there is no god where I am
What is the difference between Gnosis and Faith? A fellow blogger, ifonlymommy, asked me. “Wouldn’t you rather believe and be wrong ? These are just curiosities and never criticisms as that’s not who I am. I just find so much peace is my faith.” It seems that, at least in this case, the “peace” one gets from having faith is more important than truth. I have faith in many things, that I will draw my next breath, think my next thought. I don’t have faith in a “higher power.” I also don’t yearn for that kind of peace. Gnosis is an actual experience, direct knowledge. No matter how much I bond with others during my lifetime, I was be alone when I die. I mean, everyone is. People can be gathered around your bed. They can be stroking you, speaking to you. But they can’t go through that transition for you. By the same token, nobody can “know” reality for you. It is our responsibility to seek the truth as earnestly as we can. I can’t understand accepting other people’s prefabricated system of faith, in other words, religion, as “truth.” It actually seems a cop-out, a refusal to face the truth.
What does it mean to be “alone” in the universe. Responsibility. It can be scary. But it the fullest experience of life that I know.
Be Here Now, the title of Baba Ram Dass’ (Richard Alpert) book, is also the core of all spirituality. It has nothing to do with worshiping another spirit, “god,” for example. It is about standing still and being completely accepting of reality. When one is truly here now, there is no fear and there is no pain. Not that this is easy. But it is powerful.
I have experimented with banishing pain. It started as mere curiosity. I thought, “Pain is a sensation. What is it about that sensation that makes it ‘bad’?” To find out, I focused on pain I was experiencing, trying to isolate the quality that made it averse. The more I focused, the further away the sensation seemed to move. In the end, I couldn’t feel the pain at all any more. I realized I had discovered a way to eliminate pain. But the concentration must be total. And I couldn’t allow myself to look forward to the pain going away. I had to be committed only to feeling the pain and being open to understanding the sensation and knowing why and if it was “bad.” It isn’t as easy as it sounds and I am not always in a mental state that allows me to do it. But, when I achieve this state of consciousness, it works.
Looking at what is actually happening, I realize that the magick is in my total acceptance of the moment. There must be no part of me that rejects the moment or tries to move away from it. And, from this understanding, I realize that all pain really is is the rejection of the moment. Running away from any experience, is an act of fear. When we run, the thing we are running from pursues us. We must stop short. Turn around and face the thing. That’s all there is to it. Being here now is the ultimate act of courage.
Talk about serendipity. I just saw Dave Asprey’s latest blog about “mindfulness” which, I realize, is exactly what I was talking about above.
The Center for Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts describes it as:
“The intention to pay attention to each and every moment of our life, non-judgmentally.”
A key word there is “intention.” You see, mindfulness isn’t about perfection or reaching some artificial standard. It starts — and continues — with the simple daily decision that you want to become aware of what’s really going on inside you and around you. Once you’re firm in that intention, you just need to make an authentic effort to wake up to what is.
I have practiced WICCA and Ceremonial Magick. But only in finding Chaos Magick did I realize what is at the bottom of all magick. It is focus. That’s all it is. The rituals and ceremonies are all engaged in for the purpose of achieving the right mental focus with which to work one’s will. Chaotes use a lot of asanas. Being absolutely still in mind and body puts one in the here and now. Of course, Aleister Crowley knew that. Chaotes didn’t just invent the practice. In fact, it’s really part of yoga. I tried it at work one time and suddenly was aware of waking up. I was the only awake person in a room full of slumbering others. It was an amazing experience.
FOURTH MASTER: You want to fight me? How can you plan to do it? I don’t have a revolver.
He digs in the sand and pulls out an old rusty revolver that no longer works.
FOURTH MASTER: I traded my revolver for a butterfly net. You’ll have to fight me with your fists.
The Master assumes the comic posture of an oldtime boxer. He challenges El Topo.
FOURTH MASTER: Hit me. Hit me.
He pushes El Topo. El Topo is disconcerted. He decides to strike the old man. But he cannot land his punches. The Master dodges them with magical speed. El Topo becomes impatient. He tries some Karate blows. All of them miss the Master. Desperate, El Topo draws his gun and fires, as the Master picks up his butterfly net. The Master catches the bullet with his net and sends it whizzing back to El Topo. The bullet explodes near El Topo’s black boots. The Fourth Master laughs.
FOURTH MASTER: You see? My net is mightier than your bullets.
The Master stops laughing.
FOURTH MASTER: If you fire again, I’ll return your own bullet into your heart.
El Topo doesn’t know whether or not to believe him. He starts toward him. He tries to fire, but can’t. He knows he’s been defeated. He lets his revolver fall to the ground. The Fourth Master falls to his knees with El Topo.
FOURTH MASTER (gently): How could you possibly have won? I don’t fight. I have nothing. Even if you’d tricked me, you couldn’t have taken anything from me.
EL TOPO: Yes! I could have taken your life.
FOURTH MASTER: My life? It means nothing to me. I’ll show you.
He grabs El Topo’s revolver and shoots himself in the liver.
FOURTH MASTER (gaily): You lose!
Many people in the New Age Movement say, “I am God.” Grandiose? But if every is “god,” it’s not grandiose at all to include oneself in that statement. In Stranger in a Strange Land, Valentine makes that claim on behalf of everyone. Church of All Worlds, which takes Stranger as it’s bible, embraces that notion when every member says to each other, “Thou art God.” Those who have done acid instinctively understand and relate to it. Such a claim, grandiose or not, is anathema to the Abrahamic religions. In fact, it’s heresy. God is this other who is more virtuous and more powerful than people.
What does spirituality have to do with psychopathy? Many people think psychopaths cannot be truly spiritual. We are, as my mother said, “laws unto ourselves.” We don’t connect well with other people and we are out for ourselves. James Reynard, a fellow blogger, wrote, “Do I envy love and friendship? When I’m not busy convincing myself that love is a weakness (it totally is by the way, though that doesn’t mean it’s not worth having), I feel like the loneliest person in the world. I have friends – people I keep around due to aspects of their personality I enjoy – but obviously I can’t really connect with them properly. Sure we can share a joke, or a interest in something or other, or a stimulating conversation, but then they start talking about their feelings, and I’m reminded of what I don’t have.” Yet, Kevin Dutton wrote a book called The Wisdom of Psychopaths. “Perhaps the one stand-alone feature of the psychopath, the ultimate ‘killer’ difference that distinguishes the psychopathic personality from the personalities of most ‘normal’ members of the population, is that psychopaths don’t give a damn what their fellow citizens think of them. They simply couldn’t care less how society, as a whole, might contemplate their actions.” Albert Camus ended his novel, The Stranger, with “With death so near, Mother must have felt like someone on the brink of freedom, ready to start life all over again. No one, no one in the world had any right to weep for her. And I, too, felt ready to start life all over again. It was as if that great rush of Anger had washed me clean, emptied me of hope, and, gazing up at the dark sky spangled with its signs and stars, for the first time, the first, I laid my heart open to the benign indifference of the universe. To feel it so like myself, indeed, so brotherly, made me realize that I’d been happy, and that I was happy still. For all to be accomplished, for me to feel less lonely, all that remained to hope was that on the day of my execution there should be a huge crowd of spectators and that they should greet me with howls of execration.”
Mary Mueller Shutan wrote, “One of the most common experiences on the spiritual path is a sensation of isolation and loneliness. This experience of isolation grows larger the more awakened we are, and can be illusory or a real experience based on having experiences and understandings that not many other people in the world have.”
Jim Tolles, on the other hand wrote, “One of the many feelings that many people who are waking up on the spiritual path have is the sense of being alone. It’s one of the many tricks of the ego, which considers itself a separate entity. It’s one of those funny aspects of waking up that there’s still this quality of being half asleep. So you get it. And you don’t get it at the same time. You feel connected to everything and everyone, but you feel isolated and completely on your own.”
Mary Pranzatelli posted on Facebook, “It hurts to feel separate. We are wired to seek connection and belonging—to feel like we are part of something larger than ourselves. They say it takes a village to raise a child, but I believe it also takes one to sustain an adult. We were not built to live in isolation, hidden behind apartment doors, phone screens, and dead eyes. We thrive when we feel like part of a tribe, when the people we share space with become part of ‘us,’ not ‘them.'” ~Lori Deschene
For the ego to consider itself separate from everything else is very disempowering. Compared to the enormity of the universe, I am weaker than a kitten. But, if I am one with the universe, I am all-powerful. To unite with the All, is to lose oneself, in a sense, or to lose the ego. But, united with the All, one is again Alone.
Separateness and/or unity. Are these things opposites? Or are they one way of seeing the same thing? To truly unite, one loses one’s individual identity but, once that union has taken place, there is no Other.
- Be Here Now by Ram Dass
- Time. Inspired by Steppenwolf and made by me.
- Spiritual Services for the Modern World. Mary Mueller Shutan.
- Mindfulness: Control Your Biology for Free. Dave Asprey