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According to the Wasson thesis, sacramentalist ritual with psychoactive plants (entheogens) such as the mushroom Amanita muscaria, is the origin of all genuine religious experience, as distinguished from religious doctrines and institutions which restrict and repress such experience. According to Carlos Castaneda, spiritual discipline is "the art of feeling awe." (In conversation with Michael Ventura.) The term "ecstatic cognition" is used by Eric Davis in TechGnosis,, while Mircea Eliade famously proposed "archaic techniques of ecstasy" for the body of shamanic practices now known to be of millennial duration and global extent.
Primary religious experience without doctrines or formal assemblies, mental and spiritual discipline including fasting, mudra and mantra, and methods of mind-control, surrender to awe, cognition in ecstatic states, trance and dance, and the adaptation of archaic techniques such as divination — all these elements converge in sacramentalist practice.
Psychosomatic illumination is the rather weighty term that might be proposed for the sacramentalism of the Mystery in Pagan Europa.
In Gnostic materials, including the polemics, the imaginal language of the Sophia Mythos relies heavily on analogies to embryonic development. The Greek word hystera, "womb", is close to hysterema, "deficiency," a term frequently applied to the worlds outside the Pleroma. The boundary wall of the central bulge of the galaxy features crucially in the Gaia Mythos (Episodes ), consistent with Gnostic vision. "It is called the Boundary because it bounds off the deficiency (hysterema) from the perfection (pleroma)." (Hippolytus, cited in Mead, Fragments of a Faith Forgotten, p. 343) To paraphrase: "The bounding wall of the central bulge separates the incomplete worlds below from the completion of the core." The lower worlds (in the galactic limbs) are "deficient" because they are not self-sustaining and self-propagating like the Aeons in the Pleroma. The realm of deficiency (hysterema) is the womb (hystera) of Becoming, but the Pleroma is the seed-bed of Becoming, comparable to the seed-producing organs in male and female anatomy. Sacred biology>
As ovum is to placenta, core is to limbs. This analogy seems to have been well-nigh universal in antiquity. The very same imagery occurs lavishly in the mythic language of the cult of Hathor, the Egyptian birth-goddess. Hathor's main temple is located on the West bank of the Nile, about ten miles from Nag Hammadi. In the astronomical chamber on the roof, the body of the Goddess Nut is curved into an oval and inscribed with the constellations. Evidently, the Egyptians saw Nut as the "cosmic womb," the extra-Pleromic matrix of the galactic limbs. Next to the astronomical chambers detailed bas-reliefs showing the resurrection of Osiris.
Sacred Nature is the mysterious source of humanity. In the remote past, long before events were recorded in historical scripts, the human species lived its stories in direct interaction with its habitat. All ancient traditions saw in the bond between nature and humanity a parent-child relationship with nature as the sacred, life-supporting factor. The motifs and mythemes comprised by this category are universally oriented toward a supreme feminine divinity, the Goddess, who embodies both the natural world and the supernatural dimension of that world. Before theology and religion of any kind asserted beliefs about a male Creator God, the Great Mother was the focal point of human spirituality. Our relation to nature was directly reflected in reverence for the Goddess, and so our attitudes toward the sacredness of nature changed as human attitudes toward the Goddess shifted.
All three religions that trace their origins to the Biblical Patriarch Abraham present salvationist programs, with slight variations: Judaism, Christianity (Catholic, Protestant, Greek Orthodox, and more), and Islam. For a concise evaluation of this schema, see the four concerns.
Every religion consists of four components: a narrative, a set of rites, ethics, and ideology. For instance, the religion of the ancient Hebrews consists of the "sacred narrative" in the Old Testament (recounted in the Torah, the first five books of the Bible), the rites practiced by the adherents, the ethics proposed by the spiritual leaders or authorities (such as the Ten Commandments, said to be dictated to Moses by Jehovah), and the ideology implied in or attached to all the preceding.
Any theme or mytheme that forms part of the structure of a religion will find experssion in some or all of these modes. For example, the theme of atonement. The OT narrative tells the story of the atonement of the Jews in various episodes, most notably the atonement that followed their escape from Egypt. This episode, taken for an actual historical event, becomes the basis of rites of atonement to be periodically practiced. The episode (which is exemplary or paradigmatic, in the sense that Mircea Eliade applied to myths) presents the model for rites and also the framework for ethical practices. Finally, an ideology is contained in or attached to the ensemble of narrative, rites, and ethics. Usually, the ideological component consists of a set of beliefs relating to supernatural things, to God or the "Divine Plan," and to other notions which, because they are not normally subject to verification by direct personal experience, are taken as a matter of belief. For instance, the belief that God protects those who practice rites of atonement is an ideological premise.
Salvationism, the dominant religious belief-system on the planet, consists of all four components, but the innermost, driving dynamic of salvationist doctrines resides primarily in the ideology, the unverifiable beliefs attached to the system. As noted in this site, Gnostics who observed the rise of the Christian salvationist program out of Jewish sectarian ideology (primarily, the cult of the Zaddakim) and protested against what they saw as erroneous beliefs, did not attack anyone who held beliefs those beliefs, but they attacked the beliefs that were held. In turn, Gnostics themselves were physically attacked, and the Mystery Schools where they preserved a millennial tradition of initiatory teaching were destroyed. The destruction took centuries, beginning in the time of the adoption of Christian as the state religion of the Roman Empire, and continuing into the Middle Ages.
I point all this out, once again, at the risk of becoming tedious, not only to signal your attention to the greatest untold story of Western civilization — i.e., the destruction of the Mysteries and the sacred heritage of Europan indigenous wisdom, of which the Mysteries were the finest flowering — but also, and even more pointedly, to indicate that
Constantine, who made Christianity the state religion of the Roman Empire, was no fool, nor was he a devout Christian. Even his biographer, Eusebius, clearly fudges the account of Constantine's "conversion," attributed to a vision of the Cross in the skies. (Once again, this incident has been interpreted as an ET/UFO sighting, thus linking salvationism to the perennial presence of alien entities on Earth, and suggesting their possible intervention in human religious experience.) It was politically expedient to make Christianity the state religion, because the new faith conferred supernatural authority on the governing powers. We see the clear and consistent extension of this political ploy in the arrogant religious fascism of the American government under presidents Bush, although the root of this tyranny may be traced back to antecedent sources.
In short, I am saying that salvationist religion is not a religion
in any true sense of the word: it is political ideology in the
disguise of religion. Christianity was nothing but this from its
conception. It did not become perverted into mystico-fascism, for it
was originally conceived as such. Salvationism prevails in world events,
and tyrannizes the minds of millions of people today, as it has through
the last twenty centuries, because
a totalitarian control system in which the ultimate source of control
unquestionable and beyond accountability. Beyond human conscience
Take all this away and what do you have? Not much, for there is not much to salvationist religion when the ideological dynamic is removed.
But it might be protested, Is any form of genuine religion possible without these elements? Certainly. Genuine religion devoid of salvationist elements existed widely in the Pagan cultures of Europa, and it was demonstrated, and still just barely is, in the indigenous spiritual wisdom of native peoples such as the Australian aborigines, and native-mind cultures in the Americas, the Artic, and Polynesia. To some extent, but not completely, Asian metaphysical systems such as Dzogchen and Vedanta are free of salvationist elements. Gnosis, the path of direct knowing of divine matters, was a method of illuminism, contrasting in a profound way to salvationism by its emphasis on experience over authority, learning over doctrine.
In Gnosis no doctrines were sacred or beyond question, nor should anything presented in the form of Gnostic teachings today be so taken. The knowledge cultivated in the Mysteries was testable by direct experience, and indeed, the initiators insisted that neophytes learn for themselves the basics of experimenal mysticism. Each generation of mystai extended the process of ongoing revelation and elaborated on the wisdom developed by those who had preceded them. Gnostics were prolific writers, and although they did not hold anything produced by an individual author to be sacred, for them treaching and learning were a sacred commitment. "God is discourse" says a Gnostic saying. The discourse they pursued was open-ended, innovative, expansive.
All the elements of the above list depend on enforcement by authorities, such as Pope and President, who present themselves to be the representatives of the supernatural powers who underwrite the salvationist program. In the Gnosis of the Mysteries, there were no such intermediaries between the initate and the supreme experience of initiation: encountering the Gods and exploring the wonders of this world, Earth, and the cosmos beyond. The purpose of the Mysteries was to teach how to know Gaia and co-evolve in Her purposes.
The purpose of salvationist religion is social control.
ET/UFO interventionist scenarios represent a special class of salvationism. In the narratives recorded on cuneiform, Sumerian scribes produced the earliest surviving record of a salvationist program in which ET-like entities, the Annunaki, intervene in human evolution. However, not everything written on clay tablets needs to be taken for true, does it?
This entry is in development...
In classical European learning, the Greek sophia, wisdom, was
routinely translated by the Latin sapientia, related to sapidus, pleasant
to the taste, LL prudent, wise, itself from sapere, (of
thing) to have a pleasant taste, hence (of persons) to have good
taste or judgement. (Partridge, 581) Apparently, sapience
has a savor (flavor) and gives a nice flavor to those who ingest
Satire, we may conclude, is no trivial subject. It is rather
like the litmus test for the belief in the capacity for self-correction
in homo sapiens.
The term script came into parlance in the USA in the 1970s with transactional analysis. Claud Steiner writes:
self-concern Proposed term for human narcissism, borrowed from Castaneda who called it"self-reflection." In The Power of Silence, don Juan describes a shift of the assemblage point that applied for the entire human species, resulting in a movement away from silent knowledge toward self-concern.
Silent knowledge is the generic human capacity for knowing the world via our deep intutive link to the cosmos, but self-concern short-circuits this link. Self-concern may be equated with the rise of narcissism during the Arien Age. In one of his more striking observations, Rudolf Steiner said that human forebrain circuits matured in the 6th century BCE. The result was, Greek rationalism, but a side effect of the rational emphasis is intensification of self-consciousness. Why? Because rationalization is an abstractive process, a mental act that puts us at a distance from what we are thinking about. Applied to nature, this faculty distances us from the external world and erodes the sense of participation. We are onlookers to nature, rather than involved with it. Applied to human nature, this faculty tends to produce an infinite regress: the self observing the self observing the self observing the self... There is really only one level, one permutation, of self observing itself, but there appears to be infinite nested levels of self-observing. Narcissism is a black hole of regressive self-concern.
The true avatar of the Piscean Age (begins 120 BCE) is not Christ but Narcissus. Or perhaps Christ is Narcissus?
From Castaneda we learn that ancient humanity could master many forms of magic and technology through silent knowledge. This involves selfless communion with the cosmos, by which we come to understand directly how it works, and then, later, we work out mentally how it works. Greek rationalism reversed this activity, so that we began work out how things work before we knew, in silent knowledge, how they work. This shift lead to a brief flare of heightened mental achievement, the Golden Age in Greece and globally, the Age of the "Masterminds" such as Gotama, Mahariva, Kung Fu Tze, Pythagoras, and others— but the flare quickly faded. Try to think of anything significant that happened in Greece after 300 BCE. Do you detect a void?
Unfortunately, Hellenistic philosophy, an outgrowth of the rationalist emphasis, helped to build up the Christian redeemer, and so Jesus Christ became the focal point of human self-concern. Humanity is encouraged to see Christ as if viewing itself in a mirror, but we are really the tormented Narcissus contemplating his own reflection. The Christic reflection is deviant and inauthentic, as I have argued elsewhere.
"As the feeling of the individual self became stronger, man
lost his natural connection to silent knowledge. Modern man,
being heir to that development, therefore finds himself so hopelessly
removed from the source of everything that all he can do is express
his despair in violent and cynical acts of self-destruction."
The Power of Silence, p. 169ff.
"The position of self-reflection forces the assemblage point to assemble a world of sham compassion, but of very real cruelty and self-centeredness. In that world the only real feelings are those convenient for the one who feel them." Ibid., p. 174
"It was self-reflection that disconnected mankind from the spirit in the first place." Ibid., p 179.
Although don Juan does not comment in an historical vein, I would situate the shift to self-reflection — which I am calling self-concern — in the 6th century BCE. See the Socrates essay for further reflections on this problem.self-liberation Core teaching of Asian psycho-philosophy, stating that the true, unconditioned nature of the mind continually liberates itself from all conditions that arise within it.
The term is somewhat misleading, because it suggests the liberation of self or a self, but there is no self to liberate. The awareness of a self is part of the conditioning which the mind continually and instantaneously overcomes. In Asian mysticism, the self is not released to a better or more realy world, but the mind is released from the limits of self-reflection. Liberation from the sense of self, not liberation for the self. This distinction is crucial for any orientation to sacramental practice, consistent with the Wasson Thesis . See also transcendence.
Some primary teachings on self-liberation can be found in Self-Liberation Through Seeing with Naked Awareness (J. M. Reynolds), "The Jewel Ship' of Long Chen Pa (You Are the Eyes of the World, Lipman and Peterson), The Tibetan Book of the Great Liberation (Evans-Wentz), The Life and Teachings of Yeshe Tsogyel (Keith Dowman), and the testament of Garab Dorje ( The Golden Letters, J. M. Reynolds).
Sophia Greek "wisdom," the term specifically used in Gnostic texts for the cosmic intelligence that indwells the earth and supports all organic and inorganic life in the biosphere. Pronounced So-FI-uh. Adjective, Sophianic, So-FEE-AN-ik.
Combined with Gaia, this term denotes the primary assumption of Metahistory, outlined in the orientation essay, Insane and Inhumane: namely, that the cosmic intelligence operating throughout the biosphere is evidence of a super-earthly power, Sophia, manifesting within the boundaries of terrestrial life, Gaia. In Gnostic cosmology, Sophia is the name of an Aeon, a cosmic deity of female gender, who is initially seen in the company of the Pleroma, the gods of the galactic center. As such she is called the Aeon (pronounced A-on) Sophia.
Sophia Mythos The story of Sophia's plunge from the galactic core into the outer limbs is told in the Gaia Mythos, a reworking of the Gnostic creation-myth. This myth is unique in the way it accounts for the evolution of the solar system, the anomaly of the planet earth, the emergence of humanity in two biological genders at conflict with each other, the influence of predatory extrahuman forces on the human species, and the identity of Sophia with Gaia, the Magna Mater of the Mystery Schoos. See also Earth Goddess.
Sophianic principle, also called the Gaia-Sophia Principle. This principle asserts that the same intelligence that works in human instincts and supports our survival skills also enables us to act morally, to perform compassionate actions based on clear intentions. If our ethical and survival instincts are complementary, any division between them will threaten our survival and produce immoral (i.e., insane) behavior. Deep ecology, as formulated by Arne Naess and others, assumes the integrity of survival and ethical capacities, as does the ecological philosophy of Edward Goldsmith (The Way). Metahistory goes deeper into this issue by its challenge to beliefs and belief-systems (ideologies). It proposes that beliefs alienate us from their own experience, corrupt our sense of humanity, and undermine human potential. Because beliefs are the single most dangerous element in human reality, belief-change is the most radical strategy for personal liberation from social conditioning, and, by extension, large-scale improvement of social conditions.
Widely believed to be the practice of "black magic," sorcery can be viewed in a more enlightened way as a path that involves the practitioner in a magical view of the world. With the mixed implications of "fate" (Latin root) and "departure" (French verb), sorcery could be defined as the way to depart from fate, or change fate. This definition depends, of course, on the beliefs we attach to the obscure notion of fate. Let's just say, for argument, that fate implies finding oneself in a fixed frame of circumstances, a situation not of one's own intending. Some people believe that we are all born into such a situation, a life we did not choose in advance because we did not pre-exist it. Others believe that we all choose the specific circumstances of life: e.g., to be born at a certain time and place, with certain parents, with particular gifts and handicaps. For those who hold this belief, there is no fate, there is only destiny: a prearranged pattern of experience.
Let's assume, however, that we believe in fate, not destiny. According to this belief, we assume that we did not choose beforehand to come into life, to have blue eyes, to have certain parents, to be musically gifted, etc. In this view, to live means to find oneself in a set of conditions not of one's own choosing. To alter these conditions, or escape from them entirely, would then be the defined aim of sorcery, according to what I will call the revised definition. The subtance and general outlines of this definition can be found in the works of Carlos Castaneda. (Some people believe that Castaneda's works are fictional, purely invented, while others insist they relate facts, things that acrually happened. The argument is futile, since neither belief can be definitively proven. In any case, if Castaneda did invent his stories, this does not prevent the message and teachings conveyed in those stories from being true. The Catcher in the Rye is a work of fiction, a novel, yet its message is profoundly true. The same can be said of Castaneda's opus.)
Perhaps there is no idea in the entire range of New Age interests that has had so powerful an impact on Western thinking as that of spiritual masters. The willingness to believe in such masters and the eagerness to revere them can be viewed as a response to Nietzsche's gloomy announcement that "God is dead." This news, delivered at the end of the last century at the very moment the first migration of Indian masters was hitting Western shores, has been overthrown today by the testimony of many people who believe there are those among us who have actually "realized God," or who embody divinity on Earth—the widest and loosest definition of a spiritual master.
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