Monday, December 14, 2009
Degrees and expectations
In his recent post, Frater R.O. made a post over here about degrees and whether people are actually attaining them or not. He points to two different links. The first is to a video by some crazy guy who is accusing the OTO of not producing any exempt adepts in 30 years, a term which is meaningless in the OTO as it is a AA degree, and is not what the OTO is about anyway. Still, I get the point. The second link is to a great post over at Here Be Dragons, which basically states that people are achieving the high degrees that many have always thought were extremely elite and rare or even unattainable by mortals. RO agrees in his post and suggests that the problem comes from false expectations of what those degrees mean.
It is true that people expect spiritually adept people (fill in terminology as fits your order or religion here) to have qualities that meet their expectations. R.O. gives the example of the K&C of HGA and how many treated this as a nearly unattainable thing and the entire goal in magic. The reality of course is that far from the goal of magic, it is a preliminary to doing serious magic in systems that recognize such a thing. In the AA system it would be attained at the level of Adeptus Minor. In the Chthonic Auranian Temple it is the work of those in the Lovers grade.
This type of projection occurs even more often, in the east, where the expectation is that the teacher be dead from the waist down and have no interest in "material matters" of sex or money for themselves. Strangely they are also expected to have access to perfect wisdom on such matters for others, even though they may have no experience at all. I can't tell you how many Monks get asked for advice on business and marriage - two things that, respectfully, they don't know jack about. In the case of non monastic Lamas and Guru's there are always gasps of shock and horror should they approach someone with romantic or sexual proposals.
There can also be magical expectations that out of line. Sometimes if you manage to do something for someone that they don't understand, like a very effective healing or spell, they cannot understand why you cannot cure their 85 year old Mothers cancer or save the job that they are getting fired from because of gross incompetence. Being able to do one thing magically, translates into the ability to anything with magic. Having any kind of spiritual realization at all, translates into being Jesus or Buddha.
On the other hand, there is a difference between tasting a certain level of realization and being able to stabilize it and integrate it into your living levels. If your degree that you claim has any value than it should reflect somewhere in your life. When someone who behaves with no compassion or seemingly any understanding tells me that they are a high adept I politely blow them off, because clearly that term means something to them that is different than what it means to me. If someone brags about what a powerful sorcerer they are, yet still lives in their parents' house and complains about not being able to get a date, I pretty well blow them off. If you can't kick your heroin addiction, I really don't want to hear about how you are a Master of the Temple and the Buddha Matreya.
I am not suggesting that magicians or spiritual masters need to be rich and flawless BTW. Many a great spiritual master lives below the poverty line and I know several successful magicians that really hve no interest in great wealth. The key is, are you living in accordance with your will or are you whining about how the world is always crapping on you?
There are different layers to any level of realization: faith (Pistis), direct knowledge (Gnosis), and being (Theosis). For instance we all have heard that ice is really water, thus we have faith in this. Those that have seen ice melt into water, and water freeze into ice have direct knowledge. Those that can melt ice at will or freeze water at will have being. Another example is knowing that Germany exists. Traveling to Germany for a visit. And finally moving there and getting citizenship.
In the case of the two most spoken about attainments of western magick I would break it up like the following.
In the case of the HGA, you have faith that such a thing is possible. You attain the knowlege and coveresation. Finally you integrate or unite with your angel. The Adeptus Minor has faith and sets out questing for the K&C of the HGA. The Adeptus Major has attained the K&C and sets out to do battle with the Qlippothic forces as would a knight or spiritual warrior as the Cicero's would say. The Adeptus Exemptus, begins to unite with his angel and thus retires from battle to prepare for the next stage acting as a king or "master Magician".
In the case of the Abyss, again you have faith that such a state exists. In the Golden Dawn this state and its grades are thought to be attainable only after death. In the AA they are thought to be attainable in the here and now. Still, the idea of the grade exists. Most of those claiming degrees like master of the Temple have only achieved the second stage: Gnosis. They have direct knowledge of the state. They have experienced it and left it behind upon returning below the abyss. In my opinion, the real work is to integrate that gnosis into your living levels of being. Otherwise you are just a day tripper.
In all these conversations about high states of being, I have used inexact metaphors. I just don't have any better ones at my disposal. For me, I have pretty much sworn off the idea of claiming grades and such. The times that I have sat in Rigpa, been in union with my angel, or basked in the uncreated light are still far outnumbered by the times that I have lost my patience in traffic, made a cruel comment to my wife, or ate something that I did'nt even really want just out of habit.