Wednesday, February 11, 2009

East is not Alien

In his post HERE. Frater RO writes:

"And every time someone from the West goes into the East, they are taking with them a cultural resonance that will have to be overcome to get the most out of the Eastern traditions. People like Jason can manage it to some degree, but even he returns to the traditions of the West. I propose that the systems of magic of the West are superior to the systems of the East for Western Magicians. We are extensions of the philosophies of our culture, and they are less alien to us, I think, than the Eastern concepts. I aim to prove it."

I have to reject this thesis. 

First of all I want to make something clear: when I took up the study of Tibetan Buddhism and Bon, I did not leave western magick. I shifted emphasis because it was where my HGA (and Papa Legba finny enough) told me to go. However, I did not leave anything behind. I still participated in the OTO, did western magickal workings, and all kinds of sorcery. 

Furthermore in 2001, I did not "return to the traditions of the west". Every single morning I wake up and do Padmasambhava Guru Yoga, followed by Red Jambhala mantras, and Osel Chenma Mantras and 20 minutes of Threkchod contemplation. Every afternoon I perform several semzins throughout the day and recite various mantras as I am inspired to do. I often have time to do another 20 minute session in the afternoon. Every evening I do a quick Anutara stype Kila practice followed by offering and prayer to Dharmapalas, followed by yet more meditation unless I have a big ritual to perform. 

Now, I will grant you that my focus has again widened so that I am no longer focused primarily on Buddhism and Bon. I will get into my reasons for that in a minute. I also will grant that the practices I do are very short, some taking only minutes to accomplish. I have no love or need of hours of recitation. Never did. Thats for monks. I am a Ngakpa. but I wanted to point out that there was never a leaving and returning from west to east to west for me. Just a several year period of focused study that was needed, not because of the alien-ness of Tibetan magick, but just because it is so complex and multi-faceted. I suppose the language is a barrier, but honestly, the cultural issues were nearly non-existant. 

Lets not forget that Time, as well as Distance has an effect on how alien a system may seem. To me modern Tibetan Buddhism is significantly less alien than Medeival european magick, and certainly less so than Egyptian and Greek magick from 2-4000 years ago. 

So, as I said, in 2001 I widened my focus to look at magick as a whole again, rather than be so focused on Tibetan magick, but my reasons hd nothing to do with it being alien

Reason number one is that while many people only want to take the medicine of dharma, I feel an urge to play doctor. Its difficult to do that it Tibetan Buddhism without spending way more time in retreat than I was willing to devote. There are also aspects of the Gure tradition that I am deeply uncomfortable with. You could argue that these are the very cultural differences RO is pointing to except that you encounter them inthe west as well. I might be a Catholic Priest except there are aspects of the religion that I have deep issues with. I might have stayed in the OTO system and worked my way to 9th degree, but instead I found a shortcut to the stuff I wanted to get, than ditched the rest. So its really not the cultural difference. 

My own magick today is no more "western" than it is "eastern". I have brought together methods from Tibetan Buddhism, Ceremonial Magick, Hermeticism, Hoodoo, Afro-Carribean magick, and most importantly my own direct ifluence, to create the Sorcery that I use and teach. 

My Spirit Feast ritual for instance, is being used by dozens of people in the west, and is in total accord with western magick, but is actually based on eastern rites. I use Tibetan methods of Blood Red Tormas to make offerings to spirits that would otherwise require blood, and I use Hoodoo powders and candles in conjunction with Tantric Sadhanas. One of my pet side projects with John Reynolds is a growing grimoire of Neo-Tantrc Hoodoo that blends African and Tibetan magick. It is not that I love blending systems for the sake of blending them: it is that through understanding the meta-magick behind it all - the quintessence of the art - you can do amazing things. 

Next post will be on Inominandum's advice for studying and applying magick from multiple systems without being a dilletant or disrespectful twit. 


Rufus Opus said...

FWIW, when I said "returned to the western blah blah" I didn't mean "abandoned the Eastern blah blah."

Dilettante Twittery is a time honored tradition you're going to be stepping on though. ;-)

Ben Kilpatrick said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jason Miller, said...


If you are talking about the Tibetan Hoodoo document than I am sorry. I am usually an open sieve of secret documents, but in this case I have to keep it under wraps. It is for the time being, only circulated amongst a small circle of people amongst another small circle of people.