By Apuleius Charlton
Special guest blogger
Wilson writes during Chapter 11: “[m]any have turned on the neurosomatic circuit due to prolonged illness, especially if they grow impatient with doctors and resort to self medication and/or faith-healing. The bathroom of Nietzsche, according to Stefan Zweig, looked “like a pharmacy shop,” due to the large number of drugs and medicines with which the philosopher treated his chronic migraines. Gurdjieff employed cocaine, hashish and yoga techniques (probably including pranayama) to treat the incessant and increasing pains resultant from his war wounds and two car accidents. The “harshness” of these two philosophers, their contempt for ordinary human suffering, their visions of the superhuman state beyond emotion and pain, all probably derived from neurosomatic Turn Ons alternating with acute pain. That is, they experienced the whole of evolution from the lower circuits to the full development of neurosomatic bliss, and were expressing chiefly contempt for their own relapse into less-than-blissful consciousness.”
As someone who has been trying to engender the state of being that Leary and Wilson code as the eight-circuit model and monkeying around the Tree of Life for the past fourteen years, I don’t think that I have much problems triggering the fifth circuit; it is the transition back to less-than-blissful consciousness that still haunts and binds me. Therefore, my main exercises, that I am merely laying the foundation for, have been driven towards balancing the blissful and less pleasant modes of consciousness/who I am right now. Pranayama and the other techniques discussed in the chapter work well for getting on the ride- I am now chiefly concerned with maintaining the thrills and chills of fifth circuit consciousness when I find myself stuck in the realm of the terrestrial four.
(I don’t mean to propose that I have fully explored or understand the fifth circuit, just that I am familiar with some aspects of it. I am, as I mentioned during my last post, unable to get over my third circuit priggishness to really grok the self-healing abilities that Wilson speaks so highly of in this chapter.)
After the first four-five years of studying occultism and Wilson, I turned myself over to the analysis of a practitioner of psychosynthesis who diagnosed me with ongoing existential pain. As someone who was quite happy to pretend I had overcome the existential crisis of adolescence, I was disappointed to hear this. But he was correct. So I followed the techniques of psychosynthesis to try to bring together the disparate parts of myself or my selves and weave them into a workable whole. The success or failure of this effort is still being decided as my life progresses. One technique, which I have never forgotten but have neglected, is “simply” (somehow) meaningfully grounding the experiences of the “higher” realms of consciousness into the more prevalent world of everyday consciousness. Like most magical/mystical practices, you can read about examples of grounding techniques, but experimentation and innovation are always going to be your best bet for success. The inspiration for what I need to do to synch up my different states of being came from comments left by Oz while I was kvetching about the internet and information-overload during some of my more recent posts.
Aside from pranayama, one of the techniques that Crowley is absolutely sincere about is the efficacy of the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram which he calls “the Medicine of Metals and the Stone of the Wise.” It is generally one of the first things a student of ceremonial magic learns and therefore can easily be overlooked as “basic” or even dull. That is the arrogance of a little experience…forgetting that without basics, there is very little to build or stand upon. Oz’s gentle reminder that techniques like the Lesser Ritual are quite effective when employed regularly served as a jolt from an acceptance of the “horror” of the modern world to a reminder that I have been neglecting the most important measures of making sure I am up to the task of dealing with the day-to-day. Performing something as rudimentary as the Lesser Ritual regularly is like brushing my teeth, as my psychosynthesis teacher would say; it doesn’t feel like much at the time, but boy does it make a difference.
Like Nietzsche and Gurdjieff, people can confuse Crowley’s philosophy with “harshness.” I have never understood how, despite their many uncouth jabs at conventional life and the clusterfuck of society, people interpret the works of writers like Crowley as anything other than an overly-honest attempt to do some demonstrable good for the rest of the human race. Crowley, Nietzsche, Gurdjieff were acutely aware of the pains and miseries of quotidian human existence; there would be no reason for the Herculean efforts to overcome that existence otherwise, and endeavored to free who they could from their “mind-forged chains.” Aside from chronic migraines and war wounds, we all bear the brunt of the sheer inconvenience of existence. Reading the works of these philosophers and holy men can help us diagnose our problems and articulate why the everyday world isn't that much fun. Yet, it simply does not do to ignore the constant emphasis on practice along with theory. That’s what I’m trying to remind myself right now -- being a student doesn’t end.
Nice post. Bob Wilson used the alchemical expression "the multiplication of the first matter" for sustaining and enhancing the fifth circuit experience.
Thank-you for the great blog. The residents of the Abbey of Thelema in Sicily used the Lesser Pentagram for their daily ritual.
I don't remember where I read that Leary considered C5 volatile - very easy to fall back into the terrestrial circuits. The model used by some Sufi-types calls it "the waking state" when transcending the lower circuits, i.e. awake as opposed to sleep. Similar to what you write, Apuleius, I told them I could get into the waking state without a problem but couldn't stay there consistently, and fell out easily. I asked how to get and stay there more regularly and received the answer: they got a job that required the waking state to do that job.
Spookah, thank-you for providing a Christian Science link in your comment last week. I couldn't find any exercises on that site, a magazine called the Christian Science Sentinel. Maybe different exercises show up in their articles, I didn't check this out.
In philosophy, considering contradictory perspectives gets called dialectic. Dialectic intends to come to some sort of resolution of the contradictions. I advised the participants of my Magick seminar to learn to like and embrace paradox. Us fans of Gilles Deleuze consider The Logic of Sense an important book of philosophy. In the Preface: From Lewis Carroll to the Stoics Deleuze writes: "[W]e present here a series of paradoxes which form the theory of sense."
Thank you Eric Wagner for suggesting Stephen Hirtenstein last week. I watched his lecture on Ibn’ Arabi ‘The Alchemy of Human Happiness’. He tells how in the book, two fellow travelers are going about their journey, one with a mystical and open mindset, the other purely rational and apparently sort of dismissive of new input or data. This reminded me once again of the two different approaches for the quarter exercizes.
Apparently an important episode of Ibn’ Arabi’s life was, when unconscious due to sickness, he was brought back to his senses thanks to his father reciting prayers. This can link to the topic of faith healing.
Apuleius, I feel like Wilson gently mocks the “third circuit priggishness” you are talking about, with his rant on Rationalists. He does give us an explanation of sorts about self-healing, mentioning endorphins (‘which gives us the beginning of a neuro-chemical explanation of how such healing operates’). But I suspect that his insistence on Christian Science might be a way to help deprogram C3 reflexes of looking for rational or materialist solutions to anything. Perhaps another aspect of model agnosticism would be to learn how to juggle with the Circuits, being able to let one of them be in charge for a while, without having your usual favorite circuit trying to take over at all costs. Using reason to try an explain C5 ‘miracles’ would be once again like ‘sending a message to the wrong address’.
I decided to take seriously the Christian Science exercize for this exact reason, to try and decondition myself a bit. And if it does not ‘work’ for me and I still catch colds, at least I will know that from direct experience.
Oz Fritz, now I am curious, would you say that you see your daily job as a sound engineer as a way to stay in this ‘waking state’? After all, you deal with music, which RAW praises in this chapter.
Most welcome, Spookah. I love that video.
The Christian Science link I provided was the one RAW gave during the MLA. 18 years later, perhaps their website has changed vastly. I did find it a bit confusing, not being sure what I was looking at.
I get my daily exercizes from A Course In Miracles, even though once again it is not strictly speaking Christian Science.
I maintain a Stoic reality tunnel, which I am currently working on strengthening in order to show better resilience in life. I find that in some ways Stoicism overlap with Taoism. I turn to Stoicism for the more practical aspects of dealing with everyday affairs, while Taoism can deepen the philosophical ponderings that arise from a Stoic attitude. At least, that is my general view of it.
Without having read the preface you mention, bringing Lewis Carroll to the mix makes it sounds like something that could be close to Discordianism.
The Christian Science Quarterly gives the Bible readings and readings from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures for each week with the intention that the reader do these readings every day. You can order the Quarterly here: https://quarterly.christianscience.com/ .
@Oz- I'm curious what careers they gave of examples of ones where you'd have to be in the waking state. In "Stranger Than We Can Imagine" Higgs talks about Colin Wilson's experience of "peak consciousness," he seems to like the term "flow state," which the non-RAW Wilson believed was triggered by states of extreme concentration. So I wonder if high-risk jobs would be better for engendering the waking/flow state. When I am actually teaching (lecturing) I feel very different from the moments when I am merely monitoring my students. I very much prefer discussion to any other form of imparting knowledge.
@Spookah- You make an excellent point, and I'll admit I am admonished. I do think I'll keep with my magic regimen- that requires plenty suspension of belief as is. I have always struggled with my "rational" side versus what I really want and an old girlfriend said I'm terribly dismissive of magic for how much it means to me.
Spookah, working with music, particularly when striving for creativity, seems naturally to bring about the attempt to get into a waking state. However, the job of sound engineering/music producing can get done, and often does get done in some form of "sleep."
One can likely find some overlaps between Deleuze and Discordianism though it seems impossible to speak of Deleuzeism. The very first Deleuze commentator I read said he attempts a Theory Of Everything(TOE). Maybe Discordians have a foot in the door?
Rarebit Fiend, no examples of such careers came up or got presented. Your mention of the Higgs book reminds me that when I asked a question about getting a job of that nature, Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land got brought up in the resulting discussion shortly after I got asked "Who are you?" Perhaps Valentine Michael Smith had such a job? I really don't know. A job concerns where you go to work or what you do for work. The Gurdjieff lineage talks about getting into The Work, Crowley, ever the poet, calls it The Great Work. Gurdjieff wrote about entities he called All-Quarters Maintainers in Beelzebub.
In Anti-Oedipus, Volume 1 of Capitalism and Schizophrenia by Deleuze and Guattari, they change the metaphor of the Freudian unconscious as theater - everything in the unconscious symbolizes and represents something in the drama of your life - to a metaphor of the unconscious as a factory that produces something, something connected with one's deepest desires. That metaphor seems aligned with "Do what thou wilt."
I'm not trying to be coy or willfully obscure. It seems you get given fragments or pieces of the puzzle that you then put together as best you can. I've encountered quite a lot of military metaphors (the war on sleep; Deleuze's war machine; the first part of chapter 3 from The Book of the Law, etc.). Perhaps this job simply means taking responsibility to "be all that you can be?"
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