Buddhism: Reflections on reciting Chakrasamvara mantra 50K Times as part of Ngöndro practice.

There are a couple of prefaces I feel like I should give as someone engaging in a Vajrayana practice. First, I am not a monk (surprise!). This means that I am not as well-focused as a Buddhist monk might be. Although I’ve been relatively good, I don’t always have time or mental space to engage in my practice as well as I should. Of course, this is related to being human!

Second, I am a Westerner who was not raised in a Buddhist tradition. I have practiced inconsistently, and only formally took refuge in a sangha this year—and from afar at that. Nonetheless, I have had good support and many good online resources. Yet I am also a bit of a “mad spiritualist” who has both taken up a Kagyu Buddhist practice on top of an Enochian practice.

Those nuances having been laid out, a bit of background about Ngöndro practice. It is considered a preliminary practice to the generation and completion phases of Vajrayana practices. The key to Ngöndro, I have found, is sustained propagation and emanation of love toward all sentient beings. Bodhicitta is considered the highest form of this love, and comes in relative and absolute forms. Essentially, on the one hand, one wishes for all sentient beings to realize Buddhahood (relative bodhicitta), and on the other hand, one also recognizes the inherent emptiness of all phenomena (absolute bodhicitta). Note that both forms are required for a wholistic view of bodhicitta. Without relative bodhicitta, one can easily lapse into nihilism. Without absolute bodhicitta, there is little hope of making progress: to some degree, things would just be as they are and the ability to actually realize Buddhahood would be limited due to some essential quality of fixity that could never be changed (this gets into the larger idea of all of reality having Buddha nature).

Incorporating bodhicitta into the Ngöndro path is vital. In practice this means I do not count progress towards reciting a mantra if I have not held bodhicitta towards all sentient beings while doing so. The practice I do is visualizing myself as the yidam Chakrasamvara in union with His dakini consort Vajravarahi as I recite his mantra.

The effects of this are what one would expect: working on the subtle body system and energetic changes. I’ll add that my path has surely not followed a “protocol,” but rather has mutated in interesting ways. Vajravarahi has joined with three other beings: Tara as well as the Enochian entities of the Daughter of Fortitude (or Babalon, if you prefer Crowley’s name), who is associated with the Aethyr of ZIP, and Galvah, identified with the “Mother in Heaven” by Aaron Leitch. At each of the four directions (and for each of the four faces/elements of Chakrasamvara) they unite with me in this visualization. I have also had a personal spirit consort who has arisen and taken her place at various directions but has settled within my torso (for now), enmeshing her heart with mine for further subtle body work.

It has been just under a year since I received the empowerment to begin practice and began doing so. I cannot pretend that things have gone entirely smoothly, and indeed during this past year it has been a rollercoaster across different dimensions of my life (for example, a close relative started treatment for cancer just before I took the empowerment). This, in turn, has made practice more difficult. Nonetheless, returning to the practice again and again has been helpful each time, and I intend to take less time than a year to finish the second half of the 100K mantra recitations, and then to move on to 100K prostrations.

Other effects of the Ngöndro practice are an easier time incorporating the sense of the clear light mind/dharmakaya, as well as not noticing any conflict between this practice and Enochian (if anything, they sort of complement each other well in my view, and the entities seem to understand each other and why, in my case, I use both). Beyond that, I don’t have a good conclusion, since nothing has been concluded, so I will simply sign off for now with the intent of giving more updates as they are relevant.

Bridging Buddhism and Enochian, Part 6: Considering the Pure Lands

Before I get into my analysis of the Pure Lands, let me note how this is related to Enochian in my mind. Mainly, the concept of Pure Lands remind me of the Enochian word pibliar, which means “places of comfort.” Pibliar itself is striking to me, for why have such a different word for heaven, unless it is not about heaven? Pibliar appears in the seventh spoken Enochian call, the translation of which is quite lovely:

“The east is a house of virgins singing praises amongst the flames of the First Glory; wherein the Lord hath opened His Mouth, and they become 28 living dwellings in whom the strength of men rejoiceth and they are appareled with ornaments of brightness such as work wonders on all creatures. Whose kingdoms and continuance are as the Third and Fourth; strong towers and places of comfort, the seats of mercy and continuance. O you servants of mercy, move, appear, sing praises unto the Creator, and be mighty amongst us. For to this remembrance is given power and our strength waxeth strong in our Comforter.”

I’ll digress to note the here the astrological, kabbalistic, and numerological implications: there’s a clear reference to the 28 lunar mansions (“28 living dwellings…appareled with ornaments of brightness [stars]”), and the implication of the moon (“waxeth”). The ordering of the dyads would suggest that the Third or the number 3 relates to strong towers, a seat of mercy, while the Fourth or the number 4 suggests places of comfort and a seat of continuance–but a clear reading of the text suggests a switch of significations, which should instead be as follows: 3, strong towers, a seat of continuance; and 4, places of comfort, seat of mercy. This corresponds well with 3 as Binah/Understanding and 4/Chesed/Mercy.

As I mentioned: I digress. To the analysis: in Buddhism, pure lands or buddha-fields are reminiscent of an actual location or place. Indeed, the Buddha Amitabha’s pure land of Sukhavati is described as millions of Buddha lands to the west, whereas other Buddhas’ pure lands also have directions: Aksobhya’s pure land of Abhirati to the east, Ratnasambhava’s pure land of Srimat to the south, and Amoghasiddhi’s pure land of Karmaprasiddhi/Prakuta of the north. Vairocana hosts Akanistha-Ghanavyuha. Note that “millions of Buddha lands to the west” (I’ve read in some sources “west of earth”) suggests a continuum of what is extruded out–presumably from Earth–and that this itself is reminiscent of both the celestial sphere of astrology, but also the Sambhogakaya or “body of enjoyment.”

Thus, we have the Earth (or other physical worlds) as the place of the actual bodies of Buddhas, or Nirmanakayas, the extrusion or reflection of these into Sambhogakayas and perhaps a similar extrusion of pure lands (which resemble metaphorical “fixed stars” mentioned by my friend Cody P.), and finally a Dharmakaya, which is an inconceivable aspect of being a Buddha. This makes the physical world very important, for we have a means of experiencing or even integrating all pure lands at once. To that end, as practitioners, it may be worthwhile to not only attempt to travel or project astrally to a pure land, but also to consider using the technique (from what I loosely “Hermetic Kabbalah”) of pathworking (i.e., finding paths from one Pure Land to another). The latter will likely help the seeker discover more about their own particular set of “fixed stars” which could guide and inform the particular Sambhogakaya they can develop.

Relating the Dharmakaya to Enochian, it reminds me of the phrase from Hermeticism (specifically Book of the 24 Philosophers) which I found referenced here: “God is an infinite sphere, the center of which is everywhere, the circumference nowhere.” To that I’ll add that for me, the Divine must also have the Buddha nature.

Bridging Buddhism and Enochian, Part 5: The Matter of Error

There’s a lot of unspoken tropes in culture in the U.S. (where I live), but they are apparent with even the simplest of analysis. Good vs. Evil, right vs. wrong, inclusion vs. exclusion, collective vs. the individual. Americans tend to polarize these into simplistic terms, and one must remember that we have sophisticated minds which can interpret these along a continuum. Nonetheless, so much hinges on correct understanding of the terms, or we may find our narratives lost; finding this correct understanding, we can begin to operate from Wisdom.

I’ve been binging and re-binging Buddhist lectures and trying to make sense of what I learn. One term that I wanted to linger on for this post was the concept of “wrong view.” It’s a term that is used in Buddhism to suggest that, “Hey, your perspective here is what’s going to cause problems,” and these problems include how one lives one’s life, how well one will progress in one’s practice, and the like. That word “wrong” doesn’t carry with it moral implications in the sense of a root evil. Instead, it’s simply not correct: a mistake.

I’ve been reflecting about how Christianity hinges on sin, which is so intimately connected in Christian thinking to evil. Really, I’ve come to think of this view as mistaken. Sin really means “mistake.” We all make mistakes, and usually it’s some incorrect perspective that has caused us to make mistakes. Of course, sometimes these mistakes will work against our own best interests, or against animals, or against another person, or against nature.

At the same time, it’s important to realize that mistakes are part of ourselves, part of nature, part of our orientation towards others. For this reason, mistakenness and sin are normal. We live with a steady difference between who we are and what we do in the moment compared to who we realize ourselves to be later. This difference, and the discovery of our mistakes, is part of life. I do not consider this to be evil at all. It is actually quite good, for it allows growth. I also consider this tendency to be part of the Divine; it is this Heart which is reflected out, so that the Divine may grow, also. So, we should accept and welcome our failings, while of course steadily working and probing ways to rectify, within ourselves and with each other, to allow for better growth with time.

Once this attitude shift takes place, Christianity and Buddhism will be speaking much more of the same language.

Bridging Buddhism and Enochian, Part 4: Termas, Dakini Script, and the Enochian language

So far I’ve noted some interesting means to bridge Buddhism and Enochian, specifically pathworking with Pure Land Buddhism. Here, I wanted to mention some similarities between Enochian and termas (the hidden treasures left by Guru Rinpoche). Much of what I’ll get into on the Buddhist side is taken from this excellent summary by Adele Tomlin.

Enochian has many aspects, but two of the most notable are an alphabet which corresponds more or less directly with the English (Latin) alphabet (some Enochian letters correspond to more than one English letter). Furthermore, this alphabet is used in an encoded manner: tables of letters were transmitted to Dee & Kelley, and these are rearranged into the manner that they are to be used magically, through which the magician receives divine knowledge. Indeed, the Enochian language is to be spoken through 49 “keys,” which are specific calls through which this knowledge is unlocked.

The summary of termas and dakini script, mentions that this script, which corresponds with Tibetan letters, is used as a key to unlock a much larger treasure of wisdom which was hidden by Guru Rinpoche. The formula is nearly identical.

Is this a perfect crossover? Not necessarily, but the parallels continue to mount in my mind, such as, to mention offhandedly, the 49 days of the death bardo paralleling the many 49’s appearing in Enochian.

Bridging Buddhism & Enochian, Part 3: Applying Western Pathworking Concepts to Pure Land Buddhism.

In studying the Buddhist pure lands, it occurred to me that the Diamond Realm, which contains five such lands, contains a mapping of elements to directions, much as Enochian is mapped onto directions by elements. The associations are different: Enochian has fire-east, air-south, water-west, earth-north, while Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism have fire-west, air-north, water-east, earth-south–a 180-degree rotation.

Enochian’s Watchtower tablets have been largely interpreted in a framework provided by the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, which is to say, the four elemental tablets are considered to be further divided into sub-angles. Thus, for the fire tablet, one is left with angels derived from “fire of fire,” “air of fire,” “earth of fire” and “water of fire.” Applying this approach to the Pure Lands of Buddhism, one could create a network of paths between each. One could traverse northeast from Amitabha Buddha‘s western pure land of Sukhavati via a path located in the northwest of the Diamond Realm to reach Amoghasiddhi’s northern pure land of Karmaprasiddhi/Prakuṭā. Furthermore, considering this realm in three-dimensional space, it’s possible to have direct east-west and north-south routes which do not pass through Vairocana’s central pure land of Akaniṣṭha-Ghanavyūha.

What of other pure lands, such as Vaidūryanirbhāsa (“Pure Lapis Lazuli”) of the Buddha Bhaisajyaguru, located in the east? It’s possible to, of course, have a land to the east of the Diamond Realm itself, or above or below (or even in superposition with) the eastern Diamond Realm pure land of Abhirati. The nature of a path connecting these two is unclear, though it’s noteworthy that the eastern nature of both pure lands indicate some form of escape from sickness (via healing of body and mind from the teachings of Bhaisajyaguru and presumably at least as much in His Pure Land, and via sickness not existing at all in Abhirati). Regardless, there are other pure lands which do not appear to be so elemental in nature, and paths connecting these each other would also need to be discovered.

The linking via paths could also presumably be used to understand additional bases for potential pure lands. Further, the qualities related to the pure lands (such as those of the Diamond Realm) could be a means to travel from one to another. For example, the perception of mental formation could be the Western part of the Northern pure land of Karmaprasiddhi/Prakuṭā (link is in Spanish), while the mental formations of perception could be the Northern part of the Western pure land of Sukhavati.

Presumably; one could traverse from one pure land to another during meditation the same way one gets to Carnegie Hall. But such paths must, of course, be verified to exist via actual pathworking.

Bridging Buddhism & Enochian, Part 2

The next step I’ve taken in bridging Buddhism & Enochian is taking an empowerment from a Kagyu lineage and starting some Ngöndro. Essentially (if you can’t tell from my profusion of blog posts!). As I’ve written previously, I think there’s a dimensionality (circles about the xy-, yz-, and xz- axes) to the practitioner’s experience with Enochian and Buddhism.

There’s not much else to this update other than to say, this practice takes a while: in addition to mantra recitations there are prostrations and several other tasks. I’m like to do things fast but understand that this can’t be done in a day. The main thing I’ve noticed with this is another level of subtle body changes: it seems like there’s no end to the depths of subtlety to the subtle body!

I don’t see much of a contradiction between practicing Enochian and Buddhism–but then, I’m flexible with my paradigms! To me, Buddhism’s concept of “form is emptiness, emptiness is form” allows for the use of alternative paradigms, including one of Christian magic. The idea of an omnipresent, omnipotent, and omniscient God interpenetrating all of reality is basically the ultimate in form, whereas Buddhism is of course the ultimate in formlessness.

I’ll keep you updated!

Bridging Enochian & Buddhism, Part 1

I’ve posted earlier that I believe Enochian can be used in conjunction, or perhaps even as a bridge to, Buddhism. This is a tricky idea that I’m not entirely ready to elaborate on yet, but I wanted to post about some of the visionary work I did in hypnagogia tonight.

The background is a health concern that isn’t yet over, as well as wondering about the spiritual progress I’ve made since finishing my first Excel version of Liber Loagaeth (note: I’ve also been exploring Buddhist mantras to Vajrakilaya, Padmasambhava, Yeshe Tsogyal, Mandarava, Amitabha, and Vairocana). As I was thinking about this, I tried to explore the culmination of gebofal, Day 49. I induced the energetic memory of that day, recalling the isomorphic divinity I felt with the universe.

It occurred to me that this isomorphic divinity must overlap with that of the aforementioned Buddhas (and yidam) must be included in this, and so I picked up on Padmasambhava’s energy and noted a line of sight which he was looking at. I noted that Yeshe Tsogyal was looking there, too, as were the others. I tried to use their gaze to see the common point, then saw a brilliant light and approached it. Interestingly, as soon as I began doing so, an interesting jeweled being, somewhat mechanical in look with four golden arms resembling a spider’s legs and a beautiful golden oval thorax with a gem taking up more than half its size in the middle, emerged from this light. It wasn’t hostile, yet at the same time, it seemed to be blocking me.

I did a gentle twist in midair and evaded the being, and went into this light. It was soft, and I was reminded of an admonishment I’d read online very recently from a Tibetan Buddhist teacher about avoiding the soft light and instead trying to find the dazzling light. Doing so, I passed through into a space in which all of reality seemed to buzz in and out of infinite heartspace. This, it seemed, was the clear light mind—not merely data emerging from an infinite possibility, but an infinite multiplex cord of all hearts, humming.

Here was the view of all of reality, seething and reckoning with its many possibilities, in anguish. Here the heart had to reckon with itself in its infinite varieties, and it was too much to be clear, and so it hurt.

I saw myself open my own heart to it all, an infinite gesture of compassion, and I found the view toward it all that I’d been aching for.

And now there are lifetimes more to express it.

Q&A #1: Answer

One reader asks: “I’m seeing a lot of concepts, including the Enochian alphabet, being used non-paradigmatically or in other paradigms entirely. What aspects of Enochian do you feel can be incorporated successfully without adopting an Enochian paradigm? Is full initiation required to successfully adopt these techniques?”

This is a great question, and I’m grateful for it.

I’ll start off by saying no, I don’t think you need full initiation into Enochian in order to practice it (I myself have not been initiated into Enochian via an order, but have only learned how to do it from books and online resources). I do think that in general the concern to have respect for any tradition is important (at the same time it’s not a good idea to infer someone else’s respect or lack thereof!). Let’s start with the background of Enochian and then the angels themselves. Dee was a Christian but also a humanist, and while the angelic transmission–often in apocalyptic imagery–at the time came through in an apocalyptic cultural context, Jason Louv comments that this can be understood in either an exoteric and esoteric sense.

Regarding the use of Enochian in other paradigms, it’s clear in the original transmission that the angels fundamentally want us to simply love each other, and so as long as that is fulfilled, the exact way that happens is less important to them. My main focus has been to uphold that second-greatest commandment, and thereby help uphold the greatest, and so I have been working with Enochian with an eye toward linking it with Buddhism. I see no contradiction between the two systems. This has been my focus because Buddhism has struck me as having the most appropriate and loving orientation toward our fellow beings. That is to say, Buddhism, when performed well, orients the believer whole-heartedly towards love than other systems I’ve come across. Furthermore, the same kind of ego-undoing that happens with Enochian also happens with many of the intermediate Buddhist teachings and practices I’ve been exposed to. Finally, different schools of Buddhism emphasize different means to realizing Buddhahood, including deity work, and the Enochian angels haven’t scolded or directed me away from adopting Buddhist practices or work with such deities. For these reasons, I see them as largely congruent.

Nonetheless, I think different traditions will work less well with Enochian due to how closely they do or do not abide by this view to love each other. Thelema is probably one of the better ones; as a religious edict, it can be (over)simplified with the familiar Law: “Do What Thou Wilt shall be the whole of the Law. Love is the Law, Love under Will.” These two short sentences reflect a deceptively simple idea of the True Will, that I consider orthogonal to the commandment-style, OCD-righteousness. There are billions of different ways to go through your day and keep all of the rigorous commandments of the Bible, but following Thelema as a Law, you would simply choose the path that also reflects your True Will. In other words, Thelema isn’t necessarily in contradiction with other religious tenets (i.e., if it’s your Will to be a strictly observant member of another religion, you may do that and also anything else that encompasses your True Will). Thelema puts “Love under Will,” which is a phrase with frustrating multiple meanings; does it mean under as in “secondary,” “subservient,” or “foundational”? Regardless, Love is clearly integral to the True Will. In this way, I’d say Thelema could use Enochian well.

What wouldn’t work well? Systems or individuals that have selfishness (sorry, Objectivism!) or cruelty as central to their tenets, or parochial rather than universal views (though there’s nothing wrong with acting locally, as long as you’re also thinking globally). I would also say that saying an Enochian-language prayer to an anti-angelic entity is an altogether bad idea. I’d advise the reader to reflect on the Bible verses of “Lord, who is my neighbor?” and “Love thy enemy” as well as the Eight Verses of Training the Mind by Langri Thangpa (note: all of this must be done without self-hatred).

Working backward to the original question, how to use Enochian respectfully is important. It probably is okay to use Enochian in cultural works, but it’s important to be careful: this is powerful stuff. Having a good deal of humility and care is ideal for any magical working (but especially for Enochian!), so accept beforehand that you can and will make mistakes. However, it’s my view that you can probably speak Enochian to, say, a Hindu or Greek deity (such as what you would see in a Chaos Magick approach), since–in my view–all beings are are enfolded with the Divine as a whole, and deities in some ways are higher than humans in the chain of being. Enochian angels simply seem powerfully tied in to the Divine and much closer to the universal divine consciousness and Buddha nature. I would also say that using the Holy Table and SDA in the manner that Scott Stenwick suggests is largely a good one (but I haven’t done every kind of experiment he has posted on, so your experience may vary). You can also experiment, but be sure to really ask yourself if your use of Enochian is following that main spirit of love that the angels themselves prescribed. If so, then that’s fine.

Using Energy in Spiritual Development

One of the boons I’ve been blessed with after working the gebofal(-like) ritual is an energetic awareness of what I’m calling “Day 49” energy. Essentially I perceive this as a “vertical” energy which links me with my holographic identity, extending to and including the part of myself which is divine. In particular, it’s an awareness of the link or concentricity of my own heart with the Divine Heart of the cosmos, and this produces the vertical energy feeling.

Of late, I’ve been trying to induce this energy (I can’t really explain it better than that) and combine it with the clear mind of Buddhism, which I tend to perceive as more horizontal (and have experienced glimpses of during meditation). I try to keep this combination going as I go through my day (if I can) in the midst of whatever else is going on. Needless to say, there’s a lot of concentration involved in this. I consider this to be advanced energy work.

Earlier in my magical days, I would try to combine my knowledge of the astral with the subtle body sensations in order to produce magical effects. This could involve imagining an outcome (better to go for the spirit than the form of the outcome, I’ve learned!) and imagining a swirl or vortex of energy feeding into the vision, which in turn enhanced the vision. Note that this could very well be inducing or a felt sense of energy–or pretending to feel it–rather than an actual imaging (this is an alternative for people who have aphantasia). Another possibility is using a similar imaginal or sensorial technique for the here and now, with such energy moving into your subtle body and chakras. For novices, this would be a good way to begin exploring such chakras (my recommendation is to start at the root and work your way up, and to try not to overload them). From there you can work up to strengthening connections between them and slowly working through blockages. This is not to be done on its own, but in concert with psychotherapy or counseling by a licensed psychologist.

Use your creativity here to consider other ways to use energy. This could include creating light-bridges to helpful entities (perhaps by creating the bridge and vibrating a statement of intent, “This bridges my awareness only to those entities who help me”). As always, don’t use this to influence others without their permission (I’ve even grown leery of healing techniques). Because you’re dealing with, well, energy, be aware that this may “overenergize” you, so consider also cultivating and working with energy which you find activates your parasympathetic nervous system. This would include any energy which you find assists with, for example, self-hypnosis. And as always, when you are done with whatever energy source you’re working with, mentally close it out and/or ground it.

Good luck!

Podcast Appearance: Praxis Behind the Obscure!

I’m very pleased to announce that I’ve had another podcast appearance with Ryan Villa on Praxis Behind the Obscure, Episode 19 (a fitting number)! We talk about Enochian, angels, gebofal, Buddhism, and so much more, and of course we had a great time: check it out here!