A Dissonant Resonance Compass is the title to a curious little figure in the second public book by Tapio Kotkavuori. It’s a scruffy drawing and the idea is not expanded much further in the accompanying text, and yet there’s something quite deep in this rather simple concept pertaining to the Left Hand Path.
One could define the LHP as putting first the aim of resonance with your Being, and therefore opting for possible dissonance with the rest of the world. Here, the Being refers to (the experience of) the more stable and coherent parts of the self; and the self should be understood as virtually everything that can be attributed to the individual (whether she wants or not). The latter term adheres to ‘identity’ and ‘identification’, both by the subject and the onlookers, while the former is the real manifestation of the individual Black Flame.
Of the extremes of resonance and dissonance, only resonance is truly important for the LHP. A wilfully dissonant stance may be a worthwhile tool at times, but more often it simply is the natural outcome of the Work that is needed to be done in order to tune the self to the inner resonance. This puts the priorities right: for striving to be dissident is to seek to oppose something defined from without, instead of looking within to find an individual if not outright isolate meaning to one’s Work.
One key to understanding resonance is the idea of rhythm. The Setian context for this was also provided by Tapio Kotkavuori through his Work in the Heart Element. The ebb and the flow of the pulse of the Heart puts Initiation onto cyclic, or periodic tracks – Remanifest being one of the greater Workings of this nature.
The pulse consists of the Beat and the Pause. During the Beat, the possibility to a sacred experience opens to the Initiate, and Work may Become real. The Pause echoes the Beat, giving the background time for transmission and reception. It is the spread of the pulse and the silence of the deeper potential arising for the next Beat.
This is the basic setting for the internal cycles. Since the Heart is an utterly holistic concept – as in being the central organ that communicates the Needs on all levels of the self – these cycles take all kinds of forms from the tangibly mundane to the most abstract and ethereal.
The external cycles work in much the same way. But again, our power over the external cycles is very limited. The world will make a sucker out of everyone, eventually. To stress therefore is nonproductive, and the Stoic stance preferable. The only real matter to be heeded is this: one’s Work in the objective universe, ie. the strength of the magical link, is measured in terms of seizing the most opportune chances to transmit or mix the internal rhythm among the network of the external rhythms. However, it is more important to simply act on the internal need rather than to desperately try to time it on the external. Do the Work and take what comes.
The internal cycles, too, are chaotic, but the more strongly one is aligned with the Being, as in resonance, the more one actually benefits from those oncoming cycles. Make no mistake: the cycles are and will be oncoming no matter what. They will beat upon you whether you wanted that or not. The question is, how are you going to deal with it; and this is one of the keys to understanding the LHP on a deeper level. Where lies your devotion?
The Initiate makes the cycles work for the Rhythm of Becoming: the stronger the Resonance, the more one gets out of the ride. In that potentia lies the real, tangible Pulse of the Heart and the dynamic Source-Aim of our Work.
For the Initiate, the tangibility of such cycles comes in the form of refining the Work of the Adept. This can be summarized by the three principles of the renowned sushi chef Jiro Ono:
- Fall in love with your work.
- Do not complain about your work.
- Seek to constantly improve your technique in work.
The first principle implies the imperative to fall in love with Work as a key to Xeper, as opposed to external stratification which anyway is fleeting and illusory. Such rewards do serve certain purpose and are important for the balance in the long run, but ultimately they do not serve your Aim.
The above may be a source of strong dissonance; hence the second principle. The path of the Adept is the path of a Hero Becoming God. On that road, obstacles are building material, anguish reveals you a great deal of your inner workings, and the defeats are moments for Remembering your Aim (Aletheia).
Any attempt towards perfect contentment is eventually thwarted by the necessity of Runa. We do not know and cannot know what is ahead. That leaves us uncertainty and fear: but these are only emotional indicators that you are going into the unknown. One does not become a Hero if the path is easy.
As for the third principle, there is a highly relevant passage in Hagakure:
A certain swordsman in his declining years said the following: In one’s life, there are levels in the pursuit of study. In the lowest level, a person studies but nothing comes of it, and he feels that both he and others are unskillful. At this point he is worthless. In the middle level he is still useless but is aware of his own insufficiencies and can also see the insufficiencies of others. In a higher level he has pride concerning his own ability, rejoices in praise from others, and laments the lack of ability in his fellows. This man has worth. In the highest level a man has the look of knowing nothing.
These are the levels in general. But there is one transcending level, and this is the most excellent of all. This person is aware of the endlessness of entering deeply into a certain Way and never thinks of himself as having finished. He truly knows his own insufficiencies and never in his whole life thinks that he has succeeded. He has no thoughts of pride but with self-abasement knows the Way to the end. It is said that Master Yagyu once remarked, ‘I do not know the way to defeat others, but the way to defeat myself.’
Throughout your life advance daily, becoming more skillful than yesterday, more skillful than today. This is never-ending.