"There is more to this world
than we see with our eyes.
There is more to this world
than we touch with our hands"
A few words on terminology. We human beings are chained to words. If I think my interpretation or definition of a particular word is right, and that of another person is wrong, then I am ready to fight him and kill him. Take Christendom for instance. Many Christians believe that we consist of two parts: body and soul (or spirit, soul and spirit being synonymous). Other Christians believe that we are made of three parts: body, soul, and spirit—trichotomy instead of dichotomy—and that a clear distinction must be made between the soul and the spirit. The latter maintain that a verse in the New Testament supports them. Of course these days Christians don’t seem to fight physically anymore, but they still do fight verbally. From what I have observed, these two groups of Christians are not willing to reconcile. They hold to their own meanings of words instead of try and understand that maybe they all refer to the same reality when they say "soul" or "spirit". But the Reality doesn’t speak English. It does not know about the problems of all these people. The thing is, the universe is much more complicated than our limited human language is (it’s not hard to see), that’s why the dilemma.
So sorcerers are referring to the reality, to the multiple realities, to the realities of sorcery instead of trying to render strict definitions and develop a beautiful logical structure. Philosophers have been doing this for millennia, but sorcerers don't. And sometimes the habitual words which meanings are familiar to you will be confusing in this context.
Definition of sorcery. At various times don Juan, Carlos Castaneda’s teacher, attempted to name his knowledge. He felt that the most appropriate name was nagualism, but that the term was too obscure. Calling it simply "knowledge" made it too vague, and to call it "witchcraft" was debasing. "The mastery of intent" was too abstract, and "the search for total freedom" too long and metaphorical. Finally, because he was unable to find a more appropriate name, he called it "sorcery", although he admitted it was not really accurate.
"From where the average man stands," don Juan said, "sorcery is nonsense or an ominous mystery beyond his reach. And he is right—not because this is a fact, but because the average man lacks the energy to deal with sorcery."
Sorcery in Castaneda’s (Don Juan’s) teaching is not incantations and hocus-pocus, but the freedom to perceive not only the world taken for granted, but everything else that is humanly possible. Not rabbits out of hat, not David Copperfield, not Harry Potter.
1. Parallel worlds. Multiple realities.
Who does usually give the reports of having been to the other worlds, to the dark side, to the twilight realm, of having seen the visions? Usually these are religious people, addicts, sometimes people of art, etc. A poet said:
We sometimes catch a window
A glimpse of what's beyond
Was it just imagination
Stringing us along?
More things than are dreamed about
Unseen and unexplained
We suspend our disbelief
And we are entertained
Poets often mention these experiences in their works, that probably means some of them actually have them.
We live in the age of information and as we see, there is no lack of shamans, shams, ESP persons, superenlightened gurus, superholy priests, supersmart scientists, and other holier-than-thou’s these days. Everyone preaches his own kind of special reality, his own interpretation of paradise, his own unique metaphysical truth. We have to question ourselves if we want to study all these: what is our goal? Just mental curiosity? If we are to quench our curiosity, to titillate our imagination, one life is not enough. The mankind has accumulated so much knowledge we can never dig it out. Power rests on the kind of knowledge one holds. What is the sense of knowing things that are useless? The goal of the sorcerers is to practically discover new worlds, new realities. This world appears really annoying to an average person (to me, at least). The formula "live, work, die" is terribly, extremely depressing. Or, there’s another definition of happiness: a true man has to give birth to a child, plant a tree, and build a house in his lifetime. This sounds boring to death. We human beings have nearly infinite resources, unthinkable capabilities we are not aware of. It is a shame if we die without using them. Like millionaires who have millions in their bank accounts but live on bread and water alone. But that’s what the absolute majority does.
Did you ever use narcotic drugs? Those visions you experienced were not multiple realities. Just hallucinations, that’s all. The play of sick poisoned mind. People with mental diseases experience those visions, too. What are the criteria in telling hallucinations from the real experience of other worlds? There’s only one criterion: controllability of your experience.
I had some sick conditions when I was small and had some serious diseases. Maybe those visions were a kind of other realities, but because their nature is extremely unstable, sorcerers are not interested in them. Same goes to narcotic conditions. What is the difference between a crazy person and a sorcerer? Seemingly very small: both see and experience some weird realities that ordinary people usually don’t. However, the tremendous difference is that a crazy person (or an addict or an otherwise sick person) does not and cannot control or use that reality, whereas a sorcerer can. That is the major difference. What is not multiple realities: fantasies, lunacy, hallucinations, impressions, thoughts, ideas, fiction, etc.
2. Brief superficial review of few religious doctrines, metaphysical teachings & money-loving shams.
a. India: the oldest roots of spirituality in the world.
The most ancient sorcery practices were registered in India. (Maybe Egypt could compete, but we don’t have surviving Egyptian religions or practices today, so the Indian tradition is richer anyway—there we have many written testimonies, holy scriptures, whose contents and practices survived to the date). The most ancient scripture on Earth is Rig-Veda. It mentions some forms of yoga. Yoga in different forms had been practiced in India since time immemorial. One of the major fundamental writings of Yoga is famous Yoga-Sutras by Patanjali (created some 1500 years after Rig-Veda). It’s very compact and it describes the very essence of the human nature. It outlines the main obstacles on the way of becoming a sorcerer. The goal of Patanjali is "the cessation of mental fluctuations" (chittavritti nirodha). The obstacles that Castaneda later on would summarize in an extremely condensed way are simply the "the internal dialogue". Of course in Indian tradition things are a bit more complicated: they’re digging pretty deep and they figure that one has to still many different aspects of the human psyche—the soul, in order to release the latent psychic powers. Here we come to this main obstacle: the inner (internal) monologue (dialogue). What do you do every minute in your life, even as you sleep? Breathe, yes, but you also THINK. Your mind is like a car with broken brakes that cannot stop. Weird, right? The mind is supposed to be our obedient instrument; instead, it became our tyrant. It seems that we cannot stop it. Try it, and you’ll see. But there are means to stop it (in Patanjali’s tradition there’s much more to stop in our psyche, but still it could be summarized simply as "the inner monologue"). The process of stopping all the manifestations of the soul is generally referred to as meditation. The Hindu tribes discovered this principle millennia ago: still your soul completely, and tremendous psychic powers will start to get released and manifested. They called these "miraculous" powers Siddhi and the ones possessing them—the Siddha. Siddhi is typically defined as "a magical or spiritual power for the control of self, others and the forces of nature." The siddhis described by occultists and yogis are in actuality supernormal perceptual states available to all human beings. These are absolutely natural abilities that can be explained in highly rational terms. Subjectively, perception of other realities takes place; objectively, some magical or spiritual powers are manifested. These are two sides of the same coin. These rare people, the ones that to different extents stilled their inner monologue and other psychological manifestations and so attained to some unusual supernatural powers, have always been either feared or worshipped (or both) by ordinary people.
The Tao caused the creation of the universe.
The Tao is the energy that flows through all life.
The Tao surrounds everyone in the form of nature.
Everyone must observe and reflect on nature to find enlightenment.
An adherent’s goal is to become one with the Tao.
Everything in the universe is the Tao.
The many gods are manifestations of the one Tao.
Everything is cyclical.
Each person must nurture the Tao or 3 bodily energies (Jing, Ch’i, Shen) through activities such as exercise and meditation.
One should be prudent and think before acting.
People are inherently good.
Follow the art of wu wei: let nature take its course.
Dao De Jin, the central scripture of Taoism, is the second translated book in history (after the Bible). Its author is Lao Tzu. Its central ideas (except for the ones with moralistic implications) are very similar to the ones of Castaneda's teaching.
Sri Aurobindo. A great philosopher, revolutionist, yogin, and poet who lived in the first half of 20th century in India. Among his major books: "The Life Divine" and "The Synthesis of Yoga". He had studied all the schools of yoga and came up with a more effective synthesis that he called "Integral yoga".
He sought the help of Vishnu Lele, a yogi. The yogi accepted Sri Aurobindo and offered to initiate him into silence. "Sit down, close your eyes. You will see thoughts entering your mind from outside. Refuse them entry," he said to Sri Aurobindo. Sri Aurobindo did so and found Lele's words to be true. He could, after considerable effort, reject the thoughts. In three days, Sri Aurobindo succeeded in establishing silence in his mind. To Lele this was unbelievable, since success in such an experiment would normally be achieved only after a number of years.
One day when a cyclone was raging, Mother (his coworker) went to his room to shut the windows so that rain water would not come in and spoil the room. To her utter amazement she found neither the raging wind nor the rain had found entry into the Master's room. She found him sitting at his table next to a window lost in writing as if there was no storm outside.
The main point of his method is basically the same: classical yogic meditation.
Mircea Eliade. Romanian historian, philosopher, theorist of religion, and literary critic of 20th century. I don’t know of any evidences that he himself attained to some siddhi, but he did write many brilliant books studying the Indian philosophy and spiritual practices. 2 great books are "Yoga, Immortality and Freedom" and "Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy". He also shows how siddhi have been attained to by way of meditation, throughout history.
b. Occidental teachings.
The principal difference of the 2 major religion blocks: among all the religious & esoteric traditions of the world’s history we can differentiate the two major groups: 1) monotheistic and 2) sorcery disciplines. The former sets a deity as the center, the focus, and the means of attaining to the divine state, whereas the latter set the individual human capabilities alone as the center and the means of releasing the hidden psychic powers. Among the former are such as Zoroastrianism, Brahmanism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Among the latter are such as Buddhism, Taoism, Chinese traditional religion, Hinduism (arguably), Maya religion, shamanism, and various African, American and Polynesian beliefs of animism.
In every religion or tradition we have some outstanding persons (sorcerers) who actually reached the goal of sorcery. But we know only about the few famous ones. Gautama Siddhartha, Mahavira, Jesus, etc.
Izrael & Christianity. The religions of Judaism and Christianity stand apart from most of the other religions due to their unique statements of exclusivity of their God and the way of salvation. The multitude of modern Christian sects and denominations, however, have little or nothing to do with the Bible—the original Holy Scripture of Judaism & Christianity. The reasons of this exclusivity can be traced in the Old Testament.
Abraham was a wild man in Mesopotamia desert who held some primitive beliefs. One day suddenly the spirit (or God) manifested himself to him and lead him out of Mesopotamia into Palestine, revealing some strange things about the Unique God who alone had to be worshipped—a brand new idea in primitive shepherds’ community. Abraham, without full realization of it, eventually became the founder of the great new monotheistic religion. The episode of Elohim with 2 angels visiting his tent deserves some attention. There are no analogies in other world religions to show a unique god of the universe who would do something like that—walk into a tent with a mortal man and eat a calf with him. Maybe Krishna could be compared to it, but he is openly called just one of the incarnations of the Brahman, not his unique and absolute representative in history, as the Bible does.
G. H. Pember. All these books by the leading Christian authors provide us with opponents view, which itself is valuable. One party of a controversy would never admit the power of its enemy unless that power is very real and actual, and being aware of it is crucial to survival of the former party. An opponent’s view always deserves some consideration. In this particular case the two confronting parties are Christianity and Sorcery, the confrontation owing to many of their original premises, especially the main premise of Christianity "Worship your One and Only God". "Earth’s earliest ages". G. H. Pember says exactly the same thing in his book: asceticism and quieting one’s soul brings about the release of tremendous unthinkable supernatural powers in man. Examples of supernatural events are brought, too. Sorcerers use the techniques even of "the enemy"—just like during wars the opponents send industrial spies into each others' territory to investigate the state-of-the-art technologies. This happened during World War II. This physical example applies to the spiritual realm, too.
Alexander Men—"Magic vs. 1 God". In his book (vol. 2 of 6) A. Men describes the same 2 parallel lines in history: the line of belief in the 1 God and the line of releasing one’s own latent psychic powers. He provides the cases of demonstration of paranormal powers by shamans, as evidenced by scientists who witnessed them. A devout Christian, A. Men supports the reality of sorcery and traces its origins back to the ancient religions of animism and nature worship and studies its influence on the subsequent civilizations and the world religions.
Confrontation with sorcery.
In the Old Testament, one of the commands of God to Israel is "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live". The main point of the Old Testament teaching is that anything else men might worship or appreciate more than the Elohim is disgusting, considered to be the main sin. The Bible strongly stresses the necessity of reaching the divine state by obeying the God alone, by complete dependence on Him and His commandments. This is diametrically opposed to the contents of the majority of the sorcery disciplines where both the means and the goal is highest independence possible. The purpose of sorcery is only an absolute freedom, and manifestation of the "supernatural" powers is just an intermediate goal.
Old Testament prophets—same siddhi!
However, it is somewhat strange to see that actually in the Old Testament the same siddhi are described. The incredible power of Samson, the signs that Israelite priests produced in response to the priests of Baal (lighting up the wet woods). The budding rod of Abraham. Elijah commanding wild beasts (a bear) to kill people. These are just the few examples of what is found in much greater abundance in the Vedas and later writings of various religions in India. The Christian miracles continued in the common era, too. We cannot disregard the many writings of the Fathers of the church and other hallowed saints (e. g., the abundant Orthodox hagiography). This indicates that both the Christian way of prayer and the eastern way of meditation, although seemingly different, lead to the analogical results. What is in common between them? Obviously, quieting the soul. Hence, the conclusion: any possible way of putting one’s soul, the psychological part, to rest, releases the paranormal powers and the ability to travel in other available realities. Severely condemned in Xnity<—> mildly condemned in the East.
Apostle Paul is considered the main author in the New Testament because he created the most logical and elaborate theory and practice of the spiritual path. Apostle Peter wrote about him in NT, "his words are sometimes hard to comprehend". Evidently, Paul did travel to the neighboring worlds because unusual things were visibly manifested through him and witnessed by many. These include healing, prediction, resistivity to snake venom. He ventured into some other reality at the moment of his conversion (when the bright light blinded him and he heard a voice, but the people around did not witness the same); later in Arabian desert when the spirit was teaching him directly; on the roof of a house when he was in trance and saw a vision of unclean animals.
During the middle ages (aka Dark ages) the Catholic church in the occidental world locked the occult knowledge of all kinds from the majority, because this knowledge would undermine the authority of Catholicism. So we see all the witches stakes for many centuries—the seekers of spiritual knowledge and freedom had to pay the price of their lives. Equally the Christian and the-non Christian seekers, because their knowledge was equally dangerous to the church. So whenever anyone attained to any esoteric liberating knowledge, and much more—to the explicit siddhi, the "supernatural" powers, he was gotten hold of and burned asap.
The Chinese Christian author who became widely influential in the 20th century. As he studied the Bible, he tried to refrain from the traditional and conventional human views that had become part of the establishment religion and deviated from the original meanings in the Bible, and to reevaluate the scripture from the point of view of actual spiritual experiences stated therein. He wasn’t a philosopher or a theologian, he was a practitioner. For example, he rediscovered some universal spiritual laws in the New Testament such as the law of life and the law of death (1 John)—in their scientific meaning, as the laws acting spontaneously, not depending of arbitrary benevolence of God, but rather depending on the individual practice of the believer alone.
c. Dark ages’ end.
New age. The mixture grows.
Crowd vs. seekers. Even though the dark ages are over now, there is still the controversy between the "normal" social-based religious people which make up the majority, and the seekers of freedom through various spiritual / awareness-heightening / meditation techniques which make up the minority. (That doesn’t mean something is wrong with the holy scriptures, the wrong thing is that no one actually does what they prescribe). The witch hunt is on, only not so much physical anymore. Just check out the news about what the Pravoslavnaya "Church" is doing in Russia these days (particularly about the mandatory "Pravoslavny" education in Russian schools, in spite of the Constitution of Russia). Any anti-pravoslavny speaking is silenced today in mass media and internet in this country.
When the dark ages were over, the threat to the practitioners’ life was over. The persecution diminished, although not suddenly. As the human society gained more freedom and as the mass media improved, the access to the ancient secrets of opening up the alternative realities improved. But it wasn’t until the second half of the 20th century that the complete picture of the world’s main spiritual disciplines synthesis became possible.
Poltergeist: Rosenheim. Spirits—lecture. Gurdjieff. Crowley. The mixture grows. Judge not lest ye be judged yourself. Check everything with your own experience! "New age".
North American Indians sorcery. Castaneda’s teaching.
The spiritual practices of American Indians remain, perhaps, the most hidden from the western world. Much of the contents of archeological written findings have been proven to be just legends. Probably this owes to the fact that their civilization was destroyed twice – in early second millennium by less developed invading tribes, and beginning from the mid-second millennium – by Spanish Conquistadors. In the 20th century Aldous Huxley ("Doors of Perception", "Heaven and Hell"), Carlos Castaneda and some others attempted to rediscover their sorcery practices for public at large.
Castaneda—anthropologist from UCLA—met a Yaqui shaman named Don Juan Matus in 1960. Castaneda's experiences with Don Juan inspired the works for which he is known. Castaneda's works contain descriptions of paranormal or magical experiences, several psychological techniques, Toltec magic rituals, and shamanism. Carlos Castaneda's works have sold more than 8 million copies in 17 languages. For his third book, Journey to Ixtlan, he received his doctorate degree in 1970 in UCLA.
First two "stoned" books. Drugs as kick start. Trihexyphenidyl.
Don Juan taught him sorcery for 13 years, following several directions, or disciplines. Stopping the mind—hardest task. Incantations (Cabbala) in pop-culture vs. self-transformation. => Warrior's path. (Similar constructs: Xnity etc.) The first and foremost was destroying the feeling of self-importance. Very Christian! He also taught him not-doing – somewhat like Wu-Wei in Tao. Not doing the things we do in the daily life helps disrupting the routines, the unchanging view of the world. Because the basic premise of Don Juan’s sorcery is that there is a multitude of worlds right in front of us, but we cannot interact with them because of the lack of energy and thus our fixation on this one and only world of our daily life. The two major arts he taught him were the art of stalking and the art of dreaming. The point of the former one is to stalk yourself—look at yourself as if you’re someone else, evaluate your own patterns of behavior, and keep doing it to the extent you can actually change your personality, your character at will. If you consider it more closely, you will realize that this is analogical to what the New Testament calls "losing the soul-life" and "renewing of the mind". Losing self-importance and looking at yourself critically seem to constitute the core of many religions. The Bible explains that we have to lose our soul-life because it is sinful, united with our flesh where Satan dwells, and it cannot please the Lord the way it is. And then as we pray to the Lord, our mind gets renewed by His mind, we have his thoughts instead of our sinful thoughts, his feelings instead of our sinful feelings etc. The sorcerers’ explanation, of course, doesn’t have all these theistic principles (not even close to it); however, the mechanism itself is very similar.
The art of dreaming is the art of controlling your dreams and thus passing from ordinary dreams into some other real worlds. This one is probably the most accessible sorcery technique these days, because it does not take years of religious training, fasting, prayers, meditation, asanas, pranayamas, etc. All it takes is a bit of concentration and an effort of our will to either realize the moment of falling asleep or starting to see our hands during sleep. Then an amazing thing happens: the dream is no longer a dream, instead, the dreamer ends up in a very real world that has nothing to do with a usual dream where things change and where nothing is controlled. In the lucid dream, on the contrary, the dreamer is able of controlling the surroundings. Like I said in the beginning, this is a major character trait of sorcery: you’re in control instead of being controlled. If you never experienced the lucid dream, you might think I’m a fool speaking all that nonsense. But the moment you try it for yourself and succeed, it changes your life drastically. For many people it becomes the shock of life and the initiation to sorcery. You actually get an indisputable proof that the other worlds exist, right there before your eyes.
This practice is not new either: it was known in ancient times as part of Tibetan Dream Yoga and Dzogchen.
Osho Rajneesh. Castaneda's & Osho's teachings—many analogies.
Osho lived in India in the 20th century. He collected the cream of all oriental teachings throughout the history (he was almost the same smart as Sri Aurobindo or Watchman Nee) and taught it to a great multitude of people. He stated many times that he was not creating any new religion or a new movement, although many considered it the case. He did that because he rebelled against the traditional religious systems of modern India that gradually became callous, rigid, corrupt, and united with the worldly system and politics—just like all other religions of today—and they could hardly bring enlightenment to anyone. He actually went back to the source (like Sri Aurobindo, Watchman Nee, or Carlos Castaneda) and tried to revive the classical yogic practices without the sophistication of the ancient scriptures. Probably the only thing he invented was dynamic meditations—he taught that one does not necessarily have to sit in asana and do pranayma at a given time of the day, turning meditation into a dead ritual. He maintained that meditation must happen every minute of our lives. Similar to what NT says, "pray unceasingly". Instead, the vast majority of Christians today prays only before food and twice a week in their meetings.
The place among philosophical schools.
Sorcerers are usually not concerned with philosophy because philosophies are rarely practical. However, some points of Castaneda's teaching and some of existentialism seem to overlap (death as an adviser, personal responsibility, will over reason). It's easier to state which philosophy is NOT sorcery. Not ethical, political, "good and bad" philosophies. Branches: ontology, not theology or ethics. Philosophers throughout the history seem to never hit the point of sorcery, but some came very close to it. The philosophical schools that were not centered on morality, the good and the evil, or the politics, advanced further in this direction.
d. Modern day soup. Crooks & shams, but wtf, even those could be real paths!
3. SUMMARY: The synthesis of practices.
The path with the heart.
Concentration vs. unfocusing.
STOPPING THE INTERNAL DIALOGUE.
4. Too much theory & philosophy vs. sheer practice. The point of Zen: SHUT UP AND TAKE ACTION!