Category Archives: Gnostic Philosophy

More Words I

foxLast night, the fox came back. I’m getting over the flu, and the night was restless; every time sleep seemed to draw me in, a nasty cough chased it away, a condition that continues remorselessly as I type this next part of his recitation, not having slept for at least ten hours.  

Then there was the fox, sitting on a rock, talking as though he’d never left.

Listen, you know how every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings, or some such silliness? Well here’s another one for you: every time a human in a suit says the word ‘Efficiency,’ another human loses her livelihood. If they say they want you to be more efficient, what they mean is, they can’t afford to pay somebody else. Evil, I tell you– and the worst of all the critters are the ones riding on the shoulders of the ‘consultants.’ If you see a ‘consultant’ coming, the hair on the back of your neck’d better be standing at attention.

You think efficiency is good, and it is when you’re talking about fuel, or soup, but not when you’re talking about humans. When you’re a human trying to live a life, it’s best to do as little work as you need to do, so you have some extra time to do things like play with your kids or draw or go for a walk. If you don’t have a little extra time, you go crazy. But, when you’re in a situation where some cold-blooded critter-ridden consultant is telling you you need to do more, and faster, not only are you losing time, you’re also taking away somebody else’s.

Let me tell you a story about this chicken I once knew. She was out in the farmyard, scritching around, and she finds this sack of wheat, see? (She didn’t have no gluten allergies.) So she starts thinking about how nice it would be to have some bread, but how it’s kind of a pain to make bread when you’re a chicken, so maybe she could find some help. She decided to ask her friend the dog. “Hey dog, you want to make some bread? It’ll be less work for us if we both chip in, then we can share it.”

“Sure,” said the dog. “You grind the wheat, and I’ll mix it into dough.”

So the chicken ground up the wheat and took off to do something fun while the dog mixed it into dough. Although they’d both done less work than they’d have done if they’d tried to do it on their own, they were pretty tired, so they decided to see if the cat wanted in, too. “Hey, cat,” said the chicken, “we’ve done some of the work, here, but now we need somebody to knead the dough. Any interest?” 

The cat was used to kneading, of course, what with its claws, so it agreed, and kneaded away while the dog and the chicken took a nice nap. Finally, they let the dough rise, and the loaf was ready to bake. “This is gonna be great,” said the chicken, “but I’d sure like to keep napping. Maybe the duck can bake the bread for us.

The duck was more than happy to bake the bread, so it put the bread in the oven and kept an eye on it, glad it didn’t have to go through the entire bread-making process.

Finally, the delicious bread was finished. The duck took it out of the oven, and they sat at the table in the farmyard. They even shared some with the pig, because why not? It smelled so good, the farmer came out of the farmhouse and stood scratching his head.

“You animals know how to bake bread?” he asked.

“The proof is in the pudding,” said the chicken. “I ground the wheat, the dog mixed the dough, the cat kneaded the dough and the duck baked the loaf.”

“It was all the chicken’s idea,” said the other animals, praising their friend for her initiative.

“Well shit,” thought the farmer. “A chicken who knows how to bake bread. Hell if I need to keep feeding the rest of these animals.” So he shot the dog, drowned the cat, cooked the duck (and the pig) and made the chicken bake four loaves each day, because that was way more efficient, see?

For the sake of a functioning family, everybody needs a little something to do, a little role to play. Maybe it’s not anything more than how a little kid can ‘help’ dad take in the washing. Maybe it’s that one person chops the beans and the other person boils the water. Maybe it’s you clean your room and I clean mine. But, it’s the sane way to do things.

Seriously, end Efficiency now, or ya’ll are gonna have some serious issues down the road a piece. You can sing this: “Give everybody, a little something to do, and that means less work for the rest of you. Make one person do all of the work, and you may be faster and richer but you’re kind of a jerk.”

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Interview on Aeon Byte Rebroadcast this Weekend!

The lovely and talented (not to mention extremely good-looking) Miguel Conner will be rebroadcasting an interview with yours truly all weekend long!

http://www.aeonbytegnosticradio.com/2013/01/teaser-for-gnosis-without-gnosticism.html

We’ll be talking about “Gnosis Without Gnosticism,” the concept behind This Way, which can be found– along with a bevy of other instruments of literary pleasure– in the This Way Bookstore.

Mine’s an ‘umble offering; he’s got a whole slew of amazing conversations to download on his site. If you’re not a regular listener to Aeon Byte— the *original* online Gnostic media– what are you waiting for?

Turn On, Tune In, Wake Up!

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Christmas is About Presents!

nativity-coloring-pages-5Now that Christmas has begun (12 days, people!), I thought it might be interesting to talk about “the meaning of Christmas.” I was listening to NPR the other day, and a caller asked what seems like a really reasonable question: why Christmas, and not Easter? I mean, Easter is the BIG day, right? It’s the holiest of holidays on the Christian calendar, symbolizes the return of God to Earth, etc.– so why don’t we have months of Easter commercials and Easter lights and Easter carols and specials and movies about people finding love on Easter underneath the Easter tree?

The hosts answered with some rather underwhelming thoughts about how we all have birthdays and everybody thinks babies are cute and what a good story, but underlined that the history of the celebration as we know it is fairly complex. I think the reason is a little simpler, and a little more primal. I think that Christmas is about how awesome it is to get presents. 

 

Now wait, before you get all “yikes! Materialism, commercialism, Linus’s speech, you fiend!” let me explain what I mean.  Think about your best Christmas memories, and how amazing Christmas can be, and you’ll likely include at least a couple of things you remember from childhood. I remember, for instance, the old steamer trunk we used to store our decorations, and how exciting it would be to open it on the day the tree arrived, and the books it contained that only came out once a year. I remember caroling and driving around looking at lights. But, in a large way, I really remember the anticipation of waking up on Christmas morning and running out to the living room to see what was left under the tree.

That sense of anticipation, the sense of hope, was always sweeter than the actual revelation of the contents of the wrapped boxes and packages strewn across the living room floor.  And this is what I mean by Christmas is about how awesome it is to get presents. It’s about the entire season, the journey that begins on Thanksgiving and ends when the last present is opened. It’s about looking forward to a delightful dinner and a day off of work. It’s about having to wait without knowing *exactly* what you’ll get. Will it be disappointing? Will it be awesome? EEEE, I can’t sleep!!!

Because, you see, this is the message of the original Christmas story: a couple in the ancient Near East wander around because they’re ordered to by the government, and even though she’s pregnant, they keep getting turned away from inn to inn (what a nifty metaphor for life in the World of Forms!). Eventually, they find a place to stay, and it’s a place that’s pretty dirty, a stinky old stable full of animals (no matter what the current jerk of a pope says, there most certainly were donkeys and cows and camels and such), and then Mary gives birth to a tiny baby who will eventually… wait for it… WAIT FOR IT… SAVE THE WHOLE WORLD! Yow!

See, it’s all about anticipation! It’s all about hope! It’s intended to tell us that no matter how shitty things get down here in the World of Forms, no matter how long we have to wait, the True God has a plan. It may take some time, and it may not turn out exactly the way we expected it to, but for those of us in the know (wink wink I’m looking at you!), the sweetness of anticipation and the hope of the redemption of the World of Forms makes putting up with all of these Archons totally worthwhile.

Obvs people think that the three kings (who really should be called ‘the group of astrologers’) brought the first Christmas gifts– all that gold and incense (say, what happened to all of that stuff, anyhow? Wouldn’t that have been useful to a carpenter’s family in ancient Palestine? Did Joseph maybe keep it for himself, use it to supplement the family’s income for a while? Er, sorry, losing track here…)– all that gold and incense weren’t the first gift. The first Christmas present was the promise represented by that little baby resting in the animal’s food, the promise that even though his power is limited here in this realm of imperfection, he’s got a plan, and it just might work, so we have something to hope for.

So don’t get all uppity with kids who are really excited about getting stuff for Christmas. It’s okay to hope that something terrific is under the tree, wrapped in paper– in fact, that’s what it’s all about. 

Now get out there and enjoy the rest of your Christmas!

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A Curse

This is, of course, one of the main reasons I’m a Gnostic, because I know that the True God is GOOD, but can’t always come through because the God of This World is the Demiurge.

It’s because this jackass Mike Huckabee says a school shooting happened because we don’t pray in school. WHAT A RIGHTEOUS GUY, AMIRIGHT?

It’s because this sick bastard Bryan Fischer  says “God doesn’t go where he’s not wanted,” and so he let all those kids– LITTLE KINDERGARTENERS– die in TERROR because we don’t pray in school.

It’s because so many ADOLESCENT FUCKS can’t be bothered to talk about gun control because they don’t want to piss off a bunch of INDUSTRY SHITHEADS who give them money.

It’s because ACTUAL LAWMAKERS who purport to be THINKING, REASONING INDIVIDUALS, pass laws that GIVE PEOPLE THE RIGHT TO CARRY CONCEALED WEAPONS IN ***FUCKING DAYCARES!!!!*** 

PEOPLE, DON’T BE MISTAKEN: Huckabee and Fischer and mainstream Democrats and Rightwing Politicians and Gun Nuts *DO* worship the God of this World, but the only way this makes ANY sense, the only way in which these MOTHERFUCKERS can get away with this kind of ABJECT EVIL and have SO MANY PEOPLE AGREE WITH THEM is that the God of this World is ONE SICK PUPPY.  And, as a Gnostic, I know that the God of this World is the DEMIURGE.

It’s the DEMIURGE who speaks through these individuals, not the True God. The DEMIURGE is the one who won’t help little kids because we don’t pray in school, who giggles at the idea of HIDDEN WEAPONS IN PRESCHOOLS, who turns the HOUSE OF PRAYER into a DEN OF ROBBERS.  And these SHIT-EATING JACKANAPES who blame the DEAD KINDERGARTENERS for not PRAYING, and their allies, the SLIME-COVERED SPEWERS of PUS who whinge and moan about how we can’t POLITICIZE the fact that we CAN’T BE BOTHERED TO TALK ABOUT HOW MAYBE THE CLINICALLY ILL SHOULDN’T HAVE ACCESS TO THINGS SOLDIERS CARRY, these PACKS OF SCOUNDRELS are the DEMIURGE’S LAP-DOGS, the FILTH-EATING GHOULS who merrily lap the BLOOD out of his SKULL-CHALICE.

The TRUE GOD, the God of the Christos and Sophia, the Limitless Light, he doesn’t pull this kind of horse-shit. Here’s the thing about the True God: you’ve been LIED to about the True God. You’ve been told he’s all-powerful– “omnipotent”– but he’s not. He does what he can, but he’s pretty limited down here in this World of Forms where old Nobodaddy dances the jig on so many bodies and in so many minds. He knows about the pain we experience down here, but he needs our help to help rescue us. We’re like drowning people — if we struggle like crazy and bleed all over the water, the SHARKS ARE GOING TO BITE US. We need to CALM DOWN, BREATHE and THINK and let the lifeguard do his thing. The True God is our PARTNER, not our RULER, and can’t do everything in the Demiurge’s house FOR US. We can’t just sit around and tread water and WAIT FOR A YACHT when there’s a PERFECTLY GOOD DINGHY passing by.

So that’s why when it comes to addressing a situation like this, where PEOPLE CAN WALK INTO A PLACE AND KILL LOTS OF PEOPLE, we have a little RESPONSIBILITY. MAYBE, JUST MAYBE, the True God might find it IMPRESSIVE if we sat down and THOUGHT for a minute about what we could REALISTICALLY DO about a situation like this.

Look, people– GOD WANTS US TO BE REASONABLE. He wants us to say, “Hey, you know what? Maybe we can come to a compromise so that people who hunt can have reasonable gun rights so they can hunt, and people who we are not 99.9% SURE ABOUT CAN’T HAVE DEVICES THAT ARE DEADLY.” 

(And while I’m at it? FUCK the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution. It’s OUTDATED and BACKWARDS and since we RETHOUGHT THE MAGNA CARTA we can probably RETHINK THAT ARCHAIC  NONSENSE, TOO. 2nd Amendment? DEMIURGE.)

Here’s the thing: I’m PRETTY SURE the True God is Just, and what that means? It means that YOU ASSHATS who value your right to own AK-47s over the RIGHTS OF 20 LITTLE KIDS TO NOT DIE are CURSED. You’re CURSED to BE those little kids, and ALL of the little kids and innocent people who die so YOU can own a MAGIC FIRE-STICK. Mike Huckabee? Bryan Fischer? YOU are going to BE inside every single innocent victim, inside the crushed and broken souls of their friends and families. ALL OF THEM. You’re going to live their lives, experience what they go through, and at some point, right before the end that YOU helped endorse, you’re going to KNOW what you did. THAT is your curse: the CURSE OF KNOWLEDGE.

So enjoy your time in the spotlight. Enjoy the thrill of blaming little kids for their own deaths. Enjoy spreading the word of your Demiurgic philosophies, where the rights of projectile-tossing tube aficionados are more important than the rights of people who don’t like the idea of people getting shot. Enjoy your pancake breakfast with the Archons. But know this: even if you deny it, even if you’ll never hear from people like me, with the influence of a sea urchin and an audience of tens, you’re going to get what you deserve. It’s a guarantee, bitches.

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Premiseless Imperative: Letters, We Get Letters

Taking a temporary break from the action to answer some questions I’ve been sent. They’re best encapsulated in a correspondence I’ve been having with Turmarion, who has graciously agreed to allow me to post his queries and my replies. So, without further ado, here’s his first communique:

 My first question, which is all I’ll ask for now (I don’t want to clutter things up too much) is in regard to the names and practice in the Kimetikos.  In some respects it reminds me of yogic clearing of chakras; in others, it is reminiscent of Jon Kabat-Zinn’s body scan technique.   I realize that despite similarities, you say it’s best to look at the practice in itself.

So, just to clarify:  what exactly is the idea?  I’ve read the articles and have the basic idea, but I’m not completely clear.  Are the Archons being invoked or evoked?  Or exorcised?  Or is the intonation more mantric (as in the association of mantras with specific chakras)?  Obviously one is going to use prayers of protection afterwards (and maybe before); but I just don’t want any unsavory critters getting into the mix unnecessarily!

Great questions!

The goal of the whole Premiseless Imperative process is gnosis, which is ‘knowledge’ based on an awakening experience, plus the application of wisdom, plus a context into which both can be placed. What I’m trying to do is to map out a reasonable context (with a foundation of Gnostic philosophy), and provide some pointers regarding what I consider wise ways to explore self-knowledge, with some suggestions on how people have become ‘awakened’ in the past.

Regarding Kimetikos, I think one can look at the practice on two different levels (which I’ve touched upon briefly before). One way to view it would be psychologically. In this POV, the archons of the body are focal points, and doing the intonations/movements allows you to really get a concentrated self-knowledge of your physiology– similar to the ‘body scan’ technique, but within the context of the myth in the Secret Book of John. The names, in this case, could be seen as mantric; they give you an additional reference point for that particular place in your corpus, and an additional way in which you can become aware of it.

Or, one can look at it “hypostatically,” more literally, in which case we see the named archons as the literal “rulers” of the body. I wouldn’t consider them like “body thetans” or whatever– invisible beings who live in your body– but more like astrological decans; cosmological powers that exist within the scheme of the World of
Forms. You’re not invoking, evoking or summoning them, but basically notifying that you know that they exist, and you’re aware of their influence over the energy and material of your body, and you’re exercising as much control as you can over them, because you know their names. You can’t escape them completely, here in the World of Forms, but you can at least send up a few warning shots, letting them know you’re in on the joke.

Thing is, either approach works just as well; the wisdom comes in deciding which way you’re going to look at it (or even whether you consider your approach a combination of both). This is why I don’t make suggestions either way — it’s something each practitioner needs to decide for him/herself.
—————————-

Boy howdy, do I loves me some questions!  Path of Radical Inquiry and such….  Please send along any questions you have, at any time, via the contact page!

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Anagoge VI: In the Beginning was the Question

Previously in the Premiseless Imperative Series:
Introduction
Kimetikos I: Foundations
Kimetikos II: Theory
Kimetikos III: Practice
Anagoge I: If You Want to be Saved, Admit That You’re A Sinner
Anagoge II: Achtung, Babies!
Anagoge III: Shooting For the Existential Buzz
Anagoge IV: The Perfect Home in Just an Hour
Anagoge V: Scattered Brains Are Better Brains

—————

“The capacity to be puzzled is the premise of all creation, be it in art or in science.”
– Erich Fromm

If you’ve been following this series, by now you’re probably wondering where it’s going. When, you may be asking, do I get to have this gnosis thing (if, of course, you haven’t yet experienced it by doing the previous exercises)?

If not, if you don’t have any questions about this process, congratulations! You’re either already enlightened, or you’re so content being unenlightened that you don’t need it. Or, you’re dead. Regardless, you should probably stop reading this and get back to work, especially if you’re dead.

Of course you have questions, though.  So far, each of these posts has been designed to get you to ask questions– that’s been my ultimate purpose here all along. You may, or may not, be familiar with the concept of the Via Negativa,  a spiritual method of knowing God by describing what it is not.  There’s an excellent example of this in the Secret Book of John (this is from the Davies translation):

The One is without boundaries
Nothing exists outside of it to border it
The One cannot be investigated
Nothing exists apart from it to investigate it
The One cannot be measured
Nothing exists external to it to measure it

The One cannot be seen
For no one can envision it
The One is eternal
For it exists forever
The One is inconceivable
For no one can comprehend it
The One is indescribable
For no one can put any words to it.

What you might not know, however, is that one of the definitions of the word “Logos” is Question. If this is the case, I like to apply this meaning to the opening lines of the Gospel of John: “In the Beginning was the Question, and the Question was with God, and the Question was God.” The methodology I’m trying to employ is the Path of Radical Inquiry, the Via Paradoxia, salvation through the Double Bind.

You can’t know anything without asking about it; the question must precede the answer, so it seems to me that God itself is a Question, and its act of asking about itself is the basis of creation and emanation.

I’ve named this series “The Premiseless Imperative” because to succeed, to experience gnosis, we absolutely must try to cultivate an absence of premise, an absence of assumption. We must try to approach every situation, every interaction with the world of forms, without premise. We must try to experience pure Being, communion with the Great Objective Deity (GOD!), but to do so, we must eliminate all prior states of individuation by constantly and deliberately asking questions.

An example: we might think, “such-and-such a politician is evil. Therefore I hate him.” But, if he’s acting according to his concept of good, is he still evil? What are the circumstances surronding him that may have made him evil? Without knowing experiencing every single circumstance surrounding him, does anything other than our own mind make him evil? What about this “mind” thing? What exactly is “mind”? Does “mind” exist as an ideal, or simply as a series of chemical reactions? If it’s the latter, what caused the reactions that made me think so-and-so is evil?

Is it ever possible for us to know something, definitively? And, isn’t there a danger of falling into the error of solipsism, in which we consider ourselves the only mind that exists? Yes, and yes, but the answer to either of these questions is the answer to both. This Answer, a Great and Terrible Secret Mystery, is Gnosis itself.

The act of inquiry is the single definitive act of conciousness. Every great thought, every great philosophy, spirituality, movement, etc. began with a question. Asking questions is also the most radical act one can perform, and the most essential skill needed to live within the confines of the world of forms. Many of the great teachers of enlightenment– Jesus, Socrates, Gautama Buddha and their adherents, for example– chose the dialectic form, question and answer, to impart information to their students. Information doesn’t “stick” if it doesn’t come in response to honest questions.

The disciples said to Jesus, “Tell us, how will our end come?”
Jesus said, “Have you found the beginning, then, that you are looking for the end?
—–
Mayo: “What is Zen?”
Patriarch: “What is your original face before you were born?”
—–
Socrates: And when he remembered his old habitation, and the wisdom of the den and his fellow-prisoners, do you not suppose that he would felicitate himself on the change, and pity them?

Again, according to our interpretation of Gnostic creation mythology, existence began when God asked itself a question, which we might express as “So?” In asking, God began the process of creating distinctions between objective and subjective, self and other. This act of questioning led the God to continue investigating itself, researching itself, learning about itself. Each Aeon God manifested is an additional question, coupled with its own answer. What is Peace? What is Perfection? Where does Understanding come from? What is God? In contrast, the Demiurge never asked about himself; he proceeded under the assumption that he already knew exactly what the heck was going on when he sprang into existence. Remind you of anyone?

Asking questions is Godlike. When we ask questions we fulfill our roles as sensory organs of God in its eternal quest to come to know itself. Let’s look at another way of reading the passage from The Secret Book of John we quoted above:

What bounds the One?
The One is without boundaries
Nothing exists outside of it to border it
How can we investigate it?
The One cannot be investigated
Nothing exists apart from it to investigate it
How big is it?
The One cannot be measured
Nothing exists external to it to measure it

What does it look like?
The One cannot be seen
For no one can envision it
How old is it?
The One is eternal
For it exists forever
What’s the best way to understand it?
The One is inconceivable
For no one can comprehend it
How do you describe it?
The One is indescribable
For no one can put any words to it.

In Gnostic tradition, the Path of Radical Inquiry can be summarized by the second saying from the Gospel of Thomas: “Jesus said, “He or she who seeks should not stop seeking until he or she finds what he or she is seeking. When they find what they are seeking, they will be troubled. When they are troubled, they will be amazed, and will become king over the All.”

Your exercise: read the Gnostic text “The Interpretation of Knowledge.” You’ll notice that the section beginning, “But he was being pursued in that place….” and ending with “…destroyed the arrogant teacher by teaching her to die”contains tons of those little lacunae […] indicating an area in which the text was destroyed.

Once you’ve read through the text, fill in each of the lacunae with a possible reconstruction of what might have been there originally. This probably seems like a crazy and impossible task, but don’t worry about that. Instead, for each lacuna, ask yourself questions, writing your questions as you go. Take the questions as far as you can. You might ask, what should go here? What might this have said? How does this fit into Gnostic doctrine? What is meant here? Who is filling in these lacunae? Try to come up with a dozen or so core questions you can ask about each one.

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Anagoge V: Scattered Brains are Better Brains

Previously in the Premiseless Imperative Series:
Introduction
Kimetikos I: Foundations
Kimetikos II: Theory
Kimetikos III: Practice
Anagoge I: If You Want to be Saved, Admit That You’re A Sinner
Anagoge II: Achtung, Babies!
Anagoge III: Shooting For the Existential Buzz
Anagoge IV: The Perfect Home in Just an Hour

—————

“Daisies are like sunshine to the ground.”

– Drew Barrymore

You know all that stuff you’ve heard about getting “grounded”? How you have to find “inner peace”? Some meditation systems even ask you to visualize your “root” extending below the ground during sessions. There’s a lot of stuff about middle pillars lining up, stuff about creating sacred space, stuff about energizing chakras. There’s an idea floating around that you have to get all centered and “established” in order to acheive gnosis or enlightenment.

Know what? It’s all bullshit.
I want you to forget about it.
We’re gonna get messy.

Yeah, yeah, I know that the whole purpose of the last few exercises seemed like they were designed to get you to focus and to be “mindful.” This isn’t about being mindful, though– this is about getting unattached from all of the *stuff* that’s around you. You can’t even begin to get centered and grounded and whatnot until you’ve become as completely ungrounded as possible (without going mad, of course. Though, I suppose that if you’d like to go mad that’d be fine).

See, deep down inside, underneath everything else, no matter how good or bad things seem, no matter how tumultuous life is, no matter how broken the heart or unfocused the mind, each of us still carries a teeny tiny nougat of assumed groundedness. We have one or two things to which we cling, things upon which we lean, people on who we depend. What we want to do is to dig down deep and shake that nougat loose, so we’re completely empty and scattered before we start to try to focus and concentrate.

Why? It’s a matter of detachment. Detachment is a concept that gets bandied about all the time, particulartly by antimaterialist Western pseudo-Buddhists who confuse detachment with apathy and don’t realize that it’s super-easy to be detached from things if you can afford to replace them.

Picture the things to which you are attached: your loved ones, your house, your car, your job, your monies, your books or cds. Now picture a taught string extending from each one of those items into your head. The more you dwell on these things, the tighter the string gets. No matter how far you are from them, the string remains attached.

You can get rid of item after item after item if you want, but that string stays tied to your attention. Get rid of your car, for instance, and you have to tie the string to a bus or a bike or a regular walking route.

Detachment, or becoming scattered, cuts the strings instead of getting rid of the objects! Instead of trying to detach one’s self from big evil corporations by getting rid of big evil corporations, we get rid of our attachments to big evil corporations so that they no longer have power over us.  Instead of trying to detach one’s self from political malfeasance by getting rid of politics, we get rid of our attachments to politics so that they no longer have power over us.

One our strings are cut, our attention becomes scattered. That creamy little nougat center of attention to which the strings were attached shakes free and can rattle around (scatter), and *then* we can start to talk about getting all centered and focused.

This isn’t even to say it’s always a good idea to cut every string. It’s okay to be attached to some things! I’m completely attached to my wife, my son, and to my dogs, and to my friends. The difference is that once we’ve cut all of our strings, *we* choose what gets tied where. Everything becomes equally important, and takes on the value *we* give it, not vice-versa.

This is especially important for those seeking enlightenment, because we’ve got to cut the string that attaches us to gnosis before we can achieve it. The best way to achieve enlightenment is to detach one’s self from it. Now there’s a double-bind for you!

So what to do? How to begin this process? Like the rest of our exercises thus far, it’s pretty simple, as long as you approach it with single-minded dedication and a willingness to follow through. Jesus talks about it all the time, in Canonical as well as in Gnostic scripture.

First, go outside! Trying to detach yourself from stuff is easier if you’re outside instead of in a man-made building surrounded by stuff. A park works, though obviously the more remote the place the better. Don’t go too remote, though– you don’t want to have to be attached to a camping trip with all of its issues.

Okay, now that you’re outside, run around like crazy for a while! Have fun! Play! Go find a few super-interesting rocks or sticks and then toss them away. Splash around in puddles. Swing on swingsets. Climb a tree. Have fun! Just play outside for a while, until you get tired of it.

When you’re tired of running around, sit down on the ground and relax. Take out your handy-dandy notepad, and write down at least one-hundred thngs to which you’re attached. It doesn’t matter how attached. While you list each item (or person or or or), picture yourself destroying it. Picture yourself ending all of your relationships (amicably, of course). Picture yourself burning down your house. Picture yourself losing all of your hair in a freak accident. Just keep going and going and going! Don’t stop until you’re really good and ready, but write down at least 100. When you’re done, tear the pages from your notebook.

Now, take your torn-out pages, and mess around in the dirt with them. Make a mud pie! Or, make a sand castle and put them inside! Get the pages and your hands really really dirty. Try not to think about the contents of the pages while you’re playing with them, but if you do that’s okay. Make them into a paper airplane, or a paper boat. Or, bring scissors and make snowflakes!

When you’re all done, leave the paper behind somewhere where you know it will almost never be found. Bury it, tie it to a rock and sink it in a lake, feed it to a squirrel.

Hopefully your hands will have gotten really muddy and dirty in this process, because you’re not going to wash them until the next day. Leave them as dirty as possible. Eat with dirty hands, drink with dirty hands, and go to bed with dirty hands and sleep with dirty hands. But before you go to bed, perform the next task with dirty hands.

Get a roll of black electrical tape. Using said tape, go around your house from top to bottom and cover every single word you see– all of the corporate logos on your appliances, etc. Get rid of everything that resembles a letter. Hiding is okay; if you don’t want to put tape on your books and CDs, cover your bookcases with sheets. Leave the tape on everything/keep everything hidden for as long as you feel comfortable with it.

Finally, after all of these tasks have been performed to your satisfaction, here are two final ones. For the next week, allow yourself at least three hours of time free from all restraints and free from all guilt! You can use this time in any way you see fit– take it in half-hour segments, take it all at once, doesn’t matter. You don’t have to use it for anything in particular. Do anything you want with this time without feeling guilty! Catch up on sleep. Drink that Coke you’ve been craving even though your anticorporate conscience forbids it. Eat some veal. Play some violent video games. Go shopping. Sit on your butt and watch sitcoms and eat potato chips. Stop worrying so much about what other people will think of the way you spend your time. Stop worrying so much about the repercussions of your actions. Just allow yourself some time to BE, with no values, no limits! (I mean don’t go around being an asshole to other people of course– have some dignity.)

If you play your cards right, you should be able to get through these three hours with no guilt, no concern, no worries. If you can’t, if you start thinking “I should be doing something else,” or “I shouldn’t be eating this whole chocolate cake,” then take three more hours the next week. If you think “I should be using this time to develop spiritually. I should be praying or meditating,” then go back to the beginning of this post and go through this procedure again.

If you get it right, you’ll be like… well, I won’t give away the secret, but you’ll resemble something, that something Jesus keeps talking about. Knowhutimean?

Again, you don’t have to be perfect. If you could acheive perfect detachment you wouldn’t need to read this. But, you should have an idea of how the experience of detachment feels. When you can go three hours doing something you want to do without feeling guilty, without attaching yourself to it, then you’re ready to start!

Up next: Part VII: The Path of Radical Inquiry

 

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