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ChildOfEru

Illumination in the Lunar Empire.

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In addition to what has been said before - the Lunars have the concept of Instruction. But the Lunar concept of a 'Natural' is not simply one who is naturally close to Illumination, it is one who does not require Instruction. Instruction isn't simply the pathway way to Illumination is Lunar thinking, it is the pathway to Illumination without Occlusion. The Lunars goal is not simply Illumination, it is Illumination without going mad. They acknowledge the process is not 100% successful. And the failures are sacred and revered etc - but neither desired or useful for the most part. 

And the Eastern mystics are more conservative. They are much more careful to avoid the equivalent of Occlusion, and their Illuminates seldom go mad, certainly not in an overt way. But their methods may take more than a lifetime. 

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Is Lunar illumination a lie? Is it really just an illusion? If the Red Godess met Gbaji (disguised as Wakboth?) in the underworld, was ambushed but later defeated her foe (?) and then traded places with her vanquished adversary, then isn't the Red Godess the essence of Gbaji in disguise? If the Red Godess is the channel through which the Empire teaches Nysalorian philosophy and discipline and if the Red Godess is Gbaji, then is the entire Lunar creed occlusion cloaked in illusion and deception? Man, this stuff scrambles my brain.

Cheers and good gaming.

Evilroddy.

Edited by Evilroddy
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If you were Illuminated, you'd understand. Gbaji just means deceiver. But if nothing is true, then aren't we all deceivers? And if nothing is true, then everything is permitted. 

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Davecake:

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If you were Illuminated, you'd understand. Gbaji just means deceiver. But if nothing is true, then aren't we all deceivers? And if nothing is true, then everything is permitted.

 

Given the Lunar Empire's penchant for excess and breaking the rules when it suits them, the empirical evidence implies that in the eyes of Lunar elites, everything IS permitted unless you're whacked in a dart war. So my question stands. Is Lunar illumination really just occlusion and madness hidden by illusion and deception on a continental scale? 

Also, given that many of the chief agents of all sides in the Hero Wars are illuminated in some form or another and further given that the Hero Wars will do great harm to the world and bring about the end of the Third Age and a new lesser(?) darkness, aren't such illuminated agents just catalysts for global destruction and ruin? Thus it would seem that just like in the times of Arkat's and Nysalor/Gbaji and in the times of the end of the Middle Sea Empires and the EWF, illumination in some form was a major contributor to the destruction or collapse of societies. Is illumination metaphysical chaos?

Cheers and good gaming.

Rod Robertson.

 

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The Lunar goddess, in her compassionate wisdom, gives us the Red Emperor and her Immortals to instruct and guide (and you know, occasionally execute) her faithful so that they do not fall too far into the path of Occlusion. Any allegations that the Emperor has fallen into Occlusion are clearly absurd (unless you manage to assassinate/execute and replace the Emperor, in which case they were clearly correct). Nothing is true - this is true of the Lunars philosophy, but it is also true of all other philosophies, and by acknowledging it the Lunars may seek the deeper truths denied to the heathens. The Lunars (or at least, the Illuminated elite) understand that their empire is based on illusion and deception - but so are all other empires and philosophies (especially including the Orlanthi), and at least the Lunars understand that it is so, and have something beyond that to rely on.  

It is of course true that incorrect use of Illuminated philosophy can lead to global destruction and ruin, should an occluded Illuminate (like Arkat) use their Illuminated insights in the service of hate and fear. When used correctly in the service of liberation and insight, Illumination can also lead to a Golden Age of peace and wisdom and wonders (like the Bright Empire, or the Lunar Empire itself). 

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To clarify a bit there - when I say everything is permitted, I mean the Lunars admit to no moral absolutes. None at all, so genocide, slavery, the use of chaos, torture etc can all be justified under some circumstances (though not routinely, mostly exceptional acts require exceptional circumstances). But they also believe that you should be motivated by compassion, as the goddess is, so there should be an outcome that justifies the means, and also that while there may be no absolute moral limits on your actions, in practice there should be many pragmatic and utilitarian limits on your actions required to make a functioning society (limits that, in Dara Happan tradition, they often enforce brutally). But ultimately, the only person able to make the moral judgement as to whether your actions are correct is you (of course, that doesn't mean they won't feel free to enforce consequences on you according to their judgement). So they have laws like anyone else, but are less inclined to make laws that simply regulate private morality (unless in the service of their state religion). 

It is important to note, however, that it is spiritual compassion that motivates them, rather than more mundane interpretation. Executing those who are fallen into grave spiritual error, even on a mass scale, can be seen as a compassionate act, liberating them from their downward path free to try again in the next life. Making war on the truly spiritually mistaken (like the Orlanthi) is compassionate, because you can free them from their spiritual error and lead them to liberation. Of course destroying the souls of the unlucky few is justified by the greater spiritual project. And so on. 

The Lunars truly do believe that they are doing the right thing. Or at least many of them do. Its almost impossible to stop this style of reasoning falling into at best brutal pragmatism, at worst dark cynicism. And that is also true of many Lunars. 

If anything separates Arkat and Nysalor, perhaps it is that Arkat does not believe that this goal of spiritual liberation justifies atrocities and other dubious moral acts. But Arkat later comes to believe that opposing that worldview justifies atrocities itself. 

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Davecakes:

Wow! You make me almost want to drink the crimson kool-aid! Lunar philosophy may be flexible and elastic enough to make room for religious intolerance and domination under the aegis of inclusiveness, ruthless exploitation of the conquered under the banner of social correction, liquidation of uncooperative or philosophically challenging populations as moral sanitation, promotion of destructive chaos and disorder in the service of imperial hegemony and growth, harnessing demonic powers as an ethical instrument of state power and necrotic self-pruning on a grand, societal scale to suit the needs of the chosen few. But somehow you make it seem ethically and morally consistent and in its grand design, ultimately benign!

That is the essence of the grand occlusion of the Lunar Way. If one is "we" or "us" then the "I" is irrelevant and personal responsibility for personal actions goes out the window. If all is done in the service of "Us" then millions of "I's" don't matter and can be swept away with the wave of a hand and those millions smeared upon the imperial regalia like an anointing oil, or a ghoulish jam. Isn't that the exact opposite of the lesson of the I Fought, We Won philosophy? Behold the renaissance of the Wakboth and Sedenya/Gbaji/Nysalor is its harbinger. Behold the renaissance of the Wakboth and Argrath/Harrek/Arkat is its harbinger. Heroes of illumination arise and nature revolts. Illumination is the void and the darkness made palatable by illusion and delusion/occlusion. Sevening is surrendering to the seven deadly sins and embracing the wicked way as the righteous path.

Woe to the world, Glorantha is doomed!

Cheers and good gaming.

Evilroddy.

Edited by Evilroddy
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15 hours ago, Evilroddy said:

Behold the renaissance of the Wakboth and Sedenya/Gbaji/Nysalor is its harbinger. Behold the renaissance of Wakboth and Argrath/Harrek/Arkat is its harbinger. Heroes of illumination arise and nature revolts. Illumination is the void and the darkness made palatable by illusion and delusion/occlusion. Sevening is surrendering to the seven deadly sins and embracing the wicked way as the righteous path.

Woe to the world, Glorantha is doomed!

You're not wrong...

Quote

In Closing

I must end this document by drawing attention to one of the three documents which contain the true word of Argrath. I refer in particular to a quote from, “Argrath and the Devil,” in another one of his few attributed quotations.

“Every 600 years you have come,” says Argrath...

Since this statement occurs in one of the three documents which agree upon the other things which we know Argrath said, we are obliged to also take this statement very seriously. After all, it is Argrath’s prophecy about the return of the Devil.

King of Sartar

Edited by David Scott

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The Crimson kool-aid is delicious! Possibly also chaotic! But delicious!

Seriously, one of the great things about Glorantha is that the Bad Guys are the Good Guys from their viewpoint, in almost every case. Even the overtly evil (say, most of Fonrit, or the Vadeli) think they are at worst just being realist or logical. Of course the Lunars have a worldview that makes them seem like wonderful people who are prepared to do what it takes to save the world. Obviously it justifies horrible atrocities on often fairly dubious grounds, but they aren't the first people to have thought that. 

And how can Nysalor and Arkat both be wrong? Surely if Nysalor/Sedenya is going to destroy the world, then it is important to do everything you can to oppose them, even if you adopt some methods you might find unpatable, right? 

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19 hours ago, davecake said:

And how can Nysalor and Arkat both be wrong? Surely if Nysalor/Sedenya is going to destroy the world, then it is important to do everything you can to oppose them, even if you adopt some methods you might find unpatable, right? 

Ah... Riddle #39.

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 My Orlanthi Friends have a great way to illuminate Lunars.

  Tie them to a stake on top of a hill, then pile on lots of logs and cast an ignite spell. They will be illuminated till morning of done right.

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Cults of Terror notwithstanding, I have generally seen Illumination as an ascetic tradition which is immanent not transcendent.  Obviously it once had a divine component, but that is gone now since Nysalor's death.  In essence, the whole thing is an exercise in chaotic moral relativism, and a trap you don't want to fall into unless you like having sex with ogres and broos.  What would Conan do?  Fail at even getting 1% when Thulsa Doom has to explain the riddle of steel to him.

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I think Nysalorism is generally an immanent tradition (everything is god, including them), but ascetism only really comes into it a lot later, post-Sheng. I don't think the Lunar approach to Illumination is ascetic, but they support the Order of Day (which is ascetic) as the approved path to Illumination for those who are not part of a Lunar cult. 

 

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On 8/25/2016 at 0:36 AM, davecake said:

To clarify a bit there - when I say everything is permitted, I mean the Lunars admit to no moral absolutes. None at all, so genocide, slavery, the use of chaos, torture etc can all be justified under some circumstances.

The Lunars truly do believe that they are doing the right thing. Or at least many of them do. Its almost impossible to stop this style of reasoning falling into at best brutal pragmatism, at worst dark cynicism. And that is also true of many Lunars.

The Lunars do have an afterlife.   My understanding is that they are either consigned to one of the lunar Hells or they go to the Red Moon and reside next to the Goddess with the possibility of being reborn.   Even the slaves in Oraya Satrapy will be reborn with a chance for a better life if they accept their role in the hierarchy of the world.  I do not know who does the judging but doesn't that keep a certain check on behavior of true Lunar believers? 

 

 

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3 hours ago, ChildOfEru said:

The Lunars do have an afterlife.   My understanding is that they are either consigned to one of the lunar Hells or they go to the Red Moon and reside next to the Goddess with the possibility of being reborn.   Even the slaves in Oraya Satrapy will be reborn with a chance for a better life if they accept their role in the hierarchy of the world.  I do not know who does the judging but doesn't that keep a certain check on behavior of true Lunar believers? 

 

 

Yes, the Lunars have an afterlife. But what happens to your in the Lunar afterlife is dependent on your embrace of the Lunar way and its insights, as judged by the goddess. Not by how non-Lunars might view the morality of your actions. 

And the Lunar afterlife itself is evidence that the Lunar way can include torture, slavery and chaos when necessary. 

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  I do not know who does the judging but doesn't that keep a certain check on behavior of true Lunar believers? 

ChildOfEnu:

The question is does that 'check' constrain illuminates? I am inclined to believe not. To me illumination is severance from the personal responsibility to a Gloranthan 'Natural Order', whatever particular order that might be. It is the triumph of ego-centric self-preoccupation over the very real social, spiritual and magical ties which bind and constrain Gloranthans into some sort of a community; a lesser-compromise which binds all to the web of society. It is an existential acceptance of the primacy of the void and the attendant liberation that goes with it. After all, it is hard to imagine how one can submit to and serve the void thus opening the door to unbridled service of the self. Instead of submission to some external order, be it social, religious, philisophical or magical, illumination severs the individual from the behavioural webs of Glorantha and turns the illuminate into the philisophical equivalent of Humakti; who are so potent because they have decoupled themselves from life and have focused upon serving death. Illuminates have likewise severed themselves from the web of ties which constrain their actions and their ambitions. Unrestrained, they become philisophical swords capable of chopping up established orders if doing so serves their goals, ambitions and desires. In a sense they too wield death but on a much grander scale than Humakti. For illuminates are capable of philisophically killing societies and the ties that bind multitudes of mortals to those societies. Who is more destructive? A temporal war-lord who kills tens of thousands or a Dragon Emperor who philosophically cancels an entire society in order to personally apotheosize to a higher plane of existence? One comits multiple murders. The other cancels the value of a web which binds millions and casts that web aside for personal reasons. That is sociopathic narcissism on the grandest scale. That is the 'you(s) fought, I won' occlusion which tears social orders apart and leads to the philisophical, spiritual and religious Balkanization and subsequent magical fragmentation which shreds societies and indeed Gloranthan nature/reality itself. Thus illumination is a catalyst for the void and thus is profoundly dangerous in all of its forms.

Cheers.

Evilroddy.

 

Edited by Evilroddy

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I think EvilRoddys thesis is way overstated. Which isn't to say that no one believes it. Though chopping up the established order is, of course, something that many people needs to be done now and then. 

The Dragon Emperors explicitly are stated to behave pretty much the opposite of this in Kralorelan sources - Daruda could have attained enlightenment and united with the void and left the world, but he did not to compassionately aid the spiritual life of others, and future (legitimate) Dragon Emperors have followed this example, and expliitly bind society together for its own good and keep it stable over long periods. 

Of course, the Dragon Emperors would agree that the version of Illumination practiced over there in Peloria, or by Sheng, is clearly every bit as evil and terrible as claimed. Or by Sekever. It is characteristic of Illumination that every school of Illumination seems to agree that Illumination is dangerous and terrible, but only when done wrong by the other guys (but of course they are the one group who knows how to do it right). 

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Every villain is a hero in his/her own mind's narrative. 

Daruda pre-existed time, so delaying enlightenment for the good of Kaorela's stability and cohesion is not a good argument. Cause and effect are irrelevant in a pre-temporal context.

Is the Path of Immanent Mastery a tool for social cohesion or a tool for controlling the Kralorelan polity and marshaling their spiritual essence for the service of the Dragon Emperors. A pyramid scheme for the apotheosis of the few at the expense of the many. I smell the taint of the God Learners and the EWF in this philosophy.

Cheers.

Evilroddy.

Edited by Evilroddy

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I think its interesting that the Illuminates all seem to acknowledge that Illumination is potentially very dangerous and disruptive, though. They all realise it is philosophical gunpower they are playing with. 

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And yet these illuminates continue to play; to grind and refine the powder to make for a more violent burn and then some light the fuse! Self-aware nihilists can still be self-absorbed nihilists. They serve themselves and enhance the void, but nature abhors the void and reacts with cataclysms and destruction by turning illuminated heroes into monsters and agents of destruction.

Cheers.

Rod Robertson.

Edited by Evilroddy

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I don't find anything in either East Isles orthodox mysticism or the Kralorelan Dragon Emperors to suggest that they are nihilists. The Empire does a few highly dubious things, but that is true of every empire. Perhaps the Easterners are on to something. Or if you want to get really conspiratorial, they maintain their facade much more skilfully and effectively - effectively enough it stops them from actually doing too many bad things. 

But skepticism about Arkat, the Lunar Empire, and Argrath would all appear to be somewhat warranted. 

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