Last week, Alan Chapman and Duncan Barford of The Baptist’s Head and Open Enlightenment were kind enough to answer several questions I put to them. I have edited the questions for the sake of brevity and to make myself look less a twit. Initially only Duncan was had agreed to participate in the interview, leading to a change in tone of my questions.
Duncan and Alan both demonstrate a lot of growth in their thought, and I believe many points I touch on rely on legacy material. I hope you enjoy.
CT: Did you formulate the Core Practice techniques immediately after attaining the Knowledge & Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel [K&C], or did it follow your successful crossing of the Abyss?
ALAN: I attained the K&C using a free-form ritual technique, but I came to develop a simpler method based on Father Thomas Keating’s Centered Prayer as I persisted in invoking the HGA through the years.
CT:The bare-bones Core Practice described in Alan’s essay bears a strong family resemblance to vipassana meditation. Duncan has mentioned a long-standing interest in Buddhism. In your work, each of you pay homage to Daniel Ingram and his fantastic work. At what point did you pick up the links between wisdom traditions and decide to adopt vipassana into your regular practice?
ALAN: I’ve never adopted vipassana as part of my regular practice, although it was during my crossing of the abyss that I came to realise the same process was described by the Therevada progress of insight model. Later, I discovered the same process described in the Ten Zen Ox-Herding Pictures, the alchemical process, and many other traditions.
DUNCAN: My chaos magical training demanded regular meditation practice, but I’d fallen out with Buddhism ten years beforehand and had not practised since then. I discovered Ingram’s work on the Internet and found it absolutely awesome. Suddenly so much dropped into place that had been missing from my engagement with Buddhism a decade earlier. Chaos magic had instilled in me the realization that you can ‘just do stuff’, and the practice of magic in general had laid the groundwork for understanding how reality is malleable and constructed from the mind. Ingram’s mastery of vipassana was daunting at first, not least because of the intense sensations of envy it aroused in me. But everyone is crap at meditation in the beginning. If you keep at it and do it properly, you make progress. The largest part of my practice has been straight-up dry vipassana. It was Alan who took up Ingram’s work and showed me the links between it and the other maps of enlightenment, including the A.’.A.’. / Tree of Life model. The realization that the aim of magic is the same as enlightenment I owe to Alan. Continue reading