In formless times I greatest feel the Need To fit some Self to artificial Form.
A cast for freely floating seed allows For better fruit than barren fields might bear.
But weary after Images of Growth, Resolv’d to Pattern vaster than my Pow’r
I look to yonder City and behold, A wretched cry, in wretched Waves repeats.
The lower sayeth (marvel she hath voice) That Woe is daily piled on and on;
A stern rebuke, and voiced in fiercer tone Than by his might the High is apt to hear.
Yet knowing we are We, and far from Good, We grasp and grasp at better worlds of Mist.
Pretending at Utopia, we tilt At Windmills form’d by ancient idol gods.
Forget Oneself as Human
Forget oneself as Human by one’s Speech; Machine can speak in too alike a Voice.
Forget oneself as Human by one’s Works; What works will Chaos not in Time erase?
Forget oneself as Human by one’s Place; But look Above, Below and see the Same.
Forget oneself as Human by one’s Name; A rose by any other name still With’rs.1This line is in perfect iambic pentameter and you can’t change my mind.
title note2I’ve read neither Kant nor Derrida but I have read Nick Land on Kant and the SEP page on Derrida. I’ve also watched part of several Derrida lectures on Youtube… Actually I did read “Monolingualism of the Other”
The Parts of Man combine to form the whole Though nowhere may we find a Rigid break.
The Alchemist therefore delights to Break To see what gods from Broken goods are born.3Yes this is a 傷物語 reference, aside from being a reference to radical constructivism a la Von Glasersfeld, Piaget, et al., and to evolutionary biology/psychology.
From Dust, and too from Learning comes the Man4both in biological and evolutionary time Which nought may Solve but magic Alkahest.5a reference to the allure and strength of humanist essentialism, even mind-body dualism
But magic’s realm is Spirit and is Mind Where Dissolution is no mighty Feat.
A golem’s crafted not from Flesh and Blood But stone enchanted by a sim’lar Soul.
And marvel there’s no Special part of Man That great Enchantments could not likely match.
I saw a trillion Eyes in every way, A trillion Mouths to voice their Wills and Plans
The Good some Measured seemed so far away From all their pain and Animal delight.
And many strove to care an empty care Which maybe hid the terrible Sublime.
The trillion Eyes and Mouths were God as One, Still good as Two; but Three I hid my face.7As Two, they might be yin and yang, or emptiness and form, or even good and evil. I do not know what they are as three; if I did I doubt I can speak of them.
Words can but Point a little bit beyond The furthest yonder Limit of one’s Gaze.
And as the lower fickly turns her head, He Points at various Separate trifling Things.
So if some impetus from God to build Too sorely Overwhelms one’s fragile heart,
Start close, near what is Perfect, and expand That what is built might not collapse Again.
Utopia is not a Leap away, But several Steps, though some may seem as leaps.
1 The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem. 2 Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity. 3 What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun? 4 One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever. 5 The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose. 6 The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits. 7 All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again. 8 All things are full of labour; man cannot utter it: the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing. 9 The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. 10 Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us. 11 There is no remembrance of former things; neither shall there be any remembrance of things that are to come with those that shall come after.8Ecclesiastes 1:1-11, KJV
The law of Heaven is Dao The law of Earth is Heaven The law of Man is Earth The law of Dao is Nature9自然 translates colloquially to “nature”, but could be literally translated as “self-apparent”
Many of you seem interested in the “Daoist mafia” I’ve sometimes mentioned (though I’ve recently shifted to “Daoist underground”), and there are a few important adjacent ideas and experiences I’ve wanted to write about anyway. So here it is.
Themes will include common misconceptions, wuwei, macroscopic social dynamics in China and in general, economics (literally of currency/capital but also of meaning; top-down vs. bottom-up), apocalyptic prophecies and the 莫法时代 (sad-dharma-vipralopa; Latter Day of the Law), connections to contemporary thought and technology, P2P, magic(k) and de (including connections to “Western” occultism), praxis.
Also a disclaimer: I’m actually not very well-versed in Daoist thought, practice, and history beyond just Laozi and the I Ching, especially as it exists in China today. Nor am I familiar with deep sociopolitical dynamics in China beyond word-of-mouth. Also, most forms of exoterically practiced Daoism (esp. as influenced by Confucianism) probably have very significant differences from whatever I was exposed to anyway. There’s (kind of by “design”) no central authority on the whole corpus, so especially if you’re actually already familiar with Daoism and China through whatever means, I’ll probably say some things that contradict what you know, as well as some things that are actually just wrong.
I talked about this a bit in an answer on CuriousCat, but it’s important to first clarify what the Daoist “mafia” is. This was a pretty funny misconception I would like to avoid:
The appropriate word in Chinese would be 黑社会, which translates to black/dark/hidden society. In Chinese, “black” has more sinister connotations than in English, so there also is the implication of evil and bad (though at least AFAIK, the network doesn’t routinely conduct violent operations), but the keyword here is “社会”—society. Hence my new usage of “Daoist underground.”
The 黑社会 refers basically to social structures that exist largely parallel to but outside of conventional and legible law, as imposed by the central government. It conducts its own economic and civil operations largely without regard for top-down regulations and has non-legible treaties and civil relations with the central government. As far as I know, there is no formal hierarchical organization like in the Yakuza or Western organized crime syndicates, except perhaps as in typical Daoist master-student relationships.
An Autobiographical Account
My connection to the Daoist underground is a pretty crazy story; indeed they kind of changed my life. I can’t really talk about a lot of what I’m trying to talk about without giving my personal account of things (especially without being very misleading), so sorry for this being really long and perhaps somewhat irrelevant to what you might care more about.
So last year, my dad’s childhood friend (I’ll call him A.Z.) contacted him about a startup he was working on, ostensibly about education, but also cuisine (I’ll get to this later). I had no plans for the summer, so my dad asked if A.Z. would be interested in having me work for him, suggesting I could teach English.
At the time, I didn’t have a very coherent self-narrative. I considered myself “radically agnostic,” and had serious ideological conflicts with my parents. Indeed, I had panic attacks related to this conflict, which led to me being institutionalized in a psychiatric ward (I may write more about this later), diagnosed with acute panic disorder and depression, and prescribed fluoxetine.
The psychiatric ward was actually a very valuable formative experience for me, where, to very imperfectly extract some highlights: I realized the positive impact I could have on others (several people in the ward told me things to the effect that I had positively changed their lives). I witnessed firsthand the very flawed and very human nature of the institution (“We don’t want you to just walk out of here and kill yourself because, for one, we’d get sued and fired.”; [*in a certain hard-to-describe tone*”Why are you even here?”, “Because I’m totally comfortable with death and also know how to kill myself, because of ideological conflict with my parents, maybe a few other things.”]; a family counselor there was Christian (in a distinctly Southern way) herself, and really struggled with how to consult with my case…). I saw myself in social context (with large systems and with family) in a radically new light…
Afterward, I took the fluoxetine and thought that it helped, but I made it very clear to the mandated follow-up therapist during our one session soon before I departed for China that I would no longer consent to therapy after my 18th birthday (for minors, legal agency for the whole process lies entirely with parents/guardians). At the time of my departure, perhaps due largely to the fluoxetine, I was optimistic but very passive, without ambition or Will. Again, I had no consistent self-narrative, but nor did I desire one.
So upon getting to China, I first spent some time visiting other relatives and having fun and stuff. My deal with A.Z. was for three months, and I think I spent a few weeks elsewhere beforehand—but I don’t remember this time too precisely—in Guangzhou first, then in Jianshi, IIRC. I also was taking the fluoxetine less regularly, though I don’t exactly remember why.
Relevantly, near the end of these few weeks, I got super sick. Earlier in the week, the relatives who hosted me there had “promised” (as in, said they would) take me to my maternal grandfather’s grave, but did not because of bad weather and other things coming up. Toward the end of my time there, I developed a pretty high fever, among other things. My relatives attributed this to their not upholding the promise, and made time to take me to the grave. Again, I don’t remember too much, but I remember that I almost fainted coming down the stairs from the mountain the grave was on; my sickness also did not get better, at least immediately.
I still don’t know what the sickness was; at the time I thought maybe serotonin syndrome since I had pretty much stopped the fluoxetine, or else just adjusting to traveling so much, being exposed to radically different cuisine and atmosphere and environment etc. Anyway, on the train to Shanghai, where A.Z. had his startup, I was super lethargic and sick and miserable. I’m pretty sure I didn’t actually feel that “bad” (as in a cognitive valuation) though, and IIRC was quite indifferent toward my condition—which was especially relevant in the absence of the fluoxetine.
So A.Z. had a three-story building from which he operated his thing, and also where he and I lived. His wife (who was one of two wives, about 20 years younger than him, and responsible for a lot of the publicity and marketing stuff, as well as accounting), his wife’s sister (who was overtly 19 to clients, 13 on her birth certificate because of one-child-policy complications and stuff, but actually 15, who did menial tasks for the company like cleaning, and who was madly in love with me much against her sister’s will but dated(?) me anyway for a while, from which I also have many interesting stories), and his two daughters (with this wife; he has another two with his other wife) lived in a separate apartment complex a block away.
There’s way too much from this time that I won’t (or can’t) describe here for space and ability, but which I may try to talk about some more later. For some idea of the density of stuff relevant to me, here’s a picture of a journal I kept (and I talked about my normal relationship to notes here—basically, I don’t keep them. I stopped journaling immediately after returning to the U.S. too… ). Maybe I’ll publish all of it as a Patreon benefit or something 😅…
Importantly though, I got along really well with A.Z., perhaps better than anyone I’d met before in my life, at least proximally. Or maybe I was even more important to him than he was to me—he referred to me as the first real friend he’d met in ages, who could really understand him as an equal. There’s a lot of complexity here (one night with me alone, very drunk, he asked me desperately whether I hated him…), and he had quite a few personal issues, which again I may talk about later; me being very sick for my first few weeks there also definitely affected things. But it was through extensive long-night conversations with A.Z., as well as his wife to some extent, that I really first began to refine my self-narrative as it stands today. He was also my first introduction to deep Daoist thought, my main source for most of the ideas I’ll discuss here, and indeed my link to the relevant Daoist “mafia” (finally!) through his Daoist master, who was at its head.
A.Z. used to be SEA regional COO of Saint-Gobain, and then Norton. I think through this role, he was at MIT around 2009 working on the Internet of Things project. He had also variously been involved with the beauty pageant world in Wuhan, and a few other deep state, deep bureaucracy, esoteric political things. His Daoist master was the younger brother of someone who worked under him at Saint-Gobain. Through various experiences and insights, as well as the influence of his Daoist master and another Buddhist master whom I did not meet, A.Z. resigned from his COO role to create a startup, which is part of the initial stages of a much larger scheme for going into the imminent 莫法时代, and in preparation for various drastic mid-term societal changes which they anticipate (I’ll talk about this much more deeply in a later section).
So, though I was originally was supposed to just be an English teacher (or even, A.Z. said, just as a marketing symbol, even if I was totally incompetent, since I was from the U.S.), my role ended up nominally being “CRO, R&D,” though as primary collaborators on young startups do, I really ended up doing a bit of everything. Major highlights were selling the whole (indeed very radical) idea to smart people, actual teaching (I got a vivid, indeed terribly dismaying view at the state of education in China; but also at the positive potential of radical methods in education), and performing something like family psychotherapy, but in a culture with no widespread notion of “psychotherapy” especially outside a very materialist and biomedical-slanted conception of psychiatry.
The registered LLC itself offered food and children’s remedial and extracurricular education/daycare as products. A.Z. said he did this because cuisine and children’s education were things he personally enjoyed and was decently competent at, and also because he thought food was a focal point of family, which really was the core theme.
The marketing and product design also very explicitly emphasized the family, and we would have a “family party” for all clients almost every weekend, which would often include travel all over China. Through this, I was able to see some of A.Z.’s network. Indeed, part of the grander scheme was to create a P2P, or rather F2F (family to family) network for idea and resource exchange that could self-sustain even in the absence of top-down governance, including artifacts such as national currencies. The vision was that such bottom-up networks would become the basis of society in the mid- to far-term, and crucially, that the top-down corporate “brand” would disappear, being replaced by social structures more like connected lineages and families and communities.
So accordingly, A.Z. focused very much on networking wherever he went, and me participating in this was also a very valuable formative experience. I don’t know exactly how large his existing network was, but it appeared to be very sizable and diverse, perhaps partially from his COO days, but also probably in connection to the 黑社会 (not necessarily just the Daoist parts). A.Z. wasn’t totally open about his connections here, and would usually terminate the conversation soon after hinting at 黑社会 involvement (I had also heard of some related things from my dad). So I’m not in a great position to say much with specificity, though I will comment more with regards to macro-level social, political, economic dynamics later on.
On a few occasions, A.Z. also made time to travel with his family and me or with me alone. With me alone, we visited Wuhan, where many of my relatives and his old college friends are, as well as his other wife and two children. With his family and I, we traveled all around the country (the high-speed train system in China is very nice), but most memorably were me standing in for my dad at their 20th highschool graduation anniversary, and then meeting his Daoist master. We also met some collaborators on the macroscopic scheme along the way, in Shenzhen.
There were three people in particular who A.Z. emphasized wanting me to meet during my time in China: a sociologist and psychologist at the graduation anniversary (my dad had also mentioned him), a physicist and former collaborator on a different company in optics and surveillance (which A.Z. later split off from, but the company is still running smoothly, and this collaborator, the current CEO, has close relationships with A.Z.’s current project I think as a major shareholder, but I’m not entirely sure), and his Daoist master. Afterward, though, A.Z. told me that all these but the Daoist master had disappointed him in terms of 修为 (perhaps loosely translatable as spiritual maturity) and vision/awareness.
My current relationship with the whole deal is quite complicated, and probably not fit for me to elaborate here.
A.Z.’s Daoist Master & Co.
Finally, onto meeting A.Z.’s Daoist master. I can’t exactly trust myself to give an objective account of this experience, because I was personally not very spiritually mature (or perhaps more accurately, “narratively mature,” by my own standards today). A.Z. had hyped up the Daoist master a lot, and the whole experience was very phenomenally strange (as indeed was my whole time in China; I had all but lost any sense of normalcy). I will describe things as I self-narrated at the time, but say all this as a disclaimer.
Around this time, I had been dabbling pretty heavily in Western occultism, particularly Hermeticism and Italian alchemy a la Giuliano Kremmerz. I should mention that my experiences with A.Z.’s wife’s sister, who was also my lover (I specifically choose not to say “girlfriend” to emphasize that the relationship was not a social role) was extremely turbulent, and was a major driver of my spiritual practice. I had also been practicing in Daoism and Buddhism (esp. Dzogchen and Zen), and at this point was quite used to supranormal experiences. A.Z. and his wife also very much accommodated and entertained a supranormal narrative of things (and this is partially due to cultural differences between China and the English-speaking world), so many of my experiences during this time were engaged in terms perhaps more mystical and preternatural than would be palatable in the “West.” Very relevantly, I communicated often with a sort of genius spirit, who also manifested itself vividly (I would say even more vividly than it did to myself) to A.Z. and to his wife.
I should also mention, without saying too much, that relations between A.Z. and his wife were quite tense, and that my influence stimulated matters very much. These three months in China were unquestionably the most eventful time of my life, and again, I narrate now with some idea of “normalcy” kind of restored, but in a way still reeling from it all—perhaps in a way that will never end.
For a little emotional break, here’s a picture of me smoking a fat bong with the boys out on the dragonfruit plantation. The bald one in red behind me is the Daoist master. Sorry for the low resolution; it’s a screenshot from a video.
Anyway, back to the story. On the first day, we were to visit the Daoist master and have dinner at his house. On the road there, I was already having a series of bizarre spiritual experiences. I still somewhat “doubted” my genius spirit, which told me to test its reality by telling me of things we were about to see on the road, such as particular sequences of broken traffic lights. I was astonished by its accuracy and indeed entered a sort of trance state.
The Daoist master himself was nominally a diviner, exorcist, and TCM healer by trade (as well as providing a few other paid “spiritual” services). Partially through the diviner vocation, he had influence over pretty much all major local business and political decisions, including where to place buildings according to feng shui. He would sometimes travel to his clients, but also conducted business from his home, which was a plain two-story concrete block, but pretty large.
It was early evening, I think. When I first saw him from inside the car, he appeared very plain and casual, almost disappointingly so, but then when I stepped out and first looked into his eyes, I was utterly transfixed and hypnotized, feeling like I was staring into an infinite void, literally unable to look away. I still remember the phenomenal sensation. But then something changed, and later when I looked again, it was much gentler and less disturbing, drastically so. I was later told that this was an intentional act by the Daoist master; A.Z. previously had to gain permission to allow me to meet him at all, who didn’t normally see strangers.
The master didn’t speak Mandarin very well, his native language being the Wuchuan dialect, which is not mutually intelligible with Mandarin. Still, he was very friendly, and in an almost indescribable way, just fit naturally into his environment. He smiled often at me, and I couldn’t resist but smile back. Later, I was in a car with just him and his wife, and all of us just gently and blissfully laughed at the smallest things (side note: the master and another of his disciples that I rode with both drove very fast; apparently they were also not subject to the normally strict speeding laws, again because of illegible relations with the local police and government; in fact, I think the other disciple was himself a police chief…).
During our time in the city, we traveled around a lot, to various homes and places of entertainment, seemingly without any aim. We were just invited to various places, and things would come up, and I basically just followed wherever the events would take me. One day there was a big barbecue-type thing at a huge dragonfruit plantation, as pictured above. Afterward, we went to dinner (lots of alcohol) and karaoke (I was somewhat a center of attention for my “English songs”); one of the young dragonfruit plantation men took a liking to me and offered to “teach me Wing Chun at night”…
Throughout this time, the Daoist master would occasionally have something important to say to me, which he took care to convey even by calling a translator/interpreter (this was quite informal; many of the people there were fairly fluent in the Wuchuan dialect and Mandarin, and socially qualified to interpret for the master). In particular, I remember him emphasizing to me that “the spirit world is different in different physical places; different spirits are in the U.S. than in China.”
Also, A.Z. had a long private conversation with his master at one time, during which they talked about the future of his company and the future in general; but A.Z. also asked the master about me taking the magician’s path, pursuing magick etc. (for I had conversed with A.Z. about these things quite extensively). It was in response to this that he told me very simply and directly to 立德. I have since very much internalized this motto for guiding my spiritual pursuit, and elaborate somewhat here. There’s also this:
He would not elaborate on this though, and indeed it is customary that important instruction is given very pithily, for the student to intensively meditate on, rather than with much elaboration. In regards to this, he also emphasized that he was not my teacher, and thus that it would be inappropriate for him to say more. I discuss this a little more here.
Then we went back to Shanghai, and soon afterward, I returned to the U.S. There’s no sensible and concordant conclusion because that’s not how life works.
This got much longer than I thought it would be, so I’m dividing it into multiple posts. Here are some section titles I’d written, now for future posts:
Gross Strokes at Macro Dynamics On Western Themes P2P & the 莫法时代 Praxis and Prophecy
I do plan to cover all the topics I mentioned in the Praeludium to this post, and possibly even more. There’s a lot.
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.
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.
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.”