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I think a simple description of illumination is it strips away conscience. There is a strong suggestion IMO that spirits of reprisal strike worshippers who do wrong because they feel guilty, they know they did wrong. But illuminates never feel guilty - anything they choose to do is reconciled and justified in their own minds.

At best an illuminate is a self righteous pain in the butt who never accepts their actions or intentions are morally questionable, at worst they are utterly corrupt, liberated from all restraints to indulge their darkest fantasies and vices, with not even the slightest twinge of regret for the pain their actions cause.

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I apologize for the length of this reply in advance.    It's hard to take this post seriously at all. "Chaos is definitely objectively the death of the world, or else Gloranthans would rev

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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2 hours ago, EricW said:

I think a simple description of illumination is it strips away conscience.

One who acts by dedicating all activities to the Ultimate Truth, giving up attachment, is not affected by sin; as a lotus leaf in water. - Bhavagad Gita

The Illuminate does not accept externally imposed morality about what is ethical to do. They accept only their own. The ‘Light Side’ or Arkati approach is that is is vital to develop a sense of ethics that you believe in, and that you follow because it is the right course of action, not because of an external imposition. The ‘Dark Side’, or Gbaji, path is to simply assume that without an external imposition of a moral code, there is no morality. 
 

Or to put it another way, Illumination is an experience of oneness with the universe. Some see this as a pathway to the dissolving away of the ego, and do the right thing because it is their role in the universe. Some lapse into solipsism, refusing to let go of their ego so instead believing that nothing matters but them. There may literally be no way to tell which category a given Illuminate is in objectively. 
 

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Vithelan mysticism, or ‘Eastern orthodox’ mysticism, is at its core renunciative in nature. The less you act, the less you are involved in the world, the better. This is its big break with Nysaloran forms, IMO. It neatly deals with the temptation of the dark side by encouraging its followers to give up desire at the same time as they seek oneness - by the time a mystic has attained Illumination they should also have learnt to control their desire, so no problem. 
There are problems with it, though. The first is that by renouncing desire and action, they have also given up performing good actions as well as bad. They merely pursue their own liberation. The second is that, of course, it is not foolproof, and it has its own share of antigods. 

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Nysalorism I think in practical effect is Illumination seen through the lens of a culture of divine worship. Or perhaps it’s just our perceptions of it. It liberates you from the constraints of external control, but practically the external thing it liberates you from is the gods, because it is in a context of almost everyone being a divine initiate. Arkati see that the gods control sometimes stops you from doing the right thing, because the gods are constrained by the limits of the world/the Compromise/their individual limits of magical expression/their natures. Those on the Gbaji path see that the gods control sometimes stops you from doing things you would very much like to do, and that is enough for them. But I think in teachings and practical effects, it is largely concerned with the relationship with the gods. 
 

I think Eastern Orthodox forms are concerned with the relationship to the world as a whole, and teach renunciation from the world as a whole. Much less exciting to play, because you mostly just sit and meditate. Eastern practical forms, like martial arts magic, are mostly supposed to just be a different path to the same thing - you learn to control the body so you can overcome and transcend it, you practice austerities, ascetism and self-denial because you are learning to deny the world piece by piece (as compared to the orthodox denying it all at once). But it grants cool useful powers along the way, which aren’t mystic magic per se (but combine with it quite practically), and are super useful, so it gets practiced for its own sake. 
 

Draconic mysticism is probably quite concerned with the nature of the mortal self. The first steps on the path are realizing that neither your rational mind or your instinctive animal self are you, or should control you. Later on the path you realize your physical self isn’t anything at all, but as illusory as the rest of the world. 
 

But that still leaves the West. Nysalorism clearly took root among the West in the First Age, and they got something out of it. What does a sorcerer get out of Nysaloran Illumination, apart from being able to join divine cults without it cramping their style? 
Or animists, for that matter?

A few times it’s hinted that Illumination lets you combine normally incompatible magic, like sorcerer-shamans, not just incompatible cults or Runes. This certainly seems to be something the Black Arkat school does. Most of the normal magical power of Illuminates is of this nature. They may even be able to use magic not normally usable at all - the EWF seemed to have humans learning Dragon Magic. A more developed form might be Red Goddess magic - adapting techniques or sorcery and spirit magic together in a way impossible to the non-Illuminated (that’s the Red Goddess magic from RQ3, which I understand will be returning in the Gods book). Mystic magic, by itself, may be very subtle, acting only on your own consciousness - but it allows other forms of magic to be used in impossible ways. 

Maybe Red Goddess magic IS a revival of otherwise lost Nysaloran magic? Maybe that was magic used by Nysaloran acolytes in the Bright Empire, that stopped working when Nysalor died? The Red Goddess version may even be inferior - Nysalor would not have been bound to the Lunar cycle. 

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22 hours ago, John Biles said:

A lot of Kralorelan mysticism is probably actually theistic and sorcerous stuff clad in mystical clothing. 

I agree - the actual Daruda mystic magic is limited, and largely used for the large scale magic that ties the empire together. Darudan magic I think largely gives them the freedom to manipulate all the various otherworlds flexibly, using power collected from the populace by methods resembling divine worship, and then applied by the mandarins and exarchs by methods resembling sorcery (at least, when the mandarins do it - the exarchs may be able to behave more like dragon gods). The Kralorelan empire is sort of a minority (urban, civilized) Darudist structure holding together a very disparate empire of divine and animist powers (especially native hsunchen  descended people’s), because the exarchs are able to make huge interventions into the various other worlds at need. The dragonewts have been incorporated into the same system. The exarchs and mandarins strive to transform themselves into having dragon souls - but practically, the Empire does this in large part to keep their magic working. 
A lot of the more personal scale Darudist magic, inside the formal imperial system and without, resembles mystic alchemy - using a combination of alchemical methods and austerities to transform the self (at least, looking at the example in the guide). The only thing is this conception too clearly resembles esoteric Taoism, and I’d like to make it more uniquely Gloranthan, and less obviously derived from Chinese sources.

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On 7/24/2020 at 1:36 AM, Nevermet said:

Western

  • Godlearners? [What schools from the Middle Sea Empire practiced this, if any?]

If the God Learners practiced a form of Illumination (and I think they did), it was the Malkioneranist school that did so. They basically picked it up through the use of the Impossible Landscapes book, a First Age magical artifact, which led them to a book called Five New Ways, that was essentially a Nysalor era book of magical practices (unclear whether it was Nysaloran or Arkati, but far more likely the latter). The text in MSE practically directly accuses them of being Dark Side Illuminates, saying their ideas came from Gbaji. 

The Malkioneranist school was large and influential, but I don't think ever a majority of the God Learners. The Makanist majority of the God Learners rejected the Malkioneranist idea that some understanding of the otherworld could only come through personal experience, and took a stance roughly equivalent to deism - that the One, the Invisible God, was Makan the Great Mind, and so could be explained and understood by rational methods alone, without resorting to personal revelation, and thus rejected the intellectual value of the Illumination experience. The Malkioneranists were much more open to a subjective, flexible, understanding of the world that drew on personal revelation - and were tolerated because they were able to enter, exploit, and eventually loot and destroy pagan otherworlds. And Illumination wasn't all of that, but was a part of it. 

As the Malkioneranists did not understand the moral teachings around Arkati or Eastern philosophies, but understood is only as magical method, and for moral guidance at first relied on the Abiding book but gradually convinced themselves that it was largely unnecessary, they were probably highly susceptible to the 'Dark Side' path.

I think the Malkioneranists considered Illumination to be the experience of momentary union with Kiona, the mind of the Invisible God as analyser and separator of the Eranschula, and so by extension comprehension of the entire world. I think the Irensavalists, while having a quite similar understanding of the experience of Illumination, see it as understanding the world from the point of view of the Demiurge - so it is a moral test, the equivalent of 'being taken to a high place and shown the world', and the way to past the test is to reject the opportunity it gives to master the world, and instead to continue to seek the One and dissolves the self in union with the One. Talor, like Arkat a secret Illuminate, conceals this knowledge in riddles and humour in his writings - it is ultimately essential for true union with the One, but to first become a Man of All and a Magus, and practice rigorous moral tests (the medispection rite). 

 

 

 

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9 hours ago, metcalph said:

Was was a failed IMO attempt to make the Arkati into a Glorantha version of Nephilim's Major Arcana.  

Don't be so hard on yourself Peter. That was published 18 years ago! Nephilim aside, what would you change about that article with hindsight? We've had all kinds of new material come to light.

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5 minutes ago, David Scott said:

Don't be so hard on yourself Peter. That was published 18 years ago! Nephilim aside, what would you change about that article with hindsight? We've had all kinds of new material come to light.

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 Arkat have been transformed by a God Learner).

I would have abandoned any idea of a mystical attack method.  I have come to the realization that what we called mystical magic back then is really just your standard RuneQuest Magic with some deviations from the rules.  I mentioned examples of these deviations elsewhere in prior posts (improving Rune Spells by ignoring the Cosmic Compromise, Ingoring Spirit Magic when calculating Free INT etc).  

I would have abandoned metaphysical reasons for the Arkati's secrecy and also their constant intruige and treason.  The Arkati can lie, cheat and steal from each other without there having to be a magical reasons.  Rather than one faction per city, I would have aimed for about three or four such cults per city and shown how it mirrored the city's factions and also external relations (with a worked example of three cities - two in one country and a third in another).  

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6 hours ago, metcalph said:

 Rather than one faction per city, I would have aimed for about three or four such cults per city and shown how it mirrored the city's factions and also external relations (with a worked example of three cities - two in one country and a third in another).  

This also seems like the natural MGF decision.

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On 7/24/2020 at 10:17 AM, John Biles said:

A lot of Kralorelan mysticism is probably actually theistic and sorcerous stuff clad in mystical clothing. 

I believe the standard take on mysticism has moved from its own fourth type of magic (as in HW), to something that can be practiced within each of the big three.

At least, this is what Robin Laws tells me.

So the things you mention would not be ”improper” mysticism, merely more outwards.

On 7/24/2020 at 10:17 AM, John Biles said:

 The actual mystics withdraw to monasteries and stay there to pursue ever higher levels of spiritual insight and sometimes people consult them.  They accumlate huge powers but there's an emphasis on *not using them* because they will tangle you in the world.  

This can still be true under the above scheme.

On 7/24/2020 at 10:17 AM, John Biles said:

When the Godlearners were there, they corrupted a lot of mysticism to be 'do disciplines, gain powers, hit people with them'.  Where you gained a certain amount of insight, then used it to entangle yourself in the world.

There is likely still a fair amount of that.

We know that the Kralori higher-ups are unimpressed with The Path of Immanent Mastery, believing (correctly, I would say) that it produces stunted excuses for dragons (they only keep them around because they’re practical). I would imagine that they would also be less than impressed with the way the Lunars churn out quickly mass-produced Illuminates with a lean towards madness.

It seems like self-discipline and decades of meditation would produce a better class of Illuminates than hitting people with Riddles.

Edited by Akhôrahil
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How Arkati get Illuminated.

Jeff has said more than once that he views that Arkati as neo-platonists of the Imablichus school of thought.  To wit, this is participation in the worship of the Gods in order to approach the One.  Translating this into Glorantha, where the Malkioni wizards eschew worship of pagan gods, the Arkati actively participate in their worship.

At the same time as they are worshipping the Gods publically, they are also applying secret sorcerous rituals (of Hrestoli origin) to unite their consciousness with that of the Gods.  Success gives them +1% of enlightenment come the next holy day or spiritually important moment.  The base chance is INT+POW but there is some scope for improvement depending how how  in-step with the God the Arkati is.  

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23 hours ago, Akhôrahil said:

It seems like self-discipline and decades of meditation would produce a better class of Illuminates than hitting people with Riddles.

Oh, you know. Some people have polished tiles to sit on and are willing to wait decades. Others are either less patient or for whatever reason exist in a transmission where shocks are the only levers of consciousness available. And then there are those who have access to the meditative systems but decide that what a particular student really needs is a sudden jolt or other random encounter (警策). "Better" is a work in progress. 

If nothing else it shuts the barbarians up for a little bit (couple centuries), letting you get back to what you really enjoy. 

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On 7/25/2020 at 4:12 PM, Akhôrahil said:

It seems like self-discipline and decades of meditation would produce a better class of Illuminates than hitting people with Riddles.

One way to model that is what I do in Secrets of Dorastor. You have an Illumination skill that can be increased by answering riddles, going around the Puzzle Canal in a certain way, watching certain Sacred Plays, studying the nature of Illumination or whatever,. Then, if you roll a Special or critical success at Sacred Time to get a new ability, or a current ability at a higher level.

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On 7/25/2020 at 12:31 PM, EricW said:

I think a simple description of illumination is it strips away conscience. There is a strong suggestion IMO that spirits of reprisal strike worshippers who do wrong because they feel guilty, they know they did wrong. But illuminates never feel guilty - anything they choose to do is reconciled and justified in their own minds.

At best an illuminate is a self righteous pain in the butt who never accepts their actions or intentions are morally questionable, at worst they are utterly corrupt, liberated from all restraints to indulge their darkest fantasies and vices, with not even the slightest twinge of regret for the pain their actions cause.

This is charmingly cynical and likely quite accurate.  It certainly seems to describe the actions and motivations of most illuminates from the literature.  Everyone is down on Argrath apparently for being a bit too genocidal with regards to the Monster Empire.  Beat Pot is a hypocritical monster.  Jar-Eel is a fascist poster girl with no conscience to speak of.  Then there's Ralzakark...  Yeah... Ralzakark...  And there's Oddi the Keen, who joins up with Ralzakark before ultimately betraying him.  I could get into how Arkat and Nysalor are both Gbaji.  So, are all illuminates a pack of axeholes or what?  

"It’s impossible for words to describe what is necessary to those who do not know what horror means. Horror. Horror has a face… and you must make a friend of horror. Horror and moral terror are your friends. If they are not then they are enemies to be feared." -Col. Kurtz

Edited by Darius West
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6 hours ago, Darius West said:

This is charmingly cynical and likely quite accurate.  It certainly seems to describe the actions and motivations of most illuminates from the literature.  Everyone is down on Argrath apparently for being a bit too genocidal with regards to the Monster Empire.  Beat Pot is a hypocritical monster.  Jar-Eel is a fascist poster girl with no conscience to speak of.  Then there's Ralzakark...  Yeah... Ralzakark...  And there's Oddi the Keen, who joins up with Ralzakark before ultimately betraying him.  I could get into how Arkat and Nysalor are both Gbaji.  So, are all illuminates a pack of axeholes or what?  

 

I think that a Gloranthan hero of sufficient power, regardless of illumination, is inevitably going to be seen as a bit of an inhuman monster by somebody.  Glorantha as a setting can be seen as going all in on the quote from Firefly, "It's my estimation that every man ever got a statue made of him was one kind of a son of a bitch or another."

In this discussion, illumination is one path to power, and as such, Mal's maxim applies.  But it's less about the metaphysics and more about the power.

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On 7/28/2020 at 8:54 AM, Nevermet said:

I think that a Gloranthan hero of sufficient power, regardless of illumination, is inevitably going to be seen as a bit of an inhuman monster by somebody.  Glorantha as a setting can be seen as going all in on the quote from Firefly, "It's my estimation that every man ever got a statue made of him was one kind of a son of a bitch or another."

In this discussion, illumination is one path to power, and as such, Mal's maxim applies.  But it's less about the metaphysics and more about the power.

I can agree with you to a degree, but remember that nothing opens the floodgates on power in Glorantha like illumination.  Suddenly the illuminate is able to use and abuse magic like never before, and the only consequence is social censure by those who dare to speak truth to power in an age where massacre of enemies is seen as a good thing.  Illumination is a license to riot handed down by some very questionable gods who are all-too sympathetic to chaos imo.  In many ways, due to its covert nature, Illumination is more destructive of the world than actual chaos features and chaos monsters, as it subverts the powers of deities that normally fight against chaos and hands them to mortals who are apparently now no longer able to understand that chaos is utterly inimical to the life of everything in Glorantha and actively wants to destroy the world.

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17 hours ago, Darius West said:

I can agree with you to a degree, but remember that nothing opens the floodgates on power in Glorantha like illumination.  Suddenly the illuminate is able to use and abuse magic like never before, and the only consequence is social censure by those who dare to speak truth to power in an age where massacre of enemies is seen as a good thing.  Illumination is a license to riot handed down by some very questionable gods who are all-too sympathetic to chaos imo.  In many ways, due to its covert nature, Illumination is more destructive of the world than actual chaos features and chaos monsters, as it subverts the powers of deities that normally fight against chaos and hands them to mortals who are apparently now no longer able to understand that chaos is utterly inimical to the life of everything in Glorantha and actively wants to destroy the world.

I think it is worse than that. Illumination mocks the very idea of the victory over chaos.

Before illumination "I fought we won" was a glorious last stand, Gloranthans victorious over the ultimate enemy. Illumination taints this victory, by creating a suggestion that people only stood against chaos because they were obligated to do so on pain of punishment from their gods, not because they chose to do so of their own free will. Gbaji's empire, where "entire cities sprouted chaos features", proved that when people are truly liberated, many of them don't choose to oppose chaos, they embrace it.

Arkat redeemed the corruption of Gbaji, by demonstrating even completely liberated people sometimes choose to do the right thing - but Arkat's is a fragile victory, constantly threatened and undermined by the rise of groups who demonstrate their utter disregard for the rules, like the EWF, the God learners and the Lunar Empire. Perhaps even Argrath sometimes threatens the victory of Arkat, by his acceptance of forbidden draconic knowledge for the sake of expedience.

Edited by EricW
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14 minutes ago, EricW said:

I think it is worse than that. Illumination mocks the very idea of the victory over chaos.

Before illumination "I fought we won" was a glorious last stand, Gloranthans victorious over the ultimate enemy. Illumination taints this victory, by creating a suggestion that people only stood against chaos because they were obligated to do so on pain of punishment from their gods, not because they chose to do so of their own free will. Gbaji's empire, where "entire cities sprouted chaos features", proved that when people are truly liberated, many of them don't choose to oppose chaos, they embrace it.

I shouldn't jump into this kind of argument, but I think that you are missing a truth that is very important: Glorantha is not all about Chaos. Chaos is ultimately going to desrroy everything, yes. That's a similar inevitable outcome as is our universe drifting apart to the point of isolation of pretty much everything behind the event horizon of speed of light.

But IFWW cannot be cheapened. It was a question of existence or not, of civilization or not.

.Without I  Fought We Won, there would be no Godtime remaining connected to Glorantha, IMO. Most of the Timeless matter of Golden Age Glorantha (and Storm Age/Lesser Darkness Glorantha) was lost. There are gaps and disjoints in the Monomyth beecause there are important things missing in the collective memory of the surviving cultures pf Glorantha.

Illumination can be a state of mind to accept that fact, to acknowledge that imperfection, the patchwork nature of Godtime, and the necessary flaws in the myths.

 

You don't have to embrace Chaos when being an illuminate.

But let's take a look at an illuminate who did embrace Chaos:

14 minutes ago, EricW said:

Arkat redeemed the corruption of Gbaji, by demonstrating even completely liberated people sometimes choose to do the right thing - but Arkat's is a fragile victory, constantly threatened and undermined by the rise of groups who demonstrate their utter disregard for the rules, like the EWF, the God learners and the Lunar Empire. Perhaps even Argrath sometimes threatens the victory of Arkat, by his acceptance of forbidden draconic knowledge for the sake of expedience.

 

There is no clear information whether Gbaji was destroyed in Dorastor, or whether the curse that turned the once beautiful land into a Chaos Waste worse than the Chaos pits left over from Godtime (such as the Footprint, Snake Pipe Hollow, the Devil's Marsh) was not the triumph of Gbaji.

 

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21 minutes ago, Joerg said:

I shouldn't jump into this kind of argument, but I think that you are missing a truth that is very important: Glorantha is not all about Chaos. Chaos is ultimately going to desrroy everything, yes. That's a similar inevitable outcome as is our universe drifting apart to the point of isolation of pretty much everything behind the event horizon of speed of light.

But IFWW cannot be cheapened. It was a question of existence or not, of civilization or not.

.Without I  Fought We Won, there would be no Godtime remaining connected to Glorantha, IMO. Most of the Timeless matter of Golden Age Glorantha (and Storm Age/Lesser Darkness Glorantha) was lost. There are gaps and disjoints in the Monomyth beecause there are important things missing in the collective memory of the surviving cultures pf Glorantha.

Illumination can be a state of mind to accept that fact, to acknowledge that imperfection, the patchwork nature of Godtime, and the necessary flaws in the myths.

 

You don't have to embrace Chaos when being an illuminate.

But let's take a look at an illuminate who did embrace Chaos:

Of course you don't have to embrace chaos if you are illuminated, the problem is when liberated from cult obligations or social conscience a lot of people do embrace chaos.

21 minutes ago, Joerg said:

There is no clear information whether Gbaji was destroyed in Dorastor, or whether the curse that turned the once beautiful land into a Chaos Waste worse than the Chaos pits left over from Godtime (such as the Footprint, Snake Pipe Hollow, the Devil's Marsh) was not the triumph of Gbaji.

 

There is the example of Laughing Talor who "cursed" the Telmori. More likely he forced a resolution on the Telmori, stripped away the glamour, revealing them for who they truly were.

I wonder if Dorastor was the same thing on a larger scale. Under the dazzling light of Nysalor/Gbaji it was perfectly reasonable for your neighbour the vampire to invite you for dinner and sip a little blood, while providing good food and wine, and friendly conversation - its what friends do. But when that light was removed, people suddenly discovered they were living next door to a frigging vampire.

Obviously all this is highly speculative.

Edited by EricW
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On 7/23/2020 at 8:43 PM, Eff said:

The broad point is that Illumination allows you to peek outside of your cultural perspective for a bit and understand truths that are normally veiled. 

And role-playing is, of course, the act of  peeking *inside* a cultural perspective for a bit - an act of Illumination that I don't think was lost on the authors.

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On 7/25/2020 at 7:22 AM, davecake said:

Or to put it another way, Illumination is an experience of oneness with the universe.

Yes. It's helpful you restated the self-identity with the universe. 

@Eff had it covered, but the philosophical issue is that Glorantha accepts (personifies, mythologises) cultural relativism. Illumination can be seen as a way out of that relativism by adopting some vantage point beyond the competing world views (is not subject to their limitations) but includes all those world views (as objects of understanding) as differentiated parts of itself (so as not to obliterate their differences from each other and itself).

So you get the Many is the One and the ultimate (but not proximate) Unity of the cosmos that can only be understood by an elite that achieve a special perspective. You get similar themes from the Upanishads to Hegel, the Marxist-Leninist Party, to current Intersubjectivity. Surely many more. 

The details can be fun for fluff. The phases of the Moon - differentiated oneness. The Void - undifferentiated oneness. What is the eye that sees itself? 

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11 hours ago, EricW said:

There is the example of Laughing Talor who "cursed" the Telmori. More likely he forced a resolution on the Telmori, stripped away the glamour, revealing them for who they truly were.

Talor was probably Illuminated, like his father, Arkat.

 

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