24 July 2011

I was asked to tell you this:

You can't achieve holiness, enlightenment, transcendence, self-actualisation or become a Good Person by following a set of rules. (So screw religious fundamentalism and its political equivalent, "programme fetishism".) Religions, codes of ethics and ready-made schemas are, at best, good for keeping you out of trouble, or baking a fine cake. But everything that's actually valuable about being a human being on this planet comes from pure, inner inspiration - "the disciple's infidelity is the master's faith". And to be able to bring that into the real world requires (a) TRUST that what comes out of "the real you" not only can be unleashed on the world but should be, because it comes from God / The Better Place / Universe A; (b) DISCIPLINE to stop your learned habits of behaviour, your ego, all the little things you to do to fit in and survive in the World-As-Is interfering what what can be done to make The World-As-Could-Be a real thing, here and now.

And, of course, "you" don't really exist. You are a crystallisation of Humanity, which is a crystalisation of Nature, which is a crystallisation of the Universe, which the theists among us would argue is an emanation of God. You can only realise that when you get to the point where the survival of your biological entity and its privileges among the particular primate troop you belong to are no longer the only motivating forces behind your behaviour. Screw Ayn Rand - altruism is what brings light into the world, the compulsion to give, the sheer joy of "I was a hidden treasure and desired to be known" - although selfishness is necessary in the World-As-Is to be able to promote that light against the conservatism of the primate mind. Acting from the communal interest of the society you live in in the first step, and - as Marx put it - only when we overcome the contradiction between the self's desires and the needs of the species and of the society the species has created for itself will we be truly free.

Let us be clear, though - as the "true self" grows and strengthens, so does the ego / nafs. It's not a zero-sum game. As previously mentioned, the nafs is a booster rocket, and you cannot get rid of it and survive in this world, nor should you try to. But, if your goal is to bring light into the world, you do need to (a) get in touch with your "higher nature", the part of you which does act from somewhere other than selfishness and inertia, heredity and environment; (b) resolve the contradiction between that and your nafs, so that the donkey ends up pulling the cart rather than just kicking you all the time. The really tricky thing is that the nafs is so excellent at fooling you that you are acting from a higher spiritual goal, when really you're just reiterating stupid primate dominance games or acting from scripts your parents or teachers implanted in you. (This is easily observable by the presence of hypocrisy - manipulative, cruel, grasping religious preachers, or political activists who'd rather keep control of a cult than lose control of a mass movement.) Learning to tell the difference really is a thousand miles of broken glass on your hands and knees.

And in the meantime it means that you do miss out on the Valuable Cash Prizes that the culture or your particular subculture offer you - you will not be popular if you're doing something right, let's put it that way. So very very many of us who set out to change the world or do magick end up just settling for a well-paid gig in the heart of the beast, the kind of gig in which we get a longer leash than the other wage slaves so we can pretend we're free, in return for closing our eyes to the misery and blindness we've bought into. Failing that, being a cult leader is at least some kind of identity. But the need to "have an identity", have a social role, is as much a trap as the need for money. Always best, I think, to have an active social life which has nothing to do with your political or religious or social mission, so you don't turn your mission into your social life, which means your nafs just ruining everything.