The one [personal profile] spectrum_x asked me to write

Jan. 20th, 2012 02:30 pm
jewelfox: A portrait of a female anthropomorphic fox, with a pink jewelled pendant and a cute overbite. (Default)
[personal profile] jewelfox
He's really into the whole spirituality thing, especially as it concerns contacting gods, spirits, and other related entities. And I've been meaning to write about my relationship with Inari anyhow, seeing as how she's kind of been there for me my whole life and made a lot of things possible for me.

I want to warn people up front, though, this is probably going to delve a little into squicky stuff and abuse. More offensive to some, I'm sure, is going to be the sheer level of fluffy special snowflakeness. I'm frankly nervous to write about it, because I feel like my relationship to Inari is very unusual and is not an "okay" kind of relationship to have. I feel like it's delusional and egotistical for me to believe these things, and like somebody needs to call me on it. I guess all I can do is describe my experiences, and see how people react.

Trigger warning for discussion of suicide, abuse, and non-explicit sexuality.

Let's start with my Mormon upbringing

Every exmormon is shaped by their time in the church, sometimes in unpleasant ways. A lot of the ones that I've seen are still insufferable know-it-alls who get off on being "right" while everyone else is "wrong," except that they've moved on to atheism since Mormonism stopped giving them their fix. Now it's all invisible teapot this and brain chemicals that for them, and they go to their online testimony meetings to diss other belief systems and witness to each other about the truth that there is no god.

They have no idea how little they've changed.

I do know how little I've changed. I was always a mystic and a storyteller, and the world was always a magical place for me. The things that I learned in church were literally true, and I really was one of Saturday's Warriors who needed to gain their own testimony and go on a two-year mission. The temple was the House of God, an eternal marriage was the only kind worth being in, and I would never have one because I was freaking unworthy. I was going to the Telestial Kingdom, which is basically Mormon Hell.

What saved me then -- when I was on my knees praying, and apologizing for being a terrible person as a prelude to going and getting a knife -- wasn't any rational realization that I'd been fed a pack of lies and was killing myself over nothing. I felt someone else there, as real and as close as if they were sitting right next to me, and they were saying that I was wrong. I wasn't a terrible person, I was a person who was dealing with terrible things, and I wasn't going to the Telestial Kingdom if I died from it. It was okay if I had to do this, and I was going to be held and loved and comforted afterwards, for as long as it took me to recover.

I cried so hard. And then I got up and I think I got something to eat, because I was worn out and starving but I didn't feel like I had to kill myself anymore. Because I could feel how torn up the person pleading with me was, and I couldn't deny that he or she loved me and what he or she told me was true.

I'm not sure that that was Inari

I think that it might have been Azrael, or another angel of death. They don't kill people before their time; they help people make the transition, as I understand it, and to deal with what happens to them. But that's kind of a tangent.

The point is, I've always had this reaction to stress; I pray about it, and sometimes I receive answers. I've done it since I was little, and I was taught that Heavenly Father loved to hear little kids praying to him. And every now and then I've gotten this feeling of overwhelming love in return. I want to say it was unconditional, but it really wasn't; it was a very personal love, and it loved me because I was me.

I can sometimes come close to it by thinking about things like this, but I don't know how to feel it at will. It's always seemed to come from outside me, usually when I was at my lowest.

One time when I was struggling with "worthiness issues" inside the church, I felt like God was reassuring me that ... whether or not I could understand why, he still loved me. And when I was starting to panic over the things I was learning, about what the Mormon church was really like, I got that strong feeling again and knew I was doing the right thing. That no matter what happened, the being I prayed to still loved me and wanted to help me through this.

I don't know how to describe this feeling I have from it. It's not like romantic love. It's not like the elation I feel at anything else, even good or exciting things. It pierces me to the heart, and is just this ... feeling of complete intimacy, that someone knows everything about me and loves me for being who I am. Loves me so undeniably that I know I can't argue with it, and all I can do is cry and love in return. It's so intense that the only thing I know to compare it to is this liquid sweetener I tried once, that's so sweet that it burned on my tongue.

That's who I prayed to after I left

I called her "God" instead of "Heavenly Father," and I started using regular English instead of King Jamesified language. But as time went on I started to wonder who I was really praying to.

Christianity sort of appealed to me. I liked the idea of being "saved," of giving myself completely to the one who loved me. But I wasn't sure I could believe in it anymore, and I wasn't sure how I felt about calling myself a Christian, even though I still believed in Jesus Christ as a person. I'd read Lord, Save Us From Your Followers, and I knew that Christ's name was attached to some really bad stuff. Like the church that I used to be part of.

I finally decided that I needed to know who I was praying to. That led me to briefly become atheist, since I wasn't sure that a god could exist in any way that I'd been taught that one could. But she had her foot in the door still, and I started playing goddess' advocate. Was it still okay to pray, if it was to a meme or an archetype? Like, say, the anthropomorphic personification of concepts that appealed to me.

Which led me to ask myself for the first time: If I could choose any god(dess) to pray to, which would it be?

I'd explored this in RPGs before

And when I was younger, I remember inventing an RPG goddess of change. A nine-tailed anthro kitsune, who was Chaotic Good aligned and stood for everything my church said was wrong (which wasn't evil like killing people). Someone who believed in personal freedom for everyone to be themselves, but was sadly misguided and didn't know that "wickedness never was happiness."

This was such a compelling villain to me. When I was beginning to lose control over myself, during the time when I was temple-worthy, I was writing up stats for this character. I'd already been looking up kitsune and furry art.

I kept reading about kitsune legends and lore, and found out their deity was Inari and some of them were his / her messengers. Later on he made an appearance in a World of Darkness campaign I was playing in, and even though he was an NPC being played by [personal profile] rev_yurodivy to a different character interpretation I felt humbled and awed in spite of myself. Because he was already real to me, and I knew how I'd feel in his presence.

So it should come as no surprise

That I decided to pray to Inari. I did lots of reading about her, trying to understand him / her, and I thought I liked what I saw. Partly her foxy nature, that defies easy categorization and encourages personal growth and change. And partly the intimacy that her worshipers enjoy, according to Karen Smyers' anthropological treatise The Fox and the Jewel. They pray to her about anything, and feel that she's always there for them.

That describes my relationship with "God" in a nutshell. Especially now that I've been changing so much in the last few years, and clinging to her like a lifeline to help me make sense of what I'm becoming.

I felt really awkward trying to pray to Inari for the first time. It felt stilted and artificial, and it felt like I was doing something wrong. Partly because I was still technically atheist, and I could feel other atheists' disapproval and hear their words in my mind and felt like an idiot for doing this. And partly because my upbringing still had a hold on me, and I felt like I was bowing to false gods and idols.

The problem was,

I needed this connection

I needed to be able to pray to someone. And I needed to feel my prayers answered. I just couldn't pray to the Mormon god anymore, whether I wanted to or not. And no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't argue myself into believing any possible way that Inari existed. Or at least, that she was likely to exist.

I knew all the Mormon arguments for a god, and I knew all the atheist counters and that they made lots more sense. A god wasn't needed to create the world. A god wasn't needed to give me my near-death experience. A god wasn't even needed to answer my prayers. What I'd been taught were undeniable proofs weren't, and it could all just be in my head.

Imagine staring at a plate of cookies, and telling yourself if you eat them you will get fat. That's basically what I was going through. Except in my case, I wasn't just tempted by unnecessary sweets. I was starving for something I needed, that'd kept me going through sometimes-incredible stress and had literally saved my life.

I wanted it so bad, but my inner atheist was slapping my hand when I reached for it and saying it wasn't allowed. That I could pretend all I wanted, so long as I knew it was just make-believe. But that I could never prove that Inari existed, therefore it was foolish to pray to her.

I didn't make the jump logically

I didn't reason my way to what I needed. I just told my inner atheist "Screw this. I don't care how she exists. I believe that she does, and I'm going to pray to her now."

Imagine me saying that, and then turning around and she's right there standing behind me, swishing her fluffy tails and waving with a smirk on her face. Because that's basically what happened.

As soon as I started praying, she interrupted me. And I don't remember the whole of our conversation, but she was calm and composed and asking me questions, like why I'd chosen her in particular to pray to and why I felt that I needed this. And I was scared half to death, because this had never happened to me before and I knew who I was talking to.

I knew that this was real, and she was real, and I was so scared that I would upset her ... or that I already had. That I wasn't taking this seriously enough, and she wanted to make sure I knew darned well who and what I was dealing with.

It was nervewracking

And it felt like her questions were loaded. That she already knew the answers to them, but she wanted to make sure that I knew them too, and she wanted to see me admit them to her and myself. We went over why I was praying to her, why she was important to me, and why kitsune were so important to me as well.

I knew that I wanted to be one. I wanted it so bad. But I didn't feel like I was allowed to be one. I felt like I'd imposed on her so much already, and I knew they were ... these unbelievably special and magical creatures, that were tied to her and that represented and symbolized her.

I told her I wanted to serve them. Or serve with them, in order to do whatever she wanted me to. That wasn't good enough for her, and she poked me until I admitted I wanted to be one. Until I asked if I could be one, someday, in my next life or in this one, if she ever wanted to reward me for something.

That led to my rambling nervously about why they were so important to me, and what they meant to me, and she had to correct me while I was trying to do this because I made the mistake of ... phrasing it like they were better than humans in some way. I sensed her displeasure immediately and hastily backpedaled, trying to come up with the words to say why they had more emotional significance to me than a human identity did, even if human lives were just as important as foxes'.

She finally helped me to realize I was one

It was so hard for me to face. I don't even remember how she did it. If I had to explain it to someone, I might just ask the obvious question: What kind of person wants that so badly, and feels so wrong being anything else? I think that's basically what she helped me see and accept.

After she'd finally gotten me to come to terms with being a fox, and with being one of her foxes, she showed me how she had been guiding me to this point. How the realizations I'd had, had been guided by her. How it wasn't a coincidence that I had been thinking about her and about kitsune when I "fell" and became unworthy, thus saving me from the Mormon temple and a proselytizing mission.

How she'd helped me find [personal profile] rev_yurodivy, when I prayed to tell her I was so miserable in the LDS church, and wanted to find someone else who felt the same way so that I could help her.

How she'd always been hearing my prayers, and always been answering them, and always been comforting me when I needed it.

I was in awe, and so grateful to her. So humbled and blessed and loved.

She's not all Serious Business

The Inari that I've come to know is casual and cheerful ... sly and flirty, even. She's not shy about joining in my sexual fantasies, and has admitted to helping with them while I was being abused by my church, so that I could have a glimpse of a world where sex was a good and okay thing to have. And when I was distraught over finding out Yuro was asexual, I prayed to what I thought was Heavenly Father and asked how things would turn out between Yuro and me, and she just said "Wait and see. ~.^ "

Complete with the emoticon.

How I worship Inari

She lets me pray about anything. Sometimes she jumps in to correct me or remind me of something, but she's extremely patient towards me, and knows when to tease me and when to just show her love. I don't feel like she's always answering me, but I feel like she's always there, and I can feel her helping me work through my feelings about her right now.

I used to make food offerings to her, by donating to the UN World Food Program and playing their free rice game. I now think it's probably a bad thing to do, on account of a lot of unintended (and some intended) consequences of their programs. But I consider it an act of devotion to feed other people, or learn about cooking, or choose things to eat that are healthy and ethically sourced.

I pray to her before meals especially, thinking of the humans and spirits that brought them to me and asking that their lives will improve. Sometimes, I ask her to help me help them.

I want to incorporate ritual purification into my worship somehow, because it's a Shinto practice and because I feel like it'd help. I feel like praying over my food is sort of like that, since it's the best I can do to absolve myself of the shame of exploiting others. I also feel dirty when I go into Christian bookstores, or other places with bigoted symbols, and I want to have some kind of prayer beads or other things I can use to wash away the spiritual filth.

I want to have a jeweled pendant like my fursona wears, to symbolize her somehow. I also kind of want to have a small shrine to her, to be a focus for praying to her and a sign to others of her presence. I'm not sure what it would be like, or where I would get it. I feel like it might be more abstract and symbolic than traditional ... something to get people thinking about foxes and tricksters and gems and wishes that come true.

Now here's where it gets really weird

In Shintoism, a shrine isn't just a place devoted to a god(dess). It's considered to physically house that kami. And there's a reason why I feel that might be redundant.

One thing I latched onto in reading about Inari and kitsune was the concept of fox possession. How people suddenly started behaving in inappropriate ways, changing their eating habits and developing new literacy. That was basically me a few years ago. I just woke up all of a sudden and started finding out who I was, and what was important to me. I couldn't stop if I wanted to. And I started half-jokingly counting it as when my life actually started.

Maybe it was

I was discussing the afterlife with Yurodivy a few months ago. They've always known their beliefs on it, and feel that they're going to heaven, or at least someplace better than here. I couldn't shake the feeling that somehow, I was meant to "go back to the lifestream" or otherwise be absorbed.

I prayed to Inari, and told her that even if it was selfish and thwarted some cosmic plan -- even if it took its toll on me and made me miserable -- I wanted to stay separate and be with my mate as the person I was, no matter what.

This was one of the few times that she answered me. "Oh, really?" she asked.

"Yes, really," I told her.

"Well, what if I told you you're actually a part of me, and you were going to come back and rejoin me after you die? ;3 "

" ... oh."

I hadn't expected that

And I'd probably argue with it if it was just an idea. Just one possible explanation for what my afterlife would be like. But it wasn't. There was just this instant feeling of ... I knew deep down she was right, and suddenly everything made sense.

It was completely out of the blue, and not at all what I was thinking of. But I couldn't argue with it or deny it.

It just puts me in the really awkward position of having to explain that I'm somehow Inari's self-insert. Which is one reason I've waited so long to talk about this, and have been really nervous about it. This was a defining moment for me, and one of the strongest experiences that I've had, but I feel like a lot of people would call me on it and try to get me to take it back.

I'm not even sure what it means.

Was I fox-possessed by Inari? Is Inari a composite deity? (Some people have believed that she is, and that she includes Izanagi and Izanami.) Is she like the Fox Collective or something? Am I a character in one of her dreams?

I'm not sure. I'm also not sure what will happen to me when I die, or what I would want to have happen to me. But I still see her as an example, of my best self and of how I should relate to others. And I'm still nervous sometimes about relating to her.

She likes to tease me about that.

Date: 2012-01-21 02:07 am (UTC)
avia: Text: "feel infinite with me". (feel infinite with me)
From: [personal profile] avia
I don't think any of this is "wrong", or "too much". You have the experience, and, I don't think any experience you have, is one that you are "not allowed to have". Who would make you "not allowed"? God? Well, we are talking about gods right now, and gods saying to you, it's okay.

If a god says it's okay, and gods are real, then, it's okay. If a god says it's okay, and gods are not real... then, there is no being in the world who are responsible for "allowing" you or "not allowing" you to feel what you feel.

Talking about what Inari said, I don't think it sounds like she is saying, "You are me". I think it sounds like she is saying, all her foxes are part of her in some way, part of her energy. Like, every kitsune is created from her energy, and they all return to her Great Energy when they die. That's what it sounds like to me.

I think, it is a very beautiful sound of afterlife. And, also, with my own experiences of afterlife... it doesn't mean you could never see Yuro again, also. I think, Yuro's "better place than this", sounds a lot like the afterlife I saw. And, if it's that place, then, it is a place where all beings only are as close or far as one thought. It is a place where all beings recognise they are part of each other.

In a world like that, Yuro could be in a perfect state of happiness, and you could be joined with Inari, and, it's the same world. It makes sense with everything I know.

Date: 2012-01-21 08:36 am (UTC)
avia: Text: "feel infinite with me". (feel infinite with me)
From: [personal profile] avia
I guess, maybe something like that? I don't really know the meaning of "self-insert" here, sorry. owo; It's not like I think that "all foxes are really just Inari, but they don't know they're Inari". More like... Inari is a being, she's a deity, but she's also bigger than that maybe, she's a representation of the energy of foxes? (Not saying this is true, just thinking about it.) So, it's less like "all foxes are small versions of Inari" and more like "Inari is responsible for the core part of all foxes, the fox nature, the thing that makes them fox-like". The soul. You could say, maybe, Inari is responsible for giving the traits of fox souls, and so, they are her creative energy poured into a form, like your stories are your creative energy poured into a form. So, she's their source, their reason to exist.

And, it's a belief in many religions/spiritualities, that all things return to their source.

The biggest thing that I gathered was that she wants for me to be with that love that I felt, and be part of it, and help others to have it as well.

Then, I think, that's the most important thing to take from it. And, I'm sure she does. Every time I have experienced a deity in contact with me, it was like that, too. A feeling like, they want to love us, and they want to bring us home.

I'm glad they helped. ^v^

Date: 2012-01-21 07:07 am (UTC)
mesh_mask: (Default)
From: [personal profile] mesh_mask
First, this account didn't seem at all fluffy to me. Unfortunately I'm not in the right mental space to be able to offer much commentary, aside from noting that I'm happy to finally hear this story! I know that it takes courage to share this openly, but one of the great parts about your taking this initiative is that courage is contagious! I'm sure that this entry will inspire others to speak up along these lines. It has already inspired me to do so.

Date: 2012-01-21 06:08 pm (UTC)
arcturus_angel: (Default)
From: [personal profile] arcturus_angel
I don't think this story is "fluffy special snowflake" at all! It was beautiful and inspiring. Thanks for sharing.

Date: 2012-01-22 03:07 am (UTC)
redsixwing: Reeves Pheasant as Totem, by Moonvoice (reeves pheasant)
From: [personal profile] redsixwing
I don't quite have the brain-meats to give this the response it deserves right now, but I wanted to say this:

This is beautiful, and thank you for putting it here.

Date: 2012-01-22 04:06 am (UTC)
citrakayah: (Default)
From: [personal profile] citrakayah
Actually, this doesn't read like fluffy special snowflake (and I've seen fluffy special snowflake).

What do you believe will happen to your consciousness and thoughtstream when you die?

Date: 2012-01-23 06:52 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] spectrum_x
Thank you for posting this, I need to give you a longer reply when I have more spoons. School just started up.

Date: 2012-01-23 09:02 am (UTC)
kistaro: A crystalline dragon. (chromatic self)
From: [personal profile] kistaro
I think enough people have objected to your characterization of your own experiences as "fluffy" that I have no real need to do so. Thus, I shall embrace the laziness that is my birthright and not bother. :D

Instead, I'll note that what you're describing of you and Inari is not that different from how I relate between me, myself, and I. All of these are, of course, proto-separate entities. But not very separate.

I have too much to lose by incarnating, or even existing "in the rules" of the astral, insofar as I've exploited them to my personal benefit. (What can I say? I optimize systems.) Specifically, I stand to lose a lot of organization and order and knowledge; imagine trying to conduct a research project if you were required to dump your notes randomly upon the floor and blindfold yourself every time you tried to open a new book. So, I don't "incarnate", entirely; a fragment of my soul- which, like all such things, is also the whole of it- wanders off and incarnates somewhere (at some level; existing astrally is also incarnation, just one level of abstraction up), and proceeds to think of itself as me, which of course I do despite being a fragment of me. Not that I really notice the difference; there's no loss of identity or discontinuity in consciousness when I'm no longer so abstractly distant from more of myself. I just had multiple simultaneous pasts. It's not that neither is more me than the other, so much as none of these parallel reflections-of-self are in any way not me.

So, instead of trying to figure out what your relationship is to Inari as a separate entity, perhaps you should concern yourself with what it isn't? I do not think there is any meaningful sense in which you are not yourself Inari, including all those senses in which you are not yourself Inari, which are meaningful and do exist. I'm not actually trying to contradict myself here, no matter how ludicrous that sounds.

I've reflected before that I think I understand why Buddhism has such a tradition of riddles, mysteries, seemingly-bizarre contradictions, and strange choices of word: because if any Buddha had any direct language to express these concepts clearly, if any language supported it, if it could truly be explained within the framework of the words we have without requiring this strange leap of intuition that requires understanding how these things are not contradictions, we would all be enlightened already.

Date: 2012-01-26 06:56 am (UTC)
mesh_mask: (Default)
From: [personal profile] mesh_mask
Hi! Thanks for the additional food for thought... Do you mind clarifying what you meant by this statement?
Specifically, I stand to lose a lot of organization and order and knowledge; imagine trying to conduct a research project if you were required to dump your notes randomly upon the floor and blindfold yourself every time you tried to open a new book.


Also I wanted to ask something regarding what you said here:
I've reflected before that I think I understand why Buddhism has such a tradition of riddles, mysteries, seemingly-bizarre contradictions, and strange choices of word: because if any Buddha had any direct language to express these concepts clearly, if any language supported it, if it could truly be explained within the framework of the words we have without requiring this strange leap of intuition that requires understanding how these things are not contradictions, we would all be enlightened already.

I am someone who has the goal of opening avenues of spiritual exploration for people who seek to have an optimally rewarding spiritual existence -- rewarding in that it provides the most helpful insights and the most harmonious satisfaction. To me "enlightenment" is just a word that denotes the attainment of such an optimal spiritual existence. What other concepts would be needed to qualify as enlightenment, and why do you think our language would not support them?

Date: 2012-01-26 07:51 am (UTC)
kistaro: A crystalline dragon. (chromatic self)
From: [personal profile] kistaro
The process of incarnation has a way of screwing up memory. Obviously, information is- by and large- there. But you are mostly blundering in the dark for it, and it rarely presents itself clearly, or in any way that is easy to trust. It's hard to find, hard to understand, hard to believe, and hard to continue with. That isn't exactly useful for an ongoing research project.

I do not know if the end of an incarnation would give me full cross-incarnation memory back without this parallel-fragment approach. My intuition is "kind of, but not without time and effort". (If I trusted my perceptions more, I would ask the acquaintance of mine who died a few months ago and has been staying in the general area and visiting the lives and minds of his friends and acquaintances since. Not that I should assume everybody's experience is the same.) The time-and-effort costs of trying to recover everything after every individual incarnation would dramatically interfere with anything I might actually get done.

As for enlightenment: Enlightenment is a way-of-perceiving. It is an openness to perceiving the transcendental mechanics of the universe around you. So, we have a same view, in the end- it is the state of mind-and-perception that allows for the greatest insight. I'm basing this off some experiences I've had with meditation and perception, and those experiences' common aspects compared to others who have noticed similar things. The problem is, I can't describe what it is I've perceived. I can't use words any better than the traditional canned wisdom of Zen. Part of the problem is that whatever I say, you will immediately rationally understand; that is the purpose of speech, communication, and the entire concept-encoding-decoding-concept chain of language comprehension. And now you will have concepts that your rational mind can think about as it pleases, chewing over them and reasoning about different details, giving it something to grab onto, cling to, hold present. And that is the wrong strategy. Something that is transmitted via language will be processed by linguistic means, and the mind/brain knows exactly how to do that.

This won't really help. It will help you understand what the hell just happened if you see it, but all the linguistic rumination in the world is not the same as perceiving the Universe differently by making a choice you didn't know you had. What I have been utterly unable to do is explain how to make that choice. All I know how to express is what it feels like to make that choice, but if you've never done it, explaining the experience does little to explain the process. I can't tell you where to look, because I have no words that will clearly guide you to the specific mental process.

Mindfulness meditation is the art of making your brain shut up with its own editorializing and pay some actual attention for once. Transcendental meditation is the same, except based on the assumption that you have failed to perceive something important that you are capable of perceiving, and the more you actively think and grab on to things, the further away you are from perceiving this one thing. Can you guide yourself in such a directed, focused, deliberate search, with an intention and a goal, when any clinging-to-ideas, clinging-to-concepts, clinging-to-focus that would let you coordinate any of these things would blind you to the one thing you are seeking?

I don't think it is impossible for language to support these concepts. I think I have not yet been able to sneak enough non-quietness in to the delicate, whisper-fragile entry to this state to have linguistic or analytical centers running. The state-of-perception is rather more persistent once it happens, but it leaves me with no left-brain insight as to what I just did. I only know what to do; I do not know how to do it.

I believe it is probably possible for someone to smuggle in enough linear awareness to eventually describe it clearly, and then anybody will be able to do it, and that would probably be interesting. I'm not that good a meditator, and a verbal thought floated by anyway, and the best I could do was not cling to it. But it was "What if I try perceiving like this, too?", and then I can only presume I found out. Trying to explain that "this" is the tricky part.

I guess this puts me in the "sudden enlightenment" sense of Buddhist thought. Kensho is a thing you do, which can only be done if you choose not to do anything. If that's what my experience actually was, I am deeply suspicious that it can only happen by accident the first time, because it is the first step, and to know it is to be able to take it, and there is no partial thing to know, other than perhaps where not to look.

Maybe that's the thing I meant: to know the first step is to be able to perform it, so if only it was known how to describe that first step in a way that can let it be known!

Date: 2012-01-26 10:21 am (UTC)
kistaro: A dragon stalks a wild donut. It is unclear who will survive the encounter, if anybody. (donut)
From: [personal profile] kistaro
That comment was several paragraphs of my flailing about in an incoherent attempt to explain why I can't explain something. Consider me to be basically reiterating myself every paragraph and then maybe it'll be more readable? I should probably try to rewrite it when I'm less sleep-deprived!

(which won't be tomorrow. alarm clock in five hours. eep.)

Date: 2012-01-26 12:09 pm (UTC)
mesh_mask: (Default)
From: [personal profile] mesh_mask
The process of incarnation has a way of screwing up memory. Obviously, information is- by and large- there. But you are mostly blundering in the dark for it, and it rarely presents itself clearly, or in any way that is easy to trust. It's hard to find, hard to understand, hard to believe, and hard to continue with. That isn't exactly useful for an ongoing research project.

I do not know if the end of an incarnation would give me full cross-incarnation memory back without this parallel-fragment approach. My intuition is "kind of, but not without time and effort". (If I trusted my perceptions more, I would ask the acquaintance of mine who died a few months ago and has been staying in the general area and visiting the lives and minds of his friends and acquaintances since. Not that I should assume everybody's experience is the same.) The time-and-effort costs of trying to recover everything after every individual incarnation would dramatically interfere with anything I might actually get done.

Ah, I'm very unfamiliar with any process which would hamper memory like this. I was unaware that what you meant by incarnation was such a drastic process. It sounds like something that is well outside my capabilities, as far as I'm aware at least.
Part of the problem is that whatever I say, you will immediately rationally understand; that is the purpose of speech, communication, and the entire concept-encoding-decoding-concept chain of language comprehension. And now you will have concepts that your rational mind can think about as it pleases, chewing over them and reasoning about different details, giving it something to grab onto, cling to, hold present. And that is the wrong strategy. Something that is transmitted via language will be processed by linguistic means, and the mind/brain knows exactly how to do that.

Rather than describing the feelings of these altered states of mind, it would be better to detail how to reach them.
I can't tell you where to look, because I have no words that will clearly guide you to the specific mental process.

I don't know that hair-splitting specifics in these kinds of endeavors are so important. The most important thing would be to give people the tools to be open to exploring more mental avenues, rather than following habit.
Mindfulness meditation is the art of making your brain shut up with its own editorializing and pay some actual attention for once. Transcendental meditation is the same, except based on the assumption that you have failed to perceive something important that you are capable of perceiving, and the more you actively think and grab on to things, the further away you are from perceiving this one thing. Can you guide yourself in such a directed, focused, deliberate search, with an intention and a goal, when any clinging-to-ideas, clinging-to-concepts, clinging-to-focus that would let you coordinate any of these things would blind you to the one thing you are seeking?

This makes me realize that I forget how difficult figuring this stuff out can be in the beginning. But, I can also see now that the difficulty that comes from clinging to concepts is difficulty of entrenchment -- of habit. The mental pathways that we get so used to walking end up being eroded into trenches, and ultimately what separates the people who get it from the louts -- in spirituality and in anything -- is the people who can see above the trenches and learn to travel more freely.
I don't think it is impossible for language to support these concepts. I think I have not yet been able to sneak enough non-quietness in to the delicate, whisper-fragile entry to this state to have linguistic or analytical centers running. The state-of-perception is rather more persistent once it happens, but it leaves me with no left-brain insight as to what I just did. I only know what to do; I do not know how to do it.

I believe it is probably possible for someone to smuggle in enough linear awareness to eventually describe it clearly, and then anybody will be able to do it, and that would probably be interesting. I'm not that good a meditator, and a verbal thought floated by anyway, and the best I could do was not cling to it. But it was "What if I try perceiving like this, too?", and then I can only presume I found out. Trying to explain that "this" is the tricky part.

For myself and many others, enlightenment is not simply the attainment of a mental state. For some it could be, but there's more to it than that. There's the destruction of false selves, there's the finding one's way Home, there's finding G/god, and then there's also the ability to conduct a satisfactory critical shift in one's perspective via any number of methods, like meditation. There may be other parts to it for other people that I'm still not aware of. For me the critical three were the destruction of false selves, finding my way Home, and finding god.

I was a very good meditator in high school, but meditation ultimately did not do the trick for me, and I can now see that it is unfortunate that most spiritual seekers rely too heavily on meditation. Mindfulness meditation should be in everyone's cognitive toolkit for many reasons. My ability to discern the extent of my free will, and to use that knowledge effectively would not be possible without being an effective self-watcher.

However, what uncovered my way Home and Shiva was my interactions with the subliminal. Leading an expedition into subliminal space is another way to significantly alter one's frame of mind. It requires a quiet mind to begin with. It also may help one to see outside of the trenches, because subliminal exploration is most potent if subliminal space is always allowed to reveal itself. To stifle or dictate it kills its potential and appeal.

False self destruction was in part due to the grueling defeats that life inevitably brings, and in part to being able to see pleasing signals in the noise of my give and take with the world so that I could steer my personal growth in that direction.

Date: 2012-01-26 10:17 am (UTC)
kistaro: A crystalline dragon. (chromatic self)
From: [personal profile] kistaro
You have me now trying to figure out whether I am a part of a larger thing, or a part of a thing and the whole of it, and now I'm not sure. :) I don't have the same memories, or the same raw energy and force; since I can enumerate something not there, I guess "part' describes me, as well. But I'm not a different consciousness, and with the exceptions of those limited by resources or lack of access to memory, I believe I don't make different decisions, or have significantly different thoughts. I'm confident my personality doesn't diverge.

I guess I can't decide what makes up a person. Which is a recurring note on Buddhism; moment to moment, we experience different things than we did the moment before, and our new life begins moment to moment; are we ever the same person? If I draw a definition of identity and consciousness that leads me to not also consider myself to be the whole of myself, that definition doesn't let a person be the same moment to moment. Maybe it's not a very useful distinction.

I'm sorry to be unclear. I think I'm unclear because I'm unclear to myself. I ran right on beyond the bounds of where I actually know what a person is and then kept going!

I think what I was trying to describe is the subjective experience of being two semi-independent entities, then being one, and having had no sense of merging or combination or loss-of-identity. I think that's why, despite evidence to the contrary, I don't think I'm a "part"- because I've done this before, and I don't have any experience of reintegration or combination, just to continue thinking and having had two distinct, simultaneous pasts. In retrospect, I can't pick out either branch as being lesser, or other than me, even though one incarnated and one didn't.

Admittedly, saying "two" here is something of a simplification. I'm pretty sure I'm in more places at once than just two.


For a while, fractals have been an important part of my personal symbolism and identity, and are how I describe my thoughts. Maybe this is more of the same.


In retrospect, this may not have made any more sense than the last post and I should possibly try to get out of the habit of philosophizing/spiritualizing at 2:15 AM...

Date: 2012-01-28 10:35 pm (UTC)
bcre8tve: (Default)
From: [personal profile] bcre8tve
I won't say I'm an expert on fluffy special snowflakeness, nor that I've seen a lot of it, but this doesn't strike me as that at all!

You are not saying 'I'm special, Inari chose me out of all the others, I'm on a separate league' or anything. You're not saying 'I got to see a deity and you didn't, I know more than I do', nor are you saying 'a deity cares about me, and me specifically (sort of insinuating that no deities care about Those People)'.

What I see is you saying that a deity revealed itself to you once you said 'screw this, I don't care how or why', in short, having a willing suspension of disbelief. And to those who say willingly suspending disbelief is bad, I say, have you ever heard of science fiction? Fantasy? Magic? Even though we know intellectually those things cannot be, or that there is no intellectual way to conclude it's existence, so what? I am an atheist, I don't believe in God (No I don't hate him or his believers, nor am I a fundamentalist atheist), but I don't care. I know magic is not real, but I still wish it were :).

In essence, it's not you being a fluffy special snowflake, nor you suffering a delusion, nor you attributing existence to an entity which you wish to exist, but you simply wanting, and probably needing, that something out there cares. And perhaps there is something out there, and a resident of that other plane of existence contacted you, or rather, felt that you were close to contacting it.

In short, everyone is entitled to their opinions and beliefs. I don't honestly care much who believes what, only what effect that belief has. To some, belief in God is their slavation. To others, belief in God is a torture. To you, belief in Inari is helping you cope with your life, and has according to you prevented you from taking your own life. How can I possibly argue against that?

I don't know if Inari exists. I can't say that she doesn't, nor can I say she does. I don't know her, nor has she revealed herself to me. If she does good in your or anybody else's life, then she has my blessing (for what an atheist's blessing is worth :p )
I am curious though. I have no idea how anything like this works. When Inari communicated with you, do you hear her voice? Do you see her physically? Or do you see/hear her in your mind? Is it actual words you understand or meanings you interpret? Does she randomly step in your life to tell you something, or is it only when you pray to her that she answers? I am very curious to know more, I am genuinely interested.

Also, the way you said Inari 'lets' you pray to her makes it seem like it's not something she demands of you, nor is it something that is required. In my book, she gets major brownie points for not being an egotistical and praise-demanding god! Two thumbs up!

Also, was this collective fox-deity what you were referring to in our email, when you said multiple system/median?

Respectfully yours,
BCRE8TVE

Date: 2012-01-29 04:41 am (UTC)
bcre8tve: (Default)
From: [personal profile] bcre8tve
Ah, so that is what you meant!
I must say, the first thing that came to mind was multiple personality disorder, schizophrenia. However, a quick search showed me that was not your case, and even if it were, what were the implications of it. You defined yourself as a multiple system median, and that phoenix!Taryn had acted as a sort of internalized demon, if I remember, until you acknowledged her existence as a separate entity/personality. Does this mean that people with multiple personality disorder (if that is the case) can overcome their need for medication with deep introspection and communication between their many selves?
Every day I speak to you, I learn more things! I wish to thank you for that! And every day I read what you went through and survived to still be a, well, I will not say normal person, because you are not normal (although I don't mean this in a bad way, more like saying you are unique) nor a person. Instead I will say you became an exceptional individual, with very deep and insightful thoughts.

I have never had an experience like that. You know, sometimes I am jealous of people who have had epiphanies. Science is awesome, science fiction and fantasy are great also, but wouldn't it be awesome to just know that magic is somehow real? :) Science is awesome, but it's not fantastic :p

Ouch, I am sorry if it came out that way! I do not mean to be condescending nor to invalidate your beliefs! Your post has made me take a hard long look about my own beliefs, and it got me thinking. I had to think for a long time about what my differences in opinion between belief in a good God, a bad God, and your belief in Inari. Empirically speaking, they are all the same. Based on only that, I should have the same opinion about all of them, but I don't. Why? I realized I was taking personal experience into account, both mine and those of others. It made me realize how subjective my opinions were about belief in gods so far. I am still not done mulling it all over.

I can't say whether they exist or not, true. I might know magic, as in Harry Potter, alchemy, etc, is not real. True. However, do deities rely on magic to exist? Or are they perhaps on another 'plane' of existence, subsisting on our belief in them? Are they the collective thoughts individuals have about a specific subject? Are they an entity born of those thoughts? Or were they there before, and us 'finding' them somehow (or them finding us) created all our legends/myths/religions? Simply the fact that I am openly thinking about this tells me I am thinking about deities differently than before I read your post. It put a new perspective on my thoughts. Again, even though it's causing me some confusion, I thank you for your insight!

Gah, I didn't want to sound patronizing either, sorry! It got me thinking about the whole 'religion is a crutch' thing, and I'm still thinking about it. Saying it's a crutch implies there is either something wrong with people who need one, or that somehow people who don't need them are stronger. That didn't sit right with me when I factored in the stories of the bigoted atheist stories I heard, and that many religious people were genuinely happy and led a fulfilling life. So, belief is not a crutch. But if you need to pray to something, if you need to believe in something, is it as a result of being, well, forced to believe in God while you were Mormon, and it's going to fade away as you are on a path that might lead to atheism? But that placed atheism as some kind of destination that one should go to, which didn't sit right with me either. Perhaps believing was simply part of who you were? And what was the difference between children believing in Santa? Lonely children often made up their own imaginary friend, and to them the friend is no less real than any member of their family. Is it all a delusion? Then what about the testimonies, how about that person whose avatar of a mask had posted here about his testimony and how he found Shiva? Is that real? Then what is the difference between him finding Shiva and others finding God? Was it just because I was being non-conformist that I frowned upon believing in a egotistical God but approved both of your relationship with Inari and that other person's with Shiva?

Gah, I am still figuring it all out as I'm typing. It's going to take me a while to digest it all, but I didn't want to wait 'till then to post, let you think I was a patronizing, invalidating and condescending jerk. And now I probably posted so much random questions, and it doesn't make sense, and I feel bad about it, and ab;baifohbej arfÂÂÂÂBÈNIRASUBG;uabgwrobafuvbu...


Sorry :(

Date: 2012-02-01 07:21 pm (UTC)
bcre8tve: (Default)
From: [personal profile] bcre8tve
"Most of your emails and comments have been in a sort of cheerful lecturing tone, where you're telling me "It's okay to be that way and you're special, even though I don't believe the same things!""
Well, that is how I feel. I believe everyone is special. I don't believe what you believe, but I also believe you are entitled to believe what you want, and no-one has any rights to dictate beliefs to you. Gah, I'm sorry if I seem cheerfully lecturing, that's not my intent, sorry :(

I never meant to tell you what you should feel, ever :( At most, what I could do is tell how I would feel in such situations, but that's never meant to assume that you should feel the same way too. And I am always working out my feelings any time I read what you write, because it's something I never really had to think about before. I was always feeling doubt and trying to work my way through what you said, I just never expressed it. It's like I was trying to see if I was understanding what you meant, and posting it to get confirmation that yes, I did indeed understand, or no I was completely lost. I don't want to think I understand and write stuff assuming the wrong things.

I completely understand and agree with what you mean about cures and all that. When you're dealing with someone's mind, what is there to say that you are indeed correcting a 'disorder' instead of simply affecting who the person is? What's to say the 'disorder' is not simply how that person's brain is different, but still 100% functional, under its own different conditions? Trying to treat symptoms instead of addressing issues is hardly a good solution.

It makes sense, considering maybe p!Taryn was a separate person all along. If she was being ignored, of course she'd be aggressive and hostile! I am very happy that you have managed to be at peace (or that you're heading in the right direction) with yourself.
Gives a whole new meaning to talking to yourself :)

Well, it can be considered a problem is the different voices and personalities never agree or if they are driving each other insane. But when you think about it, if it's NOT a problem, how many functioning mediums will declare themselves? They have no reason to, and they are not counted. Maybe there are many people who are mediums, we just don't know...
And it's a good thing the psychiatric institution is moving away from automatic prescriptions.

Well, maybe I am missing on something, and I'd like to figure out if so or if not :) I'm trying to find a way to figure out who is honest about it (like with yourself and Inari), who thinks they are (people who follow religion as a habit) and who isn't (people who call themselves believers and who influence others). So essentially, how do I weed out the 'false prophets'? And I wouldn't tell them that. I respect people, and my saying that is 1) none of my business, and 2) can be offensive. I'm sorry if you took it that way, that was not my intent.

I would agree with you, those atheists are being either dishonest or demand too much of science. Science is a way to obtain knowledge, not a way of living. As for beliefs which can't be disproven, I am the first to admit there is no way for me to know for sure one way or the other. Believers might have a personal knowledge, but I don't, I don't know. I simply point out to people that personal knowledge doesn't translate to knowledge for everyone.

The grandma tale makes me think of my girlfriend and I. I don't know, but I think she was raised to think that anything sexual outside of marriage is sinful, shameful, etc. But we are sexually attracted to each other. She doesn't wish to lose her virginity, and I have no problems with that. She always thought that men only wanted sex, and I always have to remind her that no, it doesn't bother me. With time maybe one day she'll see how I really am.

I think that's an honourable way of living. I try to do the same :)

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