Religion in Vajhoros, II

Tulmnasproagmă – the kingdom of authority

Theory

A tulmăn, literally ‘authority’, is a spirit that has power over other spirits – this much is acknowledged throughout the vrtaikă religions, but of the nature, causes and significance of this power is given in each a different account.

In Vamagmrjioka, the spirit is seen as an active willing. Like all creation, it is an ’emanation’ of something underlying, on which it depends, and into which it may dissolve if it loses its defining ‘specificity’. An individual spirit is an emanation of a General Spirit, just as the General Spirit is itself an emanation (like Matter) of the underlying reality of creation. Specificity (or kanprotas, “standing apart”) is a feature not of an objective reality but of perception. The material world, continually perceived, is continually subject to specification (kantôunas, “taking and placing apart”), but an incorporeal spirit is kurmnustaj (‘sight-free’), specified only by the spirit itself. In an incorporeal spirit, then, kanprotas is solely the result of mvakantôunas, “self-picking-out”.

For most people, mvakantôunas is not optional. They are compelled to specify themselves in this way as a result of the human “self-concept” (provukă), which divides them from other human spirits. Crucially, provukă also explains the ‘limitation’ of the spirit within a single body – once a body is assumed, the spirit is unable to act on other bodies. One person cannot move another’s hand. This is because there is a close and unique relation between a spirit and a body, but also because one spirit cannot alter the constitution of another – it may alter it’s own nature (and hence its desires, as desire is its nature) but never another’s. This is part of what is meant by provukă – the General Spirit is divided into portions, each of which portion considers itself to be, and hence is, self-governing but never other-governing. When provukă is escaped, a spirit may ‘control’ (technically pakva, ‘grow out’ or ‘form’, the same term as is used of a gardener encouraging plants to grow up along rails or into particular shapes) others, because the self-imposed barrier between them is gone.

A tulmăn must therefore exist at a very particular part of a process. He (or occasionally she) must have renounced provukă successfully, and hence gained the ability to cease mvakantôunas, and they must also be incorporeal (i.e. dead) because otherwise they would be specified by others. However, they must have chosen to continue mvakantôunas – because otherwise they would have dissolved fully into the General Spirit, and would have no will of their own. The tulmân must have independent will and existence in order to exert pakvas, but they must not be bound by or subject to that independence.

Practice

How then may provukă be rejected, and tulmnas be obtained? There are two routes – the slow and the sudden. The slow route involves the gradual destruction of the self-concept through meditation, abnegation and empathy – and this is certainly possible. However, this route is so clearly arduous and unlikely that it cannot account for the plethora of known tulmnam, who must have attained their position by the sudden, and hence fortunate, route.

Tulmnas can be obtained suddenly when an individual undergoes a single moment of total self-disregard, a moment in which there is no self-concept. If this moment occurs at or shortly before death, the state of tulmnas can endure perpetually, with no new sources of self-interest entering in. Others may preserve their state of aprovukă (lack of self-concept) for some time, although often it results in death by starvation. It may be that many people attain aprovukă, only to lose it when they do not die on the spot – it is commonly believed, for instance, that the moment of orgasm grants aprovukă, and that those who die during orgasm become tulmnam.

In general, tulmnam attain their station either through obsession or through sacrifice. In the latter category fall war heroes and others who are willing to throw away their lives for others – although most do not attain this station, finding their thoughts infected by self-concept (perhaps through notions of pride or duty) even at this time. Some suicides are considered to attain aprovukă, where the suicide had no element of self-pity, self-loathing or despair – politicians who commit suicide to avoid harm coming to their families, for instance. In the former category come those few artists and craftsmen who become so devoted to their trade that they lose all thought for themselves, and die in moments of complete involvement.

Status

The tulmăn is immensely important in Vamagmrjioka – yet the attainment of sainthood is not. This is partly for ideological reasons – the pursuit of sainthood is often regarded as disqualifying a person from the attainment of it, if not universally then at least in general. Mostly, however, political motives encourage the downgrading of this goal, in response to the disorder and unrest that has historically arisen from over-powerful saint cults and become-a-saint cults. Emphasis is thus placed on the unpredictability of aprovukă, which no method can guarrentee, and those groups that pursue it in an organised fashion are marginalized. However, in the current religious environment many small such cults are returning to the cities, where they do battle with foreign religions for the spirits of the restless middle classes.

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