…and now for the hard stuff.

I get the dubious privelage of leveling an across the board critique of pretty much all western esotercism from the last hundred years at least.

And it’s all rooted in a simple idea: that consciousness should not be led around by the senses.

The name of the game is pratyahara, and in so playing we brush upon john lilly, the master therion, the road of excess, staring into the toilet bowl and spiritually conscious outlets for jacking off.

Yes, sometimes even I wonder where I come up with this shit, but I’m getting a thousand  downloads every 6 days or so,  so I must be doing something right.  Thank you for your kind indulgence.

and now that I mention it, if some of ye multitudes were to wander over to my donations page and drop a few bucks, that would be swell.  I’d like to quit my job now. I’d ask for worshipfull groupies, but I doubt Alaina would dig that very much, so it’s the tip jar or nothing, girls!

Off you go!

Direct download: cast_adrift.mp3

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17 thoughts on “Systematic for the People 5: Cast Adrift

  1. The poop thing was great. Before you said what you were actually suggesting, I had these images in my mind of smearing shit underneath your nose when you’re trying to eat. But by the same token, you may have just given people the keys to anorexia as well…

  2. This is a huge topic & I have a ton of notes about it I scrawled after listening to this–you may in fact get Tonight on Crossfire: Sex Magick after all. But I left my notes at the office & hopefully no one will come across them.

    First, you can’t write off tantra as being “degenerative.” If anything, it’s a way to yoke certain degenerative influences into a transcendent, vertical path. Likewise, some of the practices that survive are tantric in origin–e.g., there’s one point where Evola points out that “hatha” as in “yoga” means “violent” and its rise complimented that of tantra. After all, tantra is at pains to suggest the use of mantra and point-of-focus, i.e., concentration.

    That said, Crowley likewise might be seen as a sex-drug-extreme guru, but just open up Liber Yod and he’s there advocating extended and potent banishing rituals as well as attempting to withdraw from the senses by exposing them to a strong stimulus–e.g., to chew on ginger until it cease to stimulate the taste or touch, or to stare at a waterfall until one can successfully tune out the element of sight and sound that associate it.

    And if we look to the ur-figure of Total Fucking Chaos!!! Magick, Austin Spare, we see that he advocated both the use of sex and–this is important–the use of “the death posture”, i.e., holding one’s breath and sealing the ears, nostrils, and eyelids until collapse. Sounds like withdrawl from the senses to me–as a matter of fact, it is a classical yogic practice.

    In my experience I’ve found that the effects from harnessing the orgasm and sexual energy are far different from that sensory withdrawl–you get what you want and gets it quick, the other starts to break down walls of perception in a way that may make the sex superfluous, but probably not. More on that later.

    Coming back to “transgression”–it is a potent way to cause anchor collapse. Your exercise in smelling shit is totally taboo, which is part of the reason it’s effective. Same with staring at old dudes with ancient testicles–though I don’t know about you, but thirty years from now I hope to be able to still keep it up for an extended period of time even though my looks will have disintegrated substantially. That said, there is a huge problem with porn. Now that I think about it, a lot of the tantric practices, e.g., taking meat from funeral pyres, engaging in extended sex, hanging out with the lepers and prostitutes, being beaten, are designed to cause this anchor collapse, just at a much, much quicker pace than we might see in other practices. It’s dangerous and easy to see how it could become addictive but it works.

    And clearly all these things are tremendously useful–especially to someone who can’t or won’t devote many hours every day to spiritual practice. Terrence McKenna said as much, in that meditation required a “leisure class.” For everyone else, a high dose of psychedelics offers enough insight at such a superpitch that it can be useful for weeks, if not a lifetime, out, *if properly harnessed*. That said, McKenna’s probably been cited as justification for thousands of piss-poor 1g mushroom “magick” acts and uncountable numbers of “i just want to have fun” microtrips. Likewise, it’s hard to draw a line between when one is using “sensory deprivation” as a crutch or as a technique–is wearing a blindfold and earplugs for an hour or two a day a meditative practice, or is it over-reliance on technology? I’m not sure but I lean one towards the former answer. But what about a tank? What if you do it in a cave or on top of a pillar in the desert?

    Of course, I agree with you on the actual degeneration of the occult currents into this “jack off get stuff” garbage. There’s a place for it but it’s also a case of confusing driving lessons for hitting the road. I might venture to say that as effective as sex magick is it’s pretty useless for cultivating the siddhi–in many ways, it is a thing-in-itself–which may be the actual reason why we see & hear so little of this nowadays, whereas withdrawl from the senses, concentration, and insight, is an excellent way to start that path.

    Though that said the last out-of-body experience I had was likely the result of way too much sex & drugs. Riddle me this, riddle me that. Regrding anorexia, can’t make an omelet without breaking some eggs.

  3. oh ageed agreed, but those exceptions are only proof of how totally the topic has been glossed over by the general sweep of things.
    left hand tantra ( which is really what we’re talking about here) is generally understood as a product of a degenerate age ie; the kali yuga, and while not degenerate itself, it was regarded as innapropriate in any other context. the quick and dangerous road, that works in the worst and most debased situations, or else it fucks you up for good.
    in general, all this stuff is still a work-around for the refinement of the faculty of attention that lets you seprate the sense object from the expereince. the practices I advocated do sway towards the tantric, but the buddha was recommending them well before the left hand tantric path was articulated clearly in itself.
    it does confuse the issue slightly, but when in rome, and all that. once you’re in the door, it’s mental knuckle pushups till ya puke goddamnit!!!

  4. ..and much as i love uncle terrence, this whole ‘leisure class’ argument is a crock of shit. smacks of warmed over trotsky-ite plattitudes. as if the petty bourgoisie is filing home to practice pranayama for four hours a night, while all the desperate proles have to make do with their masturbation gnosis and heroic doses of shrooms to animate a star trek based magickal paradigm. gimmie a fucking break.
    the bottom line is, if it’s important to you, you’ll make the time. if you refuse to make the time and then use that as pretext to engage in half measures, dead end intoxicants, and other work arounds, then said half hearteds will reap the clear rewards of such a choice.
    if you take it seriously than it is incumbent on one to set clear goals and then engage the best possible tools for the task. anything else is dillententism and / or sophistry. take one look at the state of the occult scene and tell me that the real fucking ‘leisure class’ hasn’t put down taproots out of their asses the size of my legs.

  5. Wow, good conversation developed here. I guess I am beginning to realize more and more that the “path” Zac is describing is in a lot of ways what I’ve always been about or what I have been looking for. And I know there have been countless times when occultists and “magickians” operating within a different (whiz-bang!) paradigm have totally given me shit for it. Don’t know where I’m going with that, but I think Zac’s ultimate point – that this path is ridiculously underdeveloped in a systematic way in modern Western Esotericism. So much so that people who tend to be into the occult often won’t even recognize it fully as being esoteric at all, because it doesn’t suit their paradigm…

  6. ah well, one man seesa heretic, and another just sees a lazy fucktard. nice debate fodder but ultimately everyone gotta pull their own weight.

    and don’t read too much into me and banc of america going at it hammer and tongs.. . it’s nuthin but love, in a manly, bloody knuckles and broken teeth spartan kind of way…

    and now wait for the vegan arbiters of green meme justice to condemn me for my agressive masculine metaphors…

  7. fortunately for me, when i first stumbled, wide-eyed with wonder, across chaos magick(tm), it still contained major aspects which were much more in line with what zac is talking about here. liber mmm was a decent introduction to yogic control of the body and mind (albeit ripped off entirely from crowley’s book 4 pt2, about the only thing that fat bastard ever did right.) also, some early chaos magick(tm) writers made a big deal about neti-neti excercises (borrowed from tibetan buddhism,) which is about the only place in western traditions i’m aware of that acknowledged the value of decoupling neural systems from their
    {sensory-input => conditioned-reaction} process.

    now, however, merely mentioning the word ‘discipline’ is enough to get you laughed out of the house by every self-titled chaos magician(tm) on the internet, who are more interested in flashy trinkets like sex, drugs, psychotronics, and cultural engineering.

    the early days of nlp(tm) were arguably better at all this stuff than any western esoteric systems. however, it’s obfuscated now because they found out it wasn’t as profitable to market self-improvement systems and instead settled for speed-seduction and a host of other get-people-to-do-what-you-want-for-no-effort crap.

  8. Luckily I don’t have problems with food addiction, porn, or cravings for fame/vast wealth. I am however easily distracted by media entertainment; and I’ll often find myself looking for footages on youtube, browsing various forums and reading pointless threads which always inevitably amount to a waste of time, or occupying myself with whatever movies I happen to have on my computer for the week.

    I know very well by now that at the end of all this, I’ll be no more happier nor wiser for my indulgence.

    The ways in which you described in detaching from addictions to food, porn, and desires for attention sound practical. Just not sure how I’d go about it in my situation. Only thing I can come up with is that I know at the end of the day I’ll be kicking myself over how I could have devoted that time to investing in my meditative practice rather than wasting it on activities that leave me with no lasting value. It’s an issue of instant gratification over an activity which takes much time and effort to bear fruit.

    Last thing I wanted to comment on was how you mentioned that reaching the more advanced levels of the practice with all its spiritual attainments entails being able to get into and sustaining these states for a great length of time without distractions. Not only does this sound like a tremendous task, but it also seems that one would need an incredible amount of leisure time to accomplish. If this is not so, how would the average person do this without joining some monastery or living in a cave? (I spend about an hour a day for my practice — any length of time more than this is uncommon. So… things don’t seem to be looking too great for me.)

  9. well this is a subtle point, and it’s also why pratyahara is important. it’s sort of a two part answer, and i’ll go into it more with the next segment that deals explicitly with concentration.

    if you you haven’t detached from the conditioned response cycle of the sense to any degree then yes, the only way to porgress in any of the practices is probably long periods of time in seclusion, but this is deceptive because sooner or later you have to come back, and the gains tend to evaporate if you can’t cope with the real world environment.

    if you have gotten to a level of proficientcy being able to walk among the stimuli and not get set off or led around automatically by things, then there’s no reason you can’t do practice anywhere and with anyone. you do need a set amount of time to establish a foundation while sitting privately or whathaveyou, but it’s important to take it out for a walk as my teacher would say and test it in the face of adversity.

    the other point, and this pertains more to spiritual insights than yogic attainments ( they do dovetail a bit but not completely) is that you can go about things in a way that will yeild spiritual realisations but no mind strength or yogic ‘powers’ if you will.

    certainly even just the continuous act of questioning one’s experience, testing those realisations and constantly reveiwing one’s conclusions for errors and such will eventually yeild greater understanding of oneself and one’s relationship to reality, but at a slightly lower octive of energy than you would get with the full meal deal of yogic practice.

    but more on this later.

  10. PS. Just wanted to say that I really like seeing the back and forth between Zac and ‘Banc’ on these subjects. Would definitely be cool to find a way to incorporate these types of back and forth into podcasts and whatnot…

  11. Thanks for the response Zac.

    I kinda figured one could advance insight wise, while still not being as advanced in concentration skills — well just based on Ingram’s book at least.

    There seems to be some debate as to how far along one needs to be in the concentration practice before they can effectively handle the task of insight practice. Right now I think my ability to hold concentration is weak, and would like to advance a bit before I move on so I can feel more certain — or at least that’s what I’ve been telling myself. And of course, I think it’d be great if I can also master some of the higher concentration skills…

    Thanks again; and this latest series has been a valuable source for little details that seems rare to find elsewhere.

  12. I forgot to add that although I *think* I’ve detached myself from the typical “normal” response to values offered up by our society, I’m not sure if it’s strong enough or all that genuine.

    What I mean is that the disassociation is more due to a conceptual understanding rather than through a deep experiential realization (if there is such a thing.. i don’t know; I haven’t experienced it) brought about through some meditative practice.

    So although my reactions to most things people take as possessing some inherent value is different, it’s probably not as strong as it could be.

  13. The idea of seperating the influence of one’s physical senses with the mind reminds me greatly of something Joseph Campbell used to lecture about quite a bit — Maslow’s heirarchy of human needs. Specically, Campbell remarked about how the “mythically inspired person” would readily sacrifice self-development, prestige, family, and even security for their belief/aspiration. The idea, to me, suggests transcending the sheer economic/physical demands of the world (and our senses) in place of our “inner drive”, inspiration, or whatever you want to call it. ie, Are we going to be a slave to our base material, or move beyond it?

    For me, the personal vice this series has made me drastically re-examine is exploration with smoking pot. While my use several years ago was astronomic compared to today, I’m realizing that the same basic foundation remains — that is, my clinging to the whole “road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom” idea, something I definitely embraced in my Jim Morrison/The Doors fanaticism way back in high school.

    It is almost relieving to hear a voice such as yours give support to the idea that “you can only dig so deep” (with drugs) before you start getting yourself into trouble. Recently, I’m finally able acknowledge that these things which once helped me so much are now holding me back. But, as the idea being explored goes, actually breaking the anchor’s hold is quite the challenge.

  14. Of course, I’m in agreement. I suppose my argument is simply don’t-throw-the-baby-out-with-the-bathwater. Drugs are dangerous, sexual practices are addictive, etc., etc., but so is concentrative and insight practice–there’s simply little reason to not use–if one has a degree of wisdow–every vehicle at one’s disposal. Though, of course, it demands that a strong degree of “moral” practice and study, i.e., yama and niyama, exist as a foundation. I see no drawback in making use of work-arounds if one has a solid foundation & tends to the classical practice as well.

    And I will admit that me quoting Terrence McKenna’s comments on a “leisure class” was just setting up a paper tiger to watch it be destroyed, but it was worth it for the chuckles I got from “star trek based magickal paradigm”. Of course if something is important it will be made a goal and time will be made for it.

    @pop occlt.: We are probably going to have to chew more mushrooms to get the star trek based magickal paradigm up and running. Skype is the only free platform to enable that type of thing, and it’s kind of awful.

  15. One other comment I wanted to make on this thread which I was thinking about in the rain at work today:

    I’m pretty firmly convinced that our cognition is a sensory process: in other words, that our thoughts about things are basically no different from our sight, hearing and feelings about things at some basic level.

    Don’t know if this is where you’re going with this Zac, but if that’s the case, then doesn’t the “next step” of all this also somehow hinge on de-coupling your consciousness not only from your senses, but also from your thoughts?

    I feel like this is where you’re going with the talk of siddhis, since from what I remember reading, the siddhis aren’t something you’re supposed to stop and enjoy so much as distractions to keep you in the prison you described in an earlier episode.

  16. pretty much. but even the idea of being in prison or not is a kind of prison. freedom only exist in relation to a state of restriction.

    so you could make a case for siddhis being freeing or distracting, but both sides of the argument buy into some kind of false dichotomy that requires you to hold onto a limiting concept

    it’s like having your legs chained your whole life and then being released from the chains. you might revel in the ‘power’ you now have to walk around, or you might realise that you are merely reclaiming an ability that was taken from you. treating it as a ‘power’ would be kind of an abberant, but on the other hand it’s nice to walk around and run and shit like that…

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