Mysticism II

butterfly-effectThe Butterfly Effect refers implicitly to chaos theory, although the phrase has become a popular metaphor. Basically, chaos theory states that small perturbations, such as a butterfly flapping its wings, can produce a significantly larger effect somewhere down the linear road of time.

While there may be no discernible patterns in a chaotic system, scientists have been able to squeeze predictions from chaos by using machine-learning algorithms, a “field of study that gives computers the ability to learn without having been explicitly programmed,” i.e. artificial intelligence. The term machine learning was coined in 1959 by one of the pioneers in artificial intelligence, Arthur Samuel.

“It is not the world that is mysterious. Rather it is the way we view it that makes it mysterious,” is a quote from George Sugihara, a theoretical biologist who has applied machine learning to the chaotic behavior of financial markets. You could call Sugihara a secular (non-religious) mystic like Edgar Cayce and many others. A mystic is someone who practices the apprehension of truth beyond the intellect, e.g. a psychic or shaman.

As I noted in the previous blog, the West never developed a strong tradition of mysticism because the Church lassoed the practice and branded it with a narrow, self-serving definition. Anything outside that definition was heresy. In religious-speak, mysticism meant “becoming holy” or attaining “Divine union,” which were the only acceptable means of predicting the future (divination, prophecy). That’s why religion has always frowned on fortune-telling, tarot and other avenues of divination as “work of the devil,” a thoroughly medieval and preposterously childish notion.

roads

To paraphrase Doc Brown’s famous quip in Back to the Future, “Where mystics go, we don’t need roads.” All information about the future now present in any chaotic system, such as our universe, is also available to the human mind’s own algorithm (Third Eye), although machine learning may be more efficient. That’s because most human minds are laced with biases, hopes, illusions, fears and dogmas that interfere with logic, reason and clear thinking. However, we humans are better than machines at complex pattern recognition, which fuels our unique intuition and perspicacity.

The human mind’s algorithm is capable of predicting chaos well into the future (clairvoyance). Although we might still think mostly in terms of classical causation (A→B→C), causation in the quantum world is often an illusion. We live in an indeterminate universe – some stuff just happens. While mystics can clearly discern future eventualities, and even prophecize them, the precise when of such events cannot be known. There are far too many variables, such as human free will. Yet mystics do perceive things others fail to see.

C58If you insist that you live in a deterministic universe and that someone somewhere up in the sky is pulling all the strings, you may be in for a rude awakening. Your worldview of a clockwork universe will need to shift dramatically if you are to gain any hope whatsoever of coping with the enormous changes that lie in the offing.

The gentleman at the left is Aeolus, master of the Four Winds, which symbolize the future. We placed him on the  Chrysalis Tarot companion book cover to underscore the necessity for perseverance during difficult times, especially times of change, the most difficult of all.

A helpful book is Path of the Novice Mystic, by Paul Dunion. Its theme is secular mysticism. Anyone can become a mystic, and should.

© Toney Brooks

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Mysticism I

002-felicien-rops-the temptation of st anthony

I thought I’d begin a series of blogs about mysticism since the subject is vitally important to understanding almost all areas of anomalous psychology, which we often term the paranormal. It’s been a subject of great interest to me personally for many, many years.

First a word about the painting. It’s titled Temptation of St. Anthony by Felicien Rops (1878). I feature it in this opening piece about mysticism because of its archetypal significance to tarot. It invites contemplation. Let us consider this painting an exemplar of the archetype of repression, the primary mechanism the ego uses to ward off danger. The woman who has replaced Christ on the cross symbolizes the nature of Anthony’s temptation, which horrifies him. The pig, by the way, is one of St. Anthony’s attributes, his totem or spirit animal.

I should also mention that this particular St. Anthony is St. Anthony the Abbot, the Father of Monasticism. If you studied theology, you remember him as one of the Desert Fathers and Mothers, the ascetic monks and hermits who lived in the Egyptian desert in the third and fourth centuries. That’s significant because all mystics are necessarily reclusive, albeit these days not to such extreme degrees. All tarot enthusiasts are either mystics in some stage of spiritual development or frauds.

After Christianity hitched its wagon to Greek philosophy, it was never able to develop a strong tradition of mysticism – a dialog with the Otherworld. That’s because the word theoria in Greek means contemplation (meditation), a subjective process, whereas in the West the concept morphed into theory, something objective to be analyzed, measured and defined.

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Chrysalis Tarot art by Holly Sierra.

Inspiration we receive from the Otherworld, and tarot, should be contemplated. This may be why tarot shares far more in common with feathery Eastern thought and shamanic philosophies (Celtic, African, First Nations) than with weighty dogmatic monotheism.

One of Chrysalis’ built-in goals is to assist you in raising repressed and suppressed fears and memories into consciousness. In other words, Jungian shadow work. Becoming self-aware of your unconscious mind, by definition, will raise all kinds of flotsam and jetsam to consciousness. This act of will alone removes 99% of mind-clutter that skews effective communication with the Otherworld.

Rops penned these words about his painting, “Jupiter and Jesus did not carry off eternal Wisdom, nor Venus and Mary eternal Beauty! Even if the Gods are gone, Woman remains. The love of Woman remains and with it the abounding love of Life.”

© Toney Brooks