I often find it easier to think about time in terms of space, in terms of the way we can abstract and spatialize time for a number of broadly mathematical operations. I think that’s pretty common, because we are better suited to conceiving of space than we are to conceiving of time. We can use our better grasp of space to ‘sneak up’ on time.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.”—Gospel of John 15:1–4 (King James Version)
I am becoming quite fond of reading the New Testament Kabbalistically. It goes places and it not only makes sense of some personal gnosis, but has served to amplify and intensify the work with it. This particular quote provides an occasion to revisit the topic of idolatry (hardly a new subject here). Read, especially, the sacking of the Temple of Israel in this light (vines show up there, too). Or the story of Job. Vines, channels, fruits. Not one way to read those, but many, some of which intertwine with the Tree of Life.
There is one way to be alive in spirit and that is to be alive as a part of it. If you sever yourself from the whole, then you wither. Though I know it may be hard for some of us who have been inculcated with Christian theology to see, think about this as a statement from before Christianity was ‘Christian.’ Think about it as a statement about direct personal experience between a person and the divine. What do you have?
When I have sat down the last few days to start drafting a post, I find that there is a lot going on in my head at the moment. I will start writing a post about one thing, only to discover it morphing into a discussion of yet another thing. I’m not exactly complaining as it is a little refreshing to have the ideas flowing, but it’s going to take some discipline and work to extract cogent posts from that flow.
In the meantime, here are some of the things that have been setting my thoughts in motion.
I guess I’m still chewing on the tradition and appropriation bone, but there is one more reason that I am suspicious of people getting up in arms about appropriating ‘traditions’ on the internet. The people doing the policing often work hard to firm up the borders of the tradition they are policing, pushing the ‘tradition’ into increasingly dogmatic directions.
This will be a brief post, entertaining strange thoughts.
I have talked a bit about tradition, especially my preference for using the term to refer to a very specific set of historical relationships between living people. I’m sure that seems unnecessarily fiddly to some, but one of advantages of limiting the term is that it exposes more clearly the domain of spiritual experience to which it does not apply, namely the eruption of gnosis.
Okay, so the last post is very “My God … It’s full of stars.” Most of us have had some sense of that in our lives and it doesn’t seem to change much for most, right? If anything, it can be a little bit of a paralytic. If it is all full of stars and wonder, then so is all that we would judge horrible, right? Gilles de Rais is as good as Joan of Arc, Stalin is as good as the Dalai Lama, right?
Well, slow down there, partner. When it all dissolves, there isn’t you or me, Stalin or Joan. Those distinctions are gone for a moment and between all those points, there are only surging spiritual potentialities, not yet falling back into patterns and shapes that can be assigned to individuals of any sort, much less to ethical agents. Good and bad aren’t yet questions we can ask when we properly realize the dissolution into points.
Wave or a particle? Yes, but not at the same time.
As a general rule, we think generally too often. Contrary to some romantic notions of savage immediacy, human beings on the whole seem naturally disposed to conceptual and symbolic thinking. We compare and empathize easily, to the point that it is only a slight exaggeration to say that what we call our self, our ego, is nothing more than the conflation of our being with that tendency and its products. As a corollary, we can with just a little exaggeration say that a ‘culture’ is simply the dynamic organization of this habit and its products.
Recently, Andrew Watt put up a post about geomancy resources he shared with a ceremonial magic 101 Tumblr, in part in response to Gordon’s lament of the fragmentation and erasure of magical knowledge. It is a fine post for the audience, but it seems like the audience is part of the problem underlining Gordon’s lament. It is another ‘101’ affair because, well, the history of fragmentation and erasure leads us to ‘go back to basics’ constantly.
The would-be black savant was confronted by the paradox that the knowledge his people needed was a twice-told tale to his white neighbors, while the knowledge which would teach the white world was Greek to his own flesh and blood. The innate love of harmony and beauty that set the ruder souls of his people a-dancing and a-singing raised but confusion and doubt in the soul of the black artist; for the beauty revealed to him was the soul-beauty of a race which his larger audience despised, and he could not articulate the message of another people. This waste of double aims, this seeking to satisfy two unreconciled ideals, has wrought sad havoc with the courage and faith and deeds of ten thousand thousand people,—has sent them often wooing false gods and invoking false means of salvation, and at times has even seemed about to make them ashamed of themselves. (W. E. B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk, 5)
The color line may seem like an odd thing for a gnostic and spiritualist blog to talk about, but the veil that defines the color line is one of the many that separates us from understanding and enlightenment. And, like Du Bois said, it isn’t just any old veil, but one of the defining veils of our era.
(Have I said this before? If not: while the obstacles to (human) gnosis are common to people regardless of place and time, the degree to which this or that obstacle manifests depends on the historical situation of the gnostic. That includes the gnostic’s personal history, their autobiography if you will, and the network of historical situations from which that autobiography is woven.)
The town may be changed,
But the well cannot be changed.
It neither decreases nor increases.
They come and go and draw from the well.
If one gets down almost to the water
And the rope does not go all the way,
Or the jug breaks, it brings misfortune.
(Hexagram 48, I Ching ; Chinese text here)
I know, Wilhelm is far from perfect, but it is ready to hand and sensible enough. I linked to the Chinese just because I could. I can’t read a lick of it, but it was easy to add the link and easy enough for a reader to take a quick look.