Crossing Streams (is Bad)


Buddhist Geeks has finally crossed streams into my own past. They’ve posted an interview but not with a Buddhist this time but, instead, a practitioner of Western Magic (I have and always will refuse to use “magick” as a word). The interview is The Great Work of Western Magick (sic) and the interview is with Alan Chapman, whom I don’t know. He is co-running a site, Open Enlightenment.

If you go to the site, Buddhist Geeks has begun adding transcripts so you can either listen to the audio or read a transcript of it. I found the interview a little superficial, with its focus on the Holy Guardian Angel and Crowley, but the Buddhist Geeks admit that this is really outside of their area of knowledge. I would have preferred to see more discussion of Neoplatonism, Theurgy, and contemplative practices, which do exist in Western Magic, if often overshadowed by the robes, wands, and candles bit.

As my longer term friends and readers know, I spent a lot of years involved in this sort of thing before, effectively, walking away to focus on Buddhism and my spirituality there. This was a gradual process that took some time. I did so because I found the Western Mystery Tradition (as it is often called) unfulfilling (spiritually) for myself over time and because, as a completely broken tradition in terms of lineage, people are often just making it up as they go along. This has its positive points in the level of freedom and creativity that people have but the negative is that its practitioners are not, generally, receiving an organized body of knowledge and technique that has been tried, found to work, and then passed on to another generation over hundreds or thousands of years. In my opinion, this leads to a lot of people (not all) spending much of their time recreating the wheel and mired in their own neuroses as they make stuff up to do out of what appeals to them. The exceptions to this would be, not surprisingly, within some of the Christian traditions that preserve aspects of this kind of spiritual work but then one has to be a monotheist (or a theist at all) to get much value from it. The more directly Neoplatonic contemplative work seems much closer to home but, again, people are forced to re-invent it from a body of texts, rather than from personal transmission, mouth to ear.

Also, while the Western Mystery Tradition has something akin to the Bodhisattva ideal with the concept of adepts and their ultimate role, it is very much in the background for a lot of people instead of front and center, as it should be. A lot of the WMT work eventually suffers from the “now what?” phenomena after basic skills are mastered.

There is quite a body of people who have come into Buddhism from this sort of background but, for the most part, they keep fairly quiet about it because of the cultural stigma attached to these sorts of “weird” spiritual practices. It was really only meeting fellow travelers with a similar background that I realized that Buddhism was really for me and, eventually, it allowed me to let that stuff go by the wayside.

In any case, it is interesting to see the Buddhist Geeks branching out but I find their interviews with Buddhists to be much more interesting to me.