Zero Equals Two is a blog on magical news and culture sponsored by U.S. Grand Lodge, O.T.O. A diverse collective of contributors comb the worlds of magick, art, science, history, philosophy, and more every day for articles and events of interest to Thelemites and other modern free-thinkers and explorers, collecting them on this blog for your enjoyment.
2020/05/25How William James Can Save Your Life
I was reading a review of SICK SOULS, HEALTHY MINDS: How William James Can Save Your Life, a new book by John Kaag about the psychologist/philosopher William James – Brother of noted writer Henry James. A segment of the review struck me as perhaps pertinent to the experiences many of us are having at the moment:
“James stared down ‘the prospect of persistent existential disillusionment,’ though the warm tone of his work belies this description, and often framed experience in a Buddhist-like perspective: ‘If one looks carefully,’ as Kaag puts it, ‘suffering is not the exception but the rule.’ Can we actively reduce this suffering? James thought so, or that at least it would truly benefit us to act as if we could. ‘My first act of free will,’ he wrote, ‘shall be to believe in free will.’
Meanwhile, here’s the BBC’s account of the Buddhist approach to suffering:
The First Noble Truth
Suffering comes in many forms. Three obvious kinds of suffering correspond to the first three sights the Buddha saw on his first journey outside his palace: old age, sickness and death.
But according to the Buddha, the problem of suffering goes much deeper. Life is not ideal: it frequently fails to live up to our expectations.
Human beings are subject to desires and cravings, but even when we are able to satisfy these desires, the satisfaction is only temporary. Pleasure does not last; or if it does, it becomes monotonous.
Even when we are not suffering from outward causes like illness or bereavement, we are unfulfilled, unsatisfied. This is the truth of suffering.
Some people who encounter this teaching may find it pessimistic. Buddhists find it neither optimistic nor pessimistic, but realistic. Fortunately the Buddha’s teachings do not end with suffering; rather, they go on to tell us what we can do about it and how to end it.
The Second Noble Truth
Origin of suffering (Samudāya)
Our day-to-day troubles may seem to have easily identifiable causes: thirst, pain from an injury, sadness from the loss of a loved one. In the second of his Noble Truths, though, the Buddha claimed to have found the cause of all suffering – and it is much more deeply rooted than our immediate worries.
The Buddha taught that the root of all suffering is desire, tanhā. This comes in three forms, which he described as the Three Roots of Evil, or the Three Fires, or the Three Poisons.
The three roots of evil
These are the three ultimate causes of suffering:
- Greed and desire, represented in art by a rooster
- Ignorance or delusion, represented by a pig
- Hatred and destructive urges, represented by a snake
Language note: Tanhā is a term in Pali, the language of the Buddhist scriptures, that specifically means craving or misplaced desire. Buddhists recognise that there can be positive desires, such as desire for enlightenment and good wishes for others. A neutral term for such desires is chanda.
Cessation of suffering (Nirodha)
The Buddha taught that the way to extinguish desire, which causes suffering, is to liberate oneself from attachment.
This is the third Noble Truth – the possibility of liberation.
The Buddha was a living example that this is possible in a human lifetime.
Nirvana means extinguishing. Attaining nirvana – reaching enlightenment – means extinguishing the three fires of greed, delusion and hatred.
Someone who reaches nirvana does not immediately disappear to a heavenly realm. Nirvana is better understood as a state of mind that humans can reach. It is a state of profound spiritual joy, without negative emotions and fears.
Someone who has attained enlightenment is filled with compassion for all living things.
After death an enlightened person is liberated from the cycle of rebirth, but Buddhism gives no definite answers as to what happens next.
The Buddha discouraged his followers from asking too many questions about nirvana. He wanted them to concentrate on the task at hand, which was freeing themselves from the cycle of suffering. Asking questions is like quibbling with the doctor who is trying to save your life.
The Fourth Noble Truth
Path to the cessation of suffering (Magga)
The final Noble Truth is the Buddha’s prescription for the end of suffering. This is a set of principles called the Eightfold Path.
The Eightfold Path is also called the Middle Way: it avoids both indulgence and severe asceticism, neither of which the Buddha had found helpful in his search for enlightenment.
The eight divisions
The eight stages are not to be taken in order, but rather support and reinforce each other:
- Right Understanding – Sammā ditthi
- Accepting Buddhist teachings. (The Buddha never intended his followers to believe his teachings blindly, but to practise them and judge for themselves whether they were true.)
- Right Intention – Sammā san̄kappa
- A commitment to cultivate the right attitudes.
- Right Speech – Sammā vācā
- Speaking truthfully, avoiding slander, gossip and abusive speech.
- Right Action – Sammā kammanta
- Behaving peacefully and harmoniously; refraining from stealing, killing and overindulgence in sensual pleasure.
- Right Livelihood – Sammā ājīva
- Avoiding making a living in ways that cause harm, such as exploiting people or killing animals, or trading in intoxicants or weapons.
- Right Effort – Sammā vāyāma
- Cultivating positive states of mind; freeing oneself from evil and unwholesome states and preventing them arising in future.
- Right Mindfulness – Sammā sati
- Developing awareness of the body, sensations, feelings and states of mind.
- Right Concentration – Sammā samādhi
2020/05/22Right Wing Thinkers Claim Hillary Clinton is Babalon
Right Wing thought leader, Tom Horn, CEO of the Skywatch TV channel has aired his thesis that Hillary Clinton is Babalon – brought into manifestation via Jack Parsons’ “Babalon Workings” rituals. Horn noted that the year that Clinton was born, 1947, Parsons reported having a vision wherein Babalon informed him know that she had indeed incarnated. Read Wonkette’s coverage:
PS neither Skywatch or Wonkette’s coverage follow historical facts very closely.
PPS After Jack’s death, Cameron took the magic name Hilarion.
So what’s a devotee of Thelema to do?
2020/05/22Video Art Ritual By Monet Clark LiveStreaming This SaturdayJust got a note from Video, Photographic & Performance Artist Clairvoyant & Energetic Healer Monet Clark about her latest Video Art Ritual:“This Saturday 5/23/20 you are invited to enter the liminal space of NOW, A Video Art Ritual, through a livestream presentation on SUPERMOON 4. Through your breath, your intentions, wishes and presence, access NOW’s campy altered states and potentize its catharsis & healing. SUPERMOON 4 Is “a surrealist’s paradise…public-access-on-mescaline” (Shana Nys Dambrot, LA Weekly) live stream show. Curated by artist Liz Walsh, its brought to you by LAST Projects gallery. Showtime is 9-11pm PST and NOW goes on around 10pm gallery.
“Now eco-feminist performance video collaboration between myself & John Sanborn, was shot and performed on Malibu cliffs and in fire ravaged forests of Northern California. My script for the two opposing characters, sarcastic Haute Goth Catharsis and vamp valkyrie Yogini Perspicacious, reflects the interactions between my collaborator and I regarding spirituality and ritual while making the piece. It also reflects our affinities with aspects of both characters, and the dualities in all of us.
“LA Weekly highlighted the show again and offered also a link on Twitch as well as You Tube.
“LAST Projects hosts the fourth and final SUPERMOON Transmissions, a live broadcast series from interdisciplinary artist Liz Walsh, who in supplementing her gallery exhibition has been curating the most exceptionally eccentric short-form magazine-style line-ups of music, performance art, off-beat mediations, unlikely how-twos, poetry, and general digital psychedelia. Saturday, May 23, 9-11 p.m.”
2020/05/21Death Angel Drummer Recovers from COVID Related Coma – Changes Views on Satan
47 year old Death Angel Will Carroll contracted COVID-19 in Europe on tour. Soon after his return to San Francisco he spent 12 days in a medically induced coma on a ventilator. It was touch and go, but eventually he recovered. Some of his experiences while unconsious did have an effect on his spirituality. Here’s an excerpt from the San Francisco Chronicle’s story:
“While in the coma, Carroll said he had dreams of visiting the afterlife. He saw himself leave his body and plummet down to hell, where Satan — a woman in his case — punished him for the deadly sin of sloth, morphing him into a Jabba the Hutt-like-monster who vomited blood until he had a heart attack.
“’I woke up on the hospital bed with tubes coming in and out of me, and there was a nurse right there and my first words were, “Am I still in hell?”’ Carroll said. ‘She ignored me.’”
Carroll, who celebrated his 47th birthday on Wednesday, May 13, said his near-death experience gave him a new outlook on life. He now plans on living a healthier life without hard alcohol or bong rips, though he’ll still drink the occasional hard cider and narrow his marijuana use to edibles. He also adopted a belief in a higher power; he feels the prayers from his family and friends helped him pull through.
“’I’m still going to listen to satanic metal, and I still love Deicide and bands like that,’ Carroll said. ‘As far as for my personal life and my experience of what I went through, I don’t think Satan’s quite as cool as I used to.’”
2020/05/21Gerald Gardner’s O.T.O. Charter
No big secret that the father of the modern Wiccan Revival, Gerald Gardner, new Aleister Crowley and took initiation into Ordo Templi Orientis. No big secret that Crowley gave him a Charter to open an O.T.O. Body. Here it is: