Strategic Sorcery on Enlightenment

by Mike Sententia on March 15, 2012

You found my old blog. Thanks for visiting! For my new writing, visit mikesententia.com.

Jason and I have been discussing magick for enlightenment. You should read those links, and particularly the latest post, before continuing.

First, let me say I really enjoyed Jason’s post. This isn’t my field, but I love exploring new things. I’m going to mostly discuss ideas and ask questions rather than giving answers. (Or I’ll try to, at least.)

What Enlightenment Is (For Jason)

Jason wrote:

It is about waking up from the fragmented and mechanical awareness that we all have so that we can see what reality is. Once it is found it is about allowing that non-dual awareness to regain its natural stability. In this way we understand the ground of being.

I had to look up “non-dual awareness,” which means being aware of the universe as a whole entity, rather than seeing yourself as separate from it, more or less. (Feel free to leave comments and tell me how wrong I am about that.)

Like some of you, I’m fairly new to Jason’s writing. I think this is one of the keys to understanding him, though: He views enlightenment through a meditative, non-dualist approach. (Buddhist, perhaps?)

My approach focuses more on understanding emotions and bringing your responses in line with what they are when you’re at your best. But non-dual awareness sounds interesting, so let’s explore.

Magick for Enlightenment

My second question was, “What magick practices focus on enlightenment?”

Jason’s answer seems to be “a lot of them.” Which is fair, since there are lots of approaches. But it’s not that useful for someone new to this enlightenment-based magick. So let me ask a slightly different question: What are some identifying features of practices that lead to enlightenment? Perhaps an example of a ceremonial practice focused on enlightenment, and one that isn’t, would make it clearer.

Also, my real reason for asking is so I can try it. If you have a good practice for someone with very little ritual experience, but a good deal of other magick experience, that would be awesome.

How Do You Know It’s Working

This part I really enjoyed. Three items to note:

First, Jason makes a great distinction between reaching the state occasionally vs reaching the stage of development where you can sustain the state. I find the same thing in a lot of magick: There’s a difference between being able to do something on a good day vs being able to do it on most days vs being able to do it whenever you want, even if you’re distracted.

Second, I like the way he explains that the proof is in the putting*, and calls BS on some “Crazy Wisdom.”

*That’s the original phrase: Putting, meaning “the doing of the thing.” Not “pudding.”

Third, and this is may be something I have to experience: I don’t see the connection between a non-dual view of the world and acting in an enlightened manner. I believe that you can be both, and there is probably a correlation between the two. But I don’t understand the causal connection, and ultimately, focusing on non-duality seems like a round-about way to change your reactions to situations and behave in a kinder, more thoughtful way.

Given that I’m new to this type of work, that’s probably a matter of me not seeing something, rather than a statement that there is no connection. But if I’m confused about this, other people probably are, too. And finding the way that A causes B usually helps design a more efficient version of A that causes B better.

Other Projects

A quick note: I owe a bunch of you posts and emails, all the way back from February when Mike asked what I see when I connect to my knee. Those are all coming. I just finished the article for the anthology book today, and I’ll start responding to your questions tomorrow. Thanks for your patience. I haven’t forgotten you.

Other posts in this series: If you liked this post, consider visiting my current blog at mikesententia.com.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

John March 15, 2012 at 8:05 PM

Yep, Non-dual awareness is truly awesome!

Reply

Mike Sententia March 15, 2012 at 8:09 PM

Could you elaborate?

Reply

John March 15, 2012 at 9:46 PM

Well I don’t think I can condense the bulk of information I read about nondual awareness nor give an example from personal experience, but based on what I read on nondual awareness in one post, I think I can say I’m left with the impression that the universe is as “it is”, it is mechanistically both good and evil.

A person without the realization and awareness of nonduality will be left with a problematic view of reality as a whole, which bears the double standard of good and evil.

A person with the realization of nonduality will perceive everything as pure awareness.

So, personally what it means for magic, I think one’s magic has wider coverage, impact and substance.

*ideas gathered mostly from Tibetan Buddhist books*

Reply

Yoseqlo March 16, 2012 at 6:50 AM

I think based on my experience, that the non-dual awareness isn’t needed for the change in behavior, but a change in the beliefs it is in a way.

When I was working in the chance of beliefs in Chaos Magick, was developing an Animism belief, and to display behavior like the Jason ones described, compassion and love based, my actions and thought were totally different than always been before.

So I think that may be enlightenment can cause that behavior and feelings origin in the belief change, but not everybody that have that type of nature are for an enlightenment cause.

After that, consciously trying to change my beliefs again a couple of weeks later return to my old though pattern.

Reply

Mike Sententia March 16, 2012 at 6:57 AM

I don’t think anyone is saying that Jason’s is the only path to enlightenment or being a better person. But maybe there’s something useful in there that can help us improve our own paths.

Reply

Ona March 17, 2012 at 10:09 AM

You said: “I don’t see the connection between a non-dual view of the world and acting in an enlightened manner. I believe that you can be both, and there is probably a correlation between the two. But I don’t understand the causal connection, and ultimately, focusing on non-duality seems like a round-about way to change your reactions to situations and behave in a kinder, more thoughtful way.”

I think it’s both simple and complicated. One can certainly practice being kinder, etc. – often when we are unkind, we are acting out of fear: self-defense (comes from fear), anger (which comes from fear), etc. Self-defense includes trying to maintain our social position (being angry if someone mocks us, fear of losing a friend’s respect, etc.). Self-defense can also speak of a deeper fear of being killed or destroyed (physically or mentally).

One can become more aware of these layers through therapy (such as realizing that you get stirred up by your insulting boss because he reminds you of your insulting father). That can help release that chain and allow you to be more confident and less threatened by the grumpy boss. Spiritual practice – especially wisdom oriented practice – can also help reveal those games. You can start to see the layers of thoughts that arise from “large man shouting near me” –> “reminds me of my shouting dad” —> “I’m afraid” —> “I’m angry and want to hurt him”. Like bringing a vampire into the sunlight, when we start to see how the mind works in more detail, the thoughts become less powerful. Then we start seeing: “man shouting” –> “oh, right, this is where I get reminded of my dad and freak out, but I don’t need to do that”. We see that the fear is an entanglement, and we consider how we want to respond, rather than lashing out in reaction. So insight/wisdom leads to more space for evaluation and consideration, rather than just being dragged around by your emotions. It’s NOT about “controlling” or “repressing” but about quiet observation of the natural play of the mind.

Additionally, with non-dual realization (and even in the early stages of it) the self-defensiveness starts to soften. Because non-dual means there’s less and less of a feeling of being a little me set against the harsh whims of the world. There’s less to defend. There’s a growing feeling of connection with divine current, so to speak. It’s not just you connecting, you start to see everything is connected to that current. This creates a growing sense of patience, compassion, pliability, limberness and inner peacefulness. So things that before made you irritable or frustrated just stop bothering you. You don’t make them stop bothering you – they just sort of soften and melt away.

Not sure any of this is helpful, but that’s (briefly) some of how I think about this issue. Best wishes.

Reply

Mike Sententia March 17, 2012 at 7:47 PM

Hi Ona, thanks, that’s really helpful. First, I want to make sure I’m understanding you. Here’s what I think you said:

Fear leads to all sort of nasty patterns of thought and emotion, which leads to un-enlightened behavior. Reduce fear and you reduce those patterns, which helps you behave enlightenedly. (Oh look, I made a word.) Is that basically right?

Which brings me to my next question: Would reducing fear in other ways (without non-dualism) have the same result? Or a similar result? Not eliminating fear, mind you, but reducing it. Other folks, feel free to chime in.

I ask because reducing fear (any emotion, really) is already in my tool box. Temporary reduction on myself I can do easily even while distracted. (I’ve mostly done anger, but it ought to be the same principle.) It’s a concrete magick technique, not a psychological trick. I’d need to make it either lasting or automatically detect the emotion and kick in, and do some generalization to let it apply to others, and program the technique into ethereal software. I’d estimate 3-6 months of focused work, maybe 12 months at the outside. Which, if it provides a fast path to enlightenment, might be a cool project.

By the way, this is what I meant by “Once you understand the causal mechanism connecting A to B, you can make a shorter path to B.”

Reply

Ona March 18, 2012 at 3:35 AM

“Fear leads to all sort of nasty patterns of thought and emotion, which leads to un-enlightened behavior. Reduce fear and you reduce those patterns, which helps you behave enlightenedly. (Oh look, I made a word.) Is that basically right?”

I think reducing fear (through magick, therapy, meditation, or any method that doesn’t just try to repress it) is always a great thing, and does help us become nicer people.

I’d just clarify that enlightenment or awakening isn’t a behavior pattern, but a change in perception and how the world is experienced. *However* most traditions do encourage the cultivation of various practices that can be seen as magickal acts. That is, one tries to act with mindfulness to be compassionate, to be with ones fears, to refrain from harming oneself or others, to see the divinity in all things, etc. as a way of cultivating the ground so that the seeds of awakening can sprout more readily. These can be considered magickal activities done for the purpose of awakening. Meditation itself is a magickal ritual: One can state it each time one sits: “I am now sitting for 30 minutes for the purpose of cultivating awakening. May I be enlightened in this lifetime.” The sitting is then the ritual. One can decorate the ritual with stuff (altar, prayer, robes, candles) if one wishes to add to the intentionality. Repeated daily, with that heart-felt intention, results begin to manifest. ;)

One can’t “cause” awakening, just as one can’t reach into a seed and grab the plant and pull it out. One can cultivate the garden to maximize the potential of the seeds to sprout by themselves, though. There are other analogies, but I find that one helpful sometimes.

Cheers, Ona

Reply

Mike Sententia March 18, 2012 at 2:10 PM

Thanks Ona. Those explanations help.

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: