Black Magick, Morality, Causality & Sustainability
Feb 22, 2013
The typical notion of black magick involves committing a selfish deed or spell that results in harming another. A paradoxical villain however may attempt to keep morale by justifying any of his actions by questioning what harm is to begin with. In utilitarian thought, the prime importance resides in overall goodness, so that if one individual has to be harmed in order to save the many, then the one individual must go. The question of sacrifice for a greater good then comes up, which can appear as a slippery slope. Thinking imaginatively enough, any seemingly bad action can follow some action viewed as better or stronger than what the initial action was.
A great example of these actions may be the rapid advancements in medicine from the Nazi medical experiments. Does the end justify the means? One may see that any tragedy has the potential of delivering a great lesson for the world. This approach to change, however, has a patriarchal “tough love” feel to it. To me, this feels like blowing up a coffer of ancient artifacts to get to them the quickest. Sure, we will be able to get the treasure, but it will be tattered and mixed in with all sorts of debris.
But do we see the debris? The seeming fundamental flaw in what I will call moral black magick is that it appears to eat at the very core of the practitioner without the practitioner even knowing it. At the extreme of this, if we throw some man under the bus to keep an entire bus from driving off a cliff, we have made an on-the-spot judgment call nearly placing us upon the throne of fate. If we manage to save a bus load of people at the cost of one person, we will have saved many people and killed one. This may manifest into a seesaw relationship where vitriol eats us up on one side and warm milk patches us up on the other. We got the treasure, but a degraded form (like a plucked rose). Any action at all here would be as black magick. But at least the black magick wound up saving many? And what of non-action?
If one were completely passive in such a situation, would that also entitle black magick on one’s part? The non-action may be selfish, but has the situation directly come from one? To view non-action as black magick, we may need to extend the definition of “cause” to accommodate our own non-action. If we are to adopt this, then we could easily say that by non-action in this case, we are committing an act of black magick. The act appears as black magick based off of a particular vantage point we see pinpointing us as the cause. It appears to be about causality more than anything else.
From a particular vantage point, we were the cause of the baby falling from a well (as will be mentioned further on). Cause, here, may bear a correspondence to spacial relation. The more closely spacially relational one is to another, the easier it is for one to develop a vantage point that the correlation is a causality. In my current belief system, I am close to either dumping the whole notion of cause and effect on the grander scheme or at the very least being very weary of it. Nowadays, I like to view the world more as correlations of floating information and not as cause and effect. A does not result in B but A just so happened to be swimming in the pool where B swims, influencing both A and B simultaneously.
Thinking of the world like this creates a bigger image of Self. Taken to the extreme, one can turn into a Christ archetype, feeling as if the entire humanity is upon one’s shoulder (for me, people like Mother Theresa or the Dalai Lama come to mind). Yet, we do not have to take it to that extreme, though practically speaking, it may, just may be practical for an individual to challenge one’s self and extend past one’s own immediate body space. The bus scenario presented an individual with a decision dealing with something beyond one’s limited body. Even though the decision to either act or not act with the bus scenario is a tricky one, there are other scenarios where there is little or no price to pay for acting. Borrowing one of the Confusion scholar Mencius’s images, if someone found a baby crawling along the edge of a well, that individual may be immediately inclined to act to save this baby. Any non-action on his or her part would possibly have detrimental effects.
One, being so close in spacial and mental relation would gravitate a person closer to viewing that the correlation between the baby and one’s self can be like a cause and effect. A thick string may connect the baby and some other correlation or cause and effect (e.g. a correcauselation effect of a fed-up mother abandoning her baby perhaps). Once, though, one comes into the picture, a string immediately attaches itself to other strings, and like an atom, the force gets stronger toward the source.
Going against the current for selfish reasons (like if perhaps the baby is one of the enemy troops) and directly or indirectly causing harm, for me, constitutes as an act of black magick, and not a utilitarian one like in the bus scenario. I mentioned the bus scenario earlier in order to demonstrate that even black magick appears to have its place in the world, but like Aleister Crowley warned, it’s like trying to find a leak in a gas tank in the dark with a lighter. It’s tricky business. Anybody put into that bus situation is inadvertently given that lighter. The gods or hyperdimensional machine elves must really get a kick out of observing such situations of the mere mortals.
But going back to the effects of black magick, it’s like a fast-track path, a reckless, often uneducated, spontaneous decision. Sometimes we are forced with limited time like the bus scenario but not always. If one is familiar with the Confusion idea of reciprocity, or similairly, Immanuel Kant’s categorical imperative, black magick is like the polar opposite of these ideas. Whereas the Confusion idea of reciprocity is a close version of the golden rule (do not do to others what you do not want done to you) and Kant’s categorical imperative is as well (treat others as an ends and not as a means to an end), the similarity that these two ideals share is that both are grounded in the idea of sustainability. Both do not burn bridges to get to their goal.
This very idea of the individualist getting ahead regardless of how many people you have to step on to get there appears to be like the western cancer. Cancers are not intelligent at all because they destroy their host (hence themselves) in their zeal to take over. This zeal for the now can be viewed in modern society with the environment for instance. As Terence Mckenna has stated: “The current operating system is flawed. It actually has bugs in it that generate contradictions, contradictions such as we’re cutting the Earth beneath our own feet. We’re poisoning the atmosphere that we breathe. This is not intelligent behavior. This is a culture with a bug in its operating system that’s making it produce erratic, dysfunctional, malfunctional behavior.”
Black magick, hence, is like a little devil’s contract. Think twice before rubbing that genie lamp, for any of those wishes, as often depicted in literature and cartoons, can so easily backfire. Such is the nature of immediate result, for it seems to rarely take into account sustainability. For every action you do with yourself, question whether or not it is depleting your precious resources or not (to the Chinese system, it is called Jing 精). For every interaction with others, question whether or not it is depleting their resources (which often comes back to also burn your resources). What we want is reciprocity.
Beware of the solitary:
person A → person B
Turn it into:
person A → person B
person A ← person B
Person A and Person B can even be two sides of you. Everything you do, think self-sustaining. Self-sustaining is intelligence, and I’ll even say peace. To Confucius, reciprocity would be a trait of the junzi (the gentleman–and I’ll add gentlelady too) who distinguishes the mature from the immature.