So I think we’re ready to tie off the squirting stump for now, and step back into some theory.
So far I’ve spent a lot of time talking about these ‘shells’ of what were once tradtional intiatory organisations, and examined how they either herd seekers into dead end delusions, or co-opt them into projects to actually undermine authentic paths to understanding, and shift the tone of society in general away from any connection to higher realities.
So while I just talked about zombies in a metaphorical sense, I want to go farther than that, and really talk about how you get monsters. Remember what I said earlier: you have to respect the monster if you’re ever going to respect yourself enough to defeat him.
I think it goes without saying that human beings are seekers. Our life is characterised by searching for the things we think we want, that we think will push the right buttons for us. I think that’s a good thing. It’s the mechanism that prompts us to explore, to learn to eventually wonder if there’s more to life than we see around us. That’s the real meaning of dukkha or ‘suffering’ which comes up in buddhist dharma, and some poor interpreters will take to mean that life sucks and you’re stuck with it.
So the fact that we hunger, that we suffer from what we lack, is a good thing. Under normal circumstances it’s what puts you on the path to understanding. Every teaching relationship begins because the student has a problem.
But what happens when all the real paths to understanding have been tampered with? When the authentic teachers are hounded and persecuted, or just plain ignored, because we’ve been trained to pay attention to the bright lights and fireworks? What happens when the real traditions have been infiltrated and allowed to be steered towards things like politics, and the accumulation of wealth, and other social power? What happens when even the shells of venerable teachings aren’t there, and all you can find is some cult with a vacuum packed alternate reality, and just enough tricks to get you in the door?
The urge to transcend hasn’t gone away. The need to overcome your emotional and physical barriers hasn’t dissipated. The thirst for undertanding, for unity with greater truth hasn’t been satisfied, but for whatever reason, the path isn’t open to you. It’s either hidden, dismantled, or counterfitted. If you’ve got serious issues of your own, that doesn’t help either, and it just makes you an easier target.
In a situation like that, it’s very easy to slide from the desire to transcend, toward the urge to transgress. To make the move from a search for understanding, to a search for sensation. To replace the need for personal conviction, with the need to be in control.
Now, an informed and skeptical seeker would walk into a ritual, where he or she sees certain things taking place, and maybe he or she has enough grounding in thier personal sense of truth to be able to say ‘ this is not transcendance, this is not understanding, this is not going to give a sense of personal conviction.’
They might be able to resist these substitutes for the real need of the spirit, but in this day and age, there are an awfull lot of folks out there who can no longer distinguish bewtween feeding your lust, and feeding your heart. Especially when you’ve been carefully primed to put the things you’re doing in the context of whatever story the cult is selling you. After all, the story is that you are about to become illuminated. Even if the fact is, you’re being asked to torture someone, sexually assualt someone, interrogate and abuse someone, do something to compromise your emotional integrity, or even kill a defenceless animal.
And maybe you do it. and maybe it feels good. better than you thought it would. and here’s the big reversal: you might associate that feeling good, with actually being illuminated. Particularly if you’ve been primed to do so with drugs and sex and peer approval. After all, you just had an experience that normal people out there never have, you must be more illuminated.
Maybe this continues for awhile, you’ve been building up your experience with this sort of thing, they’ve been teaching you some tricks. That rush you get in the rituals makes it possible to do some things you’ve never used to be able to do. You feel better, stronger, more confident, you feel magnetic, like other people will do what you say, life is going your way. Maybe if you’ve gone particularly far, you’ve gotten the hang of reading people’s emotions, or seeing things in distant places, or maybe you can pray for something and actually get it.
Naturally, you are very proud of these accomplishments. The group encourages this sort of thing. It’s a sign of progress they say. A sign you’re becoming more advanced. Maybe they put you in charge of something.
Then, suddenly, the rushes don’t come anymore. You need to do more, because without the rush you can’t do the tricks, and without the tricks people won’t do what you say…you won’t get what you want.
and the leader tells you a secret: there are other rituals. Deeper ones. Deeper understandings. But you have to go farther. You have to step farther into a different reality. Ordinary people can’t do what you’re about to do. Ordinary people won’t do what it takes to achieve TRUE illumination.
And by this time, the reasons don’t matter anymore. The Rush is all that you want, the sensation of power has wiped away all those things you told yourself were important. You tell everyone else, you tell yourself, that you are one of the ELECT. That you have the RIGHT to do things no one else will do, things that lesser beings call wrong. You are beyond all that. Truth? Power is truth. Understanding? Understanding is what YOU say it is. And Love? Love is lust. You’ve seen enough to understand the real truth: we’re nothing but animals, and all that matters to an animal is hunger. And the power to satisfy it.
And this naked screaming person on the altar? Just one more animal, and animals are either predators or prey. And in this story you made, you are the predator, and anyone who gets in the way of your path to godhood…