The Star

The figure on this card is a woman simultaneously walking through a living earthly field of humanity at night and yet hanging suspended over it in crucifixion, a Mary-el feminine savior figure. This card is about the “black spot of death” that was there already at birth. Ultimate growth is into the death of the ego, and that death gives rise to the True Self. The woman wears a garment with a six-pointed star centered over her womb, potential. Six is another multiple of 3, which dominates this whole reading. What has been built on and of earth must pass through these three: Devil, Death, and the Tower. At least, if enlightenment is to be reached: “The ego, the conscious idea of self, riddled with mistakes, regrets, illusions, delusions, untruths as well as truths, ideas, illusions of separateness, illusions of needs or instincts, of human life, they are all blown away. The earth is blown away. The lie is exposed. And when that shell falls, when you find you cannot stand on that lie anymore, and you fall through the illusions that is self and life on earth and everything you know or knew begins to vanish and disappear, all will become black and empty and, then, alone will be a single light. That is the truth. That is home. It is one. It is the Star. In the blackness that was the Tower, the Star will guide you home.” (Marie White, p. 56)

The Star arises for the multitudes of humanity. If I stand by and up for the truth, no matter how hard doing so may be, and no matter how brutally alone and crucified I am for doing so, grace will come. Grace will come. This star, like the others, encodes life-death-rebirth cycles, earth-heaven-earth cycles. This reading of an underlying holographic matrix is perchance the exposure of the chief lie.

In Buddhism, some old versions of the Bardo Thodol, also known as The Tibetan Book of the Dead, contain a hexagram with a Swastika inside. In Tibetan, it is called the “origin of phenomenon” (chos-kyi ‘byung-gnas). It is especially connected with Vajrayogini, and forms the center part of her mandala. In reality, it is in three dimensions, not two, although it may be portrayed either way. Many Western occultists associate this central chakra [the heart center] with the central sephirah, Tiphereth, in the kabbalistic tree of life. Christian kabbalists in particular associate this sephirah with love, healing, and knowledge.”

This card is from my personal Tarot, the Mary-el Tarot by Marie White. Feast your eyes on her amazing art here:

The Elephant Path: Not for Samatha Only

This is fouth-century Yogācāra founder Asaṅga’s nine-stage map for attaining meditative equipoise. Yes, that’s right: this cryptic pictogram is a map. The progress is often said to be samatha only and to exclude liberating insight and jhanas alike.

It ain’t so. More to come on this topic in an eventual book.

The Scorpion and the Frog: A Fable

Jonathan Blumen (1995), writes as follows:

“Gandhi succeeded in his variation on the prisoner’s dilemma because the British were not willing to resort to the ultimate defection. A player, like the Nazis, willing to stop at nothing, creates an illogical loop much like the one that results when two players play a series for a known number of moves. Since, on the last move, the future has no shadow, I might as well defect. Since the other player will certainly be smart enough to defect on that move as well, I may as well defect on the move before, when he may still be cooperating. But, since he is smart enough to reason this through the way I did, he will probably defect on that move too. So again I will consider defecting a move earlier. But so will he. The result: we both defect on the first move and each move afterwards. Because the scorpion will kill you as soon as it is given a chance, you must find a way to defect earlier than the scorpion, and decisively. But the scorpion will study the situation, looking for a way to defect earlier than you can; so you must assume he will do so, and seek to defect earlier still. Like gunfighters in a Western movie who run down the street at each other, howling and shooting as soon as they catch sight of each other, the prisoner’s dilemma escalates into an immediate duel to the death. The concept of a pre-emptive strike expresses nothing other than a strategy based on defecting early and decisively. Tarquinian’s symbolic cutting of the tops from the tallest flowers, or the massacre of opponents after any coup d’etat in history, are other examples.

“It is the scorpion that pulls humanity down. If you are not yourself a scorpion, you still are unable to play every move of every game in the cooperation zone, because sooner or later you will meet a scorpion. Not every scorpion is a suicide bomber; the law partner who made a successful motion to cut my draw, forcing my resignation from a law firm, suffered the symbolic fate of the scorpion when the firm’s biggest client (the one I alone knew how to service) left as a result, and the firm folded. Yeats’ judgment that “things fall apart, the center cannot hold”, because “the worst are full of passionate intensity” is a recognition of the fact that there are scorpions.

“Scorpions may know the consequences, and not care, like the suicide bomber, or may, through vanity and denial, refuse to see the consequences, like my ex-partner. In any event, the effect is the same: a player defects when there is no reason to, and something–a life, an enterprise–ends as a result.

“Game theory does not really take scorpions into account. It holds that people will defect because that is in their best interest–because the future has no shadow. Game theory fails as a tool when we are dealing with sociopathology or extreme denial. The human dilemma is that all progress ultimately fails or at least slides back, that anything once proven must be proven again a myriad of times, that there is nothing so well established that a fundamentalist (of any religion or stripe) cannot be found to deny it, and suffer the consequences, and then deny that he suffered the consequences.”

Sweet Retreat

One of many sweet moments on retreat. Some of us went to a coffeehouse during lunch break. This coffee has vanilla, ginger, and black salt. Yum! The wonderful people who go on these retreats are forming a local sangha to meet once a month. New dharma friends! Homeless no more! The Theravadins can keep their ridiculous retreat hours, semi-fasting,, and noble silence. This is the way to do a retreat, American style!