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inkwell.vue.220 : Jay Kinney, _The Inner West_
permalink #26 of 100: Uncle Jax (jax) Sun 1 Aug 04 12:22
    
Resurgence in Kabbalah is part and parcel of people in a luxury-ridden
global empire seeking relief from their weltschmerz!
  
inkwell.vue.220 : Jay Kinney, _The Inner West_
permalink #27 of 100: Bobby Lilly (bobbyl) Sun 1 Aug 04 13:28
    
Uncle Jax writes; "Resurgence in Kabbalah is part and parcel of people
in a luxury-ridden global empire seeking relief from their
weltschmerz."

Makes sense to me.  But a pervasive sadness at the condition of the
world is not a bad beginning place for those of us living in a
luxury-ridden global empire nor does it mean that it will absolve us
from complicity in what has been done in our name to others around the
world or the need to take action against the juggernaut of Empire. 
Perhaps some may use it as an escape but that does not invalidate the
truths that it and other traditions might have for us if we looked with
open minds and hearts.

Yes, in the world of commodification in which we live, even the search
for spiritual truth can be co-opted but that doesn't invalidate
underlying truths which, if understood, could help inform us as we seek
to transform what is into something better. Robert Richardson's
article on the the Knights Templar and Richard Smoley's article about
the origin of Freemasonry both give examples of how a "spiritual" focus
can move out into and transform the world.  
  
inkwell.vue.220 : Jay Kinney, _The Inner West_
permalink #28 of 100: Bobby Lilly (bobbyl) Sun 1 Aug 04 13:30
    
Sorry, I need to re-read what I write better before posting ;-).  Both
of the articles I mentioned are in Jay's book _the Inner West_
  
inkwell.vue.220 : Jay Kinney, _The Inner West_
permalink #29 of 100: Jay Kinney (jay-kinney) Sun 1 Aug 04 17:45
    
I couldn't have said it better myself, Bobby. Maybe we should ghost
write for each other! <g>
  
inkwell.vue.220 : Jay Kinney, _The Inner West_
permalink #30 of 100: Kindness does not require an infrastructure (chrys) Sun 1 Aug 04 19:25
    
It is interesting to me that we have long made geographical boundaries
(East & West being the broadest of these) for spiritual traditions. 
Today we live in a world where many of these boundaries are nearly
irrelevant. 

Jay, what do you think is the impact of traditions not necessarily
being 'grounded' in their geography?  (One thing that comes to mind for
me is the superfical adoption of 'traditions' by those one might
consider 'new age'.)

And what do you think are the challenges and benefits to the searcher
who is not limited by geographic boundaries?  
  
inkwell.vue.220 : Jay Kinney, _The Inner West_
permalink #31 of 100: Uncle Jax (jax) Sun 1 Aug 04 19:36
    
> But a pervasive sadness at the condition of the world is not a bad
> beginning place for those of us living in a luxury-ridden global
> empire

Quite true, that was the beginning place for a young prince named
Siddharta some years back ... :-)
  
inkwell.vue.220 : Jay Kinney, _The Inner West_
permalink #32 of 100: Bobby Lilly (bobbyl) Mon 2 Aug 04 05:58
    
Jay,
Reading the book, I found the language very dense at times but
understandable with some effort.  (Mind you I was profoundly ignorance
of all these subjects before I read your book ;-).  And, because your
authors were dealing with very complex subjects, I found myself
searching Google time after time to gain a more in depth perspective
throughout the book. Thank goodness I could just plug in a word and out
came everything I needed to know.  It's a great aid when diving into
such complicated subject matter.  

In his article _The Quest for Spiritual Freedom: the Gnostic World
View_ Stephan A. Hoeller expounds in your book _The Inner West_ on the
Gnostic concept of the flawed creator, the Demiurge, who shaped the
already existing divine essence of the True God into the the equally
flawed material reality of our existence.  

Hoeller wrote; "Since he took the already existing divine essence and
fashioned it into various forms, he is also called the Demiurgos or
"half-maker."   

However, after Googling on the subject, I have one nit to pick about
Hoeller's definition.  According to Wikipedia; "the name Demiurge is
actually derived from the ancient Greek
&#948;&#951;&#956;&#953;&#959;&#965;&#961;&#947;&#972;&#96
2;
(démiourgos), meaning an artisan or craftsman. (This word in turn comes
from &#948;&#942;&#956;&#953;&#959;&#962; "official" which in turn
comes from &#948;&#8134;&#956;&#959;&#962; "people" and
&#941;&#961;&#947;&#959;&#957; meaning "creation" or "piece of work".) 
There is no reference to "half-maker" anywhere in their description.  

Can you shed any light on the apparent contradiction in the two
definitions?  Or, is this just the kind of differing interpretation one
must expect from scholars trying to study its roots in antiquity?    
  
inkwell.vue.220 : Jay Kinney, _The Inner West_
permalink #33 of 100: gary (ggg) Mon 2 Aug 04 08:32
    
i'm under your spell, and just surfacing to footnote <24>, ending comment
therein about Christianity.  it's interesting to acknowledge that, alongside
the persecution, crusades, inquisitions, of the church against the infidels,
the Bogomils, the Cathars, the alchymists, and so on, the church also became
a vehicle for preserving some of these traditons, albeit somewhat
unwittingly, like a huge creature hosting symbiotic organisms.

some excellent accounts of the gnostics can be found in the writings of such
church fathers as origen.  like, if he was so against them all, why did he
go to such lengths to quote them so well?  maybe he was just being fair, or
maybe he was also somewhat of a closet gnostic himself?

perhaps a better example might be the example offered by fulcanelli, in his
book The Mystery of the Cathedrals, where we find definite alchemical
lore being preserved and transmitted through decorations within european
churches (somewhat akin to preservation of lore through playing cards; the
tarot).  he points out examples in notre dame.  having visited the cathedral
at autun, without any foreknowledge of any of this, and experiencing this
for myself, my hosts were very amiable afterwards at the sheer wonder of how
this sculptor ghislebertus [sic?] could have engraved so much ostensibly
non-christian tradition within the christian tradition -- both in such
christian iconography as the three magi, as well as in such non-christian
iconography as some of the goofier images (more like out of bosch).

and yes at this point it's interesting to note the confluence and
interchange 'twixt 'east' and 'west,
as we begin to sense actual foottraffic, trade routes, as well as the
influence that's 'in the air,' -- the drafts.
there's probably some family onh the border of buda and pest in whose
basement the actual division between 'east' and 'west' traditionally runs,
and what they got stashed down there besides, one can only wonder.  when i
was taught hebrew for bar mitzva, it became clear that this wasn't exactly a
an anglo saxon variant, yet it's been treated as 'western.'  go figure.
  
inkwell.vue.220 : Jay Kinney, _The Inner West_
permalink #34 of 100: Jay Kinney (jay-kinney) Mon 2 Aug 04 12:07
    
chrys wondered: "Jay, what do you think is the impact of traditions
not necessarily being 'grounded' in their geography? ...And what do you
think are the challenges and benefits to the searcher who is not
limited by geographic boundaries?"

You know, it occurs to me that I should clarify something about my
attitude towards traditions. At least in the spiritual arena where
we're talking about heightening of awareness and compassion, I don't
think that "traditions" per se are necessarily superior to
nontraditional approaches. I'm enough of a pragmatist to favor
"whatever works" for someone. However, I've chosen to largely champion
traditions because I do think that surviving traditions tend to have
built-in safe-guards or guard rails that help keep the unwary neophyte
from sliding into the abyss. 

But back to chrys's questions. While a tradition typically develops in
a certain location and cultural matrix, it often doesn't take long for
it to spread to other places. That can be perfectly fine if the
tradition adapts to other locations in a way that speaks to the people
there and if it is able to maintain its potency. The risk, of course,
is that certain of its features, removed from their original context,
may become distorted or meaningless or even counterproductive. 

With our present ability to go nearly anywhere, the planet has shrunk
to a point that the various traditions of the world are spread before
us like an all-you-can-eat smorgasboard. One potential danger of that
is that it makes it easy to pick and choose a tidbit from this
tradition and another from that, and so on. (New Agers were notorious
for that.) However, I think the most value comes from really engaging
with a tradition and living it. That is easier said than done, of
course. 

The premise behind _The Inner West_ as an anthology is that those
traditions of our own background (speaking here as someone of Western
ancestry who was raised in the West) *may* speak to us more effectively
precisely because they utilize a vocabulary of symbols and ideas that
have a certain resonance for us. 

For instance, I recall back in 1978 when I was visiting Munich and was
in their art museum looking at Medieval art. There was a little
statuette of what looked like a naked woman covered with curly pubic
hair. I found that exceedingly strange. Then I looked closer and noted
that it was a depiction of Mary Magdalene. And that set me off on an
enquiry: why would MM be portrayed like that? There was something oddly
numinous about that conjuncture of the familiar and the strange.

Of course I later found out that MM was traditionally depicted as a
hermitess, often contemplating a skull, with a little container of oil
(referring to her legend of oiling Jesus's feet) and, in some cases,
unshorn hair as would befit the legend of her traveling to Europe and
going into seclusion. 

But that encounter in the museum got me thinking that there is plenty
of intriguing strangeness right beneath our own noses. If the statuette
had been of some Asian goddess or Kwan Yin I don't think it would have
struck me in the same way, because I would have just credited it to
another distant culture whose ways I didn't understand.
  
inkwell.vue.220 : Jay Kinney, _The Inner West_
permalink #35 of 100: Jay Kinney (jay-kinney) Mon 2 Aug 04 12:22
    
Bobby, my own understanding of "Demiurge," off the top of my head, is
that the term was originally used in ancient Greek philosophy to refer
to a craftsmanlike creator god who brought the world into being but who
had a lower cosmological status than the One, the pure divine Essence
which is outside space and time. I believe that this idea was utilized
by the Gnostics to critique the traditional Judaeo-Christian God, who
they assumed must be a Demiurge mistakenly thinking that He was the
ultimate God. 

Hoeller's rendering of this as "half-maker" is perhaps too literal. I
suspect the Demi was more refering to mid-way or partial. 

But, like I say, I'm positing all this without going to my reference
books, so I might be only demi-correct. 
  
inkwell.vue.220 : Jay Kinney, _The Inner West_
permalink #36 of 100: Jay Kinney (jay-kinney) Mon 2 Aug 04 12:26
    
gary, yes, some of the components of the esoteric traditions have been
carried within the exoteric shell of the Church, etc. Indeed, some of
the greatest mystics (Meister Eckhart, for instance) were monks or
nuns, more or less directly answerable to Rome. So, I don't mean to set
up too absolute a split between the Church and the inner traditions.
Your examples are all relevant. 
  
inkwell.vue.220 : Jay Kinney, _The Inner West_
permalink #37 of 100: Bobby Lilly (bobbyl) Mon 2 Aug 04 14:32
    
I see the Greek alphabet didn't come in my last post, sorry for all
that weird code ;-).  Serendipitously, even as Jay was writing; "I
think the most value comes from really engaging with a tradition and
living it. That is easier said than done, of course."  that I received
an e-mail pointing to a new article about sufism by Peter Lamborn
Wilson (he edited the journal of the Iranian Royal Academy of
Philosophy in Tehran) the link was: 
http://nthposition.com/iranorpersia.php.  Here's one fragment from it
for anyone interested:  "Under conditions of overwhelming oppression
the dervish becomes rendi, that is to say, clever. A rend can drink
wine under the very nose of the Law and get away with it. The rend is a
secret agent of self-illumination, a strange combination of mystic
monk and prankish surrealist. Perhaps this is where Gurdjieff found his
notion of the "clever one" who avoids onerous paths of religion and
yoga, and slips into heaven like a burglar, so to speak. In folklore,
the rend becomes a comic figure like the famous Mulla Nasroddin,
outwardly a fool but in truth a sage. Hopefully, the link to
nthposition.com will come through legibly.
  
inkwell.vue.220 : Jay Kinney, _The Inner West_
permalink #38 of 100: Uncle Jax (jax) Mon 2 Aug 04 15:06
    
>Under conditions of overwhelming oppression the dervish becomes
>rendi, that is to say, clever. A rend can drink wine under the very
>nose of the Law and get away with it. The rend is a secret agent of
>self-illumination, a strange combination of mystic monk and prankish
>surrealist.

Yeah, that's the Abbie Hoffman - YIPPIE doctrine!
  
inkwell.vue.220 : Jay Kinney, _The Inner West_
permalink #39 of 100: Jay Kinney (jay-kinney) Mon 2 Aug 04 16:48
    
Wilson's memoirs are great. Thanks for the pointer to that piece. If
GNOSIS were still going I'd publish it in a heartbeat. It's indicative
of the state of publishing that he's consigned to putting it up on a
website. (Of course that makes it easily accessible and free, so who's
complaining?)
  
inkwell.vue.220 : Jay Kinney, _The Inner West_
permalink #40 of 100: Bobby Lilly (bobbyl) Tue 3 Aug 04 13:19
    
Jay,

Reading your book has given me a great deal to ponder as well as
raised some questions in my mind.  Because of the way I found my
connection to/understanding of the universal ;-), the need for ritual
and community that seem to be so much a part of the groups in your book
isn't so obvious to me.  I know I feel no need for in myself for
ritualistic reminders or a like minded community to support a
particular belief system and, therefore, wonder at the ubiquity of
both.Can you speak to the need for each and whether you see them as
necessary components or not of a spiritual life?  
  
inkwell.vue.220 : Jay Kinney, _The Inner West_
permalink #41 of 100: Jay Kinney (jay-kinney) Tue 3 Aug 04 18:17
    
That depends on what one means by a "spiritual life." I'm not a big
fan of a certain self-conscious kind of spirituality where one is all
dressed in white or whatever and acts cloyingly sweet to everyone and
so on. But I realize that's not what you mean by the phrase anyway. ;-)

So, if we arbitrarily define a spiritual life as a life in which one
feels connected to the greater whole and tries to live in the light of
that connection, ritual or community may not be necessary for everyone.
Ritual can be helpful for fostering a certain state of mind, but that
doesn't always work for everyone. And if one has been lucky enough to
achieve a certain consciousness (though "achieve" is not always the
best word) ritual may be superfluous or even a bring-down. 

Community is always helpful and if one is trying to work with a
specific teaching, it is important to have a teacher or guide to
consult with if one hits certain bumps in the road. And it is helpful
to have friends who share your values or interests. If you don't, then
things can get pretty lonely. 
  
inkwell.vue.220 : Jay Kinney, _The Inner West_
permalink #42 of 100: Bobby Lilly (bobbyl) Wed 4 Aug 04 08:09
    
Reading your book, I was struck by the historical focus in most of the
articles about the various traditions.  Yet, when I re-read the the
article, Explaining Wicca, what jumped out at me was the immediacy of
Judy Harrow's writing and the straight forward way she explained her
belief system.  Reading her article I knew I was reading about a
tradition that was alive in the world today.  

In your last post, you wrote about community and how alone it must be
without friends to share with.  I'll bet there are many people
searching for such community who don't have any idea where to search
out alternatives to the mainstream for those with such needs/interests.
I expect we've all heard about the resurgence of Kabbalah these days
but what else is out there where people who are searching could find
that sense of community?
  
inkwell.vue.220 : Jay Kinney, _The Inner West_
permalink #43 of 100: Jay Kinney (jay-kinney) Wed 4 Aug 04 12:13
    
Bobby, most of the articles took a historical focus because it is the
nature of a tradition to come from the past into the present. So I
thought that a historical approach would help explain the different
traditions. 

You are right that Judy's article stands out as being present-based.
That's how it was originally written and it was good enough that I ran
it as is. 

I think that sense of community is there, sometimes just on a
small-scale local basis, sometimes on a more international basis, with
many of the traditions covered in The Inner West.

A little diligent searching, online, in local holistic directories, by
checking out flyers in metaphysical bookstores, can help one find such
groups.  But, for instance, there are numerous Sufi orders around;
some Christian ministers have been trying to draw upon more esoteric
and mystical material in their churches; there's no scarcity of magical
orders; there are societies based on the teachings of Blavatsky,
Steiner, Swedenborg, Gurdjieff, and there are numerous Masonic lodges
which provide a sense of community (though the amount of interest in
inner traditions can vary from lodge to lodge.)

One needs to be discerning and stay in touch with what one is really
looking for because as with all ad hoc groupings, some may be more
cult-like than one would prefer and some may make big promises beyond
what they can really deliver. 

Good news, by the way: I just got word that the book has gone into its
3rd printing! Not too bad for a book that's only been out for 6 weeks
or so.
  
inkwell.vue.220 : Jay Kinney, _The Inner West_
permalink #44 of 100: Bobby Lilly (bobbyl) Wed 4 Aug 04 13:35
    
One hears all kinds of horror stores about "cults" and I can imagine
it would be difficult for seekers to discern between those groups that
can help one develop spiritually and those that just want to control
one's life.  And, I suppose the group that might be most valuable to
one may stifle the understanding of another so it makes sense for
people who are searching to be thoughtful and retain a seed of
scepticism even as they are being asked to believe.  

Congratulations on the news about the book.  I think it richly
deserves all the attention it can get and know that its readership will
find the articles enjoyable as well as informative.

As a long-term feminist, the name of Sophia, the Goddess of Wisdom,
was new to me and Caitlin Matthews' article about her was eye opening. 
My childhood was spent in a Christian world (Methodism) in which the
one God was a jealous Father and yet for the past twenty years I found
myself speaking of (and to) the Goddess whenever I addressed the
divine.  

I didn't know who she was but my feminism pushed me in her direction. 
Caitlin wrote; "But although the figure of the Goddess has been in
eclipse until this century, she has not been inactive.  She has been
working away like yeast within the chewy dough of daily bread."  What
wonderful imagery to offer the reader.

Can you address how Sophia fits into the West's hidden traditions for
our readers since from the article it seems she is part of any number
of traditions.
  
inkwell.vue.220 : Jay Kinney, _The Inner West_
permalink #45 of 100: Jay Kinney (jay-kinney) Wed 4 Aug 04 16:16
    
Sophia (Greek for wisdom) occupies an interesting position. She was an
ancient goddess, on the one hand, but also a feminine aspect of the
divine in early Gnosticism. One can see the references to Wisdom,
characterized as feminine, in the Song of Songs in the Bible as
referring to Sophia. 

Caitlin was perhaps being a mite reductionist in saying that all
manifestations of the divine feminine were (or are) manifestations of
Sophia, but her underlying point still stands: those aspects of God or
the divine that have commonly been labeled feminine (Mercy,
all-accepting Love, Forgiveness, Comforting, Wisdom) have tended to get
short shrift from institutional religion. 

And interestingly enough, it is precisely the hidden traditions that
have often rectified this imbalance by making a place for Sophia or the
feminine. It's there in Gnosticism, in Kabbalah, in Alchemy, in Sufism
(which speaks of the divine as the Beloved), and so on. 
  
inkwell.vue.220 : Jay Kinney, _The Inner West_
permalink #46 of 100: Dennis Wilen (the-voidmstr) Wed 4 Aug 04 16:40
    
"Sophia"? 

In the Song of Songs?

cite, please
  
inkwell.vue.220 : Jay Kinney, _The Inner West_
permalink #47 of 100: Jay Kinney (jay-kinney) Thu 5 Aug 04 08:42
    
It's all a matter of how one reads the text. The most obvious
interpretation is that the Song of Songs is love poetry between the
Shulammite and Solomon (or just between an unidentified man and woman).
But another possible interpretation is of an exchange between Solomon
and Wisdom. There's one verse in particular that stands out: "Who is
this that looks forth like the dawn, fair as the moon, bright as the
sun, terrible as an army with banners?" (There are other traditional
interpretations as well, such as it being an expression of love between
the Lord and Israel or between God and the Church.)

However, there is no overt reference to Wisdom in the book and anyone
would be justified in claiming the Wisdom interpretation is a stretch.
Not having cracked the Bible in awhile, I erred above in implying overt
references to Wisdom in the Song of Songs. My memory conflated the
feminine voice in that book with the references to Wisdom in Proverbs,
such as in Chapter 8. Sorry about that.

But you may want to ponder Proverbs 8:22-31. Here we do have a
"feminine" Wisdom noting that she was created by the Lord before the
beginning of the Earth and that "when he marked out the foundations of
the earth, then I was beside him, like a master worker; and I was daily
his delight, rejoicing before him always..." 

My feeling on working with this material is that we are not dealing
with clear cut entities whose identities are always spelled out. Rather
one is glimpsing recurring archetypal images and metaphors whose
meanings are very much a personal subjective matter to each individual.
It's very much like listening to poetry: there's what the poet may
have intended to convey and then there's what each listener gets from
it. They are often not the same thing, but each of them is "correct" in
some sense.
  
inkwell.vue.220 : Jay Kinney, _The Inner West_
permalink #48 of 100: Bobby Lilly (bobbyl) Thu 5 Aug 04 10:44
    
You wrote; "It's very much like listening to poetry: there's what the
poet may have intended to convey and then there's what each listener
gets from it. They are often not the same thing, but each of them is
"correct" in some sense."  The spiritual quest itself is much like
that, isn't it?  There are many truths and all paths can lead to
understanding.  The listener just needs to be able to listen with an
open heart and mind.  

I know in my dark years, I clung to on-line versions of the IChing and
Tarot.  I'd never been one for the art of divination but found that I
somehow drew a strange sense of comfort from the replies I got when I
asked my questions and they were lifelines speaking to me when I could
not comprehend why my life had been destroyed the way it had been.  

The wisdom of the Sage, speaking to me thru the IChing, helped me
maintain a focus on acting and thinking rightly in difficult
circumstances and the symbols of the Tarot cards spoke to me about how
to understand what had happened to me and what paths I should take from
then on.  

It's fascinating to look back and see just how often I drew certain
cards.  The Hermit, the Fool and Death seemed to predominate, at least
early on, but I also saw the Star and the Knight of Wands enough to
learn the lessons they had to teach.  Whether or not these mechanisms
were "really" answering the questions I had made no difference, my mind
could interpret them in ways that helped me to not only survive a
devastating experience but grow as well. 
  
inkwell.vue.220 : Jay Kinney, _The Inner West_
permalink #49 of 100: Jay Kinney (jay-kinney) Thu 5 Aug 04 11:33
    
Bobby, you wrote:

"Whether or not these mechanisms were 'really' answering the questions
I had made no difference, my mind could interpret them in ways that
helped me to not only survive a devastating experience but grow as
well."

Exactly...and that's where I think a lot of skeptics bark up the wrong
trees. Especially in cases like the I Ching or Tarot or even
Astrology, one is using external "systems" to allow one to know one's
own feelings or intentions or situation - all of which may be veiled
from one's conscious mind. It's basically a "game" one plays with one's
unconscious psyche. 

And that's also the case, to a certain extent, with spiritual systems
or scriptures, etc. For instance, do I think that "God" literally
created the universe in 6 days or that there was a historic couple
named Adam and Eve in a literal Garden of Eden? No. But, I do think
that those stories or others like them have a certain symbolic or
metaphysical import that is worth engaging with. Creationists totally
miss the point and look at them as literal history. And strict
evolutionists dismiss them as unscientific malarky. It's the blind men
and the elephant, over and over again.

In saying all this I'm not intending to reduce spirituality down to a
"game" one plays with one's psyche. Rather, I think that we are engaged
in a 3-way hide and seek between our psyche, the universe, and an
underlying order or intelligence or consciousness. 
  
inkwell.vue.220 : Jay Kinney, _The Inner West_
permalink #50 of 100: Bobby Lilly (bobbyl) Thu 5 Aug 04 13:37
    
Jay,

That last paragraph really rang true for me ;-).  

But, I want to move away from the subline and bring it down to the
personal for a minute.  I've been curious about the history that led
you to become who you are today.  I would guess that one of the most
important phases was your editorship of Gnosis.  Can you talk a little
about your involvement with the magazine?  Why did you decide to start
it in the first place, what was it that make you stick to that task for
14 long years and, last but not least, why did it all end?  Any funny
or enlightening stories to tell us about the whole experience?  

I've only just met you here on-line through this dialogue, so I'm
really curious about WHO you are.  What are you like in person?  How
would you describe yourself these days?  What stirs your passions or
makes you want to do something?  

So, here's your opportunity to expose that side of yourself to our
readers.  I'm sure others are as curious as me about where you started
out as well as what shaped your growth and how you are "different"
today...and, please, don't forget the "juicy parts"
 ;-).
  

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