The lord of consciousness and the destroyers of consciousness

I watched a video from Thomas LeRoy, who you may recognize as the founder of a Left Hand Path organization known as the Sect of the Horned God, and in the video he talked about how he felt the Hindu deity Shiva was the best representation of the Left Hand Path in general. He feels that Shiva represents the consciousness of the individual (which he equates to the concept of Atman), in contrast to Vishnu’s connection with the consciousness of the universe (which he identifies as the concept of Brahman), and as the traditions of the Left Hand Path highly stress the importance of the consciousness of the individual, .

If you want, you can see the full video below.

In a sense, Atman referring to the individual consciousness can be a way of interpreting the concept of Atman, but while Atman is viewed as referring to the essential self, in Hindu tradition that same essential self is viewed as identical with Brahman, the consciousness of the universe. Shiva being the lord of individual consciousness in a Left Hand Path context is still an interesting way to elevate the individual consciousness and its importance in a Hindu context, and it definitely keeps Shiva interesting. In fact, it might be part of why my interest in him has stuck.

I don’t think I could come to dislike him.

This interpretation also brings to my mind a Buddhist myth concerning Shiva. Shiva does appear in the Buddhist tradition as Mahakala, but that’s not his only iteration within Buddhist lore. There’s a story in Buddhist scriptures where Shiva appears as Maheshvara (one of his names which he often goes by) and is defeated by a bodhisattva named Vajrapani. In the story, the cosmic Buddha Vairocana wants to construct a mandala and requests Vajrapani to generate his adamantine family in order to do so, but Vajrapani refuses to cooperate with Vairocana because of Maheshvara “deluding beings with deceitful doctrines and engaging in criminal activity”. In response Vajrapani’s complaint, Vairocana permits him to bring Maheshvara and his entourage to Mount Meru in order to force them to comply with the doctrines of the Buddha Gautama. Vajrapani uses a mantra to drag Maheshvara and company to Mount Meru, and orders all of them submit to the Buddhist teachings, to which all of them comply except Maheshvara, who refers to Vajrapani as a “pathetic tree spirit”. The two challenge each other in magical combat, and after a series of battles Maheshvara eventually defeated by Vajrapani, and along with his wife Uma (clearly a reference to the goddess Parvati) he is tread upon by Vajrapani after his defeat. After Vajrapani’s victory, all of Maheshvara’s entourage submit to the teachings of Buddhism and become a part of Vairocana’s mandala, except for Maheshvara, who is killed, but he is reborn in another realm as a Buddha named Bhasmesvara Nirghosa, who is described as “Soundless Lord of Ashes”.

In Japanese Buddhism, there is a similar myth centering around Gozanze Myo-O (aka Trailokyavijaya), one of the Five Wisdom Kings (a powerful group of wrathful emanations of the Five Buddhas of Wisdom, intended to represent the overcoming of passions and all threats to the Buddhist faith). In Japan, Gozanze Myo-O is the one who subjugates Maheshvara (known in Japan as Daijizaiten) and his wife Uma, thus they are depicted as trampled beneath Gozanze Myo-O’s feet in representations of him. But rather than killing Maheshvara, as Vajrapani did, Gozanze Myo-O converts him and Uma into protectors of the Buddhist faith.

A representation of Gozanze Myo-O.

The story of Maheshvara’s defeat and/or subjugation is obviously a way of illustrating the purported superiority of Buddhism next to Hinduism, and thus the superiority of the Buddhas and bodhisattvas over the Hindu pantheon of deities, but I feel that if we are to consider Shiva as a deity representing individuated consciousness, then beings like Vajrapani and Gozanze Myo-O, in the act of killing or subjugating Maheshvara, become the destroyers of individuated consciousness. This of course ties in to the fact that the goal of Buddhist practice is, ultimately, the extinction of individuated consciousness.

It’s a shame too, because I don’t really look at beings like these the same way after thinking about it that way. The wrathful beings of Buddhist come across to me as expressions of powerful will and strength, so it is a shame when that becomes directed against individuated consciousness in support of religious doctrine.


Karma is a concept common in Eastern religions and culture, but is interpreted very differently here in the West by many people. Our understanding of karma is largely based on the Hindu and Buddhist concepts of karma, so these are the concepts I’ll focus on here. When most people think of karma, they tend to think of something like this:

But in reality, the concept of karma has nothing to do with this sort of thing in its actual context. People like to think that karma means you “get what you deserve” in this life through some force in the cosmos, possibly because it suits their desire for vengeance without them actually claiming their vengeance for themselves, but that’s not what karma is.

In the West we tend to think of karma as the invisible moral force of reward and punishment, but in the Hindu context karma refers to the action or deeds of a person. In fact, the word karma literally means “action”, “deed”, or “work”, referring to the actions or deeds of a person, and any reward or punishment would thus refer to the result of said actions. However, karma is tied to the concept of reincarnation in which the soul enters a new physical form after death, which means your actions in this life are more or less tied to the next life. In this sense, karma in Hinduism tends to play out more like this:

In addition, Hindu belief stresses that there is only one Self, but instead of the individuated self there’s a single consciousness or Self tying all life together. This means all life is connected, and every individual is not only part of all others but also part of the divine consciousness of the universe, in fact but a piece of this consciousness, thus the goal of Hindu spirituality is for each piece to reunite with this single underlying consciousness, often identified as either God or by the concept of Atman (this itself tends to depend on what school of Hindu thought you answer to). It also means that it’s not you being reborn in a new body, but rather Atman. It also means that the bad things can happen to other people as a result of one person’s karma, which is horrible. In fact, this was one of the ways that people tried to explain the tsunami that happened in Southeast Asia near the end of 2004, and it may sound glib but it’s not an unreasonable interpretation of Hindu belief. Either way, I feel that since your consciousness is not your own in Hindu belief and since reincarnation entails someone or something else inheriting the fruits of your past actions, someone or something else is going to get screwed over by your actions, which is just illogical and wrong.

It works much the same in the Buddhist faith, except that in Buddhism there is neither a single divine consciousness nor individuated consciousness. Reincarnation is still based on karma or actions, but karma was also defined by Siddhartha Gautama as intention itself. This means that even mental action, the thought or impulse to perform physical and verbal actions and that influences such actions, can affect the next life. In broad terms, it also means that even a good action motivated by personal desire can be impure and lead to an impure rebirth, and the highest states of being, along with enlightenment itself, hinge on selflessness, which is stupid.

The wheel of the six desire realms.

In general, karma just means actions, but it’s funny how even though the concept of karma entails actions rather than a justice system designed to reward or punish them, the theme surrounding the concept of karma in many religions seems to be that your actions will be punished after this life rather than within, and I can’t seem to agree with the idea that the cosmos dispenses any sort of reward or punishment for actions that, if reincarnation is to be believed, you are no longer technically responsible for. And the thing is, if Hinduism and Buddhism are to be believed, you either don’t have an individuated consciousness, or your consciousness is not your own anyway, so how the hell are you responsible for actions that aren’t even yours either way?

The cursed existence of the bodhisattva

In Mahayana Buddhist belief, a bodhisattva is a sentient being who attained enlightenment and buddhahood and was able to pass into the state of nirvana upon death, but temporarily renounced the state of nirvana in order to aid all sentient beings in attaining Buddhist enlightenment. The bodhisattvas  are revered as godlike beings within Mahayana Buddhist sects, but are not technically considered gods in the conventional sense, though they might be called upon for aid by practitioners on the path to enlightenment.

The bodhisattva is also the highest ideal for Mahayana Buddhists, who strive to achieve a state of compassion for all living beings and by doing so detach all living beings from the cycle of death, rebirth, suffering, and karma by helping them achieve enlightenment. A key concept involved is the concept of bodhicitta, a state of mind that strives enlightenment and compassion for the benefit of all beings.

Guan Yin, a well-known example of a bodhisattva.

I am of the persuasion that, assuming these beings exist at all, bodhisattvas live a horrible existence. They vow themselves to “liberate” all sentient beings, help them achieve the Buddhist idea of enlightenment, selflessness, and compassion for all living beings, and they will pass into nirvana or become Buddhas until this is achieved, but have they realized what this means? Their quest will, with all likelihood, never end. They will never lead all sentient beings into salvation to because living beings are practically endless. Even towards the end of time, there will always be sentient beings who disagree with Buddhist teachings, do not practice the Buddhist ways and ideas of attaining enlightenment, or will not attain the enlightenment that is espoused by Buddhist teachings.

The bodhisattvas would devote the whole of their existence in service of others and have no regard for themselves, because Buddhism teaches the cultivation selflessness and ultimate compassion, and Mahayana Buddhism in particular stresses enlightenment primarily for the sake of others and saving all living beings. Obviously the bodhisattvas would not feel any unhappiness or dissatisfaction from this because of the state of mind they have cultivated, but I find an existence where you basically spend all eternity trying to save all living beings and living my life for the sake of everyone’s salvation would be undesirable, unfulfilling, and nightmarish. Imagine living a life where you acted only in service of the people and having no regard for what you wanted or what you felt was right. What if you realized your quest could never be complete? What if you came to the conclusion that you couldn’t help everyone, for there will always be someone in need that will end up going without your service? Or if that the people would never be happy with your efforts, always demanding more?

Vishnu, the Buddha, the devas, and Hindu lore

In India, Buddhism is not very popular despite the fact that it originated there. Part of the reason is the fact that Hinduism seems to have adapted the story of the Buddha, Siddartha Gautama, into its own lore. Specifically, there is a Hindu belief that the historical Buddha was the ninth avatar of the deity Vishnu, who is said to preserve the universe and protect its balance.

Different reasons are put forward for why Vishnu assumed the form of Buddha within this theory. Some believe Vishnu was promoting the idea of ahimsa (non-violence) in this form, others believe Vishnu wanted to see if people would remain faithful to the Vedic dharma, and there’s a story in the Puranas which suggests that Buddha was born to delude and confuse the enemies of the devas by preaching “false views” and thus weaken them. You could say this was a ploy to convert Buddhists into the Hindu tradition, but you could also say it was a smear campaign against Buddhism (which was viewed as a nastika or heterodox religion) on the part of orthodox Hindu thinkers.

Vishnu and his ten avatars (Dashavatara), including the Buddha.

The Puranic interpretation is the one I find odd. Why would the gods, who are supposedly interested in the truth, go out of their way to deliberately deceive humans, let alone demons, for any reason? How’s it any different from how, in Christian tradition, God apparently lets Satan and his demons “mislead” his own creation? In modern Hindu lore, the gods (or devas) chose the path of truth and their enemies (the asuras) supposedly chose falsehood (in reality it’s about Hindu ideas of spirituality versus materialism), and to me it often just seems like a worthless conflict. Think about it: although there are sometimes genuinely evil deeds punished by gods, usually it’s just either the gods trying to maintain hegemony over the world under the guise of preserving righteousness and the balance, or a mere morality tale of Hindu/Brahmanist social and spiritual ideas defeating materialism and godlessness.

This is also why I barely take Hindu mythology seriously or with the level of religious devotion that may or may not be accidentally implied, and merely use or venerate Hindu gods as a pagan (while not actually worshipping them or providing externality to their existence) but not their mythologies, because in Hindu mythology the gods are mainly a vehicle for both a morality tale and a concept of an external god, since they are merely forms of God in Hindu tradition.

Guan Yin is not another Virgin Mary, and the Virgin Mary is not a mother goddess

Guanyin (a.k.a. Avalokitesvara)

Some commentators, usually Christian or New Age, believe that the Buddhist entity Guan Yin and the Christian Virgin Mary are similar if not almost identical. Here I use this opportunity to tell you how they’re not.

For starters, Guanyin is Avalokitesvara, the bodhisattva who embodies compassion in all Buddhas. Guanyin is another name for Avalokitesvara in East Asian culture, where the bodhisattva is depicted as female and worshiped as a goddess. Avalokitesvara is believed to continuously look upon all beings with the eye of compassion and listen to the cries of sentient beings (hence the meaning of his various names). He is mainly venerated in Mahayana Buddhism and various forms of esoteric Buddhism.

Meanwhile, the Virgin Mary is not a bodhisattva, or a goddess. In Buddhist lore, a bodhisattva is a being who has achieved enlightenment and is ready to pass on into Nirvana, but waives its right to do so in order to help other sentient beings achieve enlightenment and enter Nirvana. Mary however is merely a figure attributed to being the mother of Jesus, who is prayed to and venerated as a saint, despite not really doing anything besides giving birth to Jesus. Her only connection to Guanyin is Chinese artwork of Guanyin holding a baby child, but let me level you; this to portray her as a folk patron of mothers who grants children, not as the mother of a god.

Painting of the Virgin Mary

There’s also those who equate the Virgin Mary with the mother goddesses of the pagan world, such as Isis, and even to the idea of a universal mother. This usually comes from New Age and Neopagan commentary on the Virgin Mary. Let me stress that the Virgin Mary is NOT a goddess, let alone a mother goddess. Her only connection to the mother goddesses of pagan lore is that she gave birth to Jesus, who isn’t even a god to begin with. Also, she’s a virgin, the only reason she was able to give birth to Jesus was because the Holy Spirit supposedly entered her body, and even then this could easily be interpreted as God having sex with her like Zeus coming to earth to frolic with a mortal woman. Either way, as long as it doesn’t count as sex in the eyes of Christians, she’s a symbol and saint of virginity, and the mother goddesses of the pagan world were not virgins. Isis’ husband was the god Osiris, Cybele’s husband was Attis, Asherah’s consort was El or Anu, Durga’s consort was Shiva, every mother goddess worth calling a mother goddess had a husband. Mary on the other hand does not, and has no apparent association with fertility and its powers (at least within the Christian context). She has no real connection to the pagan goddesses besides coincidence.

Why I’m just a pagan who uses Hindu/Buddhist lore

While I may have been glamorizing the idea of Hindu paganism last month, mostly due to the relation between some Hindu practices, the almost timeless status of the god Shiva, and the relation between the divine pair of Shiva and Shakti and the pagan cult of Bel and Astarte/Ishtar, I’m starting to think I am still unworthy of identifying as a Hindu.

For starters, I don’t believe in reincarnation, and if the Indian faiths are right, then I wouldn’t really want to reincarnate. I’d rather be in a heaven of my own. Then there’s the more serious problem, Hinduism, or at least religious Hinduism (or perhaps just Hinduism in its current form), places too much emphasis on renunciation, altruism, and merging oneself with God for me to want to identify with it. Despite the supposed flexibility of Hinduism, the goal is eventually to merge with Brahman/God, and this is not my goal. And I don’t much care for the whole renunciation ideal.

Then there’s Buddhism, which is similar to Hinduism or at least has similar ideas. Like Hinduism, Buddhism seems to value renunciation, the rejection of desire, and believes that all desire and craving must be eliminated before one can escape a seemingly endless cycle of life, death, and rebirth. And their idea of Nirvana is described as ultimate liberation through complete extinction (probably the extinction of the self).

To be honest, in my personal practice, I use Hindu, Buddhist, and other Asian deities, names, symbols, and sometimes terms and ideas, but in the end I don’t fully identify with the Hindu and Buddhist teachings (and I don’t really follow Hindu texts or believe in the authority of the Vedas), and those can’t really call myself either.

A bodhisattva named Vajrapani

In the end, I’m a pagan, or a Satanic Pagan, not Hindu. And actually, I’m alright with that. Besides the downsides of the Hindu and Buddhist labels I already mentioned, I find the label I have more flexible and comfortable, more allowing of my practice.

I still think there can be a connection between the pagan and the Hindu. For instance, Shiva is a Hindu deity, my favorite deity in mythology, and I see some connections with the god Baal (or Bel), due to his association with masculine power, fertility, and the phallic object of worship (the lingam is the closest Hindu equivalent to an obelisk), his divine animal vehicle (or vahana) is the bull, and his roots are a horned god (his crescent moon still calls to the horns of old). Baal has horns, he is linked with male fertility and power, and his animal is the bull. His wife, Shakti, is female power and fertility is also associated with love, and her divine animal vehicle is a lion or female tiger. Astarte/Ishtar is also associated with female power and sexuality, and is associated with the lion or lioness. It might be coincidence, but it seems to me like there might be a connection.

Anyway, going back to the point, as a Satanic Pagan who loves Asian myth, I pretty much uses Asia deities, symbols, often ideas as a part of my practice. Shiva and Shakti are not the only Hindu deities. Two examples include Agni and Kartikeya, and another example is an appropriation of Asura as an individual deity. Buddhist entities I incorporate include Mahakala and Mara. There is probably more, but I just wanted to list generic examples. With both Hinduism and Buddhism, there are entities I may not venerate or work with, but still appreciate.

In the end, this doesn’t make me a Hindu. It just makes me a pagan and Satanist who uses stuff from Asian religion.

However, I would like to add that if I engage in Tantric practice alongside Satanism and Pagan, and incorporate it as a major element, then I can probably add Tantric to the Satanic Pagan label. It’d still count for something, though either way, it’s hard for that label to account for the Chaos part of my beliefs (unless what I said about Satanism and Chaos counts for something), or for the fact that my own instincts and gut beliefs are very much at play. Truly, it is difficult for one label to account for everything.

Shiva and Tibetan Buddhism

Shiva as Nataraja

On Friday night, a thought came to me: “What if the iconography and depiction of Shiva and that of Tibetan Buddhist deities are linked?” I thought about the imagery, iconography, and depiction of the Buddhist deities in Tibet, Nepal, and the Himalayas, is inspired by Shiva.

If you want to know why, take a look at this Himalayan artwork.

Amaravajra Devi

As you notice, this deity is surrounded by a ring of fire, sports a third eye, wears animal skins, and tramples upon diminutive figures representing ignorance in his divine, ecstatic dance, just as Shiva, in his fiery cosmic dance, tramples the dwarf of ignorance, sports a third eye, wears animal skins, and dances in fire. The deities also wield tridents, like Shiva does, though they often have more arms and weapons. The garland of heads also takes a cue from Kali, the goddess who is often seen as Shiva’s wife.

You can also see this spirit of the Nataraja in fiercer deities.

An assembly of wrathful deities, featuring Mahakala at the centre. Fittingly enough, Mahakala is a Tantric Buddhist form of Shiva.

Heruka, also known as Chakrasamvara, is a good example of some symbolism of Shiva. Chakrasamvara’s name translates to “Supreme Bliss of the Wheel”. Shamvara, or Shambara, means ecstasy, the bliss that is the result of Buddhist Tantric practice, and it is related to an epithet of the Hindu god Shiva, who is addressed as Shambo, usually translated to mean Auspicious One. And Shiva’s moon adornment is said to appear on Heruka’s topknot, and in his activity form he wields a trident.

Heruka (a.k.a. Chakrasamvara)

You can argue that, since the deities and their dance is inspired by Shiva, that there is Tantric influence here, especially Tantric influence that comes from Hinduism. One can understand as Buddhism was taught in India and places like Tibet and Nepal, and Buddhist gurus and saints often travelled to Tibet and brought their ideas with them, which would probably have included some Hindu traditions and concepts. And Buddhism tended to incorporate various cultural and regional concepts, traditions, and ideas as it spread far and wide across Asia.

I think it is very fitting that Shiva resonates in Tibetan Buddhism, and makes sense, given the idea of spiritual power and the destruction of ignorance resonates in the deities.

On the Buddhist philosophy

I’ve done some research on the Buddhist philosophy, and after a while I realized that I don’t fit in with it.

One of Buddhism’s core tenets is compassion for all beings, which I don’t believe I can practice or is possible. I just don’t believe selfless compassion for all beings (and I assume this means every living thing, or at least all sentient beings) is possible, and I don’t believe in complete, perfect selflessness.

For example, among the Thirty Seven Practices of The Path of the Bodhisattva, the eleventh practice states  “All suffering, without exception, comes from the desire for happiness for oneself, while perfect Buddha-hood is born from the desire to make others happy. This is why completely exchanging one’s happiness for that of others is a practice of the Bodhisattva.”

And as people who’ve already read the blog know, I disagree with the idea of bodhicitta.

Artwork of Avalokiteshvara, the famous bodhisattva of compassion.

I also don’t like the idea of getting rid of desire and the self (or the “illusion of the self”) in order achieve any kind of enlightenment or oneness with a higher reality, and don’t believe in it. It is said that when Buddha died (at the age of 80 years old), he attained complete absorption into the highest state of existence, mind, or consciousness. I don’t quite like the idea of being assimilated into a higher consciousness, and if Buddhism is going to advocate it, and New Age types making it worse as they try to sell it, then I think I’ll pass.

I also disagree with the usage of fierce, powerful, warrior gods or wrathful deities as metaphors for the subjugation of desire and ego, as opposed to advocates of raw power.

Mahakala, a wrathful deity from Tibet

I do love Buddhist artwork and gods (Buddhist gods in Tibet and Japan are some the most awesome gods around), and have a liking for some of Buddhist mythology, and have some respect for the founder of Buddhism, Siddartha Gautama, for striving to find his own path, especially after having been sequestered and raised into a false reality by his father, but I find myself rather at odds with the actual philosophy, especially in its Mahayana form.

Honouring Siddhartha Gautama

Statue of the Buddha from the Jade Buddha temple.

Today is this year’s date of Buddha’s Birthday, a holiday in the Mahayana Buddhist calendar celebrating the birth of a man named Siddartha Gautama, who is said to have become enlightened and ascended to the status of Buddha (meaning “awakened one”). In time with this, I’d like to show some respect to Gautama himself.

Sure, I’m not a Buddhist, and I have some disagreements with some Buddhist teachings, but this isn’t really about the religion itself, or its doctrines/teachings. It’s about a man who spent a long portion of his life finding his own answers and following his own path, both in the process of asking questions, and in answering them.

As an individualist, I value walking one’s own path and finding one’s own answers, and having the strength to follow one’s own path. Siddartha Gautama did all three of those things, so I gotta show some respect. It’s not about religion, faith, creeds, or beliefs. It’s about Gautama’s dedication to his own path. For that, I offer my salute.

Besides, without Buddhism, where would all that kick-ass Buddhist religious art be?

Why the Dalai Lama is overrated

Tenzin Gyatso, the fourteenth Dalai Lama. He’s a got worldwide cult of respect, and for what? Just what did he do to earn such respect? I don’t think he ever did anything. To me, he’s an alternative Pope, and not much better, even for being Buddhist (yeah, right). This is not against Tibetan Buddhism, just the Dalai Lama.

Think about this, he sure talks a lot about peace, freedom, and non-violence, but who the hell is he to talk? The Tibet he reigned over was a feudal theocracy in which slavery was not only legal, but serfs who abandoned their lords’ lands could be bound and mutilated as punishment. Also, he seems to me like another Pope, as I already said, since he tends to make a lot of recommendations for how to live your life. If only he lived life from our perspective though. He’s a Dalai Lama, he was probably groomed from birth or something like that. Whatever the case, he certainly didn’t live an ordinary life, and is unworthy giving us life advice, let alone from a religious pulpit. Furthermore, he outright banned veneration of a deity or dharmapala called Dorje Shugden, who is viewed as a protector of Dharma and an emanation of the bodhisattva Manjushri. Why? Just to control his followers. And in 2008, he was in support of a campaign to completely get rid of the practice of worshipping Dorje Shugden instigated by the Tibetan government. That’s just as bad as the pseudo-communist Chinese dictatorship who is denying Tibet its autonomy. Both suck.

A wrathful Dorje Shugden

Considering this, it seems odd, morally speaking, that the West would attack the theocracies of Iran, the Taliban, and other parts of the Middle East, while supporting a Tibetan theocracy under what is an ostensibly religious leader. This whole thing just takes a big, steaming dump on what Buddhism is actually about. That’s right, the Dalai Lama and his theocracy is completely at odds with Buddhism’s true principles and values, or even what the Buddha himself would have perscribed.

And yet this man gets sympathy from the West and gets vocal support from Hollywood actors like Richard Gere and Steven Seagal, and given numerous awards for his “spiritual and political career”, even getting the freaking Nobel Peace Prize in 1989. Are you kidding me!? Why in the hell does a publicity-seeking theocrat who has done nothing for peace or Tibetan autonomy deserve any award for peace? Has the world gone mad?