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Lecture #5 given by XtalMag on April 8, 2007 in the English Club in Moscow.

Lecture #4 given by XtalMag on February 11, 2007 in the English Club in Moscow.

Lecture #3 given by XtalMag on December 24, 2006 in the English Club in Moscow.

Lecture #2 given by XtalMag on December 3, 2006 in the English Club in Moscow.

Lecture #1 given by XtalMag on November 12, 2006 and October 12, 2008 in the English Club in Moscow:

Lecture 1: Multiple Realities

"There is more to this world

than we see with our eyes.

There is more to this world

than we touch with our hands"

Flower Kings

A few words on terminology. We human beings are chained to words. If I think my interpretation or definition of a particular word is right, and that of another person is wrong, then I am ready to fight him and kill him. Take Christendom for instance. Many Christians believe that we consist of two parts: body and soul (or spirit, soul and spirit being synonymous). Other Christians believe that we are made of three parts: body, soul, and spirit—trichotomy instead of dichotomy—and that a clear distinction must be made between the soul and the spirit. The latter maintain that a verse in the New Testament supports them. Of course these days Christians don’t seem to fight physically anymore, but they still do fight verbally. From what I have observed, these two groups of Christians are not willing to reconcile. They hold to their own meanings of words instead of try and understand that maybe they all refer to the same reality when they say "soul" or "spirit". But the Reality doesn’t speak English. It does not know about the problems of all these people. The thing is, the universe is much more complicated than our limited human language is (it’s not hard to see), that’s why the dilemma.

So sorcerers are referring to the reality, to the multiple realities, to the realities of sorcery instead of trying to render strict definitions and develop a beautiful logical structure. Philosophers have been doing this for millennia, but sorcerers don't. And sometimes the habitual words which meanings are familiar to you will be confusing in this context.

Definition of sorcery. At various times don Juan, Carlos Castaneda’s teacher, attempted to name his knowledge. He felt that the most appropriate name was nagualism, but that the term was too obscure. Calling it simply "knowledge" made it too vague, and to call it "witchcraft" was debasing. "The mastery of intent" was too abstract, and "the search for total freedom" too long and metaphorical. Finally, because he was unable to find a more appropriate name, he called it "sorcery", although he admitted it was not really accurate.

"From where the average man stands," don Juan said, "sorcery is nonsense or an ominous mystery beyond his reach. And he is right—not because this is a fact, but because the average man lacks the energy to deal with sorcery."

Sorcery in Castaneda’s (Don Juan’s) teaching is not incantations and hocus-pocus, but the freedom to perceive not only the world taken for granted, but everything else that is humanly possible. Not rabbits out of hat, not David Copperfield, not Harry Potter.


1. Parallel worlds. Multiple realities.

Who does usually give the reports of having been to the other worlds, to the dark side, to the twilight realm, of having seen the visions? Usually these are religious people, addicts, sometimes people of art, etc. A poet said:

We sometimes catch a window

A glimpse of what's beyond

Was it just imagination

Stringing us along?

More things than are dreamed about

Unseen and unexplained

We suspend our disbelief

And we are entertained

Neil Peart

Poets often mention these experiences in their works, that probably means some of them actually have them.

We live in the age of information and as we see, there is no lack of shamans, shams, ESP persons, superenlightened gurus, superholy priests, supersmart scientists, and other holier-than-thou’s these days. Everyone preaches his own kind of special reality, his own interpretation of paradise, his own unique metaphysical truth. We have to question ourselves if we want to study all these: what is our goal? Just mental curiosity? If we are to quench our curiosity, to titillate our imagination, one life is not enough. The mankind has accumulated so much knowledge we can never dig it out. Power rests on the kind of knowledge one holds. What is the sense of knowing things that are useless? The goal of the sorcerers is to practically discover new worlds, new realities. This world appears really annoying to an average person (to me, at least). The formula "live, work, die" is terribly, extremely depressing. Or, there’s another definition of happiness: a true man has to give birth to a child, plant a tree, and build a house in his lifetime. This sounds boring to death. We human beings have nearly infinite resources, unthinkable capabilities we are not aware of. It is a shame if we die without using them. Like millionaires who have millions in their bank accounts but live on bread and water alone. But that’s what the absolute majority does.

Did you ever use narcotic drugs? Those visions you experienced were not multiple realities. Just hallucinations, that’s all. The play of sick poisoned mind. People with mental diseases experience those visions, too. What are the criteria in telling hallucinations from the real experience of other worlds? There’s only one criterion: controllability of your experience.

I had some sick conditions when I was small and had some serious diseases. Maybe those visions were a kind of other realities, but because their nature is extremely unstable, sorcerers are not interested in them. Same goes to narcotic conditions. What is the difference between a crazy person and a sorcerer? Seemingly very small: both see and experience some weird realities that ordinary people usually don’t. However, the tremendous difference is that a crazy person (or an addict or an otherwise sick person) does not and cannot control or use that reality, whereas a sorcerer can. That is the major difference. What is not multiple realities: fantasies, lunacy, hallucinations, impressions, thoughts, ideas, fiction, etc.


2. Brief superficial review of few religious doctrines, metaphysical teachings & money‑loving shams.

a. India: the oldest roots of spirituality in the world.

The most ancient sorcery practices were registered in India. (Maybe Egypt could compete, but we don’t have surviving Egyptian religions or practices today, so the Indian tradition is richer anyway—there we have many written testimonies, holy scriptures, whose contents and practices survived to the date). The most ancient scripture on Earth is Rig-Veda. It mentions some forms of yoga. Yoga in different forms had been practiced in India since time immemorial. One of the major fundamental writings of Yoga is famous Yoga-Sutras by Patanjali (created some 1500 years after Rig-Veda). It’s very compact and it describes the very essence of the human nature. It outlines the main obstacles on the way of becoming a sorcerer. The goal of Patanjali is "the cessation of mental fluctuations" (chittavritti nirodha). The obstacles that Castaneda later on would summarize in an extremely condensed way are simply the "the internal dialogue". Of course in Indian tradition things are a bit more complicated: they’re digging pretty deep and they figure that one has to still many different aspects of the human psyche—the soul, in order to release the latent psychic powers. Here we come to this main obstacle: the inner (internal) monologue (dialogue). What do you do every minute in your life, even as you sleep? Breathe, yes, but you also THINK. Your mind is like a car with broken brakes that cannot stop. Weird, right? The mind is supposed to be our obedient instrument; instead, it became our tyrant. It seems that we cannot stop it. Try it, and you’ll see. But there are means to stop it (in Patanjali’s tradition there’s much more to stop in our psyche, but still it could be summarized simply as "the inner monologue"). The process of stopping all the manifestations of the soul is generally referred to as meditation. The Hindu tribes discovered this principle millennia ago: still your soul completely, and tremendous psychic powers will start to get released and manifested. They called these "miraculous" powers Siddhi and the ones possessing them—the Siddha. Siddhi is typically defined as "a magical or spiritual power for the control of self, others and the forces of nature." The siddhis described by occultists and yogis are in actuality supernormal perceptual states available to all human beings. These are absolutely natural abilities that can be explained in highly rational terms. Subjectively, perception of other realities takes place; objectively, some magical or spiritual powers are manifested. These are two sides of the same coin. These rare people, the ones that to different extents stilled their inner monologue and other psychological manifestations and so attained to some unusual supernatural powers, have always been either feared or worshipped (or both) by ordinary people.


The Tao caused the creation of the universe.

The Tao is the energy that flows through all life.

The Tao surrounds everyone in the form of nature.

Everyone must observe and reflect on nature to find enlightenment.

An adherent’s goal is to become one with the Tao.

Everything in the universe is the Tao.

The many gods are manifestations of the one Tao.

Everything is cyclical.

Each person must nurture the Tao or 3 bodily energies (Jing, Ch’i, Shen) through activities such as exercise and meditation.

One should be prudent and think before acting.

People are inherently good.

Follow the art of wu wei: let nature take its course.

Practice detachment.

Dao De Jin, the central scripture of Taoism, is the second translated book in history (after the Bible). Its author is Lao Tzu. Its central ideas (except for the ones with moralistic implications) are very similar to the ones of Castaneda's teaching.

Sri Aurobindo. A great philosopher, revolutionist, yogi, and poet who lived in the first half of 20th century in India. Among his major books: "The Life Divine" and "The Synthesis of Yoga". He had studied all the schools of yoga and came up with a more effective synthesis that he called "Integral yoga".

He sought the help of Vishnu Lele, a yogi. The yogi accepted Sri Aurobindo and offered to initiate him into silence. "Sit down, close your eyes. You will see thoughts entering your mind from outside. Refuse them entry," he said to Sri Aurobindo. Sri Aurobindo did so and found Lele's words to be true. He could, after considerable effort, reject the thoughts. In three days, Sri Aurobindo succeeded in establishing silence in his mind. To Lele this was unbelievable, since success in such an experiment would normally be achieved only after a number of years.

One day when a cyclone was raging, Mother (his coworker) went to his room to shut the windows so that rain water would not come in and spoil the room. To her utter amazement she found neither the raging wind nor the rain had found entry into the Master's room. She found him sitting at his table next to a window lost in writing as if there was no storm outside.

The main point of his method is basically the same: classical yogic meditation.

Mircea Eliade. Romanian historian, philosopher, theorist of religion, and literary critic of 20th century. I don’t know of any evidences that he himself attained to some siddhi, but he did write many brilliant books studying the Indian philosophy and spiritual practices. 2 great books are "Yoga, Immortality and Freedom" and "Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy". He also shows how siddhi have been attained to by way of meditation, throughout history.


b. Occidental teachings.

The principal difference of the 2 major religion blocks: among all the religious & esoteric traditions of the world’s history we can differentiate the two major groups: 1) monotheistic and 2) sorcery disciplines. The former sets a deity as the center, the focus, and the means of attaining to the divine state, whereas the latter set the individual human capabilities alone as the center and the means of releasing the hidden psychic powers. Among the former are such as Zoroastrianism, Brahmanism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Among the latter are such as Buddhism, Taoism, Chinese traditional religion, Hinduism (arguably), Maya religion, shamanism, and various African, American and Polynesian beliefs of animism.

In every religion or tradition we have some outstanding persons (sorcerers) who actually reached the goal of sorcery. But we know only about the few famous ones. Gautama Siddhartha, Mahavira, Jesus, etc.

Israel & Christianity. The religions of Judaism and Christianity stand apart from most of the other religions due to their unique statements of exclusivity of their God and the way of salvation. The multitude of modern Christian sects and denominations, however, have little or nothing to do with the Bible—the original Holy Scripture of Judaism & Christianity. The reasons of this exclusivity can be traced in the Old Testament.

Abraham was a wild man in Mesopotamia desert who held some primitive beliefs. One day suddenly the spirit (or God) manifested himself to him and lead him out of Mesopotamia into Palestine, revealing some strange things about the Unique God who alone had to be worshipped—a brand new idea in primitive shepherds’ community. Abraham, without full realization of it, eventually became the founder of the great new monotheistic religion. The episode of Elohim with 2 angels visiting his tent deserves some attention. There are no analogies in other world religions to show a unique god of the universe who would do something like that—walk into a tent with a mortal man and eat a calf with him. Maybe Krishna could be compared to it, but he is openly called just one of the incarnations of the Brahman, not his unique and absolute representative in history, as the Bible does.

G. H. Pember. All these books by the leading Christian authors provide us with opponents view, which itself is valuable. One party of a controversy would never admit the power of its enemy unless that power is very real and actual, and being aware of it is crucial to survival of the former party. An opponent’s view always deserves some consideration. In this particular case the two confronting parties are Christianity and Sorcery, the confrontation owing to many of their original premises, especially the main premise of Christianity "Worship your One and Only God". "Earth’s earliest ages". G. H. Pember says exactly the same thing in his book: asceticism and quieting one’s soul brings about the release of tremendous unthinkable supernatural powers in man. Examples of supernatural events are brought, too. Sorcerers use the techniques even of "the enemy"—just like during wars the opponents send industrial spies into each others' territory to investigate the state-of-the-art technologies. This happened during World War II. This physical example applies to the spiritual realm, too.

Alexander Men—"Magic vs. 1 God". In his book (vol. 2 of 6) A. Men describes the same 2 parallel lines in history: the line of belief in the 1 God and the line of releasing one’s own latent psychic powers. He provides the cases of demonstration of paranormal powers by shamans, as evidenced by scientists who witnessed them. A devout Christian, A. Men supports the reality of sorcery and traces its origins back to the ancient religions of animism and nature worship and studies its influence on the subsequent civilizations and the world religions.

Confrontation with sorcery.

In the Old Testament, one of the commands of God to Israel is "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live". The main point of the Old Testament teaching is that anything else men might worship or appreciate more than the Elohim is disgusting, considered to be the main sin. The Bible strongly stresses the necessity of reaching the divine state by obeying the God alone, by complete dependence on Him and His commandments. This is diametrically opposed to the contents of the majority of the sorcery disciplines where both the means and the goal is highest independence possible. The purpose of sorcery is only an absolute freedom, and manifestation of the "supernatural" powers is just an intermediate goal.

Old Testament prophets—same siddhi!

However, it is somewhat strange to see that actually in the Old Testament the same siddhi are described. The incredible power of Samson, the signs that Israelite priests produced in response to the priests of Baal (lighting up the wet woods). The budding rod of Abraham. Elijah commanding wild beasts (a bear) to kill people. These are just the few examples of what is found in much greater abundance in the Vedas and later writings of various religions in India. The Christian miracles continued in the common era, too. We cannot disregard the many writings of the Fathers of the church and other hallowed saints (e. g., the abundant Orthodox hagiography). This indicates that both the Christian way of prayer and the eastern way of meditation, although seemingly different, lead to the analogical results. What is in common between them? Obviously, quieting the soul. Hence, the conclusion: any possible way of putting one’s soul, the psychological part, to rest, releases the paranormal powers and the ability to travel in other available realities. Severely condemned in Xnity<—> mildly condemned in the East.

New Testament.

Apostle Paul is considered the main author in the New Testament because he created the most logical and elaborate theory and practice of the spiritual path. Apostle Peter wrote about him in NT, "his words are sometimes hard to comprehend". Evidently, Paul did travel to the neighboring worlds because unusual things were visibly manifested through him and witnessed by many. These include healing, prediction, resistivity to snake venom. He ventured into some other reality at the moment of his conversion (when the bright light blinded him and he heard a voice, but the people around did not witness the same); later in Arabian desert when the spirit was teaching him directly; on the roof of a house when he was in trance and saw a vision of unclean animals.

During the middle ages (aka Dark ages) the Catholic church in the occidental world locked the occult knowledge of all kinds from the majority, because this knowledge would undermine the authority of Catholicism. So we see all the witches stakes for many centuries—the seekers of spiritual knowledge and freedom had to pay the price of their lives. Equally the Christian and the-non Christian seekers, because their knowledge was equally dangerous to the church. So whenever anyone attained to any esoteric liberating knowledge, and much more—to the explicit siddhi, the "supernatural" powers, he was gotten hold of and burned asap.

Watchman Nee.

The Chinese Christian author who became widely influential in the 20th century. As he studied the Bible, he tried to refrain from the traditional and conventional human views that had become part of the establishment religion and deviated from the original meanings in the Bible, and to reevaluate the scripture from the point of view of actual spiritual experiences stated therein. He wasn’t a philosopher or a theologian, he was a practitioner. For example, he rediscovered some universal spiritual laws in the New Testament such as the law of life and the law of death (1 John)—in their scientific meaning, as the laws acting spontaneously, not depending of arbitrary benevolence of God, but rather depending on the individual practice of the believer alone.

c. Dark ages’ end.

New age. The mixture grows.

Crowd vs. seekers. Even though the dark ages are over now, there is still the controversy between the "normal" social-based religious people which make up the majority, and the seekers of freedom through various spiritual / awareness-heightening / meditation techniques which make up the minority. (That doesn’t mean something is wrong with the holy scriptures, the wrong thing is that no one actually does what they prescribe). The witch hunt is on, only not so much physical anymore. Just check out the news about what the Pravoslavnaya "Church" is doing in Russia these days (particularly about the mandatory "Pravoslavny" education in Russian schools, in spite of the Constitution of Russia). Any anti-pravoslavny speaking is silenced today in mass media and internet in this country.

When the dark ages were over, the threat to the practitioners’ life was over. The persecution diminished, although not suddenly. As the human society gained more freedom and as the mass media improved, the access to the ancient secrets of opening up the alternative realities improved. But it wasn’t until the second half of the 20th century that the complete picture of the world’s main spiritual disciplines synthesis became possible.

Poltergeist: Rosenheim. Spirits—lecture. Gurdjieff. Crowley. The mixture grows. Judge not lest ye be judged yourself. Check everything with your own experience! "New age".

North American Indians sorcery. Castaneda’s teaching.

The spiritual practices of American Indians remain, perhaps, the most hidden from the western world. Much of the contents of archeological written findings have been proven to be just legends. Probably this owes to the fact that their civilization was destroyed twice – in early second millennium by less developed invading tribes, and beginning from the mid-second millennium – by Spanish Conquistadors. In the 20th century Aldous Huxley ("Doors of Perception", "Heaven and Hell"), Carlos Castaneda and some others attempted to rediscover their sorcery practices for public at large.

Castaneda—anthropologist from UCLA—met a Yaqui shaman named Don Juan Matus in 1960. Castaneda's experiences with Don Juan inspired the works for which he is known. Castaneda's works contain descriptions of paranormal or magical experiences, several psychological techniques, Toltec magic rituals, and shamanism. Carlos Castaneda's works have sold more than 8 million copies in 17 languages. For his third book, Journey to Ixtlan, he received his doctorate degree in 1970 in UCLA.

First two "stoned" books. Drugs as kick start. Trihexyphenidyl.

Don Juan taught him sorcery for 13 years, following several directions, or disciplines. Stopping the mind—hardest task. Incantations (Cabbala) in pop-culture vs. self-transformation. => Warrior's path. (Similar constructs: Xnity etc.) The first and foremost was destroying the feeling of self-importance. Very Christian! He also taught him not-doing – somewhat like Wu-Wei in Tao. Not doing the things we do in the daily life helps disrupting the routines, the unchanging view of the world. Because the basic premise of Don Juan’s sorcery is that there is a multitude of worlds right in front of us, but we cannot interact with them because of the lack of energy and thus our fixation on this one and only world of our daily life. The two major arts he taught him were the art of stalking and the art of dreaming. The point of the former one is to stalk yourself—look at yourself as if you’re someone else, evaluate your own patterns of behavior, and keep doing it to the extent you can actually change your personality, your character at will. If you consider it more closely, you will realize that this is analogical to what the New Testament calls "losing the soul-life" and "renewing of the mind". Losing self-importance and looking at yourself critically seem to constitute the core of many religions. The Bible explains that we have to lose our soul-life because it is sinful, united with our flesh where Satan dwells, and it cannot please the Lord the way it is. And then as we pray to the Lord, our mind gets renewed by His mind, we have his thoughts instead of our sinful thoughts, his feelings instead of our sinful feelings etc. The sorcerers’ explanation, of course, doesn’t have all these theistic principles (not even close to it); however, the mechanism itself is very similar.

The art of dreaming is the art of controlling your dreams and thus passing from ordinary dreams into some other real worlds. This one is probably the most accessible sorcery technique these days, because it does not take years of religious training, fasting, prayers, meditation, asanas, pranayamas, etc. All it takes is a bit of concentration and an effort of our will to either realize the moment of falling asleep or starting to see our hands during sleep. Then an amazing thing happens: the dream is no longer a dream, instead, the dreamer ends up in a very real world that has nothing to do with a usual dream where things change and where nothing is controlled. In the lucid dream, on the contrary, the dreamer is able of controlling the surroundings. Like I said in the beginning, this is a major character trait of sorcery: you’re in control instead of being controlled. If you never experienced the lucid dream, you might think I’m a fool speaking all that nonsense. But the moment you try it for yourself and succeed, it changes your life drastically. For many people it becomes the shock of life and the initiation to sorcery. You actually get an indisputable proof that the other worlds exist, right there before your eyes.

This practice is not new either: it was known in ancient times as part of Tibetan Dream Yoga and Dzogchen.

Osho Rajneesh. Castaneda's & Osho's teachings—many analogies.

Osho lived in India in the 20th century. He collected the cream of all oriental teachings throughout the history (he was almost the same smart as Sri Aurobindo or Watchman Nee) and taught it to a great multitude of people. He stated many times that he was not creating any new religion or a new movement, although many considered it the case. He did that because he rebelled against the traditional religious systems of modern India that gradually became callous, rigid, corrupt, and united with the worldly system and politics—just like all other religions of today—and they could hardly bring enlightenment to anyone. He actually went back to the source (like Sri Aurobindo, Watchman Nee, or Carlos Castaneda) and tried to revive the classical yogic practices without the sophistication of the ancient scriptures. Probably the only thing he invented was dynamic meditations—he taught that one does not necessarily have to sit in asana and do pranayma at a given time of the day, turning meditation into a dead ritual. He maintained that meditation must happen every minute of our lives. Similar to what NT says, "pray unceasingly". Instead, the vast majority of Christians today prays only before food and twice a week in their meetings.

The place among philosophical schools.

Sorcerers are usually not concerned with philosophy because philosophies are rarely practical. However, some points of Castaneda's teaching and some of existentialism seem to overlap (death as an adviser, personal responsibility, will over reason). It's easier to state which philosophy is NOT sorcery. Not ethical, political, "good and bad" philosophies. Branches: ontology, not theology or ethics. Philosophers throughout the history seem to never hit the point of sorcery, but some came very close to it. The philosophical schools that were not centered on morality, the good and the evil, or the politics, advanced further in this direction.


d. Modern day soup. Crooks & shams, but wtf, even those could be real paths!


3. SUMMARY: The synthesis of practices.

The path with the heart.

Concentration vs. unfocusing.


Lucid dreams.


4. Too much theory & philosophy vs. sheer practice. The point of Zen: SHUT UP AND TAKE ACTION!

Lecture 2: Sorcery vs. the Bible

On 12th of November I briefly described some major world religions and spiritual disciplines with a view to outline their key practices that lead to perception of multiple realities and manifestation of the psychic powers in man. My main conclusion was that the core of every such practice is quieting one's soul. The techniques differ, but their essence remains.

Tonight I will draw some comparisons between the two great spiritual disciplines of the world history that I mentioned the last time: the teaching of the Bible and the teaching of sorcery, the latter as viewed by Carlos Castaneda and other similar authors.

1. Teachings of the Bible

The Bible is the absolute bestseller of all times; it is the first translated book in history (translated into nearly all the languages of the Earth), and the one published the most. Its circulation has been the largest ever. It's a shame if we never familiarize ourselves with the Book #1. At a first glance, the style of the Bible, especially of the Old Testament, looks extremely boring for reading.

God: "Whew! I just created a 24 hour period of alternating light and darkness on Earth." Angel: "What are you going to do now?" God: "Boy, I'm tired, let's just call it a day."

However, if we take the time and read it, some amazing things about our human nature and possibilities hidden in us human beings can be found. Many different groups of people take the Bible as a foundation for their special kind of activities, each their own, many different ones, no matter how funny those are. The Bible is like crude oil: you could extract many different fractions of precious substances out of it. And find justification for nearly any kind of deeds there, depending on how you interpret the Bible—from loving all people to killing all people.
The Bible consists of 66 different books written within a span of more than a thousand years by such different authors as kings, fishermen, prophets, scribes, tax collectors etc. So the Bible might appear as something like a patchwork quilt; however, it does have a bottom line to unite all the books in it. In the Old Testament it is the history of the people of Izrael. In the New Testament it is the story of Jesus Christ and his followers.
The Bible is abounding in instances of sorcery. Many modern day Christians refer to sorcery as "miracles", but that's not an accurate word. Riding on a bicycle 300 years ago would be a "miracle". Electricity 400 years ago would be a "miracle". The word "miracle" has the everyday common taste to it. But the word "sorcery" sheds some light on how all those paranormal things in the Bible were actually done.
I seem to advertise this book, although I'm not a Christian. Funny, isn't it? Moreover, I am rather an adversary of Christian views than a supporter of them. However, I will say again: you should take the time and read it, possibly cover to cover. Because the truths contained in there cannot be overestimated, irrespective of the point of belief of the writer and of the reader.

a. Old Testament.     i. Lucifer.

We have been influenced by TV so much we have a settled popular image of nearly anything in our brain. Whenever we hear "Satan" or "Lucifer", if we are religious, we think of someone utterly bad and extremely negative. If we are not religious, we think of something like Frank Zappa sang in his song "Titties and Beer":

then I heard this noise
Like a crunchin' twig,
'n up jumped the Devil,
He's about this big.
He had a red suit on
An' a widow's peak
An' then a pointed tail
'N like a sulphur reek.
Yes, it was him awright,
I swear I knowed it was
He had some human flesh
Stuck underneath his claws.

The devil smiley in ICQ is typical, too. We would need to get rid of all these funny concepts (mostly stemming from Catholic and Orthodox myths and fairytales) if we are to understand the Bible and sorcery.
Many people, when they open the Bible on page 1 and begin to read about creation of the world in seven days, say it's nonsense and lose any desire to keep reading. How could the Earth possibly be created in 7 calendar days from scratch?! That would contradict all the natural sciences. But the timeline of events in the Bible does not begin with Gen. 1:1 and Gen. 1:2. Some passages in Isaiah and Ezekiel point to a much earlier time.
Actually, according to the Bible, in the beginning, along with the heaven and the earth, god created the angels, his helpers. And one of them was the mightiest, the most beautiful, the wisest one. His name was Lucifer (the conductor of light). He sat on a mountain of precious stones (you have to realize this could be highly metaphorical here—we do not know whether the physical mountains existed at the time)—and ruled the other angels and the universe on behalf of god. However, little, if anything, does the Bible say of what the universe was like at that primeval time.

ii.    The span between Gen. 1:1 and Gen. 1:2.

Somehow pride crept into his chest and he came to think of himself as nearly a one equal to the Creator. Here we face the name for the original sin: Pride. (This topic would be later evolved in the New Testament by an expansive teaching of losing the soul-life, one's pride, ambition).

"Once by the Pacific" by Robert Frost

The shattered water made a misty din.
Great waves looked over others coming in,
And thought of doing something to the shore
That water never did to land before.
The clouds were low and hairy in the skies,
Like locks blown forward in the gleam of eyes.
You could not tell, and yet it looked as if
The shore was lucky in being backed by cliff,
The cliff in being backed by continent;
It looked as if a night of dark intent
Was coming, and not only a night, an age.
Someone had better be prepared for rage.
There would be more than ocean-water broken
Before God's last Put out the Light was spoken.

I think Robert Frost is talking about this period of time: right before the rebellion of Lucifer. This self-exaltation eventually caused his fall from the emerald mountain straight down to the earth: one third of the angels found his views reasonable enough and joined him in his rebellion, had war with God's loyal angels, but eventually were all thrown headlong down to earth. Since then Lucifer was called Satan, the Adversary.
The second verse in the Bible should be properly translated "And the Earth became" instead of "and the Earth was" from the original Hebrew. It became void and without shape as a result of this war of angels that followed the rebellion of Lucifer. He and his guys destroyed the Earth and plunged it into a dark chaos, something very similar to the nuclear winter condition. There is a huge indefinable span of time between Gen. 1:1 and Gen. 1:2. So actually the story in Gen.1 is the story of recreation, not creation. By the way, that is also why the Bible has no problem with the theory of evolution. Now, to those who say it's nonsense: don't worry, you may keep reading.

     iii. Paradise. The two trees. Adam.

After the re-creation, God planted the garden of Eden. Adam—if he was an actual man, he had to possess a tremendous supernatural power & knowledge to rule the Earth and name all the animals!
The fall of man: sorcerers consider the two trees and the fall from paradise metaphorically, the two trees representing the condition of "silent knowledge" (of God-like supernatural knowledge about nearly everything,—almost the omniscience), and the condition of mind. When man ate of the tree of mind, into his mind he fell. We cannot disregard the fact that all myths and religions of the earth point to a time when possessing paranormal powers was normal. So the fall from paradise could symbolize the loss of these powers by mankind at large.

     iv. The book of Enoch. G.H. Pember. The origin of fallen angels and demons.


More information about the fallen angels is contained in the books of Genesis and Enoch (the latter one—non-canonical, but wtf?) According to the Bible, the sources of sorcery can be traced from Satan and his angels. It was the fallen angels in the book of Enoch who first acquainted the humans with sorcery.
The Bible has two distinct names for the two groups of modern day spiritual creatures in the air: 1) Fallen angels, the greater and more powerful category, and 2) Demons, the minor and less powerful category. The former fell down from the sky with Lucifer in the time immemorial, after the war of the angels, and still have nearly infinite powers over the creation, in spite of being cast down to earth. The demons are bodiless entities that lost their bodies during the great flood—a catastrophe of a lesser scale than the one between Gen.1:1 and 1:2, but which still is said to have destroyed all the living on the Earth. It surely wouldn't make Green Peace happy if they were around at the time.
It is evident that most of the creatures that modern day sorcerers come in contact with are of the second category—demons. We also have to get rid of the nonsense according to which demons and devils fry sinners in frying pans in hell. Catholic and orthodox guff influenced the world culture big time. These fairytale concepts have no foundation in the Bible whatsoever. There is no such thing as "hell" in the Bible in the first place.
The book of Genesis describes how at a point in time the whole mankind became corrupt and so god destroyed it by flood—everyone except Noah and his family. That happened after Adam, the forefather of mankind but before Abraham, the forefather of Jewish religion. It does not say much about how exactly did they become corrupt. Probably the things were so disgusting for Moses—the alleged writer of the book of Genesis—his morality standard wouldn't let him write it down. However, we do have a more detailed description of those events in a non-canonical book of the Old Testament—the book of Enoch. At that time the "sons of God came down to Earth and married the daughters of men". We could call those creatures angels, but we have to give up the ridiculous catholic idea of angels being all white, winged, and having a halo around their head. The result of their copulation with human women was a generation of giants—people of huge stature having inborn paranormal capacities. The notion of human-like semi-gods can be traced in almost every other religion. Especially in Greek mythology and various Indian religions. Enoch describes how these angels taught humans all kinds of forbidden knowledge—from making antimony make-up for women and grafting the trees to making weapons and using the practical sorcery such as divination.

     v. God's prophets vs. sorcerers. Their siddhi being analogical.


In spite of the strict prohibition of god to people of Izrael to use any kind of magic, the sorcery practices became widely spread in Izrael long before the common era. We know this because in many books of the Old Testament god reproaches Izrael for using the help of soothsayers, diviners, charmers, enchanters, etc. There is an interesting fact about this: often when these sorcerers are mentioned in both Old and New Testament, it says that they were gentiles—not Jewish. They came from the many kinds of tribes surrounding Izrael in Palestine—Babylonian, Assyrian, Philistinian, etc. And those nations were polytheistic in their majority. Even when one deity was worshipped by those nations, it did not have an absolute exclusive status, like Elohim, the god of Jews, did. Rather, even those "central" gods (Like Artemis, Moloch, Baal, Ashtoreth, and others) were parts of larger pantheons of gods—another indication that sorcery practices grow on the more fertile ground of polytheism rather than monotheism which in principle is very intolerant toward any magical practices. Here again is the controversy of these two major kinds of spiritual traditions—the monotheistic (here represented by Judaism), and the polytheistic one.
But god's prophets openly performed the extraordinary deeds beyond capabilities of regular people (such as lighting up the wet woods, commanding wild beasts to kill people, prophesying the future), and sometimes apparently even beyond the laws of physics (such as stopping the sun or stopping the Jordan River), and these actions were not called sorcery—they were ascribed to the power of god who acted for the interests of his people.
In Exodus we can even see a contest of god's prophets and Egyptian sorcerers to outdo each other with paranormal actions. Whatever Moses and Aaron did with their rods (such as turning the rods into serpents and turning the water in the Nile into blood) was done by the Egyptians, too. Any competition can be only held if the results of the parties can be compared and measured against each other. This clearly indicates that those siddhi had the same nature with god's people and Egyptian sorcerers, only techniques of reaching them were different. God's people were obtaining those powers by concentrating on Elohim, their only godhead, whereas the Egyptians apparently used other techniques of quieting their soul and releasing those powers, such as carrying out complicated rituals to reach the necessary amount of concentration and shutting off the internal dialogue, or praying to their gods (which is seldom done in sorcery though).

b. New Testament.


In the New Testament, the emphasis seems to shift from the physical to the spiritual side of things. While in the Old Testament sometimes the sorcery could be worked seemingly by plain volition of god and no participation of humans, in the New Testament these cases are more rare, and the "miracles" are mostly worked by people themselves. This can be explained by the fact that in the OT the spirit of God was never in men, it was just on men. Whereas in the NT the spirit of god is in people, allowing them to exercise it and perform the paranormal actions. Jesus performs about the same miracles as in the Old Testament, but his message changes from "eye for an eye" to "love your enemy". The message of NT with a view to reaching the paranormal powers becomes more clear to us: the key is quieting the soul. Although unlike sorcery, this method in the NT does have a considerable moralistic constituent. Obviously, the Mountain Sermon in Matt. 5 is a way to quiet one's soul. The key words in the process are meek, poor, afflicted, pure in heart, etc.—a Christian is supposed to become all of this. Here we can see the major principle common to both sorcery and Christianity: still your soul. According to 1 Thes. 5, our soul has three parts: mind, emotion, and will. Therefore, all three parts must be quieted in order to have the psychic powers in us released.

Teacher asked her Sunday School class to draw pictures of their favorite Bible stories. She was puzzled by Vovochka's picture, which showed four people on an airplane, so she asked him which story it was meant to represent. "Don't you know? The Flight to Egypt!" was his reply. Pointing at each figure, the teacher said, "That must be Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus. But who's the fourth person?" "Can't you see, that's Pontius – the PILOT!"

Jesus and his disciples did many paranormal acts such as healing, prediction, casting out demons (in the terms of sorcery, disconnecting a person from the inorganic being inhabiting his body). It wasn't always helpful for the person in question: once apostle Paul exorcised a spirit of prophecy from a man. So that man lost his ability and probably all his income. Disciples even killed people w/o physical contact, with the power of the spirit alone (the case of Ananias and his wife in Acts).

A little girl became restless as the preacher's sermon dragged on and on. Finally, she leaned over to her mother and whispered, "Mommy, if we give him the money now, will he let us go?"


2. Sorcery teachings

I will mainly focus on the teaching of Carlos Castaneda. In his books, written in the 20th century, he claims that he received lessons from a Yaqui Indian sorcerer, Don Juan, and that the tradition he was initiated to is thousands of years long. He refers to this tradition of sorcery as Toltec knowledge.
As a student of anthropology in UCLA, he went to Arizona desert to collect data on the natives and the plants with psychedelic effects that they used (the psychedelic culture was rising then in the USA, in the early 1960's). Castaneda met Don Juan at a bus stop in Nogales and right there he experienced the first effect of sorcery. First he approached the old Mexican Indian boldly and began a conceited speech on how he was interested about peyote—the cactus that Indians used for rituals, healing, and for enlightenment—on how much he knew about it, and even how profitable it would be for that feeble old Indian to communicate with this smart student of anthropology and become his informer. Don Juan just looked at him and immediately stopped him cold from speaking that mumbo jumbo with the power of his eyes only. He couldn't continue speaking. Don Juan said, "come to see me some day". And then DJ ran away and got on his bus. After toilsome efforts, CC eventually found DJ again in the place where he lived in Mexico and became the sorcerer's disciple. And of course Don Juan wasn't feeble at all, in spite of his years. He was incomparably stronger than 35-year old CC.
If we look carefully, we can see the first major discrepancy between Christianity and Sorcery here: the Christian method works through morality, social ways, preaching, the power of argument. Whereas the sorcery works through sheer personal experience only, without any regard to moralistic codes, religious dogmas, the right and the wrong, the ethics, etc. Let me illustrate this by one of my observations. When an American missionary comes into contact with a Russian student, he usually does not appeal to his personal experiences. Instead, he appeals to the authority of the Bible, to his excellent knowledge of the numbers of the verses in the New Testament, to the high style of his three-piece suit (subconsciously, but wtf), to the power of his own Church (congregation, fellowship, brotherhood, whatever). Here I see a gap between the modern Christian methods and the Biblical ones: when Jesus first met his disciples, he didn't say much, except "drop your fishing net and follow me". The disciples couldn't disobey the personal power of that man. Likewise, when Castaneda first met Don Juan, the latter did not say anything at all. Only in the end he said softly, "come to see me some day". These three instances (modern Christian preacher meeting people, Jesus meeting his disciples, and Castaneda meeting his teacher), illustrate how close the Biblical and the Sorcery way are in this regard, and how the modern Christian way differs. And of course the greatest difference between the Bible and Christianity on one hand and the Sorcery on the other is that sorcerers never preach anything to anyone.

Vovochka watched his father, a pastor, write a sermon. "How do you know what to say?" he asked. "Why, God tells me." "Oh, then how come you keep crossing things out?"

Back to the original sin, the pride: losing self-importance and looking at yourself critically seem to constitute the core of many religions. The Bible explains that we have to lose our soul-life because it is sinful, united with our flesh where Satan dwells, and it cannot please the Lord the way it is. And then as we pray to the Lord, our mind gets renewed by His mind, we have his thoughts instead of our sinful thoughts, his feelings instead of our sinful feelings etc. The sorcerers’ explanation, of course, doesn’t have all these theistic principles (not even close to it); however, the mechanism itself is very similar.

3. The comparison


a. Similarities:      i. It seems that both within the biblical teaching and the sorcery humans often receive the knowledge and/or the ability to perform acts of sorcery through the spiritual beings (called angels and demons in the Bible, and spirits and allies or inorganic beings in the books of Castaneda). Of course Christians are condemned if they receive help from any other spirit than the Lord's.


    ii. Impeccability <–> being perfect as the heavenly Father is perfect.

Impeccability has to do with responsibility for one's own actions. A sorcerer makes decisions before any actual action. As he makes them, he assumes complete responsibility for the outcome of his planned actions. If he dies as a result of his actions, that was his lack of impeccability. In the world of the ordinary people, their word can be easily altered, but the fact of their imminent death can not. In the world of sorcerers, on the contrary, their words never change. Their decisions, once made, stay intact for ever. But their death can be postponed and changed, unlike in the world of ordinary men. The Christian term "Being perfect" implies praying to the Lord, concentrating on his person, and asking for that quality from him, instead of self-improvement. Any self-improvement is condemned in the NT teaching.

      iii. Losing self-importance <–> losing the soul-life.


Don Juan had his disciple lose his self-importance by harsh methods. He mocked him and put him in the situations where CC lost his face totally. But the key procedure for reaching any quality in sorcery is shifting perception. Whenever perception shifts to other realities, we stop being ourselves in a sense, and lose our false ego. Again: this is not psychology or morality, it's rather a scientific process. There is cause and there is effect. In the Bible the principle is analogical: only this key process is called "touching the human spirit" or "exercising the spirit" or "contacting the Lord". Both true Christians and true sorcerers try to simplify things as much as possible. Whenever a sorcerer shifts his perception, three things happen: 1) he comes in contact with other realities, 2) people around may observe him performing some paranormal acts, and 3) he stops being himself, e.g. he loses the feeling of self-importance, self-pity, and becomes ruthless and detached. Same goes to the Christians. Whenever a Christian prays (contacts his human spirit), three things happen: 1) he comes in contact with the Lord the Spirit, 2) people around may observe him performing some paranormal acts, and 3) he stops being himself, e.g. he loses his pride, greediness, etc. and becomes calm, merciful, obedient to the Lord, etc.

     iv. Unbending intent <–> praying unceasingly.

The point here is the same in all religions, in any kind of business, in any kind of human activity: if you want to obtain any result, you have to try hard, try your best, exert to the maximum. A disciple of sorcery learns to repeat any action persistently, applying his will to it. And once the unbending intent is worked out, it can be applied to anything.
The matters pertaining to the spiritual realm often seem so ridiculously simple our mind cannot receive them. The reason is that the mind realm obeys different law than the spiritual realm does. And this crumby mechanism—the leading part of the mind, doing the incessant chatter—will always resist receiving these simple principles which are going to dethrone it in the end.
This statement is pretty broad, but is true in both the biblical practice and the sorcery practice. It is hard for an average man to believe the Bible saying that the eternal salvation is gained with as little as one-time sincere calling on the name of Jesus (Rom. 10:13).
It is hard for an average man to believe Castaneda when he says, every person already has enough potential energy in his possession for about anything—any magical accomplishments, given that he does not squander it daily for self-pitying and babbling away in his mind, the energy will surely make itself felt! The "assemblage point"—the luminous center of awareness of such person who thrifts his energy begins to shift away, all by itself, from the day-to-day perception position fixed with all the mankind. That is, his perception starts to naturally spread to embrace the multitude of worlds.
One sorcery technique is just paying attention to your breathing. Try it. Just 10 minutes of this exercise will become a great accomplishment! (Same, if you're a Christian, praying for 10 minutes without a single pause would become a great accomplishment). At first, it will remind you the parable of a seeming simplicity of rewarding the wise man for his invention of chess. He "only" asked one grain of wheat on the first square of chessboard, plus two on the second, plus four on the third and so on. But when you lay hold of the key which is simply not to forget it, then the process will go on with positive feedback, it will zoom. (This is another distinctive feature of the spiritual realm—positive feedback prevails there, whereas negative feedback prevails in nature, best characterized by Le Chatellier principle that simply says "All Resists".) It was this principle—the principle of positive feedback,—that Jesus meant when he said, "For whoever has, it shall be given to him, and he will abound; but whoever does not have, even that which he has shall be taken away from him." (Matt. 13:12)
So the gate to the unknown is opened with a puff, in a sense.

      v. The cohort of sorcerers <–> the Body of Christ.

There is also a corporate aspect in sorcery, although not nearly as strong as in Christianity. In the Bible, the Body of Christ is instrumental and indispensable for reaching the ultimate goal of the Christians. In sorcery, however, it may or may not be necessary. In Castaneda's books we see groups of sorcerers who helped each other energetically and then left this Earth all together in one energetic strike, which was their ultimate goal.

    vi. The ultimate goal: to burn in the fire from within and become a pure conscious energetic form <–> to be glorified (raptured) by the Lord and receive the new glorious body.

After a life of struggle, a sorcerer can have his physical body lit up with awareness and change it into a body of energy. CC claims to have seen how the group of his teacher left our world in this manner. Then they became agile energetic creatures, very much like allies that they contact, with their capacities enormously higher than those of the limited physical body. This aspiration can be found in all religions of the world, including Christianity. Apostle Paul speaks about glorification of the human body of the overcoming Christians in the end of time. Also, in the Old Testament Enoch and Elijah were taken up in a similar manner. Today's Christians call it "rapture". Some Christian drivers have funny stickers on car bumpers in America: IN CASE OF RAPTURE, THIS CAR WILL BE UNMANNED. According to the NT, at the second coming of the Lord the chosen believers will receive the new body (obviously, energetic, not of gross matter) and be taken up to the Lord's throne.

b. Differences:      i. Sorcerers may or may not admit the existence of God, but they don't care too much about it.      ii. Sorcerers never preach anything to anyone. If ordinary people ever want to build a bridge with the world of sorcery, they would have to do it (I'm not preaching, I'm practicing my English here ;-)  


iii. Christians emphasize salvation of many (although there is a personal aspect of working out your own salvation), and the sorcerers emphasize personal "salvation" (although there is a minor aspect of helping your fellow sorcerers—I mentioned that).

And one more anecdote in the end.
The sunday school teacher asks, "Now, Vovochka, tell me frankly do you say prayers before eating?" "No sir,—Vovochka replies,—I don't have to. My mom is a good cook!"

Lecture 3: Lucid Dreaming

We spend one third of our lives without any use for the country, economics, society, or family, and without much use for ourselves either. What a waste! Even if you are going to live some ninety years, as many as thirty of them will be spent in that useless state. You know what I am talking about. It's sleeping.
We dream some 20% of the sleeping time. And the sorcerers and yogis of ancient times learned how to use this state practically. They became conscious in their dream—retained the awareness that they were sleeping. As they did this, they realized that the dream ceased and some tremendous real new world came before their eyes which did not resemble at all the usual dream with its shifty unreal nature. They discovered that in the usual dream, you're controlled by it because you don't doubt its realness. All the persons in your dream have control over you and you're afraid of them. In the lucid dream, on the contrary, you achieve dream control because you realize it's just a dream and you're no longer afraid of the persons and objects in your dream.
So lucid dreaming is not a modern discovery. Even though it has only come to the attention of the general public in the last few decades, we have a report of them from as early as the fifth century: the Epistle of St. Augustine in 415 A.D.

The term "Lucid Dreams" was introduced in 1913 by Van Eeden, a Dutch psychotherapist, to denote a kind of sleep where the sleeper fully realizes the fact that he is asleep. Although the phenomenon itself had been known much earlier, he had to rediscover many points because at that time (late 19th – early 20th century) the knowledge of Indian religions was just beginning to reach the Western world. What's worse, there was no Internet around.

Tibetan Dream Yoga
One of the oldest practices of lucid dreaming was implemented in ancient Tibet as part of Tibetan Buddhism. This branch of Buddhism is unique in this regard because no other branches of Buddhism pay close attention to the techniques of lucid dreaming. These days the practice survives within Dzogchen tradition. One has to spend long hours in meditation concentrating on Tibetan letter A to purify his soul, reach the state of tranquility, detachment from the worldly valuables, from one's own negative emotions, and then only he can begin to enter into the states of consciousness during his sleep. The dream yogis retreat more and more deeply into themselves until they start to dream, and they do so without ever losing conscious awareness. According to the Tibetan Book of the Dead, the yogis had almost total control over broad aspects of these "waking dreams".
At about the same time (late 1st – early 2nd millennium A.D.) in India, similar practices were being carried out. There are various tantric texts that describe methods of retaining consciousness while falling asleep, but their description is too obscure to be of any use to the uninitiated today.

There were various other references to lucid dreaming in history around that time, including one in the twelfth century by the Spanish sufi, Ibn El-Arabi, and another a century after that, where St. Thomas Aquinas mentions the subject briefly. Neither of them were that detailed though, and the next significant mention does not come before the nineteenth century. The reason of this long gap is that the Dark Ages, as I mentioned in my 1st lecture, suppressed and punished any spiritual search for centuries.
In the nineteenth century, dreams were no longer seen as deriving from the underworld of the dead or the work of gods. People now accepted that dreams took place in the unconscious mind, and this rendered an opportunity for scientific research of the lucid dreams to begin.
But the controversy between the mainstream psychology and psychiatry and the lucid dreams investigators continued from the beginning of the reports on the lucid dreams. Sigmund Freud does not say one word about lucid dreams in his famous book "On interpretation of dreams", although the phenomenon had been known by then: in 1867, Marquis d'Hervey de Saint-Denys first published his book Dreams and how to Guide Them, in which he documented more than twenty years of his own research into dreams. However, several years later Freud did add a paragraph about people who claimed they could be conscious during their dreams. In Van Eeden's report to the Society for Psychical Research, he says he had 352 cases of these dreams during 14 years. Van Eeden was the first one in our era who came up with the following observation leading him to the concept of the dream body:
In the night of January 19-20, I dreamt that I was lying in the garden before the windows of my study, and saw the eyes of my dog through the glass pane. I was lying on my chest and observing the dog very keenly. At the same time, however, I knew with perfect certainty that I was dreaming and lying on my back in my bed. And then I resolved to wake up slowly and carefully and observe how my sensation of lying on my chest would change into the sensation of lying on my back. And so I did, slowly and deliberately, and the transition--which I have since undergone many times--is most wonderful. It is like the feeling of slipping from one body into another, and there is distinctly a double recollection of the two bodies. I remembered what I felt in my dream, lying on my chest; but returning into the day-life, I remembered also that my physical body had been quietly lying on its back all the while. This observation of a double memory I have had many times since. It is so indubitable that it leads almost unavoidably to the conception of a dream-body.
Celia Green, a parapsychologist, published a book entitled Lucid Dreams in 1968, which was based mainly upon the work of those I mentioned earlier, as well as information she herself had collected on the subject. She was the first one to indicate that the lucid dreams take place during the REM phase of sleep. But the official science of psychology denied these phenomena their existence from the outset (from the second half of the 19th century), maintaining that "lucid dreaming" or "conscious dreaming" is a contradiction in terminology: how can anyone be conscious during his sleep, which is unconsciousness by definition? Similar very much to how the official circles resisted the discovery that the earth was a globe, in their time.
Then in 1974, Patricia Garfield published a book entitled Lucid Dreaming which is still today regarded as one of the best general works on dreaming and lucid dreaming around. Among other things, she describes the practices of lucid dreaming of Ancient Greece, ancient yogis in India, Ancient Assyria, those of Senoi tribe in Indonesia, etc.
Robert Monroe (1915-1995) was a successful Virginia businessman who had his first lucid dream in 1958. he wasn't religious or given to any mystics at all—one day it just happened to him. Like Van Eeden, he began to realize that during the lucid dream we actually use another body—not the physical one, the one that Van Eeden called the dream-body. In his experiments he ascertained the doubtless reality of that body. He was the one who later coined the term "out-of-body experiences". Later he founded The Monroe Institute in Virginia to research the out-of-body experiences. There, hundreds of volunteers underwent the experiments that corroborated the reality of another body and another worlds where the lucid dreamer travels.
Stephen LaBerge from Stanford University was probably the first one to try and bring lucid dreaming closer to the scientific realm. He developed techniques (REM cues) to enable entering a lucid dream state at will. In 1987, he founded The Lucidity Institute, an organization that promotes research into lucid dreaming, as well as running courses for the general public on how to achieve lucid dreaming.
Carlos Castaneda "The Art of Dreaming". In his 9th volume, he goes into details of the training Don Juan, his Indian sorcery teacher, gave him on the lucid dreaming. He described the so-called 4 gates of dreaming:
1st Gate (reaching the dreaming body): One realizes that he's asleep in his dream. He is able to shift the focus from his hands to another dream object and return it to the hands, repeatedly.

2nd Gate (utilizing the dreaming body): One is able to wake up from one dream world into another at will. Realized when one is able to isolate an inorganic being and follow it to the realm of Inorganic Beings. Also, one is able to fall asleep without losing consciousness.

3rd Gate (traveling): Arrived at when one dreams of looking at his own physical body sleeping. Realized when the dreaming and physical bodies become one. Crossed when one is able to control the Dreaming Emissary.

4th Gate (Seeing): One is able to perceive the energetic essence of every dream item, fall asleep in a dream, in the same position in which one has gone to sleep. Also, one wakes up in this reality, only not in the physical but in the energy body. At this stage the dreamer actually becomes the sorcerer—he mingles the waking world and the astral plane and becomes a master at handling his energy body. Many of such people become legendary; these are the ones that myths and legends are later told about.

All the authors writing about this phenomenon seem to fall under 1 category out of the 2: 1st, practicing this for a sheer self-indulging experiment. All such books begin with the opening words like "do you want to expand your world of daily life? do you want your wildest dreams come true? do you want to be able to fly across the sky like a superman from the famous movie? would you like to have sex with the movie star you adore?" etc. There has been a boom of such literature in recent years now that all the pioneers such as R. Monroe had gone ahead and researched this unexplored realm. The second category is comprised by such disciplines as Tibetan Buddhism and the teaching of Castaneda. They are not so much in indulging one's self; instead, they realize that lucid dreaming is not the goal—but a stepping stone toward reaching spiritual freedom, developing the body of energy, and resolving the matters of life and death.

What are the spiritual benefits of this practice?
The more conscious you are in your dream, the more you are so in your waking life, and vice versa. Lao-Tzu — the butterfly.

My own experience of initiation into the out-of-the body experience: in 1996 I didn't read any esoteric literature (except maybe volume 1 by Castaneda, and a few chapters from the New Testament, but they don't mention lucid dreams). One day my friend Lyosha the satanist gave me a book by Stephen LaBerge to read. It was on the lucid dreams. I just flipped through the pages and didn't understand much. I have to say that at that time I didn't take alcohol (except maybe a beer once every 2 weeks) and didn't smoke (I never smoked), neither did I ever take any narcotic drugs. The night after reading that book I woke up because someone turned on the light in the corridor (the door to the corridor had this frosted glass pane). I sat on my bed, angry at whoever turned on the light, and was going to stand up and go turn it off. And then a horrible something attacked me from the door. It was big, black, and massive. I experienced the moment of sheer terror and the sharp realization "I am going to die NOW". The next thing I know—I am waking up in my bed, again, just the same! but there is no light in the corridor. Then I had hard time falling asleep again. I was shaken by fear. Now I can't explain this away in rational terms, but in the morning I remembered clearly that there was also another consequence of events: I was woken up not because of the light in the corridor, but because in my sleep I began to feel that someone heavy was sitting on my bed next to my legs. Although there were absolutely no persons available who could possibly do that. The continuation in this line of events was similar: wake up, attack, wake up again. It seems like there were 2 of me experiencing different scenarios in two separate time tunnels. For some 2 weeks afterwards I was afraid to sleep. That was scary. If I had read any of the books I mentioned I would have known that I didn't have to be scared, instead, I had to just look that creature in the face calmly and talk to me. According to these authors, this action has a therapeutical effect upon waking.
It wasn't until the year 2000 when I began to really read all the books I mentioned and consciously practice and experience the lucid dreams proper.
Even until now, in 21st century, this phenomenon hasn't become part of the official science, because these experiments are hard to carry out with enough of statistical basis. The reports of lucid dreamers are highly personal and often obscured by personal interpretation, as Robert Monroe found out in his first experiments. It's difficult to provide valid control of the experimental results to make them scientifically trustworthy.
How can you do it practically? Very easy: get a determination in your mind to look at your hands tonight as you sleep. Tell yourself: "I AM going to find my hands in my sleep at night!" The moment you find your hands, the dream will stop, and you'll end up in a very real unchanging world.
Sometimes poetry tells more than any scientific facts. There's a song by the band Queensryche about lucid dreaming:

Silent Lucidity

Hush now don't you cry
Wipe away the teardrop from your eye
You're lying safe in bed
It was all a bad dream
Spinning in your head
Your mind tricked you to feel the pain
Of someone close to you leaving the game of life
So here it is, another chance
Wide awake you face the day
Your dream is over...or has it just begun?
There's a place I like to hide
A doorway that I run to in the night
Relax child, you were there
But only didn't realize it and you were scared
It's a place where you will learn
To face your fears, retrace the years
And ride the whims of your mind
Commanding in another world
Suddenly, you hear and see
This magic new dimension
I-will be watching over you
I-am gonna help you see it through
I-will protect you in the night
I-am smiling next to silent lucidity
If you open your mind for me
You won't rely on open eyes to see
The walls you built within
Come tumbling down, and a new world will begin
Living twice at once you learn
You’re safe from pain in the dream domain
A soul set free to fly
A round trip journey in your head
Master of illusion, can you realize
Your dream's alive, you can be the guide but...

Visualize your dream
Record it in the present tense
If you persist in your efforts
You can achieve dream control

Lecture 4: SPIRITS

Throughout the history of mankind there has been multitude of reports of people seeing some beings that others couldn't see, contacting them in all kinds of ways, and employing them. We just cannot dismiss those thousands of instances. There must be some actual real events behind those reports. In fact, there were so many of them that in our time we are facing a great confusion of terminology concerning these "other beings": spirits, ghosts, gods, specters, phantoms, apparitions, vampires, banshees, elves, poltergeist, etc.

And today, in the 21st century, we can find any number of teachings claiming that they are the unique and only ones right in interpreting the true nature of the spirits, and that all the other teachings are big time wrong in that regard. Many well-developed religious, mythical, moral¸ and cultural systems exist to expound the place and the role of the spiritual beings in the world and in our lives.

However, if we study the matter closely and begin to get into it, we will find a formidable layer of fairy-tales, superstitions, religious guff, all kinds of cultural junk, and even pure nonsense on the subject. I personally am not concerned about any cultural, mythological, religious, or philosophical aspects of the knowledge on the spiritual beings. My concern is only just the most practical, pragmatic, and concrete aspects of getting into contact with that spiritual world.

(I think a small parenthesis is appropriate here. The thing is, all I'm saying in my lectures is not supposed to be a declaration of some sort of an absolute truth in any way. My lectures are not sermons. I don't have any goal to convince anyone about anything. I'd say, my main goal is oral practice of English. It also helps overcome and improve my personality because naturally I'm self-conscious. I am convinced that any truth can only be subjective.

There is an English saying which is 100% right: one man's truth is another man's lie. I think this proverb is the top of human wisdom (it only doesn't work for the precise and natural sciences such as mathematics, physics, and chemistry, but the scope of things not covered by these sciences is much greater than the scope of things covered by them). It seems that all the wars and violence and bloodshed on Earth took place because of just one reason: somebody thought he held the Absolute Truth and he had to force that One and Only Truth into all the others, fair or foul. Those beautiful Eternal Brilliant Unique Truths that served millions, probably billions of people to be tortured, hanged, drowned, and stoned were named "Christianity", "Allah the Only God", "Fascism", "Communism", and any other kind of "-ism". So I don't believe in any objective or absolute truth. Any truth is subjective, by its definition. There are as many truths on Earth as there are people. And the more people realize this one, the less murders will follow.

So all I'm telling about spirits is my personal subjective view, based 95% on the books and 5% on my personal experiences. Generally speaking, I do not care a rush if no one shares it with me. Sorry about that.)

I'll begin with a very brief review of the attitude toward the world of the spirits along the timeline of human history.

1) Spirits in main religions & mythologies

a. India

In India people worshipped "gods" or "semi-gods" since the ancient times. Vedas prescribe different type of offerings to those semi-gods. Bhagavad-Gita (which was created thousands of years after the oldest Vedas) says, "In the beginning of creation the Lord of all creatures created generations of men and semi-gods…" This is a clearer indication of creating the spirits than in the Bible. Who are these semi-gods? they are not the Supreme God, and yet we cannot see them. So they fall under my vast general category of "spirits".

Celestials, Dakini, demons, hungry ghosts, minor gods, major gods: there is a multitude of types and even classifications of spiritual beings in India, depending on particular religions and their branches.

However, some general notions common to Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, and Hinduism are that one category of spirits was created by the creator (not in classical Buddhism though, because it's atheistic), and another category is the spirits of men after the death of their physical bodies. The greater the enlightenment of a person when in the physical body, the greater his power after his departure. All those who became liberated from sansara (the circle of reincarnations), got their bodies of energy and were somehow different from the ordinary men who did not become enlightened in their lifetime, have been worshipped. These are called heroes, saints, canonized ones, deified ones, etc. If such an enlightened person is willing to return into the world of suffering to help out his fellow mates, then he chooses a body to be born in again, and is called Tirtkhankara. He lives in his physical body, but he is almost a god because he became so in his past life. Two such famous women in Tibetan Buddhism were Machig Labdron and A-Yu Khadro. (There are thousands of such in Tibetan and Indian traditions).

Especially martyrs are said to become powerful spirits. Many of such spirits are willing to help the mortals to become likewise liberated, with or without returning into flesh, and in the second case these saints are worshipped and brought offerings to by ordinary people to set up a beneficial connection with them. Various images of those saints are used for that purpose.

b. Greek mythology

Although we have all the gods, satires, nymphs, and naiads here, it's much harder to separate human fantasy from real facts of existence of these supernatural beings in this case, because Greek mythology doesn't give us any spiritual practices. It only describes the unthinkable feats of Olympic gods without much connection to real life. That's why it's mythology, not a religion, and not a system of spiritual practice. So for me, Greek mythology is only useful in a way of comparison with other world's disciplines. Because I believe that by comparing several spiritual traditions and finding the things common between them, one can actually find the practical way of attaining to all the valuables appraised in these traditions by getting behind the veil of myths, the cloak of useless fables.

c. Shamanism

The most ancient and wide-spread system of practices of contacting the world of spirits is shamanism. It exists with nearly all of native tribes of the earth, in all five continents, since the time immemorial. Unlike Greek mythology, this realm of human knowledge is highly practical. One of the best books on the world's shamanism is by Mircea Eliade, "Shamanism: The Techniques of Ecstasy". Typically in nearly every tribe outside of the so-called "civilized world" there is a shaman (healer, sorcerer – these sometimes being different persons, and sometimes the same one performing all these functions) who is responsible for contacting with the spiritual world for the purposes of healing his fellow mates, saving them from the evil spirits, predicting the events such as rich or poor harvest for the current year, etc. It is widely believed that a great part of the spirits are those of the ancestors of the tribe, and another part – beings of higher order like demons and gods of nature. In his book, Eliade gives definition of a shaman: the one who is a professional in techniques of ecstasy—ecstasy not in its common sense, but in the scientific sense of outside-of-itself, such as in the New Testament:

"Now the next day, as Cornelius’ people were on their way to the city, Peter went up onto the roof to pray about noon. ACTS 10:10 He became hungry and wanted a meal, and while they made preparations there came upon him a trance. There came upon him a trance: The Greek is ECSTASIS from which comes “ecstasy.” A trance is a state of absolute focus in meditation. 10:11 And Peter saw the sky parting and then descending something like a large linen cloth being let down to the ground by its four corners."

The characteristics of a shaman differ all over the world, but some remain unchanged and can be found, for example, with Siberian shamans, South American shamans, and Indonesian shamans even these days. These are the following items: a shaman must go through the initiation of a sort. This initiation is basically the process or the sign of how the spirits mark the person out, spot him, show him as their possible conductor. Many initiations must have such elements as diseases (often epilepsy), raving, passing out, and even near-to-death conditions.

Many of these symptoms are referred to in the New Testament as demon possessions. And it seems to actually be the case with the shamans, with one important exception: he who eventually cannot control these forces that possess him is disqualified from being a shaman and can never become one. He is simply possessed, and that is a miserable thing to look at. But if the candidate can cope with these forces and eventually learn to control them then he is indeed qualified to be a shaman and becomes one. Another thing in common with all the world's shamans is the imitating ritual and, supposedly, the ability of going up to heaven and down to hell and successfully return back to normal states of perception, having done some practical tasks there such as rescuing the souls of the people of their tribe (sickness is referred to as "losing one's soul" in many tribes).

And how successful a shaman's journey to the other realms would be depends on his personal power and on benevolence of the spirits whose friend the shaman is. Only shamans can see (hear, or somehow witness) the spirits, ordinary members of the tribe normally can't.

A friend of mine named Oleg told me a number of years ago how in his hometown, Schyokino, Tula region, a guy called Yura was thought to be possessed. He was this type of feeble-minded person who is usually kept in special schools for retarded people. It wasn't Mongolian syndrome though. He was often seen raving, yelling at no one in particular, and drooling. Some local Christians tried to exorcise the demon, but to no avail of course. Christians these days are not like those two thousand years ago. The interesting part is that Yura was once seen walking in a peculiar fashion on a staircase. His body actually leaned far backward as he walked up the stairs, defying gravity. If there was a shaman in Schyokino, I'm sure he would've helped out.

I knew some other Christians who told me that demon possession mainly occurs in uncivilized areas of the world, where there are tribes with their almost primitive way of life, and often along water courses because these beings are said to dwell in water.

d. Judaism & Christianity

i. Fallen angels.

The Bible begins with the story of God creating his helpers, the angels. Then at some point in time one third of the angels became corrupt and was cast from heaven down to Earth; this part is later referred to as "Satan and his angels" in the Bible. If we discard the fairy-tales ideas of angels being all white, fuzzy, human-like. having wings and a halo, then we might question ourselves: what are they like then? From several passages in the Bible we can see that angels have no physical bodies. For example, Jesus was asked, "Suppose this woman had 7 husbands in this life. Whose wife she would be in the heavens when she dies?" Jesus answered something like, "You fools, that's the most stupid question I ever heard. Spirits of men DO NOT marry after they depart, instead, they abide in a sort of angelic state. And angels NEVER marry". Of course here Jesus referred to the normal condition—he must have read the book of Enoch and known what happened after Adam's creation and before the great flood and Noah's ark. Then the angels actually married earthly women.

ii. Demons.

Demons are the spirits of men and semi-angelic bastard beings who drowned in the flood. (See my Lecture 2).

iii. G.H. Pember. The Fox house.

The straight Christianity condemns any use of any spirits except the one and only Spirit of Jesus Christ. They say any other spirits are evil without exception, and only the spirit of JC is good.

G.H. Pember reports in his book, "Earth's Earliest Ages", how in the middle of 19th century there was a famous case of poltergeist in the Fox House. There were many witnesses to that, subsequently giving rise to Spiritualism—thousands  of people started believing in poltergeist, i.e. the spirits manifesting themselves in obvious ways.

e. European mythology

Myths of Europe stem mostly from Christian and Gnostic traditions, often heavily distorted by cultural influences.

i. Incubus & succubus

This mythological notion of spirits copulating with humans comes, most probably, from the same events described in the book of Enoch.

ii. Fairytales. Human imagination.

Myths grow on the ground of actual events, but eventually they become so distorted by artful imagination of the writers (especially when the stories were handed down orally from generation to generation) it's hard to see what  exactly was based on real events, and what was added later to make it sound better or more exciting. That's how all the imaginary beings came into being—dragons, elves, fairies, goblins, etc.

If you would like to know more about the unreal beings, check out "Gallery of Imaginary Beings" by J.L. Borges. I'm interested in the real ones, not in the fruits of imagination.

2. Spirits in modern teachings

a. Theosophical Society

As the Indian religions were getting known to the masses in the western world in the late 19th century, a Theosophical Society was founded by colonel Olcott and Helen Blavatsky, a russian. She was said to be a crook and fraud by many; however, she performed some documented miracles in New York during meetings of the Society. She said the spirits of three Indian mahatmas, or spirits of enlightened persons of the past, possessed her.

That's when the show began, and today we see a great multitude of ESPs, psychic persons, gurus, even Christian pastors claiming that they contact the spiritual realm and feel totally at home there. And often times there is no reason to distrust them, except when they're trying to make money with that.

b. C. Castaneda

To my opinion, there is no moralistic constituent in his books whatsoever. There are no "angels" or "demons". To refer to the spiritual beings, he first uses the word "allies"—that's how the sorcerers of antiquity called them, and this concept later on proved to be disastrous for many of them because those beings were but pure energy, not anybody's allies or enemies. Before Conquista, those sorcerers believed that having an ally at hand and being able to command him to some extent would surely save them from the oppressors. This notion turned out to be erroneous, and the majority of those sorcerers has been exterminated by the Spanish conquerors along with the ordinary Indians. The sorcerers of today, according to CC, prefer to call them simply "inorganic beings", to avoid that blunder of the ancient sorcerers. This name is more neutral. One characteristic feature of his books is that CC has a purely pragmatic approach to the issue (See my Lecture 1) (pragmatic meaning enabling to travel in inconceivable other worlds vs. the pragmatism of the ancient sorcerers who were aimed at using their sorcery to gain more riches and power). Allies, or inorganic beings, probably fall under the same category as demons in NT—their characteristics are often similar.

Man's double: whenever a sorcerer becomes professed at dreaming (See my Lecture 3), he develops the powerful body of energy, or double. With it, he can do things such as teleportation, flying, etc. However, some rare people have the strong double by virtue of their birth, not practice. When the double of such people manifests itself, we have the cases of poltergeist (see Fox House above). Such was the case of CC's aunt: she troubled and scared her household at nights with her body of energy (Vol. 10).

So as we see, there are intentional and unintentional contacts with the spirits. The intentional ones are practiced by sorcerers, yogis, spiritualists and anyone who is persevering in the corresponding practices. The unintentional ones are subconscious, occasional, and are conditioned by the paranormal inborn capacities. Such people are rarely aware of their power and often are a source of annoyance to their neighbors as well as to themselves.

c. R. Monroe & his institute. Traveling to the world of the dead.

Robert Monroe (See my Lecture 3) and his coworkers, through their practice of lucid dreaming,  contacted the spiritual beings in different realms, or planes: the multiple realms of real worlds existing for any lucid dreamer, very similar to those described by CC, especially in his Vol. 9; in this world (the world of our daily life); and in the realm of the dead where they contacted various deceased persons. So here's the

d. Relation with lucid dreaming:

When we are in our physical bodies, we can only contact the physical realm. And when we are in our bodies of energy that we can attain to through various practices, we can contact the spiritual realm, or the realm of energy, which is, according to the ones who traveled there, is infinitely greater than the physical one.

So, based on all the abovementioned, we may come up with the

e. Rough general classification:

i. "Fallen angels", or gods

ii. "Demons", or allies

iii. Spirits of places

iv. Doubles of the living

v.Spirits of the dead

3. The practice

Now, all theory aside, how can we practically get into contact with any of those buddies today? It seems to me that there is only one shortcut to that:

a. Stopping the internal dialogue

i. Use darkness: in the dark, there are no identifiable clues for the mind, and the internal dialogue quenches easily.

ii. Use the "gait of power" described by CC: a special way of walking in the dark trusting your other senses rather than the eyesight.

iii. Unfocusing the eyes. This delivers a powerful jolt to the babbling in your head. I experienced that many times.

— All three can be practiced in any of the parks in our city at night. If you would like to, I could take you to such trip and try to be your guide. But you would probably have to bring some big diapers with you    ;-)     Because the things you might witness can be scary.

Lecture 5: Matrix Movie: Practical Magic

In this lecture besides using my own ideas I borrowed the ideas of James L. Ford, Ph.D. and of many other reviewers found through the Internet. The explanation of the final battle in the final movie of the trilogy is my own (it appears transparent though, given that you are acquainted with the New Testament).

Who never watched Matrix movie in the audience? Please raise your hands. Well the lecture might not be of any interest to you then, but of course you're welcome to stay.
Humans are mythologizing—they are constantly creating myths. We appropriate elements from our past and present to fashion epic narratives and myths for a variety of existential, sociological, and religious ends. Myths are not fixed narrative forms, however. Studies of traditionally oral cultures evidence considerable elasticity in the details of a particular myth.1 And history also demonstrates that myths often evolve as a result of cultural diffusion and contact. Myths are constantly adapted to new cultural contexts and worldly realities. While the invention of writing inspired a more fixed status for some myths, it did not halt the ongoing adaptation and amalgamation of previously disparate mythological themes and concepts. However, I don't want to focus on the myth. There is a Russian saying that goes, "A fairytale is a lie, but it has a hint—the lesson for the good men to learn". What I do is take the lie of any myth and try to extract the reality constituent from it, applying it to my own practice.
So my major concern is not cultural or philosophical parallels in the movie, not the allusions to various works of literature and cinema that had existed before the movie. (There had been so many of such allusions to other books, movies, and cartoons, that Larry and Andy Wachowski brothers, the creators of the trilogy, were even blamed for plagiarism). In this lecture, I will examine this famous science-fiction trilogy The Matrix, written and directed by Wachowski brothers, from the perspective of various spiritual practices, yoga, and sorcery. While the Christian metaphors throughout the film have been well noted, significant elements of a Buddhist and sorcery worldview are often overlooked. In particular, the symbolic and existential parallels to a fourth century (C.E.) philosophical school of Buddhism know as "Consciousness-only" (Vijnanavada/Yogachara) are indeed striking.

The Matrix: A Plot Summary

For those who have not seen the film, I'll tell you very brief summary of the plot. The basic premise is that the world as we know it is not objectively real but a computer simulation (the Matrix) wired into our minds by a species of artificial intelligence—"a singular consciousness that spawned an entire race of machines," we are told. This cyber-species was originally created by human technological know-how, but eventually took over after emerging victorious in a war waged for generations that virtually destroyed the world. It (they?) now breeds humans as an energy resource (sort of like living batteries) and inputs the virtual Matrix to keep our minds occupied—"And so," we are informed, "they built a prison out of our past, wired it to our brains and turned us into slaves." A small colony of humans has survived independent from the artificial race in a place called Zion, below the surface of the earth. They await a foretold messiah who will conquer the Matrix and restore human control to the world. That is the basic story line revealed through the first third of the movie.
[5] We are introduced to the hero Neo (an anagram for "the One"), a talented computer hacker, as he sits before his computer. The screen blinks a message and Neo (Keanu Reeves) stares blankly—"The Matrix has you…." This is Neo's initial revelatory call. He is eventually led to Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) who is leader of a rebel team and convinced that Neo is "the One," the long expected Messiah who will free humanity from its plight. Neo makes the dramatic choice between the blue pill and the red pill Morpheus is offering him—in the first case, he would wake up in his bed, still in the Matrix, and probably believe that his new adventure was but a dream, and never wake up from the Matrix again. The red pill would let him be born again. He takes the red pill, letting Morpheus extract Neo from his enslaved existence. The team takes Neo from out of the Matrix and into the real world by waking him up. Morpheus reveals the deluded nature of the Matrix and trains Neo in how to enter and manipulate the Matrix for his own purposes. "The Matrix is everywhere," Morpheus informs Neo. "It's all around us, here even in this room. … It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth." But Morpheus can take Neo only so far; Neo's identity as a Messiah is a growing one and he must complete his own rite of passage and discover the path for himself. He is not even convinced he is "the One."
Two other key figures are worth noting. One is a woman named Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss), Neo's closest companion within the rebel group. She also is convinced, because of an oracle once received, that Neo is the One. The second is Cypher (Joe Pantoliano), an angry member of the rebel group who eventually betrays Morpheus and Neo to the cyber enemy. In the fast moving conclusion, Neo rescues Morpheus, battles virtual agents of the cyber enemy, is killed, resurrected, and finally appears to conquer the Matrix. The final outcome is left ambiguous as Neo warns the entity controlling the Matrix: "I know you're real proud of this world you've built, the way it works, all the nice little rules and such, but I've got some bad news. I've decided to make a few changes." In the final scene, Neo ascends to the sky like Superman.

Matrix Reloaded:

Neo and Trinity arrive in Zion, the last outpost of free human beings on Earth. Meanwhile, Agent Smith has returned with some surprises for Neo, most notably the ability to replicate himself as many times as he pleases. Neo makes his way to The Oracle, who informs him that if he wishes to save the mankind, he must unlock "The Source", which means having to release The Key Maker from the clutches of Merovingian, a powerful demon from the previous versions of the Matrix. While Merovingian refuses to cooperate, his wife, Persephone, angry at her husband's dalliances with other women, offers to help. With The Keymaker in tow, Neo, Trinity, and Morpheus are chased by Merovingian's henchmen: a pair of deadly ghost twins. With The Keymaker's help, Neo penetrates a backdoor in the Matrix where he encounters the Matrix's designer The Architect and begins to discover his true purpose as The One. But in doing so he must make a choice between either saving Zion or the life of Trinity.

Matrix Revolutions:

Neo is trapped in limbo between reality and the Matrix, while Zion is attacked by hordes of machines. Meanwhile, Morpheus, Trinity, and Seraph confront the ruthless Merovingian to secure Neo's release. As the fight for Zion grows more dire, Neo and Trinity embark on a perilous journey into the heart of the machine city, while Morpheus rushes to Zion's aid. Eventually, Neo must face the increasingly powerful Agent Smith in a last battle with Smith for the fate of humanity. I'll explain the meaning of this last battle a little later.

Christian and Buddhist Parallels in The Matrix

The Christian parallels are rather obvious. Neo, like Jesus, is the long-expected Messiah who is ultimately killed only to resurrect in the first movie as a fully "divine" creature. The final scene even evokes the bodily ascent of Jesus to heaven. Also, Morpheus seems every bit the equivalent of John the Baptist because he keeps saying "it's my honor to meet you", meaning he belittles himself as compared to Neo, and is just a predecessor. Something like John the Baptist said, "I am not worthy to lace a sandal on the foot of the One who follows me". Trinity might be compared to Mary Magdalene and Cypher clearly parallels Judas. But where is God in all this? And what, we might ask, is the fundamental human problem suggested by this epic narrative?
Most religious foundation myths suggest a basic existential problem of human existence. Confucian accounts of the idealized Chou dynasty, for example, inform its understanding of the fundamental problem—social disharmony due to the human tendency to neglect ritual and social propriety. For Hindus, it is bondage in the perpetual cycle of sansara, life after life, as illustrated in the Bhagavad-Gita and other mythological narratives. And for Christianity and Judaism, the fundamental problem is alienation from God due to our sinful nature and egoistic tendency toward trying to be like God, symbolized best in the Genesis creation narrative. The soteriological (relating to salvation) claim of Christianity is that God has offered his own son, the messiah, as a means to overcome that alienation. In the Movie, the Name of Neo—Anderson—clearly indicates that: andras = man in Greek, so he is the Son of Man—the title often applied to Jesus in the New Testament. There are other interesting clues such as marks on the ships of the rebels that clearly allude to the gospel of Mark: Mark XIV No. 14
Made in the USA
Year 2101

Mark 14:14 And wheresoever he shall go in, say ye to the goodman of the house, The Master saith, Where is the guestchamber, where I shall eat the passover with my disciples?
Made in the USA
Year 2111

Mark 14:62 And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.

Mark VI No. 16
Made in the USA
Year 2079

Mark 6:16 But when Herod heard thereof, he said, It is John, whom I beheaded: he is risen from the dead.

Mark III No 11
Made in the USA
Year 2069

Mark 3:11 Whenever the evil spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, "You are the Son of God."
While The Matrix echoes the messianic motifs of the Christian narrative, the "human problem" is clearly not alienation from God since God is nowhere present in the story—or at least not a personal creator God. The Architect in the second movie is not God—rather, he appears as a selfish programmer-mathematician trying to create a perfect software simulating an esthetically perfect reality. Each time he fails (he says this version is now Matrix 6.0), and he realizes that. The Oracle said "his main goal is just to balance the equation". Here we see a clear parallel with the Gnostic tradition—gods are not benevolent toward us, rather, they are ignorant and selfish, just like us. The Oracle appears as Sophia—goddess of Wisdom in Gnosticism. The bottom line of Gnosticism is that the universe is like an onion—many layers of creations, each created by gods hierarchically lesser than their creators. The further down gods and their creations, the more ignorance and suffering. And we on Earth are of course somewhere at the bottom of this pyramid.
The Matrix need not be understood only as a "contemporary" adaptation of the Judeo-Christian apocalyptic view; there are other ancient mythological perspectives that also omit the "divine" entirely. It is here, I think, that Buddhism offers an illuminating mythological parallel.
The most fundamental problem according to Buddhism is our ignorance of existential reality. If we could perceive the true nature of reality and the path to enlightenment, condensed in Sakyamuni teaching of the three marks of existence (impermanence, no-self, and suffering) and the Four Noble Truths, then we could overcome our ignorant state and achieve the insight of a Buddha (the "awakened one"). In the movie, Buddha is most likely represented by Seraph. This "problem of the mind" is reflected in the first two verses of the Dhammapada, an early collection of sayings attributed to the historical Buddha:
All that we are is the result of what we have thought: it is founded on our thoughts, it is made up of our thoughts. If a man speaks or acts with an evil thought, pain follows him, as the wheel follows the foot of the ox that draws the carriage…. If a man speaks or acts with pure thought, happiness follows him, like a shadow that never leaves him.2
This is further and perhaps best articulated in the fourth century C.E. Mahayana philosophical school known as Yogachara, which resonates strikingly with The Matrix.3 Yogachara, also known as the "Consciousness Only" school (Vijnanavada), asserts that the objective world we perceive to be real is ultimately a product of our minds.4 As with the Western Idealist tradition, this is not necessarily an ontological assertion (the objective world does not exist), though many observers have drawn this conclusion.5 Rather, this is more accurately an epistemological insight.6 That is, Western and Buddhist "idealism" emphasizes that every "object" is significantly altered by our perception and understanding; we know it second-hand as idea and we cannot know it before it is so transformed. "What is real?" Morpheus asks as he introduces Neo to the Matrix. "How do you define real? If you're talking about your senses, that you feel, taste, smell, or see, then all you're talking about are electrical signals interpreted by your brain." This quote might just as well appear in the philosophical dialogues of Vasubandhu, a fourth century founder of Yogachara.
While there may be striking similarities between Yogachara and Western Idealist statements concerning the relationship between objective reality and out perception of it, a fundamental difference lies in the soteriological aim of such an insight. Western Idealists strive to discern an а priori, absolute moral sense (Kant) or an "Absolute Mind" (Hegel) through rational analysis. In contrast, Yogacharins emphasize the essential path and process toward to discerning the world free of delusion. This necessarily entails various meditative and visualization practices—hence, the name of the school ("practitioners of yoga"). Meditation techniques were developed to, in a sense, deconstruct one's conditioned way of seeing the world and help one awaken to the way the world truly is. The manner in which one is able to create and control images in the mind through various visualization practices only serves to reinforce the notion that everyday conscious perceptions, like dreams, are no less "created." The practitioner comes to realize the illusory nature of the self and the external constituents of reality (Dharmas). Ultimately, one transcends subject-object dualism and abides in pure consciousness, an ineffable state of transcendent bliss. This is the soteriological goal of a Yogachara practitioner. According to tradition, as one progresses along this path, one procures powers (Siddhi) to manipulate the perceived "objective" world. A Buddha actually attains the power to create his/her own cosmic realm.7 And that is what we see Neo do in the following two movies: his powers in the Matrix are exceeding even the powers of the Awakened ones, the Zion people traveling to the Matrix. And then he even exercises these siddhi in the real world—he stops the machines with his will, or personal force, exactly as Jedi's in the Star Wars movies. That is to say, since Neo now possesses the power to control and manipulate the matrix, he creates a new world for beings to experience.
The parallels between The Matrix and this Yogachara Buddhist analysis of the human problem should be apparent by now. In both cases, the issue is one of the mind. In The Matrix, Morpheus informs Neo the he is a slave: "…you (like everyone else) were born into bondage...... kept inside a prison that you cannot smell, taste, or touch. A prison for your mind." Moreover, humanity's state of ignorance is largely of its own making in both accounts. In Buddhism, we are karmically conditioned, both individually and collectively, by our past choices and behavior. The life one is born into is determined by one's karma, and one's present "worldview" is conditioned by one's context and volitional choices. (In the Bible, the analogy of the term "bad karma" is the term "sin"). According to The Matrix, humanity is controlled by an artificial intelligence it created. Thus, humans bear significant responsibility for their enslaved state caused by their past sin, or bad karma. In The Matrix, the perceived reality is literally "programmed" into our minds. Neo, despite his clear Messianic qualities, seems more like a Buddha or bodhisattva who comes to reveal to humanity its state of ignorance and, presumably, the way out. The integration of martial arts with its yogic emphasis on discipline and mind control are noteworthy. The very process of Neo's training is a techno-cyber version of meditation. New software is input yielding a complete transformation of mind just as meditative practices are intended to transform one's perception and experience of reality. Neo can see things in the Matrix—for example, the true body of Seraph—as streams of digits in the Matrix. I'll say more about the direct perception later. In the movie, the ability to see directly, without being deceived by the illusory nature of the Matrix simulation, is to see the streams of digits the way Neo and Merovingian (episode with the lady at the table and the piece of cake in the restaurant of Merovingian) can see them while in the Matrix and the way the awakened ones can see it on their screens in Nebuchadnezzar ship. By the way, who is Merovingian? He is a powerful demon who learned how to make his life infinitely longer than that of usual mortal men by learning the rules of the Matrix. There are many myths about such beings actually existing in our world—these were the sorcerers of antiquity who became proficient in their sorcery for their base ends. They are also referred to as black sorcerers. One such case is described in Vol. 9 of Carlos Castaneda, "The Art of Dreaming". Another case is presented in a way of fiction—it's another movie, not so famous, but also great: the French VIDOCQ with Gerard Depardieu.
The majority of people are deluded by their thinking mind and so are greatly limited in their perceiving capacity. One of the goals of Buddhism and sorcery is to free the perception of men to embrace the multitude of worlds available to us. The last sequel reveals more about this soteriological path in the New Testament terms.
Who in the audience never read the New Testament? Please raise your hands.
Here we have to question ourselves, who is agent Smith? In his classical monologue speaking to Morpheus in the skyscraper where he is trying to break his mind and get the access code to Zion he comes clean: his instrumental goal to freedom is destroying all humans. Then he wouldn't be needed as the serving program for the Matrix and thus somehow become free. therefore, I think in Biblical terms he is Satan, or Devil, or Death. Or, in Buddhist terms, he is Mara—the demon and ruler of this world. Buddha Gautama had overcome death by reaching Nirvana and gaining the body of energy. Seraph tells agent Smith surprisingly when he first sees him in the movie, "I had beaten you before!" Obviously, he refers to Death himself. Throughout the trilogy, Neo is fighting Smith. That is exactly what Jesus was doing for 3 and a half years of his ministry on the earth—he was fighting Death by raising the dead and healing the sick. The most famous instance is raising Lazarus from the dead. And then he is headed toward his final battle with Satan, personification of Death—the cross of the Calvary. Just like in the third movie, Neo is headed toward the final battle with Agent Smith. The famous key verse in NT that helps understanding what actually happened on the cross is Heb. 2:14, and 15.
Since therefore the children have shared in blood and flesh, He also Himself in like manner partook of the same, that through death He might destroy him who has the might of death, that is, the devil, 15 And might release those who because of the fear of death through all their life were held in slavery. In the Matrix! (-:
Also, in Colossians 2:14 and 15 a similar picture is drawn: on the cross, JC shakes off the unclean spirits that attacked him and were dangling on him like some sucking worms. How exactly did Christ destroy Satan on the cross? This theory sounds a bit complicated, but in fact it's easy to understand. Many researchers of the Bible, beginning with St. Augustine, say that Satan was trapped like a mouse in a mousetrap. From NT we know that our flesh is by default inhabited by Satan—it's the body of sin. So Christ took on this human form—the likeness of the body of sin, although he had no sin himself. And then he willingly let himself be crucified by God the Father through the hands of men. Satan got attracted to the apparent mortality of Christ and at the moment of his dying came into his flesh to kill him too. Right then the trap clicked—God the Father killed the human form, the sinless flesh, of God the Son, and Satan, the embodiment of sin, too. Christ then went down to Hades, fully conscious, then returned with a new body of energy, and then ascended. Of course that wasn't the final annihilation of Satan, but the precedent was created—from now on, any Christian can partake of the death of Christ in his spirit by joining himself to the Spirit of Jesus Christ, and practically crucify the Sin (=the Satan) in him.
Isn't it the explanation for the final scene in "Matrix: Revolutions"? Christ killing Satan = Neo killing agent Smith! In his last battle, Neo dies and kills Smith along with him, to the surprise of the latter. There had been hints earlier in the movie (mostly from the Oracle) that Neo cannot kill agent Smith unless he dies himself. And Neo seems to realize this shortly before the end. The resurrection of Neo is not shown, but 1) he already resurrected in Film 1; and 2) Then the Oracle answers to Sati's (the little girl) question whether they'll see Neo again positively.

The Sorcery Parallel in The Matrix

The parallel to sorcery in the movie is also overlooked by the critics. And this subject is what I am interested about the most. In the books of Carlos Castaneda, he describes how his teacher, Don Juan, teaches him that the appearance as we perceive it is not the unique one (he doesn't say it's false though—here's the difference between the Hindu concept of Maya, the universal illusion, and the concepts of American Indian sorcery). Don Juan says all the dualisms that the mankind invented—the good and the bad, god and satan, moral and immoral, right and wrong, are irrelevant, not important. The only dualism that matters is that of Tonal and Nagual. Tonal is all we can see, smell, touch, or speak of (just like Morpheus describes the Matrix to Neo in their first time in the Construct). Its counterpart is Nagual—everything else in the infinite Universe that we cannot even talk about because our human language ends there, it is insufficient to describe the multitude of the worlds that really actually exist for the sorcerers, yogins, advanced Christians of all times and are available for them to travel in. Here is a slight difference between the concept of Nagual and the real world in the Matrix—we can talk about the real world and we know its rules. However, the analogy is clear: Nagual (or the real world) is infinitely larger than Tonal (the Matrix), and staying our whole life in the latter is a humiliating bondage, the slavery. (The parallel term to the North American sorcery term Nagual in Indian religions is Nirvana). This, too, matches the abovementioned doctrine of Yogachara perfectly. It's a great illustration of how different spiritual traditions describe the same intrinsic laws of man and nature in different terms.
DJ also teaches CC to see—that is, to see the true nature of things, the energy. Even the modern physicists know that our world is pure energy. Matter, on one hand, and the same matter is energy, on the other. E=mc2. When CC succeeds in doing that, he can see past the deceitful appearance of the world around and comprehend everything as filaments of light, as energy fields. This is well portrayed by the streams of digits that we see in all three movies. Of course we know that in reality there is no digital matrix, but it's a great metaphor for our learning! And then by the end of the third movie, Neo sees the real world as it is—as the flows of energy—exactly as described in the books of CC. I am pretty sure that Wachowski brothers had read Castaneda's books carefully.
So here is the practical magic I see in the movie, the practical lesson for us to learn today: how can we practically take the red pill and break out of the Matrix to be free? I described 3 traditions, following which you can do so. Following the path of the Bible, you take the red pill by praying. Following the path of Buddhism, you take the red pill by meditating. And following the path of sorcery, you take the red pill by doing Don Juan's practices such as the ones that Carlos Castaneda learned from him to stop his internal dialogue: crossing his eyes as he walked, paying attention to the sounds rather than using the eyesight and, above all, losing his self-importance in daily life. However, the difference is that in real life taking the red pill, unlike in the movie, is not instantaneous, rather, it's a long process of diligent unceasing exercise.
Beyond these parallels to Buddhist and Christian worldviews, it is also important to note how this "myth" diverges from core values of these traditions. For example, in many respects The Matrix is a glorification of violence and patriarchal dominance. The one token female is, on the surface, notably androgynous or even masculine. And the graphic violence merited an "R" rating for the film. One might argue that the killings are not actual but analogous to killing the demons of one's mind or destroying the symbolic manifestations of hatred, greed and delusion (i.e., Sakyamuni's encounter with Mara beneath the Bodhi tree on the eve of his enlightenment. Agent Smith could also represent Mara, as I mentioned). But the mesmerizing process of destruction, amplified by the technology of video effects or "bullet time" photography, transcends metaphorical license and clearly cultivates a more literal form of violence. It is here, as with all mythology, that we must pay due attention to the context of this myth and especially its commercial aims. The glorification of violence has clear commercial appeal to one of the primary target audiences of Hollywood producers—teenage boys. This is the sugar coating of thrilling visuals on the pill of ancient wisdom. So while on an abstract level, The Matrix indeed evokes many "religious" parallels to Christianity, Buddhism, and other mythological traditions, it also integrates arguably contradictory values of violence and male dominance for commercial (or other) ends. Might we say it reifies some of the "social matrices" it allegedly purports to undermine?
Wachowski brothers said in an interview: We're interested in mythology, theology and, to a certain extent, higher mathematics. All are ways human beings try to answer bigger questions, as well as The Big Question. If you're going to do epic stories, you should concern yourself with those issues. People might not understand all the allusions in the movie, but they understand the important ideas. We wanted to make people think, engage their minds a bit.8
Mixing metaphors from Christianity, Buddhism, Greek mythology, and even cyber technology, The Matrix as myth may be seen as an analysis of the contemporary existential condition. It appropriates the decidedly Christian messianic mythological framework but imports a form of Buddhist idealism to radically transform the (Christian) existential understanding of the human condition. In this respect, it dialectically produces a new worldview through myth.
It remains to be seen how influential The Matrix has become; the sequels determined its longevity now, after 8 years from the release of the first film. I don't know of any other movie that created such a wide response in the media, except maybe the abovementioned Star Wars and the Lord Of The Rings trilogy.
So it is up to us whether we want to take the red pill or keep sleeping, lulled by the blue pill of unconsciousness in the midst of our tedious daily routines, walk the same circle again until we die. Me, I try to choose the red pill every day. However, I would never try to give a lecture like that in a way of preaching or making someone blindly believe anything. As Morpheus says repeatedly in the first movie, "you have to see these things for yourself".

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