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" A good traveller has no fixed plans,

and is not intent on arriving "

Lao Tzu

Taking a Stand – Finding Meaning & the Magician’s First Lesson

December 5th, 2017

I’ve started doing weekly chats on Facebook Live on the OBOD FB page at 8pm GMT  Mondays. Here’s a recording of this Monday’s chat and a summary of some of the ideas covered:

Let’s ask ourselves a juicy question! What is the single most important task for a magician – the first and most essential thing she or he should get sorted? I’d like to suggest it is quite simply finding the right perspective, and that this task is in fact essential not just for the magician, but for everyone.
What a disappointing answer! It seems so light-weight, so insubstantial. But spend some time with this, and I think you’ll start to see that it is far from light-weight. This idea is in fact the solid foundation on which all other magical, spiritual or personal development work is built.
Imagine you are training in a martial art. Your teacher is likely to start by spending a good deal of time making sure you adopt the right stance. And simply how you stand is the very beginning of training in Qi Gong, Tai Chi, and in the mind-body training system of Sophrology.
Likewise, how you stand in the psychological sense, your inner stance, is the starting point in much spiritual or magical training. How you stand vis a vis yourself and the world, is determined by your feelings and beliefs. If you believe that ‘Life’s a bitch and then you die’, this will create a defensive, pessimistic stance. If you believe ‘Life is a miracle, and then I’m reborn’ this will create an optimistic, joyful stance. We’ve all heard this, but science is now increasingly confirming that this isn’t just some wishy washy idea promoted by proponents of positive affirmation, but that it really can make the difference between life and death. The psychologist Viktor Frankl stumbled on the power of belief when he saw how the beliefs of fellow concentration camp prisoners often determined their survival, and more recently the American Psychological Association has published a study of 61,000 people tracked over 21 years that has produced the remarkable finding that those who believe they don’t exercise sufficiently die younger than those who hold the opposite belief, regardless of how much exercise they actually do. (Read more on this here)
Now you can see why I said establishing the right perspective is in itself the single most important task of a magician. Magic involves using the power of the mind, of the soul, to influence life, and in the two examples I’ve cited we see how real that power is, and how it can make the difference between life and death.
Viktor Frankl found that believing life is meaningful as opposed to meaningless was essential to a good life. The APA study found that your longevity is affected by your beliefs. So what beliefs do you adopt and how do you change how you feel about things? The feeling part is crucial – there’s no point in pretending you believe one thing, when in your heart you feel the opposite. While you might be able to take on board new ideas, it’s much harder to change your feelings. This is where a spiritual discipline, and indeed psychotherapy comes in.
So, for example, these are the sorts of things Druids believe – that life is sacred, that we should cherish and reverence Nature, that Nature teaches us about the cyclicity of life, about the law of the harvest, that some call karma, that what seems to die is often reborn, and so on. And then if you follow a training, such as OBOD’s, it starts to work on transforming your feelings as well as your thoughts – there’s a journey of personal discovery and transformation.
This journey is part personal – about sorting yourself out, freeing you of fears and illusions – but it also not just about you – it’s about us, about everything, about how you can be of use in the world.
I’ve found a great illustrated summary of Frankl’s theory here, and below it I’ll paste in a film of Frankl himself. Notice how he stresses ‘taking a stand’:

9 Responses to “Taking a Stand – Finding Meaning & the Magician’s First Lesson”

  1. This gives me so much to think about, and probably some mental mind adjusting! Thank you Philip for challenging my thoughts continually, this is growth at its best!

  2. Hi Phillip. This reminds me of a quote by John O’Donohue, “How you see determines what you see.” I have found this to be a universal spiritual truth. 🙂

  3. Thank you! Victor Frankl is indeed a legend!

    Spiritual birth can only be the result of consciousness. Our internal development therefore does not only depend on our life experience; it depends much more on our ability to divert our attention from the outside world to our internal world. Are we able to turn away from the patterns of Mind, programmed by our Egos, and is there a deep desire to know the true answer to the question ”Who am I?”
    From the book: Frank M. Wanderer: The Chant of the Heart: Enjoy the Nectar of Being

  4. “Establishing the right perspective is in itself the single most important task of a magician.” I believe this is the main point to us as humans and parts of Nature, just as it is to our magical self. Thank you so much for this! It is always refreshing to listen to your weekly chat. All the best!

  5. Thank you Phillip, I am looking forward to your Monday tea parties…great image by the way… I had forgotten what lovely eyes you have…. an interesting topic, definitely not light-weight.

    Sorting thru and understanding Ones’ reactions to the physical, energetic and of-spirit environments require more than just intellect, I feel. An understanding that all beings are influenced by these three environs formed the core teachings of ancient and some existing tribal societies. Perhaps this understanding allowed them to approach life from both a Idealist and Materialist view –perhaps acknowledging that One has a body in each of these 3 environs.

  6. Thanks Philip. That has just helped me with a problem I’m facing, where I was in a dilemma. Reminded me that one of my teachers said: aim for the highest outcome and let the rest deal with itself. The right perspective.

  7. So appreciate your skillful, informative, accessible writing style and your warm presence. I learned and was reminded of so much here.

  8. The aspect of right view or right perspective is in the Buddhas eightfold path, which came to include right relation to ones action (karma) and its consequences (reincarnation). Living with knowledge of both ones actions and their outcomes is an interesting one when we look at the idea of cognitive dissonance, the gap between how one is and how ones asides to be. In a social media age this is often how we are, and what we seek to project. The gap between who we are and what we strive to be is often a disconnect from right perspective as peoples belief in what they would like to be becomes a source for anxiety. Presence and comfort in the truth of ones present self is often a prerequisite for ‘beliefs’ and ‘creating ones reality’ because compassionate relation to yourself is really the foundation of healthy beliefs based on the best in us, and others rather than an unrealistic picture we strive for but fail to meet.
    Yes we create our reality, but sometimes our desired reality is the very thing that brings us pessimism because we are not present first. The first act of right perspective is self love and a sense of self sufficiency. From this love grows the love, and optimism about all existences. We live in an age where people talk about self care, as if it is a separate thing from life and work, but that need for self care time speaks to the fact that we often don’t care for ourselves. An interesting blog. Many thanks

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