When striving for transformation of ourselves we tend to work from one of a few numbers of consciously or subconsciously held models of 'Self'. Such models form the basis of how we make sense of ourselves as part of a larger environment of visible and invisible forces as well as a part of a social community or tradition. Inherently they determine essential assumptions about the triggers, direction and aim of such transformation. The following explorations and ideas were initiated by the wonderful anthology 'Self and Self-Transformation in the History of Religions', edited by David Shulman and Guy G. Stroumsa. While the anthology itself is focussed on an academic audience it still offers many springboards to consider practical implications of our personal approach to magic. It is the latter that the following explorations are aiming at.
In the context these posts term transformation can stand for psychological or even physical change, often connected to the idea of healing or growth of our selves. Equally it relates to the processes of initiation, spiritual attainment or enlightenment. In fact it refers to any process that profoundly transform the makeup of our inner selves:
“Personal transformation need not to go as far as turning oneself into a god, or devolving oneself into a demon or an animal, or even switching gender. It may mean, at root, a substantial reorganization of restructuring of the self - in some sense, the same self that forms the point of departure.” (Shulman / Strousa, p.12)
Yet, before we set out, let's explore why such theoretical considerations matter at all... Isn’t the beauty of magic that we don’t need to understand the ‘Why‘ behind the techniques we actively leverage?
My old teacher often mentioned this was the precise difference between magic and philosophy or abstract speculation: The magician simply does and judges their practice by nothing but the results achieved; the philosopher never gets to the point of doing because they are stuck in speculating about the 'How' and 'Why'. In such a paradigm magic turns into the science and art of pragmatism.
Well, I shared my own point of view on this perspective in an earlier post. I believe finding one’s own answer to it, is what will determine the level of power we limit or open ourselves to in magic. Let me share a brief overview of the model I leveraged to explain these dynamics:
The essence is that Experience flows from the outside in, while Meaning takes the opposite direction and flows from the inside out. A truly powerful magician - or kitchen chef or teacher or really any professional - understands that having access to all three levels of their behavior is critical to achieve or experience anything meaningful in life. On the other hand, the more they limit themselves to only work in the realm of the ‘What‘ the more they choose to limit themselves. Over time their practice will become random and inconsistent. While practice has to precede the discovery of personal meaning, getting stuck in the realm of practice without exploring the ‘How’ and ‘Why’ will kill the spirit of our magic over time. What is needed is balance as well as the right sequence of action and reflection.
So I guess, if you are at a point where you aim to deepen your level of practical experience, I recommend to skip this post and maybe explore the ‘Spirit Contact Cycle’ instead. Simply because it was written to do exactly that: to get more experience out of any encounter we come across, may it be magical or not. If, on the other hand, your practice has become a little overwhelming already or if you currently feel stuck and need to see a few more trees of the forest we are surrounded by, then these reflections on the ‘How’ might be just helpful.
Now, as we set out to explore three different concepts of Self in relation to the concept of Self-Transformation, I will try not to connect them to certain traditions as much as possible. That’s why I chose very general terms and examples to label and describe them. Hopefully this peels back preconceived ideas or personal attitudes towards specific spiritual traditions; and allows us to get to the heart of the matter more quickly.
1) The Model of the Ladder - or The Vertical Model
The model of the ladder will be the most familiar concept of Self for most practitioners in the West. In essence it assumes the following:
- our human Self is bound by or chained into the earthly realm
- the earthly realm doesn’t start around us, it’s closest layer to ourselves is our body and our physical senses
- at the same time our human Self itself is an outer layer itself, holding a divine spark bound inside of us
- the cosmos is arranged along a vertical axis with divinity at the top and the earthly or chthonic realm at its end
- our way of being in the world is determined by the position our Self assumes along this continuum of divinity to profanity or - to speak in philosophical terms - of ontological reality to material illusion
- thus the experience of pain, suffering, afflictions or sorrow is charged with either of two meanings: (1) as an acknowledgment of the fact that one’s Self has sunken too low on the vertical axis and over-identifies with the earthly realm; a state that is often interpreted as sinful or (2) as a testament to the fact that one is progressing upwards on the vertical axis and is being challenged and tempted by the chains one’s Self is bound by still
We can call this concept ‘The model of the ladder’ as the level of spiritual attainment or self-transformation is dependent by the practitioner’s ascent on the vertical axis towards divinity. A continuum that often is depicted as a ladder.
The shadows of this concept of course are manifold: starting with debasement of any physical experience and our bodily senses and leading up to the separation of divinity from the physical realm - except for the golden umbilical cord that leads upwards from the profane to the realms true being.
According to this model our Self is clamped on this vertical axis, stretching all the way from the heavens to the deepest chthonic realms. No wonder the societies, traditions and collective experiences this concept has brought forth over the better part of three-thousand years are marked by an incredible amount of inner tension and aggression: Self-transformation in this worldview isn’t but one option of lifestyle - mostly reserved for the mystic or hermit and potentially a waste of time as one misses out on the beauty of physical life - but it turns into an essential requirement for any human being. From the toddler to the farmer to the scientist - they all live in a state of not being okay within themselves, by definition and nature - until they have managed to ascend further on the vertical ladder.
At the same time the criteria and measure of their spiritual advancement is full of ambiguity: the levels of pain, sorrow, temptations and misfortune experienced in life could either be interpreted as stalemate on the profane level or as testament of their advancement on the vertical ladder. Authority to determine which is which in most cases is reserved to the religious elite. While this model of Self seems an unfortunate choice for the layman, the value for the religious elite becomes immediately obvious: they hold the power of interpretation, of story-telling one’s life. The religious elite and not ourselves attach meaning to the experiences we go through.
2) The Model of the Dovecote - or The Horizontal Model
This model of the dovecote will be significantly less familiar or intuitive to most practitioners of the West. In essence it assumes the following:
- our human Self is not a stable entity, but defined by a constant exchange of and interdependency with other beings
- the experience of Self is therefore a social or collective one
- the cosmos is arranged along a horizontal continuum that leads from visible to invisible states of being; the entire continuum is populated by living beings, society is made up of equal parts of the visible and invisible realm
- many beings may shift their form of appearance on this continuum depending on their current state as well as the quality of time; similarly often there is no division between good and evil entities but their impact on one’s self depends on individual circumstances of time, place and relationships
- the experience of Self is therefore fluidly transcending the realms of visible and invisible, the boundaries of self are blurred
- our way of being in the world is determined by the connections to and interdependencies with other beings we have created for ourselves - or allowed to be involved in - on the horizontal continuum of creation
- thus the experience of pain, suffering, afflictions or sorrow is mostly charged with the meaning of having made imbalanced or unhealthful affiliations on the horizontal continuum of creation, i.e. visible or invisible level
Following an analogy by the magical author Gustav Meyrink we can call this concept ‘The Model of the Dovecote’ as the human Self is understood as a space that itself holds no control over the beings that came to populate and live in it. Instead the place of Self is marked by a constant exchange of beings present within it - and therefore dominating its (inner) experiences, emotions, moods or perceptions of the outer world.
The appeal of magic in this concept clearly is that it promises at least a certain level of control or filtering over which entities are present within the Self. Instead of a dovecote we could also think of any other natural habitat populated by multiple species - a forest, a swamp, a mountain. The function of magic in this model is to act like a gardener or overseer that exceeds a certain, even if limited amount of control over the dynamics and population in this area. The boundaries of Self, however, by nature remain ambiguous or diluted in this model.
One of the shadows of this concept is the potential lack of self-responsibility it comes with. If the boundaries of my self are blurred, if I am a space other beings move through, how could I be held accountable for my actions or thoughts? One could argue what we encounter here is the opposite of the shadow of the former model: Whereas in the model of the ladder the individual constantly has to exceed control over their continued vertical ascent, here the individual is faced with the risk of a complete dependency on inner tides - and no conscious control about their own fate at all. Where the latter model makes the individual dependent on their (outer or inner social) environment, the former concept might create rigid, brittle and exclusive individuals (Shulman / Strousa, p.13).
In essence the two models could be perceived to exemplify a highly passive (dovecote) and active (ladder) attitude towards the transformation of Self; they allow for very different starting points on a journey that ultimately might lead to the same place. If we were to generalize and follow typical gender stereotypes the former model bears strong female characteristics whereas the latter represent a more male attitude towards Self and transformation: Where in the model of the ladder it is the Self that exceeds control over its transformation, in the model of the dovecote the direction of transformation is determined by inner beings it is in contact with.
A hugely positive quality of the model of the dovecote is easily overlooked: If the boundaries of our selves are permeable, even our normal state of being will be an experience of continuous transition and change. We simply don’t expect to be stable or the same ‘self’ over longer periods of time. During periods of coerced transformations - i.e. severe sickness, death, loss, grief, etc. - the experience of fluidity of our selves turns into a huge resource of resilience. We simply know that no single state of being will last for very long - as change in this model of self is inherent. We also do not carry the burden of needing to control our inner experience necessarily; we can float with the tides that carry us rather than trying to steer against them. While the model of the ladder trusts that positive life experiences will come once further ascent on the vertical axis is achieved, the model of the dovecote assumes change will come once the tides are ready to turn.
In the second part we will explore a final and third model of self-transformation. Also, we will be looking at the consequences of these concepts on our magical practice and how to utilise them in a way that doesn't limit or confine but enrich our magical journey.
Let me start by sharing a short kabbalistic story. I came across it while reading Moshe Idel's wonderful essay 'From Platonic to Hasidic Eros' in this anthology from 2001.
While still reading it a full download of insights and realisations hit me. Wether these are meaningful in my own subjective mind only, I do not know. They certainly reflect the way I like to look at the world. They reflect a love for understanding magic as something that can happen in any given moment; something that doesn't need to be controlled or coerced. They also taught me quite a few things I hadn't come across before.
“Thus we learn from one incident, written by R. Isaac of Acre, of blessed memory, who said that one day a princess came out of the bathhouse, and one of the idle people saw her and sighed a deep sigh and said: ‘Who would give me my wish, that I could do with her as I like!’ And the princess answered and said: ‘That shall come to pass in the graveyard, but not here.’
When he heard these words he rejoiced, for he thoughts that she meant for him to go to the graveyard to wait for her there, and that she would come to him and he would do with her as he wished. But she did not mean this, but wished to say that only there great and small, young and old, despised and honored - all are equal, but not here, so that it is not possible that one of the masses should approach her.
So that man rose and went to the graveyard and sat there, and he fixed the thought of his intellect to her, and always thought of her form. And because of his great longing for her, he removed his thoughts from everything sensual, but put them continually on the form of that woman and her beauty. Day and night, all the time, he sat there in the graveyard, there he ate and drank, and there he slept, for he said to himself: ‘If she does not come today, she will come tomorrow.’
This he did for many days, and because he separation of the objects of sensation, and the exclusive attachment of the thought of his soul to one object and his concentration and his total longing, his soul was separated from the sensibilia, including that woman herself, and it was united with God. And after a short time he cast off all sensibilia and he desired only Divine Intellect, and he became a perfect servant and holy man of God, so that his prayer was heard and his blessing was beneficial to all passerby, so that all the merchants and horsemen and footsoldiers who passed by came to him to receive his blessing, until his fame spread far about.
Thus far is the quotation as it concerns us. And he went on at length concerning the high spiritual level of this ascetic. And R. Isaac of Acre wrote there in his account of the deeds of the ascetics, that he who does not desire a woman is like a donkey, or even less than that one, the point being that from the objects of sensation one may apprehend the worship of God.”
(from a lost 14th century Kabbalistic book by R. Isaac ben Shmuel of Acre)
I don’t know more about R. Isaac of Acre than what is shared above. Yet, it seems he was a man who knew a great deal about the world of sensible things as well as the worship of the female divine. Strangely, it appears in subsequent decades and centuries this combination of wisdom drifted apart further and further. It certainly is hard to encounter these days: Looking at our magical community today the experience of the female divine often is replaced by courses on Tantra or abstracted by images of ancient goddesses which hardly relate to the everyday experiences of people in the West. The wisdom of the sensible things on the other hand seems lost even more radically - with doors locked and bolted by layers of untempered hedonism, consumption and materialism built up over centuries of practice in the West.
In times like ours such half-forgotten stories work like trails of breadcrumbs - allowing us to rediscover what we lost long ago. It is stories such as this one that preserve the most simple keys - not to magical techniques or arcane knowledge, but to something even more intimate: to a way of being present in the world that has almost been extinct. By following their trails, by meditating upon them and playfully experimenting with them, we might be able to bring their spirit back to life. To our own lives that is.
So let’s do a joint mediation on the story of the idle man and the princess. Where might its trail of breadcrumbs lead us to?
Well, I guess what stands out at first glance is the idle man doesn’t desire change, nor to become a wise man. All he really desires is the princess - and to do with her as he pleases. His motivation is as straight forward as it could be. Even in order to fulfill it he doesn’t make significant efforts. In fact he doesn’t do anything except for changing his physical location. Rather than sitting idle on the street-corner at the bathhouse he goes to the graveyard and sits amongst the gravestones. This is all the effort he makes; he follows the subjective lead of the princess and it leads him to change his location.
However, it is this change in location that changes the idle man’s experience. Sitting quietly in a busy high street is a very different thing from sitting in a remote place amongst the dead - all through the day, through dusk, night, dawn and so on. It is the graveyard that turns his senses from the outside in - without any effort or coerced will. The key to so many acts of magic is to be present in the right place. Once we arrive in that location to which our desires or fears have led us, truly wonderful things become possible. There is a strange, rarely spoken of power in being present in a certain place. The act of following our fate to lead us to such places and to allow them to transform us could be considered one of the almost forgotten forms of magic.
Still, what allows the idle man to transform himself so completely and quickly is not only the change of location. It is made possible through his simplemindedness. The idle man acts upon instinct, following his heart’s desire without thinking twice. Following our heart certainly doesn’t have to mean to pursue lofty or spiritual goals. For the idle man it means desiring the princess; nothing more or less. He doesn’t question wether she will keep her word and meet him at the graveyard. Not only does he follow her lead unquestioned, but he doesn’t even consider if he understood it correctly. He follows his gut instinct in absence of all other filters.
Here is the second thing we might take from this story: The idle man takes things for face value. He doesn’t differentiate between the vessel he desires and the substance it might contain. Outer appearance and inner being are one and the same for him... That’s why the idle man is safe from doubt. And it is this lack of doubt that gives him the strength and perseverance to sit through day and night with the image of the princess on his mind.
The reason why the idle man is successful in not only finding a place that holds the power to transform him, but in realising its potential, is because he keeps his journey simple. He accepts that the solution is right in front of him, trusting his senses, trusting the sensible world, one step at a time.
Over the course of my life I have seen and followed many princesses. Looking back I am deeply humbled by the places they have brought me to - and the power of transformation I experienced in them. In following my princesses I kept myself on a journey spanning across the better part of my adult life. The fact that very rarely did I get what I thought I would get, never bothered me at all. Following the princess’ lead was good enough for me; creating the necessary amount of perseverance, of not letting go, of staying on track was difficult enough. I was always happy I didn’t need to worry where this would lead me in the end.
Here is what I am learning from the idle man: Our desire for the princess is neither childish nor unnecessary. It is nothing to be ashamed of or to overcome, but exactly the trail of breadcrumbs to follow. The responsibility we hold in this process is to follow our path without bias or preconceived ideas about its results. Fears and desires will lead us to the places where we belong, one place at a time, one life after the other. I guess one of the biggest misunderstandings in mysticism is that we believe we have to work upon ourselves in order to transform ourselves. In so many cases this is not true. What we need to do most often is to follow the princess’ advise - and not to judge where it might lead us or what realistically might come from it.
Sure - by following the princess lead we will almost certainly not achieve what we believed we would. Not holding any preconceived ideas about what we might achieve, could be the only pitfall of this journey. At some point the idle man’s experience at the graveyard had become so fulfilling in itself, so intense and divine, that he was ready to let go of the image of the princess after all... What happened if stopped trying to transform our senses so they are naturally attuned to the divine or sublime? What happened if we allowed them to do what they do best naturally: to speak to us through smell and taste and sight and sound about all the princess’ leads that surround us.
According to Kabbalistic interpretation the physical realm is like a stage where everything is veiled in masks. In this particular case the Shekhinah chose to appear to the idle man in form of a mundane princess. Following her advise unquestioned the man is lead to the graveyard, "the nexus between burial and rebirth" (Moshe Idel, p.224) where his spiritual transformation takes place. The surprising turn of the story is that ultimately his hopes are fulfilled as he encounters the spiritual princess in the end. I guess, it is not for us to choose in which masks the Shekhinah appears to us?
“He who does not desire a woman is like a donkey, or even less than that one, the point being that from the objects of sensation one may apprehend the worship of God.”
In an article this week I read the following statement:
“All human behavior is goal orientated.”
It stood there stated as a fact, merely a lead up to a broader argument about how to use our motivation and drive to achieve certain goals in our lives. It was stated like a biological truth, deeply engraved into our DNA. I had to read the paragraph twice to actually catch it... I guess this was because my own mind had grown so used to take the statement for granted. Things we are deeply familiar with seem to merge with our environment, they become part of the landscape we move through. Like the color of tarmac or the invisibility of our bodies beneath clothes.
So I thought about it - all human behavior is goal orientated. Upon pondering about it I began to realise its distortion. I found many examples of great human achievements for which it is inaccurate: people in love may act based upon compassion, soldiers in an army act based upon orders, medical doctors in contaminated areas act upon self-abandonment. One could argue that a specific goal is even underlying this behaviour - to be loved in return, to win a war, to heal the sick. However, one can also argue that these types of behavior only become possible because these individuals have given up their personal goals. Their actions become possible due to devotion, due to the abandonment of self-centeredness. Wether their love helps them achieve a certain goal might be completely meaningless to the lovers. Wether a war is won might be irrelevant to soldiers caught in bloodlust. And wether a disease is cured can be meaningless to a doctor who has taken the decision to stay behind in a contaminated area with minimal chances of survival. They simply do. Driven by something beyond their personal goals.
So maybe we should turn this statement upside down: great human behaviour emerges once no specific goal is pursued? While writing this I am reminded of my uncle who is a Zen priest. Whenever he visited my parent’s house he used to pause every now and then. He would stare into the air, return and say something like: “I think this moment is asking for a cup of tea.” or “This moment wants reading.” or “This hour is good for a walk.” I always enjoyed his company and was waiting for him to get another of these strange messages in... I found it deeply fascinating that there seemed to be a voice, a wanting, a desire in each moment, which we could give voice to once we abandoned our personal goals and objectives. To hear it, seemed to require a moment of pausing. To listen to it, seemed to require a moment of silence. To bring it through, required an openness to follow its lead, wherever it would take one.
The reason we might be so limited in our actions and pursuits as human beings might be exactly this: Because we orientate too many of our actions towards specific goals. We forget to be open and non-directed. To listen and to be silent.
In my boss' office there is a large whiteboard. On it she wrote a quote from Wallace Stevens: “Perhaps the truth depends on a walk around the lake.” If you set out on this walk around the lake in order to find truth, however, you might just as well stay at your desk. It is the spirit of non-orientation that brings through the unexpected.
In magic there exists a specific practice that requires us to actively assume such a state of non-orientation. All we hold in our mind during these moments is a question, an intent, an open door to the inner worlds for something else to step through. This is the practice of divination. A fortuneteller who has a specific goal on their mind when shuffling the cards or swirling the coffee cup - to please the client, to actually tell the truth, to earn some easy money - will keep all the gates tightly shut. In pursuing the goal of telling the truth the fortuneteller needs to abandon all goals. In order to gain access to a certain place they need to abandon all inner searching. In order for another voice to come through they need to enter into silence. This is the paradox I guess: In order to achieve goals that exceed our limited human consciousness we need to be open to work in blindness. Thus the fortuneteller immerse themselves into blindness, they actively enter a state of not knowing - and allow a simple question to take the lead. The door is swung open once no inner goal is pursued.
Really what this leads us to is the significant difference between scientists and entrepreneurs: All great achievements in science have been made by accident. The scientist accepts that they start out in one direction and may end up in a completely different one. All they can do is to pursue a question. The question is what leads the way. And even the question itself might change. It might change so utterly and completely along the journey that if they had held on to answering it their actual discovery might have never been made...
After all, true scientists and fortunetellers might hold more in common than they believe? They both accept blindness as an integral, an absolutely necessary part of their work. Both of them walk slowly but thoroughly, fumbling for a path in darkness. And both of them accept - in fact necessarily expect - that success is unpredictable. Instead of being the searcher they turn themselves into a part of the path. They may contribute to an insight, a discovery, a realization that will only come through in generations from now. What they discover today might seem meaningless for now, yet turn into a cornerstone of wisdom once more pieces of the puzzle have emerged in the future...
Whenever we pursue a conscious goal we become judgmental. Judgmental of our own and other people’s actions. Judgmental of how the world seems to react to our intent and pursuit. It is exactly this being judgmental, being limited by our own goals what keeps our actual life-journeys so often from unfolding in beauty.
Of course it is incredibly hard to live by the truth that we do not know what or how we are meant to be. It seems incredibly hard at first to keep on walking once you discover the goal you thought you were pursuing doesn't exist. It seems incredibly hard to accept that our lives do not unfold like dashed lines on a treasure map leading up to a huge, hidden cross...
I guess what we truly achieve in life, what we truly leave behind from our pursuits is not wether we achieved what we believed to be our goals, but how conscious and kind, how open and curious we remained along the way. As magicians we can make an exponential increase in the success of our rites and workings if we give up on the idea of success altogether. It's one of the thresholds every magician needs to step over: to understand that it is not them who is on a journey, but that it is them who is part of the path. It's the walker that remains the secret.
'If you want to begin something new, don’t be afraid to start as a spark.
Don’t be afraid of weakness. All great things begin as a seed in the dark.'
This is what an inner contact recently said to me. I guess I had come to ask for advise without knowing... The last months have been really intense. They began to change my approach to magic more radically than many years of practice had done before. So much is going on in fact I cannot predict at all where these tides will take me in the long-run. Actually I might not be making any progress at all - instead I might have started to go backwards? I guess thinking of progress in a linear way is another one of the concepts I’ll need to give up in order to move forward.
If I pause and look back at the last six months or so there are a few insights and dynamics that dominated my practice. Of course there is no need to be redundant, to share things that have already been written about in longer books or better blogs. Except for the books of Josephine McCarthy, however, nothing had prepared me for these experiences and changes. You won't find mentioning of them in Eliphas Levi's, Crowley's writings, Papus' or most of the other authorities on ritual magic. I really wonder why though? Now, that I have been through them - or that I am still right in the middle of them - they seem so obvious, so logic and basic with regards to HOW magic works, that I wonder why they don't build cornerstones of your average Zelator training? Either way, here are four simple facts I believe many books on ritual magic are missing:
- The Direction of Power: The fact that magic increasingly is about supporting beings around me, rather than refining myself. The latter might come as an effect of the former, yet it certainly isn’t the goal any longer nor does it seem to be important to the beings I work with. How well I perceive the spirits through my mind, how clearly I see them in vision or wether I maintain certain ritual structures seems of ridiculously little importance to them. It seems as a magician I have left the centre of the magical circle a long time ago? Instead I am now working on the periphery - together with many other beings whose origins or names I do not even begin to understand. The center of the circle actually is what we all build together.
- The Access to Power: The fact that I am often shut down from access to magical power. In my previous approach to magic maximizing and maintaining my access to magical power was of critical importance. You could have argued it was the central pillar most of my work as a student revolved around. Continuously increasing my access to magical power seemed the natural end of all my efforts. Because where is a car supposed to go should it run out of fuel? Well, the recent experiences changed my view on this subject so radically that the ‘fuel analogy’ of magical power clearly doesn’t work for me anymore... Today it is much more like working with hazardous or radiating material - exposure to it needs to be limited and all actions in its proximity need to be coordinated and well executed. Short periods of intense concentration and work with huge amount of powers alternate with longer periods without any line of sight to the impact of my actions. When to alternate between these two states is not determined by myself but by the beings that oversee the work I am involved in.
- The Recovery from Holding Power: The fact that when I do magical work I often need weeks to recover from and digest the actions that seemed minor when performed. I guess this one is closely linked to the point above? However, what stands out here is that the actual magical acts I am asked to perform really may seem negligible from the outside: A fifteen minute mediation in my temple while unblocking a gate of power, inviting a new contact to sit with me in the temple and consecrate an object in silence, feeding the spirits present with the substances they ask for - flowers, salt, water, ashes, oil, etc. - keeping a flame and incense burning outside the house, keeping a shrine activated over night when I go to bed, even just sitting in the living room above my temple simply writing things down like I am doing right now... As simple and pure as this might sound, it is quite a challenging experience as it continues to blur the line between laziness and renewal. I guess especially as a German we like some proper engineering and control over our processes. Working in service without being able to see the whole pattern therefore can be deeply unsettling at times.
- The Outer Emergence of Power: The fact that my perception of my day job - and potentially my actions while working in it - become increasingly magical. I find myself in rooms with people, in conversations on the phone or over dinner that seem like gathering in temples. It is the energy and spiritual presence that I only knew from working in temples that suddenly appears in public. Or maybe I am just beginning to see it? Even my personal goals at work, my own vision of who I am in this job, why I am here and what the work is I need to contribute to, they become increasingly magical. The meaning of my work is growing much deeper roots in my own mind - while potentially staying exactly the same on the outside. Or maybe not? Time and the people I work with will tell.
At the end of the day experiencing these four facts has clearly sent me back to primary school. It doesn’t seem to be the exact same primary school I used to be in 15 years ago. Yet it is primary school nonetheless: I am surrounded by beings who all seem much smarter than me; I have been given work that I hardly comprehend; I have no idea where I am going but everybody else seems to know it exactly - and really small things often take huge amount of efforts... like writing an ‘A’ or summing up 2 and 2 or walking on a balance beam.
The only difference is there are absolutely no grades round here. I have absolutely no idea how I am doing. We simply all sit in class and get along with the work. The quality of output or how we get on with things is never discussed. And maybe - besides all the things I believe we are actually achieving together - this is why I am sitting in this strange primary school class again while being bald, middle aged and getting older each day... To let go of the need to know how I am doing.