The Mask of The Higher Self

“Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask and he will tell you the truth [of what he thinks],” says Oscar Wilde in his Epigrams: Phrases and Philosophies for the Use of the Young. This is not strictly true. What Wilde really speaks of is not the mask (which has been a part of ritual and theater since ancient time) but, rather, anonymity.

Today we see the most obvious example of this online, with those individuals who, using fake names and cartoon avatars, post the kind of derogatory and inflammatory comments on social media and blogs that they would never say in person.

Yet, anonymity and society are partly the same thing. Those who are attacked are usually those who do not conform in dress, taste in music, beliefs, or opinions.

People often appear to be swept up in whatever is the latest “thing,” buying and wearing the latest fashion as it reaches a certain level of popularity, and ditching as it begins to lose popularity. The same applies, of course, to other aspects of society: cars, technology, cuisine, and even politics and social opinions. To be as fashionable as possible (whether in style or opinions) is contradictory: it is, in a sense, to make a display of conforming. It is, like fame itself, a kind of public anonymity in terms of the real self. Continue reading “The Mask of The Higher Self”

The Sufi Mysticism of Music, Sound, and Vibration

Within the sayings and practices of both Sufism and music, one can find all the necessary conditions that are needed to cultivate higher states of observation and consciousness.  Upon the attainment of these higher states, says scholar Irene Markoff, the seeker can finally achieve the desired “spiritual intoxication (wajd) and a unique and intimate union, even annihilation (fana’), in the supreme being.”

In Sufi music, this practice is known as Samāʿ (Arabic: “listening”). It is the mystical approach of practicing “listening” in order to achieve remembrance (Dhikr) of the divine spark in our heart of hearts. Through chanting — and while in a mystical trance — participants reinforce their ecstatic state with the aim of reaching a “direct knowledge (maʿrifah) of God or Reality (ḥaqq).” Continue reading “The Sufi Mysticism of Music, Sound, and Vibration”

Drawing on Different Traditions

We tend to think of the ancient world as having many distinct religions, all somehow pure and authentic in themselves. But the truth is more complicated, of course. Muslims, Christians, and Jews debated each other at times, and their religions influenced each other. Platonism also influenced these three religions, or at least their more mystical and esoteric schools of thought. Moreover, even in antiquity people often practiced different faiths, having, for example, to be a part of the state religion, for example, while practicing their own religion in their own lives. In the modern era, in Freemasonry, we find the influence of Hermeticism, alchemy, ancient Egyptian culture, etc., in the “higher Degrees.”

Today, whether ancient or modern, dead, obscure, or having millions of members, every religious tradition is available to us in some way, even if only through books. it is an odd thing to see, but esoteric schools, such as Martinism and those following the teachings of Armenian mystic G. I. Gurdjieff, virtually inaccessible two decades ago, now regularly appear on the net, including in my social media streams. Continue reading “Drawing on Different Traditions”