STDs (Spiritually Transmitted Diseases)
STDs. Spiritually Transmitted Diseases. Or Spiritually Transmitted Delusions. They’re synonymous. (I see that my friend, Alita Arose, a gifted performance artist, recently posted on what she called “Sexually Transmitted Demons,” another creative use of the “STDs” acronym. Well, Sexually Transmitted Demons” is a real problem too, but I will refer you to her IG feed, @AlitaArose, for more on that one.) So what do I mean by Spiritually Transmitted Diseases, or Spiritually Transmitted Delusions? And how do you become an STD carrier? I am not talking about false teachings or false teachers. If you are a false teacher and/or you are somehow propagating false teachings you are just trying to con people, and put something over on them, and in many cases on yourself. But to be an STD carrier you have to have some degree of realization, you have to have something of value to share, that’s how the STD moves. You have to know something, you have to have some real insight, some real experiences, some realization. You have to be earnest and have some grounding in experiential truth to become a carrier. Some among us are riddled with STDs, however well-intended, even if they have been touched by the reality itself.
And these STDs are transmitted through teachings.
[NOTE: This is yantra of Chhinnamasta. She is one of the ten Tantric goddesses known as Mahavidyas. She is a headless goddess. A fierce, red-skinned young woman, with matted hair, full breasts, and a blue lotus near her heart. Depicted here in coitus with Siva, she is often shown standing in fighting stance on top of copulating lovers. She beheads herself. The three streams of blood nourish the two yoginis who serve her, as well as her own severed head. Multiple meanings speak out through this powerful image: interdependence of life, death and sexuality, awakening of Kundalini and the Siddhis, eradication of ignorance. Some consider her worship dangerous. Yes. But aghoris call on her. "Srim hrim klim aim Vajravairocaniye hum hum phat svaha ..."]
No doubt that there are other STDs, but tonight I just want to focus on the one I call “Usurper.” What “Usurper” does is it changes a teaching into its opposite, e.g., if something is meant to free you it imprisons you, instead of bringing you into union, liberation and awakening, it leads you into further imprisonment, isolation and ignorance.
All with the best of intentions, of course.
I have identified three strains of Usurper, there are others, but let’s focus on these:
Strain A --Tables of Erroneous Correspondences, i.e., false characterizations drawn from the misleading misapplication of provisional symbols. It’s a big problem. It’s in many worthwhile books of occult lore. It’s in many useful yoga teacher training (YTT) manuals. It’s in many of our minds. What do I mean by “Erroneous Correspondences”? For example: “Male / Sky / Sun / Yang / White, Active” and “Female / Moon / Earth / Yin / Black / Passive.”
And it can go on and on and on ...
The Table of Erroneous Correspondences can get very long.
Maybe you remember that in the Tibetan Book of the Great Liberation, Padma Sambhava talks about the Clear Light of the Voidness, and how it is of the Dharma Kaya, and he likens it to a “cloudless sky” and that “knowing the All-Consciousness in one’s own mind, one knows it to be as void of quality as the sky.” He uses the sky as a symbol over and over to communicate something about the nature of reality, but then he is quick to emphasize that this is only a “provisional symbol,” i.e., that it’s “only symbolically so,” and therefore the nature of reality “does not depend upon the sky symbol.” In other words, it’s just a metaphor. The depth of consciousness is like a cloudless sky, ok, but don’t get hung up on my metaphor. Nevertheless the metaphor ends up in a table, the great Table of Erroneous Correspondences, in which energies, metaphors, forces of nature, gender, different dimensions are all sorted out, separated and wrongly categorized, and then knowledge of this table and its false correspondences supplants direct experience and eradicates wonder. Life, our beings, the universe and its elements, it is all much more complex than this Table of Erroneous Correspondences implies. So this Table of Erroneous Correspondences has to be broken up, among other damaging side-effects, it serves to reinforce the perversion that is the patriarchal framework, this Table has to be left behind, all of its contents have to be allowed to redefine, regroup, realign, re-orientate themselves in our understanding, in our own explorations … if you do this you will see they will line up in new ways, different ways, very revealing ways, much more dynamic ways …
Strain B -- Disempowering Memes, e.g., “What you resist, persists.” This one came up a lot in 2016. When people don’t want to get involved in political struggle (or any other kind of struggle really), when they just want to turn away from conflict, because either they are afraid to engage, or they just rather live on in denial, so they say, “well, what you resist, persists, I’m uncomfortable with that word ‘resistance,’ just don’t give it energy, don’t give fascism any energy, you’re just making it stronger.” So I call that a disempowering meme. Of course there are circumstances in which “what you resist, persists” is wisdom, and medicine, and an appropriate prescription, but not in all circumstances, and not even in most circumstances. It’s a misapplication. It’s the wrong prescription in many circumstances. It’s based on a misdiagnosis. The wrong prescription can be dangerous, even deadly.
Strain C – Big Picture Perversion is perhaps the most virulent strain of Usurper.
Here are two examples:
“Divine Authorship of Everything” – Many yoga teachers have painted themselves into a corner within the span of a 45-minute noon yoga class, by saying something about “how everything that happens in our lives is by divine will” and that “the divine intelligence is in everything” and then a student says, “Well, what about Hitler? What about Evil?” And confusion overtakes them all. That mis-teaching is so facile and warped. Divine authorship of everything, yes. But everything means everything, and within that everything there is a whole lot going on, there is randomness, within that everything, there is chaos theory within that everything, there is a whole lot that divine authorship is not micro-managing, it’s not moving around the atoms of everything like they were black and white Go pieces.
Perhaps the most important one is the “Oneness vs. Duality” story – So “Duality bad, Oneness good.” “Oh your thinking is so dualistic.” Your political thinking, or your approach to psychological problems, it’s so dualistic. It’s all a Oneness!” Well, the reality is it isn’t Duality or Oneness, actually the reality, the truth is in the granularity of everything, and the complexity of everything, and the truth of oneness is found in granularity and specificity, and the uniqueness of everything. It’s very different from this infected state of “Oh, let’s rise up into oneness and leave duality behind.” Life is much richer than that.
Now it is vital to boost your mystical immune system to avoid contracting Usurper and other STDs. This list of boosters might surprise you.
- Your True, Primal Conscience. Not the morality that is imposed by the social order, or in your family, or in your tradition, but your own innate, native, pristine, in-born conscience, it has been with you before the beginning, it’s the depth of you that just knows right from wrong, even if it can’t explain the why, it just knows.
- Chop Wood and Carry Water. Just that, chopping wood and carrying water, whatever that looks like in your circumstances. Some form of useful manual labor. Some outdoor activity that sustains. It makes us strong, it keeps us honest. It grounds us. It moves from the belly, from the root, from the feet.
- Common Sense, Sense of Humor, And More Common Sense. The great Madame Blavatsky, founder of the Theosophical Society, articulated this as an occult secret of the greatest importance. And my Yoda, the legendary American sage Joe Miller pass it on to some of us it in the late 20th Century.
- Somatic, Intuitive and (Almost As If) “Olfactory” Information – information that your five bodies give you, the information your intuition gives you, and that sense of “this just doesn’t smell right.”
- Digging into granularity and embracing complexity in your quest for the mystical secrets of the universe, and yes allowing for conflict in your quest for the truth of what it means to be human.