Traditions of the past, including those Osensei brought into the modern era, always made ontological use of sinister beings. These cultures, and the use of such beings, may seem primitive and therefore incorrect or delusional to us moderns. However, there rests within the usage of such beings a spiritual practicality that only eludes us because of our own blind faith to Modernity’s materiality.
When one looks across history and across cultures, from a view perhaps more acceptable to us moderns, sinister beings such as demons are used to denote that there are some aspects of our experience of self that function at both conscious and unconscious levels. These aspects of self are both under our control and beyond our control. Moreover, these aspects have both immaterial and material components: In one way they are deeply psychological but in another way they have huge impacts on our lived world. That said, however, while this may be more digestible to the modern palette, simply positing modern psychological insights for pre-modern ontological practicalities is actually not quite enough to understand the use of sinister beings in a technology of self such as Budo. This is because while the pre-modern human being was noting an aspect of the mind not fully captured by consciousness, he/she was also noting that such aspects are equally not addressable by the conscious mind or by techniques and therapies that function through the conscious mind. In this way, the pre-modern use of sinister beings involves quite a sophisticated psychology, one more sophisticated than our own. It is in this light that I would like to draw the reader’s attention to “The Testament of Solomon.”
“The Testament of Solomon,” in brief, is a Greek text compiled in the first century of the common era. As a compilation, it reflects ideas predating the first century. Today, the text is considered pseudepigraphical, but this is ultimately for political reasons and has no bearing on our usage here. At the level of practice, which is where I would like to focus, but also definitely at an allegorical level, there is overlap between “The Testament of Solomon” and Osensei’s usage of the Heaven-Man-Earth motif. This occurs particularly where King Solomon talks to The Seven Demon Sisters.
In the autobiography they give to King Solomon, we learn that these seven demon sisters are the daughters of Atlas, the Titan. Atlas is the Titan burdened to forever keep Heaven separate from Earth. His daughters, these seven demon sisters, abide upon a set of stars within the constellation of Taurus - a sign noted for its stubbornness and its propensity toward resistance. When we learn more about these seven demon sisters, and when that information is taken in the entire context of the text and as well in the cultural context in which the text functioned, we are seeing a highly sophisticated notation on why and how spiritual practitioners fail to reach Awakening - fail, if you will, at a fusion or a bringing together of Heaven and Earth. These reasons on why spiritual practitioners fail to reach Awakening are all types of subconscious/conscious resistances, and they are noted in the names and introductions of each demon sisters. Here are their names, listed below, but have modernized their introductions for the modern palette:
The demon sister, Deception – This is the ignoring and/or the attempting to hide from one’s consciousness the inconsistency between what one says, what one does, and what one thinks for the purposes of hiding such from The Beloved and in Light of The Way. In practice, this mostly shows up in the utterances, “But, I am.” or “I did.” While results yield an outcome to the contrary. In practice, it is when the deshi says or with delusion believes they are in alignment with The Way when they are in fact in practice oppositional to that path. The demon sister Deception notes our unconscious efforts to remain unaware to the self. The demon sister, Strife – This is the habitual and/or unconscious opposition to The Beloved and The Way - a constant sewing of the seeds of disharmony and a generating a distance from these things. In practice, this mostly shows up in “non-A” utterances and behaviors. For example, a guru points a deshi toward the path with an explanation “It is ‘A’.” and the disciple immediately, habitually and unconsciously, thinks and/or utters, “It is non-A.” The demon sister Strife notes our unconscious effort to posit and hold what will not awaken us.
The demon sister, Battle – This is a habitual and unconscious siding and aligning with The Darkness - with Unenlightenment. In practice, this mostly shows up in the effort to subconsciously support one’s fear of self-transformation with post hoc rationalizations and uses of the intellect. In the end, in practice, one is positioning themselves under a banner of fear and efforting, “fighting,” to ensure said banner never falls - all for the sake of reifying the ego identity. The demon sister Battle notes our unconscious effort to remain the same: It is an unconscious homeostasis of self. The demon sister, Jealousy – This is an internal egoic attachment and associated inertia requiring one to measure oneself against the egoic attachments of others. In practice, this mostly shows up within mood fluctuations, whereby a practitioner fluctuates in their experience of the world along a spectrum of anxiety and depression, all according to a meaning of self they gain by assigning meaning to others. The demon sister Jealousy notes our unconscious drive to experience the world through opposition and contrast. The demon sister, Power – This is an internal egoic attachment and associated insecurity that breeds a rage within the practitioner, a rage aimed at overthrowing The Beloved and to rebel against The Way. This mostly shows up in practice via an obsessive use of one’s own ego as a metric for justice and truth, wherein under the guise of positivity a nihilistic act of destruction of all other experienced selves can take place. The demon sister Power notes the full unconscious and unlimited functioning of our egoic Will to Power. The demon sister, Error – This is the unconscious use of the intellect in order to take advantage of the semiotic ambiguity of language, which is done for the purposes of remaining distal to The Beloved and The Way. In practice, this mostly takes the shape of dropping any sense of self-responsibility by positing that an ontological gap exists between what one means to do and what one actually does. The demon sister Error notes our unconscious willingness to resist ownership for our own Awakening. The demon sister, Unnamed – This is the substituting of worldly ideals for Heavenly virtue - noting whereby the former takes place through the existence of and attachment to the ego and the latter occurs only through the deconstruction of the ego. In practice, this mostly happens through the reifying use of one’s own culture’s values to reify the ego. The demon sister Unnamed notes our unconscious adoption of our own cultural fictions and their constructive relationship to our egoic identity.
Again, while these modernized “edibles” seem insightful, they are in fact no such thing. This is because they wrongly suggest that a conscious awareness of these resistant tendencies either offer some sort of remedy in and of themselves or they suggest that a remedy can be achieved with or through the conscious mind. In fact, no such things are possible. These demons have to be and can only be exorcised, and that can only be done at the level at which they are taken for real.