Quote: “She knows she’s not real.”

Quote: “She knows she’s not real.” April 7, 2013

Someone in my UU discussion group shared this story today about a student who suffered from doubt over whether Kwan-Yin/Kannon/Tara actually exists. In frustration, he asked his teacher for help.  The lama closed his eyes for a few moments, then replied:

“She knows she’s not real.”

I wonder how this might apply to Pagan deities.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Love it.

  • In Buddhist, especially esoteric teachings, nothing is real, not Tara, nor you or me, nor any god or goddess, nor the reality we perceive around us. They are all “relatively real”. To quote a Zen phrase “If you see the Buddha on the road, kill him” because all is in the mind as a projection and not set into stone. But on the other hand is Tara or Odin “real”? Yes, if they are real in your reality. May i suggest research into the Madyamika system of Nagarjuna.

  • thalassa

    …I was going to post a response, but it got really long, so I just made a blog post!

  • They know they are not real. In this sentence, it is not so much about them not being real. They are still able to know and they know what they are.That’s the conundrum. And if they still know, they may still act, even if they are not real. But if they act, does that not make them real?

    It makes me think of that post ‘How Persephone killed the gods for me’ by B.T. Newberg. http://humanisticpaganism.com/2011/07/24/how-persephone-killed-the-gods-for-me/ Persephone told him to ““Let them die.” Yet, she had to be alive to be able to say this. She had to act. “How could it be that the goddess herself wanted me to disbelieve in gods?”

    What makes anything real? This experience was very real to B.T. Newberg, very vivid, very much alive. And the goddess spoke.

  • Maybe the gods just tell us what we need to hear.

  • Awesome!

    Reminds me of a story my husband told me. He was raised Zen Buddhist by his mother, and later became a Druid. When his mother asked him, “But do you believe the gods are real?” he replied, “Let’s just say… they’re as real as you and I are.” Which, of course, means something much different to a Zen Buddhist than it does to a hard polytheist Pagan. 😉

  • Whether they are real or not doesn’t necessarily matter. They can interact with us as if they were real, or they can influence us as abstracts. From that perspective, it is how we interact with them that matters.

    • I wonder about that. Saying that it doesn’t matter whether the gods are real or not is all well and fine, so long as you’re by yourself. The problem comes up when we try to relate to others’ experiences of the gods. This is something that I posted about previously here:
      If the gods are objectively real then we should experience them in the same way. (And I think the evidence shows that sometimes we do and sometimes we don’t.) If they’re only subjectively real, then how do we relate to each other’s experiences? What meaning does someone else’s experience have for us?

      • i just read that well written article and agree. In chakra terms its like the archetypal gods are in our Crown chakra or Kether and then through UPG of some shaman/ess thy come filter down to the Ajna chakra and then through their sharing this the people of their community decide that yes this is one of our gods, and thus they are born and die off and are born again in reconstruction. It even seems to be almost holographically embedded in thought forms and cultural group minds of the various races and cultures until even now when people are rediscovering these old gods. But then i also think (no, i am not an “ancient alien” whacko) that perhaps there are some real beings, whether we call them Nephilim, Watchers, aliens or angels who may have visited the planet and set themselves up as teachers of technology and knowledge, kinda like the Egyptian gods in the old Stargate series. But if they came, then now they are gone, or turned into god forms as archetypes as i mostly believe.

        • That’s interesting. Jung located the gods in the solar plexus, which he identified as the emotional centre and the earliest known localization of consciousness.

          • I am not a psychologist nor an expert on Jung, though i have read him decades ago. I was just visualizing how i think it all may work. Its a complex subject with many ideas from various viewpoints.

  • Anna Greenflame

    I don’t know. There are certainly mysteries here. When I began to embrace the Goddess back in the late 1990s, I had been exposed to “Celtic” based Wicca a bit years before, but was not impressed and not particularly interested in the Divine Feminine. That changed around 1998. Forced into solitude by a move to a small town and at a turning point relationship-wise, I began on a deep impulse to say the rosary each night as I walked my dog around downtown. I was not Catholic and kind of choked on some the words, being a New Thought Christian at the time, but I had to keep saying it. At the same time, I went to a beading class, another new endeavor, and ended up making a necklace with a pattern of blue, silver, and pearl beads in sevens interspersed with frosty blue beads shaped like fish. It was not really my style ; I was not sure why I chose those beads; and I rarely wore it, but kept it because of the investment of time and because, well, I just did.

    My life began to shift dramatically and in about a year, I found myself going to D.C. with a friend. I walked past a storefront with a huge, lifesized statue of the Virgin Mary in the window. Only She was a Black woman. The store was called a “botanica:” first time I ever heard that word. I knew that was Mary, but Someone even beyond Mary. At this same time, I met my husband, who was a Witch, and had a stack of books on Santeria and Lucumi. I met Yemaya and realized that the necklace I’d made the previous year or so was actually a perfect eleke for Her. And it became an offering to Her, and one of the first times I could say I had an authentic experience of the Goddess. Many years later, I’ve seen a thing or two, but that deep, archetypal impulse to make that necklace with those colors and patterns still has me shaking my head.

    • Anna, thank you for sharing your story. I experienced something similar myself, albeit to a lesser degree. When I left the faith of my childhood (Mormonism), which had taught me that there is a divine feminine, but would not let me speak of — much less pray to — her, I began a search for new symbols. I recognize it as such now, but at the time, I really couldn’t tell you what I was doing. I was especially drawn to paintings of the Madonna and Child by William Bouguereau which are both iconic and sensual in style. This was strange because Mary is not an important figure in Mormonism, which is very Protestant in its attitude toward the Theotokos. Anyway, later I realized that I was being drawn to imagery of the divine feminine that was absent from my childhood faith. I feel that Goddess was calling to me. It was not for several years that I would even hear that there was such a thing as Paganism or Goddess worship.