Sunday, April 4, 2010

Further Remarks on the Question of a Core Discipline

As a writer, it is my responsibility to ensure that I am correctly apprehended and understood, even though verbal and written communication is an inexact science at best. What this means is that no matter what I say either in words or in print, my point may be interpreted in a manner that I didn’t intend. This can happen particularly if I am making a point in a passionate and emotional manner, where sometimes the passion and the emotion can actually skew what I am trying to communicate. If I make a bunch of points, and then at the end my speech or article, I emphatically say or write something in an emotionally powerful manner that could be interpreted in a completely different manner by my listeners or readers, then the entire message of the speech or article could be dramatically altered. Instead of thinking about and weighing all of the points made, one could easily dwell on that one statement instead.

We have all experienced being misinterpreted or misunderstood when we talk, even with those who know us well, so as a writer it’s not too surprising if something we write is misunderstood by those who know us only by reputation or occasional articles. Apparently this is what happened when I wrote my previous article on the nature of core disciplines. I was powerfully effected by a sentence that I had read in Jason Miller’s article “No Replacement for Meditation”, almost nearly at the end of his article. He had made a series of points that I found I agreed with and then he wrote the sentence, "I am quite serious when I state in my books that I would give up every scrap of arcana, every spell, every ritual, every energetic manipulation and astral venture for the practice of meditation." Well, this statement of his stuck in my mind and I felt that I had to disagree with it quite strongly, even though it was neither the message of his article or even the intent. It was just an emotional statement, but it made me think very deeply for hours about what the nature my core discipline was and how I would write a similar but different statement.

Jason is an accomplished magician and one that I both respect and admire. He is neither saying in his article that meditation is his core discipline nor that he would prefer to do meditation rather than anything else. He was making a point about how important meditation was to the practice of magick. However, his impassioned statement had quite an effect on my thinking, so I wrote a response that outlined what I think is my core discipline in the practice of magick. I unfortunately used Jason as a kind of “straw man” in my discussion, which may have given individuals the idea that Jason espouses meditation as his core discipline. That was not really my intent. Mr. Miller has written me and told me quite clearly that this was not the case, so I am writing this clarification. The article that I wrote is useful and highlights an important point, but it is a hypothetical point, since no one would ever reduce their magickal practice down to just one thing.

Having made this statement, however, it must also be said that magicians who perform meditation as their core discipline are neither incorrect or in error. It is, in fact, just another valid approach to working magick - one of many. I have met some individuals whose core discipline in their magickal practice is meditation, and they are just as accomplished and adept as I supposedly am. But a core discipline represents a magician’s direction and emphasis, nothing more. Since the source of my knowledge and practice of ritual magick comes from a deep involvement in witchcraft, then those practices have powerfully effected the way that I work magick. The core discipline in witchcraft (of the variety that I have practiced) is the assumption of the godhead, performed at esbats or sabbats. Other magicians who began their studies in the Golden Dawn, the O,T,O,, the A.A., Theosophy, Neopaganism or even Christianity, would no doubt have a different core discipline than mine. The main point is that they all work, and one is not greater than another. Yet they all lead to the same thing - union with the godhead, and then the subsequent actions of the manifest destiny of the will of that godhead.

One comment that was made about my previous article is that the quest for the union with the Deity is a goal and not a discipline. I would have to reply that it is both, since even obtaining union with the Godhead would not cause the practices of alignment, devotion and assumption to cease, they would still be practiced, and therefore, would represent a core discipline. A similar thing could be said if someone’s core discipline were meditation. Would one cease meditating if samadhi were obtained? Of course not - yogis who have obtained high levels of consciousness as part of their normal waking state continue all of their spiritual exercises and practices, as if samadhi had not yet occurred. This would also be true of one whose core discipline was Godhead assumption. Also, obtaining godhead union is not an end to the process of spiritual and magickal achievement. As I have stated previously, it is just the beginning of a whole new spiritual cycle.

So, I believe that I have set the matter straight about my previous article. The basic premise and the various discussion points are all valid and, I believe, important. It may even help others to determine what their core discipline is, helping them to focus their efforts and refine their discipline. If I have helped even a few to gain this new perspective, then my previous article has successfully accomplished its objective.

Frater Barrabbas

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the clarification.

    I actually would say that meditation is my core discipline, though certainly not my only one and definitely not everyones. I really don't think that anyone can come up with a core discipline for magic overall - it is just too big for that.