Dead Horse

Image taken from Google Image search

Image taken from Google Image search

Partially because of my own boredom and partially because kicking dead horses is just plain rude, this will likely be just about the last post I make for a while when it comes to sorting out religion from superstition… at least until the next time I employ fire magick and begin questioning things anew.

So… last night, as part of my intentional avoidance of all school responsibilities, I found myself driving around town with my best, visiting our favorite bookstore: Half Price Books. They’re currently having a store-wide 20% off sale, and while I have no business buying more books, I simply can’t resist. I might also note, if I can do so without sounding proud, that my relationship to my best is often in a “teacher” capacity. Of course, for all teachers, the ultimate goal is that the students should themselves become teachers and last night while driving around my best definitely was a teacher. It all began when I asked him to differentiate between religion and superstition. A few times we talked in circles. A few times no sense was to be made. But in the end, using the idea of a fire and the fuel going into it, we almost sufficiently (for me) sorted out the difference between the two.

Interestingly, a big part of the fire equation hinged on hope, devotion, or bhakti. We determined that bhakti would act as the wood, the fuel. It’s essentially the foundation – without hope or devotion behind any action, that action is ultimately a dead thing. The animating force, the starting place, is hope or devotion. Without SOMETHING to ignite, there can be no fire. In that context, I find it interesting that many of the devotional poets from many different cultures have written about their devotion burning, or burning up. Fuel indeed! The fire itself, then, would be the ritual, religion, or superstition – respectively. This means the action itself. “The fire that kindles,” as my best put it. I find this in itself to be poetic. If you sit around a fire, everyone knows something is being burned to make that fire, but the fire itself is where the attention is ultimately afforded. It’s the big, showy exterior of the chemical change happening right then and there. Religion is definitely the fire. The big showy exterior that results when we set fire (action) to our hope.

Ultimately there’s a very very fine line between religion and superstition where ritual is concerned, and through chatting with another dear pal it was kind of determined that religion is superstition + validity. To go back to my best and his wisdom from last night, a big part of the validity is cultural influence, although let me be quick to say that cultural influence isn’t automatically where this so-called validity begins or ends – but it is definitely a significant factor.

So, we go back into human history. In the case of Hinduism, we can easily go back into prehistory – in fact, some of our scriptures mention a time when it was almost too cold for humanity to survive on our planet, aka the last ice age. But I digress. If you go back far enough you will no doubt encounter “religion” which today would amount to little more than superstition. People responsible for these kinds of studies will confirm as much. Our ancestors noticed that when they danced in a circle under very specific stellar arrangements, the rains necessary for good crops invariably came, which in turn ensured the survival of the community. Suddenly, puja and jyotish are born! Add about 7,000 years to that, and add humanity’s increased development in the areas of language and science, and you end up with “official” Sanatana Dharma. Through the eons, throughout the planet we inhabit, as we gained increasing dominance over nature we sought the rhyme and reason behind that dominance. As we gained that knowledge we codified and systemized it, and rightly marveled thereupon.

Why marvel? Because it’s marvelous. Duh. We’re talking about dark-n-wondrous, truly ancient stuff. This same stuff has made all the difference to us as a species. It’s THE evidence that proves our humanity – humanity being an interesting mix of the physical and nonphysical, mostly differentiated from other similar mixes according to our consciousness and awareness. We are the proof that’s in the pudding I mentioned in the last post, and our religions and superstitions are how we document our proof-ness.

Add another 4,000 years, a laptop, and a gay white Hindu in Indianapolis, and you find yourself with the current picture of yours truly and I’m telling you, finally, that it doesn’t really matter. Not really. I mean, if you want effectiveness and about all the pudding you can handle in your life (as I feel I’ve been blessed with), then you surely want to look into human knowledge that has a strong foundation. A system of thought and belief that touches the clouds, but doesn’t have its head there. Look for so-called superstition that has well-documented science behind it. There’s nothing wrong with carrying around a horse shoe, if your intention is pure and focused – indeed, if your intention is pure and focused and carrying a horse shoe seems to bring about the desired effect, then trust that your “fuel and fire” may well constitute real religion.

I’ll close by once again referencing my recent post about superstition and religion. Religiosity is a small part of my life really. Too often people see religion as the end AND the means to that end. That’s a trap. Another trap is to be found in thinking that your religion is inherently better than someone’s superstition, as both involve the same fires and woods. There might be evidence of it, but I’m not sure you’re allowed to actually think yours is better. Not really. Some would find supplication to an elephant-faced stone statue to be ridiculously superstitious. I don’t. Every single time, without fail – and I mean that as literally as I am able – that I have petitioned my conception of God for what I need, and often what I want, it has been given. From where I stand, my personal superstitions are effective in every regard. And this is where they factually transcend being mere superstitions. I’m speaking about the wood and the fire that lead me to, and provide me with, Light that enables me to see and Warmth that enables me to experience – this is Jnana. They equate my religious experience and facilitate my spirituality.

– Jay Shri Ganesha! –

Om Mahaganeshaya Namaha
Om Shanti



Taken from Google Image search

Taken from Google Image search

Some time ago… in fact just two weeks shy of 10 months ago I spoke with a friend and also with a client about superstition. To speak of, I’m not superstitious. But sometimes I do wonder if I’m not fibbing to myself. You see, I live almost entirely un-superstitiously for 99% of the time. But when I really want something, and even more so when I really need something, I pull out the ritual like a madman. And then, of course, regardless of what happens afterward, I wonder for some time as to whether my ritual had anything at all to do with what did/didn’t happen. (Of course, ritual is simply planned action, and all of everything experienced is the result of SOME kind of prior action. Whether or not we can discern the connection is a different story.) When I consulted a client about this, her opinion was that it wouldn’t matter if it was actually effective or merely superstition, because it provided a structure for your faith, hopefully for your betterment as a person. I’ll tell you a story to help illustrate this.

A year or so ago, I briefly stepped away from most social engagements and distractions and immersed myself in sadhana in a way like I’m not sure I had ever before. Propitiation with a big “P” is an understatement. It was intense. Pujas. Long long jaapa sessions, fasting, dhyan… I may or may not have ejaculated into a fire while intoning 4,500 year old Babylonian chants, it’s hard to say. But I really pulled out all stops. And it worked. The desired result was achieved AND it turned out to be even better than I thought it would be or hoped for. It’s gotta be the Babylonian spells.

At any rate, I did this again a few weeks ago. An opportunity presented. A shift on various levels. Shiva’s Tandava that I REALLY wanted for my life, and indirectly for the life of my best.

My beloved and I work for almost the same company, but really the same company. My company (before I came to it) bought his a while back. He recently moved into a different position, which is something he’d very much hoped for. In the position he’s leaving he was making a very nice income, plus decent bonus, and among other “perks” could work from home (this is a mixed blessing because on one hand you can work nekkid, but on the other hand there’s no such thing as a snow day, which the company is generally fond of). When he applied for and was given the position he’s about to move into, I applied for his current position. Of course, getting his position would mean an increase in pay for me, as well as an increase in my current bonus percentage.

But almost immediately after applying for the transfer, things seemed absolutely stacked against me. They didn’t seem very inclined toward an internal candidate. They wanted someone with far more technical experience than I bring – in fact, they were actually looking for an over-qualified candidate. And about 90,000 people seemed to be interviewing. These and other factors made the whole thing feel rather insurmountable. More than once I would lament to my beloved via the office IM about how hopeless I felt.

Naturally, as mentioned before, I buckled down and did my pujas, my japaa, my dhyan, and my sex spells (just kidding). This time, I even employed the Christian prayers of one dear friend and requested a Hindu on wheels to keep his eyes religiously crossed for me for no less than two weeks.

And once again, the obstacles were obliterated – and then some! I not only beat out all the other internal candidates, but also all external candidates except one (only because they were technically hiring two people). My first interview was dry, to say the least, but the second interview – which was where I would have been skewered – was a blast. As if simply getting the offer wouldn’t be enough to make me smile, the raise I received was far more than anticipated and even more than my beloved got when he was awarded this position and his new position.

As an interesting aside, a number of months ago I applied for a somewhat similar position elsewhere in the company, and the interview was about as close to an actual train wreck as I’ve ever known. For the purpose of this post, I should mention that I refused all “extra” ritual in the weeks leading up to that interview.

Also a number of months ago, my best confessed to me, “you have better karma than most people I know.” Knowing that karma is action, and that ritual is also action, and taking into consideration that nothing “just happens” and that everything is the result of some prior action (as per modern physics), does that mean superstition doesn’t actually exist? Or does our ascribing results to certain, possibly-unrelated actions, constitute superstition simply because we can’t technically trace the cause of something? Is it ok to marvel at stuff like this and possibly risk being sucked into a mental construct of what we must or mustn’t do to get or avoid certain life events? (Not unlike avoiding certain gods because we’re fearful of what Their presence in our life might mean) Or should we take a more atheistic view and only assign effects to discernible causes, negating most – if not all – wonder? I think I know the answers for myself. What are the answers for yourself?

If this is basically all just superstition, I should admit that by this point I’m increasingly inclined toward so-called superstition, at least the one(s) I’ve chosen. If the proof is in the pudding, I’m almost convinced I’m surrounded by bowls of it. And who in my shoes wouldn’t be? If Babylonian chants and fiery sex magic do the trick, then trick the damned thing out! No?

Om Mahaganeshaya Namaha
Om Shanti


What should the view of a person be, if he’s not particularly superstitious, and is in fact usually quite logical, but has a tendency for noticing “coincidences” in virtually all areas of life? Does this mean he’s actually superstitious, but in denial about having this primitive characteristic?

I know many religions and many cultures have traditions that amount to little more than superstition- most developing over centuries, as byproducts the cultures they grew from. For instance, I’ve read that during eclipses, expectant mothers in India avoid going outside at all and certain children are “buried” in sands. Truth be told, there’s no earthly reason for suchery. No scientific knowledge is even needed to discern this…simple common sense suffices. If burying folks in sand actually ever healed anyone, hospitals would be less crowded. No? I mean… I don’t know. Maybe I’m missing something here.

And what of the discernible, and truly incredible numerical/mathematical sequences found everywhere in the natural world? Many see these things as naturally occurring, and something necessary and ironed out through a bajillion years of evolution, while others see these things as “proofs” that there exists a Higher Intelligence. A show I watched recently highlighted numerous incredible patterns within the natural world, some so striking it’s tough to think of them as unintentional. Still, the show insisted that chaos is at least as prevalent as order.

Someone told me today that so-called superstitious activities have immense value, regardless of their efficacy- or lack thereof -if they lead to deeper resolve. And because of that, it doesn’t matter if your actions are truly efficacious or mere superstition. She’s a devout, yet worldly Catholic. (Aren’t they all? I kid!) She tells me people who use religion as a crutch are essentially superstitionists, flavored by their immediate faith. According to this woman, real faith involves a letting go. She determined that it doesn’t matter if what you are doing is superstition, so long as it deepens your faith. Religions have practices that might well be labeled as superstitious, but the difference is that religions (mostly) aren’t abandoned when goals aren’t realized, and apparently superstitions are. She cited her own husband, who once wore the same yellow t-shirt to each Pacers game. At the time they were on a winning streak and he knew it would break were he to wear another shirt. The minute they lost, despite his best fashion attempt, he abandoned his ritual.

To kind of tie back to the show I mentioned earlier, since as far back as I’m able to remember I’ve been interested in nature and in studying any natural/living science. When I was very young, I would spend hours and hours outside climbing trees or running in fields or playing in creeks and rivers. I never ever tired of being in those places where there was literally nowhere I could turn and not find something moving or squirming, flowing or growing. And, from the start, I have always been inclined to see that there is Something behind the scenes. One of my earliest memories of god is a memory of a snowfall. I was in my parents’ home, looking out a window at snow falling on our expansive front yard. I noticed the flakes, some large and some small. I noticed the direction of their fall would shift at times. I noticed the invisible wind causing the flakes to swirl and fly. I saw these flakes accumulate on our driveway and drift from one place to another before gaining enough volume to stick somewhere and accumulate further. And I could feel, as I lingered near that window, the cold outside temperature penetrating through the glass and touching my face like some kind of fingerless ghost hand. And I recall, as I took in that winter experience, that I was knowing god. The snowflakes weren’t god. Neither was the wind. But somehow the whole sh’bang was. I actually talked to It right then. I was addressing the flakes, or the wind, or the drifts, or the grass slowly becoming buried… I addressed All of It.

Is that the same as, or bordering on, being superstitious? I know I wasn’t doing something odd for the benefit of its hope-for effects, like wearing the same shirt to ball games, but certainly some would say I reading more into the weather than is reasonable. I saw a natural process, identified with it in some way, thereby personifying it, and suddenly I knew god. Or not?

Allow me to toss out just one more instance for your consideration.

In the last couple weeks, I interviewed for, and was offered, new employment. In the weeks prior to my interview, and certainly between the interview and receiving the offer, I stepped up my sadhana like you wouldn’t believe. I basically followed a schedule based on the sandhyas. At each sandhya I performed one type of sadhana or another, with the most extensive being at the close of each day. (I’m happy to share the formula of this sadhana with anyone interested) (I don’t have a ton of time in the mornings, and lunches at the job I’m leaving are only 31 minutes long, so, while I performed my sadhana at each sandhya as best as I was able, necessity mandated that the final sandhya allowed for the longest-sustained effort.) Finally, after the longest 9 days of my life, I received the call and accepted the offer I had so badly hoped for.

Naturally, this has led me to questioning all of this. I left the interview knowing it had gone well, and wouldn’t have gotten the interview in the first place had my résumé not been well-constructed. Lots of folks would stop there and say that those things are all that came into play here. There are also lots of others who would insist that even a lame resume and poor interview can result in employment offer, if one has faith. I should admit that I’m a bit less in this crowd. But since sadhana was a part of this process (or at least I believe so, or I wouldn’t have dived into it as I did), how am I to know to what extent I benefitted from those efforts?

My religion is one founded in experience. This experience, superficially, would seem to support my shraddha/dharma. Fine. Dandy, even… Except that I can’t currently quantify/qualify what’s happened here in terms of my faith. Can I?