On 12th of November I briefly described some major world religions and spiritual disciplines with a view to outline their key practices that lead to perception of multiple realities and manifestation of the psychic powers in man. My main conclusion was that the core of every such practice is quieting one's soul. The techniques differ, but their essence remains.
Tonight I will draw some comparisons between the two great spiritual disciplines of the world history that I mentioned the last time: the teaching of the Bible and the teaching of sorcery, the latter as viewed by Carlos Castaneda and other similar authors.
1. Teachings of the Bible
The Bible is the absolute bestseller of all times; it is the first translated book in history (translated into nearly all the languages of the Earth), and the one published the most. Its circulation has been the largest ever. It's a shame if we never familiarize ourselves with the Book #1. At a first glance, the style of the Bible, especially of the Old Testament, looks extremely boring for reading.
God: "Whew! I just created a 24 hour period of alternating light and darkness on Earth." Angel: "What are you going to do now?" God: "Boy, I'm tired, let's just call it a day."
However, if we take the time and read it, some amazing things about our human nature and possibilities hidden in us human beings can be found. Many different groups of people take the Bible as a foundation for their special kind of activities, each their own, many different ones, no matter how funny those are. The Bible is like crude oil: one can extract many different fractions of valuable substances out of it. And find justification for nearly any kind of deeds there, depending on how you interpret the Bible—from loving all people to killing all people.
The Bible consists of 66 different books written within a span of more than a thousand years by such different authors as kings, fishermen, prophets, scribes, tax collectors etc. So the Bible might appear as something like a patchwork quilt; however, it does have a bottom line to unite all the books in it. In the Old Testament it is the history of the people of Izrael. In the New Testament it is the story of Jesus Christ and his followers.
The Bible is abounding in instances of sorcery. Many modern day Christians refer to sorcery as "miracles", but that's not an accurate word. Riding on a bicycle 300 years ago would be a "miracle". Electricity 400 years ago would be a "miracle". The word "miracle" has the everyday common taste to it. But the word "sorcery" sheds some light on how all those paranormal things in the Bible were actually done.
I seem to advertise this book, although I'm not a Christian. Funny, isn't it? Moreover, I am rather an adversary of Christian views than a supporter of them. However, I will say again: you should take the time and read it, possibly cover to cover. Because the truths contained in there cannot be overestimated, irrespective of the point of belief of the writer and of the reader.
a. Old Testament.
We have been influenced by TV so much we have a settled popular image of nearly anything in our brain. Whenever we hear "Satan" or "Lucifer", if we are religious, we think of someone utterly bad and extremely negative. If we are not religious, we think of something like Frank Zappa sang in his song "Titties and Beer":
then I heard this noise
Like a crunchin' twig,
'n up jumped the Devil,
He's about this big.
He had a red suit on
An' a widow's peak
An' then a pointed tail
'N like a sulphur reek.
Yes, it was him awright,
I swear I knowed it was
He had some human flesh
Stuck underneath his claws.
The devil smiley in ICQ is typical, too. We would need to get rid of all these funny concepts (mostly stemming from Catholic and Orthodox myths and fairytales) if we are to understand the Bible and sorcery.
Many people, when they open the Bible on page 1 and begin to read about creation of the world in seven days, say it's nonsense and lose any desire to keep reading. How could the Earth possibly be created in 7 calendar days from scratch?! That would contradict all the natural sciences. But the timeline of events in the Bible does not begin with Gen. 1:1 and Gen. 1:2. Some passages in Isaiah and Ezekiel point to a much earlier time.
Actually, according to the Bible, in the beginning, along with the heaven and the earth, god created the angels, his helpers. And one of them was the mightiest, the most beautiful, the wisest one. His name was Lucifer (the conductor of light). He sat on a mountain of precious stones (you have to realize this could be highly metaphorical here—we do not know whether the physical mountains existed at the time)—and ruled the other angels and the universe on behalf of god. However, little, if anything, does the Bible say of what the universe was like at that primeval time.
ii. The span between Gen. 1:1 and Gen. 1:2.
Somehow pride crept into his chest and he came to think of himself as nearly a one equal to the Creator. Here we face the name for the original sin: Pride. (This topic would be later evolved in the New Testament by an expansive teaching of losing the soul-life, one's pride, ambition).
"Once by the Pacific" by Robert Frost
The shattered water made a misty din.
Great waves looked over others coming in,
And thought of doing something to the shore
That water never did to land before.
The clouds were low and hairy in the skies,
Like locks blown forward in the gleam of eyes.
You could not tell, and yet it looked as if
The shore was lucky in being backed by cliff,
The cliff in being backed by continent;
It looked as if a night of dark intent
Was coming, and not only a night, an age.
Someone had better be prepared for rage.
There would be more than ocean-water broken
Before God's last Put out the Light was spoken.
I think Robert Frost is talking about this period of time: right before the rebellion of Lucifer. This self-exaltation eventually caused his fall from the emerald mountain straight down to the earth: one third of the angels found his views reasonable enough and joined him in his rebellion, had war with God's loyal angels, but eventually were all thrown headlong down to earth. Since then Lucifer was called Satan, the Adversary.
The second verse in the Bible should be properly translated "And the Earth became" instead of "and the Earth was" from the original Hebrew. It became void and without shape as a result of this war of angels that followed the rebellion of Lucifer. He and his guys destroyed the Earth and plunged it into a dark chaos, something very similar to the nuclear winter condition. There is a huge indefinable span of time between Gen. 1:1 and Gen. 1:2. So actually the story in Gen.1 is the story of recreation, not creation. By the way, that is also why the Bible has no problem with the theory of evolution. Now, to those who say it's nonsense: don't worry, you may keep reading.
iii. Paradise. The two trees. Adam.
After the re-creation, God planted the garden of Eden. Adam—if he was an actual man, he had to possess a tremendous supernatural power & knowledge to rule the Earth and name all the animals!
The fall of man: sorcerers consider the two trees and the fall from paradise metaphorically, the two trees representing the condition of "silent knowledge" (of God-like supernatural knowledge about nearly everything,—almost the omniscience), and the condition of mind. When man ate of the tree of mind, into his mind he fell. We cannot disregard the fact that all myths and religions of the earth point to a time when possessing paranormal powers was normal. So the fall from paradise could symbolize the loss of these powers by mankind at large.
iv. The book of Enoch. G.H. Pember. The origin of fallen angels and demons.
More information about the fallen angels is contained in the books of Genesis and Enoch (the latter one—non-canonical, but wtf?) According to the Bible, the sources of sorcery can be traced from Satan and his angels. It was the fallen angels in the book of Enoch who first acquainted the humans with sorcery.
The Bible has two distinct names for the two groups of modern day spiritual creatures in the air: 1) Fallen angels, the greater and more powerful category, and 2) Demons, the minor and less powerful category. The former fell down from the sky with Lucifer in the time immemorial, after the war of the angels, and still have nearly infinite powers over the creation, in spite of being cast down to earth. The demons are bodiless entities that lost their bodies during the great flood—a catastrophe of a lesser scale than the one between Gen.1:1 and 1:2, but which still is said to have destroyed all the living on the Earth. It surely wouldn't make Green Peace happy if they were around at the time.
It is evident that most of the creatures that modern day sorcerers come in contact with are of the second category—demons. We also have to get rid of the nonsense according to which demons and devils fry sinners in frying pans in hell. Catholic and orthodox guff influenced the world culture big time. These fairytale concepts have no foundation in the Bible whatsoever. There is no such thing as "hell" in the Bible in the first place.
The book of Genesis describes how at a point in time the whole mankind became corrupt and so god destroyed it by flood—everyone except Noah and his family. That happened after Adam, the forefather of mankind but before Abraham, the forefather of Jewish religion. It does not say much about how exactly did they become corrupt. Probably the things were so disgusting for Moses—the alleged writer of the book of Genesis—his morality standard wouldn't let him write it down. However, we do have a more detailed description of those events in a non-canonical book of the Old Testament—the book of Enoch. At that time the "sons of God came down to Earth and married the daughters of men". We could call those creatures angels, but we have to give up the ridiculous catholic idea of angels being all white, winged, and having a halo around their head. The result of their copulation with human women was a generation of giants—people of huge stature having inborn paranormal capacities. The notion of human-like semi-gods can be traced in almost every other religion. Especially in Greek mythology and various Indian religions. Enoch describes how these angels taught humans all kinds of forbidden knowledge—from making antimony make-up for women and grafting the trees to making weapons and using the practical sorcery such as divination.
v. God's prophets vs. sorcerers. Their siddhi being analogical.
In spite of the strict prohibition of god to people of Izrael to use any kind of magic, the sorcery practices became widely spread in Izrael long before the common era. We know this because in many books of the Old Testament god reproaches Izrael for using the help of soothsayers, diviners, charmers, enchanters, etc. There is an interesting fact about this: often when these sorcerers are mentioned in both Old and New Testament, it says that they were gentiles—not Jewish. They came from the many kinds of tribes surrounding Izrael in Palestine—Babylonian, Assyrian, Philistinian, etc. And those nations were polytheistic in their majority. Even when one deity was worshipped by those nations, it did not have an absolute exclusive status, like Elohim, the god of Jews, did. Rather, even those "central" gods (Like Artemis, Moloch, Baal, Ashtoreth, and others) were parts of larger pantheons of gods—another indication that sorcery practices grow on the more fertile ground of polytheism rather than monotheism which in principle is very intolerant toward any magical practices. Here again is the controversy of these two major kinds of spiritual traditions—the monotheistic (here represented by Judaism), and the polytheistic one.
But god's prophets openly performed the extraordinary deeds beyond capabilities of regular people (such as lighting up the wet woods, commanding wild beasts to kill people, prophesying the future), and sometimes apparently even beyond the laws of physics (such as stopping the sun or stopping the Jordan River), and these actions were not called sorcery—they were ascribed to the power of god who acted for the interests of his people.
In Exodus we can even see a contest of god's prophets and Egyptian sorcerers to outdo each other with paranormal actions. Whatever Moses and Aaron did with their rods (such as turning the rods into serpents and turning the water in the Nile into blood) was done by the Egyptians, too. Any competition can be only held if the results of the parties can be compared and measured against each other. This clearly indicates that those siddhi had the same nature with god's people and Egyptian sorcerers, only techniques of reaching them were different. God's people were obtaining those powers by concentrating on Elohim, their only godhead, whereas the Egyptians apparently used other techniques of quieting their soul and releasing those powers, such as carrying out complicated rituals to reach the necessary amount of concentration and shutting off the internal dialogue, or praying to their gods (which is seldom done in sorcery though).
b. New Testament.
In the New Testament, the emphasis seems to shift from the physical to the spiritual side of things. While in the Old Testament sometimes the sorcery could be worked seemingly by plain volition of god and no participation of humans, in the New Testament these cases are more rare, and the "miracles" are mostly worked by people themselves. This can be explained by the fact that in the OT the spirit of God was never in men, it was just on men. Whereas in the NT the spirit of god is in people, allowing them to exercise it and perform the paranormal actions. Jesus performs about the same miracles as in the Old Testament, but his message changes from "eye for an eye" to "love your enemy". The message of NT with a view to reaching the paranormal powers becomes more clear to us: the key is quieting the soul. Although unlike sorcery, this method in the NT does have a considerable moralistic constituent. Obviously, the Mountain Sermon in Matt. 5 is a way to quiet one's soul. The key words in the process are meek, poor, afflicted, pure in heart, etc.—a Christian is supposed to become all of this. Here we can see the major principle common to both sorcery and Christianity: still your soul. According to 1 Thes. 5, our soul has three parts: mind, emotion, and will. Therefore, all three parts must be quieted in order to have the psychic powers in us released.
Teacher asked her Sunday School class to draw pictures of their favorite Bible stories. She was puzzled by Vovochka's picture, which showed four people on an airplane, so she asked him which story it was meant to represent. "Don't you know? The Flight to Egypt!" was his reply. Pointing at each figure, the teacher said, "That must be Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus. But who's the fourth person?" "Can't you see, that's Pontius – the PILOT!"
Jesus and his disciples did many paranormal acts such as healing, prediction, casting out demons (in the terms of sorcery, disconnecting a person from the inorganic being inhabiting his body). It wasn't always helpful for the person in question: once apostle Paul exorcised a spirit of prophecy from a man. So that man lost his ability and probably all his income. Disciples even killed people w/o physical contact, with the power of the spirit alone (the case of Ananias and his wife in Acts).
A little girl became restless as the preacher's sermon dragged on and on. Finally, she leaned over to her mother and whispered, "Mommy, if we give him the money now, will he let us go?"
2. Sorcery teachings
I will mainly focus on the teaching of Carlos Castaneda. In his books, written in the 20th century, he claims that he received lessons from a Yaqui Indian sorcerer, Don Juan, and that the tradition he was initiated to is thousands of years long. He refers to this tradition of sorcery as Toltec knowledge.
As a student of anthropology in UCLA, he went to Arizona desert to collect data on the natives and the plants with psychedelic effects that they used (the psychedelic culture was rising then in the USA, in the early 1960's). Castaneda met Don Juan at a bus stop in Nogales and right there he experienced the first effect of sorcery. First he approached the old Mexican Indian boldly and began a conceited speech on how he was interested about peyote—the cactus that Indians used for rituals, healing, and for enlightenment—on how much he knew about it, and even how profitable it would be for that feeble old Indian to communicate with this smart student of anthropology and become his informer. Don Juan just looked at him and immediately stopped him cold from speaking that mumbo jumbo with the power of his eyes only. He couldn't continue speaking. Don Juan said, "come to see me some day". And then DJ ran away and got on his bus. After toilsome efforts, CC eventually found DJ again in the place where he lived in Mexico and became the sorcerer's disciple. And of course Don Juan wasn't feeble at all, in spite of his years. He was incomparably stronger than 35-year old CC.
If we look carefully, we can see the first major discrepancy between Christianity and Sorcery here: the Christian method works through morality, social ways, preaching, the power of argument. Whereas the sorcery works through sheer personal experience only, without any regard to moralistic codes, religious dogmas, the right and the wrong, the ethics, etc. Let me illustrate this by one of my observations. When an American missionary comes into contact with a Russian student, he usually does not appeal to his personal experiences. Instead, he appeals to the authority of the Bible, to his excellent knowledge of the numbers of the verses in the New Testament, to the high style of his three-piece suit (subconsciously, but wtf), to the power of his own Church (congregation, fellowship, brotherhood, whatever). Here I see a gap between the modern Christian methods and the Biblical ones: when Jesus first met his disciples, he didn't say much, except "drop your fishing net and follow me". The disciples couldn't disobey the personal power of that man. Likewise, when Castaneda first met Don Juan, the latter did not say anything at all. Only in the end he said softly, "come to see me some day". These three instances (modern Christian preacher meeting people, Jesus meeting his disciples, and Castaneda meeting his teacher), illustrate how close the Biblical and the Sorcery way are in this regard, and how the modern Christian way differs. And of course the greatest difference between the Bible and Christianity on one hand and the Sorcery on the other is that sorcerers never preach anything to anyone.
Vovochka watched his father, a pastor, write a sermon. "How do you know what to say?" he asked. "Why, God tells me." "Oh, then how come you keep crossing things out?"
Back to the original sin, the pride: 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.
3. The comparison
i. It seems that both within the biblical teaching and the sorcery humans often receive the knowledge and/or the ability to perform acts of sorcery through the spiritual beings (called angels and demons in the Bible, and spirits and allies or inorganic beings in the books of Castaneda). Of course Christians are condemned if they receive help from any other spirit than the Lord's.
ii. Impeccability <–> being perfect as the heavenly Father is perfect.
Impeccability has to do with responsibility for one's own actions. A sorcerer makes decisions before any actual action. As he makes them, he assumes complete responsibility for the outcome of his planned actions. If he dies as a result of his actions, that was his lack of impeccability. In the world of the ordinary people, their word can be easily altered, but the fact of their imminent death can not. In the world of sorcerers, on the contrary, their words never change. Their decisions, once made, stay intact for ever. But their death can be postponed and changed, unlike in the world of ordinary men. The Christian term "Being perfect" implies praying to the Lord, concentrating on his person, and asking for that quality from him, instead of self-improvement. Any self-improvement is condemned in the NT teaching.
iii. Losing self-importance <–> losing the soul-life.
Don Juan had his disciple lose his self-importance by harsh methods. He mocked him and put him in the situations where CC lost his face totally. But the key procedure for reaching any quality in sorcery is shifting perception. Whenever perception shifts to other realities, we stop being ourselves in a sense, and lose our false ego. Again: this is not psychology or morality, it's rather a scientific process. There is cause and there is effect. In the Bible the principle is analogical: only this key process is called "touching the human spirit" or "exercising the spirit" or "contacting the Lord". Both true Christians and true sorcerers try to simplify things as much as possible. Whenever a sorcerer shifts his perception, three things happen: 1) he comes in contact with other realities, 2) people around may observe him performing some paranormal acts, and 3) he stops being himself, e.g. he loses the feeling of self-importance, self-pity, and becomes ruthless and detached. Same goes to the Christians. Whenever a Christian prays (contacts his human spirit), three things happen: 1) he comes in contact with the Lord the Spirit, 2) people around may observe him performing some paranormal acts, and 3) he stops being himself, e.g. he loses his pride, greediness, etc. and becomes calm, merciful, obedient to the Lord, etc.
iv. Unbending intent <–> praying unceasingly.
The point here is the same in all religions, in any kind of business, in any kind of human activity: if you want to obtain any result, you have to try hard, try your best, exert to the maximum. A disciple of sorcery learns to repeat any action persistently, applying his will to it. And once the unbending intent is worked out, it can be applied to anything.
The matters pertaining to the spiritual realm often seem so ridiculously simple our mind cannot receive them. The reason is that the mind realm obeys different law than the spiritual realm does. And this crumby mechanism—the leading part of the mind, doing the incessant chatter—will always resist receiving these simple principles which are going to dethrone it in the end.
This statement is pretty broad, but is true in both the biblical practice and the sorcery practice. It is hard for an average man to believe the Bible saying that the eternal salvation is gained with as little as one-time sincere calling on the name of Jesus (Rom. 10:13).
It is hard for an average man to believe Castaneda when he says, every person already has enough potential energy in his possession for about anything—any magical accomplishments, given that he does not squander it daily for self-pitying and babbling away in his mind, the energy will surely make itself felt! The "assemblage point"—the luminous center of awareness of such person who thrifts his energy begins to shift away, all by itself, from the day-to-day perception position fixed with all the mankind. That is, his perception starts to naturally spread to embrace the multitude of worlds.
One sorcery technique is just paying attention to your breathing. Try it. Just 10 minutes of this exercise will become a great accomplishment! (Same, if you're a Christian, praying for 10 minutes without a single pause would become a great accomplishment). At first, it will remind you the parable of a seeming simplicity of rewarding the wise man for his invention of chess. He "only" asked one grain of wheat on the first square of chessboard, plus two on the second, plus four on the third and so on. But when you lay hold of the key which is simply not to forget it, then the process will go on with positive feedback, it will zoom. (This is another distinctive feature of the spiritual realm—positive feedback prevails there, whereas negative feedback prevails in nature, best characterized by Le Chatellier principle that simply says "All Resists".) It was this principle—the principle of positive feedback,—that Jesus meant when he said, "For whoever has, it shall be given to him, and he will abound; but whoever does not have, even that which he has shall be taken away from him." (Matt. 13:12)
So the gate to the unknown is opened with a puff, in a sense.
v. The cohort of sorcerers <–> the Body of Christ.
There is also a corporate aspect in sorcery, although not nearly as strong as in Christianity. In the Bible, the Body of Christ is instrumental and indispensable for reaching the ultimate goal of the Christians. In sorcery, however, it may or may not be necessary. In Castaneda's books we see groups of sorcerers who helped each other energetically and then left this Earth all together in one energetic strike, which was their ultimate goal.
vi. The ultimate goal: to burn in the fire from within and become a pure conscious energetic form <–> to be glorified (raptured) by the Lord and receive the new glorious body.
After a life of struggle, a sorcerer can have his physical body lit up with awareness and change it into a body of energy. CC claims to have seen how the group of his teacher left our world in this manner. Then they became agile energetic creatures, very much like allies that they contact, with their capacities enormously higher than those of the limited physical body. This aspiration can be found in all religions of the world, including Christianity. Apostle Paul speaks about glorification of the human body of the overcoming Christians in the end of time. Also, in the Old Testament Enoch and Elijah were taken up in a similar manner. Today's Christians call it "rapture". Some Christian drivers have funny stickers on car bumpers in America: IN CASE OF RAPTURE, THIS CAR WILL BE UNMANNED. According to the NT, at the second coming of the Lord the chosen believers will receive the new body (obviously, energetic, not of gross matter) and be taken up to the Lord's throne.
i. Sorcerers may or may not admit the existence of God, but they don't care too much about it.
ii. Sorcerers never preach anything to anyone. If ordinary people ever want to build a bridge with the world of sorcery, they would have to do it (I'm not preaching, I'm practicing my English here ;-)
iii. Christians emphasize salvation of many (although there is a personal aspect of working out your own salvation), and the sorcerers emphasize personal "salvation" (although there is a minor aspect of helping your fellow sorcerers—I mentioned that).
And one more anecdote in the end.
The sunday school teacher asks, "Now, Vovochka, tell me frankly do you say prayers before eating?" "No sir,—Vovochka replies,—I don't have to. My mom is a good cook!"