by A Dervish
Often as not in esoteric history the great workers have been to all appearances petty personalities, to say the least.
On a continuum, some like the late Idries Shah (pbuh) seem only to hint at much and otherwise comport themselves as ironic hectorers, about the deficiencies both intellectual and moral of contemporary life. Ranging farther afield, the late C G Jung (pbuh) evinced an hermetic solipsism, and Aleister Crowley (pbuh) indeed lunged right to the end in a fog of unrelenting egotism, swindles and deceit. Others such as Carlos Castaneda (pbuh) and the mad poet Navarth (pbuh) were the compositors of arcane narratives. This sort of thing seems to make a travesty of entire careers, and certainly it is hard in such cases to “sort out the flyshit from the pepper”. All of this happens of course because a great deal of beating down by life frequently must happen before operators discover — let alone enter completely upon — their vocation. But “calling” is nothing without training and, sometimes for many years before operators come fully upon the inwardness of things, they have been practicing! Doubtlessly it will come as a shock to normally decent people that what these individuals mainly have been doing lifelong in one way or the other has been…lying.
As with us all, this first came about in childhood when the distinction between “the truth” and wishful thinking to say the least is vague. In the normal course of events, the child who tries this gambit to evade responsibility for some misdeed is corrected. Whether by admonition or punishment, if anyway there is otherwise enough of love in the parental atmosphere and adult surroundings, then the little child has no deep reason rooted first of all in survival of their own personality to hold on to the practise. Soon they give up these tricks, but not in all cases.
When for whatever reason a small child first perceives the vacancy and horror of the so-called “adult” lives of its grownups, then there ensues a lifelong struggle to make good the situation. The initial fib intended to avoid the pain of personal punishment and bad feelings about oneself becomes the foundation of an entire edifice of fantasy. In this the “lowest” of motives — self-protection — is all mixed up with the highest possible conception available to enlightened bodily existence. That is to say, it is finally a matter of the rescue of all.
That, and nothing else, is the work of all love.
To the little child this “all” is of course the unhappy parents, to be lifted up by pleasing them, by imagining them happy, by saying they are, first of all to oneself and then to all the world. In such a case if the father is a palpable cipher who really lived only briefly when young, then there is a drawerful somewhere of medals won in wartime. And if the mother is driven down by the most evil depression, then there was before all this a glittering and adventurous, above all un-feminine and most interesting, youth. In turn, through a lifetime often largely spent in a “literature” of the self, fiction or addiction or the other arts…in time, this “all I have to care for” comes to mean all that has ever been, is now or ever shall be.
Needless to say this is a real mishmash, and the hypocritical opportunity for self-justification is surely obvious. All there is to save us from this cynicism and pessimism of any narrow “truthfulness” is the hope that dwells in love alone. What must not be lost sight of is the love that lies at the heart of the matter. Never is this more so than in the case of the “selfish” little child, and it is this sort of self-absorbed childhood that is the father and mother of the magician:
All the little child has is its completely selfish selflessness of participation in the happiness and unhappiness of those around it.
No wonder it is said by those with keen memories of their own childhood that when a tragedy happened in their family, when for example a parent died, they felt they were to blame — so angry had they been at that same grownup, only the day or week before! For if the difference between the social and individual realities is vague to the little child, they also have the painful knowledge that their wellbeing and that of those around them is indistinguishable. Hence, when “I” am indeed to blame in some magical way for my parents’ suffering, then my natural response for my own sake is to try to make it not so — for their sake “too!” The little child’s tools are so few, and the power of wishful thinking is still great. Also, the goal of the child’s grownups is that this same wishful thinking — especially when it results in lying — is usually destined to be forever lost. Enlightened parents will of course countenance creative writing, dance, the theater, “art”…although this, too, more often than not is wielded as part of the successful socialization.
But at the same time this discovery made when a child is small lingers.
It is tremendous and it is just a short sharp taste of the possibly infinite power of “magical thinking”.
It is the knowledge most of all of escape — knowledge that can become sure in the end, too — knowledge of the sure lie that comforts all in its arms forever.
The power of lying — of saying that and acting as though conditions above all are not “just” this or that, “and nothing more” — is the same knowledge as the moral destination of the fully creative visionary, the healer and true magician. It goes beyond any outward display of religion, art and culture. It finally and for good outruns the capacity of these self-absorbed people, who nonetheless are becoming operators, to go on yakking about it. Naturally, by the end of a normal run these people have so fatigued others around them on the long road, with their pretensions and neurotic megrims and annoying self-importance, that any real work they may be doing now they simply can not talk about. Too much by far has been said already and for far, far too long. So much so that what the great lie may have been can on longer even be named. Let alone remembered! For one by one the operators are so busy being their lies that this all in the end becomes (it always was!) merely another part of…the truth.
[Halka Haddadiyya all rights reserved 17 October 2009/27 Shawwal 1430]