Well, I could probably take an hour or so and collect at least a dozen examples of occultists, yogis, meditators, alternative analysts, and esoteric investigators who evidence all the signs of chronic dark night insight cycles. Myself included, incidentally.

Now why would that be? The answer is quite simple actually. Once a particular person passes the threshold of what they call ‘penetrating the object’ in terms of investigating reality, they’ve essentially ruptured a dam holding back the sum total of ultimate reality, and from that point on, are engaged in a progressive process of death-rebirth, carried out at the basic sensory level on up.

That is, once you have the experience of knowing, not thinking, but knowing, that things are slippery, inconsistent, not as they appear to be, subject to definition or re-definition, fundamentally not satisfactory, or any number of other ways of experiencing the fundamental nature of reality, the mind is forced into a crisis of reorganisation that has only one real end.

The problem comes on two fronts: one is where people want to arrest the process of the mind in some final resolution, and the other is where people fail to reverse the figure/ground relationship of the mind to it’s object.

What I mean is, insight is, by definition, finding out something you didn’t know before, and that’s impossible unless you relinquish partial or incorrect perceptions in favor of more comprehensive and correct ones. That’s all well and good when it’s something trivial or with no personal significance, but nobody really wants to overturn their perceptions of self. This is akin, psychologically, to death. That means that the would be enlightened chronically either dig in and try to reify some view of what’s going on with them, or they focus too much on stuff out there, instead of looking inward at the sense of the observer.

You combine that with the ever intensifying sense of anxiety that I mentioned before, and you hve a recipe for all kinds of embarrasing flame outs, paranoid episodes, manic pronunications, manichean schema for interpeting reality, reversals and re-reversals of opinion, ecstatic bouts of relief from terror and confusion, and other increasingly desperate efforts to either arrest the process or redirect it from oneself and one’s deep sense of that self.

One of the most pernicious aspects is thinking that there is nothing else to do, nothing that can be done, or no way to do anything. Internalising the perception of impermanence means knowing that the mind is constantly reinventing and reorganising itself. Any section of belief or understanding that appears static is a delusion. The mind is a door that opens and opens and opens, forever. The moment it appears to not be opening in the slightest, is a sign that delusion has taken root. This is a hard thing for anyone to cope with, and especially for anyone who builds their self image around being enlightened or awakened. This is where the syndrome of the perpetual dark night basket case comes from.

You develop profound spiritual convictions or ultimate insights, but they’re always, always, unfinished. The part that can be finished is not the part that thinks, feels, or expresses itself. The self that has come this far must in turn be discarded. To actually finish this process requires that you let go of the exact thing that you’ve been leaning on up until that point, and most people can’t or won’t or don’t know to even do that. So you end up with a kind or relapsing sequence of near misses at true understanding. To make sense out of that cycle of being profoundly right, followed shortly by being profoundly wrong, requires a certain kind of deviant psychology that unfortunately infests the occult scene in general, and the occult internet, quite specifically.


PS: if any of you deviant scum use twitter, I’m now parading my psychosis there as well.

4 thoughts on “once begun, better to finish

  1. Boy, oh, boy are you speaking my language, zac. Once you’ve opened the door, there’s no going back. You either die to self or you fall into all sorts of unhealthy thoughts, actions and inactions, until, slowly, you finally figure out how to get through it. I haven’t figured it out quite yet, but I’d like to think I’ll hurl myself into deadends and ditches less frequently as the process continues.

  2. Tradition, it’s said, will ultimately descend into a parody of itself. Only another ten or twenty millenia of Kali Yuga to go.

    Zac is very right, the run-of the mill “teachings” on teh internets and in the occult scene are totally deranged. “Don’t be heedless. Don’t later fall into regret.” If you spend time chasing endless post-Thelema mythological window-dressing, or caught up in the boyd rice bad attitude of chaos magick, or worst of all, pretend that it doesn’t work after spending years at it to no avail…

    Forget “deadends and ditches”: get to a reasonable end point of initial process. rather than fumbling in the dark for a solution, acknowledge that there is one, then actually close that initial loop on the circuit, then tell the deranged nutjobs to go back to their hell-world until they get a clue (three turnings of the wheel).

  3. There is absolutely no word to describe the disbelief I felt when I started to read this. My initial thoughts were of terror and joy, to be honest. Terror that someone thought the same way I did and joy…that someone thought the same way I did. I do highly believe that I am coming a little bit too close to that line between genius and madness, but then again, as you have quite very well said, it is all a delusion. Understanding, doubt, it truly is nothing but evasive thoughts that will soon transmogrify themselves into something entirely different through the course of time. The only thing I’m sure most of us “philosophers” (or “pot heads with too much time” as some of my colleagues had taken the liberty to name me in my previous job) would truly hope for, is that when that “delusion” does finally claim us, it’s that it is a peaceful delusion. One where we are well taken care of, and cared for. Even if it is by ourselves, if the delusion is JUST peaceful enough, we will accept it, and believe that we have achieved happiness. But again, the the joy of understanding something, but the terror of knowing that that thought, will someday shape itself into a form that is yet unknown to us. May we all someday find that which we call enlightenment, and use it for our fellow man, as opposed to self-righteousness, and proud foolish multi-national escapades.

  4. Well, I’m glad I could add something useful. Sometimes it’s easy to lose your grounding when you feel like no one else has ever had the same thoughts as you, particularly when you’re probing the outer edges of what can be done with thoughts.

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