The Faust Syndrome and the End of the Time of Enlightened Masters – Morten Tolboll
A phenomenon which I have returned to many times in my books, especially in my book, Lucifer Morningstar – a Philosophical Love Story, is the Faust-syndrome. It is a syndrome which characterizes most Westerners: it is the dangers of ego-inflation in combination with spiritual practice. Ego-inflation is at the same time based on a great denial of our own collective shadow, or painbody, which are rooted in original sin. It is a kind of compensation.
The same energy-process and function, which realized spiritual teachers use, can therefore be used for other purposes than spiritual. When the collective time´s energy-processes are used spiritual, then the Ego, in its egoistic isolating and self-affirmative function, steps aside, and the energy is turned into the Now, and therefore in towards the Source and the spiritual dimension. The people, who around a spiritual teacher, constitute the energy-mandala, are in this way made transparent for a higher common human spirituality.
In the Ego-inflation the contact with, and the ability to manipulate with such collective forms of energy, will be used for other purposes than spiritual. It can be creative, Ego affirmative, political, demonical and so on.
The powers that, by realized spiritual teachers, are given to others´ disposal in healing, energy transmission and spiritual information exchange, the same powers can themselves be turned in through the Ego-structures, and therewith into past and future. In this way, there can be opened creative channels, created super Egos, created political leaders and popular seducers.
This is a demonical element.
Many gurus seem to have fallen into this temptation. In the story about the temptation in the desert, we can see these possible ways of using the energy pictured in anticipated form. Here you see the possibility of using the freedom and the power, to elevation of the Ego and the consequent power and material glory. But Jesus abstains from this deification of the Ego.
However, many false gurus have fallen for the temptation. And in the present time, where spirituality is blended with coaching and management theory – the belief in, that worship of money, success and winner-mentality, is the same as being in compliance with the universal laws – we will undoubtedly see an explosion of such super Egos – and experiences show, that the world will follow them.
In Doctor Faustus Thomas Mann describes, how the main character Adrian Leverkühn discovers and releases such collective powers and is using them to intensify his musical creativity to genius heights. He goes deliberately into a demonizing process by making love with the whore Esmeralda, whereby he conscious catches syphilis, for then to use the inner pole-tension of this disease to heighten his creative capacity.
Afterwards the universal energy-mandala unfolds itself out through lines of genius musical works, where both those, who perform them, and those, who listen, are being caught by the magical circle.
Thomas Mann partially builds his figure on Nietzsche, and the whole of the novel is on a collective plane about, what the Germans did under The Second World War, where demonical polarized energy spread from Hitler and the secret SS-rituals.
In Adrian Leverkühn´s dialogues with the Devil are clearly seen haughtiness and superman-feeling as the motives, which control the use of the collective creative energy.
The Faust myth has been retold many times. Latest, the German metal band Rammstein, has laid a Faust reference into the music video to their new great hit, “Deutschland”, which is directed towards the historical hubris with the words:
Wer hoch steigt, der wird tief fallen
Deutschland, Deutschland über allen!
In the video there is a German Shepherd, which is transformed into a mystical poodle. First, in the Faust story, Mephisto appears as a poodle. So, also when it comes to German Tanz-Metal, you are meeting the Faust-syndrome.
The Faust-syndrome doesn´t mean, though, that all great art is coming through because a creative person turns the collective energies in through the Ego-structures: Thomas Mann´s musical image, which intuitively and poetical seeks to understand Hitler-Germany, is for example a contra-image to Bach´s music, which toned God to honour and mankind to uplifting. To all the great works Bach added ”Soli Deo Gloria”.
If you get in contact with collective energies it is in fact a good idea to seek to express your abilities artistically, but in a way, that directs them towards the spiritual dimension. But, it is very difficult to know whether you actually do this, because of the Ego´s incredible ability of self-deceit, and the many masks and roles this can take. I myself have chosen to give away all my services, books and articles for free, so that I at least not is subject for an economical personal gain through my work.
In another, more aesthetic-vampiring scenario, you can also see some of these group-energetical polarization-phenomena around Karen Blixen.
Modern Western occultism is permeated with the Faust-syndrome. There is an intense anti-Christian atmosphere. Both Steiner´s Goetheanum and Jung´s tower in Bollingen are two strange and fascinating buildings, which both has to do with the enlightened consciousness, and, of course, the dangers and pitfalls on the path towards it.
Steiner´s Second Goetheanum
Both buildings are referring to Goethe. Over Jung´s tower is written: “Philemonis Sacrum – Fausti Poenitenia”. Philomoni´s Shrine, Faust´s atonement”. Both buildings have in a symbolic way to do with the collective karma, which unites both Steiner and Jung with Goethe. This kind of collective karma is also the reason why I claim that Europeans must find a European oriented path of enlightenment, in order to understand the layers of our collective painbody, which we will meet when we begin to practice meditation.
The Closing of the American Mind – How Higher Education has Failed Education and Impoverished the Souls of Today´s Students, is a book by Allan Bloom. Bloom explains this by showing the rise of nihilism and the embracement of Nietzsche. In the Matrix Conspiracy, I describe Nietzsche as the Sophist King over all Matrix Sophists. Nietzsche is the philosopher behind the ideas that God is dead, and that it from now on is about creating yourself as God.
The “Me” generation in the United States is a term referring to the baby boomers generation and the self-involved qualities that some people associate with it. The 1970s were dubbed the “Me decade” by writer Tom Wolfe. Christopher Lasch was another writer who commented on the rise of a culture of narcissism among the younger generation of that era. The phrase caught on with the general public, at a time when “self-realization” and “self-fulfillment” were becoming cultural aspirations to which young people supposedly ascribed higher importance than social responsibility.
All my work is a warning against subjectivism and relativism, since these are the direct paths into spiritual crises. Already in the introduction to my first book, Meditation as an Art of Life – a Basic Reader, I wrote:
[…] in a postmodern context you consider concepts such as good an evil, true and false, beautiful and ugly, as something we have created ourselves, and which therefore don´t exist objectively. Therefore claims of objective truth are being rejected as premodern superstition, as expressions of old thinking. And because postmodernism also means individualism, yes, then such a rejection ends up in a global seen unique narcissism, which defends itself with phrases such as: “I have my truth. You have your truth. I want to be allowed to do what I want. You should be allowed to do what you want. Tolerance! New thinking!”
The more advanced forms of consciousness training are traditionally thought only to take place in a face-to-face exchange with an authentic teacher. It is indisputable possible to use books as sources of inspiration, and in particular to review one´s insights and refresh one´s practice. This is something I have tried to do, but unfortunately it is not possible to obtain the subtle practical adjustments and individual corrections required to avoid getting stuck or losing one´s way in the unimaginable abundance of states and pathways of consciousness. Traditionally, this kind of teaching can only take place in an existential, individually responsible, and deeply engaged mutual process with a competent teacher.
Unfortunately it is my view that European/Western people are so immersed in the Faust syndrome, that it is not possible to carry out such a teaching anymore. My experience is that people who come to me for counseling, either already perform as some kind of spiritual teacher (shaman, therapist, healer, etc., etc), or they want to become a spiritual teacher of some kind. That is: they carry the New Age contempt for preparatory practice. I don´t offer an education, and I don´t give people approvals. This makes the traditional teacher/student relationship impossible. You can´t obtain the necessary corrections, which are necessary. If you are suggesting a correction of people´s self-image, they are getting insulted. There is immediately happening a back fire effect, and you find yourself in a chaos of thought distortions. Most often people will leave deeply insulted, and will seek out another teacher who are willing to support them in their self-image. The whole New Age industry is building on this. Every New Age teacher (shamans, therapists, healers, etc.) will typically also offer an easy weekend education for new budding spiritual teachers. The education must necessarily be as easy as possible, so that you can avoid the irritating work with preparatory practice. I have often said, that in New Age there is no students. they are all teachers.
My way of counseling was in the beginning called philosophical counseling. I thought this was the best way to express how I wanted to help people. It was counseling in my teaching. but it didn´t attract many people. I then began calling it shamanic counseling. This resulted in that I began to attract the above-mentioned type of people. I was astounded over the degree of ego-inflation Westerners are immersed in. People wanted to be confirmed in that they were great shamans, spiritual teachers or gurus. They didn´t want to follow my teaching. They thought they were beyond preparatory practice. They talked about their incredible experiences, which I knew only were related to the opening of the upper chakras. I had people claiming they were enlightened, or at least, that they already had experienced enlightenment. I more and more began to question the concept of enlightenment altogether. How could they be enlightened and at the same time ask for my help? Many of them were obviously immersed in thought distortions. How could this be possible, if they were enlightened?
New Age, with its spiritual role-playing game and its self-designed gurus and masters without experience, has in my view put an end to an old tradition. New Age is directly teaching that the old traditions should be redefined. The New Age guru, Ken Wilber, is the most famous example of a New Age teacher, who has redefined the concept of enlightenment. It happens by reducing consciousness to evolution, so that you have the concept of “The Evolution of Consciousness”, meaning that past masters not were as enlightened as today. Wilber himself is of course an example of such new, higher enlightened, master.
Something that seem to justify New Agers, is that many people are experiencing spiritual “awakenings”. Most of these awakenings, are however, top-down awakenings. A top-down awakening is BY FAR the most common spiritual awakening to get stuck in. It also can be the most dangerous because it creates an environment energetically where you are not quite a part of any reality. With the ability to easily shift through dimensions, times, perspectives, and being fully or partially out of your body, it creates opportunity for other energies to attach, and for you to lose a sense of identity or purpose. Without the support that earth and grounding offer (heart and Hara, love and existence), it is difficult to filter the intense energies that are coming through. The more the lower chakras are blocked the worse the imbalance is.
With this type of awakening it is common to see people keep their spiritual lives and their physical lives quite separate. By this, I mean that they may be all about love, light, angels, and awakening in workshops or online, but in their daily lives they are often quite miserable and do not want to participate in life. Often I work with people struggling with depression and anxiety who put on an outward appearance, a mask of being spiritual and enlightened but in their daily lives they are struggling to function, to engage with others, or to want to be on Earth. This is an incredible common symptom in New Age circles due to the immensity of spiritual misguiding; spiritual misguiding which precisely are caused by the top-down awakened. It is all about role-playing: through courses and spiritual educations you buy yourself new levels and titles, just like in a role-playing game. It is not good to be on the low level where most people are. It has been a surprise to me, how fixated people are in becoming a spiritual teacher or educator of some kind, instead of just being a humble practitioner. It is clear that if you behave as a teacher, no one should correct you. This is an aspect of the Faust Syndrome, a typical Western complex due to our denial of our negative karma of original sin; the denial of the devil in the heart; the Anti-Christian attitude.
Indeed, I think we can speak about a collective top-down awakening within the enormous movement of New Age, which expresses itself in a variety of intellectual, identifical and euphorical ego-inflations (and the long wake of psychic wrecks who have ended up in The Dark Night of the Soul). I guess this is what New Agers are speaking about when they are talking about the “global spiritual awakening” which shall lead to the prophesized New Age: the Age of the Aquarius. Just try to google “how to open your third eye” and you´ll get 19.800.000 results (when I tried). Most of the techniques given are in my view examples of spiritual vampirism and directly criminal if there were any way of proving it.
The most significant example of this teaching is the New Thought movement. The New Thought movement is all about the positive side of top-down awakening (it´s all in the head), about success, ecstasy, power, sex, money. Love (which the movement deceivable talk about all the time) is blocked through the teaching of moral subjectivism (which is difficult to discriminate from nihilism) and existence is blocked through philosophical idealism, which teaches that existence is an illusion. The most direct satanic teaching is to be found in New Thought´s self-proclaimed “Third Testament”: A Course in Miracles.
What I, in my shamanic counseling practice, experienced again and again, was, as already mentioned, the meeting with New Agers who work as therapists, spiritual healers or teachers within the alternative world, and who would without doubt be diagnosed as schizophrenic, delusional, bipolar, or simply disconnected and untethered from collective reality. The whole New Age package is opening the path for all this. The subjectivism, the avoidance of preparatory work, the denial of one´s dark sides, and the elimination of critical thinking. I therefore stopped offering shamanic counseling and returned to the old way of counseling: Philosophical Counseling.
I find it interesting, that the authentic spiritual teacher, Mary Shutan, also considered quitting teaching as she saw how the New Age world perpetuated such things, and didn´t want to spend her time immersed in chaos with individuals that lacked any type of logic or connection to communal reality. It is interesting to read about how Shutan, in her second phase of kundalini, naturally (intuitively) was becoming more and more interested in truth (philosophy – love of wisdom) instead of herself. In her book, Working with Kundalini: An Experiential Guide to the Process of Awakening, she writes:
…the realization dawned on me that what motivates you on your spiritual path is highly significant. There is a difference between the search for truth, knowledge, communion, peace, divinity, or similar qualities and a spiritual path fueled by self-obsession (page 134).
Shutan writes this after having told a story about a certain type of women, who contacted her:
…One of these was a certain type of woman who initially puzzled me; up to this point I thought that the spiritual path took direct experience. You did the work, and you saw the results of that effort. But these women had been on a spiritual path for ten, twenty, or even sixty years and they had little or no consciousness. It was because of this type of woman that I stopped offering spiritual guidance appointments to people. She would spend the whole appointment telling me how awake she was, about the fire ceremonies she had attended to in Laos, about how she had known someone thirty years ago who was now famous, and about all of the modalities or methods of healing that she had participated in. She would tell me how wonderful she was because she didn´t eat meat, or about how she didn´t have any anger or shadow anymore because she visited a shaman in Belize.
At the time I held a belief that all it took to become conscious was effort and discipline on the spiritual path. I generally need to feel like I am being of service in my work. I do things wholeheartedly and with passion, or I do not do them at all. These women were not calling me in order to receive a different perspective, or any form of guidance. They were in fact closed to anything I had to say; when I offered any input that varied from their own thoughts they would launch into stories that showed how much they already knew. I began to see and feel compassion for how they had to hold on to such stories because their lives were often a mess, and they still felt empty within (page 133-134).
In an Eastern context, when a disciple meets a teacher, such a behavior is unthinkable. But it is typical for Westerners. In the East there are lot of warnings against this. A Zen master in China talked every morning to his students on a hill. Every day there came a fox and listened. One day the fox stayed and went to the master and asked: “Master, in five hundred incarnations I have been a fox, and yet I was once a Zen monk, what did I do wrong?” And the master answered: “You thought you were a master before you were, and you pretended as if you were.” That is: ego-inflation, identification with an inner power field.
As Shutan says, some of these ego-inflated individuals are dangerous. The name “spiritual vampire” is fully appropriate here. There is no shortage of people in history using spiritual or religious paths to feed delusion, instead of facilitating greater connection. It is people who mix their psychic problems with spiritual constructs. For example, many who believe that they are experiencing kundalini awakenings are not; it is not uncommon for those with mental-emotional imbalances to reach for spiritual labels when medication or other forms of care may be indicated. And, as explained, often real spiritual openings have created a spiritual vampire, due to ego-inflation.
I have been fortunate enough to have had warning dreams, when a spiritual vampire tried to make an appointment with me (in order to get my energy).
In his book The Kundalini Process – A Christian Perspective, the Christian, spiritual director, Philip St. Romain, tells a story about how he, after delivering a lecture at a kundalini conference, was being approached by a man of about 40 who introduced himself as an “energy therapist,” and said there were imbalances in Romain´s auric field he could correct if he let him “work on him.” Romain (who has an active kundalini) writes:
The hair on my back stood up when I heard this, and I politely declined, but he continued to impose this suggestion several more times before finally going away. My general policy is not to allow anyone do any kind of “energy work” with me unless it´s in the context of Christian ministry (page 104).
An even more scary scenario is the scenario of psychic attacks. In Romain´s book there are some stories about such from people who have found a safe shelter in Christianity. One of these stories tells that the attacks not is coming from demons, but from “occultists.” (page 126).
I have myself tried this. And I have heard countless stories of a New Age market filled with all this. So, just like Shutan, I don´t want my life “immersed in chaos with individuals that lack any type of logic or connection to communal reality”. My main tools for protection are partly critical thinking (elenchos, as explained in my book, A Dictionary of Thought Distortions) and my Icons, especially my Icons of the archangel Michael.
And I can also recognize that the attacks not are coming from demons, but from either living people, or spirits. Demons work in another way.
In my article, The Conspiracy of the Third Eye, I have argued that we today see a global collective movement, which work with techniques of opening the upper chakras, and blocking the downward movement towards heart and hara. I claim that this is demonical inspired.
When we easily can shift through dimensions, or being out of our bodies, without embodiment and critical thinking, other energies can attach. Timothy Conway writes in a remark to Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh´s charisma:
It’s well known to the true sages that powerful but ultimately confused, constricted discarnate entities regarded as “demons” or “titans” (Skt.: asura, rakshasa, etc.) can create such electric energies through human beings as a way of then “feeding” on the aroused emotions and psychic states of the hordes of people who surround the human channel. That’s why many Zen masters often warned their students to simply regard all unusual states and energies as makyo, distracting “diabolical phenomena,” and instead wake up to the Open, Infinite Awareness, the formless “Big Self” or pristine “Buddha-Nature.”
In concluding this point: Just because a charismatic figure is felt to be a powerhouse of energy creating altered states of consciousness in people does NOT mean the figure should be viewed as a perfected spiritual master or venerated as “Divine,”…
If you study Rajneesh´s behavior, his way of talking, etc., you´ll have a good idea of how spiritual vampires many times behave. See my article, A Critique of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (Osho). Note how he sucked energy, sex, money and luxury to himself. Also note how he at the same time slowly, bodily and mentally, declined after having been used as a tool. You might say that he taught some very profound things and that this somehow justifies him. Yes he taught profound things, but it doesn´t justify him, since he generally taught modern Western occultism, and its influences of the counterculture, hereunder all the dangerous teaching streaming from the human potential movement (which I believe is demonical inspired).
The same happened with Helen Schucman, the author of A Course in Miracles (she claimed to channel Jesus).
But demons, in my view, very rarely possess a single human being (this is in my view a myth in popular culture). Possession states has to do with other kinds of spirits (there are many). Demons work, as Conway suggests, collectively.
The reason why it is necessary to lead people around the collective time, or, The Spiritual Twilight Zone (see my booklet, The Art of Pilgrimage, about the collective time), or shorten the passage through it, is therefore that discarnate entities from these areas are using people or cults (collective energy processes in mass phenomena: religious, spiritual, political, sports or other type) as psychic channels, working interdimensionally to create all sorts of “experiences” in people, experiences that seems dazzling and/or extraordinary – but with the purpose of using their energy as food.
As in the case of Rajneesh, they can also be powerful humans. As a comment to Kevin Dann´s blog on Deeksha, Joshua Rosenthal is telling that he was throwing this great party in Tokyo and close to the peak of the event, this Deeksha leader asked if she could speak for a minute – she had a gift for Joshua, she said, and Joshua answered: “sure, no problem.” First in Japanese and then in English she got everyone to lie on their back and then – to cut to the chase, she did this eye touching, meaning touching everyone´s third eye and “sending them energy”. Well, Joshua writes, besides the fact that she hijacked his party, at the end of the exercise she looked glowing and full of life while everyone else, including Joshua, had lost their buzz and soon decided to go home. So Joshua thought to himself, it seemed like she was receiving energy instead of giving it (I have written about Deeksha in my article, A Critique of the Indian Oneness Movement and Its Use of Western Success Coaching).
I have myself met quite a few New Agers with a large charisma, almost glowing, but who simply act, talk and behave weirdly. I also attended a party, in Copenhagen, where there was this fascinating and extremely beautiful young woman, who talked in a slow hypnotic way, and had an incredible glow in her clear blue eyes, which seldom blinked. Everybody who approached her, was soon immersed in her tales about her “DNA activation” practice. The party was obviously her hunting ground.
This is something which often seduces people, but in reality it is a quite simple sign of danger. Just ignore them. There is no reason to get scared because of this. The danger happens if you let them work on you physically, or are letting your thoughts get immersed in theirs.
It is interesting that Shutan, who actually was working as a shaman (a person who actively involves herself in the spirit world), only reached the third phase of kundalini, and her enlightenment experiences, due to Zen Buddhist training. She writes:
My experience in 2016 of “dropping through” occurred during meditation. At this point I had meditated for almost twenty years, and due to my early Zen Buddhist training I tended to disregard a lot of the imagery that came up. It was not that such things were not relevant, but I am grateful for this early path as it allowed me to not get stuck in any phenomena, not even bliss or profound states of peace.
Yet this was initially at odds with a lot of my shamanic training, which works with symbols and spirits and the senses in a way that Zen would disregard, or see as biproducts on the path. But pairing the two together has allowed me to experience things fully and dynamically, as well as to avoid attaching mental significance to things. Generally, I find that if a message or something else needs to arise, it will do, and I do not need to sit for hours or decades figuring it out. If we don´t let go of this need to know at a certain point, we can drive ourselves a bit crazy trying to figure out what has happened. This teaches deeper surrender (page 151).
In his book, Shamanism – Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy, Mircea Eliade several times make aware of what he calls “a present decadence of shamanism.” He writes:
According to Buryat tradition, in olden times the shamans received their utcha (the shamanic divine right) directly from the celestial spirits: it is only in our day that they obtain it merely from their ancestors. This belief forms part of the general conception of the decadence of shamans, documented both in the Arctic and in Central Asia; according to this view, the “first shamans” really flew through the clouds on their horses and performed miracles that their present-day descendants are incapable of repeating (page 67).
This sound like the myths in the Indian Yuga teaching, written down in the Vedas. Yuga in Hinduism is an epoch or era within a four-age cycle. A complete Yuga starts with the Satya Yuga, via Treta Yuga and Dvapara Yuga into a Kali Yuga. Our present time is a Kali Yuga, which started at 3102 BCE with the end of the Kurukshetra War (or Mahabharata war). What´s interesting about this view of our present day history is that it has the direct opposite view of the linear history than evolutionism, namely that we are heading into a very long time of decline. The ages see a gradual decline of dharma, wisdom, knowledge, intellectual capability, life span, emotional and physical strength.
The Vedas is said to have been written down at the beginning of the Kali yuga, and the Shastras say that the Vedic civilization flowered in India much longer time ago than the 50.000 years which modern science claim to be earliest possible time where Homo Sapiens firstly appeared on Earth (characterized by behavioral modernity; that is: behavior which can be characterized by abstract thinking, planning depth, symbolic behavior – e.g., art, ornamentation, music – exploitation of large game, and blade technology, among others). The Shastras (or Sastras) claim that the philosophers, Yogis and Rishis (Seers) lived for millions of years ago, and the Vedic Acharyas (Indian scholars) believe that the stories in the Puranic literature are factual stories, not only from this planet, but also from many planets in this Universe. Data taken from these planets have nothing to do with the data from this planet (as for example incredible life spans and the ability to fly without mechanical help). The Puranic literature describes a universe where the supernatural is trivial and miraculous births are everyday phenomena.
It is tempting to add that with the Western plastic shamanism, generated by Michael Harner, and his “core shamanism” this decadence has increased enormously (see my booklet, Plastic Shamanism and the Traditional Shamanic Awakening).
The collective ego-inflation of our time (the Faust syndrome) is based on extreme self-obsessed thinking. Once your thoughts spread themselves too far out in an extreme (for example exaggerated perfectionistic) the energy-system will compensate by seeking to bring itself back to the balance of the middle. The system does this by seeking over towards the opposite extreme (for example an exaggerated feeling of fiasco). That is: through a contra-balancing, a compensation. Here we speak from the second energy-law, that energy works as pendulum-movements. The more energy, which is invested in the one extreme of a pair of opposites, the larger the swing in the opposite direction will be.
What apply for the individual, also apply for the collective and for nature. You can therefore also observe this energy-law in groups, societies, world-images, yes, in all Mankind, and in the Universe. You can observe it in everything, which is movement and not unmoved being.
For example, right now Mankind is in an ego-extreme. This is reflected in numerous fields. Too much energy is invested in armament. Too many atomic weapons. Too much pollution. Too much unequal distribution of the treasures of the Earth. Too much unequal distribution of the food and fruits of the Earth. And first of all: too many people are too focused in their ego; they accumulate energy to their ego, to themselves; or to the family ego; to the national ego; or to ideologies. I have suggested that we right now are approaching what I call The Matrix Hybrid between Western surveillance capitalism and Chinese Communism (see my article, The Matrix Hybrid Between Digital Totalitarianism, Surveillance Capitalism and Chinese Communism).
This is the energy in one extremity. With necessity the energy will swing over in the opposite extreme. And this will not happen in a quiet way, when you consider the enormous moment, that is in the actual extreme, and it will happen quite simple: through pollution of the environment, through illness (aids, cancer and upcoming new illnesses), through crises, warfare, terror, through inner mass-psychotic collapses, and through natural disasters. Again, a lot of this is not my personal prophesy. We can witness it happening right now. Climate change is now a real issue. The problem is that we will not be able to stop it, because no one will be willing to be adjusted. It will therefore be adjusted in the hard way. The Earth will become more or less uninhabitable, and, perhaps, there will, as the Yuga teaching foresees, come a time period on about 432.000 years of hardship, where the ego-inflation will be cleansed out. Finally the common life span of a human being will be down on 20 years. First hereafter will humans be able to attain self-realization again. At least, this is what the Yuga teachings foresee.
A central part of Greco-Roman philosophy, which was rooted in shamanism, was the use of critical thinking (elenchos) to distinguish base magic (trance, which leaves everything to chance, and may lead its practitioners to consort with falsity and evil daemons), and higher magic or theurgy. The latter is a guarantor of truth and happiness, combined as it is with the source itself: the Good, the True and the Beautiful.
Besides the Hara and Heart meditation, it was critical thinking that rescued myself from madness. As a result I came to believe that Socrates represented an ancient path of wisdom, where philosophy in a similar way was used as a navigator through the Spiritual Twilight Zone.
As far as I can see, then the spiritual exercises developed in, for example Platonism and neo-Platonism, are refinements of those leading to cataleptic trances and other top-down generated paranormal experiences (psychic abilities, channeling, possession of gods or spirits, ecstasy, etc). They respond to a rigorous demand for rational discrimination, a demand which, as far as I´m concerned, emerges with the figure of Socrates. This was continued in Christian mysticism.
In this you can see precisely the same as what happened in, for example Tibetan Buddhism and Taoism: a refinement of shamanism into a path of enlightenment (Unio Mystica) – see my page, Meditation as an Art of Life.
I will finish this article with some reflections on the question of enlightenment. I have found it uplifting to hear Mary Shutan´s account of enlightenment. She describes it as the opening of the spiritual heart. Enlightenment is not happening without love and compassion. She also tells about the illusionary states of consciousness which can happen when the upper chakras are opened before the lower chakras. Many gurus confuse these states with enlightenment. She also tells about how much self-abnegation and compassion for others it requires to open the spiritual heart, about how humble and simple the state is, and, that it is not at all a state of perfection. It is precisely characterized by a realization of how imperfect you are. It is a realization of what you are, not what you want to become. However, this won´t help anything, because these statements will probably also be abused as an excuse for claiming oneself to be enlightened.
I simply claim that the era of enlightened masters is over, and that we are entering an era of false gurus and pseudo-spirituality. I also claim that all the original wisdom traditions will disappear, and that we in fact can watch how this is happening right now. New Age systematically works towards eliminating religion (together with atheist fundamentalism – see my texts on scientism, beginning with: Richard Dawkins and the Rise of Atheist Scientism (Scientism Critique: Part 1).
With religion I mean a religion with a tradition for a spiritual practice that through experience has been adjusted and corrected through hundreds of years. Thus Gnosticism and Mysticism arised in the early and medieval Christianity, Sufism in Islam, Hasidism and Kabbalah in Judaism, Advaita Vedanta in Hinduism, Zen and Dzogchen in Buddhism. In China you´ll find Taoism. But even older are Shamanism and Paganism; religious practices which I under one call the old religion and the old art.
In New Age the anti-religious work is happening though an exploitative form of spiritual colonialism and one step in; first: the destruction of Indigenous cultures (plastic shamanism is today systematically organized, for example through ayahuasca journeys), and secondly: the destruction of all the other wisdom traditions. The latter is spreading under the slogan: “these traditions can best be understood when integrated with Western psychology and psychotherapy” (= reduced to). The ignorance in this is that spiritual awakening is connected to ancestral and ancient layers, cords, eventually your own soul, and therefore only can be understood within their original context.
But of course, there will still arise true enlightened people. But my guess is, due to experiences like Mary Shutan´s, they will withdraw as spiritual teachers.
Finally, how can you discriminate between a true and false master? I have dealt with these problems in my articles, Playing the Enlightenment Card, and What Is Spiritual Placebo? I will try to give an answer based on study of the traditions.
In Playing the Enlightenment Card I claim that one of the most important things is to develop the use of critical thinking, and study both yourself and the guru. This was also what I mentioned above in connection with Socrates and the practice of Elenchos. The discrimination between base magic and higher magic. Furthermore: be aware of signs of ego-inflation (see my article: The Ego-inflation in the New Age and Self-help environment).
Instead of focusing on whether the guru is radiating love or not, ask yourself the more philosophical question: Is this person a highly developed ethical person? Always remember Dalai Lama´s words about that you´ll never attain enlightenment without developing an ethical mind and a compassionate heart. You can´t be ethical and unethical at the same time. It is a lie.
A quite central thing is to be openminded to fallibility (unfortunately this is also abused in New Age, which accuses any doubters and critics of being closedminded). But to be openminded to fallibility is to be open for that both yourself and the guru could be wrong or even false. The concept of enlightenment is often characterized by a religious idea that an enlightened person contains almost the same qualities as God himself. Remember Shutan´s words about that even if you have opened your spiritual heart, and experienced a glimpse of enlightenment, you are still an imperfect human being. Any true enlightened person is characterized by humility, and will acknowledge own failures. Here you ought to be aware of thought distortions such as Selective thinking and Confirmation bias. Therefore: be aware of self-contradictions and hypocrisy in the person. These precisely arise due to a lack of acknowledging own imperfection.
In this context a good advice would be to study all sources of critique of the guru you can find. There will always be some critique (since no one is perfect), but if the bad things are overshadowing the good things, and there are too many self-contradictions and too much hypocrisy, there is reason for consideration.
I often return to my first book, Meditation as an Art of Life – a Basic Reader, where I described what I call, The Four Philosophical Hindrances and Openings. You can also use them to recognize inauthentic and authentic teachers (see my article, The Four Philosophical Hindrances and Openings).
The Internet is the Ultimate Hunting Ground for Energy Vampires
A Critique of Coaching (instead of correcting fake self-images, the coaching industry supports people in their self-images. The Danish psychologist Nina Østerby Sæther has written about the similarities of the self-help advices, and the actual behavior of a psychopath).
A Critique of Self-help and Mythology of Authenticity
The Ego-inflation in the New Age and Self-help Environment
The Emotional Painbody and Why Psychotherapy Can´t Heal It (in the context of the above blog post it is important to realize the painbody´s roots in original sin)
The Value of Having a Religion in a Spiritual Practice (in this context: Christianity).
Playing the Enlightenment Card
Why I Don´t teach Tibetan Dream Yoga
The Tragic New Age Confusion of Eastern Enlightenment and Western Idealism
Evolutionism – The Red Thread in the Matrix Conspiracy (tells the story of Western ego-inflation).
The Dark League Behind the 2020 Presidential Candidacy of Marianne Williamson (tells the same story from another angle)
The Scientology Game – And the Matrix Player´s Handbook (with scientology as an example, I explain how New Age is a kind of role-playing game, where it is about acquiring higher and higher levels, no matter whether one has experienced such or not)
Lucifer Morningstar – a Philosophical Love Story (this book tells the story of the Faust-syndrome and spiritual vampirism in the light of popular culture).