I've spent much of my life stooped in religion, mythology, esoterica, an obsession of mine to unravel the mystery's of the universe. Particularly in the last few years, I've somewhat studied ancient Indian Goddess Cults (Tantra), Pre-Creed of Nicea Christianity (Gnosticism), Hermetic Qabalah, as well as Ancient Alien materials including Sitchen's work and other materials about Sumer, etc. Though I was looking for the esoteric wisdom to push me further in my spiritual path, the historical context of such material unraveled a separation between mystical thought and religion.
All mystical schools, be it Tantrik, Qabalist, Hermetic, Taoist, Gnostic, Sufi, Troubador, etc., stress the importance of Self-Realization. Self-Realization is the unraveling of the ego-identity tangible universe, to recognize the essence, the atma, that resides within and permeates all that we perceive. It is to move beyond creation, to the absolute limitless light from which all that we perceive is a tangible transient dream. This is the practice of recognizing the truth within, where heaven resides as Jesus taught.
Religion on the other end, stresses the importance of the tangible transient dream, and the need to perpetuate such existence. As Brahma the creator is not worshiped, as he is the biggest Ego of creation who sought to be superior, similarly the Gnostic Christians did not worship Yadlbaoth, the creator God, who similarly sought to be superior. It is from these creator gods, these Prajapatis, that we have tradition, culture, the need to perpetuate a doctrinal way of life, where mystical schools have sought to dissolve such mental constructs and programming. Hence, the reason why Jesus conflicted with the Pharisees/Sadducees, who did things by the books written by the ancestors, and not by the essence found within.
In studying Tantra and the history of India, a different story unraveled than one which would be described by the fanatical religious. Akin to studying U.S. history from the eyes of the Indigenous, African-Americans, or Mexican communities, there is much to learn in studying Brahmanic India from the eyes of tribal/cult groups, many of which have become synthesized with or completely enveloped by Brahmanic standing.
In looking at the Indus-Valley and its lack of archaeological Hindu artifacts, sans what the religious describe, the Indus may be described as the first "secular" society (cited to the Brahmanic despised Wendy Doniger). The Indus-Valley has a water ditch which Brahmins have categorized as for ritualized bathing. Though such can easily be for water storage in an agricultural society. There are also numerous Shiva-Lingams allegedly found, or they could be mortar & pestals for, again, an agricultural society. Lastly, there is also a picture of a horned male, seated in what Brahmins deem a "yoga asana". However, one thing that I have noted from most religious depictions of this image, is that the undecipherable script is often not discussed or the size of the artifact, which is a mere 1"x1" stamp. Hence, the Brahmins could be correct, or there could be an alternative reason, but to decide now appears to be jumping the gun.
Further, despite what Brahmins have stated about their religious language Sanskrit influencing Indian languages, though Sanskrit has numerous similarities with European languages and maybe even Semetic, such is not so with Dravidian languages and the undecipherable Indus script. Such gives credence to the Aryan invasion theory, where the Brahmin tradition most likely invaded a country with a foreign people (Dashas?), with a foreign religion, and a foreign language. Though, the Hindu tradition today may really be a synthesis of numerous traditions, including Zoroastrian/Greek/Roman/Egyptian/Semetic/East African from the Hellenic period, a period significantly older than the earliest version of the Mahabharata/Ramayana (both conflicting Hindu and Jain versions), it appears most Hindus would not like to acknowledge such information and stories as having an outsider influence.
An interesting tidbit that the controversial translator Zecharia Setchin and the channeler Barbara Marciniak have discussed, is that the Sumerian Goddess Inanna was given the domain of the Harrapan Civilization. If such is true, ancient Indian religious traditions would be tied significantly to ancient Sumer. Further, archaeological artifacts thus far have shown Sumer to be contemporary with Indus, where Indus stamps have been found in Sumer as such societies traded with each other. Therefore, there could be much more influence on Hinduism from ancient Sumer than anyone has given credit, which has been thus far left unacknowledged.
The Indus Valley is the oldest civilization discovered in India, where Inanna would be one of the oldest traditions and influences in India. As she is associated with sex, mystery schools understand the correlation of sexual energy and knowing, or "gnosis", where kundalini is awakened. Hence, she would be the tantrik root of India. Also associated as a warrior Goddess, she would fit right into the Hindu pantheon, especially with comparable Durga. It is also interesting to note that historically, India has always been tied to the Goddess tradition, despite patriarchal Brahmanic traditions. The cult of yoginis which has been sought to be subdued is one such remnant, where such cults have been akin to salem witch hunts. Inanna is said to be the Queen of Heaven and Earth, who traversed into the underworld, who among her family, became an immortal, and hence, a Goddess. Just as the main yogini, Sati-Parvati, fell into the wheel of samsara and needed to find the Self-Luminous light, Prakasa, through yoga (union) to become the Goddess, Shakti. Though the stories may be different, the symbols/archetypes, seem to be common. Especially if Inanna is in competition with her patriarchal relative, Marduk.
In reference to the symbolism of the Indus Valley, it is noted that not just the male was given horns, but every animal in depiction including horses. All such animals were males. The only female depictions emphasized fertility as shapely figures, another aspect of Inanna. Hence, with horned males and pregnant females, these images may emphasize a fertility cult, a common ancient theme. Therefore, I'm finding Inanna's presence in ancient India more and more believable.
The Abrahamic Traditions trace their roots to ancient Judaism. But from studying Gnostic Christianity, as well as the history of the Middle East to get the proper historical context and foundations, Judaism may simply be a derivative of the Canaanite religion, where the ancient Jews adopted not only one of the many competing Canaanite deities (probably El later becoming YHVH, or IAO), but even the Hebrew alphabet may be adopted from the Canaanites as described by Professor Jodi Magness (The Holy Land Revealed). And where did the Canaanites get their religion from? Ancient Sumer.
Just as India may not give acknowledgment to Sumer, the Abrahamic traditions similarly follows suite. Though that could be simply due to the historical context only being recently disclosed with translations of the Sumerian tablets. Nonetheless, it is interesting enough to know that these traditions may hold some root to ancient Sumer, and quite possibly, the religious confliction we've seen on this planet.
In taking a look at the Sumerian religion, it seems to be a royal family (bloodline), attempting to fight over territory on Earth. As children of the father god, Anu, Enlil is more practical and wants to wipe the project of creation clean, where his brother Enki, is fond of creation and saves Gilgamesh from the great deluge. The family of Anu needs gold to support their planetary atmosphere, engineered mankind to be miners who worship their creators leading to blind servitude, but overall, is completely at loggerhead with each other fighting over dominion. As many know these beings to be the biblical Elohim, they brought much to humanity as evidenced by the superiority of the Sumerian civilization, which included an astronomy that surpasses modernity and has influenced every current tradition to this date, though probably not through a direct chain of command. These may well have been the pyramid builders, who share commonality all throughout the planet, over many different civilizations, including South America. Yet, as a dysfunctional family, they also brought their problems.
Given the strong influence ancient Sumer has imposed throughout our traditions, cultures, knowledge, and the potential link of all of our religions to this family, it makes one wonder if this is the reason for our territorial/resource wars and obsession with gold, should such family have a continuing influence. In studying all of these topics, I many not fully-believe such material yet, but I do feel like humanity has been deluded from our historical past. It seems we think we have it figured out, when really, we don't have a damn clue, as I continue going down this rabbit hole.
What's important to me is not the religious, political, cultural programming that we all have seemed to have bought into, where contradictory information is fought over, suppressed, etc., but the realization of the truth no matter how much it hurts and conflicts with our beliefs. But can we handle this truth? We can barely handle the truth of our politicians, but what of our religious figures, beliefs, and customs? Sadly, we may simply have to wait for the return of Nibiru for the great revelation of our history, of humanity, of our truth. Could this be why the Jesuits, our Pope, have been looking at the skies with observatories for so long? The truth is definitely out there, and it's not what we as the masses have been propagandically fed. Again, the question is, are we ready?
For me, the spiritual path was a confusion of what should be the end game. Like most, we tend to glorify individuals who have accomplished certain esoteric abilities, whether it be the ability to heal, to perceive beyond the norm, or conduct actions beyond our modern scientific understanding.
Those who have acquired certain abilities typically end up with followers, not a bad thing at first, but which may lead to guru worship. We all need gurus, be it our fellow humans, life itself, or that level of perception within beyond identification, we need to remove the obstacles of our ignorance in order to perceive on a wider scale. However, I don't think we need any more golden calves, especially in the age of information. As Nisargadatta Maharaj stated, "Do not look for a guru; do not even think of one. Make your goal your guru. After all, the guru is but a means to an end, not the end itself". In addition, Abhinavagupta in his Sri Tantraloka sets a rather high standard for a guru, where the guru in essence, should be none other than Shiva himself. Shiva does not create or manage creation/matter, he destroys and transcends it. Should one fail to find such a guru, turn to Adi Shakti herself, the feminine aspect of Shiva.
Abhinavagupta further discusses two modes that can be requested for an adept, though does not go into detail, nor is one considered superior to the other. The first category would be that of attaining boons, or Siddhas, many of which mimic the goals of other mystical practices relating to magick. The second is enlightenment, and given the correlation between Advaita and Saiva, enlightenment would be Self-Realization, where the individual ego (jiva), identifies with the cosmic ego (jagat), which then can collapse in itself into the formless bliss of Brahman or the Tao.
This is what separates Enlightenment from Siddhis/Magick, where such boons or abilities, are further illusions within the grand illusion, lila. Moreover, such abilities can not only attach one further into the illusion where it may just be too much fun in conducting such magick, but it would further attach other individuals who become attached to the adept. We've all seen it, we have a programmed tendency, often labelled as "natural", to worship and glorify something, be it our spiritual elders, our leaders, or our celebrities.
Unlike Enlightenment, Siddhis/Magick can similarly push you and others in the path to Self, but the potential for further delusion seems to be substantial. I'm assuming this is why Abhinavagutpa stated to use Adi Shakti who is Ma Kali, the destroyer of ego, the dissolution of all form, as a guide, where such abilities do not become a distraction. Further, occult initiates, including Aleister Crowley all stressed communion with Self labelled the Holy Guardian Angel.
Though the two paths can be different in a sense where the attainable goals are different, where the one Self Realized may not care so much for the realm of illusion other than helping other release their delusions, both paths are an expansion of consciousness. Expanse of consciousness is essentially seeing the illusion in new perspectives that offer a wider glimpse. Though siddhas/magick seem to be graduated steps into widening such perspectives of what is possible within the illusion, Self is as wide as the perspective can get where the illusion is finally dissolved.
The problem for the adept is that, you would have to want Self more than the glittery Siddhi/Magick of illusion. These perspectives often labelled as "blessings" or "gifts" can be extremely inhibiting from reaching to dissolve the "blessings" and "gifts" for Self.
Though many gurus are worshiped, or will give you something to worship, all of such are simply aspects of the Greek Psyche, or the Jungian archetypes of the mind. It seems that the true Enlightened guru will always have you looking within, to discover your own true Self.
When you are learning about the nature of the psyche, an even greater aura of the unknown exists. The unknown portions of the psyche and its greater horizons, therefore, have often been perceived as gods or as the greater psyches out of which the (little) self emerged."
The concept of transcendence is a popular one, particularly if you've dabbled in Eastern philosophies. Though one aspect of most religions is to propagate a creator, flourish creation, the idea of transcendence is to move beyond all of that above the realm of matter. Hence, transcendence is typically associated with Shiva, the lord of destruction, or his yoginis/dakinis, the fierce destructive feminine often frowned upon by those who worship the creator.
1. Religion and Much of Spirituality is NOT Transcendence
Much of what we tout as "spirituality" or "religious", does not fall under the realm of transcendence. Again, most religions worship a creator, or manager of creation who leads us from the dualistic concept of unrighteousness to righteousness. Let's take religion for an example, where much of our scriptures both Biblical and Puranic or more political/historical based as opposed to understanding the realm of spirit.
The Biblical Old Testament, from my research, is merely expounding the Jewish politics of the "Holy Land", where much of the testament of these ancient Hebrews seem to be an attempt to show the political landscape of the Canaanites. In addition, much more is disclosed by the Akkadian, Sumerian, etc., script, that leave one questioning who this jealous Old Testament deity may have actually been. The same applies for the majority of Indo-Aryan Vedic-Puranic script, where these Aryan deities look a lot like Greco-Egyptian beings, much like the infusion that was brought under the Hellenic period. To tie into the "Holy Land", the controversial work of Zecharia Setchin holds that it was Sumerian Goddess Inanna held domain over the Indus Valley.
The Goddess Inanna holds numerous symbolism that may have some connection to other stories. Just as Inanna went into the underworld and had to raise herself up into the heavens again, so did Sati/Parvati in Hinduism have to use yoga to remember herself while she was lost in samsara (Spirit wandering in Matter). Moreover, just as Mary Magdalene was healed of her "seven demons" by Jesus, Inanna had to go through "seven" gates of hell. Lastly, the whole going into the underworld, and being raised from such "death" is akin to our seasons of winter and springtime where another name for Inanna is Ishtar, which some have claimed is the root of "Easter". Constantine was a well known devout pagan, and my research is showing more and more, that just as how the ancient Hebrews synthesized all other Canaanite deities into the Canaanite deity Yahweh, Constantine may have well synthesized the numerous Roman-Greco-Egyptian (Dionysus, Mithraic, etc.) cults into one deity, Jesus. Modern Christians say that such pagan influence was done mainly to convert the pagans, where it is well known that Jesus was not born anytime near Christmas (Mithraic Concept). An odd understanding, especially since the Roman Church is controlling what would otherwise be a natural cycle under the seasons and astrological patterns via the unnatural Gregorian Calendar. The Roman Church was capable of more than just blending with pagan myths, where one has to consider the Church's intent, especially since much of the Roman Church teachings drastically contradict the much earlier Gnostic Christian teachings.
Further, much of what is deemed "spirituality" also still falls under the material arena. Like religion which sought to control history, control government via tradition and culture, which is really supporting the realm of material creation, much of spirituality is quite similar. Mindfulness teachings, unlike Advaita, teach one to be present to the moment, to what is being observed. Such mindfulness makes one mindful of the material realm. Sure, such teachings have purpose, but it may only be slight transcendence where one is still focused on matter.
Moreover, we have these "mind, body, soul" teachings. However, the body is part of the material realm, and mind-thoughts are typically associated with the body being the receiver, interpreted by the receiver, and are therefore based on form or the material world. Hence, the mind and body are part of the material realm. Further, unlike religion, mystics separate Spirit from Soul, where soul is simply the aspect of one that moves from one body identity to the next via reincarnation, where Spirit is beyond creation. Soul would be the glue between Spirit and Matter, where most souls only look towards matter. While the soul maybe the watcher of the body and maybe external events, Spirit may be the watcher of the watcher of the body, or beyond where there is no form/tangible to watch. So these spiritual "mind, body, soul" teachings do not fit the venue of transcendence.
2. Transcendence is Dissolving the Jars We've Placed Ourselves In
In Hinduism, unlike the Vedas or Puranas that propagate a being to be appeased or worshiped, the mystics crafted the more subtle Upanisads, which was historically met with disdain as with every mystical tradition. There is the understanding of an Atma, or little spirit, and Brahman, which implies the ultimate truth. Such concepts are described with the metaphor of Atma being like the air inside of a jar, and Brahman being the air outside of a jar. These simple truth is again described in the Saiva mystical tradition as a meditative practice in the Vijnananbhairava. Here, to truly know thy self becomes key, to know the air within sans the jar, where all of our yogic-meditative practices is to dissolve the jar.
Again, our religions and spiritual concepts are full of ideas that simply add to the jar. We worship the one that created the jar as opposed to the essence behind it, we worship and place on pedestals those that have the nicest jar based on religious-moral-cultural standards, we fight over jars that are associated with different identities, we create and honor a lineage for the jar, some even worship and honor the elements that compose the jar, all the while the air remains unlimited and free from all such labels, humanity has tried its hardest to make the air form itself into a jar.
Many masters have come and pointed the way, but as Osho would say, many would rather cling to the pointing finger and even suck on it. Here, the jar becomes the finger, where many would rather worship the finger as opposed to truly understand the concept of, "the Kingdom of Heaven (God) is Within You". (Luke 17:21). In addition, the master himself states, "Do not let heaven's kingdom become a desert within you...I tell you the truth, whoever will receive life and believe in the kingdom will never leave it, not even if the Father wants to banish him". The Secret Book of James.
Going back to transcendence and the use of tantrik deities that are typically fierce and opponents to creation (matter), and the use of meditation to disassociate from all material and tangible so that one is no longer lost in the illusory world of form, all of these transcendental practices as taught by the Tantriks, Gnostics, Hermetics, Alchemists, Sufi's, etc., in violent contradiction with orthodox beliefs (Brahmanic- Hindu, Orthodox Christian, non-Akhenaten Egyptian, Modern Science, Islam; all designed to either worship or study the jar), are done in order to dissolve the jar. We are not the religious stories and cultural heritage; we are not the mind, body, soul; we are not the world of form and the elements that compose it. We are so much more, and yet, so much less.
To dissolve the decorated jar that we are so deeply attached for the air, is the meaning of transcendence.
To transcend is to move beyond matter and form to Know Thy Self, the True Self.
To know the True Self, the air, is to Realize who you have always been.
The air inside the jar is the same as the air outside of the jar.
Don't take my word for it. After all, who am I to say that I know anything.
When in fact, I know nothing.
No-thing. Not this, nor this. Neti Neti.
In an intentional approach to the mystical life, therefore, it is first necessary to rid our minds of all prepossessions and predispositions, of the opinions we have formed, the conclusions we have formed, the conclusions we have arrived at arbitrarily, and especially by way of hearsay. We must mentally disrobe, remove the cloak of custom which we unconsciously had wrapped about ourselves more firmly each year. We must free our minds of all such encumbrances and be prepared to accept only those things which, as the famous philosopher Descartes said, arouse within us an intuitive acceptance of them, feeling that they are true and constitute real knowledge.
Overly educated and continuously exploring and revealing more behind the veil.
"It cannot be too highly emphasized that the mystic swims in the same waters in which the psychotic drowns."
-James Wasserman, The Mystery Traditions