Posts Tagged With: buddhism

The Orobouros and the Alt Right

I had been reading in Julius Evola’s book, the  Hermetic Tradition, about the Alchemical image of the Orobouros—the snake biting it’s own tail.  I first tried to tackle this ponderous work some 20 years ago, after I saw that Carl Jung cited it as source material for his classic book, Psychology and Alchemy.  I again returned to it recently when I’d heard that the alt right was greatly influenced by Evola’s dark, cyclical view of history, as well as his particular brand of arcane, spiritual racism.
I then saw an article by Maureen Dowd, who compared Donald Trump to the Orobouros.  I took this synchronicity as sign I should further meditate on this ancient image of western esotericism as a way to gain a more holistic view of a dangerously polarized political landscape which loomed beyond the hermetically sealed world of the dogfish Bay Marina.
Dowd writes of 45’s isolation by an inner circle who shelter him against the verities of the exterior world, parrot his mad ejaculations, and compound his delusional paranoia.  She evokes the Orobouros to point out his self -destructive qualities.
This mandala has long been contemplated by spiritual adepts who sought awakening to ultimate truth of Unity.  Evola says it represents not so much a philosophical concept as much as a state beyond the dichotomies of I and not-I, inside and outside.  According to the literature, the full realization of this state is the “first matter of the wise.”
In the tradition, this unitary awareness is the beginning of the great work.  But in Evola’s dark, elitist, and apocalyptic elaboration, this work is a cyclic process that, after ages of decline brought about by egalitarianism, multi-culturalism, and democratic “leveling,” heralds the triumphant return of the golden age.  He views history as a cycle of degeneration and regeneration which turns in a series toward its ultimate realization in the re-establishment of a hyper-masculine, solar king which dawns only after violent revolution upsets the status quo.  The losers swept up in this upheaval are expendable, and quaint notions like charity, love, and compassion are jettisoned for the profits of a corporate elite.  Evola may have attained some degree of genuine insight into the spiritual truth expressed by the Orobouros, as well as to how that essential unity is not obstructed by its infinite manifestations (dharmas) in the field of space and time.  Evola studied the Pali cannon of the Hinayana (lesser vehicle) Buddhism, which focuses on self liberation from the cycles of existence (Samsara.)  In contrast, the Mahayana (greater vehicle) stressed the cultivation of loving kindness as not only ethical, but the means by which we awaken to the ultimate truth of essential unity even while working to aleviate suffering in the relative world of Samsara.
  As long as we have not realized that the mode of being of our mind resides in the union of relative truth and absolute truth—a realization that corresponds to awakening—these two truths are seen as separate instead of being seen in their original unity.
Bokar Rimpoche
From the viewpoint of ultimate truth, the dichotomy between positive and negative lacks reality, but from the perspective of relative truth, the karmic results of negative actions are inevitable.  The cultivation of loving kindness is essential until ultimate truth is realized.
  This fundamental split between the two understandings of the unitary state—symbolized by the Orobouros– is reflected in the polarized debates surrounding health care and immigration. Republicans seem to champion only the needs of those inside the adamant circumference of racial and economic privilege.
  One of the strangest aspects of our rancorous, political debate is how these venerable teachings are spun by intellectuals of the alt right; and how Evola’s  brand of spiritual fascism provides ideological cover for the rise of global fascism.
Categories: Books I love, Musings, politics, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Speculum Warfare

  We saw the projection dynamic in play during the second debate when Hillary, rightly, said 45 was Putin’s puppet.  “You’re the puppet!  You’re the puppet!” was 45’s childish reply.
I reminded of the ancient, Chinese art  of Feng Shui where, through practical as well as highly esoteric remedies, the built environment  was altered in ways auspicious to health and prosperity.  Mirrors were mounted on home fronts to counter the negative chi of neighbors.  The neighbor then responded in kind, but with a larger mirror, and it soon  escalated into all out, speculum warfare.  I see something similar in the endless projections that one side of the political spectrum visits upon the other to manipulate public perception.
  Like 45, Milo Yiannopoulos is an Internet troll, a cartoon character manifest as a faux-real person.  The cyber-world has so morphed with reality that a ficticious, TV personality can become President, and gaudy, physical spectres are  conjured from the etherial world of online trollery.

  Milo Yiannopoulos’s ambiguous role is fabricated to appeal to opposite ends of conservative spectrum, so that both sides might then be swayed toward more extreme, alt-right views. He explained his role perfectly by saying his position with Breitbart countered the perception that the Alt Right is homophobic, and racist.  He’s a shill to make their hateful rhetoric appeal to edgy progressives and third-party stooges in order to draw them into the alt-right fold.   Also, since Yiannopoulos is gay, the alt-right can spin this to deflect accusations of intolerance.

  There are other, more esoteric, means Bannon employs in his global, coup attempt.
The world was perplexed by 45’s recent, shrill warning about immigration when he said: “Look what’s happening in Sweden!”  We are quick to cite this as just another example of his lies.  Then, a few days later, riots break out in Rinkeby.  The Alt Right News then posts an article proclaiming 45’s near mystical powers of prognostication.
  But I wonder if some darker truth was revealed by 45’s “prophesy.”  Bannon has made no secret of his dark vision of historical progress as a series of violent upheavals; and is eager to set the next phase in motion by exacerbating global conflict.  He is quite capable of hiring thugs to incite riots in Sweden in order to support his call for an immigration ban. I think 45’s mysterious warning about Sweden was actually another brain fart along the lines of his famous “Russia, if you’re listening” gaff.  45 did indeed have foreknowledge of the riots–just not of the mysterious, prophetic kind.  He knew Bannon had cooked up another pretext for the planned expulsion of immigrants.  This strategy accords with the Yiannopoulos riots in Berkeley where–says Robert Reich— thugs were hired to amplify the Alt Right claims of Liberal intolerance, and justify violence against peaceful protest.  In the context of this twisted form of psychological and spiritual warfare, it is fascinating to consider that Bannon is a follower of that esoteric fascist, Julius Evola.
   It is easy to get lost in this carnival house of mirrors.  The Alt Right exploits the gullibility and myopia of both extremes of the political spectrum in order to realize their goal of global dominance. It helps to appreciate the ambiguous nature of this struggle in order to remove ourselves from the dizzying play of dissembling and projection.  The art of Feng Shui helps us to appreciate the paradoxical nature of today’s reality and, as remedy to political and spiritual malaise, design that golden bridge that Sun Tzu, admonished us to build for our enemy’s retreat.
Categories: Art, Musings, politics, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Memory Theatre-an artwork in progress

sculpture stationsculpture station

Second Memory Station

A dream:  I am building a stretcher (wood frame to stretch canvas over for painting) for my February art show.  After I nail it together, I see that I’ve used 2×4’s which are too heavy and ungainly for the size of the painting.  The center brace is too short and part of it is made of ground contact, pressure treated wood, a toxic and inappropriate material for a stretcher.

Now this is where it gets interesting.  A dream about my upcoming art show.  This project is continuous  with the practice I undertook to memorize dreams in order to gain a broader perspective on the work.  This is a view informed by the heart as well as mind.  A kind of feedback loop is created:  The intention to bring the dream to the waking world coincides with an awareness of waking life (art show) within the dream state.  This opens a dialogue between the flow of unconscious imagery and conscious intent.  It gives valuable clues on how to proceed.

I’m not sure what the symbols of treated 2×4’s and toxic ground contact, pressure treated wood tells me.  But I have an intuition that it relates to right proportion, appropriate measure-ways and means.

I’ve long intuited that lucid dreaming abides by the golden mean proportion.  It is not just control of dreams, but a way to avoid getting lost in allurements, terrors and distractions; mesmerized by the phantasms that present themselves as real.  It depends on the right proportion between waking and dream.  These contraries are held in a dynamic tension and generate a third element-a state which transcends contradiction. The point of all this is to gain clear awareness of profound emptiness.  This is the truth of the most fundamental Buddhist koan:

Form is emptiness, emptiness is form. – Heart Sutra

I began sculpting memory stations with plaster to use as a basis for drawings- studies for a series of large paintings.

This one has taken a vaguely angelic form.angel drawingangel drawing

The challenge is to paint these ethereal beings without sappy cliché.

  Without contraries there is no Progression.       -William Blake

Categories: Paintings in Progress | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Window on the Pureland

pureland window

Window on the Pureland by Craig Spencer

A few years ago I was engaged in the Buddhist practice of Amitabha visualization.  Amitabha is the western Buddha of infinite light.  It is taught that if we practice his mantra and visualize Amitabha’s Pureland as made up of insubstantial, jewels of luminous light, we can visit his peaceful Pureland in our dreams.  This is of immense benefit for readying us for a peaceful death and helps us navigate the dangerous pathways of the bardo.

It is also said that, ultimately, this very samsaric realm we inhabit is no different from the blessed Pureland.

pureland painting 3

The Pureland by Craig Spencer

Once, as I slept in my studio on a Spring night, I dreamed I flew over a desert landscape  chanting the Tibetan version of Amitabha’s mantra: Om ami dewa hri.  I flew over a bombed out village and saw scenes of bloody violence and suffering.  I thought: Strange, the mantra doesn’t seem to be workingThis is no blessed pure land but a vision of pure hell.  I chanted the mantra with more intensity: Om ami dewa hri, om ami dewa hri.   But all I saw was hellish torment and fighting.  All I heard was the sound of screams, gunfire and explosions. Finally, the dream  faded and I woke in my studio where all was peaceful and quiet. The only sound was the singing of birds.  I lifted myself to see, outside the window, the cherry tree sending forth radiant blossoms in a lovely vision of luminous, rainbow colored jewels of light.

Categories: Paintings in Progress | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

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