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Shimozakura

On illumination and real world enlightenment

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Hello. I've been a fan of Glorantha for decades but I've only lately become active in the wider community. This is also my first (though not last) post on this forum.

I'm normally pretty shy at starting forum topics, but it so happens that I'm going to hold a talk at Ropecon, a Finnish role playing convention held on July 2018, on the subject of illumination: how it works in the real world on one hand and in Glorantha on the other. For the real world I'm mostly focusing on Japanese buddhism since that's what I'm most familiar with.

Just to make things clear (disclaimer time), my practical purpose for establishing this thread is to ask the fine people of this forum to help me sound out some ideas and gain tips and insight for the talk, although as a Gloranthist I'm also otherwise extremely interested in what will come up. In my talk I will publicly give credit and my heartfelt thanks to the participants of this thread, and post a link to the video of the talk here if it ever gets uploaded (some of them do). Please understand that some of the ideas you post here may end up in the talk, so if you don't want that to happen, please say so in your comment. And of course, no comment posted after the end of July 2018 will even make it in. I am not getting a monetary compensation for holding the talk, although it will gain me a free entry to the event.

Now, as I understand, enlightenment in Glorantha comes in two basic flavors: Nysalorian and Draconic illumination. Because Nysalorian revelations give you the power to ignore cult restrictions and embrace chaos with few repercussions, I've always had the understanding that the revelations themselves are chaotic in origin, or more accurately transcend the dichotomy between gods and chaos. I guess they are probably based on some insight that all stuff is fundamentally made of primal chaos or such. This form of illumination seems to hold up with the buddhist view that the world is based on nothingness and that the world is ultimately a chaotic and random existence.

At least Heroquest Glorantha treats draconic enlightenment as something similar to Nysalorean in terms of gaming rules, but I think the two are quite different. First, where Nysalorean illumination features a dichotomy of gods and chaos, the Draconic kind only focuses on dragons and how to become one. Godunya doesn't seem to do any chaotic or otherwise anti-draconic stuff while meditating to become a dragon (although who knows...), nor is chaos a big part of the Kralorean setting when compared to the lunar one. It's also hard to imagine Argrath's Dragonically illuminated warlocks sprouting tentacles. In short, if you consider all this and the stuff that draconewts and EWF do and did, draconic enlightenment seems to hold up better with another facet of real world enlightenment: the liberation of the soul, or the reaching of a transcended state of existence through meditation. As a side note, although the runic goal of illumination seems to be the gaining of the infinity rune, Orlanthi mystics are also doing something similar with the mastery rune high up on the mountains.

In short, it seems to me that the different Gloranthan traditions of illumination are drawing from different aspects of real world enlightenment, and that they are actually quite different from one another. What are your thoughts on this? Also, does anybody know where the illuminated Riddlers and draconic mystics go in the afterlife? Not the primordial chaos, I bet.

Edited by Shimozakura
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14 minutes ago, Shimozakura said:

Now, as I understand, enlightenment in Glorantha comes in two basic flavors: Nysalorian and Draconic illumination. Because Nysalorian revelations give you the power to ignore cult restrictions and embrace chaos with few repercussions, I've always had the understanding that the revelations themselves are chaotic in origin, or more accurately transcend the dichotomy between gods and chaos. I guess they are probably based on some insight that all stuff is fundamentally made of primal chaos or such. This form of illumination seems to hold up with the buddhist view that the world is based on nothingness and that the world is ultimately a chaotic and random existence.

Yes and no. The revelation of Illumination is the realization of or confrontation with the Ultimate, the source of all energies coursing through Glorantha, and the Void (which is where all the energies go).

The Void is the vast realm of raw potential unbound by rules or shape. Outside of the universe that is Glorantha, this is as it should be, and calling it "chaotic" or random is correct in the sense of modern physics.

Another word for Glorantha is Creation, and this refers to the origin of the universe. The raw potential of the Void got structured, was given rules and shape, tentatively at first with Darkness, and ever more strict afterwards. All this Creation was only possible by drawing upon the potential of the Void, through Creation.

At some point, the potential of the universe to accomodate more Creation was satiated. Depending on who you ask, further Creation then broke the world, whether you blame the Birth of Umath or ultimately the birth of Wakboth. The seams of the world were weakened, and the void's raw potential for both Creation and Destruction crept into the world. Unchecked by rules, it became the source of unchecked mutation and of annihilation, and was called Predark or Chaos.

The experience of Illumination usually comes at you unprepared, even if you have been meditating on this for ages. Nysalorean illumination comes as a shock, but it is possible to prepare yourself for that.

One result of illumination - whether Nysalorean or draconic - is the realization that Chaos is an expression of the Void just as much as Creation is an expression of the Void. Another result is the insight that even divine or runic energy is handed down from the Ultimate, and that divine retribution is just one such flow of energies, as much as rune magic cast by an initiate is. That realization is what provides the immunity to spirits of reprisal.

 

Unrealizaiton and refutation of the material world is at the heart of both draconic and Vithelan forms of mysticism. Practitioners usually approach this very slowly, through numerous steps of insights, until they achieve the confrontation with the Ultimate prepared, and finally they pass through the Ultimate. Practitioners who have confronted the Ultimate may confront others with its presence. This is called the Liberation Bolt, and has an effect not dissimilar from Illumination.

(Reading Heortling Mythology, there appear to be Element Rune variations of this - Orlanth's Liberating bolt Stormspear on p.92 appears to work just the same.)

 

The most detailed description of draconic enlightenment at least as per EWF is distributed over Heortling Mythology (p.137-139), History of the Heortling Peoples (48-49, 51-52)  and Revealed Mythologies  (p.106f) out of the Stafford Library. Ingolf's path to enlightenment (and loss of that through entanglement with the mundane world) names a number of draconic realities beyond mortal ken, alternatively described as draconic hells or as stages of purification on the way to Liberation. The known 7 stages aren't all of this way, and probably only one of many paths to draconic enlightenment, but absent other such sources the one we have to work with.

 

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What does it make of fusion with an element through learning the Great Secret of a Great God like Orlanth and Ernalda?

Is this just the same thing as the ultimate goal of mysticism but achieved through theism or is that a different / inferior goal?

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Shimozakura:

First of all, hello and welcome to the forum. Welcome aboard!

You pose some very interesting questions. As Joerg and others will no doubt cover Gloranthan illumination far better than I could hpoe to, I will limit myself to a more general comment.

You mention real-world illumination as a foil against which you will juxtapose varieties of Gloranthan illumination, presumably for the purposes of comparison and contrast. But is there just one kind of real world illumination? Are there many types of terrestrial humanocentric illumination or are there perhaps none, all illumination being an illusion and a self-justifying feed-back loop between our limited perceptions and minds on the one hand and an unknowable, non-causal and thoroughly alien universe on the other? These are highly abstract, ephemeral metaphysical concepts and they may be shaped as much by the organic "us" as occluded humans as by the rest of the physical and metaphysical forces which may be at work in "our" perceived universe. 

Thus there seems to be a need to first make a case for the existence of any kind of illumination, real-world or Gloranthan, before defining its various iterations in both realms and then comparing and contrasting them. So how do you propose to make a persuasive argument that there is real-world illumination?

The case for Gloranthan illumination is easier to make as you can point to the sole prime-mover of the Gloranthan cosmos, Greg Stafford, and say illumination exists because he willed it so. But in our world, barring the possible influence of the divine for a moment, billions of humans have pondered and millions have willed it over millennia. If illumination exists, then it does so in millions or perhaps billions of different flavours and iterations, since we have billions of tiny, nodal, prime-movers scattered through history and prehistory and the present, all puzzling out the perceived universe around them and trying to proclaim their version of it as "real". This multi-nodal and on-going metaphysical Genesis produces intellectual and spiritual interference patterns which tend to interact with each other and either cancel out some claims about ultimate truth and illumination which may be quite valid or tend to amplify other interpretations beyond their true value and "truthiness". Thus you have a nebulous metaphysical field in reality and a much clearer and, by Staffordian fiat, more concrete one in Glorantha. Can you really compare an indivisible and fixed-form Greek-Greg atom of metaphysics to a mutable and ever changing probability wave/cloud of our own biocentric quantum versions of reality and illumination? 

I better stop now, Wakboth is stirring and could threaten both universes. If you stare too hard and too long at the universe (or into the Abyss) you might just destroy it (and possibly remake it your own image!).

Cheers.

Evilroddy.

Edited by Evilroddy
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There are several schools of illumination.

1) Yelmic Illumination, which includes Nysaloran and Arkati.

2)  Draconic consciousness.

3)  God Learner wisdom.

4)  Vithelan Enlightenment

5) The Cult of Silence.

 

I really don't see acceptance and understanding of chaos as being necessary to Nysaloran Illumination.  It wasn't in the Empire of Light which became chaotic only in response to the threat of Arkat.  Insofar as I understand things, Nysalor was intent on eliminating the boundaries between Men and Gods (the dissolution of the Cosmic Compromise has happened in the Battle of Night and Day), while Arkat saw in this an attempt to restart the Gods War (cf the Arkati mural in HeroQuest Glorantha p207).  The Lunars have made chaos integral to their philosophy in order to heighten their illumination (ie when experiencing the worst, the Lunars accept no substitutes).

Argrath's Warlocks, which you mentioned, are not draconically illuminated.  They are illuminated from a wide variety of sources which as mentioned in HeroQuest Glorantha p30 sidebar include Draconism, Trickster, God Learnerism, Lunars, Orlanthi, Esrolian and the Many Suns.  They are actively syncretic in their use of wisdoms.  They do not use chaos but then they have no need to use chaos.  

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There are mystical practices all over the setting, like the Dayzatar cult, the Old Wind temple, and Sheng Seleris's path, so more than two main flavors, I'd say.  Analyzing them and saying whether they all involve illumination is up for interpretation.

In Glorantha writing I think the particular term enlightenment is used more than anywhere else in Kralorelan and Vithelan mythology, in Revealed Mythologies.  Also, although I'm not sure that it refers to mysticism exactly, Ascended Master, the term for what used to be called a Malkioni saint, sounds like a way to say buddha without using that word.

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We have some very interesting replies here, and I kinda guessed when I posted this that my division into Nysalorean (or Vithelan) illumination and Draconic wouldn't be able to cover it. Thanks to everybody for all the keywords this far, and apologies for totally missing the HQG p.30 sidebar.

Thank you Joerg for laying out the process in clear terms. I'm going to have to look at those sources myself as I am not familiar with the concepts of the Ultimate and the Void, but right now it sounds to me that the first steps of the creation myth of the universe are very Taoist in nature, as is right and proper. It also seems to correspond closely to the Buddhist idea about the nature of the universe, and seems to include the idea of the obliteration of the self.

As for Tarumath's question, I don't know about you guys but this seems to me like a different thing, since by learning the great secret the quester is trying to become one with a particular rune, not transcend it like in illumination. But then again we have Joerg's reference to the Orlanth's Liberating bolt, and I think Orlanth's more transcending adventures like the Baths of Nelat also hint at the discovery of cosmic truths. Any thoughts on this?

Like Evilroddy said, real world enlightenment is an elusive concept, and there is much controversy over thing like what enlightenment is, how do you achieve it and how do you know somebody is enlightened. In Japanese buddhism alone, some older sects consider enlightenment to be a permanent state of transcendence that is achieved either during one's life or after death, and they got into a very difficult position when some of the newers sects pointed a finger at them and told them to prove it. On the other hand, among some Zen buddhist sects enlightenment is understood as a transient state of awareness that can only be achieved momentarily during the act of meditation, and the life goal of a practitioner is to live their lives so that every activity becomes meditation.

So basically, you're right in that we don't know whether there actually exists a state called illumination and there is no clear idea on what it is. However, we can discuss it as a concept and a philosophy and compare what different people believe about it. In essence my talk is going to be more of a menagerie of different concepts of enlightenment, of what they include and what they don't, and what enlightenment could mean in your game.

Now, even though the issue of who is enlightened is more clear cut in Glorantha on the meta level, I don't think it'd actually be as clear to the world's denizens, even to scholars of illumination. Sure, if you have a lunar riddler with an obvious chaos feature you can put a blindfolded uroxi next to them to see if he goes off, or you can compare temple records to search for double initiates of incompatible religions. However, if a mystic is content to not worship chaos, to stay away from true dragons and to not join conflicting cults, then how do you tell he or she is a transcended mystic and not just another lunatic or a worshipper of an obscure god?

Regarding chaos, I think the point of whether or not one understands and accepts chaos is a crucial issue here. Methcalph says that an illuminati does not need to accept and understand it, but then again if you take Joerg's definition of illumination as a transcendent understanding of the cosmic foundations of creation, you'll basically have no choice on the matter. In many sects of real world Buddhism, it follows that since reality is by nature random and illusionary, judging anything as good or evil is pointless. If this holds true for Glorantha as well, an illuminati would have no reason not to accept Chaos. This being said, I do think metcalph has a point here since it's one thing to accept chaos as a cosmic truth and quite another to put it to practice. It's just that I think a true illuminati would probably refrain from using chaos for purely practical reasons.

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8 hours ago, Shimozakura said:

Thank you Joerg for laying out the process in clear terms. I'm going to have to look at those sources myself as I am not familiar with the concepts of the Ultimate and the Void, but right now it sounds to me that the first steps of the creation myth of the universe are very Taoist in nature, as is right and proper. It also seems to correspond closely to the Buddhist idea about the nature of the universe, and seems to include the idea of the obliteration of the self.

It's also quite similar to the Neo-Platonist view, although that doesn't deal so much with the Void as with the classification and organization of 'reality' (and, to be fair, Plotinus was very likely exposed to Eastern philosophical influences in his young adulthood).  The Ultimate corresponds to the One, and communion is reached through self-abnegation, with the final result bringing said obliteration.

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22 hours ago, Joerg said:

Yes and no.

Nice. Shimozakurasama, I might be sure to discuss Nysalor Riddles in the context of the koan as agent of the "great doubt." 

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19 hours ago, Yelm's Light said:

It's also quite similar to the Neo-Platonist view, although that doesn't deal so much with the Void as with the classification and organization of 'reality' (and, to be fair, Plotinus was very likely exposed to Eastern philosophical influences in his young adulthood).  The Ultimate corresponds to the One, and communion is reached through self-abnegation, with the final result bringing said obliteration.

Thanks for pointing this out to me. It's funny how you get these similarities with the Oriental religions when you go digging; apparently Stoicism was also significantly influenced by Oriental philosophy. I'll keep this in mind.

18 hours ago, scott-martin said:

Nice. Shimozakurasama, I might be sure to discuss Nysalor Riddles in the context of the koan as agent of the "great doubt.

Yes, the Riddles are definately going in, but what is this "great doubt"? Do you mean occlusion?

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25 minutes ago, Shimozakura said:

Yes, the Riddles are definately going in, but what is this "great doubt"? Do you mean occlusion?

Love it. Not "occlusion" in a conventional Gloranthan sense but  疑, “Great Doubt, Great Awakening; small doubt, small awakening; no doubt, no awakening.” 

The illuminate apprehends that the "great trusts" that hold the everyday cosmos together are in some way arbitrary and negotiable. Anyway, very excited to hear that you will be talking about these things for the good people of Ropecon.

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57 minutes ago, scott-martin said:

Love it. Not "occlusion" in a conventional Gloranthan sense but  疑, “Great Doubt, Great Awakening; small doubt, small awakening; no doubt, no awakening.”

Ah yes, the paradox where the will to achieve enlightenment becomes in itself a barrier to enlightenment. My heel of Achilles is that I've learned about many Buddhist concepts superfically but I'm not familiar with the Buddhist discourse so I'm lousy at recognizing the allusions. Here I thought you were referring to a Gloranthan concept and scoured the Guide for it. Yeah, that's something I'll definately take up.
ありがとうございます。

By the way, to re-iterate something that I said before, where do you think the enlightened go after death? Since they no longer perceive souls and god plane entities as meaningful, I doubt they'd be happy with an ordinary afterlife. Or maybe a better way to frame it would be to ask whether the soul of an illuminated person who is not powerful enough to escape the Underworld after death will be reborn or not? (I'm also assuming that even the enlightened have to adhere to the Great Compromise.) The connection for real world Buddhist practitioners is of course that those of them who endorse the idea of rebirth rely on enlightenment to end it.

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22 minutes ago, Shimozakura said:

By the way, to re-iterate something that I said before, where do you think the enlightened go after death? Since they no longer perceive souls and god plane entities as meaningful, I doubt they'd be happy with an ordinary afterlife. Or maybe a better way to frame it would be to ask whether the soul of an illuminated person who is not powerful enough to escape the Underworld after death will be reborn or not? (I'm also assuming that even the enlightened have to adhere to the Great Compromise.) The connection for real world Buddhist practitioners is of course that those of them who endorse the idea of rebirth rely on enlightenment to end it.

The enlightened have as many souls as do ordinary folk, or more. The Orlanthi recognize five elemental souls, the Dara Happans a sixpartite soul, and Lunar illuminates call themselves "sevened", indicating a seventh soul. Upon death, each of these souls will return to the appropriate origin, waiting to be returned to the cycle. The most dominant of these souls will probably carry much of the identity of the former living being.

Mystics who approach the Ultimate by shedding their ties to the world (as e.g. the draconic school that Obduran and Ingolf belonged to) overcome their elemental ties to the world in the first few stages of gradual enlightenment, without necessarily casting them off. Obduran demonstrated that you could be a fully awakened draconic worshiper and still an active worshiper of Orlanth, and Ingolf did the same (but failed to advance as far as Obduran). Not sure about worthies like Lorenkargatan or Isgangdrang, and pretty sure that the EWF Sun Dragon that became Emperor was a solar worshiper rather than a worshiper of Orlanth.

Ingolf's afterlife was chosen after he had squandered all of his draconic advances to Entanglement, and after he had started his mystical exploration a second time. When the Black Dragon came to fetch him, he was still sent to the most advanced state of being/unbeing that he had attained in his first enlightenment. It is unknown whether his second approach had brought him that far, or whether he had been successful to attain any stage of enlightenment at all. There is no mention of his other souls, even though he is a canonical hero of Orlanth who can be reached through worship, so apparently his Storm Soul made its way to Orlanth despite his draconic identity having been carried off to Kapertine.

 

 

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9 minutes ago, Shimozakura said:

By the way, to re-iterate something that I said before, where do you think the enlightened go after death? Since they no longer perceive souls and god plane entities as meaningful, I doubt they'd be happy with an ordinary afterlife. Or maybe a better way to frame it would be to ask whether the soul of an illuminated person who is not powerful enough to escape the Underworld after death will be reborn or not?

I think that depends entirely on the form of illumination within Glorantha. (I'm not gonna touch it on a real world level. Don't expect me to use any particular dialogue tailored towards Buddhism, my cultural word basis for this kind of thing comes from a very different source.) Lunars seem to be based around understanding the fundamentals of Glorantha at a mystical level, noticing the patterns, the flow and the realities that are hidden. Because of this it must include an acceptance of the place of Chaos as a non-invasive force.The Void itself is chaos. Past everything is dissolution into the stuff that made up reality, it can't be described, because description is part of reality. It can't truly be visualized, because visuals are part of reality. Its not formless, because form is a expression of reality. It can't be any thing one can possibly consider, because you don't have the grounds to consider what it is/isn't because it can't be not something or is something. Its like the language particularity in English that both 'Naught' and 'Aught' can hold the same meaning when spoken within certain contexts. In the grand scheme of things, nothing can matter as concepts such as something mattering, or something being, are not present when beyond the confines of reality, and reality itself is nothing but a expression of the _______. That is not temporary,  as temporarily itself is an expression of reality and not the void, as is permanency. As far as rational understanding from a in reality perspective goes, if the void reclaims? Alters? Adjusts? The nature of Glorantha, it won't have. Because Glorantha will have never been. Nor will any of the concepts Gloranthans have ever had to conceptualize Glorantha. There won't be a 'end' because there will have never been. Hayden Christensen was always Darth Vader, Han Solo never shot first. Cyrodill was never a jungle.

However at least in a lunar perspective, there's no implication they consider souls and god plane entities as not meaningful, at least to the average Illuminate. They're extra meaningful. Your soul has six parts, you, with the power of the Moon and the Red Goddess, are able to awaken your seventh part, and then you seek to merge those parts into a singular soul and become part of the divine, rather than a mortal.

Something else that has occurred to me, is that occlusion seems to be the state of mind many broos are in. They're aware of the all to a level that would drive most people mad, and their takeaway that life is completely unimportant. That the only real goal is temporal things that please them. Terrible lusts, exacting their hatred and self loathing on others, and reverence for the only concepts in reality that maintain some ability to care for them. (And they don't agree on what that is either, if its anything. But is usually Malia or Thed) But because they're aware of futility, in most broo it just enhances their unhappiness and leads tothe traditional broo belief that the 'best' they can hope for is annihilation from having existed. Because at least then they're free.

I actually think Draconic Illumination is the same route as Lunar Occlusion, but with the understanding of dragons as being part of infinity at an innate level, using Draconic ego to power through any sense of being crushed under the weight of the all. After all, as a dragon, its like a skyscraper down there, the All should feel beholden to ME.

That may just be because its funnier to me to think of them that way.

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3 hours ago, Shimozakura said:

Where do you think the enlightened go after death? Since they no longer perceive souls and god plane entities as meaningful, I doubt they'd be happy with an ordinary afterlife. 

Sheng Seleris went into a Lunar hell, for one. :-)

Arkat built his own Otherside.

I don't know what Argrath did, but I'm sure it was monomaniacal and fucked up.

Edited by Akhôrahil

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5 minutes ago, Akhôrahil said:

Sheng Seleris went into a Lunar hell, for one. It 🙂
 

It isn't quite clear whether Sheng was dead when he was placed in that Lunar hell. Hofstaring was very much alive when he was pulled down, but entering Hell usually means you die, even if your body remains fully functional.

Being carried off into some alien hell is a major wrench thrown into your proven "get free from Hell" path. Usually you need someone from the outside to carve a path to you, like Harmast did for both Arkat and Talor. The case is still open whether Belintar can be returned the same way, but King of Sartar does mention a Lord Harshax.

5 minutes ago, Akhôrahil said:

Arkat built his own Otherside.

All capital H heroes do, one way or another. Arkat of the many cults and the art of switching paths on the Other Side would have been able to explore beyond the neighborhood of the divine Other Sides through experimental heroquesting, and setting up his demesne there. The old concepts of Heroquesting included the possession of Free Will by mortals and heroes, something that could be expended to shape your own realm, setting it "in stone" or perhaps rather "in story".

This was part of how offering your body to Belintar was attractive - you would be transported to a virgin portion of the Holy Country Otherworld and be able to set up your very own Apple Lane (Gringle's seat of retirement), only much nicer and more magical. (But no need to forego the comfort of having Ulerian priestesses on site, or avatars if on the Other Side...)

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On 6/3/2018 at 3:34 AM, metcalph said:

There are several schools of illumination. [...]

3)  God Learner wisdom. 

Is it canonical that God Learnerism is a form of illumination? If anything, it strikes me as the opposite of illumination. Illumination is the perception of the unity of existence, the simultaneous acceptance of opposites, a kind of holism if you like. God Learnerism, meanwhile, is one of the closest things we come to science in Glorantha. It's analytical and comes to its conclusions by means of understanding the components of stuff. It works by logic and reduction. If anything, I would expect God Learners to be less illuminated than the average man on the street.

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Just now, Akhôrahil said:

Is it canonical that God Learnerism is a form of illumination? If anything, it strikes me as the opposite of illumination. Illumination is the perception of the unity of existence, the simultaneous acceptance of opposites, a kind of holism if you like. God Learnerism, meanwhile, is one of the closest things we come to science in Glorantha. It's analytical and comes to its conclusions by means of understanding the components of stuff. It works by logic and reduction. If anything, I would expect God Learners to be less illuminated than the average man on the street.

It's inferred from the following:

Quote

Most common in Peloria, Illumination
is known throughout Glorantha, most notably in
Kralorela, but also East Isles, Ralios, Jrustela, and
Vralos.

HeroQuest: Glorantha p203

There's only two things in Jrustela: Elder Races and God Learner Ruins.  As for the various criticisms of God Learner wisdom, I'd say they have been long described as "the most learned and least wise".  So in effect, their learning confers the benefit of illumination/infinity rune but they weren't were wise in what they did.

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2 hours ago, Akhôrahil said:

Is it canonical that God Learnerism is a form of illumination?

I don't feel it is.  And I don't think the presence of illumination in Jrustela provides any insight into the relationship of illumination with God Learnerism.  In my mind, God Learners simply learned how to manipulate the powers of the gods/runes with western/sorcerous techniques.

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The God Learners did steal Arkati secret knowledge, aftar all, so it is at least likely that they stumbled across riddles which might provide illumination. However, without heeding the body of Arkat's teachings about genuinity and respect, they may have gone down the same alley as the (vampire) kings of Tanisor did in the Dawn Age.

What is well known is that the God Learners had the means to deal with mere Spirits of Reprisal. Whether this was a protection spell, a spell removing the taint of transgression (possibly tapping it for magical energy), or the illuminate ability to avoid these spirits isn''t clear.

 

There is an entire body of inclusive mysticism in Vithela, the Venfornic practices. While Arkat's career consisted of "I am not Gbaji", in the end he (and Nysalor) overcame that barrier, and united both the two realms into which Glorantha had become divided, and themselves.

His role as the protector of the Hero Planes wasn't part of the Gbaji Wars. This means he created his order of Otherside Guardians mostly in the fifty years in Ralios.

But then I sometimes wonder whether Arkat wasn't a collective entity inhabiting several bodies at a time. If you read the description of his Troll Rebirth experience, a ount of the errors made by the participants leaves no room for the perect performance of a single body, yet the uz attest a perfect performance.

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9 hours ago, jajagappa said:

I don't feel it is.  And I don't think the presence of illumination in Jrustela provides any insight into the relationship of illumination with God Learnerism.  In my mind, God Learners simply learned how to manipulate the powers of the gods/runes with western/sorcerous techniques.

Perhaps I'll phrase it another way.

Illumination as defined in the HeroQuest: Glorantha rulebook) is acquisition of the Infinity Rune.  This includes insights that had nothing to do with Nysalor - for example the Kralori, the Dragons, the Cult of Silence and the Vithelans.

Illumination as everybody (You, Me, the average learned gloranthan) understands it are mystical insights derived from Nysalor.  This may be directly taught by him or it may be methods developed by his worshippers long after he was killed.  

Whatever wisdom the God Learners had, it was not illumination by the general definition because it did not proceed for the most part from Nysalor.  At the same time, it is illumination by the technical HeroQuest: Glorantha definition because acquisition of the infinity rune is the very definition of a Secret that Man was Not Meant to Know, which the God Learners were notorious for.  Yes, they obtained their state through studying western sorceries and philosophies rather than through happy-clappy dancing in the streets*.  The end-result of their wisdom was the same.

A couple of other data points.  God Learnerism is one of the insights being studied at the Sartarite Magical Union (HQG p30).  The other insights are various form of illumination (some more traditional than others).  The second is that when Argrath and Harrek left Jrustela, they stock up on God Learner secrets up the wazoo to become "more Gods then Men" (Guide to Glorantha p502)

*I'll also observe there are some schools of mysticism which says all that is necessary is to work hard and follow the rules (Ho Adara, Guide p537).  One could possibly include Diamondwarves as another form of illumination except that they don't behave as though they are illuminated because they are too thick ossified in behaviour to act as though they are illuminated.

 

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On 6/3/2018 at 10:29 AM, Shimozakura said:

As for Tarumath's question, I don't know about you guys but this seems to me like a different thing, since by learning the great secret the quester is trying to become one with a particular rune, not transcend it like in illumination. But then again we have Joerg's reference to the Orlanth's Liberating bolt, and I think Orlanth's more transcending adventures like the Baths of Nelat also hint at the discovery of cosmic truths. Any thoughts on this?

In the last few days I've had a few thoughts about it.

Something important to note is that no magical perspective is supposed to be superior to the others : mysticism is not 100% right about everything while even the transcendental high end of theism, animism and sorcery are inferior to the result of successful mysticism.

The main difference seems to be the old divide between orthodox and manifest mysticism, and only mysticism with its austerities is orthodox mysticism, everything else is manifest. 

Greg Stafford eventually dropped the terminology but from his later explanations it's less that the divide doesn't exist anymore but more that manifest mysticism became the transcendental high magic of theism, animism and sorcery (learning a Great Secret in Hero Wars is obviously the same thing as what manifest mystics were doing in Arcane Lore) that yet isn't mystical by definition because intermediaries are used; and orthodox mysticism became the only true mysticism with things like martial arts being normal magical powers obtained through deviant mystical practices that aren't paths to transcendance.

In Imperial Lunar Handbook vol 2, the end goal of lunar mysticism seems to be the same as learning the Great Secret of a God : you become a pure expression of a single Rune (Moon) but the text is clear about how is it transcendant and making you part of the All. 

All the examples we know involve elemental runes (or possibly elemental runes like Moon) but the few "mystical" gods with power runes that we know either seem to be a orthodox path (Dayzatar) or have Geases like Humakt, Yelmalio and Danfive Xaron, something that is indeed classified as a form of utilitarian, thus "failed" mysticism. (Like East Isles martial arts and maybe the Path of Immanent Mastery)

Illumination in HQ:G is represented as an infinite rune placed before the most appropriate rune for the way you became an Illuminate, so there is the notion that you connect to the infinite through a Rune. (Superheroes like Harrek are also like that too)

It's possible that transcendance always involve complete identification with a single Rune even for orthodox mystics : Generally Truth for Dayzatari mystics for example or varying depending on the individual.

Leaving the world (orthodox) or becoming one with it (manifest) could be a side-effect of the method used or of identifying yourself with an elemental or power rune. (Greg Stafford said that manifest mystics think that the physical world is the source of reality while orthodox ones think that energy is the source of reality)

On 6/4/2018 at 4:48 PM, Shimozakura said:

By the way, to re-iterate something that I said before, where do you think the enlightened go after death? Since they no longer perceive souls and god plane entities as meaningful, I doubt they'd be happy with an ordinary afterlife. Or maybe a better way to frame it would be to ask whether the soul of an illuminated person who is not powerful enough to escape the Underworld after death will be reborn or not? (I'm also assuming that even the enlightened have to adhere to the Great Compromise.) The connection for real world Buddhist practitioners is of course that those of them who endorse the idea of rebirth rely on enlightenment to end it.

Nothing special probably happen to dead Illuminated people : without completing a transcendental practice they are still as bound as anyone else even if they can ignore some magical and mental restrictions, they are not automatically accomplished mystics and a lot of them actually end up unhinged because they are merely deeply aware that the world is an illusion without having access to the Ultimate after the first contact that caused their Illumination.

(Unless they come in contact with a mystical system teaching them higher truths, something unlikely in western Genertela between the death of Nysalor and the Lunar Empire, one of the main reasons Illuminates have such a bad reputation)

They are probably judged by Daka Fal with gods and spirits accusing or defending depending on their actions, I don't think anything bad is guaranted to happen to them just because they are Illuminated but those who abused their Illumination are probably going to pay for it.

Obviously some can avoid that thanks to their powers (like Sir Ethilrist escaping the Underworld) but that's a Heroe / Demigod thing and most Illuminates are not Heroes or even Immortals.

It's possible that they lose their illumination if reincarnated though.

Truly enlightened people who stay in the world probably can't really be destroyed, maybe they stay in some way in Glorantha and will meet the fate of the orthodox mystics after the end of the world or even if they are just "killed", a bit like the Utuma of the dragons.

Dragonewts and other lesser dragons need to avoid entanglements and could be "orthodox" mystics, but it's probably mostly because their path is about reversing the draconic devolution to even become transcendental beings as they are so far down on the chain (succumbing to elemental temptations is bad because it makes them non-draconic), the Grand Ancestral Dragon and probably other elder dragons could be already transcendental in the "manifest" way and merely liberated when they are killed; maybe that's also what True Dragons who are ready for their Utuma are and why death liberates them from the world. (So the draconic path at least for dragonewts is a weird mix of orthodox and manifest mysticism)

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16 hours ago, metcalph said:

At the same time, it is illumination by the technical HeroQuest: Glorantha definition because acquisition of the infinity rune is the very definition of a Secret that Man was Not Meant to Know, which the God Learners were notorious for.  Yes, they obtained their state through studying western sorceries and philosophies rather than through happy-clappy dancing in the streets*.  The end-result of their wisdom was the same.

Sorry, I'm not buying that.  I think that's reading something via game rules that doesn't feel like it fits.  Wisdom/knowledge does not equal illumination.  

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11 minutes ago, Tarumath said:

Something important to note is that no magical perspective is supposed to be superior to the others : mysticism is not 100% right about everything while even the transcendental high end of theism, animism and sorcery are inferior to the result of successful mysticism.

The main difference seems to be the old divide between orthodox and manifest mysticism, and only mysticism with its austerities is orthodox mysticism, everything else is manifest. 

Greg Stafford eventually dropped the terminology but from his later explanations it's less that the divide doesn't exist anymore but more that manifest mysticism became the transcendental high magic of theism, animism and sorcery (learning a Great Secret in Hero Wars is obviously the same thing as what manifest mystics were doing in Arcane Lore) that yet isn't mystical by definition because intermediaries are used; and orthodox mysticism became the only true mysticism with things like martial arts being normal magical powers obtained through deviant mystical practices that aren't paths to transcendance.

In Imperial Lunar Handbook vol 2, the end goal of lunar mysticism seems to be the same as learning the Great Secret of a God : you become a pure expression of a single Rune (Moon) but the text is clear about how is it transcendant and making you part of the All. 

All the examples we know involve elemental runes (or possibly elemental runes like Moon) but the few "mystical" gods with power runes that we know either seem to be a orthodox path (Dayzatar) or have Geases like Humakt, Yelmalio and Danfive Xaron, something that is indeed classified as a form of utilitarian, thus "failed" mysticism. (Like East Isles martial arts and maybe the Path of Immanent Mastery)

In Revealed Mythologies, Venforn, called the Immense Master, is as much a student of Oorduren (the High God of Mysticism) as are Nenduren, Mashunasan and that other, Nothing, guy, and he proves that his path of integration with the All leads to the same mystical one-ness as do the austerities.

When looking at EWF Draconic Mysticism as described for Ingolf (and previously successfully undergone by Obduran), it appears to be a route of manifestation rather than austerities, but it also inherits from Godunya's teachings. Isgangdrang and his cabal of Great Dragon seats on the Third Council are said to have been practitioners of Immanent Mastery, and are named as an example for short cut draconic paths, but Isgangdrang started out as a student of Obduran just like Ingolf.

Obduran is the only named EWF mystic who achieved True Dragonhood and then performed Utuma to pass on beyond the boundaries of Glorantha, and it appears that he was the only practitioner who also retained his Orlanth ties to do so. But then Obduran's school/dojo was only one out of many which had developed between 590 and 780 in resistance to the council of Orlanthland, as continuation of Vistikos' "lite draconism" in the ecstatic Hunting and Waltzing movement which started the draconic consciousness movement. From the history of Domanand, the remote rebel schools persecuted by the Council of Orlanthland prior to Obduran gaining a seat there managed to provide quite a lot of magical and draconic manifestation or alliance to be taken that seriously.

The dragonewts practice both manifestation (through their rebirths and progress through the dragonewt stages) and abstention from the world's entanglements. I don't see any evidence for torturous austerities in their observed practices, apart perhaps from this wasp nest dance.

The Kralori and the Lunars do practice rather bad austerities to prepare for mystical revelations, as shown in the careers of Danfive Xaron and Sheng Seleris. Given the sometimes vastly variant groups in the EWF, there would probably been some schools using austerities, too, but they don't appear to have been mainstream.

But then, the outer realms visited by Ingolf are a sort of austerities, too, "searing away the very souls of the questers". Not that different from the Baths of Nelat or the Flame of Ehilm as purification rites in Orlanth myths, or exposure to Chaos in Lunar mysticism.

 

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