[Glorantha]Re: Glorantha digest, Vol 10 #98 - 6 msgs

From: Kevin P. McDonald <paul_mcdonald_at_ncsu.edu>
Date: Sat, 17 Apr 2004 09:45:41 -0400


Mikko R. writes:

>Oh, and thank you Kevin for the info on Tibetan mysticism.
>
>
You are most welcome! My understanding of Tibetan mysticism is far from perfect, though. I hope that I at least got the broad strokes right. If you are interested in getting the straight dope, there are plenty of good books out there.

A couple of things came up in private email that I might not have stressed enough:

  1. There are two main branches of Buddhism - Mahayana (the Great Vehicle) and Theravada (Doctrine of the Elders?). Crudely put, Mahayana buddhism emphasises compassion and holds the ideal of the Bodhisattva (an enlightened being that refuses to go on to nirvana until all beings are enlightened) as the ideal. Theravada stresses an individual's quest for personal liberation, and has an outlook that more closely resembles Greg's posts on mysticism in Glorantha.
  2. The magical powers of an advanced practitioner are thought to come from the mind training practices rather than mystical insight, and are thus not limited to Buddhism. These yogic meditation skills predated Buddhism by a long stretch, and were also used by other sects in ancient India (and from there spread to Tibet and elsewhere). Once a person achieves enlightenment, he/she may have powers beyond those gained through yogic discipline - omniscience, omnipresence, etc. This would certainly be in the "taken out of play" stage of a Heroquest game, though.

So, returning to Glorantha... I would say that the practitioner of a mystic order could develop magical powers along the way that are not actually "mystical" in the sense that Greg seems to be using the term. Powers gained through mind training might be Talents. Powers gained through the worship of meditational deities might be Affinities. I can imagine others that work with spirits or manipulate sorcerous power. Some sects might mix any or all of these together, as seems to be the case for Teshnos and Kralorela.

I think Simon and Peter both have good points. The critical idea regarding magical powers gained through a mystic practice is the ultimate goal of the person employing them. A good student in a mystical order would use his magic in service to the goal of liberation, understanding that he/she will put them away when they are no longer useful for that purpose. I believe there is a parable in Buddhism that says "After you reach the other side of the river, do you carry your boat with you?" The answer is no.

One last point that I would like to add is that most people in a society that reveres mysticism still have the same fears and desires that other people do, and they deal with these in much the same way - they just cloak it in different terms. Common folk in Tibet pray to meditational deities to bless their homes, families, and livelihoods in a similar way to other cultures' worship of gods or spirits. I know that the traditional Tibetan mythological landscape is filled with a lively array of colorful gods and spirits, some helpful and others harmful. The Tibetans appear to have integrated native beliefs (and imported Indian myths) into their Buddhist cosmology. In other parts of the world, the separation between the beliefs of monks and the lay community is more starkly separate. Sometimes to the point that the villagers are hardly Buddhist at all, but still support the monks because their culture believes that is what good people do. I am sure it works the same way in Glorantha.

~Kevin McD

--__--__-- Received on Sun 18 Apr 2004 - 06:26:15 EEST

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