Re: [Glorantha] Mysticism

From: Kevin P. McDonald <paul_mcdonald_at_ncsu.edu>
Date: Thu, 15 Apr 2004 10:16:53 -0400


Peter M. writes:

>Good mystics don't have powers as their mystical insight is materially
>useless. Not-so-good mystics may have some but they should be trying
>to get rid of it.
>
I would rather say "Good mystics don't use their powers, which are considered just another manifestation of the illusory world."

The reason I say this is based on my understanding of Tibetan Buddhism, where it is thought that as you advance in your spiritual practice you gain magical powers - clairvoyance, levitation, the ability to walk through walls, etc. These powers naturally become available as a side effect of yogic mind training, but are not directly related to spiritual insight. They may be useful or pleasant, but they are ultimately unimportant. A good TB practitioner never speaks of his own powers, though.. The disciples of a teacher may attribute powers to their beloved guru, but the guru recognizes the trap that dwelling on them pose to spiritual progress - egotism. A spiritual practitioner who becomes obsessed with blissful experiences or magical powers becomes distracted from the goal of enlightenment. The experiences and powers are not inherently evil, though. They are just a distraction.

Once the master has achieved enlightenment, however, all bets are off. After his enlightenment the Buddha remained in the world out of selfless compassion. He trained others in the path he (re)discovered, and used his magical powers when appropriate to that goal. Because he had no ego remaining that might suffer temptation, there was no reason to avoid using his powers. Now it is certainly possible that from a gloranthan POV the Buddha is a failed mystic, but his followers would certainly not see it that way! And who ultimately knows for sure? I don't think carving the answer in stone helps gloranthan storytelling get any easier or better. I much prefer to leave such issues open.

So... IMO the failed mystic is a person who has allowed him/herself to become distracted by bliss or power, and has lost sight of (or wholly abandoned) the true goal of mysticism. His or her ego has grown out of control instead of being destroyed. Such a person might have terrible powers, like some Illuminates in peloria who can act as they wish, ignore spirits of reprisal, and still gain magic from their god(s). Sheng might be such a failed mystic, wielding powers discovered during his mystical training that subsequently became an obsession.

Just food for thought...

~Kevin McD

--__--__-- Received on Fri 16 Apr 2004 - 06:26:33 EEST

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