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Oaths and Their Breaking
Posted: Thu Sep 17, 2015 12:21 pm
More or less in every human age, but most clearly in the hectic time like ours people can seldom understand & respect the slow, ethically sound way to wisdom & power. The classic wizard seer archetype, who has the power but does not use it openly because of his tremendous responsibilities, is naturally uninteresting; what people can relate to are those who wield the power without responsibility. That is easy to picture & it seems to spell out freedom, so it draws attention & eagerness to imitate or follow such a powerful figure.
In the ascending path, every initiate has to give oaths of ethical nature, of which the most important is the so-called Jivanmukta oath (whatever its name in a given tradition) to dedicate one's permanent spiritual life ultimately & all the times to the goal of helping the whole universe to be liberated from the bonds of deep spiritual ignorance & thus fundamental suffering. Every given power & initiation comes with a certain oath to secrecy, because that is what hermetic philosophy is: it needs to be hermetically sealed, it must be intimate, it must have its constant grounding to the laws of its wellspring, spirit, and not of matter, the ephemeral world of men. Almost every synonyme for occultism (including this name itself) refers to that secret nature of things. They can't be made exoteric, although they can & should be kept in discourse with the exoteric culture & everyday life.
It is said that the English name of an evil sorcerer, warlock, derives from the meaning of a broken oath. The power that such a descending path or horizontal path occultist uses is visible, because one has given & then broken his word (& Word with the capital letter, relating to the spiritual idea of ethical choices behind initiations), & thus the power he has accumulated evaporates in an entertaining way. The so-called black magicians of the known history are almost every time these oath-breakers, at least one of their feet on the path of descension. This, in turn, gives to the public a perverted way of seeing magic. The paradox of magic is that usually when it can be seen by the outsiders that is a sign of that something has gone terribly wrong. Occultism is not about puffing up one's own ego or having some other merits that come with public or semipublic display.
In Dante's Inferno, the center of the hell, its most terrible place was the constant & permanent torment of the oath-breakers: Lucifer, Judas, Brutus... For oath is a container, like Cista Mystica, chest of the sacred serpent, or an alchemical hermetically sealed vessel. If the vessel is broken, the Great Work is lost - even when paradoxically, the vessel is an antithesis of the inner truth itself. Teaching about occultism is about opening all the possibilities equally (i.e. wisdom), & yet at the same time, it must operate upon oaths of keeping something as permanently fixed. For example, the brotherhood guides must give oaths to always work under the ultimate banner of the Triple Key of love, honesty & striving to the best and not the easiest activity, & even a standard member must sign in a way as to give one's word to uphold the standards of the brotherhood's fundamental ideas.
I'm sure this banter brought to mind some ideas, objections & possibilities to discussion. Please feel free to bring up anything you consider interesting or important regarding the topic.
Re: Oaths and Their Breaking
Posted: Thu Sep 17, 2015 5:34 pm
I doubt that my thoughts would prove to be interestion, let alone important, but here they are anyways..
This topic of oaths was present on the Finnish forum not so long ago (if I remember correctly). I'd recall Nefastos mentioning that Jesus taught not to make oaths to no other than God, ie. that one shouldn't swear on mundane matters.
I have somewhat felt alienated from oath taking/bounding all my life, or atleast in the case of making them consciously. After reading Nefastos' text above, however, I started to see this in a different light. I guess an inner conviction could be considered to be some sort of an oath, or am I wrong? Also, I have felt a distance towards the mentioned initiations, which are often talked about when dealing with matters concerning occultism, but maybe these can also be taken, in a way, intuitively or unconsciously, in the manner of speaking that all the pieces of the puzzle are actually there, but the mind has to reach a certain level before it is able to understand this complex structure?
Re: Oaths and Their Breaking
Posted: Thu Sep 17, 2015 8:35 pm
Basically, I have a load of questions along similar lines
. One of the important things that remains from my Quaker upbringing is a dislike of any oaths, at least as they are traditionally thought of. Therefore, are you approaching the concept of oaths from a similar basis, i.e. by essentially using an “oath” in the singular to represent something like a general attempt to be truthful, commit loving actions and so on throughout life? If it is, surely this would be best expressed as a singular “oath” rather than as the pluralistic “oaths”; wouldn’t more than one just be superfluous and perhaps betray a double standard? (I know, I’m a pedantic asshole
Presumably this is also a general and dynamic oath and that is continually honed by experience (i.e. “striving”) and therefore one that must necessarily be broken at times? Although it might be grounded in the spiritual, it would surely depend on material experience on some level and therefore wouldn’t the vessel have to be shattered in order to rebuild it more strongly? Of course, by this I don’t mean deliberate immorality, but nothing is learned without mistakes.
Re: Oaths and Their Breaking
Posted: Fri Sep 18, 2015 12:25 pm
RaktaZoci wrote:I guess an inner conviction could be considered to be some sort of an oath, or am I wrong? Also, I have felt a distance towards the mentioned initiations, which are often talked about when dealing with matters concerning occultism, but maybe these can also be taken, in a way, intuitively or unconsciously...
Jiva wrote:Therefore, are you approaching the concept of oaths from a similar basis, i.e. by essentially using an “oath” in the singular to represent something like a general attempt to be truthful, commit loving actions and so on throughout life? If it is, surely this would be best expressed as a singular “oath” rather than as the pluralistic “oaths”; wouldn’t more than one just be superfluous and perhaps betray a double standard?
I think that in this, as in all things esoteric, we should see the two categories. There are formal oaths, which can be verbal (or by signature) or given by other means, but they have to do with specific things. Then there are non-formal oaths, which operate with manas and not kâma-manas, that is, they belong to the overall paradigm of our lives.
Both can be related to initiations, of which I mentioned in the Adept text that there are two kind of those: the spiritual and technical ones. The spiritual ones are more important & belong to to the latter of the above mentioned categories (non-formal). Technical initiations are more ceremonial (although the ceremony in question can be, for example, a specific yoga practice one has gained a mastery of & thus achieved the specific technical result in one's occult energies).
The non-formal oath is thus not an oath in a mundane meaning of the word, but is, as I said, one's "Word with the capital W" given: one's inner constitution is being based on such an such ethical principle in order to gain such an initiation & empowerment. The technical initiation can be gained by giving a more mundane oath, if one just finds are teacher/school/society/lineage that is willing to initiate him. When such a person who has been strengthened with such an technical initiation, be it minor or major one (with the major one's I mainly mean those which have direct correspondences to the spiritual initiations, drawing their power to the body), "breaking of an oath" is very literal thing. Regarding the non-formal oath the sin is even greater, although one hasn't necessarily uttered a word with his tongue; the oath was the one of soul.
Regarding to the oath vs. oaths, I meant that the ascending initiates mind is a interconnected mass of different oaths of both spiritual & technical kind, taken one by one. And the trickiness is in exactly that that they should not, and cannot, never be taken apart from each other & remain isolate (forming double standards), but every part of the manasic machinery must work in harmony with every other part. From this we also come to that "tremendous responsibility" I mentioned in the beginning. The more initiations one has taken, seemingly more & more bound one is: he can barely do anything at all, from the mundane point of view that is. This is kind like a mortification aspect of the initiations, making one as an eternal statue of strength, of whose work is unseen.
RaktaZoci wrote:...in the manner of speaking that all the pieces of the puzzle are actually there, but the mind has to reach a certain level before it is able to understand this complex structure?
Jiva wrote:Presumably this is also a general and dynamic oath and that is continually honed by experience (i.e. “striving”) and therefore one that must necessarily be broken at times? Although it might be grounded in the spiritual, it would surely depend on material experience on some level and therefore wouldn’t the vessel have to be shattered in order to rebuild it more strongly?
I think RaktaZoci's idea of "having the answers without formally realizing them" can also seen as an answer to the problem of the many-sidedness of oaths. When the oath belongs to the technical group, the problem is smaller, because things that are promised are usually clear enough. (Like in, "I will not tell anybody of what happens in this ceremony".) The philosophical or psychological problem may be seen in situations with the spiritual initiations, where the oaths are not formal, and thus, one doesn't necessarily haven't even realized he has given such. For they do not spring into being instantly, but are rather built up to the point of crystallized condensation (in the mental, that is, manasic dimension). As a side note, one important aspect of getting ready for the initiations is to break up "non-oaths" which have been condensed in a similar way, taking the place of the real manasic structures. Ritual blasphemy is one such "non-oath-breaking". (It can also be a way to reach the higher initiations from the lower or more technical ones, i.e. one could be forced to break a technical oath to give a spiritual one. But even in this case this will lead to certain problems & unavoidably negative results, on the side of the good ones. I seem to recall a Rabbinic story that the Nazarene for example was such an oath-breaker, which would certainly fit in the picture.)
I think the problem of the many possibilities to understand the precise wording of the oath are mostly if not always clear enough in the context, even in those quite common hybrid forms which seem to place themselves partly in the technical, partly in the spiritual area, like the brotherhood guides' oath. While it is certain that every guide has a somewhat different idea of the exact meaning of the words, the core is clear enough to function as a foundation of the work. Such oaths which are not fully technical always have some amount of free action & space for individual applications, including many possibilities to strive at any given time. For example, my own temperament is very hectic & intense, which in my youth lead to the situation where the greatest challenge was to learn to not strive; but when I finally understood this, I could make this not-striving as a form of my personal striving, which it was precisely. Since I understood that, I have taken entertainment, (controlled) shallowness, (ethically applied) hedonism & so on as my sacred duty, & never considered that this is not a part of my oath of continual striving. Now one might say that this makes oaths quite tricky things, since they must be lived with & pondered daily (in one's heart if not in his head). And this exactly is the case. Oaths are not easy to keep, so they should not be easy to give. For one should always have enough strength to even break (& bear the retribution, karmic and other) one's oath if he comes to see that he had erred.
Re: Oaths and Their Breaking
Posted: Wed Sep 23, 2015 9:27 pm
Well, there are parts of your post that I’ll have to think more about, but it seems to me that it’s quite Kantian in approach, where a manasic oath is roughly equivalent to a universal moral law that can’t really be described or processed directly – but which we necessarily have an inkling of – in contrast to the maxims of kama manas that are deduced by reason and intuition. Regarding RaktaZoci’s point, I suppose when anyone consciously makes an oath there is at least a vague idea of why. In other words, I guess such an oath could be considered a person’s best formulation of a guide to a place they can’t yet fully define.
Re: Oaths and Their Breaking
Posted: Sun Oct 18, 2015 3:45 pm
In Dante's Inferno, the center of the hell, its most terrible place was the constant & permanent torment of the oath-breakers: Lucifer, Judas, Brutus... For oath is a container, like Cista Mystica, chest of the sacred serpent, or an alchemical hermetically sealed vessel. If the vessel is broken, the Great Work is lost - even when paradoxically, the vessel is an antithesis of the inner truth itself.
This notion was an eye-opener to me. To me, occultism in practice is primarily giving of binding magical oaths
and I think Crowley was right saying "a magical oath, truly given cannot be broken". Concerning lower magic, or goetia, my view is grotesque & archaic enough that "pacts with the Devil" is accurate enough expression, where sharing my own being with external spirits (or call them aspects of the subconscious if you want) is also a formal oath/ritual.
Also, the very solidity of persona can be understood as an oath, status quo is an avatar of it's ruling forces &c. &c. so intimately that "personal growth" starting from your preferences as a child can be taken as the oath-giving & all that has followed as a result of that oath. The "center of hell" thus is the disintegration of old energetic bonds & unleashing of energy to a more chaotic & unsafe form?