Thursday, November 4, 2010

Is it Surrender? If so, to what?

It seems that the blog-go-round has got a case of Jesus fever, which is cool.

Gordon wrote an excellent piece about his own emerging interest in Christianity that mentioned not only the fact that it can be terrifying, but that the reason for at least part of that terror is the element of surrender in Christianity. As Gordon notes in the post: "A magical worldview leans more toward taking charge and doing things yourself".

This is especially true of modern magic. In fact, the focus on the self has been the overall theme of most of the Magical, New Age, Self-help, and Spiritual movements of the last 150 years. Even when people get involved in traditional eastern religions like Buddhism, they often misinterpret it as being all about self-discovery and self-actualization. We ask ourselves questions like: What do I want to be? What are my goals? What should I do with my life?

In the orgy of self focus it is easy to loose sight of anything larger than our own ego. I mean, there is no self in Buddhism for crying out loud! It totally throws people for a loop when I tell them that Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche wrote "There is NO introspection in Buddhist meditation". Similarly Christianity is not meant to be largely focused on the self, but on God.

The issue is a matter of where we discover our true will or Thelema. In the Lords Prayer, we hear "Genetho Tou Thelema Sou", or "Thy Will Be Done". Theistically minded magicians have, right up unto the present, ended rituals prayers and spells with a statement along the lines of "as long as it does not conflict with your will o lord." This clearly seems like submission to an external authority.

Though this type of submission seems like groveling, it really is not. It is simply an acknowledgement that most of what you say think and do is confused and based on mechanistic reactions, attachments, and aversions that are not healthy. If you acknowledge that there is something underneath all this, than you begin to discover Thelema. Crowleyites think of it in terms of personal true will that is in harmony with the will of the universe itself, and Christians think of it in terms of Gods will. Either way it simply makes sense to say "this is what I want, but what the will of the universe is, is more important, so if it is counter to that, than never mind". After all, your own true innermost will, will not run counter to the universal flow. When I do work with the Sangreal Sodality we still do something like this and I do not feel like I am groveling at all.

When I think in terms of surrender to Christ, I do not see me as a separate being submitting to an external master. I think in terms of surrendering the false veneer of the ego to the true will of God that is inseparable from me.. The kingdom of God is within you, and you are within the kingdom of God.

20 comments:

Frater Serpentis et Aquila said...

This is an *excellent* post and a really great way to describe the nature of that form of "surrender".

Being both a Christian and in a 12 step program has had me confronting what the nature of surrender really means in application. In AA, for instance, the 3rd step is "Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him." This used to make my magickal-mind sore with what seemed to be a serious conflict.

That is until the book later explains that the idea is to operate our Will in line with the Will of the God of our Understanding.

Thanks for expanding on this subject.

Matt said...

I wasn't raised Christian, so I might be wrong on this point, but don't a lot of Christian practices revolve around the idea that one is completely incapable of overcoming the burdens of one's sins without the help of Jesus and (depending on one's denomination) the intercession of a priest? The latter, especially, always did seem potentially disempowering to me.

pen2x said...

Your last paragraph is Pure Gold!
But alas... I'm a Recovering Ex-Christian! You know the baggage that come with it. hehe! :D

I'd rather label it "The Absolute" or "The Supreme Reality" than "God"!

"Surrender" is too submissive word for me...
I'd rather label as Communion, Union, or better yet "Letting Go" like a drop in an ocean consciousness.

-Stephen

My bad for using cheesy mystical poetical image. My inclination for Mysticism is indelibly part of my nature and I can't help it! hehe! :D

Azazm333 said...

why submit to anything other than yourself, not just in the sense of selfish pursuits but well, I think you have to be a strong individual to stand on your own at the risk of loosing attachments if the price for it is loosing yourself.
Everything is natural and synchristic to a person if they pull off everything that you've mentioned but by first accepting that this will always be apart of them in the first place.
People change religions and pantheons to search for something to give an explanation as to the totality of their existence but that will never happen.

And listening to a higher voice is boring. People in my opinion only turn to such things when they are down but it's when they give up looking for something and start taking responsibility for themselves is what I feel to be the only way.

pen2x said...

Azam333... well said on the "taking responsibility" on the last part of your post!

I sort of share your cynical tone in the first part of your post. I know where you're coming from... but...being selfish for me it's not the way. It's a barrier of the "Truth and Freedom" for me!

Selfishness is BS ignorant unconscious bad habit that we've all hypnotized ourselves to be since the day that we we're born plus include our self-preversation instinct in our animal side... the we get selfishness.

I'm not saying be friggin Mother Teresa! We can never be Deities but we can be "Godlike". Plus there's more to you than you! We're all nothing but satellites connected on the "The Absolute".

I know we are a universe unto ourselves but...there's six billion universe out there... that's only on earth. Who the heck are we to call ourselves kings of this planet and of the universe.

I don't believe in a deity anymore... I know shocking coming from an Ex-Catholic! There's got to be a "Source" of all this crazy merry-go-round called life!

I really agree with "give up looking and start taking responsibility"! 100% friggin percent!

I just don't agree with your solipsistic notion into englightenment!

We're all selfish but is it about time we do something different?

I've just realized that selfishness is a blindness and also a nature and a belief that limits us.

I don't want anything that is limiting me. I want to "Be Free!"

That's just my opinion... you don't need to agree with because you're "Free" to do so! ;)

Jason Miller, said...

@Matt: No, not really. Some people see it that way, but its pretty clear that Christ did not see it that way.

I think of Sin in terms of separation from truth/god and Salvation in terms of theosis or becoming God. In this I am much more in line with the Eastern Orthodox church than with the western church.

@Pen2X

I forget his name now, but one of the big theogians of the 20th century suggested that we all use the term "Holy Mystery" instead of God. He felt that the way we thre the word God around implied that we really knew what that was, which we don't.

@Azazm333: Did you even read the post or just see that it was about Christianity and decided to talk some LHP? The whole point of the post is the inseparability of what is behind the mechanistic mind and the concept of God. There is more than just your ego - even a lot of the LHP thinkers have come to that conclusion.

The issue is about transpersonal gnosis. You can accept that the ego is part of the whole and always will be - I agree with you. The question is are you going to submit yourself to the mechanistic whims of the monkey mind ego or cut through it and make the ego subject to what is in the end, your own true self?

pen2x said...

I learned that "Holy Mystery" stuff thru Joseph Campbell and Fr. Anthony de Mello (My favorite Enlightened Priest! Check him out in Youtube!).

I got a conviction... make that a huge hunch about that "Mystery". We cannot know it (cause our puny intellect and ego can't grasp that majesty of that mystery.

You're right! We have to let go our beliefs, our intellect and our selfishness in order to experience that "Eternity" (which I really long for to be consciously united!)

Oh the term "Holy Mystery" is right! God implies... an Old Fart with a Big Long Hair and Mustache who loves the good and the punishes wicked! That's like kindergarden version of the "Divine Mystery" that most people are stuck too. (somewhat includes me too! hehe!).

Transpersonal Gnosis stuff you said... Amen to that! Well said sir! :D

pen2x said...

Oh yeah! The "God is a Mystery" stuff that's from St. Thomas Aquinas!

The 20th century theologian you're referring to... is Pierre Teillar de Chardin? I'm just guessing?

Astrophel said...

Jason,

In the LHP, the idea is to separate what you're calling the "monkey mind ego" from the will of the universe and establish it as a universe unto itself. You say it's inseparable; I say that's a damned dirty lie. The "will of the universe" is not my higher self and never will be.

You like to complain about LHP folks not understanding Christianity, but I don't think you get that it goes far beyond celebrating the ego as part of the whole; it's celebrating the ego as whole unto itself.

Optimystic said...

Great post Jason. You're right about the energy of revival being in the air. I didn't even realize people were blogging about it, but I was right in the midst of it doing fire baptisms all of last week!

Jason Miller, said...

Astrophel,

The question is where does the "self" or the ego begin and end? If you intend to separate it, what are the borders.

We tend to think of ourselves as being contained by our bodies, but if we deconstruct this a bit we can see how silly it is. There is hardly a cell in your body that you had when you were born. Every day you take in food and water that is not part of your body and make it part of your body. At what point does the cheeseburger become you? Every day you expel feces and urine that was in the body? At what point did that stop being you? If you cut off your arm and threw it across the room, are you in two places at once? If not, do you have less self now that you are down an arm? Of course not, which is why when we exhaust the possibility of the self being in the body we turn to the thoughts. “I think therefore I am” and all that.

Of course the thoughts are deeply influenced by the physical brain. I think that everyone can agree that you would not have the same thoughts if I gave you a frontal lobotomy. Of course you probably also would not have the same thoughts if you took a couple hits of LSD. For that matter you would not have the same thoughts if you drank a bottle of scotch as you would if you did not. Following the logic further you can see how the difference between drinking coffee or tea might radically alter your thoughts. If these small physical things can effect the thoughts you have, we need to ask ourselves what else can.

When we look we see that the air we breathe, the water we drink, the neighborhood we live in, the way were raised, the traffic we drive in, the genes we inherited, and the random firing of synapses that impact every single thought that we have can we really say that our thoughts are reflective of a self?

Christopher said...

@Astrophel,

When you say your ego is whole unto itself, which identity within said ego are you referring to? Does it include your cultural conditioning? Does it include your neurotic patterns? Does it contain all the transitory and conditioned aspects of yourself?

I'm not a Buddhist, but I see the wisdom of the Buddhist concept of No-Self just as I see the wisdom in the concept of the Self as in the atman of Hinduism. I see them as both being fundamentally the same because "something" that is No-thing isn't "nothing" it is simply ineffable, undefinable and inconceivable.

However, neither of these things Self or No-Self are my small, conditioned ego self. The many egos I have had (I believe in reincarnation)are perhaps an eternal part of the whole that I am/am-not but surely not the whole thing.

I don't for a minute believe that when we die we blend into some Cosmic Light Undifferentiated Soup. I don't believe anything is ever lost. In other words, I believe enlightenment to be inclusive. The waves return to the ocean simply having seen through the illusion of separation, the waves still have individuality of perspective even if they are all ultimately a single ocean. Its just that the illusion of separation is seen for what it is...illusion.

I don't know if anything can really be said about rarified states of union with Being/Non-Being. How can words even go there?

I think the LHP perspective leads one to cling desperately to the illusion of separation to the detriment of illumination. Plus, I have heard some nasty things about the astral shades of those who clung to hard to their lives/egos. Does anyone really want to be a sad shade clinging to what is lost to him forever?

pen2x said...

Ego or Attachment... is nothing but Emotional Clinging and Identifying with Thoughts, Feelings and Images in your Mind that you thought were "you" and that you also mistakenly thought that it will make you "happy". Which is pure baloney!

LHP'ers mistake selfishness as a path to self-empowerment!

Let them wallow on their own shadows...
I guess they need to have the "worse of things happen to them" before they can see the light...

Duality is but... a Dream House and we're all in it including them...

Or to rephrase that... We are all in God's Dream! Inside his Mind, his Thoughts... We are all made up by him... Sooner or later... He'll wake up! hehe!

Astrophel said...

The self is simply the result of ego-clinging.

Mind is a recursive phenomenon in which the ego clings to itself. Every thought necessarily arises from the perspective of the thinker, and even when turned outward, it only understands others in relation to itself. Though you can "expand your mind", the only thing that's really expanding is self-identification, an "inflated ego" if you will.

To rephrase an old paradox, there is art, but no artist. That there are no true borders between things is the beauty of selfhood; the world is a blank canvas, and the lines can be drawn wherever one wills. Incidentally the mind is incredibly good at creating dualities and boundaries of things. Draw lines, separate things - be the artist of your own universe.

To realise this ultimate freedom but draw no lines for fear of boxing oneself in is madness. A million different paintings of the same scene will never diminish the reality, but in fact CREATE new visions which can be shared with others. Likewise, a million ever-shifting egos only add to the possibilities of existence rather than detecting from some cosmic whole.

Many people acknowledge that the wheel of rebirth is a lovely kaleidoscope and enjoy their bit of it, but only on the LHP do you grasp at *grasping itself*. Reach into the emptiness at the center and turn your own wheel, fuck karma, and define your own reality.

The only limit to the ego is its fear that it does not truly exist, when in actuality, it exists in exact proportion to the objects of its attachment. Love, lust, hate, crave what you will - these define a self most adequately!

Ben said...

In re Astrophel, anyone seen Hayagriva and Vajravarahi 'round here lately? I think they're needed!

Astrophel said...

@Ben: So is that the Buddhist equivalent of "I'll pray for you" because you can't argue with what I actually said?

Jason Miller, said...

Ben, Actually I kinda agree with Astrophel about your remark. His points were not ill conceived or disrespectful, and since this is a blog on magic, there is no issue of "wrong view"

While I do not consider myself LHP, there are a lot of good points to the philosophy and writers that I strongly recommend to people such as Don Webb's books, which I think are excellent for anyone doing practical magic.

@Astrophel I havent responded yet due to time issues. In a nutshell I think we basically agree on the mechanics, just disagree about the best way to work with those mechanics as a spiritual practice.


I would certainly disagree with your synopsis that the LHP is the only path where you grasp at grasping itself, escape karma, and define your own reality. Certainly that is the point of most Tantric paths.

Anyway, more later

Ben said...

I was just being snarky, poking fun in my own cranky way.

And besides, hell, getting turned into Mahakala isn't exactly a bad fate, even if there is an unpleasant period betwixt here and there. :-p

Ben said...

In all seriousness, I've always loved this quote.

http://books.google.com/books?id=Zawye_HLakIC&pg=PR9&dq=%22the+mystical+theology+of+st+denis%22&hl=en&ei=UHzpTLbgNYKs8Aa32-TGCQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CC8Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=block%20of%20wood&f=false

Ben said...

This might be the correct link:

http://books.google.com/books?id=Zawye_HLakIC&lpg=PR9&dq=%22the%20mystical%20theology%20of%20st%20denis%22&pg=PA4#v=onepage&q=block%20of%20wood&f=false