In thinking recently about the way in which Chaos Magic might allow for a greater access to and acceptance of fluidity I thought it might be helpful to share an example from my own practice about my shifting relationship with a god-form. In this case the Chaos Buddha.
My own relationship with magic has always intertwined with Dharmic traditions such as Buddhism as the emphasis on introspection and meditative practice felt like a necessary counterbalance to the more active methods of much of Western occultism. Back in 2011 I found myself wanting to deepen my exploration of what a Buddha-form might look like when seen through the lens of my chaos magical practice. Digging back through some dust-covered magical diaries I came across this semi-channeled piece that later became the basis for a large group Puja:
“(The Chaos Buddha) A Laughing Buddha-representing the Erisian/Discordian stream of the Chaos impulse. A Trickster Buddha who invites us to relax into our conflicts, to breathe into them, to half-smile and release them to the deeper aspects of ourselves-to subvert out linear, rational attempts to make things work. Chaos emanates from a belly that bespeaks enjoyment, pleasure and playfulness rather than asceticism, sacrifice and denial.
A place of succulence, opulence and contentment.
An earthy bass notes that challenges the belief that wisdom is a move away from matter. A playful Monkey Buddha pinching Tripitarka’s bottom. A Zen rebel, taking us ever back to the circle rather than the straight line. Hail the Chaos Buddha!!”
Reading back over this, I am struck by what it says about me and the place that I was at in my life when it was both written and then deployed in a magical setting. In the months prior to this work I had undertaken a period of Chaos Monasticism that had a strong focus on Eris and Discordianism. As someone with a fairly wide stripe of seriousness and intensity, I had felt inspired to explore this current as a way of bursting my own bubble of taking my own magic too seriously. The work was far too important to not laugh at it!
For me, the creative process of engaging in this work was a Process Theology of the highest order. I was making no claims to ancient traditions or unbroken lineages as I sought to give my own impulses and spiritual desires an external shape. In this artistic expression of my magical aspirations I was simultaneously taking a radical and antinomian degree of responsibility for the work while at the same time tapping into the archetype of the Trickster that has taken numerous forms across many cultures.
My work with the Chaos Buddha took on a particular intensity back then and much of my sitting practice and engagement with Zen teaching stories was done with a nod in their direction. By personifying my aspirations and giving them an external form, I felt that I was able to engage more fully than if I had simply tried to simply think about how Zen and Chaos Magic might overlap. God-forms often act as amplifiers for our intentions and allow us to engage our bodies and heart-based Bhakti vibes.
Nothing stays still for long and when I thought about this reflection inevitably I began to think about how my work with the Chaos Buddha has evolved. In recent years my own work has become less focused on the down and dirty “results magick” aspect of chaos magic and more on the meaning of deep psychological change and initiation. For me that has involved a deep-dive into Existentialism and how concepts such as emptiness and the Void can be applied in the context of a Left Hand Path type approaches.
In exploring this work, I remained aware that the Chaos Buddha was gently nudging me to develop my past disciplines as a means for exploring this new terrain. So much of Western Occultism can feel like another version of the relentless project of acquisition: more books, more degrees, more weird experiences and more funny hats. While all these things can be meaningful and potentially absorbing, I must still deal with the reality that the vastness of the Universe still blows my conceptual little mind and eventually (hopefully not too soon), I’m still going to die. Ultimately I need tools and perspectives for helping me sit with these realities and the senses of Dread and Awe that they generate.
Thankfully the lens provided by the Chaos Buddha work is providing me with some helpful keys for cultivating what I need. Whether it’s sitting with paradox or surfing the waves of internal chatter this part-made god is still proving to be a valuable asset. Cynics might dismiss my imaginary friend, but as magicians we know that imaginary friends can be life changing!
In the large group puja to the Chaos Buddha that I led in 2011 we ended with taking three deep bows while reciting 3 affirmations to the treasures of Buddha, Dharma and Sangha:
“I bow to the Chaos Buddha as the half-smiling fool
I bow to the dharmic paradox that there may be no absolute truth
I bow to the Sangha of my school-the tribe of holy idiots bold enough to do the work of magick!”
Feel free to experiment with this if it looks helpful ☺