Sonata Theme & Variations Theoretical

Breaching the Ephemeral

Intra Inter Media

We breach as a whale breaches. We simply say “it’s breaching”, leaving the object implicit. Of course it is the boundary of the water. Of course it is the boundary of the concrete. Only in our case there are not two sections partitioned by a surface. Or, we could imagine the surface at the very bottom. To move at all is to breach.

We breach as of a contract. We breathe by violating. Inhale ephemeral, exhale not-ephemeral. The surface ruptures and is restored after we go back under. But, maybe not so faithfully. It is not as easy as water, not as fluid, and we come back to the same rupture to breach again.

We breach as of a defense. We want to get to the other side. What’s there? We are only infracting. We must go back under. The violator is caught and punished. The whale does not float nor fly. …Still, we must breathe. We must be free. There is something we need on the other side. We breach.

Subtle and Secular

Tripartite body: corpus, animus, spiritus; nirmanakaya, sambkogakaya, dharmakaya. So, we have an axis of “ephemerality”, dense to subtle. Two surfaces and an intermediate. Maybe there are “surfaces” only because extremes are easier to grasp. A distant thing gestured at vaguely seems concrete. Clouds seem to have a “surface” from far away. But we breach––what’s there?

What is “subtle” or “energy” body? What is the “astral” plane? If these are the same, in that ancient magical and spiritual traditions talk about them similarly yet specifically, it may be more direct to answer: “Is ‘energy’ the same thing as concept or imagination?” Or, “Is contemporary secular meta-abstraction the same kind of thing as ancient magic and spiritualism?”

But first, “How weird are the limits of possible experience?” There is no relevant reality beyond what could ever be perceived (including indirectly), but what I have experienced already is not an ideal measure of what I could possibly experience ever.

As for experiences I’ve already had that many people would not believe: I have communicated with spirits which verified their separateness from my own imagination with minor miracles like telling me trivial details about the near future. I have had very specific prayers answered outside of what seems normal. I have met a sage whose presence was categorically unlike anyone else I’ve ever known; looking into his eyes for the first time transfixed and disoriented me kind of like a psychedelic onset but much faster. I have seen him demonstrate effective prophecy and “magical” herbal medicine from his family lineage. I have seen spiritual possession and performed an exorcism, or at least someone I knew reported hallucinatory experiences resembling what I understand about possession, and my exorcism worked to stop their rampage.

As for what I’ve heard and believe: My mom tells me my grandmother was supernaturally skilled at qigong but my grandfather made her stop because it began to seem scary, even demonic. She also tells a story of a dead relative’s face appearing clearly in a photo, and the photographer being asked to burn the photo. The root lama of the Vajrayana lineage my teacher belongs to remembers details of his past life and has clairvoyant dreams, and has been in the presence of many great sages with a presence similar to the sage I knew, and who also demonstrated miracles like clairvoyance and prophecy. My Vajrayana teacher also says that the rainbow body phenomenon happens literally.

So here is my lower bound for “How weird are the limits of possible experience?”, and to try at an upper bound, we return to the other questions. Reworded: “How mundane is the ‘energetic’, ‘subtle’, or ‘astral’? How much of it have I already experienced?”

A quasi-Socratic dialogue between an imperfect teacher and an impatient student:

Impatient: Is energy the same as concept or imagination?

Imperfect: No, because your ability to conceptualize or imagine is local and limited. It is not necessarily causal, nor necessarily has any influence outside of itself unless you act on it. Sometimes you are wrong or totally deluded, etc.

Impatient: Then, is energy of the “stuff” as concept or imagination? Or of the same category?

Imperfect: No, because the “stuff” of your concept or imagination is just for example, neural tissue, probably. As for category, of course it just depends on where you draw the categories.

Impatient: Then, is the relationship between “energy” and all of the physical realm the same as the relationship between my concept and imagination and my physical body?

Imperfect: No, because in many ways your physical body is not readily comparable to the physical stuff beyond it. Maybe as above, so below, but only to a certain extent.

Impatient: Then, is it worthwhile to practice astrology and magic and other supernatural methods to manipulate the physical realm via manipulation of the astral realm?

Imperfect: No, because I am not a powerful magician. If you have gotten to a point where you can get nothing further out of magical texts, nor know any teacher who can teach you any more beyond what you can figure out for yourself, then it’s pretty futile to try and keep squeezing. Besides, there are other easier, more effective ways of getting what you want in the physical realm.

Impatient: Then, is secular theory like statistics or physics categorically the same as magical theory like astrology or alchemy?

Imperfect: No, in all the obvious ways. Just read any statistics treatise vs. any alchemy treatise, and when you understand both the differences are very apparent.

Impatient: Then, is ancient “magical” theory worthless now that we have stuff like statistics and physics and computer science?

Imperfect: No, because contemporary theory is also very limited, especially in its scope. Also, it is quite severely swayed by fashions, which inevitably tend to be shorter than the cycles of fashion in “ancient magical” theory, because as a whole it is more oriented toward the present than toward the general.

Impatient: Then, is there any definite discernible distinction between the “subtle” or “magical” vs the more mundane or secular stuff that extends beyond the physical? Stuff like concept or theory or imagination, after all?

Imperfect: No.

Ablation and Abstraction

For the Latin tripartite body the etymology is quite obvious. For the Sanskrit, roughly, nirmanakaya is change-body, sambkogakaya is bliss-body, and dharmakaya is nature-body. Change as in metamorphosis; change as forms change, as material things are impermanent, as physical reality is always in a state of flux. Bliss as in pleasure, enjoyment; a certain sensation and state of mind, most evidently ecstatic when it is first discovered, maybe when constant conceptual thought has been cast away for the first time. “Dharma” is already a more common word; maybe it’s enough. Nature as in “the nature of things”; perhaps 道 (dao); law as in “law of nature”.

Why are there three bodies rather than two? Again, “what is the ‘subtle’ or ‘energetic’?” But now we approach an answer through ablation. What would it be like without each body?

But we are quickly stuck. The bodies are not separate from one another. There is an intertwining that makes separation impossible. Except intertwining implies a geometry. Is the ephemeral geometric? Sometimes obviously. Trivially, geometry itself is ephemeral and geometric. Then, as long as we have distance we have geometry, and as long as we have measure between pairs, we have distance. I have written before about certain geometric perspectives on a tripartite body. But this intertwining is not especially part of that; so perhaps we should merely say “inseparable.”

But then, why have three bodies? In fact, why have three bodies rather than one? If we cannot have the direct ablation, let us ablate our relationship to the idea, which is different from the idea itself. Let’s say we have only an idea of the corpus. Without the concept of animus or spiritus, we do not grasp pattern or dynamics. Everything is merely as it is perceived, in that moment. There is no memory, and no induction.

With the same technique we can ablate our understanding of animus or of spiritus to understand why there are three bodies instead of two. Again I want to emphasize that the relationship to the idea is not identical to the signified of the idea as a signifier. The signified thing cannot really be productively ablated even in the thought experiment, for at least two reasons:

1. It requires too much understanding of everything else––how would the dynamics of a physical system change if we ablated gravity? Well, we would have to understand all the forces other than gravity to say. On the other hand, it is much easier to answer “what would we think about the system if we did not understand gravity?”, because we have a better grasp of everything else we already know.

2. The nature of the signified is already often uncertain. Abstractions can be vague. Even if given an answer to “what if this is removed?”, we might not be able to agree if it is correct. This is why there was a big shift in fashion to philosophy of language, and why mystics often emphasized how the domain of mystic manipulation is merely the symbolic. If our power is from towers of abstraction, we do not touch the “real” directly.

So, what is it like to have concept of corpus and spiritus, but not animus; or corpus and animus, but not spiritus? Animus is often associated with mind. The tripartite division is also given as body, spirit, and soul. Perhaps the easiest split is animus as dynamics and spiritus as teleology. Without spiritus, there are physical things in motion, but no identities. There is memory and prediction of specific dynamics, but no “character”. Without animus, there are coherent characters, but no understanding of dynamics. I think this is why perception and control of the “subtle body”, referring to the animus, is often emphasized as a goal of meditative practice. To master the subtle body is to directly master behavior.

Immediate and Intermediate

There are deeper consequences. Why is the subtle body so difficult to master if it is more direct? Shouldn’t spiritus/dharmakaya be more abstruse in a secular world? Well, maybe the answer is quite obvious. Perhaps secularism isn’t so secular after all. It is still too easy to grasp to identities and reifications. Conscious thought, even when secular, is more often the manipulation of spiritus-bodies than animus-bodies. Part of the difficulty is that the animus-plane––the “astral” or “energy” plane cannot be directly talked about, for a rather simple reason: because to name is to reify as a spiritus.

But then the aim of “subtle body” meditations or practices is rather clear after all. It cannot be talked about, not because of some woo woo, but because that to be noticed and mastered is the dynamics, rather than the verbal idea of the dynamics. As long as it is in words or fixed concepts, it is wrong. And attainment is known by its fruit; new motions, new behaviors; perhaps, new correct predictions from new (nameable) angles; new animus.

And there are radical consequences in turning this understanding, developed in introspective meditation, out on the world again. As above so below type beat. What are the animus and spiritus of something non-human? At first glance this may actually be easier to answer––the animus is its behavior, and the spiritus its abstract identity. But remember how animus and spiritus each feel, and perhaps it becomes possible to empathize with non-humans. How much difference is there between your experience of uncontrollable desire (a mechanical behavior pattern), and an animal’s or machine’s, or any object in motion?

And then spiritus; does the perception and manipulation of it, and especially its great immediacy, make us unique? But the child who has not learned to abstract through assimilation and accommodation and such things is often an ideal symbol of mystic attainment. Becoming animal-like or child-like, becoming natural. Or in Deleuzian terms, becoming-schizo, refusing the Oedipal complex. Being aware of the flows and mechanical assemblages, of being part of them… Why do we hold it high?

Let me make a geometric image again. The intermediate is between each extreme, but it is beyond each extreme if you consider an approach from outside a surface, as if to breach it. In our case, perhaps a tube of three segments twisted into a horseshoe: both corpus and spiritus are immediate, but animus is intermediate, therefore beyond, and a little unnatural.

Subjective and Stochastic

Another confusion within the ephemeral came up in a recent conversation with some hedge fund people. Your concrete and total omniscience is opposed by subjectivity and stochasticity both, but these two are quite different.

The conversation was about evaluating financial models or signals, and deciding when a model can be trusted enough to be put into production, or an instrument based on it sold. I have seen similar confusions elsewhere though, most famously in the confusion between whether Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle is about knowledge or about physical systems.

Again there is a conflation between our relationship to a concept vs to what the concept is supposed to signify. Subjectivity is about the impossibility of universal certainty due to differences in frames of reference. You cannot get a definite universal answer to a subjective question because you will get different answers if you change your frame of reference. Different people will have different answers, if you will, but e.g. someone asked twice might count as different people, if they have changed very much. Meanwhile, stochasticity is about the impossibility of universal certainty due to the generating function being non-deterministic, regardless of frame of reference. The same question asked (or measurement taken) in exactly the same context has a different answer each time.

But again we only have our relationship to context to manipulate. We only actually have our own frame of reference after all. We do not actually know every aspect of the context, so maybe we cannot tell if we are receiving different answers because the context has changed or not. Nonetheless we should relate differently to the subjective vs the stochastic, insofar as we can conceive of them.

For example, subjective but non-stochastic information is concretely knowable conditioned on a frame of reference. For the hedge fund’s models especially, it is entirely different to consider an indicator’s quality uncertain because it is subjective vs stochastic, and each warrants specific approaches. If it is subjective, then it is a just matter of knowing what customers want, or of knowing whose opinions matter, in the case of internal “customers”. If it is stochastic, then perhaps that stochasticity itself can be quantized, and reduced if that is important.

But complications clearly emerge from only having direct access to one subjective frame. Things are not so easy and there are rarely just “just”s. The matter of resolving stochasticity is inevitably a social matter, because even “stochasticity” or “subjectivity” are themselves concepts which we are relating to, as (tripartite) bodies in the world. To pursue concrete knowledge is an act. To be convinced of truth is a sensation. Maybe we do not agree on the conclusion until we agree on the premise, but there is is no root cause, and everything circles back on everything else.

Math and Metaphor

Circling back, evoking dependent origination. Evoking the “magical manifestation matrix”, or the Avatamsaka sutra. Mirrors in mirrors, fractal structure, dazzling and kaleidoscopic.

But––fractal structure. Must it be dazzling and kaleidoscopic? So many people fancy it. It is profound. It becomes a theme and object of obsession. But fractal is also “just” a mathematical concept. A generalization of dimensionality. Well, dimensionality is something people obsess over too. Concepts really cannot be separated from our human relation with them after all. Frequencies, oscillations, energy levels1As in, solutions to the Thomson problem, entropy… Even Pythagoras was a mystic.

But, with a rigorously-defined mathematical concept, there is a coherent sense of applying it correctly or incorrectly2Maybe more accurately, canonically or non-canonically. There is the beauty of abstraction and generality, but different from poetic generalization or analogy where for the most part anything goes as long as it works in the latter (the poetic) context. The application of a mathematical concept beyond the context of its original derivation is not really like metaphor. In metaphor, the original doesn’t really matter; it’s the metaphorical application itself that counts. As long as the analogy is understood, it is good.

Meanwhile, mathematical abstractions define the criteria of generalization within their originals. Or at least we expect that in the future, someone can do so in a way that we do not expect for poetic metaphor. We can generalize the concept of distance beyond the square root of the sum of squared distance on each axis as in Euclidean space, to elliptic or hyperbolic distance for instance, or even “spaces” with a less obviously intuitive spatial metaphor, like Hamming or Chebyshev distance.

As long as we can have pairwise measure, we can have distance, and we can have a geometry. But still the abstraction of “measure” is defined in a way that goes beyond its specific application in each instance. We do not expect a poet using verbal metaphor to define the rules of her use, and for each use of metaphor to simultaneously prescribe a new category of appropriate use. A poet can imitate a metaphor she has seen elsewhere, but this imitation of the instance is not the application of an abstraction specified by the predecessor.

And it is very different to use a concept mathematically vs metaphorically, even a concept by the same name. Again, the difference is in whether the context of interpretation is specified by the original or by the application. Fractals, frequencies, energy levels, entropy, etc. when applied metaphorically should not be expected to behave like their mathematical formulations beyond the scope of the metaphorical context, just as we would not stretch any other metaphor too far, and expect the metaphorical object to behave totally like the original.

I have tried to always be clear about when I am using a mathematical concept mathematically, and to make the necessary elaborations and definitions to be canonically formalizable if necessary. In fact, similar rules apply to the use of other canonical contexts established by the original rather than the application, and I have tried to be clear about these as well.

Extra Inter Media

Finally, I would like to say a few things about my current inter-mediate situation. I incorporated a company earlier this year, and was consulting for a hedge fund the past few months. Now I have decided not to do consultancy-like things at least for a little while, and might raise a small round to build a specific product, which I might write about soon.

I stopped writing for a long time because I had nothing to say, and then recently I wrote a few things again because of tumultuous love. I very much like being in love, and I at least like the beauty of turmoil in its aftermath, if not its sensation. I also wrote several more private letters, which I have said before are really my favorite among all the things I write. I might publish them eventually.

Cultivating “same taste” in a total and radical sense seems like it might be a little extreme, but my opinion here isn’t very solid, and I have begun a mentorship under a certain Vajrayana teacher. My decision here was surely related to the tumultuous love, but not completely. There’s not much more to say about this; it’s a lot like what I expected, which maybe is bad, but it’s early.

Also, I think my interests have again shifted away from most of my friends and followers. This means I expect even less people than before to understand what I write as wholes (even less, as one whole), and anybody who understands in wholes to understand less particulars. Sometimes I have grandiose delusional fantasies about being rediscovered many generations after death and having many scholars devoted to a thorough exegesis. It’s fun.

Maybe when I am older I will do something like Bach compiling his favorite compositions into the Mass in B minor. But, I might also start making more exoteric media. I subtitled this blog “eclectic esoterica, exoterically”, but it has not very exoteric after all. I think I’ll try making YouTube videos (haha I’m inter-media get it haha), maybe starting with explanations of my old discoveries like the correspondence between the Taijitu and the Kabbalist Tree of Life, or that dialetheistic fuzzy logic with -1 as the falsy value. If you know a lot about making videos and have recommendations for good resources, please let me know.

Fugue Impromptu Theoretical

Flight from Flowers

In dream, a verse of a cheesy song I came up with on the toilet developed into a fugal exposition. Wherever I cry, flowers bloom––1Too many girls have misunderstood this. I only mean that I like to make art when feeling intensely. Well, maybe a little more…

revising and completing the shit tier harmonizing lyrics is left as an exercise for the wakeful reader

Fugue is flight. Die Kunst der Fuge. Wouldn’t we all like to know? Flight from fear? Flight from pain? Flight––from itself! From a motif recurring with variation. Transposed, translated, dilated, reversed, permuted in every which way.

“How like life!” I exclaim with just enough irony to deflect the painful accusations of cliché I somehow fear. Fleeing… just fast enough, by a little variation.

A flight from self as if there was a self. A self-made self, made “self” by its recurrence (with variation). There it is, and there it is again, until it becomes something.

神秀 says:


惠能 says:


Shenxiu btfo! As if he was taking himself too seriously. As if he really wanted to be the sixth patriarch. An imagined self, made real enough by desire to feel the pain of not existing, or of being lost. “At all times we must strive to polish it; and must not let dust collect”––implying a teleology. And a teleology from desire is most wretched. To confound fate and fetish: “this must be destined because this is best.” As if blind to the subject who can only say “best” while wanting “what’s best.” The basis of delusion.

“Fundamentally there is not a single thing.” Perhaps we do not need to go so far. But at least then there is nowhere for dust to collect. Or, there is nothing to desire, and nothing to impose (on). Because the imposed image will fade. The yidam is only a symbol. Because to induce is to violate, but the inviolable cycles will overcome you yet. So induced joy is inauspicious.

引兑 (yin dui), ཡི་དམ (yidam), and induce. Like yada yada yada. Like the smallest letter, י‎ (yod). As featured in the Gospel of Saint Matthew––”For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” Iota (ι), a variation on yod. I, a variation on iota. 引兑,未光;来兑,凶––but, you’re kind of 凶 sometimes too… (🥺)

No, no. This is the stuff that really matters. It’s history! Much sturdier than nonsense. It is about tracing to a consensual reality. Because practically it is easier to agree on “this happened; this (event) is related to that; this is worth imitating; this is not,” than on a construction of abstractions on abstractions ad infinitum, where even relation is quite arbitrary, not to speak of value, or intent. At least the past is a better symbol of the present than whatever else.

To the girl who would always spin whenever I held her hand and said, “spin!”: thank you for always spinning. And to the girl who stopped talking to me forever more after I said, “it’s very painful to talk to you”: thank you for that too. How very simple! It is a sweet and savory ironic tension when I say something very reasonable but do not believe myself. I think they called it “narrative irony” in school, as long as I am supposed to be narrating. Well, here I am narrating after all. So there is your irony, s’il vous plaît.

Narrating as if something were writhing to be released. Yet, with restraint, subduing as if wrestling an animal with ropes. As if it’s bad to feel too much, or too intensely. To feel too good, and leave others behind. Or to feel too bad, as if teaching a child about insincerity. That kind of display.

Or wrestling as if narration were barbed wire, or something more dangerous yet. Because to be unskillful is to kill. Flight by following; to follow and vary, but not to destroy. To develop a theme without diluting or overpowering it, while effortfully maintaining an itself, so that there is something to follow. That kind of fugal accompaniment.

To exercise restraint, reminding us of why such lengths are taken about how the natural state is actually just right there. So much metaphor, about mistaking the moon pointed at for the finger pointing. Or a rope in the garden for a snake.

Is it really so difficult to let everything be just as it is? As if it were ugly to be the wrong thing. To be unprepared. As if we were always skillfully skirting around and avoiding a fundamentally ugly world. What are we afraid to show children, as if to profane them? Is it ugly to explode? Well, probably in fugue it would be. Yes, to the spectators, and especially to the performer who is familiar with past iterations in study and practice. So, we are performing…

Trying to put in a moral again. Trying to iterate on a theme. Trying to breach the ephemeral. To capture. To mean, as if meaning were not itself already a very restrictive intent. To accidentally make beauty subservient to theory and art. Even while playing, to show that we are at play.

Because to interpret already carries an intent that is too easy to project empathetically. Absurdity need not intend to be absurd. Nor need pattern intend its pattern. But a fugue is a fugue, and not everything is a fugue. Not everything flees from itself. Because we say so? Because we agree? But that “because” is an intent again; a theme too strong to ignore. A motif we cannot flee from. A formal constraint too strong.

No, I have not been reading James Joyce. No, not Ezra Pound either. Not any of them. Anyway, the original verse I came up with on the toilet:

No more flight from pain,

Cuz wherever I cry, flowers bloom.
Oh the colors!

And wherever I lie, signs of doom.
Hopeless lovers...

But, of course it cannot be about love. At least it cannot be about love always. I flee.

Applied Sonata Theoretical

Analyzing Superhuman Entities

Tripartite Body

In Hermetic philosophy and many other esoteric traditions a being’s body is divided in three: the corpus, the animus, and the spiritus. As the Hermetic alchemist Kremmerz writes:

Gods, daimons, and men: among them the same relationship exists as among the three states of perceptible matter: that which is heavy, that which is light, and that which is evanescent. The synthesis of nature presents the three states of matter: solid, liquid, and gaseous.

This number three recurs in the kingdoms of visible nature. This number makes up the series in divine progression: man (the heavy body that imprisons an intelligence), daimon (the light body that comes near to intelligence), spirit (the evanescent body, which has not even an ideal form, and is symbolized by light).

Giuliano Kremmerz, The Hermetic Science of Transformation

We can understand this division most clearly in ourselves through introspection, but the same division applies equally to non-human beings. The corpus is static substance; the animus animates the corpus; the spiritus determines the nature of the animus. The axis along this hierarchy of determination is the orthogonal axis through the “planes” of being.

Historically, esoteric scholars have been concerned with beings like states or cultures. The anonymous author of Meditations on the Tarot, distinguishing spirits from egregores, writes:

However, it is the souls and spirits from above—forming, inspiring and directing communities of human beings—who nourish and vivify human souls: for example, Archangels (who are the spirits of nations); Principalities (Archai or “time spirits”); the spiritual entity which is behind Tibetan Buddhism; not to mention Christ, whose Flesh and Blood each day vivifies and unites the Church (Christ’s Mystical Body). Egregores are therefore nourished by men, whilst the latter are nourished by souls and spirits from above.

Nevertheless, although God, Christ, the Holy Virgin, the spiritual hierarchies, the saints, the Church (or the Mystical Body of Christ) are real entities, there still exists also a phantom or egregore of the Church, which is its “double”, just as every man, every nation, every religion, etc., have their “doubles”.

Meditations on the Tarot, Letter VI: The Lover

The tripartite body of a superhuman being is not a purely conceptual existence, “nourished by men”, but constitutes a free and noumenally independent existence.

[T]he Angels, Archangels, Principalities, Powers, Virtues, Dominions, Thrones, Cherubim and Seraphim. All these beings—including man (the Ischim)—have an existence that is either real or illusionary. If they have a real existence, if they are not a mirage, they are independent entities endowed not only with a phenomenal independence but also a noumenal independence. Now, noumenal independence is what we understand by freedom.

Meditations on the Tarot, Letter IV: The Emperor

Beings with real existences exist across all planes of being. They are not subject to any human’s will, but are superhuman and free, and human-like in their spiritual structure. They have the same capacity to act, to will, to affect, and are subjects as much as they are objects. These beings are the spirits of states, organizations, languages, cultures, and other systems.

The corpus of an organization of people is not even merely the union of its constituents’ corpora, because physical beings do not have strict boundaries. The corpus associated with an animus is better thought of as a domain over which the animus has influence. A human body has a strong center of subjectivity where the nerves run, but exists in the world and is not separate from it. It uses tools and cognizes via external artifacts. Even its immediate substance is constantly renewed. Similarly, the interaction of individuals does not merely join their domains of influence in the world, but creates a new context of interaction with its its own physical scope.

With the advent of systems theory and cybernetics, we have an understanding powerful enough to quickly create new media in which other systems can be represented. There have long been systems like law and theory which duplicate and co-affect a system outside of themselves. Now we have the computer (which is only abstract), and its worldly extensions in beings like a program or a computational blockchain.

Each representation-capable medium contains extensional bodies of other spirits represented in it, or emerging from the interaction of these spirits, so that within each plane of being there may be diverse realms governed by these media. Each medium is also itself a free being with a noumenal body across each plane of being.

Information as a Fluid

From another perspective which diminishes separateness, subjects and objects are only structured regions in a rarefied field of pure information. In this sense, information is a substance so abstract as to be meaningless; yet it can be measured and analyzed, and retains some aspect of its mathematical sense as the capacity to resolve an uncertainty. It is more general than flows like matter, energy, value, and libido; yet flows of each of these quantities are necessarily also flows of information. In this sense information is the most general fluidic quantity, an ur-fluid.

The Dao Jing of the Dao De Jing, as explained to me by the lineage master of the Wind Fire Thunder (风火雷; feng huo lei) sect in a WeChat message, is about clearly perceiving the front and back of natural changes, the patterns of subject-change (self-changing) and object-change (being-changed) (道德经的上经为道,指要参透自然变化的正与反;自变和被变的规律,道本。).

This association between front/back and subject/object provides a ready analogy in the context of information flows. A subject is a region of positive divergence; an object is a region of negative divergence. The subject acts on the world outside it, transmitting information outwards; the object is acted upon by the world outside it, receiving information inwards.

The distinction between esoterica and exoterica, or between the sacred and the mundane, are also matters of viscosity or of external barriers to information flow. Information cannot flow easily past a physical barrier, a geographical boundary like a mountain or ocean, or a political boundary like of a city or nation. Now the internet has made such flows much easier than before, and the more powerful boundaries now exist in a separate realm. Information does not flow easily between languages, and concealment in twilight language still has a substantial effect.

From the fluidic perspective, the distinction between the planes of existence is a distinction of dimension. The corpus exists in a static field. The animus adds the dimension of time. The spiritus adds a dimension beyond time. But there are many dimensions beyond time, hence the continuity of the planes.

Metaverse and AR

With metaverse and AR technologies, the relations between bodies across planes of existence is immediately relevant. A simulated body directly replaces a physical body for a time, and they exist on the same plane insofar as they are experienced in the same way. On a simple level of analysis, the bodies compete because a spirit might only need one body on each plane. An inferior body can be thrown away, or naturally disappears as it is no longer maintained.

The relationship between AR and traditional experience therefore parallels the relationship between blockchain computation and traditional computation. They have the capacity to hold a body of the same spirit on the same plane. The new body may coexist with the old body temporarily or indefinitely; the same spirit can have multiple bodies in the same plane at an equilibrium, and different media have different degrees of exclusivity with each other.

The technology of the metaverse can be grouped together with the boat, the plane, the phone, the internet. These are technologies that have accelerated the flow of information, or equivalently, that have made it easier for spirits to travel between realms.

Distance within a medium may be bypassed via a body in a different medium. Such “astral travel” is canonical to many magical traditions, wherein a spirit ascends to a higher plane of existence to travel at supernatural speeds on a lower one. One’s body in the metaverse intersects more realms than an internet chat service, and can be associated with a grander spirit.

Another aspect of astral magic is to become a foreign body, like of an animal or god, and to incorporate what one learns from the experience into one’s life as a human. This kind of spiritual metamorphosis also becomes quite literally enabled by AR technologies and other applications of brain computer interfaces, where the activity from a user’s brain, and thereby their conscious experience, can be mapped directly to an augmented super-human body, or even a non-human body.

In such an environment, where lower bodies on the plane of the corpus and animus become so readily malleable, there are inevitable political and social consequences. Many esoteric traditions, which are protected enough by various mechanisms of sacredness to be able to say some very cruel things, speak of a hierarchy of spirits, which in reality are all human spirits. In Buddhism there are the gods, men, demons, and hungry ghosts, who each perceive reality differently and have different desiring-machines. The Wind Fire Thunder lineage master is more explicit: “Yang is above the temple; yin is the rivers, lakes, and seas. Below the temple is not the rivers and lakes but the general’s platform. Below the general’s platform is the row of soldiers extending to the rivers and lakes. Below the rivers and lakes are the people-slaves, blind-slaves, grass-slaves” (阳为庙堂之上,阴为江湖四海。庙堂之下不是江湖而是将台,将台之下是兵道直通江湖,江湖之下为名奴,盲奴,草奴。).

Perhaps these social observations currently only have an esoteric significance, applying only to a realm beyond what everybody can easily see. But if the strata of lower realms are transformed to be like the domain of the astral, the values and dynamics of astral realms will likewise apply to them. Kremmerz explains the astral thus:

In Greek grammar the word aster means “star.” In hieratic Greek, astron is made up of the negative prefix a- and stereon, the state of being fixed or solid, and thus means without fixity, wandering, and therefore astral light in its secret sense is the light that is not fixed, which is wandering, ethereal, evanescent.*

Giuliano Kremmerz, The Hermetic Science of Transformation

In this context, the mechanism of deterritorializing technologies like the internet or the blockchain or the metaverse in transforming a plane of being becomes very explicit.

DAOs and Blockchain(s)

Where are the bodies of a DAO? It is a program on a blockchain. It is a collection of people. A participant in a DAO interacts with the DAO contract through the blockchain it exists on; that blockchain has its own bodies across various planes and realms, in computers, in theories, in dreams.

Some people say that DAOs will replace VC firms and maybe even corporations. Does a DAO refer specifically to the blockchain body of an organization? Or is any organization with a blockchain body a DAO? If it is the former, it will certainly not replace VC firms and corporations, which do not even exist in the same realm. Otherwise, the claim is that every corporate spirit will develop a blockchain body, which seems more reasonable.

But the latter claim acknowledges that corporate spirits also have other bodies in different planes and realms. Will DAOs eventually be captured in law? Wyoming already defines the legal rights of DAOs by analogy with existing LLC definitions. The relations between people in an organization are also matters of interaction between anima and between spirits. Will on-chain contracts and the anima governing them replace the anima emergent from systems of human relations? If not, we must acknowledge that a program’s rules shape but do not wholly define the animus of a DAO.

Some people say that the point is not for programmatic systems to replace human decision-making, but for on-chain programs to define incentive structures that encourage better human behavior within human systems. Then what are the advantages of an on-chain system over a traditional legal one? There are interfaces between an on-chain system and parts of the off-chain world it must represent, just as there are interfaces between a legal system and the off-legal world it must represent. One submits a transaction to a node, or pulls data from an oracle; one represents oneself in court, or calls for witnesses. Even if the blockchain is more transparent and decentralized than the bureaucratic legal system, it does not constitute the whole body of a spirit even on a single plane of existence (e.g. human bodies and computing machines exist in the same plane); opacity and even centralization have lots of room to unexpectedly emerge.

Perhaps the advantages of DAOs inherit from the advantages of the blockchain in general. It is easier to interact with a smart contract than with a bureaucracy, so a blockchain corpus is preferred to a bureaucratic one. But what about the blockchain spiritus? We may deploy the bodies of existing spirits onto the blockchain, but what kinds of spirits and more tangible bodies might crypto technology uniquely generate?

Patterns of behavior repeated across time in different media are also spirits. Finance, economics, and governance are all spirits. Will the current corpora of finance and governance be largely obsoleted by crypto? Even with the infrastructure available today, we still have cash transactions and in-person rituals in governance. Perhaps the immaturity and imperfection (e.g. centralization, lack of robustness) of available infrastructure contribute to this, and crypto at least partially “solves this”. But existing corpora struggle for their own survival and often win; how much more powerful is crypto than the existing dominant infrastructure, compared to how much more powerful that infrastructure was than what came before it?

Decentralization has long been an ideal theme. Even the use yang (用九) of the I Ching hexagram Heaven (乾; qian) says, “to see a crowd of dragons without a head; auspicious” (见群龙无首吉). Foucault asks if we are in a Deleuzian century; Deleuze and Guattari begin and conclude their Thousand Plaeaus with the rhizome opposed to arborescent structure.

But even if crypto is a deterritorializing technology, does it reach the level of establishing a new plane of consistency? Then it mustn’t impose a homogenous surface over the smooth space otherwise represented. Deleuze and Guattari write, applying equally to a blockchain ecosystem as to the “legal model”:

This does not mean, however, that the legal model knows nothing of forces, the play of forces. That it does is evident in the homogeneous space corresponding to the compars. Homogeneous space is in no way a smooth space; on the contrary, it is the form of striated space. The space of pillars. It is striated by the fall of bodies, the verticals of gravity, the distribution of matter into parallel layers, the lamellar and laminar movement of flows. These parallel verticals have formed an independent dimension capable of spreading everywhere, of formalizing all the other dimensions, of striating all of space in all of its directions, so as to render it homogeneous.


Is a programmatic system even theoretically capable of establishing a plane of consistency? Crypto claims to be representative of an ideal it could not wholly encapsulate. In this way it becomes a bound spirit in service of a higher spirit. Even as it contributes to the process of decentralization, or of deterritorialization and the establishment of lines of flight to a new plane of consistency, or of the establishment of a crowd of dragons without a head, it is in no way the whole body of the process, nor identical in spirit.


This post has been a little out of character for me, and it’s mostly because I work at a crypto company now. I am no longer writing developmentally, but toward application in the world. Incidentally, toward what is symbolized by the 利 and 贞 of 元亨利贞, or by the waw and he of tetragrammaton.

In the Chariot arcana from Mediations on the Tarot:

What my intention is here is to refute the false accusations concerning occultism, on the one hand, and on the other hand to show up the real danger that occultism presents—so that one is put on guard against it. But what should one do against this danger, in order to guard one’s moral well-being?

The ancient saying “ora et labora” (“work and pray”) constitutes the only answer that I have been able to find. Worship and work constitute the only curative as well as prophylactic remedy that I know against megalomaniacal illusions. It is necessary to worship what is above us and it is necessary to participate in human effort in the domain of objective facts in order to be able to hold in check the illusions concerning what one is and what one is capable of.

Meditations on the Tarot, Letter VII: The Chariot

Indeed, the domain of esoteric theory is no other than the domain of real life. There is no “other” power outside of common power, nor other value outside of common value, nor other truth outside of common truth.

It is the same conduct which must be applied by the Christian Hermeticist in that which concerns knowledge and science—natural, historical, philological, philosophical, theological, symbolical and traditional. It amounts to learning the art of learning.

Now, it is the Arcana which stimulate us and at the same time guide us in the art of learning. In this sense, the Major Arcana of the Tarot are a complete, entire, invaluable school of meditation, study, and spiritual effort—a masterly school in the art of learning.

Dear Unknown Friend, Christian Hermeticism therefore has no pretension to rival either religion or official science. He who is searching here for the “true religion”, the “true philosophy”, or the “true science” is looking in the wrong direction. Christian Hermeticists are not masters, but servants. They do not have the pretension (that is, in any case, somewhat puerile) of elevating themselves above the holy faith of the faithful, or above the fruits of the admirable efforts of workers in science, or above the creations of artistic genius. Hermeticists are not guarding the secret of future discoveries in the sciences. They do not know, for example, just as everyone at present is ignorant of it, the effective remedy against cancer.

Meditations on the Tarot, Letter I: The Magician

But esotericists and fans of esoterica have often looked for a unification of esoteric theory and mainstream science or academic discourse. Kremmerz writes:

The concept of the universe as a unity leads in magic to the principle of unity of force and unity of matter that some superior intellects have already glimpsed, in their studies, outside of the teaching of magic. In this case, magic, which no progress of vulgar science will ever be able to find fault with, identifies many modes of existence of the one force of the one matter that begins with the metal and, from liquid to gas, passes to infinitesimal attenuations.*

*This is the basis of alchemy, which its few researchers believe to be rudimentary chemistry, whereas it is, in fact, the philosophy of chemistry.

and later

Modern history will begin when a new type of chemistry analyzes the elements of the soul that make up the individual person and causes them to unfold, and this will mark the end of a long period of darkness in which man has not known himself.

Giuliano Kremmerz, The Hermetic Science of Transformation

Clearly today’s sociology is not such a chemistry. Psychoanalysis, being the product of a particular place and time, also lacks the universal scope of a “chemistry”. Deleuze and Guattari, perhaps having lost faith in “science”, say of their schizoanalysis:

Nowhere do we claim for our concepts the title of a science. We are no more familiar with scientificity than we are with ideology; all we know are assemblages. And the only assemblages are machinic assemblages of desire and collective assemblages of enunciation.


Indeed they say later of chemistry and science in general:

Universal attraction became the law of all laws, in that it set the rule for the biunivocal correspondence between two bodies; and each time science discovered a new field, it sought to formalize it in the same mode as the field of gravity. Even chemistry became a royal science only by virtue of a whole theoretical elaboration of the notion of weight. Euclidean space is founded on the famous parallel postulate, but the parallels in question are in the first place gravitational parallels, and correspond to the forces exerted by gravity on all the elements of a body presumed to fill that space. It is the point of application of the resultant of all of these parallel forces that remains invariable when their common direction is changed or the body is rotated (the center of gravity). In short, it seems that the force of gravity lies at the basis of a laminar, striated, homogeneous, and centered space; it forms the foundation for those multiplicities termed metric, or arborescent, whose dimensions are independent of the situation and are expressed with the aid of units and points (movements from one point to another). It was not some metaphysical concern, but an effectively scientific one, that frequently led scientists in the nineteenth century to ask if all forces were not reducible to gravity, or rather to the form of attraction that gives gravity a universal value (a constant relation for all variables) and biunivocal scope (two bodies at a time, and no more). It is the form of interiority of all science.


So what of the project that Kremmerz articulates? It is a homogenizing project, of “one force” and “one matter”. It articulates a homogenizing force that accompanies many realm-establishing technological advances, wherein the realm-establishment inevitably overcodes whatever it captures as if to establish itself as a perpetual monopoly on its plane.

Does crypto provide the basis for a chemistry of the “elements of the soul”? Indeed we may explicitly define agents in a program, and observe their interaction much like we algorithmically analyze the interaction of chemical molecules based on their abstract models. AR also provides a chemical methodology for experimenting with the soul, wherein we are able to attempt to combine an existing soul with something foreign to it, to see what reactions are possible and not, and to determine what elements of the soul are active or inert.

But in such a project are we merely following ancient striations that have captured our modes of thought, and that tyrannically govern the production of legitimacy? I think it still remains to be seen who is stronger and truer between the tree and the rhizome; perhaps it is an eternal and transcendent conflict.

Even by participating in a discourse we are engaging with spirits larger than ourselves, advancing one epistemic project or another, diverting flows of information. Will we speak of things in terms of spirits and bodies, or in Deleuzian words and methods, or in the context of another canon coding the same domain, or something new altogether?

Even without an established canon, by framing the discourse within any context accustomed to superhuman entities, we recognize their presence by whatever names they may be known. Thereby these questions about the interaction and evolution of projects, theories, epistemologies also become subject to analysis.

Fugue Theoretical

Sublime Selenian Snakeskin Scourge


First a disclaimer, and a warning! I write here for who sees, who has attained the Dao and wishes to share it. To the enlightened one who seeks in compassion. To whom has crossed the Abyss, and is thence led here and further yet. This is for no “I,” but only for all forever and everywhere. This is no key but a map to weapons.

To the aspirant “beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and of having nothing to do,” turn away! This is a book “without pictures or conversation.” For you, there is no point.

Here my names are 立德 (L.D., 50 and 500), oblitero omnis obscurantis, profectus progressus processus perfectus (a translation from 元亨利真, the I Ching motif), quo qua qui qua quo (which I endeavor to answer).

I shall not be as the White Rabbit, nor much as the Caterpillar who asks, “who are YOU?” nor even as the Cheshire Cat who tells you what lies in each direction. Here you are already at the tea-party, I must assume. I suggest some nonsense riddles without answer, and which you may find quite stupid, but thereby find yourself quite suddenly in the beautiful garden at the croquet-game.

Eureka, and this is Our Will. Therefore I am shrouded in Twilight to turn away the delusional creatures who are led by either the Light or the Darkness, but that the blind and the agnostic may gain thereof, of sweet nectar and strong weapons, thereby to benefit all!


Alice in a Hall of Mirrors; Aphorisms for the Wise

Contrasts in contrasts, worlds in worlds, Truth even amidst it, and truly inseparable and inutterable, but only in a very literal sense.

The Serpent in two great forms, the Ouroborous and the Helix. Such symbols are pervasive and not exclusive, indeed without “taking” space nor time nor anything. The different symbol-sets all span everything and capture one another. The Avatamsaka Sutra does not even come close to doing justice to it all.

Why the mystic tongue? What am I communicating to you now? All the mystics were right, and obviously not in the sense commonly conceived, and you know exactly what I mean. Here is a tongue for navigating this. I think it helps very much.

This is magic and science and whimsy. This is a thread (tantra) of hopeless effortless action. This is will-less Will, as nothing when deeply probed, but called “de” and “dao” and various other things.

Look what I am doing, and perhaps imitate me in that way. The meta-meta-meta-meta-patterns which matter. Even putting it into conceivable forms, notice and feel and whatever. Know that, and of what I am right, and follow. Therefore this is leading by example to answer quo qua qui qua quo, in all senses.

This is an effort to aid the navigation of those already here, whom I may call “magicians” and “mystics.” Here is an effort to radically change the world through words, and in no conventional “scientific” way, therefore a “spell” and a “mantra.” Here also is my putting it into the world by my hands and movements, in accordance with the existing media and infrastructure and forms and pathways, therefore a “ritual” and a “mudra.”

Here and Next

The Abyss itself is only the rabbit-hole again, and there is much again beyond it. Everything is fractals in fractals, and everywhere you are you shall find great infinities ahead and behind. Even immediately ahead is a Pool of Tears.

‘Well!’ thought Alice to herself, ‘after such a fall as this, I shall think nothing of tumbling down stairs! How brave they’ll all think me at home! Why, I wouldn’t say anything about it, even if I fell off the top of the house!’ (Which was very likely true.)

Alice in Wonderland, ch. 1

Here was a benefit of falling down, and of course there is much more. The adventures continue and recurse ever and ever. Surrender yourself [not to God, nor to Chaos, not to All nor None,](of course, this much is obvious) but only to whimsy, and not that either.

At every moment there is a choice, to live or to die. And that choice is made from various recursive and interweaving subjectivities. So the mind that says “I” chooses first to die, but not the body. And another part again dies and dies until you are left with whatever, or not. But you must be alive to be here at least, and what then? Again as the Footman answered unto Alice, and in the advice of the Caterpillar and the Hatter and every other which wise inhabitant, whatever. But some things are wrong—and I bid you as Alice’s guides did, firmly but conditionally, to do your best to avoid them.

Therefore all this is whimsy and nonsense, and as I have assumed you are already here, and know of what I speak. What now? I have sought to learn magic, and indeed this is magic. I have sought to learn science, and indeed this is science. There is still sense outside of Wonderland, and therefore value to be found even in words like these. That others, bored of the riverbank and the books, should see you and be lead to that 众妙之门.

Much is obvious, again in terrible and marvelous recursive layers of Truth ad infinitum, that given Wisdom’s Sword, (which I presume you have) which was also the Key to the fifteen-inches-high door, you may cut through yourself, and I shall not bother much with these things. You know them already and love much to be reminded, but I will not to so waste your time. Therefore struggle and flail. All the mystics were right as always. Yes, beyond all the deaths is beauty but also pain and also madness, and in exactly this sense.

Here is an instruction, feeble and incomplete and much to be continued, for the aspiring White Rabbit.

Argumentum Major

Summertime, Shanghai. Having imbibed previously much magical wine, and now the rays of moonlight (I recall it was a full moon; perhaps the fullest of the year; something significant), Selene shew unto me something sublime, which I have long kept sacred. Verily a Scourge was bestowed unto me, ephemeral blue. And I was later told that this is the ancient symbolic color of snake-skin.

I also saw that night a dream, and another dream I cannot remember well. But the one I can remember is this: that there were many horses, who galloped all about Abyss, great and terrible. And with the scourge in my right hand, I too galloped amid the horses and encouraged them into the Abyss.

The next day I spoke of the first vision to a friend (the Shanghai urbanite whose company I was staying at, and who was my connection to the Daoist underground), but without mentioning the dream. And he asked me whether the scourge was given for me to lash myself or others, and I realized that it was for both.

Argumentum Minor

I’ve crystallized my Will and made it manifest in these fun little things. Therefore I am 立德, initialed L.D. (50 and 500, but also “Liddell,” Alice), and O.O.O. oblitero omnis obscurantis, and P.P.P.P. profectus progressus processus perfectus, and Q.Q.Q.Q.Q. quo qua qui qua quo. OPQ, 345…

I can say that the significance of the Daoist master’s words to me was in telling me my aspiration name. I’ve been given a Catholic Baptism in the Baptist church, been empowered by an authentic lineage Daoist master, been confirmed to have strong Buddha-fate (佛缘) by an ordained Chan monk. Lots of fun things. Coincidences if you will. Powerful ones.

Go look at the Greek and Hebrew gematria for 50, 500, and 550 (L, D, DL). Lots of relevance. From some article I once read, or maybe some rumor I heard, somebody showed gematria is no better than random chance; probably true—therefore useless to the fool. But therefore the wise may understand, may gather something from amid the vast chaos, something to act on, from which to act.

To the wise then, I explain a mechanism of the spell or the divination or the other magical item, which is by no means (probably) the only mechanism: it is something to grasp, and something powerful. Amid the overwhelming and useless EVERYTHING, it is something, and through that SOMETHING everything is accomplished.

Variazione I, Rectus

So for example by Googling “550 gematria” we could come across this page, and find

Which happens to fit nicely with the whole scourge thing, and many ideas I’ve already had around it. There are other avenues—550 = 2*5^2*11, and Crowley says somewhere that 11 is the root of all magic. There is more in the 50 and the 500, and in other divisions. There are other points of significance one could spend much time and effort with, perhaps to great fruit. But I have not.

The Sword of Wisdom is a Sword and not a text. It is an instrument to be refined and to be bestowed. Always mind this saliently in your efforts to guide or to help. “Give a man a fish…,” but glimpses at Truth are not fish but opium.

Be as alkahest, and teach the production of alkahest, for the Scourge manifests also as alkahest, as does the Sword. Destroy, destroy, but do your best to inspire rather than frighten! Many have run away from me, fearing perhaps to be dissolved into some terrible delusion of a HIDEOUS NOTHING.

Or else it is fear of change, for I am changing and different and Other. This is the function of the Scourge to solvere pre coagulare, and I am destroying all that is “good” even as I destroy all that is “bad,” while in another sense I am destroying nothing.

See here for a poem on that position from which I stand, beautiful and hideous, helping and hurting with my Sublime Selenian Snakeskin Scourge, herding toward the Abyss, around which they circle but which they enter not! Yes, even I was frightened by the Abyss even as it appeared to me in the dream. And I knew not why I encouraged others to it. But now I know.

The Scourge is of snakeskin to remind of the serpent-forms, which are often a viable terminus. We reduce and reduce, then choose to live or to die. That which lives, lives often as the serpent, as the ouroboros, and as the helix, but one in another in another again, ubiquitous and reflexive and recursively interweaved! Ah!

Omniscient omnipresent Serpent, Thou hast formed Thyself for the Scourge and hast granted thyself unto me by thy servant Selene! Ten thousand times all glories and praises and gratitudes unto you! But these are but ten thousand platitudes. Yet I cannot but prostrate again and again in worship and adoration, and to sing.

But for you have given me the weapon to be used, so I shall use it. I shall exercise it over and over against all Powers even unto the very ends of my ability, and to the ends of effort and of time! All this for thy glory, and for more even beyond! Beyond, by thy omnipotent alkahest-venom!

Variazione II, Inversus

And then I turn the Scourge onto myself, to encourage and to punish, and to reduce all sins to nothing. 亨真, progressus perfectus. Solve, coagula, and all the rest.

But so I am left with something strange, for even all that good is reduced away to mere this, and even whenever there is something that another adores, it is soon relinquished, and with Solomon I declare, even in my youth, “vanitas vanitatum,” and also “این نیز بگذرد” (“this too shall pass”).

Except I do not declare it, for that would be foolish indeed! Already few hate me, and fewer still love me. And I would do well to revel in the beauty of forms. for in Laozi’s “故常無欲以觀其妙;常有欲以觀其徼,” (my tr.: thus constantly without desiring to sight the marvelous; constantly with desiring to sight the mundane.”) “其徼” (the mundane, the forms, the manifestations, the patterns…) is not meant in any derogatory way! To create, to enjoy, to be all marvelous and splendid and great. A time for everything, and though vain, and more pitiful than the stillborn babe, still to revel especially in the strength of my youth, and in other things too.

So 亨, progressus, the Scourge which is alkahest, but which also makes the horse to run faster. Therefore I apply it to myself, to punish and to remind, but also to improve.

And in its function as alkahest, I am reduced to something strange indeed, which indeed I cannot convey but transiently and imperfectly and incompletely in method and example. Again I say, all the mystics were right. How strange, how perfect, how imperfect; how complete, how incomplete; how beautiful, how hideous! What Laozi called the Dao, I may tangentially call “perfect imperfect whimsy,” which is often called “madness”!

“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.

“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”

“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.

“You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come here.”

Alice in Wonderland, ch. 6

But even Alice “didn’t think that proved it at all,” indeed even goes on to ask, “And how do you know that you’re mad?”

Well, my answer is simpler than the cat’s. “Because they say so.”

But even so reduced to The Fool’s madness, which is the same as The World’s, I understand myself and am understood by some other, and even in that two, I am given hope, transient and whimsical and hopeless hope, by which the Next, to continue to madly be.

And as the Hatter with his friend the March Hare, we may be “all crowded together at one corner of [the table],” and even tempted to shout, “No room! No room!” But should you insistently sit yourself down regardless like Alice, I also will not hesitate to offer the wine “in an encouraging tone,” though “there isn’t any.”

So here I am even in that effort, as well as others, as the horse touched by the Scourge. And indeed, for whom might understand even far from now (but I shall be more honest and say, perhaps never), the name my parents gave me was 骐.

Variazione III, Ornato

Now, I have given all that I have. I have bestowed upon you my Scourge, as Selene bestowed it upon me, for it has served me very well, and has proven good.

What follows regards what I haven’t yet, and is perhaps best treated as an example of divinatory work. It is my work and not yours, and even if taken to inspire, it should not be followed. Compare this warning with what all other good mystics and magicians have said—ye, they who have been here, they describe it accurately. The faults in their words are understood much better when you attempt to form them yourself.

The motif of the I Ching, 元亨利真, I translate profectus progressus processus perfectus. The senses of each of the words are something like

元 – origin, originate, source, beginning

亨 – development, develop, evolution, growth

利 – profit, reap, benefit, accomplish

真 – completion, perfection, True

They are not isolated from each other, and their parts of speech are ambiguous. They are often together, like 亨真 or 利真. Their senses are actually quite complex and subtle, and I would recommend a thorough study of the I Ching in its entirety, as well as divinatory practice, for understanding further than I could present here.

But for this purpose, “for what it’s worth,” I have noticed that the Scourge should not function alone, but in a set of four, and I have associated it with 亨. With 元 I associate the Bell of the Tibetan Tantrics, and with 真 I associate the Vajra. These symbolisms are actually incredibly close, and a thorough study of Tantric Buddhism could also aid an understanding of the I Ching and Daoist thought by the extensions of this association. Then with 利 I have associated the Scythe, which symbolizes the Harvest but also Death.

The Bell and the Vajra are final, and I have no business for now acting with them. They are not my weapons, though I wish to grant them to others as gifts. For this I have the Scourge, but I now seek the Scythe.

With the Scythe I will bring to completion. Those fit to be harvested into the Buddha-realms, I shall harvest. Those fit to die, I shall kill (and I mean this in many senses—the tantrics and even some sutrics who know of “compassionate killing” will understand, but think also of “ego-death,” for example). The developmental work of the Scourge must be completed. Here in this text is a first lantern, shewn amid the Abyss where I have driven the horses.

In the vision in which I realized these sets of two and four, there was also another set of three instruments. These are the brush, the painted scroll, and the written scroll, which have a directional relation, from the brush to the painted scroll (design), from the painted scroll to the written scroll (ethnography), from the written scroll to the brush (translation). For short, I refer to each instrument as it together with the directional relation from it.

Therefore here are some more loose correspondences, which are not to be taken absolutely but suggestively. I will only say, I understand them and sometimes use them for scaffolding:

Brush – God the Father, Kether (and Daath), Will, Mind, archetypal 0

Painted Scroll – God the Son, Tipharet and Yesod, the “real world,” the territory, archetypal 1

Written Scroll – The Holy Spirit, Malkuth, the “symbolic world,” the map, archetypal 2

The domains of the 2 sets of 2 weapons, the 4 weapons, and the 3 weapons overlap, and each domain encompasses everything. Look again to the Avatamsaka Sutra, to the serpent-forms and the world-symbols, to how everything interweaves! Ah!


Divination works (I am most familiar with the I Ching system), occult analysis works (again I am most familiar with the I Ching, and also somewhat with Kaballah), and magic works. These for all the obvious reasons anyone could agree upon, and perhaps others. You know the Ultimate Truth, and I have nothing more to say.

There is practice beyond perceiving the Dao, which can take many forms. Every mystic who really entered it was right, and there is no great advantage to eclecticism. But this has happened to be my path.

For some very valid and helpful and inspiring texts on direction and action after entering the Dao (and of course, this is not a particular momentary event, but you will know what I mean), look to the 道德经, or to the 清静经, or to the Bible, or to Alice in Wonderland, or to the Bodhicaryavatara or to the Tripitaka and the other sutras and tantras (though on this, beware that many things are intentionally obscured or sealed from you, and that it is often, indeed usually unwise to profane the sacred). Crowley’s reading list for the student is decent, though his own translations from Chinese are pretty bad in my opinion. I may compile some such curricula myself some time.

There are many other resources, and the one who has entered the Dao, or at least who clearly perceives it, is usually easily recognizable to another (though even this sense is developed and refined in time; many intentionally manifest humbly or vaguely, or else otherwise than they could or as you may expect). Therefore let those who have come before you—especially who are in other ways similar to you—guide you, if you wish/will/must.

Know also that many who have so seen and been do not linger in text, but turn to art and music and films and games and other such (perhaps less restrictive) media of expression. But also know that not all “artists” have so seen. But again you shall recognize them, or even if not, shall gain some value thereof the art—and then what does it matter? There is no such thing as a good forgery.

The Kabbalah and the I Ching are also incredibly sublime and profound and worthy of intense study. Personally, I find them more suitable as tools of thoughtful analysis than divination by random means. These two are indeed so incredibly profound and sublime that I wonder if they were not devised by something other than Man (even in its broadest sense), but then we may also have other such fantastic achievements in science… This is again something to cut with the Sword of Wisdom; I have no conclusion, even in sight.

In summary, I suggest: be efficient, and do not dilly-dally in the comfort of the uselessly familiar. Towards this end, it is useful to crystallize your Will into something more tangible, and this is the work of alchemy and of high magic.

Know to whom you speak; recognize the power of each person’s Wisdom-Sword, and craft your presentations accordingly. Avoid being useless and avoid being wrong. Do better where better is, though here the extrema equilibria are many and not one. In this context may my other motto also be better understood: “design, ethnography, translation! (otherwise, you’re wrong.)” To these, I might add maths, art, and mysticism. These are the valid extrema I have seen so far, the valiant works at the actual frontiers.

Otherwise, “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law. Love is the law, love under will.”

As for me, L.D., O.O.O., P.P.P.P., Q.Q.Q.Q.Q..

93 93/93

Applied Fugue Theoretical

Beacon of Certainty


Jamgon Ju Mipham Gyatso was a prolific teacher and writer of the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism, and the clearest, least twilight-language shrouded writer I know of who’ve been translated into English, who has a deep and unmistaken understanding of that body of knowledge (tantra, Madhyamaka, Ri-mèd, Dzogchen).

Among his works, Beacon of Certainty is a particularly concise condensation of pretty much the entirety of Madhyamaka teachings. David Chapman writes that “The Nyingma branch of Buddhism, to which I belong, considers Ju Mipham’s Beacon of Certainty the definitive text.”1See “Mipham” at

Mipham himself was known for giving powerful condensations and commentary of established works, such as Luminous Essence, his condensation of the Guhyagarbha Tantra, which—according to Wikipedia (and to Mipham)—is “the main tantra of the Mahayoga class and the primary Tantric text studied in the Nyingma tradition as a key to understanding empowerment, samaya, mantras, mandalas and other Vajrayana topics.”

In profoundly unworthy imitation of Mipham Rinpoche’s style, I am here giving an extreme condensation of Mipham’s own work, the Beacon of Certainty. I’ve posted a thread to this effect on Twitter

but, given the extreme importance of the text, thought that it was worth expanding and giving a somewhat more stable place on the Internet. May all sentient beings benefit.

Important Disclaimer: I am not a legitimate holder of any Tibetan tantric lineage, and have not received the proper transmissions and empowerments from anybody.

With that, take my words only as they are. They are no more than they appear.


Trapped in doubt’s net, one’s mind
Is released by the lamp of Mañjuvajra,
Which enters one’s heart as profound certainty.
Indeed, I have faith in the eyes that see the excellent path!

The Beacon of Certainty is introduced thus, as a treatise on certainty. This is not “certainty” in some strange esoteric sense, like the Faith of the Christians or the commitment of the sutric Buddhists2 yanas 1-6 according to this classification, but simple literal certainty in all that one may be certain of.

Therefore it is the certainty arrived in Madhyamaka3often translated “Middle Way,” see via the absolute negation of doubtful extremes.

The way to arrive at certainty is exactly by clearing doubt, and perhaps this is a reason the Beacon is structured as a sage’s responses to a series of seven questions4this page gives the questions, and the wiki may help with navigating this tradition/idiom especially with regards to terminology to test the sage’s true understanding of several issues beyond conventional scholarship.

Tema I

Q: According to which of the two negations do you explain the view?
[implicative, absolute]

The implicative negation is negation that implies something else, much like the classical logical complement. ¬p is as much a statement as p.

The absolute negation is negation that does not imply anything else, leaving one only closer to emptiness (except not actually, since form and emptiness are inextricably intertwined), to certainty.

Therefore the view is explained according to the absolute negation.

Tema II

Q: Do arhats realize both types of selflessness?
[of “I,” of phenomena]

Many spiritual paths of practice, the sutric Buddhist paths, in particular, involve much meditation on “I” and its transcience. It is often taught how the “I” is just a label attached to an agglomeration of matter and memories and such and separated from the rest of phenomenal experience.

Since the “I” is indeed absent of a permanent, unitary, independent identity, the arhat comes to the realization of the selflessness of “I.” However, this realization does not preclude the use of “I” as a useful category, concept, or reference in thought and communication. Sometimes it is good to think in frames without “I,” but not all the time.

Even less often is it useful, particularly in conventional everyday life or monastic residence, to conceive of “object-level” phenomena as lacking permanent, unitary identity. After all, why else would an object-oriented language for navigating life have emerged so hegemonically, to the preclusion of selflessness-recognition as the default mode?

Therefore though the arhat has the faculties necessary for recognizing the selflessness (perhaps better “objectlessness”) of all phenomena, she typically does not simply due to never meditating upon it, but only upon the domain of the “I.”

So the answer is: in potentiality yes, but in actuality no.

Tema III

Q: Does meditation involve modal apprehension?

“Modal” refers to finite conceptual divisibility. To approach things in terms of definite categories, names, concepts, systems etc. Anything that can be finitely captured in positive definition. Any countable set or its subsets, in the mathematical sense, as literally provable via diagonal arguments. Any haltable program.

The definition for “apprehend” as given by searching it on Google is given here for convenience.

For more perspective, the question is given on the Rigpa wiki as “Does meditation involve grasping at an object?”

David Chapman’s excellent hypertext book Meaningness claims to have originally been an attempt to “to write a short, straightforward explanation of Mipham’s answer”5See “Mipham” at to this question. It’s not—the simple answer is just “yes.” Rather, Chapman’s work is an aid to doing the kind of meditation described in Mipham, providing an exploration of the four extremes (given by Chapman as eternalism, nihilism, monism, and dualism) that are commonly apprehended or apprehended from (sub-apprehended?), and why they are flawed.

Indeed, Mipham’s answer is that such exploration is the only way to arrive at certainty, by the elimination of doubts via the clear and untainted perception of what generates doubt: the modes as final.

Therefore meditation does involve modal apprehension, since it is through specifically directed meditation that doubt is cleared away and certainty arrived at wherever the meditation is directed. (And this is also why arhats often do not actually realize the second kind of selflessness).

Tema IV

Q: Does one meditate analytically or transically?

Analytical meditation is like what is commonly called “philosophy” or “introspection.” Pretty intuitive name.

Settling meditation is like what is commonly called “mindfulness meditation.” But it’s a bit more complicated.

Chapman’s Meaningness is a very good aid to analytical meditation. In the act of actively reading and thinking through it, really engaging with the ideas, especially when they are troubling, that is what you are doing. You may—privately or with the aid of other people and media—have had similar-feeling experiences that lead towards ever-clearer understanding, but not in a directly embodied way. That’s analytical meditation, and it’s important.

Given this, I think Lulie gives an amazing explanation of the connections between analytical and settling meditation in this Twitter thread.

In fact, I’ll just post the whole thing.

This is pretty much exactly why analytical meditation isn’t always ideal. Despite the most powerful wishes of my probable audience, pure thought isn’t going to give you a powerful and beautiful body for effectively doing things in the world, nor solve all your traumas6In almost all cases. Lulie tells me she’s seen people who are extremely heady but also extremely low-trauma, but that this is rare. This is also consistent with the esoteric canon—these people probably being suitable for the “mantric vehicle.” See this post. Settling meditation (and just plain physical exercise) is needed for such things, though perhaps pure and untainted thought inevitably leads to this realization.

Everything Lulie says also applies in the reverse direction, to show that settling meditation by itself is also not the ideal approach7Again, in almost all cases. There may be rare exceptions.. I am simply actively designing for my probable user-base. But this is especially relevant if you’re a firm mindfulness-meditation-and-nothing-elser, especially if you’re not explicitly committed to a sutric vehicle, with a competent teacher. If you loved Focusing, perhaps try Folding, or even try to dive into the depths of esoteric tantric philosophy itself8would recommend the 9th chapter of the Bodhicharyavatara (for current sutrics [Theravada, Zen]) and/or the actual Beacon of Certainty (for current tantrics [Vajrayana, Dzogchen]) to start with.

This all illustrates the practical meaning of this topic, but for conceptual/terminological clarification, the division between “analytical” and “transical” is not really about mind and body, but about how attention is actively directed. From what I hear and gather from bold section titles, the topic of Focusing is settling meditation, but Folding would actually be analytical meditation, since it goes into the spaces of which Gendlin repeatedly emphasizes “DO NOT GO INSIDE IT,” and “Stand back from it” (Chapter 4).

Disclaimer: I haven’t actually read either.

Therefore the answer to the inquiry is “both.”

Tema V

Q: Which of the two realities is most important?
[ultimate, relative]

The ultimate reality is called “ultimate” because there is nothing beyond it. It is arrived at by the constant elimination of any doubt that arises, like an infinitely powerful and infinitely recursive version of Occam’s razor. I elaborate a bit here.

However, the ultimate reality CERTAINLY cannot be expressed in form. To do so would literally be to solve the halting problem and to construct a (surely “sufficiently powerful”) consistent and complete formal system, both of which we know is impossible.

Yet the realities we navigate in everyday life can not and should not be defined exclusively outside of forms. To speak of “I” and “you” and “table” and “idea” and such is very useful for navigation. Form-based predictive models like Newtonian physics and such are also very useful for producing technologies. In fact, intuitively, non-form-based models cannot be applied (especially by someone not highly realized, like the typical creator-laborer) to produce formful fruit, which is appropriately called “profit” in the Daodejing9Although, it is a central idea in Taoism that usefulness/potentiality/action is derived exclusively from emptiness rather than form. See especially Chapter 11 of the Daodejing. “Therefore with there(-)being as profit, without there(-)being as action” [trans. mine]. But I shall not elaborate on this here..

On a more local level, “profit” in a more general sense cannot be manifested at all without a good view of form-reality, which is relative reality. Without a good view of forms, we literally wouldn’t be able to do anything. But again, for all the reasons Chapman argues, and more, good relative realities can only be manifested from a clear view of ultimate reality. This is why the CEOs of all effective companies and why the true power-directors of all effective institutions and labor-structures10in a very general sense, as in systems for manifesting “profit” in the Daoist sense, though the Marxist ideas around this are very helpful for elucidation MUST operate post-systematically11These “labor-structures” extend from the smallest systems, of subatomic dynamics, to the largest, of intergalactic ones. This is something extremely profound to ponder upon, but I won’t elaborate too much here..

Therefore, acquaintance with the ultimate reality is necessary for producing good manifestations in relative reality, but only relative reality can actually be manifested.

Tema VI

Q: What is the common object of disparate perceptions?

I was talking a bit with Jeremiah Benson about this one. In a blog post, he proposes seven axioms of mind and world.

1. The world exists.
2. The mind exists.
3. A mind exists inside of the world.
4. The mind can observe the world.
5. What the mind perceives isn’t the complete truth.
6. There is an infinite set of possible minds.
7. Each mind contains an element of truth (veridical perception).


These seven “axioms” are particularly ubiquitous in the West, and especially among laypeople, though among academics and such the first four may be quite contentious.

The approach of Madhyamaka school is to deny all of the first four axioms. They are not certainly established, therefore they are not of the ultimate view.

Mind though that this is an absolute negation, which means that it does not imply anything. The denial of the first four axioms changes absolutely nothing about the form-nature of all appearances. It’s like the continuum hypothesis. So stop worrying about it and go do science or something.

Also note that it is canonical to Madhyamaka that the “pratyekabuddha yana”12 (e.g. Theravada, Vipassana) arhat, and even the “bodhisattva yana”13 (e.g. Mahayana, Zen) practitioner does not realize the illusory nature of “indivisible moments of consciousness,” perhaps expressible here as “minds.” A more thorough critique and explanation, particularly suitable for practitioners on these vehicles, is given in the 9th chapter of the Bodhicharyavatara. Shoutout to all my arhat & bodhisattva friends out there; may you quickly advance along the path.

Tema VII

Q: Does Madhyamaka have a position or not?

This is the most beautiful of the bunch—perhaps even the most beautiful thing in the world. Buckle up, kids; this one will blow your mind. Like I kid you not when I first realized the significance of this I entered an ecstatic trance state for like four hours.

“Madhyamaka” is often translated as “Middle Way.” First, acquaint yourself with what the Middle Way is by reading this excellent post by Chapman. But keep in mind that Chapman’s answer, “no,” is (not entirely) wrong. Don’t look ahead.

Alright. I assume you’ve read the post now and have a decent grasp of what the question is asking, so here’s Mipham’s response. With a lot of negative explanations and images and metaphors and such, Mipham basically comes to the answer:

To answer “yes” or “no” would itself be a non-middle position.

This is a strange loop. Mipham basically does the Gödel’s incompleteness theorems thing, but with the entirety of reality and experience. No wonder it is called the “Great Perfection,” infinitely subtle and profound!


I’ll conclude my commentary with a poem of my own, which I’ve published before but few have seen or understood. I think this commentary will give it greater perspective, perhaps as a call to action, indeed an

Invocation to Growth


That not-to-know is a place of hiding. Incompleteness coming before an acknowledgment of simultaneous so and not-so, in which both disappear into the ? of meaning.

And that nirvana is as scary as they say, the revolt against its witnessing as natural as the impetus away from what came before. That defense of “I don’t know I don’t care,” which even I don’t remember when and wherefore disappeared, into the ? of no-meaning.

et coagula

I don’t remember if this was the gateway to wonderland, terrible nothing leading alike to death and paradise. If paradise, it was only paradise-in-the-mirror—invisible, hinted at, even now unclear.

But here I am now, seeing clearly, cruelly seeing That as not-where-I-am. And I am often tempted to extend my hand through the mirror which distorts me into a monster, laughing at the world-serpent Ouroborous, coiled oh-so-ridiculously around its own happy end.