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Definitions of 'esotericism'

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  • Charlotte Cowell
    Hi Walden, thank you in return for being so direct, allow me to be direct also. Based on what you said in your message, firstly about hanging with the
    Message 1 of 26 , Mar 30 5:12 AM
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      Hi Walden, thank you in return for being so direct, allow me to be direct also.

      Based on what you said in your message, firstly about hanging with the ‘kewl’ kids and then ‘hanging out here for years’ (is this a place where former believers habitually come to hang their hat?), it does indeed seem that you were playing the game of ‘follow the leader’ that you mentioned in your first email, and in this you are undoubtedly not alone. Most ‘spiritual seekers’ need the same kind of reassurance that they're not taking the plunge solo, because that can be a very scary thing to do indeed.

      But let’s not get you and I confused, I’ve never been someone who simply followed a crowd in any aspect of my life. I  have always done the opposite, except where I've made concessions and tried to be sociable and more generous with my time. I’m the one who goes for a walk when everyone else at work is in the pub, or the one dancing alone in the middle of a club when everyone else is getting drunk and stoned on the sidelines. I’m an only child and have always been very headstrong, I’d be more inclined to single-handedly wind up the universal timepiece than to jump on any old bandwagon for purposes of self-validation or popularity.

      With due respect (sincerely), one cannot lump together all forms of vaguely mystical striving into one melting pot and pretend all people in the pot have had precisely analogous experiences for similar reasons. Unless one is simply a new age hippy (theosophist?), that is. Not that I have anything against new age hippies, I’ve got that streak in me as well, although I’m growing out of it as I get older and less able to stay up all night. I’ve done my time at Glastonbury and smoked enough joints to know it gets really boring in the end and instead of getting high you simply get stoned.

      There is, however, a whole wide world of difference between the poodlings you describe and the all-encompassing, arduous life-long commitment demanded of the true Christian Hermeticist, Kabbalist or Sufi (for example). To caricature everyone with religious beliefs as a hocus-pocus dabbler is ludicrous. Do you imagine me sitting her with a crystal ball in front of a picture of the queen of wands chewing Daphne and chanting ‘Ohm’ whilst hoping to see some more light or gagging for a bit of tantric sex?! Well, you can imagine it that way if it is more comfortable to think that everyone who seeks ends up equally lost and/or disillusioned, but it wouldn’t be a remotely true picture, it would simply be a continuation of your illusion.

      Don’t fool yourself either that the believer is unable to comprehend the beauty of the 'real' world. I’ve travelled half of it alone and had my breath taken away a thousand times just by the sight of a sunrise or sunset – one has eyes, after all – but I fail to see how the presence of beauty in nature is in any way proof that beauty of spirit is merely a figment of the imagination. Beauty is beauty, seen or unseen (Sekala Niskala).

      And yes, the clock does tick, which is why you will surely appreciate the quality of eternity when it settles upon you like gold dust – perhaps you even remember what it feels like? In which case there will be times when you long to feel it again. And while we do all ‘grow old’ on this Earth it is the wisdom of the child that so often proves enduring. I find it very helpful to keep in mind the sanguine words of one especially famous old duffer, favoured by mystics of all creeds, be they sober or sizzled:

      I dreamt a dream! What can it mean?

      And that I was a maiden Queen

      Guarded by an Angel mild:

      Witless woe was ne'er beguiled!



      And I wept both night and day,

      And he wiped my tears away;

      And I wept both day and night,

      And hid from him my heart's delight.



      So he took his wings, and fled;

      Then the morn blushed rosy red.

      I dried my tears, and armed my fears

      With ten-thousand shields and spears.



      Soon my Angel came again;

      I was armed, he came in vain;

      For the time of youth was fled,

      And grey hairs were on my head.

      The Angel, William Blake

      --- On Wed, 30/3/11, awaldenpond@... <awaldenpond@...> wrote:

      From: awaldenpond@... <awaldenpond@...>
      Subject: Re: [wc] Re: Tarjei explains how to leave AT
      To: waldorf-critics@yahoogroups.com
      Date: Wednesday, 30 March, 2011, 7:06







       









      Hi Charlotte,



      While I appreciate your thoughtful response to my post, I'm afraid I won't be able to dive into the deep end of a chat about heaven, angels, seeing as knowing, etc. Mainly because of time and . . .



      A) Been there and moved on B) Most of it is off topic for this list



      I do try, however, to answer questions put to me.



      You asked: "Can we even agree that a person may experience different states of consciousness for whatever reason?"



      Yes.



      You asked: "Before I ramble on and on, need we first discuss which forms of experience can and should be considered valid?"



      Please don't feel compelled to ramble on and on . . . on my account. Experiences are usually valid to those who experience them.



      You asked: "Also, may I ask what turned you away from esotericism, was it something catalytic or a gradual falling away/change of life direction?"



      Sure. The three word short answer sounds trite but is "valid." I grew up. It was a gradual sort of growing up and hanging out here for years has probably helped. While I sometimes kinda/sorta miss being the celebrity astrologer at parties - especially those patchouli-soaked affairs with with plenty of hippy chicks - I don't miss living in denial and delusion. Truth be told, falling into esotericism in my twenties was probably at least partly the result of trying to avoid dealing with unresolved problems from childhood. It felt good meditating, reading esoteric stuff and trying to fit in with people who *seemed* super kewl and spiritual and wise. Despite some wonderful experiences, however, we were usually just pretending. Booze and/or acid and/or Steiner study groups and/or other esoteric trips can create amazing "experiences" to those who partake in such things but . . . the clock is ticking and there's lots to do before the final tick. Time to grow up
      and look at the real world. It's even more beautiful, full of questions and awe-inspiring than the pretend one. That's been my experience. Hope that answers your question.



      -Walden



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    • awaldenpond@shaw.ca
      Hi Charlotte, You wrote: But let’s not get you and I confused, Of course not. You wrote: With due respect (sincerely), one cannot lump together all forms
      Message 2 of 26 , Mar 30 10:06 AM
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        Hi Charlotte,

        You wrote: "But let’s not get you and I confused,"

        Of course not.

        You wrote: "With due respect (sincerely), one cannot lump together all forms of vaguely mystical striving into one melting pot and pretend all people in the pot have had precisely analogous experiences for similar reasons."

        Agreed. Each experience is valid to the experienc-er.

        You wrote: "Unless one is simply a new age hippy (theosophist?), that is."

        I would not lump new age hippy theosophists into one melting pot - their individual experiences are as valid as yours or mine.

        You wrote: "Not that I have anything against new age hippies, I’ve got that streak in me as well, although I’m growing out of it as I get older and less able to stay up all night. I’ve done my time at Glastonbury and smoked enough joints to know it gets really boring in the end and instead of getting high you simply get stoned."

        There's a lot more to hippydom than getting stoned.

        You wrote: "There is, however, a whole wide world of difference between the poodlings you describe and the all-encompassing, arduous life-long commitment demanded of the true Christian Hermeticist, Kabbalist or Sufi (for example). To caricature everyone with religious beliefs as a hocus-pocus dabbler is ludicrous."

        Luckily I did no such thing.

        You wrote: "Do you imagine me sitting her with a crystal ball in front of a picture of the queen of wands chewing Daphne and chanting ‘Ohm’ whilst hoping to see some more light or gagging for a bit of tantric sex?!"

        No, but now that you mention it . . . <g> (kidding) Brings back fond memories.

        You wrote: "Well, you can imagine it that way if it is more comfortable to think that everyone who seeks ends up equally lost and/or disillusioned, but it wouldn’t be a remotely true picture, it would simply be a continuation of your illusion."

        No need to feel defensive. You asked for MY experience and I answered your question. It seems you think of my exit-from-esotericism experience as being an illusion while I see it as entirely valid. Different strokes for different folks. Perhaps the moral of this story might be: If you think you might not like the answer . . . think twice about asking the question.

        -Walden


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      • Charlie
        Actually, I did quite like your answer, and appreciated the honesty. I don t think I was being so much defensive as perhaps overly on the attack. I did feel a
        Message 3 of 26 , Mar 30 2:19 PM
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          Actually, I did quite like your answer, and appreciated the honesty. I don't think I was being so much defensive as perhaps overly on the attack. I did feel a bit mean and pit-bullish after I sent it.

          I think it's because I sensed a kind of jadedness and cynicism in your answer in relation to spirituality that seemed to invite 'prodding', but I also think it's important to distinguish between minor dabblings in the occult - a typical 'growing up' experience - and a true spiritual vocation (such as a monk might have, for example).

          Anyways, sorry if i pounced a bit to viciously, you got me first thing in the morning :-)

          --- In waldorf-critics@yahoogroups.com, <awaldenpond@...> wrote:
          >
          > Hi Charlotte,
          >
          > You wrote: "But let’s not get you and I confused,"
          >
          > Of course not.
          >
          > You wrote: "With due respect (sincerely), one cannot lump together all forms of vaguely mystical striving into one melting pot and pretend all people in the pot have had precisely analogous experiences for similar reasons."
          >
          > Agreed. Each experience is valid to the experienc-er.
          >
          > You wrote: "Unless one is simply a new age hippy (theosophist?), that is."
          >
          > I would not lump new age hippy theosophists into one melting pot - their individual experiences are as valid as yours or mine.
          >
          > You wrote: "Not that I have anything against new age hippies, I’ve got that streak in me as well, although I’m growing out of it as I get older and less able to stay up all night. I’ve done my time at Glastonbury and smoked enough joints to know it gets really boring in the end and instead of getting high you simply get stoned."
          >
          > There's a lot more to hippydom than getting stoned.
          >
          > You wrote: "There is, however, a whole wide world of difference between the poodlings you describe and the all-encompassing, arduous life-long commitment demanded of the true Christian Hermeticist, Kabbalist or Sufi (for example). To caricature everyone with religious beliefs as a hocus-pocus dabbler is ludicrous."
          >
          > Luckily I did no such thing.
          >
          > You wrote: "Do you imagine me sitting her with a crystal ball in front of a picture of the queen of wands chewing Daphne and chanting ‘Ohm’ whilst hoping to see some more light or gagging for a bit of tantric sex?!"
          >
          > No, but now that you mention it . . . <g> (kidding) Brings back fond memories.
          >
          > You wrote: "Well, you can imagine it that way if it is more comfortable to think that everyone who seeks ends up equally lost and/or disillusioned, but it wouldn’t be a remotely true picture, it would simply be a continuation of your illusion."
          >
          > No need to feel defensive. You asked for MY experience and I answered your question. It seems you think of my exit-from-esotericism experience as being an illusion while I see it as entirely valid. Different strokes for different folks. Perhaps the moral of this story might be: If you think you might not like the answer . . . think twice about asking the question.
          >
          > -Walden
          >
          >
          > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          >
        • awaldenpond@shaw.ca
          Hi Charlotte, You wrote: I think it s because I sensed a kind of jadedness and cynicism in your answer in relation to spirituality that seemed to invite
          Message 4 of 26 , Mar 30 5:21 PM
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            Hi Charlotte,

            You wrote: "I think it's because I sensed a kind of jadedness and cynicism in your answer in relation to spirituality that seemed to invite 'prodding', but I also think it's important to distinguish between minor dabblings in the occult - a typical 'growing up' experience - and a true spiritual vocation (such as a monk might have, for example)."

            Slippery slope that. Who decides on a "true spiritual vocation" as opposed to "minor dabblings in the occult?" Are you the judge? How do you know I was a dabbler and not something more "true?" Spiritual hierarchy is a dangerous form of elitism - from Anthroposophists constantly attempting to out-Steiner each other to the infighting at the Vatican. They'll all claim the "true spiritual vocation" and often leave innocent victims in their wake.

            You wrote: "Anyways, sorry if i pounced a bit to viciously, you got me first thing in the morning :-)"

            No worries. Pouncing is fine by me. I was simply offering food for thought based on your questions. I hope your foot is healing.

            -Walden

            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • Charlotte Cowell
            Hi again Walden, I think we all have to try and judge for ourselves while accepting that the final judgment rests elsewhere   You are absolutely right in
            Message 5 of 26 , Mar 31 12:52 PM
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              Hi again Walden,



              I think we all have to try and judge for ourselves while accepting that the
              final judgment rests elsewhere  

              You are absolutely right in saying that one’s personal experience is valid
              in its own right, whatever that might be, but equally I think one must be able
              to concede that there is a genuine difference between someone who is primarily
              seeking experience and someone who’s entire life is devoted to God and the
              search for spiritual truth.



              There is a definite contrast between ‘Spiritual Lite’ and ‘Spiritual
              Vocation’ – anyone can get out the yoga matt and light some incense, but could
              everyone put God before everything else in their life? (to point to two
              extremes). This doesn’t ‘mean that one person is better than the other, just
              that one person has made a far bigger commitment to the spiritual path. (for
              better or worse).

              All the same, in your original message you said you didn’t think an
              esotericist can ‘clearly see anything’, so in this respect I do think it’s
              important to bear in mind there are distinctions, not only. between levels of
              seeking, but also the various types of ‘seeing’ (eg, dreaming as distinct from
              meditation as distinct from astral projections and so on).



              I totally agree that spiritual inflation, whatever the creed, is one of the
              biggest dangers facing any seeker, whatever their degree of overall interest.


              Apart from that though, I have no idea if you were a dabbler or fully ‘committed’,
              as it were. How would you classify your search?


              Thank you for your best wishes on the foot, it seems to be improving!

              Cx




              --- On Thu, 31/3/11, awaldenpond@... <awaldenpond@...> wrote:

              From: awaldenpond@... <awaldenpond@...>
              Subject: Re: [wc] Definitions of 'esotericism'
              To: waldorf-critics@yahoogroups.com
              Date: Thursday, 31 March, 2011, 1:21







               









              Hi Charlotte,



              You wrote: "I think it's because I sensed a kind of jadedness and cynicism in your answer in relation to spirituality that seemed to invite 'prodding', but I also think it's important to distinguish between minor dabblings in the occult - a typical 'growing up' experience - and a true spiritual vocation (such as a monk might have, for example)."



              Slippery slope that. Who decides on a "true spiritual vocation" as opposed to "minor dabblings in the occult?" Are you the judge? How do you know I was a dabbler and not something more "true?" Spiritual hierarchy is a dangerous form of elitism - from Anthroposophists constantly attempting to out-Steiner each other to the infighting at the Vatican. They'll all claim the "true spiritual vocation" and often leave innocent victims in their wake.



              You wrote: "Anyways, sorry if i pounced a bit to viciously, you got me first thing in the morning :-)"



              No worries. Pouncing is fine by me. I was simply offering food for thought based on your questions. I hope your foot is healing.



              -Walden



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