Although I’ve spent the past several years delving into folk magic, Neopaganism, and the Western Mystery Tradition, my primary spiritual orientation has been Advaita Vedanta. Now, however, thanks to contact with the fellow behind the YouTube channel Metaphysical Reflections, I am more fully exploring a path I've had a long-time interest in: Neoplatonism. In presenting Western parallels of philosophical concepts about the nature of self and consciousness that I am already familiar with, I feel like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz realizing that I don't really have to wander further than my own backyard to find the answers I seek. Over the years, I've become a bit saddened that the wisdom of the West has been so obfuscated, and the wisdom of the East, in turn, appropriated and sometimes mangled beyond recognition for Western consumption.
In any case, Advaita Vedanta is a form of Hinduism that I was introduced to nearly 40 years ago. It is a system that dates back to about the 7th century and is primarily founded in the Principle Upanishads, which began to emerge as written texts in about the 8th century BCE. The Upanishads are the philosophical portion of a set texts called the Vedas, the earliest written record of Hindu thought and praxis.
When I first began writing La Maga A Story about Sorcerers and Magi in 2004, I was absorbed in Vedanta and related Eastern philosophies. And so concepts distilled from my then spiritual practice are represented in the work and intermingle with fanciful as well as some authentic motifs about magic. The spiritual journey in Advaita Vedanta is, in part, about intimately realizing the connection between one’s own true nature and the Divine and also realizing that “the world is in the mind, like space in a jar”—as stated in a text called the Yoga-Vasishtha—which I worked into the very last chapter of La Maga. Advaita Vedantist philosophy is concerned with the idea of projection—the problem of not experiencing reality as it is but as dreamlike mental projections—colored by bias, fears, ignorance and automated habits and conditioning. For this reason, my characters sometimes contemplate the nature of reality and illusion. They also ask the question: What is it to wake up from the idea of yourself? To paraphrase thoughts I attributed to the antihero of the series, the sorcerer Leo de Lux:Becoming truly real, conscious, and capable of free will begins by realizing the whimsical and fabricated nature of one’s own being—the idea of self—and then detaching from the automaton (the robot) of its personality, habits, and conditioning. Then the person who is the life beneath the mask of selfhood opens his eyes and watches himself reveling through the motions of daily life like a dreamer reveling in lucidity and exercising free will in it. In the last published book in the series, The Savior at the End of Time (available in Kindle format), I have the main character of that story--a whacky Christlike figure who is a sorcerer named Aurelio Zosimo--deliver a sermon (below) that basically crystalizes, albeit in a thick way, what I’ve come away with from my exposure to Eastern spirituality and spirituality in general, including magical spirituality. :
character study of Leo de Lux
Excerpt from Chapter 20 of The Savior at the End of Time
Zosi began to be spotted in flamboyantly full ceremonial regalia within the Mercury Gardens. He would wear a tunic of thick raw silk and tightly fitted, black leggings that were made of tanned leather and full of straps and whips of lacings. Over this, he would wear high boots that matched a mottled, purple-black tanned leather cope embossed with images of ourobori, moondragons, and griffins. His hair was meticulously plaited and decorated with pins and ribbons. His head was topped with a black double-cone hat that was rakishly crimped and folded over so that the tips of the horn-like cones, embellished with opalescent jingle bells, menacingly flounced and jangled in front of his face. He wielded a rather large and tall staff, the core of which was made of slender poles of cedar and fennel stalks. It was wrapped in embossed leather that matched his ensemble. Like a sinister maypole, the staff’s leather sheath was itself wrapped in a filigreed design of cords and leather straps on which gadgets and flotsam were affixed. The cords and straps dangled, flail- and cat-o-nine-tails-like, from the staff’s finial, which was a gold spearhead in the shape of a fish with an acorn protruding from its mouth.
Like that, he would stroll about the Gardens and then stop here or there to deliver a sermon that attracted larger and larger crowds as word of the spectacle grew. He would begin the rant in a gentle voice with the words, “See the illumination at the center of being,” and materialize some small sparkly object that would fascinate and mesmerize onlookers.
“The body and all phenomena arise causally and provisionally within absolute being,” he would continue, yet still in a very meek and quiet voice. It would be trembling and barely audible despite his ferocious appearance. “There is no time and no dimension to space, both being mere adaptive projections of mind. The personality is an interdependently arising construction of circumstances and experiences, driven by reactivity bred by conditioning devoid of awareness or true will. What is it to wake up from the idea of yourself? Heaven, hell, God, the Adversary, pleasure, pain, and all the pairs of opposites are projections of your own consciousness. You project ideas out of yourself. Treating them as independent entities, you go into them, fear them, and allow them to have power over you although they are your own creations. No one is there to deliver you; you must deliver yourself. Glimpse self-effacement and the root of your existence. Reality is silent, blissful, self-composed Being. This is the Redemptive Principle, the Christos, the Ground, and the Life beneath the mechanism."
Character study of Aurelio Zosimo