A friend of mine from high school recently started getting suspended (suspension.org if your not sure what I am talking about ) Over the years I have known others who have been suspended and have engaged in different forms of body modification myself, but at this particular time in life the subject affected me very deeply. In the past these acts were a way for me to express to the world who I was, and to see who would accept me. Now, it sang to me of a place that yearned for intensity of experience, the abilty to overcome the material with the spiritual.
I won't say that I have gotten into a "rut" with my magical practice, but I have been craving a deeper experience. Now, I have to mention that throughout the almost twenty years I have been studying mystical traditions and thier practices (yes I started when I was ten) it wasn't until I started practicing magic that I actually began to have the mystical experiences that I had been learning about. In fact, since I started my training, I have had mind-blowing, bring me to my knees weeping, light-showing, unexplainable things happen while being in the Temple. It seems almost crazy for me to say that I think I started taking this for granted. ( I'll need to meditate on Moses hitting the rock twice later)
When I saw the pictures of my friend's suspension I started to crave an even more intense experience. For those of you who dont' know much about this, it is often reported that one has out of body experiences, and attains higher states of awareness while undergoing suspension. I began to want to have my whole being shocked into another dimension. I began to obsess about it for days, staying up late at night and cruising the internet looking at pics of suspension, kadvali, and other ritual body modifications. After the initial high of "something new" wore off, I began to feel uneasy. I started to doubt my experiences, and reality in general. Hmmm...what goes up, must come down.
After talking to my husband I realized that I had been trapped in a state of mind that lusted for result, something I had learned about years earlier from the Yoga Sutras. In the realm of the spirit, this is a hefty trap that can be difficult to overcome. The illusion being that having a certain experience, or attaining a certain power, equals enlightenment. The Yoga Sutras talk about this is the section on "siddhis", extraordinary powers that yogis develop as a result of thier spiritual progression. It warns that one should not strive to have these powers (invisibility, walking through walls, flight etc...), but should seek the true power beyond them. Many a spiritual seeker get lured into becoming attached to these "pretties", and fall off the path. This, I think is also an important lessson for magicians who are studying High Magic (magic for self-development, and union with thier True Self).
It is easy to get caught up in attaining the powers of angels, or conrolling planetary and elementary forces. But we must remember that our goal is to use these forces to help us attain union with the Divine, and to reap spiritual gifts that will benefit all of mankind, not just ourselves. As one teacher of mine so aptly put, "You will become enlightened much faster if you seek to use it to help others become enlightened rather than just wanting it for yourself." As we discover, when we begin to ascend in our state of consciousness, The Lord our God, the Lord is One...we are one with the Divine, and we are one with each other. Thus, my brethern in the Light, let us not seek to do the work for ourselves, but for The Lord of the Universe. Let us pray that our spiritual gifts be given to others, so that we may all rise speedily to union with our True Selves.