Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Shin-Tao of Apocalypse

The Woman of Babylon on the beast with seven heads in the Apocalypse: Dürer

Views of the messiah as apocalyptic saviour are diverse and confused. They are dominated by Jesus as a 'Dionysian Essene' mingling both Essene final apocalypsis and the fertility rites of Dhushara of Nabatea in a mission of miraculous dread. The pagan fantasy of the second coming, or parousia, of Christ, eclipses this hyperbole in the form of a demiurge riding a white horse in the sky, waving the sword-tongue of apocalypse, while the populations sway in fear, and the 144,000 elect rise to heaven, while the rest are cursed to hell.

Another more fertile and lushous view of the messiah is that of Solomon, the king of the first temple and a period of Hebrew unity and royal splendour, despite the fact that he had 300 wives and countless concubines, and loved both the Pharaoh's daughter and the Queen of Sheba and let his wives worship their strange gods and goddesses, as well as dabbling himself in the occult arts and knowing the plants from the hyssop to the cedar. The Song of Songs as Holy of Holies attests to the power of the messiah as sacred fertility king in complementary relationship with the Shulamite bride.

I have tried to show you another persona of the messiah as a person, who helps throw the covers off reality in evolutionary time in a scientific and sexual unveiling, healing the apocalyptic desecration of planet Earth, and restoring the complementarity between woman and man, thus sustaining the diversity of life throughout our generations. I have tried to show you that this is both a natural and a conscious intentional process, with shamanic dimensions, requiring an understanding of the cosmological, evolutionary, sexual, social and sentient roots of our existence. The messiah is one who shows us that we are incarnations of the cosmic source and here together to redeem the universe, in love, through the preservation of the evolutionary Tree of Life, and the protection of the diversity of conscious life on the planet. This is itself the one great apocalypsis of planet Earth, culminating from the evolutionary emergence of life and then humanity and culture and our patriarchal Fall from Eden, through accelerating future shock, to the rape of the planet and nuclear mutually assured destruction - a unique crisis of transformation, which every intelligent planet must face, hopefully no more than once, in its conscious awakening.

There have of course been many other messiahs, from Bar Cochbah to Shabbati Zevi, and many other heroes and religious and political revolutionaries, from Moses and Buddha, through Jesus and Muhammad to the Raj Nishs, Jim Jones's, Che Guevaras and Bin Ladens of the present day, all of whom have postured as leaders of world movements of one kind or another, with results whose dangers of jihad, utopian crisis and the dilemma of the apocalyptic following, are well-described in fictional allegories, such as Muad Dib's plight in Frank Herbert's 'Dune'.

A vital counterpoint to this full-frontal idea of messiah as heroic leader is the lesson of Lao Tsu, the 'old master', who walked with the birds, and who, as the story goes, set forth to leave civilization for the wilderness, but was fortuitously imprisoned by a guard at the Great Wall, until he produced a work of posterity - now known as the Tao te Ching. It is also said that the guard left with him, and that he also taught the Gautama and that Confucius parried with him to his horrific nemesis.

Although Lao Tsu's heritage is more subtle than the hero-worshipping religions of Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Buddhism, and the guru worshipping aspects of Vedanta it is as enduring and pervasive as any of these, and far closer to nature, also reflecting more closely the root complementation of female and male principles, generally lost on its patriarchal cousins. The Tao of the 'Tao te Ching' is unseen, but not transcendent, being the root of all things. It's 'way' of the valley leads to a return to the natural condition and even to the primordial state. It is this primordial state that I manifest as an incarnation of the cosmic source, compassionate of the mortal coil, and the mass extinction of living diversity by human kind.

Taoist sages have led an example of anonymous existence in wu wei - the enlightenment of the Tao drifting freely is a state of mind experienced more easily by the unknown - a 'hermit' living in the midst of society rather than a leader posturing in the full glare of the Machiavellian affairs of state and distorting the enticements of popularity and power.

After leaving Jerusalem, where I performed the millennial rights of passage from the apocalyptic age to the reflowering of the Tree of Life in the reunion of woman and man, I traveled to India and Nepal to pay my respects to the dark Goddess Kali as a persona of liberation of the feminine, just as Jesus quoted the Queen of Sheba would bear witness to his own messiahship, as she did for Solomon, having himself been anointed to his doom by a woman of decidedly ambiguous reputation, rather than a 'kosher' high priest.

The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with the men of this generation, and condemn them: for she came from the utmost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here (Luke 11:31).

Subsequently to my messianic march from the Ascension site on the Mount of Olives, via the Gates of Mercy, to the Wailing Wall, I vowed to go the way of Lao Tsu, and have remained at the antipodes, punctuated only by trips to Asia in which we have explored the worlds of sexual paradox and its expression in Eastern paths, from those of Indian Tantra, through Tibetan Buddhism and Taoism, to Zen and Shinto during our last journey this year to Japan.

The Japan trip brought this paradox of concealment back home in a rather neat and simple way. Through the shrines and temples we visited and the energetic festivals we attended it became rapidly apparent that, despite its rather xenophobic reputation outside Japan as an exclusive national religion, Shinto is an aboriginal neighbourhood tradition nurturing the positive life force, complementing of the negative mind-centered renunciation amid mortal ego-suffering and moral exhortations of Buddhism.
  1. Video of Kasuga festival, Kyoto
  2. Video of Otsu Matsuri, Otsu
  3. Video of Hikayama Matsuri, Kakunodate
  4. Video of Kishimojo Shrine, Ikebukuro, Tokyo
'Shin-Tao', which translates as the Tao of the Gods, also expresses the sexual paradox, in its many fertility Goddesses and only partially concealed sexual rites, and expresses the Samurai code of honour without moral imperative - an amoral spirituality of the evolutionary survival of life.

Tamamo-no Mae

While we were in Kyoto, we went to Otsu matsuri, where chimakis - good luck charms made of woven rice straw were scattered to the crowds, along with some small good luck scarves. We ended up bringing a couple of chimakis and a scarf with an enigmatic fox with nine tails scuffing up dirt in the face of the onlookers. This proved to be the kitsune or fox with nine tails whose story originates with Tamamo-no-Mae (玉藻前) a beautiful peerless female courtesan, whose real identity was claimed to be a nine-tailed fox out to seduce and kill the emperor when he mysteriously fell ill and she abruptly disappeared. The fox kitsune was killed, variously by a great warrior, or a Buddhist monk, and turned into the stone of death sesshoseki-zan - a volcanic boulder spouting underworld gasses, that killed anyone that touched it. The same night, we came coincidentally upon the animé series of Naruto, the ninja kid who is also an incarnation of the fox with nine tails, which has also become a potent symbol of supernatural power. The more tails a kitsune has — they may have as many as nine — the older, wiser, and more powerful it is.

The ninja form a subterranean counter current to the samurai, whose code of honour means they cannot take on subversive deceptive activities without losing face, so ninja were often mercenaries hired by feudal Lords as mercenaries to be the underground complement of the samurai defenses operating subversively behind enemy lines, as well as being a secret society of protectors of local villages. Thus ninja gains the underground metaphor of stealth, in the etymology dating back to the 8th century. Ninja consists of the on'yomi or original Chinese reading of the first and last kanji of shinobi-no-mono (忍の者) - "to steal away" and—by extension—"to forbear," - another term being oniwaban (お庭番 "one in the garden"). Mono (者, likewise pronounced sha or ja) means "person." The nin of ninjutsu is the same as that in ninja, whereas jutsu (術) means skill or art, so ninjutsu means "the skill of going unperceived" or "the art of stealth"; hence, ninja and shinobi-no-mono (as well as shinobi) may be translated as "one skilled in the art of stealth." Similarly, the pre-war word ninjutsu-zukai means "one who uses the art of remaining unperceived."

The 'skill' of the ninja is thus the skill of effecting change by stealth. The way of the ninja is a Dionysian version of transformation, counterposed to the forthright approaches of the samurai and the kingly messiah, which Jesus whipped up in Galilee, and Muhammad exploited in Medina and Mecca.

The critical point is that Lao Tsu's way is both as effective ultimately in creating a sustainable heritage, is far superior at avoiding entrapment, and is closer to nature, just as the covert streams of natural shamanism have been for millennia. To coexist at the antipodes is both a practical exercise of participatory authorship and a shamanistic vigil watching the mass extinction of life and the follies of world leaders, political, economic and religious intent on agendas of winner take all greed, religious utopian ascendancy by force of violence, and the lethal gambits of utopian apocalyptic endgames; at the same time, through one's astute compassionate gaze, seeking the healing in the unfolding of a reasonable way out to a soft landing for humanity and the biosphere which sustains us that emerges from the consciousness of humanity in response to its own crisis.

In the same way as Lao Tsu, I am leaving sufficient traces of the unravelling - postcards form the edge of existence - in the form of blogs, books, videos, and songs which form a kind of koan - a puzzle spread across the noosphere of the web, which those who have the insight and resourcefulness to chart, can discover to be it's own unique teaching into the nature of incarnation in the likeness of the cosmic source redeeming reality by participating in its conscious evolution.

Jesus did finally adopt the covert exit, vanishing mysteriously after being taken away early from the crucifixion, so that we still don't know what happened with the women afterwards and whether he died, or may even have survived, as some researchers, such as Hugh Schonfield and Robert Graves have suggested, after carefully staging his Dionysian demise.

Despite falling for the apocalyptic 'Kingdom', which caused him to claim futilely that some before him would not pass away before he returned on the right hand of Power,

Jesus said unto them, 'Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power (Mark 9:1).

Jesus understood this mission of 'stealth', which itself is both theft and personal concealment, both in his astute sayings in the Gospel of Thomas,

It is I who am the light which is above them all. It is I who am the all. From me did the all come forth, and unto me did the all extend. Split a piece of wood, and I am there. Lift up the stone, and you will I find me there (Thomas 77).

and in the metaphor of his coming as a thief in the night:

And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through. Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not (Luke 12:39).

Christians haven't realized three essential paradoxes in their bondage:

Firstly the messianic tradition is a living one, regenerated not by pagan demiurges, who we worship on crucifixes, or swear by as a feudal Lord and saviour, but real human beings responding to changing crises, by invoking a paradigm of long-term future goodness, to refertilize the living generations.

Secondly the church is only a steward until the next messiah appears who will not be a Christian, nor will they fulfill the Christian messianic expectation, because they will burst the bubble of perception, to invoke a new paradigm, as this is precisely the act that makes them a messiah. The paradigm of the Tree of Life is the successor of the messianic apocalypse ensuing from the Fall, and here the whole heroic edifice crumbles.

The third and final key is that the thief will not be stealing up on us to frighten us in the day of judgment, but is, on the contrary, as I speak, stealing away, to avoid the very trap of apocalyptic dysfunctional catastrophe the heroic leadership paradigm inexorably gravitates into, taking the unwary with it into the black hole of religious bondage and violence.

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