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Why would you want to practice magick when you can just do vipassana?

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Why would you want to practice magick when you can just do vipassana? Fitter Stoke 12/14/12 12:13 PM
RE: Why would you want to practice magick when you can just do vipassana? Jane Laurel Carrington 12/14/12 12:16 PM
RE: Why would you want to practice magick when you can just do vipassana? Fitter Stoke 12/14/12 12:34 PM
RE: Why would you want to practice magick when you can just do vipassana? Adam . . 12/14/12 1:14 PM
RE: Why would you want to practice magick when you can just do vipassana? Fitter Stoke 12/14/12 12:42 PM
RE: Why would you want to practice magick when you can just do vipassana? Some Guy 12/14/12 1:23 PM
RE: Why would you want to practice magick when you can just do vipassana? Fitter Stoke 12/14/12 1:43 PM
RE: Why would you want to practice magick when you can just do vipassana? Ona Kiser 12/14/12 1:49 PM
RE: Why would you want to practice magick when you can just do vipassana? Fitter Stoke 12/14/12 2:31 PM
RE: Why would you want to practice magick when you can just do vipassana? Ona Kiser 12/14/12 3:32 PM
RE: Why would you want to practice magick when you can just do vipassana? Fitter Stoke 12/14/12 5:42 PM
RE: Why would you want to practice magick when you can just do vipassana? Ona Kiser 12/15/12 2:59 AM
RE: Why would you want to practice magick when you can just do vipassana? Fitter Stoke 12/17/12 8:00 AM
RE: Why would you want to practice magick when you can just do vipassana? Ona Kiser 12/17/12 12:05 PM
RE: Why would you want to practice magick when you can just do vipassana? Ona Kiser 12/17/12 4:09 PM
RE: Why would you want to practice magick when you can just do vipassana? Fitter Stoke 12/18/12 8:46 AM
RE: Why would you want to practice magick when you can just do vipassana? Jasmine Marie Engler 12/19/12 10:11 AM
RE: Why would you want to practice magick when you can just do vipassana? Fitter Stoke 12/19/12 10:30 AM
RE: Why would you want to practice magick when you can just do vipassana? (D Z) Dhru Val 12/15/12 2:59 AM
RE: Why would you want to practice magick when you can just do vipassana? Florian 12/18/12 3:25 AM
RE: Why would you want to practice magick when you can just do vipassana? Fitter Stoke 12/18/12 8:33 AM
RE: Why would you want to practice magick when you can just do vipassana? Florian 12/18/12 8:52 AM
RE: Why would you want to practice magick when you can just do vipassana? R. Gabriel Hill 12/20/12 1:06 AM
RE: Why would you want to practice magick when you can just do vipassana? The Xzanth 12/31/12 7:34 PM
RE: Why would you want to practice magick when you can just do vipassana? Dannon F 1/9/13 6:55 PM
RE: Why would you want to practice magick when you can just do vipassana? Dannon F 1/9/13 7:03 PM
RE: Why would you want to practice magick when you can just do vipassana? Daniel M. Ingram 1/11/13 7:03 AM
RE: Why would you want to practice magick when you can just do vipassana? Fitter Stoke 1/11/13 8:31 AM
RE: Why would you want to practice magick when you can just do vipassana? Dannon F 1/11/13 4:37 PM
RE: Why would you want to practice magick when you can just do vipassana? Pål 6/6/15 3:56 AM
RE: Why would you want to practice magick when you can just do vipassana? Pål 6/6/15 8:06 AM
RE: Why would you want to practice magick when you can just do vipassana? Pål 6/6/15 4:29 PM
RE: Why would you want to practice magick when you can just do vipassana? Daniel M. Ingram 6/6/15 12:20 PM
RE: Why would you want to practice magick when you can just do vipassana? Pål 6/6/15 4:10 PM
I just finished reading Three Steps to Heaven: how to practice magick by Alan Chapman. While I find much of what he says in there interesting, especially the map he provides for the core practice of magick and crossing the abyss, the question that continually arose in my mind while reading it was, "Why would you go through all these ritualistic practices when you can just note your way through the thing?"

Anticipating my question, he says this in the last section:

You might be wondering why, if you can achieve the Great Work or enlightenment through other much simpler, less poetic systems of attainment, such as vipassana or Zen, you might want to consider attempting the Great Work the magical way. The answer is simple: the Holy Guardian Angel is the fastest, most efficient means of metaphysical development I have ever come across. Working with the angel means progress is no longer a question of conscious deliberation, and the angel is in the position
of knowing your self better than you do. Who better then than the angel in providing instruction?


Really? This is the fastest way to do it? This just seems wrong. Insight is the practice that gets you enlightenment. Why bother with sigil magick, banishing, Qabbalah, and the rest, if insight is what does the work of awakening? Is there any evidence that these other practices even support insight? If so, how?

Browsing the curriculum suggested over at A Little Death, I was left with the same impression. Four-to-six weeks of trance, then banishing, then sigil magick -- all before you begin working with the Holy Guardian Angel (which, correct me if I'm wrong, is the equivalent in this system of Progress of Insight)? You could hit the A&P with dedicated insight practice in half that time.

When I began hardcore insight practice, I incorporated ritualistic elements into it. My reasons for this were complicated, but looking back on it, one of the main reasons was that it made the practice more colorful. Dry insight practice is dry. Adding ritual to it made it more fun.

But this was all before I hit the A&P. Once I hit the A&P, I dropped the ritualistic elements. There were two reasons for this:

  1. The A&P made everything I had been doing up until that point seem like child's play. Here was a whole new dimension of reality which made everything outside of it seem like a joke. (Typical A&P exuberance, I know.) But it served the purpose of locking me into insight practice in a wholehearted way, because I knew the practice delivered as promised.
  2. I was so fucking scared of the dark night, I didn't want to do anything that would distract me from clearing it as quickly and efficiently as possible. I literally noted like my hair was on fire, and I wouldn't entertain anything else.


And I fucking booked through the first path. I got stream-entry about three months after I first came across MCTB. Could it have been done faster than that in another tradition, one that wasn't so stripped-down to essentials?

Since that time, I occasionally get into lulls with my practice, where it doesn't feel colorful enough anymore, and I wonder if people in traditions with rituals are having more fun than me. I'm looking over the fence watching the Vajrayana kids play (which is a little pervy, I know), or I read this book about magick and dream of having my very own Guardian Angel. But then eventually I hit some new level with insight, a bunch of new territory is decoded, and I'm forgetting about any of that other stuff, because my practice kicks more ass than anything.

And it's not like speed is the essential thing. I get that. What difference would it have made if it took me 4, 5, or 6 months to get stream-entry? Not a lot. I'm just thinking, though: if the point of all this (and by "this" I mean spiritual practice) is to "get" ultimate reality, why bother with anything other than the most essential technology? Why bother with things that are just going to distract you from the ultimate goal?

Disclaimer: And I hope it goes without saying that I'm not dissing anyone's practice or tradition. On the contrary, I admire these traditions, because they do seem to offer something lacking in the dry, technical approach I take. However, I'm dubious of the claim that this is the "fastest" way to do this. And I am very curious to hear from people who do have a more ritualistic practice (be it magick, Vajrayana, or whatever) to understand what you perceive is the draw.

RE: Why would you want to practice magick when you can just do vipassana?
Answer
12/14/12 12:16 PM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
So if you've concluded vipassana is "it", what's with all the AF flirtation? emoticon

RE: Why would you want to practice magick when you can just do vipassana?
Answer
12/14/12 12:34 PM as a reply to Jane Laurel Carrington.
Jane Laurel Carrington:
So if you've concluded vipassana is "it", what's with all the AF flirtation? emoticon


O! SICK BURN!

RE: Why would you want to practice magick when you can just do vipassana?
Answer
12/14/12 12:42 PM as a reply to Jane Laurel Carrington.
Jane Laurel Carrington:
So if you've concluded vipassana is "it", what's with all the AF flirtation? emoticon


Okay, more serious response. I'm not claiming vipassana is "it". It just seems to me that more ritualistic approaches (or at least approaches involving divination, vision, astral projection, and the like) are less efficient for getting enlightenment than non-ritualistic ones. Since AF doesn't contain any of these ritualistic elements, it's somewhat beside the point.

As for the "flirtation", I became interested in the PCE, and by extension AF, because I got interested in direct path practices in general (including Dzogchen and Dzogchen-like methods, which have also made it into my practice lately), and because once I learned what the PCE was, and that I had experienced it in the past, and that there was perhaps a way to duplicate that experience, I decided to pursue it a bit, because the PCE rocks. But I would say that the direct path approaches (AF included) are even more stripped down, even more bare-bones than vipassana, since they require you to just do it, do not pass GO, do not collect $200.

RE: Why would you want to practice magick when you can just do vipassana?
Answer
12/14/12 1:14 PM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
Fitter Stoke:
Jane Laurel Carrington:
So if you've concluded vipassana is "it", what's with all the AF flirtation? emoticon


O! SICK BURN!

Lol

RE: Why would you want to practice magick when you can just do vipassana?
Answer
12/14/12 1:23 PM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
I'm not a practitioner of magick, but friends have dabbled and I've attended some group rituals. It seems to me that the effects are quite different (although if Chapman and others say the ultimate goal is the same, I don't doubt that). The effects I've seen include induction of specific mental states (such as resolution, courage, joy, ecstacy...) drastically increased creative output (and sometimes better quality of output), ramped up perception/generation of synchronicity, shared dreams and other psychic stuff....

Also, all that symbolism comes with a system of meaning and there are psychological and social benefits to that. Most of us here usually enjoy being free of a codified system of meaning. That has benefits and drawbacks too. For example, although I'm more content and less reactive since practicing Vipassana, I don't feel I have any more practical wisdom for making choices or dealing with difficulties. Sometimes, I feel like an equanimous idiot. Maybe if I had internalized Egyptian mythology and chaos theory, it would be different. I dunno.

I know even less about Vajrayana, but I'm interested in it for the same reasons that magick can be interesting which is that it offers more tools for bringing your practice to bear on your life. I never really believed Dr. Ingram when he said enlightenment didn't make him better at his job or anything else, but I'm starting to believe it. That is pretty disappointing actually.

Another alternative occurs to me that has this element of integration with life, and that is martial arts. It is possible to get enlightened, I believe, while getting stronger, faster, more fluid, more alive, and healthier. That's cool!

But I agree with you that noting is faster. This is the only community I know of where real attainment is the rule and not the exception. That is the spiritual bottom line. And, like you, I'm too lazy to do all that complicated stuff. I'm happy to get enlightened first, and develop other talents later.

RE: Why would you want to practice magick when you can just do vipassana?
Answer
12/14/12 1:43 PM as a reply to Some Guy.
Jason B:
I know even less about Vajrayana, but I'm interested in it for the same reasons that magick can be interesting which is that it offers more tools for bringing your practice to bear on your life. I never really believed Dr. Ingram when he said enlightenment didn't make him better at his job or anything else, but I'm starting to believe it. That is pretty disappointing actually


My guess is that many of the claims in the Theravada tradition about what enlightenment is supposed to do for you (ten fetters and other stuff) has to do with the context in which it was performed. Perhaps doing the practice in a monastic setting, with many years of prior sila training, brings about different results than not doing it that way.

And perhaps getting enlightened in a more spiritual, more ritiualistic context makes the experience and the effect different? I don't know. I doubt it makes it faster, though - assuming by "it" we mean the same thing now.

RE: Why would you want to practice magick when you can just do vipassana?
Answer
12/14/12 1:49 PM as a reply to Some Guy.
I can only answer for myself, but for me the practices I have done were simply what appealed to me. We don't all adore rap music or Bach. Some people like to cook elaborate meals, others prefer a frozen pizza. Some never change out of pajamas, others go gothy, others prefer a dress shirt and khakis. So I am grateful that I stumbled on a practice which inspired me to throw myself into meditation (and the associated ritual practices I did) like my hair was on fire.

When I first stumbled on MCTB (via a Buddhist Geeks podcast), I thought "really? waking up is something regular people can do?" It had never occurred to me. I had been meditating for a few months to try to be less anxious after suffering a bunch of deaths and accidents among friends and family that left me shattered. Not long after discovering MCTB, I discovered Alan Chapman (also via BG) and a spark lit up - THAT was my practice. I started reading some of his and Duncan's stuff and reading DhO (back when those guys were participating) and after things turned strange in my meditation practice I called Alan and asked him to teach me.

I personally still find the dry vipassana thing not to my taste. It obviously is the perfect fit for many (especially many people on this forum!) and that's fabulous. As to "fastest" - I honestly think there are more factors at work than just what kind of practice one does. People wake up in all kinds of circumstances and traditions. Vipassana is certainly a very effective practice. It's very simple and to the point. But no practice is effective if one doesn't find it appealing and thus can't really get into it. We also each bring to the table a huge number of conditions, including all sorts of past experiences, preconceptions, habits, beliefs, etc that can very much impact how quickly we see the play of the mind and so on. No two people are starting from the same place, even if they are the same age and shoe size.

The outline of practices on my blog is designed to be generic, simple and encouraging, but will vary quite a bit by individual. For example I know one person who didn't take up the practice of Magick and invoke the HGA until they were already in (unknown to them) third path territory. In which case the process goes somewhat differently and doesn't parallel the same stages of insight.

Cheers,
Ona (of A Little Death Blog)

RE: Why would you want to practice magick when you can just do vipassana?
Answer
12/14/12 2:31 PM as a reply to Ona Kiser.
Hi, Ona. I appreciate you responding.

Ona Kiser:
I can only answer for myself, but for me the practices I have done were simply what appealed to me. We don't all adore rap music or Bach. Some people like to cook elaborate meals, others prefer a frozen pizza. Some never change out of pajamas, others go gothy, others prefer a dress shirt and khakis. So I am grateful that I stumbled on a practice which inspired me to throw myself into meditation (and the associated ritual practices I did) like my hair was on fire.

When I first stumbled on MCTB (via a Buddhist Geeks podcast), I thought "really? waking up is something regular people can do?" It had never occurred to me. I had been meditating for a few months to try to be less anxious after suffering a bunch of deaths and accidents among friends and family that left me shattered. Not long after discovering MCTB, I discovered Alan Chapman (also via BG) and a spark lit up - THAT was my practice. I started reading some of his and Duncan's stuff and reading DhO (back when those guys were participating) and after things turned strange in my meditation practice I called Alan and asked him to teach me.


That's interesting - and not entirely unlike the way I came into this stuff. I initially got into meditating as a way of dealing with stress and various Stuff. I think it was a few weeks after finishing my MBSR course that I encountered MCTB and some of Daniel's interviews on BG. I think it was Daniel's tone and directness that drew me in, since that's the way I communicate, too. I wonder if he were selling something other than insight meditation, if I would have gone for it. In other words, how much does the personality of the guru play into whether you decide to really go for something or not?

Also, there was more than a little rebelliousness on my part. I was doing the exact opposite sort of practice from what my MBSR teacher recommended. The whole approach and style of the thing appealed to me. It was an outsider, maverick, "bad boy" thing, so I put a lot of myself into it, so results came fast, so I put more of myself into it. (I also benefited from direct instruction from an amazing teacher.)

I personally still find the dry vipassana thing not to my taste. It obviously is the perfect fit for many (especially many people on this forum!) and that's fabulous. As to "fastest" - I honestly think there are more factors at work than just what kind of practice one does. People wake up in all kinds of circumstances and traditions. Vipassana is certainly a very effective practice. It's very simple and to the point. But no practice is effective if one doesn't find it appealing and thus can't really get into it. We also each bring to the table a huge number of conditions, including all sorts of past experiences, preconceptions, habits, beliefs, etc that can very much impact how quickly we see the play of the mind and so on. No two people are starting from the same place, even if they are the same age and shoe size.


Yup. That's a really good point. I can relate to that. It's one thing if the practice, when followed to a T, can lead to enlightenment. But it also has to draw you in and get you fired up. You have to be motivated to follow the instructions.

This is much of the problem with vipassana as it's taught in the retreat centers. The technology is powerful. If you follow the teacher's instructions to a T, you'll wake up. But most of these people on retreat - even the ones who have been doing this close to a decade - haven't even hit the A&P. How can that be? The technology is flawless. It delivers exactly as promised. What's going on? It's probably the context it's being taught in, which in my opinion is really disempowering.

There are some people who get instant awakening, even though they've never practiced meditation. From their point of view, it's probably pointless to meditate, since all you really need to do is see things the right way. They would think I'm wasting my time, taking this long, circuitous route with vipassana and progress of insight and whatnot.

Anyway, it would have been nice if Alan had added qualifiers to what he said his pamphlet, but what you said here does explain things quite a bit. Thank you.

Now, do you think practices like divination, sigil magick, and the like directly support the core practice of insight? What do you think is the relationship between them?

RE: Why would you want to practice magick when you can just do vipassana?
Answer
12/14/12 3:32 PM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
Fitter Stoke:
...
Also, there was more than a little rebelliousness on my part. I was doing the exact opposite sort of practice from what my MBSR teacher recommended. The whole approach and style of the thing appealed to me. It was an outsider, maverick, "bad boy" thing, so I put a lot of myself into it, so results came fast, so I put more of myself into it. (I also benefited from direct instruction from an amazing teacher.)


I think Magick also served a bit of that purpose for me. "I'm not like everyone else, I do something weird, I do special things that scare other people..." Now I've become my own worst nightmare, a cheerful middle aged woman who goes to church. The horror! emoticon

Fitter Stoke:
...Now, do you think practices like divination, sigil magick, and the like directly support the core practice of insight? What do you think is the relationship between them?


I think these practices can help break down various beliefs and illusions and shed light on the functioning of the mind. I think I generally mention (briefly) the potential benefits on the various instructional pages. For example, trance states - similar to jhana states - can provide the opportunity to see that "who I am" is not as fixed and constant as one might believe. Who am I if I am possessed by a spirit? Where am I if I am in a vision? Who is experiencing these things? What does it mean if "me" can feel so different from one moment to the next? Obviously you can also observe these things in day to day consciousness, but the use of altered states practices can exaggerate the data with which you work in a productive and engaging way. It helps develop focus and attention as well.

Doing spells/sigils/etc to try to change things to suit your desires can help point to several things, such as the fact that you are constantly dissatisfied with current reality and seeking to change it (which beginners are often barely aware of). This can provide a motivation to practice (which is useful). It can also really start to highlight dissatisfaction in a powerful way. And it can, in time, highlight the lack of control you actually have over things. There tends to come a point where sigils and such actually work, and things seem to start happening with more and more coincidence, meaningfulness, etc. But (from my point of view) what's actually happening is that you are changing. You are becoming more in synch with things as they are, and seeing the flow of manifestation and everything starts to seem meaningful and relevant. And then you hit a point where you start to realize you don't have the control over reality you thought you did because even your own experience is part of the spontaneously manifesting moment. Again, such things can be observed without doing ritual magick, but for some people it can be a useful exercise.

Some people are particularly prone to being very rigid and logical, and learning to play games with the mind and their notions of the reality can loosen up their entrenched need to over-conceptualize things. So it can also be helpful that way. Depends a lot on the individual - I don't think of these things as mechanistic so much as supportive for people with certain inclinations and personality types. Others might do better with a different approach.

That said, a good number of people are into Magick type stuff for entertainment, feeling special and other ego-propping, and it can certain serve that purpose, too.

I also highly recommend working one on one with a teacher once one has established a consistent and productive practice. That seems to be a very effective in keeping things on track. It was extremely beneficial for me, and I still touch base with my old teachers and various other colleagues and teachers on a regular basis.

That's a bit off the top of my head (as usual), but hopefully helpful.

RE: Why would you want to practice magick when you can just do vipassana?
Answer
12/14/12 5:42 PM as a reply to Ona Kiser.
Ona Kiser:
I think Magick also served a bit of that purpose for me. "I'm not like everyone else, I do something weird, I do special things that scare other people..." Now I've become my own worst nightmare, a cheerful middle aged woman who goes to church. The horror! emoticon


That's awesome. Do any of your fellow churchgoers know about your years as a riping young sorcerer? ;-)

I'm pretty sure I'm only a rebel in my own mind.

That's a bit off the top of my head (as usual), but hopefully helpful.


That was very interesting. Thank you.

One of the things that crossed my mind while reading Alan's pamphlet and again when reading about your practices here is that these practices seem as though they cut across the dimensions of transpersonal psychology and insight territory. In other words, the absolute or emptiness is encountered, maybe not IN the form of a personality, but certainly through it, right? Where the typical insight path seems to require you to abstract away from psychological content and just see it as more fodder for the vipassana mill, it seems like in the tradition you're coming out of, you're playing more with the personality's projections. Is that overly crude? It seems like there's working with the unconscious and the shadow here.

Also, I actually have a specific, practice-related question for you. I'm not sure what precise sort of meditation Alan showed you and what specific techniques you were doing as you went along the path. Here's the practice he advocates in the pamphlet:

Be aware of what you are experiencing. Let thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations arise and pass away of their own accord. If a sensation arises that you find displeasing (such as thinking about what is on television, or a very annoying tune you heard on the radio earlier that won't stop going around your head) do not attempt to exclude that sensation. Just be aware of it. This goes for any sensations that might make up the experience of trying to be aware. If you get distracted, return to the present and continue the practice.


And then later on, he says not to follow the breath but to maintain an inclusive awareness.

This is more of a Dzogchen-like, open awareness practice, right? As opposed to a vipassana thing? Is this the sort of practice that you did? Or did you also work on three characteristics/noting-type stuff in this tradition?

The reason I ask is because the sorts of experiences I have in open awareness are usually very different from the sorts of experiences I have when looking for the 3C's or noting.

RE: Why would you want to practice magick when you can just do vipassana?
Answer
12/15/12 2:59 AM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
Fitter Stoke:
... Do any of your fellow churchgoers know about your years as a riping young sorcerer? ;-)

I'm pretty sure I'm only a rebel in my own mind.


It's not a secret and I'm happy to talk about it with anyone who cares to, but I don't dump it on people I don't know well or when it isn't relevant to the conversation. Since it did play the "look at me how strange I am" role in the past, I am careful to notice if that intention is behind wanting to talk about it. People whose relationship to me is one of advisor or priest tend to know. The little old lady in the pew next to me probably doesn't want to know.

Fitter Stoke:
One of the things that crossed my mind while reading Alan's pamphlet and again when reading about your practices here is that these practices seem as though they cut across the dimensions of transpersonal psychology and insight territory. In other words, the absolute or emptiness is encountered, maybe not IN the form of a personality, but certainly through it, right? Where the typical insight path seems to require you to abstract away from psychological content and just see it as more fodder for the vipassana mill, it seems like in the tradition you're coming out of, you're playing more with the personality's projections. Is that overly crude? It seems like there's working with the unconscious and the shadow here.


Yes, good point. I think this is a process of unloading the unconscious, dealing with fears and desires and so on. It overlaps with learning to see the sameness in sensations/experience that are comfortable or uncomfortable. It can help make one more aware of clinging and aversion, and help one see that all phenomena have the same fundamental nature (impermanent, empty of intrinsic existence, etc.). When I started meditating I had done several years of psychotherapy a decade earlier (as well as six years in a Cuban devotional tradition called Santeria before that), and was more comfortable than some people might be in accepting and doggedly continuing my practice in the face of painful or scary experiences.

Fitter Stoke:

Also, I actually have a specific, practice-related question for you. I'm not sure what precise sort of meditation Alan showed you and what specific techniques you were doing as you went along the path. Here's the practice he advocates in the pamphlet:

Be aware of what you are experiencing. Let thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations arise and pass away of their own accord. If a sensation arises that you find displeasing (such as thinking about what is on television, or a very annoying tune you heard on the radio earlier that won't stop going around your head) do not attempt to exclude that sensation. Just be aware of it. This goes for any sensations that might make up the experience of trying to be aware. If you get distracted, return to the present and continue the practice.


And then later on, he says not to follow the breath but to maintain an inclusive awareness.

This is more of a Dzogchen-like, open awareness practice, right? As opposed to a vipassana thing? Is this the sort of practice that you did? Or did you also work on three characteristics/noting-type stuff in this tradition?

The reason I ask is because the sorts of experiences I have in open awareness are usually very different from the sorts of experiences I have when looking for the 3C's or noting.


When I was working with Alan we started with a Shinzen Young-style verbal noting, using a limited set of labels (such as thought, image, feel, touch, sound...). Alan suggested this because I was really overwhelmed by visionary content stuff at the time. It helped get me into more of an observer mode. When I was seeing things arise and pass at a more minute level, often as a flow of vibrations, he had me start "just sitting" - more or less what is described above, with eyes open. When I started having regular moments of nondual experience (in the sense of flashes of "there's no inside/outside, no me/not me" usually followed by a blast of sheer terror), he switched to inquiry questions and pointers of various sorts, choosing them depending on what I was struggling with each week. They ranged from "what if this is all there is and there's nothing you can do to change it" to "where are thoughts arising" to "accept not knowing" and so on.

My impression is he tends to customize the specific methods he suggests to the particular student, depending on their inclinations and weaknesses, but his teaching does seem to be heavily influenced by Dzogchen/Mahamudra. I think he has some more recent meditation instructions on his site: http://futurereligion.org/instruction/

My requirement as a student was to sit for a minimum of 30 minutes a day doing the pure meditation practice. I could supplement that with whatever magickal practices I wanted to or additional meditation sessions.

Can I ask you a silly question? Is Fitter Stoke your actual name, or a screen name that has a particular meaning?

Cheers, Ona

RE: Why would you want to practice magick when you can just do vipassana?
Answer
12/15/12 2:59 AM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
Fitter Stoke:

And it's not like speed is the essential thing. I get that. What difference would it have made if it took me 4, 5, or 6 months to get stream-entry? Not a lot. I'm just thinking, though: if the point of all this (and by "this" I mean spiritual practice) is to "get" ultimate reality, why bother with anything other than the most essential technology? Why bother with things that are just going to distract you from the ultimate goal?


It helps to have different models of looking at things. For example the basic magickal way of thinking (intention + consciousness = magick), is useful and very different from non-magical ways of looking at the first person experience of intentional actions.

And I fucking booked through the first path. I got stream-entry about three months after I first came across MCTB. Could it have been done faster than that in another tradition, one that wasn't so stripped-down to essentials?


Or perhaps a lifetime of other experiences and innate proclivities led you to be attracted to the MCTB, to practice and to relatively quick progress. For another person Magick might be faster due to reasons that are unique to the individual. For others still, there may be no interest in meditation or enlightenment.

RE: Why would you want to practice magick when you can just do vipassana?
Answer
12/17/12 8:00 AM as a reply to Ona Kiser.
Ona Kiser:
For example I know one person who didn't take up the practice of Magick and invoke the HGA until they were already in (unknown to them) third path territory. In which case the process goes somewhat differently and doesn't parallel the same stages of insight.


What was this like? What’s advanced practice in the Western esoteric tradition like?

I think this is a process of unloading the unconscious, dealing with fears and desires and so on. It overlaps with learning to see the sameness in sensations/experience that are comfortable or uncomfortable.


Are you familiar with the Enneagram at all? I thought about it recently in connection with the process of awakening. It seems to me like one of the shortcomings of the dry vipassana approach is that it leaves undetermined what happens to the personality in light of awakening, and how the process of awakening differs for individuals depending on their personality. This is might not have been a large issue back when this practice was done solely in the context of a strict monastic setting (if ever that was the case), since the personality was molded in a specific direction in accordance with strict moral code. Of course, the downside of the Enneagram is that it’s often not used in the service of awakening but solely in the service of wallowing in one’s shit. This is where a dry insight path is helpful (by avoiding all that stuff), but the austerity might turn all but the most technical-minded off.


the sense of flashes of "there's no inside/outside, no me/not me" usually followed by a blast of sheer terror), he switched to inquiry questions and pointers of various sorts, choosing them depending on what I was struggling with each week. They ranged from "what if this is all there is and there's nothing you can do to change it" to "where are thoughts arising" to "accept not knowing" and so on.


Can you talk more about this? Specifically the terror you experienced in the context of non-dual awareness? Was this a dark night thing, or was this something more specific to the immediate non-dual experience? The reason I ask is because I have had terrifying experiences connected specifically with non-dual awareness, things which I thought were probably NOT part of the “normal” progress of insight, and I’m curious to know if we’re speaking about the same thing.

Can I ask you a silly question? Is Fitter Stoke your actual name, or a screen name that has a particular meaning?


No, I just have really bad taste in music and I don’t like to use my real name on public forums.

I’m “apperception” over on KFD. I think we’ve interacted a little before. I would have used that handle here, but it had to be two words.

RE: Why would you want to practice magick when you can just do vipassana?
Answer
12/17/12 12:05 PM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
Ah, we have seen each other on KFD then. Hello. Clearly I don't listen to much current music! emoticon

You said: "Can you talk more about this? Specifically the terror you experienced in the context of non-dual awareness? Was this a dark night thing, or was this something more specific to the immediate non-dual experience? The reason I ask is because I have had terrifying experiences connected specifically with non-dual awareness, things which I thought were probably NOT part of the “normal” progress of insight, and I’m curious to know if we’re speaking about the same thing."

I can think of a couple of examples off the top of my head. This was a particularly strong experience during "third path." Once I was walking in a park and for a split second it seemed that everything - the people, the trees, the building, everything - was simply an arising manifestation, like a dance of phenomena, all of the same substance. I would have nearly ignored the split second except it was followed by a wave of utter terror that left me gasping. Only on reflection did I consider what had seemed to be experienced in the moment before the terror, as in itself that moment had not seemed particularly dramatic. It was the reaction to it that made me look back and try to figure out what had happened. Another time I was meditating, just sitting with open eyes, and for a split second there was no me looking at the wall, and I couldn't put words to how it changed, but again a wave of terror followed, so hard that it was difficult for me to meditate the next session. I recall saying to myself "fear is just another sensation that arises and passes away" over and over until I was able to settle down. I was at a retreat once and had been having repeated flashes of terror in meditation (utterly abstract - I couldn't name what was scary) and asked the monk next to me to help me, and he said it's normal - people fall off their cushions laughing, or crying, or trembling sometimes. He said in his monastery they were taught you always help the person on your right, perhaps just by putting a hand on their arm if they are frightened. I know quite a few people who have not had this kind of experience and others who said "Oh, yes, me too!" So who knows. My teacher's guidance was that it was delusion - that the fear is an ego reaction, a sort of sharp aversion expressed emotionally in a way that is particular to the individual.

I will check my notes to answer the question about the late-stage HGA thing, because I think I have some correspondence with some discussion of it.

More later, must get some work done first. Cheers.

RE: Why would you want to practice magick when you can just do vipassana?
Answer
12/17/12 4:09 PM as a reply to Ona Kiser.
So regarding the case of the experienced yogi who got into magick, what seems to be different from a beginner getting into magick are things like this:

-when a person has years of meditative practice and progress of insight, the mind is much more pliable and responsive. One can experiment with magickal ritual and usually have immediate results with very little practice or training. When a beginner (for the sake of this post pre-1st path) is doing the same practices, they often need months of practice to experience similar results.

-So with this friend, when he became intrigued with Western Magick he initially tried Enochian scrying under the guidance of a teacher. He immediately had an intense vision. He followed up on his own some weeks later, having another intense vision. In the second vision he saw symbols and words he intuitively felt were related to invoking his Holy Guardian Angel. When he used those symbols and words, after two sessions he had an intense vision and experience of the unconditionally loving presence of his Holy Guardian Angel.

-A beginner will also have much less confidence or ability to hear and understand intuition (whatever intuition is technically, I don't know, but it describes for me a sense of knowing how things will work out, or what is true, or what is not going to work that is not rationally thought out but just arises spontaneously; I tend to think it's less some kind of "psychic" thing than a dis-entangled attention to how things are, at least partially liberated from ego-centered desires). So a beginner's practice is more likely to be governed by desires or aversions that actually get in the way of successful magickal practice, where a more experienced yogi's attempts are likely to be more un-entangled from desires, distractions, fears and so on.

-In the case of my friend, because the recognition of the HGA was not tied to a preliminary A&P experience nor to a 1st path experience (which he had already had years before), there was no "crash" afterwards into the typical dark night cycle or Abyss crossing experience which is typical when a person goes through the experience earlier in their development. He simply worked ever after with the HGA with clear communication, including the ability to banish other spirits by calling on his HGA. I saw this demonstrated in person and have done it on myself as well, with the invocation of the HGA being powerful enough to instantly end a heavy possession state by a very strong spirit (which was not removed even with ritual involving holy water or other means), returning the person to full normal consciousness. (One can use other vocabulary to describe or explain such altered states and the impact of intention on consciousness. I know quite a few experienced yogis who don't do magick but can invoke states of consciousness by intention, such as saying "let joy arise" and feeling a flush of joy.)

-That said, my sample size for understanding this is about half a dozen people. Most people get into magick because they want to indulge in weird states of consciousness or scare the neighbors or win the lottery. But for that matter most people get into meditation because they want to feel good or relax. So the number of people practicing in any particular tradition who actually are seeking something deeper is few, and the data is limited. This is the only person I know of who got into magick only after many years in eastern meditation traditions. The others I know all started out interested in magick, incorporated eastern meditation in some form, and did both together.

RE: Why would you want to practice magick when you can just do vipassana?
Answer
12/18/12 3:25 AM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
Answer: different strokes for different folks.

But that's just a boring, dull answer, because your question is so much more interesting. Find out more about it! That's a great way to practice in-between doing vipassana.

Suggestions for finding out more about your question: "Why do vipassana if you can just sit?" - "Why sit if you can be choicelessly aware?" "Why be aware if awareness shuts down each night for hours?" "Why am I doing this at all?" ...

The answers can be interesting, but they are just stepping stones to phrasing the question more precisely - if an answer appears, that means a part of the question can now be discarded because it was not really part of the question in the first place. You'll end up with a really pointed question, which you can use to poke holes into all kinds of Dharma and Delusion, not just weird practices like Magick.

Cheers,
Florian

RE: Why would you want to practice magick when you can just do vipassana?
Answer
12/18/12 8:33 AM as a reply to Florian.
Florian Weps:
Answer: different strokes for different folks.

But that's just a boring, dull answer, because your question is so much more interesting. Find out more about it! That's a great way to practice in-between doing vipassana.


No, actually, this answer ends up making a lot of sense to me. Reading that piece in the NYT today brought once again into sharp focus that this hardcore insight thing we do is not for everyone. I'm wondering why someone would want to do something other than vipassana to get enlightened, but getting enlightened is such an obscure thing to begin with, which dovetails with...

Suggestions for finding out more about your question: "Why do vipassana if you can just sit?"


Because "just sitting" is actually kind of difficult. Some people are able to get it done by just sitting. Lots of people find the scaffolding provided by noting helpful. I find I go back and forth in my own practice.

"Why sit if you can be choicelessly aware?"


More important than one technique or another is having the intuition to know what to use and when. You need to have a "feel" for what the experience is throwing up (or what you happen to be throwing up, if it's one of THOSE sessions) and what would be the best response. It's the same kind of intuition any expert develops in any field through contact with the object.

"Why be aware if awareness shuts down each night for hours?"


I don't know. Why be concerned with living well if I'm going to die anyway?

"Why am I doing this at all?"


Have peak experiences. Raise the baseline. Be happier overall. It seems to be working.

RE: Why would you want to practice magick when you can just do vipassana?
Answer
12/18/12 8:46 AM as a reply to Ona Kiser.
Thanks for sharing all this, Ona! This is basically what I was looking for.

I know quite a few experienced yogis who don't do magick but can invoke states of consciousness by intention, such as saying "let joy arise" and feeling a flush of joy.


Funny you mention this, because I've been practicing this lately, though not thinking of it in quite these terms. Just now, upon reading your description, I made an attempt to "let joy arise" and found I was able to do it directly. Useful, that!

RE: Why would you want to practice magick when you can just do vipassana?
Answer
12/18/12 8:52 AM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
Fitter Stoke:
Florian Weps:
Answer: different strokes for different folks.

But that's just a boring, dull answer, because your question is so much more interesting. Find out more about it! That's a great way to practice in-between doing vipassana.


No, actually, this answer ends up making a lot of sense to me.


I'm glad it makes sense to you. I'm suggesting that there's more to your question than finding an answer: you can make a spiritual practice or tool or whatever out of it. Like the Buddha did with the problem of suffering. The four noble truths aren't really "answers" to the question of suffering, either, but rather a toolkit which emerged from his stripping down of the question of suffering to the point where it could not be answered any more.

So if you like, you can use your question, and the follow-up questions which emerge once you strip away the answerable parts, in the same way:

Fitter Stoke:
Why be concerned with living well if I'm going to die anyway?
Have peak experiences. Raise the baseline. Be happier overall. It seems to be working.


Strip away the answered bit of the question, rephrase, repeat.

This is just a suggestion, which you can play with or not as you please, no strings attached.

Cheers,
Florian

RE: Why would you want to practice magick when you can just do vipassana?
Answer
12/19/12 10:11 AM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
Fitter Stoke:
Jane Laurel Carrington:
So if you've concluded vipassana is "it", what's with all the AF flirtation? emoticon


Okay, more serious response. I'm not claiming vipassana is "it". It just seems to me that more ritualistic approaches (or at least approaches involving divination, vision, astral projection, and the like) are less efficient for getting enlightenment than non-ritualistic ones. Since AF doesn't contain any of these ritualistic elements, it's somewhat beside the point.

As for the "flirtation", I became interested in the PCE, and by extension AF, because I got interested in direct path practices in general (including Dzogchen and Dzogchen-like methods, which have also made it into my practice lately), and because once I learned what the PCE was, and that I had experienced it in the past, and that there was perhaps a way to duplicate that experience, I decided to pursue it a bit, because the PCE rocks. But I would say that the direct path approaches (AF included) are even more stripped down, even more bare-bones than vipassana, since they require you to just do it, do not pass GO, do not collect $200.



Okay. I have considered myself Wicca since I was 16, officially, and researching it and other religions since I renounced Catholicism at age 12. I am now 27. I have never dealt with what I call the "foofoo" practices myself, such as Angels, or Dragons, or Demons (partly because everyone I know of who has has become seriously f***'d up on what reality really is). But I have a Circle leader right now who is Draconic, and swears by it. I guess that I see those sorts of people as the same as those Catholics that constantly pray to saints for the tiniest things that go wrong in their lives: There's a sense of peace and security with knowing that you are not alone, and that somebody else cares about you- that there is somebody who has your back when you can't handle it anymore. Think about it; if we had gone through the Dark Night with this belief, would it have truly hit us as hard? In the moment, we are sitting there going, "Oh, my stars, I'm all alone, and the world is this big, scary place." But there would be this spot in the back of their minds that would say, "Take comfort, my child, for I am bigger than you. And your life might not be protected, but, man, I got your soul's back. And your soul will be rewarded later."

I generally follow along the system (which gets me a lot of anger from other witches, btw) of believing that all gods and goddesses are really just human ways of looking at the many facets and connectivity of the energy within the world around us. And we are all, essentially, the same being, with the same energy, that somehow became fragmented, and is now, through all we answer as "part of life", putting itself slowly back together. Or maybe we just have to realize it never truly fell apart- I don't really know. And so, if I did "magick", it was energy work. And, to be honest, within that practice, I was practicing severe loving-kindness, seeing the "reality" of the connection between everything daily, and now, talking with my boyfriend, he states that I have already gone through at least all the jhanic and nanic states, and that I am just as far on my "path" as he is. I'm not bragging. With my idea of the gods, was the Dark Night easier for me? Yes and no- it was easier to let go of my own importance, maybe, and not selfishly be concerned about my own life- the balance in the universe will exist with or without me. Energy may change its form, but it continues on. Everything recycles. And in its own way, that is so much bigger than "me" on such a miniscule level that "I" can't begin to comprehend. And, as we are still going through the Dukkhas Nanas, do I know what the "truth" out there is? No. I think that I have a fairly decent hypothesis about something that really doesn't matter one way or the other, except that it hits the "me" inside of me in a way that motivates me to try harder.

I guess that I am just saying that, yes, the "bare bones" might get you there faster. And, after having studied HAIETMOBA with Nikolai's tutelage, I wouldn't say that it is dry or boring. But then again, I love life, and there is so much within reality to experience for me. It is a plethora of beauty that cannot be overcome. Yet, for some, the "bare bones" is too much of a shocker. It is easier for them to imagine themselves as the wee lamb being led by the big, protective being to the truth about life, than for them to actually see it as something that they are initiating. What we are doing, after all, is laying bare questions about the self. The being that "we are trying to pick apart and demolish" is us. Obviously, as I still feel opinionated and unenlightened, it's been too scary for me to overcome yet. So, if these other people are using psychological helpers to get them through it, are they wrong? If you've been in jhana territory, some crazy stuff can happen. It feels like you're on a trip. Is it maybe easier to deal with this thing you're "positive really did happen to you" by believing in magick? It worked, apparently, for Aleister Crowley, although I would hope that most don't end up as morally uncoded as he. Just saying- each of us has our own battles to come through. And, good news? I have yet to meet a sixty-year-old who truly believes in the "magick" they experimented with at 30. ;-)

*Apologies- I wrote this after reading the first entry, but before reading the others. I apologize if I didn't bring anything new to the table, but it really did help me organize my thoughts, so, if you don't mind, I'd like to leave it up. If anyone does mind, let me know, and I'll switch it to my online journal.*

RE: Why would you want to practice magick when you can just do vipassana?
Answer
12/19/12 10:30 AM as a reply to Jasmine Marie Engler.
No problem at all, Jasmine. I'm happy you and others have shared your experiences, as it helps me better grasp what might motivate one to take up these practices.

RE: Why would you want to practice magick when you can just do vipassana?
Answer
12/20/12 1:06 AM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
Interesting questions and answers here! And while I definitely agree that it really just boils down to a matter of style more than anything, I thought I'd paraphrase good ol' Dion Fortune (de facto mentor to Aleister Crowley): "Magick is simply the yoga of the West". Magick, it seems to me, is a genuine Insight tradition, but one that was distorted and suppressed historically by reactive religious and political forces (also from Western origins). C'est la Vie.
Just to make this personally relevant: I never would have pursued serious meditation without a serious magickal practice preceding it. It really was a profound revelation when it dawned on me one day that if this thing I called "myself" was infinitely transmutable, then exactly who and what was doing the changing? *mind blown!* Then, in the way of synchronicity, Ingram's book practically fell into my hands, and like a good little magician, I took it as a cue to begin some more serious Insight-oriented work... It would be hard to believe that I was the only such case, and so I tip my hat to the gods and goddesses of Magick! emoticon



(edit for lousy grammar and syntax)

RE: Why would you want to practice magick when you can just do vipassana?
Answer
12/31/12 7:34 PM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
I don't know much about High Magick (Never practiced ceremonial magick outside of personal banishing and invoking rituals) but I know I still occasionally use Low Magick (sorcery)... when I want to make sure that I didn't miss the bus, or I need something on the mundane plane. For things that I have little attachment for it works great and my Vipassana concentration is of immense benefit.

It is interesting though that the more I practice Vipassana the less I seem to want anything I don't have. I am so much more okay with whatever is. So the paradox manifests... I become better at manifesting things, but I don't bother cause I feel complete as is.

Nothing is true. Everything is permissible.
and
Nothing is determined until it is experienced.

I lived and breathed by those mottoes for a long time. Todays it's more like Que Sera Sera.

RE: Why would you want to practice magick when you can just do vipassana?
Answer
1/9/13 6:55 PM as a reply to The Xzanth.
The successful magician adopts different views and different maps and belief systems to achieve different results. He should have no fixed belief systems, seeing them all as empty, but that shouldn't be an obstacle to using them as tools. For example: in morality practices we believe that there is an objective world populated by others that we can develop skill in interacting with. In insight meditation, only what is in direct experience is real.

An interesting area where all this seems to overlap is in the realms of night time dreams. In dreams at night, we can wave a wand like Harry Potter and cause magic to happen with our intent. Or we can do insight meditation of the sensations. Or both. In dreams, doing insight meditation of sensations is a very powerful magic in itself. Three possibilities seem to happen in such cases: one becomes distracted by the increasingly intense sensations, one wakes up due to the intense sensations, or the dream ends and one is left in pure non-dual lucid awareness with no phenomena besides knowing. Then one can create another dream or just observe a new dream forming.

I have dabbled a little with using dreams to influence waking life and cultivating precognitive dreams. This is magic. This also has the affect of creating a non-dual lucid awareness in waking life, and much faster than insight meditation in my experience. emoticon

Doing magic in dreams appears to be more of a vajrayana dream yoga while meditating in dreams and dissolving them seems to be a dzogchen approach. Cultivating precognitive dreams and clairavoyant dreams and dream sharing are all very interesting tasks to take on in developing psychic powers.

I understand that a lot of folks can be skeptical. Alas... am I suffering from magical thinking? Maybe a little. But like I said, a magician should have no fixed belief system. Magical thinking is just one empty view among all other empty views that a magician uses as a tool to have a certain experience. Is the experience a hallucination or not? Doesn't matter from the point of view of insight meditation practice. Can the success of a magical operation be attributed to something rational and in line with the consensus material reality via occam's razor? Doesn't matter, as long as the result followed the intent. Labeling phenomena as real or unreal is a philosophical conception projected onto sensations.

Of course it is good to keep your feet on the ground and keep the big picture in mind.

RE: Why would you want to practice magick when you can just do vipassana?
Answer
1/11/13 7:03 AM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
"Why would you go through all these ritualistic practices when you can just note your way through the thing?"


Well, my question is: how can you not practice magic?

I am still a fan of noting, obviously, but really, we are essentially magical creatures in many ways. Intention, motivation, emotion, concentration, energy, these flux, converge, focus, move, permeate, resonate, and interdepend. Even if you are not doing formal ritual, it is what is going on anyway.

In fact, it would be easy to include vipassana/noting/etc in the general category of magic, being just one of many things you can do in that much larger framework, in this case casting a "get really good at noticing what is going on and noticing its essential characteristics spell".

Lots of magickal rituals are actually very, very profound, and, if done really well, will produce profound effects. Take the Middle Pillar Ritual: http://home.earthlink.net/~xristos/GoldenDawn/rituals03.htm


""1. Stand in the Temple (or other location) facing West. (This is because you are taken to be standing in the East, source of the Light of the Golden Dawn as it manifests on the Earth plane.) Arms are stretched out straight to both sides. On your right (the North) is the Black Pillar of Severity; on your left (the South) is the White Pillar of Mercy. You stand in between as the Middle Pillar of Balance.

2. A blindingly brilliant white light, the Light of the Infinite Self (Ain Soph Aur) originates far above your head, coming from the Crown. (Saharshra).

3. The light descends to the top of your forehead, forming a sphere the size of your head. Vibrate, strongly: EH-EI-EH ("I AM")

4. When this is felt strongly, allow the light to descend to the Daath center (throat chakkra).) Vibrate: YHVH ELOHIM (I Am the Mighty One of God.)

5. Allow the Light to descend further to the heart center (Tiphareth/Anahatta chakra). Vibrate: YHVH ELOAH VE-DAATH. (I Am the Lord of Knowledge.)

6. Allow the Light to descend through the Solar Plexus, down to the Svadisthana Chakra (generational center) at Yesod. Vibrate: SHADDAI EL-CHAI (Lord of Life.)

7. Allow the Light to descend further, through the Muladhara Chakra (root center) and all the way down to the earth, gaining density as it progresses. Vibrate: ADNI HA-ARETZ (Lord of the Earth.)

8. The Light of the Golden Dawn now surrounds the whole body of the Initiate.

9. Allow it to ascend back up to center it in the Heart, where it becomes established in fullness.

10. From this Center the Light may be channelled as a healing energy, through the palm of the right hand, as a white ray of force aimed at an object. The Light may also be established in the Heart and utilized as a catalyst for meditative states and visions, if it is meant to be so."

Do that as actually described, with the full visualization blazing, and see what happens...

RE: Why would you want to practice magick when you can just do vipassana?
Answer
1/11/13 8:31 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel:
Do that as actually described, with the full visualization blazing, and see what happens...


I did that ritual once. I got the A&P the next day. Haha!

I don't draw any conclusion from that, since I was noting my ass off leading up to it. But it's an amusing coincidence.

During the very short period I was practicing ritual magick, it seemed memorizing the whole ritual was of paramount importance, because it freed the mind up to get the visualization blazing, as you say. And I strongly suspect it's this visualization aspect that has the most effect. Agreed?

Around the time I wrote the original post here, I read an article on scrying, just to see what that was, and I realized that the basic visualization practices leading up to scrying are something I've been doing for several years now, every single night for about 30 minutes before falling asleep. I can't say anything in favor or against scrying, as I've never tried it, but if you want to lay down new pathways in your brain, visualization is a great way to do it. It doesn't have to be anything more complicated than just vividly imagining what situation, relationship, state of affairs, etc., you want, and just really enjoying having it. It's incredibly soothing, and I like to believe this activity makes it more likely that you'll be ready for such a thing if it ever materializes.

RE: Why would you want to practice magick when you can just do vipassana?
Answer
1/11/13 4:37 PM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
Nice Fitter. According to neuroscience when you visualize something good enough, your brain thinks it is a real experience. That in itself is magick.

RE: Why would you want to practice magick when you can just do vipassana?
Answer
6/6/15 3:56 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
I hereby declare this thread resurected.

I have a feeling I might soon get invited to join a Rocicrucian (white magick+christian theurgy) order by a christian mystic I've been working with lately, because he said he was looking for a disciple. If so, do you guys think I should join or do you consider that path to be a possible distraction? My main spiritual goal is not getting reborn in lower realms, and apparently those mystics get somekind of experiential insight into the workings of karma and rebirth so that might help. They also recommend combining their path with eastern methods. 

Not that I'd blindly follow either your or the magicians advice, but I'd like to hear some opinions emoticon

What would be some warning signs to look out for that show that this path could be a distraction from my goals or a cult? 

I guess it would depend on who was around and in that particular order to some degree, but in general I have heard some good things about the rosy cross kids, but the sample size is very limited on my end, so I would check them out, see what they have to offer, and keep your wits about you.

RE: Why would you want to practice magick when you can just do vipassana?
Answer
6/6/15 4:10 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Sounds relieving! What have you heard about them in general? Currently, my impression of the rc practitioners I've met and heard about is that they have...

•A hard-core attitude to their practices
•Numerous cool siddhis 
•Immaterial allies with even cooler siddhis
•Good will
•Chaotic lives due to their terrible, over-synchronistic version of the Dark Night.

what the hell is this, and why?
http://www.rosae-crucis.net/death.htm
this is different from MCTB DN, right? 

I don't think this is the same as normal dukkha nanas, that would be the phase of Apophis. What turns me off the most from getting in to this western magick stuff is a long Dark Night where you get horrible synchronisities, like getting beaten up and robbed. But on the other hand, the guy I've been working with seems to be pretty realized and powerful and their Magick seems fun.

Yes that's my plan, at least 45 mins of concentration practice, either plain breath awareness or breath awareness combined with bodyscanning with spinal and dan tien breathing, daily. Usually 1 hour. Yesterday I got only 25 mins because of graduation but soon this summer I'll work up to about 2 hours.