Monday, October 16, 2017

The Path of Initiation - The Three Veils

This article is Part Nineteen of a series. Part One can be found here, Part Two can be found here, Part Three can be found here, Part Four can be found here, Part Five can be found here, Part Six can be found here, Part Seven can be found here, Part Eight can be found here, Part Nine can be found here, Part Ten can be found here, Part Eleven can be found here, Part Twelve can be found here, Part Thirteen can be found here, Part Fourteen can be found here, Part Fifteen can be found here, Part Sixteen can be found here, Part Seventeen can be found here, and Part Eighteen can be found here.

Initiation into the Three Veils of Negative Existence is the final step on the path of initiation into the mysteries of Western Esotericism. This realization lies beyond all formal degrees and classifications, and the corresponding mystical vision is "The Supreme Attainment, or Vision of No Difference." The Three Veils also lie beyond the sephiroth, as they form the complement to the "positive existence" of the potential and manifest universe - that is, the force that we refer to as God prior to manifestation into any particular spiritual realm.

The Three Veils are called Ain, Ain Soph, and Ain Soph Aur. Ain means nothing, Ain Soph means limitlessness, and Ain Soph Aur means endless or limitless light. In Liber 777, the Three Veils have the key scale value of 0 and have few defined attributions. But this is because in a sense, they correspond to any and all attributions, even those outside what we generally consider our spiritual universe.

As with practical magick, aligning the macrocosmic and microcosmic components of the spiritual path is the key to experiencing effective illumination and visionary work. Hence, I use the operant field in these rites just like I do for practical workings. This allows you to integrate magical principles and forces into your life more quickly and effectively.

Always keep track of any changes you observe following illuminating and visionary experiences, and do your best to see if the changes you are seeing from your work are going in a positive direction. Stories of magicians "going insane" from failed operations are highly exaggerated - most often, nothing happens, and the danger lies in being convinced that something did happen and then acting from that perspective.

As with the last couple of articles in this series, keep in mind that I am writing from my research into the Thelemic tradition rather than personal experience. I do not even consider myself a Master of the Temple, let alone an Ipsissimus. As such, there may come a time where I look back on articles like this one and decide that I was totally wrong and I had no idea what I was talking about. So continue to bear that in mind.

And, in fact, the Western Esoteric Tradition itself has little to say about this line of practice. The "Vision of No Difference," after all, is in a sense the supreme manifestation of the Thelemic 0=2 formula. This is the idea that all sets of opposites are simultaneously dualistic concepts and the collapse of those concepts into nothingness or perhaps more properly emptiness.

This is even mirrored in the physical universe - according to quantum physics, an apparent vacuum is composed of particle/antiparticle pairs that are constantly emerging from apparent nothingness and then annihilating each other. In effect, those particles pairs truly are "divided for love's sake, for the chance of union" as is written in The Book of the Law.

The key to the Vision of No Difference is the realization of what the Buddhists call the primordial or unconditioned mind. In the Buddhist system, practices such as Dzogchen and Mahamudra are undertaken to cultivate this realization directly. What I can tell you from my own practice is this - there is a point during meditation where wandering thoughts drop away and the mind feels illuminated by a sort of inner light.

It is important to understand that this is not an enforced "emptiness of mind." This experience cannot be forced, but rather it must arise on its own. One of the biggest errors I see meditators make is based around the idea that in order to meditate you must forcefully empty your mind and hold nothing in your thoughts but some sort of blank nothingness. But that is not how it works at all.

As an aside, a number of years ago there was a sect in Japan that taught blank nothingness as the ideal meditative state. Their leader claimed that he could be hooked up to an EEG machine and entirely halt his brainwaves, which meant that he had mastered this state. That sect was Aum Shinrikyo, and you may remember them as the group behind a terrorist attack in which they released sarin gas into the Tokyo subway system. Don't practice like Aum Shinrikyo.

At any rate, in the beginning your thoughts will wander, but there's nothing wrong with that. Just redirect you attention to your focus, usually your breath, and leave it at that. Eventually this will become easier and easier until it no longer happens very much - just by virtue of acclimatization to the meditative state of consciousness. Once you get to that point, redirect your awareness upwards and outwards, and if you do it right, the state just "clicks."

At this point I have only ever been able to experience it for a couple of minutes at a time, and it should be noted that this does not make me an Ipsissimus or something like that. You can experience even the highest spiritual states at just about any point in your practice, and in order to truly be "Initiated" at that level you have to be able to stabilize the realization. My hope is that once I complete more of the path, I'll be able to do it better and more reliably.

And really, that's why you walk the path in the first place. At each stage, all of the prior stages meld together to form a foundation for all of your subsequent work. Much like building a structure, you start with the foundation and work upwards - and your foundation needs to be as firm and solid as it can possibly be in order to best facilitate the most advanced work.

For this operation, the core of the previous rites has been removed. You still open the space with the operant field and perform the preliminary invocation, but basically that's it from a ceremonial perspective. The magical technique for this realization consists primarily of meditation - but I am convinced that adding the ceremonial elements of the opening, preliminary invocation, and closing will help to make that meditation far more successful and effective.

0. The Temple

Place a small altar to the east with the banishing dagger and invoking wand. Place a chair or cushion in the center of the space for meditation.

1. Opening

Open the magical field using the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram and Lesser Ritual of the Hexagram, Star Ruby and Star Sapphire, or the Field Ritual. The usual field for practical work is the operant field, with banishing pentagrams and invoking hexagrams.

2. Preliminary Invocation

Raise energy using the Middle Pillar, Elevenfold Seal (the "First Gesture" from Liber V vel Reguli), or some other appropriate ritual method as you may know how to do.

Make the Sign of Apophis and Typhon, raising both arms and holding them straight with an angle between them of 60 degrees, and proclaim, very strongly:

Thee I invoke, who art Universe!
Thee I invoke, who art in Nature formed!
Thee I invoke, the vast and the mighty!
Source of Darkness, Source of Light.

Then make the Sign of Silence, by standing straight with one arm at your side and placing your thumb or forefinger to your lips.

3. The Supreme Attainment

Begin with basic mindfulness meditation, focusing on the breath. Once your focus is solid and your wandering thoughts have mostly subsided, direct your awareness upwards and outwards. When it works, you'll know it. It's simple - but "simple" and "easy" can sometimes be worlds apart.

4. Closing

The ritual should be closed with the Qabalistic Cross.

At this point there are no spirits to test, numbers to calculate, or words to analyze. The experience, when you have it, should speak for itself.

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