“Meditation is the Mediating Majik of the Middle-Hand Path”

Again, as with my previous post, I simply hop into a stream of thought, this time a clarity arose during a formal and focused meditation that specifically aimed to cut through distractions and reveal a natural quietude of mind. A very specific idea arose (which may also be considered a distraction, but, only if it draws my attention away from a focus on truth / truthfulness / salience / Dharma), that in my dealings with the academic field, the professional field, and the religious, spiritual, occult & magickal fields, if a contemplative practice is lacking, there tends to be a greater perpetuation toward distraction and consequently a toiling disconnected distantiation (vis a vis in excess of estrangement and/or ignorance). I am not positing a dire negative, the phenomenon elucidated here is simply the experiential disposition of confusion (and distortion), a confusion of miscommunication with the Other (i.e. that which is presented outside one’s Self – which may be other people, foreign notions, and even tangible objects; which may be either an overwhelming identification with everything, or an underwhelming identification with nothing).

Earlier, in seated meditation, I bore witness to the stream of my distractions that I have been building up throughout the day, and spilling over from the last few months. Having practiced meditation for about 13 years now, I found it fairly easy to rest into a meditative cool, meaning that the mind-of-awareness could discriminate through the surface chatter and passing thoughts, watching and delving into an open horizon of awareness. A deep warm sensation arose from my hara (where my hands were resting in the dhyana/meditation mudra/gesture) and gradually ascended up into my  heart-area (anahata chakra). As I sit listening to the focussed space in and around me, an echoing reassurance seemingly called from the chambers of my heart, saying “sit strong in your majik, this is it”. [Note, I am deliberately using figurative language to express a narrative, not detract the reader’s attention into a mystical ineffability – it is merely a means, not a frolicking folly].

I let the feeling marinade and simmer for a bit, unexcited, undeterred, still holding to the seated meditation. Upon completion I thanked and dedicated the meditation to the wellbeing of all and took to this idea; as it became apparent as a key feature of my kinetic pending PhD research project. The echo gestated (as it has been coming a while) into this statement, that “meditation is the mediating majik of the middle-hand path”. I ask forgiveness that I have not yet discussed majik nor the middle-hand path, but again, begging your patience, it will all add up eventually, so entertain me your fizzy ears for a moment please.

First, what I have noticed, is that meditation is often lacking as a core integrative mediation between knowledge and experience, between holding a view and applying that view, between theory and practice. Initially  I am astounded that most forms of educational processes do not include a contemplative practice & platform as part of a curriculum, be this pedagogical (practice of teaching and learning), androgogical (teaching and learning mostly adult centred), pedandrogogical (combination of pedagogy and androgogy), heautogogical (self-determined learning), and so forth. I am not including the shedras, ashrams, madrasas, monasteries etc. in this reasoning, but rather in reflection on our academic and vocational institutions, as well as in the hidden curriculums inside and outside the institute, and generally from the microsystems to macrosystems of our bio-ecology.

Secondly, meditation offers a unprovoked means to transmute knowledge into wisdom, just as vocational practice transmutes knowledge into experience; the difference here is that the transmutation integrates depth, weight, and insightful girth into one’s existential experience. I offer an example here: through the use of meditation I learned to adopt, among other virtues, a sense of patience, equanimity, and patience; these helped me adapt to fluctuations of frustration, hype, confusion, and anxiety. Further simplifying this example into more practical terms: I know that if I get into a conversation about recent politics I may respond without insight and only perpetuate more confused thinking, or I avoid to make the bed in the morning, skip a face-wash, and ignore the toothbrush because it is already 8am and the day is moving along only to find that I have become a slob with a messy room, bad breath (and possible tooth decay), and a dishevelled face; much later to learn that I have become lazy, uninspired, and trackless. Haha, this sounds dark,,, again, only an example, and even if things get dark, these things are also meditative reminders that beside all the dramas of up-and-down, there is still space to smile. Anyway, to the point, meditation reminds you of the little things (like brushing your teeth is a healthy habit but not the end-all) and the big thing (that you are already awake to the awe of existence).

This leads me to a third point I wish to make, touching on the notion of majik, majik is meditation, but not necessarily as we think of it, majik is an intuitive sense of meditation in our current presence that influences and affects the world at play. [Note: I will discuss the actual use of the word majik, and why I am moving away from the word magic and magick, in an up coming post].

To explain and discuss this point, I return myself to an early narrative of my involvement with the Grey School of Wizardry and the general magickal community. Back in 2011, I had just discovered that the role and place of the wizard resonated with me, it gave me a sense of completion I could not entirely find in any other avenue of exploration I tried before (essentially and ironically as it encompassed all avenues that appealed to me); but one thing struck me about the magickal community in general, there was plenty of emphasis on ideas, practices, and even certain ethics, but the wisdom of wizardry was often lost to tales of lore, and impressions of magickal laws, and meditation as a magickal practice was kind of lacking in insightful depth. I saw the same thing in the academic field, plenty of theory, ideologies, how-tos, but very little in terms of developing engaged insight and depth in the learned experience. Majik, here, is an intuitive creativity, and spontaneous insight, that is tapped into through unprovoked, easing and effortless meditation.

I have been and am still involved in Religious Studies, and as you have glimpsed in my previous post on stepping away from brandishing a Theological Biblical Worldview, and calling forth the wizard or religiosophologist, I truly believe there is plenty of space and scope to develop and evolve the conventional tradition of Religious Studies as either having a descriptive phenomenological standard or a paradigmatic agenda (be it queer, political, feminist, postmodern, etc.); I ask, where are the experiential narratives of those who pose as Religious scholars? Is there wisdom in the practices that you preach?  and do you have a contemplative practice to integrate not only wisdom, but to critically discriminate and creatively assess whether there is wisdom at all to be had, and whether you hypothetically have it? I read many articles that analyse case studies of meditation, or speak of religious-spiritual-magickal phenomenologies; but I do not hear the authors themselves,,, not enough that is (bearing that some narratives and auto-ethnographies are taking shape).

This is said (not in any belittling way) as a beacon for growth, that the so-called majik to be experienced, is an ability for the ‘practitioner’ to either step back from too much theory or too much practice into the middle of contemplative integration. A dance between extremes, a play between spoken and unspoken communications, a freedom of creativity and regality of discipline. To meditate is to formally acknowledge and actively engage in one’s presence as interconnected exponential presence beyond oneself through one’s Self as Other… 😉 I reckoning I am going all cryptogenetic on your swelling memetics! (i.e. blowing your minds) 😀 I have been accused of worst.

I will picture this in an example to conclude my thinking: in a world where there is pressure to succeed, pressure to conform, pressure to preform, there is a confined impression that space for freedom to express, to be as you are, to step out of the box, is not readily available,,, well this does not have to be so. Religious Scholars can be Shamans-Priests-Yogis-Monks-Wizards – they do not have to confine themselves to the designation of scholar alone (unless that is good enough for them). People can be magickal, if they are willing to listen and take time to quieten-down so that they can hear,,, who knows, maybe they receive a calling to wizardry (albeit becoming a moustache twirling barista, a psycho-shamanic program developer, a happening-witchy translator/interpreter, an empathic funeral director, a tantric-warrior sex/relationship coach, a polymathic mystic teacher,,, and and and). Tap into a bit of meditation (which does not have to be complex and intricate) to see what majik you already contain. 😉

Okay, that is enough for now… what dreams may come.

Be blessed, as you already are.

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“FYI, I am a religiosophologist, not a Theologian, thanks…”

Even though I have been saving my first “middle-hand path” post for something a bit more seminal and descriptive; an intuitive inclination lead me to a comment on a common social-narrative I have had to deal with since my starting-days in the academic field of Religious Studies; namely to rectify a confusion of referring to me as a Theologian due to my involvement in Religious Studies.

Contextually I would not say that this is necessarily a problem all Religious Studies scholars experience, and I hint that this is more the case in countries with lesser developed academic cultures or slow-progressive world-views. Okay, I guess I am peeved that after about 10 years, the ignorance generally still runs high in South Africa… and to make matters even more curious, the assumptions of my so-called Theological nature, come from Theologians, students of Theology, and people who don’t know that Religious Studies is a stand-alone (Human Sciences) field of research and practice – more a keen to Philosophy, Sociology, Anthropology, yada yada, with its own rich modern history.

This post is firstly a complaint (simply as a means to vent), and secondly to arouse some insight into difference, and thirdly to announce what I prefer to associate with (namely the Religiosophologist – which I will explain shortly).

First, my complaint. It is not once nor twice, that a person (be she/he – mostly ‘she’s’) delightfully considered me to a Theologian just because I responded to the “what do you study?” with a “Religious Studies” on which the reply often is “fantastic, you should join our mission… who is your missionary leader or with which cell group are you?”. If I were a blatant a-religionist I would not respond kindly to such assumptions (not to mention the blatant expectation that I will start brandishing Jerusalem-Cruiser sandals, a tucked plead shirt, and arms akimbo – with the ever present phantom Bible waiting to slip into the folds of my arms – naturally, I merely kid about these stereotypes). If anything, mostly from my supposed ‘Buddhist’ comportment, I listen to the person conversing over me, and respond with critical kindness. I think my role here is mostly to inject a sense of question behind the abject blind and often righteous purpose that drives most Theological attitudes (specifically pointing to Missionary science and Abrahamic-centred socio-cognitive paradigms). I do smile with sincerity when Theology scholars approach me with the honorific “Man of God” or “Child of Jesus” and some such lifted-titles. I do not take entire offence to such honors,,, after all, these are merely incited insights albeit ignorant of the person who I am and my own religious and secular history; I rather see such assumptions as a bit of divine-pride that lacks critical thinking and a broadening perception of the world lived in (really asking, where is the essence of your contemplative life at?)

Others who I come into conversation with, be it at a party, or inter-disciplinarily, also often have the assumption that I am a Theologian when asking me the cliché “what do you do?” and I respond with, “I am a Religious Studies scholar”. This has consequently lead me to suffix a few conditioned responses, like the negative particle “but I am not a theologian” or a more positive particle “I specialise in Contemplative Practices,,, Buddhism,,, Mysticism,,, the Occult,,,). At this point I reckon it needed to clarify that the science of Theology is not bound to Christianity (it has its Islamic and Judaic contingency) and does investigate phenomena of religious experience par excellence – but it is often and mostly done so from a Christo-centric worldview. Where Religious Studies or Religion Studies leans more toward the Humanities Qualitative/Quantitative approaches to the study of religion (be it from a philosophical, psychological, sociological,,, perspective) and it is by no means bound to Christianity or any Theological worldview.

So a response I have been playing around with more recently is something closer to a vocation I can resonate with. A technical neologism I have recently adapted is the word Religiosophologist, roughly constructed of ‘religio-‘ (as a recollective return to,,, or a bringing back over – which I associate with the practice/ritual of repetition), and -sophology (being the study of wisdom); together this word roughly translates as the study of religious wisdom – which may also indicate a favour to the practices that generate gnostic / mystic insight. Yet, from a Buddhist standpoint, my intention is not to get lost in flowery poetics, but to be elucidate the essence beneath the romantic appeal of the mystical and gnostic, later to be naturally born in the flowery poetics (simply as a means to communicate wisdom). I could have gone with Religiosopher or Religiosophist, but both these titles create too much of a fixed elevated identity, I feel that religiosophologist calls on a vocation, it is a process, and I am merely in communion with this process. Okay this said, when people hear me refer to myself in such an otherwise abstract amalgamation of words, I am often faced with looks of confusion or laissez faire. Naturally this can spin off into a bit more explanation – a responsibility I am willing to accept – one that comes with an intention to dispel ignorance – the responsibility of an educator – not to convince, but to guide towards an enlightenment and illumination. And, it becomes fairly straight forward to explain away the assumption of being accused of Theology, when you recognise your own “calling” into a meta-sphere of vast and differing (often seemingly contradictory) realities, that I basically chose to learn, contemplate, and integrate the wisdom found in religion – which is by no means designated to a Religious Birthday Suit – the birthday suit is fantastically naked, fresh, and salient without the often confusing additional layers of religiosity.

Taking on a beacon of difference (contra Theologian – and even that of the astute traditional Religious Studies scholar), the religiosophologist is also a pseudonym for the fantasy-fiction benched “wizard” (wise one, adviser). I have used this reference several times before, and it sits quite nicely in my being, but does not often taste of seriousness in the mouths of others,,, although they quickly notice that my own absurd-seriousness of the matter seems either like madness or a concerted presence of insight into a very different reality of reality. Here I take the stand that I acknowledge the limits of the philosophical world-views we hold to or use to picture our reality,,, it is simply not enough, and creates merely another layer of ignorance – which consequently clouds the means in which we communicate (directly) with each other and our lifeworlds. The insult of being called a Theologian is contextually bound to an ignorant assumption that I limit myself to a religious belief, but its compliment comes from a co-mutual acknowledgment that I do not bind myself to a life of mundanity or superficial things alone (but respect depth and the contemplative) – this is the challenge of opening perceptions along with one’s own and not believing that one’s answer is alone the answer… I guess, this is the foundation of a good spiritual-philosophical practice, to try and test even the perceptions we feel good with, and those we feel averted to.

Maybe this post becomes a call to reconsider what a Theologian supposedly is, the underlying constructs of the vocations we identify with, and simply to question / learn / listen a bit more widely before jumping to conclusions. In fact, what is a Theological practice (and any practice for that matter – be it political, economical, or even casual lifeworld interaction) if it does not bear a sincere contemplative practice – to churn on the choices we make around who we think we are, the thought-constructs that paint our perceptions, and impressive cloaks we bear to differentiate ourselves or associate ourselves. I do not necessarily have to use any vocational title to express my mode of being, but I have come to realise that as a means to communicate insight, a superficial linguistic offers a means to filter insight forming conditions in the world around us.

Anyway,,,

That’s it… please comment if you have some cents and sense to share.

Be blessed as you already are.