The Great Fractal

In the beginning was consciousness. This is the same as God, and it is the same as yourself. God is consciousness, and God is you, and you are consciousness. This didn’t really happen in the beginning, because there’s no such thing as time, but it’s the start of the story.

All religions and spiritual movements are inspired by gnosis about the real nature of God. It’s very simple – God is consciousness because consciousness is sufficient to create the entire physical world (and all possible worlds), and consciousness is outside of time and space and is complete even in division.

Nothing over and above consciousness is necessary to create the appearance of the entire material world and everything in it, and the appearance of every possible material world and everything in that. In fact, all of these possible material worlds can be derived through repeated iteration of a simple fractal equation – the Great Fractal.

So when people say that God is omniscient and omnipotent and everywhere and eternal they are entirely correct, because all of these things are true of consciousness.

The only disagreement arises when people try to describe the precise nature of God. These efforts are doomed to failure because consciousness is more fundamental than language, and therefore cannot be defined in language. And so all efforts to describe God or to interpret the will of God are errors, usually made through a person conflating their ego with God and therefore confusing their personal desires for the will of God.

That’s all there is to life. You, being conscious, are conscious of things. This never changes, not even on the other side of the death of your material body.

The Great Fractal is the sum total of all of the possible phenomena that God can be conscious of. It is called the Great Fractal because all possible lives are similar to all other possible lives in ways that, if represented graphically, form a fractal of infinite complexity and depth.

Every possible life is being lived by God, right now, with full consciousness – and always has been and always will be. There is a being exactly the same as you who is right now living the life you lived up until ten minutes ago – and there are an infinite number of lives being lived inbetween now and ten minutes ago.

The Great Fractal is alive. It is bursting with consciousness. Every possible life that God can imagine – from the simplest flatworm to seventh-dimensional wizards, is consciously being lived right now, and always will be, forever.

How? God just dreamed them up, and God continues to dream as an act of will. That’s all that this – what we call life – is: just a dream. You know this because it’s not any more real than the dreamworlds that you experience at night. Nothing is different at such a time – you are consciousness, and you are conscious of phenomena, and that’s all there is to it, awake or asleep.

What you consider to be your life is just one infinitely small and infinitely limited perspective of the Great Fractal, at the human-on-Earth-in-the-21st-century level. Just like a computer program that can give you the impression of an entire journey merely through zooming in on particular co-ordinates of a fractal, so is your life just a pathway through the Great Fractal and what you see along the way.

You do have free will, only you are limited by certain laws whose purpose is to make this illusion more immersive. What you consider to be free will is nothing more than navigating through the Great Fractal to the degree that you are able – you decide on a part of the Great Fractal that you would like to experience and then – if it’s possible to get there from where you are now while obeying the laws of immersion – you go there.

Why did this happen, instead of something else happening?

Being pure consciousness, God is perfection. God resides in a state of perfect bliss, complete and without desire.

Although this is perfect on one level, it’s grossly imperfect on another: it’s not very interesting.

Simply put, the most enjoyable game that God can play is to look into a limited section of the Great Fractal for long enough so that God can actually come to convince itself that this limited section is really the whole thing – and then God can feel a sense of awe and grandeur by once again awakening to an appreciation of the whole, an appreciation of itself, an awakening from the delusion that God was ever something else.

And then to do it again, and again and again, forever – an unceasing pattern of forgetting and remembering, of mistaking the illusion of the material world for transcendental reality and then realising the trick and laughing about the fact that one could ever fall for something so obvious.

What we call enlightenment is what naturally arrives as a consequence of turning the common, understandable, materialist perspective around; from looking backwards at the uncreated consciousness instead of looking forwards into the created Great Fractal.

The Great Fractal is the sum total of all the contents of consciousness and all the possible contents of consciousness. It is what the ancient Vedic culture called Maya. We mistake it for reality to the extent that we are making a game of this life.

If Materialism Is False, Death Is Nothing To Fear

Materialism is such a dominant perspective in today’s culture that we’ve almost forgotten that it is a perspective. The near-universal assumption is that consensual reality is a mindless collection of atoms and molecules, and of temperature and energy, and that the brain generates consciousness. This essay is a reminder that this perspective is just a perspective, and not necessarily the truth.

Thinking logically, it soon becomes apparent that there’s nothing especially rational about adopting the perspective of materialism, although doing so may be temporarily useful for anyone trying to run a scientific experiment.

From an existential perspective, the only thing you know for sure is that you’re conscious. That’s it. Existence precedes essence – this is another way of saying that consciousness precedes the contents of consciousness.

At this point, most people will protest that they are also aware of the material world. This conclusion follows naturally from the assumption that the brain generates consciousness, because once a person has made this assumption it seems natural to think that the brain has developed to become aware of the material world.

But no-one knows for sure that what they are aware of is a material world. A person might be conscious of a perspective that relates to some mental attempt to make sense of the stimuli that they have received from what appears to be a material world, but this is in no way evidence that such a material world exists – the map is not the territory.

Some might argue here that the sensory impressions that impact upon our consciousness are, nonetheless, impressions from the material world, and that we know that our sensory organs have made accurate impressions of this material world because of our successful adaptation to it.

But the worlds that we encounter in our dreams, which can be as real and as detailed as this material world, are evidently not creating impressions on our eyes, because those are closed and we are asleep. From this we can deduce that eyes are not necessary to create an illusion of a material world realistic enough for a consciousness to want to survive in it.

And from this it follows that a material world is itself entirely unnecessary, because consciousness could simply dream one up in its absence and would be unable to tell the difference.

At this point a materialist might continue to object, claiming that although the dreamworld that the dreamer experiences is evidently non-material (despite being equally as real from an existential perspective), the appearance of it is nonetheless created by the brain, wherein it resides.

But at this point the materialist has allowed themselves to become a magical thinker. The belief that consciousness resides in the brain does not follow from any logical process.

Usually the materialist will continue to profess that science will one day prove what the “origin” of consciousness is, and that when it does so this origin will doubtlessly be material, but this line of reasoning is just the mirror opposite of what materialists deride as “the god of the gaps”.

In other words, it’s magical thinking, not rational thinking.

Talking to a materialist about the idea that consciousness itself has generated the contents of consciousness (i.e. it has dreamed up the material world as a particularly convincing delusion) is like talking to a medieval theologian about the idea that man has generated the idea of the Christian god – their basic existential assumptions about reality make a conversation about it essentially impossible.

If one refuses to make the assumption that the brain generates consciousness, then there is no reason to believe that the death of the physical body and brain should affect the experience of being conscious. Therefore, it follows that, if the existence of consciousness is not predicated on temporal phenomena, consciousness must be eternal.

And if consciousness is eternal, then all the contents of consciousness are just forms – things that come and go. And your body, being nothing more than some of the contents of your consciousness, is one of those things that comes and goes – but it isn’t you.

Therefore, there is no significant difference between the death of the physical body and any other major change in the contents of consciousness. The death of the physical body might portend a great change in the contents of consciousness, but there is no logical reason to think that this necessitates a change in consciousness itself.

The Four Great Masculine Motivations

Figuring out how to get laid motivates almost the entirety of the behaviour of men, whether directly or indirectly

As everyone familiar with men knows, there is really only one masculine motivation: the sexual impulse to attract and to reproduce with women. Fortunately for us in the 21st century, things are a bit more subtle and nuanced than they were in prehistory. This essay looks at how the sexual impulse manifests in the behaviour of men today.

The first of the four great masculine motivations is the unconscious sexual drive, which man shares with the lower animals. This corresponds to the state of clay in elementalism.

At this level, men are barely thinking at all. This is the mindset that a drunk is in when someone spills his drink and he tries to start a fight. He doesn’t know that the reason why he wants to fight is because of his sexually inspired desire to establish dominance over a given territory for the sake of controlling the resources within it.

Much less does he appreciate that this sexually inspired desire has been repressed by his culture, nor that this repression is reversed under the effect of alcohol.

Although this level is the one at which all activity began, women tend to avoid men that are here to the degree that those women are intelligent. The obvious reason for this is that any man at this level of thinking is liable to go and chase some other woman as soon as the first one is pregnant.

The second is the conscious sexual drive, which the majority of man share with each other. This corresponds to the state of iron in elementalism.

This is as far as most men ever get, and the characteristic of this stage is the development of the capacity to get laid by scheming. Here a man will use his higher cognitive functions to plan and execute a plan to get laid.

It might sound primitive to some, but over the course of human history a colossal amount of energy has been sunk into enterprises at this level by men, and it’s historically where much of the joy and flavour of life comes from.

It was also at this level that many of the patriarchal elements of human society and interaction were established. Marriage and the cultural norms surrounding it are, ultimately, little more than male attempts to establish the certitude of their paternity.

The third is the unconscious sublimation of the sexual drive into a creative endeavour, which man shares with the more intelligent of his kind. This corresponds to the state of silver in elementalism, and most men do not ever reach this level, at least not meaningfully.

This stage is characterised by the production of art. Probably the first ever expression of it was music, perhaps something as simple as a man drumming a tune on a hollow log to amuse a woman.

Developing over time, this impulse found expression in all manner of great works of architecture, literature, music, sculpture and painting.

This stage is not easy to distinguish from the second stage, because it isn’t clear where the border between art for art’s sake and art specifically for the sake of attracting women is. Perhaps the best way to distinguish them is that acts made in the second stage do not produce much else apart from an orgasm.

The fourth is the conscious sublimation of the sexual drive into a creative endeavour, which only the highest of men partake in. It is entirely absent in some ages and places – and in the vast majority of men – and corresponds the the state of gold in elementalism.

Relatively few men dabble with this drive, although doing so may have been popular in times and places that revered the art more.

It isn’t easy to summarise all of the behaviours that fall into this category. This is for a couple of reasons.

This is because actions in this category are particular to the individual. A man might create a work of art to impress a woman, or as a conscious sublimation of his sexual impulse, and in either case the work of art will be the same (or at least similar).

The second reason is that very few men have the necessary education to understand where his sexual energies ultimately come from, and without this knowledge it is impossible to consciously direct where those same energies might ultimately go.

Taken together, these four great masculine drives explain much of why men do what they do.

The Dualistic Perspective, Positive Thinking and the Lower Self

There is a tendency in society for people to praise so-called ‘positive thinking’, because it is believed to oppose negativity and negative thoughts. How do you oppose negativity? Opposition is not the same as allowing, and allowing is not the same as capitulating.

Fighting negativity is the equivalent of war on terrorism. You cannot cease aggravation with aggravation, and you cannot wrangle the world into a peaceful situation by insisting that your perspectives have raised you above it all. From the perspective of duality, you are always inextricably complicit in the world’s dysfunction.

While it may be true that the subject of your thoughts involves ‘nice’ things, say, generosity, or hope, or love, the upshot is that you are still dreaming the dream of duality. Reality is already here, and does not correspond to the thoughts and judgments we make about it.

Much of the motivation behind positive thinking, as with any other branch of dualistic thinking, is that it is crafted to oppose or ward off other kinds of thoughts or events, like a talisman. What appears to be loving and peaceful turns out to be an elaborate exercise in nonacceptance. Dualistic ways of thinking oppose accepting the way things appear at this moment at the cost of peace. Duality always has an agenda to push, whether it is destructive and wishes to make things ‘worse’, or constructive and wishes to make things ‘better’.

Things don’t ultimately get better in a dualistic world. This is the ‘bad news’ if you are intent on staying within that limited paradigm (in reality, this is neither ‘bad’, nor is it ‘new’). It means that all of your efforts to screen and filter incoming experience for both yourself and others will be doomed to failure.

This is not fatalistic, because this too is merely a perspective. This is a natural consequence of your insistence on seeing reality divided into fictional categories, including ‘good’ and ‘bad’, ‘right’ and ‘wrong’, ‘holy’ and ‘unholy’, ‘beautiful’ and ‘ugly’, and most other polarized words you will come across in any dictionary. Things don’t get better in a world where you have designated the rules as dualistic and therefore inherently unstable and combatative.

From the viewpoint of unity, there is peace and deep acceptance of whatever comes to pass, because it is acknowledged deeply that everything is unified. This could be called many things, but essentially it means not minding what happens. This is not the same as apathy, or fatalism.

Apathy could be defined as not caring what happens because the world is seen as unsatisfactory, irrespective of what it should happen to contain. This is clearly an expression of duality.

Fatalism has two distinct philosophical meanings, the first is the belief that everything that happens is fated to happen. This may or not be true, and does not fall within the relevance of the present moment. How could anyone know this? What difference would it make to reality for you to believe it?

The second meaning is that of an extreme form of pessimism. This again is duality. Perspectives always see the world through a lens, which means they always imply an agenda – shoulds, should nots and endless efforts at negotiating with what is.

Reality has no agenda, it simply appears unfolding in the moment. Any notion of there needing to be something different to how it presently is occurs only within our cranial vaults. The view from beyond duality reveals the entire cosmos to be marvellous perfection. This can only happen when the false tyranny of the fragmentary mind has been deposed. When the conditioned structures which cloud your vision and prevent you from seeing clearly are removed or at least become transparent, you will see for yourself the breadth and perfection of the Divine.

People who despise the world, having mistaken part of the world for the whole and identifying suffering as essential to existence, are often some of the most vociferous. If you really don’t care, why is it that you care to have your opinions expressed to as many people as possible? Is it a sign of strength to want for others to know your opinion of not caring? What is the nature of the fleeting sense of satisfaction this expression offers you? Do you achieve a specialness from feeling more separate, do you feel adulated as a victim?

All cultures and subcultures, like all individuals, claim specialness, either overtly or implicitly.

It is ironic that there are even subcultures which claim their specialness by being indifferent to wider societal values. They are never so indifferent as to cease insisting that the society they wish to be seen opposing recognises them, even if only to push them away.

Even the most anarchistic and refractory of these subcultures insist on showing their open contempt for the rest of society and their rejection of its values and interests.

It is not enough for them to quietly keep their thoughts, beliefs and values to themselves. Like most egoic entities, they want you to either agree with them, or react against them. If they were truly indifferent and special in the way they would have us believe, why do they do they continue to insist that their differences be recognised by those whom they claim to be possessed of less wisdom?

Again, because all social divisions claiming special status or exclusion are ego based, it is that they want to be recognised as being different (and therefore special) by everyone else. Otherwise, ego would have no audience, and that is not a game that interests an entity whose only conception of being is based on perception of popular opinion – reflected image.

Within both society and individuals there is a strongly ingrained egoic yearning to appear special and to ‘stand out’. Advertising is built upon exploiting this self-induced fiction. The way that egos attempt to establish specialness and distinction is limitless, but they all derive from the same source, the same fictitious drive to appear in order to appropriate being or ‘realness’.

The compulsion to identify with unpopular or unconventional things is not indicative of freedom/authenticity or having somehow transcended the cycle of suffering, rather it is confirmation of the mind/ego’s insistence upon rating everything according to popularity and convention, even when expressed in ‘negative’ terms.

People are particularly aggrieved when something which they like which is relatively unpopular suddenly catches on as a craze. This is why there are bumper stickers and t-shirts which say “I liked (x) before it was popular”. Why should this happen? What is the relevance of this personal investment?

Liking something which is relatively unpopular confers a certain exclusivity. When this thing, whether it is a food, band, or a person, becomes widely appreciated, i.e. ‘popular’, then your claim to exclusivity is forfeit – a piece of life which you thought made you special is now lost, and there is a resulting pain.

This has curious effects. One might be that the thing which was previously identified with is rejected, and your attitude undergoes complete reversal in reaction to popularity – you become a ‘hater’. Otherwise, you might continue to enjoy it, but not feel the capacity to let go of your story about how at one point in your life you had the wisdom and refinement of taste to appreciate (x) before it gained popularity, hence the perceived need for the t-shirts and bumper stickers which congratulate your good taste.

There are people who reject popular films solely by virtue of their popularity alone and insist on praising the merits of less-popular films. This is where the terms ‘overrated’ and ‘underrated’ become especially relevant. You can be in chains by playing the role of the conformist, but you can be equally chained by playing the role of the dissident.

The lower self will happily work either way. One ego might see strength in crowds, popularity, and herd mentality, as in the case of most religions and global fads.

Another might reject the popular on the grounds that they would not be highlighted as sufficiently special, and adopt unconventional beliefs, dress, tastes, lifestyle in order to stand out. They see their implicit rejection of society as a show of force and a testament to their strength.

Ego will work with anything it has available in order to appear stronger. Going with the flow of society appears to have strength and momentum, and opposing it creates ripples. Either way, ego seeks confirmation of its relevance and specialness.

Awareness itself has no dog in the fight. It does not even register the conflict, since it does not arise from inherent duality as the lower self does. Mind is dualistic and therefore highly selective about the kinds of experience it would like to have and those it would rather avoid. It separates possible experience into categories and forms strategies for manipulating life in what it perceives to be its favour.

Awareness just watches. It does not discriminate between fictitious categories of experience or quality. It exists in radiant openness to this moment.

The more energy and ‘time’ that is invested in a life replete with mind, the more plans your mind will make for you, which means fabricated problems, disappointments, thrills and complications.

The more energy is withdrawn from mind and back into the source of that power, which is pre-reflective awareness, the more you live a life that is peaceful, ordinary, and free from the desperate need to stand out or ‘make it’. Identity is free to rest as itself in vibrant awareness.

From a higher perspective, none of this is ‘good’ or ‘bad’. It is just where you happen to be at this point in life. Not everyone’s relationship with this moment is dysfunctional, but most are. Some of the effects of this are stress, dissatisfaction, yearning for specialness and recognition, anxiety, depression and a persistent sense of disconnection from life as well as other people.

It isn’t surprising that people gravitate towards consciousness when their suffering increases. Some people feel that they are pleasurably lost in the complexities of life – that’s fine. That’s part of the game too, only sooner or later everyone will be reminded that all experiences are temporary.

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Simon P. Murphy is the author of His Master’s Wretched Organ, a collection of short horror stories that deal with questions of transcendence, terror and spiritual absolution.

Spirituality Is The Ultimate Threat To The Government

The quintessential psychedelic experience is to gradually but irreversibly become aware of any of a range of truths about reality, such as that there is no such thing as death, or that life is only a dream, or that on the other side of the illusion is bliss. Few understand that it is becoming aware of these spiritual truths that has given the control freaks cause to make psychedelics illegal.

There’s nothing more illegal than true spirituality. There will never be anything more illegal than true spirituality – by definition – because true spirituality is the antidote to all forms of slavery, whether by iron, silver or gold.

In order to enslave someone, it is necessary to first cause them suffering, so that an alleviation of that suffering can be offered in exchange for acquiescence. This is true of every level of primate hierarchies from monkeys to humans, and is even true of some mammals and reptiles.

The suffering can either be physical in the form of pain or psychological in the form of fear (or, most commonly, both). If either of those is present in a target it is possible to enslave them by granting them alleviation.

However, there is a trick, not known to everyone: that all suffering is an illusion borne of an incorrect (if tempting) over-identification with one of the temporal forms of the material world.

In other words, if you refrain from identifying excessively with one of the ever-changing patterns that present themselves to your consciousness, you can exist in the full knowledge that you are that eternal, indivisible consciousness.

An excessive identification with the phenomena of “your body” is the most common of these.

The more strongly a person identifies with their body, the more sharply they will feel the pain of that body, and consequently the more passionately they will resist being put in situations that cause them pain – even if their escape from them comes through causing others to suffer even more.

This excessive identification with one’s body is fundamentally an error caused by a lack of spiritual knowledge. Therefore, anyone aiming to enslave anyone else must begin with the spiritual enslavement of his enemy, for without this no other form is possible.

And so, slavery begins by separating people from their birthright – which is to know the spiritual truths.

After all, how can a person be controlled when that person is no longer in fear of death?

The whole point of Government is that, if there was ever a war, you’d be the one fighting it and the people who currently make up the Government would be giving you orders from a safe distance.

How they get you to be the sharp end of the spear and not themselves (or their offspring, or their political donors or their offspring) is the result of the successful application of a set of mass psychology tricks that have been refined ever since Babylon.

The main objective of this set of tricks is to separate people from their birthright to know spiritual truths by instead filling their heads with lies, violence, deception, hatred, rape and destruction.

The more a person’s head is filled with such, the more easily they can be enslaved.

Ironically, the more afraid of death a person is, the more powerfully they attract it – a fact understood by men of gold since Egypt. The more powerfully they attract death the more fear they suffer, and the more fear they suffer the more easily they can be enslaved.

Or more to the point, the more easily they can be persuaded to submit to slavery in exchange for amelioration of the suffering caused by the fear.

Hence it has been said, by men of gold in all times and places, that “The truth will set you free.”

Anyone truly spiritual is invincible; this is true of all levels of the Great Fractal, from individuals all the way back to complete unity of consciousness.

For the sort of person that seeks to enslave rather than to co-operate on even terms, spirituality is effectively their ideological enemy.

And so, it is possible to get life imprisonment for giving a person some LSD – even with their informed consent – even while people are given much more lenient sentences for physically or psychologically brutalising their fellows.

The Peacock’s Tale: The Fundamentals of Alchemical Transmutation

Science would have us believe that it has debunked alchemy. The narrative we are given is that the discipline of alchemy was a fundamentally flawed and erroneous form of primitive chemistry that has been ‘disproven’on account of failing to physically transmute lead into gold.

Therefore, so one stream of popular wisdom concludes, the value of alchemy is reduced to zero, and it is to be discarded as pseudoscience and relegated to the annals of weird illustrations and woodcuts.

This view is exceptionally narrow. What else does the process of transmutation have to teach us? What about at the level of the phenomenal, the level of mental space?

Esoteric alchemy refers to the inner meaning of the alchemical project. This refers to the state of consciousness. This is where all true alchemy takes place. This is the beating heart of the Hermetic philosophy. This is the centre to which all alchemical mythologies point.

There are many ways to explain or mythologise this, but look at the primary objective of alchemy, which is to transmute the lower into the higher. Lower into higher vibrations, one polarity into another, one substance or form into another. This is represented allegorically in the traditional depictions of the alchemist in his laboratory with various chemicals, flasks and equipment.

The common practice in any culture is to discard what is seen as without value, the chaff, the dregs. This is seen as common wisdom, but it is also entrenched in duality, the frame of the world being divided into poles of value and experience.

We take what we call ‘negative’ energy, and we try to relieve ourselves of it by throwing it away, condemning it, ignoring it or repressing it.

This is unwise, according to the practice of alchemy. You do not discard the lower, you transmute it. This may have been what Jesus meant when he said “Show me the stone that the builder has rejected, that is the cornerstone”.

You do not seek outside of yourself for what you imagine to offer you reprieve or salvation. You begin where you are, with what you have.

If you discard the lower, you will simply continue to receive more of it and nothing will ever change. The alchemist who does nothing with the lead bars he is regularly delivered packs it away into his steadily growing warehouse and sits idle without tending his furnace, ready for his children to inherit his hoard, and so on ad infinitum.

What we do not attend to alchemically is passed on in one way or another. It can be the thoughts, habits, and behaviours we pass on, or it may be the mark we have left upon the world in the form of how we treated others, how we approached problems, or the structures we reinforced and lent our support to during our time on the planet.

This is immediately evident to us because this is what we are confronted with, a world of inherited structures and agreements, things that those before us have gone into accord with and left for others to navigate.

When you are given lead bars, you are not being gifted with chaff and dregs. You are being gifted with the energy of life, the building blocks that you have the option of transmuting through a little know-how and a lot of persistence.

We are not merely talking of positive thinking or making lemons into lemonade. Alchemy does not put a ‘positive spin’ on things, it transforms them.

Imagine someone who has acquired a lot of rubbish in their backyard. A person in a low state of consciousness might discount personal responsibility for the mess. There is a level of consciousness at which others are viewed as separate and that you can better yourself at the expense of others.

Someone at this level of consciousness may attempt to relieve their mess by throwing rubbish over the fence for the neighbour to deal with. The mess hasn’t been dealt with but has only been temporarily relocated, and at someone else’s expense.

This is essentially what happens on an energetic level when you do not take direct responsibility for the management of your vibration.

For example, when you experience feelings of anger and you choose to ‘vent’ this by polluting others with your energy by giving them ‘a piece of your mind’, or at the least, attacking them energetically with resentment and anger, or at an even lower level, physically assaulting someone.

All you are doing is unloading your energy elsewhere, claiming implicitly that you are not personally responsible and that others ought to be made accountable. This is literally insane.

How can our lead become gold? After all, this is the esoteric meaning of alchemy, the lifeblood within the flasks and vials. The philosopher’s stone is not some ancient artifact buried beneath the desert somewhere, waiting to be discovered and exploited. It is a tool integral to the self. You are your own alchemical laboratory, and you have all the tools at your disposal that you need to commence work. Everything that appears within your phenomenal space are the various reagents and elements you work with.

What does the work look like, you may ask?

It is deceptively simple, but it does require understanding, vigilance and persistence. For any of this to take place at all you need to be in your laboratory, your workshop with a primed furnace.

The requirement is conscious vigilance. This is variously referred to as occupying the witness state, the seat of awareness, or ‘to keep one’s lamp burning’. In the simplest of terms, this means: stay awake.

The next most important component of this is the power of intent. In other words, in order for this process to begin, you need to care enough to attend to it. If you do not care enough about transmutation, it will not happen until you are prepared.

Here is where the real magic happens: that which arises in a state of vigilant awareness is transmuted form lower into higher. There is only one state in which this can occur, and that is the state of burning awakeness. St. John referred to this eloquently when he said: “anything which is shown up to the light will itself becomes light”.

You cannot be in two states at once, the higher and the lower simultaneously. This is the reason that Jesus said that an archer cannot bend two bows, nor can a servant serve two masters. If these lower energies are active in a lower state of mind, then they will remain unaffected and they will perpetuate.

This is the state humans are almost always in, so of course there will be no transformative change. The witness state, the third order of awareness, changes everything it comes in contact with.

It is called, in the Eastern traditions, the burning sword of Prajna, the wisdom that cuts through any deceit that is given up to it.

In order for this to work, you must be willing to subject what you perceive as your darkest idols of mind before the light of awareness. If there is anger, jealousy or arrogance, do not give it half-heartedly, but feel it expressed all the way through. Feel it not as a victim, but as a witness sacrificing everything to the light of scrutiny.

Some have said that to arrive at this point of preparation may not be entirely in your control. It may have been borne of great suffering or the persistence of a burning question. Suffering is a great teacher in alchemy, because it shows you how all of the lead you are inheriting continues to impinge upon your well being until you discover that you can align the direction of your energy and begin to transmute.

In any case, you will not arrive at a point of readiness until you are genuinely ready, and finally that rests with you.

Where does the peacock fit into this?

There is a Chinese myth that the peacock lives in the deepest part of the forest where no other creatures dwell, where there is nothing to eat but poisonous plants. The peacocks eat what is available to them, and their ingestion of the plants does not poison them, but sustains them because they are employing a process of transmutation. They are taking what has been rejected by others.

What the peacock does in eating this poison is to turn it into a magnificent tail. One form of energy is translated into another.

This is a simple but powerful alchemical myth. Confronting rather than avoiding or displacing your lower vibrational energy may seem from the outside like eating poison. This includes all of your hatred, anger, depression, anxiety, and every other possible byproduct of fear and separation. But if you exert the power of will, it can be transmuted.

What then happens is that the power that has been processed is reclaimed and reborn in the heat of the refiner’s fire.

When science discounts the value of alchemy as a legitimate scientific endeavor, what it is really saying is that there is nothing that the scientific enterprise can gain from it. This may very well be true. A roadworks crew cutting out a culvert in a hill do not care about whether they destroy any rare fossils that they should happen to dig up, because the only thing that is within their purview is cutting out a path for a new road.

Of course, a paleontologist or museum curator might be mortified by the lack of respect shown, but that is only because they see a value there that the roadworkers do not. It simply doesn’t fall within their brief to make allowance to preserving the rare and delicate.

Science has a tendency to see what it values and discard the rest, which makes for a poor alchemical exercise. Of course, this does not mean there cannot ever be a roadworker who values fossils, or a scientist who values spiritual alchemy – only that the institutions that they are operating within as cultural frames of reference have a limited field of value and interest. They have quite different objectives.

The claim of science is to have debunked alchemy on the point that it has failed to turn lead into gold. This is no more conclusive or meaningful than saying science has debunked the efficacy of 12-step program because the building where the AA meeting took place did not have 12 steps at the door.

The power of alchemy as I would argue lies in its being what I refer to as an instructional mythology of transformational psychology. It is not compromised by any material objection regarding the physics or chemistry of alchemy.

Similarly, Plato’s myth of the cave is not rendered redundant because there is proof that humans do not physically live in caves, or that Michelangelo’s Sistine frescoes are worthless because there is no evidence of the Biblical account of creation.

Again, science has a limited range within its values. It can astonish with its design of spacecraft and captivate with its production of taxonomical charts, but success in these endeavours, or any serious endeavor, for that matter, tend to come at the cost of wearing blinkers.

To achieve these things, it is true that there must be ambition, dedication and methodology to be sure. However, science simply cannot afford to dive into the many questions that a spiritual psychology such as alchemy raises. It is a different undertaking, demanding a different application of one’s talents and energies.

I would further argue that alchemy is essentially a kind of roadmap to spiritual awakening. In this respect, it is no different to mystical Christianity or Buddhism, or any disciplined regimen of self-inquiry or meditation, only that it represents a map in a different language. The Buddha cautioned against mistaking the finger pointing at the moon for the moon itself. All of the obscure reagents and paraphernalia of alchemy may be seen as the finger pointing at the moon – there is no need to get caught up in it.

If you’re reading this, chances are you have a burning furnace you might want tend to. Why not go and see for yourself what significance alchemy might have in your own life.

*

Simon P. Murphy is the author of His Master’s Wretched Organ.

Poetry K-Hole 6: The Infernal Principles

If you want to keep living in hell, treat other people the way you would never want to be treated.

Judge, abuse and criticise them and wait for the same energy to return to you.

If you want to keep living in hell, hold yourself in light and righteousness and keep your fellows at an arm’s length in darkness and condemnation.

If you want to keep living in hell, keep chasing and clinging to things, objects, people, experiences and ideas, to temporarily fill the void which you refuse to acknowledge is even there.

Keep pushing away the things, objects, people, experiences and ideas that threaten your creations.

Stay attached to clinging or rejecting.

If you want to stay in hell, never stop running.

Insist that slowing down to rest must mean that life has defeated you and therefore exhaustion must be a sign of weakness.

If you want to stay in hell, hold fast to your grievances and your stubborn beliefs.

Keep fighting what you have always fought to strengthen the enmity and hatred, never apologise, never forgive, and never, ever let go of your right to feel victimised and offended.

If you want to stay in hell, keep insisting that the world ought to conform to your ideas about how everything should change, and how you know what is best and that if only everyone did exactly as you wanted, then everything would fall neatly into place.

If you want to stay in hell, never accept yourself and your fellows for who they are.

Do not honour what you have been given, and do not honour the right of others to choose.

Fight to become more than what you are – better, stronger, more pure, more noble, more worthy.

If you want to stay in hell, give your authority away, anywhere, but only give it away where it does not threaten to touch you.

Give it to your thoughts, your family, your religion, your government.

If you want to stay in hell, insist on this game of the ever-turning wheel.

Submit to being ever thrown up and ever cast down, bound by chains of sin and chains of virtue.

Never step off this wheel on pain of disappearing into stillness and absence of definition.

*

Simon P. Murphy is the author of His Master’s Wretched Organ.

Trip Report: 35mg 2C-B-FLY (Doors of Deception)

2000: Took 17.5mg 2C-B-FLY in gelcap form. I am with two very good friends, R and S, who I am visiting on holiday. We are at R’s place, and we are all in a very positive mood on account of this social encounter, which we had been looking forward to for some time.

R’s place is pretty cool, a quiet house on a section of the coast about an hour North of Wellington, New Zealand. Very chilled, there’s a friendly black cat hanging out with us and R strums some tunes on his bass guitar.

+0.30: Feeling talkative, a bit high, but not really buzzing. Took another 17.5mg on the basis that I had not felt anything negative from the first gelcap.

For anyone else thinking of taking 35mg of 2C-B-FLY, do take into account that I weigh 115kg, am a highly experienced psychedelic drug user, and in retrospect consider this dose very strong. A person unfamiliar with this substance will almost certainly have a better time taking less than 35mg.

+0.40: Laughing a lot, starting to come on. This is consistent with the trip reports I read immediately pre-trip, which seemed to suggest that the real effects began after 45-50 minutes.

+1.15: A very light-hearted buzz. R, S and I are cracking jokes and the laughter is deep and such that I feel lost in it, a kind of laughter that makes me forget all my problems.

It may just be the set and setting, but I have a good sense that 2C-B-FLY is a legitimate entactogen in its own right, as the three of us are having a great time just conversing with heightened perceptions.

+1.45: I am holding court on the nature of God. My contention is that, because God is perfection God necessarily takes the form of infinite and eternal purity. Although this is perfect there are perspectives and dimensions in which it isn’t perfect on account of suboptimal levels of novelty.

God has therefore allowed itself to become degraded in a fractal form. Each of us are a subset of the Great Fractal, the precise morphology of this subset being a unique iteration of a function of the ways in which God has allowed its purity to become concealed behind a veil of impurity.

The exact pattern of this impurity is what gives life its colour, for in a state of perfection such colour does not exist. Therefore, God has achieved a higher purpose than perfection through its own voluntary degradation.

Every single one of us is some kind of glorious cripple, in our freakiness even higher than God.

R seems to agree, and seems impressed with this insight. S seems a bit more skeptical.

+2.00: I go outside for a joint. Coughing my guts out, but I notice that I am feeling extremely positive, like I have an intuitive premonition that I am about to get exactly what I wanted. A sense of anticipation is building from a warmth in my body.

+2.45: Feel almost sober now. This lasts for a while, at least ten minutes, and I am convinced that this means the end of the trip. Mild to moderate disappointment.

+3.30: The trip has now surged back to a new high. I am clearly still peaking, even coming up to four hours after dropping the first cap. R and S agree that they have had similar feelings of the trip being over but they are also feeling new levels of high.

+4.00: I’m outside in winter with a cold wind blowing but feel very warm. It’s as if an internally generated heat from within my very centre is providing easily enough warmth to keep my skin warm.

This feeling is one of my favourite psychedelic vibes. It’s a sense of remembering that ultimately everything is fine in the universe. Considering that this is about 40 hours before the winter solstice at 41 degrees latitude it is reasonably cold in meatspace, so in my head I know I am overcoming my immediate challenges.

+5.30: At the peak of the trip, there is an odd incident with R’s front door. S and I are outside having a joint, when R comes out appearing highly confused.

R tells us that when he went to open the front door from the inside, it was locked, even though S and I were outside, and the door could not have been locked from the outside because there is a key in the lock on the inside.

I genuinely don’t remember opening the door to go outside. I remembered opening it on the other occasions that I went through earlier in the night, because the locking mechanism is complicated and unfamiliar to me and so it required some thought to navigate.

Somehow it seems obvious to me, in this moment, that there are multiple dimensions of time that are only reliably available to consciousnesses greater than ours, but that even lower beings like humans can sometimes operate in five-dimensional space if the circumstances are correct.

For example, I am aware that the reality in which I am standing outside is very, very, very close in the Great Fractal to the reality in which I am standing inside. Therefore, moving from the latter to the former should not require a particularly great effort. Indeed, it could be so little an effort that a sufficiently advanced consciousness could do it on autopilot and not remember.

This necessarily means that whether or not the door was closed is entirely irrelevant. If you can move in five-dimensional space then three-dimensional obstacles such as closed doors cannot properly hinder you, any more than a two-dimensional obstacle such as a gently inclined path could properly hinder a person walking in four-dimensional space.

At the same time, I appreciate that this logic cannot properly be comprehended in a non-psychedelic state, and might well strike me as baffling in the morning.

+6.00: By now I have convinced myself that 2C-B-FLY is a genuinely top shelf psychedelic.

The most interesting thing about it is its unpredictability. There were many times in the first four hours of the trip that I had convinced myself that it had started to wear off.

+8.00: I am talking to R. Although I can make sense of the words he is saying, the face with which he says it keeps distorting. I always see a man of about the same age, his features keep changing – from bald to having short blonde hair, and from that to having a shaven head with a long brown ponytail, like a Hare Krishna.

His eyes and nose are imprecise and seem to keep shifting and streaking away, not dissimilar to the experience of Hunter S. Thompson checking into the Mint Hotel, as depicted in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

+9.30: All three of us are still on a pronounced high, but there is a definite sense of brain resources now being depleted and the necessity of sleep is looming. Despite that, the conversation shifts to salvia divinorum, of which we have a small pile.

We take turns in ceremonially smoking fat bowls of salvia from a big pipe, and our consciousnesses leave meatspace entirely. Profoundly intense hallucinatory experiences (and here is not the place to describe them) and I think being on 2C-B-FLY may have potentiated the salvia.

+11.30: Time for bed, not really tripping any more but still on a high from having had an excellent time. Sleep comes quickly.

All in all, the experience is highly reminiscent of a good mescaline + MDMA trip, but without anything close to the body load or nausea that usually comes with either cactus or MDMA.

It had both a psychedelic and an entactogenic effect on me. Perhaps the psychedelic element was slightly muted compared to the entactogenic one. Sometimes I felt like I was drunk at a party because I didn’t give a fuck but in contrast to booze the 2C-B-FLY did not give me any bad physical effects, not during the trip or the day after, when I felt perfectly fine.

It was definitely much better to do this with a few friends than at home by myself. The experience was not much like psilocybin and it was probably even more masculine than LSD, so there didn’t seem to be much value in a introspective silent darkness style use of the substance.

Because of its unpredictability, I definitely would not want to drive or hang out in public on 2C-B-FLY. It shifted gears strongly and swiftly and without warning – which is awesome fun in the right setting, with the right friends and low levels of drama.

Who Is At The Helm of Your Ship?

Now, there are guides to help you improve yourself in almost every conceivable way – fitness, nutrition, assertiveness, financial success – just to name a few. There are, however, very few sources of basic information as to how to step into your own dominion as the being who is charge of your interior space. This includes mental health and mental well-being, but also on a deeper level this brings into question the spiritual value of your choices to invest in certain patterns of thinking and behaving.This article is intended to start at the very beginning, and focus on the core question of what it means to actually be you.

You have found yourself in a very interesting place. At some point, all of you can recall with varying degrees of clarity having found yourself inexplicably, but certainly and palpably, being. You likely discovered this miraculous fact at some point in childhood, and it may be connected with a certain person, place, event, or other circumstance. Regardless, somehow and at some point, it became significant to you that you undeniably exist.

This may have been one moment of sudden, eerie clarity when the veil lifted, and you saw for what seemed to be the first time that there was a real space participating in reality, and that space was identical with you. It could have arisen in one of many forms. For some people, it dawns as the realisation of your own mortality as a pet, grandparent or some other loved one or relative passes away. For some, it is the sudden and strange sense of being cordoned off from the rest of the cosmos, as though somehow out of the totality of reality, a tiny, solitary atom of existence just sprang into being. For some, it comes as a sense of one’s self becoming smaller and smaller until you are just a head upon a pillow or sitting upon two shoulders.

However it comes, it is a moment of monumental significance. One might even say it is of absolute significance, since everything you have ever or will ever experience will be encapsulated within this strange state, this radiant conscious space in which thoughts and feelings occur, and from which the world before you appears as sky, stars, mountains oceans, and your own hands and feet.

This space that you operate from, that you are, is referred to as phenomenal space. It is the context in which all content occurs, consciousness itself. You can know it is you because every single thing about you can change except for this one thing. You may change nationalities, identities, names, roles, relationships, genders – even species, but never this. You may think the last example odd, but consider how even the strangest of your dreams was still a theater in which the contextual space which you was still the referential hub from which you operate from as an entity. You could have dreamt you were a star, an ant, or the entire sky, but awareness was nevertheless present, and awareness was irrevocably you.

It goes without saying that to wake up as this thing is utterly strange. People are mystified by the strangeness of death, that one should exist one moment and not exist the next, that one should go to sleep one last time and never again wake. Only rarely do we see the sheer strangeness of our inception in this life, awaking out of apparent nothingness as though someone could have woken up without having ever gone to sleep. Birth is a far more mysterious phenomenon than death, and reflects the same questions about the universe on a microscopic scale: how the hell could anything whatsoever come to be? How could being arise, how could consciousness unfold?

And of course, these are the timeless questions of all science and philosophy, the most poignant of human endeavours to ascertain the truth of the matter.

I remind you of this grand beginning because when you revisit the fact of your awareness, of your existence as awareness, you are beginning again at each moment. This is the beginning of your awareness in this immediately perceivable moment right now. You were not conscious in childhood, or yesterday, you are conscious here and now. This is the space I invite you to operate in for the remainder of this article.

And so I come to ask you: who is at the helm of your ship? I use this as a convenient analogy, because the body is like a ship, a vessel for the consciousness – but it makes no difference, you are entirely free to discard the analogy and select your own.

I don’t come to you presuming to teach you anything you yourself do not already know. I am in no privileged position. On the contrary, you are the author of your own space and this is the respect in which you have authority. You are in creative control, and you have no need of anyone to affirm or deny this to affect the truth you know to be true.

Sometimes there is remembrance of the simple fact of our being, and sometimes there is forgetfulness. More often than not, it is forgetfulness and being caught up in everything the perceived world has to offer.

Now, let it be said that this is quite normal. It may not be sane, or conducive to mental and spiritual well-being, but it is normal. Every human either does it, or has done it. The capacity to choose to remember (re-member: to collect together the multiple aspects of your being) is by necessity accompanied by the capacity to choose to forget. Don’t take my word for this, nor anyone else’s – find out for yourself, in your own living experience when, where and how you choose to remember and forget.

It happens with everyone cyclically, and makes no distinction between the saint and the man sitting on death row.

Who are you? Remember, because it won’t be someone else who tells you, it is you who knows.

I want to leave aside all questions of why the world seems to be the way it is. None of that is relevant here in this article. The fact is: the world as it is appears to you the way it does, and you are consciousness – again, find out for yourself whether this is true.

What next? You have choices to make.

Observe the patterns of your thinking, your behaviour, your emotions. Observe the entirety of it. Find out whether you can do this – there is no law claiming that you cannot, see for yourself.

What you may find is that for very long periods, some longer than others, you have been asleep while the helm or the steering wheel has still been turning. It is never still – forces toss the vessel this way and that, to and fro, and action occurs in the world whether you are operating from a place of your dominion, from the seat of your awareness, or not. Decisions are made, events take place. There is either a decision on how you choose to act or react, or there is a delegation of the decision to take place at a lower level in which you do not claim your authority, sometimes referred to as ‘the draw of the lower self’. In any case, choice is happening, happening, happening.

The only question is: are you in the place you want to be? Are you wanting to be in a place of authorship in this life? If you are like any other person in the history of the species, chances are very high that you have deferred this authority time and time again. I want to talk about why this should happen. Let’s now take a look at the role of conditioning.

What is conditioning? Conditioning is a structure like a pathway that can be followed. Think of it as a conduit in which you have the choice to run your energy through. Conditioning could be anything, but the most common kinds of conditioning tend to be genetic and cultural.

Conditioning accounts for an utterly enormous amount of possible human behaviours, pathological or otherwise. The tendency to seek a mate, the desire for food, the aversion to illness and death, the repetition of traditional behaviours and practices, the safeguarding of certain values in society. Almost everything in your life that you can see, hear, feel or think is related to conditioning.

The more energy that has been invested through these conduits, the more easily they are relied upon and reinforced. They are chosen again and again, because these routes are familiar and they are ‘tried and true’ as part of your conditioned reasoning might assert.

It runs very, very deep. In fact, it can be extraordinarily challenging to find any space from it unless you meditate or at least spend time by yourself apart from the incessant influx. Think now upon smaller ways in which conditioning has a presence in your life. The choice to have a meal at a certain time. Isn’t that comforting? The choice to stay with food that you liked, and that your parents liked. Isn’t that comforting? The choice to align to what most other people you know think and believe politically. How does that feel? Does it make you feel safe, loved, part of something larger and more secure?

Now, a disclaimer: not everything that is conditioning is bad. Forget good and bad for a moment. I don’t want to evaluate any of these behaviours as good or bad. That is not my goal here. All I want to do is ask you to see where you are in awareness, where you are in your choice. Are you at the wheel, are you at the helm? Because the simple fact is, if you are not, all of the decisions you make while the real you is absent are being made elsewhere, and these routes of conditioning are very, very easy to pour energy into. They are safe, they are familiar, they are repeated by generation after generation, they have a momentum spanning lifetimes and everything your culture has is designed to grease the wheels of society in such a way that these routes are essentially self-maintaining.

This also includes personal culture, the habits, attitudes and behaviours you have acquired and assented to as an embodied ‘self’. Some of those may be violent, self-harming, vindictive, but they needn’t be. Conditioning also covers relatively benign things such as the way you dress and whether you like sports or build model railways.

What does your culture consist of? It could be binge-drinking on the weekend, or making yourselves nationally feel proud and righteous in order to separate yourself from other countries. It doesn’t matter, it is all conditioning, even the ‘good’ things. These are all very much self-regulating, and they are advertised in the most perfect way possible, because the next generation grow up exposed to the same assumptions and behaviours that their parents were. Every day parents advertise to their children. They advertise their religious beliefs, their worldview, their political beliefs, their national identity, and children won’t even know it is advertising unless they are occupying their space, and that may be a level of spiritual maturity they may very well have not come into yet. They will think all of the ‘facts’ they are digesting must be part of reality, and therefore something worth assimilating simply by virtue of existing.

So you can see the importance of being in space in which you can look at this influx from a place of discernment. You do not need any special education to occupy this space. All it takes is the intention to remain vigilant as what some spiritual traditions refer to as ‘the witness’ and what modern psychology refers to as ‘third order awareness’ (awareness of knowing that you are aware). All you are doing is viewing what is coming through as whether it is congruent, and here I am using this word to mean ‘resonates with your deepest understanding of how reality is’.

For example, you may be aware of the fact that some people are given medicine by missionaries to the degree that they are willing to capitulate to the religious instruction of another culture. You may find that this practice is not congruent, simply because if you are honest with yourself, you really feel that on the deepest level we are all deserving of unconditional help and such a thing should never be asked of a person in need. You may, or may not – that is your purview. This is not necessarily right or wrong, good or bad, but the intention to operate from your deepest knowing and from your space of who you are at the deepest level is how you move forward.

No one can tell you what decisions to make, or what you should feel in accord with as good or bad, right or wrong. You are not a puppet of cultural forces, unless you choose to allow such a manipulation to happen. When you are in your authority, you are operating from connection to the truth of who you are as consciousness. All anyone can ever do is to remind you of this. Find out for yourself whether any of this is true. If it doesn’t resonate with you, you are in your authority to leave it.

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Simon P. Murphy is the author of His Master’s Wretched Organ, a collection of short horror stories that deal with questions of transcendence, terror and spiritual absolution.

How to Self-Evaluate Your Own Religious Integrity, in Eleven Premises

Premise 1: My religion represents the exclusive truth.

By way of an answer, consider this: which of the following scriptures have you devoted to rigorous and charitable study: The Koran, The Bible, The Torah, The Bhagavad Gita, The Upanishads, The Tibetan Book of the Dead, The Gnostic Gospels?

Consider approximately in hours, days, months, weeks or years your devoted study to each, and then review your assertion of Premise 1 from a space of honesty and integrity. You will review this yourself with no higher authority than your own to judge.

Premise 2: My religion is unique.

Every religion is unique in its own way. This by itself does not lend a measure of truthfulness. For example, only Buddhism holds that if a statement should not accord with your own sense of reason, then you need not accept it, even if is spoken by Buddha. This may make Buddhism unique, but it does not immediately qualify it as true.

Islam holds that Mohammed flew to heaven on a winged horse. Again, this qualifies Islam as unique, but it does not immediately qualify it as true. Even the belief that Jesus was the son of a virgin and died upon the cross for our sins is not unique to Christianity, as this mythology was already present in a much earlier religion called Mithraism.

Premise 3:

I feel very strongly about my religion/
I have perfect faith in my religion/
I know in my heart that my religion is true/
I have special access to the truth/
I have had special spiritual experiences with this religion that confirm my belief

So does everyone else who adheres to a religion, even to the extent that they would sacrifice their own lives for their faith, Sikh, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Christian, Mayan. They each have heaven, miracles, saints and holy days. If their faith is as strong as your own, can it be possible that you are both correct? Are you both wrong? Is there another possibility? What are to be your standards for judging, given that you are the advocate of only your own religion?

Premise 4: When I am uncomfortable, something is wrong and I should therefore avoid it.

False. Something is not wrong when a dancing bear has the ring removed from its nose, and something is not wrong when a woman is in childbirth. When you question your convictions, you are stepping into your own authority and demanding that your assumptions meet the appropriate conditions – namely, that they reflect truth. The most wonderful and transformative change is often initially uncomfortable, this does not mean it is not worthwhile.

Premise 5: Those who encourage me to question my faith are agents of of evil or are otherwise trying to lead me astray.

To the extent that you believe this, you will remain in a spiritual cell. The only thing you have to lose by questioning your beliefs and convictions is illusion – you get to keep anything that is true. No one imprisons you but you, and by your own free choice. Are you worried about losing the illusory? Are you worried about losing what is false?

Recognise this responsibility to yourself and to those who depend upon you. There is no one to reply to, object to, or argue with in this situation, because the only person you need to answer to here is you.

Premise 6: The truth of my religion is established to the extent that we have faced persecution.

This is assumed by every religion. Every religion faces persecution from every other religion, and yet each religion assumes the role of passive victimhood. This is simply not true. All religions both persecute and are persecuted, and all have a history of violence.

Premise 7: My religious community shares love with each other and that is real.

It may very well be true, but so does every other community, religious or not. How do you treat those who choose to leave your community? Do you judge them? Often the love shared between members of a church or a religion is actually conditional. We are happy to give love, care and attention to others within our group just so long as they live up to our expectations by believing what we believe and behaving in ways acceptable to us.

If they leave, then what happens? If their religious commitments change, then what happens? If your religion teaches that they should be treated any different, does that resonate with you on the deepest level?

Premise 8: The holy scriptures that my religious beliefs are based on are very old, and can be proven authentic because within those scriptures is the promise that it is true.

Again, this is ‘true’ for every single scripture-based religious tradition. Each relies upon a circular argument. “God has divinely authored a book in which he promises he was the author, and God would not lie”. This is self-contradictory, and the absurdity of it is clearly seen when the same assumptions are championed by other religions with entirely different assumptions.

Premise 9: If I did not maintain the beliefs, traditions and practices set out by my religion, then the world would collapse into moral anarchy.

The sad irony is that the world is already in a continually worsening state of moral collapse, largely due to interfaith conflict. Please read this last sentence more than once, because it is imperative that you understand. If multiple groups are being guided by inflexible moral rules that are in fact mutually exclusive, then conflict is the inevitable result. Period.

Premise 10: I would rather be wrong with my own religious group than right by supporting beliefs that I experience as heretical, distasteful or challenging.

This is very important to review for yourself, because herein lies the crux of the issue of personal moral and epistemic integrity. That which is true will not always conform to your expectations, preconceptions, and certainly not your comfort zone. Read this last sentence twice, please. It is imperative to understand. If you choose to be wrong with your own group, you are not in your integrity, because what you are in fact choosing is to be in your comfort zone rather than in respect to Truth.

Premise 11: Other religions and belief systems are immoral and misguided.

Now, if you are fundamentalist of any kind this has to appear to be true for you, because you have concluded that the rules set out by your own tradition are exclusively correct. You may be surprised to find with a little honest research that some traditions are very much aligned to your own. They may have an attitude of high respect and tolerance for their ingroup and an attitude of disapproval and even violence of their outgroup. They may even walk the talk better than your own tradition.

For example, the Islamic practice of stoning adulterers and homosexuals is frowned upon by moderate Christians, even though the moral law is expressly the same in the Koran as it is in the Old Testament. Fundamentalist Christians may not necessarily be so far off in disagreement with Radical Muslims.

There are also very loving and moderate religious traditions that may agree with your own teachings about expressing love to outsiders, forgiving wrongdoing and respectfully allowing others of different creeds to live in peace without imposing one’s own views and constraints upon them. Does that really sound so bad? If your teachings inspire you to anger and malign against others, can you honestly say that those beliefs are in the better interest of mankind?

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Simon P. Murphy is a Nelson-based writer. He is the author of the short story collection His Master’s Wretched Organ and the forthcoming Lexicanum Luciferium (both by VJM Publishing). His fiction is heavily influenced by Gnosticism and Alchemy, placing a central focus upon the theme of our navigation of an occulted reality through the use of archetypal symbolism.