Monday, May 14, 2012

Illuminatus! Excerpt: Liberation

The nine stages of Hashishim training, the thirteen stages in Weishaupt's Iluminati, the thirty-two
degrees of masonry, etc., are, of course, arbitrary. The Theravada Buddhists have a system of forty
meditations, each leading to a definite stage of growth. Some schools of Hinduism recognize only
two stages: Dhyana, conquest of the personal ego, and Samadhi, unity with the Whole. One can
equally well posit five stages or a hundred and five. The essential that is common to all these systems
is that the trainee, at some point or other, is nearly scared to death.* 

* An interesting account of a traditional system used by quite primitive Mexican
Indians, yet basically similar to any and all of the above, is provided by anthropologist
Carlos Castaneda, who underwent training with a Yaqui shaman, and recounts some of
the terrors vividly in The Teachings of Don Juan, A Separate Reality, Journey to Ixtlan,
and Tales of Power. Don Juan used peyote, stramonium, and a magic mushroom
(probably psilocyble Mexicana, the drug Tim Leary used for his first trip). 

The difference between these systems is that some aim to liberate every candidate and some, like
Sabbah's and Weishaupt's, deliberately encourage the majority to remain in ignorance, whereby they
may with profit be endlessly exploited by their superiors in the cult. The same general game of an
illuminated minority misusing a superstitious majority was characteristic of Tibet until the Chinese
Communist invasion broke the power of the high lamas. A sympathetic account of the Tibetan
system, which goes far toward justifying it, can be found in Alexandra David-Neel's The Hidden
Teachings of Tibetan Buddhism; an unsympathetic account by a skeptical fellow mystic is available
in The Confessions of Aleister Crowley.

I've been scared to death quite a few times...

The Illuminatus! Trilogy is a series of three novels written by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson.

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