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On 2/3/2021 at 1:09 PM, Darius West said:

I mean that Nysalorism has a pathetic repertoire of mystical feats.

1.  The ability to detect other illuminates. 2.  Protection from divine judgement. 3.  The limited ability to pass on Nysalorism.

It is also pointless to argue against an understanding of Illumination as a both Gloranthan concept and game mechanic that hasn't been much updated since 1989, and IMO were known (due to the Arkat discussion) to be wrong then. 

The version in HQG appears the most current, is now over 5 years old, and is very likely to form the basis for RQG going forward (especially as salient points are repeated in the Gloranthan Sourcebook, and comes up in other points).

Essentially any view of Illumination that regards it as fundamentally different (in both Gloranthan terms, and game terms) from EWF draconic consciousness, Arkats teachings, Vithelan mysticism, etc is directly contradicted by current canon material. There are of course details in which it differs, such as teaching method, or which abilities are commonly known. There was a recent post in which I went over this in some detail.

It is worth noting that Illumination, including Nysaloran forms, now includes some specific abilities that are potentially useful widely, and have nothing to do with Chaos, or necessarily joining other cults - the ability to develop opposed Runes simultaneously, and to not be driven by ones Passions (a game rule only in RQG because only RQG has Passions, but IMO this is just making explicit something that was clearly implied in all descriptions of Illumination from Cults of Terror on). It is obviously of use to both the Lunars and the Yelm worshippers, as both cults have both the Life and Death runes (and Life and Death related magic) but is also more widely useful (eg there are many examples of cults that are associated with cults with opposing runes). 

You can either maintain the view that Illumination is fundamentally evil and false, and also fundamentally different to other mysticism, and then construct an alternate understanding of mysticism, and alternate rules based on that (likely one based on rejected ideas from HW era material). I personally regard this as mostly pointless, but anyone who really hates the canon approach is free to make up something entirely different. 

or

we can take Illumination as a common experience common to mystical experience Glorantha, and discuss how that can be used as a basis for understanding how mystic magic techniques work, both culturally and within possible rules for followers of mystic paths (beyond those limited ones that will appear in the Gods book).

I think this is something very much worth doing, as I expect what is likely to appear in official products in the near future will be limited to what is relevant to the core setting and metaplot, so we will see the Lunar/Nysalor approach, Arkat related draconic consciousness, and not much else for years. It is also worth looking at what comes after Illumination, and how to run that in a game - eg how to learn new Illuminate abilities, what forms of magic do various mystic traditions teach their Illuminates, etc. 

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I would have abandoned the Tarot scheme.  The major framing device for the organization of the Arkati cults (Arkat the Destroyer etc) I would have attributed to Halwal (in order words, the cults of Ar

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21 minutes ago, davecake said:

It is obviously of use to both the Lunars and the Yelm worshippers, as both cults have both the Life and Death runes (and Life and Death related magic)

Isn't Yelm Fire/Sky (twice), Mastery, Stability?

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25 minutes ago, davecake said:

I think this is something very much worth doing, as I expect what is likely to appear in official products in the near future will be limited to what is relevant to the core setting and metaplot, so we will see the Lunar/Nysalor approach, Arkat related draconic consciousness, and not much else for years. It is also worth looking at what comes after Illumination, and how to run that in a game - eg how to learn new Illuminate abilities, what forms of magic do various mystic traditions teach their Illuminates, etc. 

Mysticism is discussed in the Stafford Library extensively and should be a discrete form of magic on its own according to those sources.  There is no reason to suppose that different schools of mysticism will bear any similarity to Nysalorism, which ostensibly exists to allow chaos worshippers to infiltrate non-chaotic cultures undetected for plot purposes, and which had its mystical core destroyed as false by Arkat, and fell into a very similar class of mystical error to Avanapdur who was shown to be false and ended by Mashunasan.  The fundamental magic discussed for Mysticism by Greg was Refutations, and admittedly more needed to be done on that, but if you are going to tell me that Nysalorism is your template for Kralorela and the East Isles's versions of Mysticism which hundreds if not thousands of years of entirely independent history, I and others will be very disappointed.  I mean, there are still people annoyed about the sorcery rules, but I am hoping that a big book about the West will fix that. In the mean time don't double down on a mistake due to some sunk costs fallacy.

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50 minutes ago, Darius West said:

Mysticism is discussed in the Stafford Library extensively and should be a discrete form of magic on its own according to those sources.  There is no reason to suppose that different schools of mysticism will bear any similarity to Nysalorism, which ostensibly exists to allow chaos worshippers to infiltrate non-chaotic cultures undetected for plot purposes, and which had its mystical core destroyed as false by Arkat, and fell into a very similar class of mystical error to Avanapdur who was shown to be false and ended by Mashunasan.  The fundamental magic discussed for Mysticism by Greg was Refutations, and admittedly more needed to be done on that, but if you are going to tell me that Nysalorism is your template for Kralorela and the East Isles's versions of Mysticism which hundreds if not thousands of years of entirely independent history, I and others will be very disappointed.  I mean, there are still people annoyed about the sorcery rules, but I am hoping that a big book about the West will fix that. In the mean time don't double down on a mistake due to some sunk costs fallacy.

Whether or not Nysalorean Illumination is morally correct seems irrelevant to the conversation. Like it or leave it, it's a part of the setting. (Of course, YGMV if it's that important to you.)

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1 minute ago, Ladygolem said:

Whether or not Nysalorean Illumination is morally correct seems irrelevant to the conversation. Like it or leave it, it's a part of the setting. (Of course, YGMV if it's that important to you.)

Actually, moral correctness is very important in mysticism.  If something is morally correct it is much harder to refute and refutation is the core of Gloranthan mysticism we are privy to.

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1 hour ago, Ladygolem said:

Isn't Yelm Fire/Sky (twice), Mastery, Stability?

He is Fire/Sky (doubled), Life, Death in the RQG rules, and I don't expect that change in the Gods Book. Also in RQ3 Gods of Glorantha and a few other places. It seems both the most consistent historically, and most likely to be considered ongoing canon. 

The confusion is understandable, though, he is given Mastery and Stability in the Guide. He is one of the more inconsistent deities as far as given Rune associations go. I'm sure we can find some other associations if we looked! 

Most of his magic, with a few exceptions, seems to be Fire magic, but he is associated with both Life and Death rune cults.

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14 minutes ago, Darius West said:

Actually, moral correctness is very important in mysticism.  If something is morally correct it is much harder to refute and refutation is the core of Gloranthan mysticism we are privy to.

We're talking about fiction. The Lunars are not real, and they cannot get you.

Seriously though, this has verged from trying to describe the structure and philosophy of Illumination, to passing value judgment on it. This is subjective, and something we'll never be able to agree on.

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1 minute ago, Ladygolem said:

We're talking about fiction. The Lunars are not real, and they cannot get you.

Seriously though, this has verged from trying to describe the structure and philosophy of Illumination, not pass value judgment on it.

The aim is to keep the story internally consistent as an act of world building.  It is a very good way to avoid plot holes.

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Just now, Ladygolem said:

Exactly! Whether or not we personally agree with the actions of the characters is not really the point.

It isn't about agreeing or disagreeing, it is about the treatment of the available information not being treated consistently.  In short, there is plenty of evidence that Nysalor worship is dramatically different in its present form to the information we have on mystics from Kralorela and the East Isles, but we are in danger of getting a magic system for mysticism which is unable to reconcile this fact. 

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1 hour ago, Darius West said:

Mysticism is discussed in the Stafford Library extensively

If you choose to put ideas Greg played around with a long time and eventually rejected as being more important than ideas that are actually present in canon publications based on his more recent ideas, then you will create an alternate version of mysticism based on different ideas to those that will end up in default Glorantha. You seem very determined to do this. Perhaps you should start a separate thread for it. 

1 hour ago, Darius West said:

There is no reason to suppose that different schools of mysticism will bear any similarity to Nysalorism,

Other than multiple current sources you dislike. 

eg Glorantha Sourcebook pg 149, under the heading Illumination. 

Quote

other beliefs that shared many of the same characteristics (most specifically the extraordinary state of mind that fundamentally transforms the individual): Umbarism, Empire of the Wyrms Friends draconic consciousness, Kralorelan draconic mystics, Vithelan mysticism, the Umathelan Cult of Silence, and even some God Learner schools all provided liberation similar to that of Nysalorean Illumination.

As long as you fundamentally reject that point, you are just striving to create your own alternate Glorantha that rejects most recent writing. It is extremely tiresome and pointless. 

1 hour ago, Darius West said:

but if you are going to tell me that Nysalorism is your template for Kralorela and the East Isles's versions of Mysticism

I'm the one telling you? ^^^^^ 

(FWIW, Illumination is a rules idea about magical presentation in Glorantha (in the same way that Rune magic is a rules presentation of theist sacrifice), but my main working template for understanding mysticism is Patanjali, as I believe it was Greg's most fundamental reference too, though definitely not the only. I thought this was made fairly clear.)

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I feel that we have ended up conflating two entirely different topics. This is leading to a certain level of personal criticism in this topic that feels quite off-putting to me, and which likely drives people away from this topic in particular and maybe from the lists entirely.

Is it worth it?

It is very unlikely that we will change anyone's mind in this debate. Many of us set our opinions a long time ago. I was recently shocked when I read a very old posting of mine (from more than 30 years ago) to find that I had already then come up with a variant Gloranthan idea that I still hold close today. (And it's not about Mysticism).

 

For what it's worth, I think the two separate conflated topics are:

  • What are the paths to mysticism and how do mystics of those paths act?
    vs.
  • What are the powers of mystical magic?

The various mystical paths, to me anyway, is a much more interesting topic. And how those paths affect the personal behaviour of those that follow them. For example, I am very taken by the idea that the 'devotees' at Old Wind are a mystery cult of Orlanth, who contemplate their breath or the wind to achieve a higher consciousness. Their understanding of the world and their place in it will be entirely unlike that of a dragonnewt close to becoming a dragon. Some aspects of their (the Orlanthis') asceticism may be shared with the Yelmalians that retire (or are 'retired') to the towers but other parts of their approach are different.

I have some idea of what a theistic or sorcerous approach to mysticism might look like, but no idea of how a spiritist might approach a mystical goal. The Nysalorean approach, as practised and changed by the Lunars is different yet again. The Kralorelan and the East Isles approaches to mysticism only seems close to each other when looked at from the point of view of Central Genertelan Theists.

And most importantly, I remember that Greg spoke several times at conventions of what mysticism meant to him, which went something like (and apologies if I get it very wrong, it was a long time ago).

  • What we can see, hear, touch, feel and think etc. is This World.
  • Everything else is the Other World.
  • Mysticism is that which is neither This World nor the Other World.

There's a paradox in there that my mind shies away from. I'm reminded of when I was first taught about mathematical Infinity and the various mathematical gradations of Infinity. After short period of trying to understand, I gave up and just used the formula to make use of the concepts. If we want to debate Illumination and Mysticim, we should talk about how to use it in a game set in Glorantha or in writing a story rather than to justify our own personal spiritual and/or religious beliefs.

Edited by Charles
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Spiritist transcendence/mysticism is an interesting topic to explore. Spiritists already accept a world where the divisions between This and Other are not absolute in terms of the world. Perhaps, then, we might borrow the notion (somewhat common among RW practitioners of religions that would be seen as spiritism-dominated in Gloranthan terms) that the fundamental purpose of the shaman or spiritist practitioner is to mediate between groups of equal but essentially different peoples with different needs.

And then the transcendence there lies in erosion of the firmness of that distinction, the spiritist first becoming part of both communities (through shamanic awakening, shapeshifting magic, being connected to the consciousness of plants, etc.) and then eventually developing a sense of themselves as a being set apart from both communities but connected to them as well, and then developing the transcendent understanding that all beings are the same kind of separate/connected "entity of overlap" that they themselves are.

You can see many of the straightforward mystic abilities emerging from this framework. Being able to slip the bonds of spirit taboos, for example, could develop from the realization that those taboos apply to a particular kind of being, which you are not anymore and never were.

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3 minutes ago, davecake said:

(FWIW, Illumination is a rules idea about magical presentation in Glorantha (in the same way that Rune magic is a rules presentation of theist sacrifice), but my main working template for understanding mysticism is Patanjali, as I believe it was Greg's most fundamental reference too, though definitely not the only. I thought this was made fairly clear.)

Well Patanjali is pretty good source material for some parts of mysticism, and it certainly has solid info and a broad cultural reach, influencing Indonesia and Southeast Asia, as well as India, so that's a very good choice.  On the other hand, the system it describes has precious little in common with Nysalorism, surely you must see that?  Nysalor's tradition is essentially a bad parody of Zen; it has no explicit meditative tradition, no transcendent feats, just a series of koans that don't lead to a true Samadhi, but to a form of religious parasitism as the outcome.

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2 hours ago, Charles said:

If we want to debate Illumination and Mysticim, we should talk about how to use it in a game set in Glorantha or in writing a story rather than to justify our own personal spiritual and/or religious beliefs.

Well said and I agree.  Mysticism needs to be treated as its own distinct magic system which is integrated with the other three but distinct from them.  There is discussion that mysticism will be related to the infinity rune, and that seems a good and necessary thing, as how better to interact with cosmic one-ness?  It is pretty clear that the meditation skill needs to play a major part in how "mystic feats"(mystic magical effects), are performed.

As to what these feats should be, well, at lower levels they should start with the ability to ignore various forms of discomfort such as lack of sustenance, extreme temperature, exhaustion and sources of physical damage.  This will likely also apply to magic cast at the mystic, as the mystic is able to ignore it or see it for the distraction it is, and undo it.  Now typically mystics have a number of means of travel.  They will start with basic exercises that make their bodies light, allowing them superior stealth, then move to levitation, then telekinesis, then to flight via cloud trapeze (a la Journey to the West), and then to teleportation and even bi-location.   There also needs to be provision for martial arts, which will mainly be relatively low on the mysticism scale.  Upper level mysticism will include the ability to enter the various mystical realms with comparative ease.  Much of mysticism will also be about perfecting one's philosophical understanding of the infinite union that is being sought, as that understanding becomes the lens through which mysticism is performed.  I would also argue that mystics would be more interesting if they needed threshold experiences where they encounter creatures that personify their inner demons and philosophical problems in a tangible if mythical form that they needed to overcome in some fashion to progress.  I would also argue that mystics likely have some ability with telepathy, and this allows them to calm wild beasts by sending them calm thoughts and so forth.

Now every culture on Glorantha will have some overlap with the others.  For example, Dayzatar is unequivocally a mystical cult that is tied to the solar pantheon.  The Larnstings are an Orlanthi mystical order tied to the Mobility rune, and of which the original King Sartar was a member.  It is possible that the Old Temple of the Wind also has Storm Rune mystics.  I would also argue that Saint Xemela who healed an entire city at the cost of her own life, a feat that the local sorcery could not accomplish, was a mystic of the West.  Obviously the Lunars have a number of cults that have taken the basics of Nysalorism, and mixed in Kralori mysticism gleaned from the Red Headed Caravan of Pent, and created a number of quasi theist but also quasi mystical cults in the Lunar Empire.  The Taraltarans seem to be a more mystical less theistic form of this, with a scimitar based martial art to boot.

Now dragonewts are something else again, as they are born into an extremely advanced mystical training program and are the only race on Glorantha that doesn't die, but instantly reincarnates.  They are advancing towards becoming dragons, and have access to dragon powers, but using them retards their progress.  The living dragonewts are also all failures who have been at that path for hundreds if not thousands of years, when during the EWF multiple humans managed to complete it, while some dragonewts still don't understand the concept of eating food.  Draconic reincarnation is likely the product of a true dragon's mysticism protecting their progeny.

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On 2/4/2021 at 7:57 AM, Darius West said:

The aim is to keep the story internally consistent as an act of world building.  It is a very good way to avoid plot holes.

Unfortunately, this doesn't work in the RW either, where 'systems' of faith and belief are wildly unsystematic.  

The fun is in the plot holes.

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21 hours ago, Darius West said:

On the other hand, the system it describes has precious little in common with Nysalorism, surely you must see that? 

Mysticism is method. I mean, Greg is very clear that when we talk about mysticism as a Gloranthan magic system, we mean method not goal. Every time you try to work out what is valid mysticism or not by your moral judgment of the uses it can be put to, you aren't seeing it in mystic terms, and so just getting more confused. Declaring Nysalor isn't real mysticism because you don't like its moral stance is like insisting Zorak Zoran or Thanatar isn't real worship because he doesn't enoble the spirit, or such nonsense. And that seems to be pretty much your argument against Nysaloran Illuminate - the first mistake being that moral arguments have any relevance at all, leaving aside the dubious substance of your moral arguments (they basically only make sense if you assume the tenets of most mysticism are false) - leading you to reject Illumination as a model for mysticism entirely - which is mistake 2, because not only is Illumination clearly stated to be the model for mystic experience, the obvious think mystic traditions have in common, it is a more flexible model than you claim it is, and you spend so much time rejecting it for the wrong reasons you've never thought about how it might work. 

So, Illumination isn't the goal, it is a step along the way. It's not the equivalent of being a great mystic, it's taking the first steps into mysticism - like becoming a shaman isn't the ultimate goal of shamanism, it's just becoming an operant shaman, whereupon you can start the real stuff. Maybe Nysalorism is terribly lacking because Nysalor is gone, maybe not - but once you are an Illuminate, plenty of other mystic stuff is sitting around available for you to do anyway, much of it directly descended from Nysalorian tradition (Order of Day, New Consciousness, the Lunar Way, Umbarism, etc). Maybe that's even accepted by the Lunars - Nysaloran teachings are good for getting people Illuminated, they think they can take it from there. Some things you can do once Illuminated are very different historically, quite unrelated, like draconic consciousness - but fundamentally, Illumination is Illumination, say the current sources, so it is compatible even if historically disconnected, and we know Argrath cheerily combines Arkati, draconic, and even some Lunar traditions to make his SMU. Once you are Illuminated, you can learn more mysticism, just as a shaman can talk to spirits outside his tradition, or a sorcerer learn new spells. 

The argument can certainly be made that Nysalorism is a broken, incomplete system - indeed, the armies of about half a continent spent quite a lot of effort breaking it. Its missing a bunch of important stuff. But that doesn't mean that what remains isn't valid - and, in fact, if Illumination is the important bit (and current sources say it is), then clearly what remains of the Nysalorism system achieves the most important bit. And you can certainly say that teaching only Illumination without being pretty clear about what you do with it is obscenelyirresponsible, and many mystics might agree (certainly Arkat would). But none of that prevents the Illumination experience (Nysalorian or otherwise) being what is defined as the core of mysticism in Glorantha. 

On 2/4/2021 at 10:07 PM, Darius West said:

Well Patanjali is pretty good source material for some parts of mysticism, and it certainly has solid info and a broad cultural reach, influencing Indonesia and Southeast Asia, as well as India, so that's a very good choice.

I take your opinions about Patanjali every bit as seriously as I take your opinions about Satanism, or most other spiritual subjects. 

FWIW, while I have many reasons for studying it now, I first read Patanjali at all because Greg literally said to me, many years ago, that if I wanted to understand mysticism in Glorantha, that is where I should start. Greg being Greg, I'm sure he didn't really mean it just to apply to Glorantha and I take his opinions about spirituality quite seriously, but nevertheless, it is not an arbitrary choice to apply it to Glorantha. 

On 2/4/2021 at 10:07 PM, Darius West said:

On the other hand, the system it describes has precious little in common with Nysalorism, surely you must see that? 

Patanjali is quite clear that he describes a system, and a goal, but not the only possible method. The whole wide variation of later tantric practice flowers out of the basic ideas. He isn't the inspiration for Nysalor, but is a good guide to the framework within which various mystic traditions operate. And the basic idea that mystic insight is transformational, but only a major step towards a goal, and what is gained from that insight can still be used or misused, is from Patanjali (noting his discussions from Siddhi particularly, which match a lot of draconic mysticism too) - which can fit Nysaloran Illumination being valid as far as it goes, but failing to direct the Illuminate from there. 

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20 minutes ago, davecake said:

So, Illumination isn't the goal, it is a step along the way. It's not the equivalent of being a great mystic, it's taking the first steps into mysticism - like becoming a shaman isn't the ultimate goal of shamanism, it's just becoming an operant shaman, whereupon you can start the real stuff.

Basically, becoming a black belt - it doesn't mean you're amazing, it just means that you achieved a reasonable standard of competence and can be trusted with some stuff you couldn't before.

(Making Nysalorean Illumination the equivalent of McDojos, churning them out as quickly as possible with limited quality control?)

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12 minutes ago, Akhôrahil said:

Basically, becoming a black belt - it doesn't mean you're amazing, it just means that you achieved a reasonable standard of competence and can be trusted with some stuff you couldn't before.

(Making Nysalorean Illumination the equivalent of McDojos, churning them out as quickly as possible with limited quality control?)

Another way of thinking about it is that the few descriptions of Nysalorism we have as an active practice give very little guidance on how the mystic should interact with the world. (Which in the Lunar interpretation is because Nysalorism was an intermediate step, after the incomprehensible Atarks entity, the totally personalized Jernotian way, and the unfiltered, all at once Rashoranic Illumination.)

So you could look at it as producing people who have learned that Right Action requires Right Intent and power, but not necessarily what Right Action is, beyond a general sense that more enlightenment is good and enlightenment comes from learning that your opposite contains truth too. 

Which somewhat neatly explains why Nysalorists might deliberately spread a plague, if they were encountering Malkioni with a strong emphasis on the wholeness of their body and wanted to offer a hands-on lesson, and lacked a clear understanding that this was a bad idea for moral reasons. While not making Nysalor a giggling Gbaji in his palace.

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On 2/6/2021 at 1:29 AM, Eff said:

Another way of thinking about it is that the few descriptions of Nysalorism we have as an active practice give very little guidance on how the mystic should interact with the world.

I rather think that in the Bright Empire days, the idea was that once you were Illuminated, Nysalor was right there, you could ask him. 
I also think this didn’t actually work very well when he was alive either, and people half a continent away were getting Illuminated and then coming up with absolutely terrible ideas. 
But that interpretation is probably too generous to Nysalor. 

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3 hours ago, davecake said:

I rather think that in the Bright Empire days, the idea was that once you were Illuminated, Nysalor was right there, you could ask him. 
I also think this didn’t actually work very well when he was alive either, and people half a continent away were getting Illuminated and then coming up with absolutely terrible ideas. 
But that interpretation is probably too generous to Nysalor. 

At The Edge of Light Is Always Darkness, after all. 

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On 2/6/2021 at 3:48 AM, davecake said:

 Declaring Nysalor isn't real mysticism because you don't like its moral stance is like insisting Zorak Zoran or Thanatar isn't real worship because he doesn't enoble the spirit, or such nonsense. And that seems to be pretty much your argument against Nysaloran Illuminate - the first mistake being that moral arguments have any relevance at all, leaving aside the dubious substance of your moral arguments (they basically only make sense if you assume the tenets of most mysticism are false) - leading you to reject Illumination as a model for mysticism entirely - which is mistake 2, because not only is Illumination clearly stated to be the model for mystic experience, the obvious think mystic traditions have in common, it is a more flexible model than you claim it is, and you spend so much time rejecting it for the wrong reasons you've never thought about how it might work. 

The moral objection is quite a separate issue to my mind I assure you.  Please don't be confused about my position on that point.  What I don't see in any Nysalor cult write-up is any mention of meditation.  Instead we have riddles and a chance of awakening at sacred time.  That isn't mysticism.

Mysticism should be definitely about meditation techniques, austerities (if that is part of the mystical tradition in question), martial arts (ditto) and mystical feats.  Yes, philosophy and revelatory wisdom are also important, but on their own they should not constitute a mystical tradition, or all Lhankor Mhyites would be mystics, and they are not, they are more likely to be sorcerers.

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On 2/6/2021 at 1:52 AM, Ali the Helering said:

Unfortunately, this doesn't work in the RW either, where 'systems' of faith and belief are wildly unsystematic.  

The fun is in the plot holes.

That very much depends on the faith in question.  But yes, pretty much every heresy starts as a difference of opinion over plot holes, as you suggest.

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8 hours ago, Darius West said:

That very much depends on the faith in question.  But yes, pretty much every heresy starts as a difference of opinion over plot holes, as you suggest.

Missing the point, Darius, and certainly not what I was suggesting.  Heresies begin when somebody suggests that they have understood how a structure riddled with plot holes can be understood as being internally consistent.  Providing you understand it my way, of course!  

And no, it doesn't depend on the faith in question, because faith is about trust, not logical consistency.

8 hours ago, Darius West said:

Mysticism should be definitely about meditation techniques, austerities (if that is part of the mystical tradition in question), martial arts (ditto) and mystical feats.  Yes, philosophy and revelatory wisdom are also important, but on their own they should not constitute a mystical tradition, or all Lhankor Mhyites would be mystics, and they are not, they are more likely to be sorcerers.

Again, no.  Mysticism is not defined by what you want it to be, or 'what it should be definitely about' as you put it.

Does it involve meditation?  Well, in the strict sense of the word, meaning to 'think deeply about', no.  Some forms of mystical practise deliberately set out not to do so.  Austerities are, as you note, not essential.  Very few Carmelites or Myanmarese Theravadins would class themselves as martial artists.  Mystical feats may be a part of the process, but are seldom implicit.

I think you mean that mysticism should be about montage sequences from B-movies. 

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