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We humans are a bunch of chatter boxes. We love to talk and write; to share ideas and opinions. Sometimes it’s for the sake of feeling, as when we attempt to say or write, or hear or read, something beautiful. Other times it’s a way of convincing one’s self they are right about something, whereas others are clearly wrong. Of course, there are other reasons for expressing thoughts.

The thing that most people overlook, though, is this:

Language is magick*.

(And yes, this does relate to awakening.)

I’ll show you a very clear example of why language is essentially a form of magick. Let’s say we’re having a conversation over lunch and you tell me, “You know, my mother is just so wonderful. She’s always been there for me. Even last week she gave me some money to fix my car, without my even having to ask. What a saint, she is!”

What if, in response, I was to look you dead in the eye and say, “Your mother is a filthy whore who deserves to rot in hell!”

Most people, upon hearing these words, will have an immediate felt emotional and physical response. It could be anger or rage. It could be sadness, or surprise, or confusion. Each has its matching physical experience. And it’s this experiential result that gives language its magical power.

In short, what you say and what you hear (what you write and what you read) can influence your experience. And magick is about having an experience. Or, more specifically, as Alan Chapman puts it, magick is about experiencing truth.

Actually, let’s take an excerpt from Alan’s free ebook Three Steps to Heaven: How to practice magick:

Magick is the art of experiencing truth. In other words, you can choose any experience (say, dancing around in your underpants), and decide what that experience will mean (‘It will rain’), undergo the experience (perform the dance), thus rendering the given meaning true (It will rain, because you’ve experienced the fact ‘it will rain’. Experience is the truth). […] What can be experienced by magick is limited only by your imagination (the subjective), but how that experience manifests is limited by the available means of manifestation (the objective). [Italics his.]

Going back to the example of my cruel words about your mother during lunch, we can see that magick was indeed at work. There was no need to decide beforehand what hearing my words would mean to you. You had already made up your mind about the words “filthy whore” and “burn in hell” long before our conversation. So, the experience the hearing those words, while having already determined what those words mean and how such words would make you feel, resulted in an experience of whatever physical, emotional, and cognitive events that followed. My saying, “Your mother is a filthy whore who deserves to rot in hell!” was, basically, a spell. And it’s hard to find a situation where such a spell doesn’t produce the intended result.

We are using this kind of word-magick on ourselves and others constantly. Whether we are saying words to others, or speaking privately to ourselves in our minds, what we say or think, as well as the meanings we’ve given to each experience of hearing them, will result in some kind of experiential result. In this way, words really matter.

Until they don’t anymore…

That’s the funny thing about magick. The best way to learn how to break a spell is to also know how to cast one. It’s much easier to take something apart if you know how to put it together.

My previous post was all about learning to deceive yourself for the sake of awakening. In said post, I wrote, “When you bring this unconscious process out into the open air of conscious awareness, you can then learn to use it to your advantage. But maybe I’ll save the details for another post…” Well, now I’ve given some of those details.

The same way that the only way to really know how to break a spell is to know how to cast one, the only way to truly stop deceiving yourself is to learning how to deceive yourself – and quite convincingly! Learn to manipulate your own feelings by using different words to describe events. Learn to make yourself feel depressed by conjuring up mental images that make you sad or lonely. Then, picture a smiling loved one and see how it lifts your mood. Say to yourself, “You deserve to be happy and awake!” and smile. Then, say to yourself, “You will never awaken. There is no such thing. Life is completely meaningless,” and then hang your head and frown. Really buy into it, but pay attention at the same time. Watch as the magick of words and images takes you on a ride.

You may think the next step in this process is to simply learn which things make you feel happy and just make an effort to keep those things in mind, while pushing everything else out. You would be wrong.

The reason for this is because the result of any single act of magick is limited. It comes, and then it goes, like everything else of this world, or of any world.

The point, then, is not to use magick to feel happy. The point is to use magick against itself, to turn the tables. For, magick is what keeps us locked into our deluded egoic state. But it’s not the fault of magick, but rather, our own lack of cunning awareness. You can’t blame the thorns for keeping you bound if you’re the one who wandered into them with your eyes closed.

Instead, we can use a thorn to remove a thorn, and then discard them both.

*DISCLAIMER: I admit, I am no expert in the science and praxis of magick. The only area in which I claim any mastery is in the path of awakening, which I understand to be an inherently magical process. It is the one application where my experience carries any weight.

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The source – the knowing nature – is not a self. It is not a self because for it to be a self it would have to be able to possess something, anything, as “mine.” There can be no “me” without “mine.”

Talking about the knowing nature as though it is pure or impure is beside the point. The source is not unlike an innocent bystander which is co-opted through a great confusion that leads to the generation of suffering. Suffering is not uncaused. It is not intrinsic to reality.

Thoughts are powerfully deceptive. They form images which are known via the source, and which confuse themselves as the source. The thoughts think they are the ones who know. And from here it all goes downhill. Confusing that which knows and lasts with that which is incapable of knowing in and of itself, which is also that which is in constant change – birth, aging, illness, and death – they delude themselves into thinking there is a continuity of self from moment to moment of conditioned arising. All this is possible because of the knowing nature and its neutral, unbiased position.

It is the mind’s ability to fabricate that is both its damnation and salvation. When it remains ignorant of its own power, life is hell. When its wakes up to its own power, it can be turned against itself. It can realize all of the pain and suffering it causes itself; how futile the self-preservation-mode really is.

And as the mind becomes less infatuated with itself, it comes to see that the knowing nature need not be subject to this madness. It has been used for suffering when it has the potential to be the home of radical freedom. It is both the means and the end of awakening.

If you want to know a way to figure this out quickly, learn to deceive yourself intentionally! Imagine something you want, and notice how your mind and body respond. Picture something terrible, something you would never want to see happen, and observe what happens to the quality of experience. Then notice how no matter how long you try to sustain either scenario, each will die.

No state lasts forever. It takes too much energy. The mind gets bored and moves on to something else. When it does, pay attention to the way it happens! I thought arises, and the mind delights in the thought, and a new self is born. For example, when meditation becomes difficult, you may think, “Why am I meditating when it’s so painful. This meditation stuff doesn’t even work. I’m going to be happy just being myself and doing the things I like.” This thought let you off the hook. The burden of meditation relieved, you sigh with relief and go about your life, utterly deceived once again… That is, until life is seen for the mess of suffering it can be. Then you will think, “I’m going to meditate and get rid of this suffering!” Then the meditator is reborn, and the enthusiasm and delight return. How tricky, this mind!

When you bring this unconscious process out into the open air of conscious awareness, you can then learn to use it to your advantage. But maybe I’ll save the details for another post

The first step on this path of practice, which is simply a path to here, is recognizing the difference between the knowing nature and that which is known. This distinction won’t always matter. It’s not some absolute truth to cling to. It’s just a step in the right direction. It sucks the power out of illusion by turning it back on itself. This cannot, should not, be under-emphasized. I hope this point is quite clear. If you haven’t made this first step, you’re still stuck in the thorn bushes.

Take the first step.

One of the unique abilities of an awakened individual such as myself is the ability to know the minds of others. I don’t mean that all awakened people can read your thoughts (though, I don’t doubt that some can). What I mean is that I can have a conversation with someone – hell, I can even just overhear a conversation between others – and know after a short time just where they’re as far as proximity to awakening is concerned. Actually, it’s more like knowing just where they’re stuck.

Hearing someone speak is not different from hearing them think. Thinking, after all, is internal speaking. I’m told you can actually see the transition from when a child is somewhat unable to keep their thoughts to themselves, to being able to keep quiet – all while being able to see that their wheels are still turning. Most people don’t share all of the content of their internal speaking, mostly for social reasons (“If I could be arrested for my thoughts, they’d lock me up!”). But their style of speech is the same on the inside as it is on the outside, and the content doesn’t vary that much.

In that regard, I’m not receiving any information that you can’t receive as well. You can hear the same stuff I hear. But, you see, I’ve already unraveled the speech knot. I know, in an excruciatingly intimate way, just how certain kinds of thinking represent certain ways of being “stuck.” I learned to undo them for myself, so I know what someone needs to hear in order to remove the blockage… that is, if they accept the challenge to challenge their sticky thoughts.

The thoughts that keep us tangled in the dream world are basically what we might refer to as common sense. Common sense is particularly nefarious because it gallivants around completely unchallenged for the most part. And the most diabolical form of common sense thinking comes to us as assertions of “I,” of “me,” and of “mine.” In each case, there is an assumption of lack. If “I am” is assumed, then there must be something “I” can keep and hold as “mine.” But nothing could be further from the truth. Nothing at all is belongs to a “me.” But our assumption leads to a tremendous about of unnecessary suffering the expenditure of copious amounts of vital energy. We’re tired, we’re scared, we’re pissed off – all because we think we can actually “have” something.

Do you know what the most common thing people tend to think that they have? It’s insanely tautological; a heap of recursive nonsense. It is this: “I” think “I” have a unique personality. But this personality is who “I” am, from this point of view. “I have an ‘I’, OK! And I need you to respect and appreciate my ‘I’, or I’ll hate you!” Of course, this comes out, in common speech, as, “You need accept, appreciate, and respect ‘me’!”

I’m not advocating disrespect and rejection. If you think so, you’re missing the point. The point is that the assumption that one’s personality is somehow who they are, and that it needs to be defended, and that they can be damaged when someone says something bad about it, or doesn’t go along with its desires… that’s spiritual pathology. And this is what I hear all the time, day to day, in any social encounter I find myself in. It comes out in external speech.

There’s not need to try and throw a big bucket of freezing cold truth in the face of someone who holds some nutty common sense personality-view. That kind of act is very oppositional, and I question the motives of anyone who think it’s their job to cut down someone’s ego. The desire to cut anything down is itself an act of ego. It’s better to believe you have a self and be kind than to delude yourself into some kind of no-self-view (which is really a self-view in disguise), and then go around trying to castrate the selves of those around you. Again, not the point.

I find it much more practical to meet someone where they are at. Instead of throwing a whole new system of concepts their way, I like to keep things closer to home. For example, I was introduced to a friend of a friend last weekend. In getting to know him, I found out that he studied political science in college. The topic of political affiliation came up, and he said to me, “You know, it’s best not to associate with any ’ism’ or party or anything like that.” This statement is reasonable enough. A lot of people get stuck in their “isms,” (e.g. Marxism, Libertarianism, Progressivism, Conservatism, etc.) and are therefore too tightly affiliated with a particular group or teaching. But I knew from the way he said it that, although he had detached from needing to have a label- an “ism,” – he was stuck in the land of no-label, to the point of being turned-off or repulsed by the very idea of having an “ism” of his own. And yet, holding tightly to his position of no-position is precisely what isolates him, what keeps him separate and partial and divided. So, I said to him, “Yeah. So, do you think there’s an ‘ism’ that could be applied to those of us who hate ‘isms’?” At that moment I could see his wheels turning, just like the above description of the child. He said, “Uh, I don’t know. I guess there could be!” We had a good laugh about it, and then our conversation moved on to other things. You may not be able to recognize the significance of this, or maybe you can. But, by participating in this seemingly insignificant exchange of ideas, this guy got one step closer to the waking up.

And at the risk of sounding like a cheesy infomercial, SO CAN YOU! Most people are not awake, because most people do not practice. Those who practice well, and practice all the way to the end, wake up. You can consider the “knowing the minds of others” ability a nice perk after a job well done.