Deeper Mysteries of the Great Work: Golden Dawn, Buddhism, and Advaita Vedanta

By Frater S.C.F.V.

GoldenDawnlogoQ: I would like to ask you a question. I have been studying some great Golden Dawn based books and I have noticed there seems to be a lot of attention on the will. Personally, having studied the teachings of Buddhism and Advaita Vedants, I tend not to believe in “free will.”

To me, the world does not make much sense when I would accept the existence of a free will. The belief in free will also has a lot of troublesome consequences, concerning morality, a soul/mind seperate from the brain of the body which can result in many what I would call “ego based illusions” which hinder my spiritual life more then they do any good. What are your views on this subject?

A: This is a fantastic question. Your concerns resonate with some of the same ones I had when I began studying the Golden Dawn since, somewhat like you, I had trained in Zen Buddhism and was initiated into Advaita Vedanta.

The Buddhist approach and the Advaita approach both negate the personal I and deconstruct the sense of personal self that in the Qabalah, corresponds to the Ruach.

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Advaita mainly proceeds by negating all aspects of our being and simply abiding as the so-called “Higher” Self, Atman-Brahman, or the Awareness of the Yechidah. When the Advaita sage Nisargadatta Maharaj talks about holding on to the pure and simple sense of being, which he calls the “sense I Am,” that is ultimately consonant with the G.D. system since the Divine Name of Keter (כתר) is Eheieh (אהיה – I Am).

Beyond Keter (כתר) is the limitless light of pure Awareness (אין סוף אור – Ain Soph Aur), beyond which is the Ain Soph (אֵין סוֹף – Limitlessness) and Ain (אֵין – No-thingness), which is beyond all concepts altogether — that is Nisargadatta’s Absolute.

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It is also related to the Sunyata or emptiness of Buddhism, which is beyond even Oneness. When Zen masters say “all things return to the One, but to where does this One return?” They are pointing to the Absolute or Ground of Dzogchen or Christian mystical Godhead that is prior to both duality and nonduality, beyond phenomenological twoness and even Oneness itself.

The Qabalah’s approach as used in the G.D. is different from Advaita in the sense that it doesn’t proceed by fixating on the Yechidah or constantly negating the Ruach, although part of the 5=6 teachings concern the humbling of the personal I in surrender to the Divine.

That is, instead of fixating on constantly denying and deconstructing the personal I and clinging to the Higher Self, the Golden Dawn system simply places both in balanced context. In the Outer Order Grades, the aspirant works on building up the confidence, balance, and balance of elements within their being to train them for the magical and inner work to come.

In the Adeptus Minor, as the system is meant to be worked, one integrates what one has learned and yet humbles oneself in surrender to our Divine Nature, the Inner and the Outer, about which the Qur’an writes, “wheresoever you turn, there is the Face of God!”

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“The Angel of the Birds” by Franz Dvorak, 1910.

In the following passage from his What You Should Know About the Golden Dawn/My Rosicrucian Adventure, Golden Dawn Adept Israel Regardie speaks to the Hermetic approach to seeing through the ego’s illusions and our more fundamental craving impulses and how magic works to bring them into balance rather than ignoring/negating them to fixate on the higher Self, which sets them up to unconsciously wreak havoc on our lives.

This tendency towards imbalance is unfortunately what I often sadly observed in the Advaita community — that many in the community talked all day about awareness and non-self, but their lives were a mess of narcissism, anxiety, depression, nihilism, solipsism, often abusing other people and rationalizing it and so on. This was not true for the majority of students, but certainly the case for many. I observed it among some of my Zen brothers and sisters as well. These are the pitfalls of a mystical Way without Balance, as Regardie points out:

“Let me quote a few especially appropriate lines from Jung in connection with this Fall, when the fundamental basis of the Ruach has been attracted to the kingdom of shells, and when Malkuth has been completely cut off from the other Sephirot:

“Consciousness thus torn from its roots and no longer able to appeal to the authority of the primordial images, [the archetypes], possesses a Promethean freedom, it is true, but it also partakes of the nature of a godless hubris or arrogance. It soars above the earth, even above mankind, but the danger of capsizing is there, not for every individual to be sure, but collectively for the weak members of such a society, who again Promethean-like, are bound by the unconscious to the Caucasus.”

It will not do, then, for the Adept to be cut off from his roots, but he must unite and integrate his entire Tree, and train and develop the titanic forces of the unconscious so that they become as a powerful but docile beast whereon he may ride

 

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Israel Regardie and Chic Cicero.

Thus, as we work towards bringing the dimensions of our being into alignment and Qabalistic balance, we aim for harmonization between our body (G’uph), its basic sensory and impression-receptive functions (Nephesh), a human personality and astral energetic body (Ruach), but also a deeper Self, an Awareness-I, and a sense of Willing (Yechidah, Chiah, Neshamah).

None of these dimensions absolutely or separately exists, as Buddhism points out; they, and everything else in the Universe, inter-are. The sense of Will also interdependently arises like all other manifest phenomena in the universe.

However, while Absolutely, no Will exists, relatively, it does, and is a force of Mind with which we can work. This is how I understand the work we do in Magic and the Golden Dawn path of the Great Work; we’re operating, not as an isolated separate entity, but as the Whole working on and with itself as reflected through the prism of our human consciousness and unique body-mind conditions.

This is particularly true in the selfless magic in the 6=5 Grade and the work of mystical service as the All serving the All in the 7=4 Grade, which is akin to the Path of the Bodhisattva in Mahayana Buddhism.

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Relief image of the bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara from Mount Jiuhua, Anhui, China

The practical key to the work at all of these levels and layers is to bring all of the Qabalistic aspects of our being into alignment and work towards the Greater Good or Summum Bonum of the individual, family, community, society, and commonwealth of all beings.

In this way, we aim to avoid falling into either the imperious self-centeredness of a Ruach fallen into self-centered egotism or the trap of dissociated total disconnection from our humble humanness into which many Buddhists and Advaitins fall into by clinging to the Yechidah/Buddha Nature/Self.

In the Path of the Adept, we similarly aim to train ourselves to avoid living slavishly at the mercy of our basic desires and G’uph and Nephesh-based cravings, which as the Buddha points out, can serve us in the short term, but also give rise to suffering. As I see it, the Way of the Adept is in the final assessment, much like the Way of a Buddha, Arhant, Maharaj, or Bodhisattva, in that it is a Way of Balance.

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The Pillars on the Qabalistic Tree of Life.

This teaching is evident in the Golden Dawn system from the role of the Hegemon in the Neophyte Grade Ceremony up through the Mysteries of Tipharet in the Adeptus Minor Grade and the Middle Pillar of Balanced Power between the Pillar of Severity/Strength and the Pillar of Mercy/Lovingkindness on the Qabalistic Tree of Life.

To quote the wise words of the Hiereus to this effect in the 0=0 Grade Initiation Ceremony, the task of the Initiate is to

“Study well that Great Arcanum, the proper equilibrium of mercy and severity, for either unbalanced is not good; unbalanced severity is cruelty and oppression; unbalanced mercy is but weakness and would permit evil to exist unchecked, thus making itself as it were the accomplice of that evil.”

Or, in short, the task of the Adept is to aim for balance, even in studying and working with the dynamics of polarity and the yin-yang of duality, the Mystery of nonduality, and the Absolute beyond both…

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Light in Extension,
Frater S.C.F.V.,
Day of the Sun, February 25, 2018

An Invocation of Yeheshuah, Three Unexpected Visions, and a Rune that Made my Jaw Drop

GoldenDawnlogoDate: February 22, 2018
Planetary Day: Day of Jupiter
Planetary Hour: Hour of Mars
Lunar Phase: First Quarter, 20° Zodiac (Taurus),  Lunar Mansion of Dabaran
Solar Phase: Rising
Activities: Invocation and Assumption of the Godform of Yeheshuah, LIRP, Lord’s Prayer, Visions of Last Supper, Riding Donkey through City, Temptation in the Desert, Blessing / Exorcism in the Holy Spirit

I astrally projected into my astral inner Temple, which took the form, this time, a great Cathedral with brightly multicolored stained glass windows and vast, sweeping arches that towered high above my head.

In the center of the Cathedral, sat the black Double-Cubical Altar adorned with the Cross and Triangle of the Golden Dawn. Elevating hymnal music played on an organ in the background, creating a celestial aural soundscape in the space.

I formulated the Godform of Yeheshuah, invoking and vibrating YEHESHUAH until his lean robed form stepped out of a blindingly bright golden light and into the rainbow light that streamed through the stained glass windows. He had a beard and wore a white robe with a red sash.

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“Greetings, my son,” he said in a warm tone.

“Greetings with great love and respect, oh Yeheshuah. Please assist me in invoking the presence of Our Father,” I said.

Yeheshuah smiled.

I then stepped into the Godform and felt it encompass my Aura, simultaneously expanding the image of Yeheshuah out from the heart center while vibrating YEHESHUAH until the Form fully encompassed my Sphere of Sensation. In this state, Yeheshuah was I and I was Yeheshuah — the truth, the light and the Way.

In the form of Yeheshuah, I performed the Lesser Invoking Ritual of the Pentagram with the Hierophant’s Wand, seeing Yeheshuah’s pentagrams in powerful golden-white flaming light. His voice on vibrating the Names of Power was powerful and yet filled with love, absolutely empty of egotism or arrogance. The visions of the Archangels were particularly vivid and the Qabalistic Crosses were deeply energizing.

I noticed something interesting about how Yeheshuah drew down the light for the Qabalistic Cross; he did not formulate it from a sphere above the head (Keter), but first drew and focused it from its dispersed state all around him (the Ain Soph Aur) to then form a sphere above the head from which to draw down the light. This seemed to me very powerful and effective, like going a step beyond the Tree of Life and pulling from that vaster field before space-time even emerged.

After completing the LIRP, while still in the Godform, I began to recite the Lord’s Prayer. Two lines in to the familiar prayer, however, while gazing through Yeheshuah’s eyes, an unexpected vision suddenly welled up from within and covered my full whole field of view. To my great surprise, I was no longer in my Temple. Instead, I was seated at a long wooden table with my disciples crowded around and before me. On the table were bread, wine, figs, grapes, and fish.

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I heard Yeheshuah’s voice from my lips saying “truly I tell you, one of you at this table will betray me.” Hearing this, the disciples all protested and began to talk excitingly among themselves. Peter, with his long hair and beard, particularly protested. But looking at him, Yeheshuah said, “you too, Peter, will deny me three times before the rooster crows.” Emphatically, he denied that this would be, but a certainty within the heart of Yeheshuah told me otherwise.

Then the scene shifted, as unexpectedly as before. Suddenly, I found myself riding my donkey through an ancient city that I soon realized was Jerusalem. Before me, disciples placed cloaks and palm branches on the street. Inwardly, I heard myself saying:

“Those who ride with the Father have no need of exalted horses or Chariots like the Kings to which you are accustomed. A humble donkey is perfectly fitting. Truly I tell you, those who lower themselves will be raised up; those who raise themselves up will be lowered.”

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The thought occurred to me, as Frater S.C.F.C., to ask what happened to Yeheshuah in the desert.” A third time, the vision shifted, as if in response.

I now stood in the desert with sand blowing about me. There no one else to be seen for miles all around me, just lonely sad tunes, all except for one figure. Before me, the Tempter stood, not as in the classical depictions as a red-skinned, Pan-like demon, but rather much more humble-seeming, as a man in a beige cloak, with bright, clear eyes.

He offered me countless temptations… power, wealth, fame… but I, as Yeheshuah, remained unmoved. “Who has the Lord, has all. Who has these things, but lives not in Love, has nothing. Therefore, of what worth are they, except to those who know not this?” I spoke to the Tempter. He smiled.

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The vision ended, as quickly as it had started, and I found myself standing in the vast Cathedral of my astral Temple once more. Light filtered in through the stained glass windows and the music of the organ insinuated itself gently in the background like a metallic holy murmur. I stepped out of the Godform and stood before Yeheshuah as Frater S.C.F.V. once more, in a red robe, with a red and green-striped nemyss and the Rose Cross Lamen over my heart.

“Could you please bless me in the Holy Spirit, oh Yeheshuah?” I asked.

“With great Love and joy” Yeheshuah said.

Then he lay his hands over my head and spoke these words: “May the Holy Spirit dawn on you, descend to you, and ascend in you at once.

May your mind be opened to wisdom, your heart opened to love and compassion, your spirit opened to strength, and your Inner Sight opened to Vision.”

As he said this, a great love dawned up within me and flowed through me like a dove on wing or a flush of golden light breaking through a darkened sky at dawn…

“Remember these words well

For they are the heart of the Way:

In all humility, give up that which never was,
And open to that which always is.”

I took these words to heart.

“I now cast out all demonic influences you carry within you, for carry them you do,
May they go at once in the Name of the Lord!”

As he said this, I saw three jet-black beings that looked like ghosts with gaping mouths and black eyes rush out of my Sphere of Sensation and instantly felt a weight lift out of me… Vaguely, I remembered a time many years ago when I had seen similar faces when I was struck with sleep paralysis in the middle of the night and felt a great weight pressing down on my chest. Had they been with me all this time?

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“May you ever be guarded
And on guard
Against such influences.”
Yeheshuah said.
“Know that wherever you go, you go not alone, but the Spirit goes with you,
Amen.”

“Amen and thank you, dear Yeheshuah,” I said, feeling humbled and in awe.

I performed the Qabalistic Cross in the method Yeheshuah had shown me of first drawing the Presence of the Light from all around to gather above me. It felt very natural done in this way, as if I were retracing the primordial emanation of Kether itself from the Limitless Light that gave it rise.

I thanked Yeheshuah for all the gifts and blessings he had bestowed on me.

“Go in peace to love and serve the Lord and all around you,” he said,
Stepping back into the golden Light from whence he came and vanishing into it.

The light streamed in through the cathedral’s stained glass windows, and as I closed the Temple, the organ music slowly faded out and silence reigned in the astral Temple.

I left the Temple, returned to my seated body, and tuned back into the bodily sensations of the Nephesh and the G’uph within the body.

Now back in my physical form, I noticed that my energy still felt light, radiant, peaceful, and that a gentle and unassuming love seemed to kindle like a gentle candleflame within my heart.

 

I prayed to draw a Rune that would give me guidance to carry me through this day.

 

My jaw dropped when I saw the Rune that emerged as I pulled it from its bag.

 

It was Gebo or Gyfu, which has the shape of a Cross, and means both gift and sacrifice.

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Could there be any other symbol more appropriate to cast for guidance from the Oracle after a vision like this?

 

Gebo carries the meanings of gifts, sacrifice for nobler purposes, balance, forgiveness—a gift Yeheshuah often gave—gratitude—appropriate for gifts–dissolution of barriers through selflessness, and esoterically, also suggests the equally appropriate symbolism of being the signature or harbinger of divine visions.

 

In its evocation of reciprocity, it also suggests the connection between Divinity and the people, the places where our paths intersect like the crossroads it resembles. In this sense, it is also an image of Oneness, of interdependence, interconnectedness, and unity.

 

Gebo has no reversed form; in its ultimate dimension, it signifies the ultimate gift: freedom.