Wednesday, February 11, 2009

More East-West Crap

I think Jason's right. And so are the folks commenting on the blog and sending me emails offlist.

The comments about the Eastern systems blowing away the systems of the West came into my life at a time when I was also trying to help people understand how to do stuff in the Western systems. Much of the Hermetic Tradition is misunderstood, and the idea that the East is superior to the West annoyed me.

As I delved deeper though, what I found was what Jason (and others) said, the systems aren't that different when you get into the details. The differences lie in the vocabulary. It is hard in the West to pursue magic. I'd like to make it easier. It's equally hard in the Eastern cultures. I can't address that. It is alien to me.

So for now, I'm going to back off the whole East vs. West thing, and get back to what I'm most interested in, expanding my understanding and the effectiveness of my magical system. I've had to re-evaluate how I look at things like the Golden Dawn, Theosophy, and Eastern systems of magic in general over the past couple of days, and I like what I've seen. I'm more confident now than ever that the "Western" systems of magic are as effective as the "Eastern" systems. I have more detailed things to pursue in my Work as a result. I have specific paths to tread that I didn't know were there before, specific questions to ask spirits, and specific rituals to perform with my HGA as a result of some of the shallow reserch I did on Dzogchen.

Most of what I found was tempest in a teapot stuff. Making mountains out of mole hills. Exaggerating the importance of what I was thinking because I didn't understand what I was seeing. A little knowledge cann be a dangerous thing.


  1. **As I delved deeper though, what I found was what... the systems aren't that different when you get into the details. The differences lie in the vocabulary.

    I personally thought the main difference [practices aside] was in the ultimate goal? I'm so far from being an expert its almost humuorous, but I kind of got the impression that eastern systems aimed for the obliteration of selfhood, and/or union with the Godhead, but they alway seemed to be advocating a way of unbecoming, if that makes sense? while the western system aimed for the perfection of man, and the union of said perfected being with the divine. Am I wrong? a little clarification on the subject would be helpful.

    And also I know you're not focusing on the topic anymore, but even though the systems of East and West have similarities, ie, they are both spoons, I have always found they have very different *flavours*, ie one is Ben & Jerry's and the other Ketchup.

    Forgive my insane metaphor, I'm just awake and this is me undiluted with caffeine...

  2. Personally, I've always enjoyed that the "grade" that represents "true" initiation in many Masonic/templar groups is "Knight of East and West." {emphasis mine}

    One of the things that's kept me interested in the Epicurean experiment has been how similar it is to both ancient NeoPlatonism, Pythagoreanism and Mahayana Buddhist theory. Granted, Epicureanism takes the 1st Noble Truth as an unstated a priori assumption of the human condition - but I also believe that was the point Buddha was making as well. What comes after becomes a process of transcending the conventional limitations of the Human Animal.

    Lucretius' process in De Re Natura stops at the individual - much like Hinayana - and focuses on The Real. Once that vision of the cessation of suffering - the Epicurean "Good Life" - has been seen/manifested, it's a logical conclusion to apply it to the interconnectedness of all Humanity... and become a Bodhisatva.

    The problem with the second approach is that it's the Romance of The Ideal, and not eminently supportable without recourse to symbolic communications. In other words, magic.

    Summation: There's only One Everything. Explore and enjoy!

  3. Fin,

    No, there is no striving towards obliteration of the self in eastern systems.

    1. Not all eastern systems have the same goal: even different yanas of Buddhism have different goals.

    2. Transcending the self does not require obliteration of the self.

    Its a common misconeption perpetrated by a few industrial age thinkers that didnt really understand the systems they were interfacing with, and maintained by LHP groups that like to make it a point of divergence.

  4. Thanks for the info Jason! Very edifying. I'm starting to realise that even in real magick, there's a lot of smoke and mirrors.

  5. @Fin: Of course there are smoke and mirrors in magic, we call them fumigations and mirrors of evocation or scrying.


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