Choosing a practice & a tradition...

Jesse Cooper Levy, modified 8 Years ago.

Choosing a practice & a tradition...

Posts: 68 Join Date: 2/4/12 Recent Posts
Hello all.

I am having some problems choosing a tradition to work within. I would like to speak a little bit about each door that has opened to me, and hopeful get some thoughts on what might be best.

I have been interested in the I.O.T. for a long long time, and have been doing some preliminary work to join them, but they are a magickal order and seem not to focus centrally on mystical attainment. The IOT does some pretty hardcore meditation practices as an introductory practice, but after that it's focus is not realization/enlightenment. I'm thinking I may have to sacrifice my interest in this order to pursue other traditions. If anyone has thoughts on the IOT, please let me know.

Secondly, is a study group related to the Kabbalist David Chaim Smith. David is retired as a teacher, and so his availability to give guidance is very unpredictable. He also comes from a tradition where your teacher fucks with you in some ways, so it's hard to tell why I might be left of something or not spoon fed solutions.

I'm absolutely crazy about David. He doesn't claimed to be realized, but claims that his teacher is. He studies under a Rinpoche, has had several teachers from different lineages, his main teacher being fully enlightened and a multiple lineage holder. He is the most devoted practitioner I've ever met and his practice inspires me. His work itself is confusing to me, because even though he talks about the pitfalls of reifying anything, his practice involves divine names, and other things that seem like reifications. He talks openly against the binary of god/atheism, and says that the reification of a god is still just another trap. So I'm confused.

Anyhow, my access to him was so-so. I was studying under his student (who does not inspire me, as she's been on retreat for like, a week. I know that that shouldn't be so important to me!), with the idea of having direct access to David's insight being temporarily postponed). So I was slacking on the practice, and they asked me to leave. They also told me that I would never be allowed to pass on to the Rinpoche and take retreat within the tradition. Then I was told that I could come back if I ever thought I was ready.

Why was I slacking? Aside from lack of resolve towards path, it was lack of resolve towards a tradition. The idea of doing IOT practice was in my way. So was the idea of working within the DhO community.

I have a friend within this community who claims to have attained about 2nd path (last time we spoke). We get along well, he's dedicated, can give clear instructions but doesn't pose authority. He encourages the use of this site as much as his own guidance. He's good people.

So I'm at a loss for where to go. If anyone has any thoughts, please feel free to comment. Thank you.

PS: Here's David being david, if it helps. http://occultofpersonality.net/beyond-conventionality-with-david-chaim-smith/
It's dated.

Thank you all so freaking much!
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fivebells ., modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Choosing a practice & a tradition...

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What's IOT?
Jesse Cooper Levy, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Choosing a practice & a tradition...

Posts: 68 Join Date: 2/4/12 Recent Posts
Sorry for being obscure. IOT is the Illuminates of Thanateros. They train their neophytes in non-noting concentration with many objects, like sound, images. But after that it seems like they have a way of problematizing and belittling efforts towards attainment. I'll need to read their text Liber Null again to be sure of that.

In a sense it feels like giving up the IOT is the biggest thing I can sacrifice, because it would mean giving up the magick that i could be doing towards oh so many aspects of "my" "life". It's a composite of all my desires and wants. I'm fine sacrificing this if it helps, though i'm weary of being overly pious in giving things up. The way I phrased it to myself last night was "anything you wanna throw in the fire...you won't miss it." Or maybe you will, but that's not what matters.
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Ian And, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Choosing a practice & a tradition...

Posts: 784 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Jesse Cooper Levy:

I am having some problems choosing a tradition to work within. I would like to speak a little bit about each door that has opened to me, and hopeful get some thoughts on what might be best.

I have been interested in the I.O.T. for a long long time, and have been doing some preliminary work to join them, but they are a magickal order and seem not to focus centrally on mystical attainment. The IOT does some pretty hardcore meditation practices as an introductory practice, but after that it's focus is not realization/enlightenment. I'm thinking I may have to sacrifice my interest in this order to pursue other traditions. If anyone has thoughts on the IOT, please let me know.

Hmmmm. You must be young and impressionable. Not a good mix for pursuit of the Dhamma.

Jesse Cooper Levy:

Secondly, is a study group related to the Kabbalist David Chaim Smith. David is retired as a teacher, and so his availability to give guidance is very unpredictable. He also comes from a tradition where your teacher fucks with you in some ways, so it's hard to tell why I might be left of something or not spoon fed solutions.

I'm absolutely crazy about David. He doesn't claimed to be realized, but claims that his teacher is. He studies under a Rinpoche, has had several teachers from different lineages, his main teacher being fully enlightened and a multiple lineage holder. He is the most devoted practitioner I've ever met and his practice inspires me. His work itself is confusing to me, because even though he talks about the pitfalls of reifying anything, his practice involves divine names, and other things that seem like reifications. He talks openly against the binary of god/atheism, and says that the reification of a god is still just another trap. So I'm confused.

I'm wondering if you are listening to (and taking heed of) your own words. ("His work is confusing to me. . . .So, I'm confused.") Anyone who seeks to confuse you, seeks to control what you think. Do you not see that? Or is your mind so impressionable that it disregards the obvious?

If you really have an interest in pursuing a path that seeks only to help you end unnecessary suffering in this lifetime, read the following – The Kalama Sutta – and take some time to sit and contemplate (and I mean really get serious about this) this sutta. If you were to run into the man who spoke these words, presenting these ideas, would you be inclined to want to learn more? Or no?

If not, then Gotama's words and teachings are probably NOT for you! And you should seek instruction elsewhere.

Jesse Cooper Levy:

I have a friend within this [DhO] community who claims to have attained about 2nd path (last time we spoke). We get along well, he's dedicated, can give clear instructions but doesn't pose authority. He encourages the use of this site as much as his own guidance. He's good people.

So I'm at a loss for where to go.

If you're this confused, perhaps you should just give up and forget about it for the time being. Don't you think?

People who are faced with the truth and yet prefer to ignore it are usually destined to experience pain in their future. Perhaps that's what needs to happen to you in order to clear your mind (so that you can see what you need to do). Only you can answer that question.
Jesse Cooper Levy, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Choosing a practice & a tradition...

Posts: 68 Join Date: 2/4/12 Recent Posts
To clarify, David doesn't fuck with me any more or less than @Ian And just did.

It's funny, because I've had occasions where I've walked and talked with David for hours on end, then periods of no interaction. Can't tell if he's testing me or is so consumed in his practice he isn't responding. It's unpredictable, but it isn't cruel.

His work is also confusing because, like, it's kabbalah. It is clear, however, that it's heavily focused on realization.


As for the I.O.T., I haven't heard a defense of their practices, just an attack on my disregard for them. I'm not simply condemning magick, but a focus on magick for it's own sake rather than towards mystical ends. They seem like a shit ton of fun, but as MtCT says, we only have so much "time".


The truth of it is that I would need to practice breath concentration till April if I was attempting to rejoin with the IOT. Is this negligent of my place on path?

My guess is that I'm somewhere past the A & P, in the dark night. Not crazy anxious to get out, but anxious to begin working well with a practice or tradition, rather than the muddy, mambi-pambi practice I've got going on now.
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fivebells ., modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Choosing a practice & a tradition...

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Ian And wasn't fucking with you. That was a straightforward and compassionate response.
Jesse Cooper Levy, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Choosing a practice & a tradition...

Posts: 68 Join Date: 2/4/12 Recent Posts
So are Davids. I'm sorry if I wasn't receptive to it.

I don't mean that "fucking with me" is a bad thing.
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Ian And, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Choosing a practice & a tradition...

Posts: 784 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Jesse Cooper Levy:

It's funny, because I've had occasions where I've walked and talked with David for hours on end, then periods of no interaction. Can't tell if he's testing me or is so consumed in his practice he isn't responding. It's unpredictable, but it isn't cruel.

His work is also confusing because, like, it's kabbalah. It is clear, however, that it's heavily focused on realization.

My first spiritual "teacher" was an Old-Catholic priest (Latin rite), a few years older than I, who was clairvoyant and a metaphysician (and your relationship with David sounds very similar to the one I had with my "teacher"). It took me a few years to get over him, but get over him I finally did. He seemed sincere and honest all the way up until the end when I began to see him for what he truly was.

Sometimes experience is a better teacher than so-called "spiritual traditions," as it helps to clear the mind with actual first hand experience about what is important and what is not. You can tend to learn quicker when placed in the middle of a fire than when you just sit observing from the sidelines.

If you're still enthralled with this man, keep seeing him and watch where he takes you. You'll be in for a journey, to be sure. Maybe it's what you need; I don't know. I don't know you or your situation based on one forum post.

What I do know is that, based on my experience with the "teacher" I had, he did, when I was able to look back on the experience with equanimity, teach me things that I needed to learn at the time, even though some of the lessons were painful. But I also learned that the experience need not have been so painful if he had just been truthful and honest with me (which he wasn't always).

I don't recommend that people learn in this way, but some of us are just stubborn and won't have it any other way! Not until we get the s**t kicked out of us will we come to our senses about what is happening. It can all seem perfectly justified as we are undergoing the process (meaning that we can justify it in our own minds because it seems we are making some kind of progress toward our personal goal).

But, when we stop to step back and take a cold, hard look at what has happened, another picture begins to unfold, and if we are honest with ourselves and what we have done and our intentions and such, we begin to see that some of this s**t need not have occurred! We might also begin to see that the person we were so impressed by in the beginning, is blind to his own shortcomings, and is passing along to us these same shortcomings! At least that's what occurred in my case, and why I ended up leaving this man's presence and seeking someone with more integrity.

I found that someone in the recorded discourses of Gotama and in his practice of the Noble Eightfold Path.

Have you read the Kalama Sutta yet? If so, what were your impressions?

Jesse Cooper Levy:

My guess is that I'm somewhere past the A & P, in the dark night. Not crazy anxious to get out, but anxious to begin working well with a practice or tradition, rather than the muddy, nambi-pambi practice I've got going on now.

This is something your own personal kamma (karma) will eventually sort out. Either you'll continue in the direction you are traveling, or you'll get tired of it and try something new that you have come to have faith in. Either way, you're in for a journey.
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Blue ., modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Choosing a practice & a tradition...

Posts: 267 Join Date: 7/14/11 Recent Posts
I'm absolutely crazy about David. He doesn't claimed to be realized, but claims that his teacher is. He studies under a Rinpoche, has had several teachers from different lineages, his main teacher being fully enlightened and a multiple lineage holder. He is the most devoted practitioner I've ever met and his practice inspires me. His work itself is confusing to me, because even though he talks about the pitfalls of reifying anything, his practice involves divine names, and other things that seem like reifications. He talks openly against the binary of god/atheism, and says that the reification of a god is still just another trap. So I'm confused.


No emoticon Don't be crazy about anyone. You don't need a teacher AT ALL. There is nothing special you need to learn. Everything will come out of the meditation. Just stick to it like a life-preserver.

Now go pick one of the main-stream techniques that this community has found tried and TRUE. Either Mahasi-style noting or Goenka's body sensation meditation. I have attained the paths with Goenka's technique and other's have have done the same with Mahasi's. Do a retreat with one of these lineages and learn the technique properly.

dhamma.org = Goenka retreat.

I do not know the link for Mahasi retreats.

Now sit a retreat and report back! emoticon
Jesse Cooper Levy, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Choosing a practice & a tradition...

Posts: 68 Join Date: 2/4/12 Recent Posts
@ Blue .

Thank you. I've taken one goenka retreat where I practiced his technique to the best of my ability, and a second where I practiced noting.

I think you are right about the priority of practice. I'll be starting a Practice Log here hopefully today so I can work out the details of my practice.

@ Ian And,

Thank you. I think I'm getting some things out of the Kalama sutta. The trouble is that, through my own reasoning (which might qualify as "surmise", I find a lot of magickal work to be based on conventional conceptualization, craving and aversion, and to an extent these things seem blamable to me.

Put more practically, I would need to stick with certain meditative work for another 6 months or a year if I where to attempt to join this order (the IOT). Most of their suggested work is breath control, then sound. I'm concerned that staying within their suggested work will mean that I am only able to be so receptive to advice that I may receive in a practice log. In other words, I'm anticipating needing to choose between advice that I receive and the practice as it stands in the text Liber MMM.

I've worked through this text before and have run into these sorts of issues. This is part of the reason why I begun a larger conversation about choosing a path, if only temporarily.
Jesse Cooper Levy, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Choosing a practice & a tradition...

Posts: 68 Join Date: 2/4/12 Recent Posts
@ Ian And,

Can you point out what in particular seemed "impressionable" about my logic? I'm having trouble extracting the point you were making there. Thank you!
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Ian And, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Choosing a practice & a tradition...

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Jesse Cooper Levy:

Can you point out what in particular seemed "impressionable" about my logic? I'm having trouble extracting the point you were making there.

I may have misread your statement. In re-reading it, I see that you are not particularly fond of the fact that the I.O.T. does not focus on realization. That is a good and credible observation to have made.

Although you seem to voice an interest in "mystical attainment". . . whatever that signifies in your mind. It is mysticism the practice of which Gotama was endeavoring to rid himself and his teaching, that fact being a prime motivation for my taking up a study of the Dhamma (having lived with a mystical metaphysician for several years and taken on the unnecessary scars from that experience). I was once young and impressionable myself, a quality that I reluctantly and slowing outgrew as my experience and views in the Dhamma matured.

Jesse Cooper Levy:
I think I'm getting some things out of the Kalama sutta. The trouble is that, through my own reasoning (which might qualify as "surmise", I find a lot of magickal work to be based on conventional conceptualization, craving and aversion, and to an extent these things seem blamable to me.

This is good. Good observation!

Jesse Cooper Levy:
Put more practically, I would need to stick with certain meditative work for another 6 months or a year if I where to attempt to join this order (the IOT). Most of their suggested work is breath control, then sound. I'm concerned that staying within their suggested work will mean that I am only able to be so receptive to advice that I may receive in a practice log. In other words, I'm anticipating needing to choose between advice that I receive and the practice as it stands in the text Liber MMM.

I don't follow the gist of what you are attempting to communicate here. This is unclear as to what it signifies. It needs more detail before anyone can respond.

For example: "...that I am only able to be so receptive to advice that I may receive in a practice log." Give an example of what you are talking about here. Without something concrete to reference, this is a meaningless statement. What "advice" are you talking about, coming from whom, and what "practice log"?

If you are speaking about the differences between Dhamma practice and the practice of this group I.O.T, then this may explain the statements. Obviously, these two systems seem to have differing goals. And if this is the basis for your questioning, then you will need to come to some sort of decision about which direction you wish to go.

Such statements betray doubt about each system that seems to inhabit your mind. You will need to clear up that doubt first before you can come to an agreeable conclusion.
Jesse Cooper Levy, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Choosing a practice & a tradition...

Posts: 68 Join Date: 2/4/12 Recent Posts
Thanks again, and sorry for the late reply.

I don't realize how my personal the terms I use are. I use Mysticism as a term that implies pursuit of Dhamma while Magick operates on relative truths, and supposed "meanings".

The conflicts that I mentioned are related to the ways in which the breath control exercises strict nature does not allow me to switch techniques when it seems that it would suit my practice. I'm feeling sick of postponing my progress on path, so I've decided to adjust this practice as I see fit. Fuck em if they can't take a joke.

The practice log I mentioned is here. Trying my best to work these out in practice.