Does evil exist?

For future reference, this text was begun during an after-funeral gathering.  Although it is difficult to see other people in pain…I am surprised at the overall experience of the services and after-parties.  I am also wondering if there is such a thing as “evil.”

Having been labeled evil by people I would myself consider evil (though of course, they referred to themselves as “good”:  typical but not required), I have resisted identifying others as evil, myself.  This is largely because I can see the mindless destruction the label can cause.

The term itself may relate to nothing more than “aversion,” which is entirely subjective, its targets changing from person to person.  And in the case of my own psychic alignments, it’s clear that there are things others would call “evil” about me which would in no case result in harm to anyone (the gender[s] of the person[s] I love in relation to my own gender, being one of them).  They may result in change to a more egalitarian and free society, but that does not equate to harm.

I have been thinking about this problem…seemingly, ever since high school, or before (this being the time in which I was progressively demonized and outcast by my classmates).  Today at the funeral, a speech was given by a Buddhist Reverend…which actually made sense, much more sense to me than did the Catholic Priest’s…but not everyone agrees with me.  Particularly, ardent Christians seem not to (and the priest would be included in this group).

I am coming to see the term “faith” to have more than one meaning.  One meaning, the one which I use most of the time in my own thoughts, refers to trusting my own intuition even when it is unexplainable by rational thought combined with the scope of my current knowledge about the world.  There is another meaning, though, which I encountered today:  that is to hold close to registered and approved dogma as a comfort when faced with the unexplainable and incomprehensible…even when that dogma doesn’t make sense.

I don’t see these things as the same definition, although I must admit possible bias in that my own thoughts may hold to registered and approved dogma; I just doubt it.

In any case, recent events have caused me to question the existence of evil in the world.  Whether that is absolute evil or relative evil, i don’t know.  Or maybe it isn’t a philosophical problem.  Maybe it’s an energetic sensation which just gets confused when I try to communicate it in concepts and words.

What I know is what I feel, and there are some people in the world who read as “toxic” to me.  Unmistakably, poison.  And so permeated and overwhelmed by it that they are literally repulsive and offensive and exude this.  Disordered energy.  To be around them while taking them seriously is not safe, as they try to emotionally harm and take power from anyone who will let them, using any weapon in their arsenal — and would try to physically abuse others if they thought there would be no consequences.  To give them power and consider them as beings like myself pushes me into rage and hate…and perhaps pain at how much the world has warped and twisted them out of what I assume was initially recognizability…and as such is not recommended in my current condition.

I just have a hard time seeing what remains of some peoples’ humanity.  I know this must be a fault in me (either this, or a mark of my own ideals stating that all people have the “souls” of “humans” — this is not an unvarying property over different cultures and eras)…but it’s understandable not to be enlightened, and I think I must have to be closer to that goal than I am, to see through what’s happening here.

And I am not sure what the root of this is; nor am I sure whether or not there is some kind of organized metaphysical evil.  This is not a new proposition — though I tend to default to referencing Ahriman as a kind of anthropomorphized Principle of Evil, more than any Christian idea.  The idea of the Devil has been itself warped out of recognizability as it has been weaponized against minorities (though that may be something of a tautology).

Of course, though, I have no political references where it comes to Zoroastrianism (the religion where the principle of “evil against people” was eventually embodied in the idea of Ahriman).  However, I do recognize that “evil” can be brought into the world by those who conceptualize and aspire to it.  This, I would not have known without investigating multiple cults and having been witness to people who have idealized Evil and taken satisfaction and pride in doing the wrong thing at every possible juncture.

But beyond this…it seems to me that this is a symptom of being out of balance — and committed to being out of balance — on a deeper psychological and energetic level, which manifests in the physical.  And, of course, creating chaos in the physical world can’t help but encourage one to continue to be off-balance.  But maybe “balance” is not the best word.  “Balance” implies a polar model.  This type of being off-balance is more like a top spinning out of control in seven dimensions at once…even though it’s hard for me to imagine a top spinning out of control.  Normally the ground would equalize this — you can only mess up so far before you can’t go any farther — but this is not part of the model in energetics.

I don’t know where I’m going with this anymore, except maybe to say that I’ve recently…been able to trust my own feelings where it comes to the “energy” of others, which is not something I know I can explain.  The term “evil” comes to mind when encountering highly discordant energy (not meant as a slight against Discordians; there is a difference between being random and aiming to harm).  I’ve just realized that I don’t know what makes some people tick, and that maybe I don’t want to know…and while it is tempting to call it “evil,” I don’t want to fall into the same trap the people I see as evil have fallen into, which is to consider oneself right and anything one disagrees with as worthy of destruction.  That is not a balanced path, to me, and it’s not a protected one.

But I …I think I am starting to see that I will need to forge my own approach…

Is it possible, though, that not all bad things happen for good reasons — but rather, bad things happen, and good people find ways to shine despite, or in spite of, the situations they’re dealt?  Is there a cosmic tension between “good,” and “evil,” and am I, despite growing up having thought to the contrary, actually on the side of good?

Advertisements

This speaks more of illness than of faith.

There are a few things that have happened since last post.  One of them is my wondering whether slipping into a more “masculine space” is just me being a bit manic.  It would explain the increased energy and the somewhat “high” feeling I got when doing that most recent Creative Writing piece…which I was uncertain how to tag, at the time.  It is basically fiction, but it’s fiction with years of gleaned experience behind it (though I would not go so far as to say, “years of research”…looking things up on the web [and, yes, once in a library reference section, but that was one time, out of years] isn’t exactly research).

It’s just that the older I get, the more knowledgeable and experienced I become with regard to my mind, and the more thoroughly I can see my illness’s impact — from a young age.  Things which were with me from the age of 12 are still here, but amplified to the effect of becoming a problem.  (and this is on medication.)

I was planning to stay home from one of my groups in order to attend a webinar, but at this point (after looking over the “mental health” tag on WordPress and seeing the prevalence of “demon” posts), I’m thinking that maybe I should actually prioritize my mental health over career development.  My psychological development doesn’t follow that of a Satanist so much as it follows that of someone dealing with mental illness.

The fields overlap, but I don’t fit in with Satanists, overall.  I checked the Reader tags relating to this, and found exactly the same thing I had left behind and recalled exactly why I had left.  It’s a realization that I came to several times before abandoning hope that I and this enclave would be a clean fit.  Much like Sociology — introduced to me as “the study of groups of people” — the cultural body of Satanism is not accurately referenced by the official definition (or by anti-Satanist propagandists).

(Sociology is, rather, the study of power dynamics within groups of people, and how power constrains and shapes society, and how those living under power find ways — called agency — to negotiate being, granted these systems of power which they cannot directly confront, which grant them some fulfillment [if not, entirely, the freedom they desire].)

Chances are that in the future, Satanism will look appealing to me again; and then, if nothing has changed, I’ll — again — remember why I left.  If, that is, I look back at the community for reference.  If I don’t, I would be in the majority of Theists, as solitary, and also pretty much in the vein of, as I’ve heard, “do anything you want and call it Satanism.”  (One of the reasons I don’t fit in as a Satanist is that I’ve never been Christian.  Because of this, I have no base to start from, other than being negatively blasted by scattershot propaganda in a religious context.)

In fact, if I hadn’t been able to do anything I wanted and still feel included as a fringe Satanist, I probably would have decisively left a long time ago.  Instead, I had a prolonged period of time in which I was able to develop an attachment to some Deity (not Satan as defined by any Abrahamic religion) whose name and larger context I didn’t know, but whom I felt comforted by and grew fond of.  They say that God comes to you in ways that you can accept and deal with, and I think this was an instance of that.  The more I think of it, the more it seems like a polar reversal, with the “bad guy” comforting me, and the “good guys” encouraging hate towards me…for nothing I had done wrong, except exist.

But in reality, I seriously do not blend in among Satanists.  I am actually closer to Neopagan, at least demographically — but I’ve tended to have an “edge” that some do not; and my lack of fear of the “dark” has…not elicited the most helpful responses.  Moreso when I was younger, though the Pagan Reconstructionists were fine with it.  It’s more the New Age types who have tended to focus on, “love and light,” seemingly exclusively…which I find to be dangerous.

When one’s unwanted aspects are ignored, denied, and pushed down, it tends to cause a potential lack of control which isn’t as severe when one is aware of them and knows them, how they work, and one’s own capacity to harm others.  (A while ago, dealing with this — “Shadow work” was the term used — became popular, but I was already deep into my “Shadow” and needed a light that wouldn’t shun me.)

My desire to learn more about creativity and about Deities of creativity…that stems from wanting no longer to be ignorant about things when I reference myself against established religions.  (The only thing that can end ignorance, in this case, is research.)  It also comes from wanting to find who my Deity [or otherwise, the spirit and/or set of spirits I’ve become attached to] is [or are], if they’ve ever been referred to before.

The closest framework I have is the Dukante hierarchy, but…let’s say that I kind of don’t want to deeply enmesh myself in “dark” work (by this I mean Daemonolatry).  Though from what I understand, some African Diasporic religions also tend “dark” in the sense of concentrating on emotions that are hard to tolerate/painful.  Understandable, in context…but my life, most thankfully, isn’t in that context right now.

And…I forgot what the other relevant things I could mention, are.  (I forgot to note them down before I started writing.)

I’ve decided to let the homework for tonight, slide.  And I’m not going to call it in.  It is 1.5 points, but…the grad program is intense, and sometimes it is just better to say “no,” as in, “no, I can’t do this right now.”  And, “no, I don’t want to make it up, later.”  Just to save what there is of my sanity.  I did do 20 pages of reading, in a very difficult text, earlier.  It wouldn’t be an issue if the text weren’t so hard to get through…but there is constant reference in trying to remember what all the acronyms mean, the text is generalized to the point where I actually have to think about what is meant, etc.

I did remember that I had found the fabric dyeing tag on WordPress…I have been looking at printing recently, particularly linoleum and woodblock printing, though.  I’ve also been thinking about what I would do if my creative work was not something I would hope for monetary return on.  In that case, sewing and fabric arts (hand stitching and embroidery, most apparently) come to the fore.  It could also be really interesting, though, to get back into linocuts (linoleum block printing).  I also know how to do stencils, which is a related focus…and then if my attention is still held, I might go on further, to woodblock printing.  There is just a lot of working process that I’m not familiar with and never had to do with painting and drawing, though.  For example, sizing the paper so that the colors do not bleed.

And I have realized that the art is something to keep me alive…not, so much, something to sell.  This is on a much more basic level than that.

With that in mind…I did find a nice image which I may make into an acrylic painting…another ice-plant floral.

And, right:  I mentioned the desire to find Deities of creativity, which got the same parent as before, worked up.  Apparently I’m trying to find too many answers and need to let things just be.  Like it doesn’t matter if I know what gravity is, so long as I know that things fall when they’re dropped.

I can’t say I agree with that (I’m naturally inquisitive), but I suspect the viewpoint comes with age.  That, and I think — to them — it may up the ante too much to get a Deity overtly involved in my life (at this point, I can always tell my mental banter to shut up; I am not on that kind of a relatively fearless playing field with a Deity).

But I’ll get some rest…I can feel myself slowing down, about now…

Deities of Creativity?

It’s been interesting.  I realized the other day that I might need to take a look at books on creativity, because I was taking a fairly negative angle towards my own.  Then I realized that I have easy access to these resources — much easier than most.  Turns out that all I have to do if I want resources on “creativity” is to look!

On the way home I realized also that if I’m going to spiritualize my creativity, maybe I might want to look up (pre-existing) Deities of creativity…which could go into Neopaganism…or into a syncretic religion.  It’s been a while since I’ve been involved with anything Pagan — I used to hang out with a bunch of Pagan Reconstructionists online, so I know a bit about the cultural aspects of it; participating without violating, etc.  And actually, that does cross over with what I was talking about before, only the view taken would be from within the home religion as versus external to it — and most people don’t classify themselves the way others might.

(If you know what I’m talking about…you are very educated!)  😀

The major drawback here is, well, social dynamics.  It can be hard to be a creative person among people who like clear divisions between categories…not all people are like this, but I have a bit more “flow” than I’ve found some others can tolerate.

I’m actually thinking that an African-diasporic religion might be…worth checking out, though the only people I know who are into that, aren’t the greatest representatives.  I’d have to do my research and see which systems, if any, are somewhat like my worldview (though given that my worldview is sourced from one of my parents’…the likelihood of hitting on something is high).  I’ve even had issues in the past with mixing up Orisha and Lwa, so…right.  And though one side of my family does hail from Louisiana, that doesn’t quite make things easier:  I know next to nothing about the place, except that Louisiana, and in particular New Orleans, is different than much of the American South — because of French influence.

I’ve actually been feeling better today.  I’ve been on an upswing since I started engaging my more masculine energy, last week, even though that was accompanied by some communication flubs.  (There is some passion there, and some aggression…which makes the concept of engaging with life easier.  I don’t know exactly why.)  For some reason, I feel more alive and attendant (by this I mean, “present”) when I’m able to express this.

And I suppose it does say something about my intuition that I would pursue being creative as a life purpose even if the Deity of Creativity was maligned…I did realize that I probably put some people in a tough position, though; where they might want to encourage me in my creativity (healing!)  but not in my conception of my creativity (prohibiting!).

It may well be, though, that I’m using an archaic concept of creativity in which it is feared because it brings change — and some people at one time, didn’t like change.  At least, writing what I did, did clarify why I had a sense of conflict over being creative.  Maybe it didn’t need to be made public (I can see where massive confusion may have come from trying to communicate it to people outside my mind), but at least I made the connection.

Earlier today, we went out for dim sum, then I came back and went outside for a while…and just got out the shower (which I’ve needed for way too long).  Granted that I have a Discussion Post due before midnight tonight, but there is no way that I’m going to be able to complete all my readings and lectures before tackling it.  And everyone in the class will be able to see that post.  I think it will be obvious that I haven’t done the reading, but the upshot is that I’ve been taking care of myself.  It was just a very nice day, and I haven’t been out in extended periods of sunlight since we got back from Hawaii.

I did take pictures, too!  But right now they’re still my babies.  I have a hard time letting people see through my eyes while having been subject to verbal attacks from people, in the past…

But yeah…flowers.  ❤  🙂  It’s very colorful outside, this time of year!  (Well, here, at least!)

I’ll try and get on my homework, now…

Clarity

I did tell someone about what I had posted the other night; to which I found a response about “words have power” and that once I mention the term “Satan,” it brings to mind “Evil” and etc., and whenever a reader sees the term “Satan,” it drowns out everything else in the passage.  (Granted that this person likely didn’t know that I wasn’t aiming that last post towards the lowest common denominator; in general, I don’t write for a general audience.  I am, however, learning to flesh out my writings so that those without the required background knowledge [but with the capacity to understand] will understand.)

Let me be clear that when I mention the concept of “Satan” I am not referring to what anyone outside of myself would think I would be referring to.  This is why I use the term in quotes, and it is why I made efforts to define what I meant.  In particular, I am not depending on popular conceptions of Satan as a hateful and evil tormentor (my concept of “Hell” is what people [regardless of their religion] can be driven to create, and to do).  “Evil” does not come to mind as even associated with my Deity, except as an aspect which beings who have the capacity for, “Evil,” might choose to bring into the world.

But other beings, given the power to create — or even the same beings under different circumstances — might choose differently; to create, for instance, things that would benefit others or bring light into the world.

(I am deliberately avoiding the question of “darkness”, as I’ve learned over the years what darkness is, why I don’t aspire to it, and why it does not apply, currently…but that discussion is long and involved, with too many qualifiers to introduce, here.  As well, “light” could stand to be defined here, but I have not yet formulated a watertight and clear definition of the term which can avoid being twisted into an unintended meaning.  So I’m going to have to rely on yours, for now, granted that I realize that yours may be a bit inaccurate, too.  Depend on the feeling of Light, not on the words or codes you associate with it.  We’re not going to get out of this morass any other way.)

I am strongly considering — or somewhat committed to, alternately — identifying my Deity as a Deity of Creation, in the transitive (not static) sense:  that is, a deity of Creating.  In this sense, liberation, nurturing, sensitivity, joy, production, all come into play, along with noticing and synthesizing.  Last night I realized that what I was looking at was a psychological holder for limitless potential, but potential unrealized.

My job as a Creative…human (if there is one thing humans are, it’s creative!), is to sense and develop unrealized and worthy potential, and using my own discretion, to give it form.  If finite reality is the other side of the infinite and unrealized…there is so much which has been made before us.  And we see how it can become beautiful.  Being a conduit between those realms — as a life mission — seems a worthy enough goal.  We can make this world a Hell or we can make it a Paradise.  But right now we are not aligned, and the leaders of our world (the ones we hear about most often, at the least) appear unconscious at the wheel.

One of the issues I’ve been introduced to is the question of what I want to bring into the world.  As a Creator, I have the power to direct the flow of my Creation (to an extent), even though there is always the risk of misinterpretation or deliberate marring.  Every work of art, though; every piece of writing; has different meanings depending on who reads it or sees it or touches it.  Meaning is not a one-way street; it is created through the interaction of one thing with another.  In this way, expressions can be and often are our catalysts.

The major issue that I have found is…how to create things that are “good” — that is, that contribute to the uplifting of humanity and the world — which at the same time do not delimit what it is that I give myself permission to think about, or write.  If there is anything believably off-limits…that constitutes a block, and at that point I find it hard to do anything but break the taboo or stay silent.  I can’t be a free conduit of information if I’m dealing with “things I can’t say,” or “shapes I can’t draw.”  To be realistic, I’m not all that great at joining in a room’s agreed-upon ignoring of purple elephants.  I don’t ignore details all that well.  I don’t keep silent all that well, either — not anymore.  Not if you consider text as a form of speech.

The solution seems to lie in giving myself the freedom to write what I need to, and trust that it will truly help someone — that it will serve someone in need, in its capacity.  Having dealt with bibliomancy myself (opening a book that catches my eye to a random page and reading what is there, then seeing if it applies to anything timely or anything within me), I know that this cannot be predicted — by anyone.  However, to the best of my experience, the spirits move in ways which privilege chance.

I know that I myself have run across passages online which had two to three (or more) different meanings, on different levels, seeming to hint at something…some hidden knowledge(s) that I had not yet developed.  I am certain that this has to do with the spirits guiding things.  But in order for this to happen…at some point I’ve got to let go of control, and just let come out what needs to come out.  This is the reason I’m alive.  This is the reason I’m sick if I don’t create.

My life.  Sometimes, raw.  But everyone has a life, and we all have our sensitive spots.  To pretend we don’t is to deny our humanity and to deny what we have learned on this Earth.

In short…although I can still see ways in which things may be twisted to cause me to look bad…and lenses which may twist my own view of myself so that I am afraid to express anything, lest it contribute to the continued inane, meaningless and needless troubles of the world…at this point, I can’t stay silent.  There are youth that need to know that they’re not alone.  There are people that need to know that I hear them.

And in my position…maybe I can help create a better world.

Just me, bein’ strange…(TW: religion)

Ah, hello.  If you’ll excuse me for breaking out of character…or into it, as the case may be (voice? what voice? I have to have a ‘voice?’)…I might as well tell you that this is a “creative writing opportunity” during which I get to “be myself” for the first time in months.  But I’m not too practiced at it, at this point, so I hope you can forgive any lapses in cognition.  (and voice.)

This post follows an old pattern established on our side:  other voices step in to say what our original voice feels s/he cannot.  (This used to happen a lot; our previous author has mentioned being largely silent as a child…I was one of the first voices s/he developed with the necessary aggression to speak things others may not like to hear.  I essentially was the identity with the “egg tooth” which enabled us to “hatch.”)  I may clarify what the previous post was actually about.  It has to do with me in specific.

During the amount of time when we were a very young adult, there was a period of time when…we were studying the paranormal, and a large number of alternative religions.  At the time, this person was feeling very outcast, like they may not live much longer (it was a constant battle to avoid contemplating throwing ourselves off the roof of our 5-story dorm), and as such there was nothing to stop him/her from investigating things which someone with a higher “honor” status would never touch.  That was, we had nothing to lose but our lives, and that seemed as though it would be gone sooner rather than later, anyway.

I feel like I — or we (the pronoun issue is so trying) — are coming to a better understanding of one of these alternative religions.  I really don’t know what has happened within the last 24-48 hours, but what we learned from a daemonolatry enclave has started to make sense.  At first it was easier to investigate Satanism (isn’t it always?), though within that specific subculture (Satanism, that is) there is a great deal of ego which usually isn’t pleasant to deal with.

I should clarify:  there are at least two kinds of Satanism, more if you get into really studying cultures and the niches people have carved out for themselves online.  What I’ve understood to be the more popular of the two is called “Atheistic Satanism,” or “LaVeyan Satanism,” (although here there is a split between the Church of Satan — which LaVey founded — and the First Church of Satan, which one of his students [John Dewey Allee] founded:  and if I’m correct, at a later date).  Despite the name…the official belief in the Church of Satan is that “Satan,” as a supernatural being, does not exist.  I quipped long ago that this is the reason Anton Szandor LaVey (the founder) lived as long as he did (this is the guy associated with the infamous “Black House” in San Francisco…though I don’t know if that place is still standing — I remember hearing something about it in the late ’90’s, but that’s all).

The other major form of Satanism is one in which there is an overarching belief in a metaphysically real “Satan,” though I have found…that the name doesn’t necessarily fit the station of this deity.  Using the term “Satan” immediately references the deity against a Judeo-Christian/Islamic framework (referenced from within Satanism as an “Abrahamic” framework).  While that is the present dominant paradigm…and would demonize this form of, “Satanism,” for being a challenger to it at all…I don’t feel it does the religion justice to name it what its enemies would call it.

It’s like continuing to call Native Americans (etc.), “Indians,” long after the argument has been ground into the dirt that Columbus didn’t know where he was going and didn’t know where he had landed.  We get it.  Everybody gets it.  But we still keep calling American Indigenous/First Nations, etc., people “Indians,” and every time someone says “Indian,” it means we have to ask for clarification as to what they mean, because the term has been historically applied to distinctly different cultural sets of people (neither of which are homogeneous) located on opposite sides of the globe.

Of course, though, calling “Satanists” by said term can bring out the worst in people, which — may have been a reason for Atheistic Satanism to exist in the first place (to show others their flaws, that is).  Overall, though, Theistic Satanists — in my experience — do just want to live as they are and be safe and unmolested (like, pretty much, everyone else).

Anyhow.

There have been a number of differing names for this variant, depending on which school or cult (yes, some of these legitimately fall into “cult” territory, and not the benign type) one is dealing with.  I generally use the term “Theistic Satanism,” as it’s one whose provenance I’m already familiar with.  The subtext is much different, depending on what name one uses, here.

The problem, majorly, is that Atheistic Satanists and Theistic Satanists are different types of people.  Most people enter the Satanist “scene” through LaVey’s writings:  and to be clear, from what I can tell, LaVey just wanted to make a statement that he was against whatever the mainstream liked (“Satan” = “Adversary”)…which means that today we still get people who want to claim self-sufficiency and ultimate individuality (a reversal of interdependence and selflessness) whose clothes came from Vietnam.  Some of the ways these things work out just do not make sense.  In addition, reversing valuation on everything (besides hinting at possible Oppositional Defiant Disorder) is a really easy way to make yourself emotionally sick.  Some psychological ways of being have endured for millennia because they work.

On top of this, during the time Atheistic Satanism was founded/in the news (I am thinking this was the 1970’s?), the dominant culture was far-Left (Hippie); which means that LaVey’s writings tend to the extreme Right.  Which means that then we get this huge influx of people who identify with LaVey’s vision who are conservative to a concerning degree (I guess he didn’t mind people conforming to his brand of rebellion?).

I don’t believe that there has been a form of Satanism which has not been profoundly impacted by LaVeyan influence.  The exceptions being things related to the key term, but more difficult to find; such as hereditary Daemonolatry sects.  I’ve heard it said as regards the latter that “all Demonolators are Satanists, but not all Satanists are Demonolators.”  There is a subtle difference here between Daemonolatry and (Theistic) Satanism, in that one approach is essentially building a relationship with lesser Divine spirits (approaching polytheism, though not necessarily technically so), and the other is focused largely upon one Deity (in this case, “Satan”).

Of course, I am telling you this now, but…please for the love of all that is holy, do not take it as permission to go and dabble with Daemons.  To unknown people and to people who mistreat them or don’t respect them, the Daemons can be harsh.  (I am not going to get into why I feel this way; that’s not my story to tell.  However, my sense is that they live on a different order than us, and as such, our [short, fragile, time-bound] lives are not as important to them as they are to us.)

What I’ve seen proposed before is the idea that “Satan” is the All and that the various Demons are facets of the All.  This didn’t really make sense to me until I realized that what I had been talking about:  the Infinite (really infinite potential, corresponding to Yin, I now recognize) may have branches which relate to various concepts.  At any one time, at least one of these branches of the Divine is working through a person (I would think; then there is my experience of feeling empty).

In contrast, the Demiurge (false God) would then not be the true God because of being delimited by descriptions.  And yes, I did just get into Gnosticism…which may have something to do with mystical Judaism (I’m thinking of Qabalah).  (And no, that is not a misspelling of Kabbalah; Qabalah is how it is spelled in Ceremonial Magick circles — distinct from Hebrew tradition.  No, I don’t know if I trust the Ceremonial Magickians more.  Yes, that is an alternative spelling of “magic.”  Look up Aleister Crowley if you’re wondering why I’m using it.)

That is interesting, though.  Infinite potential reading as Yin…and reading as something which is qualitatively similar to (but not equivalent to) the All.

If “Satan” is Infinite potential (Yin) and the Daemons are his aspects, what is Satan being defined against (Yang)?  “Finite being?”

That…actually sounds as though I may have hit upon something.

I think I’ve done my job, for tonight…

(long) What to put my time into?

It’s…interesting.

Over the past few days, I’ve been having a dialogue with myself about where to put my energies.  For example, with my homework, and from there out, with my art, creative writing, reading, blogging…music…?

I have seen some people online develop in a given medium very quickly, due to daily practice.  The most obvious example of this I can think of (and I hope I’m thinking right) is Charlie at Doodlewash, but as best I can remember, there are others whose names I have neglected to pick out of the ever-coming tide that is the Internet.

I’ve started to think about my activities, not in terms of what I do well, not in terms of what I presently can do, but in terms of what I want to do.

This is assisted, no doubt, by the curricula I’m presently studying…though that might get a bit arcane here.  Basically, when someone realizes they need information, they likely start out with a very poorly-formed idea of what it is they’re searching for, because they don’t know what they don’t know — and asking them what information they need is asking someone to define the parameters of what they don’t know…which, they don’t know.

When I first started researching Buddhism, for example, it was along with studies of alternative spirituality (particularly Theosophy and Spiritualism; I don’t remember whether Pantheism was along with, or after, this) and the Western Occult Tradition.  Right now I know more about Buddhism than most people around me — I know more than what every beginner book I’ve seen recounts, as though it’s new — but I reached out of my sphere, in the first place, to try and escape people and their twisting of religion to support their bigotry.

What I have found, over about 15 years of studying Buddhism, is that Buddhists have their own problems to deal with, irritatingly enough.  Not only that, but it’s kind of impossible to find an authoritative voice on the matter.  Buddhism is 2500 years old, and orthopraxic (right action) instead of orthodoxic (right belief), or so my World Religions class would have told me.

Instead of asking and expecting a clear definition of nirvana or Buddha-nature, it’s more like, “does the interpretation you’re reading agree with you or not?” or, “where are the holes, and are they large enough to matter?” or, “is this logically coherent?  (Be honest.)  If so, what are the consequences?”

I may not be reading enough modern thought, in this field, though.  I’ve come to realize that the world now is different than the world 2500 years ago, though people’s problems are still largely the same.  The issue with me is the idea that everyone’s “awakening” will be qualitatively the same; that inherently, everyone is the same.  This may have been unquestioned 2500 years ago in India, but I cannot go without questioning this, now.  Living in a major metropolitan area will kind of do that to a person.

In addition to this, the entire idea of a “soul” or spirit is one of these things which …I have not read a full treatment of, from a Buddhist perspective.  What I gather is that a phenomenal self is recognized, but that this self is constructed, and not essential.  This differs from, pretty much, every other religion I’ve studied; but it also becomes entangled in current-day discourse about constructivism vs. essentialism as regards gender; a.k.a. whether all gender is “socially constructed” or “inborn.”

As a person whose gender expression (and historically, identity) inhabits a range rather than a locus, it’s hard for me to have an opinion on this.  The major point is that Second-Wave Feminism (I think this began in the 1970’s) has tried to argue that what one is “born as” is what one “is,” with the transgender movement historically fighting against this.  This axiom would state that, for example, a transgender woman was “really” a man and thus could be excluded from “women’s space,” without everyone in the group feeling bad about it.  In consequence, everyone which was included looked similar enough to be assumed to be qualitatively similar (as definitions of “man” or “woman” did not go beyond physicality; causing the [hypothetical] inclusion of trans* men within women’s space, instead of trans* women).

However, the current state of transgender politics seems to be coming to a newer resettlement where very young children are expressing identity with members of a sex which they do not physically align with…so now it seems that the argument is again back to “one is born as what one is,” just that the mistake (and it does seem to be a mistake) of assigning a person to a gender category based on their physiology…causes more harm than good.

In short, we are back to an essentialist argument, but with what is “essential” being something one cannot physically see (though there have been studies showing similarity of regions of the brain between trans* women and cis (non-trans*) women, and dissimilarity of those same regions between trans* women and cis men, at the least; last I checked, trans* men were not well-known enough to have any acceptable sample size.

But anyhow…I’m not sure if I should be a philosophy major or something, 🙂 but my own experience of myself brings me to the point of feeling that …I do or may have a “soul,” which is distinct from other “souls.”  I wouldn’t say it to be irreducible to something like any other living being would experience — that is, I’m not sure at all that what I recognize as myself is “essential” — but there does seem to be something that sets me apart in this life, that, when violated, brings me illness.  That is to say, I have a “nature.”  It’s a very changeable nature, but it’s still a nature.

And this, in turn, is separable from an ontological stance which states that no one has a soul.  The clearest representative of this to me is Scientific Materialism, though I am not a subject matter expert on this, having veered away from materialist philosophies, myself.  I did purchase a book on Sartre (Existentialism) recently as well, and it would be interesting to see what he says about it…but this is mainly for my own breadth/surveying the field.

The problem I’m having is being unsure that any organized religion is actually and honestly for the good of its members (excluding the priesthood).  In short, I’m not sure if any of it is true, and I know there are vulnerabilities commonly found in seekers which are being played upon (notably, in Buddhism, the experience of psychic pain and the drive to death [thanatos — it’s a Freudian idea]).

I’m not sure I’ve seen the latter actually explained outright anywhere in relation to the desire for nirvana and cessation of rebirth; but I know that for me it has been an issue.  Buddhism was one of the things which kept me alive when I was going through a fairly relevant depressive phase, to the point where I realized that if Shakyamuni had ever actually existed, he was probably a depressive who lived before we had a term for it.

And…I have wandered far away from what started this post.  The question is whether to continue with this line of study, or drop it and find something else.

I am thinking that if, every day, I practiced guitar for at least half an hour, I would become fairly good at it, after a while.  This is, as versus my art.  I have to do enough reading as it is, but I could get back into that (reading for pleasure), as well.

Art is one of those things which I know I was praised for, very early on.  I know it’s something I’m relatively talented at.  But without a clear subject, it’s tough for me to get into; this being why I was prolific in the Art program at my Community College, but which I have trailed away from without the outside support and prompting.  I’m fairly certain that if I did get back into Creative Writing, this would in fact give me things to draw.

Of course, that’s Illustration, there — which is actually the drive which caused me to come back and try the Art program again in the first place.  When I first came back, I didn’t even know if I liked drawing, to be honest.  Things had just gotten really dull for me, where it came to image-making.  I remembered that I had originally liked to do it (when I was making a story with pictures [could you call that a comic?], as a kid), and I remembered that drawing the same thing over and over again — as I did as an adult — wasn’t worth it.  I’d get bored.

I re-entered with the hope that instruction and refreshed subject matter would help me see if writing and illustrating my own Graphic Novel was even something I would enjoy; and if not, I could just trash the whole Graphic Novel idea and work on pure writing, instead.

What I can say is that Art is difficult.  There hasn’t been a time for me when it hasn’t been difficult, except when I was a kid and didn’t care at all whether things looked wonky to other people.

And then, Writing…writing, writ large, 😉 isn’t hard for me.  Fiction Writing, though…is just psychologically difficult.  I have a habit of not being able to clearly tell the story I’m writing, apart from reality.  But through the Art program, one of the things I realized is that Art is not a representation of reality.  Photography isn’t a representation of reality.  Fiction writing, is not a representation of reality.  Neither is television, nor movies.

Verisimilitude to reality is used to a greater or lesser extent to provide familiarity and context to a story or message…to be honest, I’m not entirely certain what I or we are trying to get across in a way of thinking about the Humanities in terms of content as versus form.  The one thing I am certain about is that when one is within a story, that story is constructed around you, to a certain extent for you (and to a certain extent, by you).  For what purpose?  …I’m not entirely sure.  If you have thoughts on this, I’d love to hear them in the comments.

In any case, thinking back on it…it does seem, now that I think of it, that I’ve found expression through writing and art, and now am re-trying music.  Music is interesting, though I’m so new to it that I’m not entirely sure I can say why.  Certainly there’s a rhythmic component, and the emotional states elicited by certain tones being played next to each other and harmonizing (or not).  Then, of course, being a time-related thing, it is also — like writing — linear in format.

Tonight I was just having fun with arpeggiating guitar chords — particularly, starting with the F-major that’s closest to the top of the neck.  I think I could, eventually, make a habit of writing my own music; the question arises of if it is what I want to do, though.  Do I want to write?  Draw?  Paint?  Play music?  Make beaded jewelry?  It’s fairly obvious that writing is part of my lifeblood — I don’t feel right when I don’t do it.

I miss my beads.  I stopped my practice and working on new designs when I realized that this was not something that I could rely on to pay any bills (except maybe a blog bill for a nice layout here, if I started on Etsy); but it is what got me into Painting (which enables much more subtle custom color adjustments).  There is a lot of work which goes into designing and constructing beaded jewelry which has to do with light and color…it may be playing with my tendency to engineer from prefabricated parts, as well.

(Two of my most favorite toys from when I was a kid were my Erector set, and a circuit board D got me for Christmas, one year…)

And, hey…I just realized the linear component to that, as well…it’s just that with what I do, there is the mode of interweaving that can be realized, as well as anchoring and knotting.

Interesting…but I think I should get some sleep, right now!  Heh!  If anyone has anything to say about the content we try to get across in the Arts & Humanities, I’m more than listening…

Alternate paths…? Trying to get back into reading fiction and lit. crit.

(lit crit = literary criticism)

New developments:  I am considering what to do if I cannot hang in with the Master’s program.  It would have been fine, we were right on schedule, then…1/3 of our group paper is not submitted.  None of us realize it until after evaluation.  This is in the class where one has to get a B or above to stay in the program.

This introduces the issue of what if I get a B- or below this semester, and what happens if the same thing happens next semester.  I will not be able to stay in the program, in that case.  Then, I will of necessity have to figure out what to do as a career, unless I really want to try my hand at a different Library program.  Given, though, that I’m more interested in Information Science…things can be done with that which don’t require an ALA-approved program.

My top career choice, outside of Libraries, and with no more schooling required, is Publishing.  This is what my undergraduate training prepared me for; however, I have no experience in Publishing, as I didn’t take an internship during college, as I couldn’t drive.

Speaking of which, we’re moving forward on the latter point, now.  I am somewhat relieved, although I don’t know what the point was of waiting until the rainy season started to begin training.

Anyway, I’ve found through my work in the Library Science program that I do actually still like to read, and two of the easiest and more enjoyable tasks (for me) in this program are writing and editing.  I was told at University that Editing isn’t really a creative job, which at the time was something to turn me off of it.  However, it appears that outside of media and technology (particularly animation and video games)…I can’t say my impression is that creativity is highly valued in this country.

Sure, we have a lot of creative products (particularly in music), but are their creators being fairly compensated?  It’s something I haven’t researched, yet; but I know that far more manuscripts are written than published.  This pattern (from what I hear, having to fight to get paid) may be peculiar to the literary arts.

Still; especially from the days when I was looking at the possibility of going into Graphic Design…there were a lot of people who wanted designers to work for them for no pay, which is unreasonable considering that, at least in the U.S., we live in a capitalist society and need money to continue to subsist (or to get back to subsistence).

It’s the reason I don’t play an instrument at the moment:  what could I do with that, other than play music on the street and wait for donations?  If I thought it wouldn’t be a waste of time, I’d be playing classical guitar.  But it’s a lot of effort — and a time commitment — for perhaps negative payoff, in my case.  The upshot is that music is one of those things which is directly calming when I’m in an episode.  The downshot is, well, time lost:  and a lot of it.

It has been a while since I read for enjoyment.  I find myself wanting to read more, particularly where it comes to literature, literary criticism, and science fiction.  I don’t have a really strong background in fiction reading…or so it would seem.  Since I graduated, I’ve been largely staying away from fiction.  Reason(s)?  Many.

Case in point:  I picked up a book which I hoped would be on writing, today, that ended up being about Christianity and being a, “servant to the word.”  I don’t need this.  I wanted a book giving insight into writing, not insight into Ezekiel.  For that one particular writer, I’m sure Christianity very much informs her process; but I kind of don’t want to take on her mindset to be able to understand what she’s saying, because I know that mindset to be directly harmful to me.  I don’t want to sit through a sermon which is posing as a work on fiction writing.

I wonder if I was triggered?

Things like this — which have been extremely common in my literary experience — have, in the past, driven me away from the entire fiction medium.  What this does say, though, is that when I read things that other people have written…if there is something lacking or missing (and there is a LOT that is missing; to the point that I’ve just wanted to give up on literature), I can add it in my own contribution, and the relative uniqueness of my view will likely be a selling point.  But that won’t happen if I let a glut of religious Christian writers represent all of English fiction writing for me.

I think I have said it before:  my experience in the English program made me want to stop reading and writing.  The Writing-program side of it was relatively good; but not the English-program side.  The latter was where I ran into a Professor who said I couldn’t call people who owned African slaves “racist,” if they existed before the term was coined (SERIOUSLY???); and another Professor who inferred in front of the class that I was “Godless,” because I objected when she wouldn’t stop talking about her God in class.  Every.  Class.  About.  Her God.  (Her God is not my God.)

English class is not about religion.  I don’t know how many people think it is or should be, but in a publicly-funded institution, it is really irritating when you find yourself in a sermon that you didn’t expect and didn’t ask for and don’t want, and you PAID for this, AND it’s triggering you because you’re a minority, AND you get straw-manned when you object, AND your Professor probably thinks she’s doing something good by subjecting you to this, AND you have to drop her class to escape it.

Yeah, I was having problems back then, but this stuff didn’t help.

Anyhow.  I’ll try and read, more.  Maybe the science-fiction genre will have less of this…