Tag Archives: mysticism

Po, Paul and the Burning Bush

The other day I watched a video discussion between Po the Person and Pastor Paul VanderKlay.  I’m a long-time follower of Paul’s channel (he interviewed me a while back) but not familiar with Po’s.

There were a couple points in their discussion when I really wished I had been there.  Po asked some tough questions that I think many people ask, and I thought that Paul was very uncharacteristically gooey in his answers.  Normally he’s a total ace!  So I made a video so that I could step into their conversation.

I’m a big fan of Bishop Robert Barron, so I used some snips of his videos in my reply.  One was an interview of him on Capturing Christianity.  The other was a video he made about his appreciation for Christopher Hitchens.

Why am I wearing a clerical collar?  I’m a deacon in the Old Catholic tradition, currently enrolled in Ekklesia Epignostika Seminary in pursuit of Holy Orders.

Anyway, here it goes…


Dangerous Disconnections (and Your WOD)

wpid-20150509_200303.jpgI find it refreshing and downright beautiful that two very different writers  — an American poet writing in English about the origin of culture and an Estonian-Russian mystic writing in French about Christian Hermeticism — could express (from very different perspectives of course) the same essential truth in very similar language.  Both of these books are excellent by the way — highly recommended.

Because we have separated humanity from nature, subject from object, values from analysis, knowledge from myth, and universities from the universe, it is enormously difficult for anyone but a poet or a mystic to understand what is going on in the holistic and mythopoetic thought of Ice Age humanity. The very language we use to discuss the past speaks of tools, hunters, and men, when every statue and painting we discover cries out to us that this Ice Age humanity was a culture of art, the love of animals, and women…We have to use the “Imagination” to recover a sense of the sacred. The sacred is the emotional force which connects the part to the whole; the profane or the secular is that which as broken off from, or has fallen off, its emotional bond to the universe.

~William Irwin Thompson, The Time Falling Bodies Take to Light: Mythology, Sexuality, and the Origins of Culture (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1981) p.102

[I]ntelligence with conscience eclipsed…is the Arcanum of the magical mechanism, working behind the surface of the state of intelligence, which aims at explaining movement by the immobile, life by the non-living, consciousness by the unconscious, morality by the amoral.  Indeed, how has it happened to mankind that many of its intelligent representatives — even its leaders and directors — have come to see in the brain not the instrument but the producer of consciousness, in chemistry not the instrument but the producer of life, in the economic sphere not the instrument but the producer of culture? How can it be that human intelligence has arrived — in so far as many of its representatives are concerned — at seeing man without a soul and the world without God?”

~Anonymous, Meditations on the Tarot: A Journey Into Christian Hermeticism  (New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher, 1985) p. 518-19

And Now for your Cabal Fang WOD (abbreviation key here):

  • Weights.  7 x 15 of Two-handed Squat Presses and Swing-thrus.
  • Kickboxing. Heavy bag HZG, AHAYC without sacrificing good form.
  • Jump rope. 4 x 3:00/1:00

Your Spiritual Evolution Starts Now

This chart shows the evolution of humanity from a scientific perspective. It is scientifically accurate with respect to our current understanding of evolution.

We learned in elementary school that about 400 million years ago there were fish who desired to avail themselves of food that was only available on land.  These fish started scooting around in the mud using their flippers.  It took 30 or 40 million years, but they evolved into four-legged creatures (tetrapods) like the Ichthyostega.  One thing lead to another.  Eventually you get people (see the cool graphic on the right).

What this means is that you don’t walk around because you have legs.  You have legs because you want to walk around.  

Get this through your head.  Think about about it and what it means.  Intelligent design, in the sense that a deity who looks like Santa Claus sits up in heaven and directs the process, is a silly and childlike model of evolution.  Now, if what you mean by “intelligent design” is that you direct the evolution of yourself and your species, then you might be on to something.

This is the Tree of Life of the Hermetic Qabalah. It is, among other things, a model of spiritual evolution.

The Godhead — the Prime Mover, the Divine Spark Plug, the Fuse of the Big Bang — is a power or energy beyond our comprehension.  It isn’t conscious as we understand it and it can’t do anything.  It flows into the universe, dividing itself into pieces — rocks and stones and trees and plants and bugs and animals and birds and people and such (see the cool graphic on the left).  Each and every one of us is at once God and individual.  So is every bug and ape and Great Horned Owl.  We are all agents of God — but we are also dancing meat sacks.  Both are true.  Understanding and reconciling those two opposites, not intellectually but through direct, spiritual experience and with complete, fully-involved feeling, is the the point of mysticism.

What does this mean?  It means that just as surely as you have legs because you want to walk around, you are not going to have wings unless and until you desire to fly.  

Your personal evolution cannot begin, and you cannot join humanity’s evolution, until you start to realize that anything is possible in the fullness of time.

If you want to start your physical, spiritual, and mystical evolution, join the Cabal Fang Distance Learning Program.  It only costs $10/month. [Update:  This program is now free! Email me for details.] In addition to being a fitness and martial arts program, it is also a very strong, esoteric educational program rooted in Hermeticism — sometimes called the ‘Zen of the West.’

What in heaven are you waiting for?

The Prettiest Damned Thing You Ever Saw


A tiny sweat bee on a Chicory flower in my backyard. Ain’t that something?

“Everything always works out for the best,” he said.

I can’t remember what I asked him about, but I’m sure I was seeking advice about something I considered an immanent catastrophe or a disaster in the making.  My father was being his usual easygoing self, relaxed, taking joy in simple things, each moment an opportunity to be real and solid.  The coffee in his cup, his threadbare undershirt and his favorite chair were his tea, saffron robes, and temple.  He was a Presbyterian on census forms and dog tags, and that’s what he’d say if you asked him to state his religion.  But in reality, and what he honestly didn’t realize, was that he was a down-home Taoist, a cornbread Confucius, a Buddha in boxer shorts.

“Maybe not in your lifetime, maybe not the way you want it to, but eventually everything always works out for the best.  How could it not?”

I looked back at him as if he was nuts.  Teenagers always look at parents as if they’re nuts.  But then people usually look at visionaries as if they’re nuts until said visionary is proven right.  And now, looking back, I see that the old man was once again on target.  I can’t even remember what had been worrying me so badly that day.  Whatever it was, it was inconsequential, and it worked itself out for the best on my timeline.  Win a few, lose a few.

I see now that we are all doing the best we can with what we’ve got, from the invisible bacteria on my keyboard to the fish in the sea, from the squirrels in my backyard to the teeming billions aboard floating island Earth, from one end of the cosmos to the other.  Things eat other things, things make friends with other things, things mate with other things and create new things.  Stars are born, shine, grow old, and die.  We’re all making the best decisions we can, working the biggest puzzle you can imagine despite the fact that we can’t seem to put our hands on the stupid box.  Once in a while we fit a couple of pieces together and it feels good.  Other times life’s a jumbled mess.

Only an idiot blames the puzzle when nothing seems to fit.

My old man was right.  The secret is trusting that all the pieces are there and that, in the fullness of time, they’ll fit together into the prettiest damned thing you ever saw.

Travel, Book Recommendation and #CABALFANG #WOD


I’ll be traveling this week, so after today, no WOD posts until next Monday. I did write a post for tomorrow though — not a WOD, but it’s a beauty.  See you next week!

BIKE (Warm-up for 18 mins, then ride AFAYC for 12 minutes, followed by cool down for 10 mins — 40 mins total).

Today’s book recommendation: In the background of the photo above you’ll notice the often joked about “Dark Night of the Soul” by St. John of the Cross. Required reading for anyone pursuing the mystic path, this is a short but deeply moving and important book. Many people seem to think it’s just for those of Catholic faith. It isn’t. Read this powerful little tome and you’ll see why it’s title is now a universal phrase for the ultimate struggle preceding enlightenment.

Atheism, Syntheism, Religion 2.0, etc.

599I’m finally getting around to it — writing my response to an article I read on VICE.com by Rick Paulas called Can an Open Source Religion Work?

Rick opens up guns blazing, firing off criticisms of “gatekeepers” — priests, parsons, rabbis, and imams.  No issues here.  I generally agree that intermediaries only restrict and control the discourse between humans and Deity/God/The All/The Universe.  Often these intermediaries have an agenda.  Power.  Control.  Money making.

He then proceeds to try and answer the question of whether, since Pirate Bay and Twitter are all the rage, we might be able to go open source with the whole religion thing.  He explores Syntheism, Atheism 2.0, and so forth.  In the end, Rick quotes the criticisms of a college professor named O’Leary and arrives at the conclusion that it won’t catch on.

More vital to O’Leary’s skepticism is the lack of mystery, which is inherently woven into the fabric of hierarchy. “Mystery is an integral part of the religious experience, even if it’s experienced purely objectively,” he says. “Magic, mystery, it all goes to support authority.”

Unfortunately, although often true, this statement isn’t always true.  Which basically means that it’s, well, false.  Not your fault Rick.  You just happened to consult with an expert who wasn’t aware of one important exception.

You see, mystery is an important element in an open source religion that has been flourishing for millennia.  It’s called mysticism, and it’s an eclectic, non-denominational mystery religion that anybody can join.  It has no dogmas and no leaders, yet there is no lack of communication.  To quote Louis-Claude Saint-Martin, “All mystics speak the same language, for they come from the same country.”

Simply put, a mystic is someone in pursuit of a direct connection with the Divine. According to the 1911 Britannica, mysticism is “the endeavour of the human mind to grasp the divine essence or the ultimate reality of things, and to enjoy the blessedness of actual communion with the Highest.”

Pythagoras, Saint Teresa of Avila, Saint John of the Cross, Brave New World author Aldous Huxley, Beatles musician George Harrison, psychologist Carl Jung, Evelyn Underhill (author of the definitive work on the subject of mysticism), Allen Ginsberg, and most of the poets who ever lived, were all mystics.

Thanks Rick, for a fascinating article.  I mean that — no sarcasm at all.  Just want you know that there are, have been, and always be people who embrace and explore religion and mystery in a radical, anarchic way. People who use mystery and religion, not as weapons or means of control, but as tools to open the mind.

These people are called “mystics.”

The Potential Enlightenment in Cultural Mania

Willa Paskin at Slate poses a very good question, and sums up her subject nicely, when she says, “Humans have always been obsessed with things. Tulips and Twin Peaks and the Beatles did pretty well in their day. But adults used to obsess about things in a more steadfast manner, by having long-term interests known as hobbies…Why are we getting hysterically excited about very good but not hugely original cultural products seemingly every other month? Why have we turned into compulsive obsession-seekers?”

She offers what seem to be plausible explanations.  She points out that social media makes things seem more popular than they actually are because all of your Facebook friends are as obsessed as you are.  Paskin is right.  I poked around and found out that 30 million people watched the regular season Seinfeld episode “The Soup.”  Twenty years later, only 3.5 million watched the season finale of True Detective.   The truth is, everybody wasn’t talking about True Detective.  When everybody was talking about Seinfeld, everybody was actually talking about Seinfeld.

But just because she’s right about some facts doesn’t mean she’s really onto something.  If data were truth, there wouldn’t be separate degrees in Sociology and Statistics.

Maybe we are on the cusp of a realization.  Perhaps our psyches, stretched as thin as celluloid and cell phone screen protectors, are about to make a breakthrough.  After all, isn’t it always darkest before dawn?

In times past, Keats obsessed on the images on an urn, Pope upon a pastoral scene, and we obsessed on those poets.  But the book, while not dead, is dying, and with it the poet.  Ten thousand years ago there were no books.  But there were flowers, and I’m sure someone was obsessing on them.  Our screens have become our books and flowers.  Up through the concrete sprouts a colorful little thing called True Detective and a group of hominids crouch down, grunt, stare and point.

Is it possible that some of us are about to realize that enlightenment is in the details?  That anything can be meditated upon, and that meditation leads to deeper realizations about one’s place in the universe?

The problem is of course that flowers and poems don’t move and talk.  Movies, TV shows and YouTube videos are more likely to distract the eye and overload the mind.  Moving faces literally speak to us in ways that flowers and urns cannot.   Still, isn’t it possible that some individuals, after a few decades of drifting from one obsession to the next, are about to detect and break a pattern?

Is it possible that some of us are about to realize that it is time to stop, sit quietly, and meditate on the beauty of an actual flower rather than upon the flickering image of one?

“When you study natural science…”

“When you study natural science & the miracles of creation, if you don’t turn into a mystic you’re not a natural scientist.” #Hoffman #quote

Daring Toward Infinity

wpid-20140824_123511.jpg‘I will only admit the Infinite when it shall have been explained, determined, circumscribed, and defined for my benefit; in one word, when it has become finite. I will then believe in the Infinite when I am sure that the Infinite does not exist. I will believe in the vastness of the ocean when I shall have seen it put into bottles.’ (Eliphas Levi, as quoted by S. L. MacGregor Mathers in The Kabbalah Unvelied)

The continuum of experience is a perfect circle.  To make a graph of the various views of the universe, place your pencil on paper.  Here is the mind of a new-born baby, lacking discernment, skepticism, and even language.  Moving in a clockwise direction, begin drawing your circle.  As your pencil moves you chart the progress of the baby’s mind.

At about a quarter of the way you reach that childish stage most people never leave: educated enough to know better, but still clinging to some kind of vague superstition that there must be something more to existence than the humdrum and everyday reality assailing all of us on every side.  Continue to draw your circle.  Watch as the mind becomes filled with language and knowledge, becoming ever more skeptical and exposed to the ways of the world.  When your circle is half done, when you’ve reached the opposite, most-distant point from where you started your drawing, you have found the point where the most cynical of skeptics resides.  These are the ones Levi speaks of in the quote above.

But as you resume your drawing, you chart the progress of those rare persons who dare to go further.  Some use science to move forward — theoretical physics, cosmology, deep ecology, etc.  Others employ art, religion, mysticism, psychedelics, meditation, and so on.  As your pencil moves onward, you will plot the progress of Sagan, Einstein, Jensen, Campbell, Spare, Jung, Ginsberg, Fortune, and so on.  Finally your pencil reaches the beginning and your circle is complete.

Using whatever methods you prefer, I encourage you to dare to go beyond the half-way point.  Brave the quest for infinity.

You can, if you desire, reach the end — the place where newborn babes, mystics, prophets and physicists join hands — which is also where you began.

With a mystic’s open mind, you can experience the ultimate reality.


You are God, and You are with God