In 1977 my favourite author, St Bob Anton Wilson completed his autobiographical work, Cosmic Trigger: final secret of the Illuminati with what must have been the most difficult chapter he has ever written. The book recounted how he had delved for many years into several weird and wonderful esoteric byways looking for the hidden wisdom of the ‘Illuminati’. Now Wilson finished on an intensely personal note, the text suddenly changing into an account of how his youngest daughter, Luna, was murdered in the course of a robbery.
Describing his shock, grief and pain, even amongst tragedy, Wilson reaffirms his commitment to life over death, rejecting the concept of the death penalty and writing:
The police caught the killer in a few days. He was a Sioux Indian, well-known around Berkeley, given to threats of suicide, constant alcoholism and grandiose claims that he would do something “great” for his people some day. I suppose, in his mind, he was getting even for Wounded Knee when he beat my daughter to death. The guys who dropped the napalm on the Vietnamese children thought they were protecting their homes from the barbarian hordes of “gooks.”
Such, to use an eastern phrase, is the Wheel of Samsara – we are attacked, attack in response which leads to further attacks in return. Human history on a personal and social level is often like some ghastly Sicilian Vendetta, when generations later we no longer know why we attacking each other, only that the attacks must continue.
Wilson also praises his close friend Dr Timothy Leary for his support during the crisis. He quotes Leary responding to how he copes with all the negative energy being directed at him: “Come back with all the positive energy you have”.
And so, Wilson finishes, “I learned the final secret of the Illuminati”.
It is only by responding to negative energy with positive energy, loving when we are attacked, that we escape the wheel and transcend to another state of existence. This is graphically shown elsewhere by Wilson in his Illuminatus Trilogy when he has the teenage Miss Portinari, named after Dante’s muse, give the most high and secret sign of the Illuminati – a clenched fist, slowly changing into an open palm.
Sometimes I think we all, magicians, pagans, esoteric folk in general need to meditate daily on this high and deep sign. I know I do. I harbour no illusions about my pettiness and egocity. Every day I try to be deeply compassionate, and every day I fail.
This of course is an “open secret”, taught each and every day at the Mass, in countless other venues and by thousands of teachers. Compassion, the art of transforming the negative energy directed to us into positive life affirming energy, is the hidden stone of the wise. Without it we are doomed to simply repeat the ego patterns of our regular lives and change nothing. And yet, this is the hardest, the most difficult thing we can do. To stop ourselves from Yesodic reaction and consciously transform all negativity, to avoid reaction even when attacked, to love when we are hated and give life in the face of death. No easy thing. Which is why, in Christian myth, it takes God (the One, the ultimate All and Nothing) to become fully human to show us through action – ridicule, torture, death and unconquerable love – the truth of this mystery.
You say Osama, I say Obama
I have of course been thinking about these things intensely recently, both because of recent GD blogs and the formation of the Facebook Group, Pray for Osama bin Laden’s Soul. I formed this group, as the blurb says, because I deeply believe that hate breeds hate and the glorification of any killing diminishes humanity as whole. Only love is stronger than death, only compassion greater than hate.
I am about half way through the seven week spiritual process and prayers for the deceased which are focused on the being the world knew as Osama. I continue to pray and work for him to be redeemed in the infinite love of the One. Our prayers for him are also a symbol and focal point of prayers for all who are twisted with hate and violence.
Of course many people are not impressed by these prayers and this group. The peppering of abusive emails has lessened recently, but I still get the occasional one. Interestingly the majority seem to come from white, young, male Americans who often finish their messages with “God bless America”. I respond to most of them with Matthew 5:44 (“love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”) pointing out that Jesus didn’t give a special clause saying, “except Osama”. Many return responses then question my sanity, spiritual purity and especially my sexuality. I find the latter weird, but affirming; I quite like to be mistaken as a member of a marginalised social group in contrast to my white, male, straight privileged existence. One day I hope to be mistaken as being a lesbian, Hispanic, paraplegic Witch with mental health problems 🙂
Seriously though, I find it sad and strange that people who profess to be Christians are capable of such vitriolic hate towards people who are praying and loving as Christ instructs. I mean, you’d think I’d raped their grandmothers or something. Ho hum.
Whereas, realistically I expected such a response from those of exoteric and fundamentalist Christian faith, I did not expect the response I have seen from my esoteric buddies. Basically, in public it is very muted. Privately, through email and Facebook it is fifty-fifty, supportive and negative. It is almost as if no one really knows what they should be saying in public about this issue – to support the group and prayers for Osama or reject them? So they say it in private. Not that there’s anything wrong with that on a individual basis, I guess, though it does remind me of another Seinfeld episode where Elaine thinks she is dating a coloured guy but does not know for sure. “I really, don’t think we should be talking about this” moans George, constrained by political correctness.
I however, think we esoteric folk should be talking about this – about compassion towards our enemies as well as our loved ones, our neighbours and ourselves. It seems to me that all too often we magicians skip over the hard exoteric work for the esoteric. We forgo the injunction to love our neighbours as ourselves for the latest initiatory ordeal or process. We learn to change our astral bodies, our consciousness and our inner selves. We learn to master the elements, the art of transformation, the ascension on the planes and evocation of demonic spirits. Yet, of all these things are actually easier than simple, everyday,compassion for everyone, even those who attack us.
This may explain the number of magical blog posts that display little compassion or forgiveness but are authored by high magical adepts.
Please be clear I am not being self righteous or critical here, merely descriptive. As I said earlier, I am a miserable failure when it comes to daily compassion and have so far to go. I just wish it was a more commonly valorized trait in the magical community, a more required quality and a more pushed for state of consciousness within our magical curricula.
Ultimately, as His Holiness the Dalai Lama constantly explains, compassion is also our best friend and benefits us deeply. It makes us calmer, happier and extends our circle of friendship. Without basic compassion our deepest most profound magical goals, be they service, spiritual development, higher rebirth or the creation of an immortal solar body, will come to naught. Compassion can and does help all our magic and all our life. St Bob in Cosmic Trigger II discovers this after working with his Holy Guardian Angel and hearing a interior melodic voice give the sage advice:
Those who forgive most, live best.