Okay, time to get -somewhat- serious with spiritual practices and daily habits. I’m gonna proceed with the studies from the book Initiation into Hermetics. As a first step, let’s review the book “Preliminary Practice for Franz Bardon’s Initiation into Hermetics”.
So, the system of magic taught by Bardon is highly practical. Apparently, he also wrote his books to match the energies of the first Tarot cards. So, something like this?:
The Magician = Initiation into Hermetics The High Priestess = Practice of Magical Evocation The Empress = Key to the True Quabbalah
Swami Vivekananda: Raja Yoga, Jnana Yoga, Karma Yoga and Bhakti Yoga
Apart from this, make sure to read all the books in Bardon’s curriculum at least once, just a cursory reading, to get the basic idea of the entire system in your head.
Know what you do, why, and when. Create a plan to track your results, and include the exercises in your daily schedule. Make a daily schedule if you have none, and find a good way to keep track of it.
Venture into the unknown: Make an effort to keep exploring new places and people. Keep learning languages, and make it into a weekly habit (Duolingo, Graded Readers)
Will yourself into success: practice strengthening your willpower, and go jogging twice per week. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
Keep silent: the best results are not shared with others but become public through your good work.
Your personal dedication:
A small exercise to improve: press each one of the four element chakras as described:
Fire: Press the point between your eyebrows. That is the Ajna Chakra, to train your will
Air: Press the point in the middle of your forehead. To train your visionary intuition
Water: Press the point right below your hairline. To train your intuitive feeling
Earth: Press the crown area. To train your higher consciousness
Other techniques for balancing your soul: homeopathy, Bach flowers, Acupuncture, and Pranic healing. You can also do the chakra exercises using all the chakras in the body, either from the feet chakra to the crown or vice versa.
Jog twice per week
Read the book “The Inner Structure of Tai Chi” by Mantak Chia
Try to have a balanced diet, and include strengthening exercises in your routine.
This is your time, your opportunity. Don’t waste it!
Described as “An extraordinary story about Johanna’s involvement in the occult and how she learned to distinguish between the beautiful side of evil and the true way of the Lord” I must have seen this book mentioned in another book related to ghosts and the occult that I read recently, called The Siren Call of Hungry Ghosts. In that book, we read the story of a group of people who came into contact with discarnate entities -spirits- via a medium. The author of the book starts talking to a spirit that claims to be an old girlfriend that he had when, in a previous life, both lived in Greece. She knows many things about him, and she seems to really love him and knows exactly what to tell him to make him feel good. Soon, his real-life relationship with his girlfriend gets cast aside and he starts to develop a closer relationship with the spirit, which calls herself Philippa. He asks the spirits to give him more information about their past lives, and they happily do so. However, when he actually tries to verify some of those facts, it turns out that they are either incomplete or altogether fake. Then, the spirits turn sour. They come up with all kinds of explanations as to why he was unable to verify their claims. They get angry. He finds out that most, if not all, of the historical and geographical information Philippa has given him is wrong. Heartbroken, he decides not to even confront her, and instead he just distances himself from the spirit sessions.
On a similar line then, we find “The Beautiful Side of Evil“. Of a much more religious preachy nature, the book relates the story of a woman who was able to feel spirits and sense ghosts ever since she was a kid. As an adult, she enrolls as the helper of a Mexican spiritual healer, Pachita. At first, it seems like they are only helping people, providing healing where regular medicine can’t. However, when she starts to question the nature of hers and Pachita’s powers, the spirits seem displeased. She gets attacked, she suffers moments of mental instability and only the help of a devoted Christian community manages to save her from going insane. The last third of the book went a little bit too Christian for my liking, and the message is clear: accept Jesus as your savior or suffer the consequences. Nothing else is good, all spiritism is evil…and get this: EVEN DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS IS EVIL.
Yes, that’s right. Here are the relevant mentions:
I’ve lost count of how many individuals, even while under severe demonic bondage, have said to me, “Oh, but I’ve never been involved in the occult! I just played around with the Ouija board a few times!” (or astrology, or tea-leaf reading, or rod-and-pendulum, or Dungeons and Dragons, or seances, or palmistry, or tarot cards, etc.)
Ouija boards are sold in almost every toy store – frequently next to “Dungeons and Dragons,” a game which is occultic to the core, whatever its devotees may believe.
Putting aside the fact that no, Ouija boards are not sold in almost every toy store (I think I remember asking around in my city and never finding one), I found that statement to be extremely stupid. D&D is occultic to the core? How so? Because it takes place in a world of magic, wizards, and spells? I played D&D and other role-playing games with my friends, and I fail to see how they can be occultic. We never tried to talk to the dead, all we did was pretend like we were people who we weren’t. We were actors. Is acting occultic, then? This is the part of the book that just put me off. I absolutely despise most Christian denominations because they just blindly accept that their interpretation is the only one valid, their book is the only one that contains the truth, and they treat you as if you were ignorant, as if somehow you were the only one incapable of understanding those deep truths that they have received from God…only they did not receive anything from God. Human hands wrote the Bible. That’s the undeniable truth. Everything else is just our own addition.
So, personally, I enjoyed the first two-thirds of the book, but I really hated the last part. Whereas the author of “The Siren Call…” does actual research, and tries to verify the information he gets from the spirits, the author of “The Beautiful Side...” just meets up with some hardcore Christians that tell her that everything that’s not in the bible is literally satan, and that’s all. Both authors decided to stop interacting with these spirits when they realize that things aren’t as clear and clean as they were led to believe, but I prefer when people switch lanes for a real, valid reason. Going “I stopped having irrational faith on this thing, and started having irrational faith on this other thing“…just doesn’t cut it for me.
Overall: 3/5. Read it if you are curious about spirits, whether they are good or evil, and what plans they might have for the living, or even if you’re an occultist who wonders whether these practices are good for you or not. But don’t expect to find here much in terms of scientific explanations. It’s just “I saw this and that, and then I stopped working with spirits and started praying to Jesus Christ“. That’s the book, in a nutshell.
Far from being a short story, this is 150 pages of good Buddhism knowledge. Perhaps that’s nothing when you take into consideration the thousands of books and millions of pages of manuscripts, tantras, and sutras, so well, maybe it’s better not to complain about having to read a book that is actually shorter than 200 pages. I took those lines I highlighted while I was reading, and tried to put them together into something that could resemble a summary. But this is mostly intended to be a reminder of the book’s contents.
Violence has to be avoided
The self is responsible for all suffering
Death is an error that can be overcome
Old Buddhism is Hinayana. The second Buddhist period sees the rise of Mahayana. Finally, the third period with Tantra and Ch’an.
The First Five Hundred Years: 500 – 0 BC.
Monastic discipline (Vinaya) and Skandhaka, the document which contains some rules to regulate Buddhist life. The 250 rules of Pratimoksha, ecclesiastical offenses. Some of these include having a chair or bed made with legs higher than eight inches. The basic doctrines include a theory of salvation and a theory of the three jewels (the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha). Searching for security in the material world is futile. In fear of birth and death, Buddhists leave their home lives to attain salvation. To Buddhism, the root of all evil is not sin, but ignorance. They don’t care much to define Nirvana, but rather to realize it within themselves, through effort in meditation. Meditation, which:
Aims at a withdrawal of attention
Shifts attention to a subtler realm
Penetrates into the supra-sensory reality
Mindfulness leads to trance (samadhi) and then to wisdom (prajna). There is almost no limit to the total of different meditational methods reported during the first period.
As for the three jewels: Buddha is the enlightened one. His name was Gautama, or Siddharta (often called Sakyamuni). Tathagata is the spirit of Buddhism, the Dharma-body, or the Buddha nature. “Whoso sees the spiritual law, or Dharma, he sees me“. Buddha incarnated is not really important: what’s important is the Buddha nature. The seven Buddhas. The Boddhisatva theory. Maitreya, the future Buddha. Dharma is the subject of all teachings. It is the one ultimate reality, it is the teachings of the Buddha, and it is also the application of these teachings in our daily life, becoming righteousness or virtue. Sometimes, Dharmas -note the plural- are seen in Buddhist teachings, denoting the individual “things” that we perceive and that give origin to ignorance. Examples of these are the five Skandhas (form, feelings, perceptions, volitional impulses, and consciousness) which constitute the human personality. As per the Sangha (or Samgha) the real Samgha is the invisible church, the Aryans, the holy ones. Of all the Buddhist saints, the Arhats are the most highly prized.
Sects and their disputes
Buddhist sects remained in contact and thus were able to share principles and understand each other. The goal -of enlightenment- may be reached on different roads. Tensions between the elitists who want to keep the Dharma for a small number of Arhats, and those who wish to increase the salvation chances of the common people. As salvation depended on the awareness of certain mental processes, philosophy played an important role in Buddhism. The classification of knowledge, the problems of causality, time, the criteria of what is real and what is not… At this point, a scholar called Mahadeva called into question the holiness of the Arhats. Those who agreed with him separated into the called Mahasanghikas. Those who didn’t were called the Sthaviras, the elders. Buddha became an object of religious faith, more than just a human being. The earth Buddha became then a fictitious creature who was thought to have been sent by the transcendental Buddha to teach the world. The Mahasanghikas taught two important things: 1) that all thought is pure, and 2) that all worldly things are unreal, and that includes verbalized and conceptualized knowledge (even Buddhist knowledge).
The next separation was caused by the question of the person, or “pugdala” (“entity that reincarnates as an individual or person” – Wikipedia). The personalists or Vatsiputriyas claimed that apart from all the impersonal Dharmas, there is still a person that needs to be taken into consideration. “One person, when He is born in the world, is born for the weal of the many. Who is that one person? He is the Tathagata“. For them, the person is a reality in the ultimate sense. Neither identical to the skandhas, nor in the skandhas, nor outside of them.
The third split was caused by the doctrine of Katyayaniputra, who taught that not only present but also past and future events are all real (pan-realism).
What is the place of the common folk in the scheme of things? There are four avenues for them to increase their merit:
observe the five precepts
be devoted to the three treasures
be generous, especially to the monks
worship the relics of the Buddha
The monks, in return, increase the spiritual and material welfare of the community, and also the well-being of the country. Much of Buddhism’s success is owed to its good relationship with Asian rulers. Nevertheless, there was a precarious relationship with the laity, and this invited the development of Mahayana, and the idea that people are as important as dharmas. In the third period, monks were forced to become astrologers, doctors, weather changers, and other professions useful to laymen. “The story of Buddhism becomes unintelligible unless due weight is given to the desires of the dumb common people“.
Asoka, his son, and Buddhism in Ceylon (present-day Sri Lanka). Close contact between Buddhists and rulers infused the latter with a sense of nationalism and led the monks to support national wars. Ceylon was home to the Theravadins.
The Second Period: AD 0 – 500
Mahayana, the great vehicle (Maha means big. Mahatma, Maha Kali). Demand for more equal rights for the laity, and fewer arhats. Mahayana Buddhism was able to travel outside India and was influenced by foreign ideas. The importance of the Sakyamuni Buddha was put aside, making room for the Buddha who is the embodiment of Dharma (the Dharmakaya). Among the Mahayana innovations we count:
shifting the ideal from the Arhat to the Bodhisattva, who remains in touch with the ordinary people.
giving compassion equal importance as wisdom. Paramita, the six “methods to go to the beyond”: giving, morality, patience, vigor, meditation, and wisdom.
a new pantheon of deities, composed of more-than-divine persons (Avalokitesvara, Manjusri, Samantabhadra), both mythical Buddhas as well as Bodhisattvas.
development of the idea of Skill-in-means (skillful means) the ability to bring out the potential in people through unusual ways.
a new ontological doctrine dealing with emptiness, suchness. Although the “beyond” is considered to be, well, beyond the grasp of intellectual and verbal comprehension
The Yogacarin school (“one whose practice is yoga” – Wikipedia) came up with the final formulation of the Three Bodies of the Buddha. The Dharmakaya is the absolute truth, and reality itself. The Sambhogakaya is the body in unearthly realms. The Nirmanakaya is the one that human beings see on earth, the physical incarnation of the Buddha.
Some of these doctrines were forbidden and esoteric, to the point where it becomes hard to distinguish between true Buddhist innovation and just esoteric knowledge being made available to the populace.
Hinayana developments in India
To hold its position, Hinayana adopted some of the Mahayana theories. They stressed more the idea of “emptiness”. Created the Abhidharma.
Is learning more important than practicing? Buddhaghosa, writer of the Visuddhimagga. Discord between the Mahavihara and the Abhayagirivihara. The latter were more open toward laymen. The Mahaviharas were more conservative.
Expansion into greater Asia
As a world religion, Buddhism was born in Gandhara, India. The Mahayanists were more successful missionaries, given their freedom in interpreting the scriptures. Medical missionaries were also responsible for a great number of conversions. The first large country to be penetrated by Buddhist thought was China. First as a religion of the non-Chinese, but by 500 it was well established throughout the whole of China, developing a state within a state. The Chinese Buddhists weren’t shy about quoting Lao Tzu or the Yellow Emperor. Rulers found the Buddhist priests more amiable than Taoist priests, as they relied on donations from wealthy laymen, and were not inciting rebellions like the Taoists were. Among the first works to be translated into Chinese we find the sutras on Prajnaparamita. The problem of being versus non-being, the emergence of the seven schools.
School of original non-being
Variations in the first school
School of the emptiness of matter
School of the non-being of mind
School of stored impressions
School of phenomenal illusions
School of causal combination
Kumarajiva, the Book of Chao. Buddhism and neo-Taoism. The Icchantikas (“deluded being who can never attain enlightenment” – Wikipedia) are forever excluded from Buddhahood. Achieving Buddhahood in an instant opposes Hindu thought regarding acquired learning. Meanwhile, popular faith concerns itself with rebirth in paradise. Be it Akshobhya’s in the east, Amitabha’s in the west, or Maitreya’s in the future. Founding of the Fellowship of the White Lotus, which would later evolve into Chung-t’u, or school of Pure Land.
The Third Period – AD 500 – 100
The emergence of Tantra. This is the last creative achievement of Buddhism, which enriched it with magical traditions. Mantras, mudras and mandalas were introduced. Systematized into Vajrayana, and the syncretist Kalacakra, with an emphasis on astrology. Whereas common people use magic to acquire power, Buddhists use it to free themselves from powers that are alien to their true being. No longer distant, Buddhahood is right now, “in this very body”. The ideal now is the Siddha. The ambiguous language of Tantra, and the visions of the yogins which they esteemed as more real than reality itself (which makes it difficult to research Buddhism historically).
The monastic system was weakened and spread into groups of self-sufficient Yogins. The wrathful deities, and their feminine counterparts. Cunda, Vasudhara, Usnisavijaya, Vajravarahi, Buddhalocana…dakinis, consorts of the Buddhas and their erotic rituals. The fivefold division of all cosmic forces, each one presided by one Tathagata: Vairocana, Akshobhya, Ratnasambhava, Amitabha, Amoghasiddhi. Clothing the highest into the form of the lower, shock therapy, the union of male and female in the ecstasy of love.
Royal patronage of Buddhism in Northern India would come to define its direction for the following centuries. The Buddhists developed their logic preceding the Hindus. Formulation of epistemological theories.
China and Korea
Between 500 and 800 AD were the most productive centuries for Chinese Buddhism. The eight indigenous schools. The Mi-Tsung, is the Chinese version of Tantra. The T’ien-t’ai school aimed at a syncretism of all Mahayana schools. The Pure Land school, and Amidism. O-mi-to-fo, and the legend of Sukhavativyuha. Kuan-yin, the Indian version of Avalokitesvara. The strength of Amidism lies in its democratic spirit: just chant the name and you will be free, all that is required is faith. The Ch’an school, and the introduction of working monks. “A day without work, a day without eating”. Practical realization, simplification of the approach to enlightenment. If you are cold, just burn a statue of the Buddha. Kill the Buddha if he gets in your way. “Strange words and stranger actions“. Buddhahood is achieved through instantaneous enlightenment.
Buddhists were becoming impatient with how long it took for Hinayana or Mahayana to produce any enlightened beings, so the Ch’ans worked for enlightenment “in this life”. After the Arhats, Pratyekabuddhas, Boddhisattvas, and Siddhas, we now have the Roshis. Cultivation through non-cultivation. “Only do ordinary things with no special effort“. “To eat all day yet not to swallow a grain of rice“. The great prosecution of 845.
In Tibet, Buddhism found resistance from the Bon religion. The prosecution of 863. Padmasambhava.
The Last One Thousand Years: AD 1000 – 1978
In India, Buddhism pretty much ended in 1200 due to Mohammedan invasions, much as it was also due to internal strife. Monks left the country, thanks to the international character of Buddhism, contributing in this way to its extinction. The creative impulse had ceased. The division between Hindus and Buddhists had diminished, and Buddhism no longer served a purpose as a separate entity. In Nepal, monks gave up celibacy, and lay Buddhism prevailed. In Burma, Theravada orthodoxy was preserved. Build a pagoda to acquire merits (with the consequence that the country is covered with them). In Laos, the story of Buddhism is shrouded in legend. In China, Amidism and Ch’an ousted all other schools. While the school of Ts’ao-tung stressed quiet sitting and silent meditation, the Lin-chi sect favored rudeness and the “shout and the stick” approach. Nembutsu. The Taiping rebellion.
In Korea, the government was entirely in the hands of the bonzes for long stretches of time, but that changed in 1392 with the change of dynasty. Confucianism gained the upper hand. In Japan, Buddhism reached its creative peak. During the Kamakura period, Amida and Zen schools became the two most prominent forms of Buddhism. The Yozo Nembutsu, the Jodo or Pure Land school. In this age of decay, traditional Buddhist morals are no longer effective, and we must rely on a higher power, that of the Buddha Amitabha. The nationalistic school was founded by Nichiren, who replaced the Nembutsu with the Namu Myoho Renge-kyo. As for the Zen schools, Dogen introduced Ts’ao-tung into Japan, insisting that a decadent age was no reason to aim at less than insight into the highest truth. Zazen is carried out as an absolutely pure religious exercise from which nothing is sought, and nothing is gained. All daily activities should be regarded as post-enlightenment exercises. Bushido, the way of the warrior. Mono-no-aware, sensitivity to beauty. After 1500, there was a revival of Confucianism and military Shintoism in Japan. Only the Zen sect showed signs of vitality.
In Tibet, Indian teachers were invited again after a revival in 1000. Atisa came in 1042. His seminal work, “Lamp illuminating the road to enlightenment“. Tsong-kha-pa, the formation of different Tibetan sects. The Bka-ijdam-pa (Kadampa). The bKa-rclyud-pa (Kaguypa) was founded by Marpa. Their monks were not saints, but human beings. The story of Mila-ras-pa, Tibet’s greatest saint and poet. Gtum-mo, magical heat. The shi-byed-pa, the Sa-skya-pa, the Nying-ma-pa. The latter came up with the concept of hidden treasures, or gter-ma. The biography of Padmasambhava was one of these discovered treasures, as well as the bar do thos grol. The six bardos of the Nyingmapas. The ceremony of gCod (Chod) to offer one’s body to greedy demons. They operate similarly to the left-hand tantra practitioners of India. Creating tutelary deities (yidams), controlling the occult body, and realizing the nature of one’s own mind. A well-rounded personality does not suppress lust, anger, etc., but puts them into their own place. Finally, only the Dge-lugs-pa were able to come out victorious over the Nyingmapas. This sect was founded by Tsongkhapa, the last great thinker of the Buddhist world.
Three great achievements: codification of the canon into two big collections (the Kanjur and the Tanjur). Production of a large quantity of indigenous literature. Lastly, the rooting of Buddhism in the life of people. Tulkus, lamaism. The violence of the fifth Dalai Lama, and the shutting off of the country after the 18th century.
In Mongolia, the Dalai Lama converted the Mongols in 1577 when he journeyed to meet Altan Chagan, ruler of the eastern Mongols to show him his magical powers, forcing rivers to run uphill. Shamanistic sacrifices were thereupon forbidden. The Mongols conquest of Iran meant they built many cultural centers in those lands.
The present situation
Buddhism is now just spending its energies on maintaining itself, having lost the initiative it once had. The Buddha Jayanti, the 2500th anniversary of Shakyamuni’s enlightenment. Prophecies mark this era as the time when monks “will be strong only in fighting and reproving“. Northern Buddhism is under communist control (Mongolia, China, Tibet, and then Southeast Asia), and Buddhism and communism seem to be perfect enemies for each other, although Mahayana Buddhism and Dialectical Materialism seem to be surprisingly close.
Modern warfare, Cambodia. Although the country was neutral during the Vietnam war, it was “bombed back into the Stone age“. In Japan, we have seen a growth of nationalistic Buddhism. It is doubtful whether capitalism has been more kind to the Buddhists than communism.
In the West, Buddhism was absorbed on three different levels: The philosophical, Schopenhauer, Blavatsky, Wittgenstein, Heidegger, and abundant literature has been written about the similarities between eastern ideas and those of some of the modern European thinkers. On the historical level, Buddhist manuscripts and documents have attracted the attention of many scholars. On the sectarian level, many Buddhist communities have been formed, primarily in protestant countries. Figures like Alan Watts served as conduits for the spreading of a multiplicity of somewhat disorganized ideas. “How a drop of water could be prevented from ever drying up?”
The answer is: “by throwing it into the sea“.
It was definitely interesting to me to learn about the historical development of Buddhism. Of particular interest was the realization that Buddhism hasn’t been just “the words of the Buddha”, but that the tradition has grown, evolved, and transformed itself into many different things across the span of centuries. Like Christianism, Buddhism was once a well-guarded secret that only a few could understand, with fundamental teachings being written in a language very few people spoke (Sanskrit, whereas Christianism hid behind Latin words). Then, the common folk found a way to open it up, and thus came Mahayana (in Christianism, we got the New Testament).
One thing that is clear to me now is that Buddhism IS A RELIGION. Fine, it is a philosophical religion, and it involves much more debating and thinking about the ontological matter of our own existence, but in the end, you pray to divinities and hope to be reincarnated in another world (be it Samsara or it in a pure land). You wear a uniform (the orange robe) that differentiates you from those who don’t believe in your thing. And you see those others as unintelligent, or incomplete human beings. That’s pretty much what religion is.
Now that I have seen how complex Buddhism is, I have actually lost some faith in it. One of my criticisms of the Bible is how complicated it makes the message of the one -supposedly- true god. He couldn’t just forgive our sins in one swipe of his divine hand, no, he had to come up with an elaborate plan that required him to prepare a specific tribe from a specific location on the planet, and into this tribe, he sent the spirit of the first creature he ever created so that he could give up this very life and somehow fix things up. Why I really don’t know.
Anyway. I really recommend this book, especially if you want to understand Buddhism better. Before you start chanting all those nembutsus, you might want to know where it all came from.
I listened to a podcast recently (I believe it was an episode of the Occulture podcast) and they were talking about this book and Rudolf Steiner. I decided to read it and see what it was all about.
A misleading title
First of all, the book is called “Developing Supersensible Perception” but the content does not really cover the acquisition of these powers. It is mostly a theoretical volume than a practical one, with no exercises or practices outlined. It could be considered an attempt at explaining scientifically the existence of a universe beyond our known universe, existing outside of time and space, limited by the smallest dimensions in our physical universe, the Planck length and Planck time.
In summary, this book contains some scientific basis to defend the existence of other universes, and explain their identity and the way they interact with our universe. It is not a practical guide in any way, so I find the title is misleading.
Chapter 1. Five Approaches to Supersensible Perception
Rudolf Steiner and higher worlds. Interacting with other-worldly hierarchies. The Akashic records, opening one’s inner eye. The higher self and the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Five ways to develop the higher self: Acquisition by birth, acquisition by drugs, acquisition by prayer, acquisition by psychophysical exercises, acquisition by meditation.
Chapter 2. Activating and Cultivating Supersensible Perception
Three categories of thinking: Imaginative, active, and intuitive. Three ways of learning: Through the inner activity, through a teacher, through an image or book.
Chapter 3. The Four Domains of the Human Being
The physical, etheric, astral, and ego domains. Physics of the four domains. Steiner, Proclus, Patanjali. The astral resides within the blood circulatory system and the etheric within the nervous system, in a 90-degree angle geometry.
Chapter 4. Conditions for Supersensible Perception
The importance of the environment. Inner seclusion. “When you attain to the region of tears, then know that your mind has left the prison of this world“.
Chapter 5. My Journey from Physics to Metaphysics
Author’s experiences with LSD. A light in the forest. Floating Bodhisattvas of China. Tuning the mind to high-pitched frequencies. Reading the Yoga sutras, ayahuasca, and tuning by healing nanobots.
Chapter 6. Indian Tantra and Supersensible Perception
Tantra shastra, mantra, yantra, chakra, samadhi and kundalini. Yoga as the “union of the individual self with the transcendent Self”. Dharana, Dhyana, Samadhi. The Mysterious Kundalini by Vasant Rele.
Chapter 7. The Cosmology of Consciousness.
Max Planck, Planck length and time. Holoflux theory of consciousness. Implicate and explicate order. The Ouroboros. David Chalmers and the hard problem of consciousness. Archibald Wheeler and information theory as the basis of existence. Susan Pocket and consciousness as the electromagnetic field itself. Karl Pribram, the Fourier transform. Space-time domain and frequency domain. Existence of a feedback loop between the two domains. Cosmology and the implicate order.
From here on, the book takes a detour and becomes a very dense, hard-to-follow salad of names, theories, and mathematical constants and equations. Being that the title of the book is “Developing Supersensible Perception” and not “Theories about the nature of Consciousness”, I found the latest chapters very hard to follow and I simply skimmed through them without caring too much about the details of what was written. Here’s an example page that illustrates the problem with the second half of the book:
There are no practical exercises, there’s really no explanation as to how one should proceed about developing this supersensible perception, other than perhaps the idea of silencing the mind which can be extracted from some of the quotes by Patanjali or Steiner. For me, only the first four chapters of the book are useful. The rest of the chapters should be moved to a separate book, and the title should probably be changed to “Introduction to Supersensible Perception”.
My Personal Rating: 4/10
This book is an answer to the question “what are some scientific theories or arguments that I can use to defend the claim that there exists a separate universe, from which spirits come, or which could explain the phenomenon of consciousness?” I don’t think I will read it again, because the particular details of how consciousness integrates with our current scientific models really don’t interest me, I was looking for more practical guidance on these subjects, not scientific speculation.
This short book relates some of the experiences of a woman called Mary de la Mont. She married a Lama in secret, bewitched by his charm and power. She was told by the Lama that he and she had been lovers in previous lives. As man and woman, or vice-versa, they have loved each other through many different incarnations.
I loved him then, not as a man, but as the emblem of goodness and love: and now love and goodness are myths to me for ever.
She recounts strange experiences she lived and strange wisdom she obtained from the Lama. Strange rituals involving old mummified Lamas sucking the life force from young maidens. She tells stories of curses and threats by other Lamas who wanted to prevent her from writing what she had seen. One thing to mention here is that the book’s subtitle is “A tale of fictitious people faithfully recounting strange rites still practiced by this cult“. So it is quite possible that part, if not all, of the book, is just fiction. Certainly, she mentions being threatened many times, but here is the book she was told not to write, and it doesn’t seem like it would have been difficult to get rid of her if they had really wanted to.
Chapter I – In an underground temple. Secret tunnels under the pagodas. The narrator meets the Lama and falls in love. A recounting of a ritual where the narrator was made to remember many old memories and lives. She gets pregnant, but all her babies died during birth.
Chapter II – Magic. The science of breath. Some actions must be carried out at the moment the breath is coming out of one specific nostril (this seems like nonsensical superstition to me). The narrator was taught how to make gold and other metals. The curse of the yogini. “Knowledge would teach, but wisdom is always silent“. Early details of the life of the Lama, meeting his guru in a cave.
Chapter III – The Gala Lama. The narrator remembers a time when she was given tea with butter, and her not drinking the butter and asking for milk causes the Lama to compare the butter with spirituality. The Lama tells the narrator that he doesn’t want to lose her but as an Indian wife, her position is always lower than his. Meeting the Gala Lama, the master of his husband. Of her, the Gala Lama says “use her for the elixir of life and give me to drink”. The Lama tells Gala Lama that she is already his wife, to which Gala Lama responds that he has forced him into death.
Chapter IV – X.Y.Z. The narrator meets the chief pupil of the Lama, which she simply identifies as X.Y.Z. He is said to be “hundreds of years old” and alive thanks to the “elixir of life he steals from women“. The narrator tells us that this is why she wrote the book, to “warn those who like me…have fallen at the feet of powerful men with strange powers“. The Lama had prophesied that she would be the father of the Messiah. Hail storms summoned by the power of X.Y.Z.
Chapter V – Past births. The Lama tells the narrator “remember“. She recalls past lives together. In a lifetime she was a Brahmin boy, and he was a maiden seduced by the boy. Many other births after this. Always together, “seducer or seduced“. The Lama asks her how to win her. She answers “ignoring me after first giving me the warmest of love“.
Chapter VI – The Kaula Circle. More threats from X.Y.Z. She goes to India to be treated for sickness. Details of the circle rituals in which participants were intoxicated and their essence was absorbed. A disciple of X.Y.Z. that goes by 666, who also has a pupil. Evocation of spirits who take the life force of X.Y.Z.
Chapter VII – The Maharaja of X. A certain Maharaja who had multiple wives and was famous for the orgies he organized. He was learning the secret of the elixir of youth. He married a particularly beautiful girl, whose parents, after learning of the Maharaja’s orgies, moved her to kill him and then herself.
Chapter VIII – The End. “Man is not a small thing in the universe. This is the grandest thought my philosophy has given me“. The book ends in a somewhat unexpected Christian tone. “God lies in the sweet, tender, simple things of life-and He is the resurrected man-the Christ“.
The narrator changes to Jean de Graeme, the executor of madame La Mont’s will. He tells of different people who came to him trying to recover the manuscript that she wrote. After she died, all the gold she had made turned into an unidentified, worthless metal. The narrator receives the visit of Hari Nur, a Sadhu that had heard about the manuscript of madame La Mont’s memories. He offers to translate other manuscripts in exchange for money. He also begged the narrator to give him the papers from madame La Mont. At one point, even X.Y.Z. visited him (or at least he was identified as such by the narrator). He tells the narrator that he has already read the manuscript using clairvoyance. Of the content, he says that she “was very unwise, and you who intend to publish her ravings are even more unwise“. He talks about the evil in man, and how it should be used. “Suppression of vice is a bad business: so we allow it its fullest expression“.
Part III – The Science of Breath
This part I found absolutely useless. It starts as a normal treatise on breathing, but soon it gets too much into the realm of the fantastic and superstitious – not that the rest of the book shies away from such type of fiction, but things like “If a question is asked in even letters when the moon breath is working, the answer will be favorable” or “If a person is to die within a short time, i.e., one day, he cannot see his tongue“.
This book succeeded in making me more interested in learning about Kaula and weird magical practices. I have heard of entities who steal the life force from humans, and while this book doesn’t particularly teach much about this, it is a nice story set up in a world where all these weird things happen. But, did they really? Is it possible to find out more? I have recently been reading about John Chang and the secrets of Mo Pai, and wonder if there are truly secret masters with amazing superhuman powers and whether it would be a cause worth my time to throw myself into the quest to find these superhuman masters.
Overall, I think this book is a pretty good read, a solid 7/10. It’s short enough that the lack of a more intricate storyline doesn’t get boring, and it can be consumed as an appetizer for other books by the same author. It doesn’t really contain much in regards to secrets, though.
I have been studying the Bible with the Jehova’s Witnesses for some years now, and I grew interested in learning about the historical development of the book; particularly I wanted to know whether it was a reliable manuscript or not. In search of these answers, I stumbled upon this book, Misquoting Jesus.
What did I learn from this book: No, you can’t trust the Bible as a book that was written by God and preserved in its original form.
Not to say there is not wisdom in the Bible, but it is clear that the book and the manuscripts from which it originated passed from hand to hand, from scribe to editor, to copier, to translator. And while most of them probably tried to preserve the message as accurately as possible, some of them were more interested in making sure that the message was not in collusion with what they or their congregation believed.
Bart D. Ehrman goes over the historical development of some of the different versions of the Bible, from the early Christians of the 2nd and 3rd centuries CE, to the late scholars of the 17th and 18th centuries. He discusses the nature of the variations between different editions, and speculates on how some of them might have come to be introduced in the process of copying. He doesn’t barrage the reader with his own judgement, he simply presents the evidence and pretty much leaves you to draw your own conclusions.
Personally, after reading this book I find less ground to accept the Bible as the word of god. I knew many hands had touched and manipulated the documents, and it is clear that most scholars agree that this was the case, and this book helped me give my arguments some solid foundation. How could we really expect to understand the Bible as the word of god, when we don’t even know what the original “word of god” looked like?
You could of course claim that the wisdom of the book pervades every single translation and every variation, but Ehrman I believe presents a very solid position against Christian fundamentalism. Especially when dealing with people like the Jehova’s Witnesses, who so insistingly claim to be the only ones who are not misinterpreting scripture (although they clearly are), it is good to have a good counterargument against not just the additional doctrine that the group has overlaid on top of the scripture (which they will use to confuse you) but actually to dig deep into the origin of the book they claim to follow so strictly.
It is a fascinating book, that is not religious but not secular at the same time. It’s a neutral exposition of the facts. I enjoyed reading it quite a bit.
I’ve known about Regardie for some time, and although I don’t consider myself a very avid reader of his books, I am aware of his close connection to institutions like the Golden Dawn, and Crowley himself. So, I decided to check his “final thoughts” to see what he had come to conclude at the end of his life about magic, humans and the esoteric.
What did I learn from this book?
Mostly I got references to other works. The book doesn’t go very deep into any specific axioms or techniques, but it mentions parts of the story of Regardie and the Golden Dawn that can serve as a starting point for further research. In my case, I found it interesting to read about Wilhelm Reich, and one of the next books I’ll read will probably be Wilhelm Reich in Hell, or The Murder of Christ. Also mentioned was the book Undoing Yourself by C. Hyatt, another one I added to my list.
One of the things I found useful is Regardie’s insistence on doing psychotherapy before doing actual magical work. The same thing I remember asking the Ayahuasca people in Barcelona, “how can I be sure that this won’t release any potentially negative aspects of my personality?” Don’t worry, they said. You don’t have any demons inside. I still to this day think that those people were absolutely stupid and unaware of the knowledge they were working with.
The main part of the book consists of an interview with Regardie by C. Hyatt, and the second half or so consists of introductions that Regardie wrote to other books. Those introductions, while interesting, didn’t provide much in terms of references or understanding. I would say 90% of the value of the book comes from Hyatt’s interview.
Would I recommend this book to other people?
Yes, at least the first part of it. Like I said, if nothing else, just for the amount of references and mentions to other authors and their works.
Speaking about the flesh: “Lastly, in order for it to be mastered, it must first be fulfilled and respected; no repression, no denial, no punishment, no nonsense. “
“The great mass of people are quite willing to drift along. They want no part or have no idea of voluntary forms of evolution, self-induced and self-devised.”
“So the point is, don’t bother looking for the Secret Chiefs. If you are going to be of any importance (…) they will somehow look you up.”
Continuing with the trend of “aliens from our space” (instead of, you know, outer space), these are my notes for a classical work on the topic of “folkloric aliens”. That is, the theory that aliens have more in common with leprechauns and the lady virgin of Fatima than with Yuri Gagarin or astronauts exploring the cosmos.
This book is fascinating because it puts together a good number of reports that seem to demonstrate the power of the author’s argument. I, at least, am convinced.
Chapter 1: Visions of a parallel world.
1952 – Discovery of the sarcophagus of Palenque and the Mayan astronaut. Supernatural beings in religion. “It is only the wind, making the stars sway“. Japanese UFO history, and the phenomena linked to social revolution and population uprising. Beings that come from the sky, or from another contiguous dimension. Biblical cherubim, or the sadaim, daimonas. Paracelsus himself describes these creatures in detail. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elemental (Oh, noteworthy: the statue of Undine rising from the waters. I just find it very attractive. Hot lady.) Reports of strange creatures observed throughout our history. French villagers in 1954 saw two beings wearing what appeared to be diving suits and huge helmets, standing next to a huge machine/device that they quickly boarded, disappearing when the witnesses attempted to approach them. Beings with huge heads often appear in these reports. Human eyes, small stature, huge heads. And they sometimes paralyze the witnesses with a ray gun or another tool they use to point with. Witnesses which, by the way, are not necessarily unreliable. More often than not, they are respected individuals, not buffoons. Why are these images part of our development as a race?
Chapter 2: The good people.
Encounters with…space cakes? A man is given three wheat cakes by Italian-looking creatures who disappear on a saucer-shaped object which was hovering in his yard. Fairies in Ireland have also been giving people food. The Gentry, the fair people. UFO nests are magical circles? Scandinavian legends talk about elf-dans, the circles where the fairies dance. Sometimes, as in a particular ufo landing that took place in the US, the creatures ask for earth materials. A bag of fertilizer. Information about agricultural techniques. Just plain clean water. Or animals. “We are peaceful people. We only want your dog”. In Scotland, they are the sleagh maith, the good neighbors. The Secret Commonwealth.
Chapter 3 The Secret Commonwealth
More reports of creature sightings. There seems to exist a clear parallel between the ufo reports and the stories about fairies, dwarves, or mound people (see: New Views of the Origins of the Tribes and Nations of America, by Barton). I am thinking now, where did Crowley say that thing about “today they call them angels or demons, tomorrow they will call them something else“. Is that even a real quote from Crowley? Back to the book. The author states what he calls “my basic contention: the modern, global belief in flying saucers and their occupants is identical to an earlier belief in the fairy-faith“. Some classifications put these into one of four groups. These groups are The angels, the demons, the dead, and the elemental spirits.
Were these beings simply legendary visions based upon a real race of pygmies? Did a race of short dark-skinned people really exist? Dwarves? Picts? Conall Gulban and the amhusg. The Mothman. Springheel Jack. Glowing red eyes.
Chapter 4: To Magonia… and back!
The Benny and Betty Hill story. A french lady was attacked by black hands without arms. Soldiers carried away by the clouds, taken by the wind. People that have been taken by the fairies. Sometimes, they return with gifts. Sometimes, it is gold. The fairies also sometimes exchange their babies for one of ours (us, humans). A changeling. Of interest for us is the fact that changelings appear frequently in German fables – see German Changeling Legends. Time seems to pass slowly for those who visit fairyland. The story of Rip Van Winkle, with similar legends appearing in other cultures. For instance, the story of Wang Chih, holy men of the Taoists. In his case, it was not just hours that have passed, but rather centuries. He was entertained by two men playing chess in a grotto, and when he finally returned home there was nothing left of the world he once knew.
More creature sightings, in Argentina and Brasil. In 1957, Antonio Villas-Boas was carried by four men into an egg-like craft that hovered above his tractor. He was then introduced to a humanoid blonde woman with whom he had intercourse. Soon after, he was given his clothes back and left in a “waiting room”. The witness tried to steal a clock, but he was pushed aside by the creatures. They then give him a tour of the ship, lead him to a metal ladder, and he is told to get out.
Outside entities mating with humans. It’s been recorded in ufo stories, fairy abductions, and even in the Bible. Often it is written about angels taking brides from among the humans. Even the gods seem to have a predilection for our females. “Women, saith the Apostle, should pray with their heads covered, because of the angels“. In Scotland, succubi or Leannain Sith tempt the youth. Familiar spirits are mentioned often in medieval occultism. A good number of witches were cast into the fire due to their association with the lascivious familiars.
Frater Sinistrari, born in Italy in 1622, relates the story of a married woman who found herself the target of constant temptation by a succubus who would appear as a fair young boy with blonde hair and a blonde beard. He started to act more violently when he saw the lady didn’t reciprocate his attentions. He stole her jewels, took her baby, and deposited the cradle on the roof of her house, or upset furniture and cutlery. On one occasion, an entire dinner table with plates and food disappeared, with another one appearing in its place, also filled with foods, but from another world. The guests were able to eat this food nevertheless and satiate their hunger before it disappeared and in its place, the original table was seen.
In medieval times, a great amount of literature was produced dealing with the particulars of copulation between humans and demons or spiritual creatures of an evil kind. In classical literature, some of the most well-known heroes are born from these copulations: Romulus and Remus, Alexander the Great, Caesar Augustus (according to some authors, that is). The book of Genesis says that “the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair“. Of their children, it is said that they “became mighty men which were of old, men of renown“
Chapter 4: Nurslings of Immortality
Knock, Ireland. August 1879. Figures in a meadow: the virgin Mary, St. Joseph, St. John. The figures were so life-like that a woman tried to hug the Virgin’s feet, but her arms only were able to grasp the air. Holograms? Then, miracles begin to take place. Healings are also associated with the UFO phenomenon. The virgin of Guadalupe.
Airships seen all over the US. Captain James Hooton reported that he had seen the ship landed, and was able to approach it and speak with one of its occupants, who was doing what appeared to be repair work. The machine, very much mechanical, took flight and was gone in no time. In another case, in 1897, Constable Sumpter and Deputy Sheriff McLemore, witnessed a couple of perfectly normal-looking individuals, one man with a long beard and a woman with an umbrella. They were standing by a big cigar-shaped object, and the aeronauts even offered the gentlemen a ride to bring them to a place safe from the rain. They refused, however, saying they “preferred to get wet“.
These objects are described as even having anchors. One of these objects was dragging a rope that got caught on a rail. A man descended the rope, but upon finding people waiting under it, he decided to just cut it and depart with the ship.
What if all this was a plot to manipulate people, to make them believe in things that just keep them preoccupied? More reports about sightings. Holograms theory. An elaborate hoax on the human race? Are we being used to breed some form of hybrid species, to help beings in another dimension advance their own evolutionary line? Why the presence always of this sexual component – the aliens want to breed with us. All of this is, at least until now, pure speculation. Is it a religion in the making? Are these modern UFO incidents the preamble to a new mythology?
Currently, most of the organizations that try to resolve this mystery just group a huge number of people around themselves. Big sums of money and time are spent just keeping these groups alive. While not much real research is done, or the results are often fruitless. Instead, we should focus on small groups, working hard to report and classify local incidents. First-hand reports gathered fast, published fast. Shared with every other group. Theories: 1) the whole thing is purely a mental creation of our own brains. Somehow, we manage to bring our dreams into the real world. 2) Mental entities use our brains to manifest dream worlds into our real world. 3) Some other intelligence uses these dreamworlds to have fun, or try to teach us something. Or manipulate us?
Facts: 1) Since the 1940s there’s been an increasing number of reports. Of an increased variety. 2) the saucer myth is remarkably similar to the fairy-faith lore of some European countries. 3) The entities reported by the witnesses are usually fairly “biological”. They look slightly different to us but still humanoid. 4) The behavior of these entities is ridiculous and borderline absurd. 5) Apparitions follow the same model of religious miracles which have been for long been put aside in a different category.
The author believes these propositions to be true: 1) An advanced race coexisting with humans might behave in such a way that we would consider to be absurd. 2) If we don’t acknowledge our ignorance about the nature of time, our theories and explanations will remain forever incomplete. 3) The UFO reports contain all the signs of a new mythology in the making, perfectly suited to be used to manipulate society.
In which the author includes a very extensive list of UFO reports, from 1868 to 1968. Of great interest for the serious researcher. A nice catalog for the reader, it reinforces the idea that these incidents are not isolated cases of “wackos” getting lost in the night. It would seem that there is a solid reality behind these reports.
What did I learn from this book?
Well, I have to say that although this doesn’t seem like an illogical idea once you meditate upon it, the truth is that it had never occurred to me to try connecting the reports of modern alien abductions with old reports of European fairies, or with religious experiences such as the one that took place in Fatima. When you start paying attention to the small details, it turns out that there are more things in common than one would expect. It seems very much likely that all these incidents are part of the same category of experiences, owing their origin to the same source. What is this source? That is the part that is not yet understood by us. Is it noise, or is it purposeful? What is talking to us, what is reaching from the other side?
My personal interest would be: how can we establish some reliable channel of communication? Or, can we contact these entities willingly, if they truly exist? Would it be wise? Can we talk to them, and have them explain to us more things about our universe? Can we obtain knowledge to build a better world?
Here’s a book I had trouble putting down. I’m a sucker for strange ideas, crazy explanations of daily life events, and theories that border the insane.
John Keel is the author of the now-famous Mothman Prophecies, a book in which I first realized that there are very strange things taking place in our world. If only half of what Keel writes about is true, then it seems we are and have been visited by alien entities for an unclear purpose, entities whose reality, purpose, and modus operandi go against everything we would consider rational.
In the beginning, there was nothing. The spirit of god floated above the waters.
And then, Charles Fort wrote his Book of the Damned. Thousands of people across the world read about mysterious objects that fell from the sky, lights that accompanied volcanic activity, and the appearance of creatures that belonged in old mythological folklore, not in our highways and mountain deserts.
John Keel analyzes and develops Fort’s ideas, refining them even further: The strange, the oddities, are coming to our world, not from Jupiter, Alpha Centauri, or Zeta Reticuli. They are part of our world, simply existing in a separate dimension, a different vibration, or some kind of parallel earth that we can’t perceive because of our limited understanding. Isn’t the spectrum of visible light only a small fraction of the entire range of wavelengths that fly around at any given moment?
Ok, so here we have a clear example of how limited our understanding of the universe really is. If we only believed what we can see with our eyes, we would not know about x rays, infrared, radio signals…what other things can we not perceive from our human perspective? What is our brain really capable of, what is our collective brain network capable of?
Hungry lights in our skies
UFOs are not something new. Strange things in the sky have appeared in almost every age of our human evolution. The gods came on their chariots and demanded sacrifices. We are property, Fort said. The ancient Mayan gods, or the Sumerian gods, or the Chinese divine kings, all required from humans labor and gold. And blood. One of the things that have always intrigued me is the fact that sacrifices and pain were always part of religious worship. The film trilogy Matrix made the whole world think about this possibility: we are here only to provide a service to other entities. In the film, humans provided energy to the machines which kept them under a simulated reality. Conspiracy theories involving reptilians or “Illuminati” sometimes blame them for large-scale conflicts such as terrorist attacks and warfare. The attacks of September 11th are sometimes thought to be a sort of ritualized sacrifice, with an undetermined -to us- purpose. Some say that it was a blood sacrifice to make the gods happy, some others wonder whether the powers-that-be are not required, in exchange for power and wealth, to carry out periodical executions to feed the hunger for energy of some discarnate entity which supposedly they’re working for.
Yes, really. Religious stories from South America, Africa, or the Middle East always seem to involve this common theme: we are here to work for the gods. In ancient times, the gods walked around us. They were the giants of the bible, they guided the ancient peoples, taught them agriculture, astrology, the wisdom of the heavens. But they didn’t do it for free. Controversial author Zacharia Sitchin claims that his interpretation of the Sumerian texts reveals that the human race was genetically created by these gods, who demanded from us that we mined the gold that they required for their planets. In Colombia, Indians crafted jewelry from gold, elaborate necklaces, and rings that they later simply threw into the waters of Lake Guatavita. Why? For the gods, apparently.
Yes, my bad.
I would say the main ideas of this book are:
Ancient civilizations have existed, civilizations of which we have no clear knowledge and which possessed a degree of technological sophistication that we today would not attribute to them, given how far back in human history they existed.
All the records we can collect from these civilizations appear in our most ancient religious texts, which were written thousands of years after the actual facts, and by then these real entities were idolized as gods and worshipped as creators. Maybe they did engineer our species to serve a purpose, or maybe they simply used their knowledge to subdue humans and force them to labour in their behalf.
Parallel to this idea, we also have the idea that modern UFOs and ancient stories of burning trees and fire raining from the heavens have more in common than we think. Of a rather psychic and not physical nature, incidents of alien abduction, strange sea serpents or even mediumship have all in common with the sightings of the children from Fatima, or the visions from Moses and his burning bush. All through our history, the unknown has been visiting us with relative periodicity. And it adapts, it changes according to our needs. Before, it was the gods. Then, it was the fairies. Then, it become the UFOs. Soon, it will change again, reborn as a new fear emerges in our collective consciousness.
Would you recommend this book to other people?
Quite definitely. While I would not call myself a true believer, I have to admit that recently I have been exploring the theory that UFOs are coming from inside us, from inside our consciousness, perhaps messages from entities that belong to a different realm of existence, and which manifest through our physical brain, getting entangled in whatever thoughts we have as individuals and as a collective. We no longer see aliens that wear scuba suits, the alien has evolved alongside our society.
It makes more sense to me to believe that this phenomenon of UFOs and other oddities in our world come from the same world, but a separate plane, than the idea that the visitors come from different planets or galaxies altogether, that they decide to materialize in front of truckdriver Joe who is then subjected to inordinary medical examinations and sometimes even forced to procreate with female humanoids to spread our seed to the most distant corners of the cosmos.
If there is anything that I have to criticize is the final chapter where the author paints a very grim image of the present world – or as present as it was back in 1988. “People are shooting each other for parking spaces!” he says. It seems more dramatic than necessary, and the author failed to see the irony in his closing statements and the fact that he himself included some examples of failed doomsday prophecies that plague our historical archives. No, I don’t think we are that bad, mister Keel. I think in fact we are in a better position these days than we were 100, 1000, or 10.000 years ago.
That doesn’t discredit the theory of inter-dimensional psychic aliens, but it’s something that the book could have done without.
The book, as a series of sentences (probably good for google searches)
Charles Fort – Hochstetter syndrome – Pyramids around the world – Strange tools carved in ancient times – Ancient advanced races – Lightning from the gods – Animal mutilations – Are we a farm? – Cryptozoology and ufo sightings – How to serve man – Aliens own the earth – Artifacts left by the ancients – Wilhelm Reich – Missing historical records – Are we engineered? – Millenia-old stone carvings – Brainwashing and hypnosis – Seances and alternate realities – Drunk interdimensional travelers – The rise of new-age thinking – A doomsday message
Wondering whether I could achieve trance states using sound and breathing instead of psychedelic drugs, I ended up reading a copy of Cave and cosmos, a book by Michael Harner. Harner seems to have become somewhat famous for having written The Way of the Shaman, a book in which he apparently introduced a framework of techniques and practices which many shamanic traditions share around the globe.
I can’t talk about the style or the content of Way of the Shaman, but I will tell you what I learned from Cave and Cosmos.
Traveling with the spirit.
The basis of this work is the belief in the reality of a spirit world, be it really spiritual or simply a mental space, the foundation of this book is the idea that using our imagination and external tools such as drugs or drumming, human beings can reach altered states of mind in which they can perceive, or see, to different degrees of precision, sounds, faces, other spiritual entities and have entire experiences altogether. So basically, that we can just imagine things and visit a neighboring plane of reality in which things exist independent of our subjective perception. A world of spirits, if you will.
In this world of spirits, humans encounter entities that have their own ideas, their own plans, and prejudices. In Africa they are the spirit of the Tokoloshe, in Siberia, they are the spirits of the animals and mountains, in Vietnam, you find them as the spirit of the ancestors of kings and queens. But all around the world, in all cultures and traditions, we see a very similar set of practices. We seem then forced to come to the conclusion that there is something, certain knowledge, and a certain reality that accompanies this knowledge, surrounding these spirits and inhabitants of the other world.
The world above, and the world below.
After laying the foundation for this spiritual traveling, we then have to analyze what kind of places we are able to visit in these other worlds. Where are they, first of all? Above, and below. And right here, among us. An unknown number of worlds, of unknown size, inhabited by mostly unknown entities. How we start our imaginary travels determines where we go. If we go down a rabbit hole or a hole in the trunk of a tree, we might end up in one of the many underworlds. Xibalba, Tartaros, the final destination is determined by our cultural expectations. Or we might decide to climb the highest tree in a familiar mountain, to find ourselves in the clouds, talking to enlightened buddhas, or any of the archangels, devas, or residents of Olympus. Entities of the upper realms can heal, teach and give advice. Entities of the lower realms can destroy, curse or manipulate gross matter. But above and below are only two ways of looking at the world. We could also consider the existence of a middle world or many middle worlds. Even if these worlds are real, it seems difficult to understand how are they organized or what rules they follow.
Meditation is the main technique used by shamans, meditation understood as using your imagination. Imagination understood as that which you see with your eyes closed.
Using a drumbeat, or listening to a recording of a drumming session, you let your mind wander around. You visualize a place you want to go to, and then use symbols to stimulate the appearance of spirits that you want to talk to. If you want to talk to animal spirits, or to talk with “evil” (mind the quotes!) entities, you want to go “down”. Hell is down, the underworld is under, caves were always the gateways to the world of the deceased. If you climb a tree or use the rainbow as a launching platform, you visit the high realms, high as much as they are the residence of those spirits who are related to peace, serenity, and wisdom.
It seems that there is no need anymore for formal initiation into cults, religions, or any secret societies in order to acquire the knowledge that the spirits have to teach. Buy a drum – no, just download an mp3 file for a drumming session, take a deep breath, and lay down with your eyes closed and a firm intention to visit with your imagination the place where you will find the spirits you seek. It’s never been easier. Talk to the spirits. Today, yourself!