The Witchy Buddhist

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Rave_Buddha
Meanwhile, in my Dad’s office at work.

I am chilling with my father is Siesta Key. That means I have been having a lot of discussions about Buddhism.

My Dad has changed spiritual paths many times in his life, but he’s always been very witchy. Whatever he is, he’s the witchy version of that thing. So now, he’s a witchy Buddhist, and it’s really interesting to listen to him talk about how his magic impacts and is impacted by his Buddhist practice.

When his heart is really in something, he’s playful about it. Hence, the Rave-Buddha pictured left, which sits in his office at work.

The themes over the last few days in our discussions have been fear and anger, equanimity, and the purpose of magic.

I really found all this very interesting, so I thought I would share a few of the ideas that have been kicking around my head as a result.

Quote blocks are stuff my Dad said this week. Following each, I have my own thoughts and commentary.

Cruelty

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Once there was a priest who was about to sacrifice a goat. As he was sharpening the knife, the goat started to laugh.

“Why are you laughing?” the priest asked irritably, “Don’t you know that I’m about to kill you?”

“I’m laughing because I have been born as a goat 400 times, and once I die, I will finally be reborn as a human again.”

Then the goat started to cry.

The priest was satisfied. “Ah, now you understand what’s coming. Your tears won’t save you, goat.”

“No, you don’t understand,” said the goat, “I’m not crying for me, I’m crying for you.”

“Crying for me? Why?” The priest demanded. “You’re the one who is about to die.”

“Before I was a goat,” said the goat, “I was a priest. I sacrificed 400 goats.”

Buddhism understands cruelty not as right or wrong, but instead, as a manifestation of a lack of wisdom, and a source of misery for all parties concerned. There is no sin, there is no redemption, but you always pay for the harm you do to others. Sometimes you pay for it in this life, sometimes you pay for it in the next life. Everything you do to others, you will experience.

The foolishness of ruthlessness and cruelty is something I came to on my own. I suppose I managed to arrive at this conclusion from some combination of nihilism and hedonism. That sounds strange, I suppose, so I’ll unpack that.

In my view, there is no such thing as meaningful accomplishment, from a spiritual perspective.

People strive for recognition and validation, but other people are mostly concerned for themselves. The rush you get from these experiences is short-lived and cannot sustain happiness. It leads to constantly and endlessly seeking attention and always feeling like it isn’t enough. Kinda why social media is a shit-show.

People strive for wealth, but beyond having your basic physical needs met, this is pointless. The wealthiest people tend also to be the pettiest. This is evidence of unhappiness.

People strive for a legacy, but that’s an illusion. The planet’s going to be smashed to powder, and we’re all destined to be forgotten eventually.

People strive for knowledge, but you’ll forget most of your book learning when you die. Even the aggregate knowledge of the world, published on the net, in books and elsewhere, only has as much longevity as the human race, if that.

Unlike my father, I don’t believe that reality is an illusion, perse. I do, however, believe that most of reality is meaningless.

Yet, from the perspective of the soul, kindness and cruelty endure. Whether the memories are conscious or not, we remember love, and we remember kindness that was done to us. We also remember cruelty. Our souls endure forever, and so kindness and cruelty endure forever.

Cruelty leads to unhappiness. Kindness leads to happiness. No striving is worthy that is not in the name of kindness. Civil rights are important because they not only prevent cruelty to the marginalized, but done correctly, the pursuit of them raises the consciousness of those people who would otherwise be cruel, and help them to understand that being cruel never actually improved their lives to begin with. This equity and justice is kindness to both the oppressor and the oppressed.

I seek pleasure in all of its form. Kindness to others is a deep and abiding sort of pleasure, and especially when combined with hospitality, it leads to the best and most pleasant sort of life. That doesn’t mean that I always manage to live up to this ideal. Kindness requires a sort of power over the self which can be hard to hold on to, and sometimes, being kind in certain situations requires wisdom and insight that I lack.

Particularly, all the people who frustrate me because they think that cruelty is clever will learn, eventually, the hard way, that they’re wrong. Trying to remember that when they are hurting people I care about is extremely difficult. But while feeling anger and frustration is understandable under those circumstances, it does not actually empower me to make the situation any better.

Fear and Anger

Wrath-Ceti

If you suddenly found an insect, like Khan’s ear-borer, crawling into your ear, how would you react? You’d be in a panic to stop it from crawling right into your brain.

Anger and fear are not different. They take over your head and they make you easy to control.

Neither anger nor fear has ever improved anyone’s ability to make good choices.

Speaking specifically about power over the self…

When discussing anger, my father likes to talk about “being in conflict with the machinery.” In his words: we know that anger is unpleasant and tends to cause us to be ineffective. We might try to keep our cool so that we can bring our will into being, but we get angry anyway.

In a CM context, control over one’s thoughts is the very first thing that we must master before we can trust ourselves with any heavy-duty magic. The last thing you want to do is turn the amp on your magical power up to 11, and then accidentally start thinking about an Arbecue sandwich. A saying among CM people is, “You can control nothing outside of yourself until you attain mastery over what is inside.”

Hekate recently expressed a differing take on spirituality saying that passion and selfishness are the best path to magical power. So many of you agreed that some even commented, “well, that seems sort of obvious.”

My father, who is really kick ass at scroll magic, has, now and in the past, repeatedly said that the first step in any magical procedure is “to clear your head.” For him, passion is grit in a delicate instrument, and an obstacle to manifestation. In my own experience, passion kicks up loads of energy, but I cannot correlate it with magical success.  In fact, I cannot correlate kicking up lots of energy with magical success, though I certainly know how, if the mood strikes me. All of the things I have brought into being have been in quiet moments of certainty, when I was fully in control of myself. In my head, the analogy of martial combat is tempting. The surest way to lose a sparring match is to lose your cool and start punching and kicking wildly.

In such cases, when two opposing truths present themselves, I feel inclined to reconcile them. Courage is not a lack of fear. It is the ability to act despite fear. To keep the mind clear and controlled while the body is in the throes of passion and ecstasy would seem to be the ideal state, if we reconcile these two opinions. In a few words, to cultivate non-reactive awareness.

Equanimity vs. Self-Grasping

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Sometimes I see myself getting angry. I can’t help it. I notice this the most when I’m driving. Some person cuts me off, and I’m angry. Why did they do that to me?

Behind that is a little voice that I’m not always aware of which is basically saying don’t they understand that I have places to go? Don’t they know who I am?

What did they cost me? Five minutes? If it rained and I was delayed five minutes, I wouldn’t be angry. I realize that this is because I, on some level, acknowledge that rain is being caused by someone bigger than me, and I’m not about to go upstairs and start an argument with that person.

But in either case, the rain, or the person cutting me off — it’s not about me.

Part of controlling anger is realizing that not everything is about you. It’s understanding that there are more important things in the universe than you.

Wow, that one cut deep.

Particularly, I immediately thought about witch wars and the phenomenon of magical attack.

I’m not denying that some people do get attacked. I know of certain cases where that’s probably the most plausible explanation. But the number of times when there was no magical attack, just a person wildly self-grasping, and then lashing out in ritualized anger, is sort of breath-taking.

One person I knew accidentally backed their car into a bicycle and got a scratch on their bumper, and asked me to do a reading on what god, spirit, or mortal magician had cursed them. Or maybe you weren’t paying attention, and you just made a mistake. 

Another had a very, very old animal companion get sick, and asked me who had done it. Or maybe the animal is old, and all living creatures have their time. 

Still other people have demanded to know why the gods have not chosen them for leadership. Or maybe you’re just better at other things. Leadership is a very particular skill set. Maybe just focus on your yoga, Karen. 

Then there was the lady who told me that she had to keep her hair braided because her enemies were looking to take strands of her hair, and an oracle told her so. When I asked her why she thought she was under attack, she referenced about four things that were really common occurrences for middle class people in Silicon Valley. Yes, Miss Selenite Wolfstar, living here sucks. It’s not about you, and braiding your hair won’t fix the fucked up economy here. 

To be the focus of divine wrath, magical attack, the attentions of the Fae, or the intentional slights of four hundred drivers on the road, you need to be very damn important. Even Evil Eye presumes that loads of people are looking at you with envy.

In fact, MOST of our horrible drama stems from self-grasping. And why shouldn’t it?

Witchy people tend to have very little in the way of practices which build equanimity (fancy word for keeping your cool in stressful situations). No job? Spell. No lover? Spell. Need better house? Spell. Not enough respect? Spell.

Where are the widespread conversations about self-improvement? The closest we ever get to acceptance is saying that the gods did this to us. Instead of praying to the gods for patience, courage, or solace, we roll around like rolling pins, saying that the gods don’t have to be kind.

Equanimity-building practices don’t have to be Buddhist. Praying to Ares is a good way to conquer fear and anger. Praying to Hermes is a good way to build empathy and patience. We have all the tools we need, we just tend not to use them.

And while I am all in favor of having a strong sense of self, the delusion that everything is about your own plight, your own story, your own faith, your own importance is toxic.

Any path to happiness that relies on having your own way all the time is going to end in tears. Because you can’t.

The Purpose of Magic

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I look back on my years of journaling and the things I’ve brought into manifestation, and I wonder if I haven’t wasted my gifts.

I look back on my life, and on my journals, and with the exception of getting divorced from your mother, it all went exactly as I said it should. And I just wonder if I asked for the wrong things.

I’m not sure what I should have done instead, but I’m thinking about it.

All I know is that at the end of it, the thing that matters most is other people. Family and friends. Everything else is an illusion.

A perennial interest of mine is vulgar manifestation. Right now, I’m a little obsessed with teleportation because I have a lover back in Cali that I would really rather have by my side every weekend, even if they need to be at work Monday through Friday.

And I want to help deities to physically manifest more strongly and more easily because… well… godspouse. And I get a little frustrated on my god-husband’s behalf when I hear him say things like, “BRT, gotta distract the entire universe.” Or worse, “Can’t. Too many psychic eyeballs. Any interest in doing sex with a random street person?” (BTW: No. I have no interest in doing sex with a random street person)

So, though my aims seem pretty damned frivolous on paper, I feel relatively gratified that most of them are motivated by love. Way to Light-Side, Thenea.

But when I shared some of these thoughts with my father, he shook his head. “You’re 40,” he said, “You don’t have the perspective I have. A lot of this is going to seem trite in thirty years.”

35 comments

  1. As a “witchy Buddhist” myself, I really appreciated this post! American Buddhists tend to practice an extremely secular version of Buddhism, so it’s nice to hear from someone with a different flavor. I also relate to your “combination of Nihilism and Hedonism”, a hard paradox to explain.

    I believe a lot of people’s interpretation of deities as promoting anything except equanimity, in general, is a false understanding of what purpose myths serve. Just because a god goes about raping and killing does not mean it’s a literal lesson, and that goes equally for gods people insist on interpreting negatively, like the Norse. (I interpret deities as something like “dharma protectors”, but that personal view isn’t necessary, of course.)

    1. I dunno what to make of Polytheists who are literally proud of worshiping cruel-hearted gods. They revel in it. I don’t get it. I say things like, “how could anyone benefit from such a path?”

      They’re always quick to tell me that spiritual benefit isn’t the point.

      I don’t think that people like you and I are equipped to understand their philosophy.

      I feel certain, however, that those people are in the extreme minority. They just seem more numerous because we talk about them so much. And how could we not? They’re so weird…

      1. Are their gods actually cruel-hearted or just ruthless? The parable of the 400-goat priest and the mention of Dharma Protectors (some of whom are quite ruthless) makes wonder if what we are seeing is someone embracing a deity who is putting them through a spiritual crash course for balancing their karma.

      2. I dunno. They tell me that their gods are ruthless. If someone works with beings I don’t work with, I tend to take their word for what those beings are like.

        I don’t know what to think about a deity balancing a person’s karma for them. If someone said to me, “I’ve asked this deity to help me suffer through all the pain I have put other people through, so that I can learn to empathize with the people I have hurt,” sure. That seems like a thing that could happen.

      3. Although, as for me, I don’t believe in karma. I believe in natural consequences. Like, if you bite your friends, you won’t have any. Or, if you conquer people, trust that they’re looking for a way to put your head on a chopping block. Like, when you cross over, you’ll have to spend enternity answering to the people you killed, or hurt, and their ancestors.

        That stuff happens automatically, and I don’t think having a deity kick your butt around in a circle is going to magically make the souls you wronged forgive you.

      4. I guess “automatically” is the wrong word. What I mean is that you don’t really need a deity to administrate it.

      5. Since I’ve spent a few years now following a god who one could argue is known for “ruthlessness”, maybe my perspective will be helpful.
        Set is the Egyptian god of violence, chaos, and destruction. His principal myth is the one where he killed his own brother for the throne, and then spent over 80 years battling his nephew for said throne before finally being overthrown. The most longstanding of his character traits, moreso even than hedonism or rash behavior, is anger. Many kemetics are afraid of him, even though for most of this pantheon’s history, he was not considered “evil”, and was in fact the strongest slayer of A/pep, the demon serpent that the gods battle every night to keep the world from being consumed.
        Set has taught me how to manage my anger and desire for destruction; how to not be afraid of it, not ignore or repress it, but to use it *constructively* rather than lashing out at others. He says that violence is sometimes an unpleasant necessity, because the alternative is to stand by while much greater violence is done, when you could have stopped it. He says that trying to eliminate all anger and destructive impulses only causes worse destruction and chaos in the long run.
        However, he has also never let me get away with taking my anger out on others or on myself. He insists that I be honest with why I am actually angry and take responsibility for my emotions and actions.
        Finally, his propensity for violence makes him a fierce guardian and leader for the people who choose to follow him.
        Those are some reasons why people may benefit from following “cruel” gods, but then, most of the people who go around bragging about how mean their gods are, just want to feel badass by association. Or feel that their cruelty is justified because that’s how their god is. I tend not to think very highly of them.

      6. As someone who also participates in Setian devotion, I appreciate hearing your perspective. M experience of Him thus far has been similar.

      7. Set sounds a lot like Ares, in this respect. But that’s definitely not what I mean by “cruel-hearted deity.”

        For every adversity that humans experience, be it disease, mental illness, war, childbirth, death, or anything else, there is a deity who knows about that thing in particular, and that is always the deity you want by your side when you have to go through whatever it is. They’re the experts, right?

        I’m talking about those deities whose followers and priests tell me that their god rapes people in the community, possesses them against their will, and intentionally and physically injures them to break their will. And they continue to worship those gods anyway.

        I cannot wrap my head around how a person can feel devotion for such a being. Does not compute.

  2. I’m really happy to hear about your dad wandering around in different paths and traditions. I do that and it’s nice to hear of someone older than me doing it too. Similar to your dad maybe, I’ve had to look outside paganism for teachings on compassion, equanimity, balance, and forgiveness. This is ok but you do make a good point that we need to start having these conversations!
    These musings are great. I feel like I’ll want to come back to this post…

    1. My Dad is one of the wisest and most powerful magicians I know, in no small part because he is looking for the truth literally everywhere.

      In fact, he’s a scientist, too!

      I think I may try to think about equanimity-building practices that are drawn out of Hellenic Polytheism.

      1. Hi Thenea. Has your father looked for truth in the bible? Jesus in the gospel of John 8:32 states “The truth will make you free” meaning God’s teachings (not mans). Once we know God’s truth and receive Him into our hearts, we stop looking elsewhere. We don’t realise how much we have missed God until we find Him 🙂

      2. Listen, my father is Italian. He grew up Catholic and went to every church in existence, including an Evangelical church, before settling on Buddhism.

        Christianity can be a valid path for some people. I’m really glad it’s working for you. But Christianity and the Bible aren’t for everyone. Some people just become pushy, judgmental and cruel when they try to follow that path. Some people find their awesomeness in Christianity. Sometimes, however, Christianity makes people miserable. And people who are miserable are cruel.

        I believe Christians have a saying, which is, “by their fruits shall you know them.”

        To that end, I want to point to the deep corruption, bigotry and hatred that result from only following a religion because you fear damnation, or because you think there aren’t other valid options. This is a problem in many faiths, Christianity included.

        I speak with lots of people who think as you do, who believe that submission to divine will and strict adherence to the source text will bring spiritual fulfillment.

        If you are on a Pagan blog putting in a plug for your religion, I doubt that it’s me you are trying to convince.

        You won’t win very many people here. While I personally have no qualm with Christianity, most people who follow a Pagan or Polytheist path specifically left Christianity because the “truth” of the Bible, and the ministry of that faith, didn’t do right by them. The teaching of your Bible brought them misery, pain, tears, shame, and in many cases, was accompanied by bullying or abuse.

        I recommend that instead of clinging to the “truth” of the Bible, you instead lean in to the teachings of Jesus, whose liberating message was that friendship and love were all that any path needed in order to attract adherents.

        To paraphrase Ghandi, true religion never needs to proselytize. A rose does not need to boast of it’s perfume. It gives forth, and people are simply drawn to it.

        If you need to push something onto people, it’s not drawing them in.

        I get wanting to build your religion. That makes sense. But maybe try to do so by turning around and looking into your Church. Ask yourself, “Why don’t people want to be here? Why are people uncomfortable here? Why are people leaving?”

      3. Thank you for responding. Your father having grown up in the RCC will have a distorted view of Christianity – since the RCC is not actually Christian. We can learn this from reading Daniel and Revelation.

        I am an ex occultist where I was for decades, since childhood. No-one enticed me to become Christian, I asked some questions of God one day and He answered me very clearly as to the truth – Jesus is the only way to heaven just like he boldly states.

        You say people leave the faith and yes people leave churches however no true born again Christian ever comes away from God, they are purely strengthened in faith over time.

        There are so many dire churches (as Jesus predicted there would be in end times), it has taken me a while to find a good one, I was close to giving up on church attendance. I understand the struggle with that. If someone went to one bad evangelical church and it put them off, I get it. But… we are called to have a relationship with God first and foremost even it if means not attending any church at all and prayerfully studying the bible for ourselves.

        Many do not want to follow Christ as they fear giving up worldly stuff yet when we commit to following Christ we genuinely are not interested in it like we once were, because hearts are renewed (John 15.19). I am not here to push my “religion” since following the one true God is not a religion (religion is of the adversary to lead people away from God). I happened upon your post and asked a question out of personal curiosity and yes of course, to plant a seed. I cannot convert anyone! Only God changes hearts.

        Many who say they are against Christianity have not studied the gospels, they know a few quotes here and there only and so do not get a full and accurate picture of the man Christ Jesus and what he actually teaches. I would invite people to read Matthew, Mark, Luke and John for themselves with an open mind.

        Not one other spiritual man/guru died on a tree for us in such a painful and humiliating way so why give anyone else glory and attention and miss out on eternal life?

        Have a good week.

      4. You know, it’s generally not considered polite to come into someone else’s house, and tell them that you know how they should behave better than they do. Thenea has been *far* more polite to someone who could best be described as an interloper than I ever would have been if this were my blog. You are being intrusive and rude. Your religion works for you, great! Your religion doesn’t work for *many* of us here, and quoting your “holy book” at us has no impact other than piss many of us off. Please leave us alone.

      5. LOL don’t worry about it. It’s been a long time since I’ve had the opportunity to talk to a Christian proselytizer, and I’m kind of enjoying it.

        It’s no threat to *my* spirituality. And it’s no threat to anyone else’s spirituality in Paganism or Polytheism. We all chose our path in the face of armies of people preaching Bible or Quran at us, and we adhered to our paths because it was better to have our friends and family disapprove than to face the spiritual misery our former religions would have saddled us with for life, and maybe eternity.

        So many people I know literally looked at their Christian/Jewish/Muslim spirituality and thought, “I cannot do this anymore. I need to change religions or I would be better off dead.”

        I was there! I lived a life based on the Bible for YEARS. It was soul-crushing! But I feared god, and I thought I was doing “true religion” and so I faked happiness, and argued against other religions. I came close to suicide at least once. If Hermes and Apollon hadn’t saved me from that nonsense, I might not be here.

        Being forced, because of fear, to adhere to a spirituality that does not speak to your soul is a fate worse than death.

        Let the bible-thumpers come. What are they going to do but stand there and remind us of all the reasons their religion could never work for us?

      6. I know. But I too spent a whole lot of years in that “believe or you will burn” world, and it’s left more than a few scars. My siblings believe very strongly that I should burn, because I’m an inherently evil person, simply because I do not believe what they do. And to be honest, seeing that kind of proselytizing the very first thing in the morning doesn’t do great things for my mood.

      7. God shows us how to behave, not I. I have not come in rudeness as can be plainly seen. Public blogs are there open for comments from anyone are they not?

      8. It’s actually MY blog. Mine, personally.

        And calling someone’s gods demons is definitely rude. I never called your deity a demon. I only said his path wasn’t for everyone, a point you couldn’t accept.

        If Christianity was for everyone, everyone would follow it. They don’t, and it is not.

      9. Ahhh yes. “They misunderstood the holy text so the got the wrong version of the deity.” I hear that from a lot of Polytheist who try to wave off people not having great experiences with their deities’ clergy, too. You know the RCC says the same thing about you guys, right? Everyone just pointing the finger at everyone else saying they’ve got the wrong version of the deity. It looks pretty silly from the outside.

        You need no bible, or holy text, nor any church at all if the gods walk with you. You need no scripture if your every need is fulfilled from their divine hands. You need do no boasting if they have filled your life with contentment and peace.

        You invite me to read scripture? I invite you to come to the crossroads and to prayerfully call out the name of Hermes, the god of the flocks, of joy, and of words, with an open mind and an open heart. He also promises a pleasant afterlife to those who call on him, and a peaceful death, besides. But moreover, he stands with people in life, too, dispensing kindness. Present tense.

        I’ll give your god an honest second chance if you’ll give an honest first chance to mine. How does that sound? I’m a Polytheist. I have no fear of approaching deities I don’t worship. But I’ll only do it if you do. Tradesies. And if you say no, then here is what you must admit to yourself: you only follow your god because you fear damnation, not because you truly love him.

        Love and fear cannot live side by side. A husband who beats you doesn’t love you. He loves himself and his pride. A parent who beat you to “teach” you only did so because they ran up short on patience and the power to communicate, and their failure is evident in the deceit of their children. A deity who needs to frighten people into compliance is a fool. The power you gain over others through fear is always temporary.

        As an aside: why do Christians always talk about torture and humiliation like it’s a good thing? I get that it’s a part of your mythos, but like… do you not understand how bad that sounds to people outside of your faith? This is not the best aspect of your sales pitch.

        It sounds a little like this, “I worship Bran because his head got cut off and buried in the ground while it was still alive .” — Going out on a limb, but you probably aren’t going to run out and look up Bran just because I told you something bad happened to him.

        Also, Jesus was nailed to a cross, because that was how Romans executed people. So, loads of people died in the identical way that Jesus did. And Odin also sacrificed himself on a tree for truth and wisdom. Literally a tree.

        Here is what I care about: what, present tense, is your god doing to make the world a better place? Whose suffering is your god alleviating, right now? If I recommend your god to others, will he answer their prayers, help them up out of poverty, heal their physical illnesses?

        Whom do you personally know who has experienced a miracle, lately? Does your deity continue speaking in the modern day, or did he stop speaking after the “New Testament.” And if he’s not speaking to you, how do you know that he actually likes your religion and wants to be around you? Our gods are still on speaking terms with us. They are still helping us and saving us through miracles.

        Also, it really sounds, from what you are saying, like Jesus really let his cultus get out of hand. Seriously, people pray to him, get the wrong deity, and he hasn’t fixed that? Or are the rituals of the various churches more powerful than the name of your god?

        Just some points to think through, from a PR perspective.

      10. Jesus was nailed to a tree, like many. But who else rose up from the grave? No more looking into false gods and false ways for me thank you. I love God and do not come to Him out of fear. I don’t know any Christian who came to God out of fear, it does not work like that. There will be no more suffering in the afterlife for those who follow God. Throughout the bible He has kept His promises so there is no doubt of this one being kept as detailed in Revelation. Yes, I know of miracles, including within my life and my own mother was healed of cancer after being near death in hospital – doctors amazed. She was healed through the power of prayer and fasting of disciples – she was not a Christian herself at the time. God speaks, He has spoken to my many times. And to others. He did not stop after the NT. Of course not. I am not sure what rituals in church you speak of and getting the wrong deity? A little confusing. There is only one Jesus – Jesus of Nazareth, the son of God so I do not know of what you speak. God warns time and against the worship of false gods (demons) not to domineer but to protect us. The choice is ours.

  3. I appreciate you sharing this very much! Interesting fodder for further consideration, certainly…

    The only thing I have some reservations about is the idea–from anyone who says it–that “you’ll understand when you’re older” and so forth. I think that only truly applies to children under 10; certain people, by virtue of their own inherent abilities of comprehension or their own experiences and the cognitive necessities that come with them, end up being able to understand certain things earlier than others. There are some 15 year olds who understand certain matters that people in their 50s will never understand for all sorts of reasons, etc. It always feels dismissive in my view for an older person to say “this won’t matter to you with a little bit of perspective.” One can only deal with one’s situation where one is at a given moment, and one’s age and current mental/intellectual capabilities are a part of that. It actually feels a bit “non-Buddhist” to me to suggest something like that, since a great deal of Zen (at least, which is a form of Buddhism, whether one likes it or not!) has to do with dealing with things in the present moment, and often one can’t ignore certain things, and thinking “this won’t mean as much in 5, 10, 20, or 40 years” doesn’t make it go away now. (Dealing with the student loan people, for example? Yes, this episode won’t mean much in 30 years, but right now, it’s the difference between misery and limited immediate options and temporary lack of financial stress on this particular issue, etc.!)

    The concerns of an age are the concerns of that age, whether of a human’s age in their lifespan, or of a wider generation of people on the earth, or a larger cosmic age, etc. Just as it seems callous and not very kind to say “The people who have lost everything in the fires in California aren’t here where I am, and I’ve lost nothing, so that isn’t really important to me,” especially if one of them calls one up and says “This is what I’ve just been through,” so too does it seem similarly callous (often with the implication that “I have wisdom you don’t, ha-ha, look at me being wiser than you!”) to remark in such a way on the concerns of someone who is suffering from whatever-thing-it-might-be at a given moment, no matter how minor it may seem in the greater perspective. Really, none of our lives mean anything in the greatest possible schemes, and yet is that a reason to just throw up one’s hands and not try, not care, not take things seriously?

    I may be overreacting to this, but it’s just where my thoughts went…my apologies for getting carried away! 😉

    1. No worries.

      For the most part, I think you’re right. Although in my father’s case, I think he sees my spirituality along similar lines as his own. He’s not basing this off if nothing. He’s known me my whole life.

      And actually, I think he sees me making mistakes similar to those mistakes he made earlier in his life.

      A part of this is retro-fitting facts to fit his understanding, and I’m saying that mostly because my mystical work isn’t something he has a framework to understand. But.

      If there is one person I think I can tolerate being paternalistic toward me, it’s my actual father.

  4. Thanks for posting this! I’ve been catching up on the most accessible (accessible to me, anyway) readings about alchemy by Carl Jung and Marie-Louise von Franz. Apart from their being children of the times, and that they can’t seem to resist throwing shade at Rosicrucians for no reason that I could discern, I think it’s unfair that their angle on the occult has been broadly misrepresented as “merely” psychological, because from my interpretation von Franz came off as overly worried about people working with dreams and imagination because it could be used in a witchcraftsy way instead of a navelgazing way, and one major effect of doing witchcraft successfully (without any doubt from von Franz that it would be witchcraft, and effective witchcraft at that,) is that witches backslide further into a lack of consciousness regarding our own souls. When the designated problem is outside of the self, and witchcraft fixes that problem right up, then there’s no need for personal development—which, I think to these superstitious psychologists, seemed a tragic waste of commitment that could be directed to something helpful.

    Of course I disagreed and became frustrated that a contemporary of theirs (Barbara Hannah, Encounters with the Soul) wrote so casually about physical time travel in corporeal waking life, and the seemingly material intervention of a Mother Goddess Archetype…and Hannah didn’t pursue the material science of it, because those just so happened to be what happens when one serves the healing of the psyche; weird uncanny stuff happens, but it came off to me like their attitude was more of…if it doesn’t help their patients then it’s not worth pursuing.

    What I’d meant to ask was, with everything you’ve studied and your parent as well, would you say there is a body of knowledge of Far Eastern Alchemy? Because while von Franz’ historical contextualization for that lineage has been helpful to me getting a grasp of it (even if I haven’t checked how outdated those histories might be), it’s comprehensive with regard to Kemetic, Arabic, and then medieval Christian Alchemy…but then these Jungians also involve mandalas and a reputedly mistranslated Secret of the Golden Flower that came off to me as a non-sequitur in the first place. Maybe they found some schema similarities in the concepts conveyed in those texts, and Jungians seemed to take for granted that there’s a collective consciousness from which archetypal information emerges through people no matter how isolated from each other, but if I may be stiff-necked about it wondering if there’s any cultural and historical grounds for Jungians linking Alchemy and Buddhism?

    (It’s okay if there isn’t, though. I don’t have a lab full of glassware and crucibles of molten metal—when I say I do Alchemy, I mean it’s as psychological as it is spiritual, and it’s only like that because of my own bias towards what have become my go-to texts. The essence does seem to be, to focus on transforming self.)

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