Making Merit

    Within the various interweaving strands of the Thai occult as illuminateed through the bold and groundbreaking hands-on work of Peter Jenx there can be found a seemingly endless variety of spirits, ghosts, amulets, lineages, and knowledge. These widely reaching and sometimes drastically differing techniques and teachings can, however, be linked by a metaphysical common denominator which not only creates a medium for the individual parts to interact seamlessly as one unified system, but additionally causes this overarching umbrella to become, at least generally speaking, benefic.

    Buddhism is that common denominator in many ways, but a specifically metaphysical analysis proves more effective for the purpose of identifying and rehabilitating of our own magical blind spots, the wounds we cannot see until reflecting back from outside our own culture and mindset.

    In Western Magic, meant primarily as shorthand for the colonizing world’ and it’s European tributaries’ magical descendants, can be found a historically clinical or transactional view of spirit interactions and magic, one which is likely an unfortunate artifact of both reductionist logic and materialist machine-world philosophy. Animist views are not entirely absent in the West, and far less so with the passing of recent years, though it still seems to be a far less relational, vulnerable, and cooperative modality which gets represented in our literature, teachings, and thinking when compared to those of cultures whose animist roots have remained intact as a part of both their philosophy and identity, such as with Thailand and Burma as represented in Jenx’s work, as in Japan with Shinto, or some of the later intrusions by the Roman Catholic church upon indigenous lifeways in which cases little was removed from the indigenous practices when compared to earlier crusades.

    In the case of the Thai occult there is one element which is so simple, so obvious once it has been understood, and so liberating once it has been employed, that one almost feels as if waking from a long dark dream, a pessimist’s facsimile of life. This single metaphysical component to the Thai occult systems can have such profound impacts on the individual that if one were to hypothesize that all those amulets were just a trick to seed the idea of this single element into the minds of Westerners through a trojan horse of desire, I would say amen and hallelujah.

The concept of Merit is not entirely foreign to us Westerners. The Catholic Church teaches that a reward in heaven is promised for meritorious works, however they unsurprisingly complicate things by breaking this down into three distinct types, getting together with Lutherans and arguing about it until the whole thing was presumably more trouble than it was ever worth to them. But the idea of good deeds as spiritual currency remains, well, meritorious.

We can find this concept employed as magical technology within prayers to the dead, Anima Sola, and in the invocations following Christian prayer and evocation which invoke the “Merits of Jesus Christ,” of which there are presumed to be a great many, in order to persuade and command spirits. When a spirit is being cajoled by Merits rather than offerings or even the blood of the Savior, this alone should inform us of the power and potency of this non-substance in the realm of spirit, and perhaps a renegotiation of our definition of “heaven” could assist us in providing the above Roman Catholic sentiment on the subject with some much needed immediacy of application. 

Heaven, when seen as an analog for the spirit realm which exists in, with, and through the physical (here in the present rather than in an abstraction of the future) becomes suddenly and miraculously liberated from inaction and comes to rest comfortably within a sound, living, active, and most importantly immediate mystical logic.

In the Thai occult and it’s “funny sort of Buddhism” as Jenx lovingly refers to it, the concept and practice of making Merit is central. Within an animist culture, where belief in the unseen is common, the idea of a spiritual record of one’s deeds would seem more tangible, less ethereal. Adding to that the Buddhist understanding of Karma places the idea of Merit further into the real world than you or I can likely comprehend.

I can recall, as a child, being in touch with my true heart’s desires. Mostly I wanted to help and be included. I wanted to give, to do good. It was simple. But over time the disenchanted denizens of the world impressed their ways upon me, seeding fear into my soil. Fear that a good deed unnoticed truly counts for nothing, and that generosity will be met with selfishness in equal measure as a rule.

To put it simply, the fear of getting fucked wormed its way into my heart.

The underlying and under examined materialist philosophy which supported these patterns of thought and action acted as a setting agent in the concrete wall so carefully constructed around a once generous soul. Because if nobody up there was keeping score, the whole thing was a damn wash. The same bureaucratic bone grinder that runs the human world must be in charge of the whole thing.

The thing about all this is, it’s fucking wrong.

If you don’t believe me, go do something nice for someone, go home to your altar, think of the good deed in your mind while pulling in a spirit friend, and offer the good deed to them. Feed the moment of the act to your spirit ally with a generous heart. Hold that shape for a moment and you will feel a response. Try it. Try it with your ancestors. Try it with the land spirits. The inherent truth in merit as spiritual currency is self evident in practice.

We live in one world, with each explanation for how it all works being its own sort of true. But here we have a clear an obvious universal metaphysical technology, one which shows up in multiple places and times and functions cross culturally and beyond borders of tradition or lifeways. The implications of this are staggering and liberating.

No longer does that voice in the back of my head that nags about getting either rewarded or screwed over have an audience with me. The rug has been swept clean out from under that prick, and he absolutely had it coming. The rug is rolling up around him in layer after layer of surrender and lovingkindness.

I encourage everyone to try this.

Go out on a limb: be kind.

Even if just to prove me wrong.