The Right Hand Path & the Death Worship

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Nefastos
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The Right Hand Path & the Death Worship

Post by Nefastos »

At the turn of the millennia I was actively seeking information about the Left Hand Path workings in connection to death worship (necrosophia), but found little of anything truly interesting. Now, on the other hand, it seems that such has become almost mainstream, or at least much more common, & the Left Hand Path / Satanism is often united with such practices which seek death as a cosmic ideal.

But what do you think about the Right Hand Path death worship? It's not so uncommon one might think: especially in Christian theology there have flourished many groups with the Gnostic thought of the world of flesh as a corrupt place, & the philosophy of death. Praticularly in monastic orders people have sought to "die while alive", glorified iconic, symbolic, bodily & philosophical death.

Have you come across these systems within the Right Hand Path systems (like in common world religions), & what do you think about those?
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Re: The Right Hand Path & the Death Worship

Post by obnoxion »

It does seem that in the Western LHP images of death serve the same function the mandatory skull in Egyptian celebrations as described by Baudelaire in one of his prose poems. That is, they serve – intentionally or unintentionally – a life affirming function. Especially in more recent times, these images of death seem used in western LHP together with a promise of violence, which enhances the fear of death instead of acceptance of death, and thus I see them as essentialy life affirming.

On the other hand, sine the recent publications by Paul Koudounaris, it has become clear that there is a quite perfect, truly death affirming RHP Current through Christianity. In one of my first posts on this forum I likened our Brotherhood to small ossuary by a Church’s cemetery. So essential and close I feel we are to this current.
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Re: The Right Hand Path & the Death Worship

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When I was at uni I picked up a module on the Cathars. Back then I was more interested in the political aspects of the Albigensian Crusade and the historical veracity of the two major primary sources, but I naturally learned a bit about their beliefs. It's difficult to know exactly where contemporary descriptions of their beliefs end and propaganda begins, but it seems that a few Cathar Perfects took renouncing the physical world particularly seriously and included all food as part of this, eventually causing their death. The Cathars believed in some sort of mechanism of reincarnation, but I'm not sure how the renunciation of life by these Perfects factored into this.

I'm not sure if Buddhism is included as a RHP belief system, but there have been monks who have starved themselves to death with the intention of leaving a mummified corpse behind. I'm not particularly sure what the intention was, but I guess it's seen as another path to enlightenment with some (perhaps all?) being treated as if they were still alive. Therefore maybe this is a particularly literal interpretation of a deathless Arhat and something that makes the boundaries of life and death more permeable.

My main thought regarding these examples is that starvation has got to be one of the most protracted ways to die and so I have to respect the resolve and devotion of anyone who willingly chose to do this, even if it is intended for egotistical purposes such as an inevitable post-mortem fame rather than enlightenment/liberation/whatever. However, one general thing about Christianity and what could pertain to death worship is the celebration of poverty and suffering in other people as something similar to the Passion of Christ and therefore something to be comfortable with, if not support. If people want to suffer or mortify themselves for their own development, that is fair enough, but I think actively ignoring or celebrating others who unintentionally suffer or die is a nasty thing to do, particularly if there is the condescension of suggesting there will be some prescribed spiritual benefit.
'Oh Krishna, restless and overpowering, this mind is overwhelmingly strong; I think we might as easily gain control over the wind as over this.'
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Re: The Right Hand Path & the Death Worship

Post by obnoxion »

Jiva wrote:I'm not sure if Buddhism is included as a RHP belief system, but there have been monks who have starved themselves to death with the intention of leaving a mummified corpse behind. I'm not particularly sure what the intention was, but I guess it's seen as another path to enlightenment with some (perhaps all?) being treated as if they were still alive. Therefore maybe this is a particularly literal interpretation of a deathless Arhat and something that makes the boundaries of life and death more permeable.
I’m familiar with this practice. It is called mokujiki, or ”tree-eating”. The tree-eaters give up almost all food, and in the end they live only on bark and pine needles. One of the most famous tree-eater was Mokujiki Shonin*, who died in 1810 at the age of 93. By then he had spent about 50 years of his life as a tree-eater. He was a carver of wooden images, and he left behind at least a thousand wooden images of Buddha. His woodworks were discovered by Yanagi Soetsu in 1923, and they are somewhat famous.

There is indeed a tantric technique imported from China behind these self-mummified Buddhas, whose bodies are enshrined in some Japanese temples, for example, the Churenji and Nangakuji temples. It is, however, alleged that such people do not suffer death, but they are in a state of suspended animation called nyujo. This is a state where the soul can wait even for millions of years for the coming of the Future Buddha Maitreya.

Some of these ascetics actually enter coffins while still alive, with only a straw for breathing. There is a sort of calculated receipt by which these ascetics gradually give up food by lengthening the periods between “meals”, so that they are told to be capable to know quite precisely when they will die.

My information comes mostly from Carmen Blacker’s amazing book about Japanese shamanism called “The Catalpa Bow”. The extreme fast is one of the legendary austerities of Japanese shamanism, that sort of mingled with later tantric Buddhism. I might add that there is also a tradition of suicide by starvation practice in Jainism.

It seems to me that there is often a motive of becoming powerful behind the tree-eater type of ascetism. I’ve sometimes called the ascetic practices pertaining to the black aspect collectively as “tree-eating”, because it has very black motivations behind it. These old school ways always had an element of violence in them, because in ancient times it was a necessary part of spiritual achievement. Nowdays different methods are more suitable. I think a suitable mortification for our age would be to take a sort of dis-interest to one's own interests. One may pursue them when it is possible, but when they are not, one should abandon them, no matter how important they may seem, for the needs of others or other hindrances for self-interest that the world may put on one’s way. When pursued diligently, it is a very hard practice, well worthy of the practices of the tree-eaters of yore. Though, if I’ve understood correctly, there is evidence that the classical tree-eating is still alive, at least in Japan.

*Mokujiki Shonin, meaning "The Saint Tree-eater", is a name applied to many ascetics since medieval times.
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Re: The Right Hand Path & the Death Worship

Post by Jiva »

Thanks for the info!
obnoxion wrote:There is indeed a tantric technique imported from China behind these self-mummified Buddhas, whose bodies are enshrined in some Japanese temples, for example, the Churenji and Nangakuji temples. It is, however, alleged that such people do not suffer death, but they are in a state of suspended animation called nyujo. This is a state where the soul can wait even for millions of years for the coming of the Future Buddha Maitreya.
Slightly derailing the thread for a bit, but is there a widespread messianic trend in Buddhism? I don't know much about the religion aside from the very basics which often just amounts to what is similar to Hinduism, but I've previously encountered similar descriptions of Buddhist eschatology. It basically reminds me of Christian mortalism, where the soul is dormant after death until Jesus' return.
obnoxion wrote:I think a suitable mortification for our age would be to take a sort of dis-interest to one's own interests. One may pursue them when it is possible, but when they are not, one should abandon them, no matter how important they may seem, for the needs of others or other hindrances for self-interest that the world may put on one’s way. When pursued diligently, it is a very hard practice, well worthy of the practices of the tree-eaters of yore.
If I've understood it correctly I think it would be very difficult, perhaps more challenging than any that concludes with a person's death. I could imagine it easily leading into depression and self-hatred rather than anything spiritual or meditative.
'Oh Krishna, restless and overpowering, this mind is overwhelmingly strong; I think we might as easily gain control over the wind as over this.'
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Re: The Right Hand Path & the Death Worship

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Jiva wrote:If I've understood it correctly I think it would be very difficult, perhaps more challenging than any that concludes with a person's death. I could imagine it easily leading into depression and self-hatred rather than anything spiritual or meditative.
I guess it could been seen that way. I, however, feel as it is and ideal practice. It is a mortification suitable for me. I deeply admire total passivity, and consider it a sort of spiritual ideal. I am trying to describe a state where one would never initiate any action, but all actions would be, in a way, reactions. Maybe it is not possible to explain in a logical manner why this should be a happy state of being. I tend to view all my self-initiated actions as imperfect when compared to the possibility on non-action. Of course I enjoy many self-interests. It is a difficult practice, and a long one, but for me it is a happy one. During tha passing of years I have become more passive towards the demands of my wishes, and my happiness has increased. The less my happiness is attached to me getting what I want, the more deep and constant it is. A repetition of a very simple rutine would be the ideal life for me, and I hope I will attain that at old age. Though that too is a wish, and I will be happier if I accept anything that may come. That way I can be in peace no matter what my life would be like.

Considering our differences, it would be interesting to read what are your preferred mortifications?
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Re: The Right Hand Path & the Death Worship

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obnoxion wrote:I, however, feel as it is and ideal practice. It is a mortification suitable for me. I deeply admire total passivity, and consider it a sort of spiritual ideal. I am trying to describe a state where one would never initiate any action, but all actions would be, in a way, reactions. Maybe it is not possible to explain in a logical manner why this should be a happy state of being.
Do you mean that this state of being would be totally harmonius with environment? Being a state of absolute non-resistance? I understand this also for one option to be totally happy, but I think being more activity-oriented myself, this way would'nt be the most natural one for me. But surely right and natural for some people.
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Re: The Right Hand Path & the Death Worship

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Kenazis wrote:Do you mean that this state of being would be totally harmonius with environment? Being a state of absolute non-resistance?
In a way, yes. But I must stress that I do enjoy myself actively and pursue my interests. Yet there is always a slow but steady process of letting go in progress. And after relatively many years of conscious focus on becoming passive to the world, the process has gained a momentum of its own. It helps that this is a very natural process. As we get older, we face our autumn years, and then, a last, our winter years. Many of us abhor the old age, and cleave to our youth. Yet the elderly so often say that the happiest times of their lives were the very last times. At a somewhat early age, in my youth, I choose consciously to let go of my summer years, and I made haste to cleave to the autumn. I gave up the wish for eternal youth, and the hope of lengthening its wanton excitements. Soon, a lot of my wants and my wishes fell away from me like leaves of brown, of yellow and red. Unless one has experienced the purifying clarity of the sun light in September, there really isn’t a proper way to describe it. Just being here, less and less in the world by each moment, carrying the utter peace of the grave in one’s heart, and finally experiencing such joy of being that one can only dimly recall from some distant, preverbal existence of one’s most immaculate past. And when this process begins, there is no more hurry. When one lets go just a little, one finds that one has enough of everything. And when one still lets go a little more, there is abundance. And the less one holds on to, the more one overflows. Who, then, can imagine the ecstasies of the utter midwinter, or the prolongations of the serene catacombs? The monad truly is like a human skull, like the Kabbalists say; it is white, it is smooth, and in all things it is like the skeletal head of the long-dead.
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Re: The Right Hand Path & the Death Worship

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obnoxion wrote:...I gave up the wish for eternal youth, and the hope of lengthening its wanton excitements. Soon, a lot of my wants and my wishes fell away from me like leaves of brown, of yellow and red. Unless one has experienced the purifying clarity of the sun light in September, there really isn’t a proper way to describe it....
This evoked the mental/emotional image of autumn forest and sun, and for a moment I felt very peaceful, but lost it instantly when I tryied to think that emotional image. Thanks for silencing my analyzing mind for a moment, and now back to information processing.
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Re: The Right Hand Path & the Death Worship

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obnoxion wrote:I guess it could been seen that way. I, however, feel as it is and ideal practice. It is a mortification suitable for me. I deeply admire total passivity, and consider it a sort of spiritual ideal. I am trying to describe a state where one would never initiate any action, but all actions would be, in a way, reactions. Maybe it is not possible to explain in a logical manner why this should be a happy state of being. I tend to view all my self-initiated actions as imperfect when compared to the possibility on non-action. Of course I enjoy many self-interests. It is a difficult practice, and a long one, but for me it is a happy one. During tha passing of years I have become more passive towards the demands of my wishes, and my happiness has increased. The less my happiness is attached to me getting what I want, the more deep and constant it is. A repetition of a very simple rutine would be the ideal life for me, and I hope I will attain that at old age. Though that too is a wish, and I will be happier if I accept anything that may come. That way I can be in peace no matter what my life would be like.

Considering our differences, it would be interesting to read what are your preferred mortifications?
Actually, I don't think we have such different views, I was just mentioning a reason I thought such a practice would be difficult. In fact, one of my main reasons for adopting the Stone aspect practices is an attempt to treat every instance of my life as a serious part of the occult process rather than as something purely boring, annoying, depressing and so on – all mundane emotions that implicitly state a dislike of a present or future situation and imply the favouring of some sort of typically fictional ideal. There is also a degree of routine regarding the Stone aspect practices which I value, so perhaps we are simply approaching the same thing from different sides. Having said that I won't be passively accepting any current situations when pursuing my ambitions are viable possibilities.

The reason I mentioned depression and self-hatred as a possibility is basically speculation due of my history with depression. There were times in my life when I didn't know how to handle it properly and as a result I was motivated to simply and deliberately stop doing anything. These times were easily the worst experiences of my life and the closest I ever came to suicide. But, just to be clear, I certainly wasn't criticising your practice which, as Kenazis said, you make sound beautiful :). I guess I was merely highlighting the importance of the intention and that from a personal point of view it seems like it would be very challenging.

Regarding mortifications, I prefer meditation and also exercise (which could actually be considered a form of meditation in itself). There are various different intentions behind meditation, but in this case I mean the ceasing of all thoughts and using 'meditation as a practice of death'. However, while absolute silence is alluring, there is always an underlying current. This could be due to my lack of ability, but as Wyrmfang said in the 'Oneness/unity' thread the concept of oneness necessarily contains duality so it could be related to that. In this sense it's the primary reason why I'm fascinated by the concepts of Jivanmukta, Arhat, Tzadik etc. as alchemical unions of humanity and the divine that nevertheless retain some of the duality of individuality.

Not as well thought out and well described as yours :P, but something I'm working with nonetheless...
'Oh Krishna, restless and overpowering, this mind is overwhelmingly strong; I think we might as easily gain control over the wind as over this.'
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