The Future of Rapture (I)
Objections and Resistance to Planetary Tantra
Recently, I have received several challenges to Planetary Tantra, the system I propose for interactive magic with Gaia. These objections have come in the form of respectful inquiries from recent and long-time readers of metahistory.org, and through comments made in a podcast. Both newcomers and veterans who have long followed my writing on the site share the same concerns: namely, my delivery of Planetary Tantra is flawed by an authoritarian attitude and verges on religious fantacism of the kind I have been known to expose and condemn. Or else it is personal fantasy falsely elevated to a divine revelation. Is my declared devotion of the Divine Feminine just a pretext for hedonistic self-indulgence? Do I really think my personal mystical vision should be valid for everyone else? Why should anyone consider the Shakti Cluster as the be-all and end-all of mystical visions? How can I insist that my way is the best way to interact with Gaia, the supreme method for awakening planetary intelligence?
Such are some of the objections and points of resistence that have so far been brought to my attention by people writing to me. These concerns are less about the content and intent of Planetary Tantra, and more about my delivery of it. The crucial challenge then is:
In this three-part essay I will attempt to answer these objections once and for all. I will not dedicate any more time, attention, or writing space on this site to these concerns, so what you see here is all you will be getting in that regard.
I perhaps ought to state up front what some people already suspect about me: I do not entertain an "anything goes" attitude about the planetary shift now unfolding. I do not respect all religions, paths of spirituality, and metaphysical belief-systems as having equal value, or all leading to sane, viable ends. I do not regard beliefs about Gaia or God to be valid relative to the capacities of the believers. I do not accept the unity of all religions. I do not agree that all concepts of the Divine lead to the Divine, one way or another.
Consider me, if you will, a hands-on technician of belief-systems — like a mechanic who specializes in the repair and maintainance of classic VWs. I know the engine and transmission of the old VW "bug" by heart. I do not tolerate delusional or defective mechanisms, shoddy or substitute parts, extraneous bells and whistles. As with VW engine standards, I am a purist in metaphysical syntax. I regard people with the "anything goes" attitude about spirituality as sincere and well-meaning, perhaps, but naive and uneducated in the matters upon which they would exercise their (often self-congratulating) intellectual tolerance. Such benevolent acceptance relies on trite assumptions and uninformed opinion. Without the groundwork and overarching perspective required to make a measured judgement about beliefs and symbolic-metaphysical propositions, it is extremely careless to claim that anything goes. As if you claimed that any system of carburation will work as well as any other for a classic VW engine. Just not true.
I have had the privilege to spend a lifetime examining and testing the beliefs and practices on which I now "pass judgement." You might wonder how someone who has enjoyed the extremely rare opportunity to sample and experiment in this manner and at length, would, at the end of the day, assume a stance of intolerance and superiority, rather than of humility, seeing his experience as relative in value to all the others. Those who appreciate my work in the spirit it is offered, and find in my efforts some viable extrapolations of master mythologists Joseph Campbell and Mircea Eliade, will accept and understand, I trust, that my studies combined with first-hand experience in experimental mysticism have taught me, not universal tolerance, but rigorous discrimination.
So, here is my case, not by way of defense but to put you at ease with my delivery, as far as I can do so:
One long-time correspondant with whom I had the privilege of a lucid and inspiring exchange expressed his objections and reservations to Planetary Tantra in an email cited here (italics), with my responses intercalated. He begins by questioning my apparent claim to exclusivity for the visionary scenario of the Shakti Cluster:
I do not claim that invoking VV is the only manner to get Gaia's attention once and for all. But for right now, I do claim that it is the sole method so far proposed within the frame of a visionary scenario that is both consistent and testable. Rather than dismiss the claim because it appears to impose exclusivity, why not include yourself in the experiment? Try the fivefold rite of invocation and see what comes of doing so. If anyone has another method for precisely the same aim, tell me what it is. And explain, please, how the alternative method of engaging Gaia's attention can be taught, shared, freely explored and extrapolated in a pluralistic fashion allowing for many kinds of personal expression of the single, unitive and grounding experiment.
His further objection to Planetary Tantra is that it
I am certainly not the only one who experiences VV -- but I am SO FAR and RIGHT NOW the one self-identified mystic who is navigating and mapping that experience, and proposing the operative syntax to guide others into it. Why do I emphasize SO FAR and RIGHT NOW? First, SO FAR implies that the visionary engagement with VV will unfold through nine generations, of which I represent the eldest of the first generation (1945-1975). Second, RIGHT NOW is a Kalika imperative. The Shakti Cluster is the Gaian visionary breakthrough for right now, this instant in historical time, this moment in the social and religious dementia of our species. Both the vision and the method of Planetary Tantra will be unfolded, extrapolated, and, in some but not all respects, modified, progressively through the coming nine generations, the 208 years from October 2008 to 2216.
The Terma of Gaia Awakening is a group-generated terma of planetary scope. As such, it is unique: no terma in the Tibetan tradition is an open source, group-generated revelation of dakini wisdom. Traditionally, tertons like Long Chen Pa and Jigma Lingpa depended on a close group of student-allies to receive, interpret, preserve and release the terma they uniquely discovered. They did not turn over the terma for group generation, inviting a visionary collaboration as I am doing. True enough, I do claim to be the first individual to discover this terma, "Seminal Heart of the Diamond Sky Dakinis," or Dorje Namkhai Khandro Nying Thig, to render it's fancy Tibetan name. That is my leading pretension as a terton, a treasure-finder.
Further objection to the Shakti Cluster:
Repeat: the Shakti Cluster is RIGHT NOW a direct route to interactivity with the planetary entelechy, a route that does not appear to have any parallel or comparable approach so far. I expect parallel and complementary visions and systems to appear in the next two centuries. Thus, I would say, Planetary Tantra is unique at this moment but not exclusive of other approaches, sooner or later. In fact, it may integrate and enhance a vast range of diverse approaches. Be advised, however, that Planetary Tantra is an approach via individual experimental mysticism, i.e. intimacy with Gaia in her emergent identity as VV, Dakini 18. It is the Kalika or Kali-oriented system for planetary awakening as an open-ended experiment of individual magical discovery, not a social and collective shift.
Planetary Tantra is planetary in the sense that it asserts and enables the connection between an individual person and Gaia, not in the sense that it proposes or promises a planet-wide shift to higher consciousness, a massive breakthrough to a more sustainable, humane way of life, leading to "a kinder, better world." It decidedly does not promise anything of the sort. However, I am convinced that Planetary Tantra does carry the power to constellate small groups or communities, the Tribes of Kali, so it is not merely a self-indulgent and self-referential program of self-serving narcissistic gratification disguised in mystical jargon.
The Shakti Cluster is a complete, consistent tool-kit for interactive magic with Gaia. If there is another such kit currently on offer anywhere, show it to me. If anyone has a comparable visionary scenario presenting specific facets of the Divine Feminine in an archetypal and practical configuration, lay it out for all the world to see. If you object to the claim that the Shakti Cluster is the supreme opportunity right now to engage with Gaia awakening, then match it with something else that offers the same opportunity.
The objections continue in this manner:
I make no broad claim for humanity at large. Planetary Tantra is accessible to anyone and everyone, but it is a volunteer system and it will certainly not appeal to all those who encounter it. It carries no promise of social reform or collective awakening, as I just stated. It is not the supreme answer of all time — I have said this before, elsewhere in the site —but it is the most suitable approach to the planetary connection for this time, RIGHT NOW. Note carefully this qualification:
I have yet to sufficiently back up this point, but I will do my best in the near future. I have to tell quite an elaborate story to get the point across, and I would rather do that orally than write it down... For now allow me to treat the question in a brief way, expressed in a story-line to be expanded and fleshed out orally, or in written form on KaliRising.org:
Be clear on that point: In claiming a unique and paramount value for Planetary Tantra, I am repeating and reasserting the tradition of the Kalikas. For whatever that's worth. It is not my claim. Question that claim and you question the whole Kalika tradition, the secret teaching on Tantra that originated with the historical Buddha, Shakyamuni.
Moreover, understand that there is no authority in the Kalika tradition. Most Buddhist scholars disregard it, if they even know about it at all! I just find it to be an authentic story that I embrace for its varacity and relevance, as well as for the way it presents a scenario of alternative spiritual history, the untold tale of "underground Buddhism." I place myself in the Kalika story, The Legend of the Floating Cord.
My interlocuter protests against
The charge of narcissism cannot be avoided, but neither can be be refuted. My gesture of refutation would be this challenge: Show me first that you see through your own narcissism clearly enough to discern mine in a way that allows you to refute it, fairly and compassionately.
In the closing years of Kali Yuga, everything we do and think and feel is narcissistic. We are all deeply infected by that particular virus, the prevailing disease of the Piscean Age that began in 120 BCE. Any refutation or alternative to Planetary Tantra will be just as narcissistic as it is. Any refutation of my delivery will be just as flawed as my delivery, on narcissistic grounds. The difference is, my treatment of this novel Kali Age Tantra incorporates the energy of narcissism into its magic, thus avoiding the illusion that anyone can overcome or transcend their narcissism. The entire teaching of the Mahavidya Chinnamasta, the goddess who severs her own head, is focussed on narcissism and its addictive fixations. The essential practice of Kala Tantra (not presented on this site, but occasionally released on KaliRising.org) is "tongue on knife," the sacrificial rite of addiction. There is no escape from narcissistic confabulations, for me or my interlocutor or anyone else. The resolving question here is twofold: What are these confabulations founded upon, and where do they lead? They all lead nowhere, sure, as long as they are not transparent.
I don't know what anyone would require of me for a better, more balanced, and user-friendly treatment of Planetary Tantra, and there may not be time to find out, but I will say this for the moment: answering the above question is what I require of those who criticize my delivery. As far as I can tell, Kala Tantra is going to be the most rigorous practice on the planet.
The objections continue, and now it gets rather personal:
I am not sure what he means by "grand, literalistic pronouncements of single-minded facticity," but much of what I am saying about the Shakti Cluster is literally true, not just a metaphorical game, not just "as if." But right now in planetary time, in the haze of social and spiritual dementia that prevails everywhere, the difference between AS IF and AS IS cannot be determined by the human mind. Certainly not when it comes to mystical and supernatural experience.
More on my grandiosity:
Well, lucky me. If indeed I have discovered such things, which seems to be the case, then I have been extremely fortunate in that respect, and might rightfully be the object of envy. I'm a terton, I find things. That's my calling. But the treasures I find — such as the Paris Eadwine Psalter to name an historical item — do not belong to me. They belong to anyone who respects them, sees them for what they are, and takes responsibility for them. When I present a discovery, I describe it in the way I perceive it, according to the truth of my experience and my training, my background. As far as I know, instruction by the Organic Light was "the supreme secret of the Mysteries." I am not the only one to say this: historical testimony totally supports this claim. What I have said about the Philosopher's Stone was already stated by a dozen other writers: the Stone is both one and many in manifestation, but it exists principally as one thing, the Organic Light that permeates material mass. Like the Kalika claim for the unique appropriateness of Kala Tantra, this proposition does not originate with John Lash.
I am rich in treasures. If I wear the richness like a cloak of grandiosity, put it down to what is still unrefined in my narcissism. But I am told that those who meet me firsthand do not get this impression. It comes through in my writings, a stylistic glitch... What the hell, no one's perfect. I count on others to ignore or correct my stylistic errors and not be put off by my flaws and glitches.
He concludes with this spin:
State me, show me, or sing me, three such truths formulated in just that way — fluidic, "as-if", not-quite-this, not-quite-that — and then tell me where I can go with them into intimate engagement with the Divine Feminine. With all due respect, it helps to know spiritual masturbation when you see it.
He sums up his reservations this way:
Kala Tantra is elitist like colon health is elitist. Take it or leave it. Like it or lump it. I will not even bother to respond to charges of elitism. Life is just too short. In any case, I do know any elitist religious message that is more generous and open-ended than the Kalika practice set out in the Mahanirvana Tantra, of which Kala Tantra today is the predicted fulfillment, I believe.
I would not present Planetary Tantra as a religious system if I were not convinced in mind and heart that experimentation with it will resolve and dissolve the same old problems of religious belief. This confidence of mine cannot possibly be appreciated by anyone who does not engage and test the system with respect for its intrinsic properties and guiding parameters, including self-corrective parameters. Anyone who would want to turn the Shakti Cluster into another religious system such as those I have exposed and condemned would not be attracted to it in the first place. Those who are genuinely attracted to it will, without external enforcement of any kind, test it respectfully before they speculate on its flaws and pitfalls.
I have it on dakini instruction — of course, this will really get some of you riled — that the interactivity of the Shakti Cluster is self-correcting and the magic it engenders cannot be abused. Imagine a system that cannot be abused. You may deny on principle that this is possible. Is this denial a true presumption, or merely an effect of your lack of imagination? Can you push your imagination to anything so fantastic as a system that cannot be abused?
I do not claim to present any original statement whatsoever on "the infinite enigma of the capacity for experience." That is a false extrapolation that refutes what I say by ascribing to it properties it does not possess. Judge what I say within its true and proper limits. Planetary Tantra is about first-hand intimacy with the Gaian Mind and the Divine Feminine, discovered here and now, explored magically and erotically through empirical techniques of experimental mysticism. It does not address the enigma of the universe any more than it competes with the lyrics of Goldfrapp.
A tricky point:
I hold to gender distinction as an obvious and essential feature of the manifest worlds and the supreme manifesting power, Maya-shakti. The gods are gendered. Nature is gendered. Mind is gendered. The primary evidence of gendering in nature is chirality, the handedness of organic and inorganic forms, right- and left-turning spirals, and mirror-inversion of images. According to Shaivite and Shakta traditions alike, the evidence of gendering in mind is the feminine principle or matrix-generated otherating potency of reflective awareness, vimarsha, contrasted to the self-reflecting matrix dissolution of Shiva or male principle, svaprakasha. Gendering is a technical issue of Asian metaphysics, not suited for amateur chatting.
Anyone who wants to blow out the perennial gendering syntax (Shiva/Shakti) of Advaitan epistemology is welcome to do so. I expect no less than 50,000 words with long footnotes on the noesis-noema epistemology of Franz Brentano, the history of phenomenology in rap song format, and a couple of really funny cartoons featuring Edmund Husserl and a hooker. Send me a post card when you're done and I'll come around with an amiable tantrika and copulate in the ruins.
Check your resident planet, sir. On Earth there is nothing simple about love and the supernatural. It may well be the most splendorously complex and diversely rich subject in this lovely world. The merge of love and the supernatural is the exquisite blossom of goddess wisdom in our time, the reflowering of romantic traditions, both eastern and western, that erupted in the 13th century, the "mythogenetic moment" of Tristan and Isolde, Parzival and the Eadwine Psalter in the West, and the Gita Govinda, the Shaiva Tantras, the Spanda-Karikas, and the bhakti cults of Krishna in the East. In Creative Mythology, Joseph Cambell suggested that the beginning of the 21st would see a comparable moment, another massive event of mythogenesis. The religious archetype of Planetary Awakening fits his presentiment, I say. The Shakti Cluster is the one expression of this archetype, SO FAR and RIGHT NOW, that exhibits exceptional properties of coherence and efficacy. If there is another system that can match it, I'd like to know about it.
At such a mythogenetic moment, a single event is required, one and one only: the constellation of a unique archetype in the imagination of the human species. In the 13th century, it was the archetype of the Carnal Love, reflected in the tale of Tristan and Isolde. It took one book and one only to deliver (i.e., signal and focalize) that archetype. The religious vision of romantic love, carnal and mystical, sensuous and immortal at once, constellated in many ways, for the effloresence of every archetype entails a pluralistic vision and diverse expressions of that vision. But the constellation in all its facets was both signaled and integrated by Gottfried von Strassburg in a single literary masterpiece. His tale was the integral lode in the pluralistic flowering of the archetype of Carnal Love.
Right now and for the next two centuries, the human species is being swept into the constellation of the archetype of Planetary Awakening. The Shakti Cluster is to that constellation what Tristan and Isolde was to the constellation of Carnal Love in the 13th Century: it is the signal and grounding component, the integral lode. Like all others, the current constellation is multifarious and pluralistic: there are many ways to engage Gaia, interact with the Divine Feminine, and participate in the awakening of the planetary mind. But of these pluralistic expressions, one and one only present the integral lode that signals, frames, grounds, and integrates the others.
When I make this claim regarding Planetary Tantra, I cannot be aware of all the objections and refutations I thus invite — life is not long enough for me to address such matters with the attention they require — but believe it or not, I know exactly what I am doing. My confidence comes first from my terton training since the age of four, then from my background in the history of religions and comparative mythology, and finally from a lifetime of open source mystical experimentation under the best guidance imaginable. It is professional confidence. I am not the master of the universe, nor of any recognized school of mysticism such as Tibetan Tantra or Kashmiri Shavism, but I am the master of this material. I do not claim to be an authority on mythogenesis, but if you were looking for an "expert" in that genre, I guess I'd fit the bill. My confidence comes from direct interaction with the system I am describing, and reflects the rapturous excitement of encountering the Divine Feminine, that incomparable thrill, the pulsation of naked and numinous rapture — but alas, my confidence appears to come across as MALE arrogance and authoritian cant to some people. Oh dear. What can I say? I suggest that those who are put off by that impression may be too superficial in their gender perceptions, or just too unripe mystically, to be immediately engaged with the Shakti Cluster.
I am sure that those who respectfully test Planetary Tantra will acquire confidence in its powers and properties. I know they will come it it quickly, sometimes in an instant, Kala-style. It's something wonderful to practice interactive magic and see it working. There is nothing to believe or fake. The supernatural is not what it appears to be. It turns out to be, in a way, totally mundane!
So, I cannot answer every issue of resistance and reply to every refutation of Planetary Tantra, but I know exactly what I am doing and I am not, mind you, doing it all by myself. In Planetary Tantra, you get arranged. You get to have your fate and eat it, too. A Kalika is a transpersonal supplicant of personal desire.
As for propagating "a grand mystical agenda/narrative," I plead guilty on the grounds of temporary insanity of the mystical kind: in other words, one instant of seeing reality for what it really is, Divine Play. Or put it down to my innocent passion for the Goddess, Sophia-Vidya-Gaia. Whatever anyone thinks, I am not peddling a master plan, a scheme of male-mind ingenuity with a teleological agenda. But yes, I am presenting a "master narrative," a story to guide the species. I am reporting a planetary event that unfolds simultaneously in the psyche and the atmosphere. This report takes the form of a narrative that invites participation for the full story to unfold. The Terma of Gaia Awakening is a group-generated mystical narrative about the earth, an open source myth developed interactively with the planetary spirit, the central character in the myth. I initialize this narrative but I do not complete it. The authority of this story lies in its beauty, and in the wisdom and rapture it engenders in the hearts and minds of those who embrace it — not as a belief-system, but as an experimental frame.
Objection to a master narrative is a sick reflex contracted from some naughty French schoolboys who hankered to get their bare asses spanked by the randy schoolmaster —Derrida, Foucault, Barthes, and the like. These ridiculous fops proclaimed "the end of the master narrative" in total ignorance of that fact that the end of a master narrative is just another master narrative. And a shabby, dishonest one at that. Too many bright young people have had their minds stained by deconstructionist sleight-of-hand, which, for some odd reason, hardly anyone dares to exposre or refute. (One notable exception: Charlene Spretnak in The Resurgence of the Real. She goes for the throat. Also, Andy Fisher in Radical Ecopsychology takes a shot at those French-fried intellectuals, basing his argument on the indigenous view that you are only as good, i.e. veracious and trustworthy, as your guiding story.)
Here I will pull rank: if I am anything close to the heir and successor or Campbell or Eliade, as some people say, then my opinion of post-modernist deconstructivism might have some validity. Here it is: the human creature is a story-telling animal that cannot live without some kind of guiding narrative.
True enough, I am presenting a master narrative. Not one of my own making, of course, but of my discovery. So sue me. If you prefer to live without one — that is, to live out the absurd narrative of ending all master narratives — I wish you well on your way. It will be a hard journey, lonely and fruitless. A Kalika would advise, "There are faster, easier ways to shed your humanity."
I know exactly what I am doing in mythogenesis with the Shakti Cluster, although I am certainly not doing it flawlessly or without room for improvement. May I count on those who come to share this vision, experiment freely with it and rapturously discover the magic it engenders, to make those improvements with me — and eventually for me?
To be continued....
jll; 4 May 2009 Andalucia
Material by John Lash and Lydia Dzumardjin: Copyright 2002 - 2017 by John Lash.