Need and desire can be spiritual

"When we think the solution to our unhappiness can be found in the external world, our desires can only be temporarily sated. Not understanding this, we are tossed this way and that by the winds of desire, ever restless and dissatisfied. We are governed by our karma and continually plant the seeds of future karmic harvest. Not only does this mode of action distract us from the spiritual path, but it also prevents us from finding satisfaction in our daily life" -- Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche I was thinking about what's written above the other day as I was walking around the Hawthorne district in Portland. I'd just come out of Powells (a bookstore) and I realized that while I'd enjoyed going into the store and looking at the books, I'd also felt a sense of dissatisfaction, a recognition that nothing I could purchase would be anything more than a distraction, an illusion. I might temporarily fulfill a desire and enjoy doing so, but I would still have to come face to face with the underlying reality that whatever I got was only a temporary distraction from that desire, and it would come back to remind me that it needed something more.

Since then I've also been thinking how much desire and attachment actually anchor a person into living life, providing the drive that people have to live, and I consequently wonder how much the valuing of the spirit over the material world is just another desire, another sign of dissatisfaction expressed in trying to find some spiritual answer that will take away any sense of need a person has.

Seems to me that need and desire are spiritual in and of themselves. Without the need or desire for something, would we strive so much for our goals, our projects, our ideals, etc.? When we determine that something is not spiritual, aren't we just creating the dualistic divisions that cause Karma? I find the subtle hierarchical beliefs about the spirit vs the material to be the most dangerous because in trying to divide everything up we also end up labeling it and using that labeling to create the dualistic tension described as karma.

If satisfaction is to be found, it must be found in our ability to make peace with our desires by accepting them as gateways to spiritual experiences that also allow us to perceive the material world as the manifestation of the spiritual. Instead of dividing, why not just experience it all?

What problems does magic solve?

What problems does Magic solve? I've been thinking about this question for a long time, though perhaps not with that wording. Only recently has that wording come to me, in large part because my experiences as a business and social media coach has helped me recognize that pretty much everything a person does is motivated by solving some kind of problem that the person has. And the major motivation for utilizing technology is also to use it to solve a problem. I count magic as a technology, and I recognize that I've used it numerous times to solve problems, whether its a short term problem or a long term problem. I've used magic reactively to handle situations, and I've also used it proactively to address issues.

So it seems like I already have the answer, but the reason I'm asking this question is because it's a big question to ask when you start looking at the process of magic and how it works. What will this particular magical process, act, working, spell, etc., solve and how will I know? So the emptiness working, as an example, solved a problem for me that involved coming to terms with emptiness and how I felt and expressed it to myself and others. And while I couldn't predict the outcome, I did know that I had a problem I wanted to solve and that motivated me to do a year long working with emptiness.

The process of doing that working was defined by recognizing what the problem was, and what would be solved by using that magical process to address the issue at hand. If I hadn't understood that there was a problem, I never would have even done that working. It wasn't until I recognized that there was a problem that I could recognize as well the value of the process I wanted to implement to solve that problem.

When you do a magical act or plan one, spend some thinking about what problem this act will solve. Define the problem, and then define the solution(s). What makes a magical act better than a mundane act in this case, or should they be combined? By addressing these questions and similar ones you may come up with, you will get a lot of value out of the magical work you do. Define your problem, so that you can then define your process.

Elemental Love Work Month Ten

I have two more months left to the elemental love working. It kind of amazes me that in such a short, but also long time, my yearlong working with babalon and the element of love will be receding into the background to make way for the next element to be worked with. This month has been interesting in Three different ways.

1. I recently had an opportunity to choose to be honest about a situation...and I chose honesty. I have to admit, making that choice is when it comes to personal matters is not very easy for me. I've sometimes lied or concealed things to my later detriment, because there's that distinct voice within which says, better to keep this from someone then let them find out and see the real you. The real detriment of lying isn't even the broken trust of the other person, though that is definitely detrimental. It is the punishment one puts him/herself under every time the truth could come up...because make no mistake a liar does punish him/herself because no matter how well hidden a truth one person always knows it and that's the liar.

For me, honesty in love has been one of the hardest lessons to learn. I can easily point to my past and say that it was because of my past, what I learned early on, which was that lying sometimes ensured I didn't get caught, didn't get grounded, didn't get told I was a disappointment, and most importantly I didn't get hurt if I lied good enough. If I lied and no one else knew, they might even accept it's not rational, and it may not make much sense, but it is a reaction that is writ deep within me, and so naturally is something that has come up time and again throughout these ten months, in various different forms and flavors. Coming to grips with the lie of lying, and really seeing how much the truth can set a person free is in someways the central theme of this year's lesson for me. And of course Babalon has been very insistent I learn this lesson, which completely makes sense, because she is a goddess of desire, and desire is only truely known when you can be true with yourself and others.

So earlier this month, an opportunity came up to be honest about some things and I decided to take it. It wasn't easy. There were a couple moments where I felt like it took everything I had to say a simple sentence. Yet the feeling afterwards, of relief, of release, of no longer keeping something in secret, of being able to really open was so empowering, so strong, so different from keeping something to myself. I felt liberated...and in one respect I felt as well that my word as a magician was strengthened. I believe both William G. Gray and Franz Bardon wrote something to the effect that the magician's power is only as strong as his word. The truth does set you free, from your fear, from your worry...but it takes a lot of work. I wish I could say that being honest is an easy thing for most areas of my life it is...but love is deep...there's deep wounds and letting them heal takes work, takes trust...I'm learning that trust, learning how to trust myself so I can trust others. Trust and love start from within. Before you can have trust or love with someone else you really have to trust yourself and love yourself. For me, the sign that I'm changing is that while I still struggle with myself sometimes to tell someone else how I feel or about something I did that I know wasn't good to do, 9 out 10 times I succeed in telling that someone...and that one time it doesn't occur right away, it does happen, if a bit later down the line. It's an accomplishment for me to be at this point of honesty with myself. And yes sometimes I still lie...but it's less and less.

2. In a conversation with a friend I was told I'm trying too hard...specially trying too hard to be his friend, which accounted for his tenseness around me. I really appreciated his honesty with me and ended up agreeing that was the case, so I relaxed and that friendship is getting better. But in thinking about his comment, I can say it's been true in other situations as well. I've caught myself a few times this month trying too hard when it came to other matters. So I'm learning to relax more...try less, do's interesting and it's given me a better look at some of the ol' thought stream in my head, and what it is I tell myself sometimes. Not sure where this will go beyond just trying less, and relaxing more in my relationships with others and myself.

3. finally read this in a book. Sex and love are two different needs. You might think this would be obvious, but I don't much focus in this culture on true love and what constitutes true love, including all the sex that is supposed to happen all the time. I'm not saying sex can't be something important to a relationship you have with someone, but sex and love aren't the same need. Sex can be an expression of love, but it can also be an expression of hate or lust, even sorrow (in one case I heard of). And sex is its own need, something which we need, but love is also its own need and again something we need. It's funny, but as I've done this love working and really faced what love seems to be for me, I've seen the difference in these needs more clearly. Yes I like both love and sex and want both in my life, but they are different. Sex doesn't always bring love with it and yes I've known this for a while, but reading that sex and love are different kinda hit me with a clue by four that helped me get this understanding in a different way that all my prior experiences never really showed me.

I won't say love is more valuable than sex or vise versa, but feeling that need for love is a different than needing sex and in retrospect sex definitely fills or hits a different area of the psyche than is much more subtle, less does something, but it also takes a lot more work than sex might.

So that's month ten for me...each month is really amazing...I've learned so much in each month, in each moment of vulnerability that working with this element has provided.

Deity, service, bargains, needs, etc.

A while back I posted a few posts about deity and service The first one is here.

The second one is here.

The third one is here.

As I woke this morning I thought back to a situation where I could have potentially dedicated myself to a deity. I'm glad I didn't, because the truth is I'd make a horrible dedicant to a deity. I'm very casual about my relationships with any deity. I put the occasional offering out, but when it comes down to it, for me any relationship I have with a deity is ultimately not about service to the deity or its various fellow worshippers or the tasks it wants me to do. For me it's about the bargain. It's what can I do for you that will get you to do something for me. Or it's about forging a relationship of mutual benefit and friendship.

The role of priest or priestess isn't a role that fits me. While I can respect that people are called to that role, I couldn't ever see myself serving a deity in that way. Likewise I find the concept of being a god-slave unworkable for myself. I recognize that it might fulfill the needs someone else has to be in that role, but for me, it could never work and there's a fairly simple reason for that.

I'm blasphemous. I'd always question and challenge the god. When I was a Christian, long ago, I was always dissatisfied with the idea that I had to submit to some nebulous force that had all the answers and was willing to let people suffer in order to prove themselves to it. The comic Preacher, to me, represents the most accurate depiction of the Christian god, a cruel tyrant who seeks to force others to love him because he is fundamentally unable to deal with his own sense of fear and he creates a permanent co-dependent relationship with humanity, in order to get them to love him, while also tormenting them. I could never understand why a god would want unquestioning obedience and so if I couldn't give that to the Christian god, why would I give it to another god?

The posts I wrote above reflect that as well as my own beliefs about the gods. I agree with the Buddhist conception of deities, which is that they are ultimately enslaved and attached to their own power and consequently can't operate outside of what they represent. They becomes filters and doorways to access deep concepts, but in doing that they are also can't evolve or become anything else...unless of course they have interaction with human beings. By being served by humans they get access to experiences they might not otherwise have. For example, Invoke a god and what you do is provide a gatway to yourself, access to your energy and experiences. Of course you get access to that deity's energy as well and that can be useful for some people, but there's always a price. I've seen that price paid and the effect it's had on the people paying it, and I'm not sure the price is worth any power received.

I prefer bargaining to service, because service is ultimately submission. There is no guarantee you will get anything for your service, but with a bargain there are set conditions. I wouldn't go so far as to say that I'm a friend to a deity or demon...some people have argued that they prefer to create relationships with such beings that are friendly, but there's a question they don't ask, which is whether or not the deity/demon even comprehends the concept of friendship, or if it does, have they considered that the deity/demon might have an entirely different concept of friendship than what you have? They might think of you as a cat or a dog for instance.

So I go with bargaining. If I want something and I find I can't accomplish it through my own resources I find a being who can accomplish it, and we talk. What does it want in return for accomplishing something specific for me? In Purson's case, he wants a dedication to him in my next book on space/tiem magic and his sigil on the cover of my solo occult books. Fair enough, I can do that. I'm happy to give him credit where credit is due.

In the last nine months I've been working with Babalon. In fact, the situation I was reflecting on today was a possible dedication to her. Working with her has been challenging. She definitely demands a lot when you work with her. Last October when she made it very apparent that I would be working with her for a year in my element of love balancing work, she told me it would get harder before it got easier and it did get harder before it got easier. Even now as this working is descending into the final three months there are definite challenges she has for me. I wouldn't have it any other way. She told me she'd be my guide for the year long love working, that she'd help me get balanced about love. And she is. At one point I did dedicate myself to her, but in a moment of clarity I realized I hadn't dedicated myself to her, for her sake or my own, but someone else's, and she agreed that such a dedication wasn't something that she wanted. She is still with me for the next three months, perhaps even beyond, guiding me in my journey about love...and her price for it is not service to her or tasks to be done, but rather simply to know that I will continue doing the work for the course of this year and beyond to keep myself balanced in love and to really understand how to manifest love for myself and to others. I can live with that...and it occurs to me that a deity with that understanding of me is a deity I can respect because that deity isn't necessarily out to have my service, but does want some kind of understanding to exist.

In fact, my experience with babalon shows me that experiences with deities are subjective and end up occurring at exactly the level that is needed for a person. While one person may very well need to be a god-slave to a god, another person may just need a guide for a year. And yes it does boil down to need. I think a very important question any person needs to ask about serving a deity is: What need within myself does this service fulfill? There is always a need being fulfilled. Certainly working with babalon is fulfilling some deep needs within myself...needs that are becoming balanced. Could I have fulfilled those needs without working with her? Perhaps, but I believe it would've taken a very long time, whereas working with Babalon brought the situation into detailed focus. And so perhaps those people that seem to pay a price in my eyes, aren't really paying that price. They serve the deity in the way they do, and yet they get a need fulfilled, a need which they may or may not be conscious of, but yet if that need went unfulfilled...I think it comes down to an essential issue of identity, which is how much a person's needs define the interactions and experiences a person has, and who/what those experiences occur with.

I watch Lupa and her growing relationship with the spirits. We are definitely going on some different spiritual paths. Yet I also see that her spirit work is definitely fulfilling needs within her. It's helping her refine her path, serve other people, etc., but it's also meeting some needs within her. She seems more balanced to me as a result of doing the spirit work she's doing.

As for service...I think my own service is not to a particular deity or whatever concept it represents. My service ultimately goes to the communities I am part of, the people I interact with, the choice to help someone find his/her potential and realize it. That is my service...not to any one being or belief, but rather to the realization that we are all connected and so if we can help each other grow and realize the effect we have on this planet, on the other life forms on this planet, and on each other, we can choose to make that effect be beneficial instead of detrimental.