This article – written almost eight years ago exactly – is an important comment on the basics of meditation and devotional worship (the topic of last week’s essay), concerning both the “how” and “why” of their integration into our life. Devotion is the energy of love, loyalty, and surrender: letting go of ourselves and merging, even if only temporarily, with an ideal. This is the deep power of Nature that drives us forward and inward towards personal fulfillment and realization.
Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to attend a brief presentation by a Tibetan lama on the fundamental practices of Tibetan Buddhism. Having arrived early, I had the good fortune to spend a few minutes with the lama discussing some areas of Tibetan medicine (alchemy) and astrology that I had questions about. Fortunately for me, he was able to give some insights, pointing me in a useful direction and providing some interesting traditional perspectives on how this information traveled back and forth across India, Tibet, and China.
The actual lecture started with the usual meditation. To my surprise, out of all the attendees present, I was the only one taking any notes on the teachings being given. This is typical of so many lectures that it would hardly be worth noting, if it were not for the fact that here, in the Kali Yuga, the rare opportunity of being able to listen to a respected and qualified Tibetan lama – or even Western alchemist, magician, or Qabalist – is taken for granted. The notion that this is a study, like school – something one will return to for the test (that is, the test of life) – is lost on ninety percent or more of attendees. But I digress…
He briefly discussed Indian and Tibetan views on the ages (or yugas), the shortening of human life in each one, and the final arrival at the present age – the Kali Yuga, the Age of Iron, the Age of Destruction. Herein human life is reduced to 100 years or less, and suffering abounds, with war, famine, and disease being primary causes for the loss of life.
To assist in attaining full enlightenment – so that individual suffering can be ended and one can assist in aiding others on the path – the basic practice presented consisted of using the cycles of the moon to attune to the various manifestations of the Buddha (the Awakened One), so that we ourselves will awaken to the inner light of Illumination and create conditions whereby we may reincarnate in a location favorable to this Awakening. The ideas were identical to what is generally stated in most Western schools of occultism, with the inclusion of deities for use during the moon phases and for specific goals.
The new moon is utilized to meditate on one’s particular deity with the intention to achieve enlightenment, aid others in their unfolding, and to be reborn in a place free from war. The first quarter is utilized in an identical fashion, but one aspires to be born in a place free from disease. The full moon is utilized like the preceding two, but one aspires to be born in a place free from hunger or famine.
It was also mentioned (as pointed out in Kabbalah for Health and Wellness) that we must constantly keep our mind upon the idea of Illumination, whether we are meditating, walking, or even sleeping. This has an immediate effect upon our subconscious and helps us incrementally on our journey. To aid this, we should surround ourselves with images that constantly remind us of this aspiration, thereby strengthening our innate desire for happiness, freedom from suffering, altruism, and enlightenment.
Keeping our moral precepts, being patient, and constantly seeking to balance Wisdom and Compassion are the day-to-day actions that move us forward. This reminds us that not only is there “no part of me that is not of the gods,” but also there is no place where we are not in the presence of the divine; in the words of St. Isaac the Syrian, a person is “truly pure in heart” when “that person considers all human beings as good, and no created thing appears impure or defiled.”
What is this purity? As Hermes has said: “Do not be carried away by the flood, but make use of the tide. Find a safe harbor for your ship, and seek one who will guide you by the hand to the gates of the knowledge of your heart. There, in the heart, is the bright light clear of darkness [obscurations].”
Along these lines the lama also stated (also as mentioned in Kabbalah for Health and Wellness) that the sense of distance we have from our relationship with divine beings is not a real distance – that is, one of either time or space – but one of our own consciousness. Simply by praying to these beings, as a consequence of their limitless compassion, they must attend to our call – it is our own ignorance that keeps us from experiencing their immediate presence. As Jesus said, “When two or more are gathered together in my Name, I will be in the midst of them”; and Hermes, in the Corpus Hermeticum, instructs us “to overcome [this obscurity], we must remind ourselves of their real presence, place ourselves before their image, be it physical or imagined often, and develop a strong yearning and compassion,” knowing that simply by thinking of an enlightened being – or even someone we believe to be well along on their Path and whom we trust and love – they are here with us, and we are generating an inexhaustible supply of positive karma (force or energy of action) for our journey on the Path of Return.
In the words of the Immortal Hermes: “You can even become a god if you want, for it is possible. Therefore want and understand and believe and love: then you have become it.” To assist students on the Hermetic Path to further their devotion, we have published The Liturgy of Hermes: In Praise of the Lord of Light, a practice that can be undertaken by anyone regardless of their level of experience. Those who have utilized it have reported that it was one of the most significant experiences of their spiritual life, encouraging their independence on the Path. For more information on The Liturgy of Hermes, see the following link:
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