September  2008
POTENT QUOTE DEPARTMENT
From famed English occultist & author
Dion Fortune–The Mystical Qabalah
(First published in 1935)
(Art’s Note: This is one of those true classics where every passage seems to sparkle with timeless insight, clarity of expression and poetic beauty. Recommended for rank beginners, as for spiritual novices to initates in the timeless traditions)
TREE OF LIFE
1. “The mysticism of Israel supplies the foundation of modern Western occultism. It forms the theoretical basis upon which all ceremonial is developed. Its famous glyph, the Tree of Life (TOL), is the best meditation-symbol we possess because it is the most comprehensive. 2
THE MODERN QABALIST
2. It is not necessarily incumbent upon us to do certain things or hold certain ideas because the Rabbis who lived before Christ had certain views. The world has moved on since those days and we are under a new dispensation. But what was true in principle then will be true in principle now, and of value to us. The modern Qabalist is the heir of the ancient Qabalist, but he must re-interpret doctrine and re-formulate method in the light of the present dispensation if the heritage he has received is to be of any practical value to him. 2
3. We must always test the purity of a tradition by reference to first principles, but we shall equally judge of the vitality of a tradition by its power to assimilate. It is only a dead faith which remains uninfluenced by contemporary thought. 3
4. Scholars declare that the Q. is a medieval forgery because they cannot trace a succession of early manuscripts, but those who know the manner of working of esoteric fraternities know that a whole cosmogony and psychology can be conveyed in a glyph which means nothing to the unintiated. These strange old charts could be handed on from generation to generation, their explanation being communicated verbally, and the true interpretation would never be lost.5
5. It is well known to mystics that if a man meditates upon a symbol around which certain ideas have been associated by past meditation, he will obtain access to those ideas, even if the glyph has never been elucidated to him by those who have received the oral tradition “by mouth to ear.” 5
AS WITH YOGA
6. No student will ever make progress in spiritual development who flits from system to system; first using some New Thought affirmations, then some Yoga breathing exercises and meditation-postures, and following these by an attempt at the mystical methods of prayer. Each of these systems has its value, but that value can only be realized if the system is carried out in its entirety.
A COMPENDIUM OF ALL
7. The curious symbol-system known to us as the TOL (Tree of Life) is an attempt to reduce to diagrammatic form every force and factor in the manifested universe and the soul of man…In brief, the TOL is a compendium of science, psychology, philosophy and theology. 13
OPPOSITE TO SCIENTIFIC METHOD
8. The student of the Q goes to work in exactly the opposite way to the student of natural science; the latter builds up synthetic concepts; the former analyses abstract concepts.
THE FIRST Qs?
9. Who then were the first Qs? The Rabbis are unanimous upon this point, they were angels. In other words, it was beings of another order of creation than humanity who gave the Chosen People their Qabalah. 13
MYSTICS AND PSYCHOLOGISTS
10. There are some psychologists who will tell us that the Angels of the Qs and the Gods and Manus of other systems are our own repressed complexes; there are others with less limited outlook who will tell us that these Divine beings are the latent capacities of our own higher selves. To the devotional mystic this is not a point of any great moment; the devotional mystic gets his results, and that is all he cares about; but the philosophical mystic, in other words the occultist, thinks the matter out and arrives at certain conclusions. These conclusions, however, can only be understood when we know what we mean by reality and have a clear line of demarcation between the subjective and the objective. Any one who is trained in philosophical method knows that this is asking a good deal. 14
VS. INDIAN PHILOSOPHIES
11. The Indian schools of metaphysics have most elaborate and intricate systems of philosophy which attempt to define theses ideas and render them thinkable; and though generations of seers have given their lives to the task, the concepts still remain so abstract that it is only after a long course of discipline, called Yoga in the East, that the mind is able to apprehend them at all.
12. The Qabalist goes to work in a different way. He does not attempt to make the mind rise up on the wings of metaphysics into the rarefied air of abstract reality; he formulates a concrete symbol that the eye can see, and lets it represent the abstract reality that no untrained human mind can grasp. 14
CONTEMPLATING MAPS OF CONSCIOUSNESS
14. In contemplating such a composite symbol as the TOL the initiate observes that there are definite relations between its parts. There are some parts of which he knows something/ there are others of which he can intuit something, or, more crudely, make a guess, reasoning from first principles. The mind leaps from one known to another known and in so doing traverses certain distances, metaphorically speaking; it is like a traveler in the desert who knows the situation of two oases and makes a forced march between them. He would never have dared to push out int the desert from the first oasis if ha had not known the location of the second; but at the end of his journey he not only knows much more about the characteristics of the second oasis, but he has also observed the country lying between them. 15
WORD IS TO THOUGHT WHAT SYMBOL IS TO INTUITION
15. It is said that thought grew out of language, not language out of thought. What words are to thought, symbols are to intuition. Curious as it may seem, the symbol precedes the elucidation; that is why we declare that the Q is a growing system, not a historic monument. There is more to be got out of the Qabalistic symbols to-day than there was in the time of the old dispensation because our mental content is richer in ideas.16
PLANES OF SYMBOLIC MEANING
16. Each symbol, moreover, admits of interpretation upon the different planes, (Astro) and through its astrological association can be related to the gods of any pantheon, thus opening up vast new fields of implication in which the mind ranges endlessly, symbol leading on to symbol in an unbroken chain of associations’ symbol confirming symbol as the many-branching threads gather themselves together into a synthetic glyph once more, and each symbol capable of interpretation in terms of whatever plane the mind may be functioning upon. 16
THE MIND OF GOD: THE UNIVERSE
17. The universe is really a thought-form projected from the mind of God. [Q v Zen) The Qabalistic Tree might be lined to a dream-picture arising from the subconscious of God and dramatising the subconscious content of Deity. In other words, if the universe is the conscious end-product of the mental activity of the Logos, the Tree is the symbolic representation of the raw material of the Divine consciousness and of the processes whereby the universe came into being. 17
AS ABOVE, SO BELOW
18. But the Tree applies not only to the Macrocosm but to the Microcosm which, as all occultists realise, is a replica in miniature. It is for this reason that divination is possible. That little-understood and much maligned art has for its philosophical basis the System of Correspondences represented by symbols. The correspondences between the soul of man the the universe are not arbitrary, but arise out of developmental identites.
LIKE A LAGOON
19. A man’s soul is like a lagoon connected with the sea by a submerged channel; although to all outward seeming it is land-locked, nevertheless its water-level rises and falls with the tides of the sea because of the hidden connection. So it is with human consciousness, there is a subconscious connection between each individual soul and the World-soul hidden in the most primitive depths of subconsciousness, and in consequence we share in the rise and fall of the cosmic tides. 17
THE WORLD SOUL
20. Each symbol upon the Tree represents a cosmic force or factor. When the mind concentrates upon it, it comes into touch with that force; in other words, a surface channel, a channel in consciousness, has been made between the conscious mind of the individual and a particular factor in the world-soul, and through this channel the waters of the ocean pour into the lagoon. The aspirant who uses the Tree as his meditation-symbol establishes point by point the union between his soul and the world-soul. This results in a tremendous access of energy to the individual soul; it is this which endows it with magical powers. 18
QABALAH AND THE TAROT
21. The interpretation of the Q is not to be found, however, among the Rabbis of the Outer Israel, who are Hebrews after the flesh, but among those who are the Chosen People after the spirit–in other words, the initiates. Neither is the Q, as I have learnt it, a purely Hebraic system, for it has been supplemented during medieval times by much alchemical lore and by the intimate association with it of that most marvellous system of symbolism, the Tarot.
22. As far as actual scholarship goes, I am in the same class as William Shakespeare, having little Latin and less Greek, and of Hebrew only that peculiar portion which is cultivated by occultists–the ability to transliterate unpointed Hebrew script for the purposes of Gematric calculations. Of any knowledge of Hebrew as a language I am guiltless. 20
[ART’S NOTE: You are now finished with highlights from the first 20 pages ONLY of this work : ) To take a real plunge into Fortune’s Hermetic Qabalah, naturally, you should order a copy and read the whole thing. However, it’s my experience that simply contemplating POTENT QUOTES (as I have done for a number of great texts on this site) opens the reader to an intimate and powerful connection with the heart and heightened vision of the author].
September  2008
September  2008
(POTENT QUOTES DEPARTMENT)
Excerpted from MARK EPSTEIN, MD
1. As psychotherapy has grown in scope and sophistication over the years, its parallels with Buddhist thought have become ever more apparent. As the emphasis in therapy has moved from conflicts over sexual and aggressive strivings, for instance, to a focus on how patients are uncomfortable with themselves because, in some fundamental way, they do not know who they are, the question of the self has emerged as the common focus of Buddhism and psychoanalysis.
2. While the Western tradition has grown quite adept as describing what has been called the narcissistic dilemma—the sense of falseness or emptiness that propels people either to idealize or to devalue themselves and others—much controversy has arisen over the psychoanalytic method’s applicability for such problems. In fact, Western therapists are in the position of having identified a potent source of neurotic misery without having developed a foolproof treatment for it. In reaching this point, many within the field of psychology have finally caught up to William James: they are ready to look at the psychological teachings of the Buddha. 6
3. Buddhist psychology, after all, takes this core sense of identity confusion as its starting point and further claims that all of the usual efforts to achieve solidity, certainty, or security are ultimately doomed. It not only describes the struggle to find a “true self” in terms that have impressed Western psychologists for decades…but also offers a method of analytic inquiry unavailable in the Western tradition. From the Buddhist perspective, meditation is indispensable to free the individual from neurotic misery.
4. Psychotherapy can identify the problem, bring it out, point out some of the childhood deficiencies that contributed to its development, and help diminish the ways in which erotic and aggressive strivings become intertwined with the search for a satisfying feeling of self, but it has not been able to deliver freedom from narcissistic craving. 6
5. People are attracted to the Buddhist approach, but it remains enigmatic; they know that it speaks to them, yet they have trouble translating the message into a form applicable to their daily lives. Still approached as something exotic, foreign, and therefore alien, the power of the Buddhist approach has not really been tapped and its message has not yet been integrated.
6. (According to Epstein)—In our culture, it is the language of psychoanalysis, developed by Freud and carefully nurtured by generations of psychotherapists over the past century, that has seeped into general public awareness. It is in this language that the insights of the Buddha must be presented to Westerners.
7. According to Buddhism, it is our fear at experiencing ourselves directly that creates suffering. This has always seemed very much in keeping with Freud’s views. As Freud put it, the patient: “must find the courage to direct his attention to the phenomena of his illness. His illness itself must no longer seem to him contemptible, but must become an enemy worthy of his mettle, a piece of his personality, which has solid ground for its existence and out of which things of value for his future life have to be derived. The way is thus paved for the reconciliation with the repressed material which is coming to expression in his symptoms, while at the same time a place is found for a certain tolerance for the state of being ill.
8. In his teachings on suffering, the Buddha made clear that some kind of humiliation awaits us all. This is the truth that he felt could be apprehended by those with “little dust in their eyes.” No matter what we do, he taught, we cannot sustain the illusion of our self-sufficiency. We are all subject to decay, old age, and death, to disappointment, loss, and disease. We are all engaged in a futile struggle to maintain ourselves in our own image. The crises in our lives inevitably reveal how impossible our attempts to control our destinies really are. 44
9. The Four Noble Truths take this vulnerability as a starting point, cultivating humility out of the seemingly oppressive and inescapable humiliations of life. Far from the pessimistic religion that Buddhism has been portrayed to be, it is, in fact, relentlessly optimistic. All of the insults to our narcissism can be overcome, the Buddha proclaimed, not by escaping from them, but by uprooting the conviction in a “self” that needs protecting.
10. Buddhism promises a kind of relief that is beyond the reach of the psychotherapeutic method, brought about through techniques of self-examination and mental training unknown to the West. Happiness is a real possibility, taught the Buddha, if we can but penetrate our own narcissism. 45
11. The Buddha sees us all as Narcissus, gazing at and captivated by our own reflections, languishing in our attempted self-sufficiency, desperately struggling against all that would remind us of our own fleeting and relative natures. His message is a wake-up call. He seeks to rouse us from our Narcissus-like reverie, to redirect our attention from a preoccupation with shoring up an inevitably flawed sense of self to knowledge of what he calls “the Noble Truth.” 45
12. Because of our craving. The Buddha is saying, we want things to be understandable. We reduce, concretize, or substantialize experiences or feelings, which are, in their very nature, fleeting or evanescent. In so doing, we define ourselves by our moods and by our thoughts. We do not just let ourselves be happy or sad, for instance; we must become a happy person or a sad one. This is the chronic tendency of the ignorant or deluded mind, to make “things” out of that which is no thing. Seeing craving shatters this predisposition; it becomes preposterous to try to see substance where there is none. 77
13. The Buddha is suggesting something very radical here: that it is possible to isolate the forces of craving in one’s own mind and become both liberated from them and unattached to them merely from seeing that craving for what it is. The contrast with Western psychoanalysis seems at first glance to be particularly stark. One of the fundamental concepts in psychoanalytic theory, after all, is that instinctual drives or forces (erotic, aggressive, or narcissistic strivings) are inborn, inherent, and inescapable.
14. The vision of the Buddha is that the neurotic aspects of mind—as personified by the pig, the snake, and the rooster of ignorance, hatred, and greed—are not essential to the mental continuum. They may be inborn or even instinctual, but they are not intrinsic to the nature of mind. They can be eliminated, or, in psychoanalytic parlance, sublimated to the point of cessation. Most of Buddhist psychology, in fact, is concerned with demonstrating how the narcissistic impulses to identify with or distance oneself from experience can be transformed into wisdom about the true nature of self. This is sublimation of an order that Freud did not often consider, and as we shall see, it is brought about not only through analysis but also through methods of mental training explicitly taught by the Buddha. 79
Excerpted from: Thoughts Without a Thinker: Psychotherapy from a Buddhist Perspective,
By Mark Epstein
Basic Books, 2004
September  2008
September  2008
I’d rather suffer in poem
than sit in the pain of this wheel.
I seem to lead and pace
a pattern of self-disgrace,
the miracle (or malady?)
here we meet again,
at the perfect moment unaware,
is it I or you who reads minds?
I know where and when
you’ll be there
know how happy and frightened
you are to see me,
know the paralysis
that makes my stumbling attempts…
at least to me,
know the promises
you will never enact,
know the love
that will never be.
September  2008
Your own room is always the best room my friend–
it’s your room and so it should be;
if it’s my room that you think is best, well then–
it’s in my room that you want to be.
As a rose is a rose my room is my room,
it’s perfect for the strange likes of me;
you’re welcome up, for a chat and some cheese,
It is a room you would like to see.
But your room is luscious too, m’dear,
It’s virescent and deep like you, and for yours
it’s suited above the best–
especial and befit a guest,
it’s salutary and gladdening,
winsome and fine;
so why is it my friend
that your eyes fix to mine?
September  2008
FAVORITE BOOKS DEPARTMENT (By Subject)
– THE I AND THE NOT I: A study in the development of consciousness, M. Esther Harding (Princeton University Press, 1965).
– THE DISCOVERY OF THE UNCONSCIOUS: The History and Evolution of Dynamic Psychiatry, Henri Ellenberger (Basic Books, 1970).
– JUNG: A Biography, Deirdre Bair (Little, Brown and Company, 2003).
– MEMORIES, DREAMS. REFLECTIONS, C. G. Jung (Vintage, 1961).
– THE COLLECTED WORKS OF C.G. JUNG, (Bollingen Series, 1959), including: THE ARCHETYPES AND THE COLLECTIVE UNCONSCIOUS, VOL. PART 1, C.G. Jung, (Princeton University Press, 1959).
– HAGS AND HEROES: A Feminist Approach to Jungian Psychotherapy with Couples, Polly Young-Eisendrath (Inner City, 1984).
– SELF AND LIBERATION The Jung/Buddhism Dialogue, Edited by Daniel J. Meckel and Robert L. Moore (Paulist Press, 1992).
– UP FROM EDEN: A Transpersonal View of Human Evolution, Ken Wilber (Anchor/Doubleday, 1981).
– KEN WILBER IN DIALOGUE Conversations with Leading Transpersonal Thinkers, Edited by Donald Rothberg and Sean Kelly, Quest 1998).
– LECTURES ON JUNG’S TYPOLOGY, Marie-Louise von Franz and James Hillman, (Spring, 1971).
– WE’VE HAD A HUNDRED YEARS OF PSYCHOTHERAPY AND THE WORLD’S GETTING WORSE, James Hillman and Michael Ventura (Harper San Francisco, 1992).
– POWER IN THE HELPING PROFESSIONS, Adolf Guggenbuhl-Craig (Spring, 1971).
– CULTURAL ATTITUDES In Psychological Perspective, Joseph L. Henderson, M.D. (Inner City Books, 1984).
– AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME, J.W. Dunne (Humanities Press, 1927)
– SYNCHRONICITY, SCIENCE, AND SOUL-MAKING, Victor Mansfield (Open Court, 1995).
– ON DIVINATION AND SYNCHRONICITY: The Psychology of Meaningful Chance, Marie-Louise Von Franz, (Bollingen, 1980).
– CHOOSING REALITY: A Buddhist View of Physics and the Mind, B. Alan Wallace, (Snow Lion Publications, 1996).
– CHAOS: Making A New Science, James Gleick (Penguin, 1987)
– TAROT AND PSYCHOLOGY Spectrums of Possibility, Arthur Rosengarten, (Paragon, 2000).
– ARCHETYPES & STRANGE ATTRACTORS The Chaotic World of Symbols, John R. Van Eenwyk (Inner City, 1997).
– THE BLACK SWAN The Impact of the Highly Improbable, Nassim Nicholas Taleb (Random House, 2007).
– C.G. Jung’s Psychology of Religion and Synchronicity, Robert Aziz (Suny Series in Transpersonal and Humanistic Psychology, 1996).
Myth & Symbol
– ARIADNE’S CLUE, A guide to the symbols of humankind, Anthony Stevens (Princeton University Press, 1998).
– A DICTIONARY OF SYMBOLS, J. E. Cirlot (Philosophical Library, New York, 1962).
– A CRITICAL DICTIONARY OF JUNGIAN ANALYSES, Andrew Samuels, Bani Shorter, Fred Plant (Routledge, 1986).
– THE KING & THE CORPSE Tales of the soul’s conquest of evil, Heinrich Zimmer (Princeton University Press, 1948).
– WOMAN’S DICTIONARY OF SYMBOLS AND SACRED OBJECTS, Barbara G. Walker (Harper San Francisco, 1988).
– THE OXFORD DICTIONARY OF WORLD RELIGIONS, Edited by John Bowker (Oxford University Press, 1997).
– Eastern Religion
– HOW TO MEDITATE A Practical Guide, Kathleen McDonald (Wisdom, 1984).
– THE I CHING OR BOOK OF CHANGES, Richard Wilhelm Translation with Foreword by C.G. Jung (Princeton University Press, 1950).
– THE COLLECTED WORKS OF CHOGYAM TRUNGPA,(Shambhala, 2003), including: CUTTING THROUGH SPIRITUAL MATERIALISM, THE MYTH OF FREEDOM, THE HEART OF THE BUDDHA.
– THOUGHTS WITHOUT A THINKER: Psychotherapy from a Buddhist Perspective (Foreword by the Dalai Lama, Mark Epstein, M.D. (Basic Books, 1995).
– THE TIBETAN BOOK OF LIVING AND DYING, Sogyal Rinpoche, (Rider & Co,1992).
– ZEN MIND, BEGINNER’S MIND, Shunryu Suzuki, (Weatherhill, 1970)
– TAO THE WATERCOURSE WAY, Alan Watts (Pantheon, 1975)
– MOTHER OF THE BUDDHAS Meditations on the Prajnaparamita Sutra, Lex Hixon (Quest, 1993)
– AS IT IS, Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche, (Rangjung Yeshe Books, 2000).
– THE EDGE OF CERTAINTY Dilemmas on the Buddhist Path, Peter Fenner (Nicholas-Hays, 2002).
– THE POWER OF NOW A Guide To Spiritual Enlightenment, Eckhart Tolle (New World, 1999).
– HE Understanding Masculine Psychology; Robert A. Johnson (Harper & Row, 1983); SHE Understanding Feminine Psychology (ibid); WE Understanding The Psychology Of Romantic Love (ibid).
– WHO DIES? An Investigation of Conscious Living and Conscious Dying, Stephen Levine, (Doubleday, 1982).
– CHALLENGE OF THE HEART Love, Sex, and Intimacy in Changing Times, Edited by John Welwood, (Shambhala, 1985).
– SEARCH FOR THE REAL SELF, James Masterson (Routledge, 1993).
– LOVE’S EXECUTIONER & Other Tales of Psychotherapy, Irvin Yalom, M.D. (Basic, 1989).
– A WHACK ON THE SIDE OF THE HEAD: How You Can Be More Creative, Roger von Oech (Creative Think, 1983).
– THE ROAD LESS TRAVELLED: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional and Spiritual Growth, M. Scott Peck, M.D. (Simon & Shuster 1978).
– THE GOOD MARRIAGE, Judith S. Wallerstein & Sandra Blakeslee (Houghton Mifflin, 1995).
– LOVE IS NEVER ENOUGH How Couples Can Overcome Misunderstanings, Resolve conflicts, and Solve Relationship Problems Through Cognitive Therapy, Aaron T. Beck, M. D. Harper & Row, 1988).
– FEELING GOOD The New Mood Therapy, David D. Burns, M.D.
– SEVENTY-EIGHT DEGREES OF FREEDOM, A Book Of Tarot, Rachel Pollack, (Aquarian Peress, 1980).
– MEDITATIONS ON THE TAROT A Journey Into Christian Hermeticism, Anonymous (Element, 1985).
– TAROT SYMBOLISM, Robert V. O’Neil, (Fairway Press, 1986).
– TAROT REVELATIONS, Joseph Campbell and Richard Roberts, Vernal Equinox, 1979.
– THE TAROT History, Mystery, and Lore, Cynthia Giles, (Fireside, 1992).
– THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF TAROT (VOLUMES 1 THRU 4), Stuart R. Kaplan (US Games, 1978-2006).
– TAROT OF THE NINE PATHS A Guide For The Spiritual Traveler (Arthur Rosengarten, 2004).
– THE MYSTICAL QABALAH, Dion Fortune (Samuel Weiser, first in 1935)
– MY LIFE WITH THE SPIRITS The Adventures of a Modern Magician, Lon Milo DuQuette, (Weiser, 1999).
– 777 AND OTHER QABALISTIC WRITINGS OF ALEISTER CROWLEY, Edited by Israel Regardie, Samuel Weiser, 1955).
– THE GNOSTIC GOSPELS, Elaine Pagels,(Vintage, 1979).
– THE FOURTH WAY, P.D. Ouspensky (Vintage, 1957).