Featured Arcana: The Devil (XV)

I am continually fascinated by the Major Arcanum, The Devil — he seems to show up in a lot of my daily spreads. 🙂 It’s taken me a while to finally get a better grasp on what he typically means in my life…

The Devil branches from the 6th sephirot to the 8th on the Tree of Life. This indicates a few important aspects of his character:

Another way to think of Hod (sephirot 8) is the allowing of chaos to occur while we simply observe it; we submit and watch it unfold. Or, if 7 represents the raw energy needed to make things happen in our lives, 8 represents the physical form we assign to the Ineffable Energy in order to better connect with it and call upon it for practical use.

So I have come to understand my friend, The Devil, as an archetype of submission to my Shadow Self. (Notice in the imagery of Baphomet the presence of male and female, animal and human…indicating that we are All at all times…)

Coming from a place of Balanced Interpersonal Interaction, the Devil is the name we give our nature when it releases itself from dogmatic control and we submit to our gut instincts. We experiment and see what happens, without apology. Notice the two children, one chained and the other holding the chains– we are in control of our own selves. Though we may feel chained by circumstance, this card reminds us that it is we who hold our own chains…

Ultimately, when the Tree guides us through 8 via the Devil, to the 9th sephirot of Self-Reflection, we find ourselves walking in the Sun… the two children of our nature have broken the chains that bound us and found even greater liberty than we’d had before.

Skepticism & Spirituality

I am, day by day, more a practical realist. (Being raised in unfounded, literalist belief systems that have damaging real-world and bodily consequences will do that to you.)

But, at the same time, I consider myself deeply, psychologically spiritual. We must remember that our opinions, observations, and views of the world around us will be colored by our own mental predispositions. Perhaps that is a part of what human “spirituality” ultimately is: constantly reminding our own selves that our mind is the influencer of everything we consider after we first take it in, and that, afterwards, our mind will use its penchant for patternsimage to instantly categorize similar future in-takes without further thought.

It is this wisdom, I think, to slow down and recall our psychological place and tendencies within our universe that is a major part of the Path to Understanding.

Sweetness of Freedom

Look within–the rising and the falling.

What happiness! How sweet to be free!

—The Dhammapada of Gautama the Buddha (ca 500 BC)

How interesting and striking a revelation I’ve been enjoying today!

Osho said, in his commentary on the above sutra:

…It is through the breath that you are bridged. Breath is the bridge between your soul and your body… the watcher cannot be watched, the observer cannot be observed. Suddenly one day you will realize that you are the witness of it all. And the witness is certainly transcendental to all that it witnesses. In that very moment freedom has happened to you.

 

This moment is today!

I’ve been sitting on an unpublished blog post for a while that I titled, “The Inner and the Outer.” In it I spoke of a beginning understanding of these such things:

[Evolution has] given us not merely a thinking mind by which to behold and contemplate our surroundings, but almost another, outer mind beyond this natural mind, by which we are able to contemplate our own selves as well! We are able to Observe the Observer. In this sense, we might say that we are capable of, at its most basic, two focuses, or ways of looking and experiencing.

(I think it’s about time I published it, actually!) 😳

In contemplating these notions, these very sutras and essences today, the phrase: “The watched is NOT the watcher… the observed is NOT the observer…” stayed with me mightily. And the power of that statement flooded me with joy and wonder!

Think of it: My “Outer Mind” (if you will) as it observes my “Inner, more oblivious, Mind” — well, they’re not to be thought of as the same being anyway! The Watcher is not the Watched. 

Well, and come to think of it, to have ever called these Minds as “mine” in the first place, is itself a type of clinging, is it not? It is Attachment and Ego.

As you observe from a position of the Outer Mind and Open Focus, realize that the Watcher is not the Watched. You are not what you see. You are Nothing, and Everything. Where do you end and the world begins?

Breath is the gateway… Be the Observer… Enjoy the Sweetness of Freedom.

Sweet to be Free

Wisdom for Today

"If you drop the ego, there is a possibility you may become whole. The moment you become whole, you become holy. Then you are healed; then all wounds disappear. Then you are perfect in your total aloneness. It is not comparative — that you are more perfect than others. No. You are simply perfect; you are a unique piece; there is nobody else like you; you are only like yourself. In your wholeness you are perfect, and a deep contentment comes. It becomes a climate around you."
~Osho

The Freedom of Non-Self

My image of Self is not a "thing," it is only a "process"….

We look at a river, and call it "river"; we look at a table and call it "table"; we look at a rainbow and call it "rainbow." These labels we give to objects are a handy tool language has developed by which we might communicate to each other, and relate to, the nature of the things we see around us. However, isn’t fascinating that all these objects are truly a conglomeration of an infinite mass of smaller "things"? We all know of the molecular world, the particle world… the sub-particle world… atoms… empty space… quarks…. bosons…. etc, etc, ad infinitum! Yet, to communicate this particular conglomeration of stuff in one word, according to the manner in which we interact with it in daily life, is to label it according to its resultant whole as it effects us.

Now, the river, for example: the river is always flowing. At times, it is murky if the mud is stirred, at other times it is still and calm, at still other times it is violent and rushing…. It is never the "same" river, yet we still label it The (Blank) River. It is a process of ever-flowing life.

The rainbow: The only reason one can see it, is the result of a very precise arrangement of water droplets in the air to sunlight, to a receiving optical organ. And two people standing next to each other may see the rainbow in exactly the same way. However, another who may be standing at a certain direction, may not see the rainbow as clearly, if at all. So…. Is the rainbow there, or not? 😉

Recall, do not mistake the label for the thing…. Do not mistake the Idea for the Truth….

…Likewise, let us not mistake the "Me" for Me….

At any given moment – any given Now – "I" am a "different person"… My Ego doesn’t like to think so, and it routinely, subtly, glosses over the differences and variations to try and concoct a succinct whole persona of "Me." But, one day I am "a phenomenal musician," the next "a terrible one." One day I am "together and with-it," the next I am "a complete scatterbrain." So, which is it, then? Or am I not all things at all times for all occasions…. A Process of ever-flowing life, relating to my ever-changing environment. And do I not appear, as an illusion, differently to different people, within the context of different scenarios?

So… What am I? What part of me is Me? "Am I" at all?….

A Breathing Meditation for you:

I breathe in, and I am filled with the Earth…
…filled with the stars above….
…filled with the very cosmos.

I breathe out, and I empty myself….
…empty the illusions, the attachments and aversions…
…empty myself to give my spirit-life back to the Earth…
…empty myself that I may be ready to receive again from the cosmos with the next breath.

I am Nothing, then… And at the same time, I am Everything. Everything is Me.

None of us has ever seen our face. Truly! We’ve perceived the reflection of our face in a mirror, or relied on the comments and perceptions of others outside of ourselves. But, all of those perceptions are out there. From right here we have never ever seen our face. One can ask, then, do we have a face? Or is it only an ever-changing representation of us as a universal being? A label by which others can point to us and relate to us and describe us at any given moment. If so, then let us not fall into the delusion of identifying with any of these labels or ideas, for we are so much more than any of that – we are Nothing. :mrgreen:

It is not that we are trying to "get rid of Self." It’s that there is no Self to get rid of.

The Genius of the Noble Truths

The genius of the Buddha’s message at its heart is that we are ultimately creatures of perfection. Or, perhaps one might restate this in a manner devoid of duality, by saying… We are creatures, as we are… The concept is that we are already whole and bear the Buddha Nature within; there is nothing wrong with us. It is simply through the years of accumulating the Three Poisons of attachment, aversion, and ignorance (all which reinforce each other) that we cover and lose sight of and contact with this original pure form; by accumulating this junk we block our inherent happiness that is naturally ours. The delusion is that we simply don’t see this realization and too easily run after the thoughts in our mind as truth.

A host of other myths and culture proclaim that our beginning state of being is one of evil, or deficiency, or any other such form; and that only by way of some ritual or submission to a deity will we ever hope to achieve perfection.

When faced with these two very simple and subtle approaches of thought toward the human condition, I find myself overjoyed with the genius of the Buddha’s simple observation: the initial ground base of wholeness, and the hope and ease of letting our accumulated poisons go. What good news this is!

Breaking down segments of my reading from:

The Long Discourse on the Ways of Attending to Mindfulness (Mahāsatipaṭṭhānasuttaṁ, DN 22), Translated by Anandajoti Bhikkhu (3rd revised version, October 2011 – 2055)

I have created a series of charts for comparison and understanding of the Buddha’s words on The Four Noble Truths. You can find my abridged version of this text (as it pertains to my chart) here.

The Truths are:

  • The Truth of Suffering (or a better way to think of this word is unhappiness or inability to achieve and sustain satisfactoriness.)
  • The Truth of Origination of Suffering
  • The Truth of Cessation of Suffering
  • The Truth of the Path Leading to the Cessation of Suffering

Chart of Constituents and the Origination and Cessation of Suffering illustrates:

  1. At the basis of the suffering are the Five Constituents, which are the Fuel for Attachment.
    1. These are: form, feelings, perceptions, mental processes, and consciousness
  2. Based upon these Constituents, we can derive both the Truth of Origination and Cessation.
    1. These are located and found at certain points of contact: eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, mind.
    2. For example; from eye comes form, comes eye-consciousness and eye-contact, comes the feeling born of eye-contact, comes the perception of forms, comes the intention in regard to forms, comes the craving for forms, comes the thinking about forms, comes an examination of forms.
    3. Likewise, similar patterns follow at each of the other points of contact.
  3. Origination is the arising of Craving at these centers. Cessation is the complete fading away without reminder of the Craving at these centers.
  4. The beauty of recognizing the step-by-step nature of craving and cessation of craving at any given point at these centers, is to realize that at any given point within the process of grasping can the power of acknowledgment and cessation begin.

The second chart, the Eight Factors of the Truth of the Path Leading to the Cessation of Suffering, illustrates the following:

  1. What is commonly known as the Eightfold Path.
    1. Right view, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right endeavour, right mindfulness, and right concentration.
  2. Within the topic of Right Concentration falls the Four Absorptions:
    1. First: one is secluded from sense desires and unwholesome things, while having thinking, reflection, and joy
    2. Second: Calmed down thinking/reflection, without thinking, reflection, and joy
    3. Third: The fading away of joy; dwelling as equanimous, mindful, fully aware, and happy.
    4. Fourth: Abandonment of pleasure and pain; the previous passing away of happiness and sorrow; the purity of mindfulness owing to equanimity.

Engage joyfully in your meditation today, study and observe your mind, at all of its various points of grasping — whether for attachment or for aversion — and observe the beauty of the step-by-step unfolding of the Path.

Constituents

Origination and cessation

Eightfold Path

Ascertaining Baseline Truth

Don’t mistake the map for the landscape.

“…night and day are ruled by the rising and setting of the sun, the rotation of the earth.” Building upon my previous thoughts on the illusory nature of Time, recall: “We would do well to keep in mind the arbitrariness of labeling”.

When we label a certain time of day by way of our arbitrary societal grid of numbers maintained by clocks, or a season of the earth’s natural cycle as months and days and years, it is a system by which we are able to coordinate and communicate and organize our experiences within each Now. Let us simply bear in mind, that the number is not the Reality, but only a way to understand the occurrence.

Likewise, we use maps to organize, systemize, and depict the nature of a landscape in which we find ourselves. Let us not forget, as we study the picture, that we are studying a representation of the Reality, and not Reality itself.

Thoughts are important; we observe and accumulate observations, then categorize and organize them in order to derive overarching meaning. Let us simply bear in mind, and be ever Aware, that the Ideas floating through our mind are not necessarily the actual Reality. These thoughts are our own observations and our categorizations of realizations we have regarding our observations.

Thoughts float along the river of our mind, and our Ego picks up each thought to cling onto it and identify with it.

If we are aware of this, we can better recognize the impermanence of Thought and decide which thoughts are beneficial at any given moment, and which are not.

Recall the second type of Clinging:

  • Attachment to views– “the tendency of the mind to seek out a viewpoint or opinion where everything is clear… Now everything is safe and comfortable for me… The Buddha is pointing to our tendency to seek security, peace, well-being and happiness in our views and perspectives.”

Does this mean, as some posit in various fashions, that there is no Reality and that all is simply a fabrication of our Perceptions? I tend to think not. There is Reality; we are of and from the Earth; we are firmly integrated and a part of the universe we see — we are children of the Stars. But, the thoughts we harbor regarding the Reality around us is a representation of that universe in which we find ourselves. To maintain this awareness is to foster universal understanding and peace.

Let us not mistake the Idea, for the Truth.