Friday, October 22, 2021

Work of the ages


Is the Age of Pisces real? Is it the age of grand illusions: Christianity, liberalism, high modernity, the Western Idea of Progress, the invincible nature of modern science? Even the idea that the Age of Aquarius will be even better than the Age of Pisces is itself an illusory piscean idea.

And speaking of the Age of Aquarius...

Traditionally, Aquarius was ruled by Saturn. Hardly a benign jolly little planetoid. Later, Saturn was dethroned in favor of Uranus. But Uranus probably isn´t the shining planet of scientific-spiritual enlightenment it has been made out to be. (I´m assuming here - strictly for the sake of the argument - that astrology is true.) Yes, Uranus is the planet of revolutionary transformation, but it´s also crazy planet. Isn´t this what´s actually happening in the world today?

We live through a revolutionary transformation in which everyone is stark raving mad, or at the very least very ironic (all this is Uranus) and this transformation is the inevitable fated result of our karma (Saturn). Yes, the Age of Aquarius is ruled by both these planets in tandem. 

Welcome to CLOWN WORLD and MADHOUSE EARTH c/o the Lord of Karmic Consequence! 

In 2000 years, Uranus will be dethroned as Saturn rules alone during the long night of the Age of Capricorn. Everything will be hard toil, dark, damp, materialist, and yet nevertheless somehow weirdly efficient. The only humor will be sardonic laughter at the follies of the two preceding world ages. Only around the year 6000 will human civilization move upward again, after a fashion, as Jupiter takes over in the Age of Sagittarius.

Or perhaps we´ll all be dead by then, the real Sagittarians being highly evolved whales, happy to finally get rid of their foremost natural enemy...  

I think we found the culprit

Copyright: Antony McCallum

I think we found the root of our present predicament. And no, it´s not the bloke on the picture above! It´s an altogether different guy...

Matthew 5:38-44 

>>>Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away. Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;>>>

Was Jesus mad, bad or God? If these are the actual words of Jesus, I´d say he was mad. "Love thy quislings as yourself and win the Darwin Award" is such good advice to Western man (or woman, or any human) in the year 2021. Right? 

And no, Jesus isn´t talking about other Christians (other Christians were erring brothers, not enemies), he wasn´t talking about ascesis (he preached the Sermon on the Mount to "the multitude" which isn´t called upon to be ascetics), nor did he take the position that you don´t have to forgive unrepentant sinners (an argument I often heard from Christians).

Here´s a scary idea: what if Jesus says what he means and means what he says? Now, go out and apply his principles to grooming gangs, terrorists, Antifa rioters, the Deep State, the SJWs cancelling your sweet little ass, the politicians serving them...

Right.

Perhaps the world needs more paganism, after all. But sure, we could compromise and create a paganizing form of Christianity, if you like that better!

But love our enemies? Show agape to unrepentant sinners?

Nupe. 

 

Why compare?

Somebody else entirely 

"Can Humanity Change? J. Krishnamurti in Dialogue with Buddhists" is a book containing the transcripts of several discussions between Jiddu Krishnamurti and a Buddhist scholar from Sri Lanka, Walpola Rahula. A few other people, most notably David Bohm, also participate in the exchanges, which took place in 1978-79 at Brockwood Park in England. The conservations are also available free of charge on the YouTube channel of the Krishnamurti Foundation ("J. Krishnamurti - Official Channel"). The videos contain funny details obviously not seen in the book, such as the presence of teenage girls or bearded hippies in the audience! It´s also fun to watch the often bewildered expressions of Rahula and Bohm as they try to follow the meandering expositions of Krishnamurti. 

It seems Rahula had sort-of-challenged Krishnamurti to a debate on Buddhism, since both the Lankan scholar and other Buddhists had noted strong similarities between K´s message and that attributed to the Buddha. I think Rahula was right in this. Krishnamurti´s message could indeed be seen as a modernized version of Buddhism, Zen Buddhism in particular. Radical Buddhism could be another way of putting it. Or Zen without motorcycle maintenance? Of course, the anti-guru Krishnamurti refuses to be pidgeon-holed liked this, and retorts to the suggestion that he has a Buddhist-sounding message with the question "Why compare?". To which Rahula has no real answer. Krishnamurti also shrewdly asks the scholar why Buddhist rituals, techniques and dogmas aren´t "conditioned", if everything else in samsara is conditioned? Indeed, Rahula is often forced to concede that Krishnamurti may be right, making the entire "debate" feel somewhat pointless...

Still, there probably is a genuine disagreement in there somewhere. To Krishnamurti, enlightenment must be spontaneous and instantaneous, otherwise it is nothing. No "process", thinking or evolution in time can be involved. Every theory *about* enlightenment leads away from it, by conditioning the mind and erecting further barriers between it and the goal. Indeed, even the idea that enlightenment is a goal, something to be sought or attained, is in itself a step away from it! Obviously, rituals or dogmas are obstacles to liberation. Rahula (and Bohm) finds this hard to accept, or even comprehend. To Rahula, there is an evolution from conditioned existence towards the enlightened state of the arhat, at least within our "relative time" or "relative truth" (he often sounds "Mahayanish" despite presumably being a Theravadin). 

His favorite simile is that the Buddha´s teaching is like a boat taking somebody across a river (the river being samsara). The boat can be destroyed only after the passenger has safely reached the other shore. Krishnamurti questions this - to coin a simile of mine own, it´s as if he wants us to jump across the river in one gigantic stride! But perhaps K would have preferred a different simile: we are already at the other side of the river, but don´t realize it since we have our eyes closed. The only thing we have to do is open them... A simile he does use is that of seeing a snake and instantly realizing that its dangerous, recoiling from it. In the same way, but positively, enlightenment must be an instant realization of a *fact*, not some pretty theory or dogma about some or the other. 

What´s less clear is what method (if any) Krishnamurti proposed to reach this goal (or not-reach the non-goal). Perhaps his meandering "inquiries" *are* the method? Clearly, the World Teacher wasn´t very succesful! This is most obvious in the section "Life After Death", where K goes on and on for over an hour, arguing points everyone really seems to agree with, and which could have been dispensed with in under 15 minutes. He also seems to deliberately create confusion by contradicting himself, use familiar words in a strange way, and so on. It´s almost as if he goes out of his way to sound special (despite constantly claiming the opposite), rather than just being another basic Buddhist. 

Even if we assume that the Buddha originally had a message like Krishnamurti, Buddha (or his disciples) must have realized that it´s essentially impossible to impart to ordinary mortals, and hence developed new "processes" (and dogmas) to bring people closer to the goal. You could also question K in a much more radical way: what if his non-goal isn´t just impossible, but also undesirable? The answer to the question "Can Humanity Change?" would then be "Probably not" followed by a "Thank goodness"!  


Thursday, October 21, 2021

Another twilight of industrial capitalism declared


No, I won´t read "The Age of Surveillence Capitalism" by Shoshana Zuboff, and the hype surrounding the book makes me wanna read it even less. First, who is Shoshana? Why haven´t we heard about her before? Why is her Wiki page so incomplete? And why does she look like a "he"? And no, we don´t live in a new era of neo-neo-capitalism blah blah. Nix. I´m old enough to remember the bunk about "post-Fordism" from the 1980´s. And it was probably same old, same old even back then. (Insert angry Marxist polemic against Eduard Bernstein here.) 

I´m also old enough to remember "the most important book of the 21st century" (or was it ever) during the 00´s. I think it was called "Empire", but I no longer remember the names of the authors. Some kind of Italianate blokes. And during the 2010´s, it was Naomi Kline or whatever. Who today remember them, or write extensively about their ideas? Nobody, of course. Oh, and what happened to David Korten? (Koresh?)

These are (of course) some kind of leftists or leftish liberals. But "the most important book EVER" is also a common trope on the right, or among spiritual people. I have no idea what books the right-wingers have considered the Messiah of the Millennium, but I´m old enough to remember the most important books ever on the spiritual side. Or at least their authors. If we backtrack in time, I believe it was Eckhart Tolle, Ken Wilber and James Redfield. Oh, and now I realized who is the right-wing icon. Why, it´s Jordan Petersen, of course! 

And know what? Nothing came out of that, either. 

In ten years time, Shoeshine Anna will be just as forgotten as these guys are today. Capitalism and the working class will still be around. Without making any revolution. Prompting yet another "innovative" theory further down the road. And so it will continue, until The Great Meteor will finally put us out of our misery altogether.

I sense a best seller coming up!

The end of our Faustian bargain?




A lot to unpack here, as usual. For all its worth, I´m beginning to suspect that JMG is right about the Faustian civilization...

Not a pretty insight, since I´m pretty "Faustian" myself. Also, note the cliffhanger at the end. Apocalypse in two weeks time?

The End of the Dream



Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Running away from Krishnamurti

 




The main criticism against Jiddu Krishnamurti seems to be "he didn´t answer the question". (OK, I know he is deceased, or perhaps reincarnated into another root-race, but since he is forever new on YouTube, I might as well speak of him in the present tense!) For a long time, I shared this criticism. At the very least, I thought, he "answers" people´s questions in an *extremely* roundabout fashion. But then, I started thinking, or perhaps non-thinking. Many of his fans react in a way that mirrors the reactions of his criticis. They essentially concede that K didn´t answer the questions, but then make up strange excuses for it: K tries to communicate the uncommunicable, K´s explanations are really beyond all explanations, in short, K is enlightened so how *dare* you, a mere inquisitive mortal monad, question (!) him. Or not really so strange, since this is how all guru-worshippers always defend their chosen savior-figure. 

Something´s clearly up.

I think this becomes obvious when Krishnamurti explicitly *does* answer a query. Thus, in one of the clips linked to above, he very explicitly says that he doesn´t believe in God, and that man is left to his own devices, as if all alone in a jungle. How is that *not* answering the question? Really, we are hard to please! It´s also obvious from the clips that K didn´t believe in an immortal soul (at least not in the traditional sense), that he doesn´t regard enlightenment as a process of discreet stages but as something effortless and instantaneous, and that he absolutely repudiates all gurus. Only a weak person needs a savior. He also mocks the notion of atman ("Who is he? Who is Atman?") and the soul ("Soul? What do you mean? The sole of a shoe?"). 

I think people pretend not to understand Krishnamurti´s answers because they, at bottom, make them feel uncomfortable. Something which tends to confirm his message, ironically enough. Krishnamurti tries to declutch the guru-worshippers from the chosen objects of their worship. This is probably doomed to fail. We all need a God or a guru (or a nanny state). That´s why it´s safer pretending that you don´t understand, or fall down before his lotus feet, making *him* the new guru, once again pretending that you don´t understand...

Maybe that´s the secret of the human condition. We are all running away from Krishnamurti.   

The Great Perfection

Attribution: Vinograd 19

"Secret of the Vajra World: The Tantric Buddhism of Tibet" is a book by Reginald A Ray, an American scholar who seems to be a practitioner of Tibetan-derived Buddhism himself. This book is strictly speaking a sequel to an earlier book about Tibetan Buddhism by the same author, "Indestructible Truth". While that volume concentrated on the "exoteric" aspects of the Tibetan religion, "Secret of the Vajra World" deals with the esoteric traditions. Both volumes are difficult, despite Ray´s attempts to sound as accesible as possible, since they deal with a subject-matter that is complex and - frankly - very, very strange. Another problem is that the author doesn´t always reveal the secrets. For a more fortright exposé of Tantric Buddhism in the Tibetan cultural region, including all the sex and drugs, I recommend "Tibetan Yoga. Principles and Practices" by Ian A Baker...

That being said, "Secret of the Vajra World" is nevertheless interesting, and I can´t say I have fully assimilated its contents yet. My impression of Tibetan Vajrayana after reading it (something I didn´t see the first time I perused the work), is that the tradition looks like a curious combination of two very different strands of thought. One of them seems to be "standard" Mahayana, with all the usual metaphysical notions about Emptiness. Buddha-Nature, Dharmakaya, and so on. The other strand is harder to pin down, but must be some kind of "pantheist" shamanism, earth religion or magic. Certain aspects of Vajrayana seem to point "upward", while other lead "downward". Some practices are more typically "Buddhist" in nature (such as various meditation techniques), while others are more "pagan" (feasts or perhaps orgies) or "magical" (visualizations, attempts to manipulate cosmic energies). Of course, to an actual Tantric, this may all be a seamless whole, but to an outsider, it looks as if Mahayana have indeed been mixed with something wholly other. It could originally have been Tantric Shaivism, but Tibet also had shamanic cults and the like. 

Salvation or liberation doesn´t entail going "forward" or "up", but rather "backward", retracing the evolution-involution of consciousness to its original, primordial state, a state that in some peculiar way is both heavenly and pre-human at the same time. Indeed, it´s often explicitly compared to the consciousness of a small child, who simply takes in impressions and is awestruck by them, with no conceptual overlay or analysis whatsoever. (Tibetan Buddhism doesn´t romanticize animals, though. Their consciousness is seen as dull and mechanic.) There is no "God" in this system, but there is a "Ground Luminosity" which is experienced as a gigantic clearing or opening (perhaps as a cloudless sky) within which all phenomena spontaneously arise. There is no particular "meaning" to any of this, and in a certain sense it´s all just an illusion, and yet if this empty nature of all phenomena is grasped, the Tantric practitioner can attain supernatural powers and hence manipulate the illusion at will. Or perhaps not really at "will", since the enlightened "mahasiddha" does everything spontaneously, once again as a small child, and yet somehow always does the right thing anyway, precisely for that reason. This "crazy wisdom" is hard to grasp, but certainly doens´t sound like a buddha entering nirvana! 

However, there is also a somewhat different tradition within the bewildering world of Vajrayana, known as Dzogchen. This entails an almost bizarre spiritual technique, in which the meditator spends weeks in complete darkness and somehow tries to cope with the hallucinations created by the inevitable sensory deprivation. Dzogchen is said to be extremely dangerous, and I can well believe it! The interesting thing about this practice is that it seems to suggests that everything *isn´t* an illusion, after all. From the Ground Luminosity (or Dharmakaya) arise certain energies, in every color of the rainbow. These are the energies of creation or emanation (my terms), and the task is to magically manipulate them in order to form a "rainbow body", identified with the sambhogakaya. This is intriguing, to be sure, since the sambhogakaya is the heavenly enjoyment body of the Buddha in Mahayana theology. Presumably, the sambhogakaya therefore has some kind of "form" or "boundary", although one that is infinitely malleable to the Dzogchen master. Thus, the goal of the Tibetan mystic isn´t to disappear into the void or become one with Brahman as a drop joins the ocean, but rather to remain in the world, but armed with limitless powers ordinary phenomenal mortals can scarcely even comprehend.... 


Tuesday, October 19, 2021