A final note on secrecy

As part of the fallout over the whole recent magical secrecy argument, GH Fr LES gave us a very interesting post. The post was carefully worded that any attempt at reply would be either pointless or would need to fulfil certain requirements set out by GH Fr LES. So I did not bother replying.

A certain Sr FS did reply, and not being party to the original discussion was able to say a few things without looking churlish, pointing out the various alchemical ‘secrets’ GH Fr LES keeps hinting at are not secret at all. They are in fact discernible with a little book knowledge and contemplation. She also mentioned the way the post was set up as I describe above. Thanks a bunch, Soror 🙂

However, even though the ‘alchemical secrets’ referred to here are not ‘secret’ they’re still pretty bug-fucking amazing. Deep, powerful, hard to accomplish and not at all first grade magic. Just like much of the already published RR et AC material. Just like much of the material from other western Orders ‘out there’ and just like much of the published Tibetan vajrayana.

Confession anyone?

To quote that most beautiful Tridentine priest, Sinead O’Connor, “I’ve said this before now. You said I was childish and you’ll say it now” while paraphrasing a much more grating singer,

WE DON’T NEED ANOTHER SECRET

I mean heck, look at what the published curriculum of the RR et AC asks us to do. Seriously, have any of us ‘finished’ with this? Not just repeating the rituals and processes a few or even a few dozen times, but living and integrating the blessings of them all in our daily lives?

Or this from the Theoricus grade in the Outer Order, “Be thou, therefore, prompt and active as the Sylphs, but avoid capriciousness. Be thou energetic and strong as the Salamanders, but avoid irritability. Be flexible and attentive to images, like the Undines, but avoid indolence. Be laborious and patient like the Gnomes, but avoid avarice.”

Or have we even come close to realising and understanding this version of the Neophyte meditation, “God is the circle whose centre is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere”?

Or, by gum moving out of the esoteric altogether and into the lowlife exoteric, to something repeated around the world in countless churches everyday, “love thy neighbour as thyself”.

I mean really, until we have done these things or at least really, honestly tried to do them…do we need another secret?

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15 comments

  1. alexsumner · August 6, 2010

    Who’s interested in immortality anyway? My soul is already immortal, I do not need to faff around with some alchemical nonsense that has been cribbed almost verbatim from the works of Kenneth Grant.

    I hate to be indelicate, but in my experience it is only intitiates of the left-hand path that are obsessed with immortality, principally because they are afraid that their souls will not survive death of their own accord.

  2. Karma Dorje · August 6, 2010

    The grade structure and the revelation of secrets caters to ambition and greed. That I think is by design– to give added motivation to the natural acquisitiveness of candidates to the mysteries. What you highlight is indeed one of the biggest conceits of modern western occultists of all stripes, who confuse intellectual grasp with true understanding. As you mention though, the biggest secrets are hidden right up front in the Neophyte meditation.

    This is why the Hindu and Buddhist traditions used the term ‘siddha’. Not only does it mean someone who has attained, but it also means ‘obvious’. Real secrets are completely obvious like the purloined letter. I think that Vajrayana has a very sane approach, laying down the groundwork with constant repetition of the foundational practices. How few in western occultism have the same diligence!

  3. David Griffin · August 8, 2010

    I forwarded Alex Sumner’s above comment to the Hermetic Masters in Europe and requested a response. I just published Hermetic Master R.C.’s answer to sumner at:

    http://hermetic-golden-dawn.blogspot.com/2010/08/initiatic-mysteries-debate-hermetic.html#comments

  4. David Griffin · August 8, 2010

    I forwarded Alex Sumner’s above comment to the Hermetic Masters in Europe, requesting a reply. I just published Master R.C.’s reply to Sumner at:

    http://hermetic-golden-dawn.blogspot.com/2010/08/initiatic-mysteries-debate-hermetic.html#comments

  5. dirkt · August 10, 2010

    anatta!

    😉

  6. dirkt · August 10, 2010

    i’m personally not interested in metapysical speculations or wishfull thinking about an actual solar body and a metaphysical evolution of the soul. no one actually knows, if there is a creator god, an immortal soul or even if life or the universe itself has a deeper meaning or not, and so i’m not longer inclined to lose much sleep over such fruitless speculations. been there, done that. and it never led to anything usefull.

    as master rc suggested to look up the buddhist teachings as “proof” for his theories concerning the evolution of the soul, the development of the solar body and immortality as the sole pinnacle of mystical practice, i’d like to put this into perspective:

    as the core buddhist teachings are fundamentally agnostic and rational, they do not necessitate a metaphysical interpretation. this is even true for at first glance seemingly metaphysical concepts like karma, rebirth and buddha-nature, which btw is not an hindu atman or soul in our western sense, but rather a positive language expression of the negative “shunyata/emptiness” (meaning the absence of essence and independence) and therefore pure potentiality, which is used mainly as a prop for explanatory reasons.

    the trikaya doctrine in buddhism and it’s sambhogakāya or reward body may come closest to the concept of a “solar body” in davids posting and i will give a short outline of the concept as it can be found on wikipedia:

    “Briefly the doctrine says that a Buddha has three ‘bodies’: the nirmaṇa-kāya or created body which manifests in time and space; the sambhoga-kāya or body of mutual enjoyment which is an archetypal manifestation; and the Dharma-kāya or ‘Reality body’ which ’embodies’ the very principle of enlightenment and is omnipresent and boundless.
    The Sambhogakaya is that aspect of the Buddha, or the Dharma, that one meets in visions and in deep meditation. It could be considered an interface with the Dharmakaya. What this doctrine does, is to bring the transcendental within reach—it places the transcendental within the plane of immanence.”

    but, as stated above, this concept as so many others in buddhism and other mystical traditions too, does not necessarily need to be understood in a literally or metaphysical sense, and some buddhists school actually don’t:

    “In the chan/zen tradition, the Sambhogakāya (Chin. 報身↔baoshen, lit. “retribution body”), along with the Dharmakaya and the Nirmanakaya, are given metaphorical interpretations. In the Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch, Chan Master Huineng describes the Samboghakaya as a state in which the practitioner continually and naturally produces good thoughts:

    “Think not of the past but of the future. Constantly maintain the future thoughts to be good. This is what we call the Sambhogakāya.

    “Just one single evil thought could destroy the good karma that has continued for one thousand years; and just one single good thought in turn could destroy the evil karma that has lived for one thousand years.

    “If the future thoughts are always good, you may call this the Sambhogakāya. The discriminative thinking arising from the Dharmakāya (法身↔fashen “Truth body”) is called the Nirmanakāya (化身↔huashen “transformation body”). The successive thoughts that forever involve good are thus the Sambhogakāya.”

    and with that, we’re back to what peregrin statet in his second part of his posting: to better integrate our mystical practice into our daily life and so to get rid of anger, craving and ignorance, to be more compassionate and content, instead of striving for imaginably hights that may be just a pipe dream (and imo the pinnacle of ignorance).

  7. Peregrin · August 10, 2010

    Thank you Karma Dorje for these comments. I was not aware of the double meaning of ‘Siddha’, which is very interesting and does indeed tie in with the theme of all genuine traditions. As you say our western focus on attainment means we often forget the constant repetition of the foundational practices whereas these are the bread and butter of even the great Buddhist masters like HH the Dalai Lama. Thanks 🙂

  8. Peregrin · August 10, 2010

    Dear Alex,

    yes the focus on immortality read a bit that way to me too. Thank you for saying what I felt and the reference to Grant. I read him a but when younger and not much since. The concept of any sort of consciousness as we know it, me “peregrin”, you “Alex” etc becoming immortal does, in the magical paradigm, border on the LHP. Of course in exoteric Christian understanding some folk think this is just as it will be. Since we are not who we were when 5, 10, 15 or 25 years old etc, it is of course complete nonsense. Thank you again 🙂

  9. Peregrin · August 10, 2010

    Thank you David for getting a response from your Master on this issue. I’ll scoot on over to your blog and have a look 🙂

  10. Peregrin · August 10, 2010

    Hi Dirk – once again you have said much of what i felt when reading this reply. It is good that other people respond rather than just me! As soon as I read the Master RC’s comments on Buddhism I was immediately reminded of the Thesophical teachings on Buddhism, which few Buddhists would recognise as Buddhism. Those who have been blessed with actual empowerments and teachings from real Tibetan vajrayana Masters would I am sure have a smiliar response to the Master RC’s statement as you did. Thank you 🙂

  11. Karma Dorje · August 10, 2010

    Dirkt:

    This rendering of the trikaya doctrine does violence to its Indic source. Thought in the sense of conceptuality (prapanca) has nothing whatsoever to do with the sambhogakaya in the Tibetan tradition and the Sanskritic one it is based on. Rather, the sambhogakaya is the purified dream state of one who has actualized the dharmakaya, born out of the confluence of their intention to aid beings and vast wholesome roots of positive action.

    Also, setting the metaphysical in opposition to the rational as you do in the beginning of your missive has more to do with the Positivists of Vienna and Spinoza than it does with Nagarjuna, Vasubandhu or Dharmakirti all of whom found no problem reconciling logical argumentation with tantric metaphysics. To them, this is a false dichotomy.

    Also, the distinction between trisvabhava and Hindu concepts of atman as saccidananda is not at all clear. I am disinclined to listen much to the partisans of either side of the Hindu-Buddhist divide as even a cursory exposure to the theory and praxis of both of them will show the commonality of history, terminology and results. It is a common move in Indian philosophy to use one’s own provisional (neyartha) teachings to refute the definitive (nitartha) teachings of the opponent. This is because of the perceived primacy of a destructive logic a la prasanghika madhyamaka. It is, however dirty pool. Compare the shentong approach of Yogacara-Madhyamaka to the Trika system or Shri Vidya and you won’t find more than a hair’s breadth of difference between them.

    Saying all of this, I don’t disagree with your opinion that approaching spiritual practice with the notion that one is becoming someone or something really special is itself an act of hubris, insecurity and ignorance. I did not get the impression that Master RC had such failings. He is speaking to a known audience that accepts that there are wondrous attainments to be gained by realization. This idea of the solar body my compare to the Rainbow Body of dzogchen rather than the sambhogakaya. Surely we can agree to disagree amongst ourselves without assuming bad faith on the part of other participants to the conversation.

  12. dirkt · August 10, 2010

    @karma dorje

    thanks for your response.

    my whole point was, that there are other possible and non-metaphysical interpretations of the trikaya doctrine besides the more traditional and metaphysical ones. if those interpretations “violate” the concept from your point of view is not of my concern. you’ll have to discuss that with master huineng 🙂

    as nagarjunas philosophy of emptiness is at it’s core a concept of having no concept (about the unknown), it actually does well away with the need for unfounded metaphysical assumptions.

    concerning the differences/non-differences of buddha-nature and atman… you are right. there are schools of buddhist thought that will posit an inherent ontological quality to buddha nature, but then there are others that certainly won’t. from my pov, if you took the pains to develop the concept of anatman it makes absolutely no sense to defeat it by allowing atman to creep in through the backdoor again 😉

    i don’t know what failings master rc has or has not.
    “He is speaking to a known audience that accepts that there are wondrous attainments to be gained by realization.”

    yes. i think, thats the problem. emphasis being on “accept” and “wondrous”. but that is certainly not master rc’s fault.

    @peregrin

    thanks

  13. Sincerus Renatus · August 10, 2010

    Regarding “Left Hand Path” and “Right Hand Path”, out of spiritual ignorance I also used to do this separation between them. But nowadays I find it way to limiting. IMHO most genuine esoteric traditions, such as the Golden Dawn, has aspects of both. Thus the Hermetic Traditon is better designated as a “Middle Path”.

    Also, what is usually seen today as “Left Hand Path” in the occident (i.e. Qlippotic Qabalah) isn’t neccessarily the same as the “Left Hand Path” in the orient. They share the antinomian character though. But I sense a strong origin from the Sabbatian Qabalah, through Jacob Frank, in the Golden Dawn “Hermetic Qabalah”. Thus in the Letters L.V.X. there is also the notion of Evil, as well as a good and evil side of Godhead.

    Also, the Hermetic Masters are not addressing the “litte ego” here with the immortality of the soul. They refer – to use a Qabalistic term – to the Ruach. Following G.D. philosophy the goal is to make the Ruach or Self-consciousness a transparent vehicle for the Higer Self or Neschemah. To become anoited or as the Christos. IMHO Jesus Christ is a prime example of one who did attain to a Solar Consciousness; it is followed by a illumination and full identification with the “Father” or True and Only Self.

    In Internal Alchemy you separate the different “bodies” or “layers” in the human being to reunite them again into a new whole. At least this is how I perceive it. The end result is Cosmic Consciousness in which the radiant solar force is transmitted unhibited through both Soul and Body. This is the transfiguration of the Christ.

  14. Karma Dorje · August 11, 2010

    Dirkt: In the interest of liveliness, I tend not to have arguments with dead people no matter their imagined exaltedness. If your only point is that many interpretations of a given concept are *possible* rather than that we should discover what was intended by those that coined the terminology… well, we can define black as white and war as peace if you like but it hardly advances the conversation.

    Having no concept (nisprapanca) is not the same as having a concept of nothingness, which is as Nagarjuna warned, the gravest of errors in approaching sunyata because it undercuts the development of punya. It is very much a live debate whether sunyata is an affirming or a non-affirming negation, your glib assertions aside.

    No school of buddhism that I have encountered grants ontic status to tathagathagarbha. That is not to say that they aren’t accused of it by their detractors. Living traditions evolve. This is most certainly true of what we call “Hindu” thought. Adi Shankara was profoundly influenced by Buddhist philosophy, and his reformations moved advaita vedanta largely in line with the Buddhist thinking of the time. As Jamgon Kongtrul explains:

    “Madhyamika philosophies have no differences in realising as ‘Shunyata’, all phenomena that we experience on a relative level. They have no differences also, in reaching the meditative state where all extremes (ideas) completely dissolve. Their difference lies in the words they use to describe the Dharmata. Shentong describes the Dharmata, the mind of Buddha, as ‘ultimately real’; while Rangtong philosophers fear that if it is described that way, people might understand it as the concept of ‘soul’ or ‘Atma’. The Shentong philosopher believes that there is a more serious possibility of misunderstanding in describing the Enlightened State as ‘unreal’ and ‘void’. Kongtrul finds the Rangtong way of presentation the best to dissolve concepts and the Shentong way the best to describe the experience.”

    If you are merely going to treat everything at the level of concepts, you prove Master RC’s point that without the guru all you have is dead words. Such speculation is itself pointless without understanding grounded in the experience of sunyata.

  15. dirkt · August 11, 2010

    @karma dorje

    i’m still not getting my point across, as it sems. master rc’s point was, that the discourses of the buddha besides the other named traditions affirm the metaphysical theory of the development of a solar body which can survive physical death and a consicious evolution of the soul as the pinnacle of their mysteries, when indeed they do not.

    i deliberetly chose the trikaya doctrine and it’s sambhogakāya, because this doctrine is known throughout a great variety of buddhist distributions (while the rainbowbody doctrine, which as you correctly pointed out might fit the description better belongs specifically to dzogchen), to illustrate that all of this schools and subschools have a slightly different take on the same doctrine, ranging from literally and metaphysical to metaphorical. so for the zen school amongst many others, the development of a solar body in which consciousness surrives physical death to evolve is a rather meaningless concept, while other distributions (i.e. the tantric ones) may have indeed similar ideas.

    thank you for correcting me on the shentong/rangtong argument.

    as to nagarjuna, i don’t see the difference to what i stated before.

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