. And they’re unsatisfied. They have nothing. Because there is nothing, but they only know that intellectually, not experientially. And so it goes on.

Learning multiple skills is essential to understanding the essence of metaphor. Metaphorical understanding and realization is valuable stuff, as Aristotle put it:

The greatest thing by far is to be a master of metaphor… it is also the sign of genius, since a good metaphor implies an intuitive perception of the similarity in dissimilars.

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Posted in Buddhism, meditation, Mysticism, Religion, Wizard Quotes on October 23, 2009 by wizardsmoke

From the mailbag…

Q: I finished reading hardcore zen and wanted to know what your meditation practices are and how seriously you take zen buddhism as far as a way to the truth.

Smoke: I read Hardcore Zen too. Brad Warner is a cool dude. I used to follow his blog a lot, he used to write more stuff on it before he was promoting his books. Zen seems pretty sweet, and I don’t believe any method is the best. Tibetan Buddhists seem to say theirs is the best more than most other Buddhist people do, because they have all this magical stuff in it that’s really similar to western Hermetics and occultism. But religions are all conspiracy theories on some level, haha!

But there is secret stuff in lots of lineages, branches of Chinese and Japanese Buddhism, Shintoism and Daoism, Yogic/Hindu traditions, as well as Christian and Jewish traditions. Basically they only teach “secret” higher level practices to the next generation of lineage holders — people they can ensure will maintain the tradition to the fullest quality. It’s easy to cheapen something by selling or giving it to everyone and thus no one will really maintain it for the right reasons.

I really like the Buddhist teachers Ajahn Chah, Thanissaro Bhikkhu (both Theravada), as well as Taisen Deshimaru, who was one of Brad Warner’s teachers’ senior classmates. Basically I think it’s a matter of finding the style that fits a person the best, and a good teacher. Like, if I were in a small town, I’d probably just try to find the best martial arts teacher regardless of style, but in a city I would find the MA that fit with my body/personality and find the best teacher within that.

In case you didn’t know already…

Posted in Magick, Mysticism, New Age Baloney, Occult, Ultimate Reality, Wizard Quotes with tags , , , on September 23, 2009 by wizardsmoke

“Magic is quite often mistaken for sorcery. At this point I shall briefly explain the difference between magic and sorcery. A true magician relies completely upon the universal laws; he knows their cause and effect and he works consciously with these powers, whereas the sorcerer avails himself of powers the origin of which he knows not at all, although he does know that this or that will occur when he sets this or that power into motion. But he has no idea as to any other context of these matters, because he lacks the knowledge of the universal laws. Even though he may have partial knowledge of one law or another, he does not know the analogous context of the universal laws, their effects, how they develop and how and where they prevail, because a sorcerer does not possess the necessary maturity.

In contrast, a true magician, one who does not want to descend to the level of a sorcerer, would never embark upon any endeavor until he thoroughly understands what he is doing. Even a sorcerer can make use of the secret sciences and do one thing or another with good or evil intentions. In this case, it is irrelevant whether he employs positive or negative powers, for it does not entitle him to consider himself a magician.

By way of contrast once again, a charlatan is a person who is trying to deceive other people, and therefore he cannot be considered either a magician or a sorcerer. In common parlance such a person would simply be called a fraud or a con man. Charlatans like to boast of their high magical knowledge, which of course they do not possess, and they like to veil themselves in mystery, but only to conceal their ignorance.

These are the people who are responsible for true magical knowledge being so distorted and disgraced. A true magician does not identify himself through mysterious behavior or external splendor; on the contrary, he is modest and he endeavors at all times to help humankind and to explain magical knowledge to mature human beings. In order not to disgrace this holy knowledge, it should be understandable that the magician will not entrust any of the Mysteries to an immature person. A true magician will never display his true magical knowledge by any external demeanor. A true magician cannot be distinguished from an average citizen, because he adapts to every person, to every occasion and to every situation. His magical authority is internal, and therefore it is not necessary for him to shine externally.”

Franz Bardon, intro to The Practice of Magical Evocation

Headaches 4 Free!

Posted in academia, Film, Storytelling, Technology, The Arts, The Media, Wizard Quotes with tags , on May 24, 2009 by wizardsmoke

Sorry if folks have been checking up on this blog and are disappointed (yeah right!) by the lack of frequent updates. Busy, blah blah, etc. I’m not abandoning this magical space yet, no sirree. But then again, would it hurt you guys so much to write once in a while? Axe me how I’m doing? Geez… what a guy got to do to get some internet love…

Ah-ha! But I conveniently have had time to post a few pseudo-theory heavy posts on this movie blog here. So why don’t you mosey on over and have a look-see? I’m sure the theory part will pique your fancy if you like any of the narcissistic jibberish I put up here…

Movies change our perceptions of life, by increasing our tendency to romanticize and idealize our lives, whether in the past, present or future. This is not new, or anything specific to movies, but we can be fairly certain that in recent decades industrial civilization has exposed its populace — through movies — to far more romantic narratives on a daily basis than any other group in history. The romantic depiction of a specific narrative leads the film to storytelling. Storytelling is literally a romantic narrative; it is an experience of individuality, projected upon others. As a result, everywhere one looks, one perceives an idealized narrative — a falsehood, created to sustain the illusion of a pristine, pleasurable or controllable existence — a fate with purpose — a destiny of sorts.

MM Film Theory

The Sound and the Fury

Posted in academia, Philosophy, Technology, Ultimate Reality, Wizard Quotes with tags , , , , on February 27, 2009 by wizardsmoke

Science is the analytical description, philosophy is synthetic interpretation. Science wishes to resolve the whole into parts, the organism into organs, the obscure into the known. It does not inquire into the values and ideal possibilities of things, nor into their total and final significance; it is content to show their present actuality and operation, it narrows its gaze resolutely to the nature and process of things as they are. The scientist is as impartial as Nature in Turgenev’s poem: he is as interested in the leg of a flea as in the creative throes of a genius. But the philosopher is not content to describe the fact; he wishes to ascertain its relation to experience in general, and thereby to get at its meaning and its worth; he combines things in interpretive synthesis; he tries to put together, better than before, that great universe-watch which the inquisitive scientist has analytically taken apart. Science tells us how to heal and how to kill; it reduces the death rate in retail and then kills us wholesale in war; but only wisdom — desire coordinated in the light of all experience — can tell us when to heal and when to kill. To observe processes and to construct means is science; to criticize and coordinate ends is philosophy: and because in these days our means and instruments have multiplied beyond our interpretation and synthesis of ideals and ends, our life is full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. For a fact is nothing except in relation to desire; it is not complete except in relation to a purpose and a whole. Science without philosophy, facts without perspective and valuation, cannot save us from havoc and despair. Science gives us knowledge, but only philosophy can give us wisdom.

–from the introduction to Will Durant’s The Story of Philosophy

Since this book was first published in the 1920s, I guess by “sound and fury” Willie D. was referring to crazy new inventions like the telegraph and jazz music. It’s kinda like when Dogen tells us not to be too enticed by pretty flowers — at the time it was a major distraction from the time one could be spending on (non)attaining nirvana, or exploring the superunknown.

Will was a funny guy — a fine writer, and full of interesting quirks. For example, in the first few lines of Chapter 1, he discounts 20th century Asia Minor as “quiet and apathetic,” and goes on to say that Socrates’ bust is so hideous, he looks more like a porter than a philosopher. ZOMG dude u r so judgmental!!1!

Cool book, though a little wordy. Durant wrote a bunch in this series, giving a chronological rundown in the major events of history, philosophy, great civilizations and thinkers, etc. They’re certainly better than the dime-a-dozen history books you can buy on Amazon on any subject and be absolutely mired in poor sources or a lack of inspiration (I’m looking at you Stephen Turnbull and Thomas Cleary).

Still, I cannot even begin to assess the can of worms that the quote above opened. Better to zip my lips. For once I’d like to write a post that doesn’t generate boatloads of hate mail.

Party-line agenda

Posted in Confucianism, Philosophy, Political Science, Religion, society, Wizard Quotes on December 18, 2008 by wizardsmoke

No real post here, but I’m still kickin’.

“Heaven’s decree is not the same for all… the gentleman understands this and does not try to force it [i.e., conformity to a specific norm or model]. In regard to perfecting their own talents, even the sages did not achieve complete success, and therefore they did not try to force it on others. Consequently, the idea that all men can achieve sagehood is false, and so is the idea that men’s natures can be changed.” –Ogyu Sorai; Gakusoku

And then…

“A person who can both understand and practice rites is a sage. Without rites, people would not know what to do with their hands and feet, or what they should look at or listen to…
…Rites do not distort feeling, nor do they simply embellish appearances; instead they promote natural regulation (shizen no setsu). Rites are thus the Way from which we cannot depart. The sagely Confucian teachings consist simply of rites and music.” –Yamaga Soko, Seiko Yoroku

Sounds exciting, but unless you’re a political despot, it’s not that helpful compared to the following:

“Whether sitting for long periods without lying down, or whether engaged in walking practices throughout the six divisions of the day, the vital breath (ki) must always be made to fill the cakra sphere (seirin), the lower field of cinnabar (tanden), between the navel and the loins. Even though one may be hemmed in by worldly cares or tied down by guests who require elaborate attention, the source of strength two inches below the navel must naturally be filled with the vital breath, and at no time may it be allowed to disperse. This area should be pendulous and well-rounded, somewhat like a new ball that has yet to be used. If a person is able to acquire this kind of breath concentration he can sit in meditation all day long without its ever tiring; he can recite the scriptures from morning to night without becoming worn out; he can write all day long without any trouble; he can talk all day without collapsing from fatigue. Even if he practices good works day after day, there will still be no indications of flagging; in fact, the capacity of his mind will gradually grow larger, and his vitality will always be strong. ”
–Hakuin, Orategama

Yet I wonder if Hakuin actually differs that much in belief and understanding from what the other dudes say. But then I always have to wonder whether religious people believe their own professed agendas or if they’re just saying it to soothe over people’s doubts, or maybe even for other malicious reasons.

And then you could ask the same of all political advisors, like the above guys, who probably had a lot of religious experience despite little positive attention to it in their writings, or Machiavelli — who didn’t actually try to rule people but gave ruthless tyrannical advice. Eventually you get around to thinking everyone has an ulterior motive and agenda and you become a conspiracy theorist.

Of course, by “you” I mean “me”.

Dogen said there’d be days like this…

Posted in Asceticism, Beauty, Buddhism, Cults, death, Monasticism, Mysticism, Religion, Ultimate Reality, Wizard Quotes with tags , , , , , , , , on October 27, 2008 by wizardsmoke

The flowers, although we love them
Fade and die;
The weeds, although we hate them
Grow and thrive

Dogen Zenji

As I said the other day, at the end of the path, religions are actually obscuring reality, or keeping us attached to the world of suffering. They become like fences in front of the final destination, fences which we can see through but are encouraged to climb over in order to reach paradise or whatever. Yet if we know what we’re doing, we can see reality without putting up a fence to climb.*

But really, I don’t think religions are so crazy. Because all cults are just manifestations of the desire for concrete meaning, the basic impulse for tangible deep understanding. This cyclical search for meaning is a fundamental, natural occurrence — which makes it some kind of mysterious truth or idea in of itself.

Anyway, some obvious facts that have to be realized with the body in order to mean a thing:

  • what’s happening now telegraphs what is happening in the future
  • people die, get injured, and get sick every moment; eventually it will be your turn
  • the simplest things that we take for granted are also often the most mysterious things in life

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*Wizard Smoke assumes no responsibility whatsoever for potential spiritual damages incurred by his advice