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  The Modular Path
Self Realization Posted by Xnoubis on May 18, 2001 @ 02:00 PM
from the plug-and-pray dept.

Not long ago, I heard Sam Webster speculate that esoteric traditions in the future might not be seen as monolithic ways of life as much as bearers of particular rites or services. So that instead of "choosing the path of" whatever, we would select a physical discipline from over here, a devotional ritual from over there, etc.

To some extent, many of us already do this. But it might be argued that this could be a way to permanently avoid the challenges that arise through the commitment to a life-long path. What do you think?



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    Re: The Modular Path
    by Mordecai on Friday May 18, @08:52PM
    As you point out, there are already many people who choose to create their own eclectic personal religions. I suppose the question is whether there will be more of them in the future or not. Certainly the reasons that people stick to a lifelong and/or exclusive "path" will still be there. At least until the pace of technological change reaches the next critical jumping-off point, after which religion as we know it will almost certainly be seen as a quaint relic of the past.

    • Re: The Modular Path
      by Xnoubis on Tuesday May 22, @07:16PM
      > I suppose the question is whether there will be
      > more of them in the future or not.

      For me the question is more whether a consensus will emerge as to whether the eclectic or life-long approach is more effective for attainment under modern conditions.

      > At least until the pace of technological change
      > reaches the next critical jumping-off point,
      > after which religion as we know it will almost
      > certainly be seen as a quaint relic of the past.

      This could be an interesting point, but it sounds curiously historicist coming from you. Are you being serious?


      • Re: The Modular Path
        by Mordecai on Tuesday May 22, @08:27PM
        >For me the question is more whether a consensus will emerge as to whether
        >the eclectic or life-long approach is more effective for attainment
        >under modern conditions.

        It seems to me that the consensus has long since emerged and it wasn't only until very recently that the eclectic approach even really existed. If you are personally working for the day when the eclectic approach achieves "consensus" more power to you, but I hardly think the moment is even a fruit, much less ripe!

        >>At least until the pace of technological change
        >>reaches the next critical jumping-off point,
        >>after which religion as we know it will almost
        >>certainly be seen as a quaint relic of the past.

        >This could be an interesting point, but it sounds curiously historicist
        >coming from you. Are you being serious?

        I'm not sure. I've had certain pet theories about how humanity would evolve (developed in the late '80s and early '90s), but I didn't see them happening in my lifetime. Now I'm reading this book (which I will soon review for Beast Bay) which has me at least thinking about the possibilities, and it's profoundly disturbing. "transhumanity" and "posthumanity" are the labels being bandied about, because this won't just be humanity using another even more magical technology, it'll be humanity becoming technology.


        • Re: The Modular Path
          by Xnoubis on Wednesday May 23, @04:48PM
          > If you are personally working for the day when
          > the eclectic approach achieves "consensus" more
          > power to you

          No, I mean that since the eclectic approach has emerged as a possible alternative to the traditional one, will it remain a option, become predominant, or fade as an insubstantial fad? I'm not rooting for either side at the moment; just wondering.

          I look forward to your review, especially since my historicism tends to be of the fervently optimistic variety.


    Re: The Modular Path
    by Mark Shekoyan on Sunday May 20, @05:53PM
    Religion syncretism is as old as religion itself. People have been culling together different threads of traditions in cultures for thousand of years. Chinese religion is an excellent example where individual folk and lay practitioners draw from a syncretic mix of Buddhist, Taoist, and Confucian teachings and practices which form a background orientative pattern to daily living. This in no way implies they have transcended these patterns themselves into some form of "metaawareness." Buddhist and Taoist believers can be as imbedded in the language structures and reality tunnels of their particular system as fundamentalist Christians. It seems to me that regardless of the symbolic structure, or ideological template in which one works, the direct revelatory experience of gnostic states and inspirations will remain the core of religious practice in the future.

    One thing the mixing and matching can do is water down the focus and depth of any particular thread. Its seems that there needs to be a delicate dance between the intensity and focussed committment to a spiritual practice, coupled with the flexibility and openess to novelty and enrichment from other sources.

    Like a Bricoleur, the modern electic aspirant is faced with a postmodern pastiche of traditions and practices decoupled from the traditional lifeworlds in which the where formed. From this he "builds" his symbolic and religious world. In the religious supermarket many modern seekers go shopping and fill their carts with a heavy load of spiritual materialism.

    Irregardless of the tradition, core systems of mystical attainment speak to a paring down, a simplification, and a "emptying" process of self in the path of awakening. Is radical Kenosis(The emptying of self), at odds with the "aquistion" of various parts and practices from different systems? Do we want to add more, get rid of more, or both? Whatever is done, it seems commitment, focus, regularity, excellence, and rigor remain core motifs which can ground the modularity of the modern aspirants religious experience, and lend depth to their process.

    • Re: The Modular Path
      by cri hoor 217 on Monday May 21, @03:18PM
      ...many moons ago, i read Allen Watts, 'The Taboo
      On Knowing Who You Are', and 'The Wisdom of Insecurity' that was coming out of the psychedelic cannon of the late sixties, and the waste land of Orange County Calif, that is what got me started, then i read Naked launch by William S. Burroughs,
      and also Steppenwolf by Herman Hesse, it all seemed to fit together to me, from then on i was intensely eclectic, but my tendency was toward mostly literature and then i read the 'The Politics of Experiace' by R.D.Lang a kind of radical psycologist, it seems i was headed for a threshold experiance, kinda like the abyss winked at me and let me know if i jumped there was no particular road map ( well maybe 'On The Road' by Keroac) and that there was no turning back, but that if i did i would always be guided somehow, so
      later when i came across a copy of 'The Book of Thoth' i was right in the middle of my abyss leap, as it were...of course this was after reading a lot of Carl Jung, but mostly being immersed in Existentialist vacuums and Surrealist subversions,
      nevertheless i managed to get into meditation, and
      some yoga to boot, but when i read Philip K. Dick
      The Man In The High Castle, i knew something much deeper and vaster was afoot, of course a little Kafka thrown in for good measure, and my PKD journey had begun, a small side journey through The Garden of Forking Paths, and a dash of Tao and
      Lo and behold Crowley is signaling to me through
      the long hall of the used book store, i just can't
      refuse that face! thanks to the Illuminatis Trilogy...and of course 'The Cosmic Triger'..


      • Re: The Modular Path
        by Mark Shekoyan on Monday May 21, @04:55PM
        This sounds very familiar. My summary:

        Alienation from traditional values and religious traditions coupled with a youthful interest in fantastic vistas of the imagination and human possibilities in Sci Fi and Fantasy(Dune and Tolkien) which led to,

        Early curiosities with the occult and Eastern Philosophy tied to an interest in the martial arts which led to,

        Flirtation with meditation and psychedelics which led to,

        A mystical experience/psychic break down/break through which led to,

        A voracious appetite for existential, Beat, hippy, sixties literature(Nietzche, Doesteskvy, Hesse, Gingsberg, Watts) which occured concurently with a intense fascination with Taoism, which led to,

        A journey to the east(Taiwan/China),

        Which led to, an interest in Western and Eastern Occult traditons which led to,

        An interest in cultures, consciouness and peak experience,

        Which led to an interest in anthropology and altered states,

        Which led to Graduate School,

        Which led to Theory, Philosophy, Ethnography, Kundalini Yoga, more psycdelics, Aleister Crowley, Tim Leary, Surrealism, Sustainability, Technophilia, Technophobia, Anarchism, TAOISM and THELEMA, Which led to...

        An interest in liberatory art, spiritualized creativity, and Evolutionary Design which led to???

        Modularity, Bricolage, painting with postmodern Chaos colors on a canvas which has no frame but that which we give it...

        It seems the "frame" for me has been a consistent focus on embodied practice(Yoga and the Martial Arts) which has helped me ground alot of the symbols and meanings derived from this manic dance of the mind.

        Current 93 washes over me and
        I float
        on down
        the river of my
        Souls Destiny

        Brothers and sisters
        You and I

        Free to be In the sweet bosom
        of Nuit's Heavenly
        Infinity.


        93/93

        Mark


    Re: The Modular Path
    by Carrie Pavlin on Sunday June 10, @06:41PM
    I have to say that I am not qualified to judge the future, only to say that Sam's theory is entirely possible. As far as avoiding commitment and challenges - I purposely walk a path that is not set in stone, so that I can take on, learn from, and be changed by a variety of experiences in my life. I have an idea of who I want to be when I die, and I go forward in my life, looking for the pieces of religion, ritual or thought that seem to fit what I think the world is. It's as if: Understanding is a puzzle that I think I can find the pieces to, but I won't know what the picture will look like until I get it all put together. Some of the pieces are in the box, no problem there. But some of the pieces are on the floor, under the couch, in between the bed sheets, and outside, scattered around my yard. I have to look to find them, have to find them all to understand. I don't expect some other person to know all of the pieces, and maybe I would even be a little nervous about letting some "one" other person try. No other great thinker or religious leader was handed the truth, they had to go through their lives until they reached the point where they had seen enough to become enlightened. Even Crowley had to travel the world, go to college, expirement, take on, cast out and change before he found what he considered to be the truth. How can we, as intelliget beings, do any less?

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