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Ona, who you’ll recognize from my comments, has a great post on her blog, where she’s wrestling with her model of prayer-based magick. Her style is very different than mine, so I don’t comment on her work much, but I found this post fascinating.
She was asked to pray for a friend of a friend to win a research grant. Here’s her question:
What about her own intention, her boyfriend’s intention and his magick? Is God thinking, “Oh, finally Ona asked, so now I’ll take care of that!” Is it like a vote? “Oh,” says God, “three people have asked for that now? Well, let me get right to it!” That’s absurd.
This has always struck me as absurd in the prayer-to-god model of magick, too. That’s always where I stopped questioning — I solved the absurdity by discarding the model. But that’s the easy way out, and I really enjoyed watching Ona wrestle with this problem.
She starts by asking a Buddhist abbot, who makes a distinction between doing something for someone vs doing something with someone — that you’re not causing the change, but rather, you’re helping the person find the change they want for themselves. The distinction, I think, is that helping a person find their own change wouldn’t cause changes that the person doesn’t want, or that aren’t good for them. Which brings me to my first question: What if your goal is to cause changes that aren’t good for someone? Especially because every change is going to be bad for someone — if I help myself get a job, that’s bad for the other people who applied, after all.
She also asks a Buddhist lama, who basically says that a realized master with pure intent will get better results than a beginner. This seems kind of circular to me: Of course a master will get better results, that’s why we call him a master. But what is it about the master that causes the better results? And if the deity you pray to will do it when the master asks, why won’t it just do it when the person asked in the first place?
The lama also talked about faith and belief resulting in more powerful manifesting, but I don’t buy it. Sure, doubt can mess up your magick, but there’s a limit to what belief can do. Just believing really hard doesn’t make you a powerful mage. If it did, schizophrenics would be the best mages out there.
Ona gets another idea from both the lama and a Christian blog: Maybe masters are more successful because they intuitively know what to manifest for, either manifesting for things that are possible, or simply manifesting for what’s already going to happen (that is, the manifesting is really a psychic intuition). This is an interesting possibility, particularly because asking for the right thing is important when you do manifesting. But it feels incomplete. In particular, I’d expect a master to get better results than a novice even if they ask for the same things. Wouldn’t you? And doesn’t that mean there’s something deeper going on that simply knowing what to ask for?
At the end, Ona returns to her discomfort at doing manifesting for a friend of a friend:
In a situation like my friend’s girlfriend, I also wonder if part of the discomfort was that I felt intuitively that she was not supposed to go or would not go on that program, and thus asking for her to get into the program felt like swimming upstream.
On this one, I know what she means. How do you know you’re helping your friend? And how do you know that it’s good to help your friend? I mostly write about technical skills, not ethics, but it would be lovely to know that your manifesting was strong enough to cause serious change, but also gentle enough to do no harm. At the end of the day, I think you have to choose one or the other, but I totally sympathize with Ona’s desire for both.
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