Archive for new agers

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.

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Zen Fiction

Posted in Buddhism, Christianity, Cults, Monasticism, Occult, Religion, Ultimate Reality with tags , , , , , , , on October 14, 2008 by wizardsmoke

Ah, love or hate Brad Warner, the “reform” Zen master, I can give the man props for one primary element of his particular brand of Zen Buddhism: his denial of the existence of an ultimate being/teacher with superpowers. He routinely points out how there is no such thing as a religious superman or infallible leader. I think this is an idea that is overwhelmingly sparse in religion, even amongst Zen Buddhists.

A ha, of course there’s tons of stuff to disagree with Brad Warner about (his Zen Buddhism, like a lot of Zen Buddhism these days, seems watered down — but what do I know?). For example, he claims rebirth does not exist. Which is a major no-no with almost everyone else in Buddhism. And he writes for Suicide Girls, which is questionable, since SG has the potential of being a grimy business scheme.

Still, Brad was only a pretext to discussing religious infallibility, which he has conveniently written about on his most recent post. I know people are afraid of dismissing the idea of a superhuman. The problem is only when people fail to see how “super powers” are only the result of intense practice in any particular thing. It seems the “super” powers of realized minds are actually just the result of incredibly sensitive, mundane mental awareness. I do wish you could protect people from all cults by telling them no person is infallible, there is no superhuman state of existence, etc. But no, everything else sucks people in just as hard: sporting events, politics, romantic relationships, and so on. Still, if Brad is honest, I admire his intention to help people see cults for what they are.

I tend to see “magick” and the traditional occult sciences (astrology/divination, geomancy, Kabbalah, elemental magic) as having been misappropriated by “New Agers.” Most of these practices are considered bunk in the modern scientific world, but they hold esteem– at the very least– as cultural traditions which continue to operate, but as fringe novelty beliefs.

Some hermetic sciences are more like “internal sciences” or “theorems for experimentation with one’s inner mind.” And when people go mad in sorcery, it’s not all that different from a traditional religious teacher going nutso. Sorcerors, like all community leaders and organizers, often fall into the ideas of thinking they’re a god or an excessively powerful person. They think their ability to manipulate people is a sign of their intelligence (the basic tenet of Ayn Rand-ian “philosophy”).

But I think, without all the fancy esoteric dressing, the only honest “answer” to the average human’s need for salvation and deliverance from this world, is one which prescribes that the individual sit and only think of the present moment — the breath. It’s kinda hard to make a cult out of something so simple. Or is it?

Those things I’m wary of: certain kinds of Tibetan Buddhism; martial arts groups like the Bujinkan — I wonder if their dogmas aren’t just intentionally powerful illusions, meant to pull in initiates. Because this stuff totally happens in every religion in the world. So don’t you dare think you have the key while no one else does.

Delete Yourself (Part III)

Posted in Buddhism, Happiness, Mysticism, Philosophy, Reality Bites, Ultimate Reality, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on April 28, 2008 by wizardsmoke

There’s really no agreed upon point to existence. Not that existence is devoid of meaning, but there’s no complete consensus on what meaning is. Actually, it’s not like a concise point to anything could even exist; or that it would change anything if we knew what it was. For all we know, we’ve heard the real-deal meaning of existence a bajillion times in different mystical forms and it has made absolutely zero difference in our lives. But that’s an obvious point there, isn’t it?

In olden times, before technology and the human populace were so widespread and commonplace, life moved a lot slower. Communication took longer and people were not constantly multi-tasking. There was time to contemplate things, or rather, perceive things. Nowadays it seems like stuff has to be happening right in front of our eyes to seem like any progress is being made. Perhaps our thought patterns have changed with industrial lifestyles to scheme or analyze instead of praying or imagining. Who knows.

I actually consider attachment to our heavy thinking to be a result of not having enough time, that it comes from anxiety. I think the romantics and existentialists and so on didn’t necessarily think a whole lot more than anyone else, but their lives crossed a modicum of perception and awareness with a penchant for serious academic understanding crossed with new ethical progresses.

Modern technological life tends to make life physically easier on our bodies (even though intense mental work is supposed to be even more taxing on the body) and the average life span is longer. But this is also a side-effect of humanity’s tendency to hoard life. Materialism is a blatant symptom of the attempt to own and possess things, all of which are inherently devoid of a self in the ultimate sense. But whaddya gonna do? People search for answers in their own ways, and all humans across time have desired a solution or a way to ease the pain. Because… doesn’t pain get us all in the end?

One question of philosophy and religion: Is there a self or no self? A lot of people have some kind of awakening experience or read a bunch of Indian philosophy and then declare that “all is one”. But really, isn’t that still a sense of self? When we say all things are interdependent, that they’re all reflections of other actions, isn’t that more akin to the idea that all is zero? I get that impression from Thanissaro Bhikkhu’s talks and writings. He’s mentioned how people will attach themselves to the ecstatic feelings of union they encounter in meditative states. But that just results in a really huge, expansive sense of self. Not to mention, when people really dig on those experiences or talk about having them a lot, it just means they aren’t that experienced with them. Or they haven’t learned much from them. It’s like the folks who get really good at martial arts and then enjoy beating people up or asserting their power. They’re missing the point of the skill.

As one matures on the quest to destroy (or unroot) suffering, one begins to see formerly pleasurable actions as boring. It begins with the simpler things in life and progresses onto sensual cravings and so forth. One experiences the awareness that their end result is suffering. Again — these things are realized with the body, not intellectually.

But how is this insight into the suffering of activities different from the perspective of nihilism? After all, nihilism is a sense of boredom too, a sense of disenchantment. I think it really lies in the fact that a non-nihilistic person experiencing the fruits of realization will simply side-step boring or unwise activities without analyzing them very much or obsessing over activities before they happen, whereas the nihilist sits and is bored or exhausted by all things because they will not ultimately yield any permanent or satisfying results. The nihilist is enchanted by doubt and criticism, phases which we all go through from time to time.

But you know, it’s funny because when you do things without speculation upon them, they do yield lasting and permanent results in your life experience. It’s just not the visible, empirical, measurable activity portion which has that result — it’s your relationship to the activity and its effect upon your field of perception. I don’t really like science, but when I read a page about the theory of “bubble universes”, it made perfect sense within my intuitive sense of the cosmos. Of course universes appear and pop or shrink like bubbles. The cosmos is a mind stream. What a crazy dream is all is.

Which reminds me… about that non-dual “life is a dream” new-age stuff: It’s not wrong, it’s just that it doesn’t help anyone to tell us life is a dream. Not unless the philosophy is actually going to give us hints or a practice strategy as to how to get out of the dream or see it for ourselves. ‘Coz just brainwashing yourself with a mantra into thinking life is a dream is a pretty depressing way to live it out.

But then it is a dream on some level, just like everything I create flows away from me with its own existence. And from really high above, the dream looks gorgeous and beautiful. Kind of like how we look at a cityscape from high above. Up close, the city looks polluted and dirty, but from high above the grand scheme of it all can be seen. It’s not that the city does not still have problems, but it becomes a marvelous work of art.

Life is like that too, when seen from a distance. Even periods of depression or anger… they just look quaint or charming (and sometimes funny or sad) when we reflect on them later during disease or old age. Only the good times matter, right? Maybe that’s why even terrible people can delude themselves into thinking they lived as a good person. Who wants to cling onto the negative experiences or perceptions of a life?

Incredible, that even this whole universe is nothing but a single teardrop. Ultimately, “it will all be lost, like tears in rain.” That’s what is so bittersweet about this whole ordeal. When we desire some grand ultimate truth, or some profound and concrete meaning, or the secret to life, we’ve just got problems with our own ego. But you gotta do what you love, so if you love that…