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10/7/2017 NikolasSchreckInterviewedonTantricBuddhism,Magic,&theLeftHandPath|NikolasSchreck





Portrait of Nikolas Schreck by Eru

After a long time in the Hindu vamamarg tantra you converted to the Buddhist tantra. Can you say
why you decided to make this change?

Nikolas Schreck: Taking refuge in Buddhism wasnt a conscious decision. It was the result of
spontaneous insights that came to me during a particularly intensive meditation session. Namely,
what this ash of realization consisted of was that three of the basic Buddhist precepts Id previously
not accepted were undeniably true. 1/9
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I dont know how technical you want your paper to be, so Ill try to put this in relatively simple terms.
As you know, the Hindu-based Vama Margas yogic practices purify the personal atman, or eternal
indestructible soul, re ning it and dissolving the clouds of maya until the atman attains the state of
ones chosen deity, or ishtara-deva.

During this particular meditation, however, it dawned on me that yoking ones mind to simply
reincarnate as a deity rather than as a human being was still a relatively low step in the process of
liberation. This accords with the Buddhist teaching that most of the gods are still enmeshed in the
chain of samsara, and that their positive karma will eventually run out, which will return them to the
lower states of being, such as human, animal, ghost, and hell-being. Through that realization, I
understood that the aim of union with deity central to the Hindu-based Vama Marga was only one
stage, but was not the end of the journey by any means.

The second understanding and this came without words or conceptual thinking was that the
atman itself was an illusion of maya. In other words, what reincarnates is not a personal permanent
soul. Its merely another temporary and ever-changing set of mental conditions created by ones
actions in this and previous lives. And more importantly, that without letting go of that most subtle
spiritual distillation of the ego, one could not possibly be liberated.

The third understanding, and this one broke most dramatically with my own deeply-seated belief
system of many decades, was that all that appears to exist is not only maya, as its understood in the
Hindu-based Vama Marga, but is in fact empty of all qualities when perceived without ones
subjective lens obscuring reality as it is. Previously, I worked on the thesis that behind the play of
maya there was a permanently real state of things hidden under the illusion. That idea popped like
a balloon during the meditation as well.

Now, I had learned from many Buddhist meditation teachers in the past, most in the Zen tradition.
But I had always accepted their meditation techniques without accepting the Buddhist truths
stipulating the nature of the god realm as part of the wheel of suffering, rather than transcendent of
it, the non-existence of a permanent soul, and emptiness.

In 1983, when my teacher gave me the abisheka into the Vama Marga, I made the typical youthful
error of seeking only power, or Shakti, in the feminine force of the left-hand path. And Shakti
certainly does provide power. It took many decades of meditative taming of the ego before I
accepted that the Hindu left-hand paths understanding of the leftwards feminine force as power is
extremely limited if its not balanced by Buddhist left-hand path devotion to the feminine as wisdom,
or prajna.

What was also lacking in my previous practice was one of the main things separating Hindu Tantra
from Buddhist Tantra speci cally, that the nal goal of initiation is not to be reborn in the bliss of
the god realm but is to take up the bodhisatttva way of freeing all sentient beings from the causes of
suffering. 2/9
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A few days after this meditation, I experienced a vision too complicated to describe here. But it
con rmed this change of spiritual direction. That convinced me to take refuge in the Three Jewels
from a monk. I told him I thought it was ironic that it was through decades of meditative worship of
the Hindu goddess Kali that I broke through to Buddhism. In a matter-of-fact way he said that in his
native Sri Lanka some believe that Kali has been liberated by accepting the precepts of Buddhism, so
he didnt think it was strange at all. And when I took the Tantric vows shortly thereafter, I discovered
that Kali is in fact revered in the pantheon of the vajrayana yidams.

Can you explain the difference in these kinds of left-hand yoga?

Really, the pujas, meditative practice, the mudras, mantras, asanas, chakras and the belief in karma,
rebirth, maya, siddhis, non-dualism, the absolute necessity of a guru, and the centrality of the
feminine are almost identical in Buddhist and Hindu Tantra, so there isnt anything radically different
about the practice itself. Rather, its the speci c Buddhist intention driving the practice that makes
the crucial difference.

Also, its relevant that in both left-hand and right-hand path Hinduism, Buddha Shakyamuni is
revered as an avatar of the god Vishnu, who is said to have originated left hand path Tantric practice
in this world in the nirmanayakaya of the historical Gautama Siddartha. I think Tantra, speaking on
the relative historical level of being, is far more ancient than either Hinduism or Buddhism, which in
themselves are only Western words for spiritual phenomena predating and transcending this
current world we nd ourselves in.

Is this what Zeena and you mean in your book Demons of the Flesh when you use the phrase
sinister current to describe what you describe as a universal phenomenon?

Nikolas Schreck: Yes, even though that book expresses our outlook as of the year 2000, which was
when we wrote it, Id still maintain that one can nd the basic elements of a left-hand path Tantric
worship of the feminine in all religious experience. Not only in Asia but in esoteric Christianity and
Su c Islam, shamanism, siedhr in Nordic religion, the Shekhina in the Kabbala, the Middle Eastern
worship of Astarte/Ishtar, and many of the ancient mystery cults.

Thats because the left-hand path is simply the way reality is. This can be demonstrated not in theory
but by the empirical results of the physical practice. In this Kali Yuga of spiritual ignorance, of course,
the vast majority of Westerners who erroneously label themselves as left hand path are no such
thing. Theyre usually practicing the exact opposite of the left hand path. To avoid this semantic
confusion, in certain contexts, we adopt the sinister current as a less culturally-bound description
of convenience for this ultimately nameless tradition. Ultimately, the words are less important than
the practice. 3/9
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In the Demons of the Flesh introduction it says that the book was written through a third mind
technique. Can you explain it?

Nikolas Schreck: The third mind is a phrase coined by Brion Gysin and William Burroughs to
describe what is actually a very ancient method allowing two collaborators to enter a state of
consciousness bridging and transcending both individual minds into a third transpersonal force. Our
intention was not merely to explain the left-hand path male-female union in rational terms but to
actually demonstrate it in the composition of the book. This is the method Zeena and I used in Radio
Werewolf as well and when performing other rituals meant to manifest a particular result, which was
sustained throughout our writing of Demons of the Flesh.

If the left path is the way of woman why are there so few women left hand gurus and teachers?

Nikolas Schreck: The same reason there are so few female symphony conductors or generals. The
deep-rooted sexism and misogyny that poisons secular society also prevails in spiritual circles. Most
men are too rigid in their primitive understanding of masculinity to drop their macho posturing to
open up to a female teacher to the degree necessary for initiation to occur.

Backwards sexism on the part of women also comes into play. This is revealed by the fact that its
primarily women who devote themselves to the few female spiritual teachers active at this time,
which makes men wrongly assume that a female teacher is only good for girl stuff. Ironically, one
reason why so few people of any gender really get the left hand path is because theyre blinded by
the very same socially manufactured gender stereotypes which left hand path practice dissolves.

Im not speaking theoretically either. As a witness to Zeenas leadership positions in the Church of
Satan. The Werewolf Order, the Temple of Set and the Sethian Liberation Movement, Ive seen rst
hand how the discomfort a female authority gure causes among shaky male egos challenged by
female power has been the root cause of the many controversies and emotional crises which ensued.

Our society allows men more leeway to expose the Emperors New Clothes, and even encourages it
to a certain extent as part of the monkey level male competition. But should a woman dare break
from her status as meek and obedient lamb outside the approved roles of daughter, mother, wife,
helpmate and groupie, this touches a sensitive psychosexual nerve in misogynistic men that makes
them strike out to defend what they see as their threatened territory.

To provide an example from the secular world, you never see an article in the news commenting on
what clothes a male politician wears. But articles about Hilary Clinton, Angela Merkel, and many
other women in leadership positions often comment on their apparel or their appearance. And thats
with women who are in respectable authority positions. When it comes to a woman with authority
in a spiritual context, the situation is ever more extreme. If you look like Mother Teresa or Madame
Blavatsky, youre allowed to be a female spiritual leader. But if youre an attractive woman, it pushes 4/9
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so many buttons in the delicate masculine psyche that only the strongest and most balanced men can
bene t from a female gurus teaching under the current conditions.

Its also worth noting that due to the inherent sexism in organized religious structures, the great
female spiritual teachers, with some exceptions, such as Hildegard von Bingen, have been yoginis
operating independently of the patriarchal power structure.

In 2002, your wife resigned as the High Priestess of the Temple of Set to form with sixty colleagues
SLM, a new religion to the god Seth. Is this action an inevitable part of the history of schisms in
alternative religion (i.e A. Crowley leaving the Golden Dawn to make the A.A, J. Krishnamurti and
R. Steiner quit Theosophy, Ouspensky splits from Gurdjieff, etc.?)

Nikolas Schreck: Not only in alternative religion, a phrase I nd as meaningless as alternative

music. Most religions began as schismatic sects. After his enlightenment, didnt Shakyamuni Buddha
break with the religious orthodoxy of his time and his own place as a kshatriya in the Indian caste
system? Then, the Egyptian dissident Moses taught his disciples to break with paganism to follow a
new law. And the subversive ministry of the apostate Jesus which followed was based on his own
schism. Just as the prophet Mohammed repudiated Arabic polytheism in Mecca to found Sunnite
Islam, which in turn led to the Schiite and Ismailite schisms. More recently, I gather there was some
difference of opinion between Martin Luther and the Roman Catholic Church.

Of the comparisons you made, though, the only one which ts Zeenas situation is your analogue of
Krishhnamurti leaving Theosophy and the Order of the Eastern Star. Both Zeena and Krishnamurti
were raised from a very early age to ful ll certain pre-ordained roles as leaders in corrupt fraudulent
business organizations masquerading as religions which in fact were only money-making publicity

And when they acquired genuine spiritual insight which showed them the falsity of the systems they
were raised in, both Krishnamurti and Zeena forcefully rejected the fraudulent enterprises they
were groomed to continue and forged their own paths.

As for your other comparisons, unlike Krishnamurtis blunt denunciation of Blavatskys pseudo-
religious racket Theosophy and Zeenas forceful rejection of the LaVey/Aquino strain of
anthropocentric solipsism wrongly called Satanism, Crowley never really broke with the hoax-
based Golden Dawn system, just as Ouspensky only repudiated the person Gurdjieff, while still
honoring Gurdjieffs equally bogus ideas. However, I wouldnt say the schisms in religious history are
intrinsic to religion itself. It has more to do with the human animals naturally disputatious nature.

In some material from the SLM, it says Seth is one of the secret names of God. Does that mean
SLMs a monotheist religion? 5/9
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Nikolas Schreck: No. When we say that Seth, Abraxas, Typhon, etc. are the secret names of God we
are speaking of the true nature of the speci c deity which the three principal Abrahamic Middle
Eastern faiths worship to this day. However, even though Seth is, in Gnostic terms, the Archon of this
Aion, or the supreme ruler of this realm of being, this doesnt mean that he is the sole deity by any
means. Equally important to the Sethian cult, for instance, is the worship of Seths brides Astarte and
Anath, and Seths relation to the other gods in the Egyptian pantheon, which, as Zeena has often said,
form a necessary part of what she calls the cosmic ecology.

Furthermore, certain aspects of the god known as Seth manifest in many other non-Egyptian cultural
contexts in such forms as the Aztec Tezcatlipoca, the Nordic Loki, The Phoenician Baal, the Native
American Coyote, and so forth. Another important aspect of ancient Sethian tradition is that he is
the god who rules all the other gods, so that through Him, his devotees can call on any deity, as one
speci c spell from the Gnostic era that we use in our liturgy makes clear.

As far as monotheism goes, this is a more complicated question than it seems. In both of the two
traditions fused into the syncretic Sethian Liberation Movement -namely the ancient Egyptian and
the pan-Indian Tantric the apparent polytheism was actually a kind of monotheism. To the
Egyptians, the gods were known as The One in the Many, just as in Tantra, all the Hindu devas and
Buddhist yidams are understood to be various facets of the One. From a non-dual perspective, when
all obscurations are puri ed there is ultimately only One.

What advice do you give to someone starting an initiation in the 21stcentury?

Nikolas Schreck: Each individual case requires appropriate counsel relevant to ones current level of
intelligence, lifes experience, receptivity, character, and sense of discipline. And since those
attributes can only be built up over many previous lifetimes of practice, the proper circumstances
allowing one to be ripe for further initiation must be in place. Still, a few general guidelines may help
to avoid the most common pitfalls for the beginner.

These rules of thumb apply to any time, but initiation in a Kali Yuga is particularly dif cult. The
materialistic culture of ego, greed, endless infotainment, media distraction, and permanent digital
overload offers the worst possible conditions for even cultivating basic sanity and presence of mind
let alone spiritual development.

Our culture is noise, and wisdom and mystical experience comes from silence. How many people in
the 21stcentury can throw their cell phones and their computers out the window and sit alone with
themselves for hours at a time without compulsively communicating?

In this day and age, youd have to make a conscious radical break with the dominant beliefs and
socially dictated behaviors to even gain enough inner silence and clarity to begin to consider a
spiritual path. The rst step in liberation is to sever the outer bonds to social norms and
expectations. That includes forcefully giving up all of your addictive behaviors and compulsions,
which is so hard for some people to do that they pretty much remain stuck there without ever 6/9
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getting to actual initiatory practice. If you cant stop smoking, drinking, overeating, shopping,
gambling, playing video games, endlessly sur ng the web, and all of these other time-wasting, self-
destructive habits, how can you ever break the much harder to kick addiction to the ego?

Unless you renounce worldly values and the obligatory consumer lifestyle peer pressure demands,
any attempt at initiation will be an exercise in self-delusion. Then you must skillfully and
compassionately disengage from those people in your immediate environment whose negative and
materialistic concerns are likely to discourage you from your initiation. Then you must just as
skillfully replace them with those who will encourage your liberation without any vested interest of
their own. Most peoples desire to be liked at all costs will prevent them from even coming close to
taking this necessary step.

If you break with the hectic multi-tasking modern lifestyle and its social obligations, the harder work
of unbinding the inner fetters begins. Before a prospective initiate of any path can make any
meaningful progress, it has to be understood that the principal obstacle to ones initiation is not
outside your mind but is your own ego and the millions of delusions it generates. This means fully
accepting without justi cation or rationalization that you have been wrong, and then making a rm
decision to change your way of life in accordance with reality.

In other words, you must adjust your life to suit your initiation, not the other way around. You have
to take complete karmic responsibility for your life and your state of mind instead of blaming
anything or anyone else. And you must realize that despite the good will of many living and
discarnate teachers and spiritual beings who wish you well, its up to you to transform yourself for
the better through hard daily work.

If you take up a religious practice without the rm resolution of overcoming your ego, then youll
simply be using spiritual trappings to bolster your own sense of importance and self-identity. The
majority of those seeking spiritual development of some kind are really only looking for an exotic
entertainment, escapism, or distraction that will atter the ego. Occultism in general, and the New
Age movement which came out of it, are particularly prone to this kind of self-absorbed hobby
religiosity, or weekend initiation. When such spiritual consumers are faced with the prospect of
making a commitment to master an arduous lifelong practice whose aim is to dispel the ego, rather
than give succor to their self-obsession, thats usually the end of their so-called initiation, and theyll
move on to a more comfortable pastime.

Having come to these conclusions, you must choose a path and a teacher. If you wander aimlessly
from one tradition to the other like a ckle sight-seeing tourist without nally accepting guidance to
a clearly articulated speci c goal from a more experienced initiate, youll never get anywhere. So
after serious study and testing of various initiatory environments, you must commit with rm
devotion. Here we bump into another particularly harmful modern obstacle, the stubborn refusal to
learn from anything higher than ones precious self, which goes hand in hand with the postmodern
wishy-washiness that cant accept a valid authority who knows more than you do and who can teach
you something that is unequivocally 100% true. 7/9
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Keeping up the stamina required to realize even the basic foundation of initiation is what ultimately
determines how far you can go. Perseverance is crucial.

Ive observed again and again that if a prospective initiate has never truly loved on the material
relative level of being then its impossible for them to develop the intensity of spiritual and ultimate
love fundamental to all genuine initiatory practice. Two other character traits are essential as well.
Those whove led a completely comfortable life without any suffering or obstacles to overcome wont
be able to develop the unquali ed compassion for all beings which is the seed of liberation. And
those who arent driven in their quest by a sense of mystery that inspires burning curiosity will never
have the motivation to carry on through the ups and downs of initiation.

When I sent my questions you wrote that you dont think comparative religion scholarship or
academic study of magic really helps to understand these things. Why not?

Nikolas Schreck: Performing an autopsy on someone you love isnt going to help you understand
love. Studying oceanography textbooks wont make you a good swimmer. Mysticism and magic can
only be understood from within, not from without, no matter how sympathetic the observer.
Understanding them requires doing, not studying. The non-dual state of mind spiritual practice
demands is antithetical to scholarly method. The initiate puri es the error of splitting reality into
subject and object. The very nature of the academic mindset hardens the dualistic fallacy,
strengthening the illusion of being an independent objective self dispassionately surveying an
outer object of study.

Academia also encourages competition, oneupmanship, pride, reward, status-seeking, respectability

and security. Of all of the many institutionally accredited scholars of religion and magic Ive known, I
cant think of one who made initiatory progress until they abandoned the arrested development and
safety of the ivory tower. That doesnt mean that scholarly methods cant uncover useful data which
can serve initiation. Of course you must have your facts right. But I doubt that initiation can occur
with one foot planted in the living grave of academia. Especially in the past thirty years, with almost
all university level study of spirituality infected by politically correct postmodern hostility to religion
and tradition.

A lot of alternative religion leaders I interviewed predict that from the crises of the 21stcentury
an era of spiritual progress will appear. What do you think of this?

Nikolas Schreck: I dont share their optimism. This rosy prognosis of humanitys imminent spiritual
betterment derives from applying naive 19thcentury notions of continual scienti c progress to
initiation. I suppose you refer to such concepts as Theosophys New Age, Thelemas Aeon of Horus
Scientologys Golden Age, or the 2010 fad. On the contrary, the traditional teachings make it clear
that as this Kali Yuga, the time of the ve degeneracies, continues to worsen, only a small minority of
human beings will have the capacity to practice any kind of authentic spiritual tradition at all. 8/9
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As we can see by merely looking around us, almost all modern industrialized societies have
surrendered completely to secular positivism and materialism. Most of the established organized
religions have lost their meaning and direction. The feel-good new age marketing ploys that have
sprung up in their place are exactly the kind of degenerate pseudo-spirituality symptomatic of a Kali

As Rene Guenons useful term has it, almost all of what passes for esoteric training in the
contemporary world is actually counter-initiation in that it offers the outer surface of mysticism
but is hollow at its core. One example of this that comes to mind is the so-called Occulture which
reduces the actual practice of magic and mysticism to mere subcultural aesthetics and symbolic

There will be a new age of spiritual progress many thousands of years from now when this Kali
Yuga gives way to the next Golden Age. But as has happened endlessly before, a Golden Age always
devolves to a Silver Age and eventually back to another Kali Yuga, which will begin the whole absurd
cycle again. As with all conditioned phenomena in the realm of samsara, the only way out of this
recurring cycle of birth, decay, and inevitable death and rebirth is to break out of the karmic chain
that keeps us bound to this world once and for all. In fact, clinging to the utopian hope of some
universal spiritual revolution keeps the would-be initiate attached to this relative world and the
illusion of historical time. True initiation transcends place and time altogether.

We could discuss the rami cations of these abstract ideas forever. But in the long run, if theory
doesnt lead to practice, such concerns distract from initiation itself. What truly matters in any
situation is to get beyond discursive thought by developing the discipline to use every day wisely to
patiently meditate and re ne ones practice. To quote that great spiritual master Elvis Presleys
immortal words, too much conversation, not enough action.

Interview by FD Jalisco, 2007