Archive for the 'newage' Category

Jul 16 2014

This Isn’t About YOU…

Some background:

I am not a psychologist. I am not a psychiatrist. I have a pretty solid knowledge base on things like Borderline and Narcissistic Personality Disorders – things I learned about the hard way. I am also pretty well-versed in Jungian thought, and have a reasonable understanding of Freud.

I have one of a handful of certifications in Dream Studies from an accredited university.  I have studied various dream work traditions, have written countless papers on dreams, written a three hundred page thesis on visitation dreams from the dead, covering the complete history of the phenomenon as viewed by anthropology, psychology, parapsychology, spiritual and religious traditions, and phenomenologically. I have presented my research at conferences and other speaking events.

I also suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, due to the above-mentioned hard-won knowledge of Borderline and Narcissistic Personality Disorders, as well as the complicated birth of my son, and the resulting issues that came with it (short version – almost lost him and his mother multiple times, he was born 10 weeks early, and spent a fair amount of time in the NICU, where if I wasn’t keeping track of his issues, I was also witness to the insanity of a multitude of issues for a number of other premature infants). We won’t even go into what my wife went through from this.

That’s her story to tell.

The meat of the matter:

Lately, I’ve noticed a  troubling pattern of behavior (I’d say “problematic” but I really hate that word in its current usage) occurring in a number of circles I travel in. Someone will ask for advice or help with a situation they have on hand.

People’s responses will make no sense.

“I’m having a problem with ____________ in my life, and I don’t know how to handle it. I could really use some advice.”

will often be met with

“Just accept that this is what the universe wants for you right now.”

“breathe!”

“You just need to set your intentions properly!”

etc.

Meanwhile, the person asking the advice is getting no advice on how to deal with his very real, very visceral, actual problem. Instead, he is given a litany of prefabricated affirmations that don’t help him, but instead reaffirm the belief systems of those making them. “Please help me with some ideas” is now being responded to with reminders to him, and those making them, that one must believe certain things.

This is equivalent to the Jehovah’s Witnesses I once saw in Berkeley trying to get people to take Watchtowers while systematically ignoring the homeless camped out right next to them.

The platitudes, I believe, are directed more at the person making them, than the person soliciting advice. “Oh shit, bad things happen, I better remind myself that I shouldn’t go there, because my etheric body might be bruised.”  I’m not entirely sure this is a conscious process. I think, after a while, it becomes habit.

Tonight’s source of frustration (and, really, I do want to get this site back on track away from bitching about everything at some point), is a discussion wherein someone I presume to be a therapist solicited advice about helping a client who just gave birth, whose child is in the NICU, and who is having nightmares.

Hmm.  Do I know something about this?  Maaaaybe.

Originally, there weren’t many details. One person already had it figured out, though:

“I could almost guarantee that she’d be picking up on the energies in the hospital.”

So I asked for more information.  This is how I learned that things like the NICU were involved. After I found some of this out, I provided some of the background from above, and suggested:

“I know my wife and I have been dealing with PTSD for 2 and a half years now as a result of our own situation (kiddo is fine, btw), and still occasionally have nightmares dealing with material from that time. This could be a bit of a ride for her. Unfortunately, I’d say it’s also normal. I’d say deal with the trauma at hand, and don’t look for external stuff (hospital energies), otherwise you’re just avoiding what needs to be dealt with, and what is right in front of everybody’s nose.”

For still other people, the solution to the problem was simple.

“Theoretically, I would expect more permeable psychic boundaries when ill. And just imagine all those sick people with their bodies dreaming, a tapestry of pathological images that get muddled together. The chance of tapping into the images of others seems highly probable.”

and

“just the energy alone in a hospital, a place where people are usually ill and feeling their most vulnerable!”

and, my favorite:

“My personal experience of being in a hospital ER for a wasp sting last summer is that I left with lots of attachments – people who passed through the ER and hospital. As an energy worker and shaman I employed a friend to assist me and together we cleared the energies. This lady might want to work with someone to check and clear attachments.”

These types of responses seemed to become the norm, and I realized that nobody’s actually listening or taking into consideration the very real needs of the woman having the nightmares. Instead, what everybody was more interested in, was how badass of a “healer” they could be, because they could do things like be sensitive to energies, and clear them.

These things are great, and all, and I’ve seen some really amazing work done in this regard.

However, I think this may not be the time or the place to get excited about swooping in like the Shamanic Avenger and cleaning out the residual “hospital energies” that someone is inadvertently tuning into.  I’m sorry, but “I got stung by a wasp and I’m a shaman” does not qualify you to accurately assess this situation.

At this point, I felt compelled to try to steer this conversation back to the general vicinity of helpful:

“Not to be a colossal dick about this, but when you’ve just given birth, and your baby is in the NICU, “hospital energies” are the least of your problems, worries, or concerns. If someone had brought this up to either my wife, or myself at the time (and believe me, we’re both actually rather sympathetic to things of this nature), we probably would have punched them. If you want to go there with this person, great. But I would only do so after you’ve exhausted the angle of helping her work through the trauma. Otherwise, you’re avoiding the obvious, and ultimately doing the person no good.”

It was too late.

They all agreed that this woman’s nightmares and birth trauma were “a privileged time for dreaming” (not in the “check your privilege” sense), and her dreams are probably amazing, and wow, isn’t it great that the original poster would be able to witness them! (okay, I’m extrapolating that last part). The decided upon solution was to clear the psychic attachments that the woman had picked up from the assorted hospital energies.

I’m a little let down, if not unsurprised that rather than actually dealing with the difficult issue of this woman and her nightmares, the real interest lies more in reaffirming the particular world views of those offering the advice. “I believe in energies, and how they affect us so let’s avoid looking at trauma – because that’s scary – and offer some sort of vague externalized reason for the discomfort and pain that this person is feeling, rather than actually help them.

Becoming a psychotherapist, becoming a dream worker, even, is a seductive thing. You get to dress up and be a superhero or call yourself a shaman and feel all tingly in your etheric body. YOU HAVE POWER TO HEAL (or something).

Maybe I’m old fashioned, but going out and helping others is about them – not you. Going out and helping others, should benefit and aid them, not stroke your ego for how awesome and enlightened and powerful you are.

Because if it is, you have no business being in the business.

You help no one.

People have tried to use this approach with my wife, and with me.

It doesn’t help.

And as I said.

It just made us want to punch people.

Update: A thought has come to me this morning, which is that if one is going to posit such things as “hospital energies” and tapping into the collective traumas of those around you, would not the “healing energies” provided by the doctors, nurses, and staff have any counter-balancing effect?  Or is there a subtle suggestion that these dream-working “healers” are far superior to such things as western medicine?

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Apr 11 2014

New Age Bullshit Generator

The New Age Bullshit Generator recently crossed my path.

I don’t know what’s worse.  How devastatingly accurate it is, how much it sounds like things I’ve heard people actually say, or the fact that I understand a lot of the randomized silliness it comes up with.

Like a mouse pushing a lever to get a pellet, I could probably keep reloading the damn thing for days.

An example:

This life is nothing short of a blossoming unifying of zero-point divinity.

By deepening, we exist. Faith is the driver of karma.

We are being called to explore the quantum soup itself as an interface between energy and choice.

It is time to take inspiration to the next level. This myth never ends. It is a sign of things to come.

The future will be an ethereal evolving of faith. The revolution of truth is now happening worldwide. Imagine an evolving of what could be.

Soon there will be a condensing of growth the likes of which the totality has never seen. Eons from now, we messengers will heal like never before as we are aligned by the totality. We must learn how to lead zero-point lives in the face of suffering.

If you have never experienced this rebirth devoid of self, it can be difficult to exist. Lifeform, look within and synergize yourself. It can be difficult to know where to begin.

We must bless ourselves and inspire others. Although you may not realize it, you are joyous. How should you navigate this ethereal solar system?

Enjoy!

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Jan 20 2014

Arguing from Weakness

A recent discussion on Facebook about the second Hobbit movie, to me, illustrates a fundamental flaw in the logic of those who would argue that the “holistic” lifestyle is inherently superior to the Big Bad Newtonian-Cartesian-Dualistic-Masculine Paradigm.

A woman in the comment thread had this to say about the movie:

I might have enjoyed the movie more if it didn’t feel like an onslaught to my etheric body…I had to walk out a few times – too big a screen for so much evil make-up and violence. I might thoroughly enjoy it on my home flat screen thou [sic] – it’s smaller.

An assault on your etheric body. Really?

This provoked the next logical question from me:

Shouldn’t one’s etheric body be strong enough to handle something as mundane as a movie?

I’m troubled by this idea that as one becomes more “in tune,” or “enlightened,” or ” in touch” or “aware” or whatever you want to call it, the world around them becomes increasingly intolerable.

During my time in grad school, I lost count of how many times I heard things like “oh, I can’t watch violent movies anymore” or “television is too overwhelming for me” or “I can’t meditate in that classroom that’s right next to the road – there’s too much noise!”

The person whose etheric body was being assaulted by Peter Jackson informed me that she had had a dream about the detrimental effects of movies and television on one’s etheric body, and that “as a dreamer…” (I just love that phrase, let me tell you), she had a special understanding of these things (or something – either she has since removed her comments or blocked me, can’t imagine why). This prompted me to ask her the following, to which I am still awaiting a response:

Thich Quang Duc

Thich Quang Duc

I see. Obviously, I know nothing of such things. It just seems to me that if one were to argue that they are so in tune with themselves and the universe, and one were to offer, as your website claims, knowledge that empowers and promotes personal growth, that one would hope that after 20 years, one would be able to weather such things as a make-believe film with “dark” imagery a bit more strongly. Otherwise, I can’t really see how this is all that desirable as “growth” or “empowerment” – if the resulting sensitivity that one attains doesn’t allow one to function as easily in the mundane world around oneself to such an extent that they find movies or presumably television, etc. to be such potentially crippling experiences. Put another way, if one were to look at the example of Thich Quang Duc (please, Google him, if necessary), I would suggest that the level of spiritual growth and strength he was able to attain may be more indicative of and desirable in terms of “growth” and “empowerment” than the kind you are promoting. But hey, to each their own. How is it “strong” and “empowered” to be so severely buffeted by the world around you? Just doesn’t seem that way to me. But again, what do I know?

Her website in question (I will refrain from linking it, because even though I’m a dick, I’m a polite dick) promotes her as someone “with almost 20 years of teaching women’s spirituality & personal growth.”

Too often, I am seeing weakness being marketed as strength. If your brand of enlightenment endangers me, or advocates anything less than the full embracing of life, and what it has to offer, then I fail to see the point.  Speaking from experience (my never ending desire to please a psychopath by engaging in endless “compassion”, “self-inquiry”, and “accepting that this is what the universe is trying to teach me right now”), this line of reasoning is dangerous. In my instance, it almost cost me my life.

That said, there are times for discipline, and asceticism. Lessons can be learned from both practices, but, a rigid path of self-denial is not the same as “empowerment” or “enlightenment.” Both can lead to intense personal insight and self-knowledge. They do not, however, grant you license to be smug.

In fact, the more you have to justify your actions and reactions, and base those justifications in your “practice” or “special knowledge” you have “as a dreamer…” , the less I am inclined to believe you.

I’m sure you believe your own bullshit, and I’m sure others do, too.

I don’t.

And I’m fine with that.

And, honestly, I don’t care if you didn’t like a movie, or a tv show, or a book, or a song, or a piece of art. In fact, I think it’s wonderful that you have an opinion.

At least, though, have the common decency and courtesy to just be honest.

You didn’t like The Hobbit. It has nothing to do with your etheric body.

I would have been fine with the first bit.

It’s when you drag the second bit in as justification that I’m forced to waste almost 900 words on a blog post.

One final friendly suggestion (and summary): If you’re going to promote how wonderful your paradigm, reality-tunnel, belief system, what have you as empowering, then it should actualy empower, and not reduce adherents to fragile frail little snowflakes who either (a) are no longer able to handle the world around them, or (b) are unable to respond to critiques and questions.

If you can’t back up your claims, why should I take you at your word?

 

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Aug 02 2013

A Fall from Grace

Published by under Consciousness,newage

This is what I don’t talk about.

After an experience that turned my life inside out in terms of how I perceived the nature of reality, and after exhausting the potential explanations offered by every alternative I could find, I embarked on a 5 year academic research project into the nature of consciousness .  I enrolled in a Master’s program in Consciousness Studies.  It was a multi-disciplinary approach to the ultimate philosophical questions – why are we here? What/where is here? How does it all work?

The program brought in divergent disciplines – philosophy, biology, psychology, spiritual/religious studies, and more.  As I proceeded through the program, I found that it was gradually morphing into something else.  At first, it seemed to be overrun with “Integral Theory” and related conceptual frameworks developed by Ken Wilber.

I was asked to read a number of books by Wilber, and I did.  Wilber is an entertaining writer, and puts forth a number of very seductive ideas.  The problem is, if you start looking under the hood, you find that Wilber’s take on things has a number of flaws. These are too lengthy to go into here, but I will say that when I asked the questions his works naturally brought up for me, answers ranged from “Oh, you need to read his unpublished stuff” or “Oh, you need to read this other book of his,” or remarks that I just wasn’t “advanced” enough to fully grasp what he was saying.  Occasionally, there would be a quiet concession that I had a point, but this was usually brushed aside, as it was embarrassing to point out the flaws in the ideas of “one of the most important philosophers of our time.”

So, I did the only thing I could do.  I ignored Wilber. I would give him occasional lip-service in papers (yes, we were required to use the Integral Model a number of times in our papers) and then move on to what I felt was important. It seemed to me that the purpose of graduate school was to formulate our own ideas; our own theories. Instead, the program became a degree in showing how versatile Integral Theory was at explaining everything.  We were on the “cutting edge” of philosophical inquiry. We were infiltrated by faculty who had close dealings with Wilber and his various organizations. This was not what I signed up for.

After a while, Wilber faded into the background a bit (maybe coincidentally around the same time the university’s accreditation was under review), and more sinister forces began to work their way into things.

My field of study – an area that held deep, personal meaning for me, became a degree in feeling good about oneself.

The term “Transformative Studies” now took root in our program’s name. The program became less about understanding and delving into the nature of reality and consciousness, and more about uncovering all the ways we’d been wounded in life, sharing them with each other, and “healing” these wounds through a variety of techniques.

I will be the first to admit that I had some powerful experiences during these exercises. However, I am not so bold as to claim any sudden magickal shamanic powers simply from taking a class.

Unfortunately, I know too many people who do.

Many of my classmates and instructors are very bright, intelligent people. Many of them, I respect very highly. Frankly, it breaks my heart to see so many of them forget simple critical thinking, or be led into believing that critical thinking involves wholesale rejection of dominant paradigm culture.

I have seen the likes of Descartes, Freud, and Newton be summarily dismissed, if not outright maligned and trashed by people who have never read any of them. They were blamed for all that is wrong in the world. Dualism. Mechanism. Subject/object.  All of these things inevitably lead to war, homophobia, racism, sexism, destruction of the environment, and more. These men (and their “masculine” ways of thinking) are each responsible for every conceivable ill.  We need to return to more “feminine” ways of thinking, or embrace Buddhist non-dualism, or both of these things and more, all within a holistic Integral framework to heal and transform the consciousness of our planet.

Or something.

At one point, I realized I don’t even know what the fuck that means.

As 2012 approached, the noise surrounding the “impending Shift™” became almost deafening. To be fair, I graduated in 2008, but circumstances kept me employed at the university for a few years afterwards. I was privy to a lot of conversations. A lot.

2012 has come and gone, and I’ve noticed an equally deafening silence on why nothing has changed.

Things continued to go downhill.  My graduating class had three of us writing theses.  Mine was 300+ pages long. I am proud of that. I chose to do that. I did it to prove to myself that it could be done. Meanwhile, most of my classmates were being discouraged from writing a thesis. Instead, they were told to opt for a “final project,” which in some instances, the best I can tell, involved making a collage.

Really.

And we all got the same M.A.

I went above and beyond the requirements of my degree, and I went above and beyond the requirements of my individual classes, because I needed to make this my own.  And I did.

I do not mean to make it sound like I am disparaging the very sincere work done by my classmates. I am not. I know that a number of them went through very intense personal upheavals throughout the course of the program.

My problem is, that is not what the program was or should have been about.

It became an exercise in cult-like group therapy at times; not an inquiry into the nature of consciousness.

Two examples come to mind.

First, a class called “Effective Communication A” should probably be how to clearly formulate and express ideas. We were dealing with admittedly esoteric areas, and one would think this would be a class on how to present them to the outside world.

Instead, it became a weekly confessional.

Each week, we were supposed to grab a random partner in the class and confess our deepest “core wound” of shame, guilt, fear, powerlessness, etc.  Then, after 20 minutes, switch. Then, after some wrap-up discussion involving Buddhist  concepts of non-attachment, go home.

It became a pissing competition. Who could slit their wrists and bleed the furthest? Additionally, having NO training as a therapist, and NO tools provided by the instructor, I had to listen each week to someone pour their hearts and souls out to me about how they’d been inappropriately touched by a relative,  raped, almost committed suicide, etc.  Afterwards, there was barely a “see you next week!” before we left for the evening. My classmates mostly seemed to feel tremendously relieved and refreshed at another “powerful” session and grateful for the “sacred safe space” that was provided for them to purge themselves of these dark secrets.  I felt like shit for 48 hours afterwards.

Another class I took was on Alchemy. No, we didn’t try to turn lead into gold, but what was for the most part a rather fascinating historical and philosophical (and psychological) foray into Alchemy also tended to take weird detours into over-sharing. Again, at some point, we were split up into small groups where we needed to share painful experiences with each other.

I now know (for reasons unfathomable to me) that one of my classmates who once told me that she wanted to meet Ken Wilber so she could “feel his energy” used to be a bit of a sex maniac.  I also know another classmate used to have problems achieving orgasm when he was having sex with other men. Why did I need to know this? Why did I need to find this out in a class about Alchemy?

Oversharing deeply personal information was not just relegated to classmates. We were supposed to write about it regularly in our papers, as well. “Experiential” learning was another big component. Don’t just read about something, think about something, write about something – do it, live it, embody it (whatever that means).

On a side note, I should also mention that practically nobody assigned primary texts. Why read Jung, when you can read a book about Jung? Primary texts are hard. Take our word for it. Descartes, Newton, Freud – they’re bad people who’ve caused immeasurable suffering and wounding. Don’t read their writings – we (or Ken Wilber) have already done that, so you don’t have to.

Finally, there are two other reasons why the whole experience has left a sour taste in my mouth.

First, as much as the program claimed to be “open” about people exploring spiritual “paths,” if it wasn’t Buddhism or some bastardized version of Hinduism, forget it. Sufism was tolerated, Christianity was tolerated if it was couched in mysticism, Judaism was ignored, and Indigenous traditions kept at a respectful distance.  It was okay to “appropriate” eastern spiritual practices, and suddenly declare your name to be “Vipassana” (I only hope there’s a woman in India calling herself “Dualism”), but don’t you touch that native tradition, unless it’s part of your cultural heritage!

This heavy emphasis on Buddhist principles (and, really, I don’t ultimately have a problem with Buddhism, it’s more about the hypocrisy of the program), led to a lot of people taking on learned helplessness. Too many times, I heard “I just have to accept that this is what is…” or “The universe is presenting this to me for a reason…” or some such.  I subscribed to these things, too, for a while. As a result, I let myself get sucked further and further into an abusive relationship with a mentally disordered woman. I figured I was to blame. I wasn’t “listening.” She was being a “teacher” to me. “I just needed to accept that this is what is…”

I almost walked in front of a train.

Really.

Second, as much as the program claimed to be “holistic,” anything that involved Western philosophy, Western science, or Western medicine was immediately suspect.  It was all responsible for the ills in the world! This is why there’s war! Environmental crises! Hatred! Newtonian mechanism doesn’t explain the whole, only the parts! Western medicine doesn’t cure the whole, only deals with symptoms!  Bad! Bad! Leper! Outcast! Unclean!

Fortunately, a few years after the abovementioned abusive relationship, I met my wife.

We have a son.

One would think that we would be all about having the natural childbirth at home with the chanting and the incense, and the Tibetan singing bowls, etc.  Sounds nice, doesn’t it?

Unfortunately, there were complications in the pregnancy.

My wife and son almost died.

More than once.

Is this Western medicine’s fault?

Actually, no.  Western medicine saved their lives, which is more than a home birth would have allowed for. No amount of herbs, chimes, and candles could have saved their lives.

And we were not about to just “accept it for what it was.”

So, I have a healthy respect for these things now. Is the system perfect? Probably not. But for anyone thinking that “the old ways were better and more natural,” I challenge you to research historic infant mortality rates.

If you want to suggest to me that we should “emulate Edo period Japan, because they knew how to live sustainably with minimal waste,” I invite you to read the history of the period further, and understand the brutal dictatorship of the Shogunate and understand why people had to be less wasteful (hint: food shortages).  Seriously.  This is like saying “those people in Soweto in the 80s sure were good recyclers! We can learn from them!”

Approximately 2000 words later, all of this can be boiled down to a few things, I suppose.

  • My program lost the plot. Am I bitter? Yes.  Should I care? Probably not. Do I? Yes. Why? Because I still think and firmly believe that the study of this field is important, and necessary.
  • I don’t like hypocrisy.
  • It breaks my heart to see smart people blindly accept things without figuring out answers for themselves (Again – should I care? Probably Not. Do I? Yes.)

Finally, I want to end with some points to anyone from my program (and related programs) whom I haven’t alienated to ponder these questions:

Should going through intensive, well-intentioned, but poorly executed therapy be rewarded with a graduate school degree?

If it is assumed that you are “wounded” and need “saving” from the ills of the dominant paradigm, how is this different from the Christian conception of “Original Sin”?

In short – I am grateful for the knowledge I gained in my program. I am grateful for the experience. I now know what to do, and what not to do in terms of how to further research my areas of interest. What this program does not do, and should not do, is claim to prepare you for the beautiful (and oftentimes tragic) complexity of life.  To claim that embracing the Integral paradigm or whatever philosophy is the flavor of the year will immediately solve all of your problems and cure all the ills of the world is narcissistic, misguided, and inappropriate at best, and seriously harmful at worst.

Meet the new boss – same as the old boss.

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Jul 08 2013

Ordo ab Chao

I’ve inadvertantly stumbled upon the phrase “Anti-Cosmic Satanism” (what?), and have tracked down this definition (albeit on Yahoo):

“…they believe that the realm of Chaos is ruled by the Eleven Gods of Primordial Chaos. They believe that there exists an Aeon for each of these Gods, or these manifestations. These are the Aeons of Moloch, Beelzebuth, Lucifuge Rofocale, Astaroth, Asmodeus, Belfegor, Baal, Adramelech, Lilith, Naamah and Satan. Azerate is eleven united as one, and these forces combined are those revered by the MLO/Temple of the Black Light. These eleven gods are actually ruler manifestations of Chaos and are eleven extensions of the Greater Godhead that these Satanists call Azerate. Azerate is the eleven headed black mother dragon that is the ruler of all chaos.”

Is it me, or does that sound kind of…orderly?

(yeah, yeah, I know, go read the stuff from Temple of the Black Light or something – I will. It’s on my “to read” pile.)

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May 06 2013

Gems from Hidden Wisdom

Hidden Wisdom

Hidden Wisdom by Jay Smoley & Richard Kinney

Some notes from Hidden Wisdom: A Guide to the Western Inner Traditions by Richard Smoley and Jay Kinney:

“Though it is all too rarely spoken of in esoteric literature or at New Age workshops, the specter of madness haunts the spiritual search. To point this out should not be dismissed as mere pessimism or negativity.

“A recurring motif of the esoteric traditions is the realm of the unseen – other dimensions, invisible entities, inner planes, etheric bodies, energy centers, planetary forces, hidden masters, the list goes on and on. While it may prove necessary to grant a provisional reality to such claims in the course of inner exploration, there lies a real danger in swallowing them wholesale and proceeding blithely onward. It is all too easy to project one’s wishes or fears onto the twilight zone of the invisible, reading deep portents into chance occurrences and seeing connections where none actually exist.

“Some people with a tendency toward paranoia are strongly attracted to the esoteric precisely because it mirrors their secret fears: Unseen forces affect our lives, consensus reality is a sham, the universe is somehow converging on our personal slice of life. The spiritual landscape is littered with erstwhile magicians and addled mystics who jumped into esoteric belief systems that were more than their sanity could bear and – most significantly – more than their closely watched personal experience had borne out.

“Which leads us to [a] skill that it would be wise to cultivate: the ability to maintain a simultaneous belief and disbelief in all matters esoteric until you have undeniably experienced them for yourself. Let us call this ‘faithful skepticism.’

“Exoteric religions encourage unquestioning belief in their tenets based on the authority of scripture or institutional leadership. For many of us, this is inadequate and unpersuasive. But by the same token, blind faith in esoteric traditions or the fascinating revelations of mystics and clairvoyants is no more advisable.

“The kind of ‘knowing’ that one finds in gnosis is personally verified. It isn’t based on the hearsay of another’s experience or revelation any more than it is based on theological dogma or belief. Even when you have experienced something that seems real, it is well to compare notes with an experienced teacher and keep room in your worldview for the possibility that it is all in your imagination.

“…No matter how shattering the truths revealed, how overwhelming the feelings unleashed, or how fascinating the manner in which ‘it all fits together,’ the fate of the universe does not hinge on convincing others of your truth. In fact, should you feel compelled to broadcast your revelations to the masses, it is a sure sign that the ego has seized hold of an insight and inflated it into a life raft.

“The paradox of gnosis is the realization that we are each simultaneously a speck of dust and Absolute Being. Esoteric work may lead us to this realization, but it remains for us to keep both sides of the equation in balance.” (pp. 311-313)

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