Thursday, November 03, 2011

Why you Need Occult Authors to Tell you Right and Wrong

Jason wrote that magical ethics are as bad as regular ethics, fucking just... whatever, do what you're going to do already, and don't worry about what the author says about it.

As happens on occasion, I may appear, at first, to disagree with him

The fact is, you don't know right from wrong, and you're really not capable of figuring it out. You might think you know right from wrong, but you don't. You just think you do.

Here's proof: Killing is wrong, right? Yeah, killing is obviously wrong. Except for sometimes. When you really start thinking about it, there are some situations that make it ok. Self defense, justifiable revenge, war, or capital punishment are obvious ones, but also... eating. You don't eat without killing something, right? Or did you just mean killing people is wrong? Or maybe only killing animals is wrong, but it's ok to kill plants to eat. Because if you don't, you're killing yourself slowly by starvation... and suicide is wrong.

Right?

Ethics... you may really think you have them. A code guides you through the conundrums of life, and yeah, maybe it's a LITTLE relative and subjective, but basically you know right and wrong, and you do your best to do the right thing when you feel like it. Most of the time. I mean, even people with ethics that don't mesh with the rest of pop culture's ethics still generally do what they think is right, don't they? On some level?

Jason had skin in a game and cursed a business, and he says it's unethical, and he's right, it's against the objective standard of good and evil that our culture holds the proletariat to in public... But there's another kind of ethics that he followed that goes deeper, the ethics of business. He was paid to do a job, not to ask questions about its right or wrongness.

But if you're worried about whether or not something is right to do, then you do indeed need to be told what's right and what's wrong. If you're stuck in duality, if you haven't grasped the truth that the Universe appears both Good and Evil while it's actually neither, then you're going to need codes of conduct to keep you from fucking yourself and others up. You need rules. You need to be ruled.*

Also, there are really stupid people in the world who think that doing things that are evil is cool. The teenage rebellion factor. They don't realize that the things people call "evil" are really just "things with unpleasant consequences." They think there's something holy to be found in dark paths and wicked pursuits.

And some of them find it, whatever, more power to them.

But here's the fucking thing: there is no right or wrong, there's only what you do, and the consequences, and whether you're happy with them or not.

Everything else is motherfucking bullshit, a lie to keep you bound to the feeding trough like the good little fat piggy you are, until they're ready to eat you. Smoked, salted, fried, chopped, baked, diced with asparagus, red potatoes, and alfredo sauce. That's right, you're a ham slice. In shrink wrap, sitting on a shelf waiting to be consumed, staying carefully in the boundaries you have to stay in until someone gets hungry.

You know how bad the economy is? It's not. The economy that can be measured, that can be regulated, that can be taxed is falling to shit, it's true, and that gives us lots of graphs and charts and headlines we can look at and freak out about, and demand more laws to make it all better.

But there's another economy that's doing great. System D. Read that article, brothers and sisters, it's where the real profit will be made for the next decade while the ethically challenged are arguing over who should be taxed more and who should be regulated more. Those not bound by ethical constructs are going to be the real winners, the way they always are. And it's not necessarily evil and damaging to anyone to participate in that kind of thing. It's really helpful, when you get down to brass tacks, and it makes the world a better place for a lot of people.

* Kings aren't worried about ethics. They do what's "right" because it's beneficial to themselves and their subjects. It's the benefit to his subjects that makes it right, not an ethical rule about it.

22 comments:

  1. Wait . . . there is no Good? What kind of Neoplatonic Christian are you?

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  2. LOL, a terrible one Mr. Dunn, a terrible one indeed.

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  3. That's a pretty good definition of the Buddhist idea of karma: actions having consequences, some of which may be unpleasant.

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  4. Hey man, I said that I did not need every book on magic to go crazy over the top with ethical messages. I never said people do not need ethics or an ethical code.

    Also, no good? ditto what Patrick said!

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  5. There are sound, logical arguments that can be made from a gnostic view that the universe is a poor copy made by an idiot God. There are sound, logical arguments that can be made from a neoplatonic Christian perspective that the universe is all good, all the time. Matter can be the stuff of evil, or the media of the Illuminated Co-Creator.

    Both perspectives contain true truths about some things, both are total bullshit in other ways.

    Calling the Source "The Good" is a lie. It's a nice lie, and it's true in many ways, the way all really good lies are. But what I'm talking about when I say it is the source of everything, and it's neither good nor evil, it's the source of both. It is "beyond judgment" because it is the predecessor of everything, even judgment.

    Jason, does a mindful person have an ethical code? Or do they do what is right based on their knowledge, understanding, wisdom, and awareness, while being cognizant that there is potential for being wrong anyway?

    Everything we do is done in ignorance of the outcome. How can anything be ethical without foreknowledge of all consequences?

    There is no such thing as an ethical code, its very codification creates sin. That's why the Law exists to manifest sin. Melchizedek was a priest King without the Law. Malka Tzedeq, King of Jupiter.

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  6. For me, the ideas of Good and Evil are not two sides of a coin that manifest from something else. They are linked to the concepts of knowledge and ignorance. One can say that good is good and not evil because it is not just about containing and being beyond all dualities. God is not evil because god is not ignorant.

    This is why that idea of goodness is so integral it even makes it into many types of Buddhism where compassion is an essential quality of Buddha nature.

    In answer to your question if a mindful person does right based on their knowledge, understanding, wisdom, and awareness, while being cognizant that there is potential for being wrong anyway that person IS acting according to a moral code. If they decided to do what was WRONG despite that awareness they would be acting unethically.

    I never said that ethical codes had to be simplistic and cookie cutter, which is exactly why I don't like the dross that passes for ethical teachings in books on magic.

    The Bodhisattva Vow is an ethical code, but that same code demands that the Bodhisattva break those codes if he or she sees that compassion demands it. It is just one example of a good code.

    Now, as for the law of YHVH - I fully agree with you, and is largely what Christianity is really about.

    Through Christianity God suspends both the Levitical Priesthood and the Davidic Kingly line precisely because mankind is ready to receive Christ and return to the pre-Aaronic ways of the Priest King. During the OT, any attempt to fuse the two under the law meant disaster (see Uzziah).

    BUT

    This is not a Priesthood beyond ethics. It has to deal directly with the ethics of Sacrifice and War under the law. Do not forget what Melchizedeck was Priest King of: Salem - Peace. Do not forget what he offered to Abraham: bread and wine. Being a Priest after the order of Melchizedeck is about rejection of regenerative violence that was part and parcel not only of Judaism at the time, but almost all religion everywhere - thus the symbolism of the final sacrifice.

    Ethics play a HUGE role.

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  7. Jesus specifically taught two ethical requirements To love God and to love your neighbor as yourself. These may not be "Do this but don't do that" type of ethics, but they are an ethical code none the less.

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  8. Two sides of the same coin. And really whatever work you do is a flip of the coin either its good v. evil depending which side of the spell you stand!

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  9. Jesus taught an attitude of reverence of the sacred. He taught beyond ethics. When he gave the two commandments, it was in response to humans demanding a code. They were so into the Law that they had to know where he stood in relation to it. So he gave them one commandment, to love, in two forms, explaining that through Love, ethics take care of themselves without a need for a code of do's and don'ts. "Love, and you'll find that you fulfill the Law."

    Compassion, right actions, these come from knowledge and understanding of key spiritual truths about the nature of existence and our relationship to it. They are secondary consequences to an insight attained and retained.

    You've made knowledge god and ignorance sin. In the flesh we are forever ignorant of the outcome of our actions, so all actions become tinged in sin. It is impossible in that approach to do anything right, or anything good here below. You've done the same thing the Law did.

    Ascribing goodness to some actions because they seem to be in accord with a moral approach is still a lie. It's useful, but ultimately untrue.

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  10. Ok, I think to continue this conversation we need some definitions of what ethics are and are not.

    You can use the word to refer to a specific code such as the 10 commandments, the Bodhisattva Vow, Bushido or the AMA's code of ethics.

    More universally ethics is a set of moral principals and a consciousness of moral importance.

    If you are saying that the teachings of Jesus are beyond all moral principals and consciousness of moral importance, I have to disagree completely and stand with most of Christendom and say that is just BS.

    If you are saying that Christ taught ethics in a way that was not to be locked down to a legalistic law than yes, I agree completely. As I stated, that is pretty much the entire point of the religion: to manifest the kingdom of god within you fully that it may be manifested on earth.

    Halleluja!

    You are correct that Jesus taught love in those two forms as a response to questions, but that does not mean that it was just some BS. Love is integral to God. Deus Caritas Est Motherfucker!

    You state that:

    "Compassion, right actions, these come from knowledge and understanding of key spiritual truths about the nature of existence and our relationship to it. They are secondary consequences to an insight attained and retained."

    YES. This is exactly what I am saying! Except that Love and Compassion ARE key spiritual truths. What is the nature of Grace?

    You state that.

    "You've made knowledge god and ignorance sin."

    Ummmm. Yeah. Gnosis vs Agnosis. Pretty basic to mystical Christianity, not just gnosticism.

    Here I think is the biggest discord between us. You state:

    "In the flesh we are forever ignorant of the outcome of our actions, so all actions become tinged in sin. It is impossible in that approach to do anything right, or anything good here below. You've done the same thing the Law did."

    You are stating that it is impossible to be aware of every single consequence of our actions. In this I fully agree, which is why in Christianity we need to jump outside of the legalistic idea of the Law, and in Buddhism we seek to free ourselves from being subject to Karma. This is the goal though, not the starting point, and until we attain it (lets just agree to disagree for now about whether this can be done in the flesh or not) we need guiding principals - not just a "fuck it, there is no real morality anyway".

    However, just because there may be unintended consequences of an action does not make it morally wrong or unethical. Your point that we cannot know every consequence is exactly why we DO need an ethical code as guidance. Act out of love for God and Man. This is not a lie.

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  11. Another example. How would you explain the sermon on the mount if not as a teaching on ethics?

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  12. Ok, I think we're reaching resonance here.

    "If you are saying that the teachings of Jesus are beyond all moral principals and consciousness of moral importance, I have to disagree completely and stand with most of Christendom and say that is just BS."

    Essentially, I am saying that. The important parts of what he taught and did with his life, death, and resurrection are not about morality or consciousness of moral importance directly. Those are side effects. Morality is implied and derived from the spiritual truths.

    The attempts at codifying these implications resulted in the Epistles and two thousand years of spiritual warfare between factions with different interpretations of what that means.

    Christ taught relationship, I think, not ethics or morality, except for sometimes when he had to, and even then he pointed it back to relationship.

    I think the thing we're in total agreement about is this:

    "This is the goal though, not the starting point, and until we attain it (lets just agree to disagree for now about whether this can be done in the flesh or not) we need guiding principals - not just a "fuck it, there is no real morality anyway"."

    That's what I said in the post, though maybe not so clearly. That's "why you need occult authors to tell you right and wrong." Because you haven't attained the goal.

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  13. The sermon on the mount proves my point exactly re: christ teachings being beyond ethics or morality. He's calling out the Law specifically, demonstrating the codes of ethics and loopholes everyone was worried about were bullshit, and that even following the letter of the law doesn't make you righteous.

    He even says God sends rain on the good and evil alike, and then tells you to be like God, perfect, beyond worrying about good and evil, only loving in all your actions.

    And for those who don't get it, who aren't perfect as God in Heaven is perfect, he offers guidelines.

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  14. The major guiding principle I attempt to live by is pretty simple in concept... Not to live and act out of self-pity, dishonesty, resentment, and fear.

    "God, I offer myself to thee to build with me and do with me as thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of Self that I may better do thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to my fellows. Direct my thinking, that it be divorced from self-pity, dishonesty, resentment, fear, and selfish motives".

    If I live in an attempt not to act out of selfishness and ego, admitting the nature of my wrongs and seeking to right them, and paying attention to my reactions to others' actions and being sure not to react out selfishness, self-pity, fear or resentment, I seem to stay in the clear and have a clean conscience.

    This may seem insufficient for you, but it really works for me.

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  15. RO,

    In no sense does the Sermon on the mount prove your point. Please explain how the Sermon on the Mount is NOT about morality and ethics.

    You are entirely hung up on the equation between the Law under YHVH = ethics. This is not the case. Ethics goes beyond simple written codes.

    I agree that Christs teaching is about relationship, but the nature of that relationship is explored fully through moral and ethical teachings. They are not there simply for people who "don't get it".

    Think about the entire sermon.

    The Beatitudes focus on love and humility and compassion.

    The verses about Salt and Light are a call to "Let your light shine before men; that they may see your good works, and glorify your father in heaven". The light must not be hidden under a bushel etc...

    The next section on the Mote and the beam is about the ethics of judgement.

    The rain that is sent is nothing but the calameties of existence. The ethics and moral action that extend from the relationship with god IS the rock that the wise man builds his house upon.

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  16. The Sermon on the mount is entirely about transcending ethics and morality and embracing the Love of God, reclaiming your divine race and eternal value, living as if you were god because god-folk don't play by the rules that most people are concerned with.

    Turn the other cheek, go the extra mile, do more than the codes and laws tell you you have to do because of Love and Perfection, not because it's right or wrong.

    He speaks about things that we interpret as ethics and morality because we're stuck in duality. But what's he REALLY talking about? How you act is a reflection of your relationship with God, that's what he's saying. He's all, look, beatitudes, what appears by society's standards to suck doesn't really, because God rewards all that shit. He's saying, look, you're looking at it all wrong, the dos and don'ts aren't what matter, what you should have to put up with in life isn't the point, it's God that matters, be like God. Fuck all this bullshit, and be in Love.

    The salt is obviously a metaphor. Salt doesn't stop being salty. People are manifestations of God. God-folk don't stop being god-folk. You are the light of the world, light it up so that people seeing you loving God and reclaiming your race and value and becoming fully a manifestation of God will see you doing good things and making the world better and will want some of that action too.

    Then he goes into the "You have heard" statements, again demonstrating that the things you learn from society about right and wrong, the social ethical moral codes you get are totally fucked, insufficient, and to really be righteous, you're going to need God. Audience and purpose, these people were coming to him looking for a way to be righteous, and he was saying, everything you know about righteousness is fucked up, see? And then he showed them.

    It's like my little murder example above, take something "Everyone knows" and show that "everyone knows" something else about it too that makes any principles about killing moot.

    He goes into a lot of social stuff you've skipped over before getting into the mote and judgment, but as a whole the Sermon on the mount is about seeing through the morals and ethics you've been handed and figuring out what's really right. It includes the section about not worrying about what you're wearing because god provides, and not doing your righteousness in public for the glory of men, but doing it in private.

    And he says at the beginning, don't think I'm getting rid of ethics or the Law, what I'm doing here is teaching you how to really fulfill them, by being like God.

    And that's what I'm saying too, you don't need ethics when you've transcended them, you just naturally are ethical. James's comment about faith without works is no faith applies here. I'm with you that those who get it will behave righteously.

    The rock is not the works of man, the rock is the relationship with God. We're saved by grace, not by works, lest any man should boast. Ethics and morality play out after the fact. You can't "behave" your way into the highest heavens, it doesn't work.

    And the rain symbolizes the blessings of Jupiter, not calamities. Rain is almost always blessings in the Bible. He was saying, look, god blesses the 99% AND the 1%, think about that, and be like God.

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  17. We are pretty much talking in circles now.

    You are holding onto the idea that somehow the charge to form a relationship through love with god who is love and act out of that relationship in loving ways is not ethics and morality because it is not presented like lists of thou shalts and shalt nots. In fact, it IS itself an ethical charge!

    This is supported by the MANY types examples Christ uses throughout his ministry.

    You are right that the rock is the relationship with God, but the relationship and action stemming from that relationship are the same. By their fruits shall ye know them.

    Yes, salvation is through grace and no one is talking about salvation through works here, but that does not mean that there is no such thing as Christian Morality and Ethics or that they are lies to keep the rabble in line. There is more to Christianity than just salvation.

    As for the rain, we got a bit mixed up. I was talking about the rain and winds that the rock protects against. You are talking about the rain on the just and unjust. In this case though rain is still a negative because it is juxtaposed with the sunrise which is the good. None of which matters because the entire verse is about loving ones enemies, which is.... an ethical charge.

    RO, you are trying to say that ethical behavior arises spontaneously and naturally out of a relationship with god. To the extent that it arises out of a state of mind where you are in Gnosis and are fully acting out of that relationship I completely agree with you. What you are not accounting for however is the role that striving towards the ethics that Christ outlines is part of developing that relationship! If it were simply a lie, there would be no reason to spend so much time on it.

    Frater Serpentis wisely seeks to act out of lack of ego. Nothing helps lesson the hold on personal ego like selflessness and love of all beings.

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  18. Maybe we're talking in circles, but it's been fun at least.

    I think the "more" of christianity beyond salvation is a steaming pile. I agree it's there, but it's where all the bullshit we have to deal with from the ignorant brethren comes from. Homosexuality is a sin, sex before marriage is a sin, abortion's a sin, blah blah blah bullshit that takes away from the best thing about Christianity, that we can be friends with God, in whose image we were made.

    Christ taught to look beyond all that stuff, that's all I'm trying to do too.

    I don't think striving for right action helps though. It's a personal opinion based on my personal experiences with the pursuit of holiness. People who try to do good deeds as a way to get closer to God fuck up a lot of shit, self spectacularly included. Legalism doesn't work, and it misses the point, imo. Worrying about ethics and morality is a waste of time that could be better spent immersed in something higher.

    I'm sure the smug spiritually superior tone of my post is annoying the piss out of you too, and I'm sorry about that, it just seemed right. It's done tongue firmly in cheek.

    And you're right about pursuing god instead of ethics being an ethic, of course.

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  19. It is fun indeed.

    I could care less about your spiritually superior tone - its just part of the RO package, and I love you for it. Now kiss my ring!

    The more to Christianity than salvation I am talking about is the opportunity for Theosis and deepening mystical contact. John of the Cross for instance was saved before he set out through the long dark night of the soul. Christians are Saved before they take on Centering Prayer or take Holy Orders.

    Honestly, the problems of Christianity come from wholesale ignoring the ethical and moral teachings of Christ, not from attempting to follow them!

    This has been a good talk for me at this time though. Though you do not know it, I am in the final stages of my formation process as priest and will probably be ordained next year. Some of the melchizideck themes we discussed are directly related to conversations with my Bishop over the last week.

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  20. This has been a truly awesome conversation to watch, guys. Thanks.

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  21. I'm blown away by the quality of this conversation; makes me remember why I started blogging to begin with. Thanks, guys.

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  22. I agree with Aquila and Renatus that the following discussion after this post has been very fascinating.

    I see a danger in a total abandonment of ethics, especially if the spiritual truths perceived is stripped of the goodness which involves honing the dignity of others as well as yourself.

    And I am not talking about not realizing the nature and the state of the world. Everyone has the potential to destroy as well as to create. And the drive towards protecting yourself is basic human instinct.

    But: if a philosopher & king chooses to not only dump morals and ethics, but also that idea of goodness (think basic platonism) we risk arriving at the sociopath.

    Nietzsche seems like the perfect author to reflect upon these things, and his sentiment in Thus spoke Zarahustra, that "God is dead". I am more in line with Dostojevski, if God is dead (in the minds of people), and no ethics is there as a solid replacement & folks acts out that every want is permitted, we are fucked. All IMHO, of course.

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Thanks for your comments, your opinions are valued, even if I disagree with them. Please feel free to criticize my ideas and arguments, question my observations, and push back if you disagree.