At my local Buddhist meeting this evening, we had toso. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, it refers to an extended period of chanting nam myoho renge kyo (NMYRK). If you’ve never heard the chant, here’s a youtube on what it sounds like:
While we were chanting, one of our members kept glancing back toward the corner where I was…
If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete.Siddhartha Gautama (via natural-magics)
On April 13, 2014, a white supremacist perpetuated a hate crime on a Jewish Community Center. Some mass media outletshave attempted to identify the shooter as a Heathen, but I’d like to take a moment to reiterate that his values (or rather, his lack thereof) are not shared by Heathenry or Northern Tradition Paganism at large. The Troth has already issued a statement on using the Northern…
The Supernatural fandom finally did it! We pulled a Coulson Gabriel is coming back
There is a disturbing trend out there that I’ve witnessed.
Loki as Worldbreaker is portrayed as being terrifying and unapproachable — “You should expect your life to be shit, He is Worldbreaker, after all!”
Loki as Worldbreaker is seen as an aspect of the God that only the most elite and special people work with. “Oh. Well, I work with Worldbreaker, so…”
This bothers me because I don’t feel that it is a fair representation of Loki, or because it creates some kind of class dynamic that shouldn’t exist within any religion. No one is better than anyone for which “aspect” of a God they work with. Working with Worldbreaker doesn’t give you some kind of shiny gold medal.
Working with Worldbreaker doesn’t mean you should expect your life to be shit, or expect to be hurt by Him. Worldbreaker can absolutely be terrifying — Worldbreaker is Loki after He has, Himself, been broken and there is certainly wrath there— but I feel like that is essentialist. It over simplifies something that is far too complex for us to comprehend — a God.
Worldbreaker understands the broken. Worldbreaker understands wave upon wave of crushing anxiety. Worldbreaker understands depression, loss, the effects of physical and mental anguish. Worldbreaker understands the abused and those experiencing mental illness.
Worldbreaker can be nurturing and understanding. Compassionate and caring. Worldbreaker is the aspect of Loki I worked with to get me to where I am now with my PTSD and depression. It is still there, but I know how to handle it better now. Even if I never learned to cope with it how I have, Worldbreaker wouldn’t spurn me and turn into a terror — He’d give me the comfort and knowledge that He understands. If no one else understands what I am thinking and feeling, He understands.
In some ways, I feel like the elitism that gets attached to Worldbreaker goes hand in hand with how trauma and abuse are portrayed in popular culture as something that is almost a “badge of honor” or the ultimate character builder. You see it a lot of times in fandom… the abusive back stories of some characters are held up and glorified in a way that is honestly disturbing to actual survivors of abuse. I bring up fandom because there are sometimes intersections between how fandoms operate and generally how religion operates on the platform of Tumblr. People deal with their experiences in different ways, but there is no reason we should be glorifying past abuses, illnesses, and anxieties as if they somehow make a person more Worthy or Better for having experienced it.
Different things impact people in different ways, and of course people deal with things in different ways. There is a difference, I feel, between talking about the myriad of issues you may experience and glorifying them. Let’s use depression as an example. Someone, like me, may mention their depression often on their blog as it is a part of their life. They may talk about it a lot in the context of their religious experiences, or other more mundane experiences and the role it plays in their life. Depression is often an ever present fact of life. This person may also talk about the ways they’re coping with it. However, if this person were invested in glorifying their depression, it would obtain an almost mythic quality. “My depression allows me to better understand this”, “I suffer from depression so I comprehend this better than you do!” The depression is spoken of in a way that elevates it beyond something that is a day to day fact of someone’s life, to something that others should strive for or should maintain for whatever reason. There is no emphasis on management, no discussion of management, only the further elevation of the depressed state. A sense that the depression somehow marks the person out as special is cultivated.
Now, I want to point something out. I used understanding and comprehension in my example here — notice, when I was talking above about Worldbreaker understanding, I never once mentioned that my issues gave me a better understanding of Him. He understands me, I do not understand Him. There is no way for me to comprehend the pain and suffering that Loki endures. There is no way for a human to comprehend 1/10th of His experiences, or any God’s experiences for that matter.
Feeling an empathetic or sympathetic response for what the Worldbreaker has experienced does not make you better than any other person out there worshipping Him, or working with any other aspect of His Being. Taking comfort from the Worldbreaker does not make you better. There is nothing about you, personally, which makes you better or more worthy than any other person in this world. There is nothing about you that is some magical key to apotheosis that will raise you above the rest of us mere mortals. We’re all grasping for understanding together, so the ego trip bullshit really should stop. It doesn’t help anyone, and it serves no purpose beyond patting an ego.
Ego is dangerous in faith.
Now, I marked all of this as UPG. These experiences with Loki and my life are valid for me. Your experiences with Loki, with your life, with your perceptions are valid — for you. You may genuinely be experiencing something with Him that you feel gives you some kind of insight into Him — but it is important to remember that that is only valid for you, and may not apply to any other person in the world. My impressions of Worldbreaker may be complete and utter bullshit to you, and that’s ok. You don’t have to take my word for it, or adjust your perceptions to match mine. You may experience no compassion whatsoever from Worldbreaker, and that’s fine. Here’s the thing, though.
Do not, for one moment, contemplate going into someone’s ask box and telling them that they’re doing something wrong or thinking about something in the wrong way because their experiences do not match your own. Do not think of responding to someone’s very personal post about their life and experiences with Loki, criticizing them or giving them “no duh” statements because you have some conception knocking around in your skull about how things should be. You have no right to flat out tell someone that their UPG and experiences are not valid for them because you haven’t experienced the same thing, or because your limited knowledge doesn’t reflect what they’re experiencing.
If you really have to say something about it, do it on your own blog in your own space. Write a freakin’ essay about why you don’t agree. Works for me. If you’re going to engage that person in a dialogue, be open about the fact that people have wildly different experiences and lives. “Hey, I’ve never had that experience with Loki. I’ve had this experience instead. It is interesting to compare these two, since they seem to be doing the same thing in a different way”.
Religion isn’t a competition. There are so many different religious structures to encounter out in the world and here on Tumblr. A little tolerance and genuine curiosity goes a long way. Take the time to learn about why people may be doing something different than you rather than hopping up their asses with a “well, you really should expect that ‘cuz ____________” or a neon sign reading “UR DOING IT WRONG”.
That’s just obnoxious.
Thank you for writing this. I don’t work with the Worldbreaker primarily, or even often, and because the only aspect of the Breaker of Worlds that I’ve ever encountered was so very terrifying, I’ve often wondered how people who deal with that aspect are not institutionalized. I don’t mean that in a demeaning way, please understand, I just didn’t know how to brain it in comparison with my own experiences, and I didn’t want to ask, because I get the “what’s it like to be married to Him?” questions that are often invasive and private. I would think working with the Worldbreaker would be similar, because of the types of things He heals in that form. So thank you again for sharing.