Shamanism and Magic
THE LAUGHING MAN VOL. 2. NO. 4
1981 The Laughing Man Institute
In order to awaken to wisdom, we must cease to be children. To cease to be a child is to cease to be parented both in ordinary human terms and in spiritual terms. In order to realize God one must cease to be a childish characters and stop interpreting God as a parent. We must transcend in our ecstasy the logic or idea of God as the parental Creator of the universe. This is a paradoxical instruction, because it seems obvious that God is somehow responsible for all of this. But in what sense responsible? We can understand this paradox only when we transcend ourselves and the logic of our independence.
When people pray, for instance, without the ecstasy of God-Communion, prayer tends to be merely a conversation with God in which their own desire, their own limited state of knowledge and experience, and their own suffering become the basis for prayer. When people talk with God in this conventional way of prayer, they always ask God for favors as one would ask favors of a parent. Yet those who devote themselves to such prayer do see some kinds of results in their lives. Why is that? Is God a kind of floating parent who is attracted to you if you say the right words with the right pronunciation and perform the right ritual? Is God waiting for the right signals? Does God then listen in and, so long as you are morally good, give you the result? Why does praying work at all?
I suggest that it works because God is. God is All Pervading. God is the Condition of all of this. And wherever we make an opening in our lives to permit the Divine to enter into any aspect of our existence, the Divine Force is immediately felt there. It is not that God is a universal, parental personality who hears all your conventional prayers. Rather, God is the Universal Reality and Presence. If prayer is at all a kind of opening, an intention to direct available energy to specific aspects of existence, that Force or Presence will move into those areas of existence to the degree and with the potency that represents the force of your praying, the quality of your Communion.
Thus, even conventional praying offered with a little force tends to produce results, even though the Law of sacrifice whereby such results are produced is not understood. The results of such prayer do not occur for the reasons the one who prays thinks they occur! They occur because of the Law, not because God is the kind of separate, superior, being proposed,in conventional religious thought. Prayer is magical in the highest sense, –as a technique of association with the Divine. Therefore, whenever we enter into such association-bodily, “psychically, emotionally, mentally – we make room for the Presence that is All-Pervading and always present to move in, empower, and influence whatever we offer it.
All authentic magicians understand this principle of opening the body-mind to the Universal Force. Having made room for that Force, they use the powers of the mind to direct it. Once you have opened yourself to the Universal Force of Life, it will tend to produce effects according to your intention. The body-mind itself is the technique of our association with the Divine. How we associate with the Divine determines the kinds of results-the experiences, knowledge, presumptions, and wisdom-that are generated in the life of prayer. One could produce negative effects using the Universal Force, but the effects apparently generated by our relationship to that Force are determined by our state of mind and body, by our existence altogether.
Therefore, it is not God who is causing our experience, you see. It is rather our technique, the body-mind, that is causing it. Prayer, or the spiritual process, is a way of making conscious use of the same Law that is otherwise creating conventional lifetimes, disturbed states, and all kinds of experience and knowledge, In the spiritual process, however, we make conscious use of the affair of our lifetime. We make the body-mind a conscious technique of association with the Divine through ecstasy. Therefore, not only do we realize changes at the level of our knowledge and experience, but we realize the Divine itself through self-transcendence. Ultimately that which was our technique, the body-mind, is itself transcended, and only the Divine is realized. This life that we think has been created by God ceases to be our condition altogether. It is utterly dissolved in realization of the Divine and is no longer effective as a self-limiting process.
The process of true prayer depends on your maturing to the point that you are always making use of the Law of Divine association, not as a child depends on the parent but as the devotee relates to the Universal Reality. You know that all of this arising world has not been caused by you. You did not produce this universe through an act of your conscious mind. Then how does it arise? It is arising through a greater Power than your own capacity to think and suggest changes. Therefore, you are obviously dependent on that Reality, whatever It is, however It may ultimately be described. You are dependent on That. This fact may not be doubted, except by someone who is crazy! Obviously, all of this depends on a Process and a Power that are senior to our own limited functions. We must awaken to faith in that Power, even though we cannot know what That is. It is Mysterious to us. Then we must grow, on the basis of that awakening, into more profound realization of surrender and therefore greater wisdom about the nature of this Divine Reality.
The reason changes can occur in our practical lives so mysteriously is that the so-called physical universe is a psychic phenomenon. It is not merely a collection of solid stuff. The apparent solidity of matter is a dimension of our perception, but all material phenomena are arising in a Universal Force and Being. The universe is psychophysical in nature, not merely physical. If we can surrender ourselves psycho-physically into that Mystery upon which everything depends, then changes will begin to occur, first in our personal state, but also in all of the practical aspects of our daily lives. This is a Mystery that only religious people can observe.
It is hard to imagine, if we think about it conventionally, how an invisible, all-pervading Reality could, for instance, make business deals work out successfully without our ordinary effort. We find it difficult to imagine that there is such an effective Power, But having entered fully, psycho-physically, into the disposition of surrender to That upon which everything depends, we begin to observe how these changes mysteriously occur. As we mature in this disposition, we begin to observe more and more that the so-called physical world operates like a psychic phenomenon.’ In dreams, changes in environments can occur through a change of mind. Just so, a change of mind at a much deeper level than the superficially conscious verbal mind can change the direction and nature of physical events in the waking state.
Through the devotional response to the Divine Reality, we must become more and more sensitive to this law of the psycho-physical nature of existence. We must make creative use of our association with the Divine through prayer, or the technique of psycho-physical surrender in every area of our lives, not only surrendering the whole body-mind, or total self, into ecstasy all at once, but specifically surrendering particular aspects of the body-mind, and of its relations and circumstances, to that Reality.
Thus, in the disposition of God-Communion you may call to mind your cat’s infected ear, a business deal, anything. You put attention on that circumstance and you release it, surrender it to the Divine Reality. You acknowledge your dependence on the Divine. You feel the force of God in that area of life, and in some affirmative way you feel the change that you want to occur and simply surrender the entire matter altogether. Once prayer in that form is generated, it continues. It is not just offered in that moment only. It is established as a disposition. You may even repeat the act of prayer relative to that specific dimension of life again and again, but the prayer is essentially constant. Apart from the moments of formal’ prayer, you go about your business. You act and perform your role in life, and over time you observe that changes are taking place in this area of life.
Some changes will occur immediately. Others take time. But if we persist in prayerful association with physical events, they will change. There is absolutely no doubt about it. They will change! They will tend to change in any case, but the changes may continue to be negative because you have not released your negative disposition toward them. But if you will release that negative disposition and release the events themselves into the Influence of God, events definitely will change. Through the agency of the Divine, you can have an effect on every aspect of experiential existence. Of course, to have such an effect is not an end in itself. It is simply an extension of the life of God-Communion, which is self transcending and ultimately transcends the world altogether.
The Divine is altogether profound here. God pervades all space. God is the Condition of existence. God is the environment of existence. The Divine is the environment in which we are aware of existence, and all the conditions of knowledge and experience that arise for us are modifications of the Divine that are determined by our self-orientation, by the state of the body-mind, or by the technique to which the body-mind is consciously or unconsciously devoted. Through critical self-inspection, based on hearing true wisdom, and through psychophysical awakening to the real Divine Presence, we may transform the body-mind into a conscious technique of self-transcending Communion, or true prayer.
All must realize that a great Power is available in such practice, not merely for our personal and egoic purposes, but for the blessing of everyone. By Law a great, All Pervading Power is available and can be effective in our lives, collectively and individually. That Power generates God-Realization, or salvation. Therefore, it also generates all kinds of changes in the direction of equanimity, or fullness in God. However, since it is All Pervading, that same Power is also producing all the negative effects of our existence. Why? Not because God is intending to make us suffer, but by virtue of our unconscious relationship to that Power. We are self-possessed and we have accumulated tendencies in the body-mind that are themselves producing negative effects and modifications of the Universal Reality.
The negative influences, however, are not more powerful than true prayer. The transcendental Force of the Divine in its unqualified potency is full, positive, blissful. Negative developments of that Force do not have the strength of free, infinite, Divine Power. Thus, negative circumstances in our lives) including encounters with negative people and negative; forces, provide a circumstance of creative struggle whereby we must come to understand that we cannot beg snuffed out or destroyed, that a greater Power is available to us than any negative circumstance represents, however strong it may seem.
Our encounters with negative forces and negative individuals can be difficult, but such encounters serve us. The reactions they awaken in’ us are expressions of our present psycho-physical technique that we must over come. Merely to encounter difficulties does not justify self-possessed frustration and the abandonment of spiritual practice. Rather, we should accept the lessons provided by difficulties and surrender the negativity in ourselves that is stimulated by an encounter with what frustrates us. That is one dimension of our dealing with difficulties. The next dimension is positively to meet negative conditions with the; disposition of surrender and, through true prayer, to create an opening for the transcendental Force, so that it may make changes.
The black magician does this, you see, but he is negatively self-possessed. Thus, he evokes the Transcendental Presence and directs it with negative intention. He does dark things with it. Many individuals have so used the Force of Life; it is not that dark things cannot be done. But black magic only; intensifies one’s karmic bondage and the bondage of others We must not be persuaded in this way. Knowing that this is so, we should simply surrender, make the l body-mind a technique of ecstasy, and in that transcendental disposition do white magic. We must understand that this Power is available to enlighten others and to transform their course of life. We must realize that anything that appears negative in the circumstances of our existence is itself simply a form of God expressed through a negative karmic disability, and that such disabilities do not have the force of a free and capable being.
Our experience of frustration and suppressive factors in the world has led us to develop the karmic tendencies of self-possessed anger, sorrow, fear, doubt, shame, and all the rest. And, through the psycho-physical technique of reactive emotions, we also! tend to encounter other people and situations that are frustrating to us. We could turn that technique of reactive emotions into a very dark force, if we applied it consciously, which is what black magicians do. But if we can transcend ourselves and our karma of reactive emotions and enter into transcendental, ecstatic Communion with the Divine, then we can do white magic.
The blessing of others is the principle of white magic. We can bless all others and have the same ultimate effect that we would seek through black magic, which is to relieve ourselves of all of this suffering. We can achieve the same result through blessing. Through blessing, we create the opportunity through which the spiritualizing, benign Force of the Divine may influence the circumstances of antagonistic others and other frustrating and suppressive circumstances as well.
We must realize that this Great Power is real and available to us and that, as we grow in the practice of God-Communion, we achieve more and more individual and collective force with which to do positive things. We must understand that this Great Power can make great positive changes. Spiritual practitioners today must not think that because we are relatively few we are therefore weak. Even if there were a few hundred practicing together and praying cooperatively, that would be a sufficient number. Even a smaller number than that would be sufficient to do white magic and have a greater effect than the material efforts that great numbers may perform. You have the capacity, by virtue of the Law of existence, the pervasive Nature of the Divine Power, to make positive, magical use of that Power in order to introduce the enlightening influence and the power of change into all the circumstances of existence.
If you doubt that Power, if you remain possessed by reactive emotion and all the karmas of your unconscious and subconscious mind, then your prayer and sacramental activity will not be effective. You may pray and pray, and yet you will still suffer and nothing will change, and you start to wonder why. Eventually you will say that all this religion is a lot of nonsense, and you will cease to be a convert. But those who practice truly come into real association with the Divine Power and can see it make real changes.
The more profoundly we enter into such Communion, therefore, the more profound will be this realization of fullness, happiness, bliss. To the degree we are fixed in limited conditions, we feel contracted, unhappy, limited, confined, troubled, threatened, founded in fear. Rather than work on those negative states by confronting them and meditating on them, we should surrender into the Condition of all of them and thereby allow that great Condition to appear in the place of these contractions, to break them up and to restore harmony, openness, and a free flow where there are knots.
How much of all of this you will realize, and how perfectly you will realize it, depends on your response to this understanding and this possibility. It can be said that God-Realization depends on Grace as well, but Grace is That which you contact by making yourself available. Therefore, you must be converted, turned about to dependence on That which is infinitely powerful. Both this conversion of self and the presence of Grace or free Influence, must be present. Whatever you submit to that Influence, that Condition, will begin to show the signs of purification, change, release of energy, and release of consciousness.
This submission to Grace is the significance of unceasing and universal prayer, prayer that never stops, that is directed to everything altogether, and that does not stop short of blessing everything and everyone. Our prayer must be universal; it must bless everything, placing everything in the circumstance of Grace, or the Divine Influence. It must be unceasing. It must relate to all conditions and all beings, and it must be profoundly heartfelt rather than mechanical. It must be ecstatic. It must be done with full and free commitment of the body, emotion, and attention.
We must persist in this universal prayer. It is not that there is some Creator God who is waiting for us to do some “right” ritual or believe some conventional, “right” thing. There is only one universal Law: that there is only God. Therefore, whatever is placed in God, because there is only God, begins to show the signs of, Divine Influence. Prayer works not because we say the tight sequence of words given by one or another cult,! but because we actually perform the process of surrender of self and submission of things into the actual Divine Reality. Salvation is God-Communion, or unity. with God, unobstructed association with God. It is a process rather than a dogma exclusive to a particular cult; It is a universal process that can be entered into by all beings. Through true and effective prayer we are transfigured. Likewise, in the act of universal prayer we allow everything and everyone to be transfigured and transformed by the Divine. This universal prayer is the most auspicious magic. All other magic is karmic and self-based and carries negative consequences on one! level or another.
The more one prays simply in the form of Communion, the more one can extend that form of prayer into the magic of blessing that is effective. Likewise, the more one engages in the magic of blessing, the more one understands the mechanism of one’s psycho-physical existence and therefore the more one is moved into ecstasy, or God-Realization itself. Therefore, the complex, creative process of living this Way of life throughout a lifetime works on one level in the dynamics of experience, knowledge, and change in this perceptual realm. On the other hand, that process is constantly purifying and harmonizing our self-state so that we are releasing the self-state itself and making it obsolete in Divine intuition. The more wisdom grows, the more transparent this world becomes. The! more humor and freedom are alive as us, the wiser we become.
Ultimately, the necessity for a life of this human kind, even in this relatively positive, spiritual form, disappears. We are having this experience because of the technique of our present association with the Divine. If that technique were utterly transformed, we would stop having this experience. We would enter into another condition of existence altogether. We will persist in this present development of self and experience until we transcend the mechanics of our self-existence. Transcending it means understanding oneself, entering into the process of Communion, and, through right action, right association, and the blessing of everything and everyone, purifying the various levels of the psycho-physical self, releasing the bondage of each aspect of the being. Through this process of purification, the body-mind becomes intensely filled with the spiritual Force and Consciousness of the Divine.
We must be purified through right association with the Divine. Through such purification each aspect of the being is brought into a condition of balance or equanimity. We should be openhearted, open bodily, surrendered to God, breathing evenly in both nostrils all the time, breathing fully without contractions in any area of the body-mind, without reactive emotions. If we can enter into this whole bodily surrender, then each aspect of this body-mind is purified-physically, emotionally, mentally. The body-mind becomes simply an unobstructed, balanced presentation to the Divine. Then the bodymind, you see, becomes a pure, effective mechanism of Divine association and provides the vehicle for ultimate self-transcendence as well as an agency of positive influence in the world.
Prayer – (1978 unpublished talk)
True Prayer and Religious Magic – Enlighenment of the Whole Body