Thursday, 16 October 2008

Can This Thing Be Engineered?

It is a strange thing when you think about it. The importance of pain in the origin of the key spiritual traditions.

I mean, think about it. Your top three religious leaders are Jesus, Buddha and Mohammed. In terms of being 'hooked up' to whatever's out there beyond the reach of analysis and logic, those three would certainly be pretty damn high on anyone's list.

Now this is very interesting, because in all these cases the individual in question lived a pretty uneventful life until he decided to starve himself in isolation until something mental happened.

Really. Take Jesus. I remember the first time I actually sat down and read a gospel from cover to cover. They don't actually have covers, but you know what I mean. It's very interesting, because one of the big things I got from it was the fact that there are all these sign and portents, but Jesus doesn't actually do anything that intense. He's just this clever working class kid from a shitty, dead-end town.

Then he goes into the desert and he starves himself. And does he meet God?

No. He meets the devil.

After he's resisted the devil he comes out of the desert like a spiritual juggernaut, drawing huge crowds and performing works that would make a Jedi blush.

Mohammed was middle class. Married at 25, a merchant in a merchant family. He gets discontented by life in Mecca, and wants something more. So as a young man he retreats from society into a cave and he stays there until he's 40. Then pow - he has a revelation from God and that's the very first Ramadan.

I decided that I wouldn't put a picture of Mohammed in here. Instead, here's a picture of some lightning with a quote from the Q'uran. This is because I want to live.

Anyway, Mohammed he comes down from the mountain this charismatic powerhouse. By the time he dies aged 62 he's conquered Mecca and Medina, united Arab culture and the rest, as they say, is history.

Buddha was a rich kid. Long story short he seems to have got sick of the emptiness and banality of life, a little like an ancient male Paris Hilton. So he decided, essentially, to sit down and not eat until he gets it.

Check out this picture of the Buddha's 'lean days':


My point is this - what if this isn't just a coincidence? What if these three men have done something, put themselves in a certain situation which has allowed them to punch through to a level of reality from which they were able to draw incredible wisdom, charisma and power.

It's like in each case they turned their lives into a pressure cooker - they exposed themselves to the full weight of suffering. Let 'suffering' or 'negativity' or 'loneliness' or 'the devil' or 'failure' or whatever - let it in. Take the shackles off it and face it full on.

It seems that these men, the top three religious teachers in history, all did the same thing and whatever they did unleashed vast amounts of power inside them. The presence of each of these men radiates down through the centuries. I wonder what any of them would have been like face to face?

What would it have felt like to see such presence in the flesh? What would it feel like to be like that? To have that level of clarity, wisdom and power of mind?

What effect would a person like that have in the modern age?

They punched through to the divine, they all did. Or the divine punched through to them. Or both, or neither, or whatever you want to say.

But all "divine" really means when you get down to it is "something so much greater than anything we can wrap our heads around that to attempt to label it is something of a joke."

And Tolle - the connection he has he openly admits came to him in the midst of deep despair, at the most extreme depths of darkness and self-hate.

And that breakthrough I had recently - nothing on anything like the scale of any of these guys, you understand. But it was the intense inner pain that suddenly gave reality and context to the words Tolle had been speaking.

And shit - I still get lost in my head, still feel that deep pain that we all like to hide from ourselves, hate, judge, label - all the rest of it.

The main difference, and what I was trying to get at in the Ignition post is that 'presence' as Tolle calls it is no longer a theoretical concept to me. I mean, don't get me wrong - I had no idea it was a theoretical concept to me. I thought I 'got it' a thousand times.

But the other day, deep in pain, I suddenly felt and saw the simple and immediate reality of it. It's blasted me to a level I'd never even dreamed of - and I still know I have a ways to go.

That's fine, it's not a problem. It's fascinating. Damn, I'm glad I'm doing this 1000 days.

But here's the thing - here's what I'm trying to get at. If you can disidentify with pain when it's flaring up, you seem to get a massive boost to your 'presence' - and by that I mean connection with the infinite, with God, with compassion, with love, with oneness, with Zen - whatever.

Could we instigate some kind of much deeper and more extreme unleashing of spiritual power through similar means? I'll blaspheme three major religions all at once in one sentence now - but I must raise this question: Can this thing be engineered?

Because if it can - that would be very interesting indeed. Because then you wouldn't be looking at one person in the modern age like this. If there is a process that can be unlocked, there's no reason why more - many more - could not walk that path.

I always think like this. Trying to find ways to kick off global revolutions and save the world. It's one of the deepest and most entrenched parts of the fiction I've written for myself.

Ooooo - it is compelling though, is it not, to think of such an occurrence? Such a process?

I should probably bring some more awareness into the way I constantly turn everything I'm doing into this kind of thing.


In other news things continue to kick off negativity-wise, but they're bouncing off me inside and out in a way I've never seen before. Again, as mentioned I'm very far from Jedi yet, so I'm sure life's going to smack me about a bit going forward... but compared to the neverending car wreck of my past, shit's going swimmingly.

Love to my homs.


Anonymous said...

Well, you've always mentioned in older posts that we can get "hooked the fuck up" as you once put it. That we could essentially find that "link" to the "infinite consciousness". Wouldn't this be the same thing you're trying to get at here? If we can find that link, get "hooked the fuck up", maybe we can reach this absurd level of higher being. I wouldn't doubt its possibility. HOW* do we find that link is really the question.


Occam said...

Power to kicking off the revolution.

Are you the one, neo??

Gavin said...

Can it be engineered? Yes.

Buddhism has coded this and labeled it Mind Training.

The other religions (in my humble opinion) havent gone far enough to codify it but Buddhism has made it a business to do this for the last however many hundreds of years.

Look at The Seven Point Mind Training:


iconcolast said...

Interesting post, this. I'd say, yes, this thing is engineered, and has been engineered in all three 'major' religions. In Islam, acquiring this power would require one to be 'obedient' to Allah, and this would be done in the form of fulfilling the five pillars of Islam. If you're a radical Muslim, perhaps fulfilling Jihad on infidels is simply 'obedience' to Allah. I'm unsure of Buddhism, but the idea to simply give up 'good life', and to live a life an ascetic. In both cases, there is the idea of the individual being swallowed up in the system, both of which are viable and even encouraged in Christianity. Maybe I've painted both religions wrong and I understand there are doctrinal splits within the sects of each religion, but I don't think I will encounter the sheer particularity that Christianity demands.

In Christianity, it's not so much a system as much as walking on the path that God has given you. If you were to look at how your path should look 'like', all you have to do is look at the Pattern--Christ. It is a path that involves one's deepest passions, loneliness, suffering, denial of worldly pleasure. An intense existence. I hesitate to call it a system, because there is no overarching formula that is not 'individual' friendly. Actually, the fulfillment of universal (that is to say, rules) is just an afterthought of dancing with the Absolute (what you call building a link with infinite consciousness).

Dancing with the Absolute can take different forms--it is merely not praying and doing pilgrimages (although these are viable things to enhance your awareness of God's will in your life) and merely not living an ascetic life (for some people ascetism is good, for others, not quite). The Absolute is infinitely wider than the universe, but its attention to particularity is also infinitely pointed. Don't believe me, read Exodus and see how God orders the Israelites around and how particular he gets with fashion (priestly garments) and architecture (the ark). This particularity then would either demand or negate the need for ascetism. The point is that the path to this "higher level of being" is not systematized. Sure there is a sense of "if you do this, you'll experience God's joy" but it's more along the lines of believing and acting on a spiritual truth, akin to a phenomenal truth like "if you touch this fire, you will get hurt". I'm very wary then of 'spiritual' methods--they are viable to a degree and sure some Christians can learn from the devotion of the Muslims and learn how Buddhists take seriously human respiration and its affects on one's being (perhaps more so with the Zen Buddhists) or really learn how dangerous the material world is to one's soul and learn why Buddhists commit to ascetism, but the focus on method kinda misses the picture. We are to tap into the things that incidentally (if you want to become a trailblazer intentionally, I think you'd also be missing the point) make us trailblazers--you know things like the desire to see justice in this world, your desire for global revolution, the desire for the destruction of evil, etc--and ask for God's help to help you achieve those things. Sometimes, pilgrimage is required, sometimes it's ascetism, sometimes you have to fast, sometimes you have to join the military, sometimes you have to live in the ghettos of Brazil as a missionary, perhaps you have to become a pastor in your local community, perhaps you have to suffer loneliness in a foreign country where foreigners are for the most part not welcome. Doing these things that God particularly demands from you expands your awareness of and most importantly your relationship with divine reality. You keep tapping into it, you keep walking on your path,'s the limit, duke. Perhaps you'll be doing the same things that Jesus did, and even more (Jesus said it, not me).

How do you know how to walk on your path? Well, all these things are not done in a vacuum. Although it's a lonely path, it affects the community around you. For Christians, you'll know how to walk on your path based on how you affect the people in your church. You'll know how to walk on your path based on what your passion is (justice, destruction of evil, mercy, compassion, whatever). You'll know how to walk on your path based on how Scripture/sermons/wise men speak to you. You'll know how to walk your path when you dedicate yourself to prayer. Then you can be creative if you feel the need to, and saturate yourself in ancient spiritual teaching like the Tao Te Ching.

Anyway, I wrote too much. Hope you got value from this. We can talk more indepth if you like.

Occam said...

Hacking Enlightenment.... interesting.

Anonymous said...

you forgot michael jackson.

Anyway, the thing you're talking about, alot of people get it but they all have a different way of expressing it.

Ranger101 said...

My instincts, after reading this, say that it should not be engineered, and there shouldn't be a way.

Perhaps that's the Religion talking in me, or perhaps its something a little more Sadomachistic. We're all meant to be on our personal journey's, most of us ignore it, a lot of us resist it, and a very small amount of us surrender to it.

And that's what I think it comes down to... surrendering to your life. Submitting to wherever it takes you, and keeping yourself on that path.

Guy said...

"I should probably bring some more awareness into the way I constantly turn everything I'm doing into this kind of thing."

I hate to say it but that was the only thing of value to me in your post.

Anonymous said...

Yes definitely isolation and starvation seems to induce the religious visions.

Strongly recommend 'Heaven and hell' by aldous huxley (it usually comes tagged at the back of 'the doors of perception''.