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Wednesday, October 26th, 2011, 10:04 PM
The Aryan Doctrine of Battle and Victory

Julius Evola

According to a well-known cultural critic [Oswald Spengler in ’The Decline of the West’], the decline of the modern Western world is clearly recognizable by two symptoms: first, the pathological development of everything to do with action; and second, the contempt for the values of knowledge (Erkennen) and contemplation (Beschaulichkeit).
However, by ”knowledge” this critic does not mean rationalism, intellectualism, or the games of the literati – and by ”contemplation” he does not mean alienation from the world, or misguided monastic seclusion. For him, rather, knowledge and contemplation mean the normal and most suitable forms of human engagement with supernatural, supra-human, and supra-rational reality. However, there is one unacceptable premise to this conception: he takes it for granted that all action is limited to the material realm, and that the higher realm of the spiritual is only acceptable through non-active paths.
This assumption obviously stems from a view of life that is essentially alien to the Aryan race, but so deeply rooted in the Christianized West that we even find it in Dante’s idea of Empire. In contrast, the ancient Aryans saw no opposition between action and contemplation, but merely as two different paths to en equal spiritual realization. In other words, it was thought that the human being could not only overcome individual limitations and participate in supernatural reality through contemplation, but also though active deeds.

If we assume this, then the decline of Western culture must be judged differently. The active tradition is intrinsically suited to the Aryan and Western races, but has gradually gone astray. The modern Western world has now reached the stage where it recognizes and glorifies only a secularized and materialized action, robbed of any transcendent reference point – a profane action, which inevitably degenerates into fever and mania, into action for the sake of action, or into an action confirmed merely to a temporal outcome. In the modern world such a degenerated action cannot reflect any ascetic or truly contemplative values, but only a shadow-culture and a pallid, conventional faith. That, at any rate, is how I see it.

If ”return to the origins” is today’s slogan for every movement of revitalization, then our essential task is to regain consciousness of the ancient Aryan concept of action. This concept should function transformatively and summon up all vital energies in the new, racially aware human being. So we shall now make a short excursion into the thought-real of the ancient Aryans, with the aim of bringing to light certain fundamental concepts of our common tradition, with special attention to the meanings of battle, war and victory.

In general, for the ancient Aryan war was an allegory of an eternal battle between metaphysical forces. On the one side stood the Olympian principle of light, the Uranian and Solar reality; on the other side stood raw power, the titanic-telluric, the ”barbaric” in the classical sense, the feminine-daimonic. The motif of this metaphysical battle recurs repeatedly in thousands of mythic manifestations in all traditions of Aryan origin. Every material battle was experienced more or less with the consciousness that it signified an episode in this conflict. Since Aryandom saw itself as the militia of the Olympian principle, the ancient Aryans’ claim to supremacy, and even to empire, traced its justification and higher consecration to this concept, which highlights the anti-secular character of the latter.
In the Traditional worldview, every reality becomes a symbol. From the subjective and inner perspective, this is also true of war. In this way, war and the divine path could be one.

Everyone knows the characteristic evidence that the Nordic-Germanic traditions offer in this regard, though it must be emphasized that these traditions as passed down to us are fragmentary and corrupted, or else are the remnants of higher primordial Aryan traditions that have become materialized or deteriorated into folk superstitions. Nevertheless, a few prominent motifs can be established.
Valhalla, of course, is the home of heavenly immortality, which is primarily reserved for the fallen heroes of the battlefield. The lord of this place, Odin-Wotan, is introduced in the Ynglingasaga as he who, with his symbolic sacrifice on the world-tree Yggdrasil, has shown warriors the way to the divine dwelling-place where life springs immortal. In fact, no sacrifice is more appriciated by this god, none bears more abundant supernatural fruits, than that offered by those who die fighting on the battlefield. But there is more. Behind the blurred folk notion of the ”wild host” lies the idea that the warrior who, in falling, offer a sacrifice to Odin, are swelling the army which this god requires for the last battle against ragnarokkr, that is, against the catastrophic ”twilight of the gods” which since time immemorial has overshadowed the world. The Aryan motif of the metaphysical battle is clearly expressed here. For in the Edda it also states: ”As great are the numbers of heroes who have gathered in Valhalla, there will never be enough when the wolf is unfettered” – the wolf being the symbol of dark and wild forces that have succeeded in binding and subjugating the culture of the Æsir.

Akin to this is the Iranian-Aryan concept of Mithra, the ”sleepless warrior” who fights at the head of his faithful Fravartis against the enemies of the Aryan god of light. Shortly we shall examine these Fravartis moe closely and see how they correspond to the Nordic tradition of the Valkyries, but first I will clarify the general concept of ”holy war” with corroborative evidence.
Bot surprisingly, i refer primarily to the Islamic tradition, which takes the place here of the Aryan-Iranian. The idea of ”holy war” – at least as it concerns the elements under consideration – came to the Arabian tribes from the Persian intellectual world: thus it implies a renaissance of an ancient Aryan legacy, and in this respect can be used without further ado.
That bein the case, in the tradition in question two ”holy wars” must be differentiated: the ”greater” and the ”lesser”. This distinction stems from a statement of the Prophet who said, upon returning from a military undertaking: ”From the lesser holy war, we have returned to the greater holy war.” In this context, the greater holy war belongs to the spiritual order, whereas the lesser holy war is the physical battle, the material war waged in the external world. The greater holy war is the battle against the enemies that lie within. More precisely, it is the battle of the supernatural elements within man against everything that is compulsive, determined by passion, chaotic, and enslaved to the powers of nature. This is also the idea expressed in a text of ancient Aryan warrior wisdom – the Bhagavad Gita: ”Realizing that which is beyond comprehension, strengthen yourself through yourself, and kill the enemy in the form of desire, hard to conquer.” (Bhagavad Gita, III, 43). The prerequisite for the work of inner liberation is that such an enemy be destroyed.

Within the framework of a heroic tradition, the lesser holy war – the external battle – serves only as a means by which this greater holy war is to be realized. For this reason ”holy war” and ”divine path” often occur as synonyms. Thus we read in the Koran: ”they fight on the path of God who sacrifice earthly life for the life to come; for him who fights on the path of God, whether he is slain or victorious, we will give a great reward.” (Koran, 4, 74). And further: ”For those who are slain on the path of God, their realization will not be lost: God will guide them an dispose their souls. He will make them enter into the paradise revealed to them.” (47, 5-7). These examples allude to the physical death in war which corresponds exactly to the classical tradition of the so-called mors triumphalis – ”triumphant death.” Yet this same teaching can also be understood in a symbolic sense. He who has come to experience a ”greater holy war” within the ”lesser” war, has generated the inner strength that makes him capable of conquering the crisis of death. Even without being physically killed, one can also experience death through the discipline of action and combat: one can be internally triumphant and achieve a ”survival”. Esoterically understood, ”paradise”, the ”heavenly realm”, and similar terms are nothing other than symbolic representations, adapted for popular understanding, of transcendant states of consciousness that exist on a higher level than life and death.

These observations allow us to discover the same meanings beneath the Christian cloak which the heroic Nordic-Western tradition was froced to don for outward appearances during the Crusades. Much more than is generally believed, in Crusader ideology the liberation of the Temple and the conquest of the ”Holy Land” had points of contact within the Nordic-Aryan tradition, which refers to the mystical Asgard in the distant land of the Æsir and the heroes, where death does not rule and where the inhabitants enjoy immortal life and a supernatural tranquility. The holy war manifested as a thoroughly spiritual war, so that the priests literally compared it to a ”purification, the same as the fire of purgatory, only prior to death.” Bernard of Clairvaux exhorted the Templars: ”What a glory for you, to return from battle with no less than a crown of laurel! But how much greater the glory, to win an immortal crown on the battlefield!” The Crusaders were even promised the ”supreme glory” – the very same glory as theology attributes to the Lord in the heavenly heights, in excelsis Deo.
Thus Jerusalem, the goal dreamed of in the ”lesser holy war”, has a twofold aspect as an earthly city and a heavenly city, while the Crusade is the prelude to an achievement that truly leads to immortality.
At first the military vicissitudes of the Crusades caused astonishment, confusion, and even shook the faith. However, they had only to purify the effect and the concept of holy war from any residue of materialism. Then the failure of a crusade could be compared to a virtue dogged by misfortune, whose value could only be judged and rewarded in terms of a non-earthy existence. With this assessment – beyond victoty and defeat – the value-judgement was consentrated on the spiritual side of the action. Accordingly, the holy war was regarded as being independent of its visual results, and as a means by which one could achieve a supra-personal perfection through the active sacrifice of the human element.

In a well-known Indo-Aryan text, the Bhagavad Gita, this same teaching appers in a metaphysically heightened style. The compassion and the humanitarian feelings that prevent the warrior Arjuna from entering the battlefield against the enemy are criticized by the god (Krishna) as being ”cowardice unworthy of a noble, ignominy, and distancing from heaven.” (Bhagavad Gita, II, 2). He promises: ”Slain – you will gain paradise; victorious – you will rule over the earth. Therefore rise resulutely to battle!” (II, 37).
The inner bearing that transmutes the lesser war into the greater holy war is clearly outlined: ”Dedicating all actions to me” – says the god – ”and with mind fixed on the supreme state of the self, free from the idea of possession, liberated from mental anguish, fight!” (III, 30). In equally clear statements regarding the purity of such an action, it is said that it must be desired for the sake of itself, beyond any passion and beyond any human motivation. ”Holding as equal pleasure and pain, gain or loss, victory or defeat, arm yourself for the battle: thus you will remain immaculate.” (II, 38).
As a further metaphysical justification, Krishna explains the difference between that which is absolute spirit, and as such indestructible, and that which, as a physical and human element, has only an illusory existence.
On the one hand, he makes one aware of the metaphysical unreality of what is lost when one loses, or causes others to lose, the transitory life and mortal body. On the other hand, Arjuna is lead to experience this manifestation of the divine as a power that seizes him absolutely and irresistibly. In comparison to this power, every form of conditioned existence appears as a negation. But when this negation is actively negated, that is, when amid the onslaught all limited existence is torn away or destroyed, this power results in a terrible theophany. The energy required to bring about the heroic transformation of the individual can be precisely described on this basis. Should the warrior be in the condition to act unconditionally and with purity, then he will burst his human chains, conjure forth the divine as the metaphysical power of the destruction of the finite, and actively draw this power to himself, finding therein his transfiguration and liberation.
The suggestive watchword in this regard, from another text in the same tradition, reads: ”Life is like a bow; the soul like an arrow; the target which is to be pierced, the supreme spirit. Hold fast to this spirit as the arrow pierces its target.” (Markandeya-purana, XLII, 7, 8).
If the highest metaphysical justification for combat and heroism cam be seen in all this, it is very telling that the Bhagavad Gita presents such a teaching as part of a primordial Aryan, solar heritage. It was in fact given by the ”Sun” to Manu, the primordial lawgiver of the Aryans, and perpetuated by a dynasty of sacred kings. Over the centuries this teaching was lost, and later revealed by the deity, not to a priest, but to a representative of the warrior nobility, Arjuna.

What I have described so far helps us to understand the innermost meaning underlying a further group of classical and Nordic traditions. We start by observing that certain symbolic concepts occur there in a particular combination: the concept of the soul as a daimon, doppelgänger, genius, and the like; the concept of Dionysian beings and the goddess of death; and finally, the concept of a goddess of victory, who often also appears in the form of a battle goddess.
To understand these connections, we must start by clarifying what it means when the sould is conceived of as a daimon, genius, or doppelgänger. For classical man, the daimon or doppelgänger symbolized a profound power, the ”life of Life”, so to speak, for it secretly guided the entire physical and spiritual process.
Inaccessible to ordinary consciousness, it nevertheless largely determined the existence and fate of the individual. A close connection was thought to exist between this being and the mystical powers of the race and the bloodline, appearing in many respects the same as the Lares (singular: Lar), the mystical beings of the tribe or clan, of which Macrobius says: ”They are the gods that keep us alive – they nourish our body and guide our soul.”
One could say that between the daimon and ordinary consciousness exists a relationship like that between the individualizing principle and the individualized principle.
According to the teaching of the ancients, the former is a supra-individual power, hence above life and death.
The latter, being the individualized consciousness limited by the body and the exterior world, is normally destined to dissolution or a shadowy survival.

In the Nordic tradition, the concept of the Valkyrie has approximately the same significance as the daimon. In many texts the concept of the Valkyrie melds together with that of the fylgja – that is, with a spiritual essence operating within the human being, in the power of which lies the latter’s fate. And as kinfylgja, the Valkyrie – like the ancient Roman Lar – represents the mystical power of the blood. The same is true of the Fravarti in the Iranian-Aryan tradition. As a well-known orientalist explains, the Fravarti is ”the innermost power of every human being, that which keeps him upright and cauces him to be born and to exist.”
At the same time, the Fravartis, like the Roman Lares, are connceted to teh primordial powers of a tribe and are, like the Valkyries, terrifying goddesses of war who bestow good fortune and victory.
This is the first connection we must fathom. What can this enigmatic power, which is the profound soul of the race and the transcendent element in the individual, have in common with the war goddess? In order to be clear on this point, one should keep in mind that Indo-European antiquity had a decidedly aristocratic and exclusive view of immortality. Not everyone, it was believed, is able to escape self-dissolution, that shadowy survival for which Hades and Nifelheim were ancient symbolic images. Immortality is a privilege of the few and, in Aryan view, above all a Heroic privilege. Survival – and certainly not as a shadow, but as a demigod – is only granted to those whom an exceptional spiritual deed has elevated from one nature to the other. Unfortunately I cannot cite here all the evidence that justifies the following assertion: that, technically understood, a spiritual deed of this sort consisted of changing the sense of self from ordinary human consciousness, limited and individualized, into a profound, supra-individual, individualizing power which exists beyond birth and and death and which, as I have said, corresponds to the concept of the ”daimon”.
Indeed, the daimon stands beyond all the finite forms in which it reveals itself, not only because it is the primordial power of an entire tribe, but also on account of its intensity. Because of this, the abrupt transition from ordinary consciousness to the power symbolized by the daimon would cause a destructive crisis, like a lightning-bolt caused by a voltage that overloaded the human constitution. Let us now assume that under truly extraordinary circumstances, the daimon nevertheless breaks through in the individual, so to speak, and is this able to let its destructive transcendence be felt: then one would have a kind of active experience of death.
Thereupon the second connection becomes clear: why the figure of the daimon or doppelgänger in the ancient myths could be melded with the deity of death. In the Nordic tradition the warrior sees his Valkyrie precisely at the moment of death or mortal danger.

We can go further. In religious ascetism, mortification, self-renunciation, and the impulse of devotion to God are the preferred methods of provoking and successfully overcoming the crisis I have just mentioned. Everyone knows the expressions which refer to these states, such as the ”mystical death” or ”dark night of the soul”, etc. In contrast to this, within the framework of a heroic tradition, the path to the same goal is the active rapture, the Dionysian unleashing of the active element. At its lower levels, we find phenomenons such as the use of dance as a sacred technique for achieving an ecstasy of the soul that summons and uses profound energies. While the individual’s life is surrendered to Dionysian rhythm, another life sinks into it, as if it where his abyssal roots surfacing. The ”wild host”, Furies, Erinyes, and suchlike spiritual natures are symbolic picturings of this energy, thus corresponding to a manifestation of the daimon in its terrifying and active transcendence. At a higher level we find sacred war-games; higher still, war itself. And this brings us back to the ancient Aryan concept of battle and the warrior ascetic.
At the climax of danger and heroic battle, the possibility for such an extraordinary experience was recognized. The Lating ludere, meaning both ”to play” and ”to fight”, seems to contain the idea of release. This is one of the many allusions to the inherent ability of battle to release deeply-buried powers from individual limitations and let them freely emerge. Hence the third comparison: the daimon, the Lar, the individualizing I, etc., are not only identical with teh Furies, Erinyes, and other unleashed Dionysian natures, which themselves have many traits similar to the goddess of death – they are also synonymous with the storm maidens of battle, the Valkyries and Fravartis. In the texts, for example, the Fravartis are called ”the terrible, the all-powerful”, ”those who attackin storm and bestow victory upon those who conjure them”, or, more precisely, those who conjure them up in themselves.

From there to the final comparison is only a short step. In the Aryan tradition the same martial beings eventually take on the form of victory-goddesses, a transformation which denotes the happy completion of the inner experience in question. Just as the daimon or doppelgänger signifies a depp, supra-individual power in its latent condition as compared to ordinary consciousness; just as the Furies and Erinyes reflect a particular manifestation of daimonic rages and erruptions (and the goddesses of death, Valkyries, Fravartis, etc., refer to the same conditions, as long as these are facilitated by battle and heroism) – in the same way the goddess of victory is the expression of the triumph of the I over this power. She signifies the victorious ascent to a state unendangered by by ecstasies and sub-personal forms of disintegration, a danger that always lurks behind the frenetic moment of Dionysian and even heroic action. The acent to a spiritual, truly supra-personal condition that makes one free, immortal, and internally indestructible, when the ”Two [elements of human existence] becomes One”, expresses itself in this image of mythical consciousness.

Now we move on to the dominant idea of this ancient heroic tradition, namely the mystical conception of victory. The fundamental assumption is that of a true correspondence between the physical and metaphysical, between the visible and the invisible, whereby the deeds of the spirit reveal supra-individual traits and express themselves through action and real events. On this basis, a spiritual realization is presumed to be the hidden soul of certain martial endeavors, which are crowned by the actual victory. Then the material, military victory becomes the correlation to a spiritual event, which has called forth victory in the place where outer and inner connect. The victory appears as a tangible sign for a consecration and mystical rebirth that are fulfilled in the same instant. The Furies and the death which the warrior withstood physically on the battlefield also confront him internally, in his spiritual element, in the form of a dangerous and threatening outburst of the primordial energy of his being.
In triumphing over this, victory is his.
This connection clarifies why, in the Traditional world, every victory also takes on a sacred meaning. The celebrated commander on the battlefield thus provided the experience of the presence of a mystical, transformative energy. In the same way we can understand the deep meaning a supra-wordly character that breaks forth in the victory’s glory and ”divinity”, as well as the fact that the ancient Roman triumphal ceremony had far more of a sacred quality than a military one. It sheds a totally different light on those recurring symbols of the ancient Aryan tradition of Victories, Valkyries, and similar beings who leads the souls of warriors into ”Heaven”, as well as on the myth of a victorioushero such as the Doric Hercules, who receives the crown from Nike, the ”victory goddess”, enabling him to participate in Olympian immortality. And now it becomes obvious how paralyzing and frivolous that viewpoint is which prefers to see only ”poetics”, rhetorics, and fairy tales in all of this.

Mystical theology teaches that the sanctifying spiritual vision is fulfilled in glory, and Christian iconography encircles the heads of saints and martyrs with the appropriate halo. All this signifies an inheritance, albeit atrophied, from our high heroic tradition.
For the Iranian-Aryan tradition already understood glory as a heavenly fire – hvarenô – which descended upon kings and leaders, made the immortal, and bore witness to them in victory. Moreover, the radiant crown of ancient royalty symbolized glory as none other than a solar and heavenly fire. Light, solar radiance, glory, victory, and divine kingship are concepts that are found closely connected in the Aryan world, and not in the sense of abstractions or human poetics, but in the sense of entirely real powers and rulerships. In this connection, the mystical doctrine of battle and victory is a radiant summit of our shared tradition of action.
This tradition still speaks audibly to us, so long as we disregard its external and time-determined manifestations. Today, if we want to go beyond a tired, bloodless spirituality formed of abstract speculation or pious feelings, while also overcoming the material degeneration of action, what better support can we find than these ancient Aryan ideals?
But there is more. Material and spiritual tensions have accumulated so much in recent years in the West, that their final release is only possible through combat. With the current war, an epoch is nearing its end; powers are now breaking through that are no longer bound by abstract concepts, universalist principles, or irrationally understood myths – powers which could be transformed into the dynamic of a new culture. Something much more profound and essential is necessary, so that beyond the tumult of a confused and condemned world, a new era might dawn for Europe.
In light of this, much depends on how the individual can shape his experience of battle: whether or not he is able to grasp heroism and sacrifice as an actual catharsis, as a means to freedom and inner awakening. This invisible inner action of our warriors has nothing to do with gestures and grand words, but it holds decisive significance for the formation and meaning of the order that will arise from victory. In battle itself is the power to arouse and steel us, which will help us over storm, blood, and misery in a new radiance and a mighty calm, to a new creation.

To this end, on the battlefield one should relearn pure action; action not only as masculine ascesis, but also as purification and the pathway to higher life-forms, valid in and of themselves; but this already implies a certain return to the ancient Aryan-Western tradition. From distant times the evocative formula still calls to us: ”The life, like a bow; the soul, like an arrow; the target, the supreme spirit”. Those who experience todays battle in the sense of this creed will be able to remain standing where others collapse – and they will be an unshakable power. This new man will conquer in himself every tragedy, every darkness, every chaos, and make a new beginning in the fertile soil of time. According to ancient Aryan tardition, such heroism on the part of the best men can actually effect an evocation, or in other words, bring about the conditions to re-establish the contact that for centuries has been loosened between the world and the supra-world. Then the battle will neither be a horrible bloodbath, nor a merciless fate determined by raw will power, but a testing of a people’s right and their divine mission. Peace will then no longer mean sinking back into gray bourgeous mundanity and the relaxation of the spiritual tension that was alive in battle, but rather a consummation of the latter.

For this reason I wish to reiterate once again the creed of the ancients as expressed in the following words: ”The blood of the hero is more sacred than the ink of the scholars and the prayer of the pious” – and also the traditional conception at its base, that in the ”holy war” it is the original mystic powers of the race, rather than individuals, that are at work.
These primordial powers are what creates empires and leads a people to a ”victorious peace.”

This essay was originally presented in the German language on 7 December 1940 at the Palazzo Zuccari in Rome.

Sunday, October 30th, 2011, 08:05 AM
The Esotericism of Fight Club
By Paraplethon, August 19, 2003

"We have no great war, we have no great depression... our war is a spiritual war, our depression is our lives..."

Tyler Durden in the midst of "Fight Club" explaining in no uncertain terms - SPIRITUAL WAR - just what exactly the ultimate drive of the film, and the book it is based on, is.

Running right the way through the storyline is a staunch position of a virulent anti-materialism; a very apt critique of modern 'advanced' 21st Century society being its sole self perpetuation is a never ending accumulation of material items. This is about as far as any 'critics' took the theme with the cinematic release of the film in 1999, however with the underlying motif as pointed out above, this 'anti-materialism' contains much deeper considerations than a simple critique of society in decay.

"Things you own end up owning you..."

An anti-materialistic stance is a stance recognizing a much greater further reaching substance to our existence than just simply what we can observe with our 5 base senses. It is the realization of the physical, material level as a pale reflection, as a gross, impoverished or even feeble illusion that never-the-less is an intimation of that 'greater substance' to our lives, to our experience of existence. In this it is essentially an embodiment of that old maxim "as above, so below".

With the comprehension of the illusory nature of the physical level - 'tis what is invisible that is most important after all - follows a certain detachment from materialism; a search for the origin of existence rather than wallowing around in its 'pale reflection', being so caught up in the illusions one comes to think that's all there is and fails to see the larger picture, missing a golden opportunity at any real understanding of the completeness of reality. A detachment form the frivolous concerns of a duplicit materialism frees the Being of the shackles that limit our understanding. The material, physical level is a block, a hindrance that demands of us our attention, limiting our scope of the nature of reality to a narrow tunnel vision.

Such a detachment from the wily ways of the material is justly rewarded in more ways than one, a lifetime lived is such a fashion reaps a bountiful harvest in the Beings following physical incarnation. An Alchemist in recent years has pointed out the example of Florence Nightingales zealous resistance - nigh a near immunity to the lethal diseases she was exposed to was due to her previous incarnation, that of a 13th Century Templar Knight living a humble life under a vow of poverty.

However, that we are so caught up in all the frivolity of the physical/material level - perhaps more-so in our time than in any other, requires of the process of awakening to the reality of our situation of subjugation 'a short, sharp shock' as it were, forcing us to open our eyes, both inner and outer, to observe - both within and without. The much slandered Initiate Crowley realized, and practiced this method of 'awakening'; note his vehement anti-christian stance - "those crapulous creeds", his voracious ribald nature and his adoption of the 'mark of the beast', 666 as a personal moniker in the prim and proper Victorian England of strict morality as an example of such 'shock tactics'. Being Fight Club is an esoteric treatise, methods of awakening are expected to be found in it; it just so happens the examples in Fight Club are of Crowley's 'shocking' school of thought. For one; Tyler's total destruction of Jack's flat, destroying all his worldly possessions in one fell swoop, destroying that 'comfort zone' where one can escape from the world, Tyler forces Jack into a position of re-appraisal, of self-observation, of waking from a long and until then, an undisturbed sleep. From that experience on Jack is 'out-of-the-fold'; an outside observer of the goings on of the day-to-day world, critical of it generally and more particularly, critical of his previous position in it.

"We all started seeing things differently, everywhere we went, we were sizing things up..."

One expression relevant to the experience of waking from 'sleep-walking' our way through our daily lives, recognizing how unaware, how un-alert, how disconnected we are in our 'normal' state of being, day-dreaming, the mind - our very attention wandering off from just where and what we are doing is; 'Live the moment'. Focus. On that which you are doing, where you are doing whatever it is, and just who it is who is doing it... YOU. Focus, observe, concentrate and live the moment, the present moment, for the truth is eternity is to be found in the present - the eternal present. All else is folly. Bring your full attention upon the present and don't let it wander... or as the enigmatic Discordian Hagbard Celine puts it; "Don't whistle while you're pissing."

The particular scene in the film where Tyler is giving Jack the chemical burn proves itself multidimensional in it's bearing, for as well as containing the above it elucidates another important teaching of the Path of Awakening and Enlightenment; that of pain and suffering. Tyler tells Jack as his hand is being burnt by the lye; "This is your burning hand, right here! This is the greatest moment of your life and you're off missing it... What you are experiencing is premature enlightenment..." To acknowledge the pain, to experience it, as harsh or tragic as it may seem, is just as much a part of the 'gymnasium of life' as the more cordial sensations. For if the ultimate aim of an esoteric path is the attainment of Unity, all must be acknowledged. In his 'Birth of Tragedy' "...Nietzsche maintains that all Being must be affirmed, both beautiful and ugly, both joy and suffering..." for as the tragic is a "...dynamic phenomenon that brings natures generative force out."

"Self-improvement is masturbation... now, self-destruction..."

Along with the theme of a vehement anti-materialism, that of destruction, or more specifically self-destruction, is a likewise stand out issue the Fight Club material concerns itself with. In the context of the 'Spiritual War' the character Tyler professes, this destruction -be it of Jack's prior inane existence, the destructive tendencies within and between the members of the fight clubs, or of the destruction they wreak on society at large through the agency of 'Project Mayhem', and most especially in the relationship between Jack and Tyler, reveals a most impressive wealth of esoteric material; the theme of destruction is Fight Club's raison d'etre. The destruction so inherent to a narrative of this type is two fold; the violent destructiveness is loosed both outwardly and inwardly, and remaining within the context of 'Spiritual War', this two-pronged attack is traditionally understood to be the lesser holy war and the 'Great Holy War'.

The lesser holy war stems from, is an 'outgrowth' of the 'Great Holy War', the analogy is complete in Fight Club with the development of the outwardly aimed 'Project Mayhem' growing from the inner core of the fight clubs themselves. Effectively, the lesser holy war is battling society itself; when the comprehension of society is a degenerate, decaying system determined in the subjugation of it's subjects, it is the physical war in the physical realm against the 'infidel' - the 'unbelievers' intent on the subversive stagnation of humankinds inherent, latent capabilities that it is possible to 'un-lock' via the agency of the internal Holy War. The theme of a lesser holy war as taking the battle to the streets with the intention to create a societal opportunity where humanities inner development is free to take place, not hindered by our familiar societal constraints is paralleled by 'Project Mayhem' in its foundation - to paraphrase Tyler/Jacks exhortation; "...you erase the debt(karma?) records then we all go back to zero, creating total chaos... so we can all evolve - the chips fall where they may."

"Congratulations; you're one step closer to hitting bottom..."

If 'Project Mayhem' is the external arm of the 'Spiritual War' Fight Club concerns itself with, what then is the inner foundation from which it stems and just what is its methods and purpose. The outer is a reflection of the inner, so similarly to there being a war waged on the 'infidel' in the world at large, there is likewise an inner war waged within the narratives characters against constrictive elements in themselves that are strangling their opportunity of realizing the possibility and developing to their full potential. This is the 'Great Holy War', and is just what Tyler Durden is referring to with his numerous incitements to self-destruction.

Human nature is divided, in each and every one of us dwells a multitude of personifications of ourselves simultaneously, each of which we identify with when it is specifically more dominant and in control. These multitudinous 'i's', these psychic aggregates are accretions of our original sole Beings immersal in this level of existence; with so many influences and commitments to be met and maintained the self responds dealing with the situation by creating differing versions of the self for each and every different situation and occurence that arises. It is the existence of these many various I's, or 'ego's' as they are often called in esoterica, that explains a persons blatant hypocrisy; one minute they are 'this', the next minute they are 'that' and the next yet 'another' and so on and on. That there is no singular element of the Being in continual and lasting control - least of all the original sole entity of the Being, the Soul, is an evident truth to any who wish to study of themselves the most changeable nature of their psychology, exemplified for instance in the figure of speech 'to change ones mind'.

It is invariably the case the ego's are in control of our actions, whether we have consciously created them, or unconsciously so (or otherwise) by giving in to base desires and short term or immediate sensual gratification, we feed them by our minds rumination on them - our thoughts tunning away with themselves with some imagined revenge, or sexual conquest or delusions of grandeur. These thoughts, the 'day-dreaming' - which one Alchemist is correct to call 'the excrement of thought', serves nothing but to stifle and suffocate our true inner Being, our Soul, our Essence - the original and eternal element of our Being that engenders us with life. If we are to free our Essence from such suffocating constriction, we must fight the 'Great Holy War' - our own private, internal project mayhem, and destroy all our ego's.

The fight clubs of the book and films title are principally the inner holy war in action, as well as containing a hefty dose of the concept of 'shock tactics' for awakening. The participants of the clubs are essentially stripping themselves bare, all that they think they are, that they otherwise hold as important is removed when they stand in the centre of a circle of men facing their opponent; a man who likewise represents all the falsity of their day-to-day being. The fighting - "that goes on as long as it has to" is intrinsically an inner struggle to overcome the gross misrepresentations of the Being we hide behind to get through the day in the outer world.

The relationship of the two leads in the story, Jack and Tyler, takes this thesis even further; Jack and Tyler being different personifications of the one being. The outer world knows this being as 'Jack', 'Jack' is the outer form, a yuppie who works in 'Complaints and Liability' of a major car manufacturer, Tyler Durden is his Essence coming to the fore revolting against all the ego's that go by the name 'Jack'. The disagreements, the arguing back and forth and the eventual coming to blows between Jack and Tyler is a perfect example of the nature of the inner, Greater Holy War; such confrontation will be experienced by those undertaking the task of studying within themselves in order to free one's Essence of the entrapment of the ego's - even to the point of a number of forceful disagreeing trains of thought, in the guise of opposing voices in one's head perhaps, going through the mind at once. This is the nature of each and every one of us subsumed by psychic aggregates - an esoteric 'schizophrenia'.

What is to be achieved by undertaking such a path as this - freedom. And this is where Jack-become-Tyler stands at the end of the narrative, at the threshold of this discovery with the world literally, and metaphysically, coming down around him.

"It's only when you've lost everything are you truly free to do anything."


The Zelator, Mark Hedsel, Arrow London 1999

Fight Club, Chuck Palahniuk, Vintage London 1997

The Birth of Tragedy; a study, Nadine Taylor, University of Texas Dallas 2000