Dualism Redux

September 10, 2009 at 2:47 am (Media Divinia, my funny valentine, Personal Insight) ()

A little too personal an odyssey this evening (likely that was the point), and due to my personal problems lately, I found myself drifting into the Sophian meditations this evening.

I became very much aware of darkness versus light, the push-pull of the awareness of the light in myself and others, and when that light becomes dimmed, through my own actions or the actions of others. This wasn’t an insight about assigning blame, however, although I admit responsibility for spreading darkness instead of light, lately. This is not a problem to feel guilt over, or beat myself up over, it is a matter of acknowledging it and then taking steps to change it.

I’m not the type for sharp, sudden changes, but I have been making the effort. The meditations tonight were insightful, not in a pleasant way, but the light of Truth has an ultimate neutrality that only human nature assigns positive or negative values to. I could make it all about the negative, and how I’ve failed or been mistaken, or I can take the opportunity to use the realizations in a positive manner to effect change.

I prevaricate. Perhaps the insight I gained tonight is not an appropriate subject for a public blog post. Much more metaphorical than I have gotten, in a long, long while.

The first meditation was very much about Sophia-as-child, who wanders away, exploring and curious, but losing sight of the thread that leads her back to the Ultimate. A squalling, quarrelsome child, which I may have come across as, of late. Time to change that. Time to pick up the thread again, and listen to that still, small voice, before I say/type things without considering them more than I have been.

The second meditation, the blind god and the prison-house of the world, led my mind down a path of apocalyptic imagery, where I admit I haven’t gone in quite a long time. I have long since re-interpreted the apocalypticism of the Christian canonical scriptures however, and I know now, that the apocalypses (multiple!) that the gospel texts speak of, are individual, personal journeys, not speaking of a literal global eschaton. Usually that’s a sign I need to make changes, pronto, or that changes are coming for me. (Like it or lump it.)

The third meditation was very much about grasping the thread back to the ultimate, of seeing the reflection of perfect wisdom in everything, as a good panentheist properly should. I’m not a good panentheist even on my best days. Witnessing the reflection of the Ultimate in this poor simulacrum of reality is what can lead one back along the golden thread to the Truth. Good, bad, or indifferent though that truth might be.

The fourth meditation was reflective of how that ingrained wisdom, that I know is there, but often refuse to listen to (far more often than I should) is what ultimately leads us all back to the Truth with a capital T, that unvarnished view of reality shown to those of us who choose to open our eyes and see. I thought about the third meditation from the Thomasine meditations, of the lost sheep loved best, and there was even some ministry tangentially related to the parable, although not presented in an allegorical manner.

The fifth and sixth meditations were very much about motion and rest, and the push-pull of darkness and light that is the eternal human condition. The final meditation was very much about following the golden thread, back to the Ultimate, and dwelling in the Truth therein.

A productive half-hour, and instructive in that I realized I have to start a daily praxis again. For the moment at least.


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The prodigal Valentine tries again.

September 5, 2009 at 6:36 pm ("Like it says on the tin.", Media Divinia, my funny valentine, Prodigal Valentine) ()

Technological issues notwithstanding (I do not have the proper hardware to adequately run the world-simulator), I have found myself of late, attending the Second Life Meeting for Worship. It is by no means an adequate substitute for a face to face “real live” Quaker Meeting, as even the non-theist Friends agree.

Given the vagaries of geography and politics and religion, combined with how all three of those factors interact, it’s the closest I can come right now. It may provide only a dim light, casting shadows on a richer reality elsewhere, but it has given me at least a sense of what meeting face-to-face, just might be like.

Much harder work, for one thing. Sitting in meditative praxis in front of what is essentially a blank IRC chat window, is worlds and away easier than “sitting” via avatar, in a rich visual setting, with other representations of real people moving around in the environment around you. I never did have any success with the “blank your mind” meditative techniques, but I can see where being in an unfamiliar visual environment, can reinforce and even strengthen that type of praxis.

I am still using the gnostic guided meditation technique, however, although I have hit on the trick of focusing the meditations through the lends of the “centering thought” that is provided at the start of each Meeting. In today’s case, it was hospitality, along the lines of the quote (that I paraphrase badly) “go cheerfully throughout the world, seeing that of go[o]d in everyone you meet”, with several insightful queries appended.

Using the Thomasine meditations, I was struck again by how the allegories themselves, while they never change, consistently provide a shifting lens upon whatever topic I bring them to bear. Including this one. The first meditation, in all of the rosaries (indeed even the standard Roman Catholic, Buddhist and Anglican ones), are set to achieve what the Quakers refer to as “centering down”, and this I have found useful.

The second meditation, the woman with the jar of flour, was very much in line with the quote above, and I ruminated on that for some moments. Especially given that is one of my weak spots, and I more often leak darkness from the broken handle of the jar, than any kind of light. This journey is not about self-recrimination for me, however, it is merely about resolving to be more aware of my faults, before I actually engage in them.

The third meditation, the lost sheep, became more the idea of ‘bull in a china shop’ and how to meet those with whom we may not necessarily agree, or share the worldviews of. There was even some ministry regarding this, which was a pleasant coincidence.

During the fourth meditation, I became more aware of the idea that reality is entirely how I see it, and to change my reality, I need to change my perspective. The initial reaction by some to this might be “Do DRUGS!” but I’m taking a much less invasive (although no less neurochemical) approach to it, personally. I feel attuned to nature, ex., I could (and have done) sit and watch the spiders on my back porch busily spin their individual webs, and live their individual lives. Same with the blue jay that visits every year, or the ants busily making hills in the flower bed, or the moths that flicker around the lights at dusk.

My interactions with other people on the other hand, are not quite so fascinating. This is where I need to pull myself up, and it’s a key that I am only just realizing as I type it, it was not something that came up in MfW. In order for me to more easily interact with others, I have to see others (I may have to will myself to see it, but I certainly want to try) as unique, intricate, individual members of the animal kingdom, that every bug, spider, bird, and plant, that currently catches my attention is as well. Instead of automatically assuming the negative, I need to step back, and observe others as themselves. Good, bad, indifferent, I should find it all fascinating. Gaining insight into others might give me insight into myself.

It’s my crackpot theory, anyway, we’ll see how the testing phase of it goes.

The fifth meditation was very much about how little things often mean more (for good or for ill) to others, than do big, showy productions or trying too hard. I have always made at least a minimal effort to try and do little things for people, sometimes. This was also the point at which the allegory of the multiplied fishes and loaves (shared by both the christological figure and by Horus), kept popping up. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it at all, not even after I read the Johannine verses on it from the RSV.

I think the point was, at the end of the allegory, they sought the christological figure again, to punish him for being generous. In standard Christian fare, this is the source of the typical persecution complex. In allegorical terms, if you read the text from the beginning of the chapter, it indicates that the central character in the story planned the “miracle” all along. So it’s very much a satirical, cautionary tale; that if you go overboard, and do too much, out of a place of working great signs and wonders, you’ll definitely get taken down a peg for it!

Those are my initial thoughts about it. I do need to do some more research, however, and look into the original legend of Horus that the christological allegory was drawn from.

The sixth meditation was very much focused on seeing that of good in others, maybe beginning to see that of good in myself. Finally, the seventh meditation was, as it is in all of them, the concluding, ‘come back to reality’ type of wind-down that is its purpose. Come back to a more grounded, less anxiety-ridden reality, that is.

A lot of rambling thoughts, to try and describe 45min I still haven’t completely sorted through myself. But that’s exactly how it’s supposed to be.

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Pissing off the religious is my part-time hobby.

August 15, 2009 at 5:13 pm ("Like it says on the tin.", my funny valentine, Personal Insight, Praxis, Prodigal Valentine)

I have long been attracted to the idea of becoming a Non-Theist Friend.

To that end, I have begun participating more in the online Quaker world, most notably on the QuakerQuaker site, which says it’s one thing, and has proven to be quite another, indeed.

The site is most decidedly for Christians only, and the Quakers there (the real ones) have tried their utmost to make the Christians realize their intolerance, narrow-mindedness and general bigotry, is well, maybe, not OK. (I mentioned they’re Quakers, right?)

Recently, a Pagan Quaker decided to post a section on QuakerQuaker for Liberal Quakers. Liberal Quakers include non-Christians and non-theists, or sometimes they do, apparently. Yeah I know, it’s a Quaker thing. So I decided to participate, and posted the following videos:

Comedian Dave Allen’s Introduction to Christianity. I mentioned in the description the Christian canonical scriptures of a little child leading them, and out of the mouths of babes.

Atheist Peace, by Bad Religion. Titled “My Kind of Peace Testimony!”, with a description that read, “Atheist Peace a music video that lines up nicely with the Quaker Peace Testimony.” Which it does, if you watch the video. So I decided to log in this afternoon, to see what kind of discussion had been sparked. This is what I found when I tried to access the site:

I wasn’t even logged in, so it looks like I’ve been banned by my IP address. Classic. (What are you going to do when I connect to the Internet through a different wireless connection, Martin?)

Also! An update from the NTF list, another non-Christian Quaker has disassociated himself from the site.

Silly Christians. The inner light is for everyone, and in everyone. If you can’t see that, or live that, or feel that, well, you’re not living up to the Quaker Faith and Practices very well, are you? Then again, you’re not really Quakers, you’re just trying to take over Quakerism, and make it into something it’s not.

There’s a reason your Christian ancestors tortured, jailed, and excommunicated the early Quakers. Trying to usurp Quakerism from within, and make it orthodox again, is not going to go over very well with the rest of the Quakers who aren’t Christians, who don’t believe in the inerrancy of Romanized/Anglicized Christian canon, who don’t believe we are saved by believing a man lived and died in Jerusalem a long time ago (“he” didn’t, it was an allegory).

I’ll confess, when the religious Gnostics kicked me to the curb, I went through a “fuck ’em all” phase, but I decided to keep pursuing the non-theism among Quakers angle. This minor little incident has inspired the opposite reaction in me, and it has only cemented my feeling that I should pursue association with non-theist Friends, and/or Liberal Quakers.

My praxis has been non-existent lately. This, more than anything else, is an indication I need to resume. With or without a MfW surrounding it.

Edit #2:  The Pagan Quaker I mentioned above, has disassociated from the website.

Edit #3: As with my dismissal from the holy presence of the religious Gnostics, I was given neither warning nor explanation for my banning, nor even a cursory email explaining why I was banned. What is it about Christians and their complete and utter lack of basic netiquette, I wonder? Oh, that’s right, they’re “above the law”, I keep forgetting that…..

Edit #4: Apparently there have not been any other bannings. and thanks to the cursory nature of my banning, I have no idea whether it was the videos that pushed Martin Kelley over the edge, or my response to the Dialogue with Non-Christians thread. I’m a non-Christian, why should I get banned for responding to the ghetto thread created for us on QuakerQuaker? Oh, that’s right, it’s because it was a thread for the Christians to preach us into the “correct” way of thinking.

Well, that’s my last word on the matter. Time to be moving on.

Final, final edit: Looks like both of the above non-Christian Quakers have removed their blog posts that I linked to. Probably because I linked to them. 😦 Ah well. Final word on the matter. Better things to do, other people to interact with, I guess. 😦

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Small Things

June 14, 2009 at 8:58 pm (my funny valentine, Prodigal Valentine) ()

We must be conscious of small things, even those (seemingly) beyond our control. Those things that seem beyond control, are often not. We are not to control things, anyway, merely to observe. We are the universe watching itself, as it is, in all its forms and wonders.

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Meditations on the Reflection of Wisdom

May 23, 2009 at 11:55 am (my funny valentine, Personal Insight, Praxis, Prodigal Valentine) ()

In the Valentinian cosmogony, after the blind god Samael declares “I am the only god and there is no other beside me”, Wisdom leans down, into the world of forms, and the image of perfect wisdom, a shadow of the god-above-god, is reflected on the waters of the world.

In the Sethian cosmogony, it is Adama or the Anthropos (the androgynous perfect human) that looks down through “the harmony” and sees itself reflected back in the waters of the world.

In the Valentinian mythos, the act of Wisdom is a salvific one, showing the archons in thrall to the demiurge that there is a god beside the blind god that has spewed them out of his mouth. (I always get the image of the archons being created that way, with the wings of vultures and faces of lions; “in the image of” Yaldabaoth.)

In Sethian terms, the reflection of the Anthropos on the waters of the world is what causes the human soul to be trapped in the lower nature. It is a retelling of the Narcissus tale, particularly apropos for the Hellenized Judaism that the Sethians and Cainites sprang from.

We all have, within us, a spark that makes us human. Deific or otherwise. We all have that still, small voice inside, that we know we should listen to and too often we do not. Whether one identifies this voice of wisdom as the mariologized Sophianic figure of the religious Gnostics, the literalized christological figure of the fundamentalist Christians, or even Jiminy Cricket from Pinocchio, we all have that voice of wisdom within us, whatever it ultimately is.

In the end, it doesn’t matter at all what the voice of wisdom ultimately is. The question, do I listen to that still small voice, regardless of its source? If I do not, why not? Can I strike a reasonable balance between the perfect wisdom reflected in everyone, and try not to get trapped by a reflection of my own wisdom that is really only a shadow-self, that will lead me further into darkness, and away from the light?

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Praxis and the Valentine worships again

May 17, 2009 at 9:33 pm (my funny valentine, Personal Insight, Praxis, Prodigal Valentine, Un-Lectionary) (, , , )

OK. The rosary of the ascent was not much good to me yesterday, but I realized that was because I had done nothing productive all day. I didn’t do that much more productive today, but I at least ate a quick snack before getting into the swing of things WRT the group experience thing.

So I decided I would stick with the Sophian mythos that has been working for me, for the moment at least. Much better, at least this go-round, and I did not find myself quite so easily distracted.

I ate my snack through the first ten minutes of the service, but it’s not like it’s on webcam, so hey. Another advantage to the virtual meeting thing. Give me some credit though, I tried to approach it with a Gnostic bent, “envisioning the substance of the food and drink as light”. (Even though I disagree with the rest of the self-styled “Malachi’s” writings/teachings.)

So then I dropped fairly comfortably into praxis. They’re not kidding when they say protein is brain food, people. I have no idea why the image of Stella Maris kept popping up however. Maybe I wasn’t devoting enough attention to the meditations, and was focusing too much on the words of the decades? Or maybe it meant something else. Definitely wasn’t the Stella Maris Gnostic Church I was thinking about, although that’s more than likely where the imagery came from, as I have been exposed to that site in the past.

For those of you playing at home, Stella Maris to the Catholics, and to the Gnostics, are essentially sea-goddesses, or guardians/protectors of the sea. You will often find “Star of the Sea” appended to Stella Maris invocations, in both Catholic and Gnostic canon.

Prayer from Our Lady Star of the Sea Gnostic Chapel
“Holy Mother,
Rightful Queen of faithful souls,
Who never erred,
Who never lied,
Follower of the rightful course,
Who never doubted
lest we should accept death
in the realm of the wrong god;
as we do not belong to this realm
and this realm is not ours –
teach us Your gnosis
and to love what You love. “

Early morning church tomorrow. 😛 Ah well, at least it works with my schedule.

Oh, and for the record, as to why I was so puzzled the imagery kept popping up: I can’t even swim. 😯

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Praxis and the Valentine go to worship

May 15, 2009 at 9:22 pm (my funny valentine, Personal Insight, Praxis, Prodigal Valentine) ()

Going through the Sophian rosary today while peering through a glass dimly, I experienced slightly different images than I have had before, during the meditations. The last time this happened, I discerned it was more noise than signal, but I think a break away from this particular format has rendered the tone a little clearer, and this time the images were definitely more signal than noise. It could rightfully be called a “wisdom rosary”, at least this particular time through.

The meditation upon the reflection of perfect wisdom on the waters of the world took on far more Sethian overtones this time; in the Sethian mythological cosmogony, the anthropos staring at its own reflection, causes it to be incarnated into the human form; in the Valentinian mythologies, the reflection of wisdom on the waters of the world cause the archons to make a pale imitation, of the beauty and transcendence they have witnessed, loosing them from the shackles of the blind god Samael.

What sprang to mind for me was a combination; instead of the anthropos, it was Sophia, or Wisdom, that was trapped in the “prison house of the world” by staring at its own reflection. I don’t know if this is because I have been reading Poimandres lately, or if it is merely a random variation on the part of my neocortex to avoid boredom.

The meditation of the redemption of humanity through the breath of wisdom was very much similar to what I have always imagined, with the minor but significant difference that, instead of visualizing the breath of Sophia flowing into a single crude human form (the “soil-man” of the first book of the Judaic Pentateuch), I visualized that, and, the breath then flowed out to encompass everything else, in a very panentheistic way, illuminating everything with a hidden light. (Yeah, I know that makes no sense; but it’s my neocortex generating right-hemispheric non-language-dependent data, so deal.)

The sixth meditation, the descent of the spark from the eternal aeon, always did have (ancient, not modern) Pentecostal overtones for me, at least Pentecostal in the sense of the original narrative, not in the sense that modern mainstream Christianity has assigned to it today. (The speaking in tongues and dancing with snakes bit.) Today, the image seemed to be vested with more meaning or at least it felt more meaningful (could have been the environment, I suppose), and again, the visualization was extended to cover the whole earth, for which my brain decided oddly enough to assign the Genesis Effect from Star Trek: The Search for Spock. (I blame talking about the new movie endlessly for this.) Again, today, it was not limited to the “a house full of believers” as indicated in the original narrative, but to all conscious beings, regardless of belief. Again, very panentheistic.

Finally, the last, and most puzzling change, was to the meditation on the redemption of wisdom; instead of the ascent, today I visualized the ascent, as well as the Orthodox Gnosticism mythos of the Upper and Lower Sophias; i.e., wisdom split itself off, with one part ascending to the highest, and the other part remaining “behind”. I did not visualize this in terms of the lower wisdom being left behind to intercede for believers (as the Gnostics would have it), but rather that the lower wisdom was a facade, or a shell, a persona that only dimly reflected the actual wisdom that had ascended.

That last meditation leads me to ask, what does that mean for each individual? Do we all present a “lower wisdom” to the world, or a persona that is but a dim reflection of a purer wisdom within the neocortex that we cannot adequately express? How do I, individually, recognize that purer wisdom in others, regardless of the shell persona they present me with? Turning that into an introspective, how can I best present that purer wisdom (“Let me not be removed from Gnosis. Fill me with strength, and let me bring light.”) to others I interact with in the world of forms, instead of always presenting a lower wisdom, or a shell that may not adequately reflect reality?

Oh yes, one last thought, for my fellow atheists who may laugh and mock the usefulness of this type of praxis: Daydreams may solve complex problems. So, neener neener neener, and don’t start with me. 😉

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Praxis and the Ascent of the Seven Spheres

May 13, 2009 at 9:32 pm (my funny valentine, Praxis, Prodigal Valentine) (, , )

OK, so maybe they aren’t hell-pavers after all. I seem to be getting back into a useful mode of praxis, after letting it slip terribly. Continuing on with the rosary of the ascent I have been using has been helpful, although I did add the Sophian one once, for variety, and because I had time.

The rosary of the ascent is useful for me, I find, as a retrospective of my day, a contemplation on how I was affected by, or affected others with, machinations of evil, the guile of lust (which has nothing to do with sex, honest), unholy arrogance, unholy rashness and daring, the gaining of wealth through malicious means, and the malicious lie. (Leaving behind “the force to grow or decrease” is what gets me “in” to the contemplative space to begin with). If I can’t apply that particular sphere to my day, I try to determine how it applies to the past, either recent or distant.

Thusly, the sixth and the seventh have become, for me, about finally leaving the church (or, more accurately, leaving the leaving of the church) behind. I don’t know if it will be successful in the long run, but for the short term, it seems to be progressing well. WCG/GCI is epitomized by gaining wealth through malicious means, that of malicious lies. Finally leaving that behind, means completely leaving it behind, including the ex-member circles. From whom I have gained much, and hopefully at least a few friends. I intend try to move on, though, through the use of the imagery/meditations of the sixth and the seventh.

Participating in a post-post-modern cyberpunk version of the ritual Valentinian ecclesiastics, who were notable for attending religious services side-by-side with those who believed very differently from them, is proving to be interesting. No, not in the Chinese curse way. And it could hardly be said that I am “attending”, in the sense that the ecclesiastics in question know I’m there! (OK the admins must, at least from the IP logs, if nothing else.) And yes, there is an element of safety, in that I don’t have to directly interact with the others. Which is something to work on, or maybe an issue I will never be able to directly resolve. Meditations on the fourth and the fifth helps greatly with this, however, so we shall see.

I did look in, on their post-ecclesiastic social time once, and immediately regretted it. Not a mistake I will make again, or at least very soon, I think. Although I don’t know how much of that is me, and how much of that is needing to work more on the sixth and the seventh. The meetings are frequent enough that they coincide with my daily praxis, and even though my praxis is sometimes shorter or longer than the length of the meetings, that doesn’t impact me, as they are being hosted in a virtual setting anyway. So if I run over or under the allotted time, there is no one there to shoo me away, or to distract me. And while I found and find parts of the ritual to be distracting by its inherent nature, that is again where the meditations on the fourth and the fifth assist me tremendously.

I intend to try the Sophian rosary again at the next meeting. Since they are in a Christian context, as are the Sophianic mythologies, perhaps that will allow me to “connect” with the more off-putting parts of the ritual and some of its participants, better. Or at the very least, provide an illusion of same.

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Hell-Pavers, Inc.

April 12, 2009 at 4:19 am (my funny valentine)

Eavesdropping on the source of an earlier post recently, it has become glaringly obvious to me that the prayer “Lord, save me from your followers!” is perhaps the only religious ritual worth its salt (so to speak) when it comes to religion. Even loosely-organized religion.

That said, I fully admit that I have not been enjoying a very positive frame of mind towards religion, in recent days…….

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Prodigal Valentine

April 3, 2009 at 1:54 am (my funny valentine, Praxis) ()

For someone long-used to life in a black-and-white world, tonight may have been a good exercise in compromise. Albeit it is a bit of a false dichotomy; after all, I don’t think engaging in active praxis (going through a gnostic rosary) would go over quite so well in person, amongst a group that prides itself on non-ritualistic rituals. Hiding behind a wash of electrons, however, no one can judge others on how they meditate, or even know that they are meditating, or how.

Rituals still give me the heebie-jeebies, which is probably why I’ve never “engaged” in mine the same way twice. Mentally, yes, but physically? Never the same way twice. Men create gods, and I’m not about to set myself up with one that forces me into a “narrow path” where there’s only “one true way”. Been there, done that, really don’t need any more battle scars. Being in thrall to one Demiurge is enough for several lifetimes, thanks.

Still, my experience tonight was interesting, and instructive. Yes, it is a bit pick-and-choosy, but I am still an atheist. It is my own brain only that I am tailoring these practices for. There’s not a thing in the world wrong with that. The several layers of separation also lets me get away with being myself in a way that would otherwise egregiously offend, in person.

Will this be a viable post-modern Valentinian alternative? Or more self-inflicted archonic forces? Time will tell.

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