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Conceptions of the Occult


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#21 elfstone

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Posted 17 September 2020 - 04:44 PM

Most people apply the word occult to the ritual magic practices of esoteric groups, such as the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn or the Ordo Templi Orientis started by Aleister Crowley.  If we refer to the Merriam-Webster definition of the word occult, there are 3 entries and a total of 7 definitions, as follows:

 

Definition of occult (Entry 1 of 3)
transitive verb
: to shut off from view or exposure : COVER, ECLIPSE
the light of a star that was about to be occulted … by Uranus itself
— Jonathan Eberhart
occult adjective
oc·​cult | \ ə-ˈkəlt  , ä-; ˈä-ˌkəlt  \
 
Definition of occult (Entry 2 of 3)
1 : not revealed : SECRET
deep subterranean occult jealousy
— J. C. Powys
2 : not easily apprehended or understood : ABSTRUSE, MYSTERIOUS
occult matters like nuclear physics, radiation effects and the designing of rockets
— Robert Bendiner
3 : hidden from view : CONCEALED
occult underground passages
4 : of or relating to the occult
… the occult arts—astrology, palmistry, card reading …
— Amy Fine Collins
occult practices
5 : not manifest or detectable by clinical methods alone
occult carcinoma
also : not present in macroscopic amounts
occult blood in a stool
occult noun
\ ə-ˈkəlt  , ä-; ˈä-ˌkəlt  \
 
Definition of occult (Entry 3 of 3)

: matters regarded as involving the action or influence of supernatural or supernormal powers or some secret knowledge of them —used with the 

 

Clearly, we are talking about definition 4 in the 2nd entry, "of or relating to the occult arts."  

 

A friend and former student of mine, Richard Kaczynski, wrote what is probably the most definitive and thorough biography of Aleister Crowley:

 

https://www.amazon.c...d=3PHORUVQ9467W

 

Richard is also has amazing expertise on occult practices in general.  We have had long conversations about the so-called "occult" and the use of ritual magic in secret societies, including Ordo Templi Orientis, the Masons, the Rosicrucians, etc. Both Richard and I graduated from the same university in the same psychology department.  We both have expertises in research design and methodology and are professional scientists.  He works for the federal government.  I have worked as a research design and methodology consultant for several university programs.  Richard is a high level member of the Ordo Templi Orientis.  I am a longtime practitioner of the Fourth Way, since 1974, as well as a high level member of the AMORC.  Neither of us see any need to cross reference the epistemological assumptions of either orientation with the other.  

 

That being said, I would assert that the current model of the scientific method is currently employed by most scientists in a fairly narrow manner.  There re some notable exceptions.  Rupert Sheldrake has successfully employed the scientific method to empirically demonstrate the validity of constructs typically associated with the occult, including clairvoyance,  precognition and telepathy.  The morphogenetic field theorem appears to account best for much of the experiential reports of people utilizing psychedelics and having contact with the greater field of Mind, such as is exemplified in jungle plant telepathy with ayahuasca, etc.  

 

The so-called "scientific materialist" stance, such as is represented by Michael Shermer, (https://www.skeptic.com) represents a fairly narrow band of what many scientists I know would accept as experientially valid in their personal lives.  I view this point of view as analogous to fundamentalist Christianity and, at its worst, Religious Nationalism, both of which are fairly block-headed.  There is really no point in debating with these folks as their opinions are set and they can always refute any evidence that brings their point of view into question by reverting to their cherished assumptions and fervently and with total devotion stubbornly hold on to the supposed inviolability of their own logical constructs.  When I talk with these folks it always reminds me of talking with fundamentalist Christians, Hindus or Muslims.  Their firm belief in the veracity of their own rational cognition is repeated as an axiomatic theorem that will brook no contradiction.  Reason can only grasp what lies on its boundaries.  Beyond that, it is useless.

 

For these folks, I always suggest that they eat a modest 5g of mushrooms on a weekly basis, say every Friday night, for about 6 months to a year and then tell me if they still hold to this point of view.  Of course, not many people, even those who believe in the fruits of serious engagement with a sacred plant, such as the Psilocybe mushrooms, will hold to this level of commitment.  What I have heard from some whom I have invited to participate in this level of work with me personally is "I only need to take it once every year or two to know what it is all about" or "I already have received what it is capable of giving me" and maybe that is absolutely true.  But I will insist, as one person on this forum already understands, that serial commitment and regular work with the sacred mushrooms for a longer period of time can be profoundly life transforming.


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#22 clumsy

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Posted 18 September 2020 - 02:09 PM

Versus: Definition of paranormal
: not scientifically explainable : SUPERNATURAL
 
OK, now that we've got our categories straight, I have a few questions. Unlike you, I have not spent years studying the OTO (I know a bit about Crowley) or the fourth way (I know even less about Gurdjieff). So this is my opportunity to learn something. What is the goal of both OTO and the fourth way? What might be the end result of treading those paths?


#23 xlcor

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Posted 18 September 2020 - 08:38 PM

Most people apply the word occult to the ritual magic practices of esoteric groups, such as the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn or the Ordo Templi Orientis started by Aleister Crowley.  If we refer to the Merriam-Webster definition of the word occult, there are 3 entries and a total of 7 definitions, as follows:

 

Definition of occult (Entry 1 of 3)
transitive verb
: to shut off from view or exposure : COVER, ECLIPSE
the light of a star that was about to be occulted … by Uranus itself
— Jonathan Eberhart
occult adjective
oc·​cult | \ ə-ˈkəlt  , ä-; ˈä-ˌkəlt  \
 
Definition of occult (Entry 2 of 3)
1 : not revealed : SECRET
deep subterranean occult jealousy
— J. C. Powys
2 : not easily apprehended or understood : ABSTRUSE, MYSTERIOUS
occult matters like nuclear physics, radiation effects and the designing of rockets
— Robert Bendiner
3 : hidden from view : CONCEALED
occult underground passages
4 : of or relating to the occult
… the occult arts—astrology, palmistry, card reading …
— Amy Fine Collins
occult practices
5 : not manifest or detectable by clinical methods alone
occult carcinoma
also : not present in macroscopic amounts
occult blood in a stool
occult noun
\ ə-ˈkəlt  , ä-; ˈä-ˌkəlt  \
 
Definition of occult (Entry 3 of 3)

: matters regarded as involving the action or influence of supernatural or supernormal powers or some secret knowledge of them —used with the 

 

Clearly, we are talking about definition 4 in the 2nd entry, "of or relating to the occult arts."  

 

A friend and former student of mine, Richard Kaczynski, wrote what is probably the most definitive and thorough biography of Aleister Crowley:

 

https://www.amazon.c...d=3PHORUVQ9467W

 

Richard is also has amazing expertise on occult practices in general.  We have had long conversations about the so-called "occult" and the use of ritual magic in secret societies, including Ordo Templi Orientis, the Masons, the Rosicrucians, etc. Both Richard and I graduated from the same university in the same psychology department.  We both have expertises in research design and methodology and are professional scientists.  He works for the federal government.  I have worked as a research design and methodology consultant for several university programs.  Richard is a high level member of the Ordo Templi Orientis.  I am a longtime practitioner of the Fourth Way, since 1974, as well as a high level member of the AMORC.  Neither of us see any need to cross reference the epistemological assumptions of either orientation with the other.  

 

That being said, I would assert that the current model of the scientific method is currently employed by most scientists in a fairly narrow manner.  There re some notable exceptions.  Rupert Sheldrake has successfully employed the scientific method to empirically demonstrate the validity of constructs typically associated with the occult, including clairvoyance,  precognition and telepathy.  The morphogenetic field theorem appears to account best for much of the experiential reports of people utilizing psychedelics and having contact with the greater field of Mind, such as is exemplified in jungle plant telepathy with ayahuasca, etc.  

 

The so-called "scientific materialist" stance, such as is represented by Michael Shermer, (https://www.skeptic.com) represents a fairly narrow band of what many scientists I know would accept as experientially valid in their personal lives.  I view this point of view as analogous to fundamentalist Christianity and, at its worst, Religious Nationalism, both of which are fairly block-headed.  There is really no point in debating with these folks as their opinions are set and they can always refute any evidence that brings their point of view into question by reverting to their cherished assumptions and fervently and with total devotion stubbornly hold on to the supposed inviolability of their own logical constructs.  When I talk with these folks it always reminds me of talking with fundamentalist Christians, Hindus or Muslims.  Their firm belief in the veracity of their own rational cognition is repeated as an axiomatic theorem that will brook no contradiction.  Reason can only grasp what lies on its boundaries.  Beyond that, it is useless.

 

For these folks, I always suggest that they eat a modest 5g of mushrooms on a weekly basis, say every Friday night, for about 6 months to a year and then tell me if they still hold to this point of view.  Of course, not many people, even those who believe in the fruits of serious engagement with a sacred plant, such as the Psilocybe mushrooms, will hold to this level of commitment.  What I have heard from some whom I have invited to participate in this level of work with me personally is "I only need to take it once every year or two to know what it is all about" or "I already have received what it is capable of giving me" and maybe that is absolutely true.  But I will insist, as one person on this forum already understands, that serial commitment and regular work with the sacred mushrooms for a longer period of time can be profoundly life transforming.

 

You seem to have many miles on the path I'm now taking first steps on.

 

As for the thread in general, I think Wittgenstein probably has the best description of the occult: that which can not be said, only shown. I think the first, most basic occult art which all people are inducted into is the magic of speech. There truly is something magical about communication, but is that magical quality something which is itself apt to be communicated?



#24 makinbones69

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Posted 18 September 2020 - 08:52 PM

I dig mathers. Crowley is a loon. Just my opinion. I dig the way macgreggor mathers did his influence on OOGD right? order of golden dawn. I get unfamiliar again I just dabble a bit and offer this response to see where it goes and mybe learn a bit. Book of Thoth was trash. I dig Papus' translation of esoteric qabalah and its similarity to many eastern philosophies bigtime. All this is poorly written i apologize for that. Anyway my opinion not solidified. Maybe I'll gain some new sources to check out.

I will definitely look at the offered sources above when I get around to it ty for that information for sure ... sounds interesting.


Edited by makinbones69, 18 September 2020 - 08:54 PM.

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#25 elfstone

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Posted 18 September 2020 - 09:39 PM

I am not an expert in OTO, though I remain open minded, I was never drawn to the path opened by Aleister Crowley.  

 

I have found the Gurdjieff work to be more practical, following the oral tradition, and it suits my aims better than any other path since it is situated to be practiced in ordinary life.  I also find the ideas in the AMORC useful for cultivating my mystical side, though in some regards it is less practical than the Fourth Way.  

 

I was introduced to the Work in 1974 by my friend and neighbor, who was a musical professor at the undergraduate university I attended.  He was a 2nd generation student, having worked with Christopher Fremantle, who worked directly with Gurdjieff, and so I could be considered a 3rd generation practitioner, one of Beelzebub's many "grandsons."  Once I was introduced to G. I. Gurdjieff's magnum opus, All and Everything, particularly Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson or an Objectively Impartial Criticism on the Life of Man, there was no turning back.  Beelzebub's Tales essentially saved my life because I had finally encountered someone who despised Western "civilization" every but as much as I did, if not more, and offered a means to become free of its limitations.  Everything I read in Beelzebub's Tales  resonated as the deepest truth I had yet encountered in life.  It still does, even more so with re-reading it over time.

 

I was blessed to discover that committed work with the mushroom in sequential, serial sessions revealed the territory described in Beelzebub's Tales chapter 39, The Holy Planet Purgatory,  and fully illuminated the teachings I was receiving through the oral tradition by allowing for a more rapid direct experience.  The Little Saints taught me directly how to achieve a more rapid coating of the kesdjan body and higher being body through Aiëssirittoorassnian contemplation https://gurdjieff.work/ae/terms/en50/0019.htm.  Gurdjieff called these plants, polormodekhtian plants as they contain substances accumulated from other planets outside our solar system https://gurdjieff.wo...s/en50/0584.htm.   I was fortunate in that my teacher was receptive to this line of exploration and encouraged it.  Now, after 45 years of direct work along this line, I have quite a bit to say about it all, but am awaiting the chance to find the time to commit the material to the written word.  I am still completing my own experimental elucidations on the best way to transmit this knowledge.  I have a feeling it will likely have to wait until my grandson is mature enough to receive it directly from myself before what I have acquired is perhaps lost forever.

 

Beelzebub's Tales was written by Gurdjieff to be fairly impenetrable, unless one is initiated into the oral tradition, though if one were persistent enough, the essential teachings can be understood to some degree.  To the extent that these ideas come alive in one, one will be drawn to the oral stream at some point or other.  He also wrote it with future generations in mind, seeing the limitations of those among the first generation of practitioners and knowing full well that he could not transmit it all to any single individual or group of individuals. 

 

I would not speak of these things generally as it would serve no purpose.  My only point here, in a discussion on the occult among people of our Mycotopia community is to plant a seed of possibility in those who are receptive. 


Edited by elfstone, 18 September 2020 - 10:45 PM.

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#26 TVCasualty

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Posted 19 September 2020 - 08:28 AM

 I have a feeling it will likely have to wait until my grandson is mature enough to receive it directly from myself before what I have acquired is perhaps lost forever.

 

We don't have that kind of time left, assuming he's ten or more years away from that point.

 

We're about to lose a whole lot of things for at least a few Centuries, if not forever. It would be interesting to be able to determine how much of our collective failure of consciousness (I consider our rapidly-destabilizing climate and growing geopolitical insanity to ultimately be a failure of consciousness) can be attributed to "hiding" paths and/or practices that are ostensibly designed to awaken or increase consciousness.

 

The notion that some (or many) are not ready for such awareness or teachings will prevent a lot of people from ever receiving them at all, and it's the overwhelming hordes of the minimally-conscious who are driving us all towards an ecological collapse and loss of biodiversity that could send us back to something resembling the Stone Age, if not render us extinct. Western Civilization as it stands may be a scourge on many levels, but it's arguably worse to let it collapse and try to start again from scratch than to work to renovate it into something sustainable while we still can, assuming we haven't already crossed that line (I try to remain optimistic).

 

This is why I have a strong reflexive aversion to the concept of "hidden" knowledge, in any context. The way such concepts have been dealt with historically has obviously not protected us from reaching the existential tipping point we now collectively find ourselves confronting so it seems to me that another approach is needed, even if only temporarily ("desperate times" and all that). Various religions and "the Occult" and all the rest have had their chance to do their thing (or "work their magic," as it were) for at least a few thousand years at this point, and while they worked out pretty well for various individuals occasionally they have arguably failed us as a species (and society).

 

This assumes that the goals of such knowledge or practices include a focus on Big Picture collective sustainability and are not merely about one's own personal spiritual journey (I don't know if that's the case or not as I'm not inclined to play hide-and-seek with this stuff).

 

We won't have much time to devote to spiritual development if we're busy searching for (and increasingly fighting for) potable water (among other basics), which more and more people around the world are already being forced to do. The Zen quote "Before enlightenment, chop wood and carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood and carry water" comes to mind. That quote assumes there's still wood to chop and water to carry (in the literal, physical sense). If not then enlightenment or whatever else we can attain in a spiritual sense won't be of much use since we won't be around to experience it. I suppose the concept of enlightenment in a context of collapse and extinction would be the ultimate form of Occult knowledge, hidden from everyone forever.

 

On the other hand, there's probably some truth to the notion that "It is dangerous to understand new things too quickly," which kind of sounds like a justification for keeping certain things hidden, or at least revealing them slowly. I'm taking that quote out of context since it was spoken by Josiah Warren, who was an individualist anarchist and so was probably not into the Occult or occluding things in general, but it seemed applicable. Anyway, it seems to me that we're at a point where it's much more dangerous to fail to understand the new things we're being confronted with quickly enough. Granted, these concerns aren't exactly "new" since plenty of past civilizations have failed for similar reasons, but never before at a truly global scale and without any more new frontiers of unexploited resources to move to.



#27 elfstone

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Posted 19 September 2020 - 09:32 AM

Ecological collapse is rapidly unfolding but I think it will take a couple hundred years or so to fully implode.  I have come to the conclusion that if humanity, like the dinosaurs, does not fulfill the purpose we are meant to serve in the broader planetary ecology of energies, we will likely be eliminated or at least drastically reduced in numbers.  

 

Trying to wake enough people up using esoteric teachings is kind of like trying to train everyone to become a surgeon because we need more surgeons.  The training necessary to truly wake up is long, arduous, and one must deeply desire, with all one's being, to apply oneself fully to the task in order for progress to be made.  Most people, it seems to me, are not up to this most arduous and difficult task.  Gurdjieff once used the metaphor of an oak tree in discussing the state of humanity with Fritz Peters.  He asked Fritz how many acorns did he think were on the oak tree outside his window.  Fritz estimated something like a couple thousand or more.  Then he asked how many did he think would take root and eventually become a full grown oak tree.  Fritz replied that maybe two or three might succeed.  Most acorns fall to the ground and serve other purposes, such has fertilizing the soil, feeding the squirrels, etc.   Gurdjieff indicated that this is how it is with human beings as well.  We have the potential to awaken, but it is very rare for people to do so.  

 

There are massive forces that conspire to prevent awakening form even happening, particularly "the abnormal conditions of being existence established by them themselves."  This includes the establishment of customs that allow one group of humanity to dominate and use others.  Amazon is a great example of this.  Jeff Bezos is making billions on the labor of others (capital) who suffer very difficult working conditions and mistreatment inside the corporate machinery.  These conditions are replicated across cultures and societies on a global level.  Our educational system is also all about obedience.  Teaching to the test has been imposed by our legislators and forces obedience from teachers and students.  Creativity is actively stifled and fought against by such a system.  Learning to think for oneself is the last thing such a system wants for our children.  

 

Messengers from Above have been trying to right this sad state of affairs for all of human history and largely failed.  So, it is up to us to do the best we can.  Our first duty is to take care of ourselves and progress as far as we can while bringing those we have contact with along with us as best we can.  Political involvement may be part of that, but it is necessary to be practical and know when pushing up against the machinery of the cosmos is what one is called to do or not.  Some of us are called to work quietly and unobtrusively.  Look at those who have been called to challenge the machine.  Martin Luther King, Jr., Ghandi, Jesus Christ, etc., that road is a very hard one.  Some of us are called to take this road.  Others are called to take another.  Each of us must find out for ourselves what path we are destined to walk.  We all have a responsibility to first take good care of ourselves in order to be effective in what we are called to do in this world.  Working ourselves up into a paroxysm of hopelessness hardly seems a useful course of action.  There are other levels of reality at play in all this and it is helpful to grow into an awareness of this through work on oneself.  Until that happens, we may act but be entirely misguided.


Edited by elfstone, 19 September 2020 - 09:45 AM.

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#28 Severian

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Posted 19 September 2020 - 06:24 PM

 Working ourselves up into a paroxysm of hopelessness hardly seems a useful course of action.  There are other levels of reality at play in all this and it is helpful to grow into an awareness of this through work on oneself.  Until that happens, we may act but be entirely misguided.

 

Ive been thinking about this alot lately- The first half of this, regarding hopelessness, I disagree with- though it is in part a semantical disagreement.

 

I think a certain measure of hopelessness is actually, absolutely needed- A recognition of the hopelessness of acting within 'normal' channels to attempt to achieve any sort of meaningful change, of the sort of 'if we all act right now we can save the planet!". Waking up the to the reality of the situation we collectively face; ie, that large scale systemic change is just not going to happen; not fast enough or on a large enough scale to make any real difference. That ship has set sail a long time ago

 

But, that acceptance of the reality we face can be the catalyst needed to start exploring other, occult channels- Just because the 'save the world' game is lost; doesn't mean there aren't other avenues that are highly profitable to explore; namely, as Elfstone said above, a concerted, consistent, inner work with the mushroom.



#29 TVCasualty

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Posted 20 September 2020 - 11:00 AM

Ecological collapse is rapidly unfolding but I think it will take a couple hundred years or so to fully implode.  I have come to the conclusion that if humanity, like the dinosaurs, does not fulfill the purpose we are meant to serve in the broader planetary ecology of energies, we will likely be eliminated or at least drastically reduced in numbers. 


I guess that depends on how we define “implode.”

From where I’m sitting we’re smack in the middle of just such an implosion, evidenced in part by our era being labeled the Holocene (or Anthropocene) extinction, which is only the 6th mass extinction event in the history of all life on Earth. And it’s just getting started. In an Evolutionary sense we’re just an asteroid that takes a bit longer than most to do its thing, but we don’t tend to be aware of it since we have such a narrow and skewed sense of time.

And that’s not even the primary threat to civilization, since that will fall apart long before the climate is “fully” destabilized or the loss of insect species and biodiversity in general crosses a critical tipping point for entire ecosystems. All that’s required to stop us in our tracks is a “sufficient” level of destabilization or loss of biodiversity.

Unfortunately for us we’re only going to be able to determine with certainty where that point is after we cross it, but the trend lines are converging at an accelerating rate and most of the ones I’m watching close will -probably- be crossing in the next few years, give or take. Granted, all we really have are probabilities for various outcomes, but some of the existential threats we face are becoming exponentially-more probable to the point where it would be crazy to bet against them (if this were a game of chance).

Whenever declining availability of fresh water fails to meet the increasing demand then life will get really interesting very quickly wherever that happens. And that’s only one of many such troubling supply vs. demand trends.

 

It’s like civilization is hanging from many disparate but interconnected threads, and only one has to snap to start the cascade of systemic failure of the rest. To me that calls for extreme prudence and doing whatever we can to increase our resilience and sustainability as a buffer against such vulnerability, but those with their hands on the big levers of industrial civilization seem to be accelerating full-speed ahead in the opposite direction. And accelerating towards a hard limit of something like fresh water availability when we should be slamming on the brakes suggests a collision is likely imminent (in this case a collision with the ecological reality of various sets of boundary conditions that we cannot survive exceeding). 
 


Most people, it seems to me, are not up to this most arduous and difficult task.  Gurdjieff once used the metaphor of an oak tree in discussing the state of humanity with Fritz Peters.  He asked Fritz how many acorns did he think were on the oak tree outside his window.  Fritz estimated something like a couple thousand or more.  Then he asked how many did he think would take root and eventually become a full grown oak tree.  Fritz replied that maybe two or three might succeed.  Most acorns fall to the ground and serve other purposes, such has fertilizing the soil, feeding the squirrels, etc.   Gurdjieff indicated that this is how it is with human beings as well.  We have the potential to awaken, but it is very rare for people to do so.  

 


Well, I can agree that we’re all nuts and that some of us are only good for fertilizer.

 

But it kind of seems to me like that metaphor was stretched a bit far there, and smacks of a subtle elitism. Or not-so-subtle, perhaps. And “awakening” is a nebulous concept, one of those “I know it when I see it” kind of things (whether we’re awake or not, ironically), but how do we know it when we see it unless we’re already awake? And it’s one thing to feel like we have awakened, but quite another to assess others’ status in that regard and relegate some to being fertilizer and others to squirrel food. And if we're not feeling awake then it's simple enough to prescribe us more "work" to do, which implicitly precludes a critique of the approach as maybe not working as well as assumed; e.g., it's not an incomplete or flawed system (ain't they all?), we're just lazy or whatever, or maybe we're one of the nuts destined to be fertilizer or squirrel food, but then if destiny is a thing then intent and hard work are irrelevant since the outcomes would be preordained.

It’s easy to sit on the comfy cushion at the front of the room and assess the state of other people’s minds or spiritual development when the rent is paid, the water is clean, and the pantry is stocked. If that's not the case then we’re too busy taking care of our basic physical survival needs to have the slack to “work” on philosophical abstractions.

 

People living in refugee camps and such have much more important and immediate (and tangible) work to do since enlightenment is unattainable if one is dead, or struggling to stay alive. And we’re all getting disturbingly close to ending up in refugee camps, even in the U.S. (a lot of people in Oregon and California are already at that point but Americans are apparently strongly averse to calling themselves “refugees” no matter what is going on).

 

This includes the establishment of customs that allow one group of humanity to dominate and use others.  Amazon is a great example of this.  Jeff Bezos is making billions on the labor of others (capital) who suffer very difficult working conditions and mistreatment inside the corporate machinery.  These conditions are replicated across cultures and societies on a global level.  Our educational system is also all about obedience.  Teaching to the test has been imposed by our legislators and forces obedience from teachers and students.  Creativity is actively stifled and fought against by such a system.  Learning to think for oneself is the last thing such a system wants for our children.  

Messengers from Above have been trying to right this sad state of affairs for all of human history and largely failed.  So, it is up to us to do the best we can.  Our first duty is to take care of ourselves and progress as far as we can while bringing those we have contact with along with us as best we can.  Political involvement may be part of that, but it is necessary to be practical and know when pushing up against the machinery of the cosmos is what one is called to do or not.  Some of us are called to work quietly and unobtrusively.  Look at those who have been called to challenge the machine.  Martin Luther King, Jr., Ghandi, Jesus Christ, etc., that road is a very hard one.  Some of us are called to take this road.  Others are called to take another.  Each of us must find out for ourselves what path we are destined to walk.  We all have a responsibility to first take good care of ourselves in order to be effective in what we are called to do in this world.  Working ourselves up into a paroxysm of hopelessness hardly seems a useful course of action.  There are other levels of reality at play in all this and it is helpful to grow into an awareness of this through work on oneself.  Until that happens, we may act but be entirely misguided.

 


That all sounds reasonable enough, and Gurdjieff seems like a very early manifestation of the now-common syncretist neo-gurus who promote mashups of longstanding Eastern and Western traditions. I'm a fan of keeping the proverbial babies from any and all traditions and tossing the bathwater, which creates what I'd describe as a spiritual variant of "hybrid vigor" observed in Evolution. If such an approach helps people awaken to a greater awareness of the world around and within them (however they define “awake”) before any existential tipping points are crossed then it’s a worthy path among many even if it’s arguably unnecessarily convoluted.

“Hope” is a secular form of prayer and while prayer has a purpose and function, so do political, economic, and ecological facts. Those more mundane realities require “awakening” to as well, as we seem to be discovering a bit too late though I certainly hope I’m wrong about that.



#30 elfstone

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Posted 20 September 2020 - 03:39 PM

I agree with TVCasualty that It does look extremely bleak. It is anyone’s guess how soon the major tipping point will arrive, but for the West coast, it has already happened. Signs are here in the Midwest as well. I remember driving 125 miles to visit my parents as a twenty-something in the 1970s and having to stop at the gas station halfway there to clean the bugs off of the windshield. Now, I can drive there and back and not a single bug. When walking on state land we used to have to put on hats, mosquito netting and liberally spray on insect repellent in order to look for morel mushrooms without being eaten alive by the insects. Now, there are virtually no bugs to speak of. As a boy, a loud chorus of frogs and bullfrogs would sing us to sleep throughout the spring and summer months. Now, not one croak can be heard. The situation has grown dire.

Given that, I cannot give up and just retreat into some kind of “spiritual” path that neglects its responsibility to humanity and our descendants. At this point, spirituality IS activism. It is good to learn from those who have gone before us, MLK, etc. and use nonviolent resistance. It also helps to stop supporting these monster corporations that put greed above all else. I remain hopeful that it is not entirely too late. Even if it is, as Chris Hedges says, we must act because it is the right thing to do.


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#31 TVCasualty

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Posted 21 September 2020 - 12:10 PM

Given that, I cannot give up and just retreat into some kind of “spiritual” path that neglects its responsibility to humanity and our descendants. At this point, spirituality IS activism. It is good to learn from those who have gone before us, MLK, etc. and use nonviolent resistance. It also helps to stop supporting these monster corporations that put greed above all else. I remain hopeful that it is not entirely too late. Even if it is, as Chris Hedges says, we must act because it is the right thing to do.
 

 

Me neither. That's why I try to help promote and propagate the knowledge of how to grow psilocybes to anyone interested and don't live in the little off-grid strawbale cabin I helped build way out in the boonies years ago anymore. Well, it was the boonies for the first year or so and then "progress" caught up to it and started building insanely over-lit gas stations nearby that began obscuring the view of the stars at night (which used to be incredible). There's no escape anymore and besides, "If you hide with mice, the cat-claws will find you!" (a translated Rumi quote I find applicable in lots of contexts).

 

I can still vividly recall what a single 7-gram dose did to my awareness and consciousness back when I didn't have much of either, and as cliche as it sounds it literally changed everything about my outlook on life and the world. It also made it impossible to give up since it was made clear to me that we will not be let off the hook for failing to act against whatever manifestations of darkness we've been made aware of. Like freedom, awareness also comes with responsibility (grr...).

 

All I had available to me when I began my journey was an intent to explore alternatives to a life I could no longer tolerate and a bag full of amazing molecules stashed in some dried mushrooms I paid the full black-market retail rate for. I had no teacher, no guide or specific guidance, and no clue about the nature of what I was undertaking beyond some comments about tripping on peyote I'd read somewhere, plus I ate them in a less-than-ideal setting with a truly horrible mindset but it remains the most transformative experience of my life. It started the ball rolling on increasing my awareness and consciousness, which is an ongoing, life-long effort as there are probably no upper limits to either that we're likely to reach in our lifetime.

 

 

I guess that experience informs my tendency to have a reflexive aversion to things labeled "religion" or a subset of same (e.g., the occult). Mushrooms and entheogens in general strike me as the polar opposite of the occult since they reveal rather than hide or obscure, and I don't think we have the luxury of enough time to be secretive or coy about such matters. We need to turn on all the lights right now, and we lack the time for conventional approaches to spiritual awakening like the traditional decade-plus long apprenticeships under gurus and shamans and such.

 

It might be dangerous to understand new things too quickly, but it can be downright fatal to not understand them quickly enough.

 

So I advocate getting mushrooms into as many heads as possible as soon as possible as a top priority in efforts to "save the world" and working out the details of how to help each other analyze, interpret, and integrate the resulting experiences later, if time allows.



#32 elfstone

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Posted 21 September 2020 - 03:50 PM

The mushroom literally changed my life and turned it upside down several times over. I was a back-to-Nature hippie in 1974 when I had my first two experiences with what must have been Ps. semperviva provided to me by a professor friend. Then, thanks to Terence McKenna and Lux Natura, from 1976 on we had a steady supply. We ate them regularly and journeyed in a Samadhi isolation tank. This took us from the organic garden to graduate school in search of a livelihood that was more in line with what my essence was called to, serving others on their inner and outer journeys. Then, in graduate school, I provided weekly sessions for a 1 year period with several fellow graduate students. I lived inside of the university hospital academic research institutional setting at that time. Then the internet brought more of us together in the 1990s and the Shulgin tweaks were freely distributed by enlightened chemists. We eventually lost interest in these as they lack the resonance of the natural plant psychedelics. Eventually, folks who were on the other side came round, consulting with us, and government approved psilocybin research began again at John Hopkins University. The quiet underground work contributed to seeding the current research in psychedelics. In the 1980s under the Reagan/Bush culture wars we had to deny any interest or risk academic career suicide. Ironically, in the mid to late 1990s the head of NIDA, Bob Schuster, was in my office inquiring about my underground work with psilocybin mushrooms.

Now I openly provide psychedelic integration therapy to folks who grow their own mushrooms and want someone to process it with. So 46 years of quiet underground work has resulted in this being brought forth to the public. It is only going to get bigger and it is needed to facilitate a more rapid awakening. Given that we are winning the culture war I remain hopeful that real change will continue to grow and shift the collective toward a more awakened place. The ecological movement is in many ways fed by the human contact with sacred plant intelligence.


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Edited by elfstone, 21 September 2020 - 03:51 PM.

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#33 clumsy

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Posted 21 September 2020 - 05:51 PM

 

We won't have much time to devote to spiritual development if we're busy searching for (and increasingly fighting for) potable water (among other basics), which more and more people around the world are already being forced to do.

I tend to see science and engineering saving us when political systems won't. Water purification, for instance.

 

Back to my original question: "What is the goal of both OTO and the fourth way? What might be the end result of treading those paths?" I just read an excellent (though long) blog post that discusses Primitive Mind vs. Higher Mind. It seems plausible to me that a path like the fourth way might teach concepts as expressed therein. Am I entirely mistaken?



#34 elfstone

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Posted 21 September 2020 - 09:13 PM

Entering the Fourth Way is like entering any school.  It is a lengthy training process where we receive direct instruction from a teacher. It is empirically based and subject it to peer review.   One is essentially building a body of understanding that takes years of work and specific training.  There are preparatory training exercises that give one the necessary skills to correctly practice self-remembering, which Gurdjieff referred to in Beelzebub’s Tales as “all-brained-balanced-being-perceptiveness.”  This is a state where the head brain (cerebrum) is directing attention on to the moving brain (Sensing) (principally based in the spinal column) while simultaneously being aware of the emotional brain (solar plexus).  One then becomes a self-directing being with all three forces operating, affirming, denying, reconciling, working cooperatively together.  Until one can attain a stable state of self-remembering where all three centers are operating in harmony, one tends to identify with one center over the others and is basically hallucinating, that is, one is out of touch with the Real world.  One must attain a state of self-remembering in order for work on oneself to begin.  This is really only learned through a school with a teacher who knows what they are doing.  Gurdjieff packed it all in his magnum opus, All and Everything, but to understand it requires contact with the oral tradition.  A good online school is https://gurdjieff.work/

There is also the Gurdjieff Foundation or the J.G. Bennett line.  A google search bring up links to these schools.
 

Something similar happens in the OTO and the only way to learn is to connect with a teacher in the tradition.  I am less interested in “magick” and more interested in growing my understanding through practice of the Fourth Way.  If you’re interested in the OTO go to the U.S Grand Lodge website and connect with your local group:  https://oto-usa.org


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#35 TVCasualty

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Posted 22 September 2020 - 10:06 AM

 

 

We won't have much time to devote to spiritual development if we're busy searching for (and increasingly fighting for) potable water (among other basics), which more and more people around the world are already being forced to do.

I tend to see science and engineering saving us when political systems won't. Water purification, for instance.


 

 

The Achilles Heel of technological solutions is scaling them up enough to make an impact at the scale required within the time available. For example, it's one thing to design something to scoop up the plastic swirling around in the ocean and remove it for recycling or otherwise disposing of more sustainably, but it's another to scale up such tech to where it can trawl areas of ocean larger than Texas then replicate it enough to handle all the major oceanic gyres that are teeming with plastic, which is all of them.

 

And that's just one ecological disaster in need of immediate mitigation at a global scale among many.

 

But that's another topic.


Edited by TVCasualty, 22 September 2020 - 10:07 AM.


#36 clumsy

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Posted 22 September 2020 - 03:30 PM

 


 

The Achilles Heel of technological solutions is scaling them up enough to make an impact at the scale required within the time available. 

 

 

 

That depends on the technology in question. Another technology is the electrification of transit. Scaling up is largely happening despite (not because of) central government.

 

Also, people are eating less meat, again not due to help/encouragement from government. This is also good news.

 

Finally, war is fought less now than in the past.



#37 Coopdog

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Posted 22 September 2020 - 05:21 PM

I would put the term Occult as an umbrella term that encompasses most anything to do with changing, manifesting, or creating something within reality, whether from nothing, or from the ethereal, through imprinting ones own will on our reality. I think the term occult has been sort of manufactured to add a dark or fringe tone to manifestation of any kind. I think this has been done to dissuade us talented and capable human beings from exercising and exploring our own gifts as part of the universe. I believe deeply that we were empowered as manipulators and creators in our own right. The bible says God made us in his image. What or who "God" is, is a whole other deep discussion. I have more to add on all of this but wanted to make a mark here to be able to find this easily again when I have had time to read the thread. I love stuff like this, and it has never ceased to amaze me the depth of the broad spectrum minds we have here on Topia. It is our one singular best strengths as a community, and I love that about this place. I have not found it anywhere else, and most similar sites are very immature in comparison to this place. No disrespect to any of them, but Topia seems to have one hell of a base in the deep waters of the mind. 


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#38 TVCasualty

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Posted 23 September 2020 - 09:45 AM

I think the term occult has been sort of manufactured to add a dark or fringe tone to manifestation of any kind. I think this has been done to dissuade us talented and capable human beings from exercising and exploring our own gifts as part of the universe.

 

From this thread it looks like the meaning of the term (if not the technically-accurate dictionary definition of it) largely depends on who is asking and who is answering. I guess the catch with this thread is that it asked about our conceptions of the occult, not about what the occult "is."

 

Judging by the varying responses it looks like "occult" is an ambiguous catch-all word, like "sex" or "sports." That is, if we ask someone what they think about "sex" or "sports" without specifying anything else then the words act like Rorschach ink blots, which might provide interesting anecdotes but won't facilitate a productive discussion. It's one of those words that we usually just assume we know what it refers to when we're asked about it based on the associated imagery and feelings it evokes in our minds, which sets the stage for a whole lot of misinterpretation and miscommunication since my assumptions and someone else's assumptions about a given term can be radically different.

 

Upon further reflection, this seems to be the dominant phenomenon of the moment and directly related to social unrest as there are now more ambiguous terms like that in use than I can think of. What does "black lives matter" mean? And what does "Black Lives Matter" in all-caps mean? How about "Marxist," "patriot," "thug," "urban," "law and order," and so on? Funny how so many such terms also function as political dog whistles (including "the occult") but that's only because we generally don't stop and establish exactly what everyone involved means when they use such a term before proceeding to argue about it.


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